Football: Fan's Eye View - Brentford: Iceman cometh: puffins beware

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The Independent Online
LET ME start by asking you a question. Say you got chatting to a fella in a pub. A normal, young, respectable looking fella. Clean shaven, modern haircut, well dressed, too. But he spoke with a slightly unusual Nordic accent, so there was obviously more to him than first met the eye. How would you react if the conversation switched from general football chitchat and swerved, out of the blue, on to the subject of puffin murdering? Yeah, that's right: those pretty black-and-white sea birds with the multi- coloured parrot-esque bills - stone dead. Caught with a big net, then throttled. I was taken aback, too, believe you me.

But how could I "grass" him up to the RSPB? After all, he was only talking about his homeland, and besides, I was in the presence of the saviour of west London football, the Icelandic international defender, Hermann Hreidarsson.

I don't know why I was so shocked. Apparently bird squatting is a national pastime in his neck of the woods and is nothing unusual whatsoever. You live and learn, I suppose. At least they eat them afterwards.

Puffin munching aside, Hermann is still a fascinating chap. He has swapped the comfort and glare of the Premiership for the heady depths of the Third Division, and when you enquire as to why (not in a sarcastic way you understand, nor in a manner which sounds like you could be questioning his sanity), Hreidarsson looks back and explains matter-of-factly that it doesn't matter to him what league he's playing in. He considers himself to be as good a player at Brentford in the Nationwide Third Division as he would be anywhere else, and as long as his international chances aren't adversely effected - which his national coach tells him they aren't - and he can still earn a good living, then the Iceman is happy.

If only there were more players with Hermann's outlook on the game. I can understand that footballers dream of the chance of strutting their stuff in the highest possible league, but the greed and hype surrounding everything Premier has seen the wage demands of players spiralling out of control. They are dragging the game towards a situation that could mean extinction for many smaller clubs. The majority of footballers, at every level of the game, seem to have lost a realistic grasp of their own abilities. Not Hermann, though.

Maybe Ron Noades has started a trend at Brentford. He is investing in a smaller club at a time when every football expert is saying you should not touch them with a barge pole, and I'm sure other businessmen are paying close attention to events at Griffin Park.

Close friends of Noades have even gone as far as to say that they have never seen the snowy topped chairman-manager so happy. Okay, not every club can attract someone as flash, brash and with quite so much cash as Ron, but the turnaround in Brentford's fortunes in 12 months should be enough to give fans of other clubs some hope.

Somewhere along the line I'm certain Noades will expect a pay-back, but if Brentford have been dragged up by the scruff of the neck in the process, then so be it. To the majority of the Brentford faithful, Noades has has already gone a long way to healing the wounds inflicted by the David Webb regime. The bird population of west London may not be as safe as it used to be, but at least the fans have got hope again.

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