Upcoming trips 2008

Posted: February 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

(This was the last away trip preview I did for the ‘Ear back in 2008)

Sorry, that’s a bit of a fib isn’t it readers? We’ve covered this season’s outings and larks already and by now we should be making notes as to where our cars, mini-buses, coaches and choo-choo’s will be depositing us in 2008/9.
Looking at the current state of the championship it’s a pretty safe bet that we will be joined by Colchester United and our old friends, Scunthorpe United. The final relegation berth could be any one of eight clubs fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, but let’s hope that Southampton (currently imploding as I tap this out) or Sheffield Wednesday take the fall seeing as it’s looking increasing likely that Forest and Leeds might sneak out of league one. Colchester United have completed wallowing in the final days of a long residency at the dishevelled Layer Road ground and have moved to a brand spanking new arena just off the A12. I’ve passed it en route to Clacton and it’s yet another soulless breeze block and plastic monstrosity from the people at BARR construction. As is commonplace nowadays the ground is miles from the railway station and to make matters worse rumours are circulating that it will cost punters £10 just to park at the ground plus £26 quid to watch the match! Take my advice and drive the extra 19 miles to Clacton pier and have a laugh on the dodgems. You might even find the car belonging to Alton Therwell, towed away when he was illegally parked by the ‘Coach and Horses’ last year. As for Scunthorpe United the least said the better. It just means a couple of hundred O’s fans making the best of a freezing afternoon in November. Happy days.

Looking down towards league two we find the possibility of two easy trips. Peterborough United is a favourite as the London Road Ground still has a fantastic covered terrace to savour. Those old hands at Orient related travelling will also know where to get some decent grub and beer too. It hasn’t gone un-noticed that former O’s trainee, Aarron McLean, has scored 30 goals for them this season and good luck to him. Unlucky with injuries here during the Brush years it’s a racing certainty that he will come back to haunt us next season. The ‘Posh’ are going to be joined by ‘Bastardised Dons’ or, to give them their proper title, MK dons. Some O’s fans will no doubt refuse to go to this game on principal. Fair enough. Most of us will go because a, Orient are playing. B, it is a new ground. C, it’s close enough to get to without driving miles. Those who say that we should forget the politics about the club who conned their way into the league should remember that MK are no better than Boston United and Chesterfield who bent footballs rules and got away with it. It’s also certain that they will be above us and putting pressure on our position as a club in league one. The facts are that they have got double our support and a stadium that can hold almost three times more that Brisbane Road can. If they edge us by a point for an important placing next season the people who say ‘forget what they did’ or ‘it’s progress ’, might just be singing a different tune.
Others in the frame for league one include Wycombe, Darlo, Hereford and maybe Rochdale, with a sneaky run into the play-offs. All clubs that we are well acquainted with. Coming up from the conference are Hampshire park team (literally) Aldershot Town. It would be great to play these in the league cup at the Recreation ground 20 years after the famous night that the famous ‘Oooooh Terry Howard’ chant was aired for the first time and (by all accounts from some stake-holding mates at Ebbsfleet) there are still a few nutters attached to that club.

PRE –SEASON
Not much information to had at the moment, although a confirmed day out in the Shape of Boston United (July 20th) has been earmarked. Of course this means that we get to run into former failed Orient boss and one time landlord of the ‘Northcote’, Tommy Taylor, once more. A bit of a jaunt this one for a game that is bound to have several thousand substitutions but those who go should shout a few ‘Taylor out’s’ for old time’s sake. There is a home game penciled in against our new best friends, Spurs, on July 30th and another big name friendly (not those claret and blue bastards again, please) could in the offing too. ‘Is there going to be another overseas jolly this year?’ I hear you cry, and I say; ‘possibly’. A well known travelling loony has told me that there is a whisper that a few games in Malta could be in the offing, but the only person who knows for sure is Dean Smith who normally organises this sort of trip. How about a few games in Scotland Deano? Ayr, Kilmarnock and Third Lanark, maybe?

THE JOYS OF TRAVELLING IN DAYS GONE BY

Many of you have savoured Judge Dredd’s articles in the ‘ear this season recounting games and trips from a not do distant past, and I have to say that they were, indeed, great days. From 1978-1985 our away support was pretty poor except for the odd cup tie at Ipswich, Spurs and such. However, between 1987 and 1993 there was a bit of a renaissance in Orient’s travelling support which has miraculously held up ever since. Younger fans started to make potentially spirit crushing away jaunts at Burnley and Stockport classic days out. Factions such as the Donuts’, Hood Squad, Shoe Crew and the Panda’ lads brought some previously unheard of lunacy to the proceedings in the days when the Old Bill thought nothing of hoying you out for the crime of letting off an airhorn on the away end at Aldershot (the giant bottle of vodka Phil produced on the terrace at a Freight Rover Trophy game there one year was just utter insanity though). Policing of games has changed dramatically since then it has to be said. Gone are the times when a few old boys and ordinary supporters pottered about grounds and we live in the era of the ‘Professional steward’ (the ones that are only too ready to bully home supporters at Brisbane Road but do F**K all when Leeds fans are happily sitting in home areas. These are more cost effective then paying through the nose for the boys in blue to administer order within grounds and you are less likely to get chucked out for relatively minor misdemeanors. Will anybody challenge Phil Crick’s outstanding record of being ejected 21 times out of 23 home games in season 87/88 I wonder?
Compared to today, travel was still relatively cheap. Who remembers the wonderful gift to the football public that was the ‘Boot’s Saver Voucher’? ‘Two for one’ travel throughout the early nineties that made a trek to Plymouth easy on the pocket with enough left over for a ‘Bed and Breakfast’ and a night of pure filth in Union Street thrown in for good measure. Seaside towns are a real winner when it comes to Orient related ‘beano’s’ and you can’t go far wrong when the local paper carry’s headlines such as these from ‘The Brighton Evening Argus’. (see pictures)

Back in the day, petrol was not a luxury item then either and if you were lucky enough to find someone willing to drive up to Scarborough on Wednesday afternoon you could be there and back for around a tenner. Mini buses were pretty hit and miss though. The company we used in Leytonstone must have got their vehicles from ‘Taliban Motors’ because the buses were so clapped out if they were horses the shotgun would have been called for! On one occasion the carriage we hired that took us to a mid-week league cup tie at Grimsby could not manage 60mph flat out! A 1-4 thrashing and 6 hour journey home didn’t go down as one of my all time favourite away days I can tell you. Supporters club coaches, like Paul Terry, are solid but unspectacular. I remember going to Rochdale on one in January 1989. Lee Harvey finally came of age with a storming performance in a 3-0 win at Spotland. Not only that, we had Orient legend, Jimmy Sawyer, getting trapped in the on board Karzi and Dave Staplehurst season-long obsession continued with the James Wood’s classic, ‘Cop’, being played to death on the coach Video.

I should think that over the next two or three seasons there is going to be a pretty big drop off in travelling for bread and butter games. I don’t think that the cost of entry at League one level is the major factor in all this either. It’s the peripherals that do the damage to the personal budget. Programme £3 a shot, Burger £2.80, Coke £1.80. Pint of whatever from £2.70-£4.00. Travelling costs range between anything from £10-£30. This is where hard pressed supporters are feeling the pinch and why they are becoming more selective in regard to what games they attend. Of course you could attempt to stow away on a mail train to cut costs as the infamous ‘Donuts’ did at Doncaster after the 5-2 demolition at Rotherham back in 1989. In those halcyon days it wasn’t unheard of for O’s fans to travel up to Stockport on a family railcard (with no family members within 40 miles of the carriage) or even get to Peterborough on a zone 1-6 travelcard from London Transport. Ticket inspectors were nowhere near the neo-Nazi replicants of today and even shouting ‘orrrrieeeenntt’ upon returning from a trip up North when you arrive back at platform 13 at Euston could very well get you shot in the current climate.

SO HOW MANY GROUNDS HAVE YOU DONE THEN?

And we have done a good many over the years. This question normally comes up in the ‘Birkbeck’ when Phil Crick, Captain Scarlet and Neil ‘Cheeky’ Edwards get together over a few drinks. I think that many of us must be in the high seventies to nineties by now, especially since promotion from the conference was introduced back in 1987 (blimey!). Those such as judge Dredd, Matt Roper,Dave Staplehurst and the supporters club coach regulars must be clocking up well over 100, not including non-league either. We have witnessed many changes over the past decade, especially since the Taylor report gave rise to all seater stadia. Not all of them for the benefit of the ordinary paying punter I may add. Those who can remember the rusty shed at the top of a grassy away end at Wigan, or the massive open terrace that dominated Roots Hall may be forgiven at shedding a nostalgic tear or two because by my reckoning the only venues with standing for away supporters are at Yeovil, Accrington, Morcambe and Peterborough (possibly Chesterfield too). That’s incredible, given that even in the late 90’s travelling O’s supporters spent more time standing rather than sitting. No fewer than 26 clubs that have played league football since the mid 1980’s have moved to brand new stadia and there are a few more in the offing (even us?) in the near future. Much has been said relating to the ‘match day experience/atmosphere’ (or more pertinently, lack of) found at grounds in the 21st century and it seems that even the simple act of ‘paying on the door’ is frowned upon. Clubs are constantly carping on about getting more supporters to attend games. But, for an organisation like orient (where you have to queue up to buy a ticket then queue up to get into a turnstile if you don’t have a season ticket and even makes it pretty complicated just to claim a free ticket or two) which only has four turnstiles open in a brand new stand, you can’t blame people for turning their backs on clubs and football in general. Some outfits would do well to remember that they are not Arsenal or Chelsea but smaller operations that need to (now more than ever) make themselves more accessible and not less to the public.

And with that off my chest it’s time to book my summer holiday. Mrs Mc Scrubbers guest house in Cleethorpes I think, or, increasing the gene pool on a Dewsbury Council estate. Have a good one anyway.

Toodle Pip
The cyberman.

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