Tag Archives: City Ground

Almost 24 hours on and it still feels fantastic.

11 Apr

Almost 24 hours later and I’m still buzzing. Having spent the last ten days on a very rare holiday, following Brentford has been that bit trickier than normal. Yet what do when the last night abroad coincided with our game at Nottingham Forest? Rather than stay in a hotel room with Mark Burridge whispering sweet nothings into my ear (via the medium of I-follow) instead it was a trip outside to find somewhere showing the Champions League thriller between Manchester City and Liverpool. That said, thanks to the joy of WhatsApp and Twitter pretty much all of my attention was focussed on updates from The City Ground rather than the TV in Popeyes bar, Lanzarote. A third 1-0 win in a row for The Bees, secured via a late strike from Henrik Dalsgaard, saw Brentford move to within four points of sixth placed Millwall with just four games to go. The most unlikely of play-off dreams remains alive and it makes Saturday’s game with a Fulham team whose own victory propelled them into the ‘automatic’ places even more significant than it already was.

Just four points to Millwall in sixth. Just four points to Derby County in fifth (albeit The Rams have two games in hand). Brentford held their nerve last night in a match which, statistically speaking, seemed to pour scorn on Forest’s recent record of failing to trouble the scorers for five straight games as shot followed shot. Despite hitting the woodwork twice in the opening period, Daniel Bentley’s goalmouth once again remained untouched. Despite 16 attempts, 3 on target, there was no way through for the home team.

Rather, it was the stooping Dalsgaard who got on the end of former captain Josh McEachran’s 81st minute corner to frustrate Nottingham Forest again. You have to feel for the home fans but, being quite selfish, that’s their issue. Instead, Popeyes erupted to a quite unexpected shriek of delight that had absolutely nothing to do with Liverpool snuffing out another Manchester City attack. Nothing to do with seeing Birmingham City en-route to yet another defeat; this time at Bristol City. Nothing to do with Roma making it 3-0 against Barcelona and thus lined up to progress on ‘away goals’. Instead, it had everything to do with our Danish international full back giving us the lead with less than ten minutes remaining.

And then the waiting game began. Waiting for the internet to refresh. Waiting for another Euro 3.00 beer to reach the table. Waiting to see if Brentford could hang on. Waiting to see if Barnsley could snatch a late equaliser at Portman Road. Sadly, the Tykes couldn’t. Whilst people all around me were in awe at events unfolding in both Manchester and Rome, there was one corner of a foreign pub that was forever Brentford. And it was beautiful.

Ding: Another WhatsApp message. The trumpet ‘emoji’.
Ding: Yes!!!!

We’d hung on. Oh my, that was quite remarkable. Quick. Where is that ‘As it stands’ table? Ah. There we go. What a sight. What a time for Brentford to narrow the gap. What a game awaits on Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t got a ticket for The Cottage then what are you waiting for? This could be even bigger than the 4-1 in terms of brilliance. The potential double whammy of railroading the Fulham promotion push whilst increasing our own chances. Could it be that game at Leyton Orient all over again? If we celebrated three points there like the FA Cup, victory at The Cottage would see Champions League levels of ecstasy.

Whilst Millwall are still in the box seat as play-off dark horses, if Brentford can keep up this wonderful run then who knows? Imagine. Could it end up a Fulham v Brentford play-off final, even? Win on Saturday and anything is possible. Call it the cabin pressure at 37,000 feet, but flying home now I feel euphoric about all things football. I feel as though anything could happen. We’ve even got Ryan Woods available once more.

Seeing what Liverpool and Roma achieved last night should be sufficient evidence that this most beautiful of games can continue to surprise us. Nothing is certain until that final whistle blows. Results really can defy expectation.

But for now, it has to be as much a time for reflection on overcoming what could have been a very tricky hurdle at Nottingham Forest. Take nothing away from our opponents. Opponents who, at least as far as yours truly is concerned, have remained nothing but sporting. This was a HUGE result in a season that has the potential to match our own first back in The Championship. The season of Mark Warburton and a play-off semi with Middlesbrough when all the results aligned on the final round of games to elevate us to fifth in the table.

Could similar happen again? Who knows but I’ll tell you one thing – I can’t wait to find out. Roll on Saturday and Fulham.

See you there….

IMG_1315

Following Brentford. From Lanzarote. Via the Champions League.

Nick Bruzon

Advertisements

Afternoon thoughts as the latest ‘must win’ game approaches.

10 Apr

Another day, another game. Sitting here at midday, waiting for the evening to come around, I’m struggling. Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest tonight to take on a side who have failed to win or score in their last five games. Three nil-nils is the high point of that ‘run’ whilst their last victory came against Birmingham City (as much of a given as one can expect these days). It was a stat I’ve needed to triple check, and will do once more for good measure, after being steered towards it by two separate Forest fans on Twitter whom I’ll simply call Jamie and Matt. Yet having tapped them up for a prediction, they both replied with devastatingly similar thoughts.

“After the best part of eight hours, a goal would be nice. Anything else would be a bonus…..”

and

“Our form is atrocious – may scrape a draw though. Of the 0-0 variety”

But here is where I’m struggling. Are we walking in to a trap? Is this too good to hope for against a team who are surely safe from both relegation and promotion? Can Daniel Bentley record a 15th Championship clean sheet and Brentford make it three wins on the spin in our final game without ginger Pirlo, Ryan Woods?

His own three game ban, following the handbags against Sheffield United, comes to an end tonight. With the trip to Fulham next up, Dean Smith resisted the temptation to appeal a dismissal that still seemed somewhat harsh. Yet in his absence we’ve seen two 1-0 wins and two goals from Neal Maupay. We’ve seen domination at Bristol City and then what reads as a somewhat grittier performance at home to Ipswich Town.

But with three points the absolute priority if those play-off aspirations are to remain a reality, we’ve done the needful in differing circumstances. Now there are just five games to go and a five point gap to reel in. Another win has to be the target with the fixtures running out. You couldn’t ask, on paper, for any more than to be up against a team for whom the back of the net is something as hard to find as a Neil Warnock post-match handshake.

Which scares me. That sort of stat has to give at some time. Opponents with nothing to lose can play with freedom of expression. Brentford will need to approach this with 100% focus whilst remembering how well we’ve played at times this campaign. It’s no coincidence that despite a rough start we’ve climbed into the top ten. That we’ve taken apart the likes of Leeds United, Aston Villa and Birmingham City.

Perhaps rather than playing our opponent’s statistical record and our own future state, this really is the time to concentrate on the game at hand. Switch off from what has gone before and what might be. The consummate example of that cliche about taking one game at a time (I would also accept : every game as it comes).

By rights, us football fans can be a pessimistic bunch. It’s no surprise that Nottingham Forest supporters Matt and Jamie have come out with less than positive predictions. Being quite honest I’d probably have made similar had roles been reversed. Even now, I’m struggling to call this with any sense of accuracy although, being equally fair, that’s long been a challenge yours truly has failed to rise to.

Instead, it’s a case of hoping that Dean Smith picks the right starting XI for the right result. For hoping that Forest prove anything but Tricky Trees. And if nothing else, at anywhere between 11-1 and 13-1, a few quid on 0-0 might not be the silliest investment ever made?

Here’s also hoping Neal Maupay can ruin that one.

4E705055-F53A-4816-8E0E-378E903184AC

Last time out saw a win against Ipswich Town

 

Nick Bruzon

 

A ball of confusion in the cup. Matt Dyson talks Warbs, radio and football ahead of Brentford v Nottingham Forest

11 Aug

Another League cup draw; another ball of confusion. If the first round draw was a farce (Charlton being drawn both home and away) things were no better second time around. Brentford will meet QPR in the second round of the League Cup. Seemingly the game to be played at Griffin Park on first call but the somewhat odd use of a third pot to determine ‘home’ or ‘away’ left fans and officials what we will politely call ‘baffled’. All this before we get to the main event of the next few days – the visit of Nottingham Forest in the league.

Who’d have thought that using three pots to determine a two team cup tie would end in anything but a cock up? And sure enough, it did. Despite the Bees being called as ‘home’ by former player John Salako, question marks were immediately raised over the colour of his venue ball. Even official, once more displaying this season’s new found sense of humour, hit the nail firmly on the head.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 16.13.22

The Gameweeek podcast can be found at the i-tunes store   – its free and well worth a listen for anyone with an interest in football – fantasy or otherwise.

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 05.30.15

The Gameweek podcast – out now

Nick Bruzon

 

If Carlsberg did Twitter. New signing and backfiring bet see media team attain greatness.

19 Jul

Brentford travel to Oxford United for the latest stage in our pre-season programme, buzzing from the news that the much touted transfer of Ollie Watkins from Exeter City has been completed. Becoming our eighth signing of the summer, the conclusion of this move has seen two wonderful bits of social media (three if you count our own lack of hashtag / signing video when the news was announced). The first could leave one Bees supporter very much out of pocket whilst the second threatens to catapult a Nottingham Forest fan into Simon Hateley territory (he of Aston Villa infamy).

Large

Ollie Watkins joins. Its all very red

First, Ollie himself. What can you say? The Hoff may have departed over the summer but he has been replaced up top by first Neal Maupay and now the EFL young player of the year. The club were understandably excited about the news with Phil Giles telling official We first made an offer for Ollie 12 months ago, and again last January, so I am glad that we were finally able to sign him this time around”.

But it was on Twitter where the real story was beginning to unfold. Andy Scott joined Phil in celebrating the news about the Exeter man joining us, noting on the football front that it has been “A huge team effort from everybody involved” and that “patience is a virtue!” before going on to note that Ollie is “part of the family now!”.

Judging by the picture of his agent, its probably not the first time he’s heard that phrase. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and all that but I for one wouldn’t want to cross him, going on this photo. That’s one intense look.

DFCnx2FXYAA_23Q.jpg-large

Ollie and his agent. Was a horse’s head involved in transfer negotiations?

Spare a thought too for Brentford fan Josh Mahoney who is currently in the chair for a £2.5K bar bill following a tweet published last week, where he laid down a gauntlet which has come back to bite him firmly on the behind:

Can’t see us signing Ollie Watkins, if we do I’ll buy everyone who likes this a drink this season.

Yet it was the comeback from official which inspired what one supporter has described to me as “The greatest thing that media team have ever done”.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.47.20

Chris, Sean and Ciaran most definitely first up at the bar

What? This is brilliant. This is genuinely funny. Is this the same media team that has previously brought us ‘The Obama meme’,  #TrophyFriends and #Novemberkings? Whatever wind of change has blown through Chris Wickham’s department you can only doff your cap. First, no hashtag or gimmick to announce Ollie had joined from Exeter (take a leaf, Aston Villa with your fake Whatsapps and #WelcomeJT). Now, a genuine joke. And a great one. Not withstanding their choice of drink.

Andy was on fine form too, showing just what happens when you cross swords with Scott, Giles and Ankersen (not a law firm or 70s folk group).

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.40.14

But it wasn’t just Josh who was left eating his words.

Up at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest fan ‘Redman’ may be regretting his own boast. Whilst not in Hateley territory (yet), this has somewhat backfired.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.59.07As at the time of writing (6.00am, Wednesday morning) we’re still waiting for banter to commence. Very much a case of tumbleweed and radio silence. Ironically, something matched by Forest fan Matt Dyson – the avocado loving sports presenter on Christian O’Connell’s Absolute Radio breakfast show. His bulletins failing to mention what was the day’s big transfer story.

The other question to come out of this is how we pay for the summer’s transfer activity and changes to the wage bill? Moreso to remain FFP compliant. Of course, the fees paid for our new signings are undisclosed, we have a new sponsorship deal and are about to begin our fourth season in the Championship. Yet with previous seasons seeing outward activity as well as inward, the big fear remains that we’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Jota.

Burnley are the latest club to join the rumour mill (although I’m still laughing at the thought he’d go to the likes of Derby County or the aforementioned Forest, despite their Assombalonga windfall) despite there being no further news following Dean’s talk 12 days ago about an imminent big bid coming in.

So what happens at the Kassam tonight could be telling. Of course, Dean has already said that if a bid fails to materialise then Jota “will be available for the Oxford United game”. Playing won’t be a guarantee he’ll be with us for the big kick off but any absence from the starting XI will be an enormous sign.

Jota 2-2

Faster than a speeding bullet – is the Spanish superman leaving Griffin Park ?

I’m not stupid (completely). We all know how good Jota is. We all know his contract is running out so we could lose a £10million player for nothing. We all know our own model. We all know we’ve sold and still thrived before. Yet, the footballing romantic in me is desperate for him to stay. The last five years have been SO exciting. With a wonderful spine to this team and an ever evolving squad, he really could be the final piece in a promotion gamble.

I’ve called top six already. Given our experience and starting XI this is more than feasible. With Jota in the team, the chances can only improve.

