Ground Hopping The Trilogy: Leyton Orient v Hartlepool 16th October 2012; S*nderland v Newcastle United 21st October 2012 and Leyton Orient v Colchester United 23rd October 2012

Why a trilogy you ask? Well, the real answer is that I’m being lazy, but I’m going to pretend that it is because I have written previously about going to the grounds featured in this post.


So, following on from my post about Non League Day on 13th October when I went to 2 games, on Tuesday 16th October, I went to  see Orient at home to Hartlepool. This was a re-arranged game. The original game was due to be played in August but was postponed after the Hartlepool team bus was stuck in traffic on the M11 after a fatal accident. Fortunately for me, I had not planned to go to the original game. Why fortunately you ask? Well the game was not postponed until about an hour AFTER the proposed kick off time. The O’s fans (and some Hartlepool fans) were left kicking their heels in the ground waiting to find out if the game was going ahead. Eventually the game was called off and re- arranged for 16th October.

This re-arranged date was a strange date for a game as it was a night when England were scheduled to play away in Poland in a World Cup Qualifying tie. The reason I say is was a strange date is that many people would choose to watch the England game on TV rather than come down to Brisbane Road. Also, Hartlepool fans would not travel in large numbers for a midweek game some 250 miles away.



There was a certain irony in the fact the England game was delayed by an hour and then postponed owing to weather conditions in Warsaw – namely it rained and the Poles hadn’t bothered to close the roof so the pitch was waterlogged.

Midweek matches at Orient mean my having to leave work early and cycle as fast as I can to get home, showered and changed. When I say cycle fast, I mean plod along getting sweaty and out of breath! Once showered and changed, its time to play the usual game of hunt my car keys, camera, phone and wallet. Then set off to fight the rush hour traffic to get to Orient.

Arriving later than usual, I am fortunate to be able to find a parking space right outside the ground Lady luck was surely smiling on me! Next it was off to the ticket office, no queues at Orient, and collect the tickets issued to my friends T & L. As I’m sure I’ve said before, they get free tickets as they are disabled and so Orient also generously provide  free tickets for their helpers. So for Orient home games, I am their helper. Basically this involves me giving them a lift home which I’d be happy to do anyway and used to when I had a season ticket at Orient.

Tickets sorted, it was time to go to the Royal Cafe in Leyton High road for the usual pre match scran. I’ve been going there for 10 years now and the staff, know me and who i go with. Tonight, I think they were concerned that I need to lose weight. What other explanation could their be for the fact that the power went off in the kitchen as I walked through the door, so all I could have was a relatively healthy sandwich and no fry up!

Into the ground and after sorting my charges out, I went to chat to some of the regulars in the North Stand and sat with them for the first half. The game kicked off before a sparsely populated ground, Orient started off playing like they were going to rip Hartlepool to pieces. That lasted for all of 5 minutes, then it was back to the usual rubbish. Half time could not come soon enough.

A chance to chat with other regulars and a convert to the Spennymoor Town cause asks me how they are getting on and commenting on their 5-1 away win at the weekend.

The second half was a carbon copy of the first, except in their 5 minutes of football Orient scored the only goal of the game. The goal came at the end we were at, so we had a great view of this.

The Hartlepool goalkeeper was clearly non too happy with his side’s performance and suggested to one of the youngsters sat near me that he would get a game for Hartlepool and couldn’t do any worse than the players on the pitch.

Its a long miserable trip home for the few Hartlepool supporters that made the long trip to this game. These are the real loyal fans, not those who follow big successful clubs.





Sunday 21st October brought the trip to the dark side. It was the Tyne Wear Derby this time at the Mackems’ Stadium of Light. I’m not going to waste my time writing a description of the ground etc. If you want to know what the ground is like, then I recommend the great website Football Ground Guide run by Duncan Adams. His write up on the SoL is here.

The day starts with a meet for drinks at 10 am in Newcastle. A quick 5 or so pints, then heading over to Central Station for the Special Trains/ Metros that were put on to transport us to the land that taste forgot. Sadly, either the police or the Metro authorities were incapable of running the trains they had advertised and as a result we were late arriving in S*nderland. The police close off St Peter’s Metro Station on the day of the game and use it to escort Newcastle fans from there to the ground. This year they had the added complication of away fans being housed at the opposite end of the ground to the Metro station. However, the police operation was well planned and we never even saw a S*nderland fan on the way to the ground. By the time we got in the ground Newcastle were 1-0 up. That brought out mixed emotions- joy at winning but gutted at missing the goal.

The behaviour of fans in the ground was interesting, from the Newcastle fan who was determined he was going to throw me out of my seat, for the crime of pointing out it was my allocated seat, through to the Muppets making threats at each other from behind lines of police.

20+ years ago, you went to a derby game, fought with the opposition fans etc. The taunting was a prelude to the violence. Now, the policing is such that you have no chance of getting near visiting fans. Don’t they realise how pathetic the threats and gestures are when there is no possibility of them being carried out?

Its laughable to think some one shouting from behind fences and lines of pitch that they are going to kill me is somehow frightening. The reality is there is no way they will get anywhere near me in the ground or outside.

Back to the football, despite Newcastle having to play for over an hour with only 10 men after Tiote was sent off (no complaints here about that) they rarely looked to be in any trouble. That is until Coloccini went off injured with 10 minutes to go. S*nderland eventually equalised, but even that was scored by a Newcastle player. This means that Newcastle’s Demba Ba is the 2nd top scorer for S*nderland this season.

Surprisingly we were not kept locked in after the game as long as expected and I was back in Newcastle by 16:40 and time for a few pints with friends before heading to the station for my train to London. Before the  train, it was time for a quick visit to the Sainsbury’s in the station for some drinks for the train. You realise you are getting old when you choose bottles of water not alcohol to drink on the train. Am I getting to old for this lark? Never!

For those who are not aware Mackems look like this


You are likely to find them in places like the luxury housing developments in Pennywell


You will not find them in places like the following


This is not just idle boasting, but has been confirmed by the Mayor of Milan






Tuesday was another midweek Orient home game and a repeat of last week, so I’m not going to recite what I said in part one, save to say:

  1. I never got as good a parking spot
  2. The power in the cafe remained on and I got chips with my scran this time
  3. Colchester were better than Hartlepool
  4. Orient did not play well at the start of each half.
  5. Orient lost 2-0 and to be honest were lucky to get nil.

About spen666

I'm a 50 something football fan and occasional cyclist. I've been a football fanatic most of my life and have completed the 92 football league & premier league grounds previously. I have 1 left to rejoin the 92 club. Added to this numerous non league grounds, a number abroad and you start to get the picture. I took up cycling in around 2000. Although my father was a former World Vets Champion, I got into cycling accompanying my son to ride in London. This was followed by my commuting to work each day into Central London. Then doing some Sunday rides, then some audax events ( and then a week's cycling holiday in France with a friend. From there, I got more and more into cycling and in 2009 completed LEJoG and in 2010 rode in the USA with the Police Unity Tour. I completed blogs for those events at and Feel free to read them and learn more about me. I now am one of the organising committee for the UK Police Unity Tour ( ) I live alone which suits me as it gives me time at weekends to pursue my interests of cycling and football. (Well what did you expect me to say? That I'm sad at being single?) I'm currently looking for my next challenge. Any suggestions gratefully received.
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1 Response to Ground Hopping The Trilogy: Leyton Orient v Hartlepool 16th October 2012; S*nderland v Newcastle United 21st October 2012 and Leyton Orient v Colchester United 23rd October 2012

  1. swgoimh says:

    “Orient lost 2-0 and to be honest were lucky to get nil”

    True that.

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