Downs FC are about to start their second season with a new manager, a new league and some new faces on the pitch.
The club was created last year by supporters of Clapton FC, to help grow football in the community.
The name Downs was chosen to pay homage to Clapton’s roots, and the team wears a navy blue kit with a Maltese cross badge as Clapton originally did in 1878.
Downs played their inaugural year in the Essex Sunday Corinthian league in the Premier Division, but have have changed their focus this season from competing at a higher level to creating a new team from players in the community that want to improve, or who might not traditionally have the opportunities to join a team.
Regardless of one’s background, immigration status, or financial position, Downs aims to be accessible, inclusive and affordable to anyone that wants a chance to play.
Part of this restructuring and focus includes working with former player and new manager, Justin Cummins and assistant manager Mark Anthony Smith, who both share the club’s goal of building a foundation to grow from.
Justin is a seasoned Sunday league player himself and brings this personal insight along with his coaching experience.
We met up with manager Justin to learn more about his background and aspirations for the club this season.
How did you get into football?
“My family were very much into football, my grandad used to own a pub in Bethnal Green so football was always on every Saturday. My aunt was my first memory of being showed how to play football”.
Any favourite players growing up?
“It was always Ryan Giggs, he was Cristiano Ronaldo of his era. He was a left footed mix raced winger, I wanted to be that guy.
“R9 Ronaldo was a dream to watch. What he could do with a ball I still don’t think can be matched. Best striker ever to grace the pitch.”
What managers have you admired?
“Always loved Jose for his attitude toward the game, his arrogance was always great to watch.
“‘Arry for his man management, second to none in my opinion”.
Is it true you once played for Barbados?
“I knew I wasn’t gonna get to play for England so thought I’d try out for Barbados.
“I went out for 2 weeks and trained and then played a friendly”.
Which Downs players should we keep an eye out for this season?
“I’d say ‘Fire’ up front. If this guy isn’t top scorer in our division I’ll question everything I know about football.
“Tom Clancy will be a rock for us at the back. But we also have some key players in other areas”.
What’s the aim for this season for Downs?
“My goal as Downs manager is to build some solid foundations for the future.
“I’m aiming for some silverware this year. Would love to give everyone a day out for a cup final”.
Other plans this year include opening up club membership to anyone that would like to help grow and support the club, regular pub quizzes with players and supporters, friendlies when the team doesn’t have a league game and a variety of other events.
Downs FC is proudly sponsored by craft beer pub The Wanstead Tap in Forest Gate and are always looking for other organisations in the community that might want to help support the team.
Downs play in the third division of the Hackney & Leyton League. Downs plays their first game this Sunday, September 10 away to Gladstone Wanderers. All games are at Hackney Marshes and kick off at 10:30am.