Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Griffin Park

Brentford 3-0 Preston NE

5th May 2019

One of the quirks/features/attractions of Griffin Park, that everyone has heard about, is that it boasts a “pub on each corner”.  Although this phrase is slightly disingenuous, I feel.  For it suggests that a hostelry has been somehow squeezed into each of the four extremities of the stadium; rather in the manner of St. Whatshisname's church which takes up valuable seating space at Goodison.

But the truth is that Griffin Park itself is actually locked within a larger block, as it were, hemmed in on all sides by residential housing.  And it is at the corners of this larger block where the pubs actually may be found.  Even then, two of the establishments are not physically attached to the block in question, but are on the opposite side of the road.

But despite all of this stretching of the facts, I knew my Groundhopping duties well enough to be aware I was required to take a drink in each of the four pubs before the match to validate my Griffin Park visit.

The Princess Royal in the south-east corner was my first port of call, wherein I enjoyed a half-pint of Guinness which cost me just £2.  The place was surprisingly quiet inside, with the larger games/pool room pretty much empty.  

The Griffin was a much busier place, due mainly to half-wits cluttering up the small bar area after they had been served.  There was also a sharp uplift in the prices here: £2:40 my half-pint cost me.  But I noted this pub was generally where the away fans were welcomed – so perhaps typical Londoners-fleecing-the-Provincials was going on here.  That fact may also have been behind the bar staff's rather casual approach to the important business of serving people in order of how long they had been standing waiting.

Crushing disappointment awaited me at my third stop – for The Royal Oak was, in the words of a sign posted on a window, “Closed for a refit”.  This clearly was some intensive refurb being undertaken, as I learned the place had been closed since 2015.  Anyway, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise, as these days both my tolerance of alcohol and my bladder control appear to be being severely impaired by my advancing years.

Nevertheless, I completed the hat-trick by dropping into The New Inn.  My half-pint cost me £2:45 in here, but I did get it in a glass tumbler, as opposed to plastic for the first two.  So I suppose that must count for something.  This was my favourite of the three; much more of a general sports bar it seemed, with a deal of rugby memorabilia on the walls.

As for the match, itself?  Well, I am sure each and every Brentford fan went home happy with both their side's performance and result this afternoon.  But for the rather more difficult-to-please neutral, it was not much of a contest at all.
The home side's goals in a comfortable 3-0 win came from Ezri KONSA (45), Neal MAUPAY (54) and Marcus FORSS (84).  Although Maupay, plus teammates Sergi Canos, Rico Henry and Ollie Watkins all failed to make the most of more than presentable opportunities to add to the scoreline.  When one also considers visiting 'keeper Connor Ripley enjoying a huge slice of luck after losing the ball on the edge of his box, the final score, I felt, could easily have been six or seven.

I really enjoyed watching Moses Odubajo, whom I had last seen scoring for Orient against Crewe back in 2013.  The lad was deeply involved with much of the good work down the Brentford right, after coming on as an early replacement.

It is pretty much impossible to take a set of snaps at Griffin Park, without getting
a plane in one.  Heathrow is only around six miles away.

In a neat twist to the mascot business, we had youngsters announcing the teams. before the match.
The Griffin Park announcer was a rather witty and entertaining chap ("we are still awaiting confirmation
of our goal-scorer at Bolton"), in sharp contrast to the bellowing idiots who usually end up in possession of the mikes.  

How long before the Blackface PC brigade call out Buzz Bee?

Alex Neil. 
This was, according to Wiki, his 99th league match as Preston NE manager. 
I wonder if he will reach his century.

Julian Jeanvier's day lasted all of 20 seconds.

The Brook Road Stand, Griffin Park.

Brentford v Preston - May 2019

Happy to be corrected, but I think this is my man Moses.

Jayden Stockley - Preston North End.

Brentford v Preston - May 2019

Ezri Konsa (No 26) scoring Brentford's opening goal.

The Brook Road Stand, Griffin Park.

Panorama of Griffin Park.
(Two nearside linesman?!)

Brentford v Preston - May 2019

I am not quite sure if stewards are supposed to remain impartial, but I smiled as
I watched this this pretty young lady perform a wee dance of delight each time Brentford scored. 
Clearly a big Bees fan, and really didn't care who knew it.
Good For You, girl.

Humiliating tumble for Brentford's Josh Da Silva

Brentford v Preston - May 2019

Time-up on season 20018/19

Brentford v Preston - May 2019

North End, by contrast, really were woeful, and looked for the most part as if they would rather be anywhere else.  In fact, Jayden Stockley clattering Bees' defender Julian Jeanvier within 20 seconds of the kick-off was pretty much all the aggression the visitors displayed during the whole match.  

The incident held up proceedings for over ten minutes, and ended Jeanvier's participation.  Although, when I think about it, it was to all intents and purposes Shockley's last meaningful contribution to the game as well.  He was so anonymous throughout, it was about ten minutes into the second half before I noticed he had been replaced at the break.

Preston's sole opportunity of merit fell to substitute Louis Moult, but the former Motherwell man somehow contrived to miss the target from about ten metres out, with just the 'keeper to beat.

Alex Neill was not wrong, when he stated after the match, that he faced “a summer of necessary work”.  An impressive understatement, Eck.

The Braemar Road, or Bees United Stand.

This match had been (assuming all goes to plan) the final one of Brentford's penultimate season at Griffin Park.  For in the summer of 2020, the club will be re-locating a mile or so east to a new purpose built 17,000 capacity stadium.  And before this afternoon's match, I wandered along to the new site to see for myself how things were progressing.

The Brentford Community Stadium - work in progress, May 2019

An artist's impression of the finished article.

Just for fun, I spent some time trying to find a spot from which I could see both the current stadium and the new.  And from a railway bridge just off Burford Road, I succeeded...just.  

The things that make an old man happy!

Looking east from the railway footbridge can be seen the roof of one of the new stands...

...whilst turning my gaze to the west, I spy the floodlight pylons on the New Road side of Griffin Park.

And a panoramic view, just to prove I am not making it all up.