Tag Archives: clayton donaldson

Bees blunted by Blades and random ref but what a celebration.

31 Mar

It’s a point closer to the play offs for both teams as a day that saw two controversial dismissals ended with Brentford and Sheffield United drawing 1-1. It was a day that ended with Daniel Bentley winning his personal battle with former Bee Clayton Donaldson as two great stops late on kept us alive. Bristol City, whose own last gasp equaliser at Barnsley gave hope to Birmingham City, are next up in what promises to be a real six-pointer at the right end of the table. With just 7(seven) games to go and the gap to the play-offs 7(seven) points, the chance of a spectacular climax to the season is still there. Just.

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Brentford entertained Harchester United at Griffin Park on Saturday

What can you say about events at Griffin Park where there was a very real danger of having to call out the Coastguard? Well, if the Middlesbrough game was made uncomfortable for the supporters thanks to the snow, this time around it was Biblical levels of rain. Somewhat appropriate for the Easter Weekend and what was still, mostly, a very Good Friday.

Those who took one look at the torrents heading their way and bailed out of coming to this one did, at least, have the consolation of staying dry behind their computers or in front of the TV as it lashed down from the warm up to the post-match handshakes. The water was already spraying up off the surface as Yoann Barbet stroked home dead ball after dead ball in his pre-kick off routine. Conditions didn’t get any better.

By the time we got down to proper business, you could have launched a flotilla down by the Braemar Road touchline. Flo Jo in particular, perhaps ruing one second half challenge that left him soaked through in the quagmire. But if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Pack it up and go home. Not that there was anything particularly hot about yesterday, the first half especially.

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View from the Braemar – Flo ended this one soaked through

That opening period being a somewhat tepid affair that saw even ‘angry dad’, my most favourite amongst those fans who sit around us in the Braemar Paddock (what genuine passion and enthusiasm that always stays the right side of ‘family’) remain silent for the vast majority of that opening period. The linesman on the near side saved the usual telling off that his performance so often warrants.

How things changed when the teams came back out after half time. There was vigour. There was gusto. There was the late arrival of Mrs Bruzon, delayed due to transport debacle. And as such, there was the customary goal for the opposition that her presence so often heralds.

If lucky pants, shirt and not shaving on a winning run work for some supporters, she’s almost the opposite. There have been several moments of what we shall simply call ‘unfortunate timing’ over the years. Within minutes of taking her seat, Sheffield United had taken the lead. A deflected effort from Chris Basham beating Daniel Bentley to make it 1-0. It spurred Brentford into life.

Yet, if Mrs B is somewhat of an albatross at times (in a footballing perspective), young Harry is the opposite. “Daddy. If we score a goal, will you lift me up?” he asked as play resumed.  Little more than ten minutes later, he was being raised aloft as Welsh international Chris Mepham (how good does that sound?) made it all square. His left footed drive from 12 yards out was followed up with the most incredible knee slide across the sodden surface.

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Chris Mepham leads the celebratory charge

Talk about enjoying the moment of his first goal in league football. Yet who could blame him? What a wonderful season it has been for a player plucked from the B-team to the Bees first team. And from there to his national side.

It’s no wonder he celebrated as he did. For once, the horrific conditions aiding the cause There are plenty of tweets doing the rounds of this one. Take your pick. They’re all brilliant.

Yet if the goal was a moment of ecstasy, we were bought crashing back down to earth with a sickening bump moments later. With most supporters watching the celebration, over in the goal mouth referee Jeremy Simpson had taken umbrage with visiting goalkeeper Jamal Blackman lashing out at Ryan Woods. He was red carded yet, likewise, so was our own ginger Pirlo.

Having seen one version of the footage, I’m at a genuine loss as to why we’ve been penalised. Perhaps something was said to the ref or perhaps he had a better view. Perhaps he simply made the mistake that Woody’s subsequent reaction suggested. Who knows? Dean Smith told the waiting media after the game that he hadn’t seen the incident as yet. Perhaps on review he’ll then appeal.

It was a game changing moment. From Brentford pushing, it was United who once more gained the ascendency. Simon Moore was brought on between the sticks to join Clayton and Jack O’Connell as three ex Bees playing for the visitors. Yet it was Daniel Bentley who proved to be busiest from that moment on. He was the man responsible for us gaining the point which has kept faint play-off hopes still alive.

As Dean Smith would note in his press conference, “Nothing has changed. It is still must-win. The less games you have left then the less likely you are to make the Play-Offs if you don’t win games. We have gone four without a win now. We have played very well in two of those games and should have got something. We have to turn that around very quickly now on Monday.

So where do we go from here? Will the Bees appeal? Do we have any hope of the play-offs? A win at Bristol City is a must if that is to happen. Should we be content with aiming for a fourth successive top ten finish? Something that would, in itself, be an incredible achievement for a club with our history and budgetary challenges relative to our rivals.

