Last season, Clapton Community FC broke records and turned heads in a memorable, headline-grabbing run in the Women’s FA Cup.
The first team from the seventh tier to reach the third round, and the first team to beat opposition from four divisions higher than us, we also made friends in far-flung clubhouses from Bedford to Saltash.
However, the run of five games – all away from home – was a major strain on the club’s finances and we had to launch a Crowdfunder to get the team to the third round tie at Plymouth Argyle.
With prize money for winning four games not even covering the cost of transport, and no gate money share from the 1750-plus fans at our games.
We effectively became victims of our own success, with high profile names from the world of football journalism, writing excellent pieces which highlighted the issue.
People took notice, and this season’s competition has seen the prize money increased so that success in the competition should no longer be a drain on any club’s resources.
Our opponents in this season’s Second Round Qualifying are Sittingbourne Ladies FC, with both teams receiving a bye in the First Round Qualifying.
Sittingbourne Ladies FC is an all-girls football club, formed initially by a group of managers who for many years called themselves Swale Ladies FC, before an amalgamation with Sittingbourne FC allowing them further their ethos in women’s football.
They play in the South East Counties Womens Football League Premier Division (formerly Division 1 East) in Tier 7 of the football pyramid, having been promoted to that level after finishing as champions of Kent Division 1 in 2018-19, the very same season that the then AFC Stoke Newington (now CCFC) won promotion from Tier 8 to the Greater London Women’s Football League Division-One.
So far this season, Sittingbourne sit 7th in the 13 team table after two games, with one win and one defeat. Last season’s top scorer, Sian Boswell (13 goals from 13 starts), started this season in much the same vein, netting all 4 in their opening day 4-2 victory over Sevenoaks Town.
Sittingbourne FC vs Clapton Community FC takes place at Woodstock Park on Sunday 2nd October 2022, with a kick off time of 2pm.
Entry is £3 for adults, £2 for under-16s, and free for under-10s. Gates open at 1pm.
The bar is open and food is on sale.
Rail strikes are taking place on Saturday, and travel companies are advising that disruption could carry on into the early part of Sunday. However, South Eastern trains are running out of both St Pancras (high speed) and Victoria which go to Sittingbourne.
It’s either a 50 minute walk from the station to the ground or you can take a taxi.
The Sittingbourne FC website provides the following, substantially detailed instructions for those travelling by car:
Set your sat-nav to ME9 8AD (it will take you past our entrance on the left so keep alert!). ME9 8AG will take you into the Kent Science Park so ignore it when the voice tells you turn right but go up the hill and turn left into the ground!
From the M2 exit at Junction 5 or the M20 at junction 7 take the A249 towards Sheerness. If you have taken the A249 from the M20 go straight across the roundabout after approximately 3 miles. Leave A249 at the A2 turn off (this is the first junction after the M2). Go up the raised section to the Key Street roundabout and take the A2 to Sittingbourne.
Cars: After about a mile turn right at Adeleide Drive, just past Wickes. Go to the end of the road and turn left into Borden Lane, and then immediate right into Homewood Drive. At end the of the road turn right into Ufton Lane. At the end of the road by the pub turn right into Park Road (becomes Gore Court Road). At the mini roundabout go straight on into Woodstock Road, Woodstock Road becomes Ruins Barn Road.
When houses disappear after approximately half a mile, turn left (signposted Kent Science Park) into Broadoak Road. Head downhill pass the Science Park on right (HERE, SAT-NAVS WILL TRY TO TAKE YOU INTO THE SCIENCE PARK). Carry on up the hill for another 50 yards, turn left into the car park of Woodstock Park.