Tag Archives: Blackburn Rovers

The end is nigh…

12 Mar

Brentford travel to Blackburn Rovers tonight. We all know the shape of the league table. We all know that the result will only be one step on the way to deciding which team joins Norwich City in the Premier League. Us, Watford, Swansea City or perhaps a surge up the blindside by one of the other contenders now putting a run together. Fingers crossed for the right result, obviously. Goal difference means that should we pick up all three points tonight, we will go ahead of the second placed Hornets on level games. They then travel to Cardiff City tomorrow whilst the Swans face the prospect of a trip to Luton. No doubt hoping Andre Ayew (pen) will keep up his current hot streak of converting dubiously awarded spot kicks. Whatever the methodology in Steve Cooper’s team being given these things, there’s no doubting Ayew’s precision from the spot. Sadly. 

Still, we’ve done all this to death in the last week or so. Brentford have had some rare ‘down time’ with the Rotherham game being postponed due to the hosts Covid results last Friday. It has been our first stretch without a midweek game in I don’t know how long. The backlog of league fixtures and our run to the semi finals of the League cup making it as relentless a season as has ever been experienced. Now, we are in to the final 12 games of the campaign. The regular campaign, that is. The reward for coming out on top in these will be indescribable. The agony of the play-off roulette wheel nothing any of the teams in the mix will want to go through. The three of us, at the very least, will have their eyes and expectations on securing that second place spot. This really is going to be high stakes stuff with those that miss out on automatic facing the prospect of the W place in North London. And whilst we’re not in the ‘must win’ game category yet, you can be sure every point won or lost is going to be scrutinised as we get closer and closer to the line.

Here’s hoping the unexpected break has helped our knackered legs. Blackburn played midweek and got a draw at Ewood Park. They were even winning until they were adjudged to have conceded a penalty which etc etc etc. Deja vu and all that. We’ve got no new injury concerns as far as I am aware – just the ongoing ones – and, of course, none other than Geoff Eltringham at the helm. I’d say ‘in charge’ but, you know.. The amount of times we’ve crossed swords with him a source of ongoing frustration. Stoke away, last season, just one of the many horror showings. Fingers crossed for a more measured approach tonight. There has already been enough refereeing based interference at the top of the table in recent weeks for him to add to that sh*t show.

Thanks, Geoff. One of the many.

Whichever way it goes, kick off is 7.45pm this evening. Sky have the game and, as Thomas said in his own press conference to the the build up “The biggest task for me, and the staff, and the players is to keep all the noise away so we can simply focus on training well today and playing well tomorrow. If you think too far ahead you don’t focus on what you can affect. The only thing we are focussing on is how we can perform best tomorrow.”   No bad thing. Thankfully they don’t read this. Hopefully, they pay little attention to social media. One game at a time and all that is the obvious mantra, even if it is tempting to look ahead and around.

Other news from yesterday saw Ivan Toney being nominated for manager fo the month alongside Teemu Pukki. Somebody at the EFL Twitter missing out on the ‘proof reading’ option before pressing publish. Of course, it transpired he had been nominated for player of the month (although at least the FrankOut brigade would have been happy for a while). An award which has this morning been announced as going to the Norwich City man. Well played Pukki. He’s a machine.

Also this week the kids have returned to school. Thank goodness. The brand of home-teaching in our house as dodgy as a Swansea penalty award but that’s all over now. The teaching, I mean. Instead, the school run is back on and it is one which takes us past Griffin Park. A place I still cast a wistful eye towards every time. So many memories. So much time spent and emotional investment poured into the famous old ground. Now, it has a new occupant. A mechanical digger. There it was on the forecourt yesterday, doing something to the ground side turnstile entrance gates on Braemar Road. It would seem the inevitable is definitely now underway.

Here’s hoping the only demolition work we’re talking about tomorrow is a job done on Blackburn. See you there. Metaphorically speaking. Confined to barracks once more. Joy. 

Sad times at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not like this.

10 Mar

Finally. Games in hand have played out. If anything, Brentford and Swansea City are now the ones with the opportunity of playing catch up. Watford the team looking over their shoulders. Current occupants of second place in a Championship promotion race that is going to run and run. Last night’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers meaning the Swans are now three points ahead of the Bees with both teams having played 34 of our 46 games. Only goal difference keeping them behind The Hornets who have, of course, played that extra fixture. Whilst, personally speaking, I’m a firm believer in the ethos that points in the bag are better than games in hand there is extra comfort to be gained by the fact that our goal difference currently is clear of both our main rivals. Hopefully we’re all a bit less stressed now. Blips happen to the best of teams. Even in the top flight Liverpool are turning Fortress Anfield into an all you can score buffet for visiting teams whilst normally indestructible Manchester City ‘lost’ a game at the weekend (not a typo). 

I’d rather be second than fourth. No question. Prefer 66 points to 63. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet the doomsday scenario being played out by so many after our own  disaster showing against Coventry City has failed to materialise. Swansea having three games in hand at that point and the potential to go 8 points clear should they win them all. They didn’t. Instead, were humped soundly by Bristol City and Huddersfield Town. Turned one point into three c/o of 96th minute penalty awards that were straight out of Dodge City. Fishier than Michael Fish eating fish and chips. Then, last night, another one awarded although this time in the first half but when a goal down. A penalty that was as soft as any other we’ve seen awarded recently. I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not with this regularity. Alan McInally reporting for Sky Sports aghast at what he’d just seen after Andre Ayew made it four goals from the spot in as many games.

