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Clark reminisces about the time Orient signed Arsenal’s Campbell

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 December 2018

Former Leyton Orient manager and chief executive Frank Clark in the crowd (pic: Mike Egerton/PA Images).

Former Leyton Orient manager and chief executive Frank Clark in the crowd (pic: Mike Egerton/PA Images).

PA Wire/PA Images

Leyton Orient are on the look out for new faces and it could make all the difference come the end of the National League campaign

Justin Edinburgh urges Leyton Orient on against Gateshead (pic: Simon O'Connor).Justin Edinburgh urges Leyton Orient on against Gateshead (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient fans know the importance of making a signing midway through a season where the team are seeking promotion and it seems reinforcements will be coming soon to boost Justin Edinburgh’s squad.

On November 27, after the O’s had just been held to a goalless draw by Aldershot Town in the National League, the head coach revealed he wanted to bring in more players to help with their title tilt.

Edinburgh said: “For us to continue this and to challenge we probably need one or two new faces that’s for sure.

“We probably need one more in a wide area with Josh Koroma doing so well up front now. I don’t like to keep moving him back out wide. It is a little bit unfair on him, so we might need another in a wide area and you can never have enough strikers.”

Fast forward to the present day and Orient’s desire to be active in the transfer market has increased some more given the recent news about James Dayton.

Dayton suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Boreham Wood and needed surgery on Monday.

It means the winger will miss the next few months of football and it leaves O’s short in the wide areas.

James Brophy will be the player handed an opportunity and the next man waiting in the wings is Crystal Palace loanee Levi Lumeka, although he has failed to make an impact since he signed on loan in August.

Yet even before Dayton’s injury Orient director of football Martin Ling was on the look out for players alongside chief scout Steve Foster and his team of scouts.

Leyton Orient winger James Dayton reacts after missing a chance (pic: Simon O'Connor).Leyton Orient winger James Dayton reacts after missing a chance (pic: Simon O'Connor).

The significance of a mid-season signing is not lost on O’s fans, who remember the big impact a loanee had during the 1988/89 campaign.

Orient, then in the Fourth Division, brought in young forward Kevin Campbell, 18, from Arsenal in January.

It was a masterstroke by then-manager Frank Clark with the teenage striker netting nine times in 16 appearances.

Campbell’s goals helped take O’s into the top seven with a stunning run of 11 wins from their final 16 league fixtures.

Sixth-placed Orient then saw off Scarborough in a two-legged play-off semi-final before they defeated Wrexham in a two-legged final to seal promotion to the Third Division.

While Campbell’s loan had ended by the time O’s secured promotion, his contribution to their success was never forgotten.

Clark said: “We were never what you would call promotion favourites, but I thought we had a decent team and the icing on the cake was when I was able to get Kevin on loan from Arsenal.

“Kevin came here and did a marvellous job and just gave us that little bit of extra quality and brought out the best in the rest of the players.”

Orient boss Edinburgh and Ling and Foster will now be searching for a Campbell-esque signing – the type which might make the difference come April 27.

During the 2013/14 campaign, when O’s finished third in League One behind champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and runners-up Brentford, many noted, some in hindsight, the squad could have done with more reinforcements.

Several goalkeepers joined, due to the crisis the club suffered between the sticks, and the likes of Jamie Ness, Shaq Coulthirst, Jamar Loza and John Lundstram signed on loan and forward Chris Dagnell moved to Brisbane Road permanently, but Orient needed more.

A major addition that campaign may have tipped the balance in O’s favour and seen them go up instead of Brentford.

We shall never know, but it does seem the key figures at Orient now are aware of how important a mid-season signing can be.


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