23 March 2013

If you tolerate this, then your club could be next

In the wake of the LLDC's decision to award the Olympic Stadium to Leyton Orient's 'noisy neighbours' West Ham, guest blogger Andy Brown looks at what the legacy of London 2012 really means for the people of East London, and its oldest football club...

The Olympic Stadium
So the inevitable has finally happened. The LLDC has finally rubber-stamped a decision to award the people’s Olympic Stadium to wealthy Premier League West Ham United in a desperate attempt by the powers-that-be to ensure that their legacy does not become a white elephant.

All this despite the lack of a proper bidding process overshadowed in 2011 by the fact that an OPLC director was paid £20,000 while moonlighting as a consultant for West Ham, which raised major issues about the then OPLC’s processes and the decision to award the Olympic Stadium to West Ham.

Under the deal announced yesterday, West Ham will pay only £15m for a 99-year lease on a stadium whose conversion costs will be £150m to £190m and where the overall cost could top £630m. The fundamentals of the deal are clear: West Ham are getting a stadium costing more than £600m for just £15m and a small amount of around £2m in annual rent.

That’s a pretty good deal for West Ham’s owners (worth in excess of £800m in combined wealth between Sullivan, Gold and Brady), considering it’s less than an Andy Carroll transfer fee.

Not only this, but the taxpayer is picking up the additional tab too: another £25m will need to be found by taxpayers to pay for a wealthy Premier League club to have a freebie from the state. This is in addition to Newham council’s £40m “loan”, from the poorest borough in the country that has faced annual double-digit spending cuts but is still able to borrow from the treasury at preferential rates. How could it possibly not impact services in the borough?

This is a club that has yet to finish paying Sheffield United the £18.1m it owes them over the Tevez saga and where there has been no mention of where the funds from Upton Park will end up. Back with the taxpayer one would assume. Add to this the fact that West Ham could potentially make over £1.6m on a match day against £2m annual rent and it looks like a rather one-way deal for West Ham.

The bidding process was fair and proper
And it’s here that we move onto another football club, the longest established club in the East End. My pride and joy, like many others, that has been around longer than West Ham. As the second oldest club in London, this decision threatens Leyton Orient’s future existence.

It seems that with Barry Hearn’s legal wrangling, many are unable to read between the lines. Here’s the truth:

• Orient didn’t want the stadium – we couldn’t fill it (neither could West Ham) and having an athletic track makes the idea of watching football farcical. Barry Hearn’s legal manoeuvring really centres on an unfair bidding process that would directly impact the club’s future. At best it is hoped there would be some sort of compensation or plan from the fallout, but just like the poor residents of Newham, Orient has a raw deal.

• Empty seats mean discounted, cheap or free tickets, for a club higher up the football pyramid less than a long goal kick from Brisbane Road.

• It will have a detrimental impact on Orient’s future fanbase, as well as youth schemes for local talent (Leyton Orient Community Sports Program - LOCSP), fundamental to the survival of a League One club.

Orient did not want the Olympic Stadium, but we did not want to be ignored and bypassed in a process that directly impacts our future. The option to have the hockey stadium was refused, sharing with West Ham was refused, and other viable bids were rejected.

Enjoy the view, West Ham fans
Along with taxpayers, Orient has lost out. It may force Orient, the true legacy East London club, to move to Essex in order to survive for the reasons stated. Of course none of this will matter. West Ham has its taxpayer-funded stadium and the LLDC has finally offloaded their embarrassing and overpriced white elephant.

Despite corruption overshadowing the entire process, this is just a microcosm of football and the division of wealth more broadly in Britain. Taking money from the poorest borough and attempting to destroy a community club is all in a days’ work for the LLDC and the Mayor of London.

Today it’s my club, but if you tolerate this, then your club could be next.

Follow Andy on Twitter @OrientMeatPie

17 March 2013

Leyton Orient 4 Carlisle United 1, 16/3/13

A game in which... Orient found victory so easy that by the time they were 3-0 up they began nonchalantly caressing the ball around like they'd suddenly been possessed by the spirits of the current Barcelona squad. Inevitably about six seconds later this hugely inappropriate showboating led directly to a Carlisle goal, demonstrating the reality that Orient have more in common with Lionel Blair than Lionel Messi.

Still, let that not detract from the fact that this is a team in a rich vein of form, one that will almost certainly lead to them losing 4-0 to already-relegated Oldham on the final day of the season when a draw would have been enough to see them into the play-offs. Bring it on!

Moment of magic... What a great moment it was to see David Mooney - just seconds after coming on as a substitute - embark on a rampage towards goal that was so determined and dexterous it was like watching a canny Irishman weaving in the direction of the bar for last orders in a rammed Kilburn pub. If they'd been present, Sean Thornton and JJ Melligan would have looked on approvingly - assuming they could still see straight after 29 pints of Guinness, that is.

Moment of madness... When the unfortunate Scott Cuthbert was hit plum in the, well, plums yet managed to stay defiantly on his feet until the ball had gone out of play. We've always suspected the Scottish defender possessed balls of steel. Turns out he quite literally has.

Romain Vincelot swapped this for
Leyton High Road
Knight in shining armour... Amara Simba, Jonathan Tehoue, Mathieu Baudry... The list of great French players to wear the Orient shirt, well, stops there... Or does it, for on today's performance Orient fans could soon be singing the name of Romain Vincelot, if only they knew how to pronounce it. The former Brighton man played with inexplicable joie de vivre considering he's swapped cafe au laits on the Champs-Elysees for the vomit-splattered streets of Leyton. Vive la difference! 

Pantomime horse... No bad performances from anyone in an Orient shirt today, so let's instead take a moment to ridicule Carlisle's back-up keeper Adam Collin, whose first action of the game was to pick Kevin Lisbie's penalty out of the net. He followed that by almost slicing the ball into his own goal, then did exactly the same thing again seconds later as if he was participating in an exercise at the Glenn Morris School of Kicking for Keepers. He did pull off a blinding save from Lee Cook, mind.

In the dugout... "It's been a perfect week," said Russell Slade after the match, presumably forgetting the fact that in between Orient's three victories he'd lost two games of Monopoly at Kevin Dearden's legendary "Burgers, Beer, Board Games and Burgers" night in at his gaff. Fair play to the manager, though, for he's managed to get his team ticking at the business end of the season. God knows, if he actually figures out how to win a game before October one season we might actually get promoted.

Meanwhile on Twitter... A picture is worth a thousands words, but in the case of this photo of Dean Cox kindly tweeted by Adam Meagher, all those thousand words are 'WHY?'.

Statto corner... Kevin Lisbie's 13th league goal puts him in equal sixth place in the division's top scorers table. The last time an Orient player actually topped the chart was in the 1966/67 season when centre half Anthony Alan Ackerman took the number one spot before a ball was even kicked, simply by virtue of his alphabetically convenient name.

05 March 2013

"He was like no player we've ever had" - Laurie Cunningham's time at Leyton Orient

Not many players beat a path from Leyton Orient to the Bernabeu. Just the one actually: Laurie Cunningham. Those that were lucky enough to see him grace the turf of Brisbane Road in the 1970s speak in awe of a huge talent, one rarely seen in football.    

And while Laurie went on to play for West Brom, Real Madrid and Man Utd before tragically dying in a car crash aged 33, it was - as we see in this extract from my book Leyton Orient Greats - at Orient that perhaps he was at his happiest...

Luck is not something normally found in abundance at Brisbane Road – apparently it can’t get through the turnstiles. But anyone who frequented the ground between 1974 and 1977 was blessed with the most incredible good fortune, for they got to witness a young man by the name of Laurence Paul Cunningham at work.

A winger of spine-tingling speed, skill and balletic grace, Laurie sprinkled magic on that muddy field in Leyton, and the anticipation in the stadium was palpable every time he got on the ball. That he’s an Orient great is unquestionable, but he’s also a football great, a legend whose life was tragically cut short when he died in a car crash at the age of 33.

By then Laurie had already blazed a trail for black players in the game, becoming the first ever to represent England and enduring unimaginable abuse and hostility to propel West Bromwich Albion to the upper reaches of Division One. At Real Madrid – after the club paid £995,000 to make him their first ever British player – he once tore apart Barcelona at the Nou Camp and was given an ovation by the opposition supporters.

But it is at Orient where Laurie is most fondly remembered. ‘He was like no player we’ve ever had,’ says fan Mickey Kasler. ‘He was world class. He wouldn’t have been amiss in the Brazilian side.’

Supporter Laurie Woolcott agrees. ‘Laurie was a special player – he always shone out,’ he says. ‘It was his grace on the ball and his speed. He was greased lightning.’

Mark Waters also had the pleasure of watching Laurie. ‘When he got the ball you thought he could do something special,’ he says. ‘It made it worth going to see the team. He had terrific skill, a fair bit of pace, and a lot of class. He was a cut above. He could take people on, beat them and leave them for dead.’

George Petchey, Laurie’s manager at Orient, was no less of a fan and once said, ‘He has enough skill and ability to take on the top teams at their own game and he’ll come through as the most outstanding player in the world. I can’t see him being anything other than a great player.’

But Laurie was also an enigma. A lover of fashion, music, dancing, modelling, architecture and wine bars, he was no typical footballer. Legendary choreographer Arthur Mitchell, the director of New York’s Dance Theatre of Harlem, wrote to Orient to say Laurie had a future in dance should he fail at football. ‘Suppleness?’ Laurie once said in response to a reporter marvelling at his dexterity. ‘That comes with dancing. I love soul music.’

But his off-field interests got him into trouble at Real Madrid when he was caught in a discotheque the night after having an operation on his toe, and his career began to drift. He had spells at Manchester United, Leicester, Wimbledon and clubs in France, Belgium and Spain, but never again produced the magic of his early career under the Orient management team of George Petchey and Peter Angell.

Indeed, it is perhaps Orient fans who got to see Laurie’s talent at its very purest. It’s something with which Laurie, towards the end of his life, concurred. ‘I don’t think I have ever fulfilled my true potential,’ he said. ‘All the coaches I’ve had, with the exception of Petchey and Angell at Orient, have never appreciated what I can do.’

Early days

Laurie was born in Archway, London, on 8 March 1956, the son of a Jamaican racehorse jockey. He believed the incredible ball control he had in his later life was bred in his childhood. ‘I was always around black guys,’ he explained. ‘We knocked the ball around in streets. English kids seemed to rush around a shade too fast.’

He played for the Haringey and South-East Counties schools football teams and was signed on schoolboy terms by Arsenal, alongside another Orient player-to-be, Glenn Roeder. But the north London club weren’t convinced by Laurie – George Petchey later claimed that it was his lack of punctuality, rather than his lack of skill that did for him – and he was released at 15 years of age.

Still, Arsenal’s loss was Orient’s gain, and scout Len Cheesewright invited Laurie to  Brisbane Road. Orient full-back Bobby Fisher, who played in the same youth team as Laurie, recalls the winger’s first day at the club, when he turned up for a trial match. ‘Everyone else was waiting; the first team players, manager, reserves, and suddenly Laurie just strolled over. The rest of the guys said he must be either very stupid or he must be one hell of a player. It turned out to be the latter.’

Laurie was signed as an apprentice in August 1972 and played in a youth team that featured, as well as Fisher, Tony Grealish, Glenn Roeder and Nigel Gray. On the pitch Laurie impressed immediately and in his first season in the youth team was voted Player of the Tournament in an international competition held in Holland. In the second year of his apprenticeship he helped the team finish runners-up in the South-East Counties League and win the London Youth Cup.

Off the pitch things were a little more complicated. Laurie was unconventional, and his dislike of authority was matched only by his contempt for punctuality.

‘We had one or two problems with him in the early days,’ admitted Petchey. ‘There was a time when Peter Angell and I wondered if we could win Laurie over. He had to struggle in life and was the sort of youngster who was used to living on his wits. He was suspicious of people outside his own circle. He took a long time to trust other people. He often turned up late for training, the eyes flashed when we fined him, but for all that I loved the spark that made him tick.’

Looking back later in his life, Laurie recognised that he was a problematic youngster. ‘At first I must admit I was not the sweetest person to be with,’ he said. ‘Nothing stirred me, I was just a dreamer.’

Yet he also revealed that it was his coaches at Orient who helped him to focus, saying, ‘It was George Petchey and Peter Angell who showed me that the only person that who could make my dreams come true was, in fact, myself.’

As such, he began to practise religiously. ‘He was fanatical about kicking balls with his left foot up against the wall underneath the stand,’ recalls fellow youth teamer Tony Grealish. ‘Every time we had a 15-minute break the rest of us would sit down, and he’d be out the back.’

And George Petchey said at the time, ‘If I don’t call him in he’ll keep it up all afternoon.’

Orient debut

By the beginning of the 1974–75 season, Petchey was ready to give 18-year-old Laurie his first-team debut. It came in the Texaco Cup – the short-lived tournament involving teams from the UK and Republic of Ireland – in a game against West Ham at Upton Park on 3 August 1974.

Though Orient lost the game 1–0, Laurie impressed manager George Petchey, who said after the game, ‘It took him a little time to get adjusted to the pace of the game but I was delighted from the way he played from then on. He has a natural talent. He has the speed and agility to take on men. He never gives up. There’s a big future ahead for him.’

Laurie made his League debut two months later in a 3–1 victory against Oldham and once again caused havoc with his pace and skill. He was joining an Orient team that were struggling. The previous season they’d suffered the heartbreak of missing out on promotion to Division by a single point and the subsequent hangover was a long and nagging one. The biggest problem was goals – or the fact that Orient’s strike force of Mickey Bullock and Gerry Queen weren’t actually scoring any.

Laurie was selected to play against Millwall on 7 December at the Den, a game that introduced him, in the harshest way possible, to the plight of a black footballer in the mid-1970s. It was a time of simmering racial tensions – there was widespread opposition to immigration policies and the far right group the National Front were claiming over 20,000 members – and you were about as likely to find a black player in a professional football team as you were a blade of grass on Orient’s mud bath of a pitch.

As such, Leyton Orient, in fielding Laurie alongside Bobby Fisher and Bombay-born Ricky Heppolette, were ahead of their time. It meant that the game against Millwall – smack in the heartland of the far right – was always going to be one with the potential for trouble.

When the team arrived at the Den they were met by National Front activists distributing racist propaganda. Inside the ground the players emerged into a cauldron of hatred, with the opposition fans spitting a torrent of abuse at Laurie and Bobby Fisher. Objects – including bananas and a six-inch carving knife – were thrown onto the pitch.

‘Me and Laurie did the black power salute a couple of times,’ Bobby Fisher recalls. ‘To be honest, we didn’t properly understand the significance. All we knew was that some black American athletes had done it at the Olympics, and that was good enough for us.’

The game was drawn 1–1, but was significant in that it gave Laurie the bitter taste of the racial prejudice he’d face for much of his career. And while he wasn’t particularly politically motivated, he did recognise that he was potentially paving the way for more black footballers to come into the game. ‘I can’t let it get to me,’ he said of the abuse at the time. ‘If I can get through this, maybe it will lead to others getting a fair chance.’

And he intimated that it was less the hostility from the crowds that bothered him, but the abuse he experienced from those within the game – where he’d routinely hear managers instructing his players to clobber the ‘black coward’. ‘First and foremost I’m looking for respect from professional players,’ he said.

Looking back a few years later, Laurie reflected on his feelings about race during his spell at Orient. ‘There have been times when I’ve been mixed up about the race thing. A couple of years ago I thought to that to be black in England was to be a loser. You know, back of the queue for decent jobs. Suspicion on you before anyone knew what you were about.'

He continued 'I did have a feeling for “black power”. It seemed to meet the mood of frustration. It could give you some pride. Then I changed. It sort of struck me that the great majority of people, black and white, are in the same boat, fighting for a decent living. It also struck me down at Orient I was getting a very good break. I got on well with George Petchey. It didn’t matter to him whether I was black, white or Chinese just as long as I could play.’

Becoming a regular

After the Millwall game Laurie had another short spell out of the team, though did appear as a substitute for two games in January. Fan Alan Harvey remembers bumping into Laurie’s mother Mavis on one occasion that her son was named on the bench. He says, ‘I was standing outside the entrance to the Double Os club and there was a dear little black lady waiting outside. She asked me, “I am allowed to go in here?” I said, “Yes, of course you can.” And she told me that her son was Laurie Cunningham, and I told her she’d be very welcome. So we took her into the bar. But this little black woman must have been very, very nervous coming into the culture of football.’

By March, Petchey was ready to give Laurie an extended run in the team at the expense of the fading Barrie Fairbrother. In his second game back, against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, Laurie set up the goal for Gerry Queen that gave Orient a 1–0 victory. ‘Laurie Cunningham’s eye-catching skills must have been the envy of many rival managers,’ said teammate Peter Allen at the time.

Following this Laurie started each of the remaining nine games of the season, and continued to sparkle. But there was one thing still missing – goals. Before the final game of the campaign, a home match against Southampton, Laurie turned up late at the stadium. No surprise there, but an irked George Petchey told him that if he didn’t score he would be heavily fined and suspended. Laurie duly obliged. ‘Cunningham picked up Bullock’s headed pass on the halfway line, out-paced three defenders and then nonchalantly eased the ball past the advancing keeper from just inside the penalty area,’ wrote the Walthamstow Guardian. ‘Arguably Orient’s outstanding goal of 74–75.’

