So a third posting on football-related maters which is unusual for me. But I couldn’t let today go by without congratulating my home time team Blackpool FC having won promotion to the Championship from the Div 1 play-off final. Wey hey. They beat Lincoln City 2-1 at Wembley after conceding a first minute own goal. Kenny Dougal was the 2 goal hero and a bit of a poster boy. Do you know that Blackpool are the play-off kings having won 6 finals – a record! God knows how they’ll do in the very competitive Championship but that’s all for tomorrow. After the years of mis-management by the detested Oystons it’s a time to celebrate. Let’s have a look at one of the goals being scored…
Now just to show I’m not totally partisan, celebrations too to Brentford FC for securing promotion at last to the Premiership at yesterday’s Championship play-off final, beating Swansea 2-0. They’ve been knocking at the door for the last few seasons and I couldn’t have been more pleased to see them achieve it. Did you also know that this ended a losing run of 32 play-off campaigns and 16 finals by teams wearing red and white shirts and black shorts? Well there you go. You cannot say I don’t keep you peppered with the occasional interesting fact.
In case you don’t know we lived for a v happy couple of years in the old Barratt HQ overlooking the M4 flyover in Brentford…
It was a rather cool converted Art Deco building and we lived within 200 yds of the old Brentford stadium which as all keen footie fans will know was the only stadium in England with pubs located on each of the 4 corners. It also had the best chippy located on the S Ealing Rd corner which was mobbed on match days/evenings. Whilst at the Barratt apartment we used to look after after two beautiful youngest grandsons and collected them 4 days a week from nearby Chiswick. We had some fab times with them especially in Gunnersbury Park across (or at least under) the busy M4. The boys were about 3 and a bit and 1 and a bit and both needed a little morning/midday sleep to take the edge off. Elliott was always a sweetie and a 5 minute car ride was all to took to get him dozing. Younger grandson Noah was always more of a pickle and he never fell for the car trick always wanting to be taken for a buggy ride with bottle. And you needed to walk a good mile or so before he’d deign to drop off. I may not have attended too many matches at the old ground but I must have walked around Brentford’s stadium at least 100 times and knew every frigging brick and rusting stand wall. It wasn’t a pretty ground.
Brentford the town was rather strange mash up of old municipal blocks which featured in the fab tv series People Just Do Nothing and high chic apartments overlooking the Thames. There were also sections along the river which were really run down including old boat and scrap yards and council estates and incredibly wealthy new apartment living blocks alongside the Grand Union Canal which joined the Thames at Brentford. Historically it was a huge waterways intersection linking London with the industrial centres to the north. And this juxtaposition between the old and the new was the ongoing architectural and social battle going on in this intriguing bit of west London (in fact it may just sit outside London).
Funnily enough all the time we were there we witnessed a major bit of the gentrification/re-development battle with the building of the new Brentford Community Stadium amidst what used to be some grim old re-cycling grounds. For two years it rose from the ashes of the derelict area behind the old Leisure Centre and it looked a fine stadium in it’s aluminium-clad v contemporary styling…
But since then a host of office and apartment skyscrapers have been constructed around it and it’s virtually impossible to now see it from the main roads surrounding it which is a shame. You sense that the old Brentford town straddling a grimy bank of the Thames across from leafy Kew Gardens with its narrow boat trading history, demolition yards, boat building sheds and muddy griminess will have disappeared inside 10 years to be replaced by riverside-view apartments and marinas. But they’ll have a great stadium and now a Premiership football team at its heart like every upwardly mobile community now has.
That’s the thing about football’s development which intrigues me. There will still be a place for the likes of Blackpool FC to achieve and do well for a time. But the centre of footballing achievement is gradually moving away from its heartland of Lancashire, Yorkshire, North East and Midlands towns and cities towards the wealthier south. Some big clubs will obviously survive but look at the rise of clubs like Chelsea, Brentford, Crystal Palace, Southampton, West Ham, Brighton and despite recent setbacks, Bournemouth, Fulham, Reading. Look at the fabulous new stadia at Tottenham and Arsenal and MK Dons. It’s as clear as day to me that Brentford’s model is the future. I admire it and regret at the same time that proud older clubs like Preston, Blackburn, Bolton, Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry, Nottingham Forest, Sunderland even will ever aspire, realistically, to top level football again. There are always exceptions but say Burnley lost Sean Dyche and Leicester Brendan Rogers and Leeds Bielsa, you’d worry about them inside two seasons. That to me is the new reality of football.
Blimey that was a bit deep. Let’s just hail the success of two great clubs and sigh that Chelsea secured another Champions League trophy last night. The future’s Brighton, and it’s probably not tangerine.
Dear Paul. Please excuse me if I don’t join in your celebrations over Brentford’s win and promotion into the Premiership, when it was at the expense of Swansea, where we have now lived for 25 years and, therefore, have an allegiance to the local team. Another London team in the Premiership is disappointing-even though they were the better team on the day. Although I dare say their chances of coming straight back down again are high, as are those of Watford. At least by replacing Fulham in the top flight Watford can be considered very slightly more of a team from up north!
Sorry mate forgot about your Swansea affiliations but I was just talking about a trend which seems irreversible now.
Hope all’s well
Brentford with a pro gambler owner basically played “money ball” to build their sustainable squad – what’s to stop the Northern clubs taking a similar approach?
Re west London or west of – according to Wiki, Brentford is a suburban town in West London, and part of the London Borough of Hounslow. It lies at the confluence of the River Brent and the Thames, 8 miles west of Charing Cross.
Really Paul, putting the ‘stadium built on a rubbish dump’ and the magnificent new Tottenham Hotspur stadium in the same sentence nearly made me choke on my cheerios. A concrete bowl vs what many (not as biased as me) consider one of, if not, the finest football stadium in Europe – no contest amigo. BTW well done the Tangerines!
Yep fair point but I wasn’t comparing THFC and Brentford stadia; I was simply suggesting that teams based in the more affluent south, esp those who have already re-build there stadia, are likely to attract the largest backing now and hence become the more successful in the pyramid. Look at the National League – Sutton likely to go up with Torquay. The power shift in football is to the south. I’d bet on Borehamwood and Bromley being the next big things from that division. Anyway I have a soft spot for Brentford and their stadium, whilst nothing like as dramatic as THFC’s looks brilliant. How to re-cycle a re-cycling plant! Cheers for the Tangerines
From a Blackpool perspective our rise is all the more remarkable considering we could have ceased to exist had the previous regime remained in charge for a few months longer. Success for us is of course first and foremost the purchase of the club by a monied Blackpool fan, and someone who is a ‘proper’ businessman, not a chancer, speculator, nor a spiv.
Promotion is maybe a season ahead of schedule but at least gets the club back to its realistic home within the football pyramid. Becoming established and eventually flirting with the promotion places will take some doing, but the club now has the structure off the pitch to give them a fighting chance on it.
After stumbling so spectacularly last season and losing the likes of Watkins I am glad that Brenford got there this time around. Interesting times ahead for the Bees, and the sea, sea, Seasiders.
Yep thanks Charlie for checking by and for a very measured response. I’m delighted for the Pool of course; how they’ve managed it so soon after the debacle of the Oyston’s is incredible. I hope they can hang in there in the Championship next season and consolidate for a year or so. It is a brutal division to survive in. I’m just pleased to see Brentford do it. If they can consolidate too, they could become a surprise package. But it’ll be tough for them. Come on you Bees and Seasiders or Besiders as I like to call them