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One down. Five to go. We’re still in this.

8 Apr

One down, five to go. Brentford made it back to back wins as Neal Maupay’s penalty and Daniel Bentley’s record (at this level for a Bees ‘keeper) 14th clean sheet of the campaign proved to be the difference over an Ipswich Town side that began the game with Luke Hyam in the team and ended it with 10 players after running out of substitutes. Whilst, as ever, the likes of Beesotted and ‘official’ are usually the places to go for your match reports, in this case they really are. For reasons out of my control I had to miss this one. Instead of sitting at Griffin Park, I found myself holed up in a random pub with some random Barnsley fans (amongst others), watching the Merseyside derby and getting somewhat over excited by the Tykes comeback against Sheffield United. This before Birmingham City managed an 87th minute equaliser against fellow relegation candidates Burton Albion that brought everybody present back down to earth with a bump.

By that point though, it was too late to be overly concerned. Much as I’d love to see ‘ten times better’ Birmingham slip through the relegation trapdoor, primary focus has to be on Brentford. We’d absolutely done the needful despite a butt clenching final few minutes of time added on that had been spent waiting for the scores to refresh and confirm our 1-0 victory.

To be honest, I had considered spending the afternoon with Mark Burridge sneaking into my ear via a discreetly placed headphone. However, despite the wise words normally spoken by our commentator par excellence the lure of another beer in the afternoon sunshine and the somewhat less appealing prospect of Stoke City v Spurs on TV won out.

In a way, I’m glad. Not so much the sitting through the Stoke game (if ever there was any added incentive needed to go for the play-offs then just the prospect of bypassing them in the divisions should be sufficient) but more missing out on a match that sounded hard work. With Mick McCarthy setting his Ipswich team up on us man for man, it was always going to be a tough one for the fans. If you had to miss a game then in retrospect, and from a footballing perspective, this one sounds like it was up there.

Flicking through social media at full time, Chief Executive Mark Devlin seems to have summarised the feelings of most fans when he noted : “Thanks for your support and well done to the team. It was by no means a classic but the players got the job done.”

Likewise, Bees boss Dean Smith was quick to pay tribute to both his counterpart and the opposition. His post match interview (which you can catch up on in full over on ‘official’) includes the observation that Ipswich “Made it very difficult for us to get our free-flowing football going. We found chances hard to come by. We were due a penalty like that; it was soft and I would be slightly annoyed if it was given against us.

Hey, sometimes you just have to take the chances when they are offered. At this stage in the game, a win is a win. Whether scrappy, deserved, fortunate or other. That gap to the playoffs remains five points with five games to go. It’s all about getting the result and that’s what Brentford did. Whilst it may not have sounded like the most aesthetically pleasing performance, you get a feeling of what this one meant to all concerned. MrJamie88 summarising it quite beautifully on Twitter, with a bit of help from Sergi Canos.

Next up, the trip to Nottingham Forest awaits on Tuesday. There are five games to go. Five mini cup finals. Keep picking up the wins and I’ve no doubt we’ll be celebrating like a certain Russell Slade once so famously opined. Cliche alert but…..it really is about taking one game at a time whilst, perhaps, hoping for a favour along the way. It happened in 91/92; it could happen again.

Yet without wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves, at the bottom end of the table I’ve got half an eye on Barnsley. Yesterday showed yet again why I’d love them to stay up. Great fans and great camaraderie. There’s the added incentive that their safety would put even more pressure on Garry Monk’s Birmingham City team. With our final away game of the campaign being a trip to Oakwell, how big could that one turn out to be? Hopefully their fate will be well sealed by that point – in a positive way. Hopefully we’ll have carried on picking up the points that will make that game of quintessential relevance.

Before that, though, we’ve the Forest game and then a West London derby double header . First the trip to Fulham and then the home game with QPR. With just that handful of games to go, the season has got a ridiculous amount of fun left in it still and I can’t wait.

As one final word of note, how great to have Alan Judge back in a Griffin Park starting XI. Moreso given the opposition and their own line up. I won’t deny I felt a genuine pang of excitement when the team sheet was published at 2pm. What a journey back from the depths. What a team to do it against.

Nice one, Alan.

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The view from Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

 

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Six of the best and who knows what could happen…

7 Apr

Match day. Saturday. Apparently. With the games coming thick and fast for Brentford after a hectic Easter weekend it’s hard to tell where we are at times. Yet following that four day flurry which saw the draw with Sheffield United followed by our wonderful win on the road at Bristol City, today Ipswich Town are the visitors to Griffin Park. Could we take inspiration from Liverpool to make the seemingly impossible, possible?

Ipswich Town. A club who have a deserved place in the footballing record books. A club with whom even just for Brentford, there seems to have been more than a crossing of paths in recent seasons. Of course, ‘official’ have picked the 2-2 that welcomed in the mercifully brief Marinus era for their ‘moment in time’ on the club website today.

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Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the Marinus era.

That one being a game which featured the return of a club legend in the eyes of many supporters, Jonathan Douglas. His only meaningful contribution being to break Jota as late goals from Andre Gray and number 26 salvaged a situation that seemed well beyond redemption with the score line reading 2-0 to the visitors and just moments on the clock. The post match handbags between the players masking the true extent of the Spaniard’s injury.

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Bees Player viewers saw Dougie appear to give Jota a ‘flamboyant slap’ at FT

You could also cite the game at Portman Road the previous season. Not so much the 1-1 score line, in which Dougie proved hero rather than villain this time around, but more for Daryl Murphy missing an open goal that even Ian Moose would have fancied himself to score. BBC Radio Suffolk matchday pundit Mick Mills would later describe it as: “Breathtaking. It will go into the top ten all time misses. If you can find ten worse ones I’d like to see them.”

Hey. Everybody’s a critic. We’re all master tacticians and 40 goal a season strikers when watching from the comfort of the terrace, tv or gantry. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a commentator got something wrong and you can’t knock Murphy’s fine, fine record at Ipswich. That said, I’m still amazed at how he failed to find the back of the net.

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And Murphy must score. Erm….

Yet for me (Clive), the quintessential coming together took place on Boxing Day of 2014. With Mark Warburton’s Brentford team riding the crest of the #NovemberKings wave (it doesn’t get any easier typing those words), Ipswich visited Griffin Park for a battle between the teams placed 2nd and 3rd in the Championship. With our game kicking off at lunchtime, whoever won would be guaranteed to top the table, even if just for a few hours.

The prospect of Brentford reaching these dizzy heights was one which was not lost on us. The December 26th game is always a special one anyway. The chance to shake off any excesses of the day before, escape the in-laws for a few hours whilst catching up with your friends and football family. The thought of what three points might bring made this one even more tantalising.

Nineteen seconds after kick off, that man Murphy took the wind out of our sails with an opening goal that was made all the more incredible by Brentford having actually had the ball to start the game. Not only was it under our control but we conspired to give it away and gift our visitors a belated Christmas present that was gratefully accepted.

Things got worse. With less than half an hour on the clock we’d had our fourth attempt to perfect that kick-off routine as the score leapt to 0-3. Despite a late brace from Sam Saunders we were never in this one and his pair only served to dress up a 4-2 scoreline in what was as one sided a game as I’ve seen in a while.

That was then. This is now. Brentford have six games to go to reel in a five point gap on the play off places. It’s a huge ask, for sure, but with the finish line in sight then what better time to line ourselves up for one final push. I’ll be honest, for huge parts of this season it is a push that I wouldn’t have bet on us being in a position to make. Yet, somehow, Dean Smith and his boys have kept at it. The results have kept coming and some have even worked in our favour.

Monday’s defeat of Bristol City was as dominant as they come, with Neal Maupay’s goal sealing the points that our domination had warranted. It was a performance that brings us bang up to date and in with a shout if the Bees can hold their nerve. Moreso, it was a game that marked Alan Judge’s first start for The Bees since the horrific leg break he suffered as a result of the assault by Luke Hyam at Portman Road back in April 2016. To go from the verge of the Euros to that long recovery must have been incredibly hard to take.

Full kudos to Alan and the Brentford back room team. Whether he starts this one remains to be seen but a Brentford team with Alan Judge in the side are a stronger outfit than one without him.

I really can’t wait to see how it plays out. Anybody watching the Liverpool – Manchester City game in the Champions League during the week will have seen what a difference it makes playing in a passionate arena. What an impact it can have on opposition who are streets ahead in terms of financial clout and league position. That’s not so much to compare Ipswich to Manchester City but more to show the impact a united crowd can have. It was something truly special to witness. For all the awfulness of having to play ‘Liverpool Glory, Glory Anfield European nights’ bingo, the Kop really were like a 12th man (house!).

The Ealing Road stand may not have the same depth as that most iconic seat of football Valhalla. However, size isn’t everything and what we lack in stature we can more than make up for in noise. Here’s hoping that come 3pm, our fans come together to raise the roof. With ‘other results’ going our way and the players doing their thing, imagine what it will be like should that five point gap shrink any further?

Bring it on…..

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Last time, at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

Head in the sand? Or glass half full optimism?

20 Aug

The morning after the night before. Brentford returned home empty handed from Portman Road yesterday as a 2-0 defeat saw Ipswich Town continuing their 100% record in the Championship. With Wolves, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday next up for the Bees in the league, can we expect any respite from our own bad luck and bottom of the table placing? Are we just a bounce of the ball away from administering a tonking and picking up our first three point haul of the season? Or are we locked in a downward spiral of self-pity with no means of arresting a slide?

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Will Harlee stay a Bee and win back his armband?

 

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My relegation tip have four wins from four . Move along etc

Nick Bruzon

More domination. More defeat. Thoughts after Town sting Bees.

19 Aug

Brentford fans, fire up the ‘copy/paste’. Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games.

Ipswich aced the one stat that counts, goals scored. They played us like a fiddle. Martyn Waghorn’s 35th minute opener was so far against the run of play Mick McCarthy must have been almost embarrassed to take it. But we know better than to expect embarrassment from Mick. Who could forget his shameless comments about Luke Hyam’s assault on Alan Judge two seasons ago? And we know just what to expect from his Ipswich teams.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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There was little return in the second half

 

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Nice font. Shame about the score

 

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The first half, at least

Nick Bruzon

Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. A week in football

15 Aug

Brentford have beaten Ipswich Town. Nottingham Forest await.  Aston Villa finally recorded a ‘w-i-n’. Something so rare it needs to be spelt out for confirmation that it really did happen. Newcastle United join Leeds in flirting with the relegation trapdoor whilst their latest conquerors, Huddersfield Town, join Bristol City and the Loftus Road mob join at the top of the table.

That’s the first two rounds of Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the first of a new, regular feature for a Monday morning we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

We’ll start off at Griffin Park, naturally, where aside from the Bees recording that fine win there have been a few other things to keep your eye on.

Just how many phones mobiles does Josh McEachran actually own? And if just the one, why does he need so many personalised cases?

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The Last Word isn’t the only one to have new, regular features . Over at Beesotted, the team have launched their latest, resplendent with it’s own hashtag (Billy, you know how much we love those on these pages).

Following on from a wonderful season opener with Kitman Bob (the club are so lucky to have somebody who interacts with the fans as openly as he does) it is the turn of Carl Hutchings to …#HangTheBeeJay

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Dave, Billy and the team always provide great listening. This new bitesize feature is no exception. You can get it here for a quick blast on the way to work

There’s a new member to the Brentford family where the LGBeeT group have just launched on Twitter. In their own words, “We are LGBT+ Brentford FC fans – Join us, you don’t need to be LGBT, all friendly Bees fans are welcome!

Good luck guys. I’ve signed up. And I’m loving that 21st Century Funky Bee. Whilst there’s only one true Funky Bee, this comes a very close second. Somebody should stick it on a T-shirt.

In the meantime, anybody wishing to take a look and add to your ‘follow list’ can do so here.

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Move over Buzzette. There’s a new Funky Bee in town

Next on the Brentford front, we seem to have a few amateurs in the club shop. And Harlee Dean. Not on the playing front but more in the modelling side where the club’s decision to include supporters in the new shirt campaign has seen the next phase revealed.

This is included not from any narcissistic purpose but simply to highlight the stunning work the club did in their pre-season work. What great touch involving the fans in the reveal and publicity shots for our new shirt. Thank you again.

Brentford club shop

And finally in Brentford opinion, just how nice was it to have football back at Griffin Park?

Truing the corner of Lateward Road to see the fans enjoying the prematch atmosphere outside The Griffin always puts a little spring in the step. Ipswich provided great value, as ever. Here’s to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

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Where’s Wally? Spot the Brentford fan

Away from Griffin Park, there has been just as much ‘other stuff’ happening.

Aston Villa seem to have forgotten they are now in the Championship. A gold medal to @Swan_1878 for putting the Villa Park outfit firmly back in their place.

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Leeds United supporters are already worried they might not be in the Championship for much longer.Fortunately, there’s always somebody else to rely on.

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Whilst down in League One, Charlton continue to make friends and influence. Aston Villa weren’t the only club to be put in their place this week. Whilst they were simply the beneficiaries of their own ego and a quick witted observer on Twitter, Charlton were owned by Cheltenham Town. On and off the pitch.

As the Addicks crashed out of the EFL Cup, the Cheltenham programme editor but his balls on the line to publish what so many supporters feel.

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Then, just when it couldn’t get any worse for Charlton. It did.

And to compound the felony, they shot themselves in the foot with the leaked letter about behavioural contracts for supporters having the temerity to criticise the club on social media.

Fortunately, our own Chief Executive Mark Devlin has already confirmed this is not a route we’ve ever even considered.

Sanity prevails at Griffin Park.

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What a start to the home campaign. Pants?

14 Aug

What a Championship Saturday. Brentford made it 7(seven) points out of 9 from our last 3 encounters with Ipswich Town as Dean Smith’s team recorded their first win of the season. Newcastle United stay out of the relegation zone by virtue of their alphabetical superiority to Preston (both teams amongst five still on nil points) whilst Huddersfield Town and Bristol City top the lot.

Football is back. At Griffin Park, that is. Whatever Gary Lineker and the rest of the Premier League pundits may tell you about it being a new season, football didn’t return yesterday but has already been with us for a good week.  A week that saw Brentford go down 2-1 at Huddersfield and then limp out of the cup at Exeter City. A week that has already seen initial outpourings of social media drivel and nonsense as to the capabilities of our management and squad. Each to their own, I suppose. At least there’s no danger of a Charlton style banning order.

Then again, what does Gary know about football?

To read the rest of this article, 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. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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There was nothing awkward about the vibe in the BBC studio whatsoever

 

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View from the New Road – Mick wonders what’s going on

 

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View from the Braemar – despite kicking the wrong way, the Bees recorded a fine win

Nick Bruzon

As Ipswich visit Brentford, Charlton go mad and Solo goes home.

13 Aug

Finally. Match day at Griffin Park. Brentford entertain Ipswich Town with the smart money wondering just which of our players they’ll attempt to break this time around (hey, we may aswell get it out early). Charlton Athletic, already as popular as a Mexican at Donald Trump rally, have ‘gone again’ whilst, with Lasse Vibe continuing his quest for Olympic gold, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has done her very best to make events at the Valley seem (relatively) sane.

First up though, we can only start with the Bees where Ipswich Town are the first visitors to Griffin Park in 2016/17. It would be fair to say that Brentford very much ended with the advantage over Ipswich last time around.

To read the rest of this article, 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. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

 

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other pubs are available too

 

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Nick Bruzon

Kit Obsessive : Ipswich Town

12 Aug

Ipswich Town are the visitors to Griffin Park on Saturday with Brentford looking to get their first points, and win, on the board for 2016/17. Whilst you’ll find the usual match previews kicking around elsewhere, in addition we’re taking a different approach this season. Following on from yesterday’s new, regular feature about our forthcoming visitors The Last Word on… it’s time for another new, regular feature. New, that is, to these pages.

Kit obsessive is back. Originally submitted to last season’s match day programme, a third season in the Championship means that with the exception of 6 new teams it is ground previously covered – at least for those who buy that publication. So whilst I gather that articles on the likes of Aston Villa, Barnsley et al will still appear in that format this time around, repeating the feature would not reveal anything new.

That said, for those who missed out on the programme then I have been asked by at least one Last Word reader  if it would be possible to re-run them this year. And by ‘at least one‘ I mean, ‘actually one‘. But why not?

As a self confessed kit-obsessive, I have what some would probably term an unhealthy fascination with team colours. Of course Brentford are at the forefront of this interest as the club has, over the years, made some pretty decent stabs at changing the red and white stripes around. However, with a few odd exceptions we follow a fairly similar template.

The same cannot always be said for our opponents, though. Using no more scientific criteria than personal taste, this feature sees us delving into the historical kit bag to select the best, the worst, a sublime away and an unfortunate design/retro classic worn by our opponents through the ages. So without further ado, here’s Kit Obsessive: Ipswich Town.

Since their inception for the start of the 1888 season Ipswich Town had, like the Bees, largely worn stripes – albeit blue and white. However, unlike the Bees they ditched these in 1936, switching to predominantly blue offset with white trim and (until the mid ‘60s) white sleeves.

But with over 125 years of history to choose from, which have made the hall of fame and which should be left to rot in the chamber of horrors?

The best: Umbro 1992-94. In my opinion, Ipswich have had some real stunners to chose from over the years. The Adidas designs from 1977 to 1989, synonymous with FA Cup triumph and the UEFA Cup victory, all reek of quality. That said, I’m genuinely in two minds about the red chest stripe that accompanied the 1985-86 effort.

Ipswich pic 1An innovative break from tradition or a sickening abomination that shattered the otherwise unsullied blue with all the subtly of an oil tanker? The only people definitely smiling about it being the club sponsors, Radio Orwell – think Alan Partridge had he opted for Suffolk rather than East Anglia and neighbours, Norwich.

But my winner in this category comes from that phase in the early 90s when retro was the new cool. Specifically 1992-94. Clubs opted for big badges, old style shirts, pin stripes and even lace up collars.

Umbro were leaders in this trend and nowhere better than at Portman Road. Whilst Manchester United, Aston Villa and even Oldham Athletic made decent stabs at this look, none came close to Ipswich Town who married the perfect mix of blue, red trim and a return for the white sleeves with some old school chic.

 

The Worst: Punch 2005-07 .Ipswich Town have, to be fair, largely bypassed this category – certainly compared to some of our divisional rivals. However, even the Tractor Boys aren’t exempt when it comes to those that should probably be forgotten about.

Mitre’s effort from 2007-09 is a clumsy attempt at the vintage style carried off so effortlessly by Umbro. Looking somewhat generic, it’s less old school, more primary school whilst not even John Wark can save the Core 1995-96 away shirt – bottle green and burgundy – which puts one in mind of a poor man’s Portugal.

But the winner comes down to a choice between two and, as I’m saving one for the ‘unfortunate design’ category, it has to go to Punch 2005-07. This opts for blue with white, but the latter colour to an extent that looks as though a drunken groundsman has ‘gone rogue’ with the pitch markings when painting the touchline.

It has an expanding sash that starts on the shoulder and grows out, all the way to the waist. This is less subtle trim and more something that looks like a prototype costume for one of the Thunderbirds pilots.

Worse, the design continues onto the shorts where there is even an equivalent blue swoosh. Truly, one that should be consigned to the waste bin of history.

Ipswich PIC 4

The away: Adidas 1986-89 Where to go with this, given Ipswich have had as many top quality away shirts as they have had home?

In the end though, it was a toss up on the mid to late 80s. Whilst the Radio Orwell Adidas effort may have split opinion when it came to the home effort, there’s no question the bold red stripe only enhances things against the white of the away kit.

But I’ve elected for the successor to that one, another Adidas production, as the most stylish Ipswich Town away kit. The winner is the Fisons sponsored 1986-89 (yes, teams wore the same shirt for more than one season back then).

Bedecked in the inverse club colours of all white, with blue trim, this also featured a subtle diagonal two-tone strip effect. Simple but stunning.

Ipswich PIC 5

The unfortunate design: Core 1995-97 Just as the faux Thunderbirds sash was a close contender, the winner here could as easily been triumphant in the worst shirt category. And, again, we also need to take a sideways glance at the world of TV Sci-Fi.

You have to feel for Core. They actually produced a fairly decent set of kits for Brentford in the mid90s but, alas, at Portman Road things were somewhat different.

We’ve already mentioned their away version from 95-96 but the home from that (and the following) season is even worse. The top half starts decently enough with a traditional deep blue but as we make our way down the shirt, things take a turn for the peculiar.

The blue starts to merge into white, gradually replacing the primary colour until by the final third we are all white. It is a design gimic that even continues onto the arms.

At best it looks like the players have been caught in a snow drift; at worst, as though they have just given the order to “Beam me up, Scotty”, Star Trek style, and the transporter beam has taken hold.

ipswich design

Nick Bruzon

The Last Word On….

11 Aug

With Championship action back on the agenda, Ipswich Town are next up for Brentford. As such, we have the first in a new regular feature about our forthcoming home opponents :  The Last Word on….  Much like ‘kit obsessive’, which will also return ahead of most home games, this features a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors with the results picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions (and to sensitive Manchester United supporters) here is: The Last Word on…..Ipswich Town

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both) : It can only be Jonathan Douglas, surely? What about Nicky Forster ? Marcus Bent, maybe? Who could forget Icelandic demigod Hermann Hreidarsson ?

But no, my choice goes to Jay Tabb.

Part of my all time Brentford XI (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett),  the Bees picked him up in 2000 after being released by Crystal Palace. The wing wizard went on to make 128 appearances, aswell as earning 10 Ireland U-21 caps, culminating in the doomed play off campaign (is there another type?) against Swansea City in 2006.

The ever-popular Tabby left for (then) Championship Coventry, has since tasted top-flight football with Reading before making just shy of 80 appearances for Ipswich Town.

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Tabby in action for the Bees

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees): It is only in recent seasons where our paths have crossed with any form of regularity – certainly in my lifetime. As such, I’m going for the opening game of last season’s Championship campaign. With Brentford fans getting their initial taste of life under Marinus Dijkhuizen it also marked our first game without Jonathan Douglas – the new head coach having immediately released him from his duties at Griffin Park.

Where else but Ipswich Town would be his next destination as the Tractor Boys, with the former Bee on the bench, swept into a two goal lead despite an appalling playing surface that would quickly adopt the pitchgate monicker. Just twelve minutes remained as Dougie entered the (ploughed) field of play with the score still set at 0-2.

This was still sufficient time for Douglas to both break Jota in an ‘accidental’ challenge that would see the ever popular Spaniard miss out for the next few months and oversee a near certain victory turn into a draw. Goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski in the heart of Jota time rescuing a 97th minute point for Brentford.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player) : For the casual observer, there can be only one choice. Famous names from the Ipswich Town’s heyday include those such as Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren and Mick Mills.

However, for me it has to be John Wark. Voted the club’s all time cult hero in the BBC’s 2004 poll, who am I to disagree? A Scottish international, he was their player of the year 4 times in 6 seasons over a career that encompassed three spells from 1975 to 1996. With FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner’s medals in his cabinet (not to mention acting honours) there can be no other.

Famous fan: Ipswich have a few. Their director’s box is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the rich and famous.Tom Chaplin from Keane, Charlie Eyebrows from Busted. Brian Cant. Yes, THE Brian Cant. Let’s hope The Tractor Boys don’t play away as wonderfully as the voice of TV’s Trumpton (kids, ask your parents).

But perhaps the biggest of all is Chester Bennington from U.S. rockers Linkin Park. Supposedly introduced to the club  by his father (a police office who had become friends with a fan from Suffolk one holiday) he has been pictured in the team colours  although it would seem he is yet to actually attend a game.

Presumably, if he did rather than sitting on the side you’d find him… in the end

linkin park ipswich

Bennington. A Tractor Boy, apparently…

Best ever league performance: There are sure to be plenty but one sticks out in particular for me. A top flight destruction of Manchester United by a staggering 6-0. That’s one short of brackets.

Back in March 1980 Bobby Robson’s boys, inspired by Town’s Dutch duo of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, destroyed a Manchester United side whose fans were left sining “We want 7(seven)”. Who doesn’t?

It could have been worse but for Gary Bailey in the United goal. The Red Devil’s ‘keeper saving three penalties, one of which had even been retaken.

It’s here, in fuzzy 80’s pixel vision

Moment of ignominy :4th March 1995. Roles were reversed. And then some. Manchester United setting a Premier League record for the largest winning margin as they humbled Town 9-0. Those beautiful brackets were achieved in little over an hour as they almost made it to double figures. Incredibly, less than 44,000 were present at Old Trafford for this one. How times have changed (or perhaps Season ticket holders were just impacted by trouble on the line up from Guildford).

Manager of the century ( most famous / popular manager) : There is only ever one answer to this question – the legend that is Sir Bobby Robson. In charge at Portman Road from 1969 to 1982, he took his club to the brink of the top flight title with a win ratio of close to 45% over this 13 year period.

Double silverware came with the 1977-78 FA Cup and the 1980-81 UEFA Cup before he left to take on an eight year spell in charge of the England team that culminated in that World cup semi-final heartache against Germany .

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement): You could pick any of the victories or cups noted above but, for me, Ipswich Town have a much bigger and totally unique place in football history. Specifically,  their representation in the film Escape To Victory.

This, a regular entrant to my all time ‘top ten’ films and one of that rare breed to successfully straddle the twin themes of football and WW2 POW camp escape

The aforementioned Wark appears (naturellement). As does Russell Osman, Robin Turner, Kevin O’Callaghan and Laurie Sivell. In addition, body doubles Kevin Beattie and Paul Cooper filled in for Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone during some of the ‘match action’ scenes.

John Wark and Pele. Together. Only in Escape to Victory.

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We can win this…..

Nick Bruzon