Tag Archives: bribe

Coming soon. To a skip near you. As Bees prepare for Wigan, FA continue the clear out.

30 Sep

Brentford prepare for the visit of Wigan Athletic on Saturday with the topic of conversation being the ongoing corruption saga being revealed by the Telegraph. Following Tuesday’s news about Sam Allardyce, it is an investigation which has spread to the Championship with QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink “devastated” after it had been suggested during the week that he was involved. With the Loftus Road outfit planning what they describe as “A thorough investigation”, Barnsley have already taken the action of sacking assistant manager Tommy Wright after he was filmed accepting a £5,000 payment.

Pretty much everybody has had their opinion on this story already. Equally, though, there are as many questions as answers out there. Supporters up and down the land are now wondering who will be next to be named, who will be found guilty and is their own club clean?

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

 Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST. 

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

 

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick. Form went south from there

 

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Ryan had to settle for a place at the (Marcos) Teabar (Thanks: Tim Griffiths)

 

sam-free-t-shirt

Coming soon. To a skip near you.

Nick Bruzon

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Brentford mourn Ken Horne – a true Bees legend

3 Sep

I was saddened to read the news about Brentford legend Ken Horne yesterday, after the club announced he had died at the age of 89. I never saw Ken play ; his time at Griffin Park through the 1950s after signing from Blackpool being somewhat prior to my own love affair with the Bees. However, I was fortunate enough to meet him back in 2010 for a ‘Where Are They Now’ interview that would later appear in the matchday magazine

Along with fellow team mate Jim Towers, Ken gave one of the most fascinating insights into life at Brentford in the 50’s. It’s fair to say that football was a lot different back then to the game we know today whilst other aspects, such as rivalry with QPR or suspicion of match rigging, were present even then.

Ken, who came over as a genuinely nice guy and warm individual, gave a remarkable account of his time as player. From the early days at Blackpool after the Second World War to his career at Brentford.

Extracts from the interview, which was conducted alongside his wife Joyce, are reproduced below.

Ken on first playing football after the war: “I had no ideas of being a footballer. I was brought up during the war and was thirteen when it broke out. By the time I was fifteen /sixteen I had become a member of a youth club. They had a football team and wanted to play but had no one to play as all the men were away. So we used to get on our bikes and arrange matches with prisoners of war and also RAF teams. We used to play the Italians and then have a cup of tea with them behind the barbed wire. Also the Germans but it was bit different as with them they had all the guards on the gate.”

They enjoyed a game of football and we’d sit down and have tea with them. The Italians were actually allowed to walk around the town. They had big patches all over them but we all knew they didn’t want to go back and fight! They knew when it was good here; they were fed and would go in the pubs and everything. But with the Germans all the sentries were on duty with the guns as soon as you walked through the gate. It was a different atmosphere but a great experience.

Often when we were due to play the RAF teams we’d get it cancelled. Then you’d read the news and see they’d been out over Germany during the night which is why they couldn’t play us.”

Ken on his trial at Blackpool: “ I thought it was a trial, all the young players talking to each other. I didn’t know who we were playing but it turned out to be Burnley A. Mid way through the second half I took the ball form the goalkeeper and took it on, right through where I slipped it to the centre half, it got back to me and I put it through the goalkeeper’s legs. They all mobbed me and I asked them afterwards, why does everyone know one another? “

He was told, “ They’re all professionals here and you’ve just scored the winning goal that’s given them the league.” He signed for Blackpool !!

Ken on Stanley Matthews: .”. I’d only ever seen him on cigarette cards so you can imagine what it was like. Even driving through Blackpool everyone was waving. I was a lad from the country and here I am sitting alongside the great Stanley Matthews.

He came and played in my benefit match at Brentford. It was all internationals we played against. It was a hell of a crowd and we even got a quarter of an hour live on television, which had never happened before in an evening programme. I went in to the dressing room afterwards, because I knew quite a lot of them.

