23 December 2010

Top 10 Brisbane Road moments of 2010

It's Christmas, the season to be jolly. So, in marked contrast to this blog's usual modus operandi (slagging off Ryan Jarvis and attempting to make cheap cracks at the expense of Jimmy Smith) I decided to pick out the ten highlights of the year at Brisbane Road.

So, after about 500 hours of meticulously scraping the bottom of a barrel I've actually recalled some. Here goes... and not a Loick Pires gag in sight. Well, maybe one.

10. Nicky Adams. He's actually quite good. Let's buy him. Oh, hang on...
Leyton Orient 2 Yeovil 0, 19 January 2010

Orient began 2010 in the relegation zone and without a win in five games. In a bid to turn things round, manager Geraint Williams had been driven to contemplating the 'nuclear option' - giving Loick Pires 90 minutes. Thankfully he didn't have to push the red button, instead bringing in Nicky Adams on loan from Leicester. And it was the little winger's inspired display that drove Orient to a 2-0 victory over Yeovil and led to a concerted campaign by fans to sign him in the summer. It didn't happen, and since then Adams has played against Orient about five times for eleven different clubs and has been unfailingly cack on each occasion. Good riddance!

9. A wet t-shirt competition, Orient-style
Leyton Orient 2 Rochdale 1, 30 October 2010

In lieu of any actual entertainment on the football pitch at the start of the 2010/11 season, Brisbane Road staff came up with a novel way of ensuring fans got their money's worth. And so, after some bright spark presumably herded up a bunch of random girls from Faces nightclub, Gants Hill, and stuck them in hot pants, we were treated to a pre-match routine by a dance troupe named The Leyton Orientettes or The East London Lovelies or something. Unfortunately for them the groundsman elected to switch on the under-pitch sprinkler system just as they began, turning the whole thing into the sort of sordid wet t-shirt debacle more suited to, well, Faces nightclub, Gants Hill. Sadly, the girls haven't been seen since.

8. Oh Sean, when you tried you were actually quite good
Leyton Orient 2 Walsall 0, 13 March 2010

Sean Thornton. When he wasn't sulking / unfit / dying his hair / injured / being played out of position by Martin Ling he was a class act, as he proved in this vital win back in March. Orient were without a victory in seven games and flirting with relegation like an inappropriate dad cracking on to his teenage daughter's friends. Enter Thornton, whose two goals ensured that Geraint Williams wasn't sacked for at least a few more games.

7. Hey, a talented player at Brisbane Road! 
Leyton Orient 1 Hartlepool 0, 16 October 2010

Occasionally Orient fans are fortunate enough to witness a truly talented player gracing the Brisbane Road turf. Invariably he's playing for the opposition. Although not on this Saturday afternoon when manager Russell Slade unleashed Spurs loanee and Belgian U19 international Paul-Jose M'poku on an unsuspecting Hartlepool with half an hour to go. He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot, he can cross, he can hold the ball up... Let's buy him. What? He costs £25 million. Oh...

6. Size isn't everything
Leyton Orient 1 Huddersfield Town 2, 11 September 2010

Orient have a fine tradition of employing sub-5ft wingers who can presumably bamboozle a row of cones in training with their dribbling skills, but are somewhat less effective when faced with the clattering hulk of lower league defenders. Think JJ Melligan. Think Shane Tudor. Think John Martin. Happily Dean Cox doesn't fit into this mould (though, incidentally, he would fit into the mould of a gingerbread man) as he proved with a jaw-dropping half-volley hit on the run which must stand as the 2010 goal of the season at Brisbane Road.

5. Super sub salvages point!
Leyton Orient 2 Bournemouth 2, 20 November 2010

Sitting two spots above the relegation zone, 2-0 down at home to Bournemouth and being absolutely outplayed, things weren't looking so flash for Orient last month. But a game's never dead when the masterful enigma that is Jonathan Tehoue is on the bench, and lo and behold the perennially-unfit striker came on to score two goals and rescue a point for the Os. Magnificent. Who knows what would happen if Tehoue actually started a game? (Erm, I do. He'd be mostly ineffective, run out of steam after about 60 minutes, get substituted and then return to the bench for the subsequent match.)

4. Orient score five goals. In the same match!
Leyton Orient 5 Bristol Rovers 0, 2 February 2010

Every few years an unusual alignment of the planets coincides with a glitch in the Matrix and Orient actually turn a team over. And so it was on a Tuesday in February that the Os put five past a sorry Bristol Rovers. The odds against Ryan Jarvis scoring a goal, Jason Demetriou having a decent 90 minutes and James Scowcroft actually doing something, anything, on the football pitch all on the same evening are billions to one. And yet it came to pass in a glorious night at Brisbane Road.

3. Ryan Jarvis remembers how to shoot!
Leyton Orient 2 Wycombe Wanderers 0, 1 May 2010

The penultimate game of the season, and with the game locked at 0-0 with 12 minutes to go, and with results elsewhere going against them, Orient were staring down the barrel of relegation to League Two. However, if there's one man you can rely on, it's definitely not Ryan Jarvis. Nonetheless, the non-scoring striker guaranteed the Os would avoid a drop with a searing strike from the edge of the area.

2. And then the ref fell over...
Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2 (aet)

It's hard to pick out one single highlight of one of the most exhilharatingly mad nights at Brisbane Road for many years - maybe ever. But the first five minutes of extra time saw Orient's Paul-Jose M'poku single-handedly tearing Droylsden apart as if he was disdainfully ripping up ultra-thin tissue paper. He scored one to put the Os 3-2 up before being upended by a savage tackle that literally flipped him 360-degrees in the air. Lee Roche's consequent sending off caused a massive set-to between both benches, requiring steward and police intervention, before Droylsden's ridiculous imp of a manager Dave Pace was sent to the stands. Just as everything calmed down the referee fell over himself, as if there hadn't been quite enough drama.

Leyton Orient 2 Norwich City 1, 13 April 2010

A whopping 46 points separated league leaders Norwich from relegation-threatened Orient in Russell Slade's first home game in charge. And yet, in an absolutely barnstorming night of football the Os went into the final few minutes of the game 2-1 up and clinging on to what would prove to be three vital points. In the dying seconds of injury time Norwich were awarded a free-kick on the edge of Orient's area. By now Slade, who'd been conducting affairs from two metres inside the pitch for the last few minutes, was - like a coked-up grasshopper - wild and bug-eyed with with nervous energy. He turned to substitute Jason Demotriou and screamed, "SECOND BALL! GO AND TELL THEM SECOND BALL!" Demetriou dutifully sprinted up the touchline to pass on the instructions, Norwich smashed the ball into the wall, Orient indeed cleared up the second ball and the three points were secure. A fitting end to a magical night under the new gaffer.

