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Woody Welcomes

  • Writer's pictureNatalie O'Rourke

What A Year For Woody Welcomes

Woody and I were so excited for the first game back in the new Premier League season yesterday.  An exciting 2-2 draw with local rivals Tottenham was a great start and we can’t wait to see what excitement the new campaign will bring. 

  

With the start of the new campaign comes the opportunity to reflect on the season just gone. Woody Welcomed so many amazing visiting fans to Brentford.  It would be impossible to pick out our favourite as everyone was so amazing and each team is doing so much in their community for diversity and inclusion.  

  

We wanted to recap for you all and as this involves football teams, what better way than in the order the Premier League table finished in the 2022 / 2023 season.  

  

1. Manchester City  

  

Woody Welcomed ThisIsFG_ a YouTuber from Manchester City – excitement levels off the chart for someone who loves YouTube nearly as much as football.  Woody also welcomed Patrick and his Mum, who are Bee’s fans from Northern Ireland, they had made the trip to a sun soaked Gtech and requested a special meet up with Woody – we were more happy to oblige.  

  

Finally, Woody Welcomed Dan in the sensory room.  Dan is a huge Man City fan and a wheelchair user, so it was great to get his perspective on accessibility at the football stadiums around the country.  We were proud about the feedback for our own ground which was impressive.  

  

2. Arsenal  

  

To begin with Woody and I would like to off a huge congratulations to Arsenal on winning the Community Shield on Sunday.  The match went to a nail-biting penalty shootout, and we certainly do love the excitement that brings.  

  

It was back in September Woody Welcomed Anne from Arsenal.  Anne is a fierce campaigner for accessibility at other grounds and works to educate the clubs on how they can support all fans being able to access the match day experience.  As well as the swopping of shirts, there was some much-appreciated swopping of cake.  Anne brought some Christmas cake she had made, and Woody reciprocated the gesture by providing some of his birthday cake.  

  

The sensory room was decked out with balloons and banners as we celebrated Woody’s 10th birthday, and despite Arsenal taking the three points we had an absolutely brilliant day.  

  

3. Manchester United  

  

The opening game of the 2022 / 2023 season saw Manchester United make the trip to Brentford.  And Woody and I couldn’t have wished for a better start than the 4 – 0 whopping we gave the Red Devils.  

  

Woody Welcomed Sean and his dad, Tony.  Both are avid United fans, and they go to every game, both home and away... even in Europe! That is true dedication.  Woody and Sean swopped shirts and it was great to see them communicating in their own way – facial expressions, gestures, hands on hearts and badges were all they needed.    

  

4. Newcastle  

  

With my head in hands, I realised I had double booked this match day with a short break away. We hadn’t missed a home game in a long while, and this meant Woody couldn’t welcome anyone to the Gtech.  But fear not... we will rectify that when the Bees welcome Newcastle in May 2024! 


  

5. Liverpool  

  

Toot Toot!  We cheered in the New Year with an incredibly special evening game against the mighty Liverpool.  Woody, wearing his infamous gold jacket, was on fine form as he was greeted with huge cheers on to the fan's bus.  He caused quite a stir honking the horn and we joined in a singalong of Hey Jude andYou’ll Never Walk Alone.  The official welcome was with Andrew and Ste, but all the fans went out of their way to make Woody feel special.  

  

6. Brighton & Hove Albion  

  

It was a crisp October evening when Woody Welcomed Brighton & Hove Albion super fan Jadey to the Gtech stadium.  

  

We had not been to the see the Bees play at home for four weeks due to international breaks and a run of away games, so it was great to be back. This was not Jadey’s first visit, and he was impressed with our facilities.  Woody and Jadey swopped shirts and had lots of fan banter.  

  

7. Aston Villa  

  

The Woody Welcomes for the Villa game was very special.  

  

Owen and Alex were great, and their families really got the impact football can have on lives. Brentford has given us a huge family and Villa have done the exact same for the people we met today, and they know their child is going to grow up surrounded by people with the same passion as them.  

  

And of course, the game was made even more special because Woody got to see his good friend Ollie Watkins.  At the full-time whistle Woody was delighted to be allowed to run to Ollie for a big hug and a chat – absolutely magical!  

  

We also found out that Villa had recently honoured their own Disability Manager, Nigel Macrow, who has been working with the Aston Villa Foundation for nearly 25 years with a Premier League "One of Our Own" Award.    

  

One of the reasons we wanted to write this blog was to highlight what the Premier League teams put into their communities in terms of inclusion and disability sport – we think they should be so proud of what they have achieved.  

