Adam Parkes - 'If We Were a Stick of Rock...'
In Adam Parkes first blog exclusively for VitalOrient he discusses the changing technological world and how it has impacted his supporting of the O's.
As O`s fans embark on a pre-season of pessimism/optimism (delete where applicable) few could argue that it`s actually one of the most exciting times to be an Orient fan. Logical debates mix with flights of fancy amidst the backdrop of Test Match Cricket, Wimbledon, hosepipe bans and the obligatory weekend away with the lads which typically ends up with one of you wearing a dress for some manufactured reason.
With the "death" of Teletext recently I started to reminisce what it was like before the Internet and all these new fangled social networking tools on our smartphones.
I have been an Orient fan since I realised that supporting Liverpool in the mid-80`s was a fad and that I was following the best team simply because they were the best team. I was about six or seven years old but I still knew that I had no connection to Liverpool other than a distinctly out-of-date replica shirt. It`s easy to forget how little exposure the smaller clubs had in those days.
When I had come to my senses (my father and brother were both Orient fanatics) I was bitten by the bug. I did everything you could imagine as a young Orient fan. I got signatures from the players. I kept a scrapbook which I still have including the "Wizard of O`s" back page from The Mirror the day after the Oldham replay in 1992. I even asked a steward to pick up Alan Comfort`s tie-up from the side of the pitch. Every week I was waiting for the Ilford Recorder to come out on a Thursday. It was the day that we`d get that little bit of Orient news that would keep us in the loop. Would Ian Bogie sign for us? Who did we get in the Auto Windscreens? Why was Paul Hague deemed a professional footballer? But I digress…
Then there was Teletext. Sitting in the living room whilst the Mother watched some awful programme on a Tuesday night whilst the O`s were away from home, Teletext was always the shining light. Every break was met with furious button pressing and anxiety, especially if you had to wait for three pages to turn to see if Sammy Ayorinde had put the O`s in the lead or as to whether Vaughan Ryan had managed to stay on the pitch for the whole match. But apart from live score updates we`d still be lucky to occasionally appear in the "News in Brief" section of the Football page. As O`s fans we were all neglected by technology and its restrictions.
Speed forward to today and we can`t get enough information. Sky have revolutionised the reporting of football in this country to the point of making us obsess over that "League 1" tab and to what that might throw up. All the local papers are now online and regular Orient updates are stuck between ads for Domino`s and PPI Specialists. The official Orient website (www.leytonorient.com) has video interviews with the Chairman and Manager that are frank and honest (we hope) that we`d only get once a season on London Tonight. Orient Player on match days gives us a different experience to Teletext yet kind of fills that void. We can also scour YouTube for old Orient videos and become more appreciative of players like Peter Allen and Joe Mayo in a way that listening to stories from some of our more senior supporters just couldn`t capture. And then there`s Twitter.
Never has there been a tool so informative to even the casual O`s fan. It`s legal stalking for sure but now we have access to @dean_7cox and @mathbaudry5 in a way that we`d only dream of as fans. In the 90`s you`d have to head to the Romford Dogs to have a chat with Terry Howard. The players understand their importance to the fans of our club and they are, for the most part, forgiving of our fanaticism. It`s great to see the players` banter with each other after training, announce their engagements, or even the birth of their children. Twitter helps bridge that gap between fan and players, but also between fellow Orient supporters around the globe. I can`t say that I understand what @LeytonOrientIta are saying when they tweet:"@mathbaudry5 rinnova con gli O's manca l'ufficialità ma @SkySportsNews dà x fatta l'intesa" but we`re all connected in a way that we've never been before. Hell, we`ve even see a transfer negotiation take place in front of our eyes when Barry Hearn nabbed Shaun Batt`s phone number to offer him a contract. Staged or not it was still great to see!
For whatever the 2013/14 season brings, and regardless of our new home kit resembling a Wimpy burger wrapper, I`m sure that with all of our support we could be in for something really special!! Up the O`s!
Follow Adam on Twitter at @parkesey1881
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