JONNY FOWELL QUITS AFTER THREE SEASONS

After almost three full seasons as manager of Clapton FC, Jonny Fowell has announced he will step down at the end of the current campaign.

The news was broken in an interview with the Newham Recorder’s Jacob Ranson with Fowell pointedly saying he was looking for a club that can challenge for promotion.

That the Tons finished second in his first season, but Fowell feels now it’s no longer possible to aim for a similar finish, is rather telling.

Taking Clapton FC to the runners-up spot in the Essex Senior League in the 2016/7 season will undoubtedly be seen as the high point of Fowell’s reign.

The form was spectacular – 10 wins in 11 away matches, 21 wins in the last 26 overall – and the points per game would have probably been enough to win the ESL title outright in many other seasons.

The Tons fans lapped up the talents of Johnny Ashman, Jay Knight, Ryan Reed, Steven Sardinha, Nathan Cook, Dylan Ebengo, Lanre Vigo, Tayo Awoderu, Emmanuel Olajide, and Jerry Jairette.

The season ended in the sunshine at the Old Spotted Dog with Jerry lifting the runners-up shield in front of 684 jubilant fans after a 7-0 thrashing of Burnham Ramblers.

Fast forward two years, and Clapton’s home game vs Hoddesdon Town last Saturday was apparently witnessed by just 10 people, 6 of whom were away fans. It shows just how much the club has been hollowed out since.

For chief executive Vince McBean chose that point in history, spring 2017, to liquidate the charity that runs the Old Spotted Dog, claiming it owes him almost £200,000 that he’d loaned it for unspecified reasons.

That, of course, sparked all fan groups into calling for a boycott of all home games that continues to this day, while Mr McBean’s liquidation is still being contested through the High Court.

Fowell has remained loyal to Mr McBean during this period – and indeed in his Newham Recorder interview stressed that ‘Vince has been a great chairman”. (A slip of the tongue, surely, as Mr McBean insists he is just chief exec, not the owner or chairman).

It’s fair to say in contrast that Tons fans never warmed to Fowell, and vice versa, But privately he must wonder what might have been achieved if Mr McBean hadn’t driven the supporters away.

From the highs of that first season – where Fowell showed he could build a decent team with no budget, with close to 400 people on average watching them – it’s been a steady decline on and off the field since.

The club sits in 14th place and is looking to fill vacancies for a chairman, manager, groundsman,  kitman and matchday secretary. The youth teams and reserves are long gone.

And of course the supporters have re-established a members-owned Clapton side, competing in the Middlessex County League, which is going better than anyone dared to have dreamed.

Yet Mr McBean clings on, as even without any gate receipts on matchdays, there’s enough income from other sources to make it a tidy little earner.

Clapton FC has posted a statement on Twitter confirming the news, adding: “Clapton fc wishes to confirm that manager @jonnyfowell16 is leaving the the club at the end of the season.

“Clapton fc is grateful to @jonnyfowell16 for his contribution and efforts to stabilise the club and wish him all the best for the future – committee Clapton FC.”

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ELEVEN INS AND OUTS AS CLAPTON LOOK TO KICKSTART LEAGUE CAMPAIGN

Jonny Fowell has brought in Colin Reid as head coach

Manager Jon Fowell has added four new players and seen seven depart in recent weeks as Clapton look to get their Essex Senior League campaign back on track.

The Tons sit in seventeenth spot, just one place above relegation zone, after an iffy start to the league campaign, though enjoyed two great wins in the FA Cup, including against higher level Norwich United.

Fowell has also appointed former Macclesfield Town and Bishops Stortford coach Colin Reid as his new head coach, alongside assistant manager Andre Thomas and Ray Bartlett, the first team coach.

Having drawn a blank in front of goal in four of the nine matches this season, much of the player changes have been up front.

As the Tons look for their first home win of the season against Burnham Ramblers on Saturday, here we run through the changes since our last article on arrivals and departures.

 

Outs

Attacking midfielder Raphael Duyile, a near ever-present since returning to the club last season, has joined Essex Senior League rivals Barkingside. Rafa scored once this season and three times last but now reunites with former Clapton manager Mike Walther and has already played twice for the ‘Side.

Striker Craig Heskey has rejoined his former club Burnham Ramblers, for whom he scored 4 in 10 games at the end of last season. What are the odds on a goal on his return to the Old Spotted Dog on Saturday? Heskey started just one game in his second spell at Clapton plus two sub appearances.

Another striker Anton Stephenson also departs after taking the assistant manager’s job at Barking. He reunites with Justin Gardner, with whom he worked at Tower Hamlets. Stephenson started one game – the FA Cup tie at FC Clacton where he scored the only goal – and made two sub appearances. He appears to have also signed as a player for Redbridge.

Grafting midfielder Dean Bouho, pacy wideman Mustafa Kahie, composed centre-back Jordan Meikle and young striker Caiden Imbert-Thomas have also left the club after just 1 start and 2 sub appearances between them this season.

Ins

Greg Akpele made his Clapton debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat against Needham Market after signing from Non-League Chance. Announcing the signing, Fowell said attacker Akpele “will be a sensation at this level.”

Akpele caught the eye of higher level clubs after scoring 11 goals in the Essex Senior League for Basildon United four seasons ago. After trials with professional clubs, including Leyton Orient, Dagenham & Redbridge, he then went on to short spells at Braintree Town, Hampton & Richmond. Kingstonian, Cheshunt, VCD Athletic, Barkingside and Burnham Ramblers. Last season he was at Romford in the Isthmian North, where he bagged 6 goals.

Tall striker Ikem Odeh enjoyed a dream debut for the Tons, scoring on his debut against Norwich United. Starting as a youth at St Albans City, he’s since played for Cockfosters and Berkhamsted, in the Spartan South Midlands League, the same level as the ESL, scoring 2 in 30 appearances,

Also newly registered are Nick LoBlack, a former Haringey & Waltham Development defender, and former Ilford player Scott Hill.

TWO-PART INTERVIEW SPECIAL WITH CLAPTON MANAGER JONNY FOWELL

image.jpegClapton FC News joined the Old Spotted Dogcast for an in-depth interview with Jonny Fowell which you can now hear in two parts.

The interview was a chance to put fans’ comments, queries and concerns to the new boss, and he answered everything we threw at him.

After the grilling, which took place last Friday (October 21), there was around 80 minutes of audio so the Dogcast has edited it into two special episodes.

In the first part of the double header, Jonny talks about his football background, clarifies some of the comings and goings at the Dog since his arrival in September, and outlines his vision for the team.

In the second part, we talk about his first impressions of the Clapton support, the Ultras’ politics (and his), his relationship with chief executive Vince McBean (and ours), plus his overall feelings about his first month at the Dog.

You can listen to them on the Old Spotted Dogcast website or subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.

What do you think of the interview? Join the debate on the Clapton Ultras forum.

CLAPTON FC NOW PAYING PLAYER EXPENSES, MANAGER REVEALS

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Manager Jonny Fowell with Clapton chief exec Vince McBean

Clapton FC players are now receiving travel expenses, new manager Jonny Fowell has revealed.

The issue of players and coaches being out of pocket has long been contentious – and is understood to be a factor in ex-boss Mike Walther’s decision to quit.

However, in an interview with Clapton FC News and the Dogcast, Fowell said chief exec Vince McBean had agreed to provide a travel budget for away games.

He said: “I don’t know how much they get but Vince pays per vehicle, so they get a little bit of travel expenses that way.

“They don’t get wages, they just get what we call diesel money.

“I basically told him to do it because (otherwise) you can’t keep a squad together. And he understands that now.”

It was not made clear if the backroom staff also receive travel expenses, but Fowell said he was used to working within a tight budget anyway.

He said: “Even at Enfield, the Under 21s, I had to buy my own kit, my kit cost me £160. I had to buy my own balls, my own cones, my own bibs.

“I got nothing and that’s Ryman. Their budget is probably £3000 a week up there.”

Asked what he had said to persuade McBean, Fowell added: “I said ‘look. it would help the boys travel’. It’s not a lot of money but it shows that he cares.

“I told Vince I want bibs with numbers. I ordered bibs, which Vince paid, that is £50. He bought some balls. So he has dipped into his pocket which is great for me.”

The full interview is coming soon on the Dogcast, with more excerpts here on Clapton FC News. Subscribe to the Dogcast here.