  

8. Tottenham  

  

For the game against Spurs Woody wore his away shirt to support the homeless at Christmas.  Walking over Kew Bridge in the crisp December sunshine Woody was on great form shouting ‘You Reds’.   

  

Woody Welcomed Matthew.  There was a huge hug for Matthew but also a huge thumbs down for the Tottenham  

badge... Woody!!  

  

9. Brentford  

  

We are so proud of Brentford and how much they have embraced us... they are now part of our family.    

  

As part of this series of blogs we took the opportunity to highlight the Brentford FC Womens Club.    

  

Brentford FC Women's Club's history goes back over 30 years, being formed on 29th July 1990. The team started out as an under-14s team based at Feltham Arena in Hounslow playing in friendly matches before becoming eligible for senior age football in season 1995/96.  

  

Fast forward to Sunday 13th November 2022 and they are playing their first ever match at the Gtech stadium!  The event was put on for FREE and the atmosphere was electric. The 5,000 strong crowd sang their hearts out and raised the roof.    

  

Woody had a brilliant time and the result really helped with the Bee Ladies winning 4-2.  

Well Done Queen Bees! 


  

10. Fulham  

  

At the beginning of this Monday night fixture and to recognise International Womens Day Brentford displayed all the women who inspired the players.  Woody and I thought that this was a really nice touch.   

  

Unfortunately, the original fan Woody was supposed to welcome did not make it, but we improvised and after a couple of declines we happened across Tony who was more than happy to be part of Woody Welcomes.  Woody gave Tony a huge hug and welcome to the Gtech stadium! 


   

11. Crystal Palace 


Hurry Up Woody!  


Woody was in no way rushing to get to the Gtech for this match against Crystal Palace.  He stopped to chat with everyone on the way. 

We met the lovely Ellie who completed the shirt swop with Woody... Woody was thrilled to have his name on the back of the shirt... Ellie seemed less impressed with her Brentford shirt. 


Thanks to a last-minute equalizer the Bees secured a point... sorry to disappoint the lovely fans who took the time out to chat to Woody! 

It was also an exciting week as I met with a senior member of the Premier League and received some brilliant feedback on our blog and how they want to support us! 



12. Chelsea 


Another night game on a chilly October evening saw Chelsea visit the Gtech stadium.  There is something special about a night game when you can see your breath in front of you in crisp night air.



13. Wolverhampton Wanderers 


This was the last home game before the World Cup break.  We were looking forward to seeing some of our Bees in action for their home country teams.  


But before we got to that excitement there was the small matter of meeting Barley... oh and Wendy. Barley is Wendy’s guide dog and Woody was instantly smitten.  Poor Wendy didn’t get a look in... 


Until Woody noticed that Wendy had a prosthetic eye... a WOLVES prosthetic eye. Woody was intrigued by this, and he and Wendy warmed to each other beautifully.  


As a loyal supporter of the Wolf pack, Wendy, along with Barley, follow Wolves all over. 


What an inspiration Wendy is! 


14. West Ham 


Woody’s official welcome was to be with Adele... however, being Woody, he doesn’t stick to the script.   


The first fan he welcomed was young Michael who had been invited by Brentford to lead his team out at the Gtech.  Michael was only 6 and very excited and proud, they had a good old chat about their shared love of Said Benrahma.   


Next up Woody decided to turn sports journalist and gave Jeff Stelling a run for his money by interviewing the West Ham fans as they arrived.  


When we met Adele, we realised she is so lovely and kind, turning up with many gifts for Woody. 

Adele also told us all about The Sugar Bear. Sugar Bear is a West Ham fan that goes around doing good deeds all funded by other West Ham fans.  We think this is amazing and cannot wait to meet Sugar Bear at the London Stadium this season. 


Our Bees hammered out a 2 – 0 win over West Ham which made us very happy. 



15. Bournemouth 


The Cherries arrived at the Gtech for a Saturday evening game.  And Woody made the most of his time with the fans.   


Ahead of the game we went to the pub and Woody made friends with a group of Bournemouth fans.  They were all incredibly kind to Woody and let him sit with them and regal them with all things Brentford related. 

Woody welcomed Nick who is a true Cherry and works for Bournemouth FC. There was some friendly banter and lots of hugging during the shirt exchange. 


It was another chilly night game, so Woody popped his Bournemouth shirt on under the many layers he was already wearing. 


As predicted by the fans we met, Brentford did infact take the three points – another great win! 