That may well be a decision that is already out of our hands. A decision that has already been made. One thing’s for sure, the Brentford family will be taking a very keen interest in tonight’s team sheet when that one is published.

For now, though, let’s focus on the uber-positive. Jota is a bee and we’ve made another wonderful purchase. Our media team have developed a genuine sense of humour and we’ve not sold any fan favourites.

On a day that sees us looking at how football and Twitter work hand in hand, what better way to end than with another observation from the social media platform. Ian Westbrook distilling it all into one tweet.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 06.35.40

Nick Bruzon

Top ten Bees and win for Forest doom Blackburn.

7 May

A third season in the Championship. A third top ten finish for Brentford. Despite a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, the ubiquitous ‘other results’ conspired to send the visitors down to League One and ensure the Bees continued their proud ascendency. Whilst  Birmingham City boss Harry Redknapp suffered a very squeaky bum and Mark Warburton at Nottingham Forest endured a short term scare, both managers recording wins meant that the three points and two goal victory margin were ultimately insufficient for Blackburn.

We’ll keep this brief, for now. Besides, what else can you say? Not much. It seems trite to revel in another team’s moment of misery. Rovers fully deserved their win and came so, so close to securing Championship survival. Brentford were very much observers in a first half that saw an early two goal lead given away and an improbable tale of survival almost unfold at Griffin Park.

Alas, it was not to be. As Nottingham Forest started to find the net in their own fixture up at the City Ground, so did Brentford. Lasse Vibe all but scuppering Blackburn’s slender survival hopes when he got on the end of a low cross from Harlee Dean, of all people. The captain finding himself in uncharacteristic territory out on the right but still able to deliver a killer ball into the box.

That was as good as it got. Rather than press home the psychological advantage, Brentford were unable to penetrate. Indeed, Harlee was the man still involved in the action, although not for any reasons he’ll care to remember.

I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the picture of him and Craig Conway engaged in what official would describe with the somewhat diplomatic phrase: ‘ the two debated the decision at close proximity’.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 16.19.14

Tom Moore shared ‘the’ moment on Twitter

This was sufficient to earn a yellow card and was followed up shortly afterwards with a second for a foul in the box. Red card and penalty were the obligatory next steps. 3-1 and effectively game over. Indeed, that’s where the scoring stopped and the game ended as Blackburn then had to endure ‘trial by TV’, waiting to see if Bristol City could equalise against Birmingham at the death. They couldn’t.

What else can we take from today? Well, it was a fond farewell for Alan McCormack whose decision to move on at the end of the season is one which has been made very public these last few weeks. The programme contained fitting tribute whilst the player himself made a gladiatorial entry to this footballing arena. His name ringing around three sides of a packed Griffin Park.

Sam Saunders was inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame at half-time whilst even ex-Bee Sam Wood was in attendance. He, along with Maxime Colin, amongst those enjoying the sunshine on the forecourt at half time.

We’ll round up the season properly over the next few days. For now, there’s the Player of the year evening to prepare for and a few more celebrations so we’ll cut this one dead here.

Although, in true Columbo style, there is just one more thing.

Seeing Harlee’s flesh pressed up so close to another player did make me recall that this isn’t the first time we’ve been here. Whilst perhaps not in such close proximity, who could forget that cheeky gatecrashing of Chris Wickham’s interview with then captain Kevin O’Connor ?

Kev coach

Back in the day….

Nick Bruzon

A tale of three Pauls and one Psycho. The Last Word on….

16 Aug

Brentford host Nottingham Forest tonight. With round 3 of Championship action  upon us, all being well we can divert ourselves from gantry based chat long enough to look at tonight’s opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and tonight Forest are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

Brentford Forest

Brentford take on Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park tonight

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Very much a tale of three Pauls, here . Our first being the goalkeeping legend that is Paul Smith. One of the finest players between the sticks in modern times, he turned out over 100 times for the Bees after signing from Carshalton back in 2000. A move to Southampton to help the club out of a financial hole would eventually follow in 2004 before he found himself at the City Ground.   Last seen at Griffin Park back in January 2013 where his single handed heroics almost stopped the Bees progressing past Southend United and an FA Cup fourth round tie with Chelsea

Next up, Paul Evans. Much like last week’s pick, Jay Tabb, part of my all time Brentford XI based on those I’ve seen play on a regular basis (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett) .

What can you say beyond “Evans. From the half way line.” Not once but twice. In successive games . What a pair of net busters and what a player. 34 goals from midfield in 157 games, along with a cap for Wales , tells its own story of a wonderful career at Griffin Park.

Like so many, his time came to an end after ‘that’ play off final against Stoke City. Move along please, nothing to talk about there.

The picture quality is awful; the technique wonderful

However, our winner is not so much a player as a caretaker manager, in Paul Williams. The one time Brentford logistics manager taking up the role of assistant to head coach Lee Carsley back in October of last year.  Paul was famously honoured by Lee when the winners of October’s manager of the month aware were announced, with Carsley saying “Every decision I have taken in the past month has been made between myself and my assistant Paul Williams.If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month

December saw a parting of the ways, however, with Paul taking the opportunity to become first team coach at Nottingham Forest and even caretaker manager for the last couple of months of the season. That was long enough to keep them up although, in a result that left Paul “really disappointed” his knowledge of the Bees was insufficient to stop us recording a 3-0 away win.

The Brentford encounter ( noteworthy game with the Bees). We’re going back almost 35 years but have picked our 1982 League cup fourth round tie. Incredibly, the furthest we’ve reached in the competition (and last week’s result at Exeter City isn’t helping that record any) it saw the Bees facing a game against Brian Clough’s best team in Europe.

Brentford were expected to be on the end of a good hiding and, whilst we eventually succumbed 2-0, Paddy Roche  made sure it was a lot closer than the pre-match predictions would have had you believe. Talking to the Bees goalkeeper about this game a few years ago, he noted the expectation levels that had been present in the home side and the reason these weren’t met “They were a top side then and we gave them a good run. That is one of the best memories of my career, probably. Gary Birtles was playing at Forest for the match that night and I’d been with him at Manchester United. He came in and told me after the game that Brian Clough had said to the Forest players “The reason you didn’t win six or seven nothing was because you played against the best ‘keeper you been up against all season”.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player). This is where it gets interesting. Million pound man Trevor Francis? That colossus of a centre back Des Walker, whose Nottingham Forest career encompassed 20 years and two spell from 1984 to 2004? What about pineapple coiffeured Jason Lee or the man whose goal sealed the 1980 European cup final, John Robertson?

However, for most neutrals there is one name synonymous with Nottingham Forest on the playing front and that, of course, is Stuart Pearce. A three time player of the year, this tough tackling full back was dubbed ’Psycho’ for good reason with a reputation, and an ability, that preceded him.

A first choice on any team sheet (club or country), how the national team must wish they had his like available for selection once more. With over 500 appearances for Forest under his belt, he was the epitome of the man who gave his all when on the pitch.

Stuart Pearce of England celebrates after scoring his penalty

Stuart Pearce – an iconic image

Famous fan. Nottingham Forest are very well served in this category. Those with a musical yearning can look to James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice. Then there are the likes of Stuart Broad or golfer Lee Westwood from the world of sport.

And of course, those with an ear to the radio will know that Absolute Radio breakfast show news reader Matt Dyson is an ardent Forest fan.

But the pairing I’d love to see in the director’s box are better known from our screens. Jason Statham is to acting what Stuart Pearce was to tackling. Just don’t mess, walk away, nothing to see here. I love his films. There’s no subtly and that’s just fine. Sit back, switch off and enjoy.

Then, you have the anti-Stath. Su Pollard. Best known, of course, for playing over-enthusiastic chalet maid Peggy on Hi-De-Hi (kids, ask your parents) if ever you had the polar opposite to the man who played Chev Chelios (Crank) and Frank Martin(The Transporter), amongst others, then here you go.

550w_icons_su_pollard_3

Peggy. The anti-Stath

 

Best Ever League Performance. Not so much a game as a streak. Forget Arsenal and their so called invincibles (please, just forget Arsenal) on 26 November 1977 the club embarked on 42 match unbeaten run with a 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion . It was a run that lasted over an entire year before eventually coming to an end in December 1978. This, not before their final result in the streak, a 1-0 win over Bolton, set a record that would last for over two decades .

Moment of ignominy (what it says – opposite to above) Relegation from the Premier League in 1993. I take no pleasure form those words, either. Brian Clough subsequently retired and a team who, as somebody growing up watching football had been one of THE names to both respect and fear, had seen a golden era finally one to an end.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Can most neutrals even name another Nottingham Forest manager? It can only be Brian Clough.

You could write book on the man who managed Nottingham Forest from 1975-1993. And many have tried. So how do you pay justice to one of the most charismatic managers in football history in one paragraph?  The simple answer being that you can’t.

With the charisma also came success. He took an unfancied team all the way to the league title, numerous trophies and back to back European cup wins. Always seen as very much anti-establishment but the suits at the FA, what would have happened had he been given a chance to run the national team?

An absolute legend and one who is very sadly missed.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). For a club to win one European Cup is an incredible achievement. Moreso one who had, seemingly, come from nowhere in just a few short seasons as Nottingham Forest did when they triumphed over Malmo. Yet to repeat that feat just 12 months later, this time Hamburger SV being the victims, is simply stunning.

Interestingly, despite the huge standout of that silverware and the titles, Brian Clough is noted as seeing that unbeaten 42 streak as his greatest achievement. And who am I to argue?

Nick Bruzon

Normal service resumes on the pitch. Off it, a different matter

2 Apr

What a difference a day makes. Brentford finally got back to winning ways with as comprehensive a win as you could hope for at free falling Nottingham Forest. 3-0 and a second half performance that the subsequent highlights show was as one sided as the score suggests. And with Bolton Wanderers losing at home, Tuesday night could see the Bees all but secure safety whilst sending the doomed Trotters down to League One.

Much as I’d have love to have been at The City Ground, this was a game to far thanks to a family holiday. Fair play to those who made it up to Nottingham, if for no other reason than they had the pleasure of witnessing this first hand rather than struggling through Bees Player (more on that, later).

So where do we start? Well, as ever, this is all about ‘the other stuff’ rather than any serious match report. First and foremost, Brentford are now 9 points (effectively 10 with goal difference) clear of the relegation zone. In a season that has been haunted by sales, managerial crises (plural), pitch-gate and more injuries than the average episode of Holby City, to be all but safe is nothing short of, if not a miracle, due reward for the team and the fans

With Bolton Wanderers next up at Griffin Park, a win for The Bees will surely see us safe for another season. Let’s just be clear (and this has been said before but it’s worth repeating), Brentford are facing a third successive season in The Championship. Victory on Tuesday night should see us home whilst, combined with a win for Fulham, banging the final nail into the Bolton coffin.

And if ever you needed further incentive, results in the Premier League today left Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United four points adrift of safety. What a campaign already beckons in 2016/17 if we can see ourselves over the line.

Post match celebration on Social Media (specifically Twitter) provided all the expected exuberance from players and supporters alike. Not to mention some unusual posts.

Harlee Dean led the charge with the observation that the win was, “Like a total eclipse. A win and a clean sheet”.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 18.32.10

Perhaps it’s just me but I’m struggling with that one . Still, I’ll forgive Harlee anything he wants if results like that keep coming.

Then it hit me. I’m sure we’ve been here before. I’m happy to stand corrected but the last time Harlee ended up involved in anything Eclipse related, I’m sure it was more a case of his full moon ?

Kev coach

From Full Moon to a total eclipse

Nico Yennaris summed up the mood perfectly. His Twitter quote focussing on the positive rather than the obligatory ‘going again.’ Of all the players he has had to endure the most unwarranted criticism this season. And unfairly in my opinion. How pleasing that it was he who grabbed the decisive second goal today, at the same time opening his account for the Bees.

As he noted afterwards,  “Great to get back to winning ways. Excellent performance from the boys and delighted to get my first goal for the club” .

The other real point for those of us relying on the Internet for our match updates was the absence of Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett on Beesplayer. I know Ciaran was present but his role seemed limited to a brief cameo rather than the excellent wingman position he’d made his own in recent weeks.

Instead, the returning Mark Chapman proved once more that being able to produce an award winning programme does not, by default, make you a pundit. And I’m sorry – I don’t want to sound critical on a day like today. But it just highlighted the fantastic service we’ve had this last month or so and Ciaran was sorely missed.

Likewise, instead of perhaps having an injured/ex player as part of the comms team and talking us through that ‘big match’ experience, we had Mark talking us through his miss at the Feltham Power League on Thursday night. Surely paying subscribers deserve better than this? Absolutely.

As for Mark Burridge, how do you replace perfection? With our commentator par-excellence now on holiday, Alan Denman had the unenviable job of filling in. Moreso, he was tasked with a first half that seemed to provide all the excitement of a pre-season friendly. That was no fault of his and, as we are all aware, the second 45 was certainly a different kettle of fish.

