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First Team

First, best, worst ... Jackie Graham

Bees Hall of Famer looks back on his time in professional football

7 February 2018

From pints with Peter Gelson to running at Richmond Park, we chat to former playmaker Jackie Graham about his first, best and worst moments in professional football.

Having begun his career in his native Scotland, Jackie Graham arrived at Brentford during the summer of 1970. He would go on to spend ten seasons at Griffin Park, clocking up over 400 appearances. A former captain, he won promotion from Division Four on two occasions, in 1971/72 and 1976/77. He was also handed the Club’s Player of the Year award in 1972 and 1977. A fan favourite, he was inducted into the Bees' Hall of Fame in 2013.


Person that inspired you

My biggest influence was my father, who was a former professional himself. He was in the Army but he also played on the left wing for Chesterfield and Aldershot Town. Sadly our careers didn’t overlap, though following his retirement he turned out for a work team and invited me along once when I was about 14. That was the only time we ever played together on the same pitch.


When I first went to Brentford my roommate was Dick Renwick, who was a very experienced player. He was absolutely brilliant and knew everything about the game; I learnt a lot from both him and Peter Gelson. Sometimes we had a quiet night, but sometimes we didn’t. It was never outrageous, though, we would just sneak down for a couple of pints!

Time you played in front of the TV cameras

I can’t quite remember the first time, but I believe we played one of the games against Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park. We also had a good game against Watford where we drew 3-3, which is still shown on Match of the Day now and again. The cameras themselves never really bothered me, once the game started I didn’t even know that they were there. 


Game you played in for Brentford

We had a cup run under Frank Blunstone and went to Cardiff City. It was absolutely bucketing with rain and there was no way they would have let us play on that pitch nowadays! However, the game went ahead because there were already a lot of Brentford supporters in the ground and we managed to win 2-0. I loved playing in the mud! Coming from Scotland a lot of the pitches were like that so I was used to it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also scored the first goal as well, so it sticks in my memory.

Manager you played under

Both Frank Blunstone and Bill Dodgin [Jr.]. Frank was a great coach and in talking about the game there was nobody better than him, he was brilliant. Bill was great man-to-man. He was such a lovely guy that you would do anything for him.  I always said that if he asked me to shoot somebody I would do it, that’s how much I rated him!

Ground you’ve played at

I’ve played at Hampden Park, but I reckon my best ground was at the Ibrox, against Glasgow Rangers. They were my team growing up and all my mates were Rangers fans so it was good to have a bit of a battle against them. I also played at Celtic, where I scored the winning goal. It was in 1967, when they nearly went through the league unbeaten, but we managed to win 3-2. Living in Glasgow, my parents had to move out of their house because the Celtic fans smashed the windows in! It was to be expected. When I rang my mother up after the game and said I’d scored the winning goal, instead of congratulating me, she just said ‘Oh no!’ She knew what the ramifications would be!


Moment as a Brentford player

We got relegated under Frank and we were really unlucky to do so. We played some great stuff at times but we’d get beaten by the odd goal and all of our mistakes seemed to get punished, so I was gutted when it happened. It was the same getting relegated with Bill because, as managers, they didn’t deserve it. Sadly they didn’t stay on too long afterwards. Frank moved on to Manchester United and Bill got the sack. Once he went, I was away too. I just packed my bags and left shortly after him. 

Thing you had to do in training

The hardest thing was when we’d go over to Richmond Park with David Green, who had won an Olympic Bronze medal in the 100M. He used to take us to do sprints up a hill and I’d never trained like that in my life. After he put us through that I was never scared of training. It was always on a Wednesday, and when we arrived at the dressing room and saw him sitting there, everybody just groaned. But it did pay off - we were fit boys back then!

Thing about being a footballer

The worst thing was coming to the end of my career. When I left Brentford I was 35 and went to play for some Non-League sides. I had a young family and I had to go and get a job, which broke my heart. I just did little odd jobs here and there, and I was getting my part-time money from football too, but I just couldn’t get used to it. It wrenched my heart because I just wished I was still out there playing.

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