Brentford’s promotion-winning season of 1991/92 opened many doors for The Bees. Not only did it mean that Phil Holder’s side would be the first to play second tier football at Griffin Park since the 1950s and guarantee entry at the Third Round stage of the FA Cup, but it also gained The Bees entry to the curious world of the Anglo-Italian Cup.
The competition grew out of the Anglo-Italian League Cup and had been played sporadically between 1969 and 1986 as both a professional and semi-professional tournament. Previous winners down the years had including Roma, Newcastle United, Swindon Town, Blackpool, and Sutton United. It was discontinued in 1986 due to a lack of interest but returned six-years later, replacing the Full Members Cup.
The competition began with a Preliminary Group stage, which The Bees progressed through thanks to a pair of wins over Swindon Town and Oxford United, and then two eight-team Group stages consisting of four English and four Italian teams. The top team from each nation in each group going through to the Semi-Finals.
Jamie Bates, Marcus Gayle, and Gary Blissett were all on target as Holder’s side won away at Ascoli before a Joe Allon goal decided the match at home to Lucchese a fortnight later. Allon was again the hero in the 1-0 win over Cesena and The Bees completed their perfect record, eight days before Christmas with a 2-1 win over Bari.
Those four wins set up a two-legged Semi-Final in the New Year against Derby County. The First-Leg in late January was a Griffin Park epic: Joe Allon scoring a hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat to The Rams. A week later and The Bees headed to The Baseball Ground for the Second-Leg. The tie looked to be over when Marco Gabbiadini made it 5-3 on aggregate just before half-time.
However, the drama continued right to the end. With six minutes to go, Blissett swivelled and fired into the top-corner from 25 yards and he then levelled the tie on aggregate two-minutes later with a close range finish. The Bees still trailed on away goals and threw everything at the Derby backline trying to get to Wembley for the final. It proved to be in vain as The Rams held on to set up a date with Cremonese. Despite another Gabbiadini goal it was the Italian side who emerged victorious in the shadow of the Twin Towers.
Relegation from Division One barred The Bees from entry the following season as Brescia took the crown after a win in the final against Notts County. The Magpies were the ones celebrating 12 months later as they beat Ascoli in the final with Genoa holding the honour of being the last ever winners of the tournament, getting the better of Port Vale in the 1996 final.
Tickets for Saturday's trip to the East Midlands will be available on the day at Pride Park tomorrow. Back Dean and the boys this weekend for £25 adults, £18.50 seniors, £15.50 (13-17), (2-12) £10.