One of the most iconic old stadiums in British football, or within the sport of rugby for that matter, is Ashton Gate in Bristol.
The home of Bristol City has seen some great action over the years but all too seldom has it hosted top-level football, something the club are looking to rectify in the coming years with the stadium now very much up to scratch for the modern-day.
The stadium sits in the south-west of Bristol, just two miles from the centre of the city.
Ashton Gate was opened in 1887 to accommodate Bedminster Football Club. Bedminster played here until 1900 by which time they merged with Bristol South End to form Bristol City, playing at South End’s ground of St John’s Lane for four years. In 2004, Bristol City moved into Ashton Gate and have been there ever since.
Rugby has always been big in Bristol as well as football, with Ashton Gate playing its part in the sport down the years.
Bristol Rugby Club played here numerous times from the ’20s onwards, with Bristol Bears as they are now known having played at Ashton Gate since 2014 on a more permanent basis.
One of several football clubs to have been denied permission to build a new ground, Bristol City has pressed on a number of times over the years with redevelopment work at Ashton Gate.
Between May 2014 and the beginning of the 2016/17 season, the stadium changed completely. The Williams and Wedlock stands were demolished and replaced by larger structures featuring executive boxes.
The Dolman Stand was extended with the pitch moved by five metres to accommodate the work and solar panelling installed to allow the stadium to produce its own energy.
Ashton Gate Stats
Ashton Gate has been on the sporting scene for over 130 years and remains one of the most recognisable grounds in the country.
One capable of producing a wonderful atmosphere, even in the modern all-seated era, the stadium is put together by the following things:
- Capacity: 27,000
- Record Attendance: 43,335 (Bristol City v Preston North End, 1935)
- Pitch: 105m x 69m, made up of a DessoGrassmaster surface
- Stands: Lansdown Stand, Dolman Stand, Atyeo Stand and the South Stand.
Memorable Moments at Ashton Gate
While it has been mostly about the football here, some top rugby internationals have also been staged at Ashton Gate.
England v Wales was played here in 1899, and a full century later in the 1999 Rugby World Cup, New Zealand beat Tonga on this ground.
Well supported over the years has been England’s under-21 team when they have visited Bristol. Matches against Romania in 2007 in front of 18,000 people and the win against Uzbekistan in 2010 were memorable moments for local fans.
Naturally, however, the best scenes have been created here by Bristol City. In the past ten years or so alone City has created some huge memories.
When embroiled in a relegation battle with Coventry City in the Championship in 2012, the two played each other here in what was classed as a “must-win” for the home side. In a white-hot atmosphere, Bristol City beat Coventry 3-1 to give themselves a huge boost.
Having gone down to League One, Bristol City needed a quick return and after a title-winning season, they were set to lift the trophy and hopefully reach 99 points on their own patch against Walsall in May 2015.
Not only did the Ashton Gate crowd witness one last win and the title celebrations, but the home side battered Walsall 8-2 on the day in one of the most memorable performances by a Robins team ever.
In 2017, Bristol City embarked on a fine run in the League Cup and met Manchester United at Ashton Gate in December of that year in a hugely anticipated quarter-final tie that.
Against all the odds, the Robins landed a famous 2-1 win against Man United to record possibly one of the biggest results in the history of the club. In knocking out the defending champions and 13-time Premier League winners, City reached the semi-finals where they played Manchester City.
The result was achieved via a 93rd-minute goal from Korey Smith, something that raised the roof at Ashton Gate as 26,088 people celebrated wildly one of the best moments ever at the club.
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