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A topsy-turvy day ends with a lot to be said for sustainable football.

1 Sep

In the end it all came to nothing for Brentford. Nobody in but nobody has gone and the transfer window has now slammed shut. Thankfully. Despite the lemming like collective jumping on the Fosu to Swansea City bandwagon, Tariqe is still a Bee. As are both Joel Valencia and Halil Dervişoğlu. None of those players moving out on anticipated loan with the former, apparently, floundering after Fulham failed to take Matt Grimes from the Liberty Stadium. Fosu having driven all the way to Wales in expectation before that one bit the dust. If you believe what you read. Which I didn’t. It made no sense and just goes to show you can’t always trust the Twitter rumour mill until things are done and dusted. The Athletic, amongst others, convinced it was on. It might have been but wasn’t. Well, I guess you get what you pay for.  Swansea clearly haven’t. Look positive though, its nothing compared to the mess at Barcelona.

Fosu. Deadline Day ended with Swansea trailing in his wake.

What else is there to say? Perhaps, as much as anything, is the question of why the Bees seemed set to offload a man popular with just about the entire fanbase and who has certainly proven his place? At one point it looked like we were going to have to start celebrating Canos Friday instead. And whilst, of course, supporters don’t decide team or managerial selection (thank goodness, based on some of the observations last season) , nobody could deny that this move seemed strange. Which is as much why trying to scratch below the surface will, once again, likely show why yours truly is the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody with any form of influence or input. 

Given his age, experience and development already I’m not sure the advantage to either Brentford or the player in sending him to Swansea? A club shedding players like a snake does its skin and positioned at the bottom end of the Championship table. Temporarily moving out a player who has always impressed for Brentford made no real sense, at face value. Perhaps there were deeper issues we are unaware of. Who knows?  

Maybe it was nothing more than looking to trim a squad that, per the GPG, is now one over the current maximum Premier League size of 25 (excluding Under 21 players).  As they put it, the current number of eligible players over 21 is 26. We still need one to go out. Or he sits on the sidelines. Albeit we have some temporary ‘respite’ on that side of things given Mads Bech would appear to be out for half the season at least. He can fill the somewhat unflattering ‘makeweight position’ in the short term and, as such, we may well see Tariqe in the Premier League.

Personally speaking, I’m just pleased there was no 11th hour bid for one of our ‘first name on the teamsheet’ players. Sergi Canos, Rico Henry, Ethan Pinnock and David Raya are still with us. There was no late, late bid to take Ivan Toney to Barcelona in lieu of the now departed Lionel Messi or Antoine Griezmann. £40m for the later a poor return on the £120m to bring him in just two seasons ago. The Catalan club off-loading their star names faster than Fulham exited the Prem last season. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba taking wage cuts to keep the team within FFP limits whilst another £25m was recouped by the sale of Emerson Royal to Spurs.

Matthew Upson, commenting on the BBC live feed, would note. “For Messi to go says it all. I could not picture it. It has got that bad, we are seeing such a different Barca team – what will the team be like in coming seasons? To see it in thus position, I find it sad.”  

Why? As one source a bit  closer to West London said to me last night: “Why are so many people sad about it? Them and Real Madrid got so much more money than any other team just to maintain their cartel status and bring tourists to La Liga. F*ck ‘em. Get found out and go bust.”

Well said that man. Or woman. Brentford may not be going out and buying the big name players but, instead, we keep on doing our business the old school way. Albeit with a modern twist. Finding untapped talent and developing it. Building a squad through patience rather than remortgaging the house and putting the deeds on the line for an apparent quick fix solution. 

There’s a lot to be said for sustainable football.

Nick Bruzon 

Crash, Bang, Wallop. (What a video).

2 Oct

Brentford will play Newcastle United in the quarter finals of the league cup. A tie with another top flight side the reward for trashing Fulham in a game where Said Benrahma reminded the world just why he is so highly valued. Oh, that second goal. If the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace or others are interested they’re going to have to stick another couple of 0s on his price. But this has to be about the brilliant Bees and a performance that means Championship Brentford have now beaten three Premier league teams this season. For context, that’s three more than Fulham. Who play in the Premier League.

Brentford were brilliant. Fulham were woeful. Dreadful. A top flight team on technicality alone. Certainly not on current performances. Only Michael Hector surviving from the team that were humped by Aston Villa at the weekend. He probably wishes he hadn’t after the public puling down of his pants administered by that man Benrahma en-route to his second, and our third, goal. Pure, pure filth. Something so obscene that by all rights, should have been shown well after the watershed rather than the second half of a late afternoon kick-off. 

Benrahma. So cool, he doesn’t even need to see his man to beat him

Cripes. The run, the turn, the nutmeg – oh the nutmeg – and then the finish from distance. If only to have had a full house there to witness it. Thanks a bunch, Corona. Instead, we had to be content with TV where there was at least the option to rewind and watch it again. And again. And Again. It was that good.

And if you’d like to watch more…..

Will he stay or will he go? (as popular music’s The Clash almost once sang). The transfer window now has an agonising few days until it finally creaks shut at 11pm on Monday night. I’d be ecstatic if he were to stay at Lionel Road. Certainly, there’s no need to sell but that’s not necessarily how it works.

