The Manager of the Month Curse – True or False? – 18/12/14

kevin-deardenIt is difficult to describe exactly how you feel when you have finished writing a new blog.

Sometimes – very rarely – you read it back and think that maybe you’ve nailed it and produced a well-argued, decently written piece that will stimulate a lot of interest and debate and perhaps looked at a situation from a fresh angle or perspective.

On other occasions there is more a sense of relief that you have actually managed to get your thoughts down on paper in a reasonably coherent and cohesive manner and, most importantly, that the pressure is off, and you don’t have to repeat the process for another day or two.

Very often, like this morning, totally bereft of ideas, you stare at a blank computer screen that stares back balefully at you, vainly seeking help and looking for inspiration.

In all honesty I really enjoy writing as the blog provides me with an outlet to talk about an overwhelming and all-encompassing passion in my life – namely Brentford FC.

I very much hope that people enjoy reading them and keep coming back for more, but, frankly the blog is simply a process of catharsis for me.

It’s great when I receive comments and suggestions and I welcome any feedback that I get.

A couple of days ago, for example, with the help of Mark Croxford’s in-depth research, I provided a list and further details of the twenty-two occasions that a Brentford manager had won the Manager of the Month award over the past forty years or so.

I gave a sigh of relief as I finished the article.

Another topic covered, another box ticked.

On to the next one, whatever that might turn out to be.

Job well done?

I certainly thought so, but I should have known better!

SavvyBee posted an immediate comments that got the brain cells whirring yet again as I realised that I had missed an obvious trick:

And of course the real statistic we want to know is how many times did we lose the next game after the Manager of the Month was awarded?

Your wish is my command SavvyBee and I have now done the necessary research and the results are quite surprising as well as illuminating.

I have pored through the records and in each case looked out for the next league match in the month immediately after the award was made.

This seemed the most sensible thing to do.

Although in a few cases it might well have been that the next match was a cup game, in my opinion it is the league that counts the most and that is what I have concentrated on.

So here we go!

Frank Blunstone won the award twice, firstly in September 1971, when he celebrated with an unforgettable six-one thrashing of Northampton Town.

This was a strange match.

The prolific Dixie McNeil, a wonderful lower division striker, scored after just thirty-eight seconds, and with Peter Gelson limping on the wing, the Bees were struggling.

Gelson it was who epitomised the team spirit by ignoring the pain to head home an equaliser before the interval and the Bees then ran away with it and scored five more times with our own goal machine, John O’Mara, notching a hat-trick.

The news wasn’t so good after Frank’s next award in March 1972 as the Bees put in an inept display at bottom of the table Crewe Alexandra and lost by two goals to one with O’Mara withdrawn at half-time, after what was reported to be a monumental row in the dressing room which ended with the manager being pinned to the wall.

Truth or apocryphal – who knows?

Fortunately this defeat proved merely to be a blip and the Bees marched onto promotion.

John Docherty won the award in April 1975 and there were no fixtures remaining, but the first game of the following season in August resulted in a hard fought one-one draw at Bradford City where the Bees unveiled a new all-green away kit that didn’t last long.

Bill Dodgin celebrated his award in March 1978 with a comprehensive three-one win at Huddersfield where Steve Phillips scored a hat-trick which helped cement his award as Evening Standard Player of the Month soon afterwards.

Brentford played out a drab nil-nil draw at Gillingham immediately after Steve Perryman won the award in January 1989 and Shrewsbury were put to the sword by three clear goals in the first game after Phil Holder won in December 1990.

He then won the award twice in the 1991/92 title winning season and the matches following his awards in November 1991 and April 1992 were both memorable for different reasons.

We drew one-all at Torquay in a tempestuous match marked by Gary Blissett’s aerial collision with home defender John Uzzell which caused him to incur serious facial injuries and ended in a red card and subsequent court case.

Marcus Gayle also saw red, but the nine men escaped with a draw in a horrid game which is probably best forgotten.

Brentford played one match only in May 1992 and that was the title clinching victory at Peterborough.

There has been so much written about this game and there is really very little to add.

My own memory is of having to buy a ticket in the home end, failing to keep my allegiance quiet and revealing my identity as a Bees fan when Blissett scored the only goal right in front of me. I feared verbal abuse or even worse, but all was well as the home fans were appeased by their also reaching the playoffs and I escaped relatively unscathed.

Phil Holder’s celebrations for winning the Manager of the Month award for a club record fourth time were cut short when Brian Statham was sent off and Brentford’s rigid and neanderthal route one approach was totally exposed by a Leicester City team which cruised to a three-one victory and put the first doubts about our survival prospects into our minds..

David Webb drew one-all at Brighton following his first award in January 1995. We were under the cosh but it looked like we would bring off a smash and grab victory until we were denied by a Jamie Bates own goal and a ridiculous decision to disallow a last minute header from Barry Ashby.

Nearly twenty years on I am still bemused by the decision.

The Bees won by two goals at Chesterfield in September 1996 in a match marked by a rare Kevin Dearden penalty save.

All Brentford fans will be really saddened by the news that Kevin has just resigned after seven years as goalkeeper coach and chief scout at Leyton Orient, apparently for “personal reasons”.

The club, under new Italian ownership, seems to be in turmoil and Kevin looks as if he is just another victim of all the upheaval.

I wish him well and hope that Kevin, with his massive experience allied to his cheerful and sunny disposition, finds a new  employer very soon.

Micky Adams led his relegation-bound team to a surprising two-two draw at Wrexham  and the Bees won a thriller by the odd goal in five at Hull, helped by an horrendous error by home keeper Steve Wilson, to ensure that Ron Noades also went undefeated after his award in August 1998.

Steve Coppell went one better after winning the award in October 2001 as Blackpool were beaten in the next match, Brentford’s seventh successive league win, equalling a club record.

As you can see, the so-called curse of the Manager of the Month award has rarely reared its ugly head at Griffn Park, and even Wally Downes led his inexperienced team to a draw against Luton.

Martin Allen won both of his matches immediately after winning his two awards and Andy Scott also celebrated with a win and a draw.

Uwe Rősler didn’t even put the curse to the test as he left the club immediately after his award was announced but Warbs managed to beat Oldham anyway in his first match in charge.

Mark Warburton won the award in his own right in December 2013 which was followed by an epic performance at Peterborough where we totally outclassed the home team.

Only two previous Brentford managers, Frank Blunstone and Phil Holder had ever lost their next match after winning the Manager of the Month award until Mark Warburton added to that unfortunate list by losing narrowly and unluckily at Huddersfield, ending a run of five consecutive victories.

But three out of twenty-two isn’t bad, so as far as Brentford is concerned the Manager of the Month curse barely exists, and roll on our next award!


10 thoughts on “The Manager of the Month Curse – True or False? – 18/12/14

  1. Great read and surprising. Loved the mention of the 1-1 draw at Plainmoor. Our boys were magnificent that day. With Bliss’s connections to us still I do wish I still had the Black Sweatshirt my daughter had made for me pronouncing in large letters GARY BLISSETT IS INNOCENT, which of course he was. Thanks for the memories.


  2. Great research with some surprising results.

    Back in the early days of the award, the sponsors were Bell’s Whiskey and the manager received a gallon of whiskey as well as a handful of miniature bottles. Perhaps that might explain why the next game was often lost and the so-called curse originated!


  3. Thanks Greville, I really appreciate the effort you’ve put in. So only three losses and two of those away from home! May we win many more Manager of the Month awards!


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