Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Plenty of links to snaps from Namur:

There were quite a few people out with their 'box brownies' at the weekend!

First up, are the ones from our very own Paul Griffin: Click here.

And for some Belgian ones, thanks to Nicolas & Stephane for the links, click here here, here, here, here, & here.

For a video link on the First Team game that mentions our game in it click here.

And for LOTS of video clips of our Supporters' game click here & type DULWICH into the search!

Enjoy them all!

What a wonderful trip!

What more can you say about the fans of U.R. Namur except pay them the ‘highest compliment’ of all and say they really are as crazy as Dulwich Hamlet fans! This was a wonderful trip to play our counterparts from the Belgian Second Division, and to say they rolled out the red carpet and made us welcome was a understatement!
Thank you is too small a phrase to proffer to our first contact Nicolas, and Stephane, the top fan of the Union Boys, but from the bottom of our hearts we do thank them for their hospitality. I am certain that there will be many games in the coming years between “The Rabblers” and the Namur Boys. From small acorns wonderful footballing links grow!
I, personally, arrived on the Wednesday morning in Brussels, a couple of days before everyone else. I decided to do this after discovering that Namur were away to AFC Tubize in a Belgian League game that night. After all, even though I’m not a proper groundhopper-I just like to visit different grounds-let’s be honest, there is something of a ‘latent’ groundhopper in us all!
But I so nearly never got there… Having arrived at the spanking new St Pancras International Eurostar terminus in plenty of time for my 7.00am train to Brussels, I actually boarded the 6.55am service to Paris on the adjacent platform. Oops! I was in the right carriage, and correct seat. Just the wrong train. Mine I could see across the platform! Luckily (extremely fucking lucky to be honest!) they announced this was the Paris service moments before it departed & I grabbed my bags & jacket in a panic, & dived off, literally. Actually falling onto the platform with a stumble, heavily dropping my camera. It took a whack, and was playing up, but it seemed to return to normal after a couple of days, luckily. Though I had another ‘spare’ in my bag anyway. After that there were no mishaps. And I ‘glided’ along to Brussels in just over two hours. After finding my accommodation I had booked for the night I headed back to Midi station & went to Tubize. Nicolas had told me not to get there too early, as there was nothing there. But I ignored him, on the premise that I’d never, ever go back to Tubize, so I had to stroll around the town. I got there just after one, and he was meeting me at seven. Unfortunately he was right. To say it was a small town, with nothing much there was an understatement. But I took a look at the ground, so I could get some nice snaps of it in daylight, and just wandered around. After dusk settled there was not much to see, so I just sat in the waiting room at the station, perusing the backlog of “442” magazines I had brought over for him. And got high from passively smoking the joints from the local teenagers who were using the place as their ‘drug den!’
The game itself wasn’t that bad, and worthy of more than the 0-0 scoreline, which might indicate it was a load of rubbish. The pitch was heavy in places, and cut up easily. Tubize had more of the first half, but were higher up the table, so it was half expected. Nicolas had told me beforehand he would be happy with a draw. But at the final whistle he was an annoyed little Belgian, as he felt that Namur had wasted enough chances in the second half to sneak a win. And you know what? He was right! I was pleased with a point, but we could have won it! Did I say ‘we’? It’s that infectious..a part of my footballing heart is already reserved for UR Namur! At a rough ‘guestimate’ there were around seventy fans in the away half of the covered terrace on the halfway line. And the support was superb. Constant singing and encouragement. The players all came over and applauded at the final whistle, which was superb. Roll on the home game on Saturday!
On Thursday afternoon I got a train for Namur from Brussels & met Nicolas at the station just after five. I was to be his guest at his house that evening, and he was taking me to a local sixth division match at RFC Meux, which is a fourth division ground, but for some unknown reason was playing host to sixth level RAC Leuze versus Ohey. Before we set off to that we dropped my baggage off at his house, and I had the pleasure of seeing Danuta, not to mention their cuddly cat Elliot, again! She managed to rustle up some delicious ‘Croque Monsieur’, which are actually the simple snack of cheese & ham toasties. But they sound so much more exotic, & are that little bit more tasty, when knocked up by Danuta herself! I was also shown the ‘spare room’ on the top floor of his house. Which is actually a small attic room ,which he has ‘converted’ into his own private ‘Football Museum’! Packed with scarves, pennants, shirts, books and –naturally- the ‘PA’ WILSON CUP, which his PSG Belgium Supporters’ Team lifted at Champion Hill last May. If any of you return to Namur then make sure you beg Nicolas to take you to his home so you can view his little museum! J’adore la Cathedral in Namur, and the Citadel isn’t bad either, but “Le Lucas Museum de Football” really is the place to visit!
Before we got to Meuze we stopped off at the training ground of Namur, where the team were training. The team is a mix of part time & full time, with the full timers training in the daytime, and the others having an evening session. We walked around the ground, and then had a quick drink in the bar, and I was actually introduced to their captain Gabor Bukran, who sepaks perfect English. He is actually Hungarian, and has played also in Spain & Austria. But he had a spell at Walsall too, when they were in the Second Division (That’s the Championship to ‘youngsters’!) & told me he loved his stay there. He went to places like Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest & Manchester City! He said he would actually be at our supporters’ game, & would be making the ceremonial kick off! And it gets better…he would pick our two best players to actually kick off the Namur First Team match in the evening! Bloody hell! I managed to persuade Nicolas to let us nominate our two players to do the honours. And we decided it would be fitting for Andy Tucker & Lawrence Marsh to be on the pitch, as it was their last game in charge of “The Rabblers” before handing over the reigns to Mick O’Shaughnessy & Mark Hutton. Sadly we couldn’t stay and chat as we had to go to Meuze. And the game itself wasn’t that bad at all. The genuine away team, from Ohey were worth the points in their solitary goal victory, but RAC Leuze might have found themselves a shade unlucky not to sneak a draw, as they came back into the game in the second half. The football was excellent, both teams attacking and passing well. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t expect such a standard at a lowly Belgian level.
And so it was Friday. The “Rabblers” invasion was commencing! By evening our tour party would be at a full fifteen strong strength! Nicolas & Danuta were off to work, and kindly let me sleep in, leaving me the key to lock the front door. Honest guv, I had no thoughts at all of doing a runner & ‘cleaning out’ his Museum! I spent the morning wandering around the main Namur cemetery, making a point of stopping at the Commonwealth War Graves plot, signing the visitors book on behalf of “The Rabblers”, and then came a pleasant surprise. Nicolas phoned me, and said he would come and meet me in ten minutes time (It was just after twelve) as he had finished his work early! After stopping home briefly, he then took me on a tour of all the local grounds in the Namur region! We visited seven in all, including the actual Namur ground, where we would watch the First Team game the next night! I won’t bore you with details of them all, I’ll be saving that for a more ‘anoraky’ forum elsewhere!
