Since the 1990/91 season, Brentford have lost in all eight of their play-off campaigns.
It’s an unwanted statistic that has lingered over the West London club for decades, but after overcoming Swansea in the semi-final, Thomas Frank’s men have the chance to set the record straight and banish the streak to the history books.Here, we take a look at how the Bees have come up short and whether they can make it ninth time lucky at Wembley on Tuesday August 4…1990/91 – Third Division semi-finalists
Brentford spent the 1960s, 70s and 80s flitting between the Third and Fourth Divisions of English football but it looked as though they’d finally escape, after years of mediocrity, in the fifth season after the end-of-season lottery was introduced. Their plans for the season took a hit when Steve Perryman quit as manager less than 10 days before the opening day, but his assistant Phil Holder took over and soon had them challenging at the top of the table.A run to the Southern Area final of the Leyland DAF Cup affected their league form, however, and despite five wins from their last six games, the Bees were forced to settle for a sixth-place finish. In an enthralling first-leg meeting with Tranmere, Kevin Godfrey struck a last-minute equaliser for the hosts at Griffin Park, but a first-half goal from Gerard Brannan on the return to Prenton Park was enough to earn Rovers a 3-2 victory and a spot in the final at Wembley.
1994/95 – Second Division semi-finalistsThis season was a tale of two halves for Brentford, who were uncomfortably perched in mid-table by November 1994 after a mixed bag to start the campaign. David Webb’s side bucked their ideas up from there, though, and lost just once from November 26 to April 22. A few days later, they travelled to St Andrew’s to take on Birmingham knowing that victory would leave them in pole position for the sole automatic promotion berth in the Second Division. With an immense amount of pressure upon them, the Bees fell to a 2-0 defeat.They then lost 2-1 to Bournemouth and drew 2-2 with Bristol Rovers as any hopes of a late recovery were dashed and entered the play-offs with an over-riding feeling of what might have been a few weeks earlier. With no killer instinct exercised by themselves or Huddersfield, both legs were drawn 1-1 and, after extra time, Jamie Bates missed the crucial penalty in the shootout, which the Terriers edged 4-3 at Griffin Park.
1996/97 – Second Division runners-upWebb had largely the same squad from the previous play-off campaign at his disposal as he went in search of an exit route from the third tier and with Carl Asaba having scored 11 goals in the first 11 games, another promotion push looked likely two years later. They rarely moved away from the top for most of the season, until the wheels started to come off in March 1997.
The goals dried up almost completely after the departure of Nicky Forster to Birmingham and Brentford scored just seven in the final 15 games of the season, picking up 13 points from the 45 available. The slump came to a timely end with a 4-2 aggregate win over Bristol City in the semi-final, though there was to be no happy ending, as Crewe came out on top in the final, with stalwart Shaun Smith netting the decisive goal midway through the first half of a narrow 1-0 win.