Welcome to Beesotted Reloaded – a series of podcasts, YouTube videos and articles where we take a look back on the most exciting, unusual and memorable periods in Brentford Football Club history.
In this three-episode series of Beesotted Reloaded, Brentford legend Allan Cockram joins us to look back to the year 1988, when Third Division club Brentford FC were set to embark on their most exciting cup run in over half a century.
It was the season that Brentford reached the final eight of the prestigious FA Cup and were only ninety minutes away from a historic semi-final at Hillsborough.
In this series, we listen to the players’… the managers’… and the fans’ memories from that exciting period.
Ex Bees Allan Cockram. Terry Evans. Richard Cadette all feature on this podcast.
Plus we hear from fans Clarkey, Paul Jamison, Gary Smith, Steve Lewis, Gary Scammell, Greville Waterman, Monty, Blondie and Colin the South Coast Bee in this episode.
You can catch the article for Rounds 4 & 5 (Man City and Blackburn) here 👉🏼👉🏾 https://beesotted.com/beesotted-reloaded-brentfords-fa-cup-88-89-cup-run-part-2-man-city-blackburn-rounds-4-5/
And you can catch the article for the Quarter Final (Liverpool) here 👉🏼👉🏾 https://beesotted.com/liverpool-v-brentford-fa-cup-quarter-final-beesotted-reloaded-featuring-allan-cockram-brentfords-fa-cup-88-89-cup-run-part-3/
This article – by Greville Waterman and Billy Grant – and the accompanying podcast, covers Brentford’s 80’s background and the first three rounds of the 88/89 FA Cup run.
80’s Brentford – The Background
Griffin Park in the mid 80s can best be described as a hive of mediocrity.
After the excitement of 1982/83 when a forward line of Francis Joseph, Tony Mahoney and Gary Roberts supported by the club’s best midfield in 40 years – Chris Kamara, Terry Hurlock and the inimitable Stan Bowles – scored goals for fun (107 in one season).
But The Bees were denied promotion as a woeful defence boasting the likes of Paddy Roche, Graham Wilkins and Alan Whitehead threw them in at the other end.
Nothing really happened apart from a totally unexpected visit to Wembley in the Freight Rover Trophy final in 1985 when a lacklustre Bees team, exhausted by their exploits on an ill-timed post season tour to Corfu, sank without trace and to a vibrant Wigan team on the day.
From 1984/85 to 1987/88, Brentford were bog standard, finishing 13th, 10th, 11thand 12th. The football was dire for the most part with a lack of sustained entertainment and little perceived ambition.
The average attendance at Griffin Park over those four drab seasons tell their own sad story. A high of 5,234 plunged to a pathetic 3,918 in 1986/87.
The club trod water throughout this period and it was not until the 1988/89 season when Chairman Martin Lange, normally so careful and frugal, finally loosened the purse strings.
He allowed manager Steve Perryman, who had added much needed levels of organisation and professionalism to the club, to bring in quality recruits such as Neil Smillie, Richard Cadette, Tony Parks and Simon Ratcliffe adding to shrewd earlier purchases Andy Sinton, Keith Jones and Gary Blissett.
You reap what you sew.
The greater the budget, the better the players a manager can buy.
The more talented and experienced the players, the better the team will probably perform.
The 1988/89 season clearly demonstrated the truth of this maxim and a balanced and skilful Brentford team, packed with talent, finally gelled and after a remarkable, ridiculous and exhausting 63 game season, narrowly missed out on the playoffs and reached the quarter final of the FA Cup.
88/89 Brentford – The Squad
Steve Perryman was appointed as player/manager to replace Frank McLintock. One of his first moves was to bring in his former Spurs teammate Phil Holder as assistant manager.
Steve’s reputation preceded him and according to Bob Booker, the players were in awe of him and his ability. Even at his age, he was still the best player at the club.
