Tag Archives: chairman

Dear Phil, Cliff, Rasmus, Mark, Dean and BIAS…..

6 Sep

Wednesday morning. The internationals are done. The dust has settled on a transfer window that saw Brentford lose several B team players aswell as selling three of our crown jewels to Birmingham City. Likewise, picking up the likes of Neal Maupay, Kamo, Ollie Watkins and Henrik Dalsgaard (amongst others) earlier in the summer. We are all now well acclimatised to the fact that Lionel Road plans have been changed. Having had time to consider it all, are you happy with it all? Are Brentford well placed for the future? Is there anything you’d like to know ?

Well, as is now traditional, the club have announced a fan forum will take place this Thursday in The Hive from 7.00pm – 8.30pm. This is your chance to put any questions to a panel consisting of : Chairman Cliff Crown, Co-Directors of Football Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen, Chief Executive Mark Devlin and Head Coach Dean Smith.

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The forum has always had a strong panel

However much one can question some of the short term communication methods of the club (and I have previously), there’s no denial that the willingness to subsequently talk to supporters is something that the club embrace. This event has been called at fairly short notice but given the recent flurry of news then no bad thing. As anybody who attended the recent Lionel Road meeting would testify, you may not like everything you hear but you will be given a frank and open assessment of where we are. More importantly to many (myself included), some rationale as to why the club is making the decisions it does.

Personally, I’ve written two quite emotional columns in the last week. The first, in the direct aftermath of the transfer window closing. The second, a few days later once the video from Phil Giles had been released. Between them, they generated over 80 responses on the Last Word blog site alone. There were many more on Twitter and Facebook. That’s probably more in the last five days than the total received in the last five months.

This isn’t me blowing my own trumpet. Far from it. At the end of the day (Clive) I’m just the numpty on the terrace who shouts my mouth off every now and then. Many could relate to what I was saying. Some were scornful. Others read what they wanted to see rather than what had actually been written. All that is fine and fair. Opinion is a wonderful thing.

However, what it does show is how much Brentford fans care when something does happen that impacts us. That we all love this club – whether we feel it is being unjustly criticised or making decisions that, on the surface, seem contrary to what we have been told before or our own footballing progression.

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Jota. It really happened – and fans have been quick to debate

I’ll stick in the usual caveats at this point. That we should never, ever forget rattling buckets. That Matthew Benham has made huge and unprecedented investment in this club. That we all chose to surrender our BU shares in the face of financial oblivion and without that we’d likely have folded.  That we can’t compete financially with the vast majority of our Championship rivals. That it has been made clear Brentford are a selling club and this is our model.

Yet that doesn’t deny anybody the right to ask questions. To look at understanding things which, on the surface, seem at odds with how we see other clubs operate. To seek clarification from our club hierarchy as to things they may have previously said.

And the fact the people closest to Matthew are prepared to put themselves in the firing line is something we should only applaud. The forum has always been a great event although, sadly, one I’m unable to attend this time around due to a longstanding prior commitment that I’ve been unable to weasel out of at this late stage.

Fortunately, the option to position questions in advance is there. If not through official channels (currently, although they do always open this up on the night)  then BIAS are certainly collating these in advance on behalf of fans. As such, if anyone from the club or BIAS is reading then here are a few from myself. If any could be answered that would be hugely appreciated.

1:Norwich City are 4/5 on to beat Birmingham City this weekend (price supplied by club sponsor LeoVegas). Will any of the panel be placing a bet?

2: It is not an option to not be in the Premier League. It has to happen in the next three years…. At the moment there is no Plan B. We’ll be in the Premier League in three years.

Not my words but those of Rasmus Ankersen at the September 2015 forum. That time comes to an end this season. Is it a position the panel stand by or one that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, we may wish to reconsider?

3: Is there now a Plan B ?

4: “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.

Not my words but those of Rasmus Ankersen at the September 2015 forum. Whilst we have undoubtedly invested in potential the new signings are all that – new.  To lose three such influential and settled players would be a huge blow . Do we honestly feel that the squad is currently stronger ?

5: How is the money spent? The fees for Jota, Hogan, Andre, Maxime and Harlee are believed to be well over £33m. How is this split between the future of the club, paying back Matthew the vast amounts he has invested and ongoing costs?

6: Why don’t the club disclose fees? Instead fans are left (in Phil’s words) ‘deflated’ whilst we have to rely on rumour, gossip and potentially incorrect data. If nothing else, it might give fans a clearer idea of how well we are doing in terms of transfer activity

7: ”Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.”  Not my words but those of Phil Giles. That’s a massive gamble if the appropriate offers don’t come in at the 11th hour. Are we only selling at the end of the window on purpose? Did realistic offers for Max, Harlee, Jota and Scott Hogan come in earlier?

8: Are the panel fans of the current transfer window system?

9: Selling three of our best players to one Championship rival. Was that a strategic decision? Or did leaving things late leave us no choice?

10: Back in September 2015 you sat here and poured forth about how wonderful Marinus was. A head coach who had picked up five points from his first five games. Just a few days later he was gone. Dean’s team currently have two points from our first five games. How do you compare the respective starts and is there any danger of another change ? (for the record, I hope not).

Here’s to this Thursday. For those of you who can make it then enjoy. And for those who can’t, please don’t forget to tweet BIAS should there be anything you wish to ask.

Cliff, Mark, Rasmus, Phil and Dean. Thank you.

Nick Bruzon

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Who wants it most? There’s all to play for in West London today.

29 Apr

What a few days. There have been awards, goal of the season and of course a game or two coming up with Saturday seeing a huge day for West London football. Brentford travel to Fulham, hot on the heels of last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. It was an encounter which saw Jota’s latest stunner wrap up the points in a game where, at times, we played some quite sumptuous football yet at others Dan Bentley and the linesman kept us in it. However, the net result was anther three points for the Bees and QPR still flirting with relegation. As for Fulham…..

Well, what can you say? They are in with a very real chance of making the play offs, as it stands, and have even finished above Brentford for the first time in three seasons. The table doesn’t lie and they’ve slowly reeled in Leeds United et al to finally break into the top 6. A derby day win for them will all but mathematically see that play off spot guaranteed, with the gap to 7th (seventh) currently 3 points and +13 goal difference.

But Brentford have their own motivation. Fulham’s win at Griffin Park earlier this season was as decisive as a 2-0 scoreline could be. Much as it pains me to admit, they were one of the better teams to come to this part of West London and we were very much left in second place that night.

Equally painful, it saw their first win over us since both teams returned to the Championship – albeit from different directions. Prior to that one, 2014/15 had seen Jota do his thing in the last minute at Griffin Park and that screamer from Stuart Dallas very much the pick of the bunch in a 4-1 rout at The Cottage. Last time out, only an errant linesman denied us all three points away from home with Jota ruled offside as he headed it in for 3-2. The return fixture saw the season come to an end in some style – Tom Field making his debut and Sam Saunders getting us of to a flier as we were three goals clear by half time to comfortably wrap up the points.

View from the stand - Stuart Dallas celebrates doing that thing.....

View from the terrace – Stuart Dallas after doing that thing at The Cottage…

The Bees were crowned Kings of West London. Again. Then this season happened. With David Button between the sticks, Fulham have had the honours.  A return to winning ways will be very much the requirement. The possibility of a nil points against these neighbours, moreso given such strong previous form, is just not on the agenda.

Then there’s the current table. The Bees are just two points and one place off last season’s points total with the potential to finish a place higher than our previous 9th. What a wonderful incentive to go for it. And that’s without pooping a party.

For the last month or so it has become apparent that Fulham are heading upwards. Crashing this one and doing Leeds United a favour, no matter how distasteful that might seem, is a very real possibility and has long been something many fans have been aware of. Now the game is here and that chance is available for both teams. Who will take it? At 3pm we find out….

As for QPR, they host fellow bottom six side Nottingham Forest still needing two points to guarantee safety (third bottom Blackburn, needing two wins themselves, have too close a goal difference for a draw to be sufficient). With Rangers in freefall, current form of LLLLLL leaves them with nobody to blame but themselves for their predicament.

Much as the situation is a novel one, they won’t go down. Birmingham City are just horrific whilst Blackburn still need six points from a season that concludes with a trip to Griffin Park That said, wins today for Mark Warburton, Birmingham and Blackburn could make the final round of games very interesting indeed.

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Can Fulham make the play offs, Brentford beat last season or QPR stay up?

All that of course is to unfold later today. However, there’s been plenty to keep us intrigued over the last few days. Alongside the Player Of The Year vote, supporters are now able to nominate their winner for goal of the season.

Oh, wow. If picking POTY was tough then this is another level of hard. I struggled to draw up a shortlist, let alone select a winner. They are, all ten, corkers. The build up play and finish for Josh Clarke v Reading, Nico’s piledriver in the Birmingham City game, Lasse Vibe finishing off the most incredible run from Sergi Canos at Forest or Jota’s recent pair against Derby County and QPR.

In the end, it’s just been an excuse to watch the video again. And again. The level of Burridgegasm also being an added help. The more excitable our commentator par-excellence gets, the better the goal seems to be has become a handy yardstick when trying to rank these in some sort of order.

In the end, I’ve voted. It had to be Jota. It had to be QPR. Derby County was that close and I’ve swung back and forth between the two of them yet, in the end, the way he collected Nico’s wonderful pass was the deciding factor.

That’s my opinion. Yours will quite likely, and quite rightly, be different. All we can say for sure is that whoever gets it will be a worthy recipient. You can see the video below and vote here.

Which is top of the pile?

Next up, awards. It was a double celebration for the club yesterday as the EFL have awarded us both their Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season aswell as the Friendliest Club Staff Award. Particular recognition has been given to both the ticket office staff and the stewards in the family enclosure.

One can’t begin to stress how deserved these awards are. Part of the pleasure in supporting Brentford FC comes from our wonderful family atmosphere. The club, players and staff cannot do enough for supporters – of all ages. The ‘meet the players’ pre-season event and Junior Bees Christmas party are staples on our calendar whilst who doesn’t get excited, young or old, when receiving a high five or fist bump from Buzz and Buzzette?

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Buzzette always makes time for fans – of all ages

The players and staff never fail to stop for an autograph or photo  – whether in the ground or in the street – an attitude that courses through all echelons of club. We’ve had supporters heavily involved in the kit launch this season whilst the care and attention shown to the match day mascots is just staggering.

What could have been quite an intimidating experience for a three year old – walking out in front of over 10,000 supporters – turned into one of the best days of his life. Big thanks there, again, to Harlee Dean and apologies once more for the lollipop covered hands you had to hold walking out (that’s HB, not me).

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The smile says its all (apologies again for the sticky fingers)

Then you’ve got kitman Bob Oteng. His own BBgiveaway is the stuff of legend but even outside of this he is a cult figure among Bees fans. His reaction to those who regularly sing his name at away games as he goes where he wants on the visitor’s pitch is always wonderful. Even the likes of Chief Executive Mark Devlin, Chairman Cliff Crown or Mr Benham himself consistently take time to respond to and interact with fans on social media.

As for the ticket office staff ! Special mention and rightly so. We’ve all had some form of interaction with them. We all know just how incredible the level of service they offer is . We all know how consistently friendly and helpful they are. Doing what could be deemed a somewhat stressful job – given how demand often outstrips supply – isn’t something I’d be able to cope with.

I could go on. But instead, why not read the official take on the awards which you can find on Brentford ‘official’?

And finally, Billy Reeves & Grown Men In Tears have closed the door on the Welcome Home, King Jota charity single. The video has come down from YouTube and the song is no longer available for download.

The net result has been a donation of £350 for Prostate Cancer Research. As Billy noted himself on Twitter yesterday, “not bad 4 an arvo’s fun

Not bad indeed, Billy.

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Billy shares the news, and the love, yesterday

Nick Bruzon

The Bluetones, Hard-Fi and Theaudience form Staines supergroup in honour of King Jota.

17 Apr

With Brentford travelling to Barnsley today you might expect the normal prematch nonsense. Hot off the heels of Friday’s hammering of Derby County, where a brace apiece from Lasse Vibe and the talismanic Jota saw pun writers having a field day, it would be the perfect time to ‘go again’ with the big game build up. Yet headlines including Demolition Derby. Rams to the Slaughter. Silence of the Rams. Rams Raided and my own personal winner –  Bees guilty of battering Rams etc etc etc tell you all you need to know about that one. Poor Barnsley. If Brentford put in even half that performance then the Tykes would probably be better focussing on the half time mascot race between Toby and Buzz.

So we’ll leave the football for now. At least, the on pitch stuff. One of the things I love about Brentford is that everybody knows everybody. One minute you could be outside the pub with your regular match day friends, then next you find yourself talking to jumper man, having Harry Potter bawling in your ear or Billy Grant waving a microphone in your face. You see Natalie Sawyer walking past. Chairman Cliff Crown stops for a chat. Look over there, Marcus Gayle is holding court. And isn’t that Richard Archer out of Hard-Fi talking to him? Alongside Adam Devlin from one of my all time favourite bands, The Bluetones. All we need is Cameron Diaz for a full house. Although, sadly, that’s a spot that will have to go on hold (at least, for now) due to well documented reasons.

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Jumper Man – one of many familiar Brentford faces

But the point being this is all run of the mill stuff. Between 2pm and 7pm on a Saturday afternoon we’re all Brentford fans. Whoever you are and whatever happens outside the confines of Griffin Park is stuff for another day. For now, a love of the Bees unites us all as the great and good rub shoulders and enjoy the vibe.

But today we should think about what happens outside of Griffin Park because word reaches me, perhaps appropriately on Easter weekend, of a Holy Trinity coming together. A musical Holy Trinity or, if you will, a so called supergroup.

A power trio comprising Devlin (Adam, not chief executive Mark), Richard Archer and the one time musical cohort of Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Billy Reeves. The very same Billy Reeves these days more commonly known for his wonderful work with BBC Radio London.

Yes, Billy is at it again. The man who brought us the uber catchy ‘Hey! Championship!’ to celebrate our promotion from League 1 and follow up single ‘Goodbye Mark Warburton’ has now linked up with the aforementioned musical wing men to form Grown Men in Tears –   Staines’ answer to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The product of this output is ‘Welcome Home, King Jota’  – quite possibly Billy’s finest end of season song to date.

