George Best wouldn’t recognise it now.
Primped and pimped Creasey Park is far removed from the arena which staged Bestie’s appearance in the town – probably the most sensational event in Dunstable’s recent history.
As a cub reporter here in the mid-80s the tale was regularly recycled by locals who had a glimpse of glory courtesy of the Manchester United hero.
Barry Fry’s verbal gymnastics and presumably a bit of money enlisted him to play at the ground in the mid-70s (Jeff Astle also played) and he played three times for Dunstable.
It attracted national attention and thousands turned up to watch him. Famous Daily Mail columnist Keith Waterhouse, I’m told, came to see him and wrote an entire column on how, swamped by demands for refreshments, club staff were reduced to selling the local delicacy, crisp sandwiches, to hungry fans.
But Bestie was not playing for this lot, who are a different bunch entirely. Though evidence of his spell here is above the bar.
They call themselves the OD’s (though they don’t need the apostrophe). Not short for overdoses but Old Dunstablians – a reference to the old grammar school. The local rugby club are Old Dunstablians -their chairman once called me a bastard for digging out a story that they’d secretly hosted a touring apartheid-era South African rugby team – so AFC has been adopted to differentiate the two sporting entities.
The place has been spruced up nicely. New EVERYTHING. Even the hardstanding outside the stadium perimeter – I remember puddles and holes.
And two clubs now play here – South Midlands League AFC and the latest version of Bestie’s old muckers – Dunstable Town, who are now in the Southern Premier League.
FA Cup preliminary round replay
They drew up in Milton Keynes on Saturday and the return attracted a healthy 120 or so to new Creasey Park.
Pagnell’s green kit was well to the fore early on – known as the Swans, their badge is strikingly similar to Swansea City’s – as they took the lead with a penalty after the home keeper Perks clobbered Josh Crawley after he was put through. Crawley put away the spot-kick with aplomb and it looked like the key to more goals.
The one-way traffic barely let up for most of the first half.
But Pagnell’s Crawley then netted an own goal just before half-time, from a cross into the box, and ODs came off for the break undeservedly level.
That put some pep in their legs and it was a far superior side that took the field in the second-half.
Lots of good balls into the box, a fair bit of aggression and the pressure was cranked up.
BJ Christie up front kept causing problems with an aerial and physical threat and the visiting back four were wheezing by 80 minutes.
In the last minute, a corner was forced (as on the video), it was banged long to the far post and the resulting knockdown was cracked in superbly as Leon Cashman cashed in.
Barely time to kick off after that and the ref blew. Just about the right outcome. The OD’s pressed relentlessly throughout the second half having been let off the hook in the first half.