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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform