Essex Senior League
Clapton FC 4 v Ilford 0
Old Spotted Dog Ground
212 Upton Lane
Attendance : 97
Admission : £6
Programme : £1
Tea : £1
Game No 48 Ground Number : 38
Weather : Mild
Founded by W.R Davies, at a meeting in his father’s house at 11 Queensdown Road, Clapton E5,August of 1877, Downs FC started playing on Hackney Downs. Three years later in 1880, and with a name change to Clapton Football Club, they moved the short distance to North Mill Field, Leyton. Later that year they were offered their first private enclosure at Elm Farm with a rental of £10 per year.
It was the founding of the London FA that introduced Clapton FC to the Old Spotted Dog, They played an LFA Cup match against City Albion who had a pitch in the field just north of the Dog. The tenants of the Dog were St Bartholemews Hospital who were about to vacate, so Clapton obtained a lease from the owner, Mrs Vause. It was a bold step, the rent was £35 a year, whilst the club’s annual income amounted to £40.
The opening game at the Dog took place on the 29th September 1888 and the Clapton team beat a team from Old Carthusians by a goal to nil. The scorer was J.S. Sellars. The ground was a roped enclosure and the players changed in a barn in Upton Lane. Many games drew crowds of 4,000 or more, and several notable players were recruited from those watching when numbers were short.
The brewers, Watneys took over the freehold of the ground and during the second world war the Dog became an anti-aircraft station. During these five years, Clapton played at Newbury Park, the home of Ilford FC. A crowd of 12,000 watched Clapton play Spurs in a cup tie in 1898 which resulted in a 1-1 draw. In more ‘recent’ times, a crowd of 2,000 witnessed an FA Amateur Cup match against Barnet in 1964.
In 1992, the Clapton Trust managed to negotiate and finally secure, in 1995, a 99 year lease on the ground. This achievement should have secured the club’s future at the Old Spotted Dog, however, recent events and mismanagement have placed this security in jeopardy.
An aerial view of the Old Spotted Dog ground, courtesy of Flysouth Airways. You can see how "overgrown" the ground is - according to local sources - it has been a lot worse than this.
Let's take the Flysouth Tour (Part 1) of London's oldest Football Club.
Here is one of the "Old Spotted Dog" - originally part of the grounds of the Old Spotted Dog Hunting Lodge owned by Henry VIII. The lodge became a pub, the surrounding land later became a sports ground and was used for county cricket matches, and the rest is history as they say.
A sign of things too come. The ground is adjacent to a Tyre Fitting/Car Repair/Scrapyard business, to good to be true for the modern day urban decay enthusiast.
Turn the corner into the ground and one is greeted with more tyres. The Red "Tardis" box in the distance is the ticket office.
Have you ever seen terracing like this before?
If the game is a bore, you can also have a kick about of your own with this goal. No nets I'm afraid, so you may never return from the jungle behind the goal.
Another busy night at the bar
In the clubhouse there is some information relating to Walter Daniel John Tull (born 28 April 1888)
Walter was an English professional footballer who played as an inside forward for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town. He was the second person of Afro-Caribbean/mixed heritage to play in the top division of the Football League, and the first Afro-Caribbean/mixed heritage outfield player in the top division of English football, and the first to be commissioned as an officer in the British Army. His professional football career began after he was spotted playing for his local amateur club, Clapton FC. He began playing for Clapton FC in 1908 and within a few months he had won winners' medals in the FA Amateur Cup, London County Amateur Cup and London Senior Cup.
Walter was brought up in a National Children's Home orphanage in Bethnal Green, London, along with his brother, following the death of their parents. He joined Tottenham in 1909, and transferred to Northampton Town in 1911, where he made 111 first-team appearances.
During the First World War, he served in the Footballers' Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, and fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 30 May 1917. Walter fought in Italy in 1917–18, and was Mentioned in Despatches for "gallantry and coolness" while leading his company of 26 men on a raiding party into enemy territory. He returned to France in 1918, and was killed in action on 25 March during the Spring Offensive; his body was never recovered.
Come out of the club house, and we come across this rather attractive building. In keeping with the rest of the ground the building is derelict. However, a peek through the windows revealed some old programmes scattered on the floor (what a waste), this might have been the club shop at some stage?
Next , we have the main stand. I'm told that in days gone by the terrace ran the length of the ground and crowds of 40,000 were not uncommon for matches against the likes of Ilford during the 1930's.
This picture is self explanatory - what a great piece of urban decay - has it all - Pasting Board for Wallpapering (Does anybody do that anymore? I blame Laurence Llewelyn - Bowen for the demise of FADS and other similar High St. outlets), wheel barrow, BBQ and last but not least our old favourite the plastic traffic cone.
Are sitting comfortable for Part 2 of The Flysouth Tour?
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 readers, well I certainly did - so much so, I returned on the 16th October for an FA Vase game against Barking FC to obtain some daylight pictures for you. For those of you who are interested, Barking won the tie by the odd goal and the attendance was 119. It was a close game, Clapton had their chances and the Ultras were in full flow as you will see later. I've got some great pictures, so without further ado it's all aboard for the Flysouth experience - enjoy!
Remember the scrap yard from part 1 ? Can you spot the "Old Spotted Dog" amongst this little lot?
There is a growing movement to bring the good times back to the Old Spotted Dog - and this includes "off the pitch" activities as well as on. The group are affectionately known as the "Friends of Clapton", and they produce an Online programme which is rather good - if you would like to know more simply check out there website - Friends of Clapton. The group has managed to increase the clubs average attendance from around thirty to ninety this season - which is no mean feat at this level.
Some match day pictures of the group are shown below.
Here are some of the group in their affectionately named Scaffold stand.
You can see why it is called the Scaffold Stand ????
Looks like a good time was had by all!
Great flag - shame about the "Hammers" mind.
I never knew Chrissie Drummer was a Clapton fan?
When was the last time you saw quality urban decay like this readers ?? Tranmere perhaps?
Hands up who remembers the five side goal in part 1? Looks like some one has "smashed the cross bar" - unlikely to be a Spurs forward or even the local hero known as Andy Carroll come to that.
Luxury flats in the corner of this picture - see the large white building.
Expect the sponsors are pleased with this one?
Goal mouth tussle.
Definitely a case of letting the grass grow under your feet.
I don't think these Barking fans are letting the grass grow under their feet, however they must be barking mad to stand there.....who knows what lurks behind them in the undergrowth.
I think I've found David Moyes long lost love child at Clapton or is it Rooneys?
One of our old favourites makes a return - the bus shelter
The main stand busking in the Autumn sunshine.
Some day light pictures of the Old Spotted Dog PH.
Our tour began with urban decay, so its only fitting it ends with some urban decay as well. Found in the car park of those "Luxury Flats" a fine example of high rise living gone wrong me thinks.