Likeable manager Wally Downes has guided Brentford to a 16th place finish in his first full season in charge at
An extremely promising start to the season, which saw the Bees win four of their first five games, had them leading the division for a brief period, but without the financial resources of a number of other clubs, a sticky spell was always likely and duly followed.
Brentford however, remained steady at home throughout, but the away form, which had been the cornerstone of their excellent start (the Bees triumphed four times in their first eight away games) deserted them to such an extent, that only two more victories were recorded on their travels, the second a crucial 2-0 victory at Chesterfield on Easter Monday, which secured mathematical safety.
Meanwhile, in the cup competitions Brentford reached the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in seven seasons, following a run which included memorable away victories at local rivals Wycombe Wanderers (4-2) and
The LDV Vans trophy also provided some highlights, with an appearance in the Southern Area Semi-Final, where the Bees were defeated by a golden goal, against Nationwide Division Three outfit, Cambridge United at
Brentford faired less favourably in the Worthington Cup. After a nail biting success against Nationwide Third Division AFC Bournemouth, in which the Bees triumphed 4-2 in a penalty shoot out after a 3-3 draw, the men from Griffin Park were dumped out unceremoniously at home by Steve McLaren’s Premiership outfit, Middlesbrough 4-1 in the second round.
On the individual front, striker Rowan Vine, secured by manager Downes on a season long loan from Nationwide Division One club,
Second in the hotshot list was Stephen Hunt, who struck seven times in league matches throughout the season.
However, perhaps the winger's most memorable goal of the campaign, came in the FA Cup 2nd Round tie at Nationwide Third Division, York City, when his late strike propelled the Bees into the lucrative third round.
The recently departed to Millwall, Mark McCamonn netted six times, including a brace in the thrilling 3-2 victory at Stockport County in October.
Kevin O'Connor and Ibrahima Sonko both found the net on five ocassions in league fixtures and indeed O'Connor scored another four in the cup games.
No Brentford player appeared in every league game, although ever dependable captain, Michael Dobson, missed just one match, while the reliable O’Connor featured in 44 of the 46 games played.
Outstanding goalkeeper Paul Smith played in 43 league games and the industrious Hunt featured in 41.
The highest league attendance of the season at Griffin Park predictably came against our fierce West London rivals, Queens Park Rangers on Easter Saturday, 19th April 2003, when 9, 168 witnessed the Hoops snatch a 2-1 victory in the last minute.
Just as unsurprising was the fact that Loftus Road hosted the fixture which featured the largest number of spectators watching a Brentford game. 15, 559 witnessing O'Connor secure a point with a first half strike in the 1-1 draw against local rivals, Queens Park Rangers, five days before Christmas.
Full Season Statistics:
Final League Position:
P 46 W 14 D 12 L 20 F 47 A 56 PTS 54
8, 8, 7, 28, 21 (32 pts)
6, 4, 13, 19, 35 (22 pts)
1-5 v Peterborough United (
Biggest Home Win:
As above (Blackpool 5-0)
Biggest Away Win:
2-0 v Huddersfield Town (10/08/02)
Heaviest Home Defeat:
Heaviest Away Defeat:
As Above (Peterborough United 1-5)
Highest Home Attendance:
9, 168 v Queens Park Rangers (
Highest Away Attendance:
15, 559 v Queens Park Rangers (
Lowest Home Attendance:
3, 990 v Colchester United (11/03/03)
Lowest Away Attendance:
3, 135 v Colchester United (24/08/02)
Leading league goal scorer:
Rowan Vine (10)
Most League Appearances:
Michael Dobson (45)
An unspectacular, but acceptable season for the Bees considering the upheaval behind the scenes, and the loss of so many experienced players last summer.
Downes has managed extremely well given the limited resources, and the signings of Ibrahima Sonko, Leo Roget and Rowan Vine proved pivotal in keeping the Bees in a comfortable mid to lower table position.
Providing the nucleus of our young side remains, next season should see an improvement, although one doubts whether a play-off place can be obtained.
HOW DO YOU THINK DOWNES HAS FARED AS MANAGER IN HIS FIRST SEASON IN CHARGE?
Please feel free to air your comments on the BEE HIVE MESSAGEBOARD.
NB. These views and thoughts are entirely those of the editor of the Bee Hive.