Brentford favourite Allan Cockram still has fond feelings about his time at the club but was grateful it was in the era before mobile phones.
The 53-year-old spent three years at Griffin Park, between 1988 and 1991, and he made 90 appearances for the club and scored 14 goals.
And his fun-loving attitude made him a favourite with the supporters as he believed in interacting with them and make them feel a part of the club.
But, in the days of social media, players are much more guarded in order to protect their image.
He said: “It was pre mobile phone so you could do what you wanted to do in a sense. You'll have heard ex players that it was a time of more characters and stuff like that.
“I'm not one of those detractors to the modern game. I know it must be hard as a player when everyone has a phone.
“I used to have a drink on the half-way line. An old boy used to have a hip flask and I used to have a nip of his brandy on the halfway line. He'd call me over and go Cockers, have a nip and it'll do you well.
“There was one game where I fell into the crowd and I put his flat cap on and I'm playing with it on.
“You can imagine nowadays that you'd be taken to task – Cockram's an alcoholic etc. - for me that's where it's gone wry as the connection between player and supporter was close.
“We'd drink in the Bees Inn every game and have a beer with the fans. That never happens these days.
“I was a supporter so you become the player you'd like to see. I'd ask the fans who they wanted me to find at corners for instance.
“I don't see that anymore and I can see some players are frightened that something they do may be misrepresented. It makes me sad in a way.”
One of the highlights of Cockram's time at Griffin Park was the FA Cup run to the sixth round where they faced a daunting trip to Liverpool in March 1989.
The Bees fought hard and held the then champions of England to a goalless draw at half-time, riling manager Kenny Dalglish.
But the Merseyside giants' quality took on after the break and a Peter Beardsley brace, coupled with goals from John Barnes and Steve McMahon sent Liverpool to the semi final.
He reflected: “It was when the draw was on Match of the Day. We were all crowded around and, to be honest, if we'd got West Ham or Norwich at home we'd have a chance to get through to the semi final and the draw everyone wanted was Liverpool away which we got and the rest was history.
“They're one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The build up wasn't different.
“Steve Perryman brought in Tango footballs and they were the modern ball at the time but they had a lighter tendancy to them but there was nothing really specified about Liverpool because what are you going to say? They're European Champions, who cares?
“I remember a real fun aspect to the day. We'd held our own in the first half and could have gone 1-0 up through Richard Cadette.
“At half-time Kenny Dalglish was going mental at the Liverpool players and that was our gee up. When you look at the goals everyone was shattered mentally and physically.
“Everyone was knackered as they'd given their all in the first hour of the game. The physical and emotional side of things drained us after an hour and their technique took over.”
While it would be frowned upon at the time, Cockram admitted he was mentally exhausted after the hour mark, especially with the adrenaline pumping for so long before a game.
He explained: “People don't appreciate it when you hear athletes talk and they say they were emotionally drained. It wasn't thought of back in the day.
“Imagine you're going to Anfield as a third division player; imagine the build up to that and the emotion of that week.
“You're travelling up and you're excited and the adrenaline isn't pumping. In a normal league game it doesn't start pumping an hour before the game.
“We only have so much adrenaline and unless we were on anabolic steroids then you're going to be tired and that's when the class tells a bit more.”
Cockram's career at Griffin Park came to an end in 1991 with Phil Holder preferring a more direct style of play, meaning the flair player was frozen out.
Cockram reflected: “I couldn't stand him and vice versa. I have very strong football principles in the way the game should be played.
“Steve (Perryman) was great and we had a good footballing team. He was open about it. He said we were going to play a progressive game which means we whack it long and we start running.
“He had success with it but the higher you go you can't maintain that standard. I was his anti-Christ.
“I was a regular and I made 23, I think, consecutive substitute appearances and he'd throw me on to do something different.
“I always had the backing of the crowd and had great letters and emails when I left the club. It was a sad time as I thought of myself as a creative footballer and exciting the crowd.
“It's football. That's how it was at times. It doesn't bother me at all these days.”
Cockram is now running Brentford Penguins, a club for footballers with Down's Syndrome associated with DSActive and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.
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