Spread the love

Strange, isn’t it, how the same outcome of a season can evoke such contrasting emotions?

In the end fate can often hinge on the final denouement, the last 90 minutes of a campaign when ability, mental strength and luck play their part.

It still hurts like yesterday when I think of that Doncaster game, a season’s blood, sweat and toil all but undone in a single kick.

The days and nights after that and Wembley were hard, with office sympathy I neither wanted nor needed and well-meaning words of comfort from people with no interest in football or my club.

But the emotions after being beaten by the better side at Boro are so very different.

The final 10 minutes said it all, Bees fans standing as one to represent those watching at home with a defiant rousing show of support for a side who have given us back our pride and belief by the bucketload.

No more “Brentford, who are Brentford?”. Mention the name now in football circles and there’s knowledge, awareness and – judging by the comments of Boro fans we left the ground with – respect, for what has been achieved this season.

And we’ve done it the right way, playing a brand of football that has thrilled supporters and pundits alike and is without doubt the best I have seen in almost 50 years of watching Brentford.

Holidays abroad were always the acid test. You’d be poolside with a beer and – I hope it’s not just me – eavesdropping on a football chat eagerly waiting for the chance  to spread the gospel of Griffin Park.

I did that once in Turkey a few years back with a Burnley fan called Chris Wright and his reaction to my admission was a mixture of polite amusement and sympathetic interest. He’s watched on the box this season and his opinion has changed.

Nowadays many of my mates say Brentford are one of the first clubs they look for. Like Gurdip the Walsall fan, who texted me on the way to the Riverside “We’re all Bees tonight Jim”. That means a lot.

It means a lot because the stature of the club has been raised by a group of players, management and unsung heroes in the medical and communications departments, who have given us back that poolside swagger.

But it’s a swagger that comes with humility too, a humility born out of knowing where we have come from, a humility that made those last 10 minutes at Middlesbrough worth the trip on their own.

This wonderful group of players, some of whom we may not see again, knew it too and in time they may realise that they will never again play for a club quite like this.

That’s a fact that will not be lost on Mark Warburton, to my mind the best manager of men we have had at Griffin Park in my lifetime, and his vastly underpraised deputy David Weir.

Their departure, variously described as “bizarre” and “baffling” by a sometimes ill-informed headline hunting media, will in time be viewed either as either a moment of genius or madness in the Brentford road map. History will decide.

At the end of the day we have no option but to trust in Matthew Benham, whose first job once the current management team has left must be to win back the silent sceptics with a well-constructed PR strategy seemingly absent in his thinking thus far.

Anyway, now is not the time for that. Now is the time for a heartfelt Thank You to the players and management for the magical moments they have given us this season. And yes, to Matthew.

Now is a day to walk tall around your town, to go head held high to the office on Monday and to go for a coffee with your long suffering partner and promise him or her that he or she has your undivided attention… for a couple of months at least.

Then, let the fun – shut your eyes and paint a mind montage of the Fulham goals, Cardiff strikes, last minute Derby winner to name a few – begin all over again.

I can hardly wait. But perhaps there’s time for a bit of poolside chat first.

 

Jim Levack