The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

TWO years of frus­tra­tion for Ley­ton Ori­ent fans came to a head this week when longest­serv­ing player Dean Cox was re­leased from his con­tract 24 hours af­ter the trans­fer win­dow closed.

The 29-year-old winger orig­i­nally joined the club in 2010, mak­ing more than 200 ap­pear­ances, but the tim­ing of his de­par­ture means he can­not now join an EFL club un­til the trans­fer win­dow reopens.

It is a mess that sums up life in E10 of late and for­mer cap­tain Ben Chor­ley fears there may be some more suf­fer­ing yet be­fore Ori­ent can think about re­turn­ing to the good times he en­joyed.

Pow­er­ful cen­tre-back Chor­ley speaks fondly of his three­and-a-half sea­sons at Bris­bane Road, in which time the club en­joyed two sev­enth-place fin­ishes in League One.


The fol­low­ing cam­paign they punched above their weight to reach the play-off fi­nal, los­ing on penal­ties to Rother­ham United.

That sum­mer the club was sold by Barry Hearn to Ital­ian bil­lion­aire Francesco Bec­chetti and since then the club has en­dured a down­ward spi­ral of woe.

Rel­e­ga­tion to League Two, the con­tin­ual hir­ing and fir­ing of man­agers and a hard-to-fathom trans­fer pol­icy have Ori­ent fans ques­tion­ing where the club goes from here.

And Chor­ley, now play­ing for Na­tional League out­fit Brom­ley, struggles to find any crumbs of com­fort to of­fer.

“I was at the club about three weeks ago, my friend’s son had a trial and I went in to say hello to a few of the staff there,” said the 33-year-old. “In the squad the only player I knew was Coxy.

“It’s a shame be­cause we were an es­tab­lished League One team but now the last stal­wart of that era in Dean has gone.

“He must have a very strong rea­son for leav­ing, know­ing he can’t play un­til Jan­uary. For Coxy not to be play­ing there has to be a valid rea­son.

“I don’t know what was go­ing on be­hind the scenes, but if some­thing like that has come out of the blue the boys in the dress­ing room are nat­u­rally go­ing to be left won­der­ing what’s go­ing on. You can’t go to the man­ager or to any­one at the top and ask.

“I’ve known (man­ager) Andy Hessen­thaler for 15 years. He is a good guy, a proper foot­ball man, but it looks like his hands are tied and it so hard for him.

“There’s peo­ple I’ve spo­ken to in the last few months and they say it is very tough there at the mo­ment.

“As a player you should be picked on whether you are play­ing well or not, you shouldn’t be ask­ing other ques­tions.”

When you exit Ley­ton un­der­ground sta­tion, the first sta­dium you see is not Ori­ent’s but that of neigh­bours West Ham United in the Olympic Park.


Their move into Ori­ent’s patch was some­thing for­mer chair­man Hearn felt so strongly about he took his, un­suc­cess­ful, bat­tle through the courts.

“West Ham are now in that sta­dium, get­ting crowds of more than 50,000, giv­ing a few thou­sand tick­ets away and that hurts Ley­ton Ori­ent,” added Chor­ley. “Barry Hearn was des­per­ate for it not to hap­pen and fought against it. That’s got to mean the club is worth less money if it comes to the owner look­ing to sell.

“I think Ori­ent could be in League Two for a few years yet and I have to echo the fans, it’s a scary time. It’s a great club, it’s a good area that’s get­ting even bet­ter and play­ers want to play for Ley­ton Ori­ent, be­lieve me.

“Every­thing around it is good, but the prob­lem is the owner.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

GONE: Stal­wart Dean Cox has left Ley­ton Ori­ent and, inset, Ben Chor­ley

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