After a long arduous eventful season I’m sure our players all earned their close season break, spending valuable time with their families, and like the rest of us reflecting on what had passed, and hopes and aspirations for the forthcoming season.
Thats all fine and dandy, but what about us mere mortal Brentford obsessives; how did we get through the lull in proceedings. Well of course there was the Euros and Brexit . The former worried me little as having followed the fortunes of England over the years mainly from my armchair, with the odd visit to Wembley whilst still at school, the gloss had worn off for me years ago, and to be frank I didn’t lose sleep over our woeful performances.
I have become a very one dimensional football fan, who quite frankly is only interested in Brentford, will attend an occasional game outside the Brentford spectrum, and I am likely to only read match reports from our own division, and all points below. I have little interest in the Premier League, albeit I may sound hypocritical here when I say I have to share Matthew Benham’s vision of Premier League football gracing Lionel Road. I hope the dream is fulfilled for the benefit of Brentford fans, particularly those who kept the club afloat, over all the years.
I refer to the fundraising efforts from the 60’s and the QPR takeover threat, and more recently the ‘Ron Noades era’ and beyond with all its trials and tribulations. I remember this era very well, and reckon some one somewhere should write a book, just to show some of the minority breed of dissenters who hide behind social media anonymity, what this club is really all about, and to show just how far this club has progressed in recent times.
There are many people out there, just normal supporters who have stood by the club for decades, have shaken buckets when we were skint, gone on protest marches when it looked like GP was to be vacated in favour of a move to Woking and a whole load more stories direct for the chamber of horrors .
The hard work involved in setting up Bees United, and B.I.A.S , The ABeeC party, and the tireless efforts of Brian Burgess and all those involved in the Lionel Road project. Of course there is also Matthew Benham, a man who has invested in excess of over £70m in the club so far, and most likely a whole lot more. It will be a very long time before he gets any of that money back. I have been a fan for over 47 years, a fact that I am proud of.
I place the blame on my becoming a Bees fan solely on My Grandad, Jimmy Hart. I had moved to Slough in 1969 /70 and my neighbours took me on a coach to watch Chelsea on the opening game of the season. I got separated from my new friends at the end of the game, and somewhat tearful and overwhelmed , a kindly policeman sorted me getting on a tube to meet my Grandad at Hounslow West. A stern faced man in a trilby hat and a sombre grey coat met me at the station. Grandad’s opening line will always stick in my memory “We’ll have none of that nonsense son, you’ll come along to Brentford with me next week”. That was it, my fate was sealed I was to become a Brentford fan.
I love my club and over the years have in a very small way contributed help in various ways. The biggest thing of all, is that Brentford F.C. is alive and kicking, and o.k. we’re not thrashing everyone 3-0 every week, but we are holding our own, enjoy the moment as for me in my Bees Lifetime these are the ‘Golden Years’ (R.I.P. David Bowie ).
It’s been mooted about how we are trying to be innovative in the way we recruit players, and indeed we are now classed as the club that recruits solely through using statistical data. For the benefit of Mr. Rod Liddle of The Times, Ian Holloway and the bloke on the radio who supports Peterborough who doesn’t like us, we still use components of traditional scouting / recruiting methods. Most importantly the whole of football is heavily into using data, it’s just that Brentford has been a bit more transparent about the fact, and is probably a little more innovative.
Time will tell, but I hope we come good at trying to be different, as it is essential for our survival on an uneven platform of parachute payments (the relegation incentive scheme), the preference of T.V. to showcase games featuring newly / recently relegated Prem. Lge teams, and the blind investment of faceless overseas investors who have no real passion for the game of football. You either curl up in the corner and moan, or you innovate. In years to come I hope we are successful, and have been a benchmark for the upturn in fortunes and aspirations for the relative minnows of football.
Anyway as normal I have digressed down an alley I must reverse from, and get back on track. Oh yes Brexit captured my attention, and I took an avid interest in the whole process, reading all points of view for/ against, pre-vote / post vote. One thing that has evolved is the transfer market, and how it has had an impact on transfers from Europe, primarily exchange rates and their influence on transfer fees, wages, and I guess future contracts and player eligibility outside of EU employment law. Irrespective of your voting decision on Brexit, it is quite evident that ‘the powers that be’ were not prepared for this, and I guess elements of uncertainty will prevail.
The close season also has the added spice of transfer speculation, and I have to confess to be an active reader of a well known Bees discussion forum, let’s call it the GPG for the purpose of this article (other brands are available). I love the old chestnuts such as Fred Bloggitt well known sports journalist reckons we’re in for midfield enforcer Jimmy Wonder, but face stiff opposition from Everton and Leeds, always Leeds, always bloody Leeds ! We are assured that this Bloggitt bloke is highly regarded on Twitter. You then read that Sammy Farcebook also buys into the story, he’s even more respected on the web, so it must be true. As we go to press Jimmy Wonder has just signed a new contract at his current club, thus putting him out of our price range.
Then of course we get pre-season friendlies, now they’re even more fun. Take our friendly away at Wycombe, they lined up with 6 players simply titled ‘trialist’ on the team sheet. I loved the chants of the Wycombe fans who were chanting ‘who are ya’ aimed at their unknown goalkeeper who’d done pretty well in the first half. Their chants were rewarded with another ‘trialist’ between the sticks for the second half. A few years ago we were playing a friendly at Hampton if I recall. One unknown player in a Bees shirt, shone above the comparative mediocrity, so I asked Terry Bullivant our assistant coach who he was. Terry told me it was a lad called Danny, a ‘trialist”. The bloke behind me was curious so I passed on the details. Next thing I know he’s telling his mates it was a new bloke called Danny Trailist, oh well it raised peoples hopes and aspirations for the new season, albeit briefly. Never did find out what happened to Danny.
That’s it from me, unless I’m invited back .
New Season’s Greetings ( maybe we could hand out greetings cards next season like we do at Christmas)
Paul Minkkinen (MinkyBee)
The BIAS blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent BIAS policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to BIAS.