Tag Archives: Cherries

Act of god, my arse. Why did we turn up on a random school playing field?

7 Jun

Brentford and Bournemouth. For most of us, the connection is one that instantaneously transports us back to the recent Championship play-off semi finals. You know, the one where we came from 2-0 down on aggregate before reaching Wembley and the Premier league. Oh, Asmir Begović…. 😉

What an afternoon that was at Lionel Road

Yet for one supporter, Bernard Quackenbush (pretty sure that’s not his real name but it’s the one he goes by on social media), the connection runs much deeper. It is a story that, in part, those who follow him on Twitter may be familiar with but there is so much more to it. Following on from Kitman Bob and Natalie Sawyer, Bernard  – who is a regular to these pages –  becomes the latest of our special guest authors with his own tale of supporting the Bees in the most unusual of circumstances.

Enjoy……..

Quackenbush! Quackenbush! Brentford are on the playing field’. Those were the words (well the first bit I have changed) on some dreary Friday lunchtime in early January in 1987 at my school in Bournemouth.

I was 14 years old at the time, and I had been living on the south coast for 6 years already. Despite our overwhelming mediocrity, I was always very proud to be a Bee. That lunchtime, I had boy after boy come up to me in the playground, most of whom I had no idea who they were, but each one was telling me that Brentford were on the field. 

How the hell did the whole school seem to know that I was a Brentford supporter? Its not as if I went around with a Brentford shirt on, or even a badge or a scarf, but it seemed the whole school knew. It was then I realised I was a bit of a novelty in the school. It was known that the tall boy in the 5th form with the London accent was known as ‘the Brentford supporter’, and with it seemed to come respect. Being over 6ft, and built well, also seemed to help. The classrooms seemed to be full of Liverpool, Aston Villa & Southampton supporters, but I seemed to be unique in supporting a lesser successful side, although that was to change with the local team’s promotion to Division 2 later that year.

So, off I went down to the field, and there they were, like Greek gods, people I had posters on my wall at home. The likes of Ian Holloway, Paul Maddy and Wayne Turner were there, and whom I wandered past to get to the gods that were Francis Joseph, Robbie Cooke & Andy Sinton. I was astounded and awestruck, and then the question in my head was…. what the hell are they doing at my school? 

To this day, I have no idea, but I assume one of the sports teachers knew someone who knew someone else. But there I was telling anyone within earshot, most people had walked away, how wonderful and amazing these group of players were, despite the overwhelming mediocrity. For the record, the Bees played at Dean Court the day after for a dull 1-1 draw, the most notable incident being Micky Droy getting homophobic chants from the South Stand and then growled back at the crowd who consequently became more subdued.

When I first arrived in Dorset back in 1980, Brentford & Bournemouth were not in the same division, and this stayed the same until I finally got to see the Bees at Dean Court on New Years Day 1983. For some inexplicable reason, my dad did not take me to the away end, but instead opted to go in a stand which looked like a cowshed. We were then surrounded by the idiots from Townsend and West Howe, and therefore I wasn’t even allowed to celebrate a goal, as we lost to the odd goal in 7. 

This game sparked something in me. Whereas all Bees fans always look forward to facing the Putney RiverRats and Shepherds Bush, the game against Bournemouth became just as important to me. The times I have had to walk into a classroom or office to face ridicule and taunts, but then to be able to walk tall and proud into the same places after a Keith Cassells hat-trick or a Marcus Bean masterclass was just the best feeling.

I will add at this point that the vast majority of Bournemouth fans have always been supportive and generous in their praise of the Bees. Even these past couple of weeks, I have had messages from Cherries fans saying ‘what the hell was Begovic on?’ and ‘the best team won, and good luck in the Final’. As Bees fans, we can look to Bournemouth and their success in the Premier League as inspiration for us.

Of course, being so far away from GP, meant it was rare for me to get to games. Through the 80s I probably only went to a maximum of 10 games, and this same frequency continued after our sole Division 1 season, but of course, I would always get to the game at DC (or Dorchester), with additional trips to Exeter, Yeovil and Southampton. I even made it to some rather unusual settings for pre-season friendlies at Havant, Bashley & Hamworthy. You may need to look at the map for those ones.

In the mid 90s, I managed to track down a number of Bees fans living in the area. To my surprise, there were quite a number of us living across the conurbation, and the numbers to this day continue to grow. In recent years, I have seen cars with Brentford stickers parked in my local Asda, and sweet vans with a giant Brentford badge on the back going around the town. I have now worked in adoption for many, many years, and people will always say to me ‘oh I know someone who is adopted/an adopter’.  When people discover I am a Brentford supporter, I get just as many that say to me ‘I know someone who supports Brentford’. It’s happened at school with teachers, at college with lecturers and at work with managers. Everyone seems to know someone who supports Brentford far, far away from the confines of the M25. I’m sure if I ever traversed the great Tsavo reserve in Kenya to finally make it to a lodge with a waterhole whilst covered from head to toe in red dust gasping for some water, the first person I would meet would come up to me and say, ‘I know the real reason why Steve Perryman quit’.

