Most derbies are fiery to say the least. But this weekend’s clash between Clapton CFC v Stonewall promises to be a little different.

For a start, both clubs have a great deal of respect for each other.

“We’re good friends with Stonewall,” says Geoff Ocran, player-manager of Clapton.

“We have a similar ethos as well; we have a good affiliation with them. We pipped them to the title last year, it will be a good atmosphere.”

Like Stonewall, Clapton CFC have a strong social conscience. A community focus is at the heart of their existence - the clue is in the name.

That makes this match a perfect one to dedicate to Kick It Out, English football’s leading equality and inclusion organisation.

“I know how the Kick It Out campaign works and campaigning against discrimination is one of our campaigns,” Geoff says.

“It’s just natural that we are going to be linked.”

Transparency and accountability is also central to Clapton CFC, who formed as a breakaway club in 2018.

No fewer than 15 committees are responsible for the running of the club. Each one is made of eight people, who all volunteer their time for free. They are supported by more volunteers who help out when they can.

“Democracy always wins,” says Geoff, who is in the increasingly-rare position of balancing coaching duties with playing.

“I don’t force myself to play, I just play when I have to. It’s hard to do both sides. I put a good team together so when I’m playing I can leave everything to them and focus on playing.”

This weekend Clapton CFC will be demonstrating their community spirit once more.

Hackney-based migrants group Akwaaba will team up with young fans at the game to help design and stencil their own shirts. And the club will be collecting food and toiletries for their 2019/20 charity partners, the Magpie Project - a charity based in Forest Gate to support mums and young children who live in temporary and emergency accommodation.

Entrance will, as always, be free to ensure everyone can come along. But the club do welcome donations, with a suggested £3 for those in employment.

Hot food will also be on sale, with vegetarian and vegan options available.

Despite playing in the eleventh tier of English football, Clapton regularly attract crowds in the hundreds.

“We had 600 who came to our last game with Stonewall. And we had 1200 at the last game of the season,” Geoff tells Kick It Out.

“It’s good because it’s special for the players at our level. For players who will never get to that step it’s just an eye-opener and it’s a little bit of fame as well. It’s a taste of what it must be like at a higher level. A lot of them do embrace it.”

Geoff also praised the club’s fans, who back their team in more than just numbers.

“Our fans are very supportive. They will always support the team regardless. It’s a different ethos.

“At other clubs if you put in a bad performance they [the fans] are going to let you know about it.”

 Words: Steve Jones