Well, not really rumours. In 1974 the mighty O’s may have agonisingly missed out on promotion to the old first division, but later on in the year we did saunter off with the ‘Daily Express’ national 5 a side trophy. Sometime in November an Orient squad consisting of Peter Allen, John Jackson, Phil Hoadley, Gary Hibbs, Derek possee and Terry Brisley took on all comers from across the nation to scoop orient’s second trophy of the decade. However, getting any information regarding the teams we played and our scorers that night has become pretty nigh impossible. From what I can gather Orient either beat Spurs (boo) or Wolves in the final. When I emailed O’s legend and team captain, peter Allen, in a bid to find out more, even his memory banks were pretty hazy. Our record appearance holder could just about recall that the side was only put together after a vigorous training session the preceding morning and that he bought his missus a new coat later on in the day.
Not content with winning one five a side trophy Orient seemed to have repeated the feat two years later in 1976 with a win in the ‘Evening Standard ‘London five a side tournament. Again, getting any hard details of that glorious night has been difficult to say the least. However, thanks to O’S fan, Peter Law, we do have a few tasty morsels in relation to the path leading to the final.
In round one Orient were presented with a bye and in round two the odious Brentford were put to the sword by the tune of 3-0. Then came the semi final with our opposition being Chelsea. We came through 2-1 and as usual during the 70’s the blues couldn’t turn us over in any sort of cup competition. QPR were indeed our opponents in the showpiece final but were demolished by a rampant O’s team 6-1, with Hoadley, Hibbs, Allder2, and Cunningham scoring the goals . As for Rangers, it seems that the legendary Stan Bowles recalls the evening quite well…
“But the only time I done it was a five-a-side. Do you remember the national five-a-side tournament? I was playing for QPR and we reached the final against Leyton Orient. I had a good mate who was an Orient supporter – Jewish Dennis he was called, he’s dead now – and he’d backed them to win the thing, £1,000 at 8-1.
“He said to me, ‘If you go boss-eyed in the final, you’ve got a grand’. Well, I only stood to get £200 if we won the final, so I said, ‘Certainly’. I scored a goal but we lost 6-1, and our manager, Gerry Francis, said to me afterwards, ‘You looked a bit tired in the second half’.” Bowles’ laughter rings round the pub. “But it was only five-a-side. It didn’t matter.”
Stanley showing his usual flair for truth and honesty there. It appears that we wiped the floor with a pretty strong QPR outfit in the final (this was just after Liverpool pipped them to the league title in 1976) with a certain Doug Allder and his ‘sweet left foot’ having a blinder throughout the night. So another tasty bit of silverwear happily added for the now bulging Orient trophy cabinet. But, here comes a bit of a shocker. Around 30 years later it transpires that this trinket had to be rescued from a skip by Orient Chief Executive, Matt Porter, when the stadium was being redeveloped. Luckily ,it is now being repaired which is just as well seeing as the O’s don’t have many trophies currently adorning the boardroom at the moment.
So a nice bit of nostalgia and also a bit of a mystery to go with it. If anyone has any cuttings and such from those two glory nights it would be nice to hear from you so as we can fill in the missing gaps from those far off days. One mystery that has been solved though, and it revolves around the picture of the O’ team that night. Many years ago the ‘Orientear’ was sent a picture of the winning O’s side under the mysterious title ‘The sons of Spooner are watching’. We still can’t reveal the identities of the ‘sons of Spooner’, but it turns out that Dennis Spooner was the picture editor of the Daily express back then and the ‘piccie’ must have been lifted from the Express at some point. Light fingered O’s fans, what would Harry Redknapp say?
A big thank you to long term O’s fan, Keith Emmerson, for the cuttings.