Pure Gold Dust – Peter Lumley’s Brentford Memories – 9/10/15

For the last couple of seasons I have sat in the same row in D Block in the Braemar Road stand as a wonderful hale and hearty, friendly gentleman who has entertained me with many stories of his long years supporting the Bees. Peter Lumley is a man of modesty, charm and obvious intellect and lucidity and it took quite a while before he let slip that he had been for many years a well known and regarded local journalist who covered Brentford on his regular sports beat.

The opportunity was far too good for me to miss and I asked Peter if he would pen some of his memories of his time spent following the club as both writer and supporter, and here is what he has to say:

I am grateful to Greville for inviting me to write this article on some of my memories spanning seventy-three years as a Brentford supporter.

What are my credentials for taking on such a task?  

Firstly, my ambition as a teenager was to become a sports journalist and as a stepping stone, my first job on leaving school was as a cub reporter on the Middlesex County Times at Ealing, a local paper that I believe is now more generally known as the Ealing Gazette.

For most of the 1950s and early 1960s I was Sports Editor of that newspaper and covered virtually every Brentford home game during that period, and many away games into the bargain.  I spent many happy days in the Griffin Park Press Box and fondly recall a delightful couple in the late Bob Parkes who acted as the club’s Press Steward and his wife who provided cups of tea and sandwiches for the starving hordes of journalists at half time.

I also have fond memories of the late Eric White, who was for many years the inspiration behind the Brentford programme and, of course, two iconic local newspaper colleagues in George Sands of the Middlesex Chronicle and Ernie Gifford of the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

My credentials as a player were modest to say the least. My best days were as a reasonably talented schoolboy performer with two special highlights to recall. I played against George Robb, a Spurs and England amateur and full international winger as well as on a separate occasion the great Johnny Haynes of England and Fulham fame, too.

My first introduction to Griffin Park was in 1942 at the age of ten and in my first season my Father and elder brother took me to Wembley for the  London War Cup Final  in which the Bees beat Portsmouth by two goals to nil with two superb goals by Leslie Smith, an England international left winger. On the right wing was Welsh international Dai Hopkins and other Brentford players from that period who I recall most vividly are goalkeeper Joe Crozier, centre half Joe James, right half Ernie Muttitt and full back Billy Gorman.

Mentioning Dai Hopkins reminds me of an extraordinary incident when the Bees met Wolves in the first full First Division season after the Second World War. Hopkins was lying prostrate on the turf on the extreme right wing touchline and he was obviously injured. Wolves centre half Stan Cullis, the England captain, ran towards the injured Hopkins and I was convinced that he was about to express his concern for a fellow professional and international player. Instead he appeared to aim a kick at the stricken winger. I may have been mistaken but I do not think so! Incidentally Brentford were relegated at the end of the season and have yet to win back a place in the top division, but I still live in hope!

Greville claims that he has been a Brentford fan for over fifty years – well I can top that claim by another twenty-three years!

That brings me onto something of a gripe about those who supported club owner Matthew Benham in his spat with Mark Warburton in February. I was repeatedly told that Mr. Benham had invested millions of pounds in the club and had been its financial saviour. In my seventy-three years as a Brentford supporter I calculated that relative to our respective incomes I must have have invested an equal proportion of my income in the purchase of season tickets, match tickets, programmes, club purchases et cetera for myself, my two sons and two grandsons too. Many thousands of other long-serving fans who also wanted Mark to stay as manager would’ve done the same, yet our voices were seemingly completely ignored.

I wrote a number of protest letters to the Chairman of the Board of Directors with copies to Mr Warburton and others at the time. I received a delightful personal response from Mark which I will treasure for the rest of my life.

From Mr Cliff Crown I received a stereotyped letter some months later in which he managed to address me as “Dear Mr King” – I threw the letter away in disgust!

That is now water under the bridge but I’m sure we have not seen the last of the repercussions and the Chairman and his fellow directors may end up with considerable egg on their faces in the weeks and months ahead. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case.

Having got that grievance off my chest I will now return to the substantive task in hand. One of Greville’s suggestions was for me to name the best Brentford players or team I had witnessed over all those years, or perhaps even the worst.

On further consideration I felt that this was a virtually impossible task so I’ve opted for a safer solution.

I will mention the players that have impressed me the most and whose names come readily to mind. I will classify them within the old-fashioned positions that I have become familiar with from the beginning of my Griffin Park journey.

So here goes :

GOALKEEPERS

  • Joe Crozier
  • Alf Jefferies
  • Gerry Cakebread
  • Chic Brodie
  • Len Bond
  • David McKellar
  • Gary Phillips
  • Stuart Nelson
  • Ben Hamer
  • David Button

FULLBACKS

  • Billy Gorman
  • George Poyser
  • Ken Horne
  • Ken Coote
  • Billy Manuel
  • John Fraser
  • Alan Hawley
  • Alan Nelmes
  • Roger Stanislaus
  • Martin Grainger
  • Kevin O’Connor
  • Alan McCormack
  • Jake Bidwell
  • Moses Odubajo

CENTRE HALVES

  • Joe James
  • Ron Greenwood
  • Jack Chisholm
  • Mel Scott
  • Peter Gelson
  • Stewart Houston
  • Pat Kruse
  • Terry Evans
  • Jamie Bates
  • Tony Craig
  • Harlee Dean
  • James Tarkowski

INSIDE FORWARDS

  • George Wilkins
  • Peter Broadbent
  • Jimmy Bloomfield
  • Johnny Brooks
  • Jim Towers
  • Jackie Graham
  • John Dick
  • Bobby Ross
  • Chris Kamara
  • Alan Judge
  • Alex Pritchard

CENTRE FORWARDS

  • Jack Holliday
  • Dave McCulloch
  • Len Townsend
  • Billy Dare
  • Tommy Lawton
  • George Francis
  • A.H. (Jackie) Gibbons
  • Ian Lawther
  • Billy McAdams
  • John O’Mara
  • Carl Asaba
  • Steve Phillips
  • Francis Joseph
  • Gary Blissett
  • Gordon Sweetzer
  • Dai Ward
  • Nicky Forster
  • Roger Cross
  • Andy McCulloch
  • Robert Taylor
  • Andre Gray

WINGERS

  • Leslie Smith
  • Dai Hopkins
  • Dennis Heath
  • John Docherty
  • Gary Roberts
  • Marcus Gayle
  • Alex Rhodes
  • Stuart Dallas
  • Jota

MANAGERS

  • Harry Curtis
  • Malcolm MacDonald
  • Jackie Gibbons
  • Bill Dodgin Jr.
  • Tommy Lawton
  • Frank Blunstone
  • John Docherty
  • Phil Holder
  • Martin Allen
  • Micky Adams
  • Ron Noades
  • Steve Perryman
  • Uwe Rosler
  • Frank McLintock
  • Mark Warburton

OWNERS

  • Fred & Harry Davis
  • Jack Dunnett
  • Dan Tana
  • Martin Lange
  • Ron Noades
  • Matthew Benham

Many thanks to Peter for his reminiscences which are highly evocative and pure gold dust.

Hopefully I can inveigle him to write some more and tease some additional gems out of him as he is a repository of wonderful stories about our great club’s past.

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18 thoughts on “Pure Gold Dust – Peter Lumley’s Brentford Memories – 9/10/15

  1. A very interesting read by Peter Lumley………Peter’s support beats mine by five years.

    The PR at the Club really does need beefing up doesn’t it?

    Peter a supporter for more than seventy years writes what I am quite sure would have been polite letters and finally gets one back from Cliff Crown months later addressed to ‘Dear Mr King’………for heaven’s sake can we not have someone who deals with the Chairman and board’s post efficiently??

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    • Well there is actually. We have enough staff at BFC to sink a battleship and yet it takes months for the Chairman to reply to a letter from a supporter of more than seventy years and then Peter Lumley is addressed as ‘Dear Mr King……’

      Peter writes that he threw the letter from Cliff Crown away in disgust………he should have replied:

      ‘Dear Mr Jones (Chairman of Brentford Football Club),
      Thank you for your circular letter…………..’

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  2. A great piece Peter with some great memories – love the Stan Cullis/Dai Hopkins story!

    I would however like to comment on a couple of players missing from your list of favourites, who I would have expected to see in there – Keith Millen and Dean Holdsworth.

    And also as you have no section for central midfielders, it wasn’t possible for you to include Stan Bowles.

    Views on players always provoke plenty of healthy debate!

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  3. As someone who also started to come to Griffin Park in 1942, when I was three, that was a good trip back down memory lane. And an interesting thought on our investments in BFC over the years. I confess that I did stop coming during the Webb era, and sometime in the 70s due to work. Otherwise, memories are mostly very happy. While it would be nice to get back into the top flight, and there is lots of clever stuff going on to achieve that, it’s not the be all and end all. People like Peter and I will still be there no matter what level we will be playing at.
    The response to Peter’s letters is sadly a reflection of the way of the world these days. As Alan can confirm you are likely to get no response from Bees United, either. Even worse is the vitriol on the GPG if you have the temerity to question whether the sacking (or whatever it was) of Mark Warburton was not a bit of a mistake, never mind possibly the biggest clanger in BFC history. Support Matthew Benham? Of course we do. Criticise him? Of course we should. Even if you haven’t paid your dues for 73 years.

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  4. Re the Cullis/Hopkins story this match was the very first that I attended at Griffin Park and I still have the programme in my office courtesy of David Heath……….official price 2d.

    January 18th 1947……Brentford were on course for relegation and Wolves were top of the table for a nailed on away banker.What a team Wolves had out…….Bert Williams in goal, Sammy Crook and Cullis and a forward line that included Hancock, Pye, Westcott and Mullen…….all England Internationals I believe.

    Final score was Brentford 4 Wolves 1 and whilst I don’t remember the Hopkins incident my abiding memory is Stan Cullis going absolutely barmy as the goals went in……..he was raving and ranting as the match was going against the form book and I was thinking ‘This is absolutely great and the life for me’.

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  5. A few thoughts.

    Ron Nodes as an impressive owner? Good grief !!!
    Jim mcnichol and Keith millen not as memorable/good as Harlee Dean? Honestly find that incredible.
    Dean Holdsworth doesn’t deserve a mention but Carl asaba does?

    As for his comments about money and opinions being ignored, it may be just as well if we look at his lists and observations because he is clearly one if the Braemar moaners who talk nonsense.

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  6. What Noades did that was wrong was to fuel his ambition with loans, secured against Griffin Park. The football was rather good I seem to remember. I suspect that the loans of today are greater, and the forward spending commitments are on a different scale. There may be good reasons for that but is still a bit uncomfortable for those that remember Noades.

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  7. For those followers who have commented on my choice of players that have impressed over so many years, I would just like to point out that this was an interim selection attached to a first draft of my article. The final list would have certainly included: Jim McNichol, Dean Holdsworth and Stan Bowles among others.
    No attempt was made to rank them or the owners or managers in any sorted order than roughly chronologically.

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  8. Nice piece Peter, good education for us “young uns” – I’ve only been a regular since the late 70’s. I’ve got to put a shout in for Neil Smilie in your selection of wingers – a quality player with end product.

    Alan Bird’s comments are interesting, I don’t know him, but I always listen to what he has to say and respect him for what he’s done for us and BFC through very dark days.I feel so frustrated by our club’s inability to sort it’s higher level PR and comms out, and our chairman’s letter to Peter is just another example. They either say nothing when something needs to be said, or get it so badly wrong when they do.

    I’d be very interested to hear what MW had to say in his letter to you Peter?

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  9. A really fascinating piece written by Peter. Like RebelBee I would also be interested to hear what Warbs had to say. A wonderful manager and a total gent – makes me miss him even more!

    Just a quick point Greville, but I wanted to ask how I went about getting a post published on the blog?
    With this long gap in between the Derby game and Rotherham game, I (like many Bees fans I’m sure) have gotten to looking at the remaining fixtures and working out which ones we need to win (and draw) to guarantee Championship survival this season!

    I have also taken a look at who might be in the next starting 11 and touched on the players who will hopefully be back by Christmas – thus (hopefully) giving the squad a much-needed injection of talent to (again, hopefully) push us up the table.

    Don’t know if it’s something you’d be interested in publishing, but given that, as a copywriter, I write for a living, it might be of a standard for you to consider putting it out there?

    How do I submit the article to you? Is it best to email it or simply paste it into one of these comment boxes?

    Many thanks in advance.

    Dave Washer (beesyellow22)

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