Saturday, 17 December 2016



“One of the best known of our supporters, who has fanatically followed the club for over 40 years is ‘Bronco’.”                                
DHFC matchday programme 27 October 1962

of the rabble of diehards that have assembled behind the goal over the years one of the most eccentric was a senior citizen who always wore a white cap and a trench coat and possessed a foghorn of a voice. This was utilised for constant verbal abuse of the referee, and on occasion some very bad behaviour. The old man could easily strike fear into any would-be-mugger as he returned home from the game in the dark through the streets of London wielding his unfurled brolly. But this was way back in the eighties, and on the one hand I regarded him as quite a sad character and yet on the other, quite an amusing one. Still, I tended to give him a bit of a wide berth.

And then he disappeared from the scene. But he was always fondly remembered and almost immortalised by fans and clubmen alike.

And then about ten years down the line, by a remarkable coincidence I met Bronco in a nursing home in Barry Road. I had never spoken to him before but when introduced he greeted me with a hearty handshake. He had even read a copy of my 1919/20 booklet! I spent an hour or so with him and asked if I could come back on another occasion. “Of course.” I later discovered that like many old people he can be very moody. Catch him on a good day and you were in for a treat – he would happily recall his past experiences and Dulwich Hamlet’s glory days. Catch him on a bad day, however, and you were coldly welcomed by a cantankerous old man and sent on your way. I also discovered that his memory (regarding his own deeds and misdeeds) was somewhat faulty.

orn 111 years ago in September 1905 ‘Bronco’ Munro was raised at 140 Rosemary Road, Peckham, round the back of Samuel Jones & Co. with its huge Camberwell Beauty butterfly mosaic in Southampton Way. He spent his schooldays at Oliver Goldsmiths – Snotty Oliver's, as his mother called it. A woman with a sense of humour, she gave her son the strikingly odd name of Lyhoneal, pronounced Lionel. Boy Named Sue mentality perhaps, but it certainly turned young Lyhoneal into a tough character, one that you wouldn’t mess with in a hurry. His father wasn't much use – a complete drunkard. Bronco claimed this put him off drink altogether, and he remained a teetotaller all his life. On leaving school at 14 he went to work for a while at the Peak Freens biscuit factory in Bermondsey. This was directly after the First World War and around the time Bronco began his love affair with Dulwich Hamlet. He witnessed the greatest days in the club’s history – the inter-war period – and attended the last three of the Hamlet’s four successful Amateur Cup Finals. He described himself as a “glutton for football.” Dulwich Hamlet being the main course. He faithfully followed the Hamlet travelling on foot to most away matches – Ilford, Leyton, Wimbledon and the like. On the odd occasion he would get the coach back, yet he actually preferred to walk. Bronco eventually settled into a job as a bookie’s runner, working for the same boss for 37 years. He was often seen bare chested in summer months, wearing his trademark white cap, marching through the borough of Camberwell, collecting bets in the streets and dodging the local bobbies. He supplemented his income with some professional boxing matches.

The late Leslie Green, Hamlet striker from the 1940s and 50s, had very fond memories of Bronco. “He was dedicated to amateur sport and a brisk walker, he thought nothing of taking shank’s pony miles to watch a Sunday team in the parks, and could often be seen at Manor Place Baths in Walworth enjoying a bout of boxing. Bronco loved the company of sportsmen, and enjoyed mixing with them and talking about them. He knew the whereabouts of most amateur football players, but with pink and blue blood running in his veins, he preferred the Hamlet players, who remained loyal to the same club.”

One midweek afternoon Les Green was playing at Chiswick for the Civil Service XI against the RAF when he heard a familiar voice from the terraces. There in the stand amidst all sorts of marshals and officers was Bronco with his familiar white cap and umbrella. As the match progressed Bronco was engaged in several exchanges with Les. “What are you doing here, Bronco?” said Les. “Well I was going to see Pat Connett in the FA XI at Portsmouth.” he replied. “But the match was postponed, so I came here.” The other players were asking, “Who is that fellow?”

Les once introduced his parents to Bronco at a representative match. By a happy coincidence they returned to London in the same railway carriage as the Hamlet’s most celebrated fan. When they met up with their son later that day, they said that they had never met a more loyal chap (to Dulwich Hamlet and to amateur football in general) than Bronco. Les Green last saw him many years ago at New Cross. They hadn’t seen each other for ages. He stopped his car, got out and ran across the road to speak to him. After a brief chat, Les put his hand in his pocket and gave Bronco a tenner. “Have a drink on me.” he said. And with a hearty thanks he was briskly on his way, to watch another match –“Peckham Police versus Belvedere Traders!”

In one of my own chats with Bronco I pulled a few names out of the air, distant Hamlet players of the past, men who I’ve only read about. Dick Jonas. “A gentleman.” he replied. Jack Hugo. “A stopper. Tough. Good header of a ball.” Laurie Fishlock. “Great shot. Good cricketer as well.” Leslie Morrish. “Intelligent ball player. Fast winger. Kail made him into a wizard.” He saved the superlatives for Edgar Kail. “Edgar Kail passed what he had on to others. It rubbed off on them. He made them better players. Kail had everything. He was very nice looking to start with. He could control the ball, feint, pass, dribble, and then that quick burst of speed and shoot. He so demoralised the players in the other team.” Bronco stared ahead as if transported back in time, and gesturing with a sweep of his hand, “Just passing the ball.”

But how good was Edgar Kail? “The greatest player any club has ever had. I've never seen a better footballer and I used to watch professional games in the week as well.” I asked if he could name his all-time Dulwich Hamlet XI, he replied, “Kail, Kail, Kail, Kail. I'd have eleven Edgar Kails.”

nd what of Bronco himself? “I was a genuine supporter. None of the clubs had a supporter like me. I used to stand behind the goal and let what was in my mind come out of my mouth. It was frightening, but in a friendly way. I watched Dulwich and wanted ‘em to win. It would be no good standing there like a dumb-bell. I might as well stay in bed. The idea was to put the other players off their game. It was a gadget I had to cause a bit of uneasiness.” Older fans witnessed some of Bronco’s antics first hand, yet he denied it all. “Don't believe everything you hear about me. It's all made up.” he said. What about the story where you climbed on to the pitch and chased the referee? “I've never been on the pitch.” What about when you prodded the ref with your umbrella as he went into the tunnel? “That didn't happen.”

I offered Bronco an old photograph circa 1900 of some children walking down Southampton Way where he grew up. He studied it for a while and I suggested pinning it on his wall. “What do I want it for? It's no good to me, you keep it.” He sat in his easy chair, only a television for company. “You don't need to go out tonight,” he told me. “Newcastle are playing in Europe. You must watch it. BBC1 seven o'clock.” He repeated the time and channel over and over just in case I didn't hear, before raving about Newcastle’s skilful Columbian, Faustino Asprilla. At 91 years old and housebound, Bronco Munro continued his gluttony for the beautiful game that is football. I never saw Bronco again after that, but the final whistle did not blow on his life until he reached the grand old age of 100.

Jack McInroy

 ©  Original article from HH30 Winter 2016.
Adapted from ‘The Horse’s Mouth’ article from Champion Hill Street Blues 52, May 1997.


  1. wow
    i rememeber him as a kid used to frighten me a little if im honest ha
    WHAT a character his like will never be seen again

  2. wow
    i rememeber him as a kid used to frighten me a little if im honest ha
    WHAT a character his like will never be seen again