These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

NO MORE CHAMPION HILL STREET BLUES


Printed in the re-arranged Southern League Central Division One games v North Greenford United Tuesday 19th February 2013. We won 3-0 in front of 192 people.

What’s not to like about Dulwich Hamlet. Their fantastic name for starters. Is there any other senior football team called Hamlet? And what about the kit. Does anyone else dare to play in pink and blue?
As a Slough Town youngster I remember going to their massive crumbling old ground where crowds of 200 rattled round in a stadium built for thousands.
Their new place certainly lacks the charm of the old one but it’s smack bang where football clubs should be, in the middle of a community.
And so it came to pass that on New Years Day after a quick trip to the Sea Life Centre it was all aboard the London Bridge Express to Champion Hill. My mate had just moved to the parish of Southwark and what better way to whet their local non league whistle than Dulwich v arch rivals Tooting and Mitcham United on New Years Day.
On the train a dad asked his son if he was excited about today’s game. His black and white scarf wasn’t Fulhams – no it was Tooting’s. As I looked for the nearest boozer, people were wearing Dulwich scarfs. There was a queue to get in. This was like a proper football match! Except there was no police and few stewards, you didn’t need to buy a ticket in advance, rival fans mingled in the bar and more importantly you could take beer onto the terraces. The fingers of gentrification have reached the nearest pub succumbing to that cold and uncomfortable look, all rocket leaf and focassia bread, but the old Dulwich rabble are mixing well with their newer richer supporters and being top of the league crowds are on the up.
In the packed stand Dulwich’s outstanding Erhun Oztumer is cheered by friends and families waving Turkish flags. The crowd is so multicultural I’m half-expecting the English Defence League to be outside complaining about all those bloody foreigners watching our football teams. As for the football – what a cracker of a first half. The game ends two apiece when seems about right.
In the bar afterwards we reckon my mates boy Leo should mark his first ever game with a signed programme. I spot legendary Dulwich fan Mishi who points out their manager who happily signs the programme. Mishi is one of the old school Dulwich Rabble whose on the management committee now. One of those supporters which every club needs to function; whose made the tea, collected the balls, flogged the raffle tickets, been the secretary. He also produced the fanzine ‘Champion Hill Street Blues’ and was also was behind the publication ‘Tooting and Mitcham’s greatest moments in 100 years’ which was full of blank pages!  He’s part of the crew behind the 12th man a fan-led scheme to raise money for the playing budget. But today is a greater way to raise money for the club. By getting punters through the gates and in the bar. On the way out I chat to some Arsenal fans who are first time visitors and mightly impressed. While Manchester City hand Arsenal back a third of their outrageously priced 62 tickets, a crowd of 642 get to see a game for a tenner, free if your under 12.
Last word has to go to my old mate ‘Mad PridePete Shaugnhessy who died 10 years ago. Mishi persuaded Pete to follow the Hamlet when he bumped into him at a local library. After one game he was hooked “Non-league football is ethical: you’re supporting a local community and you can have fun while you’re at it. When I’d just started going out with my present partner, I talked her into going to a totally, meaningless friendly, Moseley versus Dulwich. After a night with the “Rabble”, we ended up stranded in Hampton Court, no train or night bus. After a bit of bartering, I managed to get us the honeymoon suite at Hampton Court Palace. She was totally in awe. “This is what you get when you follow Dulwich Hamlet.”

2 Comments:

Blogger Steve Walsh and Jack McInroy said...

Lovely blog.

We were at the game too and recorded part of the Dulwich Hamlet episode of our podcast there.

Give it a listen, I think you'll enjoy it:

http://www.southlondonhardcore.com/2013/01/episode-55-dulwich-hamlet-football-club.html

11:06 pm

 
Anonymous Dulwich Mishi said...

There's a bit of poetic licence in here...I was only Youth Team Secretary for a couple of seasons...then they scrapped the Youth Team! I'm just a supporter that does his bit, nothing more, nothing less. And I just help out a little with the '12th Man', Shaun & Neil are the main men behind it.
We're £9 to get in, by the way. And we offer the £4 conession to both students, umemployed & over 60's, with the ID. It's GREEDY clubs like t*****g that charge a tenner!
Mad Pete was a top bloke. I've been sober for almost eleven years now, but he died when I was six months sober. It was the nearest I've come to a 'wobble'. He didn't actually stay at the royal palace, with Penny...but it was the honeymoon suite in a really posh hotel across the road from the station. Touch wood, I've not gone crazy yet, but he taught me so much about respecting mad people, still miss him, he was what the expression 'diamond geezer' was invented for.

12:00 am

 

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