Tuesday 9th October 2018 ko 19.45
Spartan South Midlands League- Premier Division Cup 2nd Round
CRAWLEY GREEN 1 (Silford 52)
BIGGLESWADE FC 3 (Cookman 35 Marsh 47 Coles 60p)
Sat, as I often am at my PC I had a problem. I’d spotted an interesting weekend away involving flights to and from Luton Airport, but getting there on a Friday looked rather tight for time, especially during rush hour, with Robyn having no holiday allowance left at work. Then I spotted Crawley Green had a midweek game- it was time to try a dry run…
It is just about superfluous to comment that Crawley Green is a district of Luton, and their ground, “The Brache” in Park Street is virtually adjacent to Luton Airport. But after that it all starts to get complicated.
The club dates from 1992 and took on a 99 year lease on Crawley Green Sports & Social Club, but progress was stymied by lack of floodlights and the unwillingness of the local authorities to let them light their home. The result was an 11-year groundshare at Barton Rovers.
The Brache (not to be confused with former SSML club Brache Sparta, Foxdell Rec’ is on the other side of Luton) was home to Vauxhall Motors (Luton) who played Isthmian League football from 1985 to 1991 before folding in no small part to the landlord replacing the grass pitch with an astroturf surface designed for field hockey.
These days The Brache is Luton Town’s training ground, and that troublesome pitch is now a high-spec 3G one, and with the wooden stand still in situ from Vauxhall Motors’ time, Crawley Green needed to provide changing rooms, and a small amount of covered standing to move in, and home for the start of this season.
The ground is interesting, and please don’t interpret that in a perjorative sense. The Brache shows all three phases of its existance, the Vauxhall weathervane and stand, the clubhouse from Luton Town, and the additional cover and the changing rooms from Crawley Green.
The game as intriguing, not least with the derivation of the visitors. They used to be Biggleswade Town’s youth team, but split away for the start of the 2016/17 season. Nevertheless, they still play at the Carlsberg Stadium, and play in green, all of which will certainly raise a few eyebrows amongst the groundhoppers!
Whatever the connnection with Town, Biggleswade FC are certainly doing well this season, top of the table, and with only one defeat coming into this game. And in all honesty they didn’t look like losing this one, despite the hosts working hard to keep them at bay. 1-3 was a fair reflection on play but as ever there was a far bigger picture than just the game.
It’ll take time to feel that way but it was lovely to see Crawley Green making a home back in Luton, and co-incidentally great to see The Brache back in pyramid football. Finally my mad dash did prove I could, with a fair wind, get to Luton Airport in time. Six weeks later, I drove past The Brache and gave the place a little nod of thanks.