Leyton Orient FC are a football club based in Leyton in the east end of London. The club were formed as Glyn Cricket Club in 1881 playing games at the cricket ground, changing their name to Eagle Cricket Club in 1886 and then Orient FC two years later at the request of player Jack R Dearing who was an employee of the Orient Shipping Company.
In 1896 the club gained acceptance to the London League, changing their name to Clapton Orient two years later as they moved into Writtle's Athletic Ground in Clapton. In 1900 the club moved to a new stadium at Millfields Road, joining the Southern League in 1904 and then the Football League Division Two a year later.
The 1914-15 season was the last before the outbreak of World War One, with forty one members of the clubs players and staff joining up with the 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, which was also known as the Footballers Battalion. A crowd of 20,000 turned up for the final game of the season against Leicester Fosse which included a farewell parade. Three players gave their lives during the conflict at the Battle of the Somme.
As a show of gratuity for their efforts, the Prince of Wales; later to become King Edward VIII, became the first royal to attend a Football League game when he appeared at the home game with Notts County on Saturday 30 April 1921. In 1929 the team were relegated to Division Three South with worse to follow a year later after a greyhound company bought the stadium and made 'The O's' stay there untenable.
In 1937 Clapton Orient moved to Brisbane Road to take over from Leyton Amateurs and to reflect this, they changed their name to Leyton Orient after World War Two. In 1956 the team lifted the league title and were promoted to Division Two. They finished second under the managership of Johnny Carey in 1961-62 and were promoted to the top flight. Future owner Barry Hearn fell in love with the club during this period. Unfortunately their spell in Division One lasted just one season.
To see the comeback v Chelsea, click on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjX_e_aQGg8
Sadly, the 80's saw two relegation's with the club finding themselves in Division Four. During the summer of 1987 the club were renamed Leyton Orient, which seemed to work as a season later under Frank Clark, The O's went up via the play offs. Club owner Tony Wood's coffee business in Rwanda was lost during the country's civil war, which led to future of Orient being put in doubt. A documentary called 'Orient; club for a fiver' was broadcast featuring an incredible half time rant from manager of the time John Sitton.
To watch the rant (warning; foul language) click on - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg_lPJ8hHP0
Automatic promotion was won in 2005-06 after a last minute Lee Steele goal at Oxford also relegated the home side to the Conference. After a season or so of consolidation Ling moved on after a poor run to be replaced by Gerraint Williams who fared little better. Russell Slade was appointed in April 2010 with the team facing relegation, but the new boss inspired his charges to a late run to secure their place in the third tier.
In the 2010-11 the club embarked on an excellent FA Cup run, which was only ended after a fifth round replay against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Slade continued to improve the playing squad, while Hearn ran the club in a sensible manner while attempting to seal a join tenancy with West Ham United at the Olympic Stadium. While those attempts looked to have failed in December 2012, rumours were also abound that the club may look to move to a new town such as Harlow or Basildon to re-invigorate their support.
Slade built a fine young side, aided by loan signings and got his reward at the end of the 2013-14 season when the O's reached the play-offs. Peterborough United were dispatched to set up a Wembley final against Rotherham United. Orient led 2-0 at half time thanks to strikes from Moses Odubajo and Dean Cox but the Yorkshiremen drew level and eventually won promotion in a penalty shoot out.
Hearn sold the club in the summer of 2014 to Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti. Within a couple of months Slade departed to take up the managerial reigns at Cardiff City with Mauro Milenese and then Fabio Liverani failing in the hot seat. Liverani was dismissed in May 2015 with the club relegated to the bottom tier.
Former O's defender Ian Hendon was appointed as the new team boss with assistance from Andy Hessenthaler, as they looked to rebuild the side.
Leyton Orient FC will play in Football League Two in the 2015-16 season.
Orient 4 Hull City 5 (Saturday 10th November 1984) Division Three (att: 2,365)
My first visit to Brisbane Road coincided with probably the most dramatic football match I've ever had the privilege to attend. The Tuesday previously I had been at Hull City v bottom of the table Cambridge United. City were trailing late on when my much missed mate Nick Groombridge said he'd go to Orient with me if they somehow turned it round. City won 2-1 but Nick didn't go with me, much to both our regrets.
I travelled alone on the train using my young persons railcard. It was only something like £14 return back in those days, and I spent the lunchtime wandering around the bright lights of the West End and Carnaby Street before taking the tube east.
