2017/18 ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE FIXTURES RELEASED

The Essex Senior League has finally released the fixtures for the forthcoming 2017/18 season and the first handful of games feature some new faces as well as familiar faces and old rivalries.

Clapton start the season this Saturday away to Basildon United at the Stuart Bingham Stadium – a repeat of our opening fixture in the 2015/16 season. The Bees have appointed the former Basildon Town management team of Mark Harrison and Liam Wallace in the summer, following the departure of Aron Bloxham. Former assistant manager Lee Connor has been appointed as the club’s new chairman and will be hoping United can improve on their 9th place finish last season.

The following Wednesday we travel to Cricklefield Stadium to face our old rivals, Ilford. It has been a summer of uncertainty for The Foxes after they were controversially voted out of the ESL at the AGM. However they successfully appealed to the FA and have now been reinstated. Former Clapton captain and current Ilford boss Allen Fenn will be hoping for a title challenge this season after signing a string of impressive players including last season’s league top scorer James Peagram who netted 45 times in all competitions for champions Barking.

Following our trip to Clacton in the FA Cup, we return to league action on Saturday 12th August for our first home game, against Woodford Town 2017. Woodford is the new name of the team formerly known as Haringey & Waltham, and going further back Greenhouse Sports, Greenhouse London, Mauritius Sports Association and Mauritius Sports & Pennant. Town have a familiar look at least in the dugout, with former Wadham Lodge manager Tony Ievoli taking the hotseat, assisted by former Tons assistant manager Neil Day. It is not known what links the setup has to Woodford Town who, with Vince McBean as their chairman, shared the Old Spotted Dog with Clapton in 1999 before going bust in 2003.

We then travel to Mile End Stadium on Friday 25th August to face Tower Hamlets. Last season 308 fans piled through the gates for the corresponding fixture, also on a Friday night, and no doubt Hamlets will be hoping for a similar or increased attendance this season. AJ Ashinike has returned as manager and has recruited some impressive looking players, including former Barking and Ilford hotshot Wale Odedoyun and will be hoping his team can improve on their 20th place finish last season.

The rest of the fixtures are still being finalised and will be put on our fixtures page soon.

IN PRAISE OF JERRY JAIRETTE – PLAYERS, COACHES AND MANAGERS PAY TRIBUTE TO CLAPTON’S TESTIMONIAL HERO

Jerry Jairette in action for Old Ford Under 9s

Neil Day

If one player deserves the adulation of the supporters it is Jerry.

I’m taken back to the pre Ultras days with Woodsy and myself trying to put a team together. A guy turns up at training, cigarette in his mouth and probably the worst refuelling habits seen even at the Spotted Dog.

But this guy could really play, any position, any conditions, 1 fan or 500, 100% commitment every time.

Jerry’s the hardest working player I’ve ever seen and I don’t give that accolade out lightly. A coach’s dream, versatile, fearless and unfazed by any opposition.

Our paths have crossed a few times in recent years on opposing sides and he was as much the heartbeat of the new improved Clapton as he was all those years before.

A heartfelt thanks for all his efforts for Chris and me in the past. Well done Abs, proud of you.

Jonny Fowell

When I first met the players I said I wanted to win the league. Jerry laughed and said “not with no budget, I’m Clapton captain and we have never challenged”. But he has been a true leader and loves Clapton.

I love his attitude towards the game. He’s a great lad and deserve everything he gets on Saturday. Hope the fans turn up in their hundreds.

Marc Nurse-Moore

I have known Jerry for 6 years mainly as his football coach and it has been a pleasure.

Jerry is a player with tremendous ability who should be playing at a higher level, however  his commitment has helped Clapton improve over recent years.

10 years is a massive achievement at this level.

Stuart Purcell

Jerry was always very committed and passionate about playing for Clapton and also ensuring everyone else had the same level  of desire. Big character in the dressing room. Top player and top lad.

Enrico Tiritera

A versatile player from central midfielder to left winger to left back and even goalkeeper.

In the Gordon Brasted semi-final 1-0 win v Haringey he made a great goal line save to deny them a goal. He was red carded but the penalty saved.

Couldn’t ask more from a great team player! Clapton legend.

Andre Thomas

Saturday 23rd August 2016, my second game in charge and my first 3pm Saturday game. Some will remember it as Clapton’s 138th birthday, others because we won 5-2 vs Eton Manor, but I’ll always remember it for the conversation I heard in the players’ huddle right before kick-off.

There was no shock to whose voice was loudest, rallying reassuring and encouraging his teammates. Yeah, you guessed it, our captain, our leader and our legend, Jerry Jairette.

As I walked over, I heard Jerry say: “We all like Dré and we all want him to get the job, let’s go and put our all in for him.” I heard this but until now I haven’t told anyone. I didn’t want anyone to see how much these words touched me and wanted the boys to remain focused.

So I went to the dugout, took my seat, soaked it in and smiled. I said to myself, “if an influential, hardworking, committed, talented consistent player thinks highly of me after only working with me for a season, I must be OK”.

And that’s what Jerry does. He inspires, he fights, he believes, he speaks his mind, he executes his ideas. He doesn’t know when and how to stop. He doesn’t know how to give up or give in. Some of the many reasons why we’re here celebrating his 10 years at Clapton.

He’s been a joy to work with. His attitude, perseverance and open nature has helped me as a coach as I now have a basis for what I expect from players as a minimum.
To put the cherry on top, Jerry is a top, top player. His anticipation, tactical nous, technical ability and skill set, his first touch, his vision, his fitness and his heart is unmatched.

Jerry isn’t a player who WILL play anywhere. Jerry is a player who CAN play everywhere. There is a big difference. He understands the game, what is required from each position from 1-11 and wins his individual battle, inspiring his teammates to follow.

Can you please name me another player, at any level, who has kept a clean sheet, saved a penalty, scored, created assists…all in one season!…..for 10 seasons?!

Mike Walther

Jerry was always a major player both in and out of the dressing room. He has Clapton in his blood.

Sometimes you would get a call at 1.15pm on a Saturday saying he could not make it, he would train infrequently, and sometimes looked worse for wear.

But when Jerry stepped onto the pitch, he was like a man possessed.

In the Gordon Brasted Cup Final win against Stansted, Jerry was a key figure in keeping the danger man quiet.

The biggest compliment I can give Jerry is that he is the best all round player in my time at the club.

Warren Mfula, Fahad Nyanja, Eamon Payne, Nathan Cook, Johnny Ashman, Paul Oshin, Sherwin Stanley, all played for me at Clapton, but for all their ability, Jerry is the best all round player.

If ever I needed a player to be stopped in the game, Jerry was the man, and on the ball, everyone knows he is quality. He is the only player at Clapton who anticipates the bounce, and plays every pass on the volley!

Chris Wood

Great to see Jerry has been honoured with a testimonial, hope he gets the gate receipts! A tireless worker, a player that could adapt to any position, even keeper!

Sometimes I would wish for his efforts on the pitch to rub off on the other lads, but then next game he’d stroll into the changing room at 10 to 3!

Well done Jerry enjoy your game, you’re like a stick of rock, red and white with Clapton written through the middle.

Johnny Ashman

Jerry as a leader is second to none, his professional attitude kicks in as soon as he gets in the changing room and that only spreads to the other players.

He is also technically a good footballer making the Spotted Dog look like he’s playing on Camp Nou at times.

He’s also not afraid to make a crunching tackle to get the team going if it’s needed. I hope to see him playing for many seasons to come.

Shomari Barnwell

Great guy and really welcoming when I first came to the club and he was a great leader as everyone knows. Heart of a lion and he always gives 100 percent for the team and the fans.

James Briggs

He’s the most diehard player I’ve ever played with and knows exactly how to motivate you when you’re not on your game! He can mix his game from intricate passing to aggressive tackles.

Off the pitch he’s even better, he says it how it is and is always up for a laugh. Proper legend!

Khadean Campbell

On the pitch i have never seen anyone with so much heart and passion like Jerry, like Clapton’s Kante! Was a pleasure to play with and off the pitch you couldn’t meet a nicer guy. Fighter on the pitch and a great guy off it, he deserves this testimonial.

Tony Cookey

Jerry is an amazing person on and off the pitch, hard worker and always determined to win. He is a winner, Glad to have played with such a professional.

Quincy Egbejale

Jerry is a great leader off and on the pitch. He’s willing to do anything in order for the team to win! He’s a great man as he encourage us younger lads to strive for more at the club.

Kristian Haighton

Jerry – aka Mr Clapton! He has been at the club many years now and you can see that in the way that he plays with heart and desire.

He has a lot of passion for the club and so much love for the fans. The fans deserve fight, passion, love, desire from all players but Jerry consistently shows that through every performance.

Tom Jeffes

A player who has fantastic ability that can turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye. I have seen so many wonders in the short period I was there. Jerry also has a nasty side that you need in every team, a player that you love playing with but hate playing against.

A top bloke who deserves this weekend for the superb service he has given the club through a very tough period. Top man.

Leon Lewis

A hardworking, loyal, inspirational, great leader. At training he’s unstoppable!

Warren Mfula

Jerry’s commitment and love for the club showed in every single match he was involved inn.

He even volunteered to play in any position he was asked to and even in goal so that alone shows what kind of love he has for the club.

I am very happy for the club to organise a testimonial match for him. True Clapton legend.

Fahad Nyanja

I first met Jerry when I was playing for Claptons under 16 and he was in the senior team.

He was a very aggressive player who never backed out of a challenge. He loved slide tackling which I thought was crazy given the state of the pitch at the time.

A very versatile player. Played in goal, defence, midfield and striker. I actually don’t know what he’s best position is.

Off the pitch he’s a great family man. Has two beautiful kids. He’s always given me positive advice on and off the pitch.

Always tells me how I could be a better player if I ever had a first touch. So every time I train with him or play with him I am always trying to prove to him that I have worked on my first touch.

During the years I have looked up to him. How he carries himself on the pitch. How he puts 100% and leaves nothing behind.

Geoff Ocran

For the majority of the 10 years Jerry has been at Clapton, we’ve been rivals more than team mates. I often tried to tap him up to join me but his loyalties always remained with his local club.

He’s selfless, optimistic, competitive and passionate about everything he does. Having seen the club transcend from single digit attendances to currently one of the best supported clubs at this level, Jerry deserves every accolade for this achievement.

A true Clapton legend in every sense of the word!

Eamon Payne

The only player who can turn up 2 minutes before a game and be ready to play 120 mins in any position.

He calls things as he sees them, an open-minded person and I respect him as a player and a person.

He speaks to everyone and anyone, a humble Clapton legend and his work ethic is crazy.

He’s a no nonsense hard battler on the pitch and off the pitch he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met.

Ryan Reed

For the season I’ve played with Jerry you can see his heart when playing for Clapton FC. Every game, every minute he plays he gives 100% and you can’t teach that,

So fair play to Mr Clapton.

Jake Stevens

Jerry is a top player, great footballing brain and bundles of technical ability.

Playing with him was easy, because you always knew he would do something positive with the ball (it helps that he knows every bobble and hole on the Spotted Dog like the back of his hand).

What stands out to me above his footballing talents, was his pure passion for the club and fans. As a new player he drags you into the club ethos and makes you feel a part of it immediately.

He played in every position available, never grumbled and excelled at every one.

Favourite memory is his Suarez-esque ‘save’ in the 1-0 Cup Semi-Final win vs Haringey in 2015, he got a red card, they missed the penalty and we went through.

CLAPTON’S FA CUP AND FA YOUTH CUP DRAWS ANNOUNCED

The FA Vase draw was announced today but Clapton are already through to the first round proper

Clapton have been drawn away at FC Clacton in the FA Cup extra preliminary round.

The trip to the Essex seaside to face the Eastern Counties League club, who play at the same level as Clapton, will be on August 5th, the week after the Essex Senior League campaign begins.

If the Tons get through that, they’ll earn £1,500, then face Norwich United at home in the preliminary round two weeks later, August 19th.

Get past the Isthmian League North side and there’s just another 12 wins before we see Jerry Jairette lift the FA Cup trophy at Wembley.

Meanwhile Clapton did not feature in the FA Vase draw after being handed a bye to the first round proper for finishing in the top 4 in the Essex Senior League. They will make their debut on October 21st.

