Mark Croxford, one of the co-authors of the Big Brentford Book series, dishes up the first instalment of his regular new column for Beesotted, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.  As the two sides gear themselves up for a critical FA Cup replay, Mark casts his mind back to a couple of Shrimpers cup clashes from yesteryear – hopefully the outcome of Tuesday night’s match will be a positive one and we’ll be welcoming the European Champions to Griffin Park in a week or so’s time.

Bill Dodgin’s Delight

Despite being regular opponents in Football League games over the years, post-war visits from Southend in Cup games have been comparatively few and far between and all – bar one of them – have come in the League Cup competition.

Back in the 1979/80 season, a 4-1 thumping at Griffin Park on Tuesday 21st August contributed to a 6-2 aggregate exit from the competition at the first round stage and prompted a post-match analysis in the Middlesex Chronicle, the likes of which the modern day Wenger and Mancini could never even contemplate…

“With the help of a few beer bottle tops, Brentford manager Bill Dodgin explained to the press who had gathered in his office after the match, exactly what went wrong on Tuesday night,

‘Pat Kruse should have moved in fast and challenged the player with the ball, not hung back to try and hold up play’, he said as he pushed one bottle top in the direction Kruse should have gone for the first goal.

But then he turned to the journalists and admitted, without offering excuses, ‘But we gave it to them, didn’t we?’

The game itself, which had been deferred for a week after a host of Southend players fell victim to an outbreak of food poisoning at Roots Hall, became the first Griffin Park fixture of the new campaign. The opening day match programme was full of apologies too – regret about the increased price of the programme from 20p to 25p (correct money only, please!) and admission charges up by 10p to £1.20 (but £1.30 for the privilege of standing in the Braemar Road enclosure).

The £1.20 entrance fee applied in all areas of the ground, with a separate ‘transfer’ charge for the seats. The regrettable hike in prices had been as a result of an increase in VAT and a general rise in inflation!!

However, the regrets didn’t extend to the outrageous cost of travelling on the supporters coach to the first leg tie at Southend – with the fare being £2.50 (£2 for OAP’s and Juniors) to travel from Albany Road (behind the police station) to the seaside.

LDV Vans Trophy Area Final

The one League Cup exception was a memorable night on Tuesday 20th March 2001 when an LDV Vans Trophy Area Final tie saw Southend dispatched 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) and The Chronicle report summed up the highlights nicely.

“Substitute goalkeeper Paul Smith carved his own niche in Griffin Park folklore with a sensational display to help the Bees reach the Millennium Stadium on Tuesday night. With a slender 3-2 aggregate lead and more than half-an-hour still to play, the rookie shot-stopper was called into action after a sickening collision between number one Oli Gottskalksson and Michael Dobson, resulting in the former’s departure with concussion.

“You would have expected Smith to have been a bag of nerves but he settled into the game like a duck to water and pulled off a couple of magnificent saves to preserve the lead.”

“The importance of those saves was highlighted in the 78th minute when the revitalised Lloyd Owusu struck to give the Bees a vital two-goal cushion and deflate David Webb’s men. Wing-back Paul Gibbs, having one of his best games for the club, did the spade work down the left before crossing for Owusu, who got the ball under control in an instant before curling a low shot into the corner of the net from 12 yards.”

“Delighted Ray Lewington was named full-time Brentford boss within minutes of his side sealing a place in the Club’s first major Cup Final for 16 years. The Bees boss spoke with pride about the players he says have earned him the job in what has turned out to be a roller-coaster of a season. ‘It’s down to them that I have got the job because they have shown tremendous character and they full deserve to reach the Final’, said the beaming Griffin Park chief.”

 

Mark Croxford is one of the co-authors of the Big Brentford Book series