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