If you wander through the area surrounding Kew Bridge in west London, you’ll occasionally catch the slightest glimpse of Brentford’s new stadium. Wedged in between other large-scale developments and bordered by a combination of roads and railways, the new home of this iconic west London club peaks its shiny head out – once you find the right vantage point.
The Brentford Community Stadium stands as a testament to the classic London way of making the most of a small space, indeed much like Brentford’s old ground Griffin Park, in which they are playing out the remainder of this current Championship season without the supporters present to give the ground the send-off it deserves.
While their new home is a sleek example of modern stadium design, there are similarities to be drawn with their current stadium. After all, Griffin Park is similarly crammed into a small plot of land – too small, in fact, to match the club’s ambitions for the future – with pubs and houses lining the outer edges of the stands, so much so that if it weren’t for the tall floodlight pylons rising into the London fog, you would hardly know there was a stadium there at all.
But Brentford’s change of location is reflective of their ambition to better themselves on the pitch. They are leaving the quiet confines of the area surrounding Griffin Park for the bustle of the ever-developing Kew Bridge, with the traffic roaring from the M4 and South Circular, and the tall, modern apartment buildings stretching into the sky.
And right now, Brentford’s on-field performances are giving their supporters hope that their first season in the new stadium may well be their first season in the Premier League. Thomas Frank’s side currently lie in third place in the Championship table, are highly fancied each week in the EFL Championship odds, and with just a few games remaining, Brentford could well be on the brink of securing a return to the top flight of English football for the first time since the 1946-47 campaign.
Indeed, were they to secure promotion it would be the latest step in the club’s meteoric rise from a lower league yo-yo club to an established force in English football. The club is run in a way that maximises efficiency in terms of finance and recruitment, and the evidence is there to see that Brentford’s way of working can yield success on the pitch as well as off it.
Since the Championship resumed, the Bees have been in stellar form, having won five out of five post-lockdown fixtures at the time of writing, having conceded just one goal. In Ollie Watkins, they have one of the Championship’s highest-rated attacking players, Saïd Benrahma pulls the strings in midfield, with the familiar domineering presence of former Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson at the back.
All in all, Brentford have a squad whose sum is greater than their parts. Frank has done a fine job to galvanise the team since the departure of Dean Smith in 2018, and Brentford now stand a better chance of promotion than in any of Smith’s seasons in charge.
The coronavirus pandemic has sadly put paid to Brentford’s ‘Farewell Griffin Park’ celebrations, and the move to the new ground is likely to be a touch anti-climactic given the current climate. But perhaps the best way to give Griffin Park the send-off it deserves is to create history one more time at the quaint old ground, and gain promotion. At Brentford, the time is right for the old to give way to the new, and the never-before savoured treat of Premier League football may well be awaiting Brentford’s loyal supporters when they’re finally allowed to grace their new home.