I went round to thanks them all for coming and Stan said to me, ‘Ken, would you mind cleaning my boots.’ This is absolutely true. I took them out and just dusted them. “ Infact, Stan had made a real effort to participate in the game.

”He’d been training that morning and had come from Blackpool. He had a mac and pulled out a newspaper, wrapped his boot up and put it in his pocket then did the same on the other side. He went back that night on the sleeper train.”

Ken as a player : “When I came down to Brentford I’d never played full back before but we’d been a bit shy in front of goal so they moved Fred Monk from right back to centre forward and I stepped in there. He scored in eleven consecutive goals and we went on a wonderful run.”

It is at this point that Joyce joins in and gives her opinion. “He’d never be on the field now, he’d always be red carded! Lethal but legal He tackled hard and it used to be man, ball, everything.”

Ken concurs, “ I was a little bit……aggressive. One thing I was proud of was that I played at Brentford for eleven years and never, to my knowledge, got barracked. The crowd used to barrack quite a few of them.

I did get booked once at Bristol Rovers in a reserve game, where I was captaining and Tommy Lawton was the manager. The linesman was terrible and I was having a go at him all the time, trying to get the rest of the team playing and gee them up. Right at the end the ball came to me as the referee’s whistle went. I thought to myself, I’ve had enough, and fired the ball straight back into the crowd.

I ran off and as I was going down the tunnel and felt a tap on the shoulder from the referee who said he had to take my name and report me for ungentlemanly conduct. The linesman had told him that I hit the ball straight into the crowd.

I went in to training later that week where Tommy had received a letter from the FA. I told him it was true and said I would own up to it. No you don’t’ he said, got his pen out an put this reply to the F.A…

‘Just as the final whistle blew, the ball landed on my foot and as I was making the clearance it skewed off into the crowd, If I have caused any problems to anyone I do apologise wholeheartedly. It wasn’t intentional and would never happen again”

I signed it. We got away with it! That’s the only time I’ve been booked and”, he deadpans… “I don’t know why”,

Ken - as featured on the official site yesterday

Ken – as featured on the official site yesterday

Ken on the climax to the 1957/58 season – the old third division South and North, with only one team going up from each. The Bee’s final game was at home to title rivals Brighton.

“It was between them and us. I’d hurt the top of my foot and didn’t think I could play but had a pain killing injection. It was a really good game with almost thirty thousand there that night and I was so pleased to get though without any pain. We’re running off the field when Ian Dargie comes along, slapping me on the back and jumps straight on top of my foot. I couldn’t walk.”

However, Brentford held on to a 1-0 victory meaning Brighton had to win their last game, against Watford, to take the title.

“Jimmy Bowie, a betting man, went to Watford and said (so he claimed) we can offer you money to go out and beat Brighton for us. Jimmy named his price and got told – ‘We get more than that for losing to Brighton’. There was a lot of trouble after that match with the Watford captain. There was a lad making his debut for Brighton and Meadows, who was captain of Watford and who Jimmy had spoken to, was marking him. This lad was making his debut and scored five goals. In the first half.”

For the record, a subsequent probe by the Daily Mail the next season confirmed that some Watford players had taken a payment to let Brighton win but by that stage it was too late…

Ken’s career highlights: Brentford’s 1951 trip to play the Dutch international team.

“We flew from Heathrow on KLM and stayed there five days. We played n the Olympic stadium and we were better than them. The Germans had taken over Holland during the war so they were getting back on their feet. They wanted a good run out and so we gave them one. We were better than them although drew one all. It was a lovely trip, we gave them a very good game and they were happy; even gave us a reception and presentation afterwards.”

These days surely even the most loyal Brentford fan would struggle to cope with the concept of them outplaying the Dutch national side.

“1955 when we played Newcastle in the cup. We lost but they went on to win the cup and it was that last time they did so. We lost 3-2 but gave them some game. Johnny Rainford was brilliant that day. You’d have thought he was the first division player. He was playing against some famous players. Well, we all were. Kenny Coote was left back and he was up against Jackie Milburn and I was playing against Bobby Mitchell who was a Scotland international. All we heard all week was ‘ if you two can stop the two wingers we’ll do alright’. I think we did our job quite well.”

Ken has his eye on the ball

Ken has his eye on the ball

Ken on his teammates: Kenny (Coote)was such a nice fellow and such a good player. Quite honestly I think he was too good for us and it’s a pity he didn’t go higher.

I was also very friendly with Tony Harper who played just in front of me. He was wicked. He just never stopped running. He was everywhere, like Rooney. He and I had such a good understanding and he was such a nice fellow too although you wouldn’t think it when he was on the field. Very tough

It was a pleasure to play in those times.

That was the best team I played in. Ron Greenwood, Jimmy Hill, Billy Dare. It was a good side and hardly changed for weeks. I played about eighty games alongside Ron Greenwood. He was wonderful to play with. He used to make you play football and get it down, because sometimes in our day it was a lot of hoofing it but Ron wanted it played on the deck all the time and did so. He was really good to play with.

He was coaching, even in those days doing his coaching course already. Walter Winterbottom thought an awful lot of him, even then. My peg in the dressing room was alongside his so it was like we did everything next to each other.

Ken on playing QPR: They had a clever little winger called Ernie Shepherd. He was a good player but didn’t like me at all and he didn’t like tackles! I’m playing on the side where it was (then) all terrace and you’re very close to the people leaning up against the fence. They used to hate me over there and were all giving me the bird. About an hour through the game the ball went out for a throw in. I bent down to get it, looked up and they’re all going “you dirty so and so”. I looked up with the ball and just said to them “Has anybody seen Ernie Shepherd this afternoon?” After that they were all applauding me.

Not only did he manage to silence the Ranger’s fans, but even their children were loyal supporters, as Joyce elaborates. “ I used to take our eldest daughter who was only two and ever so good at the football. They were all calling out “You dirty bugger, Horne”. All of a sudden she stood on a seat and says, “That’s not a bugger, that’s my daddy”

After that the crowd all round us were all saying “Come on daddy” .

Ken gave a wonderful insight into life as a footballer in the 1950s

Ken gave a wonderful insight into life as a footballer in the 1950s

Nick Bruzon

Sam Sodje match fixing allegation – WATN interview

8 Dec

Say it’s not true. Please…

One of the real Brentford success stories under Martin Allen, Sam was today at the centre of accusations in regards to alleged match fixing. According to several sources including the Mail Online, Sam got himself deliberately sent off to aid a betting syndicate when he punched Oldham’s Jose Baxter, twice, whilst playing for Portsmouth.

The evidence presented seems pretty damming and makes you wonder, if true, how long this sort of thing has been going on for. Heaven forbid anything happened whilst at Brentford – campaigns that saw us narrowly miss out on promotion after botched play-off attempts. To suggest either way would be foolhardy, so I’m not going to do it.

Instead, I’ll share the interview I carried out with Sam for the matchday programme last year. A chance to remember the good times but, also, get an insight into his mindset whilst playing for the Bees….

SAM SODJE – Where are they now

As a young footballer hoping to get that ‘big break’ from non-league to a professional club, there are several ways to impress a potential new manager. For some, it could be a dedication to training and fitness. Others may rely on a series of strong ‘on pitch’ displays, perhaps backed up with a DVD show reel. However, today’s guest took the unorthodox approach – rough up his prospective new employer’s team before attempting to, literally, punch out his future boss. Thus saw the 2004 introduction to league football of today’s ‘Where Are They Now’ guest.

At the time, one of our more ‘controversial’ signings (thanks largely to the lengthy suspension this ‘unknown’ had arrived with) when he left two years later at the end of the 2005/06 campaign, this centre-back had been deemed one of our best ever. One of that rare breed to make his international debut whilst on Brentford’s books – the first of several appearances for the Nigerian national side – he has since gone on to grace the Premier League, alongside several of his former Griffin Park colleagues. These days lining up for Notts County with the likes of Stuart Nelson, Gavin Mahon and BBB, would you please welcome back to Griffin Park – Sam Sodje.

Whilst recent issues of WATN have also focused on this period in the club’s history, rather than dwell too much on certain games Sam provides us with an absolutely unique insight into his mindset at the time. Likewise some open and, perhaps, surprising opinions about his team-mates. He speaks with a genuine enthusiasm and appreciation of both the fans and his time at Griffin Park but we begin with his arrival  – which took place in that typical ‘Sam style’ we all came to love.

“My story about joining Brentford is a funny one. I was playing non-league for Margate. We were playing up at Barnet where Martin Allen was the manager.  I didn’t know who anybody was although my teammates recognised him.”

As if to quantify what came next, he assures me, “I really didn’t know who he was.  I was just playing my normal game the way I play, putting all my heart into it and he thought I was being rough with his players. He came onto the pitch and tried to tell me, ‘Why was I being rough?’

I just tried to punch him!

It’s not good but that’s what happened. I didn’t know who he was so just tried to fight him and he couldn’t believe that I did it. The next day I had the phone call saying he had joined Brentford and would like to sign me!”

I suggest to Sam that, in retrospect, he was somewhat of a brave man considering whom it turned out that he had confronted. Maybe he wouldn’t have done this had he been aware of ‘Mad Dog’s’ reputation?

“It didn’t matter. I wasn’t brave because I really didn’t know who he was. Brentford fans know I put my heart into everything I do and I play the game the way I live my life.”

Before Martin signed him, there were other opportunities with trials at both Chester & Yeovil, amongst other teams, which didn’t really work out. When these fell through, was there any thought that maybe his chance had gone or was Sam always hoping to make that step up?

To be fair, when I was first playing non-league I always knew I was going to make it. I was that arrogant about my ability. Going to Yeovil and going to Chester, I didn’t think of that as a downside. I just thought that it was only about time before I was in the Premiership.

I know it sounds cocky but I was very arrogant and cocky in those days and really believed in my abilities. Those trials were not a setback for me. They were something where, deep down I knew was just a matter of time before I played in the League.

I enjoyed them aswell. I just went there because I thought I should go but also I always knew the day would come where I was playing top-flight football.”

Clearly, Sam wasn’t alone in this belief about his ability with Martin calling him the next day, despite his best efforts to deck him! Was it that much out of the blue or were other clubs interested?

“Yeah. I had a chance to go to Leyton Orient at that time and had a couple of other calls. However, he called me up and I just wanted to play in the League, to be fair. He spoke to me and although I didn’t know who he was, he said to me: ‘Sam, it’s my job at Brentford and I want to sign you.’

No-one knew about me. I came to Brentford and thought I was going to play every week. I thought I was just good enough to be in the league.”

Having arrived at Brentford, the contrast to what he had known before was apparent!

It was the best I’d seen. Remember, I was coming from a non-league side in Margate where the training pitch was not the best whilst the club was part-time aswell so training was in the evenings. Then coming to Brentford, who has just moved to a new training ground, it was all I wanted. I couldn’t wait to start playing.

It was so funny though, because Martin signed me not knowing I was suspended for the first half-a-dozen games or so. I carried over a red card from Margate and people were saying ‘Who is this guy he signed?’

So I missed those games but then got my chance and I took it. It went from there, really. I just believed and, when I speak to young kids nowadays, I tell them how at that time I really believed I could make it all the way. My belief took me through.”

This belief seemed to spread through the entire team. For the spectators, it was a thing of beauty watching it all come together. For the players, especially one just starting his first league campaign, it must have been fantastic.

I loved it and the main thing that helped me enjoy it more was that I didn’t feel as though I was making the step up. I really thought it was where I was meant to be. I know it sounds arrogant but that is what I wanted and I thought I could be playing higher. I think that helped me and also in achieving my goals.

Even Martin Allen aswell. When you play for a club where the fans love you, it’s great. It wasn’t like a ‘first season’ for me. After the first three or four games I felt like a hero to the fans and it meant I had to reach a standard where in every game I did not want to play badly because I knew they rated me highly. So I was playing for the manager, my team-mates and I had good players around me. I just enjoyed coming to work. Every day !! That’s what young people should be able to do and I enjoyed it so much.”

Sam may have enjoyed it and none so more than in the FA Cup runs. His first season saw us paired with Premiership side, Southampton, in the fifth round. He talks about the first game as part of his ‘Career highlight’ and the 2-2 draw meant a replay at Griffin Park with the prospect of Manchester United for the winners.

Oh..My..God..! I tell you what. That year was the biggest of my career and even the build up to that game was too much. Martin called us into the office and spoke to a few of us. Brentford days were good days and we really believed that bringing them back to Griffin Park, we were going to win. They showed the class they had from the Premiership, though, but it was still happy days.”

Cup aside, that’s not forgetting we did very, very well in the league where The Bees got all the way to the play offs against Sheffield Wednesday.

“Yes. Sheffield Wednesday away was the biggest, loudest crowd we had been against. It was so loud but being a Brentford fan or player then, we knew we had the heart to go anywhere and to win. Unfortunately, we didn’t get through but the belief we had was incredible.”

If anything though, this incredible belief set Brentford up for that second season (2005-06) where it more of the same – exciting cup runs and table topping league action. Sadly, in the end, the outcome was also the same.

“I keep saying to people that if you look at the players who were in that team, they all worked hard and have gone on to do well. I WISH we had the chance to get that promotion because it would have been a different story. A lot of people think that I am just saying this but if we had won promotion, we would have been the Swansea City of today. The team had so much belief that we should be playing in the top flight.”

If season 2004/05 had been a nice surprise for the fans after the previous campaign’s ‘Great Escape’, to get so close again but fall at the last was a bitter pill to swallow.

“It was too much but thinking about it now, that’s something you will always remember and think about. If it had gone the other way, what would my career have been like? I loved Brentford. I had a few offers to leave (including one to Southampton in the midway point of that season) but I never wanted to – I thought we were going to go up. I’ve never seen a club where the fans loved the players that much. It was so much that I could never afford to, play a bad game.”

This relationship with the fans is something that Sam had mentioned before but he is happy to confirm it was that strong. As such, with Notts County due to visit next month, it could be interesting.

It (the relationship) was too much! They had my song and everything. I don’t think I’ve been back since I left. People at Brentford know me! I’m going to come there and play my heart out anyway. I left in a good way and still hold the fans strongly but that won’t stop me coming back and being Sam Sodje. If I have to score, I’ll score, but I’ll always have the Brentford fans in my heart.”

Aswell as interim success for the team, 2005/06 saw Sam triumph on a personal level. Domestically, he was named in the end of season ’League team of the year’.

“It was great. The same thing, again, though.  Now I find it a real achievement because I know what I did but at the time it was not a big deal because I thought – I prefer to go up with the Brentford team than to win this. Whether I was good enough, I wanted to get promotion.

People spoke to me before and said, ‘Sam, you sound really confident’. I just trusted my ability. It was my point of view. At that time, it was still a great honour to be named as one of the best defenders in that League but now I appreciate it all the more.’

Going further afield, Sam also made his international debut for Nigeria.

“I played against Romania, I remember. I’ve gone on to get more caps, play in World Cup qualifiers and it’s all from Brentford. Even when I go to Nigeria, people say ‘Sam – the Brentford days’, so the club always comes into the picture.”

Whatever personal success Sam achieved over his two seasons at Brentford, with the team failing to get promoted it seemed obvious that our better players would depart. As with Jay Tabb (see WATN v Carlisle) the opportunity to test himself at a higher level would prove to be too much.

“To be honest with you, it was too good a chance. To get that chance to go to a Premiership club. I could even have gone to a bigger team but because I was so cocky, again, I decided to go to Reading as I thought I’d get more games. I had a chance to go to Blackburn and travelled there but decided to go to Reading because I wanted to play in the Premiership. I thought that if I went to Blackburn I might not get my chance.”

It’s always interesting to ask our former players whom they really rated as players alongside them. Asking Sam this question, the answer is one that may come as a bit of a surprise to some.

“Both seasons we had a great back four. It was me, Turner, Frampton and O’Connor for most of those two seasons but, when I first came, Scott Fitzgerald was playing at centre-half. Coming from a non-league team, I learnt a lot from him. He taught me more, and might not know this, but I learnt so much from him. That is how I got into the Premier League, because I was watching him play. There are little things that you may not understand but as footballers, little tricks he did. As he was reaching the end of his career, I could understand where he was coming from. Just using my head around the pitch.

I don’t think he knows, even now,  what I learnt from him.

Then it came to me and Michael Turner and I had an understanding that I don’t think I’d ever had before. Even when he’d click his fingers, I’d know what he was going to do next. He’d shake his head, and I’d know what he was going to do next.

Talking about helping me out, Kevin O’Connor was very good with me. I’d just come from non-league and he was such a good talker. He probably made me look better than I was because he would just talk me through the game. He made sure I was in the right place at the right time. I was pacy and I was strong so he made sure I was winning the headers because he talked a lot. Andy Frampton, the same. Me and Jay Tabb were very good mates. He was one of my best friends.

It was the defence, though; I always remember that, because we kept so many clean sheets. We knew exactly what we would do. Michael Turner was one of the best players I ever played with because of the understanding. Even when he was turning his head I knew what he would do.

Stuart Nelson, aswell. We were similar in that we were mad and would always fight on the pitch. Best friends off it but we would always fight, every game. Now I get older I realise that he just wanted to win so badly, the same as me, which is good.”

Despite whatever on pitch runs ins there may have been, Sam and Nels are team-mates once more, this time at Notts County. Whilst Sam still retains the same love of playing, the style has changed a bit.

“I am enjoying my football although it’s different now. I’ve got an older head so it’s a bit more experienced. It’s different from the days of Brentford.

My game has changed dramatically because I have had an injury.  I left Brentford, went to the Premiership and had a knee injury – my cartilage. I have played all through my career with it, which is fine although I need a manager that understands me. I’ve had a few that didn’t – Charlton, for example.

I’ve done well in my career, even played internationals. So my game has changed where now I might play a little bit more like Scott Fitzgerald, with that bit more experience.”

What has become clear from my time talking to Sam are his love of playing football, an indefatigable self-belief that has driven him on and perhaps, most of all, the genuine warmth he still feels for both Brentford FC and our supporters. It is a combination of factors summed up as he reflects on his eventual move away from Griffin Park.

Things happen at the time and it didn’t take away how I feel about the Brentford fans. I hope they would be happy to have got a player from non-league who has since gone on to appear at Wembley and play for my country. I think Brentford should be proud of that. I was going through the airport the other day and met a Brentford fan who was loving me and I loved him because it was Brentford! I think me and Brentford are always going to be like the husband and wife thing who are together in life forever

CAREER HIGHLIGHT

“I’ve got three.

My first goal I scored, against Torquay (a 2-2 away draw and only his third game for the club). I think that’s what made me as a Bees player.

Second up, you cannot take away my goal against Southampton. That was just unbelievable. I’ve said it before – in that game people keep asking me what I remember about it.

What I remember was that we played a Premiership side but the team we had at that time thought that WE should be in the Premiership. I know if might sound arrogant, and looking back it is, but we really thought we should play there. The fans were loving it and I just thought, ‘that’s where I want to play’.

I think I actually played better in the big games. I didn’t think of that game as us playing a Premiership side but more ‘This is where I want to be playing every week’ and I think that is why we did well.”

Sam’s final selection comes from the FA cup fifth round tie, in his second season.

“If I say this one, you’ll be surprised. Against Charlton I was sick the day before the game and was struggling to play. The minute I came up from out of the toilets, the whole crowd were singing my song. They will have never known what that did to me.

It just made me go mad and I thought. ‘I don’t care. I’m going to play today’. It ended up that I had a great game and the fans were singing my name.’