The Forest Gate Good (and not so) Pub guide - past and present

Friday, 30 August 2013


Friday 5 September sees a  welcome opening of the recently restored Forest Tavern, as the district's most recently face-lifted pub.  It has replaced the former Railway Tavern, on the corner of Forest Lane and Woodgrange Road, in what is rapidly becoming the centre of the recent Forest Gate revival.

The pub is owned by London pub chain Antic, which had its own financial difficulties at the start of this year. Antic's business strategy has been to take over old, run down, pubs in London suburbs that are about to experience a bout of gentrification, as a survey of their website shows.
 
It is a bold move that aims to buck the trend of floods of pub closures, by offering a different product to a younger, more affluent, aspirational market.



Railway Tavern, transformed into Forest Tavern
The national Good Pub Guide, published over the last week has predicted a speeding up of this trend, with only about a quarter of the pubs that are closing to be replaced with Forest Tavern-type locals, catering for a rather different market to that of traditional local boozers.

Antic  doesn't like the term, but the Tavern will become the post code's first gastropub - with relatively expensive, but well prepared and cooked, meals and a fine selection of interesting, and more highly priced, drinks, including many "real ales" and ciders.

It is a tough market they are entering. Pubs are closing at the rate of one every other day, nationally, and that pattern is more than reflected locally. The national trend, coupled with changes to local demography have meant that three times as many pubs have closed in Forest Gate over the last twenty years as currently remain open.

Below, in alphabetical order,  we look at the Forest Tavern's competition - now and then, in presenting Forest Gates own Good (and not so good) Pub Guide!


The survivors

Forest Gate Hotel - Godwin Road. The post code's only remaining pub off a main drag, buried in what in estate agents' speak is now known as Forest Gate Village. Its decor is shabby, and the pub has had its problems with neighbours, noise and drugs over recent times. 

Like all our local pubs, it has had to move with the times and offer more than just booze, to its predominantly white, middle aged, male, manual labour, customer base.  So, there is a limited range of bar meals available, along with regular feature nights.  These include Karaoke, DJ's and a Wednesday night quiz, together with Sunday roast lunches as attractions. There are the inevitable sports screens, and fruit machines, as well as a pool table.

Forest Gate Hotel
The pub is also host to the monthly Giggle Club comedy night and Forest Gap music club.

At the back there is an outdoor smokers' zone and a few tables and chairs, which share the enclosed space with a small car park.  There is a large function room, available for hire, in a stand-alone building.  The pub boasts cheap accommodation on its upper floors.

There is a limited range of drink available, and although a hand pump is in evidence, there's not much sign of real ale being widely available.  A pint of Stella will set you back £3.30.

Fox and Hounds - Forest Lane. Of all local pubs, this is most likely to feel the impact of the Forest Tavern, which is only a couple of doors away. The pub has had its ups and downs over recent years and a few changes of owners, having been closed for a while in 2011.

It is now as close as you'll get to an old east end boozer in Forest Gate, complete with a juke box, a fruit machine, pool table and Sports Bar screens.  There's a stage for live music, discos and karaoke. There is also a paved back yard with tables and chairs, for smokers and others.  While there are bar snacks and food is served on special occasions, there is no standing menu for would-be diners.
Fox and Hounds
There is a relatively limited range of drinks on offer, with no real ale.  Using the price yardstick we have adopted, a pint of Stella will set you back £3.65, the dearest in a Forest Gate local, at present.

The walls are covered with evidence of its involvement in the local community: receipts for charity donations, old local photographs, West Ham memorabilia and death notices of former customers
.
The clientele is almost exclusively older, male and white.  The pub looks like being the face of the old east end, as it continues to look after this traditional customer base, and tries to survive the offer made by the Forest Tavern, to the incoming "Nouveau Forest Gate" younger crowd.

Golden Fleece - Capel Road. Probably Forest Gate's smartest pub, overlooking Wanstead Flats.  It is now owned by John Barras pubs, an old north-east England brewery which rebranded itself in 2010 as a pub chain, along Chef and Brewer lines.  It has over 250 pubs in the group, nationwide.

