What a journey!
In the summer of 2013 we decided to make a short holiday trip from Burslem to London. After a flight from Amsterdam to Manchester we drove in a rental car to Burslem for Brentford’ season opener. Lovely away day for the Dutch Bees, marvelous goal by Shaleum Logan, good boozers before and after, one turnstile and just the result for the Bees at Port Vale was a little disappointment: 1-1 draw.
The day after we went through the lovely Peak District and had a hotel in Derby. Just in time to grab some more football on our way to London where we would finish our trip with a 1st round League Cup tie of the Bees versus Dagenham & Redbridge. We went to the iPro stadium to visit Derby County vs Blackburn Rovers. I remember quite well chatting at the ground to my best mate Klaas, who shares the same big passion for Brentford FC since we were in League Two, what it would be when our club plays against these two teams.
With the likes of Chris Martin, Will Hughes and Jordan Rhodes on the pitch we agreed: let’s get that promotion first, hope we will improve our squad a bit and then avoid relegation. The pace, the big stadium, the players: it seemed a world away from the things we love so much: standing on the terrace of our famous Griffin Park, scare the ‘big’ teams at our ground and have a proper day of real football and culture.
In the Spring of ’14 I was at Griffin Park to celebrate our so much deserved promotion to the Championship: could it be any better then that?! No, I thought let’s just enjoy Championship football at GP. Derby missed out promotion to the Premier League and the Dutch Bees first home match of this season was against them. At that time they were the league leaders and our boys looked a little bit impressed at first by that fact. But we didn’t concede and beat them 2-1 in stoppage time. And the Bees kept buzzing to beat Blackburn both home and away.
Actually we did deserve to beat Derby away as well until Darren Bent scored the injury time equalizer from out of nowhere. When I was at GP a week later and a ugly back pass ruined a certain win against Bolton I had to tell myself not to be disappointed with the very possible outcome of not making the play offs for the Premier League. Brentford had to beat Wigan, Derby had to lose at home against Reading and/or including a loss of Ipswich at Blackburn: all on the final day.
‘How on earth you could not be happy with this season?’ I was saying over and over again to myself during the flight home reflecting on the great results against so called big clubs like Blackburn, Leeds, Forest, Norwich and oh…. I nearly forgot twice Jota in the last minute against our neighbours! But I kept thinking why we had 4 instead of 6 points against Derby (forgive me). After I touched down in Amsterdam I decided to forget my sorrows and just be proud of our outstanding debut season.
Last Saturday: my mate was on the birthday of his sister in law. I enjoyed a lovely weekend off with my girlfriend. Both we didn’t expect anything but we had those ‘you never know’ nerves. Reading scored, Blackburn scored, Brentford scored. What’s gonna happen here? We scored again and again, we missed a penalty. Reading didn’t, Jordan Rhodes did. We’re in, Derby and Wolves out!!! This is really the most sweetest icing on the cake. We’re gonna play at our old ‘n proud ground for a place in the Premier League: this must be a dream, no it’s just INSANE!
Nerves again: can we make it ourself to the play-offs? Tickets for Ealing Road, flights, hotel: does our work allows us to leave early on Friday. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
I was there when we were sh*t and happy to be beat teams in League Two, I’ll be there when we play Boro for glory! And to be honest I still cannot believe how far our Bees family has come. Happy times!
Harald (Dutch Bees)