Friday, 12 June 2015

Four reasons why Xavier Vidal's move to Welling is good for Dulwich Hamlet

Ben Sibley

Xavier Vidal’s move to Welling United didn’t come as a shock, the majority of Dulwich Hamlet fans feared 2014-15 was to be his final season at the club.

This doesn’t make his departure any easier to take, Vidal was a key player for Hamlet right from the get-go after his graduation from the hugely-successful Aspire Academy.

While he will be missed, there are a number of reasons why we most definitely should not despair.


1. Yet another success for the Aspire Academy

Vidal is the latest in a long, long list of players who have graduated from Gavin Rose, Junior Kadi and Kevin James’ esteemed youth setup. The relationship between the academy and Dulwich Hamlet Football Club continues to be hugely positive for both parties.

As Vidal moves on, there are already several academy players on the verge of a regular place in the first-team. 18 year-old striker Shaun McCoulsky exploded onto the scene last autumn with three goals in two Ryman Premier Division games.

2. The opportunity for Jack Dixon to enjoy a more advanced midfield role

Signed from Lewes last November, centre-midfielder Dixon arrived at Champion Hill with a big reputation for scoring goals. He finished top-scorer for the Rooks in 2013-14 with 19 league goals and had netted another five last season before Gavin snapped him up.

Physically strong and comfortable with both feet, it’s no wonder Dicko was a regular goal-scorer. Indeed, he scored on his Dulwich debut away at Harrow Borough. Despite this, he spent the remainder of the season in a deeper role in front of the defence. With Dicko sitting, Xav and Ashley Carew pushed forward – with success – the two finished as the club’s two top goal-scorers in 14-15.

Xav’s departure opens the door for Dixon to challenge for the advanced midfield role he used to enjoy with Lewes. It will be interesting to see how Gavin deploys him next season but we’ve no doubt he’d be a more than capable replacement for Vidal.

3. Dixon’s possible role reversal could give Hibbert his desired midfield berth

The possibility of Dicko’s more advanced role then leads us to suggest a new regular position for Jordan Hibbert. In an interview last season, the ex-Chelsea trainee told us of his preference for a defensive midfield role. A youtube video titled ‘Midfield Controller’ confirms Hibbert’s experience of breaking up play and moving the ball quickly onto teammates.

Primarily used in defence last season, and displacing initial first-choice right-back Michael Abnett for the promotion run-in, Hibbert impressed. His brilliant assist for Harry Ottaway’s equaliser at Tonbridge Angels on the final day capped a fine period in which he cemented his place in the first-team.

Given Abnett’s impressive performances throughout the first half of the season, it wouldn’t be a surprise should he regain his right-back spot for next season. Dulwich’s pre-season programme will tell us whether or not Hibbert will be considered for his preferred DM position – we hope to see him get the chance.

4. Danny Waldren

Just days after a goal-scoring midfielder left Dulwich, another one joined. Danny Waldren, fresh from playing a key role in Bromley’s promotion to the National League, shook hands with Dulwich’s gleeful club secretary and signed for the Hamlet.

The hashtag in hat news-breaking tweet from Aspire Academy said it all - #Leader. Danny captained Croydon Athletic as a teenager and comes to Dulwich with a reputation for taking responsibility on the pitch. Hard-working but also technically-gifted, he has scored 10+ goals in each of the last six seasons.

His signing was something of a surprise given his importance to Bromley but his commitment to DHFC shouldn’t be underestimated. He told Football Exclusives he wouldn’t have made the move if he didn’t think Hamlet could win the league next season. Also telling was the reaction to his signing on social media by various Bromley fans.

Xav’s departure is of course a blow to Dulwich, for any team at any level to lose their top-scorer is never ideal. But Danny’s arrival gives us significant hope that the loss won’t be felt as much as it could have been – say it quietly but there’s a chance it might not be felt at all.

What do you think to Xav’s departure and the points we’ve made above? Let us know: @ForwardHamlet.

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