Castle, who is considered one of the O’s greatest ever players, has been manager of Southern Premier side Royston Town since 2013 and went head-to-head with Maldon & Tiptree in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the competition.
“You should expect some very, very good young players. There’s a lot of them that have an association with Colchester United, for a long while now they’ve had that link and they’re very well managed. The two lads in charge (Wayne Brown and Paul Abrahams) I know very well and they’ve done a fantastic job there. I don’t believe they’ve lost a game this season in the league, FA Cup and FA Trophy.
“We went to watch them and gave them as much respect as possible. On another day, we possibly might have pipped it, we were missing one of our best players, but it wasn’t to be on the day and you can’t give teams who are always on the front foot the opportunities we did and they took them and fair play, they won the game fair and square. I hope everything works out for both teams but it’s a really good game.”
Beating Castle’s Royston Town is no mean feat, the Crows firmly cementing themselves as a top ten side in the Southern Premier following their 2016/17 promotion from Division One Central.
“The Club, and the town itself, is getting bigger. It’s on the M11 corridor where there’s an awful lot of housing going up. The town is getting bigger and the Club is going likewise. Obviously we’d like larger attendances but the last game we played in the FA Cup, which we lost, we got 1,100 people there which is a major achievement considering just 18 months ago or so we were scraping 200 people.”
“We’re quite a competitive team in the league we play in, which is step three of non-league football, so all going in the right direction for us.”
“As Leyton Orient are very aware, in non-league football it’s very very hard to get yourself promoted. I’d say it is harder in non-league football in the sense that only one normally goes up automatically and then you’ve got playoffs, which are played straight after the season is finished and then you have to play six games. It is really ridiculous!”
Castle is keen to see supporters from his former club in the stands at Garden Walk when the O’s aren’t playing, despite growing attendances from around 20 when first taking charge.
“It sounds a long way but it’s not too far – it’s only Hertfordshire! The surface is lovely, we try to play within reason as much football as we possibly can, we’ve got some very good footballers – one young man has just signed for Coventry City while others have had trials and interest from bigger teams. We’re pleased with what we’ve got as a local base as well as what we’ve got from lads coming from different areas.”
The O’s remains a place which always remains close to the heart of the former all-action midfielder, who made 322 league appearances for the club over three spells and fondly remembers the club for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
“Leyton Orient is the Club where I’ve spent the longest time, it is my biggest affection. I wasn’t a Leyton Orient supporter as a kid but living in Barkingside and East London, we were spoiled for choice. My Dad especially followed my career very intently and he was very well thought of in terms of supporters in that era. My Mum and Dad used to come to most games, home and away, and they really felt it was a fantastic family club that obviously echoed my thoughts exactly.”
Castle’s side continue their FA Trophy campaign today as they welcome Haywards Heath Town in the Second Qualifying Round and their manager is keen to go as far as possible in the cup, which Orient finished as runners up in last season.
“It starts to get quite interesting, we’ve got a team called Haywards Heath who are in Step 4. We’re at home so we expect a result but we won’t take anything for granted and making sure we try and do as best as we can and progress as much as we can.”
With Castle in charge, anything is possible.