This article was included in the Matchday programme for the Gordon Brasted match v Newham FC on Tuesday 6th October 2015
THE VASE ARTICLE (IN CASE WE GOT A REPLAY ON SATURDAY)
There was a recent comment on twitter from a Tons supporter who, rightly, pointed out that Clapton have a cup record littered with disappointing defeats. These defeats, in more recent seasons, have come about in the FA Vase and new supporters will refer to our reversal at Welwyn Garden City last season as an example. Let’s get that out of the way immediately. WGC proved they are a very capable team, after comfortably dispatching the Tons 3-0, by going on to win a League and Cup double in the South Midlands League Division 1.
The Tons did not enter the Vase regularly until 1986 (their previous entry was in 1982) After a defeat at Hounslow, two embarrassing reversals followed in 1987 and 1988. Newport Pagnell Town played on a ground in the corner of a public park whilst Clapton were members of the Vauxhall Opel League (Isthmian). It was supposed to be a formality. It wasn’t. NPT scored a goal midway through the first half and the rest of the game was spent in the home team’s half of the field. The woodwork was rattled, the home keeper was inspired (and should have been drug tested), whilst his defenders threw themselves at everything in order to defend their lead, and they succeeded. It was not a happy coach home to Forest Gate that night. The following season, history repeated itself, this time at Milton Keynes Borough FC. Was is it about Buckinghamshire?
The list of those who have put Clapton out of the Vase reads like a ground hoppers diary of grounds I will get, eventually. Sidley United, Brache Sparta, Long Buckby, Thrapston Town and North Leigh to name a few. North Leigh is possibly most notable as the Tons were shaded 11 -0 (eleven – nil) on that occasion.
A match of note was in 1989 when Sudbury Town were the visitors at the Dog. Sudbury Town were the losing finalists at Wembley the previous season and turned up with their players all spammed up in the Wembley suits, cheered on by at least two coach loads of fans. A good match ensued and Clapton were very much in the game before a penalty was awarded to the visitors. It was successfully converted, giving Sudbury a 2-1 lead, and from there it went Pete Tong for the home side. Sudbury winger, Steve McGavin, who went on to play for Southend United and Colchester, was a persistent irritant all afternoon. So, imagine our surprise when he ran onto the fist of Clapton keeper Brian Balkwill following a race for the ball. Inevitably, Balky went for an early bath and, as midfielder Mark Cutler pulled on the green jersey, our dreams of the twin towers were disappeared into the East London aether. Just to make matters worse, the visitors slammed in another four goals. Final fashion point, even making allowances for the fact Sudbury is in Suffolk – Sand / Beige suits are not only naff now, they were also naff in 1989.
FA Vase? Not a patch on the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy. Come on you Tons !