Tag Archives: cap

From the best to the worst in football’s role of honour. Plus a new favourite site.

21 Mar

Whilst there were some Brentford fans upset about the recent sale of Scott Hogan to Aston Villa, one would hope that those concerns have now been dispelled. Ably abetted by the two amigos on the flanks, a rejigged formation and a great Dane up top, The Bees have money in the bank and 25 goals in the 11 games since the Scott moved to Villa Park. Things could have been a lot, lot worse as we’ll look at momentarily. At the other end of the field, there was great news for John Egan who was called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Wales.

Nobody could doubt John’s performances this season. At one point he was neck and neck with Scott to be our leading scorer whilst, more importantly, has forged a wonderful partnership with Harlee Dean at the back.

Brentford ‘official’ share the great news on social media

I don’t envy head coach Dean Smith having to crowbar the pair of them, Yoann Barbet and fellow international Andreas Bjelland into his team. Perhaps the quality at his disposal goes someway to explaining our mid-season persistence with three centre backs. It was a valid attempt but one which persisted for far too long as it became clear it wasn’t working.

Yet, and with the greatest respect to Yoann and Andreas, John and Harlee are – at least in my opinion – our absolute nailed on first choice centre backs. Harlee has been magnificent this campaign and, along with Dan Bentley and John Egan, remains in my top three for player of the season. Although had Jota returned a month or two earlier then that competition would be an even stiffer one.

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Jota – c/o Sky. Imagine if he’d come back earlier…..

So news of John’s call up yesterday was one that is thoroughly deserved but has only been a matter of time. John, if you are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) congratulations. As for Harlee and Dan, give it another season or two playing like this and their matching him on the International scene, for England, is well within the bounds of credibility.

Next up Twitter. A popular subject on these pages for many reasons. Ease of use, interaction with the actual players, Kitman Bob and his BBB giveaways, banter with fellow fans and the most immediate means of learning news updates are amongst the many reason for the site’s popularity here.

For Brentford supporters, there’s a recent addition to our family of familiar faces (© the Middlesex Chronicle big book of ’80s alliteration) out there in cyber space. Brentford Bot.

In their own words, “Judging Positive and Negative mentions of Brentford“.And that’s about all there is to it. But very, very well executed, often deadpan but sometimes laugh out loud funny and showing a tireless dedication to keeping the Bees family updated. I’ve no idea who the power behind the Bot is, but it’s well worth a follow. You can find @BrentfordBOT here.

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Brentford Bot does his/her/its (?) thing

Ok – striker sales. We talked at the top end about the departure of Scott Hogan to Aston Villa. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth need no reminding of what has happened in the past – Nicky Forster, Carl Asaba, Gary Blissett, Robert Taylor, Dean Holdsworth, DJ Campbell and even Andy Scott are amongst those who have been sold in their free scoring prime. Goals aside, the other thing connecting these players was their lack of a like-for-like replacement.

To be fair, how do you replace the likes of Deano, Bliss or the FT index? Even for the player, following a fan favourite and goalscoring legend must be thankless task. Yet when this goes wrong it can be truly horrific.

FourFourTwo magazine have just started to publish their list of every league club’s worst ever player. The initial instalment, in a series which is now running daily, runs from Accrington Stanley up to Bury, taking in the likes of Aston Villa, Bournemouth and of course Brentford along the way.

On the Bees front, it feels somewhat awkward badmouthing one of our own yet for whatever the reason we’ve had some players over the years who really haven’t shone. Past their prime, over weight, over rated or just really, really bad. It happens. It happens to every club. So when FourFourTwo approached yours truly for the name of the Griffin Park protagonist, it was one that eventually came about as a result of a public vote. Too much power should not lie with just one man.

It was a top five that included, in no particular order : Nick Proschwitz, Paul Davis, Murray jones, Neil Shipperley and Steve Claridge. Yet in the end the ‘winner’ was a clear one.

And you can find out who, here…

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Nick Bruzon

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Judge sends Switzerland down as an old friend returns

26 Mar

It would be wrong to start anywhere else today beyond offering a huge congratulations to Alan Judge after making his International debut last night, for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-0 home win over Switzerland. Joining an elite group that includes the likes of John Buttigieg and Gus Hurdle; Lasse Vibe and Stuart Dallas, Alan is now added to the roll of honour that lists Brentford players to have earned an International cap whilst plying their trade at Griffin Park.

This is a massive honour for Alan and due reward for his consistency in a season where, being honest, we haven’t hit the same heights as last time out for several well documented reasons. He has been our highest goal scorer and is the leading creator of ‘assists’ .

