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As Brentford play their first match in from of fans at New Griffin Park at Lionel Road, Jim Levack pays tribute to well respected long-serving local reporter Ken Goldman who would have loved to have been in the ground today but sadly was laid to rest in late October – just over one month before the big opening day. 

Whenever a referee had a stinker at Griffin Park you could bet your life that there’d be one man who’d defend him to the hilt.

In fact it became something of a standing joke between myself and Ken Goldman that he’d diligently defend almost every seemingly indefensible decision.

But then Ken, who sadly left us earlier this month, was a staunch advocate of seeing the beautiful game played to the letter of the law.

“But what about common sense?” I’d regularly bleat after seeing yet another atrocious decision potentially cost our beloved Bees the points.

To which he’s steadfastly point to law 27, subsection 4a which dictates clearly that the referee had in fact got his decision spot on.


Ken Goldman, Bob Wilson and co

It’s probably quite apt that the last time I saw Ken, a gentle man in every sense, we disagreed about some decision or other. He almost expected and looked forward to it in the post-match press conferences.

The fact that he did it with a twinkle in his eye suggested he loved a bit of verbal banter… and he knew I was always happy to oblige.

Ken Goldman with son and daughter Danny and Emma

So much so that in some games where the official had failed to get a single thing right, he’d turn to me as I tapped out my copy and cheekily offer “ref had a good game today Jim”.

I’d seen Ken, who sadly passed away at the age of 81, for many years but – like many of us do with people we see each day – maybe took him for granted.

I knew he’d been a prominent figure in local football and refereeing circles – hence his defence of the art – but the full extent only emerged with his passing.

The Times Chief Football Writer Henry Winter tweeted “If ever a ref pulled out late in press games, Ken would always drop everything and rush to ref us, Ken was a good man, passionate about football. Many great chats with him down the years + couple of (deserved) bookings.

London sports journalist Tony Incenzo broke the sad news and described him simply as “a great football man”, knowledgeable in the intricacies of the game.

Always ready to offer his observations about Brentford’s formation or tactical changes, he was a student of the finer details of the game, often seeing minute details no one else had.


Ken Goldman and grandson

Such a shame then that he didn’t see the next chapter of the club he loved unfold at the new stadium.

But rest assured whenever a referee makes an absolute howler of a decision I’ll smile… and think of Ken. Defending him to the last.

Rest in peace Ken. You were one of football’s truly passionate journalists

Jim Levack