Perryman was allowed to make one significant signing before the 1987 transfer deadline. Gary Blissett arrived from Crewe in a bargain £60,000 deal. The Bees were also offered the relatively unknown David Platt but could not afford the fairly small asking fee – anther one who got away.
Perryman cleared out unwanted players in Francis Joseph, who never recovered full fitness after his injury heartbreak, Ian Holloway, Paul Maddy, Jamie Murray and Micky Droy and started the necessary rebuilding process.
He made astute signings in the tough utility player Andy Feeley and Chelsea’s Keith Jones and set about changing the philosophy at the club. He demanded high standards and improved the players technically through fast paced training sessions based upon his pass and move philosophy.
1987/88 as a transitional season and the Bees went on a run of seven wins and one defeat in an eleven-game period with Arsenal loanee Graham Rix inspiring the team.
Otherwise the season was only really memorable for Gary Blissett’s three red cards including one at Craven Cottage after his clash with Fulham keeper Jim Stannard.
New talent was slowly introduced in stocky young attacking fullback Roger Stanislaus as well as attacking midfielder Allan Cockram, rescued from obscurity after scoring 29 goals in 31 games at St Albans City having failed to make the grade at Spurs.
Cockram was second only to Allan Mansley in my overall pantheon of Brentford heroes with his long enviously flowing hair, sinuous dribbling, ability to place a pass on a sixpence and his series of goals from spectacular curling and dipping long range efforts.
Always seeming to play the game with a smile on his face, Cockram was a true crowd-pleaser. I forgave him for being a luxury player and totally ignored his weaknesses such as his inability and total disinclination to track back, tackle and press.
But such prosaic and plebeian duties were beneath a true superhero like him.
The summer of 1988 saw some feverish transfer activity as Lange and Perryman used the transfer market cleverly and wisely. Brentford continued to be a stepping stone club when promising right back Roger Joseph was sold to Wimbledon for £150,000.
And Perryman was allowed to reinvest the proceeds and he took full advantage of his chairman’s largesse by bringing in players of a calibre rarely seen at the club for many years.
A near club record fee of £77,000 was invested in Sheffield United’s Richard Cadette whose mazy close control earned him the sobriquet of “The Wriggler.” He formed a potent partnership with the revitalised Blissett, – producing 32 goals between the pair in all competitions.
Goalkeeper Tony Parks, small but athletic, arrived from Spurs for £60,000 to replace the popular Gary Phillips, who joined Reading. Tricky veteran winger Neil Smillie proved to be a marvellous free transfer signing from the same club and provided sterling service fir five seasons.
£40,000 was even lavished on a current international – Maltese sweeper John Buttigieg – but he was bemused to discover that Brentford would not employ the sweeper system that would have best utilised his silky skills. He was converted into an average right back but soon faded away – a total waste of an exquisite talent.
In January 1989 at a time when it looked as if a promotion push was possible, a record £100,000 was found to sign Norwich midfielder Simon Ratcliffe – the first six-figure fee ever paid by the club.
Ratcliffe was a tough tackling player who could put his foot in as well as pass the ball adequately. His arrival sparked the beginning of the end for the effervescent Cockram who was certainly never a favourite of the far more pragmatic assistant manager, Phil Holder.
The starting eleven were excellent with Parks acrobatic in goal and two dominating centre halves in the fit again colossus, Terry Evans and the excellent Keith Millen, with Jamie Bates able to fill in adequately when needed.
Andy Feeley was a threshing machine – albeit an immobile one – at right back and Roger Stanislaus was a joy to watch at left back. Hard tackling, excellent on the ball and quick to overlap with deadly effect. He was all left foot but looked a potential star in the making.
The midfield was effective and creative with the willing running and tackling of Keith Jones combining well with either Cockram or Ratcliffe.
Neil Smillie and Andy Sinton played as inverted wingers on the right and left flank respectively and they could both go outside to cross the ball or come inside onto their stronger foot and shoot at goal.
Blissett and Cadette combined power and aerial strength on the one hand with pace and trickery on the other and were often too much for static Third Division defences to handle.
Utility forward, Kevin Godfrey and Tony Sealey filled in well when needed up front as did reserve goalkeeper Jeremy Roberts and fullback Graham Pearce.
And Perryman also named himself on the bench from time to time when the game needed slowing down.
Dean Holdsworth also made an excellent impression in a brief loan spell and youngster Marcus Gayle made three appearances as a substitute.
This then was an excellent, strong and balanced squad that really should have won promotion.
But the pressure of too many games in a short period of time told in the end and the demoralising sale of star player Andy Sinton to local rivals QPR just before the transfer deadline, albeit for a record £350,000 fee, was a mortal blow to promotion hopes – particularly as loanee John Purdie proved to be an inadequate replacement.
FA Cup Round 1
Date: Saturday 19thNovember 1988
Opposition: Halesowen Town
Venue: Griffin Park
Result: Brentford 2 Halesowen 0
Goalscorers: Evans (17), Sinton (37)
Hailing from Dudley, Halesowen were a very strong non-league side who had won the FA Vase three times in the early 80s. They had also won the league three seasons in a row seeing them promoted to the Midland division of the Beazer Homes League (Southern League) in the mid 80s.
The 1988/89 season was the fourth time they had reached the 1stround of the FA Cup. But it was the first time they had faced League opposition.
Their most notable player was right back Stuart Cash who signed for top flight Nottingham Forest the following summer. Cash ended up playing 11 games for Brentford on loan from Forest a few seasons later.
Cash ended up as assistant to manager Terry Brown at AFC Wimbledon – helping them win the Isthmian League playoff final, Conference South and promotion to the Football League via the Conference Playoff final
The match was best described as functional with a workman-like performance from the Bees seeing off the Beazer Homes League side.
An Andy Sinton cross on 13 minutes saw Terry Evans head the Bees ahead.
Meanwhile, Andy Sinton scored with a direct free kick in the 37thminute to see The Bees into the hat.
Allan Cockram: “The Hailstones were just another bunch of Northerners. You juust gotta get through it. You know it wasn’t gonna be pretty. Turn up. Work em. Stick it for 90 minuutes. Try and outwork them. And get a result”
Alan Smith: “A non-league side we didn’t know much about. Everyone viewd it as a relatively straightforward home win and a chance to progress into the second round”
Gary Scammell: “What a draw that was. I used to watch the cup draws when I was young and ouer name came out to play Halesowen came out the hat and I said to my dad is this the year for a cup run. A fairly drab game.”.
Greville Waterman: “A fairly comfortable routine victory. Halesowen were brave but limited.”
Bill Pyle: “Dunno if I’m getting confused but I think I popped into the Princess Royal at half-time of the Halesowen ggame and chatted with quite a few of the opposition fans in there before going back into the ground
Martin Sexton: “Went to every game of that run…except Anfield”
FA Cup Round 2
Date: Saturday 10thDecember 1988
Opposition: Peterborough United
Venue: London Road
Result: Peterborough 0 Brentford 0
Date: Wednesday 14th December 1988
Opposition: Peterborough United
Venue: Griffin Park
Result: Brentford 3 Peterborough 2
Goalscorers: Cadette (43), Cockram (50), Smillee (77)
Fourth division Peterborough were Brentford’s next opponents. A middling side who were relegated to the bottom tier the season Brentford were promoted from it (1979) and had been there ever since.
Their top scorer that season was Nick Cusack with 12 goals and the had a number of long-serving players including midfielder Nick Halsall (249 appearances) and ex-Forest player Bryn Gunn (131 appearances)
They had beaten Gillingham 1-0 at home in a first round replay after a 3-3 draw at Gillingham.
The away match was entertaining with the only thing missing from the match – goals. Tony Parks had an outstanding game. Play in the second half was halted by the referee as Peterboro fans lit a fire in the home stand.
