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It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

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Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon 

What would Peter do?

18 Jan

It’s very much two sides of the same Championship coin today. On the one, we’ve Brentford where victory at Huddersfield Town will take us to within four points of table toping West Bromwich Albion. On the other, there’s the somewhat distasteful situation at Loftus Road this lunchtime where Leeds United visit. Nobody ever, ever wants the home team to pick up points there yet, somehow, in this instance would it be the worst thing to happen? As for last night, there was the horror show at Neverland where Fulham hosted Middlesbrough. Not so much the narrowest of 1-0 victories for the hosts but the awful, awful reminder of clappers. If Matthew Benham is reading (unlikely, let’s be honest), please can we make sure that along with goal music and giant flags, these remain on the list of things NEVER to bring to Lionel Road. See also: foam fingers, run out music for the warm up, gin bars, neutral stands, light shows, giant statues of ‘suspect’ individuals.

First up, Brentford. There’s not too much to say on this one today. We know that with West Bromwich Albion playing on Monday night, there’s everything to gain should we get the win. Three points, obviously, but also another chance to increase the psychological pressure on the league leaders. Going into the latest round of fixtures, they’ve only managed to win once in their last 7(seven) league fixtures. Leeds United are once out of 6. It’s a figure we keep repeating but it’s one of vital importance and has seen that 12 point lead slashed. With both teams still to visit Griffin Park, that slim chance of automatic remains within our hands if they continue to assist by falling apart, again.

Which is all well and good but counts for naff all if we can’t complete our piece in the Championship equation. To be honest, even having this conversation seems bonkers but the table doesn’t lie. The Christmas period saw the play-off chasing teams start to get a little bit more clear air and now the focus is in knowing that wins allow us to keep looking upwards rather than over the shoulder. Last time out on the road saw the obliteration of Bristol City, 0-4 at Ashton Gate with Ollie Watkins grabbing a brace. His next goal, on Saturday against QPR, saw him draw level at the top of the divisional goalscoring charts with Aleksander Mitrovic. Today could see him stride clear.

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Ollie and the team are on a hot streak

Could. Of course, Huddersfield Town are no slouches. Anything but. We saw in November how they have set up and it wasn’t a great game. Brentford are designed to play free-flowing, attacking football with a rock solid core and defence. It’s fair to say on that afternoon, The Terriers embodied the term ‘industrial’. But, there’s no knocking them. Deep in the relegation they did what they had to and got the points. At the end of the day, Clive, the records books will show that they won. We lost. Knowing that you can be amazing is secondary if you are out played or outmuscled on the afternoon. Which is what happened and I won’t criticise anybody for doing what they need to do to win a game. No matter how desperate a spectacle it was for the home fans. Huddersfield didn’t care and why would they? Boot on the other foot and we’d rightly be celebrating the win. Frankly, if we don’t have the nous to get past that then we have to call it a learning curve and push on from there. Knowing that, at times, we won’t have everything our way.

To be fair, push on is what we’ve done. The quagmire of Millwall aside, it’s been nothing but great times for the last few months. The Bees have climbed the table and reeled in almost all above us. Only Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and (temporarily) Fulham remain. For all the cracks about the top two falling apart, even they’ll pick up the points this time around. QPR crumbled under the slightest pressure last week – blown over by a puff of wind – whilst West Brom face a Stoke City side that have just offloaded their most overlooked asset, Ryan Woods, to Millwall on loan.

I’d love to have gone in to today in third place but it makes no real difference. We’ll reclaim that spot with a draw or win and, being honest, watching the Fulham game last was one done very much with hands in front of the eyes. Not so much through concern about the result (they were always going to pick up points) but more because of the cringeworthy clappers. They were out in force, again, with Tarquin, Piers and the rest of the gang beating their flappers as though it was the most exciting thing since being invited into the audience of Mrs. Browns Boys. 

My word, does this club have no shame? And people wonder why they are considered a laughing stock. Clappers, foam fingers, bells, drums and flags belong where the sun don’t shine. Not in a football stadium. If you think these generate an atmosphere or are some sort of personality substitute then take a long, hard look.

As for the starters before the main course of Brentford – Huddersfield Town, there’s the small matter of QPR – Leeds United for lunch. I have to look long term here and hope for an away defeat, no matter how awful that may seem. I guess the question here is, ‘What would Peter do’?

It’s one we may have to ask…

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Could jigsaw side Leeds fall apart in the box, again?

Nick Bruzon

Just when things couldn’t get any more intriguing in The Championship….

17 Jan

There’s plenty happening on Friday morning and Brentford haven’t even got close to being involved, yet. Our weekend trip to Huddersfield Town is another opportunity to keep pace with / close the gap further on Leeds United. We’re currently third in the Championship table after humping QPR although know that should Fulham beat injury hit Middlesbrough at The Gin Bar tonight then they will, temporarily, overtake us. Although one point behind, a draw won’t be good enough thanks to their vastly inferior goal difference of +11 compared to a division’s best +23 for The Bees. Elsewhere there’s trouble for the club formerly known as Frank Lampard’s Derby County,  Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Please. Stop sniggering. There’s nothing funny about being accused of breaching EFL spending rules.

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Good times at Griffin Park last Saturday

First and foremost, Brentford. Not only does our game at Huddersfield Town present the chance to keep up the pressure on Leeds and West Brom  – both of whom are currently falling apart in the box quicker than a dropped jigsaw – but perhaps also there’s a slight element of payback. Anybody present at the Griffin Park Kickathon agaisnt the Terriers back in November can’t help but struggle to remember how awful it was. Our form since that point has been pretty much non-stop, but that encounter (ending in a 0-1 defeat) was horrific and best forgotten. It was described at the time on these pages as “A turgid afternoon in dank conditions” and has long since been consigned to the darker recesses of the memory. The place Where Mrs. Brown and her boys reside. Probably wearing Team GB tracksuits and drinking ‘expresso’. On Star Wars day, May the fourth.

We digress, but that’s how awful it was . Possibly rivalling September’s 0-0 with Stoke City for a text book demonstration of anti-football. That was then, though. We’ve since gone on to dump Stoke out of the FA Cup with our B-team and I have every confidence that the first XI will do similar tomorrow. Or, at least, have a much better chance of showing what they can do on their day.

Last weekend’s blitz of QPR saw us devastate our neighbours in a 15 minute first half flurry of non-stop attacking football. A goal apiece for the much touted WMB was bookended with further chances to extend the lead. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin, watching on from the Director’s box, could only share the bemusement of his fellow Rangers’ fans as their world fell apart. It was yet another stunning performance from Brentford and I’d bet on more to come tomorrow.

Ironically, Mark will be watching on again. This time in his new guise as interim Chief Executive of Huddersfield Town. I’ve a lot of time for Mark – who was always extremely approachable when at Griffin Park – and whilst wishing him all the best in this role, will perhaps delay those good wishes until Sunday. There’s no room for sentiment when there are points at stake, especially with so much riding on this one.

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Plenty to mull over for the Huddersfield Chief Exec last weekend

Yet my faith in this team is unshakeable at present. My knowledge of their ability and pleasure on watching them breaking at 100mph sky high. Honestly, and this isn’t arrogance, such is the way we are playing I’d back us to pick up the points anywhere at the minute. Thomas Frank can do the job of keeping the player’s feet on the ground and telling them there are no easy games, take each one as it comes et etc. For the fans, optimism is a good, good thing and I’m loving it.

Fulham do have that chance to see us start the day in fourth place, should they get the home win against Middlesbrough this evening. Sadly, they will. Even without Aleksander Mitrovic they’ll have too much in them to come away with anything less than three points. But that’s all by the by as long as we do our thing on Saturday. Especially given as Leeds have a trip to Loftus Road – if ever a game said ‘away banker’ it is that one. On the plus side, with West Brom not in action until Monday evening, there’s further opportunity to close the gap on at least one of the top two, IF we can do our thing. No pressure lads 🙂

But these are good times. Lionel Road season tickets are flying off the shelves with the Twitter hashtag #MyNewHome showing plenty of smiling faces. The latest I saw using that one saw Alex Austin and his family now booked in, meaning the helpful advice and reminders of the rules offered to linesmen will continue long into our new home and, all being well, The Premier League. Magnificent news.

We’re doing all of this on budget and within the rules of the EFL. Something Birmingham City have already fallen fall of and now, it seems, Derby County (can we just take the “Wayne Rooney’s” as a given?) are facing trouble. The charges brought by the authorities relate to losses in the three years up to June 2018. With rules allowing clubs to lose up to £39m over a three year period (still, wow),  the controversial deal to sell Pride Park to owner Mel Morris for £80m continues to attract scrutiny. As the BBC reports, “The Rams have leased back the ground, which was said to have been independently valued at £80m despite it being on the club’s books as an asset worth £41m, from a company owned by Morris.” Hmm, sounds legit.      

 This one is sure to rumble. I’m just glad our own set up is one which is so tightly controlled. Sure, it always hurts short term when we see our heroes sold (emotionally, more than on the pitch) but I know whose shoes I’d rather be in. Sustainable, improving, getting stronger by the season and with a new home imminent. Or the club now having to answer some very awkward questions.

There’s not much more to say here. I’m sure The Rams will argue they’ve done nothing wrong. Mind you, so did QPR when they got fined. And that didn’t work out too well for them.

Instead, all the focus for us should be on events in Huddersfield. Perhaps with half an eye on Loftus Road and The Cottage…

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Saturday’s goalscoring heroes – accelerated like a Porsche off the starting line

Nick Bruzon

A dismal morning and a dank afternoon as the form team keep on rolling.

3 Nov

No goals. No points. No complaints. Huddersfield Town came to Griffin Park on Saturday to round off a disappointing day of sport in our house. A day that had begun so brightly with the prospect of the Rugby World Cup final ended with defeat for both England and Brentford. For the Bees, a 0-1 home reverse came at the end of a game in which chances were at a premium and, it would be fair to say, Danny Cowley and his Terriers did a well drilled job on us. Creativity was stifled, the clock run down and the chance taken. Fair play to them. The Championship’s form team keep on rolling.

It was a really odd one to sit through. A nothing of a game where The Bees struggled to get out of second gear. The cold and rain not helping matters but certainly no excuse for our somewhat out of character inability to shine. The mercurial touches and wonder goals of theist few weeks nothing but a distant memory. The game, definitely one for the purists where Huddersfield did exactly what they needed to.

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View from the Braemar – a slippery pitch and tough conditions

Being honest, I’m struggling to remember much. Even having sat through the sub two minute highlight package. Something which, compared to the five or six minutes we sometimes get, tells you all you need to know about a turgid afternoon in dank conditions. Perhaps it was the early start to proceedings which saw pub breakfast taken in front of the rugby at 9am that left many of us feeling jaded. Nonchalant. Ambivalent even. And definitely nothing to do with the Guinness that washed down my sausages.

Besides, that early start time was perfectly legitimate. There are three social occasions breakfast alcohol is acceptable  – the last half hour before a wedding, as you wait with the groom in the pub across the road from the church. Crossing through passport control at an airport ; the exact split second that the laws of time are suspended and it’s five o’clock. Somewhere. Or the finals of a Southern hemisphere sporting event. Yesterday fitting into that last category where, perhaps, the result against a brutally strong team who out-thought their opponents could have been taken as some form of omen.

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It was five o’clock. Somewhere

Yet whatever the trigger yesterday, and whether the two were in any way connected, it just never felt like it was going to happen on the pitch. A game where subs were desperately needed but even their arrival did little to alter the path of an encounter that, once the visitors had taken the lead via Karlan Grant, Brentford never looked like getting back into.

Even then, the winner was a soft one. Nobody picking up a player who now sits just one goal, behind Ollie Watkins, occupying third place in the Championship leading scorers table. Nobody then closing him down as he hit one low past David Raya and into the far corner on the hour. It was one of few real caches, for either team, and it was the one that mattered. From that point on there was huff, puff, endeavour and desperation but nothing happened. Brentford very much flaccid in their attack. Huddersfield, operating the clock with all the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Parking the bus with all the finesse of Jose Mourinho. The Bees had no way through. It wasn’t to be.

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Brentford had no way through the rain or The Terriers

Off the field of play, things were as wonderful as ever.  The opportunity to catch up with friends and even some of our regular visitors from the away contingent – always a pleasure. Bumping into the wonderful Woody and his family for a chat as the players went through their warm up routine. What a fantastic young man he is.

Then, a chance encounter saw HB offered a trip to the dressing room pre-kick off to talk tactics with Thomas Frank. Only at Brentford does this sort of thing happen. Long may it continue. I am sure the result was totally unconnected. Besides, any input offered by Harry would likely have been limited to the words Sergi and Canos.

Instead, we go away from this one empty handed. Any solace taken being in the fact that the table is still ridiculously tight. Victory yesterday would have taken us to the fringes of the play of race. Instead, we remain a mere four points off of fifth place. The season is stil far too young  – little over a quarter of the way through – to determine which way it will go . With 93 points still to play for, you can be sure this one is going to have plenty of twists and turn before we finish up against Barnsley in May.

