Justin Edinburgh: Leyton Orient Legend

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On the 29th November 2017, Justin Edinburgh was appointed Head Coach of Leyton Orient Football Club. 

Without a win in 14 League games, the O’s sat 20th in the National League table, just three points above the drop zone. With the threat of back to back relegations a real possibility, the O’s were in desperate need of a turnaround in form.

 “We built up a criteria for a Head Coach and Justin ticked all of the boxes.”  –  Martin Ling

Having narrowly lost his first game in charge 1-0 away to Solihull Moors, Justin would win the following three National League games, including his first in front of a home crowd; a 4-1 thrashing of Sutton United.

The O’s picked up 39 points under Edinburgh, finishing the campaign in 13th with a grand total of 60 points. A long trip North saw Orient face Gateshead on the final day of the season. Goals from Macauley Bonne, Captain Jobi McAnuff and Josh Koroma secured a solid 3-1 victory on the road, ensuring the season ended in positive fashion.

“I’ve just said to the players in there that I’ll sleep a lot better than I did after the first game at Solihull Moors. We’ve come a long way since then and we all would have wanted more but it’s been a solid four or five months since I’ve been here.”  –  Justin Edinburgh

2018/19 Campaign 

The following August Orient faced newly promoted Salford City on the opening day of the season. The game finished 1-1 and began a run of 13 games unbeaten, which included eight victories against the likes of Dover, Barnet and Braintree.

A winning mentality was installed into the squad who marched forward in the league and hit top spot for the first time after a 3-0 win against Harrogate Town. Form showed no sign of slipping up and the O’s had a firm grip of top spot come late November.

In the space of just 12 months, Edinburgh transformed a relegation candidate to title challengers. The O’s FA Trophy run commenced with a comfortable 4-0 win against Beaconsfield Town as the team overcame a hectic festive period to top the table heading into the New Year.

On their way to Wembley, Orient would knock out Wrexham, Blyth Spartans, Brackley Town and  Telford United before facing AFC Fylde at Wembley in mid-May. Orient beat Telford 3-1 across two legs in late March and swiftly turned their attention to the six remaining league fixtures.

Champions

A draw against Barnet gave the O’s a four point cushion heading into April with just five teams standing between them and the National League glory. The following week the O’s came from two down to salvage a point thanks to Matty Harrold’s late, late heroics. A valuable point, though Salford closed the gap to two points having won their fixture.

Another late strike against Sutton United, this time  from Macauley Bonne, rescued all  three points for Justin Edinburgh’s ten men.

“I always feel confident in myself taking penalties and when it went in, I couldn’t describe it. We need wins now for the rest of the season if we want to get to where we want to get to.”  –  Macauley Bonne

Orient then beat Harrogate 2-0 at the Breyer Group Stadium, leaving just two more games. The O’s had the opportunity to wrap up the title against Solihull Moors, the side that Edinburgh first faced as Head Coach of the club. Two points clear of Salford and three clear of their opponents, any points picked up at Damson park would go a long way to claiming the title. A tense affair, Orient displayed incredible composure to navigate the match and pick up a huge point on the road.

It’s unlikely supporters remember much of the 90 minute game, but news of Alex Reid’s strike for Fylde against Salford meant that Orient stood three points clear as the full time whistle blew, sparking the away end into ecstasy. Only a complete catastrophe could deny the O’s the title now.

The 27th April 2019, Leyton Orient 0-0 Braintree Town. History. One more game of football. A season of togetherness, hard work and belief was an hour and a half away from its just reward. What would be the Gaffer’s final game in E10, would end in pure celebration. Leyton Orient returned to the Football League as Champions. 46 games. 25 wins. 89 points.

 

The Biggest Stage

May 19th 2019. Wembley. 24,000 Orient supporters brought together to celebrate the season’s achievements and watch their team on the biggest stage. Although the result favoured Fylde, the day will be remembered by all for years to come. Justin Edinburgh managed the O’s for the final time.

 “The success that Justin brought to Leyton Orient was incredible, but more importantly the impact he had on us all as a winner and a wonderful, inspirational human being will be his legacy and will stay with us forever.”  –  Nigel Travis

Justin Edinburgh won 45 and drew 21 of his 82 matches in charge of the club. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic passing of our late Head Coach. A father, a husband, a friend and a legend. Not a day passes where you’re not in each and every single one of our thoughts. As always, the club would like to extend their love and support to the Edinburgh family, on what is sure to be a difficult day.

“Football aside, Justin was a hugely positive man, loved his family. Every day he came in he had that lust for life, a real zest about him, and a real willingness to enjoy himself.”  –  Jobi McAnuff

#ForTheMemories