In his first blog exclusively for OrientVital, Steven Roast assesses the outgoing players from the 2012/13 Squad.
Once the final ball is kicked at the end of a season the next most eagerly anticipated day amongst supporters is the released list. Those players who are out of contract who will be told ‘Sorry but you don`t figure in my plans` from the boss are revealed. Throughout the course of the season every supporter will have an opinion on who to keep at all costs and who to show the door to. Russ will certainly have done plenty of head scratching as he has the final decision of who stays and who goes. Nowadays there is wages, budgets, squad weaknesses and possible replacements being available to consider before he makes a decision on each out of contract player. This summer was no different and here is a quick rundown on who got the dreaded ‘I`m letting you go` speech from Russ back in May.
Leon McSweeney – Probably the biggest surprised of the released sextet. Leon had two solid years with the O`s and was the classic ‘Mr Versatile`. Playing mostly at right back he gave Russ a solution to that troubled position. Also had spells at left back and across the middle of the park, Leon would quietly go about his business wherever he was asked. Possibly this versatility worked against him but he will leave being remembered as a steady but not spectacular servant.
O`s career highlight: Being blamed by Ben Chorley for EVERY goal conceded during the 2011/12 season.
Possible destination: Back to Hartlepool to help their return to League 1.
Jimmy Smith – This one would also have raised a few eyebrows. Jimmy Smith…once touted by ‘Championship` clubs after his scoring exploits during ‘that` cup run and being part of ‘that` midfield in 2010/11, sadly Jimmy`s O`s career never reached those heights again. One of those players who divided the opinion of O`s fans due to either scoring vital goals from midfield or not realising he was actually playing until he was subbed in the 81st minute!
O`s career highlight: On the field those goals at Norwich and Swansea in the FA Cup. Off the field famously offering out an O`s message board contributor after some less than complimentary comments and his infamous tweets!
Possible destination: Stevenage?well he has actually signed for them!
Lee Butcher – Initially signing on loan ‘Butch` was snapped up in the summer of 2010 as back up keeper. Got his chance when Jamie Jones got injured in 2010 but didn`t impress and a stayed on the fringe of the team until another Jones injury the following season. Was just beginning to establish himself in the team when a horrific cruciate injury against Scunthorpe in February ruled him out for the rest of the season and beyond. He never played again and as a result one of the most likeable Orient players release was inevitable.
O`s career highlight: Penalty shoot-out saves at Southend in the Carling Cup win in 2011 and saving a penalty from Preston`s Graham ‘never misses` Alexander to help us to our first win in eleven attempts at the start of 2011/12 season.
Possible destination: Stevenage or Crawley would suit him.
Charlie MacDonald – Snapped up on a short term deal in January to help solve the O`s striker crisis. Managing 3 goals in 20 appearances, while Charlie was criticised for his lack of goals his effort was there for all to see. Offered some much needed strength to the O`s frontline and would have been interesting to see how he performed over a whole season.
O`s career highlight: Scoring a brace in the 3-1 home win against ‘moneybags` Bournemouth and nearly causing a riot at home to Notts County following a collision with their goalie!
Possible destination: Colchester as he doesn`t seem to stray too far!
Lee Cook – ‘Mr QPR` ended up at the O`s (via Charlton) on a short term deal following an initial loan spell. Managing 38 appearances last season Cook would often flatter to deceive being brilliant one week then anonymous the next. Made his desire to play at a higher level crystal clear would also equally show his feelings when substituted. Could deliver a killer cross or wonder goal but equally run down blind alleys as he realised he wasn`t actually as good as QPR and O`s legend Stan Bowles!
O`s career highlight: The winner at Swindon to give us our first win of the season and the late, late leveller at Brentford to silence Griffin Park.
Possible destination: If he has his way QPR but more realistically back at the O`s with his tail between his legs!
Martin Rowlands – Bringing much needed weight and experience to the O`s midfield he signed for us at the start of last season. Used sparingly by Slade because of his age we still got 33 appearances and 4 goals out of the midfielder. Capable of some cracking goals but always looked like he might be more at home in the boxing ring!
O`s career highlight: Smashing home a 25 yard free kick at Griffin Park to stun the Brentford boo boys.
Possible destination: Wycombe or Gillingham look realistic.