Beesotted finishes our serialisation of the story of  Brentford fan Martin Pither’s twenty year search for love via football:

You can read Part One here and Part Two here

Taking the Pith –  Part Three – New Grounds…

I was a regular visitor to Manchester and I managed to meet some nice ladies in posh Wilmslow – one kindly provided the accommodation I needed so that I could visit Old Trafford for a European night game. I am always amazed when you visit these big clubs and am quite envious of their support. It is just a swarm of humanity; I really hope to see this at our new ground in Lionel Road

One summer I went to Cyprus with a Gillingham fan and met two lovely ladies from Barcelona, one of whom loved football – Espanyol were her team and she invited me to watch a game with her.

Maybe it was the holiday spirit and drink but when we met up in Spain I did not realise her English was so bad – it was going to be a long weekend. At the time, Espanyol were playing at the run down Olympic stadium. Watching the game there was like watching a game in Gunnersbury Park from the New Road – the action was miles away. All her family supported the team and there were 20 at the match and me! I tried to fit in and I bought a blue scarf. There was a bit of noise and colourful flags but a small club in a big stadium does not help the atmosphere.

Back home there were new clubs entering the League and new grounds were being built. I had to maintain my status in the 92 club, so it was time to sit down at start planning some trips. I also joined match.com and started speaking to lovely ladies all over the country.

I had to register as a fan to get tickets for Man City, Cardiff and Hull…. To get a ticket for Hull City I had to register as a Fulham fan – a low point in my life. A lady friend had a daughter at Hull University and she wanted to visit her – it was great opportunity to combine a trip as Fulham were playing there and with their tiny away support I could easily get a ticket. Hull has no segregation and for the full 90 minutes a 10 year old shouted abuse at me. I just hope he saw the score when we beat them in the League cup a few a couple of years back.

At this time I had a lot of time off and my finances had improved. I was wondering what to do when my horse racing loving dad suggested going to Plumpton racecourse on a Monday. We had a special father and son days and so, never to do things by halves, I started going to all the 60 racecourses in Britain, which I completed in Ayr, Scotland last year.

So now I thought I could combine ladies, football and racecourses. I had a bizarre weekend in Swansea meeting a kind lady. The real purpose of the trip was to see Swansea’s new ground and get a lift to Ffos Las racecourse. She was nice but not nice enough to go back and she was not invited to a mid-week game at Cardiff’s new ground…she must have been gutted!

After driving to Accrington and the game being cancelled at the last minute (the pitch looked ok to me and better than the one I used to play on in Old Deer Park) I had decided to attend the Tuesday night rearranged game. My only challenge was I had dates in Norwich, Norfolk and Birmingham to arrange.

So I decided to get to Accrington via Norwich and Birmingham and then straight home, which was a 1200-mile round trip. That week the weather was bad with heavy snow in Birmingham so I was worried about the game. Despite near blizzard conditions during the game, I was grateful to Jordan Rhodes, who scored a great goal in the last minute to make the journey home that much easier.

Match.com was great but I could find any Brentford fans on it. Nearest I came was someone who had been out with a radio commentator who had covered a couple of Bees’ games. I dated women across the length and breadth of England but I can’t say any of them knew about Brentford FC so the conversation was always going to be difficult… I thought about writing a book called “thanks for a lovely evening” because that is text I received after every date…….

Just as I was tempted to pack things in a lady from Gravesend in Kent came to watch the Bees for a midweek night game – am impressive act! Things went well and we are now married and Brentford has a new fan. My wife loves the hospitality at Brentford FC but not the ageing facilities, particularly in the New Road.

In my thirst to maintain the 92 with clubs joining the league or moving to new stadia, we’ve been able to share some of the following:

  • The two desperately disappointing defeats at Wembley
  • A charming weekend watching Morecambe FC at their impressive new ground
  • Cold and bleak Gillingham FC
  • A romantic, lovely weekend watching the Bees in Bournemouth, despite the bad result
  • A day out in Brighton to see a fantastic new stadium and to walk around the lanes
  • Lovely day by the sea in Southend with 1400 Bees supporting the boys in the FA cup

The new grounds around the country are amazing and the pre-match facilities so good. I will leave Griffin Park with a heavy heart but we need a top-ground with no pillars!

I salute Mr Benham for helping with this dream and restoring my pride in the club. I have visited many of the big clubs but Brentford is my team and I promote them all over the world (I’ve been to 72 countries….)

I cannot wait to have two season tickets in a lovely modern stadium sitting with a beautiful wife watching my beloved Brentford FC. Maybe asking if it was possible to find someone to share my love of The Bees was not too much to ask after all – it has turned out fine in the end, shame it took 20 years!

Martin Pither