As the debate rambles on over the manner of the defeat at Derby, I’m reminded of the last time we played them in a cup match, which had a somewhat happier outcome.
2003, a cold and wet Saturday afternoon at Griffin Park in the FA Cup 3rd round. Brentford played Derby and caused something of an upset by beating the Division One side 1-0 thanks to a Stephen Hunt free kick in the first half.
As I recall it was not a thunderbolt by any means, it was either drilled in low or was just far enough away from the keeper to creep in. But they all count. In a season that had all the highlights commensurate with a 16th place finish, (including an especially dire 8 game unwinning run) some modest cup success was about as good as it got.
Derby Manager John Gregory had already proved himself annoying as Wycombe Manager a few years earlier, and somehow managed to wind the Brentford fans up further with his behaviour on the touchline. I can’t remember exactly what it was, so I’ll lazily suggest it was remonstrating with officials – possibly some pantomime villainy in Stephen Evans’ sending off.
Anyway, as Brentford carved out the win, there were some tremendous singing of “Sit Down John Gregory!” from the Brook Road end. A last triumphalist rendition seranaded the Derby boss as he trudged off down the touchline at the final whistle. It was one of those days where the song of the afternoon is locked in your head, and you’re still singing it on Monday morning.
In those days I travelled to Brentford from the West Midlands with another Bee from Leamington Spa. The vanquished Derby team were taking the same route as our drive home, and we took great delight in waving at a glum John Gregory as we overtook the Derby team coach on the M40 somewhere just the other side of Uxbridge.
We stopped at High Wycombe on the way back for a brief rendezvous with my Mum to collect a Hoover (I might have got the detail wrong, I’m sure it was my Mum, but not sure it was a Hoover) but it’s not key to the narrative.
The detour meant the Derby team coach overtook us again. As we set off once more, the race was on to catch it up again before we left the motorway at Leamington.
It was a damn close run thing. We sighted our quarry in a location approximately twenty miles north of Banbury and made good our pursuit. Hurtling along to close the gap (of course driving responsibly and observing the speed limit) we finally delivered our payload of a lofted Brentford shirt, accompanied by a last performance of “Sit Down John Gregory!” , just before the Junction 14 exit slip road for Lemmo!
It has to be said that JG took it in something akin to good spirit and waved back with a kind of “it’s a fair cop” expression.
I don’t expect any of the Bees fans travelling home after this week’s game had such a great time, but then again we won’t finish 16th this season, and our memories of this season will surely top chasing a bus up the M40.
Now onto Carlise. COYR!