Tag Archives: Baggies

So close to another mulled win on a day of celebration.

22 Dec

The morning after the night before. Head foggy. Eyes sore. Mouth tasting like Fullers has curled up, fallen asleep in there and then passed away at about 3am. Espresso now on rewind. Yesterday was fun. A lot of fun. We had a kids / grown ups party at ours, meaning a trip to The Hawthorns was out of the running. Yet the seasonal celebrations continued long after the final guests had left with the knowledge that Brentford will be in the play-off zone at Christmas. This, following a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion where, if we’re being honest, perhaps some are feeling miffed about not taking all three points from the league leaders. Certainly, going by the reports of one way traffic and chances created in the first half. There was a further present as second placed Leeds United dropped more points – albeit at the Cottage as they lost 2-1 to Fulham. Despite their losing a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff last time out, surely not even the Elland Road outfit can throw away what is now a ten point lead from their second place to third. Surely? It’s not as though they have any form of reputation for falling apart or stuff like that.

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Loved this from ‘official’

Still, the tribulations of Leeds United and Fulham (recording a first win since I don’t know when – it wasn’t last weekend, that’s for sure) a mere dollop of cream on top of the Festive treat served up at West Brom. With my usual group displaced by holiday prep, the aforementioned party, transatlantic travel and shopping it was a case of communication via Whatsapp. The screen shot showing that Brentford were dominating our hosts with 57% possession, 7(seven) shots with 2 on target – compared to nil from The Baggies – was followed with the not unusual comment that “We all know what happens next” becasue, of course, stats don’t win matches. Goals do.

Sure enough, thirty seconds later it did. But not as expected….

A scream from the front room was followed by Harry running through to the kitchen where the dads were hiding out by the vat of mulled wine, talking sh..op and steering clear of the mayhem. He was closely followed by his friends Felix and Darius who stand on the Ealing Road with their dad JJ (he of the goal inducing pea-sized bladder with which regular readers may be familiar – not literally). It was less a run and more a charge. Guests scattering and voices raised. “Daaaad. Daaaaad. We’ve scored!! We’re beating West Bromwich Albion.” Oh. Wow. Sure enough we had. Just before half-time and confirmation followed from Felix that it was the World Cup’s Denmark international Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford who got the all important strike. Oh my. Get in !! Another mulled wine? Don’t mind if I do.

This was weird. Really weird. And if for no more reason than JJ had been with us when the goal went in rather than taking a comfort break.

Sadly though, the request for Harry to retrieve the deeds to the house and lump them on the Bees going up was retracted as quickly as it had been issued. Despite a penalty being denied us in between (“a clear, clear handball”, per Thomas Frank), Dalsgaard’s 43rd minute flick on from a corner was followed up by an almost identikit goal from the hosts. Fellow full back Darnell Furlong levelling things up deep into first half stoppage time. Oh well. Parity restored. A kick to the psychological nuts but a scoreline we’d all have taken prior to kick off, I’m sure. The important thing now was to not ‘do a Leeds United’ and, erm, fall apart. Keep that concentration going. Keep on pushing in what was sounding and reading like one way traffic (something the subsequent video highlights bear out altough our little group didn’t know this at the time).

The kids were sent back to the front room to ignore the rest of their guests and watch Jeff Stelling on mute, then keep us appraised of any second-half goal update. Nooooo. 2-1 Brom. Disaster. Charlie Austin.

Yessssssss 1-1. The lino had his flag up. Offside. “It was definitely offside, dad”, confirmed Harry. Not quite sure how he knew but his word was good enough for me. It was, on later review, the correct call and was the last action of any meaning in the afternoon. The game finishing 1-1 and the gap to Leeds in second being cut by another point. The Bees in the play-off zone and set for the visit of Swansea City on Boxing Day. Relentless West Bromwich Albion striding clear at the summit.

I’d love to have been there. The visiting contingent looked huge. The Hawthorns a magnificent stadium. Instead, yesterday’s ‘live action’ was confined to standing in a deluge and watching Harry at his Spartans FC training. Any excuse for a shot of that blue shirt in action.

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Watching one ‘Bee’ in the rain

Instead, it’ll be a case of the trip to Millwall next Sunday for that next ‘away’ hit. But that’s one for the future. For now it’s a case of enjoying the moment. Of seeing how far we have come . We’ve only been in the Championship play off-zone at Christmas once before – the season Mark Warburton had the reins, dear (reader). Back then we hung on and scraped into the top six on that incredible final day after Derby did a Leeds at home to Reading. It was a position we’d got into of our own making through an over reliance on out of form Harlee Dean (Tony Craig being confined to the bench a tactical decision I still cannot align myself with) . 

