I’ve just scanned the front cover of Beesotted 49 to use in the Big Brentford Book of the Nineties and, after doing so, got lost for a while flicking through the pages of the 16-year-old edition and reading some of the articles. This one really made me laugh, then grimace at the irony of Andy Cooper’s words. A great article – one that is sadly as true today as it was back then.

Three weeks ago I had a job interview. An interview for a job I was actually quite interested in, rather than just being a way out of the harrowingly dull, underachieving job I have at the moment. I have by me now the letter that arrived today, which will tell me whether or not I have been successful. Hmm, it looks rather thin.

You might be wondering what relevance this has to Brentford. Well, a week or so prior to the interview I was in the pub with my friend Ian, a Bristol Rovers fan. Now, whenever you fill out an application form these days there is always the equal opportunities blurb on it. How nobody will be discriminated against on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, etc. We were discussing whether ‘football team supported’ should be added to the list. After all, it seems to me that if you are a prospective employer, you can tell a lot about somebody from his or her football allegiance.

For example, if you are one of the Armchair Alan glory boys who endlessly harps on about Manchester United until they get a bad result and then goes strangely quiet, only to pop back up next time they win, surely this demonstrates a certain shallowness and slackness that may carry through to the work-place? Our theory developed to the stage where we decided that if we were employers, it would be mandatory to declare what football team you supported on your application form. Needless to say candidates who didn’t like football need not apply.

In view of all this, I was rather shocked when, at my job interview, the first question I was asked was; “Which football team do you support?” I naturally replied “Brentford”, which prompted some raised eyebrows before the interviewer explained he was a Middlesbrough fan and had a lot of time for people who supported their local teams. “Excellent!” I thought, maybe there is something to be said for pub theories after all. Surely supporting Brentford demonstrates the ability to find value in things that most people can’t see. Perhaps it shows a person can work long and hard with no thanks or little reward, it paints a picture of somebody who can handle disappointment time and time again, but still remain dedicated. An individual who shows loyalty, somebody who tries to stay optimistic and will encourage even when the best resources may not be available. Someone who is patient, someone who has a sense of humour – in fact, all the attributes that an employer would be looking for. Brentford eh? Couldn’t have failed to impress!!!

And then it struck me! What if supporting Brentford was interpreted differently? The person obviously settles for mediocrity, they have no ambition what-so-ever and, on the occasions that success is within grasp, they will fail to apply themselves and will not make that little extra effort or sacrifice to ensure that they achieve what is expected of them. They will fail to listen to people who genuinely want to help them progress their career. They will alienate these people by failing to communicate their plans, if indeed they have any. Their telephone manner when dealing with customers is atrocious. They will give the best part of the office to visitors and competitors to use, at the same time spreading the most dedicated employees around the building so they cannot pool their enthusiasm to motivate others or to boost the business. They will be liable to sell the company assets for a fraction of their market value and, when the office is crying out for a new photocopier to replace the efficient and reliable copier that was got rid of simply because it required a bit more toner, they will seek to bring in a new photocopier on the cheep that is untested, or a second hand reserve copier that another company didn’t want any more.

Suddenly I wasn’t as confident about my chances. Perhaps I was reading a little too much into it? Anyway, here’s the envelope, let’s find out… Just open it… “Dear Mr. Cooper…” … BUGGER!!!!

Andy Cooper

Have you had a similar experience at an interview? Have you ever been asked what team you supported? Share your tale by adding a comment below.