Tag Archives: Accrington Stanley

Scott Hogan earns the ultimate recognition but is FIFA better than Nintendo?

22 Sep

scott-hoganWith Brentford getting themselves ready for a return to action at Wolves this weekend, all the talk has been about Scott Hogan. His goals speak for themselves but, once more, those Republic of Ireland stories are doing the rounds.

Perhaps too soon for a player with just handful of Championship games but just about as many goals under his belt? Or a chance for the Irish to grab a player who is, metaphorically, ‘on fire’ and terrifying defences up and down the land? Somebody really should use that one. It might catch on. Please. No.

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 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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The height of mid-80’s video game sophistication. Spot the ball

 

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Super Soccer. Took things to new levels of, erm, super

 

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That TOTW bench

 

Nick Bruzon

Football’s farcical 24 hours as one innovates and one goes a bit ‘Ratners’

31 Aug

This could be the most crazy 24 hours in modern football. We’ve already had the farce of last night’s Checkatrade trophy opening round where the lure of West Ham and Leicester City U-23 teams (please note, your definition of under 23 may vary) was not enough to persuade supporters to drop the proposed #BteamBoycott in this most maligned of tournaments. And then today sees ‘Transfer Deadline day’ as Brentford supporters join the rest of the footballing community in wondering if any new names will be coming through the ‘in door’ or if anyone is heading out?

Jim White, Natalie Sawyer and the rest of the gang lead the madness on Sky Sports before the window eventually ‘slams shut’ (TM) . You all know the drill by now. Yellow ties, yellow dresses and lots of cutting to empty stadia where nothing is happening. Plus, presumably, archive footage of Harry Redknapp leaning out of a car (subject to his sore knee).

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…..

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Jim and Natalie do their thing on deadline days gone by

 

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Brentford’s most recent signing activity

 

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Nick Bruzon

Plenty of questions as Bees and Bolton await ‘win or bust’ clash

5 Apr

Brentford take on Bolton Wanderers tonight, knowing that a win should all but end any lingering thoughts about a shock relegation whilst, at the same time, dooming our opponents to League 1 (maths aside) should Fulham also emerge triumphant from their game . For one team, the chance to take on the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United – certainly on current form. For the other, trips to Northampton Town and Accrington Stanley could be on the cards.

Those are the stark realities between going down or staying up. At least, from a playing perspective. The off field and financial impact is sure to be infinitely greater but, from the supporters perspective, who and where the team is playing has to be well up there as the priority.

This has all been noted several times in recent weeks, of course. Yet to take survival for granted is a foolhardy action and moreso as a 14 point gap had halved over a period that had seen the Bees lose 11 out of 14 competitive fixtures in 2016. Then we beat Nottingham Forest at the weekend and everything seemed back to normal.

Whilst one would assume that the gap is too big now, I’ve supported Brentford far too long take to anything for certain. Season after season, until we are mathematically safe (or promoted – it does happen, sometimes) it becomes a case of gritting teeth and clenching buttocks. So, will we do it this time around?

The short answer is, yes. 9 points (effectively 10) is simply too big a gap. There are 7(seven) teams below us, many of whom need to play each other still. That’s almost a third of the teams in the league. Indeed, a win for the Bees tonight will take us to the same number of points as 12th placed Wolves .

And that’s not me assuming victory is a given. Bolton will no doubt provide very dangerous opposition. This really is ‘win or bust’ for them and so they may aswell just go for it. How often have we seen teams come out all guns blazing when their backs are to the wall ? How often have we seen an almost certain home victory fail to materialise?

Whilst I’d take nothing for granted in this most unusual of seasons, who didn’t honestly expect us to pick up all three points last campaign at home to Bolton and also Millwall? As the Bees entered the denouement of that one,chasing their Premier League promotion slot, both games ended 2-2 when form dictated that no result beyond ‘home win’ was possible.

Can we go one better tonight? With the Bees finally back to winning ways following the weekend win at the City Ground one would hope so. Morale should be high amongst both fans and players whilst the pressure should have eased off somewhat. At least, for Brentford.

Aside from over-confidence, the other point of caution is around injuries. The BBC report that Alan Judge and David Button, the main contenders for our ‘player of the season’, were both “nursing knocks after Saturday’s win at Nottingham Forest but should be fit”.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

Alan Judge – goals and set pieces make him a ‘must’

All being well this is nothing but a cautionary note and both players will be available. I don’t think there’s any team in this league (or higher) who wouldn’t want players of this quality.

