Tag Archives: Barnsley

7(seven) year old calls Championship play-off winners….

26 Jul

Here we go, again. The play-offs await. For Brentford, the Premier League is just three games away. Blocking our path, a Swansea City team that host the first leg this evening following their quite incredible overtaking of Nottingham Forest during the week. The other side of the draw sees Fulham and Cardiff City lock horns. That’s their problem, of course. All focus here has to be on the game at the Liberty Stadium.

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Brentford lock, yesterday. Swansea 0….?

Let’s be honest. Spirits can’t have been more contrasting following the end of the regular Championship campaign. For Brentford, the chance of automatic came so close and we had to be content with third place. A quite remarkable achievement over the course of a season yet still a night which ended, for so many, washed away on a sea of ifs, buts and maybes.

That’s only natural in the immediacy of the moment. Totally understandable. This is football. A place where the glass is so often half-empty and the thought of what might have been, red-raw as the referee blew for full time. Most hurting but empathising with their heroes. The odd few choosing to..well, let’s just say that perhaps rather than wallowing in self-pity and the apparent divine right to slag off their heroes some need to take a look at themselves.   

Swansea, on the other hand, will have been absolutely buzzing. Again, only natural. To be three points and -5 GD behind Forest heading into that last round of fixtures yet to still make it in to the final four will be an emotional high like no other. Moreso, given how late that final swing happened. 

Like us, they’re here on merit based on the season’s performance as a whole. Of course game 46 is that final, final chance to alter the table. But the table has been forming since August. And now it is locked in. Emotional highs and lows have been and gone. Both teams have been back on the training ground. Neither side is now beholden on other results. Control is back with us once more. We don’t need the thought of favours at the back of our mind. 

That element bemoaning the results at Stoke City and Barnsley are playing the ultimate disrespect to both teams. Stoke were turgid, no question. The ref was horrific, true. Yet they still did for us then went out and put four goals past Forest in the next game. This was a side out to prove some points and wreck some parties. As for Barnsley, look how they played in the run in. Matching Leeds United where only an o.g. separated them. Taking Forest all the way until their late, late winner. Playing with confidence and a never say die spirit against us. 

Yes, one might have expected us to win one of these ( I did, and even predicted brackets against Barnsley  – being quite truthful) but that’s not how football works. The final game was one played out in the horrible knowledge of matters elsewhere being ultimately responsible for our fate. Whether we’d won 7(seven) – 0 or lost 1-2, had West Brom got their win then it would have been the play-offs regardless. None of us are professional footballers. It’s so easy for any numpty on the terrace to say “Just concentrate on your own game” but you wouldn’t be human not be aware of the broader situation. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like.

Anyway, that’s all been and gone. We are no longer reliant on West Brom. On Huddersfield Town. On Mark Warburton and QPR. This is now done to us. We’ve two games against Swansea to focus on. If league form teaches us anything it is that Brentford have the advantage so far. Our 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium in October was followed by a 3-1 victory at Griffin Park on Boxing Day. Quite how that translates will only be seen at full time on Wednesday night once the second leg has concluded. One of these teams will be going to Wembley to face Fulham or Cardiff City.

Will it be a West London derby? An all Welsh affair? Or some combination of both. Well, for what it’s worth I’m taking comfort from the words of a seven year old. In the days leading up to the Barnsley game, all H would say to me was, “Daddy, QPR are going to draw 2-2 at West Brom”. He was utterly convinced it was going to play out like that. Now, he’s calling a Brentford – Cardiff City final. “Daddy, it’s going to be my team versus Iwan’s in the final. What a shame they can’t come up with us though.” 

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H – knows his football.

Is he on to something? Or just trying to see the positive? To help out a dad who has been through every one of our previous play-off campaigns and explained them all in excruciating detail. From Tranmere to Middlesbrough via the horrors of Stoke, Huddersfield and Crewe. Martin Allen’s double stab against Sheffield Wednesday and, err, Swansea. The frustration of Yeovil Town. My word, Yeovil. How did that work out for everyone longer term? 

Ok. So our record is worse than than the The Very Best Of Simply Red . We all know how things have turned out since our 1991 trip to Prenton Park but history counts for nothing. Not when you have the season and the players that we’ve all had the privilege to enjoy over 2019/20. In a campaign which has been the most crazy on record, wouldn’t it be just like us to finally break the ultimate hoodoo. Hey, if we can win a game after a visit from Clem or receiving the Manager of the month award then anything is possible.

Bring it on !!!! 

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Thomas and Clem prove that positivity can triumph.

Nick Bruzon

The morning after the night before.

23 Jul

Where to even start? What a soul destroying end to an incredible season. A punch to the stomach that even after sleeping on it, feels awfully numb. For sure it’s hurting now, Brentford fans, but we are still in this. We’ve now got a two-legged play-off semi-final with Swansea to look forward to. The dream of Premier League football is still on. We’ll just have to take the long way around. This, after our 91st minute defeat by Barnsley consigned the Bees to third place in the table. That’s still an amazing achievement but with West Bromwich Albion drawing at home to QPR, destiny would have been in our hands.

Alas, not. The chance was unable to be taken on an evening spent sitting in our friends’ back garden on Brook Road South, watching on TV but all ears on Griffin Park. Hoping against hope to hear the cheer from Peter Gilham that would have signified a goal before the tv footage caught up. It is a cheer that only came once – and we were so busy running around the garden in excitement, singing at the top of our voices, that I’ve still not seen Josh Da Silva’s 73rd minute equaliser. It is one that will now need to be repeated on Wednesday when Swansea visit for the second leg.

I’m already past caring about the facts of our 2-1 defeat. We don’t really do match reports at the best of times and it won’t change anything raking through the bones of this one. I’m sure the players are hurting as much as the fans. For a beautiful moment in the first half we were there. For a more incredible period we had the last quarter hour to get the one goal which would have seen us reach the top flight, assuming things stayed the same at The Hawthorns. QPR somehow levelling things up at 2-2 in their game with West Brom. 

Pressure built. Excitement mounted. The clock moved on way, way too fast. And then, on 91, the most almighty cheer from Griffin Park. Yesssss. What a time to get it. We’d done it. Odd that Peter hadn’t announced the scorer but perhaps he’d been overcome with the emotion of the moment. This one we weren’t going to miss and we ran back indoors, just in time to see Barnsley players celebrating their late, late winner. Oh. Ahh. Move along, nothing to see here. It was a winner which, combined with other results, means their Championship survival is assured. 

Heartbreaking. A son in tears the likes of which I’ve never seen before. A season and a week that promised so much, over. For now. But to remain upset (an understandable emotion) won’t help Thomas Frank and his team. It overlooks the fact of our highest league finish since the 1930s. It ignores the simple truth that we are still alive. We are still in this one. We’ve still got our second bite at the cherry. We’re still in the play-offs. 

That’s where we face Swansea, who hit the top six late into the evening. Their 4-1 win at Reading, combined with Nottingham Forest going down by the same scoreline at home to Stoke City, means it is the Swans who make it by virtue of a quite remarkable goal difference swing. One has to feel for the fans at The City Ground. If we’re feeling it today just imagine what they must be going through. 

It was news that put a smile back on HB’s face this morning. He’d been truly worried about the prospect of facing them. As much for footballing reasons as the fact that they broke Sergi earlier in the season.

It’s brief today. No need to pad it out with all that good stuff about picking ourself up and getting back out there. West Bromwich Albion have gone up so congratulations to them. Our turn is next. We know how good this team are. How stunning they have been this campaign. Now it’s down to Thomas Frank to recharge his players and remind them what they are good at – winning football matches.

See you on Sunday when it all starts again.

Nick Bruzon  

What will happen on Wednesday?

21 Jul

Tomorrow it all happens. Brentford face Barnsley. Mark Warburton takes his team to West Bromwich Albion. We all know the maths. We all know what almost happened, but didn’t quite, at Stoke City. That’s football. Our fans seem to have fallen in to two camps since then – the vast majority who appreciate what might have been, how far we have come, how incredibly well we have performed this season and who are gutted beyond belief that we were unable to make it 9 wins in a row at Stoke. Then there are the self-indulgent few. Still bleating about how they are justified in preaching negativity at, and about, their heroes. No doubt the same faces who were calling for Thomas Frank’s head earlier in the season. The same ‘fans’ who will be first in line to say how amazing it all is when we go up. Whether that be Wednesday night or a few weeks later at an empty Wembley.

Ah, you know what? I’m done with it. It’s a simple equation. We were all hurt to miss out on the all important win, but that’s different to bitching. If you felt that strongly then, let alone now,  say it to an individual’s face. And if you still feel that way then just leave the rest of us to support the team and you go wallow in a bottle of Strongbow Dark Fruits. There are more important things to focus on. For clarity, the game with Barnsley rather than a re-run of the infamous mascot race that saw Buzz robbed by Toby Tyke back in 2016. Sadly, Covid-19 means our furry friends are nothing but a beautiful memory for the moment.

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But what happened next….?

Of course, the only matter of consequence at Griffin Park will be the three points (technically one) needed to for a final tilt at second place. Albeit acknowledging the ‘deal with the devil’ which that would involve – namely, wishing well on the team from Shepherds Bush. Aside for the small matter of our own beating Barnsley, the Loftus Road outfit avoiding defeat is key to us securing automatic on Wednesday night. 

For what it’s worth, my personal take is that we’ll complete our own side. With Barnsley still hanging in there, any chance they have of Championship survival is dependent on their also winning the game. On scoring at least one goal. Which means we’ll likely be afforded more freedom to attack as they drive forward themselves, looking for the the back of the Brentford net and, as a consequence, leaving gaps. It’s the sort of thing this team exploit for fun.

The visitors won’t make it easy, though. Their game with Nottingham Forest on Sunday saw the Tykes dominant, peppering the visitor’s goal before finally taking the lead late in to Jota time. They’ve done it once and will no doubt be full of belief that they can do it again.

Yet on the assumption we can do our job, what next? What happens at the Hawthorns? Ahh, it doesn’t bear thinking about. It can’t be fathomed or quantified. I’ve a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach – not so much at them stitching us up but more the fact that this is totally out of our hands. Just as it was on Friday night when the Baggies went to Huddersfield Town. 

One has to adopt the approach of trying to ignore it (purely on health grounds) and looking just at our own result which, of course, will be nigh on impossible. Any change in score will be brought to us immediately – Sky do love a final day in-flight ‘As it stands’ table. And with Griffin Park off limits it means that the TV, I-Follow or local radio will be the only way for all barring the directors to follow this one.

Should West Brom slip up then we’ll be waiting to pounce. Pressure does strange things and a game their fans are likely considering a foregone conclusion against mid-table opposition could still have a twist in the tail. Slaven Bilic is a huge character and he’ll no doubt have his players set for this one – dreaming of the top flight , just as we are. Crucially aware of how close they’ve already come to relinquishing control. Something they’ll obviously want to avoid as we enter the final round of games in the regular Championship campaign. Will all of this start affecting the psyche and the approach? Causing a few jitters and a lot of mind games. Or is this just what it appears to be on paper  – a home banker ?

