Once a hero, always a hero. Martin Allen provides a great escape from lockdown.

12 Apr

Martin Allen I bloody love you. With the lockdown biting hard on football, what could have been a miserable afternoon of self-isolation and staying indoors was turned into nothing short of a magnificent two and a half hours. Following on from last week’s session with Phil Giles, Mad Dog himself was there to lift any bank holiday gloom for Brentford fans in the latest of the GPG live video chats on Saturday.

Bedecked in ‘that’ tank top and with Bees supporters hanging on his every word, it was a quite unique peek behind the curtain of what went on at the time and what makes Martin tick. Whilst he also talked about West Ham, Leicester City and Eastleigh the conversation was dominated by The Bees.  The affection felt for his time at Griffin Park, his players and Peter Gilham (whose red PMA wristband he still wears) there for all to see and hear.

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Live in your living room – face to face with Martin Allen

I’ve no idea how the time went so quickly. Yet from the off Martin had us hooked. It was quite bizarre, in the nicest sense. In the blink of an eye we were all transported back to 2004 with tales of the Great Escape. Of the Cup runs. Of Harry Redknapp. Of the unapproved ‘bid’ to sign Paolo Di Canio from West Ham. One can only imagine the panic in the board room. Of play-off pain. Of Steve Claridge. Michael Turner. Sonko. The genuine affection and pride in Jay Tabb. The potential of Alex Rhodes and Oli Skulason, both of whom saw promising careers so cruelly hit by injury. 

The former a player whom Martin felt had the potential to go all the way to the top whilst the story of breaking the injury news to the later one which brought a lump to the the throat. We talked about the players v fans match. About secret 5.30am video filming in the Thames at Kew Bridge with a lad called Mark Chapman (never heard of him). And we talked a lot about Sam Sodje.

Oh my. You could probably write a book on that section alone. The tackles. The signing. Training with Deon Burton. His approach to opening letters from the council – and the carnage that almost ensued as a result. And I bet what was discussed don’t even begin to touch the sides. The recording of the session has gone live already – you can find it below c/o the GPG YouTube upload. Please do take a look as these words can’t even begin to do it justice.

Equally, there was honesty. Things that didn’t work out so well. Stephen Hunt. The move to Leicester City. Eastleigh. Yet as Martin also added, he doesn’t do hindsight. No regrets at all were evident. Just an engaging look back on all those things that had gone well. The smile on his face broad as we talked about Luton Town away (a game that , seemingly, everyone went to) . The deadpan humour evident and the twinkle in the eye there for all to see. 

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Another game of ‘Celebrity Squares’ (albeit only one celebrity)

Thomas Frank is wonderful. I love how he is with the fans. How welcoming and open he is at all times. Yet for those of us of a certain age, to see Martin pull us up by the bootstraps and bring Brentford football club so close to the success we enjoy now was nothing short of incredible at the time. It all feels so fresh, even 15 years on. To hear it discussed in such open, engaging and, being honest, hilarious  detail by the very architect of the moment was nothing short of incredible.

Martin is unique. We all know that. I’m pretty sure he even ate a dog biscuit at one point late on in the session. We all worshipped him at the time. We all still love him now. Nothing can change or take away what he did. Nothing can replace that love he shared with us and vice-versa. It must be quite a special and rare feeling for an ex-manager to still be welcomed back with such open arms. Yet for him to talk through all this left a huge smile on the face. A quite wonderful feeling of well being at what is a quite awful time out there. The way he made every question feel so personal – not just in the answers given but the engagement with the person asking it. Nobody else mattered beyond you and him. And it was quite special.

The whole thing is here. ENJOY

Once again, huge thank to Trevor Inns and his GPG team for setting this up. It really was phenomenal fun. Even now, Sunday morning, I’m still smiling at the though of Sodje launching into a scissor kick or Martin dropping the F bombs at Harry Redknapp and co.     

There is talk of another one next Saturday. Good luck to whoever follows this, you’ve got one hell of a job to do ! 

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Every ball was caught and kicked with us

Nick Bruzon

One Response to “Once a hero, always a hero. Martin Allen provides a great escape from lockdown.”

  1. Maybe April 12, 2020 at 3:20 pm #

    Theirs only one Martin Allen.

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