Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.

30 Jul

Brentford travel to Millwall this afternoon for Tony Craig’s thoroughly deserved testimonial. Elsewhere Championship rivals Wolves, a club we have focussed on a lot more in recent years, have finally succumbed to the almost inevitable in providing the most expected of bad punnery.

First up, Tony Craig.  His transfer to Millwall in July of last year was a particularly disappointing one. As we’ve noted previously, he was one of these players who gave his all in a Brentford shirt over three seasons in which he was one of our standout players.

Tony bounced back from a dubious red card administered by Keith Stroud during the infamous battle of Bramall Lane in the year of ‘that penalty’. He was a colossus at the heart of the defence during our promotion season in which he scooped the player’s player of the year award.

20140503-172548-0146-4x3277-1527922_478x359

Tony – as seen on the club site after helping the Bees to promotion

One particular game from that campaign, home to Oldham Athletic and just into Warbs’ managerial tenure following the departure of Uwe, was notable for one of the most incredible pieces of defending I’ve ever seen, described at the time thus:

On the only occasions Athletic really threatened, Tony Craig was there to mop things up. The highlight of which being a 5 on 1 breakaway in the first half where he stood his ground, kept standing and did sufficient to fend off the Oldham hordes. Lesser players could have been forgiven for lunging in but not Tony. It was my moment of the game – until the goal itself”.

There was no fuss and no showmanship with Tony for Brentford. That’s not to say he wasn’t skillful but he just got on with his game. No more so was the difference in attitude between him and the more outrageous players seen than in the Championship fixture with Wolves at Griffin Park back in November 2014.

That was the one where, you may recall, Bakary Sako was due to play against us in golden boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Tony was the complete opposite. The anti-Sako, if you will. For one terrace wag, whose identity I’ll protect, the sight of even neon teale or electric pink boots on a Brentford player will usually elicit a cry of, “Rubbish. I like Tony Craig. Sensible, no nonsense footwear.”

Tony played the full 90 minutes that day as Wolves and Sako were locked out, leaving TW8 on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing. It was part of that #Novemberkings phase (please ‘official’, let’s never use hashtags again) that saw Warbs win manager of the month, Tony feature prominently and the Bees get within a sniff of the table top.

boots-sako1

Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Indeed, his absence from the side in the back end of the season coincided with some defensive howlers but, more importantly, a seeming fragility across the defensive area of the team when, perhaps, his experienced head would have been the perfect tonic. Whilst he remained available for selection, Warbs kept faith. with his chosen two.

I can’t knock him for that and the end result was Brentford reaching the Play-Offs. Itself, a phenomenal achievement when viewed independently. However, I do also wonder had Tony stayed in the team, might we actually have gone one better and achieved ‘automatic’?

We’ll never know but what better way to celebrate then by getting along to Millwall this afternoon? Admission is just £10 for adults and, more importantly, Tony is using the proceeds to make a donation to Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which treats injured members of the Armed forces.

The other Bees news is the just announced (Saturday morning) signing of Callum Elder on loan from Leicester City for the season. Filling the gap at left back made by Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road earlier this month, the move was one which had been very widely anticipated.

Fair play to the rumour mill, it has been spot on this season. Either they’ve upped their game or the Brentford press team have become leakier than the Fulham defence. Regardless, this can only be good news on the playing front and nice to see a change from the normal ‘signing photo’. This time around, we’ve gone for the rarely seen line up of the shirt  / contract combo.

And talking of Wolves earlier ( a link made with all the subtly of Bakary Sako’s boots), it has been announced overnight that the Molineux club have parted company with / sacked manager Kenny Jackett.

This is an inevitable part of modern football life. Moreso in the Championship where managers seem to have the longevity of a cornetto in a greenhouse. Yet, I feel a particular affinity to Wolves.

Despite the initial mocking from a minority of their fans in regards to how big they were compared to ‘little old Brentford’ (somebody should use that one) it’s fair to see we’ve given as good as we’ve got over a wonderful last three seasons.

There was the 2013/14 League One campaign where, despite a record number of points for the Bees and that huge unbeaten run, Wolves stormed to the title with a final total of 103. In any other season our own 94 would have been more than good enough for top spot.

However, the following two campaigns have seen Brentford fare better than Wolves, positionally. 2014/15 saw our two clubs locked on 78 points, with the Bees reaching the play-offs in fifth and Wolves coming so close to edging out Ipswich on that incredible final afternoon. In the end, it was a goal difference gap too far but 7th place still not one to be sniffed at for a newly promoted club.

Last season saw a 7(seven) point gap split the teams with Dean Smith’s team ending it in 9th and Wolves 14th. The moral high ground for Brentford and some consolation for the £250 bet proceeds lost as a result of our being beaten (deservedly so) to that League One title.

So it was sadness that I woke this morning to the news of Kenny Jackett’s departure. Undoubtedly a huge club with big ambitions  – whether new or otherwise – (hello, is that the marketing team?) he has perhaps been an inevitable casualty of failure to make an immediate return to the top flight.

On the other hand, a rare opportunity for lazy headline writers and lazier pun makers. Chin up Kenny, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to go again soon.

No jacket required kenny original

No words required

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7 Responses to “Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.”

  1. Steve July 30, 2016 at 6:52 am #

    Always find your blogs a good read Nick. Goodness knows what’s going to happen to my beloved Wolves this season. No idea whether Steve Bruce is going to get the gig, but by the sounds of it he’d better be conversant in Portuguese or Spanish based on all the foreign players being linked with us.
    Good luck with you guys, done remarkably well post Warburton. Thought it would all go t*ts up for you, how wrong was I.

    • nickbruzon July 30, 2016 at 7:03 am #

      Cheers Steve. I think we’ve surprised many of our own supporters too, being honest.
      As for yourselves, who knows how that will pan out. Our own experiment with a change was a disaster last season although did, eventually, come good. Here’s hoping it works out for you – seriously. The Wolves rivalry is one we’ve really enjoyed these last few seasons – and an unexpected one. Some very good natured banter and good times all round

  2. Martin Sexton July 30, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    Nice one again Nick. I think you said it all about Tony Craig, an absolute stalwart and a huge asset to our squad during his time with us. I can’t go this afternoon but I do hope he gets the massive turn out he deserves. Up the Bees

  3. RebelBee July 30, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    Off to The Bew Den later to pay respects to TC. Glad to see the Ellder deal confirmed on SSN this morning. As for Wolves – Walter Zenga appointed new head coach, I’m no teenager but that caused an OMG moment a few minutes ago. Sad for KJ – he has a far better record than their new boy!

    • Steve July 30, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      Completely underwhelmed by appointment. Foreign owners, foreign coach, no experience of Championship. Ok, we may have shed loads of money to spend but we all know that guarantees nothing. I’d still put money on the Bees ending up above Wolves come May 2017.

    • nickbruzon July 30, 2016 at 10:24 am #

      You weren’t alone on the OMG. I can only predict a debacle or majestic triumph. This will only go to one extreme or the other

  4. Rob July 30, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    Well done TC. Thoroughly deserved. I know you’re a Lion at heart but we remember you with affection. Who can forget the last ditch sliding tackles you used to do, along with the fist pumps after. You put your body on the line for the good of the team and i for one will always remember and appreciate you for that.
    And to give your testimonial money away to such a worthy cause shows that in a footballing world of ego and selfishness, you stand out as someone with humility, dignity and compassion. Have a great day and a good season.

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