Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ralph Morris - Rest in Peace

We are very sad to report that Ralph Morris, the 1950s full back for Dulwich Hamlet departed this life on Monday evening. Only yesterday we published a piece on the Hamlet Historian blog how Ralph was soon to be honoured by leading the Hamlet team out in a forthcoming match. At 91 he would have been the oldest mascot to ever do so.

Regrettably, Ralph had a fall a few days ago which resulted in a very painful broken hip. An operation followed but being extremely frail he did not recover. Ralph passed away on Monday evening.

Ralph was really looking forward to his day out at Champion Hill as the matchday mascot, returning to the club for which he made over one hundred appearances. It is such a pity he passed away before his wish could be fulfilled. This was something which filled much of his thoughts in his last few weeks.

Clare Keeble who was instrumental in organising what was to be Ralph’s special day assures us that the Morris family are still eager to attend the match, at which Ralph’s life will be commemorated in some way. A minute’s silence will be held before kick-off. Our deepest condolences to the Morris family and friends.

Jack McInroy

Monday, 16 September 2019

Ralph Morris - Senior Mascot

Ralph Morris - Senior Mascot

Several generations have passed since Ralph Morris played his final game for Dulwich Hamlet. Now in his ninety second year, the former footballer resides in a care home in Haslemere, Surrey.  But unlike many nonagenarians he is not content to see out his long life sitting in an armchair in comfortable surroundings. Ralph is still looking to fulfil his ambitions!

Staff at the Brownscombe House Nursing Home contacted Dulwich Hamlet who kindly arranged for Ralph to be the matchday mascot at a forthcoming game. It has now been confirmed that the match against Havant & Waterlooville on 19 October will see Ralph Morris make his return …66 years after his final appearance in pink and blue.

Ralph last stepped onto the Champion Hill turf as a player in October 1953 having played more than a century of games for the Hamlet in the previous four years. A serious knee injury cut his career desperately short at the age of 25, when he was on the brink of an international call up for England Amateurs. Sadly Ralph was never to play again.

In August this year the former right back expressed his longing desire, despite being wheelchair bound, to return to Dulwich and once again tread the hallowed Champion Hill turf. “The one thing still on my bucket list is to return to Dulwich Hamlet. I have so many fond memories of my time playing there and just wish it could have continued for longer. To go back, meet the current team and watch a game with my family would be such a special experience for me.”

Ralph, who juggled his amateur football career with his job as a travel agency rep. played alongside the Reverend Ron Cowley, the Hamlet defender and Baptist minister. Indeed it was the Rev. Cowley who married Ralph and his bride Evelyn Augotoski one Saturday morning in March 1953. While the happy couple went off on their honeymoon the minister made his way back from Beckenham, where the wedding took place, to appear for Dulwich Hamlet in the afternoon.

Ralph will be presented with a Dulwich Hamlet No.2 shirt and lead out the team, undoubtedly the most senior person to ever do so. When he enters the pitch he may recall the two goals he scored for the club, one of which was from the halfway line. We trust Ralph will receive a similar ovation as he did when he scored his most famous goal.

Jack McInroy

Friday, 21 June 2019

Haydn Hill

One thing that was typical of the old Dulwich Hamlet players from yesteryear was a reluctance to harp on about their colourful careers, especially to their own children. Several sons of past Hamlet greats have told me that their dads rarely mentioned their footballing days. One of these is Robin Hill, son of HHC Hill, the Dulwich goalkeeper of the 1930s. I corresponded with Robin some years ago when he was considering selling some of his late father’s mementos. “Dad was very reticent about his career and did not speak much about it, possibly because I never inherited his skill or ability.” Having said that, Robin had a very good knowledge of his father’s playing days and was very proud of his achievements.

Haydn Hill joined Dulwich on trial in December 1936, just a few months after competing for Great Britain in the Berlin Olympic Games. The British football team were knocked out in the 2nd Round by Poland.

Despite this disappointment on the field, Hill always said that his greatest triumph on that trip was to have stood on Ribbentrop’s foot at a reception. Joachim Von Ribbentrop was Hitler’s Foreign Minister and was hanged for his war crimes following the Nuremburg trials.

Twelve months before arriving at Dulwich Haydn Hill was playing in the English First Division, where he made a handful of appearances for Sheffield Wednesday between April and December 1935. Wednesday won the FA Cup that year and Hill was the understudy to Jack Brown. Were it not for Brown’s recovery from injury just days before the final, Hill would have been in the line-up at Wembley.

