When Carolyn Sellick, Local Area Coordinator at the London Borough of Waltham Forest, contacted the Leyton Orient Trust with a plea for help, the Club’s community wheels were set in motion!
She had been informed that a Chingford resident and Leyton Orient supporter of over 50 years could no longer attend games due to a failed back operation and had consequently been bedbound for 10 years!
The request was for a player visit to cheer up 58-year-old Steve who has had to keep up with all the O’s news via his bedside TV utilising the Club website and ‘YouTube’.
Consequently, Community Liaison Officer Howard Gould, contacted Steve’s wife and carer Debbie and although not a connoisseur of the O’s herself, Debbie liked the idea of an Orient legend popping in to chat with Steve to reminisce as well as being able to talk about all things Orient at the moment.
Having done something similar about a year ago, the choice was simple and Alan Comfort, former O’s flying winger and current Club Chaplain, was invited to go along and spend some time with Steve, albeit a huge surprise on the day!
Debbie had also purchased the new O’s home shirt that had been suitably signed by the squad, Alan adding his autograph and presenting the slightly over-awed Steve with it just before departure.
“I’m absolutely flabbergasted. That’s the word, flabbergasted!” exclaimed Steve when asked for his reaction to meeting one of his idols. “I love the O’s and have supported them since I was eight years old. I can’t remember who we played the first game I went to, but I know Peter Brabrook scored a scorcher. Smashed it in from the edge of the box. I was hooked!
“And what can you say about this man,” nodding towards Comfort, “an absolute legend. I miss not being able to get over to the stadium but try to keep up with everything on my television but it’s not the same. I think we’ll be okay in League Two; there are worse teams than us in there!”
The visit lasted just over an hour and Debbie was delighted, reliving the moment via email the following day:
“Steve was over the moon with the visit from you [Howard] and Alan,” she stated. “He hasn’t stopped talking about it and he absolutely loves the shirt. He’s just speechless but said to tell you both thank you so much for coming to see him.
“And a huge thank you so much to all involved in organising the visit. It has really lifted his mood.”
And the final word from the Reverend Alan Comfort: “Sometimes you meet a person whose experience of life is so challenging; you wonder how they manage. Steve is certainly one of these. His struggle is made a little easier by his love of Leyton Orient Football Club and his insatiable hunger for information. His knowledge of past and current teams put us to shame and made for the most enjoyable afternoon. So glad I met Steve and his wife Debbie.”