Adventures in Football #58: Brentford Community Stadium
July 16, 2022
DENMARK vs. SPAIN (Women’s Euros 2022)
Now, 2022, is the first time in my entire life that Brentford have had a good football team. They were a small regional club until the 1930s when they skyrocketed up the leagues and pre-WW2 had recorded three top half finishes in the top flight. P5, P5, P6 to be exact. Then World War 2 happened and when it was over the team was different and they went down. They didn’t come back to the top division of English football until 2021. That’s quite the wait and, under Thomas Frank, they’ve made a good stab of it. Finishing, against all expectations, up in P13 last season.
Modern fans may think of them as a Championship level outfit but it’s only been 7 straight years in that division that cemented them as good in people’s minds. Before that it was 1992-93 the last time they featured in the second tier of English football and even then they went straight back down. Before that you have to go back to the 1950s.
In cups they’ve not fared much better. The closest they’ve come to major silverware is the Football League Trophy, currently sponsored by Papa Johns, where they’ve made three finals and lost every single one. Arguably their greatest cup performance was this year when they made the semis of the Carabao Cup. They’ve been to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on four occasions. Three times in their 30s/40s heyday and again in 1989 where they were despatched 4-0 by eventual winners Liverpool.
The Brentford Community Stadium is brand new. Only having been opened during the pandemic, it replaced long-serving Griffin Park. Griffin Park was the only ground in the country with a pub on every corner, survived being bombed by the Germans in WW2 and a huge fire in 1983. The new stadium opened in 2020 and has been on most groundhoppers ‘to do’ list since then as one of the 92. Their league cup fixture with Oldham last season were attended by a lot of groundhoppers in search of restoring their 92 Club honour roll.
We went to Sutton United before going to Brentford and we were cooking in the heat all afternoon. Mike Kilby joined us at Brentford, so he jumped in the car as we headed up west London to Brentford. Car parking wasn’t an issue as we went past the busy area and parked at Ferry Quays. We’d been due to meet people for beers pre-match so I didn’t scope around the area for somewhere better. If I had, I would have either gone to the Brewery Tap or the Black Dog Beer House. The former is a traditional pub that has live music on, a lot, and the Black Dog is verified on Untappd and looks like a little gem.
We had planned to meet folks at the One Over the Ait, a sizeable pub on the river, however Denmark had claimed it and it was packed out. We instead headed across to the other side of the Kew Bridge to the Bell and Crown, which is a Fuller’s pub and is also bang on the river.
At the pub we met up with Lewis (who I went to Charlton and Wimbledon with). He’s just come from the One Over the Ait where he couldn’t even get in the door. Also we meet up with Alex (who I went to Cardiff with). She lives nearby and had a Brentford membership last season. She’s moving to Cardiff soon to escape the buzz of the capital. I managed to get neither of them in a photo so here’s Mike enjoying a pint of Seafarer’s right by the river.
Due to traffic we only had time for one beer before heading over to the Brentford Community Stadium. Alex went home and we tentatively agreed to do Newport County at some point. We lost Lewis in the throngs while he went off to buy a programme. We bid a tearful farewell to Mike as he headed into a different stand. The one major problem with events like this is not being able to sit with your mates as everything is allocated out by UEFA. Unless one person gets all the tickets.
As we come in we see both team coaches and the Brentford logo in the back. Well, that’s a photo innit. I love the geezer at the front smiling. “Everyone wants to take my photo, yay”.
As with every game in the Women’s Euros there’s a large number of female supporters of all ages. It’s great to see so many women at games. It does change the atmosphere of the match and sometimes that’s great and sometimes it isn’t. I do love their passionate support and that’s been evident in every game I’ve been at. I could just do without the Mexican waves. We get past security. It’s less tight here than at other games. They have a quick look in Maria’s bag and a bloke waves a metal detector in my general direction. I could have had a knife sticking out my sock and he’d have missed it. It’s like that video of the bloke doing the pat downs and not even touching people. You know the one. You’ve all seen it.
The concourse is well designed and spacious. The multiple staircases make it easy to navigate around and it feels like you can stand around eating and drinking in here without getting in anyone’s way. I have been spoiled by Milton Keynes though and I’m slightly agitated you can’t see the pitch from anywhere.
Oh wait, there it is! The signage is a little bit confusing. We follow the signs for our block and get out into the arena and can’t see any more signs for it. Only ones for other blocks. I have to ask a steward and he points me into block W231. We’re in W230. It turns out our seats are there though. Always ask a steward lads. They were friendly here and there were plenty of them. We grab some food. I am tempted by the chicken tenders. Mike ended up buying them and saying it was £6 for THREE. At least they came with BBQ dip. We got sausage rolls, which were hot but not too hot, chunky and greasy. Two of them, a bag of Doritos and two waters came to £18.50. Fuck me. That’s actually more than a ticket to the game.
