The O Zone: How we saved Robbie from the torture of life without a club

The O Zone: Behind the scenes at Leyton Orient

We started the week with a new signing. The transfer window is closed, but that doesn’t stop you bringing in players that are currently without a club, as was the case with Robbie Simpson. The paperwork needed to be with the Football League that morning for him to be eligible for Tuesday’s game at Stevenage so, after a flurry of phone calls, Matt, our analyst, gave him a lift from the training ground in Chigwell to the stadium so he could see Lindsey, our secretary, to sign the forms.

Robbie was at Oldham last season but this summer he found himself a victim of the belt-tightening many clubs are doing. With his record, it seems inconceivable that Robbie would be without a club until November. He’s 28, has played more than 200 games at Championship and League One level, and famously scored a screamer for Oldham against Liverpool at Anfield. Robbie was delighted finally to have a club after what he said was “a long summer”.

Someone who had a similar experience was Leon McSweeney, a player we released at the end of last season who, coincidentally, was at Loughborough University with Robbie. “Sweens” went on honeymoon thinking he had a new club lined up. But when he came back the manager had changed his mind.

At the same time his agent changed profession so he was out of work and without an agent to help find a new job. It was September before he finally signed for Carlisle. Leon recently summed up his summer on his excellent blog (www.sweeneymc83blog.wordpress.com).

“As the days ticked by the reality of the situation facing me became a daunting one. Being at home, training alone and waiting for the phone to ring is a very lonely and demoralising existence… It’s a relentless mental torture.

“You listen to your mates in football talk about starting back for their pre-season and their ensuing seasons at their own clubs with all the usual training ground banter and it really hits you hard. You find yourself limiting contact as their banter and joviality and questions of concern only add to your anxiety and desperation to find a club, which in turn leads to a reclusive way of thinking and an almost self-imposed isolation.

“You click on Sky Sports News to check if clubs are signing players and if they’re not it fills you with a strange but reassuring hope that the market is slow, however, when you do see the signings being made then your chest can tighten with anxiety as you ponder your next career move. As the days of solitary training progress, your mind becomes overrun with thoughts pondering the eternal question: ‘What shall I do without football?’ ”

Having completed the paperwork Robbie made his debut as a substitute at Stevenage in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and came off the bench again on Saturday against Preston. Unfortunately, he’s still waiting for a win with us, as it was a rare week where we lost both games.

twitter.com/jonnydavies123

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable