Sport

Dulwich Leisure Centre

Dulwich Leisure Centre, East Dulwich Road, London SE22 9AN; 020 8693 1833. Open Mon-Fri 7.15am-10.00pm; Sat 9am-5.15pm; Sun 8am-5.15pm.

Dulwich Hamlet Football Club

Dulwich Hamlet FC

Capacity is 3000 (500 seated). Address: Champion Hill Stadium, Edgar Kail Way, Dog Kennel Hill, London SE22 8BD. Link: Dulwich Hamlet Football Club.

Dulwich Hamlet At The Crossroads by Susie Scott

On the pitch it’s been a good season for Dulwich Hamlet to date. Sitting well-placed in the table to launch a title challenge after a flying start to the season, results since Christmas have continued to match the teams around them in the table. February has seen wins against East Thurrock United both home and away, and victory against Thamesmead Town either side of a narrow defeat at Canvey Island. Off the pitch however there has been uncertainty around what the future holds for the club and whether it remains at its traditional home in East Dulwich.

Ground Ownership

The Dulwich Hamlet Supporters Trust has recently reported that the freehold of the Champion Hill ground has been or shortly will be acquired by the Hadley Property Group and at this point the intentions of the development group are unknown. The worry for fans is that the club, already struggling financially despite an excellent league campaign, will end up homeless. The have been unconfirmed reports that the property deal will take the club to a new home at the Greendale Playing Fields but as things stand, nobody seems to really know what the future holds.

Who are the Supporters’ Trust?

The Supporters’ Trust was established in 2003 as a not for profit, independent and democratic organisation aiming to increase supporter involvement in the club with a view to aiding its successful and sustainable future. It campaigned – with some level of success – for planning protection for the ground in 2007; it has monitored ownership changes at the club and developments with the freehold; and it has set up a popular lottery (the 100 Club) which has raised up to £25,000 to date. The idea is that the money can be put into the club on when the club and the trust can agree the terms of this.

As is the case for many non-league football clubs, finances are difficult at Dulwich Hamlet. The day to day running of the club sees costs that many fans would be unaware of. Buildings have to be maintained, playing surfaces managed, floodlights and pylons kept in good condition, and footballing and office equipment bought. Insurance costs can also be prohibitive. Clubs have to be insured for a range of risks including employer’s liability, personal accident and loss of revenue. Equipment along with risks associated with tour and travel have to be insured also. The Supporters’ Trust has helped out in a number of ways. It has sponsored the club’s away kit and paid for advertising in local media to help boost match day attendances. The Trust also bought a new shed to allow the club shop to re-open and has used this to provide fund for both the club and the Trust. The Trust has also been involved in submitting responses to the council about the club’s development plans.

The Supporters’ Trust now has over 150 members but is keen to boost its membership at a time of great uncertainty for the club. Membership costs £10 for two years and helps fund a number of the trust’s activities, all of which are intended to help the club. Junior membership is only £2 and corporate memberships are available for £50. The Trust communicates with members at least three times a year via a newsletter and an AGM for all members is held annually. Members who want to be more directly involved are always welcome. The Trust is always looking for help and ideas from members and any offer of time or skills can help. You will find members of the Trust at the ground on matchdays if you want to approach them about membership.

The Future

Fears that Dulwich Hamlet could disappear altogether are perhaps overly pessimistic but the fact is that many non-league clubs have found themselves homeless in recent years, leading to mergers with other clubs or moves away from their traditional catchment areas. The example of local rivals Fisher Athletic, now re-formed and lingering in the Kent League serves as a warning as to what can go wrong for cash-strapped clubs. The hope for Dulwich Hamlet is that the club, the Trust and the Hadley Property Group can work together to find the right solution for one of the oldest and most recognisable names in non-league football.