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Time to start talking kit (and buying tickets).

24 Mar

We’re half way through the first week of international break. Another ten days until Brentford head to Chelsea for a league game in which there was good news for us Bees yesterday. The narrow defeat at Leicester City now put behind us. Fantasy football teams left gathering dust. No bad thing in the case of yours truly, whose attempt to jinx Leeds United on Friday backfired terribly. Three players selected yet rather than this seeing them fall apart (again), they mounted that stonking rearguard action at Wolves to turn 2-0 down into an eventual 3-2 victory. At the same time, rather than the consolation of a plethora of points that should go with an on pitch win, the net result was a measly three. Three. Points. I give up. That long time aspiration to be a football manager one best consigned to the waste bin of history.

Bruzon’s falling apart. Again.

Anyway, aside from Leeds United and the Foxes putting a dent into the weekend (as ever, you can catch our take on the Brentford ‘top five’ from Leicester City here), there’s been another dalliance or two into the world of football fantasy. Namely, kit design. We shared some of them on these pages in the last few days but, along with some other efforts where we’ve messed around in Photoshop (see – it can be used for more than just venting the spleen about Mrs. Brown’s Boys) why not stick them all up in the same place?

If nothing else, we’re getting close to that time of the season where talk turns to what we’ll be running out in next season. Expect clubs to start dropping their 2022-23 efforts over the coming weeks and, whilst we’ve traditionally left things late, we already know that our home shirt will remain the current home shirt. Huge thanks from from the Bruzon family piggy bank on that decision to roll over this season’s design.

The flip side to this equation being we’re guaranteed a new away and third kit. Jon Varney has already confirmed that, “We hope the new away shirt design will excite our fans who remember the 80’s and early 90’s, whilst the new third shirt is designed very much for the future!

What does all this mean, though? The obvious guess would be a return for either the Hummel fractals or more blue on blue for our change colours. Possibly even the one season wonder that was the Funky Bee centenary crest. Go on Bob, I dare you…

Could the 2022-23 be heading down one of these routes…

Or, of course, rather than colours it could be a reference to our much loved ‘castle badge’ which was everywhere in the 80-90s . Tapping into that retro vibe very much in evidence at the moment. A bit of castle action. A helping hand from one of my favourite (non Bees) Umbro kits of all time. A sash. My word, an actual sash on a Brentford shirt…

…. or perhaps adopting the Castle badge once more?

As for the ‘one for the future’, that’s as open to interpretation as you want.  Could we be going back down the trailblazing route? Specifically that adopted with the brown / orange? Whilst it is, without doubt, up there with our best ever change strips in years, it’s fair to say that one split opinion. Incredibly, some people didn’t like it – I know, I know – so would take a huge leap of faith to retread that path. Then again, combine those colours with some yellow and our much repeated ‘Bus stop in Hounslow’ tag for the obvious solution. One we’ve talked about before and would take balls of marketing steel to adopt. Albeit, just imagine…..

Just for the meltdown…..

Then there’s our favourite yellow and black combo. The one unveiled in the window of a Bathroom shop (c/o our then sponsors, Bathwise) . Albeit remixed into more of a Bee motif.

Or something more simple but (and with apologies for shoddy photoshoppery) showing colours appropriate for what’s going on in the wider world at the moment.

It’s all complete guesswork and, with no inside knowledge, nothing more than a bit of fun. The point being that talk will soon be starting. The guesses will begin. The reveal will be dropped on us.

We’ve had it all over the years. Fans involved. A youth team member leaking the picture. The week long strip tease inflicted upon us by (now Leyton Orient) chief executive Mark Devlin. The only ask this time around being that whatever it is, please make it quick and make it soon. And Bob, if you are reading – I’m available….

How not to ‘launch’ an away kit. Curse that leak

Until then, which of these would you pick ?

Theo other, actual, news from yesterday was the news that Chelsea tickets are back on sale. With the terms of their sanctioning tweaked, Brentford fans with over 2,000 TAPS will be able to get these from today on a first come, first served basis. 1,600 were already sold before the shutters came down which, by my rudimentary calculations, means we have another 1,400 to go. Don’t @ me if that maths is wrong. Just move quick smart if you want in. Full details here, on Brentford ‘official’.

Until then, you can have a vote on the kit or catch up on that Leicester City piece.

Nick Bruzon

Leicester City debrief. Foxes sting Bees.

22 Mar

Brentford went down 2-1 at Leicester City on Sunday afternoon in a game of three outstanding strikes and not too much else to separate the two teams. With international break now upon us prior to those back-to-back London derbies at Chelsea and then home to West Ham, time to catch our breath. 

Time to look back at who was our star man, who were the top five performers and who leads the charge for our overall player of the season. At least, in these awards. The Leicester City debrief is now up and can be found here. In the absence of Ghoddos and Christian Eriksen (thanks a bunch, Covid) did anyone do enough to write themselves in to the first team for that game at Chelsea……

Nick Bruzon

He’s behind you. Time for some payback?

20 Mar

It’s been an odd weekend so far. With Brentford not in action until this afternoon given our trip to Leicester City has been put back by their own European jaunt (its currently 6.30am and the sun is rising over West London. That beautiful moment of Sunday morning calm before our H gets up to check his Fantasy Football scores prior to binge watching Pokemon – something he has recently discovered and which appears to be the animated equivalent of Mrs. Browns boys in its sheer repetitiveness of the same ‘plot’ every episode. Also, there are no jokes in it.) we’ve been enjoying the other games. There was the Premier League clash between Wolves and Leeds United on Friday night and then Middlesbrough – Chelsea in the FA Cup yesterday.   

First up, Brentford. Last time out we wrote about Leicester City and kit. About what happened when the Foxes came to Lionel Road. That’s here if you need another reminder of that one. Applications to the James Maddison fan club can be completed by sending a 45p postal order and s.a.e. to the following address… and don’t forget to mark your envelope with the word ‘buffoon’ in the top corner. Hey, its a family publication. Generally.

Let’s hope for less of a pantomime this time around

You can’t blame Leicester. We’d have been ecstatic had that been us. See: West Ham (a) . See Wolves (a). Playing the opposition like fiddles. Taking the moment when it arose and then milking it to death. Doesn’t make it any easer when you are on the receiving end though and so, all being well, the team (and the supporters) have stored this away. A reminder ready to be delivered. Football fans don’t forget. See also: Harlee Dean. Just because we can.

Yet despite the backdrop it’s a chance for Brentford to record a third successive win in the Premier League. For Ivan Toney to build on his record of five goals in the last two games and show Gareth Southgate what he has missed out on. For Christian Eriksen to wow us, yet again. My word he’s a special player. Subject to injuries the team will pick itself once more. The change in formation very much suiting our game play. The dogged determination against Burnley last weekend keeping us going until the 90th minute, and beyond, to wrap up the points. It’s going to be a good one today and I can’t wait. Victory, should it happen by sufficient goal difference, could see us end the day in twelfth place. Talk about an incentive to go for it.

Until then, we can reflect upon what has happened so far. Friday night at Molineux was bizarre. Wolves raced in to a two goal half-time lead as Leeds United fell apart. Again. No surprises there. Then, the impossible happened. Not one, not two but three goals from the visitors. The late, late winner mirroring Everton the night before. Albeit without the cable ties. 

Credit to Leeds United for their guts and fighting spirit. Much as it pains me to admit it. Surely, now, they’re safe from the drop. For a moment it looked like the season might be heading for the perfect denouement. Brentford safe. Leeds down. Game 38, between our respective teams at Lionel Road, the cherry on the cake. Then they started to win. Again. As The BeeGees almost once sang. That said, they’re still below us in the table. If ever there was any further motivation needed to get three points this afternoon then here it is. 

Leeds finally flexed their muscles on Friday

Then yesterday, we had the FA Cup tie. If grudging respect is being paid to Leeds then wheel it out by the bucketload for Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson. There was absolutely no mincing of words ahead of his club’s home quarter-final with Chelsea. The Blues’ request that is be played behind closed doors for reasons of ‘sporting integrity’ (given their own sanction based inability to sell tickets) was met with understandable short thrift. That’s the polite term.

Gibson telling them to f8%k the f87k off and when they’re done, f78k off some more. Or, as he put it, only slightly more diplomatically…….

“Chelsea and sporting integrity do not belong in the same sentence……Where is the intellect of Bruce Buck, the chairman of Chelsea, who has been an apologist for his owner, where the trophies won over 19 years have come from the corrupt money provided by Abramovich.” 

Well said that man. The sheer brass neck of the Stamford Bridge outfit stretching the incredulity of even the most dispassionate fans outside their little corner of South-West London. Just p8ss off, the almost universal thought that had sprung to mind when that request was made, before being later withdrawn.

Sadly, with millions of casual observers willing Middlesbrough on, there was to be no fairytale ending. No sense of justice done. Chelsea did what Chelsea do and made their 2-0 progression to the semi-finals look as comfortable as a squad that strong would. We’ve got them next up, after Leicester. In person, too. Assuming those tickets already sold remain valid…

The only other thought for today. Kit. Whilst I’m sure next season’s are already long since picked and in production, another though has crossed the mind. Writing in the programme this season about opposition colours we had the chance to feature one of the all time greatest. Namely, the Manchester City third shirt produced by Umbro for 2009-10. Given we’re stable mates – at least in terms of manufacturer – could we do something similar? 

Regular readers to these pages will know of my own kit nerdery. And so with, seemingly, nothing to write about Brentford yesterday (David Raya being called up for Spain what now?) there was time for a few minutes tinkering on photoshop. To produce this…

Concept kit art – with the deselect black/white filter in full effect today

Thoughts? Kitman Bob? Anyone? Well I like it so that’s that.

That’s it. Our Harry is stirring. It’s only minutes until another foray into the copy/paste world of Pokemon and Team Rocket falling apart like Leeds United. Again. Best get set for Leicester….

Just once Team Rocket. Once….

Nick Bruzon 

A question of kit. Could we? Should we?

16 Mar

The spectre of fixture reshuffling for TV hangs heavy once again. “Our match away to Manchester United has been moved to Monday May 2. This game will kick-off at 8pm at Old Trafford. Fans should note that this date is subject to Manchester United’s involvement in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final”. Not my words. The words of Brentford official. At the same time confirming that the home game with Tottenham Hotspur on 23rd April has had kick off pushed back to 5.30pm. Again, subject to potential European fixtures . Much like January’s game in Liverpool, the date is now locked in. Unless cup football gets in the way. Nothing like looking out for the fans although, at least, the risk of Manchester United being further moved has disappeared as quickly as it was announced. Tuesday night’s defeat at home to Atlético Madrid just hours after the TV announcement means that interest in this season’s European competition is well and truly over. Elsewhere, with Leicester City next up for Brentford, we look to that game aswell as mulling over a possible kit ‘first’ for the Bees.

More to follow, below

First up, TV. For Brentford it’s the sort of ‘nice’ problem to have. A club in demand and a further reminder that we’re a Premier League team. Sometimes, its still a case of a self-administered pinch to remind ourselves we’re in the top flight. Such has been the journey to get here over the years. Yet here we are. Deserving of our place and back on form. Ivan Toney banging them in for fun and Christian Eriksen fast carving himself a place in club history.

His signing could end up being the shrewdest, boldest move of the Premier League season. His impact has been immediate. Burnley and Norwich carved open. Less canaries, more turkeys. But hey, enough about the commentators. Eriksen’s reward being an immediate recall to the Denmark squad announced yesterday for the games with the Netherlands and Serbia later this month. If he carries on at this rate the queue to secure his longer term signature over the summer is going to be a long one. Of course, I’d love it to be with Brentford but that choice is going to be down to the player and bigger powers than the aspirations of one supporter with his head in the clouds.

Then again the lure of our set up, Thomas Frank and the welcome received so far may talk louder than any dumper truck full of cash offered up by other clubs. You never know…

Christian Eriksen – had a blinder against Burnley

Until then, we’ve got the trip to Leicester City this Sunday. A 2pm kick off (again, European football getting in the way) with no official TV coverage. Presumably those unable to get a ticket for the sold out away end may find a means to circumnavigate technologies ‘The Internet’ for live streaming.

The focus on Sunday will be in Brentford maintaining the winning run. In seeing if Ivan Toney can keep up that goal scoring form that sees him up to fifth in the Premier League goal scoring charts. His eleven for the season see our man one behind Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Sadio Mané and Diogo Jota (both Liverpool) in joint second place and level with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min (Spurs). Not bad company to be keeping and with only Mohamed Salah above them (cripes, its no wonder Liverpool are still in the title race with that amount of firepower), the calls for Ivan to be selected for England are starting to grow. Whether they are answered at this point remains to be seen but, if nothing else, the national team’s historic form in penalty shoot outs alone suggests his eventual selection is inevitable.

Sunday also sees another coming together with pantomime villain James Maddison. He may aswell have turned up in a top hat, cape and sporting a waxed moustache when the Foxes visited Lionel Road back in October. His full-time admission that “I want to be the villain,” …“it makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  Further endearing him to Brentford fans whose skin he’d spent the entire game getting under with his theatrics. Then again, he wasn’t alone.

Hmmmmm

Our Harry asked me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic. The Foxes collapsing like chimneys. Brendan Rodgers very much channeling his inner Fred Dibnah when it came to setting up his team.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester last time out

Just like the visit of number 26 with Burnley at the weekend, football fans don’t forget. We have long memories and this one will be front and centre on Sunday. Much like Russell Slade and ten times better Harlee Dean, these things have a tendency to come back and bite you in the backside. Here’s hoping Brentford can invoke the spirit of another pantomime villain and remember that revenge is a dish best served cold. Or, in this case, lukewarm.

The season continues to deliver. Most observers had Brentford written off before the campaign began. Instead, its Leeds United and Everton who are the ones duking it out in the relegation places. Whilst most fans would, I am sure, like a few more points for comfort I’m still looking upwards. Beating Leicester City on Sunday with sufficient GD swing will see us overtake the currently 12th placed team. That’s not a bad incentive to go for it with less than ten games remaining in the season.

The other question remains one of ‘kit’. Or should that be two questions? Firstly, yours truly. I make no secret of my own shirt nerdy. With ‘several’ shirts from the last five decades at home, one has always been worn when watching Brentford. Always, That is, until Norwich City when the new ‘lucky’ green jacket got an an outing. A late ‘70s polyester masterclass in fashion that time forgot. Yet… we won. No shirt. No colours, beyond the addition of the yellow / blue hat ‘away’ hat. Next up, Burnley. Same again. No colours. Just the green jacket and the hat. We won.

It seems obvious what to do wear next time out but, the one small problem being…..Mrs. Bruzon hates it. Absolutely hates it. “You look like a gnome” being the polite way of putting things. My protests that, “The table doesn’t lie” falling on deaf hears. As it stands. 

Domestic bliss or playing the part, no matter how small, in keeping a winning run going ? What to do? What to do…..? 

The other kit question being that of this season’s offerings. We all know what’s going on in Europe at the moment. The reaction of the International community to the attrocities in Ukraine has been pretty much universal – the handful of dickhead countries aside. Here, Premier League games have seen stadia drapped in Ukrainian colours and huge murals of the national flag held aloft prior to kick off. Again, support has been largely universal – the dickhead club aside.

However, how about going one better? How about getting a one off kit commissioned? Match shirts to be auctioned off afterwards for charity to help Ukranian refugees?

Might Brentford be the ones to nail our colours to the mast and help lead the way as we have done so often before?  Kitman Bob? Matthew Benham? If either of you are reading (err, its a lovely thought….)  Brentford official? Could we? More importantly, should we?

Everyone talks the talk but why don’t we walk the walk? Forgive the shoddy photoshop but you get the gist. What about it?

For now though, at least we can start booking the train to Manchester United and awaiting the game with Leicester City. I can’t wait for that one. Bring it on and see you there. All being well, in the green jacket.

Until then, here’s the Burnley catch up.

Nick Bruzon

Will injury blow impact title chances?

27 Oct

After Iheanacho lifts over, Pérez collides with Raya while trying to latch onto Tielemans’ pass – both are fine to continue as play resumes. Not my words, the words of official Leicester City Twitter on Sunday afternoon at 3.46pm. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  After a few days of tests and scans with the medical department, I’m gutted to say that I’ve damaged my Posterior Cruciate Ligament in my left knee on Sunday. Not my words, the words of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya as it was announced he will miss the next four to five months recovering from the injury sustained in the collision with Ayoze Pérez. All of which means preparation form tonight’s game with Stoke City along with the Premier league clashes with Burnley, Norwich City and way beyond are now back to the drawing board. Huesca loanee Álvaro Fernández  will be handed the gloves with the Bees now minus our inspirational shot stopper. 

Bad news from social media

Urghh. Something had seemed odd during the game when Raya hadn’t run up to cause havoc in the Leicester box late on. The award of a corner kick deep into the 7(seven) minutes of injury time was met with exhortations from the crowd for the Brentford ‘keeper to push up and cause mayhem in the opposition box. Instead, we got a rather tepid limp forward and a holding position maintained well inside his own half.

The irony being this moment occurred during time added on to make up for all the ‘treatment’ required by our visitors during the regulation ninety. Supporters infuriated by opponents, and I’ll be generous here, making the most of every moment they went to ground. Collapsing like industrial chimneys after the plunger had been, err, plunged.

Plunge the plunger…..

Cripes. Even Harry had said to me at full time. “Dad. Do you know who men of the match should be?”   Err, ‘men’? I questioned.  He continued, “The Leicester physios”. Well said that boy. Well said.

The regularity with which they collapsed to the floor before making a full recovery had not gone unobserverd by H, us, the entire North stand and fourth official who would eventually hold up the board. My word, It was almost as though it had been a preordained tactic.

Channel your inner Fred Dibnah. Get the lead and go to ground. Run down the clock. Grind it out.

Channelling their inner ‘Fred’ was a success for Leicester

Nobody is suggesting there was any particular malice from Perez, btw. At the time it had seemed like another brave save from Raya. Watching back the highlights on Match of the Day, it didn’t even warrant a viewing. Indeed the most distasteful element aside from the pronunciation of Boo-moo (one to file alongside Canyos) was the celebration from James Maddison for what transpired to be his winning goal.

We’d given him stick all game, and understandably given his own combination of cosying up to the ref whilst playing in bowling shoes, so one can hardly blame him for milking the moment.

I want to be the villain,” he said at full time. “It makes it all the sweeter when I score up that end.”  If nothing else, it makes our rematch on 19th March all the more intriguing. 

Giving it back to the West Stand

Hey, you never know. By that point David may be fit again. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill does it’s thing. We have the consolation in the fact that no surgery is required. Brentford head of medical Neil Greig confirming that this sort of injury ”Usually heals well without the need for surgery. David has already begun using a brace specifically designed to aid this process.”  You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

Until that point, its a case of best wishes to David off the field and the same to Álvaro Fernández on it. The reserve ‘keeper, on loan from Huesca, now has a chance to establish himself in the battle for the gloves. Whilst nobody would want to get their chance in this fashion, it’s how football goes. The Olympic silver medalist already has a full international cap to his name and so hardly as though we are chucking Don Incognito into the mix. He will no doubt be desperate to hit the ground running and propel Brentford back into the race for the Champion’s League places. Or beyond…. Had The Bees got the decisive goal on Sunday, we’d be waking up this morning placed fifth in the Premier League. Such fine margins in a race which still has a long way to run.

If nothing else, the Directors of Football seem to have got this ‘talent spotting’ thing sorted out just fine. Whilst of course I’m desperately sad to lose David, and for such a long period of a season in which he was making an even bigger name for himself than already, at least there is comfort to be taken in the cover. What this means for the Stoke City game this evening, where he was sure to feature, remains to be seen. Roll on 6.45pm and the team announcements for that news. I can’t imagine Thomas will risk him with his first choice league ‘keeper now MIA.

Then we’re on to Burnley. To Norwich City. To Newcastle United and a long run of games in which David will need to join the rest of us on the sidelines. Looking on and cheering. A run of games where we play some of the biggest names and sternest tests in English football. So just like the season to date then. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. The injury has been confirmed and we can’t dress it up any. A top class player is out. A replacement with all the potential is in. Bring on Saturday afternoon when we see just what Álvaro can do. Until then, it’s a case of knowing that the entire Brentford family is behind David, thinking of him and hoping for a speedy recovery.

David Raya is a Bee.

Nick Bruzon

Roll up. Roll up. Get your sour grapes and injustice here.

25 Oct

Monday morning. Half-term. Brentford very much schooled by Leicester City in the dark arts of football yesterday afternoon. A 2-1 defeat for the Bees at Lionel Road one which left a very empty feeling in the pit of the stomach at full time. Whereas we’d walked off with heads held high after battering Chelsea last week, this time the Bees were undone by the midfield axis of James Maddison and Simon Hooper. The player spending so much time whispering sweet nothings into the referee’s ear, one can only presume his eventual substitution was in order to go and run a warm bath for the pair of them to share. If ever Gareth Southgate needs somebody to gob off to the ref then Maddison is a sure fire selection to add to his solitary England cap. The only time he wasn’t prodding Mr. Hooper, he was busy going arse over tit in a style that suggested the poor man’s Jack Grealish was playing in carpet slippers. Not even Linda Lovelace went down that often.  There was no irony lost in his sole contribution to actual football being the winning goal. As JJ (of goal inducing bladder fame) nailed it afterwards in his always succinct style, “If ever the phrase ‘an utter fanny’ was invented for a footballer then it’s him.” Cripes, even hearing the scoreline from Manchester United in the pub afterwards failed to raise flagging spirits. Liverpool breaking Terry Christian’s heart but failing to complete a bracketing that 5-0 up after 50 minutes and playing ten men suggested might be in the offing.

It’s 07351 62……

Instead, the only 7(seven) we got was time added on in the second half at Lionel Road. The bizarre thing being that the Leicester City players only seemed to be injured when they were ahead. Sorry, only seemed to be ‘injured’. At 0-0 and 1-1 the game was fast flowing and attacking. Yet whenever they had the lead, the visitors collapsed with an ease and regularity that suggested Fred Dibnah had taken over as Leicester head coach. 

Or if not the champion steeplejack, perhaps Brice Samba. Such was the time wasting, gamesmanship and general flow disruption that only years in the Premier League can teach you. Oh, if only Mr Hooper had been wise to it. Alas not. Too busy exchanging phone numbers with Maddison, I suppose. We’d been worried about him going in to this game and came out of it no happier. Another hugely frustrating performance from the man in the middle but you can’t blame Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers for having his team play like this if the ref was going to allow it.

Post match interviews with the BBC’s Lauren Moore

Brentford came out of the traps flying and picked up where we left off against Chelsea. Surely a goal would come? Surely? There it was but the offside flag ruled out an early opener from Ivan Toney. There was no need even for VAR but it did, at least, give hope that we’d kick on.

This, after Pontus had been denied an early penalty for thrusting the side of his face into the outstretched fist of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel rather than guiding the ball into the net. Draw your own conclusions….

Eventually the goal did come. Not as expected though. The Bees undone by a rare incursion into their half from the visitors and an absolute howitzer from Youri Tielemans. The player, a midfielder who does know what it is to be picked for regular international duty, showed all his ability and skill with about as wonderful a goal as you will see. My. Word. What a hit. What a strike. It’s probably still moving even now. Sometimes, one just has to doff the hat and say, ‘Bravo, sir”.

It was a wonder goal that left David Raya no chance. All the early pressure from Brentford undone in an instant. The stream of injuries and ref chat which then followed disrupting any form of attempt to get back in to the game. The Bees desperately missing Vitaly Janelt in the centre. His return cannot come soon enough. Bryan and Ivan linking well but neither able to trouble Schmeichel with the final touch, one Toney header aside.

Half time came and went. Brentford back out and on top. Attacking the East stand after the dirty trick of ‘changing ends’ had been pulled following the coin toss pre kick-off. Yet despite it all, we were level on the hour. Zanka the man who managed to evade to the flying fists and flick home a corner. 1-1. Lionel Road erupted. Scores level. Bees on top and pushing for the winner. Here we go. Here. We. Go. Pressure rewarded. A goal scored and only one possible outcome from this point. Or so we thought…

Football. The game we love. The game that kicks us in the nuts time and again. This time it was the turn of Leicester City to be the ones breaking our collective hearts. Tielmans and the hero of Moscow, Patson Daka, teaming up to catch the Bees on the break. Ripping us a new one with electric pace and there he was. None other than panto villain Maddison to restore their lead, despite the best efforts of David Raya. 2-1 up. The goal deserved with the Bees so focused on breaking forward, we’d been exposed across the rest of the pitch. The visitors picking their moment to strike and what a clinical way to do so. Maddison leaving the field shortly afterwards. He may aswell have worn a cape, top hat and twirled his moustache. Instead, he applauded first his own fans and the Brentford faithful behind the goal.

Despite the final fifteen minutes and prolonged period of time added on, there was little could be done. Foxes back in their hole and the door bolted. Ultimately, doing exactly what they needed to and despite the clear frustrations from all around the ground, nothing more than ‘job completed’. Regardless of the means. A third win on the bounce following those against Manchester Untied and Spartak. Another defeat for the Bees against wily opposition. The absence of Wissa, Baptiste, Josh Dasilva and the aforementioned Janelt wrecking our midfield but still a game where we walked out feeling mugged. Experience at this level definitely something in short supply and, perhaps, another lesson in the fact that nice guys finish last.

Sometimes, a bit more guile needed. If the refs are going to be like this then play to them rather than any moral code. The sole consolation being the sight of Pontus ploughing through James Maddison with impunity later in the second half. But nice though the moment was, and it was, brief smiles don’t win games. Goals do. And on this occasion, Leicester City did just what they needed.    

Ok. So this is full of sour grapes today. I readily admit that. Despite the need to be humble and sporting, sometimes the feeling of being absolutely played or of having a ref offer less protection than a continuity announcer failing to announce “And now on BBC1, Mrs Brown’s Boys” is just too strong. Too over bearing. Even having slept on it. If that makes me the bad loser and poorer for it then fair enough. I’ll take it on the chin. Much like Pontus.  C’est la vie, as popular music’s B*Witched once reminded us in such wonderful double denim toe tapping style. 

For now, heads down. The Premier League experience has been a wonderful one so far. At times, an education but we’ve not looked out of our depth at any point. A bit more luck with the injuries and the refs would be nice. A bit more guile, too. Next up we’ve got two away trips.  Stoke City in the league cup and then Burnley in the Prem. If the chance of playing against number 26 again doesn’t get the blood pumping, what will ? Bring it on.

My only other positive and last thought from this one. At least our Harry is the bigger man. I’d expected upset and tears at full time. Instead, we got the opposite when he went to catch up Woody on the way out of the ground.

Full time. H better than his dad

Nick Bruzon

It was hell on earth. Could the same happen again?

24 Oct

Sunday morning and another early start. The eSpresso has been drunk, last night’s washing up done and the cat fed whilst the rest of the family still sleep. Even the cat.  Hey, never let it be said that yours truly doesn’t lead a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Yet all of this mundane normality will explode out of the blocks in a few hours time. Brentford host Leicester City knowing that victory combined with a win for Liverpool could propel the Bees to fifth in the Premier League table (one of the teams having to get some combination of points in the Spurs – West Ham game makes fourth just out of sight). Having performed so well in recent weeks, moreso seeing how fellow promoted teams have fared against teams we’ve taken all the way (Chelsea hitting Norwich City for a 7(seven) goal bracketing yesterday), means we go in to this one with tails very much up.

A typical early morning in TW8

Bloody hell. The atmosphere, and performance, in the Chelsea game (Brentford rather Norwich) were like nothing else. Then again, we said the same after West Ham away and the 3-3 with Liverpool. Every time you think that things have got as good as they can, the team and the fans rewrite the form book. Last Saturday evening had just about everyone channeling their inner Dean Smith. We actually did deserve to win. It’s a real ‘break glass in case of emergency phase but for once, it rang so very true.

Of course, the record books will show we didn’t. Ben Chilwell’s goal separating the teams. True enough. Talking to friends and colleagues last week, all anyone outside TW8 could say was just how the heck had we been denied at least a point? The reaction was almost universal. Match of The Day showing the collection of wonderful saves, posts rattled and last gasp defending that kept us at bay. Kudos to Chelsea, btw. They did what they needed to and won the game. Yet seeing them dismantle Norwich City yesterday put it truly into context. Perhaps even more dramatically than Watford being obliterated by Liverpool the week after we were denied a famous victory over the Anfield side by nothing more than an offside flag.

It was a case of less Canaries and more headless chickens at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea with their pedal to the metal. Norwich, stuck in reverse and about as clueless as a Glenn Hoddle punditry masterclass. Just as at Lionel Road, the game started with the Champions of Europe pouring forward. Unlike the game at Lionel Road, the opposition crumbled and had no idea how to counter (or even contain) their opponents. The half-time assessment that with some substitutions Norwich might be able to play for the draw (they were 3-0 down at this juncture, having previously scored just 2 goals all campaign) was about as far fetched as it was just plain stupid. Instead, all we got was the aforementioned bracketing.

Let’s be clear. I’ve no particular love for Chelsea. Or any other club. At most, a lot of admiration for Norwich after they way they treated our Harry a few years back. Likewise, today’s opponents given the much needed shot of footballing romance they gave us all a few years back. If nothing else, the proof that the ‘elite’ don’t have it all their way.

Good times at Carrow Road. Pre kick-off

Ultimately though, in our house it’s all Brentford. At the same time, seeing how the three promoted teams have performed against the best in the land shows such a marked contrast as one can’t help but try to draw parallels. The respective results speak for themselves.  Watford 0 Liverpool 5 to Brentford 3 Liverpool 3.  Chelsea 7(seven) Norwich 0 to Brentford 0 Mendy Chelsea 1. Last season’s performance in the Championship counting for nothing now we’ve all stepped up. 

The one clear difference being that we were at home for both. My word, home. Talk about making that advantage count. Talk about not just raising the roof but ripping it off. The noise levels being generated have been stratospheric. Gargantuan. Like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. “It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes” being the considered verdict of Ben Chilwell last time out. 

Hell on earth at Lionel Road, last time out

We may not have the financial clout to match but we certainly have the passion. I’ve been in stadiums where we’ve played European Champions and missed out on promotion by play offs. And the atmosphere at Lionel Road is ten times better than that. It’s just about getting the balance right.

We had it at Griffin Park, of course. Who could forget the denouement to the 5-0 against Birmingham City or that afternoon against Preston North End? Then lockdown came, we were all stuck at home and denied football for the best part of an entire season, not to mention the end of the one before. Yet upon return its almost as if all the frustration of missing out has been bottled and the stopper now released. Seriously, being part of these crowds has been as much cathartic as anything else. Makes the missing out and the early morning washing up all that bit more bearable. Mostly, though, it plays a HUGE part in stifling our opponents and making Lionel Road a place to be feared. A genuine fortress. 

Leicester City are about as tough as opponents get. Just like Brentford, they’ll have the top quarter of the table in sight and, of course, have experienced their own huge morale boost. Namely that of coming from 2-0 down in Moscow to stride out as eventual 4-3 winners. Jamie Vardy spent the evening on the bench, with the Foxes four coming c/o of Patson Daka. Joy, another goal threat to contend with today and Kasper Schmeichel a man mountain at the other end. Having finally said farewell to one top class shot stopper in Edouard Mendy, we’re straight back up against another. Nobody sad it would be easy at this level !   

Foxes in Europe. Laboured wordplay and a half hour spent on photoshop yesterday so damn well going to use it again

Can I call it? No hope. All we can say is that if the Brentford faithful keep it as loud as we have done all season then we’ve every chance of lifting the boys onwards and upwards.

The bookies have the Bees as the outsiders, plus ça change, although at least we are deemed a little bit closer than in previous weeks. To be honest, it counts for naff all barring curiosity. All that matters is how we hit the ground at 2pm – on and off the pitch.

The bookies give Leicester the edge

Bring it on. See you there. If nothing else, there are Panini Cards to swap. Our Harry has a stack of doubles and is all set for the 1pm swap meet underneath the Family Section in the North West corner of the stadium. You can read about that on ‘official’.

Fingers crossed, the team can match his, and our, enthusiasm…..

Nick Bruzon

You’re Donald Trump, you are !! Although if Channel 4 are reading….

23 Oct

You don’t want to get into Europe Brentford. Frank out. Where’s the money, Benham? Fans were in outrage last night after the Bees slipped to tenth in the Premier League table. Last week’s mugging by Chelsea followed up by a win for Arsenal (not a typo) over Aston Villa in the weekend’s opening fixture. It was a result that saw the Gunners overtake the Bees prior to our game with Leicester City. That one held back until Sunday to allow for Foxes in Europe (if ever a TV series was just waiting to be made  – Edward, Amelia, Ruel, Megan and Michael J travelling around our favourite continent in a charabanc. Hilarity and chaos ensue. Lifelong friendships are forged. Brush and Fox get their own spin off series as a maverick detective and his ‘by the book’ partner) although their quite amazing 3-4 win at Spartak Moscow a game which eventually took place on Wednesday evening. Clearly, nobody was Russian back home.    

Foxes in Europe. We’d watch it? Yes? Maybe? Err….

Wastes half an hour on another flight of photoshop fantasy…..

All of which brings us back to reality. Of course there’s nobody calling for Thomas’s head (this season – we heaven’t forgotten….) and Channel 4 are unlikely to commission a fly on the wall road trip. Albeit I’d pay good  / some money to see Basil Brush giving it his all at St. Basil’s Cathedral. Oh Mr. Derek, will you ever learn? And instead, we’ve got the quite delicious prospect of Brentford V Leicester City to look forward to. Bring it on.

A game which comes hot on the heels of our own showdown with Chelsea last weekend. A game where I am still dumbfounded as to just how the equaliser failed to go in. Bravo, Edouard Mendy. What a ‘keeper. But the frustrating fact is that despite the best efforts of referee come panto villain Anthony Taylor, Brentford came away with nothing. League leaders Chelsea kept their place at the top of the table. That’s football. We put it behind us. Crying won’t change anything and, at least, we might get a decent referee this time.

Curse that ‘keeper. And that post

Checks fixture list. It’s Simon Hooper. Adopts foetal position and sobs gently on the kitchen floor. Simon ‘flipping’ Hooper. A man we crossed swords with many times in the EFL prior to his ascendency to the top flight. A man up there with Mr. Stroud in the ‘names to fear‘ list. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. 

Hey, perhaps things are different now. Maybe he has become more settled? Here’s hoping. Moreso because a look back through the Last Word archives brings a somewhat frustrating reminder of just why there’s a need to be cautious. So, instead of talking more about the game we’ll wrap up here for the day and leave you with a selection of his greatest hits…..

For starters..

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

How about….?

Man of the match Lewis Macleod and Ryan Woods pulling the strings in the middle whilst referee Simon Hooper pulled our legs erm, in the middle. His sending off of substitute Romaine Sawyers for two yellow cards, the second of which was softer than than the avalanche of snowflakes that filled the air, rounded off a poor afternoon for the man in black. The visiting players surrounding a referee who should have been stronger after what was, at best, an accidental coming together. Yet his missing the opportunity to insist on an orange ball (one day, it will come back) should have perhaps warned us what to expect.

Then there’s our headline (that’ll be what sitting near Alex ‘Angry Dad’ Austin does. The culprit remains nameless…)

“You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Moving swiftly on….

And, as ever, we start at Griffin Park where there isn’t a huge amount to add off a game where referee Simon Hooper dominated affairs. A shame, as it meant that first time around  we were denied moments such as this…..

And one last hit…

Talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

Bring it on. I think. See you there. Hoping a leopard has changed his spots…

Come on Simon. Please prove us wrong.

Nick Bruzon

Three games. Two weeks. One winner….

16 May

Congratulations Leicester City. Their 1-0 win in yesterday’s FA Cup final over Chelsea as much a victory for the fans in the stands and those back home as it was for the Foxes. With Brentford next up in enjoying supporters present (albeit of the ‘home’ variety only) for Monday evening’s play-off first leg at Bournemouth, one can only help this cautious return is one which can now escalate. The difference between an empty stadium and a ground not even a quarter full was palpable. The noise a cacophony with cheers and boos greeting every blast of the referee’s whistle. No more than when VAR once again proved itself to be as a big a passion killer as Mrs Brown smooching with Donald Trump whilst being serenaded by the England Supporter’s ‘band’. At least, if you wee a Chelsea fan. The jubilation that came from the Leicester end as the late equaliser was chalked off for the most marginal of offsides, the loudest noise off the afternoon. At least, until the cup was raised. If ever there was something for Brentford to try and emulate then there it was . The chance to enjoy the sweetest of triumphs in front of our supporters. Wembley sounding like the loudest place on earth despite the enforced emptiness of most seats. Not that anybody was sitting down.

Passion killer – VAR in ‘human’ form

That’s all a long way off, of course. First things first, Thomas Frank has to mastermind his way past Bournemouth. Brentford go into the mini tournament as 6/4 favourites with the bookmakers, followed by The Cherries, Barnsley and then Swansea City at 4/1. Scratch all of that. This is about as even as they come. This is as much to do with nerves and remaining calm as it is footballing ability and current form. Monday evening is going to be huge but I can’t wait. Genuinely excited. Of course, there is also a level of trepidation but after all that has come before us this season, we now have a chance to take those final steps towards the Premier League.

This time last campaign we were about as down as it is possible to get in footballing terms. The ultimate prize dropped on the line. Brentford had missed out on automatic and then went into the semi with a Swansea City team who had edged past Nottingham Forest to finish sixth in that most well documented and exciting of fashions. They had their tails up and won the first game by a single goal. Rico Henry saw red and, whilst Keith Stroud’s decision was eventually over turned before the return fixture, the evening felt like yet another step down that well trodden path signposted, ‘It’s Brentford, innit?’. The fortitude shown in the return fixture was immense. Unfortunately the final turned out to be a victory for Cheatrovic and some industrial challenges over a team who just ran out of steam and had no way through until it was too little, too late.

Keith Stroud…..not for the first time, Brentford suffered his thing in the play-offs

Hindsight it a wonderful thing, of course. Things haven’t exactly been a bed of roses for Fulham since going up. They’ve played out the campaign in an empty, three-sided ground and returned directly to the Championship. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200. We can’t tell what we would or wouldn’t have done but the important thing at this juncture is to take all of that and learn from it. The vast majority of this squad went through it all together. Hurt together. Kicked on again this season together. The primary addition to the group being Ivan Toney. A player in whom the way to goal is as instinctive as anybody with a three figure IQ reaching for the remote control whenever Mrs Brown’s Boys comes on TV.

All good in, theory.  Football doesn’t work like that. Just ask Chelsea. Cliche alert : this boils down to who wants it most. We know what we can do on our day. Insatiable going forward, Impenetrable at the back. We also know we can have our ‘Coventry away’ moments. That, as much as the form of Watford and Norwich City, the reason we are now facing a tenth stab at the play-offs. Finishing third for a second successive season is wonderful but now is the time to back it up with a genuine reward rather than good wishes from the footballing community. 

The other three teams fighting it out are going to feel equally deserving and will be 110% committed to winning this thing at any cost. Just turning up, expecting to win and being seen as the ‘nice guys’ won’t cut it. Thomas Frank is going to have to give the mother of all team talks on Monday. And Saturday. He has the talent at his disposal, that’s for sure. 

Yet, yet, yet. I still can’t but help feel properly excited by all of this. That’s not right. It’s the play-offs. We all know our record. It’s terrible – in terms of sheer horror, one to rank alongside the 2000 version of ‘The Great Escape’ that had the temerity to reach number 26 in the hit parade. We should be quaking but, instead, I’m buzzing with anticipation. An air of calm currently very much the vibe in our house. Table INSIDE the pub booked for Monday evening and as much the prospect of seeing old friends from a social distance a cause for additional excitement as is the game at hand. 

It really exists. People really bought it…

We are three games away from playing in the top flight next season for the first time in just about everybody’s living memory. Even our Methuselah on the mic, Peter Gilham. Three games away from hosting teams like Leicester City and Chelsea as well as those other names we are all so familiar with. Most importantly, we get the chance to see an actual live game of football again. Judging by the cup final yesterday, that in itself is a prize worth fighting for. A trip to Wembley something to be savoured. Something to be enjoyed. Something that, unlike previous attempts, won’t be something to fear. IF we can get past Bournemouth first. 

Cripes, the noise that came out of 21,000 yesterday was a thing of beauty to behold. A reminder of why football is nothing without fans. Here’s hoping there is more to come in the coming two weeks. For Brentford….

Imagine experiencing this….. What an aspiration.

Nick Bruzon

Glenn’s twoddle ruins an otherwise wonderful afternoon of football.

25 Jan

The losing I can take. First and foremost, congratulations to Leicester City. Worthy winners in the FA Cup fourth round with plenty of gas in the tank to really take things to the next level when they were needed the second half. For forty five minutes Brentford had it in our grasp but, as with Swansea City a few season back, the half time cuppas worked wonders and a 1-0 lead dissolved quicker than the snow which had carpeted the pitch prior to kick off. That weather suggesting we may need to crack out the orange ball and the extra long studs. Alas not. We were stuck with the yellow variant  (ball, not snow) and the possible leveller of inclement conditions disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. As did our cup dreams. Next up, a game with Brighton for the Foxes. For Brentford, we are now free to concentrate on the league (sorry, I’m too tired ) and that starts on Wednesday evening at the Liberty Stadium where there’s that huge showdown with second placed Swansea.

Snow had been falling hours before kick off.

As for the cup, well Thomas mixed things up as predicted. A team that included Mads Roerslev and Fin Stevens at full backs along with Jan Zamburek in midfield took an early lead against equally changed opponents. Mads Bech Sørensen on hand to stab home a corner after just 6 minutes had passed. Dreamland for Brentford. A nightmare for Leicester City who, despite the lion’s share of first half possession can perhaps count themselves lucky to have only gone in one down based on chances created. Then again, with the Bees defence being stretched in the build up and Ethan Pinnock having to pull us together, the warning signs were there. Sure enough, the inevitable happened.

Ünder restored parity in, err, less than a minute. Perez cam close and again. Then Fosu was was adjudged to have tripped up Tielemans in the box. He picked himself up and there was no mistake from the spot. Within the space of six short minutes the lead had changed and Leicester were in the driving seat. Any hope of salvaging something was put paid to by James Maddison leaving us to play out the last tweet minutes or so two goals down and against a team who only got stronger as their bench players came on for a run out. Game over, man. Game over.  Well played Leicester City – they really did look strong and what a way to step it up when needed. Good luck Brighton in the next round.

For Brentford, it had looked so good for a while but in the end was too much of a mountain to climb. No complaints, on pitch. We’ve more than had our share of fun in the cups this season. Of testing ourselves against opposition from the higher division. Off it, we had one major problem. That of Glenn Hoddle. My word, he spouts guff. The most annoying thing from BT since they replaced Busby with the ‘flatmates’. The flatmates that , I’m pretty sure from memory, used identity fraud as means of promoting the internet when the Simon ‘character’ tried online dating…. “He’s reeling one in“.

The BT flatmates. Remember them? Hopefully not.

What a load of clichéd nonsense that man spouts. Glenn, rather than Simon. (ahh, hello Mr. Pot. Irony is alive and well on these pages).  Amongst other things we discovered, several times, that :

Jamie Vardy isn’t playing.

It had been snowing (and there was still some on the pitch).

Brentford have beaten four Premier league teams this season.

Brentford lost to Spurs in the league cup semi-final.

We do clever recruitment.

We might have been playing this as a league match had it not been for something last season.

Both sides like playing decent football.

Yet the coup de grâce was saved for the fact that Brentford were, apparently, taking a risk by pushing up at set pieces. If Glenn mentioned it once he mentioned it a hundred times. In the end, domestic salvation came from our Harry. He’s only 7(seven) but still knows when enough is enough. 

Glenn: Brentford taking a risk here. If Jamie Vardy was playing….

Harry : but he isn’t.

And with that, sanity was restored. Kind of. We’re out of the cup but no tears here. The quest for the W place in North London has been fun whilst it lasted but is now over. Let’s hope we don’t need to make a third attempt later on in the campaign. Getting three points as Swansea on Wednesday would be a huge step in that journey. It won’t be easy but I can’t wait to find out how we go…..

Nick Bruzon