Tag Archives: 237

Now that, Alanis, is ironic.

9 Aug

A strange, strange feeling. Football began at the weekend yet there was no involvement for Brentford. At least, officially. Whilst Fulham and QPR both earned 1-1 draws in the Championship, the Bees were missing. That’s because we’re in the Premier League this season. I’m not sure if it has been mentioned yet but, quite frankly, it cannot be repeated enough. At least in our house. We don’t start competitive action until Friday evening when Arsenal visit Lionel Road. (Home games with Brighton, Liverpool and Chelsea follow). Finally, the dream has come true. We’re there. The top flight. The West London derby one which will take place against the Champions of Europe, Chelsea, rather than at the other end of the 237 bus route. The whole thing is nuts and I can’t wait.

It’s normally at this point in the season that Brentford have lost that opening game of the campaign – strong starts were never our speciality. We’d be getting ready to berate Gary Lineker on the forthcoming Saturday night when he tells Match Of The Day viewers that “Football is back.” No Gary, it was back last weekend when the EFL kicked off. Now, we’re the ones who are going to be on the BBC’s flagship football programme. For the first time since, well ever. A few fleeting FA Cup performances aside. All being well, shown at the business end of the schedule rather than slipping down the pecking order to the final few games. Hey, I’m a lightweight and have usually fallen fast asleep on the couch by the time Arsenal and the other clubs outside the top six are being shown.

The Bees on Match of the Day in 1989 – ‘That’ FA Cup quarter final at Liverpool

Instead, we’re waiting to kick off the campaign and already having games moved with abandon. Aswell as Arsenal (h), Wolves (a) and Liverpool (h) those with Leicester City (h) and West Ham (a) both being put back a day as a result of our opponents’ European adventures. Traversing the length of the Jubilee line on a Sunday to watch football from 100 yards behind the goal. Sounds fun.

Likewise, the home game with Chelsea due on October 16th remains a Saturday but now has a 5.30pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage. Saturday 3pm very much becoming an aspiration rather than a lifestyle choice. Something we always expected but what an intense way for it to kick in. 

Hey, at least the trips to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa kick off when we’d expect. Assuming we are able to buy tickets. Come on already. The game at Selhurst Park is on Saturday week and no sighting (as it stands). Not that I particularly want to have to use the overdraft facility but if it needs to be further decimated then what finer way than a trip to South East London?

Safe to say we’re excited. The game against Valencia saw our family able to sit together for the first time since Brentford were playing at Griffin Park. Sheffield Wednesday, in March 2020. It’s now August 2021. Cripes, that’s been tough. For all of us and for so many reasons. Each different. Each as hard as the other. Harry loved it. Even Mrs. B was impressed with our new seats. That’s no reflection on her or Lionel Road but, more, the relief. Yours Truly having been assigned the role of donning the virtual reality headseat back in January 2020 to choose seats on behalf of our group.

The fate of 7(seven) supporters resting in the hands of my dodgy eyesight and the reliability of the Brentford FC super computer. Thankfully, both worked to perfection. It’s been a long wait for that seal of approval to be delivered. If for no other reason knowing who will be sitting along side us. Knowing who will be replacing Alex, Courier Man and Missa Partridge in our immediate vicinity. So far, so good on that front. Hello Mary, John et al.

Computer simulation v actual reality

Talking of Alex (Austin), regular readers to this column will be well familiar with the enjoyment that came from his dishing out advice to the referee and his assistants. Those timely reminders of the actual rules of football. Those helpful explanations as to how a flag should be raised. Advice which, whilst hilarious to those of us sitting in the proximity of the touchline, was probably the last thing they wanted to hear. The sigh of relief from FA headquarters almost tangible as finally the move to Lionel Road and everybody being assigned new seats meant that gauntlet was one that no longer needed to be run.

The referee and his assistant often chose to ignore all reminders of the rules

Except…. Post of the week came up on Facebook during the Valencia game. Alex and his family are still on the touchline. Yet, if anything, in an even better position to dish out the helpful advice. Not only to the lino but, now, the fourth official. In his own words, “Referee review screen. I guess they asked for this to be in-front of me given my years of helpful advice to the linesman on the Braemar Road.” 

Sure enough, the accompanying picture is one that already tells its own story. Now that, Alanis, is ironic.

I do wonder if this showed up on the magic helmet or whether the footballing gods have simply delivered the most unexpected of helping hands? Either way, a year and a half on lockdown means we all need to sharpen our skills if the VAR performance on Saturday was anything to go by. No pressure, Alex. Keep it loud against Arsenal.

View from the seat…

Nick Bruzon

How to watch it tonight. What we’ll miss in person.

17 Feb

What is there to say today? Brentford travel to QPR looking to further strengthen the automatic spot we’ve finally reached and possibly retake the top from Norwich City. With Watford now third after their own win last night things remain super tight. Norwich City go to Coventry and Swansea City host Nottingham Forest. Neither look particularly taxing opponents, on paper, but you could have said the same about Barnsley. On paper. This is the Championship where anything can happen. Where any team can beat any. Where every point counts.

I could give the tub thumping speech about take overs and there being a mere 3.5 miles between our respective homes. Two stadia kept at arms length by the 237 bus and not much more. Show me someone telling Peter Gilham this one doesn’t matter and I’ll show you someone taking their life in their hands. It is a mantra absorbed by all the players and evidenced, yet again, by the reaction to Said Benrahma’s penalty last season (crips, that seems a lifetime ago already). The players running to our man with a mic and celebrate together.

Back of the net…!!! Mayhem followed a split second later

It’s a game we want to win more than any other. Yet at the same time, without fans being there in person it fells like we’ve lost something. As much the chance to see unhappy faces in person. To celebrate together. Even knowing that when it gets truly grim, as can happen at times, we’re all in this together. I’ve recounted this one before but even the occasion of Dean Smith’s infamous 4-6-0 formation was punctuated by two highlights.

Firstly, BBC Billy Reeves doing his disco thing. Walking behind the goal at half time, he responded to a call of his name by performing a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ touchline sashay. Part Moonwalker, part Zoolander it was as smooth a transition from casual stroll to C&A model as you could ever hope to see. As one terrace wag noted ,” He accelerated from zero to catwalk in 1.2 seconds”. 

BBC Billy provided a rare moment of joy the time we tried a ‘false 9’

The second came as the goals rained in. Behind me, the emotion had clearly got to another fan who had been giving a running commentary down the phone to his, presumably, better half during the second half. Even this call reached a sad denouement with the line, “Yes. I love you my darling. But we’re sh*t. Now please f**k off” .

Thankfully, this is very much the thin end of the wedge when it comes to recent games at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium. Last season saw us beating QPR 3-1 – the game with the aforementioned Benrahma pen – whilst the same scoreline was repeated at Griffin Park. That, one of the last few games with fans present and one where there was the personal bonus of seeing H leading the players out.

Yet you are only as good as your last result and for us it was that 2-0 no show against Barnsley whilst our hosts beat Blackburn 1-0 courtesy of a 51st minute goal from Yoann Barbet. Safe to assume it wasn’t a penalty. Equally though, let’s not forget our last result against QPR.  A 2-1 win at Lionel Road in November (game 7(seven) in the unbeaten streak) which had the added bonus of salty tears at full time from Mark Warburton.

His own griping about he 200 fans we’d supposedly smuggled in up there with anything that ever came out of the mouth of Steve Evans or us Celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. It was a thing of absolute beauty and a tribute to our board of directors / substitutes who made more noise than a Harry Potter convention. It will be interesting to see if there are any temporary additions made to the board this evening in an attempt to redraw the balance.

Oh, Mark. Thank you. For a season where we’ve felt very much locked out you made an already special moment feel even more wonderful. Here’s to more of the same tonight. Kick off is at 7pm . See you there. In spirit. Unless Mr. Benham want to make me one of his 200 directors.

Instead, our options are many. There’s I-follow where ST holders have VIP (i.e. free) access. Failing that you can buy a pass or press the Sky ‘red’ button. Let’s not forget the ideal combination – our friends at radio. Billy ‘disco’ Reeves has confirmed its live on BBC Radio London DAB digital. Ah, ambassador, with these commentary options you are spoiling us.

And just when today couldn’t get any more exciting, our referee is Gavin Ward. On that bombshell…

Nick Bruzon

Time to remember some heroes.

16 Feb

Brentford travel to Loftus Road tomorrow for a game with QPR. A game where we’ll be looking to get back on the horse after the humungous unbeaten run finally came to an end in game 22 at the hands of Barnsley. Oh well. We go… once more. Every team has an off day. That’s football. Whether a temporary wobble such as that experienced by Bournemouth in recent weeks or a more rounded falling apart. Again. Like Leeds United in recent season(s). However, even they eventually found their mojo and look at how the Elland Road outfit are flying now. Here’s to joining them soon and it starts on Wednesday evening when we take part in the 237 derby. We’ll look at that in more depth tomorrow but for now, we’ve another guest columnist (following Harry’s debut yesterday – and thank you all for the kind comments on the socials about that one) in Bernard Quackenbush. Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers are appealing. Not a phrase I thought would ever be used and, perhaps, best to start there as they look to support the legend that is Stan Bowles.

We all know Stan. Know the stories. Know the legend. Know the mercurial talent who – along with the likes of Les Ferdinand, Ian Holloway and Yoann Barbet – are best known for their stints at Griffin Park. QPR are welcome to Martin Rowlands. Yet now a group of their supporters are looking for football fans’ help. Normally, such a distress signal going up from Loftus Road would be met with us telling them to kiss my badge but this is different. This is for Stan. This is to try and persuade the club owners to create a permanent tribute to the supporter favourite.

It takes someone special to unite the supporters of each club. To be equally admired by both. But if you saw him play, you’d know. So, for once, here’s the ask. Let’s help our neighbours. There’s a petition that can be signed here. If nothing else, it’ll force their owners to spend some money and perhaps we can see it in the FA Cup next season. Assuming we can go to football next season. In all seriousness though, Stan was a rare breed in his time on pitch – a player you’d pay to go and see in his own right. Here’s to signing off on this one and then getting back to usual tomorrow night.

Stan – genius!

Ok, on to the main business of the day. Our guest columnist. Regular readers to these pages and Bees based Twitter users will likely be familiar with the Bournemouth based fan. His comments are always worth a look and, like Harry, anything he adds to the main pages instantly makes me question why I waste my own time doing this. However, an opportunity for his own input is never one to be spurned and so with some food for thought, over to BQ……..

Way back in July when those final couple of games at Griffin Park reached their ‘denouement’, I wondered how to mark the occasion. I thought about doing a feature on the greatest players to ever play at the old girl, but then I realised I knew next to nothing about those heroes who graced the hallowed turf way before I was born….but then its struck me. Why not feature all those players I wanted to be in the local park when playing with my friends, and all those players I admired ever since I first saw that beautiful green turf on Saturday 28th April 1979.

So I got jotting down all those names of players I admired. There were plenty who would be on all of our lists, and one or two who may only be on a few of our lists. I had no idea how long the list would be when I started, but looking at the list when completed, I realised that the thread may end up taking longer than watching the whole of Mahabharat. It was purely accidental that the very last hero yesterday was number 150.

So what about the players themselves. Of course there were the obvious ones like King Kev, King Jota and King…er…Said, but there were plenty of heroes who got on my list just for what they did one game like Alex Rhodes (goal against Bounemouth), Jon Toral (hat trick against Blackpool) & Micky Droy (staring out a whole stand at Bournemouth). As you may have noticed, Bournemouth crops up a lot. I emigrated to the golden sands when I was still in infant school, and I have been here ever since. To me, a game against the Muff is as big as Fulham or Shepherds Bush. I have more friends who are Cherries fans than Bees fans, and so I always taken great delight in those Bournemouth related moments. Whether it was Marcus Bean’s midfield masterclass. Stephen Hunt down at Dorch, Lee Harvey and the raining cushions, Chris Kamara and the Freight Rover and the sight of a very drunk fancy dress adorned Kevin Dearden staggering past my flat in Boscombe.

Oh, Jota….

One of the joys of the hero thread has been hearing from you guys who have shared your memories too. Now if this had been one of those Channel 5 countdowns then Paul Tonkinson would have been David Goodwin, Paul Coster & one or two others and Grace Dent, has to be Deb & her camera down in Chepstow. I thank each and every one of you for your comments and memories Also it was really fun to see the heroes themselves passing comment. From Clayton Donaldson’s fist pump, to Lloyd Owusu going one further with raised hands, cant think why he did that! Lasse Vibe correcting me on when he left. I’m sure he knows better than I do! Marcus Bean lamenting Karleigh & Powell for coming to blows at Dean Court. Bob Booker being a gent & replying to all who commented. But best of all was Paul Gibbs and Leon Legge describing how they remember their time at GP with great fondness and particularly us the fans. A final word on this goes to Natalie Sawyer, who commenting on Jonathan Douglas simply said… ‘I guess he’s alright’.

I thank each and every one of you for your likes on the thread. It was fascinating to see some players I expected to be raining likes to get 1 or 2. Sadly, Alex Rhodes, Henrik Dalsgaard & Billy Clarke all got the usual United Kingdom score in Eurovision of nul points. We love you really guys! At the other end of the scale it was current player Christian Norgaard, closely followed by Richard Cadette who registered over 50 likes. Other notable giants of the thread included Paul Nicholas lookalike Neil Smillie, Alan McCormack, Kevin Godfrey, and the previously mentioned Vibe & Legge. Some heroes helped it along a little by liking themselves including Romaine Sawyers, Karleigh Osborne, Yoann Barbet, Nathan Elder, Paul Evans, Ben Burgess, Steve Sidwell, as well as Bean & Macca. Paul Gibbs liked his former captain, Evans and Glen Poole, not only liked himself, but also liked Ryan Dickson, Nathan Elder & Billy Manuel. Did he owe them all drinks or something?

Triple B. BIG… BENNNN. BURGESSSSS

It was great reading some of your comments too, from Luis Adriano’s debut pitch invasion after a Paddy Roche penalty save on the last day of the season. Tales of Joe Allon telling one fanzine writer that his most difficult opponent was his ex-wife. How Dean Holdsworth was asked by one supporter to get a hat trick for him that night, and managing to bag a brace. How someone else saw Terry Evans clatter into the back post and felt sorry for the post. Toumani being able to put in the perfect tackle with his Inspector Gadget legs. How Fred Callaghan seemed to fall out with literally everyone and your usual host of these lauded pages naming Gus Hurdle as one his all time favourite full backs.

Our heroes were not only noticed by Bees. Fans from deepest darkest Dorset remembered Denny Mundee, particularly in a game at GP. Posh fans remembered Robbie Cooke. Everyone Alan McCormack ever played for loved him, but the biggest word goes out to the Bairns of Falkirk who regaled tales of Richard Cadette and his goal against the Gers. A wonderful memory for fans of a club who sadly only able to see their heroes in old clips.

One of my all time heroes – Bliss – with Oohh Richie Cadette

There were of course many who didn’t make the cut. It was not because they were not good enough. This list was not about technique and skill. This list was about heart and about those who made me proud to be a Bee. Which leads me to my last choice. My all time favourite Bee, Denny Mundee. If there was one player who personified what its like to be a Bee, for me it was Denny. Chucked onto the football scrapheap. Denny was looking for a new home, and was taken in by Brentford. He was given a short contract and started off well enough at full back, but for some mad reason he was then given the opportunity to express himself in a way he had never been able to express himself before. Like the reveal of superhero, Denny went from run of the mill utility man to the Diego Maradona of the 3rd tier. Twiddling one way, shuffling the other way, unleashing a power shot from 30 yards out, and then he vanished just as quickly as he arrived.

My last thanks are to all of you who kept with me throughout the thread, but most of all my thanks go out to those 150, plus all the others who made Griffin Park a huge part of our lives. A place where we laughed, cried and screamed for joy, and occasionally invaded the pitch.

Denny. As stylish on pitch….
…. as he was off it.

BQ

Many thanks, indeed, Bernard. There’s not much more to add except, perhaps, my own personal thanks for allowing a trawl through both the photo archives and the memory banks. Good times. Good times indeed. Here’s to many, many more and a new breed of heroes coming to the fore.

And if you’d like to read more, the ‘hashtag’ #trophyfriends… I mean #MyGriffinParkHeroes is on Twitter where you can follow the whole countdown.

Until then, here’s another few of mine. Kevin Godfrey and Allan Cockram…

Kev-in God-frey. Kev-in God-frey.
Cockers……..

Nick Bruzon

Let’s smash them! Let’s do this!!

27 Nov

The 237 derby awaits. Brentford are all set to host the team from Shepherds Bush at Lionel Road this evening. The move to our new home meaning a mere 3.4 miles now separates the two clubs. I’ve not been this excited about a ‘behind closed doors’ game since Barnsley last season. Hmmm. Move along, nothing to see here. That was then. This is now. The Bees are on it at the moment (6 unbeaten and only two goals against) whilst Tuesday night’s performance ay Oakwell ensured the promotion pack remain well in our sights. Not to mention exacting a little payback from the aforementioned game. Elsewhere, it’s well possible that our reader could be watching the Blackburn Rovers game next Saturday in person. Not a typo.

Games with our neighbours have been wonderful in recent seasons

For all the negativity out on social media over recent weeks, the simple fact is that victory tonight takes Brentford up to fourth place. Chuck in the opposition factor (oh, to be a fly on the wall for Peter Gilham’s pre-match speech to the squad) combined with the nature of our performance at Barnsley and you can be sure the boys will be up for it. They’d better be. This, of all games, is the one we love each season. Victory in their pokey matchbox is always fun but to do it at home, in front of your own seats, is truly special.

Sadly, it comes just too soon for the return of 2,000 fans to a home game but at least Lionel Road will look full. Who’s laughing at those coloured seats now ? Of course, the place will be full in spirit. The game is on Sky sports and I-follow VIP.

Murdoch or Mark Burridge? Tonight, ambassador, you are really spoiling us. 

I have to be honest, one of the highlights of the season to date (the performances of Ivan, Ethan, Marcus, Sergi, Rico et al aside) has been the role carried out by our commentator par-excellence throughout all of the Corona based despondency. It can’t be easy commentating on what, to all intents and purposes, has all the passion of Mrs. Brown smooching with Donald Trump on Star Wars Day whilst sipping on an Expresso. The strains of the England supporters band wafting over them. No fans in the ground makes a distasteful experience for the viewers. Commentating on it must be truly tricky. Nowhere to hide. No crowd noise to fill the gaps or spur you on.

Yet Mark, Mick and Marcus (Gayle, not Forss – note so self : find excuse to work that pun in ) make it seem effortless. For that, I am genuinely thankful. A shitty time made slightly better thanks to our top, top football commentating team. 

Jacket sleeves rolled up? My Mammy Vice? The allure of crowd free football

Whichever way you watch (or listen) to it tonight, it’s sure to be an exciting one. Expect the same team as started up at Barnsley with cameos from the bench. That said, one does have to wonder how Thomas is keeping Marcus Forss happy – he must be chomping at the bit – but you can’t look past the imperious form of Ivan Toney.

My word, that man is on fire and more than filling the boots of Ollie Watkins. I’d still love that Ollie was here but we’ve done pretty, pretty good in replacing him. Ivan is definitely at the Maupay / Grey end of the striking scale rather than Proschwitz / Jones.

Of all that has happened this season, the goal scoring prowess of Ivan has been the absolute stand out for me. Yes, Rico has been immense. Ethan continues to flourish. The goalkeeping saga put to bed. Yet to find such a composed goal scorer and, probably more important, one who has adjusted to this team and this level of football so, so quickly has been pivotal. He is already ahead of Ollie and Neil on the goals scored at this stage in their respective Brentford careers with the promise of more to come. Aside from keeping the fans happy, doing it again tonight against that lot will see him return to the top of the Championship goal scorers chart. At present, he sits one behind Adam Armstrong of Blackburn Rovers (11 and 12 respectively after 13 games).

And on a side note to form, that of the overall squad has been as impressive. Sure, we’ve had a few stinkers (Stoke away and the second half debacle at home to Preston being the real low lights) yet point for point we’re still well clear of this time last year. Moan all you want about individuals but the table doesn’t lie. I saw this one last night to illustrate, in a nutshell, where we are. Frank out. Apparently. Groan. Insert Picard meme.

Anyway, we can big it up all we want. Form is out the window. Past results irrelevant. For one night only is it about the 90 minutes that lay ahead. The hope that special agent Barbet can do it again. Truly, I loved him at Griffin Park but there’s always the hope that he goes awol this evening. Perhaps adding to that tally of own goals or missed penalties.

Ultimately though, its about one thing only. Winning the game. Beating our neighbours. Showing Mark Warburton our Plan A ! Bring it on and see you there. Kind of.

We love you, Yoann.

Although… this time next week we’ll be saying that for real. At least, a maximum 2,000 of us will. With the latest announcements from Boris now out there, and London placed in Corona Virus Tier 2, we’re allowed some supporters into games. The first game up is Blackburn Rovers next Saturday. The Toney-Armstrong shootout (so another 0-0, then). Good luck to the club in sorting out how all this is going to work – genuinely – although at least the slightly ambiguous wording on Twitter yesterday – intimating that Premium would get first dibs – was quickly cleared up on social media aswell as in the main article where it is noted that,”Whatever number we are working to, we will ensure that each ticket group  will have a fair split of the overall allocation“. 

I’m still not clear what happens if those fans live in Tier 3 but at least we now have some, scant respite. A first step back to sporting normality. You can read the full article here and, if you haven’t done your survey yet, I’d be doing it fast. 2,000 desperate fans are going to make a hell of a lot of noise. Personally speaking, I can’t wait to be part of it. No matter how bizarre it may be.

That’s all to look forward to. For now I’m all about watching it on the sofa. Possibly for one last time before getting in to a game for a real. Let’s smash them. Let’s go out of this creepy ‘no fans’ atmosphere in style. Let’s do this. I can’t wait!

Nick Bruzon

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

11 Jan

Saturday morning. Brentford are set to host QPR in a few hours time. The chance to inflict one more Griffin Park defeat on our near neighbours too delicious an opportunity to ignore. The potential of closing the gap between Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and ourselves to a mere six points an even bigger incentive. Whilst both of those have eminently winnable games later today, keeping the heat on two teams who have only picked up a single win apiece out of their last five and six Championship games respectively is no bad thing in the psychological stakes.  Assuming, of course, we do our thing !

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 06.22.24

Another of these would be lovely

My word, this is what football is all about. The QPR fans can pretend it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen plenty of talk from their supporters making out that this is no derby, that there is nothing between our respective sides and that any talk of rivalry with Brentford is something purely played out in our heads.

Really? It didn’t feel that way when we were trashing the pants off them (again) at Loftus Road earlier in the season – you can stop crying now. When they tried to put us out of existence and move in back in 1967. When Martin Rowlands was kissing the badge – hopefully a doctor has now helped clear up the infection. When they were deriding us for our bus stop status. When there is a mere 5.2 miles (aka a short hop on the 237) separating our two grounds. Make that 4.2 miles next season when we move in to Lionel Road.

Try telling me it doesn’t matter

With Brentford flying high and achieving success within our means rather than incurring the huge fines that come with overspending it smacks of jealousy. With the Bees all set to move into a state of the art stadium whilst our neighbours languish in their matchbox it stinks of bitterness. With The Bees having a visionary owner rather than being a club going through the motions and struggling for a Plan B it reeks of huge inferiority complex. 

Yes, I’ll absolutely acknowledge they’ve been in the top flight more often than us and have been picked up the odd piece of silverware. Well done. Congratulations. That was then. This is now. Live on former glories at your peril. We’ve bided our time, caught them with their pants down and are now the biggest and best Championship club in West London. That’s beyond doubt – if for no other reason, the table doesn’t lie. Their supporters can pretend it doesn’t matter or doesn’t hurt all they want. I’m not having a bar of it. To borrow a line from Hamlet (Shakespeare. rather than the cigars), “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

As such, I’ll take particular pleasure in really raising the roof at Griffin Park today. Of knowing how important this game is. Of relishing how extra special it feels every time we beat the lices of QPR or Fulham. How extra sweet those points taste in games of this nature every time we add another three to our total. I’m not alone, either. Griffin Park is sure to be a cauldron of noise. If the QPR fans want to kid themselves it doesn’t matter and prefer to take their own game of Loftus Road library simulator on the road then all the better.

Loftus Road 100

It’s all gone quiet over there – again.

Ok – I’m not a complete idiot and fully appreciate that going gung-ho comes with it’s own risks. Yet this is how I feel about this one. To be honest, this is how genuinely confident I am every time The Bees run out to play at present. Regardless of opposition. Matthew Benham and his team have transformed this club. Every time we think we’ve seen a ‘best ever’ Brentford, they just go and reinvent the model (no pun intended). The football being played is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Goals flying in and the meanest defence in the division. Scintillating attack combined with a back line that oozes confidence. That’s not arrogance but a simple fact borne out by the statistics at the top of the table. That early season wobble as we found our feet nothing more than a hazy memory. For crying out loud, back then we even lost to Birmingham City….

So yes, these comments obviously come with a fair amount of home bias. With lashings of self-belief in what we do. Of course they will – it’s a Brentford blog page and we’re playing some quite incredible football at present. If that upsets anybody well tough. Get over it.  Everything we have done so far has been on absolute merit. That’s not to say the job is done. Anything but. Pride comes before a fall and if we even take our foot off the gas slightly or think a game is won before it kicks off then that’s a recipe for disaster. Thomas Frank will remind the players of that. For the supporters, our job – no, our privilege – is the chance to keep it loud and enjoy this moment. Every week sees our time at Fortress Griffin Park grow ever shorter. Let’s make sure we go out on a high.

My word. Hurry up 12.30pm. I can’t wait. Genuinely can’t wait. There’ll be Kevin Keegan levels of loving it if we do what I know we can. Bring it on and see you there.

1tmwt4cjqc0aknvzpfpsopn6xhlmnib3-e1578725006636.jpg

I’d love it etc etc etc

Nick Bruzon

A positive end to an awful week. Can we go one better today?

31 Aug

Normality returns today. Kind of. Brentford host Derby County at Griffin Park having reached the end of a week that saw Bury expelled from the football league and Bolton Wanderers narrowly avoid the same fate. We’ve updated TV news, with the 237 derby game at Loftus Road seeing us becoming a diet version of Sky Sports Leeds (that’s two appearances in as many months for us)  and there was the brilliance from Brentford ‘official’ on Twitter yesterday. Have they done their best ever tweet?

First up, the visit from Frank Lampard’s former club, Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Or just Derby County as we can thankfully call them once more. That really was getting tedious. Say what you want about the Rams but they came so close last time . There was the wonderful turn around against Leeds United as the Elland Road side fell apart, again, in the play-off semi before suffering the ultimate pain. They could only look on as John Terry lifted the winner’s trophy high into the Wembley sky and Aston Villa reached the Premiership.

That end of season agony has continued this time around. Whilst Leeds have picked themselves up and gone again, and Villa have now recorded their first top flight points under Dean Smith, things haven’t been quite so easy for Derby. Like the Bees, they’ve only picked up one win so far and that was against hapless Huddersfield Town. Both clubs find themselves in the bottom third of the fledgling table and will, obviously, be keen to record the win that sees things heading back up in the direction they are more accustomed to.

The news is positive. For Brentford. FloJo is set to miss out for out guests, as does Bogle. We’ve the potential return of Said Benrahma to the starting XI whilst there’s a chance for our first look at new striker Nikoloas Karelis. He looks an absolute unit – and that’s just from the picture on the squad page – so it will be interesting to see how he fits in as the meat in the sandwich of our always impressive wide men.

Screenshot 2019-08-31 at 06.47.42

Karelis – the meat in a wide man sandwich

Even better though, word on the street reaches me that Buzzette is set to return. Whilst, of course, she has been present this season it is just that. Being present. The normal spring in the step and enthusiastic dancing have been somewhat lacking. With it, the team’s fortunes have been on the down turn. Has she been carrying an undisclosed injury? Perhaps struggling with a protracted summer holiday? Either way, I gather her coach has had a word, she’s been declared fully fit and back to normal so we can once more expect to see her busting those inspirational moves, throwing shapes and doing whatever else it is the kids do as the discotheque.

Away from Griffin Park, I’m at a loss for what to say about the Bury / Bolton situation. From the impotent handling of matters by the EFL through to their apparent willingness to let one our our oldest clubs go to the wall, it has been heartbreaking. Gigg Lane was the first away ground I visited, back in the 80s, and was a journey I always looked to make whenever possible. Seeing this play out has been agonising.

I’m just an onlooker – once can’t begin to even imagine the pain that their supporters and staff are going through right now. It’s shameful that it was allowed to get this far and then play out in such a crushing denouement. All we’ve been left with is a dead club and the footballing equivalent of Donald Trump offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a mass shooting.

The only positives, if there can be any, from this shameful situation are that, at least, Bolton are still with us. That does then lead to whole host of further questions to the EFL as to how one club can be given a further extension but not the other. And it is where we get the other news, which I read this morning. Bury aren’t giving up and there is an interesting piece on the BBC in regards to potential legal action, given the way that the final nail was driven into their coffin. There is talk of additional bids being ignored, amongst other things. It is well worth a read and can be found here.

The whole situation is all the more ironic given the amounts of money being pumped into the higher level of the game by Sky, amongst others. Their own decision to rebrand an articifical ‘deadline day’ with ticking countdown clock was a shameful one and , rightly, came in for criticism from all quarters. Dignity? Respect? Who needs them when there’s a joke angle that can be had at the expense of people’s livelihoods and a club’s very existence? 

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Stay classy, Sky.

And now they’ve gone and picked us for TV. We’re already on at Barnsley in late September. Make that twice in successive months with the rematch against Mark Warburton, Yoann Barnet and QPR has been moved to Monday 28 October. You can understand why. Any history aside, there are sure to be goals in this now with Barbet currently shipping penalties for fun this season. His ‘go again’ key getting a right hammering at present. Although knowing us, it’ll be the fans in the upper tier returning any spot kick rather than the not so super-hoops’ goalkeeper ! Come on lads, prove me wrong.    

There was a positive end to the week. At least on social media where ‘official’ are definitely finding their feet after the never forgotten shame of #trophyfriends. Friday’s 4-1 humping of QPR in a U-23 game was most notable for our second goal. The prolific A. Trialist, a player who has had more clubs than former Bee Steve Claridge, popped up to head home from Ali Coote. This, in a move which began form a short corner (not a typo).     

So it was all the better when ‘official’ got in on the act, with one of those goal gifs/memes ( I never know which is which) made popular by Bristol City. Who needs comedy acting when you have comedy word kits. Magnificent. I want one.

Great work all round. See you in the club shop at lunchtime. 

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A Trialist. From a short corner. What’s not to love?

Nick Bruzon

Bees put a quarter pound of rubbish back in the bin as Thomas makes it 4 and 7(seven) in a row.

3 Mar

This is getting embarrassing now. Another home game, another win for Brentford. That’s 7(seven) on the bounce. Another visit from QPR, another win for Brentford. That’s four on the bounce. The latest, Saturday’s 3-0, was about as one-sided as they get. But for a somewhat moribund first half performance from both sides, with neither willing to concede first blood in the penultimate 237 derby to take place at Griffin Park, it could likely have been another 5 goal finish for the Bees. In the end we had to settle for goals from Sergi, Saïd and Neal’s 20th of the season – from the spot – to keep the points safe and see Queens Park Rangers fans streaming out early as though the proverbial fire-drill was taking place. Elsewhere, the excitement continued North of the Border where Partick Thistle and their ebullient mascot Kingsley even got in on the act.

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Thomas celebrates at full time

But we can only start at Griffin Park. It was magnificent. Again. That’s starting to become a regular phrase on these pages but when you see Brentford scoring goals for fun then it’s no surprise. The approach play has the crowd on the edge of their seats ; the inevitable finishes have them leaping high into the air. The excitement palpable. The celebrations euphoric.

Once more it was Neal Maupay who lead the charge. The first came from the penalty spot after Keith Stroud decreed that Ollie Watkins had, indeed, been thrown to the ground. The finish was as calm and comfortable as they have been all season from the spot. If ever there was a moment when the occasion might get the better of him then here it was. Instead, the net rippled and the crowd exploded.

The poacher turned provider for our second, breaking down the right and riding a challenge from goalkeeper Lumley outside the box that would have had Keith reaching for his red had the Frenchman tumbled. But no, with the scent of goal in his nostrils Maupay evaded the lunge and squared the ball for that man Benrahma to fire home. 2-0 and game over.

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Yesssss!!! HB celebrates at 2-0

It could have been more even prior. Dalsgaard producing a stunning save from Lumley with a point blank header whilst Kamo, amongst others, came close after the Bees had opened up our opponents as easily as somebody deploying an umbrella when the heavens open. 

QPR had no response. If they had looked out of it after the penalty, they were dead and buried now. All they could produce was gallows humour from the away end as they started singing about having had one shot. That, from Jake Bidwell, causing more danger to his own fans sitting in the upper tier than Daniel Bentley and his rock solid defence.

Yet rather than attempt to lock it down, Thomas Frank kept going. With just shy of ten minutes to go, the stage was surely set for Josh McEachran. But no. Instead we were treated to more pace as Emiliano Marcondes and Sergi Canos were introduced to the field of play. The crowd celebrated (and consulted the big book of Brentford tactics).

It proved to be inspirational stuff as the fresh legs mad further inroads into the already porous blue and white ‘defence’. More importantly, keeping the ball down the correct end until Sergi wrapped things up with another word class run and finish deep into injury time. 3-0. Dead and buried. Game over. 

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Sergi (and team) celebrate the third

The goals are up on the Sky Sports website. Enjoy them again. Please. With them comes a win that sees Brentford up one place in the table to sit four points off tenth and eight off the play-off zone with twelve to play. Is that possible? 

Well, if home form could translate to away then who dares to dream. Next up is a trip to Middlesbrough. If there is to be any aspiration of reeling in our rivals and making an incredible leap towards the top flight then now is the time to find our feet on the road. Moreso given that the game immediately after is a midweek trip to Sheffield United. By the time we all come together at Griffin Park once more, Thomas Frank could be planing for next campaign in the Championship or masterminding a blitzkrieg assault on the upper echelons of the table with only one target in sight. Sixth place.

That’s to come, of course. For now I’m still buzzing about another stunning performance from Brentford. Griffin Park is certainly the place for goals, points and excitement. Off the pitch as well as on it where man-with-the-mic Peter Gilham, for whom the attempted takeover of ’67 is still fresh in the mind, was steadfast in his refusal to acknowledge QPR. At various points in the afternoon he described them as the visitors, the opposition and just about anything else he could find from a well thumbed thesaurus. Kudos to the legend that is PG for sticking to his principals so strongly.

We all know what this one means to him. Even the players. Saïd celebrated his goal by running the entire length of the Braemar Road touchline. Whilst we weren’t sure what that particular celebration was about at the time, Thomas Frank would later reveal that the player had gone in search of Peter. To give him a hug and celebrate together. What a club !! 

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Saïd celebrates whilst looking for Peter

He wasn’t the only one celebrating. Hats off to football’s best mascot (that isn’t Buzzette). North of the border it would be fair to say that Partick Thistle’s Kingsley seemed pleased about his mention in the match day programme. 

If the  potential of Brentford going up a division is one to tantalise, equally exciting is the prospect of one day getting Buzzette and Kingsley together. What a photo-op. What an image.

Full time saw the players perform their now customary lap of Griffin Park at full time. The smile on Saïd’s face, in particular, almost as broad as those on the faces of the fans he stopped to talk with. Which was just about everyone along the Braemar Road paddock.

Thomas Frank was sporting an old school Bees scarf he’d, presumably, picked up from somewhere along the way before making his way to the press box for a chat with the BBC Radio London team of Billy Reeves, Sam Parkin and Phil Parry.

I can’t wait to hear that one in full. Just to see him walking around the ground and talking to fans, you can feel how much this all means to Thomas. How much he is enjoying life but, also, empathises with the supporters and the players. The aforementioned double-substitution was yet another demonstration of his ability to buck the trend and deviate from the Brentford norm.

Then again, the performances his team are puling out of the bag are evidence of that. Get things right away from Griffin Park and this could be a run-in to end them them all

As the song goes, “I did it myyyy wayyyyyy”. And yesterday, he certainly did.

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(with thanks to the brilliant BBC Billy)

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Saïd and young fans enjoy the moment at full time

Nick Bruzon

QPR visit is time to get the arousal level up (although hopefully not the ref).

2 Mar

Let’s draw a discreet veil about what happened midweek. Brentford went down 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday after what has been reported all round as somewhat of a horror show of a performance. Our neighbours, on the other hand, arrested a run of form that had seen them lose 7(seven) league games on the bounce after getting one over Leeds United at Loftus Road. Well done there. That recent set of results has now been tweaked to read: LLLLLLLW . 

And we can now chuck all of that out of the window. It’s derby day. West London, as opposed to Frank Lampard’s County (TM) . Queens Park Rangers visit Griffin Park in a game that is a must win. Not so much for the chance to put further clean air between us and the not so super hoops as the opportunity to continue a fine home record against our neighbours from the other end of the the 237 bus route.

Last season saw us triumph 2-1 thanks to Sergi and Flo Jo. The year before it was 3-1 as Jota ran riot. 2015/16 saw us take the honours 1-0 in front of the Sky cameras courtesy of Marco Djuricin. The big question now being if Brentford can make to four on the bounce whilst, at the same time, wiping the memory of the return encounter earlier in the season where that ten minute blip just after half-time meant a less than happy afternoon spent in the environs of White City.

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Results at home to QPR have been stunning in recent seasons

The short answer to that one is ‘Yes.’ Being blunt. Even allowing for the reversal of league fortune suffered by both teams during the week, I’m still going into this one buoyant. Leeds United were clearly suffering from an ‘off day’, as was evidenced last night when West Brom took an absolute hammering. 4-0 that one finished and I’ve no doubt Thomas Frank will have Brentford producing a similar reaction.

Our home form has been blistering in recent weeks. The performance against Aston Villa was magnificent whilst to put five goals past both Hull City and blackburn Rovers has made it a quite incredible February.  The form of Saïd Benrahma has been electrifying whilst Neal Maupay was named as EFL player of the year the other night at the London football awards.

Besides, if you can’t get yourself up for this match then what’s the point?  There’s a great quote from Thomas on the BBC website in their match preview, where he notes that: “We know it is a massive game for the fans and the club. Griffin Park will be bang on it…..it is one of these games where I feel the same tension as the Brondby-Copenhagen derbies in Denmark, where you don’t have to say much to the players as the arousal level is up there.”

