90 minutes can be a long time in football. For Brentford FC, it’s what separates them between 73 years of ambition.
The Bees take on west London rivals Fulham in Tuesday’s Championship play-off final at Wembley looking to become a Premier League side for the first time in nearly three quarters of a century.
Thomas Frank’s side have dazzled England’s second tier all season and were denied automatic promotion by just a couple of points. A final day defeat to Barnsley condemned them to the play-offs, something the west Londoners know all too well.
To some, a spot in the four-team shootout for promotion is a privilege, but Brentford fans regard this as a curse.
Here are the play-off records that Brentford do not want to be reminded of ahead of Tuesday’s all-or-nothing clash at Wembley….
When the Bees were denied automatic promotion on the 46th and final match of the regular Championship season, the club’s players fell to the floor in anguish at what felt like a missed opportunity.
Hope was not yet lost at achieving the promotion goal, but even the club’s newest players must have been made aware of what the play-offs have done to Brentford in the past.
Before their third-placed finish during the current season, Brentford had reached the play-offs eight times and never been promoted once through this method.
Only one team – Preston North End – has had more play-off defeats in their history, though the Lilywhites achieved promotion at their tenth attempt during the League One play-offs in 2015.
Out of the eight unsuccessful attempts, three of them saw the club reach the play-off final, meaning Frank’s edition of the west London club has fared better than the majority of Brentford’s play-off squads before them.
But even upon reaching the final, the Bees have another poor trend to break. The west London side are one of only a handful of clubs to have lost the play-off final at three different venues – the old Wembley Stadium, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and the new Wembley.
While none of the Bees squad were present in their last trip to Wembley – a 2-1 League One play-off final defeat to Yeovil Town in 2013 – their fans will be hoping that they can make it four times lucky.
The Bees are not the only team to face a play-off hoodoo, though one particular statistic proves that the west London club’s problem lies closer to home.
Indeed, no team that traditionally wears red and white stripes on their shirts along with black shorts – Brentford’s colours – has ever been promoted through the play-offs.
Six teams have mustered 31 attempts between them whilst wearing those colours and all have failed.
Brentford make up over a quarter of those attempts (8), as do Sheffield United – though they currently sit in the Premier League having showed enough nerve to rise through the divisions through automatic promotion.
Lincoln City (6) and Sunderland (5) are also contributors to this damning statistic, more so than Exeter City (3) and top-flight side Southampton (1).
Brentford’s data analysis recruitment policy is arguably the reason they are competing for a Premier League spot, but the statistics are proving to be the mental obstacle that could damage their aspirations.
Featured image courtesy of Linus Art via Flickr, with thanks