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“If Someone Had Written This, I Would Never Have Believed It” . . . Swans’ Old Bee Jake Bidwell On Brentford, Wembley, And The Premier League

By David Roberts

There will be no place for sentiment or emotion as far as Jake Bidwell is concerned when he bids for one final hurrah at Griffin Park on Wednesday night.

The 27-year-old Swansea City defender may have made more than 200 appearances for The Bees in the past, but his sole focus this week will be on guiding the Swans to Wembley.

Not even the fact it will be the final game for his former club at the ground that has been their home since 1906 will cause Bidwell a flicker of remorse if he can help his new club build on their one goal advantage from Sunday night’s home victory in the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-finals.

He will celebrate his 350th league outing at his old stamping ground on Wednesday – his first was at the same venue in a 2-1 League One win over Hartlepool on 10 December, 2011 – and he can’t wait to complete the job and take a step nearer to fulfilling his Premier League dream.

It’s going to be a bit surreal playing in the last game at Griffin Park, but I’ll be there to do a job for Swansea,” says Bidwell.

“It’s strange the way football turns out sometimes, but there certainly won’t be any emotion involved – I’ll be going there to get a result for Swansea.

“I’ve got some great memories of the ground, like the day we beat Preston on Easter weekend to get promoted from League One.

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“That was an amazing weekend and also the day we beat Wigan in the last game of the season to get into the Championship play-offs in 2015.

“That wasn’t quite as dramatic as our win at Reading last week, but it was still a great memory. Hopefully, I will have one more great memory to take away on Wednesday night.

“Griffin Park is unique with the four pubs on each corner. Brentford have kicked on massively in the last five or six years and I think the next stage for them is going to be moving into their new ground.”

Brentford missed out to West Brom on automatic promotion on the last day of the regular season after crashing at home to relegation threatened Barnsley.

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That came on the back of a 1-0 defeat at Stoke and their reverse at the Liberty Stadium made it threat defeats in a row at the business end of the season.

Prior to that they had been on a run of eight straight wins and had only lost three times in the league at home. They beat the Swans 3-1 on their own patch on Boxing Day.

 “I’m sure they will continue to progress, but you make your own destiny over a 46 game season,” adds Bidwell.

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“I don’t think you can feel too disgruntled at where you finish after that many games. How many more do you want?

“The Championship is a crazy league and I don’t think anyone could ever have predicted the way the table finished.

“The reason I signed for Swansea last summer was because I believed what the manager was telling me and, thankfully, right now it seems to have been a good call.

 “If someone had written a book about our game against Reading, me going back to Griffin Park as an ex-Brentford player, and the possibility of a Wembley final against Cardiff City, nobody would have believed it.

 “But you really have to take the emotion out of it and just concentrate on what you can control.

“We go through every fine detail of what we need to do to win games and, hopefully, it will be one of those years when we can look back and say we were proud to be a part of it.”

Having bagged the sixth and final play-off place with a dramatic five goal swing on the last day of the regular season, Swansea stunned Brentford with a 1-0 victory on Sunday night.

The visitors’ also lost Rico Henry to a red card for a reckless challenge on Connor Roberts.

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 Even so, Bidwell, who was in the Everton Academy before heading to Griffin Park, is taking nothing for granted as he aims to erase the bitter memories of having lost at the same stage in 2015 and in the League One play-off final in 2013.

 “It’s still in the balance and we won’t be going there to sit back and hold out for 0-0. That’s not in our style and we won’t settle for that.

 “I went to Brentford at 18 after leaving Everton and the idea was always to work my way back up the ladder. It’s every player’s dream is to get back to the Premier League.

 “These opportunities don’t come around very often, so I’ll be hoping to make the most of Wednesday night to take a step closer to that dream.”

 

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