More than just one man. Today is about all of us coming home.

31 Jul

Saturday lunchtime. Excitement is building. For Brentford fans, the first chance to attend a ‘normal’ home game since the 5-0 humping of Sheffield Wednesday back at Griffin Park in March 2020. We’re now in August 2021 and whilst not even feeling as though we are close to being out of the woods, the chance to reconvene en-masse is not one to be spurned. West Ham United the visitors. A pre-season friendly between the two Premier League clubs (not a typo) and an added layer of anticipation given the return of one well loved face in Said Benrahma. There hasn’t been this much anticipation about seeing a West Ham player since the days of John Colby. The England International, of course, one of the most universally loved players on the world stage following the part he played during that infamous ‘friendly’ between the Allies and Germans back in the day.

John Colby – West Ham and England

I’m pumped for this one. The performance at Old Trafford during the week was one to inspire even more optimism than before. Shandon Baptiste’s strike was immense whilst the touch from Bryan Mbeumo to begin the move for his goal was one which, in retrospect, was criminally overlooked on these pages. Yet what brought greater pleasure was the all round solidity, even upon full rotation of the outfield contingent. After weathering the early storm there was no being fazed by what was a first visit to that vast area for just about everyone.

Now we face a West Ham team sure to feature that man Benrahma. So much has happened that it’s almost a case of pinching one’s self to remember he played for us, and also scored against (allegedly) Premier league opposition last season. The League Cup goal agasint Fulham, where Michael Hector was mugged but the most outrageous of back-heeled nutmegs, a quite fitting send off for the Algerian magician. A man who lit up Griffin Park with his ball tied-to-foot-with- a-piece of string levels of skill previously only seen from Jota or Roy of the Rovers (not a real footballer).

Said did it one last time against Fulham(R)

Many thought we’d fail without him. Instead, we rebuilt and despite the odd wobble, achieved the ultimate goal. The Bees were promoted to the Premier League. Now we get the chance to catch up once more. To say goodbye in person. I’m sure there’ll only be a fond welcome during the warm up. But come 3pm, all bets are off. Brentford will be playing to win. No old pals act. no room for sentiment. Perhaps there’ll be ah ug for Peter Gilham.

Yet it’s more than just one man. It’s a chance to see and hear what Lionel Road sounds like when it’s got more than 4,000 present. A chance for many to make their first pilgrimage to our new home. Supporters who have only ever known Griffin Park now get to see if it is all worth it (it is ). To understand why we’ve had to move.

Leaving Griffin Park without saying a proper goodbye was heartbreaking for so many. Even moreso , seeing the images of floodlights coming down, stand being ripped apart and the pitch dug up. Perhaps today will provide some cathartic relief to all that pain. To complete the journey. I’m one of the lucky ones who has already been to Lionel Road. Who has already had the opportunity to see the future. The atmosphere against Bournemouth was immense. This could be ten times better.

Roll on 3pm. And for the first time in a while, we can even say… “See you there”

View from the Braemar – Said celebrates

Nick Bruzon

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