Monday, April 15, 2002

Hamlet History : 1938/39 London Senior Cup.

It is well known that Dulwich were one of the teams to emerge well from World War One. Wartime games gave the club a chance to blood some of the up and coming youngsters, including one Edgar Kail. We reaped the benefit of this in 1919/1920. Sadly the club were not so lucky in World War Two. Dulwich had assembled a fine team prior to the war, many of whom lost their peak footballing years to the conflict. Whilst we were not badly hit in terms of the number of casualties, compared to World War One, two of the four deceased were the key players in the Hamlet team prior to the war. Somehow Dulwich were never to be quite as effective post war as they were prior to it. Sadly the 1938/39 season hinted that the team had much to offer in happier circumstances.

We appear to have begun the London Senior Cup campaign in the Second Round when Barking visited Champion Hill in January. Included in their team should have been an ex Hamlet legend, Bill Caesar. As it was Joe Lee was drafted in at the last moment to replace him. Lee was to hit the headlines in this match. He was carried off in the first half but returned five minutes later. Initially he hobbled along the left wing but soon moved back into his old inside berth. At the end of the match he collapsed in the changing room and, on examination, was found to have played for sixty minutes with a broken leg.
The match itself was a drab affair. Barking regularly caught the Hamlet offside, whilst Champion Hill was a quagmire, making constructive football rather difficult. The only goal came on 25 minutes. Reg Anderson, a highly talented winger, released Beglan with the Barking defence standing still, looking for another offside decision. This time Beglan had timed his run to perfection and as Wilson, “Barking’s midget ‘keeper, rushed out he slipped the ball into the net”. There was little action at the Hamlet end and Dulwich were good value for their win.

Later that month Dulwich had to travel to Wealdstone in the Quarter Final. A crowd of 4 – 5000 enjoyed a thrilling match that seemed destined for extra time when Barker lobbed the ball past his own ‘keeper in the 82nd minute to give Dulwich a 2-1 victory.

The Hamlet had got off to a fine start when Lewis was unable to save a shot from Goodliffe after four minutes. The rebound fell to Ball who slotted his shot home. Within five minutes Wealdstone were level, Wilson scoring after a corner. From then on in it was a fairly even game, with neither side looking likely to score until the own goal. The last eight minutes saw the Dulwich net besieged however Wealdstone were unable to score. Dulwich were perhaps a bit lucky that the referee turned down a penalty appeal in the last minute.

February saw the semi final, Dulwich enjoying home pitch advantage over Enfield. The 4-1 scoreline looks quite comprehensive, in reality it was a much tighter game. The Enfield ‘keeper, F.J. Bennett, was unavailable. His replacement, F. Groom, dropped out, third choice L. Sterling was drafted in. His errors were responsible for three of the Hamlet goals. In the fifth minute he caught a simple shot from Beglan, only to drop it over the line. Minutes later Parr was to benefit from his very late dive, allowing him to make it 2-0. Twelve minutes into the second half a Goodliffe shot wormed its way under Groom’s dive. Parr then cut in to shoot home the fourth goal before Snazel scored a consolation effort for the Athenian league team.

The final was held at Millwall and attracted a crowd of 18 000. Dulwich were pitted against Erith and Belvedere. Again the Hamlet enjoyed a good start. After just three minutes Anderson passed through to Bill Parr, the winger slammed a cross over. Right back Bennett ran in and crashed a shot past his own goalkeeper to give Hamlet an early lead. Erith never really recovered. Powell, Weymouth and Robbins blocked their rare attacks whilst the attack were too lively for the Erith defence, who were reduced to playing the offside trap.

Dulwich could even afford the luxury of a missed penalty, Cecil Murray shooting wide after Parr had his legs taken away as he bore down on goal. Eight minutes before the interval Henry Ball broke down the offside trap and “strolled through the middle to put a snorting ground shot inches inside the post.”. Goalkeeper Barron was in fine form and denied Dulwich many more goals. He often frustrated Anderson and Ball, in particular. In the 85th minute he was finally beaten again. Ball appeared to have run the ball out of play before crossing the ball to Anderson who shot home to complete a 3-0 victory.

Anderson and Parr had run riot down their flank, Erith were totally unable to contain them. Sadly both were to lose their lives in World War Two. They had the makings of a fine partnership. Parr had only recently joined the club from Blackpool, his work brought him to London. Reg Anderson had remained with the club despite his job moving to Cardiff halfway through the season. He guested in one game for Cardiff City, and was man of the match, but decided to stay with the Hamlet. He wasn’t the only player in the team to travel long distances to play for Dulwich. Goalkeeper H.H.C. Hill travelled in from Weymouth. Incidentally on signing for the club in December 1936 Hill became the first player we had ever signed from another Isthmian League team. Even this was a technicality. He was a northerner and had played for the likes of Yorkshire Amateurs and Sheffield Wednesday before moving south and joining Dulwich. Prior to his move south he had played one game for the Casuals, as emergency cover, hence we had to obtain his registration from them.

What seems clear is that the Dulwich team of 1938/39 was a fine team, with its best days yet to come. It is a shame that we will never know exactly what the side would have been capable of had the war not intervened.

Dulwich Hamlet team for the final:-
H.H.C. Hill; D.S. Weymouth; H.S. Robbins; C. Murray; C.V. Powell; A.J. Hugo; W.W. Parr; R.S. Anderson; H.J. Ball; S. Lewis; B.D. Beglan.

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