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Princes Park
Dartford v Luton Town
  Tuesday, February 12th 2013, 7.45pm
Blue Square Premier
By Paul Willott
(Luton Town fan)

As some-one who recalled how the dubious demise of Maidstone United also practically sunk their "landlords" in the shape of Dartford FC, I was looking forward to this fixture if only to see Dartford now playing at a higher level than when they had the carpet pulled from under them. I had driven past the ground on a few occasions too, and seeing it from the road certainly made it look quite intriguing.

On the evening in question, I drove to the ground and parked the car on the access road to the stadium, and walked up to the slight hill to the entrance turnstiles for the away fans next to the car park.

Oddly enough, it being a night match meant that some of the "greener" aspects of the stadium weren't perhaps as obvious as they might otherwise have been, but I would still fully concur with the guide's observation that the ground is certainly quite distinctive and a far-cry from some of the bland modern stadia that have sprung up around the country.

Whilst waiting for the pay-on-turnstile tickets to actually arrive, I struck up conversations with both elements of the local police and stewards and found the atmosphere to be very relaxed and friendly.

Once inside the ground, I sampled the edible fayre on offer and found both the freshly made hot-dogs and the burgers very filling and appetising, all reasonably priced.  

The ground, whilst compact, is no mean affair, and certainly wouldn't look out of place in League Two, although the "wooden man" seems not quite so striking when not viewed in daylight. One observation I did make though was a collection of politically motivated adverts placed around the ground clearly campaigning on behalf of the Conservative Party, using slogans such as "Princes Park ; built by a CONSERVATIVE council".  Its the first time I've ever encountered such political adverts in a sports ground, and it didn't sit comfortably with me, I must confess. Much as I will praise ANY council for providing good facilities for its communities and sporting clubs, I didn't think it appropriate to use said venues to make political capital.

Once the game commenced, there was a lively enough atmosphere, which amplified as the second half commenced because the vocal home supporters, initially behind the opposite goal to the away fans moved to the section of the Wooden Man Terrace nearest the away fans which turned up the atmosphere a few notches.

The game itself was average, Luton never really imposing themselves on the game that they may have tempted themselves to think they could win at a canter, and in fact the more the second half continued, the more the home side grew in confidence, and 72nd minute goal for Dartford that settled the encounter did really have an air of inevitability about it.

I know I wasn't the only one in the Luton contingent to suspect that this was an omen that Luton may yet fail to achieve promotion overall, which ultimately proved correct come the end of the season.

Getting away from the ground was easy enough, and I enjoyed the match ; the right team won ( sadly ) on the night, and it was a good ground :- but lets leave the party politics out of football please !!


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