International Bees – Part Two – 10/10/14

stathamDuring the last International Break last month I started to tell the tale of some of the Brentford players who received International honours over the last fifty years or so ( and today, appropriately enough during another International Break, I thought that I would continue on that theme and discuss our Internationals of the 90s, who certainly were a varied and eclectic bunch.

Brian Statham served the club well after joining Brentford from Spurs, where he had won three England Under-21 caps as an exciting young attacking fullback.

He enjoyed a five year stay at Griffin Park but never really fulfilled his early promise.

Injuries certainly didn’t help him and hampered his progress throughout his career which ended with him only playing around two hundred first team games.

He broke his leg at Bournemouth at a time when a new contract was negotiated but not signed, but the Bees acted very well in honouring the contract despite his injury.

He will perhaps be best remembered for marking his first ever appearance at Griffin Park by being sent off when playing as a loanee for Reading, receiving his marching orders in his last game for the Bees, at Wembley in the Playoff Final against Crewe, and then marking his return to the club as a Gillingham player the following season with yet another red card for a needless stamp on Ijah Anderson that also brought about the award of a penalty kick.

Brian recently recalled his spell at Griffin Park with fondness:

The club I would say I had the most success at would have to be Brentford.

I played there for five years and was part of some really good sides and worked under some good managers.

I played at Wembley for Brentford and won the Third Division title in 1992.

Looking back I had some really good times there.

Chris Hughton was a cool, calm, experienced and composed left back with fifty-three caps for the Republic of Ireland who helped get us over the line in 1992 as he signed for us at a time when our promotion dreams were stuttering.

He lasted until the following Christmas when he broke down with a knee injury in the pre-match warmup before the Derby County match and unfortunately never played again.

If I remember correctly Grant Chalmers had to be summoned down from the stands with a freshly eaten hot dog still digesting in his stomach, to sit on the bench as a last minute replacement!

The Bees were having a good run until Hughton’s injury but sank like a stone immediately afterwards as his influence was sorely missed.

His eventual replacement was Kenny Sansom of whom the least said the better, as the experienced England International, a veteran of eighty-six England caps, was totally out of his depth and past his prime as he appeared to coast through his eight games for the club.

forsterAnother Eire international, the thirty-six year old Gerry Peyton, a former old enemy at Fulham, had two excellent spells in goal as a loanee when Graham Benstead was injured, and did his utmost to save us from relegation but without success.

Relegation saw David Webb clear out the more experienced and expensive players and he built up a vibrant young team that should have been promoted twice in his first four seasons, but that is a story for another day!

Nicky Forster was a wonderful signing for a club like Brentford, who were pretty much on the crest of a slump, but his agent, “Monster, Monster” Eric Hall made it clear that he saw Brentford as an ideal stepping stone for his star client.

Nicky gave us two and a half seasons of excellent service and he amazed and frustrated us in equal measures.

He had blistering pace but poor close control, and he often seemed to fail to take the ball with him.

His finishing was clinical, except when he had time to think, and particularly when he was left with a clear run in on goal.

I well remember the exciting Charlton FA Cup tie at The Valley when we lost bravely by the odd goal in five, but Nicky was particularly profligate that evening and let our opponents off the hook after he missed a procession of gilt-edged chances that his own pace and anticipation had created for himself.

Nicky won four England Under-21 caps, scoring once, before his move to Birmingham City for £700,000 in January 1997.

hurdleBrentford were firmly ensconced at the top of the league when he was sold and surely on the way to promotion.

No replacement was forthcoming, the goals and victories dried up and the Bees finally limped into the Playoffs and eventual embarrassment at the hands of Crewe Alexandra.

I was definitely in the minority in rating Gus Hurdle.

He established himself in the team as an overlapping right back who was really comfortable on the ball.

Defending was certainly not his forte but I felt that Micky Adams gave up on him far too early and he drifted out of the game, but not before winning a couple of caps for his native Barbados.

Gus is really one of the nicest and warmest people I have ever met in the game and I am delighted that he has carved out a successful career for himself in television and the media, an area ideally suited to his sunny personality.

There was general excitement and anticipation when Paul Davis, veteran of over three hundred and fifty appearances for Arsenal, joined us in September 1995.

He was a gifted creative midfielder who had won eleven Under-21 caps and he was expected to be the fulcrum of a renewed promotion charge after the disappointment of the Huddersfield Playoff defeat.

Davis managed the grand total of five appearances for the Bees and performed like a duck out of water and looked as if he would have preferred to be anywhere other than standing around in our midfield watching the ball fly over his head.

davisThis was a major lesson learned about the danger of signing experienced players who had no previous experience of, or apparent appetite for, playing at our level of the game.

Marcus Bent was another striker who had a long and successful career without perhaps reaching the heights that at one time looked likely.

He showed wonderful potential in his early games and was a total breath of fresh air as his pace and strength presented a real threat to opposition defences.

He was still developing and improving when David Webb surprisingly sold him to Crystal Palace before his twentieth birthday.

The eventual fee of three hundred thousand pounds was also very low for a player of his potential and ability.

Marcus won two England Under-21 caps but instead of becoming a star, his career stood still and he became a footballing nomad who played almost six hundred games for fourteen different clubs and his numerous transfer fees totalled over ten million pounds.

Manager, Eddie May, did his best to make bricks without straw after seeing his squad decimated by David Webb in the aftermath of the Crewe Playoff defeat.

His efforts to bring in new blood were thwarted at almost every turn but he managed to sign two decent loanees in Welsh International midfielder Gareth Hall from Sunderland and Chelsea’s Republic of Ireland international keeper Nick Colgan.

Both performed adequately amongst the shambles surrounding them, but their stays were short.

Former Scotland Under-21 International defender Graeme Hogg was one of the very few players to emerge with credit from that appalling season as he gave everything to the cause, as well as being a potent attacking threat at set pieces.

Niall Thompson came and went in the blinking of an eye in 1998 and the Canadian International striker made little impact apart from on a Carlisle United defender when he was sent off for a stamp in our rare victory at Brunton Park.

The arrival of new owner Ron Noades brought about a new recruitment policy with a series of eager, keen young players brought in rather than the journeymen employed by the previous regime.

rowDanny Boxall, Robert Quinn and Martin Rowlands earned twenty-one Republic of Ireland Under-21 caps between them whilst at the club and all flourished at Griffin Park.

For all the anger generated by his departure from the club and subsequent provocative behaviour when celebrating at the end of a QPR versus Brentford derby match, Rowlands was a wonderfully talented midfielder who was equally effective on the right hand side or down the middle.

He got the last laugh over Brentford when he returned to Griffin Park in 2013 with Leyton Orient, scored with a scorching long range free kick and, to add insult to injury, then ran the length of the pitch in celebration.

An Adebayor-like action that did nothing to heal the rift between him and the Brentford supporters!

Tony Folan was gifted with immense talent and scored goals against Peterborough and Cambridge United that almost defied belief and should have been set to music.

Four Eire Under-21 caps were scant reward for his ability, but his career was ravaged by injury and he faded from the scene far too young – a real tragedy.

Midfielder Gareth Graham was another of the former Crystal Palace contingent to follow Ron Noades to Griffin Park.

He never managed to establish himself and faded out of sight but not before winning five Northern Ireland Under-21 caps

Scott Marshall and Patrick Agyemang earned International recognition for Scotland Under-21 and Ghana respectively but had indifferent spells at Brentford, although Agyemang showed some indications of the quality he would develop later on in his career.

The decade ended as far as International recognition was concerned with Brentford’s Icelandic contingent.

Hermann Hreidarsson was signed out of the blue from Crystal Palace for a club record three quarters of a million pounds, and started slowly before showing his immense talent, not least when gallivanting up the field to support the attack.

He scored a memorable match winner to settle a tight promotion clash against Cardiff City and was never going to stay too long with the club.

He was far too good for us!

He eventually earned us a fee of two and a half million pounds when he left a year later for Wimbledon having won a Championship medal and twelve full caps for Iceland during his stay at the club.

His International team mate Ivar Ingimarsson joined Brentford just after his departure and he also proved a revelation once he moved to centre half and he gave the Bees excellent service, memorably going throughout the entire 2001-02 season as an ever-present without picking up a single booking, before joining the exodus after the Cardiff Playoff defeat in 2002.

So the 90s saw a variety of International players pass through Griffin Park, some on the way up, perhaps more on the way down, and  a similar trend was to continue into the next decade, as we will see in the next International Break.


2 thoughts on “International Bees – Part Two – 10/10/14

  1. Some good players in that list.

    Wasn’t Gareth Graham (not quite such a good player!!) also capped for Northern Ireland at under-21 level right at the end of the decade?


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