Tag Archives: Alan McCormack

Brentford held by Norwich as 2016 ends with a whimper, Jools and Robbie’s hand gel

1 Jan

New Years Eve. So often the most over-rated night of the year. The Emperor’s New Clothes of nights out where society dictates that you will enjoy yourself but then promptly laughs in your face by offering up Jools Holland boogie-woogying his way through another Hootenanny as a means of doing so. A turgid, self-indulgent affair whose primary function (aside from showing how many friends our host has – a musical Ian Moose, if you will) seems to be in proving that Roland Rivron remains alive. Take that, 2016 – here’s one you didn’t get your hands on.

And so it was at Griffin Park where Brentford and Norwich City were the pre-Jools entertainment in a televised game that would have had most of those watching at home asleep in their armchairs long before the former Squeeze man had begun tinkling on his ivories. Instead of the excitement we’d been promised  by Sky. Instead of the pre-match buzz generated by the news that Jota was returning. Instead of (potentially) seeing Scott Hogan off in style we had nothing but an awful game of football. Sometimes you get them and this was up there.

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The Bees could find no way through the Canaries

Dean Smith seemed so intent on avoiding a repeat of the month’s 5-0 hammering at Carrow Road that he strangled the midfield and offered minimal width. The aforementioned Hogan looked off the pace and out of sorts whilst the slippery conditions did nobody any favours. That the Bees ended the game having no shots on target tells you everything you need to know as we were left unable to break through a Norwich team who  played the last 15 minutes a man down, after Robbie Brady was shown straight red for a foul on Ryan Woods.

Watching the ‘highlights’ afterwards (and I use that word in the loosest sense) it didn’t seem half as bad as it had done live, with no chance of a replay. The incident, which happened right in front of yours truly, looked a nailed on ‘red’ with the Ginger Pirlo likewise able to demonstrate a nasty looking contact mark to both the referee and protesting Norwich players as Brady eventually trooped off.

Yet rightly or wrongly, Brentford had been handed an advantage. Here was a chance to go for it. Despite like for like subs already having been made (Barbet on for the ever impressive Tom Field and favourite son Romaine Sawyers replacing Josh McEachran) here was an opportunity to apply some pressure. Pull off a defender. Maybe Nico. Stick on the pace and trickery of Josh Clarke to run riot?

But no, it wasn’t until the scoreboard read 88 that John Egan was subbed by The Hoff. Why so late? There was hardly any time to make an impact. Why not inject some much needed pace and width? Why, if you are going to take off a defender, choose the player who is our second highest scorer for the season?

Even then, we still had chance. Hogan was played clean through, only to be denied by a wonderful last gasp tackle from Ryan Bennett. With the striker unable to unleash it meant we were denied a penalty kick although unlike the trio of bad decisions in the Boxing Day clash with Cardiff City, this one the correct call.

The Bees will stay up. The Bees won’t go up. We haven’t got a divine right to be any good and, at the end of the day, Clive, we haven’t lost. We looked the other day at viewing everything in both historical and long term context and that still rings true. Yet even allowing for that, it is still frustrating to see teams that we should be beating given the opportunity to run at us (there’s no denying Norwich City had the better chances) and around us as safety first and backwards seems to be the order of the day. Given the resources we do have, surely it is more a case of being able to get the best out of what we have and positioning them accordingly to react to, or even heaven forbid anticipate, the situation? When these players are on fire, they really can perform wonders.

In the end, but for Cameron Jerome’s woeful shooting  (Cameron Diaz would have done better with one particular effort in the second half) we could have ended this one pointless. Which, ironically, is how all supporters finished the game. What seemed to be an announcement by Peter Gilham just prior to kick off that club shop loyalty points were going to expire that day, was then confirmed on social media and in an article published on the clubwebiste at 18.18 (that’s well into the first half of the game we were watching) to say these would expire at 19.45.

And sure enough, on getting home and ‘logging on’ my balance was zero.

No doubt this was all in the terms and conditions but would it have hurt to make an announcement a little more in advance to come over as a little better organised? Look, I may well have missed this and if so then ‘hands up’ but if not, it would seem a really poor way to end a promotion which is designed around encouraging supporters to spend and accrue. Which is a shame for no other reason than we’re normally so good at fan interaction.

Instead, 2016 closed with two promotion hopes at an end – that in the league and that in the club shop.

