Tag Archives: Centre Circle challenge

The time Peter Gilham saved Valentine’s Day.

14 Feb

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. For some, emotional blackmail. Held to ransom by the likes of Clinton Cards. For others a more personal time, when the date actually means something genuine. A time when Brentford took on Southend United at Griffin Park back in 2006. My first time officially ‘stepping out’ with the now (incredibly, still) Mrs. Bruzon. Rachel.

As a general rule I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Let’s just be clear on that front. What used to be a wonderful occasion of sending mysterious cards to secret crushes has now changed beyond compare. That ritual is more commonly known as ‘stalking’ these days whilst if you believe the hype from card merchants such as Scribbler, Moonpig and Keith Stroud, any failure to shower your other half with mass produced tat on the specific day they tell you to makes you some sort of marital flop or romantic wet fish. And that’s if you are even in a relationship. What must they think of singleton ‘failures’?

Yet nothing says ‘l love you’ less than buying a crappy bear holding a cushioned heart on February 14th. If you need to be told to buy a card or gift on one, specific day to prove your love for somebody then that relationship is already fatally holed below the waterline.

It’s up there with Christmas for the ‘Can I just check – were definitely not doing anything this year?’ stakes and mutual agreement is then made. I then bottle it though. Every year. And yesterday was no different. I wasn’t alone, either.

The card shop was a tapestry of indecision. The line of people too scared to jump first was already a dozen strong and this was ‪at 8am‬ . Oh my. The peer pressure. The looks. The risk of choosing the wrong card. And that was just from fellow shoppers. I chose after a good few minutes deliberation that felt like an eternity. It’s a fine line between slush and crudity but I think I got it right.

Immediately, the chap next to me who had been there even longer went for the same card. I’m not sure whether mine was simply fantastic or he was using me as some form of human shield to avoid the ongoing pressure from the queue of shoppers building behind. However, that’s  two of us either in the dog house or in our loved one’s good books today.

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The 8am deliberation

I did go back later in the day, during the lunch time sweet spot. Just for a look. Wow. Just wow. The queue was coming out of the door. I’d not seen this much dithering since Les Dennis doing his impression of Mavis from Coronation Street. Still, that was their problem, not mine. My work had been done. For now. 365 days until the next time.

Besides, nothing will ever beat our first Valentine’s Day together. As ever, my first true love (Brentford FC) came to the rescue of my now true love.

The date: February 14th 2006.

The occasion: Griffin Park for a league game with Southend United.

The time and place: Half time on the pitch.

Putting a romantic spin on things, the club had arranged for rival female supporters to participate in the greatest Half Time competition to ever exist : Centre Circle Challenge. And guess who was up for the Bees?

Imagine Rachel’s ‘surprise and excitement’ when I revealed how we would be spending our first public date (we’d only been courting for a short time at that point). At Griffin Park, with her having to face off to a rival fan from Southend in front of over 7,000 fans. Having to ping footballs from the corner of the penalty box to the sweet spot on the meridian line. In trainers. On a greasy surface. With the supporters baying at her to get her tips out (I presume they were asking for help with the football coupon)

To be fair, it was a lot better than the reaction to the card I got her (from The Jet garage on the high road) which had a footballer and the message ‘good luck’ on the front. This, rather than showering her in buckets of slush and heart bearing teddy bears. Who knew women liked that sort of stuff? Although I guess it helped sharpen her kicking skills for later.

This situation was going to take some salvaging. Fair to say, and understandably,  she was feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the choice of card. But then the football started. And half time came.

Being cheered on by 7000 fans and the ever dulcet Peter Gilham, Rachel triumphed. His words of encouragement helping guide her to a victory that had far reaching consequences. Her opponent, doing the walk of shame back to the away end. Rachel, beaming in the moment. Me, dodging a romantic quagmire as Valentine’s Day was saved.

As ever, a huge I can only say a huge thank you to Brentford FC every time I think of that evening. What a win for the Bees….

From such small steps huge things grow and so I’ll also say a massive ‘love you’ to Mrs. Bruzon. She has has put up with yours truly for a further 12 years. Despite the ongoing collection of shabby cards. And that deserves more than a signed football in anybody’s book.

Rachy ccc programme

From Centre Circle Challenge to almost 10 years of marriage – so far…

Nick Bruzon

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New look, new sounds and new hashtags as club get it right

18 Sep

Brentford play Preston North End on Saturday and it seems that, in the build up to the game at least, there are plenty of changes at Griffin Park. In what seems to be partly a response to the recent ‘match day experience survey’, the eagle eyed amongst you would have spotted all manner of new things in place for the weekend.

First up, the Braemar Road forecourt rebrand is now complete. The BRENTFORD FC Stingray font is gone and the new lettering is in place on the repainted main stand. Along, thankfully, with a club badge.

The club revealed their new look on Thursday

The club revealed their new look on Thursday

We’d had our suspicions as to how this was going to look during the week after chief executive Mark Devlin noted on twitter that, ”You won’t be surprised to learn that it will be in keeping with the new brand guidelines”. Whilst a phrase such as ‘new brand guidelines’ is normally one that strikes the same feeling of doom as “rail replacement bus service” or “Coming up next on BBC one, the Eastenders omnibus”, I have to say that this really bucks the trend.

Well done Brentford. The club has come up with a smart, new look. Certainly, much better than the somewhat dated, quasi-futuristic Stingray lettering that had aged as badly as Keith Richards. Whilst the stripes I had thought might also return are still absent from the paintwork, the all red look is still a great one.

Keith Richards - the musical equivalent of Stingray font

Keith Richards – the musical equivalent of Stingray font

As for the Preston game itself, first up is your chance to play DJ. The club has started to ask fans what music they would like to hear on Big B Radio. (This is assuming people can hear it – I note, also, they are currently asking for feedback on the new PA system). However, it’s something I’ve written about many times before. There’s no excuse for Barry Manilow at football – unless it’s Bermuda triangle (I don’t mean the defence) and, whilst I fully appreciate you are never going to please everybody, this is still a great way to try.

And, read this next bit carefully…. We have a hashtag that actually seems fit for purpose.

#BeeTheDJ does what it says whilst adding a nice bit of punnery. After the debacles of #trophyfriends and #bignewambitions (which, thankfully, appears to have been quietly shuffled off) another sign that the club do listen.

Don't take my word for it. Check out the Twitter hashtag

Don’t take my word for it. Check out the Twitter hashtag

But wait. Like an advert for cheap kitchen knives, there’s more. Centre Circle Challenge is back. Kind of.

I loved this event in the past. A home and away supporter would demonstrate who had the least bad kicking skills as they attempted to hoof the football as close as possible to the spot in the middle of the meridian line. All, of course, accompanied by the wonderful commentary skills of Peter Gilham – woebetide anybody with two left feet.

After an absence of a few seasons, this has been rebranded and now returns as ‘Bees Bowls’. From reading the blurb on the clubsite (and you can also apply to participate) the end goal appears the same – closest to the centre spot wins.As somebody who has formerly taken part in CCC with mixed fortunes – both reaching the centre spot aswell as falling flat on my backside in the tipping rain – I can only recommend this as being a great fan activity and would encourage supporters to give it a go.

Apart from being tremendous fun, it’s not often the Brentford family get a chance to grace the Griffin Park surface.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Nick Bruzon

It IS great fun - get applying

It IS great fun – get applying