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“They’re celebrating like they’ve won the Champions League.” So the conversation went between two embittered Burnley commentators when Brentford’s late salvo earned them the points in Saturday’s six-pointer at the Brentford Community Stadium, sparking Gala-inspired scenes of delight in the stands and a delightful jig from Yoann Wissa as Freed from Desire rang around the ground.

It’s quite fitting, therefore, that three days later saw the anniversary come around again of the last time we heard such a jibe – and one of the most important days in Brentford’s recent history. “They’re celebrating like they won the FA Cup,” said Russell Slade after Marcello Trotta’s clinical strike on the stroke of half time earned the Bees all three points in another crucial six-pointer, this time to decide the automatic promotion places in League Two.

It’s a day which has gone down in Brentford legend. Used to so many let-downs in the past when it mattered, this win over the Bees’ main rivals for second place behind champions-elect Wolves pretty much cemented promotion in the eyes of many fans, or at least confirmed that this time, we weren’t going to somehow mess it up.

The second half that day is certainly the most nervous I can remember feeling during a match for a long time – more so than in Brentford’s numerous actual promotion/relegation deciders, play-offs games and cup finals – and the sense of relief I felt at the end has not been matched before or since in three decades of watching my team (apart from maybe last May at Wembley). It was THE game, more than any other, which set Brentford on the journey which culminated in Premier League football for the first time.

But for me, what perhaps make it even more fitting than “Celebrate like we won the cup” day popping up again this week was the fact that it draws parallels between two of the biggest redemption tales involving Brentford players in recent times. The transformation of Ivan Toney in recent weeks – inspired in no small part by the arrival of Christian Eriksen and his sublime set pieces and deliveries – has been remarkable.

It was barely six weeks ago that Toney was incurring the wrath of Bees fans with some ill-judged and profane words while on holiday in Dubai during the international break, which were unfortunately captured on video and, before long, plastered all over social media. That it came at a time when Brentford were struggling for form and Toney was struggling for goals probably made it even worse. If the club really did have a ‘no dickheads’ rule in place, this was sailing – via a boat in the Persian Gulf – very close to the wind.

Hands-up time here. I don’t wish to sound wise after the event, but while I was disappointed in Toney, that was as far as it went for me. I’m too old and have seen too many come and go to idolise players these days, and while his words will always be seen as somewhat disrespectful, I couldn’t get too annoyed about it. As many have pointed out, we’ve all said daft things when on the pull, and Toney was just daft enough to have been caught on camera. I was more concerned about the effect it would have on his performances on the pitch – but as we have seen with his penalty-taking technique, it would take a lot to dent the former Peterborough striker’s confidence and draw his attention away from what he does best. Toney apologised and said he just wanted to score goals for Brentford – and that’s exactly what he has done.

Five goals in two games has not only earned Brentford six crucial points against teams below them in the table – ending a worrying winless run and putting the Bees within touching distance of safety – but suddenly made Toney the top-scoring Englishman in the Premier League, and renewed calls for him to be included in the next England squad. Keep this form going to the end of the season and help Brentford bag the additional points needed to secure a second season of Premier League football, and Toney’s redemption will be complete.

It was while pondering Toney’s road to redemption this week that I was wracking my brains for others who have fallen foul of the fans in such dramatic fashion while playing for the club before coming back to earn their respect once more. Sure, there are plenty who have earned the wrath of the supporters after – or in the act of – leaving the club. Martin Rowlands will probably never be forgiven for his comments to the Evening Standard in 2003, belittling the Bees on the day of his first return game against his former club after moving to bitter rivals QPR. And only in recent years has there been a bit of a thawing of attitudes towards Harlee Dean following his infamous ‘ten times better’ comments in a Birmingham City club interviews after joining the Brum side in 2017. And, neatly completing the circle – having been sent off for Brentford in that win at Orient and made his first return to TW8 in Saturday’s win over Burnley – there’s James Tarkowski, who in 2016 refused to play for the Bees as he attempted to force through a move to the Clarets.

All three have been left to varying levels of villainy in the minds of Bees fans, and so it’s to Trotta we turn for a true tale of redemption. After snatching the ball from club legend Kevin O’Connor and missing the subsequent penalty in the infamous last-day promotion capitulation to Doncaster in 2013, Trotta could well have joined those mentioned above in the Brentford Room 101 had he not bravely returned for a second loan spell the following season.

He wasn’t exactly greeted with open arms, but 13 goals in Brentford’s promotion run-in helped redeem Trotta in the eyes of Bees fans – before that seminal winner at Brisbane Road truly cemented it. He later said: “I felt I owed something to Brentford, that’s why I decided to come back after what happened last year. I dug in and wanted to repay the fans and the club.” Today, on the anniversary of that goal, we once again celebrate the original redeemer. Let’s hope that we continue celebrating Brentford’s new redeemer for many weeks to come.

Tim Street