08 December 2010

FA Cup Round 2 Replay: Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2, 7/12/10

A game which... was such a spectacle and so packed with incident that should an alien spacecraft ill-advisedly have chosen to land on top of the East Stand midway through extra-time, fans would have simply given it the most cursory of glances and muttered, 'Yeah, whatever, Tehoue's about to get his hatrick.' Ten goals, four sending offs... Where to even begin? Well, it should be noted that although 1-0 down at half-time and quite a few passes going astray, Orient weren't actually playing that badly, and but for the crossbar and two miraculous goal-line clearances, would have been 3-1 up.

In the second half, though hit on the break for Droylsden to go two-up, the Os were nothing if not committed and eventually got their just rewards with the two goals. Extra-time, meanwhile, was something akin to what would occur should a well-meaning, if misguided, PE teacher decide to round-up all the wheezing fat kids and make them play a practice game against the school first XI, just to show them that exercise can be fun. It isn't. I'm not saying that the Droylsden part-timers were unfit, but I'm sure I spotted a respirator in their physio's bag next to the 'magic sponge'.

Moment to savour... Should Simon Cowell ever launch a spin-off TV show entitled Odious Little Prick Factor, Droylsden's manager Dave Pace would surely give favourite Katie Waissel a run for her money. So it was a delight to see him escorted to the stands by a couple of coppers after squaring up to our very own Kevin Nugent, a man whose refusal to wear anything other than shorts in sub-Arctic temperatures proves he's not someone to be messed with.

Head in hands moment... Terrell Forbes ludicrously unnecessary challenge on Droylsden's Jody Banim that led to his first-half red card. Given that Banim seemed to be weighed down by a good 30 or 40 doughnuts, a couple of greasy fry-ups and a bag of lard, he took some knocking over too.

King for a day... A tough one. Charlie Daniels was in imperious form, driving into the box time after time and executing one mouth-watering slide tackle in front of the West Stand in the first half. Tehoue and McGleish, of course, got well-deserved hatricks and it was great to have Stephen Dawson back doing what he does best (running). But the award has to go to Paul-Jose M'poku who, during the second half and until his substitution in extra time, was - like a Joe McElderry CD - completely unplayable. 

Boo boy... Matthew Spring. But first, a disclaimer: The enormously-conked playmaker played pretty well in extra time, not least because the entire Droylsden midfield were cowering in their own penalty area whimpering, 'Please, God, no... Make it stop.' Before that, however, the Springster's inability to hit a pass to anyone other than an opposition player was somewhat worrying, given that passing is supposed to be his 'thing'.

In the dug out... Losing 1-0, down to 10 men and just about to come out for the second half. What would most managers do? Take off a striker, bolster the defence and hope you can nick a draw on the break, probably. Not Big Russ, he threw on another striker, played 3-3-3 and damn you all! Fair play to him.

What would Martin Ling have done? Claimed at the victorious press conference that, as an Orient man through and through, it was a proud day for him. Then the next day touted himself to Swindon because they have slightly bigger gates at the County Ground than they do at Brisbane Road.

Going to Wembley? Well, if Orient can beat Droylsden 8-2 then they are certainly a match for any Conference North side! Norwich might prove a bit trickier to overcome, though, but after tonight's memorable performance, there's no ruling out what might happen. We might even have a defence back by then, too.

29 November 2010

View from the sofa: Droylsden 1 Leyton Orient 1, 29/11/10

A televised game in which... Orient got to show the nation - well, all 36 people that weren't watching Barcelona v Real Madrid - what they're all about. And what they were all about was mis-hit passess, poor defending of set pieces, lack of quality in the final third (© Chris Waddle) and an inability to turn pressure into goals. Still, let's not be too harsh - these were pretty awful conditions to play football in and Droylsden were plucky opponents. At least we didn't lose.

TV moment to savour... Big Russ's comedy pre-match introduction of the Orient team. On Jimmy Smith: "He's our scout. After 10 o'clock." No, me neither.

'Hello mum' moment... It's hard to show any real quality when you're playing football on an ice rink, but Charlie Daniels did his best impression of a Poundland Gareth Bale with a couple of driving runs up the left in the first half.

Stage fright... Paul-Jose M'poku had his least effective game for Orient but nothing should eclipse the towering 6ft 5in of pure, uncut ineptitude that is Aaron Brown. So catastrophic is his distribution that if he were Santa Claus he'd inadvertently bulk deliver the entire contents of his sleigh to a windswept sand dune in the Sahara desert, muttering to himself, 'I'm sure there were kids here last year.'

In the commentary box... Poor Chris Waddle. Just think, if he hadn't pile-drived his penalty into row Z at Italia 90 he might not have had to suffer severe hypothermia while passing mildly informed comment on an FA Cup second round replay at a non-league ground. Still, at least he didn't lower himself to doing an embarrassing pizza advert. Oh, hang on...

In the pundits' chair... Ok, Clark Carlisle, you may have beaten one-time Orient midfielder Andy Harris to the title of Britain's Brainiest Footballer and been on Countdown and everything, but your claim that Droylsden should have been 'two or three up' at half-time was the sort of juvenile nonsense we'd expect from, oh, I don't know, Robbie Savage or someone. Speaking of which, who other than ESPN would let that girl-haired idiot anywhere near a TV studio since his last debacle on Match of the Day 2. ("Robbie, what do you know about Arsenal's Sebastien Squillaci?" "Erm, he's got a funny name?") Where's Steve Claridge when you need him?

Going to Wembley? Orient have again tried to scupper their own relegation battle by adding another FA Cup replay to their busy fixture list, but assuming they can overcome Droylsden at the second time of asking there's no reason whatsoever why they can't go on and beat Norwich in round three. Apart from the fact that Norwich are much, much better than them of course.

