Fans’ cash buys whizkid Rhodes

BRENTFORD have made another signing from a non-league club by snapping up left-winger Alex ‘Tiger’ Rhodes from Newmarket Town for a four-figure fee.

This follows the success of Matt Harrold, the striker signed from Harlow Town in the summer who became the youngest Brentford hat-trick scorer in a first class match in last Saturday’s 7-1 FA Cup win over Gainsborough Trinity.

The 21-year-old Rhodes has hit 20 goals for ‘The Jockeys’ this season and Brentford have beaten Yeovil Town, QPR, Ipswich, Norwich, Crewe and Cambridge United in the race for the highly-rated whizkid by giving him an 18-month contract.

Fans from the Brentford Lifeline Society have provided the funds for the cash-strapped Second Division club to pay for Rhodes’ transfer. It is the first time Brentford have paid a transfer fee for a player in over three years, the last being Jean-Philippe Javary in August, 2000.

Meanwhile, Brentford have given a new contract to former Reading wideman Tony Rougier, keeping him at Griffin Park until at least the end of the season.

Fit-again striker Tommy Wright, whose loan from Leicester City expired yesterday (Thursday), has had it extended another week until next Friday (November 21). He is then due to play for England in an under-20 tournament in Dubai for three weeks, and it is not known whether he will stay with Leicester for the rest of the season or be allowed to join Brentford for a second loan spell.

There is also a question mark about the future of fellow striker Ben May, whose loan from Millwall runs out on Monday week (November 24). Millwall’s new manager Dennis Wise watched him play for Brentford in the mid-week defeat by QPR and may decide to recall him.

Brentford’s assistant manager Gary Thompson told me: “Ben May and Tommy Wright have done very well for us and we are hoping both of them will be allowed to stay. But if we lose one of them Matt Harrold is now ready to partner Jay Tabb upfront.

“Like Harrold, Rhodes is a great prospect and a natural scorer as he has shown by scoring four hat-tricks this season for Newmarket. When our chief scout John Griffin saw him he had the same feeling he got when he first saw Stan Collymore. So we pulled out all the stops and signed him before he could join Yeovil or one of several other clubs.” Conference champions Yeovil thought they had bagged the Tiger, but he preferred the set up at Brentford.

Thompson added: “Alex liked what he saw when we talked to him at the club and he preferred us to Yeovil and the other clubs who wanted him. He was also impressed with the fact that we give youngsters and non-league players a chance, and there are several young players here around the same age as himself with whom he has plenty in common.

Rhodes made his debut for Brentford Reserves on Wednesday afternoon when a goal by Stephen Hughes and a last minute penalty by Mark Peters gave them a 2-1 win over Wycombe, but Tiger had to limp off after 60 minutes with a bruised leg.

The talented winger is seen as one for the future. Harrold, too, must be patient and is likely to be on the sub’s bench for this Saturday’s league visit to Tony Adams’ Wycombe (3pm), with Wright, May and Tabb contesting the two striking positions.

* Chelsea have agreed to let Brentford sign defender Joel Kitimirike on a free transfer, but Bees manager Wally Downes haqs so far been unable to contact the player’s agent to sign a new deal.

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