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Grown Men in Tears. (l-r) Archer, Devlin, Reeves.     c/o The Jolly Baker, Ashford

Kudos to Adam and Richard. With added glockenspiel and flamenco guitar outro it really is Billy’s crown jewel. How catchy. Oh that chorus. Oh, the namechecking in the lyrics.  “He opens up his legs, puts in a corner, for Harlee Dean’s big head” being amongst the finest and, yet, slipping into the verse as deliciously as the King himself playing the ball over.

Oh that chorus. The harmony. I Love it. Absolutely love it. What starts off with a slightly melancholic air quickly turns into an ear worm that burrows in deep and won’t let go. A perfect 3 minutes 58 seconds of music that is as silky smooth as the man himself. Even better, its all for charity with all proceeds going to Prostate Cancer UK Charity. Move fast, though – the single will only be available for one week (as a download, 79p) via Billy’s twitter page https://www.twitter.com/TheBillyReeves  and is released April 21st.

Come for the Hard-FI / Bluetones connection, stay for musical genius.

Jota – if you are reading (you aren’t) the Brentford family love you. If this doesn’t tell you, nothing will.

You can watch the video and hear the song below. Then rush out and buy it on the 21st for just 79p. Its all for charity, mate. And isn’t it brilliant?

Big love and thanks to Mark Fuller for the video montage. What a lotta Jota 

If you are concerned about prostate cancer or prostate problems then the Prostate Cancer UK charity can help. They provide a range of information and support so you can choose the services that work for you. All their services are open to men, their family and their friends. Via their ‘Men United’ campaign they are working with the Football League to raise awareness and money.

Nick Bruzon

Wonderkid? Wonderful. Brentford, Sky, Mark and Natalie give us all some food for thought.

1 Mar

Are there any scarier words in the English language than, ‘Issues film’? Well, perhaps “Rail replacement bus service” or “Coming up next, Mrs Browns Boys”  but the thought of a film highlighting any issue in society (regardless of the subject matter itself) isn’t one that is, if we’re being honest, most of us would probably make a beeline to ahead of an ‘Escape To Victory’ or ‘Moonraker’. Who would substitute entertainment and escapism for self-reflection and being forced to think? Yet with Brentford FC already showing their support of Football v Homophobia month and promoting the Rainbow laces campaign (amongst other things), the club have now taken another step forward whilst helping to challenge such ideas.

Last night’s screening of the film WONDERKID, in conjunction with Sky Sports at their on site cinema – looking at the issue of homophobia in football – was simply invigorating. And, let’s be clear, thoroughly entertaining. “Thought provoking stuff” said our host for the evening Natalie Sawyer on more than one occasion. And wasn’t she right?

Look, I’m not going to overly preach about homophobia or LGBT rights. In my eyes it ’s very black and white. Anybody who thinks cowardly, hateful comments and actions as a response to something as irrelevant as somebody’s sexual preference are appropriate – whether in person or on social media  – needs to step back into the Dark Ages. Lecture over.

However, it was so refreshing to see our own conceptions challenged in the film, to hear the comments from the audience and, perhaps most importantly, sit in on the post-screening discussion which included, amongst others, Sophie Cook from Bournemouth and our own Mark Devlin.

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Natalie leads a thought provoking discussion

Mark quite rightly noting the good work already being done by Brentford in this field, something which it is still in its infancy. Talking of how, with one supporter already banned, the aim is ‘zero tolerance’. Zero. Tolerance. That’s a big statement to make but a very pleasing one to hear.

Mark spoke of how he is looking to encourage fans to report instances of abuse – for example through the ‘kick it out’ app. Of how great it was to receive emails praising the club for the lack of any of that ‘oh so tedious’ (my words) chanting against Brighton this season.

Fairplay to Mark, too, for noting the club has been accused of simply ’ticking a box’ in the past when approaching such issues. Whether this is true or not, we are where we are and, in my personal opinion, that is well ahead of so many other clubs – both in terms of the attitude and display from the vast majority of our own fans aswell as our own ambitions. The question being how do we push on from here? Mark, I guess that’s why you are the chief executive and I’m just the numpty on the terrace.

I sincerely hope the panel discussion is shared on Brentford’s social media platforms today. It really is well, well worth a look, especially some brave, yet also wonderfully positive input, from Sophie. As is the film (starring Chris Mason as ‘wonderkid’ McGuire) which I came out of as intrigued in how the plot would continue as in the subject matter itself.

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Natalie Sawyer with Wonderkid ‘McGuire’.

Huge thanks to everybody at the football club and Sky Sports for last night’s event. How nice to see all our high profile club figures and groups represented. As well as Natalie and Mark, amongst others also present were film director Rhys Chapman, the LGBeeT group, Chairman Cliff Crown, the B Team, many of the first XI, the media team, Beesotted, BIAS and Brentford guru Tom Moore from Get West London. As were the fans, of course.

And, likewise, a special thanks to Cliff who gave an insight as to what he had been up to this weekend. The previous column noted his appearance at Wembley stadium for the EFL final, sitting at the front of the Royal Box in his Brentford jacket. Well, rather than a hitherto unheard of connection to the monarchy, this was due to his role on the board of the EFL.

How good that the club have a voice in such a place of influence. With the subject matter of homophobia one at the forefront of our discussion, this is more than timely.Keep up the great work, Cliff

And, of course, keep up the great work Brentford.

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Nick Bruzon  

A sight for sore eyes or should we be worried? Just what to believe?

4 Jan

A day of mixed news for Brentford yesterday. The much expected and equally feared sale of Scott Hogan took another turn with a national paper – The Guardian – reporting that Watford have joined West Ham et al in the queue for the free scoring frontman. Further, they have supposedly put forward an initial bid of £8million.

If true it’s an offer, I suppose. Albeit a laughable one in the current market for a player in such prolific form. The 24 year old has been scoring for fun – both at the back end of last season and picking up where he left off this time around. But then again, we all know this and we all know the stats. Whilst nobody is expecting Scott to remain a Bee forever, if Watford want to drive the price up in the short term then at least it may help fund further business.

With co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen teasing FCM supporters (the club where, of course, he is also chairman) with the promise of transfer news he has also promised the same to those at Griffin Park. That said, there’s no news as to which direction.

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If it is inwards, Sergio Canos was just one of the names on everybody’s lips yesterday. He’s barely been given a look in at Norwich this season whilst few could forget what he did for the Bees last time out. Surely this is just supporter ‘wishful thinking’ though?

Likewise, Ben Stevenson at Coventry City where Sky Sports claim we have bid for him whilst City boss Russell Slade has been quoted as saying he’s “not heard of any concrete bids” – despite benching the 19 year old midfielder for their recent game with Bolton Wanderers. I’m sure we’ll be celebrating like we’ve won the FA Cup if that one transpires to be correct.

Who knows though? Transfer rumours are always rife at this time of year now that the window has opened. It was once said,  “You won’t get official confirmation of anything from a fanzine”. That’s as may be but it doesn’t stop us reading them, the local and the national press for news of our team. Although we don’t, usually, focus on such speculation on these pages the Hogan story is just too big to ignore (whilst I’d be more than partial to a bit of Sergi.)

The one thing we can say for sure is that both Jota AND Alan Judge are back in training at Jersey Road. And isn’t that a sight for sore eyes. Brentford official published a series pf photographs yesterday on Twitter (some below) to show these two most popular of players doing their thing back in training. The sight of Alan running and turning was  hopefully one for the benefit of fans rather than any other clubs who may be watching.

Assuming the former then THIS is the sort of official anything I can well get behind. Here’s hoping we see them both in the red and white soon. Rather than in the shop window…

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Jota was pictured on official Twitter….

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….as was Alan Judge

Nick Bruzon

Brentford make big reveal as two come in ahead of Burton Albion on Saturday

9 Dec

So it was all change at Brentford yesterday. Kind of.  With Burton Albion the visitors this Saturday, and the hope that  we’ll start to bounce back lying heavy in the air following a dismal run that has most recently seen the 5-0 thrashing at Norwich, it was press conference day.

Top of the agenda was surely the arrival of Danish coach Thomas Frank in the role as a co-assistant head coach to Dean Smith, alongside Richard O’Kelly. How his addition helps the Bees will only be seen over time but Dean clearly sees it as a good decision. A post match meeting with the owner this week has revealed the admission that : “I was with Matthew Benham on Monday and he is very positive about us moving forward, as are the Directors of Football”.

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Thomas Frank joins the team. Christmas presence for Dean

Three days later, this is announced. Presumably, though, something that has been some time in the planning, given Thomas was chosen by a panel led by Dean but which included several others including our co-directors of football . As ever, the whole thing is on ‘official’.

Having previously had the managerial hot seat at Brøndby, Thomas left in March after Danish newspapers discovered that the club’s chairman Jan Bech Andersen had adopted a  false name and gone onto an internet fans forum to criticise him. Specifically, Frank’s management of the club.  Regardless of the fact that I can’t imagine a scenario where the host of our own fan forum pulls off a rubber mask, Scooby Doo style, to reveal he’s actually Cliff  Crown or even Mr Benham (if for no other reason then there isn’t a cache of Confederate gold hidden under Griffin Park) this can only be a win-win for the Bees.

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I’d have got away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling journalists

Let the Danes shoot themselves in the foot. Their loss is our gain if the press conference is to be believed, with the key strength Thomas bringing being his ’skill set’ .

