F.J.C. Blake – From a Fox to a Doggie

Sol Campbell, Carlos Tevez and Mo Johnston are all players who have played for football clubs who shared a rivalry in the relative recent past.  Spurs to Arsenal, United to City and Celtic to Rangers are all difficult paths and certainly, in the case of Johnston, and the circumstances in which his deal was finally struck, it certainly takes some bottle to do so.

Even in the early days of Clapton FC, there was initial concern from local clubs such as Blake F.jpgUpton Park and Woodville that the new tenants of the Spotted Dog Enclosure would poach their best players.  This was not the case but, as the Tons progressed towards becoming one of the leading lights in amateur football, a fierce but sporting rivalry with the Ilford Football Club developed and, for a player to change alligence from one to the other, was seen as treachery of the first water.

So enter Frederick James Carter Blake, as fine a full back as any that played in amateur football during the 1920s.  He was captain of Essex FA representative team and of the Ilford team that won consecutive Isthmain League Championships in 1921 and 1922. So imagine the shock when, he did the amateur equivilent of crossing Stanley Park  or swapping N17 for N7 by travelling  4 miles west of Lynn Road to Upton Lane in order to join Clapton at the start of the 1923-24.

Blake was a local lad, born in Walthamstow in 1892 and began his footballing career with the local Avenue Boys Club who were later to become Walthamstow Avenue FC.    He later played for Deptford based club, Bronze Athletic.

In 1911 he moved to Newbury Park, the home of the ‘Foxes’, Ilford Football Club.  Blake captained the first team during a most successful period in their history when they won two Isthmian League Chapionships. He served as a Major in the Essex Regiment  during the Great War, and also played for, and was captain of, Clapton Orient’s war-time XI from 1916-18.  After the War, he returned to Ilford and then, in 1923, became a Ton.

His first season at Clapton saw him replace S.W. Adams (who later signed for Ilford!) and join E.A. Penstone and W.I. Bryant at the heart of Clapton’s defence.  Penstone had been recently recruited from West Norwood FC and this threesome was united throughout two successful FA Amateur Cup campaigns in 1924 and 1925.  Blake also captained Essex FA.and also represented London FA.

The disappointment of his desertion from the Ilford ranks is fairly evident, but expressed in a most gentlemanly fashion by the Newbury Park club, through their correspondent ‘HayBee’ who wrote the editorial in their matchday programmes.  Furthermore, the transfer did not automatically go through and,  Blake was sidelined for over a month,  before a meeting of the Isthmian League Committee can its approval to the move.  Later that season, a begrudging compliment was paid to the Doggies by the Ilford club for their Amateur Cup success, although it was tempered by pointing out that ‘Claptons great season’ had been helped by their managing to secure home draws in the completition on the way to their achievement.  The following season, HayBee’s editorial in the Ilford programme pre-empts potential problems or, possibly, re-acts to previous incidents when, having referred to ex Ilford stalwarts, Blake and Potter, who were now lining up for the Tons says “Anyway, we hope our supporters will cheer good play impartially and refrain from the barracking that spoils good sport and good felowship between players”.

Having enjoyed all the successes with that great Clapton team, F.C.J. Blake moved to Catford Wanderers in 1930.

After retiring from playing football he lived in Upminster but suffered injury in car accident at Ingatestone in 1944. During the second world war he bacame an ARP warden afterwards became the landord of the Three Cups public house in Chelmsford.  He also served as the Vice President of the Essex Referee’s Association whose headquarters were at the Three Cups.  He remained a prominant figure in Essex football and even found time to become the Chairman of the Chelmsford Licensed Victuallers Association.

F.J.C. Blake passed away in Romford in June 1960 but the rivalry between these two great old amateur clubs continues to this day, albeit on a gentler and friendlier basis.  There is no doubt that F.J.C. Blake would have been delighted to have seen over 750 spectators at the Spotted Dog for last season’s match between the clubs, however, one is sure that he would possibly have preferred it to have taken place in the Isthmian League, the traditional home of both clubs.

One can but hope.

Clapton Team 1925
The Clapton Amateur Cup Winning Team of 1925

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.


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

126 Years At the Old Spotted Dog !

osd9On Saturday 24th September 1887, Clapton Football Club played it’s first ever match as tenants of the Old Spotted Dog ground.  Their opponents were Old Carthusians, an experienced team made up from the old boys of Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey.

Advertisements were carried in the Stratford Express to publicise the match.  In the event, 700 people paid 3d to watch the teams fight out a 1-1 draw.  The crowd was disappointing and the following week’s Express report told of the attendance being adversely affected due to a Sports Day held at Leyton that same afternoon.

However, it also told of how the first Clapton goal was struck home. – “A volley by P.A. Read was punted forward and, before Wilkinson could get it, Sellar rushed up and headed it through to scenes of great enthusiasm.”  – Clapton has arrived at the Old Spotted Dog.

The teams for that historic match were :-


H.E. Peattie
C.E. Morris
A.E. Cassleton
P.A. Read
J. Barclay
S. Smith
J. Sellar
J. Cowan (capt)
R.H. Clark
J.S.L. Prior
T. Radford

– goal –
– back –
– back –
– half back –
– half back –
– half back –
– right –
– right –
– centre –
– left –
– left –

L.R. Wilkinson
P.M. Waters
A.M. Waters
C.W. Ware
T.W. Blenkiron
S.R. Arthur
C.A. Smith
A.C. Nixon
H.C. Price
F.J. Cooper
E.P. Rathbone

The Old Carthusians team of this day were one of the strongest in the country.  They included C.A. Smith who was later to find fame, firstly as an England cricketer but later as Sir C. Aubrey Smith, the actor, who went on to star with Clark Gable, Sir Laurence Olivier and Greta Garbo during his thespian career.  At back were the Waters brothers who were both England internationals and were nicknamed ‘morning’ and ‘afternoon’ due to their initials.

The Old Carthusians had previously won the FA Challenge Cup in 1881 and, in the previous season to this match, reached the quarter final where they were beaten by the eventual winners, West Bromich Albion.  Later, in 1891, the Carthusians were to win the FA Amateur Cup, a trophy that was later to find it’s way to the Old Spotted Dog Ground on no less than five occasions.

Old Carthusians were the first of many visitors to the Old Spotted Dog.  They were followed later that season by Ilford, Nottingham Forest and London Caledonians to name just a few.

The above information was extracted from ‘Fired Up For the 90s’ a Clapton FC publication from 1989


Unfortunately, those currently in charge of the lease at the ground and passing off as Clapton FC have shown that they cannot be trusted with either.  Director of the lease holding company and Clapton Members Club ”Chief Executive’ Mr McBean has previously undertaken, to the High Court, to sell the lease from under the club. His ‘club’ has no membership and the lease holders are currently subject to a statutory inquiry under s46 Charities Act 2011 by the Charity Commission.

For those who are interested in safeguarding the ground and keeping Clapton FC playing there.
Join Clapton FC