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Griffin Park is a football ground in Brentford, situated in the London Borough of Hounslow, Greater London. It has been the home ground of Championship club Brentford F.C. since it was built in 1904. The ground is situated in a predominantly residential area and is known for being the only English league football ground to have a pub on each corner. The ground gets its name from the griffin, featured in the logo of Fuller's Brewery, which at one point owned the orchard on which the stadium was built.

Griffin Park
Griffin Park aerial 2011.jpg
Full nameGriffin Park
LocationBraemar Road
Brentford
Middlesex
TW8 0NT
Coordinates51°29′17.46″N 0°18′9.50″W / 51.4881833°N 0.3026389°W / 51.4881833; -0.3026389Coordinates: 51°29′17.46″N 0°18′9.50″W / 51.4881833°N 0.3026389°W / 51.4881833; -0.3026389
Public transitNational Rail Brentford
OwnerBrentford F.C.
Capacity12,300
Field size110 x 73 yd (100 x 67 metres)
Construction
BuiltJanuary–September 1904
OpenedSeptember 1904
Tenants
Brentford F.C. (1904–2020)
London Broncos (2002–2006)
Chelsea F.C. Reserves (2007–2010)

HistoryEdit

Planning, construction and openingEdit

Between forming in 1889 and prior to 1904, Brentford played at five grounds around Ealing – Clifden Road, Benns Field, Shotters Field, Cross Road and Boston Park Cricket Ground.[1] In 1903, Fulham chairman Henry Norris (a prominent estate agent), Brentford manager Dick Molyneux and club president Edwin Underwood negotiated a 21-year lease at a peppercorn rent on an orchard along the Ealing Road (owned by local brewers Fuller, Smith and Turner), with the option to buy the freehold at a later date for £5,000.[2] After a gypsy camp was removed from the site, work began on building the ground in January 1904, under the guidance of architects Parr & Kates.[2] The orchard was cut down by local volunteers, who were allowed to keep the wood.[3]

The ground was initially built with a 20,000 capacity in mind, with a provision for an increase to 30,000–40,000.[3] An 800-capacity stand from Boston Park was rebuilt alongside the Braemar Road side of the ground, with an extension alongside taking the stand's capacity to 1,500.[3] Beneath and behind the stand were three dressing rooms (one for each team and one for officials), a number of offices and a recreation room.[3] The ground was named 'Griffin Park' after a nearby pub, The Griffin, which was owned by the Griffin Brewery and was used as dressing rooms and for accommodation.[4] After a number of trial games, Griffin Park was opened on 1 September 1904.[4] Season tickets for the 1904–05 season (priced between 10 shillings and one guinea) sold out.[3]

The first matchesEdit

 
Griffin Park pictured from the New Road stand, September 2015.

The first competitive match to be played at Griffin Park was a Western League fixture versus Plymouth Argyle on 1 September 1904.[5] The Braemar Road grandstand had been completed by the time of the fixture, but as the dressing rooms were not ready, the players were forced to change at the public baths in Clifden Road.[5] The borough surveyor also declared the grandstand unsafe and banned its use until improvements had been made.[3] Argyle scored the first competitive goal at the ground through Fred Buck, but four minutes from the final whistle, Tommy Shanks converted a James Swarbrick cross to secure a 1–1 draw.[5] The attendance was estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000.[5]

The first truly first team fixture to be played at the ground was a Southern League First Division match on 3 September 1904, which yielded a 0–0 draw between Brentford and West Ham United.[5] The Bees would have to wait until 22 October 1904 for their first victory at the ground, a 2–0 win over Millwall.[5] The first Football League match to be played at the ground was on the opening day of the 1920–21 season, a 3–0 Third Division defeat to Exeter City.[6]

DevelopmentEdit

 
The forecourt behind the Braemar Road stand, pictured in January 2015, with the club offices and bar visible.

