“I DON’T THINK WOMEN WILL BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN FOOTBALL FOR A WHILE”: INTERVIEW WITH CLAPTON PHYSIO LIZZY MATTHEWS

Lizzy “Everyone thinks I’m weird but I love spending my weekend at football” Matthews

On Saturday, the Clapton Ultras raised £411.56 for the London Black Women’s Project through stickers, badges and a zine about women and football.

The zine is now sold out, but we’ve been allowed republish the interview it featured with Clapton physio Lizzy Matthews here.

Sports Therapy Graduate Lizzy has been with the Essex Senior League for 4 years. First at Bari, then Ilford and now Clapton’s dedicated physio since 2016. 

How did you get into physio?

Personal injuries. I wanted to see people go back to the pitches.

I played hockey at a high level at school. I then tore my ACL and lost the opportunity to go to America on a scholarship. From there, I developed the passion to help people rehab and return to sport.

I have been part time with West Ham Academy since a student and am hoping to go full time. I have an established business on the side and also do a couple of weeks a year with Nike Football.

Clapton and non-league football has been a big part of developing me – you see a lot more injuries at this level and that only helps to build my experience and portfolio.

Why do you volunteer at Clapton on top of your day job?

I find volunteering far more rewarding. Raising awareness of non-league football is a big passion. I benefit too – it helps me to keep progressing as a person.

Physio seems one of the few acceptable roles for women in football right now. Any comments?

Even though it’s the most accepted role it’s still really hard for women to get into. Even at this level, you don’t see many girls despite the constant need for volunteers.

There’s always been a stigma attached to women in football. Unfortunately, if you’re a woman with 20 men, people put two and two together and think things are going on.

I don’t want that being put on other girls and discouraging them from taking up football careers. I want to encourage more students – male and female – to develop the experience and confidence to do this role.

I mean, you saw the Carniero case? It’s tough being a girl – you get more attention just because you are a girl.

I’m going to say it. I was sexually assaulted by a guy, 18 months ago.  Just because I was a girl working in football.

That shouldn’t be acceptable. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to do a job because I am good at it and enjoy it. The boys to me are like family, they are like my brothers. That’s something I will never give up.

Have you experienced any other difficulties with the ESL?

Yes. When I was studying I had to juggle a lot of commitments. At a particular time of year I missed two games in a row because of Uni commitments.

When I missed another game due to helping at West Ham, I got a text saying ‘Sorry we don’t need you anymore. We are going to have to let you go sweetheart – you’re making everyone’s wives jealous. You can’t commit to the hours we give you and it’s with a heavy heart I’m going to have to let you go.’

I worry about the same thing happening other women. It’s exhausting but I’ve learnt to be a lot tougher.

The interview with Lizzy Matthews was first published in the Ultras’ fanzine, A Woman’s Place Is In The Scaffold

Do you think things have things changed for women in sport since you started?

No. 90% of the time women are pushed into the academy level and absent from men’s first teams. We are directed more to the junior boys, the safeguarding side, the softer side.

Often, having a mixed backroom team is far more beneficial. It can tone down the way that some people behave.  

With football it’s all about the glamorous women, the wags and it’s not about the glamorous women working football. I don’t think women will be taken seriously in football for a while.

Look at how much grief Sian Massey got for being the only female, Premier linesperson at that level. Those attitudes keep talented women out.

It only takes a couple of negative comments for aspiring girls to question going to the next level. But you’ve got to push yourself to succeed.

I really wish more girls would come forward and do this kind of work.

My advice is if it’s really something you want to do, stick it out. It’s not an easy job. You’ll get grief and come home upset at times. But it can work if you build a network you can turn to when you need it.

What’s it like for you being a football fan?

I was in Cafe Football last week with my boyfriend and it was the Barca PSG game on Valentines and there were these guys looking at me like, she doesn’t know what the fuck she is talking about, so I raised my glass to them ‘Cheers’, kept drinking.

I thought, it doesn’t matter who I am what I do, I am watching sport which I enjoy, when I’ve got an opinion, whether it’s right or wrong I’m entitled to it.

I thought I was right! It is a bit of a shit experience, getting asked whether you know the offside rule is because you’re a girl.

On Clapton…

Favourite moments or game?

Definitely the Gordon Brasted Trophy. It was my favourite day because we had our team day then our team night out. We had a really good tight bond then. We still do now but that day just wrapped up the whole season for us.

Who do you miss the most?

Peter Moore – he was so funny.

Our biggest miss is Pape…

Lizzy Matthews and Pape Diagne celebrate Clapton’s Gordon Brasted Trophy win

He is out for this season, at least. They are saying he has a slipped disc. He has been updating me. It will take time.

