CLUB GUIDE: Bristol Rovers
Bristol Rovers are a professional football team based in Bristol, England.
It was formed in 1883 as The Black Arabs (taking the name the Arabs from a rugby team that played on an adjoining pitch and adding black because of their kit colour), and renamed Bristol Rovers in 1897 after briefly being called Eastville Rovers and Bristol Eastville Rovers. The club joined the Southern League in 1899, and were founder members of the Football League Third Division in 1920. They currently play in Football League Two.
The team traditionally draws its support from north and east Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Its colours are blue and white quartered shirts, white shorts and blue socks. Away colours for the season 2002/03 were black shirts with a diagonal gold sash and black shorts - reflecting the original Black Arab kit of 1883. This marked the club's 120 year existence.
The club's official nickname is 'The Pirates' - reflecting the maritime history of Bristol. A pirate features on both the club badge and the badge of the supporters club. The local nickname of the club is 'The Gas', (from the gasworks next to the old Eastville Stadium) hence Rovers fans are known as Gasheads.
The song which is synonymous with Rovers - sung by fans in support of (and often commiseration with!) the team is 'Goodnight Irene', which was originally popularised by The Weavers and written by Leadbelly.
Opinions differ as to how this came about but it is thought to have become popular in the 1950's when a version of the song was in the British charts - the line 'sometimes I have a great notion to jump in the river and drown' - seemed to be particularly apt when Rovers lost as the Bristol Frome flows alongside the old Eastville ground.
Another theory is that is was sung at a fireworks display at the Stadium the night before a Home game against Plymouth Argyle in the fifties. During the game the following day, Rovers were winning quite comfortably and the few Argyle supporters present began to leave early prompting a chorus of 'Goodnight Argyle' from the Rovers supporters - the tune stuck and 'Irene' became the club song.
Home games are now played at The Memorial Stadium, Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol, a ground they share with Bristol Rugby Club. Previously they have played at Purdown, Eastville Stadium, Kingswood (during WW2), Twerton Park in Bath for 10 seasons (having left Eastville due to financial reasons) and even some games at Ashton Gate following a fire which destroyed one of stands at Eastville.
Truly they can be said to have earned the sobriquet of 'Rovers'!
Their main rivals are Bristol City although there is also some animosity with teams such as Swindon Town, Yeovil Town, Cheltenham Town, Cardiff City and Swansea City.
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