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Peter Atkinson, who was one of the four other hardy Bees who walked from Brentford to Hartlepool with me in February 2005, to help raise funds for the club when the Bees were struggling at the wrong end of Division Two, has taken stock of Brentford’s start to the season, and the gloom gathering in some quarters, and braces himself before suggesting that consolidation should not be a dirty word around our part of West London.

The recent sale of Andre Gray has prompted me to put finger to key for Beesotted for the first time owing mainly to a number of things I’ve seen and heard uttered in response from both fellow Bees fans and opposition fans that have been playing on my mind.

Now before I get started, I will readily admit to being something of an exiled fan since I moved away from London eight years ago – my support and love for the club has never wavered, however location and circumstances dictate that I can’t make as many games as I would like to or used to in recent years. In some ways though, this has given me a slightly more detached and balanced outlook on the going on around the freshly-replaced hallowed turf of Griffin Park and perhaps led me to having a more pragmatic view on our success since Matthew Benham took over.

We have had tremendous success over the past couple of years, more than many of us could have dreamt, and of course we all get wrapped up from time to time in the unusual euphoria of supporting a club on the up. The Premier League awaits! No-one can stand in our way! If Bournemouth can do it then so can we! I have no doubt that, under Benham’s expert ownership, we will make it to the Promised Land and become the subject of many cliché-ridden Sky Sports ‘rags-to-riches Moneyball’ documentaries.

However, I can’t help but feel that we as fans need to play our part as much as ever now by keeping our feet on the floor. We need to take a reality check every now and then to ensure that we’re not getting too big for our boots or forgetting the depths of despair that we experienced so recently. To finish 5th last season was amazing, but that doesn’t mean we must expect, nay demand, the same or better this season. We are very much a club and team in transition – introducing a full-blooded, innovative new strategy to hopefully compete with the big boys will take some time before it fully bears fruit; we’ve signed nine promising new players who will take time to bed into the squad and get used to the pace of the league before dazzling us; we have a new management team who must get to know our players before getting the very best out of them. Add into this the ridiculous run of injuries that we have had, particularly the long-term ones, meaning some more new faces will almost certainly be joining us and the start of the season could be a little rocky. We must stay calm, rational and stay 100% behind the club.

The Andre Gray saga feeds into the same line. We are still a selling club, just the same as every other team in the country (bar the top five or six). Just because we have had two good seasons, it doesn’t mean we can hold onto our best players when bigger clubs with bigger chequebooks come calling (and yes, Hull, Leeds and Burnley are still bigger clubs than us despite being in the same league). It would take an exceptionally loyal or visionary player to turn them down and stick with us in such circumstances.

Similarly, just because we are now talking ourselves up as a club with our ‘Big New Ambitions’ (a good positive marketing strategy to bring in new faces and boost attendances as much as a mission statement), it doesn’t mean we have to abandon realism. Of course we must aim high and dream big, but we have no divine right to finish in the top six again, certainly no more so than the other twenty-three clubs in the division, other clubs have strengthened, new clubs have joined, thus even if we do play well we just might not quite scrape the results and end up mid-table. Does that make the season a resounding failure? Of course not! There is nothing wrong with consolidating our place in the league during our ‘difficult second season’, continuing to build for the future and building up a head of steam for 2016-17.

We as fans must continue to play our part, keep the faith and not let ourselves get antsy the second our performance drops or we hit a dodgy patch of form. This is a long-term project, not a Gretna-style hit-the-heights-then-return-to-oblivion project. There will be downs to go with the ups we have experienced so far. If we get on the players’ backs, on Marinus’ back and start to go back to the ‘Little Old Brentford’ mentality, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot. The positivity must continue regardless. Consolidation is not a dirty word this season. We must stick together, get behind the players, get behind the club and never forget the mantra – ‘In Benham We Trust’.

Peter Atkinson

As a matter of note: the Hartlepool Walkers were Pete Haywood, Rod Gowers, Dave Lane, John Dempsey and Pete Atkinson and we raised over £15,000 for Bees United and the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Centre Appeal. The full story, for those who don’t know, can be read here.