Pride! – 14/9/14

Paddy Considine in PrideI saw a wonderful film last night.

“Pride” tells the remarkable true story of how a group of lesbians and gays selflessly raised funds to support the Welsh miners who were suffering from the hardships caused by the knock-on effects of the Miners’ Strike thirty years ago.

They overcame scepticism, prejudice and downright aggression from all parties, including the very people who they were trying to help, but they persisted, and through a combination of bravery, persistence and sheer bloody mindedness they were eventually accepted and recognised for all their selfless and incredible efforts.

It was a heartwarming film that focused on human endeavour and kindness, and how people can work together to break down barriers, overcome obstacles and eventually triumph.

I am not afraid to say that it moved me to tears.

“Pride” is also the word that I want to use to illustrate exactly how I feel after watching Brentford’s victory over Brighton, as there are, I believe, so many parallels between the film and what we witnessed at Griffin Park yesterday.

The three-two scoreline and the brief match facts that will follow, in my opinion, go nowhere near to explaining either the significance or indeed symbolism of what yesterday really meant or represented.

More of that later though.

The Bees made one change from the team that won at Rotherham last time out with Moses Odubajo replacing Stuart Dallas who had been injured whilst on International duty.

This was a massive decision by Mark Warburton and one that was to have a huge influence on the game.

For the first fifteen minutes Brighton passed and pressed us to death.

We couldn’t cope with their movement and skill on the ball and were left chasing shadows.

We didn’t help ourselves with some sloppiness and one particularly horrendous error when Alan McCormack sent a quick throw in directly across the face of his own goal, beyond the reach of the straining Harlee Dean and Croft’s instant and fulminating volley from twenty yards hit the post and bounced the right way for the Bees.

Tarkowski also cleared off the line from Baldock when he had rounded Button and should have scored.

Fortunate not to be dead and buried after a start reminiscent of the one against Birmingham, we woke up and came alive.

moses brightonDouglas dummied and Gray shot through the gap before being manhandled by Dunk just outside the box.

Surely a clear goalscoring opportunity but referee Steve Martin, the Jerk, only brandished yellow when everybody, including the Brighton manager, and I suspect the player himself, expected red.

Jota’s free kick inched past the post but we then took the lead with a goal that personified where we are now as a team.

Judge looked up in the centre circle and picked out Moses Odubajo’s run inside the dozing full back with a fifty yard pass that was truly a Hoddles-esque thing of beauty.

The pass deserved a goal and Moses took instant control, held off two challenges and hit a perfect angled shot just inside the far post.

We were ahead for the first time at home this season, totally against the run of play, but for the next twenty minutes we took the visitors apart by playing an exuberant brand of one-touch passing football that really had to be seen to be believed.

Douglas won everything. Pritchard and Judge worked tirelessly and dribbled and passed to perfection.

Jota for the first time showed us what he will bring to the team.

He is a will-o’-the-wisp combining pure skill and vision, and he is not afraid to do his share of hard graft either.

He switched flanks with Moses who then put on the afterburners and combined perfectly with Jake Bidwell, whose inviting low cross was converted by Gray at the near post.

Brighton were reeling but got back into the match with a soft goal from a flicked on corner and were a whisker away from an equaliser when Greer’s volley was disallowed after the referee spotted a push in the area.

The next goal was crucial and it was the Bees who scored it.

doug2Moses shot just wide after galloping through a terrified defence before Bidwell managed to control a pass that he had no right to reach, exchanged a one-two with Jota, before crossing the ball into the area where Douglas timed his late run perfectly and scored with a powerful header.

For those of you old enough to remember, Douglas resembled no-one more than the great Martin Peters, a member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad, who was renowned for ghosting in undetected and finding space in the area where none seemed to exist.

It was exhibition time again and both Judge and Pritchard came close to a fourth goal before Brighton fought their way back into the game and former Brentford loanee Teixeira tied the entire home defence in knots with his trickery before setting up Holla for a twenty-five yard curler into the top corner.

A goal of stupendous quality.

The force was now with Brighton but we kept playing our game, keeping possession where possible, and aided by three excellent substitutions, in Dallas, Toral and Proschwitz, ran the clock down and fully deserved the win.

Button, in truth, never had to make a save but his command of his area and distribution were exactly what was required.

The back four were exceptional, and after his early aberration, Alan McCormack never put a foot wrong, defending with strength and passion and combining beautifully with Moses, and later, Dallas.

Believe me when I say that he is not out of place in the Championship, as many supporters feared.

Gray ran tirelessly and is a real danger and once the paperwork is concluded with the Portugese FA, hopefully in time for Tuesday, we will also have Betinho to support him to add even more pace and goalscoring threat up front.

So what did yesterday really mean?

Yes of course it was three points which took us up to the heady heights of sixth place in the table, in itself an eye watering achievement.

But in my opinion it means so much more.

Yesterday represents a total mind shift in how Brentford as a club, and, indeed, us supporters should regard ourselves.

We have traditionally been a small club punching above our weight and Martin Allen in particular used to promote this as a virtue in order to motivate us to achieve more than we perhaps should have done.

Any victory over a so called more glamorous or bigger club was seen as a giant-killing and was generally obtained by a combination of hard work and organisation.

Now these are two crucial virtues that we must never lose, but yesterday, for the first time in my many years watching Brentford, the penny finally dropped – we are now as good as anyone else in our division.

There is no need for an inferiority complex any more.

Our football is as good, and in many cases far more impressive, than that of any opposing team  we are likely to come up against.

Yes, we must always treat our opponents with respect, but we should now go out on the pitch expecting, rather than merely hoping, to win.

We proved that we can play football of a calibre that I never believed that I would ever see Brentford play – and many other supporters said the same thing after yesterday’s match.

Yesterday was a watershed and we have now come of age as a team and as a club.

Personally I think we deserve this after all the tough years of insipid mediocrity we have been forced to endure.

There has never been a better time than now to be a Brentford player or supporter.

Let’s all give thanks to the people who are responsible for this incredible, amazing and frankly, unbelievable transformation, and just enjoy the ride.

This takes me back to where I came in.

“Pride”.

Something that we should all possess in abundance today, after what we were privileged to watch yesterday afternoon and yes, I also cried some tears after the match, as well as after the film.

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