HOW WAS THE ARSENAL GAME FOR YOU?

HOW WAS THE ARSENAL GAME FOR YOU?

JIM WALSH ‘Supporter 44 years, BU Member since 2001 (since the start) and BIAS for probably about 25 years’.

13th August 2011 – a League One defeat at Sheffield United (following a League Cup first round defeat at Hereford). 10 years later I enjoyed possibly my best day in over 40 years supporting the Bees.

It was more than a dream come true. The buzz approaching the new stadium, meeting with friends not seen for 18 months, everyone smiling, disbelieving we were here – our first game in the top-flight for 74 years (our first ever in the Premier League – against Arsenal, a giant of English football). 

That it was under lights just added to the occasion. Even pre-match, it was electric – “Hey Jude” as the Arsenal team entered the cauldron was spine tingling – and I’m sure would have sent a shudder through our opponents. Every Bees player, every Bees fan, gave everything they had – Bee Together exemplified. The “bus stop in Hounslow” were excellent and deservedly beat our illustrious neighbours. 

The night typified all that’s good about Brentford. Among many moments I’ll never forget:

  • Hey Jude
  • The goals (for a deserved “debut” win)
  • The standing ovations for Rob Rowan and for Saka (before renewing “hostilities”)
  • Thomas and Woody
  • Realising we are here on merit (and here to stay)

The perfect evening!!

JON GOSLING ‘First game 9 March 1969, Notts County home 0-0. Director of the Club Feb 2006-Feb 2009’

The Arsenal game was my first visit to the Stadium and all I can say is Wow!  My main concern leaving Griffin Park was, would our new home be as close to the action and as atmospheric?  I really feared a soulless new stadium (like many I’ve been to) but instead we have a soulful one!  The best compliment I can pay to all those involved in creating it is to say “Thank you” for creating a 21st Century Griffin Park.  Our first Premier League game showed what sort of atmosphere can be created; the challenge to us supporters is to keep that going for the rest of the season and beyond.  

What a way to showcase the start of the Premier League Season and show what Brentford is all about to a worldwide audience.  I saw, skill, hard work, out thinking the opposition, togetherness, respect and good manners regarding Rob Rowan/Bukayo Saka, a deep connection between players and supporters (the clips with Woody were particularly touching), a fantastic atmospheric new stadium and a deserved win for the Bees!  In the best league world there will no doubt be tougher days ahead but, with continued togetherness, I suspect a few betting companies and pundits might just be proved wrong at the end of the season.  

DON TANSWELL’ I’m a junior supporter – but retired from work! First match, Bees v Norwich, 1st January 2019, shivers up and down the back of my neck to feel that family atmosphere’

A song, sort of about hope, kept on going through my mind before Friday.

Then all of a sudden, the six year old grandson arrived to watch his first ever match and before we knew it, after a quick walk along the river there were crowds and crowds and crowds and we arrived at a big full stadium with noise and noise and noise. Nerves, thrills and expectation mixed together amongst our great big crowd. Youngsters growing up by the minute with their future key moments to savour and oldsters getting younger as every kick got us closer to the biggest moments in decades of memories for some or in more recent memory for myself, plus Ryan and Niall who came all the way from Dublin.

I know some of us said we dared not to dream because it was all too much to hope for, so what more can I say that you don’t already know, well, it’s that song which actually came true around 9.48, which starts like this…
“Fairytales can come true, It can happen to you, If you’re young at heart”
We all become kiddies again that Friday night, I know I did

 

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THOMAS FRANK AND HIS TRUSTED FORMATION

THOMAS FRANK AND HIS TRUSTED FORMATION

Thomas Frank, as many suspected, went with what has become his trusted  formation. And with its many upsides, who can blame him?

From the front, Toney draws the initial attention and gets a lively and tenacious partner running in, around and beyond him in Bryan Mbeumo. 

In central midfield, Janelt, Nørgaard and Frank Onyeka  positionally flatten, squeeze, stagger and decompress when the moment is right to provide central solidity and the off the ball work to hopefully see Brentford compete for a top of the bottom 6 table spot. 