It took just three games in the Hamlet Reserves before he secured the goalkeeper’s position in the first team, making his debut in January 1937. He quickly began to display all the brilliance which had gained him five Amateur Caps while with Sheffield University, Sheffield Wednesday, Yorkshire Amateurs and Corinthian. He soon became a great favourite at Champion Hill.

Hill added a further three England caps during his spell at Dulwich, including the England v Scotland international at Champion Hill in March 1937. This match, in front of his own supporters, took place just weeks before the Hamlet’s fourth Amateur Cup Final victory, and must have been a very proud moment.

The programme for the England Scotland game states that Hill was the first Hamlet player transferred from another Isthmian club – he had played once only for the Casuals in an emergency.

After his eighteen games for Dulwich in the second half of the 1936/37 season, Hill made a further sixty odd appearances for the club in the years leading up to the war. His honours included winners’ medals in the FA Amateur Cup and the London Senior Cup. He was then elected by his fellow players to captain the side for the short-lived 1039/40 season.

Oddly, he kept goal in a solitary appearance for Weymouth FC in September 1937 in a Western League Championship match against Swindon Town Reserves.

Haydn Hill was also quite adept facing a cricket ball. After the war he was opening bat for Weymouth Cricket Club – where he eventually rose to the position of President – and he also made a small number of Minor Counties Championship appearances for Dorset between 1948 and 1952.

By the 1960s Hill was assisting Frank O'Farrell, the manager of Weymouth FC, then of the Southern League, and was joint manager of the club’s Colts side. When O’Farrell left for Torquay United in 1965 Hill went with him continuing in a training and scouting role.

Hill’s day job was as a schoolmaster teaching mathematics at Weymouth Grammar School, where he finished his career as Senior Master. But it seems he was always ready to put aside his slide rule and Pythagoras’s Theorem for a match. Robin Hill told me, “He spent a lot of his spare time involved with teaching schoolkids football skills, and was, I think, Chairman of the Conference of English Schools FA. They ran week long coaching courses at Skegness in the Easter holidays. One name I remember that came through was Liverpool’s Steve Heighway.”

Haydn Hill passed away on 3 November 1992, having suffered a heart attack.

Note: Haydn Hill’s first name is often spelled in a variety of ways, but the correct way is the same as that of the classical music composer.

Original article from HH19 Autumn 2007
Copyright © Jack McInroy

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Hamlet legends on paper

Have you ever been writing or typing something whilst conducting a conversation, only to realise that you have accidentally written some of the words the other person said instead of what you intended to write?

I think that is what may have happened in this loose sheet from a 1930s autograph book currently available on Ebay.

The sheet contains the names of nine of the triumphant Dulwich Hamlet team who won the FA Amateur Cup in 1932. The match, played at West Ham United’s Boleyn ground, saw a rampant Hamlet side destroy Marine of Liverpool by seven goals to one. It was a record equaling score in the final. Six of the Dulwich strikes arrived in a fertile twenty minute spell just after the hour mark. Jack Moseley scored four of the goals, George Goodliffe one, and the legendary Edgar Kail bagged a brace.

The autograph collector, who probably attained the signatures of the Hamlet players after the game, put little boxes round the individual autographs and neatly noted some of their playing positions.

The two columns of names consist of WG Goodliffe, LB Morrish, HS Robbins, E Kail, T Hamer, AJ Hugo, CF Murray, AS Aitken, BE Osmond and AH Hamer. The eagle eyed will notice that R Miles and HC Moseley are missing – one of them has obviously been removed from the bottom left corner. Oddly, club captain Hamer’s name is recorded twice and in different hands. 

As I mentioned at the top of the article, my guess is that either Miles or Moseley wrote Hamer’s name instead of their own. In my scenario the player is about to sign the sheet when the collector asks, “Who was the best player today?” “Taffy Hamer” he replies. And as the words leave his lips he automatically signs ‘T Hamer’ by mistake. I say this because it is without question that Hamer would have put his actual initials in keeping with everyone else. Also, the Welshman never ever referred to himself as Taffy, and it is known that he was not fond of the nickname.

Of this great set of players Edgar Kail retired at the close of the following season, Jack Moseley immediately joined Millwall, while Cecil Murray, Horrie Robbins, Jack Hugo and Leslie Morrish each collected a further two Amateur Cup winners medals in 1934 and 1937. George Goodliffe was a member of the family business that later owned the Champion Hill ground and did so much to keep Dulwich Hamlet alive during the darker post-war days. 

Brief cinema footage of the Marine v Dulwich Hamlet match can be seen here.

The two teams are set to meet again. Dulwich Hamlet have been given the great honour to play a friendly match against Marine this summer as part of the Merseyside club’s 125 anniversary celebrations. The match will take place on Saturday 13 July 2019 in Crosby.