Jeremy Blackmore takes a look at what's in store for Bristol's big teams and most promising individuals in 2020.
This year promises to be an exciting one for sport in Bristol. Both our football teams are challenging for promotion, while in rugby the Bears are riding high in the Premiership and in Europe. One of cricket's oldest rivalries is rekindled as Gloucestershire join Somerset in Division One of the County Championship. Bristol-born Emily Diamond will be hoping to go for gold for Great Britain in the Tokyo Olympics, while Judd Trump defends his World Snooker Championship title in April. There is also a packed programme of events in athletics, tennis, rowing, cycling, basketball and motor sport. Time to cast an eye over some highlights...
Bristol City narrowly missed out on a place in the Championship playoffs last year after drawing their final match on the last day of the season and finishing in eighth place, their highest since returning to the second tier in 2015.
The Robins have continued to mount a serious challenge for promotion to the Premiership again this season, recording nine victories in their first 20 matches by early December, taking them to fourth place in the table. They will hope to be firmly in contention once more this May.
In the FA Cup meanwhile, City start the new year with a third-round home tie against Shrewsbury Town on January 4th at Ashton Gate.
After finishing sixth in the FA Women’s Super League last season, the Robins found themselves near the bottom of the table by early December. Women’s boss Tanya Oxtoby issued a rallying call to her young side as they went in search of their first win of the season.
Find out more at: https://www.bcfc.co.uk/
In League One, Bristol Rovers are also pushing for a promotion spot. After finishing last season in 15th place, they went fifth in early December. First Team Manager Graham Coughlan called it a magnificent achievement, praising his side’s character, spirit and determination.
Coughlan called on his side to replicate the performance they showed in the second half of the game against Southend when they scored four goals to come back from 2-0 down at the interval. If Rovers can replicate that kind of form throughout the second half of the season, they could be serious challengers in May.
For more visit: https://www.bristolrovers.co.uk/
After winning three of their first four Premiership games, Bristol Bears were sitting in second place in the in the table behind Northampton going into the mini-break for European rugby in mid-December.
It was a strong showing for the Bears who finished 9th last season after winning promotion in 2018.
Their overwhelming 37-11 victory over Stade Français saw them take full control of Pool Four in the European Challenge Cup with a third successive bonus point win. It further extended their unbeaten home form in all competitions. The Bears have two further matches against European opposition in January but this form will raise hopes of reaching the quarter finals in early April – with the semi-finals and the final in Marseille taking place the following month.
Meanwhile, the Premiership season concludes for the Bears with an away clash against London Irish on 6 June.
After some big-name signings for this season, the Bears have issued another statement of intent by signing one of the world’s finest players Semi Radradra ahead of the 2020/21 campaign. The Fijian international arrives at Ashton Gate on a three-year deal.
After two wins from their opening three fixtures in the Tyrells Premier 15s, Bristol Bears Women endured a mixed period. It left Kim Oliver’s side sixth in the table by mid-December, with an important block of fixtures over the festive period, as they look to break into the top four.
You can find out more about the Bears at: https://www.bristolbearsrugby.com/
Gloucestershire celebrate their 150th anniversary back in Division One of the County Championship for the first time in over a decade. Chris Dent’s men earned promotion at the end of last season meaning they start 2020 in the top-flight alongside local rivals Somerset with eagerly anticipated clash between the two sides at Bristol from May 1st and Taunton from June 14th.
Gloucestershire reached the quarterfinals of the Vitality T20 Blast last summer despite an injury to star bowler Benny Howell, who took a career-best 5-18 against Glamorgan at Cheltenham and he will be keen to lead them back to the knockout stages again with their final three games at home. Two more West Country derbies are in store in the Blast with Somerset hosting Gloucestershire on May 29th with the return fixture in Bristol on July 12th.
As part of the club’s anniversary celebrations children from 150 local schools are set to watch Gloucestershire with a Community Day during the Royal London Cup match against Lancashire on July 26th.
Somerset who won their first piece of silverware in 14 years last season when they lifted the Royal London One-Day Cup at Lord’s will be hoping to go one better than their second-place finish in last year’s County Championship. It’s a trophy the club have never won despite finishing runners-up six times this century. This will be the first year since 1992 that Somerset will be without legendary opener Marcus Trescothick who hung up his boots in September. He returns in a coaching role while skipper Tom Abell will be able to call on England players Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory and the exciting Tom Banton who looks set to be a big star over the next decade.
The controversial new men’s and women’s tournament, The Hundred featuring eight new teams, will run throughout the school summer holidays. Representing the Somerset, Gloucestershire and Glamorgan region is Welsh Fire with squads selected through a player draft. The Fire men's side will play their matches in Cardiff while the women's team will play at the County Grounds in Bristol and Taunton.
The Royal London Cup will run alongside this new tournament and with so many big names away on Hundred duty, it will provide opportunities for many younger players to shine. Somerset will be fiercely defending their title.
Find out more at: https://www.somersetcountycc.co.uk/ and https://www.gloscricket.co.uk/
This year sees another packed programme at City of Bristol Rowing Club which boasts highly competitive senior and juniors squads as well as masters and recreational squads. The club also offers courses for people to learn to row or take on the sport with work colleagues.
The club will represent Bristol at a number of national rowing events in June and July including the National Schools Regatta, Henley Women’s Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Masters.
Among the key events the club are running in Bristol this year are the Bristol Flotilla on May 6th, a sponsored row from Bath to Bristol which will finish with a large event in the harbour.
For more visit: www.bristolrowing.co.uk
Avon Tennis runs county teams in every year group from Under 9s to Under 18, Open, 35 + and seniors from 40 up to 80.
In the Great Britain rankings Avon Tennis now boasts 19 Junior players aged from Under 12 to Under 18 who are ranked in the top 100 players for their respective age groups, testament to the excellent coaching work being done in the county.
For 2020, there are Cup Competitions over many weekends. The Junior Bristol and Bath Hardcourt Championships takes place at Easter while the County Closed Competition will be held over the August Bank Holiday.
Read more at: https://avontennis.org.uk/
Athletes from Bristol and West AC will compete in regional, national and international championships from juniors to masters, including cross country, inside on the track and endurance running in which the club have made lots of new signings to bolster their already strong senior squads.
In the summer outdoor track and field season, Bristol and West AC will be one of only 16 clubs in the Premiership of the new National Athletics League, which kicks off this year. The club will also hope to defend their title in the top tier of the Midland Athletics League.
Athletes of all ages from Westbury Harriers will also be in action across the year.
Meanwhile runners from all over the region will take place in the annual Great Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday 27th September. The course will take runners under the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge with spectacular views over the Avon Gorge and Bristol Harbourside before entering the city centre. With what promises to be an electric atmosphere and music at 10 points alongside the course as well as a cheer point from Children’s Hospice South West, the journey to the finish line promises to be truly special: https://www.greatrun.org/great-bristol-half-marathon
The clubs can be found at: http://www.bristolandwestac.org/ and https://www.westburyharriers.com/
The popular Tour de Bristol returns to the city on Saturday 4 April in aid of St Peter’s Hospice.
More than 1,000 cyclists will take to the roads to raise funds, covering some epic scenery and challenging hills throughout Bristol, the Wye Valley and beyond.
40K: A perfect route for cyclists wanting to get out of the city and see some of the South Gloucestershire countryside. View the route
65K: The mid-level route gives riders the opportunity to cycle over the old Severn Bridge and into the start of the Wye Valley
100K: This route is for more experienced riders wanting to explore the stunning Wye Valley.
To find out more about how to enter visit: http://tourdebristol.stpetershospice.org.uk/
Bristol Pegasus Motor Club celebrates its 75th anniversary during its Castle Combe track day on Saturday August 22nd.
The club organises a range of social and competitive events for anyone interested in cars, including its track day and the Pegasus sprint. For more information about the club visit: https://bristolpegasus.com/
Meanwhile Bristol Motor Club also organises motorsport events; sprints, AutoSolos, classic trials, sporting trials and navigational events. These include the club’s Great Western Sprint at Castle Combe Circuit on March 21st.
This first round of the British Sprint Championship will feature the fastest cars at the circuit all year and the only British Championship to visit the circuit. Spectating is free at this event, including paddock transfer. For more information about the club visit: https://bristolmc.org.uk/
Bristol Flyers started their BBL Championship campaign with two defeats in early December but with 17 matches until the climax of the season in April, they will be hoping to fare better than their 10th place finish last season.
Coach Kapoulas’ men had progressed to the semi-finals of the BBL Cup by mid-December with London Royals standing in the way of a place in the Final in Birmingham in January.
The Flyers have also been handed a home tie against Leicester Riders in first round of the BBL Trophy competition, which will take place on Friday, January 10th. For more information visit: https://www.bristolflyers.co.uk/
With three titles so far this season by mid-December, Bristol’s Judd Trump was standing at number one in the world rankings.
He secured his first World Championship title last May with an emphatic 18-9 frame victory over John Higgins. Trump heads back to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on April 18th to defend his crown.