Andy Sinton ended up in hospital after getting concussion – putting an end to his 161 consecutive-game Brentford run
The home match was a proper ding donger. Posh went ahead on 17thminutes. That woke The Bees up who hit back with three quality goals.
A one-two between Jones and Stanislaus set up Cadette. Then Feeley set up Allan Cockram for a tremendous 20 yard strike.
Then Neil Smillee came to the rescue – heading the Bees into the 3rdround from a Godfrey cross
Allan Cockram: “We scrapped it out up there. They had some wiley old heads. But we got them back to Griffin Park. Played quite well at home against good fire power. Going behind shook us up. Then we took control of the game”
Paul Jamison: Great memories. Went to every game on that amazing cup run. Things that come to mind the most. Andy Sinton getting clobbered at Peterborough and earning a replay. Walsall away and the bloody coach journey.
Easing past Man City on the perfect pitch. The Special to Blackburn and the whole day. Great scenes.
Liverpool by car with my old mates Richard an Pete and his Dad. Great experiences which forever will stay with me. And also forgot the bloody queue after the Bury home game for tickets
Gary Smith: “It was a great opportunity to bring them home. But it was a tougher match than we expected
Gary Scammell: “Went with my dad to the home match. It was a bit of a treat for me as a young lad as it was an evening kick off. Great match which ended with Smilee scoring the winner”
Greville Waterman:“I thought it would be curtains for us away from home. Tony Parkes had a very good match and we came away with a draw. Sinton got stretchered off with concussion. He missed the replay. Kevin Godfrey came in. I thought that was our lot. My hero Allan Cockram scored a cracker in the left corner. And Smilee scored the winner. ”
FA Cup Round 3
Date: Saturday 7thJanuary 1989
Venue: Fellows Park
Result: Walsall 1 Brentford 1
Goalscorers: Keith Jones (51)
Date: Tuesday 10thJanuary 1989
Venue: Griffin Park
Result: Brentford 1 Walsall 0
Goalscorers: Cockram (63)
Newly promoted Walsall were having a tough time of it in Division 2 after winning the Division 3 title the previous year.
Their high-profile entrepreneur owner Terry Ramsden bought in a number of high-profile players to get them promotion. And they had a great run in the cup the season before – seeing off top flight teams Birmingham and Charlton before being knocked out by Charlton in the 5thround after a double replay
But they were firmly rooted to the bottom of the division when the two sides met in the cup.
The away match was a bit of a non-event. After going behind in the 2ndminute of a fairly dull the first half, the second half was marginally better – made better with Keith Jones’ 51 minute lob of the keeper
The home match was a hard-fought affair with Allan Cockram scoring from a rebound after Kevin Godfrey’s shot was saved by Fred Barber.
Allan Cockram: “Everyone was on fire. We knew we could beat Walsall. But it was the level of training, excitement and banter that went up knowing we were on a roll and didn’t fear anyone”
Blondie: “FA Cup is always exciting. I was on holiday in Lanzarote at the time and when I heard we had beaten Walsall, I had a celebration drink with my Brentford-supporting wife and looked forward for the draw”
Colin South Coast Bee: “I drove up with Lulu, Bones and Ian. Went through the Cotswolds. Ended up meeting a load of Bees in Walsall. Can’t remember too much about match. And came home after doing a runner in a pub in Woodstock:”
Gary Scammell: “The buzz around Griffin Park for the replay was huge with over 8,000 in the house. New Road went potty when we scored”
@MarkJH68: “Went up to Walsall in two minibuses. We were attacked outside the big boozer and ended up in court. That was fun”
Paul Holland: “Met my old University jurisprudence lecturer who was a director of Walsall at the time”
Andy Taylor: Superb times . Went to every game , I remember Walsall away. West Midlands police were a bit lively. The train back from Blackburn breaking down .
Beesotted Reloaded Part 2 – Rounds 4, 5
(Man City, Blackburn)
Beesotted Reloaded Part 3 – Liverpool Quarter Final