The Season Starts Here – 1/7/15

There has been a lot of recent speculation and concern amongst Brentford supporters about the future of some of our best young players and our ability to hang onto them, The rumours abound and continue to grow, linking David Button to Aston Villa, Moses Odubajo to Everton, Tarky to Fulham, Jota to Swansea and Leicester, Andre Gray to Hull or QPR and Stewart Dallas to Glasgow Rangers.

Despite all the rumours as of today only two players have left the club for other teams with misfit Nick Proschwitz returning to SC Paderborn 07 and promising defender Alfie Mawson joining Barnsley.

The trickle of transfers is now about to become a veritable torrent as we enter July, a time of the year when contracts have expired and players are free to move on to pastures anew. Speculation is rife as rumours abound in the press, on social media and message boards alike of moves actual and mooted, likely and ludicrous – football is back on the agenda with a vengeance, and we await the next ten months with relish, excitement and not a little foreboding too.

Yes, there certainly have been rumours about any number of our players leaving but that was ever the case. Remember two years ago when Harry Forrester and Simon Moore decided to move on, and last season when we lost star assets in Clayton Donaldson and Adam Forshaw?

That is simply the way of the game as players are led by the nose by rapacious agents who are programmed to sniff out more lucrative opportunities elsewhere and many is the time when players seem to be ruled by their bank balance rather than by their head.

It would be hard to make a strong case that any of the four aforementioned former Brentford favourites have made good footballing moves even though they have undoubtedly benefited financially and I suspect that deep down perhaps a couple of them regret their impetuosity in deciding to leave Griffin Park.

It is no use my bemoaning the situation, as one has simply to accept that the days of the loyal one-club heroes like Peter Gelson and Alan Hawley and indeed Kevin O’Connor are dwindling as players can now enjoy the benefits of freedom of contract and have little or no compunction in moving on a regular basis to the highest bidder.

Brentford are not high payers by Championship standards, and neither should they be, given that we are entering only our second season at this level after promotion from the third tier of the game and the club understandably prefers to incentivise players more through a generous bonus scheme that rewards players for actual achievement rather than for merely turning up.

It is therefore inevitable that until our revenue base grows exponentially with a combination of sustained success as well as the enhanced revenue streams emanating from our new stadium at Lionel Road, we will run the risk of losing players, perhaps even over the next few weeks, as richer clubs higher up the food chain jockey for position and attempt to divest their less fortunate brethren of their star assets.

If the predators do come sniffing around us then there are a few things that are certain:

  • They will be looking to sign one or more of our top players – the likes of Jota, Gray, Odubajo and Button rather than players sitting like wallflowers at the end of our bench
  • If a player really wants to leave because he and his representative believe that the grass is greener elsewhere, then in truth there is little that can be done to salvage the situation, even if the player is safely in contract
  • We are no longer a soft touch, encouraging external approaches and keen to sell our family heirlooms for a song and a fraction of their true worth as was the case for time immemorial. We will only sell on our own terms when we are ready to do so even if the player’s departure becomes inevitable, and we will extract top dollar for him
  • Whoever leaves us will be replaced by another promising player identified by our impressive team of analysts who are scouring the football world and crawling under rocks to discover new gems to ensure that we are continually able to replenish our squad

I look at the current situation as a backhanded compliment to us, as we now possess so many young talented players who are only going to improve and appreciate in value and I would far prefer that other clubs covet our assets and might even possibly succeed in spiriting some of them away, rather than our having a squad full of anonymous mediocrities and journeymen as has so often been the case in the past.

I remain firmly of the opinion that we are on our way to the Premier League, it is simply a question of when, rather than if we get there, however it might well be that for players of the calibre of Odubajo and Jota that incredible day might not come soon enough for their immediate ambitions to be fully realised and we might simply have to accept that the time might well come, sooner rather than later, when they decide to leave us.

At the other end of the spectrum there are several valuable and highly experienced squad players like Tony Craig, Sam Saunders and Alan McCormack who, given our recent progress, we have outgrown and whose time might well have come to move on to a new home where they can play every week, a privilege that is likely to be denied them if they remain at Brentford.

Players of that calibre and loyalty deserve better than to wither on the vine and should be treated with respect and allowed to find a new home where they can inspire a fresh generation of young players albeit at a lower level of the game.

Like time, football waits for no man and it might also be that several regulars from last season’s team also begin to feel the hot breath of fresh challengers for their shirt. Harlee Dean, Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga might be particularly vulnerable and Jake Bidwell might also benefit from having a new competitor breathing down his neck and fighting him for possession of his place.

One of the complaints justifiably levelled against Mark Warburton last season was his undoubted loyalty to his squad, and all eleven of those who started the first match of the season also featured in the squad for the final game over nine months later.

I anticipate a larger and deeper squad this season with more and tougher competition for places and increased squad rotation. With that will come the problem of keeping the non-playing members of the squad onside and this will be a massive task for the new coaching staff. We were a happy and tight-knit unit last season, a factor that contributed greatly to our success and we need to ensure that this positive state of affairs remains if we are to be successful over the coming months.

One of my great pleasures over previous years has been trying to work out who we were likely to sign, and very often it was possible by applying a bit of logic, a keen nose for clues and a reasonable knowledge of the UK football scene, to make a decent stab at guessing who was going to arrive. That is certainly no longer the case.

In those days, which now seem so distant, we were shopping in a totally different market, and given the way that we now operate and how our analysts interpret the data they receive from around the world, I suspect that new British players will be the exception rather than the rule.

This is a situation that I fully accept given that we need to be smarter and better informed than our richer competitors but it isn’t as much fun for me given that I had not previously heard of any of our new foreign imports!

We have already signed Akaki Gogia, a Georgian winger from the German lower leagues, Yoann Barbet, a highly promising left sided central defender from Chamois Niortais and, more familiarly, midfielder Ryan Williams from Morecambe.

Quite frankly I knew nothing at all bar what I researched online about the first two and as for Williams, who I have seen play, I see him as a decent each way bet as he has shown real skill on the ball throughout his career as well as the ability to put the ball on a sixpence from free kicks, whilst also demonstrating that his skills set is not best suited for the hustle and bustle of lower league football. Maybe he will make it with us, maybe not, but he is an inexpensive gamble well worth taking.

It is also likely that we will imminently be announcing the signings of giant Austrian box-to-box midfielder Konstantin Kerschbaumer and potential club record signing Danish international defender Andreas Bjelland who is expected to arrive from FC Twente in return for a fee of over two million pounds, a figure that quite frankly I still struggle to get my head around when talking about Brentford,

Of course we are now entering another stratosphere and if we have done our homework correctly then players of this ilk will be a massive upgrade on what we have seen previously. I hope also that they will all fit in off the field, engage with supporters and not merely prove to be mercenaries looking for another payday. We must not lose our sense of identity and community and we should ideally keep a solid British base to the team. This is also where the likes of Kevin O’Connor, who fully understands the history, heritage and tradition of Brentford FC and what it represents, will be truly crucial.

I am not complaining, far from it, as I welcome ambition, progress and evolution, traits were were sadly lacking for decades, but I also recognise that with them come potential problems and we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Given the intelligence and perspicacity of those running the club I doubt that I have anything to worry about, but I am a supporter and that is what fans do!

Interesting times ahead!
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Ahead Of The Game

For anyone interested in reading my take on everything that happened both on and off the pitch last season, as well as the odd diversion into nostalgia, player profiles and club history, leavened with some (hopefully) pertinent and amusing comments, my new book Ahead Of The Game is available now.

Here are the Links to where the book can be purchased:

Published 17 June 2015 | 978-1-910515-14-3 | 408 pages | Print and Kindle | £15.99, £8.99

Catching Up – And What Lies Ahead – 29/06/15

As some of you might have noticed, I have a taken a short break from my blog which has hopefully fulfilled the dual benefit of giving you all some respite from my ceaseless prattling and also enabled me to have a rest and ideally recharge my batteries in time for the new season.

So what’s been happening over the course of the past month or so in and around Brentford FC? Well, quite a lot actually, and the purpose of this article is simply to provide everyone with a quick update and catch-up as well as look forward to the excitement of the next few weeks as the players return for preseason training and the transfer market begins to hot up.

Given that our involvement in the playoffs meant that last season ended later than anticipated – but perhaps earlier than hoped – on 15th May, there has been a hive of activity at Griffin Park over the last six weeks or so. The new backroom team has now been assembled and is hard at work with Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen arriving after a successful spell in charge at Excelsior who he led to promotion, before, against all the odds, consolidating their position in the Eredivisie and gaining a excellent reputation for innovation, youth development and a determination to play good football despite limited resourses.

His achievements and approach certainly ticked all the boxes for Matthew Benham, as did his willingness to embrace the management structure and analytics based system that the Brentford owner intends to implement at the club, where the Head Coach has an important say, but no actual veto, on incoming players.

Fellow Dutchman Roy Hendriksen, a former playing colleague of Dijkhuizen, is the new Assistant Head Coach and it will be fascinating and illuminating as well as a little bit concerning, if truth be told, to see how well the players respond to their ideas, tactical innovation and man management skills after the overwhelming success and popularity of their predecessors, Mark Warburton and David Weir who presided over a totally united and motivated dressing room.

As for the Two W’s themselves, I wish them both nothing but success and good fortune for the future given how brilliantly they served us, but I have spent the last month since their departure worrying that their shadow would loom over us, particularly if they had decided, as at one time appeared a distinct possibility, to move on to another Championship team. Thankfully they are now both out of sight and out of mind, facing a massive new challenge over the border at Glasgow Rangers, and with respect to my feelings towards Mark and David, I can only echo the immortal blessing from Fiddler On The RoofMay God bless and keep the Tsar – far away from us.

Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles have come in to jobshare as Co-Directors of Football with responsibility for player recruitment and for ensuring that the runes are properly examined, fresh gems identified and polished and that there is a constant supply of new talent to enhance the strong squad already in situ at the club.

The final piece of the jigsaw saw the appointment last week of experienced coach Flemming Pedersen as Head of Football Philosophy and Player Development. He will assist in coaching the first team as well as being responsible for setting out Brentford’s football philosophy and structuring individual development plans for players. I assume he will be acting as a Technical Director and will liaise with coaches at all levels of the club, as well as the Academy Director, in order to ensure uniformity and that the same approach and style of football is employed throughout the club.

Only Brentford could actually use the word philosophy in a job title for a football coach and this just highlights that we are marching to our own drum and doing things rather differently to the rest of the football world – and long may that remain the case if we are to maintain or even expand our competitive advantage over clubs far less enlightened, ambitious, or forward seeking than ourselves.

The tabloid media in the shape of The Daily Mirror took a cheap shot at us in a puerile and superficial article that poked fun at us regarding Flemming’s unusual and original job title, but this is now par for the course.

Throughout the course of history, innovative and original thinkers across all spheres of activity have been universally mocked and ridiculed for propagating ideas and practices that break new ground and are outside the accepted rules and methodology. It is far easier and less taxing on the brain to make fun of something new rather than take the time, trouble and intellectual challenge of examining it, breaking it down into its component parts and then analysing and evaluating it in greater detail.

The mainstream football media is gunning for us and it is now open season on Brentford FC. There are many people both within the game and who also commentate upon it who would like nothing better than to see us fall flat on our backsides and speedily return from whence we came with our tail firmly between our legs. Those cocky little upstarts at Brentford need to be put back in their rightful place goes their thinking. Not only are they unwilling to take the time and trouble to get their head around the way in which we are now running and structuring the club, there is also a massive residue of sympathy remaining towards Mark Warburton given the outside perception of how unfairly he was rewarded by us despite being responsible for bringing so much unexpected success to the club.

Last season we were media darlings until Timesgate in February, but this year will almost certainly be different and we need to be prepared to batten down the hatches and await the onslaught and ideally defend our position. The best way to throw negative comments back from whence they came is simply by proving that they are inaccurate and erroneous and in that regard it would be enormously helpful if we are able to hit the ground running and get off to a fast start to the new season, clearly demonstrate that we remain on course for greater things, that our progress and development continues apace and that we are in the vanguard of a new era for football.

No pressure then on what is pretty much an entirely new team behind the first team. There is continuity in the welcome presence of Kevin O’Connor and Simon Royce with Lee Carsley remaining in charge of the Development Squad and thankfully there has been no news of any departures from amongst the valued ranks of our highly prized analysis, fitness and medical support staff.

Given the changes, it might well take a little while for things to gel, who knows, but given the quality of personnel that we possess and the level of planning that has gone into every major decision that we have taken, I remain fully confident about our prospects. In my next article I will take a look at the Brentford squad, examine the new arrivals, speculate on who might be coming or going and eagerly look forward to the exciting few weeks that lie ahead as we build our squad for the new season.


Ahead Of The Game

For anyone interested in reading my take on everything that happened both on and off the pitch last season, as well as the odd diversion into nostalgia, player profiles and club history, leavened with some (hopefully) pertinent and amusing comments, my new book Ahead Of The Game is available now.

Here are the Links to where the book can be purchased:

Published 17 June 2015 | 978-1-910515-14-3 | 408 pages | Print and Kindle | £15.99, £8.99

Stan Is Still The Man – 22/6/15

SBLike everybody else I was shocked and distressed to hear the sad news over the weekend that Stan Bowles has unfortunately developed a form of Alzheimer’s disease. There was a picture of Stan on his Facebook site celebrating Fathers’ Day and thankfully he looked to be in good spirits. It was good to see him with a smile on his face as he gave such pleasure to untold millions of football fans with his skill, joie de vivre and overall approach to life.

The term genius is thrown around with gay abandon and often applied to merely the very good rather than the rare one-offs and special ones, but nobody could ever quibble or complain at Stan being so described. He had a wonderful career that spanned the best part of twenty years and he played nearly six hundred games, testimony to the fact that he was not a luxury player who picked his games but he loved to play and was a tough competitor.

Immaturity, massive competition for places and some dodgy off-field connections cost Stan the opportunity of early stardom at Manchester City but he rehabilitated himself in the nether regions of the Football League at Crewe and Carlisle and whilst other teams dithered, Gordon Jago took the gamble and signed him for Queens Park Rangers  in September 1972 for what turned out to be a bargain fee of £110,000. Rodney Marsh had long been the idol of all QPR fans who had bemoaned his transfer, ironically to Manchester City, of all places, but Stan proved to be the perfect replacement and became an instant hero at Loftus Road and the hallowed number ten shirt soon had a worthy new owner.

Stan stayed seven years at QPR and was in his pomp during that period, but despite his ability and consistency and excellent goalscoring record he failed to convince successive England managers of his temperament and played only five times for his country – a terrible waste of talent and an indictment of the cautious and puritanical establishment running the game at the time who could not cope with free spirits like Stan. He joined fellow mavericks such as Frank Worthington, Alan Hudson, Charlie George, Peter Osgood and Tony Currie who were treated with suspicion and never fulfilled their undoubted ability at international level.

Stan was not the first footballer to fall out with the mercurial Tommy Docherty and was sold to Nottingham Forest – out of the frying pan, into the fire, where he also fell foul of Brian Clough, ruling himself out of playing in the 1980 European Cup Final. His career looked like it was drifting towards its conclusion when his next move to Leyton Orient left him treading water but he was revitalised and enjoyed one last hurrah when Fred Callaghan and Martin Lange persuaded him to join Brentford in October 1981 for what proved to be a giveaway £25,000 fee.

It was an inspirational move for the club as Stan re-found his enthusiasm for the game and revitalised players and supporters alike with his sparking presence and twinkling feet. Despite his advancing years, he provided marvellous value for money and played nearly one hundred games for the Bees, scoring seventeen times in all and assisting on countless others. He has also gone down in Brentford legend by forming the final leg in what became perhaps our finest midfield trio since the Second World War.

Terry Hurlock was passionate and aggressive and took no prisoners, Chris Kamara was a marvellous box-to-box runner who also provided goals and heading ability and Stan was just Stan. He didn’t do a lot of running, confining himself to the left side of midfield, but he didn’t really need to as the other players did it for him. He simply conserved his energy and sprayed the ball around and cut helpless opposition defences wide open with his rapier-like passes.

The fans adored him and a season’s best attendance of nearly seven thousand crammed in to see him make his debut at home to Burnley. Three days later he pulled all the strings as the Bees destroyed Swindon with a convincing win at The County Ground and he maintained his consistency for the next eighteen months. He also scored regularly, six times in 1981/82 and he managed a remarkable eleven goals the following season when he played over fifty times and laid on goals aplenty for the rampaging forward line of Tony Mahoney, Francis Joseph and Gary Roberts although sometimes he was too clever for them and they could not read his intentions.

Stan could seemingly do anything on the pitch, he was the complete master of the football and his left foot was like a wand. He scored eleven out of twelve times from the penalty spot, languidly strolling up and sending the goalkeeper and the crowd behind the goal one way before stroking the ball effortlessly into the other corner of the net. I still cannot believe that he actually missed one kick and remain sceptical, as no photograph seems to exist of that rare happening one Friday night at Wrexham. Would that he could provide some expert tuition in the long lost art of penalty taking to the hapless Brentford players of today who seem to find the task of scoring consistently from the spot totally beyond them.

Not content with that, Stan also produced his party piece of scoring direct from a corner kick against Swindon and he was naturally deadly from long-range free kicks as Wimbledon’s Dave Beasant could attest. Stan was a star and you simply could not take your eyes off him, but he also mucked in and was just one of the lads and was universally popular with everyone at the club. There were no airs and graces, he always played to win and gave everything that he had rather than merely going through the motions and playing only when the mood took him.

Stan provided full value and lit up Griffin Park with his wonderful ability and ever-present smile and the fact that he had been a hero at our massive rivals QPR was soon forgiven and forgotten as he so obviously gave everything to the cause throughout his spell at Brentford. He is fondly remembered by everyone associated with the club and we all salute him and send him and his family our best wishes today.

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Ahead Of The Game

For anyone interested in reading my take on everything that happened both on and off the pitch last season, as well as the odd diversion into nostalgia, nonsense, player profiles and club history, leavened with some (hopefully) pertinent and amusing comments, my new book Ahead Of The Game is available now.

Here are the Links to where the book can be purchased:

Published 17 June 2015 | 978-1-910515-14-3 | 408 pages | Print and Kindle | £15.99, £8.99

The Roll Of Honour – 21/6/15

I saw a fascinating article on the Brentford website yesterday which totally grabbed my attention and highlighted and confirmed just what an exceptional season we have all just enjoyed. It simply listed everyone involved and associated with the club – players, management and coaches, back room staff and indeed supporters whose incredible achievements have been recognised and marked with awards both internal and external.

Let’s start by perusing the entire list of Brentford FC’s Roll Of Honour 2014/15 and I hope that the BFC Media Department does not mind me repeating this information:

  • Family Excellence Award: Brentford FC
  • Sky Bet Championship PFA Team of the Year: Alex Pritchard
  • Sky Bet League Two Player of the Year Top Three: Alfie Mawson (on loan at Wycombe Wanderers)
  • Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year Top Ten: Alex Pritchard
  • Zoo Magazine Sky Bet League Two Player of the Year: Alfie Mawson
  • MATCH Magazine FL Wonderkid: Alex Pritchard
  • FourFourTwo Top 50 Players in the Football League: Jota, Alex Pritchard
  • MATCH Magazine Top 100 Players in the Football League: Andre Gray, Jota, Alex Pritchard
  • Brentford FC Club Hero: Roger Crook
  • London Manager of the Year 2014: Mark Warburton
  • Special Awards: Mark Warburton (to mark his time at Brentford FC) and Richard Lee (to mark his retirement)
  • Special Achievement Award: Roger Crook (for his work for Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, the Club and Brentford Women’s and Girls FC)
  • Supporters’ Player of the Year: Toumani Diagouraga
  • Players’ Player of the Year: Alex Pritchard
  • Goal of the Season: Stuart Dallas (v Fulham 3 April 2015)
  • Community Player of the Year: Jake Bidwell
  • Bees Player Moment of the Season: Jota (for winning goal against Fulham on 21 November 2014)
  • Bees Travel Club Player of the Season: Toumani Diagouraga
  • Junior Bees Player of the Season: Toumani Diagouraga
  • The Brentford Football Club Norwegian Supporters’ Player of the Season: Alex Pritchard
  • Irish Brentford Supporters Club Player of the Year: Alex Pritchard
  • Player of the Season for 2014/15 from Brentford’s Italian supporters: Alex Pritchard
  • Social Media Player of the Season: Alex Pritchard
  • Goal of 2014: Jota (v Cardiff City 20 December)
  • Youth Team Player of the Year: Nik Tzanev
  • Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month November 2014: Mark Warburton
  • Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month November 2014: Andre Gray
  • LMA Performance of the Week: Brentford (v Wolverhampton Wanderers 29 November 2014)
  • Hottie of the Year: Andre Gray
  • British Legal Awards Property Team of the Year: Taylor Wessing (for work securing planning permission for a new stadium for Brentford FC)
  • Brentford FC Nominations for Football League Team of the Decade: Wojciech Szczesny, Michael Turner, Jonathan Douglas, Lloyd Owusu
  • Graham Haynes Trophy: Dave Morley
  • Alfie Mawson won six awards from Wycombe Wanderers – Supporters’ Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, Official Wycombe Wanderers Supporters Association Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Away Travel Player of the Year, Wycombe Wanderers Independent Supporters Club Player of the Year
  • Lewis Macleod won the Rangers Goal of the Season Award
  • International Honours while with Brentford this season:
  • Stuart Dallas: Four Northern Ireland caps and one goal
  • Moses Odubajo: Six England Under 20 caps
  • Alex Pritchard: Six England Under 21 caps
  • Will Grigg: Two Northern Ireland caps (while on loan at Milton Keynes Dons)
  • Liam Moore: One England Under 21 cap
  • Daniel O’Shaughnessy: Five Finland Under 21 caps and one goal, One Finland Under 20 cap
  • Nik Tzanev: Three New Zealand Under 20 caps
  • Julius Fenn-Evans: Three Wales Under 16 caps
  • First Team players Alan Judge (Republic of Ireland) and Chris Long (England Under 20) and Academy players Kyjuon Marsh-Brown (Antigua and Barbuda) Harry Francis (England Under 15), Ross McMahon (Scotland Under 16) and Josh Bohui (England Under 16) were also called up to training camps or squads
  • The following players were named in the Football League Team of the Week: Alfie Mawson (three times) Jota (twice) Alex Pritchard (twice) Jake Bidwell David Button Jonathan Douglas Andre Gray Alan Judge Jon Toral Mark Warburton Will Grigg Nico Yennaris (from Wycombe Wanderers)
  • The following were inducted in to the Brentford FC Hall of Fame this season: Terry Evans, Bob Booker, Peter Gelson, Keith Millen, Alan Nelmes, Danis Salman, Kevin O’Connor and Marcus Gayle
  • The following were inducted in to the Brentford FC Hall of Fame posthumously this season: Harry Curtis, Gerry Cakebread, Ephraim Rhodes, Fred Monk, George Bristow, Jimmy Bain, Jimmy Cartmell, Arthur Bateman, Patsy Hendren, Ernie Muttitt, David McCulloch, Austin Underwood, Allan Jones, Chic Brodie, Jimmy Jay, Bill Gorman, Arthur Charlton, Fred Halliday, Jack Lane, Jack Holliday, Leslie Smith, Billy Scott, Jim Towers and Johnny Rainford

An impressive list as I am sure that you will agree and one that bears testimony to the enormous success that we enjoyed both on and off the field throughout what was in my opinion our best season in living memory. I also doubt whether we have ever previously received so much recognition from external sources and media groups.

The only addition that I would suggest to what is already an exceptionally thorough and comprehensive list is that of Tom Higginson, dear beloved “Higgy” to the Brentford FC Hall of Fame, as, unless I have got it wrong, and if so I apologise unreservedly to the club, then he has perhaps fallen through the cracks – an oversight that I am sure will be speedily rectified once the facts are checked.

This seems a perfect way of drawing a line under the 2014/15 season and starting to look forward with a mixture of optimism, trepidation and excitement to what awaits us next season. It has certainly been a close season which has already seen much change with a completely new football management structure at the club and the arrival of two players to date, a number which is likely to increase exponentially shortly after the beginning of July.

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For anyone interested in reading my take on everything that happened both on and off the pitch last season, as well as the odd diversion into the tributaries and byways of nostalgia, nonsense, player profiles and club history, leavened with some (hopefully) pertinent and amusing comments, my new book “Ahead Of The Game” is available now.

Here are the Links to where the book can be purchased:

Published 17 June 2015 | 978-1-910515-14-3 | 408 pages | Print and Kindle | £15.99, £8.99

Ahead Of The Game – Available Now! – 19/6/15

Final Cover 020615Just to let everyone know that as of today Ahead Of The Game is now available to purchase either as a paperback at The Brentford FC Superstore or it is can be bought as a paperback or Kindle eBook on Amazon.

Here is some information on the book itself:


By Greville Waterman

In May 2014, Brentford FC were promoted to the Football League Championship. It was only their second season at such a level, in sixty years, and many asked how the newcomers would cope against the so-called massive clubs Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff City and Leeds United. Would they survive? Would they thrive? Or, as many expected, would they fall short and crash back to Division One at the first time of asking?

The 2014/15 season answered these questions in emphatic style with Little Old Brentford – the perennial underachievers – displaying a vibrant brand of positive, attacking football that took the Division by storm and rocketed the Bees into the playoff places. Under the visionary ownership of Matthew Benham and the ultimate man-manager, Mark Warburton, the club had created a new and different way of doing things that piqued the interest of the Football World. Rather than look downwards, the disbelieving but delirious Brentford supporters began to harbour dreams of reaching the Promised Land of the Premier League.

Screen shot 2015-06-19 at 17.30.32In Ahead Of The Game, long-established supporter and blogger, Greville Waterman, puts together selected articles from his blog, alongside new content, to detail Brentford’s journey. He offers a fascinating and incredible inside story of how this unfancied team defied expectations, overcame the unforeseen break-up of the successful partnership between Benham and Warburton, did the double over Fulham, and came within a whisker of promotion.

This book is a must-read for any Brentford fan and includes guest contributions from Cliff Crown, Richard Lee, Billy Reeves and Jim Levack. Whatever the future holds, it is clear that The Bees are truly Ahead Of The Game and the best is yet to come!

“Greville has written an excellent and perceptive overview of everything that happened at the club during this incredible season. I loved it and I know you will too!” Matthew Benham 


Greville Waterman is a long-term Brentford supporter who has enjoyed all the good and bad times at Griffin Park and who can finally see light at the end of a very long tunnel.

He was a director of the club for a brief spell in 2005 (don’t ask) and is currently on the board of Bees United.

Greville owned a sponsorship consultancy for many years and now teaches Autogenic Therapy, a Mind/Body relaxation technique that helps people who are suffering from anxiety, stress and mild depression (see Greville needed the help of AT after suffering the trauma of watching the Bees over a fifty year period! He is also Chief Executive of The Institute, a long-established adult education college in North London.

Greville is married to his long-suffering and beautiful football widow, Miriam, and has two wonderful children, Nick and Rebecca; this book is dedicated to the three of them.

Greville will be making a contribution to Brentford FC out of his royalties.

Screen shot 2015-06-19 at 17.33.34The book is available in the Brentford FC Superstore .

Note: Amazon is currently displaying “Usually dispatched within 1 to 3 weeks”.

Please be advised that stock is shipping to Amazon right now, so customer copies should be shipping out very soon.

Published 17 June 2015 | 978-1-910515-14-3  | 408 pages | Print and Kindle | £15.99, £8.99

Available Now!

Here are the Links to where the book is available:

I really hope that you enjoy it and that you think that it gives an accurate and ideally, entertaining, account of all the incredible things that took place both on and off the pitch during what was certainly the most amazing season for Brentford FC within living memory!

Please let me know what you think?

Many thanks.


Having A Break – 5/6/15

Final Cover 020615Thanks to everyone who responded to my last article. I was quite overwhelmed by some of the comments that you left. To my surprise, but I suppose, delight too, pretty much everybody wanted me to continue writing the blog next season, although perhaps not so often.

When I started, all bright eyed and bushy tailed in the middle of June last year I set myself the task of writing something different and original every day. Fool that I was! I soon learned that that was a ridiculously optimistic target particularly given the length of some of the articles I wrote and the time it took to compose them. I ended up writing about four times each week and the final count was 224 articles and the best part of 300,000 words.

Funnily enough, whilst I am sure that there was quite a lot of repetition as the same subjects and topics came up from time to time, it was rare that I sat down at the computer and struggled to find something to write about. And that really takes me back to where I started, as next season seems certain to be even more exciting and incident packed than the one that has just finished and I therefore think that I will almost certainly keep the blog going but perhaps cut down its frequency.

I would also like to suggest that some of you help me out by writing your own contributions about what is going on at the club and if you send them to me via I would be happy to publish them. Similarly if you feel that you have a particularly interesting story to tell about your own involvement and association with Brentford FC then I can arrange either an interview or a Q&A session.

In other words I would like to make the blog more interactive and incorporate the views of as many of you as possible as we do have something in common, after all, being committed supporters of the Bees. That does not mean, though, that we cannot query, question and criticise where necessary and appropriate. Hopefully this blog has not been a hagiography and I think that I have bared my teeth when it was called for but it must be said that there is so much happening at the club that is truly incredible and ground breaking.

I am going to take a break for a couple of weeks or so, maybe even until the beginning of July, as I want to get my breath back after the exertions of the pastyear and also concentrate on the launch of my new book Ahead of the Game which should be publsished later on this month.

I had to write a few extra articles for the book last week which have not appeared on the blog as well as induce the likes of guest stars Richard Lee, Billy Reeves and Jim Levack to step up to the plate. This they have certainly done and their contributions are quite brilliant, witty, analytical, fervently written and totally on-point.

Cliff Crown has also provided an excellent Foreword and I have also been fortunate enough to receive a quote from Matthew Benham endorsing the book too. The final page count is 406 and there are also some fantastic photographs kindly provided by Mark Fuller.

Given its size, the RRP is £15.99 and I hope that you will all feel that it provides value for money. I will be showing a copy to the Club Shop Manager as soon as it comes off the printing press in ten days or so, and I very much hope that they will decide to stock it. Please feel free to ask them for it!

It will also be available on Amazon and I will provide you with full details as soon as I have them. I have included the final proof of the book cover at the beginning of this article and I really hope that some of you will want to buy it when it comes out. I will be back in touch shortly and in the meantime, please feel free to send through any comments or articles that you would like me to publish.

Many thanks.

Greville Waterman

BFC Talk – The Book – 1/6/15

Cover mock-up

I just wanted to give everyone a quick update regarding my BFC Talk blog. I have kept it going since the middle of June last year and inflicted over 220 articles and the best part of 300,000 words on you all!

I have been planning a book for the last few months and have been really fortunate to find a sympathetic publisher in Bennion Kearny who liked the idea and agreed to bring it to fruition later this summer.

I’ve spent the last week or so finishing up the book, which contains edited versions of the best of my blogs, as well as writing a final long article which summarises the season overall, explains our success and how things could have gone even better, and also suggests how next season might well go given the changes that have just been announced at the club.

For those of you who, quite reasonably, are fed up with me, there will also be three new fantastic guest articles which will be featured in the book as well as several other previously unpublished pieces.

Richard Lee has written a detailed player’s perspective on the season as well as providing his impressions of both Matthew Benham and Mark Warburton and how they worked together. His article is really interesting, incisive and thought provoking and he provides an authentic insider’s view on an incredible year.

The Maestro, Billy Reeves has written a generous and justified appreciation of Mark Warburton given his experience of working with him over the past couple of years and Jim Levack has also paid fitting tribute to retiring colossus Kevin O’Connor.

We have also just come up with the title Ahead of the Game which hopefully sums up where we are in our journey towards the Premier League.

Mark Fuller has also kindly allowed us to cherry pick some of his best images from the last nine months or so and his brilliant photographs are interspersed throughout what will be a meaty four hundred page book.

Ahead of the Game will be available both as a paperback and Ebook later on this month and I will provide you with more information as and when it becomes available regarding how you can get hold of a copy (hopefully from the Club Shop or via Amazon) and how much it will cost.

I will also be making a contribution to Brentford FC out of any royalty payments that I receive.

In the meantime, here is how the front cover will look. I hope you like it.

As for me, I now intend to take a short break from writing.

Candidly, I’m not sure as we speak whether or not to continue with the blog next season and would welcome your views.

I have really enjoyed writing it but it has all become a bit overwhelming given the length of some of my articles and the need to keep things up to date and contemporary and I don’t want to run out of things to say.

Anyway, that is all for the future. As for now I simply want to thank everyone who has read any of my stuff, I hope that you have enjoyed it and maybe some of you are gluttons for punishment and even want some more!

I also hope that you will decide to buy the book when it comes out as it will hopefully provide you and every other Brentford supporter (Christmas present perhaps?) with some suitable and entertaining and maybe even thought provoking memories of what turned into a quite remarkable and unforgettable season and how we indeed became Ahead of the Game.

Thank you again.

Best Wishes,