Ahh the Championship. A 46 game season, plus the EFL Cup, plus the FA Cup, mean you never really escape fixture congestion. Fulham have a quick turnaround Friday to Tuesday, where they will travel across London to face Leyton Orient. We sit down with the editor of Total Orient to get answers to our questions about the club and the match.
Cottagers Confidential: A lot of our readers are not based in England and might not know very much about Leyton Orient at all. They got a fair bit of press in the United States due to Barry Hearn's frequent appearances on Men in Blazers, but to most people they're very unknown. If someone asked you to describe the club and why we should care about them, how would you answer?
Total Orient: Leyton Orient are a family club in East London, who are surrounded by larger neighbours, one of which has now moved considerably closer! Despite not having a high profile or many trophies in the cabinet, the O's do have a proud history. Fulham may be the oldest London football club in the English Football League, but Orient are the second oldest having been established in 1881. Orient footballers (then named Clapton Orient) were also prominent in the Footballers' Battalion in WW1, 41 players and staff signed up, more than any other English club. Three Orient players died at the battle of the Somme and the club always do a good job of commemorating their sacrifice.
The most successful periods in the club's history were in the 1960s and 1970s. The O's won promotion to the top league in English Football in 1961/62 but lasted just one season in the division. We won Division Three at the turn of that decade and in 1978 we made it to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
More recently we enjoyed an FA Cup run in 2010/11, we reached the fifth round and took Arsenal to a replay. Then in 2013/14 we challenged for promotion to the Championship but ultimately ended up in the League One play-offs after finishing third. We reached the play-off final and were 2-0 up at half-time but went on to lose on penalties to Rotherham United. We suffered relegation to League Two the following season.
CC: The club recently moved from Barry Hearn to Francesco Becchetti. How do the supporters feel about this? What are your expectations for the club this season.
TO: Since Francesco Becchetti took control of the club the O's have gone backwards, from the brink of promotion to the Championship down to League Two. I could go on and on about the numerous mistakes and unusual events during his tenure, but in summary, his ownership has brought instability and a reasonably high turnover of managers, players and staff.
However, Becchetti has spent a lot of money so far. We have even been paying transfers fees for players which was a rarity under Barry Hearn. There is no doubt that Becchetti has ambitions to take Orient forward.
Much of the fan base is divided over Becchetti. Some love his ambition and the level of investment he has brought, but others feel the club is not being run sensibly or sustainably. There are also question marks over the extent to which he interferes in the playing side of the club.
Promotion is the target for the new season. Overall we have a stronger squad this year which could see a more sustained promotion challenge than last term. However, we do have a habit of creating our own problems. Our top goalscorer from last season Jay Simpson is also expected to be heading to our rivals Southend United, so that is a big blow to our prospects.
CC: It's been nearly a decade since the two clubs last faced off and almost 20 years since Fulham's last trip to Brisbane road. What advice would you give for the Fulham supporter making the cross town journey?
TO: There isn't a public car park at the ground and parking in the surrounding streets is limited, therefore the Underground is probably the best way to travel. Leyton tube station on the Central Line is the nearest station and is around a 10-15 minute walk to the ground.
Food inside the stadium isn't the best, there are a couple of the usual fast food outlets on the high street. The Coach and Horses is the nearest pub to the ground for those who want a pre-match drink. The Birbeck Tavern and the Leyton Technical are alternative options. However, the Supporters Club bar outside the west stand is probably the best option and it has won a number of CAMRA awards for its real ale. The Supporters Club is welcoming to away fans but does have a limited capacity, entry for visiting supporters is usually £1.
Away fans are usually housed at one end of the East Stand, but according to the Leyton Orient website Fulham fans will be in North Stand for Tuesday night's game.
CC: Predicted lineup and score line?
TO: The last meeting between the two sides was in cup competition ten years ago and we managed an upset at Craven Cottage and later that season we were promoted from League Two. Therefore, if we manage to win on Tuesday night it would be a positive omen for the season. However, I don't see us causing an upset this time around. Fulham were impressive in their win over Newcastle United on Friday night and I don't think Orient will be at their best yet. I'll go with 3-1 to Fulham.
Nicky Hunt Yvan Erichot Tom Parkes Callum Kennedy
Gavin Massey Liam Kelly Robbie Weir(C) Dean Cox
Jordan Bowery Ollie Palmer