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It is doubtful that the date of 26th February will raise many eyebrows in years to come when looking back at Brentford fixtures of the recent decades, although casting an eye back to what was happening off the field and 46 years ago this week a new board of directors, headed up by Ron Blindell, was assuming control at Griffin Park in the wake of the QPR takeover crisis as (yet another) new era dawned for the Club.

Maybe the non-eventfulness of the date will change on 26th February 2013 with the first-ever competitive visit to Crawley Town, but it was 40 years ago to the very day – on a Monday evening floodlit game at Griffin Park – that the statisticians of the time were sent scrambling for their record books to check up on whether the events of the night needed to re-write a little bit of history.

Brentford 1, Charlton Athletic 0 (26th February 1973)

Charlton had turned up for the Third Division fixture firmly ensconced in mid-table whilst Brentford were battling to keep out of the bottom four, having been beaten at home 1-0 by Grimsby Town just 48 hours earlier, whilst it was the first time the Addicks had ventured to West London since November 1946.

Undoubtedly many of the 9,940 spectators were still streaming through the turnstiles when, just moments after the kick-off, the ball was played forward to Roger Cross and the fleet-footed striker steadied himself from fully 25-yards and unleashed one of his trademark, thunderbolt, left-footed, rising shots.

The ball appeared to sting the fingertips of Charlton goalkeeper Michael Kearns, with his faintest of touches neither changing the direction of the shot nor lessening its power, before ricocheting from the underside of the crossbar and bouncing down into the six-yard box.

There it was met by new signing Barry Salvage who had only made his debut two games earlier following his £9,000 transfer from Queens Park Rangers, and although the winger was positioned only a short distance from the goal-line, he still had to manoeuvre himself to be able to hook the ball back into the net.

Renowned top-rated referee Norman Burtenshaw pointed to the centre-circle to the delight of those in the huge attendance who had taken their places and the goal was officially timed at 24 seconds after the kick-off.

Was it the fastest-ever Brentford goal?

That doyen of Brentford trivia Eric White went searching for the answer and discovered that in November 1954 George Stobbart had scored in a game at Aldershot after apparently 10 seconds but doubt was cast as to whether there had been an official time-keeper back in those days. It was assumed that the 10-second ruling had come from a member of the press but in the absence of a dedicated arbiter of time, Eric White decreed that perhaps the information was not reliable. This was disputed by supporter Aubrey Cragg who had been at the Aldershot game and claimed that, as a former Middlesex FA referee, he always carried a stop-watch with him and had verified the goal at 10 seconds!!!!

At the Charlton game there had been a responsible individual whose duty it was to record the precise time of the first goal for the purpose of the “Golden Goal” competition and so the 24 seconds decision was as authentic as could it have been.

In view of Mr Cragg’s intervention, it was decided that Salvage’s goal could be considered to be the quickest-ever Brentford home goal.

What would have been the time of the goal if the Roger Cross shot had not struck the bar? Around 18 seconds, so the press-men reckoned.

Brentford held on to their lead for the remaining 89 minutes and 36 seconds to record a much-needed win in the ultimately unsuccessful battle to avoid relegation and a good night was reflected in some superb personal displays. “A First Division performance in the Third Division” was manager Frank Blunstone’s post-match praise for the performance of Stewart Houston whilst another of the night’s stars was Peter Gelson who kept the division’s leading scorer Arthur Horsefield tightly under wraps.

 Mark Croxford