Welcome to my 2020 Christmas message.
The calendar year of 2020 has without doubt been one that none of us will ever forget, going down in history, as the year we all dealt with the impact of Covid 19. Firstly, I want to pass on my heartfelt condolences to all those fans who have lost loved ones to this horrific virus which has devastated so many families.
While this year has been tough, football has provided a welcome distraction for many and this year has seen us achieve so much. We came so close to achieving our dream of reaching the Premier League. History will show that 2020 was the year we achieved our best finish in 73 years and finally moved into our new stadium after 16 years of planning.
When the 2019/20 season was interrupted in March, we were looking at a chance of finishing in the top six. We restarted the season in mid-June and seven consecutive wins took us into the top three giving us a real shot at automatic promotion only to fall at the last hurdle when we lost our last two games and finished third. The play offs beckoned, and we beat Swansea City to set up a Play-Off Final at an empty Wembley against our great rivals Fulham. Our record in Play-Offs is well documented and this season was regrettably to see no change to that record.
This had been achieved on the back of nine new players joining the club at the start of last season. After a three-week break, the players were back in pre-season training and the truncated 20/21 season started on 12 September. The delayed transfer window saw the departure of Ollie Watkins (creating a club and EFL record transfer fee) and Saïd Benrahma. We had already acquired the services of Ivan Toney Saman Ghoddos and Charlie Goode followed closely by Vitaly Janelt as cover for the impressive Christian Nørgaard who had made such a valuable contribution to our new found defensive solidity in front of Pontus, Ethan and the rest of our defence.
The 2020/21 season has so far been very encouraging, and we currently sit well placed in fourth position in the table after a run of 13 unbeaten league games. Our management team have thrived under the relentless pressure of so many games in such a short space of time. Player and game management has been instrumental to our success alongside the goalscoring record of Ivan Toney who has scored 16 goals in 20 league games. The pundits are rightly talking about his goals but there is so much more to his game as he contributes in every part of the pitch.
I am writing this message on the morning after our brilliant 1-0 win over Newcastle United which means we have reached the Semi-Final of the Carabao Cup – the historic achievement of our first ever appearance in a Semi-Final of a major cup competition.
Of course 2020 was the year we bade farewell to Griffin Park. We had so many great plans to give it the send-off it deserved in front of fans but Covid-19 put paid to that. It will forever be a great sadness that our wonderful fans never got the chance to say goodbye at our last ever first team game there - a 3-1 victory over Swansea in late July.
It was 6 September when we played our first game at the new Brentford Community Stadium, exactly 116 years to the day since our first ever game at Griffin Park. This was tinged with more sadness as once again we had to play behind closed doors. Finally, as December came, we were able to welcome 2000 fans in for each of two games, only to have further fan attendances put on hold as London was locked down again.
With all that is happening with Covid-19 at the moment, it looks increasingly unlikely we will get fans back any time soon but my fervent hope is that you can join us in the run up to the end of what could be a momentous season.
The work and planning involved in moving to a new stadium should not be underestimated and I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to Jon Varney, Alan Walsh and the whole off field team who completed the transition from Griffin Park to the new stadium with such success. The response from you, our fans, has been incredible with some 10,000 Season Tickets sold and over 1,200 Premium Seats. When attendance at games this season looked unlikely 94 per cent of you deferred your ticket to next season. We are grateful to every single one of our fans for their support as well as our sponsors and partners who have provided invaluable support during such a difficult year and we will require more of the same in the first half of 2021.
Once again the support we have had from our owner, Matthew Benham, has enabled us to weather the storms so far and build upon the strong foundations laid in the previous year. I know fans will want me to take this opportunity to thank him for everything that he has done, and continues to do, for this great club.
Finally, I would like to reiterate my thanks to all of you, for your continuing support, and to our players and coaching staff, and all the on field and off field staff who have worked tirelessly under incredibly difficult circumstances.
I am extremely grateful to the Board who continue to help us focus on our strategy both on and off the pitch, much of which Jon Varney refers to in his Christmas message.
To everyone connected with this great club I would say the following:
Dream big, work hard, stay focused and surround yourself with great people!
I think we have put ourselves in a great position to achieve our dreams by doing just that.
Many of us will not be able to share Christmas Day with our extended families but I do believe we will all meet again soon. May I end by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and most importantly a happy and healthy New Year.