‘A great day for Clapton FC and non-league football’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 May 2016
Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League
Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy final memories of Danny Potter
Danny Potter got caught up in the ultra exciting atmosphere at the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy final as Clapton beat Stansted to lift the silverware.
He tells his tale here:
After running for my connecting train at Wickford and nearly missing it, once in the empty carriage my thoughts turned to the cup final and the Clapton fans.
I could safety assume their mode of transport would be considerably a lot louder than mine, as I sat in the quiet carriage, for the now short journey to Burnham on Crouch.
In my excitement to join the travelling Clapton fans I arrived at the picturesque village of Burnham slightly early.
So after a quick tour of its finest drinking establishments, I headed to the ground just as the first coach of Clapton fans were entering the car park.
A tranquil environment of Stansted supporters was broken moments later as Tons fans scattered through the very tight turnstiles one by one.
By this stage both sets of players were deep in their preparations, with Clapton participating in a quick one-touch drill and Stansted in a last-minute pep talk.
As both teams disappeared down the tunnel the fans were making their final preparations too.
Out came the banners and as the last minute beer buyers fought their way into the action, a lone voice from the back of the stands signalled and then led the fans in a respectful chant of justice for the 96 ater the recent findings this week, that Liverpool fans were not responsible for causing the tragic events which unfolded at Hillsborough.
My friend and I were less successful, me angering a fellow Claptom supporter by stepping on his foot (sorry again!) and my friend taking a bag to the face. So for the game we stood in the more subdued section with the Stansted followers.
The players stepped out to the traditional raucous reception as the game got underway and it did not take long for the flares to be set off as Clapton took the lead.
A young girl in a green tutu carried a Clapton flag, a good three foot taller than her, in celebration and brought behind her the travelling flare smoke which seemed to be a double smack to the face for the Stansted fans.
One goal down in the cup final and now choking on Clapton’s celebrations: it cleared the stand.
The Tons made it 2-0 with a penalty before half time, a scoreline which was not lost on both sets of supporters as a game had unfolded exactly in the same way last week between the sides before Stansted performed a late comeback.
While Stansted fans were complaining that the referee gave the penalty but the linesman did not, the Clapton fans more eloquently described the situation, as one fan commented that he had a “nauseating sense of déjà vu.”
It seemed the only real worry for Clapton fans was managing to purchase a beer and return for the second half, and many did not.
There are many positives to having a huge fan base at non-league level but one negative, is long beer queues!
The second half kicked off with Clapton continuing their dominance and all talk of déjà vu was put to bed as they went three goals to the good.
I must confess I missed the third goal, as I was in deep conversation with an elder gentleman, who had moved to Southminster but had first seen Clapton with his father as a child in the 1950s.
He reassured me there was no way back for Stansted now and he was proved right, as Clapton added a fourth.
With chants of “we want five” booming, the final whistle blew not long after. Cue the pitch invasion.
As the Clapton fans charged onto Leslie Field the announcer practised his best Alan Partigdrige voice asking “can all Clapton fans get off the pitch.”
This would not be enough to dent the celebrations, as in true Graeme Souness style a Tons banner was planted on the centre circle by two fans.
The celebrations continued, as another announcement was made and the Clapton fans this time respectfully left the pitch.
As they left, they produced a huge replica cup for the players. And inevitably in true Clapton style a flare ended up in the cup.
Once the pitch was clear the official proceedings could begin. Clapton collected their medals, as Stansted players respectfully watched on.
Cue players, captain, manager, fans and a champagne popping sub all in harmony in celebration.
Stansted cannot be forgotten in this final and they were not forgotten by the Clapton fans who sang “Well played Stansted” which you could see meant a lot to the Stansted players.
As the celebrations continued, my friend turned to me and said “Forget the Premiership, I might follow non-league now.”
All in all it was a great day for Clapton and a great day for non-league football.