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Leyton Orient chairman Nigel Travis has love affair with club that stretches back to greatest years

PUBLISHED: 14:00 06 July 2017

New Leyton Orient chairman Nigel Travis (pic: Simon O'Connor)

New Leyton Orient chairman Nigel Travis (pic: Simon O'Connor)

Simon O'Connor Photography

New chairman fell in love with club at its height and hopes to return O’s to their glory days

Barrie Fairbrother equalises for Leyton Orient, making the score 1-1 in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Portsmouth in 1974 (pic: PA) Barrie Fairbrother equalises for Leyton Orient, making the score 1-1 in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Portsmouth in 1974 (pic: PA)

Growing up a child, most boys dream of playing for the club they love, the club they follow.

Failing that, the next best thing would be to be involved in some capacity, and for new Leyton Orient chairman Nigel Travis, it is something that has now become a reality.

As a member of the Eagles Investments 2017 group that took over the club last week, Travis, who is the chief executive officer of Dunkin’ Brands Group, will now have a direct involvement in the club he has supported for most of his life.

The new man heads up a consortium that takes over from a turbulent three-year spell under the ownership of Francesco Becchetti.

And while he would have liked to have become chairman of his boyhood club with them in the Football League, Travis is simply delighted to be involved.

“It feels fantastic. It’s something I didn’t expect years ago, but I felt I had to do something,” said Travis.

“It feels good and we’ve made a lot of progress so far. (Interim chief executive) Marshall Taylor has done an unbelievable job, grabbing all the issues and trying to get on top of them. I’m confident in what he’s doing

“We’ve announced we’re looking for a new chief executive, which I think is going to be a great job, and we’ve already had some interesting applicants

“(Director of football) Martin Ling is getting stuck in on millions of phone calls.”

When asked about his first time watching the O’s and his first trip to Brisbane Road, the 66-year-old gladly recalls it.

It was a time when the club were in the old Second Division, though the good times were just around the corner, which may have helped increase the speed with which he fell in love.

“My love for Orient started in the old West Stand in October 1959, which was a home game against Sunderland in front of 16,000.

“I started to come regularly after that and very quickly after that, we had the very good times. I was at the ground when Malcom Graham scored the two goals that took us up to the top division.

“The following September, I was right behind Terry McDonald when his shot went into the top left-hand corner when we beat Manchester United at home 1-0.”

The likes of Graham and McDonald feature in Travis’ list of the greatest players he has ever seen in red and white for the O’s.

Having supported the club for many years, there are also plenty of others who are mentioned too when Travis starts naming his favourite players.

Some hark back to the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, when Orient dabbled with top-flight football, while there are still some who caught his eye from the club’s recent troubled past.

“When I look back at my favourite players, in the early days I loved watching Gordon Bolland, I always loved the way he played.

“Harry Gregory was another and later on, Peter Allen was very cultured terrific.

“There’s Barrie Fairbrother and Phil Hoadley, and in recent times we had some great players like ‘Coxy’ and Eldin Jakupovic on loan from Hull City.”

It is the current crop that Travis will now hope to be enjoying seeing perform on the pitch on a regular basis.

The likes of Myles Judd, Steven Alzate and Josh Koroma will all play a big part for the O’s this term, hopefully in calmer waters having been somewhat forced into the first team last term.

However, that could well stand the youngsters in good stead for their careers and Travis has full confidence that they will be among the next group of O’s players to impress him.

“We have some good players still, some great young players who are going to do very well in the future,” said the new chairman, who is 66.

“They may have been thrown in a bit early last year, but I think we’re going to have some legends coming out of the current group.”

Even after just a few days as chairman of the club, Travis looks to have returned the good mood around the club which seeemed to have evaporated under the turmultuous reign of Italian Becchetti.

The next step for Travis and his fellow board members is to plot a route back to the glory days for O’s, the kind of which got the chairman to fall in love with the club all those years ago.

And perhaps then Travis can add new names to his list of players that have turned out in red and white over the years and have regularly got him out of his seat.

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