Brentford take on Wolves at Molineux tonight. That’s the simple fact but to supporters there’s so much more to it. Over the last few seasons, games against Wolves have been at the forefront of those that Brentford fans have been looking forward to as the stand outs on the fixture list.
Wolves, of course, are a club with a huge fanbase, a cracking stadium and a great reputation. It is the sort of set up most teams could only aspire to yet, if we are being honest, they haven’t always lived up to that reputation on the pitch. No moreso than back in 2013/14 when they found themselves alongside Brentford in League One.
That, of course, the season that we finally escaped the lower tiers with a club record 94 points and went on that humungous unbeaten midseason run. One which was, of all teams, ended by Wolves at Griffin Park as they made no mistake when it counted – running out 3-0 victors in February’s top of the table clash. Whilst our two teams stayed neck and neck for most of the campaign, their class eventually showed and they deservedly scooped the title with a staggering 104 points.
Even then, they still played key role in our promotion. A 6-4 victory (only one short of doing it with brackets- I’d have probably self-combusted at 7(seven)) over Rotherham meaning that Steve Evans team would be unable to catch us in third place. At the same time, ensuring that the post Preston pitch invasion hadn’t been a somewhat premature and embarrassing one.
That said, prior to and even during the early part of that season, there were a lot of sneering and arrogant comments from a small part of the opposition support. That’s football but the simple fact was that whatever their past and size, Wolves were playing the likes of Brentford for a good reason – they hadn’t been good enough so had suffered successive relegation.
If we are being equally honest, a massive respect seemed to grow between our two clubs. Nobody was stupid enough to pretend that, historically, Wolves aren’t one of English football’s bigger teams. Indeed, their most recent stint in the top flight had only ended in 2011/12 after three seasons. Yet on the pitch we were going neck and neck.
Then, last season, it all went bonkers. After a slow start to Championship life, Mark Warburton’s Bees hit overdrive and a 4-0 thumping of Wolves at Griffin Park was enough to take us up to third place aswell as securing him the poison chalice of ‘Manager of the Month’ . It was a game played in a stunning atmosphere – before, during and after – and one which more than lived up to the hype that surrounded Bakary Sako’s crystal encrusted golden boots.
Former Bees boss Leroy Rosenior nailed things on the BBC Football League Show later that evening when discussing the game with Manish. He mentioned that a supporter had approached him the previous weekend saying, “Leroy, who would have thought we’d be beating Fulham at home, be challenging for a place in the Premier League, have a new stadium around the corner after you managed us.”
As Manish commented, “The only way was up from there”.
Whilst the reverse encounter saw Wolves run out 2-1 winners the following month, both sides kept their form despite tough fixtures and (for us) the frustration of Village-gate. Indeed, that crazy final day of the season that saw Derby and Ipswich self-destruct, allowed Brentford into the play-offs whilst, at one point in the afternoon, the results were also going Wolves’ way. In the end, they finished 7th(seventh), missing out on goal difference. However, for both our teams it had been one of the most exciting seasons on record, given the chance to test ourselves at a higher level.
Coming bang up to date, Brentford haven’t had the brightest of starts for reasons that have been well documented on these pages already. That said, victory on Saturday at home to Rotherham United sees us only four points behind a Wolves team who currently occupy 12th place. And with our own trip to hapless Charlton on Saturday, victory tonight would be a priceless one in reigniting our own campaign.
Can we do it? Despite all the good form over our recent campaigns, the Bees have only picked up one point and one goal from Molineux whilst we’ve been trading blows. Those two seasons may have had more incidents than some club’s entire histories but we have found the away trip a tough one
Then again, will the pressure of expectation show on a home side who got humped 4-2 at the weekend and have lost over a third of their league games already? Being honest, I’d take the draw. Being realistic, I haven’t got a clue which way this one is going to go.
At 7.45pm, we find out.