24 May 2014

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

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. 

Just kidding: there was actually a fair degree of guts and guile in that Orient side. Just not quite as much as Blackpool. 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? Goalkeeping coach at AFC Wimbledon. Released by Orient at the end of the 2001/02 season, Ash had spells at League of Ireland side Bohemian, Woking, Hornchurch, Grays Athletic, Crawley Town and Basingstoke Town. He also spent three seasons on the bench at Stevenage, although he put his time to good use.

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 became a Premier League footballer - albeit in the Scottish Premier League. After unhappy spells at Nottingham Forest, Colchester, Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge, he moved north of the border to sign for Dundee, and achieved promotion to the SPL with them at the end of the 2011/12 season. Currently a free agent after being released by Dundee in May 2014. We'll have you back, Matt!

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. He remains there to this day.

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. He's still playing now for Sutton United in the Conference South.
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.

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). Scott also carved out a new career as a reality TV star in the Sky One show Cop Squad.
Find him on Twitter: @ScottHoughton71

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. He moved to Colchester United in the 2012/13 season where he remains today.
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 to Ryman Premier League club Thurrock, where he remains today.

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 these days plies his trade as a black cab driver.

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. Since then he's managed Essex Olympian League side Tately FC, St Albans City again, Essex Senior League side Takeley FC and is now the gaffer at Southern League side Royston Town,  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. He then played for Bromley, Eastleigh and Sutton United before retiring 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. These days Carl runs his own travel company and scouts for the West Ham academy.

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, Boston United and the Grenada national team. Tommy also 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 from May to September 2011. He's currently managing Finnish second division side Palloseura Kemi Kings.

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