Opponents: Bristol City
Date: Monday 2 April | Kick-off: 3pm
Capacity: 27,000 | Post code for sat-nav: BS3 2EJ
Opened in 1887 – a full seven years prior to Bristol City’s founding as Bristol South End in 1894 - Ashton Gate was built just a mile from the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge as the home of Bedminster FC.
Three years later, the initial tenants ceased to exist following a merger with South End. Now referred to as Bristol City after turning professional, it was to be four years before the new club would return to BS3 in 1904.
In The Robins’ second season at their new permanent home they were promoted from Division Two after finishing four points clear of Manchester United, but other than a few sporadic stints over the years, Ashton Gate has largely played host to fixtures below the country’s top flight.
That’s not to say the stadium would look out of place in the Premier League. Following a failed bid to construct a new ground at Ashton Vale, the club decided in 2013 that the most suitable plan was to engage in a large-scale redevelopment of Ashton Gate, which was completed prior to the 2016/17 campaign. The Wedlock and Williams Stands were demolished in the process of this plan, while the Atyeo and Dolman Stands – named after a legendary striker and former club president, respectively – were modernised.
Two brand new stands were constructed in order to complete the work at Ashton Gate: the South Stand and the enormous Lansdown Stand, which is named after majority shareholder,, Stephen Lansdown.
The Bees haven’t lost to Bristol City since an early Phil Jevons penalty settled a League One tie at Ashton Gate in March 2007, while Dean Smith’s men boast a record of five wins from the previous seven meetings between the two clubs.
Did you know?
While it’s the home of two professional football clubs, the city of Bristol also has a rich rugby history and, in 2006, Bristol Rugby – now fellow tenants of Ashton Gate – played local rivals Bath at the stadium, setting an attendance record for a Premiership game outside of Twickenham.
How to get there:
Ashton Gate is 113 miles from Griffin Park using the M4. Should drivers opt for this route to the stadium, they should exit at junction 19 on to the M32 towards Bristol, before continuing on the A4032. Turn left at A4044/Bond Street. Continue to follow A4044. At Temple Circus Gyratory, take the second exit on to A4/Templegate. At the roundabout, take the second exit on to A370/York Road. Continue to follow A370, go through one roundabout and then take a slight left to merge onto Brunel Way, before taking the next left at traffic lights for Ashton Gate. This route directs through Bristol city centre and journey time can be significantly increased due to traffic. Travelling along the Portway via the M5 is often considerably quicker. For the Portway, leave the M4 at junction 20 and join the M5 southbound, then take the following directions for M5. Leave the M5 motorway at junction 18, travel along the Portway (A4) following the signs for Bristol Airport/Taunton (A38). Over the swing bridge (Brunel Way), branching left into Winterstoke Road, and left again at the traffic lights for Ashton Gate.
Ashton Gate is one of the Championship’s least accessible venues in terms of parking in the immediate area surrounding the ground, though limited spaces are available in the Ashton Vale Road industrial estate and at Bedminster Cricket Club – five-to-ten minutes’ walk from the ground - for a fee of £5. Fans are advised to park at the multi-storey car-park in the city centre and either take a taxi to the stadium or one of three specialised shuttle bus services that run from the approach road to Bristol Temple Meads station directly to Ashton Gate, costing £3 return.
With the game scheduled for Easter Monday, there is a reduced service on Great Western Railway services departing from Bristol Parkway, where usual connections to Temple Meads are picked up. There will be, however, rail replacements buses in operation, which take 30 minutes to travel between the two stations, with a super off-peak ticket from London Paddington costing £59.50 for adults and £29.75 for children.
Where to eat/drink:
You’d struggle to find an establishment with a better reputation among cider connoisseurs than the Orchard at Hanover Place on Harbourside, which was once selected at the top cider pub in Britain and has anything up to 24 different ciders available at any one time.
If you’re after variety, another location to look out for is the King Street Brew House, a city centre microbrewery. Just a brisk walk from Temple Meads station, the spacious site has 18 individual beers on tap, shows Sky Sports and serves food from lunchtime onwards.
Further recommendations include the Nova Scotia and the Rose of Denmark, which are both close to the waterfront and around a 15-minute walk from the stadium. Knights Templar - the town’s Wetherspoons – is two minutes from Temple Meads and Tobacco House on Raleigh Road is worth a visit, too. There are several pubs – including the Hen & Chicken and the BS3 Bar – which are designated for home fans and should be avoided, though signs are visible to detract potential away fans from entering where they aren’t welcome.