Leyton Orient fans dream of second tier return
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO
Leyton Orient fans recollect memories of 1982’s relegation season, and their hopes of a return come Sunday.
It’s been a long time since Orient fans witnessed their team in the second tier.
More than 30 years in fact. The O’s finished bottom of the old Division Two in 1982 and they’ve barely threatened to return since – until this remarkable season.
Now they’re just 90 minutes away from ending 32 years of hurt and fans who remember those heady times have been waiting a long time for those days to return.
With Orient firmly established in Division Two when they got relegated, there was a hope they’d bounce straight back at the first attempt says supported Stuart Burley – but unfortunately that never materialised.
“That season had an air of hopelessness about it,” he said. “Unforunately, we sank lower and lower.
“The odd uplifting positive result was a rarity in a season of defeat after defeat.
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“It hasn’t always been easy following the O’s, especially over the last 32 years.”
For fellow fan Nick Clark, the dramatic second leg victory over Peterborough was a double celebration as it marked his 50th birthday.
The relegation of 1982 marked the end of 12 consecutive years in the second tier. He thinks the O’s worked miracles to stay at that level for so long and is thrilled to think they could return there again.
Nick said: “During our time in the second tier we really struggled to score goals, apart from Peter Kitchen.
“We were always one of the smallest clubs in the league with an average attendance of 6,000.
“Relegation was always on the cards but this has been a season full of joy with a team of fighters who never give up. At least a team to be proud of!”
Stuart agrees that it was inevitable Orient would fall through the division.
And he claims the class of 1982 have nothing on the current crop.
He said: “The club invested heavily on players like Stan Bowles, Peter Taylor and Mervyn Day to try and get into the top flight.
“When that didn’t work the club was crippled financially and had to rely on untested youngsters. What happened was inevitable.
“For me the last 32 years have been a case of “when will it be our day.”
“The difference this year has been highlight after highlight. Dean Cox hanging our with supporters at the ground. Russell Slade doing a moon walk up the touchline. The football club is special and this season they have been brilliant.”
If Orient’s current heroes make dreams come true on Sunday, the fans can rest assured they will be in safe hands in the Championship with Slade and Barry Hearn at the helm.