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One Flying Ant does not make Flying Ant Day. Can we deliver another kick up the Arsenal?

21 Aug

Arsenal despatched. Victory for Brentford over the hapless Gunners was only last week yet already it seems a lifetime ago. Eight days later and now we have the chance to do it all again. This time, a much stiffer challenge in the road trip to Crystal Palace. A short hop to Selhurst Park and the question of whether the Bees can recapture that spot at the top of the Premier League which was held for a tantalisingly brief period at the start of the weekend. Hey, the table doesn’t lie and it was enough to see Thomas Frank secure the League Managers Association award for performance of the week. Yet with Liverpool hosting Burnley at 12.30pm, we could find ourselves going in to this one 3 points off the top (a situation which would also see number 26 and his team rooted to the foot of the table).

Award winning

Look. We’ve done the Arsenal game to death. They were about as uncohesive a unit as one could ever see. An impotent shadow of their former selves. A team in big trouble with Chelsea and Manchester City up next. That’s their problem though. You can only beat who is in front of you and Brentford were magnificent. Calm. Confident. Dangerous. Clinicial.

Sergi’s goal a stunner. Oh, the smile that lit up Lionel Road as that one was celebrated. Absolutely priceless. How much egg on how many faces? Christian Norgaard doubling the lead as an Arsenal defence which would have struggled to mop up the floor, let alone a ball into the box, stepped aside to let him through. It could have been more. Frankly, who cares. The win was all that matters.

Yet as the old saying goes, one flying ant does not make flying ant day.  Brentford? Check. Slough? Check. Boston Manor? Check. At least three seperate sightings before you can be happy we’ve reached the most celebrated day in the Heaxapodal calendar. Before we can get too carried away. Everything from last week has now been and gone. Fun though it was.

Instead, we have the memories and confidence to push us on against Crystal Palace in the search for that second win. In the battle to oust Liverpool from the place at the top of the Premier League which they will presumably be occupying when we begin our own game.  

Oh, and that award for Thomas. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if somebody was trolling Leeds United by presenting him with a mini-whiteboard but a trawl back through the archives shows this is their standard. Fair enough. Let’s just hope that there isn’t a ‘Curse of the LMA performance of the week award’.

Thomas Frank’s whiteboard was the gift that kept on giving.

Thankfully, there are no new injuries and the squad remains as it is, albeit with the possibility that Tariqe Fosu may return. Prepare for incoming floods from certain quarters. The BBC report that Palace will again be without captain Luka Milivojevic but, regardless, one can only assume they will be chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. The thankless task of a trip to Stamford Bridge to open proceedings hardly an ideal one for new manager Patrick Vieira. Chelsea considered real contenders for the title by many respected pundits. And also Ian Moose. Now they will be back amidst what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Selhurst Park. 

Whilst the result is, as ever, impossible to predict we can at least rest easy in the fact that the Bees faithful will do what Arsenal failed at so miserably. Namely, making some/any noise. The home support sure to be given a run for their money by the 2000 or so from West London.

I can’t wait to get back on the road. I’ve not seen Brentford away since Luton Town in the sleet back in February 2020. About as soul destroying a defeat as could be imagined and one which ended with the ultimate indignity of Jan Zamburek’s shirt being stolen from the dressing room and ending up on ebay. Apparently. Just a few weeks later, Lockdown restrictions started to kick in and we’ve not travelled since. At least, until Wembley. Remind me what happened…..

Roll on 3pm. See you there.

Last Friday was immense. Now, time to move on…

Nick Bruzon

Still under the radar ? Time for a last first.

19 Aug

Almost a week later, there aren’t enough words to describe just how incredible that first week of Premier League football felt. Brentford magnificent. Arsenal awful. Manchester United party poopers. Crystal Palace, like Leeds, ceremonial lambs to the slaughter lining up away to genuine title contenders. Then again, such is the vibe at Lionel Road you could say the same about Arsenal. Nobody has a positive word to say about a performance that saw them out played, out thought and out muscled by Thomas Frank’s rampant swarm of Bees. Their supporters taking the library on the road as the vociferous home crowd ripped the roof off the Brentford Community Stadium and took us, however, briefly, to the top of the table.

Ok, so Manchester United destroyed that dream in little over 12 hours but what a feeling to wake up to on Saturday morning. There we were as headline makers in all the papers. Brentford at the top of the table with as many pictures of Woody as there were of goal scorers Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard. It was quite the surreal way to end the most spine-tingling day and night. For once, this bus stop in Hounslow the very epicentre of the global football world. And then Leeds United forgot to pack their defence. Or, rather, the Red Devils went on the sort of hot streak that does beg the question about what could happen to us at some point this season. You can’t win them all, that’s for sure.

Headlines and heroes on Saturday morning

You can be damn sure we’ll be giving it out best at the weekend though. Brentford’s second top flight fixture sees the short trip to South East London. Crystal Palace licking their wounds after being mauled by Chelsea. New boss Patrick Viera mad keen to start his first home game with a win. The Bees faithful just wishing kick off was right now, such is the good feeling around TW8. Such is the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding just about anything to do with the club. How Thomas Frank gets the balance between over confidence, getting carried away and just playing our free flowing football will be one of the key tactical cards to be played. Sergi and Bryan were rampant on Friday. Ivan everywhere. See also: Vitaly. Ethan Pinnock a rock at the back when called upon. Even David Raya had his wits about him despite Arsenal being so second best that he had nothing much to do for the opening 85 minutes. Had he failed to pull of that save it would have been itchy bum time for sure. But he did, quite wonderfully, and it wasn’t. Instead, tears of joy and a well, well deserved win.

Now, though, time to move on. Crystal Palace await and tickets are in hand. Mostly. Errr… The away stand is sold out and it promises to be as raucous as Friday night. If not moreso given the opposition are sure to make some noise too. Their ground as compact as Griffin Park once was. We had a pub in every corner. The Eagles have a supermarket at one end. All four stands bang on top of the pitch, unlike the behemoth running tracks and wide perimeters found at so many newer stadia. Albeit, the Selhurst Park capacity is double that of our former home. Its going to be tasty, that’s for sure.

most tickets have been posted out

The ‘my work’ derby, a reference so niche only about three people will get it (one of whom is me) is almost upon us. For the rest of us, its quite simply Brentford’s first ever away game in the Premier League.

Granted, these ‘first ever’ references will need to stop soon or we’ll be entering West Ham territory. The 1966 World Cup winners saw just about anything to do with their being gifted the Olympic Stadium deemed: first ever insert missing words  at their new home: game lost. half and half scarf worn. Season ticket holder arriving to find their seat didn’t exist.

See also: last ever  insert missing words at the Boleyn Ground as the media love in with Upton Park reached as sickening an over saturation point as repeats of Mrs. Brown’s Boys: away coach attacked. Bubble blown.  So bad its amazing film made  (being Final Score, of course).

Instead, let’s just focus on the game in hand. We’ve done the first / new thing. Now its time to keep on doing our well worn ‘under the radar’ act. Certainly, neither Arsenal or the pundits knew quite what to expect. Here’s hoping the same applies at Crystal Palace on Saturday. 

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

Have the Bees finally emerged from under the radar?

Nick Bruzon

A wonderful weekend gets even better as Friday fallout continues.

15 Aug

You don’t want to get into The Champions League, Brentford. Frank Out. Sack the board. Where’s the money, Benham? Thursday nights, Channel Five. Sadly, the Bees no longer sit at the top of the Premier League after Manchester United went on the rampage at Old Trafford yesterday lunchtime. Leeds United shipping five in a game that, as much as anything else, was a Fantasy Football nightmare with yours truly the only one in our house who hadn’t made three goal Bruno Fernandes their team captain. Hefty wins for Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton also seeing us overtaken and having, for now, to be content with fifth place in the table. It was a set of results that even saw Arsenal nudge clear of the relegation zone. For now. Their own next couple of fixtures are what one could politely call ‘challenging’.

Sunday morning. The head still spinning although this from impromptu Saturday afternoon barbecues rather than still celebrating Brentford beating Arsenal. Even though we were doing that too. The shopping trip that had to be undertaken prior to that one punctuated by shrewd acquisitions. The Times – packed full of top, top quality Brentford content – and the much anticipated long player from The Helicopter Of The hill Ghost. BBC Billy Reeves and Mark Morris from The Bluetones, amongst others, combing to produce this critically acclaimed slab of vinyl.

For once, even shopping was fun…

It was whilst mooching around Eel Pie Records in search of the aforementioned record that the Whataspp group swung into action. “Well that was fun while it lasted”. Sure enough, a quick check on the BBC and Manchester United were running riot. The Fernandes inspired goal difference swing seeing the Red Devils leapfrog the Bees in the nascent table and cause much amusement from H and Mrs. B. Oh well. That’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace and they’re going to leave me rooted to the bottom of the table once more. Much like Arsenal on Friday night. Not even pointing out the Brentford appropriate chemists on the high street enough to cause sufficient distraction.

Wasn’t he on the bench, Friday night?

Nooo. We’re third in the league.” Not my words, those of Harry as Mo Salah made it three for Liverpool in the Match Of The Day rerun. Cripes, if he’s upset now it could be trouble when Manchester City play this afternoon. Still, at least we’re sitting in the Europa League slots and the trip to Crystal Palace presents the next opportunity to reclaim top spot in the Premier League. The Eagles taking a tonking from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. About the only positive they could take was the 1980’s Meyba branded Barcelona kit they have chosen to emulate for their change colours. A thing of beauty and perhaps some consolation for being unable to resist the goal hungry Blues? Probably not but things could be worse. Just look at Arsenal.

Sergi Canos and the rest of the Brentford team have been responsible for diplomatic incident, upsetting none less than the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who took to Twitter following our 2-0 victory. 

What?? It’s football,it’s a loss of Arsenal at/to Brentford. Brentford deserved to win and they did. The game itself aside Arsenal and the fans don’t deserve to kind of get used to this….NO !!! I say this as one of the big fans of Arsenal. The change has taken to long to come!

He continued in this vein, closing with a flourish that saw The President channelling his inner Piers Morgan:

We just must NOT excuse or Accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win win win. So that when we lose….it was not to be expected! I am sure we all know on whose shoulders the heaviest burden rests. I hope they know too or even accept it!!! End.

The next Ambassadorial reception could be fun. Still, even Paul and Piers combined haven’t managed to match the levels of sour grapes from this visiting supporter. It could be a best ever ‘Teams like Brentford.’

Where to even start? Beyond crying with laughter. My favourite line, of many many wonderful cuts, being:

I imagine they will hope to draw in a new fan base from the thousands of new build flats rising in and around the area. A bunch of key workers who fancy a day out. They will probably try and take Fulham’s tag of being “London’s friendly club” and have “neutral end” for most games. Please, DO go take a look.

As for Brentford,  the other highlight was our debut on Match Of The Day. One watched this morning and what a way to clear the head. “Listen to the noise” said Jonathan Pearce as Sergi celebrated the goal. You could hear that one all the way from West London to Rwanda. The decibel levels rising every time the Bees broke forward. A touching nod to Rob Rowan and that wonderful moment of Bukayo Saka being applauded on the pitch from all four sides of the ground. 2-0 Brentford and then almost three as balls into the box continued to cause mayhem. A wonderful shot of Ian Wright looking somewhat glum and then that was it. Sergi and Thomas bigging up the fans and the team. 

Brentford. They absolutely battered Arsenal”. Alan Shearer leading the praise and continuing to big us up. I could get used to this.    

Until then, time to get that LP on. Fingers crossed Billy has peformed his expected magic…

Nick Bruzon

From Tinky Winky to top of the Prem. What a journey.

14 Aug

Get the heck in and when you are done, get in some more. That was just magnificent. Immense. Amazing. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how incredible it felt as Brentford beat Arsenal 2-0 on Friday night. As Sergi Canos scored our first goal at this level. As Brentford went top of the Premier League. Top. Of. The. Premier. League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.  The Bees flying high at the top. The Gunners rooted to the bottom. Champions Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and the rest of the chasing pack now left having to play catch up. This self-proclaimed bus stop in Hounslow now having half an eye on their crown already. Whether we can retain these lofty heights remains to be seen but that’s a conversation for another day. For now, we’re waking up with sore heads and even sorer throats. The noise in the Community Stadium so loud as to be positively deafening. The smiles on the  faces before, during and after nothing but beaming. Enough about Thomas Frank though.

Thomas. No words needed.

We got to the ground almost an hour before kick off. As much to do with wanting to be part of the build up as, being honest, not quite trusting the new fangled ticketing system to work. Oh me of little faith. It was seamless although a good thing we did arrive early. The crowds outside were huge ; the atmosphere building. Lionel Road everything it had promised to be in pre-season and now, finally full for the first time, it was just the most fantastic arena. Peter Gilham giving it his all on the microphone. Stu Wakeford his partner in p.a. crime barely able to contain the excitement. So this is what it’s like with a sound system you can actually hear? Except, of course, we couldn’t. The noise was through the roof. If it had felt loud for Bournemouth this was off the scale. Reports coming in from back home suggesting that the interviews couldn’t be heard above the crowd. Sergi Canos unable to hear the questions by the moment full time came around.

As for the game? Wow. Just wow. Much like our last competitive match, the play-off final, the opening exchanges were cautious. Brentford taking a few minutes to find feet. To absorb what little attacking intent could be mustered. Yet Arsenal, missing Aubameyang and (as Prince almost once sang) the prolific Lacazette, had little to offer up front. Both reported as ‘sick’. Presumably like the dog that had just eaten the homework

Slick passing and breakaway speed are all well and good but if you can’t do anything with it then what’s the point? Toothless. Impotent. A spent force. But enough about Piers Morgan, whose griping from Twitter was a quite beautiful sideshow. It wasn’t until the 85th minute that I recall David Raya having anything meaningful to do. A quite magnificent save from the Gunners’ one danger source, Emile Smith Rowe, which he had no real right to get even half-way close to. Yet when called upon, there he was. Up until then the most he’d had to do was make himself a delicious Löfbergs coffee. Mmmm, Löfbergs. Apparently. 

With Brentford settling into the game, the chances started to come. Bryan Mbeumo having the best of the early opportunities with a run and shot on the angle that was only kept out by the woodwork. With threat building, it was the unofficial king in our house, Sergi Canos, who opened proceedings. Oh, Sergi Canos. You absolute beauty. Little over twenty minutes on the clock and the roof came off the Community Stadium. Bernard Lemon in goal for Arsenal close but no cigar as our beautiful number 7(seven) slammed one past him to send the place nuts.

No? No? Yessssssss!!!!! Not even a hint of VAR referral. Straight in and straight back for kick off. I’m still grinning like a lunatic now thinking about that moment. Top of the blinkin’ league. A goal up in our first Premier League fixture. Playing Arsenal off the park. Stroking it about like pros. Just having a blast. Mbeumo back to his best. Ethan Pinnock colossal when needed. Vitaly Janelt pulling the strings.

My good friend (with apologies for going all Ian Moose) Annette summing it all up quite beautifully on Twitter:

I remember when Sergi Canos posted a r.i.p tribute to the Tinky Winky teletubby when the actor died, and now here he is scoring our first Premier League goal. What a journey.

The Bees’ threat continued to build but failed to turn into a second goal. The doubts, perhaps, starting to build that we might come undone. It’s Brentford innit? Except it isn’t. Not any more. Wembley should have taught us that and what a feeling when Christian Nørgaard popped up to do his thing on 73. Powering through a crowded defence to head home a trademark long throw from the newly abbreviated Mads Bech.  If the place had gone berzerk for Sergi’s opener, this was next level.

Not only another goal but now with the safety buffer of going two clear and little more than a quarter hour left on the clock. F me. The ears are still ringing even now. Lionel Road erupted.  £50m Ben White left floundering as the Danish midfielder doubled the lead.  Surely not even Brentford could blow it from here? Surely…?

Not these days….

It was never in doubt. The one real scare coming with the aforementioned save from Raya. Had it gone in then who knows what would have happened to our nerves. But it didn’t. The ‘keeper showing just why Arsenal had coveted him so openly last season. Their loss, on and off the pitch, very much our gain. The five minutes of time added on passing in a blur and then.. the moment !!!

Full time. One final orgasmic eruption of noise to greet Michael Oliver calling an end to proceedings. Arms held aloft, voices raised and flags waved. Hey Jude sung led and proud. A moment we’d dreamed of now turning into reality. Those Arsenal fans who hadn’t already slunk off, left to trudge out in brutal despair. Their side propping up the rest of the league. Brentford sitting at the top of the pile.  

With full time came a lap of appreciation, as we’d become so used to at Griffin Park. Thomas Frank and the players enjoying the moment with the fans. Woody, in particular, coming in for the mother of all celebrations from our head coach. My word, that grin, You could see what it all meant to Thomas. To both of them. To all of us. 

And to the players aswell. Christian leading the charge to the supporters, one amazing boy in particular, with the rest following.

I want to be humble right now. To stay grounded. Let the Arsenal fans pick over their own performance. Brentford were just incredible last night. Nobody can deny that. The Premier League shaken up. For sure we’ll take beating at some point but you can only play who you are up against and what a way to do it.

For now, we are up and running. For now , we are top of the Premier League. Whether that is still the case at the end of the weekend remains to be seen. Manchester City aren’t going to just hand over their title and their top dog status. Quite frankly, I don’t care. This is all about the moment and they don’t come much better. 

Now bring on Crystal Palace. See you there! 

Nick Bruzon

Put simply, I can’t wait. See you there.

12 Aug

This is it. Thursday morning. One more wake up to go until Brentford open the 2021-22 Premier League. Arsenal the opponents in a much publicised fixture and the event of our first game at this level, the top flight of English football, since 1947. Cripes. It’s all getting a bit close. And as if that wasn’t enough, we’ve the pleasure of a home tie with Forest Green Rovers in the second round of the league cup which takes place the week after next. A chance to see if we can go one step further than last season’s epic run and eventual semi-final defeat by Tottenham. Ahh, VAR.

Insert usual cliches and well worn tropes about little Brentford. Exciting. First fixture (sorry, done that one already). Underdogs. Tinpot. Bus stops. Stats. XG. Moneyball. Thomas Frank’s luxuriant hair.  Underachieving Arsenal. A club currently sitting in the shadow of North London neighbours Spurs (last season’s table doesn’t lie). Fan TV. 

Come on. It IS luxuriant. Almost Ginola-esque

There we go. That’s about five paragraphs saved from pretty much any article about tomorrow’s game. Including this one. We’ve done Premier League excitement to death. I won’t deny I’m still absolutely buzzing about what will be over the next 9 or so months but it is as much about the chance for us to be part of a full house crowd once more. To have a pre-match pint with friends. And a few after. To share that mutual thrill whenever a new campaign begins. Only alphabetical order keeping Arsenal above Brentford at present. The Bees entering the game in the knowledge that victory on Friday evening, should it happen, will see us the highest placed club in English football. Three points clear of the rest and only 37 games to go.   

Throw it all out the window. The simple fact of the matter is that nobody knows what to expect. Nobody knows what will play out. Will record breaking goal machine Ivan Toney inspire the Bees to victory? Pick up where he left off last season? Who will even start? Two centre-backs or three?  Who plays at right wing back? How will new signing Yoanne Wissa ( the wide man now confirmed on ‘official’ after his being photographed in the crowd during the defeat of Valencia) fit in? Does Frank the Tank start? The only thing we can say for sure is, as suspected / known by just about everyone, Josh Dasilva is out long term. This, something confirmed by Thomas Frank in yesterday’s press conference.

Welcome Wissa etc etc

Ah, Thomas. Head coach par excellence and the man who steered us over the line of play-off hoodoo and into the Prem. His stock is as high as it has ever been amongst the Brentford faithful. Aswell as those dissenting voices from last season. Coventry away, anyone? He also used the occasion of meeting the press to talk about his hopes for, firstly, the Arsenal game: 

I expect two things from Friday; my players will run themselves into the ground and the fans will be right behind us through every minute. This is the kick-off to a new world where we have never been before.

As for longer term, he explained that: “There are two simple targets for me. One is to win the next game which is on Friday against Arsenal. Two is to finish as high as possible. We want to be positive minded and attacking for as many minutes as possible.

Oooh. This could be fun. Kevin Keegan style kamikaze football? Full tilt attack? Or go for broke, grab a goal and then lock things up? The full quota of possible attacking minutes having been reached at that juncture?

For me, Clive, our methodology has only ever been one of taking the game to the opposition. The best form of defence is attack and all that. The play-off final, about as high pressure a game as one would expect, being the consummate example. We attacked from the off and kept going. Swansea City not given a look in. It’s not our way to play overly cautious and as common as anything else to see attack minded substitutions made late on. Even when winning.

Come on. It IS luxuriant (attacking football, I mean)

The difference now being we are going to be playing at a higher level. The step up in quality of opposition about as huge a gulf as they come. Obvious, of course, but something which does call into question how much attacking will be possible. Will we have the nous, or inclination, to put the brakes on as and if needed? Will our attacking threat keep up the drive that has seen 7(seven) goal bracketing become a more regular thing in recent seasons and our GD go through the roof? More importantly, how much of a challenge will they find the step up?

Questions. Questions. Questions. That nobody gives us a significant hope is clear to all. Just look at the bookmakers’ (for research purposes). They’re rarely wrong when it comes to picking winners yet, in truth, nobody knows how this is going to go. Either on Friday against Arsenal or longer term. Brentford are the great unknown. A new team at this level and one looking to become only the 7th (seventh) to win their first ever Premier League fixture. It’s a huge ask, on paper, and there’s going to be a massive global audience on Friday night as things get underway. 

Put simply, I can’t wait. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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

Download a book for CRY. Get yourself a Premier League Brentford bingo card.

21 Jun

For those of us who support Brentford, the opening Premier League game of the season at home to Arsenal will be seen as the moment a dream came true. To those a bit further afield from TW8 it will likely be seen as a typo. Or, more likely, with TV coverage expected to be rife, an excuse for lazy pundits to crank out even lazier clichés. The Arsenal game has already been selected. With everyone else from Leeds United and Liverpool to Manchester United and City heading our way, expect more to come. And it’s brilliant. If only because of Brentford supporter Matteus Kesät hitting the social media nail firmly on the head recently. Elsewhere, the 2020/21 season review has now gone up on kindle. All funds received for downloads of this this will be going to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) – specifically, Rob Rowan’s memorial fund.

First up though, Brentford Premier League bingo. Immediately after our play-off final win at Wembley, Matteus published a Twitter thread listing his predictions for the commentary gold sure to be uttered over the course of the forthcoming campaign. With it, came the offer for anyone to map this in to bingo card format. And so, with apologies for sloppiness, the finger has finally been pulled out.

Can we get a full house before Christmas? Will this be used for a drinking game? Is anyone taking bets on which one we’ll hear first?   I’m banking on at least four of the fourteen by the time coverage ends on August 13th. Here you go, and enjoy. The link to Matteus’ original thread is at the end of this article.

Tick them off, one by one

Next up, the annual Amazon e-book. It’s put together as a bit of fun, looking back at the season that has gone before. This time, we even have a happy ending.

I don’t want the money (such as it is) and so any funds received are always donated anyway. This time around, they are going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund. If anybody is kind enough to download a copy, please know that you are helping a most deserving of causes aswell as one that is extremely personal to all connected with Brentford. You can find the link here. Thank you very much to those who have already stumbled across it last night.

Everything else ever released should currently be available on free download until Friday – you can find the full link here (I think). So please, help yourself if you are looking for something to fill the gap between the Euros and the Premier league.

Finally, the full cliché thread. Pretty sure we’ll be close to chalking them all off by the time that Liverpool visit on 25th September. Enjoy. And thank you.

Nick Bruzon

Sheer bliss with fixture list ‘reveal’. And who is Thomas shopping for?

17 Jun

Brentford v Arsenal. Norwich City v Liverpool. Manchester City v Spurs. That concludes the draw for the third round of the FA Cup. Except, of course, it doesn’t. That actually concludes the headlines from the opening round of Premier League fixtures. Games to be played at 3pm on Saturday 14th August, subject to television coverage. It is about as perfect an opening game as the Bees could have asked for. A home start. The chairman’s boyhood club. A chance to hit the ground running before away trips to Crystal Palace and then Aston Villa. Oh, Dean Smith. The ‘deserved to win’ derby is back and I can’t wait for it. Can’t wait for any of it.

At an (ambassadorial ?) dinner with friends last night, the excitement was palpable. The hope of being able to play in front of a full house following the additional month’s extension of Corona restrictions from June 21st an obvious topic of conversation. Those of us lucky enough to attend the play-off semi against Bournemouth where 4,200 ripped the roof off Lionel Road know just what a huge difference having fans present makes. Of course, we need no reminder of that but at the same time, the effect it had on the Cherries was beyond anything I had seen before.

A team visibly crumbling in front of us. The self-destruct button hit as Brentford played them off the park on it and destroyed their mindset off it. Sell the place out and Arsenal won’t know what to expect for that first game. From their own library  (pre/during corona) to a cauldron of noise. It’ll be immense. And that’s just game one.

What an afternoon that was at Lionel Road

We’ve all got the ones we are looking forward to. Seeing the likes of Manchester City and Spurs on our fixture card still takes some belief. As much because of the huge journey taken to get here. But, we have done it. We are there. We are going to be playing shoulder to shoulder as league rivals rather than ad-hoc cup opponents. The BBC have updated their graphic. Newsnow have shifted us into their ‘Premier League’ category. Our transfer from the Championship is completed. Believe it. It’s happening. Enjoy the build up but bring on the real thing.

Manchester City will now be league rivals rather than ad-hoc cup opponents. Sheer Bliss For Brentford in 1989

Thomas Frank spoke to Sky Sports Premier League yesterday. You can see that one below. Even he acknowledging that it has finally sunk in. His own thoughts on the Arsenal game being that, “To be honest, I don’t really care who we are facing in the first game… if there was one wish then it was that the first game was at home”. There was plenty more said in between so do take a look. If only for the transfer exclusive…

Like the rest of us, Thomas is hoping for a full house at Lionel Road. With Wimbledon tennis finals and business end of the Euros seeing more and more able to attend, one has to remain optimistic. No pressure, Boris. Johnson. Not Becker. I darnel even think of the meltdown should supporters not be able to attend. Whether we’ll be able to travel en-masse fo r ‘away’ games another consideration but, for now, everybody is going to be sweating on that July update. 

That’s for then. This is now. A moment to start memorising dates. Planning the Christmas schedule. Looking forward to another season. The difference being that this time, rather than finishing the campaign against Portsmouth and Doncaster (something something something penalty) it’ll be games with Southampton and Leeds United. This fixture card I found at he back of the draw during the week really emphasising the progress made over the last ten years. Now, to see where we go from here. 

I can’t wait. See you there  

That was then

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

Natalie Sawyer: From Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates

6 Jun

Brentford FC. The club where anything can happen.. and usually does. We are now just over a week into our Premier League status and, being honest, I’m still finding it somewhat hard to believe. Not because of our bus stop in Hounslow status or the sneering from outside TW8 but as much because of everything that has gone before. But it’s true. It’s happening. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United et al will be amongst the visitors next season. Get used to it.

Part of the reason I love this club so much is the lack of any pretension, anywhere. Hearing Marcus Gayle talk about our spirit and our approach during ‘The Warm Up’ on Friday night was spot on. If you, somehow, haven’t seen it as yet then it is well, well worth a watch. If for no other reason than it is yet another chance to relive that incredible afternoon at Wembley moments.

For me, Brentford is a place where the great and the good can rub shoulders. Complete neutral ground. The close quarters of Griffin Park meant one was as likely to see Sergi Canos in the street as Jumper man. There’s Jack Whitehall in the pub sharing a drink with our chairman. Delia Smith walking down Braemar Road. Err, is that Peter Andre sitting in New Road? Apparently it was. Where if you see the owner, and ask a question, you get as honest an answer as you can. Thank for the kit reveal, Mr B (we’re going back a few season now but…). Where everybody knows everybody’s name and is happy to get involved.

Nowhere more is this seen than with Natalie Sawyer. To those outside of TW8, one of the most recognisable faces on our TV screens during her time at Sky and now holding court on talkSPORT Radio Breakfast. To those at Brentford, she is just another fan. Albeit about as passionate as they come. Likewise, one of Mark Burridge’s longstanding and regular guests during his i-follow commentary alongside Marcus and Mick. Ah, who could forget Sheffield United away? You know, ‘that’ game. Keith Stroud….

Natalie is the face of talkSPORT weekend breakfast

The reason for this long winded intro is that, unlike Cameron Diaz, Natalie is as regular and knowledgable a Brentford fan as any of us. So when she has something to share it is well, well worth a read. And, my word, today we are in for a treat. 

Hot off the heels of Kitman Bob’s exclusive look behind the Brentford curtain, Natalie has very kindly taken the time to share her thoughts. What we had initially hoped may be a few words has, instead, turned into something that is as much ‘cathartic’ as anything else. Not just about the week leading up to Wembley and the game itself, but everything that has gone before.

HUGE thanks to Natalie for taking the time to share just what this means to her..…  

From Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates

It’s the week after the week of all weeks for Brentford fans but it still doesn’t feel real. “Little ol Brentford” are heading to the Premier League for the very first time. So, in the next year we will face the champions Manchester City, Champions League winners Chelsea and FA Cup holders Leicester to name just 3 sides. I haven’t even computed the historical giants of Liverpool and Manchester United as well! How is this happening??? Do other side’s fans go through this same doubt???

Let’s rewind…I was there for Crewe, I was there for Stoke and also for Yeovil. So, I’ve suffered like many Bees fans. I’ve headed to those finals full of optimism, only for it to be extinguished. I’d like to think ordinarily I am a positive person, most of the time. I try to live the glass half full life but when it comes to Brentford, and the playoffs, I’ve simply learnt to be pessimistic and then hopefully be pleasantly surprised. (I just didn’t think it would take this long!!) 

After every playoff defeat, us fans have all rallied to believe it will happen for us one day, that the next time the footballing gods would be on our side. But, truthfully having been scarred 9 times, as we have, I had partly resigned myself to never winning the playoffs. So this surreal feeling I am having about us being in the Premier League after that Wembley final, I think is pretty fair.  

It’s funny to think the season didn’t start off the best way. 1 win in our first 4 league games had a few fans twitching I’m sure. But not long after we went on that incredible 21 game unbeaten run in the Championship, one time taking us to the top of the league. We were living the dream (little did I know more was to come!). The fun bus didn’t look like it was going to an end, such was the high that we were on. But, in typical Brentford-style we were brought back down to earth with those 3 straight losses, frustratingly with one of those at the hands of QPR (who I’d forgotten were in the league, such was their lowly position! ☺) We dusted ourselves off and went again and although our hopes of automatic promotion fell away, our end to the season was strong and convincing, But, that didn’t mean I didn’t have my fears and nerves and I had that little negative devil sat on my shoulder saying “its Brentford innit” as I feared the approaching playoffs. 

We all know what happened in the first leg against Bournemouth, so I’ll cut to the second. My family were lucky to have got tickets and a few days before the game, I was having sleepless nights. Waking at silly o’clock and having those whirling thoughts of losing. I knew I’d be devastated to lose to Bournemouth in that semi-final as felt we were simply the better team, for all their Premier League experience. But there it was gnawing away at me, our playoff curse and it played on my mind constantly. 

I had to be up early the Saturday morning, so I could be at talkSPORT for 5am. My alarm as usual was set for 330am, but as normal I rarely am woken by it as I always have that fear of sleeping in. This time it wasn’t sleeping in that woke me, constantly, but the impending game with Bournemouth and knowing we were already a goal down in the tie! 

I know I’m very lucky to combine my passion for sport with my job but sometimes it can be wretched. More about that later. After my shift I raced back home as fast as I could and joined my family to make our way to the stadium. It was simply amazing to be among so many fans and feel that excitement in the ground that had been missing for so long. Seeing the players and Thomas do their lap of honour before the game got me ready to be the 12th man as instructed by the team. With Hey Jude being belted out around the ground prior to kick off, it certainly warmed me up for it but the anxiety of a must-win game played on my mind. 

Pre match from Thomas.

There are certain moments in the match, I will confess I didn’t see in real time. Arnaut Danjuma’s goal I didn’t see as I looked away as he broke, and even Ivan Toney’s penalty I missed as I can’t watch any penalty being taken. That doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate like mad once it’s been scored. But my nerves cannot take it, cannot watch it. And just before the ball is struck and you can hear a pin drop, I often squeeze my eyes shut and even have my fingers in my ears, such is the fear that goes through me.

Being sat in the stands with my family, I kept my mask on and it’s the first time ever I felt I could scream and shout at a game whilst feeling anonymous. I’m not normally one to do that at a game, other than every now and then when a chant chorus’ round the ground. But this day felt like no other. I’d been told to make it hostile and I was going to do my bit. 

And so did every other fan in the stadium. The atmosphere was incredible from the 4000 or so fans that were there. And it certainly whetted the appetite for when we can all be back together in what we know now will be a sold-out Community stadium every match day.  

So much of that second leg is a blur now but it was a performance worthy of the win. Agent Mepham did his bit, followed by Janelt’s thunderous shot and Forss’ quick thinking for the third, but of course what does stand out is the ridiculous antics of Asmir Begovic. I’ll never understand how an experienced, seasoned pro could have resorted to such bizarreness. We can laugh at it now because we won but it’s still a head scratching 90 minutes that I wont forget whenever I see or hear his name! 

Begovic – the nicest picture of his antics

When the referee Jarred Gillett blew the whistle, it was some feeling to know we were back at Wembley for a second successive season, hoping to right the wrongs, but guess who was back?? – that devil!!!! Thankfully, I was able to put that pest to one side for the night as we enjoyed a few drinks at One over the Ait, with a number of the commercial department from Brentford, who happened to be there as well. The feeling was one of excitement as attention turned to the following weekends’ final. If I could just tame that devil so I could enjoy the build-up. 

Not. A. Chance. That devil is annoying. I could go hours without thinking about the final, only for, out of nowhere, that nervous feeling you get in your gut would emerge and I would have severe pangs of fear. I didn’t want to comprehend a 10th playoff loss but that’s more often what I thought than thinking we’d win. Scarred, you see. 

Most of my family were pretty calm about it all, the other half (Captain fantastic, Mr D) kept telling me it was in the bag but I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to jinx the game. On paper I thought we were better than Swansea, on paper we deserved to win, not just for the last 8 months but also for our missed opportunity last season. But no game is ever won on paper, nor because you deserve it. And also those footballing gods just didn’t like to answer our prayers. So, I had the fear. A constant fear. 

Remember I said my job is great as it combines my passion but that it can be wretched too. Well, here’s why? When you’re constantly asked to talk about the biggest game in football, the richest game in football, the playoff curse, the what happens to the squad if you don’t go up, you are just constantly on edge. Talking about it positively could jinx us, talking about it negatively could jinx us. I felt like I couldn’t win! But I also couldn’t not talk about it as it was part of my job so the only way I could handle it was to try and be measured for fear I would be the reason for the curse continuing. 

I even feared requesting the Sunday off work because I’d be the jinx, but I justified it by saying I was doing that to cover all eventualities. There was no way I would want to work if we lost knowing we’d be dissecting where it all went wrong, whilst also hearing the celebrations of Swansea and yet if we’d won, I knew I needed to party!!

So, waking up as I did on that Saturday morning, I went to work as normal but I’m not entirely sure I remember what we talked about, so much was my mind on Wembley. But I got through the three hours chatting about some final in Porto whilst also occasionally having to talk about the Championship final. Former Swansea midfielder Leon Britton joined us at one point and he was confident his side could win the game. Believe me that is something I didn’t need to hear. That didn’t help the tension. 

Thankfully at 9am, we were done and there was little time for pleasantries with my colleagues at the end of the show, as once again I had to rush home to get ready for the biggest game in our history in which a select few of us could play our part, under the arch. I remember arriving at Waterloo station and as I was going up on the escalator, I spotted something on one of the steps. A sticker. A Brentford sticker. I took it to be a sign. I’m on the up escalator, the Bees are going up? I was hesitant to post it but decided to share the positivity on Facebook, thinking it might give more and more of us a nice little omen of confidence. I didn’t share the news that on the train back I spotted one magpie!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Going to the game with my dad and my brother, we had to get to the ground early as I was asked to appear on talkSPORT again in their live show from Box Park. En route to it we bumped into a few of my former colleagues from Sky Sports, all who believed it was our year. They clearly had not been given the script. No jinxing please!! Once at Box park, it was amazing to see so many Bees fans already inside, sampling the local beverages and soaking up the atmosphere. There was such a positive vibe that it did momentarily ease my fears. The few drinks that followed afterwards also helped! But, it’s amazing how quickly that can change when the nerves kick in!!! And that’s exactly what happened at kick off. 

Once again, the Brentford fans were brilliant. It felt electric in the stadium as our east stand did what we could to roar the team on. I wasn’t sure I could take 90 minutes with my emotions all over the place but as we know it didn’t take long for us to be jumping up from our seats as Bryan Mbeumo was brought down by Freddie Woodman for a penalty, and Ivan gave us the early lead. Obviously, I didn’t see the penalty, but I roared all the same with everyone else when the ball clearly had gone into the net. Ten minutes later, it all felt like a dream as it was 2-nil. Bryan instrumental in our break as Swansea tried to level, Mads Roerslev making an incredible run to get himself into the mix and Emi Marcondes with the finish that got us all thinking could this be our year? The momentum was very much with us and not long after Ivan’s volley could have sealed it. If only it had gone in. How did it not? It’s those gods again!!! 

It did all feel comfortable it has to be said. But, they always say a 2-0 lead is never safe and knowing we had another half to come, my nerves were still all over the place. I kept jostling my feet, my knees kept shaking and even with Swansea’s Jay Fulton sent off just after the hour mark, I still didn’t feel job done. Because, well, you know why; That devil was there on my shoulder again saying “it’s Brentford innit”. 

Swansea didn’t have a single shot on target in the game, but I wasn’t thinking that whilst it was going on. I was thinking, even in added on time, this is agony. So, when the whistle went, I sprang out of my seat, jumped around in ecstasy. Had we really just won? Had we really just won a playoff? Are we really in the Premier League? That moment of being in Wembley still feels unreal. Turning to my 82-year-old dad, his eyes were wet and red. He is an emotional person any way, but he’s never cried at football. Never. But here he was with his emotions for all to see and the best thing I could do was pull him in for a hug. He couldn’t believe what he’d seen, and he couldn’t believe our club were going to be one of the top 20 teams in England. Not just that but our global reach had just grown epic proportions. Next to join in our huddle was my brother and I am forever grateful that that whole moment was captured on video so that we can relive it over and over again as it’s the most special footballing moment for us. 

I was lucky after the game to be invited to the Brentford celebrations at the stadium. It was wonderful to experience, to see the joy on everyone knowing they had just achieved what for so long felt impossible. A little over 10 years ago Brentford were in League Two facing Barnet, Macclesfield, Aldershot, Notts County, Chester, Darlington, Dagenham & Redbridge – not one of them are in the Football League anymore. 

That could have been us had it not been for Bees United and Matthew Benham. There will never be enough words to say a big thanks to those important game changers for the club. But, going from those days at Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates is still incomprehensible. We’ve lived in a bubble of hope for so long and although we will fondly refer to us as “a bus stop in Hounslow” and there will be some that think it’s wrong a club like ours should be in the Premier League (Really Terry Christian?!), we are going to have to get used to it as we can no longer say “it’s Brentford innit”, instead it’s “we are Premier League, say we are Premier League.”