In its place, 2017 arrived. Off pitch Jools traded places for Robbie Williams to deliver a lumpen set of karaoke greatest hits. The phrase ‘going through the motions’ sprang to mind whilst as the traditional Auld Lang Syne ended, he was caught on camera wiping his hands with anti-bacterial hand sanitiser moments after high-fiving his audience. Stay classy.

At Griffin Park, 2017 brings more questions. How is Alan Judge? Will we see him, Macca or KK again? Will the club break ground at Lionel Road? Will Scott Hogan be sold? Will he play against Birmingham on Monday? Just who will any goal threat come from if he isn’t on the pitch? Could we see him and Jota in the same team? Let’s not forget that the talismanic Spaniard is winging his way back to Griffin Park and, apparently, it was he who initiated the discussions.

Whilst the pressure and expectation on his shoulders will be immense, there’s no denying the roof will be raised should he make an appearance on Saturday in the cup. Certainly he gives Dean Smith a wonderful option.

If used correctly.

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He’s coming home

Nick Bruzon

Lewis will stay another day. How about Scott as Santa Saunds does his thing and FA get heavy

21 Dec

Well that was a day of seasonal good news. Brentford were very much in the festive mood as Lewis Macleod was given a contract extension despite his long term injury whilst down the road at West Middlesex Hospital, the squad were very much doing their own ‘Santa’ thing. Not so seasonal, but of equal interest to Bees fans, was the five match ban handed out to Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United for racial abuse. This, given a similar punishment suffered by our own Alan McCormack back in October.

First up though, the positive news. Brentford have shown many times how we look after our own. There  is the well documented way that Scott Hogan was treated during his own lengthy recovery period (18 months out) after suffering that awful injury just a few games into his Griffin Park career. First class medical treatment all the way and a contract extension were the order of the day as the club showed huge faith in a player who has since began to pay that back in bucketloads.

Scott’s goalscoring record is such that there is genuine worry amongst the Bees faithful we’ll be cashing in come January. He went on that stunning run towards the end of last season as he edged his way back to full fitness whilst now, only Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United sits above him in the scoring charts. Imagine those two together. Actually, don’t. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Then there was the contract extension offered to Jota as our talismanic midfielder (if Sam Saunders was Spanish….) was allowed to go back to Spain on loan, for personal reasons. Who could forget his letter to supporters at the time where he promised that , “This isn’t “goodbye” but more of a “see you later” ? Who could forget our own signal to the player in offering him a contract extension despite the fact he was moving away from Griffin Park – albeit a move that, despite our deepest fears, one still hopes remains a temporary decision.

And now Lewis Macleod has become the latest beneficiary of Matthew Benham’s backing of his players as the former Rangers man has been give a year’s contract extension which will see him tied to Griffin Park until the summer of 2019. This, despite like Scott at the time of his injury, barely a handful of appearances since joining the club and the youngster now facing a long period on the sidelines.

When the road to recovery must seem long and torturous, with no guarantees at the end of it, one can’t begin to imagine what a boost this faith in individuals must be. At a time when all around are getting on with what they do best – playing football – to see how much we value those on the sidelines and are prepared to make such a public statement of belief is a huge, huge thing. We’ve done it in thee past and no doubt will do it again.  Here’s hoping for a Hoganesque payback when Lewis is fully fit.

It was interesting, also, how he got into the festive spirit by emulating one time Christmas chart toppers East 17. The boy band, of course, occupying the penthouse suite at the hit parade hotel back in December 1994 with their ‘Stay Another Day’ single.

Despite being number one at Christmas, rather than an actual Christmas record in the vein of Slade, Wizzard, Coldplay or Shakin’ Stevens (whose own effort is not only the best Christmas song of all time but the best pop single. Ever), the band’s use of fake snow and furry parka jackets in the promo video now sees them embedded deep into festive culture. (See also: Frankie Goes to Hollywood – The Power of Love. Not a Christmas record yet still now considered one based upon the time of release)

As such, it was great to see Lewis getting involved with his own choice of seasonal attire at yesterday’s contract signing. As ever you can read the full story, with the proper photographs, on ‘official’.

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Next up, Sam Saunders. Can he do anything wrong? No, being the answer as the ever popular midfielder was amongst those who made the trip to West Mid to hand out Christmas presents to children on the Starlight Ward. The pictures and the comments from the players on Social media spoke for themselves and showed, yet again, just how much this club does for our own local community.

