Tag Archives: Alan Partridge

Prophetic Peter calls it and Matthew goes full Partridge as Neal and Josh do the business. Again.

16 Sep

7(seven) games down and Brentford are up to second in the embryonic Championship table after a fifth, successive, home win. This time, over Wigan Athletic. In a display of quite delicious passing football, Neal Maupay grabbed both goals to take his individual total to 7(seven) for the season and move clear in the Championship goalscoring charts. This, despite his missing two league games following the Villa Park affair. Just to put that into context, Neal already has two more than the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have scored all season. Then again, with four league wins under the belt that’s already four more than both the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have earned all season.

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View from the Braemer – Brentford strolled past Wigan on Saturday

The visit of Wigan was never going to be easy. On paper. Paul Cook’s team were only a point behind the Bees before kick-off whilst the visitors had ex-Bee Will Grigg in their squad. The inevitability of a former player doing the business is never a particularly enjoyable moment for home fans of any club. Even moreso in the case of Will when no doubt ‘that song’ would have been given a rendition.

Yet there was a comfort about this one, especially once the second goal had gone in, that is true testament to the confidence flowing through both Dean Smith’s squad and the home support. Maupay scooped man of the match honours but I thought Lewis Macleod and, in particular, Josh McEachran were quite wonderful. The latter starting the move for the opening goal with a cheeky nutmeg followed by a delightful crossfield ball forward to Said Benrahma. If only the sky cameras had captured the moment for their post-match highlights. Here’s hoping those on ‘official’ catch the full move when they appear at lunchtime. (12pm update: Yes! They did. Enjoy…..

 

Credit to Josh. If any player has taken his time to start winning over the critics it is him. Yet he has plugged away and the management have shown faith. With Ryan Woods having moved on the chance has been seized after what were, if we are being honest, a patchy couple of seasons. And how. We’ve already noted his increased presence this season on these pages a few times. The killer pass and/or move forward being a key change in his dynamic.

Indeed whilst being gently probed by Natalie Sawyer during this week’s TalkSport interview, Dean Smith was full of praise for a player who has admitted to still having England aspirations. Consistency will be key, of course, but for now one can only applaud a quite wonderful start to the campaign.

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Neal was MOTM but Josh played blinder, too

That Maupay goal came half-way through an opening period that Brentford dominated. Whilst it had felt as though the flood gates would open within seconds when the Bees swarmed forward from the kick-off, Christian Walton in the Wigan goal held back the tide. Something which proved to be the theme of a game in which, a brief first-half flurry aside, was about as one way as they come.

The threat of Grigg never materialised. He wasn’t so much on fire as on the bench. A place he never left, save for the warm ups. But then as Our Graham (a Huddersfield fan making one of his semi-regular but always welcome visits to Griffin Park) noted, perhaps the judgement here being that the ball needed to be near the Brentford goal in order for him to put it in it, and it was seldom in that vicinity.

One up at half-time became two just after the hour. That man Maupay with his second, this time against ten men rather than eleven. Sam Morsy having been sent off five minutes earlier for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt that had referee Darren England instantaneously calling for the medics before subsequently brandishing the red card. And from that point on it really was game over. Two clear and coasting. Despite Walton mountin’ a one-man resistance, in the end it was a case of goodnight Wigan Athletic. With other results falling kindly the Bees move up to second, just a point behind Leeds United.

What a time to be alive. What a time to be a Brentford fan. What a reward for all those who’ve been with us through thick and thin. Now able to enjoy what Matthew Benham would later describe on Twitter as “Liquid football” .

Back of the net, indeed ! There is no finer moment in life than anybody embracing their inner Alan Partridge. Accidentally or otherwise. All the while of course, just up the road our new home continues to grow. On current form I can only imagine Mr. Benham naming that one ‘Jurassic Park’.

Credit to Matthew and the current regime for allowing this to happen. There can’t be a fan amongst us who isn’t appreciative of what is being built here and how it has happened. Yes, there have been some tears and frustration along the way – this is football, we are passionate supporters who often think with our hearts in the heat of the moment rather than our heads  – yet only a fool would jump off this train now.

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The site at Lionel Road, (very) early on Saturday morning

Next up, Ipswich Town on Tuesday night. Whilst their record was mentioned in the introduction by way of comparison to Neal’s form, they also need to be recognised for the genuine threat they present to Brentford’s own aspirations. And as much, a mark of our own progress. True, they are bottom of the table but they are only two wins away from the top half. They may have lost to Hull City yesterday but the season is still young. They aren’t, surely, a bottom three side? If nothing else, we’ve the likes of Preston, QPR, Reading and Birmingham City for that particular task.

Last season saw Brentford take nine games before we got our first three pointer. It was a run which was typified by performances that Dean Smith swore by, maintaining we were deserving of victories. Eventually they came.

Yet the game at Portman Road was one of those from that early, ill-fated patch. It was a perfromance noted at the time on these pages as, “Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One-way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games

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Portman Road (and what Billy Reeves calls the best font in football) is next.

That was then. This is now. Nottingham Forest two weeks ago saw us win the sort of game that, last season, we’d have lost. Refusing to be outmuscled as the team converted chances into goals and, eventually, all three points. Could Tuesday night promise more of the same? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. Yet on this sort of form I wouldn’t bet against Dean’s team.

As a final note of the day, could we see a new partnership forming at Griffin Park? Not so much the Ollie Watkins / Neal Maupay combo but that of Peter Gilham and Stuart Wakeford? Our own ‘man with the mic’ joining in during the #BeesLive segment prior to kick off where I walked in on his line: “I don’t know what the question was but the answer was Josh McEachran”.

How prophetic. On yesterday’s performance at Griffin Park the answer was very much Josh McEachran. With perhaps, a soupçon of Neal Maupay.

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Stu does his thing on #BEESLIVE – but what WAS the question?

Nick Bruzon

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From Cristiano to Henrik via Rio. And more shirt news…

16 Jun

Ruddy hell – the World Cup ! Just where do you start? Having been upstaged in the Champions League final by Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo stuck it to his Real Madrid team mates in some style last night as Portugal drew 3-3 with Spain in a game that, on a personal note, also served as a timely reminder of yours truly briefly dabbling with Manchester United. In the loosest sense. Elsewhere, today sees the magnificent four game spread that also offers Brentford fans a chance to catch our man in action. Henrik Dalsgaard and his Denmark team face off with Peru on a day that sees games running from 11am right through to the conclusion of Croatia-Nigeria around 10 pm tonight. And on a Brentford note, there’s also shirt news imminent. Monday is the day….

First up, Portugal. Specifically, Ronaldo. He’s a genius. Pure and simple. So consistently incredible. Never failing to pull it out of the bag when it counts. Even the most churlish amongst us could only sit back and admire what he did last night. Even with the posturing, the preening and the strutting around like a coked up peacock. Despite all this, the sheer audacity of the man and his ability with a football still shone through. It was a performance that would have had Alan Partridge foaming at the mouth. That was liquid football and then some. Sheer brilliance.

The one down side to all of this was Rio Ferdinand in the BBC studio. It’s impossible not to like Rio. A legend for his country and a quite remarkable human being given the personal situation he’s been through. He always talks passionately about the game and with enthusiasm. Yet therein lies part of the puzzle. He doesn’t half go on about it. Clanggggg, The sound of another name being dropped. If he mentioned that he’d played with Ronaldo once he must have done it a dozen times. Nutritionists. Training. Manchester United. Fergie’s opinion. At home with Cristiano. We had it all.

There’s form here. Back in Brazil 2014 it was the same. Manchester United this. Manchester United that. I didn’t realise he’d won the Champion’s League. If only somebody had said.

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Who could forget Rio, in Rio? World Cup 2014

Of course an ex-player is going to draw on their experience. That’s only natural and, to be fair, helps paint a picture of what we see going on. It gives an insight into something we might not have visibility of in the normal course of events. Just perhaps tone it down a little bit. Please. The past is great but there’s very much a present going aswell with a quite ridiculous game of football being played out last night. I’d love to have heard more about that. Not just from Rio but the panel where much of half time was devoted to features about England rather than dissecting the first half and the earlier games where those of us just coming in from work would likely have missed.

The brilliance of Ronaldo also detracted from two quite delicious goals score by Spain. Diego Costa levelling thing ups at 1-1, executing a wonderfully hit shot after holding off two defenders for what felt like an eternity. Yet it was nothing compared to the sweetest of volleys that Nacho fired home to give Spain a 3-2 lead. Rio and the panel were rightly purring about this one afterwards as the Spaniard wrapped his foot around a rising ball to swerve it hard and low past the ‘keeper and in off the post from outside the box. It was a stunner. A thing of beauty. To quote Partridge once more, He must have a foot like a traction engine.

