Keep Calm – Part Two – Richard Poole Has His Say – 26/9/14

??????????????It seems like last night’s Fans’ Forum was well received and I am gratified to learn that quite a few of the questions I posed in my last article were both asked and answered.

A lot of good sense was spoken and we are lucky indeed that our club is in such safe hands at present.

I spoke the other day about the need to keep calm and not over react after the last two defeats and the accompanying jolt to our confidence levels.

Well, our former striker from the 70s, Richard Poole, seems to agree as he has just sent me this latest update and his passion and deep-felt love for Brentford FC has moved me deeply, as I hope it will you:

I have just been watching the Liverpool match in the League Cup against Brentford’s last league opponents Middlesbrough.

This brings back such wonderful memories from September 1974 when we were drawn away to Liverpool in the second round of the League Cup.

Although I was still a young apprentice, Mike Everitt took me along as thirteenth man.

Only one substitute was allowed back then so I sat on the bench and watched how close we came to beating the mighty Liverpool that night.

Yes, us, little Brentford, ran them so very close and took the lead through Roger Cross, nearly made it two-nil when Barry Salvage missed a great chance, and only lost narrowly by the odd goal in three.

Although Kevin Keegan did not play that night I remember I was standing outside our team’s dressing room when he spoke to me and asked if I would like to take a look around the trophy room with him, and did I jump at this opportunity!

I only really realised recently just how lucky I was to live the dream even for such a short period of time.

The thrill of actually sitting on the bench at Anfield and as I went up the tight stairway to the players’ tunnel seeing the immortal words ” THIS IS ANFIELD” before taking my place on the bench with the rest of the staff.

Incredible times!

Although we lost the match, we gained the total respect of all the Liverpool players who recognised how close we had come to a massive upset.

We did not travel back to London that night, which was rare at that time, and certainly the exception to the rule.

lpoolAfter most away matches we travelled back to Brentford on a long coach journey, generally not arriving home until well into the early morning.

That night we stayed at a hotel and were invited by the Liverpool players to join them at a night club.

Not only were they great stars but they were also great men.

I was fearfully proud to be a Bee, but sometimes it was very hard given the way some people in the football world would denigrate and talk the club down.

There was a time just before signing for Brentford  when I was selected for England Under 15 Schoolboys trials along with Kevin Harding which took place at Bisham Abbey for a whole week.

We both signed schoolboy forms for Brentford at thirteen or fourteen years old and played for Hounslow schools.

So here we were with talented Under 15s like Ray Lewington and Butch Wilkins, and lots of others who were on schoolboy forms with big clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and OPR.

The following year we would play against them all in the South East Counties League.

We had some great players like Roy Cotton but most of our team were non contract players and we would be up against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal who would have twelve or fourteen apprentices in their side but our team, Brentford, at least won their respect.

Anyway going back to the England trials, we were all asked by the England training staff who we had signed schoolboy forms for.

Well when Kevin and I said “Brentford” we could hear this audible gasp go up around us, but we were always proud to pull on that red and white shirt.

From the moment we joined the club as schoolboys under Frank Blunstone, and when we became Apprentices at fifteen we were made to feel proud to belong to Brentford FC.

This feeling was instilled into all of us by the training staff as well as all the players.

When we signed apprentice at the age of fifteen, we played in the South East Counties League Under 18 Championship which contained a lot of the first division Under 18 sides which were packed full of apprentices.

Our home matches were played at Ruislip Town’s ground, not on the their first team pitch but on the one just next to it with a slope worse than the one at the old Yeovil Town ground.

We had a great team who more than defended Brentford FC’s name and everyone was proud to pull on that shirt.

At the end of the season we were invited to enter a youth tournament in Frankfurt with lots of international teams, which we won after a penalty shoot out.

Yes, a Brentford team winning on penalties and we must have been one of the first English teams to win a penalty shoot out.

I am proud to say that the last shot was from me and as well as winning the competition, I finished top goal scorer in the tournament and won an award

Although we came back with a trophy there was only a little picture in the Middlesex Chronicle !

All the playing staff and managers really made you feel part of something and to be proud but upstairs in the Board Room, well that was another story.

When we played our youth matches on a day when the first team was at home there were always some of the players cheering us on as we played  on the Saturday morning.

One who was always there was Jackie Graham.

What a great bloke he was.

I remember when I scored my first team goal against Bradford City, I turned and started running back to the centre circle, but then I heard a strong Scottish voice saying “stop running son, enjoy the moment” – it was Jackie Graham.

He was so hard and a great competitor on the pitch as well as when we had Scotland versus England matches in training!

Now I hope he won’t mind me saying this, but he was a man who was not afraid of anything except the dreaded needle when each year we had a flu injection.

Please forgive me Mr Graham!

So, all you Brentford fans just KEEP CALM.

You will earn respect and you must never forget where we come from – yes, Brentford, and  we should be so proud of Brentford too!

I for one will never forget what it meant to me when I was that starry-eyed youngster, to belong to something called BRENTFORD FC.

Thanks to everyone who helped me during my time at this great club.

I think that at the time I just did not understand quite how lucky I was.

I experienced Liverpool, Lincoln and Bradford with Brentford and made my debut in the league cup for Watford at Crystal Palace and in the next round I played against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

My paths crossed with so many places and so many different people throughout my career.

I also met Elton John who was the club president at Watford.

Brentford gave me such a good base which even to this day helps me in my life.

I think that Richard has said it all and he has demonstrated yet again how former players feel about our club, which is a truly special one.

Another Brentford supporter, Andre, was similarly moved by Richard’s comments:

Whatever ups and downs the next forty years have in store for the club (and I hope there’s more of the former), I really hope we never leave behind the essence that prompted Richard’s comments and the reason why we continue to follow this club, and that in forty years time some of the current players will be able to write about their time at the club in the same heartfelt and moving fashion.

And, for the avoidance of doubt, that’s not a tear in the corner of my eye – just a bit of grit.



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