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Feature: Brentford - Boro Connections

30 January 2015

A special feature on the quintet of Middlesbrough players that transformed Brentford in the 1930s.

Ahead of Brentford's Sky bet Championship game against Middlesbrough at Griffin Park, we profile five players bought by legendary manager Harry Curtis, which formed the backbone of the team that rose to the top flight of English football.

One of the shrewdest transfers in British football history occurred when Brentford manager Harry Curtis travelled north to Middlesbrough in May 1932.

He persuaded Jack Holliday, Bert Watson and Billy Scott to drop two levels of football to sign for The Bees, then in Division Three (South).

A combined transfer fee of just £1,500 proved to be a bargain as all three proved key in the Club’s Championship success later that season. 

With the subsequent additions of Ernie Muttitt and Jimmy Mathieson from Boro over the next two years, the quintet was complete. 

These five footballers helped to provide Brentford Football Club with its glory period in the top flight of English football.

Jack Holliday proved to be the biggest success.

Born John William Holliday on December 19, 1908, Holliday joined Middlesbrough from Cockfield in 1929.

In three years at Boro, he scored four goals in six games before transferring to Brentford.

His first season at Brentford broke all records, scoring 38 goals in just 34 league matches, including five in a 5-5 draw at Luton Town in February 1933.

This remains a club record for goals scored by an individual player in one season.

A higher level of football proved to be no problem for Jack, scoring 52 goals in two years in Division Two, the latter of which saw Brentford promoted to the top flight of English football.

He appeared in an England trial match at Highbury in May 1935, to cap a memorable season.

Brentford reached fifth place in Division One in 1935/36, with Jack scoring 13 goals in 37 league appearances.

The next three campaigns proved less fruitful for Jack before the outbreak of the Second World War, but successfully converted into a utility player for Curtis.

Jack continued to play for the Club during the war before retiring in 1944, and later became a coach at Brentford, staying at Griffin Park until 1961.

He died in 1987, having become a successful bowls player.

Bert Watson – born Herbert Leonard Watson in Springwell, on November 20 1908 - arrived at Griffin Park as a defender, having made 13 appearances in two seasons following his transfer from Boro.

With Holliday, he was mainstay of the side in its rise up the divisions.

Following Brentford’s promotion to the First Division, Watson was dropped after a 6-1 defeat away to Grimsby Town and did not play for the club again.

He moved to Bristol Rovers in May 1936 with James Raven and Leslie Sullivan and played 19 Division Three South matches.

Bert tragically died in 1939 and is buried in Ealing.

The last of the initial trio was Billy Scott.

Scott was born William Reed Scott on December 6 1907 in Willington Quay.

He signed for Boro in May 1927 but had to wait three years before a First Team appearance.

Arriving at Griffin Park, he missed only five league games in four years, and became Brentford’s first ever full England international, playing a Home International away to Wales on October 17 1936 - Brentford’s Dai Hopkins on the opposing team.

After playing for Brentford during the war, he was released in May 1947 after 15 years service, joining Aldershot after scoring 84 league goals in 273 appearances.

He saw out his career at Southern League Dover in 1948.

Ernie Muttitt was the fourth ex-Boro player to join Brentford, in October 1932. 

Born in Middlesbrough on July 24 1908, he played for Northern League side South Bank before signing for Boro in April 1929.

Making his professional debut in the 1929/30 season, he joined Brentford in 1932, making 14 appearances as Brentford won the Division Three South title.

Ernie failed to hold down a regular place in the side when The Bees reached the top flight in 1935 but made more than 100 war-time appearances for the Club in eight different positions.

He also appeared as a war-time guest for West Ham United and Colchester United before being given a free transfer in 1947, where he joined Dover.

Ernie died in 1996, having lived in Braemar Road, beside Griffin Park, since 1942.

To complete the quintet, Scottish goalkeeper Jimmy Mathieson joined Brentford in the summer of 1934, having spent eight years at Ayresome Park.

Born James Anderson Mathieson in Methil on May 10 1905, he had already won two Second Division Championship winners medals, and added a third as Brentford’s reached the First Division in his first season.

Jimmy made 125 league appearances for the club, before moving to Queen of the South in the summer of 1938 after fellow Scot Joe Crozier replaced him in the team.


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