Leyton Orient And The Loss Of Community
I know how it feels to come close to losing your club, Watford very nearly conspired to get themselves liquidated a little over 12 months ago.
Now, the community around Leyton Orient are facing the same prospect.
This was originally posted on Seldom Seen Kid, my professional blog, but I wanted to share it here too.
West Ham and Tottenham Hostpur are both vying for rights to take over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, in a bid to preserve a lasting legacy for the games.
But, the movement of either club to East London would not only rip them from their heartlands, but also threaten the existence of London’s second oldest football club, Leyton Orient.
The club this morning released an empassioned statement calling for neither club to move to a venue that is around a mile from Brisbane Road.
Orient are a club whose voice has not been heard throughout this shambolic affair, deemed, probably, not large or wealthy enough to grace the corridors of power with their influence. The shifting of a large club on to the door step of a smaller one, may indeed lead to their extinction, and with it, an effervescent community club that treasures the people who live and breathe it.
I have experienced this first hand. For the last couple of years the Dale Jacobs Trophy has taken place close-season – a match that takes places at Brisbane Road in memory of an Orient fan who sadly lost his life to cancer.
The club allows use of the pitch and corporate facilities with a game between the supporters’ trust and fans the highlight of the day, often featuring ex-pros, kind enough to give up their time to get involved.
The club make little money from this, but give a little something back to their community with this gesture.
If this happens at larger clubs, i’m certainly not aware of it.
To disrupt a community like this is socially wreckless. That the government is complicit in the decision over who should take over the stadium after 2012, with their ‘big society’ posturing, is a damning indictment that shows no change: money still talks, no matter what the cause.
I am not a Leyton Orient fan, the better half is and alerted me to this morning’s statement, but I can see, especially given the MK Dons debacle, how reliant a community can be on it’s football club.
Leyton Orient already have a small catchment area in which to try and gain support, do not let that become even smaller by moving one of the giants of English football just around the corner.
In time, I guess we will find out if English football has a conscience, or if it’s just a game of pound signs and egos.