SUPPORTERS GROUPS WORLDWIDE BACK CALL FOR A FAN-OWNED FUTURE FOR CLAPTON

A month ago fans’ group the Clapton Ultras released a statement backing campaign group Real Clapton’s legal action fund.

The fund aims to help safeguard Clapton FC’s existence – in real peril given the attempts to liquidate the ground’s leaseholding company — and then by the end of 2017 see the fans run the club. 

Since then a variety of different supporter groups, local businesses and comrades have quickly responded to show their solidarity and support..

Dissidenti Dusseldorf

At Fortuna Düsseldorf’s April 21st game against FC St. Pauli, Dissidenti Dusseldorf created a tifo with the message “SAVE CLAPTON FC FOOTBALL BELONGS TO THE FANS” and featured the cause in the Dissidenti fanzine.

Roter Stern Leipzig

Long-standing friends of Clapton, Roter Stern Leipzig, who play in Leipzig’s Landesklasse Nord league, displayed a tifo with the message “SUPPORT OUR FRIENDS CLAPTON ULTRAS” at a recent match. 

Werder Bremen Infamous Youth

Werder Bremen’s supporter group, Infamous Youth, showed their support at their April 29th home game against against Hertha BSC with a banner proclaiming “SAVE CLAPTON FC! IY”

AKS ZLY

Members of Warsaw grassroots community club Alternatywny Klub Sportowy ZŁY, AKS ZŁY created a display at a recent game with the message, “CLAPTON FC MUST BE FAN OWNED”

Zoo at Swope Park Rangers

Across the pond, the Zoo of American USL team Swope Park Rangers. in Kansas City, took up a collection for the Save Clapton FC fund at their home game against Sacramento Republic on April 15th.  

Local support

Closer to home, local brewery 40 FT held a fundraiser on Easter Sunday to help the cause with proceeds of every pint and and barbecue sale going to Real Clapton’s fund.   

And Clapton Ultras’ very own Eastern European Crew held a disco after the last home game of the season, raising £305 for the action fund.

Messages of solidarity

There have also been supportive  messages including from several international Sankt Pauli fan groups, Colectivo Anticapitalista Londres, Lgbtqi Forest Gate, STRIKE! Magazine, Jolly Roger in Hamburg, London Antifascists and many more.

The latest on the fight

The statement posted by the Clapton Ultras was seen by thousands of people, and helped the legal fund to reach over £8,000 of the £10,000 target set.

The latest legal development is that Clapton’s chief executive’s attempt to liquidate the charitable company that holds the lease has been staved off – for now.

All parties are now waiting for the court to set a date when a judge will decide on whether the voluntary liquidation can proceed.

The result of that case is likely to trigger further developments so Real Clapton are still calling for help.

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%

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

“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 2 GREENWICH BOROUGH 5: IN-DEPTH MATCH REPORT OF BOYCOTT-HIT CUP DEFEAT

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The two teams playing in front of an empty Old Spotted Dog ground in picture tweeted by Greenwich Borough

Journalist Adam Slater of Newham Recorder fame was one of just 28 people (away fans, officials and stewards but ZERO home supporters) at the Old Spotted Dog on Tuesday night as the Clapton Ultras boycott hit hard. Here’s his match report for those who stayed away or protested outside the ground.

Clapton FC exited another cup competition this time the London Senior Cup at the hands of Ryman League south outfit, Greenwich Borough, in a 2-5 loss on Tuesday night at the Old Spotted Dog.

Once again the game was played in front of an empty scaffold as the Ultras continued their boycott of home games, in defiance at the hike in ticket prices and overall leadership of the club by chief executive Vince McBean.

Clapton were looking to avoid being knocked out of a third cup competition in just two weeks, following losses to Barking in the Gordon Brasted Memorial trophy and Hullbridge Sports in the League Challenge cup.

Their opponents, Greenwich Borough, are a club on the rise having been promoted out of the Southern Counties Premier league last year and currently lying third in the Ryman South.

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Clapton fielded a strong line-up for the clash with Greenwich

Clapton began the game well against a Greenwich side that was littered with ex professionals and even an FA cup finalist, Peter Sweeney, who played for Millwall against Manchester United in the 2004 final.

The visitors soon settled into the game and came close to taking the lead early on from a corner, as Lanre Vigo was forced to clear a Michael Power header off the line.

Power wasn’t to be thwarted again on the 11th minute, as he was given space 25 yards out and promptly hit a screamer into the bottom corner to give Greenwich the lead.

The Tons got back into the contest on the 23rd minute in fortuitous circumstances. Ryan Reed’s initial shot across the keeper was saved with the ball falling to player manager and ex Leyton Orient forward Gary Alexander. His clearance was blocked by Domingo-Carrington and the ball rebounded in to make it all square.

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Only stewards visible in the usually rammed Old Spotted Dog

Often the difference between players in the Ryman League and players in the ESL are the amount of mistakes, and Greenwich’s second goal was evidence of this.

A nervy first touch from Clapton centre-back Jamie Lyndon allowed Power to pick his pocket and charge into the box. Lyndon in his attempts to make amends dived in rashly and brought the attacker down, conceding a penalty. Power stepped up and scored to restore Greenwich’s lead on 31 minutes.

Just moments later it was three for the visitors as Billy Dunn fired home just inside the box, after a cross was only half cleared.

The second half couldn’t have started any worse for the Tons as midfielder Siao Blackwood was sent off on the 49th minute following an off the ball incident.

With their opponents down to ten men, Greenwich were in cruise control and Clapton were looking to avoid embarrassment.

On the hour mark Greenwich got a fourth as Dunn rounded Robins after his first effort bounced back to him and calmly struck home.

Mohammad Eisa shot on the 85th minute fount the back of the net to make it five for the visitors before Nathan Cooke got a consolation goal for Clapton.

The loss means Clapton are out of of all cup competitions, meaning they can concentrate fully on their efforts to get promoted in the Essex Senior League.

Speaking after the game, captain Lyndon said: “The first 20 minutes we matched them, and we had a decent work rate.

“The penalty killed us a bit and then once we were down to 10 we picked it up a bit and to get that late goal showed we didn’t give up.”

“The atmosphere at the club has changed (since the boycott) but realistically every other team in the league struggles for fans and certain teams manage to go out and win most weeks. If we want to progress we can’t let it affect us.”

Up next for Clapton (4th) is a home match against Takeley FC (3rd) in the Essex Senior League, with a Ton’s win seeing them swap positions.

WHY CLAPTON FANS PROTESTED – AND THE MIXED MESSAGES OVER WHY CLUB RAISED PRICES

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Smoke rises after the full-time whistle at the game before the price rises were implemented – was this the moment Vince McBean (pictured in foreground) decided he needed more cash to cover any potential fine?

Clapton FC fans staged an impromptu protest on Tuesday night after the club introduced a price hike and stringent security searches without warning.

The price of entry for the game with Sporting Bengal, which the Tons won 2-1, was jacked up £1 to £7 for adults, while concessions for students and pensioners were also raised by £1 to £4.

As word spread at the Old Spotted Dog turnstile before the game, several long-standing fans turned round and went home.

Meanwhile inside, the fans on the terrace – led by the Clapton Ultras – kept completely silent for the first half in protest even as the team went two goals ahead.

On East London Radio’s Grassroots Football Show last night, physio Lizzy Matthews described the atmosphere as “eerie.”

The usual volume returned for the second half, but noticeably many songs were directed against the Tons’ chief executive Vince McBean.

Respected Essex football pundit Peter Dudley noted on the radio show: “That was the first time they’ve done something against the owners at a game.”

The sudden mid-season price rise was not advertised in a news article on the club’s official website, nor mentioned on Twitter or Facebook.

The prices were changed in the footer of the club’s website, however, for any fans who had scrolled to the bottom of the home page before the game.

A handful of other ESL clubs also charge £7 for adults but that typically includes a complimentary glossy programme. Some other clubs charge £5.

McBean told fans at the game that the price increase was to give £1 per entry fee to new manager Jonny Fowell, his coaching team and the players.

Fowell declared on Twitter that the extra pound would go to the players, and that he would personally guarantee that it all went to them.

The officially declared attendance was an astonishingly low 145, presumably translating to £145 for the staff and players. That was the lowest of the season by some margin – the previous low being 221 and the average being 366.

Puzzled fans had estimated the attendance at double that, and a large crowd was still waiting to enter the Old Spotted Dog at kick off. One said: “I’ve never seen such a huge queue for a midweek game.”

However, that plan was thrown into confusion yesterday when McBean was interviewed by the Newham Recorder. He said that the prices were raised to cover FINES accrued for fan behaviour – and did not mention the player fund.

McBean told the newspaper: “The club is ending up getting fined. They let off flares and stuff. So that’s where we are.”

There have been two incidents of pyro at the Old Spotted Dog this season – both after the full-time whistle to avoid disrupting the game. League rules suggest a maximum fine of £250 if this were to be deemed ‘failing to control spectators.’

The first incident occurred after the first game of the season against Tower Hamlets on July 30. However, in his programme notes for the game against Stansted 10 days later, McBean wrote that the club had narrowly AVOIDED a considerable fine for this.

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A statement in the Clapton programme said the club narrowly avoided a considerable fine for use of pyro

The second incident occurred after the Barkingside game last Saturday – nearly four months later – and it is understood the Essex Senior League are now considering what action if any to take.

The club may not be so lucky to avoid a fine this time, though it should be noted that other fans in the ESL have used pyro – and a league official even PRAISED one such display last week on the Grassroots Show.

However, even if the ESL decided to throw the maximum £250 fine at the club, that is a drop in the ocean compared to the £40,000 per season the Newham Recorder reports is received in gate receipts.

On Twitter, one fan asked: “How does Johnny Fowell feel now Vince McBean has said the extra £1 is for fines and not the team?”

On the subject of the price rise, Clapton captain Jerry Jairette, who has been at the club for ten years, has bravely said he sympathised with the Ultras.

Jerry told the Newham Recorder: “It’s only a pound, but a pound is a lot when you count up three hundred fans.

“Personally I think it’s a bit harsh. The majority of us play for the fans. In the dressing room it’s not do this for Vince, it’s do this for the fans.”

Another Clapton supporter emailed us to say: “For some people paying an extra pound won’t hit to hard, but it will for others.

“Many people who come to Clapton do so because it’s affordable. Many people went to other London clubs and love the fact that they can afford to follow Clapton every week.”

Former Clapton fitness coach Mike Whitaker tweeted after news of the price increase broke, saying: “its hopefully to raise some money for what he owes me🙌😂”

Tower Hamlets secretary Adam Richardson praised Clapton’s fans – 300 of whom turned up to the away game at the Mile End Stadium last month.

He said on the radio show, which he co-hosts: “The Ultras make the league a better place. When they applauded our players, they absolutely loved that.”

Tons assistant Andre Thomas diplomatically wants both sides to make peace, describing the coaches and players as being ‘like children watching mum and dad arguing’.

He said of the fans: “They may be seeing this as enough is enough. Which is sad.”