The O Zone: Lads now have one eye on Vegas as we hit six on the spin

Behind the Scenes at Leyton Orient:

It was like déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra said, on Saturday as we made it six wins out of six in League One, this time with a 3-2 victory at home over Port Vale. As you can imagine, the club is on a real high at the moment and it was nice to leave the ground on Saturday and hear the fans spilling out of the Supporters’ Club bar singing: “We’re Leyton Orient, we’re top of the league.”

Nobody is getting too carried away, though, as there are 40 games to go, but the chairman, Barry Hearn, did commission me last week to make a poster for the changing rooms with a map plotting a line from London to Las Vegas. It has an aeroplane on it for captain Nathan Clarke to move along the route as we accumulate points, as Barry has promised to take the players to Vegas if they can make it to the play-offs.

We had a special celebrity guest visit the training ground this week in the form of Larry Lamb as the BBC programme The One Show came down for some filming for a feature on the club’s involvement in the First World War. It was a good experience for the lads and quite humbling as many of them were unaware that 41 of the club’s players and staff signed up to fight. Inevitably, some did not come back, and some of those who did weren’t in great shape. I’ve never seen the lads so quiet as they were when they were shown the footage of the players’ farewell parade in 1915. They were a bit star-struck too, as I was passed phone after phone to take photos of them with Larry.

The atmosphere was more chipper at Wednesday’s golf day as we all hacked our way around 18 holes in teams assembled from staff, players, fans and sponsors. I went in a players’ group with Scott Cuthbert, Lloyd James and Mathieu Baudry, who spent most of the time mocking my golf shoes (shock) and trying to get me to fall out of the buggy, which happened twice. The chairman’s group, including darts star Wayne Mardle, came top of the pile. 

We also had a behind-closed-doors reserve-team game against Portsmouth. With smaller squads and tighter budgets nowadays, it’s difficult to justify regular reserve-team football, so these training matches happen on ad hoc basis with the team made up of Under-18s, trialists and first-teamers who haven’t played much.

They are good experience for the youngsters, and help them integrate ready for the step up to being a pro. I’ve been to other clubs where the youth team live a completely separate existence from the pros and sometimes even have a different training ground. At our place space is at a premium and everyone piles in together for lunch. Having a small squad means some of the youth-team players get the chance to join in with the first team.

As a result the pros all know the scholars by name and often look out for the youngsters. The day after the reserves’ friendly, Kevin Lisbie was questioning the academy manager, Andy Edwards, as to how one of the Under-18s forwards had got on, as Kevin keeps an eye on some of the young players at the club and is a role model to many.

I often help Andy with some work on the computer (as he struggles a bit) in return for a lift home and this week we printed out his set-plays and the academy players’ chores rota. Every morning they are first in to get on with jobs such as getting the balls out for training or getting the breakfast things ready – like a lot of clubs at this level, we don’t have a dining area as such, just part of the training ground building which has to be set up every meal-time, then cleared away.

After a quiet period during the international break, we are busy again with another home game tonight against Notts County. There was still plenty going on when I popped in on Sunday to finish a few bits for the programme. Ada, the kit man, was doing some washing, while Lindsey – his wife and our secretary – was working in her office. Then the gaffer (Russell Slade) popped in. His family home is up north, but he lives in one of the flats in the corner of the ground for much of the season and was moving an air-conditioning unit from there to his office. He spends so much time in the office it is a toss-up as to where the unit is needed most.

Follow me on Twitter @JonnyDavies123

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory