Escape to victory

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

Leyton Orient

Leyton Orient Football Club’s Matchroom Stadium, in Brisbane Road, Leyton

It has been a bumpy ride under current owner Francesco Becchetti. Having taken over from Barry Hearn at the start of last season, Orient were promptly relegated and now find themselves in the basement league. And the coach journey back from a 3-1 defeat at Hartlepool resulted in a week-long stay in a hotel.

That’s right, being seen to lose limply by hundreds of thousands on Sky Sports was enough for the mercurial Italian to book a London Marriott hotel for the next six nights during the 250-mile trip back from Hartlepool. The players would live together, train together – and that was about it, there was no ‘home time’

Some might call is punishment (or since we are talking about Marriott, torture), others deem it team-bonding. Either way, arriving at the following game at Brisbane Road against a poor York City side, the players looked in relatively good humour.

And the banishment clearly worked as Orient won just their third league game in the last 13 (although win, draw or lose, they always seem to end up in seventh place). Two strikes from the division’s top scorer Jay Simpson and a header from French captain Matty Baudry proved enough, despite gifting York two goals just to keep affairs interesting.

Early in the month, a Jack Payne tackle earned one of the aforementioned victories at Morecambe (yep, tackle – it deflected into the goal), Accrington came to town, and won before Orient dispatched non-league Staines Town 6-1 to reach the FA Cup second round.

Unfortunately, during this period the O’s lost key players in the form of defender Connor Essam and wingman Dean Cox, leading manager Ian Hendon to bring in a couple of new faces before the loan transfer window shut.

On a personal note, it has been great to see the home crowd signing and chanting again. At one point against York, Hendon looked at first bemused and then delighted that the West Stand has decided to open their vocal chords for singing rather than the usual deriding, earning them an enthusiastic clap in return.

And, as always, the entire stadium kept a reverential minute’s silence as we marked those poor souls who lost their lives and were affected by the tragedy in Paris, which put the whole hotel situation into the correct context – it doesn’t matter a jot.