My name is Doug and I am a Leyton Orient fan .
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a confession or something I am ashamed of. This is something that I shout from the rooftops , like all Orient fans .
Us Orient fans are used to ridicule from fans of richer clubs, some of whom think a crisis is when their team has not made the later stages of the European Championships (whatever they are) . NO, I am an Orient fan and proud. Here is a club that apart from one season in the toppermost of the poppermost league has always struggled against its more successful neighbours.
I saw my first Orient game in 1969 with my Dad. Orient got a pretty uneventful 1-1 draw with Torquay. My Dad and I would go to about one or two games a year until the mid 70’s when I started to come to games on a regular basis with school mates . That is where regular football started for a lot of us, with mates.
To be honest, over the years the socialising has been more fun than the football , but that is not really the point. It’s a bit like waiting for a bus (no not THAT analogy) you have been waiting so long for the bus to come that you cannot leave the bus stop in case the bus finally comes along. (This analogy too has its problems as most stops have those electric thingys that tell you when the next bus comes along , but that is progress. Anyway, I digress). It’s like waiting for a win or a side that we can have confidence in. I used to go to Arsenal as a teenager one week and Orient the next week. A win at Arsenal was expected no matter who they played and the fans left in relief (they probably still do).At Orient a win is greeted with delight as it is not expected, it is hoped for and so the pleasure is more .
I recently said at a LOFT meeting that the people you meet in life is comparable to the film Sliding Doors . Without Orient, mine and other fans lives would have been different .
I had personal issues in 2009 and it was my Orient family that got me through it with support and love. In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and again it was my Orient friends that I turned to for support, love and encouragement.
Without Orient, I would not have met my wonderful and supportive wife Sarah, because we met at a wedding of an Orient fan.
Leyton Orient truly is more than a football club. It’s a common thread running through all our lives, binding us together.
The Protest Family would not exist without Orient . The original line up of Myself , Lol Steve and Rory, met through following the Os.
There is a story to tell on how this band got together and that will be for another time , but being in The Protest Family has opened more doors (or is it a train carriage, beginning to regret the Sliding Doors analogy now) to new friendships and experiences that I am eternally grateful for.
In 2000 myself and a few other Os fans thought about starting some kind of fans group as we felt that our voices were not being heard in the game but specifically at the Orient. The more we looked into it the more we found that there was an appetite among fans all over the country for the same thing. At this very time, an organisation was being formed called Supporters Direct, under the leadership of the wonderful Brian Lomax, that would be an umbrella for all Trusts .
With their advice and guidance we were one of the very first trusts launched in 2001. Now the Trust movement has moved not just beyond football but beyond the UK. As the song says we were ‘In the right place , at the right time’
I am one of two founder members that have been on the LOFT (Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust) Board since the start and I have been Chair since 2002. It remains something I am very passionate about, as the rest of the Protest Family will tell you, especially on long car journeys .
LOFT formed to give fan’s a voice in the running of OUR football club, be a critical friend to the OUR club and to be there in case of a crisis.
And that is where we find ourselves at this very moment
LOFT have launched a Regeneration Fund , details here savetheorient.com
If you are reading this before Saturday 1st April you can see us with Brighton fan Attila The Stockbroker who offered his help to the Save The Orient campaign as soon as he heard about it and local legend (and Brentford fan) Graham Larkbey. Details here https://www.facebook.com/events/353102875087017
best to keep an eye on our Facebook page for availability
If you are reading this after Saturday 1st April, you missed a great gig
Solidarity brothers and sisters (HAST)