If you ask most Bees fans to list their greatest ever matches. They will say the Play Off final last week, or Peterborough in 92 or Blackburn in the Quarter Final or of course Fulham on Good Friday. For me, i’d also include the win at Bournemouth when Karleigh & Powell had a punch up, or the FRT QF win when Kammy scored 2. There have been disaster games like Bournemouth’s Great Escape in 95. I even travelled on the Bournemouth supporters coach for that one! Or the day Neil Clement allegedly played, or the one where Rio Ferdinand played for the Cherries and it rained so hard they took us all off the terrace for safety reasons, but the greatest moment before the Marcus Forss winner 2 weeks ago was the Christmas game of 1993….. 

It had everything. My all time Bee, Denny Mundee banging in a penalty against his old club and booed, a Lee Harvey goal, two missed Steve Cotterill penalties, soft furnishings raining down on to the pitch from the main stand (that’s how middle class Bournemouth supporters are) and the best moment when Vince Bartram sliced it into his own net to seal noises. He claimed in the local press that it was an ‘act of god’. No Bartram, you were never Maradona, you were just crap. As my friend Ken the postman from Poole so eloquently and accurately put it in a fanzine, ‘Act of god, my arse’.

Denny Mundee – better file photo needed

I could waffle on forever about my life as a Bee away from London and in a county where motorways are yet to be invented, but I know im not the only one. There are Bees fans not only across Dorset, but also in the far flung reaches of these isles. With the advent of social media we are now hearing about Bees everywhere and all over this blue planet too. Those Bees fans are now producing new Bees fans and these fans would have never lived anywhere near the Great West Road, or ever will.

We have kept in touch from afar through the website, social media, or the dulcet tones of Mark Burridge. And thank you Mark, Marcus, and everyone else for keeping us in touch with our great club for so many years, when we have not been able to be there. It does not matter if you live in Brentford or Hounslow or whether you live in South Wales, Leeds, Scotland or even Australia. We are all Bees fans, we are all equally loyal, and wow, we are all about to embark on one hell of a journey over this next year!

Cometh the hour, cometh the fans.

21 May

Friday morning. Silly o’clock and I can’t sleep. This is now. Imagine then? Come 11.30am on Saturday morning there are likely to be cheers from some quarters and a mini meltdown from others. Brentford will be an hour away from starting the play-off semi final with Bournemouth, a goal down after the first leg but just 90 minutes away from a final game shoot out with Barnsley or Swansea City. The team will have been named and, with it, we’ll all know the decision from Thomas Frank as to his tactical approach. More of the same or welcome Rico and Henrik back in to the fold? Shake it around in the attacking zone and take the chance to perhaps start Emiliano or Bryan? Whatever happens he will be lauded by some and moaned at by others. That’s football. We’ve been seeing it all season. We all have our favourites. The difference being that for what feels like the first time in a month or two we actually have the ability to make some genuinely exciting decisions as to who starts.

From some respects, it doesn’t even matter. On their day, everybody in our squad has the ability to be a game changer. To be a matchwinner. Whomever Thomas begins with, this is all going to boil down to individual fortitude. To holding their nerve on the occasion. To how we start this one. Thomas has promised we are going to go for it from the off. An obvious strategy or a double bluff to try and force Jonathan Woodgate’s tactical hand? Again, it doesn’t really matter when a goal comes  – first minute or beyond – as long as we score first. Do that and everything is all square. Concede and we’ve got to get two just to bring party back. Again, something we can do on our day but a position I think we’d all prefer to avoid.

I was talking to a source close to the club last night and they nailed it quite succinctly. This is as all about how clinical we can be. As we all know, when this team is on fire the goals fly in. Ivan’s record speaks for itself but don’t forget the likes of Marcus Forss, Sergi Canos and Bryan Mbeumo also weighing in. We need to create the chances, obviously, but take them and this one could be out of sight.

Ivan Toney – his record speaks for itself

We had one penalty shout-ish and the one clear chance last week. That was it. As much a tactical feet finding of a game where Bournemouth came out flying, our own defence kept them out and one slip up saw us caught by a lightning fast break. The 2,000 fans present creating an apparent ‘electrical’ atmosphere. That wasn’t the vibe I got watching from home on TV but, then again, it could have just been the fault of the Sky cameras. 

It doesn’t really matter, to be fair. That was then and this is now. All the post-mortems in the world won’t change a thing. The result is the result. The performance has gone. It all comes down to what happens on Saturday lunchtime. We will have 4000 supporters present (14000 if Mark Warburton is counting) and as key to anything will be how loud they are. On a normal day this game would have easily been a sell out within minutes. Instead, access has been granted to those lucky enough to have cleared the TAP limit or won the ballot. Their reward a chance to see Ivan Toney in the flesh. His last game at Lionel Road as a Championship player. A chance to get inside our new home, perhaps for the first time. To be there when the boys have the opportunity to make history. 

With that opportunity comes the knowledge that they are doing it on behalf of all the fans. We’re fortunate enough beyond belief to be going but, my word, need to make up for that by generating an atmosphere. Peter Gilham will no doubt be egging us on from the off. Expect one of his famous renditions of ‘Hey, Jude’ at some point. 

Yet as much as the players hitting the ground running and going for it from the off, equally the onus will be on the supporters. Never more so than before will home advantage be that. An actual advantage. One sided support with the ability to get on the Bournemouth backs. To remind the ref and the linos the rules of the game. To sing songs. Make noise. Call for fouls. Raise the roof. For Angry Dad, Harry Potter and the rest of us to make those voices heard. Griffin Park was an incredible place when the crowd got going. Saturday sees our first real chance to try and do the same. There’ll be numbers behind us and a huge prize at stake. The importance of the supporters cannot be underestimated. The players talk about what a difference the fans can make. This could be the ultimate example.

The role of, and bond with, the supporters was always HUGE at Griffin Park

Wear your lucky shirt and magic pants. Bring your goal sweets and, please, extra strong mints. The difference that luckiest of omens could make cannot be put into words. Most importantly, bring your voices and make yourself heard. Obviously, that bit doesn’t need saying. I know the atmosphere is going to be immense. The desire to get promoted. The will to win. The excitement of being in our new home will all guarantee that. We all know the reward for victory and will all be shouting us on. If nothing else, I’m looking forward to a good old-fashioned, “Push Up Brentford” within the first two minutes. It’s been a long time coming. 

Yet perhaps, as exciting, will be hearing Peter ready to self-combust as he preps for kick off. Let alone should anything positive happen over the course of the game. That scream of “Brennnnnnttttttttt-fooorrrrdddddddd”  blasting over and around the ground. Every goal scored being sponsored by Siracusa, It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock. 

It’s the sort of game and day you can talk up for hours. Of course, we will. Rightly so. It’s part of what makes football. If nothing else, even just being able to meet for a pre-match pint is a novelty and ritual I am very much looking to. Yet nothing that goes before will change what happens when referee Jarred Gillett (who also took charge of our home game with Bournemouth this season) starts proceedings. The excitement is palpable and the anticipation up there with the possible cancellation of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Yes, its on Thomas. Yes. its on the players, But its also on us.

Cometh the hour, cometh the fans….

SEE. YOU. THERE !!!!

Thomas, Peter and the fans. All with a role to play. All hoping to be back at Carrow Road next season.

Nick Bruzon 

Back in action. Time to test ourselves as the door opens.

20 Jan

Here we go, again. Brentford are back in action after that three week Corona Virus related lay off. Luton Town the visitors this evening and then Premier League leaders Leicester City in the FA Cup on Sunday. The players are all reported as well (injury aside) and Thomas Frank was back at the helm in a series of photographs published from the training ground earlier in the week. As one correspondent noted, short of holding up a copy of ‘The Sun’ (other fetid rags are available), the photos couldn’t have been any more ‘honestly, these are fresh’ if we’d tried. And that’s great news. Even better is the shape of the table. Whilst we’ve fallen a few spots due to inaction, the Bees find themselves four points ahead of 7th (seventh) placed Stoke City with three games less played. More importantly, Bournemouth hitting the skids with DLL sees the opportunity to go clear in second open up. Should we win those games in hand. Hmm, no pressure lads 😉 

Thomas, and the squad, were pictured back in action this week.

I can’t wait for this. If anything, the delay to football has felt even longer than last season’s Covid cancellation. Then, everybody was in the same boat. This time around we been amongst a handful of teams unable to play whilst everyone else has carried on. Its very much felt like outsiders looking in. One must be thankful that, at the least, things haven’t got any worse. We did talk about the need for football to call a halt as increased numbers of positive cases were bing reported across the football world. Whilst the opportunity of seeing a game in person still seems as far away as ever, at least that decision is one which hasn’t needed to be taken. Long may that level of good health continue.

Getting back to this evening’s game, it really is a quite wonderful opportunity for Brentford. There’s no Pontus, of course, but otherwise it looks like we have that full squad to pick from. I’d absolutely expect the same starting XI as that which began at Spurs : Raya, Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Bech Sørensen, Henry, Dasilva, Janelt, Jensen, Mbeumo, Toney, Canós.  Or, at least, were Josh still not under suspension. Honestly, didn’t forget about that at the ungodly hour these are written at. Could it be Marcondes? A return for norgaard? Pan C?

Regardless, that last league game saw a line up which also took Bournemouth apart, albeit Pontus played then, in our last league fixture. That, one of the most encouraging and determined performances from a Bees team in a long while. The balls and never say die attitude. The fortitude. The attacking intent. It really was an excellent game of football with new levels of expectation now being set.

What. A. Performance!! Cherries picked.

Luton Town won’t be easy, of course. They did us that recent favour of their own whilst we were out action, beating Bournemouth. The side that got hammered 7(seven) – 0 at Griffin Park last season nothing more than a distant memory. They have found their feet and then some. Indeed, the play-offs are a more than realistic aspiration in what is one of the most open Championship campaigns in years. The quality of our opponents something Thomas picked up on in his press conference, noting that, “I know that we will be there performance-wise tomorrow night but I am more worried about Luton because I know they are a very underrated team in this division…on their day they can make it difficult for any team because of their style of play. They work hard throughout the team and are very good on set pieces. They want to play, and can play, because they have some quality players.

Yet there’s no reason to be scared. It’ll be a tough game for sure but we’ve more than proven we can handle those in recent months. The prize for victory will be a return to third place. The opportunity to sit just two points behind Swansea City with a game a in hand. The chance for Ivan Toney to open up a gap at the top of the Championship leading scorer table. What more could you want at this stage?

Personally speaking, I’m just happy to be back in action. That Thomas is feeling fit and well once more. That we have no apparent casualties of this relentless virus. That we have another exciting week upon us. Luton this evening. Leicester City on Sunday and then that HUGE trip to Swansea City next Wednesday. It does big the question as to what line up Thomas may go for in the FA Cup. He kept nothing back for Spurs but that was a semi-final in the middle of a brief respite from frenetic action. Now, the door to the Premier League is opening once more. I’d love the chance to take on the Foxes at full strength. Being realistic though, I can only see that as an opportunity for the squad to show just how deep it goes. To repeat what it did against that legion of Premier League sides in the League Cup. 

That’s to come. For now, all eyes and all focus have to be on this evening. On Luton Town. On doing all possible to pick up another three points. On keeping that huge unbeaten run of league form going. I’d love another bracketing. If it ends up being a scrappy 1-0 we’ll be just as happy. Kick off is at 7(seven)pm. See you there. In spirit.

Our last home game with Luton ended in brackets.

Nick Bruzon

Was this the performance that defines the season?

30 Dec

How good was that? Brentford with the king of comebacks. On the ropes from the off . Bournemouth raining early punches like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Our plucky heroes flat on their backs. Pontus scooping one off the line within seconds and, really, lucky not to be two down within the opening ten minutes. Yet the consummate display of determination, relentless pursuit of the prize and sheer balls saw the Bees turn 0-1 into an eventual 2-1 victory. Goals from Henrik Dalsgaard and Tarique Fosu sealing the points that saw us overtake Swansea City and move into second place. Norwich City, perhaps feeling they already had six fingers (one hand) on the league trophy, seeing the gap whittled down to just three points when full time came. It was a quite gargantuan performance of never say die football. Both teams giving it their all and, on this showing, sure to be battling it out for ‘automatic’ at the end of the season.

Fair play to Bournemouth. They flew out of the traps and should have been ahead within seconds. Dominic Solanke seeing Pontus somehow hyper-extend a leg as he chased down a nailed on goal before scooping it off the line to safety. Minutes later the same man had another glorious opportunity with Rico the one to this time hoick it clear after a butt clenching scramble. 

How Brentford hadn’t fallen behind is one to rank alongside the alleged popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Nobody knows or can explain. Instead, Brentford grew back in to it and we were off. Rocky picking himself up off the canvas to take the fight back to their opponents. A shot from Sergi Canos fired just wide. A trio of fine saves pulled out of the locker by Cherries’ ‘keeper Asmir Begović . Mbeumo and Toney working their magic. It was only a matter of time before the goal came and sure enough, it did. To Bournemouth.

Urghh. Dominic Solanke the man to finally get the goal his efforts had warranted. Credit to the player for picking his spot. The Bees defence carved open and no mistake made this time. 1-0 up and the visitors’ strength finally paying dividends. That midfield would have graced most top flight sides, let alone the Championship. Yet if anyone thought this was game over they were sorely mistaken. Mathias Jensen (the ultimate man of the match) turning provider for Henrik Dalsgaard little over ten minutes later. The Danish World Cup star heading home an equaliser that our performance may have warranted but which was in no way guaranteed. Nobody deserves to score. Unless, of course, you actually take your chance. And Henrik made no mistake with his.

1-1 at half-time and both teams, surely, well happy with that. Bournemouth probably ruing those early chances spurned but still alive and in it. Indeed, they started the second period much like they’d began the first. Pressure building, the goalmouth threatened but nothing of real substance coming. Dominance not rewarded with anything beyond recognition of their potent attacking prowess. Then Bryan Mbeumo popped up to do his thing and, with it, the game transformed. His work down the right legendary. A run into the box lit up with his dazzling footwork. One little back flick in the midst of this opening the Bournemouth defence like a can of tuna. His delivery across the penalty box absolute perfection. Tarique Fosu had already done his own thing to find the perfect position and by the time the ball dropped, he was given the freedom to gorge at the Bournemouth ‘all you can score’ buffet. One bite at the cherry was all he needed.

Boom. What a ball across. What a finish. Open the social media floodgates as the gushing began. And rightly so. The final ten minutes and additional time added on trickled by with no real fear of conceding. Pressure, yes. Panic, no. Game management to the max mixed with a couple of substitutions as the clock played out. Drago floored. Brentford triumphant. Thomas Frank making an emotional post match speech in which he’d note our awful first ten minutes, our efforts to close out the game and our opponents’ class.

