Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ca Plane Pour Moi

Never thought interviewing would be my forte, but last week’s encounter with Woodsy and Neil seemed to be generally well received so I’m at it again. Can’t see it taking off to any great extent but it’s a challenge for me in my old age and hopefully some sort of entertaining read for those who care about the Real Clapton Football Club.

This time it’s a cross-Channel  connection via something my daughter has set up for the purpose called Skype.  Hard to believe for people of my generation but I can actually see Andy in all his glory, blue and white stripe fisherman's style  jumper and rather dodgy pork pie style hat. Relaxing in his conservatory on a brown leather sofa that has seen better days he is the very essence of a man living a relaxed life, beautiful scenic views outside the window and a suitably cooled vintage wine in his hand.

I have gone for a similar set up to last week’s encounter, cheese and onion crisps at the ready and 4 bottles of the larger Tyskie bottles now available, as a subliminal tribute to East London’s finest supporters. So the scene is set and as Secret Affair might say’ This is the time, the time for action’, my daughter presses some sort of play icon, gives me the thumbs up and we’re on air (or at least I think we are).

Lew Hi Andy, how you doing, can you hear me?  (Lew waves still genuinely amazed about the technology)
Andy Not too bad Lew (raising his wine glass as to emphasise the benefits of the good life in France (show off-Ed)
Lew Andy, firstly it’s really good to talk to you.  All joking aside I’d like to thank you for your dogged efforts in putting Clapton back where it should be, how have you kept your motivation to continue the fight ?
Andy Lew you wily old Dog - that’s one of those questions that could have me talking for hours. You had better check you’ve got enough battery life or find an alternative power source right now (nervous laughter from Lew)  I’ll try to keep it as short as possible but as you’ll appreciate it’s a subject close to my heart.  I suppose the bottom line is I’m a Clapton Fan and, for some of us, that’s a  lifelong commitment even if it seems more like a life sentence at times. Supporting the club has given me some great moments over the years. Have you seen the film The Monuments Men?  I watched it recently and think of CFC as Forest Gate’s own little National Treasure and in need of protection.  What I have seen is that there are those who have interests that either conflict with those of Clapton FC and/or they are using the club's name and history for their own ends.  I’m very determined by nature (DOGgedly?- ed) and am resolved to Clapton FC to being a real club, run by the members and putting things on an even keel.  Fortunately, I have met some similarly determined like minded people and hopefully the momentum we have generated will continue to build so that we achieve our objective.
Pause whilst Lew starts fiddling with the plethora of icons, knobs and various switches  in front of him.
Lew Andy, from what I can see on the screen you have a very nice life in France, how does your wife put up with your second love Clapton FC?
I must say my wife has been very supportive.  She knows how strongly I feel about the cause, but one has to draw the line. I would like to see the team more but I do get over whenever possible and try to combine it with other events.  So, contrary to popular belief, my life is much more than Clapton, Clapton, Clapton.
Lew (jokingly) So a divorce isn’t on the cards quite yet then?
Andy No chance.  Priorities and mutual understanding/support goes a long way.  I’m sure people will appreciate the campaign to establish the ‘Real Clapton’ Football Club has taken up a lot of time but, like all things in life, it is important to ensure it does not become all consuming.  I’d like to think I’ve got the balance right and I can only hope Carole agrees (loud laughing from all as Mme Barr enters the room with a large tray laden with a steaming served in a Clapton mug and a delicious looking large doughnut)
Lew-(sarcastically) Oh, and by the way, how’s the diet going Andy ? Any plans to apply for the ‘fan on the field’ competition at this year’s Orient game (laughter all round)
Andy I have lost three grams since July. Anyway, I thought that was your speciality Lew, I read recently that you bottled last year’s game at the last moment, perhaps you can tell me more about that? (mischievous look in his eye)
Lew (slightly grumpily and a bit put out at the roles being reversed).  OK I’ll tell you what happened but I’ve taken a lot of stick already for it from my friends down The Legion. To cut a long story short I was decorating my spare room in Clapton colours and dropped 2 cans of paint on my metatarsal as they fell off the ladder (whoever said ‘these colours don’t run’ are wrong). I was left with a pink carpet and an injury which hampered my preparation for the Orient game. As the big day approached I got more and more worried about playing in front of the Ultras as well as exposing my identity and reputation as the ‘masked man’ of the Old Spotted Dog. I’m not proud of it but whilst the sound of my name being sung to the rafters rather appealed, the giggles and whispers would have lived with me the rest of my life. I decided to lie low and keep my anonymity amongst the crowd, must say all in all I think I made the right decision-it was a great day and will live in the memory for all the right reasons. Anyway Andy this is my show, let’s put you back in the spotlight.  Are you excited about the future for Clapton?.
Andy I think there is every reason to be excited at what has been achieved since the re-emergence of the club in the past two years. The potential that could be realised, when it is run by the members once more, is immense.  However, this isn't the place to go into details (he comically stuffed the remains of said doughnut into mouth) but (slightly muffled by chewing ) we’ve made strides in the right direction and I’m encouraged about the future.  Let's face it, two years ago, before the formation of the Friends of Clapton FC, the team were playing in front of 19 spectators.
Lew Sorry Andy, I didn’t catch all of that, but am I right in summing up that fans like myself have every reason to be optimistic?
Andy Absolutely.  I think that optimism has been there for a while, the ever increasing attendances and the positive press in connection to the Ultras are testimony to that. It’s no secret that the whole issue of future prosperity and security hinges upon the issue of who runs Clapton Football Club and the sky’s the limit once that has been resolved. There has been frustration that the only one person is benefitting from the current crowds and relative success of the team but I’ve said it before and I’ll put it on record again this is only short term gain.  The fans have adopted the mantra of supporting the team not the regime and the issues, no matter how many statements or diatribes are put out, will not go away.
The fans appear to be quite resolute as to how they want the club to be run and, I believe that will happen eventually.  Patience and passive protest are the order of the day at the moment whilst things are developing behind the scenes.
Lew starts yet another chorus of Chris & Neil’s Red and White Army whilst holding aloft his cherished Ultras scarf, much to Andy’s amusement.
Also, it's important that the players keep doing well.  Much of the squad have been with the club since the days of Neil and Woodsy and it is no surprise that they have made a good start.  These players obviously have an affinity to Clapton FC and the supporters.  No matter what the frustrations of the players might be, I can promise them that the frustrations of the fans are greater.  The supporters are sticking by the team and I would like the team to continue to stick by the supporters.
I’ve just been warned by my daughter that my batteries are running low.  I hope she means on the computer not my pacemaker (more laughter both sides of the channel).  I want to finish by thanking you again for your sterling efforts in helping to resurrect the fortunes of this great club, and wishing you every success in the fight to get it back in safe hands and on an even keel.  I’m sure all Real Clapton FC fans will echo those sentiments.
Au revoir mon ami
Andy No problem Lew, and your secret is safe with me.  Bye mate.  See you soon.  Andy types a Skype SMS  "Les murs s'effritent, Nous attendons nos temps"
Lew And, as the great Plastic Bertrand once said, "Ça Plane Pour Moi"

18th September 2014
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