A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today
Relegated from the Segunda in 2016, Oriental now find themselves back in the familiar territory of Portugal’s lower tiers.
Not that Lisbon’s own Orient have always been so modest. Representing, as their name suggests, the eastern part of Portugal’s capital, Oriental were launched in 1946 as an amalgam of three rival clubs: Chelas, Marvilense and Os Fósforos.
Based in Marvila, Os Fósforos (‘The Matches’) had been formed by workers at a local match factory in 1920, and played at the Quinta dos Alfinetes. This later became the Campo Engenheiro Carlos Salema, current ground of Oriental and named after the factory engineer who worked on its redesign after the merger. The badge of Os Fósforos sported a huge eagle.
Dating back earlier, Chelas had been founded on Christmas Day 1911 and produced later Benfica striker Rogério Pipi, who would go on to win three league titles and pick up 15 caps for Portugal. He ended his career at then newly formed Oriental. The Chelas badge was centrepieced by an image of a leather football.
Finally, also representing the district of Marvila, Marvilense had been set up in 1918 and sported a badge in the shape of shield.
Combining all three clubs and their badge designs into one, Oriental were created in August 1946, four months after a meeting at the Café Gelo billiard hall. A friendly match was set up, against then Portuguese champions Belenenses and, after a 2-1 inaugural defeat, Oriental joined the II Divisão Série 7.
The following season, this second tier was restructured in a more simple fashion and, in 1950, Oriental won its play-off phase.
The 1950s, in fact, were the club’s heyday. With Rogério Pipi seeing out his days at the Campo Salema, Oriental spent five seasons with the Benficas and the Sportings, finishing a best-ever fifth.
Known and chanted by their acronym of COL (‘Clube Oriental de Lisboa’), the Orientalistas then spent the 1960s in the II Divisão Zona Sul before coming back up in 1973.
This time the stay was only for two seasons. Oriental’s promotion to the Segunda in 2014 was the club’s first taste of second-tier football since 1989.
2014-15 proved to be the most memorable season since the 1950s, COL managing to stay up and even beat Vitoria Setúbal in the cup, before falling to Marítimo on penalties.
Relegated, along with fellow lesser Lisbon side Atlético Clube, in 2016, Oriental remain the usual ragbag of Lusitanians, Brazilians, Angolans and Cape Verdeans, backed by a small but loyal bunch of fans wrapped in scarves of club colour grenadine.
The field of dreams – and the stands around it
Designed by the very engineer it is named after, the Campo Engenheiro Carlos Salema is a classic lower-league Portuguese football ground, all neat low terracing and bright splashes of paint. In the distance, the huge Tagus estuary.
It was here that Os Fósforos, the match-factory team that became one third of Oriental, played in the 1920s.
Reconfigured by the good Senhor Salema, this became the new stadium for the new club – only that it turned out that its pitch wasn’t big enough to host top-tier football.
Ditching the ambitious but pricy dream to build a completely new, 33,000-capacity stadium, the Madre de Deus (‘Mother of God’), Oriental set about rotating the whole original ground 90 degrees, completed in 1954.
Sadly, they had ignored a well located immediately beneath one of the stands, which collapsed the day after a cup game with Paços de Ferreira in 1977.
Rebuilt once more, the ground was even provided with a relaid pitch and was unveiled in September 1991 with the visit of FC Porto.
Going to the stadium – tips and timings
On the map, the stadium is reasonably close to Marvila station, on the Linha da Azambuja commuter line that crosses in town with Sete Rios (blue metro line) and Entrecampos (yellow) – but it’s a hilly climb and few trains are timetabled to stop there. The next station up, Braço de Prata, has regular connections. From there, it’s still a hike but bus 755 runs every 20mins. The stadium is between the third and fourth stops from the station, Av Paulo VI/Rua José Patrocinio and Av Paulo VI Igreja. The bus then runs all the way to Sete Rios, a journey of more than an hour.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
A modest entrance fee of around €5 is usually charged from the row of windows near Porta B2 – visiting supporters pay by Porta B1. You’ll also see a modest selection of COL scarves being sold on match days, from a little window somewhat ambitiously called the Loja Grená, the ‘Grenadine Store’.
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
By the stadium on main Avenida Paulo VI, look out for the yellow awning of the Bar da Liga, with its row of Benfica tops on the wall and photo of the first Oriental team line-up of 1946, beside a shirt and pennant of their opponents that day, Belenenses.