BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Gavin Rose is due a wage rise after Dulwich Hamlet’s promotion to National League South – but won’t be taking it.
The long-serving manager, who has accrued over 350 games in charge of the South London club, has a contract until next summer.
But Rose says the time is not right for a bump in his own salary as Hamlet struggle with the financial realities of being locked out of their Champion Hill home.
Meadow Residential, who own the ground and are in a bitter dispute over their rebuilding plans as they clash with Southwark Council, have locked the doors with Dulwich finishing the 2017-18 campaign at Tooting & Mitcham’s KNK Stadium.
“Going up would have triggered an increase in my salary but I haven’t taken that option,” said Rose. “I’ve decided to stay on the salary I am on – at least as this current moment.
“I’m trying to limit any issues financially for the club. I’ve got to make sure we are a steady ship and maybe next season or during this year we can be in a better position to maybe discuss an extension.”
Not only has Rose led Dulwich to two promotions during his tenure – with gates skyrocketing at Champion Hill to regularly be in excess of 1,500 – a host of players have got moves into the professional game.
Sometimes that has been rebuilding footballers. A prime example is Reise Allassani, who joined Coventry City at the end of last month after spending the last campaign with Dulwich.
The 22-year-old was backed for big things while at Crystal Palace – winning international recognition with England at youth level – but signed for Hamlet in October 2017 after a lengthy spell out following knee surgery.
Allassani had been unattached for 15 months before arriving at Dulwich and thanked Rose “for giving me a chance when no-one else would”. Now he is on the Sky Blues payroll until at least 2020.
“I didn’t see Reise as a risk in terms of playing ability,” said the Hamlet boss. “But he has been groomed to play at a higher levels and the surroundings of non-league can be challenging and something he never really had to encounter before.
“That is no slight on his character. He has a lot of negativity about his professionalism which I felt was doing him a disservice as he tried to get a professional club and he was able to build his reputation again.
“He was a kid who was well-revered and well-thought of. Because things didn’t turn out the way they were expected to at a young age, a few didn’t want to see him come back.
“He has done something many wouldn’t do; he has gone down near the bottom of football – backed himself and backed his ability.
“I can tell you first-hand that his professionalism off the pitch was impeccable. In terms of the amount of work he did training-wise to make sure he was right before a game, he left no stone unturned.
“We are all proud of him. It was a joint effort from the club – Junior [Kadi, assistant boss] and all the other staff – to get him back playing at the level we think he should be playing as a minimum. His team-mates have helped and I know he is very grateful to them.
“We’ll just be encouraging him to keep working hard in his next challenge and to do well again.”
Dulwich have rejected bids they felt were derisory in the January window.
They have a sell-on if Coventry cash in on Allassani as well as a transfer fee.
“We felt the money we were offered in January was a little bit out of order,” said Rose. “The boy had scored quite a lot of goals up to January and we felt he deserved more – he would get into the first-team of a lot of the teams who were coming after him.
“They were trying to get him on the cheap. We felt we should take a risk, keep Reise and see if we could get promoted – even if he went for next to nothing – that it would be a positive for both parties. That’s literally what we have done.
“He’s had two season out of the professional game but he is someone who has grown up in that sort of environment. Mentally it won’t be a shock to the system but physically he might have to get his body back up to speed with the daily demands.
“But he did a lot of work on his own and I don’t think the step up will be that much.
“In football you need that little bit of luck, a manager has got to know when to use him and how to use him. If he gets that then there is nothing stopping him doing well at that level, at all.”
Rose has paid tribute to captain Kenny Beaney and Marc Weatherstone, who recently announced they were leaving.
“Kenny is someone myself and Junior have known since he was 15. He came through our academy. He went and then came back just over a couple of years ago, he has been my eyes and ears in the dressing room – reinforcing messages we’re trying to get across to the players.
“He has been immense for us and made a lot of sacrifices. Kenny runs his own business and it was demanding – now we are going up a league and there is the travelling if he possibly wouldn’t have played.
“Kenny doesn’t play football for money.
“Both lads have gone out on a high. Marc was vice-captain here and I never once questioned his character. His commitments off the park meant he thought it might be a step too far for him, especially for someone who wants to be on the field every week. He might have been in and out of the team.”