THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Division Three play-offs, semi-final first leg

Brentford-v-Tranmere-199120 May ~ Last week's defeat to Middlesbrough meant that Brentford have failed in all of their seven play-off campaigns. It started with this game 24 years ago, when the club were held at home by Tranmere before losing the second leg, 1-0, three days later at Prenton Park. Rovers went up after beating Bolton in the play-off final. Tranmere's striker Steve Cooper scored both the visitors' goals, and later in his career played for Airdrie against Celtic in the Scottish Cup final. He died in his sleep at the age of 39 from an undiagnosed crack in his skull that had led to internal bleeding.

Manager Phil Holder contends in a lengthy interview that Brentford would have gained automatic promotion if his three main forwards – Dean Holdsworth, Gary Blissett and Richard Cadette – hadn't all been suffering from "niggling injuries". He made his point when he took Brentford up as champions the following year, with Holdsworth finishing as the division's equal top scorer on 24 goals. Holder was sacked one year on when the Bees went back down – his first and last position as an English league manager.

The match programme's a nice combination of commentary, quirk and pictorial diversion. It notes with the air of the fan at the bar that next season's European Cup will see, "apparently, the eight clubs who qualify through the first two rounds... then form two mini-leagues playing on a 'round-robin' basis. So much for reducing the number of matches played by top line internationals!" The succinct headline is More Games – More Money. You can imagine a Uefa representative nodding his head enthusiastically.

Even better is the half-time quiz by former WSC contributor Mike Alway, including questions such as: Which London club is supported by Princess Takamodo of Japan? Which prominent non-League footballer acted in fringe theatre productions of the comedies of Dario Fo? “Leatherhead Lip” Chris Kelly, now manager of Kingstonian, sports which natty style of footwear? A. Cuban Heels B. Winkle Pickers or C. Jodhpur Boots. The answer is A, though you can't help but wish it had been B or C.

Letter of the century "Dear Mr Haynes, How dare you! You absolute rascal you. I've just been passed a copy of Brentford's magazine and seen your snippets I have. In that Fulham game you called my grandfather "Monkey Face". Don't deny it either. It's there on that page Visitors Viewpoint. You don't know how that upsets me. He was a lovely man he was. The Brentford ladies loved him a lot. They didn't think he had a Monkey's face. Anyway, you lot can talk! I saw you all in that colour photograph, with that fat man. How can you lot call my grandfather Monkey Face when you look like you do I do not know, I don't really. It's alright for you to grin outside your Authors suite but you really upset me. I've had a soft spot for The B's for so many years since I was told about our dear grandad playing for you but now, that is all gone. Yours in disgust, Ms Elsie Corbett." The editor defends the writer by pointing out that the player in question had last appeared for the club 90 years previously, and that his nickname had been cited "from local papers of that era".

Result Brentford 2 (Evans, Godfrey) Tranmere 2 (Cooper, 2)

Crowd  9,330

Brentford Benstead, Ratcliffe, Bates, Millen, Evans, Rostron, Jones, Gayle (Peters), Holdsworth, Blissett (Godfrey, Smillie

Tranmere Nixon, Higgins, Mungall (Martindale), Irons, Hughes, Vickers, Morrissey,  Harvey Steel, Cooper, Thomas

Ian Plenderleith

You can save £2 on Ian Plenderleith's "Rock n Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League", published by Icon Books

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