It is the first day of what I fully expect to be the most momentous and exciting season I can remember since I first started supporting Brentford way back in 1965.
Today for me is the reward for all those freezing days in midwinter with the icy wind chilling my bones, watching and groaning as inept journeymen like Eddie Hutchinson, Jide Olugbodi, Paul McCullough, Clyde Wijnhard and Fola Onibuje stuttered and fumbled their way to inevitable defeat.
Today is payback time for those seven Playoff failures and pathetic capitulations at places like Cheltenham, Peterborough and Macclesfield – grounds that we hope never to have to visit again.
Today makes up for all the smug comments I have had to endure over the years from all my patronising Premier League supporting friends and workmates.
Today is the day we take our first step along the road to what we hope and indeed expect, will be a highly successful season in the Championship.
We are ready for the challenge that awaits us.
Our preparation has been sharp, focused and committed.
The new players are bedding into the squad.
The squad is strong and of a quality unsurpassed almost in living memory.
For our part as supporters, we are also slowly getting our heads around the revamped ticketing system at Griffin Park.
There is a feeling of almost palpable excitement in the air.
We are preparing to do our bit and sing and encourage our boys to victory.
My head is reeling as I mentally tick off the team that I would select for the game.
How will the opening game with Charlton go?
Will we win and get off the mark with our confidence boosted to an even greater degree?
Will we perform to the best of our ability and put on a show and prove that we are no longer “Little Old Brentford” and we fully deserve to be where we are?
Will we freeze on our big day in front of a packed Griffin Park and get off to a faltering start and have to play catchup?
No wonder I cannot sleep – and I am sure that I am not alone.
All around the country there are supporters with similar thoughts in their head as mine – and yours too, I am sure!
To prove my point, and rather than fumble my way through this article, struggling to find my true voice and explain exactly how it is that I feel, I am instead going to quote you a passage from one of my favourite football books.
“Only A Game?” was written over forty years ago by the then Millwall and Eire International midfielder Eamon Dunphy.
I will allow him to explain in his own words, far better and more lyrically and lucidly than I can ever dream about, what the eve of the new season really means to players and supporters alike:
Tomorrow the first game. I am confident. Not certain, for that is impossible.
The season begins tomorrow and for nine months our lives are committed to the business of winning games.
This is a very special day for football people.
Small children lie restless in bed dreaming of the conquests they and their heroes will make tomorrow.
Their dads, pints in hand, talk cynically in pubs – “They will be just as bloody terrible this year.”
But in a small corner of their hearts, they too nurture a dream that this will be “our year.”
No matter how long you have been in the game, how cynical you have become, or how terrible you know your team to be, tonight you push the past and present behind to dream of the future, which for you is nine months long.
This year I am confident. There are no certainties, but when I look rationally at Millwall, I cannot see us failing.
We have everything. Skill, character, experience, a good crowd. We only need the luck.
We should not fail, but we might…. I believe in what we now have at Millwall…. Of course I have my reservations. Yet I still believe.
Millwall finished the season in twelfth place and Dunphy found himself dropped, transfer listed and sold by the end of November – but you have to dream don’t you?