Tag Archives: commentary

All to play for on Saturday after a gritty night and controversy at Griffin Park.

3 Oct

Brentford climb the table after a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City at Griffin Park but it was very much a case of Cheer up, Garry Monk. Or however it is the song goes. Blues manager Monk was left fuming after a red card for Maikel Kieftenbeld, following a clash with Neal Maupay, saw his side reduced to ten men. And his own subsequent dismissal from the touchline. Yet if it was a soft decision, and both managers’ words at full time were telling, The Bees were due something back after Saturday’s quite awful officiating in the 2-2 with Reading. As Leeds United returned to the top of the Championship, themselves 1-0 winners at Hull, Dean Smith has a lot to think about ahead of our trip to Elland Road on Saturday.

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View from one New Road observer.. fight,fight, fight….

If we were due a refereeing kick back (and in true Arsene Wenger style, I didn’t see the incident whilst even Sky Sports Leeds were somewhat selective with their post-match highlights package) then perhaps we were also due one on pitch. Dean Smith very much shuffled his after replacing Daniel Bentley with Luke Daniels. This, following Saturday’s double fumble. So there was no irony lost in Birmingham goalkeeper Lee Camp – a man who has had more clubs than Harlee Dean has had red cards – allowed Josh McEachran’s first half free-kick through his hands and into the back of the net for 1-1. It WAS a wonderfully hit effort from the New Road side but, being honest, should never have allowed a first goal in 188 appearances for a player who would rightly go on to scoop ‘Man of the match’ honours.

Prior to this, Michael Morrison had given the visitors the lead, heading home from a Jota cross. Or Hoe-ta, as Peter Gilham still insists on calling him. How I’ve missed that wonderful pronunciation from our redoubtable man-with-the-mic . Yet it was just about all the mercurial Spaniard did in the hour and a half he was on pitch. Yoann Barbet had him in the back pocket whilst Josh whipped the ball of his toes a number of times.

Daniels wasn’t the only change for the Bees. Out wide, we were missing both Saïd Benrahma and Ollie Watkins (suspended and injured respectively). Whilst Alan Judge and Sergi Canos are both wonderful, it deprived Dean Smith his normal option to mix it up in the second half. And with Birmingham City packing 11 behind the ball, there was no third gear to accelerate into as the game progressed. Indeed, and you have to give credit to Monk, his stifling of the game meant our short sharp passing game had no way through. Our 74% possession unable to be turned into real chances. Only Henrik Dalsgaard, pushed forward towards the end with Maupay having little joy against the lumbering Birmingham defence,  came close to sending The Bees faithful home happy. Camp making amends for his earlier butter fingers to pull off a point blank save with the clock deep in injury time.

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Brentford ‘Official’ capture the goal on Twitter

It was very much a case of parking the proverbial bus with the Bees unable to get past. That’s a tactic I suppose. Whatever you think, it worked. The only exception being with the goal where rather than parking the bus, Harlee and crew may aswell have parked a small car, slapped a bow on the front and left the keys in the ignition with the engine running. It was all the more silly given they’d had time to line themselves up and so, perhaps, as much credit needs to be given to Josh for pulling off something that nobody expected. Either way, in a scrappy match let’s be grateful for the opportunity.

One apiece at full time. The Ealing Road reminding Harlee Dean that “You can’t”. At least, I think that’s what they were singing. Another point gained and another place climbed in the table. We’re now up to fifth after other results went the way of The Bees. Yet, at the same time, Leeds and Middlesbrough have opened up a five-point gap on us in the top two slots whilst only two points separate The Bees from Bolton in fifteenth. The table really is that tight at present.

Dean Smith would use his own post-match interview to give credit to Birmingham for their game play which saw our own bright start snubbed out in a game that very much felt “Like one that got away again.” As for the sending off his opinion was that, “The lad raised his hands…so he goes down. Have a go at the fourth official”.

Dean talks to ‘official’ at full time.

For Birmingham City, Garry Monk had his own thoughts on the red card. He told reporters that “I thought the opposition player would be booked for feigning injury so to see a red card was a complete shock…After 23 years in football I know something when I see it.” Certainly, his reaction was one of fury as he was sent to join Kieftenbeld for an early bath. Or wherever it is red carded managers go to. I’ve no doubt the player’s ban will be appealed going by his own touchline explosion

As for Saturday, let’s hope Ollie is fit and able to rejoin Saïd in the matchday squad. Dean would tell ‘official’ how he had an injection in an ‘angry toe’ at the Reading game. By his own admission, the absences limited our own attacking options but, and it needs to be noted again, Birmingham City did a job on us. They were deserving of a point that makes it an incredible 8 draws out of 11 games for them. That record, I fear, something that is going to be trotted out as much as West Ham’s moving stadium West Ham’s winning the World Cup in 1966, Trevor brooking’s header in the cup final or The World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard being a Brentford player. If only somebody had said.

There’s not much more to say. We didn’t win. We have a tough trip to Leeds United coming up. But nobody said it would be easy. More importantly, we’ve jumped another place in the league. I’m not quite sure how that has happened but the table doesn’t lie.

And that’ll do me.

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Garry goes for a bath – c/o Matt Davis

Nick Bruzon

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The lunchtime after the night before. Arsenal through despite storming second half from Bees.

27 Sep

If only….. So close….. Why didn’t he go for it from kick off?…. Why can’t we just enjoy a big game just even one fuc&ing time?…. I enjoyed half a big game – should have been a whole one but for team selection.” These, just some of the things I saw / heard after Arsenal beat Brentford 3-1 in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup third round. It’s the obvious reaction to a game that, once The Bees stepped up in the second half, was about as exciting as they come. Likewise, and I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t disappointed on seeing that our usual starting XI weren’t in the frame for the opening period, it really has the feeling of an opportunity missed. In the immediate short term.

I don’t subscribe to any ‘big day out’ nonsense. This was a cup tie in an arena that was about as sanitised and sterile as they come and hardly the place where, but for a ball pulled from the hat, one would come to voluntarily. Giant ‘goal flags’, players giving out counter terrorism advice on the big screens and even mid-match graphics exhorting the home fans to ‘Come On You Reds.’ At one point I had to double check that the flag saying Arsenal Library actually said Arsenal Liberia. For me, this was all about the chance to progress against a club still labouring to escape the grisly shadow of, by their esteemed standards, recent mediocrity. A team sure to have been playing several reserves. They duly obliged.

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Arsenal library

Let’s be honest here, the first half was hard work. We weren’t even close to coming second as the hosts, helped by a very early goal, slipped effortlessly into cruise control. Reserves or otherwise. The Bees looked lethargic; the crowd subdued. That we were only two down at half time was as much thanks to Arsenal failing to put this one to bed. Halftime couldn’t come soon enough but, with it, Dean Smith seemingly delivered the mother of all team talks.

Sergi and, in particular, Alan Judge burst into life. Kamo mopping up the midfield. Dean’s initial selection more than justified as The Bees woke up. A goal threatened and came via a quite wonderful free kick from Judgey on the hour. Situated deep in the heart of Saunders territory, he was the last person anyone expected to hit it from the clutch of players gathered over the ball. But boy, what a sweet strike up, over and around the wall that left Jay Leno in the Arsenal goal with no chance. Sumptuous.

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Over the wall and en-route to goal

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Yesssssss !!!!!

An immense knee slide followed as the Brentford fans exploded. Not literally. Although that earlier advice might at least have come in handy. Could we haul ourselves back into this? The addition of Henrik Dalsgaard adding further strength. Likewise Maupay and Benrahma. It wasn’t for a want of trying, that’s for sure.

Sadly though, it wasn’t to be. The prolific Lacazette putting it out of sight deep into stoppage time to give the game that final 3-1 score. No complaints from me with the end result but a lot to think about on the way home and a lot of time to do it thanks to the tube strike.

Dean’s team selection…. Absolutely I was gutted to see the likes of Said Benrahma, Neal Maupay and Daniel Bentley on the bench when the teams were announced. After all the hype, build up and ‘that’ Chelsea cup tie I really thought we’d hold firm. We didn’t. I understand why. These were still more than recognised players who came in at a point where the team are in the midst of a 7(seven) game run over 22 days.

Fitness and rotation are the obvious factors at play here whilst the second half proved that, actually, Dean called it right. He picked a side that had the ability to do a job. To a man they came out and put a stunning shift in after half-time with the performance further bolstered by later substitutions. It was the first half ‘no show’ that left us on the backfoot and with a mountain to climb. Rabbits in the headlights of slick, but comfortable opponents who play at that level for a reason.

We could have won. We maybe should have won. I’m still not sure why we took so long to start firing given how we came flying out of the traps in the second period. Would the team that lost at Frank Lampard’s Derby County on Saturday have fared any better? Alan Judge scored a wonder goal but that’s all I can take away from this in the direct aftermath. So close counts for nothing. That’s not to overlook the fact that, personally, I’m immensely cheered and proud by how we grew into this one.

As ever, some perspective. And as much to me. Whilst this was from many respects a chance to really make a name for ourselves, at the end of the day (Clive) we’re moaning about not beating Arsenal. Despite a moribund first half we were alive and in it until the final minute.

That’s no bad yardstick of progress in my eyes. We’ve got two more league games to come in less than a week. Thankfully, both at home. Get six points against Reading and Birmingham then we’ll be looking at last night less as an opportunity missed, less as us ‘not enjoying a big game’ as was earlier noted and more a stepping stone en route to bigger and better things.

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The moment- 2-1 and game on!!!

Nick Bruzon

Maupay? Yes please. More Pie? No thanks.

20 Aug

What a weekend. Brentford picked up another three points and have gone another game unbeaten. A 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday see the Bees up to fourth place in the embryonic table on 7(seven) points, three off the top and with a mid-week trip to Aston Villa next up. Elsewhere, it was a case of being deafened by the brackets klaxon as QPR went down by that fateful scoreline at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. On the down side, Ian Moose was back at Griffin Park.

We can only start with Brentford and another win for Dean Smith’s Bees. It was, by all accounts, as comfortable as they come – barring one block from Daniel Bentley at 1-0. A goal in either half wrapped things up. Neal Maupay with the first from the penalty spot and then the fox-in-the-box turning from poacher to provider as he set up Ollie Watkins for our second.

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Monday Motivation on Twitter from @BrentfordFC

I say ’by all accounts’. Yours truly wasn’t at this one although attendance was already off the moment the game was moved to a Sunday with a long standing engagement taking precedence. As it happens sickness took hold and so both the game and the previously booked party also had to be missed, much to my dismay. Instead, it was a day spent feverishly sprawled out on the sofa under a duvet and having to follow the game via the open window and the cheers from Griffin Park.

So what can we say? Well, Dean started his third successive league game with an unchanged team. Meaning no start for Ryan Woods although he has now been named as substitute, albeit unused. One can understand Dean’s desire not to break up a team on form whilst, at the same time, his looking to ease the supporters’ (and travel club) player of the year back into the side after the bids from Swansea City.  

Could Aston Villa see him back in league action or will it be ‘more of the same’? With a bench that already seems to have the magnificent Said Benrahma, Kamo and Alan ‘The magician’ Judge as first choice changes for now, might this still be too soon for The Ginger Pirlo to be thrown back into action? Nobody is going to give up their place easily, that’s for sure. What a wonderful ‘problem’ for Dean to have.

The popular consensus on social media was that this was a win that, if anything, could have been even heavier:

@nickcarthew:If one were to be REALLY critical @BrentfordFC should have won that game much more comfortably.

@fatwhit5:@BrentfordFC may I be as bold to suggest that this week the boys work on one on one finishing ? 😂😂just a suggestion 🤪#BrentfordFC #couldofbeenbrackets

@swinedonbee:A clean sheet as well! Could have been 6-0! Well done you Beeeess

@3rhythms:#brentfordfc buzzing that Dean Smith has probably given the team an absolute rocket for not pumping Sheff Wed by at least five. Owls fans don’t even @ me #TeamsLikeBrentford

Three points are three points. That is the absolute priority from every game and for a side that have managed 12 goals in the opening four games (don’t forget the win on the road in the league cup) finding the back of the net isn’t something that is causing any concern at present. Yes, to really thump somebody again would be nice but let’s not get carried away with ourselves here. Sheffield Wednesday need to be offered the respect a proper club of their stature deserve. That any club deserve. They are in the Championship by right. Indeed, but for Daniel Bentley it could have been level at one point. The second you start to underestimate your opponents or how potentially fragile a 1-0 scoreline is then the game’s gone.

Personally, I’d take a 2-0 home win and minimal bookings all day long. There’s a tough game coming up on Wednesday with the trip to Aston Villa in front of the TV cameras. Like Brentford, the Villans have picked up 7(seven) points form their first three and sit one place below us in the interim play-off zone. With Jack Grealish (a player whose name is as synonymous with the words ‘transfer rumour’ as eighteen-year old Ryan Sessegnon’s is with his age – 18, for the record), seemingly unphased by his own speculation expect this to be as tough as they come.

The other point of note from Griffin Park was the presence of TalkSport DJ Ian Abrahams Moose in the Braemar Road press box. I don’t follow him on Twitter anymore but his feed (of the social media variety) crossed my timeline yesterday and, like many Bees fans, caused umbrage.

I don’t really get Mr. Moose – specifically his use of Twitter where, for a journalist giving match updates, so much written is about his apparently pivotal role in proceedings (just look at yesterday’s posts). Mention of a player doing something is so often accompanied by a picture of the pair of them together, usually with the obsequious reference to ‘my good friend’. Then there’s the constant harping on about pre-match grub. Oh look, another pie.

Is he just a desperately insecure human being, craving any form of perceived recognition and hanging off the coat tails of those who can actually play the beautiful game? Or is it just an act? His ‘thing’? And away from the glare of the public eye he’s the humblest human being on the planet. I don’t know the answer to either question so can only ask based on what I read. 

If the former then one can’t even begin to envisage how hard it must be for him to carry on thrusting himself into the public eye. If the later, he really needs a new scriptwriter. As routines go, this one is about as endearing as Noel Edmonds doing his faux-banter shtick with ‘the banker’ in the former Deal Or No Deal ‘dream factory’ (his name for it, not mine).

Except it doesn’t really seem to be either of these. Instead Mr. Moose comes over as straddling some line in between. If anything, he gives the impression of having been the sort of kid who was bullied at school. The last person to get picked for the football team. Left standing alone in that humiliating line up and then having to make the forlorn trudge over to despondent team mates who would rather have given him to the opposition. Yet despite this, he has made it in football. And now he is in a position of ‘power’. Giving it back to those who may have once mocked him with his trademark tools of narcissistic selfies and snidey digs. 

Yesterday was no better. We all know what Mr. Moose said about Neal Maupay last season following the game at Cardiff. Moreso, his own subsequent attempt at self-promotion. Needless to say, Neal had the last laugh with the game at Fulham being the crème de la crème of big match climaxes. Even better, his Man of the Match performance yesterday seeing him nab his third goal in as many games.

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We’ve been here before. 

You’d think the dust might have settled after that. But no, he was back for round two. Moaning about his view at Griffin Park as a photograph of the Ealing Road goal was shared, with the caption: ”Hopefully not too many goals in the one away to my right (I can only see half of it)

Aside from being factually incorrect, if it was an issue then I don’t suppose moving his head one inch to the left would have been beyond the bounds of credibility? Who knows? I’m not a journo but just the numpty on the terrace. Perhaps that sort of thing isn’t allowed in the press box?

Twenty minutes in and Maupay did his thing. Get in!!  1-0. Cue for celebrations all round. Cue for trademark Moose: GOAL – 20mins Lewis MacLeod pushed over in an off the ball incident in front of ref David Webb. My mate Neal Maupay dispatched the resulting penalty 1-0

My mate. Hmmm.

And with an hour on the clock, we had Neal cutting in to hold up play then square it to the arriving Ollie Watkins for 2-0. It was a goal reported by respective sources as:

BBC: Maupay rounded Wednesday keeper Cameron Dawson from a swift counter-attack just after the hour mark to allow Ollie Watkins to double the lead.

Sky Sports: Maupay racing clear from his own half before drawing the ‘keeper and squaring for Watkins to stroke home from 12 yards.

Ian Moose: “Maupay in on goal, dilly and dallying, keeper Dawson got a hand to the ball, but pushed it to Ollie Watkins who slid into an empty net 2-0”

Dillying and dallying? Dillying and dallying? What? Is? His? Problem? Thankfully Kitman Bob was on hand to call him out on this later that night where there was what I guess is as close to an apology as one could hope for.   

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Well done, Bob.

You know what, we all make mistakes. But when your agenda comes across as one of negativity from the off then you are only ever going to see the worst. Even the full time summary lacked any praise for the Bees and, instead, noted how Brentford “could win by 6 but for Weds keeper Dawson, Weds really poor today” whilst Maupay was “Not prolific enough, should’ve had a hat-trick today”.

Why praise an assist and a goal against a ‘keeper you have recognised as doing the business, when it’s easier to put the boot in? Why praise a player who has the highest combined goals and assists in the Championship?

I’ve bitten. And I apologise. As noted earlier, there’s a simple way around this. Don’t follow. And personally, I don’t. But I don’t like people having an unnecessary pop. Especially journalists whom, as far as I am aware, we haven’t upset in an official capacity (Move along Oliver Holt, nothing to see here). Would it be that hard to say something, anything, positive?  You can be sure come the end of the season when we are storming into the Premier League he’ll be there giving it large. And great if so. Just remember how it started.

All of which has served as a huge distraction from the other event of the weekend. Brackets. At West Brom. Administered to none other than QPR. Does it get any sweeter? Well, perhaps if we’d been the ones to score the goals that go with a 7(seven) -1 scoreline.

Regular readers will be well aware of the love for this footballing on curio on these pages. So when the Twitter notifications started to rack up on Saturday afternoon I thought at first that it was simply more feedback from Birmingham City fans following that morning’s column. They really weren’t happy. Oh well.

I could wax lyrical about the QPR result but sometimes its just easier to cut to the chase….

Nick Bruzon

One down. Five to go. We’re still in this.

8 Apr

One down, five to go. Brentford made it back to back wins as Neal Maupay’s penalty and Daniel Bentley’s record (at this level for a Bees ‘keeper) 14th clean sheet of the campaign proved to be the difference over an Ipswich Town side that began the game with Luke Hyam in the team and ended it with 10 players after running out of substitutes. Whilst, as ever, the likes of Beesotted and ‘official’ are usually the places to go for your match reports, in this case they really are. For reasons out of my control I had to miss this one. Instead of sitting at Griffin Park, I found myself holed up in a random pub with some random Barnsley fans (amongst others), watching the Merseyside derby and getting somewhat over excited by the Tykes comeback against Sheffield United. This before Birmingham City managed an 87th minute equaliser against fellow relegation candidates Burton Albion that brought everybody present back down to earth with a bump.

By that point though, it was too late to be overly concerned. Much as I’d love to see ‘ten times better’ Birmingham slip through the relegation trapdoor, primary focus has to be on Brentford. We’d absolutely done the needful despite a butt clenching final few minutes of time added on that had been spent waiting for the scores to refresh and confirm our 1-0 victory.

To be honest, I had considered spending the afternoon with Mark Burridge sneaking into my ear via a discreetly placed headphone. However, despite the wise words normally spoken by our commentator par excellence the lure of another beer in the afternoon sunshine and the somewhat less appealing prospect of Stoke City v Spurs on TV won out.

In a way, I’m glad. Not so much the sitting through the Stoke game (if ever there was any added incentive needed to go for the play-offs then just the prospect of bypassing them in the divisions should be sufficient) but more missing out on a match that sounded hard work. With Mick McCarthy setting his Ipswich team up on us man for man, it was always going to be a tough one for the fans. If you had to miss a game then in retrospect, and from a footballing perspective, this one sounds like it was up there.

Flicking through social media at full time, Chief Executive Mark Devlin seems to have summarised the feelings of most fans when he noted : “Thanks for your support and well done to the team. It was by no means a classic but the players got the job done.”

Likewise, Bees boss Dean Smith was quick to pay tribute to both his counterpart and the opposition. His post match interview (which you can catch up on in full over on ‘official’) includes the observation that Ipswich “Made it very difficult for us to get our free-flowing football going. We found chances hard to come by. We were due a penalty like that; it was soft and I would be slightly annoyed if it was given against us.

Hey, sometimes you just have to take the chances when they are offered. At this stage in the game, a win is a win. Whether scrappy, deserved, fortunate or other. That gap to the playoffs remains five points with five games to go. It’s all about getting the result and that’s what Brentford did. Whilst it may not have sounded like the most aesthetically pleasing performance, you get a feeling of what this one meant to all concerned. MrJamie88 summarising it quite beautifully on Twitter, with a bit of help from Sergi Canos.

Next up, the trip to Nottingham Forest awaits on Tuesday. There are five games to go. Five mini cup finals. Keep picking up the wins and I’ve no doubt we’ll be celebrating like a certain Russell Slade once so famously opined. Cliche alert but…..it really is about taking one game at a time whilst, perhaps, hoping for a favour along the way. It happened in 91/92; it could happen again.

Yet without wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves, at the bottom end of the table I’ve got half an eye on Barnsley. Yesterday showed yet again why I’d love them to stay up. Great fans and great camaraderie. There’s the added incentive that their safety would put even more pressure on Garry Monk’s Birmingham City team. With our final away game of the campaign being a trip to Oakwell, how big could that one turn out to be? Hopefully their fate will be well sealed by that point – in a positive way. Hopefully we’ll have carried on picking up the points that will make that game of quintessential relevance.

Before that, though, we’ve the Forest game and then a West London derby double header . First the trip to Fulham and then the home game with QPR. With just that handful of games to go, the season has got a ridiculous amount of fun left in it still and I can’t wait.

As one final word of note, how great to have Alan Judge back in a Griffin Park starting XI. Moreso given the opposition and their own line up. I won’t deny I felt a genuine pang of excitement when the team sheet was published at 2pm. What a journey back from the depths. What a team to do it against.

Nice one, Alan.

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The view from Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

 

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.

Mark Burridge and Natalie Sawyer

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

Three points, five goals and ten times better. Magnificent Bees have a night to remember.

20 Feb

What can you say? What? Can? You? Say? For once, I’m lost for words after one of the most exciting and passionate games ever seen under lights at Griffin Park. After all the talk, all the build up, all the back story and all the blag it was Brentford who ended it three points, five goals and ten times better than an utterly abject Birmingham City team. The only real question of the night being how The Bees missed out on brackets. A 5-0 demolition of our old boys being the very least warranted by as one sided a performance as you could ever hope to see. Indeed, but for a 30 second period immediately after the second half began there was only ever one team in this.

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Alan Judge doing his thing once more

We don’t do match reports on these pages. Never have done. At least, not in any detail. I’m lazy. I’m not a journalist and, quite frankly, it’s ‘the other stuff’ that goes into a game which is what captivates. And my, wasn’t this the consummate example?

We all know what happened in the summer. Our idol, Jota, left Brentford for Birmingham City. Le magnifique Maxime Colin left Brentford. For Birmingham City. Harlee Dean, having already had the captaincy taken away from him, left Brentford. For Birmingham City. He, of all players, hurt the most. Not so much his sale but the method of departure and those subsequent comments about his new squad being ten times better than the one he had left behind.

Football fans don’t forget. Ever. Just ask Martin Rowlands. And sure enough those words came back to haunt Harlee tonight. You knew something special was in the air when, on walking into the ground, the first song heard from #BeeTheDJ was Jessie J – Price Tag . “Money money money” blasted out over the speakers as Big Bee Radio demonstrated a wonderful sense of humour you can only get at a club like ours. At a place where everybody knows everyone. Where the bond between players and fans is like no other. Where our heroes still walk the same streets we do on their way in and out of Griffin Park.

And then the game began. David Stockdale in the Birmingham goal culpable for the first as he could only help an Ollie Watkins shot from distance into the net for 1-0. Flo Jo doubled the lead before half time as chants of “Harlee, what’s the score? Harlee, Harlee what’s the score?” began to ring around Griffin Park. Neal Maupay, who must have run Ollie close for man of the match, made it 3-0 and then 4-0 with less than an hour on the clock. His second courtesy of another howler from Stockdale who had an evening to forget.

It was only the goalkeeper’s decision to start playing at this point that stopped it getting even worse for The Blues. Pulling off a couple of magnificent saves, combined with our own profligacy as the game threatened to enter testimonial levels of showboating, the scoring stopped for almost half an hour.

There were contrasting faces in the Director’s Box. Sour from the visitors. Ecstatic from our own board and guests. Louder and louder songs directed towards Harlee. Daniel Bentley amongst those unable to suppress schoolboy levels of smirking every time the chants rang out. This couldn’t go on, surely? It couldn’t get any better, could it?

Jota’s arrival had barely registered. He picked up the odd pantomime boo but it was nothing compared to the unhappiest of returns for Harlee. Still, at least he could take consolation in it only being four. Until Ollie popped up to make it five. And that’s how it ended. Stunning. Just stunning.

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The Bees celebrate the fourth. Or was it the fifth?

Yet just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there was Brentford Official to change the ‘win music’. Kool and The Gang /Celebrate demoted. Instead, the ultimate of trolling. Daydream Believer. The chants of ‘Cheer up Harlee Dean’ which had being doing the round most of the game, cranked up to the loudest yet. Simply beautiful and, whilst I’ve seen comments suggesting we’re better than this, it captured the mood of the supporters quite magnificently.

I’ve never seen the place stay full for so long at full time. The crowd staying behind to cheer the players on a thoroughly deserved lap of honour. Birmingham City slinking back into the dressing room, unobserved.

Brentford were, to a man, magnificent. Dalsgaard’s cross for the third goal a thing of beauty. Maupay’s build up play delicious and he was thoroughly deserving of his brace. Even Daniel Bentley pulled off a quite wonderful save late on to preserve his goal’s virginity. Emiliano Marcondes delighting the crowd with a short, but very sweet, cameo role late on.

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Emiliano impressed late on

It was a strange night. It was always going to be. No moreso than Peter Gilham finally getting Jota’s name right. After three season’s worth of Hoe-ta, he picked his moment to call him correctly.

That was just brilliant. Brentford are now a mere 3 points outside the play offs. We’re 20 points better off than a Birmingham City team who sit worryingly close to the League One drop zone. Harlee Dean may have joined The Blues to leave The Championship.

He just probably didn’t expect to do it in this direction.

All together now – Brentford official seize the moment. Beautifully

Nick Bruzon

Bees get the point as Changchun Yatai get that Vibe. What next as Sunderland await?

11 Feb

Brentford 1 Preston North End 1. After that mini run of double defeats, here was a chance to get back to winning ways before the double header against two teams up to their hips and necks in the relegation quagmire – Birmingham City and Sunderland. Yet on a day which saw the long anticipated transfer of Lasse Vibe to Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai for a fee rumoured to be £2m and a much changed Bees team lining up against promotion chasing Preston, in retrospect was it as disappointing as it felt at full time?

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Any votes for ‘China in your hand’ on #BeeTheDJ ? Farewell, Lasse

No. In a word. As a fan, I’m always desperate to win no matter whom we are up against and whichever players are staring. Yet a first XI which, had it been picked during the transfer window would have had supporters screaming ‘conspiracy theory‘, more than held their own and arguably had enough chances and possession to have wrapped this one up. There was no Sergi Canos – suspended. Ryan Woods had to be content with wandering up and down the Braemar Road paddock, chatting to supporters and confirming he should be fit for the Sunderland game. Yoann Barbet was dropped to the bench whilst wunderkind Chris Mepham was awol.

Yet this was still a strong team with Josh McEachran having a very positive start before returning to the frustrating enigma that his performances so often are. When he’s on form he really is a talent and his forward passing is a joy to behold. Equally, there’s more sideways and backwards passing than down the road at Twickenham. Watching the England-Wales rugby after this one, I was half expecting our number 10 to put in an appearance. No irony lost, given one challenge he put in on Callum Robinson. Move along, nothing to see here. It’s a tough call for Dean how he crams that central midfield, who makes way and how he can get the very best from his available resources. Certainly, the arrivals of Lewis Macleod and Alan Judge were very welcome.

It was a game played out in front of a sparse crowd under drizzle soaked skies. It was a game that saw Brentford give away a goal out of nowhere. Tom Barkhuizen putting Preston ahead before Florian Jozefzoon levelled things up just eight minutes later with a goal described by Sky Sports (and you can get edited the highlights here) as a superb strike. I say this given I missed it, in circumstances described in the trade as ‘doing a JJ’. Still, anything for the cause. From then on, it was one-way traffic and I can’t wait to hear how the ever wonderful Mark Burridge described all this when the full fat package is available later *.

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View from the Braemar: Andreas Bjelland v Preston – a Dane in the rain

With Greg Cunningham’s second yellow seeing the visitors reduced to ten men with fifteen minutes remaining, it was backs to the wall stuff. Ollie Watkins blazed just wide whilst Alan Judge came oh so close with a curling free kick in the dying seconds. Emiliano Marcondes added further threat from the bench and it is no surprise Dean came out with post-match comments that included his observation that, “We should have got three points today as our performance was good”.