The wide flanks are manned by energetic livewires Henry and Canos, both physically able to contribute in attack and defence mere seconds between each other. Their recovery runs and awareness to drop back into a flat back 5 help give the formation its impenetrable feel. 

In the centre of defence, Ajer, Jansson and Pinnock are positionally superb and even better in possession, working in tandem with David Raya to give Brentford a firm base to build from with passing routes out to the wingbacks waiting high and wide. Being some of tallest and aerially dominant players in the division helps a bit too, making defensive or attacking set-pieces, both dead ball or long throws, something to be relished and not feared. 

Brentford didn’t have everything their own way during the season opener as former Celtic team mate of Ajer, Tierney, marauded down the left wing and saw a huge chunk of Arsenal’s attacking ball. As a predominant left footer, he was a powerful runner in possession out wide and when freed from his marker either resorted to long loopy crosses into a box or lower crosses crowded out by the anticipation and positioning of Jansson and Pinnock. Arsenal’s attack played into the hands of Brentford.

As many Premier League teams possess skilled ball-playing midfield technicians with forwards who like to drop deep and get on the ball in the central pockets, defenders who enjoy sitting deep and controlling space zonally can prosper if the players ahead of them press with coordination and joined up intensity to force teams wide. There’s rarely huge spaces left between the back 3 and Raya in goal and this allows Brentford to sit out of possession in a compact block of players across the field ready to expand and offer simple passing options when the ball is won back. 3-5-2 quickly moves into 3-1-2-4 as Brentford push their own goal scoring plans upon opponents. 

Better teams stacked with better forwards will likely make more of the attacking situations Arsenal conjured up under the Friday night lights of New Griffin Park. What we saw defensively in the opening fixture may not have the same impact against Leicester City’s Vardy or Tottenham’s Son who both like to stretch in behind. Brentford conceded 22 shots fired off by the Gunners but much like an experienced boxer with greater reach and a tighter counter punch on the defence, it never felt like Arsenal had enough to make knockout glove to jaw contact. Of the 22 attempts that did connect effectively, Raya was agile and well positioned to deal with what came his way, particularly a low first-time Pepe effort in the box late on. 

Wholesale change between a successful Championship campaign and a Premier League season doesn’t tend to breed a great deal more success. In recent years, promoted teams such as Leeds and Sheffield United took a core group of players across the divide and reaped the benefits of team chemistry and system familiarity to earn consecutive top flight seasons. 

These examples bode well for Brentford with 9 core starters from the Play-off winning campaign stepping onto Premier League pitches performing like they’ve been there all of their lives. A system Thomas Frank switched to, to breathe life into the team at the back end of last season has been supercharged by swapping in Ajer and Onyeka for Dalsgaard and potentially Jensen. A familiarity in shape as well as a system added to with off ball and progressive attacking power houses to drive Thomas Franks’ team up field has so far given us further belief that we’re here to compete against the best and hopefully call the top flight home for longer than the odds suggested. 

David can be found talking tactics with football fans and industry experts on The Bees Tactical Podcast.
Find their tweets at  @BeesTactical
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BRENTFORD 2 ARSENAL 0

BRENTFORD 2 ARSENAL 0

This was no flash in the pan, no riding of luck by new boys of the Premier League. Here we saw the dismantling of one of the most famous teams in football by a side offering a total of less than an hour at this level; a club that arrived at the summit after 74 years of varying fortunes and myriad disappointments. 

What a team, what a squad this is. And what an army of supporters, christening the Premier League debut at their state-of-the-art new stadium with full-throated support but also standing after 28 minutes in tribute to late technical director Rob Rowan, who died suddenly at the age of 28, and then repeating the exercise in respecting Arsenal’s sub Bukayo Saka, who suffered appalling online abuse after missing a penalty for England in the Euro final earlier in the year. 

The preparation for this occasion had seen emotions flooding the two challenging friendly fixtures at the Community Stadium. 

Although losing 0-1 to West Ham – fittingly, the Hammers’ goal was crafted and scored by Said Benrahma, a star Bee and crowd favourite until transferred at the beginning of last season – Brentford looked sharp and hungry. Then came Spanish visitors Valencia, a match I watched on TV in Spain that left confident Valencians shaking their heads as Ethan Pinnock and new signing Frank Onyeka each scored to cancel out an earlier Valencia goal and give Brentford a 2-1 victory.

Back in West London, as the days ticked by towards the first Premier League game of the season – an occasion to be further heightened by full TV coverage – anticipation and optimism grew. There was magic abroad in the air. 

And so to the big event and the atmosphere, which appeared to have been transported unaltered along Kew Bridge Road from Griffin Park. Only the locale had changed, now resembling pre-match like a major movie location. 

Media crews scuttled here and there. The pitch sprinklers sprinkled prettily. Peter Gilham – Mr Brentford – stood close to the edge of the centre line, presumably pondering on how his introduction of the teams could make history. The west end collectively cleared its throat and the decibel count soared.

Five minutes to go and Hey Jude reached a crescendo. The words of head coach Thomas Franks’ address on the big video screens were drowned out. So was Peter Gilham’s welcoming of the teams, except for the familiar bellow of the word BRENTFORD, which flirted with the crowd noise and could just about be made out by those with an acute sense of hearing.

Both teams fielded the selected starting line-up together with substitutes, Arsenal resplendent in multi-coloured tops, Brentford in a scarlet that shouted as loudly as the West Stand Alliance massed behind the home goal – ‘A place for the Brentford supporters who want a real atmosphere at Lionel Road’.

Arsenal, famous for their red shirts and white shorts but here tidy in their blue third strip, set off at a crackerjack pace. For five minutes or so, Brentford looked as if they might be overawed by the North London superstars, but with new signings Kristoffer Ajer and Frank Onyeka settling into the defence and midfield respectively, the Bees established a rhythm that began to unsettle the visitors. 

The home crowd dominating an attendance of 16,479 loved it; ‘We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow’ they chanted with self-deprecation, while Arsenal fans mustered their own choir to proclaim superiority (‘We’re just too good for you’) bred in history and confirmed in 2020-21 – hardly their best of seasons for one of soccer’s elite – with eighth position in the League.

And then Bryan Mbeumo hit a post, denying the Bees the lead by a few inches. No matter. With a defence looking more impenetrable by the minutes and striker Ivan Toney marshalling the attack force with customary skill, it looked likely that Brentford might be the first to score. And so they were, with Ethan Pinnock heading the ball into the path of Sergi Canós for the wing back to sprint across the penalty area to fire a shot fierce enough to beat goalkeeper Bernd Leno at his near post.

Arsenal, doubtless with a pep talk from manager Mikel Arteta ringing in their ears, regrouped and became more of a threat after the interval. As the home defence wearied, it became clear that a decisive thrust was required to hold them off. Another goal, for example, which was stunningly provided when Mads Bech Sorensen, having been substituted for Ajer, propelled a long throw from the touchline into the goal area and Christian Nørgaard climbed higher than a stuttering Arsenal defence – and leaping colleague Mbeumo! – to head firmly into the net. It was Norgaard’s first-ever goal for the club. It was that kind of game.

Following Frank and his squad’s lap of honour, the crowd left the ground, reluctantly, cresting a sea of delirium.

 ‘I wouldn’t have wished to be anywhere else on earth today,’ I told my mate Charlie.

‘And we’re top of the League,’ said Charlie. And and so we were, for about 990 glorious, golden minutes. 

Brentford: Raya; Ayer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Onyeka, Norgaard, Janelt, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney. Substitutes used: Bech Sorensen 71, Bidstrup 80, Forss 86.

Arsenal: Leno; Chambers, White, Mari, Tierney; Sambi Lokonga, Xharka; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Balogun. Subs used: Saka 59, Nelson 71, Tavares 81.

This report first appeared on the Chiswick Calendar website chiswickcalendar.co.uk 

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STATS SPECIAL

STATS SPECIAL

BRENTFORD FC: TOP DIVISION MISCELLANY

HOME LEAGUE RECORD v FELLOW PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS 2021/22
Club (First season) P W D L F A Last Win Last Home
Watford (1920/21) 32 15 10 7 56 38 2021 1 May 2021
Brighton and Hove Albion (1920/21) 31 16 6 9 65 45 2014 5 Feb 2017
Norwich City (1920/21) 26 13 6 7 52 33 2009 27 Oct 2020
Leeds United (1935/36) 19 8 8 3 31 19 2019 11 Feb 2020
Southampton (1920/21) 18 8 6 4 28 18 1958 30 Apr 2011
Crystal Palace (1920/21) 15 10 2 3 36 21 1963 7 Sep 1963
Wolverhampton Wanderers (1935/36) 13 7 2 4 26 15 2016 26 Aug 2017
Burnley (1933/34) 12 5 4 3 19 14 1997 15 Jan 2016
Leicester City (1937/38) 10 2 3 5 13 17 1952 9 Jan 1993
West Ham United (1933/34) 10 3 5 2 15 12 1954 20 Dec 1992
Everton (1935/36) 8 5 2 1 16 8 1953 3 Oct 1953
Aston Villa (1935/36) 6 3 0 3 9 9 2019 13 Feb 2019
Arsenal (1935/36) 5 4 0 1 8 2 1938 26 May 1947
Chelsea (1935/36) 5 3 1 1 5 4 1938 15 Mar 1947
Liverpool (1935/36) 5 2 1 2 10 9 1938 17 May 1947
Manchester United (1933/34) 5 2 1 2 12 10 1937 12 Apr 1947
Manchester City (1935/36) 4 2 1 1 6 7 1951 3 Mar 1951
Newcastle United (1933/34) 4 2 0 2 6 4 1948 14 Jan 2017
Tottenham Hotspur (1947/48) 3 1 1 1 4 5 1948 20 Aug 1949
231 111 59 61 417 290
AWAY LEAGUE RECORD v FELLOW PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS 2021/22
Club P W D L F A Last Win Last Away
Watford 32 6 13 13 36 51 1977 15 Dec 2020
Brighton and Hove Albion 31 7 5 19 32 60 2016 10 Sep 2016
Norwich City 26 5 5 16 23 44 2017 3 Mar 2021
Leeds United 19 3 6 10 15 29 2015 21 Aug 2019
Southampton 18 4 5 9 27 31 2010 11 Dec 2010
Crystal Palace 15 3 2 10 18 27 1957 11 Jan 1964
Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 4 1 8 17 27 2015 2 Jan 2018
Burnley 12 2 4 6 13 20 1996 22 Aug 2015
Leicester City 10 4 5 1 11 13 1953 19 Sep 1992
West Ham United 10 3 2 5 10 17 1953 17 Apr 1993
Everton 8 2 0 6 6 21 1946 24 Feb 1954
Aston Villa 6 0 4 2 7 15 22 Aug 2018
Arsenal 5 1 3 1 6 6 1938 12 Oct 1946
Chelsea 5 1 0 4 8 10 1939 9 Nov 1946
Liverpool 5 1 2 2 6 7 1937 26 Oct 1946
Manchester United 5 2 1 2 7 9 1937 7 Dec 1946
Manchester City 4 1 0 3 4 8 1937 14 Oct 1950
Newcastle United 4 1 0 3 7 11 1934 15 Oct 2016
Tottenham Hotspur 3 0 1 2 1 7 17 Dec 1949
231 50 59 122 253 413

Never played outside the top tier against: Arsenal; Chelsea; Liverpool

Never played in the top tier against: Brighton; Burnley; Crystal Palace; Newcastle; Norwich; Southampton; Tottenham; Watford; West Ham (9)

TOP DIVISION RECORD AGAINST FELLOW PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS 2021-22
T1

Seas

Other Home Away Total
P W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A
Arsenal 5 0 10 4 0 1 8 2 1 3 1 6 6 5 3 2 14 8
Chelsea 5 0 10 3 1 1 5 4 1 0 4 8 10 4 1 5 13 14
Liverpool 5 0 10 2 1 2 10 9 1 2 2 6 7 3 3 4 16 16
Manchester U. 3 2 6 1 1 1 6 5 1 0 2 4 8 2 1 3 10 13
Everton 5 3 10 3 2 0 12 4 2 0 3 7 12 5 2 3 19 16
Leeds United 5 14 10 1 3 1 8 6 2 0 3 7 12 3 3 4 15 18
Wolves 5 8 10 4 0 1 14 5 1 0 4 7 15 5 0 5 21 20
Aston Villa 3 3 6 0 0 3 3 8 0 1 2 4 12 0 1 5 7 20
Manchester City 3 1 6 1 1 1 4 7 1 0 2 4 4 2 1 3 8 11
Leicester City 2 8 4 1 1 0 3 1 1 1 0 2 1 2 2 0 5 2
31 17 34 128 138
FIRST DIVISION RESULTS 1935-1947 V PREMIER LEAGUE CLUBS 2021/22
1935/36 1936/37 1937/38 1938/39 1946/47
H A H A H A H A H A
Arsenal W 2-1 D 1-1 W 2-0 D 1-1 W 3-0 W 2-0 W 1-0 L 0-2 L 0-1 D 2-2
Chelsea W 2-1 L 1-2 W 1-0 L 1-2 D 1-1 L 1-2 W 1-0 W 3-1 L 0-2 L 2-3
Liverpool L 1-2 D 0-0 W 5-2 D 2-2 L 1-3 W 4-3 W 2-1 L 0-1 D 1-1 L 0-1
Everton W 4-1 W 2-1 D 2-2 L 0-3 W 3-0 L 0-3 W 2-0 L 1-2 D 1-1 W 2-0
Leeds United D 2-2 W 2-1 W 4-1 L 1-3 D 1-1 L 0-4 L 0-1 L 2-3 D 1-1 W 2-1
Wolves W 5-0 L 2-3 W 3-2 L 0-4 W 2-1 L 1-2 L 0-1 L 2-5 W 4-1 W 2-1
Aston Villa L 1-2 D 2-2 L 2-4 L 0-5 L 0-2 L 2-5
Manchester City D 0-0 L 1-2 L 2-6 L 1-2 W 2-1 W 2-0
Manchester United W 4-0 W 3-1 L 2-5 L 0-3 D 0-0 L 1-4
Leicester City D 1-1 W 1-0 W 2-0 D 1-1
BRENTFORD’S FIRST DIVISION RECORD 1935/36 TO 1946/47
Home Away
Sea Posn P W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A PTS
16 5th 42 11 5 5 48 25 6 7 8 33 35 17 12 13 81 60 46
17 6th 42 14 5 2 58 32 4 5 12 24 46 18 10 14 82 78 46
18 6th 42 10 6 5 44 27 8 3 10 25 32 18 9 15 69 59 45
19 18th 42 11 2 8 30 27 3 6 12 23 47 14 8 20 53 74 36
20 21st  42 5 5 11 19 35 4 2 15 26 53 9 7 26 45 88 25
210 51 23 31 199 146 25 23 57 131 213 76 46 88 330 359 198

CHAMPIONS

1935/36 Sunderland

1936/37 Manchester City

1937/38 Arsenal

1938/39 Everton

1946/47 Liverpool

2021/22 Chelsea or Manchester United?

First Top Division Match: 31st August 1935: A v Bolton Wanderers W 2-0 (Jack Holliday 2)

Most Recent Top Division Home Match: 26th May 1947: v Arsenal L 0-1

Most Recent Top Division Away Match: 24th May 1947: v Sunderland L 1-2

Most Recent Home Win in Top Division: v Wolves (4-1) 18th January 1947

Most Recent Away Win in Top Division: v Leeds (2-1) 5th April 1947

Latest top division scorer: Len Townsend A v Sunderland (1-2) 24th May 1947

Latest Home scorer: George Stewart H v Liverpool (1-1) 17th May 1947

Brentford have played 3375 League matches since their last tier 1 match

Brentford have scored 4696 goals since their last tier 1 goal

782 players have made their debut in League football for Brentford since the last tier 1 match

Brentford Ambassador Marcus Gayle played 204 Premier League games (174 starts and 30 substitute appearances), just six games fewer than Brentford have played so far!

This will be Brentford’s 95th season since they were elected to the Football League in 1920

Brighton and Watford will, next season, join Grimsby and Huddersfield as the only clubs Brentford have met at all four tiers of the English game. The Bees also played Brighton and Watford in the Southern League.

When Brentford play on 13th August 2021 it will be 74 years 2 months and 18 days since the last top division match (27,108 days) and 85 years 11 months and 13 days since their first top division match (31,394 days).

CURRENT TIER 1 RECORDS

Top 10 League Appearances (1935-1947)

Dai Hopkins 185

Joe James 157

Billy Scott 149

Joe Crozier 119

Dave McCulloch 117

Duncan McKenzie 111

George Poyser 108

Bobby Reid 103

Jack Holliday   96

Bill “Buster” Brown   92

63 players have played top tier football for the Bees

Top 10 League Goalscorers (1935-1947)

Dave McCulloch 85

Billy Scott 40

Dai Hopkins 34

Bobby Reid 34

Jack Holliday 28

Gerry McAloon 12

Len Townsend 12

Duncan McKenzie 10

Tommy Cheetham   8

George Wilkins   7

33 players have scored for Brentford in the top division

Scoring

Home

6-0 Derby

5-0 Wolves

1-5 Sunderland

2-6 Manchester City

Away

4-2 Preston

3-0 Huddersfield

1-6 Grimsby/ Sheffield United

0-5 Aston Villa

TOP OF THE LEAGUE

First time 16th October 1937 to 16th February 1938 (except 23rd October 1937) – 4 months

And 31st August 1946 (first week of the season!)

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RICK REVEALS ‘I WANTED TO OWN THE BEES’

RICK REVEALS ‘I WANTED TO OWN THE BEES’

Rick Wakeman told the Griffin Park Grapevine message board in 2020 that he had once offered to pay to use the Griffin Park roof as an advertising platform for a record company. But now in an interview with BU to mark his recent CBE  Rick says his investors actually wanted to go further and buy the whole club in order to control the roof space.

The story of how Rick nearly became the owner of the Bees goes back to 1976 when professional soccer was just starting in America and Rick was playing concerts there regularly. His record company was Atlantic Records which was owned by the Turkish-American brothers, Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun, who had  bought the New York Cosmos franchise. Rick takes up the story: “the Erteguns said to their artists ‘why don’t you buy a club’. So  some of us bought the Philadelphia Fury franchise . My job was to help sign the players.We came to England and bought Alan Ball, Peter Osgood,Terry Mancini. and others. 

“Then one day in 1976 I was in Toronto playing with ‘Yes’ and Nesuhi Ertegun, who really knew his football, asked to see me.  He said ’You have associations with Brentford don’t you. I want you to buy the club’. I said ’what?’ . He said ‘I think the grounds in England are tired, they are old and they are dangerous’. He was so right. He said ‘I hate to say it but Griffin Park is one of them, it is a tinderbox waiting to happen. But if you buy it I will give you a million dollars to start with’, which was a fortune back then, ‘and you can assemble what you want’.

“I said why do you want to do this?’ He said ‘what I want is the roof. I want ‘Warners Welcomes You to Britain’ on the flight path to Heathrow’. He owned the Warner Music Group. He said ‘That’s what I want and we will pay every year to keep the roof.That way you can keep Brentford out of any financial difficulties.You could probably bring enough good players to buy your way out of that division.” Brentford were then in the Fourth Division.  “Nesuhi wanted me to sit on the board as their representative”.

“I was very excited, got it all in writing and went to the Brentford board of the time, and made a presentation. But they clearly didn’t like this long-haired rock and roller and I was told ‘Do you think we are some kind of cheap advertising hoarding? We are a professional football club’.I was sent out with a flea in my ear.

“Nesuhi foresaw what would happen in football, the stadium disasters, the involvement of big companies, he was way ahead of his time. A couple of seasons later that same Brentford board leased the roof to KLM for an absolute pittance compared to what Nesuhi Ertegun was offering . It rattled in my throat for quite a long time.”

Rick Wakeman and Elton John (then Chairman of Watford) at a Brentford v Watford game in 1978

A few years later Rick became a Brentford director but not an owner. “It was a really bizarre time. Brentford was then a yo-yo club between the third and the fourth divisions, I had became a Vice-President which I was very proud to be.Then I moved to Switzerland, living in Montreux, I was a friend of Brentford director Dan Tana and he called me up and said ‘Rick you’ve just been voted onto the Board of Directors’. I went ‘wow’, it was a childhood dream but in retrospect I should have said that’s very kind of you but now is not the right time. I was going through a phenomenally expensive divorce and living in Switzerland going to games wasn’t exactly a case of I’ll just pop round to Griffin Park. It was a big mistake. I flew over for some games and board meetings for about a year but I had to resign. I sadly walked away from something I should never have walked into in the first place.”

Despite these two unsuccessful brushes with Brentford hierarchies Rick, who was born in Perivale and educated at Drayton Manor School, has remained a staunch supporter of the club since he first went to a game at Griffin Park. 

“My dad and his father were both Brentford supporters, and they lived in a little place in Hammersmith and they used to walk to Griffin Park for the games. One Saturday when I was five and we were living in Sudbury my Mum told me she had knitted me a red and white bobble hat and scarf. She said you can wear this today because your dad is taking you to Brentford.There were no merchandise shops then, your mum knitted you everything. My dad drove me to the ground in his old 1938 Morris Eight, the ground seemed huge back then and it held about 30,000 people.”  

His father sent him through the junior turnstile and told him to wait the other side. “There were a lot of people and I couldn’t see my dad for love or money. I got shoved down the front, somebody gave me a packet of Percy Dalton peanuts, and I semi-forgot about my dad. I watched the game, these were the days of Jim Towers and Gerry Francis, Ken Coote and Gerry Cakebread. At half-time there was an announcement over the tannoy, it was a but blurry and I vaguely heard my name mentioned. I didn’t think anything about it and watched the second half.

“At the end the man on the tannoy said ;’ Will Richard Wakeman go to the General Manager’s office where his father is waiting for him’. When we were reunited my dad was furious. I said ;’I watched the game’ and he said ‘well that’s more than I bloody did’. 

When we got home my mum said ‘Hello Cyril, how did they get on’. He replied ‘ask your bloody son, I missed the game’.That was the start of it all. I must have 500 programmes dating back to 1953. 

“My Dad got us season tickets and that was fantastic. He would tell me about the glory days of the First Division”. But Cyril Wakeman, joined by his son, witnessed the slide down the leagues to the bottom tier. This was one of the lowest points in the club’s history. ‘It was really gutting when we were relegated down to the Fourth Division in 1962 but we had a team that would have graced the Second Division with Johnny Brooks, Billy McAdams, John Dick, Mel Scott, Chick Brodie”. Brentford were promoted back as champions of the 1962-3 season. “ I remember going to the last game of the season against Workington, we needed 6 goals to make a hundred goals in that season and at half-time we were four-up, we were taking Workington apart .There were 17,000 people there for a Fourth Division game which was astonishing. In the second-half it all went terribly wrong,Workington scored three goals, we didn’t score any more and we hung on for a 4-3 win. Everybody ran on the pitch at the end to celebrate promotion and we stood in front of players in the stand. It really was a most wonderful time. One of the things I remember really well and I still have it somewhere was the local paper, the Middlesex County Times, and on the back page the next week it was a picture of the Brentford squad and there was a headline ‘Destination Fame’. I cut it out and it was on my bedroom wall for years.That was 1963 so it has taken nearly 60 years for that prophesy to come true.Whoever wrote that was a bit slow, but he was right.”

Rick has a truly extraordinary memory for games from that period. As an example take this match in 1963: “I can remember a Tuesday evening we were playing Wrexham and I can remember the gate, 12,000 people which was the lowest gate that season. Brentford had just bought Dai Ward from Watford and they won 9-nil. It was an absolute slaughter. I can remember the newspaper report saying lowest crowd watches biggest win’. What our fact check showed was that Rick has got almost all the details right.

