London’s oldest senior football ground has received another huge boost as it ramps up to reopen after a two-year hiatus.
The Old Spotted Dog Ground in Forest Gate has hosted football since 1887. However, after Clapton FC lost the lease for the venue in 2019 due to non-payment of rent, the fan-owned Clapton Community FC were awarded the tenure and subsequently purchased the freehold to become the new owners during the summer of 2020. With the ground in a desperate state, supporters set about a huge clean-up operation as well as raising in the region of £20,000 to restore and revamp the clubhouse.
And now, the Old Spotted Dog will undergo a further makeover after it was announced that a grant for up to £50,000 has been awarded by Football Stadia Improvement Fund, going towards the construction of brand new changing rooms.
Following their foundation in 2018, Clapton Community FC, whose Men’s first Team play in the Middlesex County League Premier Division and Women’s first team who play in the Greater Women’s London Football League Division One – have staged home fixtures at Wadham Lodge. But with work continuing at a rapid pace, the club hopes to return to its spiritual home for the start of the 2021/22 campaign.
Annu Mayor, CCFC and OSD Ground Trust member told Yellow Sport: “Putting the OSD back together after years of neglect has proven much more expensive than we feared. We have had some large unexpected one-off costs very early on in the ground’s redevelopment. For example, the clubhouse roof had multiple leaks and practically collapsed with all the rain as we headed towards winter. With the rest of the building now at risk we had to act quickly. It says a lot about our members that we managed to raise enough funds and complete the work in just over seven weeks.”
“We need changing rooms at the ground in order to meet the FA’s National Ground Grading and there are currently none on site. The Football Foundation’s FSIF grant is massive for us as it means we can actually get the work started. There’s more work to come through. Our ultimate aim is for the OSD to become a community hub for Forest Gate. Aside from football-related works, further accessibility provision and safety improvements throughout the ground are all planned for the near future. We want the Old Spotted Dog to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.”