Not so long ago Clapton and Bowers and Pitsea were propping up the Essex Senior League and only a victory, in our final game of the season at the McMillan against Newham, finally condemned the Essex club to the basement spot in 2013/14.
Eighteen months later, and things have changed for both clubs. Last season, with a much-changed squad, Bowers were very much in contention for the league title and won the League Cup Final in fine style against the Tons at Great Wakering.. At the same time, the Clapton revival continues to roll on, supported by unprecedented regular attendances for the Essex Senior League and they have lost only one of 12 league matches so far this season.
So, last Saturday's game promised to be a titanic match with the Tons undoubtedly looking to avenge their drubbing in the aforesaid League Cup final and Bowers hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Unfortunately, it came as no surprise when the game was called off on Saturday morning. Bowers had already tweeted about apparent pitch problems and there had been some rain. But being an club with ambitions of Isthmian League football, it would not be unrealistic to have expected a 'brigade of fork wielding Bowers volunteers' to get the game on. It must have worked three miles away at Basildon United, their game went ahead.
So, call me cynical, but, hypothetically, if the choice was:
- To have my side, promotion favourites, full of good footballers, play an important match against a decent, in-form team who could possibly challenge for the title - on a pitch that was slippery and forked so as to be made just about playable.
Meanwhile, our opponents are backed by supporters who would create an atmosphere akin to an away match for us.or
- have the match played on a Tuesday night later in the season when the visiting support will be considerably less and and visiting players may be unable to travel or the team form may have levelled out.
I know which I would opt for. I would keep the forks in the work shed.
I am not saying that this is the case. However, what is clear, is that Bowers and Pitsea are far from being the Cinderellas of the League. They are competing, seriously, and like any professional club, despite their protestations over their low playing budgets etc, their recruitment of decent Isthmian League players (Dan Trenkel, Rob Whitnell, Lewis Manor, John Bricknell and most recently Aaron Waters etc) is certainly indication of their intention to bring Isthmian League football to the Len Salmon before too long.
If they achieve their objective, which would be an outstanding achievement, then they may need to continue a practice in such alchemy to keep them up there.
How would I know? Clapton were an Isthmian League club for many, many years.