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

CLAPTON MAKE HISTORY AS BARKING WIN THE TITLE – 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.

BATTLE OVER LIQUIDATION OF NEWHAM COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED REACHES THE HIGH COURT

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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

Last month we brought the worrying news that Newham Community Leisure Limited had applied for voluntary liquidation.

That is the charitable company which leases The Old Spotted Dog Ground from the brewery which owns the land, and allows Clapton FC to play there.

To recap: the trust appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett of Buckhurst Hill, on 1st March 2017 with the legal documents signed by Vincent McBean, who is also the Clapton FC chief executive, plus two other names.

The documents showed the trust owing £203,478 in long-term loans, £2,001 in accountancy fees, with the cost of liquidation estimated at £19,095.

Fans feared this liquidation would affect the club’s right to play at the Old Spotted Dog, its home since 1888, as well as that of fellow tenants London Bari.

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

For the time being, this means liquidator Stewart Bennett is unable to proceed with the liquidation. This is a temporary situation with the case due to either transfer to the Chancery Division of the High Court in the next two weeks or the injunction will be extended.

The campaign group has now raised over £7,500 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 liquidation affect Clapton’s ability to play at the Old Spotted Dog next season?

After all, clubs need to demonstrate to the Essex Senior League they have a secure tenancy on a suitable ground in order to compete. That seems under doubt when the lease-holder 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 the official website on April 1st said the team “will be playing at the Old Spotted Dog Stadium., the same venue we will be playing matches at for seasons to come.”

Meanwhile correspondence from an Essex Senior League official to a Clapton fan, which CFC News has seen, has also dismissed supporters’ concerns as ‘rumour’.

We’ll have to wait for the conclusion of the court hearing to see if that is the case.

INS AND OUTS: WHO’LL BE IN THE ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE NEXT SEASON

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Fan-owned Saffon Walden Town FC – who have an average attendance of 199 – are looking to join the Essex Senior League

The Essex Senior League next season will see the exit of Barking to promotion and the return of Great Wakering Rovers after relegation.

However, Great Wakering, who spent two seasons in the Ryman North. might not be the only new club returning to the ESL…

Saffron Walden Town

Saffron Walden Town of the Eastern Counties League have announced they have applied for a sideways transfer to the ESL.

The Bloods were members of the ESL until 2002/3 and indeed won the title in 1999/2000 but were prevented from being promoted due to ground issues.

Based around 10 miles from Stansted and Takeley, if Saffron Walden are accepted it would nudge the boundary of the Essex Senior League further north.

However, the club face journeys up to 90 miles in their current league, so are on the fringes of whichever league they are placed in.

Excitingly for Tons fans, Saffron Walden have a big fanbase, topping the attendance table in the ECL with an average of 199, even despite a mid table season.

Not only that, but they are owned by supporters, after the club went to the wall five years ago only to be saved by fans with help from Supporters Direct among others.

Woodford Town

Woodford Town could also be returning to the Essex Senior League after a 15-year absence since their sad demise.

Historic Town, where Jimmy Greaves once played. were evicted from their Snakes Lane ground in 1993 because of complaints about noise from local residents. A fire later destroyed the main building in 1996.

They continued until 2003, groundsharing in Greenwich and then at Clapton’s Old Spotted Dog ground, before the league decided not to re-elect them.

Incidentally current Clapton chief executive Vince McBean was the Woodford chairman through some of its turbulent final years.

A resurrected Town played one season in the Spartan South Midlands League in 2015/6, based at Brimsdown Road (formerly used by Enfield Town and Enfield FC) and then later ground-sharing with Ware, before withdrawing.

It’s understood a new Woodford Town, with a committee of seven, have applied to the Essex Senior League and would play at Brimsdown Road.

Brentwood Town

Brentwood Town are currently one place above the Ryman North relegation zone, two points ahead of Ware with 3 games to play.

However, if Brentwood were to drop into the bottom three, they would also return to the Essex Senior League along with Great Wakering.

Brentwood were last in the ESL ten years ago and were actually in the Ryman Premier last season.

There is also an outside chance that Waltham Abbey could drop into the relegation zone if Brentwood, Ware and others end the season very well.

Departures

This is looking quieter. Sources have suggested that no club will be relegated out of the ESL.

However, could league officials be forced into a rethink given Barking are the only departure and there are four potential entrants to the league?

Or does it suggest one – or more – of the applicants will be turned down?

Could a current ESL club be voted out of the league? Indeed, hold a current ESL club look to transfer out to a different league themselves?

We will find out all the ins and outs later this month.

Next season’s shake-up

A major shake-up of the non-league pyramid will kick in from 2018/9.

The ESL will have between 16 and 20 clubs – and will have a second division too.

There will be extra leagues above Clapton’s level, meaning that there may well be more than one promotion place up for grabs.

We’ll write in more detail about this shake-up as details emerge.

“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.