Cliftonville

Solitude

Capacity: 8,000 (Seats 3,000)
Address: Cliftonville Street, Belfast, BT14 6LP
Telephone: 028 3832 6815
Fax: 028 3844 1583
Pitch Size: 135 x 72 yards
Club Nickname: The Reds
Year Ground Opened: 1890
Home Kit: Red and White

Main Stand
Main Stand
Home End
Home End
Away End
Away End
Unused Side
Unused Side
Solitude
Solitude
Solitude Ulster Groundhop

Solitute is hidden amongst the residential area of Cliftonville, two miles north of Belfast City Centre. The main entrance and turnstiles are located at the rear of the red bricked Main Stand, which lies at the end of three Victorian terrace streets, Cliftonville Drive, Cliftonville Parade and Cliftonville Street. The ground has undergone a transformation in the last few years. The imposing Main Stand on the south side dominates the ground, a steep seated tier of 1,000 seats gives a good elevated view of the pitch, however there are a couple of columns and floodlight poles which may impede your view. To the front of this stand that was built in the 1950's, is a narrow standing area in front of the stand with a limited amount of shelter. To the right of the Main Stand, in the south south-east corner is the two storey social club with its sheltered viewing balcony, with the players and official dressing rooms directly beneath. Known to fans as the 'Whitehouse' it is a unusual feature of the ground.

The East side of the ground was, until recently, occupied by an old fashioned terrace, with a low cover taking up the length of the penalty area. This cover had a number of columns, and a metal front to stop stray balls going into the crowd, giving the stand the name 'the cage'. However the stand was demolished in late 2007 to make way for the new stand. This impressive new structure, opened for home fans in 2008, has around 1,200 red plastic seats with 'THE REDS' spelt out in white seats, under a cantilever roof with angular screen ends. There is a stadium control box at the rear of the northern end, and a low enclosure for disabled supporters to one  side of the goal line. Every seat in the stand offers an excellent unobstructed view of the pitch, though as with all new seated stands, the roof line is too high to offer rainfall shelter to the seats in the bottom few rows. 

Looking directly across the pitch from the Main Stand there is currently a shallow grass verge on the North side of the ground, which was originally a covered terrace until a fire closed this side of the ground. The distant view of Cliff Hill gives the ground a windswept and exposed appearance. Behind the goal to the left is the new away supporters stand on the west side of the ground. This 800 seat stand with its modern cantilever roof is much lower than the covered terrace and Main Stand, giving Solitude a slightly unbalanced look. The ground has an artificial playing surface.

The Solitude ground was opened in 1890, making it the oldest surviving football ground in Irish football. Whilst Cliftonville Football Club who were formed in 1879 and are also the oldest football club in Ireland.

The Club have received planning permission to replace the Main Stand with a new structure. The new stand would have a single tier of 1,128 seats, whilst above and behind there will be a taller structure which would house the club offices and other amenities. It is hoped that works can begin in 2017.

Turnstiles for the away supporters stand are to the far left of the Main Stand, at the end of Cliftonville Drive. The away supporters stand formed the first phase of redevelopment works at the ground when it was completed a few years ago. The stand has 800 seats on a single tier of red plastic seats. The view over the top of the new pitch side fencing is unobstructed but since the cantilever roof is pitched upwards it provides little cover in rainfall. The atmosphere can be a little bit strange, since at present there is considerable distance between the home and away supporters at either end of the ground, no doubt this will improve if and when the ground is completed.

There is a Social Club at the ground (situated under the Main Stand) which normally welcomes away fans for most fixtures. Otherwise there is not much else within the vicinity of the ground so probably best to stick to the City Centre.

If you require hotel accommodation in the area then first try a hotel booking service provided by Late Rooms. They offer all types of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets from; Budget Hotels, Traditional Bed & Breakfast establishments to Five Star Hotels and Serviced Apartments. Plus their booking system is straightforward and easy to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will go to help with the running costs of keeping the Guide going.

Access their Belfast Hotels pages.

Remember that you can use the above link or panel below to book any other hotels that you may need for business or leisure, either in Northern Ireland or elsewhere.

From Ballymena, Antrim and the North
Follow the A6 Antrim Road into North Belfast. At the Belfast Royal Academy College turn right  into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.  

From Lisburn, Portadown and the South
Follow the M1 into South Belfast Junction 1.At the roundabout continue into the A12 Westlink road, then turn off towards the A6/A52 Junction. At the Carlisle Circle roundabout take a right turn into the A6 Antrim Road.Follow the road north, and turn left into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.       

From Bangor & Newtonards
Take the A2 Sydenham Bypass into East Belfast. Follow onto the M3, as the road passes over the river Lagan, turn off into Great Georges Street. Follow the road onto the A12 West Link then turn off, taking a right turn towards the A6/A52 Junction. At the Carlisle Circle roundabout take a right turn into the A6 Antrim Road. Follow the road north, and turn left into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.

The ground is approx 1.5 miles north of Yorkgate Railway Station, which is on the Belfast Central to Larne line, however for those arriving at either Belfast Central or Belfast Great Victoria Street Railway Station and Europa Bus Station, catch Metro bus 12A (Oldpark Road) from Donegal Square North, opposite Belfast City Hall.  Directions from Yorkgate station to Solitude:

At the station exit turn left into the A2 York Street. Cross over the road and take the first right turn  into Brougham Street. At the next junction continue into Duncairn Gardens. At the end of the road  take a left turn into the A6 Antrim Road, then turn right into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is  on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.   

