Gloucester City
Meadow Park

Ground No. 123
Visited - Saturday 14th April 2007
Result - Gloucester City 0-2 Wealdstone
Competition - Southern League Premier Division
Attendance - 392

They say mother nature is the most destructive force of all, and perhaps no club in football has felt that so much recently as Gloucester City. When I went there in April 2007, little did I or anybody in attendance that day know that it would be one of their final games at the ground. The floods of that summer devastated the city, and sitting just yards from the River Severn, Meadow Park suffered badly, waters reaching 9 feet deep in places. It wasn’t the first flood the club had suffered since moving to the ground in 1986, and unable to get insurance, the board came to the conclusion that it would be more cost effective just to find a new home, so the gates were locked, and the club have been forced to groundshare ever since whilst a new site is sought.

It was my own bit of bad luck that I managed to tick the ground at all. On the day in question, I had originally been planning to go to Bury, and had even set off from home, directions jotted down, and got to the station only to find that trains to Manchester and other northern destinations had been cancelled. It had left me in a bit of a quandary as to what to do next, not really wanting to take the replacement coach option due to time constraints, so a quick trip to the shops to have a look at the fixture lists in the papers was hastily required, although it didn’t bear any fruits, with the only league grounds left for me being too far away to get to. Unsurprisingly, there were no non-league fixtures listed (except for the Conference), but having looked online the previous night, I remembered that Gloucester had been at home, so with time getting on, I decided to head towards there, even with no idea of who they were playing, let alone how to get to the ground!

Having been founded in 1883, the club have an unusual claim to fame, in that there first match was refereed by famous cricket legend, W.G. Grace. They probably don’t like mentioning it too much though, the game finishing 10-0 to Eastville, but instead of following Grace back to the bat and ball game, they persevered with football, and from 1939 became mainstays of the Southern League, finally leaving the organisation after 70 consecutive years last season with their promotion to the Blue Square North. Ironically that in itself was a controversial move, the club being placed in the Northern section of Step 2 whilst Worcester City, 30 miles to the north of Gloucester, remained in the Blue Square South due to rules relating to re-organisation which means clubs have the option of staying in a league for 3 years without being transferred. It caused a general uproar at the absurdity of the situation, but the club decided that they’d be happy to accept their fate, even despite having moved even further south to groundshare at Cirencester!

Setting off into the unknown, the journey down to Gloucester went fine, changing in Birmingham, and arriving just before 1pm, so I set off towards the Tourist Information shop to see if they could help with any info on how to get there. Thankfully they could, and I was given a map with the ground on, which was quite good considering it’s not something you would really expect for most places, let alone a Step 3 club, so after spending a little time in the city centre, I made my way down there, arriving just after 2pm.

From the outside, it isn’t the most attractive of venues unfortunately, being tucked behind an industrial estate, with little to see other than the turnstiles, so after going in, I was more pleased to see quite a unique and appealing ground that looked far better from inside than out!

On the end that you come in at, there is mostly flat standing, with a few steps of uncovered terracing set back from the goal, whilst a yellow and black striped fence provides some colour behind it. To the left is the Main Stand side, which is split into three sections with at the near end the club house, which was a modern and imposing design, whilst adjacent to that sat the Main Stand itself, which was a single tiered stand of raised seating, with two unusual looking floodlights standing on top of the roof. At the far end of this side was a section of uncovered terracing which wrapped around the corner into what is officially known as The Keyway Stand, or what most Gloucester fans affectionately know as The T-End. This is a reasonably sized (for non-league) covered terrace that offers good views and protection from the rain (or in this days case, the sun!) and has more yellow and black striped fencing which helps to give the ground a good look to it (or maybe that’s just to me being a Wolves fan…!). Finally, on the far side of the ground is a small covered terrace with just three low and wide steps offering protection from the elements to fans, although unless you’re on the front row, then the views aren’t great here, thanks to the numerous pillars supporting the roof.

Having taken a few pictures, the game eventually got started, with Gloucester kicking off. In the first half neither side made any real chances and the game passed by with little incident as the two defences were both on top.

The second half soon changed that though, and the visitors took the lead early on in the 50th minute when Theo Robinson put Wealdstone ahead, poking in a cross from the left at the near post. That gave Gloucester the initiative, and spurred them on, but still they couldn’t really worry Mitch Swain in the Wealdstone goal, so it was no surprise when the visitors killed the game in the 80th minute when Dean Papali chased a long ball, and managed to put it past the onrushing keeper to make it 2-0 and game over.

After the final whistle, I made my way out of the ground and back to the station, catching the train home in good time with no problems.

Overall, despite the start, it had turned out to be a pretty good day. Meadow Park is quite a unique and attractive venue (inside at least!), and one that I’m glad that I had the chance to visit. Whilst its life does seems now to have come to an end, with City currently seeking out their third groundshare in four years for next season, then you always wonder about the possibility of them giving in and returning seeing as it is still there, untouched by all but nature.

The Turnstiles

Rear of the Main Stand

The Club Shop

The Clubhouse

The Main Stand

The T End

The Far Side

The Near End

The Near End

Ready for Kick Off

The Main Stand

The T End

The T End

Meadow Park Panoramic 1

Meadow Park Panoramic 2


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