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Coming home or going to Rome? Mowbray or Matterface? Doctor, no.

11 Jul

Sunday. Not long now until England face Italy at Wembley to decide who will be crowned Euro 2020 Champions. Will football be coming home or going to Rome? Yet the main team battle will, of course, be between ITV and BBC. Which channel will viewers opt for? Which set of pundits and commentators will the viewing public choose? Back in Brentford, we’ve the usual transfer rumours (Liverpool  – Harry Wilson – and Celtic – Kris Ajer –  the latest clubs linked to the Bees) although any actual substance is about as rare as somebody joining the England Supporters Band fanclub. So we’ll gloss over that unless time permits.

Besides, it’s all about Wembley today. A chance for the Three Lions to finally get their hands on some silverware. Assuming the Jules Rimet doesn’t count (for those unaware, England  / West Ham did lift that golden trophy back in 1966. If only somebody had said). It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be laden with cliche. It’s going to be a titanic battle. It’s going to be ITV v BBC. But which way to go?

The head and heart immediately lean away from ITV. And there are only two words needed. Sam. Matterface. An over excitable puppy of a commentator, well out of his depth on a big occasion and doing everything possible to get on everybody’s nerves with his OTT enthusiasm. Think Scrappy Doo with a microphone. How many people lost their jobs this week as a result of his giving us all the day off? Oh, the scenes. (cringe).  

What about the BBC? The calm experience of Guy Mowbray in the commentary box. Lineker, Shearer and Lampard in the studio. Along with Rio Ferdinand (used to play for Manchester United. Mentioned it once). The rock solid Gabby Logan out on the touchline with Alex Scott and Jürgen Klinsmann. Plus the benefit of no adverts – although I wouldn’t put it past them to sneak one in there for Doctor Who. They’ve got form at this sort of thing. Sadly.

Who could forget how during the 2014 World Cup final they crowbarred the trailer for the then forthcoming new series into the middle of the half-time analysis. It was a horribly awkward moment. Lineker, for once, seemed genuinely lost for words as any momentum for the second half was immediately washed away. It was a moment that caused the remote control to switch channels to ITV, and for that to happen… 

Then, in 2016, there was the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley between Everton (not a typo) and Manchester United. It should have been one to get the juices flowing but instead, the BBC once again delivered a Tardis shaped turd by using the game to announce the identity of Doctor Who’s new…. ‘assistant’. Not even the eponymous Doctor (like Fox, not a real doctor) but merely his sidekick. 

Please. No. As was noted at the time I like Doctor Who (much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin) and have what could politely be called more than a passing interest in the great game of football. Yet to jam them together just seems like some cheap-arsed attempt to boost audience figures. It is one that detracts from both events. To be honest, even making ‘an event’ out of a new cast member for the Sci-Fi classic seems like an unnecessary stunt, anyway.

So sure, the BBC may have a strong team but they always have the threat of a rogue timelord. Don’t put it past new ‘companion’ John Bishop (a Liverpool fan, I’m led to believe) putting in an appearance to kill the football vibe. 

Let’s not forget, either, that ITV have two absolute trump cards up their sleeve.

Firstly, the wonderful Emma Hayes on punditry duty. We’ve waxed lyrical about her already on these pages and I can never hear enough of her in-game analysis. Then, there’s the jewel in the crown of TV football – Roy Keane. He’s worth the admission money alone for what could politely be called ‘forthright’ views. His duels (think of a cat toying with a spider) with Adrian Chiles were the stuff of legend and he still continues to shine.  

It really IS a tough choice. The BBC aren’t the shoe-in that, at first glance, you might think. Could Keane and Hayes pull Matterface out of the… deep end? His time will come, just perhaps for now he needs the support.

Might the beeb run themselves out with their own self promotion? A hare and a tortoise of a commentary race with an equally surprise ending? Like England v Italy itself, I can’t call this one. It’s too tight. Home or Rome? Matterface or Mowbray? It should be Rocky v Drago. The underdog v the Colossus. But shocks can happen. Cripes, if Brentford can win at Wembley then anything is possible. Roll on 8pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

I, for one, welcome our Turmeric overlords.

