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Ah, that winning feeling. We’d almost forgotten what it feels like. Brentford fans have admittedly probably been a bit spoilt in recent years, as winning became a sensation we’d very much got used to during a dominant couple of seasons in the Championship… Tim Street keeps that victorious vibe alive.

We’d even managed to keep that winning – or at least the not losing – feeling going in an initial brilliant first few months in the Premier League. In fact, until the end of October, when the injuries kicked in – most notably to David Raya – and the exciting pressing and attacking football disappeared, nobody in the stands at the Brentford Community Stadium could have many complaints at all really.

It wasn’t until a poor performance in the 3-1 defeat at Burnley on the last weekend of October that the cracks started to appear in what had, until then, been a very impressive start to life in the top flight for the Bees. Those cracks started to look like chasms a week later with a listless 2-1 home defeat to Norwich, meaning two previously winless sides had taken their first three points of the season off the Bees in successive weeks.

Thomas Frank’s men at least put things straight in the return game against Norwich at the weekend, the Ivan Toney-inspired 3-1 win at Carrow Road ending a run of eight games without a win, which had Brentford not held out for a goalless draw against Crystal Palace last month, would have been a run of eight defeats in a row. Put things right in this weekend’s return game against Burnley too though, and all of a sudden, things will be starting to look a lot brighter.

Strangely enough, it was a previous meeting with Burnley which got me thinking this week, during a long and torturous drive around the M25, about just how much results can impact our lives. There are many more fixtures than the one which sprang into my mind which have put me in fouler moods (play-off final defeats, promotion-blowing losses, derby day capitulations), but sometimes the random ones take up that a little wormhole space in your brain too, and the one which I couldn’t shift was a 3-0 home defeat to the Clarets in March 1997.

David Webb’s side had no reply to first half goals from Jamie Hoyland, Andy Cooke and Damian Matthew, and fell to what proved to be one of four defeats in five games which put the skids on Brentford’s promotion hopes. Two months earlier, Nicky Forster had been sold to Birmingham City, breaking up the deadly Forster-Taylor-Asaba-Bent axis, and the Bees had struggled from that point on. That season ended in perhaps one of the most depressing defeats of all, the 1-0 “hammering” by Crewe in the play-off final at Wembley, but it was that Burnley game that stuck with me.

The reason for this was, I clearly remember going into work the next day in a foul mood. As a teenager at the time, I pushed trolleys around the car park at Waitrose at weekends for beer tokens, and my car park colleague noticed I had a face like thunder. Asking what was wrong, and expecting an answer like the dog had died or I’d been dumped by a girl, he couldn’t comprehend that a 3-0 home defeat for Brentford the previous day was why I was cursing the unfairness of life. Not being into sport of any kind, he gave me a strange look before wandering off for more trolleys. That’s always stuck with me – we, as football fans, often assume everyone else must “get it” – and to my teenage mind, seeing your previously potent attack snuffed out all too easily by Mark Winstanley and Chris Brass was pretty much the worst thing in the world. His lack of comprehension as to why I was so bothered was matched only by my unwillingness to see why he couldn’t see it.

But then, of course, we grow up. New relationships and broken relationships, deaths and marriages, kids and mortgages, redundancies and new beginnings and everything in between give us more of a perspective as an adult, and things that upset you as a 17-year-old don’t seem to matter as much. Or so you think. And then there’s the on-then-pitch stuff. Standing staring at the pitch long after everyone else had departed it following that infamous final day defeat to Doncaster in 2014, I found myself thinking that nothing Brentford ever did again could hurt me quite as much (before that familiar sinking feeling returned with a vengeance  at Wembley a few weeks later).

I’ve often had conversations on this theme as I’ve got older, with fellow fans of my vintage agreeing that, while the nerves are still shredded for a few hours at 3pm on a Saturday (or whichever day we end up playing on these days) – with winning still putting you in a great mood and losing peeing you off something chronic – it doesn’t ruin the whole weekend like it once would have. Or maybe it’s just me, just one of those stages in life. All the things I mentioned above can provide distractions in life to what used to be your number one concern. For me, losing both my mum and my job within the same 12-month period a few years back certainly provided a fresh perspective on life and what really matters.

But when life throws up such things – and the world is definitely a messed up place at the moment – you need distractions like sport to keep you sane, just like it did many people during the covid lockdows. Certainly, I’ve started to get back, in recent times, to that old feeling of our weekend result making or breaking your mood for the week, and not just the few hours either side of the match. Maybe it’s because it’s taken us so long to reach the promised land – and all we went through to get there – that the thought of giving it up without the sort of fight we showed at the start of the season is too much to comprehend.

Maybe it’s the mickey-taking from mates supporting other teams who, having given us credit for that brilliant swashbuckling start from August to October, now nod knowingly and sagely inform us that they always knew we’d get found out in the end. Maybe it’s simply that we’d got so used to winning games, and being outclassed had become such a rarity, that all of a sudden, it was old unfamiliar feeling coming to the fore – a reminder of so many disappointments before in an era when there’s been so much to celebrate for the Bees. It’s certainly felt like a hurtful few months as Brentford stuttered from defeat to defeat, and hell yeah, that win last Saturday really felt good.

So good, in fact, it felt like one of those seminal wins that could go down in Brentford history, if it proves to be the turning point which sends confidence coursing through the side again and signals a turnaround in fortunes which leads to Premier League survival. If that proves to the case, it could sit alongside what, for me, felt like other landmark wins in recent years. Like the 1-0 win at Leyton Orient in March 2014 [pictured above], when we knew a first return to the second tier in more than 20 years – and for only the second time in 60 years – was inevitable. Or like the 2-1 home win over Derby eight months later, when Stuart Dallas’ injury time winner first gave me the feeling for the first time that not only would we survive in the Championship, but thrive in it. Let’s hope Saturday’s win takes it places alongside those and others in Brentford’s Pantheon of Greats, and doesn’t prove to be another false dawn.

Tim Street