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Orient midfielder Clay delighted to win over the fans

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 May 2019

Leyton Orient's Craig Clay is challenged by Solihull Moors Kyle Storer (right) and Danny Wright during the National League match at Damson Park (pic: David Davies/PA Images).

Leyton Orient's Craig Clay is challenged by Solihull Moors Kyle Storer (right) and Danny Wright during the National League match at Damson Park (pic: David Davies/PA Images).

PA Wire/PA Images

The one-time England C international expressed his gratitude to the Leyton Orient fans and is hopeful he will be at the club next season

Craig Clay celebrates after scoring for Leyton Orient against Beaconsfield Town (pic: Simon O'Connor).Craig Clay celebrates after scoring for Leyton Orient against Beaconsfield Town (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Craig Clay claimed Leyton Orient's Player of the Year and Players' Player of Year at the club's gala dinner on April 28 and heaped praise on those who voted for the awards.

The central midfielder had, like many, a testing first year at Brisbane Road with several partners in the middle during the 2017/18 campaign.

Clay didn't settle in London for a while either, but put that behind him to impress from the first minute of this season.

After assisting the own-goal at Salford City on the opening day of the campaign, which earned the O's a vital 1-1 draw, Orient's 'Duracell Bunny' was on his way to collective and individual glory.

"To get Player of the Year from the fans is amazing and then to get recognition from lads you work with day in, day out and to be valued by them really means a lot. I'm well happy to win them," Clay said.

"It is always good to win the fans over and to get nice messages from people saying they were wrong, but it was even nice for me to do it on a personal level.

"Without sounding big-headed I knew I could do it, but it was just doing it and I'm happy I have been able to.

"The relationship I have with the gaffer (Justin Edinburgh) and the staff is good and the lads too, so it all fell into place and clicked."

Craig Clay (left), Josh Koroma (centre) and Myles Judd celebrate winning the National League title with injured Leyton Orient team-mate James Dayton in the background on crutches (pic: Simon O'Connor).Craig Clay (left), Josh Koroma (centre) and Myles Judd celebrate winning the National League title with injured Leyton Orient team-mate James Dayton in the background on crutches (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Since Orient's end of season gala dinner, the accolades have continued for the squad and others at the club.

At the National Game Awards at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, Edinburgh was named Field Turf's Manager of the Year, Josh Coulson won Mark Harrod Player of the Year and O's were named Red Insure Team of the Year too.

Before this, Dean Brill, Jobi McAnuff and Macauley Bonne were selected in the National League team of the season for the 2018/19 campaign.

Upon finding out the news, Orient captain McAnuff stated his delight, but also admitted he would have picked Coulson, Joe Widdowson and Clay in the XI.

For O's number eight, it completed a remarkable turnaround in E10 after struggling for consistency during his first season at the club.

After signing on a free transfer from Motherwell, Clay initially had to live in rent-a-rooms and hotels and then finally sorted out a flat towards the end of 2017.

It coincided with Orient's poor form under then-head coach Steve Davis and with injuries piling, a lot of pressure was put on the central midfielder.

Edinburgh's appointment as boss appeared a turning point for the 27-year-old and during the second half of the 2017/18 campaign, he began to impress.

He continued that form into this season and no one could question his worth to the team now and with his contract due to expire this summer, everyone associated with Orient is desperate for him to stay at Brisbane Road.

Clay added: "I understand the job I am in not everyone will like me and that is the same for most walks of life and that is fair enough, but to get some of the messages I have from the fans really means a lot.

"Some have said they were wrong and apologised for what they said and it is just nice to get that, so I am really grateful and to get the reward from the supporters as well."

He continued: "Hopefully I'll be at the club next season. I've spoke to the gaffer a couple of times and that is the gaffer's choice. I want to stay and I am happy here.

"I love the lads, I literally love every single one of the lads and there is not one lad I don't get on with in the team.

"You don't find that in many teams or many work places because normally you don't get along with everyone, but I'm happy playing my football here. I am settled down here and I personally want to stay."

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