19 November 2011

Leyton Orient 0 Stevenage 0, 19/11/11

A game which... was as tough as a spelling test at a The Only Way Is Essex cast party. Yep, this was a right old-fashioned ding-dong which, in truth, either side could have won. The majority of the Stevenage team appeared to have been chiselled out of medium-sized bungalows and they were well-disciplined and hard to break down. But the Os deserve credit for matching them physically and carving out a number of chances to squander.

Moment to savour... Kevin Lisbie's cute little flick that gave him a clear run at the Stevenage goal in injury-time. Unfortunately the striker - who impressed again today - was afflicted with a touch of the Curetons and delayed his shot long enough to allow a defender time to tie his shoelaces, text his girlfriend and then put the ball out for a corner.

Moment of madness... David 'Don't call me Rooney' Mooney's first half miss. After some neat interplay between Kevin Lisbie and George Porter the unmarked striker somehow failed to connect with a cross just yards in front of the goal. I'm not saying his reactions are slow, but any day now he's going to start celebrating the news that London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Knight in shining armour... Though his moustache makes him look like a sinister school caretaker with a secret passion for cross-dressing, Scott Cuthbert emerged victorious from his physical battle with powerful Stevenage striker Darius Charles and put in one of his best performances in an Os shirt.

Pantomime horse... A solid performance from the Os, but at times goalkeeper Ben Alnwick's distribution was poor and he was lucky to escape after flapping at one descending ball so much he almost took flight.

In the dug-out... After Moses Obudajo's inspired cameo against Bromley last week, today Big Russ reverted to what's known as the "M'poku' strategy" - leaving a lively winger on the bench for the entire game in a cunning ploy to not actually create any chances. I jest - in fact the manager can be credited with ensuring his team matched an efficient Stevenage side in all departments.

A word on the opposition... Impressive team and travelling support, but manager Graham Westley's apoplectic reaction to every Orient throw-in taken half a yard further forward than it should have been was so wildly out of proportion it was like the United States of America declaring nuclear war on the UK simply because Piers Morgan called Gwyneth Paltrow "an irritating muesli-botherer".

Meanwhile on Twitter... It's been a rough old week for Jimmy Smith. His tweet after last weekend's game in which he threatened a fans' message board poster - "Any o's fan no bunk Moreland get him to contact me ASAP and be brave" - earned him a nomination for the world's daftest footballer. He then spent the week tweeting variations on "breakfast-bath-training-gym-bedtime #LEGOOOOOOO" almost as if he actually wanted to win the prize.

Lesson for the day... Gone are the days when Leyton Orient teams could be out-muscled by the under-11 rounders team from the local girls' primary school. These days the Os will front up anyone - although their mums say don't play too rough and make sure they're home in time for tea.

17 November 2011

The 10 worst Leyton Orient haircuts

It's not only on the pitch that Leyton Orient have had some shockers over the years, as this lot demonstrate... 

10. Ralph Coates

Who? Stocky ex-England international winger who helped Orient maintain mid-table security in the heady days of Division Two from 1978-81, despite being in his late 60s.
The look he's working: With his wild combover, Coates resembled an ostensibly meek ledger clerk who one day surprises everyone by embarking upon an unprovoked office killing spree.

9. Sean Thornton

Who? Enigmatic midfielder whose three seasons at Brisbane Road from 2007 to 2010 coincided with a massive upturn in the profits of east London's drinking establishments.
The look he's working: A look that suggests that a small, untalented child has painted Sean's head red using his great auntie Maureen's industrial-sized tub of cheek blusher.

8. Barry Silkman

Who? Stylish midfielder whose slick moves helped Orient plummet from Division Two to Four over his four seasons at the club from 1981 to 1984.
The look he's working: Less a haircut, more a result of standing still in midfield waiting for an Orient player to pass the ball to him while a family of Leyton vultures hastily assemble a wild nest on top of his head.

7. Derrick Downing

Who? Impressive winger-cum-left back who played in George Petchey's classy Division Two side from 1972-75.
The look he's working: Derrick's valiant attempt to distract attention from his thinning top with the mother of all sideburns left him resembling an intense air traffic controller who was always just seconds away from deliberately bringing every plane crashing into the ground.

6. Chris Tate

Who? Orient cult hero whose performances over his four seasons at Brisbane Road from 2000 to 2004 veered from the sublime to the ridiculous. Mostly the ridiculous though.
The look he's working: Admittedly, when you're frizzy and ginger you're already on a hiding to nothing, but by tousling his hair skywards Tate has somehow attained the appearance of an incompetent cruise ship cocktail waiter dressed up as a Thundercat.

