Captain Clarke hails Orient fans
- Credit: Archant
‘They’ve been right behind us from word go’ says skipper
Leyton Orient captain Nathan Clarke hailed the club’s supporters after his team finished seventh in League One.
Russell Slade’s men narrowly missed out on the play-offs, despite a fine late season run, and were held to a draw by Oldham in their final outing of the campaign.
But Orient have not finished higher since their relegation from the second tier in 1982 and Clarke said: “We’ve had a fantastic following both home and away and all the lads appreciate that.
“I did a little piece in the programme trying to thank the fans and that’s from all the lads. They’ve been a credit to themselves.
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“They’ve been right behind us from the word go and even though we had the sloppy start they’ve stuck with us and possibly finishing seventh is a credit to them as well.”
Orient won 13 games at Brisbane Road this season, with only London rivals Brentford winning more matches at home.
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“That’s a fantastic credit to all the lads and the fans,” added Clarke. “We’ve worked hard and made this ground a bit of a fortress and not many teams have liked coming here and playing against us.”
Orient struggled at the start of the season, picking up only 16 out of a possible 48 points until going on a good run in November.
And Clarke feels that is something his team will have to improve on next season if they are to push for promotion.
“The start that we had obviously hindered us, but throughout the season we picked up nicely,” he added.
“We need to obviously look at that, and look to get off to a good start next season and not give ourselves an uphill challenge.
“We probably came up short by slipping up against teams we should be picking up points against.”
Although O’s failed to grab a play-off spot, the Yorkshireman appreciates that it has been a good year for Orient.
“Speak to the fans, the manager and the players and it’s been a good season for the club,” he said. “I think we were second favourites to go down so it’s been fantastic in that sense.”
Clarke said although expectations will rise as a result of their high finish, his team can thrive with the added pressure.
“We don’t want to go out and be the underdogs, we want to achieve something and as players we want to really kick on,” he said.
“We know we’ve got the squad and we can really give it a go. Hopefully the manager will bring some new faces in and really push the players who have been starting previously.”
On a personal level, the former Huddersfield defender feels his first year at Orient has been a success.
“I’ve felt as though I’ve done pretty well, I’ve been given the captaincy early on and I felt that I grew into the role pretty well and the lads supported me in that,” he added.
“It’s been something different obviously playing for a London club. Just being able to lead the team out as captain has been a fantastic experience for me and being the captain it’s been different, spending more time with the management and things like that.”