Groundhop 1881 – Leyton Orient FC

3rd Division (old money)
Leyton Orient FC v Preston North End FC
Saturday, 24th November 2012, 3pm
Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Road
Entrance £18, Programme £3
Distance 27 miles, Attendance 4190
Once my hit list for the season had been finalised, Leyton Orient was always going to be my safety net. If all other plans failed – as the closest 1881 team to Watford – this was the one club I could effortlessly get to. So when the weather turned from bad to appalling in the days leading up to a planned 8hr round trip to North Wales, my attention quickly diverted to East London.

121124 FLDiv3 LeytonOrient v PNE (22)w

Originally formed by the Glyn Cricket Club to keep members fit during the winter months, the team took the name Orient FC in 1888 at the suggestion of one player who worked for the nearby Orient Shipping Line. Within a decade – as Clapton Orient – the club became the first professional side to tour Spain, and the 1937 move to Brisbane Road, Leyton, ultimately lead to the Os getting the name we know today.
121124 FLDiv3 LeytonOrient v PNE (7)wWhilst their golden era came in the 60s and 70s, Orient have spent the majority of their life in the lower divisions; winning Division Three South in 1956. In 1962 they were promoted to the 1st division as runners-up, for the only time in the history. The short stay at the top was followed by the 3rd Division title in 1970 and, an appearance in the1977 Anglo-Scottish Cup Final (when they first came to my attention).
121124 FLDiv3 LeytonOrient v PNE (3)wAs I travelled, the first Os fans started to appear at Bank station; by the time I was walking down Leyton High Road – the street I’d earlier heard Fighting Talk’s Bob Mills so eloquently promote for Mrs Posh Becks – the magnetic aura of the crowd was pulling me along through the rain.
Brisbane Road today is a very different prospect from the one I visited decades before. It now has four good stands with apartment blocks on each corner. Outside the Supporters Clubs and Club Shop were packed whilst inside, the Tommy Johnston Stand provided everything a fan could want for the day.

121124 FLDiv3 LeytonOrient v PNE (38)w

Lining up against fellow 1881 side Preston, Orient were looking for their fifth straight win. Some surface water sat to our left but, fans were in buoyant mood and the players seemed determined not to disappoint. As the sides jostled for supremacy, both Kane and King had good chances for the visitors whilst up the other end, Cook, Cox, Lisbie and Mooney all looked dangerous.
Having already missed a handball in the area, the ref then added to the atmosphere by ruling out a Mooney goal but just prior to the break, Orient rightfully took the lead. From a corner, the forwards worked the ball well and Mathieu Baudry deftly headed in. With the home support chanting, “Oooh Ori-Ori, Ori-Ori Ori-Ori Ori-ent!” at regular intervals, the second period of determined play saw Orient doubling their lead. Mooney sprung the offside trap and passed to Lisbie who hammered a marvellous low drive beyond the outstretched Simonsen.
121124 FLDiv3 LeytonOrient v PNE (57)wIn the remaining minutes the ref was subbed off (without any improvement), Preston laid siege to the goal nearest us, Ryan Allsop pulled off some stunning saves whilst his defence threw bodies on the line to keep the clean sheet, and rain continued to fall. “We’re ‘ome and dry” yelled the man beside me somewhat ironically, as the ball cannoned of the post just before the whistle. It felt like a superb win for the Os; they’d ridden their luck on a heavy pitch, played to their strengths and extended a fine run.
121124 FLDiv3 LeytonOrient v PNE (46)w2Maybe it’s my East End heritage – or a childhood fascination with John Chiedozie and the wyverns on the badge – but I’ve always been drawn to Leyton Orient. Today’s wonderful team effort, engaging fans, friendly stewarding, and even the Hitchcock-like silhouetted man at the apartment window only added to this affinity. Not even the constant downpour could dampen the fateful feeling that I came on the day Lee Cook featured in the programme.
As Rockin’ All Over The World rang out at the final whistle I felt certain that – if things had worked out differently – I would be fairly content supporting the Os.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Initially appearing in this season’s Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently Groundhop 1881 reports will appear late on here. At the end of the journey, a book will be published telling the full story.
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4 Responses to Groundhop 1881 – Leyton Orient FC

  1. Assissi says:

    Lovely piece!

  2. cinzanO biancO says:

    Very nice. But, “friendly stewarding” really!? x

  3. nigelO says:

    Thanks for a nice piece on the O`s hopefully many other football fans enjoy their visit to us.
    Win lose or draw the day can be a good one with a bit of friendly banter and respect for all.
    Pleade do call in the supporters club next time your here you will be welcome,

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