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League Two Lowdown: Cheltenham

22 July 2013

Our look at Pompey's League Two opponents continues with the Robins

Meetings with Pompey
Cheltenham will take on the Blues for the first time in any competition during the 2013/14 season.

Cheltenham history
For a club that have been around since 1887, Cheltenham’s journey to league football was certainly a long one.

They spent their first three decades playing local football after being formed by teacher Albert Close White.

Trials were held at the East Gloucestershire Cricket Ground and the earliest recorded match took place against Dean Close School on March 12 1892.

It was not until the early 1930s that the Robins turned professional, joining the Birmingham Combination and later the Southern League.

They played at three different grounds before moving to their current Whaddon Road home in 1932.

Cheltenham remained in the Southern League for more than 50 years before winning promotion to the Conference in 1985. But success was comparatively fleeting and they were relegated in 1992.

The revolution was ultimately inspired by a man Pompey fans would become well acquainted with many years later.

Steve Cotterill took charge in 1996 and guided the Robins back to the Conference in his first season. They only finished second in the Dr Martens League, but the ground of champions Gresley Rovers was not up to scratch.

Cheltenham made the most of their good fortune and were finally promoted into the Football League for the first time in 1999. 

They had already signalled their intentions 12 months earlier by beating Southport to lift the FA Trophy at Wembley – with 19,000 of the 27,000 crowd cheering on the Robins – and finishing as runners-up in the league.

Cotterill enhanced his growing reputation by leading his side to promotion to League One in 2002, following play-off success against Rushden & Diamonds.

But he left shortly afterwards and a final day defeat to Notts County sent Cheltenham straight back to the bottom tier at the first time of asking.

They went back up – again via the play-offs – in 2007, although after three seasons of struggle they were back in League Two.

Cheltenham present
The Robins followed up their most recent relegation by almost dropping out of the league altogether, although they eventually finished four points above the drop zone in 2010.

That was immediately followed by a 17th-placed finish, while the next season saw a dramatic upturn.

Cheltenham earned a money-spinning FA Cup third round trip to Tottenham and reached the play-off final before eventually going down to Crewe.

There was more play-off heartache last term, with the Robins losing to Northampton over two legs after finishing fifth.

Information for Pompey fans
Pompey fans will be housed in the Hazlewoods Stand, which holds just over 1,100 people, although the In2Print Stand has also been used to house away supporters.

A trip to Whaddon Road – known as The Abbey Business Stadium for sponsorship purposes – provides a chance to tick another ground off the list for Blues followers, who will enjoy the picturesque Cotswolds setting.

Apart from the many pubs and food shops in the town centre, there is a club bar at the ground called Robin’s Nest. It generally admits a small number of away fans for a small fee, although with the size of Pompey’s away support, it would probably be wiser to look further afield.

The Parklands Social Club is located near the ground and also offers matchday car parking for £4. The Sudeley Arms and The Conservatory on Prestbury Road are a 10-minute walk away and a chip shop sits conveniently the two.

Travelling by road
Postcode: GL52 5NA
Distance from Fratton Park: 116.2 miles
Estimated drive time: 2 hours 24 minutes

Leave the M4 at Junction 15 then take the third exit off the Badbury roundabout onto the A419. Continue past the Commonhead junction and the Driffield junction before taking the second exit at the roundabout onto the A417. After passing the Air Balloon pub, take the second exit at the roundabout onto the A436. After two-and-a-half miles take the first exit at the roundabout onto the A436 then immediately take the first exit at the next roundabout onto the A435. Bear left onto the A40 at the traffic signals then turn right onto Hales Road (B4075). Continue forward over the mini-roundabout before turning left onto Whaddon Road.

Travelling by train
Cheltenham station is more than two miles from Whaddon Road. The ‘D’ bus will take you to the town centre (15 minute walk from the ground) or the ‘A’ bus will take you to the ground. 

The train journey takes approximately three hours and 12 minutes with a change at Bristol Temple Mead, with a standard adult fare priced £45.50.

League Two fixtures
Cheltenham v Pompey: Saturday, September 7 (3pm)
Pompey v Cheltenham: Saturday, March 8 (3pm)

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