I posed a question recently after Mark Warburton was named as Manager of the Month for November.
I asked if anyone could list all the Brentford managers who had previously won this award.
I received a few replies, and many thanks to everyone who responded, but I am afraid that nobody came anywhere near providing a comprehensive list.
To be honest, at the time I set the task, I really had no idea myself of what the correct answer was, so I had to do my own research as well.
Wikipedia was of no help in this instance so I consulted the oracle, Mark Croxford, co-author and inspiration of the Big Brentford Book series.
Mark has unparalleled records of everything that has happened both on and off the field in and around Griffin Park for the past forty-five years.
Nothing, however seemingly inconsequential, escapes his eagle-eyed attention and everything is recorded for posterity – or indeed, the next Big Brentford Book.
Mark received my request with total equanimity, he is always totally calm and unflappable, traits that I do not share as I crack at the first sign of pressure.
Within the hour an email slithered into my inbox with the answer, and I was totally amazed at what I read.
Before letting the cat out of the bag I will simply ask the following question:
How many times have Brentford managers won the coveted Manager of the Month Award?
Five, eight, twelve, Fifteen times, perhaps?
Mark Warburton’s selection in November was the twenty-second time that a Brentford manager has won this coveted award.
Frank Blunstone won twice, both times during the momentous 1971/72 promotion season, in September 1971 and again in March 1972.
September saw Brentford win three out of five matches and hammer Hartlepool and Peterborough at Griffin Park with eleven goals scored in two memorable home games, and March included a promotion clinching run of five consecutive victories inspired by the return of John O’Mara from his harsh five week ban.
His efforts were recognised in April when, with Roger Cross and Micky French scoring eight goals between them, the Bees won four times to finish in an excellent eighth place in the league table.
Bill Dodgin’s team played wonderful football throughout the 1977/78 season which was deservedly rewarded with promotion and what is surprising is that he only won the Manager of the Month award once, but there again, Watford, under their own inspiration, Graham Taylor, finished eleven points clear at the top of the table!
Over a decade was to pass until a Brentford manager again caught the eye of the selection panel and the reigns of Fred Callaghan and Frank McLintock passed without reward, as, unsurprisingly did that of Mike Everitt in the early seventies!
Callaghan might have gone close in his first month in charge, April 1980 when his new team went on an undefeated run of four matches before results deteriorated but even in his most memorable season of 1982/83 when his team scored eighty-eight league goals, the results were far too inconsistent for him to have come into serious contention for the award.
The mid-eighties were a time of mediocrity when an average team played unmemorable football in front of poor attendances, and apathy ruled.
Momentum was restored under Steve Perryman, who was the next Brentford manager to win the award in January 1989.
This was a wonderful month which saw seven matches pass undefeated and Walsall and Manchester City defeated in the FA Cup.
I will pause for a moment now and ask the question, which Brentford manager has won the Manager of the Month award the most times?
Given where I have got to in my narrative I suspect that most of you will have guessed that the correct answer is Phil Holder, but what is even more praiseworthy is that he won the award four times in his three seasons in charge.
Phil Holder first won the award in December 1990 when an unbeaten run of five matches saw Brentford begin their challenge for the Playoffs.
Brentford fell for the first time in the Playoffs that season but the following season saw the Third Division title won and Holder’s magnificent achievement was recognised twice, in November 1991 and in April 1992.
November saw a cagy draw against fellow promotion aspirants, Birmingham City, a four goal hammering of a poor Wigan team and the amazing come from behind recovery from a two goal halftime deficit to beat a John Williams, “the Flying Postman”, inspired Swansea.
April saw a procession of five victories including the unforgettable mauling of Fulham as an inspired Brentford team totally delivered at the business end of the season and strode triumphantly towards the title.
Holder’s overall managerial record at the club was highly impressive as he won fifty-nine out of one hundred and thirty-eight league matches over three seasons. There were many other factors than poor management that caused our relegation in 1993 and his achievements merit massive credit.
Indeed Holder even won the Manager of the Month award in our relegation season, in December 1992, when the Bees went undefeated for five matches and ended the year in a comfortable mid table position, looking upwards towards the top of the league rather than down towards the bottom.
Unfortunately our optimism was to be misplaced given how the season ended.
Holder’s successor, David Webb won the award twice, in January 1995 and in August 1996.
Both seasons were to end in Playoff disappointment, but January 1995 was capped with a scintillating six-nil thrashing of Cambridge United, which saw all the goals scored in the last twenty-five minutes as the opposition, down to ten men after ex-Bee, Billy Manuel saw red, finally capitulated.
August 1996 was a time of renewed optimism as our new front four of Nicky Forster, Carl Asaba, Bob Taylor and Marcus Bent threatened to steamroller the opposition, and the month ended with Carl Asaba scoring the club’s fastest ever hat-trick in eight minutes at Shrewsbury.
Unfortunately, the season turned sour after the sale of Nicky Forster and we limped into the Playoffs and a Wembley embarrassment by Crewe Alexandra.
1997/98 was a horrible season marked by fan disaffection and revolt, the exodus of our best players and a fully justified relegation to the bottom division.
Amazingly, new manager Micky Adams, replacing the doomed Eddie May won the award in March 1998 when he inspired his strugglers to three wins and an undefeated five match run.
1998/99 saw an immediate promotion and the appointment of multitasking Owner/Chairman/Manager Ron Noades whose arrival was generally welcomed given the that truth of his “investment” in the club had not yet emerged.
He won the award in August 1998, one of the few times when a manager won the award in his first ever month as a Football League manager, a feat, of course, matched by Mark Warburton in December 2013, as well as by a more unexpected name in Wally Downes.
Noades and his support team built a vibrant young team packed full of hungry, young, talented players from Non-League and promotion and the title was won in a canter.
Steve Coppell came within a hairsbreadth of leading Brentford to promotion in his one season in charge and he won the award in October 2001, a month of breathtaking achievement when the Bees won all five matches, including wonderful away wins at the two eventually promoted teams, Brighton and Reading.
Wally Downes inherited a sinking ship, a team bereft of its best players who left the club after Playoff defeat to Cardiff and with no money to play with.
Despite these handicaps, it all started so well for him and he won the award in August 2002 when he motivated a team of kids, loanees and journeymen to a six match unbeaten run.
Unfortunately there was only one way for him to go from such a wonderful start and he never threatened to win the award again.
Martin Allen’s arrival undoubtedly saved the club from another relegation and he led the club to two marvellous FA Cup runs to the fifth round and two unsuccessful Playoff campaigns.
He won two Manager of the Month awards in September 2004, after three wins and a draw, and February 2006 which saw a thrashing of Paul Merson’s sleepwalking Walsall team and an excellent win over league leaders, Southend.
Andy Scott turned the club around after the disasters of the Leroy Rosenior, Scott Fitzgerald and Terry Butcher eras and led the Bees to the title in 2009.
His achievements were recognised in April 2009, a month in which the title was finally won.
That leads us onto the reigns of Uwe Rosler and the current incumbent, Mark Warburton.
Uwe won the award in November 2013, which saw five consecutive victories and after his unexpected departure to Wigan, Mark Warburton simply took over the mantle and
ensured that the award remained at Griffin Park as he oversaw four wins in December 2013.
Phil Holder has set the bar extremely high with four awards, can Mark Warburton equal or even surpass him?
All will be revealed over the coming months and years but I fully expect that he will eventually achieve this momentous feat.
One final thought.
What a shame that such an award was not in existence during Harry Curtis’s long and successful reign at the club.
He would surely have set new records for the number of times a manager received this award!