As Thomas Frank himself commented at full time, “Am I confident he will stay? I’m confident that I would love him to stay…But I don’t know. Honestly, if the price is right we are open to selling, but if not we will be happy for him to stay.

That goal was so good, I barely remember our second (and the Algerian’s first). Something, something, something, backpost. It also drew all the attention from our opener. A quite wonderful move involving debutant Saman Ghoddos, who delivered a ball into the box from the right where Marcus Forss absolutely leathered it home. A strike combining equal parts power and placement. It would have graced any goal of the month competition but has already been blown out the water and had thunder very much stolen.

What a reaction from Marcus’ mum though….

More importantly though, it gives Thomas a real selection headache for the Preston game on Sunday. Does he revert to Ivan Toney, who of course got off the mark against Millwall last time out, or stick with the young Finn who seems to have a sledgehammer in his boot? Honestly!! How hard can he hit the ball? 

For what it’s worth, I’m sure he’ll go with Ivan. Our marquee signing will be chomping at the bit to further add to his haul whilst the lure of a rematch with former club Newcastle United is sure to have him even quicker on the toes than he already is. Forss will be a regular for sure. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but if he carries on like this it will soon. Another huge tick in the box marked ‘recruitment’. Who’s laughing now?

The one ‘sour’ note of the evening, and I use that word in the loosest sense, another piece of shameless tie-in obligation. With a hashtag. This time promoting the latest in the Crash Bandicoot series of video games. The competition was simple – spot the eponymous character on the screen and share a picture accompanied by the mantra #FoundCrash. Win a copy of the game.

It was no #novemberkings or #trophyfriends  (never, ever forget) but certainly in our top five. As one North Stand observer noted to our WhatsApp group , “I still can’t fully decide if this is better/worse than the Varney/Kurupt FM cringe off” . 

As shameless a promotional crossover as ever we’ve been obliged to undertake

Personally speaking, Kurupt FM’s visit to our chief executive was one of the best things we’ve ever done. So awkward it was amazing. Acting that, by all rights, should have seen Jon fast-tracked to a cameo role in Dream Team. If only that still existed. Certainly, a programme he knows well – as we learned over lockdown. If you are reading (you aren’t) then how about using your influence to nudge it back into existence. Imagine basing it at Lionel Road…

But we digress, massively. Brentford gave the fans plenty to smile about. Newcastle United are next up in the cup just before Christmas. Dean Smith may well be opening his cheque book. With Aston Villa having been knocked out by Stoke City last night, he doesn’t even need to worry about Benrahma being cup tied. Whether he, or anyone else, can afford the man of the moment is another matter of course.

That’s a question for another day. For now, we can wake up with smiles on our faces. Brentford looked back to their best. All being well we can do it again on Sunday. Preston sure to provide a sterner test than Scott Parker’s starting XI. As one Twitter wag noted, even Crash Bandicoot would have been more mobile than their defence.

Still, that’s their problem. Let nothing detract from the way we played. From that full Forss Finnish. From Benrahma doing what only he can with a quite outrageous goal. From Brentford making our longest journey, and counting, in the League Cup. Bring on Newcastle United in December.

Until then, why not catch up on another piece of brilliance…

Nick Bruzon

Set your alarms for 5.30pm. And also the future.

1 Oct

Well this got interesting. With Newcastle United ghosting past Newport County last night (needing an 87th minute equaliser and penalties), Brentford go into tonight’s league cup tie with Fulham knowing that victory could make us the only club outside of the top flight in the quarter finals. Or are we still calling it the round of eight? Hopefully not. Let’s file that atrocity with Mrs. Browns boys, eXpresso (sic) and the England ‘Supporters’ ‘band’. Only Stoke City, travelling to Aston Villa, remain as EFL representatives.

Seriously……

Forget Fulham. Please. Leave them to their clackers and gin. This is all about Brentford tonight.  This is all about the first phase in what has been a frenetic opening to the League Cup drawing to a close.

The fifth round doesn’t take place until just prior to Christmas. The relentless cycle of mid-week games that has seen us go full tilt towards the final eight clubs now paying for breath. Win or lose, we’ll all be able to concentrate on the league. For a while at least.

With that in mind, how hard does Thomas Frank go? We’ve never reached the quarter-finals before and so this really does represent an excellent chance to achieve that aim. As our head coach noted in Wednesday’s press conference, “Everyone who is involved in this beautiful sport would like to change history and be a part of history. We would like to achieve the first bit of that by qualifying for the Quarter-Final. That is why it is a big game for us.

Thomas also confirmed that Said Benrahma would be part of the squad whilst Saman Ghoddos now has international clearance so is also available. I’d expect the former to start. Presumably a substitute’s role for our latest acquisition.

Rico Henry has a low grade hamstring injury but the medical opinion is that niggle will have cleared up by the weekend. We all know the rest of those faces likely to be fighting it out for a start. I can only imagine Thomas will keep similar faith with the bulk of the team that knocked out Southampton and West Bromwich Albion in the previous two rounds. The bench could be very tasty, too….

As if anybody needed reminding, this one has been changed for TV. The game is live on Sky with a 5.30pm kick off. It’s amazing the amount of people caught out by changes in kick-off times before (something as frustrating as getting to the gates, only to release you’ve left your season tickets behind). I include myself in at least one of those categories.

So, if any prompt is needed, it’s a 5.30pm kick off with coverage beginning half-an hour earlier. Set your alarms.

Don’t forget…

The obvious elephant in the room is the W place. Not so much what happened a few months back but more the fact we can only see that point being bludgeoned to death. One can only hope the commentary team and pundits will avoid the obvious low-hanging front but its just too predictable and easy a target not to take aim at. Which is a shame because this should be all about reaching that stadium again. About two teams who have responded to the start of THIS season in very different styles. About what is to come. 

Stop. Stop. It’s already dead..

As Thomas also said in his conference when faced with the obvious question, “For me that is the past, it is history. What we can affect, and do something about, is the game tomorrow which is a huge opportunity for the team and the Club to write history.”

Well done. I don’t care about ‘revenge’ or any such pay back. For me, if there is any consideration given to the opposition this evening, it is merely to show, once more, what an irrelevance the Michael Jackson fanclub are. This is all about us. About taking another step towards our future and unchartered ground. Another step towards the quarter-finals. Another step towards silverware.

And with all the subtly of a wrecking ball, if ever life for Brentford was all about the future then nowhere was it more apparent than at Griffin Park yesterday. We’ve already had the farewell tours and that absolutely bonkers auction (cripes, I’m still paying for that…) but now the builders really are moving in.

I know a lot of fans find this distressing and, to be fair, it’s not something I’m going out of my way to hunt down. However, with the twice daily school run talking us past the old ground, anything new happening is sure to attract attention. Sure enough, yesterday afternoon’s trip really does seem to indicate that the end is nigh……

The builders are moving in

Still, as is very much the theme of today’s thoughts, the past belongs there. It really is all about the future. That continues this evening at Lionel Road. See you on the couch at five-thirty.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon   

Don’t shoot the messenger. This is worse than Barrymore rapping.

29 Sep

Ring, ring. Ring, ring’. Is that the sound of the telephone in the Parker household? (Thanks, Uncle Justin). One does have to wonder after Monday’s results. Now let’s be clear I take no pleasure in the following facts but with Brentford due to host Fulham on Thursday in the fourth round of the league cup, it’s only natural we look at our next opponents and their current form. Hey, it’s what we do on these pages. Albeit your definition of ‘form’ may vary after last night’s latest defeat. This time to Aston Villa and one which prompted a quite awkward act of self-flagellation from Tony Khan. A man who, per his own Twitter bio, currently has more jobs than the rest of the country put together: Owner/Director of Football/GM/Sporting Director. Perhaps a bit of focus may be in order.

Played three. Lost three. Points nil. Goal difference -7 (minus seven). It’s hardly an auspicious start to a league campaign which has already seen bookmaker Paddy Power paying out on anybody who has invested in Fulham being relegated this season. Don’t shoot the messenger, that’s a fact. Even by their attention grabbing headlines, three games seems somewhat early but the bookies very rarely get it wrong.

Don’t shoot the messenger – this was the offer last night

The resulting act of public humiliation Fulham owner Khan then embarked upon was about as toe-curling as the Michael Barrymore gospel choir clip currently doing the rounds on social media. Rapping as brutal as The Cottager’s defence ; the tune changing key as often as Fulham do managers. Hey, it’s a fact.

Desperately looking for salvation, he (Tony Khan rather than Barrymore) took to Twitter to declare:

I apologize to @FulhamFC supporters for our performance tonight. We’ve looked to add centre-backs since Wembley, I’m sorry we haven’t yet as 2 got COVID + we lost a Free we thought was close + had another issue with a 4th CB. I promise players in + better efforts from this squad.

I should + will apologize repeatedly for that performance. I’m sorry everybody. We all need to do a better job. Everyone at the club for the past year worked really hard to get the team up, & now we need to work significantly harder to stay up. I promise better efforts than today.”

Cripes. He may aswell have added “We go again” for the full house. It got the expected reaction from a fan base with very short memories. Their last stint in the top flight saw a similar record and three different managers in the one season before relegation – Slaviša Jokanović, Claudio Ranieri and Scott Parker all had a go at keeping the ship afloat before, they sank beneath the Thames. Now we’re less than a month in and they already look fatally holed below the waterline. Again.

And yes. We all know what happened at Wembley. That’s also a fact. Well done. Well done everyone. A tactical masterclass in shithousery that has somewhat blown up now and cruelly exposed the lack of depth available. And I’m sorry that’s a fact. Even Brentford have despatched two more Premier League teams than Fulham have this season and we’re not even in the same division. That’s two by the way. Compared to none.

With Brentford looking to reach the fifth round of the League Cup on Thursday night, the Cottagers anti-form couldn’t have come at a better time. No doubt their supporters will claim the tournament an irrelevance in the build up then give it large should they triumph. Fair enough. Yet for the Bees this is an excellent opportunity to keep our own form going. To give those players from the squad a chance to step up and mix it with the first team. Thomas Frank has got that balance bang on so far and I expect more of the same on Thursday.