Several of my pals from Brid had made the journey south on a supporters coach and were already there enjoying the rare treat of a bar at the back of the open South Terrace. The opposite North Terrace was pretty similar; a decent bank of steps with high fences at the front. To the right was the Main Stand with seats at the rear of a paddock and a gable towards the north end. Opposite was the West Stand, which was once a covered terracing, but now converted with backless bucket seating.
City's promotion dreams had taken a massive hit in the corresponding fixture the previous season, and Brian Horton's charges started even worse, despite the singing from a large group of City fans down the side and a decent contingent behind the goal. Orient led 3-0 after half an hour, with The Tigers truly toothless. I got a decent ovation for my display of keep-me-uppy in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere as another shot just missed Tony Norman's goal. On the stroke of half time a Billy Askew corner went directly into the net to offer us hope.
That seemed to be extinguished as a real rasper found the top corner of the City net from outside the box. Player Manager Brian Horton was taking some real abuse from the travelling fraternity, and then out of nowhere something clicked. With twenty minutes remaining they pulled what we thought to be a consolation goal back. However, the away end and lads in the seats had cause to go berserk as goals from Steve Massey, Billy Whitehurst and Andy Flounders won the game. Not even the gaggle of youths hanging around on the park behind could upset us.
On my way back to Kings Cross on my own a group of lads approached me. I was a bit concerned as they were Lincoln, who City had a bit of a ding dong with on the opening day of the season as well as a few of us being chased after the game across the High Street. As it happened they were amazed about our game and one of them just wanted to tap a cigarette. I had never been so happy to oblige!
Leyton Orient 3 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 22nd August 1987) Division Four (att: 3,540)
This was Scarborough's first Football League away game and I travelled with driver Doomy, Mick Young and my brother Nick after being picked up on completion of my postal round at 10am. The weather on a warm day turned for the worse as we approached Cambridge on the way to the M11. The rain bounced down with visibility down to a minimum, with us half expecting the game to be off.
Eventually we drove through it and after plenty of confusion around the one way streets of Leyton we found the ground and got parked up without any hassle at around 1.30. After a wander about we went into the open away end, where eventually around two hundred fellow Boro fans joined us. About five minutes before kick off the storm caught up with us again. To their absolute credit Orient moved their home fans along from the near section of the Oliver Road Stand and let us in under the roof.
We were even more heartened as Neil Thompson scored with a skidding shot from twenty five yards. Unfortunately for us Orient got to grips with all yellow clad Seasiders and went on to win the game 3-1. We weren't too upset, because we knew as a fledgling club we would suffer some defeats along the way.
On the way home we called in at the horrible Belle Vue Doncaster where we were to visit the following Tuesday in the League Cup. A kind man took us up into the Main Stand and explained that the Popular Side had been demolished and the tiny caged away end was all that was left of a previously decent sized bank.
We got back at about 9.30 with me heading to the Clifton Hotel for Dave Hesseltine's wedding reception, where plenty of the guests all wanted to know about the match and day out!
Leyton Orient 2 Scarborough 0 (Sunday 21st May 1989) Division Four Play Off Semi Final First Leg (att: 9,298)
Boro just missed out on automatic promotion, finishing in fourth place. As a consequence we were paired with the sixth placed O's in the play offs with the first leg in east London. The game was to take place with a midday kick off, the day after the FA Cup Final.
This had brought about enough drama on its own. I went off to play cricket from Civil Service at Oriel and arrived home in Highfield just after full time following an easy win to be greeted by a group of mates surrounding my landlord Steve Walker on top of the dining table bereft of its legs. He had put a bet on for the game to finish 2-2, which it did after ninety minutes. In celebration he thought it a good idea to get heavily stuck into a bottle of Ouzo that someone had brought back from a holiday. He was now unconscious.
This was a bit of a problem as we were all heading down town. We did the decent thing and rang his girlfriend to come and look after him.
The town centre was buzzing as it was back in those days, with plenty of anticipation amongst the lads travelling south a few hours later. Most were trying to be sensible and have an early night. Well that was the plan anyway. I left the Talbot at midnight and returned to the land of the living dead for five hours kip.
