Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Dulwich Hamlet - Champion Hill


Dulwich Hamlet FC
Champion Hill Stadium
Edgar Kail Way
Dog Kennel Hill
London
SE22 8DB

0207 274 8707





Matchday Number: 84
Tuesday 17th February 2004
Dulwich Hamlet 4-2 Lewes
Ryman League Division 1 South





DULWICH HAMLET - A BRIEF HISTORY

Dulwich Hamlet were formed in 1893 by Lorraine 'Pa' Wilson who has a plaque outside the ground to mark this fact. Another famous name honoured by the club is Edgar Kail, the last amateur player to make a full England squad. He scored 427 goals in a long career for the Hamlet, including 53 in the 1925/26 season. Lately a lot have players have come through the clubs ranks and gone onto better things including Erhan Oztumer and Daniel Carr. Even more famously in the past Ian Wright played for the club before going on to have a glittering career with Arsenal and England. Ex Wycombe connections include our worst ever manager Alan Smith and slightly more positive Peter Garland, a tidy and talented midfielder who had a loan spell with us during the mid 1990's when he was a youngster at Charlton Athletic.



The Hamlet have been in the Isthmian League for pretty much all of their history, spending most of their time in the top tier when the league expanded with 2001-2013 being the longest spell spent at Division 1 level. The lowest ever placing came in 2004/05 when they finished 15th in Division 1 South. The club are 5 times Isthmian League Champions, the latest win coming in 1978, with them also winning Division 1 South in 2013 to end their long absence from the Premier Division. These days things are much improved with the last few seasons seeing them challenge at the top for a spot in the Conference South.

In the FA Cup the 1st Round has been reached on a number of occasions, most recently in 1998 when a narrow home defeat by Conference side Southport ended their run. They are 4 times winners of the FA Amateur Cup with the most naotable win coming in 1932 when they hammered Merseyside based Marin 7-1 in the final played at West Ham United. It's replacement, the FA Trophy has not seen so much success but they did reach the Quarter Final in 1980, going out after a replay to Boston United. Local Cup competitions have seen plenty of success with Dulwich having won the Surrey Senior Cup on a record 16 occasions, whilst also doing well in the London Senior Cup which was last won in 2004.


The club have played at Champion Hill since 1992 after it was completely rebuilt following tighter regulations introduced following the Hillsborough Disaster. They suffered the ignominy of playing at bitter rivals Tooting & Mitcham (known in Dulwich as Thugs & Muggers!) for a season while this work was carried out on a ground they have called home since 1931. The clubs supporters, known as the rabble have some great causes, including anti discrimination, indeed the club played the most famous team made up entirely of gay players in a friendly in recent times, which bought a lot of good press and raised awareness of issues that needed addressing in the professional game. They have friendships with many European clubs, the most well known is with Altona 1893, a club from Germany formed in the same year as Dulwich. They have adopted each others strips as their change kit and played a friendly between the 2 clubs in Dulwich earlier this season, planning to reverse the fixture in the future.


VISIT 1: DULWICH 4-2 LEWES (17/2/04)

This match came in the days when I was just a person who watched games, rather than a conscious groundhopper. I was watching Windsor a lot as they had several ex Wycombe Wanderers players in their ranks, and along with fellow Chairboys Paul & Sue, this was something that we enjoyed. I was originally planning to go to Whyteleafe v Windsor and Eton on this night, but upon arriving at the ground, I was told the game was off. And looking at the pitch, I could see why - even though it was pitch black with the floodlights off, you could still see the water floating on the surface of the pitch. I asked what other local games could be on. I think they mentioned Sutton and a few others, but the one that stood out for me was Dulwich Hamlet v Lewes. Lewes were the team that were challenging Windsor at the top of the Ryman Division 1 South, about 5 points ahead at the time if I recall correctly. The good people at Whyteleafe even called up Dulwich to make sure the game was on - this was pre Twitter and reliable information on the internet days. At the time Windsor & Eton and Lewes were vying for a spot at the top of the Isthmian D1 South with the winners reward being a place in the Conference South which was to be formed the following season.

After a detour through London, we got to Dulwich at around 7.30. I was expecting to be watching the teams walk out, shortly after getting into the ground, but traffic problems on the M25 meant that the Lewes team coach didn't get there until 8.30 and so the game didn't kick off until 8.40. Perhaps the stressful journey had affected Lewes, as they didn't look like a top of the league team.Dulwich eventually ran out 4-2 winners and it was a pretty decent game, so it was worth the hassle. One thing I do remember about the game is sitting next to former Wycombe player and Windsor manager Dennis Greene. A wayward clearance came into the stand and soaked us both in tea after it hit his drink!


VISIT 2: DULWICH 1-2 GUISELEY (FA TROPHY R2 16/1/16)


When I planned this Saturday, I knew that I would be on my own as Anwar was busy with his kids. I’d drawn up a list of around 30 possibilities across the leagues, mainly short distance trips in the south of the country. The Friday night had been spent celebrating my Mum’s birthday at the local Greek restaurant, and before I’d gone up there I’d narrowed it down to 3 choices - either Bowers & Pitsea v Sutton Common Rovers or Moneyfields v Bristol Manor Farm in the FA Vase or a revisit to Dulwich Hamlet v Guiseley in the FA Trophy. After a sleep on it I discounted Moneyfields and put Bowers & Pitsea in first place. This was due to me being able to do a little bit of casual work at Tesco along the way, thus saving a tenner off my petrol bill as I’d not have to do it tomorrow when I’d have to go out of my way. Early morning news saw a 9.15 pitch inspection at Bowers inconclusive due to the overnight frost and an 11am time set to re assess. With that in mind, I left at 11am to do my work, with the wonders of mobile technology meaning I could find out news once I’d finished the job. Soon enough I was on my way and with only just over 35 miles to Dulwich I thought it would be a decent journey. I'd forgotten about London's roads though. The majority of the way was Motorway and dual carriageway but with under 10 miles to go there was still an hour left on my estimated time of arrival. Thanks to Boris Johnson's mission to make motorists life hell, a succession of traffic lights, traffic calming measures and cycle and bus lanes meant that the remainder of the journey was a slow crawl.



I eventually got to the ground at 1.10 and after buying a programme went off to find the local Wetherspoons for lunch. The Fox On The Hill was in Camberwell which always reminded me of Camberwick Green, a fictional place from a 1970s kids TV programme. The cider selection was a bit disappointing with only Westons Old Rosie Rhubarb on so I just settled on Thatchers Gold with my pulled pork burrito, all in cost £7.25. I made my way back to the ground, getting some diet Irn Bru at Sainsburys on the way. After paying £10 to get in I went in and said hello to my fellow committed non vegetarian Mishi who supports Dulwich and was selling raffle tickets. I got one and as there was still loads of time to go I went up to the bar. There was a good selection of ales and ciders on sale. I swerved the Westons Old Rosie as it was a bit too strong bearing in mind I had to drive in 3 hours. Instead I had a pint of Symonds Reserve which cost me £3.80. I'd not had it for a long while and it helped me chill before the game started. I went out and got some pictures of the ground while I waited for kick off. There was a really friendly hipster feel to the place, similar to FC United of Manchester with interesting food stalls and great supporters. There was a great travelling support took, coming down from Yorkshire and giving their team vocal backing. I'd met my fellow ground hopper Simon along the way who was following an FA Trophy trail to Wembley, in this case Guiseley's one which saw the Yorkshire side through courtesy of a 3-2 win over Merseyside club Burscough in the previous round. The report from the non league paper is below.


Overall I thought that Dulwich were a tad unlucky. Indeed they were the better side for the opening stages of the game and Guiseley’s goals came against the run of play as they raced into a 2-0 lead. That galvanised them though and it looked as if they were going to close the game out as they retained posession well. Dulwich got one back though and though there were some chances to equalise, apart from the post being hit in the dying moments, it always looked a tall order. I’d enjoyed the day and game though and it had been good catching up with a few fellow hoppers. The journey home was pretty much the same, with the first half taking 1 hour 20 and the second half 30 minutes once I’d got out of London. I arrived home at 6.40 and after having dinner spent the evening watching TV and typing my blog. I watched Match of The Day before going to bed around midnight, which is pretty much the standard Saturday night routine for me.


CHAMPION HILL is a fairly modern stadium, having been built in the early 1990's. There is a smart main stand, seating around 500 and some covered terracing opposite, probably holding around 800. The rest of the ground is open, with some steps of terracing at either end and an overall capacity of around 3000. The ground is well designed with decent facilities.









The programme was excellent and great value for £2, one of the best I have seen this season. The tea bars are also excellent, not that I tried the good range of gourmet burgers and hot dogs - not your genuine football fare, but then you will pay around £5 each. I didn't try any as I'd already eaten but usually that sort of stuff is worth it. The bar was a similar situation - slightly above what I'm used to paying, but then the London factor might come into it. The range is excellent and they even had their own brew called 'Edgar Kail Pale Ale' named after the Dulwich Hamlet hero. The club shop had lots of clothes, but was slightly limited elsewhere, especially towards the sort of things that I like to buy for cheap like pens. There is plenty nearby should you fancy going elsewhere pre match and overall Dulwich is well worth a visit, with one of the more vibrant supporters bases in non league and a warm welcome for everyone.




2 comments:

  1. We've won the Isthmian League four times, the last time 1948. 1978 was a lower division title. The Southport game, in 1998, was only our second post-war appearance in the first round proper. We lost 1-0, Tony Houghton own goal, which made Terry Wogan's "Auntie's Sporting Bloomers"! The previous time was 1948...fifty years of hurt! We hold the record for reaching the first round proper more times than any other non-league side BUT failing to progress further...Oh, and you were doing sol well until you used the tired lazy cliche 'hipster feel'. Please explain what that means...

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  2. I don't think 'hipster feel' is an insult. In my book it brings up images of a crowd that is more diverse than the average. Plenty of nice beers and some higher brow food such as organic burgers and bratwurst that you might not expect at most grounds. Chuck in a bit of left wing politics and a strong supporters trust and it sounds like a compliment if anything

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