Billy Grant looks back at a thoroughly enjoyable day at Griffin Park as Brentford beat local rivals Fulham to find themselves firmly lodged in the Championship playoff places
The days of Fulham fans belittling Brentford surely must be over.
Not that it bothers us. But it’s a bit embarrassing when we keep churning out results like this weekend.
For years, a number of Fulham fans (not all I hasten to point out) have put the claim in that the Brentford match means nothing to them. Despite them constantly talking about us.
In a recent interview with the excellent (it has to be said) Fulhamish podcast, non-vertically-challenged Pointless host Richard Osman very peculiarly talked about the ‘made up rivalry’ between Brentford and Fulham and the fact that ‘Bees Up Fulham Down’ was a Brentford fan fabrication.
How he came to the conclusion that a set of football fans were able to orchestrate one team’s promotion from Division One (Bees up) and another team’s relegation from the Premier League (Fulham down) in the same year is beyond me it has to be said.
Once again #ffc were an absolute no-show in their cup final🏆
— Beesotted Brentford (@Beesotted) December 15, 2019
Any fan who says that must have either started supporting Fulham in The Premier League days (me thinks the may be you dear Richard) or has conveniently airbrushed the history between the two clubs from their memory banks.
O’Sullivan scoring the only goal at Griffin Park in 1981 as Fulham won a fiery West London derby on their way to promotion to Division Three. The whole of the right had side of the old Brentford Royal Oak home end was over-run with Fulham fans a good half an hour before the match with no Brentford fans in sight other than me and my two mates. The terraces were unusually empty for such a big match other than these outsiders and we were confused. No familiar faces.
Needless to say we were targeted. My best mate (who still goes. He’s the CEO of an international company now) was was being goaded by the Fulham fans for having a soul boy wedge and wearing kickers. He was subsequently thrown out by the police who deemed it the easier option than dealing with hundreds and hundreds of infiltrators. Then when the teams came out at 2.55pm, hundreds (maybe even thousands. No idea … but it was a lot) of Brentford fans appeared out of the blue to send the Fulham fans packing. I was at school at the time. And this is not a glorification. But merely reporting what was my very first memory of a Fulham match
The days of Leroy Roseinor and Gordon Davies and Kenny ‘Chomp’ Achampong battling against the likes of Graham Wilkins, Danis Salman, Alan Whitehead and Ron Chopper Harris.
Marcus Gayle. Gary Blissett, Simon Ratcliffe and Dean Holdsworth scoring in 1992 at a wet Griffin Park as Brentford thumped Fulham 4-0 on their way to the Division Three Championship.
Then there was Gary Blissett v Jim Stannard.
Wilf Rostron scoring in a 1-0 victory at Craven Cottage to see Bees fans go potty.
The Auto Windscreens Shield trophy match in Nov 1995 when Fulham (who had dropped to Division Three at the time) fans had literally found out (that day) that Al Fayed was going to invest in the club. Singing “We’re in the money” they came down to Griffin Park in their droves – selling out the away end – and causing a ‘few problems’ as their fans overspilled into the home end section of the New Road.
The list of games goes on and on
Fulham v Brentford has always been ‘lively to say the least.
Then Fulham get promoted to the Premier League and some fans tried to airbrush that period in history out of their memory banks.
Well this weekend, we have a new incarnation of “Bees Up Fulham Down” that Mr Osman would probably prefer to also remain a figment of our fabrication.
Except it’s not.
Bees beat their West London rivals 1-0 at Griffin Park to leapfrog them in the league.
Hence ‘Bees Up’ and ‘Fulham Down’
Do you get it now Richard?
The Brentford players certainly get it – with Peter Gilham no doubt giving them the history in the pre-match team talk.
Before the season started, all the pundits predicted Fulham’s ‘unbelievable’ side to make an immediate return to The Championship.
With Aleksandar Mitrović leading their attack and an array of experienced, well paid players, Fulham’s return to ‘the promised land’ was a no brainer.
But based on their performance today, maybe Fulham need that fire in their bellies fuelled by a a Fulham fan who understands the history (that rules you out Pointless Richard) to be invited into their dressing room before the match to tell the team as it is.
Truth be known, there was really only one team that was going to take all three points on Saturday once Bryan Mbeumo hit the back of the net in the 23rd-minute. The Bees were completely dominant for the vast majority of the match and really should have won by more
Ollie Watkins totally kippered ex Bee Alfie Mawson before laying the ball off to Said Benrahma. The Algerian magician chipped the ball to Mbeumo who beautifully volleyed home at the back post
Fulham had keeper Marek Rodak to thank as a he pulled off a string of saves to keep Fulham in the game as their defence struggled to cope with the pace and creativity of the Brentford attack.
Other than Neeskens Kebano hitting the post in the 12th minute and a Bobby Reid header in the last 10 minutes of the game, Fulham rarely troubled The Bees.
Watkins almost made it two – smacking the ball against the post after being set up by Mbuemo who had stolen the ball from a lumbering Alfie Mawson.
Pontus Jansson – who had Mitrovic in his pocket all match not giving him a sniff on goal – also hit the post with a header from a Jensen cross.
In the second half, Fulham tried a come back with a semi-purple match. But they never really threatened.
Bees always looked deadly on the break. Fulham were guilty of constantly losing possession in Brentford’s half which prompted The Bees to swarm up the pitch playing rapid one-touch one-pass football – turning defence into attack.
Bees hit the post again as Rodak palmed Jensen’s shot against the woodwork before watching it dribble across the goal line to safety.
