BARKING SWOOP FOR TONS STARS REED AND OLAJIDE

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Ryan Reed with the runners-up shield and an award from the fans after last season’s performances

Barking have swooped for two of Clapton’s star players Ryan Reed and Eman Olajide just weeks after coach Andre Thomas switched to the Bostik North side.

Reed scored two, including a 25-yard wonder strike, last night to help the Tons win 3-2 at Barkingside and sign off in style.

Watch it from two angles here:

 

Reed later posted a farewell message to fans on Twitter, saying: “I’d just like too say thank you too every Clapton fan that has come to watch us boys last season and this season, Playing in front of a crowd has been a joy. Thanks guys #COYTons!!”

 

Winger Reed grabbed seven goals and 18 assists last season and was on course to do even better this season with nine goals and six assists already.

He is still registered with the Tons as well so it’s always possible that we could see him back at the Tons – as with Johnny Ashman’s surprise two-game return earlier this season.

However, it feels like he will go straight into the Barking team with the club official Twitter and first team coach Kiers Hughes-Mason both quick to welcome him to Mayesbrook Park.

 

 

Olajide meanwhile joined Barking on an emergency loan last week after an injury to their regular keeper Ollie Bowles and kept a clean sheet on his debut on Tuesday and again on Saturday.

Olajide is also still registered with the Tons although it’s understood it was agreed between the clubs he would not play on Friday night to keep him fresh for Barking.

It’s possible he will play for the Tons again when Bowles recovers from injury – though he may have become first choice by then.

Manager Jonny Fowell said of the departing players: “There two fantastic boys who really want to learn and play as high as they can.

“Just very surprised why other clubs didn’t take them but @barkingfc have them so well done and good luck.”

As well as Andre Thomas, Reed and Olajide join former Tons favourites, striker Jay Knight and defender Hussain Jaffa, at Barking.

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ANDRE THOMAS PICKS HIS CLAPTON XI AS TONS LEGEND PAYS EMOTIONAL FAREWELL

Andre Thomas said farewell to the Clapton fans on an emotional night at the Mile End Stadium.

He’s been coach, he’s been assistant manager, he’s been caretaker manager, but for one night only Andre also became the Ultras’ capo, leading some of the songs himself.

On the pitch, the Tons bounced back from going 1-0 down to a Sporting Bengal side who often prove to be a thorn in our side.

Ryan Reed scored the first two, including the pearler of a free-kick below, before Jeffrey Cobblah sealed the points with perhaps an even lovelier run and shot.

So club legend Andre departed with a 3-1 win, leaving the Tons in sixth place, and in the celebrations afterwards he turned the tables by singing one of the Ultras’ songs back at them.

We couldn’t let him leave us without asking him to compile his best ever Clapton XI from his two years at the club.

So, as Andre jumps on the District Line to Upney, to take up the assistant manager’s job with ambitious Bostik League side Barking, here’s his team in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Goalkeeper

It’s a position that we have always had issues filling after Pape Diagne.

As you know, “there’s only one king Pepe, he keeps the ball out the netty,” but recently we’ve been blessed with the talents of Richie Robins, Emmanuel Olajide, Ignas Budvytis and Mark Kavanagh.

Even when Pape was around we had Alex Biddle and Yakup Seyer who also make credible bids.

However the keeper I’m going to go with is a leader, who talks as much as me, has great reactions, good feet, great kicking and in my opinion is a complete GK who is always trying to get better.

My goalkeeper is Emmanuel Olajide.

Right-sided centre-back

In a back three I’ve gone for someone who’s comfortable playing in a few positions just in case we need to change it during the game.

There’s other natural centre-backs I could have gone with but I know that this guy would give me his all then go get some from the opposition and then give me that too.

He’ll probably complain about playing here telling me this isn’t his position but he’ll stop sulking as soon as the whistle has blown and probably end up getting the Man of The Match Award.

It was a flip of the coin between he and Lanre Vigo but my right-sided centre-back is Kristian Haighton.

Centre back

So many names come to mind. I think of Euan Taylor-Reid, the cup final penalty specialist; Idu Bogdan, who is as hard as a rock; Pete Moore, the coach on the pitch who always talks; Quincy Egbejale, legs long enough to cover the back four; Eamon Payne, goalscoring centre-back; Jamie Lyndon, Mr No Nonsense.

