This week Leyton Orient made history as we recorded our fifth successive league victory with a 2-1 win at Colchester to mark the best start to a campaign in our 132-year existence.
Almost 1,700 fans made the trip across Essex and you could see how much it meant to them at the final whistle. As I rushed to the tunnel to start co-ordinating the post-match press conference, I was almost overtaken by our chairman. Barry Hearn was clambering over rows of seats from the directors’ box and met me with a big grin as he asked me to show him to our dressing room so he could go straight in and congratulate the players and management.
The players do take note of statistics and you could see how proud they were of the achievement on the coach on the way home, with Jamie Jones referring to the lads as “The History Boys”, while others reflected on how it’ll be a special achievement to look back on in years to come. Our French players Mathieu Baudry and Romain Vincelot, however, seemed more obsessed with my shoes and very kindly offered to buy me a new pair with their win bonuses. It seems the French aren’t into size 12 winklepickers.
It was a great way to cap off what has been a very busy week. On Tuesday night we faced Hull City in the Capital One Cup. When a Premier League club comes to town everything seems busier and we were unfortunate to lose 1-0 in extra time. Despite making 11 changes to his Hull side, Steve Bruce was still able to field a strong team with a number of familiar names, such as the former Newcastle United man Steve Harper in goal, who had an interesting exit from the stadium.
Upon leaving he asked one of our match-day reception staff if they could call him a cab as he needed to get to King’s Cross station. She was insistent, though, that he shouldn’t spend his money on a taxi and went out of her way to give him directions up to Leyton Tube, as it would be easier and cheaper for him to get there that way. He was last seen walking away following her suggested route.
The following morning we had our weekly staff meeting, where we get together to debrief on the last home game and plan ahead for the coming week. In the meetings we cover everything, from a weekly weather forecast from Colin the groundsman to Howard our liaison officer updating us on what players are out in the community that week. The most unexpected development this week was the news from our stadium manager Steve that we might be getting a hawk to scare off some of the pigeons that eat the grass seed and make a mess around the Matchroom Stadium.
As the week wore on the transfer window deadline loomed. The gaffer, Russell Slade, has nicknamed me “Jonny Golightly” (I’m not sure why) and when he entered on Friday he walked past my desk and said: “Keep your wing mirrors on today, Golightly son, could be a busy one,” which meant that there could be some player movement.
The gaffer was trying to secure a loan extension for Burnley’s Marvin Bartley until January. Sealing the deal was quite a drawn-out process as we almost missed out on him to another club. As a result, the gaffer spent a lot of the day on the phone and kept running the battery down. Clubs like ours don’t have the facilities of the big clubs, which includes a lack of points in the manager’s office to plug chargers in. He had to leave his phone charging at my desk. It’d ring every couple of minutes, I’d shout out the name that appeared on his screen and either hear back “Leave that one, Golightly,” or have the gaffer rushing out of his office to take the call. After several trips into see Lindsey, our club secretary, and visits to the fax machine, the deal was agreed. The gaffer was a happy man, uttering his trademark “Come on, you Os” as he left.
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