Friday, 26 December 2014

Right or Wrong

Christmas Day is over and I am now looking forward to a quiet Boxing Day with Mrs Listz, (the grandchildren having returned to deepest Essex) and to look forward to Saturday’s game at the Old Spotted Dog against Takeley.

The holiday period has given me a bit of time for reflection on last Saturday’s events and I will not make specific comments, particularly as there are unresolved legal issues.  However, I do not think I should let it pass without some referral or the odd suggestion.

The game itself was a great spectacle.  No matter what slant you choose to put on this result, from a Clapton point of view, it was excellent.

The events off the field  were clearly predictable given and what I have seen on the internet, the group who turned up to disrupt proceedings were organised and arrived with no intention of watching a game of football. It so happened that their intent to cause trouble it was met by substantial resistance.  The conclusion I draw is, that had they not come to cause trouble, there would not have been any.

It is possible that the threats made to Clapton supporters over the internet may well have meant that others, who are not members of Clapton or indeed regular supporters, decided to come to the game to resist the threats. Vince McBean and the chairman of Southend Manor FC were aware of the internet threats, as were the local Police.

Admittedly, it is a difficult situation to manage but amazingly, despite their being on notice, there was no Police presence at the game before the outbreak of trouble.  I consider this to have been a mistake and, had it not been for the resistance that the trouble makers encountered, it was probable that a number of women and young supporters, who were with the Clapton contingent, may have been assaulted.

Thankfully, the supporters’ coach, that left with full occupancy from Forest Gate, returned later that evening with a full compliment, all unscathed and unsullied by the events.

The subsequent reporting of the incident in the Southend Echo was quite shocking, not only as to inaccuracies of  the incidents themselves, but also on basic information relating to the game itself.  The reporter(s) were clearly nowhere near the ground at any stage during the afternoon and certainly have no concept of what Clapton FC are, describing Clapton Ultras themselves as a ‘football club’.  The ‘local protesters’ they refer to are the group who, I am told, are co-ordinated from Bolton and the attendees on the day were from as far afield as Huddersfield, including some apparently well known leaders and activists of their particular political bent.

The Southend Echo reporters were Paul Nizinskyj and Luke Lambert. Poor show gentlemen.

I have seen no response or comment from Southend Manor FC but Vince McBean, has published a statement, (albeit in his ‘Mayor of Trumpton’ style) which condemns the incident.  Fair enough, but his condemnation is unclear as to whether he apportions the blame with the attackers or Clapton supporters.  Clearly he wasn’t there either as he was ringing the hypothetical cash till at the Old Spotted Dog during the Newham FC match.

It is difficult to know what to suggest here. There have been no incidents involving the Clapton Ultras that I can recall which involves anything but a group of people enjoying themselves as a football match.  Not everyone agrees with some of their political views or songs but so what?  Is it not the case that normal, balanced, individuals are able to ignore or reason with any view that is contrary to their own?

"We're not talking about Right or Left, we're talking about Right or Wrong".

Certainly further liaison with the Police is inevitable.

A further suggestion might be that all clubs must be represented at Essex Senior League matches by a responsible official so that an accurate assessment might be made by them. It is quite remarkable the number of games when the players and team management of clubs arrive at the Dog without anyone who is actually responsible for the club.

A ‘responsible official’ would depend on the constitution of the club.  It should be a director, owner or committee member.  Players and team management who are not directors, owners or committee members are not responsible officials for the mere fact that is a fine is levied against a club, they are not liable for its payment or recovery.

Its certainly a suggestion, and would take the Essex Senior League forward towards what is acceptable protocol in the Ryman League which, clubs are our level are supposed to aspire to.

I am now off to have a Boxing Day breakfast now and to place a bet on West Ham (9/1 at Chelsea).  Happy holidays everyone.

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