Penalty to Swansea. Awarded whilst listening to pop music’s Dodgy

Good luck to them. As we said before, Brentford wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if offered. We’d be right on the spot, trusting Ivan Toney to do his thing. That so many have been awarded , and in such controversial circumstances, is of course going to frustrate. That’s the polite phrase. Shonky refereeing to those looking in. The EFL powerless, impotent, silent.  We can’t change that. We still have plenty of opportunity to wrestle control of our destiny. 12 more games. That’s a lot of time and a lot of points. Even if we need to do it from open play. Err, Bryan Mbeumo at Norwich anyone…? Besides, I’m still firmly of the belief that this one is going to go all the way to the wire. If for no other reason than Watford visit Brentford then host Swansea in their final two games. 

All being well, things will be a lot clearer by then. If the recent run of LLL was stressful for some think how that final brace of fixtures is going to be? That’s a level of angst I don’t want to be part of although can only presume things will head that way. None of the teams around us will drop that many points between now and then.  At least we got back on track with those defeats of Sheff Wed and Stoke. Next up Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

Cripes, that trip to Ewood Park is going to be tough. By all accounts they should have won last night. We all know our own injury situation at the back. That said, we all know our own goal scoring potential going forward. The choice being faced by Thomas Frank over who from Tariqe Fosu, Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos to start with a tough one. A nice one, I suppose. For me (straps on tin hat) the later had been the most consistent performer this season from the three although nobody could deny the game against Norwich City was one where he was at anything than his best. I still stand by the fact that the abuse he came under was way out of line and totally out of order. If nothing else, there were enough others who went awol in a game against the runaway league leaders. But we’ve done that one to death. 

Brentford may well lose again this season. Sadly. That’s football. As noted earlier, even Manchester City got a nil return on Sunday. It happens. Liverpool have hit such a rough patch of home form that even Fulham picked up three points over the weekend. Swansea City have fluctuated between whipping boys and relentless winners over the last five games. The only consistent thing about the beautiful game is its inconsistency. Nothing can be predicted. Although if everyone could just stop awarding Steve Cooper’s team penalties, that would be nice. As a side note,  those bemoaning Barnsley inflicting one of our own defeats in the blip period may care to notice the Tykes now sitting in the play-off spots. Talk about a surge up the blindside. 

We can talk about others in the same breath as we do ourselves. That’s not obsession. That’s a fact. That’s what makes football so exciting. So addictive. Delivers the agony and ecstasy in equal measure. We can be at our best yet still be undone by outside influence. Be ropey as but nick the points and then see our rivals do everything but score. Of course we have to focus on Brentford as a priority. Of course we shouldn’t get overly upset about what the others do, as long as we continue to pick up the points. Yet with our destinies so inter twined, it’s hard not to look at the other games with microscopic interest. Luton v Swansea on Saturday and Cardiff v Watford will be two such games. Moreso with our own game taking place on Friday night. Fingers crossed we’ll be back in automatic by the time our nearest and dearest kick off. Fingers crossed….

Nick Bruzon  

No show Flo Jo. The game is off so what next?

6 Mar

Matchday. Time for Brentford fans to get back on the horse after the midweek reverse at Norwich City. Except, of course, we can’t. Friday morning saw the announcement of our visit from Rotherham United being cancelled due to their second Corona Virus outbreak of the season (following that in December). Instead, the game has been pushed back to April 27th and we can do nothing more today than watch the results roll in. Watford – Nottingham Forest and Swansea – Middlesbrough being the key fixtures of note. Given our own lack of action we could well end up sitting in fourth place by the end of the day. Whatever else happens, by the time we play next (at Blackburn Rovers on Friday evening) at least it will be in the knowledge that Swansea have finally caught up their two games on us. Following today’s encounter, they also travel to Ewood Park. Tuesday night could be a huge one for them. And us.

However the table looks at that point, I’m not gong to get over excited or angry. As we’ve been saying all season the Championship is a marathon not a sprint. Positions ebb and flow. It won’t be until the final game of the campaign that Brentford know for sure how things look. Obvious, I realise. Obvious that is, to those of us who understand football. Who resist the tendency to hit the panic button and go for the knee-jerk, lemming like meltdown because a player mishits a pass or the team fail to score. Who think that enjoying our highest position in years and pushing for the top flight is something to celebrate rather than being “up the club’s ass(?)”. Weird. But that’s old ground covered off a few times already. I think, by now, its fair to say we fall into two camps. The objective and the keyboard warriors. Which is probably the same at most clubs, to be fair. The difference being we’re second, everyone, rather than fighting a Birmingham City style relegation battle.

I’m gutted about today. Initial thoughts are with the players and staff at Rotherham United. Unlike the Bristol City symptom-gate affair (which, unless I have missed something, all seems to have gone very, very quiet despite the promise of an EFL investigation) positive tests were returned. Hopefully all will be well in their squad.

Instead of seeing former Bees Chiedozie Ogbene and the ever popular Flo Jo once more, we are confined to barracks. Stuck on the sofa watching Watford and then waiting for updates from the Swansea City game.

Not today….

