Terry Evans reckons if Brentford's derby against Fulham on Friday was being played in his day, there would be as much venom on the pitch as in the stands.
Bees legend Evans played for the club at a time when both they and Fulham were regular Third Division rivals, with owners like Matthew Benham and Mohammed Al-Fayed a distant dream.
Evans, who now works on the medical team for rugby union side Wasps, admits the rivalry meant just as much to the players as the fans in those far off days, when men were men and Detsi Kruszynski was considered an exotic signing.
He said: “There was no love lost, and we hated each other in the nicest possible way. Bliss (Gary Blissett) had a run in with Jim Stannard, as did Batesy (Jamie Bates) with Gordon Davies. That's how it was back then, derbies really counted. We would always back ourselves, and we had a decent run against Fulham.
“Of course they were big games, both Fulham and Orient were. We all knew the drill, it was a rivalry on and off the pitch, and they were always special because we knew they were important to the fans.
“You trained together, played together, fought together and stuck together, and we were all just local lads. It's a bit more free and easy for players to move on now, you don't see many testimonials these days. You just stayed with a club in our day, what would be the point in moving up north for an extra £100 a week?"
Between 1986 and 1994, Brentford beat Fulham 10 times and only lost four, and the one which Bees fans will always hold as special was a 4-0 drubbing of their west London rivals in April 1992, a week before they lifted the (old) Division Three title at Peterborough.
Evans said: “I remember we were on a good run. We played on the Sunday, and all the results had gone our way on the Saturday, so we knew what we had to do against Fulham. We were on fire that day and everyone was on top of their game, and Fulham didn't have a lot to play for to be fair. We knew we could do it then, that if we won at Peterborough we would be champions.”
That title triumph lifted Brentford into the second tier for the first time in 38 years, and following an instant relegation the next season, it would be another 22 years before they would return this year.
One school of thought amongst Bees fans is they would have survived more than just one season last time round if Evans had no got injured early in the campaign, ruling him out for most of it.
He said: “That's nice for them to say, but who knows? I was rushed back to play the last few games, but some screws came loose in my knee. It was quite an unlucky season, we had a lot of injuries that year and conceded late on in quite a few games. It was a tough year, and there were some really good sides in that division.
“Brentford's is still the first result I look for, even though I don't get to many games now. The boys have done fantastic, and I'm sure they have achieved more than expected already. They have decent people behind them now and are going places, everything looks rosy.
“I totally believe they will say up. It can be a total lottery, as we found last time, and you have to stay injury free. But they do have the advantage of nice tight compact ground which other teams won't enjoy coming to, with good partisan fans.”
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