By now Andy Tucker was due to arrive at the station, so we went there to pick him up, and after a quick coffee or coca cola at Chateau Lucas we headed for the hotel. There were a few ‘teething problems’, but not many. Those who had been booked into triples had one single bed & a double, but it was all ‘lads on tour’ so a bit of ‘topping & tailing’ went on! I’m not sure how much ‘tour virgin’ Andy Murphy enjoyed being ‘teased’ by his room-mates Chris Garrett and Andy Tucker. I would say more but this is a ‘family blog’... No it’s not really, but as the saying goes: ‘What goes on tour, stays on tour’ After settling in we went to a local bar for the evening, which was the smokiest place we’d all been in for a long time, as you can still light up in Belgian bars! A delight for those who indulge, but even they had eyes streaming as we have been so unaccustomed to it, thanks to the draconian ban imposed by the ‘English Health Police’! There’s nothing better than being one of the first of a crowd to arrive. It’s a real buzz as more of the squad arrive in dribs and drabs as each train brings a few more of your party into town. The ‘highlight’ of the night was being introduced to the Namur ‘main man’ Stephane. Not just because it turned out he was a thoroughly decent bloke, but he is a 100% dead ringer for our very own Chris Wheeler! Two peas in a pod. Separated at birth! It really was uncanny! And they spent most of the evening chatting to each other at the bar. No doubt swapping life stories at the bar, before realising they were both put up for adoption a quarter of a century or more ago!
It was an early start in the morning, so some of us drifted off as the early hours of the morning hit. Due to tiredness, out and out comatosed drunkenness, or a combination of both! When I left the dirty tricks were coming into play, and the pesky Belgians were playing their “It’s A Knockout” let’s get him knocked out style Joker, by plying our keeper Matt Hammond with treble vodkas, which he obligingly downed, earing him the nickname of ‘animal’ from them. Boy, were they shocked when he turned up to play, and raring to go a few hours later! This was the last public sighting of Phil Baker’s “Ladywell FC Bologna 2008” tour polo shirt, which he was showing off, & bragging about, prior to his trip there, this coming weekend, I believe. It wasn’t seen again on the trip, which was perhaps unfortunate, as he should have kept it more in his sights. As, what Big Nose has since described as a ‘snivelling coward’ walked into his room and chopped the emblem from it, leaving the shirt looking somewhat like a Romanian flag, once Ceausescu had been overthrown! So beware in Europe, as “The Rabblers” easily metamorph into a Wimbledon style “Crazy Gang!” Fortunately it has been agreed to reimburse him for the damage to the garment, not least because he has threatened to dump the entire Supporters’ Team kit into his dustbin if someone doesn’t…
The game itself: well I’ve never been one for reports. But suffice to say we did ourselves proud. Each and every one of us! The final score was 6-6, and we were leading 6-4, with five minutes to go. Once again Nicolas played his dirty little Blegian cheating trick and played his ‘played at a far higher level than Wrightie ever did’ brother who waltzed through us each time he was on the pitch. In fact it wouldn’t be unfair to say that if he wasn’t turning out then we would surely have won. But the record books now show that we have played Nicolas THREE TIMES over ninety minute games (2 v. PSG Belgium, & now once against Namur) and HE is yet to be victorious! That must be what they mean by ‘cheats never prosper!’. What with always bringing his brother in as a 'ringer' AND having his dad referee the matches! To be fair Papa Lucas was ok in the middle, a guilty conscience after his Parisien debacle last year perhaps? But this match wasn’t about winning or losing, or even drawing. It was about making friends, and building relationships between set of fans from across Europe. And if that was our sole aim then we certainly achieved that! After the game crate upon crate of beer (& a couple of bottles of coca cola for the non drinkers!) were brought out as we chewed the fat & chatted with each other in the car park! Bizarre, but fun. In truth we’d have been just as happy to rest out weary legs in a local bar, an-eventually-that’s what we did. Going to one of their local ones where they meet up for their bus before away games. The chap behind the jump being a former player of theirs. Some of us went back to the hotel to dump our bags, & have a quick shower or ‘power nap’. But those who stayed (sadly I’d buggered off) were delighted when the actual Namur first Team manager & his right hand man, both from Chile, popped in to say hello!
The match itself was an eight o’clock kick off, but we were due to be at the ground at six, as Nicolas had persuaded us all to purchase VIP tickets for 42 euros a pop. Sounds a lot, but that is just under thirty quid. And for that we got, wait for it, a three course meal, a ticket in the Kop (which would have been 15 euros alone) and a team sheet. I mention that because they didn’t do a match programme, and they weren’t available on the normal turnstiles, so it was a nice little souvenir. Talking of souvenirs I snaffled the menu card on our table which I got all of our party to sign! How sad is that eh? Oh and as if that wasn’t all value enough for money there was also free coffee and biscuits at half time in the partitioned off VIP part of the main bar at half time! And as the saying goes: ‘good manners cost nothing’. Which proved to be the case as the actual President of the UR Namur club took time out from his meal to personally come over to our two tables and shake hands with us all!
The game itself? Well let’s just say it was the only letdown of the weekend! Namur put in, what must have been, one-if not the-worst performance of the season, going tamely down 2-0 to the visitors KV Red Star Waasland. Perhaps it was Andy & Larry who jinxed them when they took the kick off, along with one of the Namur Boys?
The support was excellent, and we were in their section of the ‘Kop’ where the main Namur Boys go. In the seats behind the goal, but standing up all the way htrough. As football should be! We joined in some of the songs, some of which were in English. One or two of which we will ‘nick’ to use behind the goal back home! Others were just too undecipherable or plain crazy for us to understand! Their top man Stephane was a superb double act with his sidekick who had the big drum. I don’t know about you but four days later I’m still walking down the road humming ‘la,la,la,la,la,la! UR Namur, UR Namur!’ to myself. And as for the one where they were rattling their keys in the air & starting singing ‘we wish you a merry christmas’ to us in English, & we responded with ‘jingle bells’…you just had to be there! And yes, we know it was in January…
At the final whistle half of the team came over to applaud the home fans, and us I suppose by association. You could tell they meant it, but looked embarrassed to do so, knowing they didn’t, perhaps, deserve such excellent support on this occasion, as they had performed well below par. Contrast the away fans going mental in their enclose, as their squad ran over to applaud them. But they just looked like muppets, as there were more players than fans. In fact more Dulwich Hamlet supporters had travelled all the way from England to support Namur, than had made the short trip across Belgium to get behind Waasland!
The atmosphere in the clubhouse was, understandably, a bit flat. But the beer wasn’t. And a few more farewell glasses were sunk. We were then dropped off back at our hotel. It was with heavy hearts that we bade farewell to our Belgian guests, but also with hope in our hearts, as we knew that without a doubt we will return next season to play them again. Hopefully, with a match in Namur, before going on to an away match with them, simply to please the ‘little bit of a groundhopper’ that is in us all!
At Sunday lunchtime we briefly saw Danuta & Nicolas at the station, before eight of us went to another Second Division match in Brussels: Union Saint-Gilloise versus United Overpelt-Lommel. Thankfully a bit better than the match the previous night, with the visitors winning by the odd goal in three. The Stade Joseph Marien is one of the most traditional, magnificent grounds in the country. With the outer brickwork on the main stand being listed, and a huge, open terrace on the other. If ever you are in Brussels check out to see if they have a home match. You won’t be disappointed! In their club/pub under the stand there was a t-shirt on the wall from a Supporters’ tournament last year. This is the one that Nicolas has mentioned, and Namur fans’ entered. This year it is on 31st May, & is a 7-a-side competition. And we are hoping to enter at least one team. Watch this space for further details. And there is also the possibility of Namur Supporters’ coming over to play us once their season is over in mid-May this year.

So that’s my ‘little’ review of our trip to Namur in January 2008. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed being a part of the trip.
As I said the Namur Boys were wonderful hosts, we know what a great host Nicolas has been to us in the past, both in Namur and Paris, but I still think that the sheer joy of this tour exceeded most of our wildest expectations.
Once again thank you to all from Namur for making us so welcome, we look forward to visiting again in the not too distant future.

If anyone else has any tour reviews & memories which they would like to share-especially if they differ from mine!- then please feel free to email them to me at:
(In English please though. Sorry Belgians!)

Monday, 28 January 2008

A tour summary of our trip to Namur


Four goals from player-manager Larry Marshand 1 each from Andy Murphy and Chris Garrett ensured honours were even.Andy Murphy was voted man of the match,we all had one vote each, and deserved his award but I thought everyone played their part in a hard fought draw. Oh, & from a personal point of view, 'greedy' Chris Garrett still won't pass me the ball to me! ;-)
This is just a brief post till Mishi gets back with a proper update. It was another superb trip.
Big thanks to Larry & Andy and Nicolas as well as all the lads from Namur. Once again our hosts were superb in the way they treated us royally, even arranging for Larry and Andy to start the 1st team game by kicking off along with a Namur fan on the Saturday evening.

In case your not aware Larry and Andy have stepped aside and Mick O'Shaughnessy andMark Huttom are now in charge. I know how hard it is to run the side at times,speaking from experience having done the job myself in the past, and would like to thank them for all their hard work and time during their time in charge and hope the new managers can build on the foundations they have been left by the previous duo. I'm sure Griff and Mishi will post some pics later and if your really lucky we may see the opening of the Namur 1st Team kick off on the Saturday night if we can get the highlights downloaded.

(This report kindly posted by Steve Rickerby)

Monday, 21 January 2008

A legend is born...

Now a lot of us have been playing alongside Steve Rickerby for many years, & know what a talented player he is.
There's always a trick or two that he can do with the ball that you can honestly say that you've never seen before.
Don't take my word for it. Take it from Millwall.
This was a snippet posted on their forum about one of his skillspots on Saturday morning from someone called Danger Mouse:

"I was also pleased to be a part of it not only to help raise mney ut to witness the funiest thing i have seen at a football match for those not there here is a rough description....

Dulwich are defending the ball lops high into the air, the big centre half lines himself underneath and aims a volley to clear. he swings and instead of connecting witha sweet volley it hits him on top of the head"

What more can you say?

Over to you Steve...what exactly were you trying to do?

Not long now....

Until our next 'European Invasion' begins! We're not so much missing Walton & Hersham at home on Saturday afternoon, as we like to see it a representing the Club wearing our Pink 'n' Blue playing in another game!
We are off to Belgium once again, this time to play the Supporters' Team of Union Royale Namur, of the Belgian Second Division, who we have not yet encountered.
The match has been arranged by our good Belgian friend, the Paris Saint Germain, UR Namur & 'adopted' Hamlet fan, Nicolas Lucas.
As with all of our previous trips across the Channel the result will be immaterial. It's all about having fun, promoting ourselves as a Club, spreading the name of Dulwich Hamlet across our continent!
Most of our group will be arriving on the Friday in Namur, & we play our match on the Saturday morning. It's then time to 'socialise' in the afternoon, and hope that most are not too drunk for the nig match in the evening at eight o'clock: UR Namur versus RS Waasland!
Of our squad travelling over, only Andy Murphy & Chris Wheeler are 'tour virgins'. The rest of the group is: Matt Hammond; Paul Griffin; Ferenc Morath; Andy Tucker; Steve Rickerby; Chris Wheeler; Phil Doyle; Lawrence Marsh; Chris Garrett; Dawn Taylor; Mishi Morath; Mark Hutton; Mick O'Shaughnessy & Phil Baker.

Depending on whether we can access a computer somewhere in Belgium, we may-or may not!- post the result on here before we return, for the home match with Metropolitan Police on Tuesday 29th!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Some photos from the Millwall Online match

Have already been published!

Click here for the report & snaps from Onionbagblogger;

And here for the pictures by Griff.

Thanks to them both, for taking the time, when not actually on the pitch themselves!

And a report from their perspective...

From their website:

By Bexleyheath_lion:

That's right, do not adjust your screens, but MO have recorded their first official 11 aside victory and as is always the way, you wait so long then give out a bit of a thrashing when it does happen. As said previously though, the real winners on the day were the Royal Marsden and at last check the collection stood at around £700, but I am led to believe that may increase.There will be an opportunity for people to donate when the article goes in the Southwark News next week. Anyway to the game, the lads went a goal down thanks to an own goal by captain Ellasandlilysdaddy, but he redeemed himself with the scores at 1-1 by making a brave block on the line!! The goals today were scored by: 3 from JF lion, 3 from Charlie (on his debut), 1 from our left back Billy (on his debut) a 40 yard stunner and one from the genius that is Dwall. Katie's elder brother Jamie became the youngest player to appear for MO aged just 12 and did score himself only for a very very dodgy linesman and referee decision to disallow the goal. All in all a big thank you to the whole squad:Mfc TelTel lionBaslionMitchamMilroarEllasdaddyTommyBilly CharlieWakey Wakey McCluelessJF LionLetsaveitRM1 LionDwallZakSloffBexOwainJamieI would also like to add, that I found the whole event quite emotional, especially the presentation of the KP Shield to the winning captain Ellasdaddy. It brought a tear to my eye and a lump to the throat, a brilliant cause and will hopefully become an annual event. I also got to meet young Katie, who, despite her illness, was a gorgeous young girl who seemed to be a really cheerful young lady, an inspiration to a lot of people, very brave young girl, and it was an absolute pleasure and an honor. Thank you to everyone that contributed in any way towards making today as worthwhile as it was. Our man of the match was Charlie, who duly passed his trophy onto young Jamie who probably deserved it in equal measure for his efforts when he came on.

Where are they now...

For those of you wondering what had happened to supporters team ‘prodigy’, and left-back, ahem, maestro Ian Hunt, it turns out his reason for a lack of appearances this year is that he has gone over to the darkside. Outgoing supporters’ team organiser Andy Tucker was on his way to Champion Hill on Thursday, and was minding his own business when he heard the ominous phrase ‘tickets please’. Scrabbling around for his ticket, he looks up, only to see that it is none other than Chris Tabrett’s sidekick, sporting a particularly unimpressive bit of bumfluff. He's only a bloody 'Blakey!' (And before you say it, yes I know that Blakey worked 'On The Buses') Those of you who remember Ian will recall that when travelling to away games, we were always somewhat envious that Ian got to go everywhere for free thanks to his dad’s employment on the trains. He evidently gave up on college and has decided to follow in daddy’s footsteps. So next time you need letting off a fare, at least we know who to call …

Saturday, 19 January 2008

The winner was....charidee!

Which is my way of saying that we got well stuffed at Burgess Park this morning!
It was:
Millwall-Online 8, "The Rabblers" 1!
But no complaints, they were simply a better team than us, as to be expected from a club that has nigh on ten thousand fans to pick from, whereas our 'selection pool' is four hundred, if we're lucky!
We'd never played them before, & the most important thing was that we raised a few quid for the Royal Marsden Hospital funds. I don't know how much the match generated in total, but our squad handed over all of our match days subs to the cause, with many donating more than the match fee, with some players handing in more to boost the appeal, including some who were not there in person, or just turned up to watch. We also received a very generous £30 donation from the Hampton & Richmond Borough supporters' team, which was extremely touching, and shows what the true, friendly spirit of the Internet footballing ethos is all about.
We'll let you know what are total tally up of money raised from us is, when Andy has tallied it up, and emailed the total to me in the week.

For those of you who are wondering...our goal was scored by 'Own Goal' & we actually took the lead, before going in 5-1 down at the break. We had nineteen players available on the day, & the squad rotated throughout the game. No doubt if we'd played out best XI available we'd have kept the score down slightly, but the score didn't really matter. It was all about enjoying the match, & having fun against new opponents. Raising a few pennies along the way. We achieved that, and look forward to playing Millwall Online again in the future.
Chris Tabrett has again promised one of his match reports, & as soon as I receive it I'll post it on here.

Back row, left to right: Phil Baker; Danny King; Chris Wheeler; Steve Rickerby; Mark Hutton; Paul Griffin; Chris Tabrett; Ian Wright; Shaun Dooley; James O'Shaughnessy; Jason Cobb.
Front row, left to right: Ferenc Morath; Lawrence Marsh; Andrew Tucker; Matt Hammond; Dawn Taylor; Matthew Virgo; Joel Virgo; Jack McInroy; Phil Doyle.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

To Elland back!

There’s an assumption that the make up of the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Team is made up of the loyal ‘hard core, home & away every week’ boys & girls behind the goal.
Well yes, some are, but not all, by a long chalk. Some of “The Rabblers” sit in the seats, while others rarely go to away games. Others have a big Football League side as their ‘first love’, with The Hamlet their second side. It really is an eclectic mix that plays for us!

One such fan whose main team is a professional one is Ferenc Morath, who despite being a Leeds United fan, has been frequenting the Champion Hill terraces since the early nineteen seventies!

We had a chat to him about all things football the other day….and it turned into the longest interview I’ve conducted so far, probably made easier that I was interviewing my brother! But don’t be put off by the length of it, it really is an entertaining read!

RABBLER: You’re one of the breed of Hamlet fans for whom Dulwich come second. Your first love is Leeds United, then us. Why Leeds, and how Dulwich?
FERENC: The Leeds thing came about because when I was a young kid I used to go round to visit my godmother, who lived in Charlotte Street, off of Tottenham Court Road, and she used to let me stay up late to watch “Match of the Day”. Everyone at school supported the likes of Arsenal or Manchester United, even in those days. So I just wanted to be a bit different. I was watching “Match of the Day”, in 1970, and Sutton United were playing Leeds United in the FA Cup. I didn’t know that Sutton were a non-league side, I was just impressed with Leeds, who looked really good to me. So I chose them as my team. It really was a fluke that I became a Leeds fan. As for Dulwich…well we grew up behind the ground on Leconfield House. We could see the players training on the old back pitch clearly from our balcony! We couldn’t have lived much closer to the ground, I suppose I was just lucky we were so close.

RABBLER: It’s your fault that your younger brother Mishi is a Dulwich fan? Any regrets about this? Surely you owe an apology for everyone else?
FERENC: No, none at all! I’m grateful he supports Dulwich, in fact if he’d bee a Millwall fan I’m sure he’d being doing time inside by now. You could say it turned out to be a lucky escape for him. Much as I would like to apologise it has actually been to everyones’ benefit. Down the years he has provided much entertainment for lots of people at Champion Hill.

RABBLER: So when did you first start playing for “The Rabblers”?
FERENC: (After a long pause for thought) You know I’m not quite sure. It must have been in the very early days, on & off. God, I just can’t remember. But it was a long time ago! Possibly even in the first game, but I’m not sure. I know I did play on the old Champion Hill pitch, so it could have been the first one.

RABBLER: You suffered a serious injury a few years ago against a local Bermondsey side, in a match player at the old Fisher Athletic ground on Salter Road. What exactly happened?
FERENC: I remember it well. Four of us went up for a ball in the box, and all four of us fell on top of each other, while doing it. Unfortunately I was at the bottom of the pile as we came to earth with a thump, and the combined weight of all four was on my wrist, which was completely smashed. I didn’t realise how serious it was first of all, and thought it was just a sprain. In fact I was asked if I wanted to go back on towards the end of the second half, but only said no because a couple of lads had turned up very late, & I thought it better to give them a run out, as it was at a proper ground. It started swelling up in the bar & Matt Hammond took one look at it & suggested that I go to hospital to get it looked at. So I cycled towards the Minor Injuries Clinic at Guys’ on my pushbike, with only one grip on the handlebars! I didn’t go straight there though, I stopped off at a pub to watch England play Wales in a World Cup qualifier on the telly. I got x-rayed at Guys, and they sent me straight over to St. Thomas’ where I was pumped full of morphine and operated on! The only thing I was worried about was if I would be allowed to fly with a cast on my arm. As I was due to go out to Azerbaijan to see England a couple of days later! Luckily I got a note from the doctors there giving me permission to go.

RABBLER: As I recall it your wrist was totally shattered. The bones were in so many pieces that the doctors said they hadn’t seen such an injury where they had all shattered in someone so young. It was something that they usually only saw in the very old.
FERENC: Nonsense. I don’t recall anything of the sort! Move on. Next question!

RABBLER: When you first started watching “Match of the Day” in the late sixties the age of thirty was seen as the age when players began to hang up their boots and were past their prime. Nowadays, with the advance of sport nutrition and science it’s the mid to late thirties. Yet you’re now 47. How much longer do you intend to keep on playing?
FERENC: My ambition is to beat Mark Hutton’s record of being the oldest ever goalscorer. (Rabbler: Mark was 56 when he scored a goal in the PSG Belgium Supporters’ tournament, in Namur, Belgium, in May 2006) Even when I’m that age I’ll still be fitter than half of the younger members of “The Rabblers” are now.

RABBLER: So who is your role model then? Stanley Matthews or Mark Hutton?
FERENC: Oh Mark Hutton! He’s my hero. Ernest Mandel is my international hero. And Hutty is my footballing one!

RABBLER: You’re going on the tour to Namur at the end of the month. How much are you looking forward to it?
FERENC: Oh hugely! I think it’s going to be a fabulous trip. I just hope that Nicolas (Lucas, our contact with Namur, also of PSG Belgium) doesn’t cheat again and pad the opposition out with half decent Belgian semi-pro players, like the ringers he brought over to Champion Hill when his Paris Saint Germain fans won the our ‘Pa’ Wilson Cup competition last summer. I would have thought that Nicolas should have learnt about fair play, justice and a sense of honour, having been over to England so often. But he is contaminated by his dealing with France, hopefully this time he will simply be an honourable Wallonian from Belgium.

RABBLER: You have been on a few of the previous tours. What are your abiding memories of them?
FERENC: I have to say I agree with Mick (O’Shaughnessy) with what he said in his interview here last month. All of us strolling through that really posh shopping area in Rimini in our full kit takes some beating! That was after we’d played our last match of the group, and the last bus couldn’t get us all the way home. I do recall that last clash. We were playing a French team and thought that because we were English we would have been out on the piss all day, & that they would slaughter us. In fact we all battled superbly for a 2-2 draw, which meant they finished bottom & not us! The icing on the cake for me was that I kicked their flash git all over the park! As mentioned in your previous interviews, by everyone who saw it, there was also Myles Quinns horrendously hilarious fashion shopping spree in Rimini. Who can forget his two sizes too small Union Jack top! And Dave Blythe failing in his hunt up and down the seafront looking for a local drug dealer to get some the age of 58!
The trip to Paris, when we played the Belgian PSG mob was superb. Possibly one of our best ever performances. It was marvellous to play at their actual training ground. Though we didn’t have a clue where it was, and went thought it was in Versailles! We did get to the right station, but it was miles away, and our tickets wouldn’t work at the barriers. It was hilarious trying to see Mishi & Matt squeeze through the barriers! It was a bizarre, but still magical day. After the game we stood quaffing beers by the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, as they produced crate after crate of beer from the back of their cars! And later they said they would take us somewhere to eat. I expected a nice little French bistro, but we ended up in McDonalds! When we went to the ‘big’ game in the Parc Des Prince in the evening I was lucky enough to get one of the tickets actually in the ‘Boulogne End’ with the Belgian PSG fans, with some of “The Rabblers” to our right in the next block. And who can forget the Algerian bar we took over near our hotel, in a rather rundown, ethnic suburb on the edge of Paris, not far from the Red Star ground? A bunch of white geezers bowl in, but as soon as they realised we weren’t French they made us really welcome, with some of the locals getting so drunk they actually started fighting each other. It was almost as if they’d laid on the cabaret just for us!

