Next season sees us resume league matches against Leyton Orient, though we certainly aren’t strangers to one another, having met 100 times all told, with Rovers having won 40 of those clashes, Orient 36 and there have been 24 draws.
The first meetings came about in 1929/30 when, after a goalless draw in Bristol on Friday 18th April 1929, Orient were 3-0 winners in the return fixture on their ground just three days later.
Seven FA Cup meetings have seen Rovers win three, Orient one and there have been three draws. Orient, though, have the advantage in the League Cup, with two wins and a draw to their name, while Rovers have the upper hand in the EFL Trophy games with two wins and a draw.
In fact, the last two meetings have been in the EFL Trophy. There was a 1-1 draw at The Memorial Stadium on December 4th 2019 (Rovers won 4-2 on penalties), while Rovers were 2-1 winners at Brisbane Road on December 8th 2020.
Memorable matches against Orient include a 5-3 Rovers win at the Memorial Stadium on Boxing Day 2001 when Nathan Ellington scored a hat trick and Vitalijs Astafjevs and Sergio Ommel were all on the scoresheet.
In March 2003 goals from Giuliano Grazioli and Paul Tait secured a 2-1 win for Rovers at Brisbane Road, a victory that sparked scenes of jubilation at the final whistle as it was a tremendous boost to Rovers’ hopes of being relegated out of the Football League.
There was also a game to forget and that’s the 4-1 mauling Orient administered to the Gas on February 12th 2011 when a certain Harry Kane, on loan from Spurs, scored two of Orient’s goals.
In 1888 Orient became a football section of Eagle Cricket Club (formerly Glyn Cricket Club from 1881) in 1888 but it wasn’t until 1893 that the club joined the Clapton & District League. Known, initially, as the O’s, they adopted the name Clapton Orient in 1898 and changed again, to Leyton Orient, in October 1946.
(photo of a youthful Harry Kane couteesy of Neil Brookman)
In November 1966 the club became Orient FC but reverted back to Leyton Orient in July 1987 and have been called that ever since!
Brisbane Road, or the Brever Group Stadium as it’s now known, has a capacity of 9,271 and has been home to Leyton Orient since July 1937 and they played their first match there against Cardiff City on August 28th that year.
In 1961/62, a season that saw Rovers relegated to the Third Division, Orient were promoted to the old First Division by virtue of their second placed finish behind Champions Liverpool. They were relegated after one season at the top level and haven’t returned since.
Like Rovers, they were relegated out of the league. That was in 2017, after 101 unbroken years of playing in the Football league. Justin Edinburgh guided them back into the league at the end of the 2018/19 season, but tragically died of a cardiac arrest in June of that year.
Matt Harrold, Matt Lockwood and Wayne Carlisle have all played for both clubs, as have the following; Victor Adeboyejo, Kevin Austin, Adam Barrett, Justin Channing, Ryan Brunt, Tony Craig, Jamie Cureton, Rhys Evans, Jason Harris, Lee Hodges, Josh Low, Christian Lee, Scott McGleish, Paul Raynor, Tom Parkes, Sam Oji, Gary Sawyer, Ciaran Toner, Lee Thorpe and Zain Westbrooke.
Former Rovers midfielder Geraint Williams is a former Orient manager while former Rovers boss Dennis Rofe began his playing career with Leyton Orient.
Players who have made their Rovers league debut against Leyton Orient are; Walter Winnell (Clapton Orient, 1929/30), James Terry (Clapton Orient, 1933/34), George Tweed (Clapton Orient, 1936/37), Norman Kitchen (Clapton Orient, 1938/39), Harold Haddon (1948/49), Malcolm Norman (1958/59), Keith Williams (1961/62), John Williams (1966/67), Don Megson (1969/70), Donny Gillies (1980/81), Paul Bannon (1983/84), Gary Penrice (1984/85), Martin Paul (1993/94), Craig Disley and Scott Sinclair (both 2004/05), Michael Leary (2005/06), Dominic Blizzard, Fraser Forster, Carl Regan and Wayne Brown (all 2009/10) and Tyler Lyttle (2015/16),
The distance from The Mem to Brisbane Road, or whatever if might be called next season, is 157 miles.