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Near brackets, no Dalsgaard, shirt news and a Bee appears in France…

6 Sep

My word. Who’d be an actual journalist for a living at times like these? What do you talk about when there’s nothing to talk about? Apart from trawling Twitter or making rumours up. Thank goodness for the blogger’s ability to pick up, and put down, the keyboard as and when the feeling takes hold. To be able to play around with photoshop, on an ad-hoc basis,  just for the fun of doing so. Another International break symptomised this perfectly with last week’s humping of Derby County already feeling an eternity away. Instead,  primary focus in our house now being on Gibraltar. They restarted football proceedings for us last night and ended up one shy of a home bracketing against Denmark. It was a game which saw the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford start on the bench. England have their own run out on Saturday against, well I don’t even know being honest. Without checking. Looks at internet – Bulgaria.  It is the easiest qualifying system since records began in a tournament that it is practically impossible for any team with pretensions of ‘being any good’ not to make the final rounds. Even Scotland are still in with a chance at present. Mathematically.  Back on the club scene we’ve talk of the Kurupt FM Brentford away shirt aswell as an overseas appearance for our fan engagement office, Ryan Murrant, Plus the latest on The Last Word Fantasy Football tournament.

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Gibraltar packed their boots for another Euro qualifier…

First up, Euro 2020. Regular readers may be aware of the family connection that sees yours truly focus on Gibraltar whenever an International opportunity presents itself. As ever, the Sky Sports smudge button was pressed as the boys from the Rock had their latest run out on Thursday. That is, the Gibraltar first team rather than Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage although, to be honest the home side could have done with the aforementioned A-listers to break in to the Danish defence. 

Whilst any Bees fans tuning in for a look at Dalsgaard would have been disappointed by his absence, such was the impression made by visitors Denmark that even had he started, opportunities to see our man in action would have been slim to zero. An early goal against. A dubious penalty just after half time and it was game over. Well 6-0 saw it technically game over at full time but it was never really game on. There was to be no close run battle with illustrious visitors as had been seen when the Republic of Ireland came to play. Instead, dreams of another notch on the victor’s bed post will need to remain a dream. For now. 

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If only…

As for England, well of course we’ll be watching. The Griffin have the game on the big screen for those wanting to try and recreate that incredible World Cup atmosphere. Albeit, a group of five teams where the top two go through by default doesn’t have quite the same level of jeapordy as 2018’s penalty shoot out. But one can’t deny these occasions are always fun and, if nothing else, its always a great opportunity to get out at a time when we are starved of a Championship fixture. I really can’t see anything beyond an England win in this one. The days of the international surprise, at least in qualifying, are few and far between these days. As Gibraltar know too well. Perhaps Scotland will prove us wrong this evening. Stranger things have happened…..

The Griffin and England football – always awesome

With no on-pitch action at present, the major talking point at Griffin Park has been the much rumoured Kurupt FM take on the away shirt.

Screenshot 2019-09-06 at 16.28.48I took a wander past the club earlier this week and spoke to a very well connected source who suggested that a shirt is most definitely coming . And all being well, next month. 

This is cracking news and the line to pick these beauties up is sure to be a long one. Especially as I understand that we’ve already run out of adult M and L away shirts (albeit more are on order so stand by your metaphorical guns, Ecoworld fans).

Next up, Ryan Murrant. We all know about our Fan Engagement manager’s social media presence and his wonderful role at the club . About the gold award for Family Excellence given to Brentford last season. But what about the man himself?

Well, if you’d like to know more (to coin a phrase we’ve not used in a while) then how about this piece on French website ’fanstriker’ . It’s in depth and then some but paints a fascinating picture on behind the scenes life at Griffin Park. Enjoy…

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And finally, Fantasy Football. We’re now four weeks in to The Last Word FF league. Four rounds are down and only one player, Simon Burns, is left with a 100% record after the weekly head to head games. Remember, there’s a shirt for the winner so keep those transfers coming and those teams fresh.  

And if Ryan is reading, that’s fiftieth (50th) place so far for his own ‘Enter Team Name’. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint…..

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Nick Bruzon

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Team 54 becomes team 65 as Bees welcome new boss and Gibraltar go again.

17 Oct

Well that’s been all go yesterday. With Dean Smith having joined Aston Villa last week, Brentford announced the news that everybody associated with TW8 was expecting – namely, the appointment of Thomas Frank as the new head coach. With Leeds United fans still, seemingly, upset about the performance of ref Jeremy Simpson during our recent draw at Elland Road, their goalscorer Pontus Jansson is facing an FA charge for his own post-match comments. Over in Europe the UEFA Nations league has dominated international break with the headlines being made not by the new-fangled theme tune but by Gibraltar, who have broken their international duck in some style.

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Thomas opted for ‘signing shirt’ rather than ‘scarf aloft’ or ‘fake contract’

First up though, Thomas Frank has now been named as the new Brentford head coach. It is news which has surprised nobody, despite the best efforts of the bookmakers to talk up anyone from Roberto di Matteo to Marinus Dijkhuizen (pity anybody who ‘invested’ there at the terrifying odds of just 33-1). With Thomas being an integral part of the Griffin Park back room staff since December 2016, and his clearly visible role on match days, there was really only ever one name in the frame. Continuity being the absolute name of the game here.

Chief executive Mark Devlin used Twitter to reflect that : Thomas has been an integral part of our development over the past two years and deserves this opportunity.

Co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen followed up his own words at last week’s fan forum by noting how: “Thomas knows the Club’s strategy inside out and he is both respected and supported by players and staff at the Training Ground. He has played a major role in the development of our style of play over the past couple of years and we believe he is ready for the job as Head Coach.”

You can read that article in full on ‘official’. Albeit, I can’t imagine there are many who haven’t been there yet.

Yet the most intriguing tweet comes from Jonathan Burchill, whose statistical nuances are very much in the line of a Luis Melville when it comes to niche. And then some. He notes how : In last 40 years Brentford have had 4 promotions. 3 of the successful managers were internal club appointments: Warbs (13-14), Andy Scott (08-09) & Phil Holder (91-92).  The 4th being the promotion season of 98-99 where Noades appointed himself.

It’s an obvious appointment. It’s a sound appointment. The players know and respect Thomas. The fans are familiar. There’ll be no tip-toeing around getting to know each other. As pertinent, and as Jonathan noted, we’ve considerable success at Griffin Park doing things this way. Whilst I’m just the numpty on the terrace, this one seems a complete no-brainer even to me.

The only two questions I have at present are, firstly, whether Thomas will continue with rotating the captaincy? One would assume so, given the talk about this at the fan forum. Equally though, as an idea that Phil Giles confirmed was originally put forward by Dean Smith is it one Thomas will take forward? I hope so. If only to see Neal Maupay given the role at St. Andrews or for the return Leeds United match.

Secondly, and perhaps the most important of all. What will his match day attire consist of? Tracksuit manager, sports-casual or smart suit. Whilst current indications suggest the former, who knows what difference the new role might make to his own sartorial stylings. Roll on 3pm Saturday when we find out.

As for Leeds United, we’ve skipped over the post-match nonsense and barracking of Jeremy Simpson on these pages since that game. Largely because its all a bit pointless.

Shocking news –  supporters feel hard done by and blame referee for both their own inability to win a game and recent blip in form after a storming start to the season. Who’d have thought it?  Seemingly, one (correct) penalty decision given to tinpot/little etc etc Brentford is the reason for their own slip from the automatic positons into the play-off zone. Something that, for the record, I am sure will only be a temporary one.  

Pontus Jansson, their goalscorer that day, has now been charged by the FA (as have the club for fans throwing objects at Neal Maupay) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There’s talk of conspiracy, too. Seriously? Get a grip. They’ll no doubt get over it. Jansson will no doubt be found guilty of charges he has until 5pm today (Wednesday) to respond to. Leeds will no doubt be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. They’re too strong. They’ve too much backing and Sky Sports love them (another game moved now, along with our own Monday night trip to West Brom. Joy). What conspiracy?

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Neal’s penalty was well received by players and fans alike

I could rant. They can rant. They can nibble at the obvious fishing-rod emoji. It’ll change nothing. Let’s focus on ourselves. Let’s be gutted by not taking three points in a game that was there for the taking. Let’s see how Thomas rallies the troops to go one better at home to Bristol City on Saturday.

Next up, Gibraltar. Wow. After 22 consecutive losses in competitive football since they became the 54thmember of UEFA back in May 2013, the tiny nation (think an international Brentford if you want some comparison of general commentating cliché and relative size) has finally won a first game. And then another. Much like our own 65 bus, you wait ages and then two come along at once.

Saturday’s 1-0 win in Armenia was followed up by last night’s 2-1 win at home to Liechtenstein. A first ‘official’ win on home soil (friendlies not counting) and the first time they have scored more than two goals in a game. It was wonderful stuff to watch and about as tense as it comes with an additional 6 minutes of stoppage time added at the end.

Sky sports may wind us up with their Leeds United obsession or fixture shenanigans but the ‘blue button’ option was a life saver last night. Fuzzy feed from Gibraltar being beamed directly into sub-channel six and an opportunity to watch history being made. Sensational stuff.

Sensational, that is, until the ref blew for full time. Within about ten seconds the post match euphoria had been killed. Instead of players celebrating or excited interviews, the live stream was replaced by the footballing equivalent of the test card.

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Talk about a post-match passion killer

What can you do?  With Armenia beating group leaders Macedonia, this one is suddenly wide open. Miracles can happen. Gibraltar are now vying for top slot in group D4 and promotion to Group C where they may then be afforded the chance to play some of the bigger teams in Europe. Or Scotland.

All that’s a long way off. For now, it’s all about enjoying the moment. And what a moment it was.

Getting back to all things Brentford, the eagle eyed amongst you may have seen further progress at Lionel Road. With the South stand dominating the horizon, work on the East stand is now clearly visible. Whilst the groundwork has been underway for months, anybody approaching the site can now see clear evidence of one ‘end’.  

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The second stand appears

These are exciting times. I’ve no desire to wish my life away but, by the same virtue, things at Griffin Park at Lionel Road and on The Rock are all on the up. I can’t wait for more.

See you Saturday. Bring on Bristol City…..

Nick Bruzon

Get the goal, slow it down and secure the win. Easy !! And a possible ‘best ever’ shirt.

26 Mar

Well that was some weekend. Despite Brentford not being in action due to International weekend, the cause of our lay off has not been without it’s talking points. Alan Judge completed an emotional return to the Republic of Ireland team despite his side going down in Turkey. England fans completed an embarrassing return to Amsterdam despite the team going on to register a win. Over in Gibraltar, Liam Walker of Notts County scored the only goal of the game as the boys from the Rock beat Latvia 1-0, despite never having previously registered a win as a full member of FIFA. Get in you beauties! And could Andreas Bjelland be turning out in the mother of all shirts for Denmark tomorrow night?

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What a win for Gibraltar

We can only start with Gibraltar. Despite being 16/1 to beat a Latvia team who sit 75 places above them in the FIFA rankings, a return to the Victoria Stadium across the road from the airport after a two year soujourn in Portgual came with the most wonderful of results.

You can’t ask for anything more than a clean sheet, a goal and a win on your return home. And that’s what we got. Liam Walker stepping up after a tense game to hit the most delicious of dead ball winners, Sam Saunders style, with the clock almost at it’s denouement.

What a moment.  A first victory on home soil. A first victory as a FIFA member. A first clean sheet in, erm, some years. Regular readers to these pages will know of Gibraltar’s goals ‘against’ being the international equivalent of Birmingham City or Leeds United. Fishing the ball out of the net has been a lot easier then putting it in there. A statement that is made with absolutely zero offence intended. A statement made by somebody who has played (badly) at the same stadium that Walker made his mark and who was there as Belgium went beyond brackets late last summer.

The strides that Gibraltar have made on the international stage since becoming members of UEFA in 2013, for a nation of their size, have been vastly impressive. Both at international and also club level where Celtic were, of course, beaten by Lincoln red Imps in a 2016 Champions League Qualifier

And now we have a win. This is a moment of huge significance and how appropriate that it is Liam Walker who should get the goal. The record cap holder and, with this strike, heading to the top of the scoring charts. Whilst the Chipolinas and Casciaros of this world are, perhaps, the household names it is Walker who is currently ploughing a lone furrow as Gibraltar’s ‘export’ to the English football league.

Plying his trade for a Notts County team very much at the business end of the League Two table. A Notts County team that knocked Brentford out of the FA Cup in the third round and for whom Walker came on to the Griffin Park pitch to shore things up late on when the teams met back in January. We noted then his prowess and now it has been demonstrated in the most visible and global of styles.

Get the goal, slow it down and secure the win. Next stop, the Nations League in the autumn. Easy. In theory. I can’t wait.

The. Moment. Danny Higginbotham, eat your heart out

Before that is the World Cup. Whilst Ireland didn’t make it this time, we can’t let the moment of Alan Judge’s return to international football pass without mention. If Gibraltar’s win was of huge national significance, Alan’s own appearance was equally significant – purely for personal reasons.

We all know how he was set for Euro 2016 until that horrific assault at Portman Road left him with a double leg break that has taken the best part of two years to recover from. It is a journey that we have all taken alongside him in spirit although one cannot begin to envisage the tremendous psychological and mental fortitude that has been required to get him through what must have been some dark hours. Let alone the physical recovery.

Alan’s tweet – simple but beautiful

To see Alan put on a Brentford shirt once more has been a thing of beauty for Bees fans. Yet to see him in his national shirt really was the icing on the cake. Congratulations, Alan. What an honour and what a moment. Here’s to the next set of qualifiers…

The current round of friendlies concludes this Tuesday with Andreas Bjelland, Henrik Dalsgaard and their Denmark team entertaining Chile. Ordinarily, I’d call this as April fool but we’re a few days early. However, it would seem that when they  run out against Alexis Sanchez and co, the Danes will be wearing a quite unique shirt. One that celebrates their heritage and has been, apparently, put together by the fans based on classics over the years.

I hope this is true. It’s so bad it’s brilliant. Very much the Nicolas Cage of football shirts.

I’d love one.  

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Is this for real ? Wow !!

Nick Bruzon

Success for Gibraltar in FA Cup. Defeat for Brentford at home to Notts County.

7 Jan

Brentford 0 Notts County 1. A result that it sure to cause a few rumblings on the Richter scale of FA Cup shocks. None moreso than because it means Gibraltar, currently placed 205th in the FIFA World Rankings, have representation in the fourth round. Size and reputation counted for nothing with talismanic Gibraltarian International Liam Walker proving key to the Magpies’ cause. He came on at the death to ensure County broke Brentford hearts and condemn the Bees to defeat despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at the visitors. A shame it hadn’t happened 90 minutes earlier.

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There had been so much optimism before kick off

I’ve seen Liam in action twice this season and neither appearance has been a happy time for the Brentford. The first being the occasion of a World Cup qualifier at the end of August. Despite his best efforts – very much the star performer for Gibraltar in that one – Belgium finished it by taking their visitors beyond brackets and close to double figures with a 9-0 win in Liège.

It was the same day Maxime Colin and Jota joined Harlee Dean in the triple transfer to Birmingham City. Fortunately, things would eventually settle down for the Bees on that front and form would return, quite spectacularly. Not so much for the Blues. Equally spectacularly.

On Saturday, the boot was on the other foot. It was the away team, again inspired by Walker, who came away with a result that the bookmakers had failed to anticipate. It was the home team – picked by Dean Smith – with a performance that was dialed in against one of spirit, fight and a desire to win that the Bees had failed to anticipate. They’ll have been dancing in the streets of Gibraltar last night.

That, or Sax II.

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Yet it proves, yet again, what happens when you underestimate the opposition. See also: Walsall at home in the third round two seasons ago. As expected, changes were made but there was enough first team experience in the starting XI and on the bench to have done better. Much better. It was an opportunity for players to step up, seize the opportunity and shine. Sadly, the only ones to do that were Notts County.

All the talk in the media would be of Jon Stead’s goal. True, it was very special. Yet it should have been as much about Notts County putting in a complete and consistent team performance. From the moment of kick off to the Walker inspired denouement. The Magpies showed it in spades. The Bees looked second best.

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All over at full time – Walker the winner.

Dean Smith would use his post match interviews to declare, “It was probably not what we deserved”, adding “I thought we had the lion’s share of possession and bossed the game for large periods. I certainly didn’t think we deserved to lose.”

As has been said oh so many times, that’s just not how football works. I’ve got huge respect for Dean but he’s wrong on this one. Chances count for nothing. Neither do possession stats. Balls in the back of the net are the only thing that matters as a means of measuring progress to the fourth round on paper.

For the record, the game ended with possession of 53%- 47% in our favour. Less a Lion’s share and more a narrow margin. The goal charts ended 1-0 in Notts’ favour. Equally narrow but that’s all they needed.

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At least Buzz and Buzzette got their hands on the cup

I suppose we can concentrate on the league. And that IS a good thing from some respects. IF we are going to go for it. The gap to the bottom three surely already too huge whilst the play-offs are just six points away. A concerted surge towards the top and this will be nothing more than a statistic in the record books. At least, for our top brass.

Yet for the fans, the FA Cup is still huge. And the chance for a run in this oldest of tournaments is always something to get supporters salivating. Tin foil trophies had been made in the morning. Some long journies undertaken to get to Griffin Park.

We had the ability to win it but too often the Bees looked out of shape. Captain Josh McEachran unable to lift his team. With Lasse Vibe and Andreas Bjelland missing (in the the club shop), Ryan Woods missing (in the pub, but on the soft drinks) and Nico Yennaris just missing, we lacked our solid spine. Players had the chance to make a name for themselves. They didn’t take it.

On the flip side, Emiliano Marcondes, making his debut, showed those first flashes of the potential we have all read so much about. Indeed, but for that Walker inspired backs-to-the-wall performance in the final few moments, things could have been different when the Dane’s header came back off the post.

But with County looking solid as The Rock, not even the wonderful Alan Judge could make a difference. He looked sharp, fit and fast as he made a long overdue and thrilling return to the side. There was no challenge shirked and one moment of genius to free fellow substitute Ollie Watkins that had the crowd on their feet, anticipating a goal. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

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Alan Judge in full flow – very much a sight for sore eyes

We’ve lost in the Cup before. We’ll do it again. The saddest thing about Saturday was that lessons of the past should have been learned. Yet when the club hadn’t even put FA patches on the first team shirts, perhaps our longevity in this tournament was pre-ordained.

At home, our own third round ritual of making the tinfoil trophy ended with it the replica cup being consigned to, then retrieved from, the dustbin. “Daddy. Do we have to throw it away? Can’t we keep it for next year?” asked HB. Not even I’m that mean and so it was duly salvaged. With optimism like that, it’s tough to be overly despondent this morning. It’s just a shame we’ll have to wait 365 days to feel it once again.

All that remains to be said is congratulations to Notts County, Liam Walker and Gibraltar. The FA Cup loves to throw up a story and with the Magpies in wonderful league form too, could this be the year they are the underdogs to make a run towards Wembley?  The year that Gibraltar, whose previous international ‘highlights’ include conceeding the faster ever International goal (Christian Benteke in 8.1 seconds in the opposite fixture with Belgium) and equalising against minnows Scotland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Hampden Park, make that next step up on the World stage?

That’s my one consolation from this one. And I’m clinging to it.

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A solitary Gibraltarian flag held aloft at Griffin Park

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Another Brentford cup run consigned to the wastebin of Griffin Park history

Nick Bruzon

I’m glad I support Brentford rather than one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond. And Dean speaks

5 Jul

Football is slowly waking up. This time last year, we were talking about Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar beating Celtic 1-0 in the Champions League qualifiers. Quite possibly the most embarrassing results in Scottish football history (to add to an already long list) yet last night they were equalled by fellow Glasgow side Rangers when the fourth best team in Luxembourg, part timers Progrès Niederkorn, knocked them out of Europe. And closer to home, Brentford boss Dean Smith has been up in front of the Sky sports cameras.

Ordinarily these pages wouldn’t look at the Scottish game but Rangers have held a bit of a fascination in recent years, given the circumstances which saw former Brentford boss Mark Warburton both join and leave the Ibrox club. “You walk around the stadium, the first time for me this morning, and you smell the history” he said upon becoming their manager in June 2015.

I’m sure this morning they’ll be smelling something rather different North of the border and Warbs will be very pleased with his decision to resign prior to joining Nottingham Forest. Internet bookmaker PaddyPower have already declared Celtic as league Champions prior to a ball being kicked although, to be fair, most bookies have them as 1/9 on at best to lift that particular silverware.

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Other bookmakers are also available

For all the ongoing talk about these two ‘giants’ of Scottish football joining the English Premier League, the totally one sided nature of their domestic league along with results such as those against Progrès or Lincoln show how out of touch they sadly are these days. A point made all the more apparent as after limping past the Gibraltarians last season, Celtic then endured complete capitulation in the group stages, failing to reach the Europa League whilst also suffering a 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Winning at home is nice, but to watch such consistently uncompetitive football must become a somewhat soul destroying affair. Where’s the genuine competition? Where’s the excitement? What’s the point when you win your league by a country mile or get kicked off the park the moment the competition hots up a bit. With your closest historical rival a shadow of their former selves, it really gives off the impression of going through the motions. Give me the Championship any day of the week.

Which is why the return to our own league campaign cannot come soon enough. Nobody could claim this division is one sided. Anything but, with Newcastle United’s title win going right down to the wire last season whilst Brentford have claimed more than their fair share of illustrious scalps over the last three campaigns. Three top ten finishes have surprised more than a few people outside of TW8 (most notably Ian Holloway) and I’m desperate for us to give this division another try.

The good news is that the Bees are now back in training and yesterday, ‘official’ released a video of head coach Dean Smith talking to Sky Sports News.

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Dean Smith spoke to Sky

In the interview, which you can see below, Dean sounds über positive. He talks about having had lots of fresh ideas and sharing our own sentiments that its good to be back after a long break. He has confirmed his top six aspirations along with a desire to keep hold of last seasons squad. Moreso given our strong finish to the campaign.

Then, somewhat randomly, the interview changes tack with the second half being taken up with a discourse on penalties. The recent England – Germany U-21 game. Dean Smith’s philosophy on penalty taking. As a player and as a head coach. It went on. I was half expecting him to be quizzed on Marcello Trotta.

A shame really,, as this was a somewhat wasted opportunity from Sky to dig into our plans, our set up and mindset. To find out how Dean has continued the great work already done by Warbs, Lee Carsley and, of course, the team behind the team.

A missed opportunity?

Then again, I’m more than happy being the underdog. Being that unfancied, under the radar team. Catching the likes of Leeds United, Derby County, Aston Villa, Mr Holloway et al with their pants down.

Nobody can deny the likes of Rangers and Celtic have huge stadiums, even bigger fan bases and plenty of historical honours. Likewise that Griffin Park is still only a 12,000 capacity ground with a trophy cabinet that is emptier than Arsenal’s.

But who wants to be the one big fish in a rapidly stagnating pond of tadpoles? A fish that gets gobbled up the moment any invasive species appears from the continent. The Championship, and beyond, is where it’s all at. Where the real action happens. Where real football takes place.

It’s July 5th. This time next month proceedings begin in anger with out trip to Sheffield United. I really cannot wait. It promises to be even bigger and better than ever before.

Nick Bruzon

As Scott celebrates, what about the rest of us?

7 Oct

For an International break (Estonia v Gibraltar being tonight’s big one) things have remained pretty busy on the domestic front. Brentford and Norwich City fans were dealt a potential blow yesterday with the news that we’ve been given the short straw in regards to televised games. On the flip side, details of a cracking competition to help celebrate our 4000th league game, at home to Barnsley, have emerged on the club website. All this, of course, whilst we waited to see if Scott Hogan would be named as Championship player of the month on Friday morning.

First up, the Norwich City game on New Year’s Eve. I guess the only positive for supporters about this being moved to 5.30pm kick off to accommodate Sky TV is that it is at home. Let me rephrase that, the only positive for Brentford supporters.

On what is, traditionally, the party night of the year to not even be leaving a football stadium until 7.30pm (allowing for injury time) is going to put a huge spanner in the works for many. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the logistical nightmare this now becomes. Especially for the visitors who will be lucky to get back to East Anglia before Jools Holland has begun his annual smug piano show. Or should that be unlucky if they get back to East Anglia before….?

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How much of this will we see?

For those of us fortunate to live near Griffin Park the impact is minimised although I have no idea how many of us that is these days. Likewise, there’ll still be the steely glare of ‘the other half’ willing us back home rather than stopping for the traditional post match chat in a local hostelry. And by willing I mean demanding.

The opposite view being, and let’s not pretend otherwise, that for many New Year’s Eve is the most over rated night of the year. See also: Valentine’s Day. A time when society dictates we should be compelled to enjoy ourselves and pay for the privilege of going to our local pub to then stand shoulder to shoulder at a heaving bar. Call me some sort of curmudgeon (and I just hope Mrs Bruzon isn’t reading) but frankly I’d rather enjoy a bag of revels (the orange and coffee creams aside) than being obliged to partake in the faux-revelry.

But that’s my decision and one which I’d like to make by choice rather than have the TV schedule dictate.

Will it impact attendance? Surely. Did we get any choice in the decision? One would hope we didn’t willingly inflict this upon ourselves and the blame can be laid purely at the feet of the televisual paymasters. Will I still go? Of course, although how easy a choice this would be without living in close proximity to Griffin Park remains up for question.

No doubt we’ll be told it is symptomatic of the Bees now being a successful team. I get that part. Whilst many still sneer at us, finishes of 5th and 9th combined with a best ever start have seen Brentford adapting to Championship life much better than just about every pundit has predicted. Sky want a big game for a time when people are off work and we, in conjunction with a storming Norwich City side, fit that bill.

Like it or not, the die is cast. Games are always moved around for TV and, being honest, we’ve largely got away without too much upheaval over the years. With TV pumping so much money into the game it is going to happen. I may not like it but we all knew this is how things would be when we got promoted. Instead, let’s just get rearranging those parties or be glad of the excuse to miss them.

As for the Barnsley game, what a great idea from the club. Juniors supporters have been given the opportunity to design the front cover for the match day programme. A once in a lifetime opportunity to help celebrate our 4,000th league game, full details are currently available on ‘official’.

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The only downside to this being that grown ups aren’t allowed the chance to enter this one. Indeed, I’d already begun sketching out plans for my own effort before properly reading the details and realising I was too old by about 30 years.

Brief thoughts of entering on behalf of my three year old son did cross my mind. Cue ‘Only Fools and Horses’ style antics should victory have been somehow achieved (the state of my painting and photoshop skills mean this would presumably have been through nobody else participating).

But the thought of joining the Groovy Gang (kids, ask your parents but do check it out) is step too far, even for this obsessive. Instead, let’s just doff our caps to the club for a cracking initiative.

And on the subject of doffing hats, congratulations to Scott Hogan who has this morning been declared as the Championship player of the month for September. There’s not much more I can add to this beyond huge congratulations on an award fully deserved.

We all know how well Scott has performed since recovering from ‘that injury’ but September really saw him crank things up a notch. And then some. What an honour and well, well done.

Great work, Scott.

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The news broke at 6a.m. on Friday morning

Climbing to new heights. Newcastle tickets on sale as Gibraltar start World Cup life

7 Sep

Championship football is getting closer once more. Brentford fans can take solace in the fact that Newcastle United tickets go on sale today (Wednesday) whereas this time next week we’ll have played in Brighton and be about to set off for Aston Villa. And in the World Cup qualifiers, to run off yesterday’s piece, we have the info from the Gibraltar – Greece tie. And it wasn’t what you might have expected.

We’ll keep it brief today, though. Newcastle tickets go on sale at 10. Brentford ‘official’ have full details although the pertinent points seem to be that we have plenty. An initial allocation of 2,330 with the option on a further block of 870 to push us over the 3,000 mark. If needed. Season Ticket holders seem to be amply catered and so, all  being well, that dance train ticket purchase  / gamble wit the TV schedules will reap its reward.

The other point of note being that tickets are in Level 7 (seven). For once, the clarifying brackets needed. Rather than pitch side, level 1, we’re up high. Very high. Anybody who has been to St. James Park before will know to bring oxygen and crampons given the height of The Leazes stand in which we will be housed.

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Breathing gear. Check. Ropes. Check

At least we are behind the goal rather than in the top corner and will be no further from the action than at the back of London’s Olympic stadium. Interestingly, and you may not realise, that a ground which West Ham United moved to over the summer. If only somebody had mentioned it. A poor job from the media in failing to keep us properly informed .

