Tag Archives: Bees Player

Here’s to Alan Judge. Bees unite after horrendous injury

9 Apr

Brentford made it 9 points and 9 goals from the last 3 games after beating Ipswich Town 3-1 at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon. Relegation is officially dead. Town’s promotion chances likewise. Sam Saunders scored a beauty and Lasse Vibe took his personal total to 5 in this 3 game period.

They’re the match facts but, frankly, they seem an after thought at the moment. All anybody in the Brentford family was talking about during and after the game was the horrendous foul on Alan Judge that saw the player receive almost ten minutes of on-field treatment before being stretched off with a reported double leg break.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

View from the stand: Alan Judge – destroyer of defences in happier times

The player’s immediate reaction and that of his team mates suggested this is a very, very bad one indeed. Yet, incredibly, Town’s Luke Hyam received nothing more than a caution from referee Phil Gibbs for the nightmare assault (I won’t dignify it with the words ‘challenge’ or ‘tackle’) that saw him flying at Judge before scything through the magician, studs up. The irony of Trevor Kettle being the fourth official was not lost.

Justice was eventually done when Hyam was shown red for a second yellow just before half time, this time for going at Ryan Woods like a petulant teenage thug. But by that point it was far too little, far too late for Brentford’s player of the season. His dream of playing in the Euro 2016 finals over.

To rub further salt into the wound, Mick McCarthy has been quoted as giving a quite scandalous response to Dean Smith’s suggestion that Hyam had been “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red.

The Ipswich manager’s reaction has already been doing the round of social media, garnering the obvious replies.   “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Let’s just hope that having had further time to review the footage and his own comments, McCarthy has a change of heart. It won’t make a bit of difference to what has happened yet to leave things like this will only leave further bitter taste to a quite awful incident.

The Brentford supporters, players and officials were unanimous in their support for Alan after the final whistle. Club owner Matthew Benham making a rare foray onto Twitter where he declared, “The challenge was very reckless and a clear red card, as was the one on @RyannWoods4

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The Brentford family react

I’ve got nothing else to say about the other stuff from today. No comments about BeesPlayer, no comments about the game and no comments about the league.

Instead, at the moment all I can do is think about Alan Judge. The prognosis at this juncture doesn’t read well but, at the same time, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

He has been  consistently outstanding over the entire season (only David Button running him close for the end of year award, in my opinion) and his performances have rightly earned International call ups. He’s our leading scorer and not bad with the assists, either.

Fingers crossed Judgey, we’re all thinking of you.

Here’s to seeing you back in the red and white stripes next season.

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More from the Brentford family

Nick Bruzon

Can Nico do it again or will Dougie turn destroyer?

9 Apr

Can Brentford make it 3 in a row when we take on (technically) play-off chasing Ipswich Town today? For all that our hosts are flying high in the table in a very respectable eight place, the wheels have come off the Tractor in recent weeks with Town only recording one win in the last six games.

Did you listen to the Besotted podcast yesterday? If not, then do so. Please. Whilst I mentioned this in the previous article and don’t want to overly labour the point, the views of home fan Harry Wainwright really are worth a listen. As he notes himself, Ipswich now need snookers and some serious favours to make the play-offs.

But it is his verdict on former Bee Jonathan Douglas that gives particular food for thought. The eagle eyed amongst us may have seen that Dougie has just triggered a contract extension for another year at Portman Road. But whilst he was a hero to many at Griffin Park, this may not be such a popular announcement in Suffolk.

Dougie Ipswich

Dougie will be a Tractor for another season

Harry’s take on the player was fascinating. He quoted one recent criticism (from their 0-0 against Charlton) where the player was described thus, “ At times he looked like he was in a daydream . He had no idea what was going on.He was slow, error prone and often anonymous. 

The only thing he wanted to do was drop between the centre backs, pick up the ball from one and play it to another defender.

Sound familiar? Reminiscent of the man who earned our most bookings last campaign (10). Or somewhat harsh for a player who scored 8 goals for Brentford in 2014/15 and was an inspiration to many with those surging runs up field?

