Tag Archives: Ban the band

After shocks in the the cup, could Bees now follow suit in the league?

21 Feb

With all the talk currently about FA Cup upsets – Arsenal beating Sutton United and Lincoln City recording that famous win up at Turf Moor being the pick of the fifth round shocks  – one could be forgiven for overlooking the Championship. Yet it continues to come at us faster and furiouser (is that even a word?) than Vin Diesel in a souped up Dodge Charger. Tonight is no exception as Brentford face the gruelling trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

A midweek visit to Hillsborough really is about as hard as it can get for Dean Smith and his Bees. Despite reverting to a more traditional back four and a much more attacking shape, the problems have now started to appear at the back where Brentford have shipped 10 goals in the last three league games. Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, know that a win tonight will take them up to third place in the Championship table.

Whilst Newcastle United, who won again last night against Aston Villa, and Brighton seem to have the top two slots locked down, anything is still possible. And with the pair of them meeting next Tuesday at the Amex. something has to give there shortly. Wednesday will be chomping at the bit for a chance to slip in between them when that happens.

Will Dean stick or twist? His reshuffle has won the plaudits but, sadly, it doesn’t seem to be winning that many games. Despite the hugely impressive performances against Aston Villa and Brighton, both Preston and Wigan were games we could well have won yet, despite scoring twice and leading in each, have thrown them away with a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst I’m all for this new look team set up – and hope we stick to it against divisional whipping boys Rotherham United on Saturday – perhaps discretion is the better part of valour tonight. If not in terms of playing five defenders then, perhaps , a personnel switch to add some muscle to the middle (calling Mr McCormack) or maybe he’ll accommodate the return of John Egan / Yoann Barbet.

One thing is for sure. With ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes now plying his trade for Sheffield Wednesday and doing what he does best (i.e. scoring goals) any mistakes will be punished by a team looking to consolidate their place in the play-offs.

image

Once a Bee; now an Owl

Brentford’s task will be made all the harder by this game having been moved to a midweek due to our involvement in the FA Cup fourth round. For logistical reasons alone, expect fewer Bees fans to travel. The train isn’t an option (unless you stop over) whilst work gets in the way for many. Hats off to those making the effort tonight, that’s for sure. I salute you and wish I could be there. Instead, it is Mark Burridge and Beesplayer for me.

The other hurdle to overcome will, of course, be ‘that band’. Regular readers know the drill at this juncture and although oft repeated, they can’t be allowed to pass without a brief mention. Off key renditions of ‘seven nation army’ or ‘The Italian job’ washed down with Bernie Clifton’s jingoistic greatest hits are no replacement for an atmosphere. Let’s hope those that do travel are of loud voice.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

That. Band. Never forget.

The bookies have Wednesday as odds on favourites. The Bees are close to 4/1 to come away with the points. There’s more chance of finding a role of sellotape in our local Morrisons than of Brentford recording a win, if club sponsor 888 are to be believed.

Wednesday are good, no question. But Brentford aren’t 18/5 bad and one thing we have in us is goals. After a weekend of shocks in the cup, could we now see the bookies upset in the league?

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-05-30-59

 

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

When push comes to shove – The Last Word on….

26 Aug

Brentford host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and so, as part of the big match build up, we’ll move on from talk of Alan Judge to Newcastle United and look at our next opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and today Wednesday are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Without the benefit of any super computer, I’m having to rely on my somewhat scattergun knowledge for this category. That, certainly, something which accounts for Stan Bowles missing out last time in the Nottingham Forest article. Sorry, Stan. And whilst I’m sure that similar gaps will appear this time around, a few names do spring immediately to mind.

There’s Deon Burton, whose time at the Bees included that epic season under Martin Allen in 2004/05 where his goals in a 2-1 win and 3-3 draw with Wednesday helped us towards an eventual play-off semi final place…..

How about his teammate Michael Turner? One of the classiest centre backs to ever grace Griffin Park and somebody who was last seen at the Owls during the previous campaign whilst on loan from Norwich City.

But the choice of standout name boils down to one of two Andys. Sinton was THE man at Griffin Park back in the late 80s. Back to back supporters player of the year in 86/87 and 87/88 he was an almost constant feature in his three seasons. Attacking play and goals were the order of the day as his form played a key role in our epic 88/89 FA Cup run the that would eventually end at Liverpool in the quarter finals. A transfer to QPR would follow where international recognition (12 England caps) and his move to Sheffield Wednesday came next. One of the all time Brentford legends.

