Tag Archives: Bernie Clifton

Cliff crowns a great day which even ‘that trumpet’ can’t ruin.

25 Mar

With Friday’s column bemoaning the lack of Brentford related activity over the International break, it was another case of exquisite timing as the club confirmed later in the day that work has now begun at the Brentford Community Stadium site on Lionel Road South. Over in Dublin, John Egan was in the squad for the Republic of Ireland against Wales last night although a rogue musical instrument threatened to outdo even the much maligned (and rightly so) alleged band of the England supporters.

But first, Lionel Road. There’s not too much to add in regards to the Stadium announcement beyond a huge sigh of relief and gratitude at this latest news. It seems almost an eternity away since the club’s plans were approved by Hounslow council back in December 2013. The Bees were then in League One and Uwe Rosler was (technically) still our manager although his move to Wigan Athletic was coming somewhat quicker than ours to a new home. Indeed, looking back on the BBC report from the time it notes that, “The Bees hope to move to the 7.6 acre site on Lionel Road from Griffin Park for the 2016-17 season.

Of course, we have had further referrals and the CPO to go through since that point which have delayed proceeding somewhat. And whilst , at times, I can’t help but think of Lionel Road without the words “Monorail, monorail” going through the head, finally things are under way. There was another ebullient statement from Cliff Crown whilst, along with the article on Brentford official, a new website launched at brentfordcommunitystadium.com in which supporters will be kept abreast of developments.

The only slight downside about his news being the lack of obligatory photograph featuring Cliff, Mark Devlin et al leaning on shovels and wearing hard hats. But, given this current stage of the project involves clearing the site in preparation for the main build, perhaps this construction related favourite is still to come.

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It really IS happening.

The other Bees related topic from yesterday was, of course, John Egan’s selection for the Republic of Ireland. Whilst he had to be content with a place on the bench, this remains a huge honour and it can’t be long, surely, until he wins his first cap. With another home game scheduled for Tuesday, a friendly with the darlings of Euro 2016 Iceland, he may not have long to wait. Here’s hoping that fully deserved honour comes John’s way imminently.

One thing that armchair viewers won’t be hoping for is a return of ‘that trumpet’. Far be it from me to criticise another nation’s culture and perhaps this is well received part of their International game. Personally, my own belief is that, much like goal music, spectator performed musical instruments should not be allowed anywhere near a football stadium. Whatever the form.

The list of offendors is a well travelled one. Who could forget the sound of the Vuvuzelas from World Cup 2010? About the only positive to be gleaned from England’s ineptitude in that one being that an early exit spared domestic supporters being obliged to put up the droning cacophony.

Then there’s John Westwood. The self proclaimed Mr. Portsmouth. Him in the stove pipe hat, wooden teeth and dreadlocked fright wig whom the cameras seem contractually obliged to make a beeline for whenever Pompey are on TV. He looks like he needs a good wash down with some bleach and a wire wool brush (think  – Russell Brand and his spray on perm-wear leather effect trousers)  whilst the noise, with that incessant ringing of a hand bell or use of a trumpet, must mean that season tickets in the near vicinity come with a health and safety warning.

Portsmouth bell

Can’t give Westwood the full oxygen of publicity. Bell. End of.

But, of course, the prime offenders are the alleged England supporters alleged band. Regular readers know the drill at this point. If you want the usual rant about the stale, off key parping and flat renditions of jingoistic greatest hits from Bernie Clifton and his uninvited cuckoos in the nest then you’ll find it here (along with a lot more nonsense).

They’ve always been the low point. Until now. And the lone trumpet at Ireland’s Aviva stadium. Who was it? Why was it? How can a solitary instrument cut so clearly through what was, by all accounts, a fervent and vocal crowd.You’d have heard this thing above a jumbo jet taking off. It was so shrill that, by all scientific fact, only dogs should have been able to hear the bloody thing.

Yet here it was. Clear as day. As annoying as Westwood guesting in the England ensemble with a vuvuzela. If there’s one thing that’s good for unifying football fans it’s hatred. Not of each other but of wind instruments.

And this was the consummate in unwelcome hot air. Not even the sound of Jota’s refrain could lift this into the realms of acceptability.

Matthew Benham has already made it quite clear that goal music will never, ever happen in his time. Let’s hope the ban extends to trumpets when Lionel Road is complete.

Nick Bruzon

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

21 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Once a Bee; now an Owl

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

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

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

That. Band. Never forget.

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

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

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

Roll on Friday, despite an unsavoury presence

7 Jun

Roll on Friday. EURO 2016 can’t come soon enough. Such is the dearth of Brentford related news and, in equal measure, anticipation for this most hotly contested of tournaments that not even Friday’s opener between France and Romania being on ITV has dampened the enthusiasm. Even the news of the alleged England supporter’s band being present (shakes fist angrily at Sheffield Wednesday supporters) hasn’t detracted any .

On the domestic front we’ve had nothing more than the ‘fake’ fixture list and more rumours about Jake Bidwell leaving Griffin Park for Loftus Road to keep us entertained these last few days. Please note – your definition of ‘entertained’ may vary. Much in the way the England supporters band might have been said to have ‘entertained’ locals with their moribund parping and jingoistic greatest hits.

Sorry – but I can’t stand them. You’ll find better atmospheres in a decompression chamber. Who, honestly, thinks a game is enhanced by their unwanted presence? Who honestly thinks any game is helped by hearing the theme tunes from ‘The Great Escape’ or ‘The Italian Job’ repeated ad-nauseam,  but not quite as you remember them? Not even ITV are that bad that they need their commentary team soundtracked by an off key version of the national anthem or 7 nation army. Something so cringeworthy that I won’t even dignify it with brackets.

With high profile sometime member Bernie Clifton boosted by a public renaissance following his appearance on TV’s ‘The Voice’ and then that album mix up with popular music’s Death Metal ensemble ‘Abhorrent Decimation’ – their track listing having been accidentally printed on the back of his recent ‘long player’  – could we see even more of this outfit than ever before?

I’m assuming Bernie is still part of this awful combo. Much like their setlist, they don’t appear to have actually updated their website since 2014.

Band banned

That. Band. Banned

Much as an early exit for England will see the country distraught, the only slight benefit would be a simultaneous departure for that band.Frankly, I’d rather listen to Abhorrent Decimation. FA, if you are reading this (you aren’t) they don’t represent the vast majority of supporters.

As it happens, England are going to top their group. An opening game draw with Russia will be followed by victories over Wales and Slovakia, giving Roy’s boys 7 (seven) points out of a possible 9.

From there, they play ACD3. That’s not, infact, a really poor covers band but the third place team out of those groups. With C and D already looking like the proverbial groups of death, could it be all over by June 25? Or will England be cruising past the likes of A’s Switzerland, Romania or Albania into the quarterfinals?

Only time will tell, of course. With this tournament being one of the most open in years, the last 16 could see some intriguing match ups and big names falling. The heart says England to win it but the head is still backing Germany. Purely because I see so many tight games going to  penalties and we just all know what happens there.

Back to the Bees, my own pre-season focus (until the proper fixture list comes out) remains on the new kit release. All we know so far is that it is in, that the club are working with a new sponsor, that both ‘home and away’ will be released on July 23rd and that ‘green’ is not involved. This time around.

Chief executive Mark Devlin dropped a further hint on Twitter last night, saying that :

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new sponsor. A ‘marketed’ launch (come on, video…..)

I’ve mentioned the infamous Blackburn video before (#Birdysdate on Twitter should help you find this). Here’s hoping we are going down a similar route i.e. of trying some sort of video launch and, certainly, something different. It’s going to be a painful enough wait as it is – let’s hope it’s worth our while . I have no doubt it will….

Until then, of course, we’ve got that month of International football to look forward to. I cannot wait for it all to start on Friday night.

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Thanks for reading.

Farewell to the king as season wraps up

26 May

What a Bank Holiday Monday. Mr Brentford, Kevin O’Connor, has officially ‘hung up his boots’ whilst over at Wembley, Norwich City made an immediate return to the Premiership after ousting Middlesbrough 2-0. And then there was more managerial intrigue at Griffin Park where the name of Marinus Dijkhuizen was the one on everybody’s lips after Jurgen Klopp’s admission he could order a beer in Spanish seemed to rule him out.

Jurgen Klopp. Sorry, but before we get any further that does just bear repeating. Even to be mentioned in the same breath is utterly bonkers yet, at the same time, symptomatic of how fast Brentford are accelerating. Talking to a source close to the club this morning, there is no official news out there yet although a tongue in cheek thought that, now Carlo Ancelotti has been sacked by Real Madrid, could his sudden availability cause any shortlist to be redrawn?

Middlesbrough. Whatever you feel about the way they kicked us off the park and ran down the clock, I do need to spare a thought for their fans after yesterday’s Championship play off final. Nobody wants to go through that and, perhaps, Brentford most of all can share that pain after eight unsuccessful attempts to get promoted in this fashion.

Warbs was on the Sky Sports pundits panel (as Harry's knee seems to have recovered)

Warbs was on the Sky Sports pundits panel (as Harry’s knee seems to have recovered)

Worse, it means a return to arms for ‘that drum’ next season. I’ve long been an advocate of the thought that musical instruments should not be allowed within 100 yards of a football stadium (see also: Yeovil, Portsmouth – bell, Bernie Clifton’s alleged England supporters alleged band). The supporter equivalent of ‘goal music’, any team needing these to kickstart the atmosphere need to take a look at themselves.

On the plus side, it gives us a chance to test ourselves against a team who, being fair, probably gave us the hardest time of any other opponents all season. 4-0 and 1-0 defeats in the league were followed by 2-1 and 3-0 reverses in the play off semis. Just as I enjoyed showing Wolves how far we’d come since last season (the 4-0 home win being the last thing they probably expected) I’m already keen to see how we fare against Boro’ next time around. Whoever out of Klopp, Dijkhuizen, Ancelotti, Warburton (you never know), Redknapp (leftfield, but…) this is one encounter that is going to be key to our season 2015/16.

But one person who won’t be playing any part, on pitch, is club captain Kevin O’Connor. Social media was awash with tributes after the club finally got a hashtag spot on and made the following announcement :

no comment needed

no comment needed

What can you say? If ever there was somebody that typified a team, that had been through the lows and the highs, that wore his heart on his sleeve but always played the game in the fairest possible style – it’s King Kev. So few players see out their career at one club but Kevin, in his 501 games, has joined that elite group.

Even during the hullabaloo of, and subsequent fallout from, ‘that penalty’ he did nothing but carry himself with the utmost of dignity. Yet how sweet was it to see him nail that last minute spot kick in the play off semi final at Swindon in the very next game?

Over his 501 games, Kevin has played in just about every position for Brentford. Except goal. But even that almost happened – certainly if you were to believe Hayes & Yeading from a few years ago.

Could King Kev have ended up playing in goal?

Could King Kev have ended up playing in goal?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Kevin will know what an absolute gentleman he is. Whether lining up with the fans to try and buy a beer (that didn’t happen) at the impromptu street part following promotion against Preston, just stopping for a chat in Braemar Road after a game or at the pre-season fans’ days. Whatever the occasion he has always taken the time to welcome the supporters.

Kevin – you’ll be missed on pitch but, at the least, your legacy continues in the new role at Griffin Park. Thanks for all the good times.

And finally, if anybody is looking for some holiday reading or just wants to reflect on what has been, frankly, an incredible season then the 2014/15 review is now available for download. Featuring the least bad bits of the Last word, some poor editing and even a bit of new material you can get it here for less than the price of a Griffin Park Balti pie or matchday programme.

Thanks for reading – here’s to pre season.

Available - now. If you fancy the season in one , pocket size, place

Available – now. If you fancy the season in one , pocket size, place

Is there a minimum length? Ours is short and stumpy.

27 Nov

With Wolves due to visit Brentford on Saturday we’ll start the Championship build up tomorrow but, first, I have one more question from Friday night’s win over Fulham.

The pages of this column are littered with unanswered conundrums. Some Brentford related; others more general.

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

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

Referee Salisbury plain as Hornets sting Bees

1 Oct

What can you see about that? Well done to Watford for taking their chances and taking all three points. Bad luck Brentford for playing, at times, some scintillating football and coming close to a draw that, on the balance of play, would have been the least we deserved.

That said, “Bad luck, well played and scintillating football” count for nothing if you can’t convert….

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

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

England. Fine on pitch; comedy off it. But not The Bees

9 Sep

It’s now ten days since Brentford last tasted Championship action, the 2-0 win at Rotherham, and with another 4 sleeps until Brighton visit Griffin Park I’m going up the walls. The EURO qualifiers have given partial respite but I still can’t get into these with the same passion as a domestic campaign on the doorstep.

Last night’s England game was an exact case in point. The team played well and deserved their 2-0 win. This wasn’t the ‘bore draw’ that many predicted and means they have, almost certainly, already qualified from the easiest group since records began.

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

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

Matthew Benham and Roy help lift the mood as Gibraltar are bracketed.

8 Sep

Very much a day of mixed emotions yesterday as former Brentford goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny (now plying his trade with Arsenal) kept Gibraltar at bay in their EURO 2016 opener against Poland. And by kept at bay, I mean barely had a look in as the boys from the Rock were on the wrong end of a 7(seven) – 0 bracketing.

Despite an even first half, it ended up being the sort of rout that nobody likes to see. It took Brentford owner Matthew Benham, who had earlier given a positive reaction to the ‘hot seat’ idea for Lionel Road, to fully lift my post match gloom with another view of one of his favourite football headlines.

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

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

Forget Clifton. Brentford – Crystal Palace is a friendly that offers Moore

1 Aug

With Brentford due to entertain Premiership side Crystal Palace on Saturday in our last warm up for life in the Championship, it does beg that perennial question about friendlies – What is the point?

This is where the distinct difference between games at International and club level becomes more apparent (and I don’t mean in terms of player quality, with England’s World Cup showing making them very much the poor relations on that front).

I’ve long ranted about these – certainly when it comes to England. Despite looking and sounding like the real thing, they suffer from a total lack of punch. The footballing equivalent of alcohol-free beer or any James Bond film that doesn’t star Roger Moore.

Plus, internationally, you have the added pain of Bernie Clifton and his alleged supporter’s band…

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

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

England down but not (quite) out. At least Brentford shone.

20 Jun

I have to start with the World Cup and England being beaten by Uruguay. My one word match report: Suarez.

Whatever you say about England’s failings or those things we did well (erm, Wayne Rooney scored. A World Cup goal) the ultimate difference between the two teams was a world-class striker. Say what you want about him, and many have – including my own proclamation at 9am in the office that “Suarez is knackered – he won’t do anything tonight”, but the quality of his finishing and the timing of his runs was magnificent.

With the England defence less holding the line and more tied up in knots by it, twice he opened us up as easily though we were nothing more than a jar of caramel spread.

Poor Roy looked shell-shocked afterwards. Captain Steven Gerrard didn’t even face the cameras. But, are there any positives?

Firstly we are still in it. Unlike deposed champions Spain or Australia

We can still qualify for round 2. All we need is Italy to beat Costa Rica; England to beat Costa Rica; qualified Italy to beat a Uruguay side also in need of three points; goal difference to do us a favour.

Likewise, demoralised by defeat I didn’t stay up to sit through Japan and Greece drawing 0-0. That was an extra 90 minutes of sleep I wouldn’t ordinarily have had.

Best of all though, unless the ITV sound quality was as bad as their World Cup jingle (which sounds like a Nokia 3310 ring tone and must have taken all of ten seconds to come up with) Bernie Clifton and his ‘England Supporter’s band’ were nowhere in evidence. Being on the brink of going out is frustrating enough but then having to watch Suarez destroy us, sound tracked by a flaccid rendition of ’Love will tear us apart’, would have been a final kick in the knackers.

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It could have been so much worse last night

Back at domestic level, earlier in the day the Brentford club shop held the launch of next season’s home shirt. This was another great event with players and Natalie Sawyer, amongst others, in attendance over the course of the afternoon and doing a great job on behalf of the club. As ever, they couldn’t be more welcoming.

The only thing missing was a ‘sneak peak’ at the away shirt….

England may be standing on the edge but at least anticipation for the forthcoming Championship season is cranking up nicely.

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Proud dad takes his son shopping – not even I’ve got one of these shirts yet

(‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ The combined story of Brentford’s season  2013/14 – amongst other things –  is now available on kindle. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle )