FA Trophy provides Leyton Orient a chance to show progress on the pitch, not just off it!
PUBLISHED: 13:02 17 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:06 17 January 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
In an article from our ‘Year in Sport’ pull-out, we look back on Leyton Orient’s 2017 and explain why this year provides renewed hope
Leyton Orient will be hoping to reach Wembley in May and make 2018 a year to remember for all of the right reasons after a terrible 12 months at Brisbane Road.
The O’s faithful have seen it all in 2017, but they can take solace from the fact for the first time in a long while, matters off the pitch look to be in the right hands.
Orient lost their status as a Football League club last year, as they suffered relegation from League Two on April 22 during a disastrous season under the ownership of former chairman Francesco Becchetti.
This time in 2017 O’s were in turmoil and onto their third manager of the campaign with Andy Edwards stepping up, but he soon departed and even though his replacement Danny Webb helped lift spirits at Brisbane Road, he was always fighting a losing battle in E10.
Webb ended his time at the east Londoners after another tough defeat in March at Crawley Town – their fourth in a row – and Omer Riza took over the reins for the final six weeks of the campaign.
He was unable to pull off what would have been the greatest of great escapes with a squad full of mostly teenagers due to injuries and so Orient’s fate was sealed at Crewe Alexandra.
Fans took matters into their own hands though, after staff and players had gone weeks without pay, and two pitch invasions in April finally got the message over to Becchetti that he had to go.
On June 22 the takeover that everyone wanted was confirmed as the Italian left E10 for good and a consortium led by Nigel Travis and Kent Teague ensured the O’s were back in safe hands.
Martin Ling returned as Director of Football with Matt Porter on the board again and despite a summer of what looked to be impressive recruitment, O’s struggled to adjust to life in the top tier of non-league football.
Boss Steve Davis paid the price and was sacked on November 14 and by the time new man Justin Edinburgh had been appointed on November 29, Orient found themselves in a relegation battle.
The 48-year-old has steadied the ship though with O’s now six points clear of the bottom four and dreaming of Wembley after qualifying for the last-16 of the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Orient will visit high-flying Dover Athletic in the next round on February 3 and should back themselves to progress against a club which will most likely prioritise going up over cup success.
A promotion push this time around looks virtually impossible now, but if O’s can win the FA Trophy in May, it will be another step in the right direction.