Thursday, 22 December 2016

Familiar Friends

Familiar Friends

Chelsea and Dulwich Hamlet have had several encounters over the years. Prior to the first floodlit game in1964 the teams met in October 1929 in a London Challenge Cup* tie at Stamford Bridge. The Dulwich team from 35 years earlier included the legendary Edgar KailJack Hugo, Cecil Murray, Alf Solly and Leslie Todd (who went on to become more famous as a Kent County cricketer). Chelsea did not underestimate the amateurs and again put out their first team which included three full internationals, and won 4-0. They finished the season runners up in Division 2 and were promoted alongside champions Blackpool.

Dulwich were no strangers to Stamford Bridge, having played there the previous season (1928/29), when it was the venue for the semi-final of the FA Amateur Cup. Opponents Ilford booked their place in the final with a 4-1 win. On the way to the semi-final Dulwich put seven goals past Wycombe Wanderers in the third round and another seven past Aldershot Traction Company in the quarter final.

Now fast-forward to March 1956, the same place and the same stage of the same competition. This time Dulwich were overcome by the Corinthian- Casuals. On the day, fifty coaches lined Dog Kennel Hill to ferry a few thousand Hamlet supporters to West London to boost the enormous crowd to 27,000. Despite the occasion, it wasn’t the greatest display by a Dulwich side, and they ended up losing by three goals to one, Ernie Skipper with the Dulwich goal. Corinthian-Casuals were defeated in the replayed Final by the northern giants Bishop Auckland.

The Hamlet also contested for the 1949/50 London Charity Cup with Wimbledon at Stamford Bridge. Due to fixture congestion, this match was held over and actually took place in September of the following season. The Dons won 2-1.

After the floodlights game it was another ten years before the clubs would meet again. In May 1974 another friendly was arranged as part of the deal that saw striker Alec Jackson move from Dulwich to the West London club.  Peter Bonetti was still keeping goal for Chelsea, but this time it was he was who was on the wrong end of three goals. But unfortunately for the pink and blues Chelsea scored 7 (seven) at the other end.

Only eight months later in January 1975, Chelsea returned, this time a second string, and defeated Dulwich 3-1. And in August 1977 – with Alan Smith now at the helm following relegation to the Isthmian League Division One – Dulwich lost 2-1.

When the clubs next met, the tables were turned. Chelsea had been relegated from the First Division with a pitiful 20 points. Even if there were three points for a win back then they would have only amassed 35 points. And so, on Tuesday 14 August 1979, beneath those same pylons the Hamlet recorded a 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

The last time the Hamlet entertained Chelsea was midway through the 1993/94 season, on 18 December 1993 at the present Champion Hill ground. It finished in a 2-2 draw. Jim Cannon’s Dulwich side were actually two nil up through Darren Brodrick and Francis Vines but Chelsea came back into it with two late goals.

Two other matches to note: In the 1949/50 season (11 Feb 1950) Chelsea Juniors beat their Dulwich Hamlet counterparts in the semi-final of the London Minor Cup. Chelsea had already won the previous rounds 14-0, 13-0, 11-0 and a walkover. Dulwich were able to keep the score down to a respectable 2-0 loss. Chelsea went on to lift the trophy. The two teams met again the following year at the quarter final stage but this time the Hamlet saw success, winning 3-2.

The London Challenge Cup competition was discontinued in 2000. Oddly, the last two finals were contested by the same teams – Uxbridge and Dulwich Hamlet. The Hamlet won in 1999, but the final match was a 2-2 draw, but won on penalties by Uxbridge.

Since writing this article we have come across an earlier meeting between the two clubs. This clip is from 1912/13 season.

Originally published in HH30 Winter 2016

Copyright © Jack McInroy

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