Eastville Stadium in 1986
|Town or city||Bristol|
|Client||Bristol Rovers F.C.|
Constructed in 1897, it was the home of Bristol Rovers F.C., the Bristol Bulldogs speedway team and was also a greyhound racing venue. During 1986 it was also the home of the short-lived Bristol Bombers American football team.
Rovers played their home games at Eastville (nicknamed "The Ville") until forced to leave by financial difficulties in 1986. Rovers then spent a decade at Twerton Park in Bath before returning to the city to play at the Memorial Stadium where they remain to this day. The record attendance was 39,462.
The stadium still held greyhound racing until 1997, before being demolished in 1998 to make way for an IKEA superstore.
Built near to a gas holder, the constant smell of town gas in the air gave rise to the name used for Bristol Rovers fans of "The Gas" or "Gasheads". The nickname "The Gas" began as a derogatory nickname used by Bristol City fans, however Rovers fans now refer to themselves as Gasheads as a badge of honour. The number 12 squad shirt has been officially allocated to "Gasheads" by the club in honour of the crowd being the 12th man.
Another unique feature of Eastville was the flower beds behind each goal.
The Tote End or simply the Tote was a large section of covered terracing behind one of the goals. Originally built in 1935, the Tote End terrace was built following the curve of the greyhound racing track. It had a small covered section in the South-West corner.
The Totaliser clocks mounted first on the back of the terrace and then after a larger roof was added in 1961 to cover most of the terrace, on the roof fascia, gave it its name.
With a boisterous and intimidating atmosphere, largely due to it being a favoured spot for the more vociferous Rovers supporters, and given the nature of football in Britain in the 1970s, it became notoriously linked with bovver boys and hooliganism – a period documented by the book Bovver by Chris Brown.
Shortly after Rovers left Eastville in 1986, the Tote End was bulldozed.
Greyhound racing was first held at Eastville in 1932 and the Bristol Greyhound Company purchased the stadium in 1940. Two major events were held annually, the Golden Crest and the Western Two year old Produce Stakes. Racing came to an end in 1997.
- 1897 – Bristol Rovers first appearance at Eastville
- 1921 – Bristol Rovers purchase the stadium.
- 1924 – The mostly wooden south stand was built.
- 1935 – The Tote End was constructed.
- 1940 – The stadium is sold to the Bristol Greyhound Company.
- 1952 – First Commentary Broadcast to the Bristol Hospitals by the Bristol Hospital Broadcasting Service. 23 August v Shrewsbury Town Rovers won 2–1.
- 1959 – The North Stand opened, and floodlights installed.
- 1960 – Highest recorded attendance for a Rovers match. 38,472 v Preston North End in the FA Cup 4th Round, 30 January.
- 1961 – A roof and new terracing installed at the Tote End.
- 1969 – M32 motorway opened.
- 1977 – Motorcycle speedway introduced to the ground.
- 1980 – South Stand fire in August.
- 1986 – Bristol Rovers play their last ever game at Eastville.
- 1997 – Last Greyhound meeting
- 1998 – Eastville stadium demolished.
- The UK and Ireland American Football results service Alltime UK History – Club Database
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eastville Stadium.|
- "Stapleton Gas Works and football ground, Bristol, 1926". Britain from Above. October 1926. EPW016972. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
- Photo showing the Tote End with the totaliser clocks
- Photo showing supporters at the Tote End