20 November 2010

Leyton Orient 2 Bournemouth 2, 20/11/10

A game in which... Orient were committed, strong, pressurising, hard-working and vibrant. Unfortunately, however, this was only for the final 10 minutes of the game. The rest of the match painted a pretty accurate picture of Orient's standing in League One, as Bournemouth showed better passing, better movement, better pressing, better creativity, better ball retention, better shooting, better haircuts... You get the idea. Still, it was a rousing finish and a great point gained against a classy Bournemouth side.

Moment to savour... Jonathan Tehoue's second goal in added time, of course, in which he showed great strength and then composure to allow Orient to grasp a draw from the jaws of defeat.

Head in hands moment... Quite a few actually, mostly around loanee Premier League goalkeeper Jason Brown's repeated decisions to roll the ball out to defenders with opposition players in close proximity rather than lump it up the middle and hope for the best like you're supposed to in League One.

King for a day... Only one candidate here: Jonathan Tehoue. Some idiot who shall remain nameless complained after Tuesday's FA Cup replay that of late the Frenchman's cameos had been - like Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder - pretty unimpressive. Not so today - he stormed onto the pitch with a 'Get out of jail free' card in his pocket and was determined to use it. If Tehoue could play like that for 90 minutes in a row, Orient would probably win the league. Or at least not get relegated.

Boo boy... No one had a stinker, but there was a bit of a bad smell around pocket-sized antagonist Dean Cox who, by his own high standards, had a pretty ineffective game. Matthew Spring, however, showed that he could pass with 100 per cent accuracy - as long as it was backwards.

In the dug out... Big Russ seemed pretty upset with the South Stand after Orient equalised, probably due to the vocal griping about the 4-5-1 system the manager began the game with, which saw a striker who'd scored seven in the last six games playing right midfield. Still, Russ knows what he's doing and switched to 4-4-2 just in time for Bournemouth to go two up.

What would Martin Ling have done? Played 4-4-2, as he has done in every single game of entire management career. "People say I'm tactically inflexible," he'd say defiantly, "but I've used many different systems and formations. It's just that all of them involve four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers."

Going down? The spirit Orient showed in salvaging a point shows that there'll be grit in the team when they're in the midst of the late-season relegation battle. The way the Os were outclassed by Bournemouth, however, suggests they'll probably go down anyway.

16 November 2010

FA Cup Round 1 Replay: Leyton Orient 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 2

A game in which... Orient nearly contrived to throw away a two-goal lead for the third time this season after they were temporarily bamboozled by Dagenham & Redbridge's visionary tactics (lump it up to Bas Savage, see what happens). That said, apart from 15 minutes of madness in the second half when the Os appeared terror-stricken by the sight of the ball repeatedly dropping into the penalty area from great height, this was a relatively decent performance.

Moment to savour... Paul-Jose M'poku's through pass to Alex Revell for Orient's second goal split the Dagenham & Redbridge defence like a chainsaw through butter. Although Charlie Daniels' jinking run to the byline that took out about four Daggers' defenders in the second half was equally as praiseworthy.

Head in hands moment... Lee Butcher's bizarre first-half decision to throw the ball out to Charlie Daniels, despite the fact the left back was surrounded by the entire Dagenham & Redbridge team - including the goalkeeper and substitutes.

King for a day... Chorley was commanding in defence, M'poku a constant threat on the left wing, Daniels put in a great shift and even Jimmy Smith did a couple of things of note, such as... erm... no, it's gone. But man of the match has to go to that old trooper Scott McGleish, whose tireless running, two goals and salmon-swimming-upstream headers ensured the Os reached round two safely. Not bad for a 48-year-old.

Boo boy... No one really, though sadly Jonathan Tehoue's cameos are looking less and less impressive as time goes on.

In the dug out... Big Russ repsonded to a fan's complaint about James Walker - who'd just spooned a cross into the crowd - with a barrel-load of invective. Fair enough, Russ, you've certainly showed a lot of faith in Walker. Oh, hang on...

What would Martin Ling have done? Responded to Adam Chambers' injury by simply playing 10 men from the start. "There's no one who can replace Chambo," he'd say, defiantly, "except maybe Derek Duncan, and there's an important reserves game coming up so I don't want to risk him."

On the way to Wembley? It's Droylsden in the second round, and while it's never easy playing away from home against a Sunday pub team, the Os should be able to make it to round three. After that, well, who knows how many we'll lose by if we draw a Premier League team?

14 November 2010

Leyton Orient play-off final team 2001: Where are they now? (updated)

Eleven brave, talented warriors took to the pitch at the Millennium Stadium on 21 May 2001 for the Division Three play-off final. Unfortunately they were all wearing Blackpool shirts. Orient, meanwhile, were without their top two strikers and couldn't match the class of the northern side, eventually losing 4-2. Here's what the Orient players have been up to since...

The starting XI

Ashley Bayes

Who? Brilliant shot-stopping goalkeeper who quite possibly may have been a vampire, such was his aversion to crosses. Appeared to play every single game with an imaginary rope tethering him to his own goal line.
Where is he now? Pulling the gloves on for Basingstoke Town in the Conference South, for whom he signed in June 2011, while moonlighting as goalkeeping coach at Aldershot. Now 40 years old, he previously spent three seasons on the bench at Stevenage, although he put his time to good use. Released by Orient at the end of the 2001/02 season, he also had spells at League of Ireland side Bohemian, Woking, Hornchurch, Grays Athletic and Crawley Town.

Matthew Joseph

Who? Reliable, hard-working and classy right back in the fine tradition of Orient players so short you assume they're a ball boy until the game kicks off. Loyal Brisbane Road servant for seven seasons.
Where is he now? Released by Martin Ling at the end of the 2003/04 season, Matt went on to play one season for Canvey Island in the Conference, then a handful of games for Histon in the Conference South before retiring. After a spell as a youth coach at Tottenham Hotspur, Matt now works for the FA as a Regional Coach Development Manager. 

Matt Lockwood

Who? The goal-scoring left back, spot-kick specialist and Brisbane Road legend who, according to Barry Hearn, was a Premier League footballer playing in League Two.
Where is he now? Matt is now a Premier League footballer - albeit in the Scottish Premier League. After unhappy spells at Nottingham Forest, Colchester, Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge, the 35-year-old moved north of the border to sign for Dundee, and achieved promotion with them at the end of the 2011/12 season.

Dean Smith

Who? Defensive rock who, though he could be outpaced by an overweight six-year-old, was a fearless, committed performer with a sizeable football brain.
Where is he now? After moving from Orient to Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship, and then playing his final season for Port Vale in League One, Smith became Orient's Youth Team coach and then assistant to manager Martin Ling, before the pair of them got the boot in January 2009. He moved to former club Walsall to be Head of Youth before being appointed manager in January 2011.

Simon Downer

Who? Young centre back - just 19 years old in the play-off final - who, when not injured (which was most of the time), had a fair degree of class about him.
Where is now? Sent out on loan to Aldershot in 2004, Downer left Orient at the end of that season and, over the subsequent years, became intimately acquainted with the treatment tables of Hornchurch, Weymouth, Grays Athletic, Wivenhoe Town and Sutton United. He temporarily retired to become a bricklayer but came back to play fairly regularly for Rushden & Diamonds in the Conference from January 2009 until the end of the 2009/10 season. Now back at Sutton United in the Isthmian League Premier Division.
Find him on Twitter: @sidowner

Andy Harris

Who? Gritty and talented South African midfielder who would regularly find himself on the end of loose balls at the edge of the opponents' penalty area, which he would summarily dispatch straight into Row Z with 100 per cent accuracy. Hence why it took him almost 200 games to score his first ever professional goal.
Where is he now? Let go by Paul Brush in 2003, Harris had spells with Chester City, Forest Green Rovers, Weymouth and Eastleigh. He returned to Weymouth in the for the 2009/10 season in the Conference South, where he briefly served as assistant manager and then caretaker manager. Harris has an IQ of 153, putting him in the top 2 per cent of the population, and appeared on an ITV show Britain's Brainiest Footballers in 2002. He's now putting his grey matter to good use as Head Coach of the football academy at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset.

Wim Walschaerts

Who? Exotic foriegn whizz kid... Well, maybe not, but a solid, hard-working midfielder with an unpronouceable name.
Where is now? The play-off final was Wim's last game for Orient, after which he returned to his native country and played for a handful of tongue-twisting Belgian sides, including KFC Strombeek in the second division. For Dutch-speakers, this is Wim being interviewed a few years ago when he played for K Berchem Sport. At the grand old age of 38 he was still playing for and captaining K Ternesse in the sixth tier of Belgian football, but finally retired at the close of the 2010/11 season. Off the pitch, tragically, Wim's wife Karen died of cancer in 2008.

David McGhee

Who? Defender-cum-midfield enforcer, David was nicknamed 'Mad Dog' because, well, he had tattoos and stuff. Consistent performer and often thrown up front by Tommy Taylor in the last five minutes of games Orient were losing, usually to no discernible effect. 
Where is he now? Off the radar. Released by Orient in 2002, he went on to play two seasons for Canvey Island in the Isthmian League Premier Division, then another for Chelmsford City at the same level. He played for Wivenhoe in the Isthmian League Division One South in the 2006/07 season.

Scott Houghton

Who? Chippy and chubby midfielder with a lot of bluster and the occasional moment of effectiveness, such as his goal in the play-off final.
Where is he now? Gave Tommy Taylor an earful for substituting him at the Millennium Stadium and was subsequently shipped out in February 2002. After seven appearances for Halifax Town and then handful more for Stevenage Borough, Scott decided it was a fair cop and became a policeman in Peterborough. He remained a fixture in non-league football, however, playing in the United Counties League Premier Divison for Wootton Blue Cross, Blackstones, St Neots (where he was also assistant manager and manager) and Arlesey Town (where he was also assistant manager). These days he still waddles up the wing for the Cambridgeshire Police team while carving out a new career as a reality TV star in the Sky One show Cop Squad.

Chris Tate

Who? The frizzy-haired striker from Scarborough who scored a wonder goal against Barnet in the run-up to the play-off final but was widely regarded by fans as hard-working, committed and mostly useless. Nonetheless, scored what remains the fastest ever goal in a play-off final to put Orient 1-0 up after 27 seconds.
Where is he now? Tate fell down the pecking order in the 2001/02 season to 37th-choice striker in Tommy Taylor's enormous, though mostly ineffective, squad. He was loaned out to Stevenage Borough and Chester City, but enjoyed something of a rennaisance under Paul Brush in 2002/03. Shipped out by Martin Ling at the end of the 2003/04 season, Tate signed for Mansfield Town but played only four games in 2004/05 and then spent the next two seasons playing in the lower tiers of Swedish football. Returing to the UK, he signed for Yorkshire side Goole Town in the Northern Premier League Division One South at the start of the 2006/07 season, and
scored on his league debut. Retired at the end of the 2008/09 season and now runs a pub in his home town of York.

Jabo Ibehre

Who? Fans' favourite and Brisbane Road enigma. A striker who could confound defenders with breathtaking trickery, pace and strength, while at the same time spooning the ball over the crossbar with his elbow.
Where is he now? After spending the 2008/09 season at Walsall, Jabo moved to MK Dons. Despite a couple of loan spells at Southend and Stockport County, Jabo's become something of fans' favourite at Stadium MK and helped the team reach the play-offs in 2011/12.
Find him on Twitter: @ibehre

On the bench

Scott Barrett

Who? Reliable journeyman goalkeeper who joined Orient at the start of the 1999/2000 season from Gillingham. Mostly played back-up to Ashley Bayes.
Where is he now? After a long spell as first-choice keeper in the 2001/02 season, Barrett left Orient to become assistant manager at Grays Athletic alongside gaffer Mark Stimson. Since then, like a loyal puppy dog, Barrett has followed Stimson wherever he's gone, from Stevenage Borough to Gillingham to Barnet and, for the start of the 2012/13 season, to Ryman Premier League club Thurrock.

John Martin

Who? A local East End lad done good - well, ok, anyway. Martin came up through the ranks at Orient and had a fair degree of promise, hampered only by the fact he had the all the physical stature of an 11-year-old girl.
Where is he now? After leaving Brisbane Road at the end of the 2002/03, Martin had unsuccessful stints at Farnborough Town and Hornchurch. Five happier seasons followed, where the midfielder played fairly regularly for Grays Athletic and then Stevenage Borough in the Conference. (Along with a brief loan spell at Ebbsfleet United.) At the start of the 2009/10 season Martin joined Chelmsford City in the Conference South, where he stayed for two seasons. In 2011/12 he played three games for Harlow Town, but is currently without a club.

Ahmet Brkovic

Who? Classy Croation midfielder who spent two seasons at Orient without, apparently, ever being fully trusted by manager Tommy Taylor.
Where is he now? Brkovic's substitute appearance in the play-off final was his last in an Orient shirt. He went on to have seven seasons at Luton, scoring 15 goals in their promotion season of 2004/05 and then a further eight in their first season in the Championship. In 2008/09 he appeared for Millwall in League One, before returning to Croatia to play for third tier side HNK Dubrovnik 1919, and he hasn't been heard of since. Presumably he's still searching for his missing vowel.

Steve Castle

Who? Leyton Orient legend and notorious pizza thief, Castle once scored 18 goals from midfield in a season. His third spell at Brisbane Road, however, was riddled with injuries and he was limited to a handful of appearances, including 23 minutes from the bench in the play-off final.
Where is he now? Loaned out to Stevenage Borough for a few games in the 2001/02 season, Castle returned to Orient to find he wasn't part of new manager Paul Brush's plans. In June 2002 he became player/coach for then Isthmian League side St Albans City and, after a brief spell as assistant manager at Peterborough - was made player/manager a year later, remaining there until October 2005. Brief spells as manager of Essex Olympian League side Tately FC, assistant manager at Cambridge United and coach of the West Ham under-13 team followed, before Castle returned as manager of St Albans City until the end of the 2010/11 season. He's now manager of Essex Senior League side Takeley FC, combining his duties with driving a cab in Bishop's Stortford.

Billy Beall

Who? Martin Ling had Loick Pires, Paul Brush had Tom Newey... and Tommy Taylor had Billy Beall. That is, a player who seems to enjoy the unwavering faith of the manager, to the absolute bemusement of any fan that's actually seen them play.
Where is he now? Billy Beall confounded the Brisbane Road critics by going to have a successful career in the Premier League... Just kidding, after leaving Orient in 2002 the midfielder plummetted towards pub football with spells at Cambridge City and then Farnborough Town. Released from the Hampshire side at the end of the 2003/04 season and not heard of since.

They should have been playing, if they hadn't stupidly got themselves suspended...

Steve Watts

Who? Preening but sometimes effective striker and part-time model who, when he wasn't being outpaced by the opposition team's mascot during the warm-up, was hanging out with Jordan in dodgy nightclubs. Watts' goal in the play-off semi-final against Hull City helped Orient reach the Millennium Stadium, but the two immature yellow cards he received in the same game ensured he was banned for the final itself.
Where is he now? After scoring 12 goals in the 2001/02 season, Watts was loaned out to Margate, Welling United, Lincoln City and Dagenham & Redbridge, before signing for Shrewsbury Town in March 2003. He then had spells at Dagenham & Redbridge and St Albans City, before returning to former club Fisher Athletic in the summer of 2004, scoring 95 goals in two and a half seasons and helping his team to promotion to the Conference South. After a brief spells at Bromley and Eastleigh, Watts signed for Isthmian League Premier Division side Sutton United in June 2008, and played for them until he retired at the end of the 2010/11 season. Steve's now a professional poker player. Like his hair, however, the modelling work has receded.

Carl Griffiths

Who? Orient's best striker since Peter Kitchen. "He'd do fuck all, but he'd score a goal," was manager Tommy Taylor's opinion of 'Super' Carl Griffiths, who possibly ruined Orient's chances of play-off victory by getting sent off for violent conduct in a league game against Mansfield Town, ensuring he'd be suspended for the final.
Where is he now? Two seasons ago Griff was still playing - and scoring - at 39 years old for Barkingside FC in the Essex Senior League. His journey there encompassed two injury-hit seasons at Luton Town and then various spells at non-league clubs Harlow Town, Heybridge Swifts, King's Lynn, Braintree Town, Brentwood Town (where Carl also served as manager) and Maldon Town. In November 2010 he was appointed as manager of Ryman Premier League side Aveley FC, who he duly got relegated before being shown the door in November 2011.

The manager

Tommy Taylor

Who? Former Orient player - a highly classy defender - who managed the club from November 1996 to October 2001, reaching two play-off finals and building a squad of what appeared to be about 350 players, a handful of which were good.
Where is he now? Since leaving Orient Tommy has been on the managerial merry-go-round, taking the reins at Darlington, Farnborough Town, Seba United in Jamaica, King's Lynn and Boston United, along with a spell as assistant manager at Peterborough. In May 2009 Tommy was appointed manager of the Grenada national team, and took them to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where unfortunately they lost all three games. Tommy had a brief three-month spell as Director of Football at Spanish fourth tier side FC Torrevieja in 2010, before taking the reins at Evo-Stik League Division One South side Belper Town in May 2011. He lasted until September of the same year, when a poor run of results saw him get the boot.

06 November 2010

FA Cup round 1: Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Leyton Orient 1, 16/11/10

A game which... demonstrated that there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and the fact that Orient will always concede a goal from a set piece when playing away from home. (Four times in the last four away games, fact fans.) Aside from that, this was a game so bland that if it were a TV show, it would be co-presented by Kate Thornton and Holly Willoughby, have a theme tune by David Gray and feature ex-Holby City actors trying to guess which brands of paint dry quickest.

Moment to savour... Tricky one that, but in the first five minutes Matthew Spring executed his trademark slow-mo pirouette and fired the ball across the field to Alex Revell with a fair degree of class.

Head in hands moment... Dean Cox's 80th-minute miss, which selfishly consigned Orient fans to having to sit through another game against Dagenham & Redbridge. Set up by Revell, the goal was gaping, but the tiny wind-up merchant managed to place his shot directly at the goalkeeper's outstretched boot.

King for a day... Selecting Orient's man of the match is a bit like asking which one of The Saturdays is most likely to have a successful solo career. The answer, clearly, is none of them. Spring played ok, Omozusi added an occasional spark down the right in the second half, Dawson was tireless as ever... But probably Alex Revell edged it for working hard from right midfield and taking his simple chance. Let's ignore the fact he could well have got a hatrick in the first 10 minutes had his decision-making been a bit better.

Boo boy... While no one had a shocker, pretty much the whole team had a moment of ineptitude at some point, not least Lee Butcher, who surely has to be at fault for the Daggers' goal, if only for apparently not building his wall properly.

In the dug out... Do we really need to play 4-5-1 against Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup, Russ?

What would Martin Ling have done? Used the cup game to allow a couple of his youngsters the chance to show the travelling fans what they're all about. "Loick Pires gained valuable experience today," he'd say defiantly in defence of the gangly midfielder's three own-goals and sending off.

On the way to Wembley? Well, if Orient are to progress in this competition, they're going to need a home fixture in every round for starters. That aside, today's performance wasn't one that inspires too much hope for the rest of the season. When's M'poku fit again?

30 October 2010

Leyton Orient 2 Rochdale 1, 30/10/10

A game in which... we saw some amazing moves, incredible agility, impressive co-ordination and effective use of individual assets. Admittedly all of this came during the pre-match display by the Random Girls From Faces Nightclub Gants Hill dance troupe. Once that was over Brisbane Road was subjected, once again, to a pretty dire first half in which Orient failed to show much threat and frequently lost the ball in the middle of the pitch. What appeared to be a highly dubious penalty sparked a second-half rally and a bit of purpose and inventiveness about the Os going forward. Great to get three points, lads, but any chance you could play properly for more than half the game at some point in the season?

Moment to savour... It's back to those pre-match dancing girls again, and the groundsman's inspired to decision to turn on the sprinklers just as they began their routine. A wet T-shirt competiton is certainly a novel way to encourage fans to return - although Stephen Dawson's delightful flick that led to Dean Cox's goal was also pretty sexy.

Head in hands moment... Seeing Ben Chorley elect himself to take Orient's penalty in Scott McGleish's absence. Having the luxury of Matt Lockwood taking spot-kicks for so long means Brisbane Road is used to seeing penalties scored. But, fair play to him, Chorley didn't opt for the thunderbolt, but struck the ball firmly and cleanly into the corner of the net.

King for a day... While none of the Orient players should be troubling the League One Team of the Week selectors, Charlie Daniels was solid in defence and provided much of what attacking threat there was in the second half. He's having a very consistent season and is a much improved player from the one who first arrived at Brisbane Road.

Boo boy... Ryan Jarvis is a player firmly in the Brisbane Road tradition of hard-working though non-scoring strikers. Today he didn't really do the hard-working bit, making his time on the pitch as totally fruitless as an orchard in Antarctica.

In the dug out... Presumably Adam Chambers wasn't 100 per cent fit, otherwise it was a highly dubious decision by Russell Slade to leave him on the bench in favour of Jimmy Smith, a footballer so bland it looks like someone's simply thrown a huge lump of tofu in the middle of the pitch. Still, kudos to Russ for changing the system for the second half to position Dean Cox behind the front two, which led to the second goal. Incidentally, West Standers will have noticed both Cox and Ryan Jarvis giving a fair degree of foul-mouthed back chat to Slade in the first half.

What would Martin Ling have done? Praised his defence for a solid second-half display and go on to claim that the pressure for places is what's producing quality performances. "Clayton Fortune, Joe Dolan and Alan White are chomping at the bit to get on the pitch," he'd say, defiantly.

Going down? Well, since Rochdale are a perennial League Two side who have somehow managed to claw their way up to the dizzy heights of League One, this was good practice for Orient if they do drop a division. Seven points from the last three games suggests things are on the right track, the first half performance suggests fans might want to check the driving routes to Aldershot, Morecombe and Accrington - just in case.

22 October 2010

Leyton Orient promotion squad 2005/06: Where are they now? (Updated October 2012)

They were the 26 players who helped Orient to promotion from League Two in the 2005/06 season. But did their heroics spur them on to greater things in the football world? Here's what's happened to them since...

1. Glyn Garner

Who? The arch penalty-saving goalkeeper and Welsh international (one cap!).
Where is he now? Glyn turned down a new contract at Orient in May 2007 to join League Two side Shrewsbury. "I'd heard that Shrewsbury is a club that wants to go places," he said before spending the next three years mostly on the bench for a club that stayed exactly where it was. After short spells with Grays Athletic and Newport County, Glyn signed for Conference South side Bath City in May 2011, where he remains to this day.

2. Donny Barnard

Who? Brisbane Road's utility player extraordinaire, who never let the side down whether at right back, left back, in midfield or - more typically - playing crossbar challenge with the other substitutes during the half-time interval.
Where is he now? Released in May 2007, Donny made four appearances for Grays Athletic before moving to AFC Hornchurch and then to Tilbury. Now playing for Harlow Town in the Ryman League Division One North.
Follow him on Twitter: @dgbarnard22

3. Matt Lockwood

Who? The goal-scoring left back, spot-kick specialist and Brisbane Road legend who, according to Barry Hearn, was a Premiership footballer playing in League Two.
Where is he now? Matt is now a Premier League footballer - albeit in the Scottish Premier League. After unhappy spells at Nottingham Forest, Colchester, Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge, the 35-year-old moved north of the border to sign for Dundee, and achieved promotion with them at the end of the 2011/12 season.

4. Michael Simpson

Who? Classy holding midfielder, defensive shield and unsung hero of the side. Think Adam Chambers without the pace, or Paul Terry without the racist brother.
Where is he now? Released by Orient after an injury-plagued 2006/07 season, Michael moved to Conference side Burton Albion and helped them to promotion to League Two in 2008/09. He dropped down to the Conference North to play for Eastwood Town in 2010/11, and then signed for Evo-Stik League Division One South side Mickleover Sports for the 2011/12 season.

5. Joe Dolan

Who? "Joe's ready to get his career going again," said an optimistic Martin Ling upon signing Dolan from Millwall in the summer of 2005. His Orient career comprised two first team appearances.
Where is he now? Joe has played for 12 clubs since leaving Orient, mostly in the Conference South. He returned to Brisbane Road last season with Bromley for an FA Cup match, then went on to play for Havant & Waterlooville, scoring an injury-time winner that saved them from relegation in their last game of the 2011/12 season. They rewarded him by not renewing his contract, and he's recently signed for Metropolitan Police FC in the Ryman League Premier Division, who are presumably unaware of his crimes against defending.
Follow him on Twitter: @joe_dolan5

6. John Mackie

Who? A gutsy, gritty throwback to a bygone era of central defenders, Mackie was the chest-thumping talisman that held the Orient backline together.
Where is he now? After an injury-ravaged season in 2006/07 Mackie moved to Brentford, but left the club by mutual consent after just 14 appearances. These days he runs a fruit and veg stall on Plender Street in Camden, where he can presumably be seen pulling customers' shirts, digging them in the ribs and scraping his boots down their shins.
Follow him on Twitter: @john6gmack

7. Wayne Carlisle

Who? Reliable and sometimes classy right-midfielder who, after starting brightly in the previous 2004/05 season, fell down the pecking order and was eventually shipped out in the middle of the promotion campaign.
Where is he now? Carlisle moved from Orient to Exeter City in the Conference and helped them to promotion to League Two in 2008. He then opted to join local rivals Torquay United, who he also helped to promotion from the Conference. He signed for Truro City in March 2011 but left a month later. He's now Head of Football at Ivybridge Community College in Plymouth and coaches the Exeter City U16 team.

8. Craig Easton

Who? Committed and energetic Scot who'd fizz around midfield with all the effervescence of a Mars Bar in the deep fat fryer at a Glasgow chippy.
Where is he now? After leaving Orient at the end of the 2006/07 season Easton had spells at Swindon Town, Southend (boo!) and Dunfermline Athletic. In June 2012 he joined Torquay United as part of Martin Ling's ongoing quest to re-sign every single member of his Orient promotion squad. Also blogs a bit.
Follow him on Twitter: @craig8easton

9. Gary Alexander

Who? The hard-working and reliable No.9 who would delight the Brisbane Road faithful by going on 10-game scoring sprees, then confound them by then failing to find the net in the next 20 matches.
Where is he now? After spells at Millwall and Brentford, Gary now divides his time between playing for Crawley Town and repeatedly tweeting 'Don't listen to the haterz' then retweeting comments from everyone who doesn't think he's brilliant.
Follow him on Twitter: @gazalex29

10. Lee Steele

Who? That rarest of rare breeds at Brisbane Road, a striker who wouldn't suffer a total meltdown of bodily functions when in sight of goal. Fittingly, it was cult hero Steele's goal that sealed promotion.
Where is he now? Steele's post-Orient career has been a journey down the footballing ladder, from Chester City in League Two, to Northwich Victoria and Barrow in the Conference, then Ashton United and Oxford City in the Southern League Premier Division. Steele was sacked by Oxford City in January 2012 for making a homophobic comment on Twitter about ex-rugby star Gareth Thomas. He's since turned out for Evo-Stik League sides Nantwich Town, Brackley Town and Leamington FC.

11. Joe Keith

Who? Hard-working left midfielder who forged an effective partnership with Matt Lockwood (consisting mostly of Keith covering for the left back when he bombed forward).
Where is he now? Via stints at Shrewsbury Town, Brentford, AFC Hornchurch and Tilbury FC, Keith is now a player/coach at Isthmian League Division One North side East Thurrock FC, though describes himself as "An ex-footballer trying to make it in the real world".
Follow him on Twitter: @joekeith3

12. Glenn Morris

Who? Nicknamed 'The Cat' (presumably because cats can't kick a ball properly either), Morris was equally as capable of jaw-dropping reflex saves as he was slicing the ball straight to the opposition.
Where is he now? Cat spent two seasons at Southend in League Two as their first choice stopper. He was released at the end of the 2011/12 season and snapped up by fellow League Two side Aldershot Town on a six-month contract as back up to their number one Jamie Young.

14. Gabriel Zakuani

Who? Orient's first-ever £1 million transfer, the velvet glove covering John Mackie's iron fist at the heart of the Os promotion-winning defence.
Where is he now? Zakuani's seven-figure move to Fulham was one that unfortunately failed to bear fruit for either the Premier League side or the defender himself. Without making a first team appearance for the club, he went out on loan to Stoke City and Peterborough in the Championship, before a permanent move to the latter, where he continues to ply his trade. He also found time to star in a Dizzee Rascal video.
Follow him on Twitter: @Gabs50Zakuani

15. Justin Miller

Who? The classy South African right back whose trademark cut inside as he drove forward always confounded the opposition.  
Where is he now? Shipped out in Martin Ling's Night of the Long Knives in May 2007, Miller went via League One Port Vale, to Conference South Chelmsford City. After a short stint back in South Africa, he played a season in the Conference for Rushden & Diamond before rejoining Chelmsford City, where he continues to play regularly alongside former Os Adam Tann and Aiden Palmer.

16. Shane Tudor

Who? The chippy poster boy for small man syndrome, Tudor was an effective and talented right winger, albeit one whose principle weapon was knocking the ball past his opponent and then running straight into him to win a foul. Like a slightly better JJ Melligan, or a not-as-good Dean Cox.
Where is now? Tudor moved to fellow League One side Port Vale in May 2007 but made only 19 appearances before a knee injury forced him to retire from the game in January 2009.

17. Daryl McMahon

Who? Underrated Irish midfielder who, surprisingly, clocked up 33 league appearances in the promotion season.
Where is he now? Sent out on loan to Notts County in 2006, McMahon then signed for Conference side Stevenage Borough, where he stayed for two seasons. After a short spell at Cambridge United, he turned out for Farnborough, Boreham Wood and Eastleigh before signing for Dover Athletic in September 2012 and taking on a coaching role at Dagenham & Redbridge.
Follow him on Twitter: @DarylMcMahon1

18. Paul Connor

Who? Striker, a mid-season signing from Swansea who helped Orient's promotion push with five goals, then nearly blew the whole thing for everyone by getting sent off in the penultimate game.
Where is he now? Released by Orient in January 2007, Connor spent a couple of seasons at Cheltenham Town, one at Lincoln City and one at Mansfield Town in the Conference. He signed for Conference North side Gainsborough Trinity in December 2011 and is still playing - and scoring - for them today.

