The Beginning Of The End Beginning
It was a particularly sunny summer in London that year, all the better for Emile Heskey. The relative dampness of his native Leicester was tolerable, but 25-degree days at Brisbane Road were a welcome respite for the ageing journeyman.
Of course, his journey had transformed from the pitch to the dugout, but had continued nonetheless. His latest conquest- Leyton Orient.
It was, all in all, a successful pre-season for the budding young manager. Of course, wins against the much more powerful Championship sides was always going to be a hard task; but one could argue the O's held their own. And 2 crushing wins over less opposition rounded it off, bringing morale to the squad and perhaps even sending a warning to the competition, in the name of James Wilson. The Manchester United loanee bagged 4 goals in 2 games, sending a hat trick past Stevenage in his warm up to the regular season. Oh, how the competition envied Heskey.
Wilson was just one of many transfers made over the course of the summer, with no less than 4 players joining on loan, including James Wilson. As one of England's brightest prospects, Wilson came with a hefty loan fee (£20,000 per month) but Heskey managed to sign 3 further players on loan for no cost whatsoever
. Jesse Lingard (Man United), Luke Garbutt (Everton) and Ryan McLaughlin (Liverpool) would set aside club rivalries and join Leyton Orient for a season- and possibly beyond. And Heskey's very first signing, his favourite, was Tony Leese. As for Leese, well at such young age no one knows how he'll turn out. But under Heskey, anything can happen. And finally, there were 2 departures from Brisbane Road over the summer, which I'm sure caused Heskey much grief... until their replacements came. Chris Dagnall was on his way to Peterborough for £475,000, to be replaced by the younger, faster, James Wilson; whilst Scott Cuthbert crossed Hadrian's Wall to join Celtic for £750,000. Tony Leese would step into his shoes as 3rd string centre back, a massive gamble by Heskey, but one which could yield great gain. Only time will tell.
But perhaps the biggest incident over the summer was a major deal made off the field. Liverpool, which of course is Heskey's favourite club and his home for many years, was in search of a respectable and competitive feeder club, and Leyton Orient was looking for a powerful Premier League club to loan players from. Why, it must be fate that the two affiliate? But of course, there was something far more intent than fate involved....