It is reputed that football began when Julius Caesar crossed the Brent kicking the skull of a vanquished Briton – however more organised soccer didn’t come to the area until 1889 when Brentford Football Club were formed, surprisingly at a rowing club meeting. This took place on the 10th of October 1889 at their headquarters in the Oxford and Cambridge Hotel at Kew Bridge, deciding in which winter sport the rowing members would compete. Football beat Rugby by only one vote! The initiator was Archer Green, the energetic secretary of Brentford Rowing Club. Football or rugby? Innovation or inertia? The choices these football clubs have to make…..
That also goes for the choice of club colours. Salmon, claret and light blue, the same as Brentford Rowing Club’s, were decided upon as club colours. Peculiarly enough, salmon was dropped from the colours even before a ball was kicked! The first game took place in 1889 on a field behind the Wesleyan Chapel, covered today by Clifden Road, just by Braemar Road. The Brentford players used the Griffin pub to change into claret and light blue striped shirts and white shorts. In those days Brentford for a short spell were known as the Bonny Boys.
At the start of the 1892/93 season the club moved its headquarters to Benns Fields, Little Ealing. The players were now dressed in yellow, black and blue.
It wasn’t the team’s dramatic stripes that accounted for the club’s nickname. A local scribe is supposedly to have so eloquently put it before the turn of the century: “ the busy bees of Brentford, B being an abbreviation for Brentford of course, are filling their hive with the honey of success”. Eloquent yes, true no. The nickname came about soon after Joe Gettins, who became a well known player for Middlesbrough and Millwall Athletic, and also a student at nearby Borough Road College, started to play for Brentford. Some of his college friends came to see him play and chanted the college’s ‘war-cry’ “Buck up B’s”. The local press took up the name, but misinterpreted ‘B’s’ for ‘Bees’, and so the latter was used from then.
Anyway, since crowds at Benns Fields were abysmal, Brentford moved back to Brentford itself in 1894, this time to Shotters Field in Windmill Road. With the rising prospects of the club Mr. Beldam, from whom Shotters Field was leased, smelled money and decided to increase the rent, which was totally unacceptable to the club. Without a pitch to play on it was found necessary to amalgamate with a junior club called Brentford Celtic to enable the newly formed Brentford FC to carry on. They moved to Cross Road, South Ealing in 1898, followed in 1902 to Boston Park Cricket Club, also on Ealing Road and only a very short distance from Griffin Park.
Finally, the club found their present home in 1904, leasing an orchard from the Fuller, Smith & Turner brewery.
Griffin Park saw the introduction of white shirts and black shorts in the mid-twenties, to be changed for the now familiar red-and-white stripes in 1929. This combination may have been derived from the county colours of Middlesex. The 1940s and 1950s saw a drop in fortunes and divisions and in their despair Brentford reintroduced the old colours of yellow and blue in the early sixties. They were forced to return to red and white after fans’ pressure who wanted to relive the good old days when red and white had been very inspirational.
Inspirational? Such is the quest to the origins of the club’s crest. It shows three seaxes, or scimitars, a Saxon crown and a beehive, set against the club colours of red and blue.
In the 1st century BC Belgic tribes had established themselves in southeastern England, and Middlesex formed part of the Catuvellauni territory. Later, the Romans set up outposts at what became Staines and Brentford. In the early 5th century the Saxons began to colonize the area. Positioned as it was between the East and West Saxons, the region soon obtained its modern name, meaning “Middle Saxons”; the earliest written record of it is in the form Middelseaxan, in a charter of 704. There is a certain amount of mystery as to why neighbouring Essex adopted three seaxes for its arms. It has been suggested by some writers, that the weapons were chosen as a pun on the name of the County, which was called ‘Eastseaxe’ in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Although three seaxes on a red field are often quoted as the arms of the kings of the East Saxons, heraldry as we know it today was not established until the early twelfth century, and it is probably due to the fanciful and romantic minds of early historians and heraldic writers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that ‘arms’ were attributed to the Saxon kings.
Anyway, the reputed arms with the three seaxes of the Saxon kings appear in various manuscripts. Middlesex and part of Hertfordshire belonged to the East Saxon Kingdom, in fact the arms now regarded as those of Essex can be seen on several older buildings formerly in Middlesex. When Middlesex County Council was granted arms in 1910 the design consisted of the traditional arms with the addition of a Saxon Crown, also in the Brentford crest.
Does the beehive in the crest of the club refer to the nickname and is it a tribute to our student friends from the 19th century who chanted their college’s ‘war-cry’ “Buck up B’s”? Why not ask the assistant when you buy your replica shirt in the club shop. He may fill you in on the saexes as well…..
Less harder to explain are the previous crests, one having been used on shirts in the early Seventies representing a bee set in a circle with the club’s name. Its successor was designed by then Director Dan Tana and used from 1976 until about 1990.