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First Team

Moment in Time: Middlesbrough

Re-live the story of our first major cup upset at Griffin Park

16 March 2018

Regular readers of Bees, our Matchday programme, will hopefully have enjoyed our series, taken from the new Big Book of Griffin Park, looking back at the history of the place we call home. Today's Moment in Time is taken from the Big Book and is a personal favourite of author Dave Lane. It tells the story of an FA Cup tie between Brentford and Middlesbrough played 111 years ago, which saw The Bees notch up their first big Cup upset. It was an afternoon where 21,296 crammed in shoulder to shoulder and, as you will read, roared the Bees on to victory.

“The sun shone out from a blue sky and the crowds surged along in their thousands towards Middlesex’s squalid capital, capered with glee. In break-loads, tram-loads, cart-loads, bicycles that were countless, any and every sort of vehicle that moved more swiftly than the human foot, they poured in from the outlying districts, for the attraction was great. The visit of a first League club to Brentford is an event with a capital E. And such a club too. Middlesbrough! The name passed from mouth to mouth with something like awe, for even the smallest boy in a Church Lads Brigade knows that Middlesbrough paid Sunderland a thousand pounds for their centre-forward.” 

“It was a purple and yellow crowd. Brentford’s colours filled the air. And the earth. If loyalty was going to win the match the Brentford team were right home. Men, women and children, horses and dogs, even the legs of mutton in the butcher’s shops, were resplendent with purple and yellow favours. Brentford’s worthies were armed with a weird collection of noise-makers – bugles, rattles and human lungs. At half-time the pitch was again taken possession of by the band, who marched round and round in the delivery of inspiring music and excited partisans debated the events comprised in the first forty-five minutes. ‘Oh, come and take your licking!’ yelled a man from Middlesbrough. ‘It’s not your lot as can give it!’ snapped out a Brentfordian.”

“A free-kick to Brentford and in far less time than it takes to write ‘winner’, there was a yellow and purple figure flying towards the Middlesbrough goal and still with the ball bobbling ahead of him, Pat Hagan plopped it into the net on the goalkeeper’s right. The word ‘Goal’ might have been heard at Kingston. Almost indescribable was the scene of frenzied excitement as the spectators sought to give utterance to their exultation. A purple and yellow umbrella was hurled into the air and battered to atoms as it fell. Bugles and rattles were almost indistinct in the volume of sound, which greeted the goal by which Brentford triumphed.”

“The tension became almost painful. Could Brentford hold out! The referee ever-and-anon glanced at his watch. Whistle! The end! And thousands streamed into the enclosure to give Hagan a friendly pat. Fortunately for him they were not all successful. What a triumph!”

This is just a small extract from the full match report and an even smaller snap-shot of the hundred of short stories and photographs taken from the book. Do yourselves a favour and buy one today from the club shop or head online via

Dave Lane & Mark Croxford

Tickets for Saturday's visit from Boro are on sale to Previous purchasers now. Help The Bees return to winning ways at Griffin Park from just £23 adults and £6 juniors. Get your tickets now. 

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