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The craziest day in football history? Bees top the lot as Clem and Bournemouth set the record straight.

19 Mar

No. It wasn’t a dream. I’m awake. Brentford really did come good in the most incredible style to turn a 3-1 HT deficit into a 5-3 win at Burton Albion. Back on 3rd May 2015, the Last Word published a column entitled: Was this the craziest day in Championship history? as the Bees secured a play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth pipped Watford to the league title in the most dramatic of denouements. But yesterday saw all that come crashing back to the forefront of the memory for many reasons. Nonemoreso than the return of Middlesbrough fan and Last Word cult hero Clem. Of Clemwatch fame.

But we can only start up where we left off last night and the result from Burton Albion. If not as significant as that afternoon back in 2015 where our own defeat of Wigan, matched with just about every possible result going our way, saw the Bees reach the play offs for the Premier League, this was one that is at the very top of the list of “I was there” games, Purely in terms of what was a ridiculous afternoon it was from a Brentford perspective.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post-match column we’ve done that one. What a quite spectacular game of football to have witnessed. Following it from home was stressful enough, I can only imagine what it was like being there. An afternoon reminiscent of celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient? Winning the fifth round of the FA Cup at Blackburn in 1989? That game against Wigan in 2015?

Only those in Burton will truly know how good this one felt but if social media is anything to go by then it can only have been up there with the best of the best.  There’s been plenty for those missed who out on this one to look at via the world of Twitter and other sources although, perhaps, in retrospect it was always going to be a special afternoon when Burton gifted Brentford an omen such as this.

Are Beesotted setting up in Burton?

Billy (Grant) of Beesotted fame wasn’t just spotted on the side of a building. He was one of many loving the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the railway station on the way home. As you do.

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon's excitement continues

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon’s excitement showed no sign of stopping.

Billy wasn’t alone. Just when you thought Sergi couldn’t be any more excited to be back at Brentford, his impromptu photocall proved us all wrong on that front. How Norwich City must be kicking themselves at acquiring, then falling too use, such incredible talent and incredible enthusiasm. Presumably the Spaniard has now got home or is he still obliging the supporters with more photos?

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

Bees photographer Mark Fuller caught the moment below as sweetly as one could hope. The next best thing to actually being behind the goal.

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Whilst his partner in media crime (not literally) Sean Ridley proved that sometimes, three words are all you need.

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But perhaps it was the EFL themselves who hit the nail on the head in regards to yesterday’s events.

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Yet to truly call yesterday incredible we also need to look at Bournemouth. Specifically because  Eddie Howe’s team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court/The Vitality Stadium.

On paper, no great surprise given The Swans precarious position but dig a bit deeper and it might not have been such a ‘gimme’ as first imagined.

Back in that 2014/15 season, aswell as charting Brentford’s first Championship campaign the Last Word ran a side feature called Clemwatch. It was a feature borne out of the sudden realisation made, as most are, in The Griffin.

Namely, that whichever team ever popular BBC roving reporter Clem (Mark Clemmit)  featured on The Football League Show would subsequently fail to win that afternoon’s game.

Clem Wycombe toilets

Clem – never shy to mix it up in terms of reporting locations for The Football League Show

Was there any truth to this? Being the jinx conscious football fan (magic pants, lucky shirts, not shaving over a winning run are all par for the course) this needed study. And so over the course of that season Clem’s form was observed from the first week. Surely it wouldn’t be true. But it was.

Aside from some genuinely entertaining features, Clem finished up with a record of 7(seven) wins from 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford.

Clem was at Vicarage Road to see if the Hornets, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday, could match Bournemouth’s result to be crowned champions. Both teams were winning with the BBC clock showing 90 minutes. Then, it happened.

Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1.

Whilst I’m sure that Watford fans will be more than pleased just to have gone up, I do hope Eddie Howe sent a big thank you to Clem. The effervescent reporter may have doomed Watford although, and it has to be said, he brought a lot of joy to viewers along the way.

Clem Clemawatch 30

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

And that was it. With The Football League show disappearing from our screens the following season to be replaced by Football League Tonight (please, please, please never forget what was served up as replacement to Manish and Clem on that first episode) his work in that particular field was done. TV rights meant the BBC would focus on the Premier League and with Brentford failing to beat Middlesbrough in that play off semi final (or any game. Ever. It seems) we went our separate ways. Until yesterday.

With Clem finally on Twitter (@MarkClemmit) he’s been a recent ‘follow’ and, mid-morning, popped up with the announcement that Eddie Howe would be his interview subject on that morning’s Football Focus.

Cue good natured banter to a TW8 based Bournemouth supporter and Mike Grella fan about her team’s upcoming fate. The jinx would surely strike again? Yet the response was a surprising one. Not from Carey but from the man himself, defending his own recent record with the tongue in cheek note that times are changing.

That's me told, then. Clem is back. And better than ever.

That’s me told, then. Clem is on better form than ever .

And sure enough, they are. Bournemouth’s win sees Eddie Howe now joining the ranks of Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert in being blessed by Clem. The jinx has reversed.

What can you say, but:

i) Sorry, Clem.

ii) Congratulations Clem.

iii) Thanks for being a great sport, and

iv) Should the worst happen to Middlesbrough then we can’t wait to see you at Griffin Park next season. Just make sure that if you have a mic with you, it’s pointing at Dean Smith.

And, of course, if you’d like to read more about our past three campaigns and the full Clemwatch story, then you can do so here.

Talking of Dean (puts crowbar back in pocket) we couldn’t finish without going all Ian Moose. Except without the pre-match catering obsession. It simply remains to say Happy Birthday to Dean Smith. Have a great day, my friend.

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Happy Birthday Dean Smith. Have a great day my friend.

Nick Bruzon

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Life after Manish – Football League Tonight crashes on Channel 5 launch

9 Aug

Channel 5 launched their brand new Football League highlights show on Saturday night and it’s fair to say that the reaction has been universal. As an act of bringing fans together, they achieved the impossible as supporters of Brentford, Ipswich Town, Wolves, Hull City, Leeds United – infact just about every league club you could mention – took to Twitter to vilify 5’s new ‘Football League Tonight’ Show.

Quite literally, where do you start? When it was announced that Manish, Leroy, Clem and the rest of the BBC team would be losing the highlights package after 6 years nobody could have imagined what we’d be left with. Indeed, the much trumpeted announcement of a 9pm start time had many of us lightweights genuinely pleased. No longer would the League highlights be an afterthought tagged on catch those who had fallen asleep during Match of the Day.

To make this worse, the choice of Saturday night viewing is a normally awful selection. Something involving Ant and Dec; a singing competition; Casualty. BBC2 at 9pm was screaming out for Clem yet we were forced to wait up until gone midnight for the chance to catch our team in action.

Clem  - much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

Clem – much missed. Washing his hands of responsibility for what came next?

But where the BBC lost out in terms of timeslot, they had everything else spot on. A charismatic host; great pundits; genuine humour from Leroy ; a decent amount of match action; Clem doing his thing up and down the country (and the regular reader knows there’s enough material on that topic to fill a book….)

Most importantly though, they had good highlights. In order.

Words cannot describe just how bad Channel 5’s replacement was. It got off to a fantastic start with a 9pm kick off and that’s about the only positive thing you can say about the show. Despite the potentially decent pairing of George Riley and Kelly Cates, the rest of it was a jarring car crash of a show that made me yearn for Clem.

Football highlights aren’t a hard thing to get right. Show the games in some sort of order and give some interesting analysis. Yet 5 threw that concept out of the window and left us with what was, quite possibly, the worst attempt at a football show since Colin Murray was let loose on us.

The show switched back and forth between divisions in a bizarre manner that suggested the running order had been picked out via car keys in a bowl. The studio audience (why? why? why?) stood around looking awkward yet when one was asked a question, they’d forgotten to even have a microphone ready.

Take me out - please

Take me out – please

The garish and cluttered set looked as if it had been designed by a school kid on day 1 of work experience whilst low budget rotating ‘league ladders’ resembled something left over from a 1970s episode of Blue Peter. And then there was Martin Allen…..

Usually good for a quote, the former Brentford and Gillingham boss didn’t even seem sure of what was going on (much like the audience). “We’ve got Millwall. I think they came down from the Championship” he opined at one point although did provide just one of many moments of unintentional comedy when George invited him to give some opinion on a goal his side had conceeded.

Here you go then, talk me through this” was met with some nervous laughter and the eventual reply “What do you want me to say?”

I could go on. We’re stuck with them for three years but the problems aren’t hard to fix. Show the games, in some sort of order. Cut the studio audience; give us some decent analysis. Just cut to the chase and show the bloody action rather than a level of banter that makes Jeremy Kyle look like Panorama.

When the producers saw that the show was trending on Twitter, they must have been ecstatic, until they read some of the comments. And here are just a few….

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Manish FLT

Nick Bruzon 

Can Matthew Benham prove Clem wrong? Dr Evil??

12 May

With Brentford and Middlesbrough preparing for the return leg of their Championship play off, I saw an interesting piece in The Times yesterday from Mark Clemmit aka Clem of BBC Football League show fame. A well known Middlesbrough fan himself, he used the column to give his own opinions on Matthew Benham’s commitment to the well documented statistical model he intends to implement at Brentford next season.

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Clem’s reporting technique and the somewhat light hearted approach to statistical analysis that had been undertaken in the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature. Long regarded as the harbinger of doom by football supporters, he only saw the team he selected for feature on that evening’s BBC show win 7 (seven) times all season.

Clem finished his season at Watford - who lost the title in the 90th minute

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

It was, as such, somewhat ironic to see him casting his oar into the murky water of statistics in an attempt to analyse Matthew’s plans. Although not as ironic as the fact that he was reportedly at Griffin Park on Friday, overseeing the home team fail to record a win. Again. That said, I’m sure Clem would take it as his beloved Middlesbrough chalking up another victory, regardless of his presence.

Regardless, I’d certainly recommend you try and get hold of this article if possible. And if Mark Warburton is reading, certainly a nice one to add to his future CV. Whilst acknowledging the success, so far, of ‘the model’ for FC Midtjylland in Denmark, Clem certainly seemed to land on the side of the traditional managerial structure over key performance indicators and mathematical analysis.

Fairplay to Clem for trying to balance this out, although his description of Matthew’s Smartodds HQ as “A cross between a giant dealing room and (from the Austin Powers movies) Dr Evil’s underground lair” was one that put all sorts of confused imagery into my head. If for no other reason than who would have been Evil’s mini-me and who his number 2?

Is Matthew Benham's HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil's lair?

Talk to the hand. Is Matthew Benham’s HQ really reminiscent of Doctor Evil’s lair?

Ultimately, nobody knows how this is going to pan out. Mark Warburton could be making a huge mistake in walking away from, potentially, the most progressive move in English football since Jimmy Hill proposed ‘three points’ for a win. I can say one thing though, Warbs will be doing his level best to make sure that the model is road tested in the Premiership. He has shown the fans and the team nothing but the most impressive personal performance since the news broke and , I have no doubt, that will continue.

Friday night will see our biggest game, to date, in living memory. And if you wanted even more intrigue, I saw a statistic that said Middlesbrough haven’t lost an evening game at the Riverside in six years. I have no idea if that is true or urban legend but, regardless, nobody can doubt the calibre of the opposition.

Given how much this game is worth, I’m sure the jinx-conscious amongst us will hope that Clem is in attendance once again. Moreso that Matthew, Warbs and the team give him plenty more to think about.

As we saw in last night’s game between Swindon and Sheffield United, which finished 7(seven) – 6(so close) on aggregate, anything is possible in the play offs. On Friday night, we find out what happens in this one.

Was this the craziest day in Championship history? (pt.2)

3 May

In all the excitement of Brentford lining up a play off semi final with Middlesbrough (highlights now released), we’ve not yet looked at the very top end of the table where Watford and Bournemouth were locked in a battle to see who would lift the Championship title.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Did Clem play an unwitting part in the final direction of the Championship title?

Did Clem play an unwitting part in the final direction of the Championship title?

We’ve come a long way in two years (as Bees have lucky escape)

30 Apr

As Brentford, Ipswich Town, Derby and Wolves prepare to discover which two of us will make it into the play off race on Saturday, Bees fans were given a massive boost last night. Despite a sudden rash of rumours sweeping Twitter, it was confirmed by Manish that although our clash with Wigan Athletic will be the ‘feature game’ on The Football League Show, Clem will not be at Griffin Park this weekend.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

BBC viewers saw Clem at Ashton Gate most recently

BBC viewers saw Clem at Ashton Gate most recently

The Soccer AM debacle - Marcello Trotta just off camera

The Soccer AM debacle – Marcello Trotta just off camera

Is a draw enough with just two games left?

19 Apr

Well, that was all a bit of an anti-climax. After Ipswich Town and Wolves had shared the points with a 1-1 in the lunchtime game, and Derby County were doing their best to lose at Huddersfield (eventually getting a 4-4 draw), Brentford had an excellent chance to close the gap in the play off race. Instead, it ended up 2-2 as Bolton Wanderers were let back into the game via a defensive faux pas to match any of those we’ve seen this season.

Warbs would later describe this as, “A mistake, simple as that”, but what a howler…

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Bolton shirts - penalty area 51?

Bolton shirts – penalty area 51?

View from the terrace - Judge went close with a free kick before providing the assist (on both goals)

View from the terrace – Judge went close with a free kick before providing the assist (on both goals)

Set your watch by those sixtieth minute subs (although 66 is the most popular)

Set your watch by those sixtieth minute subs (although 66 is the most popular)

BBC viewers saw Clem at Ashton Gate for another draw

BBC viewers saw Clem at Ashton Gate for another draw

Damp squibs, no bangers and dressing room fireworks

12 Apr

So that’s what it feels like to be mugged. Brentford were denied three vital points at Derby County yesterday after Darren Bent’s 92nd minute equaliser levelled things up in a game we could have won by a country mile. But with Birmingham City beating Wolves at St. Andrews (where the rumoured sausage protest failed to materialise) and Ipswich Town only just edging past Blackpool, opportunity still remains directly within our hands to reach the play offs.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Sky viewers see Jeff Hendrick 'shoot' as Darren Bent gets into position

Sky viewers see Jeff Hendrick ‘shoot’ as Darren Bent gets into position

Clem waits at Preston for another draw

Clem waits at Preston for another draw

After the storm, some reflection

22 Mar

Talking in the pub last night and looking around cyberspace this morning it would be fair to say I wasn’t alone in ‘The Last Word’ assessment of Brentford, following the 2-2 draw with Millwall. Equally, having shot from the hip and now having had the benefit of sleeping on it, can we take any positives or even just reassess a column written in the heat of the moment?

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Buzette - now head and shoulders above Buzz

Buzette – now head and (almost) shoulders above Buzz

Clem - another game, another draw

Clem – another game, another draw

And Murphy must score…. 66 is the magic number

8 Mar

Just when the Championship couldn’t get any tighter, it does. As Brentford and Ipswich Town shared a point in their 1-1 draw to consolidate 6th and 7th (seventh) places respectively, defeat for Middlesbrough and draws for Watford and Derby (thanks to Clayton Donaldson’s late equaliser) mean that the top four teams in the table all have 66 points.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Woofy McWoofington shows his true colours once more

Woofy McWoofington shows his true colours once more

BBC FLS viewers see Murphy set to pounce

BBC FLS viewers see Murphy set to pounce

Clem can't make it 7 (seven) wins yet

Clem can’t make it 7 (seven) wins yet

Crisis? What crisis?

22 Feb

Normal service was resumed on Saturday at Griffin Park as Brentford’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth saw the Bees back to winning ways once more. It was almost as though the previous ten days hadn’t happened – the only difference being the absence of sporting director Frank McParland who was tending to his leeks or whatever else it is you do on gardening leave. Brentford were, simply, magnificent.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Aswell as 35 yard shots, Brentford also try the 'lining up for a bus' free kick technique

Aswell as 35 yard shots, Brentford also try the ‘lining up for a bus’ dead ball technique

Visiting supporters were in jubilant mood before kick off

Visiting supporters were in jubilant mood before kick off

For a game given the tongue-in-cheek nickname of ‘The tin pot derby’ by supporters of both clubs (as a reaction to the jealous jibes of our, supposedly, more illustrious divisional rivals), it was one played out with all the passion of the FA Cup final. But there is nothing ‘tinpot’ about either of these sides and the celebrations on full time certainly felt like Brentford had won that famous old trophy.

Jota has his eyes on the tinpot

Jota has his eyes on the tinpot