Tag Archives: Baggies

A good news/bad news kind of start to the day.

23 Sep

Another win for Brentford. Another game unbeaten. Through to the fourth round of the league cup at the expense of a West Bromwich Albion side who may have seen this one as a chance to restore some morale. Instead, the game ended two apiece – three of the goals coming from spot kicks and Marcondes with a sublime overhead kick – before we went through 5-4 in the penalty shootout. The reward for this being a visit from either Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday in next week’s fourth round. That, and the knowledge we’ve already defeated more Premier League sides than all three of those that made the jump up from the Championship last season. Leeds United the only one of those to taste any success (and that in the game of haemorrhaging defences against the hapless Cottagers). What a shame there was nobody allowed in to see it.

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

The expected changes to both teams were made. For Brentford it saw a return to goal of David Raya and a start for Marcus Forss, amongst others. Rico Henry, Emiliano and the sublime Sergi Canos also getting another runout from the off (let’s hope they can manage to avoid over exertion) after doing the business against Huddersfield on Saturday. With a strong bench that was well utilised the Bees were as strong as one could have expected. Certainly given the constant procession of midweek games clubs have had no choice but to play given the way the previous campaign was extended. It still makes no sense to even be playing the competition this year but, hey-ho, player burnout is a secondary consideration I suppose.

And if we are playing it, how nice to see Brentford doing so to the best of their available ability. West Brom barely got a look in during the opening half. Canos flashing one just wide and Emiliano hitting the post from distance. Fosu impressing throughout. The hosts with the one moment of danger just before half-time with a free kick awarded on the periphery of Saunders territory. It came to nothing.

Yet if the first half had seen everything but a goal, it all changed after the tea. The hosts took the lead form the spot. Dominic Thompson adjudged to have fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. The Baggies man picking himself up to give his side the lead. It was a lead that lasted less than two minutes and one which was cancelled out in fine style. Apparently.

We say ‘apparently’. Yours truly missed out after “Doing a JJ”. The net rippling off the back of Marcondes’ quite wonderful bicycle kick as this numpty had gone for a ‘splash and dash’ . Regular readers may be aware how back in the days we were allowed into grounds, it was a feat that the Giant Scot with the Pea sized bladder used to pull off with abandon from the Ealing Road terrace (missing goals by having to go for a wee, rather than bicycle kicks). Yet after suffering the same fate for our second on Saturday , has the baton been passed? Cripes. I hope not. 

If for no other reason that having fallen behind again to another Robson-Kanu spot-kick (not seen a worse ‘pen’ decision since Pontus elected for his infamous biro) we were then given our own chance to level things up.

‘That’ BIC

Daddy”, said H (I would imagine, if his teacher is reading) “wee. Go again”. One had to be impressed by the wordplay, if not the ignominy of being banished to the bathroom. I guess if you have to go, you have to go. Sure enough, it worked. Nothing to do with Marcus Forss at all. Like the lucky shirt, magic pants and not shaving, is this a new ‘omen’ to top the lot? Urghh.

Anyway, 2-2 it stayed. David Raya pulling off a flying save relatively late on to preserve the scoreline and justify his place back in the team after injury. The Twitter hate mob seemed out for our captain for the night. Makes a change from the quite bizarre Ivan/Sergi angst being seen in certain social-media quarters. Go figure. Nothing like getting on the team’s back based on nothing more than unfounded rumour. Anyway, if you’re one of those me banging on won’t change it. And if you aren’t, then presumably its nothing more than weird. Cripes. Considering some of the dross we’ve had over the years, the current squad is light years ahead.

Something proven from the full time penalties. Goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney getting things off to a fine start for a Brentford team kicking second. The pressure of following the lead always adding an extra layer of pressure but, If it was there, it didn’t show. Josh Dasilva made it 2-2 with his own ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ style run up. Fosu and Forss were there for three and four. Then, David Raya did his thing. Diangana denied and the stage set. Up stepped Christian Nørgaard and there was no mistake made. West Bromwich Albion denied. The Bees through. A visit from another of last season’s Championship rivals next on the agenda.

We find out tonight whether that will be Fulham or The Owls. Brentford looking forward rather than over their shoulders at what might have been. At what happened last campaign. When pushed on whether this win was seen as revenge, Thomas Frank noted : “That’s the past, this is the future”.

With it, comes a chance to set our own personal best in this tournament. We’ve never reached the fifth round before. That game at Birmingham City being as close as it has got in recent years. Now, we’re all set for another crack.

Before that though, there’s a chance to rest tired limbs over the next few days. Saturday sees the trip across London to face Millwall. I’d love to be going – as much for the pre-match pub crawl as the actual game. Again, an action now denied and one with no end in sight. The latest announcements from the government curtailing any experiments with letting spectators back and meaning it looks like March, at the earliest, before we can even consider attending a game. ‘For the greater good’ and all that but let’s not pretend this isn’t soul destroying. That this isn’t devastating for so many, if not all, clubs on the financial front. That football without fans present and watching on I-follow is an ersatz replacement for the real thing.

I don’t really want to end on a downer. The prospect of Preston had been dangled like a carrot. That’s now been snatched away and for the foreseeable too. Waking up and listening to the radio this morning makes for hard news. We want in. We want normal. We just want to go and watch a game of football.  We aren’t allowed. For crying out loud, wash your hands and wear a mask. Like it or not. Believe it or not. Let’s all just do this . Please. I want to watch football. Not listen to Boris giving the impression of a man making it up as he goes along.

The latest rules invoking a virus busting cut-off at 10pm mean anyone wanting to watch the Arsenal – Liverpool game down the pub on Monday night will be kicked out with the game approaching 85 minutes gone. Small consolation, I suppose. And nothing Arsenal won’t have experienced before with fans streaming out early.

Before 22.00, everything is just fine. Be warned, horror awaits straight after.

