BOB BOOKER BIOGRAPHY EXTRACT

Just to let everyone know why I have not been writing or updating my blog lately. Well to be quite frank I have been pretty busy and occupied in researching and starting to write my biography of Bob Booker which I hope and expect to have published by the end of next year.

Here is a brief extract from Chapter 4 which covers his hat trick against Hull City in 1979. Let me know if you like it.

Thanks.

Bill Dodgin had kept an eye on Bob’s progress at Barnet and as results began to deteriorate and injuries started to bite he had no option but to recall Bob from his loan at Barnet.

Lee Holmes had bruised his ribs at Carlisle soon after scoring with a brave low header, so Bob was thrown straight back into first team action.

He had not played in the Third Division for over a year since November 11th 1978 but on December 8th 1979 Bob’s life was to change irrevocably when he scored a hat trick in a 7-2 thrashing of a struggling Hull City team. His three goals came in the space of just 24 minutes as Brentford notched their biggest victory since the record 9-0 obliteration of Wrexham in October 1963.

Bob remembers the day clearly, as well he might: “It was a misty, dark and drizzly day. Things started well when I made the second goal by flicking the ball to Steve Phillips who scored easily. For my first goal after 35 minutes, I turned away from Gordon Nisbet, went down the right and as the centre half slid out towards me and the keeper started to come off his line I side footed it towards goal I didn’t hit the ball particularly well but it went under the keeper and nestled in the corner of the net.”

The second goal came after a free kick from Alan Glover which was half-cleared and fell to Bob who poked it home and his hat trick was completed when he volleyed home Keith Fear’s right wing cross in the 59th minute.

Long-term Dodgin target Keith Fear had recently signed on loan from Plymouth and was the inspiration and pulled all the strings whilst playing in a free role as well as scoring a brilliant goal from wide out on the wing after Bob had passed him the ball. Steve Phillips scored twice and Bob was tickled pink to beat him to the hat trick, and Pat Kruse scored the seventh. Three goals and two assists in his first game of the season – not a bad way to announce your return to the team!

As for the match ball, it is now in pride of place in the Brentford Trophy Cabinet. Bob and his teammates signed the ball which raised the incredible sum of £1,000 at a Sportsmen’s’ Dinner at the club.

“ I couldn’t believe it went for so much but the guy who bought it said ‘I want you to have it back’ so I gave it to the club and hopefully one day it will be on display at their new stadium in Lionel Road.”

Bill Dodgin was delighted with Bob’s performance: “I thought the experience at Barnet would do him good and he is far sharper and has improved his control of the ball. I brought him in to give us some hustle and bustle and to take the weight off Steve Phillips, and he certainly did that.”

Bob knew that things could never be the same again after his wonderful performance: “This was the most exciting day of my life and it was sheer magic, I was still pretty much unknown and very few Brentford fans knew who I was. You could feel the buzz from the crowd and there were nearly seven thousand people there. But my achievement was a double-edged sword as the hat trick put so much pressure on me as the supporters now expected me to score in every game I played and unfortunately things were to go downhill for me from there.”

Much the same had happened to another callow young striker in Andy Woon who had burst into prominence by scoring three goals on his full Brentford debut in a 5-0 hammering of Port Vale in early 1973. After arriving unheralded from Bognor Regis the previous October. He hung around for a couple more seasons but he failed to meet rising expectations, his promise was unfulfilled and he drifted back into nonleague football with Maidstone United. Would the same fate befall Bob Booker?

Bob kept his place for four of the next five games and scored at Bury but he could not repeat the form he had displayed against Hull and he was dropped. He reflects sadly: “If it had not been for the injuries I would probably have been left out earlier and the crowd certainly didn’t help as they quickly got on my back.”

We will come back to the effect on players of booing in the next chapter but results soon deteriorated as a team suddenly shorn and bereft of confidence sank like a stone towards the bottom four after losing six of its next seven games. Tommy Baldwin simply felt that “the luck just ran out and we never really replaced Andy McCulloch.”

Bill Dodgin carried on with his tried and tested methods and approach just as before as he felt that the tide would turn, but it didn’t as the rot had well and truly set in. Bob Booker returned as a halftime substitute at home to Blackpool and after the “young, lanky striker” headed home the equaliser, he made the winner for Danny Salman, which brought about the first victory since Hull, eleven matches ago.

