Friday, 7 September 2012

Dunstable Town - Creasey Park


 Dunstable Town FC / AFC Dunstable
Creasey Park Community Centre
Creasey Park Drive
Dunstable
Beds
LU6 1BB

01582 891433
Dunstable Town Website
AFC Dunstable Website
Dunstable Town Twitter
AFC Dunstable Twitter









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






TEN FACTS ABOUT DUNSTABLE TOWN

1:  The club was formed in October 1883 and were founder members of the Bedfordshire FA. They played in local leagues initially including the Metropolitan League as well as a couple of years in the United Counties League between 1961 and 1963.

2:  They've spent most of the modern era in the Southern League, first joining in 1965. Finishes have ranged from 21st in the second tier on two occasions to 8th in the Premier Division in 1976. They've spent very little time away since joining - playing in the Spartan South Midlands League between 1998 and 2003 where they won 3 promotions to progress through and out of the league and then the Isthmian League for the 2003/04 season where they finished 5th.

3:  There have been a couple of spells of severe financial difficulties. In 1975 the original Dunstable Town went bust, but quickly, a new team, Dunstable, was formed to take over their place in the Southern League. The new club disappeared altogether in 1994 following an 18th place finish in the Southern League Southern Division. It took until 1998 for a new club to be established with the reformed Dunstable Town making rapid progress up the non-league pyramid.



4:  The best progress in the FA Cup came during the 1956/57 season. Starting in the 2nd Qualifying Round, Dunstable Town beat Vauxhall Motors (Luton), Wolverton Town and Eton Manor before a 3-1 defeat to Margate in the 1st Round. 

5:  In other FA Competitions, the club reached the 5th Round of the FA Vase in 2011, losing to Whitley Bay. The best progress in the FA Trophy came by default in 2003/04 when Dunstable Town started in the 1st Round and were immediately knocked out at home to Histon by a 6-2 scoreline. 

6:  In local competitions, Dunstable Town have won the Bedfordshire Senior Cup 12 times, the Bedfordshire Premier Cup six times, the Bedfordshire Intermediate Cup twice and the Bedfordshire Floodlit Cup in 2008.



7:  Several famous players have turned out for Dunstable and these include Jeff Astle, George Best, Tony Currie, Kerry Dixon, Barry Fry and The Chase host Bradley Walsh. Fry and Dixon also managed the club. During Best's limited time at the club, Dunstable Town drew their record attendance of 10,000 for a Friendly against Manchester United, with the Bedfordshire side recording a remarkable 3-2 victory.



8:  Dunstable have faced my own team Wycombe once competitively. On the 24th October 1970, Wycombe triumphed 4-0 at Dunstable in an FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round game.



9:  Local rivals AFC Dunstable were formed in 1981 as Old Dunstablians. Originally a team for former pupils of a local school, as recently as 2009 they played at step 7 of non-league. Rapid progress in the past 9 years has seen them rise up the leagues and they currently are involved in a promotion race in Southern D1 East and potentially could swap places with Dunstable Town at the end of the season.

10: The town of Dunstable itself has a population of just over 36,000. Famous former residents include footballer Kerry Dixon and Hollywood film actor Gary Cooper. Cooper attended Dunstable Grammar School between 1910 - 1913 and has the local Wetherspoons pub named in his honour.



VISIT 1: AFC DUNSTABLE 2-2 AYLESBURY U

I had made good friends with  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 Acheampong slotted through the keeper's 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 Sillitoe. 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 had bought. 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,I drove we all shook hands with the keeper who had taken the banter in good spirit. After giving Sam and Kyle a lift back to nearby Houghton Regis, I drove home. After making good progress I was back home before 10.45 and went to bed, having another early start the next morning.



VISIT 2: DUNSTABLE T 0-2 GOSPORT (SPL 26/04/18)

I'd originally spotted this game after it had been postponed recently and vowed to try and go to the rematch. It was pretty much a decider to see who went down from the Southern Premier with the two teams well adrift at the bottom. I was glad when it was scheduled for a Thursday that I was free, but after a busy week of football, I almost decided against it with games four days in a row. However, the Dunstable Town secretary, Andrew Madaras, spotted that I was considering going and invited me along as his guest. He said that he had been enjoying my blog for years, which was much appreciated. I really only do it to note down memories for myself and to help others plan visits to the ground by providing information about my day out. So, the fairly small readership does not bother me, though it does grate that the vast majority of clubs can't be bothered to retweet my blogs, especially when I spend around three to four hours on each one and a considerable amount of time and money attending the games themselves. The best thing that has come out of my blog is meeting new people who have read the blog, some of which have become really good friends which is also the whole reason I am on social media as football is so much better with company.



The day of the game came and it was another day at work, with me getting back home around 2 after stopping at a couple of shops. Despite the 4 am start, I didn't need an afternoon nap as per usual and so I cracked on with my blog from Tuesday, including putting a video together with the limited highlights that I'd cobbled together. I also decided to sacrifice tomorrows game at an as yet to be decided venue, as I could do with a night in to catch up. I was glad to see that my mate Chris from Kings Langley was going to the game and spent the latter part of the afternoon trying to redo some of my blog ready for tonight. I saw that the town was around a mile away and considered whether it might be worth ticking the local Wetherspoons, the Gary Cooper if I got time. I don't normally drink during the week, but I found out that I can park halfway between in a side road and am unlikely to get another chance any time soon. After having a nice dinner of a chilli stir-fry, I got my things together and left at 6.15. I had a good run, getting there at 7. In the end, I decided against going to my pub stop, instead going straight to the ground.



After parking in a car park around 5 minutes from the ground I walked to the ground, having a good chat with Chris before the game. I got a pint of Strongbow from the bar, it wasn't the best but was only £3.10 and put a little bit in the club kitty. There was a minutes silence before the game for a recently deceased Dunstable fan which was impeccably observed by all. I also got Scampi and chips for the great price of £2, being able to watch the game while they cooked it. Later on, I got a Bovril and also bumped into the secretary who made me feel very welcome. Both of tonight's teams had enjoyed notable wins in recent times, Gosport smashing troubled Frome Town 7-0 on Saturday to draw level on points before Dunstable Town won their game in hand on Tuesday to restore the three-point cushion. A win would guarantee survival for Dunstable, whereas a Gosport win or a draw would see them take the battle to the final day of the season. Dunstable players were all on amateur contracts due to budget constraints at the club, so they were mainly youngsters that I didn't recognise the names of. The visitors meanwhile had a number of notable names including former Wycombe midfielder James Harper who gave a hilarious interview on his first day at the club, but was dire on the pitch.



Gosport had brought good support and they were the brightest side at the start. They weren't creating much though, whereas Dunstable forced a great save out of visiting keeper Patrick O'Flaherty who did well to tip a rasping shot over the bar. The hosts also had a shot cleared off of the line and looked dangerous on the break. Rowan Vine came closest for Gosport, his drive going into the side netting on 40 minutes. The score was level at the break but Dunstable were still holding on. They improved a little in the second half, keeping Gosport at bay but never really creating any chances of note. The visitors took the lead on 73 minutes, a long throw was put in from the right and former Hayes & Yeading striker Ben Wright poked home from within a crowded penalty area. The second was a goal from journeyman Craig McCallister, most famous for a productive spell at Crawley Town. His close-range shot on 81 minutes deceived Dunstable goalkeeper Nathan Harness and from then on there was no danger of the points heading anywhere but back to Hampshire. On the field, the visitors were a cut above, but Dunstable were top class hosts, which I was very grateful for. It all goes down to Saturday now, both sides facing trips to mid-table opposition. Gosport have a two-goal advantage and travel to St Neots Town while Dunstable travel to Frome who will be a tougher opponent than when they surrendered to Gosport last weekend. I headed home with the other 352 fans, having had a good night. I left at 9.50, getting back at 10.30 after a decent journey.



THE GROUND

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. The ground is very close to the town and there are a number of good looking pubs including The Gary Cooper which is a Wetherspoons outlet, The Globe and The Pheasant Inn. Of course, with it being the town, there are plenty of takeaways too.


SCORES ON THE DOORS

1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Well kept but had only metal stands (5)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
A mile from town, lots of parking (6)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Made to feel very welcome (9)

4: Value for money
Complimentary entry (10)

5: Social Media & Website
Both excellent (8)

6: Programme
Free, well presented, online only (8)

7: Game entertainment
Tense, but reasonably entertaining (6)

8: Tea Bar
Lots of choices and great value, friendly but service variable (8)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
Small and basic range but smart (6)

10: Club Shop
None (-)

TOTAL SCORE OUT OF 90: 66
AVERAGE SCORE 7.33 

GROUND PHOTOS


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