BY STEFAN FROST
Dulwich Hamlet held a minute’s applause before their National League South fixture against Billericay Town on Saturday to commemorate the passing of club legend Duncan Chapman.
In front of a record attendance of 3,334 fans at Champion Hill, players from both sides lined up on the centre circle prior to kick off to pay tribute to the former Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust chairman and sitting club director of the South London club.
Family and friends of Chapman gathered on the touchline to observe the ovation, donning the pink and blue colours of the home side as a proud reminder of what he held dear.
Once the minute ended, the family consortium began passionately chanting: “There’s only one Duncan Chapman”. Identical chants were sung by the west stand behind Bailey Vose, the Billericay goalkeeper, into the opening minutes of the game.
With great sadness we share the news that Duncan Chapman passed away peacefully overnight after loosing his battle with Cancer.
Arrangements will be made to celebrate his life at Saturdays Game.
— Dulwich Hamlet FC (@DulwichHamletFC) October 6, 2021
Dulwich fan Rebecca was distinctly moved by the clapping and chanting which took place, saying: “It’s good to remember someone that important to the club in the right way.”
Fellow fan Andy indicated the lasting impression which Chapman had on the fanbase: “He [Chapman] was an all-round gentleman and a hug part of the local community”.
News of Chapman’s passing was announced on Wednesday October 6, when it was revealed that he had lost his battle with cancer.
Words of remembrance were led by Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust, where Chapman had served as a chair. Their statement said: “It’s hard to believe that such a generous, kind friend has left us.
“Wise counsel to many, ale aficionado, curry lover, away day specialist, too often coach monitor, caring and giving to the last – Duncan, we will miss you desperately.”
Chapman was elected to the Trust’s Board in 2017 at a time when relations between the club and Meadow Residential – the owners of Champion Hill – were swiftly disintegrating. So much so that Dulwich Hamlet were soon uprooted and forced to play in Tooting.
A minutes applause ahead of the match in memory of the late Duncan Chapman. Forever in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/0p5AkIFaYT
— Dulwich Hamlet FC (@DulwichHamletFC) October 9, 2021
During this period of instability, Chapman was elected co-chair of the trust and proceeded to develop a dialogue with the council. He did this to help revive relations with the stadium owners, which eventually paid its dividends as a deal was struck with Meadow Residential, enabling the club to make its long-awaited return to Champion Hill in December 2018.
Chapman’s role in facilitating this resurgence has not been forgotten by Dulwich’s Community Lead Rob Hyneman, who said: “If it wasn’t for Duncan’s input, this club wouldn’t exist as it does today.
“Every Dulwich fan, every Dulwich board member, will remember the enormous impact he has had at this football club.”
In 2020, Chapman became the first trust member to be nominated for the board of directors, bringing the fans and the management structures within the club closer together.
Chapman’s passing leaves a huge void in the heart of Dulwich Hamlet, but his memory will live on within the club which he helped preserve for the benefit of the East Dulwich community.
TOP PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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