The QPR factor will be just awful. What will Warbs do? Will he even give us a moment’s thought? Will he have a point to prove? Is it one of those where he tries out a few of the kids for next season?

Don’t go checking the bookmakers’ websites if you are looking for any comfort. Only one team is coming out of that smiling. And they don’t go shopping at Westfield. Then again, even Stoke City were 5-1 to win on Saturday and look how that ended. Strange things can happen. 

We’ve been incredible this season. Magnificent. A style of attacking football and rock solid defence that has thrilled us all. A team that have had the fortitude and determination to reel in all those above us after a shaky start to the season. A 0-1 home defeat despite battering one shot Birmingham City in the season opener now the stuff of distant memory.

It took us a while to find our feet but once we did , wow ! Guts. Courage. Never say die – oh, that Millwall game. Goals. The brackets earned in the 7(seven) – 0 destruction of Luton Town. Humping Sheffield Wednesday in our last game at Griffin Park (in front of fans). That relentless never-say-die run of 8 games in a row as we have come within sniffing distance of ‘automatic’.

This team can do it. Whether it takes one game or four we WILL be in the Premier League next season. 

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What a finish to the game with Millwall

Nick Bruzon

Don’t @ me. This isn’t even close to 94-95.

19 Jul

Where do you even start? It could have been dreamland for Brentford but instead we have to fight on. The dream of promotion from the Championship still well alive but one which is now reliant on either West Bromwich Albion dropping more points on Wednesday or us going through the play-offs. In a high pressure game at Stoke City the combination of brutal opposition, terrible refereeing from Geoff Eltringham and hosts set up so intent on smothering us that penetration was nigh on impossible all saw us slip to 1-0 defeat. The usual attacking flair booted out of us by a team boasting more kickers than a French exchange student. If Friday’s win for Huddersfield Town had felt like some cathartic relief from the 25 year pain that has gnawed away since the 94-94 play-off semi-final ( a moment for me which was way worse than ‘that’ penalty) yesterday brought the heartache of the 2002 play-off in Cardiff flooding back.

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You see, they’re also a brand of footwear popular with…

We’ve all seen it. There’s no point in going through even the briefest summary of the highlights beyond saying that our hosts had clearly done their homework. Brentford tried but had no way past. Eltringham and his team missing two blatant penalties (the second especially). Ethan Pinnock coming oh-so close at the death.

Much like the Doncaster game, going through the carcass of this one won’t change a thing. Pawing over the dead duck that was Crewe or Yeovil at Wembley doesn’t help. Nor does whining about the players, the team or their apparent ‘bottling’ it on social media. 

Sure, we’re all hurting. I am, and as much because I’ve followed this team through devastation and lowpoints since the back end of the 70s. My son, too. He only knows  Brentford set to ‘amazing’ mode and was in tears as this one reached a heart breaking conclusion.

Heart breaking as much because of the most incredible way this team have come together over the last few months. The team spirit and desire shown as they’ve caught up with our rivals through nothing more than guts, determination and win after win after win. Eight in a row, to be precise. The excitement and happiness they’ve engendered in a fanbase doing their best, and usually struggling, to get through the awfulness of lockdown. They’ve kept many of us going in a way more incredible than they  probably realise.

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For half an hour, the dream was on…

There’s been some nonsense spouted on social media about their apparent bottling it yesterday. Justified in the guise of: Oh, I’m hurting – I can say what I want. Now shut up and f*ck off.

Yes. We’re ALL hurting. Aghast to have missed out. It was the most amazing opportunity and, you know what, this time it wasn’t able to be taken. Couldn’t be taken. But to even get into that position is an incredible achievement.

To still be well alive with two more bites at the cherry is not to be sneered at or overlooked. 

Of course people are gutted. They have every right to be – it’s the natural emotion at a time like this. Our entire fanbase should be. I am. Beyond belief. But as much because I know how close we’ve come and how hard we’ve worked to even get into that position.

It was always going to be fragile opportunity, given how far off the pack we’d been when this amazing run started. Moreso, when in a game of few chances and bus parking opposition, we needed the help and protection of the officials. Not their failing an eyetest. Now, destiny is out of our hands as quickly as it had got there.

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You can’t blame Stoke for setting up as they needed to

This one feels different though. The season is still alive. We’ve not been relegated or lost a final. We’re still in with a huge chance to get promoted.

If not directly (and I’d hate to picture the scene in the Gilham household this morning, knowing that we are in the hands of West Bromwich Albion not winning when the Loftus Road mob visit on Wednesday) then via the play-offs. In all likelihood, needing to get past Cardiff City or Fulham in the final. Football. A cruel mistress.

For me, there has been no lower point than standing in the paddock, watching the celebrations amongst the Huddersfield Town players and staff back in ’95. I remember it still. Numb. Devastated. Shell-shocked. A glazed feeling washing over me. Not able to move but just stare out across Griffin Park and into space. Something made even worse by our actually coming second that season and the reason, in part, of my loathing Birmingham City so much.

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

Yesterday wasn’t that. It wasn’t even ‘that penalty’ levels of awfulness. It was brutal. Devastating. But it’s not the time to be slagging off the players and the team for not winning a game. If that’s your thing and way of coping then fair enough – I can’t argue with that mindset but would also ask this…..

Would you have the balls to say it to their face? To tell Thomas Frank or any of the players that you thought they bottled it. Bottled it. Were a team of bottlers. To actually say those words ? In person?  Hmm. It’s not so easy being a keyboard warrior for real.

That’s me done. @ me all you want. I don’t really care. From this point on I’m only focussing on the game with Barnsley. The thought that, as it stands, we are a possible 90 minutes away from the Premier League. I just wish I could be there on Wednesday night to join in.

