Tag Archives: award

Monthly winners announced. Crack out the Picard graphic (and the praise).

8 Jan

Well, well, well. Brentford fans have woken up to discover that Thomas Frank has been named Championship manager of the month for December. Congratulations all round on a quite magnificent run. A nine game unbeaten streak in the month that saw us knock Newcastle United out of the league cup and climb to the automatic promotion slots. Whilst that cup dream may have ended at Spurs on Tuesday the league is very much alive. Our game at Bristol City now been rearranged for next week (Wednesday) whilst we’ve also got a visit from Middlesbrough tomorrow in the FA Cup.

For Thomas, a huge vindication of what he and the squad have accomplished to date. A slow, steady climb up the league despite a whole host of dissenting voices from the more bizarre element of our fan base. The frustration at not winning every game by a country mile or his refusal to pick the same 11 players twice a week accompanied by ‘that hashtag’. Hmm. Its all gone quiet over there, as the song goes.

Instead, the tactics justified and achievements (to date) recognised outside TW8. As Thomas noted, this is a very much about the ‘we’. “This award is one for the team. No Manager or Head Coach will win an award like this without a great team of staff and players going in the same direction”. He went on to recognise the intense efforts of those players, without careful management of whom and clever selection we couldn’t have got this far, “Across the whole of Europe, no team has played more games than Brentford this season. It takes a big effort from everyone to continue to perform to such a high level and everyone should be really proud.

You can read that piece in full, here, on the EFL website.

There was to be no double, sadly. Sergi Canos was nominated as player of the month but lost out to Middlesbrough striker Duncan Watmore. However, even to be in the shortlist is a quite remarkable achievement for player who, its bonkers to think, is still only 23. He seems to have been around forever and is only getting better and better with age. The hate mob gunning for him at the start of the season presumably now back under the rock they emerged from. As we’ve been saying all campaign ; criticism is absolutely fine. Its a natural and vital part of football but the sheer vitriol and hate directed at certain individuals, from people purporting to be supporters of the team, nothing short of embarrassing.

Fortunately, teams aren’t picked by social media. Likewise, the majority recognised the re-emergence of this most exciting player after that awful injury and refused to join the lemming like pile on. Thankfully Thomas Frank had faith in his man and has been duly rewarded. The goal against Blackburn was just magnificent. The hat-trick at Cardiff City something very, very special. That’s before you even factor in the determination, the approach play, the passion. We’ve always loved Sergi in our house and long may that continue.

Congratulations Thomas. Congratulations Sergi. Long may it continue! 

Sergi got 3 out of 3 at Cardiff

This does throw Saturday’s game with Middlesbrough in to question. Nothing to do with Corona Virus but more as to whether the curse of ‘Manager of the month’ transfers to the FA Cup? My gut says this is a league thing but with the two clubs that won the December awards coming head to head tomorrow, could this all implode? We all know the adage about that jinx –  whomever wins the monthly award loses the next game. Seeing this one play out could put a ground breaking twist on everything we know about football folklore.

Otherwise, our next game is the league clash with Bristol City which has been rearranged from Saturday just gone to this Wednesday. In a shock turn of events none of the City players who had gone down with 11th hour Corona symptoms, that they were unable to be tested for, have since been reported as having had a positive test. Who’d have thought it? I guess one should be relieved for the Robins. Imagine having to add Corona Virus to what was already a lengthy injury list at the time they pulled the game. Hmmmmmm.

I’ve heard more convincing explanations at school

The EFL are due to conduct an investigation into the circumstances but that’s not going to change what didn’t happen. Instead we had a weekend off, a sour taste in the mouth and the chance for our first team to be recharged for the Spurs match. Hurrah for VAR. Said nobody ever.

There’s only one thing to do now and that’s get heads down and focus. Nobody can change what has played out in January. Feeling we’ve been treated unjustly by the late postponement or the video treatment of Ivan Toney’s fingers at Spurs is only good, if it inspires us. Wallowing in self-pity of no benefit but I can’t imagine Thomas allowing any of that. We’ve had a quite incredible December that has seen us rewarded on and off the pitch. That’s now done and it is time, as ever, to look forward. Following Bristol City, we’ve the tames with Reading and Luton. Another crowded run of fixtures against teams with the same aspirations as the Bees for promotion.

A very fishy, dodgy story

Before that though, Middlesbrough. I can’t wait to see the team in action. Whichever element of the squad Thomas picks it from.

Nick Bruzon

We are now in virgin territory. Have all jinxes been reset?

11 Jul

Nooooooo. With Brentford sitting pretty in the Championship, disaster has struck. I don’t give a monkey about Leeds United beating Stoke City 5-0 on Thursday night. Well done. Seriously. You’re going to make it up now and won’t throw it from here. West Bromwich Albion are the team to go for. Nor do I particularly care that Fulham won last night, taking them third on the basis of having played their game earlier than the rest. If we are to have any realistic hope of that automatic place then we need to win today. Something that will also see us climb back above the Cottagers. Those are the facts of the situation yet none are anything compared to the curveball delivered on Friday  morning. Ahead of our trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County, Thomas Frank has only been declared the winner of June’s ‘Manager Of The Month’ award. 

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Congratulations, Thomas

Nooooooo. We all know what this means. The ‘jinx’ of Manager of the Month is now in play. A piece of footballing folklore even older than ‘the curse of Clem’ is now lurking in the wings. That one, seeing a visit from everyone’s favourite roving reporter for a Football League Show / Football Focus feature normally followed by a defeat or draw. Something statistically demonstrated on these pages during our Clemwatch feature over season 2014-15 and which, equally, does no harm to remind ourselves of. If only for what came next.

Starting with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye. In 30 features, the Clem ‘team’ only won 7(seven) times.

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Behind bars but no escape from ‘the curse’

Yet that worm has then turned and how. No sooner had The Football League show run it’s course than things changed for the better. A complete 180 was performed and these days a visit from Clem comes with victory as good as assured. He has gone from albatross to some form of footballing St.Bernard. A rescue dog – bringing three points rather than a barrel of brandy slung around his neck. Something that has been proven time and again in recent campaigns. Most notably just a week ago after we thumped Wigan Athletic 3-0.

And if Clem proves that things can change, then how about Manager of the Month? My word, if anyone has the confidence and the talent to do this then it is Thomas Frank. The togetherness he has inspired was demonstrated in the award photo which , rather than the typical pose of manager holding trophy, was a shot of the set up at Jersey Road. Head coach and Club staff as one.  

Then chuck in to the mix the fact that winning the award in June is surely a first? Ordinarily, May sees the final Manager Of The Month prize handed out. The extension of the season has meant that we are now in virgin territory. Have all omens been reset? Could this be a chance for this most feared of prizes to rebrand itself it in the public eye?

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Thomas and Clem prove that positivity can triumph. Things can change for the better

 Whatever else, scooping this one shows just what we have achieved. How solid a unit we have been to date. The performance against Charlton on Tuesday night proved that. The Addicks were unbreakable for huge swathes of the game yet Brentford kept going and going.

Patient. Calm. Never panicking. Thomas galvanising his troops and showing them his whiteboard. Benrahma coming ever closer until finally we were level. Then we were ahead.

The last few minutes of that one were played out with a level of calm which was far too at odds with the pressure of the situation. That’s Thomas Frank, though. He inspires. He exudes confidence. Positivity emanating from every pore. And it is infectious.

Whilst probably not the word of choice at present, it is the most apt I can think of to describe his Thomas Frank effect. We’re going to win today. We’re going to take Brentford back up to third place. And whilst I’d expect West Bromwich Albion to triumph at Blackburn Rovers, if the Ewood Park outfit are to have any hope of reaching the play-offs then their own victory today is essential.

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Thomas does his thing

Thomas may not be a man for permutations. He has made it quite clear he only cares what his team do. The table gets nothing more than a cursory glance. Us fans are anything but. We know what other results can do. We have a permanent eye on them. For crying out loud, I even sat through Leeds United v Stoke during the week. That’s two hours I’ll never get back. There were only two teams in that game – Leeds and United. 

Will they improve enough to stop Brentford? Can Thomas Frank inspire his team to even bigger and better things. Will Phillip Cocu have delivered the mother of all team talks to fire his boys up? If nothing else, they are only three points off the play-off zone and so have more than enough incentive, despite recent results.

Oh, I wish I could be at this one. Instead, its a TV game for us. For everyone. Although a game made all the more challenging in our house by the fact that we have longstanding plans with friends and so can’t even watch it live. The bringing forward of the game to lunchtime a final straw in the coffin of being able to watch it. Instead, it’ll be a case of ‘phones off’, hitting ‘record’ and thing going into ‘Likely Lads’ mode. Then hoping we don’t stumble across it somehow.     

Hmmmm.

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Togetherness – my abiding image of the season to date

Nick Bruzon

Keep your hands and noses clean – look who’s in charge….

7 Mar

The promotion push continues. With just ten games to go in the Championship campaign, fifth placed Brentford are all set to host Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park this afternoon. Whilst the eleven point gap to ‘automatic’ may be starting to look significant, we’ve already reeled in Leeds United once this season. Any hope of doing the same needs to begin today although primary focus needs to be on strengthening our current top six placing. To that end, we were given a small boost last night as Nottingham Forest were obliterated at home by Millwall. Still, the good news is that our man in the middle is Keith Stroud.

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Keith Stroud – NO card.

The big on-pitch question today is whether Pontus Jansson may be ready to make a long-overdue return. We spoke last time out about his importance and his presence but the BBC match preview really highlights this from a statistical perspective. Brentford have won just twice since his last appearance, that against QPR in early January. Indeed, we’ve only tasted victory in two of the eleven games he’s missed all season compared to fourteen out of twenty-five when he has appeared.

One does need to counter this with the fact that this recent ‘run’ has only seen us defeated twice in the league – Nottingham Forest and Luton (a). It has been a period of eminently loseable fixtures such as Cardiff City and Birmingham away ; Leeds United and Middlesbrough at home. Yet we’ve still survived those unscathed and it could be argued the had we hung on to the 1-0 lead against the Elland Road outfit, Brentford may well be looking down on more than just the 19 teams currently below us.

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View from the Braemar – I’d love to see Pontus back

That’s football. No point dwelling on ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, time to focus on Sheffield Wednesday. Of course I’d love Pontus in the team but we should still have enough in the starting XI to give anybody a run. Leading the charge will be Ollie Watkins who was, of course, named EFL Player of the Year at the London Football awards this week. Alongside him fellow nominees Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo. With Thomas Frank beating the likes Roy Hodgson and Frank Lampard for the managerial honour, one has to think that morale will be high in the camp.

For the visitors, they are currently the quintessential example of a mid-table side. On paper. Sitting 12th, Wednesday are 10 points off relegation and 8 off the play-offs. A late charge for the play-offs would seem even more optimistic than our own efforts to hit the top two slots. Aside from their own recent form, which has only seen 1 victory and 4 defeats in the last 8 league games, the sheer weight of numbers above them makes that more improbable. Millwall being the latest teams to knock on the door following their own 3-0 heroics at Nottingham Forest last night. Added to this are injuries suffered by The Owls in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester City midweek. Kieran Lee is  almost certainly out whilst defender Julian Borner went off at half-time. It’s just a shame that stamina levels weren’t tested further by a period of extra time and penalties. 

That’s not to say that today is going to be easier than recent challenges. It’s anything but. Yet at the same time I’ve got the feeling in my heart that we will win this. Whether Pontus plays or not. But for the referee we could have come away from Cardiff City with a lot more last weekend as Brentford kept going until the very end.

So let’s all breath a sigh of relief that Keith Stroud is in charge today. Could today see his traditional flourish of a red card? Will there be random decision making? Or might we have the more level-headed Keith of recent outings? Whatever happens, he can’t do a more frustrating job than Simon Hooper. 

Do get there early for his always entertaining warm up routine, too. Very much a modern day Burridge (John, of Crystal Palace goalkeeping fame, rather than Mark, of commentary and greyhounds).

Keith Stroud montage

Keith Stroud – has form

The other point of note about today is the additional health and safety precautions in place given the current concerns around Covid-19. You can read the full statement on the club website although the main impact for supporters will be a cessation of our usual close contact with the players whilst the traditional prematch hand shake will stop for now. The full gamut of measures and what to expect are noted here although I’d also note that we should probably be glad football is even going ahead. In Italy, all sporting fixtures are now being played behind closed doors whilst the top flights clubs have already started to mention they expect similar may follow.

For now, keep those hands clean and let’s see what happens down the line. Until then, heres to Sheffield. Let’s do this.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Drastic action at Bolton but great news at Griffin Park. And six years ago today….

27 Apr

What can you say? One has to feel for the Bolton Wanderers players, compelled to take the drastic action which has resulted in the game with Brentford being cancelled by the EFL on Friday evening. On the flip side, there was wonderful news out of Griffin Park yesterday with the news that we  have been voted the best place for families to watch EFL football in London and the second best in the country as a whole. Whilst, of course, it was six years ago today that Doncaster Rovers came to Griffin Park…..

There’s not much to really add on the Bolton story at present. With the players going on strike after not being paid for March, the decision to play the match was taken out of the club’ hands. Given the proximity to the end of the season, one can’t see this one going ahead now and our final road trip of the campaign will, in all probability, end with the game being declared a nominal 0-3 win to the Bees. Unless, of course, Bob tells the EFL that he’s packed the brown and orange. In which case it’ll be a point each.

That said, the EFL have just come out this morning (10.30) and told the club that they need to fulfil their fixtures. Whether , when and how this is feasible remains to be seen, of course.

Nobody comes out of this smiling. The players and supporters up at Bolton have been through the ringer this season. They are a club with nothing but friends in the wider football community and to see them in this predicament is awful. For Brentford, the players and fans have already travelled. More were due to be heading up today. What the league will do about their travel costs I have no idea, although an educated guess suggest naff all. Who cares about fans or players though ? One things for sure, we haven’t heard the last of this and whilst we’re all hoping for a happy conclusion things are not looking good at the moment.

Bolton Wanderers v Brentford - Sky Bet Football League Championship

Good times at Bolton in days gone by

Back in West London, The Bees were yesterday one of just nine clubs to be given an EFL Gold award for family excellence and matchday engagement. The “Outstanding and extraordinary quality of the family experience provided” was specifically noted as we were ranked second best in the entire EFL.

This is just incredible news yet fully deserved. I can vouch first hand for all the great work that has gone on over the years. As a parent myself (did I mention?) the way Harry has been treated and been able to get involved in his five years has been nothing short of extraordinary. Kit shoots. Mascot. Meet the players. Open Days. To name but a few. The constant approachability of staff and players makes being part of the football club seem like second nature. Oh look, there’s Neal Maupay popping into the local curry house for a post Leeds United meal. As you do. And nobody cares because its just the norm for us.

We’ve got #BeeTheAnnouncer. #BeeTheDJ (where love will still tear us apart). The family enclosure and the Bee Block. Buzzette is quite possibly the most engaging of all the EFL mascots and the kids love her. As do the grown ups. I still pray for the day she meets Kinglsey of Partick Thistle.

Quite frankly, if it wasn’t down to the way that the club treats our families and youngsters I wouldn’t be able to go to football. Harry absolutely LOVES it. He has bought into Brentford in a way I could never have envisaged. Mrs Bruzon has bought a season ticked for 2019/20. This is all down to the wonderful atmosphere, the family friendly vibe and the way that everybody from fans to staff to players to chairman to owner makes us all feel so, so welcome. 

Thank you!!! 

The players have always typified the family spirit at Brentford

The players have always typified the family spirit

And finally, it was six years ago today. On a personal note, the ill fated appearance on Soccer AM prior to the Doncaster Rovers game. The nil points in the penalty shoot out game at the end ( a season’s worst, apparently) should have served as a warning. Following that, was the promotion deciding game. Something. Something. Something. Penalty. 

I forget the exact nature of the events that followed. If only somebody had mentioned it. Ever. Still, it would be fair to say that despite the heartbreak that followed at full time, things have worked out for the best in the long term. Not that we knew or felt that back then. It is amazing how time can heal although I’ll never, ever forget the pain of seeing that ball hit the bar. Of hearing the resounding thud of leatherette on woodwork. Of having to watch the subsequent celebrations from the away end. Of seeing The Griffin deserted at full time.

Interestingly, despite the consequent promotion and fall from grace, Doncaster Rovers look like they may be in with a chance of crossing paths with us once more. With just two games to play, they are currently sitting in the final League One play-off place. I’m still hoping Charlton Athletic scoop those particular honours, for reason as previously noted.  However, should Rovers triumph it will set up an intriguing and long awaited chance of getting one back.

I’m already guessing who next season’s final game at Griffin Park will be against….. 

Natalie lines up on Soccer AM

Not even Natalie scored that day

 Nick Bruzon

Last Tango In Brentford ? Or dancing in the streets of Algiers?

8 Mar

Bring on Middlesbrough. Brentford are back in action on Saturday after what has felt a somewhat disjointed week in terms of footballing action. For the interested observers / half & half scarf wearers amongst us, there was the excitement of Manchester United doing their thing in the Champions League as Real Madrid failed to do theirs. Yet for us Bees last weekend’s thumping of QPR now seems as far off as the chances of Fulham staying in the Premier league. Keep up the good work, Scott. That victory over the Loftus Road mob was another emphatic notch in Thomas Frank’s metaphorical bedpost as he made it 7(seven) wins in a row at Griffin Park. Yet the big questions as we head up to the Riverside were whether that form could be replicated on the road this season, would Saïd Benrahma scoop the Championship’s player of the month award for February and is it going to be a case of ‘Au revoir, Yoann Barbet’ ? 

First up, Middlesbrough. If ever there was to be a test of our credentials then here it is. If ever there was to be a question as to whether the play-offs are a genuine aspiration then here it is. The game marks a run of three in two weeks against sides going for promotion. Boro’ are currently in the zone, as are Tuesday night hosts Sheffield United and then next Saturday’s visitors in West Bromwich Albion. It is about as tough a run as we could have served up yet the price for success needs no spelling out with the gap to the top six currently reeled in to eight points.

We all know our Championship record against Middlesbrough doesn’t make great reading. We all know that Brentford playing away from home this season doesn’t take a genius to predict how we’ll perform – regardless of the kit colour we turn out in. Had we been able to translate home form to away then the top flight would be beckoning. So this one will be about as tough as it comes. Moreso given the home sides’s miserly defence. Thomas Frank used his press conference to note that “I can only praise Tony Pulis (for Boro’s defensive record) because it’s fantastic.

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Thomas celebrates at home. Away would be wonderful !!

Indeed it is. Sadly. Only 24 goals have been conceded in 34 league games. Yet there are positives to be taken, too. Firstly, past form counts for nothing. Brentford may not have beaten Boro’ since our paths have crossed in this division but that was then and this is now. Players change and the squad we have now is not the one it was then. Results from seasons gone by count for nothing more than statistical niceties / horror shows (delete as applicable). Believing they are anything more is akin to suggesting that the colour of our away kit dictates performance. Jinx shirts? Never heard such nonsense. Move along now. Nothing to see here. 

The other topic of conversation that came up in Thomas’s ’ press conference was that of Yoann Barbet. His contract is up at the end of the season and the word on the terrace is that he won’t be staying. Which would be tragic given his relative longevity at Griffin Park, his popularity, his versatility and the role in our new look defence that he has made his own. If ever there was a player who embodied that cliche about cutting them open to discover that they bleed red & white / brown & orange it is Yoann.

So when pushed on the point yesterday the answer was one which suggested the clock is ticking and farewell collections are going around the changing room. Thomas has been quoted as saying :”We know that Yoann is very popular among the fans. He is very popular among the staff too. He has done very well in the back three. He is a player that we would like to keep at the club but there needs to be two to tango”.

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View from the Braemar – Yoann sums up the spirit in the Bees camp

We all know the club model. That players come and go – especially if valuations are met. New talent emerges to replace that which has departed. Contracts may not necessarily be offered or, certainly, at the level asked for. Nobody knows for sure what is happening here but the words from the club suggest the ball is in the player’s court. Whether it is one he wants to pick up remains another thing.

Personally, I’ve heard a lot of terrace talk (conjecture rather than the much lamented matchday video feature) and of course, have no idea what is true. So it doesn’t get published. Do we take the club’s words at face value? Would Yoann want to stay? How hard do we fight? Or is this simply part of the ongoing cycle of players coming in, impressing and eventually moving on. Whatever happens, you can absolutely bet he’ll be giving his all until the end of the season. And hopefully beyond.

The final news heading in to the Boro’ game was that of the monthly EFL awards. There was genuine surprise when Saïd Benrahma wasn’t even nominated for January’s player of the month prize following a quite magnificent start to 2019.

As such, there were belated plaudits when he was named on the shortlist for February’s award earlier this week. Surely this time the honours would be Saïd’s?

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View from the Braemar – Saïd is as popular with the fans as Yoann

Sadly not, as it transpired this morning. The club breaking the news on twitter (below) although there’s still a chance to sweep our man to some deserved glory. The chance to vote for him to scoop ‘goal of the month’ is still available, if you follow the link. Whilst he’s up against some divisional rivals with huge fan bases, as Ajax proved at Real Madrid this week it isn’t always the biggest club that wins. Whatever they may expect. So go on – get voting.

Then onwards and upwards to Middlesbrough.

Nick Bruzon 

QPR visit is time to get the arousal level up (although hopefully not the ref).

2 Mar

Let’s draw a discreet veil about what happened midweek. Brentford went down 2-0 at Sheffield Wednesday after what has been reported all round as somewhat of a horror show of a performance. Our neighbours, on the other hand, arrested a run of form that had seen them lose 7(seven) league games on the bounce after getting one over Leeds United at Loftus Road. Well done there. That recent set of results has now been tweaked to read: LLLLLLLW . 

And we can now chuck all of that out of the window. It’s derby day. West London, as opposed to Frank Lampard’s County (TM) . Queens Park Rangers visit Griffin Park in a game that is a must win. Not so much for the chance to put further clean air between us and the not so super hoops as the opportunity to continue a fine home record against our neighbours from the other end of the the 237 bus route.

Last season saw us triumph 2-1 thanks to Sergi and Flo Jo. The year before it was 3-1 as Jota ran riot. 2015/16 saw us take the honours 1-0 in front of the Sky cameras courtesy of Marco Djuricin. The big question now being if Brentford can make to four on the bounce whilst, at the same time, wiping the memory of the return encounter earlier in the season where that ten minute blip just after half-time meant a less than happy afternoon spent in the environs of White City.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

Results at home to QPR have been stunning in recent seasons

The short answer to that one is ‘Yes.’ Being blunt. Even allowing for the reversal of league fortune suffered by both teams during the week, I’m still going into this one buoyant. Leeds United were clearly suffering from an ‘off day’, as was evidenced last night when West Brom took an absolute hammering. 4-0 that one finished and I’ve no doubt Thomas Frank will have Brentford producing a similar reaction.

Our home form has been blistering in recent weeks. The performance against Aston Villa was magnificent whilst to put five goals past both Hull City and blackburn Rovers has made it a quite incredible February.  The form of Saïd Benrahma has been electrifying whilst Neal Maupay was named as EFL player of the year the other night at the London football awards.

Besides, if you can’t get yourself up for this match then what’s the point?  There’s a great quote from Thomas on the BBC website in their match preview, where he notes that: “We know it is a massive game for the fans and the club. Griffin Park will be bang on it…..it is one of these games where I feel the same tension as the Brondby-Copenhagen derbies in Denmark, where you don’t have to say much to the players as the arousal level is up there.”

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Wonderful news for Neal, midweek

The arousal level is certainly up there at home. I love this game. I sit next to a Rangers’ fan at work whilst HB has been telling everyone from his school friends to Chairman Cliff Crown (after a chance encounter yesterday)  about the forthcoming visit from Quarter Pound of Rubbish. No idea where he picked up that from – the things they must say at football club or in the schoolyard. 

It promises to be a fierce encounter. One to set the pulse racing and the blood pumping. One where fans from both sides will be doing all they can to push their team on and remind the officials about the rules of the game (I’m looking at you, Braemar Road linesman). One where tempers could threaten to boil over in the heat of the moment and the passion of the occasion . So the great news is that the EFL have named Keith Stroud as our man in the middle….

We all know Keith of old. The battle of Bramall Lane can never be forgotten. The soul destroying flourish of a red card with all the authority of a picked upon school kid granted immunity from the bully by virtue of his prefect badge. The infamous penalty incident  at Newcastle United where he disallowed a goal for the Magpies and awarded an indirect free kick to Burton rather than allow it to be retaken after encroachment.

That one seemed to be the death knell of his career but he’s been back this season – officiating 20 games where, stat check, Keith has only shown two red cards and averaged 3.5 yellows. Somewhat restrained compared to his former reputation. Could we see a mellower version in action this afternoon? Or will he be performing his one man Clintons’ tribute show?

Roll on 3pm when we find out. See you there.

Keith Stroud montage

Which Keith will we get today?

Nick Bruzon

Who wants it most? There’s all to play for in West London today.

29 Apr

What a few days. There have been awards, goal of the season and of course a game or two coming up with Saturday seeing a huge day for West London football. Brentford travel to Fulham, hot on the heels of last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. It was an encounter which saw Jota’s latest stunner wrap up the points in a game where, at times, we played some quite sumptuous football yet at others Dan Bentley and the linesman kept us in it. However, the net result was anther three points for the Bees and QPR still flirting with relegation. As for Fulham…..

Well, what can you say? They are in with a very real chance of making the play offs, as it stands, and have even finished above Brentford for the first time in three seasons. The table doesn’t lie and they’ve slowly reeled in Leeds United et al to finally break into the top 6. A derby day win for them will all but mathematically see that play off spot guaranteed, with the gap to 7th (seventh) currently 3 points and +13 goal difference.

But Brentford have their own motivation. Fulham’s win at Griffin Park earlier this season was as decisive as a 2-0 scoreline could be. Much as it pains me to admit, they were one of the better teams to come to this part of West London and we were very much left in second place that night.

Equally painful, it saw their first win over us since both teams returned to the Championship – albeit from different directions. Prior to that one, 2014/15 had seen Jota do his thing in the last minute at Griffin Park and that screamer from Stuart Dallas very much the pick of the bunch in a 4-1 rout at The Cottage. Last time out, only an errant linesman denied us all three points away from home with Jota ruled offside as he headed it in for 3-2. The return fixture saw the season come to an end in some style – Tom Field making his debut and Sam Saunders getting us of to a flier as we were three goals clear by half time to comfortably wrap up the points.

View from the stand - Stuart Dallas celebrates doing that thing.....

View from the terrace – Stuart Dallas after doing that thing at The Cottage…

The Bees were crowned Kings of West London. Again. Then this season happened. With David Button between the sticks, Fulham have had the honours.  A return to winning ways will be very much the requirement. The possibility of a nil points against these neighbours, moreso given such strong previous form, is just not on the agenda.

Then there’s the current table. The Bees are just two points and one place off last season’s points total with the potential to finish a place higher than our previous 9th. What a wonderful incentive to go for it. And that’s without pooping a party.

For the last month or so it has become apparent that Fulham are heading upwards. Crashing this one and doing Leeds United a favour, no matter how distasteful that might seem, is a very real possibility and has long been something many fans have been aware of. Now the game is here and that chance is available for both teams. Who will take it? At 3pm we find out….

As for QPR, they host fellow bottom six side Nottingham Forest still needing two points to guarantee safety (third bottom Blackburn, needing two wins themselves, have too close a goal difference for a draw to be sufficient). With Rangers in freefall, current form of LLLLLL leaves them with nobody to blame but themselves for their predicament.

Much as the situation is a novel one, they won’t go down. Birmingham City are just horrific whilst Blackburn still need six points from a season that concludes with a trip to Griffin Park That said, wins today for Mark Warburton, Birmingham and Blackburn could make the final round of games very interesting indeed.

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Can Fulham make the play offs, Brentford beat last season or QPR stay up?

All that of course is to unfold later today. However, there’s been plenty to keep us intrigued over the last few days. Alongside the Player Of The Year vote, supporters are now able to nominate their winner for goal of the season.

Oh, wow. If picking POTY was tough then this is another level of hard. I struggled to draw up a shortlist, let alone select a winner. They are, all ten, corkers. The build up play and finish for Josh Clarke v Reading, Nico’s piledriver in the Birmingham City game, Lasse Vibe finishing off the most incredible run from Sergi Canos at Forest or Jota’s recent pair against Derby County and QPR.

In the end, it’s just been an excuse to watch the video again. And again. The level of Burridgegasm also being an added help. The more excitable our commentator par-excellence gets, the better the goal seems to be has become a handy yardstick when trying to rank these in some sort of order.

In the end, I’ve voted. It had to be Jota. It had to be QPR. Derby County was that close and I’ve swung back and forth between the two of them yet, in the end, the way he collected Nico’s wonderful pass was the deciding factor.

That’s my opinion. Yours will quite likely, and quite rightly, be different. All we can say for sure is that whoever gets it will be a worthy recipient. You can see the video below and vote here.

Which is top of the pile?

Next up, awards. It was a double celebration for the club yesterday as the EFL have awarded us both their Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season aswell as the Friendliest Club Staff Award. Particular recognition has been given to both the ticket office staff and the stewards in the family enclosure.

One can’t begin to stress how deserved these awards are. Part of the pleasure in supporting Brentford FC comes from our wonderful family atmosphere. The club, players and staff cannot do enough for supporters – of all ages. The ‘meet the players’ pre-season event and Junior Bees Christmas party are staples on our calendar whilst who doesn’t get excited, young or old, when receiving a high five or fist bump from Buzz and Buzzette?

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Buzzette always makes time for fans – of all ages

The players and staff never fail to stop for an autograph or photo  – whether in the ground or in the street – an attitude that courses through all echelons of club. We’ve had supporters heavily involved in the kit launch this season whilst the care and attention shown to the match day mascots is just staggering.

What could have been quite an intimidating experience for a three year old – walking out in front of over 10,000 supporters – turned into one of the best days of his life. Big thanks there, again, to Harlee Dean and apologies once more for the lollipop covered hands you had to hold walking out (that’s HB, not me).

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The smile says its all (apologies again for the sticky fingers)

Then you’ve got kitman Bob Oteng. His own BBgiveaway is the stuff of legend but even outside of this he is a cult figure among Bees fans. His reaction to those who regularly sing his name at away games as he goes where he wants on the visitor’s pitch is always wonderful. Even the likes of Chief Executive Mark Devlin, Chairman Cliff Crown or Mr Benham himself consistently take time to respond to and interact with fans on social media.

As for the ticket office staff ! Special mention and rightly so. We’ve all had some form of interaction with them. We all know just how incredible the level of service they offer is . We all know how consistently friendly and helpful they are. Doing what could be deemed a somewhat stressful job – given how demand often outstrips supply – isn’t something I’d be able to cope with.

I could go on. But instead, why not read the official take on the awards which you can find on Brentford ‘official’?

And finally, Billy Reeves & Grown Men In Tears have closed the door on the Welcome Home, King Jota charity single. The video has come down from YouTube and the song is no longer available for download.

The net result has been a donation of £350 for Prostate Cancer Research. As Billy noted himself on Twitter yesterday, “not bad 4 an arvo’s fun

Not bad indeed, Billy.

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Billy shares the news, and the love, yesterday

Nick Bruzon

Palace and Arsenal write a chapter for our next season as Bees beat QPR. Again.

11 Apr

With Brentford safe in the Championship for another season and the playoffs a leap too far, thoughts turn to who we’ll be facing in 2017/18. Last night’s Crystal Palace – Arsenal game has given more than a few clues as to how that’s going to pan out. Elsewhere, there was sad news for QPR who have had to make a somewhat embarrassing retraction (stop sniggering) whilst local news site Get West London appear to have finally jumped the shark.

First up Crystal Palace. For a time it looked as they were being slowly sucked towards the Premier League relegation battle. A 0-4 thumping by Sunderland, swiftly followed by a reverse at the hands of Stoke City, had eyes lighting up in West London as the Eagles slid down, down (deeper and down). Could we have another local fixture, with the Bees going to the Palace next season? Would there be a kit obsessive programme feature including that most iconic of shirts, the red and blue sash sported by Brentford legend Neil Smillie?

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Then Big Sam and his troops got their act together, won four in a row and despite hitting a bump at Southampton, had the pleasure of playing Arsenal last night. And what a pleasure it was for the neutral. A 3-0 win for Palace makes their own safety a lot more likely and, with it, a straight shoot out between Hull City and Swansea City for the privilege of joining all but mathematically doomed Middlesbrough and Sunderland at Griffin Park next season.

It’s a shame from one respect. I was quite looking forward to the prospect of a hop across London to Selhurst Park next season. It would have been a new ground to see Brentford play at but instead we can do nothing but offer Palace congratulations on a job well done in recent weeks.

The other factor is the listening to those self-entitled numpties at Arsenal TV and Piers Morgan, somehow thinking that because they had that run back in 2003/04 when they were dubbed the undateables or whatever it was, they are entitled to be any good over a decade later. Yawn. Seriously yawn.

Anyone thinking Brentford fans moan or give our managers stick needs to look to North London. There, they take expectation to a new level with ‘Wenger’ receiving 128K worth of tweets on the UK trend list as at the time of writing (6.30am).

The biggest irony being the silence in the Emirates when they are playing. If they made half as much noise mid-game as they do once the team has lost then perhaps Arsenal might be an intimidating place to come rather than the glorified library it is so derided as being.  For the neutral, it remains wonderful, if slightly nauseous, unintentional comedy. No supporters in the land are as full of their club’s own self-importance relative to its actual ability (I know , I know – they won the FA Cup). Long may it continue.

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Twitter: Come for Monkman; stay for Wenger

On the subject of unintentional comedy, we only need to look a few miles up the road to West London rivals QPR. Already 6 points behind the Bees in the League table, now they’ve lost out to us in the player of the year awards stakes.

Whilst Brentford’s own event all but sold out within days, the not so super hoops have been forced into an awkward climbdown within a week of tickets being made available for their £119 a head do. In a brief article on the clubwebsite entitled ‘POTY EVENT CANCELLED the club has been forced to admit that, “a lack of sales has resulted in the event being cancelled”.

Here’s to Saturday week when we can really hope to compound a miserable season for our near neighbours. Fifty years on; never forget.

And finally, Get West London. Whilst it would often be easier just to follow the player feed on Twitter than read their stories, yesterday saw things reach a new low. The aforementioned journalistic jumping of the shark, if you will.

Brentford fan wears Bees shirt with BREXIT 16 on the back .

Thus proclaimed the headline on one of yesterday’s post Cardiff pieces. It went on to add – The shirt about the decision to leave the European Union sparked debate on social networking site Twitter.

Sorry, this is news how? This is a story because? Stop the press  – Football fan has political opinion. This is Donald Trump levels of news. Or lack of.  It was something that ‘sparked debate’, apparently. Or, in actual fact, led to a few references to it on Twitter.

What next. Man wears jaunty Castle Badge jumper to winter game? Transfer exclusive: Jugde to sign for Brentford?

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Coming next, on Get West London

Now I’m the first to admit writing drivel from time to time. Then again, I’m neither a journalist nor paid for the privilege. Just a self-confessed numpty on the terrace with an occasional blog column.

Come on Get West London, you can do better than this. Supporters deserve better than this. With five games and two local derbies to come, things aren’t at Arsenal levels of quiet. Just yet.

April fixtures

We’ve got all this to come still

Nick Bruzon

As Birmingham City await, the Bees help give homophobia the boot

25 Nov

Saturday afternoon sees Brentford host Birmingham City in front of what is sure to be a big crowd at Griffin Park. Will the Bees get back to winning ways? Can the Blues continue a run of form which has seen them climb to fifth in the Championship table? Will this one peter out to a draw as two normally tight defences come head to head?

Whatever the result, there is as much significance in matters surrounding the game as there is when Mr Madley (Andy, not Robert of Leyton Orient infamy) puts the whistle to his lips and blows to start proceedings at 3pm. It is Rainbow Laces weekend. A weekend where Brentford  have joined forces with Stonewall to demonstrate that homophobia is unacceptable whilst making it clear that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are welcome at every level of sport. And with apologies to the club for shamelessly lifting from their own article (which, if you’d like to read more, you can do so in full here in full here) thousands of people across Britain, from fans to players, will lace up this weekend as part of a UK-wide campaign to make sport everyone’s game.

It is an event that I gather the club have been planning since September, Captain Harlee Dean has already been pictured in the promotional photographs whilst the matchday programme features a quite wonderful piece of cover art. Hats off to the club for looking to innovate here. We’ve already had a fan designed front page feature on the award winning edition produced for the Barnsley game but this takes things to another level. Classy art and a campaign that, one would hope, all supporters can give their backing to. Great job to all in the media dept and the team behind the programme.

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This is a subject we’ve looked at before, during ‘Football v Homophobia’ (FvH) month a couple of years ago. It is one that is close to my heart and primarily because prejudice and bigotry are a neanderthal attiude that would, frankly, be an insult to neanderthals. But, equally, for no other reason than for some years now the ever-evolving group of friends I watch The Bees with has included a couple whom, for months, I had no clue were in a same sex relationship. And why would it even matter? For me, it’s all about supporting my team with my friends.

What difference does it make to you? What difference would it actually make if the likes of Sam Saunders, Harlee Dean or anybody at our club were to tell you they were lesbian, gay, bi or trans?  To be quite honest one or all of them might be. I just don’t know. And, frankly, I don’t care. Without wanting to get preachy, an individual’s sexual preference is a relevant to me as what they order off the menu at Nandos (the staple hang out of footballers after training, if social media is to be believed) . I neither know or, more importantly, care.

That isn’t meant to trivialise the issues faced by the LBGT community. Quite the opposite. I just genuinely don’t understand why other people get so hung up about it.

I’ve been coming to Brentford since the late 1970s and, thankfully, unless I am being horrendously naïve, homophobia isn’t an issue that usually rears its head on the terraces. My own son has been joining me at games for three seasons now and I love the fact that we have such an inclusive atmosphere at Griffin Park. If there wasn’t one, we wouldn’t be here.

That said, I’ve personally been witness to the odd incident this season whilst most people with eyes on the game or social media accounts will be aware that this is still a larger issue in football. Just look at the press surrounding the unsavoury build up to this year’s League Cup tie between West Ham and Chelsea.

However, the difference now is that whilst this may have been ‘the norm’ back in the 70s and 80s, people are realising that in the 21st Century it is just unacceptable behaviour. And, quite rightly, they are  pushing back on it. Whether in as simple a form as asking fellow fans to hold back on the language or in a more sweeping statement such as the one made by the club in dedicating their programme cover to raising awareness. It is a wonderful gesture and, certainly, one publication I’ll be looking to pick up in or around the ground this weekend.

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Harlee Dean shows his support

Nick Bruzon

As Scott celebrates, what about the rest of us?

7 Oct

For an International break (Estonia v Gibraltar being tonight’s big one) things have remained pretty busy on the domestic front. Brentford and Norwich City fans were dealt a potential blow yesterday with the news that we’ve been given the short straw in regards to televised games. On the flip side, details of a cracking competition to help celebrate our 4000th league game, at home to Barnsley, have emerged on the club website. All this, of course, whilst we waited to see if Scott Hogan would be named as Championship player of the month on Friday morning.

First up, the Norwich City game on New Year’s Eve. I guess the only positive for supporters about this being moved to 5.30pm kick off to accommodate Sky TV is that it is at home. Let me rephrase that, the only positive for Brentford supporters.

On what is, traditionally, the party night of the year to not even be leaving a football stadium until 7.30pm (allowing for injury time) is going to put a huge spanner in the works for many. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the logistical nightmare this now becomes. Especially for the visitors who will be lucky to get back to East Anglia before Jools Holland has begun his annual smug piano show. Or should that be unlucky if they get back to East Anglia before….?

Norwich third kit

How much of this will we see?

For those of us fortunate to live near Griffin Park the impact is minimised although I have no idea how many of us that is these days. Likewise, there’ll still be the steely glare of ‘the other half’ willing us back home rather than stopping for the traditional post match chat in a local hostelry. And by willing I mean demanding.

The opposite view being, and let’s not pretend otherwise, that for many New Year’s Eve is the most over rated night of the year. See also: Valentine’s Day. A time when society dictates we should be compelled to enjoy ourselves and pay for the privilege of going to our local pub to then stand shoulder to shoulder at a heaving bar. Call me some sort of curmudgeon (and I just hope Mrs Bruzon isn’t reading) but frankly I’d rather enjoy a bag of revels (the orange and coffee creams aside) than being obliged to partake in the faux-revelry.

But that’s my decision and one which I’d like to make by choice rather than have the TV schedule dictate.

Will it impact attendance? Surely. Did we get any choice in the decision? One would hope we didn’t willingly inflict this upon ourselves and the blame can be laid purely at the feet of the televisual paymasters. Will I still go? Of course, although how easy a choice this would be without living in close proximity to Griffin Park remains up for question.

No doubt we’ll be told it is symptomatic of the Bees now being a successful team. I get that part. Whilst many still sneer at us, finishes of 5th and 9th combined with a best ever start have seen Brentford adapting to Championship life much better than just about every pundit has predicted. Sky want a big game for a time when people are off work and we, in conjunction with a storming Norwich City side, fit that bill.

Like it or not, the die is cast. Games are always moved around for TV and, being honest, we’ve largely got away without too much upheaval over the years. With TV pumping so much money into the game it is going to happen. I may not like it but we all knew this is how things would be when we got promoted. Instead, let’s just get rearranging those parties or be glad of the excuse to miss them.

As for the Barnsley game, what a great idea from the club. Juniors supporters have been given the opportunity to design the front cover for the match day programme. A once in a lifetime opportunity to help celebrate our 4,000th league game, full details are currently available on ‘official’.

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The only downside to this being that grown ups aren’t allowed the chance to enter this one. Indeed, I’d already begun sketching out plans for my own effort before properly reading the details and realising I was too old by about 30 years.

Brief thoughts of entering on behalf of my three year old son did cross my mind. Cue ‘Only Fools and Horses’ style antics should victory have been somehow achieved (the state of my painting and photoshop skills mean this would presumably have been through nobody else participating).

But the thought of joining the Groovy Gang (kids, ask your parents but do check it out) is step too far, even for this obsessive. Instead, let’s just doff our caps to the club for a cracking initiative.

And on the subject of doffing hats, congratulations to Scott Hogan who has this morning been declared as the Championship player of the month for September. There’s not much more I can add to this beyond huge congratulations on an award fully deserved.

We all know how well Scott has performed since recovering from ‘that injury’ but September really saw him crank things up a notch. And then some. What an honour and well, well done.

Great work, Scott.

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The news broke at 6a.m. on Friday morning