When you have the likes of Sunderland (whose incredible 4-1 humbling of Derby County was THE result of the day) and Birmingham City tripping each other up at the bottom, it shows yet again that size, reputation and spending prowess count for nothing if you can’t do it when the ref blows his whistle.

Brentford couldn’t quite get the win yesterday. But given all that was going on, I’m well happy with a point.

Roll on Monday.

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Where’s Karl Fletcher?

Nick Bruzon

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On pitch, we’ve Bees v Blades. Off it, we’ve reached the end of an era.

30 Mar

This could be a very Good Friday indeed. Brentford start the four day weekend with a game at home to a Sheffield United team who at one point were looking like the surprise package for automatic promotion and even now are just a couple of points outside the play-off zone. A Sheffield United team who have as many ex-Bees in their squad as Birmingham City (the difference being that the Blades have picked up the baton and run). Jack O’Connell, the always awesome Simon Moore and that demi-God amongst men, Clayton Donaldson, being the terrific trio.

Yet it’s more than simply the big game we need to look at. Away from the action, it seems that we’ll be saying goodbye in some form to a pair of long standing supporters who are both quite unique club ambassadors.  

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Baby Clayton. A star struck fan. And my son

I love Easter weekend. None of the random days off you get at Christmas. For those of us lucky enough to have regular jobs, there’s the regular going to work on a Monday and Tuesday, have Wednesday and Thursday off, then a shlepp back in for one, tedious day after the Festive break. That’s just a tease. Not a holiday.

But this is different.  We’ve got two shortened weeks with a full fat four day break in the middle. And within that, a footballing double header. The trip to Bristol City takes place on Monday but first up, Sheffield United at Griffin Park.

It’s not just the prospect of some down time but more the chance for a return to footballing action after the interminable International break. At least this time around our lack of league football was tempered by the pleasure of watching various past and present Bees in action – of which the appearances for Chris Mepham and Alan Judge were the clear highlights for well documented reasons. That, and a first ever win for Gibraltar as a FIFA member. Yes, I know we spoke about this last time out but some things are worth trumpeting. Liam Walker, you beauty.  Besides, the alternative is to bang on about England fans in Holland or number 26 earning us a cool half million. And nobody needs that.

So this one is all lined up, at least in my head, for that perfect storm of brilliance. The Easter break beginning with the return of Championship action after a few weeks out and and some old friends in tow. My own son doesn’t know how close he was to being called Clayton rather than Harry. Had the big man got the winning goal in the promotion shoot out with a Doncaster Rovers team currently residing in the ‘where are they now’ files, there was a very public agreement that would have resulted in a somewhat different name on his birth certificate.

Can we get the win, though? Absolutely. Play even half as well as we did at times against Middlesbrough last time out (remember that one? A blizzard going on around us and Romaine Sawyers sent off for two of the softest yellow cards you’ll ever see) and the win will surely come. Certainly, I’m expecting this one to be an entertaining goal-fest. Although going purely on my tipping skills, don’t discount the 0-0 at 23/2.

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Last time out v Middlesbrough. Sergi was denied a goal and an orange ball

That’s to look forward to. Off field, supporters were left in shock at the news that came through on social media at the back end of the week. Namely, that two of the most iconic faces linked to Brentford are moving on.

I have to be honest, I had to choke back the surprise and genuine upset at the story in The Times yesterday which said that Natalie Sawyer, THE face of Sky Sports News, has presented her final show without even a word from her employers to the viewers. No fanfare. No mention. No goodbye. That’s it.  I hope this isn’t true but it would certainly seem to be the case and has been picked up by plenty of other sites, too.

We all know what Natalie has done for our club. How much a public face of Brentford FC she is. How much time and effort she puts in to backing the Bees. Ever popular and always taking the time to talk to the fans. An ardent supporter of the BFCCST and even appearing as a regular on BeesPlayer (THAT Keith Stroud game up at Sheffield United) and hosting our end of season Player of The year awards. Amongst other things.

No doubt all of this will continue but, at the same time, it really is the end of an era if Natalie has presented her final bulletin. Truly an inspirational figure, I can’t help but think Sky will fully appreciate just who they have lost until it is too late. Here’s to bigger things.

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The king and queen of Griffin Park commentary

But it’s not just Natalie. King of Stats and Futsal guru Luis Melville has this week worked his final office day at The Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

We all know what incredible work the Trust does and what a KEY individual Luis has been here. Whilst perhaps a little less high profile in the wider public eye, have no doubt that his leaving will as ground shaking as Natalie’s departure. The good news being I’ve seen a tweet from Luis in which he notes that he’ll still be part of the furniture at Griffin Park (good news indeed – and hopefully on comms, too) but perhaps this tweet best sums up the regards in which he is held….

