Crisis club Clapton FC have appointed a new Head of Football Operations and a new joint manager.

Former Walthamstow FC boss Qayum Shakoor, who is also Head of Under 23s at Crawley Town and has been dubbed ‘non-league’s Harry Redknapp’, is the new Head of Football Operations.

His colleague at Crawley, Julian Charles, is the new joint manager alongside Wilf Thomas, who is staying on after returning to the club in the summer.

Former Glen Kendall and his backroom staff quit to take the reins at Basildon United but lasted just one game there before being sacked.

Shakoor was in the dugout last Tuesday for the club’s 3-0 ‘home’ defeat vs Takeley, which was switched to the opponent’s ground.

Thomas is the only one of three joint managers appointed this summer, along with Kendall and Halil Hassan, still at the club. Four coaches have also since departed during this period.

Thomas is listed as manager/coach but it’s understood he’s not involved on matchdays, which will presumably fall to Shakoor and Charles..

The club are now based at Southend Manor for the rest of the season, 40 miles from East London, although no home games are scheduled until January.

Thomas, Shakoor, Charles and any other backroom staff who may come in, will therefore have 13 home games out of 17 to move Clapton FC clear of the relegation zone.

The club’s former chief executive Vince McBean has been banned from all football activity – including spectating and performing any admin duties.

It is unclear who is running the club now and therefore who appointed Shakoor.

Neither the club nor the league website have removed his name as the main contact or added any new names.


A petition started by Vince McBean’s Clapton to try to get back into the Old Spotted Dog was today pulled by hosts 38 Degrees.

A short statement is now displayed instead, saying that it had been ‘disabled due to inappropriate content”.

The strongly worded petition, started under the name Clapton Football Club, targeted landowners Heineken and blamed the Charity Commission for causing the gates to be locked.

However, Heineken gave a completely different reason, telling charity news website Civil Society it had not been able to contact the leaseholders Newham Community Leisure, operated by Mr McBean, for two years.

Meanwhile a Charity Commission spokesperson added: “We have seen the recent petition. We refute the suggestion that the repossession is the responsibility of the Commission.”

38 Degrees have confirmed to us the petition could be resurrected if the petition starter removes some of the allegations it contained.

An Essex Senior League tweet – now deleted – complained that the petition had been taken down due to ‘underhand and unsportsmanlike’ behaviour from a complainant.

A CCTV camera has been installed on the pitch

Mr McBean or Clapton FC have yet to make any comment on its situation, aside from the now rejected petition.

The club and fellow ground-sharers Hackney Wick are due to play home games at alternative venues now the gates are locked.

The petition had been promoted many times by the ESL to all its members via email and social media.

The ESL today issued a statement to the Newham Recorder, saying: “The club has maintained contact with the League since Heineken UK sought to re-possess the ground from the leaseholders, Newham Community Leisure Limited.

“It is also finding alternative venues for its home fixtures, with a number of these being played at Aveley Football Club.

“It is understood Heineken UK have been accepting proposals from interested parties to take on the lease and are aware the Clapton FC have and understand Clapton Community FC may have also put forward proposals.”

A statement from Clapton Community FC, the members-owned club formed in response to Mr McBean’s mistreatment of Clapton FC and the Old Spotted Dog, said: “We can confirm we are in contact with the freeholder. We will comment further after consulting with our members.”

The Save the Old Spotted Dog group has been campaigning to return London’s oldest senior football ground to the people of Newham.

A Save the Old Spotted Dog statement today said: “Clapton FC’s chief exec liquidated the charity that ran the Old Spotted Dog in 2017, the freeholder says they have been unable to make contact since, and the Charity Commission has refuted allegations in his club’s petition.

“The move by the freeholder to take back control of the Old Spotted Dog is the best thing to have happened to the ground in decades. The Old Spotted Dog is a community asset and we have high hopes it will be run as such in future.”

Security fencing now surrounds the Old Spotted Dog and a video camera has been erected on the edge of the penalty area (see second photo above).


Clapton FC still don’t have a new chairman, eight months after the resignation of the last one.

Mark North joined last summer to replace John Murray-Smith but lasted just a few months before quitting in November.

Mr North was still listed as chairman on both the club and league websites until a few months ago. The role is now listed as TBC online instead.

The club had advertised for a new chairman in a matchday programme that was uploaded online in March.

In the same programme, chief executive Vince McBean also appealed for a groundsman, kitman and match day secretary.

None of those vacancies appear to have been filled.

In fact, the Clapton committee is listed as just two people on the club and league websites, namely Vince McBean, chief executive and emergency contact, and Shirley Doyle, secretary and fixtures secretary.

In the Sporting Bengal matchday programme, a third name, Sandra Powlette, is listed as treasurer.

We understand that Mr McBean turned up for the last 10 minutes of the Essex Senior League AGM in June and was a no-show at the July pre-season meeting.

There has been a gradual hollowing out of the club over the years.

All youth teams have quit the club in recent seasons – with the final team, under 18s, switching to Hackney Wick FC.

Two chairmen, two managers and three coaches have departed the club in the last year or so too.

Every player from last season’s squad has moved on, except for winger Valentine Iheanyogu.

Mr McBean’s club is also locked out of the Old Spotted Dog as it stands; and have been given seven days to find a home ground for at least 12 weeks.

Hr is also trying to liquidate the charity that holds the Old Spotted Dog lease, action which has been dragging on in the high courts for over two years.

His reckless mismanagement of the club and our historic ground led all fan groups to agree on a rock solid boycott of home games two seasons ago.

With no resolution to this crisis in sight, a members-owned club Clapton CFC was also set up last year.

Clapton FC had always been a members club since its foundation, but Mr McBean closed it to new membership many years ago.

With attendance over 400, 1,300 paid-up members and dozens of volunteers pitching in every match for no personal reward, Clapton CFC shows the potential that Mr McBean had within his grasp.

If only he had opened up the club to this surge in interest, rather than driving it away by trying to liquidate the Old Spotted Dog and closing the membership.



Clapton FC chairman Mark North has quit the club after little more than 100 days into the role.

We exclusively revealed North had joined on July 8th with the club announcing it themselves five days later.

On November 20th, however, North tweeted he had left the club and in fact was “officially retiring from football with immediate effect.”

On taking over from a very hands-off predecessor John Murray-Smith, North had told disaffected supporters that he would address the issue of the club’s closed membership issue as ‘one of his first tasks.

Clapton FC is supposed to be a members club, by its official, legal constitution, but it has long been closed for new members. That had caused friction between fans and club owner Vince McBean for years, a rift that came to a head when he tried liquidating the charity that runs the Old Spotted Dog ground, claiming he was owed a six-figure sum.

Unfortunately, we are not aware of any progress being made in regards to reopening the membership of the club.

North had indicated that social media would also be a priority, having previously built up 40,000 followers across all channels for United London, a now defunct club he had previously run where fans could choose the team.

Indeed there was a little flurry of online activity, with 8 articles published on the club website in July, an ‘official supporters website’ established and a new Instagram page. Some clips were uploaded to YouTube followed by a vow that games would be filmed.

However, things ground to a halt with the last article on the ‘supporters club’ website appearing on July 19th, the latest YouTube clip on October 2nd and Instagram on October 16th.

Nearly two months on from North’s tweet announcing his departure and there has been no mention of his departure nor word of any replacement on the club website. Curiously, he is still listed as chairman.

We offered North the chance to give a longer statement marking his departure, and he replied…

“I would officially like to thank Vincent, Shirley, Jonny and the players for their welcome and support during my brief spell with the club.

“I can only be impressed with the level of effort and commitment that goes on behind the scenes but sadly, my new job is taking up much more time that I envisaged.

“The club has a long proud history and I believe that it deserves someone who can devote more time to help the club move forward for the local community.

“As a committed family man, any spare time I have will now be spent enjoying watching my young son begin his journey in the sport we all love. I wish the team and the club all the very best for the future”.

We also contacted the club with a similar offer, though readers will be aware that Mr McBean has a policy of not giving any comment or even replying to us.

However, it doesn’t mean they don’t read our emails. Within 23 minutes of us hitting the ‘send’ button, the club tweeted this:

The Essex Senior League website still lists North as chairman and a spokesperson said they were “unaware of any internal changes at the club.”



Tower Hamlets is the cheapest place to watch ESL football

One of our most read features last season was our guide to the admission prices in the Essex Senior League so as a service to non-league footie fans we’ve done it again for 2018/9.
We’re pleased to report that of the 16 clubs that were in the ESL last season and are still in now, just 1 has put up their prices, by £1.
Indeed one club – Tower Hamlets – has cut their admission costs. The average adult price was £6.28. A majority of clubs offer free entry for children, too.
It was just as difficult to track down admission prices as it was last season. Most clubs don’t list theirs on their website and social media, and many don’t reply to emails, tweets and Facebook messages.
And the issue of concessions is still a minefield. Most clubs don’t list who qualifies as a concession, so perhaps best to try to contact them direct with any queries.

Leyton Athletic
£8 adults £4 conc

Southend Manor
£7 adults £5 conc Free under 16s

St Margaretsbury 
£7 adults £5 conc

Hoddesdon Town
£7 adults £4 conc

Saffron Walden Town
£7 adults £4 conc

£7 adults £4 conc Free under 14s

Sawbridgeworth Town
£7 adults £4 conc Free under 16s

£7 adults £3 conc Free under 16s
Free programme

Clapton FC
£6.50 adults £3 conc £1 under 18s Free under 10s

£6 adults £4 conc Free under 16s

Enfield FC
£6 adults £3 conc £3 under 16s

Sporting Bengal 
£6 adults £3 conc £3 under 16s

Woodford Town
£6 adults £3 conc £1 under 16s

Stanway Rovers
£6 adults £3 conc Free under 12s

Hullbridge Sports
£6 adults £3 conc Free under 16s

£6 adults £3 conc Free under 16s

West Essex
£5 adults £3 conc Free under 16s

£5 adults £3 conc Free under 14s
Free programme

£5 adults £3 conc Free under 16s
Free programme

Tower Hamlets
£5 adults £2 conc Free under 16s

If we have got something wrong, drop us an email or tweet us and we’ll correct it.

We can’t take any responsibility for these prices being correct at the time of your visit.

If you want to use our research in your own articles, feel free to do so but please give us a credit.

Finally, we probably don’t need to remind East London and Essex football fans that we, along with all other Tons fan groups. are still urging a boycott of Clapton FC home games due to the actions being taken by its chief executive.


Chairman John Murray-Smith is the latest departure from Clapton – but a replacement is due to be unveiled soon, we can reveal.

The chairman’s exit follows on from a string of departures in recent months: of fans’ groups to Clapton CFC; the last youth team quitting to join Hackney Wick; and legendary player Jerry Jairette, forced out after 10 years during his testimonial year.

Mr Murray-Smith’s replacement comes from YouTube football team United London, which has folded after two seasons. Its chairman Mark North is now lined up to become Vince McBean’s right-hand man.

United London had billed itself as ‘the world’s first managerless football club’ with users invited to download an app to select the team.

It had competed in the Essex Alliance Premier, Step 12 of the football pyramid, with home games played on the 3G pitch at Frances Bardsley Academy girls’ school in Romford.

The day after the announcement, the defunct club’s chairman Mark North, 39, responded to Twitter rumours that he would join Mr McBean’s team by admitting he would be unveiled ‘very soon’.

United London had been elected to the Essex Olympian League, and placed in Division 3, which is Step 10, this summer.

Their withdrawal leaves the division with just 11 clubs for the 2018/9 season.

Mr North will now join Mr McBean at Step 5 football.

Mr Murray-Smith is still listed as chairman on Mr McBean’s website but was described in passing in a statement on June 22 as the ‘ex-chairman.’

Sources suggest Mr Murray-Smith, who runs an insurance company, was chairman in little more than on paper. He did not attend games and there are no references to him in Google or on Mr McBean’s website except for the fact he held the post.

Mr North is expected to be more involved and told us: “I left United London to take up this post as I believe that the club has so much untapped potential and an iconic status in non-league.

“I’m here to work hard and give my free time like all the volunteers to help the club progress.

“I do not come into this club with a negative mindset, only focusing on the positive work that can and will be done over the coming months and years.”

When asked about specific issues over the management of the club and the Old Spotted Dog ground, which is currently in liquidation ahead of a High Court case, Mr North gave a more general reply.

He said: “I’m not blind to the previous issues and all know that there is a lot of work to do both on and off the field, however my sole focus is to look ahead to the future.”

We asked him how he would become chairman since Clapton Members Club has been ‘closed for restructuring’ since 2013, and its rules state you need to be a member to be elected chair. Does this mean membership has now reopened? Mr North declined to comment.

We  also approached Mr McBean for comment. However, readers will be aware the club has a long-standing policy of not responding to us. In fact we have not had the courtesy of even acknowledgement to over 20 requests for comment in the last year.



1 – Lanre Vigo kickstarts our article by holding one finger up. Pic:


Congratulations to the Tons playing staff, and thanks to the long-suffering fans, for another historic season in very trying circumstances.

2 – clubs, Southend Manor and Met Police, which banned Clapton’s away supporters due to fear of ‘pyro’ being used, despite a vote from the Ultras not to use them, which was rigidly adhered to.

3 – FA Cup rounds played, the first time we’ve won two FA Cup ties in a season since 1995/6.

4 – clubs who posted their highest ever attendance in their history when hosting the Tons this season – Hackney Wick, London Lions, Tower Hamlets and Wadham Lodge. 21 clubs recorded their season best crowd with the Tons in town.

5 – fifth season in a row the Tons finished in the top half of the table, for the first time since 1926/7.

6– articles on the official Clapton FC website relating to the team during the entire season, the most recent being on October 14th. The website went four months without any news update at all.

8 – Winning streak of games in the league from Enfield at home on October 3rd to Barkingside away on November 10th. The longest running streak since 1982/3.

10 – seasons of service that Jerry Jairette gave the club before being sacked, in his testimonial year, after criticising opponents who had banned fans. The club collected 36 in 17 games while Jerry was still there , at 2.12 points per game, and 27 points in 23 games afterwards, at 1.17 points per game,

11 – goalkeepers used , including outfield players Jerry Jairette and Nick Loblack, and including 6 keepers in 3 games.

18 – attendance at Clapton’s lowest gate of the season, the home game against Hackney Wick FC. The reverse fixture pulled in 785.

21 – goals scored by winger Jeffrey Cobblah in his first season at the club. Other top scorers were midfielder Steven Sardinha on 13, winger Aundre Spencer on 7 and defender Dylan Ebengo, striker Hassan Nalbant and midfielder Jay Morris all on 4,

53 – Average attendance at Clapton home league games this season, down from 388 for non-boycotted games the previous season.

63 – points gained this season, down from 92 in 2016/7 and 67 in 2015/6, but still the third best total since 1982/3.

64 – players used during the season as manager Jonny Fowell struggled to find a settled line-up.

186 – average attendance at Clapton away games.

273 – days the fans boycotted home games – the whole season. From the opening game on July 29th, through 20 league games and 7 cup games, to the final game on April 28th.

460 – the record amount, in pounds, that Clapton fans raised for the annual Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal

785 – the attendance at Clapton’s away game at Hackney Wick, the largest in the Essex Senior League since Jimmy Greaves played for Brentwood at Billericay Town in 1976.