RABBLER: Aside from tours, and your wrsit injury, what supporters’ games can you recall? Do any stick out?
FERENC: A big, big personal one was when I scored a hat-trick when we won 4-3 at the Crystal Palace all-weather pitch against a team from the Sydenham Squash & Tennis Club, who were organised by Hamlet fan Dave Blythe. Whatever happened to him?
RABBLER: We’re not sure, he moved away from the area, & the last we heard he was in the Brighton area, but that was at least a year ago now…Was that the same all-weather pitch at the Palace that Phil Baker forgot to book a week or so ago, for out ‘non-game’ against his Lokomotiv Ladywell team?
FERENC: That’s the one. He really is a twat for mucking that up. Probably found it too difficult to get the money out of his wallet to book the pitch in advance, the tight git. I don’t know how Hutty’s put up with him as his mate, over the years. But other memories? There was one of our old five-a-side competitions that Mishi organised for a few years in the nineties. This one was on the all-weather pitches on Greendales, behind the ground. “The Rabblers” team I was in were playing London Manchester United in one of our games. We drew 1-1, and I scored the equaliser, which meant we had a penalty shoot out, so it must have been in the knock-out stages. When I hit the back of the net I did a Lee Chapman celebration. (Rabbler: That’s the ‘innocent’ one, with outstretched arms. You know..the one that’s like an aeroplane!) They had one poseur in their team with a Cantona shirt and who was playing with his collar turned up. He was waiting for the glory of scoring their last penalty. I took our last one and scored, which meant we went through, and he went to take their last one, not realising he’d cocked up the score, & it didn’t have to be taken as they were out anyway! He threw a quality strop, as he was denied his ‘moment!’ Sulk, sulk, sulk! Life really doesn’t get much sweeter than that! I have to say, I have really enjoyed all of this seasons games, even though the results haven’t gone our way. It’s a pleasure to be able to have a run out with such a great bunch of lads that are “The Rabblers”.
There was another game that springs to mind, I can’t quite recall the opposition, but I think it was the smug ones, AFC Wimbledon. It was about 5-1, or something like that, and they were gutted, desperately trying to hide it, and say ‘fair play, well done!’
And I know we’ve mentioned tours, but that game in Paris, when we drew with the PSG Belgians. A magnificent result at one of their spiritual homes, their training ground, against a much younger & fitter side, and with probably the dodgiest referee we’ve ever had the misfortune to have in the middle of any of the matches I’ve played in!

RABBLER: So what’s the difference between watching the Hamlet & Leeds United then?
FERENC: Erm, (another long pause, as if I’m mad!) that’s erm, aah, I’d have to go for the crowd atmosphere. Though both are as nutty as each other but in a quite different way. Both clubs have equally eccentric fans.

RABBLER: Accepting the difference in standards, which Dulwich player would you most like to have seen play for Leeds, and vice versa?
FERENC: The Leeds played I’d most like to have worn the Pink ‘n’ Blue is Vinnie Jones. The man had everything. Whatever level he played he put his heart & soul into his game. Totally. I put him above any individual player from any Leeds team. From Champion Hill to Elland road…probably Peter Crouch, but I never saw him play for us, and he was only a loan player. So I’d have to go with ‘Blobby’ himself, Peter Garland. If he’d kept himself fit he’d have been an absolutely brilliant player. He would, and should, have been superb at the top level. He was the best player I’ve seen who never made use of his talent.

RABBLER: FA Cup Third Round Proper 2009- “Number 36” ….. “Leeds United”; “Will play….” “Number sixteen”… “Ooh…it’s the last non-leaguers Dulwich Hamlet!” Your reaction?
FERENC: Um….I’d actually be really disappointed. I’d want the first game to be Champion Hill, Dulwich to earn an honourable draw, and then get well beaten in the replay at Elland Road, and go out of the Cup with glory, but for Leeds not to be too embarrassed. The only problem with this would be I’d be asked to get hundreds of tickets for the match at Champion Hill! But, in reality, it would just be nice for Dulwich to get to the First Round Proper and play a Football League team before I die.

RABBLER: So sort of similar to the Fourth Round of 1975, when Milton Keynes Dons, then in the southern League under their previous name of Wimbledon, drew at Elland Road, before bowing out in a replay at Selhurst Park, but in reverse. I believe you was at that match at Crystal Palace. Wasn’t that your first ever appearance on television?
FERENC: (laughs out loud) I believe it might have been! I ran onto the pitch at the final whistle and patted Billy Bremner on the back! I was 14 at the time. I’ve never actually seen a clip of it, but I was the talk of the school the next day!

RABBLER: Weekends away with “The Rabble” must seem like old hat to you. You’ve been all over the world with Leeds United & England. What are some of the weirder experiences you can recall with club & country?
FERENC: Oh dear, I’ll have to think about that, that’s a hard one to throw at me. Most recently I’d say getting attacked by 300 Spartak Moscow fans down on their underground, when there were only twenty of us! That was on the way to the recent England game there! That was quite hairy, and if anyone’s interested theres’ even clips of it on YouTube out there somewhere!
Then there was Leeds game in the UEFA Cup, back in 1992, on my birthday actually, at Metalurgs, in the Ukraine. There were two types of local beer on sale at the game. One was about 6%, & the other 8%, both only sold in half litre bottles. If you’re not familiar with beer it makes pints of Stella Artois seem like cups of tea! I think the crowd was a bout 6,000. But most of them were steaming drunk, both the Leeds lot & the locals, and not just tipsy, but rolling drunk!
Probably the strangest thing I’ve seen on the way to a match was a passenger that was on our local train, on the way to an England Under 21s match in Bulgaria. As we got off at the local station a huge brown bear got out of a goods wagon at the far end and just started ambling down towards us. We all grabbed our cameras, before moving away a bit sharpish!
And I recall another Under 21 clash in Poland, the god awful town of Katowice, which Mishi was at actually, and there were about 200 England fans there. Mostly ‘lads’, shall we say. It was a terrible match, not helped that Emile Heskey was having a ‘mare. It was so bad that most England fans were actually contemplating leaving at half-time! But at the interval two mobs of Poles arrived, and lots of police, but they didn’t attack us, they spent the rest of the match trying to fight each other! The next day there was a mad moment before the proper international. We were drinking in a small basement bar when a Pole, from Kracow came in a ‘gave it large’. There were no more than fifteen of us. We told him to leave, then a few more of them were outside. We thought we were about to be attacked, so we stood together and had to defend ourselves, thinking there was only a small group of them about to ambush us. But, oops, there was at least 200 of them! But we managed to back them off, then the police moved in. Luckily the woman who ran the bar had been a student in England, so she was alright, and told the police that we had been provoked, & were defending ourselves. Though after they had gone she got rather emotional, I think she was rather shocked at how innocent drinkers in her bar had been targeted.
One England game in Moldova was a bit strange. After the game they turned the lights out. Not just the floodlights, but everything. The street lights, the house lights, the lot! They must have been having power shortages in the country at the time. As a consequence it really was pitch black, & you couldn’t see in front of your face, unless you had a cigarette lighter. Hundreds upon hundreds of people were milling around, not having a clue where their cars and coaches were. It was mayhem. I’m not sure how we got out of there, but I was surprised we weren’t still milling around as dawn broke! To cap a bad trip, our plane was ‘cancelled’ as the England team commandeered the supporters’ one, as theirs had developed faults. So we were stuck in a Moldovan airport for six hours! The bars quickly sold out, but somehow, from god knows where. They managed to rustle up a load of Russian champagne at a pound a bottle! Everyone was wolfing it down, and were well on the way by the time we got on the plane home!
An example, from donkeys years ago, about how lapse security was. It was the 1988 European Championships, in Germany. We were playing Holland, in Dusseldorf, and there were untold England fans without tickets. The turnstiles was just a row of police and stewards, who took a brief look at your match day ticket & that was it! What they never did was rip off the stubs as they were supposed to! So we were just collecting them up from people who didn’t want to keep them as souvenirs, and going back out to redistribute them. How there was not a crush, like Hillsborough, in the England section I will never know.
I’m going on a bit now, & I’m sure there’s lots more I could recall, but I’ll finish up with my trip to Azerbaijan with England. There was no hint of trouble, so we went into their end, as it was easier, it just happened to be the nearest entrance. We weren’t looking for trouble, and were having a good laugh with the locals, which is how it should be. Stood by us was a group of Azerbaijani boxers. And at half time they suggested we have a boxing match! Not a ‘tear up’, as in hooliganism. But a genuine ‘one on one’ series of bouts under traditional Marquis of Queensbury type rules! We, naturally, declined. Luckily they were k about it! The day before we’d tried to get to the England Under 21 match. Unfortunately not only were we running late, but our taxi driver ‘lost something in the communication’ & took us to the wrong ground! So we quickly piled through an open gate, and there were loads of people performing something on the pitch, which we presumed was the half-time entertainment, as we were that late. Wrong! It turns out we’d been dumped at the wrong place, & there was no game there at all, but we’d dashed slap bang into the middle of a celebrity Muslim wedding ceremony for two local pop singers & television stars, and brought the proceedings to a halt! There were about five or six thousand people present & they all started booing, as we had caused a grave offence, as a couple of us were committing the ‘cardinal sin’ of wearing shorts! We left pretty sharpish, & I in hindsight, were lucky not to get arrested or even lynched! We had inadvertently become the second item on the main news bulletins that night!

RABBLER: And simply some of the most enjoyable trips on your travels?
FERENC: Oh definitely the Leeds run to the semi finals of the Champions League in the 2000/01 season. We didn’t even think we get out of the qualifying group! Around that time I saw Leeds play at the Bernabeu, the San Siro, the Mestalla at Valencia, Deportivo La Coruna, Anderlecht & the Olympic Stadium in Munich! A far cry from the Johnson Paints Trophy, which we played in this season! I’ve also seen Leeds paly at Cheltenham Town this season, where I Dulwich play in the trophy a few years ago. That Hamlet trip was one of my best ever Dulwich trips. I’ve been to places like Hereford, and even Yeovil Town-in the Isthmian League no less- with Dulwich. And now Leeds are playing them on a level playing field in league matches! One trip to Yeovil was one of my proudest moments with Dulwich ,when we stood up to the racist abuse dished out by the locals. As we did against Welling, in the London Cup final at Bromley.

RABBLER: Wasn’t that when you aquired a nickname ‘One Punch Fel’? What was all that about?
FERENC: I’ve no idea. You must be mistaken. Is this some sort of re-writing of history?

RABBLER: Leeds have no love for Manchester United. And closer to home some of their Yorkshire rivals like Sheffield United. Are these the one you hate, and who do you despise in your Hamlet hat?
FERENC: Definitely Man. U!!! Scousers too. Generally. Not specifically Everton or Liverpool. Though I do also have a hint of respect for Man. United; as I do for other rivals like Chelsea and Pompey. They are solid, loyal fan. You’re wrong about the other /Yorkshire teams. They’re nothing really, a bit insignificant. Bottom line is they’re just jealous, with a bit chip on their shoulder, about Leeds.
As for Dulwich-there’s absolutely no question! Tooting, & erm, Tooting! Far and away, absolutely streets ahead of anyone else I hate! Others? AFC Wimbledon, for their complete & utter arrogance. And Gloucester City, for THAT game in the Trophy, even though I wasn’t there. I’d like to play Gloucester agin one day. I do regret missing that one.

RABBLER: We’ve mentioned some big Leeds European games. What Hamlet matches stick out for you over the years?
FERENC: I’ve got to go with the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, back in ’98, when we beat Newport (Isle of Wight), followed by the anticipation of the draw, & it actually being made live on telly, in the bar afterwards. The first day at the new stadium of course, which also happened to be my birthday. And for awaydays, the first time we played at Tootings new ground and beat them in the Trophy. A never to be forgotten afternoon! One that sticks in the mind, for the wrong reason, is losing to Ilford in a quarter final replay of the Amateur Cup, back in 1974, its last season. We really were better than them, and they went on to reach Wembley. Still the most disappointing Dulwich game I’ve ever been at. And the Southport game, in that First Round of the Cup. It was an amazing day even though we lost. The huge crowd and all the media interest, with the cameras there as well. Oddly enough one of the best games was the Wealdstone promotion play-off which we lost on penalties. Credit to the Wealdstone fans. It was the best atmosphere, from both sets of fans, I’ve seen at the ground. I really respected the Wealdstone fans for celebrating without taking the mick. It takes a big hearted and good set of fans to do that. Very few clubs are capable of doing that. I will always respect Wealdstone for that, always. In a sense they’re the polar opposite of AFC Wimbledon & are a shining example of how a big club should act when it goes down a few divisions. I’ve also got respect for Aldershot town. Their fans were respectful when they started off in the Isthmian, and to be honest there’s a few Dulwich fans who should learn some respect as well when we go to a small club, & when we play at home to littler clubs, who are playing at the highest level they’ve been at & are proud of that, but have a much smaller fan base than us. They are doing the best with the resources they have got.

RABBLER: Is it true that in the mid-seventies your nickname behind the goal was “Joe 90”? Why was that?
FERENC: (With a bit of a shocked look on his face!) Because I had these black rimmed, terrible thick glasses! But it could have been I was a really talented kid as well. I had completely forgotten that! Looking back to that time though, we had the most virulently racist fans in the mid seventies, so I never really joined in with them. But that was the seventies, and you didn’t really challenge it. I was only young really, too. No excuses, but that’s what it was like then. Times have moved on, like when we stood up to the racist Yeovil fans at their place, despite being badly outnumbered. And that was thanks to Richard Watts, who was the first of us to stand up and shout ‘RACIST SCUM!” and we all joined it. I really admire the lad for that. We weren’t quite sure what to do, But Richard stood up to be counted and took action. They were bigger & older than most of us, and we were outnumbered. If they had charged up at us we would probably have got battered, but Richard was inspirational, and we all backed him up. He deserves to be fully credited in “Rabble” folklore.

RABBLER: So back to those goggles then. Wearing them you would have borne a bit of a passing resemblance to everybody’s favourite idiot Hamlet fan Sketchley?
FERENC: No, absolutely completely untrue! Nothing like Sketchley! Not even close! I’m so not like Sketchley! I’m the exact opposite! I’m hurt and stunned! Shocked that you could even ask the question!

RABBLER: Over the years it can’t have been easy being a Leeds & England fan with both having a terrible reputation for hooliganism. It must have been pretty hairy at times. How have you managed to avoid trouble through the decades of your following them both?
FERENC: A bit of luck by not being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as can unfortunately happen, and just being very, very careful. You develop a sense of trying to anticipate when trouble will occur. I guess I’ve just been lucky & managed to avoid most of it.

RABBLER: How’s your spelling? Is it true that when you were a teenager you spray painted “SUPER LEEDS” on a garage wall on Denmark Hill, but actually messed it up, and spelt “Leeds” with three “EEE’s?”
FERENC: Well I wouldn’t want to be accused of causing any criminal damage, so that would have been absolutely impossible! Are you sure you have the right person? It’s a long time ago, but I can’t recall having done any such things. Perhaps someone had similar writing to me at the time, and you’re getting confused…

RABBLER: Was that the same Denmark Hill on which the sidepanel of your pride & joy Lambretta scooter, which you had in your younger parka wearing Mod days, fell off and you had to hastily run down the road to retrieve it, as the passing cars & buses were hooting at you?
FERENC: Yes, I have some sort of vague recollection of that, at least. Erm, do you have any more proper questions to ask?

RABBLER: If you insist! You appear to enjoy watching Leeds much more this season in the Third Division, to give ‘Division One’ it’s traditional & proper name, rather than being ripped off and forced to sit down & be quiet at Premiership grounds. Do you think this general disillusionment, and the expense of going to see your Arsenals & Chelseas could filter down all the way to Champion Hill and help clubs like Dulwich?
FERENC: Definitely. It actually just needs a bit of vision at Dulwich. There’s a huge market out there. Hopefully someone at the club will grasp this. It’s not just about youngsters, but vast amounts of Eastern Europeans, who are football crazy, would love the atmosphere and grass roots aspect of clubs like Dulwich.

RABBLER: So that’s your hopes for the future, how would you like to finish this interview? Maybe by summing up the past?
FERENC: Looking back supporting Dulwich is one of the best decisions I made in my life. Both watching the First Team & playing in the Supporters’ Team. It’s also been wonderful to see my nephew Raymond wear the famous Pink ‘n’ Blue for the Youth Team & the Reserves. How far he’ll go I don’t know, but just to see him play for the team who our family have supported since we were kids makes me proud. I know Mishi certainly is too! With regard to the fans, well there’s a great bunch of people down here at Champion Hill. The sheer eclectic mix of the supporters’ is amazing & anyone who doesn’t support Dulwich Hamlet is missing out on something in life. Life is supposed to be enjoyed, and people certainly do that. It shouldn’t all be about money, and not all about winning. It’s about having fun, respect for people and living life to the full. I’d like to think that being a Dulwich Hamlet supporter encompasses that all! Thanks for the interview, I’ve really enjoyed it!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Strength in numbers!

It's easy to say the result isn't always important, but on Saturday morning at Burgess Park against Millwall Online FC, you could say that really is true. Or, perhaps, getting your 'damage limitation' in early!
The Millwall Online website can be viewed at
All monies raised will be going to the Royal Marsden in Sutton who are treating the Millwall organiser’s God daughter for leukaemia. Anyone who would like to make a donation can go to and do so.
It is also the Hospital that former Hamlet Chairman & Manager Martin Eede has been treated by for cancer,hopefully he will be getting stronger now at home, and will be 'dining out' for many years about the day he was evacuated from the Marsden in Fulham Road when it caught fire. I know he was pleased to see one or two of "The Rabblers" who managed to find the time to pop over to Chelsea to visit him when he was hospitalised, after coming out of intensive care.
I understand that all of our matchday subs are being given over to the Millwall organisers, and people are more than welcome to contribute a few pennies extra, if they have anything to spare.
Andy Tucker, in charge of sorting the squad out, has asked as many players as possible to turn out, and everyone will be guaranteed at least half a game, if they want to be on the field that much.
The squad at the moment is as follows:
Matt Hammond, Steve Rickerby, Ferenc Morath, Joel Virgo, James O’Shaughnessy, Jason Cobb, Jack McInroy, Chris Wheeler, Andy Murphy, Matt Virgo, Mark Hutton, Andy Tucker, Lawrence Marsh, Chris Tabrett, Dawn Taylor, Phil Baker, Paul Griffin and Shaun Dooley.
There is only space for one or two more players. Please contact Andy as soon as possible to let him know that you want to have a run out.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Anoraks' corner!

If you look down the links on the right hand side of this blog you may notice that a lot more have been added!
The vast majority are about football, many non-league, and plenty about grounds! There's also some blogs from other clubs out there. And, hopefully, some weird and wonderful eccentric sites. I've also added some from local sports clubs; and others that will be of interest to those interested in London in general.
It's not a 'definitive list', or anything that remotely resembles a rational choice.
Truth is it's me indulging myself in trying to find sites that I like, & as a bit of a bonus think you will enjoy.
If there's more you want added feel free to let me know & I will.
And in case you're I haven't looked at them all in depth.
They're just a selection, and I will keep on adding to them over the next few weeks, & months, so expect the 'recommendations' to grow!
As I said...enjoy!
And if there's a site from a particular club or country that you follow then let me know & I'll add it just for you!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Our foreign friends...

Our good friend Nicolas Lucas, indeed occasional player for "The Rabblers" despite living in Belgium, keeps us all in touch with his home town team Union Royale Namur on the unofficial Hamlet messageboard.
A couple of days ago a poster called AnonSteve asked if there was sort of link between Namur & the Hamlet.
Nicolas relpied almost immediately:

"Yes from January yes!!!

There's a good link even a friendly link between Dulwich and Paris Saint Germain Belgium. And as chairman of PSG Belgium, I'm also a Namur fan, I though that that would be nice and sweet to meet the Namur fans. And to make this link permanent, we've decided to arrange a friendly game bewteen Namur and Dulwich.
So it's a new bridge in Belgium for Dulwich!!! "

After having read that I thought I would try to briefly document our foreign links, & the times we have played on foreign shores.

So here goes!

The Supporters' Team story began back in May 1989. But it wasn't until thirteen years later that we made our playing debut on mainland Europe. It wasn't for lack of trying, though in truth it was EXACTLY because of lack of trying! For a number of years prior to the inaugrial tour we often talked about going abroad, usually after a jar or two too many in the bar after a game!
But in late 2001 the letters were sent out, and a trip was finally organised to Amsterdam for May 2002. The logic being that it was an attractive place to visit, and easy to get to. If we couldn't raise enough interest to go there we wouldn't travel at all; and once that first journey was made then everyone would be sure to get the bug, and more would follow. How accurate that turned out to be!
So it was on Saturday 25th May a part of a foreign field became a part of England, as we stepped onto the pitch for the first of four matches in an open tournament, organised by a company called Eurosportring. We failed to qualify for the knockout stages, in fact we came bottom of our group. We lost all four games by the same score of 2-0, but in our defence, the two finalists of the entire competition of twenty teams, emerged from our 'group of death'.
The following year we stuck with Eurosportring, and entered another competition in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague. Again we came bottom of our group, in a larger competition with six groups, thus failing to qualify for the knockout competition the next day, which was no hardship for us! But we did manage to earn a draw with a Swiss outfit, with Paul Griffin going down in folklore as the scorer of our first ever European goal!
For 2004 we entered our last Eurosportring competition. We journeyed to the Adriatic coast of Italy, and played in Rimini As per usual we failed to make the knockout stages, but this was more than made up for the triumphant achievements of not only scoring more than one goal, but earning our first ever point abroad, and thus not being bottom!
Now time for a bit of a long-winded explanation of how a friendship was started...
In early 2004 I saw a report in the 'Independent on Sunday' that the ancient Stade de Colombes, in Paris, that was used for the 1924 Summer Olympics, was due for demolition. It was very run down, and only the main stand, with part of the terracing, was left standing. I had never been to Paris before, so decided I would finally visit the place, and see the old ground before it was demolished. It appeared that an old club Called Racing still used the ground, & so I picked one of the Sundays they were listed as being at home & made arrangements. I booked an overnight coach from Victoria for the Saturday night, having seen the Hamlet play that day, and would return overnight on the Sunday. And here came the fickle hand of fate. In between booking the brief trip & actually going there, the Racing match was switched to the Saturday! I checked the fixtures, and fellow Hamlet fan Roger Deason suggested I go to see Red Star, a former giant of French football many moons ago, now playing in the lowly Paris & district Division Honneur; a sort of regional level six, in the French footballing pyramid. I went there & loved it! An traditional old football stadium, with a band of noisy fans! I went into their club shop & bought a scarf & t-shirt, but the man there spoke no English. I kept to myself, but at half-time the club shop man came up to me with another chap, & introduced to me John Hanson. An Englishman, now settled over there, originally from the Worksop area! We got on straight away, and I said to him, half in jest, that if ever they got up a supporters' team then we would come over and play them!
And about a year later, in 2005, that's exactly what we did! We spent a weekend in Paris, and took part in our first ever full ninety minute match against foreign opposition. It was a cracking day, with the benefit of hindsight, as we had no idea at all how things would pan out. We could have been stuffed ten nil, all we wanted was a close game. And that is what we got, as we won by the odd goal in five! They then treated us to lunch in their clubhouse, before we retired to the bar over the road, and then watch their 'big boys' win in the evening. A truly emotional day!
For our 2005 summer tour we ventured, once again, to pastures new. This time to Liege, in Belgium. But not an 'open tournament'. This was a supporters' one, organised by RFC Liege, who had specifically invited us over. It seems that Dulwich Hamlet are a very important part of their history, as one of their early members was previously a Dulwich Hamlet man! Sadly his name has been lost 'in the mists of time'. We did not win the competition, but winning mattered not, as it was the Johan Felix Memorial Tournament. Johan being one of their loyal fans, who had been tragically murdered. We made a good impression though, and were proud reciprients of the Fair Play award.
In this competition, 'guesting' for the Anderlecht supporters' team, was a certain Mr. Nicolas Lucas, from Namur, also in Belgium. He got talking to us all, & it turned out he was the Chairman of the Belgian Branch of the Paris Saint Germain Supporters' Club. And thus started, what has become a long & loyal friendship with him, and his partner Danuta.
In the early part of the 2005/06 season Nicolas brought over a team from his PSG Belgian group, and we took thenm on in a match at Belair Park, where we ran out narrow victors, our first ever match on home soil against a foreign team.
For the summer of 2006 we returned to Belgium. This timeto the Namur region, entering two teams in the Belgian PSG five-a-side competition. Whilst both teams failed to progress far, it will be remembered on the footballing field, for Mark Hutton getting on the scoresheet for the B side, against the host club, CS Onhaye, of the Belgian fifth division. Our oldest ever European tour goalscorer at the then age of 56!
In early 2007 we had another thrilling encounter with the Belgian PSG boys, where honours were shared in a 2-2 draw. We were honoured with the venue being the actual training ground of the Paris Saint Germain club, on the outskirts of Paris! After much merriment in the afternoon we saw their 'big team' at the Parc des Prince stadium, for another wonderful day in Paris.
Our summer trip for 2007 was to be our furthest yet. To Tallin, the beautiful capital of Estonia, in the former Soviet Union. "The Rabblers" have actually been in existence longer than the current nation, as Estonia only regained its independence on 20th August 1991!
But before we travelled there we were honoured to stage our first ever Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' International Tournament, where three teams competed for the inaugrial 'Pa' Wilson Cup. Our guests were PSG Belgium, and JK Jalgpallihaigla, who are the supporters' team of the Estonian National Team; who we had never met before, & to be honest, were somewhat amazed that they accepted our invitation to England!
The whole shebang was staged at our actual Champion Hill Stadium, with grateful thanks to the Managing Director of Dulwich Hamlet, Mr. Nick McCormack, for allowing us full use of all the ground facilities free of charge!
It was a wonderful event, and it mattered not that we came third. (out of three!) It would have been rude to win your own tournament after all! In a cracking final the Belgians came from behind to overcome our Baltic visitors by seven goals to five!
And then in July last year we made our most recent trip abroad. To Estonia, as stated. Where we were made so welcome, it's hard to believe we'd only met each other for a few hours previously, back in London SE22 for our tournament a couple of months before. We finally went down by a ten goals to six margin, with Larry Marsh going down in Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team history, not just for scoring ALL SIX of our goals, but becoming the first ever "Rabbler" to bag a double hat-trick in a match!
And so,now to future trips....
Larry Marsh & Andy tucker have ably organised tours since the one to RFC Liege in May 2005. And at the end of this month they will lead us into Belgium once more. This time to take on our counterparts from UR Namur, newly promoted to the Belgian Second Division in the summer. The match will be on the morning of the 26th, and we will cheer on their 'big boys' in the evening. So it will be a town we have been to before, but with new opponents. And with Nicolas Lucas once again being the point of contact we are sure of a warm welcome & a great time!
This will be the last game with Andy & Larry at the helm of our team, and after this they will step down to be 'mere players'. The baton is handed over to Mick O'Shaughnessy & Mark Hutton. Tentative summer plans are being put together to go back to Tallin, for another game against JK Jalgpallihaigla, in late July. But we are also hoping to have a match on the same wekend in either Riga, the capital of Latvia; or in Helsinki, a boat trip away in Finland.
As they always this space!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

IFA Cup draw-the last sixteen

Having been fortunate enough to receive a bye in the last round of the competition the draw has now been made for the 2nd round of the Internet Football Association Cup:

1. Nottingham Forest or Port Vale v. Sheffield United or Motherwell.
2. Aberdeen or Grimsby Town v. Hibernian.
3. Heart of Midlothian v. Bury A.
4. Rochdale v. Halifax town or Ayr United.
5. Preston North End v. Livingston
6.Tranmere Rovers v. Dundee United.
7. Hampton & richmond Borough v. AFC Wimbledon or Bury B.
8. DULWICH HAMLET v. Watford.

As Mick & Mark have already pencilled in a home IFA League match versus Watford, I would guess it would make sense to make this game a 'double' one, for both league points and for the right to progress in the Cup, as we have done with some ties in previous seasons.

Watch this space, as they say!

And if you're looking in here for the first time, & might want to have a run out for "The Rabblers" feel free to contact either of them, or speak to them at a First Team match, home or away, when either or both of them are usually there.


Mick O'Shaugnessy:

Mark Hutton:

And finally:
If you are thinking of 'cutting & pasting' the draw onto the Hamlet unofficial messageboard please do not, as leaving it on here will encourage people to have a look at this site, who may not know about the Supporters' Team. Thank you.

Ladywell letdown!

With everyone having eagerly been looking forward to another clash with Lokomotiv Ladywell, AKA the Ladywell 'Ladyboys' this coming Thursday at the all-weather pitch at the Crystal Palace National Sportcentre, it was a disappointment to hear the game had to be cancelled after their organiser, and a member of "The Rabblers" to boot!, Phil Baker had failed to actually book the pitch!
We are not sure if this was merely down to his traditional excessive-even by his standards-intake of alcohol over the festive season, or whether he was just all bluster, & talked a good game in the bar, & just bottled it at the last moment!
It is a shame when opponents prove to be so unreliable, and I would hope that we do not entrust a game into his hands in the future!
Only the other week he sent an email round trying to beg "Rabblers" players for their own tour to Bologna in a few weeks time. For an outfit who can't even raise a side for a match at Crystal Palace, down the road, what chance have they in getting a team out half way across Europe!
All in all a bit of a shambles from the honorary Rear-Admiral (self styled) of the Belgian Navy!

Ou only warm up now before we head across to Europe ourselves will be on Saturday 19th January, with a friendly match against, I think it is, Millwall Online.

Andy will be sending confirmation of this in a day or two.

So just to re-iterate: the warm-up game for our European warm-up match has been cancelled due to the incompetence of our very own 'Big Nose' Baker!