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Ashton Gate
Bristol City v Swindon Town
League One
Saturday, March 15th 2014, 3pm
Ronan Howard

(Swindon Town fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

The previous Saturdays disappointing performance against MK Dons had put the play-offs out of reach, so I was just looking forward to a local derby, and the bragging rights attached to it (result depending). Our form of late has been terrible but you never know with a derby, and even if there was little chance of going up or down this season, it would be nice to get one over on our friends down the M4.

Plus it was going to be a short trip and there also some great pubs in Bristol. Also Swindon would be  bringing around 2000 supporters to the game, so would hopefully it was going to be a good day out even if we didn’t get the right result. 

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

We got a direct train from Swindon to Bristol Temple Meads. Which took 45 minutes, where we alighted to take on some ale. It was then  another five minutes by train to Parsons Street and then around 15 minute walk to the ground. Pretty simple really.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Aside from the footballing rivalry, I do like Bristol as a city and know it pretty well from numerous other trips. We decided to take a walk from Temple Meads to the city centre, which has a good selection of decent pubs. Pubs closer to the Ashton Gate Football Ground are best avoided. Head straight out the main entrance of the station, up to the top of the road and turn right, head straight on passing Mary Redcliffe Church, take the bridge over the river and first right onto Welshback and there’ll be several pubs available; the Llandoger Trow, Dukes, the Apple, King William etc.. Had a couple in the Apple, fantastic bar on a barge with a great range of ciders. Have been many  times but always good to see it this time of year rather than in Winter when it doesn’t hold quite the same appeal.

Thirst suitably quenched it was time to take the ten minute back up to Temple Meads and the five minute train journey to Parsons Street, then on to the ground. Wouldn’t suggest walking to the ground from Temple Meads as would take the best part of an hour, and for anyone not familiar with Bristol, getting lost on the way is not inconceivable (anything off the main roads south of the river in Bristol and you quickly run out of landmarks as it’s largely residential).

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Have been before and it hasn’t changed much if at all. Understand there are plans to revamp the ground but no evidence of this as yet.

The ground itself is functional enough, with one modern stand and a few more fairly old ones (not too dissimilar from our own County Ground, on a larger scale). Being in the old Wedlock Stand behind the goal it wasn’t the most comfortable and didn’t provide the best of views – as a local derby (our only one in the league this season) this was always a must attend away day but for a team with no rivalry with City, it may not hold the same appeal.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

The game was a suitably nervous affair early on. We’d got into a decent rhythm in the first half, and went in 0-0 at half time. Unfortunately following a foul after the restart, town’s Alex Pritchard reacted in a profoundly silly manner in pushing the City player over and earned himself a straight red. It was always going to be difficult after this, and we had a lot of pressure from them on till the end of the game, but fortunately Swindon put in a stoic defensive display to earn a point after withstanding some chances from City (and creating one or two of our own. Honours even after six minutes of stoppage time, and I don’t think either set of supporters went away too disappointed with the result.

With a reasonably big crowd there was a decent atmosphere generated by both sides, with some banter but nothing too vicious (local rivals but both teams have bigger fish to fry when it comes to derby games, Oxford in our case, Rovers and Cardiff in theirs) – it never looked like getting out of hand and I personally didn’t see any trouble.

Facilities at the ground are basic as you would expect from an older stand and the toilets were functional. The stewards let us stand and make some noise without being over the top as at some grounds I’ve been too – no complaints.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Walk back up the Parsons Train station was fine. But we then waited for around 40 minutes for a train which ended up being absolutely rammed. Once back at Temple Meads the journey back to Swindon was quick and painless

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Lovely time in the Bristol sunshine pre match, relatively easy trip, decent game if not a classic by any means, good day out all round.

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