According to the AA route planner Clapton FC is six minutes drive from West Ham’s Upton Park.
But their ground – the magnificently named Old Spotted Dog – is in a different sporting universe.
Clapton play in the Essex Senior League, five rungs below the football league.
Two seasons ago their usual crowd was 25.
But then – largely as a political protest at the overpriced and aloof professional game – some east London based fans of various clubs decided to start following Clapton.
The Ultras – as they call themselves – brought singing, drinking, flares and anti-fascist punk rock politics to a league that still doesn’t know what’s hit it.
I called in at the Dog where Essex league rivals Barking were the visitors for an FA Vase early kick off.
I joined the Ultras on the tiny scaffolding terrace for a couple of hours of joyous chanting for slightly-embarrassed home players and against bemused visitors.
We counted 146 in the ground which might not sound many. But if you start at 25 and do the maths thats like Man City’s attendence rising to 274,000 in a couple of seasons.
Official non league attendences seem to come from a random number generator so that was 119 – still the ighest in the Vase that day in east London and Essex.
Despite the declared anti-fascist nature of the home fans there was no censorship of the football banter – with officials and opponents getting plenty of stick.
There were flares and the atmosphere was undoubtedly helped by the fact that at this level no-one stops anyone drinking.
I’m sure the clever song “Good decision referee” helped most 50-50 whistles go the way of Clapton.
Despite taking abuse himself the Barking manager cane over after the game and said “that was magnificent Clapton fans.”
His mood was probably helped by the visitors winning one-nil. But that didn’t really matter.
The attendance and the fans were more important than the match result.
So I’ll be going back.
Unfortunately the next two games were postponed because of floodlight problems – life is precarious at this level of football.
Clapton need to build a regular fan base – but like St Pauli, Hamburg’s punk rock football team, they could also do with the passing football tourist.
Fans of football, anarchy, or social movement living in or visiting London could do worse than visit the Old Spotted Dog, Upton Lane, E7 9NP. Nearest station Forest Gate.
Admission is £6 for adults with concessions. The football probably isn’t worth it – but the overall package definitely is.