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No show Flo Jo. The game is off so what next?

6 Mar

Matchday. Time for Brentford fans to get back on the horse after the midweek reverse at Norwich City. Except, of course, we can’t. Friday morning saw the announcement of our visit from Rotherham United being cancelled due to their second Corona Virus outbreak of the season (following that in December). Instead, the game has been pushed back to April 27th and we can do nothing more today than watch the results roll in. Watford – Nottingham Forest and Swansea – Middlesbrough being the key fixtures of note. Given our own lack of action we could well end up sitting in fourth place by the end of the day. Whatever else happens, by the time we play next (at Blackburn Rovers on Friday evening) at least it will be in the knowledge that Swansea have finally caught up their two games on us. Following today’s encounter, they also travel to Ewood Park. Tuesday night could be a huge one for them. And us.

However the table looks at that point, I’m not gong to get over excited or angry. As we’ve been saying all season the Championship is a marathon not a sprint. Positions ebb and flow. It won’t be until the final game of the campaign that Brentford know for sure how things look. Obvious, I realise. Obvious that is, to those of us who understand football. Who resist the tendency to hit the panic button and go for the knee-jerk, lemming like meltdown because a player mishits a pass or the team fail to score. Who think that enjoying our highest position in years and pushing for the top flight is something to celebrate rather than being “up the club’s ass(?)”. Weird. But that’s old ground covered off a few times already. I think, by now, its fair to say we fall into two camps. The objective and the keyboard warriors. Which is probably the same at most clubs, to be fair. The difference being we’re second, everyone, rather than fighting a Birmingham City style relegation battle.

I’m gutted about today. Initial thoughts are with the players and staff at Rotherham United. Unlike the Bristol City symptom-gate affair (which, unless I have missed something, all seems to have gone very, very quiet despite the promise of an EFL investigation) positive tests were returned. Hopefully all will be well in their squad.

Instead of seeing former Bees Chiedozie Ogbene and the ever popular Flo Jo once more, we are confined to barracks. Stuck on the sofa watching Watford and then waiting for updates from the Swansea City game.

Not today….

Personally, I’m not overly fussed about sitting through either. Boredom aside. As noted before, they won’t be definitive in the final placings, regardless of any flux experienced in the table. It goes without saying we’d love a pair of away wins but I can’t see Nottingham Forest or Middlesbrough able to offer any resistance whatsoever. Boro’ in particular will be up against a Swansea team buoyed by their 96th minute ‘penalty’ at Stoke. Shut happens. They still need to pick up points in their surplus games and then maintain that position. The subsequent tough run they face is their problem, not ours.  

So yes, I expect Brentford to be an interim fourth place come 5pm. And when we are, we are. The plus side to Rotherham’s misfortune being that at least, in the short term, it allows our players some extra recovery time. The injury list is a long one. Fatigue must be setting in. The heart would rather see us playing but the head says that at least we can gain some advantage by this enforced inactivity. With three teams currently fighting it our for one automatic place (Norwich City won’t blow their chance) this will come down to who can hold their nerve. Who can keep their squad trim. Who can put a decent run together over the final dozen games rather than hitting the skids. Let’s not forget that Watford had their own wobble at Bournemouth last week whilst Swansea have been humped by both Huddersfield Town and Bristol City in recent fixtures.      

There’s a touch under a quarter of the season to go. It is going to be huge for Brentford. Let’s just focus on ourselves. Starting at Blackburn on Friday. Anything else that comes our way is a bonus. And if there are no gifts, there’s always the social media meltdown button to press…

Fingers at the ready

Nick Bruzon

Frank IN. Sense!! Bees do it again amidst festive fixture pile up.

2 Dec

Well wasn’t that the performance? Brentford made it three wins on the bounce, eight unbeaten with just three conceded over that period and up to fourth place. Just two points behind current table-toppers Norwich City after a 2-0 defeat of Rotherham that never, really, looked in doubt once the game had begun. Whilst the first half may have been frustrating for many, the Bees kept going and eventually grew into another game where the opposition’s primary objective had been survival. With the FT index mk.ii starting a game together, both players scored to present Thomas Frank further selection headaches (of the nicest sort) for the visit of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Marcus Forss grabbed the first before Ivan Toney made it 13 for the season with a calm finish from the penalty spot to wrap up the points and return to the top of the Championship goal scorers charts. 

Marcus shared this one on Twitter at full time. As cool as you like.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. We’ve all seen the game and there’s the BBC or Brentford ‘official’ for anyone wanting in depth. For me, the key takeaways were another team rejig that has, once again, proven we have a Plan A, B and C. The absence of Henrik Dalsgaard was barely felt with Tarique Fosu able to bomb up and down the flank in lieu of the Dane. Indeed, whilst the opening goal was notable for the interplay between Toney and Forss (what teamwork for Ivan to pass rather than shoot himself), the patience, the feint and the delivery of that ball into the box from Fosu was magnificence served up on a silver salver. Bees fans being spoiled to ambassadorial levels by a team goal that would have had the ‘Frank Out’ brigade and Canos bullies on their high horses once more as if their managerial credentials had somehow been borne out.

Yet it was Sergi himself who set up the second goal. Forss feeding the Toney before he found Canos. The Spaniard’s timing and pace were electric as he burst clear in the box. This was it. 2-0. Just the keeper to beat until….. Nooooooo! Brutally scythed by Rotherham substitute Mickel Miller with the goal gaping, referee Tim Robinson had no choice but to award the spot kick. At the same time booking the hapless Miller for a second time in the 11 minutes since he had entered the field of play and promptly returning the player from whence he came. He sent him off.  

There was no mistake from the spot. I won’t deny Ivan’s approach to penalty taking gives me the heebie jeebies. A slow, measured almost walk up is one that is contrary to everything we’ve seen about running full tilt at the ball before striking. The files of football bloopers filled with strikers attempting ‘comedy run ups’ only to be left with copious amounts of egg on face (or is that just FulhamL ?). The first time against Millwall had heart in mouth. This was no different. Perhaps it is just Brentford and penalties in general? Yet with the shot eventually released, execution like a tracer bullet speeding towards the bullseye, there was once again no doubt. The net bulged. The 20 directors and officials celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup.

As for the Toney and Forss pairing, well I can’t wait to see which way Thomas jumps when Blackburn come to Lionel Road on Saturday. With Forss playing up top and Toney just to his side in our attacking front three, the interplay between the pair of them more than provide its worth. Marcus has tremendous amounts of confidence and we all know how hard (and accurately) he can strike a ball. It’s a quite lovely team decision we have now been presented but with the visit of the Championship’s most devastating attack (Blackburn have scored 27 from 14 games, Adam Armstrong going neck and neck with Ivan for the golden boot) will he stick or revert to our more familiar starting XI? May he have no choice given Henrik wasn’t even on the bench? Given our 9 games over December and the festive period, changes are sure to continue.

One thing you can say for sure is that Vitaly Janelt gets the nod. He’s looking stronger and stronger each game. I love his approach (almost as much as his post match interviews) and can’t believe we’ve unearthed yet another one. Whilst we miss Christian Norgaard, and who wouldn’t, the German is making himself very, very hard to dislodge. Our Triple J in midfield once more banging the drum for Brentford and Thomas Franks’ tactical genius.

As for Thomas, I’ve always been a fan. I’m one very much of the ‘marathon not a sprint’ approach to football. Of realising a league campaign is 46 games long and every side has blips. Of knowing that when we’ve been awful (Stoke City away and that second half againat Preston) it is the exception, not the rule. That no team has a divine right to win every game. Nor will they. At any level. His enthusiasm is infectious. The mentality instilled in his squad really paying dividends. The Bees making their way up the table and improving on last season’s record every game. At the played 15 point in 2019/20 we’d picked up 21 points and were sitting in 13th. This time around we’ve 26 points and are already up to fourth.  ‘Frank out’? Take a look at yourselves.

Fans are entitled to opinions. Of course they are. Football would be deadly dull if it was full of blind lemmings towing the company line and singing everything is awesome. Well, you know what? At present it is. Show me any team that could lose like the likes of Benrahma / Watkins and overcome play-off pain then expect to immediately find their feet? It has taken us a few games but we’ve plugged away, the defence is looking rock solid and our attacking options continue to grow as the new look line up gel. Only Blackburn, Bournemouth and Reading have scored more than us. I don’t get the line of nonsense directed towards Thomas from certain quarters but in this strangest of seasons, he and the squad are doing more than ok. Everything IS awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Events at the Lego Community stadium continuing to prove this. 

from one lego house to another

Let’s finish on a high, though. In what has already been a topsy-turvy season, Brentford are the division’s form team. We’ve won three on the bounce including two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby. I’m absolutely ecstatic to have taken 9 from 9 over that run. Now we have the Championship golden goal shootout to look forward to. Even better, there will be fans present.

To everyone that got a ticket, ENJOY and make yourselves heard. Lionel Road is going to be rocking on Saturday. 2,000 supporters are going to sound deafening. Here’s hoping Simon got his email !

And finally…. Yesterday we put up the link for the Brentford pub Top Trumps. Today’s item of choice is a Nico Yennaris 28 football shirt. Anybody interested in picking this one up can do so here. Thanks for looking.

Until then, here’s to another three points. Here’s to us looking to continue our climb. Perhaps there may even be half an eye on Luton v Norwich tonight….

Nick Bruzon 

What is the best Brentford pub? Blackburn ticket day is here and Rotherham away.

1 Dec

It seems like just five minutes ago our 200 fans were cheering on Brentford to another three points. Now, we’ve a chance to close in on the automatic spots with a trip to Rotherham United this evening. Its a game that is live on Sky so don’t forget to set your watches for that 8pm kick off. Tickets for the home game against Blackburn this weekend are made available today (not a typo !!) whilst Monday night also saw the FA Cup third round draw and a collective groan go out across TW8 as Middlesbrough were pulled from the hat. We also have the means to answer the question, ‘What is the best Brentford pub on matchday?” as the latest Lockdown boredom buster project has now come to fruition – and you could get your hands on it.  

There was no end of fun on Friday

First up, Rotherham United. Cripes, I can’t call this one. On paper, the table gives us the slight advantage but in practice, the Millers have just held second placed Bourenmouth. Chuck an empty stadium into the mix and this one cold be anybody’s. It is the sort of game one would expect us to win, based purely on the facts that we’ve conceded just 3 goals in the last 7(seven) games and remain unbeaten over the same period. Chuck in the sort of firepower one could only have dreamed of when Ollie Watkins was sold, with Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss banging them in for fun and ordinarily I’d be confident. Moreso given the leveller that is having no home fans present.

But this is football. This is Brentford. This is us knowing that however confident we may feel, fingers have been burned many times. Optimism is fine, and I’m full of it, albeit with that niggling doubt at the back of the mind. Rotherham United haven’t read the script and will have no intention of rolling over to die. It’s going to be a cold night in Yorkshire and with the home side hovering just above the drop zone, they won’t be giving any early Christmas presents to anyone. This is going to be a tough, tough test for Thomas Frank and his squad selection. Janelt and Jansen to start?  The three centre backs that were so derided at Stoke City yet were part of a game changing formation change on Friday night? Which combination of Canos, Fosu or Mbeumo?

Who’d be a head coach. At 7pm we find out which way Thomas has jumped. See you on the sofa. Hopefully for the last time before we get the chance to go to a game. Today (Tuesday) sees emails being sent to the lucky few selected in the first draft of Season Ticket holders able to get in to Lionel Road for Saturday’s game with Blackburn. By now I am sure you have read all the blurb published by the club. The long and short being a longevity based priority system which you have three chances to claim on before going to the back of the queue and waiting your turn once more. This has been put together with help from BIAS (thank you) and it seems about as fair as you can get things. The full information is available here but, short of being fast tracked in to the Directors box, issued a photographer’s pass or becoming a ball boy this is the best shot we have . And I can’t wait. Nerves? What nerves? Keep on checking your email inbox…..

The FA Cup draw has seen us paired with Middlesbrough in a game sure to set the pulses racing. The plus side here being that, like Newcastle United in the league cup, tickets are separate from the league queuing. Good luck everybody in sorting that one out!  I’m sure the club have a plan.

And finally, we all love a pre-match beer or drowning our sorrows at full time. Griffin Park was famous for having a pub in every corner and, with the move to Lionel Road, I’m sure that spirit will live on in some form. Even if Corona Virus rules mean we can only pop in for a beer if we are having a substantial meal alongside. Landlord – two pints of Guinness, two Amstel, four sets of cutlery and one Scotch egg. Hmm. 

Still, at least we can turn up. In theory. But where do you go? The Griffin? The Express? The Brook? The Nelson? Strand on the Green or one of those on Kew Bridge? We all have our favourites but which is the best? There’s only one way to find out. Fiigh…. No, Brentford Pub Top Trumps.

Lockdown fires the imagination again

Yes, they’re back. You may recall the concept from the earlier effort over the summer where an incredible £150 was raised for the Community Sports Trust with our Supporter Special pack. Now, Lockdown 2 has seen the creative juices flowing and time killed once more. The result, the 30 or so pubs/bars in the vicinity of Lionel Road battling each other in playing card form. 

These are a bona fide pack produced by the Top Trumps people and only a handful exist. If you ‘d like to get your hands on the first pack produced then I’ve put them up online, here. They’re just meant as a bit of fun so enjoy – and thank you for looking.

Nick Bruzon

In the end the lure of the beach was too much.

23 Jan

What can you say? Congratulations Chris Mepham on finally securing his dream move to the Premier League. The Welsh centre-back completed one of the most expected moves of the season yesterday when he finally left Brentford for AFC Bournemouth with the fee reported at £12million plus the usual, copious add-ons. It was no surprise given Eddie Howe’s previous bids in the last two windows along with the player’s own omission from the squad that beat Rotherham United 4-2 on Saturday. This, following injury absence that had coincided with Thomas Frank rejigging his defensive line up and seeing his Bees finally return to unbeaten ways. Yet the gain here is all for Bournemouth as, despite a suggested higher offer from Dean Smith (something c/o my good friends at Beesotted, who are always on the money), the young Welsh International has declined a move to Aston Villa and chosen to take a trip to the beach. So to speak. 

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We can take consolation in great memories, lots of money and no hashtag

For Brentford, it means further shrewd transfer business as another player who we have picked up for minimal outlay (Chris joined as an under-16 back in 2014) has departed for the sort of money we could only dream about a few years ago. The club has made no secret of saying it will sell if the valuation and deal is correct and here we would seem to have another example. Bournemouth have made no secret of their intent to acquire a player whose rise has been, frankly, stratospheric. He hit the ground running last season and regular Welsh call ups were soon to follow. 43 games and one goal (oh, that knee slide against Sheffield United…) after his Griffin Park debut he has now reached the top flight with Bournemouth.

Eddie Howe must be purring like the metaphorical cat who got the cream. In one respect it is a gamble given Chris has played so few games but my word, what performances he has put in over that time. Last season, especially, where nobody could quite believe the confidence, precision and calmness of a player thrust into the squad and then the first team following the departure of Harlee Dean to Birmingham City. 

Things continued a pace this time around with Chris a regular call for ‘first name on the team sheet’ although, it would be fair to say, things did go somewhat amiss from mid-October. For the whole team. Thomas Frank’s first game in charge, a 1-0 defeat at home to Bristol City, saw Meps shown red for two bookings (the second somewhat innocuous) but from that point a malaise came over the Bees defence and midfield. It has something that has only been over remedied with the restructure of our our line up and with Chris having missed the resurgence through injury, perhaps the thinking is that with the fee on offer we have sufficient cover now in place to continue the upwards surge.

Whatever the reason, nobody can deny the talent that Bournemouth now have at their disposal. Chris has the potential to go all the way to the very top. On a personal note I’m obviously sad to see him go but it’ll be intriguing to see how quickly he adapts to life in the top flight. One can only assume he’ll take to things like a duck to water and despite the apparent ‘better terms’ offered by Aston Villa, taking the direct route to follow your dream is very much the way to go. As the ever eloquent Bernard Quackenbush put it on Twitter last night:

“As someone who has lived in Bournemouth for 38 years, with its miles of sandy beaches, warmer climate and with Sandbanks, The New Forest & the Dorset countryside on your doorstep.

Why the f@ck would you choose to live in Birmingham over Bournemouth. It was the only sane choice“.

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‘That’ knee slide

Elsewhere, we’ve had some downtime on these pages recently and so didn’t comment on the 4-2 win at Rotherham on Saturday. It was a result that saw our first win in the quite wonderful brown/orange kit as the unbeaten run continued to 7(seven) games. Those hardy souls who made the long trip to Yorkshire were treated to goals of the highest quality. Kamo’s second (our third) has to be the pick of the bunch  – a quite wonderful pass and move display direct form kick-off after being pegged back to 2-2. That Rotherham didn’t get a touch until fishing the ball out of the net tells you all you need to know about this one.  With an FA Cup fourth round trip to Barnet next up, what a time to find your form on the road. Wha ta time for the Jaffa cake shirt to finally come to the fore.

Albeit, the word on the street is that Thomas Frank has never tasted Jaffa cakes before. The training ground address is 100 Jersey Road, Osterley, TW5 0TP…..

Mmmm. Jaffa Cakes

Nick Bruzon

One down. Forty-five to go. What a start!

5 Aug

What can you say? Where do you start? Did that really happen? Brentford thumped Championship newcomers Rotherham United in a Griffin Park goalfest that saw the Bees end the day top of the league and disappointed to have ‘only’ scored five. That in itself, a feat we’d not achieved since February when Birmingham City were the recipients of that famous 5-0 payback. Yet if that one was as as satisfactory as they come from a personal perspective, dare I say that yesterday was ten times better, performance wise?

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A glorious result on a glorious day

So many times last season we scored early. Threatened. Pushed. Came oh so close but couldn’t make that additional breakthrough. Possession and shots were high but the net refused to ripple. Then our opponents would pull one back. Undo all the hard work or salvage a draw from the jaws of defeat.

Yet this was different. A turning of the screw unlike any we’ve seen and, better still, in scorching conditions with new players in the squad. Against opponents that we had no idea how dangerous they might be. Without the ever popular Ryan Woods, whom Dean Smith would later admit that following a bid for the player, “We both felt it wasn’t the right thing putting him in the squad today”.

This was one-way traffic and attacking play the likes of which typify Dean Smith’s Brentford when we are on fire. To a man, they were magnificent. Good luck picking out a man of the match although I’ve since seen that two goal Neal Maupay scooped the honours.

Personally, I loved Romaine and Lewis pulling the strings whilst it was great to see Ezri Konsa slotting in alongside Chris Mepham (who is now an alleged target for Leicester City). Dan Bentley looked rock solid as ever, pulling off one incredible save in the ten-minute patch just before half time that Rotherham looked vaguely involved in the day’s proceedings. Even then, Sergi Canos went down the other end and made it it 2-0 with a beautifully hit shot to double the lead after Neal Maupay’s early opener.

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View from the Braemar – a great performance yesterday.

Two up at HT and the game was as good as wrapped up. Surely? Indeed it was. Immediately into the second period Ollie made it three with a sublime finish before Neal added to his opener with less than an hour on the clock. Four up and the play scintillating. A first opening day win in 7(seven) games all but on the cards.

Changes were made. There was a rapturous welcome to the field for the magician, Alan Judge. Likewise, praise in particular for debutant Said Benrahama. “My word. How do we keep finding them?” was the considered opinion of my fellow fan in the Braemar Road paddock after witnessing his own skill with the ball. It was a proper ‘tied to his foot with a piece of string’ display – and that was just in the warm up!!  

Goalwise, things all but dried up. Lewis Macleod made it five just before full time with a hard hit shot that stayed low. Rifled or drilled was the subsequent debate in the pub. Answers on a postcard marked ‘drilled’, please.  Even then there was still a few seconds left for Rotherham to grab the proverbial ‘consolation’.

It was a denouement that prompted Dean to have a go at his players (his words) in the changing room afterwards aswell as admitting that “You don’t get many opportunities when your 4 or 5 up in a game. That could have been one today to try and score a few more but we took our foot off the gas a little bit”.

Whilst he would also acknowledge the heat factor and our all-round attacking intent, it shows the standards he is looking to set. He wasn’t alone in wanting a few more. Five year old HB said to me, “Daddy. I hope we get 7 (seven) because that means brackets”. Honestly, I’ve no idea where he gets it from.

However, it was a marked contrast from prior to kick off where he’d got cold feet about going because Noah from school had told him that Brentford were rubbish. It had clearly been playing on his mind but we had a good joke about it when he opened up and were able to persuade him that Griffin Park was still brilliant. Walking to the ground and seeing all the shirts (even some brown/orange ones) the smile began to grow and he ended the day telling me about his friend, “Daddy. Daddy. Noah doesn’t….know-a lot about football”. 

Honestly, I’ve no idea where he gets it from.

Yet if you want the ultimate sign of how good a game it was then the evidence was there in the fridge this morning. The bag of ‘break glass in case of emergency’ white chocolate buttons remained unopened. Untouched and ready for daddy to demolish today. There have been times in the past when we’ve needed to open these before kick-off, just to keep his attention. Now, he can’t wait to go again and I get a bonus chocolate treat. Nice one, Dean.   

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Get in! If this is what playing like that does then I’m a happy dad

Brentford were electric but we weren’t even physical. Yet the visitors were second to everything. I’m not buying into that ‘little’ Rotherham gumph. We’ve been on the receiving end of it enough in the past ourselves. Teams like Brentford etc. There are no easy games in the division, as West Brom found out yesterday going down to Bolton. As promoted Wigan proved when they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2. As Birmingham City discovered as they were pegged back by Norwich City deep into stoppage time at St. Andrews in a game which finished 2-2.

Watching the highlights on Quest TV (not a typo) this morning, studio guest Dean Ashton noted: “If I had money to pay to go and watch a team it would be Brentford” It is something that tells you all you need to know about our style of play yet how nice to see that endeavour rewarded with goals.

As for the show itself, Colin Murray was at the helm. A man who has had more footballing gigs than Steve Claridge and, had he been around at the time of the dinosaurs (velociraptors rather than Big Ron, Richard Keys et al), would probably have survived the asteroid. How DOES he keep going? Yet here he was again. Despite some early show hiccups where it looked as though the starship Enterprise was attempting to ‘beam us up, Scotty’, things settled down and we got what one would expect. Highlights. In order. A far cry from the debut of previous hosts Channel 5 three years ago – never, ever forget. That was the consummate example of how not to do football.

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An early transporter malfunction didn’t put Colin off his stride

The Bees were low down the pecking order yesterday. Understandable from many respects but with a trip to many people’s pre-season favourites Stoke City next up, I’m fairly sure that might have changed by this time next week.

For now, though, Brentford are top of the league. We are top of the league. #TOTL. Whilst we’ve said many times on these pages that the table doesn’t officially take shape until ten games in, I’m not going to deny that checking into the penthouse suite in the Championship hotel isn’t a quite wonderful place to be.

One down. Forty-five to go. Roll on Stoke City…

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The BBC table doesn’t lie…..

As a final note, huge thanks to the club and in particular Stuart Wakeford for the chance to take part in the Facebook live ‘Bees Live Beat The Bee’ competition prior to kick off, alongside Rico Henry. Stu is a legend in the making ; sadly, yours truly isn’t and the challenge ended in defeat to a man whose football knowledge is impressive. Likewise, one who has gone up hugely in my estimation. As much for his offering the prize anyway as his own ‘off air’ answer to the dress rehearsal question….. 😉  

If you fancy taking part against Sheffield Wednesday or beyond, then keep your eyes open for the #BEESLIVE on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It’s great fun and you never know what you might end up taking home !  

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Stu does his thing wonderfully.

Nick Bruzon

Here we go. It’s Millers time. And a challenge for any wannabe Rasmus (or the real one…)

4 Aug

Let’s keep this brief today and cut to the chase. There’s a game this afternoon!! Get in!! Oh, I can’t wait. Brentford host Rotherham United as Championship football returns to Griffin Park once more. I’ve woken up to the news that Ryan Woods is still, currently, a Bee whilst I must offer huge thanks to Fulham (not a typo) after their fans bit spectacularly in response to yesterday’s #TotallyMawson piece. Bless. You have to love them. Well, you don’t but they are great value !  If you have two mins, do check out some of the comments where we were only ‘not a London club’ short of a full house in bitter bingo.

But we digress. 3pm is the time. Griffin Park is the place. Rotherham the visitors. Always sad when they are sans Steve Evans but, nonetheless, it still promises to be a great occasion. Although let’s step back. If anything, 2pm is the time. Specifically, as we’ll then get the first look at Dean Smith’s Brentford team. The 2018/19 version. Who starts? Will there be a place for Ryan Woods? Is Neal Maupay fit? Might Marcus Forss be thrust into the first XI? Which of the news signings will feature? Who from the environment of leaders, not followers, will be given the captain’s armband?

Questions, questions, questions. I can’t answer them. Any of them. I’m just the numpty on the terrace yet it is this anticipation, this excitement, that sees yours truly sitting here at 9am, already wishing the clock was another six hours further forward and kick off was here. Whilst the World Cup was incredible, there’s nothing like that pre-match build up for the first game of the season to really get the blood pumping.

Beyond that, I can’t say much more. We went out for a few drinks last night and then took a stroll back from Kew to Brentford, via Griffin Park. What a sight. Whilst it very much felt like calm before the storm, just the feel of being in the shadow of those floodlight pylons was enough to get me buzzing once more about what is to come today. And I really can’t wait. As may have been mentioned more than once this week. Sorry.

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Griffin Park – the night before the morning after

If you are coming to the game, its already shaping up to be a hot one in TW8. Slap on those shorts, sunnies and factor 50. And your brown/orange away shirt – its never too soon to give one of the Championship’s best ‘change’ kits a run out. Even if we won’t be using it in the league until next week and the trip to Stoke City.

The match day programme also includes the return of the ‘Park Life’ column  (not quite sure how that happened but there you go….) where the World Cup and the rest of best – and not so good – Championship kits come under the microscope.

Aside from that piece, the programme also offers quality content and you can read about that on ‘official’ .

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Otherwise, aswell as the Fulham fans I’d also like to offer thanks to all those Bees who have entered the ‘Last Word’ Fantasy Football competition. If you fancy yourself as having a Rasmus style eye for talent or picking up a Premier league bargain then you can sign up on the official FPL site, which is here. Incredibly, over 40 of you already signed up on day 1. Wow. I’m in shock. Thank you. The  league details are below and everyone is welcome to see which of our Bees fares the best.

That said, I’m still desperately hoping to get co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen involved. I’d love to see which top flight players his system would pick. And how they’d fare. If anyone sees him today, please have a word. And Rasmus, if you ARE reading (unlikely, but….) how about it ?

Until then, there’s nothing else to say beyond – see you there and enjoy the game.

FPL Last Word code

Or if you prefer to copy/paste : 707088-156816

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

 

Fulham jump the shark, West Bromwich Albion go classy and Brentford get ready to go. Again.

3 Aug

This time tomorrow Brentford fans will be waking up and looking forward to a visit from Rotherham United. Stranger things have happened. We’ve news of an old boy which, whilst great for him on a personal level, has seen a new low in social media hashtag use. Newsflash: it wasn’t us! Even if we should be worried by Swansea topping up their bank account. And with the season upon us Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion have released their respective away/third shirts. It would be fair to say that there is a marked contrast….

First up, as ever, Brentford. There’s not much more we can say about Saturday’s clash with Rotherham. The good news, at least on the surface, is that Ryan Woods is part of our squad. When the numbers were announced yesterday, there he was at number 15. Dean Smith used his pre-match press conference to note that: “There is speculation with Ryan Woods around bids which we have had. He was a little bit stressed about that, hence him being off for a couple of days but he was back today”.

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Dean doing his press conference thing on Twitter. Flip flops optional

No surprise there, given all the rumours that had been circulating about Swansea although one does have to fear for the player’s future at Griffin Park. Bid confirmed as in and the quantifying statement then made that, “Players come in and players move on; that’s just the way the football world works. The stability we have within the club helps with those transitions. We feel there’s a calmness about the place.”

Take from that what you will. As noted in the previous column, I’d love Woodsy to stay. The flip side being that should he and the club decide the future does lie elsewhere, then it will just have to be case of putting faith in the decision made. On the plus side, Neal Maupay is back in training although not confirmed as to whether he will be available for selection as yet. Certainly, it came over as Dean keeping his cards close to the chest and saying lots whilst telling us nothing. Roll on 2pm and that first team being named.

Next up, Fulham. Specifically the news that they have signed former Bee Alfie Mawson from Swansea for a fee that could rise to as much as £20m. Hmm, now what might they do with the spare cash…? In terms of a signing, you can’t knock the talent. We all know how well Alfie has done since leaving Griffin Park for Barnsley whilst last season’s performances were one of the standouts of an otherwise woeful season for his former employers. Indeed, they saw many calling for him to be included in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.

Whilst I would, perhaps, draw exception to his observation that “Over the moon to have signed for such a big club and very grateful for the opportunity” one can’t deny that Fulham are in the Premier League (for now). Even if Neal Maupay did his very best to destroy that dream. Yet it wasn’t that which really drew the eye but a new level of cringe in the hashtag front.

We all know clubs use these with varying levels of success. Usually none. Whilst our own #BeeTheDJ is a perennial favourite, we’ve also fallen wide of the mark on many occasions. Copy/paste standard paragraph about: #trophyfriends #bignewambitions #novemberkings. Urghh, trophyfriends.

Likewise, I still have to surpress the bile at the thought of Newcastle United and their own adoption of #JoinTheRafalution when our own paths crossed the season before last.

Yet all of these fade into insignificance compared to the latest entrant to the hall of hashtag shame: #TotallyMawson . Just to clarify, that’s #TotallyMawson.  Why? What? Where’s the vomit emoji?

Again, no reflection on the player. Quite the opposite. I think he’s a wonderful talent. But from the club that brought you: The Neutral stand, clappers, ‘that’ statue, foam fingers, the gin bar and run out music – for the warm up, we now have another entrant to the pantheon of awfulness that is the Craven Cottage fan engagement bureau. Anything but totally awesome, dude. The sound of grown-ups trying to be down wiv da kidz.

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Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! A great signing but a new low in hashtags 

From the awkward to the awesome. New season kits. Whilst I’ve done our brown/orange away to death now, it has been interesting to see other clubs releasing theirs over the summer. I’m not going to overly elaborate on the subject for now – if for no other reason than the club have given yours truly a second series of ‘Park Life’ in the match day programme. Amongst the topics under discussion in the Rotherham United edition include the best/worst of the sartorial runners and riders in the Championship.

Large-2However, two clubs have snuck their latest entries out very much under the radar and at the 11th hour. Blackburn Rovers have launched an away kit that is just horrible. Bright yellow with black trim and a sponsor’s logo that is about as unsubtle and distracting as the #TotallyMawson hashtag. Totally awful, morelike.

West Bromwich Albion, on the other hand, have gone full retro with their third shirt. And it is an absolute stunner. Simply brilliant. If Brentford have been accused of going back to the 70’s then the Baggies have made no pretence whatsoever. This is full Cyrille Regis. This is incredible.

West Brom third shirt WBA

Great job, Puma. Especially use of the old school badge, too. For the record, something that Bristol City have done on their third shirt with the fan favourite ‘Robin’ badge. Could it perhaps herald a return for our own much loved Castle badge? How about the Funky Bee? Please, the Funky Bee….

Kitman Bob, Kurt, Chief Exec Mark Devlin or even Mr. Benham. If you are reading (unlikely, but…) how about it next time out?

The only downside about the West Brom shirt is the text across the middle. I’m still not sure if that is a sponsor or just a comment about the fan base. Still, it’s a small gripe. Great job. Here’s hoping we see this at Griffin Park later in the campaign.

Finally, we’ve actually had a number of competitors join the Last Word Fantasy Football league that was announced yesterday (not a typo). If you’d like to join in, then the action begins in earnest on Friday. You can sign up here and the league details are below. 

FPL Last Word code

Or if you prefer to copy/paste : 707088-156816

Until then, there’s nothing much else to say beyond the fact that actual football begins, again, this weekend. Bring on Rotherham and see you on Saturday.

I can’t wait ! 

Nick Bruzon

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

27 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cliff and Brentford jacket on full display

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

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

Nick Bruzon

The King of Spain reigns supreme at Griffin Park. Unprecedented joy follows a quite wonderful denouement.

26 Feb

Brentford 4 Rotherham United 2. A game that prior to kick off had promised goals and a guaranteed three points for the home side would look, by the scoreline, to have delivered just that. The headlines, quite rightly, will have been dominated by a quite wonderful performance from King Jota, whose joy enthused celebrations of his late hat-trick goals left everybody (the handful of Rotherham supporters aside) leaving Griffin Park with grins like split watermelons. Yet on a day where we commemorated 50 years since the doomed take over attempt by QPR, the Millers came so close to being consumate party poopers.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team

To be overly down on a four goal home win seems really odd. Yet Brentford were so, so sloppy for huge swathes of this game. The Bees started, with Romaine Sawyers seemingly in the ‘false 9’ position once more, at 100 mph. 85% possession in the opening period was rewarded by Jota’s first after what the papers report as 13 minutes (although if Kitman Bob is reading, I’m pretty sure the Griffin Park clock said 8) . It was a beautiful finish from a tight angle on the left and promised to be the precursor to a much anticipated opening of flood gates.

And then. Nothing. From shuffling around like disinterested zombie hoards, Rotherham United were slowly allowed back into it. The scoreline stayed 1-0 at half time as the game descended into League one style averageness. Sawyers was drifting so deep that he was more Josh McEachran replacement than filling in for Lasse or the Hoff. This isn’t his natural position and I do sympathise with a player thrust out of his comfort zone yet, at the same time, if you can’t handle it then let somebody else have a go. Let the head coach read the game. Really, Dean should have made changes quicker rather than Romaine coming in for more flack. When he was switched, look what happened.

Being honest, I was quite happy with the starting XI in the circumstances but once we’d got bogged down into high ball kick and rush then changes should have been made. Instead, Brentford allowed the visitors to equalise not once but twice. Our second goal, Nico bundling home a cross from Ryan Woods, should have knocked the stuffing out of a Rotherham team looking to grind out a draw. Instead, we gave them the freedom of Griffin Park.

Then, with the impressive Sergi Canos and the B-Team’s Justin Shaibu making their marks from the bench, Jota stepped up and did his thing on the 90th minute. The first, from the penalty spot, prompting ecstatic celebrations from the player, the team and the crowd. A few minutes later, he combined with Sergi to get on the end of a through ball from Sawyers (and when he does those, he does them so so well), to go around Lewis Price. With the former Bee scrabbling around in the mud, the King of Spain was as cool as you like to stroke it home.

Cue mayhem of an unprecendented style. Cue tears of regret from those who left early.

Even now, Sunday morning, I still have a huge smile on my face at the resultant celebration. An outpouring of pure joy. And that was just Jota. Truly, we are blessed to have such a talent in our team. It was a privilege to be part of that moment.

What a wonderful, wonderful man and yet, what incredible enthusiasm. Even Dean Smith told Billy Reeves at full time that the player had received a round of applause on entering the dressing room.

Aswell as the goal video (up on Sky now ; Beesplayer now below) do listen to BBC Billy’s interview with Dean. It’s interesting to hear his acknowledgement of our own improvement points from this one aswell, of course, as his own admiration for the super Spaniard and his “great balance” .

Fantastic Jota gets his first hat-trick for the Bees

What else can you say about this one?

Well, the club have rightly paid huge notice to the 50 year anniversary of QPR trying their little stunt and the incredible effort involved by supporters and players like in thwarting this. We’ve had all the build up to this game whilst on the day there was that wonderful banner and of course, the minute’s applause on the 67th minute. The timing of Rotherham’s equaliser proving somewhat unfortunate and one of those rare instances where there was more clapping from the home side than the visitors after an way goal had been scored. Only Brentford.

Equally, another big nod of recognition is due to Mark Chapman. This season’s match day programme has been given due credit on these pages before and likewise, the piece of work he and the team put together for yesterday’s game needs proper recognition. If you haven’t got one yet, do drop into the club shop to see if you can get your hands on a copy. It is well, well worth a look about an event that is such an important part of our history. There’s more than just QPR, though. Come for the history lesson; stay for the interview with Chris Wickham.

But we can only finish, once more, by offering a huge cyber hug to Jota. What a way to finish a game. What a way to grab a hat trick. What a way to pull Brentford out of the fire. What a way to send the fans home so very, very happy.

What a way to stick two fingers up to all those at Loftus Road.

Muchas Gracias to the king.

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Nick Bruzon

Will Rotherham provide an even bigger shock than at Leicester City? No chance. Here’s why.

25 Feb

Well that was a shock announcement. Not Premier League Champions Leicester City sacking manager Claudio Ranieri. Whilst something that everyone has an opinion on and which we will get to shortly, this column is primarily about Brentford. Yet with Rotherham United visiting Griffin Park this afternoon, could everybody’s favourite feature have taken it’s last breath? Of course, I’m talking about Kitman Bob’s BBGiveaway.

First up though, Rotherham United. One of my most hated phrases in football is ““With all due respect to….”” (i.e. none). See also : “We won’t underestimate them”. It is a phrase well known for meaning anything but and is one usually chucked out just before what is, on paper, a one sided ‘David v Goliath’ type game. A phrase used by pundits and managers alike, just in case the unthinkable happens. The equivalent of that legal arse covering we normally see when scandalous rumour is discussed, with the word ”allegedly” chucked in as a postscrtipt. For example, “I’ve heard that Mrs. Brown is actually a man in a frock. Allegedly.”

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Mrs Brown. A man. Allegedly

And so with Brentford scoring goals for fun at present, I should start by saying something like, “With all due respect to Rotherham United, we’re hoping for three points today”. But I won’t. It would be patronising and it would be a lie. I’m not hoping . I’m absolutely, fully expecting. All the better if it is a win served up with goals, goals, goals. At the very least I can see nothing but a home win and Rotherham’s miserable record continuing.

They are far and away the divisional whipping boys with a mere 17 points from 33 games and a horrific goal difference of -43. Minus forty three. Minus.Forty.Three.

The Millers are 15 points from safety. Effectively 16 if you consider that fourth bottom Bristol City have a GD of -6. Just to put that into context, this season Rotherham have picked up more managers (three) than away points (one). Club sponsors 888sport won’t even allow you to put a bet on them being relegated.

With Brentford now scoring from all positions and having found the net 12 times in the last five games alone, including 2 more in that cracking win at Sheffield Wednesday, I can see nothing but a home win today. Even without the likes of Harlee Dean and Josh McEachran we should still be far, far too strong. A manager as tactically aware as Dean Smith, with the resources at his disposal, should still have more than enough in the squad to put together a winning line up. I’m that confident, I’m betting on it. Purely for research purposes, of course.

Today’s other piece of football prediction comes courtesy of the BBGiveaway. Yes, the legend that is Kitman Bob returns today with everybody’s favourite pre-match competition.

Yet is it one tinged with possible sadness? His ’tweet’ (and, of course, you can follow him as Boblar. on Twitter) hints this could be his last giveaway. It even has the ‘scream’ emoji – Edvard Munch rather than Wes Craven.

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Bob is back with the BBGiveaway

Finger’s crossed that by ‘last one’ he simply means of his exclusive Adidas Jackets , rather than ‘ever’. Nobody needs a lecture from me about how popular Bob is or what a great job he does in engaging fans – both on the pitch and in social media. Here’s hoping that, like Roger Moore at the end of most Bond movies, BBGiveaway will return. Until then, don’t miss out on the chance to pick up this wonderful prize.

On a personal note, this has caused some serious decision making. The BBGiveaway has seen a standard call of Sam Saunders, 7 (seven) minutes. Whilst never winning, it came ‘that’ close in last season’s home win over Fulham. Just 61 seconds separated our opener and the closest I’ll ever get to taking the shirt off the great man’s back. But what do you do when your heroes move on?

Quite simply, get a new one. Whilst there’ll never be another Sam, he can’t get the opening goal for Brentford when he’s playing at Wycombe. And there IS still a Jota – albeit I feel somewhat disrespectful using Sam’s number. Perhaps 8 will be the new 7(seven)?

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Here’s hoping Bob emulates Roger. I’d still settle for a 007(seven) – 0 win

As for the other news of the week, Leicester City dispensing with the services of Claudio Ranieri, what can you say? Well, how about:  ”Deluded grandeur from the back room upstairs”.

They aren’t my words but those of ruby toothed Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall on Twitter (always worth a follow on Twitter , mainly for the unintentional comedy that comes with those who take themselves too seriously, if you can get past his security padlock).

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Not my words etc etc etc

Yet, and much as it pains me to say this, I have to agree with him. This is Leicester City; not Real Madrid. Have some perspective. Have some respect for the man who has provided the club their greatest moment and still has them alive (somehow) in the Champions League. Look at the dignity with which he continues to carry himself and the popularity he holds with supporters all over the football world.

Leicester City were never going to win the Premier League for a second time. Chelsea, Manchester City et al were caught with their pants down and it was wonderful to see the Foxes sweep them all aside. At a club like Brentford, where success has to be earned rather than bought, seeing the underdog triumph against all those big spending title contenders (and also Arsenal) was a wonderful breath of fresh air.

Seeing their manager now dispensed with in such cold and cruel fashion is a depressingly familiar one.

Ultimately, popularity doesn’t win you matches, goals do. Leicester City have failed to do that. Rotherham United have failed to do that. Can Brentford keep on doing it?

At 3pm, we find out. See you at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon