Gloucester City v Leyton Orient, 3pm
4 November ~ Watching Leyton Orient this season has been a thoroughly joyless experience. For many supporters this resigned inertia is part and parcel of the experience of following the team – few clubs journey from year to year with as little incident as the O's. But there's a growing feeling among fans that our little club has become the very definition of one going nowhere and even if we are, we're going there with a shrug. Despite what our chairman Barry Hearn might say, rebranding ourselves as London Orient isn't going to change that.
Away from the sensation, there are facts. As things stand, Orient have scored 11 goals in 15 league games. If the team maintains that average, they'll end the season with 34 goals. It's worth noting that last time Orient got relegated, under John "and you can bring yer dinner" Sitton in 1994-95 they only scored 30 goals all season.
You'd think the current management might want to play more than one striker at home, or, if you're a traditionalist, a couple of wingers – although most would take one right now. Don't even get me started on the seemingly controversial notion of using players in the positions they were signed for. Or the sheer drudgery of the hoofball served up. There are pockets of fans organising boycotts of home games now – it's looking awfully threadbare in the Tommy Johnston Stand this season.
Amid all this discontent arrives the FA Cup and the chance for some magic, or a couple of minutes on Football Focus at the very least. The problem is, we've been drawn away to Gloucester City at Cheltenham's Whaddon Road (our opponent's Meadow Park is still drying out after the floods of 2007). Gloucester compete three tiers below Orient, in the Conference North, and haven't been in the competition's first round since 1989-90.
Now, no true fan would ever want their team to lose but there's been a thought lingering in my mind recently that, while troubling, sort of excites me a little bit too. Part of me envisages Gloucester properly spanking us and exposing the dull, backward-thinking football philosophies that are crippling the club – the joke among Orient fans is that we're so negative this season that the increasingly dislikable manager Russell Slade might play for a draw – and that the shock and humiliation to our not-especially-publicity-shy chairman might be the arbitrator for change Orient need. Because something must happen. James McMahon