19. Jabo Ibehre

Who? Fans' favourite and Brisbane Road hero. A striker who could confound defenders with breathtaking trickery, pace and strength. 
Where is he now? After spending the 2008/09 season at Walsall, Jabo moved to MK Dons. Despite a couple of loan spells at Southend and Stockport County, Jabo's become something of fans' favourite at Stadium MK and helped the team reach the play-offs in 2011/12. He was sent out on a three-month loan to Colchester United in September 2012 and scored a brace on his debut.
Follow him on Twitter: @ibehre

20. Derek Duncan

Who? Fringe player who contributed a total of 13 minutes to the promotion campaign, coming on as a substitute in the 5-1 demolition of Rushden & Diamonds.
Where is he now? After a month at Grays Athletic, Duncan spent two years at Wycombe Wanderers without making a single appearance. Played for AFC Wimbledon and Ebbsfleet United, before joining Woking in July 2011, helping them to promotion to the Conference that season. Recently signed for Maidenhead United for the 2012/13 season in the Conference South.
Follow him on Twitter: @dunky_duncs

21. Brian Saah

Who? Saah was the midfielder-turned-defender who filled in for the injured John Mackie on a couple of occasions during the promotion season and has followed Martin Ling around ever since.
Where is now? Released by Orient in May 2007 Saah had unsuccessful trials at Southend and Tranmere before being signed by Ling at Cambridge United in August 2009. The ex-Orient manager then took him to Torquay United in July 2011, where he remains today.
Follow him on Twitter: Not yet, but you could sign this petition to get Brian tweeting.

22. Efe Echanomi

Who? The lightening-paced striker whose promising career was interrupted by the freak broken leg he suffered while warming up with his fellow substitutes before a game against Chester City in the promotion season.
Where is he now? Efe made a handful of appearances for Orient after recovering from his injury, but subsequent spells at Tiptree United and Grays Athletic, plus a trial at Ebbsfleet United all led to nothing. Efe disappeared off the face of the footballing planet until signing for Waltham Forest in December 2011 in the Ryman League Division One North. Tragically he broke his leg again in a game against Sudbury in January 2012. In September 2012 he joined Wembley-based Tokyngton FC as head coach of the Under 18 team.

24. Jason Demetriou

Who? Midfielder Demetriou made his debut in the promotion season as a fresh-faced 19-year-old. He contributed two substitute appearances, one start and, no doubt, a couple of timely dives.
Where is he now? Jason went on to have two outstanding seasons for Orient - 2007/08 and 2008/09 - and one not so good one (2009/10). He then went to Cyprus to play for AEK Larnaca, where he remains to this day. During his time there he's played in both the UEFA Europa League and represented Cyprus at international level. Here's Jason vying for the ball with Cristiano Ronaldo.

25. Christian Hanson

Who? Non-contracted defender whose two substitute appearances constituted approximately 10 minutes of football, during which time Orient didn't concede a single goal. By which token Hanson can be deemed a success and a critical component of the promotion campaign.
Where is he now? Plummeting towards Sunday League football after spells at Grays Athletic, Gateshead, Spennymoor United, Billingham Synthonia and, in 2009/10, Whitby Town in the Northern League, the ninth tier of English football. Off the radar since then. Google is good, but it's not that good.

(5). Adam Tann

Who? Defender who signed midway through the promotion season and whose solid performances in the centre and at right back towards the end of the campaign helped the backline hold firm. Ryan Jarvis's cousin.
Where is now? After suffering and then recovering from testicular cancer in 2006, Tann rejected a new Orient contract to sign for Notts County. He then spent the 2009/10 season at Histon in the Conference, before dropping to the Conference South with Chelmsford City, where he continues to play alongside former Os Justin Miller and Aiden Palmer. This season he combines his duties with a coaching role at Cambridge United.
Follow him on Twitter: @AdamTann

(7). Wayne Corden

Who? Decent two-footed winger who played the last eight games of the campaign on loan. Boasted a valuable ability to actually get the ball in the box, usually after executing a sort of slow-motion version of the Cryuff turn.
Where is he now? After brief spells at Grimbsy and Colwyn Bay, Corden spent four seasons playing for his home club, Leek Town, in the Northern Premier League Division One South. He retired in January 2012.

16 October 2010

Leyton Orient 1 Hartlepool United 0, 16/10/10

A game in which... Orient abandoned their previously unsuccessful tactic of playing reasonably well and then losing in favour of playing absolutely abysmally and winning. The first 60 minutes were woeful, a footballing spectacle only marginally preferable to trying to trim your own toenails with a chainsaw. The last 30 minutes were better, thanks solely to the introduction of on-loan midfielder Paul-Jose M'poku. The Belgian U19 international reminded his forgetful Orient teammates that passing, dribbling, running and shooting are often useful weapons to deploy when trying to win a game of football.

Moment to savour... Hartlepool, it should be noted, were equally as dire as Orient, but did have one notable attempt at goal in the second half - a header which reserve goalkeeper Lee Butcher acrobatically turned over the bar, indicating he could prove to be a more than able back up to Jamie Jones.

Head in hands moment... Ben Chorley's lung-busting 70-yard run towards the end of the game, which took him from deep in the Orient half into Hartlepool's penalty area. Is he going to blast it into the net? Is he going to cleverly lay it off for Scott McGleish to score? Oh, he's passed it straight to the opposition and has to run all the way back again... Shame.

King for a day... Only one candidate really: Paul-Jose M'poku. Introduced with half an hour to go, he gave the Os some real impetus going forward, continually beating men and causing trouble around the edge of the box. Presumably he'd been watching the game very closely from the bench, because he opted to shoot from every free kick rather than pass to a fellow red shirt, no matter how far away from goal he was. Clever.

Boo boy... Dean Cox, who gave an outright JJ Melligan of a performance. In the first 15 minutes he bizarrely opted to deftly chip the ball back into this own penalty area into the path of an onrushing Hartlepool player, and it went downhill from there. Even his trademark squaring up to an opposition player seemed half-hearted this week.

In the dug out... Let's give Big Russ the benefit of the doubt and assume that, despite the loss of Stephen Dawson to injury, he left M'poku on the bench for match-fitness rather than tactical reasons. Still, there was a fair degree of heckling from the West Stand over his reluctance to make any substitutions until the final half an hour, and the manager's apparently unending in faith in his first-choice eleven despite Orient's league position is a bit dubious. And what's James Walker done to upset him? Pissed in his cap?

What would Martin Ling have done? Claimed in the post-match press conference that Paul-Jose Mpoku's performance was one of genius, then gone on to leave him on the bench for the next match in favour of JJ Melligan. "JJ's been really committed in training this week and he deserves his chance," he'd say, defiantly.

Going down? Well, we're out of the relegation zone, but it's going to take a lot more than a 1-0 win over a hopeless Hartlepool side to salvage something from this season. Still, keep the teenage Spurs loanees coming in and we might just stand a chance of staying up.
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