A new grandstand was constructed on the Braemar Road side of the ground using £5,000 (equivalent to £293,200 in 2019) of the money generated from Brentford's run to the fifth round of the FA Cup during the 1926–27 season,[3] replacing the 'cow shed'.[7] Unlike the old grandstand, the new stand ran the length of the pitch.[3] After the season, it was announced that Griffin Park would be completely redeveloped over the following decade.[3] Concrete terracing was installed at the Ealing Road end of the ground in 1930.[3] A new stand was constructed at the Brook Road end of the ground in the 1933 off-season and the New Road terrace was extended the following year to allow a further 5,000 supporters to be accommodated.[8] A further extension to the terracing and a roof was added prior to Brentford's debut First Division season in 1935–36, taking the New Road stand's capacity to 20,000.[8]

Little development occurred at Griffin Park between the mid-1930s, and the mid-1980s.[3] The frontage of the Braemar Road stand was rebuilt in 1963, adding club offices and a club room.[9] Flats were built in a spare, matchday parking area behind the Ealing Road terrace in 1985 and the following year the Brook Road 'kop' was torn down and replaced by a two-tiered stand,[3] now colloquially known as the 'Wendy House'.[10] On the New Road side of the ground, the 1930s extension to the terrace was removed, with a new sheet metal wall added to the back of the stand.[3]

The pitch was moved a few metres to the west in 2006, in order to accommodate box goal nets and the following year, a roof was finally added to the Ealing Road terrace.[11] Numerous improvements were made after Brentford's promotion to the Championship in 2014, including resurfacing of access areas, extra CCTV, new signage, new heated seats in the dugouts and AstroTurf installed in the pitch-side run-off areas.[12] With the club placed in the Championship playoff places in January 2015, additional work was carried out on the New Road stand ahead of a deadline for submission of a report to the Premier League, which outlined development plans ahead of a potential promotion.[13] LED advertising boards were installed at the ground for the first time during the 2017–18 season and goal-line technology was installed at the ground during the 2017 off-season.[14][15]

Crowd disturbanceEdit

The only occasion on which Griffin Park has been closed due to crowd trouble was following a Third Division South match versus Brighton & Hove Albion on 12 September 1925.[16] Ill-feeling on the pitch sparked trouble on the terraces and following the referee's report, the FA closed the ground for 14 days.[16] The following home match against Crystal Palace was moved to Selhurst Park, where Brentford suffered a 2–0 defeat and dropped to bottom place in the Football League.[16]

Wartime bombingEdit

Griffin Park survived the bombing raids of the First World War unscathed, though bombs fell on the nearby High Street while the team was playing away at Crystal Palace on 19 January 1918.[17] During the Second World War, Griffin Park was hit by two high-explosive bombs in 1940 and 1941 respectively.[18] Six matches were abandoned or postponed during the Blitz.[17]

The "Great Fire of Brentford"Edit

 
The Braemar Road stand from pitchside in January 2019.

At 11:30 PM on 1 February 1983, a fire broke out in the Braemar Road Stand, possibly due to an electrical fault in the boiler room under the stand.[19] The fire quickly spread through the timber used in the construction of the stand.[3] Groundsman Alec Banks, who lived under the stand, was rescued by then-Brentford player Stan Bowles and his wife Jane.[20] 60 people were evacuated from homes nearby and an estimated £150,000 worth of damage was caused, including 800 seats, the away dressing room, the gymnasium, the kit store and the laundry.[3][19] It was after the reconstruction that the players' tunnel was moved to the western corner of the Braemar Road Stand, with the players having previously emerged from a tunnel at the half way line.[3]

"Fortress Griffin Park"Edit

Brentford set an English football record when the club won all 21 home games during the 1929–30 Third Division South season.[21] Despite the record (which still stands), the Bees finished as runners-up to Plymouth Argyle and failed to win promotion to Second Division.[22] Brentford finished the 2014 calendar year with the best home record in the Football League, winning 17 of 23 games (two more than the next-best tally) and accruing a 78% winning record.[23]

TicketingEdit

The club installed an electronic ticketing system on all turnstiles at Griffin Park in the summer of 2014.[24] Previously, supporters were able to pay on the turnstiles on match days for non-all-ticket matches.[24]

Stadium structureEdit

 
Sheffield Wednesday supporters on the uncovered Ealing Road terrace during the 2005 League One playoffs. A temporary Sky Sports TV gantry is located at the back of the stand.