In addition to being able to spill out on to the Flats on a warm summer evening, the pub has a well established back garden, complete with children's play equipment.  It has a small function room, integrated into the main bar, which is a favourite for wakes and funeral events for the nearby by Manor Park and City of London cemeteries.

Golden Fleece
The Fleece has the most mixed clientele of any of Forest Gate's locals, and the only one to attract almost as many female as male drinkers.  The customer base has a fair sprinkling of young people (with children), middle aged and old, from many races and a reasonable social class mix. Although quite far away, it could be the local whose customers are most attracted to the Forest Tavern, and could end up with a fight on its hands, to retain many of them.

It boasts sports screens and a quiz night every Wednesday.  It has a fairly extensive and reasonably priced pub menu for diners. The drinks offer is extensive, with at least three real ales regularly on supply, and a pint of the ubiquitous Stella there costs £3.54.

Hudson Bay - Upton Lane, located in the premises of the former Co-op supermarket.  This is a typical, pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap Wetherspoons pub. And the formula works for Forest Gate's most consistently busy pub, with a wide-ranging black and white customer base. Like all Wetherspoons pubs, there is an attempt to connect with the local community.  The pub is named in honour of the local nineteenth century landlord, Sir Henry Pelly, who was, for a while, governor of the Hudson Bay Company, which did so much to open up Canada as a British colony. There are also a range of photos on the walls, featuring aspects of local history.

Hudson Bay
The selection of food and drink is wide - along typical Wetherspoons lines, with at least five real ales on sale on the day of our visit, together with a range of interesting ciders, following a recent "cider festival". In common with all pubs in the chain, there is no music, piped, or otherwise and although there are TV screens, they are silent, for sports viewing, as the principles established by pub chain founder Tim Martin are maintained.

Using the adopted price yardstick, a pint of Stella Artois is £3.15 - best value in Forest Gate.

Live and Let Live - 268 Romford Road, located close to the site of the former West Ham Brewery. What was formerly an old boozer, the Live and Let Live has had a facelift and now offers a sports bar (and associated big screens) in the front of the pub and a club setting in the back bar.  There is a paved outside area at the back of the pub, overlooking the Ranks Hovis McDougal bakery, which acts as a smoking area and also hosts a food bar. We were offered a goat stew, when we visited! Not surprisingly perhaps, the back room club is aimed at the local African clientele, and provides music from 11 pm til 4 a.m.

Live and Let Live
There is a limited selection of drinks in the pub, and no real ale.  Using our price guide, a pint of Stella Artois is £3.25 during regular opening hours and £3.75 during club hours.

The Forest Gate Stellarometer

All five of the local pubs sell draught Stella Artois, which provides a handy guide to the prices they charge for drinks generally.  here are the prices, as of early August 2013.

Pub                                       Price of a pint of Stella
Hudson Bay                           £3.15
Live and Let Live (pub hours)  £3.25
Forest Gate Tavern                 £3.30
Golden Fleece                        £3.54
Fox and Hounds                     £3.65
Live and let Live (club hours)  £3.75


The fallen


Below we list those we know of, thanks to an excellent website,


We will return to the history and stories related to some of them, in more detail, over future months.

Albion, 144 Boleyn Road, closed 2002, converted into flats


The Albion
Camden Arms, 70 Field Road, demolished 2008

Duke of Fife, Katherine Road, now partially used as a nightclub

Duke of Fife
Eagle and Child, 112 Woodgrange Rd, closed 2004. This and the neighbouring printworks have been converted to Raymond Chadburn flats, with a pharmacy on the ground floor. It was a well-known pub by 1744, which was completely rebuilt in 1896.


Eagle and Child, as a functioning pub

Earl of Derby, 16 Station Road, closed 2002 and converted into a nursery


Earl of Derby
Forest Glen, 39 Dames Road, closed 2010, awaiting conversion into flats and a restaurant. Currently occupied by squatters.

Forest Glen
Freemasons Arms (called Simpsons from 1980's until early years of this century), 342 Romford Road

Freemasons Arms, later Simpsons, now closed
Gatsby, 176 Woodgrange Road, closed 1993 Short lived pub, also known as Mickey Finns, it is now  a mini market

Odessa Arms, 53 Odessa Road, demolished in 1998

Odessa Arms
Old Spotted Dog, 212 Upton Lane, closed 2004. This pub dated back to 1602 when Forest Gate was forest and was named after royal hunting dogs. Closed in 2004 and in 2009 a notice was posted by the Fire Brigade saying it was a dangerous. For further details of its history and the campaign to save the remaining building, see here.

Old Spotted Dog, in better days, as a thriving local
Princess Alice, 329 Romford Road. It has had an interesting decade since being shown on TV as the location of a "sex slave sale" transaction, under a variety of different names.  It now operates as a multi-national restaurant and all-day buffet.

Princess Alice, 100 years ago - in better days
Travellers Rest, 12 Cemetery Road, now converted into flats

Tower  Arms, 83 Tower Hamlets Road, closed 1996, converted into flats in 2002 Martin Warne tweets: "Not especially attractive, despite proximity". Andrew Jarman is even more frank; "Went in once just before bailiffs seized the contents and closed it down. Filthy dirty hole of a place".  Great to get feedback!!

Tower Arms
Waggon and Horses, 392 Romford Road, became Temptations nightclub.
Recently had licence revoked, following complaints about violence inflicted by bouncers on drunken customers.


Waggon and Horses becomes
 Temptations night club, now closed
White Hart, 249 Green Street. Now the Mango Leaf Indian Restaurant (although it appears that customers can just have a drink there). Also used the names Mo's Bar and Terry Spinks MBE (after local boxer and recently deceased Terry Spinks, who won a gold medal at the 1956 Olympics and went on to be a British Professional Featherweight Champion).

The White Hart, later Spinks, now a restaurant
This will be the last posting on this website for three weeks, as we take a much needed break.  Enjoy the read and the pubs. 

See you at the end of September!

Save the Old Spotted Dog - petition - a week to sign!

Friday, 23 August 2013


The campaign to save the Old Spotted Dog in Upton Lane has organised a petition, with a closing date of 31 August.  You are urged to read the copy below, and if you are sympathetic visit this website and fill in the form, on-line.


Old Spotted Dog, just before closure in 2004

The campaigners write:

Dear Friends,

The Old Spotted Dog on Upton Lane has been empty for too long. Reputedly Henry V111's hunting lodge, it is one of the oldest buildings in East London and the oldest secular building in Newham. It is a scandal that it remains empty, vandalised and unused.

We are setting up a charitable trust to acquire and renovate the building, and set the parameters for its future use.  We are confident that, once restored, The Old Spotted Dog, with its unique history, will attract local people as well as visitors from much further afield. We are campaigning to bring this important community asset back into use.

Dereliction sets in, 2007 - now far worse
Help us to restore the Old Spotted Dog to a hub community interaction, food, drink, culture and heritage.

We need to know what you think.

We have set up an on-line survey which should take only two or three minutes to complete, to gauge your opinions (only one survey per adult, per household, please). To encourage as many of you as possible to respond, there will be a prize draw. You could win lunch for two at the Houses of Parliament with Lyn Brown MP, a strong supporter of the campaign.

You'll find the survey at our website. The survey ends on August 31st and we'd love to get a huge response to show the strength of feeling about this issue.

Campaign poster/leaflet
Please show your support by displaying a blown up, if possible, version of the poster below in your front window.

Campaign poster - put in your window, if possible, please!
Many thanks

Save The Old Spotted Dog Campaign

www.savetheoldspotteddog.org

Undated sketch of the Old Spotted Dog, in its prime
Here is our vision: what we think customers may like (and may not find elsewhere!).:
  • A country pub in the city, homely and welcoming
  • Good quality food, reasonably priced and cooked on the premises
  • Friendly, efficient service
  • A tea room, for those walks in West Ham Park
  • A performance space for music and comedy
  • A warm welcome for families
  • A home from home for the community
For our own potted history of the pub see here

Next week, as the Forest Tavern prepares to open, see here - for our background to the opening - we will be offering a look at the competition the pub will be facing locally, and at some of the recent past of pubs in Forest Gate.

It was thirsty work doing the survey and providing your very own Gaters Pub Guide!

Eighteen full international footballers grace Wanstead Flats

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


As the footballing world prepares itself for the Premier League kick-off, this weekend, we thought we'd focus on a local contributor to much of its talent - past and present.

Wanstead Flats has possibly spawned more international footballers over the last four decades than any other public space in Britain, rivalled only by Hackney Marshes, as the listings in this article suggests.

At least 18 future internationals have graced the local turf, and although many of them could not be considered world beaters, the list is only a goalkeeper short of a team that could, collectively, have qualified in most international tournaments, world-wide, over the decades.

Football on Wanstead Flats
Ten are full English internationals who have accumulated over 430 caps between themselves. Over 150 of Senrab's players have moved on to play professional football.

Senrab FC is a Sunday League football that plays on the Flats.  It was founded in 1961 by Jimmy Tindall, later a youth development officer with West Ham. The selection criteria has been high from the outset; Tindall would only sign young players who had already played for their district, or county. In the early 1970's so many Senrab players signed for Chelsea that former player and current England assistant manager, Ray Lewington, nicknamed the club "Chelsea Juniors".

England Assistant Manager,
 Ray Lewington, nicknamed
 Senrab "Chelsea Juniors"
The club currently operates 15 teams for age groups between 5 and 17 years old. As well as producing a number of future top flight players (see below), Senrab has produced a number of top rate coaches, including Dario Gradi, who until June 2007 was the longest-serving football manager, with Crewe.


Given this remarkable track record, shockingly Senrab ran into financial difficulties a few years back, and one of its much maligned alumina, John Terry, donated an undisclosed sum to keep his junior club going, in 2011.

Hero and villan, John Terry
It is a disgraceful reflection of the state of football in England today that while literally billions of pounds slush around the Sky-tv backed Premier League, the F.A. does, as its name suggests, so little to support the network that grooms and prepares this future talent, in their early and formative years.

It is nothing short of scandalous that a team that nurtures so many players with huge potential - like Senrab - needs a begging bowl to provide the £10k or so per season required to ignite a quality supply chain of footballing talent at local level.

A week's wages for an average Premier League footballer could keep both Senrab and Clapton FC going for a couple of seasons.  Yet both struggle for lack of almost any money at all.

The Wanstead Flats club takes its name from Senrab Street in Stepney, where the players trained, originally.  The name, incidentally is Barnes, spelled backwards - the name of another, local Stepney street.

The illustrious roll of former internationals, in alphabetical order (rather than footballing ability!), includes:

Ade Akinbiyi - b 1974, striker. Career: 1993 - 2010, one full Nigerian cap. He made over 500 professional appearances with over a dozen clubs, scoring 136 goals, including Norwich (49 apps - 3 goals), Gillingham (63 - 28), Wolves (37 - 16), Leicester (58 - 11), Crystal Palace (24 - 3), Stoke (59 - 17) and Burnley (109 - 26). Remarkably, he clocked up £11.5m in transfer fees, mainly generated by current England Under 20 manager, Peter Taylor.  Ade was much derided by many fans, who rather cruelly knew him as "Akinbadbuy".

Ade Akinbiyi
Lee Bowyer - b 1977 in Canning Town, midfielder. Career: 1974 - 2012, one full England cap and 13 under 21 caps.  604 professional appearances (99 goals), with half a dozen clubs, including Charlton (46 - 14 goals), Leeds (265 - 55), Newcastle (98 - 11) and West Ham (60 - 5). Bowyer had a colourful and violent off-field presence, and still holds the record for the largest number of yellow cards imposed in the Premier League.

Bad boy, Lee Bowyer
Sol (Sulzeer Jeremiah) Campbell - b 1974 in Plaistow, and a pupil at Lister school, central defender. Career: 1992 - 2011, 73 full England caps (1 goal).  504 professional club appearances (20 goals), mainly with Spurs (255 - 10), Arsenal (135 - 8) and Portsmouth (95 - 2). His career was blighted by terrace chants about being allegedly gay, and his brother, John, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment in 2005, for assaulting a man in the street  who suggested that he was. Sol has launched a charity - Kids Go Live - aimed at helping inner city kids to see various sporting events.

Sol Campbell: much travelled and much taunted
Ashley Cole - b 1980, left-back. Career: 1998 - to present, 101 full England and 5 under 21 caps. Over 150 appearances (8 goals) for Arsenal and 212 (7 goals) for Chelsea, plus 14 (1 goal) on loan to Crystal Palace. One of the most gifted defenders of his generation, with an off-field lifestyle that offends many unaligned supporters. A distant cousin of Maria Carey, Ashley Cole was, for a while, married to singer Cheryl Tweedy.

Alan Curbishley - b 1957 in Forest Gate, the younger brother of Who promoter, Bill Curbishley. He was a midfielder. Career: 1975 - 1993, one England under 21 cap. Over 450 appearances (36 goals) for: West Ham (85 - 5), Charlton (91 - 6), Birmingham (130 - 11), Villa (36 - 1) and Brighton (116 - 13). Later (1991 - 2008) a successful manager with Charlton and West Ham, against whom he won a Tribunal case for constructive dismissal, when he left the club in 2008.  Now a TV pundit.

Local boy, footballer, manager, pundit Alan Curbishley
Jermain Defoe - b in 1982 in Beckton, and a pupil at St Bonaventure's school. He is a striker. Career 1999 - to date, 53 full England caps (19 goals), 23 Under 21 caps (7) , although remarkably for this number of appearances has never played a full 90 minutes at full international level, having been brought on as a substitute a record 32 times. Over 425 club appearances and over 150 goals, with Spurs (262 - 90 goals), West Ham (93 - 29) and Portsmouth (31 - 15). His half brother, Jade 'Gavin' Defoe, grime artist Escobar, died of head injuries following an assault in Leytonstone in the summer of 2012.

St Bons old boy Jermain Defoe
Ugochuku (Ugo) Ehiogu - b 1972, central defender. Career: 1989 - 2009, 4 full England caps, 21 under 21 caps. 400 first class appearances, with six clubs, principally Villa (237) and Middlesbrough (126).  Now runs his own record label, Dirty Hits and works with the Spurs youth academy.

"One Size" Fitz Hall - b 1980, central defender. Career: 2000 - to date, no caps.  290 professional appearances, principally with Crystal Palace (75), Oldham (41), Wigan (25) and Queen's Park Rangers (85).  Has just missed out on a return to the Premier League with latest club Watford, following their defeat to one of his former clubs, Crystal Palace, in the Championship play-offs, at Wembley.

Vince Hilaire - born 1959, midfielder. Career: 1972 - 1992, 9 under 21 caps. Over 500 appearances with half a dozen clubs, principally Crystal Palace (255) and Portsmouth (146). One of the country's first established black players in the higher echelons of football, who suffered racist taunts throughout his career.  In contrast, affectionate chants of "There's a brown boy on the wing" to the tune of Boney M's "Brown girl in the ring", rang out from the terraces during his delightful tenure at Selhurst Park.

Terry Hurlock - b 1958, central midfielder. Career: 1980 - 1995, 3 England B caps. Over 500 appearances for half a dozen professional clubs, principally Brentford (220) and Millwall (104). A combatative player, or in football parlance "a hard man", who while playing for Rangers, in Scotland, amassed a record number of disciplinary points in a single season.  He was nick-named variously as "Gypo" (because, unusually for the time, he wore an ear ring), "Animal" and "Warlock".  Tony Cascarino once said of him: "Some of us (Millwall) players playfully goaded Terry about what he was going to do to Vinnie Jones, in the upcoming fixture against Wimbledon. Without saying a word, he got up from the table and walked to the entrance to the pub and ripped the door off its hinges."

Muzzy Izzet - b 1974,  midfielder. Career: 1993 - 2006, 8 Turkish caps. Played almost 300 games, mainly for Leicester City.  Now runs a football academy with fellow former football pro Steve Walsh.

Turkish international Muzzy Izzet
Ledley King - b 1980, central defender. Career: 1999 - 2012, 21 England Caps. 268 professional games, all with Spurs. A highly rated, cultured, defender whose career was cut short by a chronic, recurring, knee injury.  It was so bad that he was unable to train, but remarkably still played Premier League football, leading manager Harry Redknapp, to describe him as "an absolute freak".   Currently an ambassador for Spurs.

Cultured and crocked, Ledley King
Paul Konchesky - b. 1981, left back. Career: 1997 - to date, 2 full England caps and 21 under 21 caps. Over 400 appearances with half a dozen clubs, including Charlton (149), Fulham (97), Leicester (81 - not out), and West Ham (59).

Released West Ham junior, Paul Konchesky
Tommy Langley - b 1958, a striker. Career 1974 - 1991, one England under 21 cap. Epitome of the "much travelled" footballer.  He played for over a dozen professional clubs, including Chelsea (140 appearances, 40 goals), Aldershot (81 -21), Crystal Palace (59 - 8). Now works for Chelsea in a variety of media and hospitality-related roles.

Ray Lewington - b 1956. Career: 1975 - 1990.  No representative honours as a player, but currently England assistant manager. Over 400 career appearances, including Fulham (234) and Chelsea (85). He has been caretaker, assistant and manager and coach for Fulham, Crystal Palace, Brentford and Watford, since 1990, and is currently assistant to former Crystal Palace player, now England manager Roy Hodgson, in the national set up.

Darren Purse - b 1977, central defender. Career: 1994 - 2013, 2 under England 21 caps. Over 500 appearances with nine clubs, including Brighton (168), Cardiff (111), Sheffield Wednesday (61), Oxford (59) and Leyton Orient (55).

Darren Purse
Jlloyd Samuel - b. 1981, defender. Career: 1998 - to date, 7 England under 21 caps and 2 full caps for Trinidad and Tobago - having been called up, but never played for the full England team. 300 first class appearances, to date.  He made his name with Villa (169 appearances) and later Bolton (71). Currently playing in Iran.  He was a youth player with West Ham and released on the same day as four others on this list: Paul Konchesky, Lee Bowyer, Bobby Zamora and Fitz Hall - see later. He also played alongside John Terry and Ledley King, at Senrab.

Released West Ham youth player, Jlloyd Samuel
John Terry - b 1980 in Barking, central defender. Career: sometime England captain, with 78 full international caps and 9 at under 21 level. Almost 600 appearances for his only professional club, Chelsea (and 55 goals). The club's most successful captain ever, under whose leadership it has won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two league cups and one Champions League title, since 2002.  Terry is one of only five players to have made over 500 appearances for Chelsea. Outside of Chelsea, he is a much derided player, with a poor off-field reputation, and a charge of racism aimed at Anton Ferdinand to his discredit.

Ray "Butch" Wilkins - b 1956, right side midfielder. Career: 86 England caps. Almost 600 league appearances with 11 clubs, including Chelsea (179), QPR (176), Manchester United (160), Milan (73), Rangers (70), Paris St Germain (13), Crystal Palace (1 - lasting 72 minutes!). Butch has subsequently had a number of manager, caretaker and assistant roles with: QPR, Fulham, Chelsea and Millwall. He was sacked from his last job in football by Chelsea in 2010, and has been a media commentator since and has subsequently faced a conviction for drink driving.

Ray Wilkins: Manchester United,
 Chelsea, Paris St Germain, Rangers,
 Milan, England - and Crystal Palace!
Bobby Zamora - b 1981, attended Little Ilford school, striker. Career: 1999 - to present, 2 England caps and 6 under 21 caps. Over 300 league appearances, with 140 goals  to date, with six clubs, principally West Ham (130 appearances and 30 goals), Brighton (119 - 70) and Fulham (91 -20).  Just relegated from the premier league with QPR.  Subject of much terrace chanting, to the tune of Dean Martin's 'That's Amore', with club supporters singing, in a somewhat dated manner "When the ball hits the goal, it's not Shearer or Cole, its Zamora", to which the opposition fans respond vigorously with "When you're sat in row Z and the ball hits your head, that's Zamora".

Hitting row Z, Bobby Zamora
In addition to bringing through players who became future managers like Alan Curbishley, Ray Lewington and Ray Wilkins, above, Senrab also gave the lower league manager legend that is Dario Gradi (b 19 41) his first break in the game.

Long-serving manage and
 talent developer Dario Gradi
Gradi had a brief, undistinguished, career playing in non-league football in the early 1970s. After a spell as manager at the then non-league Wimbledon, that saw the club enter the Football League for the first time, he had an unsuccessful stint as manager of the then top division Crystal Palace, whom he failed to save from relegation. Since that time he has been in a management and director capacity at Crewe Athletic for most of the succeeding 40 years. 


His remarkable talent-spotting record at Crewe rivals that of Senrab, itself, with the club having unearthed the talents of, among others, David Platt, Rob Jones, Geoff Thomas, Danny Murphy, Ashley Ward, Seth Johnson, Robbie Savage, Neil Lennon, Rob Hulse and Dean Ashton.

A final product of Senrab had an almost equally unremarkable playing career in football, but an impact equal to that of Gradi and Senrab itself. Tony Carr (b 1950) had a brief playing career with West Ham and Barnet in the early 1970s, but switched to youth development in 1973, which he has lead with distinction at West Ham ever since.  


The club's reputation as being "the Academy" is in no small part down to Carr's guile; having Senrab on his doorstep would have been no hindrance, either! He is estimated to have generated over £80 million in transfer fees from the players he developed at West Ham.

No less than seven players, trained by Carr were in the 2010 England squad that went to the World Cup in 2010: Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson and John Terry.  He was appointed MBE in 2010.

For further information see the Wiki pages of each of the players listed (highlighted) or visit the Senrab website.


For enquiries about the club, contact club secretary Tony Carroll on 07531111906, or 0208 504 7079, e.mail tonycarroll1011@hotmail.co.uk. The club is currently recruiting members for each of its teams, for the forthcoming season.

Tons of history

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


As a curtain raiser to the start of the new Essex Senior League season, which kicks off in earnest this Saturday, we have asked Clapton FC fan extraordinaire, Andy Barr, to provide us with a potted history of this great local institution.

We will be following the Tons, on-line, and a little in person - other commitments permitting - regularly from now on.  Why not join us, and support your local club?

For a fixture list, and hopefully regular match reports, check out the Now - Sports page of this website.

FA Cup Qualifying Round 1931: 
Clapton 1 vs Grays Thurrock 0
 ( save by Gray's goalie Willoughby)
Andy writes:

In August 1877, a bare 14 years after the formation of the Football Association – W.R Davies invited his friends to his father’s house at 11 Queensdown Road, Clapton, London E5. From that meeting Downs FC was born.

A year later, the club was renamed Clapton FC, with Davies as the first honorary secretary and treasurer. For three years the club played on Hackney Downs with the Downs Hotel as its headquarters. Then a move was made to Lea Bridge Road where Clapton FC spent most of its early infancy.

Clapton won their first trophy in 1887-8, the London Junior Cup by beating Edmonton 5-0.


Forest Gate Weekly News report
 of Clapton FC vs QPR November 1897

The next season the club replaced St Bartholomew’s Hospital as tenants on the enclosure in Upton Lane, now known as the Old Spotted Dog Ground. The yearly rental of £35, paid to Landlady Mrs Vause, was a considerable sum in those days.
.
Four thousand spectators saw the first game on the new ground when Clapton defeated Old Carthusians, a strong and famous amateur team of the day. By the end of the season, Clapton had also won the London Senior Cup by defeating Casuals at Kennington Oval by 4 goals to 2. The Middlesex Senior Cup was lifted in the same season and a notable result was Clapton Reserves’ 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Northumberland Park.

By now, the Tons were able to hold their own with the best teams in the south of England. In 1890 they crossed the channel and were the first English club to play a match on the continent when they beat a Belgian XI in Antwerp by 7 goals to nil.

At home, Clapton were instrumental in the formation of the Southern League (now Evo Stick League) in 1892 and the following season were one of the original entrants for the first season of the FA Amateur Cup.

Heady days for Spurs! - Forest Gate
 Weekly News report of their game
 at the Old Spotted Dog ground
 to the Tons in December 1896
In 1896, the Tons became founder members of the London League, a competition that included Thames Ironworks (now West Ham United) and achieved the distinction in reaching the final of the London Charity Cup for six successive years. It was after the 1904 final that a discussion that took place between officials of Clapton and Casuals and Mr Henry J Husband that the seeds were sown for the establishment of the Isthmian League. Clapton were runners up in the inaugural season of the league and remained members until 2006.

The first 25 years of Clapton’s history were the years of growth and leadership and  spectacular success.

Clapton FC Ultras, 1937 style!
From 1903-1928, (20 competitive seasons due to WW1) Clapton appeared in 6 Amateur Cup Finals, winning on five occasions. They won the Isthmian league twice, and were runners up four times and, during this period, won, on at least one occasion, every other amateur competition for which they entered. Such a record of accomplishment is second to none in the annals for British football.

1909 Clapton FC, Amateur Cup winning team.
 Walter Tull, front row. Second from right
A  host of International players have worn the red and white stripes of Clapton FC, and former Clapton stalwart Stanley Earle, was the last amateur to play for the full England team when with West Ham United.

Decline, however, began to set in from the 1930's. Other than a seventh position held in 1936, Clapton started to regularly end up in the bottom half of the Isthmian League. The Second World War interrupted the Isthmian campaigns and, as a result, Clapton played in the South Essex Combination.

After Easter 1940, the Old Spotted Dog was used as a munitions store and Clapton moved into Ilford’s Newbury Park ground to play their matches. By co-incidence, Ilford had used the Old Spotted Dog for similar reasons during World  War 1.

Clapton FC, 1943
Clapton never recovered the standards of the twenties when the Isthmian League re-started after 1945. In 1952-53, for the first time in 50 years, the club finished bottom of the League. However, they were still pioneering. On 7th December 1953 the first competitive all- amateur match under floodlights took place at Upton Park when Clapton played Barking in an Essex Thameside Trophy replay. The ground was made available to Clapton by the Hammers to mark the 75th anniversary of the Tons.


Clapton FC home game 25 April
 1940 - note size of crowd

The honours won during the 1960s were mainly confined to three AFA Invitation Cup wins and, following the expansion of the Isthmian League and the emergence of semi – professionalism, the Tons invariably struggled and duly slipped into the lower divisions.

In the 1980 and 90s despite a lack of success on the field, the Clapton stood by their amateur policy. But, sadly, after over 100 years of unbroken membership of the Isthmian League, the club dropped into the Essex Senior League in 2006.

The outstanding achievement of recent years was the establishment of the Clapton Trust which successfully secured a 99 year lease on the ground in 1992. The original members of the Trust, consisted of Clapton members and former Newham Mayor Arthur Edwards.

In securing the ground, against all odds, Clapton has survived, whilst other great east London clubs such as Walthamstow Avenue, Leytonstone, and Leyton are no more.

The club, which is now looking forward to its 136th year, now has every chance of continuing to flourish and it is incumbent upon the present officers and members of the club to encourage more community involvement so that Forest Gate can, once again, identify with their football club which, despite their name, have been resident in Newham, even before West Ham United (Thames ironworks) were formed.