The Tons are also in the FA Youth Cup, and will travel away to Thurrock or Aveley during the week of September 18th.

Last season the team was withdrawn days before their tie due to lack of players, following the axing of the club’s youth system, but New Revolution Sports have stepped in to relaunch it now.

All three draws were made today behind closed doors at the FA HQ and published online this lunchtime.

PRE-SEASON KICKS OFF WITH TESTIMONIAL BUT GROUND ISSUE STILL DOGGED BY CONFUSION

A picture of the Old Spotted Dog pitch this week, posted by team manager Jonny Fowell

With just days until Clapton’s pre-season officially kicks off, uncertainty continues to dog preparations, as questions remain over the ground’s liquidation.

Following the Essex Senior League AGM in June, Clapton released a statement confirming the club had secured its league status for the 2017/18 season, adding that the home venue will continue to be the Old Spotted Dog.

However, it is still unclear if the ESL and the FA have received the assurance they needed over the ground’s viability as the leaseholding company attempts to go into voluntary liquidation.

Both authorities had given the Tons – and fellow tenants Hackney Wick FC – a final deadline to prove they had the right to play at the OSD for the full season.

But sources have been left scratching their heads as to how that undertaking could have been provided while the liquidation process is at a stalemate. Further court proceedings are due later this month.

Nevertheless, preparations for the new season at the Old Spotted Dog visibly continue, with the grass mown and the lines marked out.

The pitch appears to be wider than last season, with a previous marking that can be a yard or so inside the pitch.

Five games are scheduled to take place before the league season kicks off on Saturday 29th July.

The league fixture list isn’t due to be released until mid-July, however, as the ESL must wait for the Isthmian League list  to be completed.

Our first FA Cup game should take place on Saturday 5th August. The draw will be made on Friday 7th July with both Clapton and Hackney Wick publicly saying they are included.

Jerry Jairette’s testimonial

A well-deserved testimonial to mark the club captain’s 10 years at the club kicks off the pre-season fixtures, A statement has said the game WILL take place at the Old Spotted Dog,

We’ll have lots more on this game in the coming days.

Pre-season friendlies

Thursday, July 13th – Thurrock
Tuesday July 18th – Aveley
Saturday July 22nd – Barnet Academy
Tuesday July 25th – Brimsdown Rovers

 

MEET THE 11 NEW TONS – THE WHO’S WHO OF CLAPTON’S SUMMER SIGNINGS

There have been lots of comings and goings at the Old Spotted Dog this summer

At Essex Senior League level there’s inevitably a high turnover of players from one season to the next.

Several members of last season’s history-making runners-up squad have moved on from Clapton to pastures new ahead of the upcoming 2017/8 season,

Disappointing for fans, but few could complain about players moving up the football pyramid. We’re planning a feature on the destination of former Tons soon.

However, as players leave, others arrive and there have already announced 10 new additions.

Allow us to introduce the new Tons…

Ignas Budvytis (goalkeeper)

Former clubs: Winchmore Hill (2016/17), Waltham Abbey U18s (2016/17), West Thurrock (2016/17)

Mark Kavanagh (goalkeeper)

Former clubs: None.

Mark told CFC News: “I’m 22 and Clapton will be the first team I’ve ever played for. I was invited to come down for pre-season and after hearing many good things about the club, I would’ve been stupid not to sign!

“As of the season ahead, I’m very confident! The lads are pulling their weight in training & there’s a good spirit around the camp. After last season’s second place finish we’ve only got one thing in mind & that’s to go one better!”

Josh Flynn (right-back)

Former clubs: Ebbsfleet United Academy, Grays Athletic Reserves, Redbridge.

Josh told CFC News: “I’m 21 but I’ve had about a year out of the game. I play right back but I consider myself a wing back, always overlapping and supporting the play as an outlet and getting crosses into the box.

“I feel like I can develop here. Great fans and contenders for the league. I don’t see why we can’t go one better than last season and gain promotion.”

Mustafa Kahie (midfield/full-back)

Former clubs: Eton Manor, Sporting Bengal, London APSA and Braintree Town.

Mustafa is back for his second stint at the club, after briefly playing some friendlies in pre-season last year. The 22-year-old – a midfielder who can also operate at full back – went on to make 24 starts for Eton Manor.

