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The morning after the night before. Eric Dier and Andy Bush save the day.

5 Jul

Well, yesterday was all a bit bonkers. From start to finish. But then again an England World Cup win will do that. A World Cup win on penalties no less (not a typo). It was just fantastic in and around Brentford but likewise, central London too. You know something amazing must have happened when random commuters start talking to each other on public transport. Yet it was that sort of moment. The spirit of the night before having carried on through. It wasn’t a dream. That really DID happen. People still buzzing about the moment Eric Dier hit the winning spot kick and a nation exploded in joy.

 The. Moment. What a celebration.

I have to be honest here, the prospect of the journey into work was not an appealing one. This was not so much the thought of reaching the office where I was actually looking forward to discussing the game. With my team but more specifically a very good friend of mine (sorry, sorry – I’m not doing an Ian Moose) who is engaged to be married to a quite wonderful girl from Colombia next month. There was genuine curiosity as to the vibe in their house. Something which eventually transpired to be extremely diplomatic and sporting, even if the same couldn’t be said for their neighbours when Yerry Mina scored that heartbreaking 94thminute equaliser.

The reticence was more about travelling in to Waterloo on a packed train in the heat after waking up in what could politely be described as a tired, emotional and fragile state. No amount of air-con was going to save this journey if I had to stand up for a half hour with an exasperated estate agent from Putney shoving his armpit in my face. That, assuming the exasperated screech of “Can you pleeeeeasssse. Move. DOWN”, into an already jammed carriage, had actually worked this time. Urghh. Armpits.

DhPZEXaXkAE7tGKAnd so I’m not too proud to admit this. I took the ‘break glass in case of emergency option’. I’ve had it in the backpocket for a couple of months c/o Absolute Radio DJ Andy Bush but never quite had the guts to use it. Until now. But people seemed chatty. People seemed friendly. People seemed in a genuinely good humour. What was there to lose?

So I used it. Not once. But twice. On the overland and then the tube. Even better, it worked. Twice. A five commuter Mexican stand-off around the one available seat on the Jubilee line being won by my pointing to the badge and saying “Look, does anybody mind if I take that?”.

And then it got awkward. Getting up at my destination, a pregnant lady simultaneously stood up. She had her own, infinitley more legitimate, ‘baby on board’ badge. I didn’t know where to look as she clocked mine and said “Oh…

Cripes. The ground could have swallowed up. Her in genuine need (albeit having been given a seat) and me, a commuting charlatan. She continued, “I LOVE your badge. And I do miss it!”  Get in. Eric Dier, you beauty. You did this. I’m a Brentford fan but big up to the Spurs player and the whole team for achieving this level of bonhomie across the country.

Likewise, big thanks to Bush (below) and my fellow commuters for allowing me to reach the office fully refreshed. And you can follow him on Twitter, at @bushontheradio which I’d thoroughly recommend if you like football. Or radio.

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Everton fan Andy Bush is more than just a DJ

Anyway. Work was fine. Clients were chatty. The mood was great. The journey home a simple one. Indeed, the only sour note was stopping outside The Griffin on the way home to chew over the fat of the night before with landlord Gerhard. He seemed somewhat distracted, and understandably so.

A TV crew were filming on Brook Road south when this chap just pulled up in his van outside the access road, jumped out and left it there. Something that, I gather, also stopped Brentford fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant from being able to later perform a ‘U-turn’. How inconsiderate!

He (the van driver) seemed involved in some sort of fracas with the film crew because he kept going off to his vehicle before running back to them once more. Go figure??

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The film crew interrupted as people watching do nothing to help

The only other highlight of the evening was a now familiar face to the nation, Brentford fan Billy Grant of Beesotted, doing his TV thing once more. Live on BBC News 24 from what seemed like a Victorian parlour in the heart of Moscow. The amount of black and white framed pictures on the walls were as distracting as the random strangers that kept walking through the back of his shot. A Rucksack here; a backwards baseball cap there. Terrible manners. But ever the pro, Billy did his thing and regaled us with his own tales of ‘carnage’ and hugging strangers.

Great work, as ever, from Billy. Here’s to seeing what he has to say in the build-up to the Sweden game.

Billy blog thing

Billy on the BBC jumbotron

 

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us to the usual post article, P.S. The Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began

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Can England join magnificent Japan in the hunt for a monster upset?

3 Jul

Bloody hell. Football. I think we’re all starting to run out of superlatives after yet another stunning evening of World Cup action. And this is before we even get on to England! Monday night’s game between Belgium and Japan showcased the beautiful game at her most alluring. It was one you simply couldn’t have made up and had it all – shock, excitement, wonderful goals, an edge of the seat comeback and then bitter, bitter tears at the end as Roberto Martinez and his team scraped through by the most gossamer like of margins. It was marked contrast from the earlier game where the acting skills of Neymar will remain forever branded onto the memories of most fans rather than a 2-0 win for Brazil over Mexico. And back home, with rumours starting to circulate (we’ll get there properly when something actual happens) Brentford have now announced one move.

I’m struggling to describe the emotions of watching the Belgium – Japan encounter. Even now I’m both smiling at what unfolded yet devastated at how it finished. And that’s having only seen the final 45 minutes. This, after a problem at the office (genuinely) meant I was just coming in from work as the second half kicked off. Sadly, there was no helpful score update from the commentary team. Instead it was down to the graphic in the top corner to bring things up to speed in an immediate, if somewhat unsatisfying, style. But that was where any disappointment ended.

Talk about an explosion of action. Talk about Boy’s Own stuff. Talk about underdogs and unfancied Japan sticking it to the Premier League fat cats. Belgium, for all they galaxy of stars available to their squad were simply blown away. Jan Vertonghen left for dead by Genki Haraguchi who scored with a fine finish. It was defending as leaden footed as Gary Breen at his most oil tanker like (I’m thinking of Sunderland at Brentford in the 2006 FA Cup) but don’t let that take anything away from Haraguchi’s run and shot just after half time.

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One for the Bees fans, there. What a moment.

Less than five minutes later the lead was doubled. Takashi Inui with an absolute piledriver of a shot from well outside the box. A blow as powerful as Godzilla laying waste to downtown Tokyo with his flaming breath but this time it was the Japanese handing out the pain rather than receiving it.

The football was devastating, it was brutal but it was brilliant. A quite scintillating display of moving the ball and running at pace. Yet still they came. Belgium looked lost. Little boys crying out for their mummys after having being promised an easy second round game but, instead, taking an absolute hammering. Fattened lambs to the slaughter after being fed a load of waffle about their opponents.

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The king of the monsters, laying waste to all around

All over social media, Gareth Southgate was being praised for his tactical genius. Not in avoiding the supposed hard part of the draw but simply in England dodging a team who seemed intent on providing this most exciting of tournaments with yet another shock.

And then Belgium woke up. The double substitution of Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli coming on was followed by Vertonghen atoning for his earlier error with 20 minutes to go. Five minutes later, Fellaini powered home a cross form Hazard to level things up. 2-2 and the clock ticking. Japan recomposed themselves and kept coming. A free kick at the death almost drifting in before a quite magnificent move out of the back opened up the Japan midfield and back line for Chadli to stroke home with just seconds remaining.

It was a goal as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. Godzilla having been finally subdued by the footballing equivalent of a freeze ray. With what seemed to be the entire nation willing on Japan, you had to admire the speed and skill with which the winner was scored. Even if it was begrudgingly. The coup de grâce being Lukaku’s sweet dummy when he could have been forgiven for trying to stab the ball goalwards but, instead, allowing it to run through to his teammate to break their opponents’ hearts  

The Japanese were distraught. Understandably so. I had to turn off within moments of the final whistle as they collapsed to the pitch in despair. It felt as though we were intruding on some private moment of grief after having been afforded the privilege of witnessing some of the most breathtaking football in history. Indtead, it was left to their coach Akira Nishino to sum it up:  “I don’t want to admit it. I do feel that it was a tragedy but I have to accept the defeat as a fact.”

It was a million miles away from what we will remember from the earlier game. Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to set up a quarter final with Belgium. Fine. But the theatrics from Neymar Jr, writhing around as though he had been shot, brought torrents of disdain from just about the entire footballing community. It was Rivaldo levels of farce. Acting as unsubtle as Mrs. Brown and a moment that what about as unfunny as Brendan O’Carroll’s tedious creation.

This sequence on my Twitter timeline summing the day up in one screen grab.   

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And so the quarter finals are starting to take shape. This one really is up for grabs now. Whilst anyone could win it, looking at the games to come, anyone really could. But will England join them?

Gareth Southgate’s team do battle with Colombia this evening. On the pitch, it’s 11 v11. Off it, we have England v the curse of ITV.

Whilst I spoke about this earlier in the week, it does bear repeating. England have only one one World Cup game that has been shown on the light channel since 1998. That, back in Germany 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago. Even then, it took two very late goals (Peter Crouch after 83 minutes and Steven Gerrard on 90) to secure three points for Sven’s team. Ah, Sven – remember him?

Can England turn form around? After a World Cup of shocks, I wouldn’t bet against Gareth Southgate pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament to date. Victory under the gaze of Glenn Hoddle.

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The stats don’t lie…

And finally, Brentford. There was transfer news of sorts. Theo Archibald has joined League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers for 2018/19 (albeit with the option to recall in January). You can read the full story on ‘official’ .

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…..

Nick Bruzon

Get set for more penalties, more pressure, more shocks and more swaps…..

2 Jul

Another day, another two teams reached the World Cup quarter-finals. Sunday’s action saw Russia and Croatia get through on penalties at the expense of Spain and Denmark respectively. With it, the end of the Griffin Park World Cup dream as Henrik Dalsgaard of  Brentford ™ was left to taste that cruelest of footballing pain. And we have a winner in the Last Word shirt competition.

What can you say about the action yesterday? Well, perhaps action would be a tad generous for two games that finished 1-1 and didn’t have anywhere near the excitement of the previous day’s clashes. Then again, the absolute pivotal criteria is to secure qualification and I can’t imagine anyone in the Russia or Croatia camps losing any sleep over their team’s performance.

Who cares if they went to penalties? For the neutral, perhaps one of the most exciting ways to see a game decided. The ultimate battle of nerves and ability over pressure. Yet it would be fair to say that in both games the result could have been decided by a spot kick late into extra time.

The Russia – Spain encounter saw Sergio Ramos felled in the box late on. Without wanting to sound all Arsene Wenger, “I didn’t see the incident”. This for no more reason than I was jacked up to the eyeballs on Panini stickers. A hedonistic stash that was something akin to the Last Days of Pompeii – Ned Flanders style – was making its way around The Griffin in a coming together of about 8 separate sticker books.

Panini stickers The Griffin

In the end it all got too much. The stickers rather than the football. I couldn’t focus on the ‘needs’ list . Sorry, I mean Harry’s ‘needs’ list. A sea of numbers and garish kits flashing before my eyes. It was all a blur with mountains of Panini everywhere (the stickers rather than the toasted sandwiches – Gerhard isn’t diversifying that much) .

Imagine that scene at the end of Scarface – except with the drugs replaced by a stash of Lucas Biglia, Danny Wellbeck, Lasse Schöne et al. The plus point of all this is that we’re down to our last 27 ‘needs’. If anybody can help then here’s the list.

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27 to go. Can anyone help? 577 since acquired

But we digress. A lot. Having missed the Ramos incident it was time to steel myself for penalties. And what a set of spot kicks. How the Russians held their nerve. How Spain lost theirs. Big time. I’d not seen that much stuttering on the run ups since Norman Collier picked up a microphone. Yet with the Spanish doing their best to hit them straight down the corridor of saveability, the host nation triumphed. And boy, how they celebrated.

Probably not as much as the VAR team whose relatives were subsequently released from whichever holding cell that Mr. Putin had them in. Cancel the trip to the salt mine. Hey, as noted I didn’t even see it live but having caught up since, I’m not upset anyway. If Vladimir is reading (let’s not even go there) yours truly has backed the hosts at 40/1 to win the thing. Purely for research purposes and a wager that can happily slide down the pan if it ultimately means an England triumph.

With Russia through it was the turn of Denmark and Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford ™ . They couldn’t have got off to a better start, scoring with less than a minute on the clock. They couldn’t have had a worse reaction – conceding just three minutes later. Yet that’s how things stayed. Pushing on through to full time and then beyond, another penalty shoot-out was as much a certainty as Brentford losing a play-off final. But then drama. With just three minutes left, Luka Modric was given the chance – quite rightly in this instance – to score from the penalty spot. Instead, Kasper Schmeichel dived to his left and smothered the ball, leaving the match alive and another shoot out beckoning.

It really was a wonderful moment in an otherwise dungheap of a game. Football as cagey as you could ever expect to see between two evenly matched  teams that nullified each other in the attempt to haul themselves over the line. Yet with the prize on offer, who could blame them for playing to go through?

This time it was Danijel Subasic, the Croatian goalkeeper, who was the hero. Schmeichel may have saved a further two penalties in the shootout but his counterpart stopped three to leave his team mates celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup. Somebody really should use that one.

All over TW8 there were tears for Henrik Dalsgaard. He played the full game, again, and can leave the tournament with his head held high. Both he and Brentford have only come out of this with our respective stocks rising further. Whatever else happens in Russia, Henrik can be sure of a hero’s welcome when he comes back to Griffin Park.  I can already hear Peter Gilham loosening his vocal cords.

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For now Henrik, the World Cup is over. Roll on Qatar…

As for today, Brazil – Mexico promises to be an absolute cracker, followed by Belgium – Japan. Whilst the bookies would have you believe that these are foregone conclusions for the ‘B’ teams, I wouldn’t bet on it. Get set for more penalties. Get set for more pressure. Get set for more shocks…..

And finally, congratulations to SteveFoxBee (aka @TheDoomBoy) on Twitter who won our Last Word e-book lucky shirt draw. You can see the moment further below.

For now though, the books both remain on line for download with any funds raised continuing to go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust:

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…

Thank you.

Nick Bruzon

The sound of FIFA’s marketing team saying “We told you so” after a day of brilliance.

1 Jul

I’d settle for a day of Maradona and Ronaldo crying.” That, my Saturday morning wish list as the teams in the last 16 began the emotion infused process of direct elimination. Winner stays on whilst the loser goes home. On offer: France v Argentina and Uruguay v Portugal. What we got instead was a day of brilliance. Plus, for Bees fans, the club bade farewell to one Dane whilst another is in action this evening as Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford lines up for Denmark against Croatia. And I’ve my own shirt news / thanks .

First, as ever, the World Cup. Argentina are on the plane home after a quite scintillating game with France. Les Bleus, inspired by the pace of Kylian Mbappe, were our eventual winners by the odd goal in 7(seven). But that scoreline doesn’t even begin to tell the story of a game that lurched back and forth like a drunk walking home after a night on the buckfast.

When FIFA promised that their new vivid red ball would reflect the added intensity and opportunity the knockout stage brings, it was dismissed as marketing blurb. Suggestions that the Adidas Telstar Mechta would demonstrate the rising heat of knockout-stage football, nothing more than a crowbarred excuse to justify sales.

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The FIFA marketing team saying “We told you so”

Yet. Yet. Yet… could there be something in it? Whilst we can all safely answer that one, the Telstar did have a wonderful debut. With less than a quarter hour on the clock Mbappe tore half the length of the field, overtaking Marcus Rojo as he broke into the box. The Argentinian left with no choice but to upend him with all the subtlety and finesse of Harlee Dean (in a video interview).

Griezmann made no mistake from the spot. 1-0 and it was clear this could be special. The game rather than the ball. The French pressed on. An almost identical chance fashioned. The crossbar had already been hit from a free kick even before the scoring had started. Argentina anonymous and on the ropes. Surely a knockout punch to come any second.
And it did. But from the boot of Angel di Maria. A quite remarkable effort from well outside the area. A laser guided heat seeker of a goal. What a strike. What timing. 1-1 at half time.

But things got better. If one player had summed up Argentina’s anonymity it was the talismanic Lionel Messi. Yet there he was to set up his side for a 2-1 lead. Could they do it? Would France roll over and surrender? No chance. What followed next was quite brutal.

Three goals in the space of just 11 minutes. An incredible strike from Benjamin Pavard that bore more than a passing resemblance to that of Nacho for Spain against Portugal in the group stages. I can’t watch this enough. A stupendous goal. It was an effort that immediately eclipsed Di Maria’s whilst inspiring France and Mbappe to further greatness.

Oh boy. What a goal.

2-2 became 3-2 became 4-2 France in a matter of minutes. Both coming from the inspirational Mbappe – a player who has the additional effect of leaving that Hanson tune stuck in my head as a very unwelcome ear worm, even now. Yet despite the praise being quite rightly lavished on Mbappe, it was Pavard who truly knocked the stuffing out of Argentina.

Aguero pulled one back with two minutes of injury time left but the clock was eaten up by needless bickering, petulant challenges and general timewasting. France, worthy winners. Argentina, forced to reminisce about former glories

For me (Clive) it was the game of the tournament to date. A fantastic display by France yet one which was, somehow, never quite as comfortable as their performance suggested. The Uruguay-Portugal match later in the evening could never quite match what had come before but it certainly tried.

Edinson Cavani teaming up quite magnificently with Luis Suarez to score both of his sides goals in a 2-1 win. What a partnership Uruguay have, with the two of them working the pitch quite beautifully. Something evidenced by the graphic used in the BBC match report to illustrate his brutal opener.

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There would be no goal for Cristiano Ronaldo. Pepe equalised for Portugal and gave us a celebration that aped the narcissism of his higher profile team mate. I’m sure he’ll argue he was just caught up in the moment and it would be trite to criticise. But Cavani restored the lead again and from that point there was no coming back for Ronaldo. No tears either. The sound of a million phones lined up for a ‘screen grab’ being put back down on the couch echoed around the UK.

Instead, Ronaldo’s role was limited to a bit part as a poor man’s King Tut. That little goatee convincing nobody. Not only was he outshone in this game but he had already had his thunder stolen by Mbappe, Pavard and Griezmann in the earlier kick off.

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One for the ‘Batfans’ amongst you

So what else can we take from yesterday? On a personal note, I spend hours writing nonsense about football, about Brentford and about the World Cup. Some of it hits. Most of it misses. Then my five-year old nailed it in one take, asking: “Daddy. Why didn’t Argentina bring Lucas Biglia on?”

Watching on the BBC, I was shocked to discover in their half-time piece that, apparently, Gareth Southgate once missed a penalty? Really? Surely somebody would have mentioned this before? If you don’t believe me, Euro ’96 was the tournament. You heard it here first !
 
Off field, there has been plenty to keep us intrigued. Most of it involving Diego Maradona. Yet if we’ve learned one thing from Russia 2018, it’s how to write “A fish called” in Chinese.

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Crowbarred jokes of our time

And on that laboured bombshell, back to Brentford. Firstly, a HUGE thanks to those who have downloaded one of the Last Word e-books. Whilst the shirt competition has now closed (the draw to take place later today) these are still available – links below. All proceeds go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust for which we’ve, no – you’ve, raised well over £400 already. Nice one. THANK YOU all so much.   

IMG_E3007As for footballing matters, the club bade an expected farewell to Andreas Bjelland yesterday. With his contract having expired, and the new offer not taken up, the Denmark international’s future lies elsewhere now. One does wonder how much more he could have shone for the Bees were it not for that horrific injury suffered in the League cup against Oxford (that Marinus experiment game…) . AS it was, still a great player and one who even gave us the thrill of being our first ever World Cup ‘Panini sticker’ despite not making the final 23 due to injury. Good luck Andreas, and thank you.

That said, one player who did make the Denmark World Cup squad is Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard (as we must call him). I’m really looking forward to seeing him in action once more this evening. Croatia are next in line for our man who has started all his team’s games so far.

Personally, I suspect it will be a much cagier affair than what we saw yesterday. But as has also been said many many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Could the teams prove us wrong? Could Brentford have a player in the quarter finals of the World Cup?

Roll on 7pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

PS And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust , those Kindle e-book links are:

 Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began….

No stripes? Adidas sell fans short with back and sides. And why England could be in trouble on Tuesday.

30 Jun

Saturday morning. After a day to recover from England reaching the knockout stages following Gareth Southgate’s quite magnificent game of bluff against Belgium, the action picks up again with the quite delicious prospect of France and Argentina meeting in direct, winner stays on, combat. Back home, Brentford have revealed the first news about our new home shirt and it has the fans talking – thanks to the machinations of the good folk at Adidas. Plus today is the last day for one fan to win my own prize – the limited edition 2017/18 Bees ‘third shirt’ given to me by a source close to the club. The draw will take place tomorrow.

Where to begin? Well I suppose it can only be England. A second round tie with Colombia awaits following Thursday night’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium. It is a defeat that sees the team in the, so called, easier half of the draw – a comment that is as patronising as it is foolish; should things go wrong. On the flip side, swerving the likes of Argentina, Brazil, France and Portugal (for now, at least) is no bad thing and let’s not pretend that for those of us watching back home, there wasn’t what felt like a huge silver lining to the cloud of defeat. As my good friend Paul (with apologies for going all Ian Moose) said in the pub with the clock showing 85 minutes, “Holding on for defeat has never felt so tense.

Yet whatever the result, the game is as much best remembered for a master stroke from Gareth Southgate. With Roberto Martinez telegraphing his intention to utilise the full squad long before kick-off in what he deemed “a celebration game”, Gareth was making all the right noises about playing to win. Playing his team. And then he announced it. Boom. Eight changes. I’ve not seen this much rotation since watching the magic roundabout as a child.

So the B-team lost. And? The fans, which included Brentford big cheeses Mark Devlin and Mike Sullivan seemed to enjoy themselves. Beesotted sharing this picture on their own Twitter feed.

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Two businessmen on a jolly to Russia. What could go wrong…?

It sounded a phenomenal atmosphere with, thankfully, that band being drowned out for large sections of the game. At least, that was the perception for those of us who had just come in from work and were watching back home. Great work all round – long may it continue.

Yet whatever the mechanics of the draw and the group stages, it could all be in vain for England. With Tuesday’s game being shown on ITV, a stat reaches me via former Brentford video whizzkid and Alex Pritchard lookalike Sean Ridley…..

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The stats don’t lie…

Wow. That’s incredible. Who’d have thought the Glenn Hoddle effect was that far reaching? Yet as we’ve also said on these pages many times, it’s goals and not stats that win games. Here’s hoping that transpires to be the case this time around. Moreso, given Brentford chairman Cliff Crown will be in attendance, having been offered a very special opportunity.

He announced on Twitter yesterday that: I am delighted and honoured to have been asked to be one of the representatives from the  professional game as an English FA ambassador at the England v Columbia game in Russia.

This is special news. We all know how affable and generous with his time Cliff is. What a wonderful ambassador he is for our own club and the game in general. How hard he works to promote Brentford and the FA. So how wonderful to see him afforded this chance. Nice one, Cliff.

Finally. The second round. It IS the second round although I would also accept the last 16. Please, whatever FIFA may try to convince you, there is no such thing as ‘the round of 16’. Much like the faux verb ‘to medal’ or our own ‘Team GB’ (GREAT. BRITAIN.) this new fangled gumph is slowly eeking into public consciousness as a somehow acceptable term. It isn’t. It’s made up. It’s just a mouthful. There’s no ‘round of 8’. Nobody is sitting in the pub saying, I can’t wait for next Sunday when England get to play Portugal in the round of 2.

Dear FIFA, you may own the competition. You don’t own football. Please. Stop this nonsense.

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‘Easy’ side? Horrific terminology. SECOND. ROUND.

Ok – back to Griffin Park. An announcement was made out of Brentford ‘official’ about the forthcoming season’s Adidas produced home shirt. Specifically, that it will have no stripes on the reverse but, instead, a plain red back. This is not a decision taken by the club but one they are clear to point out is part of adidas’ design direction for the upcoming season for all their partner clubs in the UK (and beyond, it would seem if you look at the Juventus home shirt for 2018/19). The benefit being that they, “believe this will allow them to create more standout designs for clubs in the UK”.

That’s the marketing speak. Fairplay to the club for getting this news out early. Certainly I’d have done it this way, given we’ve had our hand forced by a ‘partner’. Looking at the new Sheffield United kit, they’ve also had to follow suit although have opted for an awful white. Something that, for yours truly, brings back memories of the Puma teabag and a missed penalty the last time we were forced down this route (something that the Blades somehow seemed able to bypass).

If we’ve had no choice then red is most definitely the correct option. Whilst there is no question whatsoever that we should have stripes on the reverse, if a plain colour is needed then the white was just too much. 

If anybody from Adidas is reading (unlikely, but….) I would ask why we couldn’t just replicate the ‘standout design’ from the front and apply it to the reverse? Even with a ‘patch’ should clarity for numbers be the crowbarred explanation – something that has never really been a problem in the past.

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Worse things have happened in a red back…..

Ahh, I can’t be too upset at present. At the end of the day (Clive), we’ve not seen the shirt yet. It could stand on its own merits or be a pinstripe nightmare – either factor regardless of the back. Besides, after the brown and orange beauty for the away shirt, I could forgive them just about anything at present. Even the lack of long sleeves.

Talking of the brown and orange, for anybody still doubting how incredible it looks the club shop now have it up in the window. If you happen to be in the vicinity of TW8 then do take a diversion. It’s well worth seeing this beauty up close.

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One of my favourite websites, historicalkits.co,uk have also added this one to their pages. Along with their own unique commentary which tends to border between sarcasm and dead-pan brilliance. This is the same site that described our own 2015/16 away effort as follows:  (Mark) Devlin also helpfully adds that the “Away kit needs to be significantly different from the home kit to ensure there are no colour clashes.” So pleased he cleared that up.

But which way did they go for the 2018/19 incarnation? Well, in the interest of fairplay I’ll leave this one to you….. Their Championship page can be found here.

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And with all the subtly of Ian Moose taking a selfie, the kit talks continues. Today (Saturday) is your last chance to enter the draw to win this 2017/18 Brentford ‘third’ shirt. The draw will take place on Sunday afternoon and I’ll look to film it if technology allows.

To be in with a chance of winning this, simply download a copy of the Last Word Season review Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Or the full fat five year version  There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18

ALL proceeds received go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust and so even if you don’t win, know that your donation is going to a great cause whilst in return you get to OD on all things Griffin Park. And beyond.

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

Should you be kind enough to take part, PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your download confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

Thank you

Nick Bruzon

The last word on shirts (for now) as World Cup continues to delight.

20 Jun

The World Cup rolls on. As do hosts Russia who dominated Egypt in a 3-1 victory that sees them with a maximum 6 points on the board and a goal difference of 7(seven) after just two games. There were also wins for a massively stylish Japan whilst Senegal beat Poland. Back in Brentford, we’re entering Accidental Partridge territory with Dean Smith’s trip to the brewery and the away shirt saga continues. With a potential solution to come.

First up, the World Cup. There’s only one real talking point. The Russia and Japan shirts. Both are Adidas creations and both are stunning, for different reason, Japan looking resplendent in an ultra-modern design with its roots in the past. The blurb from the Japanese football federation claiming that they wanted the designers to take inspiration from traditional Samurai armour.

As for Russia, we’ve a proper throwback to the early 80s and the end of the Soviet regime with one that is both simple yet stylish. Both of these a world apart from the super safe Nike designs being sported by England this time around.

Perhaps it is just an Adidas thing. As with Brentford’s away shirt, they are showing themselves to be very much at the cutting edge of footballing fashion.

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Adidas keep the brilliance coming

Ok – the Bees. Did you see the story on ‘official’ (not affiliated to these pages) in regards to Dean Smith and his trip to the Fullers brewery in their guise as club partners. It is an association that goes all the way back to our formative years and the acquisition of the land for Griffin Park. It’s well worth a look –– if only for what must surely be a caption competition just waiting to happen.

Come on Official. Make it happen. Please.

Next up. The away shirt. Amazing. Awful. Wonderfully retro. Worst ever. Without doubt this has divided fans like no other. Certainly, if social media is to be believed. I’d also chuck into the mix the proviso that it is much easier to say something negative than positive where the ever growing use of social media makes such polarised opinions all the more visible.

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Mrs Brown and her boys model the new kit

As said previously, I love it etc etc etc. No amount of negative comments will change that. Genuinely, I think this one is going to grow on a lot of those fans caught cold by the initial reveal. I’m not so naïve as to pretend it will be for everyone and come the start of the campaign there may well be those still pining for days gone by.

Well, if that’s you (or you’d just like to expand your own collection aswell as buying the 2018/19 stunner) I’d like to give one supporter this ultra-rare 2017/18 ‘third shirt’ with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in EFL font. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop. Indeed, this has been given to me by a source close to the club.   

All you need to do is download one of the Last Word season reviews. This isn’t a get rich slow scheme for yours truly. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

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

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Download either volume, help the BFC CST and maybe win this

The Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

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

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

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Available now to download for your kindle / e-reader

Nick Bruzon

England expects as Brentford awaits. Plus your chance to create radio gold.

18 Jun

This is it. The World Cup has been going for almost a week but today is the day. The one we’ve been waiting for. After all the anticipation we finally get our glimpse of what is to come.  The Brentford FC away shirt launch. And over in Russia, England begin their campaign with a game against Tunisia in Volgograd. Yet with Germany going down to Mexico and draws for those others teams named as pre-tournament favourites – Spain, Argentina and Brazil – is this one another giant potato skin waiting to be slipped up on? Plus I’ve a very special radio related Twitter ask that will take you five seconds to help with but could provide audio gold.

First today, the Brentford away shirt. There’s not much can be said at present, given the club haven’t released any images beyond a teaser photo that (unlike last season) has so far defied all manner of photoshop manipulation. So instead, it’s a case of having to wait until 10am when we get our look at the 2018/19 second choice kit. Not forgetting the goalkeepers, either.

All we know so far is that as happened two years ago, the fans have been involved in the photo shoot. Along with the current squad and some former heroes. David Hunt has already appeared (confusing many of our younger supporters) whilst I gather we may also see Marcus Gayle at some point. Beyond that though, your guess is as good as the supporter next to you. This one really has been kept under wraps. See you back here at 10am for first thoughts.

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David Hunt – the biggest come back since Lazarus

Next up, the World Cup. England expects and all that. But does it? The build up to the tournament has been as relaxed and low key as I can ever remember. There don’t seem to have been the wall-to-wall adverts, cheesy player–promos or petrol station squad coins to get us excited in the build up as we’ve had in previous camapigns. Quarter finals at best is the general expectation for England and, as such, it really seems to be a case of pressure off. From there, anything is possible.

