Capacity: 4,100 (Seated 645)
Address: Darenth Road, Dartford, DA1 1RT
Telephone: 01322 299990
Pitch Size: 109 x 70 yards
Club Nickname: The Darts
Year Ground Opened: 2006
Home Kit: White and Black
Having been opened in 2006, you would be forgiven for assuming that this is just another identikit bland stadium, similar to many others that have recently been built around the country. But in the case of Princes Park you would be wrong, it is anything but ordinary. This is mostly due to its green credentials, being probably the most environmentally friendly football ground so far constructed in the UK. These credentials include amongst other things, collecting rain water for use within the stadium, producing its own electricity from solar panels, having timber beams to support the roof (which incidentally has a covering of green vegetation to provide insulation and help the stadium blend into its surroundings) and having the pitch sunken below the surrounding ground level to reduce noise and light pollution. And then of course there is the 'Wooden or Oak Man'. Whereas stadiums costing ten times as much have little to write home about apart from the price of the entrance ticket, then Dartford have instilled character in theirs, with this towering wooden sculpture. He stands inside the stadium with his arms stretched up aloft and appears from a distance to be holding up the roof. Certainly something which is unique.
On one side is the Main Stand. This stand is all seated and comprises just four rows, seating in total 645 spectators. It has the team dugouts at its front and a glassed area at the rear, which contains amongst other things the clubhouse bar. Like the rest of the stadium, the roof is situated quite high above the spectator area and has a slight oval angle to it. The other three sides of the stadium are small terraced areas, being around seven rows high. Opposite the Main Stand the Wooden Man sculpture stands on the terrace, keeping a watchful eye over proceedings. All four corners of the stadium are enclosed, although these areas are not used for spectators. The stadium is completed with a set of four floodlight pylons.
If segregation is in force then away fans are housed in the Car Park End. This covered terrace has a capacity of 700. In addition a small number of seats (24) are made available in the Main Stand. With no supporting pillars to contend with, then sightlines of the pitch are good. Although the ground is totally enclosed, it feels quite open as there is quite a large gap between the back of the stands and the stadium roof. Although this may allow more light and air into the stadium, so it does for wind and rain.
Mike Kimberley from the Ninety-Two Club adds; 'Princes Park is a pleasant, well designed and comfortable ground. The club house is accessible from inside the ground (if segregation is not on force) and has a spacious bar area with plenty of seating. All the facilities were quite adequate including an area for wheelchairs, and their assistants if necessary, in all four corners of the ground. The stewarding was pleasant, friendly and low key.'
There is a small bar at the ground called the Defluo Bar which is specifically for the use of away fans. I believe that this bar also has Sky television. The entrance to it is in the car park at the away end of the stadium. There are also two good sized bars at the stadium, which also have Sky television, however these are more for home supporters. The nearest pub to the ground is the Ivy Leaf on Darenth Road, which is about a five minute walk away (from the stadium entrance turn right along Darenth Road, cross over the main road at the traffic lights and the pub is further up Darenth Road on the right). Whilst further along the same road is the Malt Shovel, which also does food. Both these pubs are listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
Otherwise Dartford Town Centre is around a 15 minute walk away, where there are plenty of pubs to be found. Ones of note are the CAMRA Good Beer Guide listed Wat Tyler on the High Street, the Paper Moon Wetherspoons outlet opposite and another Wetherspoons outlet called the Flying Boat on Spital Street.
From the North:
After going over the Dartford Crossing (which costs £2 per car), leave the motorway at Junction 1b and take the left hand slip road for A225 Dartford. At the roundabout at the end of the slip road above the motorway turn right the Esso garage onto the A225 towards Dartford. Go straight across the next roundabout, passing a BP garage on the right. At the next set of traffic lights turn left into Darenth Road and then take the second left into Grassbanks for the stadium.
From the South:
Leave the M25 at Junction 2 (signposted A2/Dartford A225). At the roundabout below the roundabout take the Dartford A225 exit. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit by the Esso garage onto the A225 towards Dartford. Go straight across the next roundabout, passing a BP garage on the right. At the next set of traffic lights turn left into Darenth Road and then take the second left into Grassbanks for the stadium.
There is a car park at the stadium which has 300 spaces and is free. If this is full then drivers are directed towards the Orchards Shopping Centre Car Park, which charges £2 for 3-4 hours.
Dartford railway station is located just over a mile away from Princes Park. It is served by trains from Charing Cross and London Bridge. If on leaving the station you follow the pedestrian signs for the Orchard Shopping Centre then before the bridge going across the main road, descend the steps down to the road side. Just to left you will find a row of bus stops including the Fastrack B bus stop. This service runs every ten minutes during the day (every 20 minutes in the evenings) to the Bluewater Shopping Centre and stops at Princes Park. The cost (one way) is Adults £1, Children 50p. Otherwise a taxi from the station to the stadium will cost around £5.
Otherwise the ground is a 15-20 minute walk away. Descend down the steps as above (or at the bottom of the station approach road) keep to the left along the main road and at the roundabout take the exit signposted Central London (A2). At the next traffic lights bear left onto the A226 (signposted Dartford Crossing/Darent Hospital). Proceed up the hill and on reaching the Malt Shovel pub on your right, turn right onto Darenth Road. Continue along Darenth Road passing the Ivy Leaf pub on your left. Go straight across the main road at the traffic lights and then take the second left into Grassbanks for the stadium.
Remember if travelling by train then you can save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.
Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can normally save.
Click on the trainline logo below:
Over 65's £8
Under 18's £5*
Under 13's £2
Under 5's Free
* Evidence of age may be required to qualify for reduced admission.
Official Programme: £2.50
Ebbsfleet, Welling and Dover.
4,097 v Horsham YMCA
Ryman League, 11 November 2006
2013-2014: 1,251 (Conference Premier)
2012-2013: 1,334 (Conference Premier)
2011-2012: 1,246 (Conference South)
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Dartford v Grimsby Town
Saturday, October 4th 201, 3pm
Glynn Sharkey (Grimsby Town fan)
I've been to Princes Park a few times and although it's not one of my favourite grounds or even towns, it's still an excuse for a good day out and a meet up with southern based fellow Mariners. Unfortunately this was going to be one of those days where it didn't quite go to plan as various mates had to drop out at the last minute.
It was the usual early morning choo choo from Dumpcaster to Kings Cross and an underground shunt to Waterloo where I was supposed to be meeting a couple of the lads for drinks at the "Hole in the wall" pub, but due to the proverbial unexpected it was instead arranged to meet up with the rest in Dartford. I nipped across the road to Waterloo East station where you can catch the Dartford train after it leaves Charring Cross and while on the platform I found out some lads would be very late and some wouldn't make it at all.
Being a friendless Billy no mates for the afternoon I left Dartford station and took the short walk into town where I found The Flying Boat which is a Wetherspoons pub. Bingo.. Doom Bar for £2.30 and a managers special Flaming Dragon curry for under 3 notes. Both the food and beer were top notch and the atmosphere in this very busy but tidy pub was excellent, as was the service. Highly recommended.
From here I tried a couple of other places, one being another Spoons but I wasn't too fussed so decided to take a walk towards the ground and hopefully meet up with anyone at the Ivy Leaf pub, which is maybe 10 minutes from the away end turnstiles. This was where it, or rather I, all went wrong again. Walking up a slight hill I noticed the Malt Shovel and from past experience knew I had to walk past it, which I did, for about a mile and a half, in the rain. I had carried straight on past it instead of turning right and going past it. No one I asked had ever heard of Dartford FC and I ended up on some estate, wet, grumpy and lost. I asked a gentleman parked outside a house for directions and he laughed at how far astray I was, told me to jump in, and when his Dartford supporting grandson came out gave me a lift to the Ivy Leaf.
Sir, I very rudely forgot your name but if you ever read this I am eternally grateful for the kindness and for that alone don't begrudge Dartford the point.
Half way down my second delicious local brewed pint, Bob ambled through the door. Wet and bedraggled he had come on his motorbike from East London so it was a quick one and then off to the match. Him chugging alongside me while I managed a very respectable 14mph, well for a few hundred yards.
The ground looks quite tidy from the outside but it's a bit out of the way with nothing much around it. There is a supporters club and although I've not used it I have been told its okay. Inside it looks quite nice with very different looking curved roofs on the stands and one side stand has the famous wooden bloke holding up the roof. I stated earlier that it's not one of my favourites but to be fair can't really say why. There's nothing wrong with the place, the toilets were as good as you get, the catering was top notch and even though they sold out of chips it wasn't because the stewards had them on their shoulders as is too often the case. The staff (and fans) were a credit to the club, very friendly.
