I can’t pretend to be a Leyton Orient supporter and I have next to no affiliation with the club writes NLD Editor Mark Carruthers.
I have visited Brisbane Road once, standing in the away end for a Worthington Cup tie against Newcastle United in September 2000.
According to the excellent NUFC.com, ahead of that game Orient chairman Barry Hearn said “We want to make it a real East End night, with bangers and mash and lager and a lot of noise.”
Now I’m not sure about the bangers and mash, but I do know there was plenty of (overly expensive) lager and the Orient fans made some noise as their side played out a 1-1 draw with a Magpies side containing the likes of Kieron Dyer, Gary Speed and Alan Shearer.
I also had a short spell in charge of Orient on last season’s Football Manager, but the least said about that the better to be honest.
So whilst I am not an Orient supporter, and putting aside my woeful spell in the digital dugout at Brisbane Road, what I am is a football supporter.
And as such, to see what Orient supporters are going through at the moment should sadden anyone that follows the game.
Incidentally if you want a supporter point of view you could do far worse than reading this piece from Orient fan and Daily Telegraph writer Luke Edwards.
You see, before there was Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur, before there was Chelsea or West Ham United, there was the Orient.
They are London’s second oldest football club, only Fulham came before them.
As I sit in my office not far from the River Tyne, writing this article at 10.30am on Monday 12th June 2017, a court hearing has started that could bring an end to 136 years of football at Leyton Orient.
Despite consecutive relegations, there is no manager to blame, no players to criticise and certainly their long-suffering supporters are exempt of any scrutiny.
No, Orient have been taken to the brink by their controversial owner Francesco Becchetti.
In the three years since the Italian took over the club, Orient have suffered two relegations and over ten different managers have come and gone, as the club lunged from one crisis to another.
A winding-up order was survived by the Orient in March this year, with Becchetti given until today’s hearing to pay off debts and sell the club.
Their financial welfare will be laid bare in a courtroom, their future decided, not by forward-thinking managers, a poor refereeing decision or players giving their all for the cause, but by a judge.
And the ones that suffer the most are the supporters.
I could include club employees, who have gone without pay for the hard work this season, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that they can be bracketed in with the supporters.
The Orient faithful have protested and shown their anger at the way their club has been driven to the brink.
I admire that their belief that better times will come has never wavered.
Their passion for the club and their hope that they will bounce back shines through.
It is easy to suggest that their club could be saved for the amount a top player earns in just over two months, some people have probably already suggested that.
There has been little attention shown towards Orient’s plight and to how close they were to vanishing from existence.
Monday morning’s papers brought analysis of England’s latest below-par performance and of the “big six” trying to take a greater share of TV money from foreign shores.
There was little mention of the fact that a club that has employed the likes of Stan Bowles, Peter Shilton and Ray Wilkins, could have been no more.
The club’s supporters provide hope.
Hope that a better future can be around the corner, hope that their club could soon belong to them.
Whether that is with a supporter-funded takeover of the club, or with the formation of a phoenix club, should the worst have come to pass.
They can take solace from the success story of AFC Wimbledon, a phoenix that burst from the flames of another club ruined by poor decision-makers that took supporters for granted.
They have shown the way and they have shown that supporters can dictate and create a better future.
My thoughts were with Orient supporters today, as they waited for news on their club’s fate.
The winding-up order was dismissed, but now the real battle begins.
Hopefully now that the club’s future has been secured, for Orient supporters, this isn’t the beginning of the end, this can be the end of the beginning.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily) Image: Reuters Media