Nick Bruzon

7(seven) and 0. But is it as bad as it looks or is the table lying?

13 Sep

7(seven) games in and Brentford remain locked on three points, sit second bottom in the Championship table and have still failed to record a league win. Our latest attempt saw a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday where despite taking an early lead via Nico Yennaris, normal 2017/18 service soon resumed. The only consolation of the night was another blank and another defeat for a Birmingham City side who now join us in the bottom three.

But first, matters closer to home. Another game, another defeat for Dean Smith and his new look Bees. A trip to Sheffield Wednesday was never going to be an easy one but we were given a gift wrapped start after Nico gave us a 9th minute lead from outside the box. It was less a piledriver and more a bobbling grass cutter but, somehow, Owls ‘keeper Kieren Westwood conspired to let it squirm under his body.

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.

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Dean v Marinus. If we are looking at stats

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Harlee Birmingham tweet

Nick Bruzon

If you can’t beat them (and they can’t), then sign them. Thank you, Aston Villa

2 Feb

The transfer window has closed. Hot off the back of thumping Aston Villa 3-0 at Griffin Park on Tuesday night, Brentford announced that goal machine Scott Hogan had, finally, been sold. Not to long time suitors West Ham – a club who would have, in the short term, fulfilled his Premier League aspirations – but instead to none other than Villa themselves. Championship rivals to the Bees and now sitting below us in the table.

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Aston Villa announce their side of the deal

Good luck to Scott, genuinely. I’m sure we’ve all seen his message to supporters , sent via club Captain Harlee Dean. We’ll miss his goals, no question, but Lasse Vibe showed once more that he is more than capable of stepping up. Moreso given the new look formation employed by Dean on Tuesday night as Aston Villa were put to the sword.

I suppose we’ve a lot to be thankful to Villa for. Brentford have received a record club transfer fee whilst West Ham have been put firmly back in their box. On the pitch, we’ve picked up four points from a possible six over the course of the current season. Our record against Villa now reading:

P2 W1 D1 L0 F4 A1

Not bad, for a pub team.

Then, of course, we’ve got ‘tweet of the season’ from quite possibly football’s angriest fan. This beauty appeared prior to Brentford visiting Villa Park back in September. Fair to say that Master Hateley is probably looking for a new team to support at present. I hear Birmingham City are worth a look. Similar current form and a former Brentford goal machine up front.

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The other reason to be thankful was that it has freed up funds to let us sign Sergi Canos.

Looking at the player’s post on Twitter it would be fair to say he seems as excited as the Brentford supporters about a permanent return to Griffin Park, telling the club that his move was,  “Amazing. I feel full of happiness” before putting his motivation down to the supporters themselves for believing in him.

The whole piece is on Brentford official and well worth a read through. And , for Beesplayer subscribers, there’s even a video. Do take a look, You won’t be disappointed.

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Equally good news about the Canos transfer is that we didn’t use that most cringeworthy of social media devices, a hashtag.To be fair, after #bignewambitions (never, ever forget), #Novemberkings and #trophyfriends, it would be fair to say that the club have been a lot more judicious about the use of such devices.

Instead, Brentford fans have looked on and laughed as other teams fall prey to this trap. The season has already given us QPR with #Jakejoins. Now, we have had #WelcomeScott from Aston Villa.

As correspondent Luis Adriano note on Twitter yesterday, it looked as though he was standing in front of a TV weather map, Carol Kirkwood style. All that was missing were a few magnetic stickers. Personally, I’m more a Michael Fish fan – from a meteorological perspective – although do think Luis may have a point.

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That said, looking at Scott’s stance – classic Antoine de Caunes – he is perhaps more kitted out to stand in for the host of early-90s pop culture show, Rapido. Whilst I can’t imagine Scott ever cracking out the “Rap, Rap, Rap, Rapiiiidoo” (kids, ask your dads), he does have a certain Je ne sais quoi about him.

In all seriousness though, there’s nothing but genuine good wishes toward Scott. We all know the 18 month injury hell he went through which now seems well behind him whilst his goals saved us on more than a few occasions.

I’m sure he’ll continue to find the back of the net for Villa. Indeed, I hope he does. There’s more than a few ’Scott Hogan – leading Championship goalscorer’ bets that are still well alive.

For research purposes, of course.

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Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees stung, Newcastle lose (?!),Spurs dumped and Jose strops. A week in football

28 Nov

Brentford lost 2-1 to Birmingham City despite doing everything but scoring an equaliser in a frenetic denouement. Our previous conquerors, Blackburn Rovers, did it again as runaway Newcastle United were put to the sword at St .James Park. The #Rafalution hitting a bump in the road as six changes proved to be a shuffle to far for the Magpies. Norwich lost their fifth on the bounce to set up an interesting one next weekend whilst at the bottom Blackburn are finally clear. Cardiff City replace them to join Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United in making up the final three.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

As ever, we start with Brentford where former Bee Clayton Donaldson clearly felt he had been harshly treated by the home fans. And goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. Was Dan wearing spiked gloves? Or just an unfortunate coming together as the big man went down?

