I can wallow in nostalgia and read about the exploits of the heroes of the past.
But you never really know what hidden gems you are going to find.
However one fact can be taken as read:
Nothing really changes.
Time after time you read the same Pravda-like excuses, rewriting of history, and half-truths from the programme editor and team management alike.
“The ball never ran for us.”
“The referee gave us nothing.”
“We are riddled with injuries.”
“Our luck is certain to change.”
“We have hit the post five times this month.”
“Now we can concentrate on the League.”
I mentioned last week the grudging, feudal and half-baked send-off given to the “Terrible Twins” George Francis and Jim Towers, when they were peremptorily sold off to Queens Park Rangers.
Almost three hundred goals and years of devoted service between them merited no more than a terse single line of farewell in the next home programme.
Then I saw something really interesting in a Brentford versus Southampton programme from November 1956:
Mr Brentford, Ken Coote, had dramatically missed a potential match winning penalty with five minutes to go in a local derby with Crystal Palace which eventually ended all square.
Nothing changes there then, but the next paragraph really made me sit up and take notice:
Some spectators (after the kick had failed, of course) declared that the penalty should have been entrusted to Bragg or Towers, conveniently forgetting that neither of those players converted his last penalty kick for the League side.
It was Brentford’s third penalty miss of the season, but this was the first one to make any difference to the result.
Remember the mini-fracas and pow-wow that took place before Marcello Trotta finally took that fateful season-defining spot kick against Doncaster, with Clayton Donaldson and Bradley Wright-Phillips both interfering and hindering Kevin O’Connor in his efforts to do what had previously been agreed, and take the penalty kick?
Who knows what would have happened had fate and his team mates not intervened.
I am quite certain, however, that Kevin would have slotted the ball away calmly and accurately low to the keeper’s right as Neil Sullivan dived the wrong way and given the season a fairy tale ending.
I have it on extremely good authority that in the week leading up to the Doncaster game, Kevin had studied footage of every recent penalty kick faced by Sullivan and discovered that he invariably flopped to his left.
We all know what happened next, although thankfully promotion was merely delayed for one more year, and I think most fans would agree that we are better equipped for the demands of the Championship now, than if we had been promoted, as we surely should have been, under Uwe Rosler in 2013.
Ironic that it was finally another penalty kick, taken by Alan Judge, that cemented promotion the following season.
Fortunate indeed that he actually managed to score the one that really mattered, rather than following the example of the other three he took last season, which were all frittered away.
I wrote recently (http://tinyurl.com/ojje7fo) about Brentford’s totally appalling, unacceptable and catastrophic record with penalty kicks in recent decades, and it is illuminating to note that by the end of October 1956 we had already missed three penalty kicks that season, all taken by different players.
Evidently we were just as poor at taking penalties back in those days as we are now.
That leads me back nicely to the present day and the question as to who will actually take Brentford’s next penalty kick?
We are currently finding goals pretty hard to come by and can hardly afford to be as profligate as we were when James Tarkowski put our last spot kick into orbit against Leeds United.
Mark Warburton quite predictably, and correctly, fully backed his young defender afterwards, and stated that despite his miss, he retained full confidence in James’s prowess from the spot.
I’m glad he did, because I can assure our normally astute and perspicacious team manager that his confidence is shared by precisely none of our supporters who, as one, gasped in astonishment when the gawky defender strode up to the spot, and unfortunately all of their worst fears were realised.
Tarky is currently on the bench after his suspension, and, assuming he is not on the pitch when we are next awarded a penalty, and given the idiosyncrasies of most of the referees that have been inflicted upon us to date this season, that could be quite some considerable time, who will be entrusted with the kick?
Alan Judge did score in the penalty shootout earlier this season at Dagenham and maybe the job will revert to him, although I would prefer Jota, Alex Pritchard or Andre Gray to be entrusted with the responsibility.
All of them are confident on the ball and have the ability and temperament to choose a corner, not change their mind, and find it with aplomb.
Alan McCormack, when fit, could also be an outside bet given his successful penalty in the FA Cup last season against Staines.
Not the best of penalties, it must be said, but it went in.
Interestingly enough, Nick Proschwitz has a powerful and accurate shot, which he regularly demonstrates in the prematch shooting practice and perhaps his time will also come.
Given the two powerful and accurate spot kicks that he smacked home in shootouts against Swindon and Dagenham, Captain Fantastic, Tony Craig, also has his supporters and maybe we could do worse than give him a shot at the job that nobody really seems to want.
I have now got to the stage that whenever Brentford are awarded a penalty kick I automatically assume the worst and, like Jonathan Douglas, hardly even bother to watch any more, and wait for the cheers or groans from the crowd.
Apparently back in the 50s regular penalty kick taker, Jim Towers, used to hit his spot kicks so ferociously that they would either result in the keeper flinching as the ball seared past him into the net, grateful that he hadn’t got his body in the way of it, or every so often the supporters behind the goal were placed in clear and present danger of decapitation.
As they say, nothing much changes!