Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Fabled Five Finals

The phrase “cup final” is normally thrown about by football fans without actually thinking what the phrase means. To some, the FA cup final at Wembley is the ultimate “cup final”. To others, a last game of the season relegation dogfight at a ground where the pitch is more sand than grass would be worthy of the title.  But recently, the term has taken on a completely new meaning to the Brentford faithful.

Why’s that? Well, most teams have one cup final a year if they’re lucky. However, Brentford have had 5 cup finals in a row this season. 5 games to see us into 6th place and fire us into the play-off picture. Hartlepool, Notts County, Stevenage, Sheffield Wednesday and Chesterfield. Our cup final won’t be played at Wembley like last season, but rather at the traditional Griffin Park and the amazing B2Net Stadium.  As a fan, this is fine by me.

Let me give you a scenario and ask you a question. It’s May, and your team are in the relegation places in League One but you had a day out at Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint trophy final. Would you consider this a “successful season” simply because of a Wembley appearance? Or would you rather that you were out of the cup competitions by December, but had a chance of gatecrashing the play-offs come the end of May because of a great run of games? Well, the latter is the predicament that Brentford find themselves in this season, and what a fantastic place to be.

Normally, a league game lacks excitement, and it tends to feel like ‘just another game’. Our 5 cup finals has changed that feeling completely. I don’t tend to get pre-game nerves, at the end of the day I feel as though we have many games left to gain back the points we may have dropped. That’s changed in the last few weeks, as every Brentford fan knows full well that a loss is no longer acceptable, and to be fair a draw isn’t much good either. Only a win will do. The excitement, thrill and thought of the unknown just isn’t applicable to most league games, but is to these end of season match ups, and the atmosphere round Griffin Park couldn’t be better.

Which is strange. I recently purchased a fanzine from outside of Griffin Park entitled “Thorne in the Side” to see how other fans were writing about the season. What a shock I was in for. Rather than seeing intelligent discussion about whether Niall McGinn has been fully utilized or if the new signing Stuart Dallas will be a major coup for us, it was full of hate and distaste for Uwe Rosler and his Brentford team. This was not a fanzine. It was as though the most miserable, boring and brainless people in the world had assembled to simply slag off people that have done better than them. Or, to me, it seemed as though the “authors” of the fanzine were stuck in the past, constantly referring to past players who they seemed to think “played with some heart”. This coming from the people that seem to think the only player that had done something this season was Kevin O’Connor, even though he has been injured for most of it. It was neither intelligent nor well thought out, but the biggest waste of money ever.
Moving on, I have to once again sing Uwe Rosler’s praises. As seen in previous articles, Rosler has been up and down more times that a yo-yo in the views of some Brentford fans, which has been completely unjust. The signing of Clinton Morrison has been an act of pure genius, and has coincided with our great run of form. Why may that be? In my personal opinion, it’s because of the vibe that Morrison brings to the dressing room. Any one that has seen Clinton Morrison will understand full well when I say the bloke is a bit of a character. Its because of that, however, that the dressing room has seemed to pick up after slumps at Orient and Bournemouth and all of a sudden find themselves in the play-off picture. Its remarkable that one simple signing can produce fruits like this. If it hadn’t, mind you, I’m sure the authors at the ‘fanzine’ would be slating him for not scoring yet. Football is a strange, strange world unfortunately. 

The Notts County game at the weekend was one of the best games I have been to all season long. Of course, the crowd had swelled as a result of it being such a huge game, meaning an increase in the amount of ‘”floating fans”. This didn’t harm the atmosphere however, but made it a million times better. For once, all three sides of the ground were singing in unison, aided by a small army of children in the New Road stand that sang Brentford songs when no one else was. You could see the benefit of this to the players on the pitch, who played some very slick football that Barca would most definitely be proud of. We were the better side for most of the game, and it’s a huge shame that we came away from that game with a 0-0 score line. How Sam Saunder’s freekick was cleared off the line by the defender’s head when it should have nestled in the top corner is beyond me, but nevertheless it was a thoroughly good game. I just wish the 7000 fans that were there would come every week; our players seem to love the attention.

Although this season has been very much up and down, I believe it is vital that we remember that Brentford is a club in progress. Rome, or Manchester United in this instance, was not built in a day. Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t immediately make Man United into the fantastic team they are now overnight, and its crazy to think Uwe could do that with Brentford, who have a tiny, minuscular budget, which is smaller than even Shaun Wright-Phillips. However, with the eye that the management has for talent, I think next season will most definitely be a fantastic season for all connected with Brentford Football Club.  Let’s hope that we have a cup final and a promotion to enjoy!

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