Monday, 28 December 2015

Ehrenplatz (Pride of Place)

In July 2015 German side Altona 93 took on Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill in a historic match for the Pa Wilson Memorial Trophy. The visitors from the fifth tier of German Football won the match by 5 goals to 3 and flew back to Hamburg with the handsome trophy tucked away in their luggage.

Benjamin Lipke and Jakob Sachs of Altona 93

Both clubs were founded in 1893 and originally met in 1925, but it was only following an amazing chance meeting between Mishi Morath and Jan Stover of the respective clubs, that a new bond has grown. In a gesture that is almost unique in modern football the home strip of each club has become the second strip of the other. Altona 93’s change strip is the classic Hamlet pinkand blue, whilst Dulwich, in turn, adorn the red black and white hoops when a colour-clash occurs.

A further match has been arranged for 2018 when the Hamlet team will return to Germany to celebrate the 125th anniversary of both clubs. A fund is in place if you would like to contribute to it.
I asked our good friend Jan of the All To Nah fanzine if he could photograph the Pa Wilson Memorial Trophy in situ at the Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn. To be perfectly honest I was expecting it to be sitting in a trophy cabinet in the boardroom. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the solid bronze trophy has pride of place in the players’ dressing room. And why not? Thinking about it, how many footballers enter their own club boardrooms or trophy rooms to see the silverware that they actually had a big hand in winning. Very few I would guess. So it makes perfect sense to have the trophy on display in the home dressing room as a constant reminder of their success.

Jan managed to get into the changing room with first team players Benjamin Lipke and Jakob Sachs after a recent match (pictured above). Both players were in the squad that visited Champion Hill last July. The whole team, Jan tells me, enjoyed the whole experience and are very proud of the Pa Wilson Memorial Trophy.

 Jack McInroy

My grateful thanks to Jan Stover of the All To Nah fanzine. Jan kindly took the above photographs in December 2015.

Andy Nunn's photos found here.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

David E. Levy – Outside Left / Inside Knowledge


75 years ago German bombs began to rain down on Britain causing widespread destruction. Night after night ton after ton of high explosives and incendiaries were dropped by the Luftwaffe, causing tens of thousands of Londoners to perish or suffer serious injury. Many more were displaced, including countless schoolchildren, evacuated to the safety of the English countryside.

While much of London was being reduced to rubble, Bill Kirby was manning an anti-aircraft gun on Clapham Common and on Hampstead Heath, a post he held for the whole duration of the blitz.  Bill’s youth had been spent at Champion Hill, following his local side Dulwich Hamlet. He saw the Pink and Blues in the glory days of the 1930s, watched the legendary Edgar Kail play in his twilight season, and witnessed the Hamlet win their third FA Amateur Cup in six years at West Ham United’s ground. He returned that same evening to the Crown & Greyhound pub in Dulwich Village where the Dulwich players were celebrating their great victory. Bill, then seventeen, was handed the champagne filled trophy, and managed to take a few swigs out of it himself. That momentous night was the first time in his life that he was intoxicated. Today, at 95 years old, Bill is the Hamlet’s most senior supporter.

One player Bill remembers from that heyday was left-winger DE Levy. Levy had arrived at Dulwich Hamlet halfway through the 1929/30 season following a spell at Sutton United. Before that he played 20 times for Hampstead. Hampstead later changed their name to Golders Green, and later still to Hendon FC, which they have been known as ever since.

In his time at Dulwich Levy made over one hundred appearances for the club, scoring over 20 goals. He was also the provider of many more and formed a strong wing partnership with Stanley Smith. [See elsewhere in this issue.] Levy won a Surrey Cap and Badge, represented the Isthmian League, and was one of the eleven Hamlet players that had the unique distinction of taking part in the opening game at the brand new 30,000 capacity Champion Hill ground In October 1931.

Born in Acton, Middlesex in 1905, David Edward Levy was the fourth child of Jewish couple David and Nellie Levy. His father, at the time was a hotel waiter, but went on to become a manufacturer's agent and bookmaker. Growing up, David was closest to his younger brother Joseph, born a year later. Both were keen footballers, and the boys were almost inseparable. They even followed the same path in business, and when Joe left school he joined the same firm where his older brother worked.

That company, JA Phillips Estate Agents of 123 Oxford Street, was owned by fellow Jew, Jack Abraham Phillips. It was at the feet of this charismatic character that David and Joe learned all they knew about office development, becoming steeped in the property world. Among his numerous projects Phillips was responsible for acquiring the land and brokering the deal for the construction of Broadcasting House in Portland Place as the home for the BBC. He also procured a property at the back of the Strand that became New Zealand House.

Despite his flamboyant millionaire playboy image, Jack Phillips held a dark secret. He was an extremely jealous man and hid away his second wife for eleven years, not allowing her contact with any male company. Whenever he threw a party at his mansion in Virginia Water or his rural cottage in Stoke Poges, his wife was locked away in an upper room, a prisoner in her own home!

By 1937, with David’s Hamlet career out of the way, the Levy brothers were looking to finance their own development – some new depots for Dunlop the rubber manufacturers, one of the UK’s largest companies – and hooked up with Scotsman Robert Clark to form a partnership that would eventually reap great rewards.

As the 1930s were drawing to a close and another world war loomed, Jack Philips was on the decline, both in occupation and in health. He contracted cancer and died on Christmas Day 1939. He had lived a luxurious lifestyle but departed this world impoverished, owing hundreds of thousands of pounds in debts and unpaid taxes. All his wife and young daughter, free from their captivity, were left with was a wedding ring and five shillings (25p).

His associates must have seen this coming. The previous January David E and Joe Levy set up their own company DE&J Levy Co Ltd. in St James’ Square, and took over the JA Phillips ailing business. In time DE&J Levy would become the largest commercial-industrial estate agents in London.

During the Blitz of 1940-41, while Bill Kirby was patrolling the skies seeking to take out German bombers, Joe Levy was a member of the fire brigade extinguishing London’s blazes. Not a job for the fainthearted, such was his bravery that he earned the honour of a British Empire Medal after rescuing several people from inside a bombed building that was soon to collapse. Throughout the war years Joe and David met up every few days to keep their own business alive and plan for the years to come.
The saying ‘one man’s loss is another man’s gain’ could not have been truer for the Levys. With the foresight to see that when London came out of the war there would be an awful lot of rebuilding to do, they went about amassing a huge portfolio of war damaged properties in prime locations and at slashed prices. They actually carried cheque book and pen with them to devastated office blocks and retail shops, to make as quick and cheap a deal as possible; perhaps even taking advantage of the owners in their distress and uncertainty. In the post-war property boom these sites would prove to be extremely valuable. What aided them was Joe’s comprehensive knowledge of the West End bomb sites. His fire-fighting duties in the area made him ‘Johnny on the spot’ and gave him a head start in the property market.

Thus, in the aftermath of the war, DE&J Levy had a large hand in the rebuilding of London's West End. There was a great need for the development of offices and shopping areas to get the capital on its feet again, and the Levytes, David with his charm becoming established as the top development agent, and the younger jovial Joe, were chief players.  

