Shona Duthie was the Guardian’s Leyton Orient correspondent during the club’s darkest days. With Justin Edinburgh's bidding to complete the non-league double on Sunday, she looks back on those troubled times, spearheading this newspaper’s campaign to save the O’s and the club’s journey back to where it belongs.

Gresty Road was a scene of Leyton Orient heartbreak and tears on April 22, 2017.

Leyton Orient had lost 3-0 to Crewe Alexandra, a defeat that ended their 112-year stay in the Football League.

Caretaker boss Omer Riza was visibly distraught, O’s fan and BBC radio commentator Dave Victor held back the tears in his end of match show after the fans had clapped the youngsters off the pitch. It was a relegation that had been coming for months.

Now there is something to celebrate at Brisbane Road, after two years in the National League Orient won the title to gain automatic promotion back into League Two. And there could be more celebrations on Sunday.

Where did it all go wrong two years ago?

Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti bought the club from Barry Hearn for £4million in 2014 after Orient were a spot kick away from being promoted into the Championship.

He claimed he’d have Orient in the Championship before they knew it and even the phrase “West Ham beware” was used.

What did happen were two relegations in the space of three seasons, financial turmoil, a spate of managers, fan protests and an absentee owner for months.

This writer experienced the unfolding at first hand.

Winding up petition

Anyone who had anything to do with Leyton Orient on March 1 would have seen their phones light up like a Christmas tree that morning.

Notification after notification on social media of the news that had just broken - Orient had been served a winding-up petition and would be forced to appear at the High Court.

While such petitions to football clubs are not abnormal, something about that morning felt different for the O’s.

It cemented another milestone, if you will, in what was Becchetti’s ownership of the club.

Things were clearly not going the Italian’s way and a mere two months before the petition the footballing world witnessed the most bizarre statement issued on behalf of a club.

“Mr Becchetti does not play on a Saturday,” wrote chief executive Alessandro Angelieri via Google translate.

It also hit out at players such as Jay Simpson while defending Becchetti’s reign.

But the worst was yet to come.

Unpaid wages and bills

By the end of March it was revealed players and staff had not been paid and the club owed money to Waltham Forest Council.

Debt started to pile up and it was feared the second oldest club in the UK could enter administration.

The owner did little to dispel the fears and this is why this newspaper launched the Save Leyton Orient campaign.

It was my first job in sports journalism and it was certainly a baptism of fire but one that will never be forgotten.

Seven-day working weeks and with a motto of “it’s not work if you are getting the truth for people who deserve it” saw a campaign in the paper that ran for three months.

It’s end goal was to see Orient returned to a rightful owner and it did just that.

New era

Orient were given a stay of execution in their first court hearing on March 23 but had to return on June 12.

All creditors on the petition were paid, others were still waiting payment, and the case was dismissed but plenty of speculation still remained.

That was until long-time O’s fan Nigel Travis put a bid in for the club and it was understood on June 21 that the takeover would be completed.

The next day the news was confirmed, Travis was to head a business consortium, Eagle Investments, and serve as chairman, while the board of directors would include principal investor Kent Teague.

Martin Ling, Matt Porter and Barry Hearn all returned and while not everything has been plain sailing since, the O’s have swiftly moved back in the right direction since they were taken over.

Back where they belong

Orient hired Steve Davis to be their man in the dugout for their first season in the National League

This did not pan out as they had hoped and by November he was sacked with the O’s languishing 19th in the table.

Justin Edinburgh was appointed by the end of the month and it is proving to be the one of the best decisions the owners have made so far.

During his 81 games in charge, he has won 45, drawn 21 and lost 15 and delivered the National League Title.

More good times could still roll in yet before the O’s return from their summer break to prepare for life back in League Two.

They can seal the non-league double in the FA Trophy final against AFC Fylde on Sunday, May 19.

But after all the turmoil, the instability, the battles, the fights, the protests and the campaigns, Leyton Orient are back.