Beesotted’s Condorman fondly remembers a long haired beast:
Christian Hargreaves only graced the red and white of Brentford for one season but for some reason he has stuck indelibly in my memory – and probably in my heart too.He was brought to Griffin Park at the ripe old age of 32 as an aggressive central midfielder (having started his career as a striker at Grimsby Town some 15 years before) and formed an experienced, if sometimes knackered, partnership with fellow veteran Stuart Talbot.The 2004/2005 season ultimately ended in play off disappointment but Hargreaves’ wholehearted displays in the centre of the park have been rarely mirrored since by those in possession of a starting berth.
In my eyes he had a little bit of everything – he could pass and head the ball, he could get stuck in, motor around the pitch and even score the occasional goal. A complete player in many ways – albeit one who’s body was starting to fail a bit off the pitch (that said, he kept playing pro football for another five seasons after leaving Brentford).
Hargreaves has put pen to paper to write a book called “Where’s Your Caravan” – the title a reference both to his long hair and his slightly nomadic existence across a plethora of clubs. He played for ten in total and still looks out for each of their results to this day.
The book reveals him as a decent bloke who acknowledges wasting some of his talent as a youngster but striving to put in every ounce of effort he could on and off the pitch towards the end of his career – that was certainly the case at Brentford.
Hargreaves had actually signed a two year deal at The Bees but begged Martin Allen to let him go a year early – his commute to training every day coupled with our physical training regime and playing style at the time was taking it’s toll on his body.
He also wasn’t helped during the season by a broken toe – which was made worse at the Christmas Party when a certain Mr Allen chased him round various tables Benny Hill style before catching him and giving the toe a great big squeeze – which later led to septicaemia.
It’s a shame that the ‘Hairman’ didn’t come to West London any earlier in his career because his will to win coupled with genuine footballing ability would have surely embedded him into a lot more hearts than just mine. He says in his book “I only have good things to say about Brentford – it is a tremendous club with great fans”.
After retiring in 2010, Hargreaves looked for a break in football management but it never came. If you are ever in Sidmouth then look out for his sports shop – Chris Hargreaves’ Sports Republic – where he might just be willing to tell a couple more stories about life under Martin Allen that didn’t quite make the paperback…