May 22 2013 Latest news:
Matt Arnot, London24 Leyton Orient blogger
Thursday, February 23, 2012
“From the 31st of October 1993 to the 9th of September 1996 Leyton Orient football club won one league game away from home”
Cast your mind back a week or so. It was a beautiful Valentine’s Day, wasn’t it? Yes, the love of your life had been distant in the previous fortnight (ever since it let you down so badly four weeks ago), but a special night out at the seaside made you fall for them all over again.
It had been a frustrating few weeks for everyone associated with E10, with a dismal home defeat to Colchester festering for longer than it should have as the freezing weather forced two consecutive postponements. A trip to nouveaux riche playoffs chasers Bournemouth might have looked like another recipe for disaster, but with this particular Orient ‘vintage’ an away game at Barcelona would be more likely to yield a win than a home game with Fisher Athletic Reserves. And Fisher folded in 2009.
Heading away from Brisbane Road is a bit like taking your better half to a really swanky place (or Stevenage), ordering a bottle of wine that begins with ‘Castle’ and then continues with a number of words you can’t translate from the French and then tucking in to a Michelin starred meal accompanied by a serenading string quartet. A home game is like cracking open a bottle of Blue Nun on the sofa with a pot noodle to eat and TOWIE on the telly.
It wasn’t always like this. From the 31st of October 1993 to the 9th of September 1996 Leyton Orient football club won one league game away from home. The comparative tally of 26 home wins in that time isn’t actually representative of an overly strong record in E10, but these wins were what kept the worst Orient sides in history out of non-league (if not out of the basement).
Even during stronger seasons of relatively recent memory, the O’s traditionally struggled away from E10. The victorious playoff campaign of 1988/89 saw the O’s record just five away wins, the first of which didn’t arrive until January. Three seasons later our 7th place finish in the third tier was augmented by the same paltry number of wins; the better part of an away record which at one point included 7 consecutive losses. The O’s recorded 16 home wins in each season.
Whilst being good at home and poor away isn’t a particularly unusual phenomenon amongst the also-rans of the Football League, Orient have managed to take the discrepancy to some more impressive extremes than most: 94/95’s record-breakingly bad tally of 2 points from 23 away games remains the second worst post-war away record, and comfortably the worst since it became three points for a win.
This season is beginning to feel like stepping into a parallel universe.
Like most changes on the pitch in recent years, it can be traced back to Martin Ling. Backbone of the squad changing (for a few seasons at least) from journeymen to youth team products? Martin Ling’s success as youth team manager. Inability counteract the ‘Paul Brush’ effect? Martin Ling’s failure as assistant manager. Dragging Orient out of the basement? Martin Ling as manager. Stephen Purches and Sam Parkin? Martin Ling’s fault. Good quality counter-attacking football involving real, live wide players? Lingy. First season in our entire history with a better away record than home record? Yep.
In the promotion season of 2005/06 we managed 11 wins apiece at home and away, but only suffered 3 defeats on the road in comparison to 6 in E10. Unless things change rather rapidly, this season will see the inverse gap between the records widen further than ever before.
Saturday’s defeat at home to Scunthorpe was typical of the way Orient have played in home games: a reasonable start, followed by a second half c(r)apitulation against an appalling side (see also: defeats against Wycombe, pre-cash Bournemouth, Tranmere, Oldham, Colchester, Carlisle and the draws with Chesterfield and Hartlepool). At least Franchise had the decency to just smash us out of sight over the whole 90 minutes.
With a current record of W4 D4 L8 at the Matchbox, this O’s side is seriously threatening be a new entry into the top 5 worst home records in the club’s history (two of those spots are already occupied by post-Ling appointment seasons). Orient need 13 points from their last 7 home games to avoid that dubious honour, and 9 points to avoid the ignominy of taking the number one slot. With the lack of intent and desire shown in the feckless, listless second half against the Iron being so commonplace in E10 this season, even that eventuality looks unlikely.
On the plus side, we’re playing over 220 miles from Brisbane Road this Saturday so I should be able to write a cheerier blog next week…
Up the O’s!
Follow me @KidSampsonO and England’s second oldest fanzine @leytonorientear on Twitter.