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Twenty eight years ago, Brentford played then 2nd division Manchester City on a grey, rainy day in the FA Cup 4th round at Griffin Park. With Gary Blissett scoring two goals and Keith Jones scoring one, the day became one of the top 5 most momentous games in Brentford’s history as the Bees ran out 3-1 winners.

With Brentford B taking on a Manchester City U23s on Monday 15th May at 7pm at Griffin Park (free entry), we though we would take a few minutes to reminisce on that famous (in West London anyway) cup win.

Ian Westbrook (@ianwestbrook)
The Andy Sinton turn and an actual FA Cup giant-killing are my main memories of our famous win over Manchester City.

The part of the game which has stuck in my memory the most was a turn by Andy Sinton on the halfway line on the New Road side of the ground which left a City defender for dead and helped set up our decisive third goal.

The ball came out of defence to Sinton and in one swivel of the hips he completely wrong-footed his opponent and created the five-yard advantage he needed to power into the City half.

Eventually he played the ball to Roger Stanislaus and, after City failed to clear the left-back’s cross, Gary Blissett pounced to put us 3-1 up.

The other thing about the day was that we had actually beaten a big-name team in the FA Cup.

I started supporting the Bees in 1971 and had only seen us get to the third round three times before this 1988/89 season.

We had lost each time so I’d never seen an FA Cup giant-killing – and even though City were in the Second Division at the time we played them, it was good enough for me!

Dave Lane (@beesotted100)

The Manchester City cup ties was. quite literally, the first time I’d seen my team win an important game! More than 10 years after my first ever Bees game I’d only seen us not even go close, having missed the League Cup win against Swansea at The Vetch, so to see Brentford rise to the occasion and register a much deserved win against illustrious City was magical. I won’t ever forget the atmosphere inside Griffin Park that day, we all knew what we were about to witness and Steve Perryman’s side certainly didn’t let us down

Nick Bruzon (@nickbruzon)

The kids today don’t know they’re born. Games against top tier opposition seem to come around every five minutes. Not back in the 80s when the Bees were nothing more than a mid-table division three outfit. Albeit one with an exciting young manager in Steve Perryman. Albeit one with genuine potential to finally break free of this accursed division that had for so long been our home. Albeit one packed full of terrace favourites such as man mountain Terry Evans, future England international Andy Sinton, Allan Cockram (imagine the bastard love child of Sam Saunders and Jota) and of course the goal machine up top that was Gary Blissett. 

So when the chance to pit ourselves against Manchester City in the FA Cup fourth round came about, it was one which was about as rare for us back then as a Griffin Park promotion push. Moreso, given our own start in the first round of the tournament meant that a real feeling of already having been on a significant cup run was growing. Halesowen, Peterborough and Walsall had been despatched by the time this one came around. 

Chuck in the fact too that the FA Cup meant something. To everybody. Squad rotation and resting players was a concept that was as alien to us watching then as a Keith Stroud game with no bookings is now. Plus, of course, there was the Blissett factor. Being a true blue Manchester City fan from birth, the press were loving that bit of Cup romance and the chance that Bliss – somebody who had stood on the Maine Road terraces from the age of 8 years old – might turn out to be the architect of their doom.

So come kick off, it would be fair to say that anticipation was at fever pitch in Griffin Park. Scratch that. Come 1pm it was at that level. The ground was packed to the rafters two hours before kick-off and taking my own customary spot leaning on the mangers’ concrete dugout in front of the terraced Braemar Road paddock required more than a few pointy elbows. It wasn’t just us.

Manchester City fans had packed out the away end on the open Ealing Road and round into the first part of New Road. Their craze of bringing Inflatables (bananas) showed no sign of abating and would even lead to our own ‘funky Bee’ equivalents later in the season. It was fair to say the scene was set for magic.

And what magic. The pitch was more a hybrid of sand and quagmire than any form of grass but the Bees played the conditions and rain to their advantage. Ten minutes on the clock and the place erupted when who else but Gary Blissett stabbed home for 1-0. It was a lead that was never in doubt over the opening period and the second goal just before half time, fired home from the edge of the box and through the quicksand by skipper Keith Jones, was no more than the Bees deserved.

Back out and, with the proverbial riot act presumably having been read to City, they cranked it up a bit. They even pulled one back, the air turning into a temporary see of flying bananas. But from bursting with pride they were soon deflating with the inevitable.

Great work down the New Road by Sinton saw the ball pinged into and around the box before man of the moment Blissett was on hand to poke it home again. 3-1 !!! This was really happening. Oh, the noise. The beautiful noise.

Peter Gilham on ‘man-with-the-mic duties’ could barely be heard and, for once, it wasn’t the fault of Griffin Park’s antiquated P.A. system. Had Siracusa been sponsoring our goals, one can only imagine the speech he would have given at that point. Menu choices being reeled out alongside the now customary “It’s a little Italian Restaurant. At Brentford lock’

And that was it. City’s attacking intent had been snuffed out. Save for one fan who, unable to contain his frustration any longer, leapt onto the pitch, failing blindly with his blow up banana. He was promptly bundled off.

City were bundled out. Of the cup, that is. Brentford were through to the fifth round and even greater adventures. But that’s another story…. 

Sean O’Sullivan

I remember the match well and the deflated inflatable bananas after the third goal went in.

Alex Paul 

I was there. The City ‘fans’ invaded the pitch in a vain attempt to get the game abandoned. That didn’t work so they decided to ‘give it large’ and we Bees fans just stood there laughing them. They sullenly slinked off. Great day and the best Brentford team until….well, now really

Check Brentford midfielder Reece Cole on the Pride of West London Podcast this week chatting about the upcoming Man City match plus more

Billy Grant (@BillytheBee99)

I have to admit the day was a bit of a blur. We had beaten Walsall in the previous round and drew top guns Manchester City – which was a HUGE deal back in those days. Our previous big matches in that era had seen us lost to Liverpool in the Milk Cup over both legs after beating Division 1 Swansea at The Vetch Field – a match that I was unable to go to. So this match was important. 

For the generation of Bees – many of who were travelling home and away every week to see Brentford finish mid table – this cup run was a bolt out of the blue. And was the most exciting thing to happen in their football-supporting lifetime so far.  I remember inviting my then flat mate Bella to her first ever football match. She was introduced to the tradition of pre-match drinking in the New Inn before the match. By the time we got into the stadium, the atmosphere was electric. We stood on the New Road – nearest the Man City fans who were getting soaked in the Ealing Road as in those days the end had no stand. 

It was the era of the inflatable. And Man City fans bought inflatable bananas. Thousands of them. In honour of player Imre Varade (who’ name sounds nothing like banana). I happened to see two Varade bananas at the Woman’s FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday – won by Manchester City Women. 

Back to 1989. Gary Blissett scored. Twice. Mayhem. Our crew cracked open their cans of red wine (classy) and cigars on the terraces – a left field FA Cup tradition for that season – in celebration. Man City fans invaded the pitch and hit someone on the head with an inflatable banana. He got nicked I think. 

We went up the players bar after the match with Steve Perryman and the whole team and had a jolly good evening. Bella left me to enjoy my evening and – although she said had a great day – never came back to another Bees match after that. Christ knows how and what time our crew got home that night. But we didn’t really care.

Jim Levack (@Jimblee1)

As we edge ever closer to our new future at Lionel Road, supporters will inevitably grow increasingly more nostalgic for the past.

Those magical and miserable moments we’ve witnessed at Griffin Park that are indelibly etched in our memories.

Like the 35 yard screamer that introduced one of my all time favourite Bees Terry Hurlock to us, the evening rout of Newport that took us to Wembley and yes, that penalty.

But right up there has to be that last 16 win over runaway Division Two leaders Manchester City.

I was in my mid-20s at the time so my last proper recollection of anything resembling cup magic was when we went to the then formidable Hull City in 1971 and got edged out 2-1 despite a gallant effort. 

Brentford were also quite good at that… going close in the Cup but never quite being good enough to make the next round.

The 1989 game would change all that though. 

This time there was en edge to things. In the build up newspaper stories revelled in the fairytale angle that Gary Blissett was a City fan and the day itself added another dimension that must have left the travelling City faithful with a sinking feeling from the off.

The pitch was an absolute quagmire and would, probably, have been declared close to unplayable today. But it was the perfect leveller for Brentford in front of a baying and partisan 12,100 crowd.

My memories of the game were spartan, except the goals – which is always how I tend to file things football-wise, unless you count that Tony Craig one versus three piece of brilliance against I’m not sure who a few years ago.

It started with a mis-hit from another of my favourite players, Keith Jones. I remember groaning behind the goal as he air-kicked a half clearance from one of City’s big name players only to make amends by drilling his second effort into the bottom corner.

City dug in, but for the first time in a Cup game in my memory Brentford looked up for it and when – I think -‘Tricky’ Richard Cadette, incidentally another hero, whipped in a low cross for Bliss to steer home at the near post, even the most cynical around me (and I’m quite cynical) started to believe an upset might be on the cards.

It wouldn’t be Brentford if we didn’t give the opposition hope so at 2-1 the game was in the balance until Blissett scored arguably one of the greatest goals I’ve ever seen on the hallowed turf to seal the deal.

Okay, it wasn’t the greatest goal ever. He pretty much bundled it through the mud and over the line, but for a 20 something lad starved of headlines for his club it was massive and meant I could walk into work with a smile knowing the football world had been made to sit up and take notice.

For me, the final game at our marvellous old stadium will be a time of great sadness, but no one can ever take memories like that day away from any of us.

And, as you’ll have noticed, many of the memories will centre on my favourites, names like Hurlock, Phillips, Cross, McCulloch, Allder… and of course Gary Blissett.

 Brentford B take on a Manchester City U23s on Monday 15th May at 7pm at Griffin Park. Entry is free