A reader took a trip down to the Old Spotted Dog on Monday and sent us these photos of how it looks, just days before the new football season kicks off.
To recap, it’s been over a year since Clapton fans last graced the ground due to a tightly-observed boycott.
This was sparked by the club chief exec Vince McBean putting the OSD’s future in doubt by placing it in liquidation claiming the ground charity personally owes him £164.123.
This case is proceeding – very, very slowly – in the High Court.
Most Tons fans won’t have seen inside the Old Spotted Dog since spring 2017, aside perhaps from two occasions: a testimonial match for long-serving player Jerry Jairette (he was kicked out of the club after 10 years soon after for criticising clubs who had banned fans); and a couple of free entry youth team games (the entire youth set-up has since decided to quit the club),
So how is the Old Spotted Dog looking while we’ve been away? Well, the roof of the extended Scaffold stand has partially disappeared.
On the Scaffold stand itself, one of the Ultras’ forgotten banners lies forlorn in a ball at the back.
Considerable staying power given it has survived winds and winter.
In front of the dugout, it looks like some of the away team’s dugout had collapsed. though that may slot back in.
It’s fair to say the dugout area probably hasn’t had a spring clean in a while, judging by the leaves, litter and weeds.
For unknown reasons, the men’s toilets has become the women’s, and vice versa. It’s unclear what’s happened inside. Have the urinals been moved?.
Incidentally, it has now been revealed that these toilets were provided to the Old Spotted Dog for free by the building firm who worked on St Bon’s school across the road,
The Old Spotted Dog pitch, like most non-league football and other sports grounds, has been hammered in the heatwave.
There’s certainly nothing unusual in the yellow colour of the grass – lots of pitches and indeed lawns look similar after being parched of rain – though the multi-coloured patches are a bit strange.
However, the pitch could do with a clean-up and a rake, with quite a bit of rubbish visible at the Disraeli Road end of the ground, and autumn leaves already covering the Margery Park Road end.
Litter strewn across the pitch
That could all be cleaned up relatively easily.
What is a little worrying that after the recent downpour of rain, there already appears to be a muddy goalmouth at the Margery Park Road end, as this picture taken ahead of the friendly with rebooted club Upton Park FC shows.
The spectator areas around the ground in general are in need of some attention, particularly weeding and mowing.
The Old Spotted Dog is certainly not in quite the horrendous state that we saw it last season, when a photo gallery posted on the Clapton Ultras Twitter account finally got some major hazards cordoned off.
But it’s clear there’s not a lot of love and care being applied either. The entrance sign to the ground, for instance, still proclaims a welcome to ‘Clapto’, nearly two years on from being damaged by an errant ball.
We understand the liquidator currently in charge of the Old Spotted Dog has been allowing the previous committee, led by Clapton chief exec Vince McBean, to remain in charge of the ground and responsible for its upkeep.
A Save The Old Spotted Dog spokesman said: “It’s clear that nobody is currently thinking about protecting the future of the OSD as a valued community asset.
“The sooner it is returned to the people of Newham, the sooner it can be looked after by those who genuinely care about it.
“The woeful lack of care means it will need considerable investment when it is returned to local community control.”
The next stage in the legal tussle over the Old Spotted Dog will be a cost management hearing at the High Court, currently slated for August 17th, with a full trial perhaps as far away as early 2019.
Meanwhile Clapton fans, life members and former committee members announced plans to field a team in the Middlesex League next season under the name Clapton Community Football Club, and run entirely by members.
Clapton CFC will be playing home games at Wadham Lodge in Walthamstow although it has pledged to bring “members-run community football back to E7 as soon as possible.”