19 April 2014

Crawley Town 2 Leyton Orient 1, 18/4/14

A game in which... it was proved that in millions of years' time, as the dying embers of the sun throw their last feint light on our doomed planet, an Orient team of the future will still be losing to Crawley. Yep, it's played four, lost four against this glorified Conference side and, to be honest, Orient aren't likely to beat anyone in this sort of form. Except Gillingham, obviously.

Let's keep things in perspective: we're in the play-offs (yay!) and it's certain that there Orient will not put in the sort of tired, lacklustre performance they did at the Checktrade.com stadium. But one win in seven is a worrying statistic and by the time 10 May comes around this marvellous group of players will need to find some extra reserves of energy to try to get us over the final hurdle.

Moment of magic... Shaun Batt's brilliant, heavily-disguised dummy in the dying seconds which, to anyone who's watched more than seven seconds of football in their entire life, might have looked like a jaw-droppingly embarrassing air kick but in fact was a ploy that allowed the ball to run through to an unmarked David Mooney. Probably.

Moment of madness... Crawley's second goal, in which Adam Drury was afforded so much space and time in the Orient penalty area it's a wonder he didn't pop to the local shops and back to get a few things in for the Bank Holiday weekend while he was waiting for the ball to plop on to his head.

Top gun... Selecting a man of the match is a tough one, as this was a performance of collective mediocrity. Let's give it to Jamie Ness, then, purely on the basis that in only being on the pitch for a few minutes, he had less opportunity to give the ball away than the rest of the team. Still managed it a couple of times though, to be fair.

Mathieu Baudry
Little donkey... Oh Mathieu Baudry. Whereas usually the Frenchman dismisses the advances of League One strikers with nothing more than a slight drop of the shoulder and an inquisitively-raised eyebrow, today his performance stunk like a rotting block of Camembert. One pass in particular - straight to an onrushing Crawley attacker (don't know which, so let's pretend it was Gary Alexander) - was the poorest example of French decision-making since Napoleon Bonaparte announced "I reckon we can take Waterloo" in 1815.

In the dug out... "We still pushed them all the way," said Russell Slade after the game which, even if true, is a somewhat underwhelming ambition for a team challenging for promotion playing against mid-table strugglers. Still, the big man is toying with his tactics, resting players and presumably has his mind on the play-offs, so we shouldn't be too hard on him. Though it has to be said: we're not going to get very far if our only tactic whenever Chris Dagnall is playing is to boot the ball over the top and watch him scuttle after it like a minor-league Toxteth drug dealer on the run from the bizzies.

View from the opposition... "Kyle McFadzean is my John Terry," said Crawley boss John Gregory after the game, presumably not implying that his central defender is a racist adulterer. But he did go on to say that playing Orient would be "incredibly difficult", suggesting his scouts may well have attended the Gillingham game, but probably not Bradford.

Not Dean Cox
Tweet of the week... "Not everyday I get stopped in south woodford and asked if I want some weed" tweeted  Dean Cox this week, presumably furious he couldn't find the coke, pills and ketamine he was actually after. I jest, of course, if you happen to be reading this and you're a lawyer. It was actually growth hormones he wanted.

17 April 2014

"This team are more like brothers than team mates" - Errol McKellar interview

As one of the longest-serving members of the Orient backroom staff, Errol McKellar has seen a few things. 

Here the youth coach gives his insiders’ view on the success of this season, the challenges of bringing through young players and why he offers customers a 20 per cent discount at his car garage if they get checked out for prostate cancer...

Errol, so far this is the most successful season in your 16 years at Orient. What’s the secret of this success?
I’d say this management team is very close to being as strong as it gets. Russell Slade is exceptional in getting players to raise the bar in whatever they’re doing. And the team spirit: they’re more like brothers than team mates. They’re very close – I don’t think there’s anything they can’t achieve.

Moses Odubajo, who came through our youth system, has been a vital component of the team this season. What are the challenges to bringing more players like him through at Orient?
Our programme is very strong. We’re a small club, but what we can say to people is that if you come here, you have a chance of playing in the first team. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve always had managers who are brave enough to give younger players a chance. If they’re good enough they work with the first team. If we can produce two or maybe three players a year that make it through then that means it’s working for us.

You’ve worked with some great players in your time – David Beckham, Ledley King... erm, Billy Jones. Who’s been the most impressive?
Well, I worked with David Beckham from when he was eight until 12 years old. I coached Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole... I worked with Kevin Lisbie for two years as a youngster. It’s hard to say who’s the best. But I’m passionate about the players I work with at Orient. It’d be unfair for me to single one out.

Errol in action for Men United
You’ve been heavily involved with Prostate Cancer UK after suffering from the disease yourself. When were you first diagnosed?  
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 after my wife insisted I go to the doctor to help sort out my snoring. While I was in the waiting room I picked up a leaflet which was encouraging men to take a PSA test, which can detect early signs of the disease. Little did I know the next 10 minutes would change my life. The test indicated some problems and it amplified from there: they told me my prostate was covered in cancer and that it had to be removed.  Thankfully four years later I’m still here.

And you now offer a discount to customers at your garage if they get themselves checked out...
Well, I wanted to turn a negative into a positive. I give people a 20 per cent discount at my car garage in Hackney if they go and have the PSA test done. In the last two years 24 people that have come in have been diagnosed with the same problem. What’s frightening is one in eight men will get prostate cancer – and one in four Afro-Caribbean men. This test takes 10 minutes – it’s a simple blood test – and if there’s a problem it’s better if it’s dealt with early.

Lawrie McMenemy presents Errol with the
man of the match award for Men United
You played for Prostate Cancer UK’s Men United team against a Parlimentary XI at the Den. Did you pull any Dean Cox-esque moves?
Put it this way. We were winning 4-0 at half-time. Then I went in goal for the second half and we lost 6-5.

Sounds like the sort of thing Orient would do...
Well, the good thing was that the MPs were donating another £100 for every goal they scored. One of them lobbed me from the halfway line. I still got man of the match though!

What’s been your proudest moment as an Orient employee?
It was when my stepson Aiden Palmer made his debut at Oxford in 2004. He gave proof to the fact that young players can come through and make it to the first team. But everything about the club makes me proud. The support that Orient have given me since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer has been amazing.

For more about Errol's battle with prostate cancer check out his interview with ex-O Leon McSweeney

If you want to find out more about prostate cancer visit Prostate Cancer UK

Help beat prostate cancer by joining Men United ... and if you're feeling really motivated why not get involved in the London to Amsterdam challenge, which begins at Brisbane Road on Friday 6 June

This year Prostate Cancer UK also asked bloggers from all over the country to nominate the Football League's Greatest Captain. Here's my attempt to convince everyone it should be Orient's Steve Castle 


Prostate Cancer UK's Men United football team
Errol prepares for action 

13 April 2014

GUEST POST! Leyton Orient 5 Gillingham 1, 12/4/14

There are many reasons why I was unable to attend yesterday's game against Gillingham. Most of them involve the fact I'm currently in Berlin with no passport (long story). Luckily Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - loves a dead rubber and rocked up to Brisbane Road to give his views on the game...

A game in which... a beautiful princess awoke from a deep and disturbing two month slumber after a kiss from a handsome prince… Or the Orient version where I can only assume the Nando’s chicken (fresh from Monday’s charity efforts) snogged David Mooney, inspiring the misfiring striker to a splendid (almost offside-free) performance, because this was the Os back to their scintillating best.

With the monkey of automatic promotion off their backs, Orient played like men free of fear and utterly possessed in a first half display of total domination that was as good as any they have put in this season. Playing the kind of passing football that has been devoid of late, the Os put a hapless Gillingham team to the sword, prompting a chorus of “you might as well go home” and “easy, easy “from the South Stand as early as the 35th minute.

Dean Cox II: Electric Boogaloo
Moment of magic... Dean Cox. For his stunning twenty yard strike to make it 2-0? Nope? For his 42 goals and 62 assists in 4 seasons at Orient? Nope. For his breakdancing spectacular as he raced to keep a ball in by the touchline, a feat that would have put The Rocksteady Crew to shame? Hell yes!  Get that man on Soccer Am.

