HACKNEY WICK MERGES INTO THE ESL

With the close of the Essex Senior League season less than a week to go, it appears we already have a new name penned in for the upcoming campaign. KNtU2y8l_400x400

Hackney Wick FC announced yesterday an exciting merger with an as yet unnamed ESL club, with The Wickers set to maintain their full name, colours and identity.

Speculation peaked immediately, after the Hackney club’s statement, over which club had been consumed by the (now) former Middlesex County League side.

Wadham Lodge were quick to quash Twitter rumours that they were involved, leaving the smart money on basement boys, Haringey & Waltham being the other half of the merge.

Frankenstein club, Haringey & Waltham experienced a torrid return to the ESL in 2016/17; The Purps didn’t secure a home ground until mid-September and finished the season dead last with a goal difference of minus eighty six.

H&W originally formed through a series of mergers, which included the historic Walthamstow Avenue and Leyton Pennant along with community club, Mauritius Sports. in 2013 they briefly changed into ‘Greenhouse’ after a linkup with the South London football charity, before reverting back last year.

Despite finishing 7th in the Middlesex County second tier, the merger means Hackney Wick will now jump through three levels of the football pyramid and could potentially compete in the FA Cup.

Hackney Wick does, however, have the backing, presence and infrastructure to put many ESL clubs in the shade. Although the climb up will mean having to leave Hackney, which doesn’t currently have a facility able to meet Step 5 ground grading standards.

The New River Stadium in Wood Green has been touted as a potential new home for Wick. The 5,000 capacity sports ground is primarily used for Rugby Union. newriverstadium_57c9a12234302

With their motto ‘Our borough, our club’, Hackney Wick will be keen on an eventual return to E9. Hackney hasn’t had a senior club since Clapton Orient left Millfields Road in 1930.

Clapton FC left Hackney for Forest Gate in 1888 and has never looked back.

CLAPTON FANS’ END OF SEASON AWARDS – THE RESULTS

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Pape Diagne received a special King Pape crown

 

After Clapton soundly beat Burnham 7-0 in their last game of the 2016/2017 season, fans joined the team on the pitch to see the Tons receive the Essex Senior League runners-up shield.

While there are still a few remaining fixtures to be played in the league, Clapton secured the second place spot with 92 points, 7 more than third place FC Romania who have one remaining fixture to play.

After the league award, the Ultras handed out their player awards for the season. 208 people voted across four categories: Most Improved Player, Goal of the Year, Best Player of the Year and Ultras Favourite Player of the Year.

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Geoff Ocran with his special award

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Andre Thomas collecting his special award

As the Clapton team had a lot of new faces this season, it was not surprising that almost all of the winners were collecting their Ultras awards for the first time.

 

 

 

 

Injured Clapton goalkeeper Pape Diagne, departing captain Geoff Ocran and assistant manager Andre Thomas were also recognised with special awards.

Each winner received a variety of prizes, including a one of a kind t-shirt designed by a Footy Ultra, depicting Steven Sardinha’s Wadham Lodge goal.

Most Improved Player

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For the Most Improved Player award, centre-back Quincy Egbejale came in third and midfielder Steven Sardinha came in second.

The winner was midfielder Ryan Reed, who started 22 games, had 33 appearances and scored 7 goals this season.

Reed was pivotal in creating chances and towards the end of the season, the combination of Reed and Ashman, with Jay Knight up front, was one of the most promising attacking presences we’ve ever seen at Clapton.

First place: Ryan Reed – 17%
Second place: Steven Sardinha – 16%
Third place: Quincy Egbejale – 12%

Goal of the Year

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Clapton scored 95 goals this season, so it was difficult to pick a favourite for Goal of the Year.

In third place, Nathan Cook’s recent Barca-esque goal against Enfield at home (6-2) in the 62nd minute on April 8th came in third.

Johnny Ashman’s last minute game deciding belter at Stansted (2-3) on January 7th in the 95th minute came in second.

