Saturday, 1 January 2022

Farewell Ken ‘Zico’ Deacon (1957-2021)

Former Dulwich Hamlet defender Ken Deacon has sadly passed away at the age of 64. His funeral takes place in Islington on 20 January 2022.

Ken came off the substitutes’ bench to make his Dulwich Hamlet debut on 21 November 1987, against Harrow Borough in an FA Trophy match. It was the first of only two appearances that season. His next first team game did not take place until the opening match of the 1989/90 season, away to Redbridge Forest in the Isthmian League Premier Division. It was in this game that Ken scored the first of his three Hamlet goals and earned him his nickname.

That goal, the last kick of the game, proved to be a consolation in a 2-1 defeat. But it was the distance from goal and the accuracy of the volley – a spectacular twenty yarder which flew into the top corner of the net – that immediately saw Ken labelled Zico by the Dulwich Rabble behind the goal. Zico, you may remember, was the brilliant Brazilian footballer of the time and still regarded as one of the greatest of all time.

Despite spending the best part of three seasons in the reserves Ken made a total of 22 first team appearances for Dulwich. That final year was not a great one for the Hamlet who were relegated to the First Division in May 1990. Nevertheless, one of Ken’s most memorable matches was the FA Cup 4th qualifying round replay at Merthyr Tydfil. The Hamlet players and officials travelled to Wales on the team coach with a dozen or so supporters filling the empty seats, Merthyr won the tie 4-2 but the magic of the cup made it a night to remember forever.

Ken had actually had an earlier spell with the Hamlet in 1979/80 but did not get past the second string. He once said, “There was no chance of playing in the first team as they had such a good side, even though two of the reserves went on to play professional football, Carlton Fairweatherwith Wimbledon and Steve Galloway with Crystal Palace.”

Lee Akers, sometimes teammate sometimes opponent, first met Ken in the early eighties, playing for Sunday League team Leabridge. It was in the days when many senior non-league players having played in the Isthmian League also played on the following day. “It was mad,” said Lee, “You could have a harder game on Sunday than you did on the Saturday!” The pair of them played at Carshalton Athletic and later joined up at Dulwich.  “Kenny was one of life’s nice guys, and could play at full back or midfield, but mainly as full back. A hardworking player who always battled for the full ninety minutes.”

Ray Purvis, Ken’s captain at Dulwich Hamlet remembered him as “A skilful player who could play anywhere he was asked, whether on the wing or even up front. It was a difficult period in the club’s history under Eddie Presland, yet Ken gave his all every time. It was a pleasure to have known him.”

In recent years Ken had to undergo dialysis treatment for kidney failure, but went on to have a successful transplant. After receiving a new kidney and experiencing much better health he travelled round America with his family.

Neither did his plight stop him continuing in his job as a London Taxi driver or maintaining his fitness by running in the park and organising football matches at Hampstead Heath on Fridays. Even in his sixties he was admired by the youngsters for being such a good player.

Tragically however, during his usual jog through Hampstead Heath on 29 November 2021 Ken Deacon suffered a fatal heart attack. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Jack McInroy

My thanks to Richard Watts, Shaun Dooley, Ray Purvis and Lee Akers for help in completing this article.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

The Oldest Living Dulwich Hamlet Player is 100


Happy 100th birthday to former Dulwich Hamlet player Richard Boyd who wore the pink and blue in 1940..

Click the link above to read Richard's life story or watch the YouTube video below to see Richard speak of his wartime memories.

Monday, 2 August 2021

Eddie Presland, RIP.

We were very sad to learn of the death of former Dulwich Hamlet manager Eddie Presland, aged 78. He passed from this life in a hospice in Newcastle surrounded by his loved ones. Our deepest condolences to Eddie’s family and friends.

Following Alan Smith’s departure from Dulwich in the summer of 1981, Eddie Presland was appointed the Hamlet manager, a post he held for the next three years. At the end of that third season he won the London Senior Cup. It was the first of two spells at the club.

Born in Loughton, Essex on 27 March 1943, when Eddie arrived at Champion Hill, he was working as a PE Teacher at Stepney Green Secondary School, married with a thirteen year old son and living in Upminster.

He had a fine semi-professional pedigree in non-league football management, and in 1980 led his Dagenham side to the FA Trophy, the first Isthmian League team to win it. Prior to that he played for and managed Wealdstone, after a spell coaching and playing in South Africa.

His professional career was largely spent playing reserve team football, but there were wonderful highlights. He famously scored on his West Ham United debut against Liverpool in 1965, his most memorable match. His boyhood club went on to win 2-1. Four of the players on the field that day – Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Roger Hunt – would be in the England team that won the World Cup at the end of the following season. Brief highlights of the game including Eddie’s goal can be found here .

During his time at West Ham, Eddie spent the summers playing County cricket for Essex. He then played three seasons for Crystal Palace, and went out on loan to Orient and Colchester United, thus making appearances in all four divisions of the Football League.

The second spell at Dulwich Hamlet came midway through the 1987/88 season when he turned things around and saved the club from relegation. And then, in November 1989 Eddie was controversially sacked after a run of bad results, but this only led to the Hamlet going into free-fall which saw them relegated at the end of the season.

Other clubs managed by Eddie include Hendon and Gravesend & Northfleet. Then in later years he took up scouting for some top-flight clubs, and played a part in bringing Luca Modric and Dimitar Berbatov to Tottenham Hotspur.

Rest in peace, Eddie Presland.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Evening News …in Finnish

Iltasanomat is the second biggest selling newspaper in Finland.  Translated as ‘Evening News’ the paper has a daily circulation of more than 100,000. The online version of the newspaper is read by 2.5 million.  

This week the paper published its annual magazine supplement previewing the English Premier League and the EFL. Also included in the magazine is an article written by respected sports journalist Juha Kanerva, about legendary multi-sportsman Niilo Tammisalo.

The two page spread is based on our recent Hamlet Historian production Niilo Tammisalo: HamletStroller to Hall of Famer. Tammisalo joined Dulwich Hamlet in the latter part of the 1921/22 season. The twenty seven year old goalkeeper was unusual in that he wore spectacles when he played. Although he did not make it into the Hamlet’s first team – appearing for the Strollers before being promoted to the Reserves – he did go on to become arguably the most influential person in Finnish sporting history.

A handful of copies of the booklet were recently sent to Finland and will no doubt be regarded as collectors’ items.

The 24 page booklet, co-written with Harri Laine and illustrated with some rare photographs, is still available and can be purchased for £3 including postage.  Please contact me via the email link on this page.

Jack McInroy