Having secured a home ground adjacent to Clifden House, near to Brook Road South, the Club now needed players. The West Middlesex Standard edition of 26 October 1889 carried news of Secretary Archer Green asking for potential players to assemble at the field adjacent to Clifden House on 2 November for 3pm, with subscriptions set at a ‘modest’ five shillings for the season.
The first practice match were sides chosen by the captain Mr Curtis and vice-captain Mr Bailey, the County of Middlesex Independent newspaper recorded that the former side won. The newspaper also noted that the Club should be grateful to Edwin Underwood for his decision to let Brentford use his field for home matches.
The field was enclosed, which enabled admission charges to be levied for matches. The entry was in Brook Road, between numbers 60 and 62. The entrance is still visible to this day, opposite the Club’s first club house, The Griffin.
Another practice match between members was held on 9 November, with members of the Pears Club swelling the numbers of both sides, the match ending a 2-2 draw.
The historic first match against opponents took place on 23 November at home to Kew FC. Until 1999, modern Brentford historians did not know much about the match or even the full team line-up, but contemporary newspapers were rediscovered, and a reprint of the match report is published here from the 30 November 1889 edition of the West Middlesex Standard.
BRENTFORD – On Saturday last, in rather damp weather, the first match played by the new Brentford F.C. took place on their own ground which in spite of a good deal of sharp play on the part of their own opponents, they managed to hold their own., the game resulting in a draw, one goal to one. It was easily to be seen that neither team had had a long existence, and many faults could be pointed out on both sides but as it is a newly-started venture, we will be kind. The first goal fell to Brentford, being kicked by Bonell, who played excellently throughout, as did also Bloomer and Beavor. Sterling service, it may also be mentioned, was rendered by Drabble and Gatrell. This was close after the commencement of the game, and the hopes of the Brentonians, at such an auspicious start, ran high. For a considerable time nothing wild play all round the field, in the course of which the lack in both teams of practise in passing was clearly demonstrated, resulted, when a very narrow squeak happened for Brentford The ball was kicked to the goal very swiftly, but was stopped by the action of Edwardes (goal) and the cross-piece. As it fell, however, a Kew Bridge man pushed the ball through with his hand, whereupon, after some excited discussion (which was fully frequent during the afternoon) a free kick was awarded by the umpire to Brentford. The ball went to the other goal with a rush, and shortly afterwards returned, and the Brentford goal fell to a fine kick by A. Day. Corners, free-kicks and outs were then the order of the hour, and in spite of a skilfully managed kick against the goal-posts by Bonell, no further advantage was gained by either side. The following were the teams:- Brentford FC – H. Leslie Edwardes (goal); J.J. Curtis, capt, J.H. Bailey, vice-capt. (backs); A.C. Drabble, C. Almond, H.W. Dodge (half-backs); G.H. Bloomer, H. Gatterell, R.D. Beaver, C.S. Burness, T.H.M. Bonell. (forwards); umpire, Mr. Burr (late of St. Mark’s College, F.C.) Kew F.C. – F. Smith (goal); A. Day, O. Lister (backs); G. Pring, H. Pring, W. Stone (half-backs); Arthur Pring, R. Gale, H.A. Brill, H. Salter, W. Brown (forwards); umpire, Mr. Alan Pring.
Referees did not officiate on the pitch until 1891; until then they acted more as a fourth official with two umpires, one normally recruited from each team, present in each half of the pitch to make decisions. When the referee eventually officiated in the middle both umpires retired to the sidelines to become linesmen.
Thomas Henry Mahadoo Bonell: Brentford’s first goalscorer
T.H.M. Bonell wrote himself into the history books when he scored Brentford’s first ever goal against Kew on 23 November 1889. Not much was known about him until recent research revealed his background. He was born on 28 April 1862 in Birmingham to Joseph and Hannah Bonell and employed on the railway. The 1891 census revealed him living in Hanwell with his mother and sister, Eliza. Married in 1919, he died on June 20, 1932, in Poole, Dorset, at the age of 70. He left £4,883, seven shillings and seven pence to his widow Daisy Ann Bonell.