Cheer Or Boo? That Is The Question -12/7/14

Yesterday I wrote about some of the ex-Bees who are now playing for other clubs in the Premier League and Championship and how much pleasure it gives me to pick out former heroes (and a few villains) from the weekly team lists.

Whilst former Bees are in fairly short supply at the top level of the game that is not the case lower down the pyramid where they abound.

Colchester, for example, fielded Ryan Dickson and Marcus Bean in our 4-1 thumping late last season.


Dickson, whose presence was blithely ignored by the Brentford fans, had filled out and seemed to have lost some of the pace and verve that had made him stand out a few short years back.

Despite how well he played on the day I felt a bit sad that he had lost his way and rather missed the boat.

His much heralded move to Southampton ended in as many tears as Paul Smith’s had done previously and he now seems to be just hanging on when at one time he threatened to become a star.

Marcus Bean was as combative as ever, gave his all, played the simple pass well and scored a brave and decisive goal which, given that the game meant nothing for Brentford supporters but pride, was roundly applauded by the entire ground.


Bean represents everything that is good about football and footballers. He plays with an obvious joy, relish and commitment and gives everything to his cause.

He has made the most of his ability and has served every club he has played for with pride and passion.

All true supporters identify with Marcus as he plays in the manner that they surely would if they could swap places with him on the field.

Leon Legge also served us well as a strong, traditional centre half, unbeatable in the air and also blessed with a turn of pace, but not so comfortable with the ball at his feet.

He too received a warm welcome when he returned with Gillingham, as did keeper Stuart Nelson, another who gave the club good service.

Some former Bees cannot expect the same treatment.

Brian Statham was so unnerved by the poor reception he received when returning with a Gillingham team packed with former Bees that he panicked, reacted, conceded a game clinching penalty kick and simultaneously earned himself an early bath – welcome back, Brian!

Gary Alexander has just announced his retirement so unfortunately we Bees fans will not have another opportunity to express our anger and disgust at the shabby way in which he left the club for Crawley two years ago at a crucial phase of the season, an action that might well have guaranteed his future for another couple of seasons but one that contributed greatly to our Playoff charge being derailed.

Let’s just say that he is probably not on Uwe Rosler’s Christmas card list.

Alexander did return to Griffin Park a couple of times with Crawley and was unsurprisingly greeted like a pantomime villain.

On each occasion he played like a man with lead in his boots and was totally peripheral to the action.

Conscience perhaps, or maybe the incessant booing and jeering got to him?


So how should you behave towards a former player returning with his new club?

What advice does the etiquette book give or is this a topic where no hard and fast rules apply?

I think it depends largely upon how popular the player was, whether he gave everything to the cause and the manner in which he left.

I still feel hopelessly compromised about Clayton Donaldson who is due to return to the scene of his past glories on the twenty-third of August with his new club, the hated Birmingham City.

It almost felt like a dagger to my heart when he decided to leave us and I know that it will hurt to see him in the Brummie Blue.

That being said I will certainly applaud him given his magnificent service and I really hope and indeed expect that everyone else does the same.

He could and maybe should have re-signed for us once his contract expired but he was with us for three seasons and was totally commited to the club in everything he did both on and off the field.

Whether I will still be feeling so indulgent should he score is another matter.

Good manners can only extend so far.

Given his past history Clayton won’t celebrate.

He scored four times in total against his former club Crewe on their last two visits to Griffin Park and each time he marched po-faced back to the halfway line like a man suffering from a severe case of haemorrhoids.

I personally find this new-fangled non-celebration pact as meaningless and annoying as the trend towards kissing the badge, and whilst Emmanuel Adebayor might conceivably have taken things a tad too far with his provocative celebration when scoring for Manchester City against his former team Arsenal, I really see nothing wrong with celebrating – after all, that’s what a striker is there for, isn’t it?

The weirdest return to Griffin Park was surely that made by journeyman striker Leon Constantine when playing for his new club, Torquay United on Boxing Day 2004.

He had played a few uneventful games for the Bees the previous season and never threatened to break his scoring duck – the number 65 bus trundling down Ealing Road outside the stadium was at more risk than the goalkeeper so wild was his shooting.

Totally out of character, he followed the immutable law of the Ex, scored a clinical and match-winning second half hat trick, celebrated wildly, and got away scot-free given that no Brentford supporter even recognised or remembered him.

Sometimes former players can take unfair advantage of their reception and abuse their host’s hospitality.

A case in point was goalkeeper Paul Smith who was a firm fan favourite during his spell at the club and his much needed transfer fee from Southampton helped keep the club afloat at a time when creditors were beating on the door.

He returned  to Griffin Park with Southend United for a Third Round FA Cup replay last year with the reward of a plum home tie with Chelsea awaiting the winners.

Smith milked the generous applause that rang around the ground and was so inspired that he held the Bees to a narrow 2-1 victory on a night when he faced an incredible thirty shots and he even saved a Harry Forrester penalty kick.

He played Brentford on his own that night and almost deprived us of our prize.

So the moral of the story is to be nice to your returning heroes – but just not too nice!



6 thoughts on “Cheer Or Boo? That Is The Question -12/7/14

  1. Clayton? Sounds like he’s guilty of listening to an agent who can only see pound signs and nothing else. Having seen photos of his miserable face pre-season training with his new club, I think he already knows he’s made a boo boo. I’m convinced we’ll finish above Brum. I’d only boo him if he did something wrong in the game.

    In addition to the above, I seem to recall Billy Manual had an interesting return with Cambridge United, culminating in an early bath. Also remember Len Bond getting a round of applause when he was stretchered off with a gashed knee when returning to GP with Exeter.


  2. Just to clear up where I stand on players returning.When Clayton returns and if he’s still a starter for Brum by then I will jeer at every mistake he makes and cheer every time Tony or any other Bee kicks lumps out of him.If he does score I would expect him to cup his ears or give me the finger as that’s how football should be as far as I’m concerned.
    all this dramatic stabbed in the heart stuff don’t cut it with me he left for a better deal and only spoke about his new club no mention of the club or fans he left and that’s fine by me.
    Overrated by so many fans but 4 goals since the turn of the year for us if he repeats that at brum forget about what reception he gets at GP the abuse from that lot will be on another level.
    Players come and go and always will mainly for money and security in their short careers don’t blame them so save me from the badge kissing and false love us fans are the genuine love no one else

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The key point as you say is that players do come and go and the days of one club men like Peter Gelson and indeed Kevin O’Connor are practically gone.

    It is a job for them and they go where the money and opportunity is.

    In truth I have no problem with Clayton going and he will have to deal with the consequences of his decision. He had a great situation at Brentford and he has thrown it away to chase the bucks at Birmingham – as is his absolute right.

    I also feel that his success in the Championship is totally uncertain as he is unproven at that level and we will probably end up with a better replacement.

    So objectively all is fine.

    But Bill, as I am sure you will agree football is about the fans and our emotions and just as I admire Marcus Bean I also admire Clayton both as a player and as a man and I am sorry that we have lost him even though I know that life goes on for both of us and I suspect that we will end up having got the better of the deal!


    • When you mention players like Gelson which was my youth era.Those days players looking back seemed to spend their whole carears here and there seemed genuine affection for the club.Higgy Hawley Chic Gordon Phillips Jackie Graham to name a few.times have changed so much since those days of rare joy on the field but the bond between players and fans is something that will always stay with me


      • The absolute best thing about doing the Big Brentford Book series was meeting my heroes.

        We had ikons like Peter Gelson, Alan Hawley, Alan Nelmes, Barry Tucker, John O’Mara and Pat Kruse at the book launches.

        All real gentlemen who loved the club and had a real affinity with the supporters too.

        They thought Dave, Mark and I were doing them a favour by remembering them but the honour was all ours.

        Those days are gone now and more’s the pity.


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