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The big 4-0(0-0). Will another one bit the dust?

22 Oct

Move along, nothing to see here. For those looking to find out about yesterday’s story, that’s here. For now, its all about Brentford v Barnsley. Our big 4-0-0-0.

There’s not too much can be said that hasn’t already about this one. Saturday’s game is, as has now been very well documented, our 4,000th League fixture. With Brentford sitting just two points off the play off zone, a return to winning ways (after draws with Wigan and Derby along with the loss at Newcastle) would be the perfect way to celebrate this landmark.

Brentford are without Alan McCormack and Lasse Vibe amongst others. Dean mixed it up for Derby on Tuesday night with John Egan partnering Andreas Bjelland in central defence. Sam Saunders and Sullay Kaikai started in midfield. It was a game which ended up as a gritty 0-0, marked by a rock sold Brentford defensive performance.

Which does beg the question as to whether Harlee Dean, suspension over, walks back into the team? Competition is a wonderful thing and with a full Danish international now alongside the established Egan, will the club captain have to be content on the bench this time around?

Personally, I hope so. That’s meant as absolutely no offence to Harlee but, more, recognising that we have a squad. Competition is fierce and players know how football works. If those people drafted in as cover perform well when handed the shirt then surely that success should be rewarded ?

As for Barnsley, well they come into this one on a woeful run of form after getting off to a really strong start to their Championship life. The last 6 league games have seen 5 defeats. That streak only punctuated by a draw with, erm,  draw specialists Aston Villa. The perfect opposition for the big day or could the Tykes prove to be party poopers?

Who knows? My online bookmaker has them as 7/2 to get the win. Brentford 4/5 odds on favourites. But could the McCormack factor have upset morale or preparations? Or will Dean Smith be able to put it all behind him and ensure his squad are in the right frame of mind for this one?

Among the off-field action to look forward to I’ve a sneaking suspicion Terrace Talk will return. It wouldn’t be a landmark game without the incredible work of video guru and roving reporter Sean Ridley. Here’s hoping that camera is in operation. And for the eagle-eyed amongst you, Kitman Bob has already gone live with his latest BBGiveaway.

There’s a bumper edition programme for sale, which includes the interim return of ‘kit obsessive’ . Today’s features some stunners from the Barnsley back catalogue and what, in my opinion, is one of the most distinctive shirts from the halls of football fashion.

Most interesting of all, singer Annelies is back at Griffin Park. She was here for the game against Reading for a pre-match rendition of Hey, Jude. This time, she’ll be out at half time to perform a section of fan requested favourites.

Sadly, The Quo would not appear to be on her playlist this time. That said, we do have both Queen and The Righteous Brothers to look forward to.

Here’s hoping that when Barnsley come visiting, another one bites the dust….

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Nick Bruzon 

What does Brentford ban tell us about FA? And ourselves?

22 Oct

Brentford v Barnsley. It should be a huge game for so many reasons. It will be a huge game for so many reasons. Yet, at the same time, one can’t help but feel it has been somewhat overshadowed by Friday’s news about Alan McCormack. Specifically, for anybody who has been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, that the midfielder has been awarded a five match ban (amongst other punishments) after being found guilty of using abusive language towards an official against Cardiff City back in April.

In typical vague fashion, the FA Statement simply says that he, “Used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official in the 52nd minute of the game against Cardiff City on 19 April 2016, contrary to FA Rule E3(1). ”That it was what they deem , “An “aggravated breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to gender.

The response from Brentford was an equally factual one, acknowledging the punishment whilst adding, “We are awaiting the written reasons for the verdict and neither the player nor the Club will make any further comment on this matter until they have been received.

What he has been found guilty of saying remains, officially, a secret. There are enough theories out there in cyberspace without wishing to warrant further conjecture on that subject.

All we know for sure, is that the ban takes immediate effect, starting with today’s game against Barnsley and including the local derbies against Fulham and QPR amongst those in the period.

So…. OTT? Fair? Is Alan a foulmouthed pig or was it something said off the cuff under the pressures of a live game environment and totally out of character?

The answers to the first two remain a matter of individual opinion whilst only the player himself could answer that last one. Everybody who watches him knows how much Alan wears his heart on his sleeve when playing for the Bees. How badly he wants to win. How much the opposition must fear him. How much he is a firm fan favourite.

Regardless of whether it is out of character, and it’s easy for me to say this from my safe position as numpty on the terrace rather than somebody in a live game environment, you can’t get away with abuse these days. And rightly so, quite frankly.

This isn’t the ‘70s when homophobia and racism were deemed acceptable. When the idea of a woman playing football was seen as something laughable. That she was somebody who belonged in the kitchen and ’the other room’ (although the President of Nigeria begged to differ last Friday).

Like it or not. Out of character or not. The FA are doing their level best to engender an attitude of respect amongst players and supporters. They have been for some time. Fans know this. Managers know this. Players know this. Attitudes have changed for the better amongst so many although, sadly,  others are still dragging their knuckles through the ground.

Has Alan been made an example of? How has this suddenly come to light in October, from a game that took place in April of last season? When the player wasn’t even booked at the time. Surely one of the officials would have reported this to referee Stuart Attwell? How have the FA now heard about this and from whom?  Yet, at the same time, if it did happen then they have no choice in having to take follow up actions.

This is a huge ban and if nothing else Alan would seem to be patient zero when the FA have decided to clamp down hard. Yet, also, they’ve now drawn a line in the sand which I’ll be very keen to see how strongly they enforce ongoing.

At the same time, if this is a path they are going down then further clarity on what happened and how would probably be no bad thing from the FA. Just so that there is no doubt as to where that line is – for players and fans.

The reaction of supporters seems to be, largely, that the player has done the wrong thing. That the ban is a heavy one and that we’ll all miss him on the pitch. Massively. Yet also there are still a few who seem to think that this sort of behaviour, whatever the catalyst, is acceptable.

That, for me, is the saddest thing about all of this. They’ve had the benefit of time to think.

Quotes I’ve seen from supporters on social media include:

Bullsh*t. It’s a man’s game . She needs to grow a set, or officiate womens’ games.

The punishment is totally disproportionate and smacks of political correctness

All the whiter than white males condoning @almc16 ?? Get a life? Something said in heat of moment in a game of football – support our player.

It’s an attitude we still see in patches in the stands. Only last weekend at Newcastle one of my friends, as a reaction to politely asking the group behind him to stop using homophobic language was told, amongst others things: “F@ck off, you que*r c@nt” and  ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s football’ 

It’s football?! It’s. Football.

Wow. As though that’s any justification for hurling abuse that won’t even be heard by the players and officials it was directed at. That doesn’t even have the ‘excuse’ of being uttered by somebody on the pitch who would have been in the heart of any incident.

We all shout at the ref, at players and even at each other sometimes.The clear difference being we don’t all shout sexist, homophobic or insulting abuse.

Thankfully, this attitude is something very much in the minority at Brentford. At least, that’s the way it seems to me. Only on Thursday, the club joined the EFL in their campaign to stamp out anti-social behaviour in the stands.

Ironic? Coincidence? Pre-emptive? Whatever the timing, as somebody who brings a three year old to home games at Griffin Park it is something that can only be endorsed.

Equally though, it’s something that by and large I think we already do really well on.

We’ve got a great family at Brentford. I’m proud to be part of a club where supporters do get along and, whilst getting caught up in the heat of the moment, don’t normally cross the line.

Whatever the ins and outs of this case, and I doubt we’ll ever know the full facts, it seems clear we’ve moved into a new phase of football. Abuse officials – pay the punishment.

Will the FA have the guts to see this through?

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The club and EFL have joined forces

Nick Bruzon

King Kev the Eighth. Will you be a part of history on Saturday?

21 Oct

Kevin O’Connor. Is there nothing he can’t do? With Brentford approaching our 4,000th league game this Saturday, the home encounter with Barnsley, many of us just coming in from work last night (or who had been home in the morning) would have received a letter from the great man himself.

We all know Kevin as Mr. Brentford. A ‘one club’ man who made 501 appearances between January 2000 and August 2014. A man who is fourth in the club’s all time appearance list(behind Ken Coote, Jamie Bates and Peter Gelson). A man who is still with the club, as B Team Head Coach. This, having taken up the role after Flemming Pedersen left during the week to take over as Technical Director of FC Nordsjælland in Denmark.

Kevin even judged the first ever ‘Last Word’ caption competition back in the fledgling days of these pages. That, a picture featuring himself and Simon Moore, saw Iain Roswell earn himself a Buzzette mug with the line: “After last year’s success of London 2012, there was a massive disappointment with the anniversary games.”

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He’s done just about everything at Griffin Park, short of taking the microphone from Peter Gilham to announce Scott Hogan as a goalscorer – sponsored by Siracusa. It’s a little Italian restaurant by Brentford lock. And that, I would pay good money to hear.

But in addition to all of this, Kevin clearly holds sway as a club  figurehead. And rightly so. Certainly one of the nicest footballers I’ve had the pleasure to meet, something that can’t be a unique feeling to yours truly.

So it was a timely reminder, if one were needed, to receive the letter telling us that you can still buy tickets for Saturday’s 4,000th with Barnsley. More to the point, that Season Ticket holders can pick up extras for just £10 each via the online ticket site.

If you’re reading this and know somebody who might want to come along, it’s £10. £10. Ten pounds. That’s not even three pints these days. For the chance to see Brentford make another thrust for the play-offs. For the chance to be a part of history and say “I was there” for game 4,000.

4,000. Just to put that into context, it means Kevin (and Peter Gelson, who will also be in attendance) have both played in pretty much an eighth of our entire history. A quarter of every Brentford league game, ever, between them.

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To quote one regular correspondent, RebelBee: “Saturday is huge, both for the occasion and the chance to move into the play off places. It’s another tough game and we need to fill GP and give the same vocal support we’ve seen on the road this past few days”.

And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, don’t forget that singer Annelies (who has already sung ‘Hey, Jude, prior to the 4-1 demolition of Reading) will be back at Griffin Park. As ‘official’ tell us, “ The Voice contestant and University of West London student performed ‘Hey Jude’ pre-match before our win against Reading last month and now returns for our half-time show against Barnsley on Saturday 22 October.  Tweet us your requests at BrentfordFC and she’ll choose the best two”.

I can’t believe I’ve missed that one and, surely, it is now too late? Or is it? I’d love to hear her covering The Quo.

As if Saturday isn’t going to be special enough already….

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Annelies was at Griffin Park for the Reading game.

Nick Bruzon

Benham? Devlin? Wickham? If Sam is away, who is driving?

28 Mar

Sometimes we really do need to ‘big up’ the team behind the team at Brentford. Tuesday sees the development squad host Barnsley at Griffin Park at 1.00pm  – assuming that Storm Katie, which is still battering TW8, has left the place in one piece.

Despite the frustrations that many supporters are feeling at present, there are plenty of positives to enjoy. Not least of which is the fact the our Bees are just a few wins away from guaranteeing a third, successive, season in the Championship. Honestly, if you’d been offered that four of five years ago, surely most of us would have bitten the hand off to grab that chance?

Yes – last season was stunning and the sales / managemement changes / pitch issues/ recent poor run have certainly been in contrast this time around. However, once the dust settles I’d hope we’ve all learned an awful lot more about the direction of the club and the strategy required for long term success.

Yet amongst all this have been plenty of unsung heroes. The ticket office team continue to blaze a trail as club ambassadors. I’ve mentioned them before but each dealing with them  – whether on the phone or in person – gives a renewed feeling of positivity about our club.

Buzz and Buzzette. Despite their ‘drivers’ remaining a closely guarded secret, these über-friendly faces never, ever pass up the offer of a ‘high five’ or turn down a cuddle with an adoring fan. But that’s enough about my own pre-match peccadillos.

Certainly, they are  one of the reasons my lad loves coming to Griffin Park. So much so that when I asked him on Friday, “What do you want to do next week. Anything?” his two answers were, “I want to go and watch Daddy Bees”, closely followed by “Can we play football in the park with Sam and Harlee?

And so half-term break sees me being taken to Griffin Park by a 2 and 3/4 year old to watch the development squad take on Barnsley. “Will Buzz be there?” he asked me after I’d told him that we could, indeed, see the Bees (although unfortunately Sam was on holiday with Harlee).

Hmm. Whilst a great chance for the development squad to experience match day at Griffin Park, this was likely to be a scaled down experience with only Braemar Road open (albeit free admission). I’d imagine Buzz is lazing around the pool in his Thomas Royall’s with Sam but, you never know. Daddy will find out.

And here is where the power of social media, and Brentford brilliance, swung into action thanks to another of those ‘heroes’. Chief Executive Mark Devlin doing his Santa routine at Easter has put in a phone call to Buzz and he’s now coming back from holiday early. Just to be there on Tuesday.

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Mark Devlin swings immediately into action

My own overactive imagination aside, huge thanks to Buzz for cancelling his holiday and sorting out a short notice ‘fly in’. Which, once HB had gone to sleep, did make me start to wonder how this could be arranged so quickly?

Is Buzz on 24 hour standby, like some mascot emergency service? Or could there be a new man or woman donning that famous costume just for this game?

Chris Wickham or Mark Chapman doubling up their media team duties, perhaps? Mr Benham taking inspiration from TV’s  ‘Undercover Boss’? Mark Devlin, unwilling to ‘leave a fan down’, seeing his duties through to an extreme level ? Or Kitman Bob seeing just how comfortably that XXXXXL shirt fits Buzz?

Either way, whoever is Buzz (tomorrow or any day), THANK YOU. And Mark, likewise.

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Buzz does his thing against Blackburn

And just as one final thought, it was only yesterday that this column was talking about the potential catastrophe of using comedians or novelty presenters for major sporting events. Then the boat race happened and proved the point.

I’ll leave that thought with you. If you saw it, you know.

If you didn’t, then just Ask Jeeves. Or Bernard Quackenbush.

Nick Bruzon