Tag Archives: Bristol City

How the week could play out. Who gets the elbow and who gets clear air?

29 Jun

Here we go. Brentford travel to Reading on Tuesday night, knowing a win will take us to within touching distance of second place West Bromwich Albion. With Fulham the ones falling apart at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon, a 3-0 win for Leeds United saw the gap to the third place Bees stretched out to 8 points. Surely not even they can blow that with 7 (seven) games to play? Funnier things have happened but perhaps the current shape of the table means it is the Baggies game at Sheffield Wednesday, on Wednesday, where we need that additional level of external interest.

Any decision about whether Brentford fans should be cheering Fulham or hoping for the draw was  taken out of our hands almost immediately. Aleksander Mitrovic was lucky to avoid straight red just minutes in to the game (and will surely be summoned by the FA to explain his use of the elbow today) and it went downhill from there. Goal followed goal with the Cottagers left floundering and Leeds looking strong as, to be fair. The only pleasure to be taken was seeing who had replaced Osama Bin Laden in their sea of cardboard cutout supporters – Joe Exotic, amongst others. 

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An ‘accident’ or deliberate brutality? Either way, the ref missed it

But with Fulham in a slump and their goal threat looking like he’ll be snuffed out, Brentford have an excellent chance to keep up the momentum that saw us head up to third place after Friday night’s fine win over West Bromwich Albion. Put simply, a win at Reading on Tuesday night will see us move just two points behind the second placed team. They then travel to Hillsborough the following night for a game that will be as significant as ours.

A trip to Reading won’t be easy. Let’s not rest on any laurels that come with those two fine wins that have kickstarted our return to Championship action in fine style. Sure, Brentford have played some wonderful football and looked solid at the back but this one has all the potential to be a giant potato skin. The unknowns of a team resting safely mid-table and under no pressure to stay alive or win are well documented.

Thankfully, we have Thomas Frank at the helm. A man who oozes confidence and common sense in equal measure. He’ll have his boys grounded and the possibility of an extra boost that may even see Bryan Mbeumo starting a game once more. Emiliano Marcondes is currently bursting with self-belief whilst David Raya and his back four have looked solid as a rock.

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David Raya – rock solid

As for West Brom, might Sheffield Wednesday be an even tougher challenge for them than Reading are for us? The Owls put a massive dent in Bristol City’s promotion aspirations yesterday and might even fancy themselves for a late surge towards the top six.

Poor Lee Johnson. His hopes of using the play-offs to kick lumps out of Said Benrahma now becoming nothing more than something he’ll need to use FIFA 20 to accomplish. All being well the beleaguered Bristol City boss will see the opportunity taken out of his hands by our own achieving of ‘automatic’.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV.

Cripes. This is getting exciting. With Fulham on the slide and West Brom on the ropes, could we see things move even further in our favour? This week is full of ifs, buts and maybes. Focus has to be on our own game with anything else a bonus. The trip to the Madjeski is always a horrible one – so near yet so far, taking as long to reach the out of town car park from the station as it does to get to Reading from West London.

I’d still love to be given the opportunity to make the shlep down there but, sadly, social distancing laws mean it is a case of having to watch the EFL streaming service. Hands tied and voices gagged – metaphorically speaking – rather than screaming on the players in person.

Instead, it’ll be our TV that takes the abuse and the frustration. But enough about trying to make I-follow work.

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Reading – have previously beaten us. In the game of embarrassing hashtags

The other result that may have gone unnoticed at the weekend and, perhaps, offers further hope was Luton Town staying alive with an incredible 1-0 win at Swansea City. Incredible, given the Hatters’ struggles with relegation and their hosts proximity to the top six. Yet as we discovered at Kenilworth Road, underestimate anybody at your peril. Our own 7(seven) – 0 win earlier in the season counted for nothing when we were outmuscled 2-1 in a horrible game just prior to Lockdown. 

Whilst nobody really expects Leeds Untied to drop points tomorrow, perhaps we may have half an eye on what plays out at Elland Road. Just in case. I mean, it’s not as though they have any reputation for falling apart at the critical moment……. 

Nick Bruzon

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

Storm in a B cup.

16 Feb

What an afternoon. Another point for Brentford, earned in horrific conditions at Birmingham City on the day Fulham were humped at home by basement club Barnsley and Nottingham Forest shared the spoils with West Bromwich Albion. The only fly in the ointment being a win for Leeds United (not a typo) at home to Bristol City but things at the business end of the Championship remain as tight as ever. And if you haven’t seen it, the club have announced news about our final * ever game at Griffin Park.   

We can only start at rain soaked and wind swept St. Andrews where Thomas Frank had to give his BMW a refit. Marcondes coming in for Mbeumo to join our much touted front three. With Shandon Baptiste making an impressive full debut in place of Josh Dasilva it was a new look Brentford side that began this one. The team taking on an even less familiar look after just a few minutes when Mathias Jensen had to go off, replaced by Dru Yearwood. Birmingham scented blood and went for the jugular.

Attack followed attack until the inevitable happened. Jude Bellingham (16, apparently) had already hit the inside of the post before Lukas Jutkiewicz popped up with the inevitable. A ball played in across the goal line eluded everyone until it reached the striker who made no mistake. Urghh. The Birmingham storm unable to be weathered. The start, dreadful.

And then it all changed. Brentford woke up. The desire to participate kicked in. Within minutes, we were level. Ethan Pinnock heading home from a corner to send the Bees wild. Get in – that’s more like it!! City not even able to blame the bench warming Harlee Dean for failing to keep that out.

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Goooaaaalllll !!

On we pressed. The ascendency very much swinging towards Brentford, despite the weather in our faces. A blatant penalty denied. Lee Camp in goal for Blues pulling off save after save. A second half shot somehow scrambled off the line by Fosu (on for sub, subbed Yearwood)  as Camp kept the Bees at bay. His one man defence saving a point for a City side who could perhaps consider themselves unfortunate to have their own penalty appeal turned down late on.

Frustration from the pitch had already been boiling over in the stands, where one green jacket clad supporter – giving it the billy big balls to the 1500+ Brentford supporters – went arse over tit on the  security awning draped over the seats intended to keep us apart. Magnificent comic timing if nothing else. The price for his bravery – a chorus of jeers, heckles, laughter and the attentions of the stewards. Followed up by the police, who asked him help with their inquiries. Outside the stadium.

And so it finished. One each and a point we can be pleased with. Birmingham should probably have stormed out of sight. Likewise, justifiably upset by decisions towards the end where Norgaard was also lucky to escape with just a yellow. With other results mostly going our way, especially at Fulham where Barnsley pulled off a magnificent 3-0 win, only Leeds United have taken true advantage. Fair enough. They’ve a good team and despite their own well documented fragility are still managing to hang in there. There’s a lot to be said for that.

We’re unbeaten. We’ve played really well in testing circumstances. The referee didn’t help either team and, being honest. I’m happy with another point on the board. Three would have been nice. On another day we’d have got them. Birmingham City no doubt thinking and feeling the same. They’ve been on form and I’m happy to get away with safely.

Elsewhere, Tuesday is THE big day. Tickets for the game against Barnsley, our last ever at Griffin Park *, go on sale then. The announcements of how this is happening will be made on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Twitter has the first notes up already – below.

For now, it’s the calm after the storm. Next up is Blackburn at home on Saturday. With who knows what in between…

* subject to play-off fixtures

Nick Bruzon

 

There wouldn’t be a more beautiful set of brackets in football this season.

15 Feb

Saturday morning. 6.30am. It already has the feel of one of those days. No District line. No Piccadilly line. No South West Trains service. Even leaving Brentford to get as far as a station feels as though it is going to be epic. That’s nothing to do with Storm Dennis but simply the most ill thought out combination of track upgrades since – urghh, it’s too early for an analogy. Then again, time to grit those teeth, put head down and find a Plan C. Preferably one that doesn’t involve the four most horrific words in the English language – rail replacement bus service. The trip to Birmingham City awaits and it promises to be epic. With the added incentive of Nottingham Forest v West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United hosting Bristol City, today definitely has the feel of, erm, one of those days. One to focus on the positive and what may be. Subject to the weather.

Cheer up Harlee Dean. etc etc etc. Been there, done that. Whilst I’ll be amazed if we don’t hear at least one refrain of that song following his infamous comments on that ill-fated ‘Blues Cruise’, there are bigger things to focus on today. The promotion race remains wide open and the primary concern for Brentford has to be in looking to pick up those three points. Other results going our way could, theoretically, see us finish the day in that second place we occupied briefly during the midweek fixture against Leeds United.

