Tag Archives: Birmingham City

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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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

Magnificent. Rivals thumped, humped and spanked as top of the table tightens.

15 Dec

Well that was just stunning. Another home win as Brentford beat Fulham – yet again – on Saturday to go fourth in the Championship table. It was as comfortable a 1-0 as you could hope to see. The visitor’s goalmouth leading a charmed life with the Bees hitting the woodwork three times. There’s only Preston, Leeds United (who gave an intriguing reminder of their annual ability to fall apart) and then table toppers West Bromwich Albion (also derby winners as they came from behind against Birmingham City to render Harlee Dean’s goal meaningless) above us. 

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Another wonderful win under the lights

With Barnsley hammering qpr 5-3, it was just about the perfect day of results for Brentford fans. The chief of which was, of course, at Griffin Park. In truth it never felt in doubt, the first twenty minutes aside. Fulham starting in the ascendency. Brentford dropping passes short, having no luck with the bounce of the ball and just feeling second to everything. It was a brief fancy. A posing concern that vanished as quickly as it had arrived. Fulham had their moment, even hit the post at one point (albeit David Raya had the shot covered) and then the Bees stepped it up. My word did we step it up.

Thomas Frank would talk at full time about his pre-match message to the players, “One thing. Out run them. When you feel the pain, run again.” The tactic was simple. Keep moving. Keep running. You will win. And sure enough, we did. Bryan Mbeumo got the goal that silenced the visitors and gave us the lead. Saïd Benrahma with the cross from the right although Thomas was as quick to praise Ollie for his tireless work. Not just in the move that saw Mbeumo fire home but throughout the game.

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View from the Braemar – Bryan celebrates his goal

With fans on their feet, voices raised and smiles broad (that was just Peter Gilham) we pushed on. How Ollie didn’t score I have no idea as the post came to Fulham’s rescue. It was one of those which, watching it live, had seemed as though it was just a case of waiting for the ball to hit the back of the net. Alas, not.

Next up, Pontus Jansson just before half time. The woodwork once again coming to Fulham’s rescue in front of their supporters. Apparently – I’d been dragged to the forecourt at that point by a boy in need of a hot chocolate and a wee. The spirit of BBC Billy Reeves still alive and kicking.

It could have been 2 or 3 as the players trooped in for their break but, frankly, we were winning. Forty-five minutes away from another win and a move into the play-off zone. Each and every one of us would have taken that if made the proverbial offer before kick off.

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Watching on as Pontus hits the post.

Back out and it was more of the same. Brentford tireless. Indefatigable. Unceasing in the hunt for a goal which would have secured the points. More importantly, sparing the heart conditions of more than a few people sitting around us in the Braemar. As stress levels built, Mathias Jensen did it. Yessssss. 2-0 !!!! Nooooo!! Somehow it hadn’t gone in, despite bouncing off the inside of the post, across the goal and surely over the line. Surely? 

I’m still convinced it was in but the reaction of the players and the straight back to action for them tells us that, perhaps, one of those we need to chalk up to optical illusion. Instead, it was a case of calm heads and keep on going. There was nothing to worry about. My word, the stakes were high. The desire to win second to none. I’ve not felt the ground like this in a while. The awareness of what a win meant, clear to all.

Brentford of old a team that, we all know, would have played this well and created that many chances only to see a freak goal bounce in off Alexander Orlov’s arse in the final seconds. But not this side.

Thomas Frank has instilled confidence. Pontus Jansson a colossus. Mathias Jensen pulling the strings in the middle. Rico and Henrik never stopping. Ethan Pinnock making that second centre back berth his own. Everybody playing their part. The team spirit, the smiles to each other. The handshakes and the all round camaraderie clear for all. These boys would lay down their lives for each other if it meant stopping goal going in. The post-match walk around the pitch once more a sign of how happy everything is in the camp. 

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Full time celebrations

And so rather than panic, it was more a case of running out those last three minutes of added on time. Then celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Yes, there really was a Leyton Orient away feel to this one. I’ll take your words and recycle them Mr. Slade. I’m not proud. But in terms of significant moments, that could be about as huge as they come.

Of course , there’s a hell of a long way to go but now we are in the top six, this is ours to claim. Ours to keep on making progress. Ours to look next at hunting down West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United. Whilst both seem well, well clear at the top we all know what Leeds do so well. Yesterday was another fine example as a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff City ended in a 3-3 come back by the visitors. And that, with a man sent off. Could it happen again or will it be a blip….? They visit Fulham next Saturday so either way, something else has to give from the teams around us.

As for Brentford, our next action is the trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The league leaders. The conquerors of Birmingham City (although that’s no major achievement these days, such is the state of a Blues team who are less ten times better and more starting to look over their shoulders where the gap from 16th to the relegation slots isn’t that far off).

It is about as tough as they come. On paper. We’ve all seen how solid West Brom are. How Romaine Sawyers has taken his game to the next level since leaving Griffin Park. And he was already firing then. But Brentford are no slouches either. Only Leeds United have a tighter defence, as it stands, and 3 of their 13 conceded came in yesterday’s Cardiff debacle. But Brentford are only on 17 against. That’s almost half the total from this time last year, if memory serves. With the goals flying in at the other end, we’re worth an extra point on GD alone.

The trip to the Hawthorns looks likes it’s going to be an absolute cracker. For now, though, let’s relax in the present and enjoy this moment. Thomas – thank you. 

What an afternoon. What a performance. What a way to head towards Christmas. As one New Road observer put it in the pub afterwards, “That was a pleasant surprise”

For me, it was very, very pleasant. But no surprise. Fulham got just what was coming to them. Brentford delivering another Christmas gift to the fans. Now bring on The Baggies.

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None shall pass

Nick Bruzon

Ten Signs Better? Shock move precedes weekend fixtures.

28 Sep

Well that was a day to catch us all cold ahead of the trip to Barnsley for Sunday’s TV game. Former Brentford number 10 and Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran has pushed the number of ex-Bees at Birmingham City back up to three following the departure of Jota to Aston Villa over the summer. There are no words beyond….’wow’. Possibly with a ‘drink being spat out of mouth’ gif/meme to accompany it but let’s not go there. Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest have gone to the top of the league following last night’s 3-2 defeat of abject (we would also accept ‘lowly’) Stoke City. Played 9 Won 0. Points 2. Cripes, that’s a worse record than Madonna’s version of American Pie. It is a result which sees Leeds United displaced from the penthouse suite of the Championship table hotel, heading into the weekend fixtures.

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We went there. But come on… ‘Allo ‘Allo! beats the usual ‘Downfall’ analogy.

First up, Brentford v Barnsley. Are you going ? Hats off if so. A Sunday lunchtime trek to Yorkshire when the comfort factor of TV presents an obvious alternative is a strange one. Not so much for Brentford fans who always travel in numbers but more that it would have been an easy one to swerve. An early, early start after a Saturday night out when the pub or bed beckon would be deemed acceptable reasons to catch up via alternate sources.

Personally, and there is no pretence here, I’m saving my beer tokens and green cards for those Saturday 3pms on the road. That’s nothing to do with the opposition but simply the fact that both are finite commodities which need to be played at the right time. The Barnsley game is on TV and that’s the option I have to take this time out. I’d love to be there, of course, but with a family and a dwindling bank account to juggle, sometimes one does have to take the a different option.

Being blunt, I’m still not sure why Sky have picked it. And I’m a Brentford fan!  If for no other reason, and with respect to both the Tykes and The Bees, it is hardly a game which screams of interest to anybody outside of Oakwell or Griffin Park. There is no real rivalry (mascot races aside – and do pick up the match day programme if you get a chance….).

mascot-race

But what happened next….?

Still, there are only so many times that they can show Leeds United. Or should that say, presumably there are only so many times they can show Leeds United? However, Bielsa’s boys do seem be starting at 3pm today – away to Charlton Athletic – so there you go. They do, sometimes, play in the traditional timeslot. Can they retake top spot from Forest or is their now annual ‘falling apart’ about to start once more?

The Griffin have their Sky TV lined up once more and will be showing this one. Certainly that’s where I’m hoping to take the family.  For Sunday lunch. Still, all that’s for tomorrow.  Right now, I’m still spitting my drink out over the Josh McEachran story.

Not so much that the player, released by Brentford when his contract expired, has joined Birmingham City but more the point at which it has happened. Nobody in TW8 saw this one coming with most clubs having long since wrapped up business following the early transfer window. Especially from a player who, if we’re being honest, never really lived up to the potential that the former Chelsea man brought with him to Griffin Park. Instead, we parted ways after four seasons, 102 games and a solitary goal. Against Birmingham. 

It just never clicked for/with him and when a player is best known for his services to mobile phone cases or mini-golf then perhaps it’s best to admit that despite everyone’s best efforts, sometimes things just don’t work out. Sadly.

