Dipping around the internet you’ll find one or other of us harping on about Dulwich Hamlet somewhere. They’re the reason this site exists and, this year, we’ve been following them more assiduously than usual. So, it’s time for a bit of an appraisal as the season enters a vital period and a certain player grabs some national headlines.
My last outing, on 200%, was a long-winded summary of the Ryman 1 South title race back in January, some waffle about how good were some Dulwich Hamlet players (including THAT one) and a small preview of the imminent clash between the top two, Hamlet and Maidstone United. The game was postponed, which left the whole thing a bit flat.
Since that postponed game back in January it has, largely, been business as usual with the top two trading victories and the odd draw. A couple of postponed Dulwich matches means Maidstone have edged slightly ahead, not only in points but also games played. But, in the last few weeks our pink and blue boys have stuttered to two defeats in four games and find themselves in the odd position of being in both a better and worse position than two months ago. They’ve drifted back to six points off Maidstone but with the often misleading comfort of three games in hand. Points on the board, people, points on the board.
The most recent round of matches on Tuesday turned into a bit of a frightmare for both teams. Leaders Maidstone shot themselves in the foot at home to Folkestone with an own goal and sending off that meant they could only draw 2-2. Dulwich’s loss at Merstham in a re-arranged fixture was seemingly the result of lethargy, ineptitude on the part of players and referee alike and perhaps a little dose of underestimating a resurgent opponent.
But, that was all largely forgotten the following morning, Wednesday, when the Hamlet website announced top scorer Danny Carr was off to another professional club for a trial. Not huge news until you realised the club in question was Liverpool. Premier League Liverpool. Eyebrows raised and the Daily Mail kicked off a “who’s Danny Carr?” Twitter storm.
Who IS Danny Carr?
As you all probably now know, Danny Carr is Dulwich Hamlet’s top scorer. He arrived early in the season after failing to make the grade at *cough* Premier League Reading. He only broke into the Hamlet team at the end of October but has since averaged about a goal a game. Fortunately for Hamlet, Danny was contracted thanks to the 12th Man campaign, set up by Neil Cole and Shaun Dooley. Predators beware, that’s YOU, Charlton, you piss-taking skinflints.
Over the last few days commentators have been quibbling about how a player from the 8th tier of English football can make the jump to the top tier in one easy step. Well, there might usually be little logic to it but, when you consider it’s Liverpool, I’d argue it is perhaps less illogical. In Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have a talented player, good with both feet, quick, gets into good positions, decent in the air, robust and the ability to finish. I wouldn’t directly compare the two but there is more than a little of the Sturridge about Carr, albeit currently a more staccato and less fluid model. So, Danny may well turn out to be a capable back-up, if Liverpool have a plan to utilise that type of player for a few years to come.
Danny has been on trial at Liverpool this week and will play against West Ham in an under 21 game next Monday. He will, we are told, be back at Champion Hill for Saturday’s game against Sittingbourne and will remain for the rest of the season regardless of what happens. For fans of Dulwich and indeed any South London football buff, there may not be too many more opportunities to see Danny Carr in action outside a television set, so it might well be worth a trip to Champion Hill on Saturday. And, if you need any more convincing, Hamlet will also be the venue for fifty Altona 93 fans this weekend (Hamburg, for the uninitiated).
Tuesday night may have been a blip but the previous week against Eastbourne Town was another. Any more of them and Hamlet’s season could easily fizzle out. It’s a vital period and the squad’s focus, fitness and depth, or lack of it, will define their season. They have the quality and several players as well as Carr who could go on to play at a higher level and, if the run-outs in the cup games are anything to go by, they have a few reserves who are up to the job as well.
But that’s not quite all for this division. While Maidstone and Hamlet have been dithering, the previously well placed Leatherhead have fallen away, much like their wall, but Faversham have snuck out of the chasing pack and into 2nd thanks to not having games called off. They have played many more games so, at this point, might not be a genuine threat but they are now a factor, for Hamlet at least.
While Dulwich entertain some of Kent tomorrow, Kent receives some South London in return. Maidstone look to get back to winning ways when they entertain the black and white part of South London. But you’ll be an optimistic Hamlet fan if you think Tooting & Mitcham will do anything other than increase Maidstone’s goal difference.
Dulwich Hamlet v Sittingbourne, Ryman League 1 South
Saturday 9th March 3pm at Champion Hill, £9.