Bristol pub landlord welcomes new football season
The landlord of a Bristol pub once saddled with a reputation for football-related trouble says he is looking forward to today's start of the new football season.
The John Cabot on Gloucester Road in Horfield has undergone a £100,000 facelift to turn it into the Royal Oak.
It is now unrecognisable from its former incarnation as the John Cabot, where on May 12, 2007, about 150 Bristol Rovers fans clashed with riot police in a running battle outside after a game at the Memorial Stadium.
There were more incidents of violence and disorder in the following months.
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The pub's owners, Enterprise Inns, went through the courts to remove the lease from previous landlord Leslie English.
The Royal Oak has now been open for two weeks and new landlord Neil Greenwood said that he was looking forward to welcoming Bristol Rovers fans through the doors as the Memorial Stadium plays host to Leyton Orient today.
Mr Greenwood said: "I'm really excited about it. I want football fans to come to the Royal Oak. That's why we are here.
"We have exceeded all our expectations here so far, it's been incredible. It's a local pub and I underestimated how much that matters, how people talk to each other about things happening around here and how much community spirit there is. It's not a destination pub, it's made for locals.
"Bristol Rovers fans are more than welcome here, as are Bristol Rugby fans and Gloucestershire cricket fans.
"Of the people who go to watch sporting events 99 per cent are nice people. There are lots of families who go to watch sport too, and that's exactly who we are appealing to here."
Mr Greenwood added: "We have been open for a couple of weeks so I can't be too confident that we have completely changed the pub around already.
"We are in a great location for Rovers fans on match days and we won't be turning anybody away, but at the same time of course we won't tolerate any trouble."