Spread the love

As Brentford prepare for an invasion of angry East Londoners, BillytheBee hooks up with CNN World and Daily Mirror pensmith James Masters to talk about Martin Rowlands, naked women and beard fetishes.

Can you remember your first game?

My first match was a grimly predictable 2-0 home defeat by Swansea City. I was four at the time but my grandfather still remembers it to this day. For him, it was a proud moment. The third generation of our family to be ushered into the Orient family. For me, it remains a moment where I’ve often thought, “Why me?”

Orient had a brilliant finish to last season and an even better start to this season. You didnt even play last weekend and you were still top of the league – followed up by a good bashing up of Notts County midweek. If you remember, I predicted you actually sneaking the playoffs last season but Swindon were just a tad too strong.

At the start of the season, I predicted that Orient should win their first six games. The fixture list did not look at all daunting and given the way we’d finished last season, there was a justified optimism around the place.

Now, seven games into the campaign and seven wins later, we’re all a bit stunned. We’re Leyton Orient. We’re not used to these kinds of things happening. And yet, there is a real feeling that this group of players is something quite special.

It’s not a fluke. It’s not because we’ve ‘got lucky’. This Orient team can play and is ruthless in the final third. Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney are the most in-form front two in the division but it is the men behind them who are the key.

Step forward the bearded wonder – Romain Vincelot. During the summer, I remarked that signing Vincelot on a permanent deal following his loan spell last season.

The Frenchman, who possesses a stylish Gallic beard, has been nothing short of sensational at the heart of the midfield. He plays with that swashbuckling flair. That je ne sais quois. That aura which makes every man want to be him and every woman want to be with him.

Yes, Orient fans do have a beard fetish. We are well aware that we fancy men with follicles on his face, but Vincelot is something else. He is Superman merged with RoboCop but with the grace and elegance of a ballerina.

And that is only one facet of aside brimming with confidence. I don’t want to tell you all our secrets though….you’ll see soon enough. Or at least you’ll be able to wave when Moses Odubajo races past your defenders.

What has made the new Orient unbeatable?

Team spirit, hard work, doing the basics right and an unquenchable desire to win for one another. There are no stars, although the likes of Lisbie, Vincelot and Odubajo will take many plaudits. This is a group which wants to work for Russell Slade. Who buy into what the club is trying to achieve and are just enjoying themselves.

Winning breeds confidence and this bunch are so confident they’d probably fancy themselves against Barcelona at the moment.

Surely it was losing Rowlands which made you invincible?

A few people were upset to see him go – but we’ll always love him for that goal he scored at Griffin Park last year…and that unforgettable YouTube clip.

Were you sad to see him go? Did he ever kiss his badge?

I thought he did a job while he was with us but he was never in our long-term plans. He didn’t kiss the badge….but hear he likes the QPR badge.

Did you lose any other players in the close season?

Lee Cook, who also scored against Brentford last season, left us to pursue football in the Championship. There were a few mutterings of discontent that he thought he was too good for Orient. He now spends most of his time on Sky as a pundit….looking up at the League One table.

Charlie Mac, another Brentford legend, left us too after a loan spell from Franchise FC aka MK Dons. He worked hard and scored a few goals but again, never looked like he would be part of the squad for the long-term.

I never realised Orient’s record signing fee is £175k in 1989 for Paul Beesley. Did you pick any more cheap players up close season?

While Brentford have cash to burn, we’re not quite as fortunate in our part of the capital. Instead, we’ve collected a squad of players without paying for anyone. That’s right, not one penny. It’s incredible what Slade has achieved with such a small budget and proves what can be done when a manager is time and the backing of the board. Players love him. They would die for him. Barry Hearn recently said he sees Shankly when he hears Slade talk to the troops…

What’s your style of playing?

This season we’ve been slightly more direct with Mooney providing the perfect foil for Lisbie. But the great thing about this Orient team is that they have a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. Problem is that we’ve not had to use them yet. We get the ball down and pass when we can but if it’s a game where we need to fight and battle, then there’s no way any of the players will shirk their duty. At the moment, they’re doing anything and everything. Just get that ball in the net…..

Who are your key players?

For me it is Romain Vincelot. He is far too good for League One and should be playing at a higher level. Lisbie is the man who scores the goals but Vincelot holds the team together.

How will you line up against the Bees ?

Given our run of form, I’d imagine Slade will stick with the side which trounced Notts County 5-1 on Tuesday night. That will be a 4-4-2 formation. However, he has gone 4-5-1 in the past against ‘better’ teams and could be more cautious against the Bees.

Head to head, Brentford are streets ahead winning 23 matches to Orient’s 13. The teams have drawn 10 times. On top of that, Orient have only won twice at Griffin Park. Any chance of making it a hat trick?

Tuesday 14th September 1993 was the last time Orient won at Griffin Park…..I was nine. I remember it well. Danny Carter scored the winner. Had I known then that we’d endure years of hurt then I may have celebrated rather more. The 2-2 draw last season was a decent point but the humiliating 5-0 defeat in August 2011 still rankles. If Orient are finally to lay the hoodoo of Griffin Park to rest then this is as good a chance as any.

Talking of rivals, for some strange reason Orient hate Brentford and call them ‘the scum’. Normally language reserved for your bitterest of rivals. Brentford fans are fairly non-fussed about Orient. We’d love to hate you. But just can’t summon up the energy. How on earth did this lopsided rivalry develop?

The Brentford rivalry goes back to the 1991 game at Brisbane Rd where a certain David Elleray sent off Kenny Achampong. As I was only seven at the time, my recollections are patchy but since then there has been a grudge.

Part of this grudge is borne out of a perceived arrogance of Brentford fans, who often claim that this game is “Orient’s cup final”. It reached a decent level of intensity on social media last year, especially given Orient’s home win and Brentford’s choking at Wembley. It’s not like the Bees to lose at Wembley after all…. Still, although there is a dislike with Brentford fans seen as west London hippies while toting copies of the Guardian and shaking their thermos flasks, the ‘hate’ isn’t like it is when we play Southend. We ‘HATE’ Southend…Brentford are more like a distant relative that you have to see twice a year. We like playing for a while but once we don’t get our own way, we tend to have a tantrum.

Talking of Kenny Achampong, did you know he was responsible for the Brentford chomp craze of the 90s (click on the link)?

That’s hilarious. I had no idea. I bet most Orient fans didn’t either.

Now come on. You can’t be serious about this Olympic stadium nonsense. You’ll be rattling around in it. Is this another Hearn PR stunt or has he done it just to wind up Karen Brady and David Gold?

PR stunt or not, Hearn has worked wonders to get Orient into the national spotlight. He knows as well all do, that West Ham will get the stadium and while I agree that the process has looked rather dodgy, it is unlikely that Orient will get anything at all. That said, I don’t believe Hearn thinks there’s a realistic chance of us playing in the Olympic Stadium. What he may be after is a hefty compensation package which can benefit the club in the short-term before deciding on another plan.

I don’t see the point of moving Orient to the Olympic Stadium to play in front of such a sparse crowd. It’s bad enough going to Franchise FC aka MK Dons and witnessing that. My problem isn’t so much with West Ham, they’re only doing what they think is best for their club. My problem is with the London Legacy Development Corporation and the authorities who have made such a monumental cock up.

Any stories from the flats beside the ground? Anyone been caught making love on the kitchen table?

I did an article for FourFourTwo four or five years ago about the flats at Orient. One of the girls who lived there at the time told me a great tale. She woke up late on a Saturday and in her haste forgot that Orient were at home.

She got out the shower and began walking around naked….only when a huge roar from the away fans greeted her entry to the lounge did she notice. Unfortunately, “get your tits out for the lads” was already in full flow.

Russell Slade actually lives in one of the flats during the week as his family are up north. He moved his air conditioning unit to the office last week though….priceless information that.

Julian and Andrew Lloyd Webber are big Orient fans. Any chance of them conducting a production of Les Miserables from the balcony of those flats for you guys at some time?

Never say never. Julian is a regular but I’ve only see Andrew a few times. We’d rather just have his dosh to be honest.

I’d be rude not to ask you for a score prediction.

The world is round, the sky is blue and Orient never win at Brentford. Those are the certainties in life. But this season has been anything but certain. They said we never win our first game. We won. Then they said we never win at Colchester. We did. For the first time in 51 years in the league anyway.

Then they said we’d do a Tranmere….we might. But this team has quality, experience and a spirit which I’ve not seen in an Orient team since we were promoted for the bottom tier in 2006.

Brentford haven’t had the greatest of starts and there are defensive and goalkeeping problems to exploit. For me, if Orient can dominate the midfield and take Forshaw out the game, then there’s a real chance they could do it.

When you’ve played seven and won seven, you’re going to be confident. I’ll go 2-0 Orient.

Thanks to James Masters for taking time out for finally put us out of our misery, filling us in on the reasonings behind this one-way rivalry. You can follow James on twitter – @Masters_JamesD.