The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos

25 May

This Saturday evening sees the denouement of a wonderful Championship season as Hull City AFC take on Sheffield Wednesday in the play off final. To the victor the spoils of Premier League glory and wealth. To the loser, a chance to visit Griffin Park once more as Brentford discover their penultimate opponent for 2016/17.

I can’t call this one. The head says a Hull City team that I’ve been tipping for promotion all season (that, a bet to rank alongside Red Rum for the National) will do it. Yet Wednesday, backed by the awesome/awful (delete as applicable) power of ‘that band’ swept aside Brighton in the semis to book their place at the W place in style. In the most high pressure, high stakes match imaginable we all know that league placing counts for nothing and it so often comes down to who can hold their nerve.

Don’t expect any more in depth analysis on these pages. As ever, the BBC or official sites are infinitely better places to go. Instead, the final is mentioned almost with a pang of regret.

Nobody needs another run down on Brentford and the play offs at the moment. We’ve a worse record than One Direction covering ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ (imagine. Actually, don’t ) yet at the same time, there’s a pang of regret that we aren’t involved.

Given the topsy-turvey season we had, with head coach Dean Smith admitting as recently as March that Brentford were involved in a relegation scrap, that may be an odd thing to say. But don’t forget that likewise at the turn of the year we were within touching distance of the play off zone after the 2-1 victory at Reading in late December. That, the game where Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos rewrote the rulebook for ‘goal of the season’ competitions.

We all know what happened after that though. Being polite, form headed South. That said, a wonderful run-in saw the Bees mid-season endeavours bolstered by a series of high scoring victories that lifted us to a final position of 9th in the table. And having ended on such a high, just shy of those normally dreaded play off spots, I’m desperate for it all to start once more.

The new signings were looking a much more cohesive unit and we proved we could win without Alan Judge (although in what desperate circumstances and how good to see him back on his feet). Academy graduate Tom Field gave a wonderfully assured debut at left back whilst the return of Scott Hogan is a story with a happier ending than Cinderella.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field featured in the first team against Fulham

Did we deserve the play offs? No. Not over the course of an entire season. Did we tantalise and torture the fans in equal measure? Absolutely .

Hey, looking back that’s no bad thing, no matter how frustrating it might have felt at times. To finish 5th and 9th in our first two Championship seasons, operating on a parachute-less budget, is a stunning achievement.

And I’m desperate to go again already. Saturday’s final will be one last taste of Championship action before the summer months start to kick in. And then we play the waiting game.

It’s not one I particularly enjoy although, at the least, do have a couple of ‘new look’ features currently under development for the coming campaign (Opposition view – The last word on….. in particular). Yet at the end of the day (Clive), it’s not the same. To quote Homer Simpson, “The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos.”


Who am I to disagree?

Plug time: And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon

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