There can be no glossing over it, it’s been a massively tough start to life in the football pyramid for Hereford Palace.
The brand new Wormwood Scrubs-based side started the Middlesex County Football League season with a whopping 18-0 (yes, EIGHTEEN) defeat at home to NW London.
A frustrated club spokesman told us that everything which could go wrong, did go wrong.
“It was one of those games to forget,” he told us. “We only fielded 11 players, without any subs, and lost 2 players within 12 minutes. It all went downhill from there.
“The only way we could continue was to play the keeper outfield and stick an injured player in between the sticks. All in all a game to forget but take nothing away from NW, they’re a great team,”
You have to admire Hereford Palace’s spirit to keep battling on from that body blow. The scorelines HAVE improved since. culminating in a much closer 4-0 defeat away at league leaders Stonewall FC in their last game.
It’s clear they are getting more competitive and experienced with every passing week, having largely kept faith with the same players throughout the season.
The challenge they will pose Clapton CFC, buoyed up in front of a crowd, should not be under-estimated.
However, the Reds have lost all six matches so far – four in the league, two in the cup – conceding 55 in the process and only scoring twice, both for Jeffrey Larry, who is also club treasurer.
The club are quite realistic about their nightmare start to the season so far: “Poor preparation and starting a team from scratch with no experience whatsoever was bound to throw a few dirty results our way.”
As for the name Hereford Palace, the founders are neither Hereford fans, nor Palace fans, they just liked how the name sounded. “It was the name we first used when we entered football tournaments before joining a league and it just stuck.”
Clapton CFC have added to their ranks by signing utility player Jake Stevens – who Tons fans may know from the Essex Senior League – and former Thurrock youth striker Lewis Owiredu, who scored twice in a training game on Saturday.
Player-manager Geoff Ocran said: “With the fixture list giving us a free week, we opted for an in-house game last Saturday so we could look at a few fringe players and trialists and also give more minutes to other first teamers.
“From the feedback from my assistant manager Stuart Purcell and club captain Andrew, Lastic, there were lots of positives to take from the game and selection headaches going into the Hereford Palace game.
“It’s good to get back to league action and a chance to get more points on the board. Another performance similar to the Epping game and I can’t see any other result than a Clapton CFC victory”
Our temporary home, The Stray Dog, is about 20 minutes walk from Walthamstow Central station, going past at least 5 pubs along the way.
Turn onto Hoe Street and follow the road all the way along (past the junction with The Bell pub) until Chingford Lane. Continue past Sir George Monoux 6th Form College and take the first right onto Brookscroft Road then left onto Kitchener Road.
You can catch a bus along that route too. The 357, 34, 97, 215 will all take you to the top of Brookscroft Road from Walthamstow Central (approx 12 minutes).
There’s also plenty of car parking space available at the ground. Postcode for your satnav is E17 4LL.
We’re on the pitch just left as you enter the Wadham Lodge car park. Look out for the Stray Dog sign! There’s a pitchside bar selling cans of lager, cider and soft drinks.
The toilets and full bar – selling a fuller range of draft beers and more – are in the main building in the car park.
Entry to the game is completely free (but we welcome donations, suggested £3 for waged adults), We’ll also have our brilliant programme for sale at £2.
There is a food bank collection for this game on behalf of Walthamstow-based charity Eat or Heat. Please check the list of what they need.
Clapton CFC vs Hereford Palace is at 2pm on Saturday, November 3rd at ‘The Stray Dog’, Wadham Lodge Sports Ground, Kitchener Road, Walthamstow, E17 4JP. You can join the Facebook event here.