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Farce of the missing game comes to an end. Can we end on a high ?

4 May

Pope declares his admiration for the Catholic faith. Bear defecates in small forest. Laurence Bassini has insufficient cash.  EFL call off Bolton v Brentford. The most obvious facts since records began were formally, finally, declared yesterday morning with the Bees being awarded a nominal 1-0 win and all three points for the game which will not be played and never had a hope in hell of happening the second it was called off last Friday. Instead, Sunday lunchtime’s visit from Preston North End will now become our final game of the season and, with it, the chance to secure a top ten finish is still on. Likewise, the chance to ensure that the nine points deducted from Birmingham City for breaking financial regulations give no chance of claiming ‘if only’ as we finish above them, again, with Bees already ten points better. 

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At least we got to play Bolton at home this season

What a mess. What a farce. What a shame. The only positive to come out of this in the immediate short term was the game being cancelled. Something which should have happened the exact same second Bolton Wanderers were unable to field a team. We all know the circumstances around why they did this, and there’s no vitriol being directed towards their first team, but the can of worms this opens with teams being able to cancel games unilaterally with no immediate form of solution, sanction or recourse available to the EFL is a worrying one. Might want to update that BCP plan, chaps.

Moreso, it begs the question as to how on earth they felt adequate safety personnel might be in place on Thursday afternoon when the next morning it was realised they wouldn’t. That being the formal reason the game was called off, rather than any considerations around fans, players or other clubs who now see Brentford climb to 12th after our third away win of the season.

Most frustratingly, there was no confirmation from the authorities as to whether we’d recorded the win in our magnificent away kit or who had scored the goal. With Neal Maupay (24) sitting four behind leading scorer Teemu Pukki of Norwich City (28) this would have been an excellent chance to try and narrow that gap. Instead, there’s only the Preston game left for Neal to try and finish top of the Championship pile .

Likewise, the brown and orange has been denied a triumphant farewell. Brentifrd fans were left crying into their beer last night at this devastating news, with Kitman Bob having used Twitter to declare that..

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For all I’m rooting for Neal in the goalscorer stakes, for the purposes of this result I’m pretty sure it was Sergi Canos on 7(seven) minutes who got this one. That said, it was @OllieW3BB on Twitter who probably wins the BBGiveaway this time around. His own shout for the time of the first goal deserving of more than a few ‘likes’ – something which at least one person seemed to appreciate.

Ollie: If my maths is right, the 8493rd min!!! Almost 6 days after KO 😂😂😂     

Kitman Bob: deserves a training top at least !!!

As for Brentford, like it or not as to how this happened we’re now up to 12th. I still say we would have won, regardless, and the point been Brentford’s had the game taken place on pitch.

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Brentford have won away?

If nothing else, The Trotters visit back in December brought about a most telling exchange in our house between Mrs. Bruzon and five year old Harry.

Rachel: “They won!! Does that mean the jinx is off and I can come back to football?”

Harry: “No mummy. Bolton were so bad that even if you’d been here Brentford would still have won”

Recent form and the current situation suggest nothing had changed on that front. Instead, we’re now in a position where, in theory, 10th place is still available. for that to happen we not only need to beat Preston on Sunday (something which is by no means a given) but also rely on favours. Including a win for Bolton at Nottingham Forest. With morale through the floor, the realist in me just can’t see that happening although I live in hope.

Regardless, our own victory is an essential. Primarily, to end the season on a high but as much to widen the gap over Birmingham City to a potential 13 points. That, an outcome which will please yours truly (at the least) for reasons which have been well documented on these pages and of which Harlee’s ten times better nonsense is only the most recent. Although at least on this day of piss weak ‘jokes’ (Star Wars fans, I’m looking at you) it has brought a smile to my face thinking about his interview and the on-pitch payback. Again. Thinking about their inability to beat us or finish above us. Again.

Roll on Sunday. See you there.

League after game 45

After 45 games, there’s still plenty to play for

Nick Bruzon

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Are we going for gold? Black, yellow or brown? Kitman Bob drops huge clue in Twitter strip tease.

3 May

And then things started to happen. The EFL have named the date on which the game between Bolton and Brentford will be played. Supposedly. This Tuesday, the same evening that our B team host Manchester City and so there goes the chance to play the kids as had been widely touted. Elsewhere, social media proved king once more as Kitman Bob started answering fan questions about next season’s kit, dropping some pretty big clues in the process.

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Has Bob started pointing the way to 2019/20?

First up, Bolton. The game is supposedly going to happen this Tuesday in the deadzone between the season ending and the play-offs starting. It clashes with our own fixture at home to Manchester City B – always a big draw – whilst also means casual fans will now find themselves further torn as any hopes for a clear run to see Barcelona complete their Champions League rout against Liverpool now have some serious competition. Messi or Maupay ? Sergi or Suarez? I know, I know.

Except, of course, I still can’t see how the game will go ahead. The EFL ‘demanding’ it is one thing but even their own statement notes that, “The Board also discussed the potential of Bolton Wanderers being placed into Administration and took the view if that was to happen, the EFL would not insist the game be played.” They go on to add that “we would advise all supporters to wait until the details for the game are confirmed by the Club before making any travel arrangements”. Meanwhile Brentford official have also advised that they “Will continue to update fans on all issues surrounding this game as often as possible in the coming days.

So clear as mud, then. The game will take place this Tuesday (it is now Friday). Except the advice from the EFL is that it might not and supporters shouldn’t make any arrangements as yet. A situation more farcical given there’s no train home after the game finishes (unless you want to hang around until 1am for the bus to Manchester and the 5 o’clock service to London) . Virgin rail and hotels are expensive enough as it is, let alone when you have to book at a moment’s notice.

Would this even allow the club time to lay on supporters’ coaches?  Would health and safety / policing allow for a game to be set up at short notice? More so one which may not even happen. What about the players who should now be on well -earned breaks? There will be more to follow, no doubt, including what I still expect to be an award of three points to Brentford.

On to matters more appealing, Twitter was awash with talk of next season’s kit yesterday. Something further compounded by EFL Championship supporter of the year, 98 year old Audrey Baker, gifting our Junior Bees an embroidered gold scarf in her role as patron of the Junior membership schemes. It is a most generous and timely present, moreso given our own recent recognition as a gold standard family club. These are smart as and I’m seriously tempted to get the ‘Jimmmy Krankie’ costume from out of the special cupboard in order to try and blag one of the white and gold beauties on Sunday.

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What a gesture for our young fans

Yet as well as being a wonderful gift, it got fans wondering if this was a hint as to next season’s away colour scheme. Moreso when Kitman Bob started doing what he only he can do – going rogue on Twitter (in the nicest possible sense).

He had already told us that our 2019/20 effort would promise “New vibes and old skool” (although was that home, away or both?) whilst the release date could be imminent given, “I think there is an agreement to announce it a few days after the Preston game. “

Then Audrey did the scarf thing and that was it. Bob did what only he, Brentford and Matthew Benham can get away with – chucking out clues into cyberspace and even offering fans a choice of an easy, medium or hard one. Name me any other club or kitman that does this? I love it. Moreso, when the tease offered up to supporters seemed, at first glance, eminently gettable. Or should that be Eminemly gettable? :

Let’s start with a easy-clue then. Famous US Rapper had a massive hit with this.😁😁😁

Get in. I’ve solved this one already. Quite possibly. The clue in the scarf is there already. It has to be Kanye West – Gold Digger. Surely?

Or does it? Bob appeared to pour cold water on that speculation.  “White gold. Kitmans nightmare !  Gold is nice though 😀” . A double bluff or something that is being ruled out purely on cleanliness grounds?

Moving on, Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow – seemed the popular consensus. It makes sense for so many reasons and has always been popular. Who could forget the Bathroom shopfront  launch of our 2011-12 beauty whilst I’m still a sucker for the version worn on the road in our first Championship campaign after promotion.

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We’ve got good form here .

Then it hit me. People have missed the obvious one. Hidden in plain sight. We all love the Jaffa Cake kit. All of us. How about more of the same? It’s so obvious when you think about it. DJ Khaled – Brown paper Bag. YESSS!!!! Another season of the brown / orange or similar. It was a fact fact further, definitely compounded by Bob’s subsequent musing “Why has everyone gone for Wiz 🤔🤔🤔”   .

So there you have it. We’re going brown again. Definitely brown.  Not gold and white or black and yellow.

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Too obvious? Or will it be Wiz?

Yet there was more intrigue thrown out there with the other clue offered out by Bob. Namely that, “There maybe  more than one away kit …..” .

Three kits? Does this mean that, in the final season in our current home, Brentford could be going for something special from the historical locker? We did this before in 2004/05 with the away kit commemorating 100 years at Griffin Park. Perhaps something similar is in the offing? Once can only hope that is the case.

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Something historic this way comes?

Whilst we’re all making educated guesses, ultimately nobody knows for sure. The technical sponsor is still not public knowledge although the kit nerd in me is desperate for Umbro, would love the nostalgia of Hummel and can see the unique situation of personalised shirts that would come with New Balance and their NB logo . No doubt it’ll end up being somebody like Macron, whose latest Stoke City effort is about as safe as they come – with some very unusual collars….

The only way to know for sure will be when the club top brass allow Bob to get his kits out. Come on Mr. Benham. Please, put us out of our misery.

Nick Bruzon

Bolton, Bassini and Bamford make the headlines. Ajax make like Brentford.

1 May

Well that was quite the day. The Bolton – Brentford saga rumbles on. Ajax produced gasps of admiration in the Champions League. As much for their kit as their performance against a Tottenham side who proved to be about as successful at playing football as the EFL are at decision making. And Patrick Bamford of Leeds United has now been charged with “successful deception of a match official“. Just for the record, that being his dive against Aston Villa that saw Anwar El Ghazi red carded (now rescinded) rather than the one against Julian Jeanvier that saw Mr. Stroud award ‘no penalty’ – got to love that finger wag.

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Classic Keith… And turn away then point/wag/raise card

First up, the farce of the game at Bolton. 96 hours on, Brentford are still none the wiser as to if or when the game will take place. Instead, the EFL have granted Laurence Bassini an additional 48 hours to prove he has the funds to take over the club. So how does that work? Without wanting to cast aspersions about the state of his books or the reputation of the former Watford owner, if he doesn’t have it now then how are an extra two days going to make any difference?

Regardless of the outcome, what does that mean for the game that is yet to happen (and won’t, let’s cut to the chase)? The BBC piece on this story notes that “Bassini is confident he can complete the deal and is determined the Brentford fixture will be fulfilled, even if they have to field a team made up of the club’s younger players.” How realistic this is remains to be seen. The one thing we can be sure of is that the game has now been confirmed as not taking place this week – oh, well done EFL. I prostrate myself at the feet of your imperious decision making powers.

In theory, there are an additional four days after Sunday’s season finale when the game could still happen (per EFL regulations) although I’m still unclear as to how this will be the case for all manner of logistical reasons. The least of which being supporters ability to travel, Bolton’s ability to organise a game at short notice, policing, availability of players, willingness of players, which level of actual players might be selected  etc etc etc.

The whole thing is an absolute joke of a farce of a mess of a situation. The game will never happen. It can’t.  An already awful situation at Bolton is now seeing both clubs being made a further mockery of. This is without even mentioning that Bolton are due to travel to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. The mayhem if they strike for that one could tip this over the edge…..

Next up, Ajax. Their 1-0 win at Tottenham last night in the Champions League was incredible. Not just the level of football as that left Spurs flat on their backsides but the kit they wore. Their Regista 18 template looked awfully familiar – did somebody say Jaffa Cakes? If it’s good enough for Ajax then surely it was good enough for The Bees? (He says, deploying the fishing rod emoji).  

Are you Brentford in disguise?  Quite possibly, barring a slight tweak on the colour scheme and the fact that they won away from home.

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Who wears it best? Brentford or Ajax?

Yet the real take away from this was the obvious discussion on Twitter that followed. Specifically, the reaction from Kitman Bob Oteng to one supporter’s desire that we use the Ajax version for ourselves in 2019/20. His reaction, being an intriguing one:

 “Wait till you see next seasons away kit then make your choice 😁.  Not long to go 🐝:”

I’ve heard some very promising things about what we have in store although am yet to see anything ‘official’. However, this has just piqued my already sky high curiosity even further.

With Bob also using Twitter to tell fans that the kit, “Should be announced very soon !” , could this be as soon as the end of the season? Subject to the EFL determining when the end of the season is, of course? Or is that just blind optimism from yours truly? Come on Bob, Mr. Benham et al. Please put us out of our misery and get that reveal out there….

Then, this morning, a further clue has been thrown out there by the main man. Bob making the suggestion that the new shirt is a mix of “New vibes and old skool🤔😉”. What this all means I have no idea but I can’t wait to find out.

Finally, Patrick Bamford. The Leeds player has now been charged following his play acting on Sunday. Whilst the entire footballing community can see he is guilty as charged (the fact the red card has already been reversed telling you all you need to know about the FA’s stance), it does beg the question as to how you can be charged with ‘successful deception’ ? An oxymoron if ever I heard one – see also:  deafening silence or military intelligence.

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Can everyone stop getting shot?

By definition, if you have deceived somebody successfully then you’ve got away with it. Except, of course, he hasn’t. Expect a two game ban and his return in time to see Leeds in the play-offs.

The successful deployment of the fishing rod emoji when the news was announced produced the expected reaction from Leeds United supporters. One, Julian Fortuna (and I can happily say this because he’s family) asking the question :

U know what sergi canos and connor hourihane have in common?… Both got away scot free after video evidence caught them clearly committing acts of violent conduct and going unpunished.   

Two points of order, here Julian. Firstly, the whole point about video evidence is that it gives the authorities time to review the facts in the cold light of day. Allowing correct decisions to be made and due process to follow. No charges were levelled at Canos or Hourihane.

More importantly, the correct answer to the question is actually: Both players have scored against Leeds United this season.

Sadly, I think that may be the last chance we get to see that happen. At least for a season. I’m pretty sure that the Leeds United choke is now over. Marcelo Bielsa will rally his troops for that final play-of push. Leeds United will reach the Premier League. Probably before the EFL make a decision about when the Bolton – Brentford game will be played.

Nick Bruzon

Dear EFL…..For once, put the supporters first and sort this mess out. I dare you.

30 Apr

Come on EFL, sort this nonsense out. Now. The failure to rearrange the Bolton – Brentford game that you cancelled on Friday, with the season due to formally end this Sunday lunchtime, is nothing short of farcical. With Preston due to visit Griffin Park then, it is clear that it cannot take place prior. Instead, we are left in a situation where should a game occur it will be played in the dead zone between the campaign ending and the play-offs starting. A game that nobody wants at this juncture and which nobody will attend. Except, of course, it won’t happen. It is a complete slap in the face (and wallets) of the fans from both clubs aswell as the players – who are left in limbo rather than starting a well-earned holiday. It is a complete demonstration, once again, of the impotence of the footballing authorities when it comes to any sort of decision making process.

Waiting for the EFL to swing into action feels like that episode of The Simpsons when Bart and Skinner are repeatedly searching the night sky in a punishment related amateur astronomy lesson (as you do):

“Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees fifty-eight minutes declination……No sighting.

No Sighting.

No Sighting.”

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The EFL look for an answer with no success

There has been nothing. Nothing. No decision just to cancel the game and award us the three points by default. Not that we particular want that with Neal Maupay then denied a final chance to top the Championship goal scoring charts or The Bees missing out on trying to improve our patchy away record. As for Bolton, with the debacle going on there at a senior level, playing a pointless game (no pun intended) is probably the last thing on their minds. Yet, instead, we are all being taken for a ride on the EFL bullshit express. Supporters already out of pocket and likely to be even further so should the game somehow be arranged at a moment’s notice.

But no, I stand corrected. The EFL have done something in public. They have made… a statement. You can read this below

Discussions have continued with Bolton Wanderers, Brentford and other relevant parties throughout the course of the past 48 hours in regards to the rescheduling of last weekend’s Sky Bet Championship fixture. 

 There has been suggestions in the public domain that that the game could potentially take place on Wednesday 1 May 2019. However, Bolton Wanderers has not yet confirmed this will be the case and the EFL will advise via the appropriate channels as soon as a definitive decision is reached. 

 EFL Regulations do provide for any match to be played within four days of the end the normal playing season.

It is one of those which tells you precisely nothing. There is nothing here beyond hot air and waffle. No substance. No answers. No solution. No help. Instead, Thomas Frank doesn’t even know if he should be preparing Brentford for a game with Bolton or a game with Preston. Except he does, because there is no way on this earth that the Bolton game can or will happen. Sadly. And even if it did, what would the EFL do to help supporters? Why has it been left to Brentford to be the ones looking at means of compensating fans who had bought travel tickets and accommodation for Saturday’s no show?

Let’s be clear. Everybody sympathises with the Bolton players. There’s no gripe there. The lack of solution and the lack of help from anybody with the ability to make that call is what is proving to be the ‘challenge’. And that’s the polite word.

I don’t want the game called off for reasons as noted before. Yet given the calendar and the circumstances around this, with little time for either club to prepare an ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ team of players who would rather be on holiday. Of supporters having to find and fund travel to a game that would, surely, end up being played behind closed doors or in the face of a public protest at short notice. Of the complete farce that it would be should this somehow go ahead.

Just put everyone out of their misery now. Please.

Then use the summer to make an informed and considered decision about what, if any, action should be taken. Playing the game won’t keep Bolton up. It won’t propel Brentford to the play-offs. But it will draw a line under this whole sorry mess and put the clubs ,the players and most importantly  the fans out of their misery.

For once, put the supporters first. I dare you.

Bolton Wanderers v Brentford - Sky Bet Football League Championship

It’s just a load of big balls at the EFL and Bolton

 

Nick Bruzon  

Plenty of great news and action despite the P-P. Have they fallen apart yet…?

28 Apr

I love the business end of the season. Saturday afternoon saw all sorts of promotion and relegation issues coming to conclusion with more to follow today. Despite Brentford and Bolton seeing their game called off by the EFL for those well documented reasons, there was still plenty for Bees’ fans to keep an eye on. Norwich City are promoted from the Championship. Sheffield United all but there. Leeds United now in need of beating Aston Villa by, at least, brackets today in an attempt to keep their mathematical ‘automatic’ hopes alive. Further down the league pyramid there was joy for Leyton Orient and tears for Yeovil Town. And what of Doncaster Rovers, whom we mentioned yesterday…..?

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It’s all over barring goal difference

First up, the fall out from the Bolton – Brentford P-P. The EFL have ordered that the game still be played, regardless of who the home side put in the line up. It’s a farcical scenario for all concerned with the real prospect of a men against boys match taking place, should it actually happen. Which I still can’t see being the case. Although if it did come down to the home side fielding youths / reserves then what an opportunity to give our B-team some genuine league experience. If nothing else, a sporting gesture that would see, at least, the game played on a level playing field.

With the whole footballing community firmly behind Bolton, there’s no real resentment here. More, frustration. Especially for the Bees’ fans who have shelled out on weekend travel. The plus side here being chief executive Jon Varney’s message that the club are now investigating ways of helping those supporters who had travelled.

He told Brentford ‘Official’ that, “I will be working over the coming days to find ways to compensate those who have had their day spoilt by the game being called off, particularly as it will, I’m sure, be difficult for some to get back up to a rearranged fixture at short notice.

At the top end of the Championship, Norwich City were promoted after a 2-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers. Sheffield United are as good as there following their own defeat of Ipswich Town.

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Congratulations (and happy birthday??) to my good friend Delia

The only team who can catch up are Leeds United, whose only chance of taking second place is to win both games, hope the Blades lose their final match but also overturn a goal difference that currently favours the Bramall Lane outfit by 13. Effectively, a double bracketing in each game will be needed. Whilst a 7(seven) goal margin at Ipswich Town next week is vaguely feasible, to do it against Aston Villa is a nigh on impossible task. You’ve more chance of Keith Stroud keeping his cards in his pockets for 90 minutes.

It is an incredible situation that United find themselves in, after such a strong start to the campaign. They were looking an absolute shoe in for promotion to the Premier League and, you know what, they still might do it via the medium of the play-offs. Yet as in seasons gone by, and to coin a phrase, “Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again.”.

The Easter weekend, especially the game at Griffin Park, was proof of this. Brentford were magnificent against a team who were second to everything. Yes. There may have been a penalty. To us aswell, after Ollie Watkins was impeded. Regardless of Mr. Stroud’s decision making, the net result was Thomas Frank playing Leeds like a cheap fiddle. I fully expect Dean Smith to do the same today as he looks to get a psychological advantage over his opponents going into that end of season promotion shoot out.

There’s simply no way Sheffield United can miss out from here. Indeed, there was a keen Brentford interest in yesterday’s game where the goals came from Scott Hogan and Jack O’Connell. More proof, if any were needed, of our consistent ability to find players who can then go on and do it elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare when plying their trade in the top flight next season. 

In League Two, Yeovil Town saw their run come to an end with relegation to the National League (conference). There were few tears shed by the Griffin Park fans as the results came through. Six years ago, after Doncaster did that thing, Brentford faced Yeovil in the League One play off final at the W place. Whilst we did what we always do there, Gary Johnson made himself public enemy number one in TW8 doing what he did as his side edged past us and into the Championship. 

Coming up to League Two are National League champions Leyton Orient. No doubt they’ll have spent the night celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup. And rightly so. If Bolton are suffering from shonky ownership at present, nobody needs any reminder of how things have played out in East London over the last few seasons. 

But for Marcello Trotta in that magnificent 0-1 (possibly one of the greatest Brentford performances ever) as we went up to the Championship, it could have been The O’s who took our place. Who knows how things may have turned out for both teams had it been then rather than us who claimed second place. For that, I am eternally grateful and moreso seeing the respective fates of Orient, Yeovil and Doncaster in the years since.

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What a game. What consequences

And talking of Doncaster Rovers….. Their draw and defeat for Peterborough saw them secure a League One play-off place. It’s going to happen. I’m calling it now. Final game at Griffin Park next season…….

Nick Bruzon

Drastic action at Bolton but great news at Griffin Park. And six years ago today….

27 Apr

What can you say? One has to feel for the Bolton Wanderers players, compelled to take the drastic action which has resulted in the game with Brentford being cancelled by the EFL on Friday evening. On the flip side, there was wonderful news out of Griffin Park yesterday with the news that we  have been voted the best place for families to watch EFL football in London and the second best in the country as a whole. Whilst, of course, it was six years ago today that Doncaster Rovers came to Griffin Park…..

There’s not much to really add on the Bolton story at present. With the players going on strike after not being paid for March, the decision to play the match was taken out of the club’ hands. Given the proximity to the end of the season, one can’t see this one going ahead now and our final road trip of the campaign will, in all probability, end with the game being declared a nominal 0-3 win to the Bees. Unless, of course, Bob tells the EFL that he’s packed the brown and orange. In which case it’ll be a point each.

That said, the EFL have just come out this morning (10.30) and told the club that they need to fulfil their fixtures. Whether , when and how this is feasible remains to be seen, of course.

Nobody comes out of this smiling. The players and supporters up at Bolton have been through the ringer this season. They are a club with nothing but friends in the wider football community and to see them in this predicament is awful. For Brentford, the players and fans have already travelled. More were due to be heading up today. What the league will do about their travel costs I have no idea, although an educated guess suggest naff all. Who cares about fans or players though ? One things for sure, we haven’t heard the last of this and whilst we’re all hoping for a happy conclusion things are not looking good at the moment.

Bolton Wanderers v Brentford - Sky Bet Football League Championship

Good times at Bolton in days gone by

Back in West London, The Bees were yesterday one of just nine clubs to be given an EFL Gold award for family excellence and matchday engagement. The “Outstanding and extraordinary quality of the family experience provided” was specifically noted as we were ranked second best in the entire EFL.

This is just incredible news yet fully deserved. I can vouch first hand for all the great work that has gone on over the years. As a parent myself (did I mention?) the way Harry has been treated and been able to get involved in his five years has been nothing short of extraordinary. Kit shoots. Mascot. Meet the players. Open Days. To name but a few. The constant approachability of staff and players makes being part of the football club seem like second nature. Oh look, there’s Neal Maupay popping into the local curry house for a post Leeds United meal. As you do. And nobody cares because its just the norm for us.

We’ve got #BeeTheAnnouncer. #BeeTheDJ (where love will still tear us apart). The family enclosure and the Bee Block. Buzzette is quite possibly the most engaging of all the EFL mascots and the kids love her. As do the grown ups. I still pray for the day she meets Kinglsey of Partick Thistle.

Quite frankly, if it wasn’t down to the way that the club treats our families and youngsters I wouldn’t be able to go to football. Harry absolutely LOVES it. He has bought into Brentford in a way I could never have envisaged. Mrs Bruzon has bought a season ticked for 2019/20. This is all down to the wonderful atmosphere, the family friendly vibe and the way that everybody from fans to staff to players to chairman to owner makes us all feel so, so welcome. 

Thank you!!! 

The players have always typified the family spirit at Brentford

The players have always typified the family spirit

And finally, it was six years ago today. On a personal note, the ill fated appearance on Soccer AM prior to the Doncaster Rovers game. The nil points in the penalty shoot out game at the end ( a season’s worst, apparently) should have served as a warning. Following that, was the promotion deciding game. Something. Something. Something. Penalty. 

I forget the exact nature of the events that followed. If only somebody had mentioned it. Ever. Still, it would be fair to say that despite the heartbreak that followed at full time, things have worked out for the best in the long term. Not that we knew or felt that back then. It is amazing how time can heal although I’ll never, ever forget the pain of seeing that ball hit the bar. Of hearing the resounding thud of leatherette on woodwork. Of having to watch the subsequent celebrations from the away end. Of seeing The Griffin deserted at full time.

Interestingly, despite the consequent promotion and fall from grace, Doncaster Rovers look like they may be in with a chance of crossing paths with us once more. With just two games to play, they are currently sitting in the final League One play-off place. I’m still hoping Charlton Athletic scoop those particular honours, for reason as previously noted.  However, should Rovers triumph it will set up an intriguing and long awaited chance of getting one back.

I’m already guessing who next season’s final game at Griffin Park will be against….. 

Natalie lines up on Soccer AM

Not even Natalie scored that day

 Nick Bruzon

With a key festive tradition denied, can we reach an all time high?

26 Dec

Where to go with this one today? By all rights we should be looking in depth at Brentford v Bolton. A 1-0 win for The Bees on Saturday saw Thomas Frank record a morale boosting win with the game’s only goal coming courtesy of Neal Maupay. Indeed, the closest in which lacklustre opposition got to scoring was via the head of their own goalkeeper Ben Alnwick who headed just wide as the game reached a buttock clenching (for some) denouement. Honestly, it was never in doubt and Bolton look to be in serious trouble whilst Brentford will no doubt have much tougher tests ahead in the coming days. Starting this afternoon with a Boxing Day trip to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City. Will the Bolton performance be the building blocks of a lengthy run up the table or a flash in the pan win against a team who will need something special to maintain their own Championship status?

Yet this morning (Wednesday, possibly…) yours truly is very much in relaxed mode. The thought of engaging the brain one which is very much playing second fiddle to drinking another coffee and just enjoing some contemplative time. Some time with the family. Some time off work and not getting upset by the pressures of life.

Why even last night, flicking through the TV selection (the first time in about four days the box has been on) we stumbled across Mrs. Brown’s Boys. A ‘hilarious’ ‘joke’ about an Alexa style device played out before we jumped onwards in a futile quest for a Christmas ‘Bond’ move. There was no rage. No rant. No observation that, “FFS. It’s a man. In a cardigan. And a wig. With one joke. One joke that has been spread thinner than a chunky tarmac driveway“.

Instead, we let it go in search of Roger Moore. Some traditions die hard in our house and whilst we were denied satisfaction in this instance, even ITV4 letting us down, perhaps it might be time to crack out the blu-rays later today. Nothing says ‘festive season’ like Victor Tourjansky trying to figure out whether 007’s latest bit of derring-do really happened or was simply the by product of drinking too much in the mid-day sun.

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And Brentford have won a game… Victor Tourjansky does his thing

 But then nothing says festive tradition like Boxing Day at Griffin Park. Sadly, after what seems like a good ten or so December 26th home games on the bounce (Luis / Jonathan – IF you are reading and could please confirm), we now have to do battle with the seasonal timetable and upsetting the family. And that’s a green card too far in our house. Moreso at a time when Mrs Bruzon has spoiled us fantastically. More than we have any right to expect. Indeed, a key part of her present to Harry and myself was not coming to the Bolton game given her own, alleged, albatross like qualities when it comes to home wins. Sure enough, three points followed. Although he showed bigger balls than me, and he’s only five, when replying to her own post-match question…   

Rachel: “They won!! Does that mean the jinx is off and I can come back to football?”

Harry: “No mummy. Bolton were so bad that even if you’d been here Brentford would still have won”

A bit harsh? Or fair reflection? Personally, I’ve not been so calm at football in a long time. Honestly, the game never felt as though it was in doubt (at least through my eyes) despite Alnwick’s late foray upfield. Another goal or two would have been nice – if only to alleviate some of the stress from those sitting around us – but the three points came gift wrapped and we took advantage of a seasonal offering. Thomas Frank shuffled his pack and his formation. Three centre-backs were named with the wings back continuing to push high up the field – although this time not exposing the defence. Henrik Dalsgaard was finally given what we will politely call a well-earned rest whilst we still had the flexibility to introduce Yoann Barbet when Chris Mepham had to leave the field of play early. Let’s hope that one was purely a precaution.

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Bolton were industrial in the challenge but offered little resistance to a positive Brentford team.

It all counts for nothing if we put in a turkey of a performance at Bristol City, of course. Yet I’m feeling upbeat. Feeling confident. The good vibe of the Junior Bees Christmas party washed over Griffin Park last week and continued through to the Bolton game when Thomas and the boys gave us all the perfect present.

Today, I’ll be following via the medium of social media or possible sneaking a look towards three wise men shouting at their TVs on Sky Sports News. There’s always the commentary option, too, yet locking myself away with Mark Burridge and an earpiece for two hours will likely be received about as well as HB’s attempts at diplomacy. Moreso when Roger is saving the world.

For those who do travel, good luck. And enjoy! For those elsewhere, I wish you well in whatever option you undertake to follow this one. Here’s to three more points. And perhaps, a bit of Bond….

Octopussy

You could do worse…

Nick Bruzon

Table makes wonderful reading as Brentford beat Bolton to tighten the gap.

14 Jan

Brentford 2 Bolton Wanderers 0. Another league game unbeaten at Griffin Park (that’s 13 now, our longest run since 1951) and The Bees a mere three points outside the play-offs. True, that gap is tighter than a duck’s behind at the moment.  The same winning margin divides all six teams from Sheffield United down to ourselves in 11th. Yet with victory (and other results going our way)  all that stands between Brentford and a place in the promotion slots, let’s not pretend things aren’t getting very exciting as we enter the second half of the season. Saturday’s trip to Reading already can’t come soon enough.

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Form an orderly queue. Bolton were the visitors on Saturday

It was a game where victory eventually came to the team who bossed it yet nobody would have been surprised had we left Griffin Park with a point. Brentford had taken the lead just before half time. Flo Jo picking up a sweet pass from Lasse Vibe to hammer home high and hard from the cusp of the six-yard box and into the far corner of the net. It was a powerful finish to light up what in truth had been a somewhat turgid opening period. But a 1-0 lead going into the break was all that mattered and as the players re-emerged, it seemed only a matter of time before that was doubled.

Kamo fired straight at goalkeeper Ben Alnwick from yards out with the whole of the goal to aim at. Nico saw a shot bounce of the post. The Bees pressed. The Bees came close. Then the balance of play began to swing as Bolton sensed a glimmer of hope. Dean stuck to his starting XI as the pressure built.

The away fans gasped. The home support clenched buttocks. If the first half had been a damp squib then this was very much exploding into life. A freekick was headed wide, I forget who, as Bolton came oh-so close. Barbet and Bjelland the unfortunate victims of a bouncing ball as Daniel Bentley came to the rescue.  Bolton, cynical in the challenge, but desperate for a point.

And then it was over. Sergi Canos, a late sub for Florian Jozefzoon, squaring it for Neal Maupay to double our lead with the sweetest of backheels. Being honest, there had been a slight suspicion of offside from where we were sitting but nobody cared. The execution had been delicious and the sense of relief was palpable. Besides, watching the video highlights afterwards (Sky Sports have theirs up already; 12pm for the league to let us put the ‘official’ version up) there was nothing wrong with the goal. Perfect positioning and the calmest of finishes. Stick that in your pie and eat it, Ian Moose.

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Bolton were left looking dazed and confused by the end

It’s hard to find fault on what was a wonderful afternoon. Brentford continuing their fine, fine form ahead of Saturday’s trip to Reading. There’ll be over 2,000 Bees fans at that one. A quite wonderful effort for a game where the reward for another win is there for all to see. If I have any ‘negative’ (and the word is used in the loosest sense) it would have been in the delay to making any substitutions.

Whereas the Warburton era saw you able to set your watch by his making changes within ‘the zone’ (60-70 minutes on the clock), regardless of how the team were doing, these days there seems to be almost a reluctance to switch things around until late on. Even when the opposition are turning the screw as we saw yesterday. Sitting where I was, there was a definite upping off the the ante from Bolton that might have seen us pay pay the price with the Bees continuing as was.

It’s a small observation and, ultimately, one that will be dismissed by the fact we came away with a 2-0 win. That will be proven as Dean having faith in the players he picked to do a job and their following it through. And on that point I can’t disagree – they DID. Yet equally, football is a game of fine margins. We all saw how tense it got for a while and there have been times this season when it’s felt as though we’ve been slow to react to what is happening in front of us.

But as we all know, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I couldn’t manage a beer yesterday (it’s dry January) let alone a football team. Perhaps that is just part and parcel of being a Bees/football supporter – we’ve been conditioned over the years to fear the worst. To expect that kick in the nuts; that ultimate sucker punch. Defenders are paid to defend and they did that admirably. Chris Mepham in particular having yet another stand out game. Talk about a wise head on young shoulders. Dean made his calls and the result shows he got them right. Again.

Equally, the Warburton era saw a team picked by numbers even when perhaps a change might have been due. Jonathan Douglas (at the end) and Harlee Dean (when he was at the more unpredictable end of the scale) seemingly nailed onto the teamsheet. Dean isn’t afraid to mix things around as was seen with Sergi tied to the bench for most of yesterday’s game. With Mepham continuing to keep out more experienced colleagues.

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Late sub Sergi – insert your own caption

But we digress. That’s the price of writing these things on the hoof. Mark Warburton was a hero to pretty much all of us at Griffin Park. He did his thing his way and we all know how close Brentford came. Likewise, we all know how things ended.

That was then, this is now. Dean Smith is the man in charge. Along with his coaching staff, he’s more than getting the results. More than building a quite wonderful team spirit. He has his team set for a second half of the season that could, if things continue, eclipse any that have come before.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be saying this back in September given the start that Brentford had. Players sold, bottom of the table and four points from eight games. Then, we went to Bolton and won 3-0. How things have turned since that point. Could Saturday’s win over the same opposition prove an equally telling catalyst ?

One things for sure, it’s going to be fun finding out. Here’s to Reading and that gap towards the top getting even tighter.

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The red and white express raced to another win on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

Terry v Terry. Deano v Bliss. Who gets your vote as Bees and Bolton prepare to step back in time?

12 Jan

Brentford prepare to host Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, looking to put the faux pas in the FA Cup behind them and resume recent form. But for the 3-0 loss at runaway leaders Wolves, the Christmas period saw a quite wonderful return for Dean Smith’s boys. The draw at home to Barnsley was followed by that win on the road against Norwich City. This before quite comprehensively outplaying both Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park. It was a run that saw Romaine Sawyers deservedly being nominated for Championship player of the month. Whilst Scott Carson of Derby County may have scooped that prize, let’s not forget Romaine also began December with a goal in the defeat of Fulham. Yet with the club preparing to use the Bolton game to go ‘back to the 80s’, can The Bees use it to get back to winning ways?

DTS694AWsAAcsEi.jpg-large First up, Bolton Wanderers. Early season form has now dissipated. The Trotters’ former position in the basement has been taken by Birmingham City as a run of form not unlike ours has seen them start to break clear. Three wins out of the last four, including 3 pointers against high flying Cardiff City and Sheffield United, has seen them break clear of the triumvirate at the bottom. Victory tomorrow could take them to the giddy heights of 18th.

One would like to think Brentford, with key players rested last weekend, will have enough in the tank to make this another notch in the ‘W’ column. Moreso with Bolton’s top scorer Gary Madine coming under transfer scrutiny at present. Cardiff City have already had one bid turned down but with ‘the window’ open for almost three more weeks, could the club’s resolve weaken? Might this be a distraction for a player who may suddenly remember he has a sick relative in the Valleys or be suffering from a buttock spasm?

The transfer window is never a fun time. So far the Bees have, mercifully, remained free of transfer gossip or rumour. But for one desperate attempt at clickbait from Get West London (not Tom Moore), the Griffin Park in/out doors have remained firmly bolted. Then again, as was seen in the summer, we do leave it late. As things stand though, I can only take solace in the lack of any talk. At a time when the likes of Alex Pritchard are being linked with a £15M move from Norwich to Huddersfield (he was good, but £15m good? That’s a rate of inflation not seen since Lewis Grabban) then let the papers focus elsewhere.

All that angst is likely to come. There’ll be plenty of time left for us to sweat over any potential exits. Even if they do just turn out to be rumours. Instead, for now, let’s just focus on Brentford and Bolton as the club prepare to take a trip back in time. A trip back to the 80s.

Not so much the fighting, quagmire pitches, smoking in the stands, short shorts or the fanzines being sold in the street. We’ve all moved on since then. Instead it is more a chance to don your retro shirt, to vote for your player of the 80s and even welcome a few club legends back onto the Griffin Park pitch. No doubt there’ll even be an 80s inspired #BeeTheDJ (so no change to the normal soundtrack then with The Clash and Madness sure to be amongst the bands played just before kick off).

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Bliss – a club legend and a classic shirt

On social media, the club have already run an article and a vote for shirt of the 80s (yours truly being given a rare run out on Brentford ‘official’ – that one’s here if you’s like to read more and check out that hall of fashion fame).

The latest survey is one to now decide our player of the decade. This is tough. So tough. Who do you go for from four top draw nominees? The colossus that is Terry Evans. The goalscoring record and iconic FA Cup strikes of Gary Blissett. The ferocity of Terry Hurlock. Or club legend, Dean Holdsworth.

At the time of writing, and half way through the 24 hour vote window, things are tight. Deano is ahead although, being quite honest, he’s not a player I’d necessarily associate with the 80s. An absolute hero in the eyes of many, myself included, but he is a player who only played a handul of games at the tail end of the decade before really making his name in that wonderful partnership with Bliss from 90-92.

Still, each to their own. I’m just pleased that the vote has seen a new picture of Bliss emerge from the archives. Rather than those two ‘stock footage’ pics of him in the 91/92 Chad kit or my crowbarred job, a snapshot of a book cover (1989’s ‘100 years of Brentford’), there’s a fetching image of him in that ‘Funky Bee’ kit. Moustache still resplendent (above).

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Bliss – that iconic image (in my eyes) as Manchester City are put to the sword

If you’d like to vote then the twitter link is below. Enjoy. And good luck trying to pick a winner from these. My vote has now been cast.

And that’s me. I’m off to see if I can pour myself into a size ‘medium’ Osca 83-84 home shirt ahead of Bolton’s visit. This could take a while. Let’s just say that time has not been kind in the battle of paunch versus 80’s fashion.

It might just have to be chinos and rolled up jacket sleeves. Unless anybody has a spare….?

Nick Bruzon

Bees win at Bolton but Barbet wins at Twitter

24 Sep

And relax. Brentford thumped Bolton Wanderers 3-0 at the Macron on Saturday to record an opening league victory and move out of the bottom three. With Birmingham City failing to win (again), this time at a Derby County side who come to Griffin Park on Tuesday, it marked a quite wonderful afternoon for Bees fans. And players – for whom three stunning goals scored by Ollie Watkins, Nico Yennaris and Yoann Barbet were the icing on the cake of a performance that head coach Dean Smith has been promising for weeks.

If it was vindication for Dean Smith then what must it have been like for Yoann Barbet? The Frenchman started on the bench after taking what was, quite rightly, considered to be one of the all-time worst penalties ever seen at Griffin Park on Tuesday night. How he got such height from just 12 yards out was beyond the laws of physics in itself.

An early substitution for John Egan (Dean Smith telling BBC Billy Reeves that “He felt dizzy, felt coming off was for the good of the team” after getting a cut lip) saw Yoann enter the field of play. It saw him leave it at full time having been named ‘STAR of the day’. Not my words but those of the official EFL twitter feed. Although words I’d happily agree with.

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Took his chance – and then some…

Sometimes, you just have to hold up your hands. Tuesday’s penalty was horrific. It lead to my own post match column noting that : “We’ve a tradition of centre backs hoofing dead balls over the bar. See also that ill-fated period of giving spot kick duties to number 26 … Likewise Miguel Llera and his attempts to channel Sam Saunders but which were more akin to Jonny Wilkinson. Why not just give it to a striker? A player whose job it it to strike the ball. To find the back of the net“.

Hmm. Ok. That’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace and Dean is the head coach. Clearly there’s something that we don’t see on the training ground because this effort, to open the scoring, was just about as good as it got.

Pick that out. Just about unstoppable and given the space available on the other side of the goal, the last thing any of us expected. More importantly, the last place Bolton expected it to end up. It was a truly wonderful effort.

It was an effort that would later see Yoann win at Twitter. For all the cracks from supporters about the Norwich effort, he nailed things with a clear demonstration of that team spirit Dean has been telling us about week in, week out.

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Yoann wins Twitter

It was a strike that made the final four of ‘goal of the day’ on Sky Sports news and was joined by our second. Step up Nico Yennaris. He doesn’t seem to do easy, that’s for sure. If the one against Birmingham City at St. Andrews last season was special, then this just about blew it out of the park. How does he do it? And so often?

You really had to feel for Ben Alnwick in the Bolton goal. If there had been little chance with Yoann’s curler, then he was left equally helpless here. They could have had two goalkeepers and it still would have gone in. 2-0 up and surely, now, the points secure.

But with the first half delayed by 7(seven) minutes and the second half starting late due to a kids penalty competition still taking place whilst the players were lined up to start, this had all the elements of squeaky bum time in it.

Anything but. Here came Ollie Watkins to heap further misery on Bolton. Ben Alnwick must have run over a cat on the way in because here was another thunderbolt to take the back of the net off. What a strike. You’ll have to catch the highlights on Channel 5 for that one but do take a look. They’re well, well worth a viewing. I’ll update this at mid-day once the Mark Burridge version goes up. It promises to be something very special….

Yoann and team do their thing, officially 

Three nil. Three points. Brentford finally finding their shooting boots and keeping it tight at the back. Dean Smith’s faith was unshakeable, as demonstrated in that aforementioned interview with Billy.

Our head coach was also honest enough to tell ‘official’ that: “I didn’t think we started very well in the opening ten minutes. They got into our faces and we didn’t move the ball as we would have liked but after that we took over the game.” This, before going on to enthuse about “three valuable points with three wonderful goals.” Do check out the full article. It’s been a while coming.

All very well and very easy to do after you’ve won. But still on message. We’ve criticised our indecision when it came to shooting after that Reading game. Even 7(seven) year old Felix Watts getting in on the act when he noted that , “The only thing we had to do today was shoot. Really quickly. When they were in the penalty box at Griffin Park all we had to do was shoot but we kept passing it.

What a way to answer that. But, more importantly, was it a flash in the pan? Or have we now turned the corner? The visit of Derby County on Tuesday night promises to be a huge test for the Bees. But a fascinating one.

Will Dean change his starting XI, again? This was our 12th different line up in 12 league and cup games. Might he have no choice if Yoann has played his way in past John Egan? Were Bolton Wanderers the cannon fodder that many expected or a strong team that felt the wrath of what can happen when we play as well as we’ve done in training, do it for 90 minutes and have that run of good fortune?

Without wanting to get ahead of ourselves, victory for Brentford would take us to within a point of Derby. Victory for the Rams would take them to within a point of the play-offs. This one will be huge and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. See you there….

And on a purely personal note, I’d like to thank Bolton for featuring my own thoughts as ‘away fan’ in the programme column yesterday. Moreso, the picture they used, in the Spall 87-88 away shirt. I apologise for the somewhat gratuitous size – nobody needs yours truly that close up. Yet it is included in today’s column as I’m pretty sure we’ve seen that picture and shirt somewhere before.

Fulham, wasn’t it…..?

Bolton and Fulham programmes

Nick Bruzon