Tag Archives: Birmingham City

Can our own Winston Churchill inspire further success ?

22 Feb

It seems an age since Brentford picked up a point at Birmingham City last weekend. Since then we’ve all had a chance to wonder just what happened to the guy in the green jacket. We’ve beaten Albion Rovers in the World Cup of programme covers final after an epic semi-final replay defeat of Blyth Spartans. We’ve learned that Bryan Mbeumo has recovered and will be starting today. Likewise that Sergi Canos is fit, although that’s a different set of pictures. Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have held Fulham in game that, arguably, they could have won last night –  a result that would have been the perfect tonic ahead of today’s visit from Blackburn Rovers. Yet as one New Road observer opined last night : ‘Result! More dropped points’. And he’s right. It is a result that means a win for Brentford this lunchtime is guaranteed to take us third, just one point behind Leeds United ahead of their own home banker against Reading. But , as ever, things are never as easy as they may seem on paper. Blackburn sit just outside the play-offs, very much sneaking up the blind side to a position where their own three points in front of the Sky cameras will see them edge into sixth. 

This is very much a day with everything to play for. Very much a day for Brentford to make a name for themselves and for Blackburn Rovers to try and ruin our moment with their own promotion seeking agenda. I’m just glad this one is a lunchtime kick off. There’s less time to wait until things get going albeit it’s somewhat of a drag for those living away from TW8. Welcome to what may await should we be successful in our aim of starting life at Lionel Road in the Premier League. 

That in itself being a phrase (or variant of) I have to pinch myself each time it is written. Not because we don’t deserve to be where we are. We do. The table doesn’t lie and this team is one of THE best we’ve ever had the good fortune to see. More because we all know how grim things were for so long. How desperately we all fought just to keep the club alive. It is a point we do return to on these pages as much to remind ourselves how incredible it will be should the dream play out.

Standing in our way today are Blackburn Rovers. We’ve a lot to thank them for. Mainly David Raya who has been one of the major contenders for player of the season. No goalkeeper in the Championship has conceded less than his 27 in 33 games. With the BMW firing at the other end, just think how significant this may prove to be when the final seasonings play out.

Then again, the Blackburn defence is pretty miserly. They’ve barely troubled the ‘A’ column this year and their last two games have seen back to back clean sheets as they picked up wins over Charlton and Hull City. It is a string of results that has marked a positive start to 2020 and now the play-off zone is beckoning. But what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Think Batman v The Joker or KITT v KARR in Knightrider. Who comes off unscathed? Who can pick a less relevant cultural reference ?

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KITT v KARR. The BMW v Blackburn

The heart, of course, says Brentford come out on top. The head says this is football. This is never easy. Nothing is guaranteed . It’s why this year has already seen Leeds United come unstuck against Wigan. Against QPR. Against Sheffield Wednesday. Held by many others. Why Charlton won at Nottingham Forest the Tuesday before last. Editor – bring forth the clichés. Every game absolutely needs to be taken as it comes. Past form counts for nothing when the referee blows his whistle – opponents expected to roll over and die rarely do. Something which would be very much appreciated if Reading could also adhere to.

Pressure can do strange things to top sides but confidence can also inspire them. If we carry on doing what we’ve been doing, and the crowd keep it loud, today has the possibility to be an auspicious one. Our fans are nothing but magnificent, as we saw again at Birmingham City on Saturday. Harry Potter in evidence, as ever. Loud and proud.  Our own man in the green jacket very much helping play a part in out-smarting theirs. More of the same very much the order of the day.

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Elsewhere, it would be remiss of us to not to round up recent coverage of the World Cup of Programme Covers event that has played out on Twitter. We’ve not graced these pages over the last few days – mainly due to half-term based exhaustion. Self-inflicted as a social life has, oddly, reared it’s head once more. Ahh – alcohol and live music – I welcome you both back into my life, old friends. Guinness, The Strokes and Bluetone Mark Morris amongst others to get in the way of writing this nonsense.

As such, we’d left things in the build up to the semi-final with Blyth Spartans. An incredible victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat as a last second vote in Brentford’s favour took the tie with Roger Mellie to a dead heat. You couldn’t make it up. Scenes. Limbs (whatever they are) and all other manner of cyber celebration greeted the result. A bitter gut punch to the stomach of the Viz inspired red-hot favourite. The replay seeing Bees cruise into a final shoot out with Albion Rovers.

We looked dead. Buried. The people’s favourite from North-of-the-border storming into a 72% lead until…. the votes began to swing. Was it the ‘RT’ from official that did it? Or just good taste coming to the fore? Either way, the Daliesque stylings of Albion’s wing wizard were pushed in to second place. The victory ours. The tournament complete. A plucky runner up denied the prize of victory which many, myself included, could have had no complaints with had they won.

And finally…. Editor – bring forth the crowbar. Whilst normally I don’t bang on about the match day programme, today is different.

The team have produced an issue based on the classic design from season 1991. A time when the Bees finally achieved promotion from what is now League One and those of us a bit longer in the tooth were wondering whether this really was the last we’d seen of Kinightrider.  Aswell as interviews with David Raya and Lee Towersey – the man behind the controls of R2D2 in Star Wars (apparently), Greville Waterman’s look back at the aforementioned promotion and my own personal favourite page Triple B, (Big) Ben Burgess – The Last Word (if nothing else, it’s a great title) I would crave your indulgence for my own column. If for no other reason then the hope that before the end of the season we may be able to bring back an old friend. Or two……

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Nick Bruzon

Storm in a B cup.

16 Feb

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

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

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

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

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Goooaaaalllll !!

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

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

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

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

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

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

* subject to play-off fixtures

Nick Bruzon

 

There wouldn’t be a more beautiful set of brackets in football this season.

15 Feb

Saturday morning. 6.30am. It already has the feel of one of those days. No District line. No Piccadilly line. No South West Trains service. Even leaving Brentford to get as far as a station feels as though it is going to be epic. That’s nothing to do with Storm Dennis but simply the most ill thought out combination of track upgrades since – urghh, it’s too early for an analogy. Then again, time to grit those teeth, put head down and find a Plan C. Preferably one that doesn’t involve the four most horrific words in the English language – rail replacement bus service. The trip to Birmingham City awaits and it promises to be epic. With the added incentive of Nottingham Forest v West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United hosting Bristol City, today definitely has the feel of, erm, one of those days. One to focus on the positive and what may be. Subject to the weather.

Cheer up Harlee Dean. etc etc etc. Been there, done that. Whilst I’ll be amazed if we don’t hear at least one refrain of that song following his infamous comments on that ill-fated ‘Blues Cruise’, there are bigger things to focus on today. The promotion race remains wide open and the primary concern for Brentford has to be in looking to pick up those three points. Other results going our way could, theoretically, see us finish the day in that second place we occupied briefly during the midweek fixture against Leeds United.

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Don’t shoot the messenger. He said it. Not me.

Then again, other results could, theoretically, see Leeds United end the day outside the top six. Victories for the Bees, Forest, Fulham (a home banker against Barnsley) combined with Bristol City winning by 7(seven) goals at Elland Road will achieve that feat. There wouldn’t be a more beautiful set of brackets in football this season should that set of results play out. And whilst, of course, it won’t this serves more to show just how tight things remain. Just how how crucial those ‘other’ results could be as the top sides, and also Birmingham City, play each other.

Let’s not write off Blues though. My word, anything but. They are on a nine game unbeaten run and have picked up three Championship wins on the bounce. Despite the loss of Josh McEachran, they still find themselves chock full of ex-Bees. Maxime Colin, the aforementioned Captain Pugwash and of course Scott Hogan. He’s banging them in for fun once more and so we’ll have to be extra wary of that ball slotted through the middle. Christian Norgaard and, potentially, a returning Pontus Jansson will have key roles to play this afternoon. 

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I used to love a Scott Hogan goal celebration. Not today.

The game against Leeds on Tuesday was one where, being fair, just about everyone has acknowledged we were second best. The visitors will be disappointed not to have picked up all three points but, as we’ve said many times, possession and chances count for naff all if you can’t convert. They may have outplayed us but they couldn’t beat us. Brentford had an off day and still could have won. Perhaps we might have had things stayed at 1-0 rather than being pegged back just before half-time.

Ahh. Ifs, buts and maybes. The things that make football so intriguing. The things that provide for hours of conversation and conjecture despite having absolutely no impact on past results. The things that perhaps give us the inspiration to really go for it next time out and right any wrongs we may feel have been done to us.

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A rare second half  sortie on Tuesday.

For me, Clive, Birmingham City are an irrelevance today. I don’t mean that with any form of specific disrespect. Feelings for the team have been well documented before and I’d absolutely love to get a win at St. Andrews.

It’s more that currently they just feel like the opposition in the way and nothing more than that. A challenge to be overcome and points to be won rather than scored. There are no thoughts about relegation in 92/93, lack of promotion in 94/95 or ‘ten times better’ but simply whether we can keep heading towards the top flight. And the latest obstacle in the way is a Blue one rather than, all being well, a traffic jam or a tree on the track.

I can’t call it. Never can. I was 100% confident that we’d beat Leeds United on Tuesday and that didn’t work out. But we didn’t lose and we have the biggest incentive possible to go for it. Moreso with the Nottingham Forest – West Bromwich Albion game due to take place at lunchtime. By the time of our kick off we’ll have a little bit more of an idea how the table is looking and just what three points might do to our position at close of play. If we can pick them up.

Oh, I can’t wait for this one. Travel safe. See you there…..

Harlee Birmingham tweet

Here’s to more of this

Nick Bruzon

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But who will blink first?

13 Feb

With the midweek fixtures all played out, Brentford find themselves two points off ‘automatic’ and Leeds United still in second place. Just. For a while, it looked as though things may get even better with West Bromwich Albion behind and Fulham crying out for VAR (looked onside to me !) at Millwall. In the end, the Baggies got their win although the Cottagers ended things level. With Preston taking sixth and Bristol City warming up for Saturday’s trip to Elland Road after edging past Wayne Rooney by the odd goal in five, things remain as unclear and open as ever. Only West Brom starting to make a bit of clear air but, as we’ve seen all season, that can change in a heartbeat. Our own game at Birmingham City this weekend couldn’t be any bigger.

Before we go any further, I’ll likely mention Birmingham City a few times in the next couple of days. We’re due to play them  – why wouldn’t anyone do so in that situation? So to try, but no doubt fail, and avoid the usual nonsense about this tinpot team’s apparent obsession with their enormous club, the Griffin Park perspective on why I’ve absolutely relished our teams crossing paths in the Championship is noted further below. Why such pleasure is taken every time Brentford finish above Blues – which has been every season since our return to this level.

Sure… the financial misconduct, the managerial mayhem, that ten times better nonsense or the triple transfer swoop were factors – the sort of nonsense that makes football great in retrospect –  but nothing compared to what had gone before.

Anyway, getting back to the present, one almost had to feel sorry for Fulham last night. Almost. The brief window of opportunity I was afforded to watch that game before Kirsty and Phil started doing battle over Woodford Green property renovation (ah, the Wednesday night price of a green card for the trip to St. Andrews on Saturday is a huge one) saw two early goals and a huge controversy. Aleksander Miitrovic continuing to trade metaphorical punches with Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship leading goalscorer charts before the Lions equalised with a goal so far offside even I spotted it first time out. Fulham were rightly incensed but, as we struggled to contain the laughs on our couch, the officials allowed it stand. 

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But there was no VAR. No second chance. No reprieve and things were level. Millwall even had the temerity to miss a penalty and that’s how things stayed. Apparently. What would I know? The things you do for the long term footballing pleasure.  With that result, Fulham go level on points with Leeds United whilst Brentford remain two points off the pair of them. The Cottagers may aswell chalk up the three points now with a home game against Barnsley this weekend but Leeds – Bristol City promises to be another massive one. 

The Robins are just outside the play off zone. Only goal difference keeping them away from a top six that once again plays host to Preston. It really is a case of seeing who can hold their nerve. Who blinks first. Whatever else, something has to give with West Brom hosting Nottingham Forest. I’m beyond trying to figure out who I want to win in these games though. Let’s concentrate on ourselves and hope those favours continue to come.

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As it stands…

That said, we are now at the point of experiencing that additional factor of a promotion shootout. That moment where the run-in starts and every result of every club around us seems critical. Phones are refreshed mid-game as goals conceded and points dropped here, there and everywhere are celebrated with abandon. Where even a win for the Loftus Road team is to be celebrated if it comes against one of the teams in close proximity. Where shifts in the table are tracked, even ‘as it stands’, and all favours are grateful accepted. We’ve had it by the bucketload during this week’s fixtures with Brentford even sitting in second place until Leeds equalised. Walking past Griffin Park on the school run with Harry, we’ve been going through permutations of results and possibilities – it’s amazing how much that can help with arithmetic. So, If Leeds lose, how many points will they have? Where will Fulham be if they beat Millwall?

There are, of course, a lot of games to go. Almost a third of the season still. But with nobody really striking out on their own, albeit West Bromwich Albion have a few points’ breathing space (at present) one can’t help but get drawn in by the situation unfolding around us. Which, as much as anything else, is why Birmingham City is a massive one for us Brentford fans. Regardless of the history. The obsession. 

I’ll absolutely love it if we pick up the points. Might even sing a song at full time. Roll on Saturday – see you there.   

 

Until then, here’s my take on it. Birmingham City – the ‘obsession’

For me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things feel as though they bear repeating. No matter how forlorn it may be. Yet it is as crucial now as a means of seeing how far we’ve come compared to how things were before. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day. 

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

Deano and Bliss

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the campaign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

So, yes. Whilst I DO focus on Birmingham City (a lot) it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. Can we take it to the next level? Perhaps Saturday will give a bit more of a clue, but I wouldn’t bet against this race going to the very last weekend of the season. 

Nick Bruzon

Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once.

8 Feb

Thank you Birmingham City. Urghh. Said it. Get the mouthwash. But needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle. There were more than a few smiles from the Brentford faithful last night as our old boys pulled off the mother of all shocks and comebacks in their 3-1 win at Bristol City. With it, the Robins miss out on overtaking us and The Bees stay fifth in the table going in to this afternoon’s crunch game with Middlesbrough. The prize for victory will be the well documented further closing of the ever narrowing gap to Leeds United and West Brom in the ‘automatic’ slots. 

Screenshot 2020-02-08 at 06.17.18Ok – we all know that Leeds are coming to Griffin Park on Tuesday night. We’ve all joked about their falling apart (again) many, many times. And rightly so. They are and that’s brilliant. Chuck in the Pontus factor and it’s understandable we’ve all got more than half an eye on that one. It has been a date highlighted in my calendar for a long, long time. As much for family reasons (Hi, Julian – guess who I’ve got a spare ticket for…) as much as anything else.

Yet to overly look ahead of ourselves is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve got Middlesbrough first and that’s huge. A hurdle of gargantuan proportions for the Bees to try and clear. To give anything but 100% focus to the here and now is a fall waiting to happen.

We all know past form has seen them somewhat of a bogey team. Nobody needs any reminder of that or further regurgitation of yesterday’s column. Forget previous results. Forget the trashing of Hull City last time out. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day….And I’m feeling good. As somebody once sang.

But it’s true. The past – whether immediate or historic – counts for naff all when the teams are read out and run on to the pitch. Wins won’t get themselves based on what has gone before. Based on just turning up. It’s all about the here and now. About getting ourselves as loud as we can to turn Griffin Park into the cauldron of noise that lifts the players to the next level.

Cheesy? Cliched? Perhaps. But also true. Peter Gilham has gone on record many times to share the feedback, direct from the squad, as to what a lift it gives them when the stadium is rocking. If anybody knows, he does. If anyone embodies that explosion of supporter noise, it is him. 

We have cited Peter on these pages a lot. Perhaps more than ever this season. But if anybody has seen us through good times and bad then he’s the one. He is Brentford through and through. We all know he’s been our man-with-the-mic for over 50 years and has as deep a love for the club now as he did way back then.

And whilst we may be going off tangent (it’s just how the words fall out when ad-libbing this column), we are now as close to the finish line of a half-century long marathon as ever before. The ribbon is in sight and should we crash through it into the Premier League, then he will no doubt celebrate more than anybody.

But there’ll be no crashing through ribbons without picking up the points. Without cashing in on favours such as the one performed by Birmingham City last night. We’ll no doubt look to give them some extra special thanks next weekend.

A marvellous opportunity awaits when Middlesbrough visit. Like Simon the Internet obsessed / cyber stalker (delete as applicable) from the BT flatmate adverts back in the day, we’re ‘reeling one in’. And another. And another. And another.

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The BT flatmates – currently in the ‘where are they now?’ file. Or jail.

The play-off race sees us sitting in one of the hotspots whilst the ongoing ability of The Baggies and the Whites to press ‘self-destruct’ rather than emulate Liverpool in the top flight, means that the top positions are a prize very much in contention for whomever can now hit accelerate. Thankfully, we’re driving a BMW. Hopefully our rivals will stay stuck in reverse and we’ll soon be in automatic. 

Whatever has happened to get us to this place has been and gone. We can only play the situation and that starts with Middlesbrough. Today.  Griffin Park is a sellout. We can’t kick the balls but we can raise the roof. That could prove to be a priceless asset.

Ok – that’s me. Apologies. We’ve been a bit rambling and a bit nothing today. But sometimes, its just about trying to prep yourself for the big one. And that’s at 3pm. As Peter says, “Come onnnn. BRENNNTTTTTFORRRRDDDDDDDD !!!!

I can’t wait for this. I can’t wait to hear that. See you there.

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Here’s to some more of this

Nick Bruzon

What happened off pitch showed our true colours. Regardless of the result.

2 Feb

My word. Brentford do it again – win handsomely, that is. My words Leeds United do it again – fall apart, that is. A day that began with our tonking Hull City 5-1 and further enhancing a goal difference ratio that could prove so crucial at the business end of the season, ended with defeats for Nottingham Forest (at Birmingham City, of all places) and the aforementioned Whites. Their latest debacle taking place at home to Wigan Athletic – something I’m fairly sure happened last season, too. Yet, really, the day was all about one man – Saïd Benrahma. The hat-trick, the celebrations, the emotion, the reaction of Thomas Frank. All this, of course, following the very recent death of his father.

There can’t be anybody at Griffin Park, or beyond, who wasn’t moved by what happened. To lose a loved one is about as heart-breaking as they come. Saïd’s return to the team for the Nottingham Forest game on Tuesday ended with the player sitting on the pitch in tears – the emotion seemingly still so raw. There was emotion yesterday, too, but of a different kind.  Benrahma playing out of his skin to secure another hat-trick for Brentford – his previous one also coming against Hull City. Each goal greeted with him pointing to the sky and a reveal of his under shirt showing the message – ‘JE T’AIME PAPA’. 

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Brentford ‘official’ capture the moment on Twitter

Referee Darren Bond left no choice but to enforce football’s stupidest rule and book him the first time he did this, with his blue shirt being fully removed. Whilst one would have hoped he might have chosen not to have seen the incident, it was a case of Bond or Benrahma. The man in the middle elected to cover his own backside and pulled out a yellow card in case anybody was watching on from the stands.

Sometimes you’ve got to take that hit and do what you need to, though. The whole of the Brentford family was behind Benrahma. Thomas Frank giving his man a huge hug that set off just about any last stragglers in TW8 who hadn’t as yet succumbed to the significance of the moment.

We talk so often about our togetherness as a club, as supporters, as friends, as a family. Here it was in bucketloads. Thomas the physical embodiment of this huge outpouring of love being directed towards the Algerian  – whether in the stands, in front of the TV or on social media. Thomas the head coach but, more importantly, Thomas the man to show once more the wonderful connection he has with his players.  

To see this coming together got me, I don’t mind admitting. Seeing the pair of them walk around the pitch at full time week in, week out is always a wonderful moment. They have a stunning connection with the supporters. Smiles, hugs, high fives and selfies – and we’ve had all from both this season –  are common place. There’s no slinking off and nobody missed out with at least a wave and an acknowledgement. We see the effort and love they both put into the game but this embrace summed it all up in a nutshell.   

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Thomas giving some big love

As for Hull city, well – they were either going to react to losing their two star players in the transfer window at 100mph or collapse. We got the later. A cautious opening few minutes then saw the game explode into life. Benrahma opening proceedings with a curling shot from the edge of the box and we were away. Ollie Watkins soon doubled the lead with just 20 minutes gone. Or, rather, Hull’s Reece Burke did as he attempted to head the goal bound effort clear. Instead, he somehow directed it into the net. 0-2, game over and possible brackets . Surely?

Of course not. This is football. This is Brentford. This is the place where, at least with the supporters, those inner demons still lurk. A game is never comfortable until we are four or five up. Ryan Tafazolli punting one from close to half way in the direction of David Raya. It wasn’t particularly powerful or bobbly yet, somehow, it went under his foot and in. So innocuous an effort was it that the stats didn’t even deem it to be a hot on goal but they all count.

Oh well. The way the commentary team banged on about if for the next hour you’d have thought that anything similar had never happened before. You’d have missed the fact that only Liverpool have conceded less goals than us this season in the top four English divisions. Still, with Hull offering nothing else whatsoever I guess there had to be some talking point for them.

1-2 and Brentford ahead at half time. It was a score we’d all have taken prior to kick off. It was a score that was then obliterated in the second half. Rico Henry doing magnificent work down the left channel to volley a cross directly onto Ollie Watkins’ head. 1-3 and this time it was game over. Except Saïd had unfinished business. Two more goals followed, each one with another reveal of the shirt although his playing kit stayed firmly on.

The hat-trick clincher culminating a quite magnificent passing move in which Jensen performed a 360 turn and move of the purest filth. Kudos to him. It was a thing of absolute beauty. “Oh, my. I hope they score from here. Just for that” was my comment to Mrs. Bruzon and HB watching alongside. Sure enough, they did. In a game that was once more overshadowed by our well-documented BMW, it was great so see the Jensen Interceptor dominating the middle of the park.

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The Sky graphics team having a moment – Surname 85 playing alongside Trialist 89

All in all, it was about as wonderful a lunchtime as one could have hoped for. Then the other teams did their thing. Ok, Fulham won – but they did their level best to throw away an early 3 goal lead and were left hanging on at the end. West Bromwich Albion secured the win (not a typo) although they were at home to basement club Luton Town. Yet it was at Elland Road and St. Andrews where the truly bizarre happened. If you can call Leeds United falling apart ‘truly bizarre’ – these days it seems to be happening more often than Mrs. Browns Boys winning comedy awards.

Their latest self-destruct happening at home to Wigan Athletic as they went down 0-1. Patrick Bamford needing to polish his shooting boots, by all accounts. Ironically, Wigan being the club and game they had the opportunity to wrap up promotion against last season, before they fell apart when a goal and a man up at Elland Road.

Ah, we can joke. Not that I can imagine anybody in Leeds is laughing (but enough about the recording session for Mrs. Browns Boys). They’re still too far ahead and there’s no way they’ll throw it away this time. Is there?

As for Nottingham Forest, having grabbed the initiative from Brentford midweek they promptly there it away at Birmingham City  – the club fast replacing Wycombe as the home for retired Bees. There were four  featured yesterday – Maxime Colin, Josh McEachran, Harlee Dean and Scott Hogan. It was the later of these who levelled things up before the home side secured all three points (not a typo). 

All in all, a sound afternoon that shows the only certain thing about the Championship is that nothing is certain. We’re five points off second placed Leeds United, whose next two games are away – at Nottingham Forest and then, erm, Griffin Park. 

Could it be time for Big Bee Radio to start warming up the Joy Division? No pressure, Patrick.…

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Last season’s form at home to Wigan…

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…continued at home to Wigan

Nick Bruzon

Brentford 4000 will play the Tranmere Stripper.

27 Jan

Just when cup football couldn’t get any more incredible, it does. Brentford are out but by no means down. Tranmere Rovers ended Sunday on the wrong end of an almost bracketing as Manchester United were unable to find the additional goal that would have turned 0-6 to to 0-7(seven). Shrewsbury grabbed all the headlines holding Liverpool 2-2 in a gripping cup tie that even the arrival of Mo Salah was unable to rescue. Yet waking up this morning and checking the overnight updates, the real headline is being created as we speak where  Brentford 4000 will play the Tranmere Stripper in round 2.

Not words that are used lightly. And words that, being honest, can only be used in what is shaping up to be a quite pulsating World Cup of Programme Covers. The first round results are now in with  The Bees having trounced Denis Waterman and Wolves after earning close to 75% of the vote. Meanwhile the stripper, last season’s semi-finalist ( losing to eventual winner, Middlesbrough’s comic art) brought some respite for Tranmere fans reeling from Manchester United going ballistic. One of the most talked about covers from last time out (see also: Frank McAvennie and West Ham putting the right wing in to their Christmas party fancy dress) made light work of Slough Town as they cruised into the second round.

Tranmere Rovers will provide just about as tough an opponent as is possible. Yet Brentford have proven, time and again, that class and reputation doesn’t phase us. Whilst one may question just how much class there is about the imagery used to support the Associate Members Cup semi final  (Northern Zone) semi final v Burnley, it is very much a fascinating product of the time. Whilst it’s highly unlikely anybody would risk the wrath of social media / public scrutiny or have the lack of sense to go there these days (see also: Frank McAvennie and West Ham), back then all filters were seemingly set to ‘off’.  

I’m not here to pass moral judgement on anybody or anything. Personally, I love the unusual. Anything that strays away from the norm. Historical curios. Which is what just about every piece of artwork in the World Cup sets out to show. There are some incredible contenders still alive and gunning for glory. Noreen form Birmingham City. Elton John’s giant key. Paul Parker’s hot air ballon trip. The bizarre styling on show at Albion Rovers. Swindon Town and their Fat Striker.

As ever, @TheSkyStrikers on Twitter is the place to follow the tournament. Your host Miles McClagan adding a fair bit of deadpan wit to his own commentary as the tournament unfolds. The likes of Leicester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United may have grabbed the headlines this weekend. At least for on-field activity. Yet off-pitch, Brentford and Tranmere are shaping up for the mother of all battles in social media. The timing of our second round clash has yet to be announced but keep those eyes open and keep voting.

In the meantime, here are a few more of the runners and riders…

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Salvador Dali had a short stint at Albion Rovers

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Noreen – ten times better than the rest. Probably.

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Swindon Town – there’s hope for us all

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Cripes – this was actual 1990. Come on West Ham. WTF…??

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Praying to a giant George Berry at Wolves. 

Nick Bruzon

Exciting cup draw provides as much intrigue off-pitch as on.

7 Jan

So there we have it. Brentford will host Leicester City in the FA Cup following last night’s fourth round draw. The former Premier league champions who currently lead the chasing pack behind Liverpool in the top flight will visit Griffin Park at some point over the weekend of 24-27 January. We say ‘at some point’ given as it is a tie that will be sure to be on any potential shortlist of those selected for TV coverage. 3rd in the Championship v 2nd in the Premier league. Others ups for consideration include Hull City v Chelsea , Bristol City or Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool and Northampton Town v Wayne Rooney. There are plenty of other intriguing ties, especially in Birmingham, but we can only start in West London.

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There you have it

For both clubs, this is going to present selection questions. Leicester City especially. Whilst we both looked outside of the regular starting XI in the third round, might Thomas Frank be tempted to give his star players the chance to test themselves against one of the Premier league big boys? A possible dress rehearsal for next season’s league action? Leicester City may well go light (relatively), given they have a midweek game either side of this one.  Home to West Ham the prior Wednesday and then the second-leg of the EFL Cup semis with Aston Villa the following Tuesday.

And has anybody checked in on Bees Fan Engagement Manager Ryan Murrant? Whilst his work at Griffin Park is legendary, especially with the way he inspires our youngest generation of supporters, he is a self-confessed and very vocal
Leicester City fan. Could this be a case of his cracking open the half and half scarf? Will it be club over employer? Or simply a case of hoping that football is the real winner of what has all the potential to be one of the most exciting matches in the round. As Lasse Vibe put it on Twitter, ”Schmeichel vs the rest of Denmark.”

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Ryan – Bee or Fox?

All that’s a problem to come though. First things first and the question is one of when the game takes place. Here’s hoping the TV gods are smiling on us if we are selected for coverage. Nobody wants the solitary Monday night tie in the ‘post-draw’ segment of the round, albeit given out visitor’s prior commitments one can only think that Saturday lunchtime will be the appointed time. Should it be a case of Manchester City v Fulham or the multi-optioned Watford or Tranmere Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United that are deemed more appealing then we are back on for a Saturday 3pm.

To be fair, it wouldn’t be the FA Cup without Manchester United being selected for the cameras. Who cares about magic or intrigue when there’s the opportunity to appease the nation’s armchair supporters? That said, the permutations from the respective replays leading up to that one do present slightly more intriguing options than normal. Especially if Tranmere win. If…. Watford v Wolves, anyone? 

The other tie really grabbing my attention is the possible situation at St. Andrews where landlords Birmingham City could be forced to pay a visit to their tenants, Coventry City, and then squat in the ‘away’ end. Cue demands for ten times more tickets than their official allocation as they miss the point of how the cup works. To be fair, even should Coventry fail to overcome Bristol Rovers in the replay, its a tie I’d love to see selected for coverage. Even though we know full well it’ll never happen. A night out in Birmingham being about as glamorous as a trip to Mrs. Brown’s bedroom. Besides, we’ve got Northampton Town for the interest further down the EFL tables. Their home tie with Derby County, and the guaranteed baggage that comes with that, sure to have lazy directors, cliché spouting pundits and overkeen caption writers already prepping their scripts.

For now, though, it’s a case of ifs, buts and maybes. I’m just glad Brentford are at home and there’s (at least) one more chance to visit Griffin Park. Anything else after that is a bonus. 

Here’s that draw in full….

Watford or Tranmere Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers or Manchester United

Hull City v Chelsea

Southampton v Middlesbrough or Tottenham Hotspur

Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday

Bournemouth v Arsenal

Northampton Town v Derby County

Brentford v Leicester City

Millwall v Sheffield United

Reading or Blackpool v Cardiff City or Carlisle United

West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

Burnley v Norwich City

Bristol Rovers or Coventry City v Birmingham City

Manchester City v Fulham

Rochdale or Newcastle United v Oxford United

Portsmouth v Barnsley

Bristol City or Shrewsbury Town v Liverpool

Nick Bruzon

One day to go. What have we missed? Your vote needed.

31 Dec

2019 is drawing to a close. Brentford end the decade sitting fourth in the Championship table following what have been the most consistently exciting ten years in our history. The current edition of FourFourTwo magazine has us ranked first out of the twenty-five greatest EFL clubs from 2010-2019. It would be fair to say that things are going very, very well – a most un-Brentford like scenario.  It was a subject we looked at in the article submitted for the Swansea City programme on Boxing Day. From Fulham to Preston ; Leeds to Birmingham City. What are the top ten highlights of the decade we are about say goodbye to? 

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Not my words – well, the content was but FFT did the maths first

The programme piece is reproduced, and enlarged upon, below. However, the real reason for running this is as much to see what was missed out. What was your moment of the decade that should have been included? Whether awesome or awful – we celebrated both.  Personally, and even though a sneaky 11 was included, the absence of last season’s Neal Maupay goal celebration at Leeds United (and at home to Leeds United)  has had me kicking myself all the way to the printers. How did it miss out?

Neal Maupay Leeds

Come on Leeds. It WAS a penalty

 So without further ado, and to whet your appetite, these were mine. But are they right?

10 Josh McEachran’s photoshoot. A bizarre series of pictures that appeared in, at least, The Telegraph and The Mail. If the pictures were odd, and they were, it is something best remembered for the description on Twitter of his looking “Like the chief whistleblower in an expose on bullying in the world of junior golf”.

9 Marcelo Trotta takes a penalty. Not ‘that’ one. Come on, we’re better than going there. I’m sure somebody has already done that anyway. Instead, the game with Gillingham in January 2014. The one he scored having made a shock/ballsy return to the club after something happened late on in a game v Doncaster the previous season. I forget exactly what.

Trotta pen v Gills

Get in!!! What Doncaster thing?

8 Chesney. It’s hard to imagine the conversation that lead to us starting the decade with none other than Wojciech Szczęsny between the sticks. Yet that’s what happened when the Polish international and Arsenal’s number 53 cut his league teeth at Griffin Park. He was immense. It was bonkers yet, if anything, it was a sign of things to come.

7 Jota. Proof that despite the sneers from outside TW8, Matthew Benham’s computer model works. And how. A luxuriantly coiffered hero, his picture still adorns the gates to Griffin Park. The last minute goals. The skill. The heartbreaking love letter to the fans when he returned to Spain (we’ll forget the second one when he left for Birmingham). The emotional second coming which saw him possibly better than ever before. My favourite player of the decade. 

6 The Marinus experiment. Proof that even Matthew’s computer gets it wrong sometimes. Have you turned him on and off again? Have you tried banging it? Ok, then the model must be broken. He lasted 9 league games, got humped by Oxford in the league cup and ditched Jonathan Douglas. Hardly the way to endear yourself to the fans, for whom Dougie was a hero to many. Yet in his short time at Griffin Park he did inspire the unicorn that launched a thousand photoshops.

Marinus unicorn

Any excuse to crowbar this one in.

5 Stuart Dallas . Specifically, scoring THAT goal at Fulham in the 4-1 win back in April 2015. The lay off from Andre Gray was beautiful but then Stuart ran on to the ball and did his thing. Oh. My. Word. One touch followed by an absolute thunder bolt of a shot from thirty yards out on the diagonal. The ball accelerating all the way into the top corner in front of the Bees’ fans. The single best hit Brentford goal of the decade, if not ever.

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THE moment

4 Snowball-gate. January 2013 and a League one match between Brentford and Tranmere. The fans had earlier helped clear the pitch to ensure the game could go ahead but what to then do at half-time with all the snow that had been accumulated at the back of the Ealing Road stand?  Snowballs. Lots of snowballs. When goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams emerged for the second period he was greeted with such a barrage that the referee was forced to delay the game.

3 Ten Times Better. October 2017 and Harlee Dean panicked in front of a tv camera, telling us about his new Birmingham City team that “We’ve got quality in that squad. I’ve been in teams where we’ve finished fifth in this league and missed out on promotion by play offs. and this squad is ten times better than that.”

The response? Our 2-0 win at St. Andrews a month later was followed by the incredible 5-0 hammering in the return fixture. “Cheer up Harlee Dean” sang the supporters. In the ultimate trolling, even the club joined in and upgraded our usual ‘win music’ from Kool And The Gang to The Monkees.

He started it

2 Victory at Leyton Orient in March 2014. The most stressful, incredible, backs to the wall performance as the 10 man Bees hung on for a 1-0 win against the combined forces of Russell Slade’s Os and referee Robert Madley. It was a MASSIVE win in a promotion 6-pointer that saw the bitter boss complaining that we’d celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup at full time. He’s right. We did. And then some.  

Cliff and Russell 2

Who did what like we’d won what now?

1 Alan Judge’s penalty v Preston in April 2014. Brentford securing promotion with a penalty? Who’d have thought it but the combination of his goal, and other results, helped the Bees to a 1-0 win and reaching the Championship. This, despite a lot of 11th hour squeaky bum time at Wolves when Rotherham started scoring. The pitch invasion and post match street party that followed were the stuff of legend with promotion to the Championship confirmed. Kevin O’Connor was at the bar in The Griffin. The players in the street, celebrating with the fans. Cliff Crown was waving Russell Slade FA Cups around. Only at Griffin Park could this happen. Thank you. Everyone.

 

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

Some people are on the pitch.. etc etc

And given a football team has 11 players, why not add one more for luck. The hour that is Brentford ‘Official’ trying to get down wiv da kidz on social media: #trophyfriends #bignewambitions #novemberkings . Please, let’s never talk of this again.

Instead its over to you. if you can’t be bothered, have a Happy New Year and here’s to Bristol City on ,erm, Thursday?  

Nick Bruzon

Mrs. Brown, Nick Knowles, Mick Hucknall – irrelevant. Bigger things are afoot.

29 Dec

Brentford go to Millwall today. Nothing else matters. Nothing else is relevant. Not even Leeds United at Birmingham City or West Bromwich Albion hosting Middlesbrough. It would be nice if one of those slipped up but, in the grand scheme, the absolute priority has to be The Bees picking up the points against The Lions. Everything else going on around us is second fiddle. Unnecessary white noise.

Moaning about VAR (although it is shite) – irrelevant

Mick Hucknall – irrelevant.

Getting upset about Mrs. Browns Boys  – irrelevant (for one day only).

Mrs Brown

Mrs. Brown – irrelevant

Nick Knowles advertising the Euronics Centre on the radio – odd. And irrelevant.

Gavin and Stacey – irrelevant.

The sales – irrelevant. Just do it online as you travel. Or better still, don’t.

Fantasy Football – irrelevant (and that’s nothing to do with yesterday’s latest car crash).

Thoughts of ‘Dry January’ – irrelevant. It’s December.

Work tomorrow – irrelevant. Ring in sick. Or book it off.

The in-laws are here / we’re going to see the relatives – irrelevant. Bring them with you.

I can’t get a ticket – irrelevant. You can.  Supporters will be able to pay by cash or card at the North Stand Ticket Office situated next to the away turnstiles on Sunday” –  Not my words, the words of Brentford official on their match preview) .

Even better, Millwall offer wheelchair users an entire £1 discount off the £29 admission price.

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Here you go

£29 seems a lot to go to Millwall – irrelevant. It’s still not Leeds United levels of ouch, you save money on travel and there is the added bonus that these days The Lions play in the former home of Harchester United. What greater cathedral of football is there? Griffin Park aside.

I‘m half-way through the Lego Millennium Falcon I got for Christmas  – irrelevant. Grow up.

Channel 4 have a double-bill of Ang Lee’s The Hulk followed by The Core – i,i,irrr,irrel…does anybody want my ticket?

In all seriousness, of course I’ll be there. That’s what video-plus is for.  Besides, this one could be something very, very special. A moment akin to Danny Shittu’s own goal giving us that incredible 3-2 victory back in 2014. The celebrations that took place in the post-match prison yard kettling made all the sweeter by being able to celebrate in a torrential downpour. 

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It’s always welcoming at Millwall

The chance to complete the double following this season’s quite wonderful turnaround at Griffin Park yet another incentive. Ollie and Bryan’s late, late showing to turn things around in Jota time, the stuff that dreams are made of. Moreso given the earlier penalty miss. It wouldn’t be Brentford any other way 

Even watching the replay of Josh Dasilva’s goal at The Den last season sent further shivers of anticipation up the spine about what could happen. Brentford are currently third in The Championship and are now starting to reel in Leeds United. Progress on that front will be slow and , let’s be honest, unlikely. I mean, there’s no way they’ll choke what is now down to an eight point gap with half the season to go. It’s not as though Leeds have any history of falling apart or hitting self-destruct.

But whatever Birmingham City might do  – and let’s not forget that they are a club with a worse current record than Nick Knowles ‘Every Kind Of People’  – things are still down to us. Points in the bag being better than anything else – games in hand, favours or other results. 

And the quest for more continues today. I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

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Another ending like this would do very nicely, thank you.

Nick Bruzon