The programme for the 1963 game: Brentford 9 Wrexham 0

“Throughout my years of going since 1953 I’ve seen some periods of time when the football was what my dad used to call ’head in hands’.” When he moved into tax exile Rick decided it was “a bloody long way to go from the Isle of Man to Griffin Park” and started going to Manchester City who at that time had gone down to the third tier of football. “ I discovered that Brentford was so many people’s favourite second club, they had such a soft spot for Brentford. I realised ‘wait a minute, everybody loves Brentford’.” Now living and recording in Norfolk he follows the Bees on TV and not surprisingly for a fan who was on the terraces when things were at a low ebb he now celebrates Brentford’s return to the top tier.

“I watched the play-off final on TV, and I don’t think there’s any player in any division other than Ivan Toney who could have taken that penalty with that confidence. Once that went in Swansea heads started to go down. They looked like we did against Fulham.

“I had expected us to beat Fulham in the previous season and it is so disappointing when you just lose out but that’s where I take my hat off to all the players, when they came back their heads never dropped in what was such a strange season in so many ways. At one stage when we were top I thought we might pip Norwich but no team that goes through a season where everything goes absolutely right. I just loved our whole managerial ethos of never panicking, never complaining about the ref. That’s what made me proud of the team.” 

In June this year  the news of his CBE honour was a “total and complete shock. I got a strange call from somebody claiming to be at the Cabinet Office I thought it was a hoax. Then I got an email saying Richard Christopher Wakeman was going to get  a CBE. I thought this is a gag, this is one of my mates pulling a flanker, thought nothing about it . Then I got another call and I thought ‘hold on maybe there is something in this’.It was nice to get it for my services over nearly 60 years for music. COVID means there will be a huge delay in going to the Palace to collect it, so I will probably get it when I’m 90.”

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BU RULES OK – IT’S OFFICIAL

BU RULES OK – IT’S OFFICIAL

We revised our rules after 20 years in order to do lots of tidying but in particular to improve our communications, to strengthen our anti-discrimination statement and to create more protection for BU – your – assets.

If you recall, it goes back to 31 March 31 . We were just a Championship Club in those days when over 100 of you, loyal BU members, registered and zoomed up to our very first online AGM.  BFC CEO Jon Varney kicked us off and his Q&A session started emotionally with Jamie Powell, back from treatment in America, looking great, who asked the first question. All the proper details of our AGM followed straight after and we covered a rare topic not covered since our launch back in 2001. We asked you to approve a complete change of our rules which had been part of our Board discussions since June 2020, sponsored by ex BFC and now BU board member, Jon Gosling

It started with a tidy up then grew into a root and branch review and you were happy and now so is our regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The finished job is here.

Several things about the old rules were bugging us!

1.Improve communications

The old rules lived in the world of paper with newspaper ads, letters, multi location events, snail mail.You all know that “fit for purpose” for an international, premier league, organization means online, email, voting at the press of a button and the knowledge that, COVID rules or not, we can all #Beetogether online. Our March AGM was a truly international gathering with BU members dialing in from Canada,  France, Ireland and Israel.

2.Inclusivity – no discrimination

We feel the time is right to shout loud these principles for our international community, club and fans – as a large supporters group of nearly 3000 members, we restate our beliefs 20 years on. Online meetings include everyone but we wanted to do more. We wanted to emphasise, to strengthen, our BU principle that inclusivity means no discrimination. Our rule that states we will not tolerate discriminatory behaviour was strengthened and it was moved to the beginning of our rules, to our “Objects,” Rule 3!

3.More Protection

You know we are here because we have a unique role ensuring that our club is one the fans can call our own. We have a seat on the board of Brentford FC and a ’special share’ to safeguard its long-term future. BU members saved the club from financial disaster back in 2006 and began the partnership with Matthew Benham. Now, we have changed our rules to safeguard BU from attacks such as 100 new members joining from “near to another club” wanting to hijack your money. We closed that gap.

And we haven’t stopped being a bus stop in Hounslow!

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