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GROUND // Crabble Athletic Ground - Dover Athletic FC (England)

We have done Germany and The Netherlands before. It was time to visit a new country now. There's no better option than the "home of football"; England!

After arriving in Dover by boat, one of the first things on our schedule was a visit to Crabble Athletic Ground. This is the home ground of Dover Athletic FC and what a pleasant surprise this turned out to be. Crabble Athletic Ground is perhaps better known as The Crabble or just simply Crabble. It shows this is already a fairly old ground, looking at some of the stands. They were well maintained, but most of the stands we saw clearly are from the 60s/70s period.

The biggest surprise was the newest addition. The family stand has been torn down recently (according to the clubs own people it was literally falling apart) and a new stand is being built as we speak. Special to see; this new stand is made completely in wood.

The Crabble was opened in 1931 already and has been the home ground of different teams. People in the Dover area already saw football on that spot in 1897 when the first sports facilities were opened there. The actual stadium was built in 1931. This is the so called upper pitch. Before 1931 the lower pitch was shared between the football team, rugby team and the cricket team. Obviously this sometimes led to some frustration.

Officially the stadium can hold up to 5745 people, a number which was almost reached in 2015 in an FA cup game against Crystal Palace. The absolute record was just under 7000 in 1951 however in the local derby against the neighbouring Folkestone. According to the local security guy people used to climb in the trees around the stadium in order to see the game when it was too crowded, or just simply to watch the game for free. It's very remarkable to see the stadium is built on a hill. The pitch is going down on one side while the stands are straight. Odd to see.

Currently Dover Athletic FC is using The Crabble, but originally this was the home of Dover FC. Dover FC had a history of ups and downs. It was founded in 1894 but folded in 1901 already. In 1902 they started over again, but again they folded. This time in 1909. In 1920 they were back as Dover United FC, but it only lasted until 1933. A year later an incarnation of the team was created, again Dover FC. But the story ended again, this time in 1947. In 1947 a new semi professional team was created, again Dover FC. This time it would last for a longer period and they would even get good results. Dover FC would win the Kent league twice and get good results in the Southern league as well. This time the story ended in 1983 due to financial problems.

The current Dover Athletic FC was immediately founded afterwards. Dover Athletic started off very successfully. They took over the spot of Dover FC and after a few years they won promotion to Conference. After a few years with financial struggles around Y2K the teams financial status improved and it seems to be a solid team now. The biggest rival is the neighbouring Folkestone Invicta (did we or did we not visit this one?). We felt very welcome here. All staff members were very open and friendly!


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