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A letter to Mr Brentford, Peter Gilham from the Rev. Peter Crumpler

Dear Peter,

You don’t know me… but I’m just one of the thousands of Bees fans who was delighted that you were honoured in the New Year’s awards this week (And I’m also a Church of England vicar).

Your British Empire Medal is so richly deserved and, if anything, long overdue. A knighthood would have been even better.

You have been the face and voice of Brentford FC for so many years – and have brought so much joy to fans. You have encouraged us to cheer on the team week after week for half a century.

The players may change, managers come and go, and the Club has changed ownerships in that time…but you have been a reassuring constant down through those years.

You were there for all the big matches, and the routine ones as well. You were there for that last poignant fixture at Griffin Park with a full crowd – and for the first fantastic one at the new stadium.

There’s only one Peter Gilham.

As one fan put it, “Peter is the epitome of everything that is Brentford, and everything that Brentford stands for.”

Beyond all this, it’s been your humanity, Peter – as well as your sense of humour – that’s always impressed me.

As we began that last season at Griffin Park, you asked fans for their memories of the ground that we all loved so much.

Not just about the highs and lows of promotions and relegations, cup wins and losses, but about the people who had been with them as they watched Brentford play over the years, loved ones who have died or moved away.

Because football grounds, like churches and cathedrals, are places of family, of community. Places where three generations, or more, can come together for a shared experience that transcends any other difference they have.

The son whose father introduced him to the noisy enthusiastic terraces at Griffin Park decades ago now brings his own son or daughter to matches. Grandads bring their grand-daughters. Deep, life-long friendships are forged in the stands. Already, massive memories are being made at the GTech.

When I produced a prayer for Griffin Park as we prepared to leave the treasured place behind, I wrote about “those who watch from a distant terrace.” That touched many people and prompted deep memories.

So thank you, Peter, you truly epitomise the family and community spirit of Brentford FC. Long may you wield the microphone and stay in our hearts!

Rev. Peter Crumpler