Brandywell Stadium is a municipally owned multi-purpose stadium located in the second largest city in Northern Ireland, Derry. Used primarily for football matches of Derry City F.C since it first opened in 1928, the 7,700 capacity stadium is also used for the “sport” of greyhound racing.
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Derry City first played a football match at Brandywell Stadium on 22nd August 1929 when they took on Belfast based Glentoran F.C. Situated next to Celtic Park which is the home of Derry GAA, the ground was previously home to Derry Celtic F.C who were once the primary team of the city until the were voted out of the Irish League in 1913. Derry City formed in 1928, taking over the mantle of the city’s major football club, and moved into Brandywell a year later.
Currently owned by Derry City Council, who lease Brandywell back to the club, there is unfortunately a specific clause which states the ground much be available for the “recreation of the community”. This essentially means that Brandywell must remain a multi-purpose sports venue hence the continued use as a Greyhound Track since the 1940s. It also limits the scope of renovations Derry City F.C can undertake to make it more suitable for football.
The current form of Brandywell Stadium dates back to the early 1990s when the unique East Stand was constructed in 1991. Comprised of a fully-cantilevered roof and circular design, it was finally converted to all-seating in 2004, and remains a modern part of the stadium. Additional seating was installed adjacent to the older main stand, and temporary seating is often installed for the big important matches such as European nights.
Perhaps the best example of these came during the 2006-2007 season when Derry participated in the qualification rounds for the group stages of the UEFA Cup. They remarkably defeated IFK Göteborg, Gretna, before failing at the third and final hurdle against Paris Saint-Germain. Before this the club’s most high-profile match arguably came against at the time holders Benfica during the 1989-1990 European Cup.
As for the future of Brandywell Stadium it appears that both fans and the club’s management wish to remain at the ground despite the restrictions on renovation. Described as Derry City F.C’s traditional home, proposals which emerged in January 2007 to construct a new multi-purpose stadium at a former British Army post, Fort George, failed to get off the ground due to lack of support amongst fans of the club who would rather stay put.
Below is a seating plan of Derry City's Brandywell Stadium:
Brandywell Stadium is comprised of four stands: North, East, South and West.
Click the thumbnails above to enlarge an image of each stand and to read a more detailed description of each part of the stadium.
The Matchday Experience
Fans who make the visit to see their team take on Derry City F.C are usually housed within the northern side of the historic east stand which runs for the length of the pitch. The old style oval-shaped stand features a low hanging roof which really helps the noise travel, and by sharing the stand with home supporters there’s usually a good-natured atmosphere between both sets of fans.
Although there is a supporters bar at the stadium it is for social club members only, and thus it isn’t suitable for away fans. Instead it’s recommended that you grab a pint in Derry city centre where there are plenty of potential watering holes.
On the waterfront there is the likes of Sandinos just before The Peace Bridge, and continuing along fountain street there is Badgers which is a welcoming boozer. Further north of the city centre and St Columb’s Cathedral there is the ever popular Peadar O’Donnells “buzzy pub” and The Metro. If you want a safe choice then there’s always a JD Wetherspoons known as Grand Central Bar.
Inside the stadium there are a few catering vans selling the usual range of matchday food options such as burgers, hot-dogs and pies, as well as hot and cold drinks.
Although the charming Candy Stripe Store only routinely opens during matchdays, the club’s offices have the following opening hours:
- Monday to Friday : 10am – 4pm
- Weekends: Closed
- Matchdays: A few hours before kick-off.
I’m sure somebody at the club would be willing to open the shop and sell you a jersey/whatever you want to buy. Failing that there is the Derry online store you can visit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It doesn’t appear as if Derry City currently offer fans a behind the scene’s tour of Brandwell Stadium, however if you get to the ground early enough you can pretty much walk around and with the exception of the changinr rooms, take most of it in.
Brandywell stadium is located close to Celtic Park on the northern bank of the River Foyle, approximately 2.1 miles south-west of Derry (Londonderry) city centre, Northern Ireland.
The address for satnav is as follows:
- Brandywell Sports Centre, Lone Moor Road, Londonderry, County Londonderry, BT48 9LA
There is a car park located within the Sports Centre and training ground complex which is accessible from Lone Moor Road, as well as a club-run one located towards the rear of the old main stand. Both car parks aren’t the largest in the world, and thus it’s advisable to get their early – particularly as street parking is also extremely limited.
Londonderry station or Waterside Railway Station as it is commonly referred to as is the main station of the city, and features frequent services to Great Victoria Street in Belfast.
Situated 1.8 miles away by foot, assuming you don’t stop in at the many decent pubs in the city centre, the journey will likely take you no more than 35 minutes by foot. By the time you’ve crossed the River Foyle at Bridge Street you’ve already shaved around 10 minutes of the time off, so the distance isn’t as far as it seems.
There are a good number of hotels located within a 20 minute walk of the ground with the likes of the Travelodge, City Hotel Derry and The Maldron Hotel all being pretty safe options. Across the other side of the River Foyle there is the Iona Inn which is suitable for those who wish to be close to the railway station.