Haringey Borough 5-1 Clapton FC
Saturday 9 August 2014
Essex Senior League
I got off the bus a few stops early so I could walk up past Tottenham’s ground where Spurs were due to play a friendly with German stalwarts Schalke that evening. Despite it being a late kick-off there was already a slow stream of Spurs fans gravitating towards the stadium, lots of dads and lads, which was encouraging to see; next generation of kids in their new replica shirts getting their first taste of that big match atmosphere. They even had a steel band playing alongside the building site hoardings that displayed images of what Tottenham will look like after the new stadium is built (lots of glass, lots of lights, lots of smiling happy people).
By contrast Coles Park, home of Haringey Borough, was down the other end of White Hart Lane stuck out opposite a windswept Screwfix warehouse and massive builders merchants. The clubhouse looked pretty smart though even if the toilets were still at the breezeblock stage, not so much neglected as just unfinished.
Haringey is the 4th most deprived borough in London and has so far resisted the onslaught of gentrification that’s sweeping through the rest of the capital’s poor areas like gold-plated sewage – although the hipstertwats have started moving in round my way so it’s only a matter of time (hipsters have taken over from squatters as the benchmark of the avant garde of gentrification) especially given what’s happening on the back of the new Spurs stadium.
Still it’s the first match of a new season, the sun’s out, it’s only a fiver in, with a free match programme and decent selection of drinks behind the bar (plus kebab and pitta bread outdoor bbq), Haringey turn out to be generous hosts as well as formidable opponents. That said the one-sided score line doesn’t really reflect the nature of the game. In the first half Clapton had a shade more possession as both teams played at a fluid and energetic pace. Haringey were absolutely solid in defence and Clapton never really looked like scoring even when they moved the ball upfield with ease. In contrast Haringey had a knack of finding the net with almost every attack on goal. There was some nice sweet touches all round and the pace didn’t slacken in the second half, although Clapton caught the home side napping with a consolation goal straight after half time.
As ever the Clapton ultras kept everyone entertained with their vocal support (there was no ‘we only sing when we’re losing’ though). It’s a credit to their level of notoriety that they got a hefty mention in the match programme:
It’s common knowledge that our visitors are not might be termed a united Club and while our programme is obviously not the place to comment on the internal politics of another Club, we have little doubt that our attendance will be our highest of the season for a League match and that an atmosphere unlike any other we will experience this season wil be created thanks to the presence of their passionate following – “the Friends of Clapton FC” and the “Ultras”.
That word may in the mind of many have unfortunate connotations due to the well publicised thuggish behaviour of a mindless fascist element which has attached itself to at least one of Italian footballs leading Clubs but in defence of that nation’s football followers it should be noted that there is also a faction every bit as passionately anti-fascist at a somewhat lesser known Club, Livorno.
Needless to say a few moments in the company of the Clapton contingent will quickly show which wing of the political spectrum they inhabit and anyone holding bigoted or discriminatory opinions would be well advised not to air them!
Fair play to Haringey for that. They were worthy winners and if they keep up that sort of form all season will a pose serious challenge for a title place. Clapton on the other hand need to start considering what it would take to tempt Chris Wood and Neil Day back.
Image courtesy of Andy Croft