Slightly over five weeks ago, James Slack, Operations Manager at Creasey Park, wrote to both Dunstable Town and fellow groundsharers, AFC Dunstable, to warn that without much needed rainfall the junior and youth section pitches at Creasey Park may not be ready for the start of the season or the DTFC Annual Tournament.
The summer heatwave seems already confined to the dim and distant past and the pitches, so thirsty for water only a few weeks ago, looked green and in pristine condition, thanks to the timely rainfall, as the players, coaches and parents started to arrive while most of the local populace was still enjoying a Saturday morning lie in.
With well- rehearsed, military style precision the car park gates were unlocked at 7 am and our wonderful volunteers and stewards swung into action to execute a plan which saw the safe arrival and departure of over 160 separate teams from as far afield as Lincolnshire.
Unlike the nation’s trains…the games ran on time, the sun shone, but most importantly of all, the young players enjoyed themselves immensely playing in front of enthusiastic crowds of parents, family and visitors.
The success of the weekend is due to the selfless devotion of many of the Youth Section’s Committee and the tireless hours they volunteered to make things work and leave a lasting positive impression of all things Dunstable Town FC.
That meant when people arrived they were met at the gate with smiles and a warm welcome by Jimmy & Danielle. They then walked past the tempting culinary delights of the Caribbean food stall, the burgers and hot dogs van, and DTFC approved ice cream vendor ( thank you Lou ) then progressed to the registrations and results tent where Vince, Jackie & their family provided more friendly welcomes and helpful advice.
Overseeing events and rushing from one area to another was Youth Section Secretary, Adie Dunne, who had worked tirelessly behind the scenes helping to put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. Youth Section Chairman, Martin Jeffs, reflected on the success of another tournament and how he became involved in the Youth Section and presided over the transitions that have taken place over the years and have enabled the Club to provide a sustainable and buoyant Youth Section for the area’s local children and youth.
Since stewardship of the Club passed to the supporters in May 2017, the present board and committee have challenged themselves to try and unify the three separate sections of the Club, Youth, Development & First Team. The sight of Development Team Coach, Colin Lauder, chatting away to Tyler & Jackie about links between their two respective teams was enough to put a smile on my face, and warm the cockles of my heart, as is the sight of the passionate and regular support for the First Team from so many of the Youth Section coaches and parents.
We’re not where we want to be yet, but the good will of all concerned to try and build the Club into a sustainable, members run, pathway Club, where there is a clear link year after year for players to progress if they chose to stay at Dunstable Town is slowly but surely taking shape.
There are far too many people I met over the weekend and wanted to thank for their dedication and service, and no doubt I will have forgotten one or two names, so to Wayne Upton, Wayne Brodie, Steve & Kristy Lewington, Adie, Danielle, Jimmy, Jib, Vince, Jackie and Tyler, our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for all you do. To Neil, Dudley, Katrina and Colin, a thank you for your fund- raising initiatives. Thanks also for the hot food providers and ice cream seller who looked after the hungry and thirsty and to Creasey Park staff who as usual provided wonderful food and service.
A final thought and a final word to pay tribute and to remember the life of Under 14’s player, Ethan Houghton, who was killed two years ago, aged just 13, in a road traffic accident. A photo of Ethan and an in memoriam was on the final page of the Tournament programme and reminded us all that this is indeed one Club and one family and that there could be no more fitting a tribute to Ethan’s memory than for his peers to be out on the field playing the game that he and they loved to play in the Tournament.
One Club. One Family. Dunstable Town FC.