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The difference between ‘official’ and ‘voice of the fans’ was highlighted by a man who seems to be a regular fixture on these pages – Adam Devlin. A beautiful piece of symmetry on his Twitter feed highlighting the difference between clubspeak on the match feed and the wonderful team behind Beesotted telling it how it was.

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And another regular member of  Brentford Twitter, Bernard Quackenbush, is also back.

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Terrace Talk is back – the last edition in the short term . You can find the full video further on but this week’s topic is ‘ What do you want for Christmas’ ? And, it would seem by looking at social media feed, most fans would be happy unwrapping Jota. Could it happen? Should it happen? Will it happen? I’m not holding my breath.

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Sean asks what fans want for Christmas….

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….something from Spain would be nice

It was also a special birthday this week (and I don’t mean in an Ian Moose style – we’ll get to him later). Former player, manager and current chief scout Andy Scott being the man to celebrate. Forget Jota, I’d be happy for this shirt. In the rarely seen long sleeves, certainly one of our very best efforts over the years.

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Away from the Bees, it has been a quiet week on Championship Twitter. Perhaps this one from George Riley summing up how smoothly everything has gone.

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Nice work George – what a step up from that first show…

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It was a busy week in Europe. Spurs capitulated in the Champions’ League – a fact picked up on by just about everybody.

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Still, North London rivals Arsenal didn’t have it much better. Although this was nothing to do with any matters ‘on pitch’ .

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Manchester United won, heavily, (not a typo) although Wayne Rooney still had a bee (wasp?) in his bonnet over the ludicrous stories about ‘that wedding’.

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Mr P. Power of Ireland was several days late to the party, with a similar observation to one made by our own Alan Judge and which featured in last weeks column.

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Infact, it seems the online bookmakers are all employing comedians in a bid to generate Twitter presence. Well – it is working, to be fair. Our own club sponsors stumbling across this one from a Danish team called FC Midgetland, Walter Mitty land…? No, never heard of them.

Indeed, 888 were on the mark even yesterday. With an observation that could have been lifted straight from the West Ham United / new stadium school of reporting, they noted:

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But forget West Ham as the main focus was Manchester United, again, on Sunday. Some would call him charismatic; other’s a tw*t. However, Jose Mourinho can’t help himself.

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And finally (before Terrace Talk), it’s time for Ian Moose’s birthday friend of the week. Which player has been given the ultimate accolade of seeing his birthday published alongside a picture of themselves with the catering obsessed journalist. This week: Yakubu

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Enough. Here’s Terrace Talk

Genius, as ever

Nick Bruzon

Where’s Miss Marple? BBC Phil nails it as Birmingham City get away with murder.

27 Nov

Well, perhaps murder is a bit extreme. Although if not that, certainly a case of “Call the police, there’s been a robbery” as Birmingham City left a sunset drenched Griffin Park with all three points yesterday following a 2-1 win over Brentford. With Norwich City also losing, again, it makes next weekend’s road trip very interesting indeed.

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Griffin Park looked glorious, even if the result wasn’t

But before we get too ahead of ourselves and think about Carrow Road , let’s look back at this one first. For me, it was a game which could be summed up at the highest level in three quotes:

Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett :“We rode our luck and if luck was a horse I have won the Grand National today”.

Dean Smith: “If it was a boxing match it would have been stopped”

Phil Parry of BBC London : How is it still 1-0 to Brum??? How did Vibe not score?? Where’s Miss Marple?

First up, Mr Rowett. Honest of him to admit but, equally, teams ride their luck. Teams take their chances. Teams play worse and win. His Birmingham did that yesterday, ably helped by a couple of wonder saves from Tomasz Kuszczak in the second half.

As for the goals, both were presented to Birmingham on a plate. The first saw a penalty awarded for a foul on Clayton Donaldson as the former Bee ran onto a ball threaded straight through the midfield and our plethora of centre backs. Dan Bentley was adjudged to have brought him down and the spot kick duly despatched. Indeed, but for Andreas Bjelland running across, surely red would have been shown and, with it, a possible league debut for Jack Bonham.

The irony of Clayton even winning a penalty at Griffin Park was missed by nobody. I’ve lost count of the number of nailed on spot kicks denied in League One as he’d be kicked, tripped , manhandled or wrestled to the ground only to see his claims waived away. Maybe it was just a Brentford thing.

I’ve all the time in the world for the big man, even now. When his contract expired, Birmingham were there to offer him what he wanted and allow him to move closer to home. We couldn’t match that. And so some of the abuse he was coming in for yesterday seemed harsh – especially after the penalty. What’s he going to do – not score? I’m not going to openly cheer somebody who is now an opposition player but at the same time, have some class.

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View from the terrace – Clayton fires home for 0-1

The second goal was an equally disappointing one to concede. Also, from a dead ball situation as a free kick was awarded in front of the away fans and out near the Braemar Road touchline . With all the time we needed to set ourselves up to defend, City were still able to float it over our plethora of centre backs to the far post where Ryan Shotton was able to stroll clear of his marker and tap home for 2-0.

As for Dean Smith, he can talk about it being a boxing match that should have been stopped but that’s not how football works. Nobody cares how much possession a team had, how many shots were rifled in or how unlucky you were. At the end of the day, Clive (and as we’ve said many times before) the only stat that counts is balls in the back of net.

“If we played them ten times again we would beat them nine times: It was that one sided” he also added – that one in the interview on ‘official’. He’s probably right but we got off to a very slow start in a system that took everybody some getting used to – three centre backs in the middle and a fourth playing out left, with Max Colin on the right. To be fair to Dean, I had wondered if this is how he would crowbar the glut of defensive talent together and so let’s not write this one off. Certainly, it allowed Barbet to get into some very advanced positions and I’ve a feeling we’ll see more of the same against Norwich next weekend.

Yet despite Brentford continuing to build the pressure, turn the screw and find ourselves in full ‘unlucky’ mode, it was the second half and Birmingham were 2 goals up. Then Scott Hogan happened. Again.

Getting onto the end of a ball floated into the box from Josh Clarke, he beat Kuzczak to dink his header past the otherwise excellent ‘keeper and into the back of the net to send the home fans delirious. It set up the proverbial grandstand finale in which if Dean Smith had a kitchen sink on the bench I’m sure he would have brought that on, such was the amount chucked at the Birmingham goal .

And then it happened. 2-2!! Andreas Bjelland with a header from a Ryan woods cross. Or was it Scott Hogan with the faintest of toe pokes from an Andreas Bjelland header? Either way, the one man goal machine was adjudged offside as a result. Standing behind the goal it looked like Bjelland’s effort all the way and a very harsh call from the referee and his his assistant. Brentford official were more diplomatic in their match repot saying, “It is possible that if Hogan had not touched it the goal may have stood but the movement of the Brentford man definitely affected Kuszczak and he would probably have saved it without the touch.

The third quote at the top end was from Phil Parry, on Twitter, mid-match as Lasse Vibe failed to put it in from yards out with the ‘keeper beaten and two defenders on the line.

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Gut reaction at the time was, like Phil, just how did he miss that? How? Looking back at the video  – and you can see the highlights on Sky at present (until the BeesPlayer goes live at mid-day)  – perhaps at first the ball gets gets caught up in his legs a bit. Likewise, he maybe takes one turn too many that allows the defenders time to position themselves more. Either way, a chance that he’ll be bitterly disappointed not to have buried from that starting position.

It was always going to be tough game. To be honest, we created more decent chances than I expected us to . It’s just a huge shame that when it came to putting them away a combination of great ‘keeping and bad luck have conspired against us. Then again,  Birmingham City have delivered the quintessential lesson in taking the opportunity when it arises.

Dean Smith also noted at full time that,  “We have played two weekends, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City, and we should be sitting here really pleased with six points…However, we are here with zero and that is the Championship.

It is Dean, it is. But with only 1 win from the last 8 games, I’m very interested to see what you do next to try and increase those points from zero to three. Surely it can’t all be down to bad luck?

As for next weekend and Norwich City, well they lost again yesterday. That’s five defeats in a row for the once high flying Canaries. Are they the ones to help us return to wining ways…?

Nick Bruzon 

Gloves are off as rivalry with Birmingham City resumes

26 Nov

Saturday. Match day. Time to renew one of the more recent, but unlikely, rivalries. For Brentford supporters the likes of Fulham and QPR are, of course, the ones to get the blood pumping when it comes to those ‘must win’ games. Yet for those of us supporting a little longer, Birmingham City have more than given us a run for the money and some high stakes battles over the years.

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

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View from the terrace – Deano and Terry celebrate promotion at Peterborough

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as the Blues just edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the camapign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was The Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

And that then, three seasons ago, something wonderful happened. Brentford returned to what is now the  Championship. With it, a chance to deliver some pay league back. Finally. Yet whilst our own campaigns at this level have seen wonderful finishes of 5th, 9th and the Bees currently five points off the play-offs, Birmingham have been somewhat of a bogey team. A solitary point from our four encounters to date being the best we’ve had to show for it  – that, a 1-1 back in August 2014 .

So which way will it go today? Money where the mouth is – a Brentford win. Gut reaction was to call it 1-1 in a match preview for the Birmingham Mail yesterday but, I’ve been thinking more and more about this. For me, this has the look of a gritty game played out between two sides with rock solid defences. Yet, at the same time, I think it will have goals in it. Three to be precise. With the Bees coming out on top by 2-1. Lasse, Scott and, for the visitors, a certain Mr Donaldson.

Clayton gloves Brentford

Clayton – a Brentford legend

Yes, the other highlight of today (not counting the free chili in The Hive) is the chance to see Clayton back at Griffin Park.

Always a hugely popular figure, even to this day, he’s a Brentford legend whose goals helped fire us to promotion and earn the chance to take on the likes of Birmingham once more. Of course, there’ll be no pleasantries when action begins (although hopefully fans will show him the respect due) but I’m sure I won’t be alone in feeling a pang of fondness for the big man when he’s out there.

As a final note, a quick follow up to yesterday’s piece in regards to Rainbow Laces weekend. Fans may already be aware of the special match day programme on sale in/around the ground whilst Captain Harlee Dean (who also gives an exclusive on his ‘coming of age’ and life at Griffin Park) has already been photographed with a special armband.

Fans expecting to see him sporting that one on match day may be disappointed. Infact, the rainbow captain’s armband is a promotional item and it is expected that regular versions will be used at the games this weekend.

Indeed, Stonewall have told clubs that they understand that players might not want to change their laces for a game. Instead, players can show and document their support in other ways, such as Harlee did in such wonderful fashion on Thursday.

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Harley Dean shows his support

I can fully get behind that. We all have our match day kit jinxes, rituals and comfort factors – magic pants, lucky shirt, the ragged old scarf from the 70s that all go towards Brentford winning. I was devastated when the lucky ‘spiderman’ undergarments went to that great bin in the sky. For the players, I can only imagine the importance of kit, footwear, boots and laces that they are familiar with is tenfold to that of us on the terrace.

Whichever way they are dressed, here’s hoping for a great game and the right result. It’s been a long time coming. 62 years, to be precise. Looking at the BBC preview this morning I was shocked to see the last time Brentford beat Birmingham in a league fixture at Griffin Park being a 2-0 back in March 1954. Top scorer Frank Dudley adding further to his tally with both goals on that day.

Perhaps time to look to history and revise that bet? 2-0 Brentford with Scott Hogan scoring is 22/1. Then again, the earlier 2-1 /scorers prediction comes in at a very handsome 177/1. On second thoughts, knowing my betting history spare coins will probably better spent on the aforementioned match day programme instead.

I wouldn’t want to jinx the team….

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Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. A week in football as Aston Villa await and West Ham implode.

12 Sep

Brentford picked up all three points at Brighton to head into Wednesday’s game with Aston Villa in high spirits whilst Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United, like the Bees, both recorded a 2-0 away win. These, results that allow them to sit first and second respectively and, in the case of the former, sending Leeds United into the relegation zone where they now sit just behind Wigan Athletic. The supposed conflagration engulfing Will Grigg proving insufficient to stop them making it three defeats on the spin. Meanwhile, defeat for Fulham (Clayton Donaldson both scoring and missing penalties against David Button) and a tepid draw for the Loftus Road mob at home to Blackburn mean the West London triumvirate are separated by just one point and goal difference respectively.

That’s the most recent Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the next of our regular Monday morning feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media over the last seven days.

We’ll start off, as ever, with Brentford.The win over Brighton and the trip to Villa Park on Wednesday have everybody in high spirits. Regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush summarising one of the best moments from the Amex in a single tweet. Kids, you may need to ask your parents.

Billy Reeves, in the meantime, taking over from stats guru Luis Melville with something which, if not over elaborate, shows what true football immolation is (and please, let’s NOT rip off that song. It’s bad enough we’ve appropriated one from Oldham).

And talking of stats, how’s this for an Aston Villa related one? Brentford really have nothing to lose and everything to gain later this week. With a fleet of free coaches heading up the motorway c/o the club sponsors, will you be there to see if we can move that ‘W’ column from 0 to 1 ?

But, as ever, it was Kitman Bob who proves to be the wonderful random element, a so called ‘x-factor’, at Brentford official. The frog DNA in the otherwise ‘perfectly safe’ laboratory controlled environment of club twitter. (Bob, if you are reading, that’s a good thing – trust me). Let’s hope he doesn’t get preserved in amber and, instead, keeps the zingers coming…

Saturday saw a surprise visitor to the New Inn. Former Bee and Leeds United legend Chris Kamara (amongst the numerous accolades on his still glittering CV) popping in for an afternoon off.

Regular readers to this column will be aware of my admiration for Sam Saunders. Our number 7(seven) summing up everything it means to play for Brentford in terms of what seems to be his genuine love for the game, the team and the fans. Then , of course, there’s the shorts, the tan, the free kicks and his wonderful use of Twitter.

Before we move on to the wider football world, the  last Brentford related matter of the week concerns a supporter rather than a player. Specifically Luis Adriano. Whilst, of course, a few fans have released club related books in recent years (with varying degrees of success and publicity) Luis isn’t one to overly blow his trumpet.

Yet he has taken the step of writing a third novel. And it is has just been released. Words can’t put into, erm, words what a huge undertaking this is and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. The link below should give you more of a flavour

Next up, referees. We’ve seen a much tougher stance from the men in black this season in an attempt to cut down on back chat, abuse and petulance. Rightly so, in my eyes. Yet, equally, the hard line has extended to diving, pulling and now, it seems, general over-exuberance. Certainly something for our own players to watch out for following Nottingham Forest’s late equaliser at Villa Park yesterday.

But if Pereira had it bad, spare a thought for Joe Hart. Already shown the cold shoulder at Manchester City, he had a rotten start to his loan career at Torino. The performance on pitch was bad enough, by all accounts, yet things had already gone South before a ball was even kicked.

Not even opponents Atalanta running out to Status Quo ( Whatever You Want) was enough to inspire him. Many thanks to the soothsayer of scores, Richie Firth on the Absolute Radio Christian O’Connell breakfast show, for that gem. As Richie noted this morning, “How often do you hear of teams running out to Status Quo”. Sadly, never – Richie .

Perhaps my own suggestion of ‘Down, Down’ for our own #BeeTheDJ not quite so silly !

Still, if Manchester City have made a shrewd move in the transfer market with that one, can the same be said of Manchester United? The much trumpeted record transfer of Paul Pogba hasn’t, so far, proven to be the success intended.

As ever, though, it is the regular visitors to this column that provide the weekend’s big story. West Ham have done it again. If Hart was hapless, what does that make the Hammers? Fisticuffs in the stands and the scared children were the least of their concerns after Saturday’s result.

Angelo Ogbonna of West Ham, who didn’t make it onto the pitch during the 4-2 home humping administered by Watford,  still took the time to share the score with his followers. Proving a point that he hadn’t featured or just totally misreading the situation? As one Brentford fan noted, imagine the meltdown if Harlee Dean had done this..

C2C railway had to give this advice to their passengers. Things going well at the Olympic Park, then ?

But it was an X-Factor reject who really summed thing up for the one time Upton Park outfit.

But if West Ham fans feel like they are getting the rough end of the stick, spare a thought for Southend United. Their loan deal with Crystal Palace not proving quite as well researched as the one which brought Sullay Kaikai to Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

Who’s on the move? Who’s in the bath? And is this kit news?

6 Jul

With domestic football having had somewhat of a quiet few months, things have suddenly exploded into life. There’s been more good news for Brentford fans with Scott Hogan looking good in ‘pre-season’ whilst, on the downside, Liverpool have accepted a bid from Norwich for Sergi Canos. Fan favourite Clayton Donaldson has been on tour, and in the bath, with Birmingham City where the St. Andrews club have taken no prisoners when it comes to updating social media. And, there’s been kit news out of Griffin Park……

First up, Scott Hogan. Whilst we all know that he came back from that horrendous injury with a glut of goals at the end of last season, how good to see him on the training ground yesterday. His own Twitter update of “Enjoying my first pre season for a couple of years” said it all, really.

This was accompanied by the picture below, showing the free scoring striker being put through his paces and not, as has been suggested, tripping over a twig. We’ve been there, done that, never again please. Seriously though, this is fantastic news for a player who more than rewarded the faith shown in him by Matthew Benham, Neil Greig and the Bees medical team over the 18 months of his recovery.

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Scott’s instantgram update

And from one striker to another. Although this time a former one in Clayton Donaldson who is now, of course, plying his trade at Birmingham City. And, just as a side note, are there any professions other than football where one is deemed to “ply his trade”? Answers on postcard, marked ‘ply’.

Whilst the Bees may be at Jersey Road for now, The Blues are currently in Marbella preparing for the forthcoming season. Sadly they don’t have the equivalent of Peter Gilham’s wonderful tour diary (I can’t wait for this year’s edition) but there is the usual montage of pictures. And the unusual.

Specifically one of Clayton who, coincidentally, we were talking about in the warmest terms just a few days ago. Well, now its time to talk about him in the coldest terms (I’ll put the crowbar away). Not literally as, instead, I’ll  leave you with this image of him and Birmingham team mate Jacques Maghoma enjoying  – if that’s the word – three minutes in the ice bath.