However, on January 8, 1952 David Levy sadly passed away aged just 47, the result of a long illness of a rare blood disorder. He had been moved from his deluxe apartment at the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane to spend his final days in a sickbed at the London Clinic in Harley Street. Two days later his memorial service took place at the Great Portland Street Synagogue, before his last remains were buried in Willesden Cemetery in a plot not far from his mentor Jack Phillips.

Just prior to David’s death, the Levy brothers transferred their assets to a small-property company they had acquired called Stock Conversion Investment Trust. David’s untimely demise meant he would not witness the rapid growth of the company, or how his brother Joe would soon be propelled to giant status in the post-war property industry. Before long Stock Conversion had office blocks going up in the Strand, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, High Holborn, Kingsway, Victoria Street, Edgware Road, and most notoriously in Euston Square.
Over the next three decades the company that David Levy set up with his brother Joe was the leading development agency in the West End. DE&J Levy prided themselves on their motto ‘Changing the Face of London.’ And they did just that, arguably much of it was to the detriment of London’s skyline: ugly concrete, steel and glass office blocks rising up to spoil long held vistas. By 1958 the enterprise was responsible for nine million square feet of new office development and investments of almost £100 million. It all made Joe Levy an absolute fortune.

But could it have been achieved without the clandestine meetings with London County Council planners and the shady deals done in the corridors of power to obtain building licenses. One tends to think not.

In 2014 the DE&J Levy Co Ltd. rebranded itself and is now the less cumbersome Levy.

Acknowledgements and sources:  Bill Kirby; John Lawrence for the image; London in the Twentieth Century by Jerry White; The Property Boom by Oliver Marriott; The Times newspaper; The Changing Face of London - British Pathé film 1957.

Original article from HH28 Autumn 2015
Copyright © Jack McInroy

Friday, 4 December 2015

In a Class of Their Own

I was sent a complimentary copy of a new book today, which was a nice pleasant surprise.

In a Class of Their Own: A History of English Amateur Football by Terry Morris is nearly 400 pages thick, so plenty of reading to do over the Christmas period.

There are a few pages on Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson, the founder of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club which may interest subscribers of the HH.


Ian Wright

This tribute to one of my old friends is from the archives and originally appeared in the Dulwich Hamlet v Crystal Palace programme 27 July 2011.

Ian Wright
26 October 1957 - 13 June 2011

As we approached Belair Park on our way to another supporters match, Ian told me, “This is definitely going to be my last season.”

He had been thinking about ‘retiring’ for some time, but couldn’t face it. His brain told him to pack it all in but his heart still had a bit of catching up to do. Within weeks, however, the statement Ian had made in the car had become incredibly poignant.

He was always proud to pull on the pink and blue shirt of Dulwich Hamlet, and from his late thirties Ian had been a regular in the Supporters team; not just in the Elevens but in the mid-week Sevens team as well. In the last 15 years he must have turned out hundreds of times. Even into his 50s his kitbag was always on hand if he was required.

In more recent days he was quite content to get fifteen minutes as a late substitute – but that wasn’t always so. He used to frown sometimes about lesser skilled players given a full ninety minutes while he patiently stood by or reluctantly ran the line. “How can those two play ahead of me?” he would ask. And I would reply, “Well, to start with Ian, they’re twenty years younger than you.”

Ian and I went back more than two decades, and we played together on more than 500 occasions. We knew each other’s game inside out, and we both continued into middle age playing for the love of it, well aware of each other’s declining abilities.

I was introduced to Ian when he was about thirty years old. His sister and brother in law have always been among my closest friends. He began to attend my local church, and as we had a couple of dozen men and youngsters who loved playing football at every opportunity Ian fit in very well. Eventually he became a regular attendant at church meetings. It was only recently that we began to see less and less of Ian, and although he spoke to a handful of us of his ailments – he was developing a serious kidney problem – it wasn’t generally recognised that he was in such a bad state.

He lived his entire life in south London. Born in Wimbledon in 1957 he dwelt at various times in East Dulwich, Camberwell, Battersea, Wandsworth and Walworth. Like most post-war kids he grew up with his backside sticking out of his trousers and his toes poking out of his shoes.  But Ian remained that way. “How old is that tracksuit, mate? It looks like something out of the eighties” I’d say. And the truth is, he’d probably been wearing it since then. And even when he occasionally forced himself into a suit and tie, the addition of a jersey and baseball cap always made him appear slightly eccentric. It was difficult to prise that cap from his head: the moment he left the pitch after being subbed, out came the fags and on went the cap.

Ian grew up on the Dog Kennel Hill Estate just a stone’s throw from Champion Hill where he would venture over to watch Dulwich Hamlet play, and though he was a lifelong supporter of Crystal Palace, the Hamlet always remained very close to his heart. And yet in the years between 1970 and 1995 he hardly ever saw them play. He was so busy playing his own football for junior sides, and then Cobham Town, Colliers Wood, the church side, or anyone who would give him a game, that he was quite happy to just follow the Hamlet from a distance through the back pages of the South London Press.
He was a real ‘have boots will travel’ chap. So, when he was given the opportunity to play for Dulwich, albeit in the Supporters team, he was very proud to take up the offer.
In his day Ian was a workmanlike left sided central defender. Solid and dependable, confident on the ball and good in the air with a powerful header. For a big man he was also quite agile and when called upon to go in goal he displayed remarkable skill there too. One of Ian’s most memorable skills (if you can call it that, because it was also the most irritating) was his famous ‘step-over’. This was where the ball was coming towards him at pace in central defence and he would shape to make a hefty clearance. The striker usually leapt and spun to block the ball with his side, back or leading leg, only to find that Ian had completely sold him a dummy. But this manoeuvre would often outfox our own goalkeeper who would be left scrambling to keep the ball out of the net!

By a strange coincidence I once wrote a lighthearted piece titled ‘Ian Wright’ about our friend for the Champion Hill Street Blues fanzine in August 1994 following that summer’s Hamlet v Palace pre-season friendly. I’m pretty sure this was Ian’s first visit to the ground in a very long time, and still a couple of years before his first game for the Supporters team.  He left before the end, disappointed that no Palace ‘stars’ had been included in the line-up.

One memorable game Ian played in was in May 1997 when he scored the match winning penalty in the shootout that decided the Canary Cup final at the Hitchin Tournament. He was also in the side that were dumped out of the West Bromwich Albion Tournament in the Midlands a month later, when a perfectly good Hamlet goal was deemed to have bounced over the bar when it had in fact bounced under it and through a hole in the net. Several of the players from those early games are still part of our current aging side: Steve Rickerby, Shaun Dooley, Matt Hammond, Mishi Morath, myself. A familiar face from the Premier League, FIFA referee’s assistant Steve Child, was also one of our players back then.

Apart from football Ian was also a keen golfer, and once every six months or so I would join him and Joel Virgo for a round. Some folks may not realise that when Ian turned up looking a bit dishevelled on a Saturday morning at Belair Park for a 10.30 kick off, he had usually been up since five and already played eighteen holes at New Addington with Joel. I always found it very odd, traipsing around a golf course with Ian, because in this realm, he really seemed to struggle with simple arithmetic. He’d take three or four strokes down the fairway, lose a ball, three putt – and still come away with a score of 5.

