The Story Behind the Brentford FC Partnership

by Alex McKenzie on May 25, 2021
It was a sunny Tuesday morning in September 2020 when we visited Griffin Park. If anything, it was a perfect day for football. Emerging from the vestibule to the beautiful sight of the pitch below, the pitch markings still freshly painted on the immaculately cut grass, it could have been the morning of a game. Similar to that eerie moment of calm before a storm unleashes itself, Brentford FC’s long-standing home was quiet, awaiting the arrival of fans, and all the cacophony of noise, passion and drama that football has a unique power to create. Our journey had mirrored that of countless fans from throughout the decades – yet today was different. This was the final time we visited Griffin Park. After 116 years, the final whistle had blown upon this historic ground.

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TRIBUS and Brentford FC

When we heard the news that Brentford FC was leaving Griffin Park, one of those quintessentially British football grounds, we wanted to celebrate its legacy.

At TRIBUS, we set out with the mindset to only embark on a project if we were passionate about it. As three brothers who had grown up on the terraces in Liverpool, a city passionate about sport, culture and music – and how all three overlap – we know the vital role a team plays in our lives. The sense of community that comes with meeting strangers, who become friends, who become family, bound by a mutual love of your club. The routines and traditions, passed down from father to son, every other Saturday as you make your way to your seat. The away trips, with all the camaraderie, shared experiences and memories that could only make sense to you and those who were there. All to watch 22 men kick a ball around a pitch. It sounds stupid – but it means everything.

As Official Timing Partner of Brentford FC, everything was in place to immortalise the special home that was Griffin Park in a commemorative watch: the TW8 Limited Edition.

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What was so special about Griffin Park?

Asking any football fan about their ground is bound to be a passionate topic. You’ll probably hear any countless number of things, ranging from the quality of the atmosphere to the quality of the pies, yet the main thing any fan is proud of is that it’s their home. Not the one where they spend time with their family – although many families do attend together, a rite of passage shared between generations – but the home away from home that provides the escape from their daily life. Thousands under one roof, where generations and different walks of life become one for those 90 minutes.

But Griffin Park was undoubtedly special – and not just because it was the only ground with a pub on each corner. Brentford FC’s home since 1904, it was a place at the heart of its community; nestled between terraced houses on residential streets, stairways from the Braemar Road Stand overlooked private gardens (although what privacy was available was up for debate), while streams of fans would make their way between two houses on the Ealing Road to enter its stand. In the other direction, fans could finish their pint at The Griffin pub and be at their seat in the Braemar Road Stand in minutes.

A world away from today’s futuristic stadia, Griffin Park was a ground of its time – or times, to be precise. It evolved through the decades in charmingly piecemeal fashion, with different stands offering insight into the eras in which they were built, a living piece of history directly connecting Thomas Frank’s squad of modern athletes to Dick Molyneux and his 1904 team.

Attending a game at Griffin Park was a traditional experience; intimate and uncensored, it was how football is supposed to be. With stands almost overhanging the pitch – particularly in the case of the two-tiered Brook Road Stand – the players were never too far from the fans. The chants, the taunts; all were audible despite the roar of the stands around them. Even though the sport may have changed, with progressions made in sports science and all the money now associated with the modern game, playing at Griffin Park was a reminder of football’s more humble roots.

Yet in a sport whose fan culture celebrates heritage and continuity with a club’s past, this wonderful ground had taken Brentford FC as far as it could. In 2020, the club said Farewell to Griffin Park as it prepared to move into its state-of-the-art replacement, the Brentford Community Stadium. Capable of hosting 17,250 fans, the new stadium is an appropriately ambitious home for a club whose analytical and outside-of-the-box operations made them the envy of clubs throughout England and beyond – and a perfect partner for TRIBUS.

In conjunction with the club, we wanted to celebrate Griffin Park’s legacy in a Swiss-made watch. The result is the TW8 Limited Edition, of which just 1904 have been made – a reference to the year the ground opened. But this isn’t just another TRIBUS model with a Brentford FC crest stuck on the dial. Griffin Park may have gone, but we had a plan to ensure its story lived on. A plan involving metal taken from the ground’s handrails. 

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A piece of Griffin Park on your wrist

Vans were parked outside and people in high visibility jackets had moved in, and scaffolding was being erected inside the New Road Stand as workers set about dismantling the stadium. Television screens were being unplugged from the walls and signs removed as the matchday experience Brentford fans would have recognised gradually slipped away.

Yet the pitch was immaculate. Following the first team’s own Farewell to Griffin Park, a 3-1 Championship play-off win over Swansea City, the final game at the ground took place at the end of August as the Brentford B side beat Erith Town F.C. 6-3. It was here we found ourselves, working against a backdrop of expansive green pitch underneath rows of red seats and then a bright blue sky. For all the years that fans had packed out the ground, to see it so quiet now was surreal. It was an honour to be there after so many people had left for the last time.

We chose metal from handrails from the four stands that had helped countless numbers to their spot for the game throughout the decades. Sparks flew as we cut through them; the air was full of noise and smoke. It was nearly time for these pieces of metal to depart their long-time home and begin the next stage of their journey. Before we left, we couldn’t resist a quick kickaround on the pitch, fulfilling many of our team’s dreams of scoring a goal at a proper football ground!

For these pieces to become ready for use in the TW8 Limited Edition, they needed to be melted down in a furnace. The resulting metal was then poured into a mould and cast in disc form, with each featuring the bee of the club’s modern crest. A transparent sapphire crystal surrounding each disc allows a view of the Swiss-made movement inside, with red and white stripes reminiscent of the Bees’ kit framing the ensemble. Of course, as one of 1904 watches made, each model has its own specific serial number denoting its place in this special limited edition run. On the dial of the watch, the Bee makes another appearance in a concaved subdial, with a recessed second ring in cream – a nod to a colour included in the club’s previous crest.

The TW8 Limited Edition was conceived to be a lasting memento to a ground that meant so much to so many. But it has managed to become more than that too, combining references to the club’s traditional past and exciting future in one beautifully engineered Swiss-made watch. It may have been hand-built using the finest materials and standards at our facility in Lugano, Switzerland, but this is a watch whose heart is undoubtedly rooted in TW8, a postcode at the heart of many thousands of fans throughout the club’s history.

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Club and Community

At TRIBUS, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved with the TW8 Limited Edition (we’re especially looking forward to seeing fans of the Bees wearing their watch containing a piece of Brentford FC history to the club’s new stadium!). We’re also equally proud to be Official Timing Partner to Brentford FC. The club may be renowned in footballing circles for its analytical approach and exciting philosophy on the pitch, but it’s what it does off it that confirms it to be a wonderful institution at the heart of its community. Through its Community Sports Trust, the club engages with local schools, runs football sessions for kids, offers mental health support and educational programmes, support for young carers and more. In a world where football can be seen to be losing its touch with the common person, Brentford FC goes above and beyond in its commitment to giving back.

Following the club’s move into a brand-new stadium, and with all signs pointing to a future with seemingly endless potential, we’re excited to accompany Brentford FC on the next stages of their journey!

The new TW8 Limited Edition is available here.

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