Hall Of Fame – 25/11/14

bookerBrentford’s 125th Anniversary Dinner last week saw another welcome milestone when five former players were inducted into the Brentford FC Hall of Fame.

Bob Booker, Peter Gelson, Keith Millen, Alan Nelmes and Danis Salman are all true Brentford legends and are worthy and deserving additions to an elite club.

With their arrival there are now fifteen members of the Hall of Fame and I would like you all now to try and see how many of the other ten inductees you can remember.

In order to give you sufficient time to allow you to search the recesses of your memory so that you can work out their identity, I will reminisce for a moment about the five new inductees.

Bob Booker simply epitomises everything that is good about Brentford and what the club represents.

Never the most gifted player in the world, he made the most of what he had, gave everything to the cause, never caused a moment’s trouble – except to the opposition, and played in every position apart from goal.

He scored an unforgettable hat trick against Hull City and I also remember an accomplished display as an emergency centre half against Fulham.

His never say die approach endeared him to supporters and he overcame a career threatening knee injury to revitalise his career and earn a transfer to Sheffield United where he also became a club legend and First Division regular.

gelsonWho else can recall the excitement when the news was leaked in November 1991 that the Bees were on the verge of signing a First Division star – and after much speculation it was Bob who eventually materialised for a final spell at Griffin Park, but we forgave him everything!

Peter Gelson was a loyal one-club man who served the Bees with dignity and pride for more than a decade and played well over five hundred games, second only to Ken Coote, as a rugged and reliable centre half.

He was not the tallest of defenders but timed his leaps perfectly and won everything in the air and was a seemingly impassable barrier, except against his nemesis, Jack Howarth who always gave him the runaround and once scored an awesome hat trick of headers for Aldershot at Griffin Park.

Peter remarkably scored twice with punts from inside his own half of the field, and less memorably, hit a late and potentially match saving penalty kick against Aldershot onto the inside of the roof of the old Brook Road terrace and caused the occupants of the Royal Oak End to be showered with years of accumulated rust.

Then, just to add insult to injury, Aldershot broke away following the goal kick, and scored a match clinching fourth goal.

millenPeter remains a season ticket holder at the club and he can be seen at every match in Braemar Road where he is rightly treated with the affection, awe and respect accorded to a true Brentford icon.

Keith Millen played against Wigan at Wembley as an eighteen year old teenage prodigy and developed into a consistent and gifted centre half who formed outstanding defensive partnerships with both Terry Evans and Jamie Bates, and Brentford were so fortunate to have three such talented defenders to choose from.

He simply got on with his job calmly and efficiently and read the game so well that danger was generally snuffed out before any damage was done.

It was a disappointment to all supporters when he fell out with David Webb and, after flirting with a possible move to Spurs which never finally came to fruition, he was transferred, when still in his prime, to Watford where he also flourished.

Alan Nelmes took time to settle down to the rigours of league football after he joined Brentford in 1967 from Chelsea but he grew into the role and became a quick and underrated defender who proved to be the perfect foil to Peter Gelson.

NelmesHe scored only two goals for Brentford, once when playing as an emergency centre forward at Notts County, the other, a last minute winner from a corner against Scunthorpe at Griffin Park after he lost his marker, Kevin Keegan, who was ball watching.

Unfortunately he was more deadly at the other end of the pitch and signed off with a trademark own goal, a real beauty, in his testimonial match against Chelsea in 1978.

Danis Salman made his Brentford debut against Watford at the age of fifteen years, eight months and three days and 248 days and still holds the record as the Club’s youngest ever Football League player.

Danny was tall, quick and strong and played at right back or centre half and was an ever present danger when he overlapped down the right flank.

salmanHe also scored one of the softest and most bizarre goals I have ever seen when his weak thirty yarder somehow spun through keeper Nigel Batch’s hands and legs and barely had the pace to cross the goal line, but it was enough to gift us a victory over Grimsby.

