Dulwich Hamlet 0, Maidstone 0
To Transpontine del Curva! …on Saturday afternoon along with a capacity crowd of 3,000 in what is essentially the seventh tier of English football.
How the chuffers did that happen?
We’ve come a long way from when I use to bang on the main gate at 3:15pm on a Saturday afternoon and ask Top Boy Griff if he could open up so I could bring my bike inside the ground.
Poor old Top Boy.
I don’t think that he took too well to my comment of “got any change for a £50 note” as I snaked my way down the queue and made my way towards the turnstile on his most stressful Saturday afternoon ever.
But you remain the Dulwich Top Boy.
The sell-out crowd was all about circumstances. Maidstone could win the league down at the Dulwich, depending on results elsewhere.
Duwlich meanwhile would do themselves plenty of play-off favours if they could end the afternoon with three points.
It felt odd being inside Champion Hill shortly after 2:30pm a rarity for me. All of the landmarks from back in the day were in place.
Jack the Plaque was plugging away with his SUPERB Hamlet Historian; lovely old Bill was on programme duties. The ageing legs of the Supporters’ team were congregating by the shed.
The pillars of my pink ‘n’ blue historical timeline might have been propping up the usual locations, but elsewhere and it was quite remarkable.
I quite like the idea of how the old remains, yet still finds a space to accommodate the new. This has been the Dulwich Hamlet message over the past three seasons or so.
Meanwhile on the pitch and the changes continue, yet the comfort of the proud pink’n’ blue kit remains.
I made the tactical decision to start the traditional once around the ground photo walk as soon as the game kicked off. Back in the day and this was done and dusted in five minutes flat. It took half an hour on Saturday.
I saw parts of Champion Hill that I never knew existed.
Where the chuffers did that backdoor entrance come from?
The Maidstone fans had taken over the Toilets Opposite stand. They were making a right old stink of a noise.
Fair play, fellas.
They even had the Car Wash end, such was the size of the away travelling support.
Back up in the Tuscany fields and The Rabble were warming up. I’d wager that a record crowd at Champion Hill was matched with record sales for BOOZE across the road at Sainsbury’s.
I managed to meet up with a few folk. It was great to see @SLHC. @OneEyeGrey and the mighty @urban75 were AWOL – quite literally lost in the field of action and the size of the crowd.
The first half football wasn’t all that.
And neither was the second half to be honest.
This was a highly tactical game with both teams restricting each other from shots on goals. Dulwich somehow found their free-passing style midway through the second half. It has been missing for most of the second half of the season…
A point would have probably suited both teams. This became evident during the final ten minutes or so.
The ref blew for full time, and then the Maidstone players legged it to the bench. About five-seconds later they legged it back over to Toilets Opposite, safe in the knowledge that they were promoted as league champions.
The next half hour or so could have gone horribly wrong if this was the professional game. But Dulwich is no ordinary club.
The away fans took to the pitch, some of the Dulwich fans joined them.
Both supporters ended up singing together about winning the league at Champion Hill.
It was harder to get out of the ground than it was to get in.
No worries – I wasn’t really in any rush. The Maidstone fans were keen to congratulate The Rabble on being so sporting. It’s just the way we do it down at the Dulwich.
It was the same for *that* heartbreak of a Wealdstone play-off match back in the day, and things haven’t really changed.
Keep on not changing, just growing.
Edgar Kail in my heart.