When you arrive at the Club’s Jersey Road training ground in the morning it is often a hive of activity. Naturally, it’s the staff on site first to organise and prepare for another day’s hard work ahead of the players’ arrival for training.
As the B Team media, analysis and kit staff arrive for around 08:00am and unpack their things in the office in preparation for the day, they’ll often flick the kettle on for a cup of coffee. By 8:30am they’ll then frequently be joined by one of the players who will also be after their morning caffeine dose.
When it first happened the staff instantly looked to their watches to double check the time. You would end up thinking to yourself: ‘Is it time for the players to report already?’ You then come to realise that there is still almost two hours before the scheduled report time for the young players.
That player who is so regularly early and will begin with his own gym session is Dom Jefferies.
It is now a regular theme as more and more players have opted to head in early to get some extra gym work in before training.
19-year-old Dom knows that hard work is the absolute minimum if he wishes to forge a career in the game he cares for. He put pen to paper with Neil MacFarlane’s side ahead of the 2021/22 season after impressing on trial. Having suffered setbacks in the run up to his arrival in West London, Dom knows he’s got an opportunity here and he certainly doesn’t intend to waste it.
He spent his early days in the Academy setup with Cardiff City after joining at the age of 10. Tours to the likes of Valencia followed with Cardiff before he opted to join Newport County- his hometown team at 14.
“I got into the Under-16s with Newport County and was often playing with players older than me and I did well enough to earn a scholarship,” explained Dom.
“In my first year I was training with the youth team and opportunities didn’t come along at once to train with the first team. It was my second year where things really started to progress, I had pre-season with the first team, and I played against Bath City in a friendly at right back.
“After the game I was told I’d be joining them for the season and I was given a squad number. I played a few games in the cup competitions which included 90 minutes in the FA Cup.”
Those experiences saw Dom make his first team debut in September 2019 against West Ham United Under-21s in the EFL Trophy. He played 90 minutes in a 5-4 defeat before going on to feature in the same competition against Exeter City and then Cheltenham Town.
An FA Cup debut saw him feature against Maldon & Tiptree in a 1-0 win before he played his final Newport game in January 2020 in their 3-0 win over MK Dons, once again in the EFL Trophy.
“Then Covid hit,” said Dom as he paused to reflect. “My end of year review came around and I genuinely felt that I was going to get a professional contract. It hit me by surprise that I was told that I wouldn’t be getting one.
“I then chose the non-league route, so I went to Salisbury and played eight games before the league was cancelled. It was then a case of going up to the local field where I lived with a bag of balls every day. I didn’t choose to work; I chose to train. I then had the chance to come here on trial and I managed to get offered something.”
The chance to head to West London with Brentford gave Dom the opportunity he needed. A moment to prove himself and work as hard as possible.
“The first couple of weeks I knew I wasn’t fit enough and having trained alone I knew that wouldn’t be enough to kick on,” recalled Dom. “My mentality was to work hard and get myself to where I needed to be as well as believe in my ability, and it helped that I had the chance to work under some top coaches. I started to kick on and I managed to get into a position where I was starting games over signed players and Neil kept telling me to keep pushing and I did every day to earn my spot at the Club.
“It made me want to snatch the opportunity more because I hadn’t got what I wanted before and that’s made me work even harder. All the boys know that they have to give 100% in training, and you then get rewards on the pitch. Neil demands high standards, as do I, and the rest of the boys.”
Having gone through the disappointment and uncertainty following his departure from Newport, Dom has been able to flourish in a full-time environment with Brentford. The central midfielder, who possesses a steely determination on and off the pitch, has added to the group this season and the 19-year-old believes that he is able to have a positive impact on his teammates as he hopes to be a leader on the pitch.
“I try to take on that role because I’ve always been like it,” explained Dom. “That’s my mentality and I think everyone expects it from each other. I’ve always had leadership qualities and I don’t mind digging people out when it needs to happen, but I also don’t mind praising people when they’ve done something well.
“I think that mentality can take you a long way. Obviously, you need to be technical as well, but you also have to believe in yourself and lead by example.”
So, where does Dom see himself now having really settled into the Club since signing for the young Bees?
He continued: “I’ve developed technically from when I first arrived. It’s scary, my fitness levels have got higher and higher, my body fat has decreased, and I feel like I’m moulding into being the best athlete that I can be. Before, I’d train once or twice a week but now I’m in all the time, I have a proper diet and I’m more aware of what to eat.
“As the season continues, I want to be much fitter, stronger and sharper to make myself the best athlete I can be. I want to be starting every match for the B Team and push towards that First Team group.”
When you cast an eye over the B Team squad, one of the things that springs to mind is the varied pathways that the players have taken to arrive at Jersey Road. You’ve got the likes of Daniel Oyegoke who has been schooled at Arsenal since the age of 14, or you’ve got Nathan Young-Coombes who has been on the books with Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Rangers.
Also in that group you have a set of young players who have come through the less traditional route into a Premier League Club. Alongside Dom, who spent time within a League Two and then a non-league side, you have Ryan Trevitt who turned out for Leatherhead, and Fin Stevens who arrived from Worthing.
On that blend of experiences, Dom feels it can only help the squad. He said: “There’s a good mixture. It’s good to listen to players’ stories from where they’ve been at and what they’ve learned. I’ve not come from the best clubs in the world that have world class facilities, but I can learn from these boys that have been at the likes of Arsenal or Chelsea. We all compare, and we learn from each other every day.”