Harlee

Don’t shoot the messenger. He said it. Not me.

Then again, other results could, theoretically, see Leeds United end the day outside the top six. Victories for the Bees, Forest, Fulham (a home banker against Barnsley) combined with Bristol City winning by 7(seven) goals at Elland Road will achieve that feat. There wouldn’t be a more beautiful set of brackets in football this season should that set of results play out. And whilst, of course, it won’t this serves more to show just how tight things remain. Just how how crucial those ‘other’ results could be as the top sides, and also Birmingham City, play each other.

Let’s not write off Blues though. My word, anything but. They are on a nine game unbeaten run and have picked up three Championship wins on the bounce. Despite the loss of Josh McEachran, they still find themselves chock full of ex-Bees. Maxime Colin, the aforementioned Captain Pugwash and of course Scott Hogan. He’s banging them in for fun once more and so we’ll have to be extra wary of that ball slotted through the middle. Christian Norgaard and, potentially, a returning Pontus Jansson will have key roles to play this afternoon. 

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I used to love a Scott Hogan goal celebration. Not today.

The game against Leeds on Tuesday was one where, being fair, just about everyone has acknowledged we were second best. The visitors will be disappointed not to have picked up all three points but, as we’ve said many times, possession and chances count for naff all if you can’t convert. They may have outplayed us but they couldn’t beat us. Brentford had an off day and still could have won. Perhaps we might have had things stayed at 1-0 rather than being pegged back just before half-time.

Ahh. Ifs, buts and maybes. The things that make football so intriguing. The things that provide for hours of conversation and conjecture despite having absolutely no impact on past results. The things that perhaps give us the inspiration to really go for it next time out and right any wrongs we may feel have been done to us.

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A rare second half  sortie on Tuesday.

For me, Clive, Birmingham City are an irrelevance today. I don’t mean that with any form of specific disrespect. Feelings for the team have been well documented before and I’d absolutely love to get a win at St. Andrews.

It’s more that currently they just feel like the opposition in the way and nothing more than that. A challenge to be overcome and points to be won rather than scored. There are no thoughts about relegation in 92/93, lack of promotion in 94/95 or ‘ten times better’ but simply whether we can keep heading towards the top flight. And the latest obstacle in the way is a Blue one rather than, all being well, a traffic jam or a tree on the track.

I can’t call it. Never can. I was 100% confident that we’d beat Leeds United on Tuesday and that didn’t work out. But we didn’t lose and we have the biggest incentive possible to go for it. Moreso with the Nottingham Forest – West Bromwich Albion game due to take place at lunchtime. By the time of our kick off we’ll have a little bit more of an idea how the table is looking and just what three points might do to our position at close of play. If we can pick them up.

Oh, I can’t wait for this one. Travel safe. See you there…..

Harlee Birmingham tweet

Here’s to more of this

Nick Bruzon

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But who will blink first?

13 Feb

With the midweek fixtures all played out, Brentford find themselves two points off ‘automatic’ and Leeds United still in second place. Just. For a while, it looked as though things may get even better with West Bromwich Albion behind and Fulham crying out for VAR (looked onside to me !) at Millwall. In the end, the Baggies got their win although the Cottagers ended things level. With Preston taking sixth and Bristol City warming up for Saturday’s trip to Elland Road after edging past Wayne Rooney by the odd goal in five, things remain as unclear and open as ever. Only West Brom starting to make a bit of clear air but, as we’ve seen all season, that can change in a heartbeat. Our own game at Birmingham City this weekend couldn’t be any bigger.

Before we go any further, I’ll likely mention Birmingham City a few times in the next couple of days. We’re due to play them  – why wouldn’t anyone do so in that situation? So to try, but no doubt fail, and avoid the usual nonsense about this tinpot team’s apparent obsession with their enormous club, the Griffin Park perspective on why I’ve absolutely relished our teams crossing paths in the Championship is noted further below. Why such pleasure is taken every time Brentford finish above Blues – which has been every season since our return to this level.

Sure… the financial misconduct, the managerial mayhem, that ten times better nonsense or the triple transfer swoop were factors – the sort of nonsense that makes football great in retrospect –  but nothing compared to what had gone before.

Anyway, getting back to the present, one almost had to feel sorry for Fulham last night. Almost. The brief window of opportunity I was afforded to watch that game before Kirsty and Phil started doing battle over Woodford Green property renovation (ah, the Wednesday night price of a green card for the trip to St. Andrews on Saturday is a huge one) saw two early goals and a huge controversy. Aleksander Miitrovic continuing to trade metaphorical punches with Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship leading goalscorer charts before the Lions equalised with a goal so far offside even I spotted it first time out. Fulham were rightly incensed but, as we struggled to contain the laughs on our couch, the officials allowed it stand. 

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But there was no VAR. No second chance. No reprieve and things were level. Millwall even had the temerity to miss a penalty and that’s how things stayed. Apparently. What would I know? The things you do for the long term footballing pleasure.  With that result, Fulham go level on points with Leeds United whilst Brentford remain two points off the pair of them. The Cottagers may aswell chalk up the three points now with a home game against Barnsley this weekend but Leeds – Bristol City promises to be another massive one. 

The Robins are just outside the play off zone. Only goal difference keeping them away from a top six that once again plays host to Preston. It really is a case of seeing who can hold their nerve. Who blinks first. Whatever else, something has to give with West Brom hosting Nottingham Forest. I’m beyond trying to figure out who I want to win in these games though. Let’s concentrate on ourselves and hope those favours continue to come.

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As it stands…

That said, we are now at the point of experiencing that additional factor of a promotion shootout. That moment where the run-in starts and every result of every club around us seems critical. Phones are refreshed mid-game as goals conceded and points dropped here, there and everywhere are celebrated with abandon. Where even a win for the Loftus Road team is to be celebrated if it comes against one of the teams in close proximity. Where shifts in the table are tracked, even ‘as it stands’, and all favours are grateful accepted. We’ve had it by the bucketload during this week’s fixtures with Brentford even sitting in second place until Leeds equalised. Walking past Griffin Park on the school run with Harry, we’ve been going through permutations of results and possibilities – it’s amazing how much that can help with arithmetic. So, If Leeds lose, how many points will they have? Where will Fulham be if they beat Millwall?

There are, of course, a lot of games to go. Almost a third of the season still. But with nobody really striking out on their own, albeit West Bromwich Albion have a few points’ breathing space (at present) one can’t help but get drawn in by the situation unfolding around us. Which, as much as anything else, is why Birmingham City is a massive one for us Brentford fans. Regardless of the history. The obsession. 

I’ll absolutely love it if we pick up the points. Might even sing a song at full time. Roll on Saturday – see you there.   

 

Until then, here’s my take on it. Birmingham City – the ‘obsession’

For me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things feel as though they bear repeating. No matter how forlorn it may be. Yet it is as crucial now as a means of seeing how far we’ve come compared to how things were before. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day. 

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

Deano and Bliss

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the campaign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

So, yes. Whilst I DO focus on Birmingham City (a lot) it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. Can we take it to the next level? Perhaps Saturday will give a bit more of a clue, but I wouldn’t bet against this race going to the very last weekend of the season. 

Nick Bruzon

The videos that all fans need to see.

9 Feb

Time for the last knockings of the weekend. The residual fall out from a fine win for Brentford as our 3-2 defeat of Middlesbrough saw the Bees end the day smiling. With West Bromwich Albion beating Millwall at a windswept Millwall on Sunday lunchtime, The Baggies are starting to break clear at the top. They now sit four points clear of second placed Joy Division and six ahead of ourselves but has this win heaped further pressure on the Championship’s most emotionally fragile team ?

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The man of the moment as we ended the day smiling

We’ll get there in a bit but first, Brentford. BBC Radio London were in attendance on Saturday , kind of, as they looked to kick off the first in a regular series of ‘fans perspective’ pieces on match day at our London clubs. The Bees got things going, yours truly was entrusted with camera duties and the results are now on line – you can see the film from the Middlesbrough game below. 

If BBC London were bigging us up, their Welsh counterparts are being left with egg on face after this video emerged. Kudos to Josh on Twitter for putting this up – 10 out of 10 for effort. 11 out of 10 on the tinpotometer.

The other video doing the rounds was Said pulling off ‘that’ double nutmeg. No other words needed.

Whilst I’ve probably numbed you all into submission talking about #BeeTheAnnouncer, let’s not forget the hashtag that started them all  – #BeeTheDJ. I have no idea who was driving on Saturday but hats off for playing Killers by Iron Maiden. More, please. Let’s consider it a lucky omen.

 

Next up, The World Cup of Programme Covers.  Having edged past the Tranmere Rovers stripper, Brentford 4000 is now up in as tough a tie as they come. We now face the awesome Donnie Gillies of Bristol City. Featured having  made a brief detour via the costume shop en-route to Ashton Gate.

I can only see the neutral vote heading towards the West Country rather than West London ( I would ) but if you want to see us live to fight another day then you know what to do and can vote for Brentford here (I have).

Finally, West Bromwich Albion. Having beaten Millwall at lunchtime, has this now cranked up the pressure on Leeds even further? Rather than them being able to fight for either of the two ‘automatic’ spots available, is it now a foregone conclusion that West Brom will go up and only a single spot left open?  

We all know how Leeds go under the slightest of psychological pressure, so whilst my preference would have been to see the Lions roar today, there may be an unexpected bonus in West Brom picking up the points. Roll on Tuesday when we find out….

Nick Bruzon

Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once.

8 Feb

Thank you Birmingham City. Urghh. Said it. Get the mouthwash. But needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle. There were more than a few smiles from the Brentford faithful last night as our old boys pulled off the mother of all shocks and comebacks in their 3-1 win at Bristol City. With it, the Robins miss out on overtaking us and The Bees stay fifth in the table going in to this afternoon’s crunch game with Middlesbrough. The prize for victory will be the well documented further closing of the ever narrowing gap to Leeds United and West Brom in the ‘automatic’ slots. 

Screenshot 2020-02-08 at 06.17.18Ok – we all know that Leeds are coming to Griffin Park on Tuesday night. We’ve all joked about their falling apart (again) many, many times. And rightly so. They are and that’s brilliant. Chuck in the Pontus factor and it’s understandable we’ve all got more than half an eye on that one. It has been a date highlighted in my calendar for a long, long time. As much for family reasons (Hi, Julian – guess who I’ve got a spare ticket for…) as much as anything else.

Yet to overly look ahead of ourselves is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve got Middlesbrough first and that’s huge. A hurdle of gargantuan proportions for the Bees to try and clear. To give anything but 100% focus to the here and now is a fall waiting to happen.

We all know past form has seen them somewhat of a bogey team. Nobody needs any reminder of that or further regurgitation of yesterday’s column. Forget previous results. Forget the trashing of Hull City last time out. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day….And I’m feeling good. As somebody once sang.

But it’s true. The past – whether immediate or historic – counts for naff all when the teams are read out and run on to the pitch. Wins won’t get themselves based on what has gone before. Based on just turning up. It’s all about the here and now. About getting ourselves as loud as we can to turn Griffin Park into the cauldron of noise that lifts the players to the next level.

Cheesy? Cliched? Perhaps. But also true. Peter Gilham has gone on record many times to share the feedback, direct from the squad, as to what a lift it gives them when the stadium is rocking. If anybody knows, he does. If anyone embodies that explosion of supporter noise, it is him. 

We have cited Peter on these pages a lot. Perhaps more than ever this season. But if anybody has seen us through good times and bad then he’s the one. He is Brentford through and through. We all know he’s been our man-with-the-mic for over 50 years and has as deep a love for the club now as he did way back then.

And whilst we may be going off tangent (it’s just how the words fall out when ad-libbing this column), we are now as close to the finish line of a half-century long marathon as ever before. The ribbon is in sight and should we crash through it into the Premier League, then he will no doubt celebrate more than anybody.

But there’ll be no crashing through ribbons without picking up the points. Without cashing in on favours such as the one performed by Birmingham City last night. We’ll no doubt look to give them some extra special thanks next weekend.

A marvellous opportunity awaits when Middlesbrough visit. Like Simon the Internet obsessed / cyber stalker (delete as applicable) from the BT flatmate adverts back in the day, we’re ‘reeling one in’. And another. And another. And another.

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The BT flatmates – currently in the ‘where are they now?’ file. Or jail.

