Stansted FC 2-1 Clapton FC
Saturday 7 February 2015
Essex Senior League
Thought i’d pop along to White Hart Lane first, before the Clapton game, see what’s what. Big north London derby, Arsenal, Tottenham, local rivalry, ancient history, settling scores like the Equaliser.
As ever Tottenham High road is awash with Spurs fans, laying siege to the everyday shopping street, meeting up, milling about, making themselves conspicuous. If the Arsenal were around they were keeping a low profile, so everyone empties into the stadium bang on 12.45 (for the benefit of sky) or the nearest boozer (to watch the match on sky), and all that’s left amongst the clatter and debris of an early kick off are the street cleaners, scarf sellers and police leaning against their rows and rows of riot vans.
By contrast, where Stansted play is just absolutely fucking surreal. The Kinks Village Green Preservation Society painted into a corner. Thatched cottages and quiet country lanes, mock tudor, grade 2 listed, preserving the old ways… a different world. I tell you what, it’s cold. I’m nursing a pint of Jack Daniels and coke, that’s how cold it is. Jack Daniels and coke, on the terraces, in a pint glass. And it’s as chilly on the pitch as it is off, with no love lost between the two teams in what turned out to be a frosty bad tempered game.
It started off promisingly enough for Clapton, who decided to play a wide ball game and make use of the wings, with a large proportion of the early play was fought up and down the right flank. Obviously the Stansted defence had Clapton’s no11 down as a ‘playmaker’ with his darting runs along the far touchline and they marked his card early on and proceeded to needle, barge, bundle over and generally foul him out of the game.
Something a bit nasty about picking on the one lad to set an example. Stansted tactics… a different world. Didn’t have it all their own though despite some dodgy refereeing decisions. The ref practically gifted Stansted the opening goal with a clumsy penalty decision. Had himself down as a bit of a Pierluigi Collina but frankly fucked about too much with the power he should never have had.
Clapton soon equalised with a nice break that caught the Stansted players napping and went on to put on a bit of a show towards the end of the first half in true Claptonesque style with the dancing feet of no11 once again working his magic down the line, beautifully dummying one Stansted defender and then leaving another standing before whipping the ball across into the box, in fine show of individual skill right on the stroke of half time.
Could have been Clapton’s game second half but it wasn’t to be, Stansted got another against the run of play then proceeded to stand firm as Clapton attempted to find a way through. It all got a bit messy towards the end. Desperate and dirty. What i will say about Standsted is how they handled themselves and the presence of the noisy Clapton fans. They simply shut them out.
Stansted players continually barked instructions at each other, but always with positive reinforcement, which neutralised any effect the Clapton’s travelling army’s singing/chanting had on the opposition. This kind of constant communication, constant verbal encouragement kept them focused and meant any noise from the terraces simply didn’t register. Clever stuff.
Clapton shouldn’t have lost this game, Stansted shouldn’t have won it. Mark it up as a lesson learned.