Today’s FA Cup opponents, Tonbridge Angels, are no strangers to The Hamlet having played them in the Isthmian Premier league for the past few seasons until our promotion.
Whilst a few may be disappointed that we do not have the adventure of traveling to a new ground, a home tie does bring in revenue for the club (although gate receipts are shred with today’s opponents). Regular supporters are obviously aware that home attendances are currently below what we were recently achieving at Champion Hill. Significantly, a reduction in crowds means a reduction in match day revenue and this does not only affect the current budget of the club, but also hinders the goal of securing its long-term future.
So, a good run in the FA Cup could bring in some much needed revenue to the club, with the winners of this game securing £9,000 in prize money. Dare we dream of reaching the First Round Proper, not only be a fantastic achievement for the club but could also bring with it a big financial windfall. The last time Dulwich reached this round was in 1998, when they lost at home against Southport, who knows maybe we could end be playing a Football League team at home in a televised game!
Concerning attendances, the Football Club and Trust are working hard to encourage people to make the journey to our temporary home in the London Borough of Merton and one particular group we have seen in attendance less, since our enforced move, are families. I mentioned in my last programmes notes that the Supporters’ Trust will be hosting a family day at next Saturday’s home game against Chippenham Town with activities and giveaways for children attending the game. By hosting this family day, we hope to ensure that our younger supporters enjoy their visit to Imperial Fields and leave wanting to come back for more.
Many fans will recall the tragic death of Junior Dian in July 2015. Junior was a 23 year old defender who was playing a pre-season friendly as a trialist for today’s visitors, when he collapsed on the pitch and later died in hospital. Our visitors chose to turn this tragedy into something positive. First they decided to screen all of their players for undiagnosed heart conditions – something that an average of twelve, apparently healthy, young people die from every week. They then put their support behind the charity C-R-Y (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and have helped facilitate the screening of hundreds of young people in Kent.
A similar programme in Italy where all athletes, amateur and professional, are screened for heart conditions has been reported as resulting in a drop in the death rate from such incidents of 89% since it was introduced.
So, when the matchday committee recently informed the Trust that the battery and pads on the club defibrillator needed replacing we had no hesitation in agreeing to meet the cost of the replacement. Of course, everyone associated with the club hopes that this equipment will never be needed but it is vitally important that this it is available and ready to use – just in case.
Finally; after an unsuccessful attempt to get the Trust mega-container to Imperial Fields a couple of weeks ago we are planning to have another go – with a vehicle that has a bigger crane! We are looking forward to being able to once again provide a full range of merchandise, including teamwear, to Hamlet fans on matchdays. We don’t want to tempt fate by announcing a date – if you see a large pink and blue steel container in the corner of the ground today ….. then it made it!!!
Enjoy the game!
Mark (Scolly) Scoltock