Actually, I thought Alan did well to keep it together. How do you make paint drying (first half, at least) sound exciting? But regardless of the action, or lack of, what was the reason behind the constant references to Yeneris rather than Yennaris; Lassa rather than Lasse ? I would never attempt commentary, or being a pundit, but is it really that hard to get the names of your team right?

As I say, it seems trite to be overly critical. The point is made more to demonstrate the symbiotic partnership we’ve been treated to from Mark B and Ciaran.

Let’s hope that, as we’ve seen today on the pitch, normal service is soon resumed off it once more.

Nick Bruzon

Will the axe swing ? To chop down Forest.

2 Apr

Well, something has to give today as Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest for the return of Championship action following the International break. With the Bees having lost 7(seven) out of the last 8 league fixtures and Forest 6 over the same period, this could be argued as a battle of the anti-form teams.

Equally, it could be argued as the start of a mini-renaissance for one of these two sides. The hosts are only 3 points better off than a Brentford side flirting with the fringes of the Championship relegation pack and so both will be desperate to get back to winning ways. Whilst I’d love to think that such a fate is nothing more a potential statistical anomaly (relegation rather than a return to winning ways) let’s not take anything for granted.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the graphic showing just how our campaign has mirrored that of 1992/93. Equally, nobody needs a reminder as to the denouement of that one. Another Nottingham team (County), ably abetted by a certain Mr.Biggar, denying Brentford a critical win in the 8th minute of alleged stoppage time. This, prior to the advent of the digital scoreboard that gives us some form of warning as to how long buttocks need to be clenched for, was immediately followed by the declaration of full time.

Biggar prog

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Just to make things that bit tougher for the Bees today, not only are we looking like being another two down in midfield but Forest seem set to welcome back the goal scoring machine that is Britt Assombalonga. Having missed out through injury since February 2015, there could be no more dangerous challenge for a defence currently “having a bit of a lull” (Dean Smith’s words) than an ‘on song’ Assombalonga . And try saying that after a few pints.

So do Brentford fans have anything look forward to, aside from the pre/post match trip to Hooters ( noted purely for the burgers and proximity to the City Ground)? Well, we could also have our own changes ‘up top’. Whilst I’ve tipped Lasse Vibe to start today’s game, let’s not forget about both Scott Hogan and Everton loanee Leandro Rodriguez.

Scott, of course, having missed out for even longer than Britt following that horrible injury at Rotherham last season yet his return to action was about the only positive to be taken from the last game, at home to Blackburn. Or could Dean use the enforced absences in midfield to switch us to a more traditional two man attack including Leandro and a.n.other? Whilst I suspect that would be a bridge too far for a team set in its ways, at the very least having a few options in that area of the park marks a rare change for the Brentford head coach.

But for all his enthusiasm Scott has been out of action for an inordinate amount of time whilst Leandro is one to be filed very much in the category of ‘potential’. That’s not to doubt either player’s ability but simply to note that it would be unfair to expect either to hit the ground running and turn into instant saviours. Please, let’s not put the weight of expectation on these shoulders and, instead, remember we are an 11 man team.

image

Scott’s return was the only highlight of a poor showing against Blackburn

Whatever has happened this season, the club are still tremendously well placed. I think back to that Biggar goal and remember just what a devastating blow it was . That utterly numb feeling of knowing we’d lost an incredible opportunity for reasons outside of our control.

Likewise, finishing second and losing to Huddersfield in the 94/95 play-off semi (the season when only the champions went up automatically) or the rarely mentioned incident of Marcello, Kev and ‘that penalty‘ .

I never want to experience those devastating lows again and, thankfully, we still have it well within ourselves to make sure that this season doesn’t even come close to that level of anguish. Besides, look at what happened to those teams who did go up at our expense the year of ‘that penalty’.

Doncaster Rovers are currently 22nd in League One and staring relegation in the face. Yeovil Town meanwhile, who of course kicked us out of the way in the subsequent play-off final, are now 21st in League Two. A return to non-league is a very real possibility.

So however frustrated you may feel at the moment, just remember that things could be an awful lot worse. We have a wonderful club and the chance to take on some huge Championship clubs awaits next season.

Forest stand in our way. Here’s hoping the axe swings.

Metaphorically speaking.

Nick Bruzon

 

It’s all a bit Carry On, Brentford. But who’s joking?

