Rovers Football Club, may not be the most successful
of the two clubs in the city, but it is the oldest.
Formed in 1883, Bristol Rovers Football Club went through
several names before finally deciding on Rovers. Their
first incarnation was as The Black Arabs, so named
because they played in black shirts on a ground across
from a rugby team known as The Arabs. This was changed
to the Eastville Rovers and then the Bristol Eastville
Rovers before they settled on simply Bristol Rovers.
However the club also has two other names. Its official
nickname is “The Pirates”
and this is something that has been integrated into the
club as a pirate features on the club badge and the supporters
club badge. Their other nickname is the “The
Gas” which the team acquired because of
the gasworks next to their former home ground Eastville
Stadium. This is why Rovers supporters are sometimes called
Change is a reoccurring theme when it comes to Bristol
Rovers as the club have only recently managed to find
a permanent ground. Bristol Rovers used to play at Ashton
Gate, Bristol City’s current ground, but
later settled at Eastville Stadium. Financial
trouble and increased rent put the club out of their Eastville
Stadium home in 1986 and for virtually ten years the club
played their home games at Twerton Park in Bath. They then returned to Bristol in 1996 to share Memorial Stadium with Bristol Rugby Club
and since 1998 it has been wholly owned by the football
Their extended stay in the neighbouring city of Bath means
that the club get a lot of support from there. However
the majority of the support comes from the eastern and
northern parts of Bristol.
The club currently play in the Coca-Cola Football
League Two (the fourth division the English football
league) but were one of the founder members of the Football
League Third Division (South) in 1920.
Over the years the club’s successes have been confined
to the lower leagues but they have still managed to gain
a few celebrity supporters including musician Roni
Size, British actor Nicholas Lyndhurst and
author and former MP Lord Archer.