Greville Waterman’s latest book about the fortunes of Brentford FC, aka the Bees, aka “a bus stop in Hounslow” deals with their first season in the English Premier League (EPL), the top tier of domestic football.
Although written in a broadly chronological style match by match (without going back to reflect on what actually happened next), there is a lot of informed history on the club from the days of top flight 1930s play under feted manager Harry Curtis to recent times.
Interviews with Cliff Crown (club chairman), Thomas Frank (head coach) and Matthew Benham (club owner) give context to this fan perspective of what has been a positive year for the club.
A “buy low, sell high” philosophy has allowed promising young players to develop and gain match practice; and little sibling club FC Midtjylland in Denmark has proved useful to what is now a sizable Danish corner of Brentford.
Waterman’s style is chatty, open and opinionated – he makes clear his feelings on QPR (a proposed club takeover over fifty years ago nearly wiped out the Bees) and on perceived referee and VAR bias in the Premiership.
With a balance between business and community, Brentford FC remains a family club with a reputation for looking after its players and helping them achieve their potential. When players fall short, they are supported; when they impress, they flourish until it is their turn to be sold on.
Then there’s the story of Christian Ericksen, whose acquisition is covered comprehensively. An example of how Brentford works comes with the recollection that Frank’s simple phone call to a player he’d coached as a young teen led to the Danish international choosing the Bees for his comeback.
I enjoyed the snippets of history more than the detailed description of matchday tactics, but more seasoned football devotees may relish the immediacy of the approach of ‘can we … could we’ throughout the season.
Covering all topics from the disappointing run of play-off finals and opportunities to the idiosyncrasies of key players, this is a fascinating read packaged with a real respect and understanding of the club.
With ambitions to try for Europe in five years, this little club, often dismissed as “tinpot” by those not in the know, is punching far above its weight. With wins against Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham, and a thrilling draw against Liverpool, the potential is great.
Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow couldn’t come at a better time, as the countdown begins for battle to recommence in August.
You can buy this book from the publisher here or via most major retailers.