Welcome to View From The Opponents. This is a new feature that we will be putting out every week ahead of our upcoming matches this season. This weekend sees National League side Leyton Orient take on The Beachboys at The Aspect Arena and we’ve not got one fan interview… but two.
May 2014. Its the League 1 Play-Off Final between this weekends opponents Leyton Orient and Rotherham United. The game finishes 2-2 after extra time and in front of a crowd of 43,301 at Wembley Stadium, the game goes to penalties. Orient get the upper hand after Rotherham miss their second penalty and they then fail to score their final two penalties. They lose 4-3 on spot kicks and miss the chance to reach the promised land of the English football’s 2nd tier for the first time in 32 years. Rotherham’s promotion brought them 3 seasons in the second tier before finally succumbing to relegation back to League 1 in 2017. That stay only lasted until May this year where once again, they got promoted via the play-offs at Wembley.
It just happened to be that during the summer of 2014 following the defeat at Wembley, Orient was bought by Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti who left the club rot and made plenty of managerial changes during his three year tenure of owning the club whilst not paying the staff on time on multiple occasions. The following season for Orient saw them quite astonishingly relegated in 23rd place down to League 2. From finishing in 3rd to 23rd in the space of a year, this was quite a shock for the O’s.
Their first season back in League 2 after 9 years away saw them finish in 8th place where they were only 2 points off reaching the play-offs before the rot continued again in the following season. The club finished in 24th place and relegated down to the National League where it ended an 112 year stay in the Football League. Now following fan protests, boycotts and the possible threat of liquidation happening, the club was saved by a consortium led by Nigel Travis who is chairman and CEO of Dunkin Brands.
Orient didn’t have it easy in their debut season at Step 5 last season but following a tough start, Manager Steve Davis was sacked and appointed in his place was Justin Edinburgh. Edinburgh brought some much needed stability to Brisbane Road and managed to finish the season with a 13th place finish with 60 points earned whilst guiding the club to the Fourth Round of the FA Trophy where they lost 3-2 at Gateshead in the replay following a 3-3 draw at home.
Things are now starting to be looking better for the club than what they previously were 3 years ago and hopefully, the club will be back where they belong in a few years time.
We spoke with Orient fans Chaz Hawkes and Louise Teenans to find more out about the club.
What has it been like supporting Orient over the last few years?
Chaz: The 3 years prior to last season supporting the club were dreadful since we were one penalty away from the Championship to then sinking down to the National League. It seemed to bring our fan base together and everyone’s love for the club grew deeper. Moments like taking over a 1000 fans to Blackpool on the last day of the season even though we were already down, fans consoling each other when getting relegated at Crewe, seeing loyal staff continue to do their jobs whilst being unpaid for months and although it wasn’t nice to see, it was almost brilliant to see how everyone come together.
Although times were bad, I never thought we would be where we are but in fairness I have actually enjoyed the National League tour. I do hope it doesn’t last too much longer. Last season felt amazing to have our club back although there were some dreadful times in a tricky first season in the National League. However, we have improved under our new manager (Edinburgh), and I honestly believe he is the man to take us back up to the Football League.
Louise: Supporting Leyton Orient is fantastic. We are like one big family from your 1st visit there you feel completely at home. The past 3 years have been tough but we’ve all stuck together and still turned out week after week to support the club we love.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming season ahead for the O’s?
Chaz: This season I believe the target is the playoffs, and anything less than that would be a disappointment. Personally I feel we are definitely strong contenders for promotion. I cannot wait for the new National League campaign to start and look forward to travelling around the country with fellow O’s fans!
Louise: I would love automatic promotion but there are plenty of good teams in the National League. Realistically, reaching the playoffs would be good and I have every faith in O’s manager Justin Edinburgh for doing just that.
Who are the key players that we should be looking out for this Saturday?
Chaz: I think we have a good all round squad, but our key players include Macauley Bonne, James Brophy, James Dayton and Josh Koroma.
Louise: Macauley Bonne and Josh Koroma who are our strikers and James Brophy on the wing who has excellent pace..
We would like to thank Chaz and Louise for being the contributors to this feature that we will be posting ahead of every Concord game this season. We would also like to wish them both and all of the Leyton Orient fans all the best this season. Their Twitter accounts are @LOFCCHAZ & @loubear84 so please feel free to give them both a follow.
View From The Opposition: Leyton Orient – Written By Andy Wilkins/ @andywilkins2015