'My sons have ordered me to get Fabregas's shirt at the final whistle'

Lifelong Gunners fan Scott McGleish will try to fire Leyton Orient past Arsenal even if it upsets his kids, writes Robin Scott-Elliot

The question became increasingly inevitable, the answer delivered a little sheepishly.

Scott McGleish was born in Camden, north London, Arsenal country. He grew up in Highgate, north London, Arsenal country. He lives next door to Arsenal's training ground. Both his sons support Arsenal. So who, Scott, do you support? "Arsenal's my team," he admits and grins.

Tomorrow afternoon when McGleish walks up the tunnel at Brisbane Road, ahead of him will be his eldest son, Jack, one of the mascots. Father and son will both have Leyton Orient shirts on with the No 9 and "McGleish" on the back, but there the loyalties will divide.

"When the draw was made," says McGleish, "we were at a christening and I ran in and told Jack and Harry [his youngest son]. They were so excited then Jack turned round to me and said 'I don't know who to support'. I told him if they're your team, you have to support them. His bedroom is decked out all Arsenal. Fabregas and Van Persie are his favourite players – guess what shirt I've got to try and get."

At 37, McGleish will be the oldest player on the pitch, old enough to be Jack Wilshere's father. "Being the senior player here by quite a bit, I'm called daddy, grandad, everything," he says. This is his 17th season plying his trade in the Football League. A career that begun at Charlton has taken in Orient, three times, Peterborough, Colchester, twice, Cambridge United, Barnet, two spells at Northampton and one at Wycombe. It adds up to 739 games, and 234 goals – he is three short of 200 league goals – add striking credibility to his durability. This, though, will be his first game against Arsenal.

"I live literally round the corner from the Arsenal training ground," says McGleish. "I drive past it everyday when I come into Orient. I've known Vic Akers [the Arsenal kitman] a long, long time. He's given us a signed shirt to auction off to raise money for [my sons'] school. I phone Vic now and again and go into the training ground. It's beautiful. You would have no qualms about going into train there everyday."

The surroundings McGleish works in are rather more modest, but he has already enjoyed a memorable Cup campaign, and one for which Orient, and their chairman Barry Hearn, are extremely grateful.

Tomorrow's tie, in front of a 9,300 full house and live on television, will enable the League One club to break even this season. When they were trailing Droylsden in a second-round replay with a minute to go and down to 10 men, that looked a slim prospect, but a last-minute equaliser earned extra-time during which McGleish, who had scored the equaliser in the first game, dispatched the Blue Square North side with a hat-trick. The game finished 8-2 and nine-a-side after each had two players sent off. A third-round victory at Norwich and another rewarding fourth-round trip to Swansea earned the prize draw.

"We'll do our best to ruffle their feathers," says McGleish of Arsenal. "If we stay in the game we've shown lately we've got the spirit to do it."

There are two older strikers in the League – Brentford's player-manager Nicky Forster, also 37 and Steve Fletcher of Bournemouth, who is 38 – and McGleish aims to play on for another couple of seasons. When the end finally comes he is keen to stay in the game. He is on the PFA management committee alongside the likes of Clarke Carlisle and Phil Neville, and has coaching ambitions too. At the moment they are restricted to his son's primary school team, but his willingness to give something back to a sport that has treated him well, as well as his awareness of the club's place in the community – something that is threatened with West Ham United due to move into the Olympic Stadium next door – leave a telling impression.

"I'm my little boy's primary school team manager – in my third year now," says McGleish. "I love doing it. We train every Thursday afternoon and do coaching sessions as an after-school club on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. The boys go out there and just play. They show no fear and that's what we've got to do against Arsenal."

After Barça...Orient

With six goals in six games for Orient in cup competitions this season, Scott McGleish has a better strike-rate than Lionel Messi in the Champions League. Are there any more surprises lurking for Arsenal at Brisbane Road?

*Jimmy Smith is the O’s goal threat from midfield, as Norwich and Swansea both found to their peril in previous rounds.

*A winner of the FA Youth Cup with Arsenal in 2001, Ben Chorley is their Carles Puyol at the back.

*Alex Revell leads the line well for the O’s and like David Villa on Wednesday, will linger on the shoulder of the last defender.

*Recently borrowed from Spurs, Harry Kane has come off the bench to score three goals in five games. Itching for a chance against Arsenal.

Michael Butler

News
Jeremy Clarkson
people
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own