Take a Sad Song and Make it Better
It has been a fortnight since the Blues were last in league action and they will be looking to taste some honey when they take on the Bees at Adams Park this weekend. Brentford are our closest rivals this season with just thirty miles separating beautiful Buckinghamshire from the West London town.
It would be fair to say however that talk of any rivalry is rubbished by supporters on both sides. We really don`t give a monkey`s about each other and tend to dismiss each others` home towns with the usual negative adjectives. You can however expect to see quite a few Bees descend on the White Horse for some pre-match 'entertainment.`
It would be fair to say that the town of Brentford has a far more interesting history than you might expect. Its` existence goes back to Celtic times and thus is older than London itself which was founded by the Romans. It is of course named after the River Brent and marks the first point at which the River Thames is easily fordable.
It has been suggested that Julius Cæsar crossed the Thames here during his invasion of Britain in 54 BC. There have also been a couple of notable battles, first in 1016 when Edmund Ironside saw off Danish invader Cnut the Great and again in 1642 when the Royalists defeated the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War.
The Native American Princess Pocahontas lived in Brentford for a time and Vincent Van Gogh also lived briefly in Isleworth. There are a couple of famous musicians who come from the area. Deep Purple lead singer Ian Gillan was born in Hounslow whilst just up the road Genesis drummer turned singer and all-round pop genius Phil Collins was born in Chiswick.
The Bees can also boast a fine array of celebrity fans which include more musicians in Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman and The Who guitarist Pete Townshend. Actors Jim Carrey and Dean Gaffney also support the club as does comedian and writer Dominic Holland and sparkling Sky Sports New presenter Natalie Sawyer.
Brentford Football Club was founded two years after the Wanderers in 1889 when members of a rowing club sought a winter sport. Some may not know that the first meeting between our two clubs came less than ten years later when we were trounced 9-2 at their Cross Road, South Ealing ground in a Southern League Second Division fixture.
In those early years we hosted the Bees on five occasions, drawing twice and losing thrice. The first victory came in a Wycombe Hospital Cup final at Loakes Park in 1968. The list of players to have worn both the red and white stripes and light and dark blue quarter is a lengthy one.
Try this lot for size: Nikki Bull; Jason Cousins, Jamie Bates, Terry Evans, Danny Foster, Craig Woodman, Scott Marshall, Ijah Anderson, Alec Blakeman; Barry Silkmen, Mark Hill, Junior Lewis, Richard Dobson, Neil Smillie, Paul Buckle, Martin Rowlands, John Mousinho, John Halls, John Salako; Dennis Edwards, Niall Thompson, Drewe Broughton, Matt Harrold, Steve Jones, Steve Claridge, John Akinde and Ben Strevens. Who is your favourite?
The first meeting of modern times came in September 1994 in our first season in the third tier of English football. 6,847 saw a splendid game at Adams Park which ended in a glorious 4-3 win for the Blues. Terry Evans gave the hosts a dream start when he beat his marker to head home a Cyrille Regis overhead kick. Porker Robert Taylor levelled soon afterwards at the second attempt after Paul Hyde had parried his first effort.
The lead was restored midway through the second half in spectacular style. Steve Thompson did superbly to cross from the right and Regis headed back across goal for Simon Garner to volley into the bottom corner of the net. In the space of a couple of minutes it was 3-1 when goalkeeper Kevin Dearden could only punch a free-kick to Garner and he somehow squeezed home his shot from the edge of the box.
The Bees pulled a goal back almost immediately yet a surge into the box from substitute Andy Turner led to Garner crossing for Regis to head home in front of a heaving Valley End and make it 4-2. Cousins put through his own net late-on but there was no denying the Wanderers a thoroughly deserved victory.
It would be fair to say we have been slightly spoiled with some memorable home wins, none more so than the 5-3 triumph under Lawrie Sanchez in December 2001. A Lloyd Owusu header and a Paul Evans penalty had given the visitors a two-goal lead but an Owusu own-goal had put the Blues back in it just before the break.
Chris Vinnicombe crashed home a stunning equaliser from the edge of the box early in the second half and were relieved to see Owusu live up to his status as one of the most hapless strikers to have ever played association football when he rounded goalkeeper Martin Taylor only to spoon his shot high over the open goal and into the aghast away fans.
The Bees did restore their lead through Ben Burgess a couple of minutes later but they were unable to withstand the siege on their own goal and Andy Rammell made it 3-3 from the rebound after his first attempt had hit the post. He then put the Blues 4-3 in front with a side-foot finish from Dannie Bulman`s cross. It was Bulman who sealed the points with a smart finish from Stuart Roberts through-ball in injury-time. 8,013 supporters were lucky enough to watch the game.
The following season the two sides met at Adams Park in a first round F.A. Cup tie which will be remembered for yet another hissy-fit from Sanchez. Following a recent fans forum where complaints had been made about the teams` industrial style of play he named a three-man attack made up of Richard Harris, Craig Faulconbridge and Andy Rammell but with Sean Devine conspicuous by his absence.
Kevin O`Connor and Matt Somner but the Bees two-up inside nine minutes but goals from Faulconbridge and Steve Brown had the Blues back on level terms on 26 minutes. Sadly the Wanderers defence was found wanting again with striker Rowan Vine scoring either side of half-time to send his side through to the next round with a 4-2 victory.
Cue a ranting Sanchez who claimed afterwards that he had been unable to play the 'direct style' of football successfully adopted by the Bees. He whined to BFP saying: "Unfortunately in the Buckinghamshire area that type of play is not allowed and we end up being what we are. Brentford are a good example of what can be done if you`re allowed to do something different and you`re a team with no resources. It has been a good lesson to the fans out there who said they didn't want to see that. The fans have decided they want to be entertained and end up as we are.'
The last meeting between the two sides on the edge of the Chilterns came almost two years ago. It came on a wet and windy November evening which saw Gary Waddock record back-to-back victories for the first time in his reign. We had just recorded a shock 2-0 win away at Millwall but it didn`t look good with Chris Westwood ruled out through injury. Michael Duberry came back into the side to partner Luke Oliver in the centre of defence thus sending shivers down the spines of the Wanderers faithful!
Yet to almost everyone`s surprise they played their full part as the side kept a second successive clean sheet. Matt Harrold`s penalty shortly after half-time sealed a 1-0 win and he could have had another but loan goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved his second spot-kick. It was a performance, led by the likes of Kevin Betsy and John Mousinho that gave hope to a successful battle against relegation.
Of course that proved not to be the case and here we are again, on the back of another promotion and this time you feel that with two away games coming up next week, victory against the Bees could prove to be very crucial indeed in terms of any battle for League One survival. For those looking for omens, we have lost just one of our last nine home league games against Brentford, winning six of them.
"All that`s left are memories"