Something strange has just dawned on me. I started in Braemar Road as a kid with my dad, before progressing to the back of the wonderful old Royal Oak stand as a wide-eyed schoolkid. Then I dabbled with the half-way line on the New Road and went back to the new Wendy House stand before making the Ealing Road end my final GP home… probably.
So, I’ve sat or stood in every part of the ground over the last 40-plus years and, during that time, stood with some fantastic and very varied characters, all with one common love. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a retinue of blokes – sorry to say no ladies, but not through any conscious ousting – who all bring something to the party.
They’re a mixed bunch of professionals, some arrive on Tuesday nights in suits, plus the plumber we dubbed Loadsamoney, after the Harry Enfield character, who now sits in Braemar Road. He and I were born on the same day – not that you’d know it. I have hair and he doesn’t – and we always have a bit of banter. He’s a top bloke. But the people I see every home game, and many away, got me thinking about the different brackets they all fall into and wondering if, around the ground, there are similar types that we all know, love and occasionally hate. See if you recognise any – the descriptions that follow are not based on any people living or attending Brentford games… oh alright, they might be.
Sees his job as the main cheerleader for the team and will become aggressive with anyone he feels is not pulling their weight, despite the fact he often misses games. He has a reputation as a Big Game Hunter, the type who’ll go missing for Yeovil at home but will reappear when Fulham make the short trip across town. The shouter is often a mine of ill-informed gossip, about eight per cent of which has any foundation in fact. He uses the negative rumours to fuel his rage at any opposition player who wastes time, referees who fail to give Brentford home advantage and is usually the loudest of the pack.
THE LAZY LOCAL
Lives three minutes walk from the ground but sometimes “can’t be arsed” to attend, especially on a Tuesday night when the demands of other parts of his life exert their pull. Although initially reluctant to reveal why he was not, for example, at Rochdale at home, his angry protestations when confronted about going to yoga have subsided and he now revels in the weirdness of it. He is the eccentric in the pack, usually older than the rest and widely known for his strong views on where the club is going wrong. Liked by the group, but not on long away journeys.
THE MISERABLE GIT
These characters usually form clusters of two or three and stand together, feeding off each others’ negativity. Can often be heard muttering after one misplaced pass “Do you know what Dave, they don’t wanna go up” or “it was never like this with O’Mara under Blunstone” etc. The characters appear genuinely delighted when things are not going well at the club, and are currently experiencing a living hell with Brentford playing great football in the Championship. When that happens they go silent, but don’t worry, the first hint of a downturn, however temporary, and you will hear them. These fans are capable of turning the greatest positive into a negative. The signing of Messi would be heralded with “yeah, that’s the end of the strict wage structure. It will end in tears, you mark my words”. The miserable gits were present at the first game back in the Championship, even before kick off. After being stopped by the ticket stazi between the Braemar forecourt and Ealing Road and then facing a queue for the toilet, he uttered the immortal words “if it’s gonna be like this every week, I’d sooner be back in League One”.
This supporter usually prefers to stand and makes his presence known in moments of high tension or high drama. Always male, he is capable of producing a ‘Millwall Circle’, the infamous no-man’s land once created by travelling Lions fans in the Royal Oak end, when they noisily announced their presence five minutes before kick off. The Silent Evacuator works his magic through the power of food and an extremely poor digestive system which allows noxious gas to send fellow fans within a two metre radius into coordinated groans of disgust at the methane mayhem that ensues. Despite a chorus of “Oh my god, who was that?” the SE remains defiantly undercover, never ever revealing his identity. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, or Jack the Ripper, he will take his secret to the grave.
Quiet, reserved, but knowledgeable about the game, you’ll always find Mr Calm in the midst of the group. He says little, but in times of high tension, is the epitome of coolness. He’s usually played the game to a decent level and knows his stuff, and rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. He comes into his own in penalty shoot outs and last minute lock-outs, when less confident members of the group look to home for reassurance. Just a knowing nod or a barely discernible “we’ll be fine” and he retreats back into the shadows. Even when things go wrong, he is measured and calm and the perfect antidote to the often hysterical shouter.
That’s just five of the crew, but there are many more ‘types’. Please share your additions by adding a comment below this article, e-mailing email@example.com or Tweet @beesotted and we’ll add them to The Who’s Who Of Griffin Park.
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