It was Orient’s 28th and last league goal of the season, making it their lowest haul in their history and leaving them in 12th position in the table, with a sleep-inducing 12 goalless draws to their name.

Apparently seeking to address this, they began the next season with a novel approach – letting the opposition score for them, and the first game of the season produced a 1–1 draw against Blackburn in which Rovers defender John Waddington netted Orient’s only goal.

It didn’t last, and the next eight games yielded only four goals. Strikers Mickey Bullock and Gerry Queen looked past their best and it begs the question that if a Johnston, a Kitchen – hell, even a Gary Alexander – was on the receiving end of some of Laurie’s dazzling approach play how much more the club could have achieved.

Getting noticed

In October the Walthamstow Guardian reported that Laurie had England legend Bobby Moore ‘in all sorts of trouble’ when Orient played Fulham at Craven Cottage, and the winger was rewarded with a 24th-minute goal. A few weeks later Laurie was kicked all over the park by Southampton defender Jim Steele in a 2–1 victory over the south coast side. Indeed, he was regularly clobbered whenever he played. ‘He used to run down the wing and he’d get kicked over the touchline three times out of four by the big lumbering full-backs that used to populate the second division in those days,’ recalls fan Mark Waters.

In January Laurie’s goal gave Orient a 1–0 victory over Hull City and the Walthamstow Guardian reported: ‘Laurie Cunningham’s excellence lifted him above the other players and left Hull City gasping. He scored a marvellous goal and conjured up several more chances. The home side were anxiously searching for a breakthrough when Cunningham pulled out one of his many tricks in the 34th minute. He took the ball from Bill Roffey, controlled it on the edge of the box, looked up and chipped it precisely into the far corner over keeper Jeff Wealands’ head. It was a goal that would have graced any ground in the country.’

George Petchey added, ‘If that goal had been scored at Liverpool or Leeds it would have brought the house down.’

All this was getting Laurie noticed outside of east London, and Petchey found himself constantly having to deny that he’d have to sell him. Trouble was, Orient were in pretty dire financial straits at the time and owed the bank around £90,000. Everyone knew that at some point the club would be forced to take a big fat cheque for their talented winger. Even Laurie himself realised this, and said in February, ‘If the day comes when I have to go it will be with regret. I’d always be coming back to see George and the lads.’

Back on the pitch Laurie scored in 2–0 win over Fulham in February. But it was his goal in a 2–0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday that will live longest in fans’ memories of that season. He’d missed the two preceding games after knocking himself unconscious on a train door – this sort of thing tended to happen to Laurie – but it was the Chelsea defence who were left feeling woozy when he returned.

Fan Mickey Kasler recalls it well: ‘The Chelsea fans were giving him some real treatment that day – racial abuse. In the second half he picked up the ball on the halfway line and dribbled at pace, side-stepping and swerving. Then he smashed it into the top corner from about 25 yards. It didn’t half shut the Chelsea fans up.’

Laurie actually finished that season as Orient’s top scorer with eight goals, which perhaps says more about the club’s strikers than it does about Laurie. The team finished in an uninspiring 13th position in Division Two.

Moving on

In September of the next season, Laurie scored two goals in a 3–0 thrashing of Cardiff City, after which Petchey drooled, ‘I’ve never seen anyone like him. No young winger in the country, and I include Steve Coppell and Peter Barnes, has his flair and electrifying pace.’

Soon after, reports in the national press claimed that Leicester and Ipswich were interested in the player and that both West Ham and Norwich had put in bids. Petchey denied it, saying, ‘Clubs may be sending their scouts to look at Laurie but no one has asked me about his availability.’

In December Laurie was widely expected to be named in Don Revie’s England Under-21 squad. He wasn’t, which left George Petchey aghast. ‘I am disappointed for the boy rather than for myself or the club,’ he said. ‘Without disrespect to the lads in the squad, it is obvious that Laurie is better than many and certainly he has more experience. Perhaps the England manager hasn’t watched Cunningham this season.’

Early in March 1977 West Bromwich Albion – at the time making a good account of themselves in Division One under manager Johnny Giles – bid £75,000 plus two players for Laurie. Orient turned them down, with Petchey saying, ‘Laurie has made it quite clear that he wants to stay with the club and help fight relegation.’

But even Petchey must have realised that by then he was fighting a losing battle to keep hold of the player he’d brought to the club as a 15 year old. Attendances at Brisbane Road were at an all-time low, the pitch was a quagmire and the club needed money. First Division clubs waving cheques were hard to turn away. Figuring the game was up, Petchey tried to persuade the managers of four London clubs to take Laurie though, surprisingly, none were willing to take the plunge. ‘It’s their loss,’ said Petchey petulantly. ‘I guarantee he’ll play for England.’

SV Hamburg, St Etienne and Anderlecht were reportedly interested, but eventually it was West Bromwich Albion, with an improved bid of £110,000 plus Joe Mayo and Allan Glover, who secured the signature of Laurie on 6 March 1977. ‘I did not want to sell him, but we were over our limit at the bank and West Brom were ready with a cheque,’ said Petchey at the time. ‘Obviously I’m very disappointed at losing a player who I have seen progress from the age of 15 and I think he was as reluctant to leave as we were to see him go. But it was an offer of First Division football which he could not refuse.’

You can read the full story of Laurie Cunningham in the book Leyton Orient Greats

02 March 2013

Leyton Orient 3 Bournemouth 1, 2/3/13

A game in which... Bournemouth strutted onto the pitch with all the confidence of the newly-minted wife of a Russian oligarch sneering disdainfully at some peasant girls while mentally acknowledging she'd still be one of them were it not for her large bosom and 'relaxed' approach to her husband's rampant infidelity. Indeed, in the first five minutes of the match Orient seemed so overawed by the gaudy visitors that it appeared they might well lose 47-0.

They regained their composure soon enough though and went on to dominate most of the next 85 minutes and record a particularly impressive victory over one of the league's supposed high-flyers. Pleasing too was the way the team passed the ball around, almost making one wonder if they might have considered doing that against Southend...

Moment of magic... The sound of corks popping from bottles of discounted Lidl sparkling white wine in Theo's restaurant could only mean one thing today: the return of Kevin Lisbie. Yes, the sight of the only Orient striker in living memory who can actually shoot was a welcome one, and it was fitting that the number nine announced his comeback with a smartly-taken goal.

David Mooney
Moment of madness... Bournemouth left-back Matt Ritchie's decision not to chase back Mathieu Baudry's  hopeful punt forward, no doubt assuming that the lurking David Mooney had all the turn of speed of the Dublin-Holyhead car ferry. Oh, but how wrong he was, because three hours later Moons had just about managed to chase down the ball and cut it back for Charlie MacDonald to slot into the net.

Knight in shining armour... Plenty of Os players shone today: Baudry (bien sur!), MacDonald, James (yes, Lloyd James, what of it?) and Odubajo for starters. Jamie Jones too made one save in the second half that was so spectacular that it would have left goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden open-mouthed in wonder were he not at that moment trying to swallow two Cornish pasties and a Twix. But let's give man of the match to Nathan Clarke for a flawless display of defensive solidity and one awesome last-ditch tackle on Lewis Grabban in the second half.

Pantomime horse... Whoever's responsibility it was to fill with helium the 32 balloons that were supposed to be released into the air at half-time on behalf of the NHS Be Clear On Cancer campaign. Instead of rising to the heavens, each balloon dropped apologetically to the ground, thus providing a fitting metaphor for the entire history of Leyton Orient Football Club. (More info on the campaign here by the way.)

In the dug out... Full credit to Russell, this season he's proved he can go toe-to-toe with the top managers in the division, and his team's record against promotion challengers is an impressive one. If he could only crack how not to lose to the division's bottom-feeders then who knows what could happen next year after we lose our customary first 10 matches?

View from the opposition... "No leadership on the pitch," says Bournemouth fan Simon Wybrow. "Lost all balance in defence with Daniels out. Surely it's time to give Allsop a go?"

Dean Cox on Come Dine With Me
Meanwhile on Twitter... Kudos to eagle-eyed fan Andrew Ford who this week spotted that our very own Dean Cox was making a cheeky appearance on Channel 4 cookery show Come Dine With Me.

Statto corner... It's a little-known fact that one of the innovations that Barry Hearn brought to the club when he took over in 1995 (along with on-pitch weddings) was a contractual obligation for players to always concede a goal when 2-0 up. "We want to raise the excitement levels at Brisbane Road," he said at the time, "and what better way than to ensure that as many games as possible have a nail-biting finish." Orient have not won 2-0 at home since that day.

(Prostate Cancer UK were also collecting at today's game as the official charity of the Football League. Find out more here.)
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