News broke yesterday that an agreement has finally been signed with developers Willmott Dixon to deliver the new Lionel Road stadium and its associated facilities, as well as to convert Griffin Park into a residential development once the new stadium is completed.
The clock is now ticking as we prepare for the eventual move from Griffin Park, our spiritual home since 1904, and the scene of so many milestones, triumphs and disasters in the club’s long and chequered history.
This is wonderful news that is also tinged with sadness.
We all know that progress is inevitable and that we have outgrown Griffin Park and its dilapidated facilities.
We need the room to accommodate the new wave of supporters that cannot fit into Griffin Park, and we have been hamstrung by the lack of corporate facilities which has resulted in our commercial revenue being seriously restricted.
Lionel Road, once completed, will ideally be the answer to all our hopes and dreams and, most crucially, we are rapidly developing a team whose marvellous, incisive football is so successful, attractive and easy on the eye that it could well enable us to fill it to its twenty thousand capacity.
That is for the future and, for the time being, Griffin Park remains the present.
I have been going there for far more years than I really care to remember – in fact next March it will be fifty years since my Dad took me there for the first time to see us thrash Queens Park Rangers by five goals to two.
Given that I have been watching Brentford regularly since 1966, save for three years spent in New York, when even then I managed a couple of visits per season, I would estimate that I have been to well over one thousand matches at Griffin Park, and the ground has played an integral and important part in my life.
Even the journey has become part of the ritual.
Should I chance taking the North Circular to Hangar Lane and risk getting snarled up in traffic chaos around Brent Cross or Park Royal?
Would it be better to take the back doubles through Willesden and Acton?
Much less direct but generally free from congestion until the inevitable and dreaded log-jam in Tubbs Road near Willesden Junction.
Swings and roundabouts, as on a good day I can get to the ground in twenty-five minutes, but on a bad one, the journey can seem interminable.
Even coming home can be fraught with peril particularly when Transport for London arbitrarily decides to close the Brent Cross flyover without the courtesy of providing any advance notice to us unsuspecting drivers.
There is nothing worse or more annoying and frustrating than getting caught in an unexpected traffic jam at ten o’clock at night, particularly after a home defeat.
Even when I get there I still have to decide where to park.
There was a time when I could roll up with impunity at a quarter to three and find a space without any trouble within sight of the turnstiles.
Now, with five figure sold out crowds the rule rather than the exception, you need to arrive a good hour and a half before kickoff if you expect to park in the same postcode as the ground.
And no, I am not going to let slip where I still generally manage to find a convenient parking spot before most matches.
Do your own research!
I never fail to get an anticipatory feeling of excitement whenever I turn the corner into Braemar Road.
Going to Griffin Park is just like being back at home.
I feel safe and happy there and it has become a major part of the fabric of my life.
I have laughed and cried there, smiled and frowned, cheered and jeered, made long-lasting friendships, vowed never to return and yet found myself steering a path back there a fortnight later.
Griffin Park is seared into my soul, as are the memories, sweet and sour, of matches long since passed, of players good, bad, indifferent, and now, maybe even great!
I have calculated that over the course of the past forty-nine years I have spent over one hundred days of my life in and around the stadium, firstly anticipating the match about to begin, then moaning, groaning, criticising, encouraging, celebrating and commiserating during the course of every match and finally rejoicing or mourning on the walk back to the car, a mere skip and a jump away when celebrating victory, an interminable trudge following a defeat.
This article is about the stadium itself rather than simply supporting the club, and yet the two are inextricably intertwined.
For a few unfortunate years a decade or so ago, I was inveigled into buying two season tickets for Arsenal as a means of entertaining some clients and contacts of mine.
God forbid that I tried to entice them into attending a match at Griffin Park, the Bees were then in the nether regions of the Third Division and it was a hard, if not impossible task to sweet talk business contacts into watching them.
To be candid, I also wanted my company to be seen as a Premier League outfit rather than as a third rater.
Given the vagaries of the Premier League fixture list there were surprisingly few fixture clashes between the two clubs, as they existed in totally different stratospheres, and I was rarely faced with the difficult decision about whether to watch Arsenal or Brentford.
I enjoyed visiting both Highbury and The Emirates Stadium as there was always a sense of occasion, and the lush, padded leather seats at Highbury found great favour with my son, but the atmosphere at both grounds was always sterile and could not compare in any shape or form with the febrile excitement of a packed Griffin Park.
Whilst I wanted Arsenal to win, in truth I didn’t really care about the result, matches never stirred my emotion as they did and still do at Griffin Park, and I certainly never lost any sleep or gave a second thought should they lose, something that has happened on many occasions after a Brentford catastrophe.
Over the years I have changed my allegiance from D Block in Braemar Road, to the Paddock, to Ealing Road, then to New Road and finally back to Braemar Road.
Each area has its own individual characteristic and identity however I made my decision to return to where I started given it provides the best and most complete overall view of the pitch, has the Programme Shop close to hand and enables me to kibitz and gossip with all and sundry.
There is and will be far more to say about Griffin Park over the coming months and even years as the clock runs down, and in the meantime I shall relish what time we have left at this iconic edifice as when Griffin Park dies, so will die a small part of me, as I am sure it will for most of you too.
I would just like to wish Brentford fans and their families a very happy, healthy and successful festive season and New Year and thanks again to all of you for reading my blog.
I have been bowled over by the numbers of you who have taken the time and trouble to do so as well as by the generosity of your comments.
PS Just to reassure everybody, since publishing this article I have received the following tweet from Brentford Chairman Cliff Crown which will help put every supporters’ minds at rest and allay their fears:
@grevwaterman Great article full of warmth and good feelings – we will do everything we can to make Lionel Road as rewarding an experience