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Official Review by Jeremy Inson, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Griffin Park, home to Brentford FC, is a throwback to the traditional style English ground, wedged in between rows of terrace housing and cramped streets. It has been home to the west London side since 1904 and while their fans have rarely tasted the rarefied air of the top divisions, the tightly packed ground is all part of the supporter’s experience.
The name comes from the Griffin in the logo for Fuller’s Brewery, who at the time owned the land. Since then, its highest attendance was 38,678 for Leicester City’s visit in 1949, while in recent years the average has hovered between 5,000-6,000.
Griffin Park was used for the football tournament of the 1948 Olympic Games and in recent years it has been used for three international matches.
There may be more glamorous names in west London football circles, but a visit to Brentford FC and Griffin Park is well worth the trip for any visiting fan.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
At Griffin Park you will never go short of a drink, because unlike any other stadium in the country there is a pub on each corner.
The Griffin, on the south-west corner is the fan's favourite and it does brisk business in the build up to kick off. If you can't find space in there, then The Princess Royal, Royal Oak or New Inn will provide a friendly welcome to all.
With Fuller's brewery no more than five miles away all four pubs are well stocked with its main beer - London Pride - a flavoursome dark bitter, that remains the drink of choice. Nonetheless there are a full range of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks available.
On the food front, pies, sausage rolls, hotdogs and burgers are available inside and outside the ground, usually in some sort of meal deal with a chocolate bar and a soft drink for about five pounds.
It may not be haute cuisine, but on a wet Tuesday night a greasy burger and hot chocolate certainly hit the spot.
With four tightly packed stands so close to the pitch that supporters can shake hands with a player when he's lining up a corner kick, even in a low-key match the atmosphere is bubbly.
Most of the noise comes from the Ealing Road terrace behind the goal on the south side of the ground, with the hardcore supporters closely bunched together behind the goal.
Furthermore, aside from very mild abuse of the opposition, the vast majority of the cheering was overwhelmingly positive, with no hint of the serious abuse that has reared its head at other venues.
Griffin Park is in a classic British location wedged between a series of tight-knit residential streets and high rise apartment blocks. While containing no hint of danger, there's not much around the ground - the four pubs aside - and you need to go further before finding anything else.
Ealing town centre is a short bus ride away for wider food and drink options and from there it is a short trip to the delights and sights of central London.
The Brentford faithful are a friendly and welcoming bunch and good to get chatting to in the pubs before and on the terraces during the game. In fact such is the welcoming nature of the club that it earned the Football League family friendly club award in 2011.
No part of the ground is what could be considered 'family unfriendly' and families mixed and mingled in both the sitting and standing areas and appeared to be enjoying themselves in both.
The access is not great, but not too much of a struggle. Brentford station is on the mainline from Waterloo station in central London, with services every 15 minutes. From the station Griffin Park is about a five minute walk.
The nearest tube station is South Ealing on the Piccadilly Line and is a 15 minute walk away. Alternatively you can jump on the 65 bus outside the station, which stops right across from the ground. That bus starts from outside Ealing Broadway station, which is the end of the line for the Central and District Lines on the Underground and the mainline from Paddington in central London.
Overall a great few hours watching sport can be had watching Brentford. Prices are cheap and affordable, the team plays an entertaining brand of football and families are welcome.
Griffin Park is a throwback to how football used to be - friends paying a fair price to watch the match, while standing and singing together - and how some would like it to be again.
There is also a small, but well-stocked club shop next to the ground, where many a bargain can be found.
Brentford are planning on rebuilding a new, purpose-built stadium not far from Griffin Park. They secured a nearby site on which to build a 20,000 capacity stadium in 2007, but had to put their plans on hold following the financial crisis.
While that has put the club's long term plans on ice, it does mean that supporters have a little more time to get along to one of the most soulful and charismatic ground in the country, because whatever the club replaces Griffin Park with, it is highly unlikely that it will have the charm of the old place.
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