With all the talk over the last few days concentrating upon the future of Adam Forshaw and to a lesser degree the identity of Brentford’s latest transfer targets it is very easy to lose sight of what are, in reality, far more serious and important matters.
Yesterday Scott Barron announced his retirement from the game after failing to recover from a chronic hip injury that he incurred at Southend in an otherwise unremarkable and frankly, unimportant, Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match back in December 2012.
He fought his way back to action and even managed a few appearances last season but he was released by Brentford in May and he has finally been forced to admit defeat and is now looking for a fresh start and a new career.
Yet looking at the statistics you could say that Scott was one of the lucky ones.
According to the PFA, the average career span for a professional footballer is eight years and Scott managed to last in the game for over ten years and made one hundred and fifty first team appearances in a career that took him from his North West home to Ipswich Town and their famed academy.
From there he was transferred to Millwall and spent five successful years there and established himself as their first choice left back, making over one hundred and thirty appearances before moving to Griffin Park in August 2012.
A figure that would have been far higher had the injury gremlins not struck.
Ironically it was an injury to a team mate that provided Scott with the opportunity to play, and star in Millwall’s 2010 Playoff Final victory over Swindon and his appearance at Wembley was undoubtedly his career highlight but his progress was hindered by a series of groin and knee injuries even before his career ending recurring hip problem.
He did everything possible to recover full fitness including undergoing hip surgery but it wasn’t to be.
He was brought to Brentford by Uwe Rosler at the start of the 2012/13 season when it appeared unlikely that Everton would release Jake Bidwell for another loan spell, but – Sod’s Law – almost before the ink on Scott’s contract was dry, Everton relented and Scott went from first choice to the bench in the blink of an eye.
Such is the way of football.
He always gave of his best and played well when given the chance and he even managed a substitute appearance against Chelsea in the FA Cup, but for all his passing ability and skill on the ball he was never going to replace Jake Bidwell given his greater power, strength and defensive ability.
Scott also made the odd impressive appearance on the left side of midfield but for the most part he became a member of the Bomb Squad and he swiftly faded from the scene.
Even when injured or not picked, Scott remained a positive influence in the dressing room and around the club and was highly popular with his team mates.
He also grew an astonishingly full beard which was the subject of much comment and hilarity.
His eventual free transfer came as little surprise, but what did make me stand up and take note was the searing honesty of his comment whilst he was twisting in the wind at the end of last season, waiting for the bad news:
“I haven’t spoken to the club yet but I don’t think I’ve warranted a new contract. I don’t deserve it. I haven’t performed well enough and it hasn’t gone particularly well for me”
I was impressed by what he said and how he neither felt sorry for himself nor did he bemoan his fate.
He just accepted what life had to bring and tried to move on and get on with things.
For that attitude and approach he has my deepest respect.
I asked Mike Calvin, author of “Family” that wonderful book where he described a year spent behind the scenes with Millwall FC for his view on Scott, and this is his verdict on him, and what a lovely epitaph it is:
“By usual standards, Scottie would be patronised, and easily overlooked. He wasn’t a regular when I knew him at Millwall, and fate has conspired against him at Brentford.
Let’s, though, look beyond appearance statistics and concentrate on the man. He is the type who makes a dressing room tick : fully committed, unflinchingly honest and good humoured.
Those qualities will hold him in good stead for the future.”
Scott Barron personified the “good pro” in everything he did and like all Brentford supporters, I would like to thank him for his time at the club and wish him well for the future.