EX CLAPTON BOSS MOVES ON IN BIG ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE MANAGEMENT RESHUFFLE

Mike Walther is moving on again

Former Clapton manager Mike Walther has left Stansted after less than a season with the Essex Senior League club.

Walther, who was the Airportmen’s number two, has departed alongside manager Mark Ashford after guiding the club to eighth place last season.

Ashford has completed his UEFA ‘A’ badge and is set to be looking for a challenge higher up the pyramid.

It is understood Walther, who left the Tons in September, may have an offer from a club above the ESL for next season.

Stansted have moved to bring in Hannakins Farm management duo Paul Pittuck and assistant Mark Healy.

They had led the Essex Olympian League side to promotion and narrowly missed out on the title last season.

Also giving a deserved chance to promising coaches from the Essex Olympian League, which sits below the ESL in the pyramid, are Basildon United.

The Bees have poached manager Marc Harrison and assistant Liam Wallace from their crosstown rivals Basildon Town after they achieved the league and cup double.

Meanwhile Tony Ievoli, who left Ryman North side Brentwood Town late last season, is back in the Essex Senior League, taking over at basement club Haringey & Waltham.

Ievoli will be looking to replicate the success he enjoyed at Wadham Lodge, where he took the unfancied E17 club to sixth spot in their first ever Essex Senior League campaign.

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”

AKS ZLY

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

RCJ Free

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.

HACKNEY WICK TO MERGE WITH LONDON BARI, GROUND SHARE WITH CLAPTON

Earlier this week we reported that Hackney Wick FC had announced they would be merging with an existing Essex Senior League team, however it seems the rumours of that team being Haringey & Waltham Development FC were incorrect.

Hackney Citizen have revealed that it will in fact be Clapton’s co-tenants at the Old Spotted Dog, London Bari FC.

Bobby Kasanga, The Wickers’ founder, is quoted in the article as saying that the merger would be a “mix of the two entities”, despite the team using the Hackney Wick name.

Apparently Bari’s existing manager, as well as some first team players and some of the committee will stay on at the rebranded club.

Bari have always struggled for crowds, averaging just 17 this season, so the new club will be hoping to see some improvement in that department.