OMG I went to a football match today and I fucking loved it.
Over the last few weeks events at Clapton FC have been the talk of most antifascists groups in London. It started when the Clapton FC chief executive Vincent Mcbean released a statement on their Website entitled “Antifa Statement” on the 20th March 2014. (http://claptonfc.com/word-from-the-spotted-dog-20/) It somehow implies that the supporters of Clapton are doing something wrong by being left wing and antifascist and subsequently the far right had decided to take offence to whatever they were doing. After threats made by the Far right towards the club and the antifa statement in response a lot of the supporters took umbridge to this and letters where sent to the Chief Executive (http://www.blowe.org.uk/2014/03/proudly-anti-fascist-open-letter-to.html) The statement may have been a commercial one or a diversionary one but it created a bit of a storm. With the threat of attacks on the club a call out was made to show some support and that is how I ended up at the Football.
Clapton FC were playing Haringey FC at Whiteheart Lane so we met at Wood Green station armed with flags and banners. Chatting about our experiences of football and our childhood teams. One of our crew had been to the game the week before and told us that it had rekindled his love of the game and that the atmosphere had been amazing. We turned into the ground to find a little turnstile with a few people stood around. “a fiver each and a programme” talk about affordable. As we entered the stand the first thing you notice are the array of flags and banners on display.
The game started with a minutes silence in honour of Hillsborough, during which you could hear a pin drop. Such respect shown and cries for justice for the 96 repeated throughout the game. But the best was yet to come. The football chants sung with the greatest of humour and the proudest vocals I have ever heard. The supporters singing to each other and to the players. Children ran around the stall as fathers sung with their comrades. I don’t have anything to compare it to and have never felt so uplifted to hear such songs. Tony Benn and Bob Crow both honoured in the chants and of course the death of Thatcher touched upon. No Red White and Blue celebrated here, red through and through. As we scored the first goal the red smoke bombs where lit and the celebration electric. It couldn’t get much better than this. A chant for a Senegalese player was so powerful and positive a welcome change from the usual racist chants we have become used to. Music to the ears in more ways than one.
A gentleman came over to me and asked if it was my first game I explained my reasons for being there and he asked me if I liked the feminist banner ” We made it especially for International women’s day” he said. And gave me a brief history of the club and it’s supporters. How it had become what it is today with two local lads on deciding to support their local team and had created an antifascist club. When they started there had only been a handful of supporters and now their numbers were growing. We had our chips at half time, and an amazing cup of Rosie. And the chanting continued relentlessly for the rest of the match.
As the game finished the players left the ground and the supporter sang to them and the players stopped and joined in. I have never seen anything like it. It was amazing to see such mutual respect floating around. We went to leave the ground when one of the elder supporters came over and asked us if anyone had told us about the next fixture and he hoped he would see us again. Of course we said you have totally won us over with the amazing welcome and the friendly atmosphere and the politics added to it a little.
Although we didn’t win today, Clapton Ultras show its not just about the winning it’s very much about the supporters. Delighted by the enthusiasm of the whole day I went away feeling positive and inspired. I can officially say I am a Clapton FC supporter and next week I’ll be wearing the scarf.