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Word Of Honour: Battles With The Orient

6 February 2019

Brian Honour Mark Fletcher (Shutter Press)
Pools legend Brian Honour

Broken legs, red cards, tunnel scraps, magic tablets and Chris Waddle - Pools legend Brian Honour shares some astonishing tales of past games against Leyton Orient.

Hello everyone and welcome back to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.

I am sure there was frustration from the fans and the players last weekend when the news was confirmed that the game at Ebbsfleet United had been postponed. When you’ve won a game you just want the next one to come along quickly so that will have been deflating.

Speaking from a player’s point of view, it’s always disappointing to have spent the week working towards a game to then find out it’s not going ahead. And it’s also a bit annoying that it now means we have to head down there on a Tuesday night too.

However, the positive side is that we got a chance to recharge the batteries with a couple of days off last weekend. Sometimes it does you good to get away from the place, dust yourself down and then refocus on the task ahead so hopefully the little break will do us good.

There were certainly some encouraging signs in our last game against Braintree – not least that we came from behind to get the three points that we really needed, particularly on home soil where it’s been a bit of a struggle.

We have good players at the Club but for some reason it seems to have been a case of one step forward two steps backwards at times but hopefully now with Higgy back in charge we can have some stability on that front and start moving forward again.

There has been a lot of upheaval off the pitch and we’re on to our third manager of the season – I know people will say that shouldn’t affect players but it definitely can. You’ll have one manager who has his own ideas on the way things should be done and then it changes, or you will have certain players who get attached to a manager and find it difficult to adjust. Perhaps it shouldn’t happen but it does.

I was really encouraged to hear Higgy talking about how important it is to be at our best for the rest of the season and that we won’t be going through any trial and error scenarios with the team. We aren’t in a trial period here, we’re playing for points and I am right behind Higgy in that we need to set a standard to aim for. Why can’t we go for the rest of the season unbeaten? It’s a big ask but it’s doable if we put our minds to it.

This weekend’s game against Orient reminds me that we have had some real battles with them over the years. Something always seemed to happen when we played against them – one year Alan Little broke his leg, Bob Newton got sent-off, there always seemed to be that bit of needle when the teams went on the pitch together.

There was hell on when Alan broke his leg – he was on the receiving end of a horror tackle from John Sitton, the guy who went on to manage Orient and was in that famous documentary with Chris Turner. I remember going over to Alan and he was just sitting on the ground saying “He’s broken my leg there.” We were all telling him to stop joking but then he rolled his sock down to show his smashed shin pad and the damage to his leg. I will never forget saying “Oh God, I’m so sorry Alan,” but he just sat back, folded his arms and replied “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword, Brian.”

There was actually a game down at Brisbane Road 31 years ago today which I remember not only because we won 2-0 and I set up Paul Baker for his goal, but also because Chris Waddle came to see us in the dressing room before the game.

He was playing for Spurs at the time and knew our ex-Newcastle goalkeeper Kevin Carr so he got an invite to the game and came to see the boys and wish us good luck before kick-off. None of us could believe it because he was a real star at the point in time.

We won the game and Waddle came back in the dressing room afterwards to say well done. I remember he came across quite shy but then Keith Nobbs – who was in the bath with a few us – started singing ‘Diamond Lights’ at the top of his voice! Waddle just stuck his head round the wall and gave us a wink!

I always liked going to Brisbane Road. I know it’s been modernised a lot now but it was always a proper football stadium and it was usually an excellent pitch to play on too. And because it was always exciting.

Sadly, the year after the Waddle game I got a serious knee injury there and that was the start of my problems with that. I recall clearly that the needle started quite early in the game – “you cockney so and so” was met with “you Geordie pig”, it was standard sort of stuff.

Kevin Campbell was on loan with Orient at the time and he was particularly chirpy so I left one on him, shall we say, just to let him know I was about. Then about five minutes later I went to shoot and a player called Steve Castle came steaming in and caught me really late. As revenge goes, it was a good one – and I suppose I gave it out, so I had to learn to take it.

I tried to play on but in the end I was carried off by Pop Robson and Gary Henderson and was taken to the physio room just down the entrance to the tunnel. The Orient doctor took one look and told me it looked like a bad one. At that point I could hear the studs rattling in the tunnel as it must have been half-time and because of my injury there was even more needle. “You Geordie maggots”, “you monkey-hangers” were two of the more polite terms being thrown about and I desperately wanted to hop up and go and get involved!

The doctor told me to relax and then gave me a tablet to put under my tongue – and almost immediately I felt really drowsy. The next thing I can remember is waking up at The Swan which is where we used to meet in those days. I still had my strip on – but with a pair of brogues. Remember when you used to walk home from school with your football kit on and shoes? That’s how I woke up!

As I say, that was really the start of my knee problems and what eventually led to me having a knee replacement two years ago.

Hopefully Saturday’s game will be a calmer affair but we know it will be tough, with Orient being at the top of the league. We’re going to have to be at our best but, if we can get a couple of players back and be at more or less full strength, then I fancy we’re a match for anyone at this level.

I have had a couple of questions come in on Twitter for me…

Have you ever scored from a corner?
Haha! I have scored from a corner. And just have a look to see what anniversary it is coming up this Saturday and that might remind you of the goal…

How many hats do you have?
Well, I wasn’t good enough to get any England caps so I’m making up for that by building a big collection of hats! I’ve got trilbies, pork pie hats, Baker Boy hats and some Peaky Blinders numbers – you name it, I’ve got it!

Never Say Die.


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