SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2019
GROUND No 216
OF all Princes Park's unique and endearing features, the 18ft tall wooden sculpture of a fan on the terraces has to be the most striking.
I mean, have you ever seen anything like it?
Arms outstretched, gaze firmly set on the pitch, Dartford's biggest fan is just one of remarkable features of this eco-friendly stadium that blows completely out of the water the notion that all new builds are boring, soulless structures.
Since 2006 when they moved here (they'd led a nomadic existence for number of years after being forced to leave Watling Street) Dartford have played not only on grass but underneath it.
That's because covering the four sides of the ground are curved coverings, each with a 'living roof' - layers of vegetation that provide an air filtration system.
Glued laminated timber beans support them, and the heavy use of timber around the ground gives it the feel of belonging in a Norwegian forest rather than a stone's throw from the Dartford Tunnel.
The pitch is sunk two metres below ground level to reduce noise and light pollution, there are solar panels on the changing room roof and rainwater is collected in two ponds to serve the toilets.
They really have thought of everything. When I went to the loo at half-time, I expected a notice telling me that any deposits would be used as a natural fertiliser on an organic farm behind the car park where hand-reared cattle were raised to provide meat for the burgers in the snack bar.
Concrete steps - covered by those grass-topped roofs - ring the pitch, save for the South Stand side where 642 seats nestle in front of the clubhouse, function suite and changing rooms.
Another nice touch is an area of the back wall where you can buy a brick your name or that of a loved one on, and a tribute to the Dartford team that reached the 1974 FA Trophy final at Wembley.
A banner in amongst the advertising hoardings n front of it reads: "If only all stadiums were like Princes Park."