In first place was a goal so lovely that it inspired a Footy Ultra, Clapton Ultras junior division, to draw a re-enactment.

The winner was of course, Steven Sardinha’s 48th minute goal at Wadham Lodge (0-2) on October 5th last year.

Sardinha beat 3 players from the edge of the box and then smashed it into the top corner of the goal, much to the delight of the Ultras who had gone behind the attacking goal that half.

First place: Wadham Lodge v Clapton (0-2) Steven Sardinha 48’ – 05/10/16 – 51%
Second place: Stansted v Clapton (2-3) Johnny Ashman 90+5’ – 07/01/17 – 22%
Third place: Clapton v Enfield (6-2) Nathan Cook 62’ – 08/04/17 – 15%

Best Player of the Year

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For Best Player of the Year, all three winners put on the Clapton shirt for the first time this season.

Second place was a tie between Ryan Reed and Steven Sardinha.

As winger Johnny Ashman quickly became a fan favourite this season, and already has two different songs that are sung about him, it was no surprise that he won the best player accolade.

Johnny had more appearances than anyone else on the team with 46 and started all but two games.

He scored ten goals, and is generally seen racing down the wing, beating players and creating chance after chance for the Tons.
First place: Johnny Ashman – 43%
Second place: (tie) Ryan Reed and Steven Sardinha – 12%

Ultras Favourite Player of the Year

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The Clapton Ultras Fan Favourite award is given to the Ton who best represents the spirit and passion of Clapton.

Third place went to the increasingly popular Steven Sardinha and second place went to last year’s winner and constant fan favourite, Nathan Cook.

First place was an easy one for people to select this year, our captain Jerry Jairette.

Not only has Jerry put in ten years service as a Ton, he’s one of those rare players that can play almost any position, and often had to this year as we went through a rotation of goalkeepers.

When he’s not on the pitch, Jerry also makes an effort to reach out to the fans.

Even during the mid-season boycott, he would make a point to come out and talk to supporters.

First place: Jerry Jairette – 45%
Second place: Nathan Cook – 12%
Third place: Steven Sardinha – 10%

CAPTAIN OCRAN TO PLAY LAST GAME FOR THE TONS

Geoff Ocran lifts the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy last season (photo: Clapton Ultras)

The Tons’ captain and fans’ favourite Geoff Ocran has revealed that tomorrow’s season finale against Burnham Ramblers will be his last game for the club.

Ocran, an almost ever-present in the team for the last few seasons, has only played seven games this term – the last being the 3-0 loss away to Barking in September – as he has struggled to recover from injury.

As revealed in an interview with Clapton FC News in November, what started as a knee injury spread to his achilles – however at that point he was hopeful of a return in the new year.

Andre Thomas, Miles Hunter and Geoff helping fans collect for the Newham Recorder Toy Appeal in December 2015 (photo: Newham Recorder)

It was not to be though and yesterday Geoff, who at 32 years old is an Essex Senior League veteran, took to Twitter to announce that he will be leaving the club, although Clapton fans may be pleased to hear it’s not to join a rival:

With what should be another historic day on Sat for , this Saturday will unfortunately be my last game for !

This is mainly due to not being able to commit full time to football at this level next season (to clarify before the conspiracy theories starts) 😂😂

He then went on to thank the managers and coaching staff he has played under, thanking former Tons boss Mike Walther for making him captain and praising current manager Jonny Fowell’s decision to give the captain’s armband to his good friend Jerry Jairette.

In and , Clapton will definitely push on with the obvious choice as new club captain!

Thanking for what has been a great 3 seasons not to mention for making me Captain

Fans will mainly remember Geoff for his reliable performances in midfield, however an undoubted highlight for most will be him guiding The Tons to success in the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy last season and lifting the trophy as captain.

Those wishing to show their appreciation should make sure they head to the Dog tomorrow for our last game of the season, kick-off at 3pm.

