It's a sad fact of life, being a Dulwich Hamlet fan, that somebody you know will have passed away in the summer. One of the 'occupational hazards' so to speak, when you are part of an historic Club with a relatively old & loyal support base.
It doesn't make it any easier if someone is past their 'three score years and ten', but it is a heck of a lot harder when a person who is nowhere near that age goes 'before their time'.
As one of the founder members of the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team it came as a huge shock to hear the news that one of our own, Ian Wright, had died, after collapsing at work, at the tender age of only 53.
The one thing you find when someone goes so suddenly is how little you really knew them, & how much you wished you should have got to know them better. I, personally, only knew Ian through football. He had been a part of the team for over fifteen years, I'm not entirely sure, we never really kept records. Without a doubt one of the naturally talented players we have ever had appear for us. He only started playing for 'The Rabblers' for fun, when he hung up his 'serious Saturday boots', after a long amateur career, where he was a stalwart for clubs such as Cobham & Colliers Wood United. He also turned out for Camberwell Evangelical Church, for he he laced up on a Saturday, & took a pew at on Sundays. Once the season is underway the Supporters' Team will take on the Church side in a friendly game at Belair Park, in Ian's memory, so we can pay our respects to him doing what he loved most...playing football!
Some might say Ian moaned too much on the pitch, but if you analysed that it was not malicious, but more borne out of frustration, having played at a much higher level than the rest of us. If you listened carefully he always encouraged, no matter how limited in ability you may have been, compared to him. And no mater if he never knew you, he always made a point of talking to new players to the Supporters' Team & putting them at ease.
For sure everyone who has played alongside him over the years will be sure to have a story or two about him, & he will be sadly missed. It was a privilege to have been at his recent funeral service along with a number of the Supporters' Team, & wonderfully uplifting for such a sad occasion to be almost a happy one too, as his life was celebrated.
As well as being a Dulwich Hamlet fan, his first visit to the old Champion Hill was in the sixties, & he could recall amateur internationals being played here, Ian was also a staunch Crystal Palace supporter, so it is truly fitting that he is remembered here this evening with the Eagles as our opposition, & we thank them for agreeing to respect his memory.
No doubt he will be looking down from the 'great football ground in the sky', while chewing the fat with the likes of Hamlet legends Edgar Kail & Tommy Jover, telling them how they should have played!
Among the floral tributes at his funeral were ones from Dulwich Hamlet Football Club & the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team; with the Football club itself being represented by Club Chairman, Mr. Jack Payne.
Rest In Peace, Wrightie.
Mishi D. Morath, team secretary, Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' FC.