BillytheBee delves back into the history of the little, cheap chocolate bar that caused the authorities so many problems at Brentford
With so many folklore tales flying around as to the history of the infamous Brentford chomp, I thought it best the tale be told as it really happened.
It was late 1990. Brentford were playing Orient at home. These were the days when the kids were more into the left field humour of people like Vic Reeeves and The Young Ones than Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning. Adam ‘Scarey’ Carey from the Official Unofficial/Beesotted crew, who was known for his rather alternative outlook on life, turned up for the game with a pocketful of sweets. “Look at this” he said. “They’re new. Never these before. What a strange sweet. CHOMP. They were only 10p” and he handed out his chocolate bars to the Official Unofficial/Beesotted crew on the New Road who held onto them like they were rare golden nuggets.
By mere co-incidence, Orient had a player called Kenny Achampong (A-Chomp-ong) playing for them. Within a minute, the crew had drawn a parallel between their chocolate bars and Kenny and soon found himself under the spotlight. Every few minutes or so, the crew would call out his name. “Kenny”. He would look over to the New Road to see twenty or so lads and lasses stood by the fence of holding small chocolate bars in front of them uttering a solitary “Chomp!”
Poor chap must have been completely confused. Every time he touched the ball the cries of “Kenny” went out. Every time he looked over, chomp bars were held out and a cry of “chomp” went in. Towards the end of the 2nd half, Kevin Godfrey scored for the Bees. The jubilant fans instinctively lobbed their chomp bars onto the touch line in some sort of strange ritual celebration to cries of “chomp. chomp”.
The following weeks, the word went around. More and more people would make a trip to their local corner shop before heading to Griffin Park. The same routine would take place. During the match, chomps would be “showed” (held aloft in front of the fans) to the opposition. When Brentford scored the chomps were “snowed” (lofted gently onto the touchline in celebration). Each action was normally accompanied by a cry of “chomp”.
This was before the days of mobile phones and internet. The only way word used to get around was by word of mouth, landline telephone or post (olde skool). As the return match against Orient was approaching, I wrote an article in Beesottef fanzine explaining the origins of chomp and rallying the troops to load up with chocolate to give Kenny A-chomp-ong a lively reception. Our crew met at Ealing Broadway station (photograph above). Bill ‘Lulu’ Lambert turned up with a huge inflatable chomp he had spent most of the week making at work. It was building up to be a very surreal day.
We got to the ground. The Bees section was surprisingly busy. As the game commenced, every time we lofted the giant chomp bar in the air, all the Bees fans chanted “chomp chomp chomp”. Then it happened. Brentford scored and something happened that even I didn’t imagine would take place. From every conceivable part of the away terrace chomp bars went raining down on the pitch. I mean they were everywhere. This caused an immediate panic with the security. Police were running around on their walkie talkies. “Brentford fans throwing firecrackers. Brentford fans throwing firecrackers”.
Brentford scored again. More chomp mayhem. “Chomp chomp chomp” from the terraces. Character being ejected and all sorts.
From that game on it just got madder and madder. Every match after that, people came armed with chomp. Every time we scored a shower of chomp came from the terraces.
There was one away game against Southend. I think it was in the Leyland Daf Cup. Brentford fans were housed in the seats on the sides rather than behind the goal. That night not only did Brentford win but chomp really led the way. Chants of:
“Good olde Brentford, you’re the team for me. Score a goal. Throw a chomp. They only cost 10p” rang around the stand.
Even Marcus Gayle remarked to me after that match that was the best atmosphere he had ever heard at a football match (this was before our promotion year of course).
In the mean time, I had been in communication with the cadburys marketing department (letter above). The marketing manager after warning me about the dangers of “snowing” chomp bars, then decided to send a few samplers down for me. A few days later there was a knock on the door as a courier delivered me 1000 chomp bars.
The timing was perfect. The next game I carted the boxes down to the New Inn and the crew loaded up ready to distribute the bars amongst the New Road massive. I say the timing was perfect as that game, Brentford happened to win 6.1. Needless to say, with a little help from Cadburys, the deluge of chomp bars after each goal was unprecidented. The police and stewards spent the whole game trying to stop the chomping but every few minutes when another goal went in, chomp avalanche. I didn’t happen to see the end of the game as I was forcibly removed from the ground for distribution of chocolate.
The following game was against our old rivals Birmingham City. I was actually on holiday that weekend but reports came back to me of police on the turnstiles searching kids before they entered the ground. Apparently, a policeman found concealed in one kids coat about 40 bars of Chomp. He turned around to his colleague and said despairing “I can’t believe we’re searching people for chocolate”.
The clampdown in chocolate security brought a sharp end to the chomp craze at Brentford. It only lasted half a season or so … It seemed like so much longer. The atmosphere at those chomp games were electric but what was nice was there was a humour about the madness that went with it. The rumour goes that we graduated onto cheese. That isn’t totally true .. That conversion took a few years later and was instigated at the away FA cup game at Bournemouth which carried onto Norwich cup victory then onto the cheeseboat to Charlton. But hey … That’s another story.