Personally, I’m not overly fussed about sitting through either. Boredom aside. As noted before, they won’t be definitive in the final placings, regardless of any flux experienced in the table. It goes without saying we’d love a pair of away wins but I can’t see Nottingham Forest or Middlesbrough able to offer any resistance whatsoever. Boro’ in particular will be up against a Swansea team buoyed by their 96th minute ‘penalty’ at Stoke. Shut happens. They still need to pick up points in their surplus games and then maintain that position. The subsequent tough run they face is their problem, not ours.  

So yes, I expect Brentford to be an interim fourth place come 5pm. And when we are, we are. The plus side to Rotherham’s misfortune being that at least, in the short term, it allows our players some extra recovery time. The injury list is a long one. Fatigue must be setting in. The heart would rather see us playing but the head says that at least we can gain some advantage by this enforced inactivity. With three teams currently fighting it our for one automatic place (Norwich City won’t blow their chance) this will come down to who can hold their nerve. Who can keep their squad trim. Who can put a decent run together over the final dozen games rather than hitting the skids. Let’s not forget that Watford had their own wobble at Bournemouth last week whilst Swansea have been humped by both Huddersfield Town and Bristol City in recent fixtures.      

There’s a touch under a quarter of the season to go. It is going to be huge for Brentford. Let’s just focus on ourselves. Starting at Blackburn on Friday. Anything else that comes our way is a bonus. And if there are no gifts, there’s always the social media meltdown button to press…

Fingers at the ready

Nick Bruzon

Sergi does it in style and Thomas speaks out as Brentford open the doors.

6 Dec

What’s that noise? The sound of tunes being changed? What’s that smell? The stench of flagrant hypocrisy. The ongoing bullying, and there is no other word, of Sergi Canos by a group on social media replaced by praise of the highest order after a quite stunning performance and goal for Brentford against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon. Sorry to start here. We should be focussing on the brilliance of a first game at Lionel Road for our fans and the prospect of doing it all again on Wednesday night against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Themselves, visitors likely to get a warmer reception (at least pre kick off) following the bullsh*t at Millwall yesterday. Yet the internet trolls (see also: Frank Out) have been on it all season and it stinks. We talk about being fans. About mental health – hey, players are as human and fragile as the rest of us. How do YOU know what’s going on in their head? How do you genuinely think that tagging players and messaging them to drip more poison in any way helps? Of course we‘ve got a right to have an opinion. To criticise a team selection. To offer up our own game plan and strategy. What stinks is what has felt like an ongoing and lemming like bullying campaign from keyboard warriors who wouldn’t have the balls to say any of this to anyones face.

For me, being a fan is about showing support. About showing faith. About not launching into one player when he has, in your opinion, an off day. About not jumping on a bandwagon because its the ‘cool’ thing to do. About knowing that recovery from horrific injury is a long term process. About recognising that, actually, we are a team and that aside from being wrong ( for more than one reason) picking on one player is hardly going to help anyone. Call me a n*nce, happy clapper, whatever. Tell us ‘don’t defend him’. Personally, I don’t give a monkey. I make no apologies for supporting my team and our heroes. I’m not blinkered. We recognise poor performances but what we don’t do, at least in our house, is round on our team. Blame every perceived ‘failure’ at the door of one man.

Cripes, you could see what that meant to Sergi yesterday. The tears in his celebration. You could see Thomas Frank fuming, too. He came out fighting at full time to defend his own tactics after Jacob Davenport had rescued an 87th minute equaliser for a Blackburn team who had been playing with ten men for close to an hour. This, following a straight red for Darragh Lenihan had let Brentford back into the game on 36 minutes. His foul on Ivan Toney being deemed sufficient for the player to be invited to leave the field of play. Toney, the Championship’s leading scorer, made no mistake from the spot. Once again his balls of steel walk up culminating in a strike that was as accurate as it was powerful. 

Red seemed harsh but no mistake made from the spot

By this point we had already gone a goal down. Blackburn came out charging and, perhaps sensing the emotion of the day, brought the game to us. It worked. Despite Dalsgaard returning for Fosu to give a more orthodox full back option, our normally impenetrable defence lasted less than twenty minutes. Joe Rothwell waltzing through a series of pirouettes and half arsed challenges.  

Rather than anyone attempting to put in an actual tackle he was given the freedom of Lionel Road before firing home from the edge of the box. 1-0. Deserved. But it woke us from our slumbers. With Sergi puling strings in a front three made up of him, Ivan and Marcus Forss it only felt like a matter of time before we would be level. Sure enough, we were.

Yet if the build up and first half had got the juices flowing, it was nothing compared to the second. Roared on by Peter Gilham, the players came out and kicked on from where they’d left off. The inevitable goal coming from Sergi on the hour. Cutting down the left he stepped into the box, dodging defenders before unleashing an absolute piledriver into the top corner. The Blackburn ‘keeper left no chance. The tears flowing. And that was just from our family ! What a strike. What a way to answer those with nothing good to say. What. A.Goal !! It put one in mind of his effort at Reading away a few years back. It was that good. Bravo, Sergi. Bravo.

It should have been put to bed from there. Blackburn offered nothing. Making no attempt to break and set up to snuff out any further damage. The much touted Adam Armstrong was subbed off, leaving Ivan a clear run to go ahead in the top scorer charts. Yet, instead, we ‘did a Brentford’. D’oh ! 