The result was a cracker. Had we lost, then it wouldn’t have been fatal. Having won, it’s a wonderful way to end the year. It sees us breathing down the necks of Norwich City. Come on!! Where are you? Right behind. Swansea City overtaken ahead of their own game with Reading. The Bees now 16 unbeaten in all competitions. The ‘Frank Out’ brigade silenced once more. Instead, the u-turn of support that (yet) another win brings was evident.  

Next up, Bristol City on Saturday. Here’s hoping we have fit players. Josh Dasilva looked uncomfortable as he went off. Fingers crossed that was nothing serious. Only time will tell there. For now, though, we need to catch our breath. To marvel at a quite fantastic game of football between two top, top sides. Brentford took the points. Bournemouth will feel hard done by. Understandably. Yet I’ll leave the last word tonight to our Harry. Only 7(seven) years old but his bedtime summary of the game proving that age is no barrier to insight…

Harry: You know Bournemouth?

Me: Yes.

Harry: They must be devastated right now.

Nick Bruzon

Time to go ape once more?

30 Dec

Brentford are now fifteen games unbeaten. The 3-2 Boxing Day knockout of Cardiff City seeing us move to within touching distance of the top. Sergi’s hat-trick the stuff of dreams. Now Bournemouth await in a 5.30pm kick off this Wednesday evening. Both teams level on 38 points and knowing that victory will take them second above Swansea City, who don’t play until later tonight. Their game with Reading has an 8pm kick-off. Even a draw all see the Bees and the Cherries gain a position thanks to our superior goal difference. There’s everything to play for in the latest ‘Biggest game since…’ . A game made all the more interesting by table toppers Norwich City dropping two points at home to the Loftus Road mob on Tuesday.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 on, err, Saturday (I think)

I suppose we should be thankful there’s even a game taking place at present. With Corona virus seeing fixtures now being pulled across all divisions, Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce calling for a ‘circuit breaker’ hiatus to action and talk of tougher restrictions coming in at a national level, it may only be a matter of time before things grind to another halt. 

The plus point being it may allow everyone at our clubs to stay safe and restore some tired limbs. The down side being that Brentford are flying at present. The league and the cup have both seen us come into our own as the pressure has increased on divisional (and Premier league) rivals. The points gap being reeled in by some relentless displays and magnificent use of the squad by Thomas Frank. Those called in have more than done a job. Those who have been regular starters somehow maintaining their energy levels over a run of games that has been as exciting as it has been exhausting.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting Bournemouth to be anywhere near as strong as they have been this season. So many times we’ve seen clubs drop out of the Premier League and struggle to adjust to their new surroundings. With players being shed and talismanic manager Eddie Howe leaving in August, things looked grim. To the casual observer. Instead, they’ve carved out a run of form that has only seen them lose twice since the start of November ( Sheff Wednesday ‘away’ and a slip up at home against Preston. Hmm – I think we can all relate to that.) 

Like Brentford, they have continued to astound. To perplex. To amaze. A club no doubt as tainted with the ‘teams like’ and ‘little’ moniker as we have been in recent times. Their own top flight residence lasting for five years until the end of last campaign. We’ve all got our own thoughts on howe they got there, of course. Who could forget the team they put together when going up in 2014/15 – cripes, that must have cost them a fortune – but once there they more than held their own at football’s top table. Now, they are back amongst us in the Championship and on current form giving every indication that this will be as short a stay as possible.

Nothing would give greater satisfaction than getting the win tonight. Memories of Mike Grella flooding back once more. His name was mentioned during Mark Burridge’s commentary of the Cardiff game as Sergi looked to add a fourth goal to his, and the team’s, total. Instead he had to be content with ‘just’ the match ball and all manner of plaudits. I can’t see it being anywhere near as comfortable as that 6-0 victory back in November 2011 when the gorilla went ape, but even a turgid 1-0 will do me come full time. Chance would be a fine thing. Bournemouth aren’t going to just roll over and anybody claiming to know how this will turn out is a better observer than me. So that’s everyone , then.  

The Gorilla went ape – for one night only

If I had to call it, I’d go for Brentford by the odd goal in three. But I don’t. So I won’t. Even knowing who Thomas will start with is as much a case of car-keys in a bowl as anything else these days. Josh Dasilva and Tarique Fosu were both amongst those to miss out in the starting XI against Cardiff. Sergi is on fire but must be knackered. See also Ivan Toney and Rico Henry. Surely Thomas will go for what he’d see as his strongest option on current form tonight? For me, that read him opting for : Raya, Henry, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Janelt, Dasilva, Jensen, Canos, Mbeumo, Toney. 

That’s my own hypothesis and the obvious one based on what we’ve seen to date. Who knows what Thomas’ longer term plan and tactics are?  Christian Norgaard doesn’t seem to be quite match fit after that prolonged injury but perhaps Tuesday and Spurs will do for him. Assuming the game even goes ahead. Equally though, one thing we can predict is that Thomas has cards up his sleeve and will be just as likely to mix things up. To try and catch everyone, including Bournemouth, cold. Cripes, who’d be a pundit or anybody trig to write something accurate. Roll on 4.31pm when the team is announced.

