Just six league games remain at Griffin Park and the start of an exciting new chapter in our history. So rather than recalling his favourite ever or first game at our home of more than a century, Jim Levack wanted to share a few memories. Bees fans… what are yours? Please add them to the comments box at the bottom of the page or share via @beesotted on Twitter.
Pipe smoke mingled with sweet onions and a hint of linament on the breeze.
Spangles with my dad from the tiny sweet shop near the old Bricklayers pub, now a terraced house on Ealing Road.
The fug of smoke mixed with early evening dew drifting over the floodlit turf.
The ramshackle industrial area that once sat behind a creaky gate at the junction with New Road and South Ealing Road (I think).
Butterflies in my stomach as my dad drove the four-year-old me towards the ground, the “the studlights”* a glowing beacon in the distance. *I once called them “studlights” and that’s what they were always called between us.
Sitting with my grandma and grandad in D Block Braemar as the players celebrated winning promotion from Division Four in 1972.
The thrill that never diminishes every time I see the green patch of grass where hopes and dreams have been shattered and made.
That goal against Chelsea.
Walking from the media room to meet friends and being stopped for a quick chat by countless people, all part of the ‘family’.
Listening to my dad’s tales of how he couldn’t celebrate a goal when I was two-months-old in case he woke me.
Watching my dad confront two foul-mouthed Sheffield United fans in the family area of Braemar Road, being terrified and then humbled as other Bees fans came to voice their support for him taking a stand.
Night games, the crackle of excitement at a goal – whether it’s Everton in the Cup or Rochdale in the last minute.
The indescribable feeling of wanting the whistle to go when you’re hanging on to a 1-0 lead… and the release when it does.
Being unable to say what my first game was – lost in the mists of time – and being slightly jealous of those who can.
Suddenly realising I was in the middle of around 80 Millwall fans in the Royal Oak as their team emerged from the tunnel to roars of “Liii-oooons”.
Sometimes wondering why I was bothering to make a 200-mile round trip for a night game against Rochdale… then being rewarded by a screamer or a last minute winner.
The elation of a last ditch winner – Kevin O’Connor’s against Norwich in a night game possibly saved my marriage… my wife needed me home early to start her late shift and look after the kids. Extra time would have meant a difficult conversation.
Being in the privileged position of talking football with Peter Gilham, a man who has been a huge support in my job down the years and is the epitome of every value our club stands for.
Having been helped no end at the start of my reporting stint by the king of statistics Eric White.
The unadulterated joy at seeing Stuart Dallas score the winner in the 93rd minute against Derby… my wife’s team. Cooked my own dinner that night.
My bravery of our first date after getting the 65 bus from Kingston Poly… a 4-1 win in a night game against Preston on April 3, 1984. Incredibly, she’s still with me.
The way I still look over at my dad’s seat whenever we have a big moment. He left us 12 years ago but always feels very close when I’m at Griffin Park.
The ridiculous ritual of always standing on the spot where he used to meet me after games, shutting my eyes and blowing a kiss skywards.
Terry Hurlock rampaging, Kamara’s sliding tackles and Bowles taking the mickey out of the ref with a gesture and getting away with it. No cameras then.
Getting a rollicking from Steve Perryman for a headline and then explaining “I don’t write the headlines”.
Chatting to Dave Lane, who I know from our shared experiences during some difficult times for the club, would always do the right thing.
Silly rituals. I always duck under the stairwell by the gents in the Ealing Road.
Having my family threatened by Ron Noades. You always know you’re onto something when that happens.
Dave Lane’s support during some difficult times involving Mr Webb, who later told the press team “Is that xxxxxxx Levack still here? I xxxxxx hate that (expletive deleted). Ditto the above.
Bill Lambert’s marvellous W£bb Valentine’s Day Massacre artwork and the fact it was driven to his home and around the landmarks of central London. Marvellous.
Dougie Allder in the dugout against Sheffield United and the dreadful aftermath.
Bigger, Gunn, Stroud and now Tim Robinson ruining games since the 70s.
DJ Campbell against Sunderland. Mayhem.
Being taken to watch Brentford training by my grandad from Alperton as a youngster.
The surge towards the front of the Royal Oak after Gary Roberts scored against Liverpool in 1983.
The fever pitch moment as we smashed Newport 4-0 in the 1985 Leyland Daf. Wembley at last.
Waiting to find out the other results from the Evening News.
Stopping in Braemar Road and looking through the gap to the green pitch inside from the hearse taking my dad to Mortlake.
Falling out with myopic managers. Not naming names but Brian Little and Peter Taylor didn’t win gracefully.
The last few years. Magical, unbelievable, pinch yourself moments that I’m sure those who have left us would have longed to see. Perhaps they have.
The many, many more, smaller but no less significant memories I have missed.