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