Tag Archives: Boxing Day

Will Aston Villa distract Brentford from visit of Leeds United ? Thanks, Sky.

4 Nov

Match day. Brentford host Leeds United in a TV game that sees us with the chance to theoretically move as high as ninth in the table. Subject to the small matter of winning and other results going our way. Yet at a time when we should be looking forward to this prospect or enjoying the result from last night’s game that saw Fulham lose (that’s 3 out of the last 4) at Wolves, instead the words on most supporters lips would seem to be Aston Villa. Or Boxing Day.

Yes, the latest round of TV games have been announced and our game with the Villans on December 26 has been pushed back to a 7.30pm kick. Well thanks, Sky. Don’t do us any favours in allowing an extra 15 minutes afterwards. This, a fixture where Brentford and Aston Villa had already agreed back on June 27th to bring it forward from a 3pm kick to a 2pm start.

The majority of fans are in uproar. One of the most sacred games on the calendar, bumped at the behest of a TV company. There is nothing finer than a Boxing Day lunchtime kick off. Blow out the cobwebs of the previous day, meet up with your friends, take in the match yet still return home in time for ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (although any Roger ‘Bond’ will do), and high tea with the family. And that’s just the home supporters who live locally. Instead, we’ve had this footballing treat snatched away from us.

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Nothing says Boxing Day evening like Roger Moore at his best

The mechanics of Boxing Day travel are bad enough as it is. Let alone leaving Griffin Park at 9.30pm (allowing for any time the referee sees fit to add on for stoppages) to then make your way back into central London for onward travel to Birmingham or beyond. I’ve got friends in my group of close knit fans who live as far a field as the West Country. For them and the Aston Villa supporters it now becomes a logistical nightmare.

Personally I’m lucky in living within a stroll of Griffin Park.Yet even then, plans for a Boxing Day trip with Mrs Bruzon and Harry are now scuppered. It’s past his bedtime and one of us will have to stay at home with him to watch it on TV. Or, out of principal, listen to Mark Burridge . Tickets will need to be returned to the club. I’m sure I’m not alone. Looking around Twitter, there are plenty of fans up in arms about their own plans being ruined and now unable to attend.

Equally, there are some Brentford fans who do welcome the change. It gives a chance to get to the game. To return home from whichever family members they have been with the day before. To them good luck and I’m pleased. However, they would seem to be very much in the minority.

The club haven’t said much on this beyond the formal announcement. Albeit, Chief Executive Mark Devlin has taken time out to note that, short of a health and safety reason, we’ve no choice in this one. His own response to fans on Twitter is that : “Its not about ignoring fans. There is a broadcast contract with which we have to comply. Incidentally, the broadcast fee is £100k…. You need to provide safety reasons for saying no. We cant simply say ‘you can change that game but not that one – it doesnt work that way.”.

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Roy wins Twitter for Friday

I don’t know the terms of the Sky contract. I’d doubt many of us do. But after infuriating supporters last season when our New Years Eve game against Norwich City was shifted to an evening kick off, the broadcaster would seem to have done it again. And if the club really have their hands tied, as would seem to be the case from Mark’s comments, then it is most definitely one downside of playing at this level.

It’s great he takes the time to respond to supporters. Yet many still have questions and are seeking clarity from the club. Do the Bees and Villa really have no choice? I’d love to see Brentford come out and make some sort of formal announcement. In defence of those supporters impacted. To clarify how this works and that it was purely down to the contract. There’s no need to slag off our TV overlords but simply to state a few facts about the reasoning and the choices, if any, behind the decision. Like it or not, many fans are frustrated. If we’ve had our arm twisted then at least save yourselves the social media shitstorm that is kicking off.

Supporters Association BIAS has also jumped straight in with a strong statement, which you can read in full here. Rallying against the broadcaster, it “Deplores Sky’s casual treatment of fans who yet again face difficult journeys at an important time of year for many, for the sake of television fixtures.

The irony of Sky being present for the visit of Leeds United this afternoon has not been lost. Who knows what chants the terrace wags will come up with? What signs might be held up in view of the TV cameras? If only we had job lot of comedy red cards lying around.

As for today’s game, well it presents a fantastic opportunity for Dean Smith and his team. After setting the early pace, Leeds United have fallen away. Yet such was their start they still lie just outside the play-off zone and will no doubt be looking to make a swift return to the promotion pack.

Brentford, on the other hand, are one of the form teams in the country. Unbeaten in eight, the wins have been stacking up and goals have been flying in for fun. 16 points out of the last 24 have seen us push ahead of Fulham, within touching distance of QPR and moving up the table. Wednesday night’s win up at ‘ten times better’ Birmingham City was probably the sweetest of the season.

The mood is buoyant and I only hope supporters can focus on that today. I’m gutted about Aston Villa and the casual disdain Sky seem to have for the people who really count – the supporters.  I’ve already had it in the ear at home from Mrs. B. Even worse, my son said the cruellest words last night – Daddy. I don’t like football.

Hopefully that will change. I’m sure a lot quicker than any decision made by Sky.

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Nick Bruzon

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With Brentford in a Field of Dreams (sorry) here’s one turkey from Christmas past before Cardiff on Boxing Day.

24 Dec

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all that. Brentford are preparing to host Cardiff City (for whom Sol Bamba – a terrace songsmith’s dream if there was one – will be missing) whilst Rangers fans will be crying into their sprouts at the prospect of no Jota under the tree. As for Matthew Benham, will he be the beneficiary of a £15million gift from West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa or even Reading in the New Year sales? This, of course, being the current suggested rate for a Scott Hogan.

Reading have probably got more chance of picking up Hulk Hogan than Scott. Why would he need to even consider going there? Besides, with the Royals already baulking at the prospect of having to pay £9million (as has been reported in the Birmingham Mail), adding another 6 to that is going to be well beyond their particular ball park.

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There’s more chance of Hulk than Scott

That is if we even sell in the forthcoming window. Eventually, of course, it will happen. Nobody is that naive whilst the simple mathematics of ‘one club players’ so rarely being a thing these days make it inevitable at some point. Yet in the short term, the tantalising prospect of seeing him and a returning Jota on the same pitch is one I’m still holding out hope for in the second half of this season.

Still, all that is to come. We have the festive games against Cardiff and Norwich City to before that. Scott will surely be the first name on the team sheet (unless he has a sick relative), closely followed by Tom Field. The left back “delighted” at having just signed a contract extension that will see him at Griffin Park until 2020.

For all that Scott is doing it at one end, few could deny the wonderful start that Tom has had to his own Brentford career. From a home debut agasint Fulham where his call up was so unexpected that even supporters were asking ‘Who?‘ when they saw his name on the team sheet, to a recent run in the side as Dean has switched to a three centre back system supported by Tom and Maxime Colin. It is no coincidence that we are yet to concede a goal in the League whilst Tom has been on the pitch.

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Tom in a field of dreams. A pun so bad we made it twice

Prior to all of that we have Christmas day ahead of us. Preparations here are remarkably under control with all shopping done (for once). Already I’m dreading that Columbo moment around 3pm when Mrs Bruzon asks for “ Just one more thing…..” from a by then heaving, and empty shelved, supermarket. So until that happens, here’s one we’ve run before but probably deserves another airing.

It is a story that, if being honest, I had completely forgotten about until an article in The Times a few years ago from none other than Mark Clemmit.

Mark, of course, is better known as Clem, the ever popular roving reporter for BT Sport and formerly of the BBC Football League Show. There, his own performance was the subject of a season long analysis in 2014/15 as to whether there is any support for many supporters’ long held belief that he ‘jinxes’ whichever team he follows. Specifically, that the team covered by the man with the mic that week would, at best, pick up a point. Indeed, by season end Clem teams had only tasted victory 7(seven) times out of 30

But we digress. The jinx factor aside, it is fair to say that Clem remains an endearing and well-respected pundit. Aswell as his TV work he has also been a prolific writer over the years and it was for the aforementioned paper that he chose to talk about Brentford a few years back. Or, specifically, what we tried at Christmas 1983

To me, 1983 doesn’t seem that long ago. Knight Rider, Blackadder and the A-Team graced our TV screens whilst big hits at the cinema included Return of the Jedi and Octopussy. On the football pitch, Stan Bowles was strutting his stuff for The Bees whilst Bob Booker was halfway through his first spell at Griffin Park.