Current top three in the squad:

Kristian Haighton: Due to a really big squad, all the guys were fighting for their spot. When he got a place because another player turned up late was when Kristian changed in terms of his attitude and work rate. He deserves to wear that armband. He’s an all-rounder.

Nathan Cook: he is a show stopper for me. He makes it look so effortless, so graceful. He has a good attitude. If he’s on the bench he doesn’t kick up a fuss. I’ve got a good bond with him, great banter, he’s a lovely lad.

I’m torn between Jonny Ashman and Ryan Reed: Jonny makes it look fancy. Ryan’s goals have been absolute screamers.

Are we going to win the league, Lizzy?

I would love to win the League. It’s taken us a while but we have turned it around. We’re doing well. It’s better with you guys.

 

 

CLAPTON vs BARKING – TITLE RUN-IN

With the Tons not playing for a second successive weekend and Barking notching up yet another win in the absence of their title rivals, the top of the Essex Senior League is starting to take on a more settled shape as we enter the final stages of the season.

The Blues’ 3 – 5 win at Sporting Bengal on Saturday pulls open an eight point gap between first and second in the table. As the Upney club cashes in three of its four games in hand, with maximum return, Clapton can only rely on sizeable slip ups from the current league leaders.

However, with eleven league games and two cup competitions still to fight for, Barking have got themselves a crowded schedule to work through before the end of April. Recent goal heavy games appear to suggest legs are beginning to be stretched as a long season takes hold.

As not the most athletic team among this year’s title contenders, either, Barking won’t want to labour over thoughts of an eight point slip at this stage. Bottom four, Bengal pushed them hard on Saturday, as Takeley did by the same scoreline two weeks previous.

Respective run-ins should also give Clapton reason to be hopeful. Barking still have to face three of the top five to get over the line and play third placed, Southend Manor twice! The Tons, moreover, have four games with bottom half opposition and none left against the top five.

Any sudden dip in form for Barking, however, will no doubt depend on what James Peagram does between now and the end of the season. The former Harlow man has banged in an extraordinary 41 goals in 32 starts and is effectively dragging his team toward the Isthmian.

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Peagram netting against Clapton earlier this season

Peagram’s teammates, Delgado & Petrit should also get a mentions for impressive returns, though Barking seem to rely heavily on a tactic of overpowering opponents; a game plan that works well in pummeling teams who’re struggling, but is perhaps less effective against stronger counterparts.

Next Tuesday (28th) Glen Golby & Steve Wills’ team face up against the very physical, FC Romania at Mayesbrook Park. The resurgent Romanians are well known for giving as good as they get and have scored an emphatic 25 goals in the seven matches since losing to Barking in mid-Jan.

By that time that game kicks off, Clapton could be back within five points of their East London rivals, playing away at Barkingside the Friday before. A home win in Forest Gate for the visit of Sawbo on the 28th and a result for FCR on the night would see the title race wide open again.

Following a likely bruising encounter with Romania, Barking then play four games in two weeks, culminating in a vital home fixture with Southend Manor. The league leaders won’t have much respite after that either, not getting more than four days between games until the end of March.

By which point Barking could have qualified for semi-finals and finals in two different cup competitions, adding even more pressure to an already overloaded calendar. Clapton, in contrast, have only one more mid-week fixture before the end of the season.

With such an intensive and challenging run-in, the cracks Barking are already showing, particularly in defence, will deepen. Clapton’s diary, on the other hand, is relatively clear, but dropping points at this stage is something Jonny Fowell’s team can no longer budget for.

NOTICE GIVEN FOR COMPULSORY STRIKE-OFF OF CLAPTON FOOTBALL CLUB 1878 LIMITED

application-pdf

In worrying news for Tons fans, Clapton FC News has discovered that Companies House have given notice for compulsory strike-off of Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited (company number 08769591) – the company it is thought runs Clapton FC.

If it were to go ahead, it would be at least the third time a limited company run by Vincent Joseph McBean in connection with the club has been dissolved after Clapton Football Club Limited (07291485) in January 2012, and Clapton Football Club Limited (08011511) in November 2013, both companies having failed to file any accounts.

The latest accounts for Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited filed with Companies House in September 2016 are up until 31st December 2015 and show the club being £19,455 in the red, the debt having grown from £6,854 the year before – despite The Tons enjoying ever increasing attendances during this time. Published attendance figures show that 6,419 people passed through the turnstile at the Old Spotted Dog in 2015.

