Saturday, 14 July 2018

Jazz Stockings

During this summer’s World Cup [1998] I became a laughing stock in several discussions with other football fans. Nothing new I hear you add. But this time it was because I found myself agreeing with Jimmy Hill. You may remember he made a point after the Rumanians all dyed their hair blonde that this was a positive thing. It was not only strengthening team spirit he said, by uniting the squad together in something, but it would even quicken up their passing ability as they sighted the blonde hair of a colleague out of the corner of the eye. It was that split second that could make all the difference. (I can’t remember if Rumania won or lost the game now). A similar debate took place a couple of seasons ago after a match at the Dell when Manchester United’s eleventh(?) kit - the grey one - so blended in with the Hampshire crowd that the United players felt they were looking for a chameleon in a haystack. Following the break they ran out in a different strip altogether. They still lost the match and lots of fun was had at their expense.  Besides, in the old days George Best had no problem finding Bobby Charlton and they were in black and white!

        However, if by wearing certain colours speeds up your senses, even by a miniscule, surely that can only be a good thing for the player on the ball. I’ve been involved in arranging and playing in weekly football matches during summer months in Kennington Park for over twenty years. The local youth (and older ones up to forty) have, on occasions, turned up in droves to participate, and it has never been our policy to turn people away unless it’s well late into the game. For a number of years it was a bit of a disorganised shambles with two dozen players in an assortment of whites, coloureds and boilwashes. And I’m talking about shirts here - some of my best friends are boilwashes! It’s just that it can be very confusing trying to work out who is on your side and who is on the opposing team. Get two players similarly attired and you lose precious moments thinking before passing and even then sometimes get it wrong.

        On one occasion, a cold September evening about a decade ago in a ridiculous twenty-a-side match, some bright spark called out for ‘skins’. This basically means that one side has to remove their shirts to save confusion. No problem on a baking hot day. But it happened to be my side that went semi-naked, and I think it might have been then that I thought it necessary to purchase some coloured bibs for future use. Since then we’ve been playing reds v yellows each week which makes things so much easier. And even then the naked eye seems to pick out yellow much more quickly than red when the nights begin to draw in.

        I’ve noticed too over the years that the most popular colour for away shirts (in midweek matches in particular), and that goes for teams in the top flight as well as the Isthmian League, is either all white or all yellow. There must be a reason for this, and surely it is because under floodlights they are surely the most easily seen.

        I was most surprised to find that the above theory is not as modern or as loony as we might first think. Whilst doing some research recently I came across this article from the pen of the popular sportswriter L.V. Manning from A september 1937 edition of the Daily Sketch.

        “It has become a habit to think of the great Herbert Chapman as inventor of most football novelties, but although he was one of the first to realise jazz stockings might help players to find each other with passes without looking around to establish identification, their are other claimants.
        But since the first pair brightened the twilight of a dark November afternoon, stockings became jazzier and jazzier until this season the Football League had to step in and insist on all clubs registering both colour and design.
        And Bolton Wanderers, I note, have achieved exclusiveness by the simple process of turning back the clock and reverting to the old fashioned plain white top with a self colour leg. Probably wearied of seeing colour blind players pass to the wrong stockings.
        It was a lot of ‘bunk’ anyway. Some players
would still get the pass to the wrong man if
(1) he went up and asked for it, (2) wrote a
postcard, (3) fired a pistol, or (4) rang a
peal of church bells.”

        Judging from action photographs of
thirties players I assume that what is
referred to above as ‘jazz stockings’ are
the hooped variety that appear to have
become most popular after the Arsenal
took to wearing them.

This article is from October 1998 and originally appeared in the Champion Hill Street Blues fanzine under the pseudonym Graveley Roberts

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Dulwich Society Journal on Pa Wilson

The latest Dulwich Society journal features two Dulwich Hamlet related articles

The first, titled DulwichHamlet Football Club and Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson is a very informative piece about the founder of Dulwich Hamlet.

