12
Feb

Trecker’s Travels: East London’s much-needed humor

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LONDON

Green Street, the approach to the Boleyn Ground at Upton Park, has a famous clock outside the Tube station. The message is grim: it reads “DON’T KILL YOUR WIFE/LET US DO IT.” It’s for a launderette, and it’s sold with typical East London humor.

There’s a lot of that around here, and the area needs it: Upton Park is in a ragged part of London, clogged with shops offering mobile phone unlocking, open-air fish markets and halal eateries. And the football here’s not offering much relief.

West Ham is an immensely proud club, fallen on some difficult times. Nearly 120 years old, they have bounced back and forth between the Premier League and the Championship in recent years and are currently locked in a fierce relegation battle. Tuesday night, they were in a classic six-pointer against an equally poor Norwich side, hoping to put a bit more distance between themselves and the drop.

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Off the field, the Hammers have been a bit more successful. Owned by two veterans of London’s now-faded pornography industry, David Gold and David Sullivan, West Ham have inked a sweet deal to move out of their aging ground and take over the Olympic Stadium in nearby Stratford. For a mere $26 million, they will get to take over a stadium that is expected to cost nearly $310 million to retrofit for football. In addition, they announced on Monday that they will sell their old grounds here to a private developer, in a deal that has been reported as worth nearly $120m. Not a bad bit of business.

Not everyone is happy about that, mind you. Tiny Leyton Orient, currently trying to clamber out of the third division, sits in the Olympic Stadium’s shadow. They fear their tiny stadium on Brisbane Road simply won’t be able to compete, and they have a point, but they have lost several legal challenges to West Ham’s tenancy there, and as it stands, the matter is settled.

The funny thing is that West Ham might not be far apart from Leyton in the tables next season. Their fabled “Academy of Football” is referenced with heavy irony these days and with just seven points separating the eleven teams trying to stay in the top-flight, they have a brutal run-in ahead of them. In the final weeks, the Hammers will play both Manchester sides, Liverpool and three London derbies (against Palace, Arsenal and Spurs). They are currently 4-1 to go down the chute.

Leyton, on the other hand, sit in third in League One and have a realistic chance of going into the Championship. They are hardly world-beaters and rely too much on a single player — defender Romain Vincelot, a steely defender who begins most of their play out of the back — but they aren’t half bad, either.

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The fact that these two clubs on opposite trajectories — one wealthy but always soggy; another plucky but well-scrubbed — might meet next year is a bit of an irony. What would be even better is if the two were in the same division come 2016. One will be playing in a taught ground that barely seats 10,000. The other might be rattling in around a 54,000 seat stadium. And both are likely to be far away from the top-flight.

24
Nov

Fan to receive lifetime ban after invading pitch, punching goalkeeper

League One side Leyton Orient beat Swindon Town 3-1 on Saturday to maintain their lead in the standings, but the story of the match was an ugly incident. During a stoppage of play, a Swindon fan stormed the pitch and threw several punches at Orient goalkeeper Jamie Jones.

Reports have since confirmed that the fan was immediately arrested, and Orient’s chief executive Matt Porter said Swindon are set to hand the supporter a life ban from their ground.

According to the Daily Mail, the FA will speak to officials from both Swindon and Orient before deciding on whether to take any more action.

A spokesman said: ‘We deplore scenes of this kind and would call for the authorities to take the appropriate actions if allegations of assault are proven.

The spokesman also confirmed the FA would push for a banning order from all grounds.

Following the incident, infuriated O’s manager Russell Slade called for a lifetime ban on all grounds, while Swindon chairman Jed McCrory apologized to Jones and vowed to launch a review of the club’s safety measures.

Pictures of the attack, as well as comments by Orient captain Nathan Clarke are below:

9
Oct

Leyton Orient coach bars team from playing FIFA 14 on match days

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As far as excuses for a drop in performance go, this one should be top of the list.

English football league club Leyton Orient are flying high at the top of the third division in the country. With eight wins from their first eight games, two draws from their next two has left their manager angry, despite their unexpected lofty league position.

After such a brilliant start, you can surely forgive the players for slacking off a little?

Not Orient though. Their reaction to slump? They’ve banned players from playing FIFA 14 on the Playstation 3 in the club’s new team bus.

In a bid to improve his players’ concentration levels, boss Russell Slade has moved quickly to ban the game being played on match days, citing the following reason: “several hours playing football on a video game is not conducive to a good performance in the real thing.”

Orient’s communications manager Johnny Davies told British newspaper The Independent:

“The coach boasts a fold-out massage table, a coffee machine and Sky TV, but the most exciting thing for the players was a PlayStation 3.

“For the majority of the trip the lads, led by Lloyd James, got stuck into the new FIFA 14 game and at times even played as themselves against Oldham in preparation for the match the following day.”

And if the whole scenario wasn’t silly enough, as Leyton Orient’s main sponsor, FIFA 14’s logo adorns the team’s kits.