Dulwich Hamlet’s chairman Liam Hickey has launched a blistering attack on Charlton in his club’s official programme, claiming unnamed Addicks officials tried to cheat the National League South club out of a first-team friendly to which they were contractually entitled.
"I cannot let the behaviour of Charlton Athletic pass without comment," he said. Hamlet were forced out of their Champion Hill home by property developers in March, and their story has attracted strong sympathy from football fans well beyond their catchment area. However, Hickey says the Addicks are “just another local professional club who has treated our club with contempt and hindered, rather than helped, our survival”.
Hickey says that the friendly match, which took place at their temporary headquarters at Tooting and Mitcham’s ground on July 18th and ended in a 3-1 win for the visitors, was part of the deal that took then 20-year-old defender Jamie Mascoll to The Valley last August.
But in an outspoken “View from the Directors’ Box” column published before Wednesday’s 2-1 home win over East Thurrock United, he revealed that Charlton had tried to claim that they were not obliged to fulfill the fixture because it could no longer be played at the non-league club’s “home” ground.
He goes on: “Not content with this they then advised just five days before the game that they were downgrading the fixture to send their U23 side, as their manager had changed his plans.
“As a result, I reminded them of their contractual obligations and they reluctantly sent the first team. However, they made no attempt to promote the fixture and announced they would live stream it through their website. The live feed had been agreed, but any announcement from them was embargoed until 30 minutes from kick-off, not half a day.”
In fact, a story was posted on Charlton’s official website at around 1.30pm on the day of the match which announces the live feed but also gives ticket information for the game.
Given that the streaming coverage is behind a paywall, the number of people likely to have been influenced by it may not be particularly significant. The crowd on the night was 754.
It may also be that the Hamlet chairman is unfamiliar with the level of incompetence and confusion which is now typical of the SE7 club’s administration and is therefore assuming Hamlet were being singled out for mistreatment.
He goes on to say that “at least we know where we stand with them”, based on Charlton’s willingness to play “lots of other non-league clubs”, no doubt including divisional rivals Welling United.
Hickey may not know, however, that even the Addicks' game at Park View Road on July 14th was moved four times to fit in with the World Cup and the Addicks’ own uncertain pre-season plans, including Charlton officials telling both the Wings staff and the local press that it had been switched back to August 7th and then denying it after Welling put that out, blaming the non-league club for the further confusion.
Partly as a consequence of the uncertainty, it attracted an official crowd of just 1,020, thought to have been the lowest-ever turnout for the fixture.