Sky Bet Championship football returns to Griffin Park on Saturday as former Brentford boss Mark Warburton brings Nottingham Forest to West London. In the build-up to the game, we've had a look at players and coaches, past and present, who've had a foot in both camps.
The Reds' current playing squad has no links to The Bees but there will be a familiar face in the away dugout as Mark Warburton returns to Griffin Park. The former City Trader took over at Forest in March, re-uniting with former Brentford Director of Football, Frank McParland after leaving Glasgow Rangers. His 18-months in charge in West London prior to that time north of the border saw promotion from League One achieved before leading The Bees to the Championship Play-Off semi-final 12 months later.
Of the 22 players who have featured for both clubs, none has made more of an impact at Griffin Park than Paul Evans. The combative ball-winning midfielder joined in March 1999, and immediately took over the captaincy from the long-serving Jamie Bates. His signing proved to be the catalyst for a successful run-in that saw Brentford clinch the Division Three title whilst, on an individual level, he was voted into the PFA team of the season – a feat he would go on to repeat three years later.
His goal against Preston North End in September 1999 made national headlines as, having received the ball in his own half following kick-off, his 62-yard shot sailed over the head of the Preston keeper and into the net. After the Play-Off final defeat at Cardiff in 2002, Paul moved to Bradford City and Blackpool before ending up at The City Ground in March 2004. He was one of the stand-out performers the following year but couldn’t prevent Forest from falling into the third tier.
Another to have played for both is Paul Smith who gave a decade of service to the two clubs between 2000 and 2012. After arriving from non-league Carshalton Athletic, Paul made more than 100 appearances over three-and-a-half years between the posts at Griffin Park. The other side of a spell at Southampton, Paul spent six years at The City Ground, featuring 142 times, and was memorably allowed to score in an EFL Cup tie against Leicester City. The original tie was postponed after Foxes defender Clive Clarke collapsed at half-time with Forest 1-0 up. Paul was allowed to walk the ball in from kick-off in the re-arranged game and that goal, after 15 seconds, made Paul the fastest goalkeeper to score in world football, the fastest player to score in the EFL Cup, and the fastest ever scorer for Forest.
Tickets for Saturday's game are on sale now from just £23 adults, £17 seniors, and £15 young persons. Juniors not only pay just £6 for this game but they also get a free Junior Membership. Get your tickets online here now.