A Hat-trick Of Reasons Why Brentford Are Special
Regular Beesotted contributor and Press Association journalist, Jim Levack, gives three great reasons why he thinks Brentford Football Club are truly special.
I suppose fans of every club harbour an intense, heartfelt belief that the side they’ve chosen or had thrust upon them is the best in the country.
That’s the inherent beauty of football and its tribal element, which as long as it doesn’t tend towards territorial behaviour and trouble, is something we need to nurture to keep it competitive and real.
But when people ask my ‘Why Brentford?’ I am always unequivocal.
First, there’s the fact I was born just up the road in Perivale and my dad, grandad and close family all supported through the good and – mostly – bad times.
But there’s something else that’s always been difficult to put my finger on. It’s a special-ness, a unique feeling, a shared healthy cynicism, a delight at beating the odds.
A couple of weeks ago a neutral wrote a lovely piece about the Ealing Road end and how it’s spirit was the last flickering flame of real terrace ‘homes’ as football grounds up and down the nation turn into faceless new-built stadia.
I’m sure much will be written about Griffin Park as our move edges closer, but the one thing that heartens me is that we are a club with such strong values run by people with the same.
A hat-trick of things this week have brought that home to me even more and gone a little way to answering the question – why is our club so special?
He’ll hate me for bringing this up, but here’s a bloke so well respected that the players clubbed together to buy him a watch as he celebrated a landmark birthday (… 50 plus). He is Brentford to the core but importantly a nice guy with time for everyone.
I stood on the half way line next to him as the Leeds first half masterclass neared its end and we looked at each other. I thought he was going to cry. No words were needed. He shook his head and looked back at the football like a proud parent. He looked back at me and said “amazing”. I nodded. We’d both seen enough rubbish to know that that first 45 minutes was something truly special.
Quite possibly cut from the same mould as Peter Gilham, he is rightly being honoured with the Sir Tom Finney Award by the Football league for his dedicated and loyal service to our club. Sure, other clubs have players like him but they’re usually gnarled old pros with little time for others.
My dealings with Kevin down the years have always been like chatting to a mate, and yes, I walk away feeing like he’s the kind of person I’d liked to have been if I’d had slightly more talent/taken up Wimbledon’s kind offer of an apprentice deal instead of doing A levels and ending up writing stuff like this (am I bitter? Not a bit of it. Well okay, maybe a little).
Even when he was the team’s spokesman during the disastrous reign of Eddie May, he’d chat away to me about the mood in the camp as I pressed him for any voices of dissent. I’d always scour my shorthand and realise that he’d dead batted all my probing questions with skill and dexterity.
I knew there was a story to be told, he knew there was too but his loyalty to the club was so great that there’d be no way he’d spill the beans.
Football-wise you don’t get to where he has got to by being anything less than totally driven, but the skill is in balancing that with being a good person.
Our club has a lot of those. Maybe that’s what makes us special.
Another case in point is the Danish international. I’ve never spoken to him because I’m usually filing copy when the players make their exits these days, but I’ve seen enough to know that he’s an incredibly grounded, humble and pleasant chap.
When he scored that header against Bristol City, I reckon 80% of strikers would have stayed on the floor after a bump in the box. He was up like a shot and got his reward. Being genuine and honest are qualities I admire.
The video he featured in recently when he visited a local school was just wonderful and probably the inspiration for writing this piece. I’d implore any Brentford fan to watch it.
There he was chatting with three lads after a day cooking. First off, he still has his pinny on, a miracle in itself in these days where footballers are image-driven and sometimes rather sad characters.
He’s coaxing them to give answers, joking with them, he’s natural, clearly intelligent and, most importantly, wants to be there. Wonderful stuff that had me smiling from start to finish.
My day job these days means I’m involved quite heavily with organisations like Triumph Motorcycles – writing this digital magazine www.fortheride.com if escaping the daily grind is your thing – and have learned that good companies like that are built on strong values that run through the business like a name through a stick of rock.
The advent of the Brentford B team and people like Kevin in charge of it who are ensuring those same values are ingrained in our young players’, is something to be treasured.
If you have values you can look yourself in the mirror and, irrespective of results, say you’re doing the right thing. Usually if you live by the values, you get the right people willing to work for the right reasons and that brings results.
Another reason why I’ve always been 100% behind Dean Smith and the group of people we currently have at our very special football club.