“Gavin Rose is absolutely the right man for Dulwich Hamlet and he deserves time to adjust to the Conference South”
‘Forward the Hamlet’ podcasters Hugo Greenhalgh and Ben Sibley doubled up this week to answer our questions on ‘The Hamlet’ before Saturday’s game….
TT – Hi Ben & Hugo – before we talk about your team, tell us a bit about yourself, the podcast and how long have you supported ‘The Hamlet’?
Ben – I’m 30, live and work within 2 miles of DHFC’s ground, and have supported them for 5 years. The podcast isn’t as frequent as it once was but we still record the odd episode here and there. In its most prolific period we would regularly interview players, the management team, other staff, fans – anyone linked to the club. It was a lot of fun but life took over and we all got proper jobs!
Hugo – I’ve been supporting Dulwich since 2013. I went to the first game after we got promoted to the Isthmian Prem and I’ve never looked back really. The club’s continued to grow each season I’ve been going and it’s been amazing seeing the crowds go from hundreds to thousands during that time.
We started the podcast at the end of the 2013/14 and I host it with Ben Sibley (the better looking one in all the photos). It’s called “Forward the Hamlet”, which is what some of our Old Skool fans used to shout on the terraces (so I’m told). We’ve never really subscribed to one formula for the podcast but we try to give a flavour of what’s been going on at the club, be it through player interviews or speaking with other fans. Ben also manages our social media accounts (Instagram and Twitter), where you can see some of his graphic design handiwork.
How would you summarise your season so far and what’s were your thoughts the last time the two teams met?
Ben – The step up from the Bostik Premier Division has been as big as we all expected. Despite that, we’ve more than held our own in the majority of our games. Silly mistakes, lack of game management and poor concentration has cost us dearly though – leading us to the position we’re in. We thought your experience and quality showed when you came to us in the reverse fixture. We thought we competed well but did lack that bit extra to get a result. Also your number 5 absolutely lost his marbles at one point, which was good viewing.
Hugo – It’s been a learning curve to say the least. We’ve gone from being one of the big clubs in the Isthmian league, to coming up against well-established Conference South sides who know how to churn out results and performances at this level. There are times when we’ve been bullied by stronger opposition and maybe we’ve been naive in thinking we can play the same style of football we have in previous seasons.
I thought we were a bit unlucky in the game against you earlier in the season. We fought well and didn’t concede till quite late on. However, given that Gary Johnson’s had a proper chance to work his magic now I suspect Saturday’s game will be even tougher. It’s rare for us to come up against such an experienced manager.
How’s your recent form been and are you confident heading into the game at Plainmoor?
Ben – Recent form has actually picked up – we’re unbeaten in three league games and ran the Brentford B pros close in a 1-0 cup loss. The three league results include a 2-1 win over Welling – our best performance for months. We’re confident we’ll be competitive again on Saturday but there’s a reason you’re top of the league and your home form looks pretty formidable.
Hugo – We’re actually hitting a bit of form and haven’t lost this month in the league. A clean sheet away and a point away at Concord has been followed with a 2-1 win over Welling and a 3-3 draw with Hemel at home. The equaliser against Hemel came from an 89th minute penalty – so hopefully we can take some of that momentum and jubilation to Torquay. That being said, it’s a tough trip. I’d be very happy with a point!
Which players should we look out for and why?
Ben – Nathan Green. The man’s a machine. The non-league Gareth Bale… but even more shredded. Imagine an oak wardrobe with legs and a bullet left foot.
Hugo – Nyren Clunis is a Dulwich legend and has scored over 100 goals in pink and blue. On his day, he’s a real threat down the wing. It would be hard to miss our new goalkeeper Simon Bloch Jorgensen, as he’s the tallest footballer in the world and stands at 6″11. I’m also a big fan of our midfielder Nathan Ferguson, who has great feet and helps to drive our play.
Have you got the right man in charge and what sort of tactics does he employ?
Ben – Yes, we do. Tactically we tend to favour pace down the flanks and building from the back. Though since promotion we’ve become more flexible and now have the personnel to play a more direct game. Essentially, we offer a veritable buffet of tactical approaches dependent on the opposition. Delicious.
Hugo – Gavin Rose is absolutely the right man for Dulwich Hamlet and he deserves time to adjust to the Conference South. Some of our performances this season have been frustrating and at times you question why certain players are benched or released ahead of others, but ultimately Gavin has a great track record at a club he has managed for ten years. We like to play attacking football and to keep it on the ground – but this season has taught us that a more pragmatic approach is probably required against certain teams in the division.
How good was it to return to Champion Hill at the end of 2018 and remind us of the events that occurred last year when the club played temporarily at Tooting’s ground?
Ben – The return to Champion Hill was beaut – a total party for 3,000 on Boxing Day. Our time at Tooting and Mitcham’s KNK Stadium came about after a breakdown in the relationship between Dulwich Hamlet and Champion Hill owners Meadow Residential.
Hugo – It’s hard to describe just how much it meant to move back to Champion Hill over Christmas. Playing eight miles away in Tooting might not sound like far, but those trips really began to take their toll and our attendances were hit massively. Being located in Dulwich itself is a huge part of what the club is about and it’s become a pillar of the community, so to come home was an enormous relief.
In short, we were evicted from Champion Hill by the property developer who own our ground, when their plans to redevelop the site were rejected by Southwark Council. We needed a home quick and fortunately, our South London neighbours (and rivals) Tooting & Mitcham came to the rescue. If Torquay don’t get promoted, you can look forward to a trip to Champion Hill next time around!
What’s the present situation at the club in regards to securing your future?
Ben – Present situation is that we’re back playing at our own ground and talks are ongoing regarding the coming years. It’s certainly a much more positive outlook than six months ago.
Hugo – We’re feeling more secure now. Our leases are not subject to planning and the leadership of the club has been passed into the hands of fans, who have solid business experience.
Will you bring many down to Torquay and what’s your favourite terrace chants?
Ben – I reckon we’ll bring anywhere between 50-150. I know a good number are making a proper weekend of it! Loads of good songs but I always favour those that really get the crowd going. Sure you’ll hear many of them today.
Hugo – I would hope we bring about 100 or so. It’s a long way – much further than we’re used to travelling – but for me personally, this is a prospect of a fun away day by the sea, against a big-name club with a Football League stadium.
We have a rather eclectic songbook (so listen out) but my favourite chant was one that started the day we day we won promotion in the playoff final last season: “Allez, allez, allez! Allez, allez, allez! We are Dulwich Hamlet! And we follow Gavin Rose!”. Very unoriginal, very simple but it will always remind be of a glorious day.
The Yellow Army were disappointed to see George Essuman loaned out, how’s the defender been doing for you?
Ben – Honestly mate, he’s only made a couple of appearances so would be remiss of me to give a proper assessment.
Hugo – Strangely he really hasn’t featured much for Dulwich – which has surprised me, given he came with a good reputation. We have just released another defender, so maybe we’ll see more of him soon.
And finally, we lost last time out and will be keen to bounce back. What’s your match prediction for Saturday afternoon?
Ben – This league is so unpredictable that I’ve given up trying to second-guess our results! Us beating Welling and then them beating you is a perfect example. If you pushed me I’d go, optimistically, for 2-2.
Hugo – Funnily enough you lost to Welling, who we beat two weeks ago – so who knows! I think this will be a really tough game for us but like I say, I’d bite your hand off for a point. I’ll go 1-1.