Whilst faces, appointments and names are forgotten and my glasses and mobile phone remain permanently lost, there is still one decade that remains sharply in focus to me – namely the Seventies.
Why should that be when so many other years have gone totally blank?
Maybe because it was my formative years, the time of my teens, “O” and “A” levels, learning to drive, going to University (or in my case, three of them!), leaving home, my first job – even my first girlfriends, and the Seventies have forged some indelible memories into my psyche that I can still remember as if they occurred yesterday.
It was the era of Progressive Rock – all those bands with ridiculous, pretentious names like Focus, Hatfield and the North, Caravan and Gong that you are now forced, on pain of death, to listen to alone in the car with the windows wound tightly shut.
It was the time of Abba, M*A*S*H, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, the first colour televisions, decimal currency, the Three Day Week, flared trousers, loon pants, sideburns, the baking hot Summer of 1976, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Punk Music, The Winter of Discontent and the election of Margaret Thatcher – and you can all add your own favourites.
Bringing matters back to football, who can forget Brazil and The Beautiful Game in the 1970 World Cup?
The Gordon Banks save from Pele, Mavericks such as Peter Osgood, Stan Bowles, Tony Currie, Alan Hudson and Frank Worthington, the Chelsea versus Leeds FA Cup Final replay kicking match at Old Trafford, and for me, most evocative of all: Barry Davies’s iconic commentary:
“Lee…. interesting….very interesting. Look at his face, just look at his face”
as Francis Lee’s fulminating twenty-yarder screamed into the roof of the Manchester City net.
As for Brentford, the Seventies saw two promotions, a relegation, and an FA Cup run to the Fifth Round – a bit tame perhaps for a normal Brentford decade given the excitement and non-stop action of subsequent years!
I can still vividly picture great talents such as Roger Cross, John O’Mara, Pat Kruse and Andy McCulloch, the moody genius of Steve Phillips, the loyalty of characters such as Peter Gelson, Paul Bence, Bobby Ross, Alan Hawley, Gordon Phillips and Alan Nelmes and the steely determination, skill and commitment of the man who, for me, best symbolised what being a Brentford player is all about – the immortal Jackie Graham.
Any goal by John O’Mara, Roger Cross, Gordon Sweetzer, Andy McCulloch or Steve Phillips, beating Cardiff in the mud bath at Ninian Park, Alex Dawson’s last gasp winner against Gillingham in the FA Cup, Paul Priddy’s Superman impersonation at Vicarage Road, saving those two Watford penalties, poor Stan Webb attempting the impossible by trying to replace the legend that was John O’Mara – a real Dean Holdsworth/Murray Jones scenario.
How about Bob Booker’s legendary hat-trick against Hull, Lee Holmes riding pillion on the motorbike on the way to his wedding after defeating Southend, Bill Glazier literally throwing away the chance of an historic League Cup win at Old Trafford, the exciting smooth-as-silk attacking football of the Bill Dodgin promotion team and winning the first set against Crewe by 6-4?
One other name to conjure with – John Bain – bar Stan Bowles, has there been another midfielder as cultured and skilled at the club since his short stay came to such a premature end?
There was a real sense of togetherness between the players and the supporters with many memorable trips to distant away games at such far-flung and uncharted territories as Workington, Southport and Darlington.
Most poignantly, who can forget the packed Royal Oak, the two 18,000+ crowds in 1971-2, a triumphant promotion season where we attracted crowds of over 10,000 to fifteen Football League games and wonder where they have all disappeared to now?
I still bemoan the lost opportunity, the last one for some considerable time, when lack of vision, ambition and investment saw the club crash straight back into the bottom division in 1973, a calamitous fall which saw us hit the bottom of the entire Football League in the very next season.
Let’s not hark back on sad memories, instead we should concentrate on the things that gave us all so much joy.