Gillingford – Part One – 4/7/14


So it is farewell to Luke Norris who has decided to accept a two year deal from Gillingham rather than remain at Brentford.

And who can blame him as he is twenty-one now and at an age where he feels that he needs to play regularly and start making a name for himself.

Luke was another youth team product who spent four years at the club.

He got his chance to show what he could do at first team level last season when he spent two productive loan spells at Northampton Town and Dagenham and Redbridge in League Two where he scored nine goals including some real crackers.

He also made his first start for Brentford’s First Team and scored with a clinical finish for The Bees in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against AFC Wimbledon where he linked up well with Farid El Alagui.

Given the choice of joining a League One team in Gillingham who are likely to offer him regular first team football at a decent level or biding his team at Griffin Park waiting for another opportunity it is hardly surprising that he has decided to leave. The Gills have also shown their faith in him by offering Luke a two year contract rather than the one year extension that he has been offered by Brentford.

Luke showed that he has a keen eye for goal and clinical finishing ability so it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he will come back to haunt us in the future. Indeed  to a large degree I hope that he does as I am sure that we have included a decent sell-on clause into the deal with Gillingham and ideally he will earn a lucrative transfer for himself in the future once he earns his spurs at the Priestfield Stadium.

Luke’s departure is merely the latest in a long conveyor belt of moves between the two clubs and it is interesting to examine some of them in more detail and decide who got the better end of the deals.

The name that stands out is Nicky Forster who to my utter amazement joined the Bees in 1994 when he was being talked about as a future Premiership star. His agent “Monster, Monster” Eric Hall saw Brentford as a suitable staging post and the pacy striker gave us two and a half seasons of excellent service terrifying opponents with his pace and anticipation and horrifying us supporters with his utter inability to score from one-on-one opportunities.

In a moment of true and typical Brentford folly and madness he was sold to Birmingham City in January 1997 at a time when we were miles ahead at the top of the league and looking like a shoo-in for promotion. The fact that his replacement was a total nonentity in QPR loanee Steve Slade spoke volumes for the club’s ambitions at the time.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot as we blew automatic promotion (and can David Webb please tell us why top scorer Carl Asaba was moved out to the left wing) and limped into the Playoffs where we were summarily despatched by Crewe in another Wembley non-event and abject surrender.

Tony Funnell, the diminutive striker who looked more like the mascot than a player, was pretty much a waste of sixty thousand pounds but his late goal against Millwall did preserve our third tier status when relegation looked on the cards.

Billy (The Pitbull) Manuel cost us a similar fee and was converted from an adequate left back into an excellent midfield ball winner who starred in our ill-fated season in the second tier.

Simon Royce was also foisted on us by Gillingham but I realise that am being really unfair as he came predominantly as our goalkeeper coach and only played in an emergency after Richard Lee was sent off against Yeovil.

He proved to be so far over the hill that he was coming down the other side and his first touch of the ball was to pick Paul Wotton’s fulminating free kick out of the net. His static goalkeeping also did little to help Andy Scott’s failing cause as we stumbled to a four goal to one thrashing at Dagenham in Royce’s only full appearance.

Luckily he has proved to be an excellent coach! Do as I say rather than as I do might well be his motto!

I think you might agree that our captures from Gillingham have been a bit hit and miss so in my next blog I will take a look at the talent that we have allowed to slip away to the Gills and decide who has ended up with the better side of the bargain.


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