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Interviews

First, Best Worst: Peter Gilham

From Christmas Day in Doncaster to singing at Wembley Stadium, BEES matchday programme spoke to Club legend Peter Gilham about his first, best and worst moments in TW8

18 April 2018

The voice of Griffin Park since 1969, Peter Gilham is in his 49th season as the Club’s matchday Announcer.

Affectionately known as ‘Mr. Brentford,’ Peter is the longest-serving Announcer in the country and combines his voluntary role on matchdays with player liaison duty at Jersey Road.

With the revolving door in motion, Peter has been the Club’s constant; a familiar face popular with fans and players alike.

Here, Peter shares his memories from seven decades both following and being involved with The Bees…

 

FIRST…

Brentford experience

I first watched Brentford in 1954 - I lived in Ealing and my father took me to Griffin Park. That feels like a long time ago when you get to 70! My brother was four years older than me and towards the end of the ‘50s he was playing in the Youth Team and also in the Reserves who played in the Seaanglian League at the time. I would tend to follow them but it wasn’t until the ‘60s that I became a hardened fan.

 

Involvement with the team

We were playing away to Hartlepool on Boxing Day 1966. I wanted to go to the game but there was no away travel – it’s not the same as it is nowadays. I wrote a letter to Dennis Piggott who was the Secretary at the time. He wrote back and invited me to travel with the team! We travelled on Christmas Day, stayed in Doncaster overnight, played on Boxing Day, then faced them again at Griffin Park the following day! That was my first real link with the Club.

 

Message to a new signing

I try the best I can when I first meet players to tell them what Brentford is all about. I tell them about the history of the Club – why we are what we are. We’ve been a supporters’ run Club in the past and the fans are very much part of it – without them we wouldn’t be in existence. I make sure that the players know that they’re not just playing for any club and I think that the current crop really buy into that.

 

BEST…

Part of your job

I’m totally in love with Brentford Football Club and totally in love with the fans. I love that people come and ask me questions, whether said question is to do with me or not. It’s great being out on the pitch – it’s more common now than it was – but I think that it’s important that people can see the face behind the voice. The interaction with the fans is a major part of my life.

 

Player you’ve seen at Griffin Park

I won’t name a best but my favourite player here was Ian Lawther; a number nine but very much an inside-forward as well. He’s the player that was signed by Jack Dunnett in the House of Commons. Jimmy Bloomfield was here for a second stint in the mid-‘60s and he was one of the best footballers I’ve ever seen. He was absolute quality.

 

Game against Fulham

We beat them 4-0 in the 1991/92 season with all the goals coming in the first half. We’ve had some terrific games at Craven Cottage but that’s the one that stands out. To beat them 4-0 was a very special day.

 

Post-match team talk

The players are well aware of what these derby games mean. I was gobsmacked last season when we beat Queens Park Rangers here at Griffin Park and Dean Smith asked me to do the post-match team talk. I spoke to the players about the history of the Club and told them what a result like that would mean to the fans.

 

Best moment as a Brentford employee

I take great pride in that I’ve sung on the pitch at the Millennium Stadium, at the old Wembley Stadium and the new Wembley Stadium. I’m not sure Rod Stewart has ever managed that! We’ve not got a great record at Wembley but the journey to get there has produced some memorable moments.

 

WORST…

Stag do outfit

When I got remarried the football staff went out into London for my stag do. Unbeknown to me, the guys had brought along a change of shirt; a QPR jersey complete with ‘number one fan’ printed on the back. It was my worst ever moment – we went to the Comedy Store and I had to sit on the front row in blue and white hoops. If I could have lit a bonfire that night I would have done – the shirt was discarded afterwards!

 

Thing about leaving Griffin Park

I don’t think there’s anywhere better than Griffin Park under the floodlights. I remember a game against Norwich City back in September 2014; we lost but the quality of the football was superb and the atmosphere was electric. It was the same against Leeds United more recently, knowing that 11,000 fans were packed into the stands with thousands more watching on the TV back home. Everyone accepts that we have to move on but many of us have memories of lost loved ones here at Griffin Park. It’s going to be tough but it’s a whole new bright beginning.

 

Season

The uncertainty around the Club in 1967 made it a difficult time but in such circumstances you often see the best of people; it was wonderful how everyone got involved to save the Club. At the time I was working for the BBC. I walked, as I did every day, to Oxford Circus Station and saw the placards outlining QPR’s takeover of Brentford. My heart sunk at the prospect of losing our Club – that chapter fuels the rivalry as we know it today.

 

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