Thursday, 16 July 2015

Down at the Old Spotted Dog

Tuesday 14 July 2015, Clapton 0 Romford 1, Pre-season friendly, The Old Spotted Dog

Clapton have become one of the better known non-league clubs over recent seasons and that is mainly due to their fanatical supporters the ‘ultras’ of the Scaffold Brigada. There non stop singing, banners, use of pyro and for me more importantly their close friendship with their players.

But Clapton also have a long and varied history, FA Amateur cup wins, their ground (the Old Spotted Dog) now the oldest ground in London, they have had numerous famous players including Walter Tull.

So with a great history, a fantastic set of supporters, some young promising players you would think everything would be all rosey in the Clapton garden but nothing could be further from the truth – but what is the truth?

There seems to be a nasty split between those behind the Ultras and Mr McBean the man who runs the club, the ground is in a very poor state and looks almost as depressing as the derelict Spotted Dog pub next door. If you look at the websites run by both sides you will see a background to the current disputes between the rival sides. But I am not sure until you visita game do you see there is more to the story. Just before kick off an Ultra approached Mr McBean informing him that a couple of fans did not have enough money to pay the admission as they thought the cost of getting in would only be £3 as it was a pre-season game, a quick chat and Mr McBean let the fans in at £3. I also saw during the game a number of the Scaffold Brigada have long and amicable conversations with McBean.

I then approached Mr McBean for a chat, not about football but I recognised the name from my time in the army, Vince McBean left the Royal Green Jackets just as I started my 25 year career in the regiment, he was a well known character! We did get onto talking about the football, his hopes for a number of their young players and he was also very complimentary when talking about the supporters, no mention of the disputes between himself and some of their leaders.

I know there is more to it that what I saw, ownership of the ground, charity trusts, finances but I can see hope – imagine how far this club could go if Mr McBean and the supporters could all work together, the ground could be improved, imagine if their purchased their polish beer from the clubhouse rather than the local off-license.

Just needs someone to bang a few heads together and find a way forward – I certainly will be trying to watch Clapton again, and if you get a chance get along to the Old Spotted Dog but go with an open mind!

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