Why Brentford are Arsenal’s bogey team: but hopefully not today

By Bulldog Drummond

Now you might be a little disinclined to call Brentford “Arsenal’s bogey team” but Brentford seriously were the team that amazingly caused Arsenal a lot of problems the last time we played them regularly.

Brentford arose from League Division Two to the first division in 1935 when Arsenal were absolutely the dominant team of the decade.   In that decade Arsenal won the league five times and the FA Cup twice.  And yet for several years we found it impossible to beat this west London team who had never played in the first division before.

In fact in seven games in a row which we either lost or drew in the seasons in which we came 6th, 3rd, 1st and 5th.   Only the last four games against them before the second world war restored any sort of normality.   Here is the complete record.

Date Match Res Score Competition
13 Dec 1902 Brentford v Woolwich Arsenal D 1-1 FA Cup
17 Dec 1902 Woolwich Arsenal v Brentford W 5-0 FA Cup
02 Nov 1935 Brentford v Arsenal L 2-1 Division One
04 Apr 1936 Arsenal v Brentford D 1-1 Division One
03 Sep 1936 Brentford v Arsenal L 2-0 Division One
09 Sep 1936 Arsenal v Brentford D 1-1 Division One
15 Apr 1938 Arsenal v Brentford L 0-2 Division One
18 Apr 1938 Brentford v Arsenal L 3-0 Division One
08 Sep 1938 Brentford v Arsenal L 1-0 Division One
06 May 1939 Arsenal v Brentford W 2-0 Division One
12 Oct 1946 Arsenal v Brentford D 2-2 Division One
26 May 1947 Brentford v Arsenal W 0-1 Division One
26 Sep 2018 Arsenal v Brentford W 3-1 League Cup

But things are looking up a bit.   We had a great run at the end of last season and besides, since the start of the Premier League, Brentford are the 28th team to join the league after the initial season.  That is of course neither here nor there but of those promoted clubs, only six have won their opening match.

Now the Premier League’s own site helpfully gives us a list of those winning teams, but in code.  So you have to guess who they are.  (No explanation is given as to why they suddenly start writing in code, but, well, you know.  It’s the Premier League.)

Season Team Opp. Result Final pos.
1999/00 BRA MID (A) 1-0 17th
2003/04 POR AVL (H) 2-1 13th
2006/07 REA MID (H) 3-2 8th
2008/09 HUL FUL (H) 2-1 17th
2010/11 BLP WIG (A) 4-0 19th
2017/18 HUD CRY (A) 3-0 16th

I’m not giving you the answers to that code, and I have to admit it took Untold a few moments to come up with the key to the code.   But I will reveal that Brentford have come third in the league for the last three seasons running and now have made it back to the big time.

Brentford was founded in October 1889, three years after Dial Square FC, which became Royal Arsenal FC which became Woolwich Arsenal FC which became The Arsenal FC which became Arsenal (but you knew all that).  But the mention of Dial Square (the name under which Arsenal played their first game) reminds us of the team that was set up to carry on the traditions of the original Arsenal club (according to its owners).  They will play this season in the Guildford & Woking Alliance League.  We’ll try to remember to keep an eye on them.

But back to Brentford.   They had a stop-start beginning to their time as a club but by 1896 they were playing in the London League and from there moved into the Southern League, and ultimately the Football League in 1920.

Last season Brentford gained three more points in the league at home than away, which was rather unusual – most clubs reversing the normal pattern, getting a higher number of points away.   (We’ve discussed this many times on this site, and the reason is clearly due to the influence of the home crowd on the referees.  Take that away and things even themselves up.  Last season, Arsenal got five more points away from home than at Arsenal stadium).

If you want to return to that theme and see the proof the relevant articles here are


2 Replies to “Why Brentford are Arsenal’s bogey team: but hopefully not today”

  1. So … he (Joe Willock)’s gone, eventually.
    Many Arsenal « fans » sound like they don’t have a problem with that. Some go to great lengths to explain why it’s actually such a clever move by the club, because: “he doesn’t fit in the system”, “he can’t defend”, his passing is bang average”, “he scores goals but his ratio minute/goal will plummet” (those are very impressive Nostradamuses reborn – I’m in awe of them, should they be proven right, they’ll deserve a proper cult), etc.
    So much so that, reading them, you end up feeling like the lad you foolishly thought was the outstanding Arsenal 20-21 player (in black – not red – and white, unfortunately), was actually no better than a Sunday morning veteran player.
    Well I, for one, regard this move as both a tragedy and a disgrace for the club, but rather than dwell on this, I feel like playing a little game. A little “What if?” game.
    What if … Joe Willock had been a NUFC academy scholar ever since he was four and a half?
    An amazing prospect, he was a favourite of many fans, who couldn’t quite grasp why this lad, one of the best goalscoring midfielders the club had ever had, wasn’t picked more often, at a time when their club was at an all-time low in terms of goals scored/creativity. As a matter of fact, he had never been provided with the significant run of games which would have given him the opportunity to prove his worth, by the bunch of … (censored) running the club.
    Then, NUFC’s physio room started to fill up – probably under the influence of Arsène Wenger’s training principles – and the coach had no choice but picking Joe. Lo and behold, the lad did what he had always been doing, at any level; he scored so many goals that he became the youngest player to score in seven consecutive games in PL history. Newcastle’s PL opponents started to worry they might be clever enough to keep him, and thus get, for free, a true game-changer in their starting XI.
    But the Magpies were plagued with “deciders” who “blew and idiot wind every time they moved their mouth”, and chose to spend £50m on a (good) CB, when they had at least four strong, reliable ones available already (Chambers-Holding-Saliba-Mavropanos), and £22m on an unknown (but good) Belgian midfielder, when they had at least 5 players available in that position (MNiles-Partey-Elneny-Torreira … and Joe, not to mention Azeez).
    That’s how the Magpies became the punchline of every transfer joke in the PL, after Arsenal bought them Joe Willock, for a ludicrous £20m …
    And that’s also how the Arsenal “fanbase” went berserk, thinking how sharp the rulers of the club were, and how this TW was a success to be remembered …
    As for Brentford tonight, well COYG of course anyway, what else??

  2. Best of luck to Joe. Hope things go well for him up north. We haven’t had a really good bogey team since Bolton and Sam the slug back in the day.

Comments are closed.