Certainly, it seemed to be ‘phrase of the day’ (replacing ‘blip’ from last week).  And even better, not a hashtag in sight to #welcomeThomas. Nice work, all round. Here’s to seeing if Thomas can have an immediate impact at the weekend

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The other arrival was that of our new ‘app’ for iPhone and the other one (Sorry, can’t mention it by name – hate the format. Awful, awful devices). Having had a look around on this already, I have to say it’s great. A very impressive product and all that better that it’ll cost you absolutely nothing . If only the main club website was this intuitive, clean and easy to use (although, equally, we aren’t alone in suffering the contractual obligation of the current template). You can get it now and, in a day for plugging ‘official’, you can find the links to the app there.

Here’s hoping to see how it holds up in a live game environment on Saturday agasint Burton Albion. Then again, one could say the same about the team.

I’m sure we’ll all be just fine. Here’s to three points.

Nick Bruzon

Book ’em, Danno. Not today. But if anybody knows where we can get a pizza…?

18 Sep

Well wasn’t that the game that had it all? A 5-0 win for Brentford. Visitors Preston ending the game with just 10 men on the pitch yet, for once, this wasn’t the fault of referee Keith Stroud. A hat-trick for Scott Hogan, taking him to 13 goals in 12 Championship games. Another clean sheet and the Bees into the play off zone. A current goal difference of +8 now only bettered by Newcastle United of all our league rivals.

Yet the final score of 5-0 wasn’t as apparent as it might have seemed at one point. Preston more than matched Brentford team who were, perhaps, suffering some tired legs following Wednesday night’s exertions at Aston Villa. Likewise, I’d imagine the first team didn’t get back to Griffin Park until Thursday – whether due to an overnight stay or simply the horrendous gridlock caused by the M6 closure that blighted just about every road user

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…..

 

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View of the terrace. The pressure builds in front of a packed home end

 

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Keith leads the line. Dance

 

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How many goals did we score?

Nick Bruzon

 

Club gives the verdict on Holloway as fans forum reveals key updates

2 Aug

With our Championship campaign kicking off on Saturday, Brentford continued pre-season preparation with the regular fans forum last night. A panel of Cliff Crown, Dean Smith, Mark Devlin, Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen took questions from those in attendance whilst our host for the night, the inimitable Peter Gilham, fired the questions sent in over social media from a global audience. With Newcastle United, QPR , Ian Holloway and, of course, Lionel Road all up for discussion, what did we learn?

Firstly, how key Peter is to the club. Traffic delays meant proceedings were delayed until he made his entrance, mic in hand, doing a wonderful walk-and-talk. He hadn’t even reached his seat at the top table and we were off.

The panel, only missing missing Matthew Benham for a full house in ‘top brass bingo’ , were as open as ever. There were several unexpected nuggets of information in an hour and a half that showed just how willing to engage our club can be.

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the panel line up

The panel all have “realistic” hopes of a top 6 finish in a Championship that Mark Devlin sees the inclusion of Newcastle and Aston Villa as adding a rich pageantry. All, that is, except head coach Dean Smith who stuck his head on the block and suggested he’d have to go for the same 1st place that he’s told his players he is aiming for. No pressure , Dean! At 33/1, I’ll have some of that . Certainly better value than the 15/8 currently available for every pundit’s favourite, Newcastle.

Dean also acknowledged that he was very disappointed with the performance against Millwall. And that the players knew this. However, what was pleasing is that we have been creating chances.Besides, he never really pays too much notice to results over this period – a sentiment I, for one, concur with.

On the playing front, Lewis Macleod has really impressed. A player described by Dean as “excellent”, adding that “he looks a really exciting player”. We are yet to pick a captain but the selected candidate is likely to be one who will feature in the majority of games.

Whilst Dean is still considering his squad options, with the Huddersfield game less than five days away, surely that decision will be imminent? Harlee Dean, Ryan Woods or Sam Saunders surely in line for the armband, based on that logic.

Andy Gogia looks like he is heading out on loan whilst Jota remains available for recall. Although we are in touch with him, Phil acknowledged that the best thing for the player at the minute is to remain in Spain. Jota is somebody I’d love to see back but, sadly, the language being used about personal circumstances and respecting privacy suggests that it is a forlorn hope and the player’s future will lie in Spain. This, something I’d happily be proved wrong on!

Jota corner short?

Jota – when will we see you again?

The big three questions of the night (we’ll overlook the shirt talk) were, in no particular order, :

QPR – will we celebrate their failure to take over the club 50 years ago? An anniversary that comes up in March of this season.

Cue the microphone being thrust immediately to Chief Executive Devlin (no idea why) who confirmed that whilst celebrate might not be the word, it was certainly an occasion we would look to mark. Likewise, our 4000th league game which will take place agasint Barnsley in October. For the record, Peter Gilham did then confirm that “the word IS celebration, by the way

Next up. Lionel Road. No immediate progress although Cliff confirmed that the GVD (general vesting declaration) had been issued on Friday, following the CPO. This, followed by the air of caution that, “These things do take quite some time” .

It was a sentiment echoed by Mark Devlin, given how we are “Inching towards the new stadium”. As such, he has already been speaking to the football league about a dispensation for Griffin Park in order to maintain the current set up next season. That said if we do have to put seats behind the goals then the costs and reduced capacity (down by about a thousand) are already known. Let’s just hope commons sense prevails if Lionel Road is clearly under way by that point.

But THE big one was all about former Bee, Ian Holloway. What did the panel think of his tipping Brentford as a club that was regressing and one who he saw finishing in a relegation spot this time around? He also made the bold prediction of Newcastle United winning the league.

The response to this was a unanimous one. Hardly surprising but great to hear. “ I just think it proves he doesn’t know a great deal about football, especially in West London” was the frank response from Chairman Crown. A similar observation came from Mark Devlin, who noted,  “Who cares what pundits say” whilst Phil was a bit more diplomatic, noting that Ian had commentated on the Bees in two very poor performances last time out. Perhaps that had crept into his prediction?

But it was Rasmus who came out with the zinger of the night. Fusing corporate with club, his observation on the former QPR man’s prediction of  22nd was a simple:  “Thats not what Smartodds says”.

As ever, a huge THANK YOU to the club for hosting this event. No question was off limits and the vibe really was positive one. It was, as ever, a unique opportunity to question those at the top.

Let’s hope their faith in the squad is rewarded when the action begins once more this Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Can Greg, the FA and football figures follow PSV?

19 Jun

Not much to say today. Indeed, I wasn’t even going to bother until this crossed my desk. We’ve probably all had our fill of the non-football stories from the Euros.  England fans are being provoked – England fans have a minority of morons amongst 30,00 well behaved fans; Wales fans were brilliant – Wales fans were anti-England; French ultras and Russian thugs have been ruining the party for everyone . Likewise, the media circus following the throng and looking to magnify any incident out of all proportion.

Talking yesterday to an England supporter who had just returned to Brentford, the verdict was one of : there had been incidents, but they were easy enough to avoid and just enjoy the party if you wanted to.

All well and good. Unless you were there without an agenda, few will be in a position to make a full judgement about the relative innocence/guilt of the respective sets of supporters.

And I don’t want to. I’ve had enough of it. Moreso, the refugee baiting that has gone on. This wasn’t provocation from gum shield sporting ultras, self-defence from flying tables or just old-fashioned drunken fisticuffs. It marks, in however limited a form, a somewhat sickening style of behaviour spreading around the European football scene.

Call it bullying, racism, intolerance or whatever. Taunting refugee children with coins or making seven year olds down beer or smoke cigarettes for money and ‘comic effect’ (amongst just some of the awful things we’ve seen) is just wrong. Very wrong. And indefensible. Regardless of your thoughts about the political situation is this anyway to behave or represent your club/country?

And what should the club / country do about it? If they even care?

Well, PSV Eindhoven had a similar challenge prior to their Champions League game against Atlético Madrid in March. Their fans were roundly vilified for throwing coins and mocking the homeless in an act subsequently termed – Poverty as a spectacle.

Fairplay to the club for, at least, issuing a statement vowing to track down those responsible. Unless I’ve missed it, the FA have done nothing since the recently published footage of England supporters engaging in similar acts.

Greg Dyke – if you are reading (unlikely), how about it? Will you say anything ? Even just signing the petition that has sprung up ?

Or will everybody just stick their head in the sand and pretend nothing has happened? Hey, perhaps we all just imagined it.

Anyway. That’s me done.

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 09.05.26

Nick Bruzon

Derby not the only Casualty as Wigan lose out on ‘chant of the year’

18 May

As with yesterday, Brentford know another Championship opponent for next season after the play-offs claimed another victim (although it was a lot tighter than most neutrals imagined). Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United went to incredible lengths to distract people from talking about ‘that bomb’ whilst, apparently, Will Grigg is still on fire. Amongst other things.

Where to start though ? Why not Manchester United, given how ‘the bomb that never was’ (thankfully) has dominated the news these last few days. Well, their abandoned game with Bournemouth took place last night and, on the pitch, whilst the 19-0 ‘spoiler’ that would have kerplunked Manchester City for the final Champion’s League spot never happened, Louis van Gaal’s team got the  win that most people expected.

This, even if Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal denied his own ‘keeper, a share of the Premier League’s ‘golden glove’ for most shut outs in the season. Petr Cech beating David de Gea to the award by 16 clean sheets to 15. (Stop sniggering at the back. And the Ethiad).

