ANALYSED: THE RISE AND FALL AND RISE OF CLAPTON’S ATTENDANCES THIS SEASON

Clapton fans applaud Geoff Ocran and Jerry Jairette on the last day of the season, which saw a crowd of 684

The size of the Old Spotted Dog crowds continued to catch the eye in 2016-17 despite – or maybe even because of – the Clapton Ultras’ boycott which lasted almost a third of all home games.

In fact, the rise, fall, and rise again of the attendances provide an interesting subtext to a noteworthy season on the pitch for the Tons – and further consolidate the club’s position as one of the best supported at its level nationwide.

Clapton’s average home gate for 2016-17 was 276 in all competitions, with the league average 314, enough to rank in the top 10 for this level of football (Step 5) across the country.

This figure was dampened, though, by the seven-game streak during the winter when the home support’s walkout saw crowds drop to double digits – and included one game (the 1-1 draw with Takeley) where not a single paying supporter was declared.

This left Clapton with the remarkable record of registering both the highest and the (joint) lowest Essex Senior League (ESL) attendances of the season.

That high-point was the incredible 684 that watched the 7-0 demolition of Burnham Ramblers on the final day of Clapton’s season.

Empty Scaffold stand during the boycott

This, in turn, was just one more than the previous season’s best that attended the defeat to FC Romania in September.

Yet in between these twin peaks was the flatline brought about by the club’s unannounced price increase in mid-season.

Prior to the Sporting Bengal game, which saw adult and concessionary prices hiked by £1 out of the blue, the average attendance was 393.

For the following boycotted seven games (excluding the pay-what-you-like derby with Barking in January), which comprised 5 league games and 2 cup defeats, the total combined reported attendance was only 208 – an average of less than 30 per game.

Once the boycott was called off, though, crowds flocked back to the Scaffold, with the average gate for the remaining 6 home league games an even higher 403.

In fact, if the boycott games are removed from the equations, Clapton averaged 383 in the league in 2016/17 – enough to rank fourth highest in England’s Step 5, and higher than any other team outside the famously well-supported Northern League.

Clapton’s support continued to boost crowds on the road, as well, with 18 of their 21 ESL opponents’ highest gates coming when the Tons’ visited. These included 300+ gates at Barkingside and Tower Hamlets.

Season-by-season Clapton average attendances

2016/7 314 (383 for non-boycotted, 20 for boycotted)

2015/6 335

2014/5 183

2013/4 83

2012/3 43

2011/2 20

 

 

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”

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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 PLAYERS’ END OF SEASON AWARDS – THE RESULTS

Following on from the fans’ awards, organised by the Clapton Ultras after the final game of the season, the Tons’ players held their own get-together this weekend.

QPR Striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was the special guest to hand out the trophies to the winners of seven categories.

Here are the winners in full.

Player of the Season – Dylan Ebengo

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Player of the season Dylan Ebengo with assistant manager Andre Thomas (pic @claptonfootball)

Manager’s Player of the Season – Johnny Ashman

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Johnny Ashman with his fellow award-winner Dylan Ebengo (pic @claptonfootball)

Players’ Player of the Year – Dylan Ebengo

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Dylan Ebengo with his two trophies plus manager Johnny Fowell and coach Ray Bartlett (pic @claptonfootball)

Most Improved – Ryan Reed & Nathan Cook joint winners

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The joint winners Ryan Reed and Nathan Cook (pic @claptonfootball)

Nathan being joint winner was a testament to him surprisingly getting better in a new position

Mr Clapton – Jerry Jairette

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Jerry Jariette and his son  (pic @claptonfootball)

Best Newcomer – Lanre Vigo

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Lanre Vigo picks up his award from guest Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Clapton coach Ray Bartlett (pic @claptonfootball)

Golden Boot – Jay Knight

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The Golden Boot trophy (pic @claptonfootball)

Unfortunately Jay wasn’t there to pick up his award.

Here’s a reminder of who won what at the fans’ awards last month…

Player of the season – Johnny Ashman
Most improved player – Ryan Reed
Goal of the season – Steven Sardinha
Ultras’ favourite player of the season- Jerry Jairette

FROM STOCKHOLM TO OLD SPOTTED DOG – MEET DYLAN EBENGO

Dylan Ebengo with his two awards and left, manager Jonny Fowell and right, coach Ray Bartlett

After a hugely successful season we take a look at some of the players that have made a name for themselves at Clapton.

