BOOK REVIEW: Orientation (Adam Michie)

This is the story of one fan’s journey into supporting Orient. Starting out – and remaining – a firm Spurs supporter, he becomes disillusioned with the hype (and cost) of Premier League football. Along with three friends – though they collect more on the way – he commits to a season ticket at Orient.

This book records why, what happened and how it affected him through the best season in recent O’s history as they reach the 5th Round of the FA Cup and narrowly miss the play-offs.

The book is well-written and a good read (it took me three hours flat). His descriptions of events are vivid and the book contains just enough ‘back story’ about the lives of the author and his mates to put the football into some kind of context. His text row with his girlfriend will echo for many a die-hard supporter seeking to explain why they’re going to the frozen north east on a wet Tuesday evening instead of going to the cinema with their partner!

As with many football fans, drinking features often in this story (and often in the Leyton Orient Supporters' Club) with the highs and lows wreaking their usual havoc. Travel problems also figure when the Central Line takes a rest and the author feels the pressure of trying to keep his job (relax, he gets a better one) and buy a house (which he does - in Leyton).

The football roves from Brisbane Road – none of this Matchroom Stadium stuff – to Barcelona via Norwich and Lisbon, and the reports of his experience at games comprises so much more than a simple match report. From learning about the Monkey Hangers, to being shocked by homophobic abuse, his match days are never less than interesting.

Many of the characters he meets are instantly recognisable to a regular O’s fan, and his writing draws them well enough to let us see more than just their physical appearance. The emotions of watching a football match come through wonderfully well at times – the reaction to Tehoué's equalising goal against Arsenal brings back the feeling of being there in a very immediate way.

And, finally, did it work? Will he stick with Orient into the future? One sentence from the book sums it up: “My eyes have been opened to the opportunity of enjoying football as it should be.”

This is a book which reaffirms the reasons for supporting league football.

This review is by Orient fan Tony Roome and first appeared on FSF affiliate Leyton Orient Supporters' Club's website.