They Took The Lead by Stephen Jenkins

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Since the outbreak of the Great War, encouraged by the success of McCrae's Battalion in Scotland, the Clapton Orient chairman, Captain Henry Wells-Holland, had the dream of starting his own platoon consisting entirely of O's players and staff.

With the authorities - mindful of the criticism of professional football continuing whilst a war was on - deciding to form a battalion specifically for footballers to join, a meeting was held at Fulham Town Hall on 15th December for players that wanted to join up into the newly formed battalion - the 17th Middlesex (the Footballers' Battalion).

Ten Orient footballers enlisted straight away with more colleagues from the Club soon following their example. Thus it was Clapton Orient became the first English Football League club to volunteer en masse to serve King and Country. Although players from other clubs around the country also joined, it really was Clapton Orient - later, of course to become Leyton Orient - who Took The Lead.



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