As the returning Sergi Canos ( itself, a cause for celebration) noted last night: “Disappointing result but there’s no time to think about it. We are an amazing club as a whole on and off the pitch and we are going to keep fighting until the end. 

THIS IS NOT OVER YET.

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Sergi and his fighting spirit are back

Nick Bruzon

  

99 problems but a pitch ain’t one.

9 Jun

The tumbleweed is starting to clear. The absence of Brentford from our lives will soon be coming to an end as the trip to Fulham next Saturday lunchtime (June 20th) sees Championship action recommence. Following this is a rapid fire conclusion to the campaign as our 9 remaining games take place in little over a month, culminating in the ‘last ever’ game at Griffin Park against Barnsley on Wednesday July 22nd. With all games available to season ticket holders on I-follow and TV coverage being given a huge boost, its a case of move over Sky Sports Leeds United. Whilst you won’t be able to be there in person, there’s every opportunity available to see the on-pitch action pan out with our next game  (West Brom at home) also selected for main channel coverage.

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On pitch action will return

The good news is that season will at least come to an end on pitch, however artificial that may feel. Others haven’t been afforded that opportunity. With Leagues across Europe and at home already calling full time early, even League One clubs seem set to bring 2019-20 to a close today with the morning news reporting that they are going to vote to curtail the season and leave the final table based on a points-per-game ratio. Missing out on seeing Brentford in the flesh will be painful but at least we’ll be able to see the Bees in action.

My word, it hass felt like an eternity. With nothing but constant bad news for the last few months, football has probably been low down on most people’s agenda. That’s not to say it hasn’t been missed. The amazing feeling of coming together denied us by an invisible killer. That communal gathering and Saturday afternoon ritual, of which 90 minutes’s action is so often the meat in a social sandwich of pre and post match meet up, something we’ve not been able to enjoy for endless week after week.

Jonathan Burchill cut to the chase on Twitter yesterday, posting a picture of his Fulham ticket and  noting that when he bought it, could never have guessed this match would be postponed for 99 days. Now it is almost here. Brentford travelling just down the road to pick up where we left off. Injuries hopefully healed and the team chomping at the bit. We’ve already played at Griffin Park – judging by the social media video clips posted – as part of the road to recovery but now we get the chance to do it for real.

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Whatever ‘real’ means these days. No fans and no atmosphere is gong to make for a very strange experience. Fulham aside. For the players and the supporters. Fulham aside. Probably the only people to come out if it as winners will be the officials, especially at Griffin Park where the touchline reminders of the rules so often delivered to the linos will be sadly missing. Who will rise to the occasion? Who will struggle, rattling around an empty stadium? Will the fans be given any chance to get back in and, if so, how many will that be or when could it even take place?

I guess the one thing we can be fairly certain of is that the 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday way back on 7th (seventh) March will be the last time we have the pleasure of attending a game at Griffin Park in person. The ‘last game’ will be one played out in front of nothing more than handful of press and officials. Barring a miracle, that ship has surely sailed. It’s a topic we’ve done to death already – both on social media and these pages. Banging on about it now, at a time when we actually have something to look forward too, won’t change that fact. Even if we will of course pick up on it once more as we head towards the visit of Barnsley 

For now, we’ve got action incoming. And that’s a real boost, even if it is going to be very odd. There’ll be surreal TV coverage whilst the club have announced that match day programmes will be produced. Each of the final five programmes will also include a limited-edition postcard, whilst that Barnsley game will see a 134-page, A4 printed programme to say Farewell Griffin Park. You can read about that in full here.

More to come over the coming days, no doubt, but until then we’ve got a trip to Fulham to prepare for. Even if us mere mortals aren’t allowed to travel.

The only other news of note, for these pages, was the conclusion of the ‘Griffin Park Favourites’ charity auction Top Trumps pack last week. I’m amazed to say that these went for a staggering £155, with funds already received and paid on to the Community Sports Trust.

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Whilst keeping the names of the bidders secret, it would seem as though there was a furious bidding war between three figures who appeared in the pack. In the end , though, I haven’t a clue who it is that won them. Certainly not a name I recognise. Brentford fan or Top Trumps collector? Who knows. Either way, I can’t thank our supporters enough for taking part.

And if anybody wants to go again, then please do shout. The pack has already been redesigned for a more personal ‘friends and family’ version. If nothing else, to celebrate both the Fulham programme prank and some really crowbarred punning.

What’s to say further tweaks couldn’t be made and another order placed for anybody who may want in….

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Wife of Brian – even Mrs. B liked that one 

Nick Bruzon    

Yes!!!! An incredible afternoon sees dreams come true (for a while).

3 May

What a quite fantastic end to the season. Brentford have only gone and done it. Promotion to the Premier League assured after tonking Barnsley in the last ever game at Griffin Park. A third bracketing of the season, after the 7(seven)-0 win at home to Luton and the same score in the obliteration of Fulham at the Cottage, saw us leave the Championship to take on the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa next season. With us come Leeds United who, despite falling apart (again), had enough in the tank to get over the line. There were tears at the Hawthorns where that unexpected favour from the Loftus Road mob denied them automatic promotion but you have to fancy their chances in the play offs.

Yes, that’s definitely what happened. Our season ending in style. Tears of joy at what we’ve achieved ; sadness at saying goodbye to our home for the last 116 years. Fans coming together as one to celebrate and commiserate. Looking forward to seeing little old Brentford in the top flight. Leeds United still unable to escape from our shadow. Fulham looking enviously towards our part of West London and hoping they may get lucky in the play-offs.

Some people are on the pitch - Juge's penalty v Preston saw a wonderful denouement

Some people are on the pitch.. etc etc

And then I stepped out of the shower. The Championship table is still stuck on: played 37. Nobody able to say they have definitely gone up to join Champions elect Liverpool. A team who have still not, mathematically, taken the crown from Manchester City despite the most blitzkrieg approach to a campaign in living memory. Brentford fans denied the chance to say goodbye to Griffin Park and now not knowing if we ever will.

Yesterday was brutal from so many respects. Our chance denied by these most cruel and devastating of global circumstances. People sitting tight on lockdown as we mostly (say in ; don’t be a dick) play our part in helping to try and stop the spread of this soul-destroying virus. I know what has to be done and of course we’ll obey Lockdown. Yet I’d be lying if I said yesterday was fun. It was awful being stuck inside when the only home I wanted to be in was Griffin Park.

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Reality was soul destroying

I wrote the piece on how that felt yesterday morning. It was a column that, being honest, I had no idea if I wanted to start or even would. The feeling upon getting up was just so awful and only got worse as the morning progressed. In the end, it was a case of downing an espresso or two, sitting at the keyboard and seeing what words fell out. The results are here and were, in retrospect, quite cathartic. 

Sure, they didn’t help me feel any better but the response from our fans was life affirming. Not just the kind words on social media but the fact that it quickly became apparent how so many of us were going through the same thing. Of course, we were all going to be missing out on ‘that’ game but to hear and read people being so open about how they felt was great. 

And I use that word in the loosest sense. Of course, one wouldn’t want fellow supporters to be feeling anything like I did – all that emotion that had been experienced and accumulated since my first game back in 1979 unable to let out in one, final, scream of Brrreeeeeeennnnntttt-fffforrrrrdddd. 

I was flat. Low. All over the shop. The early morning run to the shops, with the selected route conveniently looping around the deserted stadium, making it even worse. It should have been a hive of activity at that point. Instead, Brentford was like ghost town. My mind playing all sorts of cruel tricks, trying to imagine what it would have been like.

I swear Jota winked at me as I limped past the main gates on Braemar Road.

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Regulation exercise saw an early morning run to the shop. Oh, Jota 😦

Yet to read so many of us sharing the same experience and going through such similar emotions was, bizarrely, like some form of cyber-hug. Despite being ripped apart from each other, we’ve never felt closer together.

Griffin Park, Brentford and #FarewellGriffinPark were all trending on Twitter for most of the day as the fans united. Not just to shed a tear but also to share their special memories of a home that we’ll be doing well to see again. Instantgram a sea of glorious images.

It wasn’t easy. It was never going to be. Popular music’s Hard-Fi adding further salt to the wound later in the day by confirming they’d have played their first show together in six years as a means of saying goodbye to the ground. Frontman Richard Archer being a huge Brentford fan, of course. Here’s hoping Adam Bluetone and Rhino from The Quo were also lined up. Brentford-fest – just imagine….

I think if the club had come out and said they were wearing a special kit for that final game it would just about have finished me off. Thankfully they stayed silent on that subject. And most, to be fair.

In part I suspect this was to let the fans ‘grieve’ on their own. Equally, it would have been nice had they at least acknowledged the significance of the day. Perhaps that will come. Perhaps ignoring it was their way of saying we WILL be back.

You never know…..

The other super positive of the day was Andy Scott, who was the latest guest on the regular GPG webcast. My word it was good. Unexpectedly so. Entertaining. Honest. Reflective. Insightful. Like Martin Allen, a man who connected with the fans – not just at the time but even in the answering of every question. It really felt personal.

He was candid about things he’d got wrong. Celebratory about what had gone well. Poignant about Rob Rowan, with lavish praise being poured on a man who the more we learn about the more we realise just what an incredible individual we have lost. What an amazing part of the Brentford family he was. 

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Andy Scott was the latest guest

And he was funny. The story about Kevin Dearden, Ron Noades’ kitchen and a pogo stick one that had me laughing for what felt like the first time all day. As the GPG Twitter feed noted afterwards:

Riveting meetup with Andy Scott. Maybe the best one yet. You couldn’t ask for more from Andy than this. It’s all in there, incl answering @samsaunders7 ‘s questions from last week (at the very end Sam!).

Forget Netflix, this is well worth a 2h15m binge.

And they are right. It was fascinating stuff. Entertaining. You can find it below. Put your feet up, sit back and enjoy.    

Great work,GPG and Andy. Thank you.

Next weekend’s guest promises to be very special. With Trevor unable to name them on the yesterday’s session, given the announcement is going to be made alongside the club next week, draw whatever conclusions you must from the below tweet published this morning…..

Until then, dreams of football remain just that, dreams. Will we go up? Could it be Manchester City and Liverpool at Lionel Road? Whenever that may be.

Might we end up playing out this campaign behind closed doors in neutral stadia, as is being suggested more and more? 

I’d oppose that suggestion 100% if so – just think of the unfair advantage it would give Fulham.

Nick Bruzon

Thank you NHS. Thank you Sergi. Thank you Jan.

22 Mar

What can you say? Yesterday we should have been watching Brentford play Reading in an out of town car park. The most soul destroying of trips to somewhere that looks, as the crow flies, so close yet in reality is a trip that would test even Bear Grylls. The sort of thing we’d take an almost masochistic pleasure in moaning about yet, right now, I’d give my right arm to be in a position to be upset about having made the shlep to the Madjeski. The realisation of just how much we take for granted is hitting home with all the subtly of Ian Moose at a buffet. Should such a thing still exist. Buffets, I mean. Football is over for the foreseeable. Life is all about staying sane and staying healthy. Thoughts of Griffin Park and the last game with Barnsley nothing more than an optimistic light on the horizon. 

Yet optimism is what we need right now. With the news making for such hard going it would be easy to sink into despondency. I’m not going to pretend I haven’t had low points in the last week or so. I’m sure I can’t be alone and I am sure there will be more to come. With self-isolation becoming more and more prevalent – whether enforced or voluntary – even walking past Griffin Park yesterday morning on an almost clandestine trip to the shop felt like a guilty pleasure.

Moreso given how hard those people on the front line are working to keep things going. Food and drink should be available (as long as people don’t act like dicks in the supermarket) and our NHS staff are busting an absolute gut, despite being in the very forefront of what is impacting us all.

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Griffin Park is understandably on lockdown

The trip back from the shop was punctuated by a call from Mrs. Bruzon. Where was I? Harry had suffered a horrific fall and smacked his head open!!! Blood everywhere and losing consciousness. My heart stopped. Panic set in – and as much because I had to start running to get the last mile back to them. It wasn’t a pretty sight on arrival (but enough about my knackered lungs). Blood everywhere, H looking grey and not even crying. Just slumped lethargically against mummy who was heading off to the hospital.

The short hop to West Mid was not a good one. I have to be honest I’ve not been so scared in a long, long time. Sat in the back with Harry, he was barely coherent. Barely awake. I did my best to keep him talking. Asking silly questions about Brentford. The answers made no sense. Dalsgaard isn’t a centre back. Ollie Watkins has scored more than 16 goals. This was not a good sign. At least he recognised that Sergi Canos is his favourite player.

All I could do was promise that if he kept talking to me and then did everything the doctors and nurses asked, I’d give him the one shirt from my collection he’s had his eye on to go in his bedroom – Jan Zamburek’s Ecoworld blue ‘Farewell Griffin Park’ shirt (don’t ask ; that’s a story for another day).

We reached the hospital in a hurry. Thankfully, people seem to finally be taking the advice to stay indoors seriously and traffic was at a minimum. Scooping him from the back seat, I ran in with H in my arms. Heart pumping – but , again, as much through lack of fitness as panic. Here we go…..

Wow! The NHS staff were amazing. Incredible. Moved so quickly. Got him in, cleaned up, assessed, treated and slowly the colour returned to his cheeks. The shock he had suffered worn off. The huge gouge above his eye now sealed up and sure to leave a proper ‘Action Man’ style scar. With all the carnage going on in the outside world and the incredible pressure / stress they must be under at present, to see how calm and caring they were was nothing short of life affirming. Huge love and huge thanks from me and Mrs B, that’s for sure! 

Harry is now fine. He is home. His composure returned and Zamburek’s shirt is hanging in his room, alongside what I think is Gary Blissett’s 92-93 ‘away’ (again, don’t ask). I’ll say one thing for H, he does have good taste. 

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H now has a new favourite shirt

We’re all sitting around in self-isolation – wondering how to get through the coming weeks but knowing that we will. Knowing that thanks to those wonderful people in the NHS, a personal nightmare has been avoided. Things are likely going to get very tough for while. They’ll be the ones out there looking after us. You only need to look at the news to see how things have played out in other countries. To see how irresponsible some people have still been as recently as Friday night, having ‘one last hurrah for the road’ before pubs shut down.

I don’t want to go all holier than thou because I’m not. But having seen health workers in action first hand, the last thing we need to do is pile any more pressure on them. The last thing we want is them, or anyone, going hungry. Do think before you hit ‘stockpile’ mode or go walkabout. It might not be much fun compared to our usual freedoms (although the alternatives are 10 times worse, to coin a phrase).

If for no other reason that aside from going stir crazy, many of us need to double up as teachers. Cripes!!  If the NHS, supermarket workers and all those others whom we have, let’s be honest, probably taken for complete granted over the years deserve respect than I am sure this will be equally applicable to those who keep the schools running. Me and H have already had our first science class – making bouncy eyeballs (well, he was worried he may need a replacement). 

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It is also a time that is bringing out the best in people. Neighbours are suddenly looking out for each other. Strangers doing good deeds. Streets and communities coming together to try and help each other through these unprecedented times. We have warmth. We have the internet. We have a lot of TV and board-game time coming up. Hopefully we all have food.

But I also know we will get through this. Stop. Think. Look out for your friends. Your neighbours. Each other. Pick up the phone. Send a text message to somebody who might not be expecting it. Let’s stay talking to each other. This is the chance for Social Media to be an amazing power for good rather than the hotbed of vitriol and nastiness it can so often be.

Just reading the words of Sergi Canos yesterday put a huge smile on my face.  There may be no football at present but it’s probably the least of our concerns in the immediate grand scheme. Let’s keep on remembering the good times and look forward to them returning at some point.

Nick Bruzon

Last game at Griffin Park – all you need to know about tickets so far.

18 Feb

Contender, ready! Gladiators, ready! Thus demanded (or asked, I was never quite sure) referee John Anderson back in the day. And it has the feel of a titanic struggle as the Barnsley tickets go on sale this afternoon. On the surface, an innocuous fixture but in practice the last time Brentford will get to run out at Griffin Park (officially – there’s always the possibility of the play-offs….).  In the role of the plucky contenders, we have the non-season ticket holding members. Lined up in Wolf’s clothing, TAPS. And with the club already warning that “We have significantly more Members than available tickets for this game”, expect somebody to end this one unhappy.

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Who will end up unhappy?

What are the club to do though? Already the hard luck  / panic stories are coming out on social media and the tickets aren’t even on sale. Moreso given the apparent worry / fear of Griffin Park being flooded by tourists (especially those on apparent Scandinavian package deals). We’ve had high demand games before and things have generally worked out for those wanting to get in. Yet this is next level. As emotive as they come and demand is absolutely sure to outstrip supply – even with the Ticket Access Point (TAP) tiering.

Club Members with 900+ TAPs (one per Member):
From Tuesday 18 February at 4pm to Tuesday 3 March at 4pm

Club Members with 750+ TAPs (one per Member):
From Tuesday 10 March at 4pm to Tuesday 24 March at 4pm

All Club Members (one per Member):
From Tuesday 31 March at 4pm 

You can absolutely understand everybody’s desire to get in for this one. The club could charge double and it would still sell out. They could but they won’t. They don’t really have any alternative as to how tickets go on sale. These are member only (with ST holders guaranteed a place so excluded from buying) and then members raked by TAP rather than an ‘all-in simultaneously’ bundle or even a lottery. In my opinion, and for what it’s worth, this is the fairest way possible.

Absolutely somebody will miss out that almost certainly deserves to be in there. Somebody will buy a ticket for their brother/mother/cousin who has been once in a blue moon. We’ll no doubt have our usual contingent of visitors from abroad (something which, for the record, nobody seems to have had kicked off about previously). This one is different though…

This one is huge. This one will have Brentford fans that miss out up in arms. That’s natural. We all want to go. We’ve all got reasons for not being able to attend certain games. We’ve always used Season Tickets and TAPS as a means of attempting to reward the most loyal supporters previously.

How could it have been done differently? Delegate attendance to a random away game as a means of prioritising for tickets? We’ve done that in the past – oh, the joys of a midweek coach trip to Wrexham in the fog and rain. But what about loyal supporters with prior commitments that weekend? A lottery is even worse whilst giving all members simultaneous access was a recipe for website meltdown and even huger fan upset as ‘deserving’ supporters with a long history could well have missed out.

Reading Jamie Cureton 2002

2002 – demand was ferocious.

Brentford are in a lose-lose scenario here. Whatever they do will upset somebody. Only Season Ticket holders are guaranteed access and whilst it’s easy to pontificate in that situation, one can’t help but feel for those that do miss out. I’ve been there before back in the  dark days of being so skint there were weeks I couldn’t even afford a match day ticket for Division One fixtures. Let alone the luxury of a season ticket. Of having to hope somebody somehow had a spare or trawl around the outskirts of Griffin Park to get in to the promotion decider with Reading (thanks, Jamie Cureton). My own cousin Charles from Gibraltar, who has been bringing a close to 100% record with him since the 80s, will likely miss out. That’s how it goes, sadly.

The club have made the best of trying to untangle this Gordian knot of a problem. It was always going to be impossible to keep everyone happy in advance. Asking Keith Stroud to keep the cards in his pocket or getting a cat into a bath tub would have been easier. 

That said, before fans get any more anxious than they already (and understandably) are, the club has also offered a further rays of light should the tickets indeed sell out. The article on the subject, which you can read in full here, notes that : 

A limited amount of additional tickets are likely to become available at a later date once we have a clearer understanding of the requirements we need to fulfil for various parties, including, but not limited to, the EFL and Brentford FC partners, the opposition club and players. As such, further sales information will follow in due course.

Likewise, there is also the prospect of the Brentford Ticket Exchange closer to the time whilst I’d be amazed if Utilita don’t run some form of competition. This seems to be de-rigeur at present and, whilst they don’t announce the winners or even get kick off times correct, it is another avenue of possibility. Woudn’t have happened on Siracusa’s watch, that’s all I’ll say about our goal sponsors.

So hold steady. Don’t panic. Easier said than done, I realise. Just be ready to sign on at the appointed hour and then cross you fingers that our server is up to the job. Failing that, get following Utilita on Twitter. 

Otherwise, we’re relying on Leeds United not falling apart (nobody wants that) and the prospect of our last game turning out to be our penultimate game with the play-offs coming in to contention……

Nick Bruzon

Storm in a B cup.

16 Feb

What an afternoon. Another point for Brentford, earned in horrific conditions at Birmingham City on the day Fulham were humped at home by basement club Barnsley and Nottingham Forest shared the spoils with West Bromwich Albion. The only fly in the ointment being a win for Leeds United (not a typo) at home to Bristol City but things at the business end of the Championship remain as tight as ever. And if you haven’t seen it, the club have announced news about our final * ever game at Griffin Park.   

We can only start at rain soaked and wind swept St. Andrews where Thomas Frank had to give his BMW a refit. Marcondes coming in for Mbeumo to join our much touted front three. With Shandon Baptiste making an impressive full debut in place of Josh Dasilva it was a new look Brentford side that began this one. The team taking on an even less familiar look after just a few minutes when Mathias Jensen had to go off, replaced by Dru Yearwood. Birmingham scented blood and went for the jugular.

Attack followed attack until the inevitable happened. Jude Bellingham (16, apparently) had already hit the inside of the post before Lukas Jutkiewicz popped up with the inevitable. A ball played in across the goal line eluded everyone until it reached the striker who made no mistake. Urghh. The Birmingham storm unable to be weathered. The start, dreadful.

And then it all changed. Brentford woke up. The desire to participate kicked in. Within minutes, we were level. Ethan Pinnock heading home from a corner to send the Bees wild. Get in – that’s more like it!! City not even able to blame the bench warming Harlee Dean for failing to keep that out.

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Goooaaaalllll !!

On we pressed. The ascendency very much swinging towards Brentford, despite the weather in our faces. A blatant penalty denied. Lee Camp in goal for Blues pulling off save after save. A second half shot somehow scrambled off the line by Fosu (on for sub, subbed Yearwood)  as Camp kept the Bees at bay. His one man defence saving a point for a City side who could perhaps consider themselves unfortunate to have their own penalty appeal turned down late on.

Frustration from the pitch had already been boiling over in the stands, where one green jacket clad supporter – giving it the billy big balls to the 1500+ Brentford supporters – went arse over tit on the  security awning draped over the seats intended to keep us apart. Magnificent comic timing if nothing else. The price for his bravery – a chorus of jeers, heckles, laughter and the attentions of the stewards. Followed up by the police, who asked him help with their inquiries. Outside the stadium.

And so it finished. One each and a point we can be pleased with. Birmingham should probably have stormed out of sight. Likewise, justifiably upset by decisions towards the end where Norgaard was also lucky to escape with just a yellow. With other results mostly going our way, especially at Fulham where Barnsley pulled off a magnificent 3-0 win, only Leeds United have taken true advantage. Fair enough. They’ve a good team and despite their own well documented fragility are still managing to hang in there. There’s a lot to be said for that.

We’re unbeaten. We’ve played really well in testing circumstances. The referee didn’t help either team and, being honest. I’m happy with another point on the board. Three would have been nice. On another day we’d have got them. Birmingham City no doubt thinking and feeling the same. They’ve been on form and I’m happy to get away with safely.

Elsewhere, Tuesday is THE big day. Tickets for the game against Barnsley, our last ever at Griffin Park *, go on sale then. The announcements of how this is happening will be made on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Twitter has the first notes up already – below.

For now, it’s the calm after the storm. Next up is Blackburn at home on Saturday. With who knows what in between…

* subject to play-off fixtures

Nick Bruzon

 

It’s………….Wayne Rooney’s Account

3 Jan

Brentford host Stoke City in the FA Cup tomorrow. Liverpool moved 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League, having gone unbeaten in a year after yesterday’s 20 win over Sheffield United. However, none of that matters compared to the 2-1 victory for Wayne Rooney’s Derby County over Barnsley, played out live on Sky Sports last night to the entire planet. A dominant Wayne Rooney destroyed the Tykes, as the newly appointed Wayne Rooney’s Derby County captain provided both assists and scored a brace on his long awaited debut.

You’ll forgive me for feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the Derby County love in that took place on Thursday evening. Or, specifically, that surrounding the all time England goal scoring record holder. I hadn’t realised. If only somebody had said. About a dozen times. Every touch from the stocky looking midfielder was greeted as though it had been played by Pele. Every pass seemingly as sublime as a Cristiano Ronaldo through ball. 

Only an idiot would fail to realise that Wayne’s arrival was going to attract attention. That was guaranteed from the announcement of his signing, the gifting of his traditional ’32’ shirt and the protected lead up to this one. By the time the 34 year old finally made his debut it was beyond all previously seen hype levels. The records set by Frank Lampard’s Derby County being obliterated within moments of coverage starting. You’d be forgiven for thinking the family Rooney had somehow hacked Sky’s account to influence the coverage, such was the fascination. Except, of course, that sort of stuff could never happen. Carry on like this and they’re going to shit themselves next Saturday when the cameras are back at Griffin Park for Brentford – QPR.

Except, of course, they won’t. We aren’t global. We don’t have his former glories. His baggage. His wife, who was there looking on from the stands and even got her own graphic. His wage bill.

Good luck to Derby County. Limping past rapidly improving Barnsley, to stay in 17th place in the Championship, is only the first step in what will need to become a very much long term project. Who knows? Wayne could be the man to inspire them. Filling the Championship void left by the departure of Aston Villa’s John Terry.  Inspiring his younger team mates to retain their former glories. It’s going to be a lot easier – for them and for us – without the eyes of the world watching.

Two tweets summed it up for me last night. This is what it felt like for anyone outside the Pride Park love in.

There we go. The high bar has been set. No doubt the media will now be tripping over themselves to shoot him down the second anything, no matter how small, fails to go to plan. Derby and Bet 32 have take an a massive gamble. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Getting back to TW8, Brentford and Stoke meet in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. With promotion to the Premier League very much a genuine aspiration at present, what would you do if you were Thomas Frank? Give the B team and substitutes a run out or stick with the team that has done so well over these last few months?

For me, Clive, it’s an odd one. I absolutely love the FA Cup and have advocated full strength for year after year,. The chance to progress in this famous old competition too big an opportunity to cast aside with abandon. The potential of entertaining a Liverpool or Manchester City a delicious incentive for reaching the fourth round. Moreso in what is our final season in Griffin Park.

Yet, yet, yet….. Bloody hell. We’re third in the Championship. The gap to seventh place is starting to grow. The two teams above us – Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, whilst still well, well clear are both starting to wobble. Relatively. Each team having a current league record of only one win in five. If ever there was a time to give the first team a chance to catch their breath then now is the moment that Thomas Frank could be forgiven. For letting the broader squad stay match fit.

I’m absolutely with him on this one. I’m fully expecting the BMW to stay in the garage. For Luke Daniels to be named captain. For Julian Jeanvier to start this one after Ethan Pinnock as come in and performed heroics alongside Pontus. For the long awaited debut of Halil Dervisoglu – should clearance come through 🙂 .

And, it would seem, I’m not alone. As ever, the medium of Twitter summarising in one comment more than all this gubbins could ever do….

Whomever Thomas picks, it’s still a special occasion. Still a game we’ll be going out 100% to win. Whilst I’m absolutely with Luis on the team selection strategy, it doesn’t mean the occasion will be enjoyed any less. The desperation to win as enormous as ever. Peter Gilham busting a gut to big up the crowd. Tin foil trophies being hoisted high in the sky. The lure of Wembley still as strong as ever.

I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on!! Whatever the team.

FA Cup tin foil

Nothing says FA Cup tradition like a home made trophy

Nick Bruzon