Crabble Athletic Ground

Last updated

Crabble Athletic Ground
The view towards the Town End in 2009
Crabble Athletic Ground
Full nameCrabble Athletic Ground
Location River, Kent
Coordinates 51°08′17″N1°17′06″E / 51.138°N 1.285°E / 51.138; 1.285 Coordinates: 51°08′17″N1°17′06″E / 51.138°N 1.285°E / 51.138; 1.285
Owner Dover District Council
Operator Dover Athletic F.C.
Capacity 5,745 (1,010 seats) [1]
Field sizeUnknown
Built1931 (upper ground)
Dover United F.C. (1931–1933)
Dover F.C. (1934–1947)
Dover F.C. (1947–1983)
Dover Athletic F.C. (1983–present)
Margate F.C. (2002–2004)

The Crabble Athletic Ground, also known as simply Crabble, [2] or The Crabble [3] [4] is a football stadium located in the northern Dover suburb of River, Kent. It was the home of the various incarnations of Dover F.C. from 1931 until the club folded in 1983. Since then it has been the home of Dover Athletic F.C., and it was also the temporary home of Margate F.C. between 2002 and 2004, when the club's Hartsdown Park stadium was being redeveloped. The stadium has two seated stands and two covered terraces and holds a total of 5,745 fans (including 1,010 seats and 3,642 covered terracing), although in the past, crowds larger than that figure could be accommodated. It also has a clubhouse, which the club completely redeveloped in 2008.


A sports ground was first established on the site at the end of the 19th century and was used for both cricket and football as well as for other sports. This ground was used by Kent County Cricket Club for over 100 first-class cricket matches between 1907 and 1976 and is now the home of Dover Rugby Union Club.


The Crabble Meadows area shortly after the Athletic Ground was laid out in 1897 Crabble1890s.jpg
The Crabble Meadows area shortly after the Athletic Ground was laid out in 1897

In 1896, a syndicate of local businessmen began a project to create a sports complex at the site known as Crabble Meadows on the outskirts of Dover. The word Crabble, which is also found in the name of a local corn mill, [5] derives from the Old English crabba hol, meaning a hole in which crabs are found. [6] The project was an extremely costly one but was completed in 1897, [7] and football was first played on the Crabble site in the same year. [8] The ground was originally laid out on an 8 acres (3.2 ha) plateau "carved out of the side of the hill" [7] and was originally laid out to cater for cricket and football, with an athletics track and 640 yards (590 m) international standard cycling track around the edge of the playing surfaces. [7] [9]

In 1902, the original owners of the site, beset by financial problems, contemplated selling the land for redevelopment but eventually sold the site to the town council for £5,500. [7] The pitch was shared by the town's cricket and football teams, with the cricketers being given priority, which meant that the football team was forced to begin and end its season either with a long run of consecutive away matches or by playing matches at other, less satisfactory, venues in the town. To resolve the issue, the council opted to lay out a new football pitch further up the hillside, behind the lower pitch's pavilion. The first match played on the "upper pitch" took place in September 1931, with a small stand being constructed the following year. The football club then used the upper pitch whenever the lower pitch was unavailable due to cricket commitments. [9]

Dover F.C. applied for permission to build a grandstand on the southern side of the "upper pitch" in 1947, but the application was rejected. Three years later, the club was permitted to extend the existing small stand on the opposite side and in 1951, Dover F.C. moved to the upper pitch on a permanent basis, initially paying the council rent of £300 a year. [8] The final match on the lower pitch took place on 26 March 1951, and the first on the upper pitch was held eleven days later, when Fulham were Dover's opponents in a friendly. Due to a shortage of bolts, the grandstand had not actually been completed at this time. [1] Covered terracing at the Town End, where fans had previously stood on the hillside, was added soon afterwards. [8] Floodlights were added in 1961 and inaugurated with a match against a Chelsea XI. [1]

Dover F.C folded in 1983, but the newly formed Dover Athletic took over the ground and continued to make improvements. When the team won the Southern League championship in 1990, however, promotion to the Football Conference was refused on the grounds that the stadium did not meet the standard required by the higher division. [10] Subsequently, new turnstiles were installed and two new terraces were built behind the goals. The seating in the main stand was replaced and a second grandstand was added on the opposite side of the pitch. These improvements meant that the club was able to gain promotion after its second Southern League title in 1993. [8] In the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, Margate F.C. played home fixtures at the stadium while redevelopment work took place at their own Hartsdown Park ground. [11] What was originally intended to be a short-term arrangement ended up lasting for two years as the redevelopment work stalled. [12] [13]

