Brentford Football Club formed a limited liability company in August 1901. Below is a complete list of Chairmen.
Charles Joseph Dorey (1901-1908 and 1911-12)
Brentford’s first Chairman of the board of directors after the club became a limited company. Born in 1854, he was a member of the District Council, Local Board, and Chairman of the Brentford School Board. His second spell as club Chairman may have proceeded 1911 and extended past 1912, as research has not been completed.
Harry Blundell (1908-1909)
Chairman for a single season. Little is known about his life or time at Griffin Park but he was a director of the club into the 1920s after being associated with the club since the late Victorian period.
Jason Saunders (Edwardian era plus 1920-1922 and 1924-1926)
Born in 1853, Hilton Jason Saunders was Brentford’s Chairman for two spells, the first a lengthy one that spanned the Edwardian period and past the First World War. He retired to Folkestone in the summer of 1926 and became involved in the town’s football team, later being appointed Vice-Chairman. He died in September 1941, aged 88.
George Pauling (1922-1924)
A short tenure, and at present little is yet known about his working life, apart from a spell as Mayor of Wimbledon (1923-1925) and a justice of the peace. He was on the Brentford board of directors shortly after the First World War and was Vice-Chairman in 1927/28, where he appears to have departed thereafter.
Albert William Bradford (1926)
Mr. Bradford was Mayor of Ealing for two spells, in 1918/19 and 1919/1920. He resigned in December 1926 after only months in the role. Born in 1873, he died in 1949.
William Flewitt (1927-1928)
A local councillor with Brentford and Chiswick, Alderman Flewitt’s chairmanship coincided with the opening of the new Braemar Road stand in September 1927. He died, aged 68, in Heston on 4 March 1948.
Louis Paul Simon (1928-1943)
With three trophies during his reign, Louis is the most successful Brentford Chairman ever. Born on 10 March 1871 to French parents (who had emigrated 20 years earlier), Louis joined the Brentford Board of Directors in 1924.
He worked as Managing Director of Pier House Laundry, Strand-on-the- Green, and for Messrs. Camille Simons Ltd., soap powder manufacturers, the family firm named after his mother.
In April 1935, Simon was elected the first life President of the club with promotion to the top flight of English football secured that month.
He died, aged 72, on 4 November 1943, having resigned as Chairman due to ill-health two months earlier.
Prior to the match played between Brentford and Tottenham Hotspur at Griffin Park two days later. a period of silence was observed in the memory of his death, and the Brentford side wore black armbands.
Frank Davis (1943-1961)
Frank, born Frank Albert Fladgate Davis on September 9 1891, was one half of a pair of brothers that were directors of the Club for more than 30 years.
Frank Davis was known as Mr Frank to all those at Griffin Park, and together with his brother, were instrumental in the rise from Division Three (South) to the First Division in the 1930s. He was a publican and Harry a builder, the last Brentford residents to own the club.
Frank Davis became Chairman in late 1943 after Louis Simon died. After the Second World War, Brentford’s decline was rapid in Davis’ tenure, slipping down from First to Third Division in just seven years.
Despite some promotion challenges under Malcolm MacDonald in the late 1950s, Brentford’s attempt to regain a higher Football League status was stalled, and crowds dwindled. He stepped down as Chairman in 1961, having spent 33 years as a Director, but would remain on the Board until 1974, when in a coup, three former Brentford Chairmen left the Board of Directors.
He died in Isleworth, aged 86, on January 25 1978.
Jack Dunnett (1961-1967)
Jack Dunnett ranks alongside Ron Noades and David Webb as one of the most controversial figures in Brentford’s history. His tenure was short but enough to ensure the ramifications of his six-year stay would be felt at Griffin Park for decades.
Born John Jacob Dunnett, on June 24 1922, he was educated at Whitgift Middle School, in Croydon, and Downing College, Cambridge, before becoming a solicitor.
He subsequently served as a councillor on Middlesex County Council from 1958-61, and on Enfield Borough Council 1958-61. Having been appointed to the Brentford FC Board in the summer of 1961, by October he had been elected Chairman, purchasing the controlling interest in the Club.
This began an immediate period of heavy capital investment, both on and off the pitch. Brentford had been relegated to the Fourth Division in 1962, shortly after he took over, and Dunnett gave Manager Malcolm MacDonald the funds to return after one season, which they did.
Griffin Park had not seen such improvements since the Second World War, new floodlight pylons were installed, a club bar plus new offices for administration staff.
By 1964, his political ambitions were being realised as Dunnett was elected at the 1964 General Election as Member of Parliament for Nottingham Central (and held the seat until it was abolished in boundary changes for the 1974 election).
Thousands of pounds were spent trying to regain the club’s Second Division status, but after missing out narrowly in 1965, Brentford were relegated back to the Fourth Division a year later.
In that year’s AGM, Dunnett revealed the club was losing £500 a week, a huge sum, which may have acted as a warning sign for what was about to come.
With Brentford still losing hundreds of pounds a week in the bottom tier, Jack Dunnett met with Queens Park Rangers Chairman Jim Gregory in early 1967, which led to a plan that involved Rangers moving into Griffin Park and The Bees dissolving.
This caused a sensation in the football world, with a massive outcry from supporters keen not to see Brentford die.
Eventually, after weeks of negotiations, a syndicate of businessmen – with the help of donations from supporters – agreed to take over Dunnett’s financial obligations, and more importantly, his shareholding, to rid him from the club.
He later owned Notts County, and would later see them rise to the First Division in the early 1980s. Jack retired from the House of Commons at the 1983 General Election, when Nottingham East was won by the Conservatives.
He was also President of the Football League in two spells, in 1981-1986 and 1988-89.
Ron Blindell (1967-69)
Succeeding Dunnett can be genuinely described of one of Brentford’s unsung heroes, Ron Blindell.
Born in 1906, Ronald J R Blindell was the front man in a syndicate that came to the rescue in order to purchase Dunnett’s shares in 1967, guarantee the Club’s overdraft and provide a 12 month bridging loan of £104,000 to ensure the Brentford was kept alive.
Ron was installed as Chairman, and one of his first tasks was to sack Billy Gray, who Dunnett had appointed the previous year. He lived in Tittenhurst Park House in Ascot until his death in 1969, which was subsequently bought by John Lennon, who composed the songs Imagine and Jealous Guy at the house.
His son, Ron junior, owned 550 shares in Brentford, which equates to 0.3 per cent of the total shareholding, but sold them to Matthew Benham.
Les Davey (1969, 1972-1973 (joint) and 1974)
Les Davey was part of the original 1967 syndicate, and was appointed as a temporary Chairman in 1969 following Ron Blindell’s death.
He was an owner of a building firm, based in Harrow. Davey is said to have provided a bulk of capital to keep the club going after the Dunnett/Queens Park Rangers crisis in 1967.
He eventually locked himself in a battle, mainly with Walter Wheatley, over the running of Brentford Football Club, until the mid-1970s. Davey wanted the club to move to the site of Brentford Market, now occupied by the Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre, in contrast to Wheatley, who wanted on-pitch success first.
March 1974 was to see him remove Wheatley from the Board at an Extraordinary General Meeting but Davey was also left, as he and his son Peter had not attended the requisite amount of Board Meetings in the previous 12 months.
He found himself back on the Board later that year but would give way as Chairman to Dan Tana in November 1974.
Honorary Press Officer Eric White, who edited the Brentford programme for over 30 years, wrote in the book 100 Years of Brentford that he liked Davey intensely but “was, in my opinion, his own worst enemy.
“He hated facing the public over unsavoury matters and kept well in the background using others to put forward his views.”
Walter Wheatley (1969-1971, 1972-1973 (joint) and 1974)
Walter Wheatley was part of the original 1967 syndicate that helped save the club, and after the 1969 AGM, replaced the late Ron Blindell as Chairman.
By that time, he had become Brentford’s biggest creditor as in 1968, Walter – known as Bill to his friends – stepped in to pay off Blindell’s huge 1967 loan to the football club, which was then down to £67,000, and personally guaranteed it himself.
However, without a significant shareholding, his powerbase dwindled with every repayment of the loan, and relinquished his Chairmanship after a rift with Les Davey, and was replaced by Eric Radley Smith in January 1971.
He returned as joint Chairman with Davey 12 months later, becoming sole Chairman for a third time in January 1974, before being removed at a March 1974 EGM.
Wheatley’s sons, Peter and Timothy Wheatley, both transferred their shareholding in Brentford to Matthew Benham, as part of the Bees United/Benham funding partnership in 2009, and a third son Colin was on the Board of Directors in the early 1970s.
He became President of the Club in his later years and died in 1998.
Eric Radley Smith (1971-1972)
The son of an engineer, Eric John Radley was born on March 31 1910 at Norwood in Surrey; and would later add his wife’s maiden name to his own, becoming Eric Radley Smith.
Graduating in 1933, he became a surgeon registrar at King’s College Hospital and later house surgeon at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases.
In 1938, at the age of 28, Radley Smith was appointed consultant surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital.
Radley Smith’s association with Brentford Football Club began in 1938, when he became the club’s consultant surgeon.
He treated many footballers’ knee injuries from clubs all over the South East, and was attend to medical matters for Brentford right up until he became the club’s president in 1998, when he resigned as Director after Ron Noades arrival, becoming President.
He was one of the longest serving directors in the Football League, having been appointed in 1956.
He was the man in the middle between Les Davey and Walter Wheatley for control of Brentford Football Club, and was appointed Chairman in January 1971, overseeing a successful period on the pitch, with Brentford reaching the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, losing 2-1 at Hull City.
If the club travelled to an away game north of London, the team coach would often pull off the M1 to pick him up outside his house.
He died in January 2003.
Dan Tana (1974-1981)
Tana was a flamboyant character, in complete contrast to Davey, and his Hollywood connections ensured sparkle was brought to Griffin Park.
Born in 1935, Tana moved from his native Yugoslavia to America, where he became an actor and movie producer.
In the early 1970s, he moved to London, and in a chance meeting, Frank Blunstone invited Tana to come to watch a game at Griffin Park. It lead to his appointment to the Board of Directors in the summer of 1974, becoming Chairman in November that year.
He was Chairman in Brentford’s promotion season in 1978 but gave way to Martin Lange in 1981. Tana also owns a Hollywood restaurant, Dan Tana’s, where A-list celebrities like to hang out.
He continued as a Director until resigning in February 2002, after 28 years on the Board.
Martin Lange (1981-1992 and 1993-1997)
Another controversial figure in Brentford’s history, who oversaw huge changes in the way the Brentford was run.
Martin Montague Lange was born in 1943, and coming from a background in property development, spent a short time on the Board before being elected Chairman in 1981 in place of Dan Tana.
His first major task, two years into his ownership, was the fire in the Braemar Road stand in February 1983 that would take over £1m to rebuild.
After dispensing with Fred Callaghan in 1984, he appointed Frank McClintock, and 12 months later, the Scot led Brentford to Wembley in the Final of the Freight Rover Trophy, but Brentford lost 3-1 to Wigan Athletic.
Sacking McClintock in 1987 after a poor run of results, he found a readymade replacement in Steve Perryman, and the team enjoyed an FA Cup run to the Sixth Round. By that time Griffin Park had changed further, with the Brook Road stand demolished in 1986 and rebuilt, helping to clear some of the Club’s debts.
It was a decision that angered many Brentford fans, and some resentment remains, even to this day. By 1992 those debts, mostly loans by Lange into the football club, were at £1.5m.
That year, Manager Phil Holder had won the Third Division title, but Lange, having taken 11 years to reach this point, wasn’t there to see it, having moved outside the UK temporarily for tax reasons. He returned a year later, to find a Club with increased debts and sliding towards relegation.
Lange sacked Holder in May 1993 and then appointed David Webb, who was tasked with reducing the wage bill, building a winning team, and selling players on for transfer fees that would help reduce Lange’s long standing financial commitment.
Webb did as he was asked, but the hammer blow for Lange was losing to Huddersfield Town in the Division Two Play-Off Semi-Final in 1995. Seemingly losing interest in owning the Club thereafter, Lange sold Brentford to a consortium headed by David Webb in 1997. He was then repaid his loans totalling £1m into the Football Club. Shortly after that repayment, Brentford were relegated.
A strong advocate of bringing aspects from American sport into English football, he successfully argued to bring Play-Offs into Football League competition, which was adopted in 1986.
Lange died in late 2015.
Gerry Potter (1992-1993)
Whilst Martin Lange was overseas due to tax reasons in the Division One season of 1992-1993, Gerry Potter was asked to take the role of Chairman.
Having been elected to the Board in the early 1980s, he was appointed in April 1992 just in time to see Brentford clinch the Third Division Championship at Peterborough United.
That was the highlight of Potter’s reign, as he sanctioned a succession of what can now be assessed as poor buys by manager Phil Holder in the summer of 1992, which led to an immediate relegation to the third tier a year later and increased the debt of the club still further.
On Martin Lange’s return to the United Kingdom, Potter stepped down as Chairman and left the Board later in 1993, subsequently becoming a director of Wycombe Wanderers.
Tony Swaisland (1997-98)
Born in 1944, Anthony Ernest Swaisland was front man for the three-man syndicate with John Herting and David Webb that purchased Martin Lange’s controlling interest in Brentford Football Club in 1997.
Swaisland’s tenure as Chairman was brief and unsuccessful and it came in Brentford’s relegation season of 1997/98. It was a poisoned affair, with regular demonstrations and unrest by supporters, who deemed Webb’s ownership of the club undesirable.
He left the board of directors in November 1998, shortly after Ron Noades arrival, and later joined AFC Bournemouth, becoming Chairman.
Ron Noades (1998-2003)
Ron Noades was a figure that Brentford supporters acted firstly cautiously to, embraced, and subsequently fell out with. His tenure as Brentford Chairman and owner was never dull, and often controversial. He was a divisive figure, often provoking fierce arguments between those in the pro and anti-Noades camp.
Ronald Geoffrey Noades was born on June 22 1937, and began his involvement in football as a referee.
He bought non-league Southall FC in the mid-1970s, later taking control at Wimbledon Football Club, overseeing their rise into the Football League in 1977.
Four years later, with neighbouring Crystal Palace in financial meltdown, Noades sold out and bought Crystal Palace. He stayed there until 1998, but sold when he received a large cash offer from Mark Goldberg for the football club, but with Noades still retaining ownership of Selhurst Park.
His first job as Brentford owner in June 1998 was to sack Mickey Adams and appoint himself as Manager, surrounding himself with three coaches, Brian Sparrow, Ray Lewington, and Terry Bullivant to do the training, with Noades in charge of team selection.
His first season was successful, winning the Nationwide League Division Three title in May 1999 after finishing the season with the last 16 games unbeaten run. However, the financial cost was huge, with a £1.5m loss in just 12 months.
After a patchy 1999/2000 season, where Brentford rose to second place in Division Two by November, but then fell away badly, he stood down as manager in November 2000 after an embarrassing 3-1 home FA Cup defeat to Kingstonian, subsequently appointing Ray Lewington as caretaker.
That was the signal for an immediate raft of financial cuts, removing expensive players off the wage bill, and then changing Training Grounds to a cheaper one from his Godstone base.
Three more years passed before he stood down from day-to-day management of the Club, with the Club’s bank overdraft standing at more than £4 million, Brentford having been relatively debt free five years earlier when he took over.
He eventually sold his shares to Bees United, The Brentford Supporters’ Trust, in January 2006, and was relieved of all financial obligations to Brentford a year later, with supporter Matthew Benham funding the repayment of his loans to the football club.
Eddie Rogers (2003-2006)
Becoming Chairman in Easter 2003 in succession to Ron Noades, Eddie was appointed a Director at Griffin Park in 1999 after a background in property development.
Taking a keen interest in Sunderland before also becoming a Brentford fan, he was elected Chairman after Bees United took over day-to-day management of the club.
Eddie can be seen at the majority of home and away games, and was appointed joint Vice-Chairman in the summer of 2013, along with fellow director Donald Kerr.
Greg Dyke (2006-2013)
Perhaps the highest profile Chairman Brentford has ever had, Greg Dyke joined alongside Bees United in their successful attempt to purchase the controlling shareholding from Ron Noades.
After a career in journalism, Greg branched into broadcasting, becoming very successful at London Weekend Television.
His first Directorship in football was at Manchester United in 1997, then listed on the Stock Exchange.
Dyke received an approach from a supporter about whether he’d like to be involved in the Bees United takeover and he agreed, lending £100,000 to the Supporters’ Trust.
He became Brentford Chairman in January 2006, having first watched them in the 1950s due to his brother Ian playing for the Youth Team at the time.
At Brentford, he oversaw four changes of manager in eighteen months – one of the most turbulent periods of the Club’s history – with Martin Allen, who resigned, plus Leroy Rosenior, Scott Fitzgerald and Terry Butcher (all sacked) leaving Griffin Park.
He resigned as Brentford Chairman in the summer of 2013 after accepting an offer from The Football Association to become its Independent Chairman, with Cliff Crown appointed in his place.
Cliff Crown (2013-present)
Cliff, a Chief Financial Officer and business adviser to a number of companies in which Club owner Matthew Benham has a financial interest, was appointed as a Club Director in July 2012.
He is a chartered accountant and replaced Greg Dyke as Brentford Chairman in June 2013.
(Some of original text for this article was published in 2013).