By Richard Cawley
Nathan Green is hoping to celebrate the third promotion of his career by helping Dulwich Hamlet reach Vanarama National South – and reckons it would be the sweetest of the lot.
The Bermondsey-born defender, 25, won the Ryman League Division One South title with Croydon in 2010. And two years later he was part of the Billericay Town side which claimed the Premier Division championship.
It looks a foregone conclusion that his old Essex club will be breaking open the champagne at the end of April – as they are four points ahead of Hamlet and have five matches in hand.
Dulwich needed almost a faultless second half of the campaign but have taken one point from a possible 12.
Green signed for Hamlet at the start of last season. He played League Two football for Dagenham & Redbridge and in the National League with Dartford Town.
“It’s probably coming up as the longest I’ve been at a club,” he said. “I don’t know if that is bad luck before. There have been a few times where the manager has left, so I’ve left.
“It’s just how it has worked out. I’ve never found a home until now where I felt really comfortable. It gives you more confidence and enjoyment. Most of the players who were here last season stayed and it is almost a family environment – you feel like you are playing with friends and not just random people.
“It would mean everything to win promotion here. It is the place I have grown the most as a player, it would make it 10 times better.”
Green, who plays left wing-back for Hamlet, represented Bermondsey & Rotherhithe PSFA district as a schoolboy. He had trials with Millwall and West Ham United.
“One of the main reasons I got told no was that I was too small,” he said. “It’s hard to believe now because I am 6-foot 2 now. I was a late bloomer.
“I wanted to play as high as I could but I never said I’m going to be able to play for a professional team. I did always say that whatever team I am at I could do better and play higher in the future.”
Dulwich’s progress is being put under threat by the uncertainty over their future – caught in the crossfire of a row between Southwark Council and Meadow Residential.
But Green is in no doubt that the potential of the South London club, whose gates are regularly around the 2,000-mark, can achieve great things.
“I feel they can go all the way to the Football League,” he said. “I’ve never been at a club with better coaches and the facilities are good too. I’ve learned so much. I’ve got no doubt they can get into the league.
“I knew Gavin Rose [Dulwich boss] from when he managed me at Fisher. I was 14 or 15. I played against Dulwich for Margate and I experienced the atmosphere.
“Everything went pear-shaped at Margate in the summer and Gavin contacted me and asked how I’d feel about coming down. I already knew what the coaches were all about and so it was an easy decision to make.
Green featured eight times for Dagenham & Redbridge, who he had joined for an undisclosed fee from Tonbridge Angels in June 2014. By the following January his contract had been terminated and he dropped back down the football pyramid with Dartford.
“I did okay at Dagenham but I had a lot of things to learn in a short space of time,” he said.
“I felt like I was a raw player and had a lot that needed to be taught to me but the club wasn’t doing so well at the time and the management team had a lot of pressure on them.
“They just wanted to get results and didn’t have that time to give to me.”