Brentford Away 2005: Stinging the Bee Hive on Halloween

Brentford Away 2005: Stinging the Bee Hive on Halloween

Going to the Brentford away match as an AFC Bournemouth fan should have been easy, as in terms of away matches, its pretty close!! It was in my third full season as an AFC Bournemouth regular that I took the trip to Griffin Park, home of Brentford FC, The Bees. I also liked to refer to the stadium as ‘The Beehive’, though I’m really not sure whether I made this up myself, or it is actually a nickname used by football fans to describe Brentford’s home stadium. The previous few seasons we always used to lose to Brentford away, though beat them at home. On this ocassion they were play off hopefuls and the previous season had been play off semi finalists before they chickened out and Sheffield Wednesday came down to anihilate them on the pitch. This match however was two weeks after I had been to Layer Road and watched the Cherries win 1-0 against a very very strong Colchester United side. At the time of the Brentford match I was living, working and studying in Bournemouth, Dorset. The previous Tuesday night Brian Stock, the AFC Bournemouth midfielder had done some shopping at Tesco and I served him while working on the till. I used to talk to Stocky quite a lot, he would often come to my till in Tesco at Branksome, Poole and chat away about the football. Brian Stock remained optimistic that we could win at Brentford. I wasn’t so sure…but I had 4 tickets booked for me and three mates and I was off on another in a long line of Cherries away matches!

The day started with a 6 am Megabus from Bournemouth – London. When I got off at London Victoria I noticed there were problems on the Central Line, which I had expected to use to meet Neil (and his mates Chris and Lee) at Ealing Broadway, so now a plan B was needed as I was relying on good old Red London Buses, which as good as they are, are much slower than the tube. I managed to get a tube to Marble Arch, where the central line stopped that day for engineering works. Then it was a case of a bus, which went slow and was Hammersmith via Shepherd’s Bush. Kind of on the right track for Brentford, which is near Twickenham and situated in South West London. They are classed as a London club generally, but the address is actually in Middlesex. A few text messages from Neil and he decided it would be just as quick to meet me at Shepi B. So I got off the bus at Shepi B and headed to the Wetherspoon’s for 10 am. The Wetherspoon’s there started serving alcohol so first beer of the day coincided with me giving Neil a red sparkly glitter horny devil halloween style wig. I had one as well, it was just before halloween and we played in red, so off we set! After that pint, we headed on any buses/tubes we could. A few changes on buses up through Chiswick and we were at Ealing Broadway, where we could pub crawl it to Brentford…

We met up with Chris and Lee (2 of Neil’s workmates) in The North Star pub at Ealing Broadway. We had a beer and a few matches of pool in there. I also had got in touch with Richard (Ealing Green), who was a frequent poster on the Northern Ireland fans forum ‘Our Wee Country.’ Richard was based at Ealing and was going to the Brentford match that day (as a home fan) so I agreed it would be a good idea to meet him for a pint. That would be after the match though. It was interesting that Neil and I turned up in these bars dressed ridiculously stupid in retrospect, with silly red wigs on. Actually why the fuck not? Only one life isn’t it? Though Lee and Chris did think it was a bit nuts. Lee is a West Ham fan, Neil a Millwall fan and Chris believe it or not a Leeds fan. However for today all four would be Cherries fans. We then went into a pub called Finnegan’s Wake, where more pool was played and more beer sank. Then it was Roddy’s bar on the walk down as we neared Griffin Park. Griffin Park is the only football stadium in the UK to have four (non-club related) pubs on each corner of the stadium. We were going to do all four, but time was running close to kick off so we did the one on the first corner, which seemed to be a bit of a Glasgow Celtic Bar (I wore my Northern Ireland flag draped over my shoulder to stir it up as usual…) and for once I enjoyed a plastic pint glass for my bitter. I think we got a pastie each in there before heading with our student tickets to the terraced away section, which doesn’t have a cover and the rain wasn’t too heavy that day. No bar inside the ground, but we got front row standing area for kick off. All was set!

Well it didn;t take us long to go nuts. After 20 minutes we were in dreamland. Loan star James Keene and my Tesco mate Brian Stock both banged in early goals to give us a totally unexpected 2-0 lead with the match not even a quarter gone! We went wild behind the nets where Hayter, Keene and Stock celebrated their strikes against a ropey Brentford defence. The stadium itself is a nice one. With our end the away end standing section without a roof. The opposite end being a small but attractive two tier stand, also standing room only for the home fans. On either side were seating sections, both mainly home fans, though for 20 minutes of the second half I sat in the stand to the left of the terraced bit just to experience it. I much preferred the terracing. The second half as I recall was a non event! We had already the three points in the bag and unfortunately Josh Gowling had gotten injured (which would keep him out for months). As it turned out, Brentford didn’t threaten us much at all and the three easy points belonged to us! I posed for photos with my Northern Ireland flag and applauded the team off the pitch. It’s hard to believe that the next match after this that we played Brentford in (May 2006) was the last match of the season and had they won it they would have been promoted to The Championship AUTOMATICALLY at the expense of the much superior Colchester United team. But we drew 2-2 with them and Brentford finished third that season, losing again in the play off semi final (this time Swansea chinned them). Anyhow, the match was over so we headed to the pub for that celebratory pint. A beer after the match on a Saturday ALWAYS tastes better when you’ve won. We did another pub on the corner of the stadium, this time The Griffin, where Richard met us for a beer.

Lee and Chris headed off soon after that, but Neil and I hung around before getting two party buses back to Neil’s place. Neil has lived in many and various places since I have known him, including a house full of people who pay £50 for a belt, a house with a shit oven and a place in Boscombe with a kitchen in the bedroom! This time he was sharing with religious people at Northolt. Neil is a very good mate and I am always welcome to stay at his. It goes vice versa, but I always end up staying at his. This time I was off work till the Monday night (in Tesco) so had planned to stay in London the Saturday night. Neil and I went back got some dinner and then decided it was time to go out again. My mate Ben Paulley and his band (The Waves: see another post on here about my time as band manger of The Waves) were due to play at The Playhouse in London that night and Neil and I wanted a chilled out night. We were sorted. A few tubes and buses (plus a random dear pint at Maida Vale) and we were at The Playhouse drinking Guinness watching The Waves and two other bands play a rock show in a dingy wee rock bar near Baker Street. We must have grabbed another quick pint somewhere else before we headed home on night buses to Neil’s place. Another fabulous Cherries away match day trip was over and what a day it had been. Aged 25 I had a lot of energy, I’m not sure I could do another day out like the Brentford one just as easily next time. Here’s to good times and three points to the Cherries!