When Ian left the Post Office, where he had worked since leaving school, he took up a job as a driver delivering cooked meats. The company changed ownership several times over the years but Ian was a mainstay. He hardly ever took a day’s leave; he was a good timekeeper; always reliable; a very good driver; and knew the South East better than anybody. I was his travelling companion on many, many occasions and marvelled that he would just point the car and drive without any navigational aids. He knew exactly how to get to our destination and usually by more than one route. Blowing smoke from the side of his mouth out of his wound down window he would continue his monologue about the state of the nation or some current affair as we inched our way to the match. “I’ve played there.” he’d say as we passed a county league ground. “I’ve played there.” as we passed an open field. The next patch of grass: “I’ve played there.” And I never doubted him.

On the very rare occasion that he consulted a map he would ask me to reach over to the backseat to the door compartment and pass him his book. This was a well thumbed ancient Road Atlas of Great Britain that Alfred the Great may have been familiar with. The maps contained very few motorways, and Milton Keynes did not even exist! But he would never update. And besides, the main A-roads were still there, so why bother? More often than not on the return journey from an away match with the Supporters team we would make a detour to one or other of his customers – a café or a bakers shop where he delivered meat pies – where he could pick up a free lunch. He didn’t like to open up his wallet unless it was really necessary.

One of the few times he abandoned his car was for a trip we made to the continent for a match against the Paris St Germaine supporters at the French club’s training ground in Versaille. We took the overnight coach from Victoria instead. That was a great experience for me, representing our club on foreign soil, yet Ian had “been there, done that” in Prague and in Italy a few years before.

Watching Dulwich Hamlet’s first team with Ian was also quite interesting. He kicked every ball and appreciated the opposition’s play as much as his own team. I once had a very long conversation with him that lasted an entire half about the myriad Hamlet matches he claimed to have witnessed over many years. He wasn’t very pleased when I easily proved to him that he could not possibly have seen as many games as he was making out. To start with he was playing on Saturday afternoons himself throughout the 70s and 80s, and made his reappearance at Champion Hill only in the mid 90s! Yet he honestly believed he was one of the club’s most loyal supporters. And then the opposition scored and he stood up and applauded. “Ian,” I enquired, “Are you sure you actually support Dulwich at all?”

Ian’s final game for the supporters was only a few months ago. I remember it because we scored a particularly pleasing team goal. As I was giving out congratulations to all and sundry for the passing, the movement, the tricky bit of skill, the excellent finish, I could hear someone hollering out my name: “Jacko! Jacko! Jacko!” I turned to discover Ian standing on the edge of our box stabbing his chest with his index finger gesturing for me to credit him some audible praise for his part in the build-up that I somehow missed. It made me chuckle (it still does). “Well done Ian. Good clearance.”

Ian Wright passed away on Monday 13th June 2011 at work. Having just made a delivery in the City he collapsed and died as he returned to his vehicle. It was an instant death - thrombosis of the heart (blood clot) – and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

His funeral took place on July 11th and his body (along with his Hamlet shirt and Crystal Palace scarf), was buried in the Camberwell Old Cemetery. One particular floral tribute was in the figure of the DHFC club crest, another was a striking pink and blue spray. It was a real honour for me to have been handed one of twelve red roses from Ian’s sister Janice to toss into her brother’s grave. He was a friend of mine. I’m going to miss him.

Jack McInroy, July 2011

Memories of ‘The Hamlet’

By Richard Mann

Looking back over 60 years the memories often appear in black and white, but memories of my winter Saturdays were often pink and blue.

A short walk from the bus stop opposite Ruskin Park took us along Champion Hill to the old ground. Dad bought the folded single sheet pink programme before we rattled through the turnstile and crunched our way along the cinder terraces to join the school caps, flat caps, school blazers, belted raincoats and de-mob overcoats to our favourite spot.

Leaning on rail, halfway up the terrace just short of the halfway line, opposite the players’ tunnel, we waited to be joined by George and Fred, two of mum’s brothers. The stylus on the club record player hissed and clicked its way into the same familiar light orchestral pieces which were only interrupted to announce the team changes. Cheers or groans met the inclusion or omission of a crowd favourite while I scribbled the details in our programme.

The teams in their collared shirts, high waisted shorts, dubbined ankle length boots and thick shin-padded socks entered to cheers from the home supporters, and from the usually small band of away supporters who stood behind the goal at the Champion Hill end. The opposing teams included those who have since joined the Football League like Wimbledon, Barnet and Wycombe Wanderers.
Other than a 6-6 draw with Kingstonian it’s difficult to remember details of particular games, but memories of certain players remain with me, and how the way they played revealed something of their character or personal hinterland.

Photo: From the collection of former DHFC player Ron Eastland 

Memories are not history but recollections fed through the imagination. I think of Dave Darvill, the goalkeeper as Dulwich’s own Bert Trautmann; fair-haired, groomed, meticulous and un-showy, tugging the net, marking out the centre of the goalmouth and tossing his cap into the corner of the goal, to be used when the sun began to sink. At right-back, No.2, the programme announced The Rev. Cowley; athletic, enthusiastic and committed, doing his absolute best to ‘fight the good fight’ in footballing terms. Tom Jover, former Olympic sprinter featured on the left-wing and whose speed could see him arriving ahead of the pass that was intended for him.  John ‘Jack’ Everitt on the right-wing;  square jawed, direct and brave, could have been an infantry man, while Ron Crisp at wing-half or inside-forward was the quiet, reserved calculating timer of the run that saw him arrive just in time to steer a perfect header past the goalkeeper. Captain Ernie Skipper at centre-half brought the same authority and leadership to the role which served him as a school headmaster but Les Brown with that Bobby Charlton quality of, a scorer of great goals rather than a great scorer of goals, was my favourite. Playing with great energy and a smile, an attempt at the outrageous was never far from his mind as he placed the ball for a free-kick 40 yards out. 

Amongst the teams I saw were a German representative side which included Helmut Rahn who scored Germany’s winner in their 3-2 victory over the favourites Hungary in the 1954 World Cup Final. An African team played in bare feet, and with National Service still in force I saw Eddie Clamp of Wolves and Albert Quixall of Sheffield Wednesday, both England internationals, represent the British Army.

Cricket shared the sporting calendar with football and those talented in both games found time to play both. Doug Insole played cricket for Essex and on the wing for Corinthian Casuals and Dulwich often featured Arthur Phebey who also played cricket for Kent. It was Arthur Phebey who brought out my uncle Fred’s full range of coaching skills as he stood, like a batsman taking in the position of the fielders, with his foot on the ball while deciding where his next pass should go. “Get rid of it!” was uncle Fred’s advice.

Fred died last November; he was the youngest of mum’s eight brothers. I went to his funeral and he wore his Dulwich Hamlet tie for his journey to the next world. He was 91.

Original article from HH28 Autumn 2015
Copyright © Richard Mann

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Issue No.28 of the Hamlet Historian will be on sale on Saturday 5th December at Champion Hill.

Our cover stars (seated above Arthur Aitken) are Stanley Smith and David Levy pictured during the 1930/31 season. Both men are featured in separate articles.

Mishi Morath continues his series on the 1977/78 season and Richard watts recalls another promotion season, that of 1991/92. We can also thank Mishi for some interesting photographs of the old Champion Hill ground.

Also on Saturday a large group of Old Boys will be returning to the club at the initiative of Kimm Connett, who played for Dulwich Hamlet in the 1970s and 80s. Kimm will be launching the DHFC Former Players Association.

So get down to the ground on Saturday, pick up the latest HH and chat with some heroes of yesteryear.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Guns, Grenades and Goals.

A nice piece on our recently published book appeared in this week's Southwark News.

Titled 'Guns, Grenades and Goals', local journalist Joey Millar highlights a few of the characters from Roger Deason's "When Shall Their Glory Fade?"

This issue of the Southwark News is available in the shops until the evening of Wednesday 2nd December.

Copies of the book can be obtained on Dulwich Hamlet matchdays at Champion Hill for £3.00.

Thanks again to Mishi Morath for providing a review of Roger's book on the official DHFC website.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

We Will Remember Them

On Saturday I had the great privilege of laying a wreath at the War Memorial at the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club on behalf of the staff and readers of the Hamlet Historian magazine and website.

To commemorate the lives of the 22 Dulwich Hamlet players who lost their lives in the First World War, we have produced a little book "When Shall Their Glory Fade?" Our good friend Roger Deason, tells the story of each one of these men that paid the ultimate sacrifice. The book also includes a number of photographic portraits. It is currently available at £3.00, and will be on sale at Champion Hill on matchdays.

Photo by Liam Hickey

Other wreaths were laid on behalf of the club, the owners Hadley Property Group, the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Trust and the British Legion.

Many thanks to Mishi Morath for arranging this.

More at the official DHFC website.

Jack McInroy

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

"When Shall Their Glory Fade?"

A new booklet by our friend Roger Deason, dedicated to the 22 Dulwich Hamlet men who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, has been produced under the banner of Hamlet Historian. "When Shall Their Glory Fade?" will be available priced £3.00 at Champion Hill from Saturday 7th November 2015.

Over a hundred members from the football and cricket clubs joined the forces and many of them received decorations of valour. Some were to return to their civilian lives maimed, having lost an eye or a limb, and some were emotionally scarred forever. A handful continued their footballing careers with the club well into the 1920s.

Roger Deason is a long time contributor to the Hamlet Historian magazine. His painstaking research, attention to detail and immense pride in his subject, has added flesh on the bone to the names of the men inscribed on the bronze War Memorial at Champion Hill.

The Second World War claimed the lives of four more players: Eric Pierce, Ron Ebsworth, Bill Parr and Reg Anderson.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

                             Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

The Hamlet Historian, initiated by Mishi D. Morath in 1998, is an occasional magazine for those interested in the history of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. It is our great privilege to reprint Roger Deason’s scholarly work. His original article first appeared in Issue 14 of the Hamlet Historian in November 2005. It has been updated to include new found information.

Profits from the book will go towards the Inter City 125 Fund.

Jack McInroy, Editor Hamlet Historian, November 2015.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Emeka Nwajiobi

Transformed from chemistry student to English football’s top flight via Dulwich Hamlet in just one month! Blink and you missed it.

Celebrating Black History Month with another former Hamlet man.

The 24 year old Emeka Nwajiobi played only four times for Dulwich Hamlet and became an instant sensation. Three goals in his first two games – Barking (1) and Bishop’s Stortford (2) – brought the scouts to Champion Hill in November 1983. And then in came David Pleat’s Luton Town with a £10,000 offer the club could not refuse, and he was gone.

Hamlet manager Eddie Presland, who signed Nwajiobi for Dulwich, described the striker as, “Certainly the best I have ever seen at our level. A brilliant future is in store for this so talented forward.” John Lawrence, our revered press secretary, said, “Meka displayed an outstanding ability rarely seen in Isthmian League football.” Just before his brief stint with the club he was working part-time in a high street chemist and completing a degree in Pharmacy, but his ambition was to become a professional footballer.

Born in Anambra, Nigeria in 1959, he had a quite a distressful childhood. As an eleven year old his family escaped civil war for Britain during the Biafran conflict. Here he cultivated his game and as a sixteen year old earned the first of five caps for England Under 18s.

Nwajiobi made the first of his 87 Luton appearances on a cold January evening against Nottingham Forest. Brian Clough’s side won the match 3-2, but the Nigerian chemist crowned another debut with a goal.

His time at Luton Town coincided with the club’s best period in their history. David Pleat masterminded promotion to Division One in 1981 and before the decade was out Luton had finished in the top ten on three occasions and featured in a Wembley final. Pleat should be applauded for giving so many black players an opportunity in the game when racism was still rife and a huge blot on the football landscape. However, when questioned how racist taunts affected him, Nwajiobi replied: "They don't bother me as I realise that most of them are done just to get you riled. White players have things said about them too, and although the comments are different, they are really the same sort of insults. It's no big deal anymore."

Talking of blots, at the same time hooliganism was also prevalent, and Nwajiobi was a member of the Luton side which took part in the tarnished FA Cup tie against Millwall. It was dubbed the Battle of Kenilworth Road, when disgraceful crowd scenes took place before, during and after the match with several pitch invasions.

Nwajiobi’s career was cut short through injury in 1988, but not before he received a Nigeria call-up for a World Cup qualifier against Tunisia in 1985.

Not long after Emeka Nwajiobi left Dulwich his brother Ileanyi joined the club. He also scored on his debut, but Ileanyi was to play just one more game that season. He did however, return three years later for a further 11 appearances in 1986/87. This time both forename and surname were too much for Eddie Presland, who decided that “His name is practically unpronounceable and we have decided to call him Nigel.” A name he appears to be stuck with for life!

Jack McInroy, October 2015

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Dulwich Hamlet Celebrate Black History Month

Gavin Rose opens the BHM exhibition (Photo: Duncan Palmer)

A couple of images from the Dulwich Hamlet Celebrate Black History Month exhibition.

 Nigerian international and Hamlet wizard Joseph Odegbami.

A street in Cairo, Egypt. Hussein Hegazi was Dulwich Hamlet's first ever African player.

On Saturday 3 October 2015 an audio recording was made of the unveiling of the Dulwich Hamlet Celebrate Black History Month Exhibition.

It can be found about nine minutes into the excellent Forward The Hamlet podcast.

Click HERE for another image (pdf file) from the exhibition, which is being held in the bar at Champion Hill until the end of October.

Many thanks to Gavin Rose the Hamlet's longest serving manager who took the time to do the honours, Mishi Morath, the DHFC Supporters Trust and the Football Committee.

Jack McInroy

Friday, 2 October 2015

Black History Month Exhibition 2015

Dulwich Hamlet FC celebrates Black History Month with an exhibition in the clubhouse at Champion Hill. 

The Hamlet Historian has curated and designed the exhibition, which has been jointly funded by the Dulwich Hamlet FC Football Committee and the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust. We have also valued the support of the Forward the Hamlet podcast. 

Gavin Rose, the club’s longest serving manager and first black manager, will open the exhibition at 1:00pm on Saturday 3rd October.  