I have to be honest, I’m quite liking this 5.30pom kick off time. It’s totally untraditional but at a time when as many of us are able find themselves ‘working from home’ is a cracking way to move direct from the company laptop when the whistle blows directly to the sofa and TV. To start the night early and sill have time to put the kids to bed at full time. Plus it means we’ve less time to wait until the big match kicks off. Which given the way Corona Virus cases are spreading, can only be a good thing. Let’s enjoy this one before it is taken out of our hands.    

It’s a real six pointer. More than that, given the bigger picture impact. Twelve pointer? Double six pointer? Norwich City and Swansea, both in that immediate touching distance, no doubt hoping both teams can lose. Of course that’s not how football works and something will have to give at the business end of the table by full time. It’s live on Sky and i-player so, all being well, everyone has a chance to follow this one if you like pictures with your words.

Bring it on. See you there (in spirit). ENJOY !!!

Something has to give this evening, whatever the result

Nick Bruzon 

In the end the lure of the beach was too much.

23 Jan

What can you say? Congratulations Chris Mepham on finally securing his dream move to the Premier League. The Welsh centre-back completed one of the most expected moves of the season yesterday when he finally left Brentford for AFC Bournemouth with the fee reported at £12million plus the usual, copious add-ons. It was no surprise given Eddie Howe’s previous bids in the last two windows along with the player’s own omission from the squad that beat Rotherham United 4-2 on Saturday. This, following injury absence that had coincided with Thomas Frank rejigging his defensive line up and seeing his Bees finally return to unbeaten ways. Yet the gain here is all for Bournemouth as, despite a suggested higher offer from Dean Smith (something c/o my good friends at Beesotted, who are always on the money), the young Welsh International has declined a move to Aston Villa and chosen to take a trip to the beach. So to speak. 

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We can take consolation in great memories, lots of money and no hashtag

For Brentford, it means further shrewd transfer business as another player who we have picked up for minimal outlay (Chris joined as an under-16 back in 2014) has departed for the sort of money we could only dream about a few years ago. The club has made no secret of saying it will sell if the valuation and deal is correct and here we would seem to have another example. Bournemouth have made no secret of their intent to acquire a player whose rise has been, frankly, stratospheric. He hit the ground running last season and regular Welsh call ups were soon to follow. 43 games and one goal (oh, that knee slide against Sheffield United…) after his Griffin Park debut he has now reached the top flight with Bournemouth.

Eddie Howe must be purring like the metaphorical cat who got the cream. In one respect it is a gamble given Chris has played so few games but my word, what performances he has put in over that time. Last season, especially, where nobody could quite believe the confidence, precision and calmness of a player thrust into the squad and then the first team following the departure of Harlee Dean to Birmingham City. 

Things continued a pace this time around with Chris a regular call for ‘first name on the team sheet’ although, it would be fair to say, things did go somewhat amiss from mid-October. For the whole team. Thomas Frank’s first game in charge, a 1-0 defeat at home to Bristol City, saw Meps shown red for two bookings (the second somewhat innocuous) but from that point a malaise came over the Bees defence and midfield. It has something that has only been over remedied with the restructure of our our line up and with Chris having missed the resurgence through injury, perhaps the thinking is that with the fee on offer we have sufficient cover now in place to continue the upwards surge.

Whatever the reason, nobody can deny the talent that Bournemouth now have at their disposal. Chris has the potential to go all the way to the very top. On a personal note I’m obviously sad to see him go but it’ll be intriguing to see how quickly he adapts to life in the top flight. One can only assume he’ll take to things like a duck to water and despite the apparent ‘better terms’ offered by Aston Villa, taking the direct route to follow your dream is very much the way to go. As the ever eloquent Bernard Quackenbush put it on Twitter last night:

“As someone who has lived in Bournemouth for 38 years, with its miles of sandy beaches, warmer climate and with Sandbanks, The New Forest & the Dorset countryside on your doorstep.

Why the f@ck would you choose to live in Birmingham over Bournemouth. It was the only sane choice“.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 08.11.49

‘That’ knee slide

Elsewhere, we’ve had some downtime on these pages recently and so didn’t comment on the 4-2 win at Rotherham on Saturday. It was a result that saw our first win in the quite wonderful brown/orange kit as the unbeaten run continued to 7(seven) games. Those hardy souls who made the long trip to Yorkshire were treated to goals of the highest quality. Kamo’s second (our third) has to be the pick of the bunch  – a quite wonderful pass and move display direct form kick-off after being pegged back to 2-2. That Rotherham didn’t get a touch until fishing the ball out of the net tells you all you need to know about this one.  With an FA Cup fourth round trip to Barnet next up, what a time to find your form on the road. Wha ta time for the Jaffa cake shirt to finally come to the fore.

Albeit, the word on the street is that Thomas Frank has never tasted Jaffa cakes before. The training ground address is 100 Jersey Road, Osterley, TW5 0TP…..

Mmmm. Jaffa Cakes

Nick Bruzon

What lessons can we learn from West Ham and Bournemouth ?

