It’s playoff time and Brentford prepare for Boro to come to Griffin Park in the first leg of the Championship. Billy Grant chats to Rob Nicholls (@rob_fmttm) from Fly Me To The Moon Boro fanzine (FMTTM) to see how he rates Boro’s chances of getting to Wembley … and what he thinks of Karanka’s ploy to orchestrate a meeting with Brentford in the semi-final
Boro looked at one stage they were going to get automatic promotion. Especially when you beat Norwich. Are you a bit gutted you have to fight it out in the playoffs??
Obviously we believed that night that we could go up automatically but we always knew that Bournemouth and/or Watford had to drop a point to open the door.
Obviously the Boro defeat at F*lham in the very next game was devastating but we managed to turn it round mentally in the moment of defeat. The fans started singing Que Sera … we’re going to Wembley straight after Fulham’s last second winner and that immediately switched the mood for both fans and players alike.
Boro have been known for their water-tight defence. So where did it go wrong last few months of the season?
The injury of Dani Ayala on the disgraceful pitch at Blackpool was really costly for us. Although Jonathan Woodgate did come in and do well, he didn’t have the fitness to play so many back to back games. Without the big presence of Ayala we were more vulnerable in key games.
Obviously Ayala was playing at F*lham but that was one of those games where we were pushing everyone forward and going for it.
The word on the street (or according to an article in the Teesside Gazette ) is Aitor told the team to slow the game down and go for a 4th place finish so that Boro could meet Brentford. Why do you think this is??
That is dangerous talk I know. I don’t want to fan any flames here. And I don’t know if it is true because the big centre back Ayala went forward for a late, late corner.
But traditionally we have an appalling record at Portman Road. It would be more a case of wanting to avoid Ipswich than wanting to play Brentford.
But yes we did win twice against you this season. We are hoping to do the same again but we are under no illusions we know that it will be very difficult.
Boro beat us 4-0 in September when we were rubbish and 1-0 in January when we were very good but unlucky. How do you think you will approach this game?
The September game was one of the most one sided affairs of the season but it is a real credit to your manager and players the way you bounced back. I think you obviously learned a lot from that defeat and rather than it affecting you negatively, it seemed to be a spur to drive you onwards and upwards.
The Griffin Park game was a phenomenally tight encounter and we knew we rode our luck on the way to digging out that narrow victory.
I imagine we will play it tight again in the away leg and try to hit you on the break with the pace and power play of Adomah and Bamford key to this. Friend, available again after suspension, will again be our weapon from left back and if he starts, Lee Tomlin will look to pull the strings and pick the passes to put Bamford in on goal.
We will have to be far tighter on your midfield and not allow your forwards as much room as we did last time at Griffin Park. The speedy interplay and non-stop movement had Kenneth Omeruo in particular all over the place.
Ayala and Gibson should forge a far tighter centre half pairing with the pace and experience not to lunge in.
Boro fans seemed to really enjoy their time in Brentford. You’ve been to clubs up and down the country, what made the Bees trip better than most????
Oh yes we did enjoy Griffin Park (as you can see from the video above). Obviously it is always good visiting new grounds and it was a new venue for many fans. Most fans these days appreciate going back to old style grounds, tight to the pitch, where you are right in amongst the action and especially with the rare privilege of being able to stand.
But there was a real welcome from the Brentford fans that you don’t find too often these days. And especially not from a big city club.
Brentford has almost a big village or small town vibe to it. Hopefully Middlesbrough does as well to some extent. All those excellent pubs around a traditional football ground with a passionate, knowledgable and yet very friendly and welcoming set of fans made the Brentford trip a memorable one (ed – we look forward to the return match and he microbrewery tour).
It is the way football should be, I think.
Adam Forshaw, against all the odds ,now gets to play against his ex-team mates that he had no idea would be in the playoffs come June. How has he been for you since he joined from the Titanic that is Wigan?
Forshaw made his debut back at Griffin Park. Since then he has been in and out- largely a back-up to tried and tested engine room Leadbitter and Clayton. He even looks like Adam Clayton now with beard and fair hair.
His work rate is excellent and all we need now is to see him sticking the ball in the back of the net.
Could he break that duck against his old team?
It’s gonna be tight but if you had to call a result, what do you reckon?
It is a long time since we have competed in a play-off. Well over 20 years. So most fans have not experienced the white knuckle ride before. Our record is won one lost one and the way we gained victory first time round in 1988 was through the away goal – that time against Bradford at Valley Parade.
We have to make home advantage last count and so keep it very tight at Griffin Park and not allow you to make any inroads.
My prediction is 1-1 on Friday and then hopefully we beat you by the odd goal 2-1 at home.
It is going to be tense. And hopefully we avoid any penalty nonsense, I am sure you have had quite enough of that kind of drama in your play off history.
Drinking in Brentford
For Middlesbrough fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming. Colours are fine and there is no ‘bouncer culture’ on the doors of our boozers – not yet anyway. All fans are welcome and most fans usually cite Brentford as their favourite away-day which we’re quite proud of.
As is etched in common folklore , there were four pubs around the ground until a few weeks ago – unfortunately one closed down to leave only three now. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option (The Royal Oak was the one that closed down).
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) include The Globe (Windmill Rd) which is the Beesotted fanzine main pub – a very friendly pub indeed. The other boozer is The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-frienly pubs and 30 seconds walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Most Boro fans will remember they had one hell of a party before and after the match in both these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave – 1 minute walk from the tube) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route on the Northfields pub crawl).
Easily the best way to Brentford is to get the Victoria line from Euston to Green Park and the Piccadilly line from Green Park to either Northfields or South Ealing (35 mins). Northfields is preferred by fans in the know as it has a decent pub crawl run on the way to the ground (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe). South Ealing has one posh pub en route that doesn’t really like football fans so we won’t even give it a mention here. It’s 20 mins walk from either South Ealing OR Northfields to the ground or you can get the E2 bus from Northfields or 65 bus from South Ealing for the short 5 minute journey.
Some fans prefer to take the tube to Vauxhall then get the overground to Brentford mainline station. Depending on your connection time, this could be a slightly longer route as you could be waiting for up to 15 mins for a train and the train takes 26 mins to Brentford. Including your connection from Kings Cross this journey could take you the best part of an hour as opposed to under 40 minutes (plus the journey to the ground).
If you do take this route, there is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … er … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. Great views over The Thames. It’s around 15 mins walk to the ground from here.
There are loads more too. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.