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Fans criticise matchday experience as Dulwich Hamlet set new stadium record attendance

Fans took to criticise the matchday experience at Champion Hill on Saturday as Dulwich Hamlet set a new stadium record attendance.

The non league community were left amazed when seeing that 3,334 spectators made their way through the turnstiles for the National League South clash against Billericay Town.

However, when Dulwich announced the number via their social media, some of those who attended the game were let down, with some saying it felt overcrowded and it ruined the enjoyability of the day itself.

There are a lot of talking points from the game that wouldn’t fit into a traditional match report. Priority goes out to the memory of Duncan Chapman, the former Chair of the DHFC Trust, who lost his battle with cancer earlier in the week, so a minutes applause came ahead of kick off as a touching tribute.

Billericay went one up through Anderson Pinto on the 15th minute following a mix up in the Dulwich defence, before a second was added after 27 minutes thanks to Kweku Lucan. Darren McQueen then pulled one back for Dulwich in the 60th minute, but an equaliser couldn’t be found.

While the result wasn’t how Dulwich wanted it be, it was more the attendance that left people all bothered with Brixton Buzz detailing just how busy it got from pre-match to the final whistle.

“Champion Hill was far from a pleasant experience. The official crowd figure of 3,334 may sound impressive. The reality meant watching a lacklustre display from the home team wasn’t possible for some.

“The ground was rammed half an hour ahead of kick off. The club had pushed out the message on its social channels to arrive early. Many did, but even at 2:30pm the seats were all taken, along with most pitch side vantage points.

“This is nothing new down at Dulwich. The crowds had been building to these levels pre-pandemic. Billericay at home wasn’t a one off.

“The appeal of a manufactured ‘local’ rivalry with Billericay, International weekend and some bloody decent South London weather brought out the crowds.

“So what’s the problem?

“There’s not any problem if you want to see a local club do good business at the turnstiles, as well as at the bar. The local companies providing the catering have had it tough for the past year and a half.

“But Dulwich has always been about so much more than counting the crowd as a measure of success. The resurgence in all things pink ‘n’ blue from around 2012 onwards came out of the community.

“You don’t want to get too misty-eyed, but it was a weird coming together of community activists alongside some wonderfully eccentric Situationist art football pranksters. It somehow worked.

“But you could have been at any other club in the league with no culture where the focus is on winning rather than creating something local and unique. We didn’t even manage the former on Saturday afternoon…

“It’s a delicate balance between bringing in new fans to keep the club alive, and killing off what was pretty special less than a decade ago. The songs have pretty much all dried up. Rob’s brilliant, brilliant surrealist banners behind the goal are but now a memory living in an online photo archive.

“It is such detail that defines a football club. Dulwich stumbled upon this and the club was happy to run with it.

“Promotion to the National League has meant the focus is now on success at all costs. Moving up to the next level and hosting the likes of Notts County and Wrexham may be the dream. But if it means a season long of Saturdays like we witnessed this weekend, then what’s the point?

“We’d never thought that we agree with Dulwich Director Peter Crouch after he was parachuted in to pimp out his latest celeb TV programme. The club’s future “looks bleak” proclaimed Crouchy before no doubt fronting another TV ad for a betting company.

“The joke at the time was that Dulwich definitely doesn’t need saving. A crowd of 3,334 on Saturday shows that this is anything but a dying club.

“But Dulwich do need saving, and not from the “struggle to stay afloat” that the shit TV narrative is trying to form.”

Comms/Media Director at Dulwich, Tom Cullen, said: “So, we all know Saturday was a bit uncomfortable capacity wise and didn’t really work for many of us.

“Want to assure everyone that the club and @dhstorg are looking at all the feedback and will make changes where possible to improve things before the next mens game.”

As mentioned, fans criticise the matchday experience with Dulwich Hamlet going on to set a new stadium record attendance, while others had something else to say on it all…

@Macca_Hamlet: It’s too many people. By quite a lot.

@londonkro: I want to disagree with this, but I make a point of agreeing with people who are right.

@richard00761191: ST holder but didn’t go, purely because it was going to be too full. Got in a cracking trip to (FA Trophy Q) VCD great game Chertsey Winner in 89th minute.

@mattlecras15: What do you mean by too full. Surely they wouldn’t allow that many people in if it couldn’t hold that many

@richard00761191: Packed. Reduced view only 30% of standing terraced & only 3-4 steps, no room to move/pee at half time. It’s just a small stadium gates <2700 negatively impact experience. Happy to still have a club & support with ST but likely to just go midweek & away.

@DulwichCookie: Stadium records are one thing. Match experience is another. 💖💙

@Geezuz170: We can’t really grumble about the crowds, it gives us a big financial advantage against most of our competitors. Not worth investing much money in to the current ground with the new ground coming (when, I don’t know) if o win the euro millions id buy meadow out and build a Kop End over the car park

@StuartFordyce1; That’s too much at Champion Hill. Given the way the ground is it gets cramped at some points and a lot of folk won’t get a view.

@chrisam91: Lots of people go and don’t bother watching anyway. They just get in the way.

@AWBurns91: Great stuff, but it felt like a few too many today.

@Hefff88: Aye it was a bit much tbh

@MrFouldsy: Need a rethink

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