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Former Orient captain offers Wembley advice

17:05 21 May 2014

John Mackie

John Mackie

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‘Enjoy occasion but don’t get overawed’ says Mackie

There will be some familiar faces in the crowd when Orient take to the Wembley pitch on Sunday.

John Mackie was the last captain to lead the O’s to promotion on a dramatic afternoon in May eight years ago and he will be joined by 10 of his team mates that afternoon to cheer on the class of 2014.

And the 37-year-old former defender thinks Russell Slade’s men will be even bigger legends than his team was if they do the business against Rotherham.

Mackie said: “They’ll be even bigger legends than we were because it’s beyond a dream for a club like Orient to be in the Championship.

“It’s a cup final and anything can happen on the day. My one bit of advice to the players would be to enjoy the occasion but don’t get overawed. They don’t come along very often.”

Mackie became the first O’s captain to lead the club to an automatic promotion in 36 years on a nerve-jangling afternoon on May 6, 2006.

Heading into the afternoon third in League Two, the east Londoners needed to match Grimsby’s result to finish in the automatic places.

As both matches entered injury-time, Grimsby were beating Northampton, while Orient’s game was locked at 2-2.

But as news filtered through to the Kassam Stadium that Northampton had levelled, Lee Steele popped up with a late winner to seal the deal.

Mackie, who now runs a fruit and veg stall in Camden, admits he had never played in a game like that before.

“It was a tense situation but it had an amazing ending,” he said.

“We heard a huge cheer go up just before we scored the third goal. Thankfully we took care of our own business in the end.

“I didn’t appreciate it at the time. A lot of the fans wouldn’t have seen anything like it before. The first season in League One was difficult but it got easier every year.

“I’ve not watched the Oxford game in full and to be honest it’s all a bit of a blur. I can remember the goal and the post-match celebrations but not much else in-between.”

The ex-skipper tries to keep in touch with his old club and writes a programme column for every other home game.

Since the dramatic semi-final win over Peterborough, Orient fans have been coming up to his stall excited for the club’s first Wembley visit in 15 years.

Mackie added: “There have been fans coming up to me and they’re absolutely buzzing. I had a brilliant four years there.

“Sunday will be an amazing day and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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