We get into our seats and COR! Look at that view. I’m not a massive new build fan but they’ve done a great job on this. It feels it a little bit odd. I like the corner where there’s only about five rows. I like the way that corner dips down. A little bit of character goes a long way. It’s a surprisingly nice stadium on the eyes and acoustically it’s great. Everything the crowd do sounds so loud. I also love the background tower blocks. It reminds me of AFC Wimbledon and Football Manager. Get a corner flat on that one tower block and you can see the whole pitch.
We’re seated up in the corner. I have a minor gripe about legroom. It’s not great considering this is a new build. Every time the lady in front leans backward her seat digs into my knee and I’m sat as far back in the seat as I possibly can. She did some exercises at half time and repeatedly elbowed me in the knees. She did apologise to be fair to her. With a new build I expect to not have issues with legroom.
Over to our right here is a mass of people supporting both teams. Just above the W232 sign our friends Steve and Meg are located. Steve managed to photograph me during the match, but I didn’t see him until after the game had finished. The joy of high-definition photos and scanning around them.
The Danish support is immense and one of the ring leaders, carrying a megaphone, is right in front of us. “SCORE FOR DENMARK” is frequently heard bellowing out from the corner we’re in and the Danish national anthem is sung beautifully by the people around us. They never stopped, all game, and kept singing and chanting until after the final whistle even though they lost. That’s support. Massive respect to the Danes in attendance. They absolutely made the game for me.
If you go to Brentford you also have plane-spotting to keep you amused during dry spells of the match. Watching plane after plane fly over from Heathrow was my half time entertainment. They got a lot closer than this fella too.
As far as the game went; it was a cracker. End to end with both teams having chances to score. Spain controlled possession but arguably Denmark were the better team. They defended resolutely and looked a match for everything Spain threw at them, plus learning from Finland’s successes by launching counterattacks, usually centred around Pernille Harder who was fantastic. Both fans could make an argument for their team winning and it’s the closest, most tense game I’ve seen at these Euros so far. Most of the games have either been scrappy or a complete blow out for one team. This was a genuinely competitive game and it could have ended 3-3 quite easily.
The game got a little bit stretched in the second half with Denmark tiring after chasing the ball for most of the game. Spain making the ball do the work, as is the way of possession-based football. Spain eventually getting the breakthrough in the last minute to win 1-0. Did they deserve to win? That’s debatable. Possession junkies would say yes. I thought the game was even and could have gone either way. The Danish keeper, Lene Christensen, is the best goalie I’ve seen in the tournament and the way she bossed her penalty area allowed the defenders to do their job and not worry about her.
Denmark carried on singing long into the night. Spain fans; I could only tell they were there when they scored. It’s the only time any of them made a peep. If we were scoring based on the crowd Denmark won 10-0.
FINAL SCORE: Denmark 0 Spain 1
It might just be because we were in with the Danish fans, but it banged. Constant, and I mean constant, chanting and singing for the entire game to the point where it got exhausting and I feel for their voices today. The only time the atmosphere slackened off is with the fucking Mexican waves when the crowd were watching themselves instead of the game. ****
This was our cheapest Euro ticket at £15 and the view was as good as any of the other tickets. Arguably better than Milton Keynes where we were too close to the pitch and boiling in the heat. However, the cost of food was astonishingly high for what was provided. ***
It was a cracking game and I enjoyed it. I’m sad Denmark lost and they didn’t get the goal their play deserved. I’m surprised it finished 1-0. I’ve seen plenty of games with that number of chances finish with much higher scores. ***½.
EASE OF ACCESS:
Brentford is way easier to get to than Sutton. Way easier. We got home in 95 minutes. All motorway. The car park was easy to get into and about ten minutes from the ground. ***½
My legroom issue aside Brentford is a smart new build. It looks interesting, as opposed to being a big tissue box ground where everything is uniform and boring. They’ve made it look interesting and I appreciate that. ***½
Brentford Community Stadium takes the lead on this season’s table. It’s a great ground, it’s easy to get to, it has a nice vibe about it and the area around it. I have very few complaints. If anything, the price of the food and drink was just too high and that hurt the overall rating. Otherwise it’s a fantastic ground. Thumbs up.
The 2022-23 League Table (so far)
MK Dons 16
Man Utd 14
Sutton Utd 13
Nuneaton Boro 12.5