It takes a certain kind of person to willingly traipse out of the warmth and security of London on a Christmas Saturday and head off to the far-flung rural flatlands of Essex in pursuit of lower league entertainment.
Usually that person is me, but this time I was unable to attend Dulwich Hamlet’s away game to Grays Athletic on account that I was still partying in Brixton from the night before at kick off.
Happily, some less booze-inclined/saturated fans were able to attend and they’ve posted their thoughts about the game on the Hamlet forum.
Grays Athletic play in the neighbouring town of Aveley after leaving the New Recreation Ground at the end of the 2009–10 season. As you can see, their ground is a little on the charisma challenged side.
Travelling Hamlet faithful boost the crowd to 254.
Ad ever, PP provided a comprehensive match report:
You often see clear penalties not given, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a clear legitimate tackle penalised for a penalty.
Brown won the ball as clean as a whistle and it flew straight towards the corner flag. And it was the linesman who signalled for it, and he should have had a good view. That’s a shocker.
It was a bizarre day all round. I spent most of the afternoon fuming, ranting and becoming increasingly angry, before a wonderful too-good-to-be-true climax.
I was one of about twenty of us who got stuck on a train that broke down about five seconds after we pulled out of West Ham station, eventually arriving at Barking 52 minutes late, then we all got kicked off and had to wait for the next scheduled train (i.e. the one an hour after the one we’d originally boarded), which arrived a couple of minutes late at Rainham, meaning we just missed the tight bus connection, seeing it pull away from the stop as we walked out of the station. We eventually got into the ground less than ten minutes before half time.
No real need to describe the action, much of which I missed anyway, just watch the video. Although as Vornstyle points out, McDonald hit the post with an almost identical shot to his goal a couple of minutes before hand, then volleyed the rebound just wide with his other foot.
It seemed we’d been second best in the first half, but I thought we looked the better side after the break on the poorest pitch in the division. Both teams repeatedly lost control or miscued the ball, including one of their defenders in letting McDonald in for the first goal.
The penalty was a shocker, but what’s the point in arguing at such length and getting yourself sent off? The penalty kick itself was delayed for several minutes, then after it had been converted there was another delay as players argued with the ref in the centre circle. According to another player, Carew had already called the ref a “fat prick” about five times before he eventually lost patience and dismissed him.
Despite the loss of composure Hamlet played very well in making light of the numerical disadvantage after that. At one point, at 1-1, Scannell was rushing to fetch the ball back for their keeper to take a goal kick, sending out a clear message that we felt we could win.
And it was Scannell who bagged the wonderfully silly winner in the 90th minute, floating in a massive inswinging free kick from the left that everyone missed with the ball bouncing just in front of the keeper and inside the post.
To add to the sense of divine justice, this was the keeper who should have been sent off, but wasn’t at our place back in August….
Apart from the ridiculous penalty incident the game seemed to be a pretty fair contest in the right spirit.
Their miniature substitute who conceded the free kick for our winner threw his toys out of the pram after the final whistle and seemed to want to pick a fight with our players, but everyone else seemed to be shaking hands and being friendly.
Grays are the only team to really outplay us in the league so far (in August) so I was well pleased with that result and performance. Only downside is Carew will now miss the trip to Tonbridge, and possibly the following game at home to Enfield if he gets more than a one match ban.
[Opposition Goalie Towel was a very modest dark green number – more of a large flannel, really – but hung on the netting in the traditional manner]
It was a top away day out with all the elements needed: broken down train, missed bus, saved penalty (apparently – we were still at the bus stop), dodgy pen, late winner, darts in the pub and meeting people off the Internet in real life. Oh and a few alcohols too.
More fan comments from the forum:
V76: Broken down train, very late arrival, enraging penalty decision, pointless red cards. All these things added to a sense of almost cosmic injustice that set the scene for a last minute winner. It’s the kind of happy ending even a hackneyed romcom scriptwriter would be embarrassed to set down on paper that football, which exists somewhere between reality and fiction, can somehow get away with.
GT: Creat to have the video posted up, if only to show what an appalling decision the second penalty was. One can understand how riled the bench must have been given the excellent position of the assistant to clearly see a clean tackle.
League table, 20th Dec 2015. It’s tighter than a gnat’s chuff! [—]
Get behind the Hamlet!
- Chat about the Grays Athletic vs Hamlet game 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