The O Zone: An unwelcome pitch battle before Jonesy’s fight night

The O Zone: Behind the scenes at Leyton Orient

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Our 3-1 win at Swindon should have made the headlines for an excellent team performance that sent us back to the top of the League One table. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed somewhat by the actions of one Swindon supporter who made it on to the pitch and started throwing punches at our goalkeeper Jamie Jones.

At the time I don’t think many of us realised how serious it was. The incident came midway through the second period, when most of us had our eyes on a coming-together inside our penalty box for which Swindon wanted a penalty. It was only when I saw some of our players trying to protect Jamie and a man being detained by stewards did I realise something had happened.

After a game, I wait in the tunnel outside our changing room for the gaffer, Russell Slade, to come out and address the press. After such a great performance I was expecting to find him in a good mood. Instead, he was raging.

“You need to have a look at this,” he said, as he called Matt the analyst, who scurried over with his laptop. Matt films the games with a wider angle lens to the normal TV cameras, so that the coaching staff can look at the game as a whole and see shapes and patterns of play with more clarity. The wider angle on this occasion picked up the whole incident nd for the first time I and a number of the media saw the severity of it, and how a number of punches had been thrown at Jonesy before the man was removed.

Jonesy is a strong character and deserves a hell of a lot of praise for not allowing the incident to affect his performance, as he was immaculate for the remainder of the game.

It was the talk of the changing room afterwards, with the two overriding emotions among the lads being anger and disbelief.

Jonesy mentioned how quickly it had all happened. He wasn’t allowing the incident to sour the mood too much, though, and ironically was busy trying to organise the rest of the lads to get round to his house in the evening to watch the Froch v Groves fight.

It remains to be seen what action will come of it and, though it doesn’t excuse what went on, it was good to see that on Twitter the incident was universally condemned as we received messages from across the world from football fans wishing Jonesy well, as well as from dozens of Swindon supporters apologising.

Our captain, Nathan Clarke, said that during the game he was immediately approached by their captain, Darren Ward, to apologise on their behalf for what had happened.

It was a great win, though, and an important one after two defeats in the previous week, not that you would have noticed on Monday when the gaffer strolled through the office greeting the staff with a smile and a big: “Come on you Os.”

Saturday was my second trip to the County Ground in the week after our Under-18s won there on Tuesday to march on in the FA Youth Cup. The youngsters were thrilled afterwards and none more so than Freddie Moncur and Sam Ling whose fathers, John and Martin respectively, were both Swindon heroes and whose photos were plastered across the walls.

Meanwhile, Mrs Lisbie saved the day again on Thursday when Julie, our cook, was unwell. Kevin’s wife stepped in at the last minute to whip up some pasta dishes for the players to eat for lunch and it was like Piccadilly Circus in the kitchen afterwards as Julie’s absence meant the lads had to do their own washing-up. Who said footballers have it easy nowadays?