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Football is back. Bees all set to sting the Lions.

14 Oct

And we’re back in the room. After a two week lay off for Brentford thanks to International break, the Bees welcome Millwall as Championship football returns to Griffin Park. So much has happened since the last time we were all together (the 2-2 draw up at Middlesbrough) and I cannot wait to get back to action.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. So often, the International football served up over the break is no substitute for being at Griffin Park. I’ll park that one here for now, suffice to say that when the highlight of the Lithuania game was wondering why it was taking place in front of the marquee from the Great British Bake Off then you know things are grim.

That said (and to coin an old phrase) if you would like to read more then those World Cup qualifiers are amongst the topics under discussion in the ‘Park Life’ column from today’s match day programme.

Programme v Millwall
You can get the programme in and around the ground

Chock full of other features, new editor Sam Marshall and the club media team really have done a cracking job with this season’s publication (yours truly’s nonsense aside). What else would you buy on match day?

Off field, work is stepping up on the site at Lionel Road. Last week the club published a series of photographs showing the demolition of the ‘Capital Court’ office underway.I t is work that is continuing on a daily basis and can be seen by anybody walking past the site.

Certainly, it is a journey that my family now undertake Monday to Friday as part of the school run. Seeing where ‘Daddy bees’ are going to host all manner of ‘naughty teams’ in the next couple of years is now very much part of the morning ritual.

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Diggers at work on site at Lionel Road, Friday

Like Brentford, the Last Word has also had few weeks off – although this down to nothing more than laziness – but the thought of Millwall visiting has the blood pumping once more. The thought of seeing if the Bees can continue our unbeaten run and even pick up a first home win means I cannot wait to get down to Griffin Park. Moreso, as George Saville is likely to feature for the visitors.

It would be fair to say the former Bee had a torrid time the last time he visited. At least from the crowd, where he came in for dog’s abuse on the Braemar Road side about an incident that had allegedly happened around the back of a hotel carpark, at Brentford lock. Italian restaurants not the only little thing around there, if eye witness testimony is to be believed.

There’ll be no such chanting towards Tony Craig, should he feature. The ever popular centre back has helped both clubs earn promotion over the last few seasons. I still wager that had Mark Warburton stuck with him in our first Championship season then we’d have gone all the way rather than our eventual play-off defeat to Middlesbrough.

A dismal run towards the end of that season saw Tony dropped to the bench in favour of Harlee and number 26. It was a run punctuated by a series of defensive cock ups and 2-2 draws, including a shocker against none other than Millwall where the Lions held a 2-0 lead until a late, late resurgence from Brentford earned a lucky point.

But that was then and this is now. Nobody can deny that despite just missing out that time, to be in a fourth successive Championship campaign is nothing but impressive for a club under estimated by just about everybody outside of TW8. Dean Smith will be desperately keen to get another win under the belt. Moreso, given the amount of possession in our previous Griffin Park outing – the 1-1 draw at home to Gary Rowett’s bus parking Derby County.

He’s going to have to do it without Rico Henry. The injury suffered by our left back at Middlesbrough means he is now out for most, if not all, of the season. It’s desperately sad news for Rico. He really has looked the part since joining from Walsall and has fast become a fan favourite – especially over on the New Road side.

This does mean that Dean has a selection poser. With Tom Field on loan at Bradford until Christmas and unable to be recalled, who does he go for? Josh Clarke filled in at the Riverside rather than playing on his traditional right hand side. Andreas Bjelland and John Egan are both fit once more, having missed out in recent weeks. As such, could Yoann Barbet be shunted across? Or will we see a first league start for Ilias Chatzitheodoridis?

Having already featured in the League Cup, it’s highly likely we’ll see yet another B-team player make the step up into the first team. Dean has shown time and again he isn’t afraid to blood Kevin O’Connors kids and I think today will see another such occasion. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Just look at the impressive start made by Chris Mepham.

With striker Lasse Vibe also available again, we have a few more choices. Finally. Rico’s loss is a huge one but overall the squad should have enough about it to record that elusive home win today. The bookies have us as odds on favourites in a game that they also predict to be a goal fest. So, 0-0 then?

Well, I can advise that my Cousin Charles is coming to the game today. And whilst the stats about his attendance/win ratio probably don’t form part of Matthew Benham’s model, all I’ll say is to lump your money on three points to the Bees. For research purposes.

See you at 3pm.

matchday timings

Cut to the chase – it’s all about what happens at 3pm

Nick Bruzon

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7(seven) and out. Bees keep flying as Blues and Eagles have wings clipped.

1 Oct

It was all about lucky number 7(seven) yesterday. Or not so lucky for some. Brentford finally laid that Middlesbrough hoodoo to rest, Birmingham City came oh-so close to being on the wrong end of a bracketing whilst as for Crystal Palace. Well… With Matthew Benham’s comments on Tuesday night about moaners still fresh in our ears, anybody not overly happy with the Bees may want to look towards Selhurst Park.

But we can only start at the Riverside where the Bees took a first ever Championship point off Middlesbrough after those well documented six, straight losses. Arguably, we could well have returned South with all three. Hats off to the 332 supporters who made the long shlep up to the Riverside. Oh to have had the opportunity to be amongst them. Instead, it was their social media updates, commentary and the Sky Sports scrolly thing for those all important goal scores.

What can you say? Wow. 2-2 and genuine disappointment not to have got the win seem to be the order of the day. Chris Mepham followed up his midweek appearance with a full 90 minutes alongside opening goal scorer Yoann Barbet. The common consensus was of another rock solid performance and a potential star in the making. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough (or whatever the phrase is). What could have been a baptism of fire has shown once more the talent pool bubbling away under the surface of the B-team. Get it wrong as we did against Norwich in the cup, and overloading a team with newbies can be a disaster. Do it right and we get a wonderful glimpse of the future.

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A full league debut to remember for Chris

Twice Brentford took the lead. Twice Middlesbrough hauled it back to level things up. Ollie Watkins scored again, aswell as setting up the first. Yoann, Chris and captain (for the last quarter) Daniel Bentley were amongst those to later express their disappointment at not quite hanging on for the win. Perhaps, but just getting the psychological monkey of unbeatable Middlesbrough off the back can only be a wonderful thing. Putting in another performance that sees us creeping up the table with five points out of the last nine can only be a huge stride in the right direction for this season.

As ever, Sky Sports have the immediate highlights and you can catch them here. As ever, Mark Burridge will provide a much better flavour once the mid-day embargo is lifted.

Sadly, no comms but plenty of passion on pitch.

So great chances, great creation and more penalties denied. We certainly don’t get the run with the refs. Talking this morning to one terrace wag who had made the trip she noted, “I thought they looked better yesterday in terms of intention and actual likelihood to score. Rather than chances that aren’t chances.

The real challenge now is turning these performances into wins. There can’t be many amongst us who wouldn’t have taken five points if offered them at 2.59 last Saturday before we kicked off against Bolton. I would have. That win, followed by the draw with Derby and yesterday’s result all well and good. The one word of caution being that the Bees are very much the divisional draw specialists . Only Fulham and Bristol City (5) come close to our 6 from 11. Even looking further afield in the Football league we are still top of the draw table.

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Yoann – thought we should have got more

Next up, International break. Hopefully a chance for Andreas, Sergi and Lasse to get back to fitness. A hope that the injury which saw Rico Henry leave the field of play early isn’t as bad as feared. Whilst Josh Clarke filled in ably at left back, Tom Field is now tied in at Bradford until Christmas. Could we be dipping back into that B-team once more?

And then, back to back home games. Visits from Millwall and Sunderland are, on paper, a chance for Brentford to further continue that climb up the table. Of locking down that Championship status for a fifth season. For all our improving form we are still just a point above Birmingham City who still reside in the basement zone. Turning form and performance into clear air will only be a good thing.

As for Birmingham, well we’ve had a bit more of an interest in them than normal on these pages in recent weeks. For obvious reasons. And yesterday saw their brave new world further hit the skids as Hull City put six goals past the hapless Blues defence. I won’t deny bristling with anticipation as, at 6-0 down, another goal was reported for the KC stadium. Sadly, it wasn’t the bracket busting 7(seven) for Hull but, instead, a proverbial consolation. But it does show what a difference GD could make with the Blues (-12) Burton (-17) and Bolton (-18) effectively another point behind the Bees (-2).

Will the Bees compete at this level for a fifth season? Could Birmingham avoid a slide into League One. Will Crystal Palace be joining us in the Championship next campaign? Should the Bees keep on heading up the table then we are likely to be joined by the Eagles. Despite a change of manager, yesterday’s 4-0 loss at Manchester United sees their Premier League record for the 2017/18 campaign read:

P7 W0 D0 L7 Goals For 0 Goals Against 17 GD -17.

A record of 0-0-7(seven) with no goals scored is the stuff of nightmares. And James Bond puns. Next up, a visit from Chelsea. Should the Eagles mange to make the net ripple, I can only assume it will be very much a Victor Tourjansky moment.

However bad Brentford fans think we may have it at times, there’s always somebody worse off.

And then some…

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And Palace have scored…. Victor Tourjansky does his thing

Nick Bruzon

Who will win the Championship? Who will go down? What about the Bees? Who has the best new kit?

3 Aug

Almost there, Brentford fans. It’s Thursday morning. The Championship kicks off tomorrow evening before The Bees travel to Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon. But with three top ten finishes under our belts, is it now the time to look at stepping up? Or should we remain content just to swim in the same waters as Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and all those other famous names? To stay safe. To look at holding station until such time as Lionel Road is ready for us to move in to?

Yesterday’s column on Jota and not ‘Jota’ ended with several questions of this nature. The predominant one being, what are your hopes for the forthcoming season? Well for what it’s worth, here’s my take on how the Championship is going to pan out.

Starting with Brentford, the summer has been an exciting one. On the transfer front it has been one way traffic inward with, to date, nobody leaving bar The Hoff. Even KK and Jack Bonham have only gone out on loan. There has been no Jota to West Ham. No Ryan Woods to Sunderland. No Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday. No Rico Henry to Hull City. No Romanine Sawyers to Southend United (and apologies – but that one really did appear) . So far…

Instead we have bought what would seem to be incredibly astutely. The EFL young player of the year in Ollie Watkins and South African international Kamo Mokotjo are the two names immediately grabbing our attention. The former because of the potential and our beating off a host of other clubs to his signature. These include a Nottingham Forest side who let Britt Assombalonga go to Middlesbrough and are now relying on veteran striker Daryl Murphy. Prolific in his day although never forget ‘that’ miss.

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

And Murphy must score. Erm….

Kamo is getting Bees fans excited simply due to the fact of how skillful and how comfortable he already looks. Translating pre-season into real life form will be another thing, but the early signs are wonderfully positive. We seem to have genuine competition in pretty much every position. Just the amount of different stories that have appeared about our players over the summer show how strong our squad has become.

Of course, let’s not rest on our laurels here. The season may begin this weekend but that godforsaken transfer window still remains open until August 31. As we’ve seen in the past, players can come and go well after the campaign has begun. Andre Gray being a most recent example where, despite his two goals in two games at the beginning of the Marinus era, the inevitable sale to Burnley went through straight after.

Yet, at the same time, the current signs are positive. Fingers crossed it can stay that way. If Matthew Benham can juggle the finances to keep this squad together then we have the potential to be amongst the best in the league.

Little Brentford punching above their weight”. Not my words but those of just about every pundit outside of TW8 in recent times.

B*llocks” . They’re my words.

The last three years we’ve done what we have on merit. Reaching the play-offs for the Premier League in our first Championship season may have caught a few people unawares but it was fully deserved on our play. Coming out the other side of the Marinus experiment to end ninth, equally justified – despite that post Christmas wobble.

But for a ropey patch in the autumn last time around we could well have pushed on then. The football in the second half of the season, freed from the understandable obligation to play everything through Scott Hogan and reinvigorated by the returning Spanish duo of Jota and Sergi, was simply breathtaking.

We destroyed Aston Villa at Griffin Park. Absolutely destroyed them. You could say the same for the home games with Derby County. With Leeds United. With QPR, for whom Jake Bidwell probably has ongoing nightmares. Police still involved in that one (not literally), after reports of Jota picking his pocket more than once.

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‘Official’ love him, too

I don’t buy any of this small club nonsense. I fully know our history and have been coming to Griffin Park since 1979. Absolutely, it is a privilege to play at the level given some of the low points we’ve been through. But that doesn’t mean we should be showing any defference, any OTT respect, any form of “we’re just happy to be here’ humility. Just as nobody has a divine right to ‘be any good’ (see: Arsenal), equally just because you have humble origins you shouldn’t go into it expecting bad things to happen. Have some confidence in our ability. Our perceived size is an advantage. It is an advantage we should play up to.

We’ve taken so many teams and pundits by surprise already. I’m convinced it will happen again. My call for the Bees was initially 6th at the start of the summer. In recent weeks I’ve revised that to fifth. I’m sticking to that and nailing my colours to the mast here. Brentford to finish fifth.

Optimistic? Stupid? Naive? Whichever – I’m here to have fun this season and am only looking upwards.

Casting the net further afield, it is not a view shared by other sources. Middlesbrough and Aston Villa remain favourites to win the league. The former, I can fully understand. They’ve only ever been a force at this level (move along, nothing to see here….) whilst boosted by both the goals of Assombalonga and the parachute payments from the Premier League will be exceptionally strong . I’m agreeing with the experts on this one.

Villa though? No. No. No. I can’t see them finishing in the top six. The were horrific last season. Only good for betting on 1-1 scorelines, <2.5 goals and away L. The hype around John Terry surely more distraction than yardstick of genuine aspiration. I find it inconceivable that Steve Bruce will have turned things around this much over the summer. Stranger things have happened, of course, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Instead, Sheffield Wednesday are the team that will finally come good and take the second spot. Celebrating their 150th year with some cracking new kits, to boot (in my opinion, and not including our own, the best shirts in the Championship ) they’ll go up after knocking on the door for so long. Joining Brentford in the play-offs will be Norwich City, Fulham and Leeds United. Pick your order for these three. Much as I’m loathe to admit it, the Cottagers played some wonderful football last season. Their stadium may well be a hotbed of neutrality but, on the field, they showed they can more than do their stuff these days.

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Sheffield Wednesday to play as good as they’ll look?

Bottom three. Millwall, Ipswich Town and QPR for me. The former just too out of their depth whilst the Tractor Boys and not so super hoops have only gone backwards. With no real inward investment and a team that has only stagnated, those days of top flight football are a long, long way away.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. What do I know? Not much. I’ll happily hold up my hands when this all gets proven wrong, One man’s opinion is another’s comedy.

Club sponsor LeoVegas has us ranked joint 11th to win the league at 25/1. Do they know something we don’t?

Likewise FourFourTwo magazine have just published their season preview. Available now from all good newsagents, they call Brentford to finish 10th. Don’t let that or the fact that yours truly wrote the piece on The Bees (Klanggggggg; the sound of a name being dropped) put you off, though. It’s actually a great read.

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Season preview edition now available

The other follow up we need to do from yesterday is in regards to Jota. Or, specifically ‘Jota’. Of Wolves. You may recall that the EFL have told Wolves that he needs to have his real surname, Silva, on his shirt rather than what they deem to be his nickname.

All well and good, although my own subsequent thought was what this might mean for us? Should we even be able to hang on to him, of course. An awkward look in the other direction being the immediate reaction.

However,Twitter user Ben (@BenPlumb97) has put the question out there in cyberspace. Thankfully, the legend that is Kitman Bob has stepped up to answer.

And relax 🙂

Bob Tweet re Jota

Nick Bruzon

Mamma Mia, here we go again. Brentford score big but who are this season’s dark horses?

1 Aug

With the Championship season almost upon us, it would be fair to say that anticipation is rising. Nowhere moreso than at Griffin Park where last night young Brentford fans were given the chance to meet their heroes at the now traditional summer ‘open day’. Sky Sports have launched their own season preview (remember the one Ian Holloway did last time out?) where along with the standard installation of Middlesbrough and Aston Villas as favourites, there’s no surprise for Bees fans. And the EFL have announced a shake up to penalty shoot outs that will have local journalists and bad bloggers in pun heaven.

First up, last night at Griffin Park. What can you say? It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our players are. I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again. What for them could have been a tedious contractual obligation became a wonderful hour and a half (if not longer) for all those young fans lining up to get a peak behind the scenes and a photo with the stars. Not to mention an autograph or two.

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They were all, without question, wonderful. We got along quite late in the day yet the enthusiasm of the squad was infectious. Whatever Dean Smith and his staff are doing for squad morale is just incredible. What a brilliant group of players who went out of their way to welcome young supporters who might have been bit nervous / awestruck. (and that was just dad, although perhaps not so much of the young).

The entire squad was pretty much all there. Even new dad Maxime Colin, who one could have understandably expected to be on paternity leave. I don’t want to overly single anybody out although big thanks to Harlee, Lewis and Jota for their help with the picture. Hitting peak tiredness, somebody went very shy before composing himself after some enthusiastic words from his heroes.

Would you get this at another Championship team? Would the players be so welcoming? Would the club be so relaxed and open ? Would the club make such a great effort for their fans?  There was nothing corporate about this, it was just beautifully arranged. It was just Brentford. THANK YOU.

HB, Harlee, Lewis, Jota

Sky Sports. We all know what happened this time last season. Pundit Ian Holloway wrote his pre-season review in which he tipped the Bees for a poor season and relegation to League One. The rest is history.

Fast forward twelve months and whilst not the QPR boss with pen in hand, the TV company have published this year’s version. Divided into four categories of : Title contenders, Play-off hopefuls, Dark horses and Potential strugglers it looks at the so-called runners and riders in each category. So where do Brentford fit in?

The answer is a simple one. Nowhere. Not surprisingly they have Middlesbrough as favourites (I’d agree) along with Aston Villa – whom everybody is backing. I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t get it. They were awful last season. Is a geriatric defender going transform them? Bring on Jota to run at him – Jake Bidwell, round 2.

But that aside, where are The Bees? Quite simply we don’t even warrant a passing mention.

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Whilst I’m tipping us for fifth, I can sympathise with their reticence to perhaps label us play-off contenders. But for a team that have had three top ten finishes over our Championship life (including that play-off with Middlesbrough) and have bought exceptionally over the summer to not even be deemed a ‘dark horse’ is odd.

Then again, if you do want to see Brentford as a dark horse Rod Liddle in The Times has us marked up. Or should that be down? He has us as relegation candidates and scoops this year’s Ian Holloway award.

DGAyAwnXkAExLJv

Look – I love all this. Three full seasons in and still nobody fancies us. Nobody gives us a hope. We are the stealth bombers of the Championship. Flying very much undetected, under the radar and all the way to the top. Keep on ignoring us – even the TV channels don’t give us a look in over August and September – and that’s just fine by me. If we can say the same to the end of the transfer window then all the better.

Finally, penalty kicks. You may have seen this yesterday but the EFL have announced they are switching the traditional shoot out to the ABBA system for the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy (should anybody be watching) and play-offs. Effectively, the shoot out will be contested like a tennis tie-break where after the first team starts, teams then get two consecutive kicks each and then continues as such until we have a winner.

The blurb on the EFL site tells us that “The trial of the new system is being backed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in response to a hypothesis that the player taking the second kick is under greater mental pressure in the current format. Therefore, a different order of kickers will be trialled in an experiment to reduce any apparent advantage the team taking the first kick may have”.

Regular or ABBA. It’s still nerve wracking and exciting in equal measure. Although with the League cup starting next week, this doesn’t give huge amounts of time to prepare. Personally, I’m more interested in the pun potential off the back of this. Which manager will be sending out an SOS? Who will meet his Waterloo? At the end of the day (Clive), the winner takes it all.

Whatever your thoughts on the new system, I can see those headlines being crowbarred in already. Answers on a postcard to the Middlesex Chronicle, marked ‘pun’.

Then again, the only way this could have been bettered is rather than ABBA, the EFL had gone for Diana Ross on the penalty front…..

Nick Bruzon

A new look – in more ways than one. But do you like it?

10 May

Boom. No sooner has the regular season ended than out of nowhere Brentford have launched a new club website whilst our new crest has also began to appear all over cyber space. And, although slightly delayed (this nonsense can’t write itself every day) we now know another opponent for next season as Middlesbrough make a swift return to the Championship following the briefest of sojourns in football’s top flight.

First up, the website. There was no real build up but visitors to what is now brentfordfc.com on Tuesday morning were greeted with a new look. And what a relief. What a blessed relief. Gone is that awful, awful cluttered template look. Gone is the almost random way articles were thrown together on screen. Gone is that stream of outdated and long defunct ‘news’ that we’d get on the right hand side of the screen.

The previous incumbent was awful. I make no apologies for saying this and it was something that had been noted on these pages previously. Equally, it wasn’t one of the club’s direct making. Look around the websites of other EFL clubs and you’d see the vast majority with the same, restrictive template. Even the ability to write in paragraphs was an enhancement that only came about this season.

First impressions of the replacement are nothing but positive. What a great decision by the club to look at breaking the mould and what a great job, certainly on first impressions, to those responsible for putting this together. For a non-techy like yours truly, it was simple to use, intuitive and I loved the fact that there’s even a tab for our fan groups on there (most of whom will grant you access !).

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Early visitors to ‘new look official’ got a treat – our important fan groups being represented.

Nice one Brentford. I can’t wait to see how it looks once we get back into a season ‘proper’.

Next up, the crest. We’ve made no secret on these pages of loving the castle and not being the biggest fans of her replacement – the cluttered, clipart that until the weekend has been the public image of BrentfordFC for over 20 years. To me, it was always the graphical equivalent of  Murray Jones replacing Dean Holdsworth. Equally, I’m not so naive as to ignore the fact that it remained hugely popular amongst a large section of out fan base who view the crest’s passing with some sadness.

But whether you loved it or loathed it, the crest is dead. Long live the crest. The new look Bee began to take pride of place on the website and Twitter from yesterday, with the promise of a club wide rebrand to follow. For me, the is nothing but good news.

On a personal note, there was no secret of my approval for the new version when it was revealed earlier on the season. It is an opinion that I most definitely stick with now we’ve had time to acclimatise. Stylish, smart and displaying a modern take on a former classic, this really is a good look.

Looking around the internet yesterday I saw those interminable muttering about the legs and the ‘wasp’  factor being mentioned once more. It is so clearly a bumble bee as to be almost unrecognisable as anything else. Likewise, it is possible for a Bee to only have four of the six legs on display at any one time. And if we’re really going to split hairs, just look at the crest that has just shuffled off this sartorial coil. Examine the legs on view and count them. One, two, three, four, fi..no. That’s it. The same four as we have once more.

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The new crest is now live (and a bee, for comparison)

Look I don’t want to dwell on that anymore. Our new crest is, in my opinion, worthy of a big thumbs up. It isn’t the Castle (what is, though?) but it is now the look of our club. The next big question being just what it is going to look like on a shirt. Kitman Bob, any clues here?

And finally, Middlesbrough. As suspected by many, they’ve bounced straight back to the Championship after a solitary season in the Premier League. Which is awful for them and potentially worse for us. Nobody needs any reminder of our record since the return to this level of football. Played 6 Lost 6.

That was then; this is now. Four of these six were in our first season and included that play-off semi final loss where we came so close to an incredible end to the campaign. Then again, do we do play-offs any other way?

I think both Middlesbrough and Brentford will find each other very different opponents next time out. Our own set up has undergone a huge overhaul and the starting XI is probably now our strongest in years. Certainly when the players hit their stride. As for Boro’, they’ll have had the wind taken out of their sails somewhat and will no doubt have their own rebuilding exercise to undergo.

Will they be a Newcastle united or an Aston Villa? We saw vastly different responses to Premier League relegation from those two fallen giants this campaign. Newcastle bouncing back in style; Villa finding the Championship a much tougher division than could have been anticipated. Whilst the Magpies ended it as champions,  the Villans finished the campaign below the Bees in the final table.

Whilst the suspicion is that Boro’ will use their experience and set up to be nearer the business end of the table, they’ll no longer be that big fish they once were. Neither will Brentford be the perceived minnow.

I can’t wait for the chance to do battle once more and look at getting that first win under our belts. Until then, it simply remains to say, RIP to the previous crest.

Now bring on our new look….

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Nick Bruzon

Double goal 7(seven). You couldn’t have made that finish up.

8 May

9th. We’ve finished 9th !!  Brentford continued their stunning run to the denouement of season 2015/16 with a 5-1 humbling of Huddersfield Town. In a quite bonkers afternoon that saw Middlesbrough promoted (sorry Brighton fans, genuinely, but ‘manager of the month’ rarely lies) and Burnley crowned as Champions amidst bizarre scene at Charlton, Scott Hogan took his strike rate to something that must be approaching an average of 5 goals a game whilst Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos bid a very fond farewell.

Where do you start from the Huddersfield game, though? For a season that saw Brentford involved in what Dean Smith agreed was a relegation scrap as recently as 19 March, things have taken a turn for the surreal. We’ve scored 24 goals and won 7(seven) out of the last 10 games. Formwise, that puts only Brighton above us. Five more of the goals total coming yesterday to make it 9 for the season against The Terriers alone.

We don’t, generally, do match reports on these pages. The highlights are already doing the rounds and , if you haven’t seen them yet, do take the time to catch up with these. The quality of every goal – from Sergi Canos grabbing the opener on just 21 seconds  – to substitute John Swift blasting the fifth home as we approached full time is to be admired. Lasse Vibe shot home from the edge of the box after a delightful ball from Canos whilst man of the moment Scott Hogan grabbed another two.

Having spent muchh of the last 18 months with his leg in a brace (I’d imagine) how brilliant to see him now grabbing one on pitch. A brace, that is. The opening 64 minutes was the longest we’ve seen Scott in action since the oh-so gradual and carefully managed return from that sickening injury. Having lasted 45 minutes in the previous game (the 3-0 over Fulham) making it as far as the hour allowed Hogan to get the goals which took his total to 7(seven) for the season. Not a bad return !

Sergio Canos also made it 7(seven) for the campaign in what was, barring some form of transfer coup over the summer, his final appearance for the Bees. Surely he will only be Liverpool bound when the next campaign kicks off in August ? Certainly, his twitter feed suggested that this would be the case.

Sergi sign off

If this transpires to be the case then we can all, truly, say we’ve had the pleasure of watching a prodigious talent emerge. I’d love to see Sergi back next time around and, whilst stranger things have happened, can only imagine a place at Anfield will be calling.

His mood was one shared by all the players on social media. After what must have been some horrendous pressure at various points this campaign and some harsh, albeit warranted at times, criticism of the set up the flip side is that when they have been let off the leash it has been an absolute joy to watch.

Rasmus nailed it in the recent video when he noted that a team wins three in a row and you think they’ll never lose again. Certainly, that’s how it has felt.

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Lasse wins at Twitter as the squad end in high spirits

Injury has forced a rejig in the midfield with Josh McEachran and John Swift undergoing an enforced rest. Nico has stepped up in style whilst Scott has made his well documented return. KK and Gogia have started to show what ‘the model’ (please note: traditional recruiting is also involved) has suggested whilst even an experienced pro like Sam Saunders has pushed onwards and upwards. With this has come the results.

The only slight disappointment was on Bees Player where the assertion was made of Dean Smith supposedly berating Scott Hogan for not going down in the box but, rather, staying on his feet, with the Bees 1-0 up. I’m all for winning games but I’d much rather we did it by fair means. Let’s hope this was simply a misinterpretation of the conversation rather than a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc

That said, we won. Handsomely. We’ve finished the season in 9th place which would be an incredible achievement in its own right. Let alone when you factor in the challenges of FFP enforced sales, The Marinus experiment, pitchgate and that quite dreadful start to 2016. I stand by what I said about these things at the time but, equally, who isn’t thrilled at how Brentford have emerged from all of this?

For the record, Fulham and QPR also both recorded  final game victories. As such, although we ended the season as the top side in London outside the Premier League, the lead over our West London rivals remained at a ‘mere’ 14 and 5 points respectively.

wpid-mind-the-gap-2014-06-23-08-03

QPR and Fulham could only watch the red and white express

Are we the finished article? No. But I’m not alone in feeling tremendously positive going into the summer break. Given the low points of the season have ben particularly painful, to end it on such a high has left all around Griffin Park with a huge buzz. Who knows just what a fully match fit Scott Hogan will do whilst we have the added advantage of finally saying goodbye to Middlesbrough.

Whether you believe in bogey teams or not (and for somebody who swears by ‘lucky pants’ and the ‘motm curse’, to criticise would be somewhat hypocritical) nobody can deny that in 4 league and 2 play-off encounters since our return to the Championship, Brentford’s record with Boro’ reads:  P: 6  W: 0  D: 0  L: 6 .

For now, it’s time to catch our breath once more. Hey, when we went up to the Championship on that famous day against Preston,  if you’d have been offered 5th and 9th from our first two seasons there wouldn’t have been anybody amongst us who wouldn’t have bitten the hand off to secure that.

I love seeing the Bees do well. I thought that last season was not the “punching above our weight” that so many people claimed but, actually, a wonderful triumph of ability and team spirit based around the infectious warmth of Mark Warburton. We got where we got on merit.

With that well documented parting of the ways, this season was always going to be a tough one. Moreso given the other issues noted above. I stand by my assertion that we could have handled ourselves better off-field, comms wise, but you live and learn. Hindsight is always wonderful.

Something, perhaps, the owners at Charlton Athletic could learn. Amidst understandable  scenes at The Valley, their supporters showed just what they thought of the people in charge. Even ‘official’ twitter had somewhat of a Freudian slip (or sabotage from within the ranks? ) as their campaign came to a sad climax.

Charlton poison 2

Whatever you’ve thought about our lowest points this season, things could have been an awful lot worse. Still, sad though I am for Charlton, their fate lies elsewhere.

For Brentford, we’ve got watching the play-off finals to look forward to and the final Premier league fixtures to see who joins us next season. There’s the new shirt to be released whilst the promise from Kitman Bob that his BBGiveaway will return.

Oh,and there’s been the small matter of Euro 2016 in the summer. Whilst Alan Judge will be missing, could the presence of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane at yesterday’s game have any additional significance? The local press believe he was checking on Town winger Sean Scannell but with Scott scoring those two goals, could there be a surprise call up in the offing?

I’ll leave that thought here……

However, as a final observation, for me (Clive) Twitter user @MrJamie88 nails it in words and pictures better than most could hope to.

Enjoy.

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Do the body and legs match?

Nick Bruzon

As the Bees prepare for a last hurrah, why Middlesbrough will go up on Saturday..

6 May

What a day tomorrow promises to be. Brentford travel to Huddersfield Town looking to secure 10th (and a possible 9th) place in the Championship table. At the business end, the mythical beast that is the fixture computer has served up a play-off before the play-offs in the Middlesbrough v Brighton ‘winner takes all’. As for yesterday’s Josh McEachran to Chelsea story. Let’s just park that one right here.

First up though, I have to start with the Middlesbrough – Brighton game simply because of what it represents. And I can tell you who’s going to reach the Premier League aswell.

With both teams locked on 88 points, The Seagulls have to win to snatch ‘automatic’. Anything less, with Boro on a superior goal difference, will see Brighton consigned to a play off with Sheffield Wednesday.

Sadly, for Brighton fans, I’ve got Boro’ all over this one. If for no other reason than Chris Hughton has just been named manager of the month for April. No matter how strong the visitors are and what the weight of expectation from the home supporters, we all know how the award works.

Win manager of the month – lose your next game.

It’s a curse as longstanding as Clem featuring ‘your team’ for his prematch feature. Last season saw a mere 7(seven) winners for sides highlighted by the ever popular roving reporter. ‘MotM’ is, for the jinx wary amongst us, no different.

Genuinely, I’d love to see former Bee Chris do it. Realistically, I think ‘that curse’ may strike again.

In a way, whilst proud that Dean Smith was also nominated, at least Chris ‘taking the hit’ has increased our chances slightly. No doubt Huddersfield will want to sign off in style etc etc etc but equally Brentford fans know what another three points means. Already 5 clear of QPR and out of sight from Fulham, this really is a stunning chance to strengthen our stranglehold on the West London mini league.

Hopefully this message has also translated to Dean and the players. Certainly the build up to, and reaction from, last weekend’s 3-0 thumping of the Cottagers suggests this will be the case.

For us, the season is almost over. We’ll look back on it over the next week or so (although I promise that the cliché of an ‘end of term report card‘ is one I’ll leave to others). Instead, for now, here’s hoping the men in black can ‘go again’ one more time.

For those fortunate enough to be able to make the trip, Kitman Bob has suggested on Twitter that the players plan to give their shirts away at the end of the game. I’ve no idea how this will happen although if Sam Saunders is reading, perhaps rather than throw it to the crowd you could just put yours in an envelope addressed to….

In all seriousness, this kit nerd has loved the various giveaways over the season and what a great gesture to say ‘thanks’ to those who have travelled with The Bees this campaign. Good luck to the 400+ able to make the trip tomorrow.

And finally, Josh McEachran to Chelsea?? No. Seriously. I don’t normally talk about rumours but this one was so random it bears reflection. Coming from a source weaker than a watered down bottle of value brand low-sugar ketchup, the Express ran a ‘story’ yesterday saying how Chelsea “hadn’t ruled out re-signing” Josh.

This, in itself, turned out to be a comment on something they’d read in the Evening Standard the night before. Thankfully Tom Moore, West London’s Premier Journalist, was able to speak with Dean Smith where this one was not so much scotched but laughed off in a state of confusion.

Tom’s article quotes Dean as saying: ” I have heard nothing at all about this. Is that to help him with his treatment? I’m not aware of any buyback clause either

Perhaps the Standard/Express had got confused and were assuming John Swift would be returning to Stamford Bridge when his loan expires. That, surely, the most likely outcome when the season draws to a close.

Either way, it just proves once more the old adage about not believing everything you read in the papers. Unless it comes from Beesotted, I’ll generally give such speculation a very wide berth.

And with that out of the way, I can get back to lumping the mortgage on Middlesbrough’s promotion.

What can go wrong?

Sam Saunders black kit

One last look – at the shirt..

Nick Bruzon

Could current form see one of our hopes go South?

16 Feb

Come on Middlesbrough. Last night’s 0-0 draw with Leeds United raises a worrying concern for Brentford fans. Specifically that we might have to play them again next campaign. Whilst Boro’ remain in the top two, their form has hit somewhat of a rough patch with two defeats , three draws and just two goals coming in their last five league games. For a team that has beaten the Bees 6 times in the last two seasons, there is a large section of the Griffin Park faithful that will be more than happy to see them promoted to the Premier League.

Of course, we must remember that most delicious of clichés. Namely that the league is a marathon not a sprint. Believe me, I’d be much happier having the sort of form that Middlesbrough are currently ‘enjoying’ rather than that of the Bees. The point is made more to illustrate how interesting the top of the table has become.

Just three points separate first placed Hull City and Brighton in fourth. Even Sheffield Wednesday, who of course put 4 past Brentford on Saturday, find themselves just two wins off the top as the race for ‘automatic’ has locked up once more.

It’s a lovely problem to have and one that, 12 months ago, we were caught up in. Village-gate had been and gone as, with the season’s low point of ‘Charlton away’ behind us, Brentford prepared to get back to winning ways. Of course, we didn’t quite make it despite a heroic effort in, arguably, the most exciting campaign in living memory. Fifth place saw us consigned to an eighth play-off campaign where the combination of a prospective visit to the ‘W’ place, along with games against Boro’, meant that usual service ensued.

That was then. This is now. Surely Middlesbrough have too much about them to trouble Brentford for a third, successive, season? Presumably recent acquisition and former Bee Jordan Rhodes will be the man to complete their stellar line up rather than the Faustino Asprilla to their Newcastle United? If nothing else, I just can’t see Aitor Karanka having a Keegan style meltdown

Any excuse to show this one.

Still, if Brentford fans think things are ‘bad’ at the moment (trust me, they aren’t), then do take a look at Leeds United. Despite some stunning signings of their own, including Stuart Dallas and the free scoring Toumani Diagouraga, there remains unrest at Elland Road. And not just from Steve Evans trying to find a tracksuit that fits him.

Controversial owner Massimo Cellino seems intent to take on the TV companies whilst fans, who had been promised a buy out, took to projecting images onto the stadium after the Italian went back on his word. The Yorkshire Post (@Yorkshirepost) were amongst those leading with some incredible images before kick off last night.

Leeds

Now THIS is how to make a point

Let’s not pretend all is perfect at Brentford currently. Despite Matthew Benham’s life saving investment over the years, many are frustrated by the subsequent decimation of the team that achieved so much last campaign. Current form sees us sliding down the table whilst Dean Smith can’t buy a win (or a goal) at the minute.

But like Middlesbrough, I’m sure this is just a short term thing. We’ve come too far to throw it all away and I’m convinced the rebuilding operation we’ve put ourselves on (team, rather than stadium) will continue over the summer. Like it or not, Brentford are on a path of consolidation now. Last year’s team are nothing more than a warm and fuzzy glow who will rank alongside the heroes of yesteryear.

Instead, let’s just hope that Phil and Rasmus know what they are doing when it comes to any summer recruitment. Barring a miracle / disaster, we’re going to have two London derbies to look forward too along with another chance to take on a Leeds United side who haven’t beaten Brentford in our last 6 encounters.

As for Boro’, perhaps its best all round if they just exit the Championship and do what a club of their size should, conceivably, have done last time out. Good luck in the top flight !

Until then, we’ve got a game against Derby County coming up. All being well, a run out against another play off contender will be just what the doctor ordered to fire us back to winning ways.

Princess Royal Middlesbrough

Never again will still be too soon

Nick Bruzon

What’s the talk about ‘Terrace Talk’ and Lloyd?

14 Jan

Burnley visit Brentford tomorrow and the Bees will, no doubt, be looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s defeat to Middlesbrough. Despite playing fantastically at times, that goal just wouldn’t come and, as such, we played the ultimate price. You know what happened by now though.

Instead, to coin that most jarring of phrases, “We go again” . Whilst ordinarily I’d suggest you file that one next to: “every little helps” (bad grammar that doesn’t actually mean anything), “expresso” (the word is espresso – is it that hard to pronounce the letter ‘s’ ?) and “You support Brentwood. In Essex?” as things to get under my skin, I’m kind of desperate for that to happen this time around.

All the plaudits in the world for nice approach play and some cracking chances don’t disguise the fact we lost. Albeit to the League leaders. But there was still plenty in there to inspire and give cause for optimism that we can go one better against Burnley in front of the TV cameras on Friday. And I can’t wait for that chance to come.

The other thing to emerge from Tuesday night’s game, and a subject we’ve not discussed as yet in this column, is the latest ‘Terrace Talk’ video. In a feature that seems somewhat familiar to those that Beesotted have being doing for years, the club have now jumped on the ‘fan interview’ bandwagon.

Hosted by matchday programme contributor Jo Tiley, the initial criticisms are obvious and I feel somewhat like a cat toying with a spider saying anything nasty on this one. It has been accused of being a blatant rip off of a fan produced feature introduced by a presenter who seemed to suffer from volume issues at first (the microphone is what helps us hear, there’s really no need to shout).

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Jo Tiley presents the latest edition of Terrace Talk

Yet.Yet.Yet… I love it. It shouldn’t work given the high profile comparison yet somehow it does and is fast becoming cult viewing. The interviews feature a good cross section of guests – both fans and club figures. Vice-chairman Donald Kerr appears alongside supporter John Hirdle, amongst others, in this latest issue whilst I’m sure I saw Buzzette’s minder in the post Walsall edition.

Jo has definitely refined her presenting technique, too, and even managed to root out an Arsenal fan (who was apparently hospitalised with frost bite) in this one. I’m very much looking to see her do battle with the Sky team on Friday. Come on Jo ! Why not even see if you can rope one of their team in for a chat?

Hey, with Lloyd Owusu deservedly being welcomed into the hall of fame (and more on this tomorrow), he’d be a cracking guest to bag. Or even how about that as a subject of discussion?

Which player do supporters think should be entered into this elite group ?

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Lloyd Owusu – back at Griffin Park this Friday

At the end of the day, Clive, a good idea is going to see similar ones follow suit. Coke and Pepsi; Grandstand and World of Sport. The Last Word and, erm… well, you get my drift.

Terrace talk may come over as the club take on Beesotted, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a crack aswell.

Keep up the good work, Jo. Here’s to the next edition.

terrace talk – the latest edition

Nick Bruzon