After last winning promotion to the First Division in 1935, it took Brentford 31,449 days to retake their position in the top tier of English football, when they hosted Arsenal on a balmy night in August 2021 and surprised a worldwide audience of more than a billion fans with a famous victory.

But would the stunning opening night triumph prove to be a false dawn? How would the Bees – Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow, – cope with the challenge of the Premier League where they would face clubs whose resources, squad depth, and quality dwarfed their own? Could a team that began the season without a single player who had started a Premier League match compete on a level playing field? Would Brentford’s revolutionary methods – under charismatic manager Thomas Frank – eye-pleasing play, and tactical nous be enough to ensure Premier League survival?

Written with the full co-operation of the club and including exclusive interviews with players and officials, Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow follows Brentford’s debut season at home – in their beautiful Brentford Community Stadium – and away, as they took on the 2021/22 season.

Detailing matches, rumours, signings and departures – including the arrival and impact of Christian Eriksen – and offering behind-the-scenes information plus historical insights, author Greville Waterman paints a fascinating picture of a club with an indelible bond, connection, and sense of unity with its supporters and local community.

Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow? Absolutely not!


(Publisher: Hawksmoor Publishing. July 2022. Paperback: 400 pages)

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 24 (Part 1) – Saturday 22 February 2020: Brentford v Blackburn Rovers

“The BIG Weekend!”

Matchday programme cover

At the beginning of the year Paul and I had started making plans to go and see Brentford at their Griffin Park ground before they moved to their new home, the Brentford Community Stadium. Paul had initially sent me a message confirming that he had bought a ticket and his seat number in the Braemar Road Stand for the Brentford versus Blackburn Rovers game on Saturday 22 February. I was all over the Brentford website in an instant and managed to book the seat next to him. Stage 1 of the plan achieved.

Then Sky TV intervened. The game was selected to be televised so what was a 3.00pm kick off was moved back to 12.30pm. So being the good Project Manager that I am I did a quick SWOT analysis. Strength – the game was still on. Weakness – change of kick-off time, so needed to get to the ground earlier, thankfully I would already be in London, but more of that later. However, Paul had to be able to change his train ticket to get down and across London in time. Opportunity – we could go to more than one game and try to get to a 3.00pm kick off in too. Threat – transport between games. However, I had arranged to take my car to London for the weekend. Good contingency planning and mitigation!

So which other game could we attend? The following were all considered at some stage in our conversation.

  • Leyton Orient, Millwall and along with Griffin Park, were grounds in the capital I hadn’t attended. I have been pretty much to all the other grounds in London primarily following Chelsea including stadiums no longer used, such as Highbury, White Hart Lane, and Plough Lane. I’ve also attended games at both the old and new Wembley, but still had to visit the Emirates Stadium and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. In addition, I hadn’t visited Kingsmeadow, the home of AFC Wimbledon’s. On the Saturday of the Brentford fixture, The O’s (Leyton Orient) and The Dons (AFC Wimbledon) were both at home.
  • Harking back to my desire to watch on this journey previous FA Cup winners from the end of the 19th Century. The following teams still existed and had teams playing in the London area, however playing at a much lower level than the 10th tier of the football pyramid that AFC Darwen (whose forerunners Darwen FC who had featured in Netflix’s The English Game drama series). These included, Wanderers who play in the Surrey South Eastern Combination, Clapham Rovers of the Southern Sunday Football League, and Old Carthusians plying their trade in the Arthurian League.
  • There was also the option of non-league teams with Bromley, Dagenham & Redbridge, Sutton United, Welling United and Wealdstone all at home in the National League.

So what did we decide? All will be revealed in Part 2 of Match Day 24!

Griffin Park

This was to be Brentford’s final season at Griffin Park, and they would be starting the 2020/21 season in their new Community Stadium. Chelsea haven’t played at Griffin Park in the League since 1947 with their last visit in the FA Cup in January 2013. Whilst I was living in London, I was going to Chelsea home games and primarily only their away games with the capital. However, I have travelled further afield in my time following The Blues. I think my longest journey has been from London to Grimsby to see them promoted as Champions of the old Second Division (now the Championship). My only tenuous connection to Brentford was that I did play cricket in Hounslow and Griffin Park was the closest football club, and I didn’t have any friends who support The Bees.

Brentford have played at Griffin Park since 1904 and is probably most famous for being the only ground in the English Football League with a public house on each corner of the ground – The Brook, The Griffin, The Princess Royal and The New Inn. The grounds name of Griffin Park comes from the emblem of the Fullers brewery who owned the orchard where the ground now stands. In February 1983, the Braemar Road Stand caught fire and the then groundsman, Alec Banks, was rescued by Stan Bowles who was playing at the club at the time. Brentford also hold the top four tier record of winning every home game (21) in the 1929/30 season in the Third Division South, so it has been a fortress in the past.

Behind the Braemar Road Stand

After securing a car parking spot close to the stadium for a quick getaway for game two later in the day, and then a stroll round the stadium to photograph all four pubs around the ground I met Paul met at the Braemar Road entrance which is the only side with any real evidence that there is a football ground hidden amongst the housing. Griffin Park will no doubt be missed, with its quirky alley behind the Braemar Stand, wall adorned with former Bees Legends and the narrow double-decker stand which today houses the travelling Blackburn fans. This fixture was one of the last seven league games at Brentford for fans to pay their respects to the ground, but little did we know that day that only one more of those would see fans in the venue (v Sheffield Wednesday, 07 March 2020) as COVID-19 struck. Funnily enough (as this is published – 22 July 2020) the day will see the final Behind Closed Doors games in the Championship, with The Bees hosting Barnsley. Depending on results, it could see Brentford start 2020/21 in the Premier League, or it could see Brentford have one final game at Griffin Park as they take play in the Play-Offs. Either way, the pity is that the Bees faithful won’t be there to witness the final action.

Of the game itself, The Bees backed by a vociferous home crowd started the better of the two teams. However, Brentford were done by a ‘route-one’ goal on eleven minutes. Visiting ‘keeper Christian Walton launched a huge kick downfield aided by the wind, which Bees defender Ethan Pinnock completely misjudged and allowed Adam Armstrong to cleverly lob over David Raya to give Rovers the lead. Brentford though responded and Walton was forced into a save from Bryan Mbeumo. Blackburn though were dangerous on the break, through goal-scorer Armstrong, whilst The Bees had had to settle for mass possession and the odd half-chance, with a Mbeuemo header from a corner going narrowly wide. Rovers though were happy to sit back and were content to go in 1-0 up at half-time.

Armstrong puts away Rovers penalty

Just as in the first-half, Rovers caught Brentford cold in the opening spell of the second-half. On fifty-four minutes, The Bees once again contributed to giving away another goal. Armstrong got behind the home defence, with Raya making the save, as the ‘keeper went to collect the loose ball he was adjudged to have bundled over John Buckley. Armstrong stepped up and coolly slotted into the bottom left-hand corner as Raya was sent the wrong way. Brentford now 2-0 down responded quickly, when on sixty-two minutes, Ollie Watkins latched onto a long-ball with Blackburn claiming offside, and he lashed it home to reduce the deficit. The comeback was complete with nineteen minutes remaining when substitute Mads Roerslev got into the box between Bell and Johnson and went down. The referee pointed to the spot and Saïd Benrahma did the rest to level the game at two apiece. With the penalty slotted home, it was time to make a decision. If we wanted to make it to our second game of the day for kick-off, we would have to leave this game early. It’s not something either of us would normally do, but reluctantly with fifteen minutes to play we said farewell to Griffin Park. Highlights show that Benrahma had a chance to win it, when played in, which Walton saved with his feet. However, we didn’t miss any further goals with the game ending 2-2, but by that time we were on the road and heading out of West London for Part 2 of Match Day 24.


Saturday 22 February 2020

Sky Bet Championship

Brentford 2 (Watkins 62’, Benrahma 71’pen) Blackburn Rovers 2 (Armstrong 11’, 54’pen)

Venue: Griffin Park

Attendance: 12,082

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jeanvier (Roerslev 54’), Pinnock, Henry (Dervi?o?lu 84’); Marcondes (Baptiste 60’), Nørgaard, Dasilva; Mbeumo, Watkins, Benrahma.

Unused Substitutes: Daniels, Oksanen, Fosu, Valencia

Blackburn Rovers: Walton; Nyambe, Lenihan, Adarabioyo, Bell; Johnson, Travis, Buckley (Gallagher 65’); Downing; Samuel (Bennett 73’), Armstrong. 

Unused Substitutes: Leutwiler, Graham, Davenport, Brereton, Bennett, Carter


Steve Blighton