It would be wrong to start anywhere else today beyond offering a huge congratulations to Alan Judge after making his International debut last night, for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-0 home win over Switzerland. Joining an elite group that includes the likes of John Buttigieg and Gus Hurdle; Lasse Vibe and Stuart Dallas, Alan is now added to the roll of honour that lists Brentford players to have earned an International cap whilst plying their trade at Griffin Park.
This is a massive honour for Alan and due reward for his consistency in a season where, being honest, we haven’t hit the same heights as last time out for several well documented reasons. He has been our highest goal scorer and is the leading creator of ‘assists’ .
Indeed only David Button, in my opinion, can mount a challenge for ‘player of the year’ at the end of season awards – certainly in terms of consistency and quality. Without saying which my vote is going to go, I’d suggest it may be closer than some people might think. Certainly, it deserves to be.
This does also beg the larger question of what happens next (with apologies to anybody now traumatised by the thought of Sue Barker doing her cringeworthy ‘faux banter’ routine with Matt Dawson).
Given the number of sales Brentford had seen so far this season, most of us outside of club corridors were fully expecting Alan to leave in the January transfer window. That he didn’t was a huge relief although equally (and putting to one side some of the nonsense being written on certain ‘forums’), only the most optimistic of supporters expects him to be with us for the start of the next campaign.
A clear ability to play beyond this level, combined with the attention of Premier League clubs, will I am sure only hasten his departure. Chuck into the mix this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament where he should, at the least, be selected for his countries squad and it really will be time to start saying farewell.
This isn’t to wish him any ill will at all, quite the opposite. His promotion sealing penalty against Preston North End was the stuff of legend whilst he more than held his own last time out as Brentford stunned all comers to eventually finish fifth in the Championship table and come within a whisker of reaching the Premier League. Then we have this season where he has continued to shine despite what we shall politely call a winter of discontent to follow our summertime blues.
Instead, let’s just appreciate what we have whilst Alan is still here. I’d love to be proven wrong and see him with us next season but not even I’m that naïve. Sad though it is, I’m just being realistic. We have 9 games left to enjoy his talents (at least, in red and white) and trust he can play his part in The Bees securing those last few points needed to ensure Championship safety.
The other point of note from last night was away from the International scene and, instead, back home where Clem has returned to the public eye. Supporters may recall his work last season where his weekly appearances on The Football League show seemed to go hand in hand with jinxing whichever team he was featuring in role as roving reporter. Such was his bad luck that it inspired the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature which made up part of our own Championship season review.
Whilst the Football League show may have been replaced by Football on 5 this season, Clem is still doing his thing. Albeit on BT Sport where Friday evening saw him covering Tranmere Rovers v Lincoln City.
And whilst his win buster routine seems to have fallen by the wayside (Rovers eventually taking the points in a 3-2 victory), it seems he is still getting himself into hot water. Quite literally…