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Whether your support of Brentford Football Club was forged by simply supporting your local team… has been inherited as part of your family traditions… or is really random and doesn’t quite make sense to even yourself… that shared collective pride is something that often binds us all together through thick and thin… However, there are some stories of how Brentford became engrained into one’s life that are truly stand-out and, over the past thirty years, we have been fortunate enough to share many through the pages Beesotted or online.

One such gob-smacking story was unearthed this week when life-long Bees fan, Ralph Collins, pre-ordered the updated Griffin Park book, and requested some extra names to appear in the ‘Brentford Fan Roll Of Honour’ pages that will appear with the 420-page hardback books… Ralph mentioned that his father’s support had started when Brentford toured Nazi Germany in 1937, and subsequently, has been passed down through the generations that have followed. Obviously, I asked for some more information on what sounded a fascinating tale, and this is what Ralph came back with.

My father was born in Hamburg in 1923, he was a German Jew.
In 1938, at the age of 15, his parents managed to secure a passage for him to England on the Kinder Transport to escape the Holocaust.
Shortly afterwards his father passed away from a heart attack and we understand that my grandmother was murdered in the Birkenau Concentration Camp.
Before the war, when Brentford was a big club in England, they toured Germany and one of the matches they played was against Hamburg SV.

On his arrival in England my father initially worked on a chicken farm but, as he became older, he was interned to Canada.
Declared not to be any threat, he returned to England and joined the British Army and volunteered for the Commandos.
With everything lost in Germany, he remained in England and never forgot about Brentford.
I believe my first visit was in early 1962, the season we were relegated to Division Four.

 Sadly as my dad passed away, very suddenly, of a heart attach in 1973, aged just 50,
I have many, many questions that must remain unanswered.
Your book offers me a very special opportunity to remember him for my daughter and my, yet to be born, grandson.

 Ralph Collins

I think you’ll agree, that is a very emotional and special series of events, and it is amazing that, all these years later, the name of Francis Peter Collins (pictured to the right of his sister and father in 1932) will be encapsulated in the updated Griffin Park book alongside that of his Brentford-supporting decendants.

Brentford’s tour to Germany in May 1937 saw them play four matches… the Bees beating HSV 3-0 in Hamburg, Herta BSC 4-0 in Berlin, drawing 2-2 with FC Nurnburg in Nurnburg, before losing 4-0 to Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen… however the tour also marked one of the most infamous moment’s in the club’s history, when the Bees team agreed to the host’s request of performing the Nazi salute during the German national anthem. 

Legendary Brentford manager, Harry Curtis, later said that he felt his side had been duped into making the salute, as when the English anthem was played after the Germans’, the opposition players continued their arm-raised salute, which he felt was unsporting. He also commented of the tour, “Looking back, I must say that the Germans stressed it on us the they did not want war with England. Yet it was all decent, for they must have realised that they were preparing once again to set Europe alight.. But little did anyone now at the time, that the controversial Brentford tour would create a chain reaction that continues more than 80 years later.

There has been a wonderful response by Brentford fans wanting to get their name in the updated Griffin Park book, so I have extended the deadline for another week as demand hasn’t tailed off and it is important to allow as many as possible to get their name, or that of a family member or loved one, included in the Roll of Honour. For more information, to pre-order, or to get your name/s in the book, just click here.

David Lane