Instead, let’s end with the thought of another fine performance. Of our MOTM Marcus Forss scoring. Again. With thoughts of Brentford continuing our winning form. Of taking consolation that, had we gone up last season, we’d have missed out on being physically present for that. 

Here’s to Millwall on Saturday. See you on I-follow.

Nick Bruzon 

The wait is over…

22 Sep

And with that, Saman Ghoddos finally became a Brentford player after the 27 year old attacker signed on a year’s loan from Amiens SC, with the option for a further two year permanent deal. The player put pen to paper and, with it, provided much relief. Not so much because it saw a 16 month pursuit come to an end but more because it meant we could finally retire those ‘Waiting For Ghoddos’ quips made by just about the entire internet in the build up to this one. I say quips. The line had been used so often it had become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. He’s gone straight in to training although one would suspect tonight’s trip to West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the league cup might be a leap too far.

The wait is over (sorry, sorry, sorry)

Speaking to ‘official’, Thomas Frank waxed lyrical about Ghoddos. So did Rasmus. Our head coach noting that along with his off the ball play, “He will bring good attacking qualities in the final third. He is good in one-on-one situations, is a good crosser of the ball, and makes very intelligent passes….He also has a personality and style of play that will work well with the group.You can read that piece, along with the thoughts of our top-knotted Co-Director of Football, here.

Imagine, somehow, the deal to take Said Benrahama from Lionel Road fails to transpire. My word, we’d be overflowing with attacking riches. I still can’t see that happening. Stadiums need to be paid for, books balanced and we’ve made no secret of the fact we expect him to leave. Yet, if things did play out differently…..

Like Pontus and Andreas (err), Saman had his moment in the World Cup 2018 sticker book

Still, we’ve not even seen our new man in action yet. The expectation from some fans no doubt huge. Players can take time to adjust. Others hit the ground running. For now, I’m glad we’ve got Bryan and Sergi tearing it up on the drive forward. That Josh Dasilva has picked up where he left off in the middle of the park. Canos in particular looks like he is planning for fun. Freedom of movement and confidence exuding from every pore. Long may that continue.

Whether tonight sees him get another run out or rested will be revealed when the team to play West Bromwich Albion is announced at 6pm. Don’t forget the early kick off if you are looking to follow this one on the ‘player’ option. £10 passes are available via the cup sponsor’s website and can be bought here

A trip to the Hawthorns feels very much like a case of déjà vu. They were one of the many teams we beat in the post Lockdown ‘run-in’ last season as Brentford came oh so close to making that step up. In the end, it was the Baggies that made it. Deservedly so. They got over the line in the final game and rightfully claimed their reward. 

Last time out against West Brom

That said, it has shown how hard the step up is. From going toe to toe with the Bees and Leeds United, they’ve now been on the wrong end of eight goals conceded and nil points as Everton and Leicester City have both feasted at the Slavan Bilić all you can score buffet.

Still, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded, err, Throstle and they’ll no doubt be looking to reset the form this evening. A home tie against a lower division ‘team like’… sure to have their eyes wide open and the players waking up this morning dreaming of the fourth round. The publicity seeking nature of the cup sponsor means we already know the reward for victory – a home tie with Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday. Their current ‘thing’ of doing the next round draw before the current one has even begun something designed as much with the intent of generating publicity, outtrage, knee jerk reaction and social media comment aka free advertising. So I won’t. You know their name. 

That’s their choice. We’ve ben treated to all manner of bizarre draws in the past. It’s their hilarious gimic  – something that has become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Brow…..

Instead, focus should be on going through. On getting the win. Rather than be distracted by the prospect of a local derby or the chance of a rematch with the final team to face Brentford in front of a Griffin Park full house.

The thought of playing the Cottagers something that will only see all the references to last season and the denouement of ‘that’ run in dragged up again. Oh. Joy. It’ll be like Doncaster Rovers all over. Something. Something. Something. Penalty.

Oh well. As Matthew Benham once said, “It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?”. That, in regards tour transfer model but it feels much the same. We bounced back from that in style. I’m fully expecting the same thing to happen this time around. Needless to say, we’ll have the last laugh.

That’s for the future. For now, there’s another game. Could David Raya return? Will any of the new boys feature. Might Marcus Forss start? Could Ivan Toney get the goal he was so close to on Saturday afternoon. Roll on kick off. See you there – in spirit.

Let’s hope tonight is less tedious than…

Nick Bruzon 

Thank you Huddersfield. What happens now after a fantastic Friday?

18 Jul

Oh my word. Feeling ok this morning Brentford fans? Did you sleep? How are the heads? Today could be immense. The door IS now open. The game at Stoke City no longer one about keeping pace with West Bromwich Albion but, all of a sudden, we’ve been handed the chance to overtake them. Their defeat at Huddersfield Town last night offering up the chance for us to join Leeds United in the Premier league. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe the post match celebrations last night. Caution and potential the feeling this morning.

Huddersfield Town were immense. Their 2-1 victory earned in the most high pressure of situations. An early lead only adding to the pressure being felt in TW8 as it looked like 86 minutes of backs to the wall defence would follow. The stress levels already through the roof bwhen the Baggies equalised just before half time. Their goal looked a mile offside but all protests were in vain. The dream of an unlikely loss nice whilst it had lasted but surely there was only one winner from here? The Teriers hung on. Half time came and went. The second period being chipped away in five minute increments. The drive from West Brom relentless. It was only a matter of time before they broke through the last line of defence. 

I’ve never enjoyed a game less. At least, with Brentford, you know the players. You know who is who and what could come from a situation. Relief can be taken from confidence in whomever is on the ball. Watching a team of what, to us, were relative strangers there was no idea whether it had just been passed to a Bryan Mbeumo or a Nick Proschwitz. Was that the Huddersfield Town equivalent of Ollie Watkins looking for the ball or Murray Jones ? It was horrible. Angst unlike any I’ve ever known. The clock moving slower than Neil Shipperly. The goal for the visitors only a matter of time.

