Dulwich Hamlet broke their home attendance record yesterday as a sold out crowd of 3,000 watched the home team draw against league leaders Maidstone United.
The result just about guaranteed Maidstone promotion, and the final whistle saw scenes reminiscent of a top notch ecstasy rave of the 90s as both sets of fans took to the pitch and hugged and applauded each other.
With Maidstone bringing along a sizeable away following, the previous home attendance record (set in September last year against Hampton & Richmond) tumbled as Champion Hill was filled in a carnival of noise and colour.
Hamlet fans get the party started before the kick off.
Maidstone fans pack into the covered end.
Hamlet’s upturn from their disastrous run of form continued, with a confident first half performance causing Maidstone problems.
The wind behind Hamlet in the first half was of a toupee-removing girth, with Maidstone clearances often heading off in unpredictable directions.
Dulwich defended well against Maidstone’s well organised front line, although it was a half of few real chances at either end.
Making the noise in the Hamlet end.
A cheeky appeal by the crowd for a red card to be thrust in the phizog of a Maidstone player after he got a bit over friendly in the hoof department.
Flags flying on the Hamlet terraces.
Some high living toffs in the directors’ box wave down at the plebs below.
The legendary Hamlet whippet.
View through the dugout.
The capacity crowd of 3,000.
The Maidstone keeper makes an athletic save.
A fine Maidstone hairdo.
The enormous pink and blue flag is unfurled for the second half.
The second half was much the same as the first- i.e. not particularly exciting with few chances – but the atmosphere in the ground was fantastic, with both sets of fans making themselves heard.
Hamlet fans keep up the noise as full time approaches.
A Hamlet chance goes begging at the death.
In the excitement of the afternoon, I forgot to register the customary Divot Of The Day, so I’m afraid this still life entitled, ‘Divot-esque Vista With Discarded Beer Can’ is the best I can offer.
Full time and it’s 0-0. For Hamlet they’re now just one point off a play off position, and for Maidstone promotion awaits, so there was plenty of reasons to get the party started. And party we did.
Maidstone fans applaud the home crowd, who were sportingly singing, “You won the league, at Champion Hill.” Maidstone fans responded with, “We love you Hamlet, we do…”
The vibe was so warm and celebratory, it was like a giant MDMA cloud had dropped its sparkly contents over the stadium – and a real testament to why non league football is such fun.
Handshakes and hugs on the pitch.
Posting on Facebook, a Hamlet fan summed up the wonderful atmosphere:
A smattering of late night tipply-emosh words from me… Today was one of the most wonderful days I’ve known in the few years I’ve been supporting Dulwich Hamlet. Not because of the game itself or the result (even though we’re into the guts of the season and need the points to get in the play-offs and the pretty much drab 0-0 helped a bit) but because it was an all-ticket 3,000 capacity sell-out and therefore a massive day for the club and the club put on one hell of a show.
Let’s put this in perspective. We are a step 7 club. That attendance of 3,000 (and we’d have had more if capacity were bigger!) beats ALL games in the Conference today. And 3 games in football league 2. And wouldn’t have looked out of place against half the games in league 1. And within this swollen excitable crowd it was still personable enough and warm enough to enable me to meet up with friends new and old.
We caught up with Maidstone fans we’ve known online and offline for a while and shared a drink and a laugh. And the whole game was full of bubbly energy without any need for segregation or a hint of violence. For future football!
Yes, there are some problems with catering for these growing vociferous crowds at Champion Hill, especially at the bar. But my heck, what a problem to have. And how incredibly well it was all managed by the volunteers and fans on the ground who give so much to the club. Well done one and all
Children head for the net.
A pink and blue piggy back.
Maidstone fans crowd over to the grandstand to applaud their team.
A new game of football breaks out.
Praying for the play offs.
With just one game to go, here’s how the table looks:
The play off permutations:
Dulwich Hamlet are away to 16th placed Tonbridge. A win guarantees that they’ll make the play offs, as does a draw.
Sixth placed Met Police are also home to a relegated team, AFC Hornchurch, but even with their mighty goal difference, they’d need Hamlet to lose and Enfield fail to win.
Get behind the Hamlet!
- Chat about the Hamlet vs Maidstone game on the Dulwich Hamlet forum
- Official match report
- Dulwich Hamlet FC forum
- Dulwich Hamlet FC songbook – the great chants from Champion Hill
- All the photos and match reports at dulwichhamlet.org