Essex Senior League side Clapton FC are set to play their first competitive home game away from the Old Spotted Dog in 15 years this weekend.
The Errington Challenge Cup game vs Enfield FC has been switched from the OSD to Aveley’s 3G pitch with a 11.30am kick off time.
The reason why is because the pitch needs time to recover after a new strip of turf was laid on one flank, in front of the famous Scaffold stand.
According to Peter Dudley on the Grassroots Football Show, the pitch was dug up by Vodafone. The company presumably carried out some work concerning the phone mast they have to the side of the Scaffold.
So is it a one-off? Dudley said on his radio show he felt it was “touch and go” whether the pitch would be ready for the next home game, on Tuesday.
Jason Maher, manager of Essex Senior League side Saffron Walden Town, felt it would take up to three weeks for the new turf to bed in. By that time, Clapton are scheduled to have played another five home games.
The action must have been carried out under the direction of the liquidator, ST Bennett & Co, which has been tasked with overseeing the Old Spotted Dog since March 2017.
The charity Newham Community Leisure, which used to run the facility, was placed into voluntary liquidation by Clapton FC chief exec Vince McBean and associates, because they wish to sell part of the ground. This process is being disputed in the High Court.
A spokesman for the Save The Old Spotted Dog community campaign said: “Any work at the Old Spotted Dog Ground must be carried out under the direction of the liquidator, using contractors appointed by him.
“Anything else strongly indicates that former trustee of the liquidated charity and now tenant Vince McBean remains in effective control of the ground.”
Fan groups connected to Clapton FC called a boycott of home games when Mr McBean, the club chief executive and former charity trustee, placed the charity in liquidation in March 2017, putting the future of London’s oldest senior football ground in grave peril.
The boycott has proved so watertight since that it’s understood there was just one paying customer at a recent home league game.
Campaigners argue that every penny handed over will help fund Mr McBean’s legal case as he attempts to seize control of the Old Spotted Dog lease in order sell off a portion of it,
A long-running High Court case rumbles on over this issue with a full trial not expected to take place until 2019.
Tons fans, life members and former committee members set up a team this summer under the name Clapton Community Football Club, and run entirely by members, as Clapton FC used to be.
Clapton CFC currently has just short of 1,000 members, playing its ‘home’ games at the newly-named Stray Dog in Walthamstow, with former Tons captain Geoff Ocran as player-manager.
Clapton FC spent much of 2002 and 2003 playing ‘home’ games at neutral venues, mostly at Aveley’s former ground but also Purfleet and Barking & East Ham United among others.
This was a few years into Mr McBean’s time at the club – he took over in 1999 – after the Isthmian League ordered ground repairs were needed that took a long time to be completed.
Clapton FC have a public policy of not answering our questions and have yet to respond to our last 20 requests for comment.