Beesotted contributor Luis Adriano brings his series of analogy filled pre-season articles to a close as, on the eve of the 2014/15 Championship Season, there is clearly no more need to ask, “are we nearly there yet”?
It does now seem a right age ago that I first looked ahead to our opening game of the 2014/15 SkyBet Championship season and, like a kid setting off on a dream holiday to Florida, asked, “are we nearly there yet?”
Well what do you know? Here we are, at long last.
The kid is at the gates of Disneyland, staring up at all the lights in complete and utter awe, while here we are, moments away from the Bees kicking off their campaign against Standard Liege SE London Branch.
Part of the reason for replicating the kid repeatedly and annoyingly asking the same old question was to try and capture some of the exciting build up to our first season in the second tier for twenty-two years and only our second season there since the mid-1950s.
I’ve already laid my hatred of pre-season cards on the table and would still gladly hibernate from early May to early August. I don’t get cricket, struggle to find any interest in International football tournaments and the tennis at Wimbledon can f**k off up to Milton Keynes for all I care.
The last time we entered the Division below the top one, I’d only just entered my twenties so most of that summer was lost in a Hummel Bees top wearing drunken haze. Every other pre-season up til this one has either been spent waiting for yet another round of forty six games in the Third Division or fighting football depression attempting to return to it following the relegation.
While I’m delighted it’s over, I’ll admit this pre-season has had its memorable moments.
The signings have certainly been the most exciting I can remember, even if everyone now seems to be admitting they have no idea who will turn up holding the shirt for the camera when the Owner tweets a clue…
anything that serves to guide or direct in the solution of a problem, mystery, etc.
Okay, make that… even if everyone now seems to be admitting they have no idea when the Owner tweets a completely random clip from Youtube or similar.
There’s not one iffy signing among any of the incomers and the millions, yes millions, we’ve outlaid still look like a fine investment. If Darragh McAntony can get that loadawonga for Assombalonga, just imagine how much Gray, Hogan or Odubajo will be worth after a successful season in the Championship.
Even Tommy Smith, at the ripe old age of 34 (I wish I was 34), looks like he will add value on and off the pitch. A whole career in the top two divisions, he sounds genuinely impressed with the young talent he has seen in his short time at Jersey Road.
Although we will no doubt continue to play our fast, attacking game on the green grass of Griffin Park and those generally bigger grounds than we’re used to, it’s nice to know we’ve added a Big B*****d to our ranks. Nick Proschwitz, joining from Hull gives us something different and has already tasted the promotion to the Prem some of our fans expect to be feasting on sooner rather than later.
Without wanting to get carried away, if a team that can lose 7-2 at Griffin Park including three goals from Bob Booker can end up in the EPL and Europa League, then there is no reason why we can’t. More on TW8’s Great Expectations and where I think we’ll end up later.
If I were to hibernate through pre-season, the one thing I’d ask you to wake me for would be the launching of the new kits. Thinking back to the strip tease adidas tempted us with in early June still gets my juices flowing.
After the tantalising close-ups of our unique home kit, two factors made me view the big reveal anti-climatically. The shade of the red on the small image as you went to buy it online and the far from sexy SkyEx patch, resulted in me suggesting it was like opening a Playstation 3 when you thought you were getting a Playstation 4.
Having now seen the true blood red stripes and started slowly picking away at the patch, I’m calling it the best Bees kit ever and that’s without knowing how successful the team who wear it will become.
The new away top is the top item on my birthday list.
Again, pictures don’t do it justice and it was only when I saw it worn by blokes both bigger and older than me at the Osasuna friendly that I decided I want that one too. The shade of yellow has surely been picked as a nod towards ‘our’ Natalie Sawyer and those dresses she wears so well on #SkyTransferDeadlineDay as I think it’s called now.
Hmm, transfer deadline day. The bigger we become, the more I wonder if any of Sky’s roving reporters will get the easy trip down the road from their studio to our training ground. Will we see players of a higher calibre than Peter Odemwingie turning up in their posh motors and whizzing in for talks with Frank McP? Will we see some of the Brentford Yoot Element letting flares off behind said reporter?
The main transfer speculation at the moment still centres around Adam Forshaw. Billy The Bee has already written some cracking articles on here regarding that situation so most of the issues have been moe than covered.
I just wanted to add something. Rather than getting completely p****d off with the way Wigan have acted, I’ve spent the last few days just reflecting how lucky we’ve been to have Adam.
Some people have moaned about the sell-on clause to Everton and in some cases, have started doubling Forshaw’s value to compensate for the piece of the pie we are stuck with having to handover to the Toffees.
I love that clause. Without it we would never have signed Everton’s Development Squad Player of the Year ‘permanently’.
