Leyton Orient Football Club
Leyton Orient FC are the second oldest professional football team in London and the south-east behind Fulham. The Orient (otherwise known as “The O’s”) currently play in League One and their home is the Matchroom Stadium, located on Brisbane Road, Leyton, within the London borough of Waltham Forest.
The Early Years
The founders of Leyton Orient FC were originally members of the Glyn Cricket Club, who were also all former students of Homerton College, according to club historians. The club was formed in 1881, though it was not until the end of the Second World War that the club finally adopted the name of Leyton Orient FC. It was previously referred to as Eagle Cricket Club, Orient Football Club and Clapton Orient at various stages of its early history.
Leyton Orient historian Neilson N Kaufman reports that the name “Orient” was adopted owing to the fact that one of the players worked for the Orient Shipping Company at the time when the club name was chosen. The club played in the 2nd Division of the Southern League in 1904, but joined the Football League the following year, and are the 24th oldest club presently competing in the Football League.
When play was suspended for the First World War (1914-15 season), many Orient players went to fight on the battlefield and did not return. The final game of that season was played against Leicester Fosse, and an estimated 20,000 people turned up to see the game and the farewell parade that followed.
Following the First World War, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) attended the Leyton Orient game against Notts County, a game they won 3 – 0. It was the first time a monarch had officially attended a football game and he did so in order to commemorate the Orient’s heroic role in the War.
The Glory Years
It is indisputable that the Orient’s golden years were the 1960s and 70s. Most memorably, in the 1961/2 season Orient were promoted to the top division in English football after finishing second in the-then Second Division, guided by manager Johnny Carey. However, the Orient struggled in the higher division and were relegated back down to the Second Division immediately.
The Orient remained in the Second Division throughout the 1970s, though memorably reached the semi-final stage of the FA Cup in 1978 – the furthest they have ever progressed in the competition. To add to the cup success, Leyton Orient were Division Three South Champions in the 1955/6 season and Division Three Champions in 1969/70. They were also Anglo-Scottish Cup Runners Up in 1976/77.
Up To The Present Day
The Orient again managed promotion in the 1988/9 season, under the management of Frank Clark. They were promoted as winners of the Division 4 Play-off final, defeating Wrexham FC 2-1. However, in 1999 and 2001 the club were knocked out of the Third Division Play-offs stage, two consecutive major disappointments for the club.
Finally, in 2005/6 they managed to regain automatic promotion to the (now) Football League Division 1 by finishing in 3rd place. This was the first time the Orient had gained automatic promotion in 36 years, and ended an 11-year run in the bottom division of the Football League. The same season, Leyton Orient managed an excellent run in the FA Cup, progressing as far as the 4th round by eliminating Premier League Fulham in giant-killing style.
The promotion race finish was a nail-biting one that season. Towards the end, the Orient were away at Oxford United and, with the teams level at 2-2, Orient were set to miss out on promotion. In the final few minutes however, news reached Orient fans that a late goal had been scored against promotion rivals Grimsby, which would mean promotion for Orient. The Orient fans began to celebrate when, only a few seconds later, Lee Steele secured their promotion by scoring the winner against Oxford. The result also relegated Oxford to the Football Conference.
- Biggest Victory – 8-0 (vs Crystal Palace (Division 3 South, 12 November 1955), vs Rochdale (Division 4, 14 October 1987), vs Colchester United (Div 4, 15 October 1988), vs Doncaster Rovers (Division 3, 28 December 1997)).
- Biggest Defeat – 0-8 (vs Aston Villa, FA Cup 4th Round, 30 January 1929).
- Highest Attendance – 34,345 (vs West Ham United, FA Cup 4th round, 25 January 1964).
- Most League Goals In A Season – Tommy Johnston (35, Division 2, 1957-8)
- Most League Goals In Total – Tommy Johnston (121, 1956-58, 1959-61)
- Highest Transfer Fee Received – c. £1,500,000 (for Gabriel Zakuani from Fulham, July 2006)
- Highest Transfer Fee Paid – £175,000 (for Paul Beesley to Wigan Athletic, October 1989)
The nearest station is the Leyton underground stop on the Central Line, or Leyton Midland Road overground.
From Leyton underground station, turn right down the hill and follow the High Road to Coronation Gardens on your left. Turn down Buckingham Road after the park and the ground is in front of you.
From Leyton Midland Road, turn left towards Leyton and continue down the High Road past Leyton Cricket ground until you reach Windsor Road. Turn down Windsor Road and the ground is in front of you.
From The North – Exit J27 off the M25 and follow signs to London (NE) M11 onto the M11 Southbound. After approximately 7 miles, at a fork in the road, take the right onto the North Circular Road. Keep in the left hand lane and take the first exit after only half a mile (Walthamstow and City A104), then Whipps Cross A104, West End (A503).
At the roundabout, turn left onto Woodford New Road A104 and at the next roundabout after 1.2 miles, take the second exit (marked Leyton A104) and follow the road round to the left, towards the BP station, into Lea Bridge Road.
After 0.5 miles, just after the Esso station, turn left at the lights into Leyton Green Road. Follow it left after 0.3 miles and turn left at the T-junction into Leyton High Road.
From South – Take the Blackwall Tunnel, out of the tunnel, continue on the A102 following signs to Stratford and Dalston. Stay on the A102/106 for 4.2 miles, following signs for Leyton, passing New Spitalfields Market and over a bridge. At the traffic lights after the Car Superstore, turn left onto Olivier Road.
Individual match tickets and season tickets for Leyton Orient can be purchased online by following the online ticket link on their website.
Alternatively, you can buy tickets directly from the ticket office at the Matchroom Stadium, or by calling the following direct ticket line: 0871 310 1883