Brentford have always taken the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy/LDV Vans Trophy/Auto Windscreens Shield/Autoglass Trophy/Leyland DAF Cup/Sherpa Van Trophy/Freight Rover Trophy seriously.
They reached the competition’s first-ever Wembley final in 1985, made the final again at the Millennium Stadium in 2001 and of course were back at Wembley again for last season’s final.
But no-one expected a performance or result quite like the 6-0 hammering of Bournemouth in Tuesday’s southern section quarter-final tie at Griffin Park.
“Brentford have had to do it the hard way so far in this year’s JPT.”
Boss Uwe Rosler had picked up the good vibes which the competition can bring and fielded a strong team. But so did Cherries manager Lee Bradbury, who only made two changes to his starting line-up, one of which was enforced and the other of which was in goal.
However, although Bournemouth had their moments, hitting the post in the first minute and the bar in the second half and forcing Richard Lee into some smart saves, the desire of the Brentford players to make up for last season’s final disappointment proved much too strong.
The Bees squad were clearly hurt by what happened against Carlisle on that sunny spring day and judging by the players’ comments on Twitter and their performances so far in this season’s competition, they are determined to go one better this time around.
The result, which puts Brentford within 270 minutes of a return to Wembley, was also a personal triumph for Mike Grella.
The American striker has had a difficult start to his Bees career, constantly sitting on the bench before coming on for 10-minute cameos, which have given him little chance to show what he can do and fans no real opportunity to decide what they think of him.
He finally started against Chesterfield two Saturdays ago and, although he didn’t score, turned in an impressive display, before finally making his mark in a Bees shirt.
The finishes for his four goals, which were all taken from inside the area, were the mark of a predator.
The first, where he beat Bournemouth keeper Shwan Jalal to Sam Saunders’ corner, the second where he collected a pinpoint pass from Toumani Diagouraga and tucked it past the helpless keeper, the third where he guided in a header from a cross by Diagouraga and the fourth where he got his head to Niall McGinn’s centre, were all perfectly-taken.
He could also have had a fifth goal but hit the post with a lob in injury-time.
Grella has surely earned himself a run in the team and maybe he and Clayton Donaldson can now continue on the goal trail and stop Brentford being the second lowest-scoring team in the top half of the League One table.
It was Brentford’s biggest win since thrashing Gainsborough Trinity 7-1 in an FA Cup first round tie in November 2003.
It was also the first time they have scored six since a 6-0 league win over Cambridge in January 1995 and Grella was the first Bees player to score four in a game since Robbie Cooke in the same competition at Orient in December 1986 – before Grella was even born.
Brentford have had to do it the hard way so far in this year’s JPT. They played away to MK Dons and Charlton in the first two rounds – each top of the table at the time – and then were paired with the only remaining League One club in the southern section, Bournemouth.
They will now face a League Two team in the southern semi-finals with leaders Southend, high-flying Swindon and struggling Barnet the other sides to go through to Saturday morning’s draw.
Brentford will not be complacent, especially as League Two Hereford dumped them out of the Carling Cup in the first round.
However, it will be impossible to prevent dreams and talk of Wembley from resurfacing after a performance like this.