Financially, I could not afford to go to Brentford, but that was overridden by the fact that I could not afford to miss out on watching football on a terrace. It brought me back to the glory days of supporting Hull City AFC, paying £3 to stand and watch miserable football and shout “Fish Out Dolan Out” all match, whilst Dewhurst hoofed and hoofed and hoofed.
Ahhh the good old days.
Being stationed in Bracknell at the moment (it looks like a large version of Orchard Park but everyone has a job and votes Tory), it was just a 50 minute and 10,000 stop train journey to Brentford, a team who had won 4 in a row, and looked on paper that they would provide quite a test.
And to an extent, in the first half they did provide a test for us. Having sunk a couple of beers at just £3.60 a pint – Hull prices (erm…maybe…but definitely not your average price down south anyway), and found our position just to the right of the goal – enough space to stand with my father and sister, and see comfortably with plenty of atmosphere generated by the low roof.
Just like a theatre, the lights went off when the game started (nice touch) and we got into action.
I’m not attempting a proper match report here – years of clubbing have affected the memory and bollocks am I going to sit there and tap notes into my Nokia 6310 all night. I haven’t really got a Nokia…but I really do want a proper brick phone from the 80’s.
Brentford looked the more likely to score in the opening stages, with McGregor having to make a couple of smart saves to stop them from taking an early lead. He did throughout the game (bar one moment which I’ll mention later) look totally in control, and unflappable. Perhaps a little too cool at one point in the first half with a Brentford attacker chasing him down but he got away with it.
Dawson did make a few errors of judgement in the first half too, which seemed uncharacteristic.
Going forwards, we didn’t really look threatening at all – time and again an Elmo cross would be wasted – sometimes bad crossing, but other times decent crosses were to the back post where, time and again, nobody was attacking the ball.
I struggle to recall a shot on goal from The Tigers. Yes, I can use our nickname again.
Overall, in terms of football, the first half was scrappy and dull. Brentford shaded it, though we always looked solid, and it would have taken something special or stupid for them to score. They really did look like they were missing a cutting edge up front – an Andre Grey for example.
In terms of camaraderie, it was a lot of fun. The atmosphere generated by being packed in a dark, small, enclosed terrace is something to behold – something much missed when at the KC, though I think we do ok for atmosphere at home. When we are playing well, anyway. And towards the end of the half, as the crowd slowly realised the football wasn’t that good, the enthusiasm for singing died a little too – although that was maybe partly due to the David Meyler song being on repeat from roughly the 15th minute of the game.
Though I am pleased to report that it is much more complimentary now.
Nobody joined in with my solo Fish Out Dolan Out effort. I did also appreciate the 0 1 4 8 2 Hull chant. Daft but make me chuckle.
Anyway, back onto the sideshow, and at half-time I was considering the benefits of bringing Diame on for Meyler. Not that Meyler had done anything wrong but I just felt that we lacked a little forward incision. Bruce clearly did not agree with me and made no changes. There are reasons why I am a bit-part blogger instead of a football manager.
The pendulum swung in the second half, as we started to push forwards more and Brentford seemed unable to push back.
Bit by bit we increased the pressure, Akbom was making some cutting runs with the ball at his feet, Clucas was threatening on the left – Obujado was making some good runs on the right though did occasionally lose the ball unnecessarily, as did Clucas.
I had just been discussing with myself whether Clucas would be able to make the step up to the Premiseriable League, I had my doubts to this point, so he than placed a delightful ball through to Robertson, who scored a gorgeous goal from inside the penalty area, on the left side. It really was a classy finish, and a deserved goal for the Scotsman who seems to be maturing in a similar way that Brady did under Bruce. Even his defending seems to be improving.
Brentford did have their opportunities to equalise. In particular they hit the post from 20 yards out, and also they then had an indirect free kick after McGregor picked up a blatant backpass. Memories of West Brom abounded but this was stoutly defended – it appeared that Robertson might have got the vital block in but it was difficult to see from the far end.
Bruce took our two strikers off on 73 and 81 minutes, to be replaced by Diame and Huddlestone, respectively. On paper, it seemed a formation change that Dolan would have been proud of, 4-6-0 but there were two objections to this. We actually looked more like scoring than before, and Dolan seemingly played 6-4-0 or 7-3-1 from my memory.
Diame was particularly impressive, clearly a class above anyone on the pitch with his control of the ball, ability to work defenders to create space for himself – Huddlestone also did well, with one particularly determined challenge in his own half, winning the ball and bringing it forward with a nice through ball which we sadly couldn’t finish. Diame is way off being fit enough for any more than a substitute appearance.
We upped the pressure further as the game went on, without really getting into 3rd gear, and this saw Clucas smash the ball into the net to guarantee the three points, and chants of “We’re going up as fucking champions”. I’m pretty sure Derby thought the same last year. Calm down, guys, girls and post-ops.
Meyler could have made it three as he went clear of the defence, but for a good save by the lesser Button. Whether the fans would have gone on the pitch as we sung, had he scored, is contentious.
And that ended a very pleasant evening, to that point. I really liked Brentford’s old-school ground. The fans I had spoken to were all polite and respectful, the stewards very friendly, the steward with the pineapple on his head lapped up the inevitable chanting aimed his way and the steward on the way out wished us a nice evening. All the pubs had a good mix of Brentford and Hull fans too.
I had time to kill so I went for a walk, bought some chips and a can of beer and sat down at the station awaiting my train.
On my platform were a couple of Brentford goons, to be polite, who were trying to goad the Hull fans on the opposite platform, when two characters on my platform, that got on the train with me at Bracknell earlier in the evening, started singing “We are top of the league”.
Volleys of abuse came their way from then two angry older men, one around 35, one around 50 who looked your typical south London football thug. I sat there eating my chips – I considered removing my Hull scarf for wanting to avoid association but I refused my own sensible request.
We all got on the train, me and the Hull lads on the last carriage, the thugs on the second-last carriage. When we arrived at our station to change, the doors never opened. Great. So when the train arrived at the next station, I went into the next carriage, where the other two Hull fans had moved to, and where our thugs remained at the other end of the carriage. Both goaded each other and the Brentford ‘fans’ laughably shouted “We’re filming you and we are going to put this on your website tomorrow”. Right…
The train crawled into the station as slow as it could, I just wanted to get off and the Brentford fans had enough of the cheap, silly verbals from the Hull lads and walked down the carriage to intimidate and also question my hairstyle (plenty of people do). We got off the train, I briskly walked along the platform and suddenly had a glass showering at my feet.
Nice. We waited 20 minutes for the train back to Feltham where we needed to change – when we got on the train and the doors had closed, said thugs had turned up to the station with a couple of their mates. Had the train turned up one or two minutes later, I might have been writing this from a hospital bed.
I had visions of them waiting for me at Bracknell station, but even if they were, they would have been out of luck as our train was stopped at a red signal at Ascot. After around 20 minutes, the train was cancelled due to a fire near Bracknell. You could call it karma for my teenage behaviour.
So three trains and a replacement bus later, I arrived back, probably not long before the Hull fans got to Hull. Quite some fire, by the way.
The thugs thankfully didn’t ruin a really fun evening, though it was a reminder to me as to why I go to nightclubs far more than football. That kind of behaviour is so unnecessary. Banter, yes, a little verbal abuse, fine, you pay all of our benefits, after all. But there is no need for physical aggression or threatening behaviour.
Which leads me nicely onto my next planned game – Leeds United. Slightly depends on finances, and of course being able to get a ticket as I am sure it will be popular with season ticket holders.
If not then it will be Burnley on Boxing Day. Oh the joys.