‘I FOUND MYSELF CRYING FLOODS OF TEARS’ – ONE FAN’S MEMORY OF SATURDAY AT WEMBLEY

‘I FOUND MYSELF CRYING FLOODS OF TEARS’ – ONE FAN’S MEMORY OF SATURDAY AT WEMBLEY

I have never previously been much of a believer in the words of that famous old proverb which states that “all things come to those who wait” but just before 5pm on Saturday May 29  2021 I finally realised that my scepticism was unfounded and in fact how true they were.

Referee Chris Kavanagh’s final blast of his whistle signalled the return of Brentford FC to the top division of English football a mere 86 years, one month and seven days – or 31,449 days in total – since a narrow and heart-stopping 3-2 victory at Bradford Park Avenue on Easter Monday, 22nd April 1935 confirmed promotion from the Second Division to the First.

Thomas Frank now joins the immortal Harry Curtis in the pantheon of managers (or Head Coaches) that have led the Bees to the promised land.

There are so many parallels between the Brentford teams of 1935 and 2021 and that crucial win at Bradford symbolised the breathless excitement and uncertainty of the promotion race. With only 25 minutes to go, the Bees – underperforming in key games as so often has been the case in more recent times – were trailing a mediocre lower mid-table Bradford team with nothing to play for by two goals before in an incredible and unexpected volte face a 40-yard thunderbolt of a free kick from skipper Arthur Bateman started the recovery and reinvigorated a faltering team and two late strikes from star winger Dai Hopkins, the winner a sensational solo goal, turned a crazy game on its head (shades of the Bournemouth Playoff Semi-Final second leg, perhaps?) and confirmed promotion. 

Harry Curtis had transformed a club that had never achieved anything of note previously and gradually built a youthful and skilful team made up of young, unheralded and bargain basement players undervalued by their previous teams. Now where have I heard that again lately? 

They played a vibrant brand of attacking football and to the total bemusement, scepticism and astonishment of the rest of the football world, Curtis led them on an amazing and totally unexpected journey from the depths of the Third Division South to the riches of the First Division in a mere nine years – a journey that the current team completed on Saturday just seven years after winning promotion from League One to the Championship.

For 31 goal Ivan Toney read Jack Holliday, described at the time as a ‘robust, bustling type of centre forward, he is extremely difficult to knock off the ball and can shoot with either foot’. Does that remind you of anyone else perhaps? The burly and raw-boned striker from County Durham whose 39 goals had cemented promotion to the Second Division in 1933 now, two years later, top scored with 25 goals and earned a call up to play for an England X1 as the Bees finally reached the top flight.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and club captain, Arthur Bateman, a cultured right back who was known for his leadership abilities rather than for any prowess in front of goal, scored for the only time in a long and distinguished career with a fulminating whizz-bang free kick that heralded the start of the Brentford comeback at Park Avenue, Bradford, on that memorable Easter Monday back in 1935. 

Bateman went on to lead the Brentford team to unparalleled success in the years leading up to the Second World War and deservedly earn the nickname of the “Iron Man” before an injury incurred in a famous 1-0 victory over Arsenal (Brentford’s patsies – a team that the Bees went on to defeat five times in the ten First Division matches between the two clubs between 1935-1947) in September 1938 led to his cruel and premature retirement. Happily, unlike many footballers from that era, he went on to have a long and successful career post-football as he returned to his roots in Grimsby and joined the police where he rose to the ranks of Detective Inspector. 

Why have I dwelt so long on Bateman? Well, I was fortunate enough to obtain his 1935 Division Two Championship medal a little while ago and I can now confess that I regularly used to rub it as a good luck talisman throughout the long, stressful and arduous season just concluded and I am smiling and looking at the medal now, suitably framed and standing proudly in all its glory on my desk, its task successfully and gloriously completed. Thank you, Arthur, to me you played just as crucial a role in this promotion race as you did eight-six years ago. Rest easy, Sir.

I have no intention of telling the tale of our fully deserved and long overdue victory at Wembley Stadium on Saturday – my esteemed colleague, Bill Hagerty, can do that far better than I, but I simply wanted briefly to reflect on what our achievement means to me and every other Brentford supporter.

I started watching the Bees as a young boy way back in 1965, ridiculously – or so it seemed at the time – choosing to support a struggling, disregarded and faded Third Division club fallen on hard times rather than the vibrant and trendy Chelsea team also offered to me as an option by my father. My earliest memories are of keen tussles against the likes of Scunthorpe, Workington and York City, with only the occasional treat to look forward to of a local derby against QPR or Millwall, where even now looking back through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia I have very few memories of moments of breath-taking skill and excitement and far more of gruelling battles in the mud where brawn and brute strength were generally the winners. 

To even imagine or dream of where we now find ourselves as a club was laughable and totally beyond my comprehension at the time as we were light years away and, indeed, almost went out of existence a couple of years after I started to support the Bees. 

It is less than a decade ago that I even began to think that reaching the giddy heights of the Championship was a realistic and attainable goal – and then almost immediately rejected such thoughts as total madness. I was staggered and ecstatic in equal doses when Mark Warburton led us to the second tier in 2014 and I had no expectations beyond fervently praying that we would stabilise at that august and rarefied level and not find ourselves relegated with ignominy as imposters from whence we had come.

Seven years further on and we are a club transformed, one that has earned the grudging respect and even envy, perhaps, of the football fraternity for our stability, strategic planning, the brio of our football, sheer common sense and determination to do the right thing. 

I am not going to even begin to speculate on how we will do and what sort of team we will field when we proudly make our EPL debut on  August 14 2021 (or more likely knowing the vagaries and demands of the unbending taskmasters at Sky TV, August 13 or 15 perhaps!) as those are conversations for another time. At the moment I simply want to glory and luxuriate in the reality in which we find ourselves and enjoy the moment.

And yet it is a pride and joy tinged with a sense of immense sadness and emptiness and like so many others on the final whistle on Saturday I found myself crying floods of tears, as indeed I am again now as I write these words, mourning those who are no longer here to share this incredible journey and achievement with us. A salutary reminder that football is all about family and community and Brentford FC totally symbolises the togetherness and sense of unity present in the best and most loving and supportive of families.

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DANISH MEDIA GO ‘BRENTFORD CRAZY’

DANISH MEDIA GO ‘BRENTFORD CRAZY’

With several Danish players and coaches, Brentford has, in recent years, become a bit of a media favourite and a household name in Denmark. However, this has not always been the case. The Championship does not tend to receive much media coverage in Denmark and many teams outside the Premier League are, more or less, unknown to the common football fan in Denmark. You may find the occasional Leeds, Derby, or Forest supporter who follows the Championship, but historically, English teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool have had much larger followings in Denmark, as they are some of the most successful teams in Europe.

Since Brentford has not spent time in the top flight of English football nor had had any significant Cup runs in over half a century, the club does not have a large following in the small Viking-country to the East. However, this has all changed in recent years as a result of the influx of Danish players and coaches and its success in the Championship.

All major Danish sports media now report on Brentford’s results every week, which is very rare for a Championship club. Usually, these articles only report on Brentford’s results and how the Danish players have done the past week. However, this past week leading up to the playoff final has seen a significant increase in the number of articles about Brentford and their Premier League chances. Most of the articles write about Brentford’s brilliant season, the unbelievable prize money, and how the Danish players and coaches have performed throughout the season. Some of these articles include, “The half-Danish club from West London is only one win away from the wealthiest league in the world” and “Brentford is reaching for the final promotion spot and the over £100 million that come with it”.

Naturally, after the final, the Danish sports media went crazy and flooded the internet with articles about Brentford’s success, of course, all with a Danish spin. Some of these articles include “Marcondes sent Brentford to the Premier League”, “Mathias Jensen: I broke down in tears”, and “Frank after the promotion triumph: I am completely drained”. Even the largest news channel in Denmark, Danmarks Radio (DR), the Danish equivalence of BBC, joined in and reported on Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League with several articles. One of these articles is called “Frank swung his magic wand and voila: Seven Danes became Premier League players”. This article talks about Thomas Frank’s tactical approach to the final and how he and the rest of the team overcame last season’s disappointment. DR even had a news feature on the Sunday evening news.  In this feature, they interviewed an English Brentford fan living in Denmark: “It’s one of the craziest things that have ever happened in my life. It’s my dream coming true, and it doesn’t get any bigger than this”, David Gorham told DR after the euphoria of Brentford’s promotion.

In addition to the articles and news feature, the increased media coverage can also be seen in the many Danish podcasts about Brentford, some of which Bees United have previously translated. In the latest Brentford Special from Mediano, Brian Riemer talks about how he wants to inspire the Danes with his work at Brentford. He tells the story of how teachers used to laugh at him for wanting to make football his career and how it ignited something in him and became a motivation to prove that you can do anything you want as long as you work hard.

The attention around the playoff final itself was clearly reflected on the decision to broadcast the game on TV3+ with no less than 30 minutes of pre-match studio. Not only is TV3+ Denmark’s biggest channel for sports events, but 30 minutes of pre-match studio is also more than most games in the Danish Superliga get. TV3+ also brought in some of the most prominent pundits and commentators for the game. Of course, the Championship playoff final is always a big game and has always gotten media coverage in Denmark. Still, this type of coverage for a Championship game has never been seen before. It definitely would not have happened had it not been Brentford in the final.

This increased attention surrounding Brentford and the Play-Off final is also reflected on social media, especially Twitter. On the day of the Play-Off final, Twitter was flooded with Danish football fans showing their support and wishing Brentford good luck. The majority of the tweets were very supportive. Several people said, “Come on you Bees”, and, “I sincerely hope that Brentford takes the final promotion spot. It would be thoroughly deserved”.

However, not all of the tweets were positive, with some fans saying things such as, “Please God, let them lose the final”. These tweets were primarily from fans who support FC Midtjylland’s rivals. They fear that a Brentford promotion to the Premier League may benefit FC Midtjylland because FC Midtjylland, who unfortunately was unable to defend the Danish title, is also owned by Matthew Benham. This fear of theirs is not entirely without reason given that Rasmus Ankersen, co-director of Football at Brentford and chairman at FC Midtjylland, told the local newspaper in Herning that Brentford’s promotion will most definitely affect FC Midtjylland: “It’s going to mean a lot to FC Midtjylland. It opens up many new opportunities when two family clubs occupy the places in the football ecosystem that we now do. Until now, Brentford and FC Midtjylland have been cousins, but that relationship will be more of a big brother / little brother relationship now, which will bring advantages to both clubs”, says Rasmus Ankersen to Herning Folkeblad.

In the same article, Ankersen tells how the promotion has been ‘in the making’ for many years now and that it probably should have happened last year. He also reassures that the strategy will not change because of the promotion. However, he refuses to say how exactly this promotion will benefit FC Midtjylland and how it will bring advantages to both clubs: “I will not comment on specifics. I will, however, say that it will generally open up opportunities for FC Midtjylland to have a Premier League club within the family”. What exactly this will mean, only time will tell, but one thing is certain: the Danish interest in Brentford will continue to grow, and now more than ever, will Brentford be the new darling of Danish media?

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HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY BEES UNITED

HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY BEES UNITED

The creation of Bees United was the end of a personal mission dating back to the attempted QPR takeover in 1967. I was in the Braemar Road stand when the inspirational Alan Simpson (script writer of Steptoe and Son) declared we would one day take over QPR, Fulham, and Chelsea! Of course it’s never going to happen, partly because we need local rivals, and why the ESL is such a bad idea. 

Supporters were invited to buy shares, but all that really earned them was the right to attend the AGM each year. Two or three years later the Supporters Club proudly announced they had donated £1000 (around £13,000 today) to the club for new floodlights. I don’t know what they received in return, but it certainly wasn’t any influence over how the club was run, and I remember thinking at the time that continually giving the club money was just wrong. Of course this wasn’t unique, supporters of football clubs all over the country had been raising money for their clubs, and the clubs had pretty much said, “Thanks very much,” and spent it. BIAS and Bees United changed all that at Brentford.

Bees United owes its existence purely to BIAS, and the financial difficulties of Brentford FC in the late 1990s.With the football club sinking into ever increasing debt it was agreed that following Ron Noades’s promise to hand the football club to the supporters, BIAS would finance the establishment of a supporters trust. The government had recently set up an organisation called ‘Supporters Direct’ and I attended meetings and seminars at the University of London’s Birkbeck College, where it became obvious many clubs in all divisions were in serious financial difficulties

Brian Lomax who had founded the very first supporters trust at Northampton Town, and was later a club director, was the managing director of Supporters Direct and he was delighted Brentford supporters were going to be given an opportunity to make a genuine contribution to the future of their football club. A series of public meetings were held, and on one occasion Trevor Watkins of Supporters Direct, a former chairman of AFC Bournemouth who had led a fans consortium to save his own club, attended to answer any questions. 

A steering group took on the responsibility of launching our supporters trust at the Civic Centre in Hounslow shortly after our defeat to Port Vale in the LDV Vans Trophy Final in 2001. A brochure was designed and printed, a name was decided upon – we couldn’t use the term “Trust” in our official title for legal reasons (hence the name Brentford Football Community Society Ltd.) but we could as part of a trading name. If I remember right ‘Bees United’ was suggested by Pete Johnson who edited the fanzine ‘Hey Jude’. A BIAS member in his twenties, Dave Merritt, had offered to represent us at the launch of Supporters Direct. He would later become Chairman of Bees United and a director of Brentford FC.

Back in 2001 we approached a number of local businesses for support, and several helped in some way. The biggest surprise was provided by Fullers who had been a bit coy with what they would offer. I was therefore staggered on arrival at the Civic Centre in the afternoon prior to the launch on 26th April 2001 to find they had sent a van filled with crates of London Pride, which were all stacked against a wall. Nobody went thirsty that night!

L-R John McGlashan (2001 Chairman),Geoff Buckingham (Board member), Ann Keen MP, Trevor Watkins (Supporters Direct) at the 2001 launch.

Trevor Watkins, was present at the launch along with Ann Keen (MP for Brentford and Chiswick) and the Mayors of both Hounslow and Ealing (Dave Bond, Mayor of Ealing had been a supporter for about 60 years, and also a club steward). 

We were registered as an ‘Industrial and Provident Society’ on 26 June 2001, now Bees United was official.The ‘Inaugural Annual General Meeting’ was held in the Princess Royal pub before the Bees played Oldham in September (we drew 2-2).  

I told Gary Hargraves when he was the club’s managing director that any money we raised, would only go to the club in the form of a loan. Bees United’s initial loans to Brentford FC were well in excess of £150,000, and kept the club in business. In view of the role Bees United has played over the last few years, I think we have had a decent return for that money!

Part of the 2001 Bees United launch brochure

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EMILIANO MARCONDES OPENS UP ON HIS TIME WITH THE BEES

EMILIANO MARCONDES OPENS UP ON HIS TIME WITH THE BEES

Mediano – Brentford Special – Episode 2: Recorded before the Play-Offs.

Host: Jonas Hebo Rasmussen – Host and expert at Mediano and footballer at Hellerup IK

Guest: Emiliano Marcondes – Footballer at Brentford FC

Translator: Tobias Neigaard

Editor: Greville Waterman

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Hebo: First of all, I just want to say that Emiliano Marcondes and I have known each other pretty much our entire lives. We grew up close to each other and you played on the same team as my brother throughout your youth at Hvidovre IF. So, how is it to play in the Championship and do you still dive as much as you did when you played here?

Marcondes: Haha, I don’t fall over as easily anymore, but I know when to position myself in front of the ball to force the contact with the opponent to get a freekick or penalty, but I actually think they dive more here than back home in Denmark. But they do it in the right situations and it looks more genuine because the footballers are a bit smarter here. I wouldn’t call myself a diver, but I do look for the contact sometimes when I run into a dead end.

Hebo: We are talking on the 27th of March and it’s currently an international break. How do you pass the time on an international break at Brentford when you’ve not been called up by your country?

Marcondes: Well, we’ve had three days off and then we played a friendly against Charlton with everyone who’s still here. We’ve also had some intense training sessions, which has been great. I really needed it because of the injury that kept me out for seven weeks at the beginning of the year. I’ve really needed to train hard and play an entire game. We rarely have these friendlies during the season because we play every three or four days. So this international break has been really useful as I’ve managed to get back to full fitness, whereas some of the others who have played a lot of games throughout the season have spent it more on recovery and rest. 

Hebo: In the Danish Superliga, both at FC Midtjylland and FC Nordsjælland you played as either number 10 or False 9. How would you describe your position in Brentford’s system?

Marcondes: Brentford do not play with either a number 10 or False 9, which I see as my best positions. However, I think I can play in many positions, as I have done throughout my career. You could probably argue that my versatility has actually been both good and bad for me. My role at Brentford is more defensive, yet I’m usually a little higher up the pitch compared to the others who play the number 8 role. In my position, I use a lot of energy on pressing the opposition, covering the wings, and closing passing lanes from the wings into the central areas. When we are in possession and are developing our attacks, I usually drop deeper as a number 6 between the two central defenders to get the ball and distribute it from there or bring it up myself. When I do that, I’m obviously far away from the opposition goal and where I would prefer to be, namely the box. So, I run a lot both in defence and attack, but it also means I don’t use my energy and creativity where I think I’m best, the final third. We’ve tried to solve it, and in some games, I think it’s been really good, but it’s still a conundrum that remains unresolved to some extent for me here at Brentford.

Hebo: Could you talk about what it’s like to be injured?

Marcondes: We play every three or four days and it almost feels like a training camp because you have games all the time and last year’s lockdown compressed the schedule even more. It feels like a pre-season where you train, eat, sleep and then wake up to train again. You honestly don’t do anything but train and play games. When you’re injured, you focus more on the things that you can improve, and you have more time to think about other things than football. Especially now when when everything has been closed and you can’t do anything. I thought a lot about what I could do once my football career ends. I also started a YouTube channel about my rehab and recovery. It kept me motivated and I know many younger players have been inspired by it and gave me some really nice feedback. When I’m injured, I usually try to improve myself and fine-tune even the smallest things. For example, my body fat percentage was something I worked with a lot the last time I was injured. I thought it had gone up a bit too much because we eat so much at Brentford as we play all the time. Sometimes I start, sometimes I come on from the bench, but I still have to eat as if I was a regular starter, which meant I was eating more than I was burning. When I was injured, it was easier for me to manage how much I was doing every day and then eat accordingly.

Hebo: When you are injured would you have the identical schedule as the fit members of the squad, or do you not see them that often because your schedules are different?

Marcondes: I didn’t see them every day because they travelled a lot and I had some days off. The days they had to travel to an away game they would meet up a lot later than so I would not always see them. You get a bit isolated from the group and it’s really hard. We’ve just got a new gym, which is nice, but being in there on your own while the others are out playing football is the hardest part of being injured. You’re so close to them and can literally see them from the window, yet you’re so far away. You can see them having fun and yet you’re not part of it. It’s tough.

Hebo: You mentioned your YouTube channel. How do you have the energy to do all these things?

Marcondes: It’s really important to me. The players I remember from when I was a child were the players who gave back to the fans and communities and were humble around young fans and players. I have always taken the time to talk to the fans. Some players don’t relish all the attention that comes with being a professional footballer. I hope that will never happen to me, nor do I think it ever will. Young children are so inspired by us and I think it’s our duty to give back to them. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my projects. I’ve practised freekicks so much, so why not try and pass it on to the next generation of footballers. I would’ve loved that as a young boy.

Hebo: Back in 2017 when you had your breakthrough at FC Nordsjælland, there were a lot of transfer rumours around you. Why did you choose to join Brentford. Did you know back then that you were going to be competing for promotion to Premier League?

Marcondes: It was certainly the goal. It was what I thought about when I chose Brentford. We wanted to aim for a top-6 position first because we were a mid-table team back then. I could see there were signs of better things to come. They brought in players of a calibre that was unprecedented for the club, and it’s only gone one way since then. To have been a part of this journey is one of the best things about my time here. It was a completely different club when I joined compared to where we are today. The culture was very different and we have become more development-oriented and also built a winning mentality. We’ve progressed and improved every season. I dream about being promoted to the Premier League with Brentford and it has been my ambition ever since I joined. Therefore, it’s been incredible to be part of the journey. It was devastating when we didn’t get promoted last season. I even get chills down my spine as we talk about it.

Hebo: How long were people feeling down after the Playoff Final defeat and how did the loss affect you?

Marcondes: Well, I actually don’t think I’ve got over it yet, to be honest. It still affects me a lot when I talk about it. It evokes bad feelings like emptiness that I have never had before. We were so close three times. It’s insane and words don’t quite do the feelings justice. I still can’t get my head around how we didn’t get promoted last season. The mental part of football is all-important and I think we all learned that the hard way. We had won nine games in a row and created the opportunity to overtake West Brom. We lost to Stoke who, on paper, should be one of the easiest games we had. The same goes for the game against Barnsley who were struggling at the bottom of the table. It’s ridiculous, and something I will never forget. I actually think it helped that we had to start the preparations for next season so soon after. We only had twelve days off. I think all that helped to change the mood of the squad relatively quickly. However, the memories and thoughts were still there when I was trying to fall asleep or when I had some time to myself. The first week after Wembley I slept so poorly. I don’t even think I slept at all the first three nights. I kept waking up in the middle of the night with bad dreams. It’s quite scary that football can do such things to you, but I think it’s because playing in the Premier League has been the goal ever since I came here – ever since I was a child actually. It’s always been my dream, and being so close and having it swept away right in front of your nose… You just feel like everything is so unfair. We felt we were the best team in all the three games we lost, and yet we failed to grasp promotion.

Hebo: You mentioned the mental side of football. This season, you haven’t lost that many games and you’ve managed to stay in the fight for promotion once again, so that says a lot about your mental strength. How do you see your chances of getting promoted this season?

Marcondes: Well we have last season’s experience which I think could prove to be a massive benefit for us going into the last few games. I also think we have an even better team this season despite losing Benrahma and Watkins. Even though we’ve had quite a lot of injuries this season, I think the replacements have stepped up to the task, and I actually feel like we are a stronger unit this time, because we’ve been through this together.

Hebo: It’s no secret that Brentford have sold many players for a lot of money. However, it’s quite unusual that they let their players run out of contract, yet that seems to be the case for you as your contract ends this summer and you haven’t officially signed any contract yet. Is that something you think about a lot?

Marcondes: Well, on my days off, and during this international break, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about it, to be honest. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t at the back of my mind most of the time. It happened to me before when I was at FC Nordsjælland. I think I can take some experience from then and be calmer about it. I’ll focus on my training and what I can do better, and when I’m home I can think about my situation and talk to my agent about things and how to handle the last couple of months here.

Hebo: Thank you very much for joining me, and best of luck with the rest of the season.

Marcondes: Thank you very much. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you.

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BEES DAD AND DAUGHTER TAKE WOMEN’S TEAMS FORWARD WITH BRENTFORD FC

BEES DAD AND DAUGHTER TAKE WOMEN’S TEAMS FORWARD WITH BRENTFORD FC

Brentford FC Women have had a successful season and they are not finished yet in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first time women played in a league in Brentford colours. A 2-1 victory on the iconic Hackney Marshes against Hackney Women’s Reserves confirmed Brentford’s Development Squad, effectively the Women’s B team, as winners of Division Two North of the Greater London League. The next week they won away again, this time at Actonians and were crowned Champions having won every league match this season. After the victory at Hackney First Team Coach Karleigh Osborne tweeted ‘fantastic achievement by the team! They’ve worked really hard this season & deserve it”. Brentford FC chairman Cliff Crown sent ‘many congrats on winning the league’.

Brentford defender Larique McPherson-Maraj clears the ball after a Hackney attack. Picture by Mike Casey.

On the same  day, 9th May,  Brentford’s First Team put up a spirited fight back against Walton Casuals, the dominant team in the Premier Division of that League, before going down 4-2.The following week they beat Clapham.They have also got through to the quarter-finals of the Intermediate Capital Cup which will be played on June 6th, kick-off 2.30 at the Bedfont Sports Club.

Kaitlyn Spencer-Dempsey scored both Brentford goals against Walton. Picture by www.jamesprickett.co.uk

 

Brentford goal-keeper Emily Boycott prevents another Walton goal.

It was the 1991-2 season when Brentford first entered the League. Roger Crook had started a team when his daughter Amy got passionate about football. It was called ‘Brentford Women’s Football Club’ and the link with BFC was informal. Now as women’s football is increasingly welcomed and integrated into the main club structure Roger is still involved and daughter Amy is Brentford’s General Manager of Women’s Football. “I was always playing football” says Amy “I started at 12 but had to stop at 31 because of injury. But later I got a Level 2 FA coaching badge and went into player management after that.”

The Women’s Football pyramid in England is even more complicated than the men’s but basically the County Leagues, as they are known, form a 7th tier of the women’s game. Normal promotion rules are suspended because of COVID but the FA have indicated they will consider applications from clubs who want to move up a league from the 7th tier this summer. As the first team are in the top three Brentford has applied for promotion.

Winning a League title in Amy Crook’s first year in her new role is a symbol of Brentford’s ambition at a time of growing interest in the women’s game across the UK. In addition the Brentford Community Stadium will be one of the venues for the Women’s Euros next year. Amy Crook says Brentford Women now have “a team of committed and qualified coaches headed up by Brentford legend Karleigh Osborne who is in his third season with us”. She believes the First Team are capable of moving up from the 7th tier to the FA Women’s National League level which is Tier 4.

Karleigh Osborne prepares the First Team for the game against Walton at Bedfont Sports Club.

 

Roger Crook told Bees United: ” I would like to say a huge thank you to Brentford FC, Jon Varney in particular, plus Sally Stephens, Jon Burr and Amy for all their help and for what they have done in helping to push the Club forward. I know it will progress and achieve so much more in the future to make it an even more outstanding Club to belong to. I have been exceptionally lucky with all the Coaches and Players,Committee Members  and Parents whose attitude and help is first class. Without them there would be no Brentford FC Women so they also deserve a huge thank you and long may they continue the journey with us”.

Amy Crook started doing coaching badges and player management from as early as 18 years old but she may be a more familiar face to Bees supporters from Griffin Park where she was the Community Sports Trust’s Match-day Community Co-ordinator shepherding BuzzBee and visitors into position for photographs before games. She was also Office Manager for the Trust where she worked for a total of 27 years before moving over to the Club itself last September.

Amy Crook with BuzzBee before a game at Griffin Park in 2017.

 

Both women’s teams play their matches at Bedfont Sports Club which has high quality ‘3G’ pitches and a pitch side bar and cafe for spectators. Training is now on Wednesdays at the Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub where the Trust also has a new base and back at Bedfont on Fridays. 

Brentford FC Women have been holding First and B team trials during May and more information is available from Amy at ACrook@BrentfordFC.com.

Brentford Women’s First Group.

 

Brentford Women’s Development Group

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WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON AT GRIFFIN PARK?

WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON AT GRIFFIN PARK?

In March we reported that Ecoworld, the developers who bought Griffin Park from the club, were planning less commemoration of the history of the site than originally set out in their planning application. They were preparing a new application for a ‘community park at the heart of the development’. BIAS, who had been on an earlier fans zoom meeting with Ecoworld about the new plan, followed up with detailed feedback setting out their concerns. They called for a further zoom meeting and this has now been held with BIAS, BU and the club all represented. Chris Tate represented Bees United.

The BU view is that the meeting was encouraging. The revised scheme will incorporate a much larger park, the focal point of which will be an area called the Hive which will be an area of seating around the location of the old centre circle with  potentially a water feature to include a mosaic bee or of the club badge. Plaques and an information board will also be erected in this area to record all iterations of the club badge and a brief potted history of our successes and achievements. EcoWorld foresee this area of the development as somewhere fans will be able to visit to remember GP. There’ll also be a plaque to commemorate the 100’s of people whose ashes have been scattered there. 7 turnstiles have been retained and along with some of the crash barriers, it is intended to incorporate these within the development, perhaps at the pedestrian entrances or as part of cycle calming at the end of the shared cycle/doorways. There will also be a commemorative structure of some kind in each of the four floodlight positions and subject to Council stipulations, the road and apartment blocks will likely carry BFC related names. As regards timings, the revised application is due to be submitted within the next couple of weeks with a decision expected by the end of the year and a provisional start on site date in February.

Meanwhile the demolition of Griffin Park continues. Some fans have said they have trouble looking at the pictures of the stands being taken down but for those who can cope Sky Sports produced a very good video report .  This was one striking image in the video, the tearing down of the top of the Braemar Road stand.

Access was given to Sky partly in response to some strange events which are best chronicled in a statement from EcoWorld earlier in May:

‘EcoWorld London recently became aware that some Brentford fans have been given private tours of the site by the demolition contractors, Northeast Demolition Ltd. Some fans subsequently posted about this on social media. A Brentford FC supporter group that we are in contact with raised this with EcoWorld London, who were unaware that the tours were taking place. We immediately asked Northeast Demolition to stop these tours as they potentially pose health and safety concerns.Since taking ownership of the site EcoWorld London have continuously worked with Brentford FC to ensure parts of the stadium of significant heritage will be saved during the demolition and given over to the club to either form part of a future exhibition or to be auctioned for charity.Over the coming weeks, EcoWorld London will be donating a large number of seats at Griffin Park to lower league football clubs. This will ensure that the seats continue their life benefiting football and football fans for years to come’.

Some of the seats donated by the club and by EcoWorld are now visible at non-league teams around England. The Chairman of Hallen FC said thanks in a report on Sky Sports

Petersfield Town posted this on a Brentford Facebook page:

 

A week later Barry O’Neill followed up with this:

As part of their enragement with local communities EcoWorld have sent out their own newsletter, here’s an extract.

Bees United will keep you up to date with developments.

 

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