CHAMPIONS Special eight-page pull-out on Brentford FCâ€™s triumphant League Two title-winning 2008/09 season brought to you by the Hounslow Chronicle
Sponsored by ROLFE EAST estate agents
Compiled by Jacob Murtagh and Tim Street
Brentford’s title win fittingly came in the testimonial season of one of their most loyal servants, Kevin O’Connor. Here King Kev picks his 10 pivotal moments of the season – some of which will bring a smile, others a wince... WINNING away at Rochdale and Shrewsbury within the space of a few weeks showed everyone, as well as ourselves, we meant business. To not only go and win at our promotion rivals, but to do it in some style, made people sit up and take notice.
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■ ALL SMILES: Jordan Rhodes scores late on at Accrington
BEATING Grimsby 4-0 in our opening home game kick-started our season after losing the opening game at Bury, and at Swansea in the League Cup. Spirits weren’t too low. We didn’t play well at Bury, but Swansea wasn’t a bad performance. They finished strongly two leagues above, so it was no disgrace. DARLINGTON away was when we won promotion, and I was gutted not to be there. The gaffer only wanted the match-day squad travelling, and I was still injured. I was sitting watching the results come through on Sky Sports News, which was nerve-racking at first, but once we went 3-0 up I was able to relax. I THOUGHT we were unlucky getting knocked out of the FA Cup at Barrow, especially as we had already avoided one banana skin at Havant & Waterlooville. If Ben Hamer hadn’t got sent off I think we would have won, but at least it allowed us to concentrate on the league with no distractions. THE LATE equalisers at home to Wycombe and Exeter led to vital points against our promotion rivals, and, more importantly, took points off them. We thoroughly deserved them both as we led for most of the game against Wycombe, and we battered Exeter for long periods. THERE were also last-minute dramatics against Notts County and Bradford at home, gaining late points rather than dropping them, like we did during the run-in in the second season under Martin Allen. Coming back with 10 men against Notts County showed we had some steel about us, while the Bradford ■ MAC ATTACK: Charlie MacDonald celebrates his goal against Grimsby
game showed we never give up – scoring late, conceding late, but still coming back again. KEEPING to the theme, the late equaliser Jordan Rhodes scored at Accrington may not be remembered as fondly as his hat-trick at Shrewsbury, but it was vital. Not only did it send us to the top of the table for the first time, but it ended our poor run of defeats up north, especially midweek ones.
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CHESTER away was a night to forget. Too many players had off-nights, and a few home truths were told in the dressing room afterwards. We realised we couldn’t just turn up at these places and expect
I THINK the nerves just got to the lads for the Dagenham away game. There had been such a big build-up, with everyone saying we would be promoted if we won. But Dagenham are a very good side, and we deserved to be beaten on the night. BOURNEMOUTH away was such a vital win as we had gone five games without one, and all the injuries were starting to kick in. You could see the emotions spilling over with what happened with Karleigh and Powelly, but it just showed how much we wanted it.
■ For more on Kevin O’Connor’s testimonial, see www.kevinoconnortestimonial.com
■ BRENTFORD STALWART: Kevin O’Connor
HE HAS been released by Brentford boss Andy Scott – but Adam Newton was voted player of the year by our readers. Newts romped to victory with more than 35 per ■ SECOND cent of the online vote, SPOT: almost twice as many Alan as second-placed Alan Bennett Bennett, while Sam Wood scooped third following an outstanding first season in league
football. But even former Peterborough United utility man Newton admits he was shocked by the award. He said: “I’ve got to say I’m surprised, to be honest! But it’s nice that people acknowledge what I did during my time at the club. “The fans were always great to me, and it means a lot because it’s their vote.” Newts was shown the Griffin Park exit door less than 12 months after being made captain by Scott. He spent last campaign in and out of the side, rotating with John Halls, Karleigh Osborne and Marvin Williams on the right flank.
■ GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Adam Newton
A view from the terraces
WHAT SCOTTY SAID “OF COURSE we deserve it. We have been the best side in the division. Everyone who’s played a part this season has given me everything. “I was fortunate 10 years ago to win it as a player. To do it in my first full season as manager tops that by a long shot. “We will have to work even harder next year to make sure we keep pushing forward. We’re looking to move forward at a rate the club can sustain. We are not going to get into financial problems because we run things properly. “We’ll have Charlton, Brighton, Southampton, Brighton, Norwich, Wycombe, Orient, Millwall - it is massive for the club financially next year. “I want to be a manager at the top level. How I get there is another matter. “We want to try and establish ourselves as a League One club then hopefully get into the Championship. I want to be the man who pushes us forward.”
■ Two Bees fans give their thoughts on the season SUPES
■ MY HERO! Smiffy (right) with Bees skipper Kevin O’Connor
SMIFFY AFTER enduring seven hours of hell on the M6, we arrived at Accrington at half-time feeling wet and freezing cold in early February. The chips had sold out, we missed the half-time girly show, and when the action started again there was a pretty flat atmosphere, on a
terrible pitch. But the 11-hour round trip was worth it thanks to the clinical last-gasp equaliser from Jordan Rhodes, assisted by John Halls’ incisive pass. It clinched a point, put Scotty’s Bees top and we never looked back. Two players who will not be at the club next season but played their part, like so many others, in the championship win.
THE last-gasp win against Bradford in December showed that we had a team with real character, capable of delivering when it mattered. The demolition of Shrewsbury the following month was awesome, and Rochdale a few weeks later was just as good. We picked up a joyous habit of getting late goals at home, in front of big crowds too, which was great to see. The atmosphere at Bournemouth, and the final whistle and ensuing scenes, were simply first class – a real moment of reckoning. Scotty loved it! Darlington – with champagne on the train, the team bus being mobbed in Braemar Road, and Andy and some of the players coming to The Griffin – was just an unforgettable day all round. And the tension-free joy of the Luton match, and lengthy celebration in The Globe, was pure, unadulterated fun.
■ GIVE US A HUG! Supes smothers Sam Wood after the Bees players arrived back from Darlington
Story of the season BRENTFORD looked anything but championship material when they opened their season with a 1-0 defeat at Bury back in August. But it was not surprising the team looked disjointed. The week leading up to the game had seen Brentford send Leigh Mills, who had signed on a season-long loan, back to Spurs, leaving the Bees with no first-choice centre-backs. Alan Bennett was brought back on loan from Reading on the eve of the game, along with James Wilson. Wilson’s Bristol City team-mate, Frankie Artus, also arrived to fill in for Gary Smith, who was also crocked days before the game. A Coca-Cola Cup first round exit to a good Swansea side followed, before Brentford finally got their season going by thrashing Grimsby 4-0. A nervy win 1-0 win at Barnet was followed by a goalless bore draw with Rotherham, before the Bees embarked on an unbeaten September. Following an JPT win over Yeovil on penalties, draws with Wycombe and Lincoln were sandwiched by two games in which Brentford started to show their true potential, a hardfought 2-1 home win over Dagenham and a classy 1-0 win at Chesterfield. ■ DIRECTING OPERATIONS: Andy Scott
October saw some inconsistent form from Andy Scott’s men, beating Macclesfield, before being held by Notts County and Aldershot and exiting the JPT to Luton, again on penalties. Things were looking up when they held promotion rivals Shrewsbury to a 1-1 draw and finally beat bogey side Morecambe, but then came the season’s low point, a 3-0 away defeat to a struggling Chester side, who had not won in 15 games. A home loss to Rochdale followed, and Bees fans feared an upset when handed a televised FA Cup, first round tie at renowned giant-killers Havant & Waterlooville. But the banana skin was avoided with a 3-1 win and Brentford were back with a bang, winning 3-0 at Port Vale before holding another promotion rival in Darlington, and winning at Luton. And, although they saw out November with an FA Cup exit to non-league Barrow, where Ben Hamer was sent off, Brentford began to look like real title contenders in December. Having opened the scoring with seven minutes left against Bradford, they managed to ship a last-minute equaliser, but came back to win it in injury time through Nathan Elder. Then came a hard-fought at draw
■ SMILE, YOU’RE ON TV: Nathan Elder nets as Brentford beat Havant & Waterlooville
Gillingham after Elder was sent off, and wins over Bournemouth and Exeter. The turn of the year saw a mini-blip, with draws against Lincoln and Notts County again, Elder once more harshly red-carded in the latter by controversial ref Stuart Attwell, and a miserable defeat at Macclesfield. But the loan signing of Jordan Rhodes gave the side a boost, and they responded by destroying Aldershot 3-0, before seeing out January with a brilliant 3-1 win at Shrewsbury, in which Rhodes bagged a magnificent first-half hat-trick. Three days later,
■ LET’S CELEBRATE: Sam Wood and David Hunt
Morecambe got their revenge with a 2-0 win, before Brentford got some revenge of their own by thrashing Chester 3-0. The Bees only seemed to be having troubles on long Tuesday night trips up
north, and away games in the northwest. But a turning point came when Rhodes hit a last-minute equaliser on a Tuesday night in Accrington to break the curse. Suddenly the Bees were bubbling with confidence, and a home win over Port Vale was followed by vital victories over two promotion rivals, beating Rochdale 2-1 away before edging past Bury 1-0 at home. March began with Brentford racking the miles up, with a midweek win at Grimsby, followed by a goalless draw at Rotherham, in which a horrific double fracture of the cheekbone and eye socket ended Elder’s season. But Rhodes and Charlie MacDonald carried on scoring, as the Bees beat
■ HAVING A LAUGH: Marvin Williams and Karleigh Osborne
Barnet 1-0 again and played out an amazing 3-3 draw with Wycombe, new loan signing Sam Williams netting a late equaliser. But disaster struck when they lost Rhodes and MacDonald to season-ending injuries in successive home games, a 1-0 loss to Chesterfield and a 1-1 draw with Gillingham. Brentford started to look lethargic, and with strikers dropping like flies, Scott dipped into the transfer market before the deadline to bring in Damian Spencer, former Bee Darren Powell, and, crucially, Billy Clarke. Clarke netted vital goals in 1-1 draws with Bradford and Exeter before heading home the winner at Bournemouth as Brentford settled the nerves with their first win in five. Emotions spilled over in the Bournemouth game, as Powell was sent-off for fighting with his own team-mate, Karleigh Osborne, but the Bees kept their discipline five days later with a routine 3-0 home win over Accrington to put themselves on the verge of promotion. A midweek game at Dagenham gave them that opportunity, but the Daggers did not read the script and were worthy 3-1 winners. However, not only could Brentford still secure promotion at Darlington four days later, but even the title if other results went their way. A win was never in doubt from the moment Darlo were reduced to 10 men after a minute, Alan White sent off for an assault on Spencer. Bennett opened the scoring and Clarke notched twice as the Bees won 3-1, and with Wycombe failing to win at Port Vale, Brentford were champions! And so to the formality of a last home game against Luton, in which Osborne and Adam Newton put the icing on the cake to earn a 2-0 win.
What the players had to say BEN HAMER: “I’m only 21, and to get my first promotion is the highlight of my career. There’s not a lot of young keepers about getting regular games. It’s been great that Andy Scott’s brought me down here. I’ve loved every minute of it.” Our view: The Reading loan star was an almost ever-present for the Bees. He made the number one spot his own with some fine shotstopping, and is set for a bright future in the game.
ADAM NEWTON: “The Bournemouth away game was so important for us. To win like we did after going down to 10 men was brilliant. We came off the pitch that day feeling like we had won the league. We knew it was in our hands.” Our view: Newts started the season as club captain but found himself in and out of the side, rotated with John Halls, Marvin Williams and Karleigh Osborne, but proved to be a vital experienced head for the run-in.
ALAN BENNETT: “I’ve had four clubs in two seasons, but this is the first place I’ve felt at home since I left Cork. It was special leading the side home, and to score such a vital goal at Darlo was great.” Our view: Benno has been a rock at the heart of the Bees defence since signing on loan, helping them to the best record in the division. He always put his head in where it hurts.
MARK PHILLIPS: “I was injured for the FA Cup final at Millwall, but this makes up for it. The home clash with Notts County was a massive game. Nathan got sent off then we went 1-0 down early on. But we battled back with 10 men and I managed to head home an injurytime equaliser to keep our run going.” Our view: There were doubts about Phillips’ fitness after more than a year out through injury, but the no-nonsense centre-half was formidable.
JAMES WILSON: “It was a brilliant experience and, being my first taste of professional football, something I will never forget. I’ll always look out for their results.” Our view: Willo was a revelation at centre-back during his three-month stint at Griffin Park. He showed similarities to former Bee Michael Turner, and signed a new four-year deal at Bristol City.
RYAN DICKSON: “It was a great season. The away game at Shrewsbury sticks out. They had one of the best home records in the division, but we soaked up the pressure and Jordan scored a half-hour hat-trick.” Our view: Dicko struggled through injury in the early part of the season, before making the left-back spot his own. Capped season with a fine solo effort against Accrington.
KARLEIGH OSBORNE: “It’s helped erase the memory of relegation. It’s the best moment of my career. We’ve had our ups and downs, but every time we’ve bounced back.” Our view: Karleigh has answered his critics with some fine performances at right back. He also scored some important goals, including a late equaliser at home to Darlington, as well as home and away against Port Vale.
BRETT JOHNSON: “Being a Brentford fan, winning the league means everything to me. I’ve watched us lose in the play-offs, so to be part of it is a dream come true.” Our view: Brett plugged the gaps at the back at the start of the season, before falling behind Ryan Dickson in the pecking order. A busted collar bone put paid to his season, and he was released at the end of the campaign.
JOHN HALLS: “They are a great bunch of lads with a lot of ability, and all it came down to getting the coaching and tactics right, which Andy Scott and Terry Bullivant did. We didn’t lose much, and when we did we, came back stronger.” Our view: John always looked a class above most League Two opponents. Impressed with some silky skills, but never really nailed down a place in the side.
CRAIG PEAD: “I was told I wasn’t in the gaffer’s plans last summer, but to force my way back into the side was really pleasing, especially the draw at Wycombe. Unfortunately, I got injured and missed the rest of the season.” Our view: Peady started the season in the side, despite being transfer-listed by Andy Scott. However, a persistent knee injury sidelined him for the rest of the campaign and sadly ended his career.
SAM WOOD: “Coming from non-league, my debut against Bury sticks out as it was my 22nd birthday. My first professional goal against Exeter was another highlight.” Our view: Just over a year ago Woody was working in a clothes shop while playing in Blue Square South with Bromley. Fast forward 12 months and he’s got a winners medal and swept the board at Brentford’s awards night.
MARCUS BEAN: “After not playing regularly for a year, it was good to just get regular games again. I feel I’m getting back to my best, and am looking forward to the challenge in League One.” Our view: After ending a nightmare start to his Bees career when he was sent off against Swansea, Bean bounced back to become almost an ever-present in the middle of the park. He finished the season as second-top scorer.
OTHERS: SIMON BROWN, MIKKEL ANDERSEN, DARREN POWELL, DAMIEN SCANNELL, JOSH WRIGHT, FRANKIE ARTUS, MOSES
KEVIN O’CONNOR: “There must have definitely been some kind of curse on us to lose four strikers to season-ending injuries when it came to the business end. But fair play to the gaffer, I don’t know if he can see into the future, but we certainly needed all those new bodies he brought in.” Our view: Kev started his testimonial season as a fringe player, but O’Connor made a central midfield spot his own until his season was ended by injury.
GARY SMITH: “When you start playing football, this is what you want. It’s been a tough season for with injuries, but to see everyone happy is brilliant.” Our view: Smudger did his ankle two days before the start of the season, and it ended up keeping him out for most of the campaign. A really good playmaker when fit, it was just a shame that we didn’t see enough of him in a red and white shirt, before he was released by boss Andy Scott.
DAVID HUNT: “When I arrived in January I knew I was coming in as back-up. I didn’t expect to play as much as I did, but was glad to be able to play a big part and score a couple of vital goals.” Our view: Just like himself, Brentford fans didn’t expect to see much of Hunt when he signed as cover. But once he broke into the side, Hunt became one of the Bees’ most important players during the run-in.
GLENN POOLE: “Two or three years ago if you had told me I’d be playing in the Football League I would’ve laughed at you. But to be in a championship-winning team is the highlight of my career.” Our view: After a bright start to the season, Pooley fell down the pecking order at Griffin Park. Sam Wood’s form left Glenn playing second fiddle. Was released, but will be fondly remembered for some of his wonder goals.
MARVIN WILLIAMS: “It was a special moment for me scoring my first goal for the club at Luton as I had my celebrations ready for my new-born little boy. But for me, the pivotal moment for the team was the 2-0 win at Exeter after Christmas.” Our view: Marvin never quite fulfilled his potential at GP but never gave anything less than honest performances, none more so than at Gillingham as a lone striker.
CHARLIE MacDONALD: When I came to the club I wanted three things: to be successful, score goals and win promotion. Luckily, I’ve done all three.” Our view: Charlie Mac has been Brentford’s most prolific goalscorer since Lloyd Owusu and Ben Burgess. Only injury prevented him reaching the 20-goal mark after racking up 18 goals in all competitions.
NATHAN ELDER: “I’ve waited my whole career for this. To win the league is brilliant. The injury was obviously disappointing, but it’s healing well and I will be back fighting fit for pre-season.” Our view: It’s been a bit of a stop-start season for Brentford’s number nine. Two red cards saw him miss seven games through suspension. And just when he was finding his best form again, Elder suffered a shocking injury at Rotherham.
DEAN BOWDITCH: “It was good to get games under my belt having not been playing at Ipswich. I chipped in with a few goals as well, which was pleasing.” Our view: Little did Bees fans know it, but Bowditch would pave the way for a string of loan stars from Portman Road. Played on the wing and up front, and scored a cracker in the 2-2 draw at Lincoln City just after Christmas.
JORDAN RHODES: “The hat-trick at Shrewsbury was a massive highlight, but the equaliser at Accrington meant more. We had had some bad defeats, and I scored in the 95th minute and went over and celebrated with my dad, who hardly ever gets to watch me as he’s the goalkeeping coach at Preston North End.” Our view: Jordan bagged some important goals to help Brentford to the top of the table, before getting injured for the run in.
BILLY CLARKE: “It’s been great scoring goals and adding another promotion to my CV. All the lads have been brilliant. I’ve had a lot of loan spells, but this has been the most enjoyable.” Our view: Many fans feared the worst when Jordan Rhodes and Charlie Mac got crocked, but Scotty pulled another joker out of the Ipswich Town pack. The pocket-sized Irishman bagged six goals in eight games to help Brentford over the line.
SAM WILLIAMS: “The game at Bournemouth will live with me forever. The fans were amazing that day. We had a man sent off and were up against it, but we held on. We knew then we were up, and the celebrations were incredible.” Our view: Sam did his best to fill the void left after Elder’s injury. Not a natural target man, Williams chipped in with some important goals during his loan spell from Aston Villa.
DAMIAN SPENCER: “I came in as the gaffer needed another big man up front while Nathan Elder was out, and I think I did all right. Unfortunately, I only played five games rather than eight, as I had a couple of injuries myself, but the lads did brilliantly.” Our view: Damian may have only played five games but will always have a place in the hearts of Bees fans, if only for the horrific injury he sustained at Darlington.
ADEMOLA , ALAN CONNELL , LEWIS OCHOA, ERIC ODHIAMBO, LLOYD ANDERSON, SEB BROWN AND ROSS MONTAGUE
PICTURE SPECIAL - BRENTFORD 2 LUTON TOWN 0 - THE BEES FINISH THE SEASON IN STYLE AND LIFT THE LEAGUE TWO CHAMPIONSHIP HOU020509sebren07 HOU020509sebren24
PICTURE SPECIAL - DARLINGTON 1 BRENTFORD 3 - THE BEES SECURE THE LEAGUE TWO TITLE WITH ONE GAME STILL LEFT TO PLAY Picture by Gary Paul
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