I was in London on Saturday to take in some proper non league football. But non league football with a difference. Clapton Community FC V Stonewall FC.
You may or may not be aware of the story around Clapton Community FC. I am probably not in the best position to do it justice here, but after a group of left leaning ultras, a few nutcases and plenty of well meaning people attached themselves to the old Clapton and formed the “Clapton Ultras.” So started years of wrangling with a dubious owner of the Old Spotted Dog ground, issues with the league and the nature of Clapton’s support (when did a bit of pyro ever hurt anyone?) and so in the end I think everyone went, fuck this… and formed their own, fan owned Clapton Community FC. You can read the full story here here.
Clapton are staunchly inclusive, left wing, anti racist, anti homophobia and anti discrimination of all kinds. Except nazis of course, fuck them. So the fixture against Stonewall, a charity that does so much great work for gay rights, particularly in sport felt like a fixture of some significance. Particularly as Stonewall had beaten the tons 4-0 earlier in the season! There was also going to be a drive at the match to fight blood cancer with DKMS UK who are a charity fighting blood cancer and were there to actively register supporters as potential donors through a basic mouth swab.
The Match Itself
Clapton isn’t just about the football, it’s about community and togetherness but don’t think that this is some sort of hipster fad, Clapton fans genuinely care about their team and their players. The game itself was great, with Clapton being 4-0 up at half time! Stonewall pulled one back just after the break before Clapton got a 5th and were cruelly denied and absolutely worldie of a goal by the offside flag. You can watch the highlights on their Facebook page which is always up to date with great content. A brilliant match day programme is produced each game and is far better value at £2 than most of the official voice pieces you get at football league clubs. And I forgot to mention that to come and watch Clapton is only a £3 donation entry! What isn’t there to love?! And with over 600 people through the gate at a game in the Middlesex County league you can see what a special team Clapton are and what a special game this was.
After their great win the players came over to celebrate with the fans and appreciate all the money raised for such a good cause in DKMS. The bond between the fans and the players is great, with them leading a celebratory chant and several of them having their own chants during the game. As I say, these are proper football fans… not some hipsters passing through. A drummer keeps the beat to chants all game; about the players, being the pride of East London and exactly the sort of stuff you get any ground around the country.
I’ll be moving to London soon and I can’t wait to get back to the “Stray Dog” and become a fully fledged member of the tons. The club is completely fan owned and you can sign up to be a member here. I would highly recommend it and definitely try to get down for a game. If you are tired of the expensive and corporate nature of modern football, then Clapton CFC are the perfect antidote. Up the Tons!