Beesotted’s Jim Levack reflects on the unveiling of the 2021/22 Premier League fixtures, with The Bees kicking off the season at home to Arsenal.
So it wasn’t a dream then. The fixtures might be out but Brentford being mentioned in the same breath as Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea still feels slightly surreal.
Like thousands of other Bees fans, it’s the little things that have jolted me though.
Seeing our badge among the logos, sudden recognition from sports news outlets who previously didn’t want to know, social media flagging upcoming dates with some of the world’s greatest clubs.
None of them should hold any fear for us of course – we have a squad, backroom team and stadium that’s been created with the Premier League very much in mind.
And we have a massive advantage over our new rivals… a secret ingredient that’s been silently growing among us as a club and a group of people over the last 120 plus years.
It’s so ingrained in our DNA that even an unforgettable win over Pep or Jurgen won’t be able to shift it.
It’s been honed in the pouring rain at Bury and a 10-goal thriller at Barnet, by no-shows and long drives home from Exeter, by Cup exits at Barrow and Gillingham, the non-stop chanting in the play-off disappointments against Wednesday and Boro, the ‘look on the bright side’ spirit as Millwall put five past us … even the warmth of the half time pies at ice cold Oldham.
There will be new Bees fans and they are more than welcome, but the true essence of the club will remain the 10,000 or so long-suffering souls whose only glimpse of success has come since Matthew Benham’s arrival.
He is one of them – one of us – and that’s a critical point. Because Brentford fans have experienced mediocrity, the desperate lows of ’67 and seeking re-election, this moment is all the sweeter.
The secret ingredient is humility – an innate awareness of where we’re at that only comes from experiencing the kind of lows most Premier League supporters will never know.
We will truly appreciate the highs because we plumbed those depths. We’ll never be those fans who call phone-ins furious that their side, third in the Premier League, lost to one near the bottom.
Expect a lot more (we shouldn’t be losing to) #teamslikeBrentford snipes as the season unfolds and we shock a few, quite possibly starting with the Friday night curtain raiser against Arsenal.
My grandad always used to recount tales of how hordes of people would walk down South Ealing Road to Griffin Park, players among them, in those halcyon 30s days.
He told me repeatedly how we always beat the Gunners who “never seemed to fancy it against us”. How I’d love him and my old man to be back with me for our first game back in the top flight.
I genuinely think we’ll beat Arteta’s side, piling pressure on the Arsenal boss. As we face established Premier League outfits, there will be an element of fear in their ranks as they have everything to lose. Every week the risk of a giant-killing.
Next season will be tough, make no mistake. But with an already strong squad that will almost certainly be strengthened further before August, there’s no reason why we can’t emulate Leeds.
Lose three on the spin and the usual naysayers who have gone quiet since the Play Off Final, will re-emerge, but then nothing will ever be quite good enough for them… and some of the most vocal critics have still not had the decency to congratulate Thomas Frank for his side’s promotion.
Perhaps it’s just that they weren’t at Stockport away?