Who knew the FA Trophy could generate such excitement? Some club struggle to get one man and his dog through the turnstiles for the lesser of the FA cup competitions – Dulwich squeezed in 2,745, their second highest attendance of the season!
The hairs on your neck bristle when you’re in a crowd that big at a Non-League ground, because you’re normally in for a cracking atmosphere. Here, alas, it felt like the football was merely a sideshow, something getting in the way of a couple of thousand people having a bloody good chat. I screamed when we we scored and some bloke asked to me to keep the noise down. (I jest, but it felt like a distinct possibility.)
Without super-togs Boyesy or Danny Last in attendance, I’ve had to rely on AI to help capture the unique non-atmosphere at Dulwich.
We could tell it was going to be a big crowd, because the pre-match pubs on Dulwich high street were heaving:
We queued for about 20 minutes just to get in the place, and when we did it felt more like a Mumford & Sons gig:
The 50 or so Rooks fans inside the folk festival tried to generate a bit of atmosphere, most notably when the Youth Wing started a chant of “You’re only here for the TikToks”, but there wasn’t even a nibble in return. Seriously, all joking aside, there was not a single audible chant from the Dulwich crowd all game. They did bang a drum once or twice and grumble about the ULEZ, but that was it.
It might be just as well the Dulwich crowd was paying scant attention to what was happening on the pitch, because it wasn’t pretty from their point of view. It took us only 11 minutes to crack them open. A corner eventually landed at the feet of Brad The Marrow, who proved he’d been tucking into his own produce by walloping a ball past the stranded keeper.
We were well on top for most of the first half, although Dulwich did occasionally threaten to get back into the game, not least when a shot from out wide grazed off our crossbar. About six Dulwich fans tutted.
We effectively killed the game dead not long before half-time. Tommy Wood has got a taste for goals now and this was another belter. He turned on the edge of the box and piled one past Preston Edwards to make it 2-0, just as the half-time queue for a beer began to snake right past us.
One or two home fans at least had the decency to look disappointed at the score:
The rest just carried on yakking, looking over their shoulders occasionally to see if the kids had reached the front of the queue for quinoa and thrice-cooked chips.
The second half was largely a non-event that our boys dealt with professionally. Deon Moore came close to adding a third with a terrific near-post effort, while at the other end Ronnie Vint made a superb block to prevent them pulling one back.
But it was soon all over and the only home fans who seemed bothered where the whippets, who’d spent 90 minutes getting soaked for no reason:
And so we battled our way past the heaps of discarded craft beer cans, pushchairs and falafel wraps, to sit in traffic for two hours, wondering what the hell we’d just witnessed. Other than a thoroughly deserved victory and a ball in the bag for the next round, where we hope to visit a football club.
Lewes: Harvey, Elliott, Hughes, Tamplin, Vint, Penney, Wood, Ogunwamide, Whelpdale, Moore, Pritchard
Subs: Egan, Panyi, Dalling, Lumbombo-Kalala, Salmon
Supporters Club man of the match: Brad Pritchard, who didn’t stop running for the entire 89 minutes he was on the pitch and still looked pissed off to be replaced, even at his prime vintage. Tremendous stuff.