Tag Archives: 2016

Crazy transfers, spray on pants and the chance to win a cup tie

9 Aug

Brentford travel to Exeter City in the first round of the League Cup tonight, no doubt anxious to make up for last season’s humiliation at this stage when Oxford United were given the freedom of Griffin Park. Elsewhere, those of us with half an ear to the wider football grapevine can breath a huge sigh of relief at the news that the Paul Pogba to Manchester United saga is finally over. And Olympic fever is slowly taking hold in the Bruzon household.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The trip to Exeter City marks a chance for the Bees to start another attempt at a cup run after a  somewhat disappointing last couple of seasons. Capitulation in the FA cup against Brighton in 2014/15 was followed by last season’s no show at home to Walsall. As for the League Cup, who needs any reminder of the tie with League Two Oxford United?

Well, all of us do – just to make sure it never happens again. Dean, if you are reading (you aren’t)  I realise this wasn’t your fault but….

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

 

Marinus Oxford touchline

The Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band)

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Steve Austin – 0.5 of a Grabban

Nick Bruzon

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The kit is out and the dust has settled. Is it a winner?

23 Jul

What a day for kit news. Brentford released their 2016/17 shirt designs to the world.  Championship rivals Norwich City have entered the realms of greatness by recreating an already iconic kit in some style. Whilst, for those not already aware, Sheffield Wednesday have gone for a controversial look…

First though, Griffin Park. The kit is out and I have to say I love it. The home especially which I think is our best shirt in years. If Norwich have rolled back the years then it’s fair to say that Brentford have more than matched them on the history front. Echoing the mythical Adidas 80/81 design (seriously, does anybody have one?) fused with the Core 95/96 shirt, it also features an early 70’s round neck collar. Think Peter Gelson or Big John O’Mara (kids, ask your dads. Now !!).

Nico new kit

For sure it has a bit more white than red but that’s no bad thing in my eyes. We haven’t been afraid to mix it up in the past and, when offset with the black of the shoulder stripes, shorts and socks – looks simply stunning.

Besides, where does it actually say we need as much red as white? Well done to Matthew Benham, Mark Devlin and, of course, Kitman Bob Oteng for breaking the mould a little bit to come out with a wonderful effort.

Interestingly, looking on social media and the club wesbite last night, it seems that Bob is already starting to think about our next designs already. Do check his twitter feed (if for no other reason than the return of the legendary BBgiveaway this season) and interview on ‘official’ where he reveals:  “If we take the 2017/18 kit for example, I will start preparing for that in about six weeks’ time,”

Wow! 2017/18? I’ve not even bought this stunner yet and now there’s already another shirt to obsess about. Well Bob, if you are reading, I’ve got two words to say: FunkyBee.  Failing that, who doesn’t love a castle…?

One final thought on the home shirt. Whilst (in my eyes) it is an instant classic, I do understand that a few people might take a bit of time adjusting to the red/white ratio. If so, spare a thought for Sheffield Wednesday supporters.

Just as Brentford traditionally wear red and white stripes, they do the same in blue and white. Not this season though, where the home kit has gone so far in one direction that we’ll probably get to wear our ‘home’ colours at Hillsborough for the first time in decades….

Sheff Wednesday

Next up, the away shirt. I’ve never been a fan of a black change kit for Brentford. In my eyes, and perhaps it is a generational thing, blue is our second colour. Especially those wonderful two-tone efforts from the 80’s and 90’s.

Then, last season, Bob produced that incredible ‘third’ shirt against Blackburn Rovers and everything changed. Swoon – like a teenager with a crush I was back in love with that beautiful black.

So it was with great joy that we learned Brentford were giving it another go this time around. Having seen it, I think it looks great.Simple black with a bit of detailing and those classic adidas stripes.

My preference out of the two is undoubtedly the home shirt. That said, this is still a cracking effort. My main ‘problem’ being that last season’s third was just held in such high regard that it almost feels like ‘cheating’ to lavish equal attention on a new rival after finding a ‘best ever’ just months earlier.

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That’s just me. I need to get out more. Besides, opinions can change and, if I’m being honest, my gut reaction to last season’s blue was uber-positive before losing interest in that one very fast (then again, I blame the Blackburn, erm, black). The important thing is what supporters think and, almost universally, it seems to be going down a storm.

Personally speaking, I’ve had more time than most to get used to these having been afforded the opportunity to participate in the fans photo shoot a few weeks ago. I can only offer a huge thank you to the club for this chance, along with a huge apology to anybody of a sensitive disposition should panic about a possible new signing have set in when the pictures appeared.

Seriously though, along with Matthew’s letter yesterday it just showed, again, what we do for our fans. What a great idea to get some of them involved in the photo shoot alongside Harlee, Scott, Dan, Andreas, Nico and some local landmarks –  Betty from the Griffin looking good in particular . When Brentford get it right ‘off the pitch’ we are, hands down, the best club in the country.

Ok, Norwich City. I mentioned them at the top end of this article for the simple reason that, like us, they also released a new kit yesterday. This time, their latest ‘third’ shirt.

Sadly (for me), their Premier League status last season meant we were deprived of a ‘kit obsessive’ article although thankfully that will be remedied this campaign. However, had one been written you could be sure it would have featured the infamous 92-94 ‘bird poo’ shirt from Ribero.

Well, in exciting news (for kit nerds) it seems the Canaries have only gone and recreated it. In some style. This is just phenomenal.

Norwich third kit

Errea have made some stinkers over the years but I can do nothing but doff my hat to this effort. One can only presume there will be too much of a clash to see it in action at Griffin Park this season but we can live in hope.

It is vivd, glaring, still looks like a flock of rogue canaries with food poisoning have taken their best shot yet, at the same time, is absolutely wonderful. Moreso, the goalkeeper’s shirt which appears to be designed on hot lava.

I’m hoping that when our Adidas contract eventually expires we switch to New Balance (my only chance for a legitimate monogrammed tracksuit, being as the head coach role remains tantalisingly out of reach). That said, if Errea can keep up this level of shirt quality then maybe they could be one to keep an eye on in future…

My season ticket arrived yesterday and with it a booklet promising what I can presume was meant to say either ‘mouth watering’ or ‘eye catching’ fixtures. Instead, have we mixed our metaphors with a promise of what one terrace wag has pointed out is anticipated to be ‘eye watering’ football this season?

Perhaps though, in retrospect, they were bang on. Given those Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich efforts, this could be exactly what was meant.

season ticket

Nick Bruzon

Lasse, come home ! You’re going to look anything but a dog’s dinner.

18 Jul

Lorks”. Not my words but amongst those uttered by BBC Billy Reeves upon hearing the news that Brentford striker Lasse Vibe has been selected to represent Denmark in the forthcoming Rio Olympic games. Elsewhere, with all the gossip suggesting David Button could be on the move to Fulham (please, no) the Bees already know we could be lining up against a former goalkeeper this season. And there’s a further update on the new kit (those of a sensitive disposition may want to look away).

First up, Lasse Vibe. Wow. What an honour. The Olympics. Surely, selection for the games is at the very pinnacle of sporting achievement? The ultimate reward for dedication to a lifetime of training, clean living and hard work. Unless you are from Russia.

Seriously though, when the news broke today – published by Lasse on twitter and Instantgram – my first reaction was, like Billy, just one of immense pride and congratulations. Equally, one of torn emotions.

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Of course, the head will be hoping that the team of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (plus Channel Islands and other crown dependencies) sweep aside all before them but the thought of an Olympic gold medal at Griffin Park does have a certain resonance. And besides, Great Britain & NI won’t be participating in football this time around so Denmark can happily have that one.

The downside of this wonderful news is, of course, it means that Lasse will miss the start of the domestic season. With the Olympic final not taking place until 20 August, that could potentially rule him out of our first four Championship games. Who will support Scott Hogan up top? Would Scott and Lasse have started together anyway? Could this leave us short?

Whilst I’m sure Dean Smith will be thinking, “Lasse, come home” it would take the most churlish of supporters to wish him anything but the best and hope he returns with a gold medal in the back pocket.

And should Lasse make the final then it will take place on the same day Brentford travel to Rotherham (Rio or Rotherham, hmmmm). There, we could get the chance to test our shooting boots against none other than Lewis Price. The BBC report that he has signed a two year deal with the Millers. Here’s hoping that’s the last we hear about former Griffin Park goalkeepers being on the move.

The other news is that of our new kit. Specifically, and I apologise for flagrant self-promotion (which does feel a tad narcissistic ), given yours truly’s role in today’s latest ‘teaser campaign’.

Whilst most of us have seen various shots / perceived recreations of the new shirt doing the rounds of social media, I was fortunate enough to recently spend a morning at Griffin Park where, amongst other things, several supporters were given an early look at our new kit. And, I have to say, I love it.

Far be it from me to ruin any further launch surprise, beyond saying this : In my opinion, for what it’s worth, its our best home shirt in years – bold, distinct and with a bit of a retro vibe. I will be buying one. And, to be clear, I’m not on commission or the payroll.

Being equally honest, I can fully understand people’s reticence not to pre-order based on the teaser shots and the words of this kit nerd. Let’s just hope that when we finally get to see it in full, people like it as much as (personally) I think it deserves.

One fan’s ‘best ever’ is another’s ‘nightmare’. Who could forget the ‘prototype’ with the smudgy stripes that got booed all the way around Griffin park at the end of one season back in the 90s.

If we all liked the same things then life would be a very boring indeed? This time around though, I think we may end up very happy.

Nick Bruzon

Finally. The (kit) cat is out of the bag. New shirt details revealed

13 Jul

Sergio Canos breaking Brentford hearts by leaving Liverpool for Norwich City. The Aston Villa game put back a day due to their other, inevitable, television commitments. Dean Smith experimenting with his Mannschaft by playing three centre backs in the 1-0 win over Vfl Bochum. All mere side shows compared to the day’s BIG news – our first glimpse of the 2016/17 Brentford shirt after a series of pre-order images hit social media this afternoon.

So, what can we tell so far? Well, based on the handful of ’teaser’ shots released by the club – below – the home shirt certainly looks like it has the makings of being a classic.

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We can see at least two thick red strips and three thick white ones. Are there more? What about on the back ? We can see a round neck collar, 60’s style. We can see what looks like perforated, airtex style material on the shoulder blades. We can also see the traditional adidas stripes, in black.

A round white collar. This is a first for recent times. We almost got there on the 2006/07 Lonsdale produced shirt although it was a strange pleated affair . Prior to that it hasn’t been a visitor to the Bees shirt since the late 60s /early 70s.

The white/red stripes put me in mind of Core’s effort from 1995/96 although, thankfully, the shirt doesn’t look like it is made out of that somewhat lightweight material that picked up pulls and bobbles (at least on the fan replicas) just by looking at it.  Very much a case of Core’s light

As for the shoulder stripes, we’ve had black on white once before. Also Lonsdale, back in 2005/06 where, let’s just politely say, they paid homage to Adidas. Two out of three ain’t bad (stripes, that was) but we can only assume the shirt goes one better this time around.

2017 17 shirt imfluences

The latest images draw on our past

It’s what we can’t see that is as interesting. There’s no glimpse of the new shirt sponsor – confirmed as 888Sport and, for the record, also to be adorning the kits of Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City this season.

There’s no look at the side or under the arms. Could we expect more red there? Might we see further Adidas stripes – a look common to many of their MLS and international templates at present.

And there’s no look at shorts or socks,. Presumably black will be the colour of choice but I’m always a sucker for a white bottom half. Perhaps Mark Devlin and team will surprise us.

And talking of black, that’s the way we’ve gone on our away colours. At least, from the snippet afforded of that shirt. Plain black, a hint of horizontal pin stripe, another round neck  and the adidas stripes in white.

The shirts are already available on pre-order from the club shop. In my humble opinion, based on what we can see so far the club are on to a winner.

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Nick Bruzon

Glenn, Slovakia, Saint Etienne. So Tough, for England

21 Jun

England are through to the last 16 of EURO 2016. Wales topped the group. Russia are going home (presumably to huge cheers all round). Slovakia are now hanging on for other results after a peculiar brand of anti-football that, fair play to them, shut out Roy’s boys and leaves them waiting to see if third place can be secured.

Those are the headlines as group B came to a close for England in St. Etienne but there was so much more to it than that. Roy tinkered. Roy lost out.

It was a demonstration, if ever us Brentford fans needed another one after some of the Marinus era performances, that stats and possession don’t win games. Although, to be fair, at least England managed some shots (come on Bees fans, it’s all good now !). The BBC figures show how one sided a game this was in all but the key category – goals scored – as the match ended 0-0.

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BBC stats don’t lie….

 

Jack Wilshere was anonymous whilst Postman Pat after an all night ‘bender’ would still have offered better delivery than Jordan Henderson showed. In what seemed to be a wonderful atmosphere – so loud even ‘that band’ were drowned out for vast swathes of the game – England had the chances but just couldn’t take them. Any of them. Not even one.

Then there was Glenn Hoddle. Oh, for some level of decent co-commentary on ITV. Talking to one New Road observer during the game, his take on it was that Glenn had been replaced by a random sentence generator. Another, that Sacha Baron Cohen was filling in for him.

Whatever the answer, his performance was the normal drivel infused nonsense . “I think that’s a tactical move,” he observed after one substitution aswell as noting that “Sturridge has just had a mouthful.”

Glenn went on to explain how the lack of England’s ability to breakdown Slovakia was because “We’ve got all footballers out there at the moment”, with the solution to this being a call for Andy Carroll.

I could go on. Those are but a handful of the examples plucked at random although , equally, perhaps it is something that ITV are putting in the water. Over in the Wales  – Russia game  my sources tell me how Tony Pulis noted that, at 3-0 up, “Wales will be happy to stay in front here” .

Yes. Gareth Bale made it 3 goals from 3 to see his team top the group by a point after what seems to be a steamrollering of Russia. I didn’t see it, can’t comment but can only say “well done”.

Outside of all this, England ARE through. England remain unbeaten. They now face a last 16 game agasint the second placed team in Group F which, all things considered, could have been a lot worse on paper. Mind you, so should a game against Slovakia have been. On paper.

It will take a better man than me to call who Roy & co face next out of Hungary, Iceland, Portugal or Austria. The only thing I’d say for sure is that given recent history, what chance another encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo? He of ‘cheeky wink’ infamy.

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Ronaldo, a cheeky wink never too far away

It isn’t all doom and gloom, whatever you read.

It would have been wonderful to top that group and failure to breakdown a bus parking defence has cost England dear in that respect. Yet is it that bad?

Roy has ended the group stages happy. Indeed having dominated three games to such a level that he told reporters after the game, “That gives me some sort of satisfaction.”

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A Slovakian bus, parked. England couldn’t get past

 

For now, though, the most important task of escaping the group has been achieved. There’s a few day’s break until Monday, 8pm, when England ‘go again’.

Until then, there’s four more groups to play out and, of course, the release of the Championship fixtures tomorrow (Wednesday). For us Brentford fans, this will make a nice diversion and a chance to see how our next 9 months will map out.

Until Sky get the carving knife out…

For now, here’s St.Etienne….

St.Etienne. So Tough. Why do I bother….

Nick Bruzon

Can Greg, the FA and football figures follow PSV?

19 Jun

Not much to say today. Indeed, I wasn’t even going to bother until this crossed my desk. We’ve probably all had our fill of the non-football stories from the Euros.  England fans are being provoked – England fans have a minority of morons amongst 30,00 well behaved fans; Wales fans were brilliant – Wales fans were anti-England; French ultras and Russian thugs have been ruining the party for everyone . Likewise, the media circus following the throng and looking to magnify any incident out of all proportion.

Talking yesterday to an England supporter who had just returned to Brentford, the verdict was one of : there had been incidents, but they were easy enough to avoid and just enjoy the party if you wanted to.

All well and good. Unless you were there without an agenda, few will be in a position to make a full judgement about the relative innocence/guilt of the respective sets of supporters.

And I don’t want to. I’ve had enough of it. Moreso, the refugee baiting that has gone on. This wasn’t provocation from gum shield sporting ultras, self-defence from flying tables or just old-fashioned drunken fisticuffs. It marks, in however limited a form, a somewhat sickening style of behaviour spreading around the European football scene.

Call it bullying, racism, intolerance or whatever. Taunting refugee children with coins or making seven year olds down beer or smoke cigarettes for money and ‘comic effect’ (amongst just some of the awful things we’ve seen) is just wrong. Very wrong. And indefensible. Regardless of your thoughts about the political situation is this anyway to behave or represent your club/country?

And what should the club / country do about it? If they even care?

Well, PSV Eindhoven had a similar challenge prior to their Champions League game against Atlético Madrid in March. Their fans were roundly vilified for throwing coins and mocking the homeless in an act subsequently termed – Poverty as a spectacle.

Fairplay to the club for, at least, issuing a statement vowing to track down those responsible. Unless I’ve missed it, the FA have done nothing since the recently published footage of England supporters engaging in similar acts.

Greg Dyke – if you are reading (unlikely), how about it? Will you say anything ? Even just signing the petition that has sprung up ?

Or will everybody just stick their head in the sand and pretend nothing has happened? Hey, perhaps we all just imagined it.

Anyway. That’s me done.

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Nick Bruzon

As the EURO winners show, what would be our Phoenix From The Flames ?

18 Jun

With EURO2016 now fully underway, Friday’s games saw Spain crank things up a notch and Croatia lose it – on and off the pitch. With much of what involves the England fans dividing opinion and generating some very contrasting views from those ‘on the ground’, there was no doubting what we saw on our TV screens yesterday. Plus, in an effort to blow away the current glut of Griffin Park tumbleweed, we have Brentford thoughts, updates and pictures.

First up, Croatia. 2-0 up and cruising against the Czech Republic, not only did they throw it away to be held 2-2 but their ‘fans’ have, surely, lined them up as the next nation to be given a suspended disqualification alongside Russia. This, after a shower of flares and firecrackers descended onto the pitch from the Croatian end as the game reached it’s denouement.

Combined with fighting amongst their own fans, they were ugly scenes that also saw one steward lucky to escape injury as a device went off in his face. Slaven Bilic, talking as part of the ITV panel for the Spain game, attempted to quantify it with the observation that “There are many fans who are against the FA”. That these are protests against a perceived Zagreb bias in Croatian football.

I can’t comment either way on that. My knowledge of the wider problems in European football extends about as far as when Gibraltar’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Belgium is going to take place. But what I can say is that, like the flare launched at England fans during the Russia game, one can only wonder again how security – with France on its highest state of alert – is working? Moreso, just what can UEFA do, if anything, to stop what should have been a wonderful tournament (and still can be) turning into one which will as much be remembered for all the wrong reasons?

As for Spain, a second clean sheet and three goals against Turkey saw them step up an ominous gear. Wth many people’s favourites France leaving it late to record their second victory, the Spaniards by contrast made their six points look simple. After 61% possession, 707 passes and 18 shots (although with goals to match those stats)  they’re already in to 10/3. Forget patriotism – grab that price whilst you can.

Just one other observation on the Spain game, which comes courtesy of Jamie Lovell (@jtlovell1979 ) on Twitter. I can’t take the credit for this but he put into words, wonderfully, the exasperation many of us were suffering from at the hands (or voice) of co-commentator Tony Pulis.

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For me, Clive

Look positive Jamie, at least it wasn’t Glenn Hoddle

Ok, back home and Brentford. I took a stroll past Griffin Park yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to stick my head over the wall. I have to say the pitch is looking wonderful already.

Granted, the club took the steps to dig it up as soon as we’d played our last ‘home’ game ( if I recall, some sort of thrashing administered to Fulham, wasn’t it?). That, following the pitch-gate shocker at the start of the season.

But, you have to say, credit for what seems to be a job well done already. Here’s to seeing how the Bees perform on it when Championship action recommences in August.

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The pitch is looking luxuriant

And when it does, Brentford will find themselves joint 7th (seventh) favourites for the title. Checking my online bookmaker for research purposes this morning, this odds are now up and we’re priced 20/1.

Somewhat stingy for a team who, by our own head coach’s admission, were in a relegation scrap as recently as March? Or easy money for a team who have rediscovered the way to goal via Scott Hogan and those signings who have now ‘bedded in’ to the side? Either way, this is how the bookies see the Championship at present.

And finally, Euro ’96. Kind of. With the football in everybody’s faces at the moment, even the radio is getting in on the act. You can’t move on Absolute Radio at present for World in Motion or Three Lions. Which is no bad thing.

The latter, especially, bringing back all sorts of memories. And not just about how terrifyingly bad David Baddiel was at singing. Seriously, that was the best take?

But talk on the subject amongst some of my Brentford supporting friends led from there to the TV show from which it sprang, Fantasy Football League (of course, co-hosted by Frank Skinner). In particular, the ‘Phoenix From The Flames’ segment in which a famous moment from footballing days gone by would be recreated on a council pitch, featuring the original protagonists.

Specifically, conversation got onto the topic of which Brentford moment would we recreate? Perhaps with the wonderful Sean Ridley and Jo Tilley in the Baddiel and Skinner roles ?

That penalty’ is perhaps too obvious Besides, having not really been discussed in the media after the event, people might not remember. Other topics for consideration included:

Mike Grella destroying Bournemouth; Jota v Fulham; Paul Hayes and Will Grigg being less than on fire when taking home debut penalties; promotion v Preston; Gary Blissett knocking Manchester City out of the FA cup and inciting a banana wielding pitch invader; DJ Campbell giving Gary Breen nightmares.

In the end, though, we settled on cup action. Against Everton. Richard Lee’s penalty saves were the highlight for many but, equally, the pre-game footage of the respective club mascots still gets a watch every now and then.

Whilst the respective kids must be close to teenagers now, that would almost add to the recreation. That said, I’m not sure if we could afford Leighton Baines’ appearance fee.

Could this be recreated, Phoenix style?

Until then, here’s to a weekend of six games and, hopefully, some more magical moments.

Nick Bruzon

The game is here and England WILL win. Fighting talk?

16 Jun

Finally. The match that has been a stand out on the domestic fixture list for the last 7(seven) months is here. England take on Wales today. But will there even be a game?

Of course there will although the morning after the night before, with 36 more arrests after further trouble and tear gas, could UEFA come anywhere close to their threat of sending Russia and / or England home?

Russia going down to Slovakia yesterday has aided their chance of a natural return home but, surely, England will have too much in the tank for the Welsh? Qualification for the second round a certainty. I don’t predict much but I’m predicting this. 2-1 to England.

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Matt Dyson – guru

A small number of supporters seem hell bent on getting Roy Hodgson’s team thrown out of EURO 2016.” Not my words but those of news guru Matt Dyson on this morning’s Absolute Radio Christian O’Connell breakfast show. An over reaction or genuine fear?

Fear not helped by Wales manager Chris Coleman predicting the game to be “an old fashioned dust up”. Probably not the best choice of phrase amidst all the fighting talk in the build up to the clash. Again, probably not the best choice of phrase etc etc etc …….

Whatever the cause and whoever is to blame, the scenes we’ve been shown back home are pretty horrific. Billy Grant and Stan Collymore (a pairing I never thought I’d put in the same journalistic related sentence) have been doing their thing over the last few days. Brentford supporters’ Dave and Billy’s Beesotted page continues to pump out the blogs (with their YouTube footage going viral) whilst Stan has been running the gauntlet of ‘supporters’ and accusations of being a ‘snitch’ as his video links on Twitter are starting to take on a life of their own.

There’s not too much else to say today. I have genuine excitement about the game but, at the same time, it is tinged with an uneasy feeling of awkwardness.

Not about Wales winning – although if the reaction is anything like Gareth Bale’s pre-match mind games that will be horrific. Max Boyce and Manic Street Preachers all over the radio; Welsh footballing icons such as Vinnie Jones and Robbie Savage giving it large. Possibly.

Vinne Jones Wales

Vinnie Jones – Welsh

Should they win then it will, no doubt, be deserved. Likewise, congratulations offered. But they won’t win.

The awkwardness isn’t even the underlying worry that, with French Police ready to wield the tear gas and Ingerland supporters displaying their penchant for bawling out God Save The Queen in Town Squares, something is going to give. And then UEFA are gong have to make an unpopular decision one way or the other.

No. It’s something worse than that. With an England game just hours away, the ‘alleged’ supporters band will be tuning up and polishing their French horns.

Nobody wants anymore violence, that’s for sure. But if I hear ‘that band’ doing their thing then I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

Nick Bruzon

Who has the best kit at EURO 2016 as Jonathan Pearce misses an open goal.

14 Jun

With the memory of the England – Russia game and all those appalling scenes that went with it moving further away from us, last night it was the turn of Belgium and Italy to do (footballing) battle. There was a glorious opportunity for Jonathan Pearce in the earlier game featuring Ireland and Sweden whilst Brentford devotees Dave Lane and Billy Grant (of course, the boys from Beesotted) have continued spreading the word about events in Marseille.

First up though, Jonathan Pearce who was at the helm when Ireland kicked off their campaign. I had special interest in this game, and moreso because I was going to be on a commuter train rather than sat in front of the TV. This would be the first chance for use of that commentating staple from tournaments, “And for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…”

You never hear this line at any other time except during a World Cup or European Championships. Despite it being clear for all to see in the top left corner, expect it to come out somewhere between 6.10pm and 6.20pm.

Except no. Not Jonathan. Maybe it was a reaction to being saddled with Mark Lawrenson. Perhaps he was distracted by what sounds like an incredible anecdote about a mirror. Talking about the World Cup in 1994, my sources tell that he explained to viewers how,  “I was speaking to someone and I went back a year later to the same place and realised it was a mirror.”

Seriously? Anyone? The only thing more bizarre being the reaction of Lawro who, rather than pick up the commentator on the lunacy of what he had just said, dead panned back “Was it a big mirror?

To be fair, judging by his normal look, you can understand the co-commentator being unfamiliar with the purpose of a mirror. Either way, an open goal, missed. ITV have the baton now. Austria – Hungary is the game at 5pm.

Next up, Beesotted. We mentioned them in yesterday’s article but their great work continues. Us Brentford supporters know what they can do but their influence has now spread wider. Billy Grant appeared on BBC Radio 5 live last night to talk about what he had seen in Marseille whilst Dave has produced their latest blog.

Whilst these pages are, largely, nonsense and fun, based out amongst the footballing action in France Beesotted are cutting straight to the heart of the matter. PLEASE do take a look at what they have to say for a much more balanced view on events than some of the media would have you believe. That blog, including links to the podcast, went up yesterday.

OK, kit. Last night’s Belgium game drew as many gasps of admiration for the Belgium shirt as it did for the two Italian goals. (I’m still in shock by the quality of the pass and subsequent control for their opener. Oh, wow).

But it got me thinking, what are the best kits EURO 2016 has to offer? So here, in no more scientific order than personal preference, are my top eight. And the worst.

8: Ukraine home. Almost tartan yellow. They’d argue it is plaid. Either way an understated niceness.

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7(seven): Iceland away. Not just the style but anything that looks like the kit worn in ‘Escape to victory’ can only be a good thing.

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6: Wales home. A classical elegance, as one Ealing Road wag noted last night.

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5: Germany home. A very 70’s look for the current World Champions

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4: Spain away. So bonkers it’s brilliant.

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3: Switzerland away. It’s all a bit France ’84

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2: Belgium home. Would have been number one but the yellow is just a touch too neon. Still a thing of beauty though

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1: Belgium away. Is that Eddie Merckx? Kitman Bob, are you reading (it is made by adidas)? This is just sumptuous.

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And the worst….

Russia away. Looking like somebody has taken a giant sneeze on it when viewed from a distance of more than five yards away, I can’t help but feel they are massively overcompensating for something with that oversized national emblem printed into the design.

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Nick Bruzon

Plug time :  As for Brentford news, well the tumbleweed continues. The most I can do is guide you towards eBay where there are a number of unusual Bees shirts on sale at the moment (and none of which this kit nerd will be bidding for – season tickets don’t pay for themselves).

Alternatively,The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

 

ITV almost nail it on a stunning first night. Almost…

11 Jun

EURO 2016 has begun! What a night in Paris as things finally got under way with the hosts taking on Romania. Over the next four weeks, the Last Word goes a touch continental. Well, as continental as you can from a sofa in front of the TV in Brentford. Much as I’d love to be joining the likes of Billy and Dave from Beesotted in France, this is as close as it gets. I’ll leave the Russian hooligans, drunken England fans, Marseille ultras and reactive police to them ( their site is sure to be a very interesting place over the next few weeks). Instead, as ever, we look as much at ‘the other stuff’ as the serious

7pm, Friday night. Here we go. It’s an hour until kick off. Beer in hand, sofa groaning and remote control in hand. ITV, here we come….

But no. It wasn’t football. With the tournament due to start in 59 minutes, instead of Gallic charm I got Emmerdale Farm. Instead of Glen Hoddle I had a drunk driving a JCB into a farm house, followed by some shouting from the woman who used to be Lizzie Conlon in Dream Team.

Wow. People actually watch this for pleasure? Where was Clive Tyldesley when we needed him?

Fifteen minutes later, ITV finally delivered. The mayhem of farming life was replaced by a sumptuous set of opening credits featuring many of the tournament’s big names and Wayne Rooney, vacationing in a series of 20’s style tourism posters.

Buffon was juggling in the kitchen and we even got a cheeky wink from Cristiano Ronaldo in his, brackets free, number 7(seven) sports car.

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Ronaldo looking sharp on ITV

And that was just the start.

Cut from there to the slightly less salubrious image of Lee Dixon, Slaven Bilić and Emmanuel Petit. ITV having chosen to switch the traditional studio for a Paris roof top to begin their outside broadcast. Albeit with a wonderful backdrop.

Considering the rain that had gripped the French Capital in recent weeks, it was a brave choice. Moreso given the reaction offered to anybody in football seen within 10 yards of an umbrella.

Since Steve McClaren did his ‘wally with the brolly’ thing for England against Croatia back in 2007, being seen to protect yourself from the elements has been an act akin to being caught with the Super Victor toy in your hand luggage.

ITV had adopted for a pundit’s table that had four legs meant to resemble those of the city’s most famous landmark. A lovely touch until Bilić sat directly in front of it, giving him the appearance of Eiffel Tower legs.

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Wonderful backdrop; strange trousers

Cut to the Tower itself, where roving reporters Louis Saha and tennis player Marion Bartoli seemed in what could politely be described as ‘high spirits’. “Allez Les Bleus” exhorted the former Wimbledon champion, in a performance that suggested she may share Maria Sharapova’s medical team. Hey, let’s just say they were both high on life or just drinking in what was clearly an incredible atmosphere.

13 minutes prior to kick off the opening ceremony started. Started! They should have been packing up by this point, not tempting Clive to utter lines such as “The French are famous for their kisses” as an anthropomorphic pair of lips sauntered past the camera.

The central prop, a carousel, was odds-on to have a big reveal. Sure enough, as the can can girls moved on it opened to present none other than Emmanuel Petit, who must have hot footed it down from the ITV rooftop . But no, on closer inspection it was actually Disc Jockey David Guetta, singing along to the songs he was ‘playing’. As one Twitter observer notes, “Where’s Sacha Distel?

The sheer volume of the home support sining the national anthem and a stunning fly past from the French Air Force really were the cherry on this opening ceremony cake. All we needed was Diana Ross, or perhaps Vanessa Paradis, to miss a penalty for a bingo ‘full house’.

They hadn’t even begun clearing up wit the players came out for the anthems but, incredibly, we were go for ‘8pm’. And then Glen Hoddle opened his mouth.

All the good work ITV had done came crashing down in an instant. Not even a wonderful game of football – and what a winner from Dimitri Payet at the death – could detract for his ongoing banality. The commentating equivalent of the England Supporter’s band. I’d rather have had Lizzie Conlon’s ranting.

Having jettisoned Adrain Chiles, its a shame they still persist with the one time England manager. Perhaps its just me.

A great start to a great tournament but with ITV again tonight for the England – Russia game, let’s hope Wayne proves me wrong and Glenn keeps as quiet as I’d love that band to be.

Nick Bruzon