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I'm Backing Brentford part two: how the proposed 1967 takeover started

15 February 2017

Part two of our series commemorating 50 years since the thwarted takeover by Queens Park Rangers

In the first part of our series on Monday looking into the failed Queens Park Rangers takeover of Brentford in 1967, we detailed that the Club was running up horrendous losses in the bottom tier of English football under Jack Dunnett’s ownership. This made Brentford vulnerable and it’s reasonable to assume, with Dunnett having poured thousands of pounds into the Club without return that he would be open to ideas on how to get his money back. 

A takeover by chance

The fuse for the takeover talks was lit from a chance conversation by Brentford FC General Manager Dennis Signy and Queens Park Rangers Chairman Jim Gregory in the evening of Rangers’ Fifth Round Football League Cup tie with Carlisle United at Loftus Road on 7 December 1966. Dennis, a Brentford fan, knew Gregory well, having worked for him on a freelance basis in the past.

Dennis takes up the story in his history of Queens Park Rangers, which was published in 1969. In the book he describes the events that led up to the news being leaked:

“It started with a chance remark. On the evening of the Carlisle match Billy Gray, Brentford's manager, and I were standing in Ellerslie Road waiting for my wife to arrive. Jim Gregory wended his way through the fans thronging the street and, when I greeted him, he joined us on the pavement opposite the ground.

The previous Saturday Bernard Joy, of the London Evening Standard, had written a feature on the old theme of ground-sharing and had linked Brentford and Q.P.R. as logical clubs to link up. Jim Gregory watched the fans making their way to the entrances and asked: “How many do you think we'll get tonight?”

I replied: “I don't know - about 18,000. If you were playing at Griffin Park you'd get at least 30,000.” [In actual fact, the gate was 19,146].

From that casual remark we progressed to a discussion on Joy's ground-sharing theme and, when Jim Gregory said he might be interested in discussing this matter further, I said I would mention it to Jack Dunnett, Brentford's M.P. Chairman. I did - and that started the train of events that led to the eventual take-over bid.”

How the grounds compared in 1967

The two rivals’ stadiums were poles apart in 1967. During Brentford’s success in the 1930s in reaching the top flight, Griffin Park had gone from a primitive 20,000 capacity ground with little cover to one of the finest in London, holding just under 40,000 spectators with cover for 30,000. Meanwhile Rangers’ Loftus Road was a typical lower division enclosure: a main stand more than 60 years old and small covered terracing behind one goal with the rest open to the elements. Serious money would be needed to transform it to Griffin Park’s standard. This no doubt attracted their Chairman Jim Gregory, who could save cash, and move Rangers into a purpose built stadium that needed little alterations to turn it ready for the First Division.

On Friday, we will look at the man in the centre of the storm: Jack Dunnett.

Don’t miss out on a piece of history: help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the fans saving Brentford by booking tickets now for The Bees’ home match against Rotherham United on 25 February. Prices are just £1 for Juniors, £5 for Young Persons, and £20 for adults all over Griffin Park.

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