Farewell To Farid! – 15/7/14

farid

So it is farewell to Farid El Alagui who completed his transfer to Hibernian yesterday.

Like many Bees fans, I was sorry to see him go, but he fully deserved the opportunity to play first team football every week and that was not going to be the case for him at Griffin Park, so a return to his old stamping ground across the border made sense for all parties.

Farid’s stay at Brentford will always be filed in the “Might Have Been” category as injury totally ruined his chance to establish himself at the club.

He arrived in the Summer of 2012 on the crest of a wave as the Scottish First Divison Player of the Year after scoring twenty-seven goals for Falkirk and he seemed exactly what Brentford needed, a strong target man with a real eye for goal.

He was seen as the replacement for the departed Gary Alexander and it was anticipated that his partnership with Clayton Donaldson would spearhead Brentford’s promotion challenge.

The fans loved his “kissing the coin” ritual after every goal that he scored and his warm and sunny personality ensured that he was instantly welcomed and accepted by players and supporters alike.

Unfortunately we were to be shortchanged, as after a promising start including a classic last minute diving header winner against Colchester, the injury hoodoo hit.

Characteristically chasing down a lost cause, he collided with Crawley keeper Paul Jones with a sickening thud, and suffered a serious knee injury which ended his season – and pretty much his Brentford career.

Bravely he fought his way back to fitness at the start of last season and onto the Brentford substitutes’ bench, but his days as a first choice were over.

Typical of the man, he shrugged off his disappointment and contributed mightily from the bench, with a crucial ninety-sixth minute equaliser at Gillingham, as well as playing a significant role in Clayton Donaldson goals against Peterborough – a vital late winner, and Crewe.

Just to emphasise that he was as sharp as ever, he also scored five goals in the various cup competitions.

His all action, bustling approach and power in the air did not fit in with the patient passing style adopted by Brentford last season, but he provided an incredibly valuable option off the bench which allowed us to go seamlessly to “Plan B” with every likelihood of success.

It should also be said that he found the time to play an active role in the club’s community programme.

In January the decision was made by Manager Mark Warburton to allow Farid to move on loan for the rest of the season to Dundee United where he scored three times.

This was a surprising and more than magnanimous gesture as it allowed a player coming to the end of his contract the opportunity to put himself in the shop window and ideally secure a new deal elsewhere.

The gamble paid off both for Farid and ourselves but there were certainly times when we missed him and the impetus he gave us, but all’s well that ends well.

Farid’s transfer is the most recent of a series of moves between Brentford and Hibernian.

Eddie May, a Scottish Under-21 International, was signed by Steve Perryman from Hibernian for a club record fee of £167,000 as Andy Sinton’s replacement, but he never settled in London.

May was skilful with a good eye for goal but was also lightweight and often peripheral to the action and soon returned North of the border.

Clayton Donaldson also had a fairly indifferent spell at the Edinburgh club before finding his feet – and his goal touch, at Crewe.

Remarkably, Brentford also signed two goalkeepers from Hibernian; the eccentric Olafur Gottskalsson, who started off so well and tailed off so dismally, and the ineffable Simon Brown who started off badly at Griffin Park and got worse.

Hibs fans will probably not want reminding of the final link between the two clubs – Manager Terry Butcher, whose dismal spell at Griffin Park was surpassed by his exploits at Hibs last season where he was at the helm for their disastrous relegation from the Scottish Premiership.

I am sure every Brentford supporter will join me in wishing Farid “bon chance” for the future as I cannot think of another player who deserves it more given what he has gone through, and yet he has emerged smiling from the other side of the abyss.

I shall certainly look out for Farid throughout next season and my regular Sunday morning forensic examination of team lineups for ex-Bees will require more attention now to the Scottish game.

I am off on holiday later today for about ten days so it is unlikely that I will be able to update my blog during that period.

The key question for me is….. will anybody notice!

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