Second half, it was good. Very. Although, equally, we can count our blessings The Bees didn’t go behind in the opening period. Tommy Spurr adjudged to have been marginally offside as he headed home for 1-0. But no. Instead it was that sweetest of football feelings – opposition cheers being snuffed out by the wave of a linesman’s flag. 0-0 it stayed, until Barkhuizen did the needful.

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It’s an early shower for you, number 3. Cunningham walks.

As for Brentford, up front remains a tough one for Dean. Neal Maupay had one, clear chance when put through one on one with Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd. The man in black (Rudd, not the ref – if Kitman Bob is reading, what ARE the rules on that?) quick off his line to smoother the striker’s shot from eight yards. Other than that though, there were slim pickings in what you’d deem a typical striker’s chance. One thing’s for sure, with Justin Shaibu on loan and Lasse sold without being replaced, Neal is in for the long haul. That’s no bad thing either. We saw early on in the season what an impact he had off the bench. Here’s hoping that given a prolonged run of starts he’ll push on and find the back of the net on a regular basis.

My other thought is in regards to Dean Smith’s post-match observations. Both in this one and the previous two games. The 3-0 Loss v Derby saw him note that, “We had the better chances… the score-line wasn’t a reflection of what I thought was two-evenly matched teams”.

The game prior, our 1-0 Loss at home to Norwich, saw him opine how: I feel that the better team got beaten” going on to add later that, “I think Norwich will feel fortunate that they have gone away with all three points”.

Yesterday, it was that we should have won. Personally, my take on it is that we could have won. What a difference a letter or two makes. At least Dean recognises the chances we are creating but as has been said a gazillion times on these pages, they count for nothing if you can’t put them away.

As has also been said, who’d be a manager? Very much a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Overall, He and his team are doing just about most things right. Certainly, there are no huge complaints from where I am sitting. Quite the opposite. We’re pushing it against the best in a phenomally tough division and more than holding our own.

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with not winning a game. We all want to. Myself included. I remember league two days. No money etc. etc. etc. I saw a reference on Twitter the other day to the Eddie May/ Micky Adams relegation season. Grim stuff. We’re more spoilt now than we’ve ever been. Moreso with the new stadium plans really gathering pace. But the football fan is never happy. We always want more. We live in hope of what might be. We all have a dream. We always want better.

I understand Dean’s passion and desire but I also know what I see when I’m watching the same game he is. Too much of the ‘we deserved to win/ should have won’ starts to lose impact after a while.

Hey, it’s a small gripe. At least he’s got faith in his team and is constantly reinforcing that positive message. If it’s the worst thing Dean does then we’re in good hands. He has tough decisions ahead, that’s for sure, and I don’t envy him picking the team to start against Sunderland. Likewise, his substitutions, whenever they happen….

But these are nice decisions to have to make. There is competition for the starting berth in just about every position. Yoann Barbet, in particular, must count himself very unlucky to have missed out this time around (albeit I love seeing Josh Clarke out there). No doubt he’ll be amongst those hammering down Dean’s door this week. Metaphorically speaking.

I’ve no clue who Dean will start on Saturday at Sunderland. Could this be Alan Judge’s time? I can’t wait to find out though. Given their own late comeback from 3-0 down to earn a point at Bristol City on Saturday, it’s not going to be as easy as the table suggests. That’s for sure.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a black cat backed into a corner and desperately fighting for survival. Bring it on.

As for Lasse Vibe, there’s not much more that can really be said. We all knew his contract was up. We all know what he has done for us over the last few years. How open and friendly he is. How enthusiastic and dedicated to the cause whilst at Griffin Park. Talking to supporters yesterday and reading through social media, I can’t see anybody wishing him everything but the best.

I can’t think of any other club or any other player where losing your main goal threat has been treated with nothing but universal good vibes. Yet that’s Lasse.

THANK YOU. Here’s to the World Cup..

* until then, here’s the post lunchtime update with the ‘official highlights’. Great job on the comms, too…

 

Nick Bruzon

 

Brentford leave Aston Villa feeling under the weather. Again.

27 Dec

“I think it’s hard, no disrespect to Brentford, Barnsley, but this is a different kettle to those clubs where there’s no real expectation… Staying in the division is probably the expectation”. Not my words, but those of Aston Villa manger Steve Bruce in the build up to the visit of his team to Griffin Park.

How they had a hollow ring as yet another former Premier League club under-estimated ‘teams like Brentford’. The Bees made it 6 points from 6 over Christmas with a fine 2-1 win under the floodlights (and the rainclouds) at Griffin Park on Tuesday night. It was a victory that, but for a brief flurry in the dying moments, was never in doubt. Brentford, inspired by Sergi Canos and shored up by the quite sublime Chris Mepham, blew aside Aston Villa as easily as though they were a crisp packet caught in the breeze.

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Raining (goals) at Griffin Park

Canos – possessed once again by raw energy, blistering pace and consummate skill – did everything but score the goal his performance so warranted. As it was, he played a key role in our opener. Winning the ball back to find Ryan Woods, the Ginger Pirlo’s pass was met by Romaine Sawyers who fired it hard and low from outside the box into the bottom corner to give Brentford the lead with just over twenty minutes gone.

It was as precise a finish as one could hope to see and another moment of genius from a player who continues to impress. That’s five goals now this season for Sawyers and Brentford really are scoring from every angle. Whilst Josh Onomah would level things up for Aston Villa just before half time, normal service was restored soon after the break. Lasse Vibe followed up Friday’s brace at Norwich City, firing home the loose ball in the box as Villa failed, quite spectacularly, to clear a Canos corner.

Watching the highlights on Sky afterwards (and they are now available on the internet until the official, Mark Burridge infused version can be released), the phrase “I can’t quite believe the shodiness” is used to describe Villa’s defence. They’re not wrong but you’ve still got to be there. You’ve still got to put them away. And Lasse did that to send the Griffin Park crowd wild.

It was a game played out in quite torrid conditions. The rain didn’t let up for the entire 90 minutes and so fair play to Dean Smith’s Bees for just getting on with it. The visitors, on the other hand, struggled to find cohesion and to find shape. They were second to everything, including the final result. But you can only play who you are up against and if the Bees continue to face teams like Aston Villa then happy days.

Just because you once won the European Cup and played in the top flight, doesn’t give a divine right to ‘be any good’. You can’t just win by turning up. The footballing world has long changed and if dinosaurs like Steve Bruce want to keep on living in Jurassic, rather than Villa, Park that’s just fine by me.

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The rain, and Flo, didn’t let up

The ironic thing being that this is now the second time in 11 months we’ve done a job on Aston Villa at home. Who could forget the 3-0 humbling handed out back in January, just about the time of Scott Hogan’s sale?  To misread the opposition once is unfortunate but to do it twice is downright shabby.

Still, that’s not my concern. Long may it continue. Dean Smith and his boys got it bang on last night. The aforementioned Mepham, who made his mark on Hogan early then never looked back, and Andreas Bjelland were both sporting ‘blood’ shirts by the time Keith Stroud ended the six minutes of injury time. There was no quarter given at the back where Nico also shone, covering in the right-back position which he first filled what seems like all those years ago. Flo Jo, Romaine, Ryan. Dan Bentley pulled off a couple of fine saves when they were needed.

To overly single out anybody would be unfair. It was just that sort of night where everybody did what was expected. Even Norwich City, who had earlier beaten Birmingham City to leave them rock bottom of the division. With Brentford now in 12th place on 34, that’s twice as many points as the hapless Blues who are 3 from safety on just 17.

Those comments about being ten times better are looking a long way off at present. Oh well, that’s their problem. We’ve got bigger fish to fry and with another home game approaching, the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, here’s hoping for more of the same from Dean and his boys.

And, could we perhaps see Alan Judge at some point? One of the loudest cheers of the night was reserved for his announcement on the substitute’s bench. If not Wednesday on Saturday, then by the time we’ve hosted Notts County in the FA Cup I’ve a feeling we’ll have seen him in the red and white once more.

That, if anything, would be THE miracle of Christmas. At least, in TW8.

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Captain Nico – too many mince pies or making the best of the conditions?

Nick Bruzon

Rampant Brentford exorcise the memory of QPR and render Fulham pointless.

3 Dec

Where do you start with that one? A 3-1 demolition of Fulham at Griffin Park on Saturday saw Brentford make it 4 points out of 6 from back-to-back West London derbies. With it, the Bees moved into the top half of the Championship table and above both our near neighbours. It was the perfect tonic following the disappointment of the final few moments at QPR earlier this week and a performance that shows just what Dean Smith’s team can do when they put their minds to it.

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Another afternoon, another win

Mind you it was a case of very much adjusting to the game and, subsequently, each other. A hamstring Injury to Lasse Vibe early on (and no recognised striker on the bench) saw Romaine Sawyers coming on to sit up top. A so called ‘False 9’ as Dean would later refer to him. Whilst we’ve tried this one before, at QPR two seasons ago – the only time they’ve beaten us in the last 7(seven) encounters – this time things were different for Brentford. So very different.

For a moment it looked shaky. The Bees went a goal down after Fulham were given the freedom of the Griffin Park back four. The visitors were lining up to slide home one time Bee Ryan Fredericks’ cross. In the end it was Neeskens Kebano who did the needful at the back post. Daniel Bentley then kept us in it with a wonder save but from that point on it was one way traffic.

Ollie Watkins set off on a quite wonderful run through the middle of the park, covering close to 50 yards before releasing Sergi Canos to leave David Button no chance. Canos (and the Fulham defence) take the glory but full kudos to Ollie for a lungbusting run.

1-1 at half time and the Bees came out to pick up where they left off. The half had barely begun when Romaine Sawyers made it 2-1. The player may feel he was in the right place at the right time although the goal had as much to do with the omens in the stand and on the terrace. Got to love a lucky shirt, lucky fleece (amazing where you get the inspiration from) and a Trevor Extra Strong Mint. Many thanks John – the real hero of the afternoon as man in the right place at the right time with the lucky confectionary.

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Lucky shirt. Lucky fleece. Lucky sweets. Nothing lucky about the win

With Fulham reduced to ten men, following the customary red card from referee Bobby Madley it really was game over. A detail confirmed with just five minutes to go as Romaine Sawyers set up Ollie Watkins to close things out. Two goals up against West London neighbours with just moments left on the clock. What could go wrong? Five minutes of injury time, that’s what!

But whereas Monday saw Brentford hit the self-destruct at QPR,  this time around there was to be no such repeat. Ball retention was the key as we passed it around, backwards and even had the odd probe to see down the clock.

3-1 it finished. What a result. What a performance. What an afternoon. There were tears from Fulham official. What a shame they didn’t get the chance to use their shiny new GIF. Please, stop sniggering.  There was even a gif in return as the ghost of the Obama meme threatened to raise its head once more. It was beautiful ! Well played the Brentford media team on hitting the perfect balance, this time.

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A word or two, also, about Mr. Madley. We all know him of old, especially ‘that’ game at Leyton Orient. Officious, pernickety, trigger happy and more cards than a Clintons sale. Yet I thought he had a great game yesterday.

True, there were a few moments where he couldn’t help but be his over-officious self but he called the cards right – including the yellow for Sergi who had seemed to go in dangerously, albeit not connecting. But given the lack of protection we’ve had at times this season, the four yellows (including a second for Fulham’s Odoi) were spot on. As were the proliferation of dead balls awarded in an otherwise open game that was, generally, allowed to flow.

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View from the terrace : When Sergi met Bobby

Sergi Canos was understandably named man of the match. I love watching him in action. The skill, the speed, the enthusiasm. Yet, for me I think Romaine probably just deserved it. A goal, an assist and a player very much a fish out of water in terms of the role he was asked to play. As Dean would later note on ‘official’, “I know, at times, he isn’t everyone’s favourite but I thought his performance today was excellent.

Dean, I couldn’t agree more.

As ever, the video highlights are up on Sky. Probably worth a watch before we get treated to Mark Burridge’s version. If his commentary is anywhere near as good as his post match Twitter then they’re going to be compulsory viewing when these go live after mid-day.

What a finish. What a way to celebrate rainbow laces day. Top half of the table, current kings of West London and a fine, fine performance from Dean Smiths’ injury hit team. But perhaps the biggest cheer of the afternoon was that for somebody returning from injury, Lewid Macleod. How good was it so see him back on the Griffin Park pitch? It seems an eternity since he was stretchered off at Loftus Road last season.

The road to return has certainly been a long one but, again, as impressive a display from the club in looking after our long term sick as the player in putting in all those hard yards. Nice one, Lewis.

Next up, a certain Mr. Judge? Here’s hoping….

The sun is past the yard arm so the video censors let Mark do his thing

All that’s to come, though. For now let’s just enjoy the moment and savour a fine win. Matthew Benham, back in his customary place at the front of the director’s box after a surprise ‘substitution’ against Burton, seemed ecstatic as the second half goals flew in. Certainly, those in the paddock and around the ground were. Except, perhaps, in the away end. If only they’d had a nice, new GIF.

It’s our fourth season in the Championship and, it would be fair to say, that derby day form has certainly been with the Bees. Jota in the last minute at Griffin Park, Sam Saunders with that fifth minute beauty and Stuart Dallas doing ‘that thing’ at the Cottage during our 4-1 steamrollering are amongst the many highs.

This one felt as good as any of them. What an afternoon. What a result !!

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Who needs Pointless or Strictly Dancing for Saturday entertainment ?

Nick Bruzon

The top talking points from the World Cup draw (and the small matter of Brentford v Fulham).

2 Dec

Brentford v Fulham. Derby day pt.2. It must be rare for a local game to have been less under the spotlight during the build up as this one. First up, we’ve had the residual bad taste of Monday night’s 2-2 with QPR. Not so much the result as Ian Holloway doing that desperate back pedal after slagging off his own supporters for ‘sneaking out’. And then there was the small matter of yesterday’s World Cup draw for Russia 2018.

We’ll start with Fulham. A win will take Brentford above the Cottagers in the league table and, subject to other results, into the top half of the Championship. I can only call this one as three points for the Bees. Lasse Vibe had two wonderful finishes against the not so super hoops , with the assist from Romaine for the second being something quite special. Sergio Canos showed his class, starting a game for the first time in I don’t know how long. Expect more of the same. Just perhaps, not, the 93rd and 94th minutes.

And if you’d like to read more…. there’s talk about both games in the ‘Park Life’ column that appears in today’s match day programme. Whilst I’d crave your indulgence for that self-promotion it is mentioned more for a sledge hammer like unsubtle link to, erm, today’s match day programme. (#seamless).

With this edition highlighting the ‘Rainbow laces’ campaign (and on that subject, don’t forget to check out the Beesotted podcast this week – below), cover star is none other than Andreas Bjelland. Danish International Andreas Bjelland. The World Cup’s Andreas Bjelland.

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This week’s cover star…

Yesterday’s draw saw England line up against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. A kinder draw you couldn’t have asked for, on paper. Moreso when the two teams who get through will play one of Poland , Senegal, Colombia or Japan in the last 16. On paper, as kind a start as one could hope for. On paper…..

Yet for Andreas, things are slightly different. Whilst there doesn’t seem to be an out and out ‘group of death’, Denmark won’t have it easy agasint France, Austrlia and Peru in Group C. Mind you, I’m sure they’ll all be thinking the same about Denmark in group that Nick Harris ( @sportingintel on Twitter) has noted is the rankings tightest.

Also clear is what Harris declares to be “A clear Group of Life – the Group A of hosts Russia”. I would also accept: ‘The Group of dull’

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Along with the hosts it is a pool that features Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay. Luck of the draw is, indeed, a wonderful and fortuitous thing.

Yet it is a group that also gives us our first chance of that World Cup staple: “For those of you just coming in from work, the score is….. “ Expect that at about 5.17pm on Thursday 14th June during the opening a game. A 4pm kick off between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

That opener is, likewise, a game you can expect to see on ITV. Certainly, if the BBC ‘live updates’ are to be believed.

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And talking of the BBC (Nurse, bring me the industrial crowbar) Phil Neville may have been England’s dullest pundit at France 2014 but there was no doubt he was on form during the draw. Robbie Savage sticking his head above the parapet and getting immediately slapped down.

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Savage and Neville weren’t the only pundits getting involved. Anybody worth their salt had an opinion. And also Ian Moose. Sadly, there was to be no picture of him and ‘My good friend, Vladimir Putin.’ (Something Diego Maradona did achieve, for the record). Instead, the best Talk Sport’s ‘finest’ could do in that ongoing quest to blow his own trumpet was a snap with Carlos Valderrama.

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Other things to look out for will be FIFA no doubt calling the first knockout stage ‘The round of 16’. Like the Fake Olympic terms : Team GB and ‘to medal’ (see also: Wednesday’s column – I’m still thankful for the chance to vent) something that is both wrong and which has been allowed to seep into popular parlance over the last few events. It’s actually the Last 16. I would also accept: The second round.

Have selfie stick, will travel. Brentford fan Billy Grant will be one of many Bees in attendance. He’s already confirmed he will be in attendance. His roving reports providing an wonderful flavour of what happened last time out in France – the great and the not so. Stan Collymore, he ain’t. Expect more of the same this time around (all being well, the great) .

Still, all that’s to come. There’s over six months until we start sticking wall charts to fridges, whip ourselves into a lather of excitement before an eventual quarter final capitulation for England.

Until then, here’s to forgetting about QPR on Monday. There’s a West London derby to win. Fulham are on the way over to Griffin Park. And I can’t wait.

See you there.

And if you need some more listening before kick off, here’s the link to that Beesotted podcast….

Nick Bruzon