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Keep smiling. These pictures might help. My favourite images of 2019/20.

29 Mar

God I miss football at the moment. Given just what on earth is going on in the wider world then one needs to have some perspective yet, at the same time, it shouldn’t be a crime to yearn for that which does so much to unite us. Plays such a huge part in our lives. I want to be celebrating another win for Brentford. Seeing if we could do the double over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Keep on avenging the jinx of Middlesbrough. Moaning about our desperate performances on the road – oh, what I’d give for another trip to Luton Town right now (words I never thought would be uttered again after this season’s debacle in the sleet). I’d love to be laughing about Leeds United falling apart. Again. Sadly, something that stopped just as the Coronavirus curse began to take a stronger grip across the globe. Whilst it was always meant in good humour (my cousin’s husband is as staunch a fan as they come), this was just one of the many aspects that make the Championship what it is. Or, for now, was.   

Being able to see Griffin Park from our house makes things even harder. So close yet so far. The gates are locked for good reason but that doesn’t make it any easier. What I would also say is that community morale seems quite wonderful. People still looking out for one another whilst Social Media continues to deliver a lot more positivity these days.

One such tweet yesterday sent me down the internet wormhole of football imagery. Namely, the words:

If you are a football person please join the challenge of posting a football photo. Just one picture, no description. Please copy the text in your status, post a picture and look at some great memories/pictures. 

The plus point to all this was that it brought some quite incredible pictures to the fore. Without using a traditional hashtag it really was a quite random collection of images. And also a lot of American ‘football’ (catch ball rather than soccer). Oh well, you can’t have everything and it certainly helped while away the first Saturday of lockdown. No bad thing either as, at least, there’s been the distraction of work and my half-arsed attempts at being a teacher to eat up Monday-Fridays. Those guys deserve a medal, that’s for sure 🙂

Now it was a full 48 hours in each other’s company and only a short exercise break / trip to the shops for essential supplies permitted. To be fair, H and Mrs. B were both in great form considering all that was going on. Yours truly shared a previously untold story from the personal vaults regarding the Bees, Stoke City and our ill-fated journey back from the 2002 play-off final. It’s here if you would like to read it and, if nothing else, may help pass few minutes whilst also explaining why some of you may have had a somewhat elongated journey home that night.

But that aforementioned tweet inspired me to have a look back through my own photo gallery. Specifically for this season although given what we’ve got ahead of us, expect a broader retrospective in the coming days. I thought it might be nice to share my favourite images of the campaign so far. Some of which regular readers may have seen before ; others which are new. This is not for any egotistical reasons – they aren’t great pictures, taken mainly on a mobile phone or small digital camera. Mark Fuller, I ain’t.

No, it’s more to remember the good times. To see the smiles of the Brentford family and even our visitors at times – Stuart Dallas, still got it. To know that we will have all of this again. Hopefully even at Griffin Park.

Enjoy….. 

The first two are why we are all currently sitting at home. Like the rest of the UK, Griffin Park is on lockdown. Here’s the New Road and then the Ealing Road view. 

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New Road – the gates are firmly closed

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Our iconic floodlights – currently behind closed doors

And with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s look back at what’s gone before. In no particular order  – perhaps with the exception of the last few.

I’ll apologise in advance for having a few of HB in there. It it’s any consolation, he’s probably missing football more than me. The last few seasons have really seen it click and he just loves everything Brentford. Especially Sam Saunders. Many are the mid-game chats we have about free kicks and dead balls, despite the main man no longer being on the playing staff. Such is his reputation, SS7 still features prominently in our match day routine. 

Daddy? Is THIS Saunders territory?” asks HB just about every game. Nice work, Sam.

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Did we all get the memo about hands on hips?

Next up, Bryan Mbeumo. What a signing. What a demonstration, as if further were needed, of the Brentford recruitment model.

Another high class vehicle to roll off the Griffin Park production line. Almost some sort of BMW, if you will. This was an early season demonstration of his potential when Hull City were the visitors for a 1-1 draw.

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This Mbeumo chap looks like he might have a turn of pace to him

Ah, Stuart Dallas. He can do no wrong in my book. ‘That’ goal against Fulham has earned him a place in Griffin Park folklore.  As was proven when Leeds united were the visitors for our attempt to overtake them and hit the top two on February 11th (how far away does that seem now?).

During one injury break, Stuart not only stopped for a chat but even posed for a photo. Can’t imagine the same scenario playing our with Martin Rowlands. The close proximity of the stands to the pitch allowing for this moment. 

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Work that smile, Stuart

It’s not all sunshine. Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County came to Griffin Park at the end of August for our first home win of the campaign. A 3-1 win in torrential conditions saw the early season dissenters silenced.

To think there were people calling for Thomas Frank’s head prior to this…!!!

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Raining goals at Griffin Park

Ahh, Thomas Frank. If ever a manager epitomised the family bond that we have at Brentford it is Thomas. Passionate, friendly, embracing and always willing to talk to supporters he suns up just what we are about as a club more than anyone I’ve seen before.

The post match laps of appreciation are punctuated by selfies and smiles. Thomas pulling his trademark ‘Fonzie’, usually accompanied by that broad grin of his. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

There are quite a few in here of Saïd. I don’t know if it’s in the sub-conscious or just something that sums up his approach to football. Like Thomas, he can’t do enough to endear himself to the fans – on and off pitch.

This one was against Millwall. That incredible turnaround from 0-2 down on 84 minutes  to ending the game as 3-2 winners. again, the proximity of our seats t the touchline helping capture the moment that third goal went in. I think it was the third, anyway… 

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

This next one was very early in the season. I forget who but when Harry asked Saïd for a selfie, our man went one better.

Goose bumps right now just looking at the one and thinking about how amazing he was with HB. Thank you, Saïd.

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Said – ever popular with the fans

Yet if one player was Harry’s hero then it can only be Sergi. Shirts have Canos 7 on the back and even though injured, HB is still all ‘Sergi this. Sergi that‘.

So imagine when even though injured, he still took a half-stroll around the Braemar Road forecourt. What a man. 

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This following comes from the last time we were all together at Griffin Park. The 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month. The man in charge was our one time nemesis, Keith Stroud. 

Whilst we’ve certainly had our moments, it would be fear to say that he has always taken it on the chin and more than ‘plays along’ – at least, before kick off. This one was taken from his pre-match ‘Mr.Motivator’ style warm up routine (thankfully, without the lycra) where Keith did Dallas i.e. posed for a picture.

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nothing says mascots like Buzz and Buzzette. Nothing says Christmas like Buzz and Buzzette in their Santa hats.

No other words needed.

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Another entry form the big book of Benrahama. QPR away.

The penalty kick awarded just after our hosts had levelled things up saw big balls of steel from the Algerian goal machine. It was about as precision a kick as one could have hoped for. What a finish. What a celebration .

This is the view from the away stand upper. Limbs (whenever they are) followed immediately after.

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Back of the net…!!!

Saïd again. Sorry. Middlesbrough (home) in February. Another 3-2 win for The Bees. Another opportunity to share that unique bond between fans and players in the post match celebrations.

