Brackley Town are the example for ambitious Daventry

PACKING THEM IN - Kettering Town have the biggest following of all the clubs in the Calor League Division One Central
PACKING THEM IN - Kettering Town have the biggest following of all the clubs in the Calor League Division One Central

As a football club Daventry Town has much in common with Southern League leaders Dunstable Town.

But the club bears little similarity to the structures in place at the other four main promotion challengers in Rugby Town, Barton Rovers, Kettering and Slough Town.

Daventry chairman Iain Humphrey and his Dunstable counterpart Roger Dance are both larger-than-life characters who share long-term goals of taking their respective clubs into the Conference League.

Both clubs have come a long way in a short time but share the handicap of playing on council-owned grounds. By contrast Rugby own their own 6,000 capacity stadium in Butlin Road. Unlike the other five, Barton-le-Clay is a Bedfordshire village with a growing population of only about 5,000 and a football club which resembles Woodford United in the glory years!

Barton’s facilities are hardly state-of-the-art and the Sharpenhoe Road club is arguably the least likely of the quintet to gain promotion this season.

Slough are not easy to stereotype either, despite a town population of 120,000 which dwarfs Rugby’s 70,000, Dunstable’s 40,000 and Daventry’s 25,000. The problem here is groundsharing with Beaconsfield SYCOB at a time when there is still no sign of a new stadium in Slough itself.

Kettering of course have the biggest fan base of all, but came close to folding up this season after losing their Rockingham Road ground and having to share with UCL club Burton Park Wanderers at the unpretentious Latimer Park.

By contrast bricks and mortar are Rugby’s main assets. Chairman Brian Melvin stays in the background but presides over a Butlin Road facility which includes covered accommodation for 2,800 spectators and 740 seats.

Daventry and Dunstable have no such luxuries, although the Town chairman owns the £800.000 clubhouse in Browns Road. Conversely the Dunstable Council even owns the food and drink outlets at the revamped Creasey Park.

Chairman Dance is rumoured to pay some of his better players up to £700 a week, a figure that none of the other promotion hopefuls can come anywhere near to matching apart perhaps from the Poppies.

A decade ago Kettering were still lording it in the Conference while Daventry were languishing in the UCL Division One. For their part, Dunstable were unbeaten in winning the South Midlands League last season and have won 60 of their last 64 league matches.

Daventry will hope to repeat the fairytale success story of Northants’ No.2 club Brackley Town, which has gone from the UCL to the Conference with a help from low-key benefactor Alan Leighton.

On Tuesday, Daventry dropped points at home for the first time this season when they drew 1-1 with Marlow.