Beesotted contributor and former Brentford FC programme writer Ian Westbrook runs the rule over Saturday’s visitors Reading – and forces himself to recall the nightmare memory of their last visit to Griffin Park.
HOW ARE THEY DOING?
Reading’s season has been very similar to Brentford’s so far with four wins, three draws and three defeats leaving them on the same points total as us of 14.
Three of those victories came in consecutive matches – at Middlesbrough (1-0) and at home to Fulham (3-0) and Millwall (3-2) with their other win in their first home game against Ipswich (1-0).
But their form has been patchy recently and Wednesday’s goalless draw at Leeds means it is four games since their last victory.
During that sequence of results they also bowed out of the Capital One Cup in the third round – losing 1-0 at Derby after victories over Newport (3-1) and at Scunthorpe (1-0) in the first two rounds.
This is Reading’s sixth season out of the past seven in the Championship with a solitary year in the Premier League in 2012/13.
They also spent two years in the top flight from 2006 to 2008 with a squad packed full of former Bees in Stephen Hunt, Ivar Ingimarsson, Steve Sidwell, Ibrahima Sonko, Sam Sodje and Simon Cox as well as future Bees Alan Bennett, John Halls and Mikkel Andersen.
WHO’S THE GAFFER?
Former physio Nigel Adkins has been in charge at the Madejski Stadium since March last year.
He made his change of career during his time with Scunthorpe when he stepped up to the hotseat after the departure of Brian Laws – initially as caretaker-boss in November 2006 and then as permanent manager a month later.
He led the Iron to promotion to the Championship at the end of the season as champions and although they only lasted 12 months at the higher level, he led them back up again via the play-offs in 2009.
Adkins kept Scunthorpe in the second tier the following season and his achievements attracted interest from elsewhere, which led to him joining Southampton in September 2010.
His run of success continued as he led the Saints from League One to the Premier League in consecutive seasons.
Midway through the following campaign he was sacked by the south coast club and took over at Reading two months later.
In his playing days he was a goalkeeper for Tranmere, Wigan and Bangor City, where he went on to become player-manager.
THEIR LAST VISIT
APRIL 20, 2002 – LEAGUE ONE: BRENTFORD 1-1 READING
It pains me to type any report on Reading’s last trip to Griffin Park in 2002 as it is a day which will stay indelibly etched on the memory of any Bees fan who was there.
In a winner-takes-all final day of the season clash in which victory would take us up to the Championship, with a draw good enough for Reading to be promoted, we were less than 10 minutes away from the coveted place in the second tier, when it was cruelly snatched away from us.
I can still see now the shot from our nemesis Jamie Cureton, which equalised an earlier goal from Martin Rowlands, curling into the net despite the efforts of Ivar Ingimarsson on the line in front of the Reading fans at the Ealing Road end to keep it out.
That strike condemned us to the play-offs – and you don’t need me to tell you what happened there.
Brentford: Smith, Dobson, Anderson, Ingimarsson, Powell, Rowlands, Evans, Sidwell, Hunt (Williams 82), Owusu, Burgess. unused subs: Gottskalksson, Boxall, O’Connor, Theobald.
MARCH 11, 1989 – DIVISION THREE: BRENTFORD 3-2 READING
Brentford had other things on their mind when Reading came to town in the middle of March 25 years ago, as we were just a week away from an FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool at Anfield.
However despite the big game on the horizon, plus a trip to Port Vale on the Monday to deal with, the mid-table Bees bounced back from the previous Saturday’s 5-3 defeat at Preston to earn a thrilling victory.
Keith Millen headed us into a 12th minute lead from an Andy Sinton cross before Trevor Senior, with some inadvertent help from Bees defender Jamie Bates, equalised in the 35th minute.
Terry Evans restored our lead, after Gary Blissett headed on a Sinton corner, just before half-time.
Linden Jones got Reading’s second equaliser, before Sinton won it from the penalty spot in the 79th minute after a foul on Richard Cadette.
The win took Brentford, with games in hand on all but one team above them, up two places to 11th in the table.
It was fitting that Sinton made such a contribution to the victory as it turned out to be his final home league match for the club as, after playing at Vale Park and Anfield and against Torquay in the Sherpa Van Trophy, he was sold to QPR on transfer deadline day.
Brentford: Parks, Bates (sub Cockram), Stanislaus, Millen, Evans, Ratcliffe, Jones, Sinton, Cadette, Blissett, Godfrey. unused sub: Pearce.
There are a couple of former Bees players in the Reading squad as mentioned earlier.
Goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen played one game on loan to us in December 2008 – a 2-1 home victory over Bradford. He stepped in after Ben Hamer had been sent off in an FA Cup tie at Barrow and with his deputy Simon Brown injured.
Striker Simon Cox, Reading’s top scorer this season with four goals in the Championship, had two loan spells with us during the 2006/07 campaign but failed to score in 11 full and two substitute league appearances and one Carling Cup tie.
Reading have some dangerous strikers on the books with on loan Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray having arrived last month and scoring three goals in five matches and Russia international Pavel Pogrebnyak now in his third season with the club.
Simon Cox also plays up front while another alternative is former QPR player Jamie Mackie, who is on loan from Nottingham Forest.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brentford have two entries in the Reading record books.
The first is as the opponents for the club’s record attendance at their old ground Elm Park, where 33,042 spectators crammed in to see us beaten 1-0 in the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1927.
The second is as spoilsports for Royals goalkeeper Steve Death, who had kept a clean sheet for 1,103 minutes, which was a Football League record at the time.
The Royals opened the 1979/80 season at home to Brentford and Death continued to keep his record intact until the 29th minute when Alan Glover’s cross deflected in off Royals defender Stewart Henderson to end his amazing run with an own goal.
Drinking – 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.
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) …