After I learned, via a telephone call from a friend, that Clapton’s match against Hullbridge Sports was postponed, I was condemned, by Mrs Listz, to watch the Wales v Fiji match. Although English by birth, she likes lava bread and since our holiday in Tenby in 1975, has favoured the the red shirted dragons when it comes to egg chasing.
So, with my own penchant for Fiji, which I choose not to discuss, not a lot was said as the two teams conjured up a pretty mediocre spectacle.
However, I could not help thinking about how Clapton's game at the Dog against Hullbridge Sports was called off despite the water lying on the pitch, and the fact that no further rain was forecast for the day. A photo had been posted on Twitter by one of the Ultras and, as has always been the case at the ground, there was a larger puddle at the pub end, which is always the most likely to carry rain water.
In years gone by when faced with patches of water, the club would mobilise members and supporters to fork away the water lying on top of the ground before the referee arrived for the pitch inspection and, even when he arrives, assure him that the work party will carry on to do their best for the game to go ahead.
I am aware that, even as recently as last season when faced with similar problems, the team management arranged for a group of Ultras to work on the pitch and they succeeded getting the go-ahead for the match to played.
So there are three issues
- Did the club want the game to go ahead?
I have little doubt that the club (Vince) would normally have wanted the game to go ahead. A good crowd could have been expected to attend and there would have been substantial gate monies, not to mention other sales etc. However, there is talk on social media that Clapton did not want the game to go ahead because of injuries to players. With respect, I don't buy this. This game was not a top of the table clash, the League title is pretty much rapped up and if we are are unable to field a team, then there are serious questions to be asked of the team management as we have a reserve team who were not playing that afternoon.
- Why was no work party organised?
I have no doubt that had the club made any kind of appeal for help in clearing the water on the pitch then the supporters would have responded. This happened last season and the game went ahead. The problem this season is that the club (Vince and the team manager) have adopted a siege mentality where nothing is forthcoming from the club to the supporters. Basically, because there is no club membership Vince and the manager are on their own. There is not even a committee, save for Vince's family and 'business buddies' who, like Vince, live in South London.
- Is there an underlying motive?
I am sure that Vince would love to see the end of the supporters as his activities, past and present, are now well under the microscope. But Clapton matches are now being attended by many knowledgeable football supporters who may not all come from the local area and they have to travel. By cancelling a game it might discourage them from coming again and joining the real Clapton FC fold, so its possible.
But what was not only disappointing, and unacceptable, was that neither the 'official' club website or twitter or that of the team manager announced the postponement to the supporters. This shows a total disrespect for those who come along and pay their money to support the team. It was a member of the team, merely expressing his disappointment at the postponement, that alerted the supporters that the match was off. Fortunately, from there the information mushroomed and, hopefully, not too many people made a wasted journey. Incidentally, the 'official' club website and twitter feed has been dead since the departure of Kevin Lucas and Stuart Purcell at the beginning of October.
I should not be surprised about Vince, but am disappointed by Mike Walther in not considering the supporters. I keep seeing him as the guy who wants to be part of the Ultra's post match celebrations, but looks like a bloke standing in the corner of a 'disco' waiting to be asked to dance.
With games at Barking, Waltham Forest, and Tower Hamlets all going ahead, one has to question the effectiveness of the 'apparent' installation of a new drainage system at the Old Spotted Dog that Vince referred to in his letter to the Newham Recorder in April 2013. Can I suggest that he recalls the contractors because it obviously does not work.
It can be argued that the ground is being over played by the ground shares etc. Well, Haringey Borough also ground share and their game went ahead, but then again, I know for a fact that they installed a drainage system
So, the rugby was poor (but at least I escaped a shopping trip). The Welsh won, but the most interesting 'leaks/leeks' that came out today were not those at the Millennium Stadium.
More and more information on the situation and goings on at Clapton FC are forthcoming from the unlikeliest of sources. It's a job keeping up with it all and probably time Inspector Knacker took an interest.