The gas board/post office mini bus picked me up at the bottom of the hill. I was not in pristine condition, but still stuck to my vow of turning up in full Boro kit. A pair of work Doc Marten shoes completed the outfit. Gradually the crew started coming round and a few beers were consumed. We got to the ground at around 11.30 along with the rest of the Seadog masses, of which there must have been at least 1,500. I bought my first ever football fanzine on the way in from a street vendor knocking out copies of When Saturday Comes.
Boro didn't play to their best during the game, against a good O's side roared on by plenty of floating fans as well as their regulars. The game ended in a disappointing two nil defeat on a scorching day.
Action from the game can be seen by clicking on the links:
The bus journey home seemed to take for ages, although we conveniently got back just before opening time. It turned out that we'd arrived home very early compared to fifty other Seadogs who travelled on a private hire bus under the steam of the ultra unreliable but cheap Primrose Valley Coaches. It broke down on the A1 on the way back. My brother was on board and its one of his and most of the others favourite ever trip.
A new bus would have to travel down from Filey and would take several hours, so the punters considered how to get some ale, this being in the days of pubs shutting at 3pm. They used their initiative and went to the Little Chef, who served alcohol but only if food was ordered. By all accounts the order was ten plates of chips and fifty beers. Games of football broke out on the hard shoulder before someone saw the village of Sawtry across a field. The hordes marched on mass and drank the village dry converting one landlord into an instant Boro fan. The replacement coach arrived, but the lads would not be moved until closing time. They quite reasonably argued that they'd been kept waiting for five hours, so now the drivers could.
I am so gutted I wasn't on board!
I was on a day off work and groundhopping around clubs in east London and Essex, with the Matchroom Stadium, near to being my last call. Unfortunately the ground was all locked up, so I did the best I could in the way of photos through gaps in the gates.
Thursday 20th September 2012
Another fruitless visit as above. The day wasn't a total waste as I found where the Supporters Club bar was located as well a finding the superb King William V pub in Leyton, which was the brewery tap of Brodies Brewery.
Leyton Orient 1 Scunthorpe United 3 (Saturday 15th December 2012) Football League One (att: 4,942)
I arrived at the stadium to find a large queue at the ticket office as the club had offered a voucher scheme at reduced prices for the game. The reduction in prices had obviously worked. After ten minutes in the line I was told that the collections queue was at the end with hardly anyone waiting. Still, not to worry, I was in my excellent seat next to my mate with pie and drink in hand from the sensibly priced catering stall before kick off.
Leyton Orient 1 Hull City 2; after extra time (Tuesday 15th January 2013) FA Cup Round Three Replay (att: 3,601)
Despite City's abysmal performance at home to Sheffield Wednesday the previous Saturday, I decided to give them another go on a bitterly cold night. The3 added attraction of sampling some fine Brodie's ale at their brewery pub; The King William IV in Leyton being an added feature. After some fine Citra bitter I took the bus that dropped me a goal kick away from the ground.
I paid my £15 and grabbed one of the few remaining programmes as the stewards were caught out by the numbers coming through the gate. The catering at Brisbane Road once again seemed sensibly priced. Producing a large pot of soup was definitely welcome! I went upstairs, where the stewards sensibly allowed standing, but only on the back six rows.
The game was certainly not brilliant but it was a vibrant cup tie lacking in quality. City took the lead with a great goal from Nick Proschwitz just before the break. Keeper Eldin Jakupovic had miraculously recovered after being stretchered off a few days previously but he did little to enhance his reputation after Saturday's nightmare.
In the second half The O's gave it a real go but looked unlikely to score. Paul McShane was immense at the back for The Tigers. A strong City line up showed their class at times on the good surface which got slippy as the night went on. It getting ever colder, so I wasn't exactly joyous as a deflected cross floated over Jakupovic with three minutes to go, at the same time Glen Murray rendered my coupon useless elsewhere with an equaliser for Crystal Palace.
It looked nailed on for penalties after both sides cancelled each other out in extra time but a Tom Cairney shot slipped past Jamie Jones to seal the tie with three minutes of the tie remaining.
Top marks to the O's stewarding. I rarely go into segregated away sections but I thought they were top class, as they opened up a second block to accommodate an away following of over 600 fans. Somebody's confiscated hip flask was handed back with a smile and a handshake at full time.
Also as mentioned earlier, it was top drawer catering. Still not dirt cheap, but very sensible for a league ground. I paid £3.80 for an excellent Pukka Pie and a cup of proper soup. The service from the ladies was prompt and came with a smile. There was no gormless disinterested students topping up their grants or pocket money.