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Half man. Half Robot. All Burridge.

15 Jun

Another date with the reality of our situation is coming. Fast. As Brentford fans continue to bask in the excitement of our play-off win, Wednesday sees the Premier League fixture list released. The moment we discover when The Bees will entertain and (hopefully) visit the famous names we’ve only seen in sticker books, on Match of the Day, the odd cup tie or perhaps their own ad-hoc visits to the lower leagues. Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester City, Everton, Liverpool. The list is a long one and is laden with anticipation. As was noted in the previous column, there’s not one opponent who doesn’t provide an added element of intrigue.

Yet before we get there, its time for another book back at last season from another of our special guest columnists. This time, the man that has seen it all. The man who has described most of it to us. Brentford’s commentator par-excellence and the king of I-follow, Mark Burridge. We caught up this week for a chat about all things from play-offs and Premier League to commentary and covid. Mark talks through his highlights on the pitch, his players of the season and the ethos coursing through the club – on and off the pitch.  Enjoy…..

As for today’s headline, we WILL get there…..

Mark and team at Wembley

Mark, let’s start at the end. 29th May at Wembley. For those in the stands it was the culmination of a life’s dream. Can you put it into words, both as a fan and a commentator.

How did you keep your cool? Did you? Any tears shed?

It was ultimate professional performance from players and staff, started fast, a brilliant counter attacking second goal and then they just comfortably managed the game. Swansea had only scored 3 goals twice all season, so I was convinced it was our day early in the match. There was no way back for Steve Cooper’s team. Every player was 7/8 out of 10 and when that happens with Brentford the opposition are in for a long day.

Being relaxed early on made it all more enjoyable, the fans clearly felt that way too, so many smiling faces on display at half time. It was a strange feeling at the end, nothing dramatic from me as the result had been clear for some time, particularly after the red card.

I felt intense relief, pride, a sense of justice and simply enjoyed the celebrations around me. The tears, hugs, generations of families together, a truly special moment that you knew had to be enjoyed. Stuart Wakeford came to embrace Marcus Gayle and like many fans, the final whistle was the signal for raw emotion and Stuart had found it overpowering. There was such a genuine warmth.

Marcus and Stu embrace

That very same togetherness was everywhere within our eyesight. Some fans had sunk to their knees, others waving flags, shirts, hats. It was our day, at last. The football gods, had called time on play off & cup final pain for Bees fans, at least for now. The infamous Doncaster penalty, the most cruel and numbing of last minute dramas, well if this now was the pay off we’ll shake hands and call a truce!

Knowing that we were finally going to leave Wembley as winners and had experienced just what reward the play offs could be, was very new to Bees supporters.. Martin Lange was smiling down on us.

We were going to carry on with broadcasting until after the trophy presentation, so it was just a time to treasure. Then I looked at my phone and saw a ridiculous number of Whatsapp messages…

After clicking on the first few, it was a still of my Dad in the stands which I knew might happen if we were victorious, as Sky wanted to feature some of the elder fans who were inside Wembley and had been watching Brentford the last time we were in the top flight (which has now gone viral much to Dad’s bemusement).

That really was an emotional moment and I started to think of our dear friend Greville, of Dan & Jamie Powell, how much this would mean to them after such a difficult time in the respective lives. They are here at Wembley, somewhere, loving this and drinking it in.

It was a beautiful emotion right then that I couldn’t put into words.

I just felt incredible gratitude that this moment could be shared by so many & mean so much to so many fans all around the world. Dry eyes suddenly became a little tearful, I’d never enjoyed a moment so much watching others and trying to describe what was taking place in front of our eyes. 

Being with Marcus Gayle & Ben Burgess and hearing their emotion and their thoughts on what this will do for the Club and community was another reminder of why ex pros have such an affinity Brentford Football Club. Contrasting backgrounds with Ben on loan for just one season (2001/2) but has always kept in touch with BFC, writes such good articles in the match day programme and does a sterling job on commentary when he joins us for games in his native north west.

Marcus is the fan who became a Bees professional footballer, Premiership player, World Cup international and then a role model through his work with Kick it Out. The man who had bought a season ticket and was enjoying the games as a fan again until we bumped into each other in a local food shop in 2016 and we had a conversation about joining us on match day commentary.

As everyone knows Marcus is now our proud Club Ambassador. Having seen him make his debut for Brentford many years ago, then to share this victory with both he and Ben, with my Dad in the stadium as well, it simply does not get any better than this. What a magical end to a long season.

You and the team have provided an absolute lifeline this season, With the gates to Lionel Road locked you’ve kept us going with the usual passionate commentary. To us, that side of things felt ‘normal’ but what was it like commentating in what was effectively an empty room? How do you maintain the enthusiasm?

I’ve heard others say working at stadia was joyless and soulless and can certainly understand why that would be said but everyone working at a match would no doubt have realised they were in a very privileged position. Travelling to and from games alone (EFL guidance) was something different and it was often a case of arrive, set up equipment and leave as soon as possible. It was all very well organised but quite surreal compared a usual match day

The games generally lacked the intensity & energy you would enjoy with crowds, which was to be expected. The players may well be professionals but they are human beings first and foremost, so it was tough for them, particularly with the condensed season. It was very difficult without crowds but we got use to it early on and had experience of this at the end of last season. The fans are the energy of football. They are to players, others fans and certainly commentators too!.

I had encountered some of the top names commentating on radio a few times without background noise and it was a hard listen. At Lionel Rd the gantry vantage point is simply incredible (a MUST see when tours are available) but we were the only ones up there broadcasting unless it was a SKY game, with the press level pitch side there’s so little you would hear in the way background noise, as we were are quite detached. 

One of the SKY commentators said he would find it very difficult without the fake noise they would have piped in their ears during the game. It certainly must have helped somewhat.

Fortunately I was lucky to be around people with a great knowledge of the game, all things Brentford and who were passionate, yet measured.

It wasn’t until the Bournemouth away leg in the play off semi final that it probably dawned on Marcus Gayle & I just how different football felt again. This totally changed again for the play off home leg. The volume was simply remarkable. Off  the scale. With just 4,000! This bodes well for next season!

iFollow raised about £42m for EFL Clubs. Were you aware just how important the service was to fellow fans. Did you feel it was important to stay as positive as you did?

There was hope that fans would be back after a few months, at least in reasonable numbers. So we had a numbers of ex players booked to join us who would be experiencing Lionel Rd for the first time and would be introduced to the fans inside the stadium before the match. Covid saw so many changes throughout the season, mirroring the case levels so it was effectively an ever changing feast. Some ex-players had to be cancelled and dignitary numbers were often being lowered from an already miniscule number.

Contrary to what was said after one game we certainly did not have 200 fans in the ground!!

Considering supporters had missed out on what should have been a packed house for the very last game at Griffin Park and then not had the chance to be at the first game at the new stadium it is fair to say that Bees fans had every right to feel very disappointed and frustrated. Allowing the options to freeze ST’s and offering iFollow free for so many games, along with the GP Tours are all examples of the Club being in tune with supporters. The input from the various fan groups playing a big part in the right decisions being made.

iFollow suddenly had a much larger audience and with it quite a few adverts! We never knew when they were coming on! Plus half time discussions were cut short because of the same. The cost to watch the games appeared to be good value and did allow fans to stay in touch with the season, even if it’s nothing like being at the game. 

Some supporters freely admitted they enjoyed it more as it allowed the opportunity to see all games when they might previously have only attend a handful during a usual season.

Covering both audio & visual commentary at the same time was also something that required tolerance from fans, as it is not perfect plus there appeared to be the occasional technical issue.

Overall though, iFollow worked well during a very testing time for everyone.