Bill Dodgin’s last shake of the dice in an effort to turn things around was signing tiny striker Tony Funnell for a club record £56,000 from Gillingham but he was a Steve Phillips clone, started slowly and didn’t improve matters, and six games and four defeats later Bill Dodgin was given a leave of absence and later sacked, which was a poor reward for such an excellent servant to the club who less than a year previously had loyally turned down the chance to join Chelsea as assistant manager, in retrospect a poor and misguided decision on his part.

Brentford Chairman Dan Tana was loath to pull the trigger on Bill Dodgin: “The time around his departure was very difficult, with only a handful of games to go it looked as if Brentford would get relegated and something had to be done to avoid the drop back to Division Four. The supporters had been demonstrating in the forecourt at Griffin Park and I’d spoken up on behalf of the manager – telling people that he’d been good enough to get us up and I thought he was good enough to keep us up. Bill and I spoke about the situation and, until the 6-1 thrashing at Colchester followed by the home defeat to Rotherham, he’d told me not to worry as he had every faith in being able to turn the situation around.”

“But after the Rotherham game Bill came over to my house and we analysed the whole situation and, on further reflection, Bill was no longer convinced that the team would escape the drop. So we came to a mutual agreement that he would step aside. I didn’t sack him – Bill was a very good man.”

Ironically it was the misfit, Tony Funnell, who finally came good and scored the winner in the last game of the season against Millwall that kept the Bees up.

Dodgin was replaced by his former coach, Fred Callaghan who was the antithesis to Dodgin as he was “a tough nut and a bit of a character who worked the players hard.”

The days of long liquid lunches and golf outings were gone as training increased in intensity and three wins in the last seven matches ensured that the Bees finished two places and two points clear of relegation.

This was Bob’s first experience of seeing his manager sacked and replaced and he felt very unsure of what the future had to bring for him.

“Losing Bill was tough to take and it was sad to see him go as he had been a father figure to me and given me my opportunity and believed in me. My main worry was whether the new manager would like and rate me and if I would be in his plans and I knew that I had to prove myself once again. Fred was a fresh face and a fresh voice and we responded to him although he did not change things too much at first apart from training us harder and longer.”

Bob was brought back into the team for a must-win match at Gillingham and he responded by scoring the winner with a brilliant left foot curler from the edge of the area, his best goal to date, which helped turn his career round as it filled him with confidence for the following season.

This had been a roller-coaster season for Bob as he had started it totally out of favour, proved himself during his loan spell under Barry Fry, came back with a bang with that hat trick against Hull, drifted out of contention again before ending the season with a crucial winning goal at Gillingham. All in all he had scored six goals in nine appearances plus three more as a substitute, which was enough to make him equal third top scorer in the team.

He had barely played a dozen Football League matches but so much had already happened to him in his career.

You Are A Long Time Retired – 21/5/16

I make a point of reading The Football League Paper every Sunday and I always make a beeline for the Where Are They Now column. Every week it features a grainy black and white team photograph dating back up to forty years or so and provides an update on what the players have been getting up to since they retired. Some, but a very small minority remain household names to this day, predominantly as managers and coaches, but the overwhelming majority have faded away into relative obscurity, their glory days long-since passed and they now work in a variety of common-or-garden or mundane jobs. A worrying number have also passed away and I find it hard to realise or accept that a gnarled veteran in his early thirties when I first started watching the game fifty years ago is now in his dotage – or worse. I well remember researching the whereabouts of some of our former Brentford heroes from the sixties when working on the Big Brentford Book series and making the shocking discovery of how very few players from that era still remained with us.

So what happens to footballers when they retire and how do they cope with being out of the spotlight and no longer being a global, national or local hero? What happens when they have to adapt to the dull and prosaic reality of having to manage their own affairs, make their own travel arrangements, find alternative employment, adjust to a massive reduction in their earnings and even look after their passport rather than having it held for safekeeping by their club?

Retired footballers have on average around sixteen thousand days to fill from the time of their retirement until their death and it is not surprising that many former footballers find this transition difficult if not impossible to manage. Many fall upon hard times and the results of the loss of their former fame, glory, stature and even sense of purpose can be drastic and catastrophic with over one hundred and fifty ex-footballers ending up in prison, predominately for drug offenses. Others suffer from mental health issues and bankruptcy. Divorce is rife with a staggering one third of all footballers ending their marriage within a year of hanging up their boots and, tragically, suicide is also all too common.

Writer and award-winning stand-up comedian Alan Gernon has now produced a well-researched, thought-provoking and comprehensive book that is certainly not a barrel of laughs. Retired provides a disturbing analysis of the never-ending variety of troubles and problems that footballers can face once they stop playing; what can and does happen to them, and what support and help are available to them when things begin to go wrong as they attempt to readjust to normal life. Liberally illustrated with a plethora of case studies of ex-players whose difficult and sad stories are either already in the public domain or who have been brave enough to go public with their recollections within this book, Retired is a much-needed and long-overdue cautionary tale of the problems and pitfalls that can await every footballer once he leaves the spotlight.

Mr. Gernon has ranged far and wide in his research and has obtained insights, some of them excruciating in their honesty, from former players such as David Bentley, Lee Bowyer, David Busst, Geoff Thomas, Jody Craddock, Mark Ward, Richard Sadlier, Gary Stevens and John Newsome, amongst others, who between them have suffered from a myriad of problems since the end of their glory days.

Some of the statistics are mind blowing. Research undertaken by XPRO, a charity set up to help, support and advise former professional footballers highlights the following:

  • There are over sixty thousand former players living in the UK and Ireland
  • Two out of every five Premier League players, who earn an average of forty-two thousand pounds per week, face the threat of bankruptcy within five years of ending their career
  • One third of footballers will be divorced within a year of retirement
  • Eighty percent of retired players will suffer from osteoarthritis

World players’ union FIFPro also revealed that thirty-five percent of former players faced problems with depression and anxiety, particularly if they had suffered serious injuries during their playing career, more than double the figure for the general population.

What about the young kids who dream of becoming footballers but have their hopes and dreams shattered? The odds are heavily weighted against them. Former Liverpool schoolboy player Michael Kinsella’s story is typical of so many like him. Thirteen members of his schoolboy side joined professional clubs with only two enjoying long-term careers. Six ended up in prison, with Kinsella himself receiving a ten-year sentence for drug offences.

Some players are fortunate enough to become managers or coaches, others seek the Holy Grail of a pundit’s role within the media but these opportunitiesare few and far between with demand massively exceeding supply. There are nowhere near enough jobs to go round and the majority go to the biggest names.

Some players even die early from the effects of heading the old-style heavy leather football which resembled a cannonball when wet. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain condition becoming more common among footballers. Jeff Astle, a renowned header of the ball for West Bromwich Albion and England in the sixties and early seventies died tragically young in 2002 and the coroner concluded that he suffered neurological damage from heading a football and his illness was later diagnosed as CTE.

Former West Ham player Mark Ward struggled after retirement and turned to alcohol and was short of cash. He rented out a property which was used to store drugs and he ended up in prison. Michael Branch was a special talent at Everton who ended up serving a seven-year sentence for supply of Class A and B drugs.

The book is relentless featuring tale after tale of players who have fallen foul of a variety of problems and pitfalls and it can be so hard for footballers who can resemble thirty-seven year-old newborns emerging from what Niall Quinn has so memorably described as an adults’ playground to adapt to what they have to face in the real world. Thankfully there is now far more support at hand and it is no longer considered a weakness to cry for help.

Hopefully this quite brilliant book will help raise awareness of the seriousness of the situation and reinforce the fact that there is now expert help available whenever it is required.

This is help that perhaps former Southampton player Bobby Stokes could surely have done with. Never a star, but a solid, dependable, all-action midfield dynamo whose place in Southampton legend is assured by virtue of the dramatic and unforgettable winning goal he scored in 1976 to win the FA Cup for The Saints against Manchester United. He was the toast of the town and became that rarity, a Portsmouth boy who became a hero for their hated rivals in Southampton.

He died far too young in straightened circumstances and life after football was not easy for him. Mark Sanderson has lovingly recorded his life and achievements in Bobby Stokes: The Man from Portsmouth Who Scored Southampton’s Most Famous Goal.

It is a biography that has been written with sympathy, affection and respect by a man who has a light and deft touch with words and possesses an immense knowledge of his subject.

Both books are highly recommended.

Retired By Alan Gernon And Bobby Stokes By Mark Sanderson are both published by Pitch Publishing.


Don’t Miss This Book – 16/4/16

Some books are hard to get into but are eventually worth the struggle, others make my eyes glaze over almost from the opening pages and bring about an irresistible urge to fall asleep, but just sometimes you hit the jackpot and pick up a book which engages and delights you from the opening paragraph and you find yourself totally captivated and nodding in agreement with the author’s comments as well as totally identifying with everything that he says.

Apologies for the radio silence over the past couple of days but I have just been indulging myself and was totally engrossed in a wonderful new book mysteriously and enigmatically titled Gus Honeybun, Your Boys Took One Hell Of A Beating by Simon Carter.

So what on earth is this all about and who or what is Gus Honeybun? Quite simply, Simon Carter is a journalist who has enjoyed a love affair with Exeter City for the past thirty-seven years and the book is almost four hundred pages worth of an intoxicating mixture of ecstasy, joy, pride, shock, horror, resignation and shattered expectations as he recounts his memories of following a mediocre lower league football club in their fight for survival against almost insurmountable odds.

As for Gus, he was a Janner, a nickname for all those unlucky enough to be born and (in)bred in Plymouth. He was a popular rabbit puppet who appeared on local television for almost thirty years and helped celebrate children’s birthdays by doing a series of on-air bunny hops and winks. That all sounds pretty harmless and uncontentious to me but unfortunately Gus was also a rabid Plymouth Argyle supporter and would appear on-screen proudly wearing a green and white Argyle scarf whenever they had a whiff of success – pure provocation and something that used to infuriate young Simon as a died in the wool Exeter fan who took particular delight in his club’s rare victories over their local rivals.

Fans of every other Football League team will identify with the exploits and adventures recounted in this book. Taking a total of ten supporters to midweek games up North in the depths of Winter, travelling away with no hint of expectation when actually scoring a goal, or at least winning a corner, was the most one could hope for. Losing miserably and spinelessly to the like of Warrington in the FA Cup with the further embarrassment of seeing your team’s myriad shortcomings transmitted to the entire nation through the live television coverage on BBC. The sense of utter frustration when you just know that your team will let you down whenever it really matters, but, never mind, you will still be there for the next game or the following season with the slate wiped clean knowing full well that further embarrassments and disappointments await you.

Carter writes well and concisely with short, sharp, staccato, tight sentences and he has a keen eye for a headline and an article that grabs your attention in the opening paragraph, draws you in and then never lets go. He is a fanatic without being an anorak or statto and non-Exeter City fans will be able to stay with the book without too much trouble as it deals with a multitude of themes and subjects that will resonate with every football fan without going into mind numbing detail of obscure games, players and events from long ago which would have far more limited appeal.

Carter does celebrate local heroes such as Tony Kellow, a squat goalhanger who, back in the day, often put Brentford to the sword, the late and much lamented Adam Stansfield, goal machine Darran Rowbotham and Peter Hatch, still living in Exeter thirty-five years after spearheading a massive four goal giant killing of Newcastle United, who Carter interviews and then writes about with much poignancy and pride. Sometimes it is good to actually meet your heroes when they turn out to be even better men in the flesh than in the imagination of a young boy.

Supporting a no-hoper is all about patience and tolerance and being able to take pleasure in small mercies and then relishing and celebrating the rare triumphs and achievements when they do come along and there is much here about the glory of winning the Fourth Division Championship in 1990 and gaining promotion back to the Football League in 2008 through the dreaded playoffs. Who can begrudge him the opportunity to play the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the FA Cup and achieve meritorious draws against both Premier League giants as well as earning enough money from the ties to help keep the club afloat?

Brentford fans will enjoy his account of the quite ridiculous 1982/83 season which saw Exeter barely escape relegation despite scoring eighty-one goals – generally enough to ensure a promotion bid, but Exeter also inconceivably found a way to concede a staggering one hundred and four times and their forty-six matches saw an incredible one hundred and eighty-five goals scored, or four goals in every match.

Eight of those goals came in that unforgettable game which Brentford won by seven goals to one. Carter witnessed this humiliation yet he was back, undaunted, bright eyed and bushy tailed for the next game which saw a massive improvement as his heroes only lost by five goals to one to Orient!

Football is also about friends and companionship and there are many amusing tales of derring-do as Simon and his mates travel the country more in hope than expectation and somehow manage to get back unscathed to their South Western outpost. Bizarrely he also comes across the likes of Brad Pitt, Freddie Starr and Uri Geller in the course of his adventures.

There is gallows humour in abundance and the book is an easy, fulfilling and amusing read but Simon’s account of his unrequited passion and love affair also has the power to stir the emotions and move you at the same time.

This is a book that should not be missed and it is highly recommended for supporters of any football club from Aldershot to Yeovil – apart of course from Plymouth Argyle.

GUS HONEYBUN, YOU BOYS TOOK ONE HELL OF A BEATING BY SIMON CARTER AND PUBLISHED BY PITCH PUBLISHING. AVAILABLE ON AMAZON FOR £12.99.

Who Wants A New Book? – 31/3/16

Today I need to ask everybody a question – how many of you would be prepared to buy a new book by me should I be able to publish one at the end of this season?

Firstly I would just like to thank everybody who was kind or daft enough to purchase a copy of Ahead Of The Game. I am eternally grateful to all of you and only hope that you enjoyed it and were happy with your purchase.

My publisher, James Lumsden-Cook, the owner of Bennion Kearny was brave enough to take a real chance on me and probably against his better judgement decided to go ahead with the last book which thankfully received some fantastic reviews and has exceeded all expectations by selling the best part of one thousand copies.

Now the time has almost come when we need to decide how best to proceed regarding its potential successor.

The last book was pretty straightforward as it catalogued an unexpected but quite wonderful series of triumphs interspersed with the massive trauma of Warburtongate but this time it is likely to be a very different story given all the happenings and ups and downs both on and off the field since last July.

What the publisher quite understandably wants to know is how many Brentford supporters will really want to buy a book that is more concerned with lost opportunities, over expectations, defeats, disappointments plus a few massive high points too as well as an inquest and analysis into the many things that have gone wrong plus of course those that went right and an explanation as to why certain actions had to be taken?

I have already written the best part of a quarter of a million words regarding all the events of this season, both good and bad, and the book will be fair, balanced and objective and will look forward as well as back, rather than just being a moan-fest.

Hopefully there will also be a few unexpected guest writers who will provide their own perspective on all things Brentford.

For those who like their nostalgia, there will also be several more esoteric pieces on players and events from the recent and more distant past which I hope will be evocative and stir a few memories from all fans of a certain vintage.

The new book has provisionally been titled Growing Pains, which I think is a fair summation of where we currently find ourselves in the Brentford Project.

Like the first book it would be around four hundred pages in length, contain some fantastic action photographs from this season and retail at around sixteen pounds.

The BFC Talk blog has been going from strength to strength and the readership levels have risen dramatically this season and particularly over the past three months, so the key question is how many of you who either bought the first book or who read my blog either regularly or from time to time are going to be interested or likely to buy a copy of Growing Pains if and when it is published in June?

My publisher and I have spoken at length about this subject and he wants to guage likely levels of interest in the new book before he gives the project his final go ahead.

I am therefore going to ask if anyone with an interest in buying the book could please email BFC@BennionKearny.com and confirm that they are more than likely to buy the new book should it come out in June.

Reading between the lines we need to know that a minimum of three hundred people are likely to buy the book in order to make it a viable proposition.

Should the publisher receive significantly less than that number of emails expressing interest then the project could well be mothballed and the book not be published.

That is the situation in a nutshell, if enough supporters confirm their interest in buying a copy then it will be published – even, perish the thought, if we are relegated, unlikely though that prospect is.

I am desperately keen for all my work to see the light of day and very much hope that as many of you as possible will send an email to BFC@BennionKearny.com within the next couple of weeks as we need to make a final decision by the end of April.

Please don’t just leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter or on the blog itself, please send your email to the publisher.

Obviously sending an email does not commit you to buying a copy (and please also let us know if you might even be interested in buying an extra copy or two as a present for someone else) but it will certainly give us a reasonable idea of whether the book is likely to be a success or not.

Apologies for having to make this request but I am sure you can all see why I have to do so and hopefully you will all respond accordingly and send in your emails.

