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A moment in time: Leyton Orient’s 1977 Anglo-Scottish Cup run

We live in a time where the FA have reached the right level of cup competitions that should be on in a season.

In the past, such classics like the Watney Cup, the Full Members Cup and the Texaco Cup were once the hottest thing in English football, but now these failed competitions are only remembered by those fans who experienced glory and defeat in these obscure cups.

One such competition to be created and collapse before it really got going was the Anglo-Scottish Cup, an annual tournament from 1976 to 1981 that pitted 16 English teams and eight Scottish sides against one another in a competition with a mix of group stage games and two-legged knockout matches.

A moment in time – Leyton Orient, 1977

It is in the second edition of the tournament where Leyton Orient almost pulled off an upset and nearly went all the way in the competition.

The O’s, who were in the Second Division, topped a group with the likes of Chelsea and Norwich City, and in the quarter-finals Jimmy Bloomfield’s side continued the run of giant killings, beating Scottish side Aberdeen, who that season would go on to finish third in the league and win the Scottish League Cup, 2-0 on aggregate.

The disqualification of Newcastle from the tournament in the final eight due to the Toon fielding a weakened team in the first leg of the quarter-finals meant that the semi-finals would pit two English teams and against two Scottish teams, Leyton Orient and Nottingham Forest against Ayr United and Patrick Thistle.

Drawn with Thistle, who has just won promotion to the Scottish Premier Division the season before, Orient looked to have reached the end of the road and normality was about to step in and deny the east London side a famous win, but the magic of the cup was still with the O’s.

A 4-2 aggregate win sent Orient to their first cup final since the 1973 London Challenges Cup final, another FA competition to have a place in the pantheons of short-lived cup competitions.

Their opponents in the final would be Brian Clough’s Forest, who were looking for promotion to the First Division and were also keen on winning their first piece of silverware in over 18 years.

It is here where Orient’s fairytale run would end. Despite getting a respectful 1-1 draw at home, the away leg to the City Ground would prove to be their downfall. Forest wiped the floor with the O’s, winning 4-0 and defender Colin Barrett scoring a brace.

It would be Clough’s first piece of silverware as Forest manager, something the legendary coach valued during his time at the time, saying in his biography: “Those who said it was a nothing trophy were absolutely crackers. We’d won something, and it made all the difference.”

For Orient, the club was unable to break into the top 10 of the Second Division, and in 1982 the club were eventually relegated to the Third Division.

The Anglo-Scottish Cup might be lost to the halls of obscurity, but winning or losing the long-forgotten cup sends ripples through time that can send clubs to either unprecedented glory or unavoidable destruction.

Orient fans, would the club’s fortunes have changed if they won the Anglo-Scottish Cup?

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