Bristol City, Failand, Football, groundhopping, High Performance Centre, Oxford United, Robins, Training Ground, Women, Womens FA Cup
Sunday 29th January 2023 ko 15:00
FA Women’s Cup 4th Round
BRISTOL CITY 4 (Hayles 45 Hutton 48 Woolley 73 Syme 83)
OXFORD UNITED 0
After seven years together and three years married, its a little surprising that Robyn and I’s teams Bristol City and Oxford United have only met once, again the women’s teams back in 2016 at Stoke Gifford Stadium. So when the two clubs were drawn again, this time in the FA Women’s Cup it was obvious we’d be making a beeline for the game!
That went double as the game was to be played at the Robins High Performance Centre. The rather grand title refers to the club’s new training ground, at Failand to the west of the city, and adjacent to their old training ground. The HPC does have one massive feature, and that is the mini stadium with the 400 seat stand which I’m sure will interest just about every groundhopper! It was interesting see how Robyn, who is more than well- acquainted with Ashton Gate immediately spotted that the stand was designed by KKA who also were behind the expansion of the main stadium.
Parking is discounted if you book in advance, and is next door at the QEH School Sports Ground, so don’t do as I did and head for the ground. You’ll soon see how the HPC straddles the difference between a straightforward sports ground, such as Plymouth Argyle’s or a dedicated second stadium, like Manchester City’s Academy Stadium.
It is an interesting place to watch a game, with the caveat that five toilets are not enough to service a crowd of 449, and with many crowds being of this magnitude, as a place to watch Bristol City’s non male first XI games it does run the risk of becoming too small, when it’s only been open just over a year! Still, there’s plenty of room to build another stand.
The great irony of Bristol City’s women’s team is that they used to Bristol Rovers! The club were formed as Bristol Rovers’ Ladies and played at Stoke Gifford Stadium in 1998 but when Rovers were relegated to League 2 in 2006, they withdrew funding. The team carried on as Bristol Academy Women’s Football Club but became Bristol City Women in 2016, 3 years after City started sponsoring them. So, you had the odd position where the team had three identities without changing stadium! The team moved to the HPC at the start of the 21/22 season. Incidentally during their time as Bristol Academy, a men’s team was formed, Bristol Academy MFC playing in the Gloucestershire County League, an unusual example of a men’s team being an offshoot from the women’s club, but they folded in 2014.
Bristol City Women play in the second tier Championship while Oxford were unbeaten in a division lower in the National League Southern Premier Division. Leaving aside the Robyn vs Laurence factor, the game also saw the point where the full-time game meets the part time game. It took most of the first half for City to break down Oxford’s defence, but once they did the second half was one-way traffic, and once again I was on the wrong end of the Robyn Derby!
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