Brentford FC is trying to do things a different way. As fans of the Premier League saw last year, the club operates a little differently than others. Despite 2021/22 being the club’s first top-flight season in decades, the club stuck to its scout-and-develop system. The other option tends to be spend freely to build up the squad, like Nottingham Forest in 2022/23.
That meant the Bees entered last season with very little Premier League experience on their roster. Despite that, the club did more than just avoid relegation, a fate reserved for the other two teams to come up with Brentford. In fact, Brentford finished a cool 11 points from the drop in 2021/22.
Ahead of Brentford’s second Premier League campaign, Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow arrives in bookstores. This book serves as an excellent primer if your desire is to learn how the Bees can stay up in year two. Author Greville Waterman is a long-time fan of Brentford. He followed the London side through both its recent and fruitful successes and its mistakes over the years. He crafted a book written like a blog. Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow walks readers through Brentford’s EPL debut as if they are a fan.
Background on Brentford
For those unfamiliar with Brentford, the club calls West London home. The book’s title comes from a taunt allegedly first used by QPR fans that, eventually, Brentford fans adopted as a cheer of support. It emphasizes the club’s space in the English soccer landscape – just an out-of-the-way destination.
The lower-level club’s fortunes turned when Matthew Benham began his involvement in the club. What started as simple investment into Brentford FC evolved into controlling ownership of the club. Brentford pioneered the use of analytics and player development to use undervalued assets in its system. Partnering with a club in Denmark, Brentford climbed the professional ranks quickly without spending large transfer sums. Two seasons ago, Brentford clinched a Premier League spot via the Championship playoffs. Conveniently, the book also covers Brentford’s new stadium and its impact on the club.
Just a Bus Stop in Hounslow
Waterman’s book reads like a series of blog posts published over the course of the season. Almost every chapter is about a game or week in the season. Reflections detail what happens both on and off the field. Occasionally, Waterman sprinkles in interviews with club officials, albeit not with the media averse Benham. The anecdotes provide first-hand accounts of how the club navigates through the campaign. Also, Waterman attended post-game press conferences with manager Thomas Frank, a candidate for that season’s Premier League Manager of the Season.
The book gets particularly interesting when Christian Eriksen signs with the club. At the time, Brentford followed a stretch of poor results due to schedule issues, injuries and COVID-19. Frank and club officials are upfront that they convinced Eriksen to join the Bees due to the club’s numerous Scandinavian connections and lower-stress atmosphere. As we saw last season, the former Spurs star was a spark propelling Brentford to safety. However, the end is sour, as the author and club officials express hope that the Danish international can stay with the club.
A special club
The book is another addition to the fan’s view genre of soccer books. What makes this book interesting versus some others is the subject. Brentford is a fascinating story and Waterman’s passionate perspective allows him access to more information than a neutral journalist may have received. My favorite parts of the book, though, are his interviews with his friends. For example, there is a chapter on Brentford’s rivalry with QPR. Waterman asks his QPR fan friend for his view on the rivalry, and the friend absolutely rips the idea that QPR cares about Brentford. This kind of narrative lends itself to these kinds of funny asides.
This type of book is not original, but Brentford is. Waterman put in the work for this manuscript, and it shows. Readers who enjoy fan perspective books will enjoy this, as well as fans who want to know exactly why this team that’s a bus stop in Hounslow continues to find success.
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