And then Cristiano stepped up to score ‘that’ free kick and steal all the headlines with just minutes left on the clock. Whatever else you may think or say about him, and many have, there’s no denying he certainly has a sense of occasion   

With a free kick given in the heart of Saunders territory, there was an inevitability about what would happen next. Sure enough, he lifted it up and over the wall before it dipped into the back of the net. Yet in a moment of clarity, I knew it would happen. I’ve been there before. Ten years or so back I spent an 18 month secondment up in Manchester. For a Brentford fan, this was great. The likes of Bury, Rochdale, Stockport County and Accrington Stanley (never have I been so cold at an away game) were all on the doorstep. As was Old Trafford.

There were no split loyalties here. Aside from the fact the chances of our paths crossing were slim to zero, I was on tourist duty. Doing it for the love of football. Whilst weekends would see me in London and at Griffin Park, a Tuesday night would quite often afford one the chance to take in a local game. And with so many United season ticket holders living down South and unable to make it, there was usually a spare going around the office. Why not? It was that or watch Coronation Street.

One such was the game against Portsmouth. A 2-0 win for United but more importantly, once which provided a moment that stuck with me since. Cristiano Ronaldo scoring ‘that’ free kick from last night. Ten years earlier. It looked incredible then. It still does. Last night’s effort was a reminder of just how consistently good he has been throughout his career. To still pull tricks like that out of the bag even now. And at 33, I’d imagine there’s a few more of those to come.

Cristiano has done this before..

That was then, this is now. Waking up on Saturday morning, it’s his name all over the radio. He’s the one making the headlines on the sports pages. But tomorrow could it be Henrik Dalsgaard we are reading about?

-1I can’t wait to see our man in action. For those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth it’s quite ridiculous. The thought of Brentford having a player at the World Cup is bonkers. But I love it. If only because it shows just how well our set up and transfer model is working. Despite the confusion and frustration at times. Despite the short term heartache of that summer sale. Here is the proof. Likewise, Andreas Bjelland was desperately unlucky to miss out. Panini even going so far as including him in their World Cup sticker book.

Good luck today, Henrik. If you are reading (you aren’t) know that this little corner of West London will be cheering you on. I’ll watch as much of the World Cup as possible anyway. Yet now there’s even more incentive. Roll on 5pm.

And finally, Monday is the day. Yes, England are playing but in our house it’s something even more exciting. The Brentford ‘away’ shirt is launched. We’ve already had the sneak peak pic released this week. Now, we’re just 48 hours away from seeing this for real.

I can’t even begin to speculate what this is going to look like. I’ve run it through photoshop, played with the light settings and filters but it’s giving nothing away. Instead, we’ll just have to sit back in anticipation and await the reaction. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be interesting though.

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David Hunt – the biggest come back since Lazarus

And finally, I know I bang on about this a lot but my season reviews containing the least bad of the columns and some new content are now available for download.

The reason I bang on about this is because all proceeds raised are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. We all know about the great work they do whilst my own son has now started Saturday morning football training at one of their sessions. And he loves it. As such, I’d love to try and do something in return.

As additional incentive, I’d like to give one of you this ‘unavailable to the general public’ Brentford FC third shirt from 2017/18. I’ve got hold of it from a source close to the club and am giving it away to one supporter by means of a draw. All you have to do is download the 2017/18 season review (or the five-year compendium) to enter the draw that will take place at the end of the month – just DM/ tweet me the download confirmation email by June 30th and we’ll pick a lucky winner.

You can download Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18 . In addition, all five seasons of the Last Word (previously available individually) have been bundled together in one giant volume. There’s a lot to plough through… There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 is also available.

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THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

What to do on FA Cup weekend? The best (and worst) of football film plus an offer for the fans.

18 Feb

With Brentford having gone missing in action at Chelsea last month, it means we’ve got a free weekend. Instead of a league game against Wolves at Griffin Park, our would be visitors host our FA Cup conquerors in a fifth round encounter that has all those classic ingredients to serve up a potential potato skin. As for Bees fans, we’ll need to put the tinfoil back to regular use and find something else to occupy us until we visit Wednesday on Tuesday. Sheffield, that is.

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For Brentford fans, the tin foil has now reverted to normal use until next season

So? What to do ? Of course, there are still the televised games. These include the aforementioned encounter at Molineux aswell as the one at Turf Moor where Andre Gray, James Tarkoswski (is he still even there?) et al provide the Goliath role as Lincoln City pay Burnley a lunchtime visit.

That one’s well worth a watch, purely for the novelty factor of seeing Burnley playing the role of giants. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a sneaky feeling this will be the one where we have a weekend shock. Whilst the ties at Wolves and Sutton United are the obvious TV draws, expect the top class opponents, and also Arsenal, to go through. Yet with motivation, form and the entire country behind them, Lincoln look remarkable value.

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But if watching Chelsea is a painful reminder of what might have been then could I suggest an alternative? A football film. Regular readers, should such a thing exist, will know of my love of these. The pinnacle of the genre being Escape To Victory.

This has it all. Actors playing football, badly. Footballers acting,very badly. Michael Caine alongside Pele. Sylvester Stallone sharing screen time with Bobby Moore. John Wark’s moustache is worth the entrance fee alone. Come for the facial hair; stay for the Ardiles flick.

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager or even TV’s Dream Team, is a Green Street, a Soccer Dog (and the even weaker sequel, Soccer Dog: European Cup) or The Goal Trilogy. The football film is a veritable minefield of weak acting, poor script and overly laboured cliché.

Aside from Luis Figo doing ‘Just for Men’ (still got it, Figo) the only on screen football to transcend both good and bad is, perhaps, When Saturday Comes. It is a film so loaded with cliché it is fit to burst. Hard drinking park footballer Jimmy  – played by 37 year old Sean Bean  – eventually gets his break for Sheffield United after stuffing up his first trial before taking on Manchester United in an FA Cup semi final.

It is a film so loaded with inaccuracy (an FA Cup semi final at The Blades home ground, in the middle of winter, being just one of many) that you have to wonder just who gave this script the green light. And, of course, it is a film with Emily Lloyd displaying the worst Irish accent this side of Alan Partridge telling TV execs, “There’s more to Oireland, dan dis” .

Yet this underrated classic is so bad it’s brilliant. It goes beyond nonsense and into the realm of unintentional comedy gold. No mean feat for what, on paper, should be a complete car crash of a movie.

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If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t lived.

And thus talk of football films brings us, with all the subtly of an Alan McCormack challenge, bang up to date and back to Griffin Park.

Next Tuesday, 28th February,  sees Brentford and Sky Sports joining forces for an exclusive screening of the film Wonderkid.  The short film looks at one of football’s biggest issues – that of homophobia in the modern game – with Brentford doing their part to help raise awareness.

It is a cause we’ve always looked to promote and now the Bees are tackling this from a different angle, through the medium of cinema. The football film is a tricky enough genre to get right as it is, let alone with the added pressure of a serious issue. Yet, at the same time, I can’t wait to see how this goes and how it is received.

Full information about the event, including how to get free tickets, is on the club website now. See you there.

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Nick Bruzon

Brentford draw, Swansea and Palace get Santa’s sack and 2016 is summed up in one tweet. A week (and a bit) in football – The Good , The Bad and The Ugly.

28 Dec

A bit late this week, or is it on time? The Christmas schedule always puts the calendar somewhat out of sync. Half way through the campaign and Brentford drew 2-2 with Cardiff City to shore up what is now looking like a mid-table season. At the top, Brighton’s fourth win on the bounce (this time over relegation bound QPR) saw them overtake Newcastle United in the battle to top the table. And at the other end Rotherham , Wigan and Blackburn Rovers occupy the relegation slots.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. With double bank holidays throwing the calendar into confusion (today being Wednesday, I think) there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly-ish feature  – we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

And, as ever, we start at Griffin Park where there isn’t a huge amount to add off a game where referee Simon Hooper dominated affairs. A shame, as it meant that first time around  we were denied moments such as this…..

Meanwhile, in the first of a Tom Moore double…. does he know something about Dean Smith that we don’t? Or do Get West London need a new pictures editor?

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Tom has been keeping himself busy as he’s been covering events at hapless QPR, too. With the not so super hoops slithering down the Championship table to sit just three points above the drop zone, one can only imagine Ian Holloway is starting to shuffle uncomfortably in his own managerial hot seat. It only seems like a few months ago that he was tipping Brentford to be relegated whilst suggesting the Loftus Road outfit (currently 20th) would end the season 11th.Not that anybody will remind him of these in May….

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A bit higher up the table, Gianfranco Zola has immediately rewarded the decision of the Birmingham City board to sack Gary Rowett.

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This, something also picked up on by BBC man Phil Parry.

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Lower down the league ladder, one can only rejoice in the fact that there’s an equally big fall out from a spot kick strop as Brentford suffered after ‘that penalty’.

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In the Premier League, it was less Santa’s sack and more a managerial one. Or two. Bob Bradley was relieved of his duties at Swansea City whilst Sam Allardyce took over from Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace. It was nice to see worlds collide….

Big Sam was the instant source of further questioning following his appointment.

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Although there can’t be any chance of Mr Pardew being out of work for too long.

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Meanwhile non-league Bungay Town were quick to jockey for position despite Ryan Giggs being named as odds on favourite for the role at Swansea…

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Getting back to matters on field in the top flight, Arsenal continued to display their ambition.

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Leicester City took protests about Jamie Vardy’s suspension to another level.

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The day after Boxing Day (Tuesday?) saw Liverpool v Stoke City in the televised clash. Despite the Potters having taken a deserved lead, normal service was resumed in some style.

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The visiting manager refused to bend from his principles.

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Principles which, once reminded of, deserve a repeat viewing just to remember how short ‘short’ shorts were back in the day.

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But it wouldn’t be the festive period without a traditional Christmas message from the Queen.

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Or in the case of former Everton ‘keeper Neville Southall, an untraditional one.

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And there was a Christmas blast from the past.

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Although, ultimately, you could sum up the period (and 2016 as a whole) in one tweet.

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Finally, as ever, we close with Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

Given it is a period that included December 25 I was half expecting to see him pose with Jesus. However, having checked the little book of footballing birthdays Manchester City’s Navas was born on November 21st.

Instead, this week his ‘good friend’ is none other than former Bee Chris Kamara .

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Nick Bruzon 

The good, the bad and the ugly. Wales and Aston Villa amongst those asking the questions. A week in football

10 Oct

Brentford striker Scott Hogan was named Championship player of the month whilst Norwich city boss Alex Neil scooped the managerial award. As the Bees prepare for the trip to Newcastle United it was another former Premier League side making the headlines. Aston Villa having sacked manager Roberto di Matteo after a handful of games were strongly linked with our own Dean Smith. But with World Cup qualifiers meaning there were no Championship games this weekend, it’s ‘as you were’ in the league table. Brentford can prepare for Saturday’s game in Newcastle knowing that victory will take us to within a point of the currently third placed Magpies.

That’s the latest Championship action, such as it was, in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

It would be wrong to start with anything but a final congratulations to Scott Hogan. His six goals in five games over September rightfully scooping him the player of the month award. Brentford Chief Executive Mark Devlin amongst those leading the praise.

If this was positive news another announcement, that of the televised Christmas fixtures, bought about a less than positive reaction. Here’s just one, of many, on a similar theme when it was announced that our game with Norwich City had been moved to a 5.30pm kick off on December 31st.

There was as much concern over our manager (sorry, head coach) as this fixture. With Aston Villa sacking their own incumbent, Dean Smith quickly moved to second favourite for this position. Despite sitting in Steve Bruce’s considerable shadow, there was a lot of worry at Griffin Park that our man could be approached. Brentford supporter Natalie Sawyer was amongst those voicing concern.

Concerns shared at Aston Villa, too. There, the same keyboard warrior who threatened to give up football earlier in the month if his beloved side failed to beat a pub team was back. Not only had he reneged on his promise but he still seemed angry.

Still, this was just the small fry compared to the Twitter spat that rapidly unfolded between Aston Villa and Virgin Rail. Whilst we’ve all see this (surely) in the cold light of day it looks even more ridiculous. As we’ve said many times before, unless you are Inverness Caledonian Thistle then football clubs really, really shouldn’t do Twitter sarcasm.

The ‘quiet coach’ . Presumably a euphemism for either the manager or a trophy room that hasn’t been opened since the last century (unless you count the Intertoto cup) .That final ‘comeback’ met with the expected criticism from all comers. However, the pick of the bunch were these two :

In terms of domestic games, the Checkatrade Trophy was back and provided more highlights. Or should that be lowlights ?

Ahh, West Ham. Despite no Premier League game for them this weekend ( a phrase they’ll be repeating most Saturdays in 2017) they still managed to make the headlines. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

But it was the International game where the real ‘action’ was. England emerged from the considerable shadow of Sam Allardyce to record a crushing 2-0 win at home over Malta.

They weren’t the only team making headlines for unexpected reasons. Wales continued to confound pundits following Euro 2016. not with their on pitch antics but with their prematch photos.

If anybody knows just what is gong on, then answers on a postcard please.

And finally, tweet of the week. Infact there are two. First up, who doesn’t love a bit of Accidental Partridge? That wonderful moment when ‘Idea for a show’ becomes reality. And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp seems to have hit gold.

But in a week where Donald T Rump has made all sorts of nasty headlines in the U.S.A. for his obscene comments about women, Antiques Roadshow guru (seriously, follow his updates on a Sunday evening if you are partial to Fiona Bruce and her dusty collectibles) Jamie Lovell proved that, sometimes, we all just need to catch our breath.

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

Incoming. Do we have incoming as Cup final more than delivers?

22 May

Well, that was a day. Manchester United and Mark Clattenburg beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup whilst North of the border, former Bees boss Mark Warburton saw his Rangers side go down to Hibernian in the Scottish equivalent. As for the main news, it would seem we have incoming at Brentford – Matthew Benham has fired up the cryptic clue generator once more.

But I need to start with the FA Cup final, simply because it had the footballing community gripped. And, as is so often the case, it was what happened off the pitch that provided many of the talking points. Certainly for the so called ‘neutrals’ – although how many can ever be neutral in a game involving Manchester United remains to be seen. Of those I spoke to, most were cheering on Goliath rather than David in the hope that Crystal Palace could lift that famous trophy.

Where do you start ? Alan Pardew’s dancing, surely. With Jason Puncheon giving Palace a deserved lead his manager couldn’t help but launch into an touchline routine as he channelled his inner John Travolta. And it was bad. Like the worst of dad at a wedding after a few too many beers. More Alan Partridge than Alan Pardew.

Yet who am I to criticise? If you win it makes you even more of a hero and adds to the moment. There can’t be too many managers to have seen their side take the lead in an FA Cup final and so fairplay to him for enjoying the moment. Even if it was, almost literally, a moment as United equalised within minutes.

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BBC viewers saw Alan Pardew in ‘wedding mode’

If nothing else, it is something that is sure to go down in Cup history like Trevor Brooking’s header (apparently, he scored once and West Ham won the cup), Chas and Dave, Radford’s rocket (yawn) and the White Horse.

I hadn’t realised this but apparently Palace and Manchester United had met in the Cup Final before. Back in 1990. I was out of the room at one point getting a drink but I’m pretty sure I came back just in time to hear that fact mentioned.

And then again. And again. And again. The BBC had a crowbar and they were going to use it. I had ‘1990‘ on my FA Cup bingo card (along with ‘Fellaini elbow‘ – which took longer than expected) more as a token gesture than anything else. Sure enough, the BBC obliged.

We had the obligatory feature with Ian Wright during the build up. Specifically revisiting the estate he grew up on and the patch of grass where he played football as a youngster. I’m sure we’ve seen variants of this before, many times, but it’s still such an inspirational story. I loved the fact the BBC had gone ‘old school’ and, like last year, had a whole series of final related shows and features starting about five hours before kick off.

Ah yes, before kick off.  When the players should have been walking onto the pitch proceedings were delayed as the FA Cup tried to go ‘Super Bowl’ – but on a budget of 50p. Instead of the Rolling Stones or Coldplay (thank heavens for small mercies) , we had Tinie Tempah bouncing around a purpose built stage on the centre circle.

Perhaps this delay was the reason for the subsequent ‘sound malfunction’ with the National Anthem. What a moment in any singer’s career. With the eyes of the world watching, this was her time to shine.

Yet  as the band started, former X-Factor contestant Karen Harding stood motionless, clutching the microphone to her waist and waiting for I don’t know what. “Has she forgotten to sing?” asked Mrs. Bruzon on the sofa next to me.

To be honest, I don’t know what happened. Stage fright? Abject terror? Brain freeze? Or just missed her cue? Even if there had been an issue with her earpiece, would the fact that there were 100,000 people in the stadium singing not have been a clue?

I guess we’ll never know the real reason. Karen joined the rest of us in time to sing the last 9 (nine) words. Like Pardew’s dancing, it was another moment that will be written into the FA Cup’s already voluminous history.

She got there in the end

As for the game, Jesse Lingard’s extra time winner was a goal to light up any Cup Final (Boom – the sound of another cliche going off). It was a wonderful strike to give United the lead after Juan Mata had hauled them back into it, courtesy of some brilliance from Wayne Rooney.

The X-men actor and England man revelling in his midfield position as he provided a stunning assist for the equaliser. Rooney’s name may not have been on it but his strength and purpose as he worked with the ball for what seemed an eternity deserve genuine recognition.

Mata’s equaliser had the additional bonus of meaning BBC coverage over ran further and, as a result, saw the subsequent cancellation of the alleged comedy ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’. It was only a shame that the same privilege couldn’t be extended to Michael McIntyre following full time.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Wayne and Juan

The other person needing special mention was referee Mark Clattenburg. Twice in the first half he stopped proceedings and denied Palace genuine goal scoring opportunity, instead bringing the ball back for their ‘advantage’. Once was bad enough but to do it a second time had even Alan Pardew making note.

The irony of former referee Mark Halsey’s comments last year that Clattenburg should have had the 2015 final were not lost. At the time he was quoted on the BBC as saying:

I’m amazed that they’ve not given him the final…

“I would imagine that Jon Moss will feel a little bit sheepish that he doesn’t really deserve it and Mark Clattenburg does.”

“How many times has Mark done massive games? He’s done the Uefa Super Cup this year, big Champions League games and earned plaudits. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, Mark. There’s your answer.

At the end of the day (Clive), Manchester United won it. You can’t deny them their moment and, certainly, they celebrated like they’d just beaten Leyton Orient (Russell? Russell?? Russell……?). Players, fans and management were ecstatic. Understandably so.

Likewise, congratulations must be offered to Louis van Gaal and his team. I’m sure they’ll both grow from here and the Dutchman will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Now he has a first trophy under his belt, his stock is sure to be rising with the Old Trafford board.

As for matters North of the border, Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 to lift the Scottish cup. Sadly it wasn’t quite to be for Mark Warburton although I’m sure he’ll be more than happy with a season that has seen his team promoted to the top flight.

David Gray scored a late winner for Hibs which, aswell as sparking a post match pitch invasion / riot (delete as applicable) also saw our own Matthew Benham launch the cryptic clue generator once more.

Matthew posting a YouTube video on Twitter is a well known sign in Brentford circles that a new player is about to come to Griffin Park. The only problem with these being that they normally require a doctorate in brain surgery in order to decode – even after you know the answer.

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Matthew posted this on Saturday evening

This one seems remarkably simple. David Gray singing ‘This Year’s love’. Surely there was more to this than Mathew’s intent to sign the Scottish full back?

His clues are never this simple. Sledge hammer like unsubtly just isn’t Matthew’s style.

Could this mark a new approach from our owner?  Transfer news being announced by a clue that even yours truly can unravel? Or is there a hidden message in there ?

I’ve not got the time to decipher David’s lyrics to try and find out whilst, being honest, nor would I want to. It’s for good reason the ‘Babylon’ singer is currently residing in popular music’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ files

As ever with Matthew, I’m sure the answer isn’t what it seems at first glance. It could be as simple as his having had a bet on Hibs to win the cup.

Then again, I’ll have my eyes on Brentford official this Monday. Just in case…..

And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download.  Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

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

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon 

Who is joining (or leaving) today? Matthew is back !

17 Mar

Fire up the old Brentford. Matthew Benham is back. On Twitter that is. Whilst he has already returned after a brief mid-season hiatus, Wednesday saw him teasing us with another spin of the ‘cryptic clue generator’. On a day in which this column bemoaned the Charlton Athletic school of comms, it made a refreshing change to see Matthew at his fan teasing best .

What does it all mean? Of course his use of a video clip is traditionally associated with somebody new coming in to Griffin Park. That said, his clues are as hard to understand and unravel as Claudia Winkleman doing the maths on Countdown. Even when you know the answer.

So what can we learn from this? Is somebody coming in today? Certainly, Dean Smith has been very vocal about his desire to dip into the loan market.But any attempt to translate the sequence has , so far, proved as futile as going into a fierce London derby, away from home, with no strikers in your starting XI.

The clip is the Doctor Knee sketch, from Chris Morris’s series Jam. Soundtracked by Brian Eno, it features actors David Cann & Amelia Bullmore ( best known for playing Sonja,the Ukranian girlfriend of TV’s Alan Partridge  – Don’t get Bond wrong !).

But watching the video for a scripted clue or a lead from one of the main names has, as ever, proven pointless. The only Chris Morris I know, in a footballing sense, is now in his 50s and no longer troubling the good people at Panini.

Then it hit me. What if Matthew has changed his modus operandi and is hinting at something else?   Assuming we aren’t signing a player with an injured knee (when would we ever do something like  that?) this could mean one of two other possibilities.

1 – That Scott Hogan is in line for a recall on Saturday following his well documented stint with the Griffin Park medical team. Has that period officially come to an end? Whilst, surely, too soon might we see him make a cameo from the bench? After all, he has been increasing his playing time for the development squad.

2 – That it may be somebody leaving us. The final scene of the sketch see the patient going through the ‘out’ door. If not the case of Scott leaving the doctor’s surgery, perhaps a departure (player or staff; on or off field) is imminent at Brentford? But who? And replaced by……?

Brian Little in for Rasmus or Phil as co-director of football? A rejig in the comms team? Peter Gilham finally hanging up his microphone?

I can’t see any of those happening and, besides, I’m normally as off target as Nick Proschwitz when it comes to unravelling Matthew’s clues.

Instead, we’ll await any update on Brentford official with intrigue. Then fail miserably to backwards translate

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Chris Morris is now past the prime of his 1988 heyday – playing wise

  Nick Bruzon

 

 

Bees rediscover their midfield mojo in style

24 Feb

Well that was more like it. Brentford got back to winning ways last night, sweeping Wolves away in a 3-0 win that was every bit as comprehensive as it suggests . However, it wasn’t so much the scoreline as the manner of the victory which really impressed.

Sergi Canos and Alan Judge were rampant going forward whilst John Swift finally showed the potential he has been threatening. He, of all players, has come in for a lot of criticism in recent weeks (and rightly so, based on some of the ‘performances’) but that was infinitely better. Two goals (Canos getting the other) were due reward for a performance packed full of running, tricks and flicks. It just showed what the team can do when they are encouraged to advance with the ball and take it forwards.

Wolves, on the other hand, were abject. Sideways pass followed sideways pass across the back whilst the midfield had more holes than a Swiss cheese. It’s almost like they’d swapped place with Marinus era Brentford. Optimistic punts out to the flank, the opening passage aside, produced little threat whilst the returning George Saville was conspicuous by his lack of impact upon finally entering the field of play. He’d have been aswell trying his luck in a hotel car park as at Griffin Park, such was his lack of penetration.

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George Saville prepares to play. Apparently

With no offence meant to anybody who travelled down from Molineux, Wolves didn’t provide the sternest test. Let’s not kid ourselves about that. Then again, you can only beat the team who are put out in front of you.

We went for it and were duly rewarded . The fans left happy and John Swift finally put in a performance worthy of his illustrious background . Nico Yennaris, in his customary right back berth due to the absent Max Colin, took another step towards proving all the doubters wrong whilst Ryan Woods very much enjoyed the freedom afforded to him in the midfield.

Indeed, Colin wasn’t the only Griffin Park regular absent last night. Despite no longer being suspended following his red card at Hillsborough, Yoann Barbet missed out to Jack O’Connell as the Bees kept their first clean sheet since the 0-0 with Brighton back on Boxing Day. Likewise Lewis Macleod who, whilst hardly a ‘regular’, looks as though he will be missing for another few weeks with an injury. I know, I was surprised too,

Dean Smith told waiting journalists afterwards that, “It was a really good performance matched by the result and a clean sheet too. We wanted to start on the front foot with three ball carriers and I thought we did that.”

Indeed we did. What a shame we haven’t tried / been able to do that more this season. That said, with the next two games against teams in the dropzone (Rotherham United and Charlton Athletic) there is an excellent chance to continue in this style .

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View from the terrace – Swift and team celebrate our third goal

The irony of my own observation in yesterday’s column, saying , “Gone is the excitement, gone is the open attacking play, gone is the feeling that when we put our minds to it we could carve teams open for fun”.

Wow. Wasn’t that thrown back with some style? The big question is, can we do it again?

Brentford are now 17 points off the relegation zone and 11 away from the play off spots. Freed from the shackles of having to worry about either prospect, could we now see the team continue to play with a bit more freedom? Or was this just a flash in the pan? Here’s hoping for the former !

As a final note, was it Alan Partridge day in TW8? Both Dean Smith and Peter Gilham (on sparkling form, as ever, during Centre Circle Challenge) opted for an almost identikit 80’s suit trousers and Adidas tracksuit top combo in a look that was right out of the North Norfolk Digital DJ’s sport-casual range.

Where was the silver-badged black jacket seen on the likes of Mike Sullivan and Mark Chapman in the past? Is this a new club dress code? Or was it just the most sensible option in the cold (although, personally, I’d have just opted for a coat)? Then again even Marco Djuricin and John Swift both turned out in gloves.

Whilst normally one would suggest that if a footballer is cold, “just run a bit”,  on last night’s performance it would take the most churlish of individuals to find fault with the effort on display.

Here’s to doing it all again. And if gloves are what it takes, then let’s crack out the winter woolies.

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Previous encounter – the summer fashions were ‘off limits’ last night

 

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

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Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

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The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon