Well, it was good to get the game on last night and the boys responded with an excellent victory over Hullbridge who are very capable opponents. Having fallen behind early on, I felt our equalising goal, just before half time, was the turning point and thereafter I didn't think we were going to lose. As it was, Andy Mott's effort popped over the visitors goal line prompting celebrations in the scaffold, and the world was a better place once more.
However, this game was remarkable on a number of fronts. The match had not been publicised by Vince McBean's website, his twitter or in the local press and I only heard of it through the www.claptonfc.info site and subsequent tweets. It's hard to imagine that Vince would prefer the team to play in front of empty terraces once more (and I've been there) as he is taking a very good 'tap' from the gate receipts. Perhaps the real reason is that he does not have the numbers, or back up, to actually run a senior football club at this level?
He has spoken before of teams of volunteers but I see no evidence of this. He is very much a one-man band and I have come to the conclusion that the whole 'club' thing that he has has put forward in his statement are something of a sham.
Miss Doyle, the secretary is never seen at matches. There is no treasurer and it will be interesting to see if Mr Syfox, the commercial manager (and promoter of various live music events at the club house), retains his interest since the opening hours for the club house were cut by Newham Council the other week following a review of the licence that were prompted by various misdemeanours.
So, is this therefore not a good time for the situation regarding the Clapton FC to be resolved in the interests of the club? To do so will require give and take on both parts.
Perhaps those who are trying to return the club to a members entity should consider offering Vince help with running it? They have shown, that by welcoming people to the ground and making them feel part of the event, Clapton FC has a future, even at this level of football. They have also been successful in spreading the word by selling scarves and mementos etc. and are now organising travel to away matches. These are positives, to which Vince has contributed nothing. However, he should not ignore them and, in fact, should embrace them.
What do they want? Well, according to correspondence I have seen, it was to join the club. This was in January 2013 and they were told by the chairman that 'membership was suspended for re-structuring'. One assumes that this re-structuring period must be over by now. So why can't Vince contact them and say “Join the club”.
The reason, I fear, is that matters have significantly progressed since that initial application to join and this is where both 'sides' must consider their position in the interests of our famous old club.
The first step is for the parties to liaise.
In order to progress issue it requires both parties to be absolutely open and frank about the situation. I am a person who would wish to join a members club and it is not unreasonable for me to want to know the structure of the club, the rules and any debts for which I might be liable as a member. Thus it would require Vince to be open and honest as to the true situation at his Clapton FC as, at the moment, it is as opaque as the shard of perspex that was kicked out of the dugout wall by the subbed Hullbridge player last night.
This might prove difficult as the other 'club' have been pro-active in uncovering, and continuing to uncover, various side issues (limited companies, side rents, county court judgements etc.), all of which are an understandable concern. However, if they were to be told the truth by Vince as to the situation, would it be possible for them to put these matters aside in helping to establish a real club club in which we can all pull together?
So, in order for this resolution to come about, both sides will have to act both equitably and professionally. I have no doubt, in order for it to have any real meaning or gravitas, that both sides will need legal advisors to come up with a solid foundation upon which a club can be re-built.
The stand off is not helping the club that I love and I recognise that some could argue that were it not for Vince 'holding the baby', any organisation known as Clapton FC might not exist today. Equally, I am not foolish enough to think that his tenure at the club has been solely philanthropic.
So, come on Mr McBean and the committee of Clapton FC ('the real club'), you have an opportunity of putting Clapton Football Club on its best footing since the signing of the lease on the ground in the early 1990s.
With the incredible support and interest that has been generated over the past two seasons, the opportunity for Clapton is without comparison at our level of football.
In the spirit of the season, goodwill, forgiveness and a fresh start, let's make 2015 a year when Clapton FC, with a clean slate, can move forward as a real club and to which everyone can be a part.