Fans, bans and pans

Leyton Orient’s stadium announcer Phillip Othen discusses the O’s recent form in a new monthly football column for the Echo

Leyton Orient

Leyton Orient FC’s Matchroom Stadium, in Brisbane Road, Leyton

Following a superlative August (five league matches, five wins) and a dismal September (five league games without victory), October was a steady month for Orient.

There was a comfortable victory against Notts County, one point at Luton, a loss at perennial voodoo club Crawley, and a truly remarkable encounter with Oxford United on the 17th.

In their first meeting since a barnstorming end to the 2005/06 season when an injury-time Orient winner from ex-yellow Lee Steele made it 3-2, propelling the Londoners to automatic promotion while simultaneously condemning Oxford to relegation, tensions were high as United brought nigh-on 1,400 fans hell-bent on revenge.

Forgetting for a moment that Orient’s winner that day and subsequent joyous celebrations from the 4,000 travelling support, pouring onto the pitch at the Kassam, did not technically relegate United (or, indeed, promote Orient – at 2-2, the outcome was the same), the Oxford message boards were rife with suggestions that the “kids should stay at home for this one”. In other words, it would all get a bit tasty at Brisbane Road.

On the pitch, they couldn’t be more right. A raucous crowd lapped up proceedings; Oxford were two up by half-time, Orient grabbed one back, United went down to ten men and another injury-time goal for the men in red (a first professional strike from 19-year-old Scott Kashket) meant proceedings ended all-square.

Away from the field, however, the predicted ‘agro’ amounted to a few ‘verbals’ in the nearby Coronation Gardens and, judging by a video shown to me, more of the same as the two sets of fans departed the ground.

Even before the game kicked off, there was an ill-wind blowing around. It transpired the breezes emanated from a management ban on the local Guardian Series of newspapers from interviewing players after the match, due, it would appear, to the critical nature of some media outlets.

Speaking of the press, Orient are now offering visiting reporters some hot food options in the form of curry, soup and sausage rolls – all heated up on the premises.

Alas the piquant smell might mean the next journalists to visit Brisbane Road don’t stop in the kitchen, instead heading straight to the press gantry to enjoy the assistant PA’s flavoursome taste in pre-match music.