The Clapton players receive the applause after hanging on for a 1-0 win against Burnham Ramblers

Ten-man Clapton had to dig deep for a 1-0 win at home to Burnham Ramblers on Saturday courtesy of a first-half goal, some dogged defending and a debut penalty save.

But the first home league victory of the season was overshadowed by the news that playmaker Nathan Cook could be set for a lengthy lay-off after sustaining a broken collarbone.

Cook scored twice against Burnham in last season’s final-day 7-0 win against the Ramblers, and not unusually the midfielder had been Clapton’s greatest threat prior to his injury.

It’s ironic, then, that it was his replacement, striker Ikem Odeh, who struck the only goal of the game with virtually his first touch on 41 minutes.

And while Odeh seemed to pick up the baton in leading Clapton’s forward forays, the hosts never looked like repeating last season’s closing day demolition job.

And in the end, they were grateful to debutant goalkeeper Mark Kavanagh’s strong left hand as he repelled a Burnham penalty caught on video below:

From that point the red card shown to centreback Quincy Egbejale following the penalty incident gave the visitors a foothold they had barely merited up to that point.

And in the end the points were ground out thanks to Kavanagh’s heroics and a defence led by Dylan Ebengo on his first showing of the season following his dual registration with Cheshunt.

Yet as welcome as the points are, Cook’s injury took the shine of the day.

The severity of Cook’s injury was obvious as coach Ray Bartlett assisted a clearly uncomfortable Cook from the pitch.

Bartlett told Clapton FC News: “He got sandwiched between two guys, Nick [Loblack, another Clapton new boy] and one of their players, landed on his shoulder awkward and fractured it.

“I could tell it was broken when I ran on and looked. He said he didn’t have much feeling in his arm.

“I couldn’t take his top off so used it as a sling and pinned it up, till he got to hospital.”

Cook is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks and his injury seems likely to impact on his ability to do his job as a teacher for a while – a reminder of the risks players at this level of football face just for the joy of playing.

We wish Nathan a speedy recovery.

Match reports

With another tiny attendance, and bigger games elsewhere particularly in the FA Cup, there wasn’t much written about the game elsewhere.

Blogger John Fist visited but chose to watch the game outside with the Clapton fans. While he thought the game was “appalling”, he added that “the footballing experience was as much fun as John Fist has had in a long time.” Read his report here.

The Newham Recorder also wrote a short report which you can read here,


Players and coaches

Assistant manager Andre Thomas spoke to George Sessions of the Newham Recorder, admitting: “It was not one of the prettiest games for the fans who were watching through the gates or anyone else inside the ground and not for the players on both sides either, but it was all about the result.”

Debutant Mark Kavanagh was understandably delighted with his clean sheet and penalty save.

Aundre Spencer was also happy with his assist and the battling win.

CFC News man of the match: Ikem Odeh.

Attendance: Head count at 35, officially declared at 67.



Needham Market chairman Mark Morsley has praised the Clapton fans for their non-stop singing from outside the ground during the recent FA Cup clash.

Members of Real Clapton FC called for a boycott of games while chief executive Vince McBean tries to liquidate the club’s historic Old Spotted Dog in the high court. The Clapton Ultras fan group are respecting the decision, meaning games are being played in front of very sparse attendances.

But around 100 Tons supporters gathered outside to watch the game over the fence and sing in support of the team in their third FA Cup tie of the season.

Vastly experienced Morsley, who moved upstairs at the end of last season after a 19-year management career, admits he’d never seen anything like it before.

Speaking on the Mid Kent Mental Isthmian Show, Morsley said: “It was quite an experience, I have to say.

“Something happened that I’ve never seen before. Basically in previous games they’ve had a lot of supporters there. They’ve had a row with the owner now and all sorts.

“I was sitting in the stands and this guy who’s been watching them 30 years, really nice fella, tells us the story about these young people.

It’s a banana skin as well. Not the greatest pitch in the world.

