A lifelong Brentford fan who witnessed the club’s last game in top-flight football 74 years ago has said he was “delighted” to be in the crowd to cheer on his team in the Premier League.
Derek Burridge was at Griffin Park on May 26 1947 where, as with tonight’s Premier League opener, his side faced Arsenal.
This evening, the newly-promoted Bees beat the Gunners 2-0 at the Brentford Community Stadium, but seven decades ago the club exited the summit of English football after a tight 1-0 defeat.
“I was 14 at the time and in those days just after the war there was nothing on television. Anyone who wanted to see a football match had to go to it,” the 88-year-old told the PA news agency. “I didn’t have a season ticket, I couldn’t afford it, but I went to every home match.”
Asked how it felt to be back in the stands after the easing of Covid restrictions, Mr Burridge said: “We’ve been released and everybody, all the supporters, will be delighted it’s happened. And the footballers themselves… they’ve missed the support.”
Playing in the old Football League first division, Brentford were relegated in 1947 after coming second from bottom in a 22-team league.
But Mr Burridge added that he does recall watching a “fantastic win” that season, witnessing the Bees’ 4-1 victory over Wolves – one of the best teams in the country at the time.
“That was out of the blue. We still got relegated but they finished third in the table,” he added.
Talking about what has changed in the game since the 1940s, Mr Burridge said: “The pitches we would have been playing on in 1947 were nothing like this. This is something new which all the players will appreciate big time.”
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