As for the match, well we've said for years that the football gets in the way of a good day out. It was pretty dour and uninspiring. No score at half time and we were lucky to get nil. One of the delights of non league, and to be honest one I haven't quite got my head around, is the way some supporters change ends at half time. When I first started going in the 70's it was called a pitch invasion!
Second half, they score and sections of our support are calling for the managers head. Town are playing like it's the first time they have met and their idea of crossing is the one over the river on the way here. All of a sudden our star striker hits the net via the spot, it's a point but we robbed them.
Straight out at the final whistle and a fast pace to Dartford station saw me back in London and at Kings Cross an hour before my train with time for a kebab and pint(s), although not much change from 5 notes a pint of Black Cab stout at the stations "Parcel Yard" pub.
Got home before midnight and chilled with a large single malt, a nice friendly club but for some reason didn't quite do it for me and I really can't explain why. If it wasn't for my mates down south it's one I might have given a miss.
Dartford v Luton Town
Tuesday, February 12th 2013, 7.45pm
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!!
Dartford v Tamworth
Saturday, August 11th 2012, 3pm
Scot Rowland (Tamworth fan)
1. Why were you looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be)?
Obviously with it being the start of a new season I was very much looking forward to the game. As well as having seen details of Princes Park since its construction it promised to be a very interesting stadium to visit.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
My journey was obviously a slight more hectic than it would normally be due to the Olympics. I travelled to Stratford from Ipswich on the 09:09 service then took the DLR to Greenwich then a train from Greenwich to Dartford arriving at 11:45. Heading to Stratford and then onto Greenwich both of which were extremely busy and did make the journey slightly more difficult. The ground is quite easy to find and there is quite a bit of parking at the stadium and the surrounding areas if you choose to drive.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy. Home fans friendly:
We took a taxi from the train station to Darenth Road to the Ivy Leaf pub that cost around £4. We found to our dismay that it was shut (it doesn't open until 1pm) so we first took in a drink at The Malt Shovel (also on Darenth Road). This was quite a nice pub with a cosy bar area and a lot of seating at the rear. We then headed to The Ivy Leaf which is again quite a nice pub with a very nice beer garden to the side. It does tend to get busy with it being so close to the ground but the home fans we came across were extremely friendly and the pub overall has a very good atmosphere.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of the away end and other sides of the ground:
I was awe stricken on seeing the stadium it is a fantastic place to watch a game of football. The mix of wood and concrete give the stadium a unique feel instead of many bland new stadiums. The quirky aspects of the ground add to the character of the stadium with the grass on the roof, and the wood on the roofs’ of the stands. All the stands are of a similar design; The Main Stand runs across the by-line and has a few rows to it with the bar (which is a very nice large bar, with a terrace outside looking over the ground) and other conferencing facilities to the rear of the seats. The three terraced stands are quite small with only a few rows terracing. The roof is quite high up so the ground feels open despite it being all covered and enclosed. In one corner is a basic scoreboard and then there is obviously the Wooden Man which I think is really good addition to the character of the stadium. The stadium is something to be proud of for Dartford and the fans I spoke to certainly were.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
The game was a very entertaining encounter. Tamworth started very well and deservedly took the lead when Peter Till found a way through and fired into bottom corner. Tamworth continued to press and got a second when Bonner tried to clear and blocked it and the ball came back of Bonner to fall for Adam Cunnington to coolly finish. Dartford started to step up and were awarded a free kick on the stroke of half time that smashed in.
Dartford started the second half brightly and passed the ball around well without creating too many clear cut chances. Mid way through the second half Cunnington hit a stunning strike with the outside of his boot into the top corner to make it 3-1 to Tamworth. Dartford pulled a goal back but after a tense last ten The Lambs held on for the win. The atmosphere was quite good from both sets of supporters with the roof of the stands being quite high good atmosphere can be created inside. The stewards were very good and obviously the facilities were again very good, the food inside the ground is quite good although a bit on the pricey side.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Walking was fine for us, but the car park bottlenecks at Grassbanks exiting from the stadium so I would assume that if using the car park it could require a bit of time to get away, also I noticed that the junction just down from the ground is very busy at the end of the game.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
Princes Park is undoubtedly a fantastic stadium and looks fantastic. The Dartford fans are a friendly bunch and makes for a great atmosphere before, during and after the game. This was a fantastic away day and I recommend a visit.