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Whatever else happens, we’ll always have this

It was a shame and for no other reason than he did start last season so brightly. There was talk of an England call up (from the player) and it looked as though we were finally going to see the McEachran that his reputation suggested. It didn’t happen.

Pep Clotet is not quoted on the Blues website although the club’s editorial describes him as, “A composed player happy to receive the ball in tight areas, McEachran’s vision, positioning and clever passing was apparent in the Under-23s matches when he was influential in helping to dictate proceedings.

So there you go. 

Could Blues have vision that Bees lacked ? Or is the player simply better suited to a more industrial style of football than the fast flowing movement of a Brentford team who have, let’s not forget, finished above Birmingham for the last five seasons?

Instead, Josh now has the chance to ‘go again’. Birmingham travel to Derby County this afternoon, with the Rams looking to put their car-crash start to the season well behind them. Will he get the chance to dominate the ten yards around the centre-circle ? Or is it one to start from the bench ? Either way, I’m intrigued to see how this all plays out…..

Nick Bruzon

Thomas the frank engine aiming for full steam ahead against Hull.

17 Aug

It’s time for Brentford to exorcise the memory of the League Cup. With Hull City set to visit Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon, thoughts will be along the lines of last week at Middlesbrough or last season’s 5-1 thrashing of The Tigers rather than the midweek draw with Cambridge United. That one’s been and gone. Ground that has been covered and no real tears shed. Move along, nothing to see here. We can concentrate on the league etc etc. No bad thing given the tough run of fixtures now upon us with Leeds United away on Wednesday and then the trip to Charlton next weekend.

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Brentford were head and shoulders above Hull last season

First things first. Today. Like Brentford, Hull have picked up three points from their opening fixtures following a win (Reading) and a defeat (Swansea City). Two games in, the nascent state of the table makes it impossible to get a genuine fix on who is in with a chance of going up, who are dead certs for the drop and who is going to be the recipient of the annual Leeds United choke award. Presumably, Leeds United for that last one. So it really is a journey in to the unknown for Brentford and as much for Thomas Frank on his team selection.

He named an unchanged side to the one that somehow lost the season opener to Birmingham City for the subsequent trip to Middlesbrough. Whilst we may have ridden our luck early into that one, nobody who saw it could deny how we grew into the game. The wonderful way we took the lead with Sergi and Ollie combining magnificently for the goal (kudos to Emiliano Marcondes, too, for luring the entire Boro’ defence out of position) and then closed it out with some comfort. Thomas was purring like a kitten at full time and understandably so. 

That said, he now has more players with time under their belts. That being one positive to come from the performance against Cambridge United. And with a busy week to come (those trips to Leeds and Charlton await) could changes come? Thomas used his press conference to confirm that Ethan Pinnock was doubtful, Kamo and Norgaard need to be assessed whilst Said is getting closer and closer. How good will it be to have any combination of those players available for selection ?  

Talking about last season’s 5-1, he was quick to recognise the performance but not dwell on it. Instead, calling it a “New game. New history  although going on to add that , “so we never know what is going to happen but the aim for us is for us to dominate and play with intensity.  Positive sounding for sure, in an interview packed with talk of attacking intent and maintaining the performance for the entire game. You can see that one here….

Thomas, frank

Whilst the 5-1 may now be deemed history, the BBC match preview does give some very telling statistics. You can see the full piece here but the one that really grabbed me were the facts that the Bees have allowed our opponents just 15 touches in their box in their first two Championship matches. That’s six fewer than any other team. If any evidence was needed of the immediate impact being made by Pontus Jansson and the new look defence then here it is. I still maintain that picking him up from Leeds Untied was the Championship signing of the season.

The evidence to date has been quite telling. The skill, the passion, the heart on the sleeve, the armband being immediately awarded. His reaction on pitch after Birmingham and on social media after Middlesbrough tells you all you need to know about his attitude. Magnificent. Elland Road on Wednesday could be fun 🙂  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson has impressed.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. All that’s to come and there are more pressing matters at hand. If nothing else, the question of what kit the visitors will turn up in. Their magnificent Umbro home shirt with the return of the Tiger strip design ? Or the new third kit that was launched this week? Something the club describe as  a contemporary design in deep lagoon, accompanied by medieval blue shorts. Hats off to Umbro, as with the Bees they’ve designed some stunners this season. 

Nice though it is, here’s hoping that it’s the performance rather than the shirts we’re drooling over today. Wit the weather set fair and blue skies already over Griffin Park, the conditions should be perfect. I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Which will we get this afternoon? Home or third?

Nick Bruzon

Away win? What’s the fuss about? Easy!

11 Aug

That’s one jinx well and truly laid to rest. Not just last season’s awful away record but, it would be fair to say, Middlesbrough have had the psychological advantage over Brentford since our paths crossed in the Championship. Of course, The Bees ended that one in some style, and a rare three points, with a 2-1 win at the Riverside a few months back. Fast forward and we’ve done it again. Three more points on the road against our one time nemesis in what was almost a mirror of last Saturday’s visit from Birmingham City. Domination from the home team that should have seen them out of sight before being caught out and then unable to get back in to the game. This time, though, the architect of victory was the the ever enthusiastic Sergi Canos who did magnificent work down the flank to serve it up Ollie Watkins, yards out from the goal. He needed no second chance and that was it. 1-0. Game over. And elsewhere, have you got anyone from Aston Vila or Brighton in your Fantasy Football team as yet?

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Not my words etc….

Whilst we don’t do full-fat match reports on these pages anyway, I wasn’t at this one due to a prior family commitment in a gale on the South coast. However, what has become evident from the mid-match messages being received, intermittent Twitter updates when the 3G was in the right spot and a subsequent watch of the highlights is that Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough (TM) are likely to be fuming over their cornflakes this morning. Two disallowed first half (handball and offside) were marginal as David Raya was on hand, with the woodwork, to keep them out after the home team opened the game in rampant form. Sound familiar? As the shot count ranked up in their favour to our nil, it had the fetid whiff of Birmingham City all over it.

Even official would take to Twitter at half time to declare: “We’ll be happy to get into the break on level terms after a disjointed opening 45 minutes on Teeside.”  

Few could disagree but football is a game played out over 90 minutes. A game of taking the opportunities when you can. As Thomas Frank’s unchanged team started to find a way in to the game during the second half we did wonder if something might happen . And then it did…

WATKINS…. read the text message. This was either really delayed news coming through about his recent contract extension or something even better. The internet signal couldn’t be that bad? Could it?

We’d been following the game together in a cafe and when that one flashed up on the phone it was enough to make a bored 6 year old leap up from the swivel chair he’d been practicing his Blofeld ‘reveal’ in – albeit, I’d been unable to persuade him that uttering the words, “I’ve been expecting you” was a really cool thing to do – to see what the fuss was about.

Goal, was the answer. And from there followed as anxious a countdown for the final half hour, and five minutes of injury time, as has ever been squirmed through. It can be tense enough at a game but when you are out of touch with nothing but a flaky Phone reception and trusted friends to keep you abreast of proceedings, it’s tough. Yet by all accounts, like Birmingham the week before the Bees really snuffed out the hosts and made the denouement a comfortable one. Perhaps. I’ll never know but I’ll also take those three points all day long.

Ultimately, it was a conversation between Harry (6) and Mrs. Bruzon as we watched the highlights together later that evening which summed it all up:

Rachel: Blimey. It’s all Middlesbrough.

Harry: But mummy, WE got the only goal.

Captain Pontus Jansson had taken to Twitter before the game where he declared: Such an important decision. Will be really important for us the coming years! Let’s go Ollie.

Spot on, Pontus. It was a comment borne out during the game and cemented afterwards by Sergi:  Who needs a striker? Myyyyyyy guy OLLIE WATKINS!!!! “

True enough, although hats off to Brighton who of course have signed the aforementioned missing striker. Their own 3-0 win on the road at Watford was rounded off with a goal from none other than Neal Maupay. What a start to his top flight career. Now our paths have gone in separate directions but we’ll survive. I’ll take the FPL points c/o Neal and, more importantly, the Championship points c/o Brentford.

For all that yesterday made me smile a lot on the footballing front, it was one comment just prior to the Spurs – Aston Villa game that really showed why it has been such a special few days,

OH Fuffuxake! On Twitter (aka @TheChauffeur) noting : They just announced the Vila team. Benrahma must be on the bench.

Whilst Neal did the Fantasy Football business for Brighton, Dean Smith didn’t use Ezri Konsa and Jota had to wait for a hour before getting on the pitch as a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-1 defeat at the death. For me, there was as much interest in the post match interviews in this one. Would Dean trot out the standard line about his team deserving to win after going down to the Champions League finalists ? Well, “The better team won on the day….” he noted before continuing with “in the second half”.

Oh Dean. You are great. I loved his tenure at Griffin Park and, like Neal, was sad to see him go. That’s football. Players and coaches move on. It’s how you adjust to it that’s important. As we saw yesterday.  

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The view into Harry’s room this morning whilst he sleeps. That was him. Thanks Sergi & Ollie.

Nick Bruzon

One shot. One goal. No excuses. No sales.

4 Aug

Every good run comes to an end. Birmingham City enjoyed that rarest of experiences on Saturday afternoon, victory over Brentford, after coming away from Griffin Park with all three points for the first time since 2016. It was our first home defeat on the opening game of a season since 1992 – that, a 2-0 loss to Wolves which ushered in the start of the post Dean Holdsworth era and saw talismanic Terry Evans crocked for the vast majority of the campaign. It almost felt like that with Neal Maupay missing amid the stories linking him with Brighton, Aston Villa et al not going away. Yet there was plenty to be encouraged by  from what was, ultimately, a frustrating afternoon. One not helped by referee Gave Ward doing his very best to lose control of the game in the second half.

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Deano and Terry  – their last game together as Bees

With transfer speculation hanging heavy in the air, there was an audible gasp when the team was announced 59 minutes before kick off. Or was that just my asthma? No Neal Maupay in the 18. A bench where Josh Clarke was the most experienced of those named by Thomas Frank. Kamo and Benrahma both absent (although that had been expected, given fitness reasons as much as anything else).

Despite those missing, Ollie Watkins (whose name has been linked with Crystal Palace on the clickbait sites all week) did start and hit the ground running. As did my man of the match, Sergi Canos. With Pontus Jansson named as captain at the heart of a three man central defence the new look Brentford  team still had a solid feel to it. And it WAS new look, with only three of those who started the equivalent game last season, the 5-1 pasting of Rotherham, beginning this one. Sergi, Ollie and Henrik – for the record.  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson impressed.

But with Peter Gilham getting the crowd going, his task aided by the presence of Harlee Dean (C) in the blue of Birmingham City, Thomas Frank’s boys wasted no time in pouring forward. Surely it was only a matter of time. Boom – the crossbar hit not once but twice in close succession as the goal threatend. A clutch of great saves from Lee Camp. Another onto the post. Shots fizzing just wide. A goal was coming….wasn’t it?

We’re in danger doing a Brentford here”, I quipped to one Braemar Road observer sitting alongside after the second shot onto the bar. That, from Marcondes who may be disappointed not to have found the net in retrospect.  Within 30 seconds Kristian Pedersen had headed the visitors into the lead. A quickly taken free kick where I’m not sure if Mr. Ward had even blown was met deep. Nobody picked up Pedersen’s short run and his precision header looped over and in from distance. One effort. One goal. One nil to the visitors. 

Much like Shakira’s hips, the stats don’t lie. At least, the one that says ‘goals scored’.  Despite that being they solitary time Birmingham threatened, and our own first half dominance which saw the game end on 76% possession to Brentford, the only piece of data that really counts is balls in the back of the net. And Birmingham City edged that. Somehow. Yet goals win games and, as such, one can’t try to deny them the points.

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Brentford 0 Birmingham City 1

Looking across social media and match reports, the ‘d’ word is being floated around by all manner of observers. Deserved, not Dean. Yes, we looked fantastic at times. Yes, we DID play well in the first half. Very.  But NO, we didn’t deserve to win because we couldn’t score a goal. We slowed down noticeably in the second half and looked laborious in the build up where the cut and thrust of the wide men and wing backs had diminished noticeably. No matter how leaden, physical and solid Birmingham City looked, they did manage to score and then succeeded in closing us out. On the plus side, I take heart from the clear and almost universal recognition of the way played for a significant chunk of this game.

I liked the look of Mathias Jensen in the centre of the park when he was able to push forward although Romaine and Kamo were clearly conspicuous by their absence. Josh Dasilva struggled whilst one free kick that he took from the heart of Saunders territory ended up in the heart of Tarkowski territory as it cleared the Ealing Road stand.

Romaine’s not coming back – we’ll just have to get over it – but Kamo’s presence around the ground did put a smile on the face at full time. As did a chance encounter with Sam Saunders who was as amiable as ever when discussing the game with an enthralled HB. Something all the more special given that the uttering of standard line: “And this is Saunders territory…” when the aforementioned free kick was awarded was met with the response “Daddy? What IS Saunders territory?” Where do you even start? Just not with the wife….

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Ian Moose was loitering. Amazingly, a look at his Twitter feed this morning shows there’s no criticism of Neal Maupay’s performance. Despite the player’s absence it is a mode that seems so hard-wired into the Talk Sport shock jock that I half expected to see some form of negativity towards Neal. Perhaps the pillars were in his way.

For now though, there’s nothing more to do beyond clenching the buttocks ahead of our trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.  We’ve another painful wait until the transfer window finally slams shut at 5pm on Thursday afternoon. Will Neal still be here or might Brighton make an offer we can’t refuse? Has Said’s absence made him invisible to big spending Aston Villa? Indeed, has Dean Smith run out of money after his latest acquisitions this week in Tom Heaton and Marvelous Nakamba ? Might the Griffin Park ‘in’ door swing further ? 

All or none of the above happening wouldn’t surprise me. The one thing to expect these days is the unexpected. Let’s not forget that despite all the rumours and whispers, nothing has actually happened as it stands. None of the names in the frame have left the club. All we can do is sit tight and wait to see who Thomas has available when the team sheet is handed in at the Riverside.

Enjoy.

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The look from Thomas says it all….

Nick Bruzon

Strap yourselves in. Here we go…..

3 Aug

Dear Gary Lineker and the Match Of The Day team. The football season has started. Whilst you’ll likely be telling us next weekend that the beautiful game is back when the top flight kicks off in anger, things are already underway in some style. Last night saw the goalkeeping calamity that was the 3-3 between Luton Town and Middlesbrough then this afternoon we have the small matter of Brentford v Birmingham City at Griffin Park as the Championship opens in style. Fulham travel to Barnsley and QPR are at Stoke as we once more enjoy the side-battle of seeing who is the best team in West London at this level. There’s the obligatory Leeds United TV game on Sunday before we round things off with the visit of Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™ to Huddersfield Town. As importantly, North of the border there’s a cry for help from my pal Kinglsey at Partick Thistle as he takes on Gunnersaurus (Arsenal) in the final of the Mascot World Cup. 

Oh, wow. This is it. We’re here. Season Ticket has arrived. Programme column has been submitted. Plans to meet up for pre-match beers locked in. Early morning stroll around Griffin Park taken.

I had to. One last chance to breathe in the start of a new campaign before the big move up the road. To enjoy the clam before the oncoming storm. It’s a glorious morning in Brentford with clear skies and the sun up just after 6am. Pack the factor 50. And that’s just for the action on pitch where the occasion of a visit from Birmingham City is always a special once. Even better, when it kicks off our season.

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Early morning, Griffin Park. Welcome home…

This one is sure to be sizzling. The game is close to a sell out and Birmingham will be on raucous form. If nothing else, it’s not very often they can say they are unbeaten in a Championship campaign yet that is, technically, what their record shows at present with Luton Town toping the fledgling table. So spirits will be high. At least, hopefully, until things kick off. Brentford are strengthened by the fact that, to date, only Romaine Sawyers and Ezri Konsa (£££ ker-chingg) have been sold whilst we welcome a host of summer signings of whom Pontus Jansson from Leeds United is the obvious high profile name.

I’m genuinely excited by seeing him in action. We all know Pontus of old. He’s one of those players who has always been a thorn under the saddle. A player who wears his heart on his sleeve. Who has broken ours in the past. Last season at Elland Road in particular. Who has captained his national side and played in the finals for the World Cup. See also: Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford.

And now Pontus is a Bee  – signed over the summer at short notice and on a (relative) cut price fee compared to the £10m valuation that was floating around last season. This is bonkers. But brilliant. Something special is happening at Griffin Park and if we can survive the next few days with the squad unscathed then it could be a very special campaign indeed.

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I can’t wait for that first goal celebration….

Thomas Frank and the team ended on a real high last time. The second half of the season, trips to Swansea aside, saw us in buoyant form. The team were really firing with Said and Neal, in particular, on scintillating form. There will be no Benrahma today (fitness) but Thomas has already confirmed that both Ollie Watkins and the free-scoring French frontman – (c)  The Middlesex Chronicle big book of Brentford alliteration – are available. Whether they start remains to be seen but common sense dictates that it will be the bench, at best, simply given a lack of pre-season match prep. Then again, this is Brentford. Who knows? We do love a surprise or two.   

As for Birmingham City, there’s not much else to say. There’s an element of their fanbase who seem obsessed with Brentford, going by social media, but as much as anything else for me they are always a great yardstick of our own progress. As we’ve said before, the 90s were a period where our paths seemed permanently inter-twined and, sadly, it was Blues who came out on top more often than not. Albeit that last weekend at Peterborough was about as special as they get. Then they went up during the 94-95 single team promotion season. We came second after going neck and neck (including defeat at St.Andrews three games out from the end) so it was the play-offs. Hmmmm.

If those newer fans think ‘that penalty’ hurt (and it did) the prolonged agony of that campaign concluding and Bees just missing out as what would have been the toughest of promotions came tantalisingly close was another level of pain. Especially given our fate was then confirmed by Play-off semi-final defeat, on penalties, to Huddersfield Town. It was about as gut wrenching as it gets. Nobody needs any more reminder of that or the hero that is Bob Taylor somehow missing that unmissable open goal at the McAlpine in the first leg.

And that was it.  Until recently. We’ve been together for what is now a sixth season, despite Birmingham doing their level best to get relegated on more than one occasion. Yes. Harlee Dean did something stupid. Plus ça change. That’s something he’ll have to live with and which Brentford fans will never let him forget.

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How IS that working out?

That’s not obsession but more part of what makes football so magnificent. Those ad-hoc moments that turn into club folklore. Martin Rowlands kissing the badge. Saint & Greavsie prematurely awarding Birmingham City the 91-92 Third Division title before Gary Blissett did his thing at Peterbrough. Russell Slade whining about our celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Pontus Jansson’s half-chewed biro. And, of course, the Bees responding to his Birmingham City ‘ten times better’ claim by finishing above Blues for a fourth, and then last season fifth, successive Championship campaign.

No doubt #BeeThDJ will be filled with requests for Daydream Believer today. No doubt the club will ignore them. Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. It WAS brilliant fun for the fans when it happened but let’s never go back. Instead, it should remain as another of those folklore moments those of us fortunate to experience will never forget. 

He said it. Not me.

History is great. It should be a means of measuring progress. A means of inspiring. That’s what Birmingham City are for me as much as anything else. Inspiration. Now the chance to write another page in our history begins today. Of course, it is the final season at Griffin Park. We’re going to see and hear loads about that this campaign. Take it all in. Enjoy every second. Once it’s gone, it IS gone. But at the same time, let’s not use it as a distraction. This is a unique opportunity to combine the inspiration with the history.  And I cannot wait for things to get going. Roll on 3pm. See you there.

And if you need something to do prior to kick off, this week has seen the World Cup of Football Mascots unfolding on Twitter. Whilst Buzzette was not selected for the group stage (are they mad?)  that perennial favourite of these pages, Kingsley, was.

The Partick Thistle legend is now in the final against Gunnersaurus of Arsenal and needs your help. Please. At the time of writing, the North London club’s dinosaur (their mascot, not Piers Morgan) is just ahead in the poll but there is still time to turn things around. You can vote below. As long as it’s for Kingsley.

I caught up with my good friend last night (with apologies for going Ian Moose there) and he has promised to visit Griffin Park this season should he end up lifting the trophy. So please, get involved. Imagine the union that would be a coming together of him and Buzzette. If nothing else, its nice to enjoy a ‘World Cup of…’ that’s NOT being promoted by Richard Osman. Much as I enjoy his Pointless show, and I do, the link to his team is always a disturbing one.

We all know Buzzette is awesome. I defy anyone to name a better mascot in the top four divisions. Nice try, Wigan Athletic, but no cigar. Yet things are pretty special at Partick Thistle, too. So please – a vote for Kingsley is a vote for mascot magnificence. Who else could get away with this?  

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Nick Bruzon

This is my last request. And have Beesotted seen the transfer vultures circling?

26 Jul

If you hold your breath, you can almost hang on until the season proper kicks off. Brentford have beaten Norwich City midweek. We host Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon as the final bit of prep ahead of ‘the big kick off’ ™ against Birmingham City. The squad numbers have been released and we’re good to go. All that is needed is for the accursed transfer window to shut and all will be good with the footballing world. Talk of West Bromwich Albion or Aston Villa nothing more than a passing reminder about the butt-clenching way in which business is now conducted.

What can we say at this juncture? Word on the street (and by which I mean Beesotted, so a ‘legitimate’ source in my eyes rather than the usual clickbait nonsense) suggests Romaine Sawyers is bound for The Hawthorns today.

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We don’t normally do rumours on these pages but Dave, Billy (Grant, not Reeves) and the gang are normally bang on the money when it comes to their information. £3million subject to medical is the fee in the air. With the centre of the park having been strengthened by Nørgaard, Jensen, McEachran leaving and Josh Dasilva getting stronger each game, one can see why this may well play out. Don’t forget, Kamo has been dominant there too. And with Romaine having a year left on the contract perhaps we have no real choice but to cash in on the silky-skilled midfield-maestro. (c) The Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80s alliteration (see also: Beleaguered Bees Boss).

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Romaine brings the ball out of the back

Whether it is a case of ‘done-deal’ of 2+2=5, remains to be seen, of course. The Beesotted boys are always a reliable mine of information so I’m only bracing myself for this one. Besides, it wouldn’t be pre-season if the previous campaign’s captain didn’t move on! And if it does transpire then it’ll be a case of trusting the DOFS, saying a huge ‘thank you’ to Romaine and moving on up. 

On the plus side, it does detract from all the talk about Neal and Said moving on. For now. With both players conspicuous by their absence over the pre-season games – even the 3-1 defeat of Norwich City – one can only curse those niggly injuries that have kept them out. Presumably that’s all it is.

No doubt the visit of Bournemouth tomorrow will see Thomas Frank trying out as much of his ‘first choice’ starting XI for Birmingham as is possible? Assuming he even has one. And that’s no disrespect to either him or the players but with the diversity of talent available, we are more and more approaching a position of choice in many berths. Whether it would be the supporter choice, of course, is another thing altogether. 

Neal and Said are without doubt amongst the first names on any and every Brentford fan team sheet. The flair and raw talent that both players have is undeniable. Their popularity unrivalled. Nobody can deny what they bring to the team and nobody wants to see them leave. If talk about Romaine is tempered by the fact that we’ve had the pleasure of seeing him grow over the last few seasons, to lose either or both of this pair after the impact made last season will be truly gutting.

No matter how much faith and trust I have in the upper echelons of the club, I can’t pretend it won’t be demoralising should either depart. Equally though, the ecstasy about somehow hanging on to beat the transfer window will be something else. 5pm on Thursday August 8th, that’s still almost two weeks, is when we have to hang on in there until. Nothing to it….

Next up, squad numbers. These have been now published although there are some noticeable gaps. Mainly at number 10 (unless that one has moved sideways and become 11). A shame that Marcus Forss wasn’t given this. Our goalscoring Force 10 from Navarone (as one Braemar Road observer noted) will have to wait for another day. Sadly.

I would also have accepted: Fox Force 5 but Ethan Pinnock has been given that honour. And with David Raya understandably bequeathed Daniel ‘David’ Bentley’s old number (sorry, Billy 😉 )(Grant), the cinematic trinity of bad puns has been missed as there can be no Air Force One. 

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Instead, we’ll just have to content ourselves with rushing out to get our number 19 shirts printed. Unless, of course, that news is confirmed. In which case it’ll be 9 or 21 for me. I’m trusting here. I’m convinced both will feature against Birmingham City next week. The transfer gods can do one! 

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Does this tell us anything…..?

Next up, and finally, this is the last time I’m mentioning this. It’s been a summer of me annoying you and you indulging me. The Last Word season review e-book (The Jaffa cake Shirt) has been limping off the cyber-shelves to ‘entertain’  – your definition may vary – dozens of you via the medium of kindle, i-Pod telephone or other electronic reading device. However, with all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust I can only thank everybody who taken the time to download this already. 

I make no apologies for the fact that I’m still spotting typos in it. That some of the jokes are almost as weak as The Huddersfield ‘shirt launch’. That much of it has been seen before. Equally though, it does have new material in all the ‘Park Life’ programme columns (which have never been published on these pages) and, if nothing else, is simply a way to relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign as we wait for Harlee Dean and his Birmingham City team-mates to visit next weekend. Ahh, ten times better. 

Best of all though, it’s all for charity. I don’t like to overly bang on about ‘good deeds’ – that’s not my thing. But the chance to help the BFCCST, more than anything else, is why I keep on at you about getting hold of this. No more. You can now relax. I’ll be sending the BFCCST a postal order on Monday morning.

Just please go grab it now. You can download it here. Who knows, you may even enjoy it….

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Nick Bruzon