One can’t begin to think what it is like for these youngsters to be in hospital at any point, let alone during the Christmas season – a period that traditionally sees celebrations at home and time spent with friends and family over the prolonged school holidays. As such, a gesture of this nature is one that can only be very well received. Wonderful work from all at Griffin Park. Yet again.

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From the positive to the not so. The story of Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey being given a five game ban for what is described as : “Aggravated Breach as defined in Rule E3(2), as it included reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or nationality” is one that hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst our own support.

Of course, we have our own parallel with the five game sentence handed down to Macca back in October after he was found guilty of : Using abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official in the 52nd minute of the game against Cardiff City on 19 April 2016, contrary to FA Rule E3(1) . Moreso, given his offence was, “An “aggravated breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to gender.

Back then this column wondered : This is a huge ban and if nothing else Alan would seem to be patient zero when the FA have decided to clamp down hard. Yet, also, they’ve now drawn a line in the sand which I’ll be very keen to see how strongly they enforce ongoing.

And here is your answer. Another breach of rule E3(2) and another five game ban. If players were operating in a new environment about what is deemed acceptable before, there can be no doubt now. Speak in such a manner towards officials or fellow pros – pay a very heavy penalty.

From an on-pitch perspective, it means Shelvey will be missing when Newcastle United come to Griffin Park for the televised game in January 16th. He’ll be a huge loss to the Magpies, if his performance on our own trip to the North-East was anything to go by. At one point it looked as though he was going to inspire a Geordie bracketing as the home team set off at 100mph, with the Bees caught cold in the starting blocks, and Shelvey providing ‘assists’ for fun.

I can’t pretend to take any pleasure from a story of this nature on a day of such seasonal goodwill. But, at the same time, it would be hypocritical not to realise what a helping hand it offers us. Knowing that Newcastle will be missing one of their danger men, and the architect of our own downfall last time out, when the battle of the Championship’s leading scorers takes place.

Still, all that is some time off. For now, we’ve got Christmas to look forward to and the hope that Scott is still a Bee by the time that game takes place. I’ve no doubt our faith in the player will be rewarded come January…..

Nick Bruzon

As Dean prepares for City game, what has he learned from the weekend? Who starts?

13 Dec

Midweek decisions. With Brentford travelling to Bristol City tonight, I’ve got some sympathy for Bees boss Dean Smith. My own all conquering Fantasy Football team has suddenly been shot to pieces by the red cards for Manchester City duo  Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho combined with long term injuries to Philippe Coutinho and Charlie Austin at Liverpool and Southampton respectively. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up.

The danger of over tinkering to remedy this has already blown up in my face at the weekend  (yes Jermaine Defoe, you do seem to be a cheap replacement for the free scoring Manchester City man) and could get worse.  The Bees, meanwhile, are at Ashton Gate tonight with Dean facing a similar set of decisions.

Thankfully, there are no new injuries but with this being the middle game in a set of three within eight days (and that’s before you even hit the busy Christmas schedule – wonderful planning from the league) is it a case of doing some longer term planning? Will he change things around a bit or does he stick with more of the same and potentially run his team into the ground?

To be honest, I can’t see him mixing things up. Whilst Burton Albion didn’t provide the stiffest of opposition it was a case of getting back to winning ways. One of the oldest of football clichés says you never change a winning team whilst I’d also chuck in the one about taking each game as it comes. Besides, what should he actually do?

As in the game with Birmingham City, it was as much a case of celebrating what hit the back of the net as lamenting what didn’t but at least on this occasion we got out of it with points. Is it simple bad luck or something intrinsically flawed with his set up?

Personally I’m in the former camp. Mostly. The plan seems a simple one, play it through for Scott Hogan to get on the end of and, when it works, it does so to devastating effect. The goal machine is now three clear of Tammy Abraham who he’ll be up against tonight in the race for leading Championship scorer. Only Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United has scored more this season. That’s a  stunning achievement although one which does show our incredible reliance on Dean’s Plan A.

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The Bees celebrated more goals for Scott at the weekend

As in the Birmingham game, we saw  the return of the three centre back system and I’m sure Dean will give that another go. Should Tom Field (two wins from his two Brentford appearances) get a start or will he have to remain content on the bench? The system is one that needs to be persisted with – the opening goal against the Blues was horrible whilst the marking for Burton would have shamed a primary school team. Yet it is a system which looks as though it will have merit whilst solving Dean’s problem of how to play at least three, if not all four, of his centre backs.

