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The Millers from Rotherham have been one of Griffin Park’s most frequent visitors in the past 40 years, making the journey down from South Yorkshire more than 20 times, and leaving with at least a share of the points on more occasions than going home empty-handed.

In truth, the vast majority of the matches between the two teams have been less than memorable events. A couple of 4-2 wins, along with a couple of 0-3 defeats – one of which prompted Ron Noades into a ‘soon-to-become-familiar’ verbal attack on Bees supporters after the game – but few encounters that truly stand out in the memory.

One game that bucked the recent trend took place back in 1974, on Monday 16th September, when a thrilling evening’s football graced Griffin Park, albeit with Brentford finishing on the wrong end of a seven-goal bonanza.

It was just the sixth match of Mike Everitt’s second season as Brentford manager and having narrowly avoided a re-election application in his first, disappointing campaign, the rookie boss was under pressure to perform better second time around. The season had started with three out of three home wins but two away defeats whilst visitors Rotherham were sitting in the top three, having dropped just one point from their opening run of matches.

Six nights earlier, Brentford had put on a brave show at Anfield when losing 1-2 to First Division leaders Liverpool in the League Cup, but this Monday evening clash produced more in the ways of thrills, spills and excitement.

Rotherham started the evening in marauding fashion, but with just four minutes gone, Gordon Riddick swung over a right-wing cross and Dave Simmons, in typical arm-flailing fashion, jumped to send his downward header into the net. Within a couple of minutes, supporters were once again on their feet as Gordon Riddick leapt high to stab in a centre from Barry Salvage, but Riddick’s high foot was deemed too high by referee Leslie Burden and the ‘goal’ was disallowed.

Simmons picked up a customary booking for dissent before the lead was doubled in the 22nd minute when Dave Metchick hit a beauty – a near-30-yard cracker – past a bemused keeper. Metchick could be a magician at times, with his quick feet and stunning array of passing showing why he had been so highly-rated in his younger days but now, at 30 years of age, moments of sheer class such as that one needed to be savoured.

A comfortable lead was quickly snatched away when Keith Lawrence blundered to give away possession in the 39th minute and, just moments later, it was all-square to leave the half-time score at two-a-piece. Four minutes into the second half, Rotherham took a 3-2 lead, but that was the signal for the ‘Griffin Park Roar’ to build up a full head of steam and, backed by a volume of support rarely heard from the terraces, the Brentford team responded in style. Storming forward with a resurgence of their play of the first period, a stunning goal brought the teams level once again.

Moving in from the right touchline, Metchick played a short pass to Paul Bence and the flame-haired full-back hit a ferocious drive from all of 30 yards. The power of the shot was enough to have taken out half a dozen supporters on the Ealing Road terrace and done the same to anyone unfortunate enough to have been in its path on the nearby streets, but the rocketed ball instead nestled in the roof of the net as Griffin Park celebrated.

With Brentford pushing for a winner, and Rotherham seemingly content to hang on for the point, the match was settled in cruel fashion in the final minute when, on a rare but lightening-paced attack, the visiting winger whipped in a cross and dozing Brentford defenders allowed the ball to be stabbed into the net by a lurking striker. It was a disappointing end to a great evening and certainly memorable for the majority of the 5,980 who had watched the dramatic evening unfurl.

It was a poignant night also for Bees legend Peter Gelson who made his last-ever appearance in a Brentford shirt. Unhappy at the manager’s criticism of him after the match, as Everitt apparently tried to protect his struggling young new signing Keith Lawrence, Gelson announced his retirement from the game within days.

Peter Gelson remembered the events of the evening well when he attended the Big Brentford Book of the Seventies launch event in 2011 whilst Paul Bence, who was also present at the launch, beamed with delight when reminded of that thunderbolt goal – a mere 37 years earlier!


Mark Croxford