Rotherham United are our first opponents in what is likely to be Brentford’s final full season at Griffin Park, after a one-year absence from our fixture list.
The Millers’ three-year stay in the Championship ended in ignominious fashion two seasons ago as they crashed back into League One after finishing 19 points adrift at the bottom of the table.
At least they avoided having the worst-ever Football League season since the 24-team divisions were introduced in 1988, but they only won five games all campaign – one inevitably against us – conceded 98 goals, had a goal difference of -58 and ended up 28 points away from safety.
That makes last season’s immediate promotion all the more impressive as Rotherham finished fourth in League One, having won more than half of their games, making the play-offs by a comfortable 11 points.
In the semi-finals, they beat Scunthorpe 4-2 on aggregate, before a 2-1 extra-time win over Shrewsbury returned them to the Championship at the first time of asking.
BEES’ FIRST DAY BLUES
Brentford are well overdue a win on the first day of the season. The last time we opened our account with three points was in the 2011/12 season – almost exactly seven years ago to the day on Saturday – when we beat Yeovil 2-0 in League One with a goal in each half from Gary Alexander, from the penalty spot, and Shay Logan.
Our opening day results since then:
2012/13 – League One – Bury 0-0 Brentford
2013/14 – League One – Port Vale 1-1 Brentford (Logan)
2014/15 – Championship – Brentford (Smith) 1-1 Charlton
2015/16 – Championship – Brentford (Gray, Tarkowski) 2-2 Ipswich
2016/17 – Championship – Huddersfield 2-1 Brentford (Yennaris)
2017/18 – Championship – Sheffield United 1-0 Brentford
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Former Rotherham midfielder Paul Warne took temporary charge of the side when Kenny Jackett left in November 2016 and was given the job until the end of the season the following January.
Although he could not keep the Millers in the Championship, he was appointed as full-time manager in early April, as soon as the Millers had been relegated, on a one-year rolling contract.
And he rewarded the faith shown in him by chairman Tony Stewart by leading Rotherham to immediate promotion this May – signing a new three-year contract the following month.
On agreeing the long-term deal, he said: “When myself and my assistant Richie Barker took over, we wanted to leave a legacy and leave the club in better condition than when we got it.”
Warne made nearly 300 appearances for the Millers over two spells at the club, also playing for Wigan, Oldham and Yeovil, and joined Rotherham’s coaching staff when he retired from playing in 2012.
A year later, he was given a testimonial to recognise his 10 years’ service to the club.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
The last eight matches between Brentford and Rotherham have ended in a positive result for one team or the other.
The Millers did the double over us as both sides won promotion from League one in 2013/14 – winning 1-0 at Griffin Park and then 3-0 on our first visit to the New York Stadium.
We hold the upper hand in our six Championship meetings, with four wins to the Millers’ two.
We did the double in 2014/15 as goals from Andre Gray and Nick Proschwitz – his only league strike for the Bees – gave us a 2-0 win in south Yorkshire in the game where Scott Hogan picked up his horrific injury, while a second half Stuart Dallas strike settled things in TW8.
Both games ended 2-1 to the home team in 2015/16. An Alan Judge double, either side of a sensational Joe Mattock strike, gave us three points, while in the return, Matt Derbyshire and Danny Ward cancelled out another Judge strike to give United their first goals and first win under new manager Neil Warnock.
Two more home wins followed the next season.
Ward was again on target with the only goal to give Rotherham their first win of the season at the third attempt.
The Millers looked set to pick up a priceless point in the January return before Jota’s first hat-trick for the Bees and some late drama earned us a 4-2 win. Jota put us ahead in the first half but Aimen Belaid equalised midway through the second. Nico Yennaris restored our lead but Anthony Forde levelled again in the 87th minute, only for Jota to steal the show, and the points, with a penalty in the second minute of stoppage-time and a clinching goal in the fifth.
BBC Radio Sheffield commentator Rob Staton tells us how the Millers bounced back last season, summarises their summer transfer activity and looks at the style of play Bees fans can expect to see from our visitors on Saturday
Q – Last season was quite a transformation on the previous season’s comprehensive relegation. What did Paul Warne do to turn things around?
A – He did an incredible job, alongside his staff. They completely changed the culture, removed a losing habit and got people believing again. That achievement can’t be underestimated. And they deserved to go up.
Q – The Millers were the third highest scorers in League One, even though the prolific Kieffer Moore left after Christmas. Eight other players scored five or more league goals, so how does the style of play lead to goals being spread around the team?
A – Last season they really attacked teams. We’ll see if they’re as bold this year in the Championship. They might pick their moments for that. But there wasn’t any sitting back and looking to win 1-0. They attacked in numbers and looked to play with intensity and tempo. It led to a number of chances created. It also helps that the group really buy in to this style.
Q – What are the feelings about how this season will go?
A – Clearly it’s a very tough league and they will do well to stay up. That said, I wouldn’t bet against this group or this manager. They might surprise a few people.
Q – What summer transfer activity has there been and has it strengthened or weakened the squad?
A – They’ve not lost any key players other than perhaps they’ve (so far) been unable to bring back successful loan player Richie Towell from Reading. Aside from that they’ve added a decent collection. I liked the look of Sean Raggett when he played at Lincoln. He’s joined on loan from Norwich. Getting Marek Rodak back from Fulham was key.
Q – What should Brentford fans expect to see from Rotherham on Saturday?
A – A bunch of honest lads giving their all. We’ll see if that’s enough on the day but it won’t be for a lack of effort.
Q – How do you think the Bees will do this season?
A – I suspect they’ll be right up there. You know what you’re going to get from Dean Smith and this Brentford team. They’ll be a threat.
Q – Can you give me a possible Millers starting line-up and formation?
A – 4-4-1-1 (right to left)
Jones Raggett Wood Mattock
Taylor Palmer Vaulks Williams
“If I could be granted one thing this season”
“That we not only retained our Championship status but did a “Brentford” and did so comfortably.”
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Rotherham fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for it’s four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.
There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.
The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.
Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.
Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.
This is relatively straightforward but can actually take longer than if you get the tube because of waiting times (overground trains come every 15 mins and the journey from Vauxhall or Waterloo to Brentford is 30 minutes on the fast train – 51 mins on the slow train – so you could find it takes you over an hour including the journey from King’s Cross/Euston/Paddington).
Many fans choose the tube over the overground. It’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Brentford from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford
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