Marcus Forss will be coming at the bit for another go up top. The chance to lay down a real gauntlet at the feet of Ivan Toney. The same goes for the likes of Charlie Goode, Tarique Fosu, Shandon Baptiste and David Raya. Might we even see Said Benrahma given a start after he came off the bench against Millwall? With the transfer window getting ever closer to finally creaking shut, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are going to need to get their chequebooks into gear if the talismanic Algerian’s future lies away from Lionel Road.

Looking towards Lionel Road?

We love him. He’s amazing. His future surely lies in the top flight. Ideally with Brentford but who knows what may be. Looking backwards or too far forwards are fatal. Don’t rest on your laurels. Whatever has happened has happened. Wishing it away or fond reminiscing won’t change a thing. For Brentford it’s all about picking the best team to Fulham in the cup with half an eye on Preston in the league. Even that far ahead is only to consider the starting XI Thomas may pick on Thursday evening.

Focus on the game. Win it. Look at the current facts. Let the others resort to cheap shots or exposing their woes in public.

Brian Guest x

Marcus had a blinder in the previous round

When the brackets come second, you know it’s BIG news.

24 Sep

For a day with no game (something in itself that feels quite odd at present) Wednesday still had plenty to deliver. For Brentford, our opponents for the League Cup fourth round tie were confirmed. It’ll be Fulham at Lionel Road next week. Elsewhere, there were brackets for Newcastle United, Chelsea came close to the same magical scoreline and in Wales, Ryan Reynolds is the name being linked with a takeover of Wrexham. Yes. THE Ryan Reynolds. The actor of Deadpool andDetective Pikachu fame. Albeit perhaps best we just gloss over Green Lantern.

The new Wrexham away kit needs a rethink

First up, the League Cup. With Brentford through to the fourth round we’ve been handed the chance to make our furthest ever progression in the tournament with a home tie. Against Fulham. Cripes, if only there was some recent encounter between the two clubs that pundits and commentators could bludgeon to death in the build up to this one. And then through the game itself. Alas, not.

Yet if there is something to mention, let the others be the ones to wallow in the past. Its all about the present. About going forward from where you are. 

For Brentford, that’s unbeaten in three games and two Premier League clubs already despatched this season. The performance against Huddersfield Town on Saturday one which saw the Bees back to their best. That indefatigable, keep going until the end spirit seeing us run out eventual 3-0 winners after dominating the game. 

A great team performance on Saturday

For Fulham, its nil points and 7(seven) goals against from their opening two league fixtures. And that’s with the advantage of playing in an empty stadium. Well done. Well done everyone. 

The sweetest part being that their fansite will be obliged to copy/paste this entire article onto their own page – as they always do for anything published on the internet that concerns Cottaging – and thus be reminded further of their woeful start to life this time around. After all the smugness over the summer, it’s great to see them being on the wrong end of a kicking week in, week out.

The Fulham defensive wall needs some work

Anyway, whatever. For me its about Brentford. For going as far and high as we can. Let anyone else worry about themselves. It’s an amusing side story to laugh at but doesn’t detract from the desire to keep on doing our bit. Which we are. Let’s concentrate on Fulham next week when they come to visit. The details for that one are yet to be confirmed although given the proximity of the game, it can only be imminent. Instead, we’ve a trip to Millwall to focus on this Saturday.

However, the big story yesterday was one which came out of Wales where National League Wrexham have the most unexpected of potential new investors lined up – actors Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool etc) and Rob McElhenney (no idea). The club, currently under fan ownership (sound familiar?) has seen 1,223 Supporters Trust members opt in favour of the proposal which would see control handed over (sound familiar ?)  for an investment thought to be worth £2m . To put that in numbers, only 31 voted against  – less than 5% of those polled.

The stage seems set for them to enter, should they follow through of course. For Brentford, the move from fan owners surrendering their shares in return for new investment has been the best deciosn ever made. Matthew Benham has transformed the club through shrewd management and innovative techniques. Whether Ryan and Rob could bring the same tactical nous to North Wales remains to be seen. Smart one-liners and katana blades can only take you so far compared to an advanced computer modelling system – at least on the football pitch. Certainly I wouldn’t fancy Matthew in a fight although he’d win at recruitment every time.

Safe to say the football world will be watching with interest over the coming weeks. Let’s just hope its not like the time Michael Jackson turned up at Exeter City. Or Fulham, for that matter.

And finally, back to the league cup. Newcastle United hit brackets last night with a 7(seven) – 0 win at Morecambe. Six up at half-time, they left it late to hit the magical mark with an injury time o.g. just prior to the final whistle getting them over the line. It was a night that saw former Bees favourite Toumani Diagouraga shown a red card for the hosts – a case of Newcastle score, he’s off the pitch?

“Shooooot” – Toumani is a Griffin Park legend.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea (are we  still doing that?) came close to the same score. Their 6-0 home defeat of Barnsley saw a hat-trick for £71million signing Kai Havertz as a strong looking line up romped home. Olivier Giroud made it 6 on 83minutes but, alas, that’s where things ended. A brace of brackets in one night would have likely seen the roof come off in our house. Instead, we had to be content with the one on a night that also saw Everton hit five.

Anyway, good luck to them all. A win next week could well see us paired with any one of these teams. We’ve tasted cup success against Chelsea and Everton in recent-ish years. I’d love the chance to do it again. However, before that there’s Fulham. And before that there’s Millwall.

Roll on Saturday. Another game on the couch. Another game on the I-follow/ See you there. In spirit.

A cracker against Chelsea at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon 

Come on Brentford. Come on Sergi. The time is now !

4 Aug

Here we go. Tuesday is upon us. The biggest game in our history is a phrase that has been used many, many times before but with Brentford facing Fulham for a place in next season’s Premier League, perhaps it could actually be true this time. At least, if not in our history then certainly in living memory. The chance of returning to the top flight for the first time since that brief, war interrupted, spell from 1935-47 is one game away. Our most exciting team in recent times has the possibility to emulate what could be argued our greatest ever. 

Cripes. This is exciting. Ridiculously so. We all know about Brentford’s past form in the play-offs. An albatross around the neck that has now been removed. A beast of burden that has flown away with the move to Lionel Road. The Griffin Park gypsy curse has now been lifted. That’s not to say that victory is assured, of course, but at least we can start from fresh. Elephants in the room can be talked about and monkeys have jumped from our backs. The five semi-final and the three deciding game defeats nothing more than a historical footnote. We’ve tripped up as many times as there have been Fast And Furious movies (not counting 2019 spin-off: Hobbs And Shaw). Now, all jinxes have been reset. New ground, new Brentford.

Lionel Road 15 Sep 2018

Lionel Road – the early years

Being quite honest, I AM confident. Not arrogantly so. We’re going to have to be on our best to win this. Just because we’ve beaten Fulham twice this season don’t mean a third time around is assured. But why not be positive? Why not believe in your team? That doesn’t make me a bad man. I’m going into this one on the up. Dreaming of what might be at the end of it. Celebrations. Excitement. Optimism. Just reward for what has been a season of some incredible football after a wobbly start. Seeing that incredible run-in, as Leeds Untied and West Brom were slowly reeled in, come to final fruition as we look to join them in the Premier League.

I’ve been to every play-off that Brentford have taken part in to date. Kevin Godfrey’s late equaliser against Tranmere. Kevin O’Connor scoring that first leg-penalty against Swindon. Trouncing Bristol City. There have been some highs. Not many, but some. Yet never quite getting over the line. No moment will surpass the semi-final defeat to Huddersfield Town on penalties. Quite possibly my lowest moment ever as a Bees’ fan – worse even than ‘that’ penalty.

Screenshot 2020-07-19 at 07.10.51

94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

These are mentioned for context aswell as positivity about the feelings that a win will engender. Nobody in this squad has survived even from the Middlesbrough semi at the start of Championship life, let alone further back. They are only looking forward. When it comes to tonight’s game, past results are nothing more than a historical curio known and experienced by those of us in our mid-thirties (and beyond).

The moment is approaching. I can’t wait for it all to start. The team will be in the special blue shirts (good news) and you can bet our flair players will love using the wide open spaces of Wembley to cause havoc down the flanks. And through the middle. Fulham have injury doubts over Mitrovic and Kabano but, at the end of the day (Clive) , it doesn’t matter who they start. This is purely down to us and how we play. Results over the season have proven that there isn’t a top six team that can stop us when we are on fire. Play like we’ve been doing and the momentum will be with us. The destruction of Swansea City last week showed that.

Screenshot 2020-02-01 at 14.05.55

Brentford are back in blue and white

Easy. On paper. In practice, who knows. At 7.45 we find out. We’d all love to be there. Are desperate to be there. SkyBet released the below film last night.

Yours truly was fortunate enough to be invited to take part and, being honest, it was quite emotional. A huge privilege being allowed back through the gates of Griffin Park to help out.

 

H came with me and is now buzzing under the belief that he is the last fan ever to step foot on the hallowed turf. Is he? Who knows? Personally, I’m taking inspiration from his shirt. The boy has a gift for calling games and he’s nothing but full of positive premonitions about tonight. Oh, if Sergi was to score the winner late on I think the roof would come off with the noise.

IMG_8336 2

Is this the ultimate good omen?

That’s all a long way off. I am confident, as noted, but it is with good reason. Confident because I know what our players can do. Confident because I know how driven Pontus Jansson is.  Confident because Thomas Frank has motivational powers unequalled by any previous Brentford manager (perhaps Martin Allen aside). Confident because if all else fails, we’ve still got ‘that’ whiteboard. 

Yet, at the same time, there are nerves at the moment. Perhaps as much due to the anticipation. To knowing how slowly the clock is going to be moving today as it inches towards kick-off time. Hoping we come out of the traps flying.

We took a family trip up to London yesterday. It was like a ghost town but still great fun. We came back via the river service from Westminster to Kew Gardens (always a great trip and about as Corona safe an outdoor activity as you can undertake). The boat went past both grounds  – Craven Cottage and Lionel Road – within the space of a few Peronis. We’re that close to each other. Near neighbours doing battle for the ultimate prize. 

Is it being knocked down, daddy?” asked H, looking at the cranes and bulldozers that lined our opponents three-sided ground. Let’s hope Fulham do, indeed, collapse tonight.

No pressure….

IMG_8452

H embracing his inner Bee at Kew

Nick Bruzon    

Very much behind The Times. ‘He’ doesn’t support us, does he?

