Wednesday night was a proper kick in gnads, but like most true Brentford fans, Jim Levack has dusted himself down, had a long, hard think, and is ready to get behind his team and ‘go again’ against Swansea City on Sunday. Come On You Bees!
Anyone doubting the desire of Brentford’s players would have done well to watch Said Benrahma as he walked alone and with purpose from the Griffin Park pitch.
His face etched with a mixture of anger, frustration and grief, he marched towards the tunnel close to screaming a furious tirade in his native tongue. Think how unhappy you were at home were and multiply it by 20.
He has been the Bees talisman this season, along with Ollie Watkins the player the media loves to drool over, part of the famous free-scoring BMW.
But the motor has stalled a little of late, with only brief flashes of the efficiency, flair and verve that has – let’s never forget – taken this great club to its best finish in 73 years.
The poet Tennyson wrote “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. He was right. Better to have been there, tried and got close than to settle for mediocrity.
But, and it’s a massive but, we have another chance to go the distance and this time we’re not chasing. It’s three eleven v eleven cup ties. Clear slate, a blank canvas for them to paint the kind of beautiful images they’ve etched on our memories throughout this incredible season.
The players must go out, express and enjoy themselves and if they do, they’ll do it – of that I have no doubt.. If not, we still have the best league in the world to look forward to next season.
Whatever happens, this has been the best campaign in most of our living memories’ – a fact a tiny proportion of young hot-heads whose age has makes them less immune to the vagaries of being a Bee who vented their ire at the players after the game will never quite grasp.
They don’t represent us, the honest, passionate, hard-working and humble Brentford fans who have – by dint of the setbacks we’ve shared – grown used to adversity.
But to coin another phrase, the only way you grow stronger is by overcoming adversity. By that measure we should be top of the Premier League. One day maybe.
A friend, Sav, summed it up when he wrote tongue in cheek after the Barnsley defeat: “I used to love it when we finished tenth in the Championship every season. It was much more fun then.”
His Whatsapp post was met with an equally dry retort from Matt Allard, also of the Beesotted parish: “… yes, with a little sniff of the play offs that blows out with 4/5 games to go.”
That is what makes our club great. The ability to bring humour to even the darkest moments and another critical quality Bees fans seem to have in abundance… perspective.
The last few months have been horrific. Lives turned upside down, families torn apart in grief, an economic meltdown in the offing – and we lost a couple of games of football.
To spurn one chance at the big time is unfortunate, to miss out twice gave the doubters ammunition. If it’s not third time lucky, then maybe we’re not yet properly equipped to go up. For what it’s worth I think our football would blow at least eight sides away in the Premier League.
But if the cynics doubt a side that has entertained, thrilled and brought joy to so many peoples’ lives with their tireless work on the pitch and selfless dedication to the community off it, then they’re probably not the kind of fans we want anyway.
West Brom staggered over the line like a drunk trying to find his door key. Only Leeds showed the mental resolve required to get the job done with barely a modicum of fuss.
That we didn’t – or haven’t yet – means nothing. Forget the defensive record, the free scoring forward line, the midfield passing analysis, we are now into a three-game tournament that puts us 270 minutes away from the Premier League.
Swansea sneaked in and they’ll be on a high, say the critics who were strangely quiet during our eight-game unbeaten streak. So what, we’ve beaten them home and away, they like to play football and we are due another run.
You can cut the cake however you like but right now, I’d prefer to have a big slice of belief and faith in this amazing squad.
Brentford’s players looked shattered at the final whistle, lying on the turf before trudging away to a ‘clear the air’ dressing room. And history has shown us what a good honesty session can achieve.
No doubt with a full house and not just the occasional partisan “push up Brentford” from Billy Reeves and directors, they’d have gone on to snatch the second crucial goal. But ifs and maybes don’t win you promotion and this is a very different kind of play off scenario.
Football-wise Brentford did enough to win, but it’s those fine margins again and this result will have had a negative impact on Thomas and the players. For 24 hours.
They’ll have regrouped since, spoken about the task in hand and be even more determined to seize this opportunity. But if they don’t, then maybe it’s not meant to be.
Perhaps now is the time for Thomas to make use of the squad, throw in the fresh legs of Dervisoglu, Mokotjo, Baptiste and even Zamburek and see where it takes us. A gamble, but not a big one.
Two things are absolutely certain about the next week or so.
First, whatever the outcome, Championship football is a guarantee that I’d have taken seven or so years ago.
And second, we will all still be watching Brentford next season.