Sharon O’Connor, one of the journal’s regular contributors, has uncovered details about Pa Wilson’s early life that add to our understanding of what made him tick.

The Hamlet Historian was sourced for the article – originally titled Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson (1865-1924): Founder of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club and practical social idealist. This was sent to us a few months ago to confirm some details. In the much longer unedited version acknowledgement was kindly made to us. However, in the printed version the acknowledgement has disappeared altogether. Sharon has since emailed us to apologise for the omission.

Her original version, which runs to 2,600 words, was sadly hacked to pieces to fit the quarterly journal.  Presumably the missing 1300 words were sacrificed to make way for the editor’s own article about the current situation at Dulwich Hamlet FC. The less said about Green’s piece the better.

The HH also provided some excellent photographs but these were discarded altogether. Instead, for reasons only known to the editorial team, they have thrown in a picture of a group of Dulwich Hamlet schoolchildren from 1906!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Ernie Astill Remembered 100 Years On

Ernie Astill 
Remembered 100 Years On

Two men associated with Dulwich Hamlet in its early years were the brothers Reginald and Ernest Astill. Neither played for the first team but each one represented the Dulwich Hamlet Cricket Club, which contained a good number of the club’s senior footballers. Reg and Ernie were regarded as excellent cricketers and a mainstay of the side.

Like most of their sporting colleagues at Dulwich, when it was time to serve the nation in the First World War, they did not shirk their responsibilities. Tragically, they were both wounded on the First Day of the Somme, 1 July 1916. Reg, aged 21, was mortally wounded going over Gommecourt, and became the fifth Hamlet man to be killed in the war.

His elder brother Ernie, a 2nd Lieutenant of the Queen Victoria Rifles, who had enlisted at the very start of the war, was sent home to recuperate from his wounds and from shellshock, and returned the following year. Seven months later Ernie also became a casualty of the war.

Today, 30 March 2018, marks the centenary of his death.

Born in Brixton in 1891, Ernie later moved with his parents and family to Carshalton. It must have been extremely difficult for Mr and Mrs Astill to lose their two sons as they did. They had but two boys – and they gave their all. Neither of them has a known grave but Reg is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial and Ernie at Pozieres.

An apt tribute to Ernest William Dearne Astill would have been a few moments of quiet contemplation spent at the War Memorial in the Dulwich Hamlet boardroom at Champion Hill. Perhaps a bunch of flowers could have been placed beneath the bronze plaque where his name is inscribed with the two dozen others who made the ultimate sacrifice.

However, Meadow Residential have put paid to this by locking Dulwich Hamlet and its supporters out of their ground. Hopefully by 11 November this year, when we commemorate a century since the armistice, Meadow will be gone and we can hold a proper memorial service.

It is rather fitting that the anniversary of Ernie Astill’s passing should fall on Good Friday. For it is the day we remember the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Many thanks to Dulwich Hamlet supporter Ian Colley for placing an announcement in the “In memoriam their name liveth for evermore” column in today’s Daily Telegraph.

Jack McInroy

Saturday, 24 March 2018

George Shipway

George Shipway, right winger for Dulwich Hamlet either side of the First World War, partnered two of the greatest inside forwards in the history of the amateur game, the Egyptian Hussein Hegazi and the legendary Edgar Kail.

In 1913 he won two England caps, against Germany and Holland, making him the club’s second amateur international after Charlie Tyson.

England Amateurs 1913. Shipway first left seated.

During his time at Champion Hill, Shipway gained many representative honours for the London FA and Surrey County FA.

A few years ago some football memorabilia relating to Shipway was auctioned off. Along with the county caps and badges was his large collection of enamel pin badges. Included among them were some early Dulwich Hamlet ones from the 1920s and 30s.

Recently some of his embroidered shirt badges have turned up on EbayThe London badge he can be seen wearing in the top picture from December 1911. The photograph was taken before the match against Middlesex at Stamford Bridge. 

 London badge