Almost 50 years on, old rivalries are about to reignite

29 Oct

This time tomorrow, Brentford fans will be preparing for our first West London derby of the season as QPR visit Griffin Park. And if it’s anywhere near as exciting as last season’s, we could be in for a treat. Two wins and six points against Fulham, including the 4-1 thrashing administered at Craven Cottage, have only served to whet the appetite for another game against local rivals.

4-1, and four of the best goals you'll ever see

4-1, and four of the best goals you’ll ever see

The Fulham games were, of course, incredible. But deep down many Brentford fans were also hoping for the chance to test ourselves against QPR. Geographically closer (there’s 4.4 miles between our grounds, compared to the 5.4 that separate Fulham and Brentford) they are seen as our rivals for that reason alone.

Then there’s Martin Rowlands and his infamous ‘badge kissing’ in front of Bees fans when the (then) club hero swapped Griffin Park for Loftus Road after five seasons. I guess some people have to get their kisses where they can although it is something we’ve never forgotten, right up to his recent appearances for Leyton Orient.

However, for the older generation of Bees fans, there is much more historical significance. The 1961 sale of goal machines Jim Towers and George Francis, who had managed just shy of 300 between them, hardly helped matters. Interviewing Jim a few years ago, he admitted, “I didn’t particularly want to go to QPR. Why he (Malky McDonald sold me and George, I don’t know.”

Club legend, Jim Towers

Club legend, Jim Towers

But it was the near takeover in 1967 that, even today, sees the main reason for that fierce rivalry – at least, from our perspective. Had it gone ahead, QPR would have sold Loftus Road to the council, bought Griffin Park (for a profit), moved in and Brentford Football club would no longer have existed. But for a press leak, the Bees fans springing into action and an emergency loan – things could have been very much different today.

I can’t imagine, as a supporter, how that must have felt. Of course, we’ve had our scrapes with that sort of trouble in recent times. The disaster of the David Webb era. Narrowly avoiding bankruptcy and financial collapse after Ron Noades’ stint as owner. Then the efforts of supporters’ trust Bees United that saw the fans pull the club back from the brink and eventually become majority shareholders in Brentford FC before Matthew Benham eventually rode on to the scene.

But reading about the proposed ‘takeover’, and I am sure there will be a lot more eloquent talk about it over the next day or so, things really were that close to many us supporting another team altogether.

Supporters rally round in 1967

Supporters rally round in 1967

Let’s be honest, we’ve had some cracking games against Fulham in recent times. The 1-0 at the Cottage followed by a pre-Peterborough 4-0 humping when we won the old third division title. Stuart Dallas doing his thing away from home after Jota had wrapped up the points at the death in the home game last time out.

Those against QPR have been much more turgid. We’ve crossed paths six times from 2001 – 2004 and not since. Those six games have produced a mere eight goals, four draws and two defeats for the Bees. It has always been a horrible match for the neutral and, at times, a painful one – Mark McCammon blazing over from point blank range, anyone?

Yet, equally, it has always been a game with a unique atmosphere.

As Jim Towers himself went on to say when asked what was THE game? “QPR. For me, and George, it was more than a local derby. We WANTED to win and to beat them more than anyone. Over the years, I don’t think QPR came off too well and perhaps that’s why they took a liking to us and bought us. We had a very good record against them. It was the special one.”

Who am I to argue?

Nick Bruzon

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2 Responses to “Almost 50 years on, old rivalries are about to reignite”

  1. RebelBee October 29, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    Nicely done, gives the younger Brentford supporters some background on why this game means more to us than some local bragging rights. The historical comparisons prior to the take over are interesting too, sure they have been the bigger and more successful side for some time now, but it wasn’t always that way – far from it.

    UTB

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