1 Apr

It’s April 1st. It’s a good thing ‘press day’ took place yesterday as Brentford gear up for the trip to Nottingham Forest and a return to league action. Could there be any truth to Beesotted’s latest ‘exclusive’ on the Griffin Park hall of fame? Surely Mark Chapman wouldn’t stoop to these levels? And will ‘official’ look to join in with the hilarity (blue and white 2016 ‘away’ kit to be revealed soon?)

If its humour you want then the closest I can offer is somewhat of an odd vibe yesterday as Dean Smith gave his press conference aswell as enjoying a gentle probing from BBC Billy Reeves. “Philipp Hofmann has been on the grass”, it was reported at one point. This, to help him recuperate from chronic back pain. Clearly, the medicinal benefits not to be underestimated. Of training, that is.

As for those other injuries, the midfield has taken a double hit with Dean confirming to Billy that Josh McEachran could well be out for the rest of the season after suffering what is feared to be “a refracture of the second metatarsal” (looks like he’s broken that foot, again). It is a huge blow for the player and the team – moreso given Dean has also confirmed John Swift will be missing for at least the Nottingham Forest game.

Following the injury suffered on England U-21 duty, John has had to have five stitches in his gash and it is, apparently, “very angry”. I have no idea what Swift’s angry gash looks like and nor would I want to. However, with Dean confirming that all is now forgiven following the strange affair of the ‘hipster meme’, you can be sure that the Chelsea loanee would have figured in his plans otherwise.

20151202-135411-0003-4x3277-2832424_478x359

Could Dean be forced to pick himself?

For me, Clive, this then means that whatever our head coach says about other players being given a chance, he doesn’t really have any choice left in who he plays on Saturday. I’ll be very surprised if the team varies much from: Button, Bidwell, Nico, Harlee, Barbet, Macca, KK, Woods, Judge, Canos, Vibe.

That said, the bench may have a slightly more unusual feel to it. Could we see any of the development squad making the step up following their fine 4-2 victory over Barnsley in midweek to join the likes of Jack O’Connell, Sam Saunders, Marco Djuricin, Scott Hogan, Andy Gogia and Jack Bonham on the subs list ?

Or am I miles off the pace here and Dean be planning a bit of a shake up following his 10 defeats out of 13 in 2016? Who knows how much choice he genuinely has but you can be sure Saturday’s teamsheet will be awaited with intrigue.

The other key point of his interview with Billy was an unexpected level of honesty. “I can understand frustrations….I’d be probably booing if it was my team”, was a somewhat frank admission made at one point.

Fairplay to Dean for saying what many supporters have been thinking but I just hope this doesn’t come back to haunt him. We’re not total idiots and can see what is, or isn’t, happening out there. I’ve a hell of a lot more respect for Dean treating us like this than adopting the Arsene Wenger ‘head in the sand’ approach. If I had a pound for everytime the Frenchman didn’t see an incident I’d be a rich man by now.

Of course, he’ll need to be a tad careful. Those sort of comments can bite you on the behind and were a trademark of Marinus era Brentford (remember that? Personally, I’m trying not to). I guess the flipside is that by Dean’s own admission he doesn’t feel out of his depth whilst, in regards to Matthew Benham and the management set up he sees himself as “very supported”.

A few of our defensive players are having a bit of a lull”, he admitted at one point. Somewhat like saying that the Titanic was having a few issues with water retention yet, at the same time only half the problem. Over reliance on Judge (I’d be intrigued to see how we play without him) and a lack of penetration in front of the goal being equally key.

Dean has his work cut out for him, that’s for sure. We’re not out of the woods yet by any stage and Championship survival is by no means assured. The good news is that destiny is still very much in our own hands and whilst that gap is getting tighter, even the bookies still see us as 33/1 to be playing in League One next season. Equally, Dean knows the areas that need work.

The question is, how does he fix them for Saturday? At Nottingham Forest, we find out.

Harlee

Defensive lulls a scintilating topic

 

With just six to go, is the unthinkable actually possible ?

6 Apr

Brentford take on Nottingham Forest today, knowing another win will really lock up our position in the play off zone and, with Watford hosting Middlesbrough, possibly even send us on a late surge towards the ‘automatic’ places in the Championship table with just six games left to play.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

A packed house, including 6000+ Bees, saw the 4-1 win at Fulham on Friday . More of the same today would be superb

A packed house, including 6000+ Bees, saw the 4-1 win at Fulham on Friday . More of the same today would be superb