On October 10 1889 in a public house close to Kew Bridge aptly called The Oxford and Cambridge Hotel a meeting took place of the Brentford Rowing Club.
Discussions had been going on with the idea that the club should widen its sporting interests - with a land-based activity involving some kind of ball.
What sort of shape should the ball be oval or round?
Put to a vote at a meeting it was decided that by eight votes to five association football would draw more interest from the local population than rugby.
This assumption proved correct for according to records the football club commenced playing games in November 1889 on a pitch at Clifden House Ground.
The first fixture was against Kew FC.
After only nearly three years the land changed hands and they were forced to find a new home on Benn’s Field in Little Ealing Lane.
The club felt that a home pitch nearer to Brentford town was needed especially given support for the club was growing with larger crowds attending the matches. So for a while the club used the Boston Park Cricket Ground in York Road.
It was soon time for further expansion and the club took on a 21 years lease on the former orchard.
200 fruit trees were chopped down and the ground levelled. Banking was raised on three sides and in August 1904 trial games were played on the new pitch and must have been satisfactory as the fist match was played in September that year.
At first there were no changing rooms on site and accomodation at the nearby Griffin Public House was booked which no doubt pleased the landlord. And so the ground became Griffin Park taking the name from the pub.
It is, I understand the only footbal club in the country that has a public houes at each corner - which are The Royal Oak, The New Inn, The Princess Royal and of course The Griffin.
Once establish the club began to grow and prosper during the 1920’s. It was a founder member of the 3rd Division South and won all of its home matches. During the Second World War, in spite of losing some players to war service Brentford competed in the London War Cup losing in the final at Wembley Stadium to Reading.
The rest of the male members of my family went to Wembley to see the match and bought their tickets at the turnstile to gain entrance and boasted ever after about attending a cup final at the Stadium.
While I must admit to not being a great football fan, I do follow Brentford closely and have attended a few games in the past.
In those days the fans were entertained before a match and during the interval by the Hanwell Silver Band and always received an great ovation from the crowd. It was with much personal pride that I arranged for the London Massed Bugle and Drum Band to play for the Brenford fans, once under floodlights.
It was a great sight and the boys enjoyed themselves as they were invited to watch the game as well.
The Brentford FC story continues as plans were recently approved for a 20,000 capacity purpose built ground in Lionel Road Brentford. So happy birthday to Griffin Park and continued good fortune to the Brentford Football Club.
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