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In his first article for Beesotted, Cairen Burnell reminisces on how Brentford brought his family together

Born in Ealing and bred in Northampton after a family move in 1997, my only memories of living in the big smoke are heading down to Griffin Park as a child. My first ever game was a memorable 4-2 win over Rotherham in 96/97 as it was not only a great victory but it was also my 7th birthday and I was participating in a Brentford junior training session before kick-off. As we were top the old division two, Sky Sports News came down and showed me scoring the winning goal in addition to interviews with my Dad, David Webb and Carl Asaba. As many will re-call we went on to ‘do a Brentford init’ and missed out on automatic promotion with a customary loss in the play-off final to Crewe.

After the move up north we tried to attend as many games as possible. However, due to new beginnings along with becoming a glory hunting Liverpool fan due to liking Michael Owen, my attendance dwindled season on season. Years passed and whilst I went Wembley for the Carlisle match in 2011 I felt like a bit of a bandwagoner attending only local games against the likes of Northampton, Franchise FC aka MK Dons and Peterborough. I took a comfortable armchair fan stance and when asked what team I supported my response would be ‘I quite like Brentford but I’m a football fan in general’.

In early 2013, contact with my Bees-supporting Uncle in Manchester, increased and attending games became more frequent. I remember the long trip to Hartlepool for the 1-1 draw before the dreaded Doncaster day. However, it was the play-off final where I had my Brentford epiphany. I was in the Green Man nice and early and the atmosphere was building. I remember the day well. It was the 19th May as this happened to be my Mother’s birthday. Despite this, more family members than usual had attended the game. I remember an overwhelming feeling of togetherness in the pub garden. I accidentally knocked a pint out of a fellow fans hand and, braced for a confrontation, his response was “No worries fella. Up the Bees”. I looked around and saw a woman painting the kids’ faces. BBQ was in full swing and fans were in good voice. Whilst five pints and a few shots from the lovely bar staff dressed in Bees tops was affecting my thoughts, I remember being in high spirits. There was a feeling of community and a sense of great pride that this was my club. I felt like a Bee reborn.

Red and white was everywhere and we flowed in unison through the turnstiles and I sang my heart out for my club. Despite the result, the atmosphere and the passion I felt that day along with feeling of togetherness with my family left me wanting more. Through the summer I couldn’t wait for the fixtures to be released, I had regained that buzz I felt as a 6 year old boy holding my Dad’s hand walking down Braemar road. I was hooked again.

I have parental responsibilities now with a beautiful 3 year old boy called Aidan but I managed to attend a fair amount of home games this year along with trips to Tranmere, Coventry, Bristol, Wolves, Walsall and Franchise FC aka MK Dons. Through social media I have meet a lot of Bees I would now consider friends and I am looking forward to hooking up with the Northampton BIAS lot next year following the Bees up and down the country.

Brentford has certainly brought my family closer again and I can’t wait to introduce the next generation when I take my lad down. A club run by people with the club’s best interest at heart and a new stadium on the horizon. A club with an exciting future, an expanding fan base and a dream of one day being a Premier League club. Be it Premier league or Ryman league, I know I’ll bleed the red of Brentford for what it has done for me and my family.

Up the Bees

Cairen Burnell