2017/18 ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE FIXTURES RELEASED

The Essex Senior League has finally released the fixtures for the forthcoming 2017/18 season and the first handful of games feature some new faces as well as familiar faces and old rivalries.

Clapton start the season this Saturday away to Basildon United at the Stuart Bingham Stadium – a repeat of our opening fixture in the 2015/16 season. The Bees have appointed the former Basildon Town management team of Mark Harrison and Liam Wallace in the summer, following the departure of Aron Bloxham. Former assistant manager Lee Connor has been appointed as the club’s new chairman and will be hoping United can improve on their 9th place finish last season.

The following Wednesday we travel to Cricklefield Stadium to face our old rivals, Ilford. It has been a summer of uncertainty for The Foxes after they were controversially voted out of the ESL at the AGM. However they successfully appealed to the FA and have now been reinstated. Former Clapton captain and current Ilford boss Allen Fenn will be hoping for a title challenge this season after signing a string of impressive players including last season’s league top scorer James Peagram who netted 45 times in all competitions for champions Barking.

Following our trip to Clacton in the FA Cup, we return to league action on Saturday 12th August for our first home game, against Woodford Town 2017. Woodford is the new name of the team formerly known as Haringey & Waltham, and going further back Greenhouse Sports, Greenhouse London, Mauritius Sports Association and Mauritius Sports & Pennant. Town have a familiar look at least in the dugout, with former Wadham Lodge manager Tony Ievoli taking the hotseat, assisted by former Tons assistant manager Neil Day. It is not known what links the setup has to Woodford Town who, with Vince McBean as their chairman, shared the Old Spotted Dog with Clapton in 1999 before going bust in 2003.

We then travel to Mile End Stadium on Friday 25th August to face Tower Hamlets. Last season 308 fans piled through the gates for the corresponding fixture, also on a Friday night, and no doubt Hamlets will be hoping for a similar or increased attendance this season. AJ Ashinike has returned as manager and has recruited some impressive looking players, including former Barking and Ilford hotshot Wale Odedoyun and will be hoping his team can improve on their 20th place finish last season.

The rest of the fixtures are still being finalised and will be put on our fixtures page soon.

CLAPTON’S FA CUP AND FA YOUTH CUP DRAWS ANNOUNCED

The FA Vase draw was announced today but Clapton are already through to the first round proper

Clapton have been drawn away at FC Clacton in the FA Cup extra preliminary round.

The trip to the Essex seaside to face the Eastern Counties League club, who play at the same level as Clapton, will be on August 5th, the week after the Essex Senior League campaign begins.

If the Tons get through that, they’ll earn £1,500, then face Norwich United at home in the preliminary round two weeks later, August 19th.

Get past the Isthmian League North side and there’s just another 12 wins before we see Jerry Jairette lift the FA Cup trophy at Wembley.

Meanwhile Clapton did not feature in the FA Vase draw after being handed a bye to the first round proper for finishing in the top 4 in the Essex Senior League. They will make their debut on October 21st.

The Tons are also in the FA Youth Cup, and will travel away to Thurrock or Aveley during the week of September 18th.

Last season the team was withdrawn days before their tie due to lack of players, following the axing of the club’s youth system, but New Revolution Sports have stepped in to relaunch it now.

All three draws were made today behind closed doors at the FA HQ and published online this lunchtime.

MEET THE 11 NEW TONS – THE WHO’S WHO OF CLAPTON’S SUMMER SIGNINGS

There have been lots of comings and goings at the Old Spotted Dog this summer

At Essex Senior League level there’s inevitably a high turnover of players from one season to the next.

Several members of last season’s history-making runners-up squad have moved on from Clapton to pastures new ahead of the upcoming 2017/8 season,

Disappointing for fans, but few could complain about players moving up the football pyramid. We’re planning a feature on the destination of former Tons soon.

However, as players leave, others arrive and there have already announced 10 new additions.

Allow us to introduce the new Tons…

Ignas Budvytis (goalkeeper)

Former clubs: Winchmore Hill (2016/17), Waltham Abbey U18s (2016/17), West Thurrock (2016/17)

Mark Kavanagh (goalkeeper)

Former clubs: None.

Mark told CFC News: “I’m 22 and Clapton will be the first team I’ve ever played for. I was invited to come down for pre-season and after hearing many good things about the club, I would’ve been stupid not to sign!

“As of the season ahead, I’m very confident! The lads are pulling their weight in training & there’s a good spirit around the camp. After last season’s second place finish we’ve only got one thing in mind & that’s to go one better!”

Josh Flynn (right-back)

Former clubs: Ebbsfleet United Academy, Grays Athletic Reserves, Redbridge.

Josh told CFC News: “I’m 21 but I’ve had about a year out of the game. I play right back but I consider myself a wing back, always overlapping and supporting the play as an outlet and getting crosses into the box.

“I feel like I can develop here. Great fans and contenders for the league. I don’t see why we can’t go one better than last season and gain promotion.”

Mustafa Kahie (midfield/full-back)

Former clubs: Eton Manor, Sporting Bengal, London APSA and Braintree Town.

Mustafa is back for his second stint at the club, after briefly playing some friendlies in pre-season last year. The 22-year-old – a midfielder who can also operate at full back – went on to make 24 starts for Eton Manor.

Mustafa, who was born in Finland, told CFC News: “I joined Clapton because i have a good relationship with the players and staff.

“I also love the atmosphere at the club and i know I’ll enjoy my time at the club. I also have faith in our team to do really well this season. Good bunch of guys willing to cause many upsets.”

Jordan Meikle (centre-back)

Former clubs: Sporting Bengal, Enfield 1893, Wadham Lodge

A seasoned Essex Senior League centre-back who started his career at Sporting Bengal, playing under Anwar Uddin and Steven Clarke.

He then spent time at Enfield 1893 and was most recently at Wadham Lodge under James Falaise & Kevin Lucas before a foot ligament injury ruled him out of the final games of the season.

He told CFC News he had a few offers from other ESL teams for the upcoming season, but decided that “Clapton was the stand out. Personally I felt it is the right club for me to develop and improve.”

Jordan is eager to push on from where Clapton finished last season as runners up and is looking forward to getting started.He learned about the team from former Ton James Briggs and experienced Clapton supporters firsthand as captain of their Sunday league team Downs FC.

Manager Jonny Fowell has said: “So glad to get Jordan on board, experienced centre-back and will improve our squad this season. Fans will love him. Welcome J”.

Jesse McKenzie (centre-back)

Former clubs: Bromley FC.

Jesse told CFC News: “I’m 18 years old, last season I played for and captained Bromley FC academy side. I’m a ball playing centre half that enjoys a good challenge.

“I’ve signed for Clapton because I feel that I’ve got a lot to learn and Clapton to is the best place for me to improve physically and also enhance my game understanding.”

Manager Jonny Fowell said: The staff are excited about this young 18-year-old centre-back. The former Bromley FC academy captain could be a real gem in the making”

Jeffrey Cobbiah (winger)

Former clubs: Bethnal Green United, Jolof Sports, East One

Jeffrey Was most recently with Jolof Sports in the Essex Alliance, where he scored 31 goals in 25 game last season.

Manager Jonny Fowell said: “Jeffrey is a silky skilful winger, quick direct and bags of skills. Came from Roy Fontaine who was at Enfield Town FC as 1st team coach.”

Craig Heskey (striker)

Former clubs: Clapton (2008/09), Sporting Bengal (2012/13), Harefield United (2015/16), Amersham Town (2016/17), Burnham Ramblers (2016/17).

Tons fans will be hoping that the goalscoring gene runs in the family as we welcome back Craig Heskey, cousin of former England international Emile.

Craig, 27, is an international striker in his own right. He played for Clapton 9 years ago and while at the club represented Antigua & Barbuda twice at under-20 level.

He was last seen at Burnham Ramblers in the ESL last season where he scored 4 goals in 10 appearances.

In a recent Dogcast interview, recently departed defender and last season’s Clapton player of the year Dylan Ebengo named Heskey as the best striker he had faced in the ESL in 2016/17.

Craig is also academy coach and a director of New Revolution Sports alongside Tons assistant Andre Thomas – the company that will be running Clapton’s U18s team this season.

Akin Obamakin (striker)

Former clubs: Barnet Youth, Tonbridge Angels Reserves.

Akin, 23, told CFC News: “Whilst studying in Birmingham I played for my university and had short spells at clubs in the Midlands area.

