Beesotted contributor SavvyBee pays tribute to the new Brentford greats… The Class of 2013/14.
Younger readers may wonder who Bill Axbey is. You know his name from the New Road stand but don’t know in what position he played for Brentford or quite when he was doing his thing for the bees. Was he in the 30s team that great grandad used to go on about? Well, actually he never played for Brentford, he was one of us, a life-long Brentford fan who managed to reach his 102nd birthday before passing on. A regular at Brentford for more years than anyone can imagine he witnessed the glory, glory years of the late 1930s when we were running Arsenal ragged at the top of Division One.
What I always admired Bill for, and was slightly jealous of, was the way he could reel off the names of that side, without even thinking, like a poem he was forced to recite at school and would never be able to forget. If you asked him who else was in the squad he would feign deafness and recount the eleven again. Of course, that was the old days when you had tiny squads and you basically play your best eleven week in week out.
All generations have their favourite time to be a Brentford fan. Here at Beesotted we are no different but there are key moments which become so legendary that the team that achieves something extraordinary crosses generations. The 1992 promotion team is one of those. People who were 14 in 1992 and people who were 60 at that time will all look on that side as a legendary one. Unfortunately, my memory isn’t as good as Bill Axbey’s and reeling off that eleven isn’t as easy as I once thought it was.
My excuse is that we would have had more of a squad than in the 1930s and by the 1990s players came and went a little more quickly. Loan players don’t help trying to pin down a particular team either. In my mind the team was: Benstead; Statham, Bates, Millen, Evans; Ratcliffe, Manuel, Gayle, Smillie; Blissett, Holdsworth. I know there were others, and they may even have played more games than those above but that’s the team I’ll be recounting when I’m 102 and no one will be bothered if I’m right or wrong they’ll just be impressed that I was there and can reel off 11 names.
In case you missed it, Good Friday 2014 saw another Bees side gain promotion to the second tier and I think we should nail down the eleven that today’s teenagers will be recounting in the year 2100. Button; McCormack, Craig, Dean, Bidwell; Forshaw, Douglas, Saville, Judge; Trotta, Donaldson. Unfair on some, I’m sure, but you can only have eleven legends at a time and why not have another eleven in a couple of years time led by Tarkowski, you know, the team that beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final.