So Brentford have got just one game left in this fabulous season in League One, at home to relegated Stevenage on Saturday at Fortress Griffin Park.
We’ve sometimes used fixtures like this to blood the youngsters, and no doubt the likes of Charlie Adams and Josh Clarke will fancy some pitch time at the weekend. I can remember another youngster breaking into the first team squad some 14 years ago – a sparrow-like Irish centre forward nicknamed “Shearer” – Kevin O’Connor
Kev’s debut for Brentford came in 2000 when he received five minutes of senior football in the trophy away at Exeter and it wasn’t until February 2001 that he first found the Onion Bag against Bristol City. He’s scored 44 goals in total for The Bees, many from the penalty spot, in a career which now spans 499 appearances. Not out.
My personal favorite goal from Kev came in August 2004, when against a stubborn and time-wasting Wrexham team he volleyed home from the edge of the box in the 85th minute to seal a 1-0 win. Happy days.
To say that Kev has been a loyal servant to the club simply doesn’t do him justice. He’s played in every position except goalkeeper without letting the team down with arguably his best performances coming at right back or as a holding midfielder. He’s not a shouter or a brawler but he goes about his job with a steely determination hidden by his quiet and professional demeanour.
When we needed a centre back in the playoffs last season up stepped Kev to deliver us safely to Wembley in the absence of the banned Tony Craig. It didn’t massively surprise me – he’d put in a terrific performance at centre back in a makeshift back four at MK Dons a few seasons before in a game where Andy Myers was sent off early for the Bees.
It is fair to say that Kev’s abilities have matched Brentford’s over the years – he has never shone so brightly that he’s been offered big money elsewhere, and his form has never faltered so badly that he’s been deemed surplus to requirements. Which has suited us and has suited him. A one man club in this post Bosman era. A Brentford stalwart. A club legend. One of our own.
Kev received a fantastic ovation at MK Dons on Easter Monday and I’m sure he’ll receive another at Griffin Park on Saturday when he should make his 500th appearance. I’ll be singing my heart out for him and I hope you do too. He deserves it.
This isn’t the final chapter, incidentally. Kev has signed on again for next season in the Championship – it’s rumoured too that he might start to use his experience and dressing room influence in a coaching capacity. But if he’s called upon by the first team, he will give his all.
Like he always does.