Tag Archives: Bliss

Brentford remember and Liverpool celebrate (although not all of us join in).

3 May
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Billy (the fish)

Football, eh? Few could deny that last night’s Champions League semi was nothing short of the comic book capers normally found in the likes of Roy of the Rovers or Billy The Fish (is that still a thing)? Every ‘Liverpool in Europe’ bingo cliché was played out as they edged past Roma by the odd goal in 13 to reach the final where they’ll play Real Madrid. There was angst in our house as that one took place (more to come) but, as ever, we can only start with Brentford.

The Premier League dream may be over for this season at Griffin Park but that’s not to say it hasn’t been a busy last few days At least, on social media where there have been a couple of quite significant Brentford reflated anniversaries remembered by the club. And one that hasn’t.

Whilst Liverpool were doing their thing yesterday, in TW8 it was cause for a different kind of celebration. 26 years since Gary Blissett scored that goal at Peterborough. 26 years since Saint and Greavsie were left with huge amounts of ‘egg on face’ after having to retract their premature crowning of Birmingham City as League Champions. I still smile a that one, even now. 26 years since Robbie from Eastenders appeared on the celebration videos. Nice one, Wellard – a better effort than Cameron Diaz.

What a day for Brentford fans. What a night. What a celebration. What a goal from Bliss. The man. The legend. The match highlights appeared yesterday and still seem so fresh – mainly because I think I must have watched them more times than The Spy Who Loved Me (and that’s saying something) over the ensuing years.

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Almost up there with Peterborough

Our more recent generation of fans have, of course, been spoiled by nothing except good times over the last few years. Good luck to them – they’ve got on board the Brentford express at the right station. Yet, at the same time, to be part of a moment such as this when we were, typically, mid table plodders, was nothing short of wonderful. It really was a special moment to have finally achieved that elevation to a higher division.

These days, playing the likes of Leeds united, Wolves, Aston Villa and Birmingham City is the norm (although maybe not next season if things go to plan on Sunday). Back then, to have the opportunity of doing so was a rare and exciting chance. Whilst we won’t talk about what happened next, let’s not deny that getting there was about as good as it gets. Sheer bliss !

The other anniversary was something that fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant tweeted about. Not surprisingly, given a previous role at Doncaster Rovers. Five years ago it happened.. and not in a good way. 

Something, something, something, penalty. If only the media had mentioned this at the time or showed it since.

I’ve seen that crossbar rattler many, many times since – on each occasion thinking that, this time surely, Marcello Trotta would score. This time, perhaps, Kev would manage to hang on to the ball. Yet what I hadn’t noticed previously was the ‘official’ tweet from Doncaster – a team currently residing in the ‘where are they now’ files.

Talk about low key. Not milking the moment. Thanks for sharing that, Ryan. Genuinely. Fair to say that Brentford have had the last laugh.

Yet with all the talk being about Brentford and Doncaster, it seems that people are missing the bigger picture here. Aswell as being five years since that penalty, it was also five years since that awful appearance on Soccer AM. Awful at least in the sense of the Bees supporters, guests on that day’s programme, failing to put away even one effort in the end of show shoot out. A devastatingly bad score of nil points.

Gibbs shirt on Soccer AM

Soccer AM. Even HB made a first, off screen, appearance

I can say this with a clean conscience. Regular readers of these pages (should such a concept exist) may well be familiar with the fact that yours truly was also one of the participants. That each of my own efforts was preceded by stacking it into fellow fan JJ – he of the goal inducing dodgy bladder (whenever he goes to the ablutions block mid-game, Brentford score). That we managed the lowest score of any club that season. Possibly ever. Unless somebody has managed minus points.

It was awful. Humiliating. Typical. Not even Natalie Sawyer could save us. Yet, thanks to another penalty, the memory of that day has become a more abiding one. One we can now look back on that bit easier. Not much, but a bit. Besides, long term it would be fair to say that everything has worked out ok.

Natalie lines up on Soccer AM

Even Natalie had a go

 

Ok, Liverpool in Europe. First and foremost, congratulations. What a night for the neutral. What a night for the fans in Rome and back home at Anfield. It was captivating viewing as an early, seemingly insurmountable, four goal aggregate lead for the Reds was slowly reeled in until they emerged triumphant by the odd goal in 13. Real Madrid await in a final that is sure to be equally captivating.

But following this one at home, there was all sorts of confusion. And, for once, not Glenn Hoddle on BT Sport.

3-7(agg) proclaimed the score. What??  No!! This must be some sort of typo. Don’t get brackets wrong. Granted, it may have been a bit more awkward but shouldn’t this have read:  3-7(seven) (agg) ?

When Radja Nainggolan scored his late penalty to make it 6-7(agg) (sic) I was close to self-combustion. One more goal for Roma and I wouldn’t have been responsible for my actions.

7(seven) – 7(seven) (agg) would have been a scoreline to rival the infamous Forfar 5 East Fife 4  – something that I believe may be an urban legend, although as somebody much wiser than me once opined, “Never ruin a good story with the facts”.

In the end, it wasn’t to be. Instead, simply a case of wishing Liverpool the best of luck in the final. It promises to be a cracker. And, likewise, leaves a few weeks to update that bingo card.

Liverpool bingo

An update for the final awaits: 1981, Real Madrid, 13

Nick Bruzon

 

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Sheer Bliss for Scott

1 Mar

It’s all about the teams south of the river today. With Brentford due to host Charlton Athletic on Saturday, Peter Gilham has been in touch with several supporter groups in regards to a special tribute in that game. Yesterday, meanwhile, Crystal Palace were the visitors for a development squad game that was noteworthy for the long awaited return of striker Scott Hogan. And we have news of a Brentford legend….

But we can only start with Scott Hogan. Nobody needs any reminding of the 18 months he has had on the sidelines, following the horrendous injury (and subsequent recurrence) suffered against Rotherham United early last season. Yet, finally, after what must have seen an interminable wait for the player, he was back in competitive action as Crystal Palace came to town.

And in a script writer’s dream, it took just 7(seven) minutes for Scott to show the Griffin Park faithful what they’ve been missing out on with the striker putting away the opening goal in a game that would eventually finish 2-2. Lasting an hour, Scott has been full of praise for the club’s medical staff and spoke, at length, on the clubsite afterwards.

Scott Hogan

Scott was clearly chuffed, publishing this picture afterwards

Fans were, rightly , ecstatic. Primarily it was just a general outpouring of good will and good vibes all over social media. Nobody wants to see any player go through what Scott has done and so to see him come out the other side of this in such a positive frame of mind has been truly inspiring.

It’s like a new signing” one New Road observer would later note whilst I saw a comment on facebook to say that the first team would be the ideal place to recover his fitness, adding “He can’t do any worse than the three incumbents currently vying for the position of lowest scoring striker in a season”.

A harsh observation or a fair one? Regardless, let’s not pin all our hopes on one man’s shoulders. The enthusiasm is clearly there but full match fitness will likely take a bit longer to come back. That said, just seeing Scott on the bench is sure to be a huge psychological boost for everbody.

The moment arrives

As for the Charlton game, you may have read about the untimely passing of supporter Dean Langford, who was tragically killed in a road accident last week . Peter Gilham has been in touch with Dean’s father and it has been suggested that maybe a minute’s applause in the 24th minute on Saturday, would be the ideal way to pay our respects to one of our own, no longer with us.

Social Media has been awash with tributes to Dean this week. What better way for supporters to show their own respects than joining in on Saturday.

Finally, Cult heroes. It has long been the topic for debate as to who scoops the ultimate crown. When the BBC ran the survey several years ago, Terry Evans came out on top. Would the winner be any different today?

Well, FourFourTwo magazine have undertaken a club by club poll in their online edition and the results are now in. You can find them here . As for the Bees, those visitors to the Facebook ‘Brentford FC loyal’ page have had an inadvertent hand in helping pick our winner, Gary Blissett.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to represent the club in this one and, whilst my decision would have been Bliss, it was nice to see so many other people with a similar viewpoint when the seemingly innocent question was put out there last month.

Congratulations, Bliss. Scott Hogan couldn’t have a better player to aspire to.

Bliss - with Mat Davis

Bliss – a hero to many. Then and now

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

From ’81 – ’97…and beyond

14 Oct

I was as saddened as everybody associated with Brentford Football Club when I heard the news about Martin Lange yesterday. His passing, at the age of 71, ends one of the strongest associations with a club for who he was synonymous for the majority of the 1980s and 1990s.

Martin Lange - as pictured on the official site yesterday

Martin Lange – as pictured on the official site yesterday

As chairman from 1981-1997, Martin was the man at the helm when my own obsession with Brentford was really growing. Quite simply, I cannot associate one without the other.

Martin’s achievements (which are legion) and his progressive outlook have been well documented and people have, rightly so, been lining up to pay tribute. Gary Blissett, in particular, paints a moving picture on his own facebook page.

The club site is amongst those to give a synopsis of his work in the wider world of football. Campaigns to tackle hooliganism, the proposal of the play offs (I still smile at the irony of these being put forward by the Brentford chairman, given our subsequent record) and even his idea to incorporate squad names and numbers onto players’ shirts.

It was this latter point that had me scratching my head yesterday. I’m sure Martin was the man who, unable to get this pushed through initially, took the next available step and incorporated player names onto their shorts instead. Sure enough, a trawl of the interweb reveals pictorial evidence.

The Holdsworth shorts

The Holdsworth shorts

The team Martin helped put together, containing the likes of Deano and Bliss, which eventually win that epic game at Peterborough back in 1992 is, much like the great man himself, one that will be never be forgotten. RIP Martin Lange.

The other piece of news to catch my attention is one close to my heart and, perhaps, very appropriate today. As somebody who has served on the Bees United board in the past, I’ve seen the role that everyone from Chairman down to supporters can play in our club.

Like BU, BIAS (Brentford Independent Association of Supporters) have proven that fan interaction can play a key part in our club’s future. This Saturday sees their annual AGM and I’d encourage all supporters to attend or, at the very least, read their latest article (written by Gemma Teale) which you can find here. Specifically as this gives supporters who want to get involved a chance to join the BIAS committee aswell as re-electing (or not) the current members.

And for those of you who may be unsure about the prospect of joining a committee, Gemma’s article notes “ I figured it would just be a lot of talking, and minutes and motions and not much else. I’m happy to say I was wrong “.

She goes on to add, “We have quarterly meetings with the club, so get to give Mark Devlin, Kurt Pitman, Chris Wickham and others a really hard time – I mean, have really productive discussions with them. And we make progress, we have influenced the club’s Customer Charter, and we have successfully campaigned for reducing the length of time before a game that advance tickets can be purchased”.

The BIAS AGM takes place at 12pm on Saturday at the Inverness Lodge, Brentford.

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What a result! All to play for with just 8 games left

18 Mar

What a result for Brentford! A 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night, after twice falling behind, underlined a stunning determination to keep on pushing for a promotion that nobody outside of TW8 probably believed possible at the start of the season. With Derby County, Bournemouth and Norwich City all dropping points, the table is still just too tight to call. However, the key fact remains that with just eight games to go, the Bees are in the play off spots and two points off fourth place.

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

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

Could we celebrate like we’ve won the FA Cup (fifth round)?

17 Mar

It’s all to play for on Tuesday night as Brentford have another fine chance to close the gap on the Championship leaders at Blackburn Rovers. With Derby County hosting Middlesbrough something has to give above us whilst Bournemouth and Watford face tricky trips to Wigan Athletic and Cardiff City respectively.

Of course, just as on Saturday other results won’t count for much if we can’t do our thing at Ewood Park but I have a feeling this one will be different. The BBC report that Blackburn have been hit by several injuries following their own weekend exertions whilst, with last night’s other FA cup replay fresh in the mind, can the Rovers team honestly say that prospect of a trip to Wembley won’t be any form of distraction?

Wishful thinking or blind optimism? Probably the former yet, with only nine games to go and the Bees with an excellent chance of promotion, I’m reading every potential positive from every game. Equally, though, it could just be own skewed line of logic and football, association.

Bliss - goals as fine as his moustache

Bliss – goals as fine as his moustache

I can’t hear the words Blackburn Rovers without immediately thinking of Gary Blissett performing his heroics back in 1989. Just as the goal scoring legend’s brace had helped knock his beloved Manchester City out of the tournament in the fourth round at Griffin Park, more was to follow in the next game.

Few gave The Bees a chance as a club issue ‘football special’ train from Ealing Broadway helped take us to a very industrial looking, pre-redevelopment, stadium. It was certainly a ground full of character rather than today’s sterile efforts whilst being escorted through town by the local constabulary hardly helped set the mood as a welcoming one.

Still, nobody was out to win friends with the visiting fans, especially in the late eighties, so it just made what happened next all the sweeter. Two late goals from Bliss, almost carbon copies if I recall correctly (highlights were somewhat thin on the ground back then) sent the Bees into the quarter finals and, to coin a phrase that Tony Gubba would use in the following round, our fans into dreamland.

Video evidence of the 2-0 win at Ewood Park is thin on the ground

 

Listening this evening, I’ll no doubt have a nostalgic thought about that game once more. Yet, equally, there is a chance for one of our own to carve his name into legend. Three points for Brentford will give the promotion push a massive boost and mean that, perhaps, it isn’t just Bliss who we think of when it comes to significant wins at Blackburn.

We’ve already beaten Rovers this season with a fine 3-1 win at Griffin Park. Another one tonight would be a double to rival those of the mustachioed goal machine.

Rovers can worry about the FA Cup. We’ve got a promotion to aim for

Blackburn got four chances to practice their kick off routine back in December

Blackburn got four chances to practice their kick off routine back in December

 

Matthew Benham’s mystery MT overshadowed by the Suarez gnashers

24 Jun

You couldn’t make it up. With the media all set to deliver the fatal blow to England after a dismal World Cup, Luis Suarez has stolen all the headlines with his bite on Giorgio Chiellini. This, as Uruguay knocked Italy out in the same group stage as Roy’s Boys.

Words fail to do justice to the reaction after the Uruguayan committed this most heinous of offences for the third time in his career. Robbie Savage kept repeating the line, “It’s disgraceful, disgraceful” whilst Gary Lineker did his best to remain po-faced and serious when all he wanted to do was let rip.

Meanwhile on BBC 3, Manish (of football League show fame) and his guests attempted to play ‘keepie uppie’ in the studio with a tennis ball. Even Carlos Valderama had a crack in a feature that was about as far away from a mouthful of Italian shoulder blade as you could hope to get.

And if it proved a distraction from England then it has very much been the same with Brentford. Matthew Benham’s late afternoon announcement of an imminent signing (initials: MT), to be revealed tomorrow, has had supporters guessing as to who it could be?

Marcello Trotta? Martin Taylor? Matt Tubbs? Marcos Tébar? Or A.N.Other?

Anyone who has followed Mathew on twitter will recognise his love of a cryptic clue and so this is just as likely to end up being Mr T.

Whoever it is, with Clayton rumoured to be undergoing a medical at Birmingham City at the same time as Suarez was tucking into an Italian, I’m chomping at the bit for any news.

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Who is the mystery MT ???

As you may have also read (I’ve not mentioned it much), I’ve released an e-book. ‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’  the story of Brentford’s season 2013/14  (amongst other things) is now available to download for your kindle / digital device. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, you can get it here.

However, I’m not the only person writing about the Bees. Greville Waterman, who you may know from the fantastic series of ‘Big Brentford book of the….70s/80s/90s’ has started his own blog. I have to say it is a thoroughly good read and you can catch up with all from bfctalk, here.

The other blog site I’ve enjoyed (although seems to have gone a bit quiet in recent months) is: 101 uses for Russell Slade. Set up after being left with a surfeit of the commemorative Beesotted trophies following the Stevenage game, I’m hoping it gets going again over that painful ‘closed season’ period.

And if it helps, here’s my take on the next ‘use’. A Hannibal Lecter style facemask for Luis Suarez .

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Just one of the 101 uses for a Beesotted Russell Slade

England go a bit Tourjansky. And are Brentford changing their tops?

23 Jun

With England limping out of the World Cup, watching any more of it seems a bit of a hollow exercise. The football over the weekend was very exciting (see: Germany, Ghana, Iran, Argentina, USA and Portugal) with even Algeria – South Korea, hardly the most scintillating prospect in advance, getting the blood pumping.

But these thrills are muted by the fact that every potential upset no longer has a knock on that could impact Roy’s Boys.

I’ve used this before but it is the archetypal example of my favourite analogy, a Timothy Dalton ‘Bond film’. The rest of the crew and cast may be the same, the action and the sound are identical but, ultimately, without the one-liners and raised eyebrow of Roger Moore it all seems to be lacking something.

Like Dalton, the World Cup still has a stunning supporting cast and incredible action but with our team of Victor Tourjanskys gone (and do check him out), it is definitely lacking a safari suit clad bite.

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England are reduced to a Tourjansky-esque cameo role on Tuesday

Brentford wise, things are just as downbeat on the surface. No real news coming out of the club, but rumour central in other sources. With Marcello Trotta, allegedly, no longer in the frame for a return, you may also be surprised to read that, “Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill is targeting highly-rated Brentford striker Will Grigg.”

Not my words (I’d have given him the respect of prefacing them with “Northern Ireland International”) but those of the Bristol Post. You can read the full story here but it would leave us rather short in the ‘striker’ position if we were to accept the supposed bid of £300,000….

Moreso given the talk about Clayton Donaldson being a shoe in to join Birmingham City, now his contract has expired.

I remember a similar situation the last time we escaped ‘tier 3’ to join the Championship back in 1992. Then, goal hero Dean Holdsworth was sold off on the cheap to Wimbledon and we were left with Murray Jones in his place. Ultimately, a packet of Murray mints would have done a better job as, despite a sterling effort, the former Grimsby man failed to find his eye for goal and Gary Blissett was left to do the work of two players.

However, if Brentford clear the decks up top (and it is a big IF – these are only cyber rumours at present) then this time I have a feeling things will be different. We’ve been too long looking to escape this division to then go and throw it all away.

Warbs and Frank McParland have a stunning knack for unearthing talent – just look who has come into the club in the last year or two. I’d hate to lose Clayton but, if it was to happen, then I’m confident that they have somebody lined up.

Now, does anybody have Lionel Messi’s phone number?

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

Martin Taylor extends loan – but who are Brentford’s ‘greatest’ signings?

8 Oct

It was announced yesterday afternoon that Martin Taylor has signed for another month on loan for Brentford.

This, in my eyes, is very good news.   A solid centre back who can add some experience to our young team and one who has already proven he has an eye for goal.  However, it got me thinking of whom Brentford’s top ten signings in recent times, loan or otherwise, have been. Not necessarily the best ten players to represent the club (although an ‘all time XI’ feature is coming soon) but just the best bits of transfer activity – whether in terms of price or impact.

So here they are:

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.