When first opened, Griffin Park had no terracing and banks surrounded the pitch, covered with ashes.[2] A tiny stand was erected, which was initially refused a safety certificate.[2]

StandsEdit

  • Braemar Road Stand – A two-tiered all-seated stand located along the Braemar Road,[25] with the lower tier being known as 'the Paddock'.[26] The stand also houses the dressing rooms, supporters' bar and club offices.[27] The stand's forecourt houses the club shop and ticket office.[28] Until 2010, the dugouts were located in front of the stand.[29]
  • New Road Stand – A single-tiered all-seated stand located along the New Road.[25] It is currently known as the Bill Axbey Stand, as a tribute to the club's oldest-ever supporter.[30] The away supporters' section was housed in the northwest corner of the stand until October 1991.[31] Previously a terrace, the stand was converted to seating in the summer of 1996.[1] The dugouts have been located in front of the stand since 2010 at the request of then-manager Andy Scott.[32][33] The central camera position for TV broadcasts of games is located in a gantry suspended from the roof of the stand.[34] The Family Section is located in blocks N506, N507 and N508.[24]
  • Ealing Road Terrace – A single-tier terrace located at the Ealing Road end of the ground.[25] Previously uncovered, the club had an application to build a roof turned down in 2004 and the terrace finally received a roof in 2007.[11][35] Traditionally a home end, the terrace housed away supporters at various times throughout the 2000s.[36]
  • Brook Road Stand – A two-tiered stand with seating on the upper level and terracing on the lower level,[25] built in the mid-1980s to replace the Royal Oak Stand (Griffin Park's 'kop').[37] At varying times the stand has housed home supporters (1980s, 2001–2007) or away supporters (1980s, 2007–present) and because of its appearance is affectionately known as 'the Wendy House'.[38] Until 2004, a vane display scoreboard was mounted on the stand's facade.

FloodlightsEdit

Brentford was one of the first clubs to recognise the potential of floodlit football and in 1954, a sum of £5,345 (equivalent to £143,700 in 2019) was spent on erecting perimeter lights the length of the Braemar Road and New Road stands.[39] With the Football League banning competitive games under floodlights, a number of friendly matches were arranged to increase revenue, with one match against an International Managers XI attracting 21,600 spectators.[39] By the time the Football League's ban on competitive floodlit football was lifted in February 1956, the club had received over £10,000 in gate receipts from the friendly matches.[2] The original perimeter lights were replaced in August 1963 with pylons located at each corner of the ground,[39] at a cost of £17,000.[40] The current floodlight lamps on the pylons were purchased from West London neighbours Chelsea in 1983.[39] Electronic scoreboards have been attached to two of the pylons since 2004.[41] The floodlights were upgraded from 590 to 1000 lux during the 2015 off-season.[42]

 
Griffin Park in 1982, with the New Road Stand visible.

AttendancesEdit

RecordsEdit

Recent yearsEdit

As of 2016, Griffin Park has a capacity of 12,573.[44] The highest attendance for a league match in recent seasons was 12,367 versus Queens Park Rangers on 21 April 2018.[45] FA Cup fourth and fifth round matches versus Sunderland and Southampton drew crowds of 11,698 and 11,720 in 2006 and 2005 respectively.[46][47]

Neutral venueEdit

 
Brentford and Yeovil Town contesting a corner in front of the roofed Ealing Road stand in August 2011.

Football matchesEdit

Brentford hosted the Zambia and India international teams in pre-season friendly matches in 1994 and 2000 respectively and England Amateurs in February 1967.[2][55] Griffin Park hosted more FA Amateur Cup semi-finals than any other ground, with 9 matches played between 1947 and 1974.[49]

TenantsEdit

 
The Brook Road stand during an FA Cup match versus Oxford United in January 2019.

Other sportsEdit

The first ever paying event at Griffin Park was a sports meeting on 29 July 1904, which included a wrestling match.[61] Athletics, tennis and Gaelic football have also taken place at the ground.[61] The Heinz baseball team played at the ground in the late 1900s, gaining admittance to the National Baseball League of Great Britain and Ireland.[61]

AdvertisingEdit

 
Griffin Park pictured from the Heathrow flightpath in 1995, with a KLM advertisement visible on the roof of the New Road stand.

Griffin Park is beneath the flightpath of London Heathrow Airport and the roofs of the New Road and Braemar Road stands are used as a large advertising space. The roofs of both stands have been used to advertise KLM, Ericsson, Infogrames and Qatar Airways.[62] The New Road Stand roof is currently sponsored by Matchbook, the club's official betting partner.[63] In the late 2000s, the Braemar Road stand was sponsored by water cooler business Refreshing Solutions.[64]

"A pub on every corner"Edit

 
The Griffin pub, at the corner of Braemar Road and Brook Road.

Griffin Park is well known in football circles for being the only football ground in England to have a pub on each corner.[65][66] The pubs are:

  • The Griffin – Located at the corner of Braemar Road and Brook Road.[67] The interior and exterior of the pub was used as a location in the 2005 film Green Street and is also visible in the 1954 film The Rainbow Jacket.[68][69]
  • The Princess Royal – Located at the corner of Braemar Road and Ealing Road.[70]
  • The New Inn – Located at the corner of New Road and Ealing Road.[71]
  • The Brook – Located at the corner of New Road and Brook Road.[72] Prior to 2019, it was named The Royal Oak.[73][74]

Appearances in mediaEdit

Due to its convenient location in West London, Griffin Park has featured in a number of films, TV programmes and advertisements:

  • The Winning Goal (film, 1920) – Footage was shot of a specially staged match between fictional teams Blacktown and Bichester, with both teams featuring 16 then-current international players.[75][76]
  • The Great Game (film, 1954) – Scenes were shot in and around the ground and during matches.[75]
  • Minder (The Long Ride Back to Scratchwood, TV, 1984) – The interior of the ground was used for football training scenes.[77]
  • Standing Room Only (TV, 1991) – The interior of the ground was featured in a sketch, with an emphasis on two of the club's main sponsors at the time, KLM and Bollingmores Car Distributors.[75]
  • Goal! (film, 2005) – Griffin Park featured as Newcastle United Reserves' home ground.[78][79]
  • Mike Bassett: Manager (TV, 2005) – Griffin Park doubled as the home ground of the series' fictitious team Wirral County. All Brentford-inscribed signs and notices were replaced around the ground with Wirral County equivalents.[80]

OwnershipEdit

The original lease on the ground ran out in 1925, but the deal was kept on ice and the club became freeholders in April 1936.[1]

With Brentford in the Fourth Division and heavily in debt in the late 1960s, in March 1968 Jim Gregory (chairman of West London rivals Queens Park Rangers) offered £250,000 to buy the ground and move Queens Park Rangers to Griffin Park.[81] Former Brentford chairman Walter Wheatley stepped in and provided the club with a £69,000 loan.[81]

In 1998, then-chairman Ron Noades acquired the freehold of Griffin Park, through his company Griffin Park Stadium Limited.[82] With Noades declaring he would only fund the club until 2000,[83] the prospect of the sale of Griffin Park for development looked likely until 2006, when supporters' trust Bees United bought his majority shareholding.[84] Noades' loans to the club were repaid by current owner Matthew Benham in 2007.[84]

FutureEdit

Brentford Community StadiumEdit

 
The Brentford Community Stadium under construction in September 2018.

In August 1973, the Middlesex Chronicle reported that the club had submitted a bid to Hounslow Council to build a new ground and leisure complex on the site of Brentford Market.[85]

Brentford's hopes of moving to a new 20,000-capacity stadium were boosted in 2007 after the club was given an option to buy a 7.6-acre (31,000 m2) site at Lionel Road, less than a mile away from Griffin Park.[86] The project was halted in 2010 due to the economic downturn and partners Barratt Homes pulled out of the deal in January 2011.[86] In June 2012, the club bought the Lionel Road site from Barratt Homes.[87] Outline planning approval was given by the London Borough of Hounslow on 5 December 2013, with the Mayor of London's office giving their approval in February 2014.[88] Eric Pickles (then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) gave final approval for the stadium on 14 March 2014 and a development agreement was signed with Willmott Dixon in December 2014.[88][89]

The commencement of work on the Lionel Road site was held up through 2015 due to First Industrial Ltd (which owned the final parcel of land needed to begin development) objecting to a compulsory purchase order by Hounslow Council.[90] Hounslow Council completed the acquisition of the land in September 2016 and on-site preparation for construction began in late March 2017.[91][92] Ground was broken at the site on 19 March 2018 and a long-term deal to groundshare with London Irish was agreed in December 2018.[93][94] Building work is expected to be completed by April 2020 and both clubs will begin the 2020–21 season at the stadium.[94][95]

Griffin ParkEdit

Brentford's 5th-place finish in the Championship playoff places in the 2014–15 season raised questions about Griffin Park's suitability for Premier League football,[96] prior to the then-expected move to the Community Stadium in 2017.[13] Chief executive Mark Devlin explained that should improvements to Griffin Park to meet Premier League standards not be viable, Brentford would look to groundshare with another club in the vicinity.[96] By May 2015, Stamford Bridge, Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stoop were ruled out as potential venues and West London neighbours Queens Park Rangers and Fulham refused to comment.[13][97] In May 2015, it was revealed that it would cost £3 million to upgrade Griffin Park to meet Premier League specifications.[97] On 3 September 2015, Hounslow Council approved the building of 75 new homes on the site of Griffin Park, after the club moves out.[98] Brentford were given special dispensation by the Sports Ground Safety Authority to retain the terracing in the Ealing Road and Brook Road stands for the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons, due to the club's good safety record over the previous seasons in the Championship and its impending move to the Community Stadium.[99][100][101] In October 2018, it was reported that the 2019–20 season would be Brentford's last at Griffin Park.[102] Should promotion to the Premier League have been achieved at the end of the 2018–19 season, the club would have applied for special dispensation to play the 2019–20 Premier League season at Griffin Park.[102]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  96. ^ a b Tim Street. "Brentford plan for Griffin Park stay in Premier League". getwestlondon. Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  97. ^ a b "Brentford will spend £3m to upgrade Griffin Park but could". Evening Standard. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  98. ^ Cumber, Robert. "Brentford FC stadium to be replaced by family homes". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  99. ^ Brett, Ciaran. "Brentford given dispensation to retain Terracing at Griffin Park for 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season". Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  100. ^ "Brentford FC given permission to retain terracing for 2018/19". Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  101. ^ "Ealing Road stand cleared for use in final Griffin Park season". www.brentfordfc.com. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  102. ^ a b Muro, Giuseppe. "Brentford hoping to play final season at Griffin Park if they are promoted". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 October 2018.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Griffin Park at Wikimedia Commons

  • Map sources for Griffin Park can be seen as a square on the west side of Ealing Road (i.e. left side on the map). It may be labelled Brentford FC rather than Griffin Park.