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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?

First up, we’re only four games in. Four. Games. That wonderful attacking intent of pre-season has continued. So have the buckets of goals going in. Having now had a chance to see yesterday’s highlights which are up on Sky, the first was a complete horror show. A sloppy moment in midfield; an unfortunate bounce from Nico’s challenge; a lethargic foot out from Harlee who couldn’t have trapped a bag of cement on that effort. Yet it was more the amount of Brentford players around Martyn Waghorn, who still somehow managed to wriggle through and home, that was as bad as any individual contribution to that one.

See also : the third goal scored by Nottingham Forest. The 98th minute equaliser scored by Bristol City. It is something Dean would afterwards describe to Brentford official as a little bit of déjà vu.

First-half I thought we were tremendous: we created a lot of chances but didn’t take them. They have one ricochet and score. It is a little bit of déjà vu.” said Dean in an interview you can read here.

That’s the downside. Sloppiness is being punished consistently. Sometimes a simple hoof or a foot in the right place is all you need. Possession and stats count for nothing if we can’t put them away. We shouldn’t have to rely on scoring to both win the game and over compensate for those random moments of the defence going awol.

But the plus side is the way we are playing going forward. That we are still looking like a very dangerous team despite the absence of Sergi Canos and Jota out on the flanks. Just remember how our team set up was transformed last season after we ditched the central play through the middle to Scott Hogan and used two natural wide men. Hogan’s sale to Aston Villa could well have been the best thing that happened all campaign. The consequential performances, and results, were there for all to see following a woeful run prior to New Year.

The team would go on to blitz the likes of Derby County, Leeds United, QPR and Villa at Griffin Park. Stunning performances where blitzkrieg assault was rewarded. Where the defence held firm.

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Dean’s squad pulled out all the stops after Christmas

Those players are all still here. More have come in. Here lies Dean’s challenge. How does he combine them? How does he pick his best defensive combo and then stick with it. How does he stop the ‘senior moments’ before they become a mindset rather than an ad-hoc glitch?

The wrangling around Harlee’s contract hasn’t helped. He’s lost the captaincy as a result although at least is playing now. That said, for how long with talk of rival Championship clubs sniffing around?

I’ve genuinely no idea what is going on there – have we made a derisory offer that sees him off the pace compared to marquee signings who have since come in over the last few seasons? That we should be doing everything we can to keep him? Or does the player’s agent have unrealistic expectations and is holding the club to ransom over the prospect of losing a terrace legend, our captain, our most experienced team member and our player of the season?

Either way, the sooner this is sorted and we know what is happening the better. Once this blinkin’ window closes and we know who is part of this squad.

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Will Harlee stay a Bee and win back his armband?

I don’t envy Dean Smith. In his previous two campaigns we’ve had horrible runs. Pre-Christmas last time out and then spring time the season he took over after the Marinus experiment. Both times he turned it around and got us playing out of our skin. One point out of four games this time around isn’t so much a run as a series of unfortunate events conspiring against us.

I’ve read some ludicrous comments on social media at the moment. That Dean should be sacked. That King Kev should be installed as head coach . That it’s all doom and gloom. I take you back to the earlier comment – we’re only four games in. Come back to me in a month and we’ll have a much better idea of how the land lies.

Then again, what do I know. I tipped Ipswich Town to be relegated.

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

Nick Bruzon

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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.

Solid at the back, we just couldn’t break them down in that final third. Cynical in the challenge, with minimal protection offered by referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle seemed set to ‘press and guess’ mode. Forget Oliver, Bonnie would have done a better job.

But let’s not gripe. With no Jota (dodgy lower back. Apparently) no Josh and no Rico once more it meant further changes were required. Maxime had to continue at left back with Dalsgaard at right. Flo Jo ahead of him with Ollie Watkins pushed out left. Despite all the pressing, nothing came. The Bees couldn’t find a way through despite Nico rattling the bar, Kamo coming close and Jozefzoon somehow conspiring to head straight down the keeper’s throat when unmarked in front of the goal.

We had chances; we couldn’t take them. Ipswich got their game together. Got their defence organised. Brentford couldn’t adapt. Too static. Too many players out of position. Even Lasse Vibe suffering an injury related ‘sub subbed’ that saw a debut for Theo Archibald.

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There was little return in the second half

By this point we were two down. Rather than come flying out of the traps to pick up where we’d left off, Brentford were bogged down. Joe Garner headed home a corner on 51 and that was it. Mr. Langford’s assistant confirming the validity of his effort via the medium of goal line technology and with it, consigning us to another nil points.

