BillytheBee recalls the day he picked up a shovel to clear snow off the pitch … Terry Hurlock wasn’t happy
It was 1981 – schooldays. Brentford had put out a call for fans to clear the Griffin Park pitch to try and get (I think it was) the Colchester FA cup game on. I remember myself and my best mate at the time Anthony ‘Plastic Tash’ Rolfe strolling down to the ground with our shovels. As opposed to the 2013 effort against Tranmere, there were literally a handful of fans who could be bothered to turn up (I think it was me, Anthony and one other) to clear the snow. Despite our gallant efforts, the game was called off. Myself and the plastic Tash were gutted.
Bitten by the snowplough bug, a few weeks later just after Xmas, Brentford had an away game against Millwall. They put a call out on LBC for fans to come down and help clear the pitch of snow in return for free tickets. Myself and Anthony (Tash) were potty for it jumping on the tube with our shovels and making our way down to Cold Blow Lane. Before the match we popped into another best mate’s house, Brentford fan Paul Cossell. By mere co-incidence he lived in Jerningham Rd, New Cross .. Directly opposite New Cross station. We tried to coerce him to come and join us in the shovelling marathon. Being tucked up at home with his girlfriend (now wife) and with his mother out of the house for the afternoon, he firmly placed his priorities as sex-over-football (much to our disgust) so he very kindly sorted us out a cup of tea before sending us on our way.
Myself and Tash turned up at the stadium, the only two Brentford fans amongst a bevee of Millwall fans with shovels, and we set off trying to clear a thick layer of snow from the ground. A few hours of shovelling away …. excitement!!!! The players had arrived to inspect the pitch. I distinctly remember Chris Kamara and Terry Hurlock walking onto the pitch together and We needed to proudly let them know how two loyal fans has trekked across London with their shovels to ensure that the Bees game was in. I called over to them both. “Hey. We’re Brentford fans. We came down with our shovels to make sure that the game was gonna definitely be on” expecting to get a warm thank you. Instead, they both looked at myself and Tash screwfaced and said “Why the fuck would you want to do that for?” They clearly had their afternoon already plotted up in the boozer in front of a cozy log fire and were unimpressed our efforts. They then both did an about-turn and marched off into the tunnel.
As it goes, our efforts didn’t go unabated. The game passed the pitch inspection and Brentford won 1.0 with a late goal from Gary Roberts. We negotiated our way back through the dark dangerous New Cross streets back to West London with smiles on our faces but I will never forget the rollicking that myself and my mate received from Kamara and Hurlock that day. Being morally scarred, I’ve never picked up a shovel since (that’s my excuse anyway).
To be fair to Chris Kamara, he never held that bleak day at Cold Blow Lane against me as he invited me as his guest to the 1996 league 1 playoff final when he was manager of Bradford City and we’ve remained in touch ever since. As for Anthony Rolfe, a few years later he switched allegiances to Chelsea and we fell out of touch. The last time I saw him was behind the goal in Turin at the England v Germany World Cup semi-final at Italia 90. Which makes me think …. I wonder if he’s one of those Chelsea fans posing as Brentford fans tying to get tickets? In fact … maybe he dusted his shovel off and is one of the hardy mob who cleared the Griffin Park pitch to get a Tranmere ticket stub and gain priority for the Chelsea game.