87 minutes gone and another defensive malfunction allowed Jacob Davenport room to wriggle though and bury it. Urghh. And with that, there was to be no more. Five minutes of injury time, most of which were wasted by the visitors’ ‘keeper, saw us unable to get the fairytale winner. Instead, Brentford having to be content with making it nine unbeaten and still in the top six. Of picking up a ‘mere’ ten points from the last four games which included two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby.

The other talking point was substitutions. We’ve been saying on these pages all season that changes will be made. Either in the starting XI or off the bench. Now offered the chance to make five switches per game, Thomas Frank has absolutely taken that opportunity. Yesterday was no different. Did it change the course of the game? Probably, although we still had enough to wrap up the win and by his own admission we should have gone for more at 2-1. Thomas reflecting at full time that we should have made more forward passes (a real life case of ‘Push up, Brentford’, perhaps?) ”After the 2-1 goal of course we need to win because they didn’t want to come forward so it was only about us making a mistake and unfortunately that happened”.

That’s football. As a fan, ‘disappointing’ didn’t even begin to cut it. Talk about seeing the wind taken form our sails. Ecstasy replaced by agony. Yet as we always say, no team has a divine right to win every game. Sometimes we cruise home by a mile. At others we hang on and fall over the line. Cripes, we’re still up there fighting and just four points off the top of the table. Hardly a case of ‘Frank Out’.

Should we have won? Yes. Did we deserve to? No. Each team scored two goals. That’s how football works. Chances count for naff all. Did the subs affect the team balance? Probably. But that’s the nature of this season which is a marathon crammed into a sprint period. We’ve made changes. We have our squad intact for Derby County on Wednesday. Others are going to do the same. Managers have no choice. On that, Thomas was quite clear. Unequivocally so.

If you asked me if I wanted to make five substitutions if it was the World Cup final tonight then I wouldn’t, probably not…but we have 30 more World Cup finals to play in the most compact programme ever and if people don’t understand that we can’t play every single player for 90 minutes in 46 games then they need to start studying a little bit about science and fatigue, mental freshness and how you use that. So, if you ask me if I would do it again? 

ONE.. HUNDRED.. PERCENT.

Do I like it as a supporter? Well, its not what I’m used to that’s for sure. But we’ve also got a great squad. Blame the defence for having a moment if you must but why not lambast the attackers for failing to put this one to bed? Tarique Fosu came on for Sergi. Mbeumo for Forss. These are great players and very much the heroes of our Twitter crew. Yet they couldn’t wrap it up. That’s not to knock either player btw. We were up against a resolute Blackburn side who hung in, absorbed damage and caught us on the break. It finished 2-2. That’s football. The important question now being how we can bounce back against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in midweek.

I’ve got a feeling that one’s going to be and absolute cracker. Being part of the Lionel Road crowd was a huge honour.  Our new home is everything it has been bigged up to be and more. Great sightlines, close to the pitch and a truly fantastic atmosphere. Griffin Park at night, under floodlights, was always special. Imagine that on Wednesday? Two thousand made some noise in the dusk. It’s going to be even louder when Derby visit.

It won’t be easy, either. They finally climbed off the bottom of the table after winning 1-0 at Millwall in a game ruined before kick off by the moronic booing of the players supporting racial equality. Something as awful as the club’s complete silence on the matter. If only their fans could have adopted the same tone. There aren’t sufficient words. Pathetic justification of not bringing politics into football no defence. This is not support of  what many feel is some quasi-marxist movement. This is support of players. Of showing we feel there is no room for racial injustice or discrimination. And if you think that’s wrong then f*ck off. Football has come so far, in places, except it would seem at the den.

So Derby County were riled. They got their win in a game where the closest the the home team’s match report would get was to note that,  “Roared on by 2,000 fans – and what a great sight it was – the game got underway “. Hmmm. What a way to welcome fans back in. What a way to represent yourselves. Perhaps the only saving grace here being that with only two thousand present it will be easier for any identification to take place. But I doubt that’ll happen.

Instead, Wayne Rooney and his Rams will find things much more welcoming at Lionel Road on Wednesday. At least, before kick off. Once that whistle blows, give them hell. I’d love to be a part of it once more. For those getting their turn next up, ENJOY.  

Until then, perhaps one more time from Sergi….

What an afternoon it was. Welcome to the future. Welcome home.

Well played, Sergi.

Nick Bruzon

Finally. The chance to see our new home for real. Lionel Road awaits.

5 Dec

Corona Virus restrictions. With the exception of ‘Rail Replacement Bus’, you’d be doing well to find three more depressing words in the English language. Yet today there’s a light through the gloom. For the first time since the 5-0 tanking of Sheffield Wednesday back in March, Brentford fans have the opportunity to see a game for real. Moreso, a first chance to do so at our new home. Lionel Road prepares to welcome fans for the visit of Blackburn Rovers this afternoon. I promised myself I wouldn’t overly bang on about it but to say we’re excited doesn’t even begin to cut the mustard. Like flicking on to a random episode of The Simpsons and discovering its the one with the Springfield Monorail. Yessss!! 

Not ‘that’ monorail

To date, the most to see a game at Lionel Road have been the smattering of club representatives, journalists, photographers and our 200+ directors that were on hand to roar the Bees on against Quarter Pound of Rubbish. Oh, Warbs. I’m still laughing about that one. And if you’d like to read more, today’s ‘Bees Blog’ in the matchday programme will (I hope) cover that one off. #shamelessplug. To those, we can now add the 2,000 supporters who were the first invited in as part of the Season Ticket rotation and, it has to be said, anticipation is rife. 

For me, Clive, the uniqueness of the occasion aside it gives an opportunity to really try and assert some form of home advantage. We’ve already heard Peter Gilham, the directors and Cliff Crown roaring Brentford on. Having those extra voices sure to motivate the players once more. How much of a difference will supporters make?

And what a time for this to happen. Blackburn Rovers are top of the Championship goalscoring charts. Adam Armstrong the division’s highest individual contributor with 14. Let’s not forget Ivan Toney though. As if we could. With our own man tucked in right behind on 13 goals, it has all the makings of a promotion chasing shootout. Rovers sit two points outside the top six. Brentford knowing that a win would take us to within a point of first placed Bournemouth (subject to other results). Frank out indeed. They’ve all gone very quiet – insert Picard graphic. Every voice will count. Every motivational cheer and extra bit of backing for the Bees a chance to finally remind ourselves that it is an actual advantage to be playing at home – albeit, of course, we’ll all be following the officially published Covid guidelines which, understandably, come with the contractual obligation to remind supporters: “Please avoid excessive singing, shouting and cheering.” Good luck there. The same goes for all clubs, btw.

Frank Out… ??!! Where have they all gone?

Recent form has really gone to plan. Thomas Frank hasn’t been afraid to mix his team up and bring in plans B and C. The step up in the game against the Loftus Road mob when we employed the three centre back option for the second half worked brilliantly. This time 🙂 . His use of Toney and Forss at Rotherham United on Tuesday night seeing each player end up on the scoresheet. The temptation to go again must be immense. But with our defence stronger than the Rock Of Gibraltar (only three goals conceded in the last eight games) and Vitaly Janelt once again proving that the Brentford recruitment model is light years ahead of just about every club in English football, why not?

Now, Brentford are breathing down the necks of Bournemouth and Norwich City in automatic positions. The later probably expecting to breeze past Luton Town midweek but, instead, fatally holed below the waterline at a Kenilworth Road that saw supporters present. The cat that got the canary. Mind you, going by the state of their former mascot  – frankly, terrifying – the Hatters would be doing well to bring him back out of retirement. If we’re looking at clubs making any form of home advantage count then how about starting right there? Kenilworth cat up there with Kingsley, Boiler man and Buzzette in the all time great mascots.

Kenilworth Cat – back in the day Luton very much had a rabid beast

Ah, Buzzette. Another reason to be grateful for our return to live action. John Travolta in a furry suit. 70’s John Travolta, I mean. Those funky dance moves have been sorely missed whilst we’ve been locked out. Unlike the Gunnersaurus saga over at the Emirates (remember that from the surreal heights of football lockdown?), Brentford have made if quite public that we’re sticking with our anthropomorphic crowd pleaser. Let’s hope that along with Buzz she’s back out there doing her thing this afternoon.

Yes, we are going. It IS exciting and I get that not everybody is allowed in first time out. It’s a huge shame from that respect and we’re feeling truly privileged to be part of that initial group going in. I promised myself I wouldn’t overly bang on when we were let back in. Cripes, it only seems like five minutes ago that every man Jack and Harry was telling us from their seats in the ground how amazing it was. How incredible. Hardly a day went past without seeing somebody else in there, banging on about how incredible OUR home was. All whilst we were confined to barracks. It hurt, a lot. I remember my own frustration well. Perhaps it will be even tougher for those fans who haven’t been given the chance this afternoon. Social media sure to be awash with photos and comments. Those obliged to wait until the visit of Wayne Rooney’s Derby County or beyond missing out on today and having to wait whilst that anticipation builds even further.

It will be tough for them, no question. It’ll be amazing for us, I hope. Yet at the same time whenever you get your place on the ST rotation train, it won’t feel properly proper until we are all allowed in together. Until we can have a beer with our friends. Until we can all cheer, en-masse. Until the place is sold out our rather than operating at 11% capacity (15% if you include the massed ranks of our directors). That’s not to say we can’t wait for this afternoon. Only a liar would pretend otherwise.

Finally, for the first time in 9 months, I can dig out the old refrain. Roll on 3pm. See you there !

I can’t wait to see these two again

Nick Bruzon

What is the best Brentford pub? Blackburn ticket day is here and Rotherham away.

1 Dec

It seems like just five minutes ago our 200 fans were cheering on Brentford to another three points. Now, we’ve a chance to close in on the automatic spots with a trip to Rotherham United this evening. Its a game that is live on Sky so don’t forget to set your watches for that 8pm kick off. Tickets for the home game against Blackburn this weekend are made available today (not a typo !!) whilst Monday night also saw the FA Cup third round draw and a collective groan go out across TW8 as Middlesbrough were pulled from the hat. We also have the means to answer the question, ‘What is the best Brentford pub on matchday?” as the latest Lockdown boredom buster project has now come to fruition – and you could get your hands on it.  

There was no end of fun on Friday

First up, Rotherham United. Cripes, I can’t call this one. On paper, the table gives us the slight advantage but in practice, the Millers have just held second placed Bourenmouth. Chuck an empty stadium into the mix and this one cold be anybody’s. It is the sort of game one would expect us to win, based purely on the facts that we’ve conceded just 3 goals in the last 7(seven) games and remain unbeaten over the same period. Chuck in the sort of firepower one could only have dreamed of when Ollie Watkins was sold, with Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss banging them in for fun and ordinarily I’d be confident. Moreso given the leveller that is having no home fans present.