Without revealing all Harry’s opinions (do listen to that podcast. And no, i’m not on commission – it’s just a really good one) he goes on to note that, “I think he IS error prone…within the fanbase he is the most under the spot light. In the last five games he has been the lowest ranked player , culminating in a 2.9 out of 10 against Charlton”.

Is this just the opposition trying to give us false confidence or are Ipswich and Dougie here for the taking? This, of course, assuming he is even selected and given these opinions of his recent performance that may not be a given. As ever, at 3pm we find out.

Two other brief points. Firstly, season tickets. Don’t forget that these are now on sale and for the first time in living memory I’ll be sitting for the next campaign. Not that anybody particularly cares but the demands of a young son who loves Buzzette and ‘Fireman’ Sam Saunders in equal measure have meant a seat on the touchline is the way forward for yours truly.

No, this is highlighted more to big up our wonderful ticket office team. I know this has been noted several times before but, like Kitman Bob, they really do present our club in a great light . Very much the unsung heroes of Griffin Park. Well, I’m singing.

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Great value Season Tickets now on sale (and no, I’m not on commission)

And finally, betting. I mention this purely for statistical interest but Nico Yennaris is currently 12/1 to score at any time in the game. I’ve only checked this for research purposes of course, but could our latest goal hero make it three in a row? At that price, he must be worth a sniff?

Can he do it? Here’s hoping. Billy Reeves is the man to describe the action today for those not fortunate enough to be able to make the trip.

Fingers crossed for another three points at the denouement of this one.

Nick Bruzon

The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker awaits as Bees take on Ipswich

8 Apr

It only seems like five minutes ago that Brentford couldn’t buy a win yet now we have the chance to make it three on the spin with the trip to Ipswich Town imminent. Victories at Nottingham Forest (3-0) and then home to Bolton (3-1) have surely crushed those lingering relegation doubts as morale has soared.

In his press conference on Thursday Dean Smith made all the right noises about the huge boost these results had been whilst giving an update on the current injury situation. With our Head Coach confirming that John Swift and Leandro Rodriguez (amongst others) will both miss out again through injury, I really can’t see any changes to the team that started so brightly against Bolton on Tuesday night.

Given that  the Bees did, if we’re being honest, allow Wanderers back into a game where a stronger team would have punished us in the second half, there can be no room for any let up this time around. Ipswich are still pushing for the play-off spot that they also made last season and you can be sure Mick McCarthy will be expecting three points from his team.

Last season’s encounter at Portman Road finished in a 1-1 draw, notable for Daryl Murphy somehow missing an unmissable goal for the home side when all he had to do was tap it into the gaping net. It was an effort described afterwards by Mick Mills and his local radio commentary team as: “Breathtaking. It will go into the top ten all time misses. If you can find ten worse ones I’d like to see them.”

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

BBC FLS viewers saw Murphy set to pounce. And fail (for once)

Murphy remains leading scorer for Ipswich this season although will miss out this time round as he his still suffering with a knock picked up on international duty.  Despite ‘that miss’ this should really be seen as a boost for the Bees although, of course, we still have the prospect of lining up against Jonathan Douglas once more.

The thought of seeing him facing off to Alan McCormack in midfield is a delicious one. Goliath v Goliath. The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker. No prisoners will be taken whilst, of course,  there was the incident at the end of our clash at Griffin Park this season.

Back in August, we opened proceedings at home to Ipswich as the Marinus era kicked off with such optimism. Then it all went South as the game started with Andre Gray on the bench, the pitch turned into that infamous minefield and Ipswich cruised into a two goal lead either side of half time. We didn’t even see Macca take on Dougie as our man went off 6 minutes before the former Bee came on.

From that point though, things went a bit bonkers. Andre pulled one back in Jota time before James Tarkowski sent the crowd wild with a 96th minute equaliser. Dougie still had time to accidentally (I’m sure) stand on Jota’s foot and spanner him for the next few months. Indeed, there was an exchange at full time where eagle-eyed Bees Player viewers caught sight of Douglas swinging an arm at the Spanish hero.

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Bees Player viewers saw Dougie appear to give Jota a ‘girly slap’.

