15 October, 2005

Soccer: Dulwich Hamlet 1, Barking and East Ham 1

More or less, Dulwich Hamlet is our local soccer team. Dulwich is a fabled name in amateur soccer. Throughout the early 20th century, the Hamlet was the cream of the amateur game. Probably most famous of all was Edgar Kail who played three times for the full England side. Kail 427 goals in 15 seasons after the first world war.

At that time, south London was not a hotbed of the professional game. Charlton had a couple of good seasons, but Crystal Palace and Millwall, the other sides in the area were at the bottom rung of the Football League. Sides like Dulwich, Tooting and Mitcham, Corinthian Casuals, Bromley and Croydon had a good following. If not thriving, they survived at the heights of the amateur level.

Times were not so good for the Hamlet after the second world war. Champion Hill, their well-appointed ground declined as times got tough. Finally, in the latter years of the century, the old ground was sold off to accommodate a supermarket and a smaller, modern ground. Today, the small stadium also houses a health club and a thriving social club.

Today was our first visit to Champion Hill though we shop at the adjacent supermarket every weekend.

Barking and East Ham were visitors for an FA Trophy first round match. The Trophy, for those that don't know, is the senior knock-out competition for clubs outside the Premier and Football Leagues. Prior to the distinction between amateurs and professionals being abolished, the Amateur Cup was the top non-League competition.

Barking, a scrappy little side, proved a tough test for the home side. Dulwich had most of the play in the first half - which lacked both skill, entertainment and clear cut chances. The Hamlet had a succession of corners, mostly wasted. Conroy and Williams had the best of the efforts. Conroy should have scored when Cort and Williams linked up well for the first time in the match. But, the midfielder strike was well wide. Hamlet defender De Souza was booked for arguing after Williams was clattered to the ground by an opposing defender. Home supporters and players were amazed that the East Ham player received not even a booking when it looked as though Williams was clear on goal.

Barking got more into the game in the second period. Midfielder Vaughn, in particular, found space. Dulwich, for their part, finally played the ball on the ground, but lacked the telling final pass. Vaughn curled a free kick close after 54 minutes and Barking had their own succession of corners. Seuke in the home goal flapped a couple of times, but no goal.

Dulwich brought on striker Charley Side in the 66th minute and he was almost immediately free, but failed to score. Meanwhile, Brown for Barking was continually finding room in the inside-right channel. With few clear cut chances, time wound down with a 0-0 on the cards.

Suddenly, in stoppage time, from nowhere Vaughn was in space to nod a cross field ball to Taylor who headed wide of Seuke. Vaughn was expelled by referee Mark Links for celebrating by taking his shirt off.

Almost immediately, Side found himself free in the penalty area as De Souza nudged the ball to him whilst stumbling. Side pivotted and shot. Barking's keeper, Tucker, dove to his left, but the ball filled the net.

There was time for a minor scuffle at the far side of the field. Then, Links blew for time. Back to East London for a replay on Tuesday.


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