“We’ve been playing for 15 minutes and all this noise breaks out. I’m thinking, is it a riot or something?

“At the far end, there’s this wall, with a big fence in front, and there must have been 100 supporters popping up, climbing up and all sorts.

“And they sing the whole game. I thought, fair play to them. The owner was walking by and he was getting a bit of grief.

“This guy in the stands says he thinks there is some skulduggery going on.

“Once we got the first goal it was fairly comfortable. To be fair, when our team went off, we
won 3-0… all these lads are cheering us, clapping us and saying well played.

“They played Clacton away in the FA Cup and they brought about 150. And they had the atmosphere, no trouble, just a right good craic.”


Jonny Fowell has brought in Colin Reid as head coach

Manager Jon Fowell has added four new players and seen seven depart in recent weeks as Clapton look to get their Essex Senior League campaign back on track.

The Tons sit in seventeenth spot, just one place above relegation zone, after an iffy start to the league campaign, though enjoyed two great wins in the FA Cup, including against higher level Norwich United.

Fowell has also appointed former Macclesfield Town and Bishops Stortford coach Colin Reid as his new head coach, alongside assistant manager Andre Thomas and Ray Bartlett, the first team coach.

Having drawn a blank in front of goal in four of the nine matches this season, much of the player changes have been up front.

As the Tons look for their first home win of the season against Burnham Ramblers on Saturday, here we run through the changes since our last article on arrivals and departures.



Attacking midfielder Raphael Duyile, a near ever-present since returning to the club last season, has joined Essex Senior League rivals Barkingside. Rafa scored once this season and three times last but now reunites with former Clapton manager Mike Walther and has already played twice for the ‘Side.

Striker Craig Heskey has rejoined his former club Burnham Ramblers, for whom he scored 4 in 10 games at the end of last season. What are the odds on a goal on his return to the Old Spotted Dog on Saturday? Heskey started just one game in his second spell at Clapton plus two sub appearances.

Another striker Anton Stephenson also departs after taking the assistant manager’s job at Barking. He reunites with Justin Gardner, with whom he worked at Tower Hamlets. Stephenson started one game – the FA Cup tie at FC Clacton where he scored the only goal – and made two sub appearances. He appears to have also signed as a player for Redbridge.

Grafting midfielder Dean Bouho, pacy wideman Mustafa Kahie, composed centre-back Jordan Meikle and young striker Caiden Imbert-Thomas have also left the club after just 1 start and 2 sub appearances between them this season.


Greg Akpele made his Clapton debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat against Needham Market after signing from Non-League Chance. Announcing the signing, Fowell said attacker Akpele “will be a sensation at this level.”

Akpele caught the eye of higher level clubs after scoring 11 goals in the Essex Senior League for Basildon United four seasons ago. After trials with professional clubs, including Leyton Orient, Dagenham & Redbridge, he then went on to short spells at Braintree Town, Hampton & Richmond. Kingstonian, Cheshunt, VCD Athletic, Barkingside and Burnham Ramblers. Last season he was at Romford in the Isthmian North, where he bagged 6 goals.

Tall striker Ikem Odeh enjoyed a dream debut for the Tons, scoring on his debut against Norwich United. Starting as a youth at St Albans City, he’s since played for Cockfosters and Berkhamsted, in the Spartan South Midlands League, the same level as the ESL, scoring 2 in 30 appearances,

Also newly registered are Nick LoBlack, a former Haringey & Waltham Development defender, and former Ilford player Scott Hill.


The Downs FC team line up at Hackney Marshes

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.”

The Downs players in training ahead of the new season

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”.

The season kicks off this weekend at Hackney Marshes

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.

You can follow Downs on Twitter or on Facebook.


Clapton fans are boycotting games and watching outside – this is the view when trying to view from outside the Spotted Dog gates

Needham Market were given a fright by the Tons, who edged it for the first hour before the visitors who play two leagues higher finally broke through.

As an FA Cup tie, it was well covered, as you can see below.

