Sunday 12 May 2019

Clapton CFC - The Stray Dog

Clapton CFC
The Stray Dog
Wadham Lodge Sports Ground
Kitchener Road
E17 4JP

Official Website

Ground Number: 860
Saturday 11th May 2019
Clapton CFC 3-0 FC Roast
Middlesex County League D1 East & Central


The club was only formed in 2018, but their origins can be traced back to 2012 when the Clapton Ultras were formed. They were a group of football supporters who priced out of league football, decided to lend their support to Clapton FC, a team established in 1878. It was a happy marriage at first, Clapton's crowds rose from an average of 20 in 2012 to an average of 335 during the 2015/16. The Ultras were proud of their anti-fascist stance and also did a lot of work for the community, helping out local food banks and publicising the cases of unfortunate people that had been betrayed by the authorities and ignored by the mainstream media. The partnership was not to last though. Disagreements between the Ultras and Clapton owner Vincent McBean over things like the Ultras using pyrotechnics, the club raising admission prices and McBean's attempt to liquidate the charity that owned the 'Old Spotted Dog' ground. The venue had become a victim of fly-tipping but supporters from the Ultras group helped tidy it up and make it safer for the other fans.

The new club set up home at an outside pitch at Walthamstow FC's Wadham Lodge stadium. Closer to the centre of Clapton (by 0.3 miles) by foot than Clapton FC's home in Forest Gate, it was christened 'The Stray Dog' and is only intended as a temporary home. On the pitch, the team joined the Middlesex County League Division 1 which sits at step 8 of the Non-League pyramid. Their division has been heavily affected by points deductions with over half the teams in the league facing a sanction for one reason or another. As a result, the team who have gained the best results over the course of the season - London Samurai Rovers find themselves 4th after a 15 points deduction. As one of the few sides to beat London Samurai, Clapton sit 2nd in the league, with a game in hand on leaders Stonewall who sit two points ahead. With just the one game left to play, Clapton can win the title with a victory in this game. In local cups this season, Clapton CFC got to the Anagram Trophy Final, only to lose 5-1 to Catholic United in a game played at Oakside, home of Redbridge FC. They had better luck in the Jim Rogers Presidents Cup, the competition exclusively for Middlesex League Division 1 clubs. After overcoming South Kilburn Reserves, Deportivo Galicia Reserves, London Samurai Rovers and Wilberforce Wanderers they faced Hilltop FC in a game played at Uxbridge. After a 2-2 draw, Clapton came through 5-3 on penalties to win the first silverware for the fan-owned club.


I’d originally intended to visit Clapton CFC at the end of April but when I saw that they had a game on 11th May, I went to Worcester Park instead and had a very good day. With Clapton CFC playing at a fairly decent ground near Walthamstow, it was always a club I was keen to visit. More so, with their colourful fans, who had done well to form a new club after a falling out with the owner of Clapton FC. I’d really enjoyed my visit there back in 2014, even if I was ripped off at the turnstile when the said owner, Vincent McBean charged me £1.50 for a programme that was 2 sheets of black and white A4 paper. It was already a strained relationship between the owner and the fans back then, with the supporters refusing to spend any money in the ground, eventually, this led to boycotting games altogether after a hike in admission prices. The game that I had chosen was originally due to be a home game for FC Roast, but with limited capacity at their venue and a crowd of around 800 expected, it was switched to Clapton. If Clapton won, then they would be champions and earn promotion. Anything less then Stonewall would win the title, having completed their season already. I was aiming to get to the ground early, so had a sober Friday night and a decent night’s sleep. As well as a big crowd, rain was forecast and after suffering an unpleasant soaking at Horsham a week ago, I made sure that I took an umbrella.

The day of the game came and I woke around 6 but nodded off for another couple of hours. After having breakfast and getting freshened up, I left at 9.15. I needed to stop at Tesco on the way and pick up some stuff for the day and also to get some cash out. The latter was foiled after both cash machines were out of order, as was the one at Amersham station. I got to the station just before 10, but due to weekend engineering works, everything was up in the air and I had a 20-minute wait for my train. I took the Metropolitan line to Baker Street and the Bakerloo to Charing Cross, arriving around 11.20. It was then around 10 minutes walk to my chosen pub, The Harp for a couple of pre-match pints. It was a place that I’d visited many times before and even though I’d not been for a few months, the landlord recognised me. As usual, it was a Mecca for real cider and so I had a pint of Severn Brown Snout which was exceptional as ever from that brewer. The second pint, Ty Gwyn Medium Perry was another decent effort, though a little too sweet for my liking. I left just after 12 to heavy rain, passing several homeless people, equally disappointed at Prime Minister May as the unfortunate month that bore her name. It was Bakerloo to Oxford Circus, Victoria to Walthamstow where I bought some lunch.  Rather than mess around finding a takeaway, I stopped at  Lidl and Poundland and bought various bits including chicken. Finding the ground was a trial with several closed entrances but eventually, I was there at 2.15.

So, I popped to the toilet before going in, a few quid in the donation bucket was all it took. I was hoping to buy a scarf but on a busy day the merchandise was flying out and I was too late. I took my place for the first half in the commentary area with a couple of hoppers I knew, Chris and Giles. .The crowd was an incredible 1,266 and it was a fairly decent game. I've lost my notes on the game, so may have missed a few details. The opening goal came on 14 minutes when the ball was put across and Josh Adejokun netted from close range. It was 2-0 on 33 minutes when a long throw by Sherwin was nodded on and Adejokun poked home for his and his teams second. The game died down a bit after then with Clapton getting their third around 15 minutes from time. A cross was swung in and Adejokun volleyed home to complete his hat trick and put the game beyond all doubt. After getting a few pictures of the celebrations, I headed off towards the station. I spotted a bus which saved me some time but I was peckish again by now. I'd spotted a place called Cinar Grill when doing my pre-match research but had given it the swerve pre-match. But now, it was ideal and I had a hot lahmucan roll with chips for £4.20 which was pretty good. I got on the first train back to London, which happened to be Liverpool Street. Then it was the Bakerloo to Baker Street, it was a 4-minute wait for my train to Amersham, which made a nice change as I usually wait for ages. I was back through the door at 7.45 and spent the evening watching various quiz shows and catching up on YouTube subs. It was sad to think that this could be the end of my season, but all good things must come to an end. I was in bed by 10 but still didn't go to sleep as planned, instead watching TV until around midnight.


THE STRAY DOG is a temporary venue for Clapton CFC, but that doesn't stop it from being reasonably decent. There's a covered area holding around 150, plus there are around two-thirds of the pitch available for spectators, probably 1,800 at a push. The bar is a shed load of crates of Tyskie, so bring your own if that's not your bag. Food was a nice little Indian street food stall, though I didn't try anything. Merchandise was shirts, stickers, badges and old programmes by the time I got there, but there's usually more and it was a decent range, in any case, The town of Walthamstow? 25 minutes walk with a wide choice, or there are various places on the walk to the ground.

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