The following is a verbatim extract from a press cutting following Clapton’s 1-0 victory over Nunhead in the London Senior Cup Final of 1909 that recalls spectacular defeats and an encounter with Royal Arsenal FC.
“It is no exaggeration to say that there is not another amateur team in the South whose goings are so closely followed as Clapton. The reason is not far to seek. I can readily recall two consecutive matches at the Dog in the early nineties in which Clapton were beaten 14-0 by Notts Forest in the FA Cup, and the next Saturday by Casuals 8-1 in the London Cup, while, if memory serves me aright, Cambridge University, on a rain sodden ground, administered the coup de grace a week or two later by 11-1. Yet even in that year Clapton, in my opinion, had a stronger team than they have at present – which is saying a lot! Ponder over these names ye of the sere and yellow¹ :- G.L. Lyons, goal; C.E. Munro and A.E. Casselton, back; R.H. Clark, T Radford, and S. Smith, half-backs; T. Bryson, J.S. Sellars, W. Cowan, W.G. Connell, and J.S.L. Pryor, forwards !”
A Peep Into The Past
It was in season 1888-89 that Clapton first won the London Cup, when they beat a powerful Casuals team, which included A.M. and P,.M. Waters at back by 4-2 at Kennington Oval in the final. Two years later they seemed certain again to “lify” the trophy but were ousted in the semi final by Royal Arsenal. I have vivid recollections of that match. At one period Clapton led by two goal, scored by the brothers Cole. Then Peter Connolly, the Arsenal back, went up forward, and playing in irresistible form, beat Clapton off his own bat by 4-2. Howat, Julian and Stewart were the Arsenal half backs and I well remember how the latter fell foul of Steamship Smith, who at that time held the 12st boxing championship!
Since then Clapton have twice reached the final without success, losing to Ilford 2-1 in season 1900-1, and to Old Malvernians 4-2 in 1902-3. On the third occasion however, they have (after disposing of 2nd Coldstream Guards (2-0), London Caledonians (3-0) and Bromley (3-1) in previous rounds), made amends for previous shortcomings by defeating Nunhead by a goal to nil in the final, thus again winning the Cup after an interval of exactly 20 years.
The article was accompanied by rare press photo (above) of the victorious Clapton team from the 1909 London Senior Cup final which included Walter Tull, Clyde Honeysett Purnell and J.J. (Bill) Bayley. The goalkeeper was Mel T. Jackson. Notice how goalkeeper in those days wore the same jerseys as the outfield players.
¹ “Ye of the sere and yellow” is a phrase from Macbeth (5.3.22-23) meaning those of old age or in the autumn of their life.