The other big name to be missing will be Mark Burridge. Whatever my thoughts on the Bees Player team in his absence, nobody can deny that they over saw a win for Brentford. Rather than lucky shirt, magic pants, Dean Smith’s tactics or any other reasoning, could a return to form simply be down to our commentator par-excellence being off duty for a few games?

Should the Bees secure all three points this evening, there could be more than a fair few ‘cheeky’ posts flying around social media in Mark’s direction.

In all seriousness though, this isn’t going to be easy. Yet, at the same time, Brentford should surely have enough in them to lay any fleeting relegation concerns to rest.

Surely…

Nick Bruzon

If another player is going to be missing, can we find our voice?

25 Mar

Is Josh McEachran out for the rest of the season? With the loan window not so much being slammed as quietly easing shut yesterday, it was being reported on both West London Sport and Sky Sports (although both Lyall Thomas) that the former Chelsea man has suffered a training ground injury similar to the one that kept him out for such a long time at the Marinus end of the season. And with nobody else joining Leandro Rodríguez from Everton, despite suggestions after the Blackburn game that Head Coach Dean Smith was looking to make two more short-term acquisitions what does this mean for the Bees?

Firstly, and as has been said many times, our local press love talk of a double transfer swoop. An event that is actually rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal, when it comes to inbound activity this is one area where I take nothing as fact until Matthew Benham has fired up his cryptic clue generator, Besotted have run an ‘exclusive’ or Brentford official have published the ‘signing shirt’ photo. I’ll also accept: ‘player holding scarf aloft’ or ‘new man sitting in portacabin holding pen over contract’.

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Josh signs for Brentford – classic ‘contract’ pose

Still, aside from goalkeepers (where Dean can still delve into the market to cover a ‘7 day emergency’), we now know the make up of the players available to see us, hopefully, over the line and start preparations for a third successive season in the Championship. Or do we?

The McEachran question is very much out there with nothing, as at the time of writing (Friday morning), from Brentford official. It would be a huge shame for the Bees and the player if this is the case. Josh did, if we’re being honest, struggle at the early part of his Griffin Park career but had been showing steady improvement over his 15 games. Now, it could be back to square one.

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The injuries have piled up this season

Moreso, it would be yet another injury in a season which has been overshadowed (amongst other things) by the vast amount of players sidelined for medical reasons. We were told at the fans forum earlier in the season it was nothing but coincidence yet this horrendous run of bad luck has hardly helped our cause.

Still, we are where we are and there is enough quality in this squad to more than see us home. Should they play to their potential and ability – as a team. None of this ‘one man show’ stuff that we saw against a Blackburn side who were there for the taking.

Presumably Alan McCormack will slot straight into Josh’s position whilst we can also expect that other Chelsea wunderkind, John Swift, to return after the strange affair of the ‘hipster’ meme. Here’s hoping this period of enforced absence will have him reinvigorated and firing on all guns, back to the player who helped tear Wolves apart back in February. That result, a rare moment of solace in a 2016 that has seen Brentford lose 11 out of our 14 fixtures. Only the win at Preston and draw with Leeds in late January breaking the run of L’s blotting Dean’s copy book this calendar year.

We can moan and bitch about results all we want. Most of us have at various points, myself included. And rightly so at times.Yet without a bit of solidarity now, we could conceivably be facing a desperate start to 2016/17. In League 1.

The Bees still have to play 4 of the teams below us and with the gap a mere 6 points between us and the relegation spots, let’s not take anything for granted. Let’s not leave it too late to find our voice and our unity. Let’s not leave it too late to stop sniping at each other.

Absolutely, the players and the management team have to play their part. They are the only ones who can secure the points. But as supporters, we also have a our own role. Assuming we want to stay up, of course.

I saw a quite terrifying graphic on Twitter last night, c/o Jonathan Burchill. It highlighted this season and our previous Championship relegation campaign, back in 1992/93.

No words needed…..

The choice is simple. Stay up and we could be taking on the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United (I’m counting Chelsea as safe now, despite their mid-season hilarity). Throw it away, and it’ll be trips to Bristol Rovers, Oxford and Accrington Stanley.

Accrington Stanley, you may ask. Who are they?

Exactly.

Nick Bruzon

From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

Money can’t necessarily buy you success. Of course, at Brentford having the sort of finances available to the likes of the teams at the top end of the Premier League is just a pipe dream. Yet it made last night’s results all the more interesting as this most captivating of top flight seasons continued. Despite their mega-millions, Manchester City (at mid-table Liverpool) and Arsenal (hosting relegation candidates Swansea) both lost against opposition they’d have been expected, on paper, to breeze past.

The flip side to this is that when you are operating on a reduced budget, unearthing that game changing player is a truly joyful experience. And this is where Brentford come into the equation. The previous column looked at, amongst other things, the FourFourTwo magazine survey on your club’s ‘cult hero’ over the top four divisions.

It is genuinely a fascinating read (my own contribution aside) with the results, being published on-line now showing clubs A-M. Starting with Accrington Stanley, it has so far gone through Brentford, along with the aforementioned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to the point they had, at the time of writing, got as far as Morecambe.

So few of these players are the big money signings making the headlines today but each have their special place amongst the fans. And the reason for mentioing this again was, specifically, the chance to talk a bit more about Brentford. Or, rather, our own nominee – Gary Blissett.

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All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

Given the constraints of the Four FourTwo site, somebody like Bliss (not to mention those who ran him close when the question was put out there on Facebook last month) deserved more than the 100-150 words available. So here is the full, unexpurgated version.

Gary Blissett – cult hero

Where do you start when looking for a cult hero? For a team like Brentford, where the trophy cabinet is more an aspiration than anything else, most people outside of TW8 probably know us for the sort of thing that would make TV’s “What happened Next…?” rather than the record books.

Goalkeeper Chic Brodie having his career ended by a runaway dog. Millwall fans throwing a hand grenade onto the pitch (November 1965, for the record). The failed takeover bid by QPR that would have seen Brentford cease to exist and our bitterest rivals move into Griffin Park. Eight play-off defeats out of eight (the least successful of all English teams when reaching football’s ‘final four’).

Then, of course, there was ‘that penalty’ in the final minute of the final game of 2012/13. A winner takes all encounter with promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers.

Only one team could make it to the Championship and, with the scores locked at 0-0, the Bees were awarded a 90th minute spot kick. The subsequent tussle for the ball involving club captain Kevin O’Connor (approaching his 500th game), and Marcello Trotta (on loan from Fulham, of all places) is one as familiar as the Italian’s subsequent effort thudding off the crossbar and, with Bees players prostrate on the ground in despair, our opponents going down the other end where they scored to secure promotion and the title.

That’s how we do things at Griffin Park. Glorious failure being as familiar a taste as the pre-match hot dog. Yet when we do win things, it makes them all the sweeter. Every now and again it happens. And even when we don’t, we still have a lot of fun along the way. Thanks, largely, to those figures you’d label as Cult Heroes.

Big John O’Mara who, in his first season, scored 25 goals in 40 games. Centre back Peter Gelson, who made 471 appearances in a Griffin Park career that stretched from 1960 to 1975. The legendary Jim Towers and George Francis aka The Terrible Twins. Playing together for most of the 1950s, they still remain (respectively) the club’s first and second highest all time goal scorers.

Hard as nails players such as Terry Hurlock, Terry Evans and Martin Grainger.

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

Those who just seemed to exude personality and had the crowd eating out of their hand – Allan Cockram, Lloyd Owusu and Marcus Gayle (just don’t sing that song near your granny).

Modern day heroes including Jota – the last minute goal being his own personal calling card. Toumani Diagouraga – “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the Ealing Road. He’d last done it in March 2013 and we had to sit through another 111 games without him troubling the scorers before he was sold to Leeds at the end of January. Less than 40 minutes into his full debut….

Or how about Sam Saunders? The perma-tanned wing wizard (and former tube worker) so beloved of fans that most would allow him to ‘have relations’ with their wives, if the terrace chant is to be believed.

But when it comes down to it, there can be only one winner. The moustachioed legend that is Gary Blissett. aka ‘Bliss’.

79 goals from 223 league appearances (105 from 291 total) in a 6 year career from 1987-1993 don’t even tell half the story. His brace against boyhood heroes Manchester City in the 1988-89 FA Cup fourth round sent Griffin Park into meltdown as the Bees earned a 3-1 passage into the fifth round. There, Bliss repeated the feat as his late pair at Blackburn Rovers helped Brentford to a deserved 2-0 win. Sadly it wasn’t to be in an Anfield quarter final as the Bees bowed out despite giving all-conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads) an almighty scare.

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Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

His defining goal was probably the final game of the 91/92 season. With the Bees having won the previous five on the spin, including a 4-0 demolition of Fulham, we travelled to Peterborough knowing a win and some good fortune could make the impossible, possible.

Bliss was the man who popped up with a first half header as we then sat through an awful lot of ‘squeaky bum time’ for a famous 1-0 win. With other results going our way, including a shock defeat for a Birmingham City side that Saint & Greavsie had earlier congratulated on TV for winning the League, we snuck up the blind side and became Champions. Sometimes, it happens.

Gary was an ever present the following season as, despite the sale of strike partner Dean Holdsworth, his goals almost kept us in English football’s second tier.

But there was more to Gary than short shorts, a luxuriant ‘tache and goals, goals, goals.

A wannabe goalkeeper, he was the man who donned the gloves during a Championship game with Southend United after injury, and no spare on the bench, meant we got to enjoy that wonderful moment where an outfield player goes between the posts. Bliss promptly ignored every piece of advice being shouted to him by youth ‘keeper Ashley Bayes and kept a clean sheet.

But it was his red card at Craven Cottage after what we will politely call a ‘coming together’ with Fulham ‘keeper Jim Stannard that is a moment as popular with Bees’ fans as that goal at Peterborough. Bliss left the field to a standing ovation in a game that showed us the West London derby meant as much to the players as the supporters.

All the money in the bank can’t buy a player like Bliss. The £60,000 we paid Crewe back in 1987, even now, still seems like the bargain of the century.

Like Marcus Gayle and Allan Cockram, Bliss still visits Griffin Park. Catching up with him briefly in the week, he told me, “ I follow every game and after my beloved City Brentford are of course the team I want to see succeed more than any other team or club in the world.

I am sure MB will have Plan B, C, D and more and will one day be playing at The Ethiad IN THE LEAGUE

For those amongst us feeling slightly down about things on the pitch this year, these are surely words to put your trust in. If a demi-God such as Bliss believes, then that’s all the inspiration we need .

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

Nick Bruzon

All to play for but is an upset on the cards?

26 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 stroll against Wolves. After a day in which the postponement of our trip to Hull City AFC (thanks to their FA cup replay with Arsenal) and an end to the fascination with all things FCM (thanks to Manchester United remembering how to score goals) were the main talking points for many Bees fans, it’ll be good to have a match to focus on once more.

So, Rotherham . The Championship table doesn’t lie and the Millers now find themselves in a bottom three who are already six points, and inferior goal difference, adrift of an MK Dons side occupying the final safe berth. A gap of what is effectively 7(seven) points will be hard enough to reel in at the best of times, let alone when you are on a miserable run of form and with only 13 games to go. Something will need to change pretty quickly or they’ll be digging out the maps for next season’s trip to Accrington Stanley.

Which makes me wary about Saturday. Not so much for us but more the mind state of the opposition. Dean Smith’s team reminded us against Wolves just how well they can play when allowed to run at their opposition and take the ball forwards. Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge and John Swift (see, it wasn’t a typo in Wednesday’s article) were excellent and I’d love to see more of the same. Then again, we were playing a Wolves team who seemed to have replaced their entire midfield with a colander.

Surely there’s no chance we’ll get similar opposition in successive games? Instead, one can only imagine Rotherham are already approaching that last chance saloon and will want to turn around before they start drinking.

As such, expect dogged resistance from a side who last won in early January (albeit against Brighton) and haven’t scored in three games. I have no doubt Neil Warnock will be asking his team to come flying out of the traps at us although, equally, I have no doubt that if we can see out that early storm then the Bees can sweep to a fourth consecutive Championship win over a side we’ve beaten 2-0, 1-0 and 2-1 since we both got promoted from League 1.

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Are Rotherham approaching the bar? And League 1?

The home game at Griffin Park this time around was one punctuated with three stunning goals, including a brace for Alan Judge.

I’ve had to remind myself just how good the first was whilst, let’s not forget, he even popped up with one on his head for the winner. More of the same would do very nicely and, however we get there, is the score I’m calling for tomorrow. Confidence is a massive thing in football and with Dean Smith’s team surely full of it, we should be too good for a team whose next three games are against top 6 teams and that my online bookmaker (reference purposes only) shows as 1/8 on to go down.

Alan Judge – his first minute opener was THAT good !

Yesterday’s other talking point was the postponement of the Hull game, originally scheduled for March 8th, due to their ongoing FA Cup involvement with Arsenal. This was an inevitable casualty of the fixture list as soon as the original tie ended 0-0 and will be a source of frustration to many.

Good luck to them. I’d love it for us to be the ones having to cancel games and moreso after our third round capitulation to Walsall back in January.

That was a dreadful performance from the Bees and one which, if you recall, saw us suffer the further indignity of that strange half time ‘lap of honour’ from FCM following the news they’d drawn Manchester United in the Europa League.

How good if we could have made headway in that competition (FA cup, not Europa league) rather than match last season’s home defeat at the first hurdle? Maybe next year but, until then, I’ll certainly wish good luck to our Championship rivals in the replay.

Which brings me full circle back to last night. Thankfully, Brentford ‘official’ have listened and scaled back the Midtjylland tub-thumping to zero. Twitter and the official site were both silent before, during and after the game. It marks a refreshing change in the media/comms team and was probably no bad thing as the Danes saw their ‘cup final’ end in a 5-1 second leg defeat.

Cup football is a hotbed of upsets. If even Manchester United can get a win then maybe Arsenal could end up getting dumped too. It would certainly take the sting off our own postponement if that were to happen.

Although, perhaps, lay off the Griffin Park laps of honour.

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Alan Judge – goals and set plays against Rotherham last time out

Nick Bruzon

The stuff of dreams becomes a nightmare

5 Nov

What a time of contrasting managerial emotions for Brentford and QPR. Hot off the heels of our derby day victory over the Loftus Road outfit (a three points that Derby County then enjoyed on Tuesday night) Rangers have parted company with Chris Ramsey. Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has just been announced in the shortlist for manager-of-the-month.

I take no pleasure in anybody losing his or her job. Regardless of the team. Indeed, it doesn’t seem like five minutes ago we were embroiled in Village-gate and Mark Warburton was hot favourite to take over at QPR. Instead, with Tony Fernandes announcing that he was close to announcing his ‘dream manager’, Warbs eventually went to Rangers (the Glasgow incarnation) whilst Chris Ramsey took over at Loftus Road.

How things changed. Rangers exited the Premier League; Brentford came to within a play off game of making it. And now, with the Bees on the charge once more, QPR continue their slide downwards.

No doubt their fans and top brass will be worried they are looking like following the recent likes of Wolves directly into the Division One. With it, will come potential games against the likes of Mansfield Town, Carlisle and Accrington Stanley next season. Whilst I can’t see it happening it does show how fleeting football form can be.

Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has received the expected ‘reward’ for an October that saw us pick up 12 points out of 15 and four successive wins. Will he scoop the final honour? Well, being honest, I expect it to go to Steve Bruce at Hull City – they were unbeaten and a point better off. Likewise, victory over us on Tuesday (albeit in November) saw them reach the top of the Championship table.

The Bees came close but couldn't get past Hull on Tuesday

The Bees came close but couldn’t get past Hull on Tuesday

Either way, it is a tremendous reversal of form following the days of Marinus and Roy.

And nowhere more has this been typified than in Alan Judge, who is also up for the player-of-the-month award. His four assists, three goals and scintillating play make him a very genuine candidate for this award. Ironically, former Bee Andre Gray, who has been scoring goals for fun at Burnley, could be a very serious rival for this one.

Whatever happens, I’d rather be in our situation than that of Rangers who, this morning, will be sorting through the monogrammed CR tracksuits and starting the search for their next dream manager.

As for us, whilst I’d hope Lee wins the prize I can’t look past Steve Bruce. Although, should he do it, then get ready to bet against Hull City at the weekend.

We all know how that jinx normally works.

Alan Judge - has been on fire (not literally) in October

Alan Judge – has been on fire (not literally) in October

Nick Bruzon

Arsenal and Manchester United show lure of the FA Cup

6 Jan

So the ultimate price of Brentford coming unstuck in the FA Cup third round was missing out on the chance to entertain Arsenal. Instead of Monsieur Wenger bringing his long coat and faulty glasses (“I didn’t see the incident”) to Griffin Park, it is Brighton and Hove Albion who will take on the Gunners in the next round.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Harlee - gutted

Harlee – gutted