WHO would have thought that a chance meet up between supporters of two clubs would result in such a poignant acknowledgment of the service and sacrifice made by their club’s players during the Great War?
Cast your mind back to the end of August when Leyton Orient travelled up to Goodison Park to play Everton in a Capital One Cup match. A group of O’s fans met up with some Hearts fans in a bar having travelled down to see their side play Liverpool the following evening.
Like all true supporters, talk was exchanged on how it was thought each club would fare during the new season that had just got underway. Then things progressed to the history of the clubs and one of the Hearts fans – Craig Stewart mentioned to O’s fan Eddie Woolley about their involvement in the Great War. Eddie was intrigued to hear of Hearts joining up en masse – a familiar story indeed to what Clapton Orient did when the call to arms was made in 1914 when the O’s were the first English side to join up with 41 players and staff enlisting into the 17th Middlesex – The Footballers’ Battalion and the forces.
Various ideas were discussed on how this mutual link could be established and developed and Craig came up with the idea of Hearts and Leyton Orient exchanging wreaths.
Both sets of fans seemed to think this was a great idea so when Craig returned home later that week he contacted David Southern the MD of Hearts to see if this could be put in place whilst Eddie contacted Steve Jenkins at Leyton Orient Supporters’ Club to firstly inform him of what was discussed and then to ask if Steve could liaise with Craig regarding the wreaths.
Over the next month or so things were put in place with both Hearts and Leyton Orient fully endorsing this initiative. Towards the end of October Steve sent a wreath to Hearts that included the following words –
On behalf of Leyton Orient Football Club and Leyton Orient Supporters’ Club
The wreath also had the crest of the Middlesex Regiment and that of Leyton Orient Football Club.
Hearts’ wreath arrived a few days later and everything was now in place.
When Steve contacted Hearts to confirm receipt of their wreath he was informed that the idea of both club exchanging wreaths is not new but goes back many years and in fact was a regular occurrence until the 1930s when it stopped for some reason.
The Leyton Orient wreath will be carried and laid by O’s and Hearts fan Neil McKay at Heart of Midlothian’s memorial service in Edinburgh on Remembrance Sunday, whilst the Hearts wreath will be carried by O’s and Hearts fan Tom Ferguson during Leyton Orient’s Act of Remembrance, that is to be held on the pitch during half time when the O’s play Shrewsbury Town on November 10. The wreath will then be carried and laid on the Leyton Orient plaque on the war memorial in Coronation Gardens during the Remembrance Day service and parade the following morning.