How Thomas Frank, Ivan Toney and Brentford were never going to let history repeat itself

3 min

Ninety minutes of sheer Wembley joy last weekend made up for almost 15 months of enforced absence from grounds for Brentford fans as the Bees booked their place in the Premier League for the first time in their history.

As the Championship Play-Off full-time whistle blew, an eruption of emotion was released across the stadium.

For the victorious Brentford – ecstasy, excitement and relief while for Swansea City there was only heartbreak, despair and jealousy. 

When the Brentford players sprinted to celebrate together, there was an overwhelming sense of pride for this small, west London club who have defied all the odds to rise from League Two to the Premier League in just 12 years.

This was Brentford’s day, Thomas Frank’s day, Ivan Toney’s day – it was a day that was 74 years in the making.

Spurred on by the heartache of last year’s defeat to Fulham, there was a steely determination from the first minute that Thomas Frank’s side would ensure history would not repeat itself.

Any lingering doubts were put to bed within the opening 20 minutes as Brentford were professional, clinical and ruthlessly put their South Wales rivals to the sword.

Frank has come in for criticism at times this season for not making changes to formation or personnel at the right time.

While he could easily have tinkered with the 3-4-1-2 formation which has served him so well since April due to Christian Norgaard’s injury, the Dane held his nerve and kept with the tried and trusted system that had seen the Bees only lose once since its implementation away at Preston.

On the biggest stage of all, Frank got it exactly right – his full-time jubilation fuelled as much by catharsis as excitement.

It was in stark contrast to Swansea Manager Steve Cooper who surprisingly reverted to a back-three after ditching the system months ago after a poor run of form.

Key to Brentford’s success this season has been 31 goal hero Ivan Toney and once again the forward took centre stage, toying with Swansea’s defenders throughout and linking up well with the resurgent Bryan Mbuemo.

Toney, who’s assured play is only matched by the confidence of his post-match interviews, was never going to let his chance go and, after Freddie Woodman’s rush of blood provided him with a chance to open the scoring from the spot, there was only ever going to be one winner.

A League One striker this time last year, the 25-year-old will leave the Championship as its record goalscorer and undoubtedly never look back as he goes on to terrorise Premier League defences for years to come.

READ MORE: Brian Burgess’ Brentford Legacy: From the terraces and stadium planning – to a Queen’s Birthday Honour

Toney was among those to drop to his knees as the final whistle blew – all those years of trying to make a name for himself vindicated on the biggest stage of them all.

And to do it all in front of an adoring crowd after so long playing in front of soulless, empty grounds was the icing on top of an already perfect day for Brentford fans.

The side finished third in the table and were deservedly the third team to win promotion from the Championship after Norwich and Watford claimed the automatic promotion spots.

Brentford had clearly learnt the harsh lessons of last season and in truth there seemed little doubt they would become a Premier League club by the end of the match –  it was more a question of how many goals they would be victorious by.

After 10 attempts at Play-Off promotion, Brentford Football Club have finally reached the promised land of the Premier League – no doubt the celebrations will continue long into the summer…

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