Mark Croxford takes a looks back at some past Bees-Chelsea clashes as part of his regular Beesotted column, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and asks the questions… Which of the current Chelsea team will eventually sign for Brentford? History suggests that at least one will… bagsy Juan Mata or Eden Hazard.
There’s Nothing Like The Real Thing!
While Chelsea’s forthcoming visit to Griffin Park may be the first competitive fixture between the two clubs for 63 years, the Blues from Stamford Bridge have been not- infrequent opponents during the last three decades.
All of the encounters have fallen into the category of curtain-raisers or fund-raisers, but some memorable meetings have taken place nonetheless.
On Tuesday 9th May 1978, a bumper attendance of 7,400 provided a welcome boost to Alan Nelmes’ bank balance as his testimonial match produced a 10-goal thriller (despite eight of the goals being fired past Brentford’s rookie ‘keeper Graham Cox!) as the First Division visitors paraded their ‘stars’ of the day – Peter Bonetti, David Hay, Ron Harris, Ian Britton, Mickey Droy, Steve Wicks, Steve Finnieston, Gary Stanley, Ray Lewington, Ray Wilkins and Clive Walker. Spot the Bees-to-be in that line-up!
When the two teams met again on 6th August 1980, to posthumously honour journalist George Sands, goals from Dean Smith, Mark Hill and David Crown capped an enjoyable evening and a 3-0 victory – Chelsea’s Petar Borota and Lee Frost presumably unaware that in the not-too-distant future, they would switch sides to have brief, unsuccessful flirtations at Griffin Park.
In fact, the practice of swopping blue for red-and-white has befitted a number of players who have turned out for Chelsea in friendly fixtures against the Bees, with the likes of Graham Wilkins, Colin Lee and Gareth Hall later pulling on the Bees’ stripes.
The friendly encounters between the two clubs also provided a much-belated debut for popular physio Eddie Lyons when, on 14th May 1984, the 64-year-old played out the final ten minutes as a substitute in his own benefit game. The potent visitors, who included Pat Nevin, David Speedie, Paul Canoville, Kerry Dixon and Derek Johnstone in their attack, ran out winners by 6-3 – with Keith Cassells, Gary Roberts and Jim McNichol scoring for Brentford.
Much more forgettable friendlies were played out in the pre-seasons of 1984 and 1987, both ending in 3-0 defeats for Brentford, with little to note in either game other than the much-publicised appearance of Chelsea’s £350,000 signing from Aberdeen, Doug Rougvie.
By the time Graham Benstead was being pilloried for conceding six goals on his first appearance in front of the Griffin Park faithful on 11th August 1990, the visitors’ squad was littered with a host of well-known names including: Dennis Wise, Tony Dorigo, Andy Townsend, Graeme Le Saux, Dave Beasant, and Steve Clarke amongst nine internationals in their starting line-up. Alan Dickens – another future Bee – was among the others who made up the numbers.
Probably the most entertaining friendly took place on 6th August 1991, a hame that Brentford won 4-3
“Brentford’s razor-sharp strikers gave Chelsea’s new £1.4 million man Paul Elliott a torrid welcome back to English football. They ripped through their illustrious neighbours’ second last line to hammer four goals, two of them beauties, in a thrilling opening half. At the interval, with his side 4-2 down, former Celtic star Elliott must have been wondering whether he had made the right choice.
As early as the 12th minute the Reds were off the mark when Neil Smillie bagged his second in as many games after Dean Holdsworth’s neat glancing header was saved by Dave Beasant. Just three minutes later the First Division visitors were level – Kevin Wilson prodding home after good work down the left from former England international Kerry Dixon.
The next ten minutes saw the Bees extend their lead with two well-fashioned goals. The third, an opportunist strike from Richard Cadette, who looks to be approaching some of his old form, was sandwiched between two quality strikes. The first from Dean Holdsworth was the result of one of many sweetly-played through-balls from Brentford’s new addition, Billy Manuel. The aggressive, terrier-like left-back chipped a ball through to Deano, who came off his man before sending a rasping volley into the bottom corner from fully 25 yards.
The fourth, after sloppy defending let in Cadette, was the pick of the bench and had the majority of the 4,923 on its feet. The want-away front-man found a yard from his marker to turn and send a curling drive into the top right-hand corner of the net. The strike, which will rank as one of the goals of the season come next May, restored the two-goal cushion which lasted precisely a minute after the break. As with the previous two, Chelsea exploited the gaps down the Bees’ right flank to net virtually carbon-copy goals.”
Even Chelsea’s last sojourn to Griffin Park, when they sent a Blues XI for a pre-season friendly on 31st July 2007, included Adrian Pettigrew, a player who joined the Bees’ ranks just weeks later.
Rehearsals over, it’s the real thing this time – I wonder if the Chelsea players who appear on Sunday 27th January will be aware that history suggests that at least one of them will later ply their trade in a Brentford shirt? But which one will it be? I hear that Frank Lampard will be seeking pastures new pretty soon!