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

David Raya has been one of the stars of the season. Brentford laying any goalkeeping wobbles to rest as we have gone on to become the tightest defence in the division.

This one was taken during the good part of the visit to Luton Town. The part before kick-off.

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David Raya – almost grabbed the equaliser (not a typo).

FA Cup action. Leicester City were the visitors and the winners. But we gave it our very best. Here, Brentford attack once more in an action packed second half. The New Road terrace packed. 

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At least we can concentrate on the league

Birmingham City away. A game played out in horrific conditions but one where we were all there. Including one of Brentford’s most recognisable supporters – by sound as much as sight – Simon ‘Harry Potter’ Hoyle.

Like Jumper Man, Push up Brentford Man, The Phantom trumper of Ealing Road et al, Simon is iconic. 

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

Another one from the Millwall game. Got to love that Bryan celebration. Got to love that team spirit.

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Happier times

Bus stop in Hounslow. We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.

Like pub team, tinpot, little old Brentford etc etc, this mantra has quickly been turned from jeer into catchphrase. And we love it .

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

When words collide. This one a look of mutual respect and confusion, taken from the Kurupt FM takeover of Griffin Park back in October.

Whilst the game was against Bristol City, all the talk was about our very special guests.

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Add your own punchline

This season was always going to be different when we signed Pontus Jansson from Leeds United over the summer. It was a transfer that was completely against our model. For one thing, we’d actually heard of him!

What a player. What an inspiration. What passion and confidence. What a way to bind the defence and drive the Bees forward. The difference between a team with Pontus and without him, clear for all to see.

Here’s hoping he gets the chance to finish the promotion dream with Brentford.

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

And if you needed to see what it means to him then here’s one of my very favourites. Oh, that bond between the players. That ecstasy from the supporters. That mutual celebration of, another, goal. Pontus busting every sinew in celebration.

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Ok – into the top five. They probably sum up the Brentford experience for me this season. Forgive the personal nature. Forgive the self-indulgence given the family connection. But, then again, we are a family, and nowhere moreso than in this first one.

It’s not a well taken picture in terms of framing or capturing H. But this is him and Alex Austin celebrating against Middlesbrough. The look says it all.

We love Alex and his family. The advice offered to the officials makes the game even more fun than it already is. The bond that has grown up across the gangway that divides our seats part of what makes Griffin Park so special to us. All that will change at Lionel Road but I’m desperate for us to all to be given the chance for one last game (at the very least) to celebrate this current chapter coming to a close.

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Number 4. HB enjoying football. At this moment all I can see is tremendous joy and its making me very sad. Purely because of everything that is happening outside the front door. It’s also making me feel amazingly proud and even happier to see a look on his face that he’s not had for a few weeks now.

Brentford did this. THANK YOU.

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At number three, another goal celebration. Another from Middlesbrough and one that is a bit blurry.

But it’s the expression from Ollie to the crowd as the players all pile on. The fans reaching back to him. The mutual adoration. A moment that nothing could get in the way of. One of my personal favourite Griffin Park moments this season.

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Number two, Mr. Brentford. Peter Gilham. If ever you could hear a photo, then here it is.

Brrrrreenttttt-forrrddddddddddddd.

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We talked about Thomas earlier. About his approach to the game and to supporters.

THIS is why we love him. Listening to Harry giving him advice. Talking back to him as though there it was the most important thing in his world right then. Delaying his own return to the dressing rooms to celebrate with the players – supporters come first.

It’s just how we do things in Brentford.

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Nick Bruzon

Never order a kit-kat on a train. What really happened at the play-off final.

28 Mar

There’s no football on. I’m bored. Very bored. So who wants to hear a story? A story about what really happened after the 2002 play-off final. That was the one Brentford lost. 2-0 to Stoke City in Cardiff, if it helps narrow things down a little bit. Although at least this time we had the consolation of not losing in the semi-finals or at Wembley. A story about how your journey home from that one may have been impacted, indirectly, by yours truly. The wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time and for which I can only apologise. Even if not my fault.

It was the game I attended with my brother Mark, my Stoke supporting flat mate Paul and HB’s now godfather, Carl (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) . A game where a Mr. Jack Segal (his hasn’t) of First Great Western trains tried to make an already awful day even worse on the way home.

The day, like all of them that had gone before and would come since, started with such great promise. The sight of Carl, sitting on a bench outside Twickenham station, holding a bottle of Baileys at 6am was one to put an early smile on the face abut the day ahead.

Surely, THIS time, Brentford would lay the play-off jinx to bed. There was no way we could cock up another one. For starters, it wasn’t taking place at the W place in North London. That hovel where footballing dreams go to die. At least, if you support the Bees. On what was shaping up to be a beautiful day, we had even been blessed with the ‘lucky’ dressing room. There was just no way we’d mess this one up. Championship, here we come.

Oh dear. There’s a reason I don’t bet on football. 12 hours later, our footballing dreams had died. Again. Different city. Same outcome. Brentford 0 Stoke City 2 the final score. The Bees putting in a no-show of a performance on an afternoon that the wheels came off our quite wonderful team. Steve Coppell’s squad falling apart on the pitch and then splintered into a million pieces almost immediately afterwards.

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Different city. Same outcome

Yet the pain of defeat was nothing compared to what came next. Tired, emotional and drained – the stuffing knocked out of us – it was time for the journey back to Paddington. The train arrived. Seats were taken. It left on time. Wow! At least the day would have a decent ending. Homeward bound, what could possibly go wrong from here? Well, quite a lot as it happens.

Whilst the early morning Baileys was a giddy high that, just for the record, had not been replicated over the course of the day let’s not pretend either that drinks had not been consumed. And whilst I am assuming that we were all fit to drive cars, say the alphabet backwards and pass breathalyser tests, discretion was deemed the better part of valour at this juncture. As such, a trip to the buffet carriage was undertaken with the sole intention of being to acquire four coffees and four kit-kats.

For reasons unknown, the kit-kats have always seemed an integral part to proceedings and what came next. There’s no specific reason but on the odd occasion that events have been re-told in private, that detail has remained constant. Close to twenty years on, other facts may have been lost to time, faded or even just been altered to suit the telling. Not deliberately, but as my good friend Bucko used to say “Never ruin a good story with the facts.” I’m not saying this is necessarily one which fits into that category, or that there has been any conscious manipulation of events, but the multi-fingered chocolate-covered wafers have always been a favourite so need to stay in.

Through the coaches we swayed. Purely due to the rocking motion of the train. The buffet car ahead of us. The sound of singing supporters coming through into the preceding carriage. Brentford and Stoke fans, mixed together and sounding in genuinely good spirits. Nothing moronic. Nothing stupid. Just good humour as supporters drank and partied together. Something more incredible given the defeat we had recently endured. Perhaps that side of things was more symptomatic with an ongoing acceptance that this is what probably would always have happened regardless of omens and good feeling.  After all, we’d just been in a play-off match and, to coin a phrase, it’s Brentford. Innit?  

In we went. Paul and I, that is. Carl and my brother had remained behind in the carriage. The bonhomie we’d presumed to be in place was indeed confirmed. Fans of both clubs intermingled and very much enjoying all that the First Great Western bar had to offer. It was a heartwarming sight and moreso given the reputation of travelling football fans.

The buffet car itself may have been a relic from the 70s but the attitude of the supporters was anything but. As we sped through the Welsh countryside at plenty over 100mph it should have been a picture postcard advert for travelling to and from a game by train. Were it not for the simple fact that the door was hanging wide open. Wide. Open.  Nothing but a distance of about two feet separating us from the high speed blur of trees and bridges on the other side of the open gap. The wind blowing in and everybody either oblivious or simply choosing to ignore it – the taste of High Speed Fosters too delicious to surrender for something as trivial as certain death should anyone have lost their footing and lurched towards the exposed doorframe.

By all rights we should have turned tail and fled back through the vestibule. Perhaps pulling the emergency cord as we went. But nobody else had and I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to rain on this parade. The person deemed responsible for turning the party atmosphere into one of angst. 

Instead, we stepped forward towards the  safety of the narrow passageway alongside the serving hatch, bypassing the deathtrap to our right. Those kit-kats weren’t going to buy themselves and, besides, we could always ask the chap dispensing the coffees if he’d happened to notice that his carriage was now exposed to the elements? And then, worlds collided.

Four coffees and four kit-kats, please”. As that phrase was uttered, enter stage left the guard. Jack Segal. He had a name badge announcing the fact. He may aswell have announced himself with the line, “‘Ello ‘ello ‘ello. What’s going on ‘ere then?” And as it slowly dawned on him, the man presumably responsible for the health and safety of all on the train, that neither could be assured he barked, “Buffet’s closed”. Then reached for the emergency alarm.

The caterer didn’t know what to do. With the train slowing to a halt, we asked if service was possible? Granted, in retrospect it was unlikely to be a well received request but, you know, just because the train had decelerated didn’t mean that serving a hot drink was impossible. Alas, it was. 

“Buffet’s. Closed” repeated Segal. Each word screeched with the sort of protracted delivery reserved for naught schoolboys from a particularly apoplectic headmaster determined to make a point amidst the mayhem unfurling around him.

He shouted again. Face growing an ever darker shade of Fergie red as everyone ignored him and continued the protracted negotiations for caffeine and chocolate.

Buffet’s. Closed” he screamed once more. The man behind the counter this time pulling the shutters down. It was a less a slam and more a meandering slide but with our hands on the counter top, it was a game of Russian roulette – albeit one utilising fingers and an industrial grill rather than a high velocity bullet and a brain. Yet, with the fear of an irate Segal now firmly instilled, there was no stopping this manoeuvre from playing out to a bone crunching conclusion. Not that we really though this would happen until experiencing the taste of metal on knuckle.

Oww. That really hurt. What did you did that for ?” or words to that effect were directed towards the train staff, although primarily Segal. There was no apology. Anything but. Instead, with our fellow fans having deserted the scene and the train now stopped, the fickle finger of Jack pointed from the door to us and then back again. He put two and two together, came up with five and made it quite clear that this near death experience was nothing to do with a faulty train but down to us. And that trouble was waiting.

Back we went to our seats. No coffee. No kit-kats. The door had been closed and the train limped towards Newport where everybody was kicked off to await a replacement service. Except for Paul and I. We were told to await the Transport Police where we could… help them with their enquiries. A phrase delivered with all the menace of a camp pantomime villain sporting a cape and waxed moustache . Only a Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaa! required at the end for a full house.

Which is what then happened. The police rather than the theatrical laugh. We were met by Her Majesty’s finest who, despite protesting our innocence, were given a very simple choice. Either disembark, come to the stationmaster’s office to give some more formal ‘assistance’. Or be arrested. Either way, we were going with them.

Put like that, it was an easy enough decision. As our fellow passengers waited on the platform for a rail replacement to be dragged out of God knows where, we began undergoing the process of interrogation into our involvement in the alleged train door opening which, it transpired, is what Segal had formally accused us of.

What? This was madness. Again and again we went over our version of events. Nothing changed. The questions kept coming. By all rights we probably should have had some sort of legal representation there but it didn’t even dawn on us to ask. Besides, we’d done nothing wrong.

That didn’t seem to matter. Segal’s accusation keeping us trapped in Newport as the man himself had since boarded the replacement service that was heading towards London with the rest of our fellow fans. 

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Trapped in Newport?

Well boys. That’s the last train to London tonight gone” said one of the officers. He didn’t go so far as to add “so now your fu*%ed” although I’m fairly certain he thought it. I did, that’s for sure. Locked in a stalemate this was going nowhere fast. The police continued, “You know how much this is going to cost? The entire network has been knocked out. We’ve had to pull a spare train out of mothballs and delay just about every other service going through here. A f*%king fortune is how much”. This time he did swear . Quite profusely.

Then, and I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred any earlier, somebody had the bright idea to call up Segal on the replacement train. We were oblivious to this part of proceedings until one of the station staff came forward to where we were still assisting and uttered those sweet, sweet words: “Stoke City have been eliminated for fielding an illegible player. You’ve been promoted.

Well, not quite but the joy was much the same. “We’ve spoken to him now. He’s admitted he didn’t, actually, see it happen and can’t say that it was these two.

Thanks a bunch, Jack. Mainly because it wasn’t us two. That was a rant for another day though. He continued, “Really sorry lads. We all know him here. He’s a right ‘toys out the pram’ type. So you’ve got two choices – we’ll put you up in hotel and get you home tomorrow or we’ll just pay for a taxi down to your final destination now”.     

If ever you needed the quintessential no brainer then here it was. A late night in a Newport Travel Lodge and a Sunday chugger / replacement bus home or back to our beds within a couple of hours. Hmmm. Let me think about that for about no seconds.

A taxi was duly summoned and took us all the way back through the dead of night to Twickenham. The meter reading £159 as we pulled up outside the station although, for reasons of almost Segal-esque anal behaviour, the driver wouldn’t take us the extra 500 yards to our flat above the snooker hall. Seriously? After driving for three hours, you couldn’t manage two more minutes? Still, it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

And then I remembered Carl, my brother and the rest of the Brentford faithful. Shit, they’d probably be worried. No worries. Out came the Nokia 3310 and a call was placed. I’d probably wake him up but, you know, he’d want to know we were safe rather than facing a prison sentence.

You’d think. But no. Anything but. He was not pleased to hear from me and not because he’d been roused from his slumbers….

You’re home? Already? Bastards. We’re stuck in Reading! I’ve had Carl sucking up to the guard all the way back and now we’ve missed the last connection back because the train was so delayed.”

I made my excuses and left. All of a sudden, losing a play-off final didn’t seem so bad.

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Happier times with Carl and Paul

Nick Bruzon  

Enjoy the unexpected silence in your favourite shirt. Or watch Roger.

27 Mar

Hurrah. Life is back to normal. In the loosest sense.  Brentford, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United et al are still waiting to resume battle at the top end of the Championship. Liverpool have had their seemingly unstoppable charge to the Premier League title put firmly on hold. Football fans are having to get their hit from watching the Leyton Orient promoted 128 team knock out tournament on FIFA 20, UltimateQuaranTeam Cup. Yet this weekend is going to be as close to the regular season as we are going to get in quite a while. It’s International break. We wouldn’t have been playing anyway. Instead, tonight we get the chance to not watch England v Italy ; tomorrow it would have been Gibraltar v Norway (at U-21 level).

