The Orient Game - From the other side

There are two teams in every game and nobody seemed to consider the opposition, Orient. They were chasing a play off place. Here we read the views of Orient fans who were at the Turf that day supporting their own club.

 

Mark Palman

It may have been 25 years ago, but it seems like yesterday.

I boarded one of half a dozen coaches which made the trip from East London for the match. What may have been forgotten in all the build up to the match from Burnley's side is that if Orient had won the game, they would have made the promotion play-offs.

We reached the outskirts of Burnley at about 1pm and our convoy was stopped by the police. One officer came onto the coach to tell us that the whole of the town was blocked but they would try to get us through to the ground. We were also given a chilling warning that there could be trouble if the result went the wrong way for the home team, and our safety could not be guaranteed. This was in sharp contrast to my previous visit to Turf Moor which, coincidentally, was also a last game of the season affair. O's won a second division match 1-0, but I will always remember it for the mass standing ovation given to Orient midfielder Ralph Coates as he came out onto the pitch.

With those words ringing in our ears the coaches continued their journey with many of us wondering what we were riding into. Certainly the town was buzzing and from the moment we entered Burnley it was clear we were about to witness something special.

From the moment we entered the ground at about 2pm, the noise from the Burnley fans was deafening and didn't stop for breath until well after the match. Despite the best efforts of around 1,500 of us, I doubt whether any O's player realised that any of us were there.

We seemed to give you a distinct advantage by naming the very dodgy David Cass in goal. However, the way Burnley played that day, I don't think it would have mattered if we'd had Peter Shilton at his peak in goal.

With the warning from the local constabulary still foremost in our minds, each Burnley goal was greeted with deafening ovation from the home fans and an almost similarly loud sigh of relief from us. Alan Comfort's volleyed effort put us back in the match, but to be fair, only one team was ever going to win it, and I think the one goal defeat slightly flattered us. Without taking anything away from the gritty and determined Burnley performance, it did seem apparent that the O's players realised they were playing the Washington Generals role in a Harlem Globetrotters show, and turned in a very lacklustre performance.

We missed out on a shot at the promotion play-offs, but it was well worth it just to witness those scenes of joy and celebration at the end of the match. I will never forget the couple of thousand Burnley fans on the pitch who, in their moment of ecstasy, turned and walked towards the corner of the ground where we were situated and shook hands with us O's fans at the front of the enclosure. I reckon every Orient scarf was passed through the fence as souvenirs of the occasion.

A truly great day all round, made all the more surreal by the bizarre events being emanating from Plainmoor concerning a very late goal for the home side which saved them from relegation in the time added on for a dog running loose on the pitch.

I have watched senior football for man years but have still never been at any other match which has come close to the level of support which was given to Burnley that afternoon. I now live in Stevenage, and follow Stevenage. The atmosphere won't be a patch on what I saw and heard at Turf Moor on that afternoon 25 years ago though.

 

Greg

We drove up in a car and parked on a hill overlooking the stadium. Our driver though portly was a total bottle-job. When he saw the sheer number of Burnley fans out and about the town with their faces painted claret and blue, he started to panic big time. We had to walk through long lines of queuing fans to get to the away end. As we got to the main stand this bloke who I can only describe as 'Richard The Turkey' finally panicked big time and we found ourselves having to queue up and pay to go in the main stand seats!!! He thought we were going to die. I admit it was intimidating but there were plenty of coppers about. So there we were with no colours sitting in the best seats along with half of chuffing Lancashire.

As we waited for the game to begin, we noticed an old cloth-capped codger talking excitedly into his coat about "this historic day" etc etc. He was doing a taped commentary just for himself. A bloke sitting near me said that the geezer always did that. It was quite quaint and showed us how much Burnley meant to its fans. Of course we all had acquired dodgy Irish accents by this stage.

To be honest, we shaded the first half but found ourselves down at half time. As Os fans we genuinely did want to win, but were happy to see Burnley survive. The one thing we did not want was a draw as both clubs would miss out.

When we went 2 down we found ourselves leaping up and down cuddling the Burnley fan nearby. It was almost not an act at that stage.

The last 15 minutes when the Os almost pegged the score back, were totally nerve racking. By this time a large number of Burnley were present in the Orient end of the stadium and it was definitely going to kick off big time. Thankfully the prospect of disgraceful scenes was washed away in the relief of the result. A joyous pitch invasion followed and both sets of supporters actually applauded one another.

We were amazed to see that the official crowd was put down as about 15000. What a tax dodge that was. There must have been 25000+ at the match.

It was a great day out even if we did lose out.

 

Peter Fullman

About 1,000 Orient fans travelled north, a game we had to win to have a chance of the play offs. Burnley had most of the first half, Orient all of the second as they tried to save the game. Alan Comfort scored a scorcher to bring the score back to two one.

After the game, the Orient fans stayed behind and applauded the Burnley AND Orient players on what was an excellent game. We were rewarded be the Burnley fans coming over to us and applauding us.

There then followed exchanging of scarves and shaking of hands etc between the two sets of fans.

Alan Comfort, the scorer of the Orient goal is now believe it or not the clubs official chaplain.