Mustafa, who was born in Finland, told CFC News: “I joined Clapton because i have a good relationship with the players and staff.

“I also love the atmosphere at the club and i know I’ll enjoy my time at the club. I also have faith in our team to do really well this season. Good bunch of guys willing to cause many upsets.”

Jordan Meikle (centre-back)

Former clubs: Sporting Bengal, Enfield 1893, Wadham Lodge

A seasoned Essex Senior League centre-back who started his career at Sporting Bengal, playing under Anwar Uddin and Steven Clarke.

He then spent time at Enfield 1893 and was most recently at Wadham Lodge under James Falaise & Kevin Lucas before a foot ligament injury ruled him out of the final games of the season.

He told CFC News he had a few offers from other ESL teams for the upcoming season, but decided that “Clapton was the stand out. Personally I felt it is the right club for me to develop and improve.”

Jordan is eager to push on from where Clapton finished last season as runners up and is looking forward to getting started.He learned about the team from former Ton James Briggs and experienced Clapton supporters firsthand as captain of their Sunday league team Downs FC.

Manager Jonny Fowell has said: “So glad to get Jordan on board, experienced centre-back and will improve our squad this season. Fans will love him. Welcome J”.

Jesse McKenzie (centre-back)

Former clubs: Bromley FC.

Jesse told CFC News: “I’m 18 years old, last season I played for and captained Bromley FC academy side. I’m a ball playing centre half that enjoys a good challenge.

“I’ve signed for Clapton because I feel that I’ve got a lot to learn and Clapton to is the best place for me to improve physically and also enhance my game understanding.”

Manager Jonny Fowell said: The staff are excited about this young 18-year-old centre-back. The former Bromley FC academy captain could be a real gem in the making”

Jeffrey Cobbiah (winger)

Former clubs: Bethnal Green United, Jolof Sports, East One

Jeffrey Was most recently with Jolof Sports in the Essex Alliance, where he scored 31 goals in 25 game last season.

Manager Jonny Fowell said: “Jeffrey is a silky skilful winger, quick direct and bags of skills. Came from Roy Fontaine who was at Enfield Town FC as 1st team coach.”

Craig Heskey (striker)

Former clubs: Clapton (2008/09), Sporting Bengal (2012/13), Harefield United (2015/16), Amersham Town (2016/17), Burnham Ramblers (2016/17).

Tons fans will be hoping that the goalscoring gene runs in the family as we welcome back Craig Heskey, cousin of former England international Emile.

Craig, 27, is an international striker in his own right. He played for Clapton 9 years ago and while at the club represented Antigua & Barbuda twice at under-20 level.

He was last seen at Burnham Ramblers in the ESL last season where he scored 4 goals in 10 appearances.

In a recent Dogcast interview, recently departed defender and last season’s Clapton player of the year Dylan Ebengo named Heskey as the best striker he had faced in the ESL in 2016/17.

Craig is also academy coach and a director of New Revolution Sports alongside Tons assistant Andre Thomas – the company that will be running Clapton’s U18s team this season.

Akin Obamakin (striker)

Former clubs: Barnet Youth, Tonbridge Angels Reserves.

Akin, 23, told CFC News: “Whilst studying in Birmingham I played for my university and had short spells at clubs in the Midlands area.

“Type of player: tricky, pace and hardworking and looking to score goals for Clapton FC!”

Manager Jonny Fowell said: “We are really excited about Akin, very quick, strong and direct. We believe he will do well this season. I really think once fit akin can cause defenders trouble with his pace. It’s frightening.”

Lee Flavin of Non League Chance said: “Delighted for our player Akin joining Clapton for the season. What a lovely lad. Hopefully he gifts you plenty of goals. He certainly has it in the locker.”

Caiden Imbert-Thomas (striker)

Former clubs: Euro Dagenham, Westhamians U21, Leatherhead U21, May & Baker

Caiden, 19, is the son of former Clapton manager Wilfred Thomas.

He told CFC News: “I signed to get first team experience with a good team that plays good football and with good management to guide me.

