Can Sam make it three-in-a-row on Boxing Day?

26 Dec

Boxing Day and Sam Saunders. Two things that seem inextricably linked and for good reason. With Brighton visiting Griffin Park today, the last two seasons have seen this fixture, and Sam in particular, provide some contrasting memories. Games against Ipswich Town (2014) and Swindon Town (2013) have seen the popular wing wizard shine (and that’s not the tan) as each encounter saw the Bees with a chance to top the league.

Sam Saunders black kit

Sam – back in black and better than ever

And today we have a similar scenario. Whilst most of the nation are rolled out on their sofas recovering from the excesses of the 25th , 12,000 of us will be in Griffin Park to see if Brentford can beat Brighton and, should other results fall correctly, reach the play off zone. At present, of course, we’re only two points off sixth place.

That latter requirement, ‘other results’, would also require the somewhat distasteful prospect of a QPR victory – over Ipswich Town at Portman Road. I can’t imagine many in this part of West London could, in all conscience, cheer for that. At least not at this stage of the season.

So instead, let’s just focus on ourselves. Dean Smith has picked up two wins from two at Griffin Park since taking over as Head Coach. More importantly, the manner of victory – with 6 goals scored (and 10 in his 4 games in charge) is what has impressed. That said, even he was talking about cutting things out at the other end. And no moreso will this be a requirement than against a side smarting from their first defeat of the season on Saturday.

Middlesbrough, of course, secured top spot in the Championship after hitting 3 past the Seagulls without reply. And with Boro’ having a 14 point lead over Brentford, the top of the table will, for once, something we can’t aspire to – at least on Boxing Day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for some more Saunders’ magic.

The same fixture last year saw us lose 4-2 to Ipswich Town, conceding after 19 just seconds and going 3 down at HT before it finished 4-2 to the visitors. The only silver lining was the late substitute’s appearance from Sam.

He made it 3-1 within five minutes of coming off the bench and halved the deficit at the end, practically stealing the ball off the toes of the dithering Nick Proschwitz to stab it home from close range as the ref signalled injury time.

But it was Boxing Day 2013  against Swindon that saw a moment of quality from Sam that still has us smiling. The infamous ‘fall over’ routine – below

Did Sam mean it? Swindon Town 2013

To score a free kick of that quality was impressive enough but having gone flat of his face beforehand, even moreso.

Too much fake tan making the boots slippery? Old man’s legs giving up? (he remains the Methuselah of the squad – although not to look at, I am told, or see run around – what energy). Might it just have been an elaborate training ground routine, along the likes of the Gary Blissett ‘fake hissy fit’ (season 92/93) in an attempt to confuse the opposition?

As I wrote at the time, “Well, if the later, then give that man an Oscar. It was a display of football acting that’s not been seen since Luis Figo’s ‘Just for Men’ advert. And if an accident, then a massive pat on the back for composing himself at a time that the Bees were under a spot of pressure”.

I did talk to Sam at the end of the season and know the answer although don’t want to kill the magic of the mystery by revealing it. For all I know, it may well by common knowledge, anyway.

Instead, I’ve got my fingers crossed for three years in a row. Sam Saunders scoring on Boxing Day is one seasonal tradition us Brentford fans could definitely embrace.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 08.12.12

Figo – unsurpassed acting skills

Nick Bruzon

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