The notice published on the Companies House website and reproduced above reads as follows:

THE DIRECTORS
CLAPTON FOOTBALL CLUB 1878 LIMITED
29 YORK ROAD
FOREST GATE
LONDON
E7 9HT

Date: 14/02/2017
Ref: DEF6/08769591

Companies Act 2006 (Section 1000(3))

The Registrar of Companies gives notice that, unless cause is shown the the contrary, at the expiration of 2 months from the above date the name of

CLAPTON FOOTBALL CLUB 1878 LIMITED

will be struck off the register and the company will be dissolved.

Upon dissolution all property and rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be bona vacantia, and accordingly will belong to the crown.

The Company Directors of Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited are listed as Vincent Joseph McBean and Jaydene McBean-Willis. Esmond Syfox is listed as the Company Secretary. The is not the first time the company has been threatened with being struck off for failing to file accounts – notice was also served in November 2015 but was discontinued.

In 2013, the three life members of the original Clapton FC re-established what they consider the ‘real club’ – you can find more information on them and become a member here.

Update: It appears that Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited has filed its Confirmation Statement today, 15th February 2017, thus the strike-off action has been discontinued. According to the GOV.UK guidance on Confirmation Statements, it is a criminal offence to file this document more than 14 days after the review period (in this case 11th November 2016), so the company and its officers could be prosecuted.

CLAPTON FANS’ BOYCOTT ENDS

The Clapton Ultras ended their boycott of home games on Wednesday after seven matches standing outside the Old Spotted Dog, when an agreement on prices was reached with the club’s board.

Similar statements were posted at the same time on the Ultras’ and Club’s websites to announce an agreement on new prices, reasonable security and regular meetings.

The boycott was first called in November after fans were suddenly met at the turnstiles with an unannounced price rise and new invasive security policy.

During the walkout attendances plummeted, down from an average of 366 to low double figures.

A brief hiatus was called during this period when 418 fans turned out at a ‘pay what you want’ day for a top of the table clash with rivals Barking.

Talks between Clapton CEO, Vince McBean, and fans were slow to start, after the Club initially declined to open a dialogue. A meeting was finally sought in January as the Club continued to record very low crowds.

Further negotiations followed and a new price structure was eventually agreed last week.

The new prices agreed:

Under 10s – full rollback from £1 to free.

Pensioners – full rollback from £4 to £3.

Students – full rollback from £4 to £3.

Adults – 50p reduction from £7 to £6.50. Not a full rollback to £6 however…

Changes to concession policy means that many more fans not receiving a full wage will no longer have to pay the full adult price:

Unemployed – a new concession at £3. A big reduction on the £7 adult charge.

Refugees – another new concession at £3. A new recognition from the club.

Fans with disabilities – another new concession with free entry.

16 and 17 year olds have also now classed as ‘kids’, meaning they only pay £1 instead of the £7 adult charge (or the £4 student charge if they were in education)

10 to 15 year olds -the only fans whose price hasn’t dropped, it remains at £1.

It should be pointed out that often unemployed and disabled fans were often not charge full adult price but this agreement formalises this rather than leaves it to the discretion of the turnstile operator.

Unfortunately for Clapton fans, they will now have wait nearly 3 weeks for normal service to resume.

Saturday’s scheduled home fixture with Sawbridgeworth Town was pulled earlier this week to allow ground-sharers, London Bari, a chance to play a re-arranged fixture.

The gesture to forgo the Sawbo game means Clapton will now face the Hertfordshire club on Tuesday 28th February.

TRANSFER ROUNDUP

Clapton manager, Jonny Fowell took the the local press this week to talk about the important role the club’s supporters are to events on the pitch in lifting his team’s performance levels. While negotiations in transferring those massed outside The Dog back into the stands look to be in the final stages, the outspoken gaffer has been on the recruitment drive again, bolstering his squad as top of the table Tons look toward a final title push.

Emmanuel Olajide

Anyone peering in through the fence is recent weeks will doubtless have been impressed with the performances of Clapton’s latest stopper. Olajide is the sixth ‘keeper to have stepped between the sticks for the team this season, following the shock departure of Richie Robbins in December. The former Aylesbury, Broxbourne Borough and Hatfield Town GK has made a strong start to life in East London, notching up three clean sheets in six, with just five goals conceded in total.

Colin Mugoya

colin_mugoya2016Staying on the topic of keeping goals out, defender, Colin Mugoya arrives at Clapton from Southern League, Hayes & Yeading. The 19 year old centre back has made a healthy number of appearances for the West Londoners since breaking into the first team in 2015. He no doubt joins The Tons with an eye on gaining more playing time and could feature in the upcoming friendly with Brentwood Town on Monday 13th.

eamonpayne_5625da655497aEamon Payne

Originally signed for Clapton in 2014, Eamon was last seen by Tons fans in September missing a late penalty against his former club for Southend Manor. Since departing The Dog, the versatile defender has gone on an extended tour of Essex-based Ryman clubs including Bowers & Pitsea, Aylesbury, Witham Town, Heybridge Swifts and Great Wakering Rovers. A welcome return for an old favourite, fans will have to wait until 14th March to see him back in the red & white.