Arriving in Belfast at Great Victoria Street Railway Station and Europa Bus Station
The ground is around 20-30 minutes walk north of the station and city centre, however, for those  that would like to visit Belfast City Centre before the game, when you come out of the bus station  concourse / retail shops turn left, past the opera house, and take a right turn into Howard Street. This will lead you towards City Hall and the shops and restaurants in the heart of the City.

From City Hall you have the option of either taking a taxi to the ground or catching Metro Bus  12A from Donegal Square North, opposite Belfast City Hall. This bus travels along Donegall Place,  Clifton Street, Antrim Road and Cliftonville Road with the ground appearing on the right hand side   after a 15 minute journey.   Walking directions from Belfast City Hall:

For those who would prefer a brisk 20-30 minute walk, from City Hall walk past McDonalds up  Donegall Place, shortly after the road kinks to the right, take a left turn into Donegall Street, cross  into Clifton Street, and shortly after the road goes over the A12 westlink, take a right turn at the   roundabout into Antrim Road. Take a left turn into Cliftonville Road, the ground entrance appears   on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street. 

Adults £9
Under 16's £5

Official Matchday Programme: £2

 

Belfast Premier League clubs Crusaders, Linfield and Glentoran.

Northern Ireland Premier league fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website).

2015-2016: 1,206 (Premier League)

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, then please e-mail me at: duncan@footballgrounds.net and I'll update the guide.

Special thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the photos and stadium layout plan of the Solitude Ground Cliftonville.

The Solitude Cliftonville FC video was produced by the Ulster Groundhopper and made publicly available via YouTube.

Cliftonville v Linfield
Danske Bank Premiership
Saturday 29th April 2017, 3pm
Carl Murray (Neutral fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Solitude Ground?

A planned trip to my brother in Bangor coincided with a Cliftonville home game so it was an ideal chance to experience football in Northern Ireland for the first time, especially as it was the Belfast classico. Turns out it was a League decider as well. Linfield just needed a point to clinch the championship.

Cliftonville Football Club MuralHow easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

My brother knew the way so it wasn't an issue, street parking which wasn't too much hassle either, so he said anyway.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

Considering it's something of a high-risk game in Northern Ireland both sets of fans were kept apart so I didn't see any hassle before the game. Things did get tasty during the match but nothing too serious. Didn't have time for a pre-match pint, as usual.

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

Most football grounds in the island of Ireland aren't in great shape but they are all unique. Ireland has yet to be infiltrated with Leicester/Southampton uniform type stadiums, and Solitude is no different. We entered just to the left of center at the Main Stand which gives you access to both the Main Stand itself and the McAlery (Home) Stand. The Main Stand dates back to the 1950's and looks it, however, I subsequently found out it is due to be replaced this year. The McAlery Stand, to the right, is the newest part of the ground and looks well. The Linfield fans were in the Bowling Green End to the left which again is fairly modern, if a little basic. The side opposite the Main Side only contains a small stand for wheelchair users and the team dugouts.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Both sides emerge from the McAlery Stand and unusually lined up in front of it too and not facing the cameras which are on the unused side. Some brave/stupid/naive Linfield fans tried to sit, unnoticed, in the home end as they couldn't get tickets for the away end. They were quickly spotted by the home fans who let their feelings known to the stewards as well as the fans themselves. About 10 mins into the game the Linfield fans were removed much to the delight of the home fans however one lad couldn't resist showing his colours as he was leaving which prompted a bit of scuffling with the home fans and the stewards. Aside from that, the atmosphere was a little quiet, to begin with, which given the importance of the game and the fact that it's arguably Belfast's biggest rivalry was a surprise.

The game itself, tight enough to begin with but halfway through the first half Daniel Hughes gave Cliftonville the lead and the home side could have doubled their lead but for a decent save from Roy Carroll (Yeah, that one). Early in the second half Andrew Waterworth equalized with a messy enough goal, put the Blues in the lead with a great solo effort about five minutes later and added a penalty before the hour to secure the win and title for Linfield. The stadium announcer advised that if anyone went on the pitch at the end there would be no trophy presentation which everyone was happy to comply with. Actually, the funniest part of the day was the groan from the Reds fans when it was announced that the bar was only open to fans in the Main Stand and not in the McAlery Stand, which seriously amused the patrons in the Main Stand.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

The away fans were kept behind which I doubt they had too much of an issue with considering Linfield were presented with the trophy. The rest of us (including the players) slinked off, although it should be noted a lot of Cliftonville fans did applaud the Linfield players.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

It was a good day out at Solitude. It would have been better if I had a beer though. Plenty to remember, but wouldn't exactly bust a gut to go back though.

Why not write your own review of the Solitude Ground Cliftonville and have it included in the Guide? Find out more about submitting a Fans Football Ground Review.

Updated 13th June 2017

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If you enjoy using this Guide and have found it useful, then please feel free to show your appreciation by buying Duncan the author of the Guide a pint

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