29 Jun

Irony is alive and well when it comes to all things Brentford. Or life. It’s amazing how things can come back to bite you but the announcement teased on Twitter by Brentford ‘official’ last night suggested we may have a new commercial partner incoming. In the Euros, there were plaudits all round for ITV and their coverage (not a typo) following the Croatia – Spain game. This, for the performance of Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea women, in the co-commentator’s seat. Then there’s the small matter of England – Germany.

First up, Brentford.  Let me take you back to March 2021. The home game with Nottingham Forest. Yours truly’s programme column started as follows… 

“How much turmeric does one club need? Quite a lot if you are Swansea City, who announced a partnership with The Turmeric Company to become their official supplier for the rest of 2020-21. Rather than for the traditional use in flavouring curries, their products are quickly becoming the gold standard for individuals looking to support their health and wellbeing through nutrition, with their bespoke formula containing key powerful natural ingredients. Not my words, the words of Hal Robson-Kanu. The Wales international being co-founder of the company rather than an amazing leap into the world of Accidental Partridge. Good luck to them. It sounds incredible (much like mushroom based coffee – remember that from a few years ago?) although no explanation is given as to whether it negatively impacts the players’ balance when in the opposition penalty box.”

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon and this announcement from Brentford official….

What does this mean? A new commercial partner incoming? A new shirt sponsor, even? Perhaps nothing more than Matthew Benham taking control of our Twitter account once more and launching another of his cryptic clues ? The best translation I could get for that one would be us signing Tom Ince, son of Paul.

For those old enough to remember, the self-monikered ‘Guvnor’ was also one of the so-called Liverpool Spice boys alongside Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman etc back in the 90s. For the record, the name based on hit parade topping all girl pop combo The Spice Girls rather than any laboratory made illegal substance.

We digress, as ever.  What’s happening in the world of Turmeric? If it is kit related, could we see the new Brentford shirt at the same time? Will the big reveal come today? Might we go for the holy trinity of a Frank Onyeka signing photo being published, whilst wearing a Turmeric sponsored top (suddenly thinks: please, no, not the away colours…….) and brandishing a half-chewed biro?

Who knows? All we can say is that domestic news must clearly be very thing on the ground. On a personal note, and I make no apologies for mentioning this again, the season review e-book was last night up to #5 in the Amazon kindle download charts for football. The meat in a Gareth Southgate / Harry Redknapp sandwich.

The reason for continuing to push this is that ALL monies received from anyone kind enough to download one go to the Rob Rowan Memorial fund for CRY. If you could pick up a copy, it would be the most incredibly received gesture whilst may even provide a few moments of entertainment. A Last Word compendium looking back at how we made it onto the Premier league aswell as including all the programme articles from the season, columns which have never been published on line before (there may be a reason for that). As ever, the link is here.

Next up, ITV football. Cue rant about commentators. About adverts. About Hoddle Twaddle style punditry as cringey as The Spice Boys nickname. About cliche by numbers. Yet for those of us just coming in from work last night, the Croatia – Spain game brought us Emma Hayes in the co-commentator’s seat. My word, how good was she? Somebody who actually explained how the game was unfolding, what the teams were doing and the thought process around it rather than just repeating what the anchor had said or we had all just seen. A genuine breath of fresh air in a seat which has so long been the home of repetitive sound bite by numbers. With the Chelsea manager earning what felt like universal acclaim, all of a sudden ITV may not be the poison chalice it might have been when we come down to the decision of which challenge to watch the final on.

All being well, England will be present in that one. Tuesday evening’s game with Germany is about as big as it gets in terms of history. In terms of occasion. Expect mention of 1966 and penalties. Of ruthless efficiency. Of Joachim Löw sniffing his fingers, wherever they may have been moments prior. Cripes, we may aswell just get a bingo card together right now. 

But also expect England to progress. For all Germany are the historic powerhouse of European football, their performances have so far been a very mixed bag. England, on the other hand, may not be setting the world on fire in terms of blockbusting wins but with 7 (seven) points out of 9 from the group stage and no goals conceded, it is perfect progression. Perfect cup football. Get another win on the board and keep going. Gareth Southgate’s game management spot on, so far.

One could almost say, ruthlessly efficient….

Nick Bruzon

Lloyd Owusu finally did it.

12 Jun

The Forss is strong. Urghh, had to go there. Having successfully navigated Star Wars day, the fourth of May (note: not a real day or joke) the defences were down. Yet with Euro 2020 finally upon us and the mood in Brentford still high (moreso with the confirmation from one source that Fulham DO have to return theirs – see yesterday’s column) today has an extra level of spice. An extra level of excitement. For the home nations, focus is likely to be on Wales but for me, Clive, the real highlight is Denmark v Finland at 5pm. With it already being well documented that the Bees have more players in the tournament than Premier League stablemates Arsenal, today is the big Lionel Road reunion. 

Halil Dervişoğlu has already kicked off the Brentford connection, making it on to the field of play in last night’s opener between Italy and Turkey. A booking and match rating of 3.93 out of 10 insufficient to help his nation’s cause as 0-0 at half-time turned to a 3-0 victory for the Azzurri.

Yet depending on who is selected, tonight could see three out of the twenty-two players coming from Lionel Road. Christian Nørgaard and Mathias Jensen for Denmark with Marcus Forss representing Finland. Its a long way from a Bus stop in Hounslow to Telia Parken in Copenhagen but they’ve done it. With Sweden up against Spain on Monday, it could be a five out of five for the Bees before the Premier League fixtures have even come out.

For those of us interested in these things, the bookies have Denmark as red hot favourites. 2/5 for the win. Marcus is a rather precise 51/10 to score at any time. Christian 37/4 whilst my online provider (used purely for research purposes) isn’t quoting a price on Mathias . The BBC report him fit so go figure that one. Perhaps the lack of goalscorer price is based on the assumption Denmark will be awarded a free kick. Insert wink emoji.

That said, if you are reading, Mathias (he isn’t) let’s not forget that imperious form in the play-offs. Very much a man at the top of his game and so calm in the pressure cooker environment of the second leg semi and the subsequent final at Wembley. Which we won. In case anybody had missed the score. 2-0. Against Swansea. Brentford are in the Premier League.

The highlight of yesterday’s actions being the incredulity poured on the radio controlled car used to ferry the ball form the touchline to centre circle prior to kick off. A superfluous gimmick designed for no other reason than presumably to save the referees wrists additional strain and promote a car manufacturer.  Harry loved it although he’s only just 8 years old. The again, kids love Jar Jar Binks and Paw Patrol so it’s not a great yard stick.

As Mollie Goodfellow wrote on Twitter, “Sources telling me if a player needs to be stretchered off they will simply be driven off by four remote control 4x4s carrying a stretcher.

Still, it doesn’t take to be overly serious. If anything, there’s the ongoing moment of anticipation for when the ball delivery system is sure to go wrong. Could the driver end up being breathalysed? Stick to the Budweiser to avoid any danger there.

Back home, the demolition of Griffin Park continues. Cycling home from the school run yesterday, I had to perform a cartoon style double take on Brook Road. There was the New Road stand to my left but something was missing. Next time… Fly KLM. Not any more 😦 

Delorean Gray on Twitter hit the nail on the head, noting: “Lloyd Owusu finally did it.

Thankfully, there’s plenty to keep us distracted from what still remains a sensitive topic for many. The years spent at Griffin Park are packed full of memories  – good and bad. So many of us grew up there and it IS hard seeing it go. On a personal note, I’m thrilled the ongoing delays meant our Harry had a chance to experience how incredible a place it was. That he has invested in football so heavily is quite wonderful (right now we’re having to watch a rerun of Italy – Turkey). Equally though, and it was Mark Burridge who got it bang on the other week, that Bournemouth game was the moment Lionel Road became home. 

We’ve moved on. Griffin Park has a huge place in my heart but the future lies elsewhere. We’ve players at the Euros and we’re Premier League. The only was is up…

Nick Bruzon