THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Division Three, 1990

Orient-v-Swansea3003 March ~ The two teams were hovering just above the relegation zone of the third tier (Division Three still meant "division three") after inconsistent seasons. They both managed to avoid the drop, and Orient haven't moved a whole lot since, but in the following years Swansea were almost relegated out of the Football League on three occasions. Now they make beating Manchester United twice in a season look routine (perhaps because it is).

The programme rings with the names of future stars, fading stalwarts and relatives of the famous. Helping the Swansea defence keep a clean sheet were two young Welsh defenders – Andy Melville and current Wales manager Chris Coleman – who went on to solid careers in the Premier League. They played together at Fulham, where both were club captain, and were capped 65 and 37 caps times respectively for their country.

The grizzled maws of experience in the Swansea squad included former Scottish international Tommy Hutchison, Alan Curtis (his third playing spell at the club – now he's first-team coach) and club legend Robbie James, who eventually made almost 800 league appearances in all (almost 500 of them for the Swans), and was capped 47 times by Wales. He died aged 40 after collapsing during a game for Llanelli against Porthcawl in 1998.

Related to the famous? John Toshack's son Cameron appears in the Swansea team photo, but never made a senior appearance for the club, his career limited to five games for Cardiff. Today he coaches Swansea's under-18s. The late Carl Hoddle, brother of Glenn, was a journeyman midfielder for the O’s who later made almost 100 appearances for Barnet. He died of a brain aneurysm, also aged just 40.

Adding to the tone of retrospective tragedy is Orient manager Frank Clark's news that Justin Fashanu was training with the club and was about to sign a short-term contract after scoring four times for the reserves against Wokingham (he ended up playing five times for the first team, but didn't score). Fashanu's personality had appealed to Clark while they were both players at Nottingham Forest, and the forward "so impressed everyone [at Orient] with his enthusiasm, fitness and ability that we felt like he would be a real asset to the side". Fashanu hung himself in east London in 1998 after fleeing an arrest warrant on a sexual assault charge in the US state of Maryland. He was 37.

Result Orient 0 Swansea 2 (Hough, Davey)
Crowd  3,628
Orient Rees, Hales, Dickenson, Hoddle, Day, Sitton, Sayer, Harvey,  Cooper (Fashanu) Campbell (Baker) 
Swansea Bracey, Hough, Coleman, Melville, Boyle, Thornber, Harris, Davey, Chalmers (Hughes) , Raynor (Legg), Hutchison

Ian Plenderleith

Ian Plenderleith's "Rock n Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League" is out now, published by Icon Books

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