The play-off race sees us sitting in one of the hotspots whilst the ongoing ability of The Baggies and the Whites to press ‘self-destruct’ rather than emulate Liverpool in the top flight, means that the top positions are a prize very much in contention for whomever can now hit accelerate. Thankfully, we’re driving a BMW. Hopefully our rivals will stay stuck in reverse and we’ll soon be in automatic. 

Whatever has happened to get us to this place has been and gone. We can only play the situation and that starts with Middlesbrough. Today.  Griffin Park is a sellout. We can’t kick the balls but we can raise the roof. That could prove to be a priceless asset.

Ok – that’s me. Apologies. We’ve been a bit rambling and a bit nothing today. But sometimes, its just about trying to prep yourself for the big one. And that’s at 3pm. As Peter says, “Come onnnn. BRENNNTTTTTFORRRRDDDDDDDD !!!!

I can’t wait for this. I can’t wait to hear that. See you there.

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Here’s to some more of this

Nick Bruzon

We’ve won the social media turf war. What next?

6 Feb

Brentford 4000 have beaten the Tranmere stripper and will now face the awesome stylings of Bristol City defender Donnie Gillies in the World Cup of Programme Covers third round. Elsewhere, some Leeds United fans went to Old Trafford to watch their U-18s play Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup. Well done there. Well done everyone. 

First up, as ever, Brentford. In the most heavily fought tie of the round a Bees resurgence saw Tranmere Rovers slowly reeled in over the course of the day before we eventually overcame our match-day magazine rivals 52%-48%. Who said you win nothing with stats? 

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Through to the next round

The tie, described by compere Miles McClagan (@TheSkyStrikers) as “a social media turf war” was the most heavily voted for in the round as many peoples’ favourite suffered what could be described as a shock exit. With Brentford also featuring in the first round match with the highest turnout, could our name be on the cup? Or are we just good at using Twitter?

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubting things are going to be even tougher in the following round(s). Bristol City are next and it’s one of those where, frankly, words fail to do a cover justice. One just has to sit back and drink it all in.

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Bristol City will provide formidable opposition

The winner of that one will then face Ipswich Town or Morton in the quarters. Honestly, the thought of Donnie lining up against B.A. Robertson, John Wark (in full warm-up kit, of course) and a briefcase full of cash is one that has me salivating. It’s like an early 80s ‘Cold War Steve’, right down to the sponsorship. Just think Danepak rather than Fray Bentos. 

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When worlds collide…..

I don’t for one second think either the Bees or Morton will just roll over to allow this Titanic sartorial match up to take place. Certainly, we’ll give it our all. The only thing you can be sure of is that as the tournament progresses, we’re going to have a lot of fun in finding out whose name is on the cup. 

Elsewhere, Leeds United official were getting very excited because 1400 fans went to Manchester United to watch an FA Youth Cup match. 

And? What am I missing here? Genuine question, given the fuss being made on social media. Under achieving club and huge fan base with long memories about once being ‘any good’ take short trip down the road for a night out to famous club. Fans go to a game and cheer on their team. That seems to be the gist of it.

They’ve not played their rivals since 2011 so it must have been exciting for them. An ad-hoc chance to go back to the Mancunian library and try to upset their young hosts. Sing a song about Ed Woodward. Lovely stuff. 

I guess what this does do though is prove what incredible support they have. What a huge club Leeds United are. A side that has a divine right to play top flight football rather than being one who have sat in the Championship, or further beyond, since 2007. Administration will do that to you though.

Frankly, if there was any justice the EFL would stop subjecting Leeds to the annual torture of their falling apart (again) and just promote them automatically to the deserved home in the Premier League. Who needs tinpot pub teams and bus stops like Brentford trying to play their way up when we could, no should, have a top flight dominated by those grand old names of the past?

Oh, what’s the point. It was their cup final so I’m glad they enjoyed themselves. There are infinitely more important things to focus on in the coming days. We face Boro’ and Leeds go to play-off rivals Nottingham Forest. Then there’s the small matter of their trip to Griffin Park.

See you on Tuesday, Leeds United. I can’t wait for this one !!

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No room for bus stops in the Premier League? BS.

Nick Bruzon  

What would Peter do?

