Long-term Beesotted contributor and journalist, Jim Levack, expresses his concerns about the reaction some fans gave to Dean Smith’s second half substitution of Romaine Sawyers yesterday. Although these are Jim’s personal opinions, these thoughts were echoed by other Bees in the post-match Pride of West London podcast, which can be heard by clicking the link below.
It should have been a day of celebration where we rejoiced in Brentford’s rich heritage with some of the stars of yesteryear before taking another three points towards cementing our Championship status for another season.
Instead, we were left with a nostalgic reminder of former players and a rather sour taste in our mouths… and not because of the result.
It mattered not that Brentford lost to a Barnsley side that, on paper at least, they would have despatched comfortably if they’d got anywhere near their usual energy level and tempo.
I’m not that concerned by the defeat because Barnsley were probably worthy of the win and Brentford simply had “one of those days” when nothing quite clicked. That’s football and the harder you try to resolve it, the harder it gets.
But it was the reaction of a small section of Brentford supporters’ who cheered the substitution of Romaine Sawyers that ruined my day.
Sawyers didn’t have his best game – few apart from Yennaris and Clarke did – but in the absence of last year’s scapegoat Harlee Dean, the former Walsall man bore the brunt.
The cheers for Dean Smith’s change might as well have been boos for Sawyers, who, to my mind, never ever gives less than 100% despite the perceptions created by his languid style.
Just as with John Swift last season, a small bunch of empty vessels decided to make the most noise to the detriment of a quality young footballer finding his way in he game.
So when Brentford tried to sign Swift – let’s not forget he’s an England Under 21 – he, probably understandably, didn’t want to know. Swift had been a silly boy with an ill-advised tweet, but he was young and naïve. Sawyers’ only crime is to not be playing at full tilt within a dozen or so Championship games.
By his own admission he’s finding it tough to make the step up, but remember Brentford’s squad is pretty thin and he has been thrown in at the deep end, so it’s very much sink or swim. Mostly he’s swum fluently, so when he flounders slightly, it’s baffling that some of his own fans want to push his head back under.
For what it’s worth I think Sawyers is a quality signing. Big, strong and intelligent he reminds me of a player who also got stick back in the early 90s.
Many never saw the point of Ian Benjamin, one of Dave Webb’s signings, but his ability to hold the ball up, bring other players into the game and weigh in with the odd goal made him one of the first on the team-sheet.
I can recall at least three incisive forward passes yesterday where Sawyers’ tried to carve open the Barnsley defence. They were inches away from coming off. If they had, he’d have been hailed a hero and those same morons would have booed Smith for taking him off.
By May, Sawyers will be regarded as a mainstay of this team. Still only 24, he has a lot to learn about the Championship, but he’s intelligent enough on and off the field to be a quick learner.
But the handful of idiots who berated him risk destroying the close bonds created between fans and players during the recent treks to Newcastle and Derby.
I saw enough people around me incensed by the cheering to know that we are the majority. I hope Romaine realises that too.