This is Not a Stag Party Venue
It’s hard not to feel at least a tiny bit sorry for the musician Frank Turner. Despite the Old Etonian’s publicised disdain for the left in general and scorn for militant anti-fascism in particular, it seems he was dragged along to Clapton’s last home game against Barkingside as part of a friend’s stag party. Evidently knowing nothing whatsoever about football, he had to appeal to his thousands of Twitter followers for help on how to avoid completely embarrassing himself.
We have to ask: what kind of mates does poor Frank have, forcing him to watch a game he doesn’t understand surrounded by leftists and anti-fascists he despises? Just as importantly, how on Earth did the prospective groom’s best man think this was ever a good idea?
A far better singer-songwriter than Turner, the sainted Jarvis Cocker, insisted that “everyone hates a tourist”, but in all honesty we don’t – not all tourists, anyway. First-time visitors who are curious about what is happening at Clapton FC, who want to enjoy the atmosphere and watch some football without paying out an absolute fortune, are always very welcome. We hope they keep coming and become as obsessed as we are.
We have, of course, asked before that newcomers recognise the Scaffold is the Clapton Ultras’ space, that we are passionate about supporting the team throughout a game and if you want to chat with your friends, it is disrespectful not to move to a different part of the ground. Most people understand this and are prepared to adhere to this reasonable request – even if sometimes they need a reminder.
Anyone, however, who thinks a Clapton game is nothing more than the backdrop to their pre-wedding bout of male bonding needs to take a long, hard look at themselves. There are pubs and bars all over London where members of a stag party can drink themselves into the nearest A&E and still watch some football, with players on a giant screen TV that some of the non-fans might actually recognise. So why come to Forest Gate? Just for the singing and the prospect of smoke flares?
Think about the staggering levels of contempt and discourtesy required to treat football fans as little more than some kind of vaudeville cabaret act. Then try imagining how you look to others, as you wave around a bottle of bubbly, ignore the game and take photos of the Ultras, despite having been specifically asked not to do so?
If you are planning a stag weekend and think the Clapton Ultras can provide you with a little “east London colour”, ask yourself this: how much fun can you really have surrounded by people who will inevitably look on you with nothing but absolute contempt? Is an almost sociopathic lack of empathy towards people who attend Clapton games week on week genuine, or would it make you feel more than just a little ashamed?
If you suspect there is at least an ounce of decency inside you, then consider finding a sports bar and work on forgetting large chunks of your weekend there instead. If, however, you love watching football and want to watch it in the company of left-wing anti-racist, anti-fascist men and women, then you are always very welcome.
Just remember, mind: we only win when we’re singing.