LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Crawley Town

Reds flying in a holding pattern in League Two

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Crawley Town owe their current status to the make-or-break season of 2010-11, the most memorable in the club’s 125-year history.

Facing financial ruin, then Conference side Crawley had just been saved by lifelong fan Bruce Winfield. Winfield’s money bought new players, then a cup run took Crawley to Old Trafford, where only a crossbar prevented a stoppage-time equaliser against Manchester United. Weeks later Winfield died. Days later Crawley won the Conference title and became a Football League club.

A year later they were promoted to League One.

Broadfield Stadium/Lucy Mallows

The Crawley that Winfield fell in love with as a 16 year old had not long turned semi-pro after 66 years in the West Sussex, Mid-Sussex, Sussex County and Metropolitan Leagues, joining the Southern League in 1963.

Their home then was Town Mead, a basic ground with a single wooden stand, near the centre of Crawley. It was here that the Red Devils beat Northampton in the First Round of the FA Cup in 1991, the highlight of the club’s history – until they then beat Hayes away to land a dream tie, away at local rivals Brighton in the Third Round.

Despite a 5-0 defeat, gate money from the 18,000 attendance went towards a new main stand at Town Mead – home fans, Winfield included, still stood on the terrace of the Shed End.

Broadfield Stadium/Lucy Mallows

This all changed in 1997 when the club moved from Town Mead to the council-owned, new-build Broadfield Stadium in the neighbourhood of the same name at Crawley’s southern fringe.

In 2004, the club made the Football Conference, then went full-time – which is when their troubles began. Unable to meet salaries, Crawley were disciplined with points deductions three seasons running – yet managed to keep in the Conference, even with a ten-point handicap.

A movement by fans to remove the debt-ridden Majeed brothers from ownership galvanised support and spirit at the club, the Red Card campaign, helped keep Crawley going. Azwar Majeed later served time for tax fraud.

Broadfield Stadium/Lucy Mallows

Close to folding in 2006, Crawley faced the axe again in 2010, this time in the High Court for tax debts. This is when Bruce Winfield stepped in, along with the Carters, a husband-and-wife team based at Gatwick – but also Crawley Borough Council, who agreed a lease on Broadfield Stadium to the club.

In came Argentine striker Sergio Torres, salaries were paid, and promotion from the Conference looked possible. At the same time, a ten-yard strike from high-scoring Ben Smith deep into extra-time at Swindon gave Crawley an unexpected 3-2 win in FA Cup and passage to the Third Round. Even more improbably, the Red Devils then beat Derby at the Broadfield Stadium, Torres justifying his £100,000 transfer fee with a stoppage-time winner.

Next up was Torquay, away. A single Matt Tubbs strike sent 1,200 Reds fans home happy and made Crawley only the sixth non-league club to reach the Fifth Round since the war. The draw made the club’s recent travails worth overcoming: Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Some 9,000 Crawley fans watched their club all but take United to a replay, Tubbs missing a late chance to equalise and Richard Brodie hitting the bar in stoppage time.

Crawley Town transport/Lucy Mallows

Winfield lost his battle with cancer but would have died knowing that his beloved club was well situated for full league status. With financial security, and a loyal and broad fan base watching the Reds in a modern stadium, Crawley achieved a historic promotion at Tamworth in April 2011.

Unbeaten since the previous October, Town had required a £500,000-plus cash injection to win the Conference – and the goals of Matt Tubbs, who got two in the 3-0 win over Tamworth.

Planning a new East Stand at Broadfield, Crawley kept faith with Steve Evans, the fiery Scottish manager in place since 2007, and duly went from mid-September to Christmas unbeaten in League Two.

Form then dipped, Tubbs and high-scoring Tyrone Burnett were inexplicably sold, player discipline suffered and Evans left for Rotherham. Crawley limped into a promotion spot.

Under Richie Barker, Crawley enjoyed a bright debut in League One, goals from Billy Clarke and Nicky Adams delivering a mid-table position. Adams left halfway through Crawley’s flagging 2013-14 campaign, salvaged by a returning Matt Tubbs – but the writing was on the wall.

Crawley Town club shop/Lucy Mallows

Crawley warded off relegation in 2014 but not in 2015, average gates at the newly renamed Checkatrade.com Stadium the lowest in the division at under 3,000.

By 2015-16, gates dipped under 2,000 as Crawley struggled to retain league status. In March 2016, Turkish steel magnate Ziya Eren gained ownership of the club, bringing in ex-Arsenal and Chelsea youth coach Dermot Drummy. The Reds duly survived and started 2016-17 in positive spirits, goals coming from later Ireland international striker James Collins.

