Even for self-avowed football obsessives like yours truly sometimes life/ the Premier League can get in the way; with a Stag Weekend in Belfast and most scarcely believable of all… an Arsenal home game at 3pm on a Saturday(!), meaning that I was going to have to miss out on two Orient home games. Thankfully Mrs Football Nerd was prepared to stay loyal to the cause and continue to support the O’s on our behalf. Here’s her story of the two matches:
Orient 3 Barnet 1 – Still unbeaten and still believing!
My first thought on finding out that the husband was off to Belfast for one of his mate’s Stag-Do was not one of fear for his safety, or indeed even concern over what mischief eleven blokes could get themselves into over the Irish Sea; but a very real worry as to the impact this was going to have on our commitment to Orient-watching. Sure enough a quick glance at the fixture list confirmed that it was Barnet at home on that very Saturday. What was I going to do?
I briefly considered not going and finding something else to keep me occupied on an early autumn Saturday afternoon, but having been with the Football Nerd for more than fifteen years, I soon realised I was kidding myself if I seriously thought that was a realistic option. Once I had decided that I couldn’t miss this game, the only question was whether I could convince anyone else to come with me? Then it hit me: sunshine, beer, a day out at the football… my good friend Cathy would almost certainly be up for it.
With Cathy being slightly unpredictable in actually turning up to events that she has said she would, I erred on the side of caution and opted not to buy tickets in advance; deciding that it would be a better option to pay on the door and try to secure a seat in Tommy Johnson / South Stand, where the husband had assured me that not only was there a bar but that it was rumoured to sell cocktails.
A full hour after Cathy was initially due to arrive at our house; we finally set off to the game. With little time for a pre-match pint we decided to make our way into the ground and asked a steward where we could buy tickets, he pointed us in the direction of the nearest box office which turned out to be in the East Stand where the husband and I usually sit. The guy in the ticket office offered us 2 concessionary tickets for a mere five pounds each for some unknown reason (they are normally £20 each on the day), but at that price we were happy enough not to ask questions, paid our money and left. As we headed towards the entrance the realisation hit us that we had been allocated seats in the Away End, despite us telling the guy in the ticket office that we were O’s fans on several occasions. Maybe this is why the tickets had been so cheap in the first place!
No matter how cheap they were, we were not going to spend the match surrounded by Barnet fans and so we spoke to another steward who informed us that we could take the tickets back and get a refund and then go and buy Orient tickets on the other side of the stadium. As time was ticking on we ignored his advice and simply went to the next turnstile along in the East Stand, the one that the husband and I use every match because as soon as you emerge into the ground you are immediately in the queue for a beer. To our amazement we were let through without any problem whatsoever despite our bargain-priced £5 Away Fan tickets.
We quickly purchased some beer and then went and sat in mine and the husband’s normal row, unfortunately our usual seats were taken and we had to sit on the end of the row, but given how little we had paid there was little cause for complaint.
At this point I started to feel a strange nervousness creeping over me, this was not through any fear that we were going to be turfed out of the ground but a strange worry that as we hadn’t paid full price for our tickets this would in some way jinx the O’s and bring to a halt their unbeaten start to the season (Ed’s note: the mind of a football fan hey?). Thankfully a good start by Orient in which they very nearly scored twice in the opening minutes and an early goal from Coulson eased the nerves somewhat.
Unfortunately Barnet pulled one back on 24 minutes taking us into the half-time break at 1-1. After half –time Orient were brilliant and wrapped up all three points with goals from Dayton and Bonne, securing the side’s 11th game unbeaten from the start of the season to my immense relief. We left the ground having thoroughly enjoyed the experience and highly impressed with the way the team was shaping up for the much-anticipated promotion push.
Orient 0 Sutton United 1 – Still believing if not unbeaten!
After following up the victory over Barnet with impressive away wins at Harrogate, 3-0, and Braintree Town, 5-1, there was no way in the world that I was going to miss out on the next home game. With the husband fulfilling his Arsenal-watching duty and no one else to rope in, I decided to go solo to the Sutton United game, hopeful but not convinced we would stretch our unbeaten start to 14 matches on what turned out to be another lovely sunny Saturday afternoon. Alas it was not to be, as ultimately all good things must come to an end.
As per my usual instructions to the husband in his trips to watch Arsenal, I asked him only to update me on the score if Arsenal are winning, being far too much of a sore loser to even want to know if things are going wrong. Unfortunately for him he didn’t realise that this would apply to my own score updates, meaning that I didn’t send a single text as I could not bring myself to tell him when we were losing.
As I was alone and an old gent was sitting in the husband’s normal seat, I asked one of the regulars if I could sit with him and we had a chat about our chances in the match. To my utter amazement he was even less convinced than me that we were going to win. Pessimism being a default, self-protecting emotion for the Orient faithful! As it turned out, he was to be sadly proven right, despite the O’s starting the match fairly well and Macauley Bonne very nearly scoring before half-time.
There were a few more near misses early in the second half, but then Sutton managed to score, deflating the atmosphere amongst the 5,000 plus crowd, it was a dagger to the heart for O’s fans who had maybe just started to get carried away following the team’s brilliant start to the season.
Gorman hit the bar late on but Orient were unable to find the equalizer they needed to stay unbeaten in the five added minutes (given mainly for Sutton’s timewasting antics). As I left the stadium with a heavy heart, the only conclusion I could come to was that I had been the unlucky charm and that maybe I shouldn’t have gone on my own. For a brief moment I deluded myself that I wouldn’t go again in such circumstances…well not until the next time anyway!
Mrs Football Nerd