Boycott Update – September 2017
We can’t lie, the night at Mile End Stadium was a big breath of fresh air for all of us: a crowd of nearly 500, cheering the team on, is who we are. Even a 0-0 draw with Tower Hamlets was a thrill when you’ve been watching football from a back alley.
It’s difficult to be outside of our home, we miss the Scaffold and the atmosphere, we want to show more support for the players, but we’re determined, and know we are on the right side of the fence.
The security of the 129-year-old Old Spotted Dog is more important than our enjoyment of football for 90 minutes. Which is why we’ve been backing Real Clapton’s boycott of home games this season while they battle to stop the club liquidating the ground in the High Court.
Thankfully, the nightmare run of home games are now over, and now we’ve a number of away games (including the FA Vase) to remind ourselves what we do best. It’s been draining, but we’ll all feel so much better in a month’s time.
Since our last blog post many things have happened and we want to update you as much as we can with what’s going on.
Health and Safety
On 13th August, Clapton Ultras tweeted a picture of the state of the ground, showing a variety of safety hazards and areas of disarray.
— Scaffold Brigada (@ClaptonUltras) August 13, 2017
The club officials promptly replied that they cared about the safety of the fans and covered the piles of rubble, which have been there for years and could probably get a listed status, with some tarpaulin sheets.
— Official Clapton FC (@ClaptonFootball) August 15, 2017
The rubble is still there incidentally and we can only speculate as to whether the area around the back of the Scaffold is still being used as a toilet graveyard.
The following day we discovered from our sources that the first team training at the Old Spotted Dog had been cancelled ‘due to the health and safety concerns that fans had raised’. However, it actually transpired the youth team were playing a friendly game on the pitch that very same night.
Why were the players lied to about this? Why did they make excuses for cancelling the training session? Was it part of a strategy to pit the team against their fans?
Clapton FC online activity
For months and months, the club’s @claptonfootball Twitter account has been largely inactive. However, it’s sprung into occasional life recently, including going on a mass unfollowing spree of every Clapton fan they recognised. There are a few of us who have escaped the cull, however.
Meanwhile on its website, the club has made lengthy attempts to respond and abate fan fears about the current situation in a section called Tons Make Clear. Sounds admirable but among the thousands of words used, one is curiously absent: ‘Liquidation’.
The current sorry situation at Clapton was sparked when Mr McBean put the charity which holds the lease, Newham Community Leisure Limited, into voluntary liquidation. Coincidentally, it was being investigated by the Charity Commission at the time. If you have been following the boycott you’ll know that this has thankfully been stayed through the quick (and costly) actions of Real Clapton. It’s curious that none of this appeared worthy of inclusion on the club website.
Another Clapton FC website article threatened to ask for closed-doors games and to ban fans even for “singing [derogatory] songs, or making unacceptable comments on the internet”. This is an astonishing gagging order. However, it’s futile. You can try to ban dissent but you will not sweep fans’ very real concerns under the tarpaulin.
As you probably know, we keep supporting the team during our home games by standing outside the ground along the alley behind one of the goals. We want to thank all the people who have decided to stand with us and who keep doing it. It’s great to see you supporting us and Real Clapton and it means a lot to us. The players – although wishing we were inside a bouncing Scaffold – see to appreciate the support we offer from there too.
It’s not been without its events, on Saturday 2nd September we were surprised when four full police vans and 2 squad cars turned up at the end of the alley. We overheard that someone from Clapton FC called the police to report “hooligans” trying to break into the ground and starting fights with opposing fans. Is this another misplaced strategy to scare us? If so, it didn’t work, as the police convoy soon saw our only ‘crime’ was to watch the game and support the team from outside the ground rather than inside.
So what’s next?
We’ve got some interesting plans hatching for the near future which we will reveal soon (follow our social media accounts and this space for more info) and of course continue to support the team at away games in full force.
The Real Clapton campaign continues unabated. It’s not for us to say what’s happening on the legal action, so for the latest updates – and there are some very promising developments – please visit www.claptonfc.info and become a member.
For up-to-date news of what’s happenings on the pitch, give Clapton FC News a visit.
In the meantime we’re more determined to keep fighting to save Clapton’s FC history and create a better future. A community focussed club, open to members and transparent.