Can we say that Dulwich Hamlet are (almost) synonymous with non-league football? The name itself evokes a strong link with the beautiful game lower down the ladder. Well. It does for us, at least. You can accuse us of being over-romantic later. The Hamlet’s tale is a long one too, which we’ll soon find out about in as much detail as you can bear to stomach. Promoted with us from Diadora League Division One in 1992, we hung out with them for three straight seasons.
The Hamlet remained in the Premier Division after we went up in 1994; staying there before relegation took them back to Division One in 2001. In more recent times, the club came back in an upwards direction; promoted to National League South for the first time in 2018. Off the pitch, however, there was some to-do with their ground for an extended period. In 1991, their Champion Hill ground was demolished on safety grounds – and rebuilt for the start of the 1992-3 campaign.
The 19th Century was in its last knockings when the Hamlet came to be; formed in 1893 when a couple of local likely lads asked Lorraine ‘Pa’ Wilson to start a club. So, he did. To start with, the club kept their competitive football local. But that changed (sort of) in 1907 when they became members of the Isthmian League. And that’d be a long-running association that lasted long into the 21st century. More on that later.
The interwar period was a golden one for the Hamlet. The 1919-20 campaign is the first in which the honours flowed; the club claiming an Isthmian League and FA Amateur Cup double to kick it all off. By the time World War Two came around, they’d recorded two more Isthmian League title wins and three more FA Amateur Cups. And shortly after peace returned, the Hamlet were league champions again by finishing top of the pile at the end of the 1948-9 campaign.
We almost forgot to mention that, during the 1920s, TWO Hamlet players were called up to the FULL England squad. There’s a quiz question for you…
After that, the 1958-9 season would be as good as it got for a long time; ending in second behind Wimbledon (remember them?). The Hamlet soon saw themselves at the wrong end of the table. In fact, the club finished rock bottom of the Isthmian League two seasons on the bounce during the mid-1960s. This became a problem when the league expanded in the 1970s as the club were relegated from Division One in 1977.
The good news is that Division Two was renamed Division One that summer. So, they remained as a Division One side on a technicality. It simply didn’t mean what it used to.
Why do we know the Hamlet?
At the first time of asking, the Hamlet returned back into the Isthmian League’s top flight. In the years that followed, encouraging showings were interspersed with seasons of struggles. And the yo-yo of the pendulum caught up yet again with them in 1990, and their second-ever relegation. This time, it’d take them two seasons to return to the Premier Division. But not before they got a first glimpse at a bright young thing called Stevenage Borough Football Club in Division One.
How to get to Dulwich Hamlet – Travel Information – Distance: 35 miles
The most direct route that takes you through central London, which means you should be aware of the Congestion Charge zone – now in force seven days a week.
Go south on the A1(M) and A1 until Mill Hill, where you’ll need to switch to the A41. Keep on the A41 through Swiss Cottage and St John’s Wood; all the way down to Euston Road in fact. Go across Euston Road and turn right onto George Street, before making a quick left onto Great Cumberland Place. This is to bring you out at Marble Arch.
Get in the lanes that will take you onto Park Lane (the A4202). At Piccadilly, go round the Wellington Arch and take Grosvenor Place (A302) around the back of Buckingham Palace and then swing left onto Lower Grosvenor Place. Follow this round to the right as you go through Victoria and then flick left onto Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Go across the river and under the railway bridge, bearing left for the A3204. But it won’t be long until you need to turn right into Durham Street, then left onto Harleyford Road to skirt around The Oval. Keep on this road across the A3 junction until you get to Camberwell.
Turn right onto Camberwell Grove in about 1.6 miles and then right onto Grove Hill Road at the end. Next, it’s a left onto Dog Kennel Hill (A2216). Just 0.1 mile later, it’s right onto Edgar Kail Way. The ground is down here.
Get to the ground in good enough time and you may snare yourself a parking spot. If not, there is apparently plenty of on-streeet parking nearby. Just be on the look-out for parking restrictions that might affect you.
Station: EAST DULWICH
Services to: WIMBLEDON (for LONDON BRIDGE)
East Dulwich station is not far from the ground at all. Leave the station and turn left onto Dog Kennel Hill. After passing Morley’s Fried Chicken, cut across St Francis Park on the left. This will bring you out right by the ground. Simple!
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