Selling on Collins to Luton, Crawley slumped and Drummy was duly sacked. A few months later, he was found dead, having taken his own life. The club continued to float just above the relegation zone as managers came and went. Propped up by goals from Ollie Palmer – transferred to local rivals AFC Wimbledon in 2020 – Town limped along in League Two. 

Few gave the Reds a chance when hosting Marcelo Bielsa’s high-energy Leeds team in the Third Round of the FA Cup in January 2021, but a shock 3-0 win, bookended by a brief appearance from TV star Mark Wright, put Crawley back on the map. A decent performance in the following round at Bournemouth coincided with a defeat-free run in the league. A string of defeats then saw Town drop out of the play-off places.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

The compact Broadfield Stadium, currently named The People’s Pension Stadium after a 2018 sponsorship deal, has been the council-owned home to Crawley Town since opening in 1997.

In that time, Crawley became a League club in 2011 and the sponsors funded the opening of another stand. The East Stand faces the main West Stand, both all-seated.

Away fans usually occupy a segregated section of the East Stand, nearest the North Terrace that may also be allocated to visiting supporters if demand requires.

The home terrace is the South Stand, currently named after sponsors Structured Communications – the East also goes by the name of its sponsor, People’s Pension.

Capacity is 6,000, with just over half seated.

The ground is about a mile south of Crawley station and town centre – with regular bus services.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The ground is well served by buses. Metrobus fastway 10 runs every 8-15mins from Gatwick via Crawley station (Stop A), then to Broadfield Stadium (5min journey time). Metrobus fastway 20 (every 20mins, Sun every 30min) runs from Gatwick South via Three Bridges station (Stop C), and the Arora Hotel near Crawley station (aka Town Centre East), to Broadfield. Journey time from Three Bridges is 7mins.

Therefore – if you’re coming into Crawley station, use the fastway 10, and into Three Bridges, the 20. If you’re coming from Gatwick, either will do.

A taxi from Crawley station should cost around £6. To walk from the station takes about 20mins, turning left, then left again down Brighton Road, using the underpass to cross the A23.

The sat nav code for the Broadfield Stadium is RH11 9RX. On match days, the stadium car park is for permit holders only but there’s a free one available for use at William Reed (RH11 9RT) in Broadfield Park business centre signposted off the A23, just behind the South Stand. If it’s full, there’s more free parking just across the A23 in the Tilgate Forest Business Centre (RH11 9BP), no more than a 10min walk to the stadium.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

The ticket office (Mon-Tue, Thur-Fri 9am-4.30pm, match days from 10am) is behind the main West Stand. There’s no extra charge on purchases by phone on 01293 410 000 – pick up from the ticket office or match-day collection window, also behind the West Stand, where you must go if you’ve purchased online – or you can also print at home.

For all enquiries, contact tickets@crawleytownfc.com.

Prices start at £16 to stand in the home South Stand, rising to £20 to sit in the East Stand and £22 in the West. Seniors pay £12-£15-£18, under-21s £11-£13-£14. It’s £10 anywhere for under-18s, £4 for under-16s. All of these prices increase by £2 on match days. Visiting supporters pay the same, and it’s free for under-11s if accompanied by an adult.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The club shop (Mon-Tue, Thur-Fri 9am-4.30pm, match days from 10am) is attached to the ticket office behind the West Stand. First kit is currently a Southamptony red with a broad white stripe down the middle, with black tramlines. Second choice is the same design, sky blue with a dark-blue stripe and white tramlines.

It’s a really modest space that fills pre-match – the club recommends popping in afterwards – so there isn’t room for too much merch. Pin badges feature the club badge with the red devil in the bottom quarter while coasters display the foundation date of 1896.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

By the Barrington Lodge hotel three-quarters of the way down Brighton Road from town to the stadium, the New Moon is the former Half Moon, long established as a pre-match bar for mainly, but not exclusively, home fans. Rebranded by new owners as a sports pub, the New Moon also puts on Playstation and poker nights, plus there are pool tables and a jukebox. It’s located just the other side of the underpass from the football-topped roundabout by the stadium.

The other popular pre-match choice is The Downsman, on Wakehurst Drive off Brighton Road, slightly further from the stadium. It’s part pub, part Indian restaurant, with multiple screens for TV games.

The stadium has its own bar, Redz, open on match days from 11am, and from 5.30pm for evening games. Sensible away fans welcome – it’s behind the home South Stand but its entrance is outside the stadium.

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