On a rare night off from reporting Brentford for the Press Association, Jim Levack looks back at a monumental evening at Griffin Park.
The secret is out… harmless little Brentford, a side from the backwaters of London football, are waking from eight decades of slumber.
The fact that last night’s game was televised will, if the reports I’ve read in today’s nationals, have broadcast that fact to the football-loving nation.
Prior to last night Mark Warburton’s men were enjoying a first season bounce, running on adrenalin and a bit of luck.
We, of course, know different. We are aware that this is a team in the truest sense of the word that works to a simple yet effective system that also encompasses freedom of expression.
Lined up against Fulham’s World Cup names – the likes of Ruiz and Rodallega – the neutrals probably gave the Bees only a faint chance of a win.
The events of last night were magnificent, historic, breathtaking, whatever adjective you care to use. But still another three points.
The win meant a lot against a side that bought its way to the Premiership as their fans forgot their roots. Brentford will never lose theirs.
“Simply put, Warburton’s side were superb. They buzzed, pressed and provided real moments of quality to suggest they are at home in the top six.” – Jack Gaughan, Mail Online *
For me, though, last night’s game epitomised in 93 minutes what this new Brentford squad is all about and, in a way, encapsulated the season so far.
Two substitutes joining the fray late on to play pivotal match-winning roles in the outcome.
A defender reportedly dejected at not being included a month or so ago scoring a technically brilliant striker’s goal for the equaliser.
The same defender learning that a misplaced pass can spell disaster at this level, but having the guile, contained rage and desire to put it right.
A midfielder rumoured to be on his way out on loan in the summer looking like Brentford’s answer to Yaya Toure in the heart of midfield for the fourth game on the spin.
Mark Warburton’s post match pressers constantly feature the mantras “Squad game, tight margins, clinical finishing” – never were they more relevant than in this game.
Freed from the demands of reporting for Press Association last night I was also able to pick up on nuances of the game’s mechanics to watch body language, look at the benches reactions. Small things that you miss with a notebook in hand.
* “These have been long, tortuous years for the Bees and Friday night under the lights felt very much like the outpouring of 16 seasons of frustration.”
One thing I didn’t miss, midway through the second half, was a response from the Griffin Park crowd I haven’t heard in more than 40 years of watching the Bees and never ever thought I would.
Maybe I was imaging this – so it would be good if anyone who has read this far could confirm it for me – but it came when Harlee Dean hoofed a ball high in to the TW8 night.
His agricultural clearance was greeted not by a groan but by a collective gasp of shock or incredulity from the home supporters. “How could this happen?” “A hoofed clearance – surely not”.
That reaction, in a millisecond, summed up for me just how far we have come under Mark Warburton and his squad of players.
Where once such a ball out of defence would bring a mass groan to be followed by another wave of attack against us, Brentford fans now marvel at the tight triangles this squad use to turn defence into attack. Fast.
We have players capable of bringing a 40-yard crossfield ball down with the outside of their foot or wrestling a giant defender twice their size off the ball, but they are, above all, a team and that is where they have the edge over many sides in the Championship.
Bees fans will wake up looking at the league table wondering if it’s as much a dream as the Trotta penalty was a nightmare, but they – we – are a realistic bunch with sensible expectations and that too is good for this squad.
It was strange last night but I actually told a friend that we’d score 30 seconds before the equaliser and fancies us even more with the momentum that gave us… but had we lost I’d have still gone home happy after a performance like that.
I berated Stan Collymore on Twitter last week for flagging up the achievements of every Championship side except Brentford on his radio phone-in.
He’ll be noticing us now, but here’s a plea Stan – keep ignoring us mate.