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The MCFL Premier Division 2020/21: Meet the opposition

The 2019/20 MCFL Premier season will be remembered mainly for the negatives.

First it was decimated by non-stop rain clogging up pitches, none more so than at Wadham Lodge. Then it was put out of its misery by a global pandemic.

But after that false start, our men’s team head into the new season with more of an idea what to expect from the division.

After a slow start, the Tons built up a head of steam and were sitting in fifth position with games in hand when proceedings were called to a close. 

With so many quality teams, it’s guaranteed to be another tough campaign.

Brentham FC

Last season: 1st

The historic Brentham Club was founded in 1919. Their claim to fame was that Fred Perry played a bit of tennis there in his day. That was until this pre-season, when former France international Patrice Evra made an unexpected appearance for them in a friendly. 

Brentham were a bit of a bogey team for the Tons last term. First they fought back from two down to grab a last-gasp draw in West London. Then they grabbed a last-gasp winner at a windy Mabley Green. Having being in the driver’s seat for the title, the Blues have to be considered contenders again this time round.

C.B. Hounslow United Reserves

Last season: 14th

The only reserve side in the division, CB play out near Heathrow Airport. They were probably more relieved than anyone by 2019/20 being chalked off. From 15 games they had only amassed a grand total of four points and were cut adrift at the bottom.

A 4-0 defeat at Wadham Lodge was CCFC’s biggest home win of the season.

Their first team play in the ninth tier Combined Counties Premier Division.

Cricklewood Wanderers FC

Last season: 2nd

Cricklewood had a dramatic turnaround from 2018/19, when they finished bottom, to be one of the strongest sides last term. A 1-1 draw with the Tons was the last game before the curtain came down. But they will fondly remember a rampant performance in Brent last October, where they defeated Geoff Ocran’s side 5-0. Cricklewood groundshare at Wembley FC.

Hillingdon FC

Last season: 9th

Founded in 1989, Hillingdon won the league in 2014/15, but have stayed at this level. Their only previous meeting with the Tons came in the Alec Smith Cup last September. Clapton progressed with a 3-0 win at Hillingdon’s Brunel University Sports Complex home. 

Hilltop FC

Last season: 3rd

Somali-heritage side Hilltop were also in their debut season having come up from the MCFL West Division One. And they had adapted even better than Clapton to the new level. Hilltop were of course the opposition when the Tons won their first silverware, the 2018/19 Jim Rogers Cup. The sides then drew 2-2 in the league at the Middlesex Stadium in Ruislip. Hilltop edged a pre-season friendly at Wadham Lodge in preparation for this campaign.

Indian Gymkhana FC

Last season: 11th

Like Brentham, this is another West London sporting institution. Originally a cricket club for the Indian diaspora, the football side was born in the early eighties. Gymkhana is worth a visit for the clubhouse alone – especially its top notch cuisine. Good thing too, as Clapton slumped to a disappointing 5-4 defeat last time out.

Kensington Dragons FC

Last season: 14th

The one team that remain a complete unknown quantity. Although we had played half of our games, we didn’t get round to either of our fixtures with Dragons. They play in the Linford Christie Stadium, Wormwood Scrubs, and won the division in 2013/14.

Larkspur Rovers

Last season: 4th

Now in their 70th year, Rovers have been playing in Northolt for the last 50 of those. Clapton recorded a 2-0 home win over them last season, not managing to fulfil the away fixture.

London Samurai Rovers FC

Last season: 6th

Rivals from the MCFL Division East and Central days,  Samurai ended up only a point behind the Tons with a game in hand. There were another couple of epic battles, with the Tons triumphing 3-1 in the league and the Japanese-heritage team winning a marathon penalty shootout in the Alec Smith Cup.

After a year groundsharing with Northwood FC, Samurai will be moving in with Acton-based Wasps FC. NOT the rugby club, before you set your sat-nav for Coventry!

NW London FC

Last season: 8th

Another team from CCFC’s first season (and a number of friendlies), games with the Gorillas are usually tasty. The last competitive one ended in a 1-0 Tons win on Bonfire Night. But last weekend’s pre-season friendly between the two sides ended in a goalless stalemate.

NW have garnered some social media attention of late with their Rage-produced Black Lives Matter shirt.

PFC Victoria London

Last season: 13th

After finishing second in 2018/19, this Polish heritage club found things harder going last season. There were two meetings last winter. The Tons won 3-2 at Hanworth Villa FC’s ground, but were held to a 2-2 draw back in Walthamstow.

Pitshanger Dynamo FC

Last season: 7th

The Carrots, as they are known, have been a mainstay of Middlesex football since they were founded in 1972. They handed the Tons their first defeat in the MCFL Premier last summer. That game took place at the Powerday Stadium in Greenford, which they share with Hanwell Town FC.

Sporting Hackney FC

Last season: 9th

The Parrots, champions in 2013/14, play on Hackney Marshes. As well as a 2-0 win in the opening game of last season’s MCFL premier, Clapton defeated them 5-1 in a friendly in August.

Stonewall FC

Last season: 10th

Always a fixture worth marking on the calendar, we look forward to another couple more clashes with our ‘best frenemies’ this term. Stonewall have now moved from their previous base in Barnes to the London Marathon Community Track, in the shadow of West Ham’s London Stadium. That was the site of CCFC’s second ever game, a 3-0 friendly loss to West Essex. The legendary LGBT+ club are a welcome addition to the league’s small East London contingent!

They have also had a bit of a rebrand:

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