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League Two Lowdown: Bristol Rovers

30 June 2013

Our look at Pompey's opponents continues with the Pirates

Meetings with Pompey
Goals from J. Love Jones and Lionel Louch saw Pompey win their first ever meeting with Bristol Rovers in the first round of the FA Cup in January 1912.

It was the first of 34 clashes spanning 81 years. The most recent was in 1993, with goals from Bjorn Kristensen and Guy Whittingham earning the Blues a 2-1 victory at Twerton Park.

The last fixture at Fratton Park was earlier in the same season and Pompey’s current manager hit all four goals in a Boxing Day win.

One of the more poignant meetings was in November 1982. The game, played at a rain-lashed Eastville, came five days after the death of Jimmy Dickinson, although the Blues were unable to provide a fitting tribute, crashing to a 5-1 defeat.

The sides faced off at Ashton Gate in the League Cup in 1980 after the South Stand at Eastville had been ravaged by a fire. Following a goalless draw, Pompey won the replay 2-0 to set up a fourth round tie against reigning league champions Liverpool at Anfield.

Bristol Rovers also visited Fratton Park in April 1978, although Millwall were the opponents as the Londoners were forced to play away from The Den because of crowd trouble and the authorities picked Pompey’s home as the venue.

Pompey will play Rovers at the Memorial Stadium this season having previously visited Eastville, Twerton Park and Ashton Gate to take on the Pirates. But the club hope to move into a new 21,700-capacity stadium for the start of the 2015/16 campaign.


Bristol Rovers history
The club formerly known as the Black Arabs, Eastville Rovers and Bristol Eastville Rovers becamse Bristol Rovers in 1899. They participated in the Southern League for the next 20 years and were champions in 1905.

Rovers joined the Football League in 1920, beginning in Division Three (South) and staying there for more than 30 years.

They have never played top-flight football with a highest ever position of sixth in what is now the Championship. They achieved this feat in 1956 – when they were just four points off promotion – and 1959.

The club are known as the Pirates because of Bristol’s maritime history and also the Gas, which refers to the gasworks situated outside their former Eastville home.

Financial problems forced them to leave Eastville after 89 years in 1986 and they played outside the city at Bath’s Twerton Park for 10 years before moving to the Memorial Stadium, which they share with Bristol Rugby Club. Rovers were initially tenants, but bought the ground in 1998.


Bristol Rovers present
The last few years have seen Rovers struggle. They had never played in the fourth tier of English football until the 21st century, but almost fell out of the Football League in 2002.

They finished second bottom ahead of Halifax that year and the same position 12 months later would have been catastrophic, with the league having adopted two relegation places.

Rovers continued to battle against the drop, but reached the play-offs in 2007 and returned to League One after beating Shrewsbury 3-1 at Wembley, with former Blues star Sammy Igoe among the goalscorers.

They were relegated back into League Two in 2011 and finished 14th in the table last term.


Information for Pompey fans
Pompey supporters will either be housed in the open East Stand terrace or in the South Stand. Up to 1,100 fans can accommodated in this section of the 11,916-capacity stadium. Some seats may also be available in the South Stand.

There is a bar behind the clubhouse terrace that generally admits away fans, although alcohol will not be available to Pompey fans inside the stadium.

Popular nearby pubs include The Annexe Inn, the Sportsman, The Inn on the Green, The Gloucester and The Wellington.


Travelling by road
Postcode: BS7 0BF
Distance from Fratton Park: 121.8 miles
Estimated drive time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

Exit the M4 at Junction 19 and join the M32. Travel along the M32 for three miles and exit at Junction 2. Exit the motorway and take the third exit signposted Horfield and Southmead. Go straight over the roundabout following signs for The Memorial Stadium. Join Muller Road and continue along for 1.4 miles until you come to signal-controlled crossroads. Turn left into Filton Avenue and the ground is located on the left.


Travelling by train
Filton Abbey Wood is a 25-minute walk from the ground, with Bristol Temple Meads slightly further away.

The journey from Portsmouth to Bristol Temple Meads lasts approximately two hours and 20 minutes, with a standard adult fare of £43.50.


League Two fixtures
Bristol Rovers v Pompey: Saturday, December 21 (3pm kick-off)
Pompey v Bristol Rovers: Saturday, April 19 (3pm kick-off)

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