Tag Archives: Arsenal

The BIG questions answered by a very special guest as Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest…

5 Oct

Friday was an odd one. It was a day where all the weighty issues of the world were bouncing around my head. And that’s not a good place to be. For example… If one asteroid wiped out the dinosuars, why did the plethora of city-sized spaceships falling to earth at the end of the film Independence Day have no more inconvenient an effect than providing an invaluable cache of alien technology which was able to be reclaimed in time for the (unspeakable) sequel?  Whose version of a song entitled C’est La Vie is the best? With all due respect to The Stereophonics, and bypassing the suggestion of Robbie Neville from a fan of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea that I work with, this can only be won by the best band to wear double denim since Status Quo. Of course, I mean B*Witched. Most telling of all though, was the question of who carries off smart-casual knitwear the best? Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi or Brentford head coach Thomas Frank. It is a question we may well be able to answer at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon.

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Great dress sense AND great music

The reason this particular thought had been turning over was c/o of today’s guest, Nottingham Forest fan and Absolute Radio DJ Matt Dyson.

Regular readers – should such a concept exist – will be aware that we’ve got the radio on in our kitchen. A lot. Combined with the unsocial hours kept by yours truly to churn this nonsense out, the radio is tuned to Absolute pretty much permanently.

It is something that has already reaped benefits, of sorts, when Christian O’Connell was able to finally put the question – Is Cameron Diaz a Brentford fan? – direct to the horse’s mouth. The result was categoric. Some might say catastrophic. Albeit one loaded with potential (you can find that here) although Cameron, if you are reading (you aren’t) or your legal people get hold of this,  I’m not for one second suggesting you look like a horse. That said, the clock IS ticking on your chance to visit Griffin Park. Get yourself over. I have it on good authority there is a permanent seat reserved for you.

We digress. As ever.  The co-host of the Dave Berry Breakfast show on 105.8 FM and DAB digital (apparently) is a long-time fan and very vocal supporter of The Tricky Trees. The highs and lows at The City Ground are a regular topic of discussion in the morning, aswell as on the weekend’s Rock N Roll Football along with fellow Forest fan Matt Forde.

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Matt Dyson – right. Co-host at breakfast wit Dave Berry

As such, who better to ask for his opinion on today’s opponents for a Brentford side very much looking to bounce back from what we will diplomatically describe as our ‘tactical meltdown’ in the last few minutes on Wednesday night? With his team flying high and his talk of Lamouchi playing havoc with my thought process, here’s our Q&A with Matt…..

Ten games in and the fledgling table is now deemed to have ’taken shape’. Nottingham Forest are two points off the top in fourth place (effectively third given Leeds United will start their annual choke at some point).  What’s happened at The City Ground?  Well, having changed our manager (and then the entire squad come the transfer window) every six months for what seems like the past decade, we’ve finally stumbled upon a good one! Sabri Lamouchi has effortlessly adapted to the Championship and he has instilled a great sense of confidence into the squad and an ability to play attractive attacking football.  Happy days.

Recent seasons have told us to expect mid-table at best. Can you hold your position? Until our incredibly brief stint at the top of the table towards the end of last month, we hadn’t reached the summit for 5 years.  That was when the legend Stuart Pearce was in charge. And while, at the time, we expected that form to tip (as tended to happen with Psycho’s teams after the honeymoon period ended) I’m not getting the same feeling this time around. I don’t want to curse us, but we look like ‘the real deal’ this season. We’re grinding out away draws even when we don’t deserve them. The players seem super confident.

What price Lewis Grabban? Brentford infamously game him away on a free a few season back , only to see his value increase with just about every subsequent move. What is he worth to you now ? He’s invaluable – the only thing that could seriously derail our season at this point is Lewis getting injured. He’s a wispy bearded behemoth of a striker. Grabbing goals left, right and centre. Brentford’s crazy loss was eventually our gain.

Who are the Nottingham Forest danger men? The aforementioned Grabban, the excellent left footed wing wizard, Joe Lolley (there literally ain’t no body like him) and the tiny Portuguese prince, Joao Carvalho.  But, in my opinion, our new sense of confidence stems from the back. The partnership of Michael Dawson (Forest past) and Joe Worrall (Forest future) had been an option for previous managers but they had other ideas. This blend of youth and experience is the backbone of Sabri’s red and white army.

Ahh, yes. Sabri Lamouchi. Is there a more wonderfully named manager in English football? What does he bring to Nottingham Forest that previous incumbents of the City Ground hot seat have struggled to do? Like I’ve said, he’s instilled confidence, made good signings and seems like our coolest manager since Cloughie. He rocks turtleneck knitwear in an effortlessly stylish way.

Brentford v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Griffin Park

Who will win today’s battle of C&A?

Tottenham got thumped 7(seven)- 2 during the week in the UCL. What is the correct use of brackets to reflect this. 7 (seven), 7 (Seven) or 7(SEVEN)? (SEVEN)

Author’s note: one can only presume Matt has not fully understood the question. As we all know, the correct answer should be 7(seven). Shouldn’t it? Can’t just be me….

The League Cup. You slipped up by the odd-ish goal in five at Arsenal, a similar fate to the one we suffered last season. Is there any point in this anymore, though? The League Cup, rather than Arsenal. Or should we just put it out of its misery?  We’ve done very well in the competition in the past, so I don’t want to ditch it. Those glorious trips to Wembley in my youth, for a cup final sponsored by a catalogue shop or an electrical goods rental store, were priceless. But if teams are going to play their reserves in the early rounds they should tell fans in advance. Going straight to pens after a draw is a step in the right direction, but a reserve team tournament is of no interest to anyone.

The big game….

I’m heading up by train and fancy downloading a movie. Which is the greatest football film ever made? Escape to Victory – John Wark’s inexplicable time to shine on the silver screen.

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We can win this….. Stallone and Wark stand shoulder to shoulder. Amazing !

Curses. My Netflix subscription has run out. I’ll make do with a podcast. Which episode of the Dave Berry breakfast show from 2019 should I listen to? Just subscribe and get all of them. Or listen live on Absolute Radio and pick which decade’s music you want to go with it. It’s ground breaking technology, so take advantage of it. Or listen to the Gameweek fantasy football podcast (which I do with my old mate Dan Prior) if you indulge in the anti-football stat-based weight around your neck that is the Fantasy Premier League. The Rock N Roll Football podcast with me and Matt Forde is also worth a listen.

Are you a Hooters man? Or is there another pub you can recommend to us travelling fans?  I used to frequent it occasionally. It’s just a family restaurant with a slightly saucy mystique. If you like being served chicken wings by women in Lycra head there.   But I think all away fans should be forced to drink in that soulless crappy looking pub at Meadow Lane (home of Notts County).  The Broken Wheelbarrow is built into the ground and looks like a hideous new build social club. Please try it and give it a rating on trip adviser

Finally, who’s going to win this one and what’s the score going to be? We should edge it 3-1. Sorry.

Thank you Matt. Very much appreciated, even if you are wrong about brackets. Regardless, this has all the elements of a cracker today. With man-to-watch Dawson, missing through injury does this give Brentford hope or will Grabban come back to haunt us? Roll on 3pm when we find out.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. Perhaps in The Broken Wheelbarrow….

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Nick Bruzon   

Match Of The Day scandal ruins transfer news.

23 Aug

“Mate I’m scandalised…” Not my words but those of Brentford supporter JJ (he of the goal inducing dodgy bladder from the Ealing Road) that reached me last night via the medium of text message. They are words that should unite supporters of every club from West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal to Partick Thistle, Forfar Athletic and beyond. Words which even eclipsed our own news about the signing of striker Nikos Karelis. All this, after reading an article in his son Felix’s copy of BBC Match Of The Day Magazine.

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Nikos. Blown away by a scandal from Lineker et al

Mrs. Browns Boys. Made up coffee words – where I gather Star*ucks have now added Trenta to their ‘made up words‘ size range that also includes ‘Tall’ (small, obviously), ‘Grande’ and ‘Venti’. Team GB. Bernie Clifton or, rather, his tinpot England ‘supporters’ ‘band’. Polls about ‘Best Bond’ which have Roger Moore anywhere except number one. Espresso spelt or pronounced Expresso. The world’s weakest joke: Star Wars Day (the one between May the third and May the fifth – aka the fourth of May in our house) etc etc etc. Regular readers – should such a concept somehow exist – know the drill.

There are few things in life which annoy me as much as any of these. Yet Match Of The Day magazine may have just joined the list. Specifically in the latest edition of their publication which included a ‘Best Mascot’ feature.

There was no Buzzette. Anywhere. Gunnersaurus, the Arsenal thing, was absent despite winning the recent World Cup of football mascots. Somehow. West Brom’s Boilerman was conspicuous by his absence. Perennial favourite Kingsley of Partick Thistle was there, although somehow languishing in third place. I’ll let JJ pick up the rest of the analysis with a direct copy paste…

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Buzzette – absent. Kingsley – booted into Bronze medal position

JJ: Mate I’m scandalised to see that in Match of the Day magazine the force of nature that is Kingsley is only down at number three for their Mascot of the Year, merely one place above the utter atrocity that is the Euro 2020 effort, ahem, “Skillzy” (take my word for it mate, don’t even look the bastard up…). Not only that but I see that at number one is Wigan’s own Crusty the Pie- all well and good but I hate to break it to the chattering classes fawning over this “ironic and kitsch” dough based hero but Forfar Athletic’s “Baxter the Bridie” beat him to it by several years… 

As regards (shudder…) “Skillzy” I reckon the whole situation can be summed up in three words-anodyne..corporate..wank. Case rests m’lud… Rant over…

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Baxter – Noooooooooo

Despite the advice not to, I’ve looked up Skillzy…..

It’s true. Everything JJ says and more. Bad enough that the mascot looks like a cross-eyed serial killer wearing a dead skin mask made from the face of one of his victims. Yet the most heinous of his crimes being use of the extraneous ‘z’ in…’Skillzy’.  Oh, and the top knot. It is a level of bland self-indulgence previously only enjoyed by the aforementioned coffee company. (Large will be fine, thank you). 

Crusty is good, to be fair, but for this new kid on the block to shoot straight in at number is symptomatic of today’s ‘quick fix’ society. Instant gratification syndrome. What a terrible example for any young children who may be reading. Granted, the target audience of the offending publication.

The likes of Buzzette, Kingsley and long established Gunnersaurus have put in all manner of hard yards over the years only to be dismissed in a heartbeat. I must admit to not being overly familiar with Baxter but am sure that Forfar fans will be as frustrated as I am this morning. Possibly.

And, on other news,Brentford official were pleased to say  #WelcomeNikos yesterday. A one year deal has been signed with the option of a second season. Could he be the final piece in the jigsaw? Roll on Saturday’s trip to Charlton where we find out. I’d love to talk more about his but , to quote JJ, “I’m scandalised” by the whole mascot thing.

Now, does anybody have a phone number for The Daily Mail….?

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Skill’z’y – appearing on a ‘Wanted’ poster soon

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

No falling apart, this time, as shrewd loanees help the hosts.

22 Aug

There’s not much to say, really. Congratulations Leeds United after a rare victory over Brentford last night. A 1-0 win at Elland Road returned the home side to the top of the Championship table after a game that could have gone either way. But didn’t. Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah’s late strike via Wolves loanee Helder Costa was the ultimate difference between the two sides. It was a game where Bees new boy Bryan Mbuemo came within a lick of paint from seeing his first half strike find the back of the net from the inside of  the post and substitute Saïd Benrahama could have levelled things at the death. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Leeds failed to fall apart. Instead, we must focus on another road (and river) trip this Saturday with Charlton (a) next on the agenda.

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The only stat that counts. Sadly.

Brentford started this one on top. The view afforded via the Sky Sorts smudge vision option saw us dominant in the opening period but chances were at a premium despite possession. Oh, for a pound every time that phrase were used. The aforementioned Mbuemo effort about as close as it got, the wideman shooting from outside the edge of the box and across the face of the goal only to see his shot beat ‘keeper Casilla before bouncing back across the six yard box via the edge of the back stick. Half time came with the hosts finding their feet and the chance of a break in the action probably a welcome one for Thomas Frank.

Yet instead of allowing us to pick up the pace once more, the second period began as the first had ended. Leeds on the front foot and the Bees hanging on. It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. The game had that feeling about it and, sure enough, with less than ten minutes to go the net rippled. Nketiah making no mistake from close in after Costa’s wonderful run and cross. Inch perfect box delivery to rival the pizzas being eaten on our couch as this one unfolded (although not from a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock). Hey, there has to be some compensation for missing out on seeing this one live.

That the move for the goal started with a clear foul on Benrahma was almost a moot point. There was still plenty enough time to stop the rampaging Leeds hordes but the pace of Costa and the positional awareness of Nketiah proved vital. It was a finish akin to Sergi and Ollie at Middlesbrough and showed how well Marcelo Bielsa has played the loan market. Being able to take players from Premiership Arsenal and Wolves certainly paying dividends for a team whose record in the Championship is now WDWW. 

It was disappointing more than anything else as on a different night we could easily have had a point. It wasn’t that Leeds were streets ahead but they took their chance whilst the longer the game went on the more it felt as though they were in control. Saïd could have taken the point late on but blazed over. It wasn’t to be and there are no sour grapes.  Besides, you’ve likely seen it all by now and, if not, the main action is up on the Sky website. We don’t particularly do match reports on these pages and there’s always the likes of the BBC, Beesotted or ‘official’ if you want any greater analysis. By which I mean any analysis.

I’m not sure what else to say at this juncture. One could take pleasure for another defeat suffered by QPR. Another penalty given away by Yoann Barbet. Another season where we are already ahead of the hapless hoops.  But with Fulham already up into the top three, let’s adopt the philosophy that with the table in fledgling state we need a good ten games before it is deemed to have ‘fully formed’. It is a mantra I have long stuck to and see no reason to change this time around.

Four games in is far too early to know who are the whipping boys and who are looking good for a fast track to the top flight. Besides, last season proved that running away with things early means nothing if the wheels fall off at the death. Just ask Leeds.

Instead, it’s Charlton next. They are currently unbeaten but the trip to The Valley is usually a wonderful occasion. A full house is guaranteed by the visiting fans with the short hop across London on a hot day something that will be enjoyed by all. Hopefully, we’ll be feeling the same at 5pm…..

See you there.

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Hopefully the result will be better on Saturday

Nick Bruzon  

The window is closed. Kind of. All good, so far….

9 Aug

The domestic transfer window is closed. Dominic Thompson has joined Brentford from Arsenal. We’re still waiting for Ghoddos (c) all of TW8.  That one seems to be a transfer that, reading between the lines, isn’t going to happen now given there is as much interest in the agents as the player. Rico Henry is still a Bee and has not, yet, made the rumoured step down to the Scottish Premiership with Celtic. Halil Dervişoğlu is still at Sparta (for now?). Lyle Taylor is still at Charlton, who have done great business in hanging on to him. Best of all though, Ollie Watkins and Saïd Benrahma are still at Brentford. The twin news of Dean Smith declaring he had put the Aston Villa cheque book away without acquiring his man, accompanied by the player’s own instagram post, had Bees fans in raptures as the blow of losing Neal Maupay to Brighton has been very much softened.

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I feel sorry for Dominc in that his move from Arsenal was very much masked by ongoing stress and conjecture amongst elements of the fanbase as to whether a replacement would come in for Neal or whether anybody else might depart. In the end, there was nothing. And that’s great news. We all know how many goals the likes of Sergi, Ollie and Saïd contributed last time out. Marcus Forss, or whomever Thomas goes with at the top of the attack, has a great opportunity to pick up from where he left off on his debut. This is before you factor in Joel Valencia and the rest of the new signings. Get ready for a season of ‘Total Football’, Brentford style.

As for Saïd, never have I been so glad to see the Brentford number 10 in recent seasons. Never have I been so glad to see our stripe free back. Never have I been so pleased to use a hashtag. If #SB10 keeps him happy then who am I to argue. Perhaps #newgoals is a bit much but such is the mood about his still being at Griffin Park that we can go with it. Sorry Aston Villa, but your loss is very much our gain. For now at least. 

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Saïd is back. With hashtags.

The one other point to be aware of is that up in Scotland, the window still has three weeks to go until that closes. Arsenal picking up Kieran Tierney does mean we’ll still be sweating on whether Rico is being lined up to replace him at Celtic. The chance to miss out on the group stages of the champions league doesn’t come around very often but hopefully common sense will prevail and the draw of that final season at Griffin Park remain as potent a force as ever.

All in all, its been a quite wonderful window for Brentford. Pontus Jansson from Leeds United still remains the deal of the summer for me. I’m gutted about Neal, obviously, but the attacking potential in this team is immense. We’ve come out of this quids up – by approximately £35m (in) to £30m (out), if you believe what you read in cyberspace. Of course, the club never publish details so we’ve no idea what has really been paid. Better still, whilst we have lost a talisman overall the balance of the squad is arguably better than it was before. With Kamo also due back any minute now even the centre of the park, arguably getting used to the absence of him and Romaine on Saturday, will have that bit more oomph to it. 

Who is now match fit and who starts on Saturday at Middlesbrough are the next big questions. It will take time for the new look set up to gel and there’s no place tougher to go. Out victory there last season was as incredible as was rare, and that’s just because we were wearing the brown/orange. (Note to self: don’t upset anyone by saying how gorgeous that kit was ). So we go into this one with absolutely nothing to lose. Apart from the game itself. But that’s not my mentality and that won’t be the attitude from Thomas or the squad. Competition in this squad is now so tough that there’s no room for slip up and no margin for error. Whilst the centre backs seem set in stone, even that’s up for grabs should Thomas revert to two rather than three.

How nice to have a Plan B available.

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Bring out the crowbar for the combination of Arsenal and Brown/Orange

Nick Bruzon

Strap yourselves in. Here we go…..

3 Aug

Dear Gary Lineker and the Match Of The Day team. The football season has started. Whilst you’ll likely be telling us next weekend that the beautiful game is back when the top flight kicks off in anger, things are already underway in some style. Last night saw the goalkeeping calamity that was the 3-3 between Luton Town and Middlesbrough then this afternoon we have the small matter of Brentford v Birmingham City at Griffin Park as the Championship opens in style. Fulham travel to Barnsley and QPR are at Stoke as we once more enjoy the side-battle of seeing who is the best team in West London at this level. There’s the obligatory Leeds United TV game on Sunday before we round things off with the visit of Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ to Huddersfield Town. As importantly, North of the border there’s a cry for help from my pal Kinglsey at Partick Thistle as he takes on Gunnersaurus (Arsenal) in the final of the Mascot World Cup. 

Oh, wow. This is it. We’re here. Season Ticket has arrived. Programme column has been submitted. Plans to meet up for pre-match beers locked in. Early morning stroll around Griffin Park taken.

I had to. One last chance to breathe in the start of a new campaign before the big move up the road. To enjoy the clam before the oncoming storm. It’s a glorious morning in Brentford with clear skies and the sun up just after 6am. Pack the factor 50. And that’s just for the action on pitch where the occasion of a visit from Birmingham City is always a special once. Even better, when it kicks off our season.

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Early morning, Griffin Park. Welcome home…

This one is sure to be sizzling. The game is close to a sell out and Birmingham will be on raucous form. If nothing else, it’s not very often they can say they are unbeaten in a Championship campaign yet that is, technically, what their record shows at present with Luton Town toping the fledgling table. So spirits will be high. At least, hopefully, until things kick off. Brentford are strengthened by the fact that, to date, only Romaine Sawyers and Ezri Konsa (£££ ker-chingg) have been sold whilst we welcome a host of summer signings of whom Pontus Jansson from Leeds United is the obvious high profile name.

I’m genuinely excited by seeing him in action. We all know Pontus of old. He’s one of those players who has always been a thorn under the saddle. A player who wears his heart on his sleeve. Who has broken ours in the past. Last season at Elland Road in particular. Who has captained his national side and played in the finals for the World Cup. See also: Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford.

And now Pontus is a Bee  – signed over the summer at short notice and on a (relative) cut price fee compared to the £10m valuation that was floating around last season. This is bonkers. But brilliant. Something special is happening at Griffin Park and if we can survive the next few days with the squad unscathed then it could be a very special campaign indeed.

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I can’t wait for that first goal celebration….

Thomas Frank and the team ended on a real high last time. The second half of the season, trips to Swansea aside, saw us in buoyant form. The team were really firing with Said and Neal, in particular, on scintillating form. There will be no Benrahma today (fitness) but Thomas has already confirmed that both Ollie Watkins and the free-scoring French frontman – (c)  The Middlesex Chronicle big book of Brentford alliteration – are available. Whether they start remains to be seen but common sense dictates that it will be the bench, at best, simply given a lack of pre-season match prep. Then again, this is Brentford. Who knows? We do love a surprise or two.   

As for Birmingham City, there’s not much else to say. There’s an element of their fanbase who seem obsessed with Brentford, going by social media, but as much as anything else for me they are always a great yardstick of our own progress. As we’ve said before, the 90s were a period where our paths seemed permanently inter-twined and, sadly, it was Blues who came out on top more often than not. Albeit that last weekend at Peterborough was about as special as they get. Then they went up during the 94-95 single team promotion season. We came second after going neck and neck (including defeat at St.Andrews three games out from the end) so it was the play-offs. Hmmmm.

If those newer fans think ‘that penalty’ hurt (and it did) the prolonged agony of that campaign concluding and Bees just missing out as what would have been the toughest of promotions came tantalisingly close was another level of pain. Especially given our fate was then confirmed by Play-off semi-final defeat, on penalties, to Huddersfield Town. It was about as gut wrenching as it gets. Nobody needs any more reminder of that or the hero that is Bob Taylor somehow missing that unmissable open goal at the McAlpine in the first leg.

And that was it.  Until recently. We’ve been together for what is now a sixth season, despite Birmingham doing their level best to get relegated on more than one occasion. Yes. Harlee Dean did something stupid. Plus ça change. That’s something he’ll have to live with and which Brentford fans will never let him forget.

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How IS that working out?

That’s not obsession but more part of what makes football so magnificent. Those ad-hoc moments that turn into club folklore. Martin Rowlands kissing the badge. Saint & Greavsie prematurely awarding Birmingham City the 91-92 Third Division title before Gary Blissett did his thing at Peterbrough. Russell Slade whining about our celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Pontus Jansson’s half-chewed biro. And, of course, the Bees responding to his Birmingham City ‘ten times better’ claim by finishing above Blues for a fourth, and then last season fifth, successive Championship campaign.

No doubt #BeeThDJ will be filled with requests for Daydream Believer today. No doubt the club will ignore them. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. It WAS brilliant fun for the fans when it happened but let’s never go back. Instead, it should remain as another of those folklore moments those of us fortunate to experience will never forget. 

He said it. Not me.

History is great. It should be a means of measuring progress. A means of inspiring. That’s what Birmingham City are for me as much as anything else. Inspiration. Now the chance to write another page in our history begins today. Of course, it is the final season at Griffin Park. We’re going to see and hear loads about that this campaign. Take it all in. Enjoy every second. Once it’s gone, it IS gone. But at the same time, let’s not use it as a distraction. This is a unique opportunity to combine the inspiration with the history.  And I cannot wait for things to get going. Roll on 3pm. See you there.

And if you need something to do prior to kick off, this week has seen the World Cup of Football Mascots unfolding on Twitter. Whilst Buzzette was not selected for the group stage (are they mad?)  that perennial favourite of these pages, Kingsley, was.

The Partick Thistle legend is now in the final against Gunnersaurus of Arsenal and needs your help. Please. At the time of writing, the North London club’s dinosaur (their mascot, not Piers Morgan) is just ahead in the poll but there is still time to turn things around. You can vote below. As long as it’s for Kingsley.

I caught up with my good friend last night (with apologies for going Ian Moose there) and he has promised to visit Griffin Park this season should he end up lifting the trophy. So please, get involved. Imagine the union that would be a coming together of him and Buzzette. If nothing else, its nice to enjoy a ‘World Cup of…’ that’s NOT being promoted by Richard Osman. Much as I enjoy his Pointless show, and I do, the link to his team is always a disturbing one.

We all know Buzzette is awesome. I defy anyone to name a better mascot in the top four divisions. Nice try, Wigan Athletic, but no cigar. Yet things are pretty special at Partick Thistle, too. So please – a vote for Kingsley is a vote for mascot magnificence. Who else could get away with this?  

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Nick Bruzon

Farewell Alan. And can Hank Marvin stop Aberdeen in the latest ‘The World Cup of….’?

15 Jan

No sooner had the dust settled on the weekend than the first departure has happened through the transfer window after it was announced that Alan Judge has left Brentford for Ipswich Town. It was a rumour that we’d seen circulating for the last few days and has now been confirmed. Elsewhere, there’s a question. Of sorts. What links Aberdeen, Newcastle United, two old women and Hank Marvin. But not Richard Osman or Fulham? More to follow, but first Judgey.

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No more a rumour. No more a Bee

What can you say? The player affectionately known as ‘The Magician’ in the Braemar Road has performed his final trick and disappeared. Ipswich Town have picked up a star, that’s for sure. We all know what Alan did for Brentford. The eventual penalty that eventually took us up to the Championship. Eventually. The goals. The pace. The excitement. That free kick at Fulham to round off the famous 4-1 rout. The one at Arsenal earlier this season.

Not only a strike of the highest quality but also one of those rare occasions that a goal has been scored in a brown/orange shirt (although one can fully understand the first XI getting distracted by the incredible tops and being lulled into deeming themselves more catwalk models than a football team).

There was also ‘that’ injury. Ironically enough, suffered at Ipswich Town of all places. It put paid to Alan’s dreams of taking part in the Euro 2016 finals – something that was an almost certainty for a player who still ended up being nominated for the Championship Player of the Year award aswell as being named in both the Championship PFA and the Football League Teams of the Year at the end of that season.

Luke Hyam is plying his trade at Southend these days whilst the mental and physical strength Alan showed in fighting back is more than testament to his fortitude as a player – on and off the pitch. The welcome he received when he finally came back in last season’s FA Cup should tell all you need to know.

Good luck Alan. And thank you for everything! Especially that Fulham goal. You can read more here, on Brentford official.

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What a shirt. What a goal.

Talking of Fulham, we all know that their ‘celebrity’ fan Richard Osman will stick his name to a “The World Cup of…..” anything at the drop of a hat. The World Cup of biscuits. The World Cup of books. The World Cup of crisps. The World Cup of teams having zero shots against but still managing to lose 2-1 to Burnley at the weekend. Granted, that last one’s a little niche but you get the drift.

So it was with great pleasure of the discovery being made on Monday lunchtime that one of THE twitter sites to follow, @TheSkyStrikers , have launched their own – The World Cup of programme covers. And it’s every bit as good as one would hope.

For those yet to discover this gem, in their own words it is summarised best by host Miles McClagan as: “Collating as many old football images as I can from a random bucket of programmes…” And, it would be fair to say, there are some corkers.

Taken largely from the 70s and 80s, it was a time when football was less politically correct but also an industry taking those early steps into marketing. With mixed results. But also a lot of fun and nowhere more is this emphasised in some of the covers now going head-to-head.

There’s Hank Marvin popping up at Newcastle United. As you do. Paul Parker taking a trip in hot air balloon – in full kit. Two old ladies leaning out of a bedroom window at Aberdeen to cheer on their team. Indeed, that’s just one of a trio of covers to feature the Dons which take part in the first knock out round.

The competition launched on Twitter, yesterday, and the first few are below to get you in the mood. Hats off to Miles for a labour of love and a work of art.

But can anybody stop Aberdeen?

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Hank’s Newcastle United and Aberdeen are amongst the early favourites.

Nick Bruzon

At least Martin will be happy as fourth round offers an excellent chance of progress.

8 Jan

But for the drop of a ball. Brentford will travel to Barnet for our fourth round FA Cup tie at the end of January. It is a match that was immediately picked out as a ‘tie of note’ by the BBC production team post–draw, despite Gary Lineker’s own assertion live on Match Of The Day that, ”Barnet. I’m sure they wanted a giant. Perhaps they can get one in the fifth round if they beat Brentford… “. Whilst that came across as somewhat patronising given the huge divisional gap and the history between our two sides, I guess we should be used to the ‘Little Old Brentford’ / ‘Tinpot Brentford’ school of thought by now. Yet if you look at who was left behind in the draw: Portsmouth, QPR, Manchester United,  Arsenal, Spurs and Crystal Palace, one can’t help but feel supporters of both sides will have been dreaming of what might have been and, perhaps, this is where Gary was coming from. The only person 100% happy with this one will be Martin Allen, no doubt lining up his place on the Match of the Day or BT Sport sofas already.   

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Martin has form at this stage

Personally, I’m very happy with this one. It represents a great chance of progression to the last 16 for Brentford. Something that I have no doubt Barnet supporters will also be thinking. They’ll have been buoyed by their own incredible victory up at Sheffield United and inspired by Newport County dumping Leicester City out on Sunday. They have a wonderful opportunity in a game which offers a massive divisional advantage to Thomas Frank’s team yet also a potato skin of the first degree. On paper there’s only one team should win it yet in practice we all know that’s not how it works in the FA Cup. Just ask Fulham.

I’m not a hypocrite. I’d have loved the chance to host a Manchester United or make a trip to Crystal Palace. Yet looking at the rest of the balls that were left when we came out of the hat, the trip to Barnet is so much more intriguing than what might have been.

Arsenal – already been there, done that, got the half and half scarf this season.

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They really did exist – The Arsenal / Brentford half & half

Tottenham – they play at the ‘W’ place. Given our past form, let’s avoid going there until we have no choice.

QPR – nobody needs the vagaries of a West London derby when looking to progress.

Portsmouth – any opportunity to avoid the walking cliche that is ‘Mr. Portsmouth’ and his bell can only be a good thing.

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No Bell. End of.

So it is Barnet rather than Manchester United for Brentford. I can’t wait. I love the FA Cup and make no apologies for saying so. Always have done. From the making of a tinfoil trophy to the dreaming of what might come next. From the chance to make a name for ourselves in the upset stakes through to the eventual prospect of being there when our captain for the day lifts that most famous of trophies.

Even better, we now have the words of Gary Lineker ringing in our ears. Any motivational speech that Thomas Frank may have needed to make for this one has just become an awful lot easier. I genuinely can’t wait for this one and will be doing all possible to make the trip to North London – tickets allowing. We may not travel with the 8,500 that went to Arsenal  – (the capacity at The Hive is officially showing as 5,176) but you can absolutely guarantee this one will be a sell-out. Bring it on!

And finally, did you catch the piece about Peter Gilham on the ITV London news last night? What a wonderful look at a man for whom no words are needed! If nothing else, we got to see one of those famous goal celebrations in the flesh. Pity the ears of anyone sitting within 25 yards – excitement, thy name is Gilham! It was an excellent article, even allowing for the cameo from yours truly – shot from a somewhat unusual angle that only accentuated nostrils and double chin.

More importantly, the club announced on Twitter last night that:We’re looking to get the footage so we can put it out on our channels later in the week“.  Given the diversity of the Brentford fanbase, with supporters living as far apart as Swindon to Salisbury and Hong Kong to somewhere else beginning with ‘H’ , that’s something that will be more than welcome. Failing that, there’s always ‘ITV Player’.

Nick Bruzon

Back to league action. And ‘thanks’, Michael Palin. Way to try and ruin a great thing.

29 Sep

The cup runneth over. Kind of. With Arsenal out of the way (not the right way) it’s back to League action today as Brentford host Reading. The first of a double bill at Griffin Park over the next few days sees this one closely followed by Birmingham City on Tuesday. With Leeds United making it just one win from five last night, a great opportunity is opening up whilst Twitter has delivered not once, but twice, in quite wonderful fashion.

First up, the Reading game. This one has everything to play for and promises to be a stunner. In theory. Reading have started to win games after their abject start and have now escaped the bottom three. 6 points out of the last 9 sees them finding form and reaching the dizzy heights of 20th. Brentford will, of course, be hugely cheered by that fight back at Arsenal during the week. It was one-way traffic as we came that close to hauling ourselves into the fourth round after a blitzkrieg second half. The only downside being the first half! Oh well, that’s football. We go ag, ag, agai.. once more. The obvious question being one of whether Dean sticks or twists ?

Such was the fight shown in the second period, I do wonder if he’ll continue with any of his normal bench players? Whilst, surely, one would expect Neal Maupay, Henrik Dalsgaard and Daniel Bentley to return to the starting XI is that as far as it goes? I thought Kamo was superb whilst Sergi ran them ragged once the team got going. Mind you, so did Saïd Benrahma when he came on. Who’d be a head coach?

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Yesssssss !!!!! Alan Judge’s free-kick sent the away end ballistic

Whomever starts, Brentford have even more incentive to go for it. Table toppers Leeds United being held at Sheffield Wednesday, Friday, means a win could take us to within a point of first place. Naturally, subject to other results. But the league is so tight at the moment that as far down as 14th, Swansea are only 6 behind Leeds. With Birmingham the same gap behind us, effectively 7(seven) when you factor in the draw specialists woeful goal difference, every game is crucial. Every point critical. Already. And its not even October. I love this division!!  

The cup was a lovely diversion and visiting Arsenal taught us a lot of things, as much off-field (see last column) as on, but it’s great to be feasting at the main table once more. Let’s hope Dean serves up a five-star banquet rather than skin and bone.

One of those Arsenal ‘things’ was giant flags at the home end. We’d seen similar before at Chelsea. Tucked behind the hoardings but then waved high to welcome the teams out or celebrate a goal to the home team. I’m not sure exactly what the benefit is or why they are needed – if you need a flag waver to generate an atmosphere (see also: the Mexican wave, England Supporter’s band,  goal music) then we’re already in trouble.

Thankfully, Matthew Benham is in agreement. The joy of Twitter where a casually asked question on Friday morning to the club owner brings about a response within minutes:    

@NickBruzon : Hi Matthew. You’ve often been quoted as (thankfully) saying there will never, ever be ‘goal music’ at Lionel Road. Is it safe to say the same will apply to Arsenal style ‘goal flags’ ?

@matthew_benham : Absolutely!

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Another Lionel Road crisis averted

Result! No flags and no goal music ! With Lionel Road looking bigger and better with each passing day, it’s great that he’s also on point about those matters that really count ! Here’s hoping the previously backed hot seat idea also comes to fruition. Even if Cameron Diaz won’t be the one filling it. That said, perhaps the sausage train remains a leap too far.

So that was yours truly feeling pretty pleased with the day’s social media activity. Easy come, easy go. As ever. No sooner had that gone up than it’s been blown out of the water first thing Saturday morning with a quite incredible spot on the social media platform from @HongKongBee , aka Andrew Cooper, after watching the Michael Palin In North Korea documentary from the BBC.  

Wow. There’s not much you can say here. Beyond a bit of photoshoppery just to really take a look at this in depth.

Whilst the North Korean regime of secrecy and oppression is totally abhorrent and about as far flung as you could get from all-embracing Griffin Park, that’s an eerie sartorial spot. Great observational skills, Andrew. It is incredible how something so wonderful in one format (our away kit) can look so awful in another. Thankfully, quality shines through and it will be the football kit that people remember long into the future rather than any quirky uniforms.

All being well Brentford official will be reporting a 7(seven) – 0 win for The Bees today for legitimate reasons rather than propaganda based ones.

North Korea Brentford away

Kit wrong-un

Finally, please don’t forget #BeeTheDJ today…..

Given the sad passing of Chas Hodges last weekend, what better way for fans to remember him than by bombarding the Griffin Park tannoy (other brands of p.a. system are also available) with the likes of Gertcha, Rabbit, Margate, Ain’t No Pleasing You, The Sideboard Song, London girls etc etc etc.

You can get choosing here. What better way to get the crowd buzzing prior to kick off whilst, more importantly, remembering the great man.

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How do you even try and whittle this down to one choice?

Nick Bruzon

The lunchtime after the night before. Arsenal through despite storming second half from Bees.

27 Sep

If only….. So close….. Why didn’t he go for it from kick off?…. Why can’t we just enjoy a big game just even one fuc&ing time?…. I enjoyed half a big game – should have been a whole one but for team selection.” These, just some of the things I saw / heard after Arsenal beat Brentford 3-1 in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup third round. It’s the obvious reaction to a game that, once The Bees stepped up in the second half, was about as exciting as they come. Likewise, and I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t disappointed on seeing that our usual starting XI weren’t in the frame for the opening period, it really has the feeling of an opportunity missed. In the immediate short term.

I don’t subscribe to any ‘big day out’ nonsense. This was a cup tie in an arena that was about as sanitised and sterile as they come and hardly the place where, but for a ball pulled from the hat, one would come to voluntarily. Giant ‘goal flags’, players giving out counter terrorism advice on the big screens and even mid-match graphics exhorting the home fans to ‘Come On You Reds.’ At one point I had to double check that the flag saying Arsenal Library actually said Arsenal Liberia. For me, this was all about the chance to progress against a club still labouring to escape the grisly shadow of, by their esteemed standards, recent mediocrity. A team sure to have been playing several reserves. They duly obliged.

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Arsenal library

Let’s be honest here, the first half was hard work. We weren’t even close to coming second as the hosts, helped by a very early goal, slipped effortlessly into cruise control. Reserves or otherwise. The Bees looked lethargic; the crowd subdued. That we were only two down at half time was as much thanks to Arsenal failing to put this one to bed. Halftime couldn’t come soon enough but, with it, Dean Smith seemingly delivered the mother of all team talks.

Sergi and, in particular, Alan Judge burst into life. Kamo mopping up the midfield. Dean’s initial selection more than justified as The Bees woke up. A goal threatened and came via a quite wonderful free kick from Judgey on the hour. Situated deep in the heart of Saunders territory, he was the last person anyone expected to hit it from the clutch of players gathered over the ball. But boy, what a sweet strike up, over and around the wall that left Jay Leno in the Arsenal goal with no chance. Sumptuous.

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Over the wall and en-route to goal

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Yesssssss !!!!!

An immense knee slide followed as the Brentford fans exploded. Not literally. Although that earlier advice might at least have come in handy. Could we haul ourselves back into this? The addition of Henrik Dalsgaard adding further strength. Likewise Maupay and Benrahma. It wasn’t for a want of trying, that’s for sure.

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. The prolific Lacazette putting it out of sight deep into stoppage time to give the game that final 3-1 score. No complaints from me with the end result but a lot to think about on the way home and a lot of time to do it thanks to the tube strike.

Dean’s team selection…. Absolutely I was gutted to see the likes of Said Benrahma, Neal Maupay and Daniel Bentley on the bench when the teams were announced. After all the hype, build up and ‘that’ Chelsea cup tie I really thought we’d hold firm. We didn’t. I understand why. These were still more than recognised players who came in at a point where the team are in the midst of a 7(seven) game run over 22 days.

Fitness and rotation are the obvious factors at play here whilst the second half proved that, actually, Dean called it right. He picked a side that had the ability to do a job. To a man they came out and put a stunning shift in after half-time with the performance further bolstered by later substitutions. It was the first half ‘no show’ that left us on the backfoot and with a mountain to climb. Rabbits in the headlights of slick, but comfortable opponents who play at that level for a reason.

We could have won. We maybe should have won. I’m still not sure why we took so long to start firing given how we came flying out of the traps in the second period. Would the team that lost at Frank Lampard’s Derby County on Saturday have fared any better? Alan Judge scored a wonder goal but that’s all I can take away from this in the direct aftermath. So close counts for nothing. That’s not to overlook the fact that, personally, I’m immensely cheered and proud by how we grew into this one.

As ever, some perspective. And as much to me. Whilst this was from many respects a chance to really make a name for ourselves, at the end of the day (Clive) we’re moaning about not beating Arsenal. Despite a moribund first half we were alive and in it until the final minute.

That’s no bad yardstick of progress in my eyes. We’ve got two more league games to come in less than a week. Thankfully, both at home. Get six points against Reading and Birmingham then we’ll be looking at last night less as an opportunity missed, less as us ‘not enjoying a big game’ as was earlier noted and more a stepping stone en route to bigger and better things.

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The moment- 2-1 and game on!!!

Nick Bruzon

Here we go. Again. Cup shocks abound and potato skins await.

26 Sep

Could the big one be on? After a Tuesday night run of Carabao Cup shocks that saw Frank Lampard’s Derby County™ beat Manchester United, Burton overcome Burnley and QPR go down at Blackpool (please, stop sniggering) Wednesday night could see the biggest of them all. Is it just possible, if all the stars are aligned and the footballing gods are smiling, that Arsenal could beat Brentford? Stranger things have happened.

One thing’s for sure, if Manchester United came unstuck at home last night then it can happen to anyone. Fair play and hats off to Derby. Their own win over Brentford on Saturday being put all the more into context after a game which saw them go behind, come back and then concede the ultimate sucker punch – a 95thminute equaliser for the hosts after themselves going ahead on 85 – to take the game to a penalty shootout in which they eventually triumphed.

They’re the headlines. Nobody wants to get overly bogged down in pages of Mourinho misery or the family Lampard celebrating. That’s for those two teams to both enjoy. Right now the focus is, of course, on Brentford at Arsenal. Assuming Brentford can get to Arsenal with the Piccadilly line out of commission due to strike action – there goes that easy hop from West to North London.

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Have vodka bottle, will travel. Alternate travel to Highbury & Islington needed tonight

Still, the ghost of Bob Crow shouldn’t get in the way of what promises to be a special night. For Arsenal, a high pressure potato skin against Dean Smith’s hotly tipped Brentford side. Currently three points off the top of the Championship table and playing some quite wonderful football. Manager Unai Emery faced with the quandary of picking the reserves or risking the fitness of his more established names. Don’t forget that they’ve a game against top four Watford and then the excitement of a Europa League trip to FK Qarabag to follow this one.  

For Brentford, nothing to lose and everything to gain. With over 8,000 away tickets sold (and who knows how many more dotted around the stadium) it promises to be a vocal affair. Those stunning brown/orange shirts out in full force and not to mention a few faces from the past in the stands. The team, surely surely captained by Nico Yennaris, with a chance to prove how far they’ve really progressed. To see how worthy of all the praise that has been coming their way they actually are. Saturday’s result wasn’t great, that’s for sure, but if anything it’ll give Dean and his team even more incentive to prove what a blip it was with a chance to get back to winning ways in a consequence free environment.

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The Bees have been head and shoulders above most opponents this season

Excited? Yes. As much as anything it’s a chance for bonus midweek football and a visit to a new stadium. At least, with the Bees. A chance to see if we can carve out a famous victory. Blah, blah. Cliché, cliché. Yet perhaps as much as anything else, an opportunity to erase the painful memory of the anti-football we played at Chelsea in the fourth round of the 2016/17 FA Cup. A 4-0 defeat where we were lucky to get the proverbial nil.

There’s not much more to say, really. We all know the scoop and there’s only so many ways you can dress it up. Yet if tonight didn’t have you salivating already, there’s even more great news to follow. Football’s greatest competition (with all due respect to the Carabao Cup) is back. Saturday’s game at Reading sees the return of none other than….Centre Circle Challenge.

I should be fully focussed on Arsenal. Yet the prospect of seeing two supporters pinging balls from the corner flag to the heart of the meridian line, all soundtracked by Peter Gilham’s deadpan commentary, has me as excited as the trip to The Emirates. Almost. Brentford official has all the details including, most importantly, how you can enter this ultimate of fan participation events on the hallowed turf of Griffin Park.

All that’s to come. For now though, focus on whether we can emulate those famous League Cup nights against the likes of Hull City and Everton. Right down to the mascots…. 

Nick Bruzon