Clapton 2 Stockton 1 (1907 FA Amateur Cup Final)

Clapton played in their second FA Amateur Cup Final on 30th March 1907, having two years earlier lost to West Hartlepool at Shepherds Bush.  On this occasion the final venue was moved across West London to Stamford Bridge (Chelsea FC) where a crowd of 5,000 spectators saw the Tons lift the trophy for the first time in their history following a 2-1 victory over Stockton.

The match day programme, which also covered Chelsea’s Division Two home fixture with Hull City that was played the day before, was sold at auction in 2009 for £3000.

The victorious Clapton team were :
J. Wilding (goal); J.J. Bayley, R. Ewan (backs); H. Parkinson, F. Randall, J. Olley (half backs) H. Eastwood, C. Russell, C.S. Rance, C.H. Purnell, F. K. Harvey (forwards).
Scorers : Clapton – Russell, Rance. Stockton – Chambers

Clapton v Stockton 1906 report

The report of the Essex Chronicle  of the 5th April 1907

Of this team, Clyde Honeysett Purnell (Olympic gold medallist 1908) and Charles Rance, the scorer of the winning goal in the final, (turned pro with Tottenham 1909) are probably the best known.

image004Half back F. (Frank) Randall was one of five men tragically killed in an explosion, aged 42, at a munitions factory in Rainham Essex in September 1916 .  The Essex County Chronicle described him as a hero. Newspaper cutting >


F.K. Harvey went on to become President of Clapton FC as did H. Parkinson, the team captain on that afternoon.  Mr Parkinson (right) was instrumental in reviving the club after the first World War. In the first season, playing records were poor, public support had dwindled and due to the Old Spotted Dog being unavailable, the club was playing it’s home matches at the grounds of Ilford FC and Leytonstone FC.  Following a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Ilford, Mr Parkinson confidentially declared that the club had engaged in building a team to re-capture the Amateur Cup.  This was regarded as something of a joke at the time but it was, indeed a true prophesy, for two years later Clapton became Isthmian League Champions and shortly thereafter came two seasons of success in the FA Amateur Cup.

Bayley JJ
J.J. Bayley (left) was recruited by Clapton FC after he had given a magnificent display in a London Junior Cup Final that was played at the Old Spotted Dog.  A striking personality, he was the renowned for his height and was the centre of the defence.    J.J. Bayley was known as “Big Bill” as nickname that some fourteen years later was to be used to described Clapton England international centre half W.I. Bryant.  Mr Bayley was President of the Clapton Football Club in 1920-21.

Clapton were to return to the Amateur Cup final just two years later and go on to win the trophy on five occasions in total.

Walter Tull – Setting the Record Straight

The recent announcement that a couple of Clapton pre-season friendlies will form a competition called the Walter Tull Cup is a credible attempt by Vincent McBean to align his ‘club’ with one of England’s most famous footballing sons.   In recent years there have been numerous articles written, (our own included – link)  as well as radio programmes, tv documentaries, a film and a stage show, all on Walter Tull.  All such efforts can only be for good and, should they raise awareness of Tull, his achievements and bravery, then they are to be applauded and encouraged.

Unfortunately, in announcing the Walter Tull Cup on his website article, (see The Legend of Walter Tull,) Mr McBean is shockingly ill-informed as to Tull’s football career.

As most Clapton supporters will know, Walter Tull did not make his ‘professional’ debut with Clapton at the Old Spotted Dog ground..  Clapton were a staunchly amateur club and, it was only when he joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1909, that he joined the professional ranks in the Football League.  Two years later, after less than 20 appearances for the Spurs, Tull was transferred to Northampton Town of the Southern League for a considerable fee. In 1914, he was lined up to play for Glasgow Rangers when the War was over.  As we know, this never happened for Walter.

A further bizarre and erroneous statement on the website was that Clapton have “won the FA Cup five times more than many of today’s famous football clubs”.  Those with any interest in Clapton FC, or football generally, will probably know that Clapton have never won the FA Cup.  One suspects that the confusion may be with the Tons’ successes in the FA Amateur Cup, a very different competition altogether.

Despite this, the idea of a tournament recognising Walter Tull’s achievements can only be for good and one hopes that the idea might be expanded in future to include club in areas which were relevant to Tull’s life.  Maybe matches with Folkestone (his birthplace) or Tower Hamlets (where he lived in an orphanage),  Northampton or Tottenham.  These are all possibilities for the future. However, in promoting the event, it would help that the accompanying information was correct. Credibility is so important, and Walter Tull’s memory deserves that.





H.M. (Harold Meredith) Lemoine – Clapton & England Goalkeeper

Harold Meredith Lemoine (1877 – 1961) was the Clapton goalkeeper from 1909.  He also represented England at Amateur level on two occasions and also played as a wicket keeper for Hertfordshire in Minor Counties cricket.  Looking at his stats, he was certainly a better goalkeeper than cricketer! 

Although born in Cambridgeshire, Harold Lemoine earned himself a reputation ‘up north’ as a good goalkeeper when playing for a very good  Hunslet FC team at the turn of the century.  This team famously held Blackburn Olympic to a goalless draw in Yorkshire.

In 1905 Lemoine moved south, and played for Shepherds Bush FC at Loftus Road.  In 1909 he moved across London to the Old Spotted Dog to play for the Tons.

Just before his arrival at the Dog he toured Canada and the USA with the representative team ‘Pilgrims FC’.  Pilgrims were somewhat similar to Middlesex Wanderers FC or rugby club ‘Barbarians’.  They would embark on tours using players from various clubs.  Clapton’s J.J. Bayley also was a member of that North American touring party.

His two amateur international caps came in 1908 against Belgium and, in 1910 in Copenhagen against Denmark when he replaced Horace Bailey of Leicester Fosse who was injured the previous week playing for Derby County!  

In 1910 Harold Lemoine signed amateur forms to play for Southend United.

England‘s Amateur National Team 1910 in Copenhagen
Engl-Amat- Team 1910

Back, (LtoR) –  Eastwood, Charles S. Rance (both in civvies), Harold Boardman, Harold Lemoine, William Martin, Robert “Bobby” Hawkes, John Goodall (in civil), Frederick Leonard Fayers, Ivan Gordon Sharpe, John Hargreaves Pearson (referee); Front, (LtoR) – William Henry Steer, Lionel Louch, Frederick Williams Chapman, Thomas Carter Wilson, George Barlow.  5th May 1910

C.S. Rance and T.C. Wilson were also Clapton players.

H.M. Lemoine is mentioned on the Clapton FC Commemorative Scroll which was given to the club by the Football Association in 1954.  The real Clapton FC are selling high quality reproductions of the scroll in aid of the Clapton Supporters Action Fund.  email


Two Tons in Paris 1925

Nearly eighty nine years ago, on the 21st May 1925, the full England team played an end of season friendly match against their French counterparts at the Olympic Stadium, in Colombes, Paris before 35,000 spectators.  In the England team that afternoon were Clapton players W.I. (Bill) Bryant and W.V.T. (Viv) Gibbins.
W. I
vivgibbinsThe visitors triumphed by three goals to two with Gibbins scoring the opening goal after 24 minutes.  Unfortunately, on the half hour, he had to withdraw from the game with a ‘wrenched knee’.

Just after half time England went further ahead when the French centre half, Jules Dewaquez, diverted a shot by England’s Arthur Dorrell, into his own net.  Three minutes later, Dorrell, the Aston Villa winger, scored in his own right with a ‘fine high drive’.

However, the French team did not give up, for which they were to be praised in the Parisian newspapers the following morning.  Their Captain James Nicolas of Red Star FC pegged one back before England keeper, Freddie Fox, was penalised for ‘handling’.  From the restart Jean Boyer of Olympique de Marseille scored again for the hosts and set up a nervous finish for the visitors. Matters were to get even more tense when Fox had to retire having been injured following a ‘charge from Dewaquez’, and he was replaced in goal by inside right, Frank Roberts of Manchester City, for the remainder of the match.

In those days there were no substitutes and the English team clung onto to victory with just nine men.

The local press reaction was largely that the English team were superior throughout yet the French XI were never discouraged and suffered an “honourable defeat”.

Stade Olympique de ColumbesThe Stade Olympique de Colombes, as it was known then, is situated on the north west outskirts of Paris and had a capacity of 45,000.  It had hosted a numbers of sports during the 1924 Paris Olympic Games including athletics, fencing, football and rugby.  It continued to host French cup finals,  was home to both the french Football and Rugby teams and, in 1938, was the venue for the World Cup final between Italy and Hungary.  “Colombes”, as it is known locally, was the largest stadium in France until the Parc des Princes was renovated in the 1970s.

Today, now named “Stade Departmentale Yves-du Manoir” the stadium is still owned and maintained by the local authority (are you listening Newham?)  and it is home to Racing 92 rugby club (92 denotes the French department/county and not year of formation).  On my unannounced visit to the ground, and after explaining my connection to the ground along with the reason for my interest, I was directed to park my car in spaces reserved for ‘officials’.


The Stadium, now with a capacity of 14,000, is dominated by two large covered stands with sky blue seats, the colours of Racing 92.  A tartan running track envelopes the pitch.  But the pitch, wow.  The pitch was an absolute green carpet, beautifully maintained (still there Newham?) and its quite incredible to think that it could be in such condition when subjected to a regular 80 minutes of egg chasing.
IMG_0634Both ends of the pitch were open but behind one goal I found three tents which were staffed by supporters of Racing 92.  These tents were a makeshift ticket office, a bar/beer tent and a shop selling club merchandise.  The supporters were very welcoming and again interested in the ‘Clapton link’ to their stadium.  Incidentally, Racing 92 are no slouches, they currently include Kiwi international Dan Carter in their squad.

Very little remains of the old stadium.  In the video below, at 26 seconds,  one can make out an old concrete terrace, behind a floodlight pylon and a blue and white fence, which is probably the only part of the stadium that survives from the visit of Gibbins and Bryant in 1925.

Video of Stade Olympic Colombes, Paris

Standing in the middle of the pitch, it was marvellous to think that two lads from our team in Forest Gate had played here, in what was, one of the most famous football grounds in the world of those days.  For me, it  ticked another box in my Clapton journey and reinforces my desire to see our famous old club recapture its true status and integrity.

Vive les Ciels, vive les Tons et vive l’entente cordiale !






Clapton’s Big Wins and Losses

The recent 8-1 victory against Newham had many people, including myself, delving into the Clapton records as to whether this was a record victory in the history of our great old club.

Some seasons ago, Tons Manager Chris Wood lauded our 5-0 Essex Senior League victory over London Apsa as being the highest win in that competition since our leaving the Isthmian League in 2006. He had every reason to happy as our record in the ESL is littered with some pretty heavy defeats, including the 7-1 reverse in last season’s cup final. However I shall spare you the details.

Clapton’s record win in the Isthmian League was an 11-0 drubbing of Shepherds Bush at the Dog in 1909/10.  It remains the highest score by a Clapton team in a senior League match.  In that same season they also recorded an 8-1 victory over West Norwood which repeated an identical win over the South London outfit a couple of seasons previously.

Wycombe Wanderers are a professional club, now but they twice suffered heavy defeats to the boys from E7.  In 1929/30 they went down 7-1 and in 1946/47 the Tons ran out 8-2 winners. However, the Choirboys wreaked their revenge on many an occasion in the post war Isthmian era. An 8-1 reverse at Loakes Park in 1959/60 among the numerous occasions in which Clapton were caned by heavy gunfire from the Buckinghamshire outfit.

Another club who regularly handed out beatings were Enfield.  In the 60s and early 70s the ‘E’s were one of the kingpins of amateur football and on more than one occasion beat the Clapton goalkeeper seven times without reply.  On one occasion in 1966/67, they put ten past the Clapton defence at Southbury Road.  Other clubs who got into double figures against Clapton were Wimbledon in 1947/48 (won 10-3) and Walthamstow Avenue who bashed us 10-2 at Green Pond Road in 1971/72.  Clapton, of course, hold the record for the record defeat in the FA Cup when Nottingham Forest hammered the Tons 14-0 at the Dog in 1891.

Unfortunately high scoring victories have not been the norm for our lads over the years.  A 7-1 victory against St Albans in 1934/35 is the best result I can find away from the Dog. Other decent scores were a 7-1 home tonking of Romford in 1956/57 and an 8-1 victory over the Cardinals of Woking FC at the Dog on 30th August 1924.  The Clapton side of the mid twenties are considered to be one of the best to have played for the club and included England internationals at both amateur and full level.  The Woking game was an important match as the club had just been rocked by the news that club Captain, S.G.J.(Stanley) Earle, had turned professional with West Ham United.  As a consequence, the honour of the captaincy was passed to W.I. (Bill) Bryant and he was replaced in the team by R.E. Potter.  The new recruit did not disappoint as he bagged a hattrick, only to be bettered by by I.V.A. (Viv) Gibbins who scored four.  Fittingly, the new club captain weighed in with the other.


It took over 60 years for the Surrey club to exact their revenge and in an AC Delco (Isthmian League) Cup fixture in 1989, they did just that.  Clapton, then in Division Two North of the Vauxhall League, as it was then known, had won through to the second round at the expense of Hornchurch (the original club) and Heybridge Swifts.  A midweek fixture across the other side of London beckoned and the opponents were challenging for the Division 1 title.  As the club coach left the Dog and hit the M25 it became apparent that London was being enveloped by a bank of thick fog.  As we arrived at Kingsfield, we were told that the chances of the fixture going ahead were, at best, doubtful.

In such circumstances, any self respecting Club Secretary has to weigh up the options.  If the match were to have been postponed, we would have to bear the costs of our travel on the evening and then come back a couple of weeks later at additional expense.  If, at least, the game kicked off and happened to be abandoned, then the costs would be split between the clubs as per the cup ties rules of the day.

The referee said he’d delay the kick off for 20 minutes to see if the fog would clear.  In the meantime, he took his team of officials out onto the pitch and instructed one of his linesman to go to the far touchline and wave his flag.  A few seconds later, all one could hear was ‘flap flap’ and a shout of “Can you see me?”.  “Yep, lovely” came the reply from the Clapton representative, “I think I’ll tell our lot to get ready.”  The referee said, “OK but if it gets any worse, I’ll have to call it off”.  The Woking secretary stood by with a wry smile on his face.

woking A 89 2

A few minutes later the game kicked off and the Clapton contingent in the crowd breathed a sigh of relief.  As the player battled for the ball, in and out of the Surrey haze (I told you it would get better), the Tons had the audacity to take the lead when the Woking goalkeeper failed to spot the ball emerging out of obscurity from the right boot of Clapton’s Jimmy Tibbs, son of the famous East End boxing trainer.  As it nestled in the corner of the net, only half the crowd reacted, the other half couldn’t see what happened and it only became apparent to some when they saw their Woking heros kicking off for the second time.

That was as good as it got for Clapton that evening.  In the ensuing seventy minutes, Mickey Cleaver’s men were left chasing shadows as the Cardinals scored eight times without reply.  An 8-1 defeat, but we were not disgraced, Woking were very much in the ascendancy, a rise that saw them eventually achieve a place in the Football Conference and we could go back to the normality of playing the likes of Saffron Walden Town, Aveley, Heybridge Swifts, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted Town.  How we’d like to do that now?

There was an interesting conversation in the Woking clubhouse after the game.  When asked “what had happened?” by a Tons supporter, Clapton player Chris (Smike)Driscoll replied, “Well the fog cleared, and they could then see what they were doing”. Move over Chris Kamara.

Elsewhere in the clubhouse, the gentleman that was Phillip Ledger, the former Woking player, then secretary and later, Life President, shared a joke with the Clapton contingent. He knew exactly what we were trying to achieve/avoid by making sure the game kicked off, hence his not objecting to the referee deciding to ‘give it a go’ before the match.  He said he would have done exactly the same.  As for the referee, I have no doubt he will now claim it as his decision because it was a good one for all concerned.

The last time the Tons scored anything like eight was a 7-0 home victory over a very poor Royston Town team at the Dog in 1986/87.  The Crows were, as are Newham FC today, going through an extremely tough patch, both on and off the field.  Thankfully Royston Town FC recovered and are now playing at a higher standard of football than their conquerors that afternoon.

