Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889 and it's formation was reported in 9th October 1889 edition of the Thames Valley Times with the headline: 'Proposed Football Club for Brentford'.
The article read "At the usual monthly meeting of the Brentford Rowing Club held last Monday, the question of starting a Brentford Football Club was discussed as an alternative sport for members to play during the winter months. It was resolved that a meeting be held at the Oxford and Cambridge Hotel at Kew Bridge tomorrow (Thursday,) evening to set the ball rolling at which all gentlemen interested in football are invited to attend. Such a meeting took place, during which it was proposed that the new Club be called 'The Brentford Rowing and Football Club".
"However, the general consensus of opinion was that the two Clubs should be kept separate and it was thus agreed that the name should be 'Brentford Football Club'.
"This still did not finalise matters, though because the vital question: Association or Rugby arose and yet another meeting was arranged for the following week to make a decision. At this meeting Association won the day by eight votes to five. The colours to be adopted were then discussed and it was decided that these should be salmon, claret and light blue, the same as the Rowing Club."
Nowadays of course 'The Bees' would be unrecognisable in such garish colours, the current strip comprising of red and white striped shirts, black shorts and black socks. The new Club played its first game on 23rd November 1889. The first pitch was in a field at the rear of the Wesleyan Chapel near Griffin Park and their first success was winning the West London Alliance in 1893. The next move was to a ground known as Shooters Field in Windmill Road, but the following season they were on the move again to play at Cross Roads, South Ealing. It was around this time that Brentford's nickname 'The Bees' came into existence.
A certain J.H. Gittens, who was attached to the Borough Road College and played for the Club just once before the turn of the century, persuaded one of his colleagues to attend the home games. Borough Road's war cry was BUCK UP B`s and they started shouting this at home games. The rest of the crowd mis-interpreted 'Bs' for 'Bees' and it was published in the press as such. Within a few years Brentford were universally known as 'The Bees'.
During the 1899/1900 season - the second in the Southern League - Brentford were fined £10 and suspended for a month by the Football Association. The crime was shamateurism - paying players - and The Bees were forced to turn professional. It was in 1904 that the Club moved to its new ground at Griffin Park - which is still 'home' today - but no success followed during a 12 season period in the first division of the Southern League and in 1912 came relegation, resulting in two seasons in the Second Division before the First World War.
The Club included in a reconstituted First Division for the first season after the war, they finished 15th and were fortunate to gain election to the new Third Division (South) of the Football League in 1920. They ended the first season bottom but one and had to seek re-election, this again being the case in 1925. It was not until the arrival of Harry Curtis in 1926 who was a former referee from Gillingham, that the Club made any real progress and during the decade from 1929 to 1939 they became one of the leading Clubs in the Country. The first sign of the new prosperity was the building of the main stand in the 1927/28 season.
In 1929/30 they set a record which still stands to this day of winning all 21 home games played during the season with a goal average of 66 for and 12 against. The Bees then set another record by rocketing from the Third to the First Division in three seasons (1933-35). Their dream, therefore of meeting the mighty Arsenal in a league match came true. With three League Championships behind them they were the monarchs of the Football League, the Club that all others would look at and envy and love to beat. In 1932/33, the first of Arsenal's hat-trick of titles, Brentford had won the Third Division South Championship and who would have thought that two years later that the two Clubs would be meeting in the First Division. Three weeks prior to the clash at Griffin Park saw the area at fever pitch, no match in the whole history of the Club had been talked about so much.
The Club itself was preparing for a capacity crowd of 40,000 and had arranged to open the gates early to let everyone in yet it turned out only 30,000 people attended, many people possibly being put off by the publicity of the huge crowd expected. Arsenal included no fewer than nine Internationals but the Bees were by no means overawed. Incredibly, Brentford were 2-0 up at half-time. After the interval however, Arsenal came more and more into the game and scored 10 minutes from time. They then threw everything at Brentford in an attempt to gain an equaliser but the Bees held out and the final whistle was greeted with a tremendous roar. The outcome of that season was to see Arsenal lose not only their League title but the tag of London's top team, which went to Brentford. "The Bees" finished fifth, just one point and one place ahead of Arsenal with 46 points from 42 games, which remains The Club's highest ever placing.
In 1938, Brentford reached the Quarters Finals of the F.A. Cup before losing to the eventual winners, Preston North End. There was a decline in the last season of competitive football before the war broke out, again with the team finishing in 18th position. With League competition suspended during the war years, most teams had to make do with scratch teams made up of guest players, although this did not stop Brentford winning the London War Cup final in 1942 when Portsmouth were beaten at Wembley in front of a 71,000 crowd.
On the resumption of League competition, Brentford, in what was to be their last in the old First Division, won four of their first five games, three of which were away and supporters thought the team were carrying on from where they left off. Unfortunately, only five games were won during the rest of the season culminating in relegation. On 26th February 1949 the Bees again reached the Quarter Final of the FA Cup, their home tie with Leicester City attracting an all time record attendance of 38,678. Their fortunes however in the League continued to slump and they plunged back into the Third Division in the space of seven years (1947-54) and finally into the Fourth Division in 1962/63. They remained there for only one season ending up as Champions.
Third Division football was seen again at Griffin Park until the end of the 1965/66 season when the dreaded drop came again. Mid January in 1967 saw the commencement of what was to prove to be the most traumatic period in the history of the Club when it was announced that Queens Park Rangers were negotiating to take over Brentford, which could have meant the end for this fine Club.
However, there was violent opposition to this project by both the general public and three Directors. The three Directors concerned were; Mr. E.J. Radley-Smith and the late Messrs F.A. Davis and E.M. Rogers. Wealthy businessmen Mr. R.J.R. Blindell and Mr L.F. Davey also joined them in their efforts. After weeks of protracted negotiations, a new board was formed of these five gentlemen with Mr. Ron Blindell as Chairman.
Sadly with his death in 1969, Mr. Blindell's association with the Club was short but he will always be regarded as the man who saved Brentford Football Club. He loaned the Club the sum of £104,000 (a vast sum of money in those days) interest free for 16 months during which time he encouraged his slogan of "economy with efficiency".
Drastic steps had to be taken to put the Club back on an even keel and they withdrew from all competitions with the exception of the Football League, F.A. and League Cups and retained a pool of just first team players. These drastic economies saw the Club begin to claw its way back and it is a credit to everyone involved that the final re-payment of the loan was made in November 1971, just four years after the unthinkable was about to happen. The improvement of the financial position of the Club was matched in an upturn with fortunes on the field.
Season 1969/70 saw the Club narrowly miss out on promotion to the Third Division but promotion was finally achieved at the end of the 1971/72 season, the Bees finishing in third place. The achievement was quite remarkable considering the Club was still running on a shoestring and Manager Frank Blunstone had a squad of only fourteen players to pick from. The first season in the Third Division was quite a struggle and still with only a limited squad of players they were unable to consolidate their position and were relegated to the Fourth Division again at the end of the 1972/73 season.
There followed a period of stagnation but finally promotion was again seen at the end of the 1977/78 season and finally the Club's Fourth Division days were over. In October 1981, Mr. Martin Lange was elected Chairman of the Club. In 1985, Brentford reached Wembley for the first time in forty-three years, but lost 3-1 to Wigan Athletic in the inaugural Freight Rover Final. With the appointment of Steve Perryman as player-manager in February 1987, he quickly re-organised the playing staff and re-launched the youth team, which would reap dividends in later years.
The 1988-89 season was the finest for some time, The Club competed in a mammoth total of sixty-eight games in all competitions - and reached the Quarter Final of the F.A. Cup - for the first time in forty years.
The 1991/92 season will for many be the finest they have experienced in their support of the Club, leading the pack for the vast majority of the season, supporters could see the Club regaining the Second Division status lost as long ago as 1954. However, poor results saw the Club drop down the League and it seemed as if once again the prize would slip. With six matches remaining Manager Phil Holder told his players that if promotion was to be achieved all these matches would need to be won. They responded in fine style and finally on 2nd May 1992 at Peterborough United a 1-0 victory secured not only promotion to the new First Division of the Football League but the title of Division Three Champions.
Unfortunately their stay in the First Division lasted just one season with relegation coming on the last day of the season at Bristol City. The 1993/94 season was one of reconstruction with David Webb taking over as Manager from Phil Holder and quietly reorganising the playing staff so that the Club finished in a mid table position. Brentford finished second in the table in 1994/95, the only season the runners-up were not promoted because of League reconstruction, so they had to take their chances in the play-offs. After a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield in the first leg of their semi-final, The Bees were favourites to go through to Wembley but after another 1-1 draw at Griffin Park the match went to penalties and Brentford's dreams were dashed with a cruel 4-3 defeat.
Season 1995/96 was a disappointing one for Brentford who had started the campaign as the bookmakers' favourites for promotion, finishing in fifteenth place. The highlight of the season came in the FA Cup when The Bees reached the fourth round for the first time since 1989 thanks to a superb 2-1 victory at Norwich, which earned a Littlewoods giant-killers award. The run ended with a thrilling 3-2 defeat at Charlton, whose Manager Steve Curbishley admitted it had been one of their hardest games of the season.
The 1996/97 season was also ultimately one of disappointment, for the Bees who had led the Division for 7/8ths of the season, lacked consistency in the final month and had to be content with a Play Off place. Their away form though was of Club record breaking proportions, with their 2-1 victory at Ashton Gate against Bristol City in the first leg of the Play Off Semi Finals, being their fifteenth of the season. They followed this up with a similar victory in the second leg at Griffin Park. But they were to ultimately lose to Crewe Alexandra in the Final at Wembley in front of over 20,000 of their own fans.
In August 1997, a Consortium comprising Mr John Herting an existing Director, Mr David Webb and Mr Tony Swaisland, acquired a majority share holding in the Club, with Tony Swaisland assuming the Chairmanship. David Webb became Chief Executive with Eddie May and Clive Walker joining the Club as manager and First Team Coach. After an indifferent run of results, the Club parted company with Eddie May and Clive Walker in early November and appointed former Fulham manager Micky Adams as Manager with Glenn Cockerill as his Assistant. However, come the end of the season, Brentford were relegated to the Third Division.
During the summer of 1998 the major shareholding in the Club was sold to Ron Noades. Having parted company with Adams, Cockerill and Coach Kevin Lock, he immediately appointed a coaching team comprising of Ray Lewington, Terry Bullivant and Brian Sparrow to work under him in his role of team manager. In their first season they won the Third Division Championship breaking a number of Club records en route, whilst Ron Noades himself collected two "Manager of the Month" awards during the season.
The team meanwhile collected a number of representative honours including Republic of Ireland Under 21 Internationals, a Republic of Ireland B International, Icelandic Internationals and a Football League representative match versus the Italian league. It was during this period that Icelandic International Hermann Hreidarsson became the Bees record signing (£750,000) and just over a season later he became the Club's record transfer out (£2.5m to Wimbledon).
Midway during the 2000/2001 season Ron Noades stepped down from his managerial role and handed Ray Lewington the post in a caretaker capacity. Following the Bees qualification for the LDV Vans Final in April 2001, Lewington was confirmed as Manager. Immediately after the season ended, Ray stepped down as Manager, and was replaced by ex-Manchester United winger Steve Coppell, who spent three spells in charge of Crystal Palace during the 80's and 90's.
