Josh Dasilva says Brentford are proud to be ‘just a bus stop in Hounslow’ and believes the old jibe about them just shows how far the club has come as they close in on a first taste of European football.
Fans of local rivals QPR taunted the Bees for their relative obscurity for years but with Thomas Frank’s side establishing themselves in the top flight – and claiming big-name scalps at their smart new home – the old jibe has now become part of their identity.
A book of the same name was released about their debut Premier League campaign while club merchandise also bears the slogan.
Like many things at the Gtech Community Stadium, Frank’s men have taken it and turned it to their advantage during their season-and-a-half at the top table, with the Dane even saying: ‘We’re No.1 in Premier League and we’re just a bus stop in Hounslow,’ after they won their opening game against Arsenal in August 2021.
As he reflects on a hugely positive start to their second season in the big time, midfielder Dasilva tells Metro: ‘We’re creating history but it hit home when we got promoted from the Championship in 2021.
‘Brentford hadn’t been in the top division for 74 years so to be involved with a team that was just “a bus stop in Hounslow” is a big accomplishment, from (owner) Matthew [Benham] to the people at the training ground. To be a part of that was amazing and no one can take that away from us.’
Dasilva, who joined from Arsenal in 2018, was out injured at the time but recalls how a packed Gtech celebrated that unexpected 2-0 victory over his boyhood club.
‘Crazy,’ he says of the atmosphere. ‘I was sitting behind the bench. After the game, I felt like I was at a festival – that’s what it feels like, especially when we win. The support there is crazy, everyone knows we’ve made it hard to come to the Gtech.’
Dasilva is keen to play down talk that their superb form – three wins and a draw in the league since returning from the World Cup break, including an impressive 3-1 home victory over Liverpool – could catapult them to even greater heights.
Many expected Brentford to face a relegation battle this season after last term’s 13th-place finish but currently they are riding high in eighth and closing in on a shot at European football. Excited?
‘It is what it is – you can’t really escape (the talk) but I don’t pay any mind to it,’ adds the 24-year-old, whose side visits struggling Leeds on Sunday.
‘It’s still early, you’re competing with teams that are historically massive and have all the money in the world. I think it’s way too early to be looking at the table and where we could finish because a lot could happen but we have to enjoy these times. You don’t want to look past it.’
The Bees signed off for the break by winning 2-1 at Manchester City. It was no fluke, as this month’s 3-1 success over Jurgen Klopp’s Reds demonstrated.
How far they have come from decades in the lower leagues at beloved former ground Griffin Park. Dasilva says: ‘In some ways yes and some ways no. We’ve kept the core foundations. It’s been good to progress but it feels the same as it did.
‘The facilities were different at Griffin Park and I loved it – we made it hard for teams. We had a pitch, a canteen, a changing room, showers. It worked and got us promoted. There are no egos and everyone’s playing for each other, you can see that from the results.’
Dasilva admits his goal to secure a 2-2 draw at Leicester on the opening day of the season, his first in the top flight, ‘meant a lot’ to him and his family following his struggles with a serious hip injury that threatened to end his career.
He reveals he laughed when he was told he might not play again and slowly but surely worked his way back into contention, via some setbacks, before his 86th-minute strike at the King Power Stadium cemented his comeback.
‘I was out for a long time, came back and was injured again. It was good to finally score in the Premier League and it got us a good point,’ he continues. ‘It’s been a stop-start season for me but I know there’s so much more to come.’
Dasilva’s debut season in the Premier League was also disrupted but he did get to play alongside Christian Eriksen during the Denmark schemer’s return following his on-pitch cardiac arrest at the European Championship in 2021.
He says he learned so much from having the former Tottenham man around for six months before Eriksen moved to Manchester United.
‘It was weird, just having someone of that sort of profile,’ admits Dasilva.
‘I used to just watch him train and play and try to see how he maneuvered. He makes it look so simple, his awareness of him, his technique, his experience of him.
‘He’s gone straight into United’s team and plays every week so it just shows how good he is. It was a pleasure having such a nice guy around.’
Dasilva is also delighted for his former Arsenal team-mates Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith Rowe, who have established themselves as first-team players and are now hunting down the club’s first Premier League title in 19 years.
Brentford visits the Emirates Stadium on February 11 and Dasilva, who joined the Gunners’ Hale End academy at the age of eight, said: ‘I’m buzzing for them. When I’m watching them play, it’s almost like I’m playing, I want them to do so well.
‘I have a close relationship with Eddie. Seeing them all do well is fantastic. They’ve broken through and are doing it at the highest level. I know the journey and it’s not easy. Bukayo being at the World Cup and being a big part of the team is amazing.’
Dasilva is eager to praise his old pals but it could yet be him and his Bees side joining them in Europe. Who knows, there could be some long-distance travelers looking for a certain bus stop in the Brentford area next season.
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