Old School

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Imber Court, East Molesey

Chertsey Old Salesians

The team was set up in 1970 after ex-pupils of Salesian School (formerly Salesian College) wanted to continue to play football together, and at their peak in the ’80s and ’90s they ran seven sides. True to their roots, they still encourage Salesian alumni to join the club, although they welcome anyone to play.

Chertsey’s Salesian School was established in 1921 by Salesian Brothers, a Roman Catholic institute that was formed in the late 1800s with a view to helping disadvantaged children during the industrial revolution. They have several notable alumni, including film director John Boorman, actor Martin Freeman and former Arsenal and England U21 player Ian Selley.

The club have a history of attracting higher-level players to take a step down from semi-professional level as they are impressed by their values and the way the club is run, something that Old Salesians are very proud of.

Alerta!

Clapton FC

The Old Spotted Dog is the oldest senior football ground in London, with Clapton calling it their home since 1888, ten years after their formation. A hunting lodge originally stood on the site, often used by Henry VIII. The grade II listed lodge then became the Old Spotted Dog pub which, after falling into disrepair and eventually becoming abandoned, triggered a campaign by the club to resurrect it.

The club is steeped in history, with club legend Walter Tull being widely recognised as the first black professional footballer in the country, as well as the first black British Army officer. They are also recognised by the Football Association as being the first English club to have played on the continent, traveling to Antwerp in 1890 to beat a Belgium XI 8-1.

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Their connection to the continent also extended to the fans, with a section of the support who modeled themselves on the “ultras” popular in Europe and beyond coming to games in droves, bringing banners and flares to games and campaign against far-right politics. Irreconcilable differences between the fans and the board meant that a new club was formed – Clapton CFC. They pride themselves on the motto “football for all” and provide a warm and friendly environment for refugees and other minorities.

 

North to South

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Reynolds Field, Perivale

Hanwell Town

Nicknamed The Geordies, Hanwell Town were formed in the 1920s by a group of people who had moved to the West London area from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, also adopting The Magpies’ famous black and white stripes as their home colours.

They moved from the Ealing Sports Ground to their current home at Reynolds Field in 1981, which was inaugurated with a match against Tottenham Hotspur. Stephen Pound, the Member of Parliament for Ealing North and Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, used to play for the club before he took up a career in politics.

The ground backs on to the A40 trunk road going through Perivale. It continues to be improved; with floodlights, a new stand and disabled facilities added since the club moved to the area. They also recently built the Bob Fisher stand, in honour of the club’s chairman who has served with them for 50 years.

International relations

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Mile End Stadium, London

Sporting Bengal United

Formed to encourage Asian football in London, Sporting Bengal are unusual in that they are operated by the Bangladeshi Football Association, who use the club to select players for the national team. The club had two representatives in the Bangladeshi national side at the 2010 South Asian Games, which they hosted. Bangladesh won the gold medal at the games, beating Afghanistan 4-0 in the final.

In 2005 they became the first of only two Asian teams to have competed in the FA Cup, alongside London APSA (now named Newham FC). They are also the first Asian team to have reached the 3rd round proper of the FA Vase.

In 1996 a team of Bangladeshi players based in London toured Bangladesh and there was a realisation that many talented players were being overlooked, so a selective team was established along with the UK branch of the Bangladesh Football Association to govern it.

Up for the cup

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Holland Park, London

J.L. Rovers

Competing in the Middlesex County League, J.L. Rovers have ambitions of becoming the first Japanese team to compete in one of the most prestigious competitions in world football: the FA Cup. They were formed 18 years ago, becoming the only Japanese side registered with the Football Association.

Formally known as J-Gaia until 2015, Japan London Rovers are an amateur side who have high ambitions. They have already won the Maeda Gakuen Cup and achieved third place in the international Euro J Cup tournament, a championship for European-based Japanese football clubs. They chose the name ‘Rovers’ to invoke “the journey in search of battle and glory.”

They compete in Holland Park in West London, not far from the ruins of Holland House. In the future they aim to act as a community club for the Japanese population living in Britain’s capital, and have ambitions of growth in all aspects.

The team with a Shene

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Barn Elms, Barnes

 Shene Old Grammarians
Founded over 50 years ago by alumni of Shene Grammar School – now Richmond Park Academy – the team occupy the site at Barn Elms where the students used to play. They compete in the Amateur Football Combination – reportedly Europe’s biggest league.