There’s also Zach Miller, Jesse Mckenzie, Nick Loblack, Hussain Jaffa and even Freddie Morris who wouldn’t wanna play there but could.

However, I’ve gone with a centre back who is strong, fast, aggressive, technically sound, understands what I require and he’s a funny guy.

Great character in the dressing room, always has his teammates backs and is the first one swinging his handbag. I’m going with Dylan Ebengo.

Left-sided centre-back

As I said earlier, in a back three I’ve gone for someone who’s comfortable playing in a few positions just in case we need to change it during the game.

On this side I’ve gone with a player who I feel can play this position as I’ve simply not seen a man take him on one-on-one and beat him. That will always give the team confidence.

Again Pete Moore, Francis Best-Ebanks and Yusuf Bello make solid claims as they’re all naturally left footed, strong and good defenders.

However, I’ve gone with the super impressive, super hero Tayo Awoderu. He’ll have to come training though, lol.

Central midfielders x 2

I think the two midfield positions, along with the two forwards, will be the hardest decision.
With the options available to me, it’s very difficult.

Steven Sardinha, Freddie Morris, Bradley Joseph, Paul Oshin, Geoff Ocran, Paul Barry, Reece Hewitt, Louis Rene, Scott Hill, Siao Blackwood and JoJo DeGraft are a few of the many midfield generals I’ve worked with, all packed with experience, quality, pace, power, packed with lungs of a V8 engine, skill, trickery, goals and unreal technique.

The only reason I’ve selected these two to be the midfielders holding for me is because they’ve got everything I’ve listed above and they both ‘get it’. I’m not saying the rest don’t because they definitely do.

The reason they do is because of the levels these two midfielders have set.
When the going gets tough I want someone who’ll put their body on the line, even if it means broken limbs.

In addition to that if we need a 90th minute goal and we have a free kick I wanna make sure he’s on them.

The two midfielders I’ve gone with are the Clapton legends Jerry Jairette and James Briggs.

Left-wing (back)

This player has improved so so much, was under the radar.

He dedicated himself to his craft and got fit and then caused havoc for opposition full backs.

He’s got two great feet, skills in abundance, great first touch and beautiful hair.

Another set piece specialist with the world going crazy for Messi and CR7, I’m glad to have RR7.

To play on the left wing is Ryan Reed.

Centre attacking midfield

Again many, many players who can play in this role. Raphael Duyile who is technically sublime as well as very versatile and intelligent was also an option.

So was Tom ‘goal machine’ Webb and even Stefan Nielsen.

But it’s got to go to a player that had Tons from the 2014-15 season in awe.

I won’t ever forget my first pre-season game when we played a Harold Hill XI and he had never played with these guys.

He had never played any level higher than this one and was playing with the likes of Billy Wise (who actually ran this guy very close for the vote), James Briggs, Shomari Barnwell, Troy Ricketts and JoJo Degraft yet looked superb, like he had been there for years and knew how to create magic.

Funnily enough he has now been here for 3 seasons and he does know how to create magic. He gets it from his hat.

Playing in the CAM role is Nathan Cook.

Right-wing (back)

Khadz Campbell, Aundre Spencer, Johnny Ashman, Raphael Duyile, Paul Barry and Jeffrey Cobblah. Players that come to mind when I think of stars that can play on that right hand side.

I’ve gone with a guy whose name rings bells but only rang the bells of his college colleagues before this.

He came to the club and played over 40 games in his first season only being on the bench once and this was due to his quality on the pitch, his attitude and attendance to training and the game, his hunger to fight off all that tried to take his spot and he’s done it once more.

To play on the right is none other than Johnny Ashman.

Centre forwards x 2

Clapton have been blessed with tremendous forwards and I’ve been lucky to work with the likes of Fahad Nyanja, Warren Mfula, Jay Knight, Ike Nzurba, Miles Hunter, Roddy Lemba, Sherwin Stanley, Tony Cookey and Ajani Domingo-Carrington to name a few.

However, I’ve gone with one of the most natural finishers I’ve worked with.

Top top forwards score with both feet and their head, this guy is able to do that and also score with his junk.

One of my two centre forwards is Jay Knight.

The reason I’ve selected the second guy is because for me he epitomises what a striker should be for me.

Hard-working, relentless, gives 100% effort for his team and the shirt he wears.

He’s a nightmare when you’re against him but a dream when he’s on your team.