But it was pre-kick off where my social media timeline awoke from it’s pre-kick off slumber. Specifically because United had decided to paint three of their child mascots blue.

Not in some sort of homage to neighbours City but, infact, to promote the forthcoming X-Men film. Ironically, a film I’d imagine most of them aren’t even old enough to watch judging by the photograph which appeared c/o Telegraph football’s Twitter feed.

Telegraph x-men mascots

This really happened….

As marketing decisions go, it’s one that seems to rank alongside our own #bignewambitions . Certainly in terms of the bizarre, if nothing else. Whilst you have to say that it did get people talking is there no length they won’t stoop to in order for a bit more commercial revenue ? Body painting children in the colours of your arch rivals to promote a movie?

As one twitter wag noted, “let’s hope they didn’t have to stay painted from Sunday”.

Still, if all of this distracted people from Bournemouth’s chant of the season in  “Shall we check the bogs for you?” then who am I to criticise?

And as a side note, congratulations to Bournemouth in defying the expectations of just about every critic and amateur pundit in securing a second series  season in the Premier League. Despite playing what would seem to be fast and loose with the FFP rules on the way to beating us to a promotion spot last season, like Leicester City they have still punched well above above their expected weight this time around. Here’s hoping we can join them again soon.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of this. Another Tuesday night saw another surrendering of the remote control to Mrs. Bruzon for Holby City. It’s all about the trade off and saving the zapper for ‘the big games’ . Besides, as we all knew, there was nothing interesting going to happen in the Man U game whilst Derby County had no hope in the play-offs at Hull City AFC after going down 3-0 in the first leg at home.

And yet again another example of why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of pundit, manager, informed observer or football fan with half a brain. With just over half an hour on the clock, Derby had swept into a two goal lead .

Could the impossible actually happen? No. Mrs Bruzon wouldn’t surrender the remote. And on pitch, things remained the same. Meaning Hull go though 3-2 on aggregate whilst, for Derby, it was a third successive capitulation in the most heartbreaking of knock out tournaments.

As with Brighton in yesterday’s column, it is a pain us Brentford fans can well relate to. On the plus side, for us, another good away trip to add to the calendar next season as at least one lengthy journey will now be crossed off the fixture list.

And talking of Brentford – finally – you may not be aware but apparently Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, now plying his trade at Wigan Athletic, is on fire. More to the point, if you believe the (apparently) popular terrace chant, “Your defence is terrified”.

I’m genuinely pleased for Will. We all know that things didn’t quite work out for him at Brentford with his cause not being helped by injury. He arrived with a huge reputation and a lot of anticipation yet ended up leaving with a goal scoring record that was, I’m sure as much for the player as the supporters, somewhat below expectation.

4 goals in 34 league games (including a brace and missed penalty on his home debut v Sheffield United) are, if we’re being honest, not the sort of figures to strike this supposed terror into the heart of any defence.

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick.

Yet, you can’t knock his subsequent League 1 record with MK Dons or Wigan Athletic. It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how he steps up a division to the Championship. Have Brentford made the biggest mistake of all time in letting him go after his loan spell at Stadium MK or will this be proven to have been a good decision? Only time will tell.

The main reason for finally jumping on the “Grigg/fire’ bandwagon is the news that Wigan chairman David Sharpe has now rewarded the supporter purported to have created the chants with a free season ticket. Fair dues and well played.

But by that logic, if Ciff Crown is reading (you never know) how about making a similar gesture at Brentford? Whilst not ‘chants’ per se, I can lay claim to:  “And this is Saunders territory” for the awarding of any set-piece within a 25 yard radius of the goal line . This, regardless of whether the perma-tanned wing wizard and dead ball demi-god is even on the pitch. It is a lucky mantra that has worked on numerous occasions.

Likewise, I’ve got half-shares in, “Don’t take it short; it never works”  (along with a more colourful variant) whenever we are about to take a short corner. So far, this tactical advice about the most maligned of set-pieces has proven correct.

How about it Cliff? If it’s good enough for Wigan….?

Wigan chairman re Grigg

Bournemouth fans may disagree with this sharp observation

The other piece of Brentford news to catch my eye was something shared by Brentford video whizz kid (and Alex Pritchard lookalike ) Sean Ridley .

The Football League have released the new ‘official font’ and numbering to be used on next season’s kits.And, it’s fair to say, that reactions have been mixed.

I like the font, I’m not convinced by the look of the numbering but I’m very disconcerted by the apparent lack of brackets for supporters looking to get a replica shirt printed up. Looks like another season for yours truly without a: Saunders 7 (seven).

One year, club shop. One year……

new font

coming soon to a back near you

And finally, as ever at this time of the year, my own moment of self-promotion and (more importantly) thanks to all those who have so far downloaded either The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again or the three year anthology : The Bees are going up. I remain shocked but hugely respectful of the fact that anybody would take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon