As we begin a new decade, Brentford supporters, naturally, begin to reminisce about the events of the past 10 years and the key moments that occurred during it. Naturally, some obvious examples spring to mind: Uwe Rosler’s announcement as manager; the Doncaster Penalty; Hounslow Council’s acceptance of Lionel Road; promotion to the Championship at home against Preston; the Play-Offs; Jota in the last minute; 4-1 at the Cottage; slapping Birmingham 5-0 at home… all worthwhile memories of a very successful decade. However, Cham De Silva’s moment of the decade takes place on a sunny day in East London back in March 2014 when two high-flying League One clubs battled it out for promotion to the Championship.
A quick recap: Brentford had bounced back well the season after the Doncaster Penalty debacle, strengthening well, throughout the season, by recruiting Alan McCormack, David Button, and James Tarkowski whilst bringing in talented loanees George Saville, Alan Judge and Kadeem Harris.
Leyton Orient, meanwhile, had been the surprising package of the season with Russell Slade’s tenacious side winning the first 8 games of the season, including a 2-0 win at Griffin Park. Despite a reduction in form, the O’s were still going strong into the last few months of the season. Come mid- March, they were 2nd with the Bees 1 point behind in 3rd – the stage was set for an enthralling affair.
League One, 15th March 2014
Brentford: Button; Bidwell, Craig, Tarkowski, McCormack; Saville, Douglas, Forshaw; Judge, Donaldson, Trotta
Attendance: 8,335 (2,597 Bees)
The game started with both teams having decent chances in the first half yet Orient looked more comfortable in the opening spell with their hard-working midfield supressing any space and countering Brentford attacks. Dean Cox and Kevin Lisbie went close for them, yet the Bees, Craig and McCormack in particular, remained resilient. This was typified by the intensity of the fracas after Roman Vincelot clumsily barged into Adam Forshaw. Brentford were up for a fight and would not be intimidated.
Then it happened.
Alan McCormack passed the ball onto the edge of the area, Forshaw applied a deft backheel onto the right foot of Marcello Trotta who smashed the pall past Jakupovic to the rapturous delight of over 2,500 Bees fans, who had travelled by tube, train and, even boat, to be there.
Truth be told, the next 45 mins displayed the kind of character and desire that exemplified the Brentford team that season; being able to remain resolute in the face of adversity, whilst still being dangerous.
Tarkowski’s sending off would have led to collapse and defeat in previous seasons, but Mark Warburton’s side toughed it out supremely well, with each Orient attacked repelled well by diving bodies, last-gasp headers and well-timed blocks. This period highlighted the maturity of young George Saville, who marshalled himself and others superbly in the midfield, Yet, my personal highlight was David Button’s point-blank save from Moses Odubajo 8 yards out.
Despite all this, Brentford fans continued to sing among the tension, cheering their team on in the safe knowledge that promotion away from the dreaded third division was within grasp.
Alan Judge could have won it in during added time, but his excellent strike smashed off the post, however it didn’t matter at all. Brentford had won, much to the delight of the players, coaching staff and the assorted fans.
Russell Slade’s salty post-match comments displayed more than he wanted to reveal – his side were now two points behind an excellent Brentford side who had two games in hand. The momentum had swung westwards – and he knew it.
Brentford managed to secure promotion at the penultimate home game of the season at Preston with Alan Judge (who else?) scoring the decisive penalty. Leyton Orient ended up at the Play-Off final against Rotherham yet lost on penalties despite being 2-0 up.
The real significance of that day lies in the long-term aftermath. Brentford proceeded to establish itself as a top-half club within the Championship, utilising cutting-edge analytics and scouting to be on the very cusp on the Premier League. Leyton Orient were subsequently sold to Italian businessman/ lunatic Francesco Becchetti who oversaw two relegation in three years into the Conference before selling up among fan protests and pitch invasions.
Despite our recent Championship success, the 2013/2014 League One campaign will always be the outstanding highlight of the past 10 years. A period where the club and fans were truly united in the future of Brentford Football Club both on and off the pitch, resulting in the momentous occasion witnessed by all that glorious day in East London.
What a season, what a team, what a manager and Orient away – what an afternoon.
Cham De Silva