3 Aug

Almost there. Monday morning. Brentford v Fulham in the Championship play-off final is little more than a day away. Tomorrow night we walk out at Wembley to see if the most incredible season on record, one which has seen us play the last ever game at Griffin Park alongside the campaign interrupting global pandemic, has the happiest of endings. Yet with the game almost upon us, the age old question as to celebrity fans has reared an ugly head once more. Specifically, the allegation that Phill Collins supports The Bees.

This, the suggestion doing the rounds on Twitter yesterday after the GPG shared  the below.  Utter gumph. Screenshot 2020-08-03 at 07.35.33

Indeed, it was territory covered in the matchday programme for the final Brentford game played out in front of fans – the 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday back in early March (how long ago does that feel now?).

It appeared in response to the same allegation being made by Cardiff City in their publication the previous game.

Screenshot 2020-08-03 at 07.34.04

We all know who our celebrity fans are. Adam Devlin, guitarist for popular music’s The Bluetones. Natalie Sawyer. Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Rhino from the Quo. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Rick Wakeman and  Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). Amongst others. 

Sadly, Cameron Diaz is not amongst their number. Or, certainly, wasn’t unless she has since paid a clandestine visit. A popular urban legend finally debunked with those fatal words a few years back after a tip off from, errr… The full story on that one is here.

Yet like the ever popular Charlies’ Angels star, the Phil Collins story is one that pops it’s head above the parapets every now and again. A story based on nothing more than his youthful visits to Griffin Park. A story that has been clarified by the singer himself. Apparently. 

First glance at his autobiography – where the locally born slush-merchant notes that as the closest big club to Hounslow he used to attend our matches – suggest this may have been true,

Yet scratch below the surface and a different story emerges. In an interview, the Groovy kind of love singer has been quoted as saying that he “used to support Brentford when I was a small boy as I lived not far away. I moved closer to London and lived close to Queens Park Rangers, and had a season ticket for a few years during the great Stan Bowles, Phil Parkes years. I have to say though that I always had a soft spot for the Spurs team of the 60’s with Greaves (a real hero of mine) and Mackay etc….(I could name the whole team but I won’t !!! ) However I lived in West London and Spurs over in North London was too far to go as a lad.

More recently (70’s!!) I’ve kept a close eye on Liverpool and befriended Kenny Dalglish, David Johnson and Ray Clemence. In fact one year they one the championship, we played in Liverpool the same day as the deciding game, and we all got together after the show and had a few drinks. So as you see I’ve spread my affection around a bit !!!

As the aforementioned Bluetone would opine on Twitter following the Cardiff City publication, “So basically he supports any team that accommodates his current geographical location and touring schedule. There’s a proper fan.

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“I support Brentford you say? ” But seriously,  no fan would wear this..

Instead, Phil would seem to have more clubs than Nick Faldo and the loyalty of a half and half wearing snake.

As for Fulham, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork tomorrow night. Their own list is hardly a galaxy of stars. Lily Allen. The pointless chap. Hugh Grant. Brian Guest. 

David Mellor used to support them in the 70s (to the extent of even writing programme notes) before committing the lowest of low acts, that of a grown up cheating on their own team, and transforming into a Chelsea supporter. Nobody deserves that – not even Fulham. Well, almost nobody deserves that.

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Brian Guest – Fulham note him as a fan despite the pain inflicted by the Bees

Nick Bruzon

FA Cup ‘highlights’ build anticipation for Tuesday.

2 Aug

Two more wake ups to go. The battle for the final place in next season’s Premier League is almost upon us. Who will join Frank Lampard’s Chelsea for next season’s West London derby? Brentford or Fulham? Who will stay behind in the Championship to slug it out with the Loftus Road club? Wembley awaits but before that it has played host to yesterday’s FA Cup final between The Blues and Arsenal. 

For the neutrals amongst us, it really was a cracking match despite being played out in front of a near-empty Wembley. Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners in a game that it wouldn’t have been a surprise to hear Keith Stroud had been refereeing. Some of the decisions made were, err, ‘questionable’. Specifically, the second half sending off of Mateo Kovacic when he earned a second yellow for what could be describe as, at worst, a harmless challenge. 

Stroud

A Keith for all seasons

A bitter pill to swallow and, unlike Rico Henry’s red last week, there is no room for any further recourse. At least Brentford had the opportunity to appeal and bring back our man for that blockbuster destruction of Swansea. Instead, this game is now consigned to the record books. Arsenal lift the cup and have now earned the right to be kicked out in the last 16 of the Europa league. Chelsea are left to count the horrific injury cost suffered in this one. More dodgy hamstrings than the deli counter in Morrisons and what looked like a dislocated shoulder for Pedro.

There was a howl of frustration from Mrs. Bruzon when he came on to the pitch, let alone went off. “Urghh – Pedro”. Nothing to do with the player himself but a terrifying flashback to the relentless days and days and day spent watching Peppa Pig when H was much younger.

All I can think of now is blinkin’ Pedro Pony and his whinny voice.” Brentford not feasting at football’s top table had meant, of course, that these are streams yet to be crossed. Until this unfortunate coming together. And with that, the Cup final was ruined.  

Pedro

Pedro Pony

The other big talking point to come out of yesterday’s game was just what font had been used on the back of the Arsenal kit? Bavarian beer house? Medieval? Samurai? Had the designers at Adidas been on the pop when going through the MS Office gallery? 

Sadly, the answer would now seem to be a much more mundane one. Nothing more nostalgic than it being based on the classic crest that adorned their shirt from 1949-2002 before being replaced by the current Clipart. Typeface aficionados can look forward to seeing this in forthcoming Cup and European games.  

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The ‘cup’ font – expect it to be retired by March

As ever, there was controversy. Not so much the sending off but the BBC losing the plot when the added time was announced at the end of the second half. The signal of ‘7’ on the board should have seen a regulation use of brackets. 

Yet rather than go with: “7 (seven) minutes added on” , the live updates on the BBC website went for a quite bizarre mismatch. Whomever was driving obviously had vague notion of 7 = brackets but that was about as far as their basic knowledge of football folklore went.

It was almost as though the videprinter was being operated by Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo. Good moaning. I was just pissing by your door etc etc etc.

How else to account for this mangled grammatical effort?

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And with that, it was all over. I won’t deny a small increase in stress levels when the board went up. And not just because of the BBC setting my teeth on edge. More, due to the fast forward to Tuesday night. Brentford and Fulham really will be in to the last knockings at that point. Will it be a case of hanging on for extra time, backs to the wall defence or throwing the kitchen sink forwards in a last gasp attempt to win the game?

Imagining that moment wasn’t fun. The clock will either be moving at snail’s pace or accelerating at warp factor 10 (don’t ‘@‘ me, nerds) depending on how the scoreline sits.

It’s going to be awesome and awful in equal measure. And I can’t wait. The game is getting ever closer. The moment building. As we noted yesterday, life shouldn’t wished away yet, at the same time, waking up this morning the anticipation seems even greater than ever before. In part this was due to a great game yesterday but, equally, because knowing the possibility of facing both these clubs as part of a regular campaign is only 90 minutes away. Possibly  ninenty-SEVEN (97).

Elsewhere, The Scottish Premiership returned with Celtic looking for their chance to make it ten league titles in a row. Or, as Adam Devlin put it on Twitter…

5lD

And I can’t top that so, instead, it’s a case of saying thank you and good morning. 10am Boot Camp in St. Paul’s Park, Brentford calls (do get along if you are local). Anything to try and exorcise (exercise?) some of those pre-match demons that are already tapping on the shoulder…   

Nick Bruzon

Things are now so desperate, it may be time to channel the spirit of Dream Team.

1 Aug

Saturday morning. The coffee is flowing and the sun is already up in TW8, even if Mrs. Bruzon and H are both asleep. Very much that last moment of calm before the domestic excitement begins once more. Yet rather than a 7 (seven) year old with volume control issues, Brentford v Fulham in the Championship play-off final is the only thing on the mind at that moment. Cripes, there are still three more wake ups and almost four more days until this one comes around. I know life is a precious gift which shouldn’t be wished away but right now I can’t wait for this game. It needs to be now. Please. Any scrap of news is being leapt upon. So high is the anticipation in our house, I  was ‘that’ close to opening some clickbait from Football League World  – “The three reasons this team will win the play-offs” can only be moments away. Instead, there is a scrap of genuine news out there with the announcement of our referee – Martin Atkinson.

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This is good, I think. If only because Atkinson is not a name to conjure up nightmares in the same vein as Stroud, Attwell and Ward (the ‘referees’ rather than a low budget law firm). A quick flick through the Last Word archives only find one reference to him, encouraging free flowing football whilst he has refereed games at the highest levels – Premier league, Europe and Internationals. If anyone knows differently please send in a postcard and don’t forget to mark it ‘Atkinson’ in the top corner.

Cripes, so desperate is the hunt for information I’ve even listened to something called a ‘podcast’. What a great concept. Jonathan Oakes, the Sky Sports EFL reporter, reviews the play-off semi-finals and the big game itself alongside Scott Minto and Andy Hinchcliffe. You can listen on your laptop or download for later consumption. Succinct discussion, informed opinion and a smattering of highlights. This is an amazing idea and is one that, I think, could really take off. You can find that here.

Equally interesting was Minto’s take on Fulham goal threat Aleksander Mitrovic who, of course, missed the game against Cardiff City: “I personally don’t see how he can start when he can’t even be on the bench [for the semi-final]. The fact he wasn’t even an option tells me, five days later, how can he be 100 per cent fit?”  

Opinion is great, of course, and especially when it bigs up your team. Really instilling a sense of confidence in what we can do. Brentford had that little wobble but really bounced back to our brilliant best in the game against Swansea City. What a way to come flying our of the blocks. What a way to put the disappointment of Barnsley behind us. 

Crash: 1-0 Ollie Watkins. 

Bang : 2-0 Emiliano Marcondes. 

Wallop : 3-0 Bryan Mbeumo.    

It was pedal to the metal stuff from the turbo charged BMW, with Benrahma doing everything but got his name on the score sheet. There was the assist for Emiliano, the footwork to create ‘that’ opening in the first half and, of course, the double strike against the woodwork. Had he been able to make it three on 18 minutes, rather than see his direct drive flash across the goal line after hitting the inside of the post, it really could have been a 7 (seven) – 0 bracketing. 

That was then, this is now. We go into this one on a high and I’m desperate to get going. Again. Alas, when we do it will be behind closed doors. With all jinxes now reset, missing out on a visit to Wembley is devastating. I’d LOVE to be there. We all would. Instead, the best we can hope for is the pandemic petri dish of the Box Park or being lucky enough to get a seat in a pub. So near yet so far. The game played out in front of nothing more than a sea of flags and a smattering of visiting dignitaries. If ever there was a time for Cliff to really lose his composure. For Matthew Benham to sneak in a megaphone (or Simon) under his coat. For Peter Gilham to take over p.a. duties then it is Tuesday. This is no place for decorum. It’s a big stadium to fill, with almost all the 90,000 seats remaining empty.

I want to be there. I need to be there. It’s not going to happen. Having watched that many episodes of Dream Team, I’m pretty sure that the only way to gain entry will be to simply stroll up to the stadium in a neon yellow tabard, marked ‘PRESS’.  Whistle innocently and then ghost in via the tradesman’s entrance. 

If only life was that simple. Instead, it’ll be on the couch once more. The beers in. The lucky shirts on. The only real decision to be made one of ‘home’ or ‘away’. Our lucky sofa or sitting in the shadow of the now dark floodlights of our former home, Griffin Park. Roaring the Lionel Road team on from the comfort of a house on Brook Road South.

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It worked for the Wembley assassin on Dream Team

Sadly, there are only three ways to get in to Wembley and I can’t see them playing out. The call is yet to come through from Kitman Bob for an apprentice to help lay out the shirts. Unless his letter has got lost in the post, Matthew Benham is yet to invite me on to the board. The chance of trying to blag it in as a journalist a gesture as futile as the dinosaurs trying to deflect an asteroid.  

Instead, it’s going to be three and a bit days of killing time and waiting for the big one. The chance to be crowned the ultimate kings of West London football. To hit the top flight. Hurry up Tuesday, please.

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Surely it couldn’t work in real life?

Nick Bruzon

Has the curse of 1904 just been lifted?

31 Jul

Brentford now know who we will face in Tuesday’s Championship play-off final. Wembley host an all West London affair featuring the Bees and Fulham. Tuesday night saw the Brentford back to their imperious best as Swansea were trounced by our blitzkrieg assault, sailing back to Wales on a river of their fans’ salty tears. Oh, that amazing video 😉 . Well played there by @SwanseaAnalyti1 , just in case there had been any doubt about the Swans’ first leg tactics. The Cottagers, meanwhile, limped through on the wrong end of a 2-1 home defeat by Cardiff City yesterday evening. Whilst they have the aggregate win, Scott Parker’s face afterwards said it all (not for the first time).

Tuesday night is going to be huge. We all know the financial implications of going up. We’re all looking for the ultimate in bragging rights. Brentford are currently the kings of West London football based on results between our teams this season. Confidence is high but this now boils down to one more game. One more assault. One more chance to show the world what this team is made of. Said Benrahma has just been named Championship player of the month for July but rather than being the jinx these things have been rumoured to be, has a curse been lifted?

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Back when Griffin Park became our home in 1904, a gypsy camp had to first be removed from the orchard on which it was built before work could begin in earnest (sound familiar?). Rumour has it that a curse was placed, saying the club would never amount to anything, or some such words, until we left. Well, with Swansea City being the final visitors then, as it stands, Brentford are technically now playing at Lionel Road. Our next game takes place on the neutral ground of Wembley and then we run out at the new stadium. As such, has the curse now been lifted?  

I for one, am saying yes. Based on no more scientific knowledge than blind optimism and a healthy respect for football tradition and jinx-factor. Orange balls MUST be used in the snow. Proper use of brackets after 7(seven). Extra strong mints mid-game. Haribo Star mix after goals have been scored. Never shave on a winning run. Never wash the lucky shirt. The same pants must be worn (the jury remains out on whether they should be washed) . Clem. As for Clem, well we could write a book on his powers – and if you’d like to read more……. 

Clem Barnsley Clemwatch 27

Clem – had his moments but has since turned the corner

Let’s hope it is the case, given our past form in the play-offs. Move along, nothing to see here. Quite literally. Instead, we’re all set for ninth time lucky. No amount of Matthew Benham urinating in the corners (hypothetically, I hope….) or the board sprinkling holy water in each goal mouth  – the two standard techniques for ‘curse removal’ – has so far resulted in us being able to take the ultimate step. So they’ve just done the next best thing and moved grounds.

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Griffin Park this week. Tread carefully in the corners.

Now, Kitman Bob has the needle and thread out. Dates and Teams are being added to shirts in that cup final tradition. Again, one which hasn’t worked that well for us in the past but who cares? All bets are now off. Everything is reset. We can start again. In theory, Wembley could become the happiest of hunting grounds. Don’t shoot the messenger….      

There’s a lot to talk about between now and Tuesday evening. For now, we’ve enjoyed the moment of Swansea but that’s been and gone. Just as we don’t dwell on Barnsley there’s nothing much to be gained by reflecting too much on the the good. All we can do is look forward. To know we are 90 minutes away from playing the biggest clubs in the land on a regular basis. And also Leeds United.

Bring it on.

Time for Bob to get his needle and thread out

Nick Bruzon