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Double-decker bus is new stand at Deal Town Football Club

By Sam Lennon

Football fans will swap shouting from the terraces for singing on the buses after a club unveiled its new stand - a double-decker bus.

Deal Town supporters will be able to watch the match from the top deck of the vehicle, which is decorated with a banner celebrating the club's fabled FA Vase victory back in 2000.

The lower floor is being used as a mini museum displaying artefacts from the team's history.

The new stand at Deal Town FC
The new stand at Deal Town FC

The double-decker is part of a modern revamp of the Charles Ground following a fire in 2011, which destroyed a partially-completed new pavilion.

It is likely to be ready for spectators in a couple of months.

The main seating area of the top deck will have room for 40 to 50 people plus two hospitality areas at either end with seating for six to eight and eight to 10.

The bus will be placed sideways to the pitch with fans behind on elevated seating so they can also get a clear view.

Club chairman Dave Chmura bought the 117-seater Volvo, which was formerly a school bus in Sheffield, on eBay for £3,200 last December.

He said: "Originally we were going to use it as a playschool.

"Then, we decided we could use it for seating in the Mill Road end of the ground, which has none at present.

"An advantaged is that the bus is a longer that usual, a triple axle one rather than a double axle one, so we can fit in more fans.

"We have already painted it black and white for the club's colours."

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke saw the bus and other improvements, such as a new clubhouse, when Mr Chmura gave him a guided tour of the ground.

Mr Elphicke said: "From these foundations I'm sure the club can keep building a bright future and boost attendances even further.

"So it would be great to see even more people coming through the gate to watch the team on Saturdays.

“From the ashes of the fire in 2011, the club has built something truly impressive."

Deal Town also has ambitions to have a 4G pitch so more local youngsters and adults can play at the Charles Ground throughout the year.

MP Charlie Elphicke with Deal Town FC chairman David Chmura
MP Charlie Elphicke with Deal Town FC chairman David Chmura

Mr Chmura said: “What you see now is really only the beginning of what we aim to achieve here. Yes it all looks bright and beautiful but unless we can replace the ageing floodlights our current league status is in jeopardy.

“To maintain our dream of a fully committed club for the whole community we need a 4G pitch working 24/7.

“The grass pitch, cannot take the strain of everyday use.

“We should have a constant stream of children playing football here during these school holidays and adults playing late into the evenings.

“This is a venue for every single person in the area not just for a few football fans.”

The club has a new 99-year lease through Dover District Council but Mr Chmura said it needed continued help, such as donations of councillor grants from district members.

The bus was built in Britain in the 1980s and shipped to Japan for service.

It was eventually brought back to England and in its last years was a school bus in Sheffield until the company running it went out of business.

Mr Chmura had heard about it through club sponsors Bayliss Executive Travel of Eythorne, which also supplies the team bus for Sheffield United.

He bought it on eBay last December for £3,200 and had it transported to Deal.

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