DULWICH HAMLET, one of non-league football’s most celebrated names with a rich and colourful history, unusual strip and a modern social movement that has seen crowds soar from a very lowly position, will be weeping this weekend.

The club’s most devoted fan, Mishi Morath, died this week after enduring ill-health for much of 2019. A larger-than-life character, Mishi was a great lover of non-league football and understood its place in society.

He was typical of many stalwarts around the country, people that clubs like Dulwich rely on to carry the flame. He was instrumental in driving support for Dulwich when they looked like they were going to remain homeless and he was a great student of the club’s history. Not for nothing was he known as Mishi Dulwich Morath.

Mishi’s passing means there will be a gap on the terracing at Dulwich. Indeed, there will be something missing from South London non-league football. One of its great characters has seen his last game.

There are dozens of Mishi Morath’s around the country and mostly, they are taken for granted. They might be club officials, secretaries, gatemen, supporters club officers, stewards, in charge of hospitality, programme editors or just fans who pay their entrance fee every game for decades.

The devotee whose weekend is ruined by a bad result never truly gets repaid for their loyalty. The players can never feel as much pain or joy as the fan who never misses a game and considers the local “United” are his or her family. But in this age of great distractions, it is possible that we are seeing the gradual fade-out of the die-hard.

Mishi Morath was a much-loved figure at Dulwich and was instantly recognisable by fans at other clubs. He lent his support to a campaign to save Hitchin Town’s Top Field, speaking with intensity about the need to preserve non-league football grounds. His death is a reminder to clubs to cherish the people that do give up their time, their nervous systems and their energy in support of their local non-league club.

This weekend, we should not only remember Dulwich’s Mr Morath, we should also acknowledge that he epitomised the spirit of non-league football.

RIP Mishi Morath.

@GameofthePeople