Saturday, August 22, 2009
THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF A FOOTBALL SUPPORTER ....
Things can change very quickly in football, just three short years ago I wrote an extended and depressing post about my beloved Brentford, the club that has taken up far too much of my life and caused me untold heartache over the years. That article can be viewed here, Brentford were indeed relegated that season and the following season, struggled in the fourth tier of English football.
Of course, even as a Bees fan, there has been the odd high point over the decades, reaching the FA Cup last eight in 1988-89 with a great footballing side and travelling to Ewood Park and Anfield, playoff visits to Wembley and Cardiff, the odd promotion, highlight of which was winning the old third division in 91-92 and going up to what is now the Championship. The last week of that season was unbelievable, beating big local rivals Fulham 4-0 and then winning the title at Peterborough on the last day, those are two days that will stay with me forever.
That was followed by the only season I have watched them play in anything other than the bottom two divisions and what are my abiding memories of that camapign ? The eight minutes of injury time played at home to Notts County, where the referee appeared to wait for a County equaliser before blowing his whistle, those lost points would have saved us and a totally inept display on the last day of the season at Bristol City in front of thousands of travelling Bees. That pretty sums up being a fan of a lower league club, you take and make the most of any highlights along the way, because you know full well you will be paying for them later !
Anyway, things are definitely on the up in that most hallowed corner of TW8, Brentford were promoted last season and off the pitch the club is being well run, there is a degree of transparency in what is happening and next week, the supporters group currently running the club, will vote overwhelmingly in favour of "eventually" handing over control of the Bees to Matthew Benham. Benham is a long time supporter, who made his money in banking and then sports betting ( he is one of us !) and unlike the majority of other owners, actually has an understanding of the game. I expect it to be a good deal for the club, it will at the very least secure the immediate (5 years) future of Brentford FC and in these troubled times, when so many clubs are struggling, that is about as good as it gets at this level. There are still plans to move to a new stadium at some stage, but this is very unlikely until there is an upturn in the housing market, with the Bees current home Griffin Park ( The Theatre of Sleepless Nights) standing on desirable building land.
Having just a little money available makes so much difference in the lower leagues, Brentford are never going to make any big money signings, but boss Andy Scott and his team have an eye for young talent and he has been very astute in the loan market. When any player has been injured, Scott has had funds to act very quickly and get some cover in (witness Alan Bennett injured on Tuesday, James Wilson signed on Wednesday), he has built a very pacey, close knit team, with a tremendous spirit and never say die attitude, who have collected a lot of points late in games.
Division 1 looks very tough this season, but I would not write off a playoff push for the Bees, they have a couple of key players injured at present, but set to return soon and then the squad will look strong. The players are confident and have made an unbeaten start to life at the higher level and also outplayed established Championship side Bristol City in the League Cup (although they eventually lost), Supporters are firmly behind the club and what they are trying to do, attendances are on the up and some 2,500 + are going to Southampton today to follow their team, if they can come back with a point or better, that would be a very solid start to the season and give them a platform to build upon. They are on offer at circa 3.75 to win this afternoon and whilst I am not putting that up as a bet, I certainly would not discourage you from chancing a little. Up the Bees !