Where Boro’ go, it’s felt like Crawley Town aren’t slow to follow; putting the country’s first two New Towns on the football map. If you want a brief history lesson, Stevenage was the first New Town; getting the green light in November 1946. But next up wasn’t Harlow. Or Basildon, Hatfield or even Peterlee. Nope! It was a little slice of paradise in West Sussex called Crawley – designated in January 1947. So, first two out of the town planning blocks – and, recently, the two New Towns with the highest representation in the football pyramid.
Of course, that’s if you look past Peterborough, Northampton and – not to make it more complicated – Milton Keynes. As we’d all prefer this lesson to end sooner rather than later, these three ‘New Towns’ were part of the third wave in the late 1960s. Anyway, it seems odd to think – but it wasn’t all that long ago when the idea of meeting Crawley Town more times in the Football League than non-league was a fanciful idea. Yet, here we are. And a lot of water under the bridge since a first-ever meeting in the 1988 Knights Floodlit League.
The Red Devils joined us in the Conference in 2004 and then again two steps higher in 2012; repeating our feat of two successive promotions a year after we did it. Being the copycats they are, however, they soon came back down after us.
Crawley Town: The Facts
The Broadfield Stadium
Winfield Way, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9RX
We’re the two oldest New Towns on the block. That we now know – if you didn’t already. But our two towns differ is in our footballing history. Boro’ are the third team to represent Stevenage (after Town and Athletic). But the Reds mark their 125th anniversary in 2021. So, we’ve achieved more in a shorter space of time. Well, that’s what we’re taking from this nugget of information. We did reach the Football League before them…
For the Reds, they spent the first half of their story up until this point -> . <- playing exclusively at county or district level. The rollcall includes the West Sussex League; Mid-Sussex League; Brighton, Hove and District League; and the Sussex County League. In 1956, they moved on to the Metropolitan League. And, in 1963, came the club’s decision to up the ante; turning semi-pro and becoming a member of the Southern League.
Why do we know Crawley Town?
Now, their Southern League adventure currently makes up a massive chunk of their more recent history. It was a 41-year association with the competition; only coming to an end in 2004 as the Reds won the title for the first time in their history. It meant promotion to the Nationwide Conference too. Of course, we’d already got to that point; coming through the Isthmian League set-up a decade before and cementing our place among the top non-league teams in the land. But the 2004-5 season wouldn’t be the first time that we’d met…
In fact, the 1987-8 campaign is when our paths first crossed with the Reds. And it’s fair to say they were the better side back then; on track to end up in sixth in the Southern League Premier Division. In contrast, we were going back down to Vauxhall Opel League Division Two North after a dire second half of the season. And it during that time that our Knights Floodlit League quarter final took us to their old Town Mead ground.
How to get to Crawley Town – Travel Information – Distance: 83 miles
Crawley is a fairly easy trip as long as the M25 decides it’s in a good mood. From where we are in Stevenage, you can go in either direction on the M25. We suggest the counter-clockwise route because it should work out shorter in distance.
Exit at Junction 7 onto the M23 and follow southbound until Junction 11. From here, aim for the town centre on the A23(N). About one mile or so up the road is a roundabout; the car park is off the first exit.
Not for the first time, you’ll be told there is no car parking available at the stadium these days. Wasn’t always the case, we know. But these are the times we live in. But you can use one of the free options that are no more than a few minutes’ walk from the stadium.
It’s more than a mile from the main station in the town. Leaving the station, turn left onto Station Way and walk for 0.2 miles to a level crossing. Turn left again and head down the A2219 Brighton Road. At the junction with Southgate Avenue, turn right. Shortly after, it’s necessary to cross the A23.
You should be able to see the ground from Southgate Avenue on the opposite side of the roundabout.
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