Indeed only David Button, in my opinion, can mount a challenge for ‘player of the year’ at the end of season awards – certainly in terms of consistency and quality. Without saying which my vote is going to go, I’d suggest it may be closer than some people might think. Certainly, it deserves to be.

This does also beg the larger question of what happens next (with apologies to anybody now traumatised by the thought of Sue Barker doing her cringeworthy ‘faux banter’ routine with Matt Dawson).

Given the number of sales Brentford had seen so far this season, most of us outside of club corridors were fully expecting Alan to leave in the January transfer window. That he didn’t was a huge relief although equally (and putting to one side some of the nonsense being written on certain ‘forums’), only the most optimistic of supporters expects him to be with us for the start of the next campaign.

A clear ability to play beyond this level, combined with the attention of Premier League clubs, will I am sure only hasten his departure. Chuck into the mix this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament where he should, at the least, be selected for his countries squad and it really will be time to start saying farewell.

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View from the Braemar – Alan Judge has shone for Brentford this season

This isn’t to wish him any ill will at all, quite the opposite. His promotion sealing penalty against Preston North End was the stuff of legend whilst he more than held his own last time out as Brentford stunned all comers to eventually finish fifth in the Championship table and come within a whisker of reaching the Premier League. Then we have this season where he has continued to shine despite what we shall politely call a winter of discontent to follow our summertime blues.

Instead, let’s just appreciate what we have whilst Alan is still here. I’d love to be proven wrong and see him with us next season but not even I’m that naïve. Sad though it is, I’m just being realistic. We have 9 games left to enjoy his talents (at least, in red and white) and trust he can play his part in The Bees securing those last few points needed to ensure Championship safety.

The other point of note from last night was away from the International scene and, instead, back home where Clem has returned to the public eye. Supporters may recall his work last season where his weekly appearances on The Football League show seemed to go hand in hand with jinxing whichever team he was featuring in role as roving reporter. Such was his bad luck that it inspired the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature which made up part of our own Championship season review.

Whilst the Football League show may have been replaced by Football on 5 this season, Clem is still doing his thing. Albeit on BT Sport where Friday evening saw him covering Tranmere Rovers v Lincoln City.

And whilst his win buster routine seems to have fallen by the wayside (Rovers eventually taking the points in a 3-2 victory), it seems he is still getting himself into hot water. Quite literally…

Nick Bruzon

A week of silence provides a gem from the archives

13 Oct

It really has been the archetypal ‘slow news week’. Despite what seems like an eternity since Brentford went down at Derby County, there are still another five days until the chance to get back to action when Rotherham United visit. Instead, it’s been a case of relying on the Rugby World Cup, EURO qualifiers and writing programme articles for the QPR and Nottingham Forest games, amongst others, for entertainment.

Even the club website has been somewhat thin on the ground when it comes to updates of substance. There are more facts coming out of North Korea (where it is currently ‘military parade’ season) than Griffin Park at the moment. That’s no particular fault of the club – it’s just one of the prices we pay for Championship fixtures being cancelled due to an International weekend.

North Korea - a cruel regime run by a crazed despot

North Korea – a cruel regime run by a crazed despot

This morning’s front page present a meagre crop of news, with the Vibe, Judge and O’Shaughnessy in action story being the main headline to grab the attention. Quite rightly, having three players selected for various levels of International duty is something to be proud of and full congratulations are due, to all the players involved – even if the facts behind the story are somewhat shy of the truth proclaimed in the headline.

By which I mean that despite declaring that the players were “in action” the story goes on to say that, “Lasse Vibe was an unused substitute” whilst “Alan did not make the final line-up”. When I hear the word ‘action’ I automatically think about crunching tackles, screaming goals, blistering pace and resolute defending. Not unused substitutes.

It’s a pedantic point and one that shouldn’t disguise the fact that Brentford have players this close to the finals of a major international football tournament. That in itself is an incredible achievement of how far this team has come, even if we aren’t quite firing on all cylinders at present. Instead, the point is made more to illustrate just how quiet things are out there in the media at present.

Indeed, this column has been on hold for the vast majority of the time since the Derby game. Equally, that’s been as much to do with just wanting to catch my breath after the maelstrom of recent events that saw two dreadful performances following the surprise axing of former head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen. That, for reasons which are still not clear beyond unspecified differences in approach to matter on the training ground.

Instead, I’ve been preparing the ‘Kit obsessive’ articles for the next few home games. Despite the Last Word being axed from the matchday magazine a few seasons ago (hence the current ‘online’ version) I’m very much enjoying the opportunity to write the usual nonsense about the best and worst of our opponents’ kits over the years.

It is a subject very close to my heart, as the regular reader will know about the ongoing search for an Osca 83-84 or the mythical Adidas 80-81 shirt to add to my own collection. With this quest still proving fruitless, it’s been really enjoyable digging into the historical kitbag of our rivals and looking at some of the best and worst in football fashion over the years.

Osca 83-84. One of the best/worst (delete as applicable ) shirts we've ever worn

Osca 83-84. One of the best/worst (delete as applicable ) shirts we’ve ever worn

And not just the fashions but how they were advertised. Whilst it’s a well-known fact that footballers can’t act or sing, despite numerous attempts to prove otherwise, the converse is true. Non-footballers certainly shouldn’t try and turn their hand to the beautiful game.

Researching the Nottingham Forest article, I stumbled across this beauty from the Umbro back catalogue. Decent kits, the home especially, but could the models look any more awkward?

Roll on the weekend, please. Proper football can’t return soon enough. For all our sakes.

The early 90s were lacking the slick professionalism of the present day.Thankfully

The early 90s were lacking the slick professionalism of the present day.Thankfully

Nick Bruzon

Getting a good vibe about The Hoff

24 Jul

With Brentford due to entertain Stoke City in Saturday’s friendly, could we have a new look centre forward pairing? For those unfamiliar with such a concept in recent seasons that’s two strikers, playing up front, together – at the same time. TW8 was gripped with excitement at the news that German Under-21 Philipp Hofmann has signed from FC Kaiserslautern.

Finally, an option to help support Andre Gray up front and of international calibre to boot. A player who participated in this summer’s U-21 tournament in Serbia, Marinus has described him as “a target man, physically strong, and a good header of the ball

The Hoff signs

The Hoff signs

For those of you with a statistical leaning, he comes in at 6 foot 4 and a half inches. Certainly the opposite to Andre Gray and very much in line with that description of his being a ‘target man’. And whilst, on paper, some aspects may put one in mind of a certain Nick Proschwitz, I’m fairly sure that’s where the analogies will end. You don’t represent your country all the way up from U-18 to U-21 without being ‘any good’.

The full story, for those who haven’t read it, is still on the club site where he is another addition to the lexicon of obvious descriptions. Chris Wickham’s article names him as, “The tall Germany Under-21 international “, (see also the oft used: long legged midfielder – Toumani).

The other piece of note from the article was his use of the baseball cap. Indoors. And backwards.

I’m certainly not down with da kidz but I’d always thought that, if one was to be worn, it had to be perched precariously on the head. Preferably at a jaunty angle. What a shame Richard Lee, of course of ‘Dr Cap’, fame is no longer with the club to put him right on such matters.

Personally, I think its just a shame that The Hoff didn’t pose in his club kitt.

Bad headlines await this season

Bad headlines await this season

In all seriousness though, Phillip looks like an excellent signing and I can’t wait to see if he makes his bow against Stoke tomorrow.

But wait. There’s more. Possibly. Rumours have been sweeping the Internet and Swedish media that the Bees are due to unveil another striker this morning (Friday). Is Danish international Lasse Vibe about to join us from IFK Göteborg?

I’m getting queasy just at the use of the word ‘international’ so many times in one page but, if this does unfold, will be another stunning statement of intent from Matthew Benham. The centre forward, who has 9 appearances under his belt for the national side, was a recent target for Reading and, supposedly, the Bees have fought off competition from Schalke for his signature.

He's got that Vibe

He’s got that Vibe

Will this transpire or is it going to be another rumour that falls flat? Well, Beesotted think its true and they, for me, have been the one source (outside of official ones, of course) to get all the summer transfer activity spot on.

That’s good enough for me. I’m already looking forward to those “Don’t hassle the Hoff” and “Good Vibes” headlines that one can only hope will follow.

Come for the puns – stay for the goals.

Nick Bruzon

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And , as ever , to read more about what Brentford have done over the last two seasons (through the eyes of a supporter) then the amalgamated Last Word compendiums  are available for your kindle. Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14) and Tales from the football village (2014/15) tell the full stories of our promotion and subsequent life in the Championship.

Featuring the best of the not so bad columns and some additional, previously unseen material, they’re still available for less than the price of a match day pie if you want some summer reading before the big kick off (™) arrives.