With just days to go until the showdown with the European Champions and current FA Cup holders, the excitement is really starting to build – Brentford’s players will hopefully be chomping at the bit as they look forward to pitting themselves against Chelsea’s all-stars on Sunday.
The fact that the two sides haven’t faced each other in a competitive fixture for more than half a century tells its own story, and although the Bees possess enough talent to cause a scare, no matter what the outcome, the Bees of 1950 weren’t quite the underdogs that Uwe’s boys are.
The last time the two sides met in the FA Cup (in the Third Round rather than the Fourth) Brentford were plying their trade in the second tier, having only just been relegated from the top flight, and at that stage The Pensioners, as Chelsea were once known, hadn’t even lifted their first League title. However, the following piece, which appeared in the Middlesex Chronicle on the eve of the match, includes several interesting comparisons to the current Bees’ situation don’t you think?
Brentford On The ‘Death Or Glory’ Trail Tomorrow
Sixty-four managers, a proportionate number of directors, 704 players, and about a million beings who behave quite normally for the other six days of the week, will congregate at 32 football enclosures tomorrow, all fervently hoping (though in many cases not really expecting) that they will be doing the same thing at Wembley on April 29th.
For it’s the Cup that mid-season reviver of faded enthusiasms. Before the week is out, half of the officials concerned will tell us that defeat was a blessing in disguise, leaving them free to concentrate on promotion or the avoidance of relegation. But, for the nonce (old term of the word meaning ‘present moment’ rather than Gary Glitter), optimism reigns supreme; and every club, even the least pretentious of the 64 starters, is quietly confident of going into the hat for Monday’s fourth round draw. Which is as it should be.
Brentford v Chelsea, at Griffin Park, is one of the bill-toppers of the round. What are the chances? The bookmakers offer 25/1 against the Pensioners collecting the trophy at Wembley, and price the Bees at 300/1; and the book-and-satchel gentry rarely lay over the odds. But there’s more to this than meets the optic nerve.
It could be said that Brentford’s home advantage could might counter-balance or even outweigh Chelsea’s presumed First-over-Second Division superiority, were it not for the fact that the Blues, like the Bees, don’t seem to care two hoots whether they’re trampling their own terrain or stamping down somebody else’s bit o’ turf. But Brentford are no respecters of reputations; the Cup (have you heard this before?) is a great leveler; and last season, be it remembered, the Bees shunted two First Division clubs [Middlesbrough and Burnley] off the Wembley rails.
Brentford’s prospect’s tomorrow, however, can be assessed on something more substantial than mere optimism or last season’s Cup history. For they are playing better football now than at any time since the War. A rash assertion? No; I don’t think so. They no longer give them impression of perpetually struggling; the “we must win or we’ll be down near the bottom” complex has ceased to over-shadow their play. In Jeffries they have an up-and-coming goalkeeper who hasn’t much farther to come up; in Greenwood and Quinton manager Jack Gibbons made two wonderful defensive ‘buys’; and with the forwards now getting goals regularly, if not profusely, Brentford seem to be round the turn and half-way down the straight.