Can Lasse grab another pizza the action at Cardiff ? Brighton do Bees a favour.

8 Apr

Brentford travel to Cardiff City today. Brighton retook the lead in the Championship from Newcastle after despatching the Loftus Road mob last night (and do us a potential favour at the same time). And FourFourTwo magazine have published their list of the match day experiences at all 92 league grounds, ranked in order from worst to best . Coventry City, look away now.

First up Brentford. And we’ll keep this brief – I’ve got a train to catch. The trip to Cardiff represents an excellent chance to continue our rise up the table following three straight victories. The latest, our 2-0 win over Leeds United on Tuesday night, being one of the most complete Brentford performances seen in recent times. It really was that good. Romaine Sawyers, Harlee Dean, Sergi Canos and Lasse were amongst those taking the headlines but, in truth, we were wonderful to a man.

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Jota watches the action unfold against Leeds on Tuesday

The flip side to all of this was injuries to Nico and Ryan, which makes both of them unlikely to start today. Alan McCormack and KK being the obvious replacements and, if supplemented by Jota along with the aforementioned Sergi and Romaine that will still make a formidable five.

Expect an unchanged defence from Tuesday (Clarke, Barbet, Dean and Rico) with Dan Bentley between the sticks and Lasse leading the line. That is, on the assumption he hasn’t got his fingers burned in a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock. I think it fair to say he’s more than earned that midweek pizza.

With Brighton condemning QPR to another notch in the ‘L’ column last night, Brentford remain 6 points above our West London rivals with today’s game to come. Victory could see us rise as high as ninth although, of course, it won’t be easy.

Dean Smith’s press conference on Thursday included the very telling observation that, “ “Neil Warnock teams are very difficult to beat. He has them well organised and they will be up for every game.”

There’s no doubting Mrs Doubtfire has the Bluebirds flying once more since their early season flirtation with the lower end of the table. It won’t be easy but the chance to draw further ahead of QPR and close in on both Fulham and last season’s 9th place finish is a huge lure. Can we do it? See you at the Cardiff City stadium this afternoon when we find out.

And for those of you travelling, it you’d like some reading material for the journey (no, not the book i although if you would like to read more about the last three seasons…….)   then could I suggest the online version of FourFourTwo magazine. Specifically, the aforementioned stadium guide they published this week.

Whilst, admittedly, being somewhat out of date it does hit the mark in most places. Certainly, I’d baulk at our performance relative to some of the soulless enormobowls we’ve had the pleasure of visiting this last few seasons. After all, this is a survey of match day experience rather than stadium quality.

Then again, if ever the Lionel Road team need some inspiration then here is a chance to see what the magazine deem the best and worst in English football.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Newcastle United share a pain that Brentford know so well as Keith does his thing once more.

6 Apr

Keith Stroud. A name to strike fear into football fans up and down the land has done it again. Of course, at Brentford we are well aware of the card happy man in black’s past form. Now Championship table toppers Newcastle United are the latest club to fall foul of his obsession with random decision making in last night’s game with Burton Albion.

Who could forget the infamous battle of Bramall Lane? Rather than a League One promotion shootout between the Bees and Sheffield United, it was another game that turned into the Stroud show. “The maddest game of football that ever existed” said Mark Burridge after that one as it finished with three red cards shown, four penalties awarded and 12 players booked (8 alone in the first half). That the Bees came out of it with a point,despite playing most of the second half with 9 men, was more down to our own character than any protection from the referee.

It was a game which, to the casual observer, would suggest one akin to the titular battle. In reality it was nowhere close to that, with the hardest fought contest being that between Stroud’s ego and the frustration of both sets of supporters.

Whilst he’s never topped that moment in Sheffield, his name is one that still brings an almost audible wince of negativity (should such a thing be possible) whenever he is announced as a referee for a forthcoming game. His card ratio alone is, season on season, higher than just about any other official to take charge at Griffin Park . The current campaign has seen him show an incredible 171 yellows and sent off 12 players during his 39 games officiated. Only Uber have more bookings than Stroud, it seems.

Then, last night happened. With Newcastle United hosting Burton Albion in a league fixture (a phrase in itself which bears more than a moment’s consideration) they were awarded a penalty. With Matt Ritchie subsequently finding the back of the net for 1-0, Stroud struck. Social media went into meltdown as , for reasons unknown, rather than declaring the goal he chalked it off and gave a free kick to Burton.

This was later revealed to be for what Mr Stroud considered encroachment into the box by Dwight Gayle. Whilst the rules of the game dictate that the spot kick should be retaken in such a circumstance, Keith’s head and the rules of the game are not things that always see eye to eye,

Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake,” said a referee’s spokesman afterwards. Hmmm. Sorry about that folks. Imagine the furore had things then turned out differently to the eventual 1-0 home win for Newcastle?

