Tuesday 7th October 2014 – Dulwich Hamlet 1 – 0 Thamesmead Town
London Senior Cup @ Champion Hill, Dulwich, London
This particular ground tick is long overdue; 18 months in the offing. Wherever I have lived, I have always tried to embrace the local football side, whether it be random trips to the likes of Redditch and Sutton Coldfield in the Midlands, or that one season where I held a Brentford season ticket. Watching a local game feels like the perfect induction to the area.
But for some reason that never happened with Dulwich Hamlet……
Based 5 minutes away on the 176 bus, I can’t put my finger on why my I was never present. I was even given an indirect prompt when my own Hull City signed their starlet Callum J Martin. But with just over a week left in SE23, I decided now is the time.
And the next match? Mid-week London Senior Cup action against Thamesmead Town.
The club is steeped in history. The main entrance has it’s own blue plaque, dedicated to one Edgar Kail, the last amateur footballer to represent England (Dulwich can also claim a sizeable number of players who went onto play League Football, including my own Hull City fave, Leon Cort).
As demonstrated by the picture below, the ground also used to be fairly sizeable, and according to Wiki, was used during thje 1948 Olympics.
Alas however, things move on, and presumably a combination of ongoing decay and the club remaining non-league led to it’s eventual decline, it’s fate being demolition and a Sainsbury’s built in it’s place. The new ground was built on the old training pitch next door.
And so to get to the new Champion Hill, located handily between Dulwich and Camberwell, you enter via Sainsbury’s, past a car wash, and through the turnstile (just £5 that night due to the bar being closed – but it did open at half time, so bonus!). If you didn’t know what you were looking you might not know a football club lived there…..
Upon entering, whilst presumably not as impressive as the old ground, you are met by a quite a large and ‘good looking’ main stand, which is were the bulk of the support (home and away – c. 200 of them I believe that night) seemed to congregate (all seated, with standing room at the front).
Facilities are ok, nice little tea bar at the foot of the stand (where a brew and a Kit Kat were purchased to start the night, but burgers were on offer too), nicely priced programme and a small club shop which opened at half time (as said before along with the spacious and impressive club bar).
The rest of the ground is as you might expect, small stand immediately opposite, but the end away from the car wash is surrounded by trees, with glints of light from the flats behind peeping through. It was a slightly surreal atmosphere; apart from the characteristic London hum of planes above, strange to say, but it didn’t feel like a match in London. Could have been playing out in a country village if you hadn’t known better (or remembered the supermarket monstrosity living next door).
The match itself was entertaining – fast moving game, both sets of players giving it a go, decent reaction from the crowd; Thamesmead play in the league below DH, but you couldn’t really tell. Not having been before, I was unsure whether it was the reserves or the first XI’s running out that night. The game ended 1-0 to DH (I was slightly annoyed, no ET or Replays – straight to penners if a draw!), who go through to play either Greenhouse London or Beckenham Town (tbc) in the next round in December. I wish them the best of luck.
And so it was with a tinge of regret that I left. Regret that I had not been sooner, or even purchased a season ticket to supplement the Hull City habit. Dulwich Hamlet is a cracking little club, with a decent crowd, and good facilities – well worth a visit if you around that way.
Other shots from the evening