These past 16 months have tested the mental health of everyone and football has been so important for us all to feel connected to ‘normality’ so we were very aware that Brentford’s success might have mean more to people than ever before. Match day routines changed for everyone. No drink with your mates before, maybe now it was sit around the laptop, or the whole family around the TV.

We were positive because I know everyone involved on commentary regularly felt this team would get promotion from quite a long way out. When the squad was struggling for rhythm and consistency I don’t feel it is unfair to say so. Following the draw at Wycombe we did say as much.

We knew fans were getting frustrated. It was fast approaching winter, with much fear & uncertainty away from football itself and message platforms were the only outlet to vent an opinion.

At most games supporters will use up emotional energy at the game but last season was so very different and you probably saw the best and worst of social media. We couldn’t cover the ‘Boro away game due to Covid issues and the local BBC team did a great job. Once Brentford took control they were full of praise for our Club. Unfortunately there was criticism on a phone in by several home fans post match who, rightly or wrongly, felt the commentators were too generous to the opposition.

We have always intended, as is very the Brentford way, to be respectful to the opposition but it is a Bees service so you are representing the fans. Often away fans will connect to the opposition service, presumably just to hear what is said about their team. After the Leeds game last season we had their fans writing on Twitter how nice it was to hear opposition commentary say they the best team we had played since Wolves, some extending this as the ‘fairest’ they had heard.

Giving an honest opinion, hopefully a fair one is all you can really do. Some will like it, others not.

We love the game because not everyone sees it the same way.

What was a real tonic throughout the season is getting some lovely messages from fans, something for which we are very grateful.

What do you think was our performance of the season?

There were some key ones for me.

The 3 points at Barnsley came in the middle of monthly wins in South Yorkshire and got our season going. Some robustness was starting to become clear.

We were excellent for a long time at Watford, showed great character to get a point in the end and the Bournemouth league win at home was probably the best of the season at Lionel Rd

The formation change at Preston was much needed at a difficult time, the 5-0 win against a normally solid side was flawless.

The Cherries feature heavily for me in the whole season, the win at The Vitality Stadium at the end of the season was another important 3 points. 

Jonathan Woodgate’s team were on a great run at the time with 7 (errr brackets) straight wins, scoring for fun and clearly believing they had timed it right, to entering the upcoming play offs with an air of invincibility. Brentford winning, with 10 men for nearly 50 mins, dealt a blow to Bournemouth from which they never truly recovered.

In the end there can though only be one game that had absolutely everything.

Football is about excitement and drama, none of which you truly experience without fans. We all wish there were more supporters in The Brentford Community Stadium, on 22nd May but in this wretched season 4,000 was a huge bonus. 

It was the day Lionel Road finally became our new home, rather fitting in a week that saw bulldozers doing their worst at the wonderful Griffin Park.

So much has been written about that play off win but there wasn’t a hint of panic when Bournemouth went 2-0 up in the tie, in rather strange circumstances. Brentford still believed, Thomas Frank believed. Lionel Rd still believed. Our fans believed. Bournemouth did not.

So it proved, as we witnessed a catastrophic decision making meltdown by the opposition whilst under pressure from a rampant Brentford team that refused to give up. After Chris Mepham’s red card there was an air of inevitability about the outcome, yet it remained wonderfully tense at the same time.

Forss strikes late and Lionel Road erupted.

Begovic goes up for a corner in time added on and we notice the M4 Elevated Section is at gridlock both ways. ’Everyone wants a piece of this game’ we said, as it did feel the whole world would have been engaged in this thriller.

The scenes at the end will never fade either.

It was a reminder just why you love football and  simply worship Brentford Football Club.

There can be only one for Mark

Ivan Toney is, understandably, in line for our player of the season. You’ve seen a lot of Brentford teams over the years, is he our best ever? And who else do you think deserves to make up the ‘top three’ at the end of season awards

Without doubt Ivan Toney is the best for me. Not just for his goals. Barry Fry said he was also Peterborough’s best defender and we’ve all seen why. The amount of times we have seen our striker heading away from an opposition set piece. ‘I get back and defend because I want to help the team, I want to win’ he said at Wembley.

That’s what we had witnessed all season. He was a little rusty at the start of the campaign but once up to speed you could see Ivan’s quality.

It was at Sheffield Wednesday in October that he showed us what an incredible touch he possesses, linking up play with the cutest of touches and headers to feet. That’s when I thought there wasn’t much missing from his game. He scores, he’s brave, he has the skills of a midfielder, he defends, he leads. Can play out wide too, just see the quality of his cross for Ghoddos’ goal in the win against Luton!

Ivan was substituted late against Rotherham in the away game, allowing Aaron Pressley to make his debut. Before leaving the pitch he urged all his players to stay focussed for the last few minutes to see out the win, one of the little things you notice at a game that make you realise what a special team player he is too.

One of the greatest leaders in a red & white shirt we have ever seen. Pure winner.

My second choice would be Vitaly Janelt. Half man, half robot. A signing I thought likely to be ‘one for the future’, like many no doubt. Following the injury to Christian Norgaard the timing of his introduction was perfect. A solid debut up at Hillsborough, then impressive in the win at Oakwell, followed up with scoring his first Brentford goal against QPR.

Then he just kept getting better.

At Cardiff he got scythed down twice but just got up and on with it. A man made of steel.

He scores big goals as well – none more than against Bournemouth in the play off second leg.

Editors note: There have been more than a few from Vitaly – although not all commentated on by Mark…. 😉

Third choice has to go to Sergi Canos.

The way he has come back after a tough start to the season and following a bad injury has been remarkable. Nothing but admiration for him and the flexibility to play wing back so effectively was vital in helping gain promotion. 9 goals for the season, including a hat trick at Cardiff, he has been a bright spark for us on & off the pitch.

Love his ‘We want more’ tweets after each win. Still only 24. Hard to believe.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

Over the years you’ve been alongside the likes of Greville Waterman, Luis Melville, Geoff Buckingham, and co, what do you think the current team bring to the commentary?

Diversity, knowledge, pragmatism, humility and a big understanding of all things Brentford, both past and present.

They have all been excellent plus Karleigh Osborne & Charlie MacDonald fantastic new additions.

We always say to ex players ‘just come in when you like, at any time, fans want to hear your views more’. Their opinions are vital to make it work on a match day.

Where do you thing Brentford will finish in the Premier League next season?

I’ll go for 15th in our first season in The Premier League. Bees will take some big scalps and also possibly have a few uncomfortable scoreline.

Lionel Rd will be an important advantage when near or at full capacity. The crowd can play a very big part, as always. It will be fascinating to see how new signings blend in, alongside the players we all believe will prove their quality at the top level.

One thing is for sure, Brentford will have no intention of being tourists.

Finally, just how special do you feel last season has been for everyone connected with Brentford Football Club?

It has been a truly remarkable achievement to gain promotion this past season.

The team had the shortest of breaks last summer before the new campaign got underway and had also lost two huge players in Watkins and Benrahma.

There was a somewhat inevitable hangover from last season and the squad were at a new stadium where there was little advantage as fans had never been experienced – it was never going to feel like ‘home’ under these circumstances. After the last game it most certainly will do!

We lost the fewest amount of games (joint with Norwich), were top scorers again, and went of an unbeaten run of 21 games, then ending with another one of 12. Considering the gruelling schedule, this says all about the quality & character of the players and management but also speaks volumes about some of those not in the spotlight, such as Neil Greig, head of medical, plus Chris Domoney (aka ‘Sladey’) who looks after the aching limbs and muscles so well, whilst his effervescent personality can be infectious for all around.

Take in the Carabao Cup run as well, where we reached the semi final (including a quick taster of VAR) then to go on to achieve the ultimate prize is unheard of at this level.

How often do you hear of knockout tournament runs derailing a promotion campaign? Not to Brentford though, who bucked the trend with a relatively small squad.

If you also factor in losing the talismanic Christian Norgaard for a big part of the season, as well as captain Pontus Jansson, then hitting the top of the table only to promptly lose two more big players in Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva, you start to realise a little bit more about the magnitude of this success, to still achieve promotion.

Off the pitch we also have our heroes. Such as Bees fans Jamie Powell & Billy Coleman, whom the Club and fans have supported through extremely difficult times.

This shows the strength and warmth of the Brentford family. We all need each other. Together we are stronger.

The fans groups, Bees United, Bias, the social media message boards. All have played their part in trying to keeping fans engaged. When automatic promotion slipped away there were many reasoned voices stating the case to stay positive, including this column, and it has been very much appreciated by many.

Jim Levack also wrote an informative article towards the end of the season after a timely conversation with a staff member following the Cardiff game.  It was a time for cool heads.

There were also so many confident fans who sparked calmer debate ahead of the season extension.  After all if you’ve supported the Bees for some time the mere thought of play offs make your head spin a little! Yet there were so many believers this time who probably helped others to keep the faith.

Next season will hopefully see crowds back and we can all enjoy football as we have been use to over the years. In The Premier League.

The Club is in good shape. Both on and off the pitch. It is run by people with understanding of others, true empathy, kindness and warmth. You will be treated as a supporter, not a customer.

Brentford is entering a new chapter, the brand is set to grow. Most of us never dreamed we would see our football club play in the top flight. Yet he we are. Awaiting the fixtures this Wednesday.

Bring on the fixtures…The Bees haven’t played Liverpool since the FA Cup in 1989

We’re third, everyone. But do Fulham have to sell theirs back…?

11 Jun

The Premier League is coming. This time next week we’ll have programmed 19 trips from Brentford into the satnav. Places as far flung as Burnley and Liverpool. Manchester and Leeds. Not Fulham, though. They’re down (and Bees up). This time next month we’ll have reprogrammed most of those trips as we find out that 3pm Saturday kick offs are an aspiration rather than a lifestyle choice. I can’t wait. Euro 2020 is upon us and it has barely registered. Instead, it still seems to be nothing but Brentford in our house. Billy and The Beesotted crew organising Wednesday night’s live podcast from the pub with none other than Phil and Rasmus. Then, Cliff Crown popped up on Twitter to share something very special. It was also confirmed we’ve said a fond farewell to three of our Wembley winners as contracts are set to expire. But first, the forthcoming Premier League season.

Wednesday night – We’re fly-ing without wings……

Who are you looking forward to seeing the most? Home or away? A tweet from the Prem’s official feed got the juices flowing once more yesterday. ‘Refreshed and ready for 2021/22’ it said. There was the league table. Gone were Sheff United, West Brom and Fulham. On their place, the Bees, Watford and Norwich City. Even better though, Brentford are already in the Champion’s League spots. We’re third, everyone…. 😉 Just 38 games to go to hold that spot.

Of all the illustrious opponents we’re due to face, everyone has one they are looking forward to the most. Some are obvious. Others less so. For me, there’s not one game with out an extra angle. An additional layer of intrigue…

Arsenal – a bit of league cup payback would be nice. A chance to see our regular starting XI from the off rather than the bench. Oh, and they have a certain David Luiz in their squad. WE haven’t forgotten ‘that’ elbow.

Aston Villa – do we need to spell it out? Dean Smith. Ezri Konsa. England international Ollie Watkins. I’d absolutely LOVE to pick up three points, even if only to hear which team actually ‘deserved to win’.

Brighton – Neal Maupay. The undisputed king of shithousery. ANY excuse to see him in action. Even if it will feel a bit weird seeing him against us. Pantomime villainy awaits.

Burnley – number 26. We took the longer route around but both of us are now in the Premier League. Villainy awaits.

Chelsea – Champions of Europe. The West London derby – sorry, Fulham (I’m not of course). Some FA Cup payback and the thought of ‘that’ elbow already add recent colour to this game.

Crystal Palace – One of several London derbies. A new ground for us. The Ron Noades (RIP) derby

Everton – who could forget Richard Lee’s heroics? TC, where are you going to be?

Leeds United – teams like Brentford shouldn’t be in the Premier League. Pontus. Maupay. My cousin’s husband. This one is pretty much top of my list.

Hi, Julian….

Leicester City – the former champions. We’ve played them twice in the FA Cup. Ryan Murrant. Oh, Ryan Murrant……

Liverpool – a chance to crack open the bingo cards and show Jurgen Klopp what he missed out on when opting for Anfield over Griffin Park…

Manchester City – the league champions. Not to mention a certain FA Cup tie. Still, up there in my favourite Brentford moments.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Manchester United – seeing the Bees walk out at Old Trafford is going to be weird. In the nicest sense.

Newcastle United – simply put, one of the best away days in the calendar.

Norwich City – Delia Smith. Carrow Road. A club with a special place in my heart after they were so generous to us when H was mascot.

Carrow Road – October 2018

Southampton another new away day for us. At least, in this league. (err…. Definitely didn’t forget about League One).

Spursa chance to see if, this season, VAR works in our favour.

Now it will be in the league

Watford – Indestructible at the back end of last season. Will be very interesting to see how we both step up this time around.

West Ham – Benrahma. Oh, Benrahma. I’m sure there may be a few half and half scarves out, too.

Wolves – we went toe to toe in those League One and early Championship seasons. They’ve now gone up a notch but I cannot wait to cross swords once more.

It’s going to be amazing. All of it. Then up popped Chairman Cliff Crown on Twitter last night with, in his words. ‘This beauty’ . And he’s right. It is beautiful. We are official.

We are official

There were several obvious questions coming off the back of it.

Did he actually have to handover £1 in exchange? Coin or PayPal?

Was it signed with a half-chewed BIC ? One can only hope the Pontus Jansson ceremonial biro has been retained for posterity.

Did Fulham have to sell their share back?

Best. Pen. Ever. We ARE Premier League !!

Whatever the answer, nobody can deny that we ARE Premier League. We may be a bus stop in Hounslow but we are as deserving of our place as our 19 divisional stable mates.

On slightly sadder, albeit totally expected, news was the official cofirmation that Henrik, Emiliano and Luke Daniels will be leaving us. Their contracts expire this month and so we say adieu. Henrik in particular had already seen the news leaked by Midtjyland (the owner really needs to have a word) earlier in the week but all three will be missed. If nothing else, Emiliano has ‘that’ goal that will be forever in our hearts…

One thing I hope doesn’t change with top flight status is the interaction between club and supporters. This has been well, well documented over the years and nowhere more was it seen than just this week when Dave, Billy Grant, not Reeves) and the Beesotted crew organised their live podcast from the pub.

Surprise special guests were none other than our Directors of Football – Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles. As Billy said afterwards, How many clubs – never mind PremierLeague clubs – will you have the Directors of Football come down the pub for over 3 hours & chat & joke w fans & be completely honest?
BrentfordFC of course

Indeed it was completely honest and anything goes. Even when the camera stoped rolling. Part one is now up and you’ll find it on Twitter and the Beesotted ‘Pride of West London’ podcast page.

Or, just click below

On personal note, it was great to get out and about with my fellow Bees once more. Wembley was indescribable. Bournemouth incredible. Yet they were both ‘match situations’. To sit back and discuss it all, now the news has really sunk in, was equally special.

That’s the club we have though. Please, never let it change.

Never change

Nick Bruzon

It wasn’t a dream. It isn’t (quite) a soap opera.

31 May

The morning after the morning after the night before. For a moment, I had to double check that Bobby Ewing hadn’t just walked out of our shower. No. We’re good. Instead, the closest we had was Kitman Bob and the players showering Instantgram with the most amazing post match pictures. Celebration, you say? The only Dallas nightmare Brentford have to worry about will be the chance to cross swords with Stuart at Leeds United once more. Southampton rather than Southfork the destination to plug in to the satnav. Supporters and staff clearly taking Thomas Frank’s post match directive not to think about Premier League and let’s just get drunk to heart. I think we’re now on Monday. It’s been long and hazy. It’s been immense. The realisation of what next season promises is only now sinking in. For Swansea City, a visit from newly promoted Blackpool (congratulations). For the Bees, it’ll be Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester United and all those other household names now having to park up at a bus stop in Hounslow.

Kitman Bob 1 Bobby Ewing 0

Never has it been a more exciting time to be a Brentford fan. The post-Preston spirit that saw supporters and players partying in the street and drinking together outside The Griffin as we celebrated reaching the Championship back in 2014 replicated, in part, up at Lionel Road. We’ve all seen the pictures on Kew Bridge (those not able to be present). Have all , I am sure, read the stories of the cup being brought in to the Express Tavern and other surrounding locales. West London has been buzzing. On fire. A powder keg of excitement that keep blowing up again and again. The local news donated by stories of the Bees.

Yesterday’s post match mood continuing with more time spent in the pub because, well, why wouldn’t you? We’ve only gone and made it into the Premier League. Besides, Thomas said we could.

Help was needed by Sunday evening

The phone hasn’t stopped going off. RSI from answering all the messages another thing to add to the list of unexpected top flight consequences that range from Brentford now being in the Panini sticker book to moving up a level on FIFA 22. Mixing it with Manchester United on screen aswell as on pitch. I’ve had more TV appearances than Billy Grant (ok, now we’re just being silly but apologies for those who caught the ITV News on Friday or Sunday). Most exciting of all for some, our League One and Championship rivalry with Wolves finally restored. 

Of all the big names, understandably, being bandied around that’s one in particular I am looking forward to. For those few years it felt as though we were joined at the hip. Slugging it out toe to toe and point for point in League One. The pair of us knocking the psychological stuffing out of Leyton Orient until we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Bakary Sako’s Swarovski encrusted boots something we can now look back on and laugh at, in the nicest sense.

Both teams making it up together and then giving it our best in the Championship until the Molineux outfit hit the accelerator and have carved out their own new level of incredible form. A lot of friends were made along the way and that’s going to be a very special game.

Bakary Sako’s boots – this actually happened.

We all have our reasons of knowing which ones we’re looking forward to. For me, Leeds United for family reasons (Hi, Julian – you know who WILL be there with us) as much as on pitch ones. Dallas. Maupay. Maupay. Pontus. The memories are strong there. You can chuck Manchester United in to the mix aswell. Primarily, because of the 18 months I spent working in the city. For every ‘away’ trip to Bury or Rochdale was the opportunity of a midweek visit to Old Trafford, offered up as a result of having United supporting colleagues with spare Season Tickets.

Watching neutral football in such an arena is never quite the same and, from a personal note, there was still more passion watching Brentford playing up the road in Accrington. Bitter cold. Dire performance. But my team. Now, we’ll be able to face the Red Devils and use the vocal cords for real. Many of those I worked with then still in the North-West, still in touch and now people who it will be even more incredible to catch up with.

Come on Leeds. It WAS a penalty

I guess the next big date for the diary will be June 16th. That’s when the fixtures are published . The first games due to take place the weekend of August 14th. Between now and then, there’ll be plenty to look forward to. A kit launch. Perhaps a couple of very special guest contributors on these pages (the door is always open) if I can just tie up the footballing equivalent of Neighbours ‘Udagawa deal’.  A lot of squeaky bum time as transfer rumours will no doubt swirl around the club. Thankfully, the possibility of losing David, Rico, Josh, Ivan, Sergi, Ethan and all those other names linked with top flight clubs had we not made it has perhaps receded a bit. Here’s hoping. Certainly, Ivan’s post match speech gave huge encouragement that he will be going nowhere. A Premier League striker and part of the best dressing room he has ever experienced.

It is that team spirit and bond that has got us to where we are. Has brought us back from the cliff of that most devastating of blows this time last season. Missing out on the top flight at an empty Wembley. Fulham, of all clubs, taking the final spot in the Premier League and then tamely surrendering it. That’s their problem, of course. Now the opportunity is Brentford’s. The next few months are going to be the amongst the most exciting on record. The build up incredible. The thought of hearing Peter Gilham’s voice the first time we walk out at Lionel Road, one which like the Wolves fixture, I am looking forward to as much as anything else.

You couldn’t make it up. It’s the stuff of soap operas. But it’s true. It’s happening. Brentford are now in the top, top division. And its going to be soon.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Marcondes)

Nick Bruzon

When you phone in a performance, look what happens…

1 Jul

Brutal. Brilliant. Together. Brentford blitzed Reading 3-0 where, but for the last line of defence, it could easily have been more. The hosts not getting a look in as the gap to ‘automatic’ closed further. West Bromwich Albion sit a mere two points ahead of us heading into their own game at Sheffield Wednesday tonight whilst Leeds United limped to a 1-1 draw with Luton Town. Most generous hosts. 

With the stress over getting the I-Follow on the TV dissipating ten minutes in (it worked, far too easily, when I’d tried previously so was obviously going to fail when it came to a ‘live’ game) there was nothing more to do than sit back, pop a beer and ready the ‘goal sweets’. It wasn’t long before that bag of Haribo ‘Starmix’ saw a Tuesday evening debut. The Reading defence breached by Bryan Mbeumo after the Bees had been banging on the door all game.

With the BMW finally starting a game together for the first time since lockdown, it was Ethan Pinnock who provided the assist. A corner being headed back for the wide man to steer home. Get in. It felt as though it had been coming but pressure, possession and stats count for naff all if you can’t take the chances when you create them. All the shots on goal are deemed meaningless if you can’t keep it tight at the other end. A lesson so ably demonstrated by Leeds United later in the evening as their 75% ball retention and 23 shots to their opponents’ 3 could only result in a 1-1 with bottom club Luton Town.

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Football on the big screen. Goal sweets in hand

Half time came and went. A first foray into I-Follow deemed what could well be described as a successful one after those initial teething troubles. Whether we could say the same for Mark Burridge and Mick Cabbie in the commentary box is a matter of debate. And that’s not meant as a critique of their skills.

Rather, that they did quite wonderfully holding it all together after a tech failure just prior to kick off meant the dynamic duo were obliged to commentate via mobile phone. It was like taking a step back in time an early 80s UEFA Cup match coming at you from close to the Iron Curtain, with commentary being delivered ‘down the line’.  

Bonus points to Mark for his use of the early evening ‘For those of you just coming in late or from work’. With the unique sound that can only come from phone commentary, shut your eyes and it could have been World Cup Argentina ’78. As @the_mattfinish on Twitter would also compare : Motson’s commentary of the Platini goal had this same crackly greatness.

But whilst Thomas Frank’s boys may be playing with the same confidence as World Champions, 1-0 at half time was still only 1-0. As we saw against West Bromwich Albion on Friday night, we rarely have things our own way all game and, sure enough, Reading matched the Baggies by coming for us in the second period.

However, the Bees were also able to ensure a repeat with another clean sheet being earned. Pontus Jansson with the one notable clearance to keep on lockdown at the back whilst the attackers did their thing at the other end.

First, Josh Dasilva. The midfielder following up his own shot to beat the home defence to the ball and double our lead just after the hour. What a man and what a performance. With Christian Norgaard equally strong, and named man of the match at full time, the Bees looked solid throughout. More importantly, 2-0 and any pressure off. For the supporters if nothing else. Brentford back in in the driving seat. Reading nothing more than passengers. Shares in Haribo going through the roof. 

With Thomas Frank taking full advantage of his expanded substitution allowance, changes were made. They allowed the team to push up (Brentford) and yet another late goal for the Bees rounded things off in style. This time, Joel Valencia the man as he lashed home an absolute beauty from distance with the clock entering Jota time. 3-0. Game over, man. Game over. Brentford clear in third. West Brom within touching distance. 

A further bonus then delivered later in the evening as the scoreline from Elland Road came in. It was a result that barely anyone saw coming. Yours truly especially. All gifts gratefully accepted though and whilst one would suspect that Leeds United are all but up (not even they’ll choke this) there’s always the morale boost of watching them wobble. Of being able to sing that Joy Division song.

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Fail to take the chance ; pay the price… The BBC stats tell a sorry tale for Leeds

Fulham finally got back to winning ways but still sit behind us. Nottingham Forest play tonight so have the chance to overtake them with a win at home to Bristol City. Things really are that tight now. Every win counts. Every notch on the goal difference chart could prove vital. Brentford have the momentum but we have to keep it going. Of course the supporters are going to look ahead to what ifs and those permutations when ‘x’ beats ‘y’.

That’s part of being a football fan. Thomas Frank seems to be taking a much more grounded approach and is focussing on nothing more than the next training session and the next game. Acknowledging at full time that whatever is coming next is always the biggest one. It is not about yesterday or tomorrow but ‘now’.

And that is home to Wigan Athletic. Like the Royals, they are currently languishing mid-table. Does the fact they have nothing to play for beyond pride bode well or is a side under no pressure perhaps the most dangerous of all? Roll on Saturday when we can find out. 

That’s for then. For now, we can reflect on a job very well done. It wasn’t so much that Reading were awful but Brentford were, quite simply, awesome.  We’ve put ourselves into a position where defeat or a draw for the Baggies tonight will see the Bees go second should we manage to pick up maximum points against Wigan.  

Perhaps even Thomas Frank may have half an ear on proceedings at Hillsborough this evening. I know I will…

 

Nick Bruzon

Keep smiling. These pictures might help. My favourite images of 2019/20.

29 Mar

God I miss football at the moment. Given just what on earth is going on in the wider world then one needs to have some perspective yet, at the same time, it shouldn’t be a crime to yearn for that which does so much to unite us. Plays such a huge part in our lives. I want to be celebrating another win for Brentford. Seeing if we could do the double over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Keep on avenging the jinx of Middlesbrough. Moaning about our desperate performances on the road – oh, what I’d give for another trip to Luton Town right now (words I never thought would be uttered again after this season’s debacle in the sleet). I’d love to be laughing about Leeds United falling apart. Again. Sadly, something that stopped just as the Coronavirus curse began to take a stronger grip across the globe. Whilst it was always meant in good humour (my cousin’s husband is as staunch a fan as they come), this was just one of the many aspects that make the Championship what it is. Or, for now, was.   

Being able to see Griffin Park from our house makes things even harder. So close yet so far. The gates are locked for good reason but that doesn’t make it any easier. What I would also say is that community morale seems quite wonderful. People still looking out for one another whilst Social Media continues to deliver a lot more positivity these days.

One such tweet yesterday sent me down the internet wormhole of football imagery. Namely, the words:

If you are a football person please join the challenge of posting a football photo. Just one picture, no description. Please copy the text in your status, post a picture and look at some great memories/pictures. 

The plus point to all this was that it brought some quite incredible pictures to the fore. Without using a traditional hashtag it really was a quite random collection of images. And also a lot of American ‘football’ (catch ball rather than soccer). Oh well, you can’t have everything and it certainly helped while away the first Saturday of lockdown. No bad thing either as, at least, there’s been the distraction of work and my half-arsed attempts at being a teacher to eat up Monday-Fridays. Those guys deserve a medal, that’s for sure 🙂

Now it was a full 48 hours in each other’s company and only a short exercise break / trip to the shops for essential supplies permitted. To be fair, H and Mrs. B were both in great form considering all that was going on. Yours truly shared a previously untold story from the personal vaults regarding the Bees, Stoke City and our ill-fated journey back from the 2002 play-off final. It’s here if you would like to read it and, if nothing else, may help pass few minutes whilst also explaining why some of you may have had a somewhat elongated journey home that night.

But that aforementioned tweet inspired me to have a look back through my own photo gallery. Specifically for this season although given what we’ve got ahead of us, expect a broader retrospective in the coming days. I thought it might be nice to share my favourite images of the campaign so far. Some of which regular readers may have seen before ; others which are new. This is not for any egotistical reasons – they aren’t great pictures, taken mainly on a mobile phone or small digital camera. Mark Fuller, I ain’t.

No, it’s more to remember the good times. To see the smiles of the Brentford family and even our visitors at times – Stuart Dallas, still got it. To know that we will have all of this again. Hopefully even at Griffin Park.

Enjoy….. 

The first two are why we are all currently sitting at home. Like the rest of the UK, Griffin Park is on lockdown. Here’s the New Road and then the Ealing Road view. 

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New Road – the gates are firmly closed

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Our iconic floodlights – currently behind closed doors

And with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s look back at what’s gone before. In no particular order  – perhaps with the exception of the last few.

I’ll apologise in advance for having a few of HB in there. It it’s any consolation, he’s probably missing football more than me. The last few seasons have really seen it click and he just loves everything Brentford. Especially Sam Saunders. Many are the mid-game chats we have about free kicks and dead balls, despite the main man no longer being on the playing staff. Such is his reputation, SS7 still features prominently in our match day routine. 

Daddy? Is THIS Saunders territory?” asks HB just about every game. Nice work, Sam.

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Did we all get the memo about hands on hips?

Next up, Bryan Mbeumo. What a signing. What a demonstration, as if further were needed, of the Brentford recruitment model.

Another high class vehicle to roll off the Griffin Park production line. Almost some sort of BMW, if you will. This was an early season demonstration of his potential when Hull City were the visitors for a 1-1 draw.

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This Mbeumo chap looks like he might have a turn of pace to him

Ah, Stuart Dallas. He can do no wrong in my book. ‘That’ goal against Fulham has earned him a place in Griffin Park folklore.  As was proven when Leeds united were the visitors for our attempt to overtake them and hit the top two on February 11th (how far away does that seem now?).

During one injury break, Stuart not only stopped for a chat but even posed for a photo. Can’t imagine the same scenario playing our with Martin Rowlands. The close proximity of the stands to the pitch allowing for this moment. 

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Work that smile, Stuart

It’s not all sunshine. Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County came to Griffin Park at the end of August for our first home win of the campaign. A 3-1 win in torrential conditions saw the early season dissenters silenced.

To think there were people calling for Thomas Frank’s head prior to this…!!!

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Raining goals at Griffin Park

Ahh, Thomas Frank. If ever a manager epitomised the family bond that we have at Brentford it is Thomas. Passionate, friendly, embracing and always willing to talk to supporters he suns up just what we are about as a club more than anyone I’ve seen before.

The post match laps of appreciation are punctuated by selfies and smiles. Thomas pulling his trademark ‘Fonzie’, usually accompanied by that broad grin of his. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

There are quite a few in here of Saïd. I don’t know if it’s in the sub-conscious or just something that sums up his approach to football. Like Thomas, he can’t do enough to endear himself to the fans – on and off pitch.

This one was against Millwall. That incredible turnaround from 0-2 down on 84 minutes  to ending the game as 3-2 winners. again, the proximity of our seats t the touchline helping capture the moment that third goal went in. I think it was the third, anyway… 

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

This next one was very early in the season. I forget who but when Harry asked Saïd for a selfie, our man went one better.

Goose bumps right now just looking at the one and thinking about how amazing he was with HB. Thank you, Saïd.

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Said – ever popular with the fans

Yet if one player was Harry’s hero then it can only be Sergi. Shirts have Canos 7 on the back and even though injured, HB is still all ‘Sergi this. Sergi that‘.

So imagine when even though injured, he still took a half-stroll around the Braemar Road forecourt. What a man. 

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This following comes from the last time we were all together at Griffin Park. The 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month. The man in charge was our one time nemesis, Keith Stroud. 

Whilst we’ve certainly had our moments, it would be fear to say that he has always taken it on the chin and more than ‘plays along’ – at least, before kick off. This one was taken from his pre-match ‘Mr.Motivator’ style warm up routine (thankfully, without the lycra) where Keith did Dallas i.e. posed for a picture.

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nothing says mascots like Buzz and Buzzette. Nothing says Christmas like Buzz and Buzzette in their Santa hats.

No other words needed.

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Another entry form the big book of Benrahama. QPR away.

The penalty kick awarded just after our hosts had levelled things up saw big balls of steel from the Algerian goal machine. It was about as precision a kick as one could have hoped for. What a finish. What a celebration .

This is the view from the away stand upper. Limbs (whenever they are) followed immediately after.

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Back of the net…!!!

Saïd again. Sorry. Middlesbrough (home) in February. Another 3-2 win for The Bees. Another opportunity to share that unique bond between fans and players in the post match celebrations.

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

David Raya has been one of the stars of the season. Brentford laying any goalkeeping wobbles to rest as we have gone on to become the tightest defence in the division.

This one was taken during the good part of the visit to Luton Town. The part before kick-off.

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David Raya – almost grabbed the equaliser (not a typo).

FA Cup action. Leicester City were the visitors and the winners. But we gave it our very best. Here, Brentford attack once more in an action packed second half. The New Road terrace packed. 

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At least we can concentrate on the league

Birmingham City away. A game played out in horrific conditions but one where we were all there. Including one of Brentford’s most recognisable supporters – by sound as much as sight – Simon ‘Harry Potter’ Hoyle.

Like Jumper Man, Push up Brentford Man, The Phantom trumper of Ealing Road et al, Simon is iconic. 

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Another one from the Millwall game. Got to love that Bryan celebration. Got to love that team spirit.

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Happier times

Bus stop in Hounslow. We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.

Like pub team, tinpot, little old Brentford etc etc, this mantra has quickly been turned from jeer into catchphrase. And we love it .

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

When words collide. This one a look of mutual respect and confusion, taken from the Kurupt FM takeover of Griffin Park back in October.

Whilst the game was against Bristol City, all the talk was about our very special guests.

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Add your own punchline

This season was always going to be different when we signed Pontus Jansson from Leeds United over the summer. It was a transfer that was completely against our model. For one thing, we’d actually heard of him!

What a player. What an inspiration. What passion and confidence. What a way to bind the defence and drive the Bees forward. The difference between a team with Pontus and without him, clear for all to see.

Here’s hoping he gets the chance to finish the promotion dream with Brentford.

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

And if you needed to see what it means to him then here’s one of my very favourites. Oh, that bond between the players. That ecstasy from the supporters. That mutual celebration of, another, goal. Pontus busting every sinew in celebration.

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Ok – into the top five. They probably sum up the Brentford experience for me this season. Forgive the personal nature. Forgive the self-indulgence given the family connection. But, then again, we are a family, and nowhere moreso than in this first one.

It’s not a well taken picture in terms of framing or capturing H. But this is him and Alex Austin celebrating against Middlesbrough. The look says it all.

We love Alex and his family. The advice offered to the officials makes the game even more fun than it already is. The bond that has grown up across the gangway that divides our seats part of what makes Griffin Park so special to us. All that will change at Lionel Road but I’m desperate for us to all to be given the chance for one last game (at the very least) to celebrate this current chapter coming to a close.

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Number 4. HB enjoying football. At this moment all I can see is tremendous joy and its making me very sad. Purely because of everything that is happening outside the front door. It’s also making me feel amazingly proud and even happier to see a look on his face that he’s not had for a few weeks now.

Brentford did this. THANK YOU.

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At number three, another goal celebration. Another from Middlesbrough and one that is a bit blurry.

But it’s the expression from Ollie to the crowd as the players all pile on. The fans reaching back to him. The mutual adoration. A moment that nothing could get in the way of. One of my personal favourite Griffin Park moments this season.

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Number two, Mr. Brentford. Peter Gilham. If ever you could hear a photo, then here it is.

Brrrrreenttttt-forrrddddddddddddd.

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We talked about Thomas earlier. About his approach to the game and to supporters.

THIS is why we love him. Listening to Harry giving him advice. Talking back to him as though there it was the most important thing in his world right then. Delaying his own return to the dressing rooms to celebrate with the players – supporters come first.

It’s just how we do things in Brentford.

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Nick Bruzon

A generous slice of good fortune keeps things tight at the top.

12 Feb

I’ll take that and party. Leeds United, arguably the stronger team on the night, were held by Brentford at Griffin Park. We were second to most things but stats, possession and performance count for naff all when the man comes around. The only thing that will be remembered  is in the ‘goals scored’ column and for that we must be truly grateful things finished one each. Benrahma’s early opener, gifted him courtesy of a horror moment for visiting ‘keeper Kiko Casilla, was matched just before half-time by opposition skipper Liam Cooper. Yet with Charlton Athletic doing both teams the biggest of favours after their stunning 0-1 win at Nottingham Forest, the Bees move up to fourth. Still two points off Leeds and five behind West Bromwich Albion at the summit.

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View from the Braemar – Brentford, erm, push up

So, in short…. Leeds United dominated. Leeds United pressed, pushed and took the game to Brentford. Should have wrapped it up in the second half and will no doubt consider this one that they ‘deserved’ to win. The Bees very much on the back foot but, equally, given the temporary moment of sitting second in the table after Casilla’s nightmare. Somehow, a soft backpass from Cooper evaded him and as he desperately stretched to recover, Said was there to hoover up the most generous of gifts. Boom. 1-0. Game on and Leeds set to fall apart. Again.

But no. This was a different United. A team of mental and physical strength. One that didn’t crumble but came straight back at us and cranked up the pressure until Cooper was there to pounce at the other end just before half-time. And that’s how things stayed. The second period being one noticeable by our absence from proceedings. Or rather, our attacking prowess. 

The defence still missing Pontus Jansson coped admirably, by and large, completing the first task of keeping the gap to second place close. With Charlton doing the business in Nottingham, one hopes that on reflection we’ll all be waking up today and consider this one with all the positivity that the situation warrants.

Of course I wanted to win. Of course I was desperate to deliver a knockout blow to Leeds United’s fragile nerves. But you have to respect the fact that they are second for a reason and played the almost perfect game last night. Yet still they failed to beat us. Still Patrick Bamford looked a luxury item in front of goal. Costa profligate. Still Leeds haven’t won at Griffin Park since the days of black and white telly.

We can’t win every game but the plus factor being we’ve still made ground on the top of the table. Put simply, we’re now back in front of Nottingham Forest on level games. Huge thanks to Charlton for that one.

There’s not much else to say about our on pitch performance. We got the point. Might have had three but, in the end, given the chances they had Leeds will undoubtedly feel they should have won. We’ll thank that huge slice of good fortune for our goal and our visitors’ lack of potency who opportunity knocked. Will that be enough to keep the demons pecking at the back of their mind? A home game with promotion chasing Bristol City on Saturday won’t be the easiest of challenges. For us, a trip to Birmingham City. That’ll be an interesting one with Scott Hogan doing the business for Blues again last night but it’s also a topic for later in the week.

Another night under lights. Another game at Griffin Park done. The board now reading 7 to go (no brackets, though) . It was a night where two moments really made me appreciate how much we’ll miss this place.

Firstly, ducking out to the ablutions block in the second half I spotted something you’d struggle to find anywhere else and which could only take place given our close confines. A chap leaning over his garden wall to watch the game  ‘live’  – via the stadium TV channel. The things you do to get past a sellout crowd.

stadium TV Griffin Park Brentford

Secondly, former Bee Stuart Dallas. It’s not often you get the chance to reminisce about the single best ever goal scored in a Brentford shirt with the man who scored it (My word – ‘that’ strike at Fulham still sends shivers up the spine) so grab those moments whilst you can. Even if it’s in the middle of a football match.

He even posed for a picture. Only a stadium as bijou as Griffin Park would allow this.

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Of course I’m looking forward to Lionel Road but, once again, it was a case of very much enjoying what is a rapidly dwindling number of chances to experience that which makes out current home so unique. So special. With Blackburn Rovers next to visit, let’s hope we can use it our advantage.

Until then, snaffle up those last few tickets for Birmingham City and see you there.  

Nick Bruzon  

Who will tear who apart? Why tonight will be epic.

11 Feb

This is it. This is the latest ‘big one’. Leeds United face their cup final. A trip to Griffin Park to take on a rampant Brentford team. The visitors wobbling and on the ropes after seeing their double figure lead over the play-off pack slowly eroded away to the point where defeat tonight will see them removed from the automatic spots. A result that, if Charlton can somehow avoid defeat at Nottingham Forest, will have the added bonus of seeing the Bees take second place.

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Brentford – rampant

That’s one way of looking at things, of course. Absolutely we’re full of optimism and rightly so. Saturday against Middlesbrough saw more of that ‘never say die’ spirit . The much touted attacking trio helping to make it eight goals from the last two Championship fixtures. If the BMW are making all the headlines for Brentford, our visitors are having theirs written by a horrific run of form that has seen them hit the self-destruct button once more. 

Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again. 

We all know the words. We all know why. Just two wins out of the last ten games will do that to you. Yet to underestimate them would be the cardinal sin. The ultimate error. Anything less than 100% focus on the game being played out in front of us rather than the reputation or the situation could prove fatal. So of course we’ll be behind the team. Of course we’ll be singing ‘that’ song – this is football and any cheap shots are, of course, going to be taken.

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But don’t expect this to be any form of foregone conclusion.

Leeds United are giants. A huge club. One that should be in the Premier league. Massive crowds week in, week out. One time European trophy winners. Champions of England back in the day. We’re just tinpot interlopers. A pub side. A bus stop. Imagine a team like Brentford having the temerity to challenge their divine right to promotion? A team that takes the notion of success and top flight residence being intrinsically linked, screws it up into a little ball and then kicks it firmly into touch. Or, rather, the back of the net.

They’ll be up for this tonight. More, possibly, than any game in recent weeks. A chance to reinstate what their fans consider to be the natural order of things rather than face the ultimate indignity. And this is where Headless Bee absolutely nailed things on Twitter last night, noting: 

I see tomorrow as one hell of a test, Yes Leeds are having a dodgy patch, but if anyone thinks this is a given is in for a shock, a team very much like us with a very good defence, they’re 2nd.

Probably end to end, the team and us need to be absolutely on it.   

Yes, we do need to be on it. We need to not think that this is any form of foregone conclusion. Bielsa is a genius. A king of psychology. Of ripping up the rule book. Of tactical brilliance. A tracksuited demi-god overseeing a once mighty empire and doing his level best to reinstate this to the, perhaps unattainable, heights demanded by his followers. Underestimate him at your peril. But I’d say the same to him and to Leeds United about Brentford. 

Thomas Frank was in fine form during yesterday’s press conference . Respectful but positive, he summed up the current mindset nicely: “We definitely have more momentum than Leeds right now. Everyone knows how much I respect Marcelo Bielsa and what he has done to build up Leeds as a club and as a team but they couldn’t pick a worse place to play Tuesday night”

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Thomas remains full of positivity

That’s not arrogance. That’s a fact. Griffin Park under lights is an incredible place to play football. Packed to the rafters with fans on top of the pitch, it’ll be a cauldron of passion.

Size isn’t everything but more what you do with it. Expect this one to be noisy. Exuberant. Especially when we have the free hit of ‘that’ song. 

Whilst it would be foolish for anyone in TW8 to presume that three points are in the bag already, by the same virtue Leeds have to expect us to go for it. They can’t believe we’ll just step aside and defer to their reputation. They are trying to arrest the decline and restore the natural order but we have momentum and incentive on our side. It has all the ingredients of a thriller.

With Pontus Jansson now close to recovery, he’ll be as desperate to be involved as we are. I don’t envy Thomas Frank that decision. Ethan Pinnock is as permanent a fixture as they come whilst Julian Jeanvier added to his impressive form with the opening goal on Saturday. Stick with the winning team or pick your inspirational captain?  

I can’t wait to find out. Then again, I can’t wait for this one. The one thing you can be sure of is that tonight will be epic.

7.45pm can’t come soon enough. 9.30pm could be incredible. See you there.

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Could Pontus be back tonight?

Nick Bruzon  

The videos that all fans need to see.

9 Feb

Time for the last knockings of the weekend. The residual fall out from a fine win for Brentford as our 3-2 defeat of Middlesbrough saw the Bees end the day smiling. With West Bromwich Albion beating Millwall at a windswept Millwall on Sunday lunchtime, The Baggies are starting to break clear at the top. They now sit four points clear of second placed Joy Division and six ahead of ourselves but has this win heaped further pressure on the Championship’s most emotionally fragile team ?

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The man of the moment as we ended the day smiling

We’ll get there in a bit but first, Brentford. BBC Radio London were in attendance on Saturday , kind of, as they looked to kick off the first in a regular series of ‘fans perspective’ pieces on match day at our London clubs. The Bees got things going, yours truly was entrusted with camera duties and the results are now on line – you can see the film from the Middlesbrough game below. 

If BBC London were bigging us up, their Welsh counterparts are being left with egg on face after this video emerged. Kudos to Josh on Twitter for putting this up – 10 out of 10 for effort. 11 out of 10 on the tinpotometer.

The other video doing the rounds was Said pulling off ‘that’ double nutmeg. No other words needed.

Whilst I’ve probably numbed you all into submission talking about #BeeTheAnnouncer, let’s not forget the hashtag that started them all  – #BeeTheDJ. I have no idea who was driving on Saturday but hats off for playing Killers by Iron Maiden. More, please. Let’s consider it a lucky omen.

 

Next up, The World Cup of Programme Covers.  Having edged past the Tranmere Rovers stripper, Brentford 4000 is now up in as tough a tie as they come. We now face the awesome Donnie Gillies of Bristol City. Featured having  made a brief detour via the costume shop en-route to Ashton Gate.

I can only see the neutral vote heading towards the West Country rather than West London ( I would ) but if you want to see us live to fight another day then you know what to do and can vote for Brentford here (I have).

Finally, West Bromwich Albion. Having beaten Millwall at lunchtime, has this now cranked up the pressure on Leeds even further? Rather than them being able to fight for either of the two ‘automatic’ spots available, is it now a foregone conclusion that West Brom will go up and only a single spot left open?  

We all know how Leeds go under the slightest of psychological pressure, so whilst my preference would have been to see the Lions roar today, there may be an unexpected bonus in West Brom picking up the points. Roll on Tuesday when we find out….

Nick Bruzon

Could it actually happen? Carry on like this and just about anything is possible.

9 Feb

After a while you begin to run out of ways to praise this team. Perhaps the simplest way is by looking at the league placings. Brentford remain fifth but our 3-2 defeat of Middlesbrough means we are now just three points off West Bromwich Albion at the top of the table and two behind second placed Leeds United (fell apart. Again. Nottingham Forest their latest conquerors). With the Elland Road outfit next up at Griffin Park, on Tuesday night, footballing life in TW8 is about as thrilling as it can get.

This one passed me by in a blur of emotion. Of excitement. Of exhilaration and joy. But also of slight angst, if we’re being honest with each other. At least, towards the end where Ollie Watkins’ late, late winner was then put under potential threat by the additional time added on – ironically for much of Boro’s running down the clock. Certainly, goalkeeper Aynsley Pears who seemed to have borrowed Brice Samba’s watch as he pushed things to the letter of the law in the second half to try and steer his side home. Alas, for the Boro, it was all in vain.  

Prior to this, Brentford had begun in dominant form. Middlesbrough allowing us more room to play than previous incarnations. Ahh, the darks days of Karanka and Pulis nothing but a distant memory for The Bees. Instead, we had two teams playing to win but Brentford the ones with their noses in front. Josh Dasilva saw one scooped off the line somehow before Julian Jeanvier opened proceedings. His shot eventually being deemed to have breached the Middlesbrough defences thanks to the joy of goal-line technology. It was a somewhat belated celebration as it suddenly dawned on us that a goal had, indeed, been given. Who cares? They all count ! 

And then things went bonkers in the second half. A spell of little over five minutes saw Lewis Wing equalise from distance through a crowded box. Nooooo. Urgh. Fear not. The Bees went straight back down the other and that man Mbeumo was on hand, with the help of a deflection, to leave Pears able to do little more than hold a conference with his defence over what had just happened. 

Punch followed punch followed punch. With Brentford supporters still eating the goal sweets bequeathed us by Mbeumo’s finish, Boro were back in control. This time, Ashley Fletcher was there to make it 2-2 after a brief consultation between linesman and referee. To a man Brentford appealed agasint this one, handball being the apparent offence, but the goal stood. 1-0 up on 58 had become 2-2 by the time the scoreboard flicked over to 63.

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Another game, another goal. The Bees celebrate retaking the lead.Mbeumo, again

Stop. Pause for breath. Collective composure was restored as Brentford began knocking on the door once more. Benrahma having the best of the chances. Mbeumo, Dalsgaard and Dasilva intermingling down the Braemar time and again but nothing gave. One free kick from the sweetest spot in Saunders territory drifted just over. Yet,oddly, all around was calm. There was no stress from the usual suspects sitting around us whilst the ever wonderful Alex Austin, to our right was the epitome of restraint. This was one game where the officials, including the nearside lineman who seemed to think the pitch was his personal domain, would have benefited from some advice. But no – there was nothing (especially first half) beyond backing the Bees and waiting for something to happen.

And then it did. Mbeumo fed my man of the match, Christian Norgaard, who broke to the touchline and pulled it back for Ollie Watkins. Unmarked in the box, the Championship’s leading goalscorer made no mistake from eight yards out. Gettttttttt! Innnnnnnn!! Oh Ollie , you beauty. Griffin Park a cauldron of euphoria. An explosion of ecstasy and relief wrapped up in the sound of  ten thousand voices coming together. The players running to the touchline to celebrate with the fans and each other. Something that happened again 7(seven) minutes later once the stoppage time had been played out. Brentford controlling the ball and making what was, for the supporters, the stress of the occasion nothing more than a brief delay.

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Celebrating that third . YESSS!!!

Oh, I love this club. I love Griffin Park. Harry’s cousin was there experiencing his first ever live football game and getting it all. The goals. The excitement. The hope. The result. The win. And then that wonderful, wonderful moment where Thomas and the team do their lap of honour. The close confines of our home allowing everyone the chance to get up close and personal in a way just not experienced anywhere else.

Words can’t describe the moment ; sometimes it’s easier to just let the photos do the talking instead. 

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

Next up, Leeds United. That’s a column for another day. Of course there’s going to be more than enough to say about that one. For now, we’ll just keep it to the fact that (another) defeat means Tuesday is suddenly set up to be even bigger than could have been thought possible a few weeks ago. Put simply, a Brentford win means that 12 point gap will have been reeled in and the Whites overtaken. Should that happen I’m pretty sure we’all all dance to Joy Division as popular music’s The Wombats once encouraged us.

That’s to come. For now, though, one last thought about the game. Harry’s match review (which starts below on 19 seconds). In my opinion, this says more about what we did yesterday than any amount of words or nonsense yours truly can pour out. And, yes, I get I’m biased being his dad but you can’t knock the enthusiasm. And that’s all down to this club. To this team. To what is fast becoming a special, special moment. Could it actually happen? Carry on like we did on Saturday and just about anything is possible.

 

Nick Bruzon

We’ve won the social media turf war. What next?

6 Feb

Brentford 4000 have beaten the Tranmere stripper and will now face the awesome stylings of Bristol City defender Donnie Gillies in the World Cup of Programme Covers third round. Elsewhere, some Leeds United fans went to Old Trafford to watch their U-18s play Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup. Well done there. Well done everyone. 

First up, as ever, Brentford. In the most heavily fought tie of the round a Bees resurgence saw Tranmere Rovers slowly reeled in over the course of the day before we eventually overcame our match-day magazine rivals 52%-48%. Who said you win nothing with stats? 

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Through to the next round

The tie, described by compere Miles McClagan (@TheSkyStrikers) as “a social media turf war” was the most heavily voted for in the round as many peoples’ favourite suffered what could be described as a shock exit. With Brentford also featuring in the first round match with the highest turnout, could our name be on the cup? Or are we just good at using Twitter?

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubting things are going to be even tougher in the following round(s). Bristol City are next and it’s one of those where, frankly, words fail to do a cover justice. One just has to sit back and drink it all in.

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Bristol City will provide formidable opposition

The winner of that one will then face Ipswich Town or Morton in the quarters. Honestly, the thought of Donnie lining up against B.A. Robertson, John Wark (in full warm-up kit, of course) and a briefcase full of cash is one that has me salivating. It’s like an early 80s ‘Cold War Steve’, right down to the sponsorship. Just think Danepak rather than Fray Bentos. 

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When worlds collide…..

I don’t for one second think either the Bees or Morton will just roll over to allow this Titanic sartorial match up to take place. Certainly, we’ll give it our all. The only thing you can be sure of is that as the tournament progresses, we’re going to have a lot of fun in finding out whose name is on the cup. 

Elsewhere, Leeds United official were getting very excited because 1400 fans went to Manchester United to watch an FA Youth Cup match. 

And? What am I missing here? Genuine question, given the fuss being made on social media. Under achieving club and huge fan base with long memories about once being ‘any good’ take short trip down the road for a night out to famous club. Fans go to a game and cheer on their team. That seems to be the gist of it.

They’ve not played their rivals since 2011 so it must have been exciting for them. An ad-hoc chance to go back to the Mancunian library and try to upset their young hosts. Sing a song about Ed Woodward. Lovely stuff. 

I guess what this does do though is prove what incredible support they have. What a huge club Leeds United are. A side that has a divine right to play top flight football rather than being one who have sat in the Championship, or further beyond, since 2007. Administration will do that to you though.

Frankly, if there was any justice the EFL would stop subjecting Leeds to the annual torture of their falling apart (again) and just promote them automatically to the deserved home in the Premier League. Who needs tinpot pub teams and bus stops like Brentford trying to play their way up when we could, no should, have a top flight dominated by those grand old names of the past?

Oh, what’s the point. It was their cup final so I’m glad they enjoyed themselves. There are infinitely more important things to focus on in the coming days. We face Boro’ and Leeds go to play-off rivals Nottingham Forest. Then there’s the small matter of their trip to Griffin Park.

See you on Tuesday, Leeds United. I can’t wait for this one !!

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No room for bus stops in the Premier League? BS.

Nick Bruzon