Do the funky chicken

Leyton Orient’s stadium announcer Phillip Othen discusses the O’s recent form

Manager Kevin Nolan with Leyton Orient owner Francesco Becchetti

New Leyton Orient manager Kevin Nolan, right, with the club’s owner Francesco Becchetti. Credit: Leyton Orient Football Club

References to a gimmicky 1969 pop song by American singer Rufus Thomas may not immediately chime with this month’s Orient round-up, but trust me, it will by the end.

So picture the scene: It’s Boxing Day, 2015. The weather is unusually clement. Brisbane Road is packed with nigh-on 6,000 post-Christmas revellers. Ian Hendon’s Orient side have not won in over a month. And high-flying Portsmouth, winners of the FA Cup in 2008, are the visitors.

Two red cards, and five goals later, the Orient fans are elated after a thrilling 3-2 victory. We are playing Rockin’ All Over The World from the PA box to celebrate (a song we always play following a victory).

But wait, what is this? Are our collective eyes deceiving us? Nope, it is club owner Francesco Becchetti, having sat behind the dugout for the entire second half, running on to the pitch and booting assistant manager Andy Hessenthaler up the arse. The slightly eccentric Italian businessman then proceeds to celebrate in front of all four stands long after the final chords of Rockin’ fade out.

So far, so surreal. A predictable loss at Bristol Rovers soon follows, before forward Jay Simpson becomes the first Orient player to hit 20 league goals in about 234 years with his brace to earn a draw at Stevenage on 2nd January.

And then, finally, the Londoners do the funky chicken. Exeter come to East London in mid-January, cancel out Ollie Palmer’s 24-second opener with three of their own before half-time and the boos ring out at the break. Aforementioned super striker Simpson somehow misses two penalties in the second half and boss Hendon gets his marching orders a few hours after the match.

In the week that ensues, Becchetti keeps the surprises going by hiring a man who was playing in the Premier League last season (and known for adopting an odd chicken dance every time he scores), Kevin Nolan, to become one of those rare breeds – a player-manager.

At 33, Nolan automatically becomes the best midfielder in League 2, but was not needed in his inaugural management fixture – Orient eased to a two-goal win at Wycombe, jumping up to eighth place, just outside the play-offs.

Should Nolan play himself and score in the future, he will have reached 100 career goals, the majority in the top flight. And we have downloaded Do The Funky Chicken. Goal music anyone?

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