Geoff playing against Clapton for London APSA in the 2012/13 season (photo: London APSA)

CLAPTON END OF SEASON FANS AWARDS – VOTE NOW

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Nathan Cook with two awards last year – but who will win this year/ 

It’s been another historic season for Clapton and now it’s time to do the impossible and pick your highlights.

Voting is open now for the best player of the year, the most improved player as well the Ultras’ player of the year, which is for the terrace favourite.

You can vote for anyone who has represented Clapton at any point in 2016/7 in these three categories.

We’ve also selected a shortlist of seven of the best strikes for a goal of the season category.

Everyone is allowed to vote – once only – with the polls open until Saturday, April 22 at noon.

The winners will be unveiled later that day, after the Tons’ final game of the season at the Old Spotted Dog against Burnham Ramblers.

Vote here

CLAPTON MAKE HISTORY – AND ARE ON COURSE FOR SILVERWARE TOO

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Clapton on their way to the win that sealed a top three finish

Congratulations to Barking, who have wrapped up the Essex Senior League title and will play in the Isthmian League North Division next season.

While the champions were rightly celebrating their promotion, though, Clapton were quietly sealing an historic achievement of their own.

The 6-2 win over Enfield FC guaranteed the Tons would finish in the top 3 at least. That is the first time in 34 years, when Clapton won the 1982/3 Isthmian League Division Two title.

Before then, historians would have to go as far back as 1925/6 for a top 3 finish, meaning this is only the third season in 91 that the Tons have finished so high. Amazing stuff.

And after last year’s Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy Final success, where the Tons broke their 27-year trophy drought, there could be more silverware this season.

The runners-up in the Essex Senior League are given a shield to mark their achievement and it is understood the Tons will be presented with the award after the game on Saturday April 22 if they seal second spot.

Lee Connor of Basildon United with the Runners-Up Shield last season

The Tons are currently five points clear of FC Romania in the fight for runners-up spot and so a win in the last final game of the season, at home to Burnham Ramblers, will bag the runner-up place.

FC Romania meanwhile have two games remaining, away against Basildon United and away to Burnham Ramblers, and would need to win both and hope the Tons draw or lose to sneak into second place.

Whatever happens, Clapton are guaranteed to be in the top four, it also means they are one of 33 clubs around the country given a bye through to the first round proper of the FA Vase.

This will be the first time ever that the club has started its FA Vase campaign in the first round in the 35 years of entering the competition.

It gives the Tons a great chance of reaching the third round for the very first time, having been knocked out at the second round three times in the past.

Also between 1945 and 2013, the Tons only achieved 2 top half finishes. Now they have achieved 4 in the row, coinciding with the rise in supporters and the Clapton Ultras.

This season’s away form has been even more eye-catching. The 15 away wins is the best ever in Clapton history, beating the 12 notched up in 1982/3.

INS AND OUTS: WHO’LL BE IN THE ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE NEXT SEASON

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Fan-owned Saffon Walden Town FC – who have an average attendance of 199 – are looking to join the Essex Senior League

The Essex Senior League next season will see the exit of Barking to promotion and the return of Great Wakering Rovers after relegation.

However, Great Wakering, who spent two seasons in the Ryman North. might not be the only new club returning to the ESL…

Saffron Walden Town

Saffron Walden Town of the Eastern Counties League have announced they have applied for a sideways transfer to the ESL.

The Bloods were members of the ESL until 2002/3 and indeed won the title in 1999/2000 but were prevented from being promoted due to ground issues.

Based around 10 miles from Stansted and Takeley, if Saffron Walden are accepted it would nudge the boundary of the Essex Senior League further north.

However, the club face journeys up to 90 miles in their current league, so are on the fringes of whichever league they are placed in.

Excitingly for Tons fans, Saffron Walden have a big fanbase, topping the attendance table in the ECL with an average of 199, even despite a mid table season.

Not only that, but they are owned by supporters, after the club went to the wall five years ago only to be saved by fans with help from Supporters Direct among others.

