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A stretcher was leaving the pitch as I arrived at Brisbane Road for the Chester match barely before kick-off. Eli Echanomi, Leyton Orient striker, had broken his leg in the warm-up.
Those who saw it said he’d just fallen over. He wasn’t even down on the subs bench for the evening, and must have gone out for a bit of fun or in the hope of impressing the manager. The match programme chose the night to feature him.
I seem to be seeing these ‘well, I’ve never seen that before’ matches. Like the one of the Pires/Henry penalty debacle against Manchester City. “Well, I’ve been coming here 45 years….,” said the bloke sitting in front of me. I beat him by a couple, and hadn’t seen anything like it either.
Fast and furiously on Tuesday the Os lost to their fellow promotion battlers. They shouldn’t have, because they had 75 per cent of game.
No matter what happens with them this season, though, you can’t help admiring the ability to earn a return of their chairman Barry Hearn.
One thing you’d have noticed with occasional visits to Leyton throughout the years is how it is one of the few areas of London to remain immune to the influences of gentrification. Hoxton has long since succumbed, even Peckham has fallen, but Leyton endures.
It’s an honest sort of area with not much - sorry, nothing - in the way of bright light attractions. A motorway cuts right through it like the planners had learned their stuff in Caracas.
Orient’s chairman was always taking a bit of a punt with his apartment blocks going up at each corner of the ground. No doubt they are to be called Hearn Heights. As easily, they could have been Barry’s Folly.
I can only conclude that he must have his contacts on the International Olympic Committee. Because with the decision to send the Games to London in 2012 even Leyton will be soon on the rise.
With all the development planned for London’s East End, the benefits from the Olympic decision are bound to creep down the Central Line. Stratford and its Euro terminal are only one stop away. I had an old girlfriend there some while ago who lived virtually within sight of the station. When I pass by on rare trips to the east I try to workout the lay-out of how things were around Angel Lane and the Theatre Royal but, while the theatre’s still there nothing else is, and I can’t.
But as for things that are constant, the man who bought us Steve Davis, cue endorsements and 2am dramas on baize that kept up half the nation has done it again in his quest to “make a few bob”.
I didn’t see him last night but reckon he must have been over in the bold new west stand that appears now on the point of completion. The west side of the ground was just an old stand and beyond it the municipal cinder pitch that Orient borrowed on Tuesday and Thursday nights for our junior training sessions.
Forty seasons ago Dave Sexton was manager and Harry Spinner trained the boys team, with his gammy leg incurred in the Malayan Emergency - or something more serious than a pre-match kick-about. A sudden return to form by old Joe Elwood, Sexton’s discovery of David Webb and inspired signing of Dave Metchick from Fulham kept the team up in the old second division.
Now they have a chance to get out of the new second division, once upon a time the fourth. The effort could have used a win - not a one-nil defeat - against Chester, who go fourth one point and place behind them. The Os struck the post three times and ran around like a dozen Kevin Keegans, but were a bit naive.
They let it get to them that Chester were wasting time from the first throw in. This kind of fitted with the style of their boss Keith Curle. He was perfectly courteous with the press - didn’t know you smoked, Keith - but he never went looking to be one of the most popular members of the Crazy Gang when he was a player at Wimbledon.
Orient coach Martin Ling said afterwards that he had thrown “no tea cups” and couldn’t fault his players.
But they could use promotion to match the Hearn plan for the irrepressible rise of Leyton.
Off to another bunch of new stadium-ites on Tuesday…the Arsenal….and great structures rising on the site of the old Ashburton Grove rubbish dump.
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