Leyton Orient – Meeting the opposition.
Tranmere entertain Leyton Orient at Prenton Park this Saturday afternoon as they aim to extend their winning run in their search for a play off place.
Ahead of the game, I spoke to Orient fanzine ‘@Pandamonium1884’ about the visitors, the hosts, the fanzine and the upcoming fixture on Merseyside.
How long have you supported Leyton Orient and when did the Panda Fanzine first start?
How would you describe the nature of the content it produces?
I started going with my Dad in 1978, aged 6 so this will be my 43rd season watching and supporting the O’s.
The fanzine started in 1991, we celebrated our 30th birthday this year.
We tend to try and mix between serious and jovial so for example we have a resident stats man that produces a monthly column looking at data, whilst we have a stand up comedian who takes a light hearted and topical look at the world of football.
Since you’ve been supporting the club, what have been the best and worst footballing moments?
The best was probably winning promotion in 1988/89. We came with a massive second half of the season run and squeezed through 4 amazingly tense play-off games.
The worst (although not necessarily footballing) was the severe destruction of the club during 2014-2017 by Francesco Becchetti, which was after one of the worst footballing moments, losing on penalties to Rotherham in the play-offs at Wembley in 2014.
Random fact about Leyton Orient? (The club/The area they play in)
The gable on top of the East Stand roof is off centre as it was originally in the middle but we bought a further “bit of a stand” from Mitchum and now the Leyton Orient gable and plaque stands off centre in relation to the whole stand.
How would you describe the O’s season so far and what are your hopes/expectations for the months ahead?
Typically frustrating. We have actually been very hard to beat, but have drawn too many games away from home. One week (usually at home) we can look like the best team in the division, but then a few days later we can look like cannon fodder. The hope is that we become more consistent in terms of victories and if we do that then a top seven place is easily achievable.
Taking a look at Saturday’s game, who would you say are the key players for either side?
Unfortunately, the best and prob key player we have had all season (right back Tom James) suffered a hamstring injury last Saturday V Crawley. Up front we have two in form strikers and Drinan and Smith & Craig Clay can be a real engine in the O’s midfield.
For Tranmere, the recent cup game saw what I believed to be a really poor Tranmere side that hardly put up a fight, but statistically, it’s obvious they have a very tight defence and therefore any or all of their back four/five plus the GK are probably key.
How do you believe this fixture will be approached by Orient manager Kenny Jackett, in terms of tactics and team selection? Also, what are the general thoughts of him by the fanbase?
Away from home we have looked less of a threat going forward and tend to play it, IMO, tighter so that we do not get beat. Most fans including me would rather see us use attack as the best form of defence and take the game to the opponent. He is going to have to shuffle the pack this weekend because we are becoming a bit decimated with injuries etc and that’s a concern as we are possibly going to have to start youngsters and won’t have a great deal on the bench. Most fans, if not all, are still behind him. Almost everybody was happy with the appointment and again the majority believe he will get it right in his two year contract here.
How would you describe the current relationship between supporters and the hierarchy of the club? Who are Orient’s owners and are there any current exciting off pitch plans to look forward to?
It’s pretty good. We obviously went through a period of extreme crisis before the current owners took over, so without being sarcastic you could have had Zippy and Bungle take over and it would have been an improvement. The new board are engaging and forward thinking, although at times can appear a little desperate for the pound in our pocket (but we all know that clubs at this level are loss making and every penny counts). Off the pitch, the owners are looking to become a sustainable club and whilst some of the ideas are a little far out, it is encouraging to see them looking further forwards in terms of building the club’s profile and attendances.
Thoughts on Tranmere, as a club in general?
Haven’t been to Tranmere for a few years now, but did quite a bit in the 80’s and 90’s and to be perfectly honest was always one of my favourite trips. Locals were pretty welcoming and we had some fantastic matches between us during that period. Like us, Tranmere live in the shadow of two massive clubs so I think there is a bit of mutual respect from both sides about the difficulties we face as clubs on and off the pitch.
The January transfer window is fast approaching, who would you like to see brought into the club and how would you describe the transfer recruitment completed in the summer of 2021?
Summer was quite astounding as we completely rebuilt the team, and to be fair we have knitted together pretty well for so many changes. It is my belief that we simply need “freshening up” in January. The midfield area is quite possibly one that needs a bit more competition (quite possibly for a more flair type player) and then defensively we might need to ship one in or out.
Finishing off, your score prediction for the weekend?
Actually, it’s ridiculously hard to predict. Following the recent cup game it would be easy to see why anyone could say we could knock Tranmere off the park again, but then that seemed a blip in terms of their results and definitely their defensive displays. I see the league game being much tighter. My heart says 1-0 to the O’s, but my head says it’s likely yet another draw for us and it could even be a 0-0 shut out.