Friday, 7 September 2012

AFC Dunstable - Creasey Park

AFC Dunstable
Creasey Park Community Centre
Creasey Park Drive

Matchday Number: 215
Wednesday 5th September 2012
AFC Dunstable 2-2 Aylesbury United
Spartan South Midlands League - Premier Division

I had made good friends with a top lad called Sam who is a Luton fan, through this very site and then Facebook. We had initially planned to meet before the Luton v Wycombe friendly back in July, but owing to it being a right git to find a space, he was already in the ground by the time I had managed to park up. So an alternate meet was needed to be arranged. As I had not been to Dunstable for a game before and he lived nearby, I looked for a game there, checking out both Dunstable Town and AFC Dunstable's websites. I found a game on a night I had free, against Aylesbury United who had fallen from grace in recent times. As recently as the late 90's they were just 2 steps away from the Football League, ten years prior to that they had been in the Conference. But problems over the ownership of the ground meant financial woes for the club, and now they play at Leighton Town in a league which contains village teams such as my local side Holmer Green. I actually did work experience at the club back in 1996, having a great time and so it is sad to see them struggling.

In the interim period between the Wycombe friendly and the Dunstable game, I had also made friends with Sam's mate Kyle, so a meet between the 3 of us was arranged. On the day I was aiming to get there by 7.15, so left at 6 to allow time for traffic. Thankfully there wasn't any and I arrived 25 minutes before our meet time. I parked up and took some pictures of the outside of the ground before going and taking a look at the impressive and modern bar, the complex was a far cry from the ramshackle setup I had stopped to take pictures of on the way back from collecting a parcel about 6 years ago! I met Sam and Kyle outside and after paying a very reasonable £5 to get in and £1 for a basic but well presented programme we made our way into the ground. After taking some pictures of the ground and getting some chips, we settled for a space behind the goal and with plenty of time still to go till kick off, we had a chat about everyone's favourite subject - football of course! Prior to the game I saw that ex Wycombe defender Glyn Creaser was now coaching Aylesbury United, he looked a lot more trim than he did for our Legends game back in May.

The game kicked off at 7.45 and was an entertaining affair, made all the better by some great company and banter. The home side took the lead after 15 minutes when the ball was bundled in from a corner. Up until this time AFC Dunstable had deserved the lead, but it only lasted for 3 minutes. Joey Achaempong slotted through the keepers legs for an almost instant reply. Despite Aylesbury having the better of the game until half time it remained level at the interval. I went and took some more pictures of the ground during the interval and noticed from looking at the team sheet that ex QPR striker Kevin Gallen was playing for the Ducks. Later on, I also discovered that they have Mark Bircham on their books, sadly neither made an appearance on the night.

The second half was started in much the same vein as the first, with AFC Dunstable meriting their lead that they took on 52 minutes when Graham Clark shot from the edge of the area and it crept in past the Ducks keeper Jack Stilitoe. Talking of the keeper, he was a bit on the tubby side and so we had cracking banter with him, offering him some of the food that Sam bought amongst other stuff. Aylesbury took control of the game again and got their second equaliser on 72 minutes when Ben Butler headed from the corner. There were further chances for both sides, mainly the Ducks but in the end both sides settled for the draw. At the end of the game we all shook hands with the keeper who had taken the banter in good spirit. After giving Jack and Kyle a lift back to nearby Houghton Regis, before  driving home. After making good progress I was back home before 10.45 and after a pint of cider that my parents had got me from Somerset, I went to bed, having another early start the next morning.

CREASEY PARK has been much improved in recent times, the ground being completely rebuilt and looking like a smart home for the town's 2 sides.The 2 covered sides are both Arena type stands, which are becoming very common these days. There is seating for around 150 and standing for around 250, along the side and behind the goal. The other end is hard standing in front of grass banking, whilst the other side houses the bar and dressing rooms amongst other things. The bar is really smart and a community hub with several different groups and activities meeting there. The range of drinks is pretty standard, but the food is good with some real imagination in the choices and some dishes named after old players such as Barry Fries and the (George) Besty Burger. I didn't see a club shop sadly, but you can order stuff online from their website. 

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