Quite simply it was top, top football. What a way to say goodbye.

30 Jul

The morning after the night before. Smile broad. Head throbbing. Who cares? It was worth it. If you have to go, go out in style. Brentford said goodbye to Griffin Park by reaching the Championship play-off final in the the most incredible manner. Swansea City were swept aside 3-1 (3-2 agg) in a second leg that the Bees dominated from the off. Now, Fulham or Cardiff City await on Tuesday for the £170m shot at the Premier League. It was a far cry from the mini-run that had seen us lose three on the bounce but with Rico Henry restored to the line-up, we were back to our brilliant best and then some.

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Ollie sums up what we all felt (on Brentford official twitter)

What a night. What excitement. If there had been any stress in the build up then it wasn’t evident. Thomas and the players seemed calm on arrival at the ground. 1-0 down from the first leg, they came out of the blocks flying. It was a tactic that Thomas had suggested would be coming but nobody could have expected this fast a start. Certainly not yours truly who had nipped in to the kitchen to stick pizzas in the oven at the same time as Mathias Jensen bisected the Swansea defence and midfield with a quite incredible low pass. The timing was exquisite (not mine) as it went direct to who else but Ollie Watkins? Our leading scorer  was there to run on to it, bear down on goal and give The Bees the lead. Parity in the two-legged tie restored. The cheers in the streets around the ground evident for all. Nerves calmed. Goal sweets eaten.

Four minutes later and it was two. This time, Marcondes the man to get his name on the scoresheet. Benrahma delivering a cross into the box which Emiliano guided home from the penalty spot with a text book headed glance. He made it look so simple yet it was anything but. It was a moment that was all about keeping your cool and he more than did that. A quarter hour gone and already Keith Stroud’s moment of madness was a distant memory. Brentford had taken the lead overall and were on fire. 

This wasn’t the ‘play-off’ mode Brentford we know and love. That have seen us cruelly denied so many times in the past. But then this isn’t the Brentford of old. From top to bottom we are ten times better than anything that has gone before 

At the other end, David Raya keeping us in it with a fine low save before Said cut into the box and saw his low drive beat the ‘keeper, only to be denied by the inside of the near post. It was a blistering shot that ran agonisingly across the face of the goal after hitting the woodwork. It could have been three but no matter. The way the Bees were playing it would surely be a matter of time. Turning the screw when we had the momentum was key if there was to be any hope of reaching Wembley. 

Instead, it stayed 2-0 at half-time. Brentford dominant and with a slim lead but Swansea only a moment away from levelling things up. They would be the ones to start the second half at 100 mph, wouldn’t they? No chance. With a minute of the restart we had a third. Jensen freed Rico who delivered an inch perfect cross into the box for Bryan Mbeumo to fire home from the edge of the six yard box. It was a great finish under pressure but plaudits for the assist. What a ball and what a way to find personal peace of mind after the heartache of Sunday’s wrongful dismissal. 

Oh. My. Word. The screams. The excitement. The relief. Not even we’d cock this up, would we? The way Brentford were playing there was a danger of brackets being required. And then Swansea woke up. David Raya pulling off another fine save as the visitors began to dominate. First half roles reversed with the Swans left no choice but to go for it and with little less than a quarter hour to go, they got their goal. Rhian Brewster capitalising on what we’ll politely call an otherwise excellent Pontus losing his bearings trying to clear a ball that have been played into the middle from distance. The youngster made no mistake lobbing David Raya to bring the Swans within a goal of extra time.

Tension. Stress. Edge of the seat stuff. Perhaps in our house but not on the pitch. The Bees calm as you like as, if anything, we were the ones coming closer to the next goal. A yellow card for Thomas Frank showing how hard fought this one had become before a horrible six minutes of injury time were added on (from where?) but we held firm. Pontus using all his experience to help see it over the line. Said almost putting things out of sight with a curling effort that went just wide of the upright. One last cross into the box from Swansea cleared. Full time blown. The noise from Griffin Park ringing across St. Paul’s Park and through Brentford as it became evident fans were gathering celebrate. The mood ecstatic. The relief palpable. After going down in our eight previous attempts at the play-offs, this was about as composed and exciting as I’ve ever seen the Bees in this game of footballing roulette. Quite simply it was top, top football.

Leaving Griffin Park was always going to be an emotional experience. I wrote a piece yesterday afternoon about what saying goodbye to our lifelong home meant to me. It’s here and I would please ask you please take a look if for no other reason than to share your thoughts.  Yet if there was tear in the eye putting that piece together, this morning there’s a grin as broad as a split watermelon. Sleep has been at a minimum, such was the buzz and the post match celebrations at our friends house back on Brook Road. An extra pint or three  – not that they were really needed after the amount of, err, nerve calming that had gone on the few hours previous – were enjoyed. The fat was chewed and then waiting in the street to watch the lights go out on Griffin Park for the last time. CLUNK. That was it. Gone. It’s all over on the playing front for our home of 116 years. The next time we run out together will be at Wembley on Tuesday evening. Then it’s on to Lionel Road.

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The lights are on for the last time

On the pitch, the players and staff celebrated. Despite the best efforts of Mr. Benham (who pulled a post match ‘Trotta’) Bryan Mbeumo goes down as the last Bees player to score at Griffin Park. Yet it was all about the team last night. They were immense. Gutsy. Confident. Back to their brilliant best. Doing it for the fans. The fans living the dream through our heroes.

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The ball sailed over – curse that crazy player finding stats computer

It was an incredible experience. Today we can enjoy it and then the build up to the next one can begin in earnest. The small matter of the Premier League…… 

Tonight we can watch the second leg with genuine interest tonight. Will it be Fulham or Cardiff City? With the Bluebirds 2-0 down from the first leg, the smart money would be on a West London derby in the final. But if Cardiff start like we did last night then anything is possible. Whatever will be will be. We’re going to Wemb-er-lee. I’m looking forward to finding out who joins us.

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Loved this one from Bees United

Nick Bruzon 

5 Responses to “Quite simply it was top, top football. What a way to say goodbye.”

  1. Jonathan July 30, 2020 at 8:10 am #

    I’ve just read your Farewell to Griffin Park piece. It echoes my sentiments. But, what a way to leave Griffin Park.
    I have over 60 years of Griffin Park memories. It is however fantastic that these memories are cemented by the last real game, Sheffield Wednesday and last nights game.
    Griffin Park is now in the past. Lionel Road for the future.
    UP THE BEES

  2. Ken Luckett July 30, 2020 at 9:55 am #

    I wonder how many that attended Brentford Res.2 v Swansea Town Res 1 with me in 1937 are still with us. Is there anyone out there still who shared the air raid shelter under the old Brook Road stand with me.
    I remember counting eleven of us watching The Bees v West Ham in the New road stand during a foggy war time game which had to be called off. Also turning up In those days at half time because they opened the gates and we got in free.
    So many memories, Jimmy Hill, Ron Greenwood and Tommy Lawton. Watching Tom Finney, Stanley Mathews and Brentford’s Wally Bragg containing John Charles and Leeds.
    Who got more excited than me when Joe Crozier was picked to play in goal for Scotland?
    Farewell Griffin Park it will always be remembered.

  3. Rod Davidson July 30, 2020 at 12:04 pm #

    The History Boys ! Bryan Mbeumo now the last man to score for Brentford at Griffin Park.
    Every man jack of the team now remembered for WINNING OUR LAST GAME AT GRIFFIN PARK.
    Well done for coming our of the traps firing on all cylinders- the tempo and commitment was exceptional.
    Special praise for David Raya who dominated his area in dealing with crosses and with his distribution which was in a class of its own.
    Mathias Jensen really put in an creative stint and his ball to Ollie was world class.
    It seems that we are now adding to the dream.
    This team can go down in Brentford history, and the folklore that spans all those Griffin Park years.
    Keep up this heroic endeavour and you will all have a ‘Hall of Fame’ of your own at the new stadium.
    The BMW HALL OF FAME will be added with all of your names too.
    It may take a lengthy sign board, but it would say :- Perfectly jointed dream running machine, join noble heroes.
    Which just happens to include every initial of the rest of the team.

  4. Pauline Ellus August 1, 2020 at 9:34 am #

    Both my husband and myself are both bees fans. My first game was bees v canaries when l sat in the stands with my dad as a child. My husband’s first game was bees v Plymouth they list that day 3.0. we got married on the day bees v Rochdale on 27th September 1969. And yes we attended the match afterwards. We went to most of the away games as well as the home ones. We celebrated with the team on the train when Frank Blunston won manager of the month. Yes even though we live in Northamptonshire these days we still follow the bees. Come on you bees.yeah. x

  5. Pauline Ellis August 1, 2020 at 9:39 am #

    Both my husband and myself are both bees fans. My first game was bees v canaries when l sat in the stands with my dad as a child. My husband’s first game was bees v Plymouth they list that day 3.0. we got married on the day bees v Rochdale on 27th September 1969. And yes we attended the match afterwards. We went to most of the away games as well as the home ones. We celebrated with the team on the train when Frank Blunston won manager of the month. Yes even though we live in Northamptonshire these days we still follow the bees. Come on you bees.yeah. x

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