At the final whistle, the (quote) “sh!thole” (as disrespectfully described by the guys on Fulham Focus podcast) Griffin Park was jumping as Bees fans sang “Fulham get battered. Everywhere they go”
It may have been just one goal
But it was the most enormous one-goal battering as the Bees dominated in every area.
So we won in our (quote) shithole today
But it was a very lively “shithole”
And we outplayed our opposition
As we have done many times before in our “shithole”
— Beesotted Brentford (@Beesotted) December 14, 2019
And as the Fulham fans whinged about having to come to Brentford’s “sh!thole”, the reality must have struck home that was possibly the their last opportunity to ever win at Griffin Park.
And they fluffed it.
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank described the victory as “One of the best” since he took over the reigns at Griffin Park.
He was delighted that the Bees had got a result – acknowledging that Fulham were no push-overs –
“Against a top side that played, I must say, earlier in the season some of the best football in this division, [I’m pleased] how we today outplayed them but most importantly outran them”
And it was the fact that every Brentford player fought for every ball – as Bees fans purred about on the post-match podcast (link above). And ran the length and breadth of the pitch. That made this victory even more enjoyable.
One minute Rico Henry was on the left. Then sprinted over and was on the right. Then he was up the top of the pitch. And then he was in defence.
Jenssen put himself about like a proper trojan. Yes he loves a flick and a bit of showboating. But he has also learned over the last few weeks, that ‘baller business’ has to marry with putting in a proper shift. And he did just that.
Ollie Watkins was a constant threat – that audacious flick and close control when yet another perfectly-targeted cross-field ball landed at his feet.
Benrahma just took the p!ss – a constant thorn in Fulham’s side.
Mokotjo proved his detractors wrong after an indifferent start to the season – holding things together in midfield like The General of old. Kamo came in for Christian Nørgaard after the Danish midfielder hobbled off against Cardiff and was subsequently dropped to the bench.
Josh Dasilva on another day would have had at least two goals. His ability to sound the goal out despite bring crowded out by defenders on the edge of the area is somewhat astonishing.
Attack we were unbelievable – despite not scoring more – but it would be rude not to give props to the defence.
David Raya – majestic at the back playing the ball out like an accomplished full back (albeit with a few heart-fluttering moments).
Dalsgaard was playing like a man possessed. Dominant. And deadly.
And with Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock quite literally sweeping up everything that fell in their path in proper eco-style, Bees fans were right to feel comfortable that we would not concede despite history telling us to always fear the worst.
All in all, an incredibly accomplished performance. And as we come up to the half way point in the season, we really now have something to build on
￼Fulham shaded it on the possession front (52.6% to 47.4%) with Brentford happy to give up possession, maintain a resolute defence and hit their rivals on the break.
If you break down the shot data even further, Fulham’s two shots on target went towards their total xG of 0.77.
The Bobby Reid chance was their best chance of the match with 43% (xG 0.43) of chances from similar positions historically scoring. And Kebano’s shot that hit the post only having 4% (xG 0.04) of similar chances rippling the back of the net.
In comparison, Brentford with a healthy xG of 2.69 had three big chances – reflecting the fact that they should have got at least one if not two more goals out of that match – and a number of ‘lesser’ chances to increase their tally.
The Bryan Mbuemo goal – 54% (xG 0.54) of similar chances found themselves hitting the back of the net. Ollie Watkins maybe should have done better in the 29th minute – 69% of similar chances hitting the back of the net (0.69). The other big chance came from the Josh Dasilva rebound in the 29th minute – 56% of those chances have historically been found to be scoring chances (xG 0.56).
So where do we go from here?
Well the world is currently our oyster.
Currently up to 4th place with a mouth-watering tie against 1st placed West Brom on the horizon, this Brentford team is only just warming up.
Our early season inconsistency was put down to players not gelling and understanding the patterns of play. It looks as if we are starting to put those days behind us
Ironically, Brian Mbuemo’s 8th goal makes him the second highest goalscorer in England’s top four tiers aged 20 or under – only to be pipped to the first place by Brentford’s own Marcus Forss.
And with the prospect of one or two of Marcus Forss (11 goals for AFC Wimbledon), Emiliano Marcondes (2 goals for top of the league FC Midtjylland) and Halil Dervisoglu (4 goals for mid-table Sparta Rotterdam) coming home in in January – plus maybe one or two additional signings to strengthen the squad, we are in for an exciting new year.
So the future is looking bright
As for Fulham.
The match is over. I’ve got a load of Fulham mates. I think Fulham have some great players. I even tipped them for promotion a couple of seasons ago.
By and large, the matches between the two teams have always been enthralling. With all the dross being served up, football needs your Brentford v Fulhams. So please take this as less as a dig. And more as a wake up call.
Brentford has done it’s talking on the pitch now year in and year out.
The fact is – Fulham have beaten Brentford only ONCE in the league in the last nine matches with Brentford winning five of those.
In fact from the 1992 Championship-winning season in 1992 to now, Fulham have only beaten Brentford three times in the league with Brentford winning eight of those fifteen matches.
I would say, no matter what Division Fulham may have temporarily found themselves in, we’ve been more than a match for our West London rivals over the years.
So let’s park this ‘irrelevant’ nonsense.
And maybe .. just maybe … if Fulham are to have any chance of getting anything out of any future matches between our two sides, they should – and hopefully will – start to take us a little more seriously next time they play us and maybe pay a little …. just a little bit more respect