Many Brentford fans have been left devastated that club stalwart, Sam Saunders, has left the Bees to go to Wycombe Wanderers. Gemma Teale is one of his fans – and gives a warm reflection on a player who touched her heart during his time at Griffin Park.

Its been a couple of days now since Sam left Brentford for Wycombe and there’s a lot of love for Sam Saunders knocking about at the moment, mostly focused on his manner, his looks, his shenanigans, free kicks from ‘Saunders territory’ and of course that song…

He is more than those things though, and more than just a good player whose skills are now better suited to fighting for promotion from League Two then consolidating in the Championship.

One of the things that has been bothering me for most of this season, and some of last, is the lack of spirit and the outright lack of character in the current squad. Somewhere we changed from going a goal down being the catalyst for an all-but-certain come back to all-but-certain defeat.

I’ve heard all the arguments about talent trumping effort, but for me, any athlete needs an inner steel, a never say die attitude, a way to keep going, to inspire. Sam has this in spades, and a huge personality to boot.

Sam is one of those players that lifts a team when he plays. Even if he, himself, isn’t the best player on the pitch, he bring the performance of the whole team up. He’s one of the players most responsible for the “never say die” attitude of the late League One / early Championship side – his injury just before the end of the “penalty” season that coincided (and arguably caused) with the loss of form and eventual heartbreak.

We like to think that everything new is better in football, and in life, and I think Sam always suffered in the eyes of managers and fans from being an ‘Andy Scott’ player rather than riding in on the unicorn of data. It’s as if everyone thought, as a club, we just had to be better than needing a player from that era – but Sam proved his critics wrong (and me right haha) over and over.

We certainly haven’t managed to replace his talent in dead-ball situations even now, and one of my favourite memories of Sam is him stood “warming up” at the corner flag, coaching his team mates.

Lots of things have changed since the Scott era, and even the Rosler and Warburton teams. I’m not going to claim Sam Saunders is a better player than Josh McEachran, or any of the others (well, not in writing anyway), but I do believe as a club, and a squad, Brentford will be much poorer for his loss.

So thanks Sam – for the goals and laughs – and the joy and for never giving up. Thanks for signing my shirt when we went up (and for the kiss!).

Good luck with the Bee team at Wycombe. We will miss you, and we should.

Gemma Teale