Book Review: Orientation by Adam Michie
Just as the game of football has changed down the years in terms of tactics, formations and rules, so has the experience of those attending it; the fan.
In the Prologue to Orientation, Adam Michie recalls being taken by his father to Upton Park in February 1989, in a pre-Premier League, pre-Sky Sports, First Division encounter between West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers that ended 0-0. Football in England at that time was about to hit the buffers with hooliganism at its height and the tragedy of Hillsborough months away. The subsequent recommendations of the Taylor Report and the birth of the Premier League changed the sport in this country irrevocably. Michie continued with visits to Upton Park with his grandad, but yearned for the experience of going to games, “…with people I knew, my friends, sharing the experience…” He took up supporting Spurs in 1991 so that he could go to games at White Hart Lane with his schoolboy mates. However, as ticket prices rocketed and his friends took up supporting some of the other ‘big’ clubs in London and further afield, Michie drifted away from attending games and became one of the games “…sofa supporters…”
Whilst Michie acknowledges that he bought into the Sky vision and wall-to-wall coverage, he counters that “…behind the façade of glitz and glamour is a sport that seems to have lost its way…” So despite a season at White Hart Lane that could offer Champions League Football and all the foreign array of talent that the Premier League boasted, Michie decided with a group of friends to try and “…rediscover what it was that first made him fall in love with football…” by buying a season ticket at Leyton Orient for the 2010/11 campaign.
Following the Prologue, Michie details from August 2010 through to May 2011 in diary format, the events in following the O’s. He was blessed with a good season which saw Orient maintain a Play-Off challenge and a heroic run in the FA Cup which was only halted after a replay against Arsenal in the Fifth Round. The club was also in the news as West Ham made their bid to move into the Olympic Stadium, right on the doorstep of Brisbane Road. Whilst the content is dominated by details regarding the groups’ visits to watch the Orient in League One and the cup competitions, Michie also give the reader an insight into his personal life, so that there is an appreciation of the author away from football. The style throughout is eminently readable, loaded with a good dose of humour and observation.
The book closes with an Epilogue written in January 2012, as Michie reflects on the experience of the 2010/11 season. To state here what he concludes would be to spoil the book. So instead, get yourself copy, whether Leyton Orient fan, Spurs fans, indeed whatever club or level you watch your football at.
Orientation: A persons’ basic attitude, beliefs, or feelings; a person’s emotional or intellectual position in respect of a particular topic, circumstance, etc.