Eastville Stadium

Coordinates: 51°28′21″N 2°33′51″W / 51.472415°N 2.564031°W / 51.472415; -2.564031

Eastville Stadium, also known as Bristol Stadium and Bristol Stadium – Eastville, was a stadium in Eastville, a northern suburb of the English city of Bristol.

Eastville Stadium
Eastville Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 2102658.jpg
Eastville Stadium in 1986
General information
Town or cityBristol
CountryEngland
Completed1897
Demolished1998
ClientBristol Rovers F.C.
Eastville Stadium is located in Bristol
Eastville Stadium
Eastville Stadium
Map showing the former location of Eastville Stadium

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.[1]

FootballEdit

HistoryEdit

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.

Bristol Rovers have never played in the top flight of English football. The highest level of football which Eastville Stadium hosted was in the Football League Second Division.

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".[2] 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.

Tote EndEdit

 
The Tote End in 1986

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.

SpeedwayEdit

In 1977 the Newport Wasps speedway team relocated to Bristol as the Bristol Bulldogs and remarkably the speedway track was placed on top of the greyhound circuit and then dug up again every meeting. The speedway only ran for two seasons in the British League before the team withdrew, and speedway has never been run in the city since.

Greyhound racingEdit

OpeningEdit

Racing started on Saturday 16 June 1928 becoming the second track in Bristol to open after Knowle Stadium. The first ever winner was a greyhound called Vivacious who collected £20 for his connections.[3]

HistoryEdit

 
Winter racing at Eastville Stadium, Bristol c.1970

The totalisator system was introduced in 1932 securing the future of the stadium, this was in contrast to the football club who were in financial difficulties. During 1939 Bristol Rovers F.C negotiated a sale price to the Bristol Greyhound Company, albeit by the chairman, who carried out the deal without the knowledge of his fellow directors. Eastville changed hands for £12,000 and the first General Manager was Lieutenant-Colonel Forsdike who was to become secretary of the National Greyhound Racing Club.[4]

The Golden Crest competition was introduced in 1937 and became one of the most important races in the provincial calendar. In 1945 Shannon Shore recorded an impressive win by ten lengths in a new track record for 500 yards; the black dog was timed at 28.76secs during the Golden Crest final. A second major competition was introduced in 1946 and this was the Western Two Year Old Produce Stakes.

In 1947 Oxford Stadium owner Leslie Calcutt was appointed as Director of Bristol Greyhound Racing Association Ltd, a move that would eventually result in Bristol taking over Oxford. The company also acquired Swindon Stadium in 1952 and would be known as Bristol Stadium Ltd following the death of Leslie Calcutt.[5]

Eastville became one of the first circuits to abandon grass in 1968, becoming sand based, many tracks would follow suit over the next decade. After selling Oxford Stadium to the council Ian Stevens became General Manager at Eastville in 1975 and in 1980 the track became one of eight tracks to be awarded Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) contracts resulting in a steady income stream. The track suffered a serious fire in August 1980 with the majority of the south stand destroyed causing more than £1 million worth of damage.[6] As a result of the fire the track closed for two months for repairs to be made.[7]

When trainer Henry Kibble retired his son Terry took over the kennels and provided Eastville with its first English Greyhound Derby finalist in 1991 with Dempsey Duke. The greyhound also won the Blue Riband, East Anglian Derby and Reading Masters.[8]

ClosureEdit

The company now known as the BS Group sold Eastville for development, plans were announced for a new Bristol greyhound stadium but never came to fruition. The stadium closed on 27 October 1997 with the entire greyhound operation moving to sister track Swindon. The site became an IKEA superstore.

CompetitionsEdit

Track recordsEdit

Pre-metric

Distance
yards
Greyhound Time Date Notes
500 Shannon Shore 28.76 1945 Golden Crest final
500 Shannon Shore 28.66 1946 Golden Crest semi-final
500 Rimmells Black 28.65 13.08.1947 Golden Crest semi-final
500 Flintfield Grosvenor 28.50 1950
500 Kensington Perfection 28.29 03.08.1953 Western Produce Stakes final
500 Discretions 27.85 1968
525 Glen Ranger 29.64 1950
525 Fealeside Bridge 29.39 15.09.1962
525 Paddles Son 26.06.1965
525 Moonlight Chase 23.04.1966
600 Model Dasher 35.11 1950
700 Shaggy Lass 40.61 10.06.1946
730 Je Vendral 42.30 1970
730 Peasedown Marvel 42.30 1970 =track record
730 Nobodys Pick 42.29 1972
745 Watch Kern 42.74 11.07.1962
932 Hops Pal 54.80 1972
957 Ramsfort Venture 56.58 19.09.1964
500 H Red Nuxer 29.21 21.04.1945
525 H Paddles Son 30.48 26.06.1965

Post-metric

Distance
metres
Greyhound Time Date Notes
266 Damiens Slave 16.30 29.11.1986
266 Rapid Mover 16.26 1988
270 Wheres The Limo 16.24 19.02.1992
410 Fizzy Stuff 25.80 1988
460 Peasedown Dollar 28.67 13.04.1991
460 Wolf Man 27.82 11.06.1994
470 Rolstone Silk 28.05 25.10.1979
470 Mollifrend Slave 28.66 04.05.1991
470 Manorland 28.49 04.05.1991
610 Proud Operator 39.33 1988
610 Among the Gold 39.19 1989
620 Airmount Flash 38.29 15.02.1993
665 First Name Bart 41.30 25.09.1993
670 Rolstone Silk 41.39 18.06.1981
680 Ice Cool Blonde 42.75 11.05.1991
680 Fawn Peral 42.28 15.06.1991
855 Decoy Lynx 53.72 13.08.1994
874 Keem Princess 54.59 16.08.1980
874 Lilac Wonder 54.54 17.08.1991
1015 Mossfield Scotty 66.29 15.10.1992
470 H Sharp Look Out 29.53 1988
470 H Faoides Country 29.08 20.07.1991

Important datesEdit

 
The aftermath of the fire in the South Stand, August 1980
  • 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 game at Eastville.
  • 1997 – Last Greyhound meeting
  • 1998 – Eastville stadium demolished.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The UK and Ireland American Football results service Alltime UK History – Club Database
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Barnes, Julia (1988). Daily Mirror Greyhound Fact File. Ringpress Books. p. 78. ISBN 0-948955-15-5.
  4. ^ Genders, Roy (1975). The Greyhound and Racing Greyhound. Page Brothers (Norwich). pp. 94–96. ISBN 0-85020-0474.
  5. ^ Genders, Roy (1981). The Encyclopedia of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. pp. 48–49. ISBN 07207-1106-1.
  6. ^ Genders, Roy (1990). NGRC book of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-7207-1804-X.
  7. ^ "Monthly Greyhound Star (Remember When 1980) October edition". Greyhound Star.
  8. ^ Barnes/Sellers, Julia/John (1992). Ladbrokes Greyhound Fact File. Ringpress Books. pp. 39–42. ISBN 0-948955-22-8.

External linksEdit