Tag Archives: Ben Burgess

Bees have to settle for another point as Birmingham lose (but win the sack race).

17 Sep

Brentford 1 Reading 1. Eight league games down and the Bees still to register a win. Yet a point was, at the least, sufficient to take us above a Birmingham City side who lost their sixth successive game and consequently sacked manager Harry Redknapp. Oh please, stop sniggering. And with basement club Bolton Wanderers losing again, it puts even more significance on our own trip to the Macron this Saturday.

What can you say about our own performance at Griffin Park? Well, the first half was as good as the second was poor whilst referee Tony Harrington….

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Reading were the latest visitors to Griffin Park

 

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The Bees had to rely on themselves rather than the officials


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Clem’s gut reaction says it all

 

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A point sees the Bees rise above big spending Birmingham

Nick Bruzon

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Could we have to make any tougher a decision? What a choice awaits.

25 Apr

Monday really was a day that saw us entering the final days of the current Championship campaign. Newcastle United confirmed their return to the Premier League, although the battle with Brighton to see which of the teams who achieved automatic promotion will be crowned champions is one which will could still go down to the final round of games. And on the subject of winning titles (oh, the subtly) Brentford have officially opened voting for the 2016/17 player of the year.

We all know what’s happened at Griffin Park this season. The second half of the campaign especially has seen some of the most free flowing and exciting football to be played by Brentford in years. This, despite the sale of top scorer Scott Hogan to Aston Villa in January.

Yet following that move, the Bees have flourished. Lasse Vibe has moved to within one strike of the former Bee in the Championship leading scorer’s table, with Jota just behind. Ah, Jota. To say he has had an eventful return to Griffin Park would be like saying the Titanic had a few stability issues.

Few of us honestly thought he’d be back after heading out to Eibar on loan, myself included. And even when there was talk of a possible return, being quite honest there was no way he could match former glories. Especially with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Was there?

He hasn’t just matched them but taken his, and our, game to a whole new level. We’ve all seen the goals, the runs and the beautiful touches that have left opposition players floundering. Richard Keogh (Derby County) and Jake Bidwell (QPR) being just the latest to have been left with egg on face .

Yet Jota seems to play for pure pleasure. Something that could also be said of fellow Spaniard Sergi Canos out on the other wing. His return to Brentford has been an equally wonderful one.

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Danni showed perfectly how Twitter can be used to capture the current mood.

Then there are the new boys. Rico Henry has hit the ground running at 100mph whilst John Egan’s performance have propelled him toward selection for the Republic of Ireland. Romaine Sawyers has scored some stunners whilst, at times, totally bossed the midfield. His defence splitting passes are a thing of absolute beauty whilst Saturday against QPR saw me wondering if he had no fear, no danger sense or just supreme confidence – such were the deft touches and trickery he demonstrated.

How about Dan Bentley? What can you say about him beyond a huge doffing of the hat? The prospect of losing David Button was one that genuinely worried me but he’s not even been missed, such is the huge impact Dan has made. You could probably count the mistakes on the fingers of one finger yet the world class saves have been legion. He kept us alive on more than one occasion at the start of the season as the team found our collective feet and, right up to Saturday, has continued to pull top draw saves out of the bag.

As for the (metaphorical) elder statesmen, it really is a case of unsung heroes. Ryan Woods has, at times, seemed to be filling three midfield roles in his constant quest to tackle and distribute. He really is a serious contender for this season’s honour. Yoann Barbet has proven just why he was picked out in our new look recruitment drive with wonderful tackles and a fair few goals being added to his game. Pity Dean Smith having to pick between him, John Egan and Harlee.

Ah, Harlee Dean. The player on a one man mission to become the new Mr Brentford. He has been incredible. A colossus at the back this season, up there with the likes of Terry Evans. He’s had to learn his game over the last few seasons but now it is complete, just what a player. The tackles, the voice, the leading by example, the goals, the back heels (hmm, maybe not too many of those). He’s doubled up as a last minute target man whilst those driving runs forward have been a wonderful development to his style of play.

HB Harlee and Dan

Harlee – has led by example all season. A fine role model.

What about Nico? Josh? Max Colin? Any of them. It really is a tough call this time around. Reading the Ben Burgess article in the match day programme on Saturday, he was bemoaning the fact that so much player of the year voting takes place in February. Certainly, for the national awards. Yet this despite the season still having a third of the way to go.

It really was fascinating piece and, from a personal perspective, Ben’s column has been one of the standout features in the match day programme this time around. What an honour for the club to have some truly intelligent writing on the back page !

Well Ben, when it comes to Brentford you have your wish. The only question now being who to vote for. Good luck anybody trying to pick one out of those. And for those wishing to have their say, ‘official’ have the full details and form on the club website.

As for next season, the Championship has been nothing more than a one shot deal for Newcastle United. The Rafalution has been a triumphant one (despite the awful, awful hashtag) and at least we can rest easy in not needing to pack the mountaineering gear next campaign. Massive congratulations to the Magpies and, of course, Brighton for what was a supremely exciting battle.

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Worst. Hashtag. Ever. But a great performance from Newcastle United

Despite being Bookies’ favourites, Newcastle haven’t had it all their own way with pundits being reminded, yet again, that the Championship isn’t the cake walk a big club might expect. Aston Villa, we’re looking at you. Indeed, even the title looks a long way off with a four point deficit and two games to play keeping the Magpies just about alive in that race. Whilst you’d fancy the Seagulls to scoop the title, anything can happen in football and nobody at Griffin Park needs any reminders about what can happen in the final promotion shootout. I’m pretty sure there was something about a penalty?

Instead, they look certain to be replaced by Sunderland and Middlesbrough, at the very least. The trip to Sunderland one already being anticipated by many at Griffin Park whilst Middlesbrough will be very familiar territory.

Still, all that’s for another time. We’ve got two more games and a higher finish than last season to focus on. And, of course, deciding on just who to vote for.

I now know what my decision is, but I don’t fancy yours much. What a choice.

Nick Bruzon

Mark Chapman gives strip tease as Bees prepare for Blackburn

7 Nov

I’ve had Will Smith stuck in my head for the last 24 hours and it’s not a good thing. Whilst most sane Brentford supporters will be getting ready for the trip to Blackburn Rovers and wondering if we can bounce back after the midweek defeat to Hull City, my mind has been elsewhere.

I blame deputy head of Media and Communications, Mark Chapman. In a good way, mind you. He published a story on the official site yesterday announcing that we’ll be in a new third kit and one which, for the Blackburn game, will have the additional detailing of the Royal British Legion poppy.

And so instead of looking at those normal pre-match points – of which there are many – I’ve been focused on trying to oust, “Here come the men in black” from its unholy place as the current ‘earworm’. And, at 6.45 am on Saturday morning, it is a challenge that still shows no sign of being successful.

Here come the men in black etc etc etc

Here come the men in black etc etc etc

All of which is providing somewhat of a distraction. Then again, the regular reader of this site or the matchday programme (where ‘the last word’ may have been dumped by powers outside of my control but I still get to annoy you with ‘kit obsessive’) will know about my fascination with all things ‘kit’ related.

This brief teaser we’ve been offered as to the latest effort has certainly piqued my curiosity. Moreso, because it won’t, officially, be for sale to the general public or fanatics. That said, anybody feeling particularly generous will be able to bid on the Blackburn matchday shirts to raise money for the aforementioned British Legion. It is a wonderful cause but at this time of year it may, sadly, be a gap that remains in my collection.

I’m not, generally, a huge fan of black shirts. Specifically because the Bees should play in blue as our away colour. Then again this is a third shirt. Moreso, from the glimpse given, is looking like one that could be really quite special. With a hint of the silver last seen in our special shirt to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, it looks like it could be something to potentially break into our top five ‘away’ kits of all time.

Brentford - unbeaten in silver

Brentford – unbeaten in silver

And enough with the shirt.

Getting back to all matters Blackburn related, the main question that Brentford fans will be wondering is whether Alan Judge will put in an appearance against his former club.

From what I’ve read, it would seem unlikely that October’s Championship player of the month will appear but one can live in hope. Besides, if the team can match the same heights and intensity as seen on Tuesday against Hull (at least, until the Tigers turned it up to 11) then we have every chance.

Hull, somehow, raised their performance one better than the maximum 10

Hull, somehow, raised their performance one better than the maximum 10

Moreso if we get the chance to look at Sam Saunders. He was on the bench during the week and I’m itching to see Sam involved at some point. If nothing else, our much-touted dead ball coach hasn’t had too much success from free kicks so far this campaign. As one terrace wag is forever noting, “I hope he’s not being paid on commission”.

Then again, if the man who elicits that most favourite of phrases whenever the referee whips out his can of shaving cream – “And this is Saunders territory” – is playing then there could be food on the table once more, Chez free kick coach.

One man who won’t is Lewis Macleod. As Kevin O’Connor’s development squad recorded their fifth successive victory on Friday, Lewis lasted just thirteen minutes before being replaced by Josh Laurent. The article on the club site includes the explanation from Kev that, “It was just precautionary really….He said he felt a tiny twinge; we’re not taking any chances with him, so we took him off.”

And as a final thought, I was going to stick up the Will Smith video but, frankly, I’m not that cruel. And besides, thinking about Sam Sunders for the last 15 minutes (in a footballing sense) has proven somewhat of a pleasant distraction. So instead, I’ll take you back to last season’s game and Jota’s wonder goal in our 3-2 victory at Ewood Park.

The phrase ‘Burridgegasm’ was one coined that day and which has stuck ever sense. Then again, when you see the video and hear the comms, we can understand why.

Let’s hope they’ve finished mopping up in the Blackburn press box.

With club hero Ben Burgess and the aforementioned Mark Chapman joining Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box, I know where I’ll be at 2.30 today.

Enjoy the game.

Nick Bruzon

Guess who’s back? Wanted: 32 Bees (preferably with balls)

17 Apr

Brentford players get around a bit. From Ipswich Town to Norwich City ; Colchester United to Oxford and beyond. The circle of former Brentford players is a vast one and that’s just those who are still playing.

It was a circle I dipped back into last night as plans began for the (now) annual end of season ‘Bees Legends’ game at Griffin Park. Due to take place on May 18th – watch out for the official announcement soon – it is currently shaping up as battle of Bee versus Bee.

I say battle. Anybody who was present for last season’s encounter at the Skyex Community Day, a Nathan Elder and BBB inspired 6-4 win for the Legends, would have seen their heroes roll back the years in a stunning display of pass and move, played in a great atmosphere. But that was against the ‘Showbiz’ XI.

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BBB and Paul Abrahams look on as Gareth Graham strikes last season

 

This year, the plan is for the Bees face off against each other for the ultimate in bragging rights. As before, Paul Gibbs is the architect of the game and has dusted off his little black book to start putting the squads together (along with Nick Hester, Simon Cox, yours truly and the real legend that is Peter Gilham).

To say it is already looking like an exciting line up would be putting this mildly but, equally, two teams make up a lot of players. 32, to be precise (or 33 if we have to factor in the inevitable hamstring injury to Gibbo).

As such, I need to make a direct request to our reader. If you are a former Brentford player reading this (it’s possible) or, more likely, you know an ex-Bee (still playing or otherwise) then please get in touch. Either through Peter at the club, the Legend’s facebook page (www.facebook.com/BeesLegends) or myself, erm, here or on Twitter (@nickbruzon).

And as for the balls? Well, last year’s game almost didn’t take place. It was only when the players were changed, the fans were in the stadium and the opposition had arrived that the referee asked to inspect the match ball….

Note to self: When arranging a football match, the ball is the most important piece of equipment to bring. Cue one made dash around TW8, even the club didn’t have one available, until the necessary was found.

Consider that a lesson learned !

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The Legends, 2013. Who will make up the 2014 team(s)?

Is it time to give Adi,Das Boot up Der Backside?

17 Sep

It almost feels like heresy asking this question.

For years, the legendary 1980-81 Adidas top has been the ‘Holy Grail’ for Brentford fans and shirt collectors. A ‘one season only’ deal with the German giants, you’ve more chance of Keith Stroud keeping the red card in his pocket (latest beneficiary – Shane Lowry, Millwall v Derby, Sept 15th) than finding one of these. As stylish as a night out with Sam Saunders, Shaleum Logan and Allan Cockram ‘dressed to kill’ (not literally, that would be murder) the optimistic request to see if anybody has a spare is a regular visitor to the GPG. Indeed, you can see where it ranks in my all time top ten home shirts (not that I have one) further along.

As such, when the rumours and leaked photographs were confirmed, and the announcement was made that Adidas were returning as our technical sponsor, the excitement was palpable. Moreso given the previous campaign’s lack of stripes on Puma’s ‘tea bag/string vest’ effect back.

ImageInitial reaction was positive. A bold yet simple design whilst an unperforated back meant there was no way you’d leave a sunny game looking as though you’d fallen asleep on a bed of nails. There were still no stripes on the reverse (league regulations – to which Sheffield United were immune – apparently) but, at least, a vivid red akin to the British Lions rugby team.

Dare I say it; I actually find this a good look (although I also have a penchant for the white yoke of the Osca ’83). A touch of black, perhaps on the famous stripes, would have been the cherry on the sartorial cake but that aside, a very well received shirt.

So far, so good. Until you tried to get hold of one. Initial supplies were delayed, despite advance order, to the point where even the players had to go on the pre-season tour of, ironically, Germany in generic training wear and last season’s strip.

Whilst our female supporters have been spared the indignity of having their bra straps on show this time round, they’ll have to do it in a man’s shirt (or, ‘home’ as it is branded). The world’s most famous sport’s manufacturer doesn’t do a female fit shirt, although to be fair this also seems to be an issue for the clubs they supply in the Premiership. Look at Southampton or Fulham’s websites, for example, and you see the same ‘home’ shirt.  Indeed, you have to go up as high as Chelsea before finding an English team for whom they produce a female specific fit. Welcome to the 21st century!

Then there were the issues with the sponsor on the away kit before, finally, new supplies were received yesterday (Monday).

Except if you are an adult ‘XL’. You’ll have to wait until Christmas if you’d like one of those but, hey, at least it’s not a common size.

Now I don’t hold the club particularly responsible for this. They have been at pains to make out how they have been let down. That said, it seems a farcical situation. Do Adidas want to have their cake and eat it- a massive branded shop, a contract with an upcoming club but then no supply? Have the club sold their soul for the thirty pieces of silver that is the panache of an Adidas deal, and now have to suffer the consequences of a supplier who doesn’t appear to give a monkey? Have the Germans even made a statement of apology to the club and fans?

It’s a massive shame as it is a great kit and, with stripes on the back already confirmed for next season, there is still hope for a ‘best ever’ Brentford shirt. Assuming we’ll have them in the club shop.

I just hope somebody in Brentford’s marketing team is able to renegotiate the deal in our favour because, as an outsider looking in, we seem to be over the proverbial barrel. After the Puma sizing debacle you’d think we’d learn. Fingers crossed, then, that someone is given an almighty boot in the Adidas branded ball bag and pulls their finger out. Its time we earned our stripes.

The top ten Brentford home shirts.

Much to Mrs. Bruzon’s despair, my side of the wardrobe is taken up with Brentford shirts I’ve collected over the years. Various tops have become ‘the lucky one’ before some previously unforeseen twist of fate (usually Stroud related) has necessitated a new ‘lucky one’. Over the summer, I was talking to Mark Chapman about the feature the club have now started on old shirts in the match day programme and it got me thinking. I’ve already published my top ten league horrors from this season but what are my top ten Brentford classics? Well, with a bit of help from the good people at the ‘historical kits’ website (which is well worth a mooch around), here they are….

Image10:  2004-05 Our Sponsor is St George. Why not add a horizontal red bar to fashion a St. George cross? As marketing ideas go, it’s so ridiculous it’s genius.

 

 

 

 

 

Image9 : 1998-2000 Memories of Hermann, Ron Noades (there were a couple of good ones), Lloyd Owusu and that last game ‘winner takes all’ title decider at Cambridge United. We won.

 

 

 

 

 

Image8: 1992 -94 Farewell Osca. Goodbye Chad. Welcome Hummel. Finally, a brand you’d heard of outside West London.  The great Danes supplying a shirt that had the honour of seeing Brentford’s brief foray into the second tier of League football.

 

 

 

 

 

Image7: 1904-05 Its not red and white but was worn in our first ever season at Griffin Park. Bonus points awarded by the humungous error that saw the ‘Toffs’ retro shirt company try to reproduce this from a colourised b&w photo – oops.

 

 

 

 

 

Image6: 2000-02 Play off pain but Paul Gibbs; BBB; Paul Evans. We had fun getting there and looked good to boot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image5: 1976-77 Central badge; no sponsor. Awesome stuff. We should try it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image4: 1988-89 Pin stripes & a funky bee. They shouldn’t work. They didn’t. But, actually, time is a great healer and the memory od seeing Gary Blissett & co embark on THAT cup run probably helps this sit higher up than it has any right to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

Image3 1980-81 This is it. The Adidas effort. Everybody wants it .I love it. Could we be going down this route next year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image2: 1983-84 This. Is. Brilliant. The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant. Given the choice, I’d take this over the Adidas every time. What WERE they thinking?

 

 

 

 

 

Image1 1990-92 KLM sponsored. Chad manufactured. Title winning. Simple but stunning and the most evocative of memories. My all time favourite, hands down