Emmanuel Mokwa

Another handy Emmanuel to arrive at Clapton is Olajide’s current understudy, Emmanuel Mokwa. The nineteen year old ‘keeper has clearly impressed enough to make it into a much trimmed down squad, despite not having the same extended CV of clubs as his goalkeeping counterpart. However, as much needed cover in that position, Mokwa should expect to have his chance at some point, given how many goalkeepers the club has already fielded this season.

Departing

With the clutch of new personnel arriving in E7 there has also been a notable set of departures.

Goalkeepers, Robert Dogaru, Alex Henderson and Yakup Seyer have all de-registered, while outfield players, Christian Adu Gyamfi, Scott Lawton, James Steer and Tobi Adesina exit without much fanfare.

Seyer has unfortunately suffered a long-term shin injury, while Adesina will remain one of those ‘what ifs’, as a signing which promised so much at the start of the season.

The Tons manager has been teasing supporters recently with talk of a another exciting signing, as an additional forward is thought to be high on the shopping list. We’ll wait to see what comes off, although time is on his side as Clapton now have to wait until February 25th for their next competitive game.

CLAPTON TITLE CHALLENGE COULD BE HIT BY LONG LAY-OFF

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Empty Scaffold stand when Clapton played Waltham Forest on Saturday because of the fans’ boycott (pic Waltham Forest FC)

Clapton’s scheduled home game on Saturday has now been postponed due to a fixture clash with London Bari.

The Tons were set to play Sawbridgeworth Town on Saturday 3pm at the Old Spotted Dog – but Bari also rearranged a postponed game for the same day, time and venue.

Something clearly had to give and the Essex Senior League say Clapton have sportingly stepped aside to allow London Bari to play their game.

Bari, who have shared the Old Spotted Dog ground since 2012, will play their rescheduled game against Wadham Lodge on Saturday at 3pm.

Meanwhile in-form Clapton – who top the table and have outside hopes of winning the title – now potentially face 20 days without a game with no fixture scheduled the weekend after either.

There is a chance the game could still be played this Saturday – the Essex Senior League advises that Sawbo have offered to host the game, with Clapton giving up home advantage.

If the Sawbo game is not rescheduled at short notice, The Tons are next due in action on Friday, February 24th away at Barkingside.

By then, title favourites Barking should have played 3 times and could be 8 points clear still with a game in hand over Clapton and have all but sewn up the title.

The next Clapton home game is due on Saturday, March 4th against Hullbridge. It remains to be seen if the Clapton Ultras’ fans boycott will still be in place or whether agreement will have been reached.

An Essex Senior League statement said: “Clapton were due to play at home on 11th February; London Bari rearranged a postponed game for the same date which is easily done with the number of recent postponements.

“There is a chance that Clapton could play their home game at their opponents, which their opponents have approached the league for permission to do so – it is a matter for those two clubs to discuss the possibility and financial implications between themselves.

“Clapton agreed to allow the London Bari fixture to go ahead at the Old Spotted Dog.”

We will keep readers posted as and when the Sawbo game is rearranged.

PLANS TO REVIVE CLAPTON YOUTH TEAM REVEALED

Kiernan Hughes-Mason

Kiernan Hughes-Mason

Clapton are set to have an academy team once again – a year on after the club disbanded its entire youth set-up.

Newham-based group New Revolution Sport yesterday announced plans to form an under-18s line-up as it aims to rebuild the club’s academy set-up from scratch.

The academy, which will be run separately from the main club, also offers a chance to study for a BTEC sports diploma in a two-year football and education program.

It means the club may once again compete in the prestigious FA Youth Cup next season, after withdrawing this season just days before the scheduled tie at Ilford.

The driving force behind the scheme is Kiernan Hughes-Mason, who plays himself for Hastings United after spells with the likes of Millwall, Grimsby Town, Kettering Town and Welling United.

Kiernan, who is only 25 himself, has studied sports coaching at the University of East London and previously managed Leatherhead’s Under-18s set-up.

He also set up the youth football club Pro Power Dragons, where Clapton assistant Andre Thomas was also a coach.

Kiernan told us: “Clapton is close to my heart as my dad Peter Mason played for Clapton while they were in the Ryman League.”

Clapton’s reserve, U18s and U15s were all axed at the end of last season. In previous seasons the club had also fielded U13s, U14s, U16s and U17s.

There is no word on whether the club, under manager Jonny Fowell, may reintroduce a reserve team.