“Type of player: tricky, pace and hardworking and looking to score goals for Clapton FC!”

Manager Jonny Fowell said: “We are really excited about Akin, very quick, strong and direct. We believe he will do well this season. I really think once fit akin can cause defenders trouble with his pace. It’s frightening.”

Lee Flavin of Non League Chance said: “Delighted for our player Akin joining Clapton for the season. What a lovely lad. Hopefully he gifts you plenty of goals. He certainly has it in the locker.”

Caiden Imbert-Thomas (striker)

Former clubs: Euro Dagenham, Westhamians U21, Leatherhead U21, May & Baker

Caiden, 19, is the son of former Clapton manager Wilfred Thomas.

He told CFC News: “I signed to get first team experience with a good team that plays good football and with good management to guide me.

“I play as a false striker or a number ten I like to roam about and link up with my midfield. Also I’m creative and can score goals and assist too I’ve got good feet and a decent injection of pace but finding the net is a good strength too.

“I don’t see us doing anything but winning the league this year as the sides solid and good enough to do so.”

Breaking: Yusuf Bello

Eleventh signing announced today – more details to follow.

EXTRA ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE PROMOTION AND RELEGATION SPOTS CONFIRMED

Clapton players lift the runners-up shield – could they go one better and win the title in the upcoming season?

The upcoming Essex Senior League season is set to be more competitive than ever with up four clubs relegated and two promoted.

The FA is restructuring the football pyramid to add an extra division nationally at Step 3 (run by the Southern League) and at Step 4 (run by the Isthmian League).

As a one-off, there will be an extra 12 promotion places up for grabs across the 14 Step 5 leagues, including the ESL, to help fill these new leagues.

Those promotion spots will be allocated to runners-up clubs across England with good enough grounds and the best points per game average. So get your calculators ready.

Clubs in the ESL who already meet the ground requirements include some of the title favourites – Barkingside, FC Romania, Great Wakering Rovers, Ilford (if reinstated to the league), Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

Additionally, Takeley are known to be undergoing ground improvements, while Southend Manor say they have already spent £12,000 with more to come as they go all out for a promotion tilt.

Meanwhile the Old Spotted Dog, where Clapton and Hackney Wick are hoping to play next season, does not meet Step 4 standards so would need significant improvements.

A statement on the Clapton FC website last week said rather vaguely: “We still have our sights set on being promoted to the Ryman League in the future.”

Meanwhile at the bottom of the table, there is even more reorganisation planned ahead of the introduction of a ESL Division 2 for 2018/9.

The FA wants up to 4 teams relegated from the ESL next season to help fill up the new division 2.

However, rules also state ESL should have between 16 and 20 clubs. Therefore it seems unlikely that 4 clubs wlll go down. particularly with Eton Manor sitting out this season, possibly no Ilford, and perhaps 2 teams leaving via promotion too.

Automatic relegation is expected to continue from Step 5 each season – something that hasn’t happened when there was no Step 6.

 

CLAPTON GIVEN EXTRA TIME TO SORT WHERE TEAM WILL PLAY NEXT SEASON

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The Old Spotted Dog pitch pictured last week

Clapton appear to have been given extra time to confirm where they will play their home games next season.

 

The Essex Senior League and the FA had given the Tons a deadline of last night’s league AGM to prove they could continue as tenants of the Old Spotted Dog.

If not, they would need to arrange a groundshare somewhere else or even sit out the season as ‘non-playing members’ of the league.

However, sources at the AGM say the issue of where the Tons and fellow OSD tenants Hackney Wick FC will play was not discussed.

It’s understood both clubs paid their fees and will be included in the fixtures for the coming season on the assumption the ground issue will be sorted.

No one from Clapton has commented since but Hackney Wick this morning tweeted in response to a question about where they will play: “Will see when the season starts.”

All clubs usually have to confirm where they will play next season by the end of March.

However, a complication arose when Vince McBean, who is in charge of both the charitable company that holds the lease and separately Clapton FC, put the leaseholding company into voluntary liquidation.

That liquidation, which claimed the company had debts of £203,000 in the form of loans, is currently on hold. A High Court hearing will determine whether it can proceed, but no date has been fixed for this yet.

In the meantime, the liquidator controls the leaseholding company and only they can decide who can play at the Old Spotted Dog.

The ground issue will need to be sorted soon as the first of five friendlies – all at home – begin with captain Jerry Jariette’s testimonial on July 8th.

The draws for the FA Cup and FA Vase take place the day before, 11am on July 7th, and it’s unclear if the Tons and Hackney Wick will be included if the ground issue is not resolved by then.

The Essex Senior League season itself begins on July 29th though it is possible for clubs to be given away fixtures only for the first few weeks.

Last season Haringey & Waltham did not secure their ground, the Terence McMillan Stadium in Plaistow, until late September and hopped around playing one-off home games at several locations before then.

Clapton has played at London’s oldest senior football ground, the Old Spotted Dog in Forest Gate, since 1888.

Yesterday it was revealed that supporters had succeeded in getting it listed on Newham Council’s list of Assets of Community Value.

Under the Localism Act, the ACV gives The Dog an additional layer of protection in law and also means that the community would get first rights to buy, should the ground ever come up for sale.

CLAPTON FANS RESPOND WITH ACV TO HELP SAFEGUARD GROUND

Clapton fans have notched a major victory in the fight to save the Old Spotted Dog ground, having just secured ‘asset of community value’ status for the site following a six-month long process.
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Newham Council have today announced they have accepted the supporters’ bid to add London’s oldest senior football ground to the list of important local landmarks.
Under the Localism Act, the ACV gives The Dog an additional layer of protection in law and also means that the community would get first rights to buy, should the ground ever come up for sale.
Fresh fears were raised earlier this week over the future of the site, following concerns expressed by the Essex Senior League and the FA, over an attempt to liquidate the trust that runs the historic grounds.
An injunction won at the High Court back in March has put a stay on the liquidation process, a position hopefully strengthened by the award of an ACV.
Clapton FC adopted The Old Spotted Dog in 1888 following a relinquishment by St Barts hospital. The grounds had previously been used to stage test cricket before switching usage to football. 0a222a7369ab7526b040d40d24aff8ab
The old ground on Upton Lane has also previously welcomed heavyweights like Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax to Forest Gate and once saw West Ham United as regular visitors.
The OSD joins Queens Street Market and Christendom House as successful applicants for ACV status in Newham. The award, however, doesn’t guarantee Clapton FC will get future use of the land.

A spokesman for the council said the decision was made on 24th May but the decision was only announced on 22nd June.

Local residents in Waltham Forest successfully secured an ACV for the now derelict Leyton FC ground in 2016.

More than a year on, the pitch is still being used as a car park for a nearby function room.

Events at tonight’s Essex Senior League AGM could prove pivotal in determining whether The Old Spotted Dog will see any football in the near future.

CHIEF EXEC LIQUIDATION MOVE PUTS TONS’ SEASON IN PERIL

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The Old Spotted Dog is London’s oldest senior football ground

Well documented troubles behind the scenes at Clapton seem to have taken a dire turn this week, with the Essex Senior League and the FA demanding assurances from club Chief Executive, Vince McBean, over the immediate future of the club.

By taking the extraordinary decision to call in the liquidators for Clapton’s famous Old Spotted Dog ground in March of this year, for reasons as yet unclear, McBean has generated huge uncertainty over where (or if) Clapton will play for the coming 2017/18 season.

Now the Essex Senior League has called on the Chief Exec to clarify the status of the ground as a matter of urgency, with fixtures for the season due to be finalised following the League AGM this Thursday.

 

With liquidation initiated, Mr McBean must now secure permission from the liquidator to continue playing in Forest Gate or find an alternative venue to host Clapton home matches for the season.

With no club statement on the issue forthcoming, It is unclear whether either option is viable.

Hackney Wick – who have merged with London Bari and were also due to play at the Old Spotted Dog  next season – are also in the same position.

This uncertainty couldn’t have come at a worse time for Clapton, following the club’s most successful season in decades.

Clapton could even be forced to explore the same route taken by Eton Manor, by remaining in the ESL as a ‘non-playing member’ for the coming campaign.

Mr McBean took control at the Old Spotted Dog back in 2000 and presided over the club as it dropped out of the Isthmian League for the first time since the Tons were founder members back in 1905.

His previous club, Woodford Town, moved to groundshare at The Dog in 1999 following the demise of their own Snakes Lane ground.