It would be fair to say that Leyton Orient don`t figure much in the collective consciousness of Wycombe followers. Apart from when the two teams meet on the field of play there is generally a feeling of indifference. Don`t think for one second that I am placing us above them, I am sure the feeling is mutual.
There are reasons why this ought not to be the case. Our first ever away victory as a Football League club came at Brisbane Road back in 1993, albeit in a first round League Cup tie. There was then the mass brawl under Keith Ryan`s brief reign as caretaker boss in 2004. Most recently there is the haunting memory of relegation in 2010, complete with a Scott McGleish love-in.
As this feature is all about looking back at our history, it serves as a reminder, with our 20-year Football League anniversary looming on the horizon, of all that we have achieved in that time. This week’s meeting with the O`s will be our eighth clash in the Lower Lea Valley and there is yet to be a draw between the two sides. The Chairboys have triumphed in four of the seven previous encounters.
The Chairboys’ first ever away trip to face the O`s was way back in March 1905 when they were known as Clapton Orient. The two sides played out a 1-1 draw at their Millfields Road ground in a Southern League Second Division clash, with Bly Brion scoring our goal. We soon went our separate ways and in our quest for amateur glory we regularly met with near neighbours Clapton FC and Leytonstone FC whilst Orient competed with the professionals in the Football League.
Leyton is famous for Harry Beck, creator of arguably the greatest ever piece of graphic art when he designed the London Underground Map. As if that wasn`t an impressive enough claim to fame, the area is the birthplace of Steve Harris, founder of the metal band Iron Maiden. Sadly he supports West Ham United but you can`t have everything.
Famous followers do include comedian Bob Mills and famous composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. O`s fans have been fortunate enough to read one of the best fanzines to have been published in the last thirty years in the Leyton Orienteer. There have been a number of popular players to have played for both clubs. Making the move west have been Terry’s Glynn and Howard whilst Paul Hyde, Michael Simpson, McGleish and Alex Revell have all gone in the opposite direction.
Many Chairboys will have plenty of sympathy for Orient fans with the decision to allow West Ham United to move into the Olympic Stadium, however the club is making very few friends with its ridiculous pricing policy for away fans which will see them stung for £25 for the privilege of turning up on the night to watch a game of third tier football. Barry Hearn no doubt joins a long list of club owners who see supporters as cash cows ready for a good milking.
One thousand Wanderers made that trip back in the barmy summer of 1993 when we were riding the wave of success under Martin O`Neill. Despite the hosts having the better of the game, Hyde kept them at bay with a string of fine saves, and goals from Steve Thompson and Tim Langford earned a second round tie with Coventry City.
The next meeting in May 1995 was also memorable as it was O`Neill last ever game in charge of the club. Cyrille Regis curled home a beauty a minute after the break to seal a 1-0 victory in front of almost 2,000 fans on a scorching hot day. It was an end of an era.
The Blues returned just three months later for another first round League Cup tie under new boss Alan Smith. 3-0 up from the first leg at Adams Park the team looked complacent and with Hyde being sent-off we somehow escaped with a 2-0 defeat to scrape through on aggregate.
The next meeting wasn’t until January 2001 in the Football League Trophy. It will also be remembered for ludicrous ticket prices with 99 away fans enjoying a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from Matt Brady and Sam Parkin.
Relegation in 2004 saw the Wanderers renew acquaintances with the O’s in the November of that year and it was a sensational clash that had everything. Tony Adams had just resigned and Rhino was in caretaker charge. The side went into the break a goal down but came out in the second half to mount a memorable comeback.
Nathan Tyson tucked home the equaliser just four minutes in, before Roger Johnson headed home the winner from Danny Senda`s free-kick. Soon afterwards there was a 22-man brawl that was sparked by a series of outrageous challenges from O`s players on Tyson, including one from former team-mate Simpson and it led to home midfielder David Hunt seeing red.
There was even time for a comedy moment when Matt Bloomfield accidentally ran into referee Kevin Friend who had a couple of teeth knocked out. He had to be replaced by one of his linesmen who was sadly even more inept.
We returned eighteen months later for a promotion battle with Martin Ling`s side. Wycombe were struggling following the double tragedies that had hit the club in 2006 and despite tremendous vocal backing from the 1,200 visiting fans, Paul Connor`s early goal gave the hosts a 1-0 win that ultimately helped them to win promotion.
That leaves us with our last visit in May 2010. It was an afternoon to forget for the most part, with Ryan Jarvis and McGleish giving Orient a 2-0 win that mathematically secured their safety but condemned the Blues to relegation from League One. As the away fans walked out of Brisbane Road they were met by pouring rain which seemed rather fitting in the circumstances.
“All that`s left are memories”