Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet – 4 August 2018

It was time for the 2018/19 non-league football season to get underway. My first season watching five non-league clubs began on the London/Kent border. I saw my step two club, Dulwich Hamlet, take on Welling United.

Dulwich, like me, are entering unknown territory. In 1907 they joined the Isthmian League and they didn’t leave until May this year. Their first ever National League game was the perfect place to start my season. It would also be my first new ground of the season and my 83rd in total.


Match: Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet
Competition: National League South (Step 2)
Ground: Park View Road
Attendance: 1,057
Price: £12
Programme:£2.50
Refreshments: £1 (can of Pepsi)
Dogs allowed: Yes

Ground 83: Welling United


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Welling United, also known as the Wings, were founded in 1963. They joined the Athenian League in 1978 and made quick progress into the Conference, via the Southern League, in 1986. The Wings were relegated into the Southern League again in 2000 but returned to the Conference when the new Conference South was formed in 2004. They had three more years at step one after promotion in 2013 but returned to the renamed National League South in 2016.

Welling have played at Park View Road since 1977 when they moved from a community sports ground in Eltham. Erith & Belvedere FC have shared the ground with them since 1999. The ground has two large seating areas down each side and good sized terraces at each end.

Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet
Dulwich Hamlet fans make their way to the far end

Dulwich Hamlet begin National League adventure

It has been an exciting summer for Dulwich fans as they prepare to take their first steps in the National League South. Transfer activity has been modest for the most part, and Gavin Rose has managed to keep hold of most of his key players. Reise Allassani was the notable exception. The striker made the expected step up to the professional ranks and joined Coventry City in League One.

Dulwich’s pres-season has been largely positive with some good performances. I saw them take on Haringey Borough. Rose rotated the team at half-time and they appeared to have good strength in depth as there was little drop-off in quality.

The Hamlet’s opponents, Welling United, have had a considerably more transformative summer. Steve King, known as the National League South’s most successful manager, took over in the summer and has set about rebuilding the squad, bringing in several players from former club Whitehawk. Welling finished just outside the play-off spots last season and will be hoping to in the mix again come May.

Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet
Dulwich Hamlet attack from a free-kick

The away game experience

Park View Road, Welling’s excellent ground, filled up early with eager non-league fans enjoying the sunshine and the start of a new season. Supporters in pink and blue could be seen all around the ground.  Park View Road is well set up with large seating areas and good sized terraces at each end. One stand is adorned in the colours of groundsharers Erith & Belvedere while the rest of the ground is Welling Red. 

The continuation of this summer’s heatwave meant tough decisions had to be made on arrival. Fortunately, the seated areas provided plenty of cover and one of the open terraces was protected from the force of the sun by some adjacent woodland. The visiting Dulwich fans were lucky enough to fill this end for the first half. 

The atmosphere was tentative early on despite the large attendance, reportedly nearly twice Welling’s average attendance from last season. The heat and first game nerves perhaps slowed the arrival of most of Dulwich’s popular songs. They soon got going, however, and the Welling fans at the other end managed a response even though they were facing the full force of the 30 degree sunshine. 

Welling United v Dulwich Hamlet
Dulwich Hamlet players were often left frustrated with the referee

Welling wiser as they edge season opener

Dulwich started the game well and had lots of possession during the first half. Unfortunately, a mix of the heat and off-season rust appeared to get the better of both sides in the first 45 minutes. There were few chances of note causing one gentleman behind me to exclaim “I could have played at this level if I stayed fit!”. Minutes later the same gent took a tumble while unsuccessfully navigating his exit over the seat in front.

The second half saw a marked improvement in quality. Dulwich went close early on as set piece maestro Ashley Carew saw his free kick well saved. The game then turned on a couple of incidents in the far corner of the ground. Firstly, Nassim L’Goul, the only bright spot from the first half, was fouled. The resulting free kick was powerfully headed home by Thierry Audel.

Just minutes later Carew then pushed a Welling player off the ball. The fussy referee, who produced his cards far too early in the first half, then showed Carew a second yellow, and Dulwich were down to ten men. Welling soon settled the game after a couple of quick passes played Jebb in and he finished well.

The result will ultimately disappoint Dulwich, but they showed they were more than a match for their experienced National League opponents. Welling had the wiser heads in the key moments and dealt better with the referee. The Wings earned a good victory to kick off their season.

Star man: Nassim L’Goul



Other results
Ebbsfleet 0-1 Chesterfield
Walthamstow 2-2 Hoddesdon Town