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, Group Sports Editor
Thursday, December 6, 2012
It’s with a tinge of sadness that I have compiled my last-ever Orient page for the Archant Group.
I’ve been covering the highs and the lows of the mighty O’s for almost 25 years, but have decided it’s time to blow the final whistle, hang up my laptop and pen and retire.
It’s been a long and eventful journey since I saw Orient battle out a goalless draw against Crewe Alexandra on the opening day of the 1988-89 season and I’d like to place on record my sincere thanks to all the managers and players who have given me their time so freely over the years.
There have been plenty of memorable moments and I could not have scripted a better start as O’s won promotion from Division Four in 1989 under the guidance of Frank Clark.
He was the first of 10 managers I had the pleasure to talk to on a weekly basis and was followed by Peter Eustace, John Sitton and Chris Turner, Pat Holland, Tommy Taylor, Paul Brush, Martin Ling, Geraint Williams and Russell Slade.
There are things I will never forget.
Three Play-off finals – the first ended in triumph against Wrexham when it was a two-legged affair – and then there were the disappointments of defeats at Wembley and the Millennium Stadium when Scunthorpe and Blackpool ended Tommy Taylor’s promotion dreams.
There are games that will live long in the memory too, like the time O’s defended heroically at Scarborough in the play-off semi-final in 1989.
Ten days later came the 2-1 win against Wrexham and promotion in front of more than 12,000 fans at Brisbane Road.
But, perhaps the most dramatic of all was the 3-2 success at Oxford United on the final day of the 2005-06 season when Lee Steele’s last-gasp goal clinched promotion. Sweet memories.
There have been some notable FA Cup wins at Fulham and Portsmouth.
The home draw with Arsenal ranks high on the radar – but equally, there have been some lows, like the exits to non-league sides Enfield after two replays, Stevenage Borough, Hendon and Margate.
There are players I will fondly remember, Terry Howard, Steve Castle, Kevin Hales, Danny Carter, Matt Joseph, Stuart Hicks, Martin Ling, Scott McGleish, Carl Griffiths, Matt Lockwood, Dean Smith, Jabo Ibehre, Gary Alexander, John Mackie, Craig Easton and Stephen Dawson – all top men and there were many more.
And there were some bizarre moments, like the time club legend Terry Howard was sacked at half-time after playing over 400 games for the club.
As Group Sports Editor of Archant London, covering Orient was my favourite part of the job, but it was only a small part of my role.
I will miss compiling the chalkboard and the unpredictability of an Orient team who, over the years, have an infuriating habit of doing things the hard way.
Losing games you expect them to win and winning the matches you expect them to lose. A word of warning – never put your money on the O’s!
But most of all I’ll miss you the readers. Goodbye and God bless you all.