Yet Thomas Frank shows none of that ‘loyalty to favourites’. Form is recognised and Ethan Pinnock has retained his place on merit following Julian Jeanvier’s suspension. It was a decision that has now been rewarded. The absence of Pontus Jansson with a ‘minor injury’ one which might have caused trepidation prior to kick off. Yet any worries proved futile and now I’d be intrigued to see who the choice centre-back pairing will be when Swansea visit on Thursday. What a lovely problem to have !

Perhaps if anyone can sum things up it is none other than Romaine Sawyers. How nice to read his words on Twitter at full time, where he opined: “Everyone knows I’ll always hold @BrentfordFC in high regard! You guys should be proud of the team this season and keep pushing them on to the finish line! Thank you for the reception at the end of the game appreciate it!! So glad to see all my brothers today and you fans”

Thank you Romaine. Here’s to playing you next season. In the top flight….

 

Nick Bruzon

Peter living the dream for all of us. Let’s do this!!

21 Dec

Wasn’t that the week just gone? This little bus stop in Hounslow celebrating the moment we won ‘our cup final’ on Saturday. Or, put in correct terms, tearing apart a Fulham side who only had the woodwork to thank them for not having anything more humiliating than a 1-0 defeat to take back up the road with them. It was a victory that saw the Bees jump above our neighbours and up to fourth place in the Championship after as comprehensive a performance as one could ever enjoy. Today promises to continue the excitement with a chance to make ground on the top three. Our own trip to leaders West Bromwich Albion the above shining star at the top of the Championship festive tree. Of equal interest though, as much for the comedy value of who will hit the self-destruct button, is the visit of second placed Leeds United to The Cottage. Whatever happens there, something will give in our favour.

Fulham was magnificent. A non stop, barnstorming performance from Brentford which, a brief open flurry aside, never saw the visitors even close to coming second. Peter Gilham would write during the week about the energy levels expended in that one and the quite staggering High Metabolic Load Distance figures achieved by the team. I had visions of him in a lab coat, examine test tubes as he talked about record levels of decelerations,  accelerations  and high speeds. It was all very Doctor Science and gave me more admiration than ever for Peter’s versatility. Albeit the subsequent reference that “For Players: HMLD = High Metallic Load Distance” had me yearning for some Metabollica on #BeeTheDJ when Swansea visit on Boxing Day. Blame the spellcheck, Peter – it’s my standard excuse!!

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Peter checks those HMLD results

 

In all seriousness though, I think in layman’s terms all this – and you should read what is a quite fascinating piece on official – means that the players put a bloody shift in. Something that was quite apparent to all watching. The science aside, it really was an article written form the heart of a man who is the living embodiment of the club. He talked about his own upbringing and, crucially, the importance of the fans. About raising the decibels even further. About making the second half of this season one to really remember.

Sitting where I do in The Braemar, I’m fortunate enough to be able to grab a word with Peter most games. He’s never too busy to say hello and is, ultimately, a fan. A fan with more knowledge and more years of support under the belt than most of us. The decibel factor is something he never fails to mention when you talk in person. The absolutely HUGE lift it gives the players. The way they respond to it. Fulham was the perfect example and what a way to finish that one. Please do take a look at his message on the club site and don’t take those words lightly.  

That was then. This is now. A trip to West Bromwich Albion just about the toughest challenge a team in this division is going to face. The Baggies pushing for a return to the top flight and relentless in their pursuit of top spot. Brentford, without a victory abasing this particular opposite since 1948. One could argue there’s a case for a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality but that’s the wrong one. Think like that and you think defeated. We’ve a first XI who are on fire at present. Who attack with pace from just about every angle. Who are rock solid at the back, having conceded less Championship goals than anyone else barring Leeds United this season. Who have a GD that is only bettered than Albion and , again, Leeds. Credit where it is due. 

The point being, we’re not a little/tinpot/pub team of underdogs. We’re absolutely up here on merit and, with that early season wobble done, Thomas Frank is a hero to all. His players busting every sinew to bring home the points. Genuinely, I’ll be disappointed if we come back to Griffin Park empty handed today.

West Brom are awesome, no doubt. So are we. Romaine Sawyers may be in the form of his life (and that’s saying something by his already impressive standards) but so are Benrahma. Dasilva, Watkins. Bryan Mbeumo is improving game on game on game. It’s hard to think he is so young, such is the way he has set this division alight in the last few months.

