Sunday, 14 December 2014

Editorial for the Hamlet Historian No.26

The new issue of the magazine is due out on 20th December 2014 and contains articles by Jan Stover, Mishi D. Morath and the memoirs of the late Johnny Gornall.


In July 2015 Champion Hill will stage the return match between Dulwich Hamlet FC and German club Altona 93. It is quite a rarity for the Hamlet to be taking on foreign opposition in the modern era, so it will be well worth noting the date in your diary when more details appear. And if you were perplexed as to when the original friendly fixture took place and how it was you came to miss it, don’t fret …it was played in Hamburg 89 years ago!

The game will cement further ties between the two clubs, founded in 1893. Already the Dulwich Hamlet away kit is modelled on the Altona home kit. And many will be familiar with the Altona 93 / DHFC banner draped behind the goal.


A dream come true for terrace legend Mishi Morath and his counterpart at Altona, Jan Stover of the All To Nah fanzine. The pair had an amazing chance meeting a few years ago.  Mishi was visiting Hamburg and wandering round the Altona stadium when he was approached by Jan. The two got talking and Mishi came away with some of Jan’s fanzines. He then sent his German friend a copy of every back issue of the Hamlet Historian and some other fanzines, all of which Jan lapped up. It was only later that it was realised that their two clubs had actually played each other in a friendly many years earlier.

Unlike today’s senior team, the DHFC Supporters Team is quite accustomed to touring Europe, having done so many times. So, taking an opportunity to travel to Germany, acquaintance was renewed between the two clubs, and a match between the two sets of fans was played out at Altona’s Adolf Jäger stadium. When it was time for the Hamlet to return the favour towards the end of the 2012/13 season, a coachload of Altona fans visited Edgar Kail Way, Champion Hill and enjoyed a wonderful time of football and frolics. It was a grand occasion.

For this issue of the Hamlet Historian Jan Stover has kindly produced a fine piece about the encounter in 1925, in which the aforementioned club legends Edgar Kail and Adolf Jäger featured. Sadly, Jäger’s life was cut short in 1944, when he was killed attempting to defuse an Allied bomb in Altona while working as a volunteer in a bomb squad. Within weeks of his death the stadium was renamed in his honour.

As we are all so very much aware, 2014 marks the centenary of the First World War. There have been many fitting memorials, including the revamping of the Imperial War Museum in Southwark and the remarkable spectacle of the ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. The Club itself also took part in Football Remembers Week, in which footballers from all walks of life, young and old, amateur and professional, were photographed a hundred years on from the Christmas truce of 1914. This is in tribute to the impromptu football match played out between German and Allied troops. That famous lull amidst the carnage was also recently touchingly recreated for Sainsbury’s seasonal advertising campaign.

Before the Second World War Dulwich Hamlet made a number of tours to Germany. The last one was in 1930 when Cologne and Aachen were visited. Earlier trips went back as far as 1911. However, the one that took place in 1914 (Menderich Duisberg, Eberfield, Munich Gladbach) just three and a half months before the start of the First World War is perhaps the most poignant.

It is hard to imagine how opponents who were happily kicking a ball about, attacking each other’s goals on a football pitch would soon be attacking each other with bullets, bombs and bayonets in the trenches of the Western Front.  And, lest we forget, twenty two Hamlet clubmen (four more in WWII) made the supreme sacrifice, as did some men from Altona 93. May our friendship ever continue.

Jack McInroy 

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