Drinks break was reached. The score still level. The inhaler clasped close to my chest. It was awful. Awful. And probably more because we could see Huddersfield getting closer to earning us the unlikely draw that would finally offer Brentford the opportunity to overtake West Bromwich Albion. Football can be cruel at times. Teasing us like this before the inevitable goal that broke our hearts. Then it came. Nature called.

I had to go. 86 minutes gone and the push from the bladder could be contained no longer. The relative safety of my lucky seat had to be abandoned before it became a commode. And on return, the most impossible thing had happened. Huddersfield Town were ahead. Oh. My. Word? How? Who got it? Frankly, who cares? The only thing that mattered was the ball in the back of the net. Amazing.

Six minutes of time added on dragged even slower than the previous 90 but the Terriers held firm. They got the points that have ensured survival and offered Brentford a most incredible lifeline. For that, we can only say a huge THANK YOU. Now it is West Brom who have matters outside their control. Destiny is in our hands. Put simply, four points from the next two games will see Brentford in the Premier League.

That’s the exciting part.The theoretical part. The incredible opportunity that we have absolutely earned following win after win after win. The moment one which was very much enjoyed last night. Putting ourselves in the box seat is the first part. Now, there’s the small matter of doing it all again. Of looking to make this 9 wins in a row. And Stoke City aren’t going to make this any easier than Town did last night. We have the chance to turn the screw but can we do it?

Right. Cards on the table time. Unquestionably yes, we can and I truly believe we will. The Bees have been relentless in recent weeks and I expect this to continue. The experience of Pontus will, of course, be invaluable. His will to win evident. His desire infectious. But around him are young charges who are chock full of confidence. Of talent. We win from the front. We come from behind. Without being arrogant, we know how good we can be when we put our minds to it. Recent results have shown that. This is a cup final but, fortunately, one not being played out at Wembley. that said, don’t even begin to imagine the stress levels on Wednesday if Stoke do end the game with something…

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

We won’t win just by turning up. We won’t get anything by assuming we’ve a divine right to the points. This is about as high pressure a situation as they come. Yet, at the same time, the most incredible chance has been afforded us. West Bromwich Albion have been in the top two since October. The second the game kicks off today, Brentford will overtake them in the ‘As it stands’ table by virtue of a goal difference that is 12 better than the Baggies. Whether we are still there 90 minutes later is the big ask.

It won’t be easy. It probably won’t be fun. But if anyone can motivate his team to do it then Thomas Frank is that man. Roll on 12.30pm. I can’t wait for this.

 Of course, before we conclude it is only right and proper to offer congratulations to Leeds and their quite wonderful fanbase after attaining promotion to the Premier League. The top flight will be all the better for having a club of their stature back amongst the elite of British football. They’ve had a bit of a wobble but, for once, there was no falling apart. Again. Now, they are free from playing tinpot pub teams and will line up against the best in the land. Visiting the likes of Old Trafford rather than Bus Stops in London.

Before all that starts they’ve got two games left to put their feet up, give the kids a run out and even let Bielsa take a turn between the sticks. With only one other team, Brentford, able to stop them lifting the title there’s no way that six point gap can be reeled in. Is there? 

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Looking at the BBC table this morning….

Nick Bruzon

Strange times call for strange bedfellows. Paging Brian Guest…..

14 Jul

West Bromwich Albion host Fulham tonight. Brentford entertain Preston tomorrow. Whilst the theoretical chance to go top, midweek, was taken away by Leeds United nabbing an 89th minute winner on Sunday, there is still a very real possibility we could head into the weekend sitting in an automatic position. For that, two things needs to happen. A win for the Bees on Wednesday and, say this quietly, victory for the Cottagers this evening. Even thinking about that feels wrong but for the greater good, lets all crack open a Victoria sponge, pour a large G&T then see what plays out at 5pm.

With The Baggies three points ahead and Fulham two behind, the most realistic chance of either West London side taking an automatic position starts with a win for The Cottagers. Equally, West Bromwich Albion know exactly how much closer to the finish line victory will take them and I can only see them going for it. Regardless of their own ability when the moment arrives, Fulham look awful at the moment. Our own 2-0 win in the first match post lockdown has seen the wheels coming off and they were also swept aside at Leeds United. Games with the good teams seem to be somewhat of a challenge. The only hope here seems to be what looks like a paper thin West Brom defence which, but for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, should have been down and out rather than taking the draw at Blackburn on Saturday. 

It’s all well and good talking theory but it still relies on a win for Fulham. And in the normal course of events nobody wants that. Do they? Well, perhaps one person does. At this juncture it seems an appropriate time to share something I published at Christmas (in the matchday programme rather than online)…..

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My name is Brian Guest and I support Fulham. Except of course it’s not and I don’t. Yet in this season of peace on Earth and goodwill to all, I’d like to give my own Festive gift to our guests. A confession and, perhaps more importantly, a vital lesson in being extremely careful that the person you are speaking to via the internet is actually who they say they are. Moreso when you outsource your programme content to a third party provider. Based in Liverpool.

Back in January 2017, Fulham ‘official’ put out a tweet looking for supporters to complete a brief Q&A for the ‘My club’ section of their matchday magazine. Anybody interested should contact the aforementioned Merseyside publication house via email. With nothing to lose, a message was sent from an account in the name of a Mr. B. Guest expressing interest.

Quicker than you can say ‘Neutral Stand’ , a reply was received : Hi Brian. If you could answer the attached and return it with a jpeg pic of yourself, we’ll let you know which programme it will go in.

No? Surely not? It couldn’t be that easy, could it? Fearing this too good to be true, I consulted a fellow Bees supporter who we’ll just call ‘Mr. Griffiths ‘ to protect his identity (that should fool them, Tim). We both came to the conclusion that there was nothing to lose and so the next morning a reply was sent. Including the requested picture although, because it had all been too easy so far, why not really push the boat out and use my own pen pic from the Brentford programme column of that season? The one wearing our Spall ‘87-‘88 away shirt.

And then that morning, less than 24 hours after putting the balls in motion, the following response was received:  Thanks Brian. A while off, but you’ll be in the Brentford programme on the last day of the season. Quite apt given they were your first game?

Quite apt? The reaction was one akin to the moment Stuart Dallas hit ‘that’ shot in our 4-1 Championship win at the Cottage. At which point , and after a brief catch up with ‘Tim’, the pair of us had to then maintain a lips sealed silence for the next three months. Not so much to stop Fulham finding out but more to really try and deliver a surprise for our own fans who, on seeing the answers, would hopefully twig. And so come April, with the secret told only to a few the night before, the stage was set.

My word. They bit. Hook, line and sinker. It was printed in full. Even the photo. Space precludes us from sharing the full article but choice extracts included:

First game? 26 April, 1992. Division 3. Away at Brentford. 4-0 down at halftime. At least the second half was 0-0. A baptism of fire. Obviously the score line wasn’t the best (I suppose like saying that the Titanic had stability issues) but what an atmosphere. I’ll never forget it and have been hooked ever since.

First shirt? Unusually enough, I’ve never owned a replica home shirt. That said, I’ve got a soft spot for the 2001 Pizza Hut kit. A perfect symmetry between sponsor and supporter – who doesn’t love a stuffed crust after a game?

Favourite game? Can I cheat and have two? Winning the two-legged Intertoto cup final in 2002 against Bologna. What an honour, what prestige and what a reward as it meant Fulham earned full European qualification for the first time ever.

A game you’d like to forget? Continuing an earlier theme (sorry) but definitely the 1-4 home loss to Brentford in April 2015. Given Fulham’s long top flight status the chance to avenge that first ever game had been a long time coming. Not so much a dish ‘best served cold’ as more one best served up to the river rats.

Favourite goal? Dickson Etuhu vs. Blackpool 3 April 2011 capped a brilliant day for me. A 3-0 win for The Whites whilst, of course, Michael Jackson’s statue was officially unveiled before kick off.

Favourite season? 2009-10 Established in the Premier League under Roy Hodgson, Fulham got all the way to the final of the Europa League beating Juventus along the way. The journey may have ended in defeat but what an incredible season.

Greatest sacrifice to watch the Whites? Giving up two tickets to the World Polo Championship final in California to see Fulham play Bournemouth in August 1998. It was a 0-0 draw . Argentina beat Brazil in the Polo, for the record.

Pre-match ritual? I used to go up to the statue and touch Michael Jackson but these days I cannot leave the house unless I’ve watched an episode of Pointless. It’s not a prematch prediction (LOL) but in honour of the legend that is celebrity fan Richard Osman.

I’d like to thank Mr. Griffiths for his help. Specifically around Dickson Etuhu and the Polo. Most of all, I’d like to thank Fulham. Whilst Mr. Osman may deem a game with the rivals to be an irrelevance, certainly if you believe what you read on social media, for me there’s no finer team to mug in their own backyard. Dallas did Fulham and Maupay had his moment but for me, Clive, it’s all about Brian Guest.

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Brian Guest – thanks, Fulham

Nick Bruzon

How the week could play out. Who gets the elbow and who gets clear air?

29 Jun

Here we go. Brentford travel to Reading on Tuesday night, knowing a win will take us to within touching distance of second place West Bromwich Albion. With Fulham the ones falling apart at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon, a 3-0 win for Leeds United saw the gap to the third place Bees stretched out to 8 points. Surely not even they can blow that with 7 (seven) games to play? Funnier things have happened but perhaps the current shape of the table means it is the Baggies game at Sheffield Wednesday, on Wednesday, where we need that additional level of external interest.

Any decision about whether Brentford fans should be cheering Fulham or hoping for the draw was  taken out of our hands almost immediately. Aleksander Mitrovic was lucky to avoid straight red just minutes in to the game (and will surely be summoned by the FA to explain his use of the elbow today) and it went downhill from there. Goal followed goal with the Cottagers left floundering and Leeds looking strong as, to be fair. The only pleasure to be taken was seeing who had replaced Osama Bin Laden in their sea of cardboard cutout supporters – Joe Exotic, amongst others. 

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An ‘accident’ or deliberate brutality? Either way, the ref missed it

But with Fulham in a slump and their goal threat looking like he’ll be snuffed out, Brentford have an excellent chance to keep up the momentum that saw us head up to third place after Friday night’s fine win over West Bromwich Albion. Put simply, a win at Reading on Tuesday night will see us move just two points behind the second placed team. They then travel to Hillsborough the following night for a game that will be as significant as ours.

A trip to Reading won’t be easy. Let’s not rest on any laurels that come with those two fine wins that have kickstarted our return to Championship action in fine style. Sure, Brentford have played some wonderful football and looked solid at the back but this one has all the potential to be a giant potato skin. The unknowns of a team resting safely mid-table and under no pressure to stay alive or win are well documented.

Thankfully, we have Thomas Frank at the helm. A man who oozes confidence and common sense in equal measure. He’ll have his boys grounded and the possibility of an extra boost that may even see Bryan Mbeumo starting a game once more. Emiliano Marcondes is currently bursting with self-belief whilst David Raya and his back four have looked solid as a rock.

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David Raya – rock solid

As for West Brom, might Sheffield Wednesday be an even tougher challenge for them than Reading are for us? The Owls put a massive dent in Bristol City’s promotion aspirations yesterday and might even fancy themselves for a late surge towards the top six.

Poor Lee Johnson. His hopes of using the play-offs to kick lumps out of Said Benrahma now becoming nothing more than something he’ll need to use FIFA 20 to accomplish. All being well the beleaguered Bristol City boss will see the opportunity taken out of his hands by our own achieving of ‘automatic’.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV.

Cripes. This is getting exciting. With Fulham on the slide and West Brom on the ropes, could we see things move even further in our favour? This week is full of ifs, buts and maybes. Focus has to be on our own game with anything else a bonus. The trip to the Madjeski is always a horrible one – so near yet so far, taking as long to reach the out of town car park from the station as it does to get to Reading from West London.

I’d still love to be given the opportunity to make the shlep down there but, sadly, social distancing laws mean it is a case of having to watch the EFL streaming service. Hands tied and voices gagged – metaphorically speaking – rather than screaming on the players in person.

Instead, it’ll be our TV that takes the abuse and the frustration. But enough about trying to make I-follow work.

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Reading – have previously beaten us. In the game of embarrassing hashtags

The other result that may have gone unnoticed at the weekend and, perhaps, offers further hope was Luton Town staying alive with an incredible 1-0 win at Swansea City. Incredible, given the Hatters’ struggles with relegation and their hosts proximity to the top six. Yet as we discovered at Kenilworth Road, underestimate anybody at your peril. Our own 7(seven) – 0 win earlier in the season counted for nothing when we were outmuscled 2-1 in a horrible game just prior to Lockdown. 

Whilst nobody really expects Leeds Untied to drop points tomorrow, perhaps we may have half an eye on what plays out at Elland Road. Just in case. I mean, it’s not as though they have any reputation for falling apart at the critical moment……. 

Nick Bruzon

Busting every sinew to make the abnormal seem normal

27 Jun

No pressure Fulham and Leeds United. Brilliant Brentford battered Bilic’s Baggies – (c) The Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s aliteration – at a packed (sounding) Griffin Park last night to move within five points of table topping West Bromwich Albion. With the second and fourth placed teams due to play this lunchtime, something has to give in our way as the Bees continue this dogged pursuit of promotion. At a time that others are starting to fall apart around us, Thomas Frank saw his team make it three wins on the spin, unbeaten since March and 8 goals for whilst none conceded over that period. Ethan Pinnock was a colossus at the back. Ollie Watkins proving he still has the golden touch up front. Peter Gilham giving it his all on the tannoy – his dulcet tones reverberating all around TW8. Screams of Brreeennttfffoooorrdddddd drifting over the neighbourhood. His one man mission to make Griffin Park sound as loud as ever leaving our man-with-the-mic hoarse at full-time.

If it wasn’t the same match day experience for those of us mere mortals usually allowed inside the stadium, the club did the very best to make it feel as normal as possible in the circumstances. The compact nature of our home allowing us to fill the ground with supporter banners and flags to quite wonderful effect. A sea of faces filling the paddock as the 3D effect of the banners gave the look of a large crowd to those of us watching on TV i.e. everybody except those few whose names had appeared on a guest list of journalistic credentials that was nigh on impossible to gain access to. And I did try. Ian Moose would have had more luck walking in to a McDonalds to buy a Big Mac at the moment than Joe Public did of busting in to Griffin Park.   

But with Sky getting better and better at the ‘fake crowd’ noise, to the point of club specific chants, appropriate cheers and the usual boos for Keith Stroud  ( perhaps I made that last one up  – our man in the middle once again belying his reputation) it wasn’t as odd watching it on TV as it should have been. Moreso when we were lucky enough to spend the evening camped out with friends in their back garden that nestles in the shadow of the ‘away end’. Whilst the West Brom supporters may have been so loud they sounded like Aldershot, PG more than made up for it on the home side.

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You’re so loud you sound like Aldershot…

If anything, his bellowing was even more ferocious than usual. There was no breaking his stride. No deviation from the norm. He gave it everything with all the regular stylings. The prematch music remained the same. Likewise at full time with another three points in the bag, thanks to our 1-0 win. Even down to his “Have a safe journey home tonight”. There’s no one there and he don’t care. He could have been the last man on earth and I get the feeling he’d have carried on as though there was nothing untoward.

Honestly, it was life affirming. If ever you wanted to describe to somebody what it feels like to support Brentford. To show them true passion and utter devotion to a team.  If ever there was a living embodiment of a club, our club, then it is Peter. And last night it was demonstrated more than ever. 

As it happens, H and I popped out for some fresh air some time after the game had finished. Who should we bump in to but PG himself. From a safe distance, of course. My word the grin and the croakiness said it all. The enjoyment in what had played out before clear. We’d heard every scream from the garden – including the goal announcement 30 seconds before seeing Ollie guide the winner home on TV with little more than a quarter hour gone. We’d felt every moment. Now we had the quite perfect denouement to a quite wonderful evening. 

Honestly, being trapped outside a locked stadium is not the way to watch a game. We were lucky enough to be sitting within a few yards of the goal. Just the slight problem of a twenty foot fence separating us from seeing the action. The TV coverage is definitely improving and, all being well, it won’t be long until we are allowed back in to the ground. The players are, I am sure, as keen as the fans to have full houses. The full time celebrations showed what it meant to them. Imagine doing that with our usual sell out crowd roaring them on? 

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Close but no cigar. Never has a few yards felt more like a few miles

For now, it remains a case of locked doors. Of wall to wall TV coverage. Of having crept to within touching distance of Leeds Untied and West Brom.

Dare I say it, but could a win for Fulham be the best outcome today? Or a draw? Leeds are five points ahead. We’d need two wins to overtake them, obv. Should the gap become six then it would still be the same, given the huge goal difference in our favour over everybody else in the division. Perhaps it is best just to focus on ourselves. We can’t influence that game and have our own trip to mid-table Reading on Tuesday night. With the games coming thick and fast, perhaps we’ll see a few changes coming on that front. Could Bryan Mbeumo start? His own recovery from the positive Corona virus test confirmed by his place on the bench last night.

Still, all that’s to come. We were immense last night. It was weird to watch but magnificent at the same time. Our club is incredible. Busting every sinew to make the abnormal seem normal. We’re beating our rivals on the pitch. Looks like we’re doing the same off it. Just 7(seven) games to go. Can we close the gap? Roll on Tuesday when we find out ….

And if Leeds could fall apart, again, that would also be appreciated.

Nick Bruzon

The Brentford BMW has a new M as Fulham are flayed. Again.

21 Jun

Well that was just magnificent. It wasn’t the same as being there, let’s not pretend otherwise, but Brentford were nothing short of incredible as they destroyed Fulham at a more atmospheric than usual Craven Cottage on Saturday lunchtime. Benrahma and Marcondes doing their thing in Jota time to send the TV audience wild and silence the home team’s tannoy. Scott Parker was left looking as though he’d caught Alexsander Mitrovic red-handed going through his fridge whilst one can only imagine the scenes that would have played out had we been in the away end for this most incredible of denouements. I believe what the kids would call ‘limbs’. Even Pontus was smiling at full time. Not a typo. His former club, Leeds United, have already been displaced at the top of the table and the gap to our next opponents, West Bromwich Albion, reeled in by two points.

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The smile says it all

Imagine choosing not to watch that. What else were you going to do on a Coronavirus Saturday lunchtime? Online shopping? Cleaning the house? Or sit in your social bubbles with a few drinks to see if the impossible might become possible. Could Brentford pick up where we left off in March and keep up the push for ‘automatic’?

Well, a 2-0 win for the Bees means we are now eight points off West Brom and Leeds (albeit Bielsa’s boys have a a game in hand at Cardiff today) with the Baggies due to visit Griffin Park on Friday night under the lights. That one’s going to be huge but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s the small matter of destroying Fulham to talk about first.

Brentford took the game to our hosts from the off. This, despite Thomas Frank confirming that Bryan Mbeumo would be missing out as the individual who had tested positive for Coronavirus. The player has shown no symptoms but is self-isolating at present whilst the rest of the squad had all come back negative on their subsequent tests. Take care Bryan and see you soon. But if his absence might have felt like a blow, it wasn’t impacting the team. Tarique Fosu stepped in and the hairy Bees (Benrahma’s bouff, Dasilva’s beard and Jensen’s top knot – oh dear) went for it.

Both keepers were in good form as the hosts, in the unusual situation of being  roared on…by their p.a. system…. found a way back in to the game. Being honest, David Raya kept us well in it at times whilst they probably had the better of the first half chances. Despite our possession, drive and one close effort from Josh, it was Decordova-Reid who hit the bar whilst Knockaert and Mitrovic both came close. The later even found the back of the net in the second half although was correctly adjudged to have been well offside. The linesman’s flag being lowered with almost slow-motion accuracy to chalk off the rotund striker’s effort.  

And with it, their chance was gone. The arrival of Shandon Baptiste and Emiliano Marcondes breathing new life into Brentford as we kept on pushing. Break followed break until, with the game well into the clock 88th minute, Emiliano played a ball across the box which Benrahma guided home from close in. Yessssss!!! The scream from our house probably loud enough to wake the dead. It was a noise replicated across this part of West London as the Bees moved into a (surely) unassailable position.

No word of a lie, there was calm in our house. This is not the Brentford of old. The Brentford that cock it up late to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Thomas Frank’s brand of football is part Kevin Keegan (minus the meltdown), part confidence and a huge dollop of faith in his players. We kept going. If the ball is up the other end then the opposition can’t score. And sure enough, they couldn’t. Fulham left very much in second place as Marcondes wrapped up the points, and his own man-of-the-match award, late into stoppage time with a cool finish. Not bad for twenty minutes work.

Fulham were broken. Battered. Down and very much out. They retain third place, for now, although have the Bees breathing right down their neck and a trip to Leeds United next up. Either way, something has to give there. With the visit of West Bromwich Albion to Griffin Park taking place the night before, that Elland Road game could turn out to have even more significance than already. Especially if Cardiff City can pull a favour out of the bag today when Bielsa and co resume their own campaign.

I didn’t expect West Brom to drop points yesterday. I mean, Birmingham City? But it happened and that’s a dirty favour we’ll gratefully accept. These early games are going to be critical as teams rediscover there form and fitness. Accept the gifts whilst you can and enjoy our own moment. Beating a team above us in the table, whoever they are, is no small feat. Don’t let the derby nature of the game take away what we achieved. Likewise, Blues at the Hawthorns. No matter how it may feel.

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…Our squad is ten times better than yours ever was…

Yet for now it would be trite not to focus on our own performance. A never give up reminder that football is a 90 minute game. Football is a squad game and if you keep going to the very end, rewards can come.

I’d love to have been there. No question. It was a quite amazing finish to a fixture that always brings out the best in Brentford. Everybody from Jota and Stuart Dallas to Neal Maupay and even Brian Guest have written their own particular chapter in the Brentford- Fulham story. To that you can now add Emiliano Marcondes. The BMW found a new M when it mattered.

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We can’t celebrate in person but this was the next best thing

I’m desperate to attend on Friday but it’s not going to happen. Sadly. I’m not alone. Instead, it’s another shift in front of the TV and the genuine belief that the Bees will pick up where we left off. Yesterday was such a huge morale boost. Something that was quite evident in our own post-match Zoom chat aswell as from dipping in and out of social media. Wherever you went, there we were celebrating. And why not?

Roll on Friday night. Football Is back. It is very different and it is very echoy. But it also has Brentford winning and foe me, Clive, that alone is cause for celebration. Four derbies this season and four wins. Kings of West London. I’ll take that.

See you Friday. In spirit. 

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Nick Bruzon   

Owls become pussycats as Bees run riot.

8 Mar

Now that’s how to return to winning ways. Brentford trashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a game that was every bit as one sided as the scoreline suggests. The Bees climb to fourth, tucked in behind a Fulham side who of course we visit on Friday evening. We’re now five points clear of seventh (effectively six given the quite incredible goal difference of +31) and ten off second placed West Bromwich Albion. With The Baggies next up at Griffin Park and nine games to go, destiny remains very much in our hands.

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Brentford attacked from the off

What an afternoon. It was one of those where another bracketing looked on the cards and could easily have played out. Brentford came out of the traps flying and peppered the Wednesday goal, including one effort from Watkins that flew off the crossbar. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring when a shot was only parried. It fell kindly to him tin the box and there was no mistake with his left foot. Emiliano Marcondes doubled things soon after with an absolute beauty from what must have been a good twenty-five yards. It was a thing of beauty and worth the admission price alone as it flew through the air and into the far corner of the net. Less than twenty minutes gone and two up.

Brentford continued to press and Bryan Mbeumo made it three. He worked an opening and hit a low shot through the box that curled off the base of the post. The Bees in total control. Sheffield so far off the pace that forget about Wednesday, they were still on Monday. It was domination that continued in the second period although the goals took a back seat until late strikes form DaSilva and Fosu gave the scoreline the margin our performance warranted. The Bees had been rampant. The Owls outclassed and outplayed. Wednesday boss Garry Monk would use phrases such as ‘inexcusable’, ‘embarrassed‘ and ‘lost for words’. Thomas Frank would call us ‘scarily good’.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. If you want detail then official or the BBC are you best places. Or the highlights are below.

Goals, goals, goals….

Suffice to say though that this was about as completes a performance as they come. Thomas Frank would talk afterwards about our desire to defend. We were rock solid at the back despite the ongoing absence of Pontus Jansson. Anything that was hit on target, comfortably saved by David Raya.

Marcondes and Dasilva will get the goalscoring headlines but don’t rule out their overall contributions either. Emiliano was named man of the match whilst Josh had one of those games where the ball seemed tied to his foot with a piece of string. Said Benrahma did everything but score but must, instead, be content with a clutch of assists. 

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Taking deserved applause at full time

Next up is the televised game at Fulham on Friday night. With The Cottagers needing a late equaliser at Bristol City, the chance is there to really stick a late season mark on our rivals. Victory in Hammersmith would take us to within a point of third place. The satisfaction of doing them infinitely more preferable though. It won’t be easy. It never is. But it will be fun and I can’t wait. With another midweek break there’s more chance to recharge legs and do the same as we did yesterday.

There’s not much else to say, really.  Referee Keith Stroud had a great game, letting the football flow and keeping himself out of the limelight. It felt comfortable all afternoon and, honestly, never in doubt from the moment the game began.There will no doubt be tougher tests ahead but you can only play who you are up against. Beyond that, simply a case of keeping heads down until Friday night and then we see what happens down the road.

I can’t wait….

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nick Bruzon   

With the terrace talk about Terrace Talk, it’s another point in awful conditions.

23 Feb

Another game unbeaten. Another game that Brentford fans may feel we should have won but, in the end, will be happy to have taken a point against a Blackburn Rovers team with their own promotion aspirations. A 2-2 draw played out in gale force conditions, alongside Fulham’s Friday night draw and a 0-0 for Nottingham Forest means we stay fourth. Leeds United won – fair play to them – as that once colossal gap to second place is still a very catchable six points. With the Bees next up before the teams directly above us play again (we’ve a visit to Luton Town on Tuesday before Fulham host Swansea and Leeds travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday), the chance to apply further immediate pressure lies very much in our own hands.

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It’s up there, somewhere. Conditions were tough at gusty Griffin Park.

It was an absolute corker of a Griffin Park. Despite Blackburn playing with that howling wind at their backs in the first half, Brentford were the ones applying the early pressure. Right up until the exact moment that Rovers’ goalkeeper Christian Walton played a long, long ball up pitch and as it caught the breeze, Ethan Pinnock lost it in the air. There was Adam Armstrong to drift it over David Raya with a perfectly placed lob. The ball seemed to float over him in almost slow-motion with nothing the Spaniard, or anybody watching, could do to stop it hitting the back of the net.

Noooooooooooooooooo. 0-1 and Blackburn most definitely not reading the script. With the wind now behind the visitors and very much taken out of our sails, the rest of the first-half meandered way into nothingness. I’m struggling to recall much more in terms of incident. Still, there was always the second period to come…..

Urghh. 0-2 Rovers. With less than an hour gone, referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot after Raya won the ball but continued his movement into somebody. Gut feeling at the time was that it was soft but legitimate. We’ve all seen them given etc. That man Armstrong made no mistake and Blackburn were home. The play-offs beckoning.

Except, they weren’t. Just minutes later Ollie Watkins had halved the deficit with an absolute howitzer of a shot. This time it was Dalsgaard who used the conditions to our advantage as his own pass through the eye of the storm was perfectly judged by the free scoring front man. Playing the offside trap to perfection, he brought it down and then leathered one from distance that swerved into the top corner and sent the home fans wild. My word, what a strike. It was as much about the timing, control and preparation as it was the finish. Hats off, Ollie. 

The crowd buoyant and Brentford inspired, we kicked on. Shandon Baptise and Mads Roerslev having come on from the bench both impressed. Should Mathias Jensen still be missing for the Luton game, I can only imagine it will be the new signing from Oxford who starts that one rather than Emiliano Marcondes. Yet it was Roerslev who was the real revelation down the right, as the Brentford player machine looks like it has spat out another winner from the B-team.

Boom. Felled in the box (apparently – move along, nothing to see here) it presented the opportunity for Benrahma to level things. There was no mistake from the spot and with 20 minutes left, there was only one team in it. 

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Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Brentford pushed, poked, and tried. Benrahma’s legs a blur and Mbeumo coming close to making it another afternoon of the BMW doing their thing. At the other end David Raya keeping Arsmtrong at bay with a quite wonderful save after Dalsgaard’s back pass had dropped woefully short. It was the only realistic chance that Blackburn had between the equaliser and full time. How crucial could it prove? 

Alas, it wasn’t to be for either team. Promotion hopes hit with the lightest of pauses rather than being derailed or ground made. For either team. With West Bromwich Albion also winning, and so themselves now four points clear of Leeds United, anybody hoping for ‘automatic’ is fighting out for one place. I can’t see the Baggies surrendering another double point lead having once more found their form. Albeit their visit to Griffin Park next month could be interesting…..  

Instead, it looks like a straight shoot out between Brentford, Fulham, Leeds United, Preston and Nottingham Forest for second place. Statistically, Leeds have to be favourites. They’re the ones currently occupying that slot and with the lead over third place. Yet pressure does strong things and one thing’s for sure, nobody is going to give up on the chase. With Brentford missing Mathias Jensen, Pontus Jansson and Sergi Canos we’ve still got strength in depth to return. 

So, it wasn’t to be this time. The race for the Premier League is still alive and kicking. The players doing their thing, even at full time, where they and Thomas once more put the family feel into our wonderful club.

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Advice being given at full time….

We’ve a trip to Luton Town up next and then it’s off to Cardiff City on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast as the excitement shows no sign of abating.

And finally, the (possible) return of the ever popular Terrace Talk video feature. Could it happen? It was a subject that was touched upon in yesterday’s programme feature and has already been picked up on by former host Sean Ridley.

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As seen in the programme….

Going by yesterday’s Twitter talk, Sean’s willing to give it a go for one last hurrah – assuming, of course, that ‘official’ are.

Just tweet @BrentfordFC and use the hashtag #TerraceTalk if you’d like to see it back just once more. Hey, the club may even agree.  And if you need a reminder of the feature’s brilliance, then here you go (from the 2016/17 visit of Nottingham Forest)…..

 

Nick Bruzon

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But who will blink first?

13 Feb

With the midweek fixtures all played out, Brentford find themselves two points off ‘automatic’ and Leeds United still in second place. Just. For a while, it looked as though things may get even better with West Bromwich Albion behind and Fulham crying out for VAR (looked onside to me !) at Millwall. In the end, the Baggies got their win although the Cottagers ended things level. With Preston taking sixth and Bristol City warming up for Saturday’s trip to Elland Road after edging past Wayne Rooney by the odd goal in five, things remain as unclear and open as ever. Only West Brom starting to make a bit of clear air but, as we’ve seen all season, that can change in a heartbeat. Our own game at Birmingham City this weekend couldn’t be any bigger.

Before we go any further, I’ll likely mention Birmingham City a few times in the next couple of days. We’re due to play them  – why wouldn’t anyone do so in that situation? So to try, but no doubt fail, and avoid the usual nonsense about this tinpot team’s apparent obsession with their enormous club, the Griffin Park perspective on why I’ve absolutely relished our teams crossing paths in the Championship is noted further below. Why such pleasure is taken every time Brentford finish above Blues – which has been every season since our return to this level.

Sure… the financial misconduct, the managerial mayhem, that ten times better nonsense or the triple transfer swoop were factors – the sort of nonsense that makes football great in retrospect –  but nothing compared to what had gone before.

Anyway, getting back to the present, one almost had to feel sorry for Fulham last night. Almost. The brief window of opportunity I was afforded to watch that game before Kirsty and Phil started doing battle over Woodford Green property renovation (ah, the Wednesday night price of a green card for the trip to St. Andrews on Saturday is a huge one) saw two early goals and a huge controversy. Aleksander Miitrovic continuing to trade metaphorical punches with Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship leading goalscorer charts before the Lions equalised with a goal so far offside even I spotted it first time out. Fulham were rightly incensed but, as we struggled to contain the laughs on our couch, the officials allowed it stand. 

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But there was no VAR. No second chance. No reprieve and things were level. Millwall even had the temerity to miss a penalty and that’s how things stayed. Apparently. What would I know? The things you do for the long term footballing pleasure.  With that result, Fulham go level on points with Leeds United whilst Brentford remain two points off the pair of them. The Cottagers may aswell chalk up the three points now with a home game against Barnsley this weekend but Leeds – Bristol City promises to be another massive one. 

The Robins are just outside the play off zone. Only goal difference keeping them away from a top six that once again plays host to Preston. It really is a case of seeing who can hold their nerve. Who blinks first. Whatever else, something has to give with West Brom hosting Nottingham Forest. I’m beyond trying to figure out who I want to win in these games though. Let’s concentrate on ourselves and hope those favours continue to come.

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As it stands…

That said, we are now at the point of experiencing that additional factor of a promotion shootout. That moment where the run-in starts and every result of every club around us seems critical. Phones are refreshed mid-game as goals conceded and points dropped here, there and everywhere are celebrated with abandon. Where even a win for the Loftus Road team is to be celebrated if it comes against one of the teams in close proximity. Where shifts in the table are tracked, even ‘as it stands’, and all favours are grateful accepted. We’ve had it by the bucketload during this week’s fixtures with Brentford even sitting in second place until Leeds equalised. Walking past Griffin Park on the school run with Harry, we’ve been going through permutations of results and possibilities – it’s amazing how much that can help with arithmetic. So, If Leeds lose, how many points will they have? Where will Fulham be if they beat Millwall?

There are, of course, a lot of games to go. Almost a third of the season still. But with nobody really striking out on their own, albeit West Bromwich Albion have a few points’ breathing space (at present) one can’t help but get drawn in by the situation unfolding around us. Which, as much as anything else, is why Birmingham City is a massive one for us Brentford fans. Regardless of the history. The obsession. 

I’ll absolutely love it if we pick up the points. Might even sing a song at full time. Roll on Saturday – see you there.   

 

Until then, here’s my take on it. Birmingham City – the ‘obsession’

For me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things feel as though they bear repeating. No matter how forlorn it may be. Yet it is as crucial now as a means of seeing how far we’ve come compared to how things were before. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day. 

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

Deano and Bliss

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the campaign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

So, yes. Whilst I DO focus on Birmingham City (a lot) it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. Can we take it to the next level? Perhaps Saturday will give a bit more of a clue, but I wouldn’t bet against this race going to the very last weekend of the season. 

Nick Bruzon