The 2013/14 season will certainly live long in the hearts and minds of all Bees fans. Mark Warburton and Uwe Rosler’s squad made what had been little more than a dream in years gone by into a beautiful reality.
But, in order to fully comprehend what this group has done, I feel it is necessary to look back to what has gone before.
The 97/98 season for example, it came on the heels of another play off disappointment (none of that this time), big things were expected despite a change in personnel, sadly three managers and a string of poor performances meant we were relegated on the last day of the season with a draw away at Bristol Rovers.
This is particularly poignant personally, as not only was it my first full season supporting the Bees, having been introduced by a school friend in mid 96/97, but I made four appearances as a 12 year old mascot (dwarfing most referees in the process) a pair of 1-1 draws at Burnley and Oldham, a 4-0 loss at Wigan and a 2-1 win at Blackpool.
That was it, I was hooked.
Ever since that season it had been fairly harrowing as a Manchester based Brentford fan surrounded by United, City (and Oldham) supporters. Seasons of mid table obscurity, LDV Vans Trophy, JPT and a Play-Off final defeat. With another relegation thrown in for good measure.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom with a League Two Championship, alas that was as good as it got in TW8, that is until 2011/12 when everything changed with the arrival of a certain German manager.
For those of you who have lived under a rock for three years the man in question, one Uwe Rosler, brought a new footballing philosophy to that of my previous 14 seasons, gone was the hopeful, hopeless long ball game and tactical ineptitude, in came slick passing, flowing football and the characteristic ruthless German efficiency.
In Uwe’s first season he guided his team to a respectable 8th place finish. 2012/13 promised, and so very nearly, delivered so much more (we all know what happened so for the sake of avoiding repeating myself I’ll leave it at that),
Now the history lesson is over and context is in place, I return to the point of writing this piece in the first place, which is to laud what has to be the most incredible season in my time as a Bee.
A shaky start saw the vocal minority begin to question Uwe for reasons best known to someone else. Then came Stevenage away, a game which some forget we actually went 1-0 up in for all of 30 seconds, before Dave Button had a rush of blood and tried to be Johan Cruyff, but ended up looking like a reject from Crufts, by gifting the home side an equaliser – which was swiftly followed by a winner to heap ‘pressure’ on Uwe and his squad.
Whatever was said in the changing room for an hour afterwards had the desired effect, as what followed was nothing short of a sensation. A stunning 19 games without defeat in the league, a run which wasn’t even affected by Herr Rosler being poached by Wigan shortly after a 1-0 win at Notts County. To their credit, the club (Benham) wasted no time and promoted Mark Warburton to manager from Sporting Director.
On a personal note my first game with Warby at the helm, Preston away, will live long in my memory as one of the best days spent at a football ground, before a ball was kicked I knew it was going to be a day to remember following a chance meeting with the Bees Player commentary team, including one Natalie Sawyer, who I’d been in contact with (stalking more like – Ed) several times via Twitter but had never been fortunate enough to meet.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement and delight for one day, the Bees promptly despatched of PNE emphatically by recording a thumping 3-0 win.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but something should have told me that it was going to be our season after a day like that.
Unbeaten in the first 12 games of the Reign of The Bread Man, BFC found themselves rocketing up the league at a rate of knots… all the way up to third. Unfortunately nobody had told league leaders Wolves we were invincible as they dished out a 3-0 defeat at GP in a rare home set back.
That defeat proved nothing more than a blip as another unbeaten sequence was embarked upon, the highlight of which was undoubtedly the 1-0 win at Orient, which saw us leapfrog them on the telly courtesy of a stunning strike from Marcello Trotta, which also saw players, fans and management staff alike ‘Celebrate Like They’d Won The FA Cup’ (trademark Russell Slade).
As is the case during any season, there’s going to be hiccups along the way, however, only Rotherham and Swindon have managed to beat us since the Wolves game.
Prior to kick off against Preston on Good Friday the scenario to that would see the job done, and promotion achieved, looked unlikely. Sure, we all thought Wolves would beat Rotherham, and given our game with Preston was being played at Fortress Griffin Park we thought we had enough to do our part, but Crawley?! They couldn’t beat Orient surely?!
As if to prove us all wrong Crawley took the lead albeit briefly before the almost inevitable Orient equaliser shortly before half time, it looked as if we’d need something at MK Dons or Wolves to beat Orient on Easter Monday to go up.
News of a second Crawley goal, coupled with Wolves comfortably 3-1 up, had me shouting at the TV for referees to blow their whistles half an hour early in between biting my nails and taking up a position on the edge of my seat.
With time running out and all the connotations going our way Rotherham pulled it back to 3-2, briefly before Wolves went 4-2 up, as if we didn’t already know its not over ’til its over, which was proven when Rotherham produced two quick fire goals of their own to level up at 4-4 in the 90th minute.
The Bees had beaten Preston and Crawley unbelievably had held off Orient, all we needed was the whistle to blow at Molineux and we were up.
Those football Gods have a sick sense of humour as stoppage time, coupled with the game kicking off 10 minutes late, meant an anxious 15 to 20 minutes that felt like hours in the company of Tony Cottee as the game still hadn’t finished at Wolves.
Kenny Jacket’s team then went 5-4 up but it still wasn’t over. Sky Sports News cut to scenes of Bees on the pitch in a mixture of celebration, hope and anguish before the instantly classic exchange:
Julian Warren: There’s Been a 10th goal at Molleneux….
Tony Cottee: 6-4 WOLVES……
In this incredible moment 17 years personally, and 21 for the Club languishing in the bottom two divisions, was all over. The squad and club had done it, and in style. Three games to spare, 90 points, 27 wins both club records.
BRENTFORD FOOTBALL CLUB WILL BE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOR 2014/15.
Just think what it means, no JPT, no ridiculously long trips to Carlisle and the likes and entering the FA Cup in the 3rd round.
Instead we’ve got Bolton, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn and international breaks…
#BEELIEVE THAT BEELIEVE IN THE BEES