All our meetings to date with Clapton came in Division 2 North of the Vauxhall Opel/Football League between 1985 and 1991. And our last three no doubt left the Tons in no doubt who had the upper hand between us; Boro’ winning 5-0 at home in January 1990 and then going on to do even more damage the next season. As we surged to the Division Two North title in 1990-1, scores of 7-1 (home) and 5-0 (away) showed who was boss.
Clapton: The Facts
Terence McMillan Stadium
Newham Leisure Centre, 281 Prince Regent Lane, Plaistow, Newham, E13 8SD
In non-league circles, Clapton are a grand old team; formed in 1877 and boasting various landmarks along the way. At the start, the Tons were actually called Downs and played at Hackney Downs. But it was only a year before the current name would be adopted. In 1889, the team had the honour becoming the first from Britain to play ‘in Europe’ when they thrashed a Belgian XI by seven goals in Antwerp. Back in more austere surroundings, the Tons were founder members of the Southern League in 1894.
For two seasons on the trot, the Tons had to play a Test match to retain their Southern League status. With the second, however, they still resigned – despite winning the Test. The reason was that many of the other teams were turning professional, which wasn’t on the Tons’ agenda. Into the 20th century and the club got to the final of the FA Amateur Cup in 1905, albeit losing. That same summer, they also helped to create the Isthmian League that same year; finishing as runners-up that first season.
A flurry of success soon followed. The Tons won the FA Amateur Cup in 1907 and 1909, while 1911 put the Isthmian League trophy in their cabinet. A third FA Amateur Cup was then delivered in 1915.
For the second time, the Tons were crowned Isthmian League champions in 1923 and it was impossible to get them to ease their dominance of the FA Amateur Cup; winning it twice again in 1924 and 1925. Believe this or not also, but three of their lads were picked for the England team in the mid-1920s – such was how strong they were outside the Football League. From this era onwards, however, success dried up and they couldn’t add to their league or cup honours.
Why do we know the Tons?
Indeed, the immediate years after World War Two saw the Tons struggle towards the bottom of the league table. At the time, there was no real fear as the competition only had one division. But the 1970s expansion of the league saw the formation of a Division Two, into which the Tons went down in 1976. They were in a real pickle at that time. The year they were relegated was the fifth time in six seasons they had conceded more than 100 goals.
In 1982, the Tons fell even further; relegated into Isthmian League Division Two. By gaining promotion back to Division One a year later, it seemed as if that relegation was a false representation of their position. Alas, that wasn’t the case. In 1985, they were relegated again; this time to Division Two North. Oh, and they had conceded more than 100 goals again in doing so. The upshot of coming down into Division Two North – by the way – is that we were there waiting for them.
The Tons played out the rest of the 1980s in Division Two North. This became Division Three in the 1990s and reverted back to Division Two in the 2000s. In what would be their final two terms as members of the Isthmian League, the club propped up the table. Division Two ceased to exist afterwards, leaving the Tons with the need to go elsewhere. In this case, it was the Essex Senior League. But for the 2016-7 season in which they finished second, recent years haven’t been especially kind to them on the pitch yet again.
How to get to Clapton – Travel Information – Distance: 39 miles
Now playing in Newham, there’s a shorter route in distance that you can take. But you’ll probably find that a slightly longer route will be quicker in journey time.
Go south on the A1(M) – or head across to Ware on the A602 and south on the A10. No matter which option you prefer, you’ll need to join the M25 clockwise. Next, take the M11 south. When it ends, you’ll be joining the A406. To make sure you’re heading the correct way, follow the signs for the A12 and A13.
Stay on the A406 until you reach the A13, which involves a massive roundabout and the Beckton Triangle retail park. Take the third exit and go south on the A13 towards the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf. After 1.6 miles, you reach an exit for the A112. Come off the A13 here and turn right onto Tollgate Lane. It’s then right again onto the A112.
Go across the A13 and, shortly after, a right turn takes you into the leisure centre.
There’s a limited amount of parking available at the leisure centre. If this is full, you might find a spot to park on local streets. Be aware of any residents’ only schemes, though.
Station: PRINCE REGENT
Services to: STRATFORD/BANK
The DLR seems to be the easiest way to get to the ground by public transport. And it’s an easy enough walk too. Exit the station onto the A112; heading almost straight across so that you pass The Royal Docks Academy on your right. Just keep walking up this road to eventually reach the A13 and – just on the other side of it – the ground.
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