29 April 2019

Leyton Orient 0 Braintree Town 0, 27/4/19

A game in which... Orient won the league. Read that again and weep actual tears, for this is only the third time that's happened in our 138-year history and comes just two years after an Italian psychopath nearly poisoned the club out of existence through a deadly mix of megalomania, spite and Valpolicella.

Sink down to your knees and praise the Lord, then, for this gutsy, determined and talented group of players, who have taken us back to the holy land of League Two and the sunny uplands of Morecombe, Crawley and Stevenage (pictured below).

Greater glories would surely await a team of this calibre were it to stay together, though other better-resourced clubs are already coveting our jewels. For now then let's just enjoy the heady glow of success in a season with so many magical moments.

That said, failing to beat an already-relegated bunch of part-timers from Essex at Brisbane Road in the final game – absolute disgrace.

Moment of magic... The moment, of course, that the referee's final whistle signalled that the title was ours – although the South Stand had recklessly thrown caution to the wind 15 minutes earlier by singing "campeones" even though it was still possible for Salford to come from behind to win and Orient to concede five goals.

That didn't happen, despite many of the most weathered fans believing that it would be "typical Orient" to somehow blow our chance of taking the honours right at the death. What utter nonsense from these doomsayers. It would actually be far more "typical Orient" to get relegated again the next season then spend the next 15 years in the National League.

Praise be... It looked very much like Joe Widdowson might score the first goal of his entire career in this match – or at least it would have looked like that to anyone who hasn't previously seen Joe Widdowson play. (Which, given the 8,000+ attendance was presumably quite a lot of fucking part-time glory hunters who weren't even there when we won the Third Division South in 1956.)

Anyway, when Macauley Bonne ill-advisedly slipped Widdowson clean through on goal the left back ran and ran and ran like a frizzy-haired Forrest Gump before hitting an immovable object many, many hours before he presumably intended to finally get a shot off. Joe will never, ever score a goal, but boy what a great season he's had.

Taxi for... The Orient fans, who according to Josh Koroma have been "a joke all season". Today even the euphoria of winning a league title wasn't enough to prevent supporters dividing into two warring factions. On one side were those who remained on the pitch for the trophy presentation, on the other those who were furious at the turf-dwellers for blocking their view, starting up a chant of "OFF THE PITCH" to the tune of Napalm Death's From Enslavement to Obliteration.

The warring factions were then divided into further sub-warring factions: those who believed Bonne should've been dropped in February and those who didn't; those who have meltdowns and those who complain about people having meltdowns; those who embrace the idea of part-time fans coming to Wembley, and those who think they should be summarily executed; those who'd like Dean Cox back, and those who wouldn't; and finally, those who actually quite rated Dean Morgan and those who didn't, which to be fair was just me versus everyone else. God I love you guys.

In the dug out... But not this week the actual dugout, but the "third dugout", a madcap innovation from the commercial team that allows select fans to watch the game from a bus shelter on the corner of the pitch and to take over responsibility for the tactics for a 15-minute period of their choosing in the second half.

This Saturday that presumably coincided with the time during which James Brophy was unshackled from any notional responsibility he previously had to maintaining team shape and buzzed about spraying the ball around randomly as if he'd set off a fire hose in his own brain. Still, the lucky fans got a pizza delivered to their bus shelter at half-time for their troubles, something that Kevin Dearden tried and failed to do on many occasions during his stint at the club.

And finally... Big up to CEO Danny Macklin who, by 11pm on Saturday, was so intoxicated on success and serotonin that he launched into a lengthly, loved up exaltation to Orient on Twitter that had all the hallmarks of an 18-year-old at their first warehouse rave when suddenly everyone is their new best friend for life. Fair play to Danny, he had a hard act to follow in Alessandro Angelieri but his passion, commitment and good sense shine through. So thanks Danny, thanks Kent, thanks Nigel, thanks Martin, thanks Matt, thanks Justin, thanks Ross and thanks everyone connected with the club. I'm still in the queue for fucking Solihull tickets though, guys...

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