Will that be water under the bridge now or will the memory linger? I’m sure the former, if for no other reason than Jota has (sadly) moved back to Spain ‘on loan’ whilst Dean Smith will no doubt have drilled the importance for discipline into his team. Regardless, the fans are likely to remind Dougie of this incident whilst the battle with Macca, regardless of anything that had gone before, will alway be a fascinating one.

That said, what do I know? Listening to the latest Beesotted podcast on the way to work this morning it was very interesting to hear the views of Town supporter Harry ‘from Bath’. Of course, come for the views of Billy (Grant), Sav, Matt, Dave and terrace wag Gemma Teale but stay for Harry’s insight. You’ll find that part just after the hour…

Another point of note from Dean’s press conference was his observation that, “Historically the pitch at Portman Road has always been fantastic so hopefully it will be the same and we can play some of our football.” Nobody needs any reminding about the state of the Griffin Park pitch at the start of this season and the huge holes that began to appear where it seems that somebody had forgotten that all important point of letting the turf bed in.

With the Bees confidence returning and the side being encouraged to run at their opponents, it will be fascinating to see what we can now do on a level playing field.

Whether in the stands at Portman Road or alongside Billy Reeves on Bees Player, on Saturday afternoon we find out.

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Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last time

Nick Bruzon

We’ve got that Vibe (but Mark has a few things to answer)

6 Apr

Dean Smith’s team have done it again. That’s 6 goals and 6 points in two games for Brentford as they eased past Bolton with a 3-1 win at Griffin Park on Tuesday night. Again Nico Yennaris grabbed a goal from midfield and again, Beesplayer commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge was absent from the commentary box. Meanwhile, Mark Warburton and his Rangers team secured a return to the Scottish Premiership as the Glasgow outfit secured the Championship title with a 1-0 win over Dumbarton.

But we can only begin by reviewing events at Griffin Park where a 3 goal spell in 19 first half minutes wrapped things up for the Bees. Nico grabbed the opener from close range whilst Lasse Vibe completed the scoring with a fine pair. His first saw the Dane working through a crowd in the box until he found clear air whilst the second was a fine header from Judge cross.

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A handful of Bolton fans were present as Nico and Lasse scored 3 first half goals

It was a second goal in as many games for Nico and a third over the same spell from Lasse as the Bees matched the three goals they scored in Saturday’s second half at Nottingham Forest. But whilst it may look comfortable on paper, with some fans already looking ahead to the brackets that come with 7(seven) goals Bolton were allowed back into a game which, but for some better shooting, they may well have got something out of.

That’s not to overly criticise but more to note that we are by no means the finished article. The second half in particular saw us pushing our luck. Bolton were allowed to run at the Bees defence whilst Macca gave away a very soft looking penalty that Zach Clough converted to give the Trotters hope. That said, he nearly made it four himself with an absolute pile driver that Bolton ‘keeper Ben Amos did well to tip over at the last moment.

As for Nico Yennaris, he’s been viewed (unfairly) as one of the ‘fall guys’ by certain sections of social media all season and so to see him shine in midfield is nothing short of wonderful. Two goals in two games and another dominant, positive performance from the player usually found at right back have been a real plus for Dean Smith. This, at a time when both Josh McEachran and John Swift have been missing. Literally (with injury), rather than metaphorically as some have noted in recent games.

These wins have been earned against sides who, if we’re being equally honest, haven’t been great yet at the same time, we can only beat the team in front of us. As was noted just yesterday, how often in the past have underrated teams failed to read the script and given Brentford unexpected trouble?

Instead, yesterday’s game put me in mind of last season’s against Blackpool. Playing a similarly doomed team under floodlights, the Bees ended it looking like comfortable winners.

Clearly the players were in high spirits, with Twitter once more awash with plenty of good vibes and even, dare I say it, ‘bantz’ (Urrgh, I feel so dirty). What a world away from all the going again or apologising to the fans that were the hallmarks of the early months in 2016.

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As hit Andy Carol ??? Sam with the Twitter ‘bantz’

The gap to the bottom three is now 12 points (effectively 13 with GD) and the teams in the drop zone only have 6 games left to play. The Bees are up to 14th and 7(seven) points off a tenth place that Dean Smith was targetting as he spoke to the press after the game. “It means we can go to Ipswich on Saturday and try to make it three wins in a row and then we can be looking at a top 10 finish,” he told journalists.

Personally, I’d be ecstatic if we could build on this to finish as top team in West London. The Bees are 5 clear of Fulham and just 3 behind QPR with a game in hand on both sides – albeit at promotion chasing Hull City ! For now though, let’s just enjoy the moment and then start to think about a rematch with Jonathan Douglas and his Ipswich Town side at the weekend.

The other point of note for last night was one more applicable to those amongst us who look for omens, jinxes and signs. For the second game in a row , Brentford scored three goals and picked up three points. For the second game in a row, the commentating legend that is Mark Burridge missed proceedings due to his taking a well earned break.

Much as he is, without doubt, untouchable when it comes to this role, I can’t help but wonder if his absence is another catalyst in the Bees resurgence?  From an albatross on the golf course to an albatross in the commentary box? Or nothing more than Brentford playing to the best of their ability against struggling teams?

Saturday against Ipswich Town could be interesting – if nothing else for the phone calls to immigration should Brentford make it 3 in a row…

And finally, huge congratulations to Mark Warburton. Rangers 1-0 victory last night secured the Championship title, promotion and a return to the Premiership for the Ibrox team.

His popularity at Griffin Park was, and still is, no secret. Certainly something that was evident by the huge swathe of good wishes in his direction on Twitter last night.

Whilst the Bees are now heading well into a new era, nobody could deny the role Mark played in getting us to this point. Things were ‘that close’ for Warbs and the Bees last time out – how good to see this most admired of managers taking that next step this time around.

Nice one, Mark.

Nick Bruzon

Normal service resumes on the pitch. Off it, a different matter

2 Apr

What a difference a day makes. Brentford finally got back to winning ways with as comprehensive a win as you could hope for at free falling Nottingham Forest. 3-0 and a second half performance that the subsequent highlights show was as one sided as the score suggests. And with Bolton Wanderers losing at home, Tuesday night could see the Bees all but secure safety whilst sending the doomed Trotters down to League One.

Much as I’d have love to have been at The City Ground, this was a game to far thanks to a family holiday. Fair play to those who made it up to Nottingham, if for no other reason than they had the pleasure of witnessing this first hand rather than struggling through Bees Player (more on that, later).

So where do we start? Well, as ever, this is all about ‘the other stuff’ rather than any serious match report. First and foremost, Brentford are now 9 points (effectively 10 with goal difference) clear of the relegation zone. In a season that has been haunted by sales, managerial crises (plural), pitch-gate and more injuries than the average episode of Holby City, to be all but safe is nothing short of, if not a miracle, due reward for the team and the fans

With Bolton Wanderers next up at Griffin Park, a win for The Bees will surely see us safe for another season. Let’s just be clear (and this has been said before but it’s worth repeating), Brentford are facing a third successive season in The Championship. Victory on Tuesday night should see us home whilst, combined with a win for Fulham, banging the final nail into the Bolton coffin.

And if ever you needed further incentive, results in the Premier League today left Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United four points adrift of safety. What a campaign already beckons in 2016/17 if we can see ourselves over the line.

Post match celebration on Social Media (specifically Twitter) provided all the expected exuberance from players and supporters alike. Not to mention some unusual posts.

Harlee Dean led the charge with the observation that the win was, “Like a total eclipse. A win and a clean sheet”.

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Perhaps it’s just me but I’m struggling with that one . Still, I’ll forgive Harlee anything he wants if results like that keep coming.

Then it hit me. I’m sure we’ve been here before. I’m happy to stand corrected but the last time Harlee ended up involved in anything Eclipse related, I’m sure it was more a case of his full moon ?

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From Full Moon to a total eclipse

Nico Yennaris summed up the mood perfectly. His Twitter quote focussing on the positive rather than the obligatory ‘going again.’ Of all the players he has had to endure the most unwarranted criticism this season. And unfairly in my opinion. How pleasing that it was he who grabbed the decisive second goal today, at the same time opening his account for the Bees.

As he noted afterwards,  “Great to get back to winning ways. Excellent performance from the boys and delighted to get my first goal for the club” .

The other real point for those of us relying on the Internet for our match updates was the absence of Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett on Beesplayer. I know Ciaran was present but his role seemed limited to a brief cameo rather than the excellent wingman position he’d made his own in recent weeks.

Instead, the returning Mark Chapman proved once more that being able to produce an award winning programme does not, by default, make you a pundit. And I’m sorry – I don’t want to sound critical on a day like today. But it just highlighted the fantastic service we’ve had this last month or so and Ciaran was sorely missed.

Likewise, instead of perhaps having an injured/ex player as part of the comms team and talking us through that ‘big match’ experience, we had Mark talking us through his miss at the Feltham Power League on Thursday night. Surely paying subscribers deserve better than this? Absolutely.

As for Mark Burridge, how do you replace perfection? With our commentator par-excellence now on holiday, Alan Denman had the unenviable job of filling in. Moreso, he was tasked with a first half that seemed to provide all the excitement of a pre-season friendly. That was no fault of his and, as we are all aware, the second 45 was certainly a different kettle of fish.

Actually, I thought Alan did well to keep it together. How do you make paint drying (first half, at least) sound exciting? But regardless of the action, or lack of, what was the reason behind the constant references to Yeneris rather than Yennaris; Lassa rather than Lasse ? I would never attempt commentary, or being a pundit, but is it really that hard to get the names of your team right?

As I say, it seems trite to be overly critical. The point is made more to demonstrate the symbiotic partnership we’ve been treated to from Mark B and Ciaran.

Let’s hope that, as we’ve seen today on the pitch, normal service is soon resumed off it once more.

Nick Bruzon

X-rated stuff at Rotherham. And that was just off the pitch

28 Feb

Two steps forward, two steps back. Not so much Paula Abdul and M.C. Skat Kat (kids, ask your parents) but the feeling around Brentford after a 2-1 defeat at Rotherham United yesterday. The Millers were always going to be tough opposition, given their perilous position in the relegation zone and so it proved. But with basement club Charlton Athletic going down to Reading by the odd goal in 7(seven) yesterday, at least we have a chance ‘to go again’ next weekend.

What can you say? I wasn’t at this one so had to rely on Bees Player, where Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett brought us the action along with a cameo from Sean Ridley who appeared just before kick off. Our video whizz kid popped up holding what Mark described as the biggest hot dog ever, to opine further on the forthcoming game.

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A sausage added to the pre-match chat

In addition, one of the home supporters seemed to be doing his level best to join in with the commentary once it all kicked off. It was the sort of language more suited to an x-rated movie than a football match and highlighted the perils of building the press box amongst the supporters. One for the builders to take note of for Lionel Road, when it happens.

He seemed quite sure that the Brentford players were unable to do something, although I couldn’t quite figure out what. This, despite his constant screaming of “You can’t, you can’t” (at least, I think that’s what he was shouting). ‘Defend’ was the suggestion from one terrace wag. Well done Mark B in maintaining his composure throughout this first half barrage.

If it didn’t sound great the subsequent highlights show Rotherham had the lions’ share of chances. And goals. Indeed, when the most memorable thing to come out of the afternoon seems to have been the presence of Toumani in the away end (well played, that man) it’s one we’re just going to have to chalk off to experience and hope the Charlton game sees things get back to normal. Whatever normal is for this season.

Mark and Ciaran do their thing.

I have no quibbles whatsoever with Dean’s team selection. It was about as attacking as it comes given the options available to him at present. Sadly though, the heroics against Wolves just couldn’t be repeated.

Indeed, the lunchtime aperitif of Wolves v Derby showed that the men from Molineux can play a bit, when they put their mind to things. A 2-1 home victory was all the more noteworthy after a brace from George Saville of all people. Despite my own assertions on Wednesday, perhaps he can find the back of the net when he puts his mind to it.

As ever, Twitter was the other place to be for those not able to make the journey. Luis Adriano showing he knows as much about me when it comes to reading a game. It’s all his fault, perhaps?

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Is Luis a goalkeeper? It’s all his fault

Then there were the post-match tweets from the players. Honest enough from their perspective although a somewhat familiar path being trod here. As one supporter (Jacks Dad) noted, “Cut and paste working overtime this season.

Harlee: Sorry to all who travelled up. No where near good enough.

Sergi Canos: Sorry to all who travelled up today…

I thought we might have turned a corner after the poor run that had preceded the Wolves game. Sadly it wasn’t to be, this time. To be honest, after a season of managerial upheaval, the pitchgate affair and all those player sales, when we look back it’ll probably be considered quite an achievement for Brentford to stay up this season. And if we can do it without any further unrest over the next few months, all the better.

Then again, we’re Brentford FC. We don’t do things normally or quietly.

It’s only Sunday morning yet already I can’t wait for the Charlton game. This is the club we support – whether in the Championship, Ryman Premier or any division. We may not always agree with the team selections, the staff appointments, the transfer policy or the tactics. We may not always leave the game happy when the referee blows his final whistle. Certainly, we may not always agree with each other.

But I’m a much happier man for knowing that regardless of everything else, the next game is just 6 days away.

Until then, here’s Paula Abdul and Skat Kat. Kind of….

Nick Bruzon

Will it be a red card for Mark or is all now forgiven?

27 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 win against Wolves. On paper, the neutral would probably mark this as an ‘away’ on their coupon. The Millers are struggling in the relegation zone whilst online bookmakers show the Bees as slight favourites. But no pre-match bet can ever factor in that most random of elements – the referee. Today’s is one who, over the early stages of his career, managed to earn himself a ban for having at dig at Liverpool (amongst the several other clubs he managed to upset).

Mark Brown is our man in the middle today and, being honest, his stats are very impressive for this season. I don’t recall him troubling us in the past whilst 71 yellow and 2 red in his 21 games over 2015/16 suggest a record that is hardly in Trevor Kettle or Keith Stroud territory . The only slight caveat being that the four he has officiated at Championship level (he is yet to grace the Premier League) have seen 16 bookings and a red.

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Mark Brown – as seen in his Football League website bio (worth a read)

Of course, this could just mean the Championship is a more physical place and, likewise, two of those games have involved Birmingham City. In those encounters alone, 11 of the 16 yellows, along with one of the reds, were shown.

During his first season as a referee, Brown himself was shown the red card. He received a three week ban in 2011 for making fun of then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard on Twitter. Specifically, his highlighting the Reds’ unlikely chance of winning the Premier League that season.

The football authorities took a somewhat dim view of this although, personally, I think it simply demonstrates his excellent knowledge of football. Liverpool have struggled to win a raffle over the last 10 years but, maybe, this Sunday will be different.

Trawling the internet (or, rather, typing ‘Mark Brown referee’ into google) took me to the BBC, where November 2013 saw him upsetting Dave Kitson of Oxford United. His assessment included the terms “horrific“, “horrendous“, and “He is probably the most arrogant man I have ever come across on the pitch in my life”.

According to Burnley fan site, ‘Clarets Mad’, that debut season saw Brown “ridiculously” send off Kieran Trippier for two yellow cards. They go on to note that manager Eddie Howe (during his spell of not being a Messiah), “accused him of being too influenced by the crowd

All of this was a while ago, of course. Brown doesn’t appear to have troubled anybody too much in recent seasons and his forays into the Championship would seem to suggest his career is now on the rise. Here’s hoping. There’s nothing worse than a card happy ref to ruin what should, otherwise, be a fascinating contest between a side fighting for survival and a Bees outfit who will be keen to show that Tuesday wasn’t a one off.

I’m full of confidence in regards to Mark. Stats don’t normally lie and those previously mentioned instances are in the past. Besides (crowbar alert) we could have Trevor Kettle ruining the show. When I said at the top end that no pre-match bet can factor in the ref, there is always an exception. And it is Kettle.

His reputation has now become so synonymous in the football world with poor performance that supporters are placing bets on his awarding a penalty / showing red today ( at odds of 6/1 and 4/1 respectively, for the record). The game is the bottom of league two clash Dagenham and Yeovil. With all to play for in a desperate struggle, could this come in…?

Whilst, ordinarily, no-one wants to see those sort of bets come in (punters aside), the pun potential of “players in hot water”, “tempers boiling over” and “T. Kettle left the manager steaming” can never be overlooked.

They are always a favourite of the Bees Player commentary team who, as I get that crowbar out once more,  will be a lifeline for many today. The Bees’ travelling support has been wonderful this season but another trip to Yorkshire so soon after Sheffield Wednesday is a huge undertaking.

As such, I’d imagine today’s two man team of Mark Burridge (our commentator par excellence) and Ciaran Brett (whose punditry skills are fast growing on me and, being honest, is stronger when working in a less crowded commentary box) will have a significant audience. Certainly, I’ll be amongst them when the show goes ‘live’ at 2.30pm.

Whatever cracks were made at the top end of this column about it being an ‘away’ win, I see it as anything but a guaranteed. Simply put, Rotherham have to win given their precarious position at the wrong end of the Championship table.

Let’s just hope the Bees show the same commitment that they did against Wolves. Likewise, that Mark Brown continues the same form he has shown this season.

Rotherham table

Are bums starting to squeak?

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

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Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

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The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon

Does Madonna know you’re here? Super Sammy does it again.

27 Jan

Oh Sammy Saunders, you are the love of my life. Oh Sammy Saunders, I’d let you…”. etc etc etc.   That’s plenty. You know the rest and this is a family publication. Yet full tribute is due to the ever popular winger who played a starring role as Brentford drew 1-1 with Leeds United at Griffin Park last night in the ultimate game of two halves.

That goal . Oh, that goal. Those watching in the stadium erupted. Those listening in at home on Bees Player, well I don’t know what they did but I can imagine. Picking up the ball close to the half way line, he ran at Leeds. And ran.

Like a modern day Forrest Gump (except enjoyable) nobody could stop Sam as the United defence parted like the Red Sea. And then, when he’d had more time to think about it than anybody wants or needs, he blasted it home into the bottom corner.

Charging straight through on the middle of goal is one of the hardest things to do – certainly in terms of a finish. Just ask Clayton. Much as I loved the big man, he was so much deadlier cutting in from the side or acting on instinct rather than given time to look into the whites of the goalkeeper’s eyes.

Yet Sam made no mistake and gave Brentford a deserved first half lead. His link up play with Max Colin down the right flank saw the Bees at their most dangerous as possession was dominated but goals failed to arrive.

And it was his removal from play, along with the arrival of Toumani Diagouraga on the hour, that saw the balance really shift. Leeds pushed and pushed as they were allowed into the game with Brentford unable to penetrate in the gusty conditions. Being fair, the visitors probably deserved their equaliser with the only surprise being that Toums didn’t get it (much to the relief of the bookies).

That it came from a very rare defensive lapse is almost a moot point. That’s football. These things happen and, ultimately, had we wanted the win then you need goals.

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Toumani makes his debut at Griffin Park as Steve Evans looks perplexed

Yoann Barbet had received glowing reports for his work at Preston on Saturday. Those who saw him in action last night for the first time could only agree. A few days ago I made some hard comments about, amongst other things, the strength of the team relative to last season. I stand by those yet, along with Maxime Colin, Yoann is looking like a fantastic acquisition from the new crop.

Calm, assured and oozing confidence. Tackles under pressure were made with a minimum of fuss and it felt as thought he’d been sitting alongside Harlee for months rather than just a few days.

Fair play to Josh McEachran, too. I though he had his best game in a Brentford shirt by a country mile. The midfield axis with Ryan Woods gives great hope for the future, if they can do this again.

John Swift remains a ball of confusion. For every deft touch and little shimmy was a ball into touch or a missed pass but, in the end, it was one of the old guard – Sam Saunders – who pulled the strings. I’m so pleased for him, too. Regular readers of these pages will know of my own admiration for our longest serving player as Sam showed, yet again, how dangerous a team can be when you run forward with the ball.

We even got a return to ‘Saunders Territory’ as everyone’s favourite number 7 (seven) briefly resumed free kick duties from Alan Judge. That said, I do have to ask what is going on with our ‘dead ball’ coach? Despite more walls than an ice cream shop we failed to find the back of the net. Just give it to Sammy and let him whack it.

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Bees 2 Leeds 2. The score in defensive walls

As for Steve Evans, it would be remiss not to talk about a visit from the ever popular Leeds manager. The Ealing Road were at their most vocal with the larger than life character (I said it was a family publication) being on the business end of most chants.

Does McDonalds know you’re here?” went one. I’m not sure if it was any better than the misheard equivalent that one terrace observer just behind me thought was being sung.

Why on earth would Madonna know he’s here?” was one question I never thought I’d hear asked. Worse, the mental imagery it then conjured up.

Some things are, perhaps, left in the dark recesses of the mind.

Nick Bruzon

What is it with service stations as Rangers lose out to Leeds?

26 Jan

Leeds United visit this evening. It’s going to be a strange one for sure with Brentford hero Toumani Diagouraga set to line up alongside former team-mate Stuart Dallas in Steve Evans’ team. In the end it wasn’t Mark Warburton and Rangers. Instead, the much anticipated, and photographed, transfer was confirmed by the club on Monday and Toums is now, officially, part of the set up at Elland Road. And over in Germany, a former Bee has got himself in a spot of hot water.

But we need to start with the worst kept secret in football. Alongside the normal rumours from the local and national press, social Media had been awash with comments from players and photographs from fans over the weekend that, let’s just politely say, indicated this was a ‘done deal’. Even Bees Player commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge has since released his own picture from Saturday after bumping into the player at a motorway service station.

Toumani and MArk B

Mark bumped into Toumani at the weekend

With all the transfer talk being about Judge to Sheffield Wednesday, Tarks (and my thoughts on his terrible news were published last night) to Burnley and even Toums to Rangers, this one took many by surprise when it was first suggested. But then we got the social media meltdown, evidence flying around and, finally, an announcement from the club when the deal was penned.

That’s football. As we’ve noted many times, like it or not club policy is normally one of making no comment until the ink is dry. Fair play to Mark B here, too. The temptation to release his photograph must have been immense but he remains professional to the last and kept this one tucked away until the news had been made official.

Moreso given that this wasn’t his first chance encounter at a service station on the way back from Preston ‘away’.  Keen eyed observers may recall he met none other than Keith Stroud a few years ago. This, well after the infamous ‘maddest game of football that ever existed’ up at Bramall Lane in which the dimuntive man in the middle…saw red. Even by his standards.

But we digress. Toumani is clear to line up against us tonight and, I would fully expect, he’ll get a heroes welcome this evening. From both sets of fans. “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the infamous song. Bookmakers currently have him at 7/1 to do it tonight at anytime. Expect that price to shrink. A lot.

Football loves a romantic story and, whilst in any other circumstance I’d hate to see anyone score against us (Karleigh Osborne for Bristol City two years ago being the exception) I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in having a little smile if it happened tonight. Preferably if we were already three up.

I hope the stewards are ready.

The other news to cross my timeline yesterday involved ‘Big’ Nick Proschwitz. You may have already seen the story in which the player, now at German club Padeborn, was reported to have ‘revealed’ himself for twenty seconds in front of a female employee. This, whilst under the influence of alcohol during a stay at a Turkish training club.

The club’s president has already come out and said that “Nick Proschwitz doesn’t belong to our squad anymore”. In defence, the former Bee has been quoted as saying, “ I didn’t have any pants on under my jogging trousers. One of the lads pulled my trousers down – but that was only for a second or so.”

Thankfully, he seems to have a key witness in his defence. The alleged victim. She has told German news agencies that, “At no point was I sexually harassed….The only thing that has harassed me is the false media reports. We barely noticed the fact that a player came into the room, pulled his trousers down and then immediately left.”

Barely noticed the player… Immediately left… I believe her.

Nick Bruzon