Thank you for all your interest and support.

Best wishes

Greville

 

Ahead Of The Game – Book Signing And Review 12/12/15

I just wanted to provide everyone with some advance notice of a special pre-Christmas book signing next weekend.

Brentford Chairman Cliff Crown has kindly agreed to meet and chat to supporters and also sign copies of Ahead Of The Game between 2 – 2.30 pm next Saturday, December 19th, in the BFC Superstore before the Huddersfield Town match.

Cliff very kindly contributed an excellent, erudite and insightful Foreword to the book and he has always been extremely supportive of all my efforts, and I am very grateful to him.

Hopefully some of you will take the time and trouble to come and talk to us both next Saturday, and we very much look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.

In passing, I would also like to thank Dan Williamson, author of the excellent Open Veins of Football website for his enthusiastic and perceptive review of Ahead Of The Game.

Here is what he had to say about the book:

For Brentford fans this book will act as a Bible of what was one of their most successful seasons of recent years. Ahead of the Game is a fans-perspective diary of blog entries of the 2014/15 season by hardcore fan Greville Waterman.

The author has an admirable dedication to, and an almost encyclopedic knowledge of, the Bees, having been a match-goer since he was young and even completing a short stint on the club’s board.

As a neutral I must admit to knowing very little about Brentford FC before reading Ahead of the Game. It was refreshing not being familiar with all of the players involved, or the results of that season.

It gave the book an almost novel feel, like it was sports fiction. I personally enjoyed the off-the-field passages more than the detailed match reports, like a real-life version of the Sky television show Dream Team.

The book begins in pre-season, with the author sharing his dismay at the exit of fans’ favourite Clayton Donaldson to Birmingham City. Greville’s joy at visiting Griffin Park for the first game of the season was palpable, and some of the away-day stories were brilliant.

Often the result pales into insignificance against the enjoyment of a “day out” and as a reader these anecdotes were the most pleasurable to read. One of the highlights was a chance meeting with a Burger King-munching Oldham player at an M6 service station.

The author’s match day experiences with his kids were great too, including when he coincided an away trip to Forest with seeing his daughter who was studying at Nottingham University.

The will-he-won’t-he Mark Warburton saga made February one of the most page-turning months, but perhaps the most excruciating for Brentford fans.

I also really enjoyed learning more about the mysterious presence of Matthew Benham. The media-shy owner and his “moneyball” approach have been covered in the press but it was great to learn more about the man who has transformed the club in recent years.

The diary-format meant that the book could be easily digested in small, bitesize chunks, but at 400-odd pages it is a mammoth read. Some of the passages seemed a little forced and could have been reduced or even removed to make for a more fluid read, but the detail may appeal to certain Brentford fans.

Brentford are currently in mid-table of the Championship, having recently appointed former Walsall boss Dean Smith as the manager, the second since Mark Warburton’s exit to Ibrox.

The ups-and-downs such as these are what makes being a football fan so great, and why it’s so fascinating to keep reading about the sport.

A must read for all Bees fans and recommended for football fans looking for a detailed insight into another club.

Ahead of the Game: Brentford FCs 2014/2015 Season by Greville Waterman (Bennion Kearney, 2015)

A Nice Surprise – 4/12/15

Please forgive me if I blow my own trumpet a little bit today. I woke up yesterday to a lovely and totally unexpected surprise – a long and detailed review of Ahead Of The Game from Rob Langham, the co-founder of the quite excellent Football League website and blog, The Two Unfortunates.

Here is what he had to say:

AHEAD OF THE GAME

 

logo9nobannerThis is a remarkable book from Greville Waterman. Weighing in at a colossal 400 pages, it’s a sumptuous chronicle of one of the best seasons in the history of Brentford Football Club, a warts and all expose of club’s march to the Championship play-offs which, although predicted (kind of) in these quarters, obviously came as a surprise to the nation’s press and the bulk of their opponents, such was the inability to cope with the Bees’ fluid passing style and shrewd tactics in 2014/15.

So how did Greville Waterman, an autogenic therapist, find the time to compile such a tome? The answer is incrementally. By piecing together contributions to his excellent blog, BFCTalk, Waterman has opted to republish the whole set of exhaustive posts within the covers of a print edition, supplemented by the odd new entry.

It’s a format which various blogs have followed before, most notably the pioneering sites Pitch Invasion and In Bed With Maradona and serves a useful purpose. Few of us read every word a website produces so to have them gathered under one roof is a logical summarising statement. IPads notwithstanding, there is also the ease of digestion that a hard copy brings.

Of course there are disadvantages – the immediacy of online commentary as a medium is hard to beat and one becomes used to immediate feedback on one’s work via twitter, comments sections and other social media. That’s less the case with a book where the pedestrian process of printing and distribution and the difficulty punters have in immediately responding can leave one wondering what people think of your writing. Hence, a club based project for the specialist reader will rely on distribution through channels such as the club shop and the community of fans – Brentford are one of the best represented among football league clubs in this respect, the excellent Beesotted sitting alongside Waterman’s blog as a home for considered, thoughtful opinion.

Of course no discussion of Brentford in 2014-5 can avoid the unceremonious parting of the ways with manager Mark Warburton in the season’s run in. Avoiding the inclination to side with club policy, Stalinist style, Waterman takes care to provide opposing points of view and this is the correct decision given that none of us know the real story behind the ex-city trader’s departure and the unusual way in which it was handled.

On the face of it, Warburton, now shooting turkeys in charge of Glasgow Rangers, seemed the perfect fit for Matthew Benham’s stat attack. With a background forged among metrics and variables, the fit was obviously a good one and it seems that less than 100% control over recruitment was the sticking point. Waterman correctly predicts the emergence this season of an ‘I told you so bandwagon’ and no sooner was 2015-6 underway than that particular vehicle could be seen riding into town. But Brentford have stabilised quite well under Lee Carsley and have now managed to tempt Dean Smith away from Walsall. Only a fool would write them off just yet.

Meanwhile, Waterman continues to type away and his musings provide much of interest, not just to Brentford fans, but to supporters of all clubs in the division, not to mention football as a whole. That comes on the back of 50 years supporting the club through thick and, let’s face it, mainly thin. So, the enthusiasm that pours from the page at such a stunningly successful season for the Bees is unsurprising; leaving anyone with an ounce of emotion warm inside.

Ahead of the Game by Greville Waterman
Published by Bennion Kearny 2015 : £15.99 from Amazon

I was totally bowled over by Rob’s kind words and for once almost find myself struggling to know what to say in response – a rare feeling as I am sure you all fully realise.

Recognition from an acclaimed football writer like Rob – even if he is a Reading fan – makes it all worthwhile as does the realisation that your words do matter as they are having an effect upon somebody and that readers are really enjoying and identifying with what you have written.

I love writing this blog and I am giving you all an advance warning that I am already well over one hundred and twenty-five thousand words into next year’s book with the season still less than halfway over and with much more activity anticipated at Griffin Park over the coming months. More grist to my mill I am sure!

Even though there is so much fertile material about the club and everybody associated with it that just begs to be written about, discussed and analysed, sometimes it is hard to find the time, energy and motivation to get it all down on paper, so to receive a boost like I did yesterday from Rob makes it all totally worthwhile.

Thank you once more and now – back to the grindstone!

Book Signing

imagesFormer Bees legend – to me anyway – Richard Lee will be joining me in the BFC Superstore at 1.30pm this Saturday before the Preston North End match to sign copies of Ahead Of The Game.

Richard is featured heavily in the book and also wrote a brilliant review of the season which outlined exactly what is was like to be in the dressing room last season as well as his carefully considered viewpoint on both Matthew Benham and Mark Warburton.

Even if you do not want to read my stuff, Richard’s chapter is well worth the price of the book by itself!

GW & Richard LeeIt would be great to meet fellow Brentford fans who hopefully enjoy my blog and perhaps those who have not yet bought a copy of Ahead Of The Game might now reconsider and come along on Saturday.

So far I have sold around 500 copies which is pretty good for a book on Brentford FC but hopefully with the help of all of you, and maybe a pre-Christmas rush too, we can at least double that figure which would mean that I should then be able to get another book published at the beginning of next season – if that’s what you all want!

Richard and I look forward to seeing you this Saturday!

Best wishes

Greville

Ahead Of The Game is available at the BFC Superstore, via the BFC website or on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/p6tsasj

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