Nonetheless, to score eight at any level of senior football is a great achievement and its given everyone connected with Clapton a huge fillip.  Are Cookey, Lemba and Cook the equivalent of Gibbins, Potter and Bryant?  Probably not.  However, what is unquestionable is the enthusiasm of today’s players, still amateurs, still giving of their best, just as did the stars of the 1920s and those Tons who took some of the the unfortunate hidings mentioned above. If we can add to that, a sprinkling of loyalty, and a wish to be indelibly identified and to be appreciated as a Clapton player, and, I’ll tell you what, we are onto something.

When the Tons Crushed the Canaries

cfc crest2_smallnorwichcityfc28th November 1925
SCORERS    Clapton –
Massey (2), McNeil (pen) ;
Norwich City –
FA Cup 1st Round.  Played at The Old Spotted Dog. 

The kick off was delayed while both teams stood in silence in memory of Queen Alexandra who had died that week.
The pitch was partially frozen with some snow on it and City, who were expected to play clever football, found Clapton quicker off the mark and, playing against an icy wind, the Tons more than held their own.

After the change Clapton used the conditions to their advantage and scored three times in within 17 minutes. Just three minutes after the re-start, Massey, receiving a pass from Munden, sent the ball spinning over the City goalkeeper and into the net. Then an excellent centre from Barnard gave Massey the opportunity to hook home his second goal. Norwich’s misery was completed when Clapton were awarded a penalty for hands and McNeil beat Dennington from the penalty spot.

Incredibly Clapton were a man short when they scored all three goals. Great stalwart Jim Crussell was off the field receiving treatment for an injury.

A quarter of an hour from the end Jackson scored from a free kick for the Canaries but they never looked like reducing the deficit further.

Nearly 4,000 people were delighted with the result.

Clapton – A.Moore, E.Penstone, F.Blake, C.Williams, R.McNeil, C.Cable, R.Morgan, J.Massey, S.Munden, J.Crussell, W.Barnard.

Norwich City – Dennington, Hannah, Wingham, Bradbrook, Murphy, Earl, McKinney, Rogers, Jackson, Banks, Stoakes



H.T. (Harry) Earle

Of all the great Clapton players of the early part of the 20th century, there is probably none more colourful or charismatic than Harry Earle who was a striking figure at the heart of Clapton’s defence.

Born in East Grinstead, Mr Earle flirted with other clubs such as Woolwich Arsenal and Millwall Athletic before finding his niche at the Old Spotted Dog. He is easily recognisable amid the group photos of the Clapton team and Essex County, for whom he received a County Cap. Amid a melange of players sporting various forms of  ‘face furniture’, his is the most voluminous moustache and with it, he had the frame to match.

Mr Earle was employed at Godwin Road School in Forest Gate.  Although not qualified as a teacher, he was eventually co-opted as such, due to 33 years service, but on one occasion he asked the West Ham School Board for permission to leave work early to play for Clapton FC. His employers had refused such request previously and following a vote acceded to his request on this occasion. It sparked an article in the local newspaper in which members of the board described football, and cricket, as being a waste of time whilst the local priest, Father Ring, supported this denunciation of sport, submitting that it was only a little less of a scandal that the drinking business.

Harry Earle was yet to court more controversy when he was declared to be a professional by the Football Association having accepted a gift of a set of furniture from the Clapton club on the occasion of his marriage. Both the club and Mr Earle appealed unsuccessfully to the FA and lost. As a result, Earle immediately signed as a professional with Notts County where he played for a season. He continued to be the trainer of West Ham Schools until 1912 by which time his playing career had come to an end. His obituary. in the Stratford Express in 1951, was adamant that despite his professional status’, he never once accepted a pay packet.

In 1905 he received a most cordial reception from the Clapton supporters when he returned to the Old Spotted Dog Ground for a friendly match against Notts County. Whatever his feelings about his own situation might have been on that day, he must have been pleased to see that his opposite number in the Clapton goal, J. Wilding, who was to go on and play for the Tons in two Amateur Cup finals, had once been the West Ham Schools goalkeeper under his charge.

Harry Earle’s final legacy to Clapton FC was that his son S.G. (Stanley) Earle also played for the Tons with some distinction in the 1920s and at both full and amateur international honours for England. But that’s another story…..

Earle H2