Match reports

The Newham Recorder’s Jacob Ranson was at the Old Spotted Dog to report on the match, noting that the “Tons dominated possession in the first-half.”

Visiting Needham Market fan Mark Valladares wrote a great blog about the game and his visit to the Old Spotted Dog, saying that “Clapton were enthusiastic, if a bit erratic… it looked for all the world as though they would take the lead.”

And the Needham Market FC website also carried a good match report by Mark Easlea. who also praised the home team for the first half showing but noted “Clapton… continue to have greater problems off the field than on it.”

The Non-League Paper also carried a short match report by David Ballheimer:


Getty Images sent a photographer, Alex Pantling, to take photos of the game. Here they are in batches of five – click left/right to scroll through:

A couple of visiting football fans also posted some photos and video clips.


Come on you planters #magicofthecup

A post shared by Alex PB (@alexbaynham) on

Players and coaches

We spoke to captain Jerry Jariette after the game on Facebook Live about the positive performance and disappointing result. Watch the video below.

Manager Jon Fowell, interviewed by Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder, said: “I thought we were the much better team for seventy minutes. We could have been two or three up before they even scored.”

And Ryan Reed was happy with the performance.

CFC News man of the match: Ryan Reed.

Attendance: Declared by Clapton at 143, head count at around half that.


A stirring second half comeback for the Tons grabbed a point

Clapton battled back from 2-0 down at half-time to grab a point thanks to a wonder long-range strike from Steven Sardinha and a neat finish from returning winger Aundre Spencer.

In front of a very sparse crowd as the fans continue to boycott – no more than 30 inside the Old Spotted Dog – the Sardinha goal was the main talking point with the distance estimated between 35 and 50 yards,

Here’s what we found on the game:

Match reports

In his match report, Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder judged the Sardinha worldie as 50 yards out.

The Waltham Forest FC website reprinted the report from Harry Gray of the Waltham Forest Guardian, also put the Sardinha goal at 50 yards.

The Clapton FC website published a rare match report, which noted a change in formation at half-time had led to a fightback and admitted it was “a fair result for both teams” and a “quiet night.”

Photos and videos

Players and coaches

CFC News man of the match: Steven Sardinha,

Attendance: Nothing declared yet, head count at about 25 to 30,



The teams in huddles just before kick-off 

The Clapton Ultras drummed up a huge crowd of 468 to Mile End stadium – the Ton’s biggest away game following for many decades.

The largely dreary game didn’t live up to that historic billing, however, with no goals and limited chances at either end.

Given the astonishing numbers of fans at the game, however, there was plenty of coverage online. Here it is:

Match reports

Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder wrote in his match report that: “The visitors had more of the ball… but Hamlets had better chances. Only a superb save from Emmanuel Olajide denied the home side a breakthrough.”

Scott Lanza wrote on the Essex Senior League official website that: “Both teams needed a win to kick-start their campaigns but ended up having to share a point.”

Photos and videos

The highlight of the match, from a Clapton perspective, was this superb low save by Emanuel Olajide late on.

Non-league groundhopper Richard Brock uploaded several clips during the game on his YouTube channel – including the one below of the teams entering the field.

Various others at the game posted pictures, such as these below:


#claptonfc #claptonultras

A post shared by @interesting_thinkpiece on

#ClaptonUltras #ClaptonFC #KeepSmiling

A post shared by Aidan JR (@generaladnan) on

#saufen #büffelhopping #mileendstadium #claptonfc #claptonultras #towerhamletsfc

A post shared by Florian van Buffel (@schnuebue) on

The Clapton FC Facebook page also posted a few snaps.

Players and coaches

We spoke to assistant manager Andre Thomas and defender Quincy Egbajale on Facebook Live after the game. Watch it below:

Andre also spoke to Jacob Ranson of the Newham Recorder about his disappointment with the draw, but added: “We’ll take the positive of our fourth consecutive clean sheet.”

CFC News man of the match: Emanuel Olajide.

Attendance: 468.