Is Saturday going to be Brentford’s last game of the season? Only time will tell – but if it is, it will be the end of an era for both the Bees and our visitors Wigan Athletic, who were relegated to League One without kicking a ball on Tuesday.
Full-time and the wrong combination of results will signal the end of Mark Warburton’s time as Brentford manager – ending his four-year association with the club.
It would also be the last time Alex Pritchard dons the red-and-white stripes and for our visitors, who only joined the Football League in 1978, the end of a 12-year stay in the top two divisions, eight of which were in the Premier League.
When the fixtures came out in June, many people thought the Bees would be out to spoil Uwe Rosler’s promotion party this Saturday.
But Uwe and summer signing Adam Forshaw are long gone in what has proved to be a disastrous season for the Latics.
Three home wins all season, and none in 19 matches between mid-September and mid-April tells its own story, while the club is now on its third manager of the campaign in Gary Caldwell following the departures of Uwe and then, in early April, his successor Malky Mackay.
It is only two years since Wigan won the FA Cup, beating Manchester City 1-0 in the final, but they were also relegated in the same season from the Premier League.
They reached the Championship play-offs last season after finishing fifth – losing to QPR in the semi-finals – but suffered an adverse reaction to that disappointment this term.
WHO’S THE GAFFER?
Gary Caldwell was named as the new manager of Wigan on April 7 – after retiring as a player earlier in the season.
The former Latics captain made more than 100 appearances for the club with his last game in the 2013/14 play-offs. He had failed to play this season because of a hip injury.
Caldwell joined Wigan from Celtic in January 2010, after previously playing for Newcastle and Hibernian and also won 55 caps for Scotland.
After being appointed, Caldwell said: “I’ve made no secret of the fact I wanted to move into management when the time was right.
“I didn’t expect that to come along as quickly as this, but in football you need to take opportunities when they arise.
“I am honoured and excited in equal measures to charge at the Latics, where I have shared such incredible memories over the past five years.”
Brentford don’t have a great record against Wigan – in fact we have only beaten them six times in 32 meetings.
The Latics joined the Football League in 1978 but we didn’t cross paths until the 1982/83 season – and then wished we hadn’t.
We lost our first four games against them and although we picked up a win and a draw the following season – Wigan still had the final say that campaign in our most memorable-ever meeting by beating us 3-1 in the Freight Rover Trophy final at Wembley.
Things have largely continued to go the Latics’ way since – and we have failed to beat them on their last five visits to Griffin Park.
If you are looking for omens, our last home win over them came in a promotion season – 1991/92 – as we dished out a 4-0 hammering.
In 12 games since then Wigan have won eight, there have been three draws, including the goalless encounter in October, and a solitary Bees triumph at the DW (then JJB), in April 2001.
New Wigan chairman David Sharpe has said the club will aim to bounce back to the Championship at the first time of asking next season.
“It is a sad day for everyone associated with Wigan Athletic but we will bounce back and I want that to be the main message to our fans,” he told the club website.
“Our only target next season is promotion, nothing else will suffice, and the job of rebuilding the club is already well under way under Gary Caldwell and his staff.
“Football is full of examples of clubs who have come back stronger after relegation and I want us to be the latest one of those.
“We have an amazing opportunity to start afresh and begin an exciting new era for the club.”
With Uwe Rosler and Adam Forshaw no longer at the club, the only Brentford connection on Wigan’s books is goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt.
Mike joined us on loan from Notts County in January 1998 and played five games in Division Two (now League One) – keeping two clean sheets in one win, one defeat and three draws.
Defender Rob Kiernan, who was loaned to us for three months during the 2012/13 campaign, is currently on loan at Birmingham.
WIGAN SQUAD NEWS
Now they have been relegated, Wigan may use Saturday’s game to blood a few youngsters as they start planning for next season.
A total of 38 players have made at least one substitute appearance for the club in the Championship this season with only defender James Perch, midfielder James McClean, goalkeeper Scott Carson and striker Marc-Antoine Fortune playing more than 30 times.
McClean, who has just been voted the player’s player of the year, is their top league scorer with six goals – one ahead of Callum McManaman, who is no longer at the club.
DID YOU KNOW?
Wigan were the last club to be voted into the Football League when they replaced Southport in 1978 under the old re-election system.
The bottom four clubs in Division Four had to reapply for their league places at the end of each season and non-League clubs could bid to replace them.
The vote took place at the League’s Annual General Meeting and the four clubs with the most votes played in the bottom division the following season.
Drinking in Brentford
For Wigan fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming. Colours are fine and there is no ‘bouncer culture’ on the doors of our boozers – not yet anyway. All fans are welcome and most fans usually cite Brentford as their favourite away-day which we’re quite proud of.
As is etched in common folklore , there were four pubs around the ground until a few weeks ago – unfortunately one closed down to leave only three now. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option (The Royal Oak was the one that closed down).
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) … The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted fanzine main pub – a very friendly pub indeed. The other boozer is The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and 30 seconds walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in both these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave – 1 minute walk from the tube) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route on the Northfields pub crawl).
Pubs will be opening early for this match.The Globe will be open from 9.30am. The Lord Nelson from 10am and The Griffin say they’re open from 11am but we find that hard to believe for such a big match.One over the Ait opens at 9am.
Easily the best way to Brentford is to get the Victoria line from Euston to Green Park and the Piccadilly line from Green Park to either Northfields or South Ealing (35 mins). Northfields is preferred by fans in the know as it has a decent pub crawl run on the way to the ground (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe). South Ealing has one posh pub en route that doesn’t really like football fans so we won’t even give it a mention here. It’s 20 mins walk from either South Ealing OR Northfields to the ground or you can get the E2 bus from Northfields or 65 bus from South Ealing for the short 5 minute journey.
Some fans prefer to take the tube to Vauxhall then get the overground to Brentford mainline station. Depending on your connection time, this could be a slightly longer route as you could be waiting for up to 15 mins for a train and the train takes 26 mins to Brentford. Including your connection from Kings Cross, this journey could take you the best part of an hour as opposed to under 40 minutes (plus the journey to the ground).
If you do take this route, there is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … er … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. Great views over The Thames. It’s around 15 mins walk to the ground from here.
There are loads more too. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.
Billy Grant (@billythebee99) from Beesotted Fanzine (@Beesotted)