Bees Stung By Leeds' Last Gasp Survival!
Ever since the 21/22 Premier League fixtures were published last June, I knew I would have to wait until the final day of the season to complete my 92 for a second time. I started the season needing the new Tottenham Stadium, Barrow, and Wimbledon's new Plough Lane as well as the Brentford Community Stadium and those first three were knocked off earlier this season including Leeds' trip to Spurs. Obviously, I could never have dreamed that Leeds' visit on the final day would be so important to Leeds' survival.
The Bees moved into the Brentford Community Stadium in 2020 after spending the previous 115 years at the old Griffin Park ground so loved by home and visiting supporters alike solely because of the four pubs, one on each corner of the ground!
I was in with the Leeds fans of course, in the regular away section situated in the northeast corner and with the big main stand over to our left where the players emerged from before the game. I'd travelled from central London as I was stopping there for a couple of nights and decided to take the tube to Chiswick Park which is just over a mile or 2o minutes' walk from the ground. Another option, that gets you much closer to the ground at the Brentford end, is to take the train to Kew Bridge Station; regular trains run from Waterloo and Clapham Junction. A word of warning though, I came back that way after the game and getting into Kew Bridge Station is a bit of a puzzle!
The new Brentford ground is tiny, with a capacity of just 17,250, ludicrous for a Premier League ground. I daresay Leeds could have sold that many tickets themselves without any Brentford fans if they'd been allowed to! As it is, around 1,700 away fans are allowed and obviously, Leeds sold those easily. The attendance for the Leeds game was a new record for the ground at 16,957.
My seat was right at the front of the upper tier in the East Stand with the large Main Stand to my left. It had a good view and the seat had plenty of space although, as always, all the Leeds fans stood throughout the game. The ground is also used by the Rugby Union side, London Irish, and the pitch markings from previous Premiership Rugby matches were still clear, albeit repainted green, on the pitch during our game.
For the big teams, drinking near the ground is probably not going to be easy if our experience is anything to go by. A long list of pubs NOT accepting Leeds fans was published ahead of the game including the original choice of The One Over The Ait, a Fuller's pub that sits overlooking the Thames near the Kew Bridge. We did however get into the Express Tavern (also known as the Express Ale & Cider House) that sort of backs onto the ground. It was perfect as it was a really hot, sunny day and so the huge beer garden was ideal and there was even a bit of a marquee down one side of the pub if the weather wasn't as kind.
An original coaching inn stop, from London to Bath. the current building is thought to date from the 1860s and has been a local landmark for more than 200 years. As well as two bars inside the pub they had opened one at the bottom of the beer garden too which helped deal with the usual huge Leeds ale demand. The bar inside apparently has ten hand pumps but I didn't venture inside, preferring to get my supply of Camden Hells Lager from the beer garden.
As a brand new stadium, all the technology seemed to work with QR codes on the match tickets working the first time (unlike Chelsea and Spurs for example!) and the toilets were clean and tidy albeit, as always, far too small for the numbers being catered for.
The only unusual feature of this ground is the multi-coloured seats - apparently an attempt to ensure that if the ground has empty seats, they don't look empty! Other than that it could really be any modern stadium the likes of Wimbledon for example where I was earlier this season.
As to the game itself, well, there is my usual match report elsewhere on this website if you want a match report. Suffice to say it was vital that Leeds got a positive result and one better than Burnley could achieve in their home game with Newcastle if we were to avoid relegation. We did that, beating the Bees 2 - 1 with goals from Raphinha (penalty) and Jack Harrison in added time securing the victory with the Brentford goal coming between those from Canos. Burnley lost to the Toon of course and hence it was the Clarets that went down to the Championship.