Clayton bath

Things I never thought I’d see

This was taken off their Twitter feed pretty sharpish although still exists, for now, on ‘the wall’ . No idea why. It’s just a bit of harmless fun and good to see ‘the other side’ of football. We have an antigravity treadmill and Cryo chamber. Birmingham have weight lifting and bath tubs (all can be found on our respective club ‘wall’ / Twitter accounts) .

Regardless, Clayton remains a legend in my eyes and its always great following what the big man has been up to.

Could Sergi Canos be back at Griffin Park next season? Playing against us? The BBC report that Liverpool have accepted a £2.5 million bid for the Spanish wunderkind. Not from the Bees but a Norwich City side who have just sold Nathan Redmond to Southampton.

Nobody needs me to spell out the threat and the potential that Sergi posesses. The impact he made at Griffin Park whilst on loan from Liverpool was an incredible one whilst I still get a buzz just thinking about ‘that goal’ at Reading. It was incredible to see it live; watching it on repeat does nothing to diminish the quality.

Mark Burridge has another ‘Jota moment’

If this move does play out then I can only wish Sergi well. He only ever showed the utmost enthusiasm on and off pitch when it came to Brentford. Sure, it would be great to see him back in the red and white but, equally, we’ve not done too badly when it comes to shopping ourselves.

And finally, regular readers will be aware of what could discreetly be called ‘a passing interest’ in all things kit related on these pages. Could we about to be given more news as to what the Bees will be wearing next season?

Much like Peter Gilham’s tour diary, Mark Devlin’s annual strip tease is fast becoming one of the most hotly anticipated moments of the summer. Whilst this year’s has taken a touch longer to begin (or is that just the anticipation), the eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted this on ‘official’ twitter yesterday.

I may have to go and borrow Clayton’s ice bath.

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Not my words etc. etc. etc.

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs (especially about Sergi’s time at Griffin Park) then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading

Jake joins? Farewell Bidwell, just don’t ‘do a Rowlands’

2 Jul

For all the positive news coming out of Griffin Park yesterday, many Brentford fans have been left distraught when it was announced that captain Jake Bidwell would be joining QPR. His move to Loftus Road had been rumoured for some time but now it has been confirmed. Wow !

What can you say? There were equal amounts of warmth and vitriol flying around yesterday, something to be expected. Not at Jake departing. He’s been with us since November 2011 and so it’s only natural he would move at some point. Short of Kevin O’Connor, the days of players seeing out their career at one club are very much the thin end of the footballing wedge.

Supporter frustration has been more at the choice of destination. There? Really ? That’s been very hard for many to take. The memory of Martin Rowlands kissing ‘that badge’ is one that remain fresh in the mind, even now. Supporter memories run deep and things like that aren’t forgotten.

Then there was a hashtag. #Jakejoins. Seriously? Is he taking up woodwork? Ewww. Not good. It would be fair to say he didn’t look overly comfortable in those signing photos. Perhaps it was just wearing a QPR shirt after so long in the red and white or just knowing he been landed with one of those much maligned twitter ‘handles’.

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Jake looks ecstatic at the news he has earned a hashtag

Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth. Firstly, a huge THANK YOU to Jake for everything he did at Brentford. He’s played a huge role in the team that bounced back from ’that penalty’, that got promoted to the Championship, that came within 180 minutes of the Premier League and then held their nerve last season, when all around were shouting doom and gloom, to end the season in ninth. A position which, for the record, was five points and three places ahead of the QPR side he now joins.

Next up, good luck. Seriously. I liked Jake, a lot. He always came across as the model professional and nobody could doubt what he meant to the team or the fans. Adding an attacking element, and goals, to his game only gave his play an extra dimension and we will miss him. Equally though, we will cope.

Last season showed how. The destruction of the squad that finished fifth was not pretty. The subsequent performances were painful, at times, but we got things together and have been left with a wonderful team. Tom Field gave a gob-smacking debut against Fulham when Jake did miss out and, surely, he’ll be lined up for that position now. Potentially, with support through the in-door (unless, of course, Dean is looking to convert another midfielder or, even, centre back? )

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field replaced Jake against Fulham

Players come and players go. Those who have left the Bees to line up against us in recent seasons haven’t had the easiest of times upon their return. Look at Andre Gray or Moses Odubajo. We’ve kept Clayton Donaldson quiet although I could never say a bad word about him, in any circumstance. Clayton was just fab.

And so was Jake.

I don’t envy him joining that circus up at Loftus Road. I certainly don’t envy him the reaction he is, undoubtedly, going to get from an element of our support – that’s football. Deal with it. I’m sure he will.

He’s made a decision that I am sure he sees in his best interests – financially and in footballing terms. We’ll miss Jake but we’ll be as strong without him.

Brentford finished 9th last season. QPR 12th. I fancy us to go better this time around. I fancy them to self-destruct.

jake joins

When I read #Jakejoins I presumed….

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs about Jake’s time at Griffin Park  then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading