For most of our lifetimes Brentford has been a football club to patronise. A little West London outfit with a quaint stadium with a pub on each corner. A team we played against regularly in Division 3 (South) and in the First Division in the late 1930s but who subsequently competed below our level for over sixty years.
Yes, we shared a pitch with them now and then when we dropped to the third tier but we soon left them behind again. In the glorious 2011/12 promotion season we beat them home and away and, when they joined us in The Championship two years later, they just managed to hold us to a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park before we saw them off 3-0 at home. It seemed like they knew their place.
The tide began to turn the following year as we slumped towards relegation. Brentford's 3-0 win at The Valley in October put us in the bottom three and resulted in the sacking of Guy Luzon. Although we won 2-1 at their place five months later we were by that time seven points adrift of safety. Meanwhile Brentford were to end up in a comfortable 9th place and in their five successive years back in The Championship they have always managed a the top half finish.
This success and stability was not achieved overnight. Back in 2006, The Brentford Supporters Trust (Bees United) had, with a combination of loans, supporter donations and funds from fan Matthew Benham, bought out Ron Noades’ controlling shareholding of the club to become London’s first professional football club owned by its supporters. Benham - a supporter since his teenage years - made his money in the gambling industry and, in 2012 he purchased the controlling shareholding of the club from The Trust. Despite changes of manager - Mark Warburton replaced by Dean Smith, followed by Thomas Frank - the club's fortunes have continued to rise under his stewardship and they are expected to move into a new 17,250 capacity stadium in the summer of 2020.
And, painfully for Charlton fans, "little" Brentford were able to turn a handsome £9m profit this summer by selling Ezri Konsa to Aston Villa just fifteen months after stealing him from us for £2.5m. When Roland Duchatelet claimed on TalkSport that no-one would buy Charlton because every Championship club owner needed £15m a year just to make ends meet it was pointed out to him by former Palace owner Simon Jordan that a well-run club like Brentford proved what nonsense he was spouting.
But is the tide turning back? Having sold last season's leading scorer Neil Maupay to Brighton (a £10m profit) and having failed to secure Lyle Taylor, Brentford are having a problem scoring goals this season, with only two in their first four games. They have only conceded four but, although a 1-0 defeat at Leeds on Wednesday was not a bad result, losing to Birmingham and drawing with Hull at home were disappointments. Their only win so far was 1-0 at Middlesbrough.
Charlton's scintillating first half performance against Forest will have struck fear into watching Brentford scouts. The speed and pace of the passing and movement was exhilarating and Erhun Oztumer had a highly impressive first team debut twenty years after first joining the club as an eight year old.
When Fred Whitlow scored a brace against Bristol City at The Valley on September 14th 1929 he set a record of scoring in the first five games of the season. Lyle Taylor will surely get an opportunity to equal that record on Saturday. Make sure you are there to witness it.