IN the last column, we looked at George Sands' report of the Brentford v Southend game from January 1967, the day after the devastating news broke that neighbours QPR were launching a takeover bid which would spell the end of Brentford FC.
Here, we take a look at the front page of the Middlesex Chroncile from the same edition - January 27, 1967 - where the lead story was headlined 'Brentford's fate in the balance - Fortnight's reprieve', alongside a report of the meeting at Griffin Park of thousands of fans determined to preserve the club's future.
The lack of a byline means it's unclear whether or not George wrote the story, but in terms of its historical significance, its well worth placing alongside George's report of the previous weekend's game.
IF the enthusiasm and fervour of Brentford Football Club's hard core of some 3,500 thick and thin supporters could save the club, then the red and white shirts would assuredly be seen at Griffin Park when August comes round. But since the news of Queens Park Rangers' takeover bid broke last Friday, it has been a week of uncertainty for the Bees and their followers.
At the moment of writing, the fate of the club is still in the balance, although following a meeting between chairman Jack Dunnett (who owns 81 and a half per cent of the club's shares) and general manager Dennis Signy, it appears that Brentford have been given a fortnight's reprieve.
Brentford's liabilities amount to £262,000, which Queens Park Rangers would settle if the proposed takeover took place. The club's overdraft has been exceeded by £18,000, but the bank have agreed to take no immediate action, and the £1,700 needed to meet the wages for the next two weeks is assured.
But what will happen in February? Will Griffin Park be taken over by the Rangers, and Brentford close down as a club, after 79 seasons in which they have played in all four divisions of the Football League and on all 92 grounds?
Will they become tenants of Griffin Park, with Queens Park Rangers as landlords? Or will enough money be raised to enable Brentford to weather the financial crisis, keep the ground for themselves, and hope to recover some of their lost glories in the near future?
Brentford have lost £400 a week sicne the start of the present season, their gates have slumped by about 50 per cent in the past two years. After the open meeting called by Peter Pond-Jones, the Supporters Club chairman, at Griffin Park on Monday evening, promises to take up shares worth £34,000 were received, subject to the club receiving authorisation to make the new issue. Many other fundraising projects were suggested, of which several are likely to be adopted.
After the shareholders' meeting at Griffin Park on Tuesday, Mr Dunnett outlined the progress of the takeover talks in great detail, and at the end of a 20 minute session the club's hopes of beating the crisis were based on three factors:-
(a) Supporters' promises to take up 68,000 shares, worth £34,000.
(b) Direrctor Mr Radley Smith's suggestion that the board should be broadened to bring in local businessmen.
(c) Further economies to be made by the club.
Seldom has a cup tie at Griffin Park given rise to greater enthusiasm than that shown by a demonstrative yet orderley crowd of 3,500 supporters of both sexes and of all ages who occupied threequarters of the Griffin Park grandstand and most of the enclosure on Monday evening, and from the size of the assembly it was obvious that the police authorites had acted wisely in advising the organisers to change the venue from a Kew hotel to the club's own premises.
Banners were flying, cheerleaders and slogan-criers shouted themselves hoarse. Almost every first team player and many of the reserves attended. Share forms were distributed and signed during the meeting, and at the close it was estimated that Brentford fans had pledged themselves to purchase 15,000 ten shilling shares, whenever they come up for sale. As the crowds left Griffin Park, coins pelted into blankets placed near to exits to receive donations, which amounted to more than £180.
Mr Pond-Jones informed the meeting that two local businessmen who wished to remain anonymous at this stage had each offered to purchase shares to the value of £10,000; from another quarter £5,000 had been promised, and there were other offers of smaller but quite appreciable amounts.
Director Mr E Radley-Smith, a Harley Street surgeon, explained why Brentford's finances had straitened so dangerously. During the past five seasons, £114,000 had been spent on transfer fees, as compared with £30,000 received for players leaving the club.
"It would be a tragedy," declared Mr Michael Barnes (MP for Brentford and Chiswick), "if a club with such a long and distinguised history is allowed to drop out of the Football League."
Bobby Ross (club captain) assured the assembly that the greatest possible effort woulod be forthcoming from every player on the club's books. Team manager Billy Gray, afforded a thunderous reception, spoke in the same vein.
Others to address the meeting were Dennis Signy (general manager), George Hutchinson (Supporters Cliub Secretary), Alan Simpson (script writer for Steptoe & Son, and a Brentford supporter for 20 seasons) and Mr W Pharo.
A letter was received from Alderman A G King (Mayor of Hounslow), regretting that a prior engagement prevented him from attending the meeting, and expressing his best wishes to the club in their efforts to weather the storm.