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Sport and Leisure in Bristol

In the foreground twentieth century housing can be seen amidst trees and on the right a tower block of flats. In the middle distance a complex of red coloured buildings can be seen and behind that a steep sided gorge with a suspension bridge spanning it.

Eighteenth century terraces on the right side of the gorge, the slopes of which are heavily wooded and a tower can be seen in the distance on the skyline.

The city has two Football League clubs: Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, as well as a number of non-league clubs. Bristol City was formed in 1897, became runners-up in Division One in 1907, and losing FA Cup finalists in 1909. They returned to the top flight in 1976, but in 1980 started a descent to Division Four. They were promoted to the second tier of English football in 2007. The team lost in the play-off final of the Championship to Hull City (2007/2008 season). City announced plans for a new 30,000 all-seater stadium to replace their home, Ashton Gate. Bristol Rovers is the oldest professional football team in Bristol, formed in 1883. During their history, Rovers have been champions of the (old) division Three (1952/53, 1989/90), Watney Cup Winners (1972, 2006/07), and runners-up in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The Club have planning permission to re-develop the Memorial Stadium into an 18,500 all-seat Stadium, but has yet to start due to financial difficulties.

The city is also home to Bristol Rugby rugby union club, a first-class cricket side, Gloucestershire C.C.C. and a Rugby League Conference side, the Bristol Sonics. The city also stages an annual half marathon, and in 2001 played host to the World Half Marathon Championships. There are several athletics clubs in Bristol, including Bristol and West AC, Bitton Road Runners and Westbury Harriers. Speedway racing was staged, with breaks, at the Knowle Stadium from 1928 to 1960, when it was closed and the site redeveloped. The sport briefly returned to the city in the 1970s when the Bulldogs raced at Eastville Stadium. In 2009, senior ice hockey returned to the city for the first time in 17 years with the newly formed Bristol Pitbulls playing out of Bristol Ice Rink.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, a major event for hot-air ballooning in the UK, is held each summer in the grounds of Ashton Court, to the west of the city. The fiesta draws substantial crowds even for the early morning lift beginning at about 6.30 am. Events and a fairground entertain visitors during the day. A second mass ascent is made in the early evening, again taking advantage of lower wind speeds. Until 2007 Ashton Court also played host to the Ashton Court festival each summer, an outdoor music festival known as the Bristol Community Festival.

Mountain biking in Bristol, the main area is around the Ashton Court estate with the Timberland trails being the main route. There are also routes across the road in the Plantation and 50 acre wood and Leigh Woods.
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