08 June 2020
MY BRENTFORD STORY: CRAIG TILLYER
Regular purchasers of our matchday programme will have seen the My Brentford Story feature running this season. Contributor Dan Long has spoken to fans about their time supporting The Bees and there have been some great tales. We will be running some of these stories on brentfordfc.com as we await further information on the resumption of football and accessing our historic Griffin Park home again. This is Craig's story.
My dad always recalls me pestering him when we look back on the early matches he took me to at Griffin Park.
As a five-year-old in 2003, naturally, my attention was short, but this wasn’t the usual pestering; I was desperate to see a goal. He took me to our 4-0 victory over Brighton that October and he insists that every game we watched together after that finished 0-0. I’ve been going ever since though, so my luck must’ve changed somewhere along the line.
This is my tenth consecutive year as a season ticket holder on Ealing Road and for my sins, I follow Brentford away as well. I only missed Ipswich Town away last season and one game the season before, so I have to say that I’ve got a lot more positive memories, as opposed to negative ones, that I can look back on. Some of my first memories are of when we played Swansea in the play-offs in 2004 or when we played Charlton in the FA Cup in 2005.
Another fond one is the day my mum and dad got me a mascot package for one of our games against Hartlepool. My favourite player growing up was Jay Tabb and, because there were only a few of us there, I got to walk out with him. I will never forget that day.
One of my all-time favourites has to be when we played Bradford in December 2008. It was the most boring game that you could ever imagine, and it was 0-0 until the 88th minute, which says it all. Marcus Bean then scored, but Bradford went down the other end and scored immediately. Then we got a free-kick as the clock struck 90 and ended up winning 2-1. I’ll never forget that game, right down to the exact position we stood - under the floodlight on the corner of Ealing Road. I’d never seen my old man celebrate a goal like that.
I’ve seen him celebrate like it since, mind you. We played Milton Keynes away near Christmas one year and that was when we had Wojciech Szczesny on loan from Arsenal. It was freezing cold, they absolutely battered us for the whole game and if we didn’t have him, we probably would have lost that five or six-nil. Late on, Charlie MacDonald goes one-on-one with their goalkeeper, puts it in the back of the net and we win 1-0. There must’ve only been a couple of hundred of us there to see it but that was unbelievable.
Griffin Park is like another home to me and I’ve met some of the most important people to me there.
It’s the first place I met my girlfriend Sarah at the start of the 2017/18 season. She’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but it was against Forest at home. We lost 4-3, maybe I should have taken something from the fact that we lost during our first unofficial date. Now, we’ve both got season tickets and we travel together from Farnborough to go to all the games.
My best friend Dale is also a Bees fan but, funnily enough, it wasn’t actually at Brentford that we first met each other, it was Southend away in January 2006. We always go to games together and now I’ve started dragging Sarah along with me as well, it’s quite nice to have some decent company for away games, I’ll tell you that!
A very close friend of mine was an older gentleman who always used to stand down the front of Ealing Road. Unfortunately, he died about two years ago and I still think about him every time I go. I always look down the front and expect to see him. He’s not there but I know he’s watching the boys, cheering them on through good and bad.
Going to the Corner Cafe is such an important part of matchday to me and, if I don’t go there, it’s the start of a bad day. We might be moving to a new stadium soon, but it’s one part of the pre-match ritual that I’ll hope to continue.
I’ve been discussing the last match of this season against Barnsley with a lot of people and I honestly don’t think there will be a dry eye in the place. Matthew Benham obviously knows what he’s doing and if he thinks a new stadium is the right way forward then I’m fully behind it.
Craig's story was first published in this season's matchday programme against Cardiff City on 11 December 2019. To get your Brentford Story online, email Programme Editor Chris Deacon on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you.