As for the midfield, one can only guess at just what is it that stops KK even making it onto the field of play? But if he is to get a look in, it needs to be a decent run of appearances rather than a token cameo. It is one that has been much needed in recent weeks – if only to try and break up the poor run – but Dean has remained steadfast. And now, with the team back to winning ways, the Austrian may aswell take a pair of tweezers to Bristol in order to pluck the splinters from his backside.

Then again, the start against Burton (at least, until the substitutions) means no change will, or should, happen. Romaine Sawyers was quite wonderful, Nico was full of fight whilst Josh McEachran picked up where he left off against Birmingham. There was a strong case for Alan Mac but one that was resisted and it seems to have been the correct decision.

Let’s not pretend we were perfect against Burton. But we were much improved. Indeed, but for that twist of fate it could have been more. We can see from the stands how unlucky we are being although my slight concern is that listening to Dean speak and reading ‘official’ it is an element that is being heavily focussed upon. “We could have done this…. the referee should have done that…. how did the ‘keeper stop it?” rather than simply, asking the question – why aren’t we finding the net more?

In a column that has already mentioned double cliché, let’s go for the hat-trick. You make your own luck in this game. Create enough chances and, eventually, things will go in your favour. Something will go in off a defender’s backside. The referee will wave somebody on when they are five yards ahead of the last defender. The opposition goalkeeper will be distracted by chants of “It’s all your fault” and spill one on the line.

Over 500 hardy souls are travelling up to Bristol tonight. Many more will be listening on BeesPlayer. Here’s hoping they are rewarded for their efforts with another hard fought performance.

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View from the Braemar – it was full blooded on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

7(seven) is the magic number between now and Boxing Day

10 Dec

This could be an interesting 8 days for Brentford. Saturday’s home game with Burton Albion, our last at Griffin Park before Christmas, is followed by trips to Bristol City (Tuesday) and Leeds United next weekend. 9 points that could see us bolster the mid-table position and potentially move beyond are on offer. But what would you take ? 4, 5,6?  Or will nothing less than 9 do?

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A busy 8 days begins with the visit of Burton

Starting today, Burton Albion are the visitors in a game that, surely, must see nothing less than all 3 points being the requirement. Whilst their recent form is marginally better than ours (then again, whose isn’t?), the only victory in the last five has come against Rotherham.

At this point I should be launching into a routine about that being an absolute given. That failure to beat the hapless Millers can only be seen as some yardstick of ineptitude. But, sadly, but we need no reminding of who they have picked up 3 of just 7 (seven) points against this season.

Still, that was then and this is now. Surely nothing but the ultimate bounce back is due? The post-match clear the air meeting has been held following the 5-0 debacle at Norwich. Nobody is ,apparently in any doubt as to what comes next.

Changes will surely be in the air with Alan McCormack returning. Won’t he? Scott Hogan must be itching to fill his boots once more (priced 7/6 to score at any time) whilst the defence have a point to prove. And three to earn.

Meanwhile, in coaching circles, Dean Smith can be comforted by both the addition of Thomas Frank to his team and Chief executive Mark Devlin giving him the ‘not vote of confidence’.

West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore published his own article this week in which he quoted Mark as saying: “I don’t want to go around saying dreaded vote of support. As far as we’re concerned, it’s business as usual.”

Whilst business as usual is probably not the phrase I’d have chosen (our record from the last 8 reading: W1 D1 L6), I can’t see anything but a home win today. Fact. And you can quote me on this at 4.55pm. Apologies Burton, but this team has bouncebackability. And that bounce back starts here.

Beyond that, take your pick. Bristol City, another win. Leeds United are on form although games against them have provided happy hunting grounds in recent seasons. But simply for an excuse to crowbar in the brackets, I’m calling a draw and a final total of 7(seven) points by the time we all get back together on Boxing Day.

Still, let’s get today out of the way first. What finer way to avoid the Christmas shopping and Westfield hell then spending the afternoon at Griffin Park. What better way to go home than with three points in the back pocket.

See you there.

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Thomas Frank has joined Dean’s team

Nick Bruzon

Return of the Mac ? Something has to give as Bees aim to sting Canaries.

3 Dec

Too obvious? Apologies. A full house today in local paper football headline bingo (try saying that after a night out). With Brentford and Norwich City both experiencing what Dean Smith has described as ‘blips’, whilst the teams’ respective form has been well documented as LLL and LLLLL , something has to give at Carrow Road today. The obvious question is, what?

I haven’t seen enough of Norwich City to overly comment on what they are doing wrong all of a sudden. But with the likes of Sergi Canos and Alex Pritchard not featuring at present (although the later did make a 67th minute appearance from the bench last weekend) one has to wonder what talent they have ahed oaf them? And why it is failing to fire after a start to proceedings that made it look as though an immediate return to the Premier League was high on the agenda?

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Sergi – in the unfamiliar yellow and green

The ever wonderful Beesotted have cut to the nub of matter. Do take the time to read their article today in which Norwich supporter Jon Rogers describes the footballing fayre currently on offer as “pedestrian. It’s very congested. It’s sometimes slow and dull”.

Can Dean Smith and Brentford take advantage of this? Sure, we’ve had 1 win in 8 and lost three on the bounce but it still seems incredible that we got nothing out of the Birmingham game. It was the proverbial case of doing everything but score a second goal whilst I’m still in awe at the wonder save Tomasz Kuszczak pulled off to deny Scott Hogan’s net bound effort. We know the defending against Blackburn was uncharacteristically shambolic (although at least the team scored a few) whilst Fulham (h) was the performance that we don’t talk about . Move along, nothing to see here.

Yet how quickly things change, Had we beaten Fulham, we’d have made it into the play-off zone that evening. Now, Brentford sit four points above the relegation place (albeit with another five teams between us and Cardiff City). Yet a win today could take us back up to tenth. Things are still that tight.

So just how does Dean take advantage of slow and dull Norwich? How does he convince his team they really are world beaters. To avert a situation arising where, in his own words, “Sometimes we can catastrophise defeats and that leads to a demise in confidence.

Well, if Norwich are as pedestrian as we’ve been promised, then the likes of Sullay Kaikai and Josh Clarke could run riot. But I’m more interested to see if Dean will perform a further midfield shuffle and parachute Alan McCormack into the side. Is an immediate return following his five match ban and ‘that suspension’ something we can expect?.

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Will Norwich see return of the Mac?

Personally I thought Josh McEachran did really well coming on as substitute at the weekend. Likewise, when the three centre back system settled it looked a lot better than in the opening period. So, for me, its a place on the bench for Macca with Josh (M) in the middle and Josh (C) in place of Lasse. If we’re talking about catastrophising defeat then the great Dane’s miss against Birmingham has enough in it for an Irwin Allen movie (kids, ask your dads). One presumes Romaine Sawyers will keep a place and so that leaves Ryan Woods with Scott Hogan up top.

Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. If it were down to me I’d have given KK a few starts by this juncture. Yet, for whatever reason, he’s currently got more chance of a run around Richmond Park than a run in the team. Likewiswe, with Andy Gogia scoring for fun on loan in Germany and Jota doing God knows what on loan in Spain, the Griffin Park midfield situation has more questions than answers at present.

All are questions that will no doubt be forgotten or, at the least, put to one side should Dean and the boys pick up three points today. Whatever the run of results, there’s enough talent in that Brentford team – as was shown in the way we played in the denouement of the Birmingham game.

Can we pick up where we left off? At 3pm, we find out.

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Griffin Park looked glorious against Birmingham, even if the result wasn’t

Nick Bruzon

The big 4-0(0-0). Will another one bit the dust?

22 Oct

Move along, nothing to see here. For those looking to find out about yesterday’s story, that’s here. For now, its all about Brentford v Barnsley. Our big 4-0-0-0.

There’s not too much can be said that hasn’t already about this one. Saturday’s game is, as has now been very well documented, our 4,000th League fixture. With Brentford sitting just two points off the play off zone, a return to winning ways (after draws with Wigan and Derby along with the loss at Newcastle) would be the perfect way to celebrate this landmark.

Brentford are without Alan McCormack and Lasse Vibe amongst others. Dean mixed it up for Derby on Tuesday night with John Egan partnering Andreas Bjelland in central defence. Sam Saunders and Sullay Kaikai started in midfield. It was a game which ended up as a gritty 0-0, marked by a rock sold Brentford defensive performance.

Which does beg the question as to whether Harlee Dean, suspension over, walks back into the team? Competition is a wonderful thing and with a full Danish international now alongside the established Egan, will the club captain have to be content on the bench this time around?

Personally, I hope so. That’s meant as absolutely no offence to Harlee but, more, recognising that we have a squad. Competition is fierce and players know how football works. If those people drafted in as cover perform well when handed the shirt then surely that success should be rewarded ?

As for Barnsley, well they come into this one on a woeful run of form after getting off to a really strong start to their Championship life. The last 6 league games have seen 5 defeats. That streak only punctuated by a draw with, erm,  draw specialists Aston Villa. The perfect opposition for the big day or could the Tykes prove to be party poopers?

Who knows? My online bookmaker has them as 7/2 to get the win. Brentford 4/5 odds on favourites. But could the McCormack factor have upset morale or preparations? Or will Dean Smith be able to put it all behind him and ensure his squad are in the right frame of mind for this one?

Among the off-field action to look forward to I’ve a sneaking suspicion Terrace Talk will return. It wouldn’t be a landmark game without the incredible work of video guru and roving reporter Sean Ridley. Here’s hoping that camera is in operation. And for the eagle-eyed amongst you, Kitman Bob has already gone live with his latest BBGiveaway.

There’s a bumper edition programme for sale, which includes the interim return of ‘kit obsessive’ . Today’s features some stunners from the Barnsley back catalogue and what, in my opinion, is one of the most distinctive shirts from the halls of football fashion.

Most interesting of all, singer Annelies is back at Griffin Park. She was here for the game against Reading for a pre-match rendition of Hey, Jude. This time, she’ll be out at half time to perform a section of fan requested favourites.

Sadly, The Quo would not appear to be on her playlist this time. That said, we do have both Queen and The Righteous Brothers to look forward to.

Here’s hoping that when Barnsley come visiting, another one bites the dust….

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Nick Bruzon 

What does Brentford ban tell us about FA? And ourselves?

22 Oct

Brentford v Barnsley. It should be a huge game for so many reasons. It will be a huge game for so many reasons. Yet, at the same time, one can’t help but feel it has been somewhat overshadowed by Friday’s news about Alan McCormack. Specifically, for anybody who has been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, that the midfielder has been awarded a five match ban (amongst other punishments) after being found guilty of using abusive language towards an official against Cardiff City back in April.

In typical vague fashion, the FA Statement simply says that he, “Used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official in the 52nd minute of the game against Cardiff City on 19 April 2016, contrary to FA Rule E3(1). ”That it was what they deem , “An “aggravated breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to gender.

The response from Brentford was an equally factual one, acknowledging the punishment whilst adding, “We are awaiting the written reasons for the verdict and neither the player nor the Club will make any further comment on this matter until they have been received.

What he has been found guilty of saying remains, officially, a secret. There are enough theories out there in cyberspace without wishing to warrant further conjecture on that subject.

All we know for sure, is that the ban takes immediate effect, starting with today’s game against Barnsley and including the local derbies against Fulham and QPR amongst those in the period.

So…. OTT? Fair? Is Alan a foulmouthed pig or was it something said off the cuff under the pressures of a live game environment and totally out of character?

The answers to the first two remain a matter of individual opinion whilst only the player himself could answer that last one. Everybody who watches him knows how much Alan wears his heart on his sleeve when playing for the Bees. How badly he wants to win. How much the opposition must fear him. How much he is a firm fan favourite.

Regardless of whether it is out of character, and it’s easy for me to say this from my safe position as numpty on the terrace rather than somebody in a live game environment, you can’t get away with abuse these days. And rightly so, quite frankly.

This isn’t the ‘70s when homophobia and racism were deemed acceptable. When the idea of a woman playing football was seen as something laughable. That she was somebody who belonged in the kitchen and ’the other room’ (although the President of Nigeria begged to differ last Friday).

Like it or not. Out of character or not. The FA are doing their level best to engender an attitude of respect amongst players and supporters. They have been for some time. Fans know this. Managers know this. Players know this. Attitudes have changed for the better amongst so many although, sadly,  others are still dragging their knuckles through the ground.

Has Alan been made an example of? How has this suddenly come to light in October, from a game that took place in April of last season? When the player wasn’t even booked at the time. Surely one of the officials would have reported this to referee Stuart Attwell? How have the FA now heard about this and from whom?  Yet, at the same time, if it did happen then they have no choice in having to take follow up actions.

This is a huge ban and if nothing else Alan would seem to be patient zero when the FA have decided to clamp down hard. Yet, also, they’ve now drawn a line in the sand which I’ll be very keen to see how strongly they enforce ongoing.

At the same time, if this is a path they are going down then further clarity on what happened and how would probably be no bad thing from the FA. Just so that there is no doubt as to where that line is – for players and fans.

The reaction of supporters seems to be, largely, that the player has done the wrong thing. That the ban is a heavy one and that we’ll all miss him on the pitch. Massively. Yet also there are still a few who seem to think that this sort of behaviour, whatever the catalyst, is acceptable.

That, for me, is the saddest thing about all of this. They’ve had the benefit of time to think.

Quotes I’ve seen from supporters on social media include:

Bullsh*t. It’s a man’s game . She needs to grow a set, or officiate womens’ games.

The punishment is totally disproportionate and smacks of political correctness

All the whiter than white males condoning @almc16 ?? Get a life? Something said in heat of moment in a game of football – support our player.

It’s an attitude we still see in patches in the stands. Only last weekend at Newcastle one of my friends, as a reaction to politely asking the group behind him to stop using homophobic language was told, amongst others things: “F@ck off, you que*r c@nt” and  ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s football’ 

It’s football?! It’s. Football.

Wow. As though that’s any justification for hurling abuse that won’t even be heard by the players and officials it was directed at. That doesn’t even have the ‘excuse’ of being uttered by somebody on the pitch who would have been in the heart of any incident.

We all shout at the ref, at players and even at each other sometimes.The clear difference being we don’t all shout sexist, homophobic or insulting abuse.

Thankfully, this attitude is something very much in the minority at Brentford. At least, that’s the way it seems to me. Only on Thursday, the club joined the EFL in their campaign to stamp out anti-social behaviour in the stands.

Ironic? Coincidence? Pre-emptive? Whatever the timing, as somebody who brings a three year old to home games at Griffin Park it is something that can only be endorsed.

Equally though, it’s something that by and large I think we already do really well on.

We’ve got a great family at Brentford. I’m proud to be part of a club where supporters do get along and, whilst getting caught up in the heat of the moment, don’t normally cross the line.

Whatever the ins and outs of this case, and I doubt we’ll ever know the full facts, it seems clear we’ve moved into a new phase of football. Abuse officials – pay the punishment.

Will the FA have the guts to see this through?

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The club and EFL have joined forces

Nick Bruzon

Bees a Royal pain as Sam abdicates on a night of goals and glory.

28 Sep

After a day where the majority of the footballing world were talking about Fat Sam leaving the England job ‘by mutual consent’ (definitely not sacked. Just to be clear. Not. Sacked) one would imagine that outside of TW8, Brentford thumping Reading 4-1 will quite likely be low on most people’s topics of discussion this morning. Which is a massive shame because the victory, which saw the Bees rise above the likes of  Newcastle United to fourth place in the Championship table, was one to savour.

Even now (Wednesday morning, 6 a.m.), I’m speechless. The questions going in to the game were how would Dean Smith rebuild his midfield whilst, at the same time, countering the perceived attacking threat from a supposedly rejuvenated John Swift? Didn’t they get answered in some style?

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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Reading’s lurid kit was about as awkward as it got for Brentford

 

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View from the terrace – Annette Curran grabbed this one of Daniel doing his thing

 

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Maybe a slightly more modest restaurant these days

Nick Bruzon

With one midfield genius missing, could it be time for a new one to prove us wrong?

27 Sep

Brentford take on Reading tonight knowing that victory will see us leap frog the currently fourth placed Royals. The key questions being, which Brentford team will Dean Smith have at his disposal? And could one of our former players, then Chelsea loanee John Swift, come back to haunt the Bees?

Well, the FA website has finally caught up with the rest of us to confirm, officially, that Ryan Woods is missing for this one. The yellow card picked up in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Wolves being his fifth of the season and so just cause to sit this one out.

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Ryan Woods

That was then, this is now. Brentford have had a very positive start to the season indeed. Moreso than most expected. Whilst it’s nice to look back at those wonder strikes, I’d be more than happy to go home with a scrappy 1-0 tonight. It won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination but then nobody said that a chance to catch up with the third placed team ever would be.

Besides, in a game where midfield decision will be key for the Bees, could another of our own team from last season be the man to make the difference? John Swift, of course, will have a massive point to prove.

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…..

 

SWIFT Brentford QPR

Oh to have seen more of Swift at his best

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Derby, Manchester United and Tim Burgess have the pick of a week that saw Bees stung.

25 Sep

As Brentford ended up on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline at Wolves, Norwich City usurped Huddersfield Town at the top of the Championship table following the Terriers’ second defeat in three games. This time to a Reading team who travel to Griffin Park on Tuesday. At the bottom end Derby County, Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic continue to press the self-destruct button. Northern Ireland International Will Grigg’s team not so much being on fire as given a good hosing by all-comers.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media over the last 7(seven) days.

As ever, things start at Griffin Park although aside from Brentford seeing the unbeaten run come to an end we’ve been keeping a somewhat lower profile than normal this week. Perhaps it was the excitement of Middlesex winning the County Championship in not at all contrived circumstances or our absence from the third round of the League cup. However, there hasn’t been too much from ‘official’ or beyond…

That said, we couldn’t let this week pass without a nod to the legend that is birthday boy Terry Hurlock. Woe betide any manager who dared tell him it wasn’t ok to dress like a pirate for the annual team photo.

Beyond that, though, there was tumbleweed blowing through TW8 (that, or everybody has just blocked yours truly). Sullay Kaikai got off the mark as the Bees went down to Wolves.

The  one positive from that defeat being that the regular hand-wringing of old and calls for the manager’s head seem nothing but a distant memory at the moment. Nice work Dean Smith and the lads in silencing the likes of Gordon Vine, Sam Jones and other cyber warriors so keen to put the boot in at the slightest excuse

So, instead, we’ll look further afield. Regular readers will be aware of my admiration for Buzzette and Kingsley (at Partick Thistle). Very much the Queen and King of football mascots, this pair are guaranteed to get the crowd going at half time.

Indeed, if Matthew Benham is reading (unlikely, but…), how about getting them together for a pre-season friendly next season? If nothing else, imagine the children…

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Buzzette and Kingsley – King and Queen of football mascots

However, it seems there is a new kid on the block. A potential pretender to the mascot throne. If, indeed, this is a mascot. To be quite honest, I’m not sure what was going on here but Tweet of the week has surely come from Derby County.

The Rams are in trouble on the pitch – and I’m not just talking about results. Certainly, if this is the sort of thing happening at Derby home games….

Incredible doesn’t even begin to do this justice. As Matt Dyson, news guru on the Christian O’Connell Absolute Radio breakfast show and Nottingham Forest supporter, noted…

In the League (EFL) cup this week, Manchester United found themselves having to improvise ahead of the game with Northampton Town.

The Brentford club sponsors then going on to note (and who doesn’t love a bit of Accidental Partridge?) that…

Sam Wallace, chief football writer for the Daily and Sunday telegraph, highlighted further problems for Jose Mourinho.

Still, at least they’ve gone through. Unlike our Bees. Joining Manchester United in the next round were Reading, for whom a familiar face starred. Again.

Tuesday night at Griffin Park could be very interesting indeed when Reading come to town. I’m sure John will have more than a few points to prove – both on and off the pitch. Is that the sound of Dean Smith calling Alan McCormack……?

Elsewhere, the tweet of the third round involves Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal manager involved in some sort of fast food related incident (and one which he would later claim not to have seen. Presumably).

But this week we’ve got as much ‘other stuff’ to look at as footballing material. The World of Sport (idea for a show) has delivered more than just the beautiful game.

American Football (catch ball rather than ‘soc-cer’): Us Brentford fans know all about plans for dubious sounding monorails. But over in the States, they’ve gone one better.

Volleyball : Really, there’s nothing more to add to this one…

But, for me, story of the week has nothing to do with sport whatsoever. It involves the ever stranger world of Noel Edmonds. With the axe now swinging on his ‘Deal or No Deal’ TV show, alternative employment is required.

That said, there’s alternative employment and then there’s alternative employment….

In a column that has already seen one ‘Accidental Partridge’ we’ll leave the Last Word to Tim Burgess of music’s The Charlatans.

Why write a blog when one tweet does the job so, so much better…

Nick Bruzon