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Looking sharp for the Manchester United game. And beyond..

28 Jul

Fair to say we’re now up to our, err, elbows in pre-season prep for the Premier League. The weekend gone saw queues all the way around the block for the launch of the new Brentford kits (something likened by many to our lining up in the snow when Chelsea FA cup tickets went on sale first time around). There was the behind closed doors friendly defeat of Watford, with Ivan Toney picking up where he left off last season and then this evening Manchester United welcome the top flight’s third placed club in another warm up game.

Prove otherwise

We’ve already spoken about the new kit on these pages – you can find that one here – but the good news being that up close and personal it looks better than those launch photos. Dare I say it, ten times…? The away, certainly.

Going past the club shop last Thursday evening on the way to H’s swimming lesson, our cycle up Braemar Road coincided with the mannequins being arranged in the window. But enough about the Birmingham City defence. There they were. Plastic models (but enough abou…), bedecked head to foot in what we’ll be wearing over the forthcoming campaign. The relief was palpable.

Our away looks gorgeous. Discreet chevron shading running through the design whilst the home, whilst still sadly bereft of our own black trim, at least seems to have toned down the awful look of the sponsor that greeted the initial reveal. Perhaps it had been photoshopped in after the launch phots were taken. As if that would ever happen. Who knows?

Certainly the queues that ran all the way around the block and the huge wait for printing were testament to the popularity. Kudos to Chris and the team running the laminator. A three hour wait from start to finish to complete our order from going in. “Ah, we’ll just stroll up at 9 o’clock,” I casually said to Mrs Bruzon and H.

Hmmmm….The queue went from bus stop to bus stop. Griffin Park down to the New Road 65 shelter and beyond. It really was like taking a throwback to League One. Most of our time was spent waiting to even get access although the usual bonhomie that greets such occasions was alive and well. There’s nothing like the thought of needing your shirt to travel to Manchester United the following week to get the blood pumping and the spirits high.

And that is now upon us. The table doesn’t lie and with Brentford in third place – ten slots above the Old Trafford outfit – our early season form has been rewarded. Whilst the visit of Arsenal on Friday 13th will be the true acid test and our first real chance to go top of the Premier League on ability rather than alphabetical good fortune. Still, I’ll take what I can get. Pull it off this evening or next month and the place is going to go nuts. With the Bees largely expected to be whipping boys, we’ve nothing to lose, everything to gain and the knowledge that this tin pot outfit actually knows what it is doing.  

For anybody not able to travel tonight, the game is live on MUTV. Not that I can imagine we’ve too many subscribers. This Saturday’s visit from West Ham is more likely when the half and halfers will be out and about. Still, with a monthly pass available online at £7.99, perhaps a one-off subscription may be the way forward. For Manchester United rather than West Ham. You can sign up here but don’t forget to deactivate your card afterwards.

Nobody can deny our preseason is being taken lightly. The transfers are coming in whilst we’ve still not had any rumours of outward movement. No bad thing, given the number of Toney 17 shirts that were flying off the shelves at the weekend. I daren’t imagine the stress should he even change his squad number, let alone be linked to a rival. Still, that’s nothing different to any other campaign. It’s Brentford, innit. 

Old school queuing on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

A chance to remember ‘that’ goal then look forward to an epic build up.

13 Jul

And thus pre-season was complete. At least, in terms of the calendar. Hot on the heels of our trip to Manchester United, Brentford have had the final two games of the build up confirmed. Saturday 31st July sees a visit from West Ham United with Spanish outfit Valencia next up in a 5.30pm kick-off the following Saturday (7 August). Six days later it all starts when Arsenal jump on the Piccadilly line to South Ealing. Full details are on ‘official’, with the Valencia game expected to see a full house and even some away fans present for the visit of West Ham (presumably, actual fans rather than those in the half/half scarves).

Arsenal are a short tube ride away

With all Corona bets off from July 19th – albeit we’ll see how long that lasts – the next natural step is for Brentford to go for broke in terms of capacity. The Valencia game has been declared as the formal opening of our new stadium and I can’t wait. The atmosphere against Blackburn and Bournemouth was nothing short of incredible. When the place is full – and especially when Arsenal visit for a full blooded, full fat encounter – it only promises to be immense. More importantly these are three tests that, at least in terms of opposition, one would hope may provide a bit more a steer as how the Bees will fare in the forthcoming season. Assuming both teams go full tilt rather than use them as an experiment in squad rotation. 

We’ll likely end up somewhere in between but as much as anything else its just an excuse to go to football once more. Why wouldn’t you. Cripes, we’ve missed it. Desperately. Euro 2020 showed that, as if any reminder were actually needed, despite the painful on-pitch denouement to that competition (can’t even begin myself to start about the shameful stuff that happened off it). We’re still wiping up the tears in our house even now. A brutal punch to the stomach of a young boy who has so far experienced a World Cup semi-final and a Wembley win to reach the Premier league. Normally unshakeable faith in his team now tested once more following our assault by Fulham in the previous play-offs. Oh well, like Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town you can file them in the ‘where are they now?“ files.

Which pretty much sums up the quite magnificent enigma that is Brentford FC 2021. That we can now mention Yeovil and Doncaster in the same breath as Manchester United, Arsenal and Valencia. Talk about time being a great healer. Talk about looking forward to enjoying every moment of the most monumental season for our club since records began. Sink or swim? Stay or go? Still under the radar and under rated or flying high from the off? Nobody gives us much of a hope, although Ivan Toney’s popularity in the Fantasy football stakes suggests otherwise. Personally speaking, I’m hugely optimistic (quelle surprise) although will perhaps forego the annual bet on Brentford to win the league. Something that, over the years, has seen us just about in net-gain territory. Perhaps it may be more prudent to go ‘each way’ , this season. 

This far in to a small piece on West Ham and no mention of Said Benrahma. Yet. Ah, it’ll be great to see him back and no doubt there’ll be an appearance. A player up there with Jota in the ability stakes and one who has gone on to the next level, despite yet to break into the first team on a regular basis. He was AMAZING at Griffin Park. He had that brief cameo at Lionel Road when scoring ‘that’ goal in the league cup against a hapless Fulham outfit. The turn and beautiful back-heeled nutmeg before rounding Michael Hector to unleash the mother of all shots. No doubt he’ll warm up to a heroes welcome before it all goes ‘panto villain’ once the game starts. 

‘That’ goal against Fulham last season..

What an opportunity for us to lay down a marker as to how far we’ve come. The fears that selling him and Ollie Watkins would see Brentford come to nothing last season, dispelled as quickly as Fulham’s Premier league survival hopes. The faith shown by those that stuck by Thomas and the team rewarded in the most incredible style at Wembley in May. The moment still feels as fresh now as it did then. It was a long time coming and still deserves to be enjoyed to the max. A moment to provide all the inspiration we need going forward.

With the Bees back in training already you can be sure Thomas will have us set to hit the ground running. The Euros have gone. The close-season (closed?) break now feels over. Sure, we‘ve a month to wait until the Premier League kicks off properly but now it feels as though the clock really is ticking. As though we are racing full tilt towards destiny. Now, the only things in the way of that season opens with Arsenal are Manchester United. Are West Ham. Are Valencia. 

My word, this is going to be fun…..

And as our regular final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU

Until then, why not enjoy that Benrahma goal one more time…..

Nick Bruzon

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

Forget Christian preachers. Harry and Woody tell it like it is.

1 Jun

There was a lot of gumph spouted on Twitter yesterday about Brentford. Primarily from Manchester United supporting Terry Christian. We won’t give that any further credence (beyond the fact that the entire TW8 family have no doubt copy/pasted his comments for future use). If ever you wanted to know why Brentford beating Swansea City to reach the Premier League is an amazing thing for both us and football, then I’m hopeful today’s piece may help. Or should I say, pieces? First up, our Harry with his own match report – including some home truths that, perhaps, I’m not sure we should be sharing – and then the real jewel in the Wembley crown, an account of Woody’s day. 

Fur Coat by Harry Bruzon (aged 7 (seven) )

This is about “Bentley” my cat (definitely not the goalie) having “Brentford promoted to PREMIER LEAGUE THROUGH PLAY-OFFS” on his coat…

One dark, gloomy night inside the head of Harry I dreamt it was raining. Bentley the cat was walking to a barbers and got Brentford promoted to PREMIER LEAGUE THROUGH PLAY-OFFS 2021 cut into his fur coat.  Then, he left the shop and padded down to the Griffin Pub. He had a play there with the 2 pub cats, then he tried to order a beer (weird). He ran back home. A split second before Harry woke up, Bentley was in the house.

I was awake, got up and went downstairs. Daddy was writing a blog upstairs so I got him down and fed Bentley (our real cat). We excitedly got ready for the day ahead and set off for Wembley via the Griffin Pub! After a few pre match morning pints – including my lemonade – we got our cab ordered and off we went.

It felt like a greenhouse in the cab, the driver took us a very weird route and it felt like forever. When we got out, I felt sick (but I was fine) I literally couldn’t wait !!  We met at our friend’s flat for drinks and snacks ; then set off for Wembley Stadium for my first ever visit)!!!!!!!!

Walking to Wembley, I felt so excited; the streets were packed.  I really wanted to get there. We turned a corner and WOW, Wembley Way, jam packed and brilliant. The noise was ear piercing and buzzing, just like us Bees.

My Dad took us up the stairs, but there was no need – our entrance was underneath the stairs.  Before the game, my Mum said she needed some exercise; well she got her wish as we had to do a full lap of the stadium trying to find our entrance.  She has a bad sense of direction…..

Finally, we made it to our seats, 5 minutes before kick off.  Then it started. For the first 5 minutes it was a bit cagey with the players getting used to the flow of the game.  Then on 9 minutes Sergi played a perfectly weighted ball, it looked like it was for Toney, but Ivan stopped in his run and Mbeumo ran across.

Freddie Woodman (the Swansea goalkeeper) ran out to collect the ball, but because it was so perfectly set for Mbeumo instead Woodman collected Mbeumo’s ankles rather than the ball.  Bryan won Brentford a PENALTY KICK!! Yesssss! The ref pointed to the spot. 

10 minutes on the clock…. I was actually pretty nervous because my dad had been saying all season that eventually he has to miss one. I was hoping it wasn’t the most important one of the season even though I thought he would score.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait – TONEY scores!!!!!  1-0 to BRENTFORD. The Brentford half of the stadium exploded; I was leaping around and cheering my heart out.  Brentford had scored first in their first play off final I had ever seen.  This was looking good.  The Swanseas fans did not look impressed.

14 minutes on the clock……… Naughton, Swansea player, forgets about the ball and rugby tackles Sergi Canos, it looks like Sergi does a cartwheel. Must have been fun (not) riding around on the floor. Free kick given to Brentford but it wasn’t used very well.

20 minutes on the clock….

Swansea City have a corner, Ayew heads the ball to the ground, he dives for good measure, no penalty given for Swansea – but a nice try Ayew.

Mbeumo came sprinting up field as Swansea are caught out on a 2 v 2 attack by Brentford.  Another Swansea player arrives but that does not matter, Roerslev comes up the outside of Mbeumo, who passes to him……

Wait, wait, wait. Emiliano comes running into the box from the other end of the pitch. Roerslev plays it perfectly into his path and Emiliano only goes and blasts it into the back of the Swansea goal… 2-0 to Brentford. Again the stadium exploded in the Brentford half!!

I couldn’t believe it. I was beginning to think my Dad saying Brentford always lost playoff finals was a bit of a joke.

This was so amazing as Brentford were totally dominating the half. When the half time whistle blew I couldn’t sit in my seat.  It was probably the best half time ever for me (plus I needed a wee). Time to check out Wembley’s facilities (not quite as nice as our Lionel Road)

Second half. (Reminder its 2-0 to Brentford). It felt like Swansea had 90% compared to our 10% in the first 20 minutes of the second half and it actually got a bit pressured at times. Is this what my dad calls “Squeaky bum time”? When Swansea got a corner, Brentford tried to clear it and Swansea player Jay Fulton went for a two feet forward tackle from behind Jenson with the clear intention to wipe him out – DIRTY !!!!! The ref was all over it though and hahahaha, the red card came out.  Fulton was off . The crowd exploded again.

At the full time whistle, the Brentford crowd waited about 3 seconds before exploding louder than any point during the match. Nobody could believe we had actually done it.

BRENTFORD HAD WON THE PLAYOFF FINAL

BRENTFORD WERE THROUGH TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE!!!

That thing about my Dad, always saying that Brentford never win at the play off finals was rubbish. I watched them play for the first time and they won. Not sure what he was on about…..

When I got home we gave Bentley a big cuddle and asked if he wanted to go to the barbers tomorrow.

HARRY BRUZON

And now we hand the baton to Natalie, Woody’s mum…..

Oorullie – that is Wembley to the rest of us

W like Woody it starts with a W….. With not much warning we had a ticket, another blessing, this mysterious place oorullie with a wuh was on Woodys mind from wake til sleep.  

The journey was interesting… we made some new friends wishing us well, many people in Waterloo found out Woody’s name as I desperately tried to navigate my way weighed down with ‘stuff’ I was worried would be snatched from me at the entrance.  My least favourite moment was Woody not getting on the escalator, in my mum wisdom I thought being in front of him was wise in case he fell. 

WRONG, I ended up sprinting the wrong way up the escalator as he stood at the stop staring at me.  Anyway, after a Macdonalds and more engaging with strangers we arrive at the magical Wembley.  Woody stole two bread rolls from a bakery and chatted to a man preaching in the street but after spending a lot of money on red items from the stall we were on our way.   

As we walked towards the arch, (not the golden ones), the sensory onslaught began, the wall of noise was like coming home to Woody.  It was another new place but seeing the ‘Bees’ around him was a magical reunion.  Those that recognised him chanting his name as we climbed the steps was nothing short of therapy and he definitely grew at least a centimetre.  

I am pretty sure Woody was holding his breath like the rest of us after the second goal just waiting for the whistle.  The importance of the game was not lost on him and in between stuffing his hula hoops his version of ‘ you’re shit aaah’ was definitely showing improvement.  What was definitely missing was Dennis, who always sat behind us at Griffin Park and had more impact on Woody’s development than any speech and language therapist.  Despite the huge space around us the excitement was touchable and he started his stealth like movements to the front as the minutes ticked by.

After the final whistle it all a got a little out of hand …..  Like the other lucky Bees the emotion was running high and it was expressed in many different beautiful ways.  Woody doesn’t really do things by halves so when we were asked to leave by one of the stewards things didn’t go well…. 

Imagine a Millwall fan on a really bad day….  I was floundering under pressure, I was the only person in the stadium that was not on the pay roll with a small very very angry person demanding to see TOM in a very loud voice.  

As Mum I knew exactly what he wanted but the lovely lovely staff of Wembley were completely perplexed by the frankly (excuse the pun) monstrous behavior.  In a nutshell he wanted to talk to Thomas Frank and in Woody’s world he could not understand why this was unreasonable.  Wearing Charlie Goodes medal and holding the cup handed by Emi were simply not enough he still wanted TOOOOOOOOOM.  

I was all out of ideas and beginning to think we were going to be banned for life from Wembley when someone in a suit arrived and told Woody if you join the press queue you can talk to Thomas, thank god. After always being the last person to leave Griffin Park even on the coldest darkest days, sitting in Wembley for a good 90 minutes after final whistle in the sunshine was an absolute privilege.  

If you don’t know what kindness looks like see the picture attached.  Woody can’t talk but Thomas didn’t care, he asked the right questions and Woody nodded.  Thomas gave him the greatest gift you can give anyone, his time, a few precious minutes in a day where everyone wanted this mans time.  

Holding his hand and looking him in the eye while the UK press waited for him.  I don’t know about football, I am just a mum, but I know about love, passion and kindness.  Thank you for letting us be part of this amazing family, we cannot wait for next season but honestly if we were playing Accrington Stanley it would be just as magical for us.  

Natalie – Woody’s mum

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

Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You just know they’ll do it.

12 Jan

And with that the FA Cup fourth round draw has been made. Not to mention the in no way convoluted selection for the fifth. With Brentford fans settling down in front of the TV to watch proceedings unfold (and Leeds United fans settling down in front of the TV to watch The One Show) the best we could hope for was a home draw. Well, we got one. A repeat of last season’s tie  with Leicester City. The winners of which will be at home again, entertaining whomever comes out on top between Brighton and Blackpool. The chance to test ourselves once more against the former Premier League Champions . A possible return for Neal Maupay should everything go to plan. The quarter-finals wide open. I’m sure all four clubs in our little group are thinking the same about that one. This could be fun. Even if the TV companies will be wetting themselves over the prospect of Manchester United – Liverpool. Yawn.

This really is as good as it could have got for the Bees. Brentford  – Leicester City is a tie with all the elements in place for a classic FA Cup match. High flying Championship side at home to the former top flight champions and a club currently in the top three. It was a close run thing last time out and I can’t wait for the chance to go one better. Or, at least, try to ! Would that we were able to attend in person but there’s frankly no way we’ll be able to get anywhere near a football stadium by the end of January. Even 9-11 February for round five is still nothing more than a flight of fancy. Sadly, it will have to be the TV for us, Brighton and Blackpool.

Its one of those where, genuinely, any of the four teams can make it through. Brighton are hardly on fire at present. Blackpool made West Brom look even shoddier than normal at the weekend. Leicester City are clearly the favourites but they won’t relish a visit to a Brentford team who made it to the League Cup semi-finals. Who are flying high in the league and have an added element of steel that was, perhaps, missing last season. Opposition generally despatched with ease but, if we’re being honest, perhaps lacking that additional nous when it counted. Look at how Leeds United held it together at the critical time. Fair play to them. When all were expecting them to fall apart (again) they stayed firm. The brilliance of Bielsa pulling them through. Hurrah for powerpoint!

There are a few obvious plum ties in the draw. Wycombe v Spurs. Cheltenham Town v Manchester City. Chorley v Wolves is, for me, the pick of the bunch. No doubt BT and the BBC will be falling over themselves for Manchester United v Liverpool. Why? Why? Why? (Delilah). A game, and teams, we’ve seen a thousand times before. An encounter with as much cup magic as an end of the pier entertainer pulling a dirty handkerchief rather than the missing card from his sleeve. Genuinely I’d give that one a swerve. Been there. Done it. No interest. The others, and the wider draw, offer up genuine intrigue. Ourselves included. Moreso once the cards fall into place for round five. 

That’s way down the track though. First things first, we’ve got Bristol City tomorrow night. Then a few more league games. Then Leicester City visit. I’m sure, likewise, Thomas will go for a similar team that beat Middlesbrough in round three. That took us most of the way in the league cup. I’m fully behind that, too. The squad is there for a reason and these boys have more than proven they can step into the first team. Even if his rotation does cause a few tears to be shed in other quarters.

I love the FA Cup. I’d love us to get as far as possible, no question. I still see the Championship as an absolute priority. Equally, though, having one foot in the quarters a few season back was quite the moment. Until Swansea City did their thing in the second half. With the paths for both mapped out in front of us, the next month or two could be even more exciting than ever. There’s not really much else to say at this point. The balls have dropped. We know what awaits.  Bring it on.

It all went South at Swansea after a cracking first half.

Nick Bruzon

Uncanny parallels on a day of Gayle v gale as the run comes to an end.

17 Mar

And with that, the home streak was over. After 7 (seven) straight wins at Griffin Park, Brentford went down to West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in a game dominated by two goalkeepers and awful conditions. On a day windier than a naughty puppy at Christmas after snafflling an entire family size tub of Roses, it was West Brom who played both the conditions and the ref to win the game with their one moment of true quality – Kyle Edwards embarking on mazy run through the midfield and the Brentford defence to steer it past Luke Daniels six minutes into the second half. Elsewhere, there was more than a passing interest in how our own FA Cup conquerors, Swansea City, would fare in the next round at home to Manchester City. It would be fair to say there was no irony lost in how that one turned out. But we can only start with matters at Griffin Park.

The writing was on the wall before the game even kicked off in anger, if we’re being honest. And not just the appointment of Andy Madley as our ‘referee’. There was that lowest of low tricks at the toss – changing ends. I’m not a fan of having to kick ‘the wrong way’ in the first half. It doesn’t feel right and gets everybody’s back up. Especially given it meant we’d spend the second period kicking into the wind. And it was strong, very strong. The trees behind the away end were bending double whilst three balls were lost over the stadium roof after being hoofed high into the gusty stratosphere.

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View from the Braemar – West Brom had it when to counted. Sadly.

It was a bad start to the game but entirely understandable given the circumstances. Despite pressure and chances, the Bees were unable to find a way past Sam Johnstone in goal for the opposition in that opening period. It was another game where we went for it from the off.

Yet where previously we’ve had the ability to step it up in the second period, this time there was no way through. The elements providing a massive help to a team who defended with strength whilst cynically running down the clock at every opportunity. The ball was kicked away whenever possible, the ref allowed The Baggies to get in his ear and under his skin, throw ins were delayed and dives that would have had Tom Daley smiling were common place.

Much as against Sheffield United midweek, Brentford were locked out by well drilled opponents. When the chances came, the ball didn’t quite fall right or Johnstone was on hand to pull off top drawer saves. One in particular, from a Yoann Barbet free kick, had the fans out of their seats for 1-0 Brentford before the diving’ keeper’s outstretched palm managed to guide it to safety at the explosion of the ‘goal’ celebration. Canos and Maupay also came close but it wasn’t to be. 

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View from the Braemar – Yoann comes close. So close.

When West Brom had their own opportunity, Edwards took it with style. There can be no complaints about the way he started and finished the move. Even if there were plenty afterwards as the clock headed towards it’s inexorable denouement with all the pressure and tension of a losing Countdown contestant trying to make a last round word out of JKXDZBEIO.

More so, when referee Madley followed a strong first hour with a final thirty minutes which suggested his focus was anywhere but on ensuring the game could flow. His own performance very much going to the dogs as Brentford battled against Dwight Gayle, a roaring gale and a rogue ref.

So after the play-off dream had briefly raised its head in recent weeks, we’re now nine points off the top six with nine games to go. Given the way this team can play, I’m not going to say it’s over until it’s over. But being realistic, things are going to need a remarkable swing.

On the plus side, we’ve got international break to all catch our breath and recuperate before that final push begins at the end of the month with two away games – Wigan Athletic and then a midweek trip to Swansea City. At the very least, another top ten finish is more than attainable. Another finish over the likes of Birmingham City and QPR well within our grasp.

Yesterday was frustrating and notably so, given the conditions we had to watch the game in. Whilst I’d never trade being at Griffin Park for TV, there was a pang of jealousy about the comfort of those watching ‘on screen’ from sunnier climes.

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Not exactly TW8….

Still, if it was all about the comfort then you may aswell stay at home. Something a group of West Brom fans must have been wishing after putting on the worst pre-match display for TV’s Soccer AM since, well, that day we don’t talk about against Doncaster Rovers.

With football done, it was back home to catch up on the FA Cup action. In particular, the game between Swansea City and Manchester City. That one being of particular interest to Bees fans after we’d seen a 1-0 half time lead at the Liberty Stadium in the previous round turn into a 4-1 fifth round exit at full time. The catalyst for that one being turned around was, of course, the unfortunate equaliser where a free kick had beaten Luke Daniels, hit the post, struck the back of the still diving goalkeeper on its return and deflected straight back into the net for 1-1.

So there was no irony lost as Swansea saw a 2-1 second half lead at the Liberty Stadium turn into a 3-2 sixth round exit at full time. The catalyst for that one being turned around was, of course, the unfortunate equaliser where Sergio Aguero’s penalty had beaten Kristoffer Nordfeldt, hit the post, struck the back of the still diving goalkeeper on its return and deflected straight back into the net for 2-2.

That the penalty decision, like Aguero’s late winner, had probably been made the wrong way can only have added to the sense of frustration felt by the home fans. Tell me about it. Yet another two fingers up delivered from VAR or, more the case, the lack of VAR. The FA Cup only allowing the system to be used in games players at Premier league grounds. Nothing like keeping the competition consistent, eh? 

For Manchester City, an incredible opportunity to scoop a quadruple still awaits. For Brentford and Swansea City, we’re back to the drawing board. The Championship play-offs remain a mathematical possibility but are going to take an incredible combination of wins and favours from other teams.

 With Leeds United and Frank Lampard’s Derby county still to visit, who knows what might sill happen…..

Nick Bruzon

A season defining game and the chance to correct football’s biggest jinx await.

13 Mar

Well this really is an evening with everything to play for. Whilst most neutral observers may well be focussed on Manchester United and the Champions League, it is the Championship where there’s a story of genuine excitement and intrigue building. Brentford host a Cardiff City team looking to make it 7(seven) successive league wins. Victory will see them afforded a chance to draw level with a Wolves team whose seemingly unassailable lead at New Year has melted away quicker than the snow that caused this fixture to be postponed ten days ago. A gap of 12 points after they beat us in early January has now become just 3. Is it conceivable Cardiff could actually catch up with them tonight?

Let’s just cut that one stone dead in it’s tracks. Whilst something that is technically possible, I can’t see it happening. For one thing, Wolves are also in action. They host a Reading team who have offered little this season and are flirting with the relegation zone a touch too much for their liking. Thankfully for the Royals, the ongoing ineptitude of Birmingham City, Sunderland and Burton should see them home, even if their safety is acquired by accident rather than design.

More importantly, we’re also involved. Brentford thumped Millwall on Saturday in everything but goals scored. It was an extremely frustrating end to an afternoon where we did everything but score. Instead, George Saville did the needful for our genial hosts as Andreas Bjelland was left dead in the water after aggravating an Achilles problem he’d felt in the warm up.

There’s no complaints from me. We’ve been saying all season that goals, rather than possession and opportunity, are what win games. Millwall did what they needed to and then more than rode their luck. Equally though, I’m expecting Brentford to come out of the blocks flying tonight. There’s still a hope of the play offs although an eight point gap is going to need reeling in and with games running out, what better time to start than this evening?

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Functional breeze blocks. Millwall on Saturday

I also fancy Neal Maupay to prove a point tonight. I’ve no doubt that with Dean juggling his squad, the enigmatic striker will be back in the starting XI. If nothing else, he’ll have a point to prove to professional loud mouth and moron, Ian Moose. We all know what the imbecilic Talk Sport shock jock said after our sides met at the Cardiff City stadium back in November (and it wasn’t, “Happy Birthday, my good friend….”). I’m backing Neal to make him eat his own words, something that would be quite ironic given it’s normally the half-time catering that Mr. Moose has a morbid fixation with ingesting.

Expect Neal to start whilst Chris Mepham for Andreas is an absolute given. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sergi given a rest, especially knowing Cardiff’s propensity to concede second half goals. Ten of the last eleven they’ve let in have been after the sides have come back out (and I’ll thank the BBC for that one!). Likewise, could this be the time for Josh McEachran to shine? Back from injury, he’ll no doubt be knocking down Dean’s door with a point to prove.

Sky TV are in attendance tonight. I’m not surprised given what is at stake and the results have fallen wonderfully for them. Whilst Manchester United v Sevilla in the Champions League on BT is the obvious draw to the neutral, this one has got it all to play for. It has so many more sub-plots and possibilities at stake than simply whether Jose Mourinho can grind his team through to their own next round.

Even better, why not get yourself down to Griffin Park? Tickets are still available for what promises to be a potentially season defining game. For both teams. Neil Warnock is the current manager of the month and even managed to dodge ‘the jinx’ after receiving his award on Friday. Win the prize; lose your next game.

Then again, the match immediately after that was against Birmingham City. The Blues are displaying such wonderful anti-form at present they couldn’t organise a banjo in a brewery with a barn door. As such, no surprises Cardiff managed to anger the footballing gods and avoid the traditional post-award slip up.

Instead, it’s up to Brentford to right that wrong. Can The Bees do it? I can’t wait for 7.45 when we find out. See you there.

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Fully dseserved for Neil Warnock. But can The Bees correct the jinx?

Nick Bruzon

Black Cats roll over to have their tummies tickled. Birmingham City are on the way down (to Brentford). Plus FA Cup oddity.

18 Feb

Is everybody back from Sunderland yet? A 2-0 win for Brentford at the Stadium of Light on Saturday was the perfect way to bounce back from a mini blip that had seen The Bees pick up 1 point from the previous three games (although fully deserving of all 9, if Dean Smith’s post-match press conferences were to be believed). Yet this time it was Chris Coleman using his time with the media to put the black cat amongst the pigeons. The former Fulham man opining about the Bees that: “I don’t think they’ll ever get promoted, I could be wrong, because they don’t have the finances but, if they keep doing what they do, they won’t be relegated either. Elsewhere, I woke to news of Manchester United drawing Brighton in the FA Cup. Somehow….

First up, the Sunderland manager. West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore ran a story last night that included Coleman’s claim – a statement worthy of Steve Evans at his finest. We’ve all been here and done this so many times yet it never fails to amuse. The suggestion that playing your way to the top isn’t possible without gargantuan levels of spending. Little Brentford. Teams like Brentford. Even Sky Sports haven’t bothered to update our crest on their graphics package – and we’re two thirds of the way through the campaign. The awful ‘cluttered clipart’ crest still hanging around like a bad smell. Every time you think it’s gone, it comes back. Had it been around 65 million years ago, one can only suspect it would have survived the asteroid .

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Curse that clipart graphic.

But enough of dinosaurs. Instead, Chris Coleman. Whatever his thoughts, we are seeing more and more that you can’t put a price on shrewd and innovative acquisition. On bringing the right people into the right set up. Look at how the Bees have continued to flourish season on season. Look at Birmingham City for the closest possible parallel to what happens when you just lump cash at it.

We’ve all had our doubts about the Brentford model over the years. Myself included. This summer in particular felt like a particular low point. Yet we’ve picked ourselves up and gone again.

Neal Maupay, now pretty much guaranteed a long run with the departure of Lasse Vibe, scored his eighth goal of the season with the cheekiest of back heeled efforts to go top of our scoring charts. This, after Kamo had opened the scoring with less than a quarter hour gone. Firing home hard and low from outside the box, he broke his Brentford duck and has given Dean Smith a real selection poser from the visit of Birmingham on Tuesday.  Brentford sit 10th in the Championship for the fourth successive season and with 42 points still available, there’s still a chance at the play-offs.

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Neal celebrates another goal.

Tom’s story also sparked the clickbait-gate debate on Social media once more. You can read that one here – the story rather than the clickbait chat. Personally, I’ve said my piece on that in these pages previously. The likes of Here Is The City and Football League World don’t even warrant a read these days, such is the eventual anti-climax that follows upon selecting one of their ‘stories’.

These publications so often tempt the reader with what transpires to be worse transfer news than the demise of the Letraset ‘action’ range.  News Now is littered with headlines which lead to nothing more than the regurgitation of the same footballer’s twitter feed we all have access to. Is the need for ‘hits’ and internet traffic THAT desperate?

On a totally unrelated note, I did enjoy Alan Judge’s retort to Coleman on the Social media platform last night. A simple but deliciously sweet: Yeah but we won’t be goin down. Certainly it makes a wonderful difference to the usual ‘we go again’.

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Letraset Action Transfers – a sadly missed treat from the 70s

That said, even Brentford official have been guilty of it in the past. I’ll never forget the moment back in November 1991 when the club proudly announced that we’d be signing a Division One (now Premier League) player. The excitement. The calls to 0898 121108 (at 33p a minute). The tension. Who would it be? Gary Lineker? Lee Chapman? Gazza? Gary McAllister? With the greatest respect to the legend that he is, the return of Bob Booker was hardly one to have supporters dancing in the streets of Raith when he was revealed.

Getting back to events at Sunderland, you have to feel for a team who were in the Premier League last season and are now on a fast track to League One along with Burton and Birmingham City. Talking this morning to one Bees insider (a man with his finger very much on the pulse of relevance) his considered opinion was that Black Cats are doomed, describing them as a shadow of the team that played at Griffin Park for the 3-3 back in October. Something that is desperate to see, especially given they’ve such great fans too.

Yet as we’ve seen with the likes of Wolves and Southampton (who played alongside us in League One) or Newcastle and Leeds United, former glories count for nothing. Having a huge stadium and great fans mean naff all if you can’t get the spending right, keep the team motivated or perform on the pitch.

With the greatest respect, that’s their issue. Not ours. Brentford are safe and looking upwards. Barring a remarkable reversal of fortune, Sunderland can start programming Birmingham, Accrington Stanley and Luton into the Satnav for 2018/19.

Who are they? Sunderland might be about to find out.

This weekend has also seen the FA Cup fifth round ties taking place. It really has been a TV overload with Sheffield Wednesday – Swansea providing a low key start before things kicked off on Saturday. Manchester United got past Huddersfield despite some dubious use of VAR. One does have to wonder how hard it is to get watching a TV replay wrong. Yet here we went. Again.

If VAR was confusing, it was nothing compared to waking up on Sunday to news that the draw for the sixth round had already taken place. This, despite a quarter of the ties yet to have taken place. Is nothing sacred anymore? Like semi-finals at Wembley and virtual reserve teams taking the field of play (although that didn’t work out too well for Tottenham at Rochdale on Sunday evening), it’s yet another subtle erosion of the gilt from this famous old trophy. We still love it, of course, yet I can’t help feel the FA are allowing their tournament to become tarnished. Even if squad selection isn’t in their hands, other factors most certainly are.

Still, for me its all about looking forward. About getting ready for that Birmingham City game. This is one we’ve all had in the diary since the transfer window slammed shut. If ever there was time to avoid the whiff of slippage then it is now.  #BeeTheDJ selections are being lined up and the vocal chords loosened. Victory for Brentford will take us to the 50 point mark, 20 better than our old boys at St. Andrews. That’ll be twice ten times better.

See you on Tuesday, Harlee. Forget Chelsea v Barcelona in the Champion’s League. Griffin Park is very much going to be the place for a blood and thunder encounter. It’s going to be a lively one, that’s for sure, and I can’t wait. Bring it on.

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Nick Bruzon

Who spent Saturday wandering around Griffin Park? Who spent Sunday in pole position at the EFL cup final?

27 Feb

Well that was some weekend. A 4-2 win for Brentford over Rotherham United will never be remembered as the classic that the scoreline suggests. That said, it will be remembered for the unadulterated excitement of seeing Jota wrap up his first hat-trick for the Bees. Yet with a lazy Sunday beckoning for the Griffin Park faithful and a chance for us all to recover from Saturday’s exertions, the Manchester United – Southampton EFL final at the W place in North London saw one of our number still hard at work.

First up though, the rest of the weekend round up from Griffin Park. Sitting where we do just below the director’s box, it really is the perfect place for seeing the great and the good from the world of football. And with Rotherham United in town, surely this would be the perfect place for spotting a Chuckle Brother or two?

Sadly, neither Paul of Barry were present. Or, if they were, they were maintaining a very low profile. Instead of the Chuckle Brothers, we had to be content with Rasmus putting in an appearance ‘upstairs’ and a rare pre-match sortie along the Braemar Road touchline from Dean Smith. Likewise, suspended Harlee Dean spent the day wandering around Griffin Park.

A prematch appearance in the club shop was followed by a similar touchline stroll to Dean aswell as then being spotted, twice, doing his thing on the forecourt at half time. It speaks volumes about our club that the manager (head coach) and captain can still walk around so easily, albeit happy to stop for autographs and photos, without being harangued by baying masses.

As my own guest for the day, Cousin Charles (and those who know of his ‘connections’ and win ratio should be chaining him to the terrace) would later note – Imagine that happening at Manchester United or Chelsea. There’d be mayhem.

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Harlee looking up at the Director’s box before kick off. A fan of the Chuckle Brothers?

Instead, its just Brentford. We know our players. We’ve all met them and, with the tight environs of Griffin Park being what they are, it is the most natural thing in the world to see them up close and personal. Long may this continue. Long may the likes of Dean Smith and Harlee Dean feel comfortable enough to walk around in such close proximity to the supporters.Long may they both be as personable and friendly as they were on Saturday.

But if Dean and Harlee were spotted somewhat out of context, it was nothing compared to Cliff Crown on Sunday. Having been afforded the rare privilege of being allowed to watch an entire football match undisturbed after a roast beef lunch, yours truly took full advantage and wasn’t let down by the EFL Cup final .

Whatever your thoughts on the tournament itself, the game between Manchester United and Southampton was a stone cold classic. United being somewhat fortunate to come away with a 3-2 win that left the neutrals purring and Fantasy Football managers up and down the land crowbarring Manolo Gabbiadini into their teams.

But with United victorious and Wayne Rooney, who hadn’t even made it off the subs bench, kitted up and preparing to lift the trophy John Terry style, there was a surprise in store. Was that Cliff Crown in the royal box? The Brentford chairman? Sure enough, and with apologies for ruining the moment of the Southampton players receiving their runner’s up medals, a double take on the ‘rewind’ button confirmed the very same.

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Cliff and Brentford jacket on full display

Even better, he’d gone in there with his Brentford colours on full display. Awesome stuff, Cliff. We may have missed the Chuckle Brothers in the Griffin Park box on Saturday but this more than made up for it the next day.

Brentford at Wembley. Who’d have thought it possible this season? Here’s hoping that next year we get a chance to do it for real.

Nick Bruzon