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7879mcnicholerniemuttitt072I remember vividly the day we signed Jim McNichol (pictured left)… I walked from the bus stop after school and as I threw down my Gola bag in the hall, my old man broke the news.

We’d paid Luton Town £33,000 for the big centre back with the eyebrows to match, and in the six years that followed he went on to become one of my all time heroes.

His thunderbolt free kick was, still is, the stuff of legend, accompanied as it was each time by the fairly unimaginative chorus of Jeemmay, Jeemmay.

I’m pretty certain his blunderbuss approach wouldn’t have cut it with new set piece coach Gianni Vio, but then neither would his stats.

He didn’t actually score that many free kicks, his place in folklore probably based on one or two unforgettable strikes rather than any consistency in making the net bulge.

Anyway I digress. The point I wanted to make was that back in 1978, the £33,000 was a massive deal – just as the big bucks we spent on Herman Hreidarsson got the pre-season adrenalin pumping.

So when a colleague piped up “you’ve just spent around £2.1 million on an established Danish international” and a week or so later we hand a Chelsea starlet a four year deal in a reported £750,000 coup, you might expect the average Bees fan to be punching the air.

Yes, the three of us Bees in the house were pleased and excited as we checked the stats on Soccerbase, but the fact that there was no mild disbelief or delirium shows just how far we have come as a club.

The fact that we can attract players of such calibre and pedigree is testimony to the incredible achievements of last season and the foundation seasons before it.

Anyone who has ever risked their relationship by playing Championship Manager through the night will know that class acts like McEachran don’t join any old flash in the pan outfit.

Fact is every aspect of the club, from set piece coach to the rest of the backroom staff, have been quickly embedded into the set up so that even the most cynical of players can see they will benefit from an extra 5% to the their game.

The best part for me though is that despite all the changes, Matthew Benham appears to have managed to bring in characters who reflect ‘the Brentford way’.

Seeing Marinus Dijkhausen and Roy Hendriksen give a, frankly appalling, rendition of The Whole World in their Hands suggests there are no egos there – a feeling underlined by the boss’s willingness to answer some equally dreadful tongue in cheek questions from the Beesotted boys.

Now it’s getting nearer I’m looking forward to seeing how the new boys fare, in particular Ryan Williams who epitomises the statistics-led policy – oh, and the new striker, when he arrives.

But I can honestly say that only a £4 million centre forward would shock me now… that’s how far we’ve come, not just since 1978 but since 2012.

Jim Levack