Inconsistent referees, obscured vision and cold weather do not make for a good afternoon
Brentford is no fun in the cold. Even in warm weather it isn’t that much better. Add to the equation of cold weather, an afternoon at Griffin Park, inquisition-esque ground staff, a view obscured by a pillar and Mike fucking Dean.
The reason for this excursion was simple, AFC Bournemouth were playing Brentford FC in the Championship. It was a game both teams needed to win. Bournemouth to keep themselves at the top of the table and Brentford to keep their promotion dreams alive. Sadly by the time the ground staff had sold me a ticket Bournemouth were one nil down. Add that I was sitting in the home end meaning that I had to take the mutants of Brentford’s jeers toward the traveling fans. For the majority of the game you couldn’t hear the home fans over the constant singing and cheering from the away end.
If you have never heard Bournemouth’s travelling army then you are missing out. While some of the chants are generic, but aren’t all football chants, they never stop singing and praising their team. I have been going to football matches since I was 7, trust me when I have seen some awful fans, but I have never seen a more loyal bunch of fans than Bournemouth’s. The second best away followers have to be Blackpool’s. After and thrashing at the Emirates they never stop cheering their players and team, and sadly, they won the day on the terraces that day.
While this piece is in favour of Bournemouth it has to be said that neither team deserved to win. Both made multiple mistakes and missed chances. The difference was down to three factors. Firstly Brentford had better luck. The ball bounced in their favour, this usually happens with home teams. It’s their turf so they know its kinks, but more on the pitch in a bit. Secondly Mike Dean was massively inconsistent. He didn’t book any Brentford players for time wasting until well into the second half. There were clear penalty shouts for both teams, but neither were given. Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie picked up a soft yellow card, then wasn’t booked again for what looked like a harsher challenge. There were multiple handballs, by both teams, and only a couple were given. For as long as I can remember Mike Dean has been awful. Scratch that, he makes awful look good. He has regularly decided games by rash and idiotic reasons. If he were a sandwich he’d be honey, garlic and liver. The third and final reason was the pitch. My neighbour’s garden would have been a better surface for playing and he has gravelly stones. One of Brentford’s most famous son’s Robert Rankin once wrote that one of the Great Pyramids of Giza appeared on the pitch at Griffin Park. Looking at the pitch today, if I had heard that rumour in the crown I would have believed it. In the closing moments of the game Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman won a slide tackle with a Brentford forward. When he arose from the pitch his name and number were obscured by mud and detritus. Parts of the pitch were sanded, and others looked as threadbare as an eight year olds knee after a disco.
Despite these negatives there were positives. Both teams midfields worked tirelessly winning tackles and pushing forward. However the real winner of the day wasn’t even on the pitch. At halftime I tried to get all the scores on my MP3 player’s radio. I only got as far as the first station I found. It’s bandwidth was 87.5 FM and it only played jungle, drum ‘n’ bass and other bass music. As soon as I found it I didn’t turn it off until I boarded the bus. I have no idea what the station is called, but it might have been UK Raw Radio, also the Magpie and Crown needs a mention too. It’s the best pub in Brentford, and perfect for per/post match drinks. Also Brentford’s decision to play the Vaccines’, Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) as the teams come out is also inspired, but random.
Brentford were the ‘better’ on the day, but their promotion hopes look like a long shot. While Bournemouth has been top of the table for months, it looks like the wheels might finally have fallen off. This is a shame, but if they can’t win games when referee’s and the bounce is against them, then they will find the top flight even harder. Whether either team will go for the final push remains to be seen, but the season isn’t over yet and a lot will happen between now and May 2nd.