Moment(s) of madness... David Mooney was only caught offside twice all game by my reckoning, and spent the rest of it putting in the kind of performance that has typified his brilliant season, rather than his recent below-par showings. His first, a clinical slot under the keeper, an assisted lay-off for Orient’s second and a top corner drive for Orient’s third, this was Mooney at his absolute best. It puts him at 20 goals for the season - the first time since an Orient player has achieved this since Jamie Cureton. (Not really, Carl Griffiths, I think.)

Top gun... Other than Mooney and Lisbie, and superb performances from Odubajo and Cox, it was Everton loan man John Lundstram pulling the strings in midfield that was the key reason behind such a dominant performance. Despite five in midfield, Gillingham couldn’t live with his passing and movement, and his link play with Vincelot, Cox and Odubajo was a joy to watch.

Little donkey(s)... The entire Gillingham team, who were even told by their own fans to “jog on” in no uncertain terms at the final whistle. But it gives me great pleasure to single out standout offenders, West Ham “academy” product Joe Martin and Southend “reject” carthorse Adam Barrett for special treatment as both players were embarrassed all afternoon.

In the dugout... “It was a really dominant performance and we were clinical and ruthless in our finishing” commented Russell Slade after the game. He wasn’t wrong - this was vintage 2013/14 Orient and Os fans will be hoping the team can take this form into the remaining four games of the season and the play-offs.

View from the opposition... Full credit to Gills fans for their chants of “easy, easy” after their consolation to make it 5-1. They took a sound beating pretty well before heading to the exits at 5-0, despite vocally requesting a full refund at 4-0. Steve Morris pretty much summed up their performance “We were absolute shite and you were awesome. Looked every bit a top team…”

Desperate times at Wycombe 
Tweet of the week... Things are bad at Wycombe. Really bad. They are staring possible relegation from League 2 in the face and it’s got so bad that they’ve resorted to depending on ex-O Dean “two left feet” Morgan to dig them out of trouble. This T-shirt - retweeted by the great man himself - is designed to make things a bit simpler for Gareth Ainsworth.

23 March 2014

GUEST POST! Walsall 1 Leyton Orient 1, 21/3/14

Frankly I'm disgusted that Orient are only third in League One with eight games to go and refuse to return from Berlin until they win the Champions League. Luckily Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - has no such morals and filed this report from Walsall...

A game in which… Orient spent the first 30 minutes looking as clued up as a Malaysian transport minister at a press conference, but by the second half better resembled the Russian special forces attacking a Crimean air base. Yup, another “game of two halves” saw Orient bludgeon their way to a frankly undeserved draw, highlighted by the fact that Captain Clarke once again hit the back of the net (I know, his goals are like buses).

With the team suffering an apparent hangover from last week’s demoralising defeat, Orient started off without any sort of purpose, giving possession away at every opportunity. They stepped up the pressure second half - mainly via a series of long, aimless balls forwards - and on the rare occasions they did get hold of the ball they looked like they might do something, but Walsall always looked a threat on the counter-attack. In summary, the performance suggests that the team is running out of steam and the management team out of ideas… let’s hope not!

Moment of magic... Eldin Jakupovic’s stunning double save down to his right to tip a shot onto the post and then his reaction to dive at Westcarr’s feet to save the follow-up. In retrospect it earned Orient a point, as they should have been 2-0 down in the first 30 minutes.

Referee Tim Robinson
Moment of madness... Referee Tim Robinson’s baffling “senior moment” in the first half. He stopped the game in a the middle of a promising O’s attack to tell Baudry and Downing off for holding, but did not wait until the ball was dead and with no foul given, he gave a drop ball to the utter bafflement of everyone in the ground and much to the irritation of Os fans and players.

Top gun… It was tough to pick a top performer with Orient having an off-day. Our best players were Baudry, who had a decent game on his return from injury, while Jamie Ness made a real impact when he replaced the utterly ineffective Lloyd James in the second half. Jakupovic once again made big saves when he had to make them.