For now, it wasn’t to be. Well played Huddersfield Town. Roll on Saturday and our trip to Wigan Athletic where, all being well, normal goalscoring service will resume.

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Pick Sergi. Then Canos. Sergi Canos. S Canos etc

Nick Bruzon

West London is OURS. Can Huddersfield stop the Bees?

2 Nov

It’ll be quite magnificent returning to Griffin Park this afternoon. Brentford are flush full of confidence following the trouncing of QPR on Monday night and are the division’s form team. Mind you, if the Bees are flying then so are Huddersfield Town. Don’t let their lowly position fool you. As Thomas Frank has noted in the build up “It’s a changed team – one that’s much more confident and with more belief and they’ve only conceded four goals in their past six games.” This will not be easy. But then again, the visitors have their own challenge – a Brentford side that is in fine spirit.

Monday evening was about as good as it gets. Even allowing for the emotion of the moment to have subsided, I’m still buzzing at how dominant the Bees were. QPR were second to everything. Played off the park and only kept on life support by their goalkeeper. Had it not been for the heroics of Liam Kelly the medical staff would have likely declared the time of death as being 8.31pm. Instead, we kept going against the one man team – the other ten in blue and white offering little more than tired thuggery and mis-hit passes – until Ollie Watkins grabbed our third late on.

The whining and bitching of the home fans on the way out was music to the ears. Try picking a troll in chief from that lot. Seemingly under the belief that West London was, somehow, theirs despite the latest shoeing administered in their direction by The Bees. It really was delicious. There’s nothing like winning in your neighbours’ back yard and that one was up there with the very best. Think 4-1 at Fulham levels of enjoyment. Not bad for a bus stop.

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We all know who owns West London 

The trick now is to do this at home. Since the last game here – that wonderful win over Millwall – we’ve also picked up the points at Swansea City. The Bees ARE on fire. Our groove finally hit. Griffin Park is sure to be a cauldron of noise today and we’re going to need it. Yet, if anything, that can only inspire us further. Monday showed what playing in a morgue can do for the home team. 

It was embarrassing how quiet the stadium was, with the exception of the Brentford end.  

Mind you, one can sympathise given just how tired and pokey a ground it is. Thank goodness for unsafe standing because otherwise knees would have lost any circulation going had sitting been attempted. The main stand had more masts than the tall ships race (although at least the phone reception was first class) and there was what appeared to be Magneto’s prison cell at the end of the first X-men movie hanging from one part of the roof. Griffin Park may be at the end of it’s life but at least it has character. At least it has atmosphere. My word, we know it has plenty of faults but it is still home. And what a home.

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Give me Griffin Park every time

Rather than the likes of Bryan, Pontus, Said or Ollie our man of the moment today will perhaps be none other than Peter Gilham. We all saw the celebration of the second goal as the players ran to celebrate as one with Mr. Brentford. We’ve seen the video from the changing rooms afterwards. I expect him to be in fine voice as the teams are welcomed out and roared on. His enthusiasm sure to be as infectious as ever. 

Making it four wins on the bounce is going to be a huge ask. Huddersfield have finally pulled themselves out of the Championship nose dive that followed on from their top flight nose dive. The nonsense of that fake kit has been consigned to the back locker and they’ve started to bank the points. They are unbeaten in the last 6 games and have taken more points from that period than they did in the previous 35  – a treat which boasted an incredible 28 defeats for Town L.

That was then. This is now. Anything can happened and, frankly, I can’t wait. A win could take us into the top six should other results go our way. That would be nice but I’d settle for the points and a few more goals. Watching Brentford has been nothing but fun in recent weeks. Some of the tricks on display would have shamed Paul Daniels. More of the same today would be just the ticket.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Is this the funniest joke since records began? No. More importantly, will Neal start today?

20 Jul

“She drags me all the way from Billingsgate to Richmond to play about the weakest practical joke since Cardinal Wolsey got his nob out at Hampton Court and stood at the end of the passage pretending to be a door.” Not my words but those of TV’s Edmund Blackadder. And words which have now been surpassed by Huddersfield Town making the utterly predictable reveal that their ‘sash’ shirt was a fake after we were finally treated to the real thing. On matters closer to home, Brentford travel to Wycombe Wanderers this afternoon where there will be more than a passing interest in Thomas Frank’s starting XI.

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Umbro rescue Huddersfield Town supporters. At the second attempt.

Let’s start with Huddersfield Town. Why not? With Brentford fans still basking in the glory or our own Umbro designs for 2019/20, knees jerked on Thursday when the Terriers ‘revealed’ their own effort for the forthcoming season. The oversized sponsor’s sash, promoting a bookmaker, prompting immediate horror from those who fell for it and scorn form just about everybody else. The horrors of online betting. The obvious breach in regulations. The fact that Huddersfield were playing along in a joke at their own expense.

Most crucially, the abject awfulness of the alleged kit. How do you even cock up a sash shirt? This should be impossible, given it’s a universally accepted fact that this is a look which is up there with the very best in shirt design.  That Huddersfield managed to mangle it so badly, at their own expense, whilst simultaneously pissing off almost the entire fanbase is a PR stunt that has well and truly backfired. Except, of course, for Mr. P who has more than earned his pound of advertising flesh. I mean, who wasn’t talking about them in footballing circles?

And then, surprise surprise, it was all revealed to be a hilarious prank. Despite us being nowhere even close to April 1st. To quote Blackadder once more, “I thank God I wore my corset, because I think my sides have split.

On the plus side, the new look unveiled by Huddersfield Town is magnificent. Hats off to Umbro for pulling this one out of the kit bag. They really are on fire this season. Even better, the official incarnation of the Huddersfield shirt has the luxury of being sponsor free. It’s just a shame their fans had to go through all that nonsense to get there.

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Crystal Palace. Vasco Da Gama. Peru. All prove it should be impossible to mess up a sash kit.

Right. Wycombe Wanderers v Brentford. There’s one topic on everybody’s lips. And it’s not whether we’ll be wearing black and yellow. Neal Maupay. Will he start? Will he be here at the start of the season? Have there been any bids? Are we really preparing the way for his departure with the reported acquisition of Bryan Mbuemo from Troyes?

Persaonlly, I take the offerings from sites such as Football League World and HITC with a huge dollop of salt – when it comes to actual facts, they’re normally about as on target as a Murray Jones and Nick Proschwitz dream team. Yet when Beesotted are talking about it (and you can read their thoughts here) then stand up and take notice.  Should the Mbuemo story prove correct, might he even be an acquisition rather than a replacement? Matthew Benham does love to surprise us.

Ultimately, nobody really knows. This is all part and parcel of being a Brentford fan these days. Trust in the long term set up and overall squad balance, tempered with the more immediate angst at the prospect of saying goodbye to any one of several club heroes.

No matter how philosophical one has to remain about the quite wonderful way in which we conduct our business, football is an emotional game. We all love the likes of Neal, Said, Ollie, Sergi, Romaine. To name but a few. The immediate reaction to any combo of them leaving would see us gutted – no matter what comes next. Just look at the plaudits for Yoann Barbet, despite his eventual destination. then again, look at who has signed up at Griffin Park in lieu of him and Ezri. It works!

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Here’s to more in 2019/20…..

So Neal may start at Wycombe. He may be on the bench. It doesn’t really matter in terms of serving up a clue about longer term intention. Unless, of course, the likes of Billy Reeves can get to him after the match and administer a gentle probing so we can hear from the man himself about his own thoughts.

One can dream.

And finally, time is running out on me annoying you about the annual Last Word season review e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. However, with all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust its worth a mention. 

You can download it here and whilst it’s shonky, whilst I’m still spotting typos in it and some of the jokes are almost as weak as The Huddersfield shirt launch, what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign as we wait for 2019/20 to start? If nothing else, it has a whole host of material not previously published on this site. That’s meant as a good thing, by the way.

Thanks. As ever.

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Nick Bruzon

My morning with Bush interrupts one kit launch and one kit ‘launch’.

18 Jul

Clanggggg – the sound of a name being dropped. There was no Last Word yesterday as a previous football related engagement with Absolute Radio (more to follow) meant it was a case of being up, ready and out of the house before 6am – the usual point at which this nonsense is being put together. Which was gutting for this kit nerd given that the previous day had seen the launch of the new Brentford away shirt. Gut reaction to that one is that we have an absolute stunner. On the plus side, it means we have had time to ‘enjoy’ the ‘hilarious’ ‘joke’ shirt launch at Huddersfield Town. At least, I am assuming it is a joke launch – at the time of writing that has yet to be confirmed.

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It is what it says

Tuesday morning had seen these pages looking for a potential ‘away’ shirt at some point this week. Two hours later and it was on us. Coincidence and pot luck rather than anything more sinister at play, I assure you. I hope. Then again, nothing to hurt by writing that I’m fairly sure Neal Maupay will be signing a contract extension in the next couple of days. Move along – nothing to see here. Back to the shirt.

Oh. My. Word. Umbro and Kitman Bob really have hit the jackpot this season. I loved the home version. Our change strip is glorious. Discarding all the usual techno-babble about breathable material, seams, side panels etc etc that goes with these things, we’ll cut to the chase . If for no other reason than everybody has seen it whilst Luis Adriano has dissected this (and previous versions) in magnificent detail already – do look at his piece which you can find here.

Black. Jet Black. Yellow trim. A monochromatic badge. Bee colours. Beautiful. Just beautiful. It’s the first time in a few seasons I’ll be buying a home and an away kit which, given the state of yours truly’s bank balance, is no small claim. We’ve got it wrong or come close so many times but to hit the mark first time out with both shirts is testament to the partnership being formed with Umbro.

One can only imagine what we’ll have lined up for the third shirt which, reading between the lines, IS coming. Kitman Bob’s tweet in response to a question of whether that would be delivered,  suggesting that we enjoy this one first, implies that there is more to come. And definitely not just me reading into this what I want to.

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Great work all round

Talking of Kitman Bob, his Wiz Khalifa clue from earlier in the summer paid out in wonderful style. With fans guessing he meant ‘Black and Yellow’ it was another nice touch from Brentford ‘official’ to title the launch email “Yeah, uh huh, you know what it is…”. They lyrical amongst us / those who double checked on google, just in case (delete as applicable) obviously recognising the opening line from the former Billboard 100 chart topper.

The only downside to any of this is that the ditching of Adidas means we’ve no hope of ever seeing the brown/orange again. Even in the event of a colour clash against, say, Bournemouth who play in red and black. Yet as we bemoaned this sad loss, one Twitter correspondent noted: You’ve just married Helena Christiansen and you’re lusting over Ann Widdicombe?

Personally, I’d say that it was more a case of just marrying Helena Christiansen then lusting over Cameron Diaz. They’re both great. They’re both Brentford. Or are they….

Next up. Huddersfield Town. Yawn. Urghh. Yesterday’s sponsor joke being played at their expense, yet seemingly in full co-operation with the club, has kind of backfired. The obvious knee jerks of disgust were all over social media within nano-seconds. If for no other reason than how do you mess up a sash kit? Surely that’s sartorially impossible?  Peru, Crystal Palace, Vasco da Gama of Brazil have all proven many times how wonderful this design feature can look. 

Then there was the realisation that the size of this logo clearly breached the 250 square centimetre area on the front of a kit permitted for such advertising. The FA have been obliged to step in as we all waste time waiting for the true reveal. I could bang on but, frankly, nobody wants to read about it. The sponsor have achieved their presumed aim of getting people talking about them. Huddersfield, meanwhile, have a short term ‘cult’ classic that is truly deserving of the title: Worst. Shirt. Ever. And given it was worn in last night’s friendly game, could technically now be deemed canon. Even if only for one game. We can all moan about the attrocities at play but the ultimate realisation that people are using the phrase ‘bantz’ to describe what is happening is reason enough to consign this whole sorry affair to the waste bin of history.

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Don’t. Promote. Sponsor.

Moving on, I was fortunate enough to be a history maker yesterday morning. Innovation in action, care of Absolute Radio – whom we talk about on these pages from time to time. Ahhh, who could forget Christian O’Connnell and Cameron Diaz in the ‘Are you a Brentford fan’ reveal…? 

This time, it was care of Hometime DJs Andy Bush and Richie Firth  – on the five-a-side pitch.

Who doesn’t love this version of the game? Well, me these days. Primarily because family life means that playing after work is no longer an option. Why go for glory on the astroturf when there’s a school run to do?  And nothing to do with knackered knees or lungs.

So when the chance of flipping the traditional post-work format of the game on its head via an 8am kick-off  presented itself I was there. Boots out of retirement, gloves back on and goalkeeper for Bushia Dortmund. 

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What a morning. What a game. What a concept. An 8-7 defeat and swollen finger are a small price to pay for being part of the future. It was magnificent fun. I’d love to blame our narrow loss on the fact that Richie’s Railway Madrid featured a player who was the spit of the villain out of Superman 2 (from that spinny space mirror thing) and had his strength but, ultimately, it was down to my crapness. And Richie’s dexterity as opposing ‘keeper. Very much Neville Southall at the end of his career – in more ways than one. Yet if we can take one thing away from all of this it is that morning football is the way forward.  

Huge thanks to Bush, Richie and all at Absolute Radio. The full video goes live today. The teaser is below. The podcast is up already – you can find that one here.  There’s more to follow.    

Until then, you may want to kindly please download the annual Last Word season review for e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. You you can do so, here, with the important bit being that all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

It’s shonky, there are typos in it (still) but what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign as we wait for Bob to (hopefully) do his thing for the third time. And then prepare to see them blown out of the water in 2019/20.

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Nick Bruzon

One out of three ain’t bad. Ian Holloway does it again as Huddersfield make it so (sorry).

30 May

That really is it. Football is over for the season. Congratulations to Huddersfield Town who made it up to the Premier League after beating Reading on penalties. For the Royals, a return to Griffin Park awaits as they endured a pain us Brentford fans know only too well – play off capitulation.

In truth, the first ten minutes aside, it was a dreadful game. Huddersfield came flying out of the blocks and looked like they were going for broke. Yet after missing two gilt edged chances from Izzy Brown and Michael Hefele it soon settled down into a game of cat and mouse. Cagier than a cage fight between Nicolas Cage and Xander Cage, it was two and half hours we’ll never get back.

But frankly, who cares? Whether you win on penalties or in a 4-3 goalfest, the net result is the same. Promotion for one side and tears for the other.

So football aside (and largely because there wasn’t any) what did we learn from yesterday’s game? Well, apparently Patrick Stewart was there. Yes, I know, you probably missed it too.

The Star Trek and X-men actor being to Huddersfield as Rhino from the Quo or Cameron Diaz (allegedly) are to Brentford. And once the cameras had picked him up, that was it. We saw as many shots of him as we did of Reading fans crying. Yes Sky, we get it – there’s Picard. Again. All we needed was a ‘make it so’ pun for a full house.

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What a miss from Izzy Brown

We learned, once more, that penalties are a most wonderful thing for the neutral to watch. Yet for the players and fans the most painful of all ways to decide promotion. Unless you are on the winning side in which case seeing your fate revealed at the exact moment of that one, decisive kick must be the most incredible feeling ever. Again, something us Brentford fans can’t really relate to. Play-off success (8 doomed attempts so far) or promotion sealing penalty kicks being something that we don’t overly talk about.

But the real talking point to come out of it was that Ian Holloway is to making pre-season predictions as Donald Trump is to tact and diplomacy. We’ve already mentioned his efforts for Sky TV on these pages many times. Holloway, not Trump. Indeed, they form much of the thrust in the current 2016/17 Championship season review. That’s available now on e-book, with all proceeds going to the Community Sports Trust.

But a focus on Holloway is no surprise given his prediction of Brentford to finish 22nd, and the narrative:  “Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble”.

Well, that one was thrown royally back in his face. We did the double over QPR, including a 3-1 win over his side at Griffin Park, as the Bees finished 11 points and 8 places above the not so super hoops. Our own management had immediately poo-poo’d his prediction at the fan forum and how great to see the confidence rewarded.

But for Huddersfield Town, he predicted even worse. They came out at 23rd in his table and his own summary of their fate was: “I haven’t seen much progression from the club during the back end of last season. David Wagner is pretty inexperienced and if results turn, then they may struggle to turn things around”.

If 22nd to 10th was a mile out, then 23rd to the Premier League was  his failng to hit a barn door with banjo in a brewery. An incredible miss on the punditry front.

It was a point well made in the aftermath of Huddersfield triumph. Not by the fans but the manager, who offered “Ian Holloway , all the best for the next season” . And the team, chanting “There’s only one Ian Holloway” as they celebrated in the dressing room.

Hey, at least Ian got basement club Rotherham United right. One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

Congratulations David Wagner. Congratulations Huddersfield. Tough luck Reading. We’ll see you at Brentford next season.

And, as noted earlier, season 2016/17  is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. It’s all for a great cause and, hey, you may even enjoy it, Unless your name is Ian H…..

Nick Bruzon

This is the big one (for Wagner). And a special ‘thank you’ for Bees fans.

29 May

This is it. Today’s the day Brentford discover their final Championship opponent for next season. The play-off final sees Huddersfield Town and Reading doing battle in the, so-called, £100million match. Certainly, that’s the figure usually quoted in TV revenue for the team fortunate enough to come out on top in the choke off (there’s no other word for it) to reach the Premier League. That said, reading an article in The Independent last week, they are quoting it being as much as £170m rising to £290m. That’s just incredible.

For the winner . Riches and acclaim. Then the chance to see if they’ll emulate the likes of Watford, Bournemouth or Burnley in survival rather than Hull City and Middlesbrough with an immediate return. For the loser there’ll be tears, ‘if onlys’, the chance to come back Griffin Park (see – its not all bad) and inevitable comparisons to Derby County.

As a neutral, I love watching the play-offs. Moreso, this match. The FA Cup on Saturday was fantastic. Much as it loathes me to say it, Arsenal fully deserved their victory as Premier league Champions Chelsea were swept away. Victor Moses performing the worst dive since Greg Louganis cracked his head on the board during the 1988 Olympics pretty much summed up their effort.

Yet talking to a friend in The Griffin (other pubs are available) during the game, the conversation turned to the relevance of that tournament. It is the world’s oldest cup competition and, as a Brentford fan, I’d simply love us to do well. To embark on an epic cup run. To perhaps emulate that wonderful run of 88/89 or even go one better. To take a tinfoil cup to Wembley itself.

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The Bees haven’t reached an FA Cup quarter final since Liverpool in 88/89

But for other teams, certainly at the business end of the top flight, it is treated largely as an afterthought throughout most of the campaign. Weakened teams are fielded in what has become more of a nice to win than a need to win. Qualification for the Champions league, and the riches/prestige that come with that, is very much viewed as the ‘must have’ prize by many.

Did Spurs have a better season by finishing second in the Premier league and reaching that European tournament? Or could Arsenal, who played like they really wanted it, be argued to have been the more successful through getting their name on a trophy but missing out on the big one in Europe? The romantic in me says it is the FA Cup. The realist in me knows just what the Champions league can bring in terms of revenue and reputation to those clubs whose financial model and being able to compete absolutely rely on repeat qualification.

As it stands, Brentford are yet to make an FA Cup final (I’m not counting the War cup) or reach the play-off for the Premier League. That said, we gave it quite a go in 2014/15 when Middlesbrough were all that stood between us and a trip to Wembley for a crack at the top flight. Move along. Nothing to see here beyond another notch in the bedpost marked ‘challenging record’ after 8 attempts made.

Yet I’ll absolutely be glued to the screen this afternoon when Huddersfield and Reading walk out. This is no ‘nice to have’ match. This is all about the pressure and the reward that comes with victory. Everybody knows what is at stake. It is a game that combines the prestige of winning the FA Cup with the finances that come with making the Champions’ league.  There’ll be a global audience tuned in to this in a battle of who can hold their nerve.

Let’s be honest, nobody could pick a definite winner out of these two. I’m still amazed Reading made it, certainly based on the way Brentford played against them this season. Huddersfield led the table early and did the double over the Bees, yet it was the Royals who came third and despatched a very, very good Fulham team along the way. Much as it pains me to admit.

Instead, we’ll just have to leave this one to the players on the day. Who wants it more? Personally, I’m backing David Wagner’s team. And for no more illogical reason than the oft made reference on these pages to him and that one time X-Factor singer, err, Wagner.

Well, it seems that now worlds have actually collided. And how!! I’m not sure if this is car crash or sheer brilliance. Enjoy…

And finally.. a HUGE thank you to call those who have already downloaded this year’s e-book: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all funds from this one (and the previous titles) are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17 you can pick it up, here. Along with all the usual Brentford stuff, we look at how the Championship season played out as teams came and went aswell as the ‘other stuff’ (fans of Mrs. Brown and her boys should probably look away now).

Hearing Yoann Barbet and Lasse Vibe speak at the player of the year dinner after sharing the Community player of the year award for the work they do with the Trust was truly inspirational. We all know how wonderful our club is and so, from a personal note, I’d love to make some gesture back – no matter how small.

Downloading any of the titles is now for a great cause. Hey, you may even enjoy reading. Funnier things have happened.

THANK YOU

This is it - the latest version now available. For a great casue

The latest version now available – for a great cause
Nick Bruzon

Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

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View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

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Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

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Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon