This weekend was a new experience for many at the club as we had no game due to the international break. Despite Leyton Orient being top of League One with a 100 per cent record it was not, however, our players who were on World Cup duty but three of our scheduled opponents, Notts County.
Even without a Saturday match it was still a busy week beginning with transfer deadline day. While it was not as frantic as it appeared to be at some clubs, we did have a deal in motion to bring in striker Jayden Stockley on loan from Bournemouth. That meant Lindsey, our club secretary and ticket office manager, had to be ready for any paperwork it involved. Lindsey knows the club inside out and in one way or another has helped out with every aspect. She once even had to hold up the stoppage-time board after the fourth official had replaced the injured referee during a game, to which the PA announcer responded: “The club secretary has indicated there will be a minimum of three minutes added time.”
Her office is often the first port of call for the gaffer Russell Slade when a transfer is in the offing but all was going smoothly so he was able to pop out to scout a game in the afternoon before returning later to make sure everything was done and dusted.
I did begin to wonder if something else was going on though when Sky Sports rang me to ask if we had finalised a deal for a forward from Barnet. I hadn’t heard anything but gave the gaffer a call to make double sure and he confirmed that the player wasn’t on our radar at all. I fed that back but still had two further calls from them later that day to ask if I was 100 per cent sure it wasn’t happening. It was quite funny, though I can see why they would want to be certain as some clubs will deny all knowledge of a deal until it is announced.
Other than that there were no emergency meetings or frantic phone calls, everyone left at a normal time, and the only crowd outside the stadium when I left was a group of middle-aged women doing a zumba class over the road outside the community centre. Despite that I made sure I took my laptop home and went to bed after the window had shut just in case something happened late on.
On Tuesday, we travelled to Gillingham in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy where Shaun Batt bagged a hat-trick to send us through to the next round and after a day off on Wednesday for the players, they were in high spirits during a frantic Thursday at the training ground.
The lads were excited as Scott Cuthbert, their PFA rep, had organised for their boot vouchers to be delivered. Meanwhile, one of our French contingent, Yohann Lasimant, was enlisting the help of Ada, our kit man, to get the toaster to work while the gaffer was walking in and out of the fog on the phone.
The lads are big on their fines at the moment and with vouchers safely distributed they were sat whooping and cheering each late entrant to the team meeting (£10 fine) where they put Tuesday night’s game to bed by going through the statistics, such as turnovers of possession and talking through the highlights reel that our analyst Matt had put together.
Sky Sports had arrived, lured by our winning start, and they sat down for a chat with Kevin Lisbie after training. Kevin’s wife was also there having stepped in to make lunch for everyone as Julie, our cook, was unwell. Mrs Lisbie prepares a lot of the meals for the lads to eat on the coach for away trips and her efforts in many ways epitomise the family philosophy of the club.
I don’t think the youth-team lads were too impressed by Julie’s absence, though, as it meant our fitness coach Lee took over the role of co-ordinating washing-up. Being a former military man he soon slipped into the role of kitchen drill sergeant and was barking orders at them to get a move on as they shuffled about clearing plates.
I think everyone would have welcomed a game given the form we are in at the moment, but the break meant a weekend off for the players that a lot of them used to visit their families. While the guys are all based relatively locally it is not just the French lads who hail from much further afield. They will hopefully return refreshed for Saturday’s home game against Port Vale.
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