While I grew up watching and (poorly) playing football, I’ve always felt I had something missing in my life: a club that I love and could go to with the people that I love. I feel a bit of a fraud being a Liverpool “fan”; neither I nor any of my family are from Liverpool, nor have any of my parents or relatives supported them, I have been to Anfield twice to watch friendlies, and I generally feel a little uncomfortable with modern football and all that comes with it. Being from south Cumbria I could have supported Barrow, Carlisle or Morecambe, but have never felt much of a connection with them. Clapton has filled a void.
Having read a Jacobin article in my first year of uni, I had a hunch that the scaffold was the place for me, and it turned out to be true. My first game at the Old Spotted Dog was in 2016; all I can really remember is that it was a Tuesday night, I was offered some delicious home-made snacks and that I had a great time and fell in love.
The things I love about CCFC are almost innumerable: picking up songs, piece by piece, until the words are burned in my heart; the echo of chants against buildings opposite; seeing the club and the community around it grow; the welcoming and jovial atmosphere; the (almost always) light-hearted fishing with opposition players and officials; the fact that win, lose or draw, home and away I’m back again. But one of the most special things has been that it has brought my sister and I closer together. I invited her along on a whim, not really expecting her to come and love it (although I’m yet to bring anyone who hasn’t had a great time). We have since bonded over our mutual love, grown closer and brought friends to share in the sorrow and in the radical happiness and collective joy that everyone has contributed to.
We have both finally decided to pull our weight, and have joined the grounds committee, which has been great – it’s quite the feeling filling a skip in the morning and then taking your aching body to see the Tons win. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, contribute to the club and maybe be a part of CCFC club history – how many can say they were there when the mummified fox was discovered, you can’t fake that!
While it is difficult to pick a favourite moment, I would say us winning the league in our first year as a club in the sun, singing with so many joyous folks in the stand at the Stray Dog (“look at us, we built a stand”) on what was also my birthday was one of the best days of my life.
However, the ultimate honour came when my sis and I were considered worthy of writing a Clapton member’s story, amongst so many other lovely Claptonites.
Like Ed, I grew up playing football, and like Ed I’ve never had a ‘team’ (although Arnside Girls Football club did have a loyal following of dads, for whose support we were of course very grateful).
I’d been living in London for a few years before Ed brought me along to my first match, and although I love London, it’s so massive that I’ve never felt much sense of community. However, from the first game I felt so welcome; partly because I could latch on to my brother’s mates, partly because I was a bit drunk, and partly because I felt like the club did so much to include women.
For me, the mummified fox we found at the Old Spotted Dog on the recent ground clearing day was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen in my life; second only to the half of a dead mouse we had found earlier that same day. But I love getting stuck in and feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to get involved in such a great project with such a solidly good group of people.
But mostly I love coming to the matches to have a sing-song with Ed. He always brings the best vibes and is so good at corralling the crowd – I always feel very proud to stand next to him and be his sister.