Tag Archives: Core

Brentford 2.0 – Here we go again.

6 Sep

It seems barely five minutes ago that the Covid interrupted season came to a close. The Griffin Park auction has only just completed and my nerves still feel shredded after reliving the agony of Stoke, Barnsley and the Craven Cottage outfit. The most painful play-off campaign out of our nine attempts still sore. Still niggling. Still a sense of incredible frustration after coming so, so close. Yet now we are back underway as fellow Championship stablemates Wycombe Wanderers visit in the first round of the League Cup. The first ‘competitive’ game at our new home, Lionel Road. 

The end to last season was horrible, for all those well documented reasons. Shut out of our home (as were fans of all clubs) in an attempt to control the pandemic. Denied the chance to say goodbye in person. Having our hopes raised by that most amazing run in before that heart-wrenching conclusion. We know what happened. We won’t overly rake over it anymore after today (although if you would like to read more then news incoming…) because it won’t change anything. Except, perhaps, provide inspiration. The desire to know how good we are and to go one better this time.

If anything, it may have been frustration of a different sort to actually reach the top flight and then remain locked out. Perhaps, in an odd sort of way, it’s better to take the long route around? Ok, I’m clutching at straws but the point being that the green shoots of optimism are returning. 

The pain IS still there but now it is more of a reminder than a cloud of doom hanging over the head’. ‘Supporters’ abusing Thomas and the team after they had  “bottled” it, they had “choked it and worse (not my words but let’s not forget all that nonsense, it did happen) now more a historical reminder about the nature of football fans. It’s emotional stuff. 

I get people were upset. I was too. Hugely. As were my family. Having to answer a hundred questions of “What happened?” or respond to condolences from well meaning colleagues nothing more than something designed to illicit a response of “F**k the f**k off and then f**k off some more” . But it didn’t. Lips bitten and friends were politely spoken too.Just as our on pitch heroes were  – even if a few morons may have coped a bit in return..

That was then. This is now. It may feel like mere minutes have passed but progress has been significant. Charlie Goode and Ivan Toney have both joined the squad. Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahama are both still Bees. For now. I can’t see either player staying but would love if it somehow happened, of course. Josