Clapton F.C.

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Clapton FC.svg
Full name Clapton Football Club
Nickname(s) The Tons
Founded 1878
Ground The Old Spotted Dog Ground, London
Ground Capacity 2,000 (100 seated)[1]
Chairman John Murray-Smith
Manager Jon Fowell
League Essex Senior League
2016–17 Essex Senior League, 2nd of 22
Website Club website

Clapton Football Club is a football club based in Forest Gate, East London. The club are currently members of the Essex Senior League and play at The Old Spotted Dog Ground.


Established in 1878 as Downs Football Club and initially based at Hackney Downs in Lower Clapton, the club initially played in dark blue shirts and white shorts, with a distinctive white Maltese cross on the left breast.[2] The following year the club adopted its current name.[2] Clapton began competing in the FA Cup in 1888–89,[3] and in 1890 became the first club from Great Britain to play in continental Europe, defeating a Belgian XI in Antwerp.[2] They returned to Belgium three years later, recording another emphatic victory as they beat Antwerp 7–0.[4]

In 1894 Clapton became founder members of the Southern League, alongside Luton Town, Millwall and Reading,[1] and were placed in Division One. Finishing eighth in a nine-club league they were forced to play a test match to avoid relegation, defeating Sheppey United 5–1. The following season saw them finish eighth again, but despite winning the test match against the 1st Scots Guards, the club left the league at the end of the season as several of the other clubs turned professional.[2] In 1904–05 the club reached the final of the FA Amateur Cup for the first time, losing 3–2 to West Hartlepool. In 1905 they became founder members of the Isthmian League, finishing as runners-up in its inaugural season. The following season saw the club win their first Amateur Cup, defeating Stockton 2–1. In 1908–09, they won the Amateur Cup again, thrashing Eston United 6–0 in the final. The 1910–11 season saw them win their first Isthmian League title, and in 1914–15 the club won a third Amateur Cup with a 1–0 victory over Bishop Auckland in the final.[3]

In 1922–23 Clapton won another Isthmian League title. The following season saw them win their fourth Amateur Cup, defeating Erith & Belvedere 3–0 in the final. They went on to retain their title as Amateur Cup holders the following season, beating Southall FC 2–1 at the Old Den. In the same season, three Clapton players were selected for the England national team.[5] In 1925–26 the club reached the third round of the FA Cup after wins against Norwich City and Ilford in the first and second round. They were eventually knocked out, losing 3–2 at 'home' to Swindon Town, a match that was played at West Ham's Boleyn Ground due to the large expected crowd. The club would go on to reach the first round of the FA Cup again in 1926–27, 1927–28 and 1957–58, losing to Brentford, Luton Town and QPR respectively.[3]

In 1975–76 Clapton finished bottom of Division One of the Isthmian League, dropping down to Division Two, which was renamed Division One in 1977. At the end of the 1981–82 season they were relegated to Division Two, but bounced back at the first time of asking as champions. The club won the Essex Senior Cup for a third time in 1984, but were relegated again at the end of the 1984–85 season, dropping into Division Two North. In 1991 the club was placed in Division Three after league reorganisation, which later became Division Two due to further reorganisation. In 2005–06 Clapton finished in bottom of the league for the second consecutive season,[3] and subsequently joined the Essex Senior League after Division Two was disbanded. In 2015–16 the club won the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy, beating Stansted 4–0 in the final.[6]


The club initially played at Hackney Downs, before moving to a pitch at Millfields, adjacent to nearby Lea Bridge Road in Leyton in 1880. They later played at Elm Farm and then Pilgrims Field, before moving to the sports grounds at the Old Spotted Dog in Forest Gate in 1888, after it had been vacated by St Bartholomew's Hospital. The first game at the Old Spotted Dog on 29 September 1888 resulted in a 1–0 victory over Old Carthusians.[7]


Clapton's support includes the "Clapton Ultras". Started in 2012, the group follows the European ultras tradition and has developed around local fans disengaged with modern professional football, migrants to East London and those with an opposition to discrimination and far-right politics within football.[8][9]


  • Isthmian League
    • Champions 1910–11, 1922–23
    • Division Two champions 1982–83
  • Essex Senior League
    • Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy winners 2016
  • FA Amateur Cup
    • Winners 1906–07, 1908–09, 1914–15, 1923–24, 1924–25
  • London Senior Cup
    • Winners 1888–89, 1908–09, 1910–11
  • Essex Senior Cup
    • Winners 1890–91, 1924–25, 1925–26, 1954–55, 1983–84
  • Middlesex Senior Cup
    • Winners 1888–89
  • Essex Senior Trophy
    • Winners 1988–89
  • Essex Thames Side Trophy
    • Winners 1982–83, 1983–84
  • AFA Invitational Cup
    • Winners 1965–66, 1970–71
  • London Charity Cup
    • Winners 1898–99, 1899–1900, 1901–02, 1902–03, 1923–24
  • West Ham Charity Cup
    • Winners 1889–90, 1902–03, 1903–04, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1924–25
  • London Junior Cup
    • Winners 1887–88, 1892–93, 1907–08
  • London County Amateur Cup
    • Winners 1908–09


  • Best FA Cup performance: Third round, 1925–26
  • Best FA Trophy performance: Second qualifying round, 1980–81, 1983–84
  • Best FA Vase performance: Second round, 1989–90, 1992–93, 2003–04
  • Record attendance: 12,000 vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup, 1898–99[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Mike Williams & Tony Williams (2012) Non-League Club Directory 2013, p658 ISBN 978-1-869833-77-0
  2. ^ a b c d Back in Time Clapton F.C.
  3. ^ a b c d Clapton at the Football Club History Database
  4. ^ Forget Chelsea – England’s first club in Europe plots bumper crowd Metro, 22 April 2013
  5. ^ Club Affiliations – Clapton England Football Online
  6. ^ ‘A great day for Clapton FC and non-league football’ Newham Recorder, 2 May 2016
  7. ^ A concise history Clapton F.C.
  8. ^ Here’s why the Clapton Ultras have more fun than Arsenal fans Dalstonist
  9. ^ Football revolution as disillusioned fans head for the non-league The Independent, 24 October 2014

External links

  • Club website
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