The O Zone: Walking dogs, helping old ladies – our work is never done

The O Zone: Behind the scenes at Leyton Orient

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The Independent Football

One of the bonuses of being a small club is that there are no airs and graces and a real sense of working together. At Orient that is reinforced by the way the Gaffer, Russell Slade, takes an interest in everything from the academy, where you can often find him watching matches; right down  to the under-9s on a Sunday morning; to the commercial team where he pops his head in and says to Tom, our commercial manager: “What you sold for me this week then son? Am I gonna be able to do anything in that January transfer window?”

He loves to chat and is just as likely to have a cup of tea with Matt, our chief executive, to discuss future plans, as to pop  into the old away changing room in the East Stand which has become the hangout of the ground and maintenance staff for another cuppa and a laugh with them. All this helps to underline that everyone’s input affects the club.

That even includes dog walking, which was in my job remit this week. Our French midfielder Romain Vincelot lives not far from me and with his girlfriend working late, and himself travelling up to Tranmere on Friday morning, he asked if I could exercise his dog. I like dogs so I took Elliot for a couple of laps round the block but he was a bit of a handful as he only really understands French.

Then there’s the community outreach work, which can be impromptu. While getting a lift this week from the training ground to the stadium in the monsoon conditions with Kevin Nugent, our assistant manager, we spotted an old lady with a classic sports car that had broken down on a busy bit of road near Whipps Cross hospital. Without pausing for thought, Nuge pulled over and before I knew it we were pushing the car about 400 yards out of danger into a car park, getting absolutely drenched in the process, and blocking the traffic. The lady was grateful though – and it was a good bit of exercise.

Having maintained our place on top of League One with a 4-0 win at Tranmere on Saturday, we’re at Coventry tomorrow, then at home to Rotherham.

Saturday’s game featured a “you are the ref” oddity. A Tranmere player was sent off and conceded a penalty for bringing down Kevin Lisbie. Kevin is our penalty taker but he had to go off for treatment so David Mooney took it. He hit the post but scored from the rebound, and we all celebrated. Goal? No goal. It turned out the taker cannot touch the ball again until it touches another player. The post doesn’t count, so neither did the goal.