I do feel sorry for Keith in many ways. To give credit, his recent performances officiating for Brentford have, by and large, been relatively restrained with no real controversy. He even changed his mind in our favour upon the advice of an assistant during the recent reverse at home to Wolves.  So we know he can do it. Unfortunately, there are so many games that see the other side of Keith.

The flamboyant flourish of a red card. The turning his back on a player he has just admonished. The random bookings and decisions offered out at a level not seen since Uriah Rennie. Yet he has been allowed to continue unchecked. Nobody has had a word and, instead, he has become almost a cult character. But for the wrong reasons.

People now expect bookings and oddity when Keith is in charge. People go into the game on edge. When he has a good one there’s a sense of relief more than a sense of pride. Season on season his statistics speak for themselves but no real action is taken to reign him in. Football isn’t that consistently dirty a game, except in Keith’s head.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

Equally though, last night bears additional scrutiny. This was no heat of the moment decision. This wasn’t a foul that needed to be replayed in the head. It was a basic rule of football that he got backwards in the most glaring of styles. But what about his assistants? Was no support given ? No advice offered? Or was this a case where Keith’s rule was law?

Let’s be clear, I’d hate to be a referee. Balls of steel and skin as thick as rhino’s are the pre-requisites. With players, journalists and fans all thinking they know better the ref is only ever on a hiding to nothing. He clearly loves what he does although, whilst I’d hate to see any serious sanction as a result, that’s no justification for allowing anyone to run around unchecked.

Will Keith ever change? Unlikely. Will the FA do anything? Expect a week’s demotion to the lower leagues and then business as usual.

Yet, out of all this, Keith may wake up this morning and look himself in the mirror. You never know. Perhaps this will be the catalyst that triggers some self-reflection and a reigning in of Keith the card.

We know he can do it. We’ve all seen him have good games. Why not just go back to being the anonymous man in the middle rather than the reputational nightmare he has allowed himself to become.

Can a leopard change his spots? You never know.

 

Nick Bruzon

Realm of the defence. Let’s not overlook magnificent Harlee and co.

5 Apr

The morning after the night before. No, it wasn’t a dream. Brentford really did beat Leeds United 2-0 and, whilst producing another performance of two halves, this time it was different. Wonderfully different.

Ordinarily the Last Word gets written having slept on things. Last night saw immediate thoughts penned upon the return home and prior to bed, such was the excitement at the way Brentford had outplayed the opposition. Whilst I stand by that post-match column, indeed if anything our attacking prowess in the first half was probably understated, we do also need to look more at the other end of the pitch.

Scoring goals is what ultimately wins football matches. That we only (and that word is used in the loosest sense) managed it twice is as much down to the performance of Rob Green between the sticks for Leeds. The likes of Sergi, Lasse and Romaine were magnificent as they pulled the strings and took the game to the visitors. From the off. It was as pleasing a first half of football as one could hope to see and the only disappointment, if we can be overly critical, was Brentford being contained to a ‘mere’ two goal lead.

Yet equally, we need to note the way Brentford played in the second half. As mentioned, it was a performance of two halves but that is meant in a positive way. If the first was non-stop attack, having taken that lead the second was as much about nullifying the opposition, trying to pick them off on the break and maintaining our advantage.

And for this, we need to pay due credit to our defence. All of them. The post match article noted the magnificence of Harlee Dean and the prowess of Dan Bentley when called upon. However, such was the excitement surrounding the win, the goals and the first half its almost as if these were taken for granted.

The pair of them have already been cited on these pages as being contenders for player of the season. Last night was further evidence as to why. Praise for Harlee on social media was unanimous whilst the Beesplayer team, including a return to Griffin Park for Sam Saunders, named him as their man of the match. Personally, I stand by my vote for Romaine in this one but it was a very tight call.

On that note, it was interesting to read Harlee’s own comments on his team mate, which you can find in full on Brentford ‘official’. Amongst other praise heaped at the midfielder’s feet he noted that, “He’s one of the most intelligent players I’ve played football with…I know his demeanour may look a little bit laid back, but he’s never out of position, never lazy. People have the wrong perception of him and he’s slowly changing it. He’s one of the best players in the team.”

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Harlee says and does his thing on ‘official’

As for Dan Bentley, do we just accept his brilliance as the norm these days? He rarely, if ever, puts a foot wrong and last night was yet another example. It already feels as if he’s been here for ever whilst I recall at least three solid, solid saves that helped ensure there were no heart in mouth moments as we reached the closing stages.

Remember the worry many of us felt when it appeared clear over the summer that David Button was on his way? Nobody could deny how his own game had progressed at Griffin Park yet to see his own performance last night as Fulham went down 4-2 at Derby was a perfect demonstration of the gap between who we had and who we have. Whilst, ordinarily, I wouldn’t direct anybody towards Fulham, in this instance their own highlights reel is worth a watch.

Josh Clarke made the absence of Maxime Colin look like an irrelevance. Don’t under estimate the Frenchman’s talent or the just how ably Josh filled in for him. Rico Henry again showed how the stats computer identified him as a transfer target ( I do wonder if ‘former Dean Smith player’ is one of the variables currently programmed into it) whilst Yoann Barbet gave a further demonstration of the centre back talent at Dean’s disposal. With two full internationals in Andreas Bjelland (Denmark) and John Egan (Republic of Ireland) waiting to recover from injury to try and reclaim their places, I don’t envy anyone having to keep those four happy.

It’s no wonder Dean persisted with the ultimately doomed three centre back experiment for so long and the summer transfer window could be an interesting one. Given our propensity to sell when the price is right, are two out of four really going to be happy spending so much time on the bench? Hey, its a lovely problem to have.

In all of this, we’ve not mentioned Nico or Ryan, both of whom limped off early with injury. Here’s hoping this was nothing more than precautionary with a third game in eight days upon us at the weekend. Whilst the eyes are naturally drawn to the excitement of a Sergi or Jota , lets not forget what a solid yet often understated job this pair do in the middle of the park.

So often this season Ryan Woods has had to cover the space of two or three men as the midfield struggled to fully flow whilst who could forget the stick Nico came in for from many of our keyboard warriors at the start of his Griffin Park career? That seems a long, long time ago now and is testament to his self-belief, perseverance and talent.

So yes, it was an incredible first half. It was one of those that will go down in memory. Yet, as importantly, perhaps the relaxed looking, comfortable and totally in control second period is the one we should really be purring about now that the dust has settled on that result.

I have no doubt it was anything but relaxed for the players , who gave their all. But at no point did it feel as though Leeds were in with a chance of taking anything out of this.

Whichever part of this performance you celebrate. Whichever player was your vote for man of the match. Whichever way you look at it. This was as complete a team performance over ninety minutes as one could hope for.

Very well played, team. Spot on from Dean.

Smith, that is.

On a day that started with the B-team scoring 7(seven) goals, it ended with the first team in seventh heaven.

Roll on the weekend.

Nick Bruzon

Romaine and Sergi lead a full frontal assault as Bees do it to Leeds, again.

4 Apr

Another game, another 2-0 win for Brentford. This time Leeds United taking the place of Saturday’s Bristol City. It was a game that started in similar style to the visit from the Robins although one which, if anything, put one more in mind of the home encounter with fellow high flying visitors Brighton. As with the Seagulls, Brentford took a two goal first half lead but, this time, there was to be no reprieve for the promotion chasing side.

Poor Leeds United. Their form against Brentford hasn’t been great in recent years. The eight League games since the 2009/10 League One campaign have seen things go very much in our favour.

This one was no different and now sees us well ahead of our illustrious rivals with a record that reads : P8 W3 D4 L1 in favour of the Bees. Indeed, looking purely at the Championship, this was a third win from our six games. Not bad for a team considered ‘tin pot’ when paths first crossed. Even Marinus Dijkhuizen took a point from Elland Road last season (not a typo).

But Tuesday night felt additionally special. The table doesn’t lie and Leeds, spearheaded by the goalscoring prowess of Chris Wood, have been one of the Championship’s form sides as they’ve locked down that play-off place. So to see Brentford take them apart so clinically in that first half was a thing of beauty to watch unfold.

Sergio Canos was devastating down the left flank whilst Romaine Sawyers magnificent as Brentford came flying out of the traps in a full frontal assault on the Leeds back line. Despite the heroics of Rob Green, Brentford scored two deserved goals in the first half with Canos having a hand in both. The first seeing his shot parried out to Romaine Sawyers who had no right to shoot, let alone score, from that wide out across the face of goal. Sometimes, its all about the precision.

The second came from another Canos shot. This time falling kindly for Lasse Vibe who made no mistake after having seen an earlier chance drift agonisingly wide.

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View for the Braemar: We’ve got that Vibe (I know, I know)

Yet at 2-0 up and having dominated, the big question was whether Dean’s team would cruise home, go for broke or give us one of those half and half performances we’ve seen from time to time. Then, of course, was the Garry Monk factor. Surely he’d have launched a half time rocket up the backsides of his own team? Brentford fans strapped themselves in and waited. But nothing happened.

Rather than launch a Blitzkrieg assault Leeds remained contained. There was to be no Brighton style comeback. Instead, it all felt a bit Bristol City. Sure, United probably dominated possession a bit more in the second period but, realistically, never threatened. Harlee was magnificent, as was Dan Bentley when called upon, whilst Sawyers produced one of those wonderful defence splitting passes that only he can to free Lasse. A third might have spoiled us but nobody would have complained had the Great Dane found the back of the net once more.

Instead, we had to be content with a cameo from Macca which included a booking within 7(seven) minutes, another clean sheet and another 3 points.

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Jota and a floodlit Griffin Park – wonderful from any angle

That’s three wins in a row now for Dean Smith’s team as we climb 6 points clear of QPR and within 8 of Fulham. With games against both still to come, the title of Championship kings of West London still remains very much up for grabs.

Likewise, Dean Smith’s team are now just a win away from the 9th place we ended last season in and, whilst a run to the play offs is probably a dream too far (we’re ten points behind with 6 games left) emulating that previous finish has to be the very least of our aspirations. Certainly on this sort of form.

To overly single out anybody from what was a hugely impressive team performance would be unfair. Yet, by the same virtue, due credit to Romaine Sawyers. He’s had his critics over the season and, at times, can be the most incredibly frustrating player to watch. Equally though, when he does what he can do then there’s nobody you’d rather have in the side. Don’t forget also that this is a huge step up from League One.

Our players are only going to improve the more gameplay they get at this level. See also Rico Henry who,despite his slender build, has taken to this team like a duck to water. Oh to see what he can do when he hits the ground running at the start of next season.

That’s then, this is now. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Next up is Cardiff City away on Saturday. Despite their own mid-season flirtation with the bottom sides, the Bluebirds now find themselves just two places and four points behind the Bees. Whilst a repeat of the miracle at Burton on our last road trip is probably too much to hope for, carry on playing like we have done and Fulham might be looking nervously over their shoulders.

For now though, let’s just savour the moment. Take a look at Sky where the goals are already up . Then, when the morning comes around, really enjoy the full fat Burridge version on YouTube.

Well played Brentford. You were wonderful tonight.

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Buzzette was up for it from the off.

Nick Bruzon

Bees got that vibe as that man beats Robins.

2 Apr

Another Saturday, another win. Brentford eased past a hapless Bristol City side 2-0 as though they weren’t even there. And in truth, for most of their first half showing, they weren’t. It was another game where we were left waiting for the consummate 90 minute performance. That’s no criticism. Perhaps with the game well safe and Tuesday night’s visit from Leeds United in mind, one can understand us slipping back down into cruise control. At the end of the day, Clive, Dean Smith will rightly point to a clean sheet, a dominant (if somewhat restrained) display, two goals and a clean sheet. And I defy any fan to tell me they wouldn’t have taken that if offered before kick off?

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View from the Braemar – Romaine Sawyers got stuck in to City (c/o Tim Griffiths, thanks!)

As ever, get your full fat match reports on the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. Those of us that were there would have seen a game that was never in doubt from the off and was all but wrapped when Lasse Vibe doubled the scoreline on 26 minutes. This, after Sergi picked up where he’d left off at Burton Albion.

The spaniard’s opener one that Brentford fans were relieved to see in more ways than one after Joe Bryan had scythed through the wing wizard leaving him prostrate in agony. For a while it looked like our man of the moment was in all sorts of trouble. “I heard that one from up here”, one observer at the back of the Braemar Road would later note. For those of us on the touchline, right in front of where the incident occurred, there were most definitely hearts in mouths

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

Lasse Vibe soon made it two, heading home from a ball that was fired forward into the box, flicked up as it continued it’s journey to the back of the bet and finally steered home by the Great Dane. It was due reward not only for the Brentford faithful as for two IFK Göteborg fans who had come across to see their former favourite in action.

Interestingly, Lasse’s own own strike rate in Brentford colours of 0.367 (25 goals in 68) is now just behind that of Andre Gray on 0.38 (18 in 47). However, to see just how prolific he has been (Will Grigg supporters, please take note of this true definition of ‘on fire‘) , Brentford official nailed things wonderfully.

After that, we were all expecting it to be a question of how many Brentford chose to inflict upon the visitors. Instead, as the one-sided first half came to an end,  we sat back and waited for Leeds United. Sure, City hit the bar and the post in some rare sorties but, in truth, they could still be playing now and one can only imagine they’d have struggled to hit a barn door with a proverbial banjo. They really were that far out of their depth.

As ever, Sky TV have the video highlights up already. Alternatively, the official highlights are longer, have the commentary from none other than our own Mark Burridge and, more importantly, are now available to all.

We’ve got that Vibe. And that Canos. And Mark Burridge

Outside the ground, there was a stranger than usual vibe. Choruses of  “No surrender, No surrender to the IRA” ringing around the beer garden of The Griffin in a somewhat unusual choice of prematch song from Robin’s supporters. Seriously? In 2017 this one seemed about thirty years past its sell by date. Likewise, whilst perhaps more understandable, there seemed to be a lot of agitation towards Bristol Rovers. This is Brentford. Who? Cares?

As the aforementioned Braemar Road observer would also note – “How bad do things have to be that you hate, actually HATE, Bristol Rovers?” . A team about as inoffensive to most as pink unicorns or the Care Bears.  Despite the divisional gap (for now) it did seem as though they had somewhat of a huge inferiority complex. Yeah, we get it. You hate Bristol Rovers. Yawn.  Then again, geography counts for a lot. An awful lot. Perhaps Rovers being to City as Mrs Brown and her boys or the Loftus Road mob are to yours truly.

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City supporters in happier mood at full time, despite sliding down (the table)

Oh well, perhaps they can sort it out amongst themselves in League One next season. That’s assuming City aren’t overtaken, of course. With Rovers just two wins away from the League One play offs, there’s only one point separating fourth bottom City from the relegation places in the Championship. As for Brentford, we’re up to twelfth and the knowledge that a win over Leeds United on Tuesday night could see us back in the top ten.

Beating Leeds United will be a huge ask, of course. But their own defeat to play-off rivals Reading yesterday shows it is possible, despite the goal scoring prowess of Chris Wood. With a place in the play offs all but assured, can we use this one to continue our own upward trajectory? The Bees are three points clear of QPR and Fulham have to be next in the sights. With games against both still to come, the crown of Championship kings of West London (one worn by the Bees last season) is still, mathematically, up for grabs.

If anybody was in any doubt as to what we still have to play for, Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge summed things up perfectly once the dust had settled . “Still lots to play for, another top 10 finish & win the derby games – so much to look forward to for Brentford FC fans next season too” he opined on social media.

Well said, Mark. With just 7(seven) games to go, the season still has plenty to offer. On Tuesday night at Griffin Park we find out how much.

Nick Bruzon 

Belated birthday greetings to a legend as April offers goals, derbies and more.

1 Apr

And relax. The weekend is here. Peter Gilham is here. Bristol City will be here at 3pm this afternoon as Brentford look to pick up where we left off before international break. April, weak jokes and, on a totally unrelated note, Fulham and QPR are all here. Of course we have a pair of West London derbies to come with the Loftus Road mob visiting the club they failed to take over 50 years ago before we head up the road to Craven Cottage. That, of course, a game with the wonderful potential to try and put a huge dent in the host’s own play off hopes. If they haven’t already shot themselves in the foot, of course.

But with due respect to Bristol City, Fulham et al we can only start with Peter Gilham. Yesterday saw the incredible occasion of his 70th birthday. 70? ! Peter Gilham is 70. I’m sorry but I just can’t believe it. What fountain of youth is he drinking from? Were it not for the fact that I’m now in my own fifth decade of supporting the Bees (first game in 1979), I wouldn’t believe it. But , of course, Peter has been around since long before that.

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Peter Gilham – as seen in 1989’s ‘100 years of Brentford’ book

He is the living embodiment of the club. He’s still as enthusiastic as ever whilst performing his match day ‘man-with-the-mic’ duties although, as the years have progressed Peter has added a lot more dead pan humour to his delivery. Woe betide any off-target centre circle challenge participants, snapchat users (whatever that is) or tardy substitutes.

We all know him. We all love him. Peter has done just about every job at the club, barring caretaker manager. And whilst Dean Smith is carving out his own place in Brentford history at present, it wouldn’t be a shock to anybody outside of TW8 if, one day in the future, even that happened.

I can still hear the introduction to our own pre-internet telephone information line as Peter would announce in his ever dulcet tones, “Hello. And welcome to Brentford club call”. Then proceed to spin it out as the call box down the road ate through my coins with all the voracious appetite that a premium rate phone line would. Or am I getting mixed up with ‘chatback’?

These days, Peter’s calling card is “A little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock’”. The more goals Brentford score, the more enthused he becomes as what should be the most cringeworthy and toe curling of sponsorship announcements is already becoming part of club folklore. Forget the pizzas, its all down to the delivery. And when it comes to delivery, Peter is first class.

Belated birthday greetings Peter. Here’s to many more. I can’t wait to hear you on the Lionel Road P.A. system….

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter, Buzz and Buzzette. The epitome of cool

As for today, its non-stop. Prior to the visit from Bristol City, we’ve got the Bees Fan Zone in Watermans Park. Just a short walk from the ground, this is always a fantastic event for our younger fans and I’d urge you all to get along. Brentford never fail to pull out the stops as a family club and this is yet another example of how well we treat our younger fans. Full details are on Brentford ‘official’.

And then we have Bristol City. Win, lose or draw about the one thing I’d bet the mortgage on(purely for research purposes) is that this one has goals in it. Brentford have been on fire since the end of January and the five goal comeback against Burton has fast overtaken the 4-1 win at Fulham (you know, when Stuart Dallas did that thing….) as many supporters’ favourite away game in recent times.

Team selection remains a tricky one today. If only for picking out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to genuine news v April Fool’s jokes. Jota out for 9 months? Sure…. Peter Gilham 70….?

I don’t envy Dean this one. Despite the wonderful news about Alan Judge signing a new contract he’s not match fit. With Jota, Lasse and Sergi chomping at the bit for another taste of the net, everybody else will have to fit around them. Good luck with those first goal scorer bets. Yet, by all accounts, the Bees were as horrific in the first half at Burton as we were simply incredible in the second. Do onconming subs Alan Mac and Nico retain the berths occupied by Romaine Sawyers and KK at the start of that one? Does Rico Henry walk back into the team ahead of Tom Field? How is John Egan’s head injury after his midweek exertions for Ireland?

Whomever Dean starts, let’s hope it ends with Peter Gilham having a very sore throat and more plugs for that little Italian restaurant. By Brentford lock.

As for the rest of the month. I saw a graphic yesterday advertising all the footballing treats awaiting the armchair viewer in April. All well and good, but nothing beats the thrill of a West London derby.  The prospect of hosting QPR followed by a trip to Fulham just a week later is a tantalising one.

April fixtures

Championship life has been nothing but exciting and those two games represent yet another wonderful example of why it continues to enthral us.  I’d rather be at those games than sat at home watching Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and those other apparent big names.

Brentford may not have Ibrahimovic, De Gea, Neymar, Messi and whomever Arsenal’s marquee players are. And? We’ve got Jota, Harlee, Sergi, Ryan.

Plus, of course, Peter Gilham. Here’s to 3pm when it starts all over again.

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Don’t forget the Fan zone prior to kick off

Nick Bruzon

Who are kings of the 888Sportderby? An honour for John and a gut busting revelation from the BBC archives.

29 Mar

Finally. We inch that bit closer to the return of Championship football. Brentford host Bristol City on Saturday in a game that most definitely has the whiff of goals about it. (So 0-0, then). Elsewhere our 888sport stablemates Nottingham Forest and Preston North End complete this season’s sequence of #888sportderby games when Mark Warburton’s team visit Deepdale. But who out of the Bees, Forest, North End and Birmingham will be lifting the trophy, should one exist, as ‘home international’ style champions? And (crowbar alert) talking of internationals, there was great news for John Egan last night as he made his debut for the Republic of Ireland. Plus, a disturbing discovery from the BBC historical archives that could blow the lid off everything we know and love about football.

First up, the final #888sportderby of the season. We’ve all seen the hashtags used on Twitter to promote games between the four teams that share a sponsor but who has come out on top when you tally them all together? Well, with just the aforementioned game to come, by my very rough calculations (and if anybody would like to redo the maths then please be my guest), Brentford are now uncatchable.

Doing the double over Nottingham Forest, combined with a win apiece against both Birmingham City (a) and the 5-0 home hammering of Preston sees us on 12 points from 6 games. That’s 4 points clear of North End who can only affect the table tomorrow by administering such a trashing it that it sends Forest below basement team Birmingham by means of goal difference.

Congratulations to Dean Smith on his first piece of silverware, albeit a totally fictional one. And if our club sponsors are reading (they’re not), how about a trophy with our name on it ? Its the least you could do after all those hashtags.

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The ‘as it stands’ 888sportderby table. Hashtag

Next up, the Republic of Ireland. I didn’t see it although, to be fair, I don’t think many people over here did. The game apparently buried on a channel even more obscure than BT Sport. Indeed, I saw one ‘blue ticked’ journalist whose own synopsis of the match was seemingly based on listening in to the local radio station.

So, as ever, there’s no match report on these pages. Instead, simply a huge congratulations to John for being the latest to join the list of Brentford players to have had the honour of representing their country. Whilst the Republic may have gone down (1-0) I have no doubt this will be the first of many for John. Certainly, if his club form is anything to go by.

And finally, the BBC. Regular readers will know of my love for footballing traditions. The orange ball in the snow, goals being celebrated by the roar of the crowd rather than a snatch of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis or, indeed, ‘goal music of any sort and, of course, the daddy of then all – vidiprinter brackets. The sort that appeared on Grandstand – now the Sky Sports scrolly thing and other such programmes – to show when a team had scored 7(seven) goals.

Likewise, and as we all should know, the correct usage of brackets is with the subsequent text in lower case. 7(seven) rather than 7(Seven) or the somewhat brash preference of Sky, 7(SEVEN). So far, so good. We all know the drill even though, and it is incredible to think, not everybody agrees with the 7(seven) format.

No problem. With little Brentford activity this week, and in need of distraction, I started to sniff around the BBC archives. (Or YouTube). Specifically to lay this one to rest. What I stumbled across has left me reeling.

1984. Grandstand. A triple horror. Sheffield United earned the honour of a score clarification after six goals. Yes, six. Worse, it was in block capitals whilst there are no brackets. No. Brackets. What’s all that about? Score quantification shouldn’t begin at 6, surely? It is one of football’s most fundamental rules.

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All kinds of wrong with 6 SIX

Perhaps this was just a glitch in the matrix. Further digging leads us to a 1987 clip. Again, Grandstand. This time, there appears to be some form of cross-pollination. Nestled in amongst the football action on the vidiprinter were rugby scores (and, to be clear that’s the proper sort – Union). But regardless of the game’s clear superiority over League, even I wouldn’t have expected to see it in a football update. Why not just include the table tennis and horse racing updates (the other two staple events covered by mid-80s Saturday afternoon sport) ?

But if you are going to include rugby (union) at least get it right. NOTTINGHAM 62 PTS NORTHERN 7.

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No better in 1987

7? 7? With Rugby. This is wrong. All wrong. And why PTS for just one of the teams?

At the point, I gave up.A broken man. Instead, let’s just hope that with Brentford on fire, we put 7(seven) past City at the weekend. At least, that way, the BBC have the chance to right a historical wrong.

Nick Bruzon

This is one mother I never want to see again. Mrs Brown is no alternative to Brentford.

26 Mar

Sunday 26 March. Mother’s Day. Mothering Sunday. Not a day for Championship football or Brentford, although purely due to the ongoing Intenational fixture list that saw Gibraltar go down in Bosnia last night and England hosting Lithuania this evening. Yet with the boys from the Rock kicking off at 5pm, and no highlights to show from Griffin Park later on, there was a gap in the TV schedule last night that could only be filled by one thing. BBC1, 9.15pm and a new series featuring everybody’s (I beg to differ) favourite Irish mammy. Yes, it was time for : All Round to Mrs. Brown’s.

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Mrs Brown. Tongue clearly not in cheek

Regular readers of this column will be aware of my ire when it come to Mrs Brown. And now, somehow,  (s)he had been given a prime time slot with a new twist – a chatshow / audience participation event although still keeping all the zany characters that, apparently, we know and love.

Genuinely, I don’t get it. I have tried before but, to be honest, the man dressed as a woman act died many years ago. Yet despite the baffling lack of genuine laughs, the awards keep coming Was I missing something? Had I served it a horrendous injustice in previous columns? There was only one way to find out. The answer was a categorical ‘No’.

To be fair, looking around cyberspace before hand , there was sufficient warning to watch something else. Likewise, when I shared this plan with one New Road wag his suggestion was a simple one, “Prime time to do something else.

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Warning came far and wide

But no, despite the scepticism I settled in. I wish I hadn’t. The theme tune sounding like something rejected from a 70’s sitcom as the composers of Terry and Mildred, assuming not dead, are now licking their lips at the prospect of a forthcoming royalties cheque. This, accompanied by lemming like ‘clapping along’ from an audience who must have been prozac’d up to their eyeballs to get them into the studio.

An opening ‘gag’ of crack/craic confusion brought tumbleweed to my sofa but the sycophants in Studio B lapped it up. There were definitely drugs involved  – that or  the BBC had just borrowed the laughter track (and jokes) from Last of the Summer Wine.

An old man asleep in an armchair chair (something which got its own laugh) then saw the audience in hysterics when Mrs Brown, gave him a ‘shower’; with a can of air freshener. Including, for which the audience reached its most tear screamingly manic, his groin. This, a moment not peaked until the subsequent reference to Delia Smith with a penis. All the in the first 135 seconds.

I just hope Cliff Crown washed his hands after their last boardroom encounter. Him and Delia, not Mrs Brown. (To the best of my knowledge Brendan O’Carroll’s not guested at Griffin Park before).

How about her (yes, I’ll play along) guests? Pamela Anderson and Judy Murray . The former limping through a flaccid script involving cup size (tea, of course) and David Hasselmuff that would have made Baywatch look like the complete works of Shakespeare.Before Scotland’s finest appeared, we then had a VT from obligatory Irish guest, Louis Walsh. The music mogul a man one suspects would turn up to the opening of an envelope and then provide obligatory reference to Simon Cowell.

Not even the wonderful Judy Murray was able to dignify this with any class, despite her best efforts.This is no reflection on her but more reference to a show which was the consulate example of the oft heard phrase,’You can’t polish a turd‘. Her on screen arrival being railroaded by a man dressed as a woman – this time Baywatch era Pamela

Smiling is over rated”, said Judy at one point. Watching this, I couldn’t agree more.

Roll on next week when the return of the Championship calendar and Football League Tonight on Channel Five gives us our sanity back. And that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.

All Round To Mrs. Brown’s is currently up on the I-player for another 29 days (should you be feeling masochistic).

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Poor Judy. And Pamela. And us

Nick Bruzon

Cliff crowns a great day which even ‘that trumpet’ can’t ruin.

25 Mar

With Friday’s column bemoaning the lack of Brentford related activity over the International break, it was another case of exquisite timing as the club confirmed later in the day that work has now begun at the Brentford Community Stadium site on Lionel Road South. Over in Dublin, John Egan was in the squad for the Republic of Ireland against Wales last night although a rogue musical instrument threatened to outdo even the much maligned (and rightly so) alleged band of the England supporters.

But first, Lionel Road. There’s not too much to add in regards to the Stadium announcement beyond a huge sigh of relief and gratitude at this latest news. It seems almost an eternity away since the club’s plans were approved by Hounslow council back in December 2013. The Bees were then in League One and Uwe Rosler was (technically) still our manager although his move to Wigan Athletic was coming somewhat quicker than ours to a new home. Indeed, looking back on the BBC report from the time it notes that, “The Bees hope to move to the 7.6 acre site on Lionel Road from Griffin Park for the 2016-17 season.

Of course, we have had further referrals and the CPO to go through since that point which have delayed proceeding somewhat. And whilst , at times, I can’t help but think of Lionel Road without the words “Monorail, monorail” going through the head, finally things are under way. There was another ebullient statement from Cliff Crown whilst, along with the article on Brentford official, a new website launched at brentfordcommunitystadium.com in which supporters will be kept abreast of developments.

The only slight downside about his news being the lack of obligatory photograph featuring Cliff, Mark Devlin et al leaning on shovels and wearing hard hats. But, given this current stage of the project involves clearing the site in preparation for the main build, perhaps this construction related favourite is still to come.

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It really IS happening.

The other Bees related topic from yesterday was, of course, John Egan’s selection for the Republic of Ireland. Whilst he had to be content with a place on the bench, this remains a huge honour and it can’t be long, surely, until he wins his first cap. With another home game scheduled for Tuesday, a friendly with the darlings of Euro 2016 Iceland, he may not have long to wait. Here’s hoping that fully deserved honour comes John’s way imminently.

One thing that armchair viewers won’t be hoping for is a return of ‘that trumpet’. Far be it from me to criticise another nation’s culture and perhaps this is well received part of their International game. Personally, my own belief is that, much like goal music, spectator performed musical instruments should not be allowed anywhere near a football stadium. Whatever the form.

The list of offendors is a well travelled one. Who could forget the sound of the Vuvuzelas from World Cup 2010? About the only positive to be gleaned from England’s ineptitude in that one being that an early exit spared domestic supporters being obliged to put up the droning cacophony.

Then there’s John Westwood. The self proclaimed Mr. Portsmouth. Him in the stove pipe hat, wooden teeth and dreadlocked fright wig whom the cameras seem contractually obliged to make a beeline for whenever Pompey are on TV. He looks like he needs a good wash down with some bleach and a wire wool brush (think  – Russell Brand and his spray on perm-wear leather effect trousers)  whilst the noise, with that incessant ringing of a hand bell or use of a trumpet, must mean that season tickets in the near vicinity come with a health and safety warning.

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Can’t give Westwood the full oxygen of publicity. Bell. End of.

But, of course, the prime offenders are the alleged England supporters alleged band. Regular readers know the drill at this point. If you want the usual rant about the stale, off key parping and flat renditions of jingoistic greatest hits from Bernie Clifton and his uninvited cuckoos in the nest then you’ll find it here (along with a lot more nonsense).

They’ve always been the low point. Until now. And the lone trumpet at Ireland’s Aviva stadium. Who was it? Why was it? How can a solitary instrument cut so clearly through what was, by all accounts, a fervent and vocal crowd.You’d have heard this thing above a jumbo jet taking off. It was so shrill that, by all scientific fact, only dogs should have been able to hear the bloody thing.

Yet here it was. Clear as day. As annoying as Westwood guesting in the England ensemble with a vuvuzela. If there’s one thing that’s good for unifying football fans it’s hatred. Not of each other but of wind instruments.

And this was the consummate in unwelcome hot air. Not even the sound of Jota’s refrain could lift this into the realms of acceptability.

Matthew Benham has already made it quite clear that goal music will never, ever happen in his time. Let’s hope the ban extends to trumpets when Lionel Road is complete.

Nick Bruzon

Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

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FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

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(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon