Thursday, 17 February 2011


6 February 2010
Clapton 0  Enfield 1893 5
Essex Senior League
Attendance: approx. 30
View all photographs (71)

Founder members of the Southern League in 1894 along with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur; and then the Isthmian League in 1905, Clapton enjoyed their fair share of success after moving to their new home in 1888 after previously playing on Hackney Marshes and Elms Lane. The new ground was just behind the now boarded-up public house from which it took its name. Clapton were FA Amateur Cup finalists on six occasions, lifting the trophy on five. Even before joining the Southern League, crowds in excess of 3,000 would converge on the ground for friendly matches.

Looking around at The Old Spotted Dog Ground as kick-off approached it was hard to imagine 12,000 converging on the ground for a fixture against Spurs in November 1898, when temporary stands were erected to accommodate the spectators.

Walking from Forest Gate station, past the plethora of shops and restaurants that now cater for a large Muslim population it is not difficult to understand why Clapton are struggling for support, notwithstanding poor performances on the pitch. With West Ham United only ten minutes down the road, it will always be an uphill struggle to build a fanbase from a local demographic that is no longer football-oriented, with those who do show an interest more likely to be attracted to nearby Sporting Bengal or London APSA.

Now struggling near the foot of the Essex Senior League, having lost their continuous membership after finishing bottom of the Isthmian League in 2006, Clapton faced another club with an illustrious non-League pedigree, also fallen on hard times albeit for different reasons. Clapton may be struggling but at least they still have a ground they can call their own; the controversial sale of Enfield’s Southbury Road home in 1999 was the beginning of the end for Enfield FC.

In 2007 the club was disbanded and reformed after a losing a legal battle to remove the former owner’s debts. The new name of Enfield 1893 incorporated the year of the original club’s foundation, and distinguished it as the ‘real’ Enfield club, not Enfield Town FC, founded by disillusioned supporters as a ‘Fans’ Club’ six years earlier having seen the writing on the wall.

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