But this is football. This is Brentford. This is us knowing that however confident we may feel, fingers have been burned many times. Optimism is fine, and I’m full of it, albeit with that niggling doubt at the back of the mind. Rotherham United haven’t read the script and will have no intention of rolling over to die. It’s going to be a cold night in Yorkshire and with the home side hovering just above the drop zone, they won’t be giving any early Christmas presents to anyone. This is going to be a tough, tough test for Thomas Frank and his squad selection. Janelt and Jansen to start?  The three centre backs that were so derided at Stoke City yet were part of a game changing formation change on Friday night? Which combination of Canos, Fosu or Mbeumo?

Who’d be a head coach. At 7pm we find out which way Thomas has jumped. See you on the sofa. Hopefully for the last time before we get the chance to go to a game. Today (Tuesday) sees emails being sent to the lucky few selected in the first draft of Season Ticket holders able to get in to Lionel Road for Saturday’s game with Blackburn. By now I am sure you have read all the blurb published by the club. The long and short being a longevity based priority system which you have three chances to claim on before going to the back of the queue and waiting your turn once more. This has been put together with help from BIAS (thank you) and it seems about as fair as you can get things. The full information is available here but, short of being fast tracked in to the Directors box, issued a photographer’s pass or becoming a ball boy this is the best shot we have . And I can’t wait. Nerves? What nerves? Keep on checking your email inbox…..

The FA Cup draw has seen us paired with Middlesbrough in a game sure to set the pulses racing. The plus side here being that, like Newcastle United in the league cup, tickets are separate from the league queuing. Good luck everybody in sorting that one out!  I’m sure the club have a plan.

And finally, we all love a pre-match beer or drowning our sorrows at full time. Griffin Park was famous for having a pub in every corner and, with the move to Lionel Road, I’m sure that spirit will live on in some form. Even if Corona Virus rules mean we can only pop in for a beer if we are having a substantial meal alongside. Landlord – two pints of Guinness, two Amstel, four sets of cutlery and one Scotch egg. Hmm. 

Still, at least we can turn up. In theory. But where do you go? The Griffin? The Express? The Brook? The Nelson? Strand on the Green or one of those on Kew Bridge? We all have our favourites but which is the best? There’s only one way to find out. Fiigh…. No, Brentford Pub Top Trumps.

Lockdown fires the imagination again

Yes, they’re back. You may recall the concept from the earlier effort over the summer where an incredible £150 was raised for the Community Sports Trust with our Supporter Special pack. Now, Lockdown 2 has seen the creative juices flowing and time killed once more. The result, the 30 or so pubs/bars in the vicinity of Lionel Road battling each other in playing card form. 

These are a bona fide pack produced by the Top Trumps people and only a handful exist. If you ‘d like to get your hands on the first pack produced then I’ve put them up online, here. They’re just meant as a bit of fun so enjoy – and thank you for looking.

Nick Bruzon

With the terrace talk about Terrace Talk, it’s another point in awful conditions.

23 Feb

Another game unbeaten. Another game that Brentford fans may feel we should have won but, in the end, will be happy to have taken a point against a Blackburn Rovers team with their own promotion aspirations. A 2-2 draw played out in gale force conditions, alongside Fulham’s Friday night draw and a 0-0 for Nottingham Forest means we stay fourth. Leeds United won – fair play to them – as that once colossal gap to second place is still a very catchable six points. With the Bees next up before the teams directly above us play again (we’ve a visit to Luton Town on Tuesday before Fulham host Swansea and Leeds travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday), the chance to apply further immediate pressure lies very much in our own hands.

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It’s up there, somewhere. Conditions were tough at gusty Griffin Park.

It was an absolute corker of a Griffin Park. Despite Blackburn playing with that howling wind at their backs in the first half, Brentford were the ones applying the early pressure. Right up until the exact moment that Rovers’ goalkeeper Christian Walton played a long, long ball up pitch and as it caught the breeze, Ethan Pinnock lost it in the air. There was Adam Armstrong to drift it over David Raya with a perfectly placed lob. The ball seemed to float over him in almost slow-motion with nothing the Spaniard, or anybody watching, could do to stop it hitting the back of the net.

Noooooooooooooooooo. 0-1 and Blackburn most definitely not reading the script. With the wind now behind the visitors and very much taken out of our sails, the rest of the first-half meandered way into nothingness. I’m struggling to recall much more in terms of incident. Still, there was always the second period to come…..

Urghh. 0-2 Rovers. With less than an hour gone, referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot after Raya won the ball but continued his movement into somebody. Gut feeling at the time was that it was soft but legitimate. We’ve all seen them given etc. That man Armstrong made no mistake and Blackburn were home. The play-offs beckoning.

Except, they weren’t. Just minutes later Ollie Watkins had halved the deficit with an absolute howitzer of a shot. This time it was Dalsgaard who used the conditions to our advantage as his own pass through the eye of the storm was perfectly judged by the free scoring front man. Playing the offside trap to perfection, he brought it down and then leathered one from distance that swerved into the top corner and sent the home fans wild. My word, what a strike. It was as much about the timing, control and preparation as it was the finish. Hats off, Ollie. 

The crowd buoyant and Brentford inspired, we kicked on. Shandon Baptise and Mads Roerslev having come on from the bench both impressed. Should Mathias Jensen still be missing for the Luton game, I can only imagine it will be the new signing from Oxford who starts that one rather than Emiliano Marcondes. Yet it was Roerslev who was the real revelation down the right, as the Brentford player machine looks like it has spat out another winner from the B-team.

Boom. Felled in the box (apparently – move along, nothing to see here) it presented the opportunity for Benrahma to level things. There was no mistake from the spot and with 20 minutes left, there was only one team in it. 

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Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Brentford pushed, poked, and tried. Benrahma’s legs a blur and Mbeumo coming close to making it another afternoon of the BMW doing their thing. At the other end David Raya keeping Arsmtrong at bay with a quite wonderful save after Dalsgaard’s back pass had dropped woefully short. It was the only realistic chance that Blackburn had between the equaliser and full time. How crucial could it prove? 

Alas, it wasn’t to be for either team. Promotion hopes hit with the lightest of pauses rather than being derailed or ground made. For either team. With West Bromwich Albion also winning, and so themselves now four points clear of Leeds United, anybody hoping for ‘automatic’ is fighting out for one place. I can’t see the Baggies surrendering another double point lead having once more found their form. Albeit their visit to Griffin Park next month could be interesting…..  

Instead, it looks like a straight shoot out between Brentford, Fulham, Leeds United, Preston and Nottingham Forest for second place. Statistically, Leeds have to be favourites. They’re the ones currently occupying that slot and with the lead over third place. Yet pressure does strong things and one thing’s for sure, nobody is going to give up on the chase. With Brentford missing Mathias Jensen, Pontus Jansson and Sergi Canos we’ve still got strength in depth to return. 

So, it wasn’t to be this time. The race for the Premier League is still alive and kicking. The players doing their thing, even at full time, where they and Thomas once more put the family feel into our wonderful club.

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Advice being given at full time….

We’ve a trip to Luton Town up next and then it’s off to Cardiff City on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast as the excitement shows no sign of abating.

And finally, the (possible) return of the ever popular Terrace Talk video feature. Could it happen? It was a subject that was touched upon in yesterday’s programme feature and has already been picked up on by former host Sean Ridley.

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As seen in the programme….

Going by yesterday’s Twitter talk, Sean’s willing to give it a go for one last hurrah – assuming, of course, that ‘official’ are.

Just tweet @BrentfordFC and use the hashtag #TerraceTalk if you’d like to see it back just once more. Hey, the club may even agree.  And if you need a reminder of the feature’s brilliance, then here you go (from the 2016/17 visit of Nottingham Forest)…..

 

Nick Bruzon

Can our own Winston Churchill inspire further success ?

22 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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KITT v KARR. The BMW v Blackburn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nick Bruzon

The huge prize awaiting if……

27 Nov

Oh my. What an incentive going in to this evening’s game at Blackburn Rovers. If Brentford win and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat at home to Bristol City, The Bees will end the night in the play-off places. The maths are that simple even if the application of these facts may not be. Football has a funny habit of kicking you in the nuts when you least expect it. When your hope is highest. Yet, at the same time, it would be churlish to ignore the position we now find ourselves in after Swansea City were held at Huddersfield last night.

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The top of the table via the BBC – basic maths.

For Thomas Frank, naming the team would seem an easy decision. Ethan Pinnock more than impressed against Reading on Saturday and so, with Julian Jeanvier still suspended, his retaining his place is an absolute no-brainer. Thankfully, a decision that can be justified on merit rather than card induced necessity. In the midfield, Christian Nørgaard is available once more and could be in with more of a chance at getting his place back. However, Mathias Jensen won’t give up his place without a fight and the cross he supplied to set up Ollie Watkins’ winner last time out was sublime. Inch perfect delivery that was begging to be put away. Watkins duly obliged.

Could Josh Dasilva be moved to accommodate Nørgaard or is, as is more likely, it simply a case of having to bide his time on the bench with Thomas selecting an unchanged starting XI? I can’t see beyond the same team as started against Reading beginning this one tonight. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and would have more chance of calling the lottery numbers than getting something as vital as a team selection correct.

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Jensen supplied a delicious cross for the goal on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers are no pushover, that’s for sure. A Bradley Dack brace and a shot from Stewart Downing earned them all the points in a 3-2 fight back against basement boys Barnsley on Saturday. No doubt they will be looking to build on this and climb further up the table from their current 17th. But Brentford are going to be confident. We have every right to be so, too. The last three away games have seen us pick up 9 points and scoring 3 goals each time out with fine wins at Loftus Road, Swansea and then Wigan. We haven’t won four successive games on the road since back in 2011 and so there is yet another incentive to really go for it tonight. That is, if getting Ollie Watkins to the the top of the Championship goal scorer charts or ourselves into the top six wasn’t enough already.

This one is going to be tough. Win, lose or draw it makes no real difference in the long term. At least, at this juncture. It would be quite magnificent to get the points and hope West Bromwich Albion can do us the proverbial favour. With Leeds United grabbing a late winner at Reading last night, the Baggies currently find themselves in second place. One place off the top of the table. If The Bees have the motivation to go for it then surely Slavan Bilic’s team have just as much themselves? The battle of Romaine Sawyers v Daniel Bentley could be a fascinating one although, for obvious reasons, not one I’ll be following.

Instead, it’ll be the red-button and Sky Sports smudge vision in our house. A mid-week trip to Lancashire is one that is diametrically opposed to the budget, holiday allocation at work and domestic green cards. The efforts and ability of our travelling fans to get to games like this one never ceases to amaze me. Would that being there was an option. Tonight will be very much a case of mind over body and true faith in our boys.

Brentford have been superb in the last two months. The victory over Reading very much a case of grinding one out against stubborn opposition who had set out to strangle us. Something we have often struggled with yet this time around kept going for the entire 90 minutes. However we play and whatever Blackburn do, the opportunity and ability are there. 

I can’t wait for this one. Enioy.

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We’ve had some fine away performances this season.

Nick Bruzon  

Luis on fire. Pontus on the move? Matthew one step ahead? New ‘keeper lost in the gossip.

7 Jul

Ok. So this bonkers. All the talk on Saturday has been of Brentford signing Pontus Jansson from Leeds United . A story which has emanated from BBC reporter Adam Pope, amongst others, rather than the usual clickbait grabbing rumour mongers that dominate the headlines at this time of year in a desperate quest for ‘hits’. It is one which has blown the signing of goalkeeper David Raya from Blackburn Rovers somewhat out of the water. Whilst we don’t normally do those stories on these pages – Ezri Konsa to Wolves and Neal Maupay to anywhere after missing the Wimbledon win (AFC ; not Andy Murray) being the latest offerings from the scaremongers – could there be any truth in this one? Or is it another case of better transfer news being found in a packet of cereal?

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The normal sort of transfer stories

The head says absolutely no chance. Jansson, whilst being a class act, is a player so far removed from the Brentford transfer model that any talk of Leeds United letting him come to Griffin Park is one that would need to be met with a huge pinch of salt. And an even bigger dollop of cash. £10m was the offer that Leeds reportedly turned down last season for the Swedish International. Everybody knows we buy low (relatively) and sell high, once the price is met. We’ve already picked up a new centre back in Ethan Pinnock whilst at 28, Jansson would be heading towards the upper end of the squad in terms of age range. I can’t imagine he’s earning peanuts, either.

Yet, Phil Hay (formerly of the YEP) is saying that the player is leaving. BBC Pope is quoting Brentford. Everybody else is jumping on the back of it with relationships between Leeds and Jansson said to have broken down following the Aston Villa ‘open goal’ incident. A player who clearly wears his heart on his sleeve, he was the only one to try and stop the equaliser ordered by Marcelo Bielsa following the Kodjia affair and Bamford Incident  (both of which were on pitch matters rather than prog-rock bands favoured by Billy Reeves).

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Touring soon – The Bamford Incident

Then there was his equaliser at Elland Road agasint the Bees, back in October. Despite his late strike earning a point for Leeds, after Neal Maupay’s penalty (awarded for the foul on Ollie Watkins). Instead of celebration, his interview with Sky Sports was somewhat direct:

Jansson: “It feels sh*t to be fair.”

Sky: “Mind your language please.” 

Jansson: “No, no, no, I don’t care man.”       

Fair enough. And another reason to question the accuracy. The right side of dressing room passion? Or disruptive influence that would upset the harmonious applecart that Thomas Frank is currently pushing. Take your pick. I like the view adopted by fellow supporter and kit nerd, Luis Adriano on Twitter yesterday.

 It’s not for me to say but the story is of huge, huge interest for two reasons. IF by any chance this one turns out to be true it would be a huge statement of intent from Matthew Benham. That Brentford really are going to go for it in our final season at Griffin Park. After Championship consolidation, we are really going to make a push for the Premier League. 

Likewise, that he has revamped his model to now factor in established marquee players. It’s just not something that we’ve really done before. Players join from League One, from France and Spain. From Denmark. From clubs we’ve not really heard of. That’s not to say that the likes of Jota, Benrahma, Barbet, Maupay and Colin – amongst others – haven’t more than proven their worth. They’re all class. They’re also players that we didn’t really know existed before Matthew brought them to Griffin Park. Pontus Jansson is the complete opposite. And, as we said at the top end, so far off our sale that it deserves no credence. 

Yet, equally, as we also said on these pages just last week, “One thing we continue to do is surprise with our transfer policy – both in and out.” Could Matthew be keeping one step ahead of his rivals, yet again, by bucking the trend he has made oh so clear? Or is it just smoke and mirrors?

Ultimately, I have no idea. I honestly can’t see this one happening but I’d love to be proven wrong. If nothing else, it has got us all talking. David Raya’s signing from Blackburn has barely touched the sides – lost in a sea of Leeds gossip.

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We have a new man between the sheets

Likewise,  Neal Maupay has recovered from the injury (hmm) that saw him and Said miss Friday’s 3-0 win at Wimbledon. There he was stepping off the plane at Munich airport ahead of our pre-season training camp in Austria. 

This, something we were all very much pleased to see and subtle as a ton of bricks from ‘official’, but especially given another earlier tweet from the aforementioned Mr. Adriano. Forget Will Grigg (presumably, ‘that song’ is no longer a thing), Luis was very much on fire when he summed up what we’ve all been thinking with this one ……

And I can’t top that. So I’ll simply sign off by kindly asking you once more to please download the e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device (which you can do, here, with all proceeds go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Now we can all leave each other to enjoy the next few days*. Regardless of what happens off pitch.

*Please note. I reserve the right to bother you all once more should anything happen.

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Nick Bruzon