5. Lee Harvey

Who? Winger with silky - well, maybe polyester - skills who played for 10 seasons between 1983 and 1993 and scored in the play-off semi-final of 1989.
The look he's working: Ok, it was the 80s, but is that an excuse for this blo-waved homage to Lady Diana (as she was then) by way of cocky Romford estate agent? No, it isn't.

4. Phil Hoadley

Who? Rock at the centre of Orient's 1970s defence for seven seasons in Division Two.
The look he's working: Phil's carefully-coiffured helmet gives him the look of an apparently cheery Women's Institute committee member who'd happily stab a judge in the eye with a knitting needle if she didn't win the annual jam-making contest.

3. Chris Jones

Who? Striker from the dark Division Four days of the mid-80s, making 122 appearances from 1984-87, scoring 22 goals.
The look he's working: There are plenty of ways for a young footballer to disguise a receding hairline, but this isn't one of them. Jones's balding mullet left him reminiscent of an earnest British Rail ticket collector with a passing interest in dogging.

2. Gary Bellamy

Who? Defensive mainstay from 1992 to 1996, a period when Orient were to football what Chumbawumba were to the emerging Britpop movement.
The look he's working: Gary wore his child-scaring mullet/tache combo loud and proud, giving him the air of a low-level pickpocket-cum-irritable woodwork teacher.

1. Peter Mountford

Who? Try-hard midfielder who found time in between his personal grooming regime to make 27 appearances between 1984 and 1987.
The look he's working: This isn't a haircut, it's a mane - a children's TV presenter by way of Norwegian exchange student monstrosity that appears to house a small family of wood mice.

12 November 2011

FA Cup: Leyton Orient 3 Bromley 0, 12/11/11

A game in which... Orient did what they had to do. Assuming what they had to do was present opposition from three divisions beneath them with about 10 clear chances to score, that is. Thankfully Bromley couldn't shoot for toffee - indeed, it's unlikely the promise of even the world's finest confectionery could have incentivised them to do anything but pepper the upper reaches of the North and South Stands with goal attempts. Still, their profligacy gave the less-than-fluid Os the chance to flex their muscles in an improved second half performance and book their ticket for the second round.

Moment of magic... A driving run by the impressive Moses Odubajo in the 69th minute. His resulting shot cannoned off the post to the waiting Jimmy Smith, who had cleverly chosen to take no actual part in the game up until this point, thus leaving himself unmarked to score the rebound.

Moment of madness... When Jamie Cureton, having just seen his second-half shot cleared off the line, remonstrated with the linesman, claiming he'd actually scored. He hadn't, but the "Orient Torres" needs a goal soon or his spell at Brisbane Road is likely to be about as memorable as Davina McCall's post-Big Brother career.

Knight in shining armour... Matthew Spring had one of his better days, dictating play, actually passing to other Orient players and scoring a peach of a goal. Indeed, he looked a class above Bromley - suggesting he'd excel in the Blue Square Premier.

Pantomime horse... For his first-half performance, George Porter, who - in stark contrast to the previous week - was owned by the opposition left-back. (Let's call him 'John Smith' for the sake of not having to figure out who he is.) Though the winger redeemed himself in the second half with a blistering goal, it was a reminder that Orient can't rely on Porter alone to provide attacking impetus.

In the dug out... Things were relatively straightforward for Big Russ today, but there are tough times ahead. With Dean Cox leaving the ground on crutches - well, I say crutches, they were actually matchsticks - and apparently out for up to six weeks, the manager is going to have to figure out how to win without his arch creator.

A word on the opposition... It must have being difficult for Joe Dolan to return to Brisbane Road, the place where Junior Agogo once gave him such a roasting that kitchen staff in the Gallery had to be restrained from serving him up with some Brussels sprouts and gravy. But credit to Orient's third worst summer signing of the century - he put in a confident and effective performance and was only at fault for three of the three goals. Just kidding.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Amazing scenes this week as former Orient manager-cum-psychopath John Sitton brought his dinner to Twitter. In a series of 140-character missives the infamous ranter took his social networking sword to his predecessor Peter Eustace ("... slightly to the right of Attila the Hun and Adolf Hitler... "), politicians ("... my family was fucked by the government...") and Channel 4 ("... still furious about the imbalance..."). Tune in here for more...

Lesson for the day... It's never easy playing non-league opposition - at least in the first half before the massive fry-ups the part-time players consume on a daily basis start to weigh them down.

