Martin Lange Vase

Friday, 23 February 2024 | News, In Focus, Heritage

Paul Stembridge, one of the BU Archivists, recalls Martin Lange's contribution in the 1980's including the vase which is now part of the BU archive  
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Martin Lange saw his first Brentford game as a small boy in the 1950s after being taken to Griffin Park by his father. He became a successful property developer, and was elected to the Club’s Board of Directors in 1981, aged 37. Later that year he became Chairman and purchased the majority shareholding from former Chairman Dan Tana to become owner outright.

The Martin Lange Vase

Martin Lange opened the Centenary Lounge, which was the old supporters lounge at Griffin Park, before the Division Three match v Bristol City on Saturday 7 October 1989 (which Brentford lost 0-2). The Centenary Club was previously the 21 Club but changed rooms and name.  At the event a commemorative cut-glass vase was presented, which was inscribed  “Martin Lange Opening of the Centenary Club 7.10.89”.

This was to coincide with the weekend of the club’s official centenary, with the Club’s Centenary Dinner held at the Hilton Hotel in London the following day, attended by nearly 900 people with over 60 former players, including four members of the 1942 London War Cup Final team, and many distinguished guests. The evening also saw the launch of the club’s iconic centenary book ‘A Hundred Years of Brentford’.

The Bees United Archive
BU, the owner of the BFC archive

Martin Lange’s vase is included
Smashed whilst in Club custody.

BU Archive committment

We’ll restore and repair
We will preserve
We will record

We will share

BFC Chairman- 1981 to 1997

Martin Lange (1943-2015) was Brentford chairman from 1981 to 1997 when he also the owned the majority shareholding in the club, although he handed over the chairmanship for 1992/93 as he was out of the country for the majority of the season for business reasons, ironically the club’s one season in Division One (now the Championship) in that era, before he resumed the chairman’s role in 1993. He eventually sold the club in 1997 but retained a minority shareholding and also crucially retained protective clauses on the sale of Griffin Park. He remained on the Board until May 2002 when he resigned but was given a ‘golden share’ in Griffin Park by the new manager/owner Ron Noades which meant he could veto the sale of the stadium, which he did when there was a proposal to sell the ground to clear the club’s debts and move to Kingstonian FC. In 2012 he transferred his remaining minority shareholding to Matthew Benham.

3rd Division Rep – Play Offs – Names and numbers

In the 1980s, Martin Lange was also the Third Division representative on the Football League Board. In this role, in 1986, he proposed and introduced the end-of-season Play-Offs which, as Brentford fans well know, fatefully had disappointing outcomes for Brentford on nine occasions, until success was finally achieved with the never-to-be-forgotten day in May 2021 with the play-off victory over Swansea City at Wembley, a day which sadly he did not live to see. Martin also pushed for individual squad numbers and names on each player’s shirt, having been impressed by the idea when watching American football.

He was an inventive chairman for Brentford as well, invariably looking for ways to boost the club, after those early days as a small boy tatGriffin Park in the 1950s.

One of these proposed innovations amongst many was the idea for a Christmas Day match in 1983, which was featured in an ‘Observer’ newspaper article at the end of last year on 24 December 2023, a piece which included contributions from two of the Bees United Historians Group members in Jonathan Burchill and Rob Jex: Santa stops play: how Brentford’s Christmas plan proved cold turkey | Brentford | The Guardian

Paul Stembridge


Martin’s vase back together after love and care from BU