One year after forming, Clapton CFC win promotion and people’s hearts, writes Alastair Ball
When the third goal went in, the sound of Clapton CFC fans chanting “that’s the way, a-ha a-ha, we like it” filled The Stray Dog.
Clapton CFC were now winning 3-0 against FC Roast, which meant they were going to win the Middlesex County First Division (East and Central).
Midfielder Josh Adejokun, who scored a hat-trick during the match, said he was “literally speechless”. Clapton CFC’s own blog said the match was “exactly the professional performance needed to seal this momentous achievement”.
Winning the league, and the Jim Rogers President’s Cup, is a huge achievement for a club that was formed less than a year ago. While Clapton Football Club dates back to the 1870s, Clapton Community Football Club was created in June 2018 following a dispute with the former’s chief executive. The new club is a co-operative with “each member having an equal vote in the direction fan-owned Clapton CFC will take”.
The club plays home games on The Stray Dog pitch at Wadham Lodge Sports Ground in Kitchener Road, Walthamstow, and has caught the attention of football fans and local people. Attendances have started to grow, with 1,266 attending the league finale. At every match, large numbers of fans turn up to sing, wave flags and chant in support of the ‘Mighty Tons’. It is a diverse community of fans, where old ‘Eastenders’ rub shoulders with young, trendy arrivals to the area. Arsenal, Spurs, Leyton Orient and West Ham fans all get along well.
Midfielder Phil Blakesley said: “It’s just been amazing to be part of. The fans thank us, but we want to thank the fans as well because we both need each other – they make it so special for us.”
Clapton CFC’s fans’ passion for the club is matched by the club’s commitment to inclusivity. As well as co-operative ownership, Clapton CFC has a strong anti-fascist ethos and opposes racism, sexism and homophobia. At each match, the side of The Stay Dog is adorned with rainbow and anti-fascist flags and there are food donations for local foodbank Eat or Heat.
Foward Charlie Fagan said: “This club is sending such a positive message to the world about what football can do about inclusivity.”
The club’s away shirt uses the colours of the flag of the second Spanish Republic and the three-pointed star of the International Brigades who travelled to Spain to fight fascism in the 1930s. It bears the anti-fascist slogan “No Pasaran”, meaning “they shall not pass”. This shirt, designed by a member and selected via a vote of members from several designs, went viral and led to an explosion of more than 12,000 orders, mostly from Spain.
Next season Clapton CFC will be playing in the Middlesex County League Premier Division. Josh said: “We’ll continue to put our heart and soul into those games.”