I’m glad I’ve never been a goalkeeper defending the Ealing Road goal; that sun must play havoc with your eyes. On Saturday I decided to take a rare place on the BIAS Terrace and began squinting through my £1 Primani sunglasses. As I always either lose or sit on them, my expenditure on such items is always more David Webb than Matthew Benham.
Thankfully, my viewing situation was improved by the help of an impromptu sun visor. The brilliant Beesotted #RussellSladeCup cut out I had been given and brought round to the stand, fitted snugly onto my own Sladesque slaphead. Sticking to the skin in the relative early May heat, it soon became my very own #RussellSladeCAP. I probably looked slightly odd but was perfectly happy leaving it on throughout the first half which saw the Bees certainly look a better footballing side than Westley’s steely, yet styleless, Stevenage.
THIS weird head attire, coupled with the fact I had decided to introduce myself to Billy the Bee during a lull in play, possibly caused the video maker extraordinaire to head my way for a half-time interview. I found it funny that, not having been asked to record my views since Eric White interviewed my 10 year old self at the 1982 BFC Open Day, interviews were now like Adam Forshaw adorned 65s. You wait thirty plus years for one then two turn up together.
My day at Griffin Park had begun by taking up an invite to say a few words on Bees Player. The professionalism of the guys and girls up in Braemar D Block, meant by the time I got up there, saying a proper hello was difficult. It’s hard to introduce yourself when everyone else is wearing headphones and broadcasting to exiled, or exxxxx, Bees. It was a real joy to be able to share personal opinions with Luis Melville, Mark Burridge, Mick Cabble and Natalie Sawyer.
Particularly humbling was following Penny O’Connor in saying a few words about her husband on the day he would surely go on to play his 500th game for the Bees. When you read or listen to all the tributes, you get a feel for how much he is respected by those who know him so much more than I do. As kick-off drew closer, I was pleased I felt I hadn’t embarrassed myself too much with my answers and was grateful to have been able to plug my football inspired novel ‘PENALTIES’. At just £1.99 and currently exclusively to Amazon Kindle, I can never pass up any opportunity to tell people about the story which has already got a couple of decent reviews http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00FZ8MKYQ.
Sorry got carried away. Anyway, I agreed to respond to Billy’s questions and soon, after a tiny bit of shuffling about due to that sun, we were ready to go. As someone who nowadays doesn’t get to Griffin Park as much as I used to, these vids are a must watch for me to see the emotions of the fans actually at games. I momentarily thought of Bees supporters I used to come to games with who now live in far off locations like Cumbria and various States of America. They’d be able to get my insight of what was going on.
The light on Billy’s phone suggested we were rolling and he asked me something along the lines of… “You’ve been following the Bees for ages, so what does THIS mean today?”
I can’t remember what I said. In wanting to soak up the pre-match atmosphere, before heading to the BeesPlayer folk, I’d walked round the whole ground, along Braemar, Brook, New and Ealing Roads. I’d passed each of the renown four pubs on the corner. Read that again. I’d passed them. I didn’t go in any of them. I was sober as a judge (rather than A. Judge on Good Friday Night.Probably). When I was asked to say a view words to Beesotted Cam though, I might as well have toasted each of our squad in each of the pubs. I waved my RSCup about and mumbled incoherently. We went on to discuss Doncaster (more on them later) and Billy kindly explained that with over 2 and half minutes, he’d, “probably have to do a bit of cutting”. Yep, you probably will.
It was such a good question that I fucked up on though. What does THIS mean today? What does Stevenage at home on the last day of the 2013/14 season mean? It means so much.
Yes, there is an obvious symmetry with our Promotion Homecoming Party kicking off an hour or so after Doncaster Rovers lost their place to us in the Championship. They lost to a penalty. They lost their place in that league to a 95th minute goal. I mentioned the words “Harry” and “Forrester” when Bill was asking me about Donny. It was natural. Word Association. I’ve forgotten the name of that board game where you’re given a word to describe without using certain others. So for Donny, THIS card would no doubt have words like, “penalty, Trotta” but no doubt also the name of our ex-winger who wanted to try his luck in the 2013/14 Championship.
I didn’t mean to be horrible. I don’t hold any grudge against him for thinking he was bettering himself. I do think he was let down by his advisors and he must look at the season Adam Forshaw has had and realise a bit of longer term planning might have been better.
So THIS, that is promotion to the Championship, means players must now realise that being at Brentford is great for…
Players’ Career Progression
‘Loanford’ is a very small part of what is happening at the club these days but boy, are we using the loan system so well? We’re using it as a long-term project rather than other clubs who may try and get someone in on loan as a quick fix. We bring players in on loan and see whether they fit us and whether we fit them. Jake, Harlee and Adam show what a success THIS method can be. All three were originally signed on loan, then after successful spells have seen enough to come and commit to the BFC Cause. I think even the most arrogant of Peterborough supporting radio talk show hosts would have to agree that each of those players are now in a better position than when they went out on loan. Their successes now also show the likes of Trotta, Judge and Saville what can be achieved if you do break away from ‘bigger’ clubs. Ok, that doesn’t work with Marcello but he can now escape from Penfold’s Cottage.
Long term thinking
So, those players hopefully realise that, long-term, sticking with Project Brentford is a better plan than an immediate, short step up. Even Simon Moore might be thinking twice about whether Cardiff City is an improvement on Brentford. Take a look at the 2014/15 League Table when it gets issued for the first time. You’ll see we’re higher up than Cardiff. We’ll be higher up than Fulham too although don’t be surprised if they change their name to AFC Fulham in the hope they might spend at least the months of June and July above us in the league.
The whole mid to long-term thinking currently at the club is what excites me most. The ‘THIS’ I’m considering at the moment, promotion guaranteed with three to play, ticks a box in the plans that have already been drawn up. The owner and management can see we are on track for the goals we have been set and further ‘stretch’ targets can be considered.
There are so many positive examples of THIS long term thinking both on and off the pitch.
Lionel Road Planning Permission
All the long-term planning that went into THIS now comes into fruition too. Other than celebrating like we won the FA CUP, the season highlight for me was watching that Planning Application meeting in Hounslow. It was a neutral venue but the support that made the trip compared to our opponents was like Wembley Stadium giving us all the tickets for that FA Cup Final apart from one upper block. I have never seen such a one-sided following.
The performances from the likes of Cliff Crown, Lee Doyle and Brian Burgess that evening were legendary. The penalty shoot out type vote at the end was more nervous than last season’s Play Off Semi with Swindon. The sound of those Yeses from Dhillon et al were more melodic than the sound of ball hitting back of net. I never thought I’d find myself shouting “get in you beauty” at a local council planning meeting.
So, THIS, the culmination of the 2013/14 season, when the Bees have been promoted up from the third tier, is also the season we gained permission to build such an amazing new home.
THIS, a day where we rejoice at our season ending after just the 46 league games, for me, is also a time to look back further than just that Doncaster game.
In fact, that is what I think THIS is most about. It’s about looking back however long you have been a Bee, and realising things are now at a pinnacle. Think back to all the bad old times on and off the pitch. There are too many to recall. Even our younger supporters can probably recall the JPT loss at Wembley to add to 12/13 League 1 Round 46. Those of us that bit older can remember the likes of Webb and Noades. THIS journey to the second tier would never have been achieved with either of those characters steering HMS Brentford.
THIS is about all the snide comments from others over the years. THIS is about those people at school and at work who have laughed at you naming Brentford as YOUR team. THIS is particularly for those who have somehow chosen to follow other West London teams. #BeesUpFulhamDown will bring back memories of those halcyon early 90s days where we really were pooping on them once again. That song will surely return with them back to the scene of their April 1992 mauling. THAT first half possibly being the best 45 minutes of football the Old Lady GP has seen.
Thoughts now go to Uwe and his opportunity to absolutely cement his place in all Brentford hearts. If his Wigan know QPR out of the Play Offs and condemn them to our league next season, then even his harshest critics can’t begrudge him anything. The Brentford, Fulham, QPR triumvirate will hopefully be another part of what THIS means.
There are so many other things that THIS, Class of 2014 gaining the highest marks ever of any Bees Graduates, means. It’s #KingKev500 day as mentioned briefly earlier. What a player, what a person. Keeping him on as part of the coaching team is a masterstroke. Any new players coming in have such an ideal role model to follow.
THIS is also a time to think of those no longer with us. I hate the famous quote from Bill Shankly: “football isn’t as important as life and death… it’s more than that”. At the end of the day it isn’t. It is sad to have lost loved ones recently, but it must be painful to think of those Bees fans of many many years, who just didn’t make it to hang on and see THIS. Many will take comfort from imaging some extra Griffin Park seats in the skies above.
There was sad news from Doncaster Rovers in the confirmation that one of their supporters passed away after becoming ill at their final game against Leicester. Finding out he was my age, just 42, has made me consider again that football is after all, just a game. Just a game which can give immense pleasure and satisfaction when things go well and THIS means that OUR time is now to enjoy things.
THIS also means taking pleasure that many others have been rewarded. Most notably Matthew Benham’s generosity means we can all be delighted that he sees THIS as “f*****g brilliant”! If you were to design the perfect football club owner you could do no better than what we actually have.
I’ll be interested to see if Billy the Bee is able to use any footage of what THIS means to me. Although, mentioning all THIS would have drowned out his battery, I’m glad now to have written a couple of thousand words about what THIS does actually mean. THIS means a whole lot more too but whatever THIS means to you, soak up the feelings. THIS has been so long coming.