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If the anticipated bumper crowd for Saturday’s visit of Shrewsbury are expecting to be treated to a goal-glut, perhaps they should think again as meetings between the two teams have rarely produced a murmur of excitement, let alone an avalanche of goals. The last five Griffin Park clashes have all ended in tame draws with three of them finishing scoreless, and even the game prior to that saw the Shrews take all three points with a 2-0 victory.

Brentford did manage three successive wins against the team from Shropshire in the early 1990’s but before that we need to go back to the last match of the 1974/75 campaign to review a healthy Bees win. The 74/75 season had been a miserable one. Mike Everitt had been sacked as manager in January with his replacement, John Docherty, returning to the club for the fourth time after three spells as a player – there would even be a fifth stint a decade later as Frank McLintock’s assistant.

The final day arrived with the Bees sitting in 9th place in the Fourth Division, having been elevated to that lofty position by virtue of a decent run with just two defeats in the previous 13 games. Visitors Shrewsbury, under the management of Alan Durban, sat proudly in 2nd place, having already assured themselves of promotion and boasting a magnificent away record of 10 wins and seven draws on their travels.

Docherty’s small squad was beset by injury problems – a common theme of his time in charge – and Gordon Riddick (twisted ankle), Richard Poole (ankle), Barry Salvage (hamstring), Dave Metchick and Mickey French all missed out on places in the starting line-up whilst Jackie Graham and Terry Johnson took their places although hardly fit enough to take part and Dave Simmons returned after missing seven games with an injured toe.

The situation made the victory all the more commendable, especially as Shrewsbury looked as good as their runners-up spot would have suggested. The game got underway in rigorous fashion with no hint of an end-of-season affair and produced much entertainment for the crowd who were fortunately spared a ‘centre-stage’ appearance from Welsh referee Clive Thomas, with the officious official being replaced by Tony Glasson.

In the 24th minute Shrewsbury took the lead but within three minutes Brentford were back on level terms. A ball from Roger Cross found Jackie Graham unmarked near the penalty spot and he dispatched a low drive into the net for his fifth goal of the campaign. The decider came with 20 minutes of the season remaining and it was ‘route-one’ at its finest – goalkeeper Steve Sherwood took a long kick and it dropped for Roger Cross to smash home a left-foot shot for his seventh goal in 10 matches.

And so the season ended – thankfully, in many respects, although the shoots of Docherty’s youthful team were starting to appear and none-more-so than 17-year old Nigel Smith who gave a superb display at the heart of the back four, less than two weeks after packing his school uniform away for the last time.

The traditional ‘end-of-season’ thank-you’s and acknowledgements were in evidence in the programme, with the recipients being local journalists Ernald Gifford (Brentford and Chiswick Times) and George Sands (Middlesex Chronicle – 1,073 consecutive games and still counting!), Nick Clarke and Rick Jamieson (Evening Mail) and Colin Grant (Ealing Gazette).

There was also a poignant departure from Griffin Park as press steward Bob Parkes, a former referee, retired after an astonishing 41 years in the role.

The final word came from Chairman Dan Tana, reflecting on his six-months in post and probably little realising that he would be at the helm for another seven years. He wrote a passionate programme piece setting out his plans to improve the image of Brentford on and off the pitch.

With his own Los Angeles restaurant employees sending a cheque for $500 for the purchase of two new sets of kit (for which they were promised a team photo from next season showing what their money bought!), Tana was keen to see more supporters from all groups and ages join the pledge to make Brentford a real family club, although perhaps his vision of selling out of season tickets for 1975/76 was slightly unrealistic!!

Mark Croxford