But, for me, when you mention Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday there is one name that always strings to mind  – Andy McCulloch. 48 goals in 127 league games for the Bees from 76- 79 were match by an almost identical record at Hillsborough where he notched 44 in 125 following his transfer.

And it is that transfer which, in Andy’s own words, is one of the more unusual in the annals of football history footballing

It was a classic. I scored a header at Griffin Park and had my nose broken. I was on a stretcher, going into the dressing room and Ian St. John, who was at Sheffield Wednesday, pointed to me as I’m going in the door and said , “would you fancy coming to Sheffield Wednesday?” At Brentford –after I had just scored a goal. He tapped me up!

The deal was completed on the camera gantry  at Wembley stadium with their manager Jack Charlton. Andy explaining , “It was before a Scotland-England game, I think . I’d gone up there just to meet Jackie. It was the only way of meeting him in London.”

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees). Our return to the Championship hasn’t seen great results. Last season, in particular, seeing us lucky to escape from Hillsborough having only gone down 4-0 after Yoann Barbet was shown the red card just five minutes into the game.

Instead, we’ll look at the aforementioned 2005/05campaign under Martin Allen. Again, the result was an equally painful one but, for a time, the prospect of playing Wednesday was nothing but the ultimate in excitement.

Having already seen a wonderful FA Cup campaign that finally saw us go out in a fifth round replay to Premier League Southampton, knockout football held no worries. And so we approached our play-off semi final with Wednesday in high spirits. A 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough soon took the wind out of those sails with the home team taking the lead on 12 minutes and never giving us a look in.

The return match at Griffin Park saw the Bees go down 2-1. Even then, Andy Frampton’s goal was nothing more than a very late consolation. Hardly a highlight in our history but one noted to remind us of the pain suffered in this end of season lottery. Moreso, given the hope that one day we will get it right. One day….

Favourite son  (their most famous former player ). The 80s and early 90s were, in particular, a time where the name Sheffield Wednesday evoked nothing but the best imagery. Mr Tom was on their shirt whilst the likes of Lee Chapman and the free scoring David Hirst were on the pitch. To that mix you can add Des Walker (who, of course, featured in this category last time out for Nottingham Forest and Chris Waddle although the latter was sadly bereft of ‘that’ mullet by this point.

From the more recent era, two names spring to mind for the neutral.  Benito Carbone channeled the spirit of Chris Waddle with exciting play, long, long hair and even his iconic ‘Alice band’. Yet it was another Italian who scoops the honours this time around.  Paolo Di Canio.

The club’s top scorer in 1997-98 and a firm fan favourite (apologies for the sub-Chronicle alliteration) he won their player of the year award that season. However, it was the following campaign that secured his cult status when he received an 11 match ban for pushing referee Paul Alcock over during a match against Arsenal.

Nobody could deny it was a flash of unjustifiable temper from the temperamental genius. Yet, at the same time, Alcock’s comedy pratfall certainly added to the seriousness with which the incident would be viewed

And the oscar for best fallover following a shove goes to…

Famous fan. Fast becoming a personal favourite category in this feature, Sheffield Wednesday don’t let us down when it comes to their celebrity supporters.

The biggest names here would seem to be the Arctic Monkeys – all of them, apparently. A fact further emphasised by the fact you normally see them described as ‘Sheffield band….’

Cricket’s Michael Vaughan and former England captain is also an Owl as is, of  all people, singer Jermaine Jackson. The one time Jackson 5 star supposedly began following the club in the late 80s and even wrote a song for last campaign’s play-off defeat to Hull City AFC.

Yet it wouldn’t be The Last Word without mentioning ‘That band’ . If not celebrities, they are certainly recognised faces.

Their moribund parping and off-key trumpeting, so long the bane of England international fixtures, also features at Hillsborough. Flaccid renditions of ’Love will tear us apart’ or their jingoistic movie medley “The Great Escape/Italian job’ being the last thing anybody outside of this self-appointed ‘supporters band’ wants to hear.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

That band. With Trevor Francis (inset)

Best Ever League Performance. In terms of pure scoreline, a simple one this week. Any excuse to crank out the brackets and a 9-1 victory over Birmingham City at Hillsborough back in December 1930 saw the Owls easily cruise past the 7(seven) goal mark

Moment of ignominy – ( what it says – opposite to above). I could pick ‘that band’ but we’re bigger than that.

Likewise, in terms of pure results then going back over a century to October 1912 saw Wednesday go down 10-1 at Aston Villa. In recent years, Villa have struggled to score 10 goals in an entire season let alone in one game

But the turn of this century saw them go on an eight game First Division (second tier) losing streak that lasted over a month: 9 September until 17 October saw their form guide read: LLLLLLLL. Beginning with a 0-5 home humping at the hands of Wimbledon, a Steve Harkness goal finally brought this dismal run to an end with a 1-0 win over Birmingham. Incredibly, they stayed up.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Howard Wilkinson ? Big Ron? Erm. Move along, nothing to see here. Whilst the purist will likely go for Wilkinson, for me  you can’t knock the achievements of Trevor Francis.

Taking over as player-manager with the team back in the top flight, he lead them to third place in the league in 1992 and, with it, a hard-earned UEFA cup place. There was no entry to the league of fake Champions for coming third or fourth then.

His Wednesday team then took part in the first ever Premier League where they came 7th (seventh). However, the season was as notable for a double Wembley appearance where they reached the finals of bot the League and FA cup.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). First division champions in the ‘20s. The wonder years under Francis. Wednesday even won the League cup through the wisdom and guidance of Big Ron. Yet, for me all this pails into insignificance compared to the greatest thing not to come out of Sheffield.

That band doesn’t travel.

Nick Bruzon

ITV almost nail it on a stunning first night. Almost…

11 Jun

EURO 2016 has begun! What a night in Paris as things finally got under way with the hosts taking on Romania. Over the next four weeks, the Last Word goes a touch continental. Well, as continental as you can from a sofa in front of the TV in Brentford. Much as I’d love to be joining the likes of Billy and Dave from Beesotted in France, this is as close as it gets. I’ll leave the Russian hooligans, drunken England fans, Marseille ultras and reactive police to them ( their site is sure to be a very interesting place over the next few weeks). Instead, as ever, we look as much at ‘the other stuff’ as the serious

7pm, Friday night. Here we go. It’s an hour until kick off. Beer in hand, sofa groaning and remote control in hand. ITV, here we come….

But no. It wasn’t football. With the tournament due to start in 59 minutes, instead of Gallic charm I got Emmerdale Farm. Instead of Glen Hoddle I had a drunk driving a JCB into a farm house, followed by some shouting from the woman who used to be Lizzie Conlon in Dream Team.

Wow. People actually watch this for pleasure? Where was Clive Tyldesley when we needed him?

Fifteen minutes later, ITV finally delivered. The mayhem of farming life was replaced by a sumptuous set of opening credits featuring many of the tournament’s big names and Wayne Rooney, vacationing in a series of 20’s style tourism posters.

Buffon was juggling in the kitchen and we even got a cheeky wink from Cristiano Ronaldo in his, brackets free, number 7(seven) sports car.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 07.09.00

Ronaldo looking sharp on ITV

And that was just the start.

Cut from there to the slightly less salubrious image of Lee Dixon, Slaven Bilić and Emmanuel Petit. ITV having chosen to switch the traditional studio for a Paris roof top to begin their outside broadcast. Albeit with a wonderful backdrop.

Considering the rain that had gripped the French Capital in recent weeks, it was a brave choice. Moreso given the reaction offered to anybody in football seen within 10 yards of an umbrella.

Since Steve McClaren did his ‘wally with the brolly’ thing for England against Croatia back in 2007, being seen to protect yourself from the elements has been an act akin to being caught with the Super Victor toy in your hand luggage.

ITV had adopted for a pundit’s table that had four legs meant to resemble those of the city’s most famous landmark. A lovely touch until Bilić sat directly in front of it, giving him the appearance of Eiffel Tower legs.

Ckm_DIdWsAAmC9x

Wonderful backdrop; strange trousers

Cut to the Tower itself, where roving reporters Louis Saha and tennis player Marion Bartoli seemed in what could politely be described as ‘high spirits’. “Allez Les Bleus” exhorted the former Wimbledon champion, in a performance that suggested she may share Maria Sharapova’s medical team. Hey, let’s just say they were both high on life or just drinking in what was clearly an incredible atmosphere.

13 minutes prior to kick off the opening ceremony started. Started! They should have been packing up by this point, not tempting Clive to utter lines such as “The French are famous for their kisses” as an anthropomorphic pair of lips sauntered past the camera.

The central prop, a carousel, was odds-on to have a big reveal. Sure enough, as the can can girls moved on it opened to present none other than Emmanuel Petit, who must have hot footed it down from the ITV rooftop . But no, on closer inspection it was actually Disc Jockey David Guetta, singing along to the songs he was ‘playing’. As one Twitter observer notes, “Where’s Sacha Distel?

The sheer volume of the home support sining the national anthem and a stunning fly past from the French Air Force really were the cherry on this opening ceremony cake. All we needed was Diana Ross, or perhaps Vanessa Paradis, to miss a penalty for a bingo ‘full house’.

They hadn’t even begun clearing up wit the players came out for the anthems but, incredibly, we were go for ‘8pm’. And then Glen Hoddle opened his mouth.

All the good work ITV had done came crashing down in an instant. Not even a wonderful game of football – and what a winner from Dimitri Payet at the death – could detract for his ongoing banality. The commentating equivalent of the England Supporter’s band. I’d rather have had Lizzie Conlon’s ranting.

Having jettisoned Adrain Chiles, its a shame they still persist with the one time England manager. Perhaps its just me.

A great start to a great tournament but with ITV again tonight for the England – Russia game, let’s hope Wayne proves me wrong and Glenn keeps as quiet as I’d love that band to be.

Nick Bruzon 

Out of tune and out of touch but who looks good in green?

3 Jun

We’ve got a bumper Last Word today. England took on Portugal last night in their final warm up game ahead of EURO 2016. Whilst I promised we’d drop the Brentford ‘green shirt’ stuff, there is an 11th hour addendum from one supporter which Bees fans may find of interest. And on the subject, we look at the top ten green shirts of all time. From Plymouth to Palmeiras and Carlisle to Panathinaikos, can anybody make this under used colour look good?

But first, England. Whereas I’d normally say they “entertained Portugal last night” rather than “took on”, anybody who saw the game will know there’d have been more entertainment in an episode of Hale and Pace (kids, ask your dads. Actually, don’t. Spare them the pain).

The 1-0 win at Wembley was an experience that many found uninspiring, out of touch with the occasion and somewhat flat. An indication of the pain that awaits supporters over the next few weeks unless something changes and fast. ITV nailed it, by accident, in the commentary with the observation that, “This is Dier”.

But enough about the England supporter’s band.

Look, it wasn’t the best game by any stretch of the imagination. The red card for Bruno Alves, channelling his inner Eric Cantona with a crazy challenge on Harry Kane, hardly helped proceedings as both teams had to adjust to playing 11 on 10 for most of the game. If you want a full match report then, as ever, other sources are the place to go. However, if you want a full match report in two tweets then we’ve got it here c/o DJ’s Andy Bush and Conor McNamara.

Bush and CM twitter

I’m still no closer to knowing who Roy will start with against Russia next Saturday but at least we can now look forward to the tournament with no other distractions. The one week countdown is underway, the wall chart is on the fridge and Will Grigg is, apparently, still on fire (if he manages to score, ‘that song’ is just going to become interminable).

After that, the rest just comes naturally. Sit back, grab a beer, prepare the ‘butt groove’ in the sofa and enjoy a month of bonus football that we wouldn’t get in a normal ‘closed season’. Hey, if nothing else it might distract from endless rumours and talk of “Bees boss set for double transfer swoop”. All being well, it might even extinguish Will Grigg. No offence to the former Bee but I’m half expecting ‘that band’ to add ‘that song’ to their repertoire.

Next up, Brentford. More specfically, the  last word on our wearing green (unless, of course, somebody actually manages to unearth a picture of that adidas shirt). Supporter   Geoff Buckingham has been in touch about when, and why, Brentford first wore this most unusual of colours :

It was due to a motor coach not turning up !

It happened in the grim days of January 1974, when the club were close to bottom of The Football League, the country was gripped by the Miner’s Strike and ‘The Three Day’ week, and funds at Griffin Park were very tight indeed. To make matters worse, on a freezing cold 12th Jan.the Brentford team coach did not show up at the meeting point for the trip to bottom of the table Doncaster Rovers.This meant a hurried change of plan, and the players had to quickly sort out cars and drive themselves up to Doncaster. 

If that was not bad enough, one of them, winger Barry Salvage, got nicked for speeding on the return journey. As for the kit we had to borrow them from Slough Town FC. The shirts were indeed green, but with pink numbers on the back!

Anyway, the green shirts brought Brentford a bit of luck as the Bees won the match 2-1 , with a brace from ex Bognor Regis deckchair attendant Andy Woon ( you could not make this up,could you?!)

That win, in front of 3009 perishingly cold spectators, was Brentford’s only victory in a 14 game spell. But it was enough to lift the Bees up to third from bottom, and was actually a crucial two points, as we finished the season just two points above the Division 4 bottom four re-election places! 

Thanks, Geoff. And no more so than because talk of pink and green allows me to get out the industrial sized crowbar as we segue into : ‘the top ten green shirts of all time’.

This, a research topic I’ve undertaken simply down to the fact that, whilst most Brentford fans seemed quite keen on the idea (if you believe social media), one New Road observer contacted me to say: “Glad we’re not getting the hideous green kit this season but seems nailed on for next time.”

Is green hideous?   Unusual, for sure. But hideous? It’s one view and who am I to judge? Instead, let the world of football fashion be your guide….

carlisle away 1993

Carlisle away 1993

10) Carlise away 1993. Accused by many of resembling a deckchair, this cult classic even has a hint of red and white. If Matthew Benham and co are keen on the green, could this give inspiration for 2017? Bonus points always awarded for anything made by the much missed ‘Matchwinner’

 

 

mexico-home-football-shirt-1996-1998-s_3660_1

Mexico 1996 – wow

9) Mexico 1996. It’s one thing having some discreet design added to your shirt but Mexico didn’t hold back on the subtly when it came to embracing their heritage back in 1996. It’s bold, I’ll give you that. I love it!

 

 

 

La Hoya Lorca Broccoli

La Hoya – delicious design

8) La Hoya Lorca 2013/14. We’ve featured the Spanish lower division side’s kit on these pages many times over the years. And rightly so, given they’ve modelled it on the broccoli that signifies their agricultural heartland.

 

 

 

hibernian-home-football-shirt-1989-1990-s_11221_1

Green Arsenal?

7) Hibernian 1989/90. It’s made by Adidas and it just looks awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

St Etienne 1981

St. Etienne add a certain, I don’t know what but it’s good

6) St. Etienne 1981/82. How can you honestly say this isn’t stylish? I’ll even forgive the non-matching collar and cuffs, such is the French chic on offer in this classic Le Coq Sportif template.

 

 

 

 

palmeiras-home-football-shirt-1979-1980-s_10742_1

classic adidas

5) Palmeiras 1979/ 80.  The boys from Brazil kept it simple for this adidas effort. But then again, why mess around when simple equates to style?

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth 1984

Plymouth show that green can look good

4) Plymouth 1984/85. Much like the Palmeiras effort although with the addition of the discreet pinstripe that just screamed ’80’s football shirt’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panathinaikos 2008

Modern is good, too

3) Panathinaikos 2008/09. Another Adidas shirt. Another stunner. Even the sponsor and other branding is done sympathetically

 

 

 

 

Pink-Green-Real-Betis-Kit (2)

It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

2) Real Betis 2015/16. We love women on these pages. Not in a mysogynistic style but more to celebrate how at Brentford we have such a diverse fanbase. So it’s nice to include a wonderful effort from Spain as Betis took things one step further than even the Bees, creating a special shirt in order to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman.

 

 

cameroun 1990

My favourite green shirt of all time

1) Cameroon 1990. Roger Milla. Upset after upset as the Indomitable Lions almost got to the semi finals ahead of England. That foul by Benjamin Massing on Claudio Cannigia. Oh, and one of the most iconic shirts in World football. Adidas have done it again.

 

 

 

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

book 3 and 4 cover

Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

 

As one door closes, another opens

14 May

Friday was a day of both sadness and celebration. On the down side, shocked fans and families were coming to terms with the announcement about the Brentford Academy ‘restructure’ .The positive of the day, certainly on a personal note, was the admission of Gibraltar (along with Kosovo) into FIFA. On pitch, Sergi Canos could make a shock Liverpool debut whilst it is advantage Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship play-off with Brighton.

First up, the Academy. Today’s column is not to criticise the club for this decision. Putting aside the huge emotional aspect for the individuals involved, one can only assume this isn’t one that they have taken lightly. Or at least, I hope not.

The Academy was much heralded as part of our future model upon opening. It was a set up that, rightly, all at Brentford FC  seemed proud of. The supporters and community, likewise.

And now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it is all over.

Having read and re-read the somewhat wooly ‘official statement’ I’m still not 100% clear as to the full reasoning or, certainly, why it was made so quickly. Likewise, how the alternative will work in terms of finding players?

Cost, lack of end product, viability, competition and a belief that alternate methods will work better all seem to be contributory with the financials being the primary driver on that first part. Certainly if you are to read lines such as :

We cannot outspend the vast majority of our competitors

and

Moreover, the development of young players must make sense from a business perspective. The review has highlighted that, in a football environment where the biggest Premier League clubs seek to sign the best young players before they can graduate through an Academy system, the challenge of developing value through that system is extremely difficult.”

So what has suddenly changed?

There wasn’t a hint of a mention when Rasmus gave his ‘state of the nation’ video address prior to the Huddersfield Town game. Likewise, as has been well identified on social media, the club even paraded some ‘future Bees’ on the pitch at half time in the 3-0 win over Fulham. That was just two weeks ago.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 06.51.38

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

I cannot for one second believe we would be so heartless as to do that to our youth. Whilst the parade of the Under 8-s has an unfortunate reminder of Marinus being put in front of the fans where we were told everything was going well, before being sacked just days later, this leak (along with the subsequent statement) has more than a whiff of Village-gate.

Equally, how do the press get hold of these internal stories? Why are our ‘official statements’ so poorly written? Is somebody purposely leaking this information to do our dirty work for us and, almost, prepare fans for the worst ?

Like it or not, this is a decision the club have made. I’m just desperately hoping that we have some form of follow up to further clarify matters. The press love a ‘bad news’ story whilst supporters are upset. As Bob Hoskins so famously said, “It’s good to talk“.

OK – Gibraltar. Exciting news !! UEFA’s Team 54 are now Team 211 in FIFA after football’s world governing body last night accepted their application to join by an overwhelming majority. Members at the annual congress in Mexico City (it’s never Blackpool or Grimsby) voted 172 – 12 to allow them in. Presumably 11 others going (again) with Spain in voting ‘against’.

Understandably , if not quite “dancing on the streets of Raith” , social media was awash with excitement, celebration and congratulations for FIFA’s newest member. Whilst there is now hope that Gibraltar can be parachuted into one of the World Cup qualifying groups for Russia 2018 before that kicks off, I’m just pleased to have a ‘feel good’ story coming out of FIFA.

Congratulations Gibraltar. Here’s to that first qualifying point. See you in ……?

Gibraltar bots and bag

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start life as FIFA team 211.

And on the subject of ‘feel good’, could Sergi Canos make his Anfied debut on Sunday as the Premier League season comes to an end? With Liverpool taking part in the Europa League final against Sevilla on Wednesday evening, I’d imagine that Jürgen Klopp may make ‘a couple’ of changes for the weekend’s game with West Brom.

I’m still desperately hoping that Sergi comes back to Griffin Park next season (one can only live in hope) but I’d love to see how he goes in the top flight. It was a privilege to watch Sergi’s career blossom at Griffin Park and he certainly ended the season on fire. The Premier League title and relegation have been decided but there may still be more intrigue to come.

Next up, Sheffield Wednesday. They lead Brighton 2-0 after the first leg of their play-off semi final. I only know that from reading the Internet. Having  turned on to watch after Coronation Street had finished (don’t ask) I turned promptly off.

Being greeted by ‘That band’ massacring ‘Oldham’s song’ will do that to you.

This summer’s  EURO 2016 finals could make painful viewing.

And finally, a HUGE thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). These are both available now.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 05.02.22

Goal of the season winner Sergi (and Gibraltar) both feature

Nick Bruzon

Beam me up, Scotty. Kit mystery solved

30 Mar

After all the excitement of Germany and Liechtenstein, it was back to normal on the International front last night. England and Gibraltar both lost (Netherlands and Latvia respectively) but, as ever, that really isn’t the focus. And a bit closer to home Griffin Park rocked to the sound of a 4-2 win for the Brentford development squad.

But we start at Wembley and, primarily, the England game. After the horror show of ‘that away kit’ in Berlin against Germany, we were treated to the first outing of the new ‘home’ version. Please note: your definition of treated may vary from Nike’s.

Wow. Having seen the press release shots, nothing could prepare us for just quite how bad this was in action. Whilst the figure hugging look sits fine on professional athletes, I fear for the ‘man in the pub’. But it wasn’t even that, the colour scheme is just vomit inducing.

Those lurid red socks, the blue stripe down the side and,of course, those bonkers coloured sleeves. Clearly part of the current Nike template, I was thinking that had it been available in long sleeves then the shirt would have looked like an offset from TV’s Space: 1999 (kids, ask your parents).

Koenig

Did England take kit inspiration from Space: 1999?

But, no. It wasn’t Gerry Anderson’s under-rated sci-fi classic where they seem to have taken inspiration from. Talking to one terrace wag about this theory, he then put another one to me.

Forget Moonabse Alpha, think Captain Kirk (and this wasn’t a reference to Wayne Rooney’s dodgy hairpiece). The new England shirt looked like it had been beamed straight off the set of 1979’s Star Trek:The Motion Picture.

I’m all for modern shirts looking like something from the 1970s. Any reader of the ‘kit obsessive’ articles in the Brentford match day programme will be aware of this. Likewise, and much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin, I’m partial to the odd bit of TV nerdery.

But whilst the thought of combining the two might seem like music to the ears, in reality it is a complete car crash of a kit. The England supporter’s band of shirt design, if you will.

StarTrekTMP01

Dodgy hair; dodgy kits. Star Trek: The Motion Picture

And talking of football’s most unwelcome guests, the off-key parping and stale trumpets were back again last night. Blah. The regular reader knows the drill by now – I’ll spare you another rant on there being more atmosphere on the moon than listening to moribund renditions of ‘The Great Escape’.

Dear FA. Nobody cares. They add nothing. They aren’t wanted. They wallow in delusions of self-importance. If you must inflict this horrible mess on us (kit) at least spare us a second and ‘ban the band’ for the Euros.

As for a final thought on the game last night, did ITV encourage us to “Gamble responsibly, drink recklessly?” The quote from the commentary team, just moments into the second half, seemed loud and clear to me. I know being sat next to Glenn Hoddle and forced to listen to ‘that band’ would be enough to turn you to drink but was this really sage advice to be handing out?

Still, all this is small fry compared to the action from Griffin Park earlier in the afternoon where the Brentford development squad had swept aside Barnsley 4-2. It was a comprehensive performance from the youngsters who, being honest, could really have inflicted brackets on their opponents – such was the level of our domination.

But to complain about only scoring four goals would be trite. It was just nice to get that winning feeling back at Griffin Park after what has been a particularly bleak 2016. Nathan Fox hit a sweet strike to follow up Bradley Clayton’s first half brace whilst Herson Alves hit the pick of the bunch with a curling beauty that put one in mind of a certain Alan Judge.

And on a personal note, a huge thank you to Mark Devlin and the Brentford family. Whilst yours truly was more than happy with the result, somebody else was chuffed to bit with a special appearance from Buzz.

THANK YOU

IMG_4308 (2)

Buzz does his thing in a special guest appearance

Nick Bruzon

ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 19.02.18

As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

Vintage-england-away-football-shirt-top-umbro-rare-classic2_1024x1024

No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

95120466_Jim_205862c

Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

As Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley stories gather pace, what’s actually happening?

5 Jan

Two days in to the dreaded transfer window period and already Brentford have been deluged with rumours and stories concerning our star players. Alan Judge and James Tarkowski have, supposedly, both been attracting interest from Burnley whilst the former has also been the subject of a derisory  bid from Sheffield Wednesday.

I’m not a massive fan of discussing transfer rumours but even by normal standards the silly season has started early. And ignoring them won’t make anything just ‘go away’. Moreso when you look at the sources. Everybody from Sky Sports to the West London websites and Beesotted have jumped on the Judge ‘story’.

I take the piece from Beesotted most seriously of all. Dave and Billy seem to have that incredible knack of knowing the right people behind the scenes and winkling out the facts from any story. Whilst I’d don’t take everything they say as 100% Gospel, recent seasons have shown us that they invariably get it right. When other sources are chucking enough mud in the hope that some sticks (followed by an “as exclusively revealed….”), the Beesotted boys generally sort the wheat from the chaff.

And their article suggests that Sheffield Wednesday have offered to triple Alan’s wages which, if correct, one would think is something that currently we’d struggle to get close to. Whilst, of course, Brentford are not obliged to sell this season’s top performer, those sort of figures are sure to turn anybody’s head and make having to listen to ‘that band’ every week almost bearable.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

Any new player at Hillsborough will have to listen to this

With Burnley also reported to be after Alan, I can only see this heading to a similar bidding war as the one we saw between the Clarets and Hull City over Andre Gray during the summer. How it turns out will be a very interesting test of both Brentford’s resolve and plans aswell as the player’s own personal preferences. I have no insight on either factor so, rather than speculate, can only sit and wait for the next move. And it’s not a comfortable position to be in.

Burnley have, of course, also been lined with James Tarkowski. This after fears that Michael Keane would be on his way to Everton. However, with The Lancashire Telegraph now claiming that aswell as having a bid for James turned down, Burnley will be hanging on to Keane (“I’m going nowhere” is his purported quote) could that one die down ?

The Tarkowski story was one also reported by Beesotted (via their Northern ‘contacts’) and so seems to be one doing the rounds up that way, too. But, again, there’s nothing us regular fans can do about it apart from sit tight and wait to see what happens next or who Burnley are linked with. At this rate, I’d fancy them to go sniffing after Nick Proschwitz, such is their fascination with everything Brentford.

Tarkowski post Bristol City

Tarks – hopefully us Bees fans will have better days, too

And, as ever, there is nothing out of Griffin Park. On the one hand I fully respect their stance of refusing to comment on speculation. There’s no point in adding fuel to any fire. On the other, the days of sticking your head in the sand are long gone.

The Internet makes information available at the drop of a hat and people are happy to share it, read it or speculate on it in a bid to generate headlines, satisfy their own desire to ‘be in the know’ and stir up sales. I can only imagine agents to be sitting back and rubbing their hands at present.

The alternative is we come out and make a definitive statement. To say that the club have had bids (or not) but have turned them down. That we have no need or intention to sell and both players are under contract. That we’re building this side to push for the Premier League and have no desire to sell a key player to a play-off rival.

Of course, that will never happen. It’s just not the way we operate and comms haven’t exactly been our strong point in recent years – who could forget the ‘success’ of Village-gate or the Marinus debacle? Besides, when money is involved and the window has another four weeks to run, such a statement would be as valuable as the Chairman’s ‘vote of confidence’.

But like it or not, the fans have read the stories. The websites and news outlets are talking about them. It would be nice to see us at least try.

Until then, we’ve got an FA Cup game to think about on Saturday. I can’t imagine either player will feature (and only because of the chaotic calendar that sees 3 games in 6 days). But you can bet your  bottom dollar what conclusions people will draw from that.

Press day at the Brentford media centre could be an interesting one this week.

CX50io0WMAIRHFh

The  Internet makes ‘hiding in the sand’ a tough option for the likes of Rasmus, Phil and the media/comms teams

 

Nick Bruzon

Strip tease continues as FA tell Barlow to ‘Take That’

1 Jun

What a Sunday – football just gets better and better. With Brentford releasing another ‘teaser’ image of their shirt over the weekend ahead of Monday’s launch, I feel more confident than ever we are in for a good one. And then, to round off the great news, word is spreading on the internet that Gary Barlow’s ‘Greatest Day’ has been dropped by the FA as the official England song at the forthcoming World Cup.

I’d said my piece on this when the news of the England song’s selection was first announced. You can read it in full, here, although the salient points were:

“Rather than the much touted prospect of Kasabian, fans are to be treated to a cover version of a Take That effort – Greatest Day. Despite the sheer laziness of having Gary Barlow (a man who comes over as so bland he’d probably have England play in beige) re-record his own song, worryingly he is accompanied by a seemingly random selection of other singers.

These include, in no particular order: Emma Bunton, Kimberley out of ‘Girls Aloud’, and ‘Sporty’ Spice Mel C – hey, she likes football and sings so why not? Then we get in to the realms of ‘who’ with the likes of Katy B ( I’m not sure if this is the comedian of ‘Big Ass’ fame) and someone/thing called an Eliza Doolittle (presumably a singer/band the kidz would recognise, rather than the character from ‘My Fair Lady’).

In footballing tradition, the England football team also join in. Except, they don’t. Instead, the sporting contingent (Mel C aside) is made up of ex-Internationals, with everybody from Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and former Brentford player Kenny Sansom participating. I’m not sure why the current squad won’t be appearing on this , probably contractual, but I quite like the thought of Steven Gerrard trying to recreate the John Barnes rap.”

Whoever is picked in Barlow and crew’s place (does anyone have New Order’s phone number) HAS to be better than this, surely?

Just as long as they steer clear of either Robbie Williams – his ‘Let me entertain you’ being the most overplayed, and least appropriate, song in sporting history – or the (alleged) England Supporter’s band, then we should be just fine.

Painful though Barlow’s all-star cast were, the thought of Bernie Clifton and co parping through an off key version of the theme from’ The Great Escape’ might just have me reaching for the ‘off’ button.

There's no room at the (Bernie) Inn for the England Supporter's band

There’s no room at the (Bernie) Inn for the England Supporter’s band

England forsake the New Order for Dad’s Army (but good Bees news)

6 Mar

It was International night on Wednesday and, from a Brentford perspective, the great news was Marcello Trotta netting the second goal for Italy in their 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in the U-21 EURO 2015 qualifiers. Back home (and you’ll see what I did there in a minute) England beat Denmark 1-0 at the W place in North London. However, the big new was off the pitch with the announcement of out ‘official’ World Cup song .

I’m sorry, but I’m about as optimistic for the chances of the song’s Brazil 2014 success as I am about England progressing in the tournament. For the simple reason that the FA have, not for the first time, ‘played it safe’.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.