16. Nottingham Forest 


Woody Welcomed Alistair for this game against Nottingham Forest for this game.   


Alistair is a super football fan and has visited 73 of the 92 football grounds around the country – How amazing is that? 


We had a good chat about the facilities at Brentford and Alistair said he really wants his team to stay in the Premier League so he can return to the Gtech as he was so warmly welcomed. 


The arriving fans were incredibly generous, and we collected £894 for an amazing charity that is close to our hearts.   


Finally, we were so happy to have Smiley New follows us for this match.  They only cover positive news stories and they have now produced a video for you all to watch.  Woody was delighted to be able to present Thomas Frank with a Smiley bracelet, along with a special note to pass on and some Hula Hoops. 


17. Everton  


The visit from the Toffees at the end of August was pretty special.   


Woody Welcomed a fabulous young lady called Amy Wilson, a wheelchair user from Liverpool. Amy had travelled all that way on public transport, and we know what a challenge that can be, so we knew we were dealing with a super fan. 


Amy is the 202/2022 Everton Fan of the Year... what an accolade... and so well deserved.  Amy won the award for all her work to improve matchdays for supporters with accessibility requirements. Not only that but she is a member of the Everton Disabled Supporters’ Association and works for CAFÉ, which is the Centre for Access to Football in Europe. 

 

Woody greeted Amy with a big hug, and they swopped shirts.  Amy promised to stay in touch with her new little Bee friend. 

 

18. Leicester City 


What an amazing Woody Welcomes this one was!!  


Just days before World Down Syndrome Day we met Noah and his Mum.  Woody gave a very warm welcome to lovely Noah, who is a Leicester Super fan.  It is fair to say that Noah is as passionate about Leicester as Woody is about Brentford.  Noah and his mum are really dedicated to their team and the passion shone out of them.  It was a lovely Woody welcomes in the sensory room and Woody and Noah enjoyed some games together after some banter and the shirt swap. 



The day was brimming with kindness from Brentford.  It was incredibly generous (and brave) of the club to allow 28 children with Down Syndrome to be the guard of honour. 

This exercise required buckets of patience and military style planning.  My blood pressure was off the scale, but it went so well, and my heart was so full as the players high fived every single child in the guard of honour.   


I was one happy Mum when I saw the article about being Woody’s Mum in the Sunday Times the next day – on Mother's Day.  


19. Leeds United 


This Woody Welcomes ran a little late because the Leeds supporter's coaches were running super late. 


So, Woody had to meet Nikki in the away fan zone... this is normally a no-go zone for Brentford fans, but the Leeds fans were all very welcoming, much to our delight.  

Nikki is visually impaired and wears a really cool waistcoat, a high-vis jacket adapted in Leeds colours. Woody was in full on charm offensive mode as he presented Nikki with a rose. 


The result didn’t go Nikki’s way, but the Bees scored the highest number of goals in a game for this season. 5-2 to Brentford. 


20. Southampton 


And last but by no means least, it was a bright sunny day in February when Woody Welcomed Saints super fan, Mark.   

 

Mark had had a busy week, what with travelling to Newcastle mid-week... being at the Gtech must have felt like a local derby in comparison.  Mark had been following our blog for a while and we were delighted to meet him and have him on board with our message of positivity. 

 

Woody and Mark had some friendly banter and swopped shirts.  We also met some other Saints fans who were in jolly spirits. 

 

The was a sea of red and white all over the Gtech as both fans proudly displayed their colours. 

 

 

 

And that is it... my round up of an incredible season, meeting some incredible people and talking about how proud the Premier League teams should be about everything they are doing to ensure their entire communities are engaged withtheir football family. 

 

We will be back for a few more blogs in the 2023 / 2024 season.   

 

We want to welcome Newcastle (who we missed due to lovely family break away), and we also want to welcome the promoted teams – Burnley, Sheffield United and Luton Town. 

 

The very positive Smiley Movement have put together this lovely video about Woody Welcomes – we love it – please take a look. 


 

But for now, I will sign off by saying a massive Thank You to everyone who has supported this blog, to Brentford for making this possible and to the visiting fans for being so generous with the time and support. 

 

Keep an eye out for Woody fist bumping Thomas in the new season! 


 

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derek.gadd
derek.gadd
Aug 14, 2023

Just brilliant. Well done to all concerned. From Ruth Kelly, Derek, Eamonn, Sinead, Roisin and Niamh Gadd, not to mention a big bow wow from Oscar.

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