18 Jan

It’s very much two sides of the same Championship coin today. On the one, we’ve Brentford where victory at Huddersfield Town will take us to within four points of table toping West Bromwich Albion. On the other, there’s the somewhat distasteful situation at Loftus Road this lunchtime where Leeds United visit. Nobody ever, ever wants the home team to pick up points there yet, somehow, in this instance would it be the worst thing to happen? As for last night, there was the horror show at Neverland where Fulham hosted Middlesbrough. Not so much the narrowest of 1-0 victories for the hosts but the awful, awful reminder of clappers. If Matthew Benham is reading (unlikely, let’s be honest), please can we make sure that along with goal music and giant flags, these remain on the list of things NEVER to bring to Lionel Road. See also: foam fingers, run out music for the warm up, gin bars, neutral stands, light shows, giant statues of ‘suspect’ individuals.

First up, Brentford. There’s not too much to say on this one today. We know that with West Bromwich Albion playing on Monday night, there’s everything to gain should we get the win. Three points, obviously, but also another chance to increase the psychological pressure on the league leaders. Going into the latest round of fixtures, they’ve only managed to win once in their last 7(seven) league fixtures. Leeds United are once out of 6. It’s a figure we keep repeating but it’s one of vital importance and has seen that 12 point lead slashed. With both teams still to visit Griffin Park, that slim chance of automatic remains within our hands if they continue to assist by falling apart, again.

Which is all well and good but counts for naff all if we can’t complete our piece in the Championship equation. To be honest, even having this conversation seems bonkers but the table doesn’t lie. The Christmas period saw the play-off chasing teams start to get a little bit more clear air and now the focus is in knowing that wins allow us to keep looking upwards rather than over the shoulder. Last time out on the road saw the obliteration of Bristol City, 0-4 at Ashton Gate with Ollie Watkins grabbing a brace. His next goal, on Saturday against QPR, saw him draw level at the top of the divisional goalscoring charts with Aleksander Mitrovic. Today could see him stride clear.

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Ollie and the team are on a hot streak

Could. Of course, Huddersfield Town are no slouches. Anything but. We saw in November how they have set up and it wasn’t a great game. Brentford are designed to play free-flowing, attacking football with a rock solid core and defence. It’s fair to say on that afternoon, The Terriers embodied the term ‘industrial’. But, there’s no knocking them. Deep in the relegation they did what they had to and got the points. At the end of the day, Clive, the records books will show that they won. We lost. Knowing that you can be amazing is secondary if you are out played or outmuscled on the afternoon. Which is what happened and I won’t criticise anybody for doing what they need to do to win a game. No matter how desperate a spectacle it was for the home fans. Huddersfield didn’t care and why would they? Boot on the other foot and we’d rightly be celebrating the win. Frankly, if we don’t have the nous to get past that then we have to call it a learning curve and push on from there. Knowing that, at times, we won’t have everything our way.

To be fair, push on is what we’ve done. The quagmire of Millwall aside, it’s been nothing but great times for the last few months. The Bees have climbed the table and reeled in almost all above us. Only Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and (temporarily) Fulham remain. For all the cracks about the top two falling apart, even they’ll pick up the points this time around. QPR crumbled under the slightest pressure last week – blown over by a puff of wind – whilst West Brom face a Stoke City side that have just offloaded their most overlooked asset, Ryan Woods, to Millwall on loan.

I’d love to have gone in to today in third place but it makes no real difference. We’ll reclaim that spot with a draw or win and, being honest, watching the Fulham game last was one done very much with hands in front of the eyes. Not so much through concern about the result (they were always going to pick up points) but more because of the cringeworthy clappers. They were out in force, again, with Tarquin, Piers and the rest of the gang beating their flappers as though it was the most exciting thing since being invited into the audience of Mrs. Browns Boys. 

My word, does this club have no shame? And people wonder why they are considered a laughing stock. Clappers, foam fingers, bells, drums and flags belong where the sun don’t shine. Not in a football stadium. If you think these generate an atmosphere or are some sort of personality substitute then take a long, hard look.

As for the starters before the main course of Brentford – Huddersfield Town, there’s the small matter of QPR – Leeds United for lunch. I have to look long term here and hope for an away defeat, no matter how awful that may seem. I guess the question here is, ‘What would Peter do’?

It’s one we may have to ask…

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Could jigsaw side Leeds fall apart in the box, again?

Nick Bruzon

New decade. Same brilliance.

2 Jan

What a start to the New Year. A 4-0 win for Brentford at Bristol City about as comprehensive as they come. Robins’ manager Lee Johnson self-combusting in a full time Scrappy Doo impersonation that saw him red carded at full time for an altercation with Thomas Frank.  With Leeds United being held at West Bromwich Albion, the gap to the top two is back down to single figures. The Bees sit third in The Championship after Fulham lost at home. Millwall, Forest and The Cottagers making up the play-off places. Ollie Watkins back up to one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the divisional goal scoring charts after his brace rounded things off following early goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahma.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV this morning..

We’ve all see this one, presumably? Either as part of the thousand plus who travelled to Ashton Gate or via the red button on Sky. Yet some performances need to be chewed over once more, such was the manner of victory. David Raya set up the first goal with just 6 minutes gone. His enormo-clearance one that might have been selected at Millwall on Sunday. This time he called it right with a ball that must have carried close to three-quarters of the pitch before Ollie picked it off and danced through the visitors defence. They tried but couldn’t stop him and it slipped through for Mbeumo to dink home his tenth of the season.

1-0 and game on. 1-0 and man off. Ashley Williams was shown red just minutes after he and Ollie had both been booked for a coming together. A scything challenge on Watkins resulted in his ejection and with it, the home team’s chance. It was 0-2 moments later. Less than half an hour gone and Benrahma got the goal he’s been looking for in recent weeks. Daniel Bentley could only pat down a Jensen shot and, despite upending Ollie when clean though, was unable to stop Saïd from doing his thing. It all looked ridiculously easy. The decision to trade him in for David Raya being proven more and more an incredible piece of business with each passing game.

A tactical readjustment for the hosts saw them working their way back in to the game. Relatively speaking. They didn’t concede anything further up to half time and even looked vaguely threatening. Yet there was no way through, with one kamikaze backpass in the second period giving even more opportunity for Ollie to join the scorers. His goals eventually coming in the final ten minutes. The first, guiding home a tracer bullet of a cross from Jan Zamburek down the left. His second, capitalising on a Mads Roerslev  (in for Dalsgaard) assist from the other flank.  Bentley only able to parry his header and there was to be no mistake as the ball fell nicely. 4-0 and all done. Barring the full time whistle and Johnson’s punishment. 

It really was a stunning, stunning performance. Thomas Frank’s BMW front three once more driving us forward with speed, skill and flair. It’s hard to believe the Mbeumo is only 20. Amazing to see the advances to Ollie’s game. Saïd on song just speaks for himself. All three once more dividing the goals between them. Benrahama back to his sizzling best. One second half flick over his own head had to be seen to be believed. Filthy, audacious, taking the p. All three rolled up into one and served up with a side salad of confidence and self-belief. Truly, he is a talent to behold.

With that accursed transfer window now open for a month, hanging on to B, M and W will be huge. If we can do it. Yet with spirits high and the team storming the table, why would anybody jump ship now? Yes, I know money talks and this is the naivety of being a fan but the chance to see what this team could do in the second half of the season is an intriguing one.

The defence is tight (we are now clear in the fewest ‘goals against’ chart), the midfield dominant and the attacking trio electric. Leeds United continue to wobble. Their 1-1 with West Brom meaning its only been one win out of the last five for them. Even that needed a 95th minute own goal by Birmingham City to hand them the points after having shipped four themselves.I still think that top two would be Boys Own stuff, relying on a staggering run of favours, but as long as we keep on doing our thing then anything else is a bonus. The gap in the-play off zone is starting to grow with clear air now between us and seventh placed Sheffield Wednesday. Four points the difference and our staggering goal difference of +21 bettered only by West Bromwich Albion.

It is easy to get excited, no question, but why not? Why shouldn’t we enjoy the moment? This team and this performance has been building . The goals have been flying in for months. The team slowly climbing up the table. Sneaking under the radar, if you will, to emerge into 2020 with plaudits from all. We’ve got the FA Cup against Stoke City next and then a return to Griffin Park in the league where QPR visit for our next Championship fixture. With the Lionel Road season tickets also going on sale to us non-premiums, it promises to be an exciting week or two.

Then again, when isn’t it?

Nick Bruzon