SP Let’s talk about the stadium. I get the impression that you made an enormous financial commitment, you hired good people, tough people to make a deal. But this was never your priority, because your priority was the football. Is that a fair summary?
MB Yes. I think so. I was always nervous about it, just because I know nothing about property. Well, all I know about property is it’s full of very, very streetwise people with very, very sharp elbows. And Conor (Conor Hayes who oversaw the project for Matthew from 2016) is almost something out of ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, with the motto ‘trust nobody’. In a property deal of this magnitude, a new stadium and 1000 units in this incredibly tight parcel of land, surrounded by railway tracks, you’ve got so many different entities that you’re dealing with you have to have a sceptic in charge who can manage all of that. The other thing about these sorts of projects is that over a period of years the amount of investment required and the complexity of deals always increases. By the time Conor came on board, my financial commitment had multiplied and the deal had become much more complex. Conor is always super cynical, so was the perfect person to manage a project like this.
SP So, given all this understandable scepticism about the property business in general, about some of the earlier plans, do you now get pleasure just sitting in the stadium ?
MB Oh, oh, yeah. Pleasure and relief. Yeah.
SP And it must be pretty good to see the people you did it for enjoying it so much themselves?
MB Yeah. I mean, it was a bit of shame that for the first year it was empty so it was a bit of a letdown. We were still in the bloody Championship and number two it was empty. So it was really only the Bournemouth game that I felt, ‘oh, finally, finally’, and then of course the Arsenal game, that was really memorable.
SP I just want to take you back to the Fulham playoff during lockdown. I was sitting behind you at Wembley, there were about a dozen of us there and it went wonky in the last few minutes and you were the calmest one of us all. There were one or two of us who shall remain nameless who were not very calm at that moment. I was thinking to myself that this is meant to be the biggest game in world football financially and you’ve just lost it and you’re very calm.
MB No, to be perfectly honest the week leading up to it was miserable. When Smith-Rowe scored that goal for Huddersfield against West Brom (which gave Brentford the chance to leapfrog West Brom into an automatic promotion place in 2020 if the Bees beat Stoke in the next game) my wife and son celebrated like crazy and I was like, ‘oh shit’. And there was a tiny bit of me got that feeling when Forss scored against Bournemouth. In fact, when Danjuma scored that breakaway goal for them to go two up, there was a part of me that thought, ‘phew, thank God it’s it’s over’. Right? So just the nerves are so horrible in the week leading up to Fulham, as they were to be honest leading up to Yeovil, in fact I’d say Yeovil was even worse. I could honestly say that it was so horrible that by the time we got to extra time against Fulham I was just thinking: ‘I want this to be over, at least in an hour’s time it’s going be over one way or another’. And I got into that state even after five minutes against Swansea. I thought ‘at least in two hours this is going to be over’.
SP But did you that night after Fulham think next year we’ll be back, well hopefully we won’t have to be back because we’ll get automatic but did you think we’ll get promoted?
MB To be honest my rational way of looking at things was for the Fulham game I thought the numbers said, if we go up tonight, we’ve got an 80% chance to stay up and if we don’t go up then we’ve got a 60% chance to go up the next year.So rather than being all or nothing, it was 80 versus 60. I mean, the thing that really stung was losing Ollie and Said.
That’s because all these great guys were so integral. So I was very confident that we would get there at some point because we were the second best team in the league that year behind Leeds. And we’d been pretty damn unlucky so I didn’t feel this is disaster or that’s our one chance of getting to the Premier League gone. I was very confident we’ll get there but it’s more like, ‘what a pain in the arse’. We’re going to have to deal with the sales of Ollie and Said and these things tend to be fraught.
SP There have been a few transfers that have been particularly fraught haven’t there?
MB Yes. Football transfers can get very fraught.Obviously FIFA deregulating agents back in the day was a questionable decision and we sometimes feel the effects of that.
SP Brian Riemer did a podcast in Denmark where he said Ollie was distraught afterwards, partly because he lost but partly because he wanted to stay and be in the Premier League with Brentford. Is that a fair interpretation of it?
MB Yeah, let me put it this way, after we lost to Yeovil I was surprised at the after-party, some players seemed quite chipper. And it was kind of like them thinking ‘well, okay, Brentford ain’t gonna be in the Championship but I will be’. And so someone like Ollie would have been forgiven for thinking number one, ‘I’m going to be in the Premier League come what may’. Number two, ‘I’m going to be better off financially if it isn’t Brentford’. But Ollie was absolutely crying his eyes out all night. Phil Giles saw him in the morning and he was still crying. Yeah, it’s amazing.
SP The other thing reflecting back to that night was that we’ve talked about your first investment of one million pounds, then your three million pounds but by this point you’re 100 million pounds in.
MB Something like that, yeah.
SP You said earlier that there were some down ups and downs along the road, that was quite a big hill wasn’t it.
MB Yeah. Yeah. Leading up to the Fulham game I saw this documentary about Mary Decker and Zola Budd (The Fall: Decker v Budd). That really put things into perspective, because Mary Decker was just too young in 1972. She’s injured in 76. In 1980 there’s a boycott. So 84 is a final chance. And if she doesn’t win this, she’s never ever going to win it again. This put it into perspective for me, that it wasn’t like this is our one chance. I always knew we’d have more chances.
SP And so that day against Swansea you’re five minutes into it. And you’re thinking?
MB Five minutes I’m thinking, ‘soon it will be over’. So Ras (Rasmus Ankersen) said something funny. At halftime against Swansea when we’re two nil up I couldn’t sit down, I was like pacing around nervously. And Ras said to me afterwards, ‘you’d prepared yourself that we’re going to lose even though I knew we had a 70% chance to win’. So I’d mentally prepared myself to lose and all of a sudden, I was having to sort of come to terms with, ‘shit, we might win’.
SP So when Ivan Toney put the penalty away are you thinking, ‘Oh, this could be alright after all’?
MB No, I’m just thinking, even when they get the red card my main thought is, ‘how terrible is this going to be if we don’t go up now? And if we don’t go up now, we’ll never ever, ever recover from it’. About 30 seconds from the end I realise, ‘shit, they’re not going to have time to score and then score again’. It was funny, hearing Phil Giles later say, ‘well, it was all a bit of an anti-climax, we scored too early on’.
‘I’d mentally prepared myself to lose’
The final whistle blows at Wembley
The party begins
SP You mentioned the home game against Arsenal earlier. That was the perfect way to start our time in the Premier League.
MB Yeah it was incredible.
SP What are the other moments of this season that you remember best?
MB For me the highlights are Arsenal and Chelsea. Probably the the two games that I remember most fondly for the same reason were Watford at home and Burnley at home. In each case, we’re playing a potential relegation rival. Just before Ghoddos got us the penalty against Watford I turned to my wife and just said, ‘blow the final whistle, please blow the final whistle, I’ll take this all day’. And I think just before Christian crossed for Ivan against Burnley I said to Phil Giles, ‘I’ll take a point all day long’. And Phil, in his way said, ‘I don’t think I would’. Some of the results have a more special meaning because of the way we have been treated by particular individuals connected to those clubs along the way but I will keep those to myself. Fans will be able to guess those anyway.
SP I can imagine who those might be.
So to the future, what about the transfer market?
MB People have warned us and lo it has come to pass that it gets harder and harder, that the higher up you go the agent situation gets more difficult. I mean believe it or not in the lower leagues many agents genuinely want the best for their player, rather than let me cause disruption so I can engineer a move every year. But for example I read something about how we showed amazing calmness not to splash out the cash in January. In two cases everything was agreed with club, player, agent. And then they fell apart. So, it’s not always as calm as it looks but these things happen.
SP And then the other side is the Eriksen situation, when Thomas first said, maybe I could get him, what were you thinking then?
MB Well, obviously there’s a pretty limited data set for players who nearly die of cardiac arrest and then go back to playing top level football. Thomas was very, very bullish – exceptionally bullish. It’s not unusual for head coaches or managers to say ‘Oh, this this guy played for me 10 years ago, and he was great then’ not realising that times have changed and this is a pretty extreme example of how times have changed. Thomas was absolutely glowing, glowing, glowing about Eriksen’s personality, about his humility and modesty which has come to pass. Before then Norgaard was Thomas’s favourite, he was so glowing about his personality too.
Brentford FC’s new signing at the Brentford Community Stadium
SP And what does the model tell you about the Eriksen effect? The perception among fans is that it’s an enormous effect?
