On Saturday we celebrated the life of Laurie Cunningham, one of Leyton Orient’s greatest players who, of course, went on to have an illustrious career with the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Real Madrid, Manchester United and England. Laurie was a trailblazer and opened the door for many black footballers, so we unveiled a blue plaque in his memory. We had a large number of special guests including the likes of Cyrille Regis and Brendan Batson, his former team-mates from West Bromwich, along with the Cunningham family.
The day was supported by Kick It Out and one of their key men was in attendance, Troy Townsend, father of Andros. Andros played 22 games on loan for us and was the subject of conversation for many on Saturday following his outstanding display for England on Friday. It was no surprise to Os fans, who recall his spell with fondness, particularly a goal against Yeovil, which is worth a watch on YouTube as he carried the ball 70 yards before finishing from outside of the box.
To cap a great day we maintained our position at the top of League One with a 2-1 win over Milton Keynes, which finished off a week in which we also beat Coventry City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
The Coventry game was decided by a penalty shoot-out. They are stressful in their own right but this was even more so for Matt Porter, our chief executive, as he had to commentate on the phone to the chairman, Barry Hearn, who had stepped away from a charity function in Portugal to call as he was desperate to know the score.
Some say that shoot-outs are pot luck. I’d beg to differ, having seen the amount of preparation that went into our one. The players regularly practise their penalties in training. On Monday, however, at the end of training, they went through extra penalty practice and were even forced to wait on the halfway line and walk up to take it, just to add that bit more reality to a match situation. It might seem a bit trivial but small things like that can make a difference and our players scored all four of their spot-kicks the following evening.
Just as much thought went into keeping penalties out. Kevin Dearden, our goalkeeping coach, and Matt the analyst do a lot of research on them and they were aided by a new piece of equipment this week. Our main sponsor, Samsung, gave the club a couple of their Galaxy Note smartphones to aid with analysis and loaded up clips of the Coventry players taking penalties. When the final whistle went Matt just had time to show goalkeeper Jamie Jones the Coventry penalties again. Jamie dived the correct way for three out of the four kicks, saving one.
We were grateful for the loan of another bit of equipment this week from Millwall player Danny Shittu. Kevin Lisbie was struggling with a dead leg all week and hardly trained. Our assistant physio, Joe Sharp, suggested that his recovery could be quickened up with the help of a bit of equipment called Game Ready that thoroughly compresses and ices an injured player’s leg. We found out they cost about £3,000 – which we couldn’t afford, but heard Millwall had one.
Unfortunately, they had it in use all week, but mentioned Shittu had his own. Our forward Shaun Batt used to play at The Den, so he made a call and Shittu was even good enough to drive it over to Joe’s flat on Wednesday. He hopped into his car to Kevin Lisbie’s house so he could strap it on straight away. Sure enough, “Super Kev” was fit to do a bit of training on Friday, and then play on Saturday, when he even bagged the winner after great link up with David Mooney.Reuse content