On 2nd January 1894, Mr. GH Barford of Luton Town wrote to all known clubs in the county, and invited them to a meeting in the Cowper Arms Coffee Tavern, Luton. The meeting, held on January 16th 1894, was for the purpose of deciding if it were possible to form a County Association, which became necessary due to a recent FA stipulation. Nine clubs turned up, a Mr. White and a Mr. Bull representing Dunstable. A month later the County Association was formed, with Luton Town, Bedford Town, Markyate and Dunstable Town still in operation.
From the above information it would appear that Dunstable Town first saw the light of day in October 1883.
The first annual meeting of the county took place on August 30th 1894, and was attended by a Mr. Whitbread, who donated a trophy for competition among the member clubs. The County Cup was born. There was, it seems, great excitement among the Dunstable support and members when they drew Luton Montrose in the first round. Montrose were the top dogs at the time.
In the build up to the cup match, the Blues, as they were known even then, defeated Luton Victoria 10-0, and beat both Wolverton and Leighton 4-0. Early in November interest in the club was so high that a reserve side was formed. The kick-off in those pre-floodlight days was 3.30 – impossible you might think, but during the last war the clocks were altered by 2 hours, making it the lunar equivalent of 1.30 today.
A packed train of supporters left Dunstable North and headed for Bury Park for the match. The game was full of controversy and incident. Thanks to the brilliance of Mr. A Beasley, Dunstable’s outside-left, the Blues were 3-0 up in 20 minutes, and a cup shock was on the cards. The Montrose side became, it is reported, very rough after the third goal and Beasley had to retired with a broken arm following a loutish tackle by a Montrose defender. The injury was attended to by a doctor who was summoned. The home team pulled one back near half time.
In the second half the home side continued to use strong arm tactics against the ten men Dunstable and soon equalised. Dunstable fought back hard, but couldn’t prevent the home team from scoring the winner.
The Dunstable support, it is reported, were very unhappy about the referee and tactics employed by Luton Montrose, who went on to win the first ever Beds Senior Cup. However, justice was done and Dunstable won the trophy the following season. It was to be the last time until 1956. Due to the horrendous conditions in the winter of 1894, no further play took place until February 1895.
Although detailed history is very sketchy for the new few years, the club was “re-awakened” in 1950, when a band of volunteers led by Frank Nicholls, and encouraged by Town Mayor Alderman Tom Sandland worked hard to make a field at Kingsway, behind Bagshawe’s, into a football ground good enough to enter the fairly new Metropolitan League (which included teams such as Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Fulham, and Luton).
Dunstable enjoyed a relatively safe first season in the Metropolitan League, finishing 11th in a league of 16 teams. Warning bells started to sound in the 1951-52 season when the league was cut to 14 teams, but a good run of form saw Dunstable finishing 10th. With the league returning to 16 teams for the 1952-53 season, Dunstable had a good 7th place finish. The 1956-57 season saw Dunstable reach the first round proper of the FA Cup, losing 3-1 away at Margate.
The first Board of Directors was formed in 1962 by Alderman Wally Creasey. When the time came to move from Kingsway, an open field in Brewers Hill was converted into a football club, and between 1958 and 1962 the facilities were improved greatly. Wally Creasey and his associates left Luton Town and helped put Dunstable Town Football Club on the map. Many thousands of pounds were spent, and many of the players had come straight from Luton Town’s first team, including Terry Kelly, Seamus Dunne (Manager), Brendan McNally, and many others. When Mr. Creasey died, the club was named after him, and his widow, Joyce unveiled the plaque on the main stand naming the ground Creasey Park.
With the ever-expanding Metropolitan League size, Dunstable’s end-of-season position got better and better. Whilst records are unclear as to the final position and results of the majority of games, the 1964-65 season saw Dunstable promoted to the Southern League. The notes in ‘Bert’s Banter’ in the 1965-66 programme in the home match against Dover, however, state ‘You must admit that we have finished off the last year with a flourish, and looking at the league table this isn’t bad for our first Southern League season, and I am convinced we will be a lot higher before the end of the season’. Dunstable were to remain in the Southern League, and climb into the Premier before long.
Mid-table finishes, and relegation scrapes (20th out of 22 teams in 1967-68) saw Dunstable battling for their place in the Southern League Division 1. After finishing 19th out of 20 in the 1970-71 season, the club was moved into the regional division of the Southern Premier. More bottom of the table finishes saw Dunstable end the 1972-73 season at the foot of Division 1 North, having won just 5 games all season, and scoring only 26 goals. Having finished in the bottom three for six years in a row (as incorrectly stated in Barry Fry’s autobiography), the aforementioned figure took the reins at Creasey Park as manager. Fry’s first two games in charge pulled in 34 and 42 fans respectively. Dunstable finished at the foot of the table again, but there were changes to be made…
Dunstable had a new owner – Mr. Keith Cheeseman. That name is more than enough to send shivers down the spine of any knowledgeable Dunstable Town fan. Sent to prison in 1990 after being hunted down at his villa on the Costa del Sol by the FBI for laundering £242million worth of bonds, having previously ruined Dunstable Town Football Club single-handedly. Many believe that were it not for Cheeseman’s previous involvement with Dunstable, we’d have a much better standing in the press and minds of the public than we currently do. Who knows where we would be now?
Cheeseman had a lot of money, or so it seemed. He would often leave blank, signed cheques with Fry, and there were no limits to the spending. Former West Brom and England striker Jeff Astle was bought in, and George Best even gave the club £25 out of his own pocket to buy a new set of nets. It was shortly after that Best agreed to sign for Dunstable in the pre-season of 1974-75. That season was to see Dunstable promoted back to the Southern Premier, having scored 105 goals – the same amount they’d conceded two season earlier. New signing Jeff Astle was the scorer of 34 of the goals.
However, it seems things were not quite as they seemed, and perhaps Cheeseman didn’t so much have money, but figures. After getting Dunstable into serious debt with his mis-dealings, the club was shut down in the 1975-76 season. Dunstable Football Club was formed to take over the fixtures of Dunstable Town, and they finished 8th out of 22 in the 1975-76 season. Unfortunately, due to being a ‘new’ club, they had to begin the next season in Division 1 North, where they finished in the bottom three.
The days of Harold Stew and John Crumley in the Southern League – Southern Division saw Dunstable linger around mid-table for the duration of the 1980s and early 1990s. At the end of the 1993-94 season, the club closed for the second time.
In early 1997, the acquisition of Creasey Park was first negotiated by Steve Kaye and Darren Croft, to enable Dunstable to again have a thriving non-league football club. In the summer of 1998, this dream came true, when Darren Croft and Paul Reeves took over as managers of Dunstable Town Football Club under Steve Kaye as chairman. The first season was very successful, and at some points promotion was a very realistic aim. However, the club finished the season in 5th position, just missing out on promotion. The South Midlands Division 1, however, was stormed during the 1999-00 season, with The Blues winning the title and going unbeaten through the entire season to gain promotion. The following season was again a promotion season, finishing 2nd to move into the South Midlands Premier. This season also saw our record unbeaten run of 51 matches end in a narrow 1-0 away loss at Tooting & Mitcham in the FA Vase.
The first season in the South Midlands Premier saw a 7th place finish. The team was built upon, and Dunstable Town stormed the league once again to be crowned Champions and earn promotion into the Ryman League Division 1 North when Steve Kaye resigned after seeing a success on the pitch in his years as chairman. Due to league restructuring, Dunstable were promoted into the Southern Premier for the 2004-05 season. This was to be one of the toughest seasons in Dunstable’s history. A 6-0 home defeat at the hands of Chippenham on the opening day of the season saw the start of a very tough battle.
The Blues crashed out of the FA Cup in the 2nd qualifying round at home to AFC Wimbledon in October, followed by a nasty ten game losing streak, and the loss of joint-manager Darren Croft, along with a host of talented players saw the Blues’ future looking bleak. However, ex-Chelsea and England legend Kerry Dixon was drafted in as joint-manager for the ever-present and truly dedicated Paul Reeves, and Roger Dance became the new chairman of Dunstable Town Football Club. The club has avoided its third closure, which it was literally hours away from. The Blues were eventually relegated to Division One West and roughly three thousand miles on the road, but the makings of a good side was there if they could be kept.
2005/06 saw another worrying point for the Blues. Following their first ever relegation, pre-season saw a large number of players leave to other local sides. As the first team’s season deteriorated, Gary Worth and Lee Cowley’s youth team took the SCYFL Nemean division by storm, reaching two cup finals and a quarter final to cap off a remarkable time for the youngsters, although it’d be unfair to call them the future, as almost a dozen of them had patched up the first team at various points of the season. As talented as these teenagers were, they were unable to prevent a 21st place finish in the Western Division. The long-serving Paul Reeves tendered his resignation following a disastrous season which saw large amounts of his work of the past eight years, go up in smoke.
As the Regiment prepared to mount an assault on the Spartan South Midlands League, the FA announced the National Game Constitution, which to the delight of Towns’ fans, saw Dunstable stay at step 4, moving to the new and vastly more suitable Midland Division. With the new management of Darren Feighery, new reserve and youth ‘B’ sides, The Blues witnessed a fantastic season which saw the Bedfordshire Senior Cup, Bedfordshire Premier Cup, Colwyn Cup, Eastern Junior Cup and SCYFL Delphian division title come to Creasey Park as well as a strong mid-table finish for the first team.
1895/96 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1956/57 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1959/60 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1974/75 – Southern League D1 North runners-up. Promoted to Premier.
1979/80 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1980/81 – Beds Premier Cup Winners
1982/83 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1982/83 – Beds Premier Cup Winners
1985/86 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1986/87 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1987/88 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1988/89 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
1990/91 – Beds Premier Cup Winners
1991/92 – Beds Under 16 Cup Winners
1993/94 – Beds Under 16 Cup Winners
1997/98 – Beds Under 18 Cup Winners
1998/99 – Beds Under 18 Cup Winners
1999/00 – South Midlands D1 Champions. Promoted to Senior Division.
1999/00 – Beds Intermediate Cup Winners
2000/01 – South Midlands Senior Division runners-up. Promoted to Premier.
2002/03 – South Midlands Premier Champions. Promoted to Ryman League.
2002/03 – Beds Senior Cup Winners
2003/04 – Promoted to Southern Premier
2006/07 – Eastern Junior Cup Winners
2006/07 – Colwyn Cup Winners
2006/07 – Beds Senior Cup Winners. Competition record of ten times.
2006/07 – Beds Premier Cup Winners
2007/08 – Beds Under 18 Floodlit Cup Winners