Hammers and Tons


Just over a mile from the Boleyn Ground, in Upton Lane Forest Gate, lies the Old Spotted Dog Ground, home to Clapton Football Club.  Hidden behind what is the old, unfortunately abandoned, Spotted Dog pub, one can easily not have noticed it.  Equally, fans of the Hammers may not realise that, on their doorstep, there is a football club with an unrivalled pedigree in non-league football and, who have indelible links with West Ham United.

Clapton FC have won the FA Amateur Cup on no less than five occasions and are recognised by the Football Association as being the first English club to play on the continent.  They have had both full and amateur international player pass through their ranks, most notably Stanley Earle, who was later to sign professional forms with the Hammers in 1926 (278 app – 58 goals) and Vivian Gibbins, who played as an amateur with West Ham, (129 apps – 58 goals) as well as being an iconic figure for the ‘Tons’.

Since then, Clapton and West Ham United have met in both competitive and non competitive matches.  In the early 1900s, the Hammers came to the Dog on two occasions to knock ‘the Tons’ out of the FA Cup, once after a reply.

West Ham have used the Old Spotted Dog Ground for their Boys and “A” teams, and many illustrious names have run out at “The Dog” before they made their mark.  However, one remarkable game was an 11-0 victory for the Hammers at Upton Park in September 1957.  John Lyall and Bobby Moore were among those who have played for West Ham Colts that night.

colts prog

Friendly matches have included a ‘Festival of Britain game in 1951 and, in 1966, a match to inaugurate Clapton’s new floodlights.  The Hammers team was packed with stars, including Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.  In true Clapton style, these illustrious names had to wait for a late kick off due to floodlight failure.  Oh well, it’s Clapton FC, Innit?

Matches have taken place since but, as the Old Spotted Dog aged, the ground became less a attractive place to bring your potential stars for friendly match, however during the 80s, West Ham were annual visitors during pre-season.

In addition, West Ham United have been good friends to Clapton for many years in that they have allowed Clapton play matches at Upton Park

An FA Cup 3rd Round match against Swindon Town in 1926 attracted a crowd of 27,100 and another,  between Clapton and Barking FC in the Essex Thameside Trophy, was the first all amateur match to be played under floodlights.

The relationship between Clapton and West Ham United dates back to the 8th December 1900, the year the Thames Ironworks re-formed as West Ham United, when they met in the F.A. Cup 5th qualifying round. The first game was at West Ham’s home, the Memorial Ground in Canning Town, and ended in a 1-1 draw. West Ham ran out 3-2 victors in the replay played at the Old Spotted Dog. They met again at the ‘Dog’ in an F.A. Cup 4th qualifying round tie on 14th November 1903, when the professionals of West Ham were victorious again over the amateurs of Clapton three goals to nil in the tie played at the Old Spotted Dog.

The Thames Ironworks team won their very first trophy, the inaugural West Ham Charity Cup, when they beat Barking at the third attempt, at the Old Spotted Dog in 1896. The first match finished in a 2-2 draw on 21st March 1896, the second also finished even, this time 0-0 on 28th March 1896. The tie was eventually settled on 20th April 1896 in a second replay, when Thames Ironworks won the game by a score of 1-0. The competition was so named because of the county borough of West Ham, now Newham, not the football team itself. Clapton themselves were five times winners and four times runners up of the West Ham Charity Cup.

West Ham used to use the Old Spotted Dog grounds for their Boys and “A” teams, many illustrious names have run out at “The Dog” before they made their mark in the world, including, none other than, the current West Ham United Chairman, David Gold, it’s the ground where he made his West Ham United debut. Here is a link to a programme for a tie between West Ham United and Clapton Colts sides in the 1957 F.A. Youth Cup, held at the Boleyn Ground. Note some of the players in the line ups, for “Tons” is Stan Earl in goal and for the Hammers, Joe Kirkup, Harry Cripps John Lyall and Bobby Moore in defence. Unsurprisingly, West Ham won this game, they had reached the previous seasons final, however the 11-0 thumping that occurred was not expected.

The first friendly match between the two teams was in 1938. But it would take another 13 years before the two clubs would meet again. It was a 1951 Festival of Britain match that would re-unite the two close neighbours.

Then a further gap of 15 years passed before West Ham United brought their 3 World Cup Winners to “The Dog”, World Cup Winners at The Old Spotted Dog!!. The 1966 game was held to officially open Clapton’s new floodlights, which were installed just a few weeks earlier. West Ham arrived packed with stars, a full strength first team was sent, including Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, but even they had to wait as the game was interrupted, due to a floodlight failure!!.

As the 80’s arrived, the friendship between Clapton and West Ham United appeared stronger than ever with yearly friendlies taking place, some of which were played for the Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy.

The Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy was an annual match played in memory of a local young man who died in a car accident in 1967 at the age of just 19, . Lee was an all-round sportsman who played many outstanding games for representative teams and for Clyde A.O.B., Fairburn House and Red House Football Clubs. One time Clapton Manager, Bernie Dixson, was also involved in this accident, but escaped with serious leg and head injuries, which ended his promising playing career. The Inaugural Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy match took place in 1968.

1981’s meeting saw Ray Houghton grace the Old Spotted Dog pitch in a 3-1 victory for the Hammers, with Terry Sorenson scoring for the Tons.  Whilst in 1982 Tony Mercer scored Clapton’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat. Clapton had former West Ham United and Leicester City keeper Colin Mackleworth between the sticks.  Another ‘keeper who played for both clubs was Peter Grotier who was a youth player at the Dog and was later to make 50 appearances for the Hammers.

The 1983 match saw the first competitive appearance of Ray Stewart for West Ham, with George Parris and Bobby Barnes scoring for the Hammers and George Omaboe replying for the Tons. The match looked to be heading for a draw until a last minute winner for West Ham. The West Ham side that day also included Paul Brush, Alan Dickens and Tony Cottee.

West Ham’s visit in 1984 saw Clapton achieve off a 3-3 draw with Paul Davies, Alan Shirley and Chris Sharples scoring for the Tons.  A year later West Ham left the Dog with a 3-1 victory. Billy Partridge scored Clapton’s only goal, from the penalty spot. West Ham’s side included Potts, Brush, Parris, Whitton, Dickens, Keen and Swindlehurst.

1986’s visit saw a more dominant 5-1 win for the Hammers. Jason Apps scored for Clapton, West Ham’s team included Steve Whitton, Paul Ince, Steve Potts, Geoff Pike, Paul Hilton and the legend that is Billy Bonds.

west ham 1986 centre
The teams for the 1986 Match

The visit of 1990 saw the likes of Alan McKnight, Tommy McQueen, Kevin Horlock, George Parris and Leroy Rosenior take to the pitch for West Ham.

Competitive matches between Clapton and West Ham United
West Ham U vs. Clapton 1-1 08/12/1900 FA Cup 5th Q
Clapton vs. West Ham U 2-3 12/12/1900 FA Cup 5th Q replay
Clapton vs. West Ham U 0-3 14/11/1903 FA Cup 4th Q

West Ham have been good neighbours to the Tons and have hosted several matches that Clapton have competed in, sometimes to create a spectacle and sometimes due to crowd concerns.

In December 1923 an FA Cup qualifying tie against Southend United was played at the Boleyn which ended in a  3-1 victory for the Essex club.


The match against Swindon Town, in 1926, attracted a crowd of 27,100, a crowd that the Old Spotted Dog just could not have held, although the Dog managed to host a crowd of over 7,000 for the second round tie against Ilford.

The Essex Thameside Trophy match between Clapton and Barking was making history, it was the first all amateur tie to be played under floodlights.

Equally historic was Clapton’s visit to Upton Park in March 1958. This tie, between Clapton and Ilford, was the first Isthmian League match to be played under lights

Friendly matches between Clapton and West Ham United
Clapton vs. West Ham United 2-4 1938
Clapton vs. West Ham United 1-1 1951 Festival of Britain
Clapton vs. West Ham United 0-6 1966 1st Floodlit game @The Dog
Clapton vs. West Ham United 1-3 1981/82
Clapton vs. West Ham United 1-2 1982/83
Clapton vs. West Ham United 2-4 16/08/83 Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy
Clapton vs. West Ham United 3-3 1984/85 Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy
Clapton won 7-6 on penalties
Clapton vs. West Ham United 1-3 13/08/85 Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy
Clapton vs. West Ham United 1-5 19/08/86 Lee Rackett Memorial Trophy
Clapton vs. West Ham United 20/08/90
Clapton matches held at West Ham United
Clapton vs. Swindon Town 2-3 09/01/1926 F.A. Cup Third Round
Clapton vs. Grays Athletic 3-3 1944/45 Essex Senior Cup Final
Clapton vs. Grays Athletic 1-2 1944/45 Essex Senior Cup Final Replay
Clapton vs. Barking 3-5 1953/54 Essex Thameside Trophy 1st Round Replay
Clapton vs. Ilford 1-2 31/03/1958 Isthmian League

These days Clapton, still upholding their amateur policy, play in the Essex Senior League.  Results have improved in  recent seasons and spirits among the supporters are high.  In the past season, Clapton have regularly played in front of home crowds that of over 300 and, in October 2016, over 700 people packed into the ground for the local derby against, traditional foes, Ilford FC.  In a league where attendances rarely reach three figures, the indications are that Clapton are on the march once again.

Whilst Clapton FC cannot necessarily boast the best achievements on the field in recent years nor, for that matter, the best ground or facilities, it retains, as did the Boleyn Ground, a special place in football and in the hearts of football supporters.

The real Clapton FC would very much like to welcome any West Ham fans who cannot get to the Irons’ away games or who might be a bit strapped in these difficult times in affording to attend premier League games.

We can assure you of a good atmosphere amongst the crowd, a truly loyal, determined and committed squad of players and a football club that is very much on the edge of moving forward despite difficult times in the recent past.



The aim is to change the inward looking, exclusivity of the present regime at Clapton into bringing about a fan owned, democratic club in which everybody has a voice and a contribution to make.

Read more here www.claptonfc.info or complete the form below and we will ensure that you receive a list of our fixtures and answer any enquiries that you may have.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Dog soon.


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Clapton FC

This blog contains an anthology of articles featured in Clapton FC programmes and other websites that related to the Clapton Football Club, founded in 1877 as Downs FC.

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