A club that’s clearly thought about the match day experience at Griffin Park.
Everything about my trip to Griffin Park was smooth and easy. Firstly, getting my ticket online was a breeze. The account registration process, that can often be such a pain, was quick and the options were clearly explained. The Brentford website also had a page for first time visitors that detailed all the sections of the ground and where I should collect my ticket. This website was just the first of many little touches that added to the overall experience.
The only downside was that I may have got my Millwall and Brentford visits the wrong way round. Both were at home for consecutive games on Saturday and Tuesday. Had I gone to Griffin Park on Saturday and the New Den on Tuesday, rather than vice versa, I would have seen two 4-3 thrillers.
Competition: EFL Championship
Refreshments: Burger and soft drink (£5)
Star player: Ollie Watkins
Getting to Griffin Park
There was an unexpected hitch for my trip to Brentford in the shape of a train derailment at Waterloo. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but it meant Brentford station would be closed for the evening. I scanned the map for the closest tube station and decided on South Ealing.
The Piccadilly line stop was a good 20 minute walk from Griffin Park, but it was an easy walk straight down South Ealing Road from station to stadium. There were plenty of shops and cafes on route, and even a couple of pubs. The Ealing Park Tavern looked particularly nice.
After crossing under the M4 I soon had some great views of Griffin Park’s floodlights and the tops of the stands. Generally, however, the stadium is well hidden in amongst the quaint, cosy streets of West London.
I passed two of the famous four pubs that occupy each corner of the ground. Next door to the Princess Royal, at the corner of Ealing Road and Braemar Road, is the unique club shop. To me it looked like a fan had given up their home and handed it over to the club in one grand gesture of support.
The stadium has large seated stands on each side, a terrace at the Ealing Road end for home fans, and a small two-tiered end for away supporters. The stands fit together to create an intimate, yet intimidating setting where everyone is close to the action. There are pillars down the sides, but they are thin enough not to cause too much visual impairment.
Griffin Park has an old-fashioned feel, and elements of the design give it some real character. The floodlights tower over the local area, and help you locate the stadium. The atmosphere was good and generally instigated from the Ealing Road terrace and the away end. There was also a friendly and welcoming feeling provided by the bubbly, helpful staff and stewards.
The Bees programme was also one the best I’ve seen so far. It had lots of useful information including an update on the stadium move and plenty of information about the opposition. It was also very well designed and had a good use of infographics and imagery.
Bristol City caught their hosts napping within the first five minutes when Brownhill capitalised on a defensive mistake and drove home the first goal. Conceding so early seemed to shock the hosts, but they gradually found their feet. Brentford moved the ball well and looked to take advantage of the visitors in the wide channels.
Fielding, in goal for City, pulled off several good saves to keep his side ahead in the first half. Having missed a few good chances Brentford would have had a feeling of frustration to go with their half time refreshments.
The home side began the second half as they’d finished the first, but with some added intensity. Just before the hour Ollie Watkins headed home the equaliser. The winger, signed from Exeter in the summer, impressed throughout. He actually reminded me of Michail Antonio, a tricky winger who can also attack aerial balls into the box.
The home side were now well and truly on top. Another new signing, Neal Maupay, soon got the second as Bristol City looked like they could fold. After taking the lead Brentford made a couple of changes. One was enforced as McEachran went off with a nasty looking injury. This seemed to halt their momentum and City looked to capitalise with counter-attacks.
Deep into injury time City snatched a point. Academy graduate Bobby Reid finished after a bit of head tennis in the Brentford penalty area. The visiting fans went into raptures. The overriding feeling amongst the rest of the crowd, however, was that it was two points dropped for The Bees.
Overall I really enjoyed my trip to Griffin Park. It’s a wonderful ground and the club have made a real effort to make the match day experience as enjoyable as possible for lots of supporters. The Ealing Road terrace was pretty full and lively but the game could have done with a slightly larger crowd in the seated areas.