Brentford came within seven minutes of a famous FA Cup triumph against Chelsea five years ago today (January 27) and, for chief executive Mark Devlin, it's a key indicator of how far the club has progressed in that time.
Bees fans queued until after midnight, in freezing conditions, after seeing off a Paul Smith inspired Southend to get their hands on their tickets for the showdown with the then European champions.
And the following days saw queues going around the ground as the snow fell and the temperatures dropped to book their seats.
Fast forward to today though and Devlin believes that Brentford could sell out the game much earlier with their online ticketing system, which was installed in 2014.
He remembers: “I remember the night we beat Southend in the FA Cup and we were facing Chelsea at home.
“We put tickets on sale and we had no online ticketing systems. The ticket office worked until 20 to one serving fans after the game.
“It took us three days dealing with huge queues in the snow. It was very cold when we played that game.
“We brought in additional phones all to sell a game out. If we were to draw Chelsea now we'd be able to sell that game out in a couple of days without the need for people to queue in inclement conditions.
“And so, the business systems we have now and the access control from season ticket holders.
“We're slowly but surely getting to understand our fans and what they do and interested in when they get here, aside from the game, such as the food and beverage we brought in and has gone from losing money to making money.”
Given Griffin Park's antiquated setup, Devlin knows there are areas where the club fall down on when it comes to the matchday experience but feels there is not much more that can be done, especially with a move to a new stadium potentially under two years away.
He added: “We know where we're weak; queues for food, toilet facilities and parking. We've opened new bars and temporary bars.
“We've brought in the coffee and pancake area but there's not much more we can do. The matchday experience we give here now has been enhanced, not least by the quality on show and we want to keep pace and make this a great place to come.
“It's an old, historic stadium and we know our toilet facilities are not of this century.
“We've added in temporary facilities around the stadium but it's about as much as we can do. I'm really pleased with the way the club has come on in the last six and a half years I've been here.”
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