Day Off! – 23/11/14

flsWhat a lovely, peaceful and satisfying day I had yesterday.

After long lie in to sleep off the excess celebrations from the night before,  I woke up with a smile on my face as I realised that the incredible and momentous events of Friday night had really happened and weren’t merely a dream.

In fact the reality was far better and more satisfying than anything I could have ever dared hope for.

Brentford had beaten their old enemy in the most satisfying of circumstances and sent them scurrying back to SW6 whining and moaning with their tail firmly between their legs.

Even more than that, Brentford had risen to the challenge and massive expectations of their fans and put on a performance that will live long in the memory, one that must also have thrilled, surprised and amazed everyone watching the live broadcast of the local derby on Sky Sports.

The days of us crumbling and choking on the big occasion seem firmly behind us and the team seemed to relish the challenge and enjoy the opportunity to strut their stuff before a national audience.

I have to confess that I watched the entire programme twice, once when I came in late on Friday night, and again, just to check that it wasn’t a figment of my imagination, on Saturday morning.

I was right the first time, we really had put on a notable performance that had even the hardened Sky pundits waking up and taking notice and appreciating our style, approach and quality.

Griffin Park, too, looked at its best, resplendent and sparkling in the glare of the floodlights and the scene was set for a magnificent game of football where the presumed underdogs and no-hopers seized the initiative from the off and blooded the nose of their illustrious and wealthy opponents.

I am not going to rehash my match report as I wrote that yesterday, but suffice to say that I was suffused with pride watching the events unroll on-screen yet again.

How Ross McCormack, danger that he was, could have been named as Man of the Match was a decision so ludicrous that I simply laughed in disbelief.

Was I being paranoid or was this simply more evidence of media bias against Brentford?

The fact that the studio pundit, Billy McKinlay, was a former Fulham coach might have had something to do with it, but if a Fulham player had to be chosen, then the blindingly obvious candidate was their goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, the elastic man, whose series of wonderful saves kept the Cottagers in the game and almost led to them pulling off a totally unmerited victory against the odds.

Perhaps they had simply been unable to pick out one Brentford player when in truth all fourteen shone equally on the night?

Whatever the circumstances, the choice of McCormack highlighted the danger of making such a decision well before the end of the game, as I firmly believe that the Man of the Match had been selected at a time when Fulham were still winning the game.

I take my hat off to Ross who was magnanimous when interviewed after the game, looked fairly sheepish and embarrassed when accepting his award and conceded that Brentford had been by far the better team and fully deserved their victory.

The Daily Mail published a full and effusive report on their website but otherwise our achievement went largely unnoticed in yesterday’s media.

Good, let’s stay under the radar for as long as we can!

A long day now stretched in front of me without the normal stresses and concerns of a Saturday in the football season.

The Bees had more than done their stuff, the pressure was off and I could simply relax, smug in the knowledge that whatever happened we were certain to end the day still firmly ensconced in the Playoff zone.

I watched the Huddersfield versus Sheffield Wednesday no-score bore draw at lunchtime and whilst you have to make allowance for the passion of a local derby, there was so little quality on display from either team, and the Bees looked light years ahead of  both of them on the evidence of that game.

I awaited the other results with keen interest but felt totally confused and conflicted.

Should I be looking at the teams at the top or bottom of the league?

Did I want Derby or Blackpool to lose?

With the innate caution and pessimism ingrained in a Brentford supporter of long standing, I was first drawn to the relegation zone and noticed with relief and satisfaction that we are now thirteen points above Rotherham who sit uneasily in twenty-second place.

Can they make up the gap on us, are we going to be OK and avoid the dog fight at the bottom of the league?

Panicky thoughts such as these flashed through my mind until I took a deep breath and began to analyse the situation more objectively.

We have now played eighteen of our twenty-three opponents, and yes, we are likely to find it harder when we play everybody for the second time, as forewarned is forearmed but a cataclysmic collapse like the one we experienced back in 1993 just isn’t going to happen again.

AM:PS2We really do have so much more quality and are so much better equipped for the gruelling demands of the Championship both on the pitch and behind the scenes.

That is not to say that we will not experience some good hidings between now and the end of the season given the calibre of some of the opposition and players who will be facing us.

I finally accepted that in reality there really isn’t too much for us to worry about and allowed my eyes to rise and examine the top of the Championship table.

There we were, sitting proudly in fifth place, and long may that situation remain.

Who knows where we will end up as we are on a magical and momentous journey which will end, we know not where, but it is great fun to be part of it.

And given what most of us have been through over the years supporting our beloved Brentford, the disappointments, the raised hopes and shattered dreams, I really do not think many people would deny that it is about time that we had our time in the sun.

It is OUR turn now.

Mark Warburton turned up as a guest on the Football League Show last night.

In his calm, understated manner he talked total sense, gave credit where it was due and his sharp analysis contrasted with the bumbling inanities and cliches spouted by the ineffable Steve Claridge who he totally outshone.

Mark advised caution and hoped that we would remain out of the spotlight for as long as possible.

Most of me hopes that he is right but I really feel that the cat is out of the bag as is evidenced by this comment from Sam Lewis’s match report in today’s Football League Paper:

While rivals Fulham were parading themselves in the Premier League and playing in a European final, envious Brentford were pottering around in the bowels of the Football League in a half-empty stadium.

How the tide of the Thames has turned in West London.

It’s taken sixteen years for the clubs to collide in the league, but what is it they say about good things coming to those who wait?

Brentford are flying high in the play-off places.

Their new stadium is coming and if they keep this up, so are United, City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

How I wish I had written those wonderful words.

Just to cap a perfect day, the phone rang at about seven o’clock and it was Paul Shrubb ringing to say what a fantastic time he had had at the match, how welcome he had been made to feel and how incredible it was to walk onto the Griffin Park pitch once more to receive the acclaim of the Brentford supporters.

Days don’t really come much better than this.

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