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There’s none of this tonight and tomorrow

I have to be honest, I’m finding this tough from a sporting perspective. The build up to the weekend always reached a crescendo on a Friday, with anticipation of what was to come reaching peak excitement. Now there is nothing although, as noted, I can take small consolation in the fact that it wouldn’t have happened tomorrow anyway. Instead, we’d be cursing about the horror of the alleged England supporters band. 

We’ve said it before. We’ve tried to tone it down in recent seasons. But, I’m sorry, its time to unload. If anything , this CoronaVirus curse is making us realise just how much we take for granted in life. How much there is to enjoy. When this is all over, and it will be, I want to enjoy every minute of life. To embrace International friendlies as the gift that they are rather than the faux-substitute for ‘real football that they have so often been.

We’ve used this analogy before but they’ve always felt very much like a Timothy Dalton ‘Bond film’. They’re great fun but they’re just no Roger Moore effort and always seem to lack a certain bite. The rest of the crew and supporting cast may be the same, the action and the sound are identical but, ultimately, without the one-liners and raised eyebrow of Roger it all seems to be missing an indefinable something. Rather than the effortless cool of quaffing a Martini in a safari suit they are more a case of Bond nervously sipping a de-caf latte whilst waiting for his contact to arrive. And you can forget any cameo role from Victor Tourjansky  – the best we’ll get is a brief run out from the likes of Joey Barton, Michael Ball or Steven Caulker.

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There’s always an excuse for the Tourjansky montage

Ahh, Victor. We digrees. And, again, somebody who has been mentioned many times but is always worth a doff of the hat. Or, should that be , a raise of the glass? Very much an unsung hero of mine, he appeared alongside Roger three times pulling off his signature move: specifically,  that of looking bewilderedly at his drink as though inebriation could be the only explanation for the amazing feat he had just seen 007 pull off. 

A brief moment on screen and then he’d be gone until the next film. Victor performed this routine in the trio of movies  that ran from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ through ‘Moonraker’ and then culminating in  ‘For Your Eyes Only’.

Whilst the man himself was missing for Octopussy, his ‘joke’ had been retained although ‘Palace guard’ doesn’t perform the legendary double take with anywhere near the same panache or style. If anything, an International friendly of a performance within the meat of big match Roger.

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Palace Guard – the Dalton to Victor’s Roger

Yet even though International friendlies will be greeted with infinitely more enthusiasm in future, there’ll still be no excuse for THAT. BAND. It’s great we’ll be spared them tonight and one can only hope this is something the continues – although not for any public health reasons. 

Honestly, who needs their moribund parping and jingoistic greatest hits? Who actually enjoys their flaccid and off-key nasal drone? Show me any supporter who, honestly, thinks a game is enhanced by their unwanted presence? Who truly believes that any England match is helped by hearing the theme tunes from ‘The Great Escape’ or ‘The Italian Job’ repeated ad-nauseam,  but not quite as you remember them?

What we need right now is a flat version of the National anthem or 7 nation army”. Said nobody ever.

When the Mexican Wave or Robbie Williams singing ‘Let me Entertain You’ (which you can find on: Now that’s what I call Stadium music, also featuring: ‘We Are The Champions’) have the moral high ground in the low brow sporting tedium stakes then there’s something seriously wrong.  

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That. Band. Banned

Given the choice of being gaffer-taped to a chair and subjected to them or Mrs. Brown’s Boys, I honestly think I’d have to side with Brendan O’Carroll performing his toe-curlingly unfunny Irish mammy/man in a cardigan routine. But enough about my private life.

When this is all done. Let’s really enjoy every minute of every football match. Even the cruddy friendlies. Let’s never hear, or speak of, that band again. Until then, why not stick on some 007 this weekend? Who doesn’t need a bit of Roger right now?

In the mean time, today is Friday. I’m going to make it Footballshirt Friday and use the whole ‘Work From Home’ thing to wear my favourite kit to work. It’ll probably just be me but why not join in? Why not post a picture? Why not get behind your team online and just use it as an excuse to talk football.?

Just because there wouldn’t have been any league action today, let’s not stop that for celebrating our teams. Let’s do it… #FootballshirtFriday

Now I’ve just got to choose one. 

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Which Brentford shirt to go for today?

Nick Bruzon

Missing football? Go ‘Business on the top, party on the bottom’.

26 Mar

Urghh. Coronavirus and Covid 19. Brutal words to rank alongside: Mrs Browns Boys, Simply Red, Rail Replacement Bus Service and Team GB (It’s Great Britain and Northern Ireland) in delivering a sickening punch to the gut every time they are mentioned. The cessation of football being the least of our immediate concerns at present yet a huge impact for many. The morale boost of watching Brentford denied to us for an indefinite time period as we are all confined to quarters. 2000 fans having to get that live action ‘hit’ from watching Lewis Frampton representing the Bees in the #UltimateQuaranTeam Cup. Yet there are a couple of other ways to keep your team in mind – one which yours truly will be undertaking and one thanks to Charlton Athletic fan and Absolute Radio breakfast show DJ Dave Berry . And its all down to the fact that so many of us are now having to work from home.

First up, Dave.  With video chat currently one of the ways we are all communicating, why not combine professionalism with support for your team ? Namely via an idea suggested by his own breakfast show team this week : Business on the top, party on the bottom. 

Put simply, keep the upper (visible) part of your attire as professional as possible. Yet below the desk, why not slip into something more sporting, more comfortable, more Hummel or Umbro? Why not wear a pair of football shorts off camera ?

By all accounts, Sir Trevor McDonald was a huge fan of the shirt/shorts combo when presenting the News at Ten. I’m not sure if this has ever been proven but it is a wonderful bit of imagery for the mind’s eye. Regardless, and much to Mrs. Bruzon’s chagrin, I did sip into the 92/93 ‘away’ shorts yesterday. Just to try it out.

Fashion and comfort were very much the winners. Good taste, perhaps, going out of the window. Yet the beauty being that nobody else knew. Until now. Like yours truly, Dave has also gone for the Hummel, albeit a more modern pair of Charlton Athletic shorts – as shared on Twitter.

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Why not get involved? And share them. Come on, we could all do with a laugh. And showing the support for our team. #Businessonthetoppartyonthebottom. Or something.

Perhaps the more discreet way of doing this is just to wear your favourite colours. Don’t hide them away under whatever you are using as a makeshift office table (for me, a 6 years old’s school desk in the spare room) . Why not wear your shirt for all to see? Why not do a Football shirt Friday ? 

We’re all on video chat with colleagues so, whilst keeping it professional (if the boss is reading) how about wearing your favourite colours. Rather than chat about Corona in the small talk part, let’s chat about our teams. Let’s share them on Twitter. Even though our teams aren’t playing at present, let’s get the back out there. Here’s an easier hashtag: #FootballshirtFriday   

No idea which one to go for but that’s a problem for tomorrow morning. For once, a nice problem. I’ve done the shorts – they weren’t as good on me as they will be on others (as you can see) . 

The shirt thing may be different though. Nothing says style like CHAD. Like the black and silver. Like brown/orange. I’ll be sure to share a picture of the workplace attire – it would be great to see yours too. Come on, let’s get involved. 

The one piece of football news that has emerged overnight was another victory for Lewis Frampton in the FIFA 20 #UltimateQuaranteam Cup organised by Leyton Orient. A 3-1 victory over Finn Harps means he is now through to the last 32 where he’ll face the winners of Thursday night’s clash between Blackburn Rovers and Forest Green. Well played Lewis. Bring on the third round. Or the round of 32 as we are contractually obliged to call these things .

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Well played Lewis

For now, there’s not much else to say. Get your favourite shirt on tomorrow and share a picture. It would be amazing t see what our fan favourites are.

Likewise, why not wear your shorts today? It looks like it might be a sunny day so there’s no excuse.

Besides, they can’t look any worse than mine…

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Nick Bruzon

Will Lewis celebrate like he’s won The #UltimateQuaranTeamCup ?

25 Mar

Unusual times (must. avoid. use of unprecedented) call for unusual measures. Football is off the agenda for now with no end in sight. The Euros and the Olympics have both been put back by a year and unless people listen to the lockdown messages, one can only see things on the health front getting worse for the foreseeable. Those are the facts of life at the moment. Yet it doesn’t mean we can’t get our Brentford fix. Even if it is against less traditional opponents such as St. Mirren, Finn Harps and QPR. And it’s all thanks to Leyton Orient who are doing their bit to keep football going with their online video game tournament – The #UltimateQuaranTeamCup.

Whilst appreciating we’re a few days late to this party on these pages (well, the weekend trip to the hospital has been a bit of a distraction), it is something that has proven to be compellingly addictive. E-sports are the next best thing at the moment and with supporter Lewis Frampton representing Brentford in the 128 team knockout competition  – played out on FIFA 20 for the PS4 – the Bees are already through to the second round.

An epic opening fixture against St. Mirren went to replay after replay before the Bees finally progressed with a 6-2 victory. I was glued to this one  – amongst two thousand fans watching the opening round unfold – and we’ll now play League of Ireland side Finn Harps in the round of 64 (happy, FIFA? ) tonight. I believe kick off is at 7pm, on ‘Twitch’ (whatever that is) but the streaming does work fine and can be accessed through Twitter. 

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I presume the club, who have fully thrown their weight behind this one, will also have a link. They’ve conducted press conferences with Lewis, run a match report whilst even Peter Gilham got involved last night as Lewis prepared to play some ‘friendly’ games against the team from Shepherds Bush . If such a fixture can ever be described as ‘friendly’.

Good to see some things never change for Peter 

Fair play to Leyton Orient who have organised and co-ordinated the tournament. ASwell as already raising £55,000 on their JustGiving page it is providing some very welcome and much needed relief at the moment. Lewis is doing Brentford proud and I can’t wait for the next game. The EFL may be on indefinite hold (although at least we know it will be played out – at some point) but until then, Lewis is our B,M and W rolled in to one. FIFA 20 our chance to keep football alive – no matter how unorthodox the competition. You can find out more by following the Bees, Leyton Orient or Lewis on Twitter. Likewise, there’s always the hashtag #UltimateQuaranTeamCup.

The reason we’re having to do this is evident to all – the C word. And, for once, not one of the usual suspects. Urghh, Coronavirus. We spoke about the amazing work being undertaken by the NHS last time out following our own (unrelated) trip to the hospital. Harry is in great form now and fully back to his usual self. He even brought back the (unsused) sick bucket he’d been given telling me afterwards that it may come in handy as “It holds a thousand mils of vomit”. Good news indeed.

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I really don’t want to see this filled

Looking at Brentford official this morning, I saw their own NHS related story. Namely, an appeal to help West Middlesex hospital as the ongoing challenge takes hold. The hospital are looking for people to donate to CW+ , the official charity of their NHS Foundation Trust . They’ve set up a  dedicated Rapid Response Fund to support staff and patients and are asking for any help whatsoever to back this. Primarily to assist in the provision of new equipment, new technology and most important of all, giving some extra support to those staff on the frontline .

Things are a tough at the moment. No question. Yet having seen first hand the amazing work being done at West id in the most challenging circumstances, I can’t back this enough. Every penny counts. Please do get behind this if you can. The full story is here or you can jump to their page via this link. Thank you.

It’s not just Brentford doing good deeds. My good friends at Beesotted are doing there own bit to help the Hounslow food banks. They are offering a free copy of the Brentford Cult Bees and Legends book to anybody who is able to help out those who probably need support even more than ever at present by making a donation. Again, the link to their story is here.

Life is strange at the moment. No question. For crying out loud, we’re getting excited by an online game of FIFA. We’ve also missed the chance for Brian Guest to represent Fulham – curses !!

Yet to see how people are looking out for each other, and continue to do so, is immense. With everyone from the NHS to our fans doing their thing to help friends and strangers, it has put a huge smile on my face this morning. As noted the other day, I’ve had some low points over the last couple of weeks. I’m guessing we all have. Keep talking. Keep in contact. Keep looking out for each other. Keep smiling as much as you can.

Until then, it’s simply a case of saying good luck to Lewis. I can’t wait for this one.

See you there, on line…

Nick Bruzon

Thank you NHS. Thank you Sergi. Thank you Jan.

22 Mar

What can you say? Yesterday we should have been watching Brentford play Reading in an out of town car park. The most soul destroying of trips to somewhere that looks, as the crow flies, so close yet in reality is a trip that would test even Bear Grylls. The sort of thing we’d take an almost masochistic pleasure in moaning about yet, right now, I’d give my right arm to be in a position to be upset about having made the shlep to the Madjeski. The realisation of just how much we take for granted is hitting home with all the subtly of Ian Moose at a buffet. Should such a thing still exist. Buffets, I mean. Football is over for the foreseeable. Life is all about staying sane and staying healthy. Thoughts of Griffin Park and the last game with Barnsley nothing more than an optimistic light on the horizon. 

Yet optimism is what we need right now. With the news making for such hard going it would be easy to sink into despondency. I’m not going to pretend I haven’t had low points in the last week or so. I’m sure I can’t be alone and I am sure there will be more to come. With self-isolation becoming more and more prevalent – whether enforced or voluntary – even walking past Griffin Park yesterday morning on an almost clandestine trip to the shop felt like a guilty pleasure.

Moreso given how hard those people on the front line are working to keep things going. Food and drink should be available (as long as people don’t act like dicks in the supermarket) and our NHS staff are busting an absolute gut, despite being in the very forefront of what is impacting us all.

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Griffin Park is understandably on lockdown

The trip back from the shop was punctuated by a call from Mrs. Bruzon. Where was I? Harry had suffered a horrific fall and smacked his head open!!! Blood everywhere and losing consciousness. My heart stopped. Panic set in – and as much because I had to start running to get the last mile back to them. It wasn’t a pretty sight on arrival (but enough about my knackered lungs). Blood everywhere, H looking grey and not even crying. Just slumped lethargically against mummy who was heading off to the hospital.

The short hop to West Mid was not a good one. I have to be honest I’ve not been so scared in a long, long time. Sat in the back with Harry, he was barely coherent. Barely awake. I did my best to keep him talking. Asking silly questions about Brentford. The answers made no sense. Dalsgaard isn’t a centre back. Ollie Watkins has scored more than 16 goals. This was not a good sign. At least he recognised that Sergi Canos is his favourite player.

All I could do was promise that if he kept talking to me and then did everything the doctors and nurses asked, I’d give him the one shirt from my collection he’s had his eye on to go in his bedroom – Jan Zamburek’s Ecoworld blue ‘Farewell Griffin Park’ shirt (don’t ask ; that’s a story for another day).

We reached the hospital in a hurry. Thankfully, people seem to finally be taking the advice to stay indoors seriously and traffic was at a minimum. Scooping him from the back seat, I ran in with H in my arms. Heart pumping – but , again, as much through lack of fitness as panic. Here we go…..

Wow! The NHS staff were amazing. Incredible. Moved so quickly. Got him in, cleaned up, assessed, treated and slowly the colour returned to his cheeks. The shock he had suffered worn off. The huge gouge above his eye now sealed up and sure to leave a proper ‘Action Man’ style scar. With all the carnage going on in the outside world and the incredible pressure / stress they must be under at present, to see how calm and caring they were was nothing short of life affirming. Huge love and huge thanks from me and Mrs B, that’s for sure! 

Harry is now fine. He is home. His composure returned and Zamburek’s shirt is hanging in his room, alongside what I think is Gary Blissett’s 92-93 ‘away’ (again, don’t ask). I’ll say one thing for H, he does have good taste. 

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H now has a new favourite shirt

We’re all sitting around in self-isolation – wondering how to get through the coming weeks but knowing that we will. Knowing that thanks to those wonderful people in the NHS, a personal nightmare has been avoided. Things are likely going to get very tough for while. They’ll be the ones out there looking after us. You only need to look at the news to see how things have played out in other countries. To see how irresponsible some people have still been as recently as Friday night, having ‘one last hurrah for the road’ before pubs shut down.

I don’t want to go all holier than thou because I’m not. But having seen health workers in action first hand, the last thing we need to do is pile any more pressure on them. The last thing we want is them, or anyone, going hungry. Do think before you hit ‘stockpile’ mode or go walkabout. It might not be much fun compared to our usual freedoms (although the alternatives are 10 times worse, to coin a phrase).

If for no other reason that aside from going stir crazy, many of us need to double up as teachers. Cripes!!  If the NHS, supermarket workers and all those others whom we have, let’s be honest, probably taken for complete granted over the years deserve respect than I am sure this will be equally applicable to those who keep the schools running. Me and H have already had our first science class – making bouncy eyeballs (well, he was worried he may need a replacement). 

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It is also a time that is bringing out the best in people. Neighbours are suddenly looking out for each other. Strangers doing good deeds. Streets and communities coming together to try and help each other through these unprecedented times. We have warmth. We have the internet. We have a lot of TV and board-game time coming up. Hopefully we all have food.

But I also know we will get through this. Stop. Think. Look out for your friends. Your neighbours. Each other. Pick up the phone. Send a text message to somebody who might not be expecting it. Let’s stay talking to each other. This is the chance for Social Media to be an amazing power for good rather than the hotbed of vitriol and nastiness it can so often be.

Just reading the words of Sergi Canos yesterday put a huge smile on my face.  There may be no football at present but it’s probably the least of our concerns in the immediate grand scheme. Let’s keep on remembering the good times and look forward to them returning at some point.

Nick Bruzon

There may be no football – but there IS still hope. Come on Sky…

15 Mar

We wrote yesterday about the suspension of football. About the horror of replacing Match of the Day with a repeat (natch) of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. About the potential permutations to deciding League placings after Fulham v Brentford became the first high profile casualty of football being suspended for three weeks. At the very least. Will Liverpool end their long wait for a Premier league title? Might Leeds United finally fall over the line and into the top flight? Could the BBC come to their senses in regards to scheduling?

All that (and more) is here. Do take a look. We’ll absolutely be trying to keep it light on these pages to try and find a way through the gloom. To keep things ticking over until some form of normality may return, whenever that may.

Ordinarily a period of self-isolation would be the perfect time to gorge on football. On cricket, rugby and any other form of live sporting entertainment. Yet the football family is suffering as much as anybody else with all activity on hold and, in all likelihood, going to conclude with somebody feeling dissatisfied. Instead of wall to wall live action to while away the time, the sofa is now being shared with the family. With Kirsty and Phil. Fiona Bruce and her antique chest. With Tom & Jerry, Smurfs and the Great Pottery Throw Down. Urghh (smurfs ; not the family).

Match of the Day and live coverage won’t be on again for a long time. Sky and BT have great gaps in their scheduling to fill and, presumably, the classic match packages and ‘story of the season’ will be on repeat. No bad thing but there is another way. There is a chance to bring back a Phoenix from the Flames (and yes, why not that, too).

Out of adversity comes opportunity. Not my words, but those of Benjamin Franklin. He had a point. Use the time to bring back Dream Team. Please.

It must still exist in a dusty vault. It has no doubt aged terribly but surely that would just add to the charm. We’ve spoken about this many times before and will no doubt do so many times again. Why wouldn’t we? It was magnificent. For all the wrong reasons.

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Dream Team – Fletch is much missed

Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club, Harchester United. Combining real life stadia  – Millwall’s ‘New’ Den played host to the exterior shots in later series – and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Brentford boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

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Ansah

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee, Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

The plots were riddled with more holes than our defence. Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Goalkeeper Jamie Parker holding his team mates at gun point in the changing room. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

It was truly awful yet compellingly addictive. Sadly, the show was axed in 2007 yet many loyal fans still campaign for a return. In the short term, the Coronavirus induced suspension of football may be the perfect opportunity to remind us all how magnificent this was as we look to the future….

One this all settles down, with Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and the new stadium at Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harchester? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ? If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas (kind of) then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

The other subject we touched on yesterday was Pele and Escape To Victory. Any excuse to see this one is always gratefully accepted. Now could be the time to go again. And beyond – there are plenty more football films out there.

If nothing else, like Dream Team, the 2018 film ‘Final Score’ shows the appetite for terrible football drama combined with ‘real life’ remains alive and kicking.  If you haven’t seen it as yet then please do. The Independent described it as “The most preposterous film of the year”. Things are bad when a movie doesn’t even go ‘straight to video’ but instead, ‘straight to sky movies’. Albeit, with a supposedly simultaneous big-screen release.

For those who may not be aware, season 2015/16 saw West Ham leave The Boleyn Ground (as the media insisted on calling a stadium they had only ever previously referred to as Upton Park) in a departure that was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. I think it got the odd mention on Sky Sports over the campaign but don’t quote me on that. The denouement of their protracted exit saw supporters thinking demolition work had started early as a series of explosions ripped through the old ground back in June 2016. Infact, this turned out to be the filming of something I had promptly forgotten about until the aforementioned tweet crossed my social media stream.

Oh, my. Preposterous doesn’t even begin to touch the sides on this one. When it was released, Mrs. Bruzon and myself took the first opportunity to watch this shocker about a terrorist hostage-taking at The Boleyn Ground. A name they must have mentioned about a dozen times in the first half hour, in case anybody was in any doubt. All this happens in secret (don’t ask) and whilst West Ham are taking part in a European Cup semi-final against Russian outfit Dynamo FC. Count the number of things wrong in that last sentence alone. All the while, the hostage takers are searching out Pierce Brosnan, whose East European accent was even dodgier than his beard, whilst Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy attempts to save both the day and the annoying daughter of a former army comrade whose death he feels responsible for.

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Final Score – if Dream Team ever reached the big screen

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager, is a Green Street, a Soccer Dog (and the even weaker sequel, Soccer Dog: European Cup) or The Goal Trilogy. The football film is a veritable minefield of weak acting, poor script and overly laboured cliché.

Aside from Luis Figo doing ‘Just for Men’ (still got it, Figo) the only on screen football to transcend both good and bad is, perhaps, When Saturday Comes. It is a film so loaded with cliché it is fit to burst. Hard drinking park footballer Jimmy  – played by 37 year old Sean Bean  – eventually gets his break for Sheffield United after stuffing up his first trial before taking on Manchester United in an FA Cup semi-final.

It is a film so loaded with inaccuracy (an FA Cup semi at The Blades home ground, in the middle of winter, being just one of many) that you have to wonder just who gave this script the green light. And, of course, it is a film with Emily Lloyd displaying the worst Irish accent this side of Alan Partridge telling TV execs, “There’s more to Oireland, dan dis” .

Yet this underrated classic is so bad it’s brilliant. It goes beyond nonsense and into the realm of unintentional comedy gold. No mean feat for what, on paper, should be a complete car crash of a movie.

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Still, it doesn’t touch the sides of ‘Hot Shot’ .  Pele, again. But this is no Escape To Victory. It’s one I’d never, ever heard of yet now seen, am giving serious consideration to tracking down if the trailer is anything to go by. The 94 second trailer features, amongst other things: temporarily washed up Pay-lay (that’s Pele to you and I), an up and coming hot head,  an 80’s synth pop soundtrack and a training montage.

A training montage ! A. Training. Montage. In a trailer ! How good must this film be that they can afford to offer up this most iconic of sequences in the teaser sequence?

Oh… My… word..

With a script that seems hammier than Joey Barton’s acting, the producers may aswell have just lifted it straight from the bucket marked , “One was a cop who played it straight. The other wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to get results. Yet, somehow, this unlikely pairing could just be the ones to crack the case and save the day ”

So times may be getting tough. We may all end up stuck indoors with nothing but each other for company. Yet some clever scheduling or use of the internet may still provide that much needed hit of sport relief.

Starting with Series One of Dream Team….

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Nick Bruzon

 

Won’t anybody think about Gary?

14 Mar

And so we have now had to bow to the inevitable. It was announced yesterday that all games in the EFL, the Premier League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship along with those in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland, have been postponed in response to the Coronvirus. As expected, Friday evening’s much anticipated game between Fulham and Brentford was the first major casualty of this new directive, albeit Brighton v Arsenal had already gone to P-P as a result of Mikel Arteta’s positive test for the virus.  In theory, the Championship and other league fixtures will resume on April 3rd with the Premier league following the day after. Good luck with that. Good luck deciding if Liverpool will be crowned champions or Leeds United will finally join them with the top flight place they so desperately aspire to.

The BBC have responded to any football related delay as they always do – by replacing Match of the Day with a repeat of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Stop and take that in. Keep stopping. Keep thinking. Mrs.. Browns.. Boys..

Whilst ordinarily the preference would be to avoid the use of choice language, I think I speak for all of us when I ask them to f**k the f**k off with Mrs. F**king Brown. Then f**k off some more. To coin a phrase.

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Despair was the feeling

Haven’t we already suffered enough? Won’t anybody think of Gary Lineker? My word, just why do they do this? Society is on the verge of breakdown. There are riots in the toilet paper aisle and Match of the Day has now been canned. The last thing we need now is more of this tedious claptrap. From all the depths of their historic sporting resources, was there not a classic match or some sort of compilation the BBC could have put together instead of subjecting us to everyone’s favourite Irish ‘mammy’. Stereotype and cliche going neck and neck in the desperate search for laughs.

Look at cricket. There’s a sport that has always been subject to sudden and unexpected cancellation. Broadcasters left with hours of airtime to fill at a moment’s notice. What they don’t do is hit the panic button. Instead we have the highlights. The classic game from days gone by The in-studio panel discussions. Some semblance of attempted normality relative to what we should have been shown.  Not Mrs. Brown.  It’s not hard. It’s not tricky. Sort it out, please. For all our sanity.

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again. What dirt does Brendan O’Carroll have on the Beeb? Why is his cackling creation deemed the ‘go to’ in any scheduling crisis? For crying out loud, if we HAVE to have comedy instead of sport there are thousands of other choices out there. Anything from Blackadder to Absolutely Fabulous (which wasn’t, although still infinitely preferable to Agnes and her cardigan). Cripes, if we’re going for out-dated comedy I’d even take Terry and June over Mrs. Brown.

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Even this would be better

The other obvious casualty of football being cancelled is Talk Sport narcissist, Ian Moose. A broadcaster whose modus-operandi consists of insisting he’d have done better than the on-pitch professionals, taking subsequent selfies with them and gorging on the pre/post match catering is now in serious danger. As much of starving as anything else, given that no football means no half-time buffets laid out for journalists. Think of all those pies that will never be eaten. At least we’ve still got the internet so wishing his good friend happy birthday  – a routine as nauseating as being part of the audience for Mrs Brown’s Boys –  is still possible. For now.

So what happens next? I honestly can’t see any way that games will recommence in three weeks time. We haven’t even got to the official cancelling of mass gatherings that is expected to be announced next week. Italy, who are streets ahead of us at present, aren’t even close to recommencing any form of action. In my opinion, for what its worth, this is the first stage of a broader cancellation. Euro 2020 will inevitably be put back a year. Whether this then leaves capacity to finish domestic campaigns remains to be seem. That’s assuming, of course, that the health situation starts to rectify itself. Boris’s approach of ‘let it all blow over, we’re British’ hardly a reassuring one. 

But I’ll leave that side of things to somebody else. We’re  primarily here to look at the Brentford angle on these pages. If there can be any positives for us I suppose that at least it is the chance for Mathias Jensen, Sergi Canos, Pontus Jansson et al to get back to full fitness. For tired legs in a thin squad to recharge.

Although what that they will be getting back to is THE question. Leagues suspended? Cancelled? Played out in empty stadia? Champions,  promotion and relegation decided by current placing (surely not – that would be the worst of any sporting decision made).  Imagine the uproar if Liverpool were denied their inevitable title? Or if they were handed the crown despite not, technically, having crossed the line.

Think of the irony if Leeds United,  who so often miss out on a place in the top flight by their own falling apart, were actually handed a position on account of the nation collectively choking on their behalf. If nothing else, a lesson learned for Alanis Morissette and her ‘Isn’t it unlucky’, song.  

However this all goes remains to be seen. For now, stay healthy. Take care and look after each other. We’ll keep sticking this nonsense up here as much as possible. It may help kill thirty seconds of tedium as we all move towards virtual house-arrest next week. Possibly.  

And the BBC, if you are reading, if there really are no other sporting highlights then rather than Mrs. Brown how about just sticking on Escape To Victory…

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Nick Bruzon

Could it be a case of advantage Fulham?

12 Mar

This all looks pretty fatal on the football front. Are Brentford and the rest about to be dealt a hammer blow? The confirmed positive test for Coronavirus of Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis had already thrown the Championship, and beyond, into doubt. Whilst large crowds were still able to see Liverpool and Spurs exit the Champions League this week, last night’s  game between Manchester City and Arsenal (who were recently beaten by The Greeks in the Europa league) had already been postponed and the number of games being played behind closed doors is accelerating across Europe. Whilst there is no word as yet given our huge game at Fulham tomorrow (not to mention the visit of West Brom to Griffin Park on Tuesday) could a tipping point be imminent ?

The Nottingham Forest players and staff have all been tested with results coming back negative. Even allowing for that good news, things suddenly feel very close to home. With public gatherings such as St. Patrick’s Day parades and schools being cancelled globally, surely it can only be a matter of time before we follow our friends in Europe and the shutters start to come down? What could that mean for Brentford? 

Forest getting the ‘all clear’ at least means that for now everybody is operating on a ‘level’ playing field. Will it be BAU and a full house for Brentford at Craven Cottage (the three sides of it that are open) on Friday? Will games start to go ahead to the sound of piped crowd noise and empty seats? This, something we witnessed on Tuesday in the Champion’s league game between Valencia and Atalanta. It was a surreal experience although still infinitely better than watching Tottenham capitulate. Not that having that famous Anfield ‘12th man’ helped Liverpool, either.  

The ‘closed doors’ option is not a route that I hope we are forced down. If for no other reason it will give Fulham a huge advantage  – playing in empty stadiums devoid of atmosphere something they are used to week in, week out.

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Could Brentford be faced with similar on Friday? (The 2-2 from a few seasons back)

At worst, players will start to be taken ill at some point and then we have that most terrifying of situations – the EFL forced to make a decision. That, something they struggle with at the best of times, let alone when the situation warrants serious action. Are games forfeited? Put on hold? The season potentially wiped or stopped dead in it’s tracks? Sides forced to put out a starting XI of healthy players, regardless as to whether they come from the heart of the first team squad or the depths of the reserves. These, all options I’ve heard touted and just any one of a number of options that may or may not come in to play at some point.

There are no answers here. Mainly because nobody knows what will happen. Martin Hardy in The Times reports this morning that actions to force all football matches in England to be played behind closed doors could be triggered as early as today. They suggest that there will be additional measures put in place to allow fans to still watch as much as possible over the internet and TV but clearly this will be an ersatz, if necessary, experience. You can read that piece, here.

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That headline from The Times…

I submitted my programme article for Tuesday’s game between The Bees and West Brom earlier. I don’t know if that will even be published or read. I hope it is and not for any egotistical reasons – it’s the usual nonsense with obligatory reference to the godawful Mrs. Browns Boys – but more because it means we are still in a BAU scenario. This may all start to settle soon, now that people are washing their hands (seriously, they weren’t before?) and have ample supplies of both dried pasta and toilet roll. Or things may get messier for the foreseeable (the U.S. now imposing a European travel ban for 30 days). Whatever happens, at best I suspect we’ll see the season run well beyond it’s scheduled finish in an attempt to wrap things up as smoothly as possible.

That’s the sporting side. Underpinning all of this is a very real human cost. People are being taken ill. Nobody wants that, to see cases accelerated or the situation worsening any more. Let’s not forget about those who are dying in all of this. Sport will always very much play second fiddle to a genuine medical crisis. When we hit that point, if not already, remains to be seen. From a sporting perspective, the next few days could very much impact how the rest of our season is going to play out.   

Until then, it’s Fulham on Friday. Our paltry allocation of 1700 fans sure to make themselves heard above the coughing and clappers. Here’s hoping we are still able to go ahead as normal.

Whatever normal is these days.

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Will our fans be allowed in?

Nick Bruzon

Owls become pussycats as Bees run riot.

8 Mar

Now that’s how to return to winning ways. Brentford trashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a game that was every bit as one sided as the scoreline suggests. The Bees climb to fourth, tucked in behind a Fulham side who of course we visit on Friday evening. We’re now five points clear of seventh (effectively six given the quite incredible goal difference of +31) and ten off second placed West Bromwich Albion. With The Baggies next up at Griffin Park and nine games to go, destiny remains very much in our hands.

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Brentford attacked from the off

What an afternoon. It was one of those where another bracketing looked on the cards and could easily have played out. Brentford came out of the traps flying and peppered the Wednesday goal, including one effort from Watkins that flew off the crossbar. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring when a shot was only parried. It fell kindly to him tin the box and there was no mistake with his left foot. Emiliano Marcondes doubled things soon after with an absolute beauty from what must have been a good twenty-five yards. It was a thing of beauty and worth the admission price alone as it flew through the air and into the far corner of the net. Less than twenty minutes gone and two up.

Brentford continued to press and Bryan Mbeumo made it three. He worked an opening and hit a low shot through the box that curled off the base of the post. The Bees in total control. Sheffield so far off the pace that forget about Wednesday, they were still on Monday. It was domination that continued in the second period although the goals took a back seat until late strikes form DaSilva and Fosu gave the scoreline the margin our performance warranted. The Bees had been rampant. The Owls outclassed and outplayed. Wednesday boss Garry Monk would use phrases such as ‘inexcusable’, ‘embarrassed‘ and ‘lost for words’. Thomas Frank would call us ‘scarily good’.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. If you want detail then official or the BBC are you best places. Or the highlights are below.

Goals, goals, goals….

Suffice to say though that this was about as completes a performance as they come. Thomas Frank would talk afterwards about our desire to defend. We were rock solid at the back despite the ongoing absence of Pontus Jansson. Anything that was hit on target, comfortably saved by David Raya.

Marcondes and Dasilva will get the goalscoring headlines but don’t rule out their overall contributions either. Emiliano was named man of the match whilst Josh had one of those games where the ball seemed tied to his foot with a piece of string. Said Benrahma did everything but score but must, instead, be content with a clutch of assists. 

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Taking deserved applause at full time

Next up is the televised game at Fulham on Friday night. With The Cottagers needing a late equaliser at Bristol City, the chance is there to really stick a late season mark on our rivals. Victory in Hammersmith would take us to within a point of third place. The satisfaction of doing them infinitely more preferable though. It won’t be easy. It never is. But it will be fun and I can’t wait. With another midweek break there’s more chance to recharge legs and do the same as we did yesterday.

There’s not much else to say, really.  Referee Keith Stroud had a great game, letting the football flow and keeping himself out of the limelight. It felt comfortable all afternoon and, honestly, never in doubt from the moment the game began.There will no doubt be tougher tests ahead but you can only play who you are up against. Beyond that, simply a case of keeping heads down until Friday night and then we see what happens down the road.

I can’t wait….

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nick Bruzon