Steve rose to the challenge and put together one of the most exciting Brentford teams in living memory. The Bees were just thirteen minutes from Division One in their last league match but Jamie Cureton stole an equaliser to send Reading up instead. Brentford managed to get to The Play Off Final however but lost 2-0 to fifth placed Stoke City.
In June 2002, Steve Coppell resigned and Wally Downes was appointed the new Brentford manager. He led The Bees to a respectable sixteenth position and the Fourth Round of the FA Cup. After a bad run of results in March 2004, Wally was dismissed with Brentford five points clear from safety. New manager Martin Allen guided the team from trouble after a tense 1-0 victory over AFC Bournemouth on the last day of the season.
Season 2004/05 saw Martin Allen transform the fortunes of the club. Having just avoided relegation in the previous season, The Bees quickly established themselves as serious promotion contenders, spending most of October in 2nd place following an eight match unbeaten run. Brentford also embarked on an amazing FA Cup run, including beating Bristol City on penalties in front of the TV cameras, beating eventual league champions Luton on their own patch and culminating in a 3-1 defeat in a fifth round replay at home to Southampton, following an incredible fight back from 2-0 down at St Mary's.
As Luton and Hull started to exert their authority at the top of the league, The Bees continued to fight for a play -off place, and this was achieved with a win at Wrexham in the penultimate fixture of the season. A mixture of the first team and juniors then beat promoted Hull City at home in the final league match, to see Brentford finish in a very respectable fourth place. The Bees eventually went down 3-1 on aggregate to eventual play-off final winners Sheffield Wednesday over two legs in the play-off semi final.
In 2005/06, Martin Allen again guided the Bees into the play-offs without further success. Brentford started the season with two successive wins, and were never out of the top six, reaching the play-off semi-finals with a couple of games to spare.
January 2006 saw the supporters trust, Bees United, become majority shareholders in the Club, and just a week later the humbling of Premiership side Sunderland in the FA Cup third round at Griffin Park. Striker DJ Campbell was sold to Birmingham City, but the Bees continued their march forward, eventually being knocked out of the FA Cup by Premiership side Charlton Athletic, and losing 3-1 on aggregate to Swansea City in the play-offs. This was to be Martin Allen's last game in charge, as he left the Club a few weeks later.
The following summer saw changes on and off the pitch, as Jay Tabb, Michael Turner and Sam Sodje were all sold in their respective bids to play at a higher level, and new Manager Leroy Rosenior took the reigns on 14th June.
Brentford started the 2006/07 season with an eight-match unbeaten run, halted by a 2-0 home defeat to Swansea on 12th September. However following the home win against Bradford City on 2nd September, The Bees embarked on a winless run that stretched to sixteen matches, and following a 4-0 home defeat to Crewe Alexandra on 18th November, Leroy Rosenior and Brentford FC parted company.
Youth Team Manager Scott Fitzgerald was made Caretaker-Manager with immediate effect, before being appointed on a full-time basis on 21st December 2006. The Bees finished the calendar year with a 2-1 win over Chesterfield, their first win in 119 days.
However despite bringing in a number of new players, including former Premiership star Neil Shipperley, Scott and Assistant Manager Alan Reeves couldn't stop the slide, and the Bees were relegated to League Two following a 3-1 defeat at Crewe in April 2007. Scott and Alan were relieved of their duties the following Monday.
Barry Quin took over as caretaker-manager for the last four matches of the season, with former England captain Terry Butcher being unveiled at the last home match of the season, a 4-3 win over Port Vale.
Former striker Andy Scott was named as Assistant Manager shortly afterwards.
The 2007/08 season has been one of mixed fortunes. After an encouraging start results started to dip so much so that relegation was a possibility before the turn of the year. Butcher was a casualty with the reins being passed to Andy Scott. The new Manager seemed to have the Midas touch as The Bees seven match winless run was halted and followed by a run of only one defeat in twelve which moved Brentford from relegation possibles to Play Off possibles, an amazing turnaround.