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Brentford taking our place in the fourth round of the FA Cup is a very special moment for lots of Bees fans including me – after all, it is remarkably only the seventh time in my 46 seasons of supporting the club that we have reached this stage of the competition.

I remembered five of the others off the top of my head, the 3-0 defeat by Burnley in 2003 escaping my memory for some reason…., but do our younger generation of fans understand why longer-term supporters are so excited?

Maybe not, if a conversation with my 16-year-old son about Monday’s draw is typical.

I pointed out the rarity of the occasion and yes, he is excited about the prospect of us being paired with a big Premier League club when the balls come out of the bag on Monday night, (although we all know it’s probably unlikely to happen!).

But then he asked me what made the FA Cup more special than the League Cup and said that he felt the Championship was more meaningful to watch than either of them, even though he has been to plenty of our cup ties in recent years, including Saturday’s.

This made me wonder whether this was a general feeling among our teenage and young adult fanbase.

Like many of you reading this, FA Cup final day was a massive deal when I was growing up. While there was absolutely no chance of Brentford being involved, that didn’t matter as it was all about the excitement of watching the game live on TV and the build-up.

We were BBC fans in my house and lapped up Cup Final Grandstand with the special edition of It’s a Knockout, Question of Sport or Mastermind, reporters at the team hotels and on the team coaches travelling up to Wembley, profiles of the players, the band and all the pre-match ceremony.

My late father used to proudly come home from WH Smith’s on the Friday evening with a copy of the Cup final match programme for me (you could buy this in shops in advance of the match for years) and it would be our guide to the day.

I can remember at least the first 25 cup finals I watched – all those in the 70s (my first was Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool in 1971) and 80s and most of those in the 90s.

But if you asked me to list the scores of the more recent finals, when the match’s importance and simple rarity value as a televised spectacle had rapidly diminished, then I would struggle.

And that’s the point.

My son has grown up in an era when the FA Cup final and earlier rounds are just live TV matches in a series of other live TV matches – there is nothing to make them more special than anything else.

And with the exception of the Martin Allen seasons, which he just about remembers, and the Chelsea games, which he definitely does remember, the Bees have hardly made waves in the competition.

Why should us being in the fourth round of the FA Cup be more exciting for him than us being in the Championship for the third year in a row and consecutive home games against Newcastle, Aston Villa and Brighton coming up?

It’s a good question and so when that non-glamorous fourth round tie is pulled out by Martin Keown or Michael Owen, I wonder if he and our younger fans be as enthusiastic about it as I will?



1988/89 – Brentford 3-1 Manchester City (Bees reached the quarter-finals) (Bees third tier, City second tier)

1995/96 – Charlton 3-2 Brentford (Charlton second tier, Bees third tier)

2002/03 – Brentford 0-3 Burnley (Bees third tier, Burnley second tier)

2004/05 – Brentford 0-0 Hartlepool

Hartlepool 0-1 Brentford (Bees reached the fifth round) (Bees third tier, Hartlepool third tier)

2005/06 – Brentford 2-1 Sunderland (Bees reached the fifth round) (Bees third tier, Sunderland first tier)

2012/13 – Brentford 2-2 Chelsea

Chelsea 4-0 Brentford (Bees third tier, Chelsea first tier)