I got into Brentford through my dad, who brought me to Griffin Park when I was about five or six years old.
He came to me one Saturday and told me we were going to watch my first football match, but kept the team a surprise, despite me asking constantly who I’d be going to see. That’s how I arrived at Brentford in October 2004.
We lost 3-0 to Blackpool that day but it was a fantastic experience as I was up by the director’s box, right on halfway in Braemar Road. I just remember walking up the stairs, seeing the ground for the first time and thinking ‘wow, this is brilliant’. I fell in love with it from that point on, even though we lost.
I went a few more times that season, where we got to the Play-Off Semi-Finals but lost to Sheffield Wednesday. I remember they were all over us in front of Sky Sports on that Thursday night first leg. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be that season, but I went to home games quite regularly from there on and really got a feel for the Club and what being a football fan was all about.
My roots are in Brentford, there’s a long-standing family history here for me. I was born opposite The Globe pub, that’s almost right outside the ground. My nan lived on Darwin Road and had supported the Club from a young age in the 1940s. She first took my mum to a game and is the reason she supports Brentford too. When my mum met my dad, she brought him to Griffin Park and now we’re all Bees fans.
On 7 October 2006, I was a mascot for our game against Bristol City, a few days before my eighth birthday. We used to arrive an hour or so before the game, but on this occasion, we got there around 11am and, when we were collecting the tickets, my mum told me she had a surprise for me.
I opened up this envelope and there was the mascot package! We walked in and met all the players in the dressing room, my favourite was Stuart Nelson at the time. We got a tour round the stadium, warmed up with the players, took part in a penalty shootout and then led the team out. It was a 1-1 draw that day, with Kevin O’Connor scoring our goal in the second half and it was absolutely brilliant. It was my first experience of being out on the pitch and it was a fantastic day.
One of the other mascots was Jack Brook, whose birthday happened to be the day after mine. By chance, we bumped into one another a few years later on a cold afternoon in Shrewsbury and have been friends ever since. We follow Brentford everywhere nowadays and also support England wherever we can. In September, Jack asked me to be best man at his wedding, which was an absolute honour.
Having been a Season Ticket Holder since the 2005/06 season, I’ve got so many good memories of the old place, but I want to recall a funny memory in the hope that Kevin O’Connor might read it. I’ve always wanted to ask him about it. There was a moment when we played Scunthorpe United years ago and he had the chance to put us one up from the penalty spot. It was when they were about to put the roof on the Ealing Road stand, so it was completely empty. He smashed it miles out of the ground, and the rumour was the ball had hit the 65 bus. I’ve always wondered if it was true or not, although I don’t know how he’d have found out.
I’m a big admirer of Kevin and will always remember the moment when he came on to make his 500th appearance against Stevenage. I remember the moment he got to lift the League One runners-up trophy, knowing how much it meant to someone who was such a big part of the Club. The fans could feel how special it was, what a day.
Then there was that night under the lights, when we played Everton in the League Cup. They took an early lead, we pulled it back to 1-1 through Gary Alexander, then Charlie MacDonald missed a penalty. In that moment, I thought it wasn’t going to be our night, but we went and won the penalty shootout, which was fantastic.
I have to say the Marcello Trotta penalty incident was the worst. I was in the crowd behind the goal that day and you can see me praying on the footage on YouTube. We all know what happened, but sometimes the memory of the ball hitting the crossbar and Doncaster going down the other end to score creeps up on me. I just fell to the floor. It was horrible.
For fear of ending on a sour note, in the 05/06 season, we played Sunderland in the FA Cup and beat them 2-1, thanks to DJ Campbell. That was probably my first best memory of the old place. It was a full house and the first time I’d seen Griffin Park with that many people in attendance. The atmosphere was superb and two late goals from DJ got us the win.
Now we’re heading into the complete unknown, there are exciting times ahead for this Club.
I was there in December 2013 as Hounslow Council finally granted us permission to build the stadium. It was a Monday evening, it was cold and there were Brentford fans throughout the building just waiting for hours to hear news. When the decision came through, there was this overwhelming realisation that it was finally happening.
I’ve gone down to see the stadium progress over the last year or so, and it is really exciting. The fact we’re expanding as a club, sharing with London Irish and bringing more revenue in is a real positive for everyone who follows The Bees. It’s a chapter in our history that I’m really looking forward to.
In the meantime, I’m soaking up the Griffin Park atmosphere while I still can. Before each game, I like to visit as many of the pubs as I can. It’s what I’ve been doing for a couple of years now. I also head into The Hive to catch up with some people there. You come across some incredibly interesting people when you follow football, and I’m still meeting new fans and talking about the team and the game overall. It’s not just home fans, but away fans as well. That’s why I love Brentford so much because it’s such a big family club and you can speak to anyone. You meet a friendly face every time. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and have a good time.
One thing I will always remember is getting off the train, walking towards the ground and seeing those big old-fashioned floodlights in the distance. The little things are what I will hold on to when I look back on this ground. I’ll miss going into the pubs on the corner, I’ll miss being so close to the pitch, and I’ll miss seeing the players come through the old red gates on Braemar Road.
Callum's story was first published in this season's matchday programme against Reading on 23 November 2019. To get your Brentford Story online, email Programme Editor Chris Deacon on [email protected] and we'll get back to you.
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