08 November 2011

Leyton Orient 1 Hartlepool United 1, 5/11/11

A game in which... there were fireworks. Not metaphorical ones to describe an explosive Orient display, but actual fireworks released over the stadium by local ASBO kids. Terrell Forbes, for one, was impressed and was presumably watching the descending embers in wonder while he clumsily bundled into Andy Monkhouse to hand Hartlepool a penalty.

But let's not be too downhearted: a draw with a classy side with an impressive away record is nothing to cry about and there was a periods in the first half in which Orient looked very threatening. Ultimately though, even with the visitors down to 10 men, you'd have got better odds on Frankie Cocozza hitting a correct note in that evening's X Factor than the Os finding the back of the net.

Moment of magic... The first half moment when George Porter showed so much pace that he didn't simply leave Ritchie Humphreys for dead, but embalmed him, dressed him up in his best suit and conducted a full funeral service. The Hartlepool left-back might have more horredous days in his life, but only if he's strapped into a chair and forced to listen to Johnny Robinson singing songs from the musical Cats for 24 hours on end.

Moment of madness.... The moment when Scott Cuthbert elected to clear a ball from near the corner flag by passing it straight into the middle of his own penalty area. For the most part the former Swindon man has deputised ably for the injured Ben Chorley - same haircut for starters - but the occasional moment of calamity means Chorley's return to the centre of defence will be a welcome one.

Knight in shining armour... The hugely impressive George Porter, who's giving the side attacking intent, balance and, most of all, pace. Indeed, no one's seen such speed at Brisbane Road since Sean Thornton's post-match sprints from the dressing room to the bar.

Pantomime horse... Not the worst performance in the world, but Jamie Cureton has apparently been struck badly by the Brisbane Road virus that renders previously successful strikers totally impotent upon joining Leyton Orient. There's only one known cure for this: grow fat, take your wife's name and join Blackpool. Just ask Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

In the dug out... We've seen a massive change in tactics from Big Russ over the last few games. The manager has boldly thrown out his previous modus operandi of 'Give it to Coxy then hope for the best' in favour of a far more sophisticated 'Give it to Georgie and sometimes Coxy then hope for the best'. Let's hope it continues to pay dividends.

A word on the opposition... While the Hartlepool fans were as quiet as an Only Way Is Essex cast member at an astrophysics quiz night, their team were an impressively tidy outfit. James Poole caught the eye, and the Monkey Hangers could consider themselves unlucky not to have gone one up in the first half when the ball crossed the Orient goal line by about three metres.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Something of an Orient bromance brewing on the social network this week, as Jimmy Smith revealed on Thursday that he was "Chilling in the crib with @dean_7cox", which presumably means they were sharing a child's bed together. No problems for Coxy, of course, but surely Jimmy's legs were sticking out the end? Anyway, things heated up on Monday when George Porter tweeted a photo of the pair of them sharing a bath. Still, good luck to them. Jimmy's a pleasure-seeker after all and tonight tweeted this stirring raison d'etre: "HERE,4,A,GOOD,TIME,NOT,A,LONG,TIME,!!!" Quite.

Lesson for the day... You can't win 'em ell, and if you can't entertain on the pitch at least give the fans something to enjoy in the form of fireworks. Next week: perennial substitute Mike Cestor sets up a touchline puppet show to distract fans from a struggling performance against FA Cup minnows Bromley.

05 November 2011

FA Cup: Leyton Orient v Bromley preview

Me talking about Orient v Bromley in the FA Cup in the darker reaches of Freeview HD...

03 November 2011

The best Leyton Orient moustaches

Footballers, as we know only too well, struggle to fill the time between training and matches. So it's heartening to know that instead of gambling or sleeping with their wives' sisters, many Orient players are occupying themselves by growing moustaches in aid of  raising funds and awareness of men's health. You can sign up and register your support for Orient here.

Good on them, then - but they've got a long way to go to beat some of these Orient beauties from days gone by...

Gary Bellamy (1992-96)

Steve Okai (1991-94)

Paul Ward (1988-89)

Paul Shinners (1985-89)

Frank Clark (manager 1983-91)

John Hawley (1982 - loan)

Peter Kitchen (1977-79 / 1982-84)

Joe Mayo (1977-81)

Tony Grealish (1974-79)

David Payne (1973-78)

Steve Bowtell (1968-73)

Leyton Orient and the Olympic Stadium

Me talking about Leyton Orient and the Olympic Stadium in the darker reaches of Freeview HD...


And again, possibly contradicting what I said last time...

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