Tuesday 3rd November 2015 – Brentford FC 0 – 2 Hull City AFC
Championship @ Griffin Park, London
“He runs all night and he runs all day, he scores at home and he scores away, David Meyler, WHAOOO David Meyler…..”
I have a confession to make….
I once had a season ticket at Brentford. Back in the 2011 / 2012 season – I was living in Chiswick at the time, and was lucky enough to have my brother living down the road – so to supplement our away days, we purchased two season tickets on the Ealing Road Terrace. Saturdays now comprised of a couple of pints in The Princess Royal, attractive League 1 football overseen by Uwe (of the) Rosler, and a Bovril & Double-Decker at half-time.
Brentford finished 9th that season; with a forward line led by ex-Tigers Clayton Donaldson and Gary Alexander, they flirted with the play-offs but just fell short. The most memorable game was a surprise 6-0 drubbing of now Premier League Bournemouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. But there were also victories over London rivals Charlton and Leyton Orient to enjoy.
It seemed ‘little league’ – the muffled tannoy, half-time raffle, terracing, and interesting mix of die hard fans, QPR fans who had lost interest at Loftus Road and the curious. The relationship ended at the end of the season when we both moved away from the area. But is fair to say we were hooked. An unfashionable ground inhabited by one of the lesser supported London clubs, but the best fun we had had for some time.
So I was looking forward to my first trip back since 2012. Incidentally I had been before with Hull the year before I bought the season ticket, a 2-1 defeat in the first round of the League Cup, not the best of nights, ‘enjoyed’ in the company of housemates that supported Chelsea and Newcastle.
Griffin Park is famed for having a pub on each corner of the ground, though I have read recently that has reduced to a trio. This was however a school night match, and with limited time, and certainly not enough for a corner-to-corner pub crawl, The Ealing Park Tavern, halfway between the ground and South Ealing station, was our pre-match watering hole. There are many good pubs in and around Brentford, and also within striking distance of the nearby tube stations, so spoilt for choice really. Ealing Park Tavern was however friendly, had a great range of craft beers, and a healthy mix of both home and away fans. Highly recommended.
Being a Tuesday evening in November, you could see the lights of Griffin Park before the ground itself. The ground is one of these that is tucked in amongst the houses and not visible until you are right upon it. The away end is a short walk from the main road, and consists of a lower tier terrace and an upper tier seating area. Hull took a sizeable following that night, so I assume the upper tier may have been populated, though have never been up there myself. The facilities inside are ‘basic’ with a small kiosk and a gents that can only be described as a hole in the floor.
The fact that Griffin Park has two terraces led to calls for them to move their home games to Loftus Road had they been promoted to the Premier League last term. I’m not a fan of rules limiting teams based on their surroundings – Brentford are well run and play some good football. Just pure snobbery.
No complaints from me though! Standing on a terrace under the floodlights has been a rarity in recent years and was a welcome change. The ground hadn’t appeared to have changed much since my last visit in 2012 and amusingly, the ‘Jakarta Bees’ flag was still up to our left.
The game itself was a cracker; the Hull fans were numerous and in good voice, and the home fans up for it too. The first half was fairly end-to-end, with Brentford appearing to be more of a test than others in recent weeks, where Hull had still picked up points. This one felt like we’d need to go up a gear.
No goals in the first half, but two highlights. Firstly, with it being close to bonfire night, on the 20th minute Alex Bruce came onto the pitch accompanied by a firework display. Fairly sure this will be the only time this will happen in his career. Secondly was a ‘change of tune’. Recent matches had seen an awful song about David Meyler sung by some to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland (“He used to be shite, but now he’s alright, walking in a Meyler wonderland….”). Given his work ethic and role in our run to the FA Cup final this was deemed harsh by many, including the player himself (who commented on it via Twitter) so when it came up again, it was nice to hear it booed by other Hull fans. This led to the song cited at the start of this blog being sung to the tune of Lola by The Kinks….and it didn’t stop all night.
City came out all guns blazing in the second half, and whilst Brenford matched it for a period, they started to run out of ideas, and on the 67th minute through Andy Robertson. The home side started to run out of energy after that and the second felt only a matter of time. It duly arrived shortly before the 90th via Sam Clucas. The away support in raptures, it felt like a well earned three points – and Brentford did work us for it.
Brentford are due to move to a new ground down by the Thames in a couple of years. I hope this is not my last visit with Hull. Griffin Park is a proper old fashioned ground, though with their current upward trajectory, I can see why they would want to move if they are to stay in the higher echolons of the English game.
So for those considering a visit, I can only advise you to do so. Grounds like Griffin Park are becoming something of a rare breed in our game, and the presence of many good watering holes, a passionate home support, and with good football played in a somewhat lower league environment (terracing, small kiosks, balls flying over the stand into people’s back gardens), makes it well worth the trip.
I hope to be back, if not with Hull, hopefully for the final game.