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Wonderful news for Neal, midweek

The arousal level is certainly up there at home. I love this game. I sit next to a Rangers’ fan at work whilst HB has been telling everyone from his school friends to Chairman Cliff Crown (after a chance encounter yesterday)  about the forthcoming visit from Quarter Pound of Rubbish. No idea where he picked up that from – the things they must say at football club or in the schoolyard. 

It promises to be a fierce encounter. One to set the pulse racing and the blood pumping. One where fans from both sides will be doing all they can to push their team on and remind the officials about the rules of the game (I’m looking at you, Braemar Road linesman). One where tempers could threaten to boil over in the heat of the moment and the passion of the occasion . So the great news is that the EFL have named Keith Stroud as our man in the middle….

We all know Keith of old. The battle of Bramall Lane can never be forgotten. The soul destroying flourish of a red card with all the authority of a picked upon school kid granted immunity from the bully by virtue of his prefect badge. The infamous penalty incident  at Newcastle United where he disallowed a goal for the Magpies and awarded an indirect free kick to Burton rather than allow it to be retaken after encroachment.

That one seemed to be the death knell of his career but he’s been back this season – officiating 20 games where, stat check, Keith has only shown two red cards and averaged 3.5 yellows. Somewhat restrained compared to his former reputation. Could we see a mellower version in action this afternoon? Or will he be performing his one man Clintons’ tribute show?

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

Keith Stroud montage

Which Keith will we get today?

Nick Bruzon

Move along. Nothing to see here. Bees go for a Burton.

22 Nov

We didn’t play very well at all. That’s the worst performance of the season.” Not my words but those of Brentford manager Dean Smith talking to BBC Billy Reeves following Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at home to Burton Albion. He’s being kind. With back-to-back West London derbies approaching at QPR, then home to Fulham, it would have been the perfect time to pick up those shooting boots and get another win under the belt. Instead, the Bees limped to an insipid draw in one of the dullest games to grace Griffin Park in years.

Many gave this one a wide berth before kick off. The declared crowd of 7,957 was, presumably, a figure that included all season tickets. Looking around the ground there were as few people there as opportunities on the pitch. And that’s just in the away end where Burton looked as though they’d brought less than Aldershot.

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You’re so loud you sound like Aldershot.

If you were there, you know you’ll never get that time back. That’s football. Nobody impressed for Brentford, with Dean Smith apparently reading the riot act at half time. It was an act that must have fallen on deaf ears as he was forced into a double substitution just minutes after the restart. Woods and Yennaris off. Mcketch and Sergi on. Moments later came the one bright moment of the night. Flo Jo’s free kick from distance finding the back of the net and prompting an ecstatic celebration from the player, into the home dugout.

Tedium soon returned and despite their making no effort all evening, there was a certain inevitability about Burton scoring an equaliser. Instead of going for it, Brentford sat back. Brentford passed it sideways. Brentford faffed around. Brentford conceded the softest of headers at the back post with 12 minutes remaining. 1-1 it finished. Move along, nothing else to see or say.

Positives ? Well, we can look to 1 defeat in 10 games. We can look to Brentford remaining above QPR and Fulham in the Championship table, despite the Cottagers 5-4 win at Sheffield United. We can look to another point clear of the bottom three, surely the first priority for any side in this division at the start of the season. We can look to Dean Smith retaining faith in Neal Maupay after journalist Ian Moose made those quite pathetic and very public comments at the weekend.

Likewise, if we were going to have a below par performance then get it out of the system now. Whilst Dean would name an unchanged team for the third successive game, his own thoughts – which you can hear in full on Billy’s interview – were that perhaps he should have freshened things up a bit.

Personally, I’d have loved to have seen Sergi start. He was the one player to slightly liven things up. I’d also question Dean’s choice of substitutions but what do I know? I’m not going to sit here and slag off individuals. Moreso when collectively the team had a very off (and, to be fair, out of character) performance.

It was an odd one. When the highlight of the evening was marvelling at the efficiency of our ticket office in sorting out the faux pas that arose after one supporter 😉 discovered upon trying to enter the ground just before kick off that they’d bought their group of guests tickets for New Road rather than the terrace, then perhaps we leave it in the record books. They’ll show it ended with a 1-1 draw and another point for the Bees.

Perhaps that’s what we take from this game. The point and ever increased admiration for Mads and the ticketing team. Certainly, it makes slightly better reading than the tumbleweed moment we witnessed. Move along, nothing else to see. On an evening that had been promoted under the ‘Brentford nights’ banner it ended up being a bit of a ‘Brentford nightmare’.

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Oh well. Supporters’ picking this one apart won’t change anything. That’s Dean’s job and no doubt he’ll focus on doing that this week. Certainly, he was quite vocal in recognising our and his faults.

Instead, we’ve got Monday night’s trip to QPR to look forward to. With the not so super hoops losing again (this time 2-0 at Derby) and a large contingent of Bees jumping on the 237, we’ve a great chance to continue our recent good form against Rangers. Just as long as the players turn up.

Nick Bruzon

Will we be in the strangest draw yet after QPR game? Will you be there on Saturday for stadium news?

22 Aug

Brentford travel to QPR in the second round of the Carabao cup tonight with the tournament now sparking as much interest in the latest instalment of their guide to cocking up a draw as in the ties that precede it. And there’s some positive news on the stadium front c/o Beesotted, BU, The GPG, BIAS and the club with a forum taking place this Saturday prior to the Wolves game where the new plans will be discussed further

First up, the Carabao Cup (league cup).

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump pulls Norwich City to play Tottenham. BAD. FAKE DRAW

 

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Beesotted amongst those to organise this event

Nick Bruzon