The O Zone: Our gaffer proves to be ‘The One’ after Posh win keeps us on song

The O Zone: Behind the scenes at Leyton Orient

“The One” by Tamar Braxton is an R&B song that only reached No 104 in the US charts and was never released in the UK, but it’s fast becoming the song of our season, as after a victory the lads put it on full blast and have a dance before heading out to do their warm-down. The track samples the Notorious B.I.G. track “Juicy”, which chronicles the rapper’s rise from rags to riches, which is in many ways appropriate as it was pumped out at full volume on Saturday as Leyton Orient, assembled without a penny outlay, overcame the free-spending Peterborough  3-1 at London Road to stay top of the League One table.

It was a massive win for us in front of more than 10,000, including a certain Sir Alex Ferguson, who was in attendance to watch his son Darren’s side. I’m sure Sir Alex would have gone away impressed. The only disappointment for the players was that they were late leaving, as the drugs testing squad were in town and Kevin Lisbie and Lloyd James were the players chosen at random to give a urine sample. Neither could manage a pee for an hour after the game and were still in their full kit with a tester shadowing their every move as they waited for nature to call.

Everyone else was showered, back on the coach and waiting when I popped on to get £20 off Romain Vincelot. At a club like Orient there’s not much in the way of a barrier between the fans and the players. Romain is a popular figure with the Os’ faithful and will often pop in to the Supporters’ Club bar on his way home and to talk to fans and pose for photographs. On this occasion our midfielder asked me to pass the money on to a fan who had tweeted him, asking if he would sponsor him for his Sunday league kit, which was a nice touch from the Frenchman.

I’ve seen pretty much everything at the club but certain things remain sacred to the four walls of the dressing room and will never be seen by anyone other than the players and the immediate coaching and support staff. One such is the gaffer’s pre-match talks. I was fortunate enough to get a flavour of it this week when the gaffer (Russell Slade) got a late call-up on Friday to meet with a group of around 50 youngsters who are working on the National Citizen Service. This is a scheme carried out by the club’s community sports programme designed to improve the confidence and life skills of 16- and 17-year-olds.

Having not prepared anything, he asked me to print off some of the posters he puts up on the dressing-room walls. While I stuck them up behind him, the gaffer went through each one and gave an off-the-cuff motivational talk to the youngsters on the ingredients for being successful. One of the posters says: “You’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life between.” The gaffer is a very much an “all in” character and he launched into a hugely inspiring and energetic 15-minute talk during which the youngsters turned from looking fairly uninterested and fiddling with their phones to completely captivated and queuing up for his autograph and photos afterwards. The gaffer looked so natural and in control of what was potentially a tricky audience. It made me realise how important that natural ability to lead and energise people must be for a manager aside from any coaching badges or knowledge of the game.

Talking of tricky situations, we owe thanks to Arsenal, who helped our academy out of one on the M25. The Under-17s side were on their way to QPR when the minibus unfortunately broke down in the middle lane. The police were soon on the scene to organise the traffic and Richard Thomas, our academy operations manager, managed to escort the players safely to the side of the road. Lined up and stranded in their tracksuits, they caught the eye of a passing minibus from Arsenal and the driver was good enough to pick the players up and drive them to the Gunners’ training ground nearby at Colney, where they were allowed to wait inside and even given refreshments.

In the meantime, Andy Edwards, the academy manager put a call in to Chigwell School. They lent us their bus so he fetched it, returned to pick the lads up and get them over to QPR. Our opponents were very understanding and allowed the kick-off to be moved back by more than an hour. With only 25 minutes preparation our boys even bagged a 2-1 win.

If anyone knows of a minibus going at a good price, please let us know.

twitter.com/jonnydavies123

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss