Wadham Lodge (h)

So this Saturday we face Wadham Lodge. There is frost forecast but we have a good track record of having games go ahead this season, so fingers crossed. Still, the OSD pitch needs to brace itself for a heavy fixture list with Bari and Clapton due to play on it 62 times in January.

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Literal Child Ryan Creed in action for Barking

Wadham Lodge are currently showing how strong the Essex Senior League is. Having got promotion from finishing 4th in the Essex Olympian League, they now find themselves 5th in the ESL. We lost against them earlier this season due to a couple of dubious penalties, I say dubious but I mean diving in the box. Not just bias fans opinion, players have been heard bragging about it. Plus the stats don’t lie- they have been awarded 10 penalties already this season. That’s twice as many as anyone else in the ESL. Brian Clough would not have been impressed. However these Don Revie tactics seem to be doing the trick. Formed in 2008, they have had an amazing 4 promotions in 5 seasons from the Essex Business Houses League all the way through the Essex Olympian League divisions.

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Wadham Lodge’s Charlie Georgiou

I was told by a friend that his friend has started the ‘Wadham Warriors’ and she is expecting to bring a fair few people along. So we might actually get some vocal opposition support that presumably won’t try and goad us with EDL and Thamesmead chants. Please to see Neil Day’s team efforts to recruit a following is paying dividends. Although judging by their Twitter profiles they make Dulwich fans look like a cast of a Danny Dyer film, Stoke Newington appears to have become too expensive for the average journalist wage.

My source tells me that we have signed an exciting player from Barking. Many of you may remember him from our 9 men win in 2013/14 season- the young cheeky chappy who scored the penalty. I say young, I mean proper young, I was tempted to call social services when someone called him a tosser (you can’t underestimate the impact of emotional abuse to a young person). Anyway, his name is Ryan Creed and he has been doing a cracking job at Barking prior to joining us having scored 25 plus over the last two seasons.

Score Prediction: Expect goals, both Wadham and Clapton are top of the goal scoring charts. 3- 1 to Clapton but if we take Wadham’s two penalties in to the equation then it will be recorded as 3-3. So it will be a draw. Fuck moral victories… I want to win.

Player to watch: Charlie Georgiou. Not because he is any good but because you need to watch fucking cheats.

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Not Your #LadzDayOut

Here at Red Menace we’ve become concerned in recent weeks about the atmosphere at the Dog.  We’re not talking about the singing from the Ultras, which as ever is a wall of sound.

Rather, what concerns us is the way the The Old Spotted Dog appears to be infested by Lads.  Specifically, Massive Lads.  Massive Lads here for a #ladzdayout.  They come, they drink loads of beer, maybe run on the pitch and generally treat the football match we all pay money to see as a big fucking joke – a backdrop for an afternoon out on the piss – and then they skedaddle back to “civilisation” (as I heard one person describe leaving Forest Gate).

The way things are going, it feels like we need to brace ourselves for stag parties coming to the Dog.

With their ledge banter and a swaggering entitlement that only white cis straight men can manage, they take up a lot of space in and around the Scaffold yet also don’t seem to recognise or respect the other people that share that space.

Clapton Ultras have always tried to make the Spotted Dog a place where people who feel marginalised from other football can be made to feel welcome.  All of us (especially those of us who are white men) need to be aware that a large group of drunk, mostly white, mostly men being rowdy is ipso facto alienating to a lot of people.  And increasingly, some fans do feel alienated by what Clapton is becoming.

Many of us started going to Clapton because it was a genuine community – everyone looking out for everyone else; now it feels people are climbing over each other for the best spot, behaving in ways that discomfits others and not treating the space or the people they share it with the respect that should be automatic.  A respect we have had to physically defend on more than one occasion.  Some of us, both old and new, would do well to bear that in mind.

If you’re coming for the first time, be aware that for the vast majority of us, the football and the politics are both deadly serious.  Clapton Ultras are here to support the team, not for your entertainment.  We are not a spectacle.

If you would like to get involved with helping the stands of Clapton FC become a genuinely inclusive community, get involved.  Speak to us, either online, on the forum, or before a match; we’re always happy for people who share our values to take an active part in what we do.

If you just want a backdrop for your afternoon #beers with the #lads at the #footy; well there’s about a hundred clubs within the M25 that will appreciate your presence more than us.

Burnham Ramblers (h)

Read Scaffold Gal‘s preview of one of the toughest matches the in-form Tons will face at this stage of the season.

So on Saturday we are at home to Burnham Ramblers. If the name sounds familiar it’s because it is the club that hosted the final for the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy (named after a former Ramblers player), less said about that day the better. The Ramblers were relegated from Ryman North last season after getting promoted there through winning the ESL in the 2012/13 season.
Upon researching on their website I noticed that one of their packages included an opportunity to become a Vice President of the club for £100. Get a season ticket, to use the boardroom, name in the programme and a reserved seat. No job requirements stated. That is odd right?
Most of the squad have played in Ryman but appeared to have struggled to adapt to ESL. Recently they lost against Sporting Bengal at home 4-2 in the FA Vase. This is probably due to complacency as there is obvious quality there, which means Clapton shouldn’t take anything for granted.
As for Clapton. Oh Clapton, Clapton, Clapton…. 3-1 down and we came back to draw 3 all. I was at the game but my vision was blurred on the day (think it had something to do with my Polish diet), so I struggled keep up with the going ons. New faces yet again as we welcome Reece Hewitt. With Pape out injured it is anyone guess who will be between the posts this Saturday, but as anyone knows, you need confidence as a keeper, so hoping that the gaffer puts faith in one and sticks with him. Warren Mfula isn’t quite 100% match fit, so I think we can expect more in the coming games.
Social media was alight with some pyro from the ESL last week and it was nothing to do with Clapton. Shall we expect a different kind of green smoke at the Dog?

Ramblers

Predictions: Hard fought 2-2 draw…

Player to watch: Jason Rigg – 18 years old. Their manager rates the guy, I know nothing about him.

Southend Manor 1 – 5 Clapton

Well fuck me, I didn’t expect that. I don’t think any of the six of us that made it out to Essex-on-Sea expected that to be honest. Following one of the most complete Clapton performances I’ve ever seen, we’re now second in the league.

The evening started pretty bizarrely for those of us that had gotten on the early train into Southend Central, as we noticed that there was a Spurs Megastore on the high street leading down to the beach. Dunno what that’s all about.

“You’d think they’d at least have one in Milton Keynes (cue endless laughter)”

After promises of a pub crawl down the front, the first drinking establishment. that looked like we wouldn’t get glassed turned out to be Southend’s Premier Rock/Indie Venue. Bands gracing the bill included Guns 2 Roses, Cast, and OPM (tickets still available for this one apparently). There was also the incredible moment where the playlist jumped sharply from System of a Down to Liberty X (ask yer da).

Four beers in and I still got battered by the high winds on the way to the ground. The three of us – possibly buoyed from the excitement of seeing Adventure Island up close – decided that the best way to spend our time getting to the ground would be to at least have a go on the claw machines that had looked so inviting before the pub.

“Lets win a Scottish Minion and use him as a mascot for the season”

Five goes later and we left the establishment gutted and minionless. On to the ground though with a portion of chips to try and warm us up. We spent the remaining 10 minutes of the walk trying to perfect the Southend accent in order to get served at the bar (only been open to locals on the previous two visits). As luck would have it, on arrival into the Southchurch *Arena* (three completely open sides plus two tiny stands does not an Arena make), the bar was closed to everyone. Brilliant. And we’d forgotten to buy beers for the ground. Double brilliant.

Something we’ve noticed this season since the two PE Teachers/Sporting Hackney coaches joined the backroom staff is how good the warm ups have been pre-match. Every player looked pumped and sharp while being barked at by the coaches, while Mike – the master tactician – observed and (probably) took notes. As the players ran in to get ready for kick-off, Pete Moore acknowledged us and thanked us for making the journey, he really is lovely.

“I didn’t expect you lot to come.”

“Well we fucking love it don’t we?”

As we kicked off late (obviously), this allowed time for the other half of our group to show up to give us a good round number of six Clapton fans in total. Trepidation set in, as this was our first proper test of character against top half opposition. The loss at Basildon on the first game of the season seemed a long time ago, and Mike seems to have settled on his best XI. With Tom Webb being back from America it looked to be the strongest starters available to him. We lined up looking like this:

                Pete O’Connor

          Quinton Monville     Kristian Haighton    Tom Webb    Pete Moore

                      Geoff Ocran                 Freddie Morris

           Mendes Gomes                                 Nathan Cook                             Khadean Campbell

           Roddy Lemba

I don’t want to gush, but I’m going to gush. Considering what pre-season has been like, it’s not been a surprise that we’ve taken time to click, but now we have what looks to be an established starting core, and things look very very promising going by last night. It’s telling that Mike allowed Nathan to play in the hole behind the striker last night, as it was a flat pitch, we got to see exactly how good this lad is.

The first half was pretty even from the start, the only difference being Clapton soaked up any pressure that came to them and turned it into goals. The first coming from a beautiful Cook pass which opened up the Southend defence to allow Roddy to finish very very coolly. Knowing what the ESL is like, we expected the home team to score about 4 in reply, but it wasn’t to be. A couple of minutes later, Nathan picked the ball up about 40 yards from goal, pirouetted past the Southend player who was trying to take man and ball and smashed it into the top corner, easy as you like. 2-0

Khadean Campbell has been touted as “the new Ninja” by some people, and going from last night’s performance, he might even be (whisper it) better. The third was all down to him, picking the ball up on the left wing, he took the piss out of Southend’s right back/captain and did him a kipper before finishing beautifully into the far corner. Three fucking nil and we’d played fifteen minutes.

“Can we play you every week lads?”

The fourth and fifth goals were scored before 40 minutes were up. But I can’t remember who scored because a lack of food and a load of drink combined with the delirium of following the Clapton meant I forgot to check, and the FA website isn’t telling me at the time of writing. Nathan had a hand in basically all that was good last night, everything he touched turned to gold/goals. This is not to denigrate the rest of the team though, every single player worked their fucking arses off for the shirt last night. It was great to see the Webb/Haighton centre-back pairing again. Quinton was his usual lively self on the right and Pete Moore was solid on the left. Geoff and Freddie swept up everything that came towards them in their deeper midfield roles, while the front three of Khadean/Roddy/Mendes looked fucking great. I really hope our chairman sees the potential in these lads and offers some kind of incentive for them to stay. We’ll do our best as fans, but there’s only so much we can do. Over to you, Vince.

I digress, as half-time came panic set in as we realised that no-one had any alcohol bar one tin of cider that had gotten past the stewards. K had 8 can taken off him which would be consumed on the train, but now it was time to refresh ourselves for the second half. As darkness had sunk in over Southend, in the distance we had spotted the one shining light, an offie. So me and F were dispatched to get beers in. As we sneaked round to the Curva du Playpark we realised the flaw in our plan, there was a massive fence between us and alcoholic release.

“My jeans are too tight to make the jump.”

“Just pull them right up for fuck sake”

A crate and some ciders bought, we sneaked back over just as the second half was starting. Realising that we’d have to get it past the army of stewards on the near corner of the pitch. We decided to take the long way round back to the stand, this meant that we got a perfect view of the only incident of note of the second half, where Haighton leant into the striker just as he took a shot, which the linesman somehow deemed to be a foul. Penalty to Southend. The striker managed to send Pete the wrong way and reduced the deficit very smartly, even though he was being distracted by some absolute wool behind the goal.

“You’re gonna miss pal, you’re gonna miss, you’re gonna miss!!!”

“Oh”

Literally nothing happened in the second half, Southend’s comeback was short lived and Clapton dealt with everything else they tried. Considering this was the start of a few tough tests on the pitch for us, where we’re gonna start playing some top half teams, it was a very assured performance from everyone. It were great.

At the final whistle we had a mini singing sesh with the players, fair play to them, they were all very sweaty regardless of the cold so they’d clearly done a lot of running (although Kristian didn’t take his top off this time :(). We gave them some left over beers to share in the changing room and back to Southend East we went, intrepid explorers one and all.

The left over cans on the train led us into deep analytical discussions about Robot Wars and Nathan Blake (intrinsically linked, probably).

“Did you know Nathan Blake won a Welsh Language Soap award?”

“I didn’t even know he was Welsh”

But the final leg of the journey was filled with suggestions for Walk On Music at The Dog. Sunchyme by Dario G was mentioned along with Darude’s classic, Sandstorm. But our big idea came just as we all went our separate ways at Barking. Watch this space…..

All in all a fun night for those that went. Sawbo away on Saturday, a village/town that has more pubs than people and the possibility to crawl to and from the station without doing the same pub twice. We’ve now climbed above the Blue Shite (Barking) by winning our game in hand and now sit prettily in second! Sawbo are third so this will be another serious test for the lads but on last night’s performance we don’t have much to fear from other teams any more. It was fucking cracking.

You Tons.

Stanway Rovers (h)

So this Saturday we face Stanway Rovers. Forgive the Clapton fans for not being very excited about this one, third year in a row we have got them. We will be praying there isn’t a replay because the ground is not easy to get to for us city folk. Good memories the first replay for me personally as I travelled down with 2 other fans with the then Captain Craig Greenwood (Duckie) in his lovely beemer. He told us lots of tales on the way there and back, including how he puts his finger somewhere unpleasant to put opposition players off. Needless to say he is one of my Clapton heroes. For a full report of that 0-1 win away day, with Neil Matthews screamer, check out the editor’s article in Red Menace first edition.
I was told once that Stanway Rovers tried to join the ESL because it well known that ESL is the easiest league to get out of. Fucking cheeky bastards. They may have a player upfront called Chris Thomas, he was at Clapton when I first started going, back then he was the only player scoring goals for us (11 that season I think). He is the kind of player we don’t see much at Clapton, big lump up front that scored a lot with his head. But he fucked off. I swear we had like massive crowds of 50 then. Bastard.

For a history of Stanway Rovers please see Wikipedia. They beat us 1-0 last season but was a fun away day in which 9 fans turned up and 9 players. Please let’s not get them again. I really want us to get Reading Town FC, which I learned the other week is a non league team that has a history of lefty politics. Great to see clubs trying to do positive things in their community (would rather write about them than StanwZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZ).

Predictions: Take us to a replay and next season we draw them in the FA cup.

Player to watch: Chris Thomas. Just so we can give him shit. Why did you leave us like that Chris? We were doing so well. Could have been special.

Follow Gal on Twitter here

Cockfosters (a)

So tomorrow is our first *proper* away friendly of pre-season. No one bothered going to watch the 6-0 win against Laindon Orient because we couldn’t drink and smoke and we’re quite good at sulking like that.

The match on Tuesday against Romford gave plenty of hope for this season, Shomari Barnwell led the line pretty effectively and no one was moore (wink wink) delighted to see our left-back from two seasons back return, WELCOME BACK PETE.

Plenty to look forward to tomorrow, the ground is right next to Cockfosters Tube Station – at the north end of the Piccadilly line. If you have an oyster then you have no excuse not to be there, it’s set to be a cracker with a family day planned by our hosts.

Enjoy yourselves.

You Tons.

LET’S DO FOOTBALL AGAIN OVER SUMMER

The end of the season is fast approaching.  We’ve played the game of Russian Roulette that is Vince’s end-of-season barbecue, we’ve drank Jägerbombs with the players, we’ve been declared winners of the prestigious Clapton Fanzine Of The Year Award*.  Cup matches aside, the season has wound down.

No doubt most Clapton fans are relishing the opportunity to spend more time with friends, family and loved ones; bring their average number of sheets to the wind at 7pm on a Saturday evening down to that magical 2.5 value; and imagine what Vince’s Exciting Shiny New Spotted Dog will look like next season**.

But for those of us who get the shakes at the thought of more than a week without football, here’s where to go over summer.

Women’s Super League

The Women’s Super League has barely started their summer season.  In WSL 2 there are two London clubs – Millwall Lionesses who play either at the Den or at Beckenham Town FC and London Bees based at Barnet’s Hive stadium. Slightly further afield, Arsenal, Chelsea and Watford all play slightly outside the M25 – in Borehamwood, Staines and Berkhamsted respectively.  Tickets aren’t much more than at the Dog (Arsenal charge £6) and you can normally drink in the stands or on the terraces.  Both divisions break up in June for the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Fixtures are here

Women’s FA Cup Final

The Women’s FA Cup final is to be played at Wembley Stadium for the first time ever on 1st August and tickets are only £10.  There’s likely to be  a Clapton contingent to what is a historic event.

Tail End of the Winter Season

The 2014/15 winter season extends well into May, mostly involving cup/playoff finals.  Selected highlights below:

4th May: Isthmian League Playoff final (teams/ground TBD)

6th May: West Ham Ladies v Charlton Ladies, London FA Capital Cup Final, Harrow Borough FC

7th May:  Tooting and Micham United v Hendon, London FA Cup Final, Met Police FC

10th May: Stonewall FC II v NWA FCLondon League Cup Final, Wembley FC

* Sadly the award got lost in the post and Vince forgot to mention it in the prize-giving.  But it’s definitely a real award.

** Jury’s still out, but I fear that “working showers” might be setting the expectation level too high.