Spread the love

Beesotted contributor Jim Levack give us another wonderful take on life as a Brentford fan this week.

I don’t tend to take smartphone pictures or videos at games. Whenever I watch them back, they never seem quite as good as they were in pulsating, adrenaline-charged, high energy real-time.

I didn’t take more than a couple of shots at Wembley and didn’t bother with a single one at our opening Premier League game. But the images are all there, as sharp as glass, in my mind.

I’m not ashamed to say I cried at Wembley, but the Arsenal game was different – the only time it really brought a tear to my eye was as the team walked out for the first time.

That was the moment I would have turned to my old man and said ‘can you believe this is happening?’. Like countless other fans long gone, he was there by my side for both games.

The Arsenal curtain raiser felt like another match with three points up for grabs if I’m honest, a free hit. Maybe I’ve been hypnotised by Thomas Frank who treats victory and defeat just the same with a pragmatic ‘bigger world’ view of what matters.

And despite all the countless column inches in the wake of the historic win, that was the highlight for me, not of the evening but the whole experience and its aftermath.

Let me explain.

When we left Griffin Park there were fears that the club would change, the new ground might not fully replicate the ‘in your face’ feel of the Old Lady we’d left behind.

There were doubts that being Premier League might make us cocky or aloof, forget our roots, where we’d come from on those cold, wet rainy nights in Torquay and Bury.

We doubted whether the new protocols would destroy the unique bond that existed between players and fans who lined the walkway from the old changing room to the Braemar Road forecourt.

As the smell of liniment that wafted from the showers post-match faded, so too would that unique, down to earth humility that almost every Brentford fan I know possesses.

Any doubts we had were washed away by the small vignettes of compassion and kindness that emerged during and after the game from Brentford fans and players alike.

I was in reporter mode during the game, but afterwards the enduring image of a veteran fan, mouth wide in disbelief, tears rolling down both cheeks, got me. 

That picture went viral, as did the beautifully natural shot of Thomas racing over to Woody to celebrate like a fan. He is after all a fan of the game too, but I’m certain no other senior figures in football would do that.

Christian and Vitaly, the living embodiment of the ‘no dxxxheads’ policy, high-fiving the Bees most famous eight-year-old fan who is now known around the world.

I can’t watch the videos of Woody and Thomas’ surprise message without smiling inanely, the hayfever kicking in even though I’m indoors.

Partisan fans – yes, just as partisan as we ever were at Griffin Park and a lot louder – then standing to applaud England’s Saka onto the pitch as a late Gunners substitute.

Heart-warming stuff, which each time I watch it back leaves me thinking ‘these are my people, my other family’. Never arrogant, usually magnanimous.

Any lingering doubt that this was just me being overly sentimental came when I watched the Sky coverage back – just as sweet the second time round – and saw Carragher and Neville waxing lyrical about the team, the ground, the fans.

Breaking news: We’ve always been like that and always will be, but it takes a global audience to bring out the new admirers. Carragh, beaming with excitement at the sheer exuberance of it all, probably can’t wait to return. Ian Wright probably can.

Brentford are just what the top flight has been crying out for. A club with humility, pride, passion, a sense of awareness and humour that only a Bus Stop in Hounslow can have.

We might be Premier League, but all the signs are we won’t be changing who we are any time soon… win, lose or draw.

Jim Levack