Fifty years ago this week, The Bees were in a similar race for promotion as they were before this season was put on pause – and although there were no play-offs back then – the league table was tight at the top with six clubs slogging it out at the top.
A lot was promised at Griffin Park where Brentford faced one of their toughest games of the season against Aldershot, five decades ago… A win for Brentford would have put them clear of Aldershot, and would have left the battle for promotion a five horse race. However, the goalless draw meant that any of six clubs could go up… but the vibe around Griffin Park was growing once again after the traumatic QPR take-over bid in 1967.
New players had arrived to boost the troops who had loyally fought their away from the bottom of the league… although the bombshell that was dropped when manager Jimmy Sirrel (pictured above holding the football with club secretary Dennis Piggott) was to leave for a job at Notts County was a real blow. Frank Blunstone took over the job on Boxing Day 1969, then won his first game in charge, a 2-1 win at Darlington thanks to goals from Bobby Ross and Ronny Fenton.
It was during this era that players like Peter Gelson, George Dobson, Roger Cross, John Docherty, Tommy Higginson, Alan Nelmes, Alan Hawley, Chic Brodie, Allan Mansley, to name just a handful, battled so hard for the club, and gave then fans hope that we were all through the worst of it.
Unfortunately, back-to-back away defeats over Easter, at York and Oldham, then at Grimsby shortly afterwards cost the Bees dear… and despite ending the season with a home win against Colchester, then a 2-0 victory at Aldershot, fifth place, just three points shy of 4th placed Port Vale, left everyone thinking ‘what might have been’. More recent Bees fans will certainly know that feeling too!
We owe that Bees team, as well as the players that followed that won promotion two seasons later, a huge debt of gratitude.