Little donkeys... Precious fans that dish it out but can’t take it. The small group of Walsall supporters who surrounded a prone Moses Odubajo after a collision with the Walsall keeper by the goal, hurling abuse at him, and had to be held back by a chain of stewards, only to suggest the O’s winger should be banned later on. “Moses Odubajo should be reported to the FA for telling a small section of Walsall fans to f**k off” said Vital Walsall, while Matt replied with what I can only hope was tongue in cheek: “Definitely! Clearly read his lips from the back row of block 3. Ref seemed to ignore it as well; he was right next to him”

In the dugout... “We can only do our best” commented Russell Slade when questioned about Wolves and Brentford’s wins which saw the Os slip further behind the top two. No offence Russell, but if this is our best, I’d hate to see our worst. Walsall are a good side that matched Orient at Brisbane Road with ten men, so nobody expected a walkover, but with 7+ players playing below par, Orient were lucky to get a point.

View from the opposition... Vital Walsall was pretty generous about the game: “Result was fair to be honest. Orient dominated last 55 minutes of the game. They could have had a penalty and even snatched it at end." But Michael Tapper disagreed: “I disagree with the fair comment. I thought we made them look like a pub team”. Really? In truth Orient were somewhere in the middle, failed to get their passing game going and played the ball long far too often.

PA announcer of the week… Radcliffe Borough’s PA announcer getting in a twist with his words in a Northern Premier League Division One North game against Lancaster City. Why? Because players and fans from nearby Ramsbottom United had turned up for a fight after their match against Farsley was postponed.

16 March 2014

Leyton Orient 0 Brentford 1, 15/3/14

Brentford's footballing heritage
A game in which... Brentford came to east London brandishing their majestic football heritage (one season in the Championship since the 1930s and three Johnstone's Paint Trophy final defeats) like a giant inflatable cock. Yes, Orient were honoured to host such a well-endowed club when all we've got is Tiny Cox, but in the first half the Os demonstrated exactly why they're still fighting for automatic promotion with a thrusting performance.

To be fair to the Bees it's a deluded portion of their fans that show no respect to Orient rather than the club itself, and the way their players and management celebrated their hard-fought victory - like they'd just been told that Hooters are to open a new branch in Brentford town centre - is a better indication of quite how far our "little" east London outfit has come this season.

Moment of magic... The delightful interplay between Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney in the first half that set up the latter with clear sight of goal. Unfortunately instead of doing what any self-respecting League One striker should do and sticking his laces through it, Moons elected to try to replicate the once-in-a-lifetime lob he executed at Swindon earlier in the season. Next week: Gary Sawyer tries to Cryuff turn a routine clearance on the basis he once almost did the same after tripping on his laces playing for North Devon under-12s.

Moment of madness... The moment referee Robert Madley (justifiably) sent off Brentford's James Tarkowski early in the second half, thus denying Leyton Orient any opportunity to actually equalise. Yep, like a boxer who's unable to land a single punch on a one-armed opponent, the Os are inexplicably inept at scoring against 10 men. It's a wonder opposition teams don't just start the game one short - or with Jimmy Smith in midfield, same difference.

David Mooney: Probably shouldn't look in the mirror
Top gun... Right, let's get this straight: Orient did not "bottle" this game, they were undone by an excellent Brentford side. No shame in that. Cox, Mooney and Lisbie all combined well in the first half before fading; the defence were pretty resolute throughout; and in the first 45 minutes Vincelot almost looked like he'd justify the inevitable man-of-the-match award in the Supporters' Club. But to be brutally honest, if all the Orient players took a long hard look in the mirror (maybe just a quick glance if you're David Mooney, you don't want to alarm yourself) they'd have to admit all the best performers on the pitch today were wearing a Brentford shirt.

Little donkey...  Yeah, so no one played particularly badly - it's just that for Orient to win big games like this they need a number of the team to play blinders, rather than play as if they're wearing blinders. They've done that many times this season but today just wasn't one of those days. No need to put them up before the firing squad just yet - these players have been heroes to a man this season, and - as Wolves' draw with Shrewsbury demonstrates - there are twists and turns at the top to come. DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE!

