My first Brentford game, courtesy of my father, was back in the autumn of 1954. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, Roger Banister had earlier broken four minutes for the mile, Frank Sinatra was Number One in the charts with “Three Coins in a Fountain”, Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings” was first published, Marilyn Monroe had just filmed her famous skirt scene in “Seven Year Itch” and 12-year-old Cassius Clay had just been advised to box by the police.
Brentford at that time were back in Division Three South after a flirtation with the top two divisions for the previous 21 years. Attendances were roughly at the levels they have been this season, albeit in a stadium which could still hold well in excess of 30,000. Bill Dodgin Senior was the man at the helm having succeeded Tommy Lawton the previous season.
Fast forward 65 years and to the present day. I’m still watching the same Club that I was as a lad but whereas in those days I was probably under five-feet tall, now as a 72-year-old I feel ten-feet tall.
The reason for telling you all this is that last Saturday at Griffin Park, along with around ten and a half thousand Bees fans, I bore testament to one of the best footballing displays I've witnessed from our red and white heroes over the years (consistently for almost the entire 90 minutes) and what has moved me even more to put pen to paper is that it was witnessed by probably one of the most supportive crowds I have ever witnessed at our wonderful old stadium.
Yes, we've had bigger crowds and maybe a few more memorable victories (although Saturday's 1-0 thrashing of our neighbours is right up there with the best) but the synchronicity between the team and the Bees fans was incredible. That level of support could prove to be decisive as we move into the second half and home straight of this emotional season.
It may be of interest to fans who themselves put in a performance of the highest quality, but which cannot be scientifically measured, to hear of the levels attained by our heroes on the pitch. Following each match, the conditioning staff release to the players their HMLD figures, HMLD standing for High Metabolic Load Distance. These figures measure the total amount of high speed running a player does, coupled with the total distance of accelerations and decelerations throughout a session/match. On Saturday, given it was the Bees third match in a week, as a team it was the second highest total of HMLD this season, second only to the Leeds match.
Individually (and I won’t name individual players) one player recorded his highest ever total distance covered and his highest ever sprint distance, one was just 130m short of his best ever distance, another recorded his best ever sprint distance, highest ever number of decelerations and just 5 accelerations short of his best ever, another player was just 41m short of his highest ever accelerations and his best ever high speed recordings. It was also interesting to hear from Josh Dasilva that last week was the first time in his career he had played three games in a week.
The excellent figures go on and on, match by match, and it proves the quality, desire and intent shown by the players in training are manifesting themselves on the pitch on match-days, and in doing so achieving the levels we have become used to.
Following a very memorable Saturday, the players were back in on Monday, and after a most enjoyable Christmas Luncheon with all the players and staff bedecked in Christmas jumpers, a number of the players were off to West Middlesex Hospital to distribute gifts they themselves had donated whilst later that same evening thirty players from the First and B Team Squads returned to the scene of their most recent triumph to enjoy time together with the fans
Back to the figures, and now we as fans have to achieve our own record levels of support, to match those of the players on the pitch, if we are to turn our dreams into reality. We know we have the quality on the pitch to match anybody in this League. Let's make sure we now raise our decibels to match those of last Saturday’s match which will remain not just long in the memory but a blueprint for the second half of this incredible season.
For Players: HMLD = High Metabolic Load Distance
For Supporters: HMLD = Home Matches - Loud Decibels