Cambridge United preview and pub guide: Is this Brentford’s last Griffin Park cup tie?

Cambridge United preview and pub guide: Is this Brentford’s last Griffin Park cup tie?
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Will Tuesday night’s game with Cambridge United be the last-ever cup tie at Griffin Park?

It is a possibility that the Us, in their first visit to TW8 since January 2003, could take a small place in the Bees’ history if that is the case.

Cambridge were regular opponents in the 1990s, and one of the most memorable days in modern Brentford history took place at the Abbey Stadium in May 1999, when we beat them 1-0 in a Division Three (now League Two) title decider. Lloyd Owusu scored the only goal midway through the second half to send the Bees fans behind the goal and on the side of the pitch into raptures.

Brentford players celebrate at Cambridge in 1999

Cambridge came up with us, but things have not gone well for them since then. Two 19th-placed finishes were followed by relegation back to the bottom tier and then in 2005 they were relegated to the Conference.

After nine seasons in non-League, they returned to the Football League by beating Gateshead 2-1 in the play-off final and have been in League Two ever since.

They have started this season with two goalless draws – away to Bradford on the opening day and then at home to Newport on Saturday.


In their five seasons back in the League, the Us have gone out in the first round of the League Cup four times and the second round once.

They have only gone beyond that stage four times in their history, reaching the third round in 1998/99, the fourth round in 1980/81 and 1986/87 and the quarter-finals in 1992/93.

Cambridge started in the second round that season with a 4-3 aggregate win over Stoke, and then won 3-2 at Notts County and beat Oldham 1-0 before their run was ended by Blackburn in a 3-2 defeat.


Colin Calderwood was appointed as Cambridge’s head coach shortly before Christmas in place of Joe Dunne.

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The former Scotland international defender started his managerial career in England with Northampton, winning promotion from League Two, before moving on to Nottingham Forest, whom he led into the Championship.

The only other team he has managed was Hiberinan, but he has worked as an assistant at Birmingham, Norwich, Brighton and Aston Villa.

As a centre-half he won 36 caps, playing for Scotland at Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup, while he represented Mansfield, Swindon, where he won four promotions from the bottom to the top of the Football League, Spurs, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Notts County (loan).


Cambridge’s last visit to Griffin Park 16 years ago was in the southern section semi-final of the LDV Vans Trophy and they won 2-1 after extra-time.

We had looked on course to beat the Us, who had lost in the previous year’s final, after Mark McCammon gave us the lead on the stroke of half-time. But Dave Kitson snatched a last-gasp equaliser in the second minute of injury-time to take the tie into the golden-goal extra period and substitute Omar Riza won it for the visitors in the 98th minute.

The sides last met in the league in Division Two (now League One) in the previous season, with the home side winning 2-1 on each occasion.

A Paul Evans double either side of half-time, including a penalty, won the points for us at Griffin Park, despite a late reply form Paul Wanless.

Ben Burgess gave us an early lead in the Boxing Day return at the Abbey Stadium, but goals in the last 14 minutes from Wanless and Daniel Chillingworth took the points for Cambridge, and you can watch the action below.

We’ve been drawn against each other in the League Cup three times before and the Bees have gone through on each occasion.

We beat them 1-0 in the first round in 1972/73, and then won again 2-1 on aggregate at the same stage in 1984/85, triumphing 2-0 at Griffin Park and losing the second leg 1-0.

Amazingly, we were paired again in the first round the following season and a 1-1 draw at the Abbey was followed by a 2-0 win in the Griffin Park return leg to take us through.


BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s Cambridge United commentator Mark Johnson takes a look at the Us transfer window activity, this season’s expectations for the side and past meetings with the Bees.

Q – How has Cambridge’s summer transfer activity gone?

A – Cambridge seriously underachieved last season and a comprehensive changing of the guard was perhaps expected but, by and large, the players who left weren’t necessarily the biggest underperformers. That’s certainly the case with right-back Brad Halliday (who joined Doncaster after turning down a new contract offer) and also, to an extent, with Jevani Brown (who joined Colchester for a fee). Halliday looked the best right back in the division last season, so Cambridge did well to bring in Kyle Knoyle from Swindon to replace him with virtually like-for-like quality.

Knoyle’s arrival summed up the first half of Cambridge’s summer transfer activity – the early signing of defenders and midfielders; but while they certainly added ballast and experience to the squad, that’s not the area of the squad that caused most concern. Last summer Cambridge scored 39 goals in pre-season, but it took them until the final League match of the campaign to overtake that total in the League, so the slow process of adding to the striking options did feel a little frustrating.  Admittedly, young striker Harvey Knibbs was signed from Aston Villa early in the summer to give Cambridge a second forward in the squad, but he missed a good portion of pre-season struggling with injury.

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However, in the last couple of weeks Andrew Dallas signed from Rangers and Sam Smith on a season-long loan from Reading; both youngsters with limited Football League experience but with good potential. Experience was added last week when ex-Northampton and Swindon (and others) centre-forward Marc Richards was signed on a short-term deal and he’ll take some of the pressure off fellow veteran Jabo Ibehre at the point of the attack.

Q – How would you assess the job Colin Calderwood has done at the club so far?

A – Cambridge were heading out of the Football League when Colin Calderwood took over just before Christmas; and having spent nine years in non-League exile not so long ago, the fact that he avoided the drop means that he’s done a fantastic job so far!  He’s started to get them well-organised in defence and harder to beat, but the test now comes as to whether he can get them to look more dangerous going forward.

Q – What are the expectations for the Us this season – promotion push, mid-table or relegation battle and why?

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A – The key to this season is whether they can score enough goals to push on from last season’s 21st place finish. Because Cambridge played all but two of their pre-season matches behind closed doors, at the time of writing I’ve seen two friendlies and one League match – and no goals!

Having said that, a 3-0 defeat against virtually Leicester’s first team, 0-0 against a strong Ipswich side and 0-0 at Bradford, who are expected to be there or thereabouts in the promotion shake-up, aren’t perhaps the best guides to how potent Cambridge will be in attack. They do, however, suggest that they will indeed be well-organised and tough to break down.

Q – The last time Cambridge were in the second tier was in 1992/93, when they were relegated with Brentford. What are the club’s long-term ambitions – do they include a return to that level?

A – For the time being, the club’s ambitions amount to a bit of stability. A return to the second tier seems a long way off, particularly given how football and its finances has changed since Cambridge were last at that level.

Q – The Bees and the Us haven’t met since 2003 – do you have any memories of previous matches between the sides?

A – I certainly remember the 2003 Football League Trophy meeting when the match was played in torrential rain; I remember an absolute battering in 1995 when new signing David Campbell broke his leg after half an hour, Billy Manuel was sent off soon after for trying to exact “retribution” and Brentford scored six in the last 25 minutes, and I can recall a run of 2-0 defeats when the away section was – I think – along the side of the ground.

Q – What sort of side are Cambridge likely to play on Tuesday – normal line-up or much-changed?

A – Colin Calderwood hasn’t taken charge of a Cambridge side in the League Cup yet, so he doesn’t have “previous” in terms of team selection. If I were to make a guess though, it would be that he will change one or two in midfield and probably the front two. He might give Callum Burton a debut in goal, but I don’t see him tinkering with the defensive side of the team too much.

Q – Which players should Bees fans watch out for?

A – There will be a host of hard-working players in the side, but if you’re looking for a bit of creativity George Maris has a good range of passing and an eye for goal in midfield while Andrew Dallas looks to be a very mobile young striker.

Q – Finally can you give me a possible Us starting line-up and formation?

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A – 4-4-2: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Taft, Jones; Lambe, Maris, Lewis, Hannant; Dallas, Richards (possibly!)


Some of the Beesotted crew have given me their score predictions for Tuesday’s game.

2-1 Bees. Unorthodox front three of Daniels, Field & Clarke drag us over the line in injury-time. Lou Boyd

I can see a 1-1 draw. I think we’ll see a fairly mixed team with a few big hitters on the bench. I think an experimental front line but same defence as Birmingham. Then we’ll do them on penalties. Tom Fiddler

2-1 Bees. New-look team – switching to four at the back – comes out winners. Just. Matt Allard

3-1 win A completely-changed side from Boro. Forss double and Valencia. Cham de Silva

5-0 win to Bees Squad depth at window close now looks particularly strong. The Us could line up against some of new heavy hitters as summer incomings look for minutes to get them up to speed. I expect Ecuadorian, French, British and Scandi-infused nightmares coming the way of the way of the Cambridge side.  David Anderson

2-1 Bees as players try to remember each other’s names. Greville Waterman




For Cambridge fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).

As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.

The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans.

The Princess Royal and the newly-opened and renamed The Brook pub – which has jumped on the craft beer bandwagon – are the other options.

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Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.

The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.

There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave) – right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.

If you decide to get off at South Ealing station, we’ve heard a few people pop into Roddy’s Bar. Whereas The Ealing Park Tavern (back in the day, the infamous Penny Flyer) is fairly busy now that they seem to have lifted their “no football fan” policy.

If you like your craft beer, another fairly new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road, which is fairly busy before and after the match.

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

For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.

The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road. This pub is situated on the location of the now-demolished Oxford & Cambridge pub where Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889.

There is also The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. If you sit in the garden, you can see Brentford’s new stadium towering over you.

There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy – just take a walk down Strand On The Green.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.

Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.

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Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.

The reality is the tube is easier and quicker (and cheaper). It’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (even less from Paddington) on the Piccadilly Line and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford pub crawl outlined above (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe, Griffin) of course.

If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station (turn LEFT outside the station) to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops – 5 minutes).

If you get off at South Ealing, you can get the 65 from the bus stop across the road – right outside the station.

You can check out Transport for London’s Easter guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.







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About The Author

Ian Westbrook

Bees fan since 1971 - been through all the ups and downs. Written about, reported on, commentated on and wittered on about all things Brentford in that time as well as watching hundreds, if not thousands of games, and loved every minute of it!

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