In the dug out... "Donaldson's gone in as if it's a bar brawl," said Russell Slade of the Brentford striker's dainty slap to the face of Romain Vincelot, suggesting that if you ever get into a fight in an East End pub, you're not going to get much back up from the Orient manager. Slade seems somewhat unpopular with Brentford fans, who've shown that their Photoshop skills are right up there with their humility by producing the meme pictured here.

View from the opposition... Oh, where to even begin? Perhaps with the plethora of Bees fans (and an embarrassing Posh one) who decided that there's no better way to celebrate victory than by taunting a parody account of one of the opposition strikers. Awkward. And while west London's finest seemed to be upset with Russell Slade's post-match suggestion that they celebrated like they'd won a cup final, this pre-match tweet from Scott James Whittart reveals that the Orient manager got it spot on: "Surely if we win it'll be one of our greatest weekends ever in our history." Yep: #bigclub

YouTube video of the week... This beauty unearthed by Neil Irvine in which Barry Hearn endangers his own life in the aid of positive PR for Orient, and a young Matt Porter proves that awkward, gangly teenagers can one day make it to the top.


13 March 2014

GUEST POST! Port Vale 0 Leyton Orient 2, 11/3/14

I tried to get to this game by boat, until it turned out there is no port in Port Vale - let alone a vale. But don't worry, because Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - had no such transport issues and gave this account of the game...

Jakupovic, Cuthbert and Clarke
A game which... witnessed a sight rarer than Lord Lucan riding Shergar (no, not an Os away win, we’ve been spoilt with those this season, making up for almost the entire 90s), but a goal for our very own northern rock Nathan Clarke. It brought his Os career tally to a magnificent  1 in 70 matches.

A frenetic end-to-end contest on an expansive pitch also featured a moment of class from Mooney, Moses and Cox, combined with the kind of staunch defensive rear guard action that would have kept the Guns of Navarone out, never mind the best efforts of Vale’s Pope and Loft.

The Os looked slick, but after the break Vale had two goals disallowed. In both cases the officials called it early but it spurred Vale on as Myrie-Williams, Loft and Pope were a constant threat, but brilliant goalkeeping, defending and a Clarke header settled it to make it 22 wins for the season and the perfect lead into the crunch clash with Brentford.

Moment of magic... Despite Dean Cox’s sublime finish it needs to go to Lloyd James’ point blank defensive header off the line. It kept the one-goal lead at a time when Orient were under significant pressure and typified the courageous and steely determination displayed by the Orient backline all game.

Moment of madness... In the closing stages, Chris Dagnall burst through with only the keeper to beat but bizarrely scuffed his shot wide. It would have allowed all Os fans to breathe easily rather than endure a stressful end to the game, even though Dagnall’s effort couldn’t be faulted. As one fan described it: “He’s worked hard all game, but if it had been 0-0, I would have gone on the pitch and punched him.”

Top gun... Eldin Jakupovic made numerous brilliant saves, which is becoming the norm for the big Bosnian (and prompting a surge in Bosnian flag sales which should be in evidence on Saturday). However, notable mentions for Clarke, Omozusi, Cuthbert and a massively improved Sawyer who worked tirelessly to keep a very quick, fit and determined Port Vale at bay.

Don't let the sad eyes fool you
Little donkey(s)... Boomer the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Port Vale’s mascot, who's about as friendly as the “Home Fans only” pubs. He started off the “banter” by urinating on both of Orient’s goalposts before having a pop at fans. Good to see the novelty buffoon head in paws at the end!

In the dugout... Slade rarely gets it wrong these days, and set up to take advantage of the width on a decent pitch. Mooney provided intelligence and spark up front and the Os' attack looked purposeful all game. The only forced change was Bartley for Vincelot, while Batt’s arrival for Mooney on 73 provided something different as it always does, and the leggy forward stretched Vale in the closing stages.

View from the opposition... Port Vale manager Micky Adams was pretty much spot on with his observations: "We just didn't have the luck in front of goal that you need from time to time, and their keeper played particularly well, especially in the second half. We are disappointed to come away with nothing, but we have given them a good game."