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Bryan impressed early season and has just accelerated further

Today will be tough. No doubt. But today could be season defining. Win this and it’s going to make people really sit up and take notice. If they aren’t already. Flying under the radar is brilliant but you have to emerge at some point. Will it be this afternoon ? I’d love to be there to find out in person but, sadly, Christmas build up means it’s a case of prior engagements. Hats off to those who have persuaded the other half to give them the afternoon off or, better, go together to the Hawthorns.

Instead, my Bees last fix remains the one at the annual Junior Bees Christmas party on Monday. It was, as ever, the most wonderful event. The team spirit must be high – if only for Pontus getting away with wearing that seasonal jumper of his. Good man.

Peter Gilham was in his usual top form, going full ‘accidental Partridge’ at one point as he announced “And in The Hive, it’s scalectrix with Bryan Mbeumo and Julian Jeanvier”. Thomas Frank was talking to all comers on the forecourt whilst the rest of the squad were scattered around the various stalls and kids games. With the choir in fine voice, it really was the consummate example of why everyone involved in our club continue to make it the most incredible family to be a part of.

Thanks Peter. Thanks Matthew. Thanks everyone. Now lets go beat some Baggies…..

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Pontus gets in the Christmas spirit on Monday

Nick Bruzon

Uncanny parallels on a day of Gayle v gale as the run comes to an end.

17 Mar

And with that, the home streak was over. After 7 (seven) straight wins at Griffin Park, Brentford went down to West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in a game dominated by two goalkeepers and awful conditions. On a day windier than a naughty puppy at Christmas after snafflling an entire family size tub of Roses, it was West Brom who played both the conditions and the ref to win the game with their one moment of true quality – Kyle Edwards embarking on mazy run through the midfield and the Brentford defence to steer it past Luke Daniels six minutes into the second half. Elsewhere, there was more than a passing interest in how our own FA Cup conquerors, Swansea City, would fare in the next round at home to Manchester City. It would be fair to say there was no irony lost in how that one turned out. But we can only start with matters at Griffin Park.

The writing was on the wall before the game even kicked off in anger, if we’re being honest. And not just the appointment of Andy Madley as our ‘referee’. There was that lowest of low tricks at the toss – changing ends. I’m not a fan of having to kick ‘the wrong way’ in the first half. It doesn’t feel right and gets everybody’s back up. Especially given it meant we’d spend the second period kicking into the wind. And it was strong, very strong. The trees behind the away end were bending double whilst three balls were lost over the stadium roof after being hoofed high into the gusty stratosphere.

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View from the Braemar – West Brom had it when to counted. Sadly.

It was a bad start to the game but entirely understandable given the circumstances. Despite pressure and chances, the Bees were unable to find a way past Sam Johnstone in goal for the opposition in that opening period. It was another game where we went for it from the off.

Yet where previously we’ve had the ability to step it up in the second period, this time there was no way through. The elements providing a massive help to a team who defended with strength whilst cynically running down the clock at every opportunity. The ball was kicked away whenever possible, the ref allowed The Baggies to get in his ear and under his skin, throw ins were delayed and dives that would have had Tom Daley smiling were common place.

Much as against Sheffield United midweek, Brentford were locked out by well drilled opponents. When the chances came, the ball didn’t quite fall right or Johnstone was on hand to pull off top drawer saves. One in particular, from a Yoann Barbet free kick, had the fans out of their seats for 1-0 Brentford before the diving’ keeper’s outstretched palm managed to guide it to safety at the explosion of the ‘goal’ celebration. Canos and Maupay also came close but it wasn’t to be. 

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View from the Braemar – Yoann comes close. So close.

When West Brom had their own opportunity, Edwards took it with style. There can be no complaints about the way he started and finished the move. Even if there were plenty afterwards as the clock headed towards it’s inexorable denouement with all the pressure and tension of a losing Countdown contestant trying to make a last round word out of JKXDZBEIO.

More so, when referee Madley followed a strong first hour with a final thirty minutes which suggested his focus was anywhere but on ensuring the game could flow. His own performance very much going to the dogs as Brentford battled against Dwight Gayle, a roaring gale and a rogue ref.

So after the play-off dream had briefly raised its head in recent weeks, we’re now nine points off the top six with nine games to go. Given the way this team can play, I’m not going to say it’s over until it’s over. But being realistic, things are going to need a remarkable swing.

On the plus side, we’ve got international break to all catch our breath and recuperate before that final push begins at the end of the month with two away games – Wigan Athletic and then a midweek trip to Swansea City. At the very least, another top ten finish is more than attainable. Another finish over the likes of Birmingham City and QPR well within our grasp.

Yesterday was frustrating and notably so, given the conditions we had to watch the game in. Whilst I’d never trade being at Griffin Park for TV, there was a pang of jealousy about the comfort of those watching ‘on screen’ from sunnier climes.

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Not exactly TW8….

Still, if it was all about the comfort then you may aswell stay at home. Something a group of West Brom fans must have been wishing after putting on the worst pre-match display for TV’s Soccer AM since, well, that day we don’t talk about against Doncaster Rovers.

With football done, it was back home to catch up on the FA Cup action. In particular, the game between Swansea City and Manchester City. That one being of particular interest to Bees fans after we’d seen a 1-0 half time lead at the Liberty Stadium in the previous round turn into a 4-1 fifth round exit at full time. The catalyst for that one being turned around was, of course, the unfortunate equaliser where a free kick had beaten Luke Daniels, hit the post, struck the back of the still diving goalkeeper on its return and deflected straight back into the net for 1-1.

So there was no irony lost as Swansea saw a 2-1 second half lead at the Liberty Stadium turn into a 3-2 sixth round exit at full time. The catalyst for that one being turned around was, of course, the unfortunate equaliser where Sergio Aguero’s penalty had beaten Kristoffer Nordfeldt, hit the post, struck the back of the still diving goalkeeper on its return and deflected straight back into the net for 2-2.

That the penalty decision, like Aguero’s late winner, had probably been made the wrong way can only have added to the sense of frustration felt by the home fans. Tell me about it. Yet another two fingers up delivered from VAR or, more the case, the lack of VAR. The FA Cup only allowing the system to be used in games players at Premier league grounds. Nothing like keeping the competition consistent, eh? 

For Manchester City, an incredible opportunity to scoop a quadruple still awaits. For Brentford and Swansea City, we’re back to the drawing board. The Championship play-offs remain a mathematical possibility but are going to take an incredible combination of wins and favours from other teams.

 With Leeds United and Frank Lampard’s Derby county still to visit, who knows what might sill happen…..

Nick Bruzon

Bees hoping for more, more, more as West Brom visit this afternoon

16 Mar

What a run it has been for Brentford. 7(seven) wins in succession at Griffin Park. The crowd behind the team. The team playing for fun. Those full time celebrations and walks around the paddock now becoming a very welcome, and regular, feature. Most of all, it’s fun. The smiles are broad and the goals are flying in. I love it and can’t wait for the next game to come around. However, promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion are in town today and will be the latest team looking to put a spoke in the wheel of Thomas Frank’s runaway home form. Everybody needs to be on red alert for this one. Despite relieving manager Darren Moore of his duties last week, they got back to winning ways on Wednesday night against Swansea City. It was a game which featured what must surely be a contender for worst. penalty. ever as the Swans missed out on the opportunity to equalise in quite spectacular style. When you have that level of fortune smiling on you, it’ll be no surprise if The Baggies come in to this one with their tails up. Yet with the table still tight and The Bees 7(seven) points off 6th with a game in hand, despite our own midweek slip up at Sheffield United, there’ll be no excuses for not going at this one full tilt.

And full tilt is what Thomas Frank specialises in. Our home record speaks for itself whilst last month saw Brentford hit five goals at Griffin Park on two separate occassions. Hull City and Blackburn Rovers being the teams to take that pummelling at the back. QPR were put to the sword with what looked like consummate ease last time we were all here. Then, of course, there was the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Finally, it happened. What a reward for all the hard work, effort and self-belief.

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Thomas celebrates at home. Again

Even our substitutions are positive. There’s no looking to run down the clock or grind it out in the last few minutes with additional defenders or holding midfielders. Instead, Thomas is swapping one attacking player for another. It worked a treat in that QPR game whilst was a tactic deployed very early up at Sheffield United. It was a tactic that almost paid off against a side whose own defence is tighter than a pair of 80’s football shorts.   

As for the team, Saïd Benrahma has been on fire and this week captured the Championship goal of the month award for February aswell as also being earlier nominated in the ‘player’ category. Neal Maupay is becoming a cult hero to rival the best of those we’ve seen over the years as he mixes fighting spirit with goals. His 20 in the league, to date, is a figure beaten only by a small clutch of players and the crowd love him. Sergi is once more playing like the Sergi of old. Romaine is the absolute unsung hero of the side. The choice of wing backs and three centre backs is giving both added protection in along with another option of being able to turn defence into attack. 

The squad is about as full strength as one could hope for at this point in the season. Rico Henry remains absent whilst, of course, Daniel Bentley is a casualty of that game at Middlesbrough. Luke Daniels came in for the Sheffield United game and Thomas has already confirmed he’ll be starting again today. We’ve all see what Luke can do over the last couple of seasons and he can, perhaps, count himself unlucky not to have been given a chance earlier on this tie around. The life of a goalkeeper must be a frustrating one at times.

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Saïd, Neal and the team are providing goals and smiles

So it all sounds very promising for The Bees but let’s not forget the small matter of our visitors. West Brom almost pulled off an 11th hour stay of execution from Premier League relegation last time out and they’ve picked up where they left off. At least, in terms of position. The play off zone has been an almost constant feature this time out, something that their illustrious neighbours (please note, your definition of illustrious may vary) have really struggled with in recent seasons following their own demotions from the top flight. Aston Villa and Birmingham City, I’m looking at you. 

Dwight Gayle is still banging them in, sitting just behind Neal in the Championship goal scorers table. He has managed 3 from his last 2 games against The Bees and will no doubt be looking to improve on that today. The run of results that saw Darren Moore pushed out was immediately reversed with that 3-0 defeat of Swansea City. If nothing else, could the change of manager (given what many fans were describing as confusing tactics) and the huge slice of luck in ‘that penalty’ prove pivotal in lifting them back to a position of being promotion favourites ?

All is forgiven, Marcello…

My heart says ‘home win’ today. Brentford have been on fire, especially at Griffin Park, whilst West Bromwich Albion are still dusting themselves down after the upheaval and wayward performances of the last few weeks. Yet with the visitors looking to lock down their play-off position and the Bees still with hopes of ghosting up the table to sixth, could pressure and expectation be the biggest factors here? Will the winning team be the one the handles this the best? Or will Thomas Frank have more of those wonderful motivational cards up his sleeve to inspire the team and the fans to another home win?

I’m just the numpty on the terrace and have no means of being able to answer that with any form of accuracy. But I tell you what, I can’t wait for kick off to find out how this one is going to go. It promises to be as exciting a game as any we’ve had to date.

Roll on 3pm. See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

This is Saunders territory. And an apology to Doctor Who

16 Jan

I need to begin today’s column with an apology following yesterday’s piece on the contretemps between Daily Mirror chief sport’s writer Oliver Holt and one Brentford fanatic (something the Mirror man was very sporting about later). Specifically to West Bromwich Albion, Gerry Francis and fans of BBC sci-fi. The article included a picture of the newest addition to the Baggies’ coaching staff, comparing him to ‘late 60’s Doctor Who’.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

BBC Billy has me worried about the Adidas shirt

3 May

I hadn’t planned a Brentford column this morning (too excited about the game) until Billy Reeves sent me a link to a story about the alleged new West Bromwich Albion kit for next season. I say alleged – it hasn’t been officially released although a quick trawl of the interweb suggests this is all but certain.

However, I note this because Brentford, like West Bromwich Albion, share a technical sponsor in Adidas. Brentford, like West Bromwich Albion, have a traditional shirt design of alternating stripes (the removal of which from the reverse has caused some recent controversy).

And West Brom, like Southampton before them, seem set to ditch the thick stripes for a plain shirt, offset by there merest hint of pin stripe.

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Are these West Brom’s shirts for next season?

Theoretically still stripes, but a marketing man’s wet dream as they now have a shirt ‘more likely to go with jeans and be worn causally‘ i.e. not just in the football ground. Instead, what you have is more urinating on club heritage and a team that, rather, could now look like a poor man’s Fulham.

And it has made me realise, again, that team kit is not just about the colours but also the principle design. Of course, there are going to be variants on the latter and even Brentford had two season’s of the thinner version – that made us look as though we played in pink from a distance of anything over five yard away. But, by and large, the shirt has been predominantly red and white striped.

Imagine Celtic playing in all green, Peru ditching their sash or the Loftus Road mob dropping the hoops (actually, that wouldn’t surprise me in the pursuit of boosting Harry’s transfer kitty but who cares)

We haven’t seen next season’s, Championship, design as yet. That is anticipated in June, according to a recent twitter post from Mark Devlin , but now I am desperately hoping that the Adidas marketing men haven’t tried to lead us down a plain-fronted rabbit hole.

I am confident we won’t be going that way. If nothing else, the 125th anniversary of the club will, more likely, see something über-traditional whilst teabag-gate has, surely, made the Griffin Park top brass aware of fan feeling. However, until I see it I can’t be sure.

Whatever we’ve picked though, it’s too late. I’m nervous but excited about the big reveal and, perhaps, hoping West Brom have a third kit.

With the Baggies only four points above the relegation trapdoor, if their home shirt is all white and away shirt all red, what are they going to wear at Griffin Park next season?

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The Bees have had thin stripes, teabags and old favourites – but what for 2014?