MB So, we’ve improved with him in the team but as ever there’s a lot of randomness. We had this period of seven losses and one draw in eight games and we actually weren’t playing that bad at all. In fact, we had times, like the first half against Man United to the whole game away to City we had times when we really played pretty well, indeed. And then maybe there were some wins subsequently, like away at Watford, where we weren’t at our best. So the effect hasn’t been as extreme as people think but certainly there has been a positive effect.
SP What have you made of him yourself ?
MB By all accounts he’s an incredible, incredible professional in terms of his preparation and all around 24/7 professionalism.Everything I’ve seen on and off the field has confirmed that.
SP So Brentford’s prospects for next season. What do you think?
MB Always the ambition is to get better and better. But having said that realistically at the start of any Premier League season there are the six clubs who hope to make it into the Champions League and then the other 14 saying, ‘please for the love of God don’t let’s get relegated’. Randomness is such that it can happen, and it has happened, that you could be maybe the 10th best team, but you get unlucky enough to get relegated. The main thing we look at is the club’s underlying performance and if that continues to improve, and we stay up – yeah, I’d be delighted.
Rune D.Franck (RDF) from Norway and Fran Carroll (FC) from Ireland pooled their ideas to create a list of ten ideas for the Club to consider.
- International Supporters Clubs visits
“I think it can be said that the two (Irish and Norwegian Bees) International Supporters Club (ISC) trips to the home game against Leeds were hugely successful. The access provided by the Club to tickets and for Kix Café near the Club offices was fantastic, and hugely appreciated by all. It was a superb opportunity for members from both ISCs to attend a game, some to the stadium for the first time, which they would not have been able to do otherwise. It also presented the opportunity, especially in the Irish Bees case, to meet members of the group for the first time”.(FC) “Could two group-travels a year be put together with the kind cooperation of BFC and Bees United? One for the final home game of the season, and one in the first half of the season? We just want to attend games with friends”. (RDF).
- Season tickets for International Supporters Clubs ?
“Norwegian Bees would very much like to be trusted with some season tickets to distribute among paying members. Should there be no takers we can inform BFC well ahead of games for the seats to be sold to someone else by the club”. (RDF).
- Club to make it easier for Supporters living abroad to earn TAPs
“I’ve checked around to find out what would make a membership more valuable to Norwegian, or foreign bees, and it mostly comes down to the TAP-system. Tickets, tickets, tickets. I know this will never be 100 % fair, but should the club try to make it easier for supporters living abroad to earn TAPs, it would be highly appreciated”. (RDF).”This would be great if there was a system in place to add additional TAPs for International Members for Home/Away games. This has come up many times before and would be of great benefit to International Supporters that incur great cost to attend games”.(FC).
- TAPs for buying official merchandise from the superstore and having it sent abroad (or even collected from Club Shop on matchday)?
“For me, and other ‘foreign bees’, it’s actually impossible to buy two tickets to go with a friend, a spouse, or a child. I don’t know how this could be done, but extra TAPs for being a “foreign Bee” flying in could be one way, or getting TAPs for buying official merch from the superstore and having it sent abroad?. Goes without saying, one would have to be a paying member of the BFC and the supporters club for this to be effective’ (RDF). “Again, we incur additional heavy charges for delivery, and since Brexit we get hammered in additional VAT charges which need to be paid before goods are delivered. Whatever happened to the points system in the Club shop? Is there something similar to the old system coming back?”. (FC)
- Access to tickets – buy two tickets to go with a friend, a spouse, or a child.
“I know this is the same for all supporters looking for tickets, but International Supporters travelling to London for a game may well be travelling with a non-member (especially a spouse), so in many cases it cancels out the option of going to a game as you cannot get two tickets. Spouses may not ever be future supporters, but an additional friend can always be converted, especially when they get to see how special the club/ground/atmosphere is. Children need to be considered as the future of the Club (if already a Club Member it should be easier to have access to ticket with Parent, even if TAPs not sufficient)” .(FC)
- Visit to the training ground to meet (some) players for Supporter Clubs. Peter Gilham organised the visit for Norwegian Bees (see above and headline pictures)
“A visit to the training ground to meet (some) players is the icing on the cake for supporters, and we hope this is a tradition that can be carried on once a year, even when Peter Gilham at one point finally steps down from his position”. (RDF). “I believe this is something the Norwegian Bees have done for a number of years, and they wish to continue. As they come for a full weekend to games they can fit this into their schedule. Irish Bees tend to travel over for one night, or a day trip, but if this option was available to ISCs then I’m sure it would be something groups would avail of. It’s a great opportunity, and perfect setting, for presenting ISCs Player of the Year Awards. I would love to do this for the Irish Bees (as we did not get to present our PotY award after the Leeds game, and we plan to present it at one of the games early into the new season, this would be fantastic)”. (FC).
- The get-together prior to kick-off – Yearly event? Ex/current/B players and Bees United presentation.
“The get-together prior to kickoff was highly appreciated. A wonderful sign of the club’s appreciation, and we will forever be grateful. We noticed Sam Saunders was there, and should this become a yearly event it would be fantastic if a person (x-player/staff member) could find time to join in, give a short presentation of what’s going on at the club, taking pictures with fans etc. The group spoke fondly of the meeting they had with the Bees United Chairman “.(RDF) “As mentioned, the get-together prior to kick-off was hugely appreciated by all that attended, and a great location to meet/chat amongst ourselves, and for the two ISCs members to meet too. Would this be something that could be done again in future for ISCs going to games? As Rune mentioned, Sammy Saunders turned up while there, but many were not sure if he was there in an official/social capacity. Some got pics, but others did not as were unsure if we were encroaching. Could a current/injured/ex player attend and be available for pics and chat? (FC)
- Do B/Academy team play home the day before the Senior Team.
“I think having the opportunity to meet players/staff from the B-team (or an academy in the future) would be of interest to us. Meeting and watching Brentford’s “future” could be fun” (RDF).
“This is a good point, and not only for international members, to avail an opportunity to see the B/Academy Team play, but UK supporters that may be travelling into London too”.(FC)
- International membership –
“As foreign Bees we are happy to pay the membership fee, even though we don’t get the chance to attend games very often, but any little gift is appreciated. A pin, or maybe a badge to be ironed on to the kits we buy. Maybe make one for supporters from all over the world. They could look the same, have the same design, but with different flags. Norwegian Bee (and the flag) , Irish Bee (and the flag) etc etc. I don’t know if that would be popular, but I would like to wear “my colours” and anyone with a small flag on the front of their players shirt would immediately stand out from the crowd, and it could work as an “icebreaker” at games, in Brentford, or anywhere really” (RDF).
“We’ve been told that the club are looking into International Memberships, so interested to see what they are like. Club previously had one just before we left GP, which I signed up to, but quickly changed back to regular membership as the ‘benefits’ for international membership were naff (and membership card was not included). As you can see from Rune’s comment and my actions when a card was not included, a physical/tangible item should be included in membership package, NOT just a number!!” (FC)
“I am sure a lot of Brentford-supporters would love to go to Fullers brewery for a tour, and/or tasting. I know I would also love to learn more about the Community Sports Trust, and be taken on a tour at the stadium, if that’s possible to arrange the day before a game?’ (RDF)
‘”Would the club have an International Supporters Club Day, to raise the profile of ISCs and/or get more International Supporters/ISCs involved? Flags/flag bearers for each official ISC as players come out the tunnel/giant flag in the stands/etc?” (FC)
Norwegian Bees can be contacted either via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/262245127132057 or their website.
Irish Bees can be emailed at email@example.com
.Their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/groups/36064 and they are on twitter at @irishbees
If you run an International Supporters Group and would like your group to considered for an organised visit please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Dent was one of the Bees fans who came under attack when a protest by Man Utd fans opposed to the owners of the Club got out of control in what’s called the ‘Munich tunnel’ at Old Trafford. The protesters surged forward against Brentford supporters queuing to go into the away fans entrance.
The Daily Mail reported: “Group of Manchester United fans are filmed ATTACKING Brentford supporters as they make their way into Old Trafford – with missiles launched, punches thrown and riot police intervening amid chants about wanting owner Joel Glazer DEAD” .The Daily Mail report included a one minute video of part of the incident.
Here are two stills taken from the video by Story Picture Agency:
Jeff Dent, a retired executive on the London Underground, was at the game and reported back to the Bees United board. Although the video showed stewards and police trying to hold back the protesting fans this was only half the story. Jeff said there had been a period when “the situation inside the tunnel was allowed to continue for several minutes longer with no intervention from police or stewards. It seemed that no one in authority wanted to take responsibility for dealing with a highly volatile and dangerous situation”.
BU decided to take the issue forward. Jeff wrote an eye-witness account of what he had seen and our representative on the Brentford FC board raised it with the Club management.
Here’s Jeff’s account of what happened on May 2nd before the game.
|I arrived at around 7.40 and joined the queue for entrance S22 which was a short distance into the “Munich Tunnel”. The queue at that point was maybe about 30-40 Brentford supporters and was moving in through the turnstiles slowly but steadily. A few minutes after I joined the queue a huge number of chanting Manchester United “supporters” entered the tunnel filling the area adjacent to the turnstile queue, which was separated from the queue by just a line of Tensator type strip barriers as far as I could see. This large crowd were clearly in a highly agitated state and were seemingly protesting about the current owners of MUFC. Their anger, however, quickly turned against us in the queue and various items were thrown at the queue including red smoke bombs or flares. They then started to surge towards the queue crushing many of us against the stadium wall.
At this point I became aware that the queue had stopped moving forward and I could hear people at the front of the queue shouting at stewards inside the stadium to let them in. With some alarm I realised that, rather than allow the Brentford fans to enter the through the turnstile into the stadium and therefore a place of safety, someone inside the stadium had made an unbelievable decision to close the turnstile. As someone who spent my entire career in a safety critical industry, I could not believe that we were now locked out of the stadium, trapped in the tunnel, and were suffering crushing and smoke inhalation. Whilst a fit and healthy 64 year old I was actually in fear for my safety and the safety of those around me which included an elderly lady on two crutches.
Eventually, after about 8-10 minutes, I managed to struggle my way back out of the tunnel to find several MUFC Stewards and police officers seemingly doing nothing other than forming a cordon line to hold back non-protesting supporters of both clubs in order to stop them entering the tunnel. However the situation inside the tunnel was allowed to continue for several minutes longer with no intervention from police or Stewards. It seemed that no one in authority wanted to take responsibility for dealing with a highly volatile and dangerous situation.
After some 15-20 minutes or so, a line of police officers finally entered the tunnel and marshalled the MUFC crowd through the tunnel and presumably to the home supporters’ entrances. However, the distinct impression I got was that the police merely followed the crowd once it moved on of its own volition. When the tunnel was finally cleared of the protesters, only then were the Brentford fans still in the tunnel, and those outside, allowed to enter the stadium. I finally took my place in the stadium some 7 or 8 minutes into the match.
Whilst I was waiting in the area between the tunnel and the police cordon I spoke to a MUFC supporter who was clearly disgusted by this behaviour and said to me “this has happened at every match recently and no one does anything!”. He spoke to several stewards while I was with him who all seemed to take the view that it wasn’t their responsibility to do anything.
Clearly there is a major issue at this ground when the police and club staff apparently know this is likely to happen but seem unwilling or incapable of doing anything to prevent it and deal with it. In my opinion someone could have been seriously injured or even killed in the tunnel. At the very least the stewards at Gate S22 should have done everything in their power to get the Brentford fans to a place of safety as quickly as possible, instead they chose to close off the only clear route to safety.
Brentford FC sent Jeff’s statement to thé management of Manchester United and a correspondence between the two clubs followed. At no point did Manchester United dispute any of the facts in Jeff’s eye-witness report. The correspondence resulted in this statement being issued by Manchester United:
MANCHESTER UNITED STATEMENT
“The points raised in discussions with Brentford have been noted with our apologies for any inconvenience and concerns that you experienced ahead of our Premier League match at Old Trafford on May 2.
The safety and security of all supporters is of paramount importance to Manchester United. We have since investigated this matter fully and we are taking the appropriate steps to ensure this cannot happen again.
The club have an excellent relationship with Brentford F.C. and we look forward to welcoming your fans to Old Trafford for the match which is scheduled on February 25, 2023.”
Bees United is grateful to Jeff, the Brentford FC safety team and the Club’s Business Communications team for their help.
My early away games were spread over a few seasons and generally tended to be at the more local teams. When I left school at 16 in 1982, I was able to do a lot more away games and 1982/83 was the first season that I went to every game. Despite many lows and some highs, I have always loved Brentford away-days. One of the things that makes them so enjoyable is the fellow Bees fans you travel with and meet along the way.
I think it’s fair to say the last 10 years, under the ownership of Matthew Benham, have seen far more highs, making the task of choosing a “top” list of the last decade far more difficult. Anyway, here goes.
18 August 2012 – Bury Drew 0-0 (League One)
This may seem an odd one. The game itself was pretty uneventful but this, after all, was our first league game under Matthew. I have always enjoyed our trips to Gigg Lane. It is also a stark reminder of how far we have come and just how important it is that clubs are well run.
16 April 2013 – Sheffield United Drew 2-2 (League One)
Towards the end of that season, we went to Bramall Lane on a Tuesday night in April for a rearranged fixture in front of a crowd of over 23,000 – including a good number of Bees. The game was a cracker – and all about the referee Keith Stroud. Numerous penalties (not all scored), countless yellow cards and a sending off for each team. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a last gasp equaliser to send the Bees fans potty.
14 September 2013 – Tranmere Rovers Won 4-3 (League One)
Another ground I have always loved visiting. As usual for Tranmere, we took an early train to Liverpool before taking the ferry across to Birkenhead and had lunch in Wetherspoons. Brentford were 2-0 and 3-2 up before Tranmere equalised in the 90th minute – only for Adam Forshaw to score an injury time penalty!! Great day all round.
15 March 2014 – Leyton Orient Won 1-0 (League One)
A game that will live long in the memories of Bees fans. I’d organised boats to take us to this game and on a lovely sunny day almost 600 Bees fans sailed down the Thames singing our songs to the joy and bewilderment of the public and London tourists alike. Orient had strangely given us the whole of one side stand. I remember this game for the poor performance of the match officials, Trotta’s fabulous goal on half-time, Tarky’s red card early in the second-half and a courageous performance from the 10 man Bees. This was the game where I really believed we were going up and, as Russell Slade said, we celebrated like we’d won the Cup.
12 August 2014 – Dagenham & Redbridge Drew 6-6 (League Cup)
I think I had to mention this one. In a game of fluctuating fortunes, it was 4-4 after 90 minutes and 6-6 after extra time. The Bees won 4-2 on pens – King Kev with the penalty that sealed it. At the end of the game, our old nemesis, Jamie Cureton, refused to leave the pitch and stood in the opposite half from the Bees fans who waited to greet him.
03 April 2015 – Fulham Won 4-1 (Championship)
One of our best ever performances and results away from home. Right up there with the game at Chelsea this season. Brentford dismantled our rivals from Putney. Two strikes from Stuart Dallas and two goals at the death from Judge and Jota that gave the scoreline the gloss it deserved. 3 of our goals were in front of the away end packed with around 6,000 Bees fans.
28 October 2016 – Queens Park Rangers Won 2-0 (Championship)
Friday night in Shepherds Bush and what a night!! The Bees ran out comfortable 2-0 winners – our first win at the Bush since 1964 with fine goals from Josh Clarke and Romaine Sawyers.
18 March 2017 – Burton Albion Won 5-3 (Championship)
The exec coach I’d hired for this one broke down before we’d even left London. The replacement coach was far from an exec – but it got us there! We stopped at a very decent pub in Burton before going on to the game. This was meant to be an easy game (or so most of us thought), yet at half-time we were 3-1 down. Thankfully 4 second half goals for the Bees turned it around in front of a packed away end.
22 August 2017 – Queens Park Rangers Won 4-1 (League Cup)
Another night in Shepherds Bush and another win – this time in the League Cup. Wins at the Bush were becoming a habit. The Bees strolled to victory. Maupay’s goal that put us 3-0 after half an hour was the best of the night.
09 March 2019 – Middlesborough Won 2-1 (Championship)
Middlesbrough is a long old journey but it’s a good awayday on the train. I’ve picked this one mainly because, despite conceding an early opener, it was our first win at ‘boro since 1938. (Our second came a few months later, at the start of the following season).
13 July 2019 – Dynamo Kyiv Drew 0-0 (Pre-Season friendly)
Although “only” a pre-season friendly, I’ve picked this game as representative of our pre-season trips to Europe. These are always extremely enjoyable. For this game, played in Jenbach, Austria, we based ourselves in Munich. Munich is a great place to visit, lots to do and see with good food and great beer. We took a very scenic train journey across the border into Austria for the game.We also visited Dachau concentration camp, just north of Munich. Again, well worth a visit. A very solemn experience that makes you to realise what’s really important and how lucky we are.
29 September 2019 – Barnsley Won 3-1 (Championship)
The game was moved to Sunday lunchtime for tv. The first train got us there in time for kick-off – just. Barnsley went ahead with a very good goal in the first minute but a hat-trick from Ollie Watkins sent the travelling Bees fans home happy from a very wet South Yorkshire.
01 January 2020 – Bristol City Won 4-0 (Championship)
Happy New Year! The Bees started 2020 with a bang. Our BMW was purring, with goals from Mbuemo, Benrahma and two for Ollie, as we completely outclassed Bristol City. Benrahma’s cheeky rainbow flick on the left wing summed up Brentford’s dominance.
01 February 2020 – Hull City Won 5-1 (Championship)
A month later and the Bees were at it again, smashing a very poor Hull side who were in freefall. Another lunchtime switch for TV meant a frantic dash from Hull station to the ground (many thanks to the fellow Bee who offered to share his pre-booked taxi that got us there just in time). The highlight was Benrahma’s hat-trick, in his first game back after the tragic loss of his father.
The outbreak of the Conavirus pandemic meant that our 5-0 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday in March 2020 was the last football for over three months. When football did return, it was without the fans.
28 July 2021 – Manchester United Drew 2-2 (Pre-season friendly)
Less than 10 years after Matthew’s take over of the Club and here we were – Old Trafford. Ok, it was a pre-season friendly, but what a transformation. The Bees playing a friendly in front of a crowd of 30,000 and playing their part in a very entertaining 2-2 draw with one of the biggest clubs in the world!
18 September 2021 – Wolverhampton Wanderers Won 2-0 (Premier League)
Our first Premier League away win. An excellent performance and result which gave us an ultimately comfortable win at Molineux.
03 October 2021 – West Ham United Won 2-1 (Premier League)
We didn’t have too long to wait for our second Premier League away win – the very next away game in fact. A lovely sunny Sunday with a packed and noisy away end at the London Stadium. The Bees were excellent in the first half but only led 1-0. West Ham equalised with ten to go and that was it – or was it. In the last of four minutes of injury time, Wissa fired home in front of the away end. Cue scenes of delirium.
05 March 2022 – Norwich City Won 3-1 (Premier League)
Picked purely for Christian Eriksen’s first start for the Bees – and for Ivan’s opener which brought such joy and relief to the celebrating Bees fans. Our first away win in the league for five months.
02 April 2022 – Chelsea Won 4-1 (Premier League)
Possibly our best performance and win in the Premier League and our best away win since a similar scoreline at Fulham on the same Saturday seven years before. Chelsea, probably undeservedly, took the lead just after half time. The Bees struck back immediately and went on to a comfortable win. 4-1 in the back yard of the current European and World Champions – not quite 10 years after Matthew taking over our wonderful Club.
Thank you Matthew!
*** STOP PRESS ***
15 May 2022 – Everton Won 3-2 (Premier League)
Well, how could I leave this one out?!
Our train from Euston was cancelled so our journey up was quickly re-planned to go via changes at Stoke and Crewe. Pre-match, we took the Mersey Rail over to Hamilton Square (Birkenhead) and lunch at Wetherspoons, as we used to do for our visits to Tranmere.
Come kick-off and the atmosphere at Goodison Park was electric, the noise deafening. 10 minutes in and the Bees conceded a needless free kick and went behind. Everton, though, were soon down to 10 men. Then, having equalised, the Bees went behind again on the stroke of half-time after the ref awarded an extremely soft penalty. However, this team and the packed away end refused to be intimidated by the atmosphere. The Bees fans sang their hearts out as the team took control and got a fully deserved win.
For me, this game showcased the togetherness of all at the Club – players, staff, fans – and was a fitting way to end a fabulous season on the road.