Archive | International RSS feed for this section

Cliff crowns a great day which even ‘that trumpet’ can’t ruin.

25 Mar

With Friday’s column bemoaning the lack of Brentford related activity over the International break, it was another case of exquisite timing as the club confirmed later in the day that work has now begun at the Brentford Community Stadium site on Lionel Road South. Over in Dublin, John Egan was in the squad for the Republic of Ireland against Wales last night although a rogue musical instrument threatened to outdo even the much maligned (and rightly so) alleged band of the England supporters.

But first, Lionel Road. There’s not too much to add in regards to the Stadium announcement beyond a huge sigh of relief and gratitude at this latest news. It seems almost an eternity away since the club’s plans were approved by Hounslow council back in December 2013. The Bees were then in League One and Uwe Rosler was (technically) still our manager although his move to Wigan Athletic was coming somewhat quicker than ours to a new home. Indeed, looking back on the BBC report from the time it notes that, “The Bees hope to move to the 7.6 acre site on Lionel Road from Griffin Park for the 2016-17 season.

Of course, we have had further referrals and the CPO to go through since that point which have delayed proceeding somewhat. And whilst , at times, I can’t help but think of Lionel Road without the words “Monorail, monorail” going through the head, finally things are under way. There was another ebullient statement from Cliff Crown whilst, along with the article on Brentford official, a new website launched at brentfordcommunitystadium.com in which supporters will be kept abreast of developments.

The only slight downside about his news being the lack of obligatory photograph featuring Cliff, Mark Devlin et al leaning on shovels and wearing hard hats. But, given this current stage of the project involves clearing the site in preparation for the main build, perhaps this construction related favourite is still to come.

lrs-4x3277-3640854_613x460

It really IS happening.

The other Bees related topic from yesterday was, of course, John Egan’s selection for the Republic of Ireland. Whilst he had to be content with a place on the bench, this remains a huge honour and it can’t be long, surely, until he wins his first cap. With another home game scheduled for Tuesday, a friendly with the darlings of Euro 2016 Iceland, he may not have long to wait. Here’s hoping that fully deserved honour comes John’s way imminently.

One thing that armchair viewers won’t be hoping for is a return of ‘that trumpet’. Far be it from me to criticise another nation’s culture and perhaps this is well received part of their International game. Personally, my own belief is that, much like goal music, spectator performed musical instruments should not be allowed anywhere near a football stadium. Whatever the form.

The list of offendors is a well travelled one. Who could forget the sound of the Vuvuzelas from World Cup 2010? About the only positive to be gleaned from England’s ineptitude in that one being that an early exit spared domestic supporters being obliged to put up the droning cacophony.

Then there’s John Westwood. The self proclaimed Mr. Portsmouth. Him in the stove pipe hat, wooden teeth and dreadlocked fright wig whom the cameras seem contractually obliged to make a beeline for whenever Pompey are on TV. He looks like he needs a good wash down with some bleach and a wire wool brush (think  – Russell Brand and his spray on perm-wear leather effect trousers)  whilst the noise, with that incessant ringing of a hand bell or use of a trumpet, must mean that season tickets in the near vicinity come with a health and safety warning.

Portsmouth bell

Can’t give Westwood the full oxygen of publicity. Bell. End of.

But, of course, the prime offenders are the alleged England supporters alleged band. Regular readers know the drill at this point. If you want the usual rant about the stale, off key parping and flat renditions of jingoistic greatest hits from Bernie Clifton and his uninvited cuckoos in the nest then you’ll find it here (along with a lot more nonsense).

They’ve always been the low point. Until now. And the lone trumpet at Ireland’s Aviva stadium. Who was it? Why was it? How can a solitary instrument cut so clearly through what was, by all accounts, a fervent and vocal crowd.You’d have heard this thing above a jumbo jet taking off. It was so shrill that, by all scientific fact, only dogs should have been able to hear the bloody thing.

Yet here it was. Clear as day. As annoying as Westwood guesting in the England ensemble with a vuvuzela. If there’s one thing that’s good for unifying football fans it’s hatred. Not of each other but of wind instruments.

And this was the consummate in unwelcome hot air. Not even the sound of Jota’s refrain could lift this into the realms of acceptability.

Matthew Benham has already made it quite clear that goal music will never, ever happen in his time. Let’s hope the ban extends to trumpets when Lionel Road is complete.

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

maxresdefault

FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

L-R-Richie-Firth-Dr-Chris-Easton-and-Christian-OConnell-M3-2

(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon

Beam me up, Scotty. Kit mystery solved

30 Mar

After all the excitement of Germany and Liechtenstein, it was back to normal on the International front last night. England and Gibraltar both lost (Netherlands and Latvia respectively) but, as ever, that really isn’t the focus. And a bit closer to home Griffin Park rocked to the sound of a 4-2 win for the Brentford development squad.

But we start at Wembley and, primarily, the England game. After the horror show of ‘that away kit’ in Berlin against Germany, we were treated to the first outing of the new ‘home’ version. Please note: your definition of treated may vary from Nike’s.

Wow. Having seen the press release shots, nothing could prepare us for just quite how bad this was in action. Whilst the figure hugging look sits fine on professional athletes, I fear for the ‘man in the pub’. But it wasn’t even that, the colour scheme is just vomit inducing.

Those lurid red socks, the blue stripe down the side and,of course, those bonkers coloured sleeves. Clearly part of the current Nike template, I was thinking that had it been available in long sleeves then the shirt would have looked like an offset from TV’s Space: 1999 (kids, ask your parents).

Koenig

Did England take kit inspiration from Space: 1999?

But, no. It wasn’t Gerry Anderson’s under-rated sci-fi classic where they seem to have taken inspiration from. Talking to one terrace wag about this theory, he then put another one to me.

Forget Moonabse Alpha, think Captain Kirk (and this wasn’t a reference to Wayne Rooney’s dodgy hairpiece). The new England shirt looked like it had been beamed straight off the set of 1979’s Star Trek:The Motion Picture.

I’m all for modern shirts looking like something from the 1970s. Any reader of the ‘kit obsessive’ articles in the Brentford match day programme will be aware of this. Likewise, and much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin, I’m partial to the odd bit of TV nerdery.

But whilst the thought of combining the two might seem like music to the ears, in reality it is a complete car crash of a kit. The England supporter’s band of shirt design, if you will.

StarTrekTMP01

Dodgy hair; dodgy kits. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

And talking of football’s most unwelcome guests, the off-key parping and stale trumpets were back again last night. Blah. The regular reader knows the drill by now – I’ll spare you another rant on there being more atmosphere on the moon than listening to moribund renditions of ‘The Great Escape’.

Dear FA. Nobody cares. They add nothing. They aren’t wanted. They wallow in delusions of self-importance. If you must inflict this horrible mess on us (kit) at least spare us a second and ‘ban the band’ for the Euros.

As for a final thought on the game last night, did ITV encourage us to “Gamble responsibly, drink recklessly?” The quote from the commentary team, just moments into the second half, seemed loud and clear to me. I know being sat next to Glenn Hoddle and forced to listen to ‘that band’ would be enough to turn you to drink but was this really sage advice to be handing out?

Still, all this is small fry compared to the action from Griffin Park earlier in the afternoon where the Brentford development squad had swept aside Barnsley 4-2. It was a comprehensive performance from the youngsters who, being honest, could really have inflicted brackets on their opponents – such was the level of our domination.

But to complain about only scoring four goals would be trite. It was just nice to get that winning feeling back at Griffin Park after what has been a particularly bleak 2016. Nathan Fox hit a sweet strike to follow up Bradley Clayton’s first half brace whilst Herson Alves hit the pick of the bunch with a curling beauty that put one in mind of a certain Alan Judge.

And on a personal note, a huge thank you to Mark Devlin and the Brentford family. Whilst yours truly was more than happy with the result, somebody else was chuffed to bit with a special appearance from Buzz.

THANK YOU

IMG_4308 (2)

Buzz does his thing in a special guest appearance

Nick Bruzon

ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 19.02.18

As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

Vintage-england-away-football-shirt-top-umbro-rare-classic2_1024x1024

No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

95120466_Jim_205862c

Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

Judge sends Switzerland down as an old friend returns

26 Mar

It would be wrong to start anywhere else today beyond offering a huge congratulations to Alan Judge after making his International debut last night, for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-0 home win over Switzerland. Joining an elite group that includes the likes of John Buttigieg and Gus Hurdle; Lasse Vibe and Stuart Dallas, Alan is now added to the roll of honour that lists Brentford players to have earned an International cap whilst plying their trade at Griffin Park.

This is a massive honour for Alan and due reward for his consistency in a season where, being honest, we haven’t hit the same heights as last time out for several well documented reasons. He has been our highest goal scorer and is the leading creator of ‘assists’ .

Indeed only David Button, in my opinion, can mount a challenge for ‘player of the year’ at the end of season awards – certainly in terms of consistency and quality. Without saying which my vote is going to go, I’d suggest it may be closer than some people might think. Certainly, it deserves to be.

This does also beg the larger question of what happens next (with apologies to anybody now traumatised by the thought of Sue Barker doing her cringeworthy ‘faux banter’ routine with Matt Dawson).

Given the number of sales Brentford had seen so far this season, most of us outside of club corridors were fully expecting Alan to leave in the January transfer window. That he didn’t was a huge relief although equally (and putting to one side some of the nonsense being written on certain ‘forums’), only the most optimistic of supporters expects him to be with us for the start of the next campaign.

A clear ability to play beyond this level, combined with the attention of Premier League clubs, will I am sure only hasten his departure. Chuck into the mix this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament where he should, at the least, be selected for his countries squad and it really will be time to start saying farewell.

image

View from the Braemar – Alan Judge has shone for Brentford this season

This isn’t to wish him any ill will at all, quite the opposite. His promotion sealing penalty against Preston North End was the stuff of legend whilst he more than held his own last time out as Brentford stunned all comers to eventually finish fifth in the Championship table and come within a whisker of reaching the Premier League. Then we have this season where he has continued to shine despite what we shall politely call a winter of discontent to follow our summertime blues.

Instead, let’s just appreciate what we have whilst Alan is still here. I’d love to be proven wrong and see him with us next season but not even I’m that naïve. Sad though it is, I’m just being realistic. We have 9 games left to enjoy his talents (at least, in red and white) and trust he can play his part in The Bees securing those last few points needed to ensure Championship safety.

The other point of note from last night was away from the International scene and, instead, back home where Clem has returned to the public eye. Supporters may recall his work last season where his weekly appearances on The Football League show seemed to go hand in hand with jinxing whichever team he was featuring in role as roving reporter. Such was his bad luck that it inspired the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature which made up part of our own Championship season review.

Whilst the Football League show may have been replaced by Football on 5 this season, Clem is still doing his thing. Albeit on BT Sport where Friday evening saw him covering Tranmere Rovers v Lincoln City.

And whilst his win buster routine seems to have fallen by the wayside (Rovers eventually taking the points in a 3-2 victory), it seems he is still getting himself into hot water. Quite literally…

Nick Bruzon

Is anyone courting the Judge?

17 Nov

Congratulations to Alan Judge and the Republic of Ireland who last night qualified for the finals of EURO 2016. Getting out of a group including Germany, Poland and the potential potato skin of Gibraltar is no mean feat. Moreso to follow it up with a play off victory against Bosnia-Herzcegovina that saw the first leg shrouded in fog and the second in emotion following Friday’s events in Paris. And if Lasse Vibe’s Denmark can do the needful against Sweden in Copenhagen tonight, then Brentford could have even more representation at the summer tournament.

Whilst Alan didn’t feature last night (although he was on the bench for the first leg) it shows, again, the developing strength in both the Brentford team and the Championship as a whole. The side that won in Dublin featured league counterparts Richard Keogh and Jeff Hendrick of Derby County along with Ipswich Town striker Daryl Murphy. And with Austria already qualified, then the Bees could have even more representation in Marco Djuricin.

Still, all that is a long way off. We don’t even know if all involved will be at Griffin Park by that point. Djuricin is, of course, only here on loan (albeit we have the option to buy) whilst Alan Judge is no doubt going to be the number one target for those looking to further plunder a club that has seen Moses Odubajo, Stuart Dallas, Andre Gray and Northern Ireland international Will Grigg all leave over the summer for 7(seven) figure sums.

Alan’s performances have, rightly, earned him the divisional player of the month award for October. He is the one that supporters are worried will be the next to go but will it happen? Could it happen? Do we have any choice – either financially or personally? Quite simply, the lure of the Premier League might be too much for us to compete with, regardless of any other factor.

Alan Judge and Lee Carsley

 

October saw the profile of Alan, and Brentford, raised further

This isn’t me trying to scaremonger. I’m just being realistic. We’ve had these jitters before and the last two season’s January transfer window – with the Bees pushing for promotion to the Championship and Premier League respectively – have been torturous times.

The good news then was that nobody left midseason but this time around it feels different. The well documented managerial situation, along with those huge summer sales, have many fans fearful that, in conjunction with Alan’s own stunning success, we could be preparing to say farewell.

Understandably, Brentford ‘official’ will not say anything about potential transfers whilst there hasn’t been a sniff of a rumour from our beloved local press or other sources (close to the club). The transfer window isn’t due to open for another six weeks but as we get closer to, and then enter, that period I have no doubt the stories will crank up.

Let’s be clear – I don’t want Alan or any of our prized assets go. No doubt the likes of Jota, Sam Saunders, David Button and Harlee Dean (to name but a few) will also be linked with the big leagues come January. I’m not so naïve as to think we are untouchable – the summer alone showed that. It is all part of what makes up the modern game and a club such as ours, which has seen some huge investment, doing what it needs to in order to ensure we comply with all the rules around FFP.

I’m merely putting this out there because, genuinely, I have no idea which way things are going to go at the end of next month. We have a big squad, especially in midfield, when everybody is fully fit. Equally, those players in form only have the potential to get even better as part of a settled team.

Instead, let’s hope that some more results like those in October keep that push up the League going. Then, it could all be a moot point.

Nick Bruzon