We play in League One, the third tier of English football. Rovers play our home matches at the Memorial Stadium in Horfield. Bristol Rovers were formed, as the Black Arabs, in September 1883, following a meeting of five young men at a restaurant on Stapleton Road, in the Eastville district of the city. The name of the club was derived from the black shirts worn by the players and a rugby club known as the Arabs, who played on an adjacent pitch, at Purdown, in East Bristol. The Black Arabs played their first match, a friendly fixture, on December 1883 and played a further nine games during their first season, during which time we assumed the nickname of 'The Purdown Poachers'.
The club became known as Eastville Rovers in 1884/85 and continued to play friendly matches for a number of seasons, though we moved grounds on several occasions. We joined the Bristol and District League, forerunner of the Western League, in 1892 and moved to a ground at Eastville in 1897.
Professionalism and a further name change, to Bristol Eastville Rovers, came at the start of the 1897/88 season, with the name Bristol Rovers being adopted prior to the start of the following campaign.
Having competed in the Western League and the Birmingham and District League, Rovers joined the Southern League at the start of the 1899/1900 season. We acquitted themselves reasonably well at the higher level and clinched the Championship of the Southern League in 1904/05.
Though we remained in the competition until 1920, it proved to be the club's only Championship success before we became members of the Football League in 1920