Peter Lumley has already provided some wonderful memories of his many years watching the Bees and I am delighted to say that he was written another wonderful and evocative article which explains and expands upon his passion for the club.
I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I did:
Watching Gary Blissett receive his Hall of Fame accolade on the pitch ahead of the boxing day game against Brighton reminded me of one of my previous communications in which I named a Brentford team compromised solely of players with a surname beginning with “B”.
The players spanned the seventy-three years since 1942 when I first paid a visit to Griffin Park.
My Dream Team selection was as follows:
- Chic Brodie
- Paul Bence
- Jake Bidwell
- Jamie Bates
- Wally Bragg
- Bob Booker
- Stan Bowles
- Jimmy Bloomfield
- Johnny Brooks
- Gary Blissett
- Peter Broadbent
I challenge anyone to name a more talented team compromising players sharing the same first letter in the remainder of the alphabet.
I am appending a brief note about each of my selections:
Chic Brodie: Perhaps the most reliable goalkeeper to don a Brentford green jersey. His all too short career was blighted by a bizarre incident at Colchester when a stray dog ran on to the pitch and in a “one on one” situation almost broke the keepers leg above the knee cap.
It left him with an injury that had a detrimental effect on the remainder of his career. His selection was marginal due to the excellence of three other contenders, Len Bond, Graham Benstead and David Button, who now has the potential to reach the very top.
Paul Bence: Loyal, versatile and reliable defender who was equally at home in the old fashioned right back or right half positions and you could count his off-days on one hand. A true Griffin Park servant and a wonderful example to aspiring young players at the time.
Jake Bidwell: There is nothing I can write about Jake that current Brentford fans do not already know. As the captain of the team he leads by example and his charges down the left with the consequential crosses into the box are a feature of virtually every Brentford performance. And now he has broken his duck as a goal scorer, let us hope there are many more to come.
Jamie Bates: Another long serving Griffin Park favourite and a natural successor to the iconic Terry Evans in the Bees defence. Like Terry, a great header of the ball both in attack and defence. Few strikers got the better of him in Fifty-Fifty situations but he was always resolutely strong but fair in a tackle. A possible candidate for future Hall of Fame recognition.
Wally Bragg: One of a long line of outstanding centre halves and in the same league as, for example, Joe James, Ron Greenwood, Jack Chisholm, Mel Scott, Stewart Houston, Pat Kruse, Peter Gelson and Leon Legge.
Bob Booker: There is nothing I can write about Bob that has not already attracted the attention of those with far mightier pens than mine. One of my all time favourites.
Stan Bowles: Another outstanding performer who came to Griffin Park quite late on his illustrious career but was an absolute joy to watch. Falls into that category of players who could be regarded as the most talented of all time.
Jimmy Bloomfield: I can remember a very young Jimmy coming to Griffin Park as an extremely talented inside forward who possessed exquisite skills on the ball. His play was as smooth as silk and I was desperately sorry when he left us for pastures new and subsequently I was saddened to learn of his death at a relatively young age.
Johnny Brooks: Came to Brentford after an illustrious career with Tottenham and England. In many ways he was an older version of the aforementioned Jimmy Bloomfield. His skill on the ball had to be seen to be believed and he possessed one of the most powerful shots in the game. A pity he did not join Brentford some seasons earlier.
Gary Blissett: Yet again another player to fall into that category where it is difficult to find words to add to those already written about him. Arguably the best out and out striker Brentford have ever had, certainly in the modern era.
My own personal highlight was to see him scoring the winning goal in that never to be forgotten promotion-clinching win at Peterborough. With members of the family I had to drive, somewhat hastily, back to Griffin Park to greet the team as they arrived back to a very noisy reception in Braemar Road. As mentioned earlier, Gary’s recognition as a newcomer to the Hall of Fame was the event that encouraged me to write this particular article.
Peter Broadbent: As the then Sports Editor of the local newspaper, now known as the “Ealing Gazette”, I struck up a friendship with Peter shortly following his debut as a Brentford player.
In fact I recall that the two of us as young unattached lads, going to Saturday night dances at Ealing Town Hall after a game on a number of occasions.
Again I was extremely sorry to see him move on to Wolverhampton Wanderers where he subsequently won a number of caps with the England team.
Another of my all time favourites who I was privileged to know as a friend. Other Brentford players who fell into the same category were Ken Horne, Tom Higginson, Jimmy Towers and George Francis.
My substitutes in this team would be a selection of seven from the following candidates:
Goalkeepers: Len Bond, Graham Benstead, David Button and Jack Bonham. ( With difficulty I have left out Ashley Bayes!)
Defenders: Billy Brown, Danny Boxall, John Buttigieg, George Bristow and Paul Brooker.
Forwards: Mickey Bennett, Mike Block, Micky Ball, Deon Burton and Willy Brown.
Quite apart from the players, I wish to extend the “B” theme to include other Griffin Park heroes. This is my list for starters:
Chairmen: Ron Blindell and Matthew Benham.
Managers: Jimmy Bain, Frank Blunstone and reluctantly, Terry Butcher.
Supporters: John Barr and his fire officer grandson, also named John Barr or “Little John” as we nicknamed him when he first visited Griffin Park as an eight year old.
Last, but by no means least, I nominate the incomparable Mark Burridge as my favourite Bees Player commentator.
Mentioning Len Bond earlier leads me into a postscript to this communication. My wife has a habit of waking up in the unearthly hours of five or six most mornings. She then trawls through the various early morning TV channels to ensure that I wake up at about the same time.
But one morning over the Christmas holiday, I could not believe my ears, or my eyes, when I heard the names of Len Bond, Danis Salman, Barry Tucker Jim McNichol, Paul Shrubb, Dean Smith and Steve Phillips beaming out from the TV set.
Quite by chance my wife had hit upon an ITV4 program entitled “Big Match Revisited”. The featured match was a 1970’s Third Division clash at Griffin Park between Brentford and Watford. The result was a thrilling 3-3 draw with Dean Smith and Steve Phillips (Twice) scoring for the Bees, his second goal from the penalty spot to earn a point. The scoring went as follows: 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3, 3-3).
The respective managers that day were Bill Dodgin and Graham Taylor. One of the Watford goals was scored by Luther Blissett!
My Final thought, I am confident we will Be in the mix for a top six place By May.
And MayBe we could win promotion!
Thank you Peter and I hope some of you will rise to his challenge and name your own favourite teams comprising players with a surname beginning with the same letter.
Over to you!