In the last couple of years newspapers have been obsessed with placing every crowd-pulling success down to some sort of hipster craze – when in fact local people might just be realising what great attractions we have right on our doorstep.
Our look this week into the growing number of people flocking to Dulwich Hamlet matches on a Saturday afternoon is a case in point. This is a club with a 123-year-old history and in the last couple of years especially, the club has gone out of its way to make the ground a place at the centre of the local community. They hit the headlines a few months ago when they became a major collecting point to help with the refugee crisis in Europe, and last week fans turned out in force to support junior doctors.
But the club is a place that families can come to enjoy the national game at a fraction of the cost. Last year Hamlet did some great promotions to draw in the crowds including a ‘pay what you want’ exercise with the money going to local charities. This proved extremely popular.
Non-league football is having an up-surge nationally. Last year fans from all 20 Premier League clubs protested outside each league game in a bid to get new regulations on ticket prices. The vibe at Hamlet and other non-league grounds is far more unique as local volunteers with a passion are behind making each match day an enjoyable experience. Unlike the games at major grounds you are not treated like a flock of sheep and can even enjoy a pint while watching on the terraces.Non-league clubs like Hamlet can relax the rules and you can even get to know your neighbours.
Plus with the FA Cup rounds and, especially in the case of Hamlet – a team sitting pretty on the top of the league – the football is of a very high standard. This is semi-professional football after all and not a Sunday league game.
As Fisher FC plan to make their return to Rotherhithe this year – let’s hope they manage to do the same in the north of the borough.