Just as that kid at Disneyland should be taking in everything they see, hear and feel, Bees fans should be cherishing these fine players we now have every time they take the field.
We might end up only getting £2-3million net for Forshaw but we’ve also had the pleasure of him in our team for 89 games. He has helped us get here. Yes, the way Whelan has acted has put him right up there with the pantomime villains we can boo and hiss at when we see them, but if Forshaw is to move on then so be it as far as I’m concerned.
It’s not like when we used to sell our best players. There will be another one along soon and you sense the quality will just continue to improve. The standard of player in our squad is getting better and better all the time. We have plenty of options already and if we do get our asking price, a nice wad will be reinvested no doubt later on in the season when we kick on.
The other thing that has really struck me this pre-season more than any other is the optimism from fans. Even up to a year ago, it was hard to lose the pessimistic tag of doom, “it’s Brentford Innit”.
As football supporters often do, we seem to have gone from one extreme to the other. The final pre-season friendly against already there Crystal Palace has some Bees fans genuinely believing we can soon be being introduced by Gary Lineker rather than Manish Basin and discussed by Shearer, Lawro and Bawro (Phil Neville has apparently joined the cast) rather than ex-Bees Leroy and Claridge.
Nothing would completely surprise me but Sky Bet currently have us residing at 18th in the table and anything above this should be seen as success. While my heart wants to join those saying we can make it all the way, my head is saying 9th to 12th will be the area of the table we’ll finish in. I certainly think whoever at Four Four Two who put us in position twenty-two, doesn’t have a Scooby Doo.
So, pre-season is over. The journey we set out on when I started these articles has come to an end. You see, the thing is, it’s not just been an expedition from Brentford to Florida, or a pocket of time from early May to Mid August.
This journey has truly taken us twenty-two years.
Realising this makes me consider all I have done in the time since we were last a second tier team.
Most importantly I’ve become a father. My daughter has grown into her teens with little care for her Dad’s favourite football team but still the apple of my eye.
I’ve been to university, decided I wanted to be a teacher then, in a Feltham classroom epithany, quickly decided I didn’t want to be a teacher.
I’ve been managed by some right idiots in various jobs, and I’ve managed some right idiots in various jobs.
I’ve been dumped by girls and I’ve dumped girls and been in the same relationship since not long after the Crewe fiasco at Wembley.
I’ve had to stay in hospital and I’ve seen loved ones have to stay in hospital.
I’ve spent thousands of pounds on Compact Discs and Digital Versatile Discs that now clutter up my home and never get played because what’s the point in Compact Discs and Digital Versatile Discs these days.
I’ve joined myspace, not looked at my myspace for years, joined Facebook, not looked at Facebook for months, joined Twitter and become addicted to sending Tweets to people like Matthew Benham, Natalie Sawyer and Sam Saunders that rightly get ignored because contain up to 140 characters I soon wish I hadn’t typed.
A lot has happened since we were last here.
For some of you there will have been more.
Some readers won’t even remember last time because, like Bonham, Yennaris, Calvert and Reeves to name just four, the most amazing thing you’ve done since we were last a second tier team is be born.
Meanwhile, there are many, many, many Bees who have sadly left us since we last competed in the second division.
I’m sure, when the Charlton game kicks off and the story of our season begins, there will be thoughts heading towards those no longer taking their seats or their steps at GP.
There have been managers who have come and gone, unlike the current incumbent unable to take us the right way out of the third division.
Seventeen of them in total.
David Webb, Eddie May (RIP), Micky Adams, Ron Noades, Ray Lewington, Steve Coppell, Wally Downes, Garry Thompson, Martin Allen, Leroy Rosenior, Scott Fitzgerald, Barry Quin, Terry Butcher, Andy Scott, Nicky Forster, Uwe Rosler and Alan Kernaghan.
There have been a hell of a lot of players who have pulled on the red and white stripes and, barring a couple, given their all in trying to get us where we find ourselves now.
Far too many to name but since we were last there, Jay Tabb, DJ Campbell, Michael Turner and Martin Whatshisname, are among those unable to get the team to the top two leagues but managed to get there individually via other clubs.
So, are we nearly there yet?
I’m asking one last time as it has been such a long journey, it still sometimes feels crazy to think we are starting a season without FA Cup 1st or 2nd round commitments.
We are at the place we’ve been wanting to reach for as long as many of us can remember.
Play Off Semi and Final defeats, coming second in the table the only season where it didn’t gain you automatic promotion, last minute of the season missed penalties?
All the above can be forgotten.
We’re Brentford and we are in The Championship.
In a way the wait feels worth it.
Everyone connected at the club: players, management, club staff, fans, we are all so pleased to be here we will surely enjoy every moment of it.
Ladies, Gents, Boys and Girls:
Welcome to the 2014/15 Sky Bet Championship.