I can’t tell you too much about Tunisia beyond what I’ve seen in my son’s (definitely his) Panini sticker album. The BBC fact page tells us that they qualified undefeated, have lost only once this year (a 1-0 defeat against Spain) and will likely be hard to breakdown. So a journey into the unknown for many of us although you be sure Gareth Southgate will have done his homework.

With the team already picked, all you have to do is get in for 7pm, switch the TV to BBC and pray that Mark Lawrenson hasn’t been selected for punditry duties. The only other down side about tonight is likely to be ‘that band’. Yesterday’s article and survey has produced an interesting reaction on Twitter, whilst the vote is clearly leaning one way – although perhaps not as heavily as one might have expected. There’s a few hours to go if you want to go for it.

Ok – my next twitter ‘ask’ involves the radio. Any regular reader to these pages will likely be aware that it is generally tuned to Absolute Radio in our house. Likewise, former breakfast show host Christian O’Connell played a key role in the ‘Is Cameron Diaz a Brentford supporter?’ reveal a few years back. That was then. This is now. The OC has moved to Australia and his co-host Richie Firth is due to start a brand new ‘Home time’ show with Everton fan Andy Bush in September.

I say brand new. One feature is in the pipeline to follow Richie – his 6.50am ‘Hitler’s Toilet’. Something both intriguing yet, at times, awful. But awful in a ‘so bad its good’ style. Think Nicolas Cage in ‘Drive Angry’.  Always compelling, it is radio gold.  A chance to pick up on a ’water cooler’ moment of a story that the mainstream media are yet to run with. Usually for good reason. Anything from mundane top-tens put together by companies desperately flogging their wares to the latest sighting of over-sized rats living in the sewers or some scientific breakthrough such as the imminent arrival of flying taxis.

Whilst I appreciate I’m not doing this justice, hearing is believing. 10,000 Retweets saves the feature. Please. Do me a favour. Click the below, share the tweet and save the toilet.

And finally, I just wanted to offer a HUGE thanks to all those who have downloaded one of the season review e-books to date. With all proceeds raised going towards the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, I can’t say how grateful I am to our fans. Don’t forget also that if you do this before the end of June, I’ll put you into the draw to win an exclusive ‘third’ shirt given to me by a source close to the club – just DM / tweet me your download confirmation mail so as I can add your name.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Pinch yourself at just how far we have come in such a short space of time.

Nick Bruzon

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

 

 

 

Kit news? Some news? Natalie aces the World Cup podcast and YOUR chance to shape Lionel Road.

9 Jun

Saturday morning. Something’s happening. For any Brentford fans up early then 9am is the time; the official website is the place. But what is it? What’s happening? Is it kit or a new player? Please be kit. For those England, Denmark fans (and beyond) we’ve a double World Cup latest for anybody wanting something a little bit different to the usual ‘fantasy football’ and podcasts. And there is stadium news as the Lionel Road plans continue to take shape.

First up, Twitter. Fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant set tongues wagging on Friday morning when he casually dropped the bombshell, “Oh and kit news is coming real soon…” into our social media feed.

What??? Where? When? Real. Soon. Define either/both. Please. The response was a GIF. Not quite meme levels of social media offences but acceptable enough if it gives this obsessive a kit related clue. But what does a calendar rushing through the early days of June mean?

Will that be when we our given our first snippet? The start of Mark Devlin’s now traditional strip tease routine. Or is it a full reveal? Will the point that the GIF stopped looping around (the 10th/11th seemingly the last clear dates) prove significant? Is that when we’re given the news, whatever that is, or did Ryan’s graphic just signify a broader date of ‘June’?

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Was he talking about Leicester City (given Brentford weren’t, actually, mentioned). Might it be the addition of Kit Symons to the coaching staff, as one Twitter wag noted. As yours truly over-analyses his tweet in a desperate search for clues one thing’s for sure –  with other clubs now in full sarotial flow, our own news can’t come quick enough.

I woke up this morning (du du du du duhhh) to more twitter news. This time from Brentford official. A late night tease and a Matthew Benham style video with the promise of even more news. Has Ryan’s news been usurped? Is this something different? Just what is going on? One things for sure, 9am Saturday morning promises to see our computer logged on to brentfordfc.com

Sitting here writing this nonsense I’m being kept going by Bees super fan Natalie Sawyer. Metaphorically speaking. With Russia 2018 almost upon us, The Times have launched their own tournament podcast, The Game World Cup daily.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 08.12.40We all know Natalie’s talent when it comes to hosting, presenting, chairing and talking football in general. Likewise, what happened in the last few months.

Supported by an extremely knowledgeable panel of Gab Marcotti, Henry Winter and James Gheerbrant, it’s a compelling listen. There are the views on what to expect from Russia as a host nation – especially for the England fans. The hopes and chances of the more favoured teams. Who will get through the knockout phases? What about England? Brazil? Germany? Lionel Messi and his Argentina side? Have Belgium under prepared or are they simply untested? Dark horses that nobody can get a proper read of?

With the promise of a new episode to come every matchday evening after the final whistle has blown, the opening preview has me hooked. I love the World Cup anyway but this additional insight is a very welcome partner to my Panini sticker book and wallchart. With Sky Sports loss very much The Times gain, bring on the next episode. You can find it here. Great job, Natalie. And team.

Next up, predictions. We’re all experts when it comes to calling the games. Obviously. The only reason I’m not a betting millionaire is because I only use the internet gambling sites for research purposes. That, and the prospect of being lured in by Ray Winstone’s disembodied head, responsibly or otherwise, is as distasteful a thought as a night out with Mrs Brown and her boys (I would also accept: The England supporters’ band).

Yet hope is at hand. Hashfootery is back. The simple prediction game where the most you can lose is your sanity as you try to predict the scores of group games and beyond. The most you can win, the acclaim aside, are some quite magnificent beer glasses.

But its not about the prizes. Its about the chance to demonstrate what we know about football – albeit I’ll take any guidance Natalie and her team can offer. If you fancy a go then you can enter here for free.

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Enter today and win a prize (stickers not included)

Getting back to Brentford, did you see the Lionel Road news on the official site yesterday? YOUR chance to be involved in the stadium planning committee and help shape our future home. This is incredible. Having sat in on some of the meetings already, I can’t stress how involved the club are looking to make this. How much of a supporter driven effort this is becoming.

Yet with everything from Farewell to Griffin Park, through ticketing, seating and even things such as catering up for discussion – you must have athought on one of these? Surely? If so then ‘official’ have all the details of how fans can get involved.

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Lionel Road is well under way

And finally, I just wanted to offer a HUGE thanks to all those who have downloaded one of the season review e-books to date. With all proceeds raised going towards the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, I can’t say how grateful I am to our fans. Don’t forget also that if you do this before the end of June, I’ll put you into the draw to win this exclusive ‘third’ shirt – just DM / tweet me your download confirmation mail so as I can add your name.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Pinch yourself at just how far we have come in such a short space of time

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Nick Bruzon

For anyone just coming in from work, the key dates are….

6 Jun

Hold on to your hats, Brentford fans. Despite seeming like an eternity already since the Championship ended, football is about to go. Again. With the 2018 World Cup about to kick off (in an ‘on pitch’ sense, one hopes) over in Russia, it’s time to mark those all important dates in the diary. This time next week, we’ll be good to go.

Just some of the many treats we’ve got to look forward to include……

Thursday 14th June. The World cup opening game. Russia v Saudi Arabia.

Monday 18th June. The first England game. A 7pm start against Tunisia

Thursday 21st June. The 2018/19 Championship fixture list is released

Sunday 1st July. The draw takes place to find the winner of our limited edition Brentford FC 2018/18 ‘third’ shirt.

IMG_E3007Yes. The wall chart is on the fridge. The beer is in the fridge. Andreas Bjelland (258) is finally in the sticker collection, even if he won’t now be at the tournament.  The excitement is building. The BBC may have poured scorn on the tournament’s opening fixture when the draw was made, saying that ITV could have that one, but for me it’s an absolutely crucial game. A key opportunity to lay down a gauntlet and, quite frankly, an opportunity missed.

Whilst the game may not be the most exciting on paper, a 4pm (GMT) kick off sees the first chance of the tournament for World Cup bingo players to cross off the phrase, “And for anybody just coming in from work, the score is…. “

This is an absolute tournament staple and for the BBC to have turned down the first chance to use it must surely rank as some sort of commentary related own goal. Despite the score being clearly available in the top corner for all to see, it still makes me smile to hear this phrase. A ritual as important as using the orange ball in the snow or brackets when the score turns to 7(seven) – 0.

Expect Mark Pougatch to have the honours this time around with the key line being delivered at approximately 5.13pm.

Next up, Brentford. The previous column was all about self-promotion. Albeit for a very good cause – trying to raise a few quid for the Community Sports Trust. As anybody who follows yours truly on Twitter may be aware (and apologies for the spamming!) the latest Last Word season reviews are now available for download.

If you’d like to buy one (at just £2/£4 respectively) all proceeds received are going to be donated to the Trust. I’ve also been given a very special shirt – one of last season’s ‘\third’ kits, with squad number 4 on the reverse in EFL font. As you may be aware, these weren’t available on general release and so this is a very rare item.

Anybody downloading a copy goes into the hat where one person will be pulled at random to win this short. Just send me a copy of your download confirmation mail (DM me or @NickBruzon on twitter) and I’ll add you to the draw. This is really important if you’d like to have a chance of winning as I can’t see the names otherwise!

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Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Just do something for a great cause.

Next up, the fixture list. June 21st is when we can start to make our travel plans for the forthcoming campaign . When we can see if Christmas is ruined or saved.

I have a feeling these could almost slip through un-noticed if the World Cup gets as thrilling as it could / should. Yet I’ll still have an eye open for these. Aston Villa (should they still be in existence at that point) QPR and the Boxing Day fixture will be the big ones for me.

More to follow.

As a final thought, the one date we don’t have is that for our new shirt launch. If anybody from the club is reading (unlikely, but) please put us out of our misery. Having seen some of the Adidas designs already released – and that’s just for the World Cup – I have big hopes….

No pressure, Bob….

Nick Bruzon