He spent eleven years at the club and made three hundred and seventy-one appearances before joining Millwall.

I always felt that Danny rather missed the boat and stayed with us a bit too long as, with his ability, he could and should have played at a far higher level.

All five were wonderful players and are also real gentlemen who remember their time at the club with pleasure and pride.

Anyway, it is now time to discover how many of the other ten members of the Brentford FC Hall of Fame you have managed to remember.

70sThey are as follows:

  1. Malcolm MacDonald
  2. Dai Hopkins
  3. Joe James
  4. Phil Holder
  5. Dean Holdsworth
  6. Jackie Graham
  7. Alan Hawley
  8. Bobby Ross
  9. George Francis
  10. Terry Evans

Did any of you get all ten names correct?

I doubt it, I certainly didn’t.

Worthy though they all are of their places in this august gathering.

I spoke yesterday to the club’s Deputy Head of Media and Communications, Mark Chapman, about the Hall of Fame and remarked that there were some obvious omissions from the current list of former players and managers already honoured.

Mark stated that he was well aware of this but that it was the club’s policy to first honour players who were still alive and, in that regard, it is likely that there will be another name announced very shortly who will be a very popular and deserving addition to the Hall of Fame.

Exciting news indeed!

That is not to say that the prewar giants and others who are sadly no longer with us, such as Jack Holliday, Jim Towers and of course, Harry Curtis, have been forgotten, and Mark assured me that their time will definitely come, once the most appropriate and fitting way to celebrate their memory has been decided upon.

Hopefully once Lionel Road is completed there will also be a space reserved in a club museum to pay suitable homage to the wonderful achievements of our former greats.

Thanks to Mark, who with his knowledge, passion and respect for the past is a totally appropriate custodian for the Hall of Fame.

So, in the meantime I can going to set all my readers an immediate task.

Please can you let me know who, in your opinion, out of our past heroes and inspirations do you think most deserves election into the Brentford FC Hall of Fame?

I await your nominations with bated breath and all suggestions will, of course, be passed onto Mark for consideration.


29 thoughts on “Hall Of Fame – 25/11/14

  1. Great article as always. Neil Smiley, Owusu, Deardon, Gayle, Blissit, Nicky Forster, Bobby Taylor, Jay Tabb, O’conner when he retires? What qualifies you to become part of the Hall of fame? I’m thinking that a lot of the current group could be in there in a few years…


  2. I have the pleasure of actually seeing every one of the current HoF legends – although I must admit I don’t really recall seeing Joe James as I was only about 5/6 when I first saw the team (against Arsenal in the old Division One!)

    As for new members – I’m surprised no-one has mentioned Kenny Coote – surely a MUST for the honour.


    • Thanks Larry, according to Mark Chapman, Ken Coote was also inducted, amongst a few others over 20 years ago but he was not on the list of 15 current Hall of Fame members provided on the BFC website.

      I would really hope that someone can clear up this situation.

      Exactly how many current members are there? Is it 15 or is it more?


  3. I suggest Jack Burns. He showed great wisdom in leaving QPR for an illustrious career with The Bees. He was also the headmaster when I and my there siblings attended St Mary’s RC, Acton Green. My young brother, Steve a current season ticket holder, remembers getting “six of the best” from Johnny ( as we knew him) after an altercation in the playground.



  4. Thanks Mike, I always wondered at the ability of some of the amateurs like Burns or say C B Fry to combine so many skills – polymaths all.

    I might well share you story on the blog tomorrow when I round up some of the comments I have received so far on this subject.


  5. By its very nature, such a list is going to be front-loaded towards recent players. There’s a diminishing number of people who have first-hand experience of watching Brentford as an adult in the 40s and 50s, let alone pre-war. For those players, we have to rely on statistics and contemporary reports. So how about the wonderfully named Oakey Field, whose goals helped Brentford on their path from the best team in and around Hounslow to one of the leading sides in London? The first Brentford superstar? Clearly a long way from being one of the best,, but the impact wss certain.


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