23 Aug

Saturday can’t come soon enough. Brentford have a home game with Sheffield Wednesday and already it seems like an eternity since that 1-0 defeat on the road at the weekend. There was little to update fans with yesterday  – no surprise being a Monday – and we aren’t involved in League Cup action this week following the capitulation against Exeter City. Fortunately, a video has started doing the rounds from the West Ham v Bournemouth game on Sunday to keep us entertained.

Bournemouth are, to some , the romantic team who punched against the big guns to surprise all comers during their first Premier League campaign last season. To others, the side who overspent well beyond their means as they got promoted from the Championship in 2014/15 at the expense of Brentford and the rest. Whilst we may have ended up on the moral high ground, along with a fine Mark Warburton inspired 3-1 victory under our belts last year (Feb 2015), they are the ones who embarked on that huge TOTL (top of the league) run before eventual success.

Cow chaos bourenmouth brentford

I do miss our games with Bournemouth

As for West Ham, you may not have realised this but apparently they moved stadium over the summer. If only somebody had mentioned it. Just once, to give us a clue that a move was imminent.

Ironically, despite all the planning, it seems their new home is still not ready. Certainly, if the photos doing the rounds on Sunday are anything to go by where it seems season ticket holders turned up to find their seat had no actual, erm, seat.

This, of course, is already old news. Such is the speed at which the Internet moves that the picture has already had close to three and half thousand shares on Twitter. Fairplay to West Ham supporter ‘Paul’ who wouldn’t give The Sun permission to use it, instead allowing his club the chance to respond first.

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It has been a time of huge celebration for West Ham. We’ve already had the first friendly in their new stadium, the first European game there and the first Premier league game/goal/win. No doubt we’ve still got the first league game under lights and the first  FA Cup game to come.

I can only imagine the latter will be a huge occasion given as, seemingly, they won the competition back in 1980.  Like their new home and 1966 World Cup triumph, something else that never gets mentioned in journalistic circles. For all you pub quiz fas out there, Trevor Brooking grabbed the winner I believe. Store that one away – it’ll come in handy.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the first game when their new stadium isn’t mentioned. Experts predict that could come as soon as February 2017. In the short term, the media love in with the Hammers continues. Sunday sees their third Premier League game in a row televised.

But it was the weekend encounter with Bournemouth (now BOTL), West Ham’s first televised league game at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon against a team whose name begins with B in their new Stadium, that provides the pick of the action.

Only 792 people have seen this, at the time of writing, but there’s no place to hide in a modern stadium. TV cameras everywhere and moreso in a televised game. As this Bournemouth fan discovered…

A Bournemouth supporter caught green handed

From all this, let’s hope Brentford learn at least two lessons for Lionel Road.

Given the amount of work already poured  into the design I can’t for one second imagine we’ll face similar issues. Yet, if nothing else,  it does make you realise that even the most basic elements can, sometimes, be overlooked.

Whilst adequate seating is a priority, let’s not forget about the catering either.

Lionel Road

Lionel Road. Let’s get the seats and food right

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

Liverpool loanee playing with the big boys but Jota is still King

27 Oct

With three successive wins under the belt and the small matter of a derby game with QPR on Friday, it’s fair to say that things are again moving in the right direction for Brentford. With Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos apparently picking (current) club over country for the win over Charlton rather than the Spanish U-19s, team spirit would seem to be as alive and well in the first team as it is on the terraces at Griffin Park.

And nowhere moreso was this demonstrated than on Twitter yesterday where our Spanish contingent seems to have been up to all sorts of training ground high jinks. Canos started it, along with Marcos Tebar, but Jota has certainly finished it – for now….

It all began with Jota’s car. A very sleek looking white number (what I know about motor vehicles you could write on the back of a stamp) but with added ‘go faster stripes’.

“Now Comes autumn”, said Canos’s caption as he and Tebar took ownership for this prank. Is this really how they do things in Liverpool?

What Sergi Canos started...

What Sergi Canos started…

Retribution was swift. And wet. Very wet. Jota putting the boot in (quite literally) along with the reminder for any young upstarts not to play with the big boys.

With Canos now training in a wetsuit, his only comeback was the rather ominous sounding note that “you have won the battle but not the war”… Could there be more localised autumnal weather heading towards the Brentford training ground?

....Jota finished

….Jota finished

Still, you can understand The Three Amigos (damn, couldn’t quite make it without obligatory cliché) being in such high spirits following wins for Brentford over Rotherham United, Wolves and Charlton Athletic. And the club have released a compilation video to highlight a quite breathtaking eight days of football.

Starting with Alan Judge and his wonderful volley against Rotherham, it runs through all the recent Bees action, culminating in Lasse Vibe’s strike from the win over Charlton on Saturday. I’m still not sure which is my favourite in what, with three goals and three assists, seems to be a show reel for the Irish international.

The first against Rotherham was a stunning bit of technique and timing that had the entire ground on it’s feet at the quality of the effort. But watching the Charlton highlights, the way Judge flicked on with his head before embarking on that huge run and cross really needs to be seen again. And again.

