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Club News

LEAGUE ONE FOCUS: LEYTON ORIENT

7 July 2014

Leyton Orient play their home matches at the Matchroom Stadium, previously known as Brisbane Road.

They have been there for nearly 80 years of their 133-year history and are currently owned by popular sports promoter Barry Hearn, who is renown for being responsible for the growth of darts and snooker in recent years.

They are based in North East London and they regard Southend, Brentford, Dagenham & Redbridge and West Ham United amongst their rivals, as well as Brighton & Hove Albion and Cambridge United, who were recently promoted to the Football League.

The club’s rivalry with West Ham has been fuelled in recent years, as the clubs battled to be the tenants of the Olympic Stadium, with Orient claiming it would be more beneficial to them, as well the £500m+ costing stadium being closer to their borough, in the outskirts of London.

Former Iron forward Chris Dagnall is currently on the books with Orient, having joint the O’s in January. In two years at Glanford Park, he scored nine times.

Orient have been in the top tier of English football once in their history, in 1963. They have been in League One since they were promoted from League Two in 2006. Before that promotion, they had been in the third division of the English football system since relegation in 1995.

Manager: Russell Slade
Orient manager Russell Slade is revelling in a management career in football, having never played professionally himself.

The 53-year old took over the London side in 2010 and he’s rapidly turned them into promotion contenders, despite chairman Barry Hearn running the club on a shoestring budget.

He began his early career as a school teacher before becoming assistant and then caretaker manager at Notts County. He had spells at Non-League clubs Armitage and Leicester United and Scarborough, with a couple of stints as caretaker at Sheffield United sandwiched in between.

He climbed the managerial ladder up the Football League, building a good reputation, managing Grimsby and Yeovil before Brighton secured his services.

Last season, you could really see his methods coming together and he was unlucky to end the season without silverware, except a joint Manager of the Year award for League One, shared with Wolves boss Kenny Jackett. Slade previously won the League One Manager of the Year accolade whilst in-charge of Yeovil in 2006/07.

Slade is currently the fourth longest-serving manager in the Football League and he puts it down to his working relationship with chairman Hearn. He told Sky Sports in May: “"I think we've had one board meeting in four-and-a-half years! Barry speaks to me once a week on the phone, we get on very well, and I see him on matchdays when we're at home. I am able to run the club the way I want to run it, with my staff and my players, and try to move it forward and I think I've done that.”

Key Player: Nathan Clarke
Orient captain proved a popular figure as he was named the club’s Player of the Year for 2013/14, a season in which the whole team performed terrifically throughout.                                               

Clarke, a 6ft 1in 30-year old defender, played for Orient 54 times last season, scoring twice and putting his body on the line as Orient narrowly missed out on promotion.                                                   

Born in Halifax, he started his career at nearby West Yorkshire club Huddersfield Town, where he made nearly 300 appearances in eleven years with the Terriers, who were also his boyhood club.  

While he was at Huddersfield, he had loan spells at Colchester, Oldham and Bury and Town and Clarke parted ways as opportunities on the field dried up.                                                           

Orient won the race for his signature and he’s repaid Russell Slade’s faith by putting in outstanding performances to show why he is the ideal leader for a club looking to make the transition into the Championship after a 32-year spell away from English Football’s second tier.

Last year’s play-off failure adds to Clarke’s long list of play-off experience, after losing in the semi-finals on four occasions and winning twice, in 2004 and 2012.

Last Season
Orient were the pacesetters in League One in 2013/14, as they won their first eleven matches of the season, including a Capital One Cup match with Coventry. They continued their good form and, by November 16th, they had only lost two league matches.

The consistency continued, turning losses into draws and it was only February where they had a bad spell, with three defeats and a draw in four games.                                                                         

They failed to hold their place in the top two, finishing in third, a position which they will have accepted had it been offered to them at the start of the season.

Eight points separated them from second-placed Brentford and they were paired with fourth-placed Rotherham in the play-offs. Despite winning their home fixture in the first leg, Rotherham brought it back and beat Slade’s men on penalties to confirm their place in the Championship and seal Orient’s fate for next season as a League One club.                                                                                         

Excluding the play-offs, Orient won 25 matches, drawing eleven and losing only ten times and were the division’s third-highest top scorers.                                                                                              

David Mooney was their top scorer with 21 goals (in all competitions) in 48 appearances and Kevin Lisbie had 18 goals and Dean Cox had 17.

That’s a total of 56 goals from three of their players and Russell Slade will be keen to keep hold of the three key men to fire them to promotion next year, as well as having Nathan Clarke marshall the back four, who only conceded 45 goals in the whole of the season.

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