Clapton’s Walther gunning to sting the Bees in opener

PUBLISHED: 13:00 05 August 2015

Clapton's Michael Walther (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Clapton's Michael Walther (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League

Essex Senior League starts this weekend and the Tons are looking to progress even further this year

Clapton's fans have made a name for themselves in recent seasons (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)Clapton's fans have made a name for themselves in recent seasons (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Clapton manager Michael Walther is hopeful that the Tons can build on the success they achieved last season and start the Essex Senior League campaign in style with a win against Basildon United at Gardiners Close on Saturday.

The Old Spotted Dog outfit reached the final of the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy and League Cup last year, but were defeated in both finals.

An eighth-placed finish was also secured in the league and a triumph against the Bees is how Tons would like to start the season.

“On Friday I was watching Bowers & Pitsea against Canvey and sitting next to Basildon player-manager Craig Gillam and his assistant Lee Connor, so we know each other,” said Walther.

“They would say something to me to see if I would bite and I would say ‘don’t put the boots on this Saturday Craig, I think you should stay off the pitch’ so we’re all trying to wind each other up.

“We know it will be a good atmosphere and if we can get off to a good start it will set us up nicely for the rest of the season because Basildon have brought in some players from the Ryman North.

“They seem like they are trying to achieve something this year, so if we beat them it will show where we are at and what we can do.”

Clapton host Eton Manor on Tuesday (August 11) and the Ultras will see a much-changed side this year compared to last season.

But the Tons’ incredible support has played a part in them bringing fresh blood in this summer for the new league campaign.

Walther added: “We are ready, we have had a reasonable pre-season and we have literally only got four players from last year’s squad.

“It is a new team, but I think we will be stronger. I guess we will have to wait and see how we do, though, before making judgement.

“Everyone is gelling really well and we seem to be attracting players that are moving from Surrey and Sussex to London for work because they have heard of the Clapton Ultras!

“Obviously if they’re working in London they are more professional straight away compared to what we have had before and that is easier because the dressing room wasn’t always easy last season.”

The staff has changed this year with Walther sad to see Marc Nurse leave to become manager of the West Ham Ladies team.

That has given Peter Harrington and Dan Portsmouth an opportunity to come in as assistant manager and first team coach respectively, while Andre Thomas is also a coach and will be in charge of the reserve team.

Walther believes that will help add to the more professional approach the Tons are taking this season, but he did reveal he was frustrated to lose the talented Shomari Barnwell, who has joined Ryman North side Romford.

“Unfortunately we have lost Shomari,” added Walther. “That is a blow and he will be a big miss, but we have guys at the club with a great attitude.

“All of them can play 120 minutes, they’re all really fit and very professional so it’s a bit like chalk and cheese when you compare the squad we had last year to the current one. I definitely think we’re stronger this season.”

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