The competition received a healthy response with the only requirement being a paragraph on why they would like to join in a session with the O’s keepers. And the tough job of selecting the final nine was down to O’s First Team Goalkeeper Dean Brill.
“That was hard!”, said Dean. “It’s difficult knowing you’ll have to disappoint a few but then again some of the applications were really strong including one with a video attached!”.
Ultimately, the selection included some who were local but others that had to travel in from distance, for example; Swanley, Leigh and Chorleywood for the 10am meeting on Monday morning.
Albeit a constant drizzle throughout the session, it didn’t deter the youngsters who were met by Brill, Charlie Grainger, Sam Sargeant and Arthur Janata and proceeded with a group warm-up before pairing off and working with each individual goalkeeper on a specific activation drill. Once stretched out, the boys then went onto a catching and shot-stopping phase where some of their natural skills really shone: encouragement and applause from the professionals was in abundance.
After approximately 45 minutes of work, the boys were then invited to stay and watch the pro’s go through their own training regime followed by observing them as they joined the first team in a crossing and finishing session.
The final highlight for a few was to bump into some of the squad at the clubhouse, including Jobi McAnuff, David Mooney and Myles Judd, and grab photos and autographs.
Howard Gould, Community Liaison Officer, said afterwards, “I’m so glad we could do this today. I’ve been trying to organise a goalkeeper’s session for a few season’s but what with the regular change of personnel it’s just not been possible. Thankfully, now we have some stability back in the club, when I approached Dean with the idea he was more than happy to go with it. I know the kids had a brilliant time and all the pro’s have said they really enjoyed it so hopefully we will be able to repeat next season. These experiences really do help link the club to community and these young fans are our future”.
One of the lucky participants was 11-year-old Spencer Craig. His mum sent in the following message: “Good afternoon. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you and the club for arranging the training session today. Spencer is still on cloud nine, he had an amazing time and still has a smile from ear to ear!
“I would be most grateful if you could personally thank all the goalkeepers. They were a credit to the club and showed enthusiasm and genuine interest in the making sure all the boys had the experience of a lifetime. Spencer was in awe of his heroes. LOFC are a fantastic example of a community club, and today has made one Orient fan a very, very happy boy. Thank you”.
The other lucky participants were; Tyler Short (14), Harry Day (15), Harrison Lewis (9), Ryan Webster (10), Sam Schroder (14), Josh Scanlon (9), George Stiles (11) and Freddie Davis (13).