My late father supported Brentford, as do my brother and his son and daughter. The Bees are currently enjoying their best run of form since even my dad was a nipper.
When Brentford won promotion from League 1 last May I thought the best they could hope for would be to survive a first season in the Championship.
Manager Mark Warburton had worked alongside former Bees boss Uwe Rossler. He took charge when Rossler was tempted away by Wigan Athletic.
Some Brentford fans wondered if the team could progress without Rossler. The answer is an emphatic “yes.”
Warburton is one of those managers who you likely wouldn’t recognise if you passed him in the street. But he is a proper coach, and a well respected one. He put himself through the coaching badges required to build a career in league football.
A former youth player at Leicester City, he later played non league football as an adult for Enfield. But injury brought his playing career to an end.
After a spell as a city trader, Mark travelled around Europe watching coaching sessions put on at the likes of Barcelona and Ajax. With his mortgage paid for, and a few bob in the bank, he set out to take his coaching badges. He did so at his own expense and with a determination to succeed that has to be admired. He first worked with the academy at Watford before joining Brentford.
When asked to explain the rise up the league currently being witnessed by Bees fans, Warburton said: “I’ve no doubt about the quality or work ethic of the players. The problem early in the season was about self belief. Those first few games, we had good performances, but lost games like the 1-0 away defeat to Bournemouth, who I think will finish in the top six. We played well that day. As the self belief of the players has grown, we’ve benefited accordingly. I haven’t been surprised by their quality, but I have been surprised by their desire and a real appetite for the challenges that have been presented to them.
“The players must know the coaching staff know what they themselves want, of how they want the game to be played. If you make a mistake, no problem, keep doing it and we’ll be better for it. If they have the right support network around them, in terms of medical and analytical, the players will thrive in that type of environment. Our work the last two or three years has been to create the type of environment where they can learn and develop as players and enjoy coming to work every day.
“Give them encouragement to go and play. Put on bright coaching sessions, keep them entertained, challenge them and you can be in a good place fairly quickly. Get players on your side and you can move forward.”
Put like that, it’s not brain surgery, is it? This management lark is made out to be something that requires the IQ of a genius. But, as Warburton says, simply creating an environment in which footballers enjoy learning and improving themselves can be enough to bring about a winning team.
Clearly Brentford are not only moving forward, but also upwards. Imagine if they could get promoted to the dizzy heights of the top flight. Unthinkable when my dad used to take me to Griffin Park in the sixties.
Brentford will move to a new stadium at Kew Bridge a couple of years from now. Who knows? They could be playing host to those noisy neighbours, Chelsea. Unlikely, perhaps. But surely we’ve learnt one thing about the domestic game these days. To expect the unexpected.
Were Brentford promoted to the Premier League, that would be a tale worthy of Roald Dahl himself.
As my dad would have said: COME ON YOU BEES!