Bees Up! – Fulham Down! – 22/11/14

I have finally woken up this morning but feel as if I am still in dreamland.

ful4Did we really win our fourth consecutive Championship match last night, the first time we have achieved that feat almost since there was a King on the throne over sixty years ago?

Is that us, little Brentford, sitting comfortably in fourth place in the league, a mere point off the top?

Was that really Brentford who came back seemingly from the dead, with two goals in the final ten minutes of a pulsating match, to win a game that we looked like losing despite totally dominating from start to finish?

Was that Griffin Park, ram packed to the gills with the roof seemingly coming off as the stadium erupted at the final whistle?

The answer to all four questions is an emphatic yes.

This has been a seriously good few days for the club as we begin to come of age.

The landmark 125th anniversary was celebrated by over six hundred guests at a glittering dinner held on Thursday at the Hurlingham Club in SW6 where Brentford took over Fulham.

The team repeated the feat last night, playing their illustrious visitors off the park and their sumptuous football provided yet another feast this time for the spectators at a sold out Griffin Park as well as the viewers of the live broadcast on Sky Sports.

I wrote recently about our dilemma.

Do we try and remain under the radar or shout from the rooftops about the incredible recent happenings at the club?

I am afraid that given what occurred last night the decision is going to be taken out of our hands.

The football world is finally waking up to the fact that there is a new power emerging in West London.

It is of course early days yet, and we must try and avoid getting carried away as in the greater scheme of things we have achieved very little, but we are certainly on a journey.

The force and momentum are with us, and on the evidence of what experienced Bees watchers have seen so far this season, who knows just how far we can go and where we will eventually end up.

Last night it was the turn of Fulham to challenge our new found self-belief.

The two teams were renewing a rivalry that flourished and grew in the 80s and came to a head on that glorious Sunday morning in April 1992 when the visitors were demolished by a four goal first half onslaught by the Bees.

Since that unforgettable day Fulham, buttressed by Mohamed Al-Fayed’s millions roared ahead and left Brentford trailing far behind in their wake, and seemed to have firmly established themselves in the Premier League until they imploded last season and were relegated with ignominy after a thirteen year stay at the top level.

Under Kit Symons they have been recovering from an appalling start to the season and fielded a team packed full of top level international stars, but there still seemed to be a sense of entitlement surrounding them and they gave the firm impression that they felt it it was all a bit beneath them to spend a Friday night slumming it against their poor relations at their dilapidated shack of a stadium.

Back in the day, one of my clients, Ericsson, sponsored Queens Park Rangers, and by virtue of my job I was sentenced to five years’ hard labour where I was expected to attend some matches at Loftus Road.

At that time, just like Fulham, QPR had been relegated from the Premier League and mistakenly pulled out all the stops to retain most of the overpriced so-called superstars who had totally under performed and got them into the mess in the first place.

Excellent players, like Trevor Sinclair, slept-walked their way through the season, making it patently obvious by their inertia and reluctance to sweat that they had no real interest in playing at a level they felt totally beneath them and only gave their all on the big occasion in an effort to attract a new club.

ful3For Trevor Sinclair read Brian Ruiz last night.

Fulham were a mirror image of that lamentable QPR team – all fur coat and no knickers as the old expression goes.

Brentford took the game by the throat and totally outplayed their visitors in a first half of total domination.

Brentford’s incisive and pleasing to the eye short passing style contrasting with Fulham’s prehistoric long ball assault.

The Brentford midfielders interchanged with alacrity.

Pritchard’s magic feet opened gaps in the Fulham defence, the rampaging Jonathan Douglas and the revitalised Toumani Diagouraga won every loose ball and passed it impeccably, the live-wire Alan Judge was at the centre of everything good we did and Toral showed further evidence that he is coming of age as a first team footballer.

All that was missing was a goal, but thanks to an inspired display from the marvellous Marcus Bettinelli in the Fulham goal we were somehow denied the two goal cushion which was the least that our first half display merited.

He stretched like a languid cat to foil Toral’s low header aimed into the corner, tipped over Craig’s header, acrobatically pushed Judge’s curling free kick over the bar and best of all, made a save from Toumani’s carefully sidefooted volley that defied gravity and belief.