Anyway, the club site has all the info and you can read it here. Phone lines and ticket booking open at 10am but there really do seem to be plenty to go around.

As for Gibraltar, it was a good game. Sure, Greece may have ended up as 1-4 winners but it was only a mini collapse before half time, which resulted in a three goal gap, that was the difference between the two sides.

In terms of performance, the boys from the Rock had definitely upped their game and gave as good as the got. This was by no means the one sided walkover most observers would have expected whilst Liam Walker’s equaliser was a fine effort.

But, as ever, goals not guts win games. I can’t wait for Gibraltar to continue taking these progressive steps and secure a first point. Or better. Rather than seeing themselves plucky losers for whom national pride is the thing, why not see themselves for what they are – a tight knit bunch of great players with the ability to cause an upset or two along the way. And then beyond.

The mini meltdown that saw the score go from 1-1 on 44 minutes to 1-4 at half time was inexplicable. Prior to then, things had been level. Even after that, the team still had their chances to reduce the deficit.

Instead, it is another ‘nil points‘ although, hopefully, a bit of a warning shot across the bows of their rivals. Gibraltar won’t just roll over and die. 45th minute aside.

As a final thought, stadium requirements dictate that home games need to be played in Portugal. Simple logistics mean this is often in front of a sparse crowd. Whilst, geographically speaking, Spain is next door for obvious reasons that can’t be used.

Why not take the team on the road? London is just a short flight away and the amount of ex-pats  / keen observers in England alone would be sure to stick a few more on the gate. International football at Brentford? Whether Griffin Park or Lionel Road?

I’ve heard crazier ideas…

Nick Bruzon

Will Gibraltar get Cold Feet? Are more brackets being served? Can England learn?

6 Sep

With another five days until Brentford travel to Brighton (assuming you are reading this on a Tuesday morning) the Championship’s barren period continues. When the return of TV’s Cold Feet was Monday’s main draw – and tell me, what sort of world do we live in where this can be lauded yet a remake of Are You Being Served so derided? – then it remains for International football to act as our main form of sustenance. Can Gibraltar whet the appetite this evening following the frugal fare served up on Sunday by England?

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The only ‘cold feet’ I’m interested in

Well, it would be fair to say that the bar has been raised. Bitter-rivals Spain filled their shooting boots with an 8-0 humping of Liechtenstein last night. No cold feet here, quite the opposite – the Spaniards were on fire. The only sour note, from a footballing perspective, the failure of all and sundry to correctly note the score as things went to 7(seven) – 0.

Even Brentford club sponsors 888 Sport got it wrong on Twitter, despite that rarest of things -a humorous GIF (see also : memes). Still, at least they had the good grace to later apologise for what, must surely, been an oversight based purely on the excitement of the occasion.  Wales, likewise, picked up where they left off in the Euros. A 4-0 tonking of Moldova proving that Chris Coleman’s boys have lost none of their drive or ambition. Which begs two questions.

Firstly, why couldn’t England ? Instead it was just like watching Mrs Browns Boys. A tedious, repetitive one trick pony which, despite an almost moral obligation to watch not many people were, if we’re being honest, actually enjoying it. A sort of footballing Emperor’s New Clothes.

More importantly, can Gibraltar go one better than a Euro qualifying campaign in which the highlights were almost scoring in Germany and actually scoring in Scotland? That aside, it was a series of brackets and, despite some fierce national pride, an eventual end to Group D with ‘nil points’.

I’m not a (total) idiot. Even England have more chance of lifting the World Cup, or qualifying for it, than the boys from the Rock. Yet the harsh lessons of that qualifying group would have stood them in good stead. And this time around, instead of the likes of Germany, Ireland or Poland, opponents include Cyprus and Estonia.

The fact that my current online bookmaker (used purely for reference purposes) doesn’t even offer Gibraltar a price to win the group is, I am sure, just a glitch in the Internet. Something that will be corrected as they shock all comers at 28/1 to beat Greece this evening.

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Six participants but only five available to bet on

On paper, no chance. I grant you that and can see how, looking in, that’s what you’d expect. Yet minnows have to start somewhere. Just look at the likes of Albania, Turkey and Scotland. And tonight could be that night.

Cast your mind back a few months and to the qualifiers for the Champions League.

Lincoln Red Imps, domestic champions on the Rock, entertained none other than Glasgow Celtic in a second qualifying round first leg tie. Despite Brendan Rodgers  coming out like the love child of Russell Slade and Steve Evans ( please, for the love of God, don’t visualise it) no amount of sour grapes or bluster could disguise the fact that his Bhoys ended the game on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat .

Upsets can happen. Every now and again, result comes along to shock the footballing world. Even if they can’t do it tonight, watching Gibraltar try to beat the odds has got to be a hell of a lot more entertaining than Big Sam’s England or ITV comedy dramas.

Failing that, brackets are 8-1.

Gibraltar bots and bag

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start World Cup qualifiers

Nick Bruzon 

Super Lincoln go ballistic, Celtic were atrocious

12 Jul

It’s been done before. I don’t care! Brentford fans, you get your ‘Last Word’ fix tomorrow.Right now, let’s just cut to the chase and reflect on the enormity of Lincoln Red Imps (champions of Gibraltar) beating Celtic (one time European cup winners) 1-0 in the Champion’s League .

Long have these pages celebrated those fleeting moments of triumph from this most fledgling of footballing nations. Long have we absorbed the mocking of Spanish (and other) supporters.

Yet, yet, yet…. write off anybody at your peril when it comes to football. Forget the statistics. Forget the futsal. Forget the tippy-tappy. When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing that counts – the result after 90 minutes.

“A result which ranks as the most embarrassing in Celtic’s history.” Not my words but those of journalism’s, The Independent.

“The Shock of Gibraltar: Celtic beaten by minnows in Brendan Rodgers’ first match.” Not my words but those of The Mail.

Brendan Rodgers’ first game as Celtic boss ended in humiliation as his Hoops side were humbled 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in in the first leg of their second Champions League qualifier at the Victoria stadium.” Not my words etc.etc…. The Telegraph.

“Celtic suffered arguably the worst defeat in their history when they were humbled by Gibraltarian part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round.” This time from the BBC.

“We wanted an easier job after the first leg, and this makes it a bit more complicated, but we will be fine for the second game.” Most definitely not my words but those of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan, I wouldn’t be so sure.

It was a scoreline you can only dream of.Let’s not forget that Gibraltar (pop 30,000ish) have only been UEFA members since 2013.  If Iceland beating England in the Euros may have been deemed an upset, this one comes in at an 11 on the Richter scale of shocks.

Forget sleeping giants. This was a sleeping policeman. MOD police office Lee Casciaro giving Rodgers a (cardiac) arrest in his first competitive game at the helm of Celtic.

No, being the clear answer

What more can you say? Celtic are still giving it large, despite having lost. On reputation and history then surely they will sweep the boys from Gibraltar to one side in the second leg next week.

The again, on reputation and history they should have done that on Tuesday night.

What a result. Congratulations to Lincoln Red Imps in producing a shock on the Rock. Here’s to the second leg…..

Nick Bruzon

 

Bees, Dragons, Saints and Imps. As one dream dies, another continues

7 Jul

What a night and what a result. Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar set up a Champions League qualifying tie with Celtic after sweeping aside FC Flora Tallinn 0f Estonia 2-0 ( 3-2 aggregate). In other news, Portugal edged past Wales to reach the final of EURO 2016 whilst, for Brentford fans, could the new Southampton shirt offer cause for optimism/fear?

We’ll start, briefly, in Gibraltar where the local champions set up that intriguing encounter for Brendan Rodgers in his first competitive game as the new Celtic manager. What’s this got to do with me, you may ask? Well, aside from personal pride you may recall that Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, locked horns with the Imps at this stage last season.

After a hard fought first leg the Danes eventually ran out 3-0 winners but, it would be fair to say, performances have stepped up even more since then. With a huge swathe of the national team (who of course scored their first competitive goal against Scotland) representing the Imps, anybody taking this one as a foregone conclusion would be urged to think again.

Next up , Brentford. With supporters awaiting the first news about our new kit (which, of course, has been hinted at coming out later this week), Southampton have released their latest incarnation.

Again, something which on the surface may not have much to do with us but I’m always intrigued by how manufacturers can provide a new twist on red and white stripes. And, it would be fair to say, The Saints have done that.

Southampton

A shirt that may well divide fans

Along with the stripes, technical sponsor Under Armour appear to have incorporated some sort of bra motif into the shoulder panels. The closest thing I can compare it to is our own Osca 83-84  – the one with the all white top half.

Initial shock has slowly turned into begrudging admiration. I’m not sure I’d be overly pleased if Mark Devlin was to reveal this as our new design but you can’t deny it’s different. Besides, with nothing this outlandish in the Adidas catalogue, I can only imagine we’re at least a few seasons away from anything this unusual.

The other point of note around this is: manufacturers blurb. According to the website, “The stripes appear in blocks of five to represent Southampton’s five core brand values.”. Although it fails to note what these values are. Let’s hope that when our new design is revealed to the world, we avoid such nonsense.

And , finally, the Welsh dream is over. It was a stunning effort to get as far as they did and, for a while, looked as though the game was going to go all the way though extra time and beyond. In the end though, it was ‘that man’ who proved the difference.

Say what you want about Cristiano Ronaldo – and many have, myself included – but the power and technique in the header for the opening goal, which he connected with at a height of 7ft 10″,  could only be applauded.

The less said about his subsequent celebration (or that bizarre spearmint coloured kit), the better.

Nick Bruzon

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Osca 83-84. Better than spearmint. No core values