Spread the love

It’s a funny old game, this journalism lark.

As I sat back and spell checked my copy in the emotional aftermath of yesterday’s historic game, the words I’d written somehow didn’t seem enough.

How to encapsulate the joy at wiping away 21 years of languishing in the wilderness and watching, it has to be said, some fairly uninspiring football.

Many journalists slip into clichés to fill out their copy… rags to riches, fairytale promotion and take each game as it comes are a few of the favourites.

But this season’s promotion and the manner of its arrival transcended mere words, and just as I woke in the night last season fearing it had all be a nightmare, I awoke today wondering if it was all just a dream.

Managers too are guilty of talking in well worn phrases, but when you strip down Mark Warburton’s comments (he still talks way too fast for my shorthand btw) they have their foundations in hard fact.

Many of the current squad are teenagers or in their early 20s and have already experienced in two seasons what some pros won’t in a career.

To a man it has made them stronger and will mean that Brentford have the nucleus of a side more than capable of holding its own in the Championship.

Their mental strength was never more evident than against Preston – a totally nerveless, dominant display in keeping with so many we’ve seen this season.

The old adage – okay cliché if you like – of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger brought to life.

There’s been an unerring solidity and confidence, but never arrogance, about the club this time and that has been the major difference between this and other promotion campaigns.

This time it hasn’t been luck, but technical ability, glorious one touch football and that all important added steel that has taken us to the second tier, one of the best leagues on the planet.

Warburton has always made a point of emphasising that any success is down to the squad – he stuck to his principles and his word and will stick by this squad next season.

He wasn’t so jubilant to dismiss the need for “one or two additions” but – and here’s the beauty of this season’s triumph – he and Uwe have built a squad ready for the Championship.

I asked him if he felt this season’s squad was better prepared for promotion this time round, knowing full well what the answer would be.

Of course we are. Everything, from the exceptional work of Lee Doyle and his team, the professionalism of the communications set up to the pivotal work of the back room medical, fitness and conditioning staff, points to a higher level.

But, and this is a huge but, we also have a bunch of players and management not too up themselves to disappear off to a plush hotel at the first whiff of success.

All joined in the celebrations with the fans at the Griffin or Nelly because at Brentford we are one – and that includes the likes of my colleagues Billy Reeves and Jake and Tim from the Chron. All would bleed red and white.

As I walked to the press room I heard three separate conversations between fans talking about loved ones who they wished were around to see it.

Players like Kev, Dougie and Clayton I’m sure will be having a quiet chat today just as I will with my old man, who left us seven years too early to see the best Brentford players he’ll ever have seen (Johnny Brooks aside).

If promotion and the new stadium erodes that player-fan link, closeness and passion then we risk losing what this very special – I’d even say unique – club of ours is all about.

Nurture all three and we will consolidate well next season… and beyond.

Jim Levack