Beesotted contributor and former Brentford FC programme writer Ian Westbrook tries to forget last season’s Capital One Cup tie as he looks ahead to the visit of Championship leaders Derby County to Griffin Park.

HOW ARE THEY DOING?

Derby arrive on Saturday top of the table and determined to go one better than last season in their hunt for a return to the Premier League.

As will only be too well remembered around TW8, the Rams dominated last season’s Championship play-off final against QPR but could not score and lost to a late goal which condemned them to a seventh consecutive, and 12th out of 13th, season at this level.

Last season was the first time they had been challenging for promotion since an immediate relegation from the top flight in 2008 as they finished third.

Derby have only lost two of their 14 League games this season – in their second away match 3-2 at Charlton and then last Saturday 2-1 at home to Wigan to end a 10-match unbeaten run in the Championship.

Apart from their defeat at The Valley, they have won four and drawn two of their other matches on the road with the most comprehensive of those victories a 3-0 triumph at Reading a fortnight ago.

Their biggest win of the season however was a 5-1 thumping of Fulham at the end of August.

The Rams have taken a liking to playing our near neighbours this season as they put another five past them on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup fourth round after going 2-0 down just before the interval.

In next month’s quarter-finals they will entertain Chelsea.

WHO’S THE GAFFER?

Former England manager Steve McClaren took charge of Derby in September last year.

After his unsuccessful one-year spell in charge of the national team, during which they failed to qualify for the finals of Euro 2008, McClaren decided to try his luck abroad and moved to Dutch side FC Twente Enschede.

In his first season in charge they finished runners-up in the league and then 12 months later won the title for the first time in their history.

At the end of the season he moved to German club VfL Wolfsburg but the side struggled and he lost his job the following February.

After a short spell in charge of Nottingham Forest he returned to Twente, where he stayed for 13 months.

In the summer of 2013, he joined QPR’s coaching team before moving on to Derby.

He has also been in charge of Middlesbrough and was Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United for two years.

In his playing days he made more than 300 appearances in midfield for Hull, Derby, Bristol City and Oxford.

RECENT VISITS

Derby have not been frequent opponents for Brentford in recent seasons and we have only met them twice at Griffin Park since a league match at this level during the 1992/93 season.

The most recent occasion was in the third round of the FA Cup in 2003 when the Division Two (now League One) Bees pulled off a shock 1-0 victory thanks to a 36th minute goal from Stephen Hunt. The Bees survived the 72nd minute sending-off of Stephen Evans for a second yellow card to reach the fourth round where we lost 3-0 at home to Burnley.

Their last league visit on Boxing Day 1992 was significant for two reasons – firstly because there was a fire in a refreshment bar at the Brook Road end of the ground before the game.

Second and more importantly it proved to be our last home win until the start of May – a major reason why we were relegated back to the third tier at the first time of asking.

Record signing Joe Allon scored his first goal from open play and that together with an own goal gave us a 2-1 victory.

The Rams returned to Griffin Park a month later for the first leg of the English final of the Anglo-Italian Cup, which had a Wembley place on offer for the winners.

Despite a hat-trick from Allon, the Bees went down to a 4-3 defeat and although two goals from Gary Blissett in the second leg at the Baseball Ground the following week gave us a 2-1 victory, we lost on away goals.

Bees line-up (for 2003 FA Cup tie): P Smith, Dobson, Frampton, Marshall, Sonko, Rowlands, O’Connor, Evans, Hunt, McCammon (Hughes 90), Vine. unused subs: Julian, J Smith, Williams, Tabb.

Att: 8,709  Ref: Howard Webb.

Bees line-up (for 1992 league match): Benstead, Statham, Bennett, Millen, Westley, Ratcliffe (Chalmers), Allon, Manuel, Luscombe, Blissett, Smillie. unused sub: Jones.

Att: 10,226.

Bees line-up (for 1993 Anglo-Italian match): Benstead, Bennett, Mortimer, Millen, Statham, Manuel, Allon, Chalmers (Gayle), Godfrey, Blissett , Luscombe (Buckle).

Att: 5,227.

BEES CONNECTIONS

There are no players or staff with Brentford connections currently on the books at the iPro Stadium.

DANGER MEN

Not only are Derby top of the table, they also boast the Championship’s joint top scorer in Chris Martin.

The Scotland international has hit nine goals in 14 league games so far, as well as two in the Capital One Cup, to make it 29 from 58 Championship appearances since joining the Rams from Norwich in the 2013 close season.

Former Chesterfield strike partner and Northern Ireland international Jamie Ward has hit a goal every other game in the league so far this season.

Rising star and England under-21 midfielder Will Hughes is someone who has been tipped for great things over the past couple of years.

And the other mainstays of the side have been ever-present centre-half Richard Keogh and defender Cyrus Christie and midfielder Craig Bryson, who have each only missed one match.

DID YOU KNOW?

Brian Clough’s time in charge of Derby County featured in the film The Damned United, based on the book of the same name.

With Derby’s old home the Baseball Ground now a housing estate, Chesterfield’s old ground Saltergate was used instead.

Ian Westbrook

More Brentford bits

Check out what the Derby fans (and Forest fans) had to say in the Beesotted Thursday pre-match podcast

Pubs in Brentford
For Derby fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match. There four pubs around the ground. The Griffin is closest to the away end and is very popular with away fans – but also very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and The Royal Oak (normally home fans only) are the other two options.

Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) the … The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cozy away-frienly pubs .. frequented by away fans in the know – and The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).

There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

For ale head to the Magpie and Stump real ale pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. There are loads more too.

The Parcel Yard in Kings Cross station is a decent stop off en route back.

A quick google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have an early start (or all evening)