Football has well and truly come home. Welcome back Woody.

23 May

We’ve spoken about what happened on pitch yesterday between Brentford and Bournemouth in the morning’s other column. If you want the full take , pictures and video on that one then it’s here. Yet perhaps as important was the chance to see familiar faces once more. For our tight knit footballing family to reunite. There was Uncle Justin. TC. Mandy. Greville Waterman. Nity Raj and even Matthew Benham walking up the street. We were only ‘Jumper man’ short of a full house. Yet, for me, one of THE big highlights was us bumping in to Woody and his mum at full time. I knew they’d got hold of tickets in the build up but being able to see the smile on his most recognisable of faces as we caught up with each other outside Lionel Road was just about perfect. Everyone close to the club knows Woody and his story. Yet I don’t think many of us, and I include myself in that, can appreciate just how tough this last year has been for him and them. Chatting away, we got onto the subject of how it would be to share just what yesterday meant from their viewpoint. So without further ado, here we go. Over to you, Nat……

The last year or so has been hideous for Woody. Imagine if you can, being able to  only understand real things, stuff you can touch, like footballs, people, chips.  Imagine if you could not talk and you love routine, Brentford is your life,  and  all of a sudden someone took all that away from you with an explanation in another language.  French or Italian, Spanish, any language you don’t understand  Would you be angry?  Sad?  Poorly? Confused?  At first Woody thought he had been ‘naughty’ and he was the only person not allowed to go to GP.  That was a tricky one and I will not share the way W expressed his lack of understanding…….. In desperation one day I drove him there to show him it was shut which was heart breaking but much needed. 


Woody signed Brentford with his hands and hope on his face everyday.  I sadly shook my head and said not yet….    
TV is not the same for Woody, this is not Wonka Vision, you cannot smell it, touch it or feel it.  Woody needed real football. Less than 24 hours to go we heard we had tickets for the game.  I am a horse lover, it was like being told Black Beauty was alive or I could ride Valegro.  The lack of build up was in fact a blessing because Woody only does NOW, he doesn’t do tomorrow or later.  


I was worried, it was not GP.  Our routine was gone….  It was new to us both.  

When I told him we were going,  I think he didn’t believe me, it was too good to be true, however he was awake at 4.30am so something must have sunk in.  We left early, Annika Pannika mum overthinking.  The journey was different,  I think he was sceptical but thank goodness he believed in me enough to take a different train journey.  
We get off the train….  different stop…. he sees the Giant Bee… he actually starts to believe me that we are going to a game.  We are super early ( my fault)  mum behavior, and I see him start to relax.  W sees people with Brentford clothes on, something he loves and recognizes and a year or more of horridness begins to melt away.

The next 90 minutes were nothing short of magic.  It was like a sensory explosion for Woody. A place where he could be his true self, make noise, and although its not totally comprehendible EVERYONE knew the intent. We have five senses, but today there was definitely another one, one that touched Woody and healed him.  So hard to explain but it was an energy, a togetherness, not 30 years of hurt but definitely at least 14 months. Whatever happened today made Woody,  Woody again and content.  


As a mum to see the peace on his face and the contentment was nothing short of magic. I feel frustrated when people misunderstand football, for us it is a safe haven, a giant pair of arms hugging us.  It is something that doesn’t need words, actions speak louder than words and feelings shout louder than than actions. 

Massive thanks to Brentford for the kindness and acceptance, it has completed us. 

Woody (right) and H do their thing together after the game.

9 Responses to “Football has well and truly come home. Welcome back Woody.”

  1. Mr Mark Harvey May 23, 2021 at 9:12 am #

    Lovely article and fabulous to see!

  2. Mike Lane May 23, 2021 at 10:04 am #

    Dry heartwarming

  3. Rod Davidson May 23, 2021 at 10:54 am #

    I didn’t know about Woody’s story, but now I do it’s a big hug to you from many Brentford fans.

  4. Andy Cooper May 23, 2021 at 2:58 pm #

    Tremendous Nick. Well done from the Hong Kong Bees. Saw you in the crowd on tv yesterday.

  5. Simon Sapper May 23, 2021 at 3:15 pm #

    Great post Nick (and Nat). Hope you are sharing widely to show how important/positive football can be.

  6. Ray Bailey May 24, 2021 at 8:25 am #

    That’s a great read Nick and Nat, thanks for sharing something so personal.
    You must be so relieved that hopefully all will be back to normal for next season. This must be the topping on the cake for your family along with saving your stables earlier in the year?

  7. Martin O'Brien May 24, 2021 at 3:22 pm #

    You git, ya made me shed tears. Not just for Woody, but the amazing Nat.

  8. Nick May 25, 2021 at 7:08 pm #

    Woody brings so much to so many. Lovely article.

  9. DidntYouUsedtoBee May 26, 2021 at 1:58 pm #

    Heartwarming…I hope they’ve got tickets for Wembley.

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