The view towards the River End and re-built clubhouse in 2009 DovervStaines.jpg
The view towards the River End and re-built clubhouse in 2009

Between 2003 and 2004, the ground was known as the Hoverspeed Stadium under the terms of a sponsorship deal. [14] In 2007, the club announced that under another such arrangement, the stadium would be known as the SeaFrance Crabble Stadium, however a year later it was announced that the deal would not be renewed due to the ferry operator's financial constraints. [15] [16] On 1 July 2008, the club announced local car dealership Perry's as the club's new main sponsor, with the stadium being rebranded as the Perry's Crabble Stadium. [17] In 2008 the club launched a project to replace the existing clubhouse with a new £200,000 building featuring a larger bar, better audio-visual facilities and a high quality kitchen. The club hopes the new building will become a popular venue for social and business functions. [18]

Structure and facilities

A plan of the ground PlanOfCrabble.png
A plan of the ground

The stadium is known for its unusual location, being set into the side of a hill. It has two seated stands and two covered terraces. The Main Stand, which has been in place since 1951, occupies the length of one side of the pitch and has a roof supported by numerous columns, which obscure the view for some fans. Identical covered terraces for standing spectators are behind both goals, which also suffer from an obstructed view. The small Family Stand occupies a portion of the side opposite the Main Stand. The remainder of this side of the ground is taken up by the clubhouse, toilets and other club facilities. Unlike most football stadiums, the club directors' lounge is set atop one of the stands. [8] In December 2009 the Football Association gave the stadium's facilities an A grade, meaning that it meets the minimum standard for entry to the Football League. [19]

The stadium is approximately 1.5 miles (2 km) from Kearsney railway station, which lies on Southeastern's Chatham Main Line from London Victoria to Dover Priory. [20] Dover Priory itself is further away, but connecting bus services are available. [8] Parking is available around the perimeter of the adjacent rugby club. [21]


The highest attendance ever recorded at the ground was recorded when "just under 7,000" fans were in attendance for a match between Dover F.C. and Folkestone on 13 October 1951. [1] Current club Dover Athletic's record home attendance is the crowd of 5,645 for the match against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on 4 January 2015. [22]

Cricket history

Ground information
Location River, Kent
Coordinates 51°08′20″N1°17′13″E / 51.139°N 1.287°E / 51.139; 1.287
Home clubDover RFC
Owner Dover District Council
Last used2002
Team information
Dover Cricket Club(1897–2002)
Kent County Cricket Club (1907–1976)
As of 21 March 2018
Source: CricInfo

The lower pitch at The Crabble was originally intended primarily for cricket. It was used by Dover Cricket Club and football matches had to be scheduled around cricket fixtures until Dover F.C. moved to the upper ground in the 1930s. [9] The ground hosted MCC in 1899 and the first cricket festival was held on the ground in 1900. [23] In 1907 the ground was first used by Kent County Cricket Club as one of its home venues for first-class cricket, a move The Times classed as "something of an experiment". [24] [25] The experiment, with Gloucestershire providing the opposition, was successful and from 1908 the ground was given a cricket week by the county club, with two first-class matches played in almost every season until the end of the 1960s. [26] [27] [28]

After a series of matches during the 1960s where the pitch was considered not at first-class standard, only one match was held at the ground in 1968 after an MCC inspector passed the ground fit. [29] After a full festival programme in 1969, Kent gradually began to move away from the ground. The final first-class match on the ground was played against Derbyshire in July 1976. [28]

Kent played a total of 106 first-class matches on the ground as well as using it for four List A cricket matches between 1970 and 1975 and for occasional Second XI matches in the 1970s and 1980s. [30] [31] Kent Women played matches against New Zealand in 1984 and Australia in 1987 on the ground and it was used by the England women's cricket team for a warm-up match ahed of the 1993 Women's World Cup. [31] After Kent played the final match on the ground in 1976, it continued to be used by Dover Cricket Club until the club was forced to close down in 2004 with debts of over £10,000. [32]

Records on the ground

A total of 106 first-class matches were held on the ground, all with Kent as the home team. [30]