The match against VCD Athletic that follows has been designated a ‘Pay What You Like’ match. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Alan Simpson

Best known for Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe & Son, Galton and Simpson are arguably the greatest comedy writing duo of the twentieth century. The aged Alan Simpson, is also the President of Hampton and Richmond Borough Football Club. Dulwich Hamlet beat them in the FA Cup today and have a further two encounters in the Ryman Premier League in the next six weeks.

Alan Simpson, Tony Hancock and Ray Galton.

I spotted Mr Simpson at half time and had a very brief chat with him. I read somewhere that he played for Dulwich Hamlet after the war, and I asked him if this was the case. Sort of, it was the Hamlet’s Junior team, the under 18s, that he turned out for. And it was only actually one match. “It was Boxing Day morning 1946.” He told me. “We lost the game 8-3 and I was in goal.” His services were not required after that.

Perhaps it was for the best. Whilst recovering from tuberculosis in a Surrey sanatorium a few months later, he met Ray Galton, another inmate at the hospital, and the pair hit it off instantly. The staff even allowed them to perform some of their early comedy ideas on the hospital radio station. And thus began a lengthy writing partnership that brought them great acclaim.

At sixteen I was studying my CSEs at Peckham Manor School. Among our English reading material – Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck, etc., – was Galton and Simpson’s Steptoe & Son television scripts. Being something of a mimic, I was always asked by our teacher to read aloud one of the parts during our English lessons. I could ‘do’ both characters, Harold and his ‘dirty old man’ Albert. One time I was called upon to read both parts.

Around the same time I had a number of friends who were hooked on Tony Hancock. We used to sit in cars and rooms laughing our heads off, and pass around cassettes and LPs of these famous radio and television shows from the fifties starring the man himself alongside Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Bill Kerr. Even today, forty years later, we still find ourselves quoting lines from Hancock’s Half Hour.

I thanked Mr Simpson for giving us Hancock and Steptoe. The latter is still one of my favourite ever television comedies. He seemed to genuinely appreciate the thanks and patted me on the shoulder. Then I left him to himself to enjoy the match. It was end to end stuff, but Dulwich scraped a victory at the death, an Ashley Carew converted penalty after which he picked up the ball and blasted it into the crowd, and straight into a woman’s face! “Oh dear!” I thought. Words echoing what Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote for Tony Hancock in the SundayAfternoon at Home episode: “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh, dear me.”

Jack McInroy, 12 September 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

Congratulations to Altona 93

Presenting the trophy to the Altona 93 captain (with photobomber Jim Virgo)

Deserved winners of the Pa Wilson Memorial Trophy, the Altona 93 team and supporters will be taking their prize back to Hamburg in Germany. If they can get it through Customs that is. The trophy is nine kilograms of solid bronze and granite.

The visit to Champion Hill has been a memorable one for both clubs with friendships strengthened even further, despite Dulwich Hamlet slipping to a 5-3 defeat.

Roll on 2018 for the next fixture between the two clubs who will celebrate 125 years of history, both being founded in 1893. The Dulwich Hamlet first team are set to travel to Hamburg for the first time since 1925, when the legendary Edgar Kail scored a hat trick for the South London side whilst his counterpart Adolf Jager scored Altona's consolation goal in the 4-1 home defeat.

The Inter City 125 fund is raising money to pay for the club's travel to Germany in three year's time. Donations to the fund can be made on match days at Champion Hill.

Check out Andy Nunn's photograph album of the game here 
and David Bauckham's brilliant photo diary here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Pa Wilson Memorial Trophy

This weekend Champion Hill stages the long awaited match between Dulwich Hamlet and Altona 93. A Hamlet side that included the legendary Edgar Kail made the original trip to Germany way back in 1925. Kail scored a hat-trick in the 4-1 win. Saturday evening sees the return fixture!

The two clubs have become ‘twinned’ in recent years following a chance meeting between groundhopper Mishi Morath and fanzine editor Jan Stover at the Adolf Jäger stadium.

The Hamlet Historian has designed and commissioned a handsome prize that the two teams will compete for. The Pa Wilson Memorial Trophy, finely crafted by lifelong Dulwich supporter James Virgo, is a chunk of solid bronze weighing in at nine kilos.

The winning team will get to keep the trophy, named in honour of Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson, founder of the South London Club.

Later in the year the Hamlet Historian will present a £1000 cheque to the Intercity 125 fund. This will go towards getting the Dulwich Hamlet team to Hamburg in 2018 for the celebratory one hundred and twenty fifth anniversaries of both clubs.

The reverse of the trophy

Monday, 29 June 2015

Derek Ufton

On one very famous afternoon at The Valley in December 1957, with just an hour gone, Charlton Athletic found themselves 5-1 down to Bill Shankly’s Huddersfield Town. An away win in this Second Division fixture was now on the cards. Centre half and club captain Derek Ufton had been stretchered off with a shoulder injury in the first 15 minutes of the match when there was no score. No substitutes were allowed back then, so Charlton were really under the cosh. Amazingly, however, the ten men fought back and managed to win the thrilling game 7-6. Ufton, who was taken to hospital in Greenwich to receive surgery, recalled that just before the anesthetic he was told his team was now losing 4-1. When he awoke and discovered the final score he refused to believe it. He had taken part in the club’s most memorable match and missed all thirteen goals!

I had a nice chat with Derek Ufton on the telephone last year, a few weeks before his 85th birthday. The former Dulwich Hamlet player from a lifetime ago told me all about the incident at Charlton. He has reeled off that same story countless times over the years to friends, admirers, interviewers, at dinners and get-togethers with Charlton, Kent County Cricket Club, and many other charity organizations he has belonged to. Today he is a Kent Ambassador.

The dislocation of his shoulder, or rather both shoulders was a frustrating injury he continually had to put up with. It happened on twenty separate occasions throughout his sporting life. Thirteen times on one side of his body and seven on the other. These persistent injuries did not affect him mentally, but he once calculated that it cost him about one hundred games from his career. The first time it happened was in an army match following the war while he was doing his national service. The injury reoccurred early in his Charlton career, and the loosening of the joints meant this was something that was not going to go away – especially if one happens to be a robust defender.

Derek Gilbert Ufton was born in Crayford in Kent in 1928, and began to attend the Dartford Grammar School just before the start of World War Two. When all school sports were abandoned he put together a football team with some of his mates and joined a local schoolboys’ league. His hero was goalkeeping legend Sam Bartram of Charlton Athletic, today regarded as one of the club’s greatest players. Little did young Derek know at such a tender age that one day he would be playing alongside Bartram in the Charlton team.

Like Bartram, he donned a pair of gloves and enjoyed nothing better than diving around trying to catch a ball. A cricket ball! In the summer months he took to wicket keeping, and enrolled in the celebrated Alf Gover Cricket School in south west London.  The indoor cricket school was halfway up East Hill, just off the Wandsworth High Street, and players came from halfway round the world to improve their technique. Gover, who was at the tail-end of his career with Surrey during the war period, holds a legendary status in the annals of cricket. His students read like a list of world greats, including India’s Sunil Gavaskar and West Indies’ trio Garry Sobers, Viv Richards and Brian Lara.

An old narrow staircase led to the almost shrine-like gas lit cricket nets. Here groups of teenagers, learning the game, rubbed shoulders with cricketing greats perfecting their own. And amidst the odours of linseed and liniment, and the thud of ball on bat, one would invariably find ‘old Alf’ impeccably kitted out in his England sweater and customary silk cravat: "Bat up, son. One to drive.” his favourite mantra.

One of the teachers at the school was Leslie Todd, who started out in the Dulwich Hamlet junior football team as a left winger in the early 1920s. Later he became a top cricketer for Kent in the 1930s and still turned out occasionally for the Hamlet’s wandering cricket side. Todd took a shine to the youngster and became his mentor and coach, and kindly presented him with his old cricket bag.  “It was a real sturdy thing made of leather. It was a great honour owning that bag.” As the two got to know each other better, and seeing the boy’s skill in both sports, Todd arranged for the seventeen year old to have a trial at Dulwich Hamlet. Derek’s father accompanied him on the journey from his home in Crayford to Champion Hill.

Derek soon made his way into the Hamlet’s ‘A’ side, then the Reserves, before appearing for the First Team late in the year. Although the records I have seen for that time period are quite sparse, Derek is listed as playing in the Boxing Day match, and noted as the scorer of the Hamlet’s solitary goal in a 6-1 defeat at home to Walthamstow Avenue in the New Year.

In his only season at Dulwich – 1945/46 – he not only featured in the various Hamlet teams but was tried in a variety of positions. This was very unsettling for the young man. “It really wasn’t what I was expecting, so after just one season I left the club.” To be fair to the club this was an unusual season to say the least. Players were returning from the services, many having had first hand encounters in combat. Indeed, four of the Hamlet’s popular pre-war players were sadly killed in enemy action. In the true spirit of amateurism – and Dulwich Hamlet were fiercely amateur – when a player was demobbed or on leave he was automatically chosen to fill his favoured position. It was only right that a young buck like Derek Ufton should graciously accept another role on the field, even if it meant he was out of position. Besides, it was a simpler age: “There were not the tactics that we have today. In those days the selection committee would pick the best eleven players and they would just go out and play.”

Although Derek Ufton never represented Dulwich Hamlet at cricket he did once play against them. The match took place at the King’s College Hospital ground on Dog Kennel Hill next door to Champion Hill; a benefit match for his great pal Arthur Phebey who brought along his All Star XI. The two had first met at the end of the season fixture away to Tufnell Park, when Phebey, on leave, was drafted straight into the Hamlet side. Like Ufton, Phebey was a dab hand at both cricket and football and when the pair of them played for Kent as wicket keeper and opening batsman respectively, they developed a lifelong friendship. Derek remembered the problems of the crossover between amateur and professional sports when it came to payments. “Dulwich told Arthur that if he became a professional with Kent he would not be received back at Dulwich as an amateur footballer. He will never play for Dulwich Hamlet again.” In 1962 things changed in the cricket world and the ‘gentlemen’ all became ‘players’. “Because we were professional cricketers and played Friday, Saturday and Monday, we would play golf on Sunday but we were not allowed in the clubhouse because we were professionals.”

After his own stint in the army through national conscription, Derek signed professionally with Charlton Athletic, and often played before packed crowds of 70,000. He remained with the club throughout the 1950s and for several years was captain. Many would have retired from the sport had they had a similar recurring injury like Derek’s, but he soldiered on despite his affliction. “You only get about fifteen years in a sport. You may finish at 35 if you’re lucky.” Such was his resolution, that in 1953 he reached the pinnacle of his career with an England call up against the Rest of Europe at Wembley Stadium. Lining up with such giants as Billy Wright, Stan Mortenson, Nat Lofthouse and Stanley Matthews, the game ended in a 4-4 draw with Alf Ramsey converting a late penalty to spare England’s blushes.
Derek Ufton standing third from left, 
next to Alf Ramsay and behind Stanley Matthews.
Between 1949 and1962 Derek also played 148 first class matches for Kent County Cricket Club. In those thirteen seasons the left hander scored 3,915 runs, took 269 catches and recorded 44 stumpings.
Following his playing career at The Valley he took the helm at Tooting and Mitcham United in the Isthmian League for three seasons. This tenure at Tooting reacquainted him with Dulwich Hamlet, in the same division. Dulwich were going through a very lean spell that lasted several years, and Derek’s side had the upper hand, winning all six league encounters they were involved in. During that period the Terrors were also responsible for knocking the Hamlet out of the FA Cup in the qualifying rounds two years running. He was particularly impressed with Tooting’s ground at Sandy Lane, and in the whole non-league scene in general. “Some non-league clubs could teach the league clubs a thing or two.” Alan Knott, who later made his name as the England wicket keeper in the 1970s, was invited by Derek to play for Tooting. “After a few games, however, we decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea. We were both concerned that he might pick up an injury, and it just wasn’t worth it.”

He then joined Plymouth Argyle as head coach under Malcolm Allison. When Alison moved on to Manchester City, Ufton took his place as Argyle manager. Despite gaining popularity in his first season at Plymouth the club failed to progress, and went on to plummet in the following seasons. He was eventually sacked after finishing rock bottom of Division 2. This relegation blow saw him quit coaching altogether, and he never managed again.

In later years he returned to Kent CC, becoming President in 2001. “It allows me access to the Holy of Holies.” In 1984 he also returned to Charlton Athletic and played a key role in their return to The Valley in 1992. This followed several years in the wilderness playing their home games at Selhurst Park and Upton Park. The historic homecoming was an emotional day for Derek, former player and now director of the CAFC limited company, and every time he faced an interviewer he broke into tears.

Although he only played a handful of matches for Dulwich in that immediate post war season, as far as I am aware Derek Ufton is not a member of Dulwich Hamlet’s Vice Presidents’ Club. He should be. He would be a great addition to a long list of former players that attend the odd game or two a season at Champion Hill. Now an octogenarian, he has certainly contributed a tremendous amount to sport in the south east, especially in Kent. A sporting life that goes back almost seventy years when he started out as a teenager for Dulwich Hamlet. 


I was slightly taken aback when the announcer mentioned that one of the day’s guests was Derek Ufton. He was here as part of the Vice Presidents Club who were sponsoring the match with VCD Athletic. As a boy Derek’s local club was VCD but he found himself playing for Dulwich Hamlet for a short time following the war.

From my position behind the dugout I picked him out. I had in my head a picture card portrait of Derek in his playing days, and although now very aged it wasn’t difficult to spot him.

I waited for him to finish his half time cup of tea and biscuit and I went up to introduce myself. He was pleased to see me. He had recentlysent me a lovely letter, via the club thanking me for the article on him in HH25. He was extremely grateful.

“Hello, Derek, I’m Jack from the Hamlet Historian.” I said. “Jack McInroy.” he said. “You are the person I wanted to meet today. I didn’t want to leave here without seeing you and thanking you for your article.” It then dawned on me that my request that he be invited along to Champion Hill for his first visit in many decades had come to fruition. Bob ‘the Cat’ Bevan bringing him along. It was quite a thrill that our little magazine was responsible.

We didn’t chat for long. A week earlier he had spent the day with his old friend Bobby Charlton, and soon after this game Derek would be rubbing shoulders with Hamlet supremo Gavin Rose. He recalled playing against the legendary Duncan Edwards, who Bob the Cat, at his side, had seen play at the old Hamlet ground for the British Army against the French Army in 1956. Up front for the French with two of their goals in a 3-1 win – Just Fontaine, who two years later scored a record thirteen goals in the World Cup. You see, all the legends make a visit to Champion Hill.

Original article from HH25 Spring 2014
Copyright © Jack McInroy

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Crossing the Borderline

In recent years the game that has left the bitterest taste in the mouth of all Dulwich Hamlet fans is the Leatherhead debacle in our Ryman Division One South championship winning season.

With minutes remaining and Dulwich two goals up the referee decided to abandon the match. A perimeter wall collapsed whilst Hamlet fans were celebrating the second goal sending a dozen or so people onto a pile of rubble. It was fortunate no-one was seriously hurt. Only moments earlier Danny Carr was on the other side of the wall hugging the fans. I dread to think what injuries he would have incurred had he been under that lot. Two broken legs at least.

Photo: Neil Hood

Within minutes the rubble was cleared from pitch-side by Hamlet fans alone, with no help from the stewards or home supporters. Not that any of it was on or even close to the pitch. However, a few of the Leatherhead players persisted that the game be abandoned for health and safety reasons. And to everyone’s amazement they were successful in their petition. The referee brought the game to a sudden conclusion without, it seemed, giving a second thought. Instead of taking the players off for 15 minutes whilst any imaginary objects could be removed, the match was over!

It was a totally unjust decision by the referee, and Hamlet supporters and players were right to feel aggrieved.  What irked the Hamlet fans even more was when one of the Leatherhead players later tweeted that he was “Buzzing. Feels like a win.” Really!? And to make matters worse it was even suggested that the collapse of the wall was the fault of the away supporters! Really!?

Despite written appeals to the Ryman League secretary the game was ordered to be replayed. Needless to say Dulwich lost the rematch, and though a dent was put into their championship hopes, the title was secured on a nervy last day of the season at Champion Hill.

Now rewind a century or so, and spare a thought for the staff and supporters from 1905/06.

Holders of the Surrey Senior Cup, Dulwich Hamlet began the season with a bit of a team shake up. This was mainly due to the Brothers Buck joining the Champion Hill side. They were a welcome addition and brought with them much experience. Things went extremely well and three cup finals were eventually reached.

On the way to the Surrey Final Dulwich disposed of Weybridge, the Guards Depot, and Guildford in the semi-final replay after the original tie was drawn. They now had to face Croydon in the final. Now defunct, this club is no relation to the Croydon FC of today. Croydon’s home ground was in Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath. The clubs had already faced each other as they competed in the same division of the Southern Suburban League.

The final took place on Easter Monday, on the Hamlet’s return from the club’s tour to the Kent seaside. Over the weekend Margate and Ramsgate St George were played on successive days, and this was now the third game of the Bank Holiday. A crowd of 3,500 came to the County Town of Guildford to see the final played out on a neutral ground.  The game ended goalless.

A fourth game in 5 days took place the following evening when the Hamlet took on Guildford in the final of the Surrey Charity Shield. This time Croydon’s pitch was used, and the Hamlet easily overcame their opponents 5-0. The first piece of silverware was secured.

As well as reaching the final of the Surrey Senior Cup, Dulwich, along with New Crusaders, were also finalists of the London Senior Cup.  This had been contested a couple of weeks earlier, but again a draw had taken place, Harry Buck scoring both Dulwich goals at the Herne Hill Track (today’s Velodrome).  The crowd was an enormous 11,000, one of the largest gates the capital’s senior amateur competition had registered. Never had so much money been taken – a whopping £271. The replay eventually took place at Herne Hill on Saturday 28 April with New Crusaders triumphing 3-1.
The Surrey Cup replay was scheduled for the Crystal Palace stadium in Sydenham as a postscript to the FA Cup Final. One can see the thinking behind this: the opportunity to get the largest crowd imaginable and therefore bigger gate receipts; the close proximity to both finalists and their sets of supporters. But there were some detractors who complained that, as the Surrey Football Association derived its support from Surrey clubs, it was only in fairness to fans from all over the county that the replayed final should have been more central, regardless to who the finalists were.

But in reality, if a football supporter is expected to come up to London from Tyneside or Merseyside, as was the case that year, to see their team in the FA Cup Final, what is the big deal in getting from Farnham or Haslemere to Sydenham?


Crystal Palace, back then was a place of continuous entertainment. I suppose today we would describe it as a Theme Park. As well as the multitude of exhibitions and wonders within and without, the beautiful grounds and amazing views, one could also witness the ascent of a hot air balloon or check out the racist-tinged ‘objects of curiosity for the amusement of all’ that were the ‘Pygmies from the darkest forests of Central Africa.’ All the way from the Congo came four men and two women, only three feet or so in height, to be gazed upon by all. “Everyone should see these little people before they leave England.” ran the advertisement.  And in just over two years about a million did.

In the grounds stood the equally famous stadium, which for some years had been used for the FA Cup Final. The present season had also begun with a brand new football team to English football – Crystal Palace FC, the glaziers, who now played their home matches there.

75,000 turned up to watch the FA Cup Final between Newcastle United and Everton. The rail companies laid on a hundred and fifty special trains for the occasion. The numbers were down on the previous year, and it was the usual damp squib, neither team enjoying their best form. One goal decided the encounter and Everton lifted the cup. The goalscorer Sandy Young, was regarded as one of the great forwards of the day. But he was mentally unstable and some years later shot dead his own brother while he was milking a cow! He then made a botched attempt on his own life before serving time in prison for manslaughter.

At the conclusion the vast hordes made their way back to Euston for the north, or stopped off for further celebrations in central London.

The remainder stayed at the Crystal Palace, relocating just a stone’s throw, to the Cycle Track next door (see picture), where in the shadow of the old glass edifice, a crowd of 18,000 witnessed the two amateur teams battle it out for the Surrey Senior Cup. By the time of the 5:30pm kick off the ground was filled to overflowing. A human barrier formed right up to the touchline, and it was inevitable that some enthusiasts would encroach onto the field of play during the match.

Both Croydon and Dulwich Hamlet fielded unchanged teams. The Hamlet lined up thus:

Smith    Knight     Murphy    Wight    Beales
Rose    Buck    Buck    Buck    Russell

Six of the Dulwich players were from the previous year’s final.

For Croydon:
Smith    Dalton   Edgington   Clements   Davis
Hudd   Thornton   Colpus   Porter   Clegg

The two teams could not have been more contrasted. Croydon played a kick and rush game whilst Dulwich excelled in keeping the ball down. The Bucks were on good form. Fred Buck scored the first – an assist from young Albert Russell. Sid Buck then dashed onto Tom Rose’s through ball for the second. Harry Buck got the third. With the trophy as good as won, Dulwich then decided to slow down the pace, with an eye, perhaps, on the following week’s London Senior Cup Final Replay.  
And so the Surrey trophy was retained, which the club would be presented with at an awards ceremony at the season’s close. Things were looking good. The players would have been especially pleased when they were given (or more likely purchased) the team photographs, quickly printed off into postcards. Tom Rose wrote a brief message on the reverse of one, affixed a stamp and addressed it to a friend in Peterborough. He popped it into a pillar box in Walworth. It read: “Glad to say we won at the Palace on Sat’y. Tom.”

The cycle track at Crystal Palace c1895

Immediately after the final whistle the Croydon officials began to make a petty exhibition of themselves, and let it be known to Pa Wilson and George Wheeler (Dulwich Hamlet), and the dignitaries from the County Association that they would be making a formal complaint to the Surrey FA about the conditions during the match. Admittedly, the crowds were far too close to the pitch, but it was the same for both teams. Most people could see that these were highly unusual circumstances. Few, if any of the twenty two players, had entertained such numbers before. And besides, the sole adjudicator, the referee, had seen fit to allow play to continue for the ninety minutes. One feels that had Dulwich lost in the same manner they would have accepted defeat.

Four days later a council meeting of the Surrey County Football Association took place at the Surrey County Cricket Club headquarters at Kennington Oval. Their chief business was to discuss Croydon’s complaint at Dulwich Hamlet. “During the progress of the match the crowd encroached upon the field of play.” Amazingly the protest was sustained, and the final was ordered to be replayed yet again on the last day of the season, Monday 30 April 1906, at Herne Hill. For everybody connected with Dulwich Hamlet Football Club the decision left a nasty taste in the mouth.

So infuriated was Mr Wheeler when his club was informed the following morning, that he decided not to express publicly what he really thought of the decision. He denounced the ordering of another match, and could not agree with the opinion of the Surrey FA and never would. The relationship was well and truly soured. To show their great indignation the club returned the 80 tickets they were allocated for the post-match Smoking Concert at a plush Holborn hotel, where the presentation of the Cup and medals was to take place in a few days time.

What began as a bad day for the club got progressively worse as they then had to withdraw from their remaining fixtures with the Southern Suburban League. Some of the blame must be laid at Dulwich’s door in allowing the fixtures to pile up in the first place. The first team had partaken in nine friendlies during the actual season! Pa Wilson’s vested interest in both the club he founded and the league they played in – in which he was founder and President – probably influenced the decision. It was a matter of honour.  Had it been another member club in the same situation maybe the season would have been extended for them.

The whole unraveling debacle was so frustrating. Pa Wilson even complained in a daily newspaper, but his protestations were to no avail. When it came to the replay of the London Senior Cup Final at Herne Hill on the Saturday the stuffing was already knocked out of the Hamlet team. The New Crusaders, taking advantage of the Hamlet’s wrong frame of mind, won the match 3-1. There was now just one more chance to win a trophy to keep the Surrey Charity Shield company. A determination to do better on Monday, and show these people, was now in the forefront of everyone’s mind. 
Herne Hill Velodrome in 2010

On the very last day of the season the Dulwich side was back at Herne Hill for the second time in three days. I have no record of the line-up for the second replay for the Surrey Senior Cup. Dulwich won the final tie 2-1. Come the final whistle "a remarkable demonstration took place in front of the pavilion. Doddy Wight, the Hamlet captain made a rousing speech before the dignitaries, some of whom had previously received much hostile criticism when attending the London Final two days earlier at the same venue. Wight's address was followed by another from George Wheeler the club secretary. Mr Glanville of the Surrey Association then made a futile response which was greeted by wagging fingers, shaking heads and a few choice words.

Having boycotted the awards banquet we can only assume they had their own end of season celebrations at the Grove Tavern or another local hotel.

However, Pa Wilson had a change of mind, and as the lone representative from the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, he attended the annual smoking concert /awards ceremony in Holborn. 


The chairman rose and made his speech, in the which he congratulated Dulwich on their very brilliant success. It also gave him great pleasure to see Mr Lorraine Wilson sitting among them to receive the trophies so very deservedly earned. Wilson accepted the Senior Cup and the winners’ medals on behalf of the players. He then remarked that he was sorry his men were not present as was the usual custom. He had “no desire to make a breach of the peace”, but those present “could not understand the amount of indignation there was amongst the people of Dulwich. I do not want to accentuate the feeling that there is in this matter, but I do want you to understand a little of the injustice that we feel has been done to us.”

On reaching a semi-final a club might rightly think two more games to go before we can win the trophy. Dulwich Hamlet had won the cup, but in order to do so they had to play five games from the semi-final stage! On two of those occasions Guildford had been the antagonists, and there seemed to be a certain amount of snobbery from the County Town club. One of Pa Wilson’s sayings was, “Down with snobs.” This year was now the fourth time the Cup had gone to what some Surrey people called a border club. This riled Pa Wilson. It suggested clubs like Dulwich were only just acceptable, neither one thing nor the other. He “hoped they would blot those words out of their hearts. Might I ask the Council to consider it. Nothing in South London gives more offence than the words ‘border club.’ The Dulwich Hamlet team consists of seven youths who were born in Surrey while the others lived close to the ground. If ours is not a Surrey club I want to know what is!” He concluded, “Our having won this Cup does not wipe out the injustice we feel.”

Pa Wilson had said what he felt he had to say. He had got it all off his chest, and it wasn’t to everybody’s liking. During his speech there was a mixture of cheers and hissing. As the din died down after he took his seat the chairman declared that this was not the place to make a reply. It was meant to be an evening of enjoyment, not football politics.

The Croydon players then came up to the stage to pick up their runners-up medals. But a Dulwich Hamlet player was not to be found. Not even Sidney Buck who was to receive his Surrey badge. Instead Pa Wilson collected the Surrey Senior Cup, the Surrey Charity Shield and the players’ medals on behalf of his beloved club.

One contemporary reporter wrote, “The action of the County Association is to be deplored. Although one likes to be loyal to the County Association, it does seem as though Dulwich Hamlet have a real grievance against Surrey FA in regard to their replay with Croydon. On collateral form the Hamlet are a very long way ahead of the Croydon club and everyone will rejoice that they have bagged the Senior Cup.” He went on, “The protest of the Hamlet players in absenting themselves from the Surrey Smoker on Monday evening was a dignified and striking one, and its effect will not be lost upon the Association executive. It was a regrettable feature in an otherwise pleasant evening, and it can only be hoped that the bad feeling engendered by the Association’s action will quickly disappear and that the Hamlet club, which has done so much, not only for Surrey football, but charity in the county, will receive more generous treatment another season.”

As spokesman for Dulwich Hamlet Pa Wilson had taken the opportunity to air the club’s grievances before the audience of several hundred. Perhaps few could have done so with such dignity. But having made the protest it was now time to look forward and seek to regain some mutual respect. In time Dulwich Hamlet became one of Surrey County’s flagship clubs. The club, in turn, took great pride in its historic link, and incorporated the Surrey coat of arms into the Dulwich Hamlet crest. For many years the Hamlet was one of the greatest amateur clubs in the land. Indeed, the Hamlet went on to win the Surrey Senior Cup a record sixteen times – and they haven’t played in the competition for years.

Original article from HH27 Spring 2015
Copyright © Jack McInroy