By John Kelly
Dulwich Hamlet boss Gavin Rose admitted it was tough letting players go after the National League South season was suspended – as he continues his rebuilding work ahead of the next campaign.
The club confirmed the departure of twelve players this week, including stalwarts Preston Edwards and Nyren Clunis.
The Hamlet had contractual obligations with only one member of last season’s squad, striker Danny Mills.
Rose has signed released Millwall defender Jesse Debrah, 19, – who was on loan at Champion Hill last season – as well as 35-year-old former Southend midfielder Michael Timlin, among a slew of incomings expected over the next few weeks.
Dulwich were planning on a reduced playing budget this campaign, but the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic – including doubts over when fans can return, a crucial revenue stream for the Hamlet – will further limit squad numbers.
“The boys ran out of contract at the end of the season,” Rose said. “The only player that had another year was Danny Mills. But his contract from last year was a ten-month contract, so he’s effectively out of contract as well because the new one would start when the new season started. Danny was the only one we had an obligation with.
“Unfortunately we had to let a lot of the squad go. We had quite a big playing budget last year. To be honest with you, we underachieved as a squad, forgetting the pandemic.
“We already agreed in January as a club that we would have a smaller budget, but that alone would not have had as many casualties. The pandemic came in, making our budget even smaller. The two coinciding meant we had to let go of a lot of the playing staff from last season.
“It’s not great in these times when you look at it from a human point of view, boys being told they haven’t got a job and having to find another one isn’t great.
“We’ve been waiting for the league to tell us when the season is going to start and what restrictions there will be so we’d know what budget we’d have. That was only given to us [around three weeks ago].
“So the boys have been waiting around, the coaching staff have and so have the owners of the club, waiting for the league to make a decision.”
The Hamlet are preparing for an October start, from when players’ contracts will start.
Rose added: “We’ve been given October 3, but on that date we have an FA Cup game, our first competitive game of the season.
“Contracts would start when the season starts, because no one’s sure what’s going to happen with the pandemic and if there’s going to be a second wave. Obviously we don’t want that, but we have to go into this with our eyes open. So most clubs are probably covering themselves by only starting contracts when the season starts.
“We’ve retained Aaron Barnes, Quade Taylor. We’ve got one or two coming in from last season to see if we’re able to offer them a deal.
“We’ve added some new signings: Jordan Higgs who’s come in from Bromley; Michael Timlin from Ebbsfleet. And a few others as well. We’ve also got some really good boys to come in to train and we expect to sign a few of those also.”
The club are very pleased to announce the signing of Michael Timlin.
Michael will also join our Academy as a coach.
— Dulwich Hamlet FC (H) (@DulwichHamletFC) August 25, 2020