Here we focus on Dylan Ebengo, who picked up two awards at the players’ end of season gathering this week after a very impressive season.

So who is Dylan Ebengo? Not even turning 21 years old until July, the 5.10” centre-half is from Angel, Islington.

Dylan Ebengo winning a Nike competition as a teenager

The winner of a Nike trials event, he started out at non-league talent factory Borehamwood, before moving to AFC Hayes where he was named reserve team player of the year in 2014.

His other previous clubs include Essex Senior League rivals Enfield 1893 and interestingly Sodertalje FK.

Dylan went over to Sweden for a few months after he was invited by a friend and played with the third division Stockholm county side.

Dylan Ebengo training for Swedish side Sodertalje FK

Dylan, who has played as captain on four occasions, is a player that appears to be comfortable on the ball but can stick a few up field when needed – and has scored a couple as well.

Commentators say his biggest strengths are that he is able to read the game and is not prone to errors.

Dylan was booked just once in 29 starts and no red cards, which demonstrates great maturity in his play.

The north London defender said he chose to come to Clapton because he felt it was a great platform for him to show what he is capable of.

He also cites the fans as being a major pull for him: “the atmosphere there is outstanding.”

When asked about his ambitions, Dylan replied “to play at the highest level possible”.

We at Clapton FC News believe he has a bright future ahead of him and we will leave you with some fantastic stats from assistant manager Andre Thomas.

BATTLE OVER ATTEMPED VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION OF OLD SPOTTED DOG LEASEHOLDING COMPANY – THE LATEST

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The case of the liquidation of the Old Spotted Dog leaseholding charity/company is being heard at the Royal Courts of Justice

In March we brought the worrying news that the charitable company Newham Community Leisure Limited, which holds the lease on the Old Spotted Dog, had applied for voluntary liquidation.

To recap:

  • Owner: The Old Spotted Dog ground is owned by Scottish & Newcastle Brewery
  • Leaseholder: NCL holds the long-term lease, which runs for another 75 years
  • Tenants: NCL then rents the ground to Clapton FC as well as London Bari
  • Vince McBean is involved with both the leaseholder NCL and tenants Clapton FC

On 1st March 2017, NCL appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett of Buckhurst Hill. The documents showed the trust owing £203,478 in long-term loans, £2,001 in accountancy fees, with the cost of voluntary liquidation estimated at £19,095.

Fans feared this voluntary liquidation would affect the club’s right to play at the Old Spotted Dog, its home since 1888, as well as London Bari (who next season will be known as Hackney Wick FC following a merger).

All went quiet for a while… then on 12th April 2017 came a big update from the campaign group Real Clapton FC direct from Royal Courts of Justice in London – the proposed voluntary liquidation was put on hold by a judge after an urgent application for an interim injunction.

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The form filed for voluntary liquidation of Newham Community Leisure Limited

The liquidator, Mr Bennett, then had the opportunity to contest the injunction, but we are told he has since consented to it remaining in place until the main case is heard.

That means the next step is waiting for the court to fix a day when a judge will decide on whether the voluntary liquidation can proceed/

Real Clapton FC has now raised over £8,000 of a £10,000 target for its action fund, to pay legal fees in the short term and establish a fan-owned club in the long term.

So could this attempted voluntary liquidation of the leaseholder affect Clapton’s ability to play at the Old Spotted Dog next season?

All member clubs must shortly prove to the Essex Senior League – presumably at their AGM on 22nd June 2017 – that they have a secure tenancy on a suitable ground for the whole upcoming season.

That seems under doubt when the leaseholder is attempting to go into liquidation with debts of over £200,000, and there is no indication of how the owner of the ground will react.

The club itself says no, it’s business as usual. A statement on its website on 1st April 2017 insisted the Clapton team “will be playing at the Old Spotted Dog Stadium, the same venue we will be playing matches at for seasons to come.”

Meanwhile Essex Senior League officials have also dismissed supporters’ concerns over the consequences of liquidation as mere ‘rumours’.

That is surprising confidence since the leaseholder company is in the hands of a liquidator. The directors of the company no longer have a say in what might happen. Tenants Clapton FC and Hackney Wick don’t either.

If the liquidation goes through, any transfer of the lease to another company will have to have the approval of the Charity Commission. NCL and its directors are currently under investigation.

We’ll have to wait for the conclusion of the court hearing to see what happens next.

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