Bill Ashdown's individual score of 305 not out was his second triple-century and followed his score of 332 the previous season against Essex at Brentwood. It remained Kent's second highest individual score and the highest score made by a Kent batsman on a home ground until 2017 when Sean Dickson scored 318 runs at Beckenham. [33] [34] [35] [36] George Collins' bowling figures of 10/65 in an innings in 1922 was the third time a Kent bowler had taken all 10 wickets in an innings. As of March 2018, they are the third best innings bowling figures in the county's history. [37]

Four List A fixtures were also played by Kent on the ground between 1970 and 1975, all in the Sunday League. Hylton Ackerman made the only century scored in List A cricket on the ground, scoring 115 not out for Northants in 1970. The highest team score on the ground was made during the same match, Kent scoring 240 runs to win the 40 over match. [31] [38]

Other uses

The lower ground was originally laid out as a sports ground with the capacity to play football, cricket, hockey and lawn tennis. It was surrounded by an athletics track and a cycling track and the ground was used regularly for both sports – its opening event was a cycling meeting organised by Dover Cycling Club. [23] The cycling track remains, and the ground and original cricket pavilion are used by Dover RFC for rugby union matches. [39] [40] [41]

Related Research Articles

Cardiff Arms Park Sports venue in Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff Arms Park, also known as The Arms Park, is situated in the centre of Cardiff, Wales. The name "Cardiff Arms Park" refers to the site, in addition to the rugby union stadium of the same name. Currently, the site also contains a bowling green in addition to the Millennium Stadium. The Arms Park was host to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958, and hosted four games in the 1991 Rugby World Cup, including the third-place play-off. The Arms Park also hosted the inaugural Heineken Cup Final of 1995–96 and the following year in 1996–97.

Margate F.C. Association football club in England

Margate Football Club, originally called Margate Town, is an English football club based in the seaside resort of Margate, Kent. The club's first team play in the Isthmian League Premier Division. The club was known during the 1980s as Thanet United.

Fartown Ground Sports ground

Fartown Ground, is a sports ground located in the Huddersfield suburb of Fartown in West Yorkshire, England and is predominantly famous for being the home ground of Huddersfield Rugby League Club from 1878 to 1992. It was the scene of many great games, including the Challenge Cup finals of 1908 and 1910, several Challenge Cup semi finals and international matches.

Dover Athletic F.C. Association football club

Dover Athletic Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Dover, Kent, England. The club currently competes in the National League, the fifth tier of English football. The club was formed in 1983 after the dissolution of the town's previous club, Dover F.C., whose place in the Southern League was taken by the new club. In the 1989–90 season Dover Athletic won the Southern League championship, but failed to gain promotion to the Football Conference as the club's ground did not meet the required standard. Three seasons later the team won the title again and this time gained promotion to the Conference, where they spent nine seasons before being relegated at the end of the 2001–02 season. The club was transferred from the Southern League to the Isthmian League in 2004, competing in that league's Premier Division for one season before mounting financial problems led the club to a further relegation. In the 2007–08 season, Dover won Division One South of the league, before winning the Premier Division in 2008–09 and thus gaining promotion to the Conference South. They spent five seasons in this division, reaching the play-offs three times, before defeating Ebbsfleet United in the 2013–14 play-off final to finally return to the Conference Premier after a twelve-year absence.

Bramall Lane Football stadium in Sheffield, England

Bramall Lane is a football stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. It is the home of Premier League club Sheffield United. As the largest stadium in Sheffield during the 19th century, it hosted most of the city's most significant matches including the final of the world's first football tournament, first floodlit match and several matches between the Sheffield and London Football Associations that led to the unification of their respective rules. It was also used by Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield F.C. for major matches. It has been the home of Sheffield United since the club's establishment in 1889. It is the oldest major stadium in the world still to be hosting professional association football matches.

Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park is a municipal park in Glasgow, Scotland. The park is maintained by the city's parks department, and it is a public place where football is still played. The park contains the site of the second Hampden Park, previously home to the football clubs Queen's Park and Third Lanark. The original Hampden Park is just to the west, as the course of the original Cathcart Road is now in Queen's Park Rec.

St Lawrence Ground Cricket ground

The St Lawrence Ground is a cricket ground in Canterbury, Kent. It is the home ground of Kent County Cricket Club and since 2013 has been known as The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, due to commercial sponsorship. It is one of the oldest grounds on which first-class cricket is played, having been in use since 1847, and is the venue for Canterbury Cricket Week, the oldest cricket festival in the world. It is one of the two grounds used regularly for first-class cricket that have had a tree, the St Lawrence Lime, within the boundary.

Priestfield Stadium Association football stadium in Kent, England

Priestfield Stadium is a football stadium in Gillingham, Kent. It has been the home of Gillingham Football Club since the club's formation in 1893, and was also the temporary home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club for two seasons during the 1990s. The stadium has also hosted women's and youth international football matches and a London Broncos rugby league match.

Spotland Stadium

Spotland Stadium, known as the Crown Oil Arena for sponsorship reasons, in the Spotland area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, is home to Rochdale A.F.C. and Rochdale Hornets R.F.L.C. and has a capacity of 27,949.

Rodney Parade

Rodney Parade is a stadium in the city of Newport, South Wales, owned and operated by the Welsh Rugby Union. It is located on the east bank of the River Usk in Newport city centre. The ground is on Rodney Road, a short walk from the city's central bus and railway stations via Newport Bridge or Newport City footbridge. There is no spectator car park at the ground but a number of multi-storey car parks are nearby.


Feethams was a football and cricket ground in Darlington, England. It was the home of Darlington F.C. for from 1883 to 2003 until the club moved into a new stadium on the outskirts of Darlington, and also hosted county cricket matches. The football ground was demolished in 2006, while the cricket ground still remains in use.

The Saffrons is a multi-purpose sports ground in Eastbourne, East Sussex. The ground is home to Eastbourne Cricket Club, Eastbourne Town Football Club, Eastbourne Hockey Club and Compton Croquet Club. There is also a sand dressed astroturf pitch. The sports ground is located on the edge of Eastbourne town centre, next to the town hall and is in easy reach of local transport links. The ground was first used in 1884. Sussex County Cricket Club played some of their matches there between 1896 and 2000, and recently from 2017.

Nevill Ground Cricket ground in Kent, England

The Nevill Ground is a cricket ground at Royal Tunbridge Wells in the English county of Kent. It is owned by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and is used by Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club in the summer months and by Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club in the winter. It was opened in 1898 and was first used by Kent County Cricket Club in 1901. The county has held the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week on the ground annually, despite a suffragette arson attack which destroyed the pavilion in 1913.

Birch Lane was a rugby league ground in Bradford, England. It was the first long term home of Bradford Northern Rugby League Football Club, who played there for 26 years from 1908 to 1934 before moving to Odsal Stadium. For a short while it was also home to Bradford F.C. in their first incarnation as a football club. Birch Lane was described as "notorious" and a "poverty-stricken place" and was never popular either with Northern or Bradford F.C. for the short period they were there.

Hartsdown Park

Hartsdown Park is a football stadium located in Margate, Kent, England. It has been the home of Margate F.C. since 1929, apart from between 2002 and 2005, when the club was forced to share the grounds of other Kent clubs while protracted redevelopment work occurred.

Cheriton Road

Cheriton Road is a complex of sports grounds at Folkestone in the English county of Kent. The complex includes football pitches, a cricket ground, hockey pitches, netball courts and an indoor sports facility. It includes the home ground of Folkestone Invicta F.C., known as The BuildKent Stadium for sponsorship reasons, and the Three Hills Sports Park which includes the home grounds of Folkestone Cricket Club and Folkestone Optimist Hockey Club. The cricket ground, which was previously called the Cheriton Road Sports Ground, was used by Kent County Cricket Club for top level cricket matches.

Rectory Field

Rectory Field is a sports ground in Blackheath in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in south-east London. It was developed in the 1880s by Blackheath Cricket, Football and Lawn Tennis Company and became the home ground of rugby union team Blackheath F.C. between 1883 and 2016. The ground has hosted international rugby matches and at one time, along with the Richmond Athletic Ground, it was the unofficial home of the England national rugby union team before the development of Twickenham Stadium. The ground was also used for first-class and List A cricket by Kent County Cricket Club between 1887 and 1972.

The Angel Ground was a sports ground at Tonbridge in the English county of Kent. It was used as a venue for first-class cricket by Kent County Cricket Club between 1869 and 1939 and then for association football by Tonbridge Angels F.C., until 1980. It was subsequently demolished and redeveloped by Tonbridge and Malling District Council in 1980.

George Christopher Collins was an English cricketer, who played first-class cricket for Kent County Cricket Club and Marylebone Cricket Club.

Garrison Ground 2

Garrison Ground 2 was a cricket ground in Gillingham, Kent. The ground, which has also been known as the Royal Engineers Sports Ground and simply the Garrison Ground, was used by Kent County Cricket Club for first-class and List A cricket between 1937 and 1972 and was the home ground of the Royal Engineers Cricket Club until 1961.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Stuart Croll (25 September 2007). "Ground of the Week : The Crabble Stadium". BBC. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  2. "Visiting Crabble". Dover Athletic F.C. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  3. "Dover 1–1 Morecambe". BBC. 20 April 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2008. The hosts, already relegated, showed plenty of spirit and enjoyed the majority of possession in an entertaining encounter at The Crabble.
  4. "Coronavirus: Dover Athletic have five games postponed because of Covid-19". BBC. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020. Dover were due to welcome Chesterfield to The Crabble in the National League on Saturday
  5. "Crabble Corn Mill". Crabble Corn Mill Trust. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  6. "The Origin of Dover's Name". Archived from the original on 27 December 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Crabble Athletic Ground, Dover, England". CricInfo (reprinted from Playfair Cricket Monthly, 1965). Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Dover Athletic F.C." Pyramid Passion. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  9. 1 2 3 "The Grounds". The History of Dover Football Club. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  10. Bateson, Bill; Albert Sewell (1990). News of the World Football Annual 1990/91. Invincible Press. p. 122. ISBN   0-85543-207-1.
  11. "Club 'could fold' over stadium". BBC Sport. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  12. "Plans for stadium 'insufficient'". BBC Sport. 30 December 2004. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  13. "New hope for football stadium". BBC Sport. 8 February 2004. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  14. "New sponsorship deal for Dover brings new ground name". Non League Daily. 5 July 2003. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  15. Matthew Clements (8 January 2007). "SeaFrance on board". Dover Athletic F.C. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  16. "Sponsor cutback hits Whites". Dover Athletic F.C. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
  17. "Whites in the fast lane". Dover Athletic F.C. 1 July 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  18. Justin Allen (3 November 2007). "Centre Spot 2008". Dover Athletic F.C. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  19. "Whites make the A grade". Dover Athletic F.C. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  20. "Live Departures: Kearsney (KSN)". National Rail Enquiries. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  21. "Dover Athletic". Association of Wheelchair & Ambulant Disabled Supporters. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  22. Harvey, Camilla (4 January 2015). "Dover bow out of FA cup to Palace". Dover Athletic F.C. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  23. 1 2 Crabble Athletic Ground and County Cricket, Dover Historian, 7 January 2014. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  24. Cricket – The Kent County Club, The Times , 1906-12-11, p.11.
  25. Moseling M, Quarrington T (2013) A Half-Forgotten Triumph: The story of Kent's County Championship title of 1913, pp.200–203. Cheltenham: SportsBooks. ISBN   978-1-907524-40-0.
  26. Moseling & Quarrington op. cit., pp.229–237.
  27. A Dover Cricket Week, The Times , 1907-08-28, p.9.
  28. 1 2 First-class matches played at Crabble Athletic Ground, Dover, CricketArchive. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  29. No Dover cricket week in 1968, The Times , 1967-12-07, p.12.
  30. 1 2 Grounds Records in Kent County Cricket Club Annual 2017, pp.210–211. Canterbury: Kent County Cricket Club.
  31. 1 2 3 Crabble Athletic Ground, Dover, CricketArchive. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  32. Debts force cricket club to fold, Kent Online , 29 January 2004. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  33. Kent v Northamptonshire: Sean Dickson scores post-war record 318 for hosts, BBC Sport , 4 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  34. Dickson's 318 tops day of Kent records, CricInfo, 4 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  35. Kent Spitfires v Gloucestershire, Match Guide, 18 July 2017. Canterbury: Kent County Cricket Club.
  36. Hoad A (2017) Record-breaking Kent batsman Sean Dickson wants another shot at history in the future, Kent Online , 5 July 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  37. Bowling records, in Kent County Cricket Club Annual 2017, op. cit., pp.197–205.
  38. Cricket Review, The Times , 1970-06-15, p.13.
  39. Crabble Athletic Ground, Dover District Council. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  40. Edwards P (16 July 2017) Eastbourne and other Elysiums, The Cricket Monthly, CricInfo. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  41. Britain's lost cricket grounds, The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 21 March 2018.