Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


September 2015

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dunstable Town

Dunstable Town FC are a non league football club who hail from the market town of Dunstable, which is located thirty miles north of London and six miles to the west of Luton in Bedfordshire. The club were originally formed in 1883 as they played in local competition.

Details of the club until 1950 are vague, when they joined the Metropolitan League playing at a ground at Kingsway. They left for a short while around the time the first board of directors was formed under the auspice of Alderman Wally Creasey, with several businessmen joining Dunstable with him from Luton Town. 

A new ground off Brewers Hill was developed between 1958 and 1962 with facilities being added. Players arrived from Luton as the Main Stand was unveiled in 1962 with the ground being named Creasey Park.

In 1965 'The Blues' became members of the Southern League and initially did pretty well before entering a period of struggle. In 1973 the club benefitted from the finance of Keith Cheesman who employed a young Barry Fry as manager and gave him an open chequebook to attract players. 

Fry did just that as Jeff Astle signed on with George Best also playing three times, bringing the crowds in. Predictably enough the cash soon ran out and the club went bust with the newly formed Dunstable FC taking over the clubs fixtures for the 1975-76 season.

For the following eighteen years Dunstable played in the bottom division of the Southern League before going bust once again.

A new Dunstable Town was formed in time for the 1998-99 season leasing out Creasey Park. In 2001 The Blues won promotion to the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, with a further two promotions in three years leading to a place in the Isthmian League Division One. After the restructuring of the leagues they were placed back in the Southern League Premier Division.

The former Main Stand at Creasey Park, scanned from a  book

Relegation soon followed as Kerry Dixon had a spell in charge. The club were reprieved a second successive demotion through other club's misfortunes, but they eventually went back down to the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division at the end of the disastrous 2007-08 season which saw the function hall at Creasey Park collapse after ground improvements had begun.

The clubs youngsters performed creditably on the pitch as Chairman Pete Burgoyne looked for a successor to bring about the progression of the club. Darren Croft came to the fore and brought about change on and off the pitch as some quality players were brought in with Creasey Park having the old stands demolished to be replaced by modern structures as well as a new changing room and function block as they became joint tenants with AFC Dunstable as the local council took charge of the complex. Town reached the FA Vase Fifth Round in 2010-11 before losing to eventual winners Whitley Bay.

The following season saw the redeveloped Creasey Park being officially opened as more experienced players came in which included four former Luton Town first teamers; Dean Brennan being one of them. The team went on to finish as runners up in the league, but at the end of the season Brennan left to take the managers job at Hemel Hempstead Town and taking several players with him as Roger Dance took over as club Chairman.

Town were crowned champions of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division in the 2012-13 season, winning promotion to the Southern League, going on to lift the Division One Central League title at the first attempt.

Tony Fontenelle's young side continued to impress in the Premier Division in the 2016-17 season as they consolidated their position.

Dunstable Town FC will play in the Southern League Premier Division in the 2017-18 season.

My visits

AFC Dunstable 2 Grays Athletic 3 (Sunday 4th September 2011) FA Cup Preliminary Round (att: 196)

Click on the link below to read all about it here:

Dunstable Town 1 Luton Town 0 (Thursday 26th July 2012) Bedfordshire Premier Cup Final (att: 396)

I had wanted to call back to Creasey Park when all the work had been completed, and this pre season cup tie was a great opportunity, especially as my old pal Gary Griffiths was staying in Kent and also wanted to attend. The weather was actually stunning for a third consecutive day in the wettest of all summers, so I decided to get to Luton and stretch my legs visiting Kenilworth Road and then The 61 Club for photos. I then took the bus to Dunstable, getting out at the local Wetherspoons called The Gary Cooper after the Western film star who attended school in the town before emigrating.

I was enjoying a fine pint of the highly recommended HumDinger from the Joseph Holt brewery in Manchester, when Gary rung. He was already at the ground, so we arranged to meet half way at the Mulberry Bush. I was in the mood for the Curry Club at the Cooper, but I jigged a joy of delight as I reached the Bush's car park and saw a large sign advertising a carvery. We sat in the garden and had a drink before I went to get stuck in, while my mate went for a curry. My meal was absolutely brilliant and great value at £5.25. If the town wasn't so far away I'd have considered more regular visits on the strength of this alone.

We toddled up Brewery Hill and into the ground, paying £6 admission plus 50p for a decent enough programme. Unfortunately the print was so minuscule that it necessitated me to purchase a magnifying glass later to read it. We popped our heads inside the functional if unspectacular bar and got a cup of tea from the refreshment kiosk, which seemed to offer a good choice. We decided to have a walk around the ground, which was unaltered since my last visit apart from everything had a year to bed in. It certainly offered scope for the future.

The entrance was in one corner with a section of open slightly sloped open standing in front along one touchline. A large building was at the rear containing the bar, changing rooms, toilets, refreshment counter and hospitality lounge. The far end had a hard standing path with a grassed slope behind it leading up to the artificial practice ground. The rest of the ground contained flat and grass open standing, with a modern seated stand on the half way line opposite the main facilities and a small standing cover behind the entrance end goal.

We watched the players warming up while enjoying our drinks. I saw some good training routines in operation before a line of players fired shots vaguely in the direction of the reserve goalkeeper, but more at the kids on the bank behind the goal.

The teams emerged and got stuck into the game straight away. We were stood near a Luton fan who told us that The Hatters were fielding a youth side with one or two others. Experience trailist Dean Brill was between the posts having being released by Barnet. The game was a feisty affair, with plenty of tackles flying in. The Blues players were keen to let their professional opponents know that they meant business. Luton were well on top for the first quarter before Dunstable got back into it. The first half ended goalless, with both sides spurning half chances.

The second was pretty similar with end to end play. The pace of the game was good, which made it a far better spectacle than so many pre season encounters. On the hour mark Lee Roache shot from on acute angle. Brill didn't live up to his name as he palmed the ball into the air and saw it come down behind him in the corner of the net.

Luton responded with several attacks, but a mixture of wasteful finishing and stout defending kept them at bay. At the other end the home players stretched the defenders. Nathan Frater looked to have a particularly good game. With just about the last attack of the game, The Hatters' Tinashe Chabata missed a free header when a few yards out following a corner. A few seconds later the referee blew for full time to the joy of the Dunstable players and supporters.

We made a quick getaway to beat the traffic out of the full car park. Gary drove me out of town and down Hatters Way behind the overhanging stands of Kenilworth Road to drop me by the footbridge at the end of Dunstable Road so that I could make it to the station for the 10.16 fast train back to West Hampstead.

It had been a good game, excellent company and as for that carvery!...

Dunstable Town 0 Slough Town 1 (Tuesday 11th October 2016) Southern League Premier Division (att: 208)

My good mate Tony Foster decided that this was his midweek game of choice, so I made my way to Stanmore station for a lift up the M1to see the impressive defensive unit of Slough Town in action once more.

The Rebels were supported in good numbers at Creasey Park, whose seated stand down the far side had been extended in length since my previous visit. The whole venue had that bit more lived in feel.

The match, which saw the fourth placed hosts take on the league leaders was an extremely tight affair, featuring lots of pace and skill. Dunstable hit the woodwork in the first half and made Slough work hard.

Five minutes after the restart, the Rebels showed why they were so ruthless. Their keeper Mark Scott made a neat save before clearing down the field. James Dobson’s low cross was clinically finished by Simon Dunn who fired past Jack Smith.

Late on both Andrew Phillips and Alex Cathline came close to an equaliser with headers, while Slough’s Charlie Moone found the side netting with his headed effort on the counter attack. The match was of a good standard but we were in agreement in our admiration of Slough's defence.

The visitors just about deserved the maximum points as they put in another master display in winning tight matches to stretch their winning run to nine league matches. The Rebels fans were celebrating with their victorious side as we got away before most of the traffic to head back down the M1.

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