8,000 (Seats 3,000)
Address: Cliftonville Street, Belfast, BT14 6LP
Telephone: 028 3832 6815
Fax: 028 3844 1583
Pitch Size: 135 x 72 yards
Pitch Type: NULL
Club Nickname: The Reds
Year Ground Opened: 1890
Home Kit: Red and White
Solitute is hidden amongst the residential area of Cliftonville, two miles north of Belfast City Centre. The main entrance and turnstiles are located at the rear of the red bricked Main Stand, which lies at the end of three Victorian terrace streets, Cliftonville Drive, Cliftonville Parade and Cliftonville Street. The ground has undergone a transformation in the last few years. The imposing Main Stand on the south side dominates the ground, a steep seated tier of 1,000 seats gives a good elevated view of the pitch, however there are a couple of columns and floodlight poles which may impede your view. To the front of this stand that was built in the 1950’s, is a narrow standing area in front of the stand with a limited amount of shelter. To the right of the Main Stand, in the south south-east corner is the two storey social club with its sheltered viewing balcony, with the players and official dressing rooms directly beneath. Known to fans as the ‘Whitehouse’ it is a unusual feature of the ground.
The East side of the ground was, until recently, occupied by an old fashioned terrace, with a low cover taking up the length of the penalty area. This cover had a number of columns, and a metal front to stop stray balls going into the crowd, giving the stand the name ‘the cage’. However the stand was demolished in late 2007 to make way for the new stand. This impressive new structure, opened for home fans in 2008, has around 1,200 red plastic seats with ‘THE REDS’ spelt out in white seats, under a cantilever roof with angular screen ends. There is a stadium control box at the rear of the northern end, and a low enclosure for disabled supporters to one side of the goal line. Every seat in the stand offers an excellent unobstructed view of the pitch, though as with all new seated stands, the roof line is too high to offer rainfall shelter to the seats in the bottom few rows.
Looking directly across the pitch from the Main Stand there is currently a shallow grass verge on the North side of the ground, which was originally a covered terrace until a fire closed this side of the ground. The distant view of Cliff Hill gives the ground a windswept and exposed appearance. Behind the goal to the left is the new away supporters stand on the west side of the ground. This 800 seat stand with its modern cantilever roof is much lower than the covered terrace and Main Stand, giving Solitude a slightly unbalanced look. The ground has an artificial playing surface.
The Solitude ground was opened in 1890, making it the oldest surviving football ground in Irish football. Whilst Cliftonville Football Club who were formed in 1879 and are also the oldest football club in Ireland.
The Club have received planning permission to replace the Main Stand with a new structure. The new stand would have a single tier of 1,128 seats, whilst above and behind there will be a taller structure which would house the club offices and other amenities. It is hoped that works can begin in 2017.
The club can take considerable pride and credit for the re-development work that has taken place at Solitude in the last couple of years. The overall look of the ground will no doubt improve should the club make funds available for a new stand at the north end of the ground however there are no plans at present.
Turnstiles for the away supporters stand are to the far left of the Main Stand, at the end of Cliftonville Drive. The away supporters stand formed the first phase of redevelopment works at the ground when it was completed a few years ago. The stand has 800 seats on a single tier of red plastic seats. The view over the top of the new pitch side fencing is unobstructed but since the cantilever roof is pitched upwards it provides little cover in rainfall. The atmosphere can be a little bit strange, since at present there is considerable distance between the home and away supporters at either end of the ground, no doubt this will improve if and when the ground is completed.
There is a Social Club at the ground (situated under the Main Stand) which normally welcomes away fans for most fixtures. Otherwise there is not much else within the vicinity of the ground so probably best to stick to the City Centre.
From Ballymena, Antrim and the North
Follow the A6 Antrim Road into North Belfast. At the Belfast Royal Academy College turn right into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.
From Lisburn, Portadown and the South
Follow the M1 into South Belfast Junction 1.At the roundabout continue into the A12 Westlink road, then turn off towards the A6/A52 Junction. At the Carlisle Circle roundabout take a right turn into the A6 Antrim Road.Follow the road north, and turn left into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.
From Bangor & Newtonards
Take the A2 Sydenham Bypass into East Belfast. Follow onto the M3, as the road passes over the river Lagan, turn off into Great Georges Street. Follow the road onto the A12 West Link then turn off, taking a right turn towards the A6/A52 Junction. At the Carlisle Circle roundabout take a right turn into the A6 Antrim Road. Follow the road north, and turn left into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.
The ground is approx 1.5 miles north of Yorkgate Railway Station, which is on the Belfast Central to Larne line, however for those arriving at either Belfast Central or Belfast Great Victoria Street Railway Station and Europa Bus Station, catch Metro bus 12A (Oldpark Road) from Donegal Square North, opposite Belfast City Hall. Directions from Yorkgate station to Solitude:
At the station exit turn left into the A2 York Street. Cross over the road and take the first right turn into Brougham Street. At the next junction continue into Duncairn Gardens. At the end of the road take a left turn into the A6 Antrim Road, then turn right into Cliftonville Road. The ground entrance is on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.
Arriving in Belfast at Great Victoria Street Railway Station and Europa Bus Station
The ground is around 20-30 minutes walk north of the station and city centre, however, for those that would like to visit Belfast City Centre before the game, when you come out of the bus station concourse / retail shops turn left, past the opera house, and take a right turn into Howard Street. This will lead you towards City Hall and the shops and restaurants in the heart of the City.
From City Hall you have the option of either taking a taxi to the ground or catching Metro Bus 12A from Donegal Square North, opposite Belfast City Hall. This bus travels along Donegall Place, Clifton Street, Antrim Road and Cliftonville Road with the ground appearing on the right hand side after a 15 minute journey. Walking directions from Belfast City Hall:
For those who would prefer a brisk 20-30 minute walk, from City Hall walk past McDonalds up Donegall Place, shortly after the road kinks to the right, take a left turn into Donegall Street, cross into Clifton Street, and shortly after the road goes over the A12 westlink, take a right turn at the roundabout into Antrim Road. Take a left turn into Cliftonville Road, the ground entrance appears on the right hand side at the end of Cliftonville Street.
Official Matchday Programme: £2
Belfast Premier League clubs Crusaders, Linfield and Glentoran.
2017-2018: 1,339 (Northern Ireland Premiership)
2016-2017: 1,252 (Northern Ireland Premiership)
2015-2016: 1,206 (Northern Ireland Premiership)
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Special thanks to Owen Pavey for providing the photos and stadium layout plan of the Solitude Ground Cliftonville.
The Solitude Cliftonville FC video was produced by the Ulster Groundhopper and made publicly available viaYouTube.