If there is any disappointment to be found with this, it is the reference to our “Magnificent Seven” that accompanies the video. Surely everybody knows this should be a Magnificent 7 (seven)?

Welcome to the Alan Judge show

And finally. It seems like it was Barnaby, in the car park, with the rogue radio mic.

Following yesterday’s story as to the entire crowd at AFC Bournemouth being treated to the phrase “F**king hell, it was like men against boys “ over the public address system, the Cherries have been happy to accept the explanation offered by one Tottenham fanatic, preparing to make a fan video. Namely, that he just happened to have tuned into the exact same radio frequency that Bournemouth use around the stadium at the exact same moment he was having a pop at them.

Several supporters have been in touch to clarify that Bournemouth’s own ‘man with the mic’ indeed had the mic nowhere near his lips at the time of the incident. Moreso, Bournemouth have also issued a statement confirming it was, indeed, Barnaby who uttered the fateful profanity.

I’m still not entirely convinced by the ‘accidental’ angle but the important thing is we’ve all had a good laugh and, likewise, been able to remember that even in the uber-sanitised world of the Premier League, scope remains for this sort of comedy gold.

Nick Bruzon

Video killed the radio story. Or did it? (and Rams raider strikes again)

26 Oct

There’ll be plenty of time this week for us Brentford fans to look ahead to the next game, where a win on Friday night will see us within four points of the play offs and potentially as high as eighth in the Championship table. First though, the last of the weekend round up following the win over Charlton where, amongst other things, the Derby County Wikipedia saboteur seems to have struck again – this after Newcastle United were humped by Sunderland – and the phrase ‘Jimmy Hill’ was amongst those heard coming from AFC Bournemouth in the aftermath of their 5-1 shocker at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

After spending the vast majority of the Championship campaign TOTL (Top of the League), Bournemouth are rapidly heading back towards the BOTL. Ten goals ‘against’ in their last two fixtures isn’t great form but, probably, the least of their worries on Monday morning. Social media was ablaze with the story of how the phrase, ”F**king hell, it was like men against boys” was heard coming from the Public Address system during the Cherries 5-1 home defeat to Spurs.

It’s a problem us Brentford fans can only aspire to. Not so much the heavy defeat in the Premier League (they made it there last season, we didn’t quite manage it) but simply being able to hear something over the P.A. Whilst Bournemouth have, according to the BBC, begun investigating the incident, one Spurs fan has already come forward with his own explanation and taken ‘ownership’. All in the interest of saving the Bournemouth P.A. team a sacking and not at all to promote his own YouTube channel.

A Spurs fan by the name of Barnaby claims that it was actually he who uttered the fateful phrase, whilst preparing a post match article for his @spurredontv fansite, giving the explanation, “Basically what had happened was, when I turned the radio mic on, the frequency must have accidentally been the same as the Bournemouth tannoy and apparently the whole of the Bournemouth stadium heard me say, ‘F**king hell, it was like men against boys’

Potty mouthed Barnaby

Potty mouthed Barnaby

Several things don’t quite add up about this story, at least to the layman like myself. Primarily, the remarkable chain of coincidence needed to make it happen. Just look at the facts, as presented:

A random punter is able to accidentally tune his radio mic into the exact same frequency as that of the stadium he is visiting. Then, for just exactly long enough to swear down the line, insulting the home team, before ending his conversation. A conversation he had no idea was being played out live.

The ability for a stranger to tune a radio mic into the exact same frequency as that of a football stadium at the exact same time he was speaking that exact three second sentence is a concept I’m struggling to grasp. It’s hard enough to get a decent phone reception inside most sporting arenas, let alone anything achieve more complex.

Draw your own conclusions. Did Barnaby do it? Was it really an amazing accident? Is he taking the credit for a genuine foul up by the Bournemouth P.A. team? Or was it the caretaker wearing a rubber mask, trying to scare everybody away so he could recover civil war gold at his leisure?

Perhaps it is best we don’t know. Barnaby gets the publicity, Bournemouth are spared any (off pitch) embarrassment whilst we’ve all had a good laugh. And for those yet to see it, here’s the explanation….

Barnaby talks ‘tannoys’. Other forms of public address system are also available.

As for Steve McClaren, the former Derby County manager has seen his share of troubles at struggling Newcastle United this season. Those were only compounded on Sunday as his team went down 3-0 at Sunderland in the Wear-Tyne derby. Not so much in the defeat or his side being firmly rooted in the relegation zone but, simply, due to another appearance from the Rams’ Wikipedia phantom.

We’ve already looked at some of his or her recent efforts last week, as Nottingham Forest and striker Chris Martin were both touched by the hand of this cyber Banksy. Now it is the turn of former Derby boss, McClaren.

Going down 3-0 to your rivals is bad enough, without further having your nose rubbed in it via the medium of the World Wide Interweb.

McClaren's team are 'owned'

McClaren’s current team are ‘owned’

Three strikes in less than a week. This is now looking beyond coincidence. To date nobody knows who is doing this, at least publicly.

Could it be time for Barnaby to step forward?

Nick Bruzon