Tweet of the week.... According to Joe de Freitas, our very own Battman fancies himself as Andy Warhol. Make your own mind up…

10 March 2014

GUEST POST! Notts County 0 Leyton Orient 0, 8/3/14

Much as I'd have loved to have travelled 1,000 miles to watch Orient draw 0-0 with Notts County, I, erm, didn't. But never mind: Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - loves a hearty goal-less draw. Here's his account of the game...

Meadow Lane
A game which... resembled two men in sumo suits wrestling in a paddy field. Yup, the best thing about this game was the weather, which was so balmy that the Notts County ground staff spent 30+ minutes using sprinklers before the game. Add into the mix poor refereeing and you have all the ingredients of a scintillating game of one-touch passing football… or at least my neck hurts from watching the ball spend most of its time being hoofed aimlessly into the air.

After a 6-0 spanking at Rotherham the previous week, Notts set up in order not to get beaten with five in midfield. Tactically it worked as the Os were outnumbered in a scrappy battle. Orient failed to get their passing going on the ridiculous pitch, giving the ball away when in possession and looked second best for the first half despite improving in the second.

Save for a Moses Odubajo shot that clipped the bar, Orient were sloppy in possession and had no answer to a dogged Notts County team. They will need to be much better if they want to hold on to a place in the top two.

Moment of magic... In an homage to International Women’s Day, I took a trip to Hooters (for those who don’t know, it’s a tacky wine bar/bistro place full of women in tight tops and hot pants. Disclaimer: it is near the ground). This was preceded by a drink in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (which claims to be the oldest drinking establishment in Britain, founded in 1189 AD and frequented by Richard I’s Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem). It was real sublime to the ridiculous cultural pub-hopping and better than any of the rubbish served up by either team.

Moment of madness... Apart from Scott Cuthbert almost giving Notts a first-minute head start (he did improve), today it goes to the groundsmen for some 1950s/60s-style sabotage, watering a terrible churned up pitch for a lengthy period of time before the game and at half time, that effectively destroyed any chance the game had of being a passable footballing spectacle.

Top gun... Few players stood out in this attritional hoof-fest but once again Eldin Jakupovic looked solid and confident in goal and dealt comfortably with anything that came his way. Shaun Batt is worthy of note too as Orient looked far more dangerous once he came on in the 71st minute as he time and again wrestled his way through a determined Notts rear-guard.

Notts County's Jack Grealish
Little donkey(s)... There are two candidates for this award. Jack Grealish, the young Aston Villa winger clearly fancies himself as Joey Essex. With his socks rolled down and petulant swagger, it took all the patience of saints for the Os players to avoid hacking him down after several  dives.

Gary Sawyer, meanwhile, looked hopelessly out-of-his-depth against a marauding Jamal Campbell-Ryce (the best player on the pitch) who easily looked a class above his opposite number at full back. Maybe it’s hard to blame Sawyer against an excellent opponent, but several times Clarke and Cuthbert had to cover for the hapless full back, who had his worst game since the Bristol City home defeat.

In the dugout... Russell Slade set his team out to win the game, whereas Notts set out not to lose with a 4-5-1 formation. Combined with an abysmal pitch and some below par performances from the Os, it’s hard to see what more Slade could have done. However, he is going to have to figure out a plan B to win games as each match becomes more vital for every team in the final run of the season and relegation-threatened teams shut-up shop.

The introduction of Shaun Batt improved Orient, but there were too many below-par performances coupled with injuries that prevented the Os turning one point into three.

View from the opposition... Silver fox Shaun Derry praised his players and set the world record for the use of the word “honest” in his post-match analysis. If honest means turning the game into a scrap on a quagmire of a pitch to prevent the other team playing football, then I agree. He has a very “honest” team.

Tweet of the week... I’m still laughing five whole days after this appeared from Dan. If you know WTF this is please let me know, but I think it has something to do with a connection between Orient and dragons (Oriental). Either way, it is mental, and I want it as a poster!

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