I’ve seen him get into the heads of opposition players warming up on the side, he already gains the edge on them before they even get subbed on.

I call him my Non-League Diego Costa.

My forward to join Jay is none other than Mr Warren Mfula.

TRUE CLAPTON LEGEND ANDRE THOMAS LEAVES TO STEP UP TO BOSTIK LEAGUE

Andre Thomas pictured at Takeley last month

Coach Andre Thomas has left Clapton after landing the assistant manager’s job at Bostik North side Barking.

A hugely popular figure with  players and fans, Andre spent two silverware-laden years with Clapton as coach, assistant manager and also as caretaker manager.

However, he had recently been shunted from assistant manager to first team coach as Jonny Fowell brought in Colin Reid as head coach and Wayne Seal as assistant manager.

Barking have moved quickly to offer Andre a step up a division as well as being restored to assistant manager level.

The Blues announced the news on Saturday night – in the wake of Clapton’s fine home win against high-flying Great Wakering.

Their statement described Andre as “a passionate and dedicated football man who’s a student of the game. He’s willing to learn and progress by developing his skills and obtain new ones in the process.”

He will be number two to manager Justin Gardner, formerly of Aveley and Billericay Town .

More details to follow…

 

SHOCK AS FORMER CLAPTON AND BARKING PLAYER STABBED TO DEATH

16-year-old Joshua Bwalya

A former Clapton and Barking youth player has tragically been stabbed to death in East London, it was announced today.

16-year-old Joshua Bwalya was pronounced dead after police and paramedics were called to Movers Lane, Barking, at 1am on Wednesday morning.

A statement on the Clapton FC website today said: “It’s with great sadness that we learnt of the fatal stabbing of Joshua Bwalya. Only aged 16 years old,

“Joshua was an ex Clapton player who played in our U14s team. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

“JB, as we called him, was a promising young player who had transferred to Barking Football Club.”

The cause of JB’s death was recorded as multiple stab wounds.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of murder but has since been released on police bail. A 20-year-old man is still in custody at an east London police station.

The Barking & Dagenham Post reports that devastated friends and family have laid flowers and candles outside his home. “Rest well Joshua,” read one tribute. “Love you lots.”

The Clapton statement added that a memorial match would be played next month between the two clubs.

It said: To mark this young man’s life, it is the intention that a football match will be played between Barking FC and the Tons, on or very near to his birthday on 20th September.

“More details of the match and venue will be provided shortly.”

RIP Joshua.

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.

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.

CLAPTON APPLY FOR PROMOTION TO RYMAN LEAGUE

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There could be changes ahead at the Old Spotted Dog to get it into shape for Ryman football

Clapton have applied for promotion to the Ryman North, according to local football expert Dan Wilson.

Five Essex Senior League clubs are said to have put themselves forward for the one promotion spot with the Tons vying with Barking, FC Romania, Ilford and Waltham Forest.

Club chief executive Vince McBean had cast doubt on whether he’d apply for promotion, telling the Newham Recorder that fans were alienating other clubs who would veto Clapton’s promotion bid, although they have no power to do so.

For the Tons to be promoted, they would need to:

1) Pass the ground grading
2) Finish in the top 3
3) Finish higher than any of the other promotion-chasing clubs who pass the grading

All of the applicants including the Tons have until the end of March to satisfy the FA’s Grade E ground requirements.

However, this won’t pose a problem for Waltham Forest or Ilford – who have played Ryman football in the last few years – or FC Romania, who share Cheshunt’s ground.

League leaders Barking remain overwhelming favourites to make the leap to the Ryman League, assuming they pass the ground requirements.

It’s unlikely more than one ESL club will be promoted, but it is possible if other Step 5 leagues across the country fail to provide a club worthy of promotion.

The chances of success for Clapton seem very slim given Barking’s runaway success on the pitch and the work needed to be done at the Old Spotted Dog.

That includes infrastructure changes like a bigger main stand and hard standing terrace to replace the areas of grass banking.

Other issues to be addressed include parking for away team coaches, refreshments for fans and a tannoy system.

Previously we have reported on visiting teams ‘ complaints about the facilities, and the general cosmetic appearance of parts of the ground, which would also need to be addressed.

However, these issues don’t seem insurmountable so it will be interesting to see if the OSD passes the inspection or how far away from the standard it is.