Tuesday 15th November 2005

We need to maximise the potential of Princes Park, says lifelong Darts fan

Dartford supporter Gregg Keattch felt it was important for him to be at Princes Park yesterday as building work finally started at the club's new stadium, and said: "Let's hope the stadium is delivered on time!".

The 37-year-old from Dartford has followed the Southern League club's fortunes since the age of four. His first game was the FA Trophy Final in 1973 - and now he hopes his beloved Darts can compete for trophies again as they bid to climb the leagues.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, he said: "It was so important for me personally to be there Monday to see the site for our new stadium and to meet all the parties responsible - and what a great day in the long history for the Darts.  

"I have been a lifelong fan and my first match was the FA Trophy Final at Wembley in 1973, aged four."

And Keattch gave his observations about how vitally important the new stadium is to the future of the Southern League club.

"The right people need to be in the right places to maximise the potential that Princes Park will provide," he said.

"There will be so much more possibilities than just the football side of things to generate income.  Straight from the off it has to be run professionally.  The facilities will not sell themselves.

And Keattch feels moving into their new stadium can only move the club forward after playing at other venues for the last 13 years.

"If I personally have a slight concern it is the "Off the field" activities that will be vital.  Let's not go through the gates at Princes Park with any old fashioned values," he said.

"Princes Park will be a world class non-league ground with fantastic 21st century facilities.  Let's "milk" those facilities for all their worth and generate good money to take the football club forward.

"I would like to think that the bar area will be a place to go to in the evening and on a non matchday where we can relax with a beer and be able to order a meal watching a live game on TV - or maybe even inviting my family as well!

"I can think of no better place to hold a 40th birthday party of a wedding reception.  Things that help raise that "extra" for the club.

And he added: "Maybe we can come up with some ideas to pass on that can be put into practice?

"Does anyone agree with me that Princes Park is going to be so much more than a place we go to cheer on the lads on matchday?

"Does anyone else think that the commercial aspect of things has to be forward thinking and in local business' faces?

"There is so much to do, sort out and sell!  We want all the perimeter advertising boards sold - for the going rate.

"How about a new club sponsor that will pay a worthy rate befitting such a great stadium?"

With so many ways of raising the club's corporate image within it's local community, as a fan, Keattch hopes he'll be able to support a winning team.

"New players and quality ones will hopefully be inspired by the new surroundings and want to play for the Darts, climbing aboard a new revitalised club that once stood shoulder to shoulder with the best non-league football could offer.

"Our time will come again," he said.  "It might take a few years but if commercially we are successful there is no reason why our great club can once again hold its head high competing for trophies again, cheered on by fantastic supporters that have stuck by the club through some pretty depressing times.  

"I am a part of it, will be a part of it and we need to stick together and make it all work."

Moving back into Dartford's town centre will inspire fans that have stayed away during their 13 year exile to return in their droves.

"I have lost count of the amount of people that have said to me "once they have their own ground again, I will go and watch them again", said Keattch.

"Let's hope these people stick to their boasts.  We need many old and new faces to come through the turnstiles and swell the coffers.

"Imagine making ten times more on the raffle? Imagine selling six more golden goals when the tickets will be printed for one minute, 20, 40 etc.   Wishful thinking - No. Anything is possible!"

And now is the time to influence the local kids to be apart of their local football club, instead of causing trouble on the streets etc.

"The kids in the Borough are so so important.  How about visiting local schools and dishing out tickets.  Say they get in free with a full paying adult?

"We need to make the kids feel at home at Princes Park.  Imagine the extra income if they come week in week out with their parents."

Keattch added: "Now we know the date for construction, lets construct some ideas for maximising that massive potential Princes Park will provide.

"Let's show Jeremy Kite that the club can hold its own, sowing the seeds of success on and off the field - Dartford Football Club are you ready for the challenge?"

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