Woodford Town

Woodford Town could also be returning to the Essex Senior League after a 15-year absence since their sad demise.

Historic Town, where Jimmy Greaves once played. were evicted from their Snakes Lane ground in 1993 because of complaints about noise from local residents. A fire later destroyed the main building in 1996.

They continued until 2003, groundsharing in Greenwich and then at Clapton’s Old Spotted Dog ground, before the league decided not to re-elect them.

Incidentally current Clapton chief executive Vince McBean was the Woodford chairman through some of its turbulent final years.

A resurrected Town played one season in the Spartan South Midlands League in 2015/6, based at Brimsdown Road (formerly used by Enfield Town and Enfield FC) and then later ground-sharing with Ware, before withdrawing.

It’s understood a new Woodford Town, with a committee of seven, have applied to the Essex Senior League and would play at Brimsdown Road.

Brentwood Town

Brentwood Town are currently one place above the Ryman North relegation zone, two points ahead of Ware with 3 games to play.

However, if Brentwood were to drop into the bottom three, they would also return to the Essex Senior League along with Great Wakering.

Brentwood were last in the ESL ten years ago and were actually in the Ryman Premier last season.

There is also an outside chance that Waltham Abbey could drop into the relegation zone if Brentwood, Ware and others end the season very well.

Departures

This is looking quieter. Sources have suggested that no club will be relegated out of the ESL.

However, could league officials be forced into a rethink given Barking are the only departure and there are four potential entrants to the league?

Or does it suggest one – or more – of the applicants will be turned down?

Could a current ESL club be voted out of the league? Indeed, hold a current ESL club look to transfer out to a different league themselves?

We will find out all the ins and outs later this month.

Next season’s shake-up

A major shake-up of the non-league pyramid will kick in from 2018/9.

The ESL will have between 16 and 20 clubs – and will have a second division too.

There will be extra leagues above Clapton’s level, meaning that there may well be more than one promotion place up for grabs.

We’ll write in more detail about this shake-up as details emerge.

NEWHAM COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED FILES FOR VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION

After reporting last month that Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited had failed to file its Confirmation Statement and was being threatened with being struck off, we can now reveal, in extremely worrying news for Clapton fans, that Newham Community Leisure Limited, the company and charity which holds the lease on The Old Spotted Dog Ground, has applied for voluntary liquidation.

In documents published by Companies House it is shown that the members of the trust entered voluntary liquidation and appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett, on 1st March 2017. The document is signed by Vincent McBean, Ransford Taylor and Trevor Gordon, who are listed as being the majority of the trustees of Newham Community Leisure Limited.

The documents also show that the trust owes £203,478 in ‘Long Term Loans’, as well as £2,001 in accountancy fees. The cost of liquidation until the payment of debts in full is estimated at £19,095.

At the moment it is unclear how this will affect Clapton FC. In the short-term it is understood that before the 31st March, the club have to provide the Essex Senior League and the FA with proof of their being able to play at the Old Spotted Dog for the entirety of next season. As the insolvency process can take some months, it is unknown how this could be provided. This may also affect London Bari FC who also play at the Dog.

The trust was set up in 1992 as Clapton Trust Limited before changing its name a year later to Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited. In January 1995, the then Directors of the trust negotiated a 99-year lease with the freeholder Grand Metropolitan Estates, securing the land for use as a sports ground.

It was struck off in 2003 after failing to file accounts, before being restored by Vince McBean in 2009. It appears from documents filed at this time that McBean attempted to transfer the lease from the trust, however it seems he was unable to do so. Since then the trust has regularly failed to file its Annual Return on time and has been threatened with being struck off twice. According to Companies House, the most recent Confirmation Statement (the newer form of the Annual Return) was due by 18th February 2017 and is currently overdue.

Clapton FC News understands that Real Clapton FC are in contact with the Charity Commission and the Liquidator in an attempt to safeguard the future of the ground. You can become a member of the club here and/or donate to their Supporters’ Action fund here.