Dear fellow Bees,
I just wanted to give you a short update on my progress as so many of you have shown such incredible generosity and support towards me and my family during these difficult times.
As you’re probably aware, I am now in Boston and today I received my 19th treatment out of 39 in total. After a rough start in which I had to be admitted to hospital for just over a week due to my last bout of chemotherapy, I was very well looked after by the staff at MGH and soon made a quick recovery in order to start on my proton treatment.
Everything I’ve seen so far from my treatment plan looks very positive and I really feel that I’m in the best possible hands. It is however a long process and it won’t be until further on down the line that I’m back in the UK and had a few more scans that will give me my final results.
I feel good, strong and positive, although sometimes a bit tired, I still manage to log on and watch all of our games through ifollow and with so many being played at the moment it provides me with a welcome distraction. It is very humbling to hear the commentators talk about me in such a kind way.
I do obviously get the odd down day when I feel low, but when that happens I just look at my webpage and start reading all of the wonderful comments and messages of support that I have received from the club, players, staff, everyone who has gone out of their way to promote my story and most of all the fans, as together you’re the ones who have given me this chance. When I read these It makes me feel so much stronger, happier and even more determined to beat this. Everyone involved has been incredible and the support overwhelming. I honestly do not believe there is another club like it in the country. I really don’t.
So I would like to thank you all again so much for all your support you have shown me.
This just leaves me to say, out of the 4 tiers we now find ourselves in, if we can just get ourselves into tier 1 then I think we’ll all be in a much happier place ☺
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas Bees fans,
All the Best Jamie Powell.
- Each club starts off on 2nd December in a particular ‘Tier’ based on their location. So clubs in Tier Two, such as Brentford, will be able to allow 2,000 people to attend home games. But on December 16th the Government will review which area is in which tier, this means that some clubs could change tiers and those currently in Tier Two could then have more fans or no fans at their home games.The tiers are reviewed every 14 days after that creating yet more possibilities of movement between the tiers.
- In normal times a season ticket-holder (STH) can go to every game. Now they will have to go into their club’s ticketing system to try to book a ticket and it is most unlikely they will be able to attend every game.
- Clubs are surveying fans in advance to see if they want to attend these games. That is mostly to help with planning. There could be a variety of reasons why fans don’t want to attend at all; they might be shielding or can’t travel because of the tier they live in or they may not want to watch a game in a stadium which is only 15% full.
- Normally if a season ticket-holder exercises their right not to go to a game that has no real impact on anybody else, but in a limited attendance game every ‘no show’ is a wasted opportunity that another fan could have used.
- Groups of fans who normally sit together won’t be able to do that, only fans who are in the same household. Clubs have the address of every fan at the date that they bought a season-ticket but fans may have moved since then. Some may have changed households because of the pandemic, either moving back to their family home or moving out.
- Trying to accommodate household groups sitting together in a stadium means that the whole seating plan has to be changed. There is no way that STHs can assume they will be in the same seat or even in the same stand that they bought their season-ticket for.
- Within a household group there will be some fans who are long-term STHs and others who are more recent. That means that at the very first game there may be some fans in a household group who have bought their very first season ticket. .
- All this is a big challenge for ticketing systems. Brentford’s system has never been used before for a limited attendance game.
- Championship clubs are in different tiers: 13 clubs are in Tier 3 meaning there can be no fans,9 are in Tier 2 with up to 2,000 fans but none are in Tier 1 which allows for up to 4,000 fans. The two Welsh clubs, Cardiff and Swansea, are subject to the separate rules of the Welsh Government.
- All Championship clubs make money on normal match days from selling tickets to non-STHs, including away fans, plus selling them food and drink. At these games there won’t be any non-STHs. But clubs will still have to pay the stewards and other match day staff. The bottom line is that it is likely that clubs will lose money on each game.
Bees United has asked Brentford FC to exercise as much flexibility as possible while dealing with fans’ requests in these difficult circumstances. In return BU asks that we, the fans, should treat Brentford FC staff with respect remembering that they are trying to enable us to watch a game in the stadium most of us have not yet visited.
Brentford fans have given a positive response to the club’s list of three options for fans who bought season-tickets for the 2020/21 season. Described as ‘freeze’,’reserve’ and ‘refund’ the options offer a range of choices.
Reacting to an email which went to all season-ticket holders the feedback on the Griffin Park Grapevine was strongly in favour of the ‘freeze’ option. First up commenting was ‘King of the Geeks’ who said ‘ Wow !! That’s a generous package, thanks bees !! I reckon over 90 percent will take option 1 since for most it’s a sunk cost. I appreciate there will be some in these trying times who can’t afford it but I must commend the club and the supporters groups they worked with’. Bees blogger Nick Bruzon wrote ‘‘Freeze. Reserve. Refund. That’s a slogan I can get behind’.
On twitter @luisadrianoUK messaged the club: ‘Not a ST holder but a fan of 40+ years pleased to see the replies here. Seems a solution has been found that satisfies most. Well played whoever at the club dealt with this and also @BIAS_bfc @BeesUnited… Thanks possibly also to Ollie Watkins & Dean Smith?! 🐝
Earlier in the process a club statement had said “Throughout an extensive period of uncertainty, we’ve held positive discussions with BIAS, Bees United and other fans.” A statement from BIAS said: “Our discussions have been very open and honest and we are pleased that the Club have listened to our concerns and ideas to generate the range of options now available.”
Bees United Chairman and Brentford FC Director Stewart Purvis said: ‘We strongly the support the principle of the club consulting with fans and have used our seat on the Brentford board to encourage that. BU was an offspring of BIAS and we want the club to continue to talk directly to them. We use our own influence feeding back to the club board and management the view of the BU Board who are all fans. This has helped create a better outcome for all season-ticket holders.”
Bees United continues to hold a ‘special share’ in the club which gives it a veto under certain conditions if the club’s owners wish to move home. That special share has now transferred from Griffin Park to the new stadium.
At the end it was a sad sight. David Raya wanted to get off the pitch and into the dressing room as fast as possible. Thomas Frank stood with a shell-shocked Christian Norgaard alone in the centre of the Wembley turf. Sergi Canos had to be consoled by his coach and colleagues. All that hope, all that promise had come to nothing. Yet the irony was that outplayed as the Bees were for much of this undistinguished match they were still in it with a chance with fifteen minutes to go in extra time.
So what really hurt was that it was the third time at the crunch point of this resumed season that the Bees had failed to take a promotion opportunity. A brilliant season had ended in anti-climax.
Many of the games since the COVID break have been played in a weird atmosphere, but this game took weirdness to a new level. Ninety thousand seats in a stadium with just the lightest sprinkle of them occupied. Instead the wonderful display of Brentford fan flags was moved from Griffin Park to what would have been the Bees end.
The man doing the COVID checks in a tent at the front door of Wembley told me there were 800 names on his expected attendance list. I’m not sure where they all were but they weren’t watching the game. Shout ‘Come On The Bees’ at the top of your voice and it echoed round the stadium. You could hear the players and they could hear you.
From the start it was clear that Fulham were going to be put one hell of a press on the Brentford centre-backs to prevent them playing out from the back. Preston were the first to develop this tactic and others had copied it since. Fulham took it to new extremes, their front line lining up three abreast in front of the Brentford back four for the first quarter of the game. Nobody in the Bees midfield could find any space to take a pass from Jansson or Pinnock as the Fulham midfield doubled Brentford’s trouble by stifling any forward movement. We barely left our own half, instead relying on long balls to the ever willing runner Ollie Watkins.
A first half stat told the story: one Fulham midfielder, Tom Cairney, completed more passes than Brentford’s three put together. Admittedly on half an hour Christian Norgaard had taken the full force of Harrison Reed’s boot on his foot, for which Reed got a yellow and after that little was seen of the Dane. Brentford were relieved to have gone in at half-time nil-nil.