That said, given as Bob made his final appearance for us in 1993 that doesn’t really narrow it down, such was the three-decade spanning length of his Brentford career. Even Roger Moore only lasted as Bond for 12 years although for all that I love his time in the role, even I have to step back in slight disbelief at the image, from the official movie poster, of 007 casually standing on the tail of a speeding aeroplane as he tosses a bad guy to his doom.

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Roger’s wing walking (top left) a highlight of 1983

But the point being that, to me at least, 1983 still seems very vivid in the mind’s eye. As such, I was intrigued by the gem that Clem had unearthed, pertaining to Brentford’s Christmas fixture list. The ever-progressive club had, at one point, looked to revive an old festive tradition and arrange our game with Wimbledon for 11am on December 25th.

It seems madness now but not as crazy as the reasoning, given out by the Press Officer at the time. It was an attempt to get back to, and I quote, “The old idea of men going to football whilst ladies stayed at home to cook the turkey”.

Seriously? Was this just Clem having a joke at the expense of Brentford fans? Seemingly not. A quick trawl of the interweb reveals this gem elsewhere whilst, more importantly, it is directly referenced in the excellent “100 years of Brentford” book.

After protests from both sets of fans the game was rearranged for Christmas Eve and we promptly lost 3-4 in front of 6,689 fans.

Their numbers, presumably, bolstered by women who had been unchained from their cookers.

Here’s hoping for a better result on Monday against Cardiff City. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

The ultimate sucker punch; the ultimate indignity. Leeds sting Bees with a short corner

18 Dec

After 7 (seven) attempts, Leeds United finally recorded a win over Brentford in modern times as Kyle Bartley’s 89th minute header saw the home side shade a 1-0 win over the Bees at Elland Road. No complaints here. We’ve always said there’s only one stat that counts – balls in the back of the net. Leeds aced that statistical column yet how different it might have all been.

Scott Hogan had a ‘goal’ ruled out for an apparent offside that Dean Smith was left hugely frustrated about at full time. His post match interviews saw him telling the BBC that, “It wasn’t justified. I’ve seen the replays and he was marginally onside” whilst his chat with Channel 5 included the observation that “we’ve had a goal chalked off when it was marginally onside”. Interestingly, the BBC match report claim this one was ‘rightly’ ruled out yet the views that are perhaps most telling are those of former Leeds player Michael Gray.

Sitting on the Channel Five punditry sofa (what a far cry for those early days of an awkward looking studio audience milling around the set), and with the benefit of video replay, his own take on it was : “Looking across the six yard line here, he’s actually onside Scott Hogan when he put’s the ball in the back of the net… the ball does go back a little bit and it should have actually stood.

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Channel 5 footage supported their view – Scott was onside

Yes, Channel Five. Whilst this page normally opts for the Sky clip one has to say that Five’s video package is definitely the winner this weekend. Besides, when the alternate 9pm TV  option last night was Michael McIntyre with both David Brent and Sting (a man whose recent Twitter trending made me fear 2016 had lost another rock legend but, alas, it was worse than that – he was on national TV) then it was a no-brainer to opt for George Riley and co.

At least, until Sunday lunchtime when we get the Burridge free Beesplayer take on things featuring Chris Wickham, Mark Chapman and Sean Ridley. Pity those three doing their best to light up this one – a game that another internet source I stumbled across mid-afternoon described as “anything but a Christmas Cracker”.

Official highlights now available, too

Then again, it was only going to be the proverbial,’gritty game’. Tell me otherwise but it seems one of few chances with those that were taken amounting to nothing even close. At least, until first Hogan and then Bartley had their respective moments.

“Chances were at a premium” said Dean afterwards. This was only ever going to be the case going into this game and sure enough it transpired as Leeds moved to within a couple of points of third place with their late, late winner.

Tom Field started, again. He was mysteriously substituted, again. A shame for so many reasons, not the least of which being there just didn’t seem to be any need to do it. I have to be honest, Dean’s substitution philosophy does seem somewhat random at times. Perhaps the youngster just hasn’t got the legs but, equally, against Burton he came on for Yoann Barbet . Perhaps the Frenchman is still seen as first choice and isn’t fully fit.

Either way, the goal came from a ball dropped amongst our plethora of centre backs, who then parted like the Red Sea. More tellingly it was one delivered from a short corner. A short corner for crying out loud. This most maligned of set pieces works about as frequently as a Brentford win in the play offs yet here it was, reaping reward at the denouement of what should have been at least a point for the visitors. It is a routine that even the Beesplayer team had noted Leeds were favouring and if they could spot this, surely our fleet of coaches would have done the same and looked to shut it down?

Go figure?

Anyway, we’ve lost and all the analysis in the world won’t change a thing. I’d called home win, away win, draw from these three games prior to Burton. But for a rogue corner / offside flag Christmas would have come early in our house. Instead, it’s gruel for lunch next week as an investment made for research purposes only came unstuck at the death.

On the positive side, we’ve got a home clash on Boxing Day to look forward to. Always a favourite, I’ve no doubt the Bees will get back to winning ways on the 26th.

See you then  – preferably with Fields (of goals), and no Sting.

dunemoviefacts

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

Can Sam make it three-in-a-row on Boxing Day?

26 Dec

Boxing Day and Sam Saunders. Two things that seem inextricably linked and for good reason. With Brighton visiting Griffin Park today, the last two seasons have seen this fixture, and Sam in particular, provide some contrasting memories. Games against Ipswich Town (2014) and Swindon Town (2013) have seen the popular wing wizard shine (and that’s not the tan) as each encounter saw the Bees with a chance to top the league.

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Sam – back in black and better than ever

And today we have a similar scenario. Whilst most of the nation are rolled out on their sofas recovering from the excesses of the 25th , 12,000 of us will be in Griffin Park to see if Brentford can beat Brighton and, should other results fall correctly, reach the play off zone. At present, of course, we’re only two points off sixth place.

That latter requirement, ‘other results’, would also require the somewhat distasteful prospect of a QPR victory – over Ipswich Town at Portman Road. I can’t imagine many in this part of West London could, in all conscience, cheer for that. At least not at this stage of the season.

So instead, let’s just focus on ourselves. Dean Smith has picked up two wins from two at Griffin Park since taking over as Head Coach. More importantly, the manner of victory – with 6 goals scored (and 10 in his 4 games in charge) is what has impressed. That said, even he was talking about cutting things out at the other end. And no moreso will this be a requirement than against a side smarting from their first defeat of the season on Saturday.

Middlesbrough, of course, secured top spot in the Championship after hitting 3 past the Seagulls without reply. And with Boro’ having a 14 point lead over Brentford, the top of the table will, for once, something we can’t aspire to – at least on Boxing Day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for some more Saunders’ magic.

The same fixture last year saw us lose 4-2 to Ipswich Town, conceding after 19 just seconds and going 3 down at HT before it finished 4-2 to the visitors. The only silver lining was the late substitute’s appearance from Sam.

He made it 3-1 within five minutes of coming off the bench and halved the deficit at the end, practically stealing the ball off the toes of the dithering Nick Proschwitz to stab it home from close range as the ref signalled injury time.

But it was Boxing Day 2013  against Swindon that saw a moment of quality from Sam that still has us smiling. The infamous ‘fall over’ routine – below

Did Sam mean it? Swindon Town 2013

To score a free kick of that quality was impressive enough but having gone flat of his face beforehand, even moreso.

Too much fake tan making the boots slippery? Old man’s legs giving up? (he remains the Methuselah of the squad – although not to look at, I am told, or see run around – what energy). Might it just have been an elaborate training ground routine, along the likes of the Gary Blissett ‘fake hissy fit’ (season 92/93) in an attempt to confuse the opposition?

As I wrote at the time, “Well, if the later, then give that man an Oscar. It was a display of football acting that’s not been seen since Luis Figo’s ‘Just for Men’ advert. And if an accident, then a massive pat on the back for composing himself at a time that the Bees were under a spot of pressure”.

I did talk to Sam at the end of the season and know the answer although don’t want to kill the magic of the mystery by revealing it. For all I know, it may well by common knowledge, anyway.

Instead, I’ve got my fingers crossed for three years in a row. Sam Saunders scoring on Boxing Day is one seasonal tradition us Brentford fans could definitely embrace.

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Figo – unsurpassed acting skills

Nick Bruzon

With these midfielders you are really spoiling us

21 Mar

Saturday really does have the feel of a pivotal point in the Championship campaign. With only eight games to go, six of the top nine face each other whilst Brentford have a home fixture against relegation bound Millwall. The likes of Bournemouth v Middlesbrough or Watford v Ipswich Town are sure to have Manish & co purring tonight but, for me, it is all about what happens at Griffin Park.

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.

Dougie  - recently signed his contract extension

Dougie – recently signed his contract extension

Could we have another Burridgegasm against Millwall ?

20 Mar

Back on November 9th Brentford defied some Biblical weather, a brief comeback for the home team and that awful ‘goal music’ to beat Millwall 3-2 at their ‘New’ Den. None other than former QPR defender Danny Shittu proved to be the surprise hero as, under pressure from Harlee Dean, he gifted the Bees a third, and decisive, goal when he slotted it past his own ‘keeper rather than hoofing it into the stand.

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.

A night of surprise (and horror) as an exciting weekend awaits

22 Jan

And just when the top of the Championship table couldn’t get any tighter, it did after Brighton and Hove Albion beat Ipswich Town 3-2 at the Amex last night. Brighton who, despite our victory, ran Brentford close on Saturday did the Bees a massive favour. It is one that means another win at the weekend, when we visit Norwich City, will take us to within a point of the second and third placed teams.

To be quite honest, I’d forgotten all about that game as a night of channel surfing in our house (briefly) saw the horror of Mrs. Brown’s Boys winning ‘Best Comedy’ at the National Television Awards before I was able to switch to the football.

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.

Jay Tabb : I’ve been waiting for this game such a long time

23 Dec

Brentford entertain Ipswich Town on Boxing Day, with both teams knowing that victory will take them to the top of the Championship table. However, for many of us older heads there will be as much significance attached to the game with the return of former Bees hero, Jay Tabb. Now playing for Ipswich after six seasons in TW8, it will be the first time Jay has set foot on the Griffin Park pitch in a competitive game since leaving in 2006 following the play off defeat by Swansea City.

The Last Word was fortunate enough to catch up with Jay on Monday evening to get his thoughts on (amongst other things) the campaign so far, the form of both teams and of course what Friday’s game means to a player who spent his formative years in this part of West London .

Before we get onto Brentford, what about Ipswich Town? It has been an absolutely stunning start to the season for yourselves. They must be exciting times at Portman Road? Definitely. And I imagine it’s pretty much the same as Brentford, really. It’s a very tight league at the top with only a few points separating the top six. We’ve had a good start and our manager’s done a great job.

When he took over we were at the bottom of the league but it just goes to show what happens when you get the ability at the club from the top right down to the bottom. That’s what we’ve done in the last couple of years.

We had a good season last year and just missed out on the play offs. This year it’s just going better at the moment but as I say, its so tight at the top and Christmas is a busy period. Anything can happen and we’ve just got to make sure we pick up as many good results as possible to keep it going.

You’ve mentioned the manager. What do you put the strong start down to? Is it him and being able to build up over a couple of seasons? The first five games we played ok but kind of lost the platform. We didn’t play too well against Norwich in the derby match but then had a very good draw away at Derby. That kind of kicked us on a bit and we had a few good results.

You get in a good routine and a good rhythm and confidence starts to flow. We’re a very organised team with a good squad. We’ve got a couple of superstars but not loads. We’re a hard working bunch of guys who get the job done and do what the manager tells us.

Very much like Brentford in a way. No out and out superstars or household names but you’ve almost snuck up the blindside when people were talking about the likes of Norwich City and Fulham at the start of the season.  I think that’s the story of the top six. Everybody was expecting Derby to do well but then you’ve got Bournemouth, ourselves, Brentford and Middlesbrough. So we’ve kind of crept along under the radar but I think that’s the way we like to do it and the way the manager likes to do it aswell. He’s not interested in all the publicity. It’s just about getting the results.

Brentford and Ipswich Town have taken most people by surprise

Brentford and Ipswich Town have taken most people by surprise

And you are starting to get a good run in the team now. It must be very satisfying for you as an individual? Definitely. At the start of the season I wasn’t too sure how much of a part I was going to play in the team but I kept myself fit and I’m quite reliable. The manger knows that he can put me in and I’ll do a job, which is what happened.

I found myself starting the first few games of the season, then I was out a bit, came back in and at the moment I’m playing quite well. Every time somebody gets injured or suspended in our team, somebody else comes in and does a good job so I’m sure the gaffer is delighted about that. At the moment I’ve got the jersey and I’m playing but I know that I’ve got to do really well in the next game to keep it.

As for that goal against ‘Boro at the weekend… What skill to get above two or three men, especially (and forgive me) given your stature. All about the technique but is a Tabby header something of a rarity? It was probably the best header I’ve scored. I remember scoring a nice one for Brentford against Wycombe when the fans walked to the game but I haven’t scored loads with my head. It was just really good timing with a great ball in from Ted Bishop.

I just timed my jump well so that, as I went up, it didn’t really let the defenders jump. I got above them and it was a really nice feeling to score. I haven’t done it since the start of last season.

When you see the ball hit the back of the net it’s such a great feeling for that minute after. It’s such a buzz and I’d almost forgotten what that felt like.

The Ipswich Town twitter feed captures the aftermath of Jay's goal

The Ipswich Town twitter feed captures the aftermath of Jay’s goal

What do you think has been Ipswich’s strongest performance of the season? I think Saturday has to be up there because Middlesbrough are a very, very strong side. They’ve been on a great run but I think the first half was the key.

We got into a 2-0 lead and scoring the goal right on half time was massive. In the second half they came out and had a real go at us. It was backs to the wall stuff and they had a lot of possession, so I’d say that was up there with one of our best performances.

Given where you are in the table at the moment, what is the target for the end of the season or is it simply that old cliché of “taking each game as it comes”? Yeah. It’s a boring answer but it really is. Obviously all the players and each team wants automatic promotion because the play offs are horrible but it’s just so tight. Last year, everybody knew at Christmas that Leicester were probably going to go on and get promoted but at the moment it is so hard to tell because the top six are tightly packed.

Obviously, at the back of the player’s minds you are thinking of where you are in the league and knowing we’ve had a good start but it can all change really quickly. I think if we are still where we are come March then we can start to get excited, but at the moment it’s a good start but that’s all it is.

Ipswich and Brentford have both had "a good start"

The current table – Ipswich and Brentford have both had a good start

Last time we spoke you mentioned you always look out for Brentford in the cup draws as you’d love the chance to come back and play here. Did you ever expect it to be in the League?Yeah. Brentford have been knocking on the door for such a long time now and I was there for three play-off campaigns. They went down, came back up and look like the sort of club that is just so well run and in such a stable place at the moment. So even though I was always hoping for them in the cup, last year really was the one when you thought, “They’re going to do it this time“.

The fact that we are now second and third in the League is going to make it really special. I can’t wait and I’ve been waiting for this game for such a long time. At the start of the season I wasn’t sure what kind of part I’d be playing for Ipswich, even.

When I saw the fixtures come out I thought there was a chance that if I wasn’t in the team I might have gone out on loan by then but I’ve worked hard, got myself in and hopefully I don’t get injured between now and then. I’d like to think I have a part to play in that game and it’s going to be amazing, I can’t wait to get back there.

How do you think its going to be lining up for ‘the opposition’ at Griffin Park? It’s going to be strange, really strange. I had six fantastic years there and I loved it as a club. Its going to be really weird. I think, usually, it’s strange if you’ve just left the season before and come back but I’ve been away for probably eight years, so it may be a little bit different.

But I’m still looking forward to getting back and seeing a few familiar faces like Peter Gilham etc I’m just looking forward to the game and hoping to get a good reception from the fans – its been a long while and so hopefully they’ll remember who I am.

Do you think getting the warm reception and coming back puts any extra pressure on you or is it the case of switch off once the whistle goes? I think it might put me in a good mood. It’s a great ground, a nice, tight and compact ground. I’ve not been back since the roof has been put on the other end but I think it’s going to be a really good atmosphere.

About a month ago I bought ten tickets from the club because I knew I was going to have so many people asking to come. If I get a nice cheer from the crowd it’ll be great and I’ll certainly give them a nice round of applause back.

But then the game will start and it’ll be Ipswich against Brentford. Obviously there’s Stephen Hunt coming back aswell. I was just with him today and we were talking about the game, both looking forward to it. He did a good job for Brentford too and I’m sure he’ll also get a good reception.

Brentford’s start has taken a lot of people, including many supporters, by surprise. When they got up, what did you expect them to do? I’m not too sure really. I don’t watch loads of football so I haven’t seen them play this season. Stephen Hunt watches a lot more than me and says they’ve been playing some really attractive football, passing it around. That’s what I’m expecting . I’ve spoken to a few Brentford fans in the last week and they’ve said the same.

I think their season has mirrored ours. They had quite a good start, picked some points up then had a bit of a blip before picking things up again. Its just two teams in great form and I’m hoping its just going to be a really great game.

These are the two teams of the moment. Whoever wins will top the Championship table. Do you think that’s going to alter your approach any? No, not really. It’s nice to see yourself at the top of the League but its so early yet. Even though it is nice to see that, every player would probably like to hit the top around March or April time when you can see the finish line. At the moment that’s miles away and you can’t even see it yet.

We’ve just come into half way through the season and so to go top on Boxing Day is nice but its not like you are top by eight or nine points. If you do go top its by one point and, if you lose the next game then you could be back down to fourth.

That’s why getting the result is most important. It’ll be a tough game away to Brentford and I think they’ll fancy themselves. They had a great result at Cardiff last week, especially to be 3-0 up. It’s some place to go. We went there and got beat 3-1. They are a team on really good form but so are we.

What about Christmas day? It is the day before the big game but what does it hold for you? We’ll be training at nine o’clock then I’ll be heading down to London to see some friends and family, before meeting the lads at the hotel on Christmas night. You know you can have a little bit of Christmas dinner but you can’t be stuffing your face with the packets of nuts, Pringles and all that other stuff you associate with Christmas It is one time if year where you have to be really determined and respect the job you are in.

And finally, do you have any message for the Brentford supporters coming into the game? First of all have a really nice Christmas and enjoy the game on Boxing Day. It would be great if I got a good reception and I’ll give it back.

I honestly mean it that I can’t wait for this game. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time and the fact it has come around mow I just can’t wait.

I’m sure the fans will enjoy it aswell so we’ll see what happens on Boxing Day.

Tabby saw out his Griffin Park career in the play offs, fighting to the last

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Can Bees beat Slade to Christmas number one?

20 Dec

Brentford travel to Cardiff City today knowing that a win and the usually unreliable ‘other results going in our favour’ could see us joint top of the Championship table on Christmas day. It is a game most fans have been looking forward to for months and, moreso, because it gives us a chance to renew acquaintances with Russell Slade.

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 along.