It was a goal all the way until the keeper somehow stuck out a strong left hand to save his team.

David Button was a virtual spectator, but showed his sharpness when he plunged to his left to deny the dangerous Rodallega, who should have buried a close range header when set up by his partner Ross McCormack.

Games at this level are settled by such narrow margins, as for all their domination and effervescent, mesmerising football, Brentford could actually have come in at the break trailing, despite having played perhaps their best forty-five minutes of the season.

Football is such a strange game sometimes!

Andre Gray had led the lumbering giant Dan Burn a merry dance and he escaped his attentions yet again before being foiled by the keeper who smothered his close range poke.

Button too was called into action as Fulham finally roused themselves from their apparent deep slumber and made a sharp save to deny Rodallega.

But the Colombian would not be denied, and just before the hour, Brentford’s well oiled machine developed a kink in the engine as Dean’s short pass was intercepted by Williams, and ten seconds later the ball was in the Brentford net as McCormack easily set up Rodallega, the man over, who finished calmly and effectively.

ful1Their were many similarities to Norwich City’s first goal at Griffin Park in September, also donated by a generous home defence guilty of overplaying.

Tarkowski was the culprit on that occasion, Dean on this, but he simply rolled his sleeves up and determined to make amends, which he did in quite spectacular style.

As is normally the case, Mark Warburton’s substitutions revitalised us.

Jota and Dallas gave us fresh legs and renewed impetus, and Proschwitz finally looked the part when he replaced the exhausted Gray.

We survived a difficult fifteen minute spell when we dropped too deep as Fulham gained in belief, and surely thought that they were on the way to a smash and grab victory that would have been totally against the run of play.

We recovered, found a second wind and started to play our football again.

There was space on the flanks where Pritchard, Jota and Dallas tormented their defenders and Odubajo and Bidwell were tireless in their overlapping support.

The Fulham defence creaked but the door remained firmly shut until Dean took charge.

He picked the ball up near halfway, saw no obvious pass, and, like a modern day Beckenbauer, strode majestically into the Fulham half.

He found Dallas on the left wing who performed miracles to hold off three straining defenders and conjure up a low cross from the touchline when the ball seemed destined to go out of play.

Parker stretched to clear, but the ball fell to Dean near the edge of the area, who leaned back and struck a glorious right foot volley beyond Bettinelli and the helpless defender covering on the line.

The net bulged and Griffin Park erupted.

Game on, and a shell shocked Fulham did not know whether to stick or twist and got caught between two stools as they did neither.

They forced another sharp save from the excellent Button but were caught upfield in injury time when Judge bounced the ball off his head like a performing seal, shook off a tired challenge, turned and pinged yet another perfect fifty yard pass straight out to Jota stationed on the right wing.

His control was instantaneous and perfect, he cut inside his defender and there was only one thing on his mind.

His shot from just outside the penalty area was hard and well directed and kissed the outstretched and seemingly beseeching arm of Burn diving in a vain effort to block the shot, and the deflection took the ball into the corner of the net.

Cue disbelief and wild celebrations as the roof came off Griffin Park.

Fulham had a muted penalty shout ignored by the excellent David Coote, who officiated calmly and without fuss, and Proschwitz and Jota both forced sharp saves from Bettinelli as the Bees comfortably played out the remaining minutes of added time.

The whistle went to roars of appreciation as the players, management and fans were united as one in celebration of a famous and merited victory.

It is now time for everyone to believe and accept that we are quickly developing into an excellent team, with players who possess skill, pace, verve and confidence.

The balance of power is shifting in West London.

The Bees are on the rise!

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2 thoughts on “Bees Up! – Fulham Down! – 22/11/14

  1. Congrats on the blog very good reading! You may recall we met once at the Griffin on one of my many visits to see the Bees. I am NW USA Bee on the GP vine. Was over for the Derby game though wish I was there last night. Back in Feb for Bournemouth and black pool Best Jim

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • Lovely to hear from you Jim and I remember you very well.

      Just seen you being interviewed on the 125th anniversary video too!

      I hope my blogs help keep you in touch.

      Let me know when you are over in Feb and maybe we can have a drink in the Griffin.

      Best

      Greville

      Like

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