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Coulson wants to enjoy more great celebrations with special Orient group

PUBLISHED: 14:00 15 May 2019

Leyton Orient centre back Josh Coulson (left) and Jobi McAnuff celebrate winning the National League (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient centre back Josh Coulson (left) and Jobi McAnuff celebrate winning the National League (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

We sat down with Josh Coulson for our Redemption pullout to discuss O's fantastic season and preview the club's return to Wembley

Josh Coulson scores the winning goal for Leyton Orient away to AFC Telford United (pic: Simon O'Connor).Josh Coulson scores the winning goal for Leyton Orient away to AFC Telford United (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Josh Coulson has won promotion to the Football League and the FA Trophy in the same season once before, but he is greedy for more success with this special group of players at Leyton Orient.

The ex-Cambridge United centre back is a hugely popular member of Justin Edinburgh's team and has provided an insight into the close relationship of the tight-knit squad.

A classic football cliche is "we have a great bunch of lads" but when people say it about this O's group, they are not empty words.

Coulson moved to Brisbane Road on loan in July 2017 - after a decade playing for the U's - before he made the switch permanently to the capital five months later.

During his time at the Abbey Stadium, the defender led the club to promotion glory via the play-offs and the FA Trophy and he will now aim to do seal the official 'Non-League Double' on Sunday under the arch at Wembley.

"I think everyone knows I was at Cambridge for a long time and that it is my hometown club, so to get promoted with Cambridge was something special, but I would put this (title win) right up there with it," Coulson said.

"It has been special and it is winning the league with this group of people we have done it with. I don't think a lot of people will stumble upon a group like this ever again.

"We have a special group and we all get on really well and we're all very close and also our families.

"After a match it is nice to go up to the bar and all our wives, girlfriends and kids are together and it makes it special.

Justin Edinburgh celebrates with Leyton Orient defender Josh Coulson after promotion to the Football League is secured (pic: Simon O'Connor).Justin Edinburgh celebrates with Leyton Orient defender Josh Coulson after promotion to the Football League is secured (pic: Simon O'Connor).

"To win the league and then add the FA Trophy to it and do the real double, that would be special and I keep telling all our younger lads to soak it in because this doesn't happen all the time.

"They need to enjoy it, take it in and do one more job because they will be remembered forever."

Coulson's role this season has not just been limited to defending, though, with the centre back the O's most prolific player during a testing month of March.

He has scored eight times so far in the 2018/19 campaign and would love a couple more at Wembley to reach double figures, but shared the praise when asked about his recently discovered predatory instincts.

"I wouldn't mind 10," Coulson laughed. "This is my best goal return and since I returned from my hamstring injury it felt like I was getting one every other game.

"All I had to do was tap or head them in because we have such good delivery and quality in the team and we are dangerous from any set-piece.

"We have a lot of people who can attack the ball and Marv (Ekpiteta) is not far behind me and 'Haps' (Dan Happe) popped up with a couple of massive goals too.

"I can't take all the credit, the lads just put the ball on my head, but it is always nice to chip in and I'm very pleased with what I have got so far."

After Coulson got off the mark in the 3-1 win over Barnet during September, he backed it up the following month against Havant & Waterlooville.

Josh Coulson celebrates scoring against Havant & Waterlooville by doing the baby shark celebration (pic: Simon O'Connor).Josh Coulson celebrates scoring against Havant & Waterlooville by doing the baby shark celebration (pic: Simon O'Connor).

In a strange twist of fate, his next goal was also against Hawks - away from home in March and it started an extraordinary spell.

Coulson scored in the league wins at Havant and Aldershot Town and then in the FA Trophy semi-final second leg at AFC Telford United.

After his March heroics, he was at it again in April, scoring away to Bromley and most recently in the 2-0 win over Harrogate Town.

Yet what really made Coulson stand out this season was how he dealt with different and younger partners throughout the term.

George Elokobi played with the centre back at the beginning of the campaign, but he suffered an injury in O's second league game.

It handed a chance to Ekpiteta and he showed his potential from the off and the two have been a major reason behind Orient's 24 clean sheets in all competitions.

Ever-present Dean Brill is also a huge factor, having played every single minute this season, and the plaudits must go to Happe and Joe Widdowson as well.

The experienced Widdowson has taken care of himself, but the guidance Coulson gave to Happe and Ekpiteta has been crucial at the heart of Orient's defence.

Four of O's clean sheets have come in the FA Trophy which in the end allowed Edinburgh to give minutes to 'so-called' squad men, who actually helped get the team over the line in the title race.

Coulson added: "Because we have a big squad and we have players who probably should be playing every week in this league, but are not, I think they wanted to prove a point in the Trophy and it has worked.

"This competition has pushed people on and pushed the team on and obviously it might have been in the back of people's heads that they needed to play well at the end of the season because we have a Wembley trip. Who knows?

"But we will go there as one big group, like we have been all year, and hopefully enjoy the day."

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