As regular readers of this blog know, our former striker from the early 70s, Richard Poole, is still a fervent supporter of Brentford and keeps a close eye on things from his home in France.
Well I saw the goals on Sky here in France, and it seemed a great win, but looking deeper at the various comments I heard both on television as well as from some people I still know in the game, I do not know what players will come and go but I do think that what the Bees have got to worry the most about is trying to keep hold of a very good manager.
That might well be the real key to both staying in the Championship and then perhaps pushing on even further.
Richard is merely articulating what many of us are already thinking.
Mark Warburton goes about things in his own unique and quite special way.
He is a real talent who has provided a totally fresh, innovative and highly successful approach to managing the club.
I wrote a piece on him recently (http://tinyurl.com/qg95ufl) rather pretentiously titled “Mark Warbuton – The Renaissance Man of Football” which highlighted just how well he has gone about his job and the huge impact he is making.
Unfortunately, the secret is out, as our growing success will certainly make people sit up and take notice of him, and people within the game are finally beginnning to realise what we Brentford fans have known for quite some time now.
Hopefully the conservatism of the so called “football fraternity” will act to our advantage, as they are so innately cautious and hidebound that I suspect that none of them will be prepared to take a gamble on somebody who totally breaks the mould and whose approach is way beyond their understanding and comprehension.
Richard Poole did remind me of the example of Gérard Houllier who began as a teacher, but in my naivety I just hope that Mark also appreciates how unique and exceptional a situation he has at Brentford in terms of the existing infrastructure, with a new stadium and a bright future on the horizon, all underpinned by Matthew Benham’s support.
Something that I hope would be hard for him to walk away from as he has the opportunity to put an indelible stamp on the history of Brentford FC and perhaps even make as big an overall impression as Harry Curtis did throughout his long and glorious spell as manager.
Richard also provided memories and brief descriptions of some of his teammates at Griffin Park from around forty years ago and started off by recalling the goalkeepers he had played with:
Well in my four years at Brentford I played with five of the goalkeepers you named in your article last week, Gordon Phillips, Paul Priddy, Garry Towse, Bill Glazier and Steve Sherwood.
As for Chic Brodie, his son was also at Brentford as a youngster.
Gordon Phillips used to stay behind to help us apprentices when we needed a goalkeeper and I had a lot of shooting practice against him.
Paul Priddy was quite a good keeper and even though he was pretty tall, in those days football was extremely physical and goalkeepers needed either to be as agile as a cat, like Steve Death of Reading or Peter Bonetti at Chelsea or big and strong.
I played with Steve Sherwood at both Brentford and Watford.
In the victory against Bradford City which saved us Bees from re-election our two goals both came from his big kicks up the field on to my head.
I set up Dave Simmons who scored our first goal and the second goal was similar, with Dave this time helping me to score, and my first goal for Watford was nearly the same, coming from a massive kick up field from Steve.
Though Steve Sherwood was a shy person off the field, on it he really imposed himself and you could always tell he was going to go far and, yes, I never could understand why Brentford didn’t keep him, but, as you say, that was Brentford in the 70s.
I remember as an apprentice I babysat for Jackie Graham and his wife, well I had to earn some extra money given how little Brentford were paying me at the time!
Jackie was exactly what he seemed to all you fans, he was hard but fair and with a never say die attitude. He was always there to encourage his team mates and really was Mr Brentford for my generation.
As for Paul Bence, though he was a bit slow, he was a good player who performed well for the club until Mike Everitt arrived. Paul was not his type of player and I remember the last game of the season at Gillingham where I played up front with Dave Simmons. Paul said goodbye to us on the coach that day but he was very good friends with John Docherty and came back into the fold when Docherty was made manager.
I know John Docherty was loved by the Bees fans but it seems funny that not many seem to mention him any more given how long he served the club.
What a player Dave Simmons was, and he helped me so much. I remember in the changing room just after that Gillingham game, where we had lost 1-0, he apologised to us because the player he was marking had scored from a corner. What more can you say about someone?
He was sold, if I remember correctly, by Mr Docherty although he was a Mike Everitt signing. He was a real blood and thunder type of player, like a lot of Mike Everitt’s signings.
I was a fan of Roger Cross, such an elegant player but not, I think a player to go to places like Rochdale or Scunthorpe, but that’s just my opinion.
Barry Salvage was a ball player with so much ability, and he was untouchable on his day, but I don’t think he was best suited either for the bread and butter of the fourth division, but he was another great bloke and I think another one let go by Mr Docherty.
You asked me about Nigel Smith who was a really classy player signed by John Docherty, but who was very young like me. I don’t know why he fizzled out although he played far more games for Brentford than me.
I am telling you exactly how I saw things and I think you can see I was very disappointed with Mr Docherty, not simply because he let me go but more for the fact that when he was manager he never gave me a real chance. Yes I know that Gordon Sweetzer was there in my last year at the club, but I deserved an opportunity.
In passing I would like to mention two other goalkeepers I knew at the club. Firstly, Graham Cox and also Neil Oliver who signed as an apprentice a year after me. He would have been a great keeper but, well, he wanted more from life than being a apprentice footballer.
I mean, at that time we were paid £10 a week (I’ve still got all my contracts) and nights out were not allowed. We had to make a choice if we were going to be serious about trying to become a professional footballer.
It wasn’t at all a glamorous life back then but I would still have made the same choices today if I had the opportunity.
There were lots of youngsters my age who were far better than me but then the sacrifices you had to make were huge. When I signed at 15 for Brentford my Dad said, look son you’re working now (but to me it was a total joy, not a job) you can come home at night whenever you want, but each morning when you go to work you do your best. I always remembered his advice and tried to do just that, so that when after training and then doing the menial jobs like cleaning the changing room and washing the baths I could honestly say I’d done my best.
I had my nights out like everyone else, but football was the most important thing to me.
When I look at my first team debut you remember it was only the year after Brentford restored the reserve team.
I came straight from playing for Brentford Juniors to first team football in the fourth division and there were some hard old B……… in the other teams!
To this day I keep them all close to my heart.
I just wish I’d had the chance to give more to those Brentford fans who in my eyes mean far more to me than the supporters of bigger clubs like Chelsea or Manchester United.
Well that’s enough of me babbling on for now!
Please don’t stop, Richard, we really love hearing from you.