AFC Dunstable started life as Old Dunstablians Football Club in 1981. The name Old Dunstablians originated from an organisation formed in 1888 for old boys from Dunstable Grammar School. The most famous member of the club is Hollywood actor Gary Cooper, who attended the school in the early 1900’s.
When the Grammar School closed down and Manshead School opened they took over the mantle but the old boys club was in decline. In 1981 the head teacher was asked if he could re launch the name, hence the football club was born.
By 1988 after its centenary, the Old Dunstablians Club ceased to exist but the football club carried on in commemoration and to this day still bears the club crest on its badge.
The club started in the Dunstable Alliance Football League for a couple of seasons then moved onto the Luton District and South Bedfordshire League in 1983. Still playing at Manshead School with the 1st team and reserves, success was limited with the 1st team runners up twice in Division One and runners up in the William Pease Cup. While in the Luton League though the 1st team did land the Bedfordshire Junior Cup beating Leighton Athletic on penalties in 1989 –90 season. The reserves did win some silverware, when back in the day a cup final went to a replay. The season was 1993-94 when they beat overwhelming favourites Luton Old Boys.
With the club using Dunstable Town Cricket Club as their social base in Bull Pond Lane, the cricket club was looking to move to a larger site in Totternhoe and when the new club was opened in 1994, a football pitch was accommodated, so the football club moved there from Manshead School.
An improvement in facilities gave the club a chance to apply to join the South Midlands League in 1995. Accepted into the then Division One (Premier and Senior Divisions were the higher divisions) the club struggled, as they flirted with being relegated straight back to the Luton League in the first 2 seasons. Going through new managers every season, we finally started to gain some consolidation and in season 2001-02 the 1st team finished 4th in the league and won the Division One Cup. The following season we just missed out of the title, which was now Division Two. Looking to go one better we finally clinched the title the next season and was runners up in the Division Two Cup.
Ground Grading issue’s were now starting to stop the team from getting promoted, as 2 ground sharing agreements were turned down by the league.
This was now the start of a trophy laden period, as the Division Two title again was secured and back-to-back Bedfordshire Senior Trophy’s. Added to that, the Division Two Cup was won again.
The club in 2003-04 decided to launch its youth policy and when the Under 15’s were runners up in the Chiltern Youth league, it started on the path to work its way through the FA Charter Standard. We achieved Adult status in 2003-04. The club then made the decision to change its name to AFC Dunstable, (when the prefix AFC was not as prevalent as it is nowadays), so not to get confused with the local rugby club, as the club started to grow and the name was more associated to a football club. The club kept the name The OD’s, as their nickname. The youth then was awarded the Charter Standard in 2005-06. The next big step was to become a Development Club and a great deal of work saw the club achieve this in 2007. Next up was our goal to become a FA Charter Standard Community Club and 2008 saw the club get there. In that time the club has been awarded the Development Club Of The Year in 2008 and the Community Club Of The Year in 2009.
Since we launched the youth policy back in 2003, the club have had over 30 managers/coaches pass various FA coaching courses and more are still to come.
With the club now boasting 14 teams and catering for adults, youth, junior, girls and disability footballers, the local authority and the Bedfordshire Football Association approached the club to become partners in the new Creasey Park Community Football Centre in 2008 and this gave the chance to move the 1st team to Creasey Park and apply for promotion to Division One for the start of the 2009-10 season, which was accepted. The 1st team finished a very creditable 5th in it’s first season at the higher level. As at the start of 2010-11, the club has grown to 16 teams and the Junior Football Academy goes from strength to strength. History was also made in 2010-11, as the 1st team was accepted to participate in the FA Vase. A fine run through to the 2nd Round Proper was achieved. Looking to improve on the league position the previous season, the team went all out for promotion and finished runners up in the league and gained promotion to the Premier Division at their 2nd attempt. The SSMFL Division One Cup was secured as well.
Now with the 1st team in the SSMFL Premier Division and entry into the FA Cup for 2011-12, finished a fine 3rd in the league. The club increased to 33 teams ranging from 5 year olds right through the 1st team for 2012-13. In that season the 1st team consolidated in the Premier Division and finished a respectable 8th. Their run the FA Cup saw them get through 3 rounds eventually going out to Northwood after a replay. With the club now at 35 teams for 2013-14, they have grown to the biggest club in the county of Bedfordshire. Within the structure of the club the female side has grown to 2 ladies teams and 2 girls teams.
The ladies 1st team won the Eastern Region Womens League North Division and in season 2014-15 will compete in the Premier Division. That promotion meant back to back titles for them. They will compete at step 3 in the ladies pyramid, so the ladies are only 2 steps below the likes of Tottenham Hotspurs and West Ham United.
After the 1st team being managed by the most successful pair in the clubs history Alex Butler and Dermot Butler, they decided to step down after 9 years at the helm half way through 2013-14. This left the team in disarray, as many stalwarts of the team decided to leave. The club decided to appoint current manager Steve Heath and the club went on a re building exercise within the adult section.
Steve appointed ex Bedford Town defender Steve Jackman as his assistant and Matt Langston as player-coach. Matt's former clubs included Histon, Kettering Town and Eastbourne Borough from the Conference.
It was also time for a change with the Reserve Team as Paul Axten was appointed and his brief was to bring in as many Under 21's into the team he could. With the reserves looking odds on for relegation, he turned it around with his young players and pushed up the league to finish mid table.
Next on the agenda was to resurrect the Under 18 team in the Southern Counties Floodlit League. Gary Breeden was brought in from a very successful Chesham United team and now they will play once again in the league and the FA Youth Cup.
Now in 2014-15, the club has 21 youth boys teams, with our Under 14's and Under 16's competing in the Eastern Junior Alliance. The female section consists of 2 adult teams and 5 girls teams. On top of that we also have 3 disabled teams. In total 34 teams represent the club.
With the management structure now fully in place in all our teams, season 2014-15 is looking extremely positive.