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2015 News Archive
Thursday, December 24, 2015

Meet the Players Day 2015

“That was so awesome!”

These were the breathless words of a young Brentford fan leaving the field of play after a hard-fought battle against tough opposition. While coming face to face with Alan Judge on the football field often strikes fear into rivals this was not the case on December 22 – when a group of youngsters couldn’t believe they were playing alongside one of their heroes.

It was the 3rd annual Brentford FC Christmas ‘Meet the Players’ day and the First Team arrived at Goals Soccer Centre in Osterley to exchange season’s greetings with 90 of their young fans.

Following a morning football session with Trust coaches, the young footballers got a chance to meet and greet the Brentford team as well as tackle them on the pitch.

Danish striker Lasse Vibe, who was welcomed by a group of fans singing his name, was particularly impressed by the event.

“I am glad we can come here and inspire these children,” said Lasse. “I had some great players on my team and I was really surprised by their skill level. They didn’t just run with the ball but focused on passing and did a nice job.

“It is great for the kids to meet their favourite players – great for us players as well.”

One thing that was a joy to behold was the Brentford kit on display – Brentford shirts, jackets, shorts, socks, hats, Jota-styled hair bands.

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“It is good to see so many Brentford kits out there compared to a few years ago,” said Brentford midfielder Sam Saunders, who claimed to have won three out of three matches with his team. “I remember when we first started this event there were lots of Chelsea, Fulham, QPR kits but the number of Brentford kits shows the club is going forward and the fans are getting on board.”

After having such a great time last year, Russell Hawes returned with his sons Frankie and Stanley.

“Frankie is very excited about meeting Jota,” said Russell. “He wears a headband to school to try to look like him – even though he looks ridiculous – but he won’t hear it from me.”

“At their school there are more Brentford fans than any other club. In the past young kids didn’t want to be Brentford players, but with this new team, they do now.”

Thankfully French defender Maxime Colin could also get stuck in after returning from injury.

“I have trained hard over the last three months and it was great to come back with a win against Huddersfield. Meet the Players is good because sometimes as footballers we are a little far from the supporters – and these events let us get close to our younger fans.”

Edward, from Year Five, was in full agreement with Maxime, saying, “Today is great because we get to meet the best players in the world.”

Eight-year old Eira, who plays for the Trust’s Girls Development Centre, was eager to put some challenging questions to the team. She started by asking Brentford Captain Jake Bidwell how easy it was to get a yellow and red card.

“He said it was easy,” said Eira. “My favourite players are Bidwell, Jota, Alan Judge and Harlee Dean. I came here because I like football and we get to meet the players.”

Six-year old Sasha couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

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“We got to meet all the players. I didn’t know they would all be here – I thought we were going to see three or four but we got to meet them all, including my favourite Alan Judge. I go to all the Brentford home games and I was even allowed to see the night match against QPR.”

Joining the players was Brentford Assistant Head Coach Richard O’Kelly who jovially started the chain of signatures which the children eagerly lined up for.

“These events are not important, they are vital,” said Richard. “If you do not connect with the community you can lose tomorrow’s fans and possibly players. When I look at the players I don’t just judge them on the pitch but also their behaviour in this sort of environment. We want good people and personalities at the club – and these players have ticked a lot of boxes today.”

Senior Trust Coach, Luke Brooks-Smith, said a lot of hard work by Trust staff made sure the event ran smoothly.

“The kids love it – and lots of kids today have been to the last two Meet the Players. In one age group every child is in a Brentford shirt.”

Brentford defender Jack O’Connell enthusiastically joined in with the mini-matches, “I have gone into schools but I have never done this sort of thing before. It is great to get involved. We didn’t really have these opportunities when I was growing up – so it’s good for Brentford fans.”

Pauline Goodden, a steward on the day, said she really enjoyed the day, “It is good to see the kids having fun and I hope to be part of it for many years to come. It is well worth it for the kids – and everyone will go away having thoroughly enjoyed themselves.”

However, perhaps it was six-year old Eddie who put it best.

“It was kicking!”

Merry Christmas

The Brentford FC CST team

Please note - A Facebook gallery of the day will be posted in the New Year