As all Brentford fans will be aware, and the wider football world will awaken to as the months tick past, this time next year our club, and especially our supporters, will all be bracing ourselves for a real shock to the system.
I really don’t think it is an exaggeration, or an overly dramatic parallel to make, but leaving Griffin Park is going to represent a life-changing moment… maybe even life-defining for some of us. Many among our flock are long in the tooth enough to have spent half a century or more watching their football at our proud old stadium, and the loss of our church will be akin to mourning a loved one. And I don’t use these religious analogies lightly either.
I won’t expand upon this spiritual sentiment, or profound sense of belonging, to anyone who does not already understand – but for those that do, the sound of the whistle blowing for the final time, or the click of the last person to push their way through the antique turnstiles, or the vision of the final blubbering Bee being ushered out before the gates close for the last time – will be deeply traumatic. Tears will be shed, without a doubt, and a tangible, mortal moment will be shared.
Griffin Park may have outlived several generations of Brentford supporters, however, time stops for no man, woman or child, that is for sure… things move on… progress must be made… evolution cannot be stopped. Griffin Park will be no more.
But as much as we must look forward and be hopeful for a bright, long future, equally, we must never forget.
One of my proudest moments as a Brentford fan was co-producing the Griffin Park book (if you’ve not go one yet click the link at the top of the page or here) with my good friend Mark Croxford. The project allowed us to sieve back through time and re-live some of the long-forgotten, or overlooked, significant moments in the ground’s life. And if I drop dead tomorrow, then that is my legacy. One that I’m proud of.
Because, even if I do say so myself, the pages we crafted are magnificent, and packed full of love for those who came before us. The photos and the stories certainly bring the journey back to life, and help us all revisit days gone by…. underlining that the club meant as much to the B’s and Bees fans of yesteryear every bit as much as the club does today. That’s something else we must not forget. Brentford Football Club is not all about the here and now, it is about the back then, too.
Thinking of Griffin Park as a living, breathing organism helps I feel. As much as we’d love to stay here forever, and let the modern world carry on around us in blissful denial, our stadium is on its last legs, and you can’t deny otherwise. It’s not quite at the Dignitas stage, admittedly, and if we wanted to play lower or non-League football forever, perhaps we could stay, but that’s not a wise thing to do any longer.
So, am I excited about the future? Well, I’m not sure quite yet. I still can’t picture myself sat, or standing safely, in the West Stand Lionel Road, and I’m usually quite good at imagining situations.
I’ll be there, like most of you, I have no doubt, but I’m not looking forward to this time next year.
Not one little bit… are you?
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