Weekend out West

Saturday 21st November 2015 – Bristol City 1 – 1 Hull City AFC

Championship @ Ashton Gate, Bristol

“Who put the ball in Bristol’s net? Who put the ball in Bristol’s net? Who put the ball in Bristol’s net? SUPER DEANO WINDASS!”

Originally this one had good intentions. Train to Bristol from London in the morning. Couple of pints. Watch the match. Then home. But then Sky moved it to a lunchtime, and bar stowing away on a freight train, travel was impossible. So a weekend was spent with old uni friends now residing in the city. Which meant Saturday morning was spent with a raging hangover. I only had 4 pints. Of cider. 8% proof cider. Getting old….

Bristol – the land of Brunel, a great massive bridge, and too many pubs. And we once beat them at Wembley to reach the Premier League. I was looking forward to this one.

My first, and only, visit to Ashton Gate came in that promotion winning season; a 2-1 defeat which saw the home side move top and Hull slip out of the playoff positions. The place was ramshackle and had a lower league feel to it. Both sides have moved on, in different directions, since then, but so has Ashton Gate, which whilst still looked traditional from the outside, has been subject to some serious renovation inside.

The aforementioned hangover coupled with the early kick off meant that the pub would always be a stretch. Ashton Gate is a couple of miles on foot from Temple Meads train station, and further still from my digs that weekend off Gloucester Road. Breakfast was however had at an agreeable ‘spoons close to the station, The Knights Templar, which was very popular with the home support.

We got a cab to the ground. The temperature that day was akin to a winter’s evening on Hoth, so the concourse was very welcome after ten minutes stood outside for our contact to arrive with the match tickets. The concourse isn’t too bad; spacious and with an upstairs and downstairs kiosk, serving the usual football fare.

Back to that redevelopment. On my last visit, I recall the away end being a single tier, and a slightly dilapidated, home stand to the left. The away end is now a steeping slope (home fans at the left, away fans to the right) with a building site where another large stand will sit in the future. Clearly this is being built with aspirations for the top division, and when completed, I think it will resemble Stoke’s Britannia, just with more of the corners filled in. Slightly odd watching a match with diggers and skips in the corner of your eye, and surreal seeing ball boys with hard hats also.

IMG_1288 IMG_1286

The early kick-off, coupled with the impossibility of reaching Bristol from Hull on the train, the distance in general, and the match being on TV, meant there was a flat atmosphere that day. A couple of chants started up in the away end, but in truth it was the wrong kind of crowd. The home fans were however noisy, buoyed by The Wurzels blasting out as the teams entered the pitch.

The first half was pretty scrappy, with Hull enjoying possession but seemingly giving the ball away at every available opportunity. It ended 1-0 to the home side, which was neither harsh nor deserved. Of note for Hull, Michael Dawson succumbed to injury (which was to prove unfortunate in later matches) and (Big) Harry Maguire nearly scored a pearler.

Hull continued to dominate possession in the second half, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Maloney (replacing Akpom, who promptly stropped off the pitch and hurled his gloves away from the dugout) when an equalizer was forthcoming, slotting home after a neat pass from Diame, with celebrations in front of the away end. I think it should be compulsory that all of our celebrations should feature ex-Tiger and kitman John Eyre, who was mobbed by the players.

Bristol never looked like scoring after their goal, and nor did Hull after the equalizer. 1-1 was therefore a fair result, albeit a frustrating one, and one which featured some unfortunate injuries.

Several establishments were visited post-match; in a way this away day was done the wrong way round. But would recommend the following, and have included all three in ‘Worth a sup…‘ should you visit Ashton Gate:

  • The Pump House – situated on the docks around 10 minutes from the ground. Gastropub in essence, but pleasant place for a pint, serving real ale, local ciders, and surprising array of gins;
  • The Mardyke – a surprise choice given this would be deemed by some to be a normal pub. Serves cans as well as pints, this place has a cracking juke box, football on the TVs, and is about 15 minutes from Ashton Gate;
  • Small Bar – more in the centre than near the ground, so you will need to get a cab if you decide not to embrace the 20-25 minute walk. Bit of a Bristol institution, serving a large range of craft beers, and good food.

A good day out despite the result; Ashton Gate may have lost a bit of its old school charm, but it will be an impressive place to spend your Saturday afternoons once the redevelopment is complete. Just go easy on the cider if you are not a local…!

Would be wrong to end a match report on Bristol City without including this for good measure..



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