What a night. What a ten minutes.
Clapton’s fine season continued last night with a classic Tuesday night at the Dog. It not only left many fans with headaches this morning but also left us in absolute awe at the quality and fight showed by the Tons against a good Hullbridge side, who came into the game with an almost identical league record to ours fresh off the back of a great away victory at Sawbo Town.
It was a nice evening to boot in East London, reflected in a great crowd, as usual for us still swelling mid way through the first half. Both teams looked decent in the first half, Billy did some runs, Tommy and Ducky got stuck in, Borcha unfortunately went off injured and Pepe was in one of those moods where he just makes you wonder, if there does have to be a monarchy – why isn’t he actually our King? Jamie Lindon got a new song and someone got Google Maps out to find out where the fuck Hullbridge actually is. Hullbridge demonstrated some good football too, carving out a couple of openings but failing to beat the afformentioned King Peps.
Half time, 0-0, and time to reflect on how the groundsman nearly got the halfway line straight this week. Good work!
Clapton have developed a reputation for a few things this year but one of them is definitely not dramatic comebacks so when we went 1-0 down around the hour mark it was a little unsettling. Hullbridge scorer Liam Nash seemed to enjoy his celebration, going for the as ever original ‘run over to the scaffold cupping your ear with your hand routine’. We’ve seen this one a few times this year, from players it may be safe to assume very grateful not to be playing in front of 3 old geezers, a dog and the cousin they’ve forced to come along in exchange for a pint later. He actually got off lightly though, perhaps his goal not great enough or beard shit enough to warrant a song from the Ultras.
Pepe was still making pissed up adults go weak at the knees, on one occasion diving full length to his left to palm one past the post which was heading straight for a nestling in the bottom corner. Although on reflection that probably came in the first half. I’m confusing halves and cans of Tyskie again.
Clapton were definitely fighting to get back in it though, cheered on by what surely must be this season’s record crowd for a Tuesday night home game. After an almighty bundle around 75 minutes the ball ended up in the net thanks to someone who plays for Clapton. Some sources claim it was the reliable Ike Nzurba who has fit in so well to the team since his arrival and others are claiming big Josh Coulson got the final touch, but given the confusion that was occurring at that moment in time it’s possible they both scored it or no one did, no matter, we’ll leave that one for the dubious goals panel. Whatever happened it sparked manic jumping and beer soaked fans.
The game crept on and Clapton pressed on. I’d be lying if I remembered how but on 83 minutes the Tons got a deserved free kick 20-25 yards out. Up steps James Briggs who has pulled it out the bag at dead balls more than once this year (maybe he should take peno’s). What happened next was fucking nuts. Briggsy strikes the most beautiful free kick you’ve ever seen. One that when replayed alongside sad music would bring a tear to even the most emotionally repressed football fan’s eye. It had left the keeper with no chance and half the Scaffold spilling over each other and the fence to be first in line to kiss him on the face. 2-1 Clapton.
A tense last few minutes were on the cards… Would we hold on after all that drama? We just had to. The Scaffold was rocking as the ball found it’s way through to resident part-time goal machine, Tommy Jeffes, and he bustled his way forward with the ball.The jury’s out on whether he was fouled or whether there was a handball somewhere in the mix but what is certain is that in the end the ball was slipped past the on rushing keeper and it went over the line. In the words of Alan Partridge ‘that….was a goal’.
Beer got spilled, hats fell off, trainers and phones went missing, voices were lost and lots of people were very out of breath by the time they’d stopped screaming and jumping up and down and settled in for a ‘can-you-believe-it’ cuddle with the person next to them. 3-1. 13 minutes of joy and a brilliant comeback completed. What a cracker!
Hullbridge played their part and we wish them all the best for the rest of the season, especially if they can tire out our next opponents FC Romania on Thursday! Looking forward to playing them again next year.
It leaves Clapton on a high ahead of Saturdays penultimate league game, a tough clash against an in form FC Romania side, boasting an ex-Romania international in their ranks. Importantly it also takes Clapton to the magic 50 points for the season to mark the best tally for a lot of years since 87/88 if the stattos are to be believed-I can’t be bothered to check.