“I play as a false striker or a number ten I like to roam about and link up with my midfield. Also I’m creative and can score goals and assist too I’ve got good feet and a decent injection of pace but finding the net is a good strength too.

“I don’t see us doing anything but winning the league this year as the sides solid and good enough to do so.”

Breaking: Yusuf Bello

Eleventh signing announced today – more details to follow.

EXTRA ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE PROMOTION AND RELEGATION SPOTS CONFIRMED

Clapton players lift the runners-up shield – could they go one better and win the title in the upcoming season?

The upcoming Essex Senior League season is set to be more competitive than ever with up four clubs relegated and two promoted.

The FA is restructuring the football pyramid to add an extra division nationally at Step 3 (run by the Southern League) and at Step 4 (run by the Isthmian League).

As a one-off, there will be an extra 12 promotion places up for grabs across the 14 Step 5 leagues, including the ESL, to help fill these new leagues.

Those promotion spots will be allocated to runners-up clubs across England with good enough grounds and the best points per game average. So get your calculators ready.

Clubs in the ESL who already meet the ground requirements include some of the title favourites – Barkingside, FC Romania, Great Wakering Rovers, Ilford (if reinstated to the league), Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

Additionally, Takeley are known to be undergoing ground improvements, while Southend Manor say they have already spent £12,000 with more to come as they go all out for a promotion tilt.

Meanwhile the Old Spotted Dog, where Clapton and Hackney Wick are hoping to play next season, does not meet Step 4 standards so would need significant improvements.

A statement on the Clapton FC website last week said rather vaguely: “We still have our sights set on being promoted to the Ryman League in the future.”

Meanwhile at the bottom of the table, there is even more reorganisation planned ahead of the introduction of a ESL Division 2 for 2018/9.

The FA wants up to 4 teams relegated from the ESL next season to help fill up the new division 2.

However, rules also state ESL should have between 16 and 20 clubs. Therefore it seems unlikely that 4 clubs wlll go down. particularly with Eton Manor sitting out this season, possibly no Ilford, and perhaps 2 teams leaving via promotion too.

Automatic relegation is expected to continue from Step 5 each season – something that hasn’t happened when there was no Step 6.

 

SHOCK AS ILFORD FC VOTED OUT OF ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE

The Essex Senior League is set to start with 20 clubs next season after promotion frontrunners Ilford were sensationally voted out.

We can reveal that 16 member clubs voted in a secret ballot at last night’s AGM to expel the Foxes, with just 6 backing them to stay in.

The Essex Senior League told community station East London Radio that the issue was “several missed overdue deadlines for League fees & fines”  – something that Ilford dispute.

They also claimed to have ‘bent over backwards to help Ilford’.

Ilford, Clapton’s historic rivals stretching back to the 19th century, vowed on Twitter last night they would fight against the decision.

However they tweeted they could not say more due to legal issues. They later added that it was ‘being dealt with right now.’

It’s unclear who will deal with their appeal and what the deadline will be.

Meanwhile the coaches and players are continuing to prepare for the new season.

Eton Manor had already decided to take a year out as ‘non-playing members’ of the league with a view to returning next season.

Meanwhile Clapton and Hackney Wick’s situation remains unresolved as both clubs are understood to have been given extra time to confirm where they will play next season.

Haringey & Waltham have also confusingly changed their name to Woodford Town 2017 – unconnected to the newly-reformed Woodford Town who are starting life again in the Spartan South Midlands League.

The current Ilford FC was founded in 1987 after its predecessor was one many clubs swallowed up into Dagenham & Redbridge.

However, the Ilford FC it carries on from were one of the giants of the non-league, founded in 1881 and winning the FA Amateur Cup twice and the Essex Senior Cup 13 times among many honours.

Clapton fans, and wider followers of non-league football, will sincerely hope the issue is resolved and Ilford can return.

The 20 teams set to play in the Essex Senior League are as follows…

Barkingside
Basildon United
Burnham Ramblers
Clapton
Enfield 1893
FC Romania
Great Wakering Rovers
Hackney Wick
Hullbridge Sports
Redbridge
Sawbridgeworth Town
Southend Manor
Stansted
Takeley
Tower Hamlets
Wadham Lodge
Waltham Forest
West Essex
Woodford Town 2017