Here at Thomas Lyte, we never become blasé at the sight of the sporting world’s most famous trophies residing in our London workshop.
Whether it’s the FA Cup returning for its annual restoring process, or the ICC Test Mace being readied for its latest handover, we know what these trophies mean, not just to us, but to the recipients and those watching on spellbound in the stands of Wembley, Lord’s, Wimbledon or pretty much any major global sporting venue you care to mention.
Occasionally, though, things get even more personal. Which is where Leyton Orient’s League Two title charge comes in.
Not too long ago, the O’s were struggling in the National League. Now, they’re on the brink of winning the League Two title. Which is not only great news for the club, but also a scarcely believable scenario for the man charged with engraving their name on the trophy – Barney Nash.
Barney is a popular figure here at Thomas Lyte. He’s also a season ticket holder at Brisbane Road and a man who has endured more downs than ups while following a club with a reputation for putting their fans through the wringer.
Little wonder he’s thrilled at the prospect of engraving the name of the club he loves on that League Two trophy after a season to remember. His own journey has matched the rollercoaster ride experienced by the O’s in recent seasons.
“I started in the Thomas Lyte distribution room, this job came up and I thought, yep, let’s go for it. The first week I joined, the FA Cup was in building! I started engraving medals. Now I’m doing the engraving on some of the most prestigious trophies in world sport.”
Last summer, though, he had little idea what was about to transpire.
“I’ve been an Orient fan my whole life – although someone might tell you I supported West Ham until the age of seven. I won’t confirm or deny that.
“I thought we might do quite well this season so throughout the whole process I’ve been getting more and more excited. We started with the trophy in its fetal form just as the season was too back in August. There have been a couple of things to smooth out with the trophy, a regular occurrence with silverware, which funnily enough coincided with Leyton Orient having their own rocky period as well.
“So, for me, it has really felt that the club and this trophy have had a strong relationship from the off.”
Now, here we are. Leyton Orient are about to be crowned champions and super fan Barney, a season ticket holder of 22 years, is about to fulfil every kid’s dream and engrave his own club’s name on a trophy they’ve both coveted since the opening day of the season.
It’s an extraordinary quirk of fate that has been brought both together. And it’s an opportunity that Barney just can’t wait to grasp.
“The odds of me being able to do this are ridiculous,” says Barney, smiling broadly at the job that awaits. “Orient have been a massive part of my life. I also write for the Orient fanzine – the Orientear – which is one of the oldest fanzine in league football.
“I’ve been writing for that for a number of years, and the guys there are as excited about it as me! Every time I’ve had to do anything connected with it, I’ve written it on the board as the ‘Orient Trophy’. Even my colleagues have been referring to it as the ‘Orient Trophy’ in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way.”
Now, finally over the finish line, Leyton Orient can look forward to crowning their season by lifting a brand new trophy untouched by any other team. Barney, meanwhile, can relax, safe in the knowledge that promotion is assured.
All he needs to do now is fulfil that dream.
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