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Barnsley deliver a hammer blow as relegation trapdoor still beckons for the other B’s…

29 Apr

Sunday morning and it all feels a bit ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show.’ Not in the same crushing style as the punch to the gut that is an actual play-off defeat or a penalty hitting a crossbar (apparently it happened once, five years ago, but nobody ever mentions that). Yet at the same time, Brentford offered a tantalising glimpse of what might have been before going down 2-0 to a Barnsley team who benefited from what head coach Dean Smith would describe as ‘A spawny goal’ to open proceedings. With Aston Villa and Derby County drawing one apiece, had we been able to turn this one into a victory then The Bees would still been alongside them in the promotion race heading into the final round of Championship matches. Alas, it was not to be and instead we’ll have to content ourselves with aiming for what would still be a staggering 7(seven)th placed finish and the choke off to see who drops into League One – Birmingham City, Burton, Barnsley or Bolton.

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Spawny? Or did he really mean to sneak inside the back stick from there ?

That’s not to be downbeat. Genuinely. That the team had even hauled themselves into this position following a ‘mixed’ start to the campaign is something that should be celebrated. Four points from eight games saw us not so much flirting with relegation as taking her out on a first date although fortunately she would go on to spurn our advances. The triple transfer departure, and moreso the last day style in which it happened, was hardly great for morale either. I’m the first to hold my hands up on that one. Yet soon after, magic started to happen.

The win at Bolton in late September was followed by a run that saw us fail to pick up points in only one more game over the rest of the calendar year. That being the defeat at Cardiff City which led to Ian Moose demonstrating how to make friends and influence people at Griffin Park. Despite the odd hiccup / low par performance along the way, Dean Smith and his team have kept themselves going to make this one of the most exciting seasons on record. Three points yesterday would have kept it alive for another 90 minutes (at least). Yet to come even this close is something we should be applauding. I’m sure over time we all will.

The trick now is, as with every season, how we build on this. Can we keep the squad together? Will new contracts be signed or will the likes of Ollie Watkins, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge, Chris Mepham and Daniel Bentley be on the shopping lists of those fat cats in the Premier League? Or even the Championship. Without a doubt money talks but sometimes, sitting tight can be better for your career. Just look at the Birmingham City three. Ten times better – at going down. The talk about Woodsy joining Sunderland seems almost laughable now when you see how they have fared, too.

Who’d be a club owner? Moreso with a new stadium now well under construction. No doubt there’ll be decision made which surprise us. Decisions made which shock us. That’s all to come though. For now, we’ve still one more game with the visit of Hull City next Sunday. Still one more round of Championship fixtures to see if Harlee Dean’s decision making off the pitch is proven to be as suspect as some of those choices he made on it this time around. After that much trumpeted move, there is a very real chance of the Blues actually going down. Albeit my head says they are safe, despite what the heart thinks.

Their relegation rivals have equally tough games. On paper. Burton are at Preston. Barnsley go to Derby (although we do know how County love a final day choke) whilst Bolton entertain Nottingham Forest. At least The Trotters have home advantage but they are also reliant on having to increase their goal difference.

As we saw yesterday (and the highlights are now available on Sky’s internet site), the biggest of requirements can lead to the most spirited of performances. Hats off to Barnsley. We wanted it. We needed it. But so did they. And perhaps ten times as much. Brentford were fighting for an unexpected bonus. Let’s not forget that we haven’t actually been in the play-off zone at any point this campaign. Brentford were fighting amongst themselves, going by Dan Bentley’s reaction after the second goal went in – understandable having watched this on the highlights. But The Tykes were fighting for their lives. This really was a case of do or die. Whilst it may not have been the prettiest, the hosts did what they had to. And that takes guts.

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Dan and Henrik discuss the second goal

With Burton making it three wins in a row, next Sunday may not be as cut and dried as people think. Of course I’ll be at Brentford v Hull City. Of course I’ll be desperate for three more points to lock in a fourth, successive top ten finish at this level. But I’d be a liar if I was to pretend that there won’t also be an ear on my terrace trannie. Keeping abreast of other results and just what they’ll mean at about twenty past two next Sunday

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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Will Brentford keep going? Can Aston Villa do us a favour? Saturday is HUGE!

27 Apr

Two games to go and this is still wide open. With the fixtures falling as kindly as one could have hoped for, Brentford travel to relegation threatened Barnsley on Saturday knowing that with two games to go we are three points off Derby County in sixth place. The same Derby County who head up to an Aston Villa side still looking at a slim chance of ‘automatic’ promotion to the Premier league. It is a chance that, much like our own play-off dream, will require three points on Saturday to keep it alive. Cardiff City may have dealt a blow to our own promotion ambitions on Tuesday night as they went down 3-1 to the Rams yet, at the same time, have given us a back door bonus by really handing Villa that incentive to try and catch them.

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I’ve always loved Aston Villa (eh, Simon ?)

Elsewhere, fifth placed Middlesbrough (four points ahead of Brentford) take on 7th placed Millwall (one ahead). That’s an evening game and by the time it comes around, our own game will of course have played out. Will it prove of supreme relevance or be a statistical anomaly by that juncture?

Realistically, three points for Brentford up at Oakwell are an absolute must. Any other result will leave us relying on a combination of mathematics and good fortune even more convoluted than the table already looks.  Barnsley have to go for it, too. Any permutation beyond home win will leave them all but down and needing both Bolton and Birmingham City to self-destruct. In itself, not an improbable combination based on the season’s results to date.

As ever, though, outside distractions really are that. Distractions. By virtue of the teams playing each other, something will go our way at some point. The worst combination of results being victories for Millwall and Derby. The best, home wins for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. Both, more than feasible. Then again, I fancied Cardiff City to do it on Tuesday. One up at half time and in control, you have to tip your hat to a Derby County team that, aided by some suicidal defending, produced a devastating second half performance to break their three game losing streak.

Trying to call anything this weekend is a fool’s errand. As much as anything else, pressure and necessity will cause some teams to collapse like a house of cards. Others will rise to the occasion. The prospect of glory an adrenaline boost to the arm that sees them (and all being well us) surge towards those all critical three points.

Brentford were magnificent against Fulham. To the very end of the game where Neal Maupay produced one of THE moments. Likewise, for huge patches of the game against QPR where, but for Mr. Madley, the victory would have been a much more comfortable one. Then again, perhaps he has also done us an unintentional favour. What a way for a team to have to test themselves in the toughest of circumstances. 11 v 14 is never easy. Moreso, when the 14 were flying in with horror challenges, studs up, yet facing no real danger of card based justice.  

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Mark Fuller’s picture captured THE moment at Fulham

We know we have the ability to win this one. To beat anybody on our day. Only 3pm on Saturday will dictate how well we can meet that challenge. How much resistance Barnsley can provide or whether they are dead men walking. Either way,  I can’t wait for this one !!

Elsewhere, did you read Mark Devlin’s programme column in the QPR edition of BEES? Talk about putting his views on the line in a wonderful article about Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and, more importantly, her decision in regards to the Safe Standing application made by West Bromwich Albion.

With ‘Safe Standing’ a clearly stated and supported desire of The Bees, he was pulling no punches with comments that included:  “I fear that politicians will once more put their prejudice and fears ahead of what is needed and wanted by the football community” and “I was even more shocked that she appeared to claim there was insufficient demand or interest from clubs, fans and leagues”  

Well said Mark. How refreshing to see any Chief Executive standing up to be counted in such clear and uncertain terms. That’s Brentford, though. Trailblazers again.

The good news being that a public petition has now topped the 100,000 votes required for parliament to consider it for debate. Albeit, this still remains open and there is time to add your voice to the list on a matter that will potentially have a direct impact on Brentford, given the current construction of Lionel Road. The link to that one is here. Thirty seconds that could impact your club if you can make the time to sign.

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Lionel Road . I’ve not seen a hole this big since the Birmingham City defence turned up

Next up, football stickers. I’ve banged on a bit in the last few weeks about the World Cup 2018 album. Primarily, my son Harry’s rapidly developing interest in this most traditional of football related activities. For reasons unnkown the mere mention of the name’ Lucas Biglia’ (Argentina) has him in stitches whilst Spain and Iceland are his favourites. Not because of the countries but the kits – no idea where he gets that from.

So imagine my surprise just coming in from work on Wednesday to hear he had been presented with what Mrs Bruzon described as ‘a two inch wad of swaps’ (although, personally, I’d say it looked more like seven) by a mystery benefactor from the Bramear Road stand. 

I say ‘mystery’. I wasn’t with them at the time and so all we know is that she sits near us at Griffin Park and the one-sided exchange took place by St. Paul’s Park. If this was you – THANK YOU. I have a suspicion who it may be and will be donning the Columbo mac at the Hull City game.

Yet this is mentioned as much to say, yet again, how truly wonderful the Brentford FC family are. For a fellow fan to go out of their way to do this for a young supporter they’ve never spoken to before really made me feel proud. Thank you. Again.   

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The amazing pile of swaps

Finally, congratulations to my good friends (No, I’m not going all Ian Moose) at Beesotted. Their Pride of West London podcast has now made the final shortlist for the Football Blogging Awards. What an honour it would be for them to win this.

As noted before, we all know what a great job they do and just how entertaining Billy (Grant) and the team are. Likewise, how many painful train journies have been made ten times better by listening to them opine on all things Brentford. And beyond.

Please. Help give them the recognition they deserve in the Best Football Podcast category and vote Beesotted at the FBAS

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Nick Bruzon

Tonight is huge (again)….but not necessarily at Anfield.

24 Apr

Something, something, something, royal baby. Blah, blah, blah, Liverpool getting a semi. Those glory, glory European Anfield nights. Some perspective people, please. There are much more important matters afoot. Hey, Brentford aren’t even playing tonight and will have to be content with gorging on the memory of Saturday’s derby day victory over QPR combined with looking forward to the weekend trip to Barnsley. Yet if ever there was a case of ‘other results’ being of critical importance to The Bees then Tuesday night is that time as Derby County host Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest are home to Barnsley.

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Sergi and Romaine amongst the architects of QPR’s doom on Saturday

We all know the current position in the Championship table. Middlesbrough in fifth, are on 72 points. That’s four ahead of Brentford and the aforementioned Rams on 68. Yet sixth placed Millwall have 69. I’m no Stephen Fry but even yours truly has sufficient mental acumen to know that’s a gap of one point. One. Point. With two games left to reel it in.

Yet, as ever, there is a potential fly in the ointment. Derby County do have that game in hand. And they play it tonight. Against Cardiff City. Victory will stretch the gap to an, albeit still catchable, three points. Cardiff, on the flip side, know that a win will give them a monumental advantage in the race with Fulham for an automatic promotion slot. Success will see them four points clear in second place with just two games to go.

This is huge. You couldn’t make up a game of this consequence. West London will be split down the middle tonight with Brentford no doubt hoping for a Cardiff win whilst Fulham fans will be mildly waving their clappers in support of Derby. Even QPR supporters will be praying for…. actually, they won’t as they’re long dead in the water.

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Cardiff win tonight and I’ll even forgive them the hashtags

But if this one has impact on Brentford, then our attention is going to be split on two fronts. There’s also the game at Nottingham Forest where defeat for Barnsley will massively increase their chances of relegation. A win will see them leapfrog fourth bottom Bolton Wanderers and have the added benefit of dragging Birmingham City back into things. The Blues own safety net of five points will be a lot squeakier if that becomes three, once the remaining games level out.

Honestly, I’m not sure which result will be best for us here. No doubt Dean Smith would tell Brentford fans just to worry about ourselves. Yet with The Bees going to Oakwell on Saturday, do we want them with destiny back in their own hands and safer, or with that potentially demoralising punch to the gut having been administered by Nottingham Forest? In themselves, a team who have won just a single game out of the last nine, losing the other eight and managing just three goals in the process.

Is it better for us to go into Saturday’s game with Barnsley’s safety all but a mathematical miracle, potentially even hoping that Birmingham City could administer a mid-afternoon psychological blow to our opponents? Or is being the architects of their own survival a better option? Something that would then also see us in the utterly distasteful position of hoping for QPR success on Saturday, with the Blues heading to Loftus Road.

Sadly, having seen the ineptitude of the hapless hoops on Saturday I now have to declare Birmingham City safe. That hurts. But all good things come to an end. Bolton travel to fellow relegation candidates Burton on Saturday and then host goal shy Forest as the season reaches an intriguing denouement. I’m not even going to get close to calling those.

Instead, it really is a case of whatever happens tonight at the City Ground happens. Any result is both good and bad for us. It WILL have an impact but only Saturday at 3pm will tell what that is. Instead, the game of absolute importance will be the one at Pride Park.

I remember back in 1995/96, listening to BBC Radio 5 ( I think, sure the sport had moved on from Radio 2 by then) and Birmingham City v Bradford. It was the season that only one side went up and the Blues only needed two points to guarantee the league title from second placed Brentford. Their 0-0 with Bradford City was one of the most painful bits of self-inflicted torture I’ve ever sat through.  It was rewarded, briefly, the following weekend as The Bees were doing the needful at Bristol Rovers whilst Huddersfield Town took the lead against City. Sadly, results didn’t hold and we ended up in the play-offs. What I wouldn’t pay for that conclusion this time around…

So choose what you do tonight carefully. That Liverpool – Roma Champions League tie is, undoubtedly, a huge occasion. The Reds have a magnificent record in Europe that we can’t get close to. Yet. And if nothing else, the chance to play ‘Liverpool in Europe’ bingo is always a wonderful one.

But for me (Clive) it’ll a case of eschewing Anfield and BT Sport where, whatever happens, it will only be half time. At full time.  Instead, I’ll be glued to Sky Sports and the game from Derby. The prize at the end of that one could be of infinitely more importance in this little corner of West London…

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Liverpool bingo – celebrating both history and cliche

Nick Bruzon

From bore draws to Star Wars. Buckets of rain, if not buckets of goals.

17 Dec

Brentford 0 Barnsley 0. On paper, not the best result. In practice, equally unsatisfying. Another game where The Bees huffed, puffed but failed to find either a Plan B or a way through a team set up to do a job on us. It started brightly and it ended with the home crowd roaring our boys on in a protracted five additional minutes. It was the 88 minutes in between that felt dreadfully flat.

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View from the Braemar. High Flyers? Not yesterday

Brentford ‘official’ would later describe the visitors as both “Well drilled“ and “resolute“. The BBC use their match report to call this one “Hard Fought”. That’s diplomatic of them. Personally, I’d have used unimaginative or frustrating. The proverbial bad day at the office with little spark from the midfield, few chances created and Neal Maupay just not getting the run of the ball up front on his own.

Dean Smith commented at full time that, “We had a very good first half, made chances and created opportunities but didn’t take them because of poor decision making.”

Funnily enough, last season’s game at home to the same opposition ended with him noting that, ”Our decision-making was poor on the ball”. That one, the occasion of our 4000th league game, saw the Bees go down 0-2 whilst we were also robbed in the half time mascot race. So at least it was an improvement, even if poor decision making remained a consistent theme.

If you were there on Saturday then you’ll know that we were off our ‘A’ game. The recent demolition of Fulham nothing more than a wonderful memory. That Barnsley did their homework and that we lacked the wherewithal to bypass their bus.

That’s the downside. What one also needs to consider is that it was a game played out in atrocious conditions with biblical torrents of sheet rain falling in the second half. Likewise, this is still another point in the bag. A point acquired over what is sure to be a busy period of games.

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If not buckets of goals, certainly buckets of rain

Norwich City are next up on Friday night and then it’s Aston Villa on Boxing Day. With Josh Clarke going off injured and straight down the tunnel, here’s hoping that was only a precaution. On the flip side, another appearance for Lewis Macleod can only be celebrated. Moreso given the treacherous and slippery conditions underfoot when he entered the field of play.

Ultimately, we didn’t lose. Besides, the bigger picture scenario in the Championship is intriguing. The post-match escape to the warming bosom of the pub was greeted with the sight of Birmingham City now sitting bottom of the pile. Forget ten times better, we’re now twelve points better off than our big spending divisional rivals. Even if the architects of their latest demise are a team we should probably gloss over.

To be honest, I’m just all a bit ‘meh’ about football today. With the long awaited trip to see the new Star Wars movie finally being enjoyed this morning, that really has been the big draw for yours truly. Unlike yesterday which was somewhat of a bland draw.

Still, as somebody bigger and cleverer than me said, “We go again”. Besides, to moan about not losing, in the Championship, seems somewhat trite. It wasn’t a good game. It wasn’t one that we’ll be rushing out to buy the video of. But with the Bees sitting 13th in the table and soon to start an FA Cup campaign with a third round tie at home to league 2 Notts County, the season still has plenty of potential.

And that’s before we even mention a certain Emiliano Marcondes…..

 

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Bonham helps Bees take point at Barnsley.

17 Apr

Barnsley 1 Brentford 1 . A game where we might have taken all three points yet equally, were it not for Jack Bonham making his Championship debut for the Bees, we may well have been returning to London empty handed. It’s a point which guarantees we finish above QPR and whilst Fulham may now be too far ahead to catch up with in the West London mini league, the opportunity to put a dent in their playoff campaign remains a very distinct possibility.

As ever, go to the BBC, Beesotted, Brentford official etc for your full fat match reports. High level talking points for this one were a very accomplished performance from Jack Bonham between the sticks, an injury for Lasse Vibe that saw him replaced very early by Sergi Canos, a missed penalty early in the second half from Jota (with the scores locked at one each) and a sweet finish from Flo Jo to level things up just before the interval.

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Captain Fantastic marshalls the troops during that injury break

It was a goal that was somewhat against the run of play in terms of chances created. As was the opener from Barnsley. Certainly, these were rare highlights in a relatively low key first period that was full of effort but no real breakthrough. It was one that gave no indication of what was to come after the players had gone in for their cuppa and the mascots had come out for their own personal battle.

This, a 45 yard dash that saw Toby Tyke beat Buzz Bee by a short head. Ironic, given the anthropomorphic dog’s oversized cranium. But size is no indication of quality and sadly, despite the dispute over who came first at Griffin Park back in October, this time there was no doubting the winner.

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Toby got the better of Buzz, this time

But whereas Buzz had gone down, both teams emerged reinvigorated with clear intent to end this one victorious. An early penalty awarded after handball saw Jota step up to send the ball goalwards. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Barnsley shot stopper Adam Davies doing sufficient to keep the ball out and break Brentford hearts. But from there it went crazy. Canos headed against the bar from point blank range. George Moncur almost broke the one in front of the Barnsley fans. With the home side seemingly under orders to shoot on sight, Bonham was equal to everything that came near him. One effort seeing the Brentford defence stretched thinner than a pair of cheap curtains before a certain goal was denied by the onrushing ‘keeper.

In the end, a draw was a fair result. It was sufficient to keep us above QPR (permanently) and still with that hope of running Fulham out on Saturday week. As for Barnsley, nothing but fairplay to them for what really was a cracking game of football. Both teams went for it from the off and really stepped up their game in the second period. This was no stroll in the bank holiday sunshine.

Additional kudos for our host’s work in the official match day programme. Whilst we have, quite rightly, praised Mark Chapman for his own work at Griffin Park this season one does wonder if he’d ever go to this level? Specifically, a refusal to recognise former player Sam Winnall who scored for Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday against the Tykes side he’d left in January.

Certainly, it puts a spin on A.Trialist…..

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Nick Bruzon

What is our current hot ticket? Who will win the big one?

13 Apr

Exciting times lie ahead for Brentford. The Easter weekend double header against Derby County and Barnsley is almost upon us. The second fixture having a potential extra layer of spice, should the club decide to accept the gauntlet laid down by Toby Tyke after Buzz Bee was robbed of mascot race victory back in October’s reverse fixture at Griffin Park. Then there’s the small matter of West London derbies at home to QPR and across at Fulham. Those games always have an additional feel of frisson outside of the regular league table although the aim of finishing as West London’s top Championship side for the third successive season is an even bigger incentive for Brentford to pull out all the stops.

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He celebrates too soon? Did Toby really win last time?

Things come to a conclusion when we host Blackburn Rovers in early May. Following that game is, of course, the Player Of the Year Awards. Unlike at Loftus Road, where QPR have had to cancel their own event within a week of it being announced due to a lack of interest (no,please, stop. I’m still cringing) Bees fans have had no problem in snapping up the tickets for ours.

Highlight of that event is, as ever, the vote for Player of the year. Currently held by Alan Judge, his season long absence through injury means a new incumbent awaits. Have the likes of returning demi-gods Jota and Sergi Canos done enough to steal the vote at the eleventh hour? Will it be an unsung hero such as Ryan Woods ? International debutant John Egan? Or a.n.other?

Well, for me (Clive) if we are looking for season long consistency it comes down to a bunfight between Harlee Dean and Daniel Bentley. The former, our captain, has been a colossus at the back whilst adding an exciting attacking element to his game these days. Certainly one of the first names on the team sheet, its hard to remember he’s only 25 – so long has he been with us, so commanding has he appeared this season . Gone are the mistakes of old (who doesn’t make them as they learn how to ply their trade?).  Replacing them are supreme confidence and an equal level of ability.

As for Daniel Bentley, FourFourTwo magazine named him as Brentford’s outstanding performer in their run down of the 50 top football league players published in the current edition. The magazine even going so far as to note that England manager Gareth Southgate is keeping an eye on him. He has made the leap from League One new boys to a top half of the Championship side look effortless. Indeed, it was his own performances which saved us numerous points in the early part of the season as he took to the Griffin Park gives like the proverbial duck to water. No surprise that QPR made three bids for him following Southend United’s play off victory in 2015; no surprise their chairman turned them down.

Good luck picking a winner out of those. Good luck to your host for the evening, Natalie Sawyer, in measuring up to Buzzette in the style stakes.

Buzzette makes her entrance to the 2016 POTY awards

But if you can’t be there for that one then how about an alternative? Sunday 30th April sees Billy Grant and the Beesotted team hosting the final of this year’s ’socials’. Taking place at the Drayton Court hotel in Ealing from 6pm until 2am (I feel exhausted just thinking about staying out that late) guests of honour will be Brentford legends Francis Joseph, Gary Roberts, Billy Manuel & Graham Benstead.

There’s a dozen other ex-bees in the house along with a comedian, DJ and magician helping provide the entertainment along with the players doing their ‘in conversation’ segment . Add to that a hot buffet, a level of  complimentary beer and your fellow Bees’ fans then it is sure to be a cracking night out.

Full details of the event, including tickets, are available on the Beesotted website.

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And talking of tickets (waiter, I’ll have the industrial crowbar please) don’t forget there’s only 11 and a bit days left until the ‘seat hold’ deadline expires for those wanting to retain their current place at Griffin Park. With dispensation given to retain the terraces for another season, there’s room for everybody to stay where they were should you wish to purchase a club season ticket. In addition, earlybird prices staying on hold until 31 May means you can get a season’s worth of Championship football for was little as £369. As for the kids. £90, including a home shirt, represents even better value.

Full details are on official, where there is also a link direct to the season ticket page.

I’ve seen some talk saying that the seat hold deadline still feels too soon, given the season is still running. Perhaps. But it’s a tricky line to walk given that the campaign will be over just two weeks after that. I can see the position out marketing team are in. Revenue is what helps keep us afloat, let’s not pretend otherwise, and this way looks to maximise take up whilst football remains fresh in everybody’s mind.

Besides, if you need a yardstick then look at Fulham. No, please. Their seat hold deadline has already expired, two weeks ahead of ours. As have their ‘early bird’ prices. Both of those slipping away on 10th April. I sympathise from one respect. It’ll be a tough job filling that neutral stand.

In my eyes, I think we’ve got the balance right. You won’t please everybody but, at the same time, barring disasters we’ll all be coming back again next season. One way or another.

Come for the football; stay for the social. Griffin Park is a way of life. It is as much about seeing your friends and familiar faces as it is in cheering on the lads. If this is our final season with the ground in the current form (would we get a fifth season of terrace? Will Lionel Road be ready this quickly?) , then I’ve certainly got every intention of being there.

Even if it isn’t, I’ll be back. There’s been too much blood, sweat and tears (mainly tears) invested into this club since 1979 to walk away from our firmest ever footing and most exciting time in most supporters’ living memory.

Win or lose. It is a part of us. I love it. We love it. Bring on 2017/18. Although, first, there’s the small matter of Derby, Fulham, QPR and possibly Toby to get past. Roll on Friday.

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Well said

Nick Bruzon

A double bonus for the Bees as the chance for furry justice arrives.

9 Mar

What a day that was . Whilst Brentford fans should probably be talking about the forthcoming game with Huddersfield Town, there were two huge off field developments on Wednesday that deserve our attention. Season ticket prices were announced whilst Barnsley, our opponents on April 17th, have layed down a furry gauntlet.

First up, season tickets. With the club already having announced this week that we have been given dispensation to retain our terracing at Griffin Park for 2017/18, Brentford have now confirmed ST prices for next season. The great news is that these have been frozen. There is no price increase whilst juniors also get a free home shirt included as part of the package.

This really is exceptional value and continues our trend over the last few seasons of looking to keep Championship football at more than competitive prices. With supporters fed up of what they are being asked to pay for trips to the likes of Ipswich Town or Leeds United, back home things are at a much more ‘down to earth’ level.

Great work Mr. Benham, Mark Devlin and the rest of our upper management team. Here’s hoping they are rewarded with more full houses next season. Renewal is a no-brainer for my family ; fingers crossed we get more of the exciting football we’ve seen in recent weeks.

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Griffin Park. Terracing and great value tickets next season

But if that was reassuring stuff, things then went stratospheric with a double whammy from Barnsley ahead of our game at Oakwell on April 17th. Prices there have been confirmed as £10 for all adults – home or away – a move which one hopes will boost a bumper bank holiday crowd (with thanks to the Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s alliteration for that one).

But that’s nothing compared to the gauntlet laid down in the afternoon. Cast your mind back to 25 October, our 4000th league game which fate decreed was our visit from the Tykes. That it ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Barnsley was almost secondary to what happened at half time. A mascot race where furry injustice was played out in front of the Griffin Park crowd.

Whilst Barnsley were declared winners – Toby Tyke apparently nudging home ahead of Buzz, the pair of them having romped past Buzzette, subsequent evidence c/o Mark Fuller suggested otherwise. His picture clearly showing the club mascot crossing the line first.

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Who crossed the line first? Toby, apparently.

Barnsley have now offered a rematch, going so far as to admit that, “Further picture proof from the Brentford camp has potentially cast doubt into minds.”

Toby, meanwhile, has been giving it large. Ironic, given the size of his head. That alone must make steering the anthropomorphic dog a nightmare and, surely, the opportunity is ripe for justice to be finally served.

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Don’t forget about Buzzette

Mark Devlin, Mr Benham, Brentford official. If any of you are reading (you never know), for the love of all that is good in football –  please can we accept this challenge?

You’ve already given us season tickets. Forget Haye-Bellew. Supporters are crying out for Bee versus Dog 2 : The Rumble in West Riding .

Will it happen? Here’s hoping.

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Things were all very cordial prior to the race

Nick Bruzon

The Zenga boss is going – another crazy day in the Championship

26 Oct

Brentford fans can be glad that the most exciting thing to happen to us yesterday was the residual fallout from Saturday’s mascot race with Barnsley. This a situation now confirmed by club insiders as a win for Buzz, and a possible rematch, despite the claims of the Tykes. Yet elsewhere it was sacking season. Wigan dispensing with Gary Caldwell and Wolves relieving Walter Zenga of his duties after just 87 days in charge.

87 days. Wow. That really is crazy. To a limited extent, one can understand the situation at Wigan Athletic. They’ve been spoiled in recent years with a long run in the Premier League and even an FA Cup victory. Certainly, something away from their traditional tier three days where the most they could crow about was a Freight Rover Trophy victory. I forget who they beat.

Now, with only basement club Rotherham beneath them, they already find themselves staring an immediate relegation back to League One in the face. Despite the alleged inferno in Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, Athletic have only won twice all season. Rather than give Caldwell the time to adjust to Championship life Chairman David Sharpe has decided that after eighteen months in charge,  Wigan, “need to act now in the best long-term interests of the club.” With this decision, a fledgling career has been shot down in flames.

As for Wolves, that really is a shock. Nobody could deny the appointment of the, surprisingly, experienced Zenga was an unusual one. So for the club to set sail on this course but then abandon ship after less than three months is even more of a surprise. To an extent it reminds me of the Marinus scenario. An unexpected European manager coming in for his first role in England but barely surviving a couple of months. Yet can you compare the two?

Sure, immediate results hadn’t been great – four defeats out of the last five – but Wolves are, as it stands, only 7(seven) points away from the play offs. Marinus was a disaster. Zenga appears nowhere near that. Indeed with over 100 points still to play for then, from a Brentford perspective, perhaps Mark Warburton rather than Dijkhuizen would be a more accurate an comparison.

It was only around this time that Mark Warburton really hit the ground running during his first Championship campaign (although, of course, he also had a League One promotion under the belt). From a similar start that season we swept all around us aside as the Bees found form. The awful, awful #Novemberkings became our title as the Bees stormed up the table and came to within a Boxing Day win (thank, Ipswich) of topping the pile.

Marinus unicorn

Marinus – didn’t last long

I just don’t get it. I’m not close enough to the action at Wolves to say how bad things really were. If, indeed, they were ‘bad’. Yet it was only last month the club recorded back to back wins over Newcastle United and then our own Brentford. Surely the situation can’t have soured that much? Indeed, outside of the top six, the most anybody has won is six games – that’s just two more than Wolves have achieved.

Wolves are, historically, a huge club. They have a fantastic stadium and wonderful support. But being ‘any good’ has to be worked at and isn’t a given just because you’ve won things in the past (Are you reading, Mr Mourinho? No – obviously – but the parallel is clear).

I can’t overly speculate on the situation at Moulineux. It certainly puts our own place into perspective where things seem massively stable. For all supporters can moan at times – and we are in our own mini blip at present with two points and one goal from four games – things are nowhere near that situation.

Who’d be a manager? And who is gong to take over at either club? Nobody comes out of this situation smiling except, perhaps, Steve Evans. The former Rotherham and Leeds United loud mouth is currently putting his feet up. Could we seen him back in action soon?

Here’s hoping….

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Could it be time for Steve Evans?

Nick Bruzon

Forget Watford. The real scandal is at Brentford.

25 Oct

It hasn’t been a good few weeks for Brentford, resultswise. The weekend’s defeat at home to Barnsley followed last Saturday’s loss at Newcastle United . Either side of that have been the 0-0 draws with Wigan Athletic and Derby County. Indeed, it is a period that has seen just one goal scored and two points earned – hardly the best form going into Friday night’s televised game at QPR.

That’s football. We’ll go again. Yet some things are bigger than even that. Whilst most people waking up this morning will be greeted with news of the alleged scandal at Watford and their ‘letter’ from ‘HSBC’ (oh dear…), it is one at Griffin Park that has gone largely unreported…

The Barnsley game also featured that perennial fan favourite – a half time mascot race. The 3.50 from Griffin Park saw the visitor’s Toby Tyke taking on Buzz and Buzzette in a 45 yard dash on the flat. Toby Tyke was declared winner, with Buzz a close second and Buzzette trailing in far behind.

Barnsley have since taken to Twitter to, understandably, big up Toby’s victory. Whilst Buzzette’s specialist skills would seem to be pre-game air guitar and novelty dancing (certainly, judging by the weekend), these days Buzz is a lean, mean running machine. For any rival to get one over him is a major achievement. Moreso an anthropomorphic dog with an oversized head for whom the wobble factor alone must be a nightmare to control.

This wasn’t a view shared by those standing behind the Ealing Road goal. I’ve seen several comments stating that, infact, Buzz should have been declared the winner. And in an attempt to not at all clutch at straws, what would seem to be proof has now been obtained.

Club photographer Mark Fuller has published the action shots from this weekend’s game on the official Brentford Pictures website. And there, under the ‘non-match’ section, is the evidence.

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Proof, surely, as Toby celebrates too soon?

Surely this shows Buzz crossing the line first? Enough evidence for a steward’s enquiry and a retraction of the victory claim from the Tykes ? Could (or should) the result be declared void? So far, Brentford are yet to make any comment on the race but might this dossier of evidence  – there are further incriminating pictures – change things?

Barnsley have, at the very least, already suggested a re-match at Oakwell later in the season. I hope the club takes them up on this and Buzzette is put on a Rocky IV style training montage.

Mark Devlin, Mr Benham, Brentford official. If any of you are reading (you never know), for the love of all that is good in football –  please can we accept this challenge.

Bee versus Dog 2 : The Rumble in West Riding .

Nick Bruzon

Party poop.Barnsley beat Brentford in game 4,000

23 Oct

Move along. Nothing to see here. A day that promised so much ended with Brentford having the candles blown off their own celebration cake by a Barnsley team who took their chances in a gritty game. As the Bees celebrated their 4,000th league game with the commemorative flags handed out to supporters, it was the away side who ended the day celebrating a first league win in 7(seven) games.

It’s just like watching Brazil” sang the visitors.

It’s just like watching League One”, sang the home support

I just can’t get no relief” sang the half time guest of honour, Annelies. That, of course, during her Queen number rather than being any form of match analysis.

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Annelies serenades Buzzette. Or is that vice-versa?

Indeed, half time was about as good as it got.

Peter Gilham was on hand to introduce Ben Summers, whose winning competition entry had been selected to be the cover for the programme. However, if Ben was expecting the keys to Griffin Park he was to be sadly disappointed.

We’d like to say you’ve won a thousand pounds but you haven’t. Just a signed copy of the programme” announced Peter in his usual, avuncular style.

That said, Ben did have the honour of posing for a photograph with the protagonists in that other fan favourite – the half time mascot race. This, an event not seen since Scummy Bunny and Sonic the hedgehog were amongst those to grace the Griffin Park playing surface back in our League One (or was it two?) days.

This time around it was a three way shoot out between Buzz, Buzzette and the Barnsley mascot. I’m not sure if this was Toby the Tyke or, as one New Road observer noted,  Macroencephablitisbrain the bear.

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Peter Gilham introduces Ben and the mascots

As for the game itself? I can’t talk about it. The BBC, Beesotted or ‘Official’ are your best hopes if any sort of match report is required. Likewise, the video highlights are already up on Sky, if anybody can draw highlights from yesterday’s game.

That said, two points of note to take away. Firstly, cheering the substitution of Romaine Sayers for Philipp Hofmann. Seriously? One can only hope this was due to the German’s popularity although I suspect not given the criticism the former Walsall man has come in for from certain quarters. Without wanting to get overly preachy, that’s really poor form and hardly going to help a player who would still seem to be settling into Championship life.

Secondly, Dean Smith’s post match interview which contained the pearler. “If we’d taken our chances it might have been a different story.” Hmm. That is, generally, how football works.

Instead, the interviews are probably best confined to those conducted by Sean Ridley with the return of Terrace Talk.

Can we have you every week?

That aside, it simply remains to offer congratulations to  Barnsley for a job well done. As for Brentford, there’s the small matter of a trip to Loftus Road on Friday.

I’m going, again. See you there.

Nick Bruzon