Over a period of decades, London’s oldest senior football ground, The Old Spotted Dog, fell into terrible disrepair.
Our members-owned football club Clapton Community FC agreed a lease in September 2019, and then eventually got the keys when we bought the freehold instead in July 2020. The Old Spotted Dog Ground Trust was created to manage the ground.
Since then, the clubhouse and bar has been completely refurbished, and the ground and pitch improved immeasurably thanks to thousands of hours of work by our volunteers and enormous financial investment, including generous donations to a previous fundraiser.
Attendances have averaged around 300 – unprecedented numbers in women’s football tier 6 – to see the team slug it out near the top of the table, play in the Women’s FA Cup and reach a league cup final.
We’ve also been able to host friendlies, charity tournaments and weekly pay-what-you-want youth training, plus lots of events in the clubhouse from film screenings to comedy, homework club to foodbank collection point.
However, without changing rooms on site, the men’s first team have been unable to play competitive matches at the OSDG.
That means we have had to hire pitches all over East London this season for men’s first team home games while we have been working on getting the changing rooms situation sorted.
In December 2022 we were finally able to buy the warehouse next door, which contains the old changing rooms, although they are in a terrible state.
See the Flickr gallery for progress so far…
So now we have another major new challenge…
Making sure the Dog is finally in a fit state to enable our men’s first team to play home games there – and to secure promotion – by the end of March.
Work on the changing rooms is well underway, after we appointed High Five Construction in early March. They and we are confident we will finish by the deadline.
But the task is more than just making sure we have changing rooms – although this is our largest project.
There are also floodlights that need replacing (the cost of which has just jumped up), fencing that needs repairing and numerous other safety improvements.
We have very limited time – the FA need to see our ground is up to standard by March 31 if Geoff Ocran‘s team are to be eligible for promotion.
If we pass this ground grading, we should also be able to end this season with two home games at the OSDG in April and May as we chase down the one promotion spot. That could make for a joyous end to the season if we get everything aligned.
The huge cost of the warehouse, and the cost living crisis, means the funds that Clapton CFC and the Old Spotted Dog Ground Trust have set aside for further essential work are stretched extremely thinly.
That is why the Old Spotted Dog Ground Trust is launching an emergency appeal to raise £15,000 over the next month to help cover the costs.
It’s a big ask at a time when everyone is struggling financially. However, we want both our women’s and men’s first teams playing at the OSD and at the highest level they can next season.
Once all our teams are playing at our home in Forest Gate, it means we can start to properly build our presence in the surrounding community. It means we can offer the opportunities to local people that both the club’s members and the OSDGT have talked about so often.
That’s why we are asking for your urgent help to raise funds for the work needed to make this possible.
Please click on the link below if you can donate, or if you can share the link with friends, family and social media.
The changing rooms refurb were due to cost £51,000 (though this has risen during the project with further costs caused by the leaky roof.
On top of that, we need to pay for a players walkway from changing rooms to pitch; repair the parts of the pitchside perimeter fencing; repair the back rows of the main stand; and improve the floodlights, among other tasks.
£26,066 of the funding for the project is coming from OSDGT reserves. We ran a previous fundraising appeal which contributed £25,077 to those reserves.
However, we had to commit £293,130 to buy the building that the changing rooms are housed in, and construction and other related costs have grown dramatically.
A previous grant of up to £50,000 from the Premier League Stadium Fund for new changing rooms had to be withdrawn as we are now refurbishing existing changing rooms.
We have submitted a request for a different, smaller grant to help towards the remaining amount, which may or may not be successful. Even if successful, there is still a shortfall.