We are sorry to report that Clapton CFC life member Martin McShea has died aged 80.
Martin, a former teacher at St Bonaventure’s in Forest Gate, passed away in Waterford in Ireland last weekend.
Martin was one of the signatories who founded Clapton Community Football Club in 2018 and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. We will hold a minute’s silence at a game at the Old Spotted Dog Ground in due course.
Martin James McShea was born in Woodford, Essex, one of six children. As a child he developed a love for word games (he had a marvellous memory and ability to retain information) and sport. He was a keen tennis player and follower of football.
He attended St Bernadette’s School in Buckinghamshire and later the University of Manchester. He returned to East London to take up a post at St Bonaventure’s School in Forest Gate as a PE teacher.
In 1975 he became an inspirational Head of PE. Among the students benefitting from his tutelage were future international football stars Jermain Defoe and Chris Hughton. Chris later wrote about Martin: “When we reflect on our school days, some teachers stand out in our memories. Martin was one such teacher. He was dedicated and had a great memory for names. Because of his love of sports, especially football, he had a big effect on me in my early and impressionable days and was a big influence on my sporting future.”
Martin’s love of football saw him regularly attend many football grounds in London. He saw Jimmy Greaves’ first goal for Chelsea and the Busby babes at Tottenham before finally settling as a supporter of West Ham United.
Martin was also a man who was conscious of the need to support and be active within his community. Among his roles was as Chair of the Newham Chamber of Commerce, Secretary of the Essex Boxing Association and School Governor.
In 1977, the Old Spotted Dog Ground was owned by Grand Metropolitan who were proposing to develop the site for housing. Martin was part of a delegation that managed to persuade Grand Met to grant a 99-year lease to a newly formed charity, Newham Community Leisure Limited, of which he was an Original Subscriber and Secretary.
Martin was very proud of his Irish and Catholic background and when he retired in 2008, he and his wife Anne and moved to Waterford. Anne is from Waterford, and they had been married there some years before.
Martin’s community activity did not finish at Newham. He became an active member of the Waterford Healing Arts and even found time to be Chair of a local historical society, contributing to a book about Henry II’s landing at Passage East, Waterford in 1171. It is somewhat fitting therefore that Martin’s final resting place is at Crooke Cemetery, just 800 metres from the landing point.
So, as a new era begins at the Old Spotted Dog Ground, please spare a thought, all those watching CCFC week in and week out, for Martin James McShea. A remarkable man who gave so much to his community, without whom, our own great community asset could well have been lost, or become just another housing development as was the fate of those at Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue.
Our sincerest condolences to Anne and the McShea family.
Thank you Martin. May you rest in peace.