BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Gavin Rose was fully supportive of Dulwich Hamlet matches going back behind closed doors – and reckons players at their level are taking greater risks because of a lack of adequate testing measures.
The National League South season started in the middle of October and the Champion Hill outfit had 1,078 supporters at their 2-1 win over Eastbourne Borough on December 7 when restrictions for admitting paying punters were slightly eased.
But Dulwich chose to play last week’s FA Trophy tie against Cheshunt behind closed doors after the government announcement that London was set to move into tier three.
The capital has now gone into a newly-formed tier four due to the alarming spread of Covid-19 cases.
Asked about Hamlet’s decision to act before the measures kicked in, Dulwich boss Rose said: “You have got to go with caution first.
“To be really honest with you, the measures and precautions for players and staff isn’t anywhere near good enough. That isn’t levelled at the league or even our club – it is across the board.
“We have been deemed elite sport but there are players [in the professional game] being tested every two days and you then compare that to us – we don’t get tested at all.
“That side of things should be improved. If we are deemed as elite then we should be able to get the same peace of mind that we’re okay and the people all around us are okay.
“Instead we are taking massive risks when we do train or go to stadiums.
“We should have the same health measures as the top clubs to make sure the virus doesn’t spread.
“Everyone wants to play football. But, at the same time, is it really worth it? We have all got families. There is no comparison between what the boys at our level get and the boys at the top get. They are getting looked after but we’re taking the same risks.
“We are very fortunate and privileged that we get to go to work, but you’ve got to balance up when that becomes counterproductive.”
Dulwich have been unable to shift out some of their fringe players as leagues below have been hugely impacted by the pandemic.
“We can use the government scheme to furlough the ones who are not going to play,” said Rose.
“It’s not ideal, you’d like the boys to be able to go and get football. But we haven’t got the Isthmian League to kick back on – there is usually that opportunity. Now there is no room at the inn.”
Dulwich were knocked out of the FA Trophy on Saturday as they lost 2-1 at home to Hornchurch.
Sanchez Ming’s penalty had put them into an early lead but Sam Higgins levelled from the spot.
Charlie Ruff then bagged an 86th-minute clincher.
Hamlet are due to be at home to Welling United on Boxing Day.
They were on a five-game unbeaten run until a 1-0 reverse to Oxford City.
Bromley host Sutton United on Boxing Day.
Tooting & Mitcham have cancelled the two friendlies they had planned as they fall into the new tier four.
“Anyone who had already purchased tickets for the games will be refunded in due course,” said a Terrors statement.
“The club would like to take this opportunity to thank all the club’s staff, coaches, volunteers and fans for their hard work and support during the first half of the season.”
Tooting have only played seven matches, with their last fixture on October 31.
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
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