Tag Archives: black

This is the transfer story that has me worried. Is the king about to leave?

18 Jan

c2iaagfxaaau7icNoooo! Say it isn’t true? Could the legend that is Sam Saunders really have played his last game for Brentford? With all the talk being about the FA Cup and Chelsea yesterday , you may not have seen a story from West London’s Premier Journalist, Tom Moore, in which he reports that along with Alan McCormack, the wing wizard is available to leave Griffin Park.

The source no less than co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, who is quoted as saying (amongst other things), that: “If they want to leave, the club is willing to let them go and someone makes the right offer then they’ll go. We have conversations with all players that are not playing.”

You can find the full article here. It’s worth a look , if only for the latest of Tom’s ‘transfer talk’ videos’.

If this happens it really will be the end of an era. Sam is as close to Mr Brentford as Kevin O’Connor and Peter Gilham. Having been signed back in 2009 from Dagenham (alongside Danny Foster and Ben Stevens) he soon made his mark.

Those free kicks. That tan. That song. The effortless cool – even after playing a match. He is the sort of player that brings a rare spark of character and personality to the game. One who puts me in mind of a latter day Allan Cockram in terms of his ability and interaction with the fans.

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As cool off pitch as on it

Regular readers will know of the terrace ritual that has sprung up whenever a free kick is awarded within about ten yards of the box. “And this is Saunders territory”, just has to be said (ITV Ronaldo style). This, regardless of whether the great man is on the pitch.

Whilst that one may be somewhat of a niche call, there is that other terrace routine – known by all. THE song.

“Oh Sammy Saunders, you are the love of my life.

Oh Sammy Saunders , I’d let you sh&g my wife”

It never fails to raise a smile. And none moreso than when Sam, always a regular on Twitter, responded to a fan’s request for a message to be read at his Brentford supporting friend’s wedding.

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This sort of good natured banter off pitch is as much the part of Sam’s charm and popularity as his ability to curl it around a defensive wall and into the back of the net from 25 yards out. And he’s done that more than a few times.

Who needs a dead ball coach? I could do that job – “Just give it to Sam.”

Sam Saunders v Fulham (1)

View from the Braemar. Sam – a magnificent 7

Cracks about the tanning. Photos with the lads where he’s wearing not more than a rubber glove or a bit of gaffer tape to keep those photos ’twitter friendly’ . The ‘car wash’ is still the stuff of legend – if you’ve seen it, you’ll know.

Nothing is ever too much for him. Hospital visits, supporter requests or even just something as simple as asking for an autograph. On personal note, he is, along with Harlee, my own three year old’s favourite player. This one is going to be like explaining the concept of a death in the family if Sam really does leave.

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Sam is popular amongst all age groups

Yet, at the same time, if he does leave it will be with nothing but profound thanks and huge best wishes. It is so rare for a player to make such an impact and, whilst I’m sure Sam may have an idea of how much he is appreciated, it doesn’t hurt to say it again.

And in the mean time, why not let’s give ourselves another look at what has, quite rightly, been labelled the greatest free kick routine ever. Boxing Day 2013. Swindon Town were the visitors.

Only one man could get away with this……

Sam Saunders does what only Sam Saunders can

Nick Bruzon

The kit is out and the dust has settled. Is it a winner?

23 Jul

What a day for kit news. Brentford released their 2016/17 shirt designs to the world.  Championship rivals Norwich City have entered the realms of greatness by recreating an already iconic kit in some style. Whilst, for those not already aware, Sheffield Wednesday have gone for a controversial look…

First though, Griffin Park. The kit is out and I have to say I love it. The home especially which I think is our best shirt in years. If Norwich have rolled back the years then it’s fair to say that Brentford have more than matched them on the history front. Echoing the mythical Adidas 80/81 design (seriously, does anybody have one?) fused with the Core 95/96 shirt, it also features an early 70’s round neck collar. Think Peter Gelson or Big John O’Mara (kids, ask your dads. Now !!).

Nico new kit

For sure it has a bit more white than red but that’s no bad thing in my eyes. We haven’t been afraid to mix it up in the past and, when offset with the black of the shoulder stripes, shorts and socks – looks simply stunning.

Besides, where does it actually say we need as much red as white? Well done to Matthew Benham, Mark Devlin and, of course, Kitman Bob Oteng for breaking the mould a little bit to come out with a wonderful effort.

Interestingly, looking on social media and the club wesbite last night, it seems that Bob is already starting to think about our next designs already. Do check his twitter feed (if for no other reason than the return of the legendary BBgiveaway this season) and interview on ‘official’ where he reveals:  “If we take the 2017/18 kit for example, I will start preparing for that in about six weeks’ time,”

Wow! 2017/18? I’ve not even bought this stunner yet and now there’s already another shirt to obsess about. Well Bob, if you are reading, I’ve got two words to say: FunkyBee.  Failing that, who doesn’t love a castle…?

One final thought on the home shirt. Whilst (in my eyes) it is an instant classic, I do understand that a few people might take a bit of time adjusting to the red/white ratio. If so, spare a thought for Sheffield Wednesday supporters.

Just as Brentford traditionally wear red and white stripes, they do the same in blue and white. Not this season though, where the home kit has gone so far in one direction that we’ll probably get to wear our ‘home’ colours at Hillsborough for the first time in decades….

Sheff Wednesday

Next up, the away shirt. I’ve never been a fan of a black change kit for Brentford. In my eyes, and perhaps it is a generational thing, blue is our second colour. Especially those wonderful two-tone efforts from the 80’s and 90’s.

Then, last season, Bob produced that incredible ‘third’ shirt against Blackburn Rovers and everything changed. Swoon – like a teenager with a crush I was back in love with that beautiful black.

So it was with great joy that we learned Brentford were giving it another go this time around. Having seen it, I think it looks great.Simple black with a bit of detailing and those classic adidas stripes.

My preference out of the two is undoubtedly the home shirt. That said, this is still a cracking effort. My main ‘problem’ being that last season’s third was just held in such high regard that it almost feels like ‘cheating’ to lavish equal attention on a new rival after finding a ‘best ever’ just months earlier.

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That’s just me. I need to get out more. Besides, opinions can change and, if I’m being honest, my gut reaction to last season’s blue was uber-positive before losing interest in that one very fast (then again, I blame the Blackburn, erm, black). The important thing is what supporters think and, almost universally, it seems to be going down a storm.

Personally speaking, I’ve had more time than most to get used to these having been afforded the opportunity to participate in the fans photo shoot a few weeks ago. I can only offer a huge thank you to the club for this chance, along with a huge apology to anybody of a sensitive disposition should panic about a possible new signing have set in when the pictures appeared.

Seriously though, along with Matthew’s letter yesterday it just showed, again, what we do for our fans. What a great idea to get some of them involved in the photo shoot alongside Harlee, Scott, Dan, Andreas, Nico and some local landmarks –  Betty from the Griffin looking good in particular . When Brentford get it right ‘off the pitch’ we are, hands down, the best club in the country.

Ok, Norwich City. I mentioned them at the top end of this article for the simple reason that, like us, they also released a new kit yesterday. This time, their latest ‘third’ shirt.

Sadly (for me), their Premier League status last season meant we were deprived of a ‘kit obsessive’ article although thankfully that will be remedied this campaign. However, had one been written you could be sure it would have featured the infamous 92-94 ‘bird poo’ shirt from Ribero.

Well, in exciting news (for kit nerds) it seems the Canaries have only gone and recreated it. In some style. This is just phenomenal.

Norwich third kit

Errea have made some stinkers over the years but I can do nothing but doff my hat to this effort. One can only presume there will be too much of a clash to see it in action at Griffin Park this season but we can live in hope.

It is vivd, glaring, still looks like a flock of rogue canaries with food poisoning have taken their best shot yet, at the same time, is absolutely wonderful. Moreso, the goalkeeper’s shirt which appears to be designed on hot lava.

I’m hoping that when our Adidas contract eventually expires we switch to New Balance (my only chance for a legitimate monogrammed tracksuit, being as the head coach role remains tantalisingly out of reach). That said, if Errea can keep up this level of shirt quality then maybe they could be one to keep an eye on in future…

My season ticket arrived yesterday and with it a booklet promising what I can presume was meant to say either ‘mouth watering’ or ‘eye catching’ fixtures. Instead, have we mixed our metaphors with a promise of what one terrace wag has pointed out is anticipated to be ‘eye watering’ football this season?

Perhaps though, in retrospect, they were bang on. Given those Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich efforts, this could be exactly what was meant.

season ticket

Nick Bruzon

With launch imminent, the Kit Obsessive returns for a look at our good, bad and ugly

21 Jul

Finally. The most protracted kit launch since the Knight Industries 2000 rolled off the production line comes to a head. ‘Official’ have announced that the new Brentford home and away shirts will be revealed on Friday and then worn on Saturday against FC Kaiserslautern. Initial thoughts on this subject have already been published but, before we look forward, perhaps time to look back.

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It’s coming. Not my words etc. etc. etc…..

Last Season I was fortunate enough to be able to write the ‘kit obsessive’ articles in the match day programme in which we looked at the best, worst and plain unusual of the visitor’s kit. Whilst for obvious reasons the feature won’t return this season – barring those newcomers to the Championship such as Burton Albion , Newcastle, Aston Villa etc  – these pages will (amongst other new features) no doubt make the odd reference to footballing fashion.

Indeed, over the years we’ve talked about the best, and worst, of Brentford shirts but never given them the ‘kit obsessive’ style treatment . So with the launch imminent, it seemed a timely juncture to close this loophole.

As ever, the categories remains : The best; the worst; the away; the unfortunate design / the retro classic. Likewise, these are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste.

Are these right? Wrong? What are your thoughts?

For me, they are as follows….

The Best: Chad. Home 1990-92 KLM sponsored. Chad manufactured. Title winning. Simple but stunning and the most evocative of memories. No nonsense red and white with black collar and tasteful trim. I can’t look at this without thinking of Terry Evans, Kevin Godfrey, Keith Millen, Neil Smillie and, of course, Deano & Bliss. Didn’t something happen at Peterborough? My all time favourite, hands down.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 06.15.17The away: Adidas. Third 2015/16 Whilst I’ve always opted for the corresponding Chad away shirt, kitman Bob pulled something very special out of the bag last season when we played Blackburn Rovers. A Brentford third kit. In black. Oh, this is a thing of beauty – and not just the image of Sam Saunders wearing it in conjunction with short shorts (which, I gather, medical advice suggests is apparently something not thought about in this already hot weather !) . We’ve gone for black again this season – can it match up to this?

 

 

The worst: Puma. Away.  2008/09 .Puma’s offering was truly horrific. It shouldn’t have been. There was nothing too fussy / garish about it whilst it had two shades of blue. But what a shade – pastel ‘baby blue’. The sort of thing a newborn might wear – until he vomited on it (which would be an improvement). Worse, it was regurgitated as 2009/10’s third kit.

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And from a home perspective, how about Puma 2011/12 Floppy black collars. They’re floppy!!? The only point of a collar on a football shirt is so as you can stand it up – preferably just at the point of entering ‘Saunder’s territory’. Sizing issues. Yet the ultimate crime is the red shoulder patches and double black trim.  A combo that makes us look like hotel doormen in knock off adidas shirts – the brand with two stripes

Marcel Eger Brentford

Marcel Eger chose to wear a spray on shirt rather than hold it

 

Retro classic / unfortunate design: Osca. Home, 1983/84 . It just had to be. A white upper half and, for the first half of the season, worn with white shorts….. The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant. One man’s retro classic is another’s unfortunate design. I’m definitely in the former camp

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Here’s hoping tomorrow brings something equally spectacular.

Nick Bruzon

Finally. The (kit) cat is out of the bag. New shirt details revealed

13 Jul

Sergio Canos breaking Brentford hearts by leaving Liverpool for Norwich City. The Aston Villa game put back a day due to their other, inevitable, television commitments. Dean Smith experimenting with his Mannschaft by playing three centre backs in the 1-0 win over Vfl Bochum. All mere side shows compared to the day’s BIG news – our first glimpse of the 2016/17 Brentford shirt after a series of pre-order images hit social media this afternoon.

So, what can we tell so far? Well, based on the handful of ’teaser’ shots released by the club – below – the home shirt certainly looks like it has the makings of being a classic.

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We can see at least two thick red strips and three thick white ones. Are there more? What about on the back ? We can see a round neck collar, 60’s style. We can see what looks like perforated, airtex style material on the shoulder blades. We can also see the traditional adidas stripes, in black.

A round white collar. This is a first for recent times. We almost got there on the 2006/07 Lonsdale produced shirt although it was a strange pleated affair . Prior to that it hasn’t been a visitor to the Bees shirt since the late 60s /early 70s.

The white/red stripes put me in mind of Core’s effort from 1995/96 although, thankfully, the shirt doesn’t look like it is made out of that somewhat lightweight material that picked up pulls and bobbles (at least on the fan replicas) just by looking at it.  Very much a case of Core’s light

As for the shoulder stripes, we’ve had black on white once before. Also Lonsdale, back in 2005/06 where, let’s just politely say, they paid homage to Adidas. Two out of three ain’t bad (stripes, that was) but we can only assume the shirt goes one better this time around.

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The latest images draw on our past

It’s what we can’t see that is as interesting. There’s no glimpse of the new shirt sponsor – confirmed as 888Sport and, for the record, also to be adorning the kits of Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City this season.

There’s no look at the side or under the arms. Could we expect more red there? Might we see further Adidas stripes – a look common to many of their MLS and international templates at present.

And there’s no look at shorts or socks,. Presumably black will be the colour of choice but I’m always a sucker for a white bottom half. Perhaps Mark Devlin and team will surprise us.

And talking of black, that’s the way we’ve gone on our away colours. At least, from the snippet afforded of that shirt. Plain black, a hint of horizontal pin stripe, another round neck  and the adidas stripes in white.

The shirts are already available on pre-order from the club shop. In my humble opinion, based on what we can see so far the club are on to a winner.

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Nick Bruzon

Is Kettle plugged in? Championship refs have a makeover for 2016/17

4 Jun

With Brentford now knowing who they’ll face in the Championship next season, we’re also aware of who will be in charge of those games. With visits from former Premier League outfits Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the calendar along with the all important West London derbies against Fulham and the Loftus Road mob, the man in the middle is sure to be more important than ever before. Season 2016/17 brings changes to that role.

Today’s Last Word is brought to you by none other than regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush. Sharing the apprehension felt by many when we get to see who is going to be wielding the cards and whistle, he gives us a rundown on just what we can expect. There’s good news. And bad.

Not surprisingly, the words Kettle and Stroud appear.

Bernard Quackenbush writes…

Bernard Quack“Next season, there will be two big changes which will effect all Championship teams. The most significant of which will be that emergency loans will be no more. So once Jim White, football’s answer to Brian Blessed, shouts that the transfer window is shutting, there can be no more trading until January!

The other, lesser change, is the one that interests me more, and I have been asked by Nick to talk about today.

For some time now there has been an elite list of referees who have officiated in the Premier League, known as the SG list. Last season it was announced that there would be a new SG2 list of referees who would ‘predominantly’ ref Championship matches only. The big difference is that these referees will become professional and enjoy the same privileges and access to facilities similar to their Premier counterparts. This has been needed for some time and really became very obvious last season. Numerous iffy and inconsistent displays by referees and an injury list of officials similar to our own, made any kind of planning in the referee ranks, virtually impossible.

So that’s the background. So why am I so fascinated by this area of football? Ever since I was a child I understood that these villains in black were just as important as the players. Some were bad, and some were awful, occasionally one may be OK! So I wanted to know more about them. They came from the oddest places too, usually Cotswolds hamlets or Yorkshire mining villages or places with seemingly ridiculous names like Great Bookham. For example, in my mind Lester Shapter never came from Devon, he was from Torquay! Sadly, a policy change meant that these villains in black (after all that is the colour villains always wore), meant that the hamlets and villages were no longer listed and instead the County FA’s where they are registered were listed instead. Yet in this day of the interweb, a bit of digging and a basic grasp of cyber stalking skills, one can still find out that Charles Breakspear comes from Walton-on-Thames (although I imagine someone will now tell me he is from Virginia Water or similar).

So what of this SG2 list. Who made it, who did not? In all there were 31 applicants to the list, with only 18(eighteen) spaces available. There would also have been some strong candidates who decided not to apply because they did not want to give up the day job of being a traffic warden, or similarly heinous job. (Apologies to any traffic wardens’ but I work in Childrens Social Care, so I can trump everyone in most despised occupations!).

The bad news first….Keith Stroud.

Quite possibly the most consistently awful and incompetent card happy referee that has taken charge of a Bees match, is on the list. I was hoping that he would get promoted with Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney to the Premier League, but he is stuck with us. I may be over wishful and optimistic in my thinking that I can imagine him being considered a senior member of the group along with the usually competent Simon Hooper, and may end up taking charge of more than his fair share of Newcastle United and  Aston Villa games rather than the likes of us Huddersfield or Bristol City.

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Keith Stroud (on Sky)- your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

There are a number of positives to the list with a number of names not appearing on it. NO Keith Hill. NO Trevor Kettle. NO Gavin Ward and also no sign of messrs Webb, Malone, Boyeson, Brown, Collins, Handley or Williamson. Also no sign of the much maligned ‘Deadly’ Darren Deadman, who showed one of the most human and commendable acts by a referee, when not booking Billy Sharp for revealing a message on his vest under his shirt after the tragic death of his baby. Additionally, no sign of Nigel Miller, an old skool police officer type ref who always seemed to show common sense.

A perk of the new list is that it contains a number of the better younger refs who are finding it impossible to break into the Premier League, because of their seemingly ‘jobs for life no matter how useless they are’ policy. Refs like Coote, Harrington, Kavanagh, Simpson and the excellent James Adcock from Nottingham for example. Madley is on the list too, thankfully its Andy and not Bobby. Oli Langford from Wednesbury is a vastly underrated ref who I would be happy to see at GP. Yet Tim Robinson from Bognor is one who lowers my expectations before a match has even started. A similar feeling I began to get last season every time I saw Andy Davies’ name in the match programme. The list is completed by Mr Bankes, Duncan, Eltringham, Bond, Linington, Martin and Andy Woolmer.

Additionally, ‘assistants’ are getting an overhaul too, with 36 successful applicants making it to the list, although there are 3 or 4 being demoted from the Premier League. Unlike the referees, not all assistants will become professional assistants, which makes them sound like football’s equivalent to the lovely Debbie McGee. Unfortunately, keeping tabs on our linesmen is not easy, as clearly there is 2 of them and I never know which is which.

There are exceptions to this, where one is clearly of a different ethnicity, or have some form of disability (and I don’t mean poor eyesight), or Mike Newell’s particular favourite, officials who need their own separate changing room. But one noticeable admission from the list is Mathew Buonassisi, a linesman who always seemed to forget where he was and constantly confused his referee as to what the bejeezus he was doing. Mathew has decided to call it a day and has accepted the long standing offer from Hollywood to be Danny DeVito’s body double.”

Bernard Quackenbush

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The lovely Debbie McGee

Bernard – many thanks indeed.

And if you’d like to read more from Bernard then aside from the comments on many of the regular comments to these pages, you can follow him on Twitter via @BernardQuack.

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Gibraltar lead the way – could we follow this kit?

22 Mar

International break means no fixture for Brentford until the trip to Nottingham Forest in early April. So once more it falls upon the European game to entertain us where, no doubt, there’ll be more than a few eyes cast towards the Republic of Ireland to see how our own Alan Judge fares. But if that doesn’t do it for you, England take on Germany and the Netherlands whilst, for yours truly, there’s the additional intrigue offered by Gibraltar hosting both Liechtenstein and Latvia (not simultaneously).

And it was whilst looking around the internet for news on the Gibraltar fixtures (specifically the goldmine that is Gibfootballtalk), that I stumbled across a wonderful kit design from second division club Mons Calpe. Their current home/away shirt is one to rank alongside the broccoli, jamon, octopus, Che Guevara and beer designs that have featured on these pages over the years.

For all that the English national team are currently dividing supporters with their latest two tone shirts, there’s nothing controversial about this season’s Mons Calpe effort. If you play on the Rock of Gibraltar, then why not make a point of this?

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Football fashion that rocks

So bad it’s good? Or so good it’s incredible? Either way, this bold design is as subtle as a kick to the unmentionables. Featuring both the iconic view of ‘The Rock’ and the lighthouse at Europa point, these are a must have for those kit ‘enthusiasts’ looking to add something a little different to the collection.

And it got me thinking further about the Bees and our own effort for next season. Whilst I’m sure Mark Devlin, Matthew Benham and kitman Bob have the design spec on lockdown already (hint: I really love the black and silver ‘third’) , could we ever attempt to incorporate a local landmark into the design of our away shirt?

The tower at the museum of living steam? Brentford lock? Griffin Park herself? This last option would, I am sure, prove popular if we were somehow able to do this. Whilst next season is surely too late, perhaps one to consider ongoing? Or would contractual obligations with Adidas make this nothing more than the stuff of fantasy?

For now though, an idea which will probably have to be confined to the kit locker. That said, if Mark or Matthew are reading (who knows?) perhaps something to think about for our final season at Griffin Park.

If Mons Calpe can do it….

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Nick Bruzon

Will form go out the window in today’s ‘Game of Throws’?

20 Feb

Saturday and game on. Brentford await the arrival of Derby County in a Championship game that sees two teams who, it would be fair to say, are currently going through a dip in form. We’ve talked enough about the results against Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday to warrant any further regurgitation of those facts. Suffice to say that Bees fans will, surely, be looking for something a bit more positive now we are back at Griffin Park after a nightmare road trip.

Derby are faring even worse than us at present and this was a point really hammered home by the arrival of yesterday’s match preview email. The description of ‘current form’ is one which, whilst technically accurate, highlights the sticky patch both clubs have currently hit. The question is, who will be the first to pull themselves out of it?

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The club’s ‘current form’ graphic

Well, my online bookmaker (used purely for research purposes) has the Bees at a very generous 21/10, Derby 13/10 and the draw 23/10. All of which makes the Rams slight favourites but, really, suggests that nobody has a clue. I can’t call it.

Then again I can’t even call which options Dean Smith will start with today. The main thing we can say for sure is that central defence will feature Jack O’Connell and Harlee, following last week’s red card for Yoann Barbet.

Whilst, of course, the likes of Alan Judge, David Button and Jake Bidwell also name themselves, the rest still remains somewhat up for grabs in terms of a guaranteed start. And the return to fitness of Alan McCormack adds a further option in centre mid.Regardless of whether he is picked, if nothing else surely this makes ‘Return of the Mack’ an absolute shoe-in for #BeeTheDJ today?

Get the crowbar out

I have it on good authority that the other thing returning for this game will be Terrace Talk. I have no idea where or when Jo and her camera crew will appear but do keep your eyes open for a chance to shine in our latest, and greatest, social media feature. Terrace Talk was conspicuous by its absence for the Leeds game so here’s hoping its back with a bang today.

Talking of social media this brings us (with all the subtly of a McCormack challenge) to Snapchat. Anybody like myself, confused as to why we’d changed our twitter profile picture to something resembling a white tadpole in a dress, soon found the answer on the club site.

Of course (?!), this was just our own take on the logo for the popular photo sharing app which ‘BrentfordFC’ have now joined . Personally, I’ve never used this before but, having signed up, it’ll be interesting to see what our media team send through over the course of a match day.

As for our Twitter account, this morning the ever direct annette c has since noted “What the f*@ is Brentfords new display picture thing?! Ew. Get the crest back please!!”

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BrentfordFC are now on Snapchat

It really is all happening today at Griffin Park. Along with the ever popular ‘free chilli’ in the Hive (get in early) we’ve also got our ‘new shirts for old’ promotion running in the club shop.

But for me (Clive) Kitman Bob Oteng has beaten Jo, chilli, the club shop and BeeTheDJ in one fell swoop when it comes to pre-game excitement .

Yes, its the return of his cryptic quiz. Bob is to giveaways what Matthew Benham was to transfer clues. And today’s competition sees supporters given, quite literally, the chance to win the shirt off Toumani’s back. Likewise, a pair of boots. Promising us a debut qualifying question, those up early saw the unveiling of his latest attempt to bamboozle Brentford fans.

What a prize. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the black ‘third’ shirt is stunning. Here’s hoping for a chance to finally guess one right.

Nick Bruzon

Bees stung at the death but is this a transfer clue from Mr Benham?

3 Jan

Oh, the irony. For the second time in three away games, Brentford have been ‘Jota’d’ . Following Kenwyne Jones’ 90th minute strike to give Cardiff City a 3-2 win, Maikel Kieftenbeld repeated the act a minute earlier as Birmingham City consigned The Bees to a 2-1 defeat at St. Andrews yesterday. With £3.7m winger Demarai Gray left out, seemingly on his way to Leicester City, the stage was set for the Bees to take advantage but, instead, Birmingham took the honours.

What can you say? In a game between two identically placed teams pushing for the play-offs, a win was vital. And, indeed, it was the Bees pushing for this that ultimately resulted in our downfall as a stray ball from Harlee, well inside the opposition half, allowed the Blues to catch us on the break.

That’s not to blame it all on one man, far from it. This is a team game and we win or lose together. Likewise, given the scenario should there have been a case for taking the point and keeping pace? Moreso given Ipswich Town and Burnley drawing 0-0.

Well, for me I like that Dean Smith had his troops ‘go for it’ until the very end. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t have taken our chances earlier in the game.

But even given our domination (63% possession), as we’ve said many times the only stat that actually counts is balls in the back of the net. The false position in the table in which Birmingham found themselves (really? after 24 games?) that the Bees Player analysts referred to early on proved to be anything but. Then again, despite the ongoing excellence of Mark Burridge (right down to his ‘old school’ use of “denouement”, Billy Reeves style) I did wonder if his co-commentators had been on the last of the Christmas sherry.

The observation that it’s definitely more than a yellow. Is it a red? (following the Jon Toral ‘challenge’ on Jake Bidwell) led to a peculiar discussion about orange cards whilst Birmingham’s winning goal involved Bidwell or someone at the back post. As for half-time guest Tim Street’s novel suggestion that a yellow card was correct because Jake hadn’t been seriously hurt, words fail me… I hadn’t realised that a compound fracture was a pre-requisite for the ref to show red.

I could go on but that’s not the point. It’s old ground and, despite the obvious passion, being able to produce an award winning programme or manufacture website content does not, by default, make you a pundit. As a paying subscriber, that’s my opinion and I’m sorry if it offends anybody. Although by that logic, given the amount of gumph churned out here, perhaps it might be time to start posting the CV to Channel 5.

So Birmingham City leapfrog the Bees who slip to 10th but still remain right amongst it. And, more importantly, we have control very much in our own hands with two home  league games to follow. First up, leaders Middlesbrough and then the televised clash with Andre Gray’s high flying Burnley. Before all that is an FA Cup game which, no doubt, will be used to give some of the squad players and subs a start. 3 matches in 6 days is a huge ask at the best of times, let alone when you are still in the play-off mix

Other points of note for the day are, in no particular order:

Our kit. The regular reader (should such an individual exist) will know my feelings around the new black ‘third’ shirt – truly a thing of beauty. However, the colour clash produced against a team playing in dark blue could surely have been avoided had we been allowed to use our red and white stripes (as we did in the home game at Griffin Park).

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The black wasn’t popular amongst those watching

Jota. Supposedly injured in the warm up/training(depending where you read), let’s hope there’s nothing more to it than that. One point the Bees Player team made that I did agree with will be the impact that a fully fit Jota will bring. The attacking potential, and battle for places, in a midfield that already includes the likes of Alan Judge and Sergi Canos is an intriguing one.

Matthew Benham. Our owner has started to follow Pedro Chirivella Burgos on Twitter. Is there anything more to this than his signing for Liverpool alongside Sergi Canos from the Valencia academy? Or can we read it as the first sign of a ‘cryptic clue’ style revelation about an impending loan?

The festive period is over. But that didn’t stop us attempting an elaborate free kick routine with a Christmas tree style line up. The chorus of boos that accompanied the set up for this was clear for all to hear and whilst, sadly, it came to nothing the logic behind it is sound. Do all possible to obscure the view of the defenders and goalkeeper.

Alan Judge was just off target this time but Sam Saunders must have been licking his lips on the bench. It was a set up I’ve not seen before and Channel 5 have a nice video link of the action on their Twitter feed.

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Channel 5 show us the free kick routine

Stats. We’ve already mentioned these briefly but today’s Last Word goes to the undisputed king of statistics, Luis Melville. Tempting fate or the wrong stat at the wrong time as we approached the end of yesterday’s game?

When even the guru that is Luis calls it like this then, perhaps, you just have to accept it was never going to be our day.

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Luis tempts the footballing gods….

Nick Bruzon

Play off challengers go fo it as transfer rumours begin

2 Jan

Brentford travel to Birmingham City today, hoping to end the festive fixture period with 7(seven) points out of 9. The Boxing Day draw at home to Brighton and the follow up win at Reading, which featured those goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos, has left the Bees in eighth place. We’re already six clear of QPR (well played last night against Hull, btw…), Fulham are out of sight – at the wrong end – whilst a win could take us to within two points of fifth place. But with the transfer window creaking open today, what will we get?

First up, a team in the same position and with the same potential as ourselves. Birmingham City, who are likely to include former Bees Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson, sit one place below Brentford on the same amount of points. 36. A win for them does exactly what it would do for us and so this is a real chance for both sides to steal a march on a play-off rival.

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Clayton eyes the target – outside of the box.

Despite all the potential of recent weeks, nobody has been able to break into that top 6 but the gap is getting tighter. Previously unbeatable Brighton have now had their vulnerability exposed, having lost 3 out of the last 4. Freescoring Burnley are still showing intermittent form. Don’t be fooled by a pair of 4-0 wins in recent games. These sandwich a 3-0 loss to Hull City and a six game winless streak prior to that.

And today they entertain Ipswich Town, who of course, sit directly below them. Something will have to give there as Andre Gray takes on Jonathan Douglas. As such, today’s game presents a tremendous opportunity for the Blues and Brentford to really close in on that pack of promotion wannabes.

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The BBC  show how tight that chasing pack are

Make no mistake. This team ARE in a race for the play-offs now. I find it an incredible statement to make based on the start of the season but you can’t fault the ability or desire of the Brentford squad. Birmingham are going to see a totally different side to the one they beat 2-0 at Griffin Park earlier in the season.

Lee Carsley’s first game in charge as he attempted to salvage something, anything, from the mess that was the Marinus experiment was a woeful performance. I genuinely hate to be negative about our team but even that, a match originally postponed due to the pitch debacle, met with a summary that included:

The longer the game went on the more heads dropped. Sideways pass followed sideways pass followed backwards pass – think Jonathan Douglas at his most negative. There was no penetration or cohesion as optimistic balls forward were easily snaffled up by the Blues defence….. as at the weekend we conceded in the 90th minute – so there is some consistency. “Not quite as sh*t as Saturday” was the view of one New Road wag after the game. I’d disagree – I thought we were dreadful. Even Lee Carsley would later tell Billy Reeves that, “We went passive with our passing which suited them”.

Still, that was then and this is now. It’s the sort of fixture today where I’d be happy with a point prior to kick off but I‘ve got a funny feeling we could go two better. That said, I’m sure Birmingham City fans are thinking exactly the same.

And if you think you know better than me (let’s face it, anybody still reading does) and fancy getting your hands on a pair of shirts – including the stunning black ‘third’ strip – then head over to Twitter where Kitman Bob is running a fantastic competition. He’s well worth a ‘follow’ anyway, but moreso now given what he is offering one fan…

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Move fast – what a prize

Get on it quickly.

And finally, January 2nd see the transfer window open for a month prior to the trademark ‘slam shut’ at 11pm on February 1st. As ever, for us Brentford fans, it will be a case of ‘squeaky bum’ time. Whilst I pay little notice to rumours circulating in the local press, one can’t help but be curious as to the Alan Judge situation – his being the name at the forefront of most stories on the subject.

One of THE top performers in the Championship this season, he is sure to be attracting interest from divisional rivals and those clubs currently locked in the Premier League relegation battle (think Aston Villa, Sunderland, Chelsea , Swansea City) or beyond. Jota’s name is never far from the frame either whilst Sam Saunders is out of contract at season end. David Button is pulling out all the stops in goal whilst the likes of Jake Bidwell and James Tarkowski are showing just how much we rely on them.

I could go on. The reason the Bees are where we are is because the team is playing well. Very well. And, as such, your better players are sure to attract more interest. We saw the squad rocked by a series of summer sales as popular players such as Stuart Dallas, Will Grigg, Andre Gray and Moses Odubajo all left Griffin Park for 7(seven) figure sums. It is only natural supporters will be worried about the same thing happening again.

Will that have been sufficient to balance the books or could more be on the way? Alternatively, will Dean Smith have the green light to look at bolstering the squad to form one more in his own image? I’m sure Walsall fans are probably fearing a raid as much as we are.

I’m not a huge fan of this ‘window’ system but, like it or not, it’s what we have. One just has to hope our top brass hold firm, that the books are in good shape and the squad want to continue this push – together.

I read an article on the Telegraph website this morning regarding the top fifty transfer targets for this window. Only two were from the Championship, both at QPR – Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips. Whilst a somewhat blinkered view of the talent available, if we can stay under the radar as long as possible then I’m all for that.

Besides, we‘ve got more important things to worry about. All the concern in the world about who might go counts for nothing until it happens. Let’s not let it distract us from the trip to St.Andrews.

Here’s hoping  we can start 2016 like we ended 2015.

Nick Bruzon

 

Sheer Bliss for Brentford on Boxing Day

27 Dec

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to trot out some Chronicle style 80’s alliteration but the occasion of yesterday’s visit of Brighton was one that also saw Bees legend Gary Blissett, finally, inducted into the Brentford hall of fame. We’ll get to Bliss shortly but can only begin with a draw 0-0 between the Bees and the Seagulls that we can, perhaps, count ourselves unlucky not to have won.

David Stockdale in the Brighton goal pulled off a number of second half saves to kept the scores level as the game opened up a bit. The Brentford midfield looked a tad flatter than normal as clean sheets and snuffing out the opposition seemed the first order of the day. That said, Alan Judge was once more the standout man from that area when the Bees did take the game forward, as a series of second half chances were carved out only for Stockdale to keep Brighton in it.

The first from Judge saw the Irishman (surely a ‘shoe-in’ for Euro 2016 on this form) cut in from the wing and unleash a ferocious drive which the ‘keeper was able to parry over. Next up, the would be poacher turned would be provider, setting up Tarkowski for a header and certain goal. Again, the athletic Stockdale had to be at his best diving full stretch to guide it around the post with a stunning save.

Indeed, Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box would go one better and describe it as “Phenomenal“. Certainly, subsequent review of the  highlights pay testament to the true quality of the save. Finally it was Judge once more, from distance, forcing the Brighton shot stopper to dive to his left and tip away for another Bees corner.

Three great stops that, perhaps, denied three points for Brentford. However, we were ultimately the architects of our own result. Philipp Hofmann had the best chance of all, earning space in the box to get himself on the end of a Tarkowski cross with the goal begging and just Stockdale to beat. From six yards out.

This time, sadly, the save was anything but world class and that’s no disrespect to Brighton. With the whole of the target to aim at , the big German guided his header straight down Stockdale’s throat for a comfortable catch. And with that, scores remained at 0-0.

“He could have been the hero”. Not my words but those of Mark Burridge.

Full credit to Brighton. They closed us out and made chances few and far between. Likewise, a point against the long term league leaders is no bad thing whatsoever when, but for a bit more luck in front of goal (or a different ‘keeper), we may well have taken the win.

But there you go. Such are the margins in football and, perhaps, somewhat telling that this was the day we welcomed Gary Blissett into the Brentford ‘hall of fame’ at half time. His absence from this institution has been somewhat of an enigma but great to see if finally remedied.

Gary’s record speaks for itself and he remains a hero to Brentford fans of a certain age. Over six years from 1987 to 1993 he terrorised defences across the old third, and for one brief season, first divisions (what we know today as the Championship) . Notching 105 goals in 291 games (a strike rate of better than 1 in 3) alongside a variety of partners – most notably Richard Cadette and Dean Holdsworth – his FA Cup goals against Manchester City and Blackburn are the stuff of legend whilst the promotion clincher in the 1-0 victory at Peterborough has earned him a place in Brentford folklore.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 in the FA Cup v his beloved Manchester City

His performance in ’92-’93, where as an ever present his goals almost kept us in the old first division, demands equal recognition. If for no other reason than he’d seen Dean Holdsworth replaced with Murray Jones (think of a twentieth century Nick Proschwitz – nobody could fault the effort but, sadly the end product was somewhat lacking).

It wasn’t just as a goalscorer that Bliss made his name. He was also emergency goalkeeper – making his debut half way through a Championship game at home to Southend United in 1992 whilst Ashley Bayes shouted directions from behind the goal. Direction that Bliss ignored in a game that saw our first league win of that campaign.

His sale in 1993 , with relegation back to the third tier of English football confirmed, was an inevitable one but his reputation at Griffin Park has never diminished. Even close to a quarter-century later,  he remains as much a hero to supporters – this one specifically – as he did in his playing days.

Congratulations, Gary. Thoroughly well deserved.

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

As a final thought, here’s a statistical question. When was the last time we played successive games against teams in day-glo yellow? Following the previous game at home to Huddersfield Town, Brighton turned out in an equally lurid yellow design that was easier to see than the stewards.

Despite what looked like a sell out away crowd, I counted less than three dozen on display amongst supporters – and they were easy to spot from 100 yards away.

I have no idea what Mark Devlin and kitman Bob have lined up for next season, if they even know as yet, but from this kit obsessive here’s a suggestion – perhaps neon isn’t the best look !

Black might be good (hint, hint).

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Neon yellow – not a great look

Nick Bruzon