Digging Into History

With various issues, holidays, family gatherings, postponements, COVID, etc. it has been over a month since I’ve managed to get to a Crawley game, and there has only been one game for me in the last two months and more. With no match reports to do I’ve been looking for something else to write about instead.

As most people will know, I haven’t been a lifelong Crawley Town fan. I started supporting them at the start of the 2021-22 season, going all in and getting a season ticket. As such I am a baby and only in my third season of support, having been a lifelong Spurs supporter finally calling it quits with them (and all Premier League / Champions League) with the European Super League debacle being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I moved to Crawley in May 2006 due to my job moving. And if I am honest, I hadn’t heard of Crawley Town FC until I moved here. And even then, it was all vague, mainly bits and pieces seen from picking up local papers, and seemingly some kind of points deduction every season.

I wasn’t here when they were at Town Meadow, and I wasn’t even aware that had been anything but the leisure park. Plus, I wasn’t really here mentally when they were still in non-league, and even early league seasons. My teetotalism started within a few weeks of the start of the 2012-22 season.

But I’m interested in history. Of anything and everything. And since COVID first hit I’ve spent a lot of time delving into Crawley history.

And so, when there were a box load of old programmes up for grabs on the forum, I threw my hat into the ring to get them. And after the initial responder didn’t follow through on picking them up, I ended up getting my hands on them. There are a lot to work through and most of them are pre-Conference / National League, but the one that really caught my eye was this one.

There were two copies of this Devil’s Trust Launch programme. For a game of CTFC Legends vs Nomad Online being played at Oakwood FC on Sunday 15th October 2006. A couple of months into that first season I lived in Crawley. And something that at the time I would have been oblivious to. It would be highly likely I would only just be surfacing after a heavy night out at Brannigans or Bar Med, or possibly be in a pub awaiting a Premier League kick off.

Looking in the programme I saw that the initial meeting where the trust was set up was on the 9th of May, which was the day I signed my rental agreement to move into a flat in Crawley.

Reading through it I see a couple of names I recognise from the supporter’s side of the club nowadays (Steve Leake, Ian Mulcahy) who were involved in setting the trust up, but I don’t recognise most of them, but I’m sure longer-term fans would.

Three of the four full page adverts are for companies what I hadn’t heard of, but having a look online they are all still going, even if they are at different addresses now.

The one place I had heard of – The Rose And Crown – is no longer a pub, and one I never managed to get to whilst it was still open. A shame as the Ska evening would have been something right up my street. I didn’t know about the place until years later when it was already a cash and carry. Places outside of a quadrangle with Three Bridges station, The Ramada, Tushmore Roundabout, and the Taj Mahal as its corners, didn’t get a look in, that was the extent of the first three alcoholic years of my Crawley existence.

The Nomad Online concept interested me. Connecting old Sussex non-league players online to play in charity games. Almost as if it were a localised forerunner of the much talked about (last season) Sidemen piece.

Unfortunately, neither the Devil’s Trust (CTSA now?) nor Nomad Online survive today in the same form, and both of their websites are now repointed to domain name sale sites.

I did actually go to a Crawley Town game in that 2006-07 season, but had forgotten all about it. I moved to Crawley from Manchester when work changed. Others from my old office didn’t move, and one of my former colleagues in Manchester was a Southport season ticket holder, and he was down in Crawley for the game in the Conference. There were a lot of drinks before the game following on from a heavy Friday night out, and so I remember little from the game. The most vivid memory is of Howard slamming my fingers in the door of the car we’d got a lift to the Broadfield Stadium in. There were about thirty of us stood / wandering behind the goal in the away terrace, and there was no east marquee then. The game seemed to go very quickly, and I couldn’t remember the score.

So, I looked the game up as to when it was and what the score was. 20th of January 2007 and Crawley won 2-1. This got me searching through the box of programmes hoping that this game would be one of the programmes in the box I’d picked up. But 2006-07 was the season after the programmes ran to. I did get excited when I saw one for a Crawley against Southport game in 2006, but it was the season before I moved to Crawley.

Having found this one, it got me thinking about which other Crawley Town games I’d been to before becoming a fan. At the same time there was a thread on the forum about best / most memorable game people had been to. Most games mentioned were from the non-league days, and well before my time.

As it turns out I’d been to six other games at the Broadfield Stadium before becoming a season ticket holder for the 2021-22 season. The first two were pre-season friendlies in 2008 and 2009 against Tottenham XI’s when I was in the away terraces again. Both of those games ended up as easy wins for Crawley (6-1, and 4-1 respectively). Then there were three games where I got free tickets as a friend of the referee.

One of my colleagues on a project at work was a league referee, and usually did northern games, but when working in Crawley midweek he’d get local games to do, and I’d happily go and watch anything really, but he got three Crawley games, which were a 1-0 extra time win over Ipswich Town in whatever the League Cup was called in the 2014-15 season. A 2016 Easter Monday game loss against Exeter City, and a September 2016 Tuesday night draw against Colchester.

Finally, there was a random sunny April afternoon game against Notts County just before they were relegated. The game finished 1-1 and pretty much sealed their fate. It was also the first time I’d noticed the chanting, and most of the home crowd’s ire was directed at Robert Milsom, something which hasn’t mellowed now that he’s at Sutton.

That was more live games than I went to at Spurs over the same period. And I always enjoyed being at the Crawley games, so when I threw my toys out of the Tottenham pram, it didn’t take me long to decide to become a Crawley fan. It’s still enjoyable but being more committed to it my fingernails aren’t as keen on the shredding they get nowadays.

Come on you reds.

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