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Last season the team was withdrawn days before their tie due to lack of players, following the axing of the club’s youth system, but New Revolution Sports have stepped in to relaunch it now.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

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PLANS TO REVIVE CLAPTON YOUTH TEAM REVEALED

Kiernan Hughes-Mason

Kiernan Hughes-Mason

Clapton are set to have an academy team once again – a year on after the club disbanded its entire youth set-up.

Newham-based group New Revolution Sport yesterday announced plans to form an under-18s line-up as it aims to rebuild the club’s academy set-up from scratch.

The academy, which will be run separately from the main club, also offers a chance to study for a BTEC sports diploma in a two-year football and education program.

It means the club may once again compete in the prestigious FA Youth Cup next season, after withdrawing this season just days before the scheduled tie at Ilford.

The driving force behind the scheme is Kiernan Hughes-Mason, who plays himself for Hastings United after spells with the likes of Millwall, Grimsby Town, Kettering Town and Welling United.

Kiernan, who is only 25 himself, has studied sports coaching at the University of East London and previously managed Leatherhead’s Under-18s set-up.

He also set up the youth football club Pro Power Dragons, where Clapton assistant Andre Thomas was also a coach.

Kiernan told us: “Clapton is close to my heart as my dad Peter Mason played for Clapton while they were in the Ryman League.”

Clapton’s reserve, U18s and U15s were all axed at the end of last season. In previous seasons the club had also fielded U13s, U14s, U16s and U17s.

There is no word on whether the club, under manager Jonny Fowell, may reintroduce a reserve team.

FA YOUTH CUP PREVIEW – THE CURIOUS (AND CANCELLED) CASE OF ILFORD U18s V CLAPTON U18s

UPDATE: Ilford FC announced via Twitter on Thursday, September 1st that Clapton have withdrawn from the competition.

Well, this is curious. Clapton controversially pulled the plug on every team except the first team.

The reserve, U18s and U15s were all axed at the end of last season. In previous seasons the club had also fielded u13s, U14s, U16s and U17s but they were chopped before.

So without any youth or reserve teams, it’s unclear who will play for Clapton U18s in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup, or who will be managing them. Hopefully last season’s very talented team have stayed together even if they are not playing in a league.

Despite the question marks, it’s a prestigious competition and drew a reasonable crowd to the Old Spotted Dog last season where our very talented youth team of the time ran Hornchurch close. Some of our play was truly a joy.

Ilford certainly seem organised and up for it, with their youth team manager tweeting: “Come and support us, get in early going to be a big crowd.”

A First Round Qualifying tie at FC Broxbourne Borough awaits the winner and the professional teams start to enter in the next round. It’s not unheard of for teams at our level to land a big name – in fact Waltham Forest reached the last 16 a decade ago, beating West Brom among others. Fingers crossed for a similar run then.

* Incidentally the axing of the youth teams led to a group of Clapton fans forming Downs FC, debuting in the Essex Corinthian League this season on Sundays, to give some more playing opportunities to local youth.