After fifteen minutes of the second half Thomas Frank made an inevitable change to his midfield but it wasn’t to take one of them off. Instead he brought off Bryan Mbeumo who was having a game this young player will want to forget, moved Josh Dasilva forward on the right and Emiliano Marcondes into midfield. Things got a bit better and there was a further marginal improvement when Sergi Canos took over from Dasilva but Fulham were still more forceful going forward even if they didn’t make that many chances.In the Fulham technical area Aleksander Mitrovic, returning from injury, was an ever-present sub lurking in the hope of coming on. But Scott Parker waited until the final few of the 90 minutes to do that.
In the stadium there was a rush to the toilets before extra time began. For those neutrals watching at home on TV the decision was whether to watch another half an hour of what was not a great advert for Championship football. Bees fans had no choice but to carry on, painful as it was at times. Their team was fifteen minutes away from penalties when there was a sequence of events that led to Fulham taking the lead. David Raya who had been having a good game until that point was at the beginning and end of it. As Fulham attacked on the left Raya rushed from his goal out of the box and headed the ball. It fell to Onomah and Norgaard brought him down. While Mitrovic grabbed Marcondes by the throat and threw him to the ground and Jansson grappled with Hector, Joe Bryan was plotting what to do with the free-kick. He looked purposefully towards the blue and white lines of players across the box but it was a disguise, instead of swinging it over for a header as everybody expected he fired directly into the left hand corner of Raya’s net. It left the Spanish goalkeeper stranded as he anticipated a cross that never came. He changed direction too late. Fulham were ahead. Effectively that decided it. Fulham coach Scott Parker said later they’d studied Raya in previous games and spotted he over-anticipated crosses.
In response Thomas Frank went four, or was it five, up front going for an equaliser but Joe Bryan got a second good if more conventional goal after a one-two in the box. In the final minute of the 120 Henrik Dalsgaard got one back for the Bees but it was too late.
Afterwards Frank -asked about top players now being sold- said that Brentford would start the season with a very strong side “but with who I don’t know yet.”Bees fans will be wondering that too. His son sat up with the Brentford delegation above the royal box obviously disappointed that his dad’s team had lost. But when Matthew Benham left Wembley with his family he was remarkably calm, this £160m chance to recoup his £100m investment in Brentford had gone but there would be others and one starts in just over a month.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry (sub Fosu ); Jensen (Dervişoğlu ), Nørgaard, Dasilva ( Canós ); Mbeumo (Marcondes), Watkins, Benrahma
Fulham: Rodák; Odoi (Christie), Hector, Ream, Bryan; Reed, Cairney; Kebano (Knockaert), Onomah ( Le Marchand ), Decordova-Reid ( Mitrović ); Kamara (Instead the Cavaleiro)
We all hoped for something special in the final game at Griffin Park but who could have predicted this? Wonderful goals with our BMW re-tuned to perfection, exhaustive pressing as every player gave their all and, of course Brentford being Brentford, a scare towards the end. Those of us privileged to be inside the old stadium for the last time were left wishing there’d been thousands of fans in the stadium instead of just us, a couple of dozen directors and staff.
Before one of the biggest nights in the club’s history, just one step away from a game that could put us in the Premiership, there was barely an ounce of atmosphere. Even the last playing of ‘Hey Jude’ at Griffin Park was low key. But Peter Gilham launched his final ‘Brentfooooord’ and straight from kick-off it was clear that the Bees were in better shape for this game than the Swans who seemed daunted by the occasion. Rico Henry was back after his red card from the first leg was rescinded, just as Thomas Frank had predicted it would be. Josh Dasilva dropped to the bench to allow both Emiliano Marcondes and Matthias Jensen to start in midfield alongside Christian Norgaard.
And it was Jensen, who was poor in that first leg, who made the first goal with a contender for pass of the season, one Romaine Sawyers would have been proud of. The move started when David Raya, clearing up after a Swansea free kick, launched the ball to Jensen in right midfield.The Dane spotted a narrow path through to Ollie Watkins, a mere 50 yards ahead, and delivered the pass with such accuracy that Ollie was through on goal with defenders trailing in his wake. He despatched it with precision and power and ran off making his trademark finger to his lips salute to the imaginary away fans or was it a message to the Swansea bench for comments they made after Sunday’s game.
Bees were now level on aggregate and with the momentum to go ahead. It only took four minutes. Said Benrahma spotted Marcondes signalling a run into the box and the Algerian placed the cross perfectly onto his head. Two-nil, two-one on aggregrate. Swansea almost pegged it back when Gallagher was through on goal but David Raya pushed the shot away with such power that none of those following up got a second go at it. For the rest of the half Brentford were dominant and there could have easily been two more Bees goals.
B Team head coach Neil MacFarlane, Mads Bech Sorensen, Luka Racic and Ellery Balcombe were among those celebrating the goals.
For those of us who feared Swansea must make a better fist of the second half there was immediate relief when Rico Henry sped down the left wing and put over a cross which Bryan Mbeumo met first time lashing it into the goal .Even with a two-goal advantage Brentford never gave up pressing Swansea all over the pitch. Watkins was back to his very best, winning balls in the air, chasing down chances, harrying defenders. Benrahma too was everywhere he needed to be. This was a 100% team performance delivered with 100% effort.There was no real chance of Swansea scoring.
But then they did. A ball through the middle appeared to pose no immediate threat but Pontus Jansson, who until that point had mastered all that Ayew and Brewster could throw at him, tried a scorpion kick that went wrong. Brewster just needed to lob it over Raya. Pontus was furious with himself for what he later called ‘a sloppy, very bad mistake, my first this season’ and Said Benrahma went back to reassure his captain it wasn’t the end of the world.Suddenly the silent Swansea delegation in the Braemar Road stand rose to a man urging their team on. For the rest of the game the rival camps in the stands shouted themselves hoarse as Swansea raised their game but never really enough to threaten a goal. Sergi Canos came on for Bryan Mbeumo and he brought fresh energy as Brentford not only held off Swansea but went close themselves with Benrahma taking a snap shot that went just over the bar.
After the game Thomas Frank said the team had been irritated by the outcome of the first leg and that had been a driving force for the second. He’d told the team: ’we can’t not win in the final game at Griffin Park’. The players had been shown a video in which Bees fans talked about how important the game was to them.
Had the fans been in the stadium ‘Celebration’ would have been played and the teams would have done a long lap of honour to salute their supporters. Instead the players hugged each other and Thomas Frank then came to wave to Matthew Benham, his wife and son, and his club officials.He also embraced his own son
Thomas Frank embraces his son at pitch-side
What else do you do when your team has won a place in a Wembley final in the final game at your ground. Well Matthew Benham was keen to get on the pitch before it was eventually ripped ip and try a crossbar challenge. ‘I want to do a Trotta” he said.
Matthew Benham tries ‘a Trotta’.
He and chairman Cliff Crown enjoyed a relaxed beer with Thomas Frank at the side of the pitch. Outside fans were gathering in Braemar Road celebrating the victory. Matthew made a brief ‘balcony appearance’ outside the boardroom to salute them.
There were choruses of ‘there’s only one Matthew Benham’ and ‘only one Peter Gilham’ who also waved to the crowd.
Supporters also made their way round to Brook Road to what is normally the away fans entrance but is the ‘COVID protocol’ way in and out for the home players. Singing and cheering could be heard after eleven o’clock. Finally just before eleven thirty, Matthew Benham left the building and the Griffin Park floodlights went off for the last time.
Associate Director and long-term club sponsor Join Herting had taken his usual directors seat box for the last time.
Chief Executive Jon Varney savoured his season ticket seat for a final few minutes. I sat in the paddock where I first stood with my father over sixty years ago. It was sad to be saying goodbye but in truth our thoughts were also on Wembley.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen, Nørgaard, Marcondes (sub Dasilva); Mbeumo (Canós), Benrahma, Watkins
Swansea City: Mulder; Naughton (Celina), van der Hoorn ( Cabango), Guehi; Roberts, Fulton (Dhanda), Grimes, Bidwell; Gallagher; Ayew, Brewst
Brentford will go into the second leg of this play-off at Griffin Park on Wednesday with more confidence than might be expected after their third consecutive defeat.
They know that for much of this game they were the more fluent team playing without the nerves or hesitancy we feared after the two games that put players and fans through an emotional wringer. Having beaten Swansea by at least two goals in earlier games this season they know that target is achievable. And they will be driven on by a righteous indignation at the decision by referee Keith Stroud to red card Rico Henry which, subject to a possible appeal, will keep him out of both the second leg and the final if the Bees get there.
Your reporter had a very clear view from the main stand in the Liberty Stadium and the uncomfortable truth is that when Rico set off for that ball he was always going to arrive second. But because of his extraordinary pace and his sliding tackle he arrived only a fraction of a second after Connor Roberts made the first touch and Rico cleared the ball and sent Roberts flying. The first response of the Sky and iFollow commentators was that it wasn’t even a foul but later the studio pundits opted for a yellow card rather than a red. Brentford can appeal the decision but significantly the pundits didn’t think the red would be overturned believing the powers-that-be will be influenced by the fact that Rico was not in full control of his tackle. Thomas Frank begged to differ saying ‘I’m 100% we will have a decision where Rico will play on Wednesday’. He confirmed there would be an appeal. He also couldn’t understand why VAR, not used in normal season Championship games, couldn’t be available for the play-offs where £170 million pounds was at stake. He thought that without the red card Brentford would have gone on and won the game.
Thomas had started the game with a mostly unchanged line-up rotating Emiliano Marcondes to bring back Matthias Jensen but resisting the temptation to start Tariqe Fosu or Sergi Canos instead of Bryan Mbeumo or bring Shandon Baptiste into midfield. Those same decisions will face him again on Wednesday because neither Mbeumo or Jensen shone at Swansea.
Swansea’s style of play allows their opponents space in midfield and Brentford used it with Said Benrahma often dropping deeper into central midfield to start his drives towards goal. Said had the first chance of the game with that rare sighting: a Benrahma header, but it went just wide.
Another early chance also came from a header: an Ollie Watkins back flick was well saved by Erwin Mulder in the Swansea goal. Brentford had most of the possession in the first quarter with Christian Nørgaard again outstanding in midfield. But their chances went begging especially when Rico Henry burst down the left and crossed for Watkins to head wide.
Swansea’s first chance was when Swansea striker Rhian Brewster, a Liverpool loanee, launched one of his now trademark ferocious drives which David Raya did very well to beat clear.Their second chance again featured Brewster. When the ball rebounded to him off the post after a corner he tried to head it into the Brentford goal, possibly from an offside position, but Raya was able to smoother it.
On balance the Bees deserved to go in at half time ahead and they would have if Said Benrahma had ended an extraordinary slalom run through the Swansea penalty area by shooting into rather than over the bar.
In the second half more Brentford chances followed -Jensen had one of the best which left him head in hands and then came yellow cards for him, Henrik Dalsgaard and Christian Nørgaard, as the game got rough round the edges.
When Pontus Jansson challenged Brewster in the box, a penalty was given against him. Andre Ayew did a stop-start run-up which gave Raya an extra moment to guess right and diving left he one-handedly saved the shot.
Then came the sending off and Thomas Frank brought on Mads Roerslev to cover at left back, Josh Dasilva made way. And up front Marcondes replaced Mbeumo.There were 25 minutes to go, either to hold out for a draw or snatch a winner. With only 8 of those minutes left Ayew, determined to redeem himself after the penalty miss, attacked from the right, Conor Gallagher (remember him from that costly goal against us at Charlton?) did a clever flick, and Jay Fulton set it up for Ayew to smash it into the corner of the net. For once Raya could do nothing about it.
Joel Valencia came on for a tiring Benrahma, and Shandon Baptiste for Jensen. Brentford’s only chance to get an equaliser came in the final few minutes when Ollie Watkins faced goal but couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet.
At the end Thomas Frank shook hands with the officials, his body language was calm but it’s difficult to believe words were not exchanged.
Swansea City: Mulder; Cabango, van der Hoorn, Guehi; Roberts, Fulton, Grimes, Bidwell; Gallagher; Ayew, Brewster.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen (sub Baptiste), Nørgaard, Dasilva (Roerslev) Mbeumo (Marcondes), Benrahma (Valencia), Watkins.