Dulwich Hamlet FC, one of the most famous non-league sides in English footballing history and drawing support and youth players from Lewisham, Croydon and all parts of south east London, have won their first Championship in 33 years and return to the Ryman Isthmian Premier League with gates, support and history greater than most of the teams above them.
Jubilant scenes at the Champion Hill stadium in Edgar Kail Way SE22 Saturday 27 April saw a team that has been providing young players to leading Premier and Football League full-time professional sides secure promotion after narrowly missing out in two previous seasons during play-off finals.
A crowd of 1,137 watched Xavier Vidal score a second half equaliser against Burgess Hill Town.
When the game finished a draw at 1-1, Dulwich Hamlet were crowned champions one point above Maidstone United.
Dame Tessa Jowell, the Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood since 1992, tweeted her congratulations.
Full Time…. Dulwich Hamlet 1-1 Burgess Hill Town Xavier Vidal with our goal… WE ARE CHAMPIONS!!!!!
— OFFICIAL DHFC! (@DulwichHamletFC) April 27, 2013
Dulwich Hamlet striker, Danny Carr, was invited to have a trial for Liverpool this season, and has signed terms for Huddersfield Town. He was allowed to play out the season for Hamlet.
The legendary non-league team started the careers of players such as Alan Pardew, Ian Wright, Peter Crouch, Birmingham’s Marlon King, Norwich’s Simeon Jackson and Charlton’s Leon Cort who have all worn the distinctive pink and blue colours of a side that dominated amateur football throughout the 20th century.
The team has been experiencing a change of fortune on the pitch with inspired management from Gavin Rose and a community supported scheme known as The 12th Man, when supporters donate and raise money to secure more funds for the players’ budget.
They last won an Isthmian league trophy in the season 1977–78.
Their most successful season was in 1919-20 when they won the Isthmian Championship on goal difference ahead of a team from Nunhead, the FA Amateur Cup when beating Tufnell Park at Millwall’s Old Den, the London Charity Cup, and Surrey Senior Cup.
The club draws support from a wide area spreading out from Dulwich and Norwood to Croydon and Lewisham and also has a dedicated following abroad.
Social media in terms of Twitter, Youtube and Facebook have celebrated the teams achievement with supporters uploading videos, pictures and messages of congratulation.