Brentford FC is a professional English football club based in the suburban town with the same name which lies within the Hounslow borough of West London.
At the moment, it is part of the Premier League, the highest level in the English football structure, after surviving its maiden campaign in 2021/22.
Despite its long history, Brentford has not won any major titles and mostly featured in the lower divisions of English football where it has earned 4 league-titles in the 4th tier, 3 titles in the 3rd tier and a lone triumph in the 2nd tier. It has also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on 4 occasions.
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Red, white and black have been the traditional colours of the club. The team plays with red and white striped shirts matched with black shorts and socks. The club crest has undergone various changes and the latest design features a double roundel showing the name and founding year with a large bee in the centre.
The club was originally nicknamed the B’s but local press interpreted it as the Bees and the moniker stuck. In 2020, it moved into the Brentford Community Stadium that has a modest capacity of 17,500 spectators, which makes it the smallest arena in the Premier League. Earlier, Brentford had used Griffin Park as its home-ground since 1904.
Its main local rivals are Fulham and Queens Park Rangers, the two more famous clubs from West London. The enmity with Fulham stretches way back and has even resulted in crowd violence. Hostilities with QPR started in 1967 with its failed takeover bid of the Bees which would have seen Brentford drop out of the Football League.
Brentford FC was founded on 16th October 1889 in the town of Brentford, Middlesex which was also home to the Brentford Rowing Club and Boston Park Cricket Club. It was the members from this rowing club that were critical in the formation of the football club when a new recreation ground was opened in the neighbourhood.
The Early Decades
In its initial years, Brentford FC was an amateur side, mostly playing in friendly matches and local competitions such as West Middlesex Cup and the West London Alliance. After gathering decent success, the club was voted into the 2nd Division of the London League, a competition held in London and surrounding areas of south-east England.
It ended as runners-up of the London League 2nd Division in 1896/97 to earn promotion after a single campaign. In 1897/98 Brentford finished as runners-up in 1st Division as well as clinching the London Senior Cup and Middlesex Senior Cup. Due to such exploits, it was elected into the Southern League in 1898.
Brentford started the 1898/99 season in 2nd Division of the Southern League and finished in 4th position in the 12-team competition. The club also made its maiden appearance in the FA Cup but lost its very first match against Clapton in the 3rd qualifying round. It gained promotion by taking the league-title in 1900/01.
For the beginning of the 1904/05 season, Brentford moved into Griffin Park, its first permanent home-stadium. In 1905/06, it qualified for the FA Cup proper and reached up to the 3rd Round where it was beaten by Liverpool at Anfield. The club remained in the 1st Division of Southern League until its relegation in 1912/13.
After the end of World War I, Brentford rejected the opportunity to be elected to the Football league and instead applied for the Southern League 1st Division. But in 1920, Brentford and 20 other clubs from the Southern League clubs were elected to the Football League as the founding members of its Third Division.
The Bees ended the maiden season in 21st position but the club was re-elected to the division before going to a poll. For the 1921/22 campaign, the Third Division was split into two regional leagues and Brentford featured in the South division where it stayed until the end of the decade.
Moving to the Top-Flight
After spending years in the mid-table, Brentford narrowly missed out on promotion in 1929/30 after finishing the league in 2nd position. It remained at the top-end of the table for the next couple of years until it secured promotion by winning the Third Division South title in 1932/33.
In 1933/34, Brentford played its first season in the Football League Second Division and ended the campaign in 4th spot, falling short of successive promotions by a single point. Nevertheless, it was able to pick up the Second Division title in the 1934/35 campaign to earn promotion to the top-tier.
Brentford started in the Football League First Division in the 1935/36 season and ended its debut campaign in 5th spot, which remains its best top-flight finish till date. The Bees kept up its form for the next couple of seasons, taking 6th place in the league-table in 1936/37 and 1937/38.
However, the team suffered a massive drop in the subsequent 1938/39 campaign and barely avoided relegation by finishing just 3 points above the drop-zone in 18th position. Meanwhile, World War II had broken out at the start of the following season and the First Division was suspended for the next 7 years.
The Post War Decline
When the Football League resumed after the end of the War, like many other English clubs Brentford had become a shadow of its old self during the interlude. It finished the 1946/47 season in 21st position of the First Division and was therefore relegated down to the 2nd tier.
In 1947/48, Brentford returned to the Second Division and finished the season in 15th position. Over the next few years, it had seemingly established itself in the mid-table until it ended the 1953/54 campaign down in 21st position and was therefore relegated to the 3rd tier of English football.
Brentford began 1954/55 in the Third Division South and finished in 11th spot at the end of the campaign. After ending the next two seasons inside the top-8, the Bees managed to take the runners-up spot in 1957/58 but missed out on the promotion by a couple of points.
The Third Division was consolidated into a single league in 1958/59 with Brentford taking 3rd spot that season. But it quickly dropped down the table in the next couple of years and was eventually relegated to the 4th tier at the end of 1961/62 after finishing the league in 23rd position.
In the Lower Divisions
Starting a season in the Fourth Division for the first time in 1962/63, Brentford went on to pick up the title to earn an instant promotion back to the 3rd tier. It spent the next 3 seasons in the Third Division before getting relegated again after ending 1965/66 in 2nd last place of the 24-team league.
Brentford returned to the Fourth Division in 1966/67 and remained there until the end of the decade, usually finishing in the bottom-half. But in 1971/72, the Bees made considerable improvement to end the season in 3rd spot and thereby gaining promotion to the 3rd tier.
But its stay in the Third Division turned out to be very short-lived as Brentford ended the 1972/73 campaign in 22nd spot and was swiftly relegated back to the 4th tier. The Bees had to remain in the Fourth Division for 6 seasons until it gained promotion by taking 3rd place at the end of 1977/78.
The Contemporary Period
Upon returning to the Third Division, Brentford finished the 1978/79 season in 10th spot. It stayed in the 3rd tier for the entirety of the 1980s, usually finishing in the lower-half of the table. The best finish of the period was taking 7th position in 1987/88 when it also reached the last-8 of the FA Cup for the 5th time.
Moving into a New Era
In 1991/92, Brentford was able to gain promotion by taking the Third Division title. The club started 1992/93 in the First Division, which had become the new 2nd tier of English football following the evolution of the Premier League. But it was quickly relegated to the 3rd tier once again after ending the season in 22nd position.
The Bees stayed in the Second Division for the next 5 years until its relegation after ending the 1997/98 campaign in 21st spot. Nevertheless, the club was able to earn an immediate promotion by winning the Third Division title in 1998/99 to get back up to 3rd tier once more.
In 2001/02 Brentford took 3rd place in the Second Division table but was unable to attain promotion through the playoffs. In 2004/05, when the 3rd tier was renamed League One, the Bees took 3rd spot in the table but once again failed to get promoted through the playoffs.
Brentford once again finished on 3rd spot in League One at the end of 2005/06 and could not advance from the playoffs. But in the following 2007/08 campaign, the club suffered a dramatic drop in form and was relegated after ending the season at the foot of the table in 24th position.
For the next couple of years, Brentford featured in the 4th tier of English football before earning its promotion by winning League Two in 2008/09. The club returned to the 3rd tier following a two-year absence and managed to secure a 9th place finish at the end of the 2009/10 campaign.
Brentford stayed in the mid-table of League One for the next couple of seasons before finishing in 3rd place in 2012/13 but did not gain a promotion through the subsequent playoffs. The club ended as runners-up in the division for the 2013/14 campaign and secured a direct promotion to the 2nd tier.
In 2014/15, after 60 long years Brentford was back in the 2nd tier of English football which was now known as the Football League Championship. The Bees finished the season in 5th position to earn a shot at successive promotions but lost to Middlesbrough in the semi-final stage.
Brentford had to wait for a while to get another chance at promotion after finishing the next 4 seasons outside the top-6 of the Championship. In 2019/20, the club ended on 3rd spot and managed to reach the playoff-final where it lost the promotion with a 1-2 loss against arch-rivals Fulham.
In the following 2020/21 season, Brentford again ended up taking 3rd place in the Championship. It went on to beat Bournemouth 3-2 on aggregate in the playoff semi-final. The Bees then notched a 2-0 victory over Swansea City in the final to collect its promotion to the top-flight.
In 2021/22, Brentford returned to the top-tier English football after 75 years. It began its maiden Premier League season confidently and despite enduring a barren spell in the middle stages, was able to put on a strong closure to the campaign. Eventually the Bees ended 11 points above the bottom-3 to earn a well-deserved 13th place finish.
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