Leyton Orient is one of the oldest football clubs in London, having existed in some form since 1881. The club has played in the lower half of the English football league system for most of its history, and spent just one solitary season – 1962-3 – in the top flight before being relegated again. Today, the club competes in League Two, the lowest of four divisions in the English league having won promotion from the National League in 2019 under the stewardship of former Tottenham defender Justin Edinburgh, who sadly died from cardiac arrest in June 2019. The club sat in a comfortable 17th place when the League Two season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, well clear of the relegation places.
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Leyton Orient History
Leyton Orient owes its existence to the Glyn Cricket Club, whose players formed the football club in 1881. Many of the founding players were alumni The Independent College, Homerton in neighbouring Hackney. The club underwent numerous name changes and didn’t adopt the name Leyton Orient until the 1940s. Prior to that, the club was called Clapton Orient, in acknowledgement of the town it originally represented. The club had moved two miles up the road to Leyton in 1937. Another name change followed in the 60s when the club was known solely as ‘Orient’ during a period where the club flirted with ruin and only benevolence and fundraising drives maintained the club’s existence. The team reverted to the name Leyton Orient in 1987 and thankfully they’ve retained it ever since.
The chequered history of the name is enough to fill a chapter of any historical compendium dedicated to the club. It also reflects the story of the Leyton Orient on the pitch in many ways. Following the club’s election to the football league in 1905, Orient enjoyed relative stability without seriously threatening promotion from the second division to the first. Performances dipped in the post-war years and after relegation to the newly established third division, Orient spent years in the lower reaches of the then lowest tier of the football league. Fortunes improved in the mid-1950s, when Orient earned promotion back to the 2nd division. They retained that status for the next 6 years, before winning promotion to the first division for the first and only time in Orient’s existence in 1962.
Relegation & Promotion
Unfortunately, this flirtation with the elite proved to be a fleeting one. Leyton Orient were relegated in last place in 1963 and fans still await a return. The club dipped back down into tier 3 during the 1960s as the club suffered near financial oblivion before rising again to the 2nd division, where they spend most of all of the 1970s. Orient bounced between tiers 3 and 4 throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. They nearly achieved promotion back to the 2nd tier Championship in 2014 but bad times were to follow. Italian businessman Francesco Beccheti’s acquisition of Orient triggered a steep decline which culminated in a disastrous 2016-7 season which ended in relegation to the non-league for the first time since Orient’s election to the football league. Thankfully, a change in ownership and the steady leadership of Edinburgh saw the club promoted again in 2019 only for tragedy to strike with Edinburgh’s death the following summer. Leyton Orient enjoyed a comfortable first season back in League Two under the leadership of new manager Ross Embleton.
Leyton Orient Trophies
Leyton Orient’s trophy count is predictably modest. They are two time winners of the third tier of English football, as well as National League champions once. The club achieved promotion to the top tier by finishing 2nd in the Second Division in 1962, their second highest league placing of all time. They won the FA Trophy, the most prodigious non-league competition, in the year they were promoted. Aside from these successes at national level, Orient won numerous competitions at local level in its early years.
Leyton Orient Stadium
Leyton Orient’s name changes were accompanied by a nomadic existence in its early years. They finally moved to their current home on Brisbane Road in 1937. The stadium has originally been home to another local club, Leyton F.C., and has undergone numerous changes throughout its history. The club gradually upgraded Brisbane Road’s four stands throughout the 1960s and 1970s, adding more seating. Orient famously demolished the South Stand in 1996, hoping for national lottery funding to rebuild it. The funding failed to arrive and it was 1999 before the stand was reestablished.
Today, the Leyton Orient stadium is officially known as The Breyer Group Stadium although fans still refer to it as Brisbane Road. The East Stand, with a capacity of 3636 is comfortably the biggest in the ground. Brisbane Road’s South Stand is named after Orient’s record goalscorer Tommy Johnston while the North Stand, now called the Qualiteach Community Stand, also functions as the family area. The West Stand was renamed in honour of the late Justin Edinburgh in January 2020 and boasts the most modern facility. Although its capacity is some 800 seats short of its opposite number, the Justin Edinburgh Stand is considered the ‘main stand’ at Leyton Orient.
Leyton Orient Forum
We want to establish this site as a place to meet and chat with other Orient fans. But there is already a well-established Leyton Orient forum and messageboard online. The snappily named Independent Leyton Orient Forum sees the most activity and lively chat. The forum admins devote a special area of the site to Justin Edinburgh tributes too. Most other Leyton Orient forums are now closed, or direct fans to the Independent Leyton Orient Forum.
Leyton Orient Twitter
Leyton Orient’s marketing team is active on Twitter and other social media platforms. You can find the club using the handle @leytonorientfc. The Leyton Orient twitter feed features a mixture of news, interviews, highlights, polls and other club content. Similar topics feature highly on the Leyton Orient Instagram page as well. The page attracts 31,000 followers, which is considerably more than the club’s average attendance of 5600. The Leyton Orient Facebook page is a little bit less active but has earned a whopping 63,000 likes. At the time of writing, all these platforms and the official Leyton Orient website are fixated on the news that England Captain Harry Kane will sponsor the club from 2020, giving up shirt space to three different charities.
Leyton Orient Players
Harry Kane’s sponsorship is sure to attract publicity. As an 18 year old, the Spurs icon spent a spell on loan to Orient, scoring 5 goals in 18 games. He has retained an affiliation with the club, hence his current involvement. While Kane’s contribution on the field is modest, other former players have made much more of an impact.
Leyton Orient Legends
Former England winger Laurie Cunningham is one. He started his career with Orient, playing 75 games in the 1970s. A pioneer and icon for black footballers, Cunningham later became the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid. A bronze statue of him now stands near Brisbane Road.
Midfielder Peter Allen holds Orient’s record for appearances. He played in 490 matches across a 13 year spell in the 1960s and 70s, scoring 29 goals. Striker Tommy Johnston, after whom the South Stand at Brisbane Road is named, scored more goals than any other Orient player. Johnston only spent five years with the O’s (across two separate spells) but his phenomenal scoring rate saw him plunder 121 strikes in less than 200 matches. More modern heroes include Martin Ling, a classy midfielder who played in the Premier League with Swindon before joining Orient. Ling also managed the club between 2003 and 2009.
Leyton Orient Squad
Jamaican international veteran Job McAnuff captains the current Leyton Orient squad. The midfielder is a firm fan’s favourite having led the O’s out of the National League. He previously played for Wimbledon, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Watford and Reading, where he spent one season in the Premier League. At the other end of the age-scale is 22 year old Jordan Maguire-Drew, a pacy winger who joined Orient from Brighton. Maguire was another key member of the 2019 promotion side and carried his form into league football. Irish striker Conor Wilkinson joined the club in the summer of 2019 and top scored with 8 goals before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the League Two season prematurely.
It may have been 60 years since Preston North End last played in the top division of English football, but there is nobody can question the club’s illustrious history. Not only were they founder members of the football league in 1888, but they became the first club to win the title in its inaugural season. That same year, they also lifted the FA Cup having not conceding a goal in any of the rounds. This ensured they became the first club to win the league and cup double, a fact that may surprise younger fans. That feat cannot be underestimated. Although Aston Villa matched it within ten years, it would be over 60 years before another team did. That same season, 1960-61, was the be Preston’s last in the top division. Until now at least.
Preston North End History
Preston’s double winning success is all the more remarkable given the team had only played their first football match some ten years earlier. They began life as a cricket club until the winter of 1878 when the players, bereft of an activity to keep fit in winter, tried football. They’d dabbled with rugby the previous year, but that experiment failed. The players much preferred association rules and by 1880, the football club was born.
Part of the Preston North End’s early success can be attributed to innovation. The club was one of the first to invite players down from Scotland, where the game was further advanced than it was in England. In 1887, Scottish forward Jimmy Ross scored 8 goals in a mammoth 26-0 FA Cup victory over Hyde, a winning margin which still stands as a record today. They followed up their success in the first ever League season by retaining the title the following year. Remarkably, however, that is the last time that they lifted the top flight trophy. Preston gave been runners-up five times including twice in the 1950s, but never again have they ruled English football.
Tom Finney to the Present Day
The two near misses in the 1950s were the pinnacle of their best period since those early successes. Inspired by their favourite son Sir Tom Finney, scorer of 187 goals in 433 appearances, the team became a force once more. However, an FA Cup final defeat in 1954 cemented the team’s reputation as nearly men and by 1961, the year after Finney retired, the club was relegated. They did reach the Cup final again in 1964, the same year they narrowly missed out on promotion. A sharp decline through the 70s and 80s should Preston drop out of the league in 1986 but they recovered well and currently play in the 2nd tier Championship. A couple of play off defeats in the early 21st century added further heartbreak but the club continues to flirt with promotion and fans live in hope.
Preston North End Honours
Preston’s honours board has been augmented by triumphs in the lower divisions of English football throughout the 20th century. The club’s full list of trophies sits as:
- First Division (now Premier League) – 2
- FA Cup – 2
- Second Division (now The Championship) – 3
- Third Division (now League One) – 2
- Fourth Division (now League Two) – 1
Preston North End Stadium
Preston North End have played at Deepdale, their current home stadium, for over 140 years. Indeed, no other league football stadium has been in continuous use for longer. The club first leased the land in 1875, when it still existed solely as a cricket club, and first added terracing in the 1890s. Despite declining fortunes, crowds continued to grow in the 1900s and by 1921, Deepdale was upgraded again. In 1933, fire destroyed the Town End stand, five years after it was completed. With that rebuilt and the newly developed Pavilion Stand, Preston North End’s stadium saw it’s biggest attendance of all time in April 1938 when 42,684 attended a match against Arsenal.
Deepdale underwent further upgrades through the 1960s. The club installed seating and covered the mains stands to provide fans with shelter from the north west rain. Those renovations were dwarfed by developments in the 1980s, however, when Preston replaced their grass pitch with a synthetic carpet. The move was controversial and largely unpopular. Management ripped out the so called ‘plastic pitch’ in 1994 and reseeded the grass playing surface. The modern day Deepdale capacity sits just shy of 24,500 although the average attendance in 2018-19 was a rather more modest 14,160.
Preston North End Twitter
Preston North End’s marketing team is active across all social media platforms. Their Twitter handle @pnefc allows fans and media outlets to tag the club and generate discussion points. Preston regularly post highlights of matches and interviews with first team players on Twitter. The club also runs a Facebook page with more than 110,000 likes. Preston’s Instagram attracts less than half that number of people, and features similar content to the Preston North End Twitter page, with lots of links to the club’s official website too.
Preston North End Forum
If you want to connect with other Preston fans, you can join one of the club’s forums (or leave a comment with us here at Represent Your Club of course). The busiest forum is the unimaginatively titled PNE Online, which always has multiple threads on the go at the same time. Fans can shoot the breeze about anything and everything to do with the club, and there are off topic forums as well. Lilywhite Magic is more of an online fanzine, featuring club history, fan-penned articles and even quizzes. The forum link simply redirects to PNE-Online though! There are a few Twitter and Facebook groups as well but if you’re looking for the best Preston North End forum currently online, than PNE Online is the place to go.
Preston North End Players
Tom Finney was incredibly loyal to Preston, spending his entire playing career with the club. Such allegiance seems to run in the DNA at Deepdale though. Indeed, despite his 472 appearances, Finney only sits in 6th place in Preston’s all time appearance list. Alan Alexander, who made is debut the year Tom Finney retired, sits on top with a mammoth 551 appearances, mostly in the 1960s. Modern day players Lee Cartwright, Paul McKenna and Graham Alexander (no relation to Alan) have all appeared in over 400 games too.
The current squad has its own long serving cult heroes in Paul Huntington and Paul Gallacher, both of whom have been with Preston for more than 7 years. Younger midfielders Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson form a dynamic pairing in the midfield, while Lewis Moult and Sean Maguire share most of the goalscoring burden. Goalkeeper Declan Rudd has proven an astute acquisition since joining from Norwich and is a calm presence between the sticks. Preston continue to add to their squad as they seek promotion back to the top flight for the first time since 1961.