Try as we might, nothing came. Ipswich had it on lockdown. A fourth Championship win on the spin that sees them second only to Cardiff City in the fledgling table. Coming out of the stadium, there was nothing but plaudits from the home fans for our play. Acknowledgement that they’d ridden their luck early on.

All nice to hear but it doesn’t gloss over the fact that we haven’t scored and we’ve gone home empty handed with nothing but memories of good pies and what I saw BBC Billy Reeves declare as the “Best football font.” All very frustrating but take nothing away from Town.

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Nice font. Shame about the score

So what next? Even allowing for the absences, Dean has enough talent in his squad to fashion a wonderful team. Kamo, Romaine and Nico all looked a cut above. The first half especially. The second was typified by our inability to get in behind a progressively deeper and deeper Ipswich defence. By the lack of any real runners.

Bur he needs to get the tactics right. To get the selection right. Perhaps just get that run of luck – with injuries and even refereeing.

Am I worried? No. Look, I’m not a (complete) idiot. One point and bottom of the table isn’t anyone’s preferred position. Certainly not mine. But the first half was one of quite breathtaking forward play where we did everything but score. As with Forest, we conceded well into the first half and early into the second. Neither were particularly good goals to look back on and I’m sure Dean will have words. I hope he does.

The questions being, what does he learn and what does he do next? Can he eradicate these sloppy moments?

Equally, how is Jota’s back? Will it be a similar injury to Scott Hogan’s buttocks? Could Sergi return? Will we keep a clean sheet?

Talk to Brentford fans at the moment and the subject on everyone’s mind is, of course, Lionel Road. It would be great if we were discussing three points.

Roll on next weekend and Wolves when we get the chance.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

Selection posers for Dean but will there be a Swift return? For Mark.

12 Apr

One can’t over emphasise the importance of Brentford having inflicted such a comprehensive defeat on Ipswich Town over the weekend. Three successive wins also saw another three goal display, following the previous victories over Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest. But, for me (Clive), it was the calibre of the opposition that was just as pleasing this time around.

Make no mistake, Ipswich were still harbouring play-off aspirations. The key word being ‘were’ – it’s safe to say those are dead in the water now. Likewise, it would be equally fair to say we’ve struggled against them since our promotion to the Championship. Two tough draws and that heavy Boxing Day defeat at Griffin Park, where victory would have seen Mark Warburton’s Bees go top of the table, have placed the Tractor Boys close to the Middlesbrough category when it comes to teams we’ve struggled with.

Equally, I’ve heard some naysayers talking about the quality of the opposition prior to that game. Bolton were doomed whilst Nottingham Forest had hit freefall and, even by their own supporters’ admission, put in one of the worst performances seen in that second half.

Brentford Bolton Griffin Park

A handful of Bolton fans were present as Brentford continued their winning run

Hey. As has been said before, you can only beat who is in front of you and we’ve struggled against poor teams in the past. But it does make the next few games – home to Bristol City and Cardiff City – very interesting.

Nobody needs any reminding of what happened to Alan Judge on Saturday. That said, the universal reaction of love and support from the Brentford fans aswell as many from Ipswich – shocked by Luke Hyam’s brutal assault – has provided some small level of comfort. Likewise, you can only have been moved by the philosophical approach and positivity shown in the subsequent statement and photograph that the Judge released.

Being pragmatic, we still have those Bristol and Cardiff games to prepare for and they are going to provide Dean Smith with further selection challenges. Alan would, of course, have been one of the first names on the team sheet but we know that is not going to happen again this season. So what will Dean do?

Konstantin Kerschbaumer, like the rest of his team mates, gave a very well received performance coming off the bench at Portman Road. Does he keep his place? What about Nico Yennaris? He, of course, playing in his new midfield role had scored in those two wins prior to Ipswich before missing that one through illness. Does he walk straight back into the team?

Then, of course, there is John Swift. He probably presents the trickiest of all decisions. Since his and Josh McEachran’s injury enforced absences the team has started to win. And win. Whilst, like Alan, we won’t be seeing Josh again this season, surely John’s gash will have healed sufficiently to allow him to be in contention this Saturday?

Whilst commons sense would suggest he will have to be content with, at best, a place on the bench this Saturday could that also be a longer term thing? Or will he walk straight back into the starting XI ?

Clearly a player admired for his talent and skill, he has come in for equal amounts of criticism for those misplaced passes, getting caught out of position and being generally lightweight at times. Oh for the Swift of the wins at home to Wolves or QPR rather than the no show at Loftus Road. Too often though, we’ve seen the latter from a player who is, let’s not forget, still learning his game and packed with potential.

There are only six league games left. The Bees are safe. Being honest, most of us were preparing for life without Alan Judge although due to his inevitable, post Euros, sale rather than the subsequent injury related reason. But what about John Swift? Don’t forget he is only here on loan.

Does Dean use these last few games to now look at his full time squad members for next season? Giving them a consistent run to see just how well they can do? After shuffling his pack these last few months, he does seem to have hit a winning formula.

Will that also see Swift going back to his parent club when the season draws to a close? Or is the England U-21 in his and Matthew Benham’s longer term plans?  Indeed, will Chelsea even want to sell him to the Bees ?

SWIFT Brentford QPR

Oh for more of Swift at his best

Certainly, these are questions that won’t be answered any time soon and I’d be amazed if we learn anything this weekend. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace so what do I know? Just putting it out there to see who bites and what people think.

The other selection problem faced by Brentford is, of course, in the Bees Player commentary box. Nobody doubts that Mark Burridge does a stunning job talking us through the season. It is for good reason he is called ‘the commentator par-excellence’ and rivals the mellifluous Billy Reeves with his own, wonderful style.

Yet.Yet. Yet. His recent trip to the Augusta Masters has seen him, like John Swift, miss the last three games. And we all know what happened in them. 9 goals and 9 points.

Could this be the ultimate case of the commentator’s curse? Will Matthew Benham be revoking his press pass? Or will we be welcoming Mark back with open arms?

I only hope the latter. He does a stunning job for those displaced Brentford fans who can’t make the games and it’s always a pleasure listening to him. Instead, let’s put those three wins simply down to his own excellent delegation skills rather than any jinx !

Whilst I’ll be at the Bristol City game on Saturday, here’s to hearing Mark and Ciaran talking through another win on Sunday’s highlight’s package.

Nick Bruzon 

Here’s to Alan Judge. Bees unite after horrendous injury

9 Apr

Brentford made it 9 points and 9 goals from the last 3 games after beating Ipswich Town 3-1 at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon. Relegation is officially dead. Town’s promotion chances likewise. Sam Saunders scored a beauty and Lasse Vibe took his personal total to 5 in this 3 game period.

They’re the match facts but, frankly, they seem an after thought at the moment. All anybody in the Brentford family was talking about during and after the game was the horrendous foul on Alan Judge that saw the player receive almost ten minutes of on-field treatment before being stretched off with a reported double leg break.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

View from the stand: Alan Judge – destroyer of defences in happier times

The player’s immediate reaction and that of his team mates suggested this is a very, very bad one indeed. Yet, incredibly, Town’s Luke Hyam received nothing more than a caution from referee Phil Gibbs for the nightmare assault (I won’t dignify it with the words ‘challenge’ or ‘tackle’) that saw him flying at Judge before scything through the magician, studs up. The irony of Trevor Kettle being the fourth official was not lost.

Justice was eventually done when Hyam was shown red for a second yellow just before half time, this time for going at Ryan Woods like a petulant teenage thug. But by that point it was far too little, far too late for Brentford’s player of the season. His dream of playing in the Euro 2016 finals over.

To rub further salt into the wound, Mick McCarthy has been quoted as giving a quite scandalous response to Dean Smith’s suggestion that Hyam had been “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red.

The Ipswich manager’s reaction has already been doing the round of social media, garnering the obvious replies.   “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”.

Let’s just hope that having had further time to review the footage and his own comments, McCarthy has a change of heart. It won’t make a bit of difference to what has happened yet to leave things like this will only leave further bitter taste to a quite awful incident.

The Brentford supporters, players and officials were unanimous in their support for Alan after the final whistle. Club owner Matthew Benham making a rare foray onto Twitter where he declared, “The challenge was very reckless and a clear red card, as was the one on @RyannWoods4

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The Brentford family react

I’ve got nothing else to say about the other stuff from today. No comments about BeesPlayer, no comments about the game and no comments about the league.

Instead, at the moment all I can do is think about Alan Judge. The prognosis at this juncture doesn’t read well but, at the same time, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

He has been  consistently outstanding over the entire season (only David Button running him close for the end of year award, in my opinion) and his performances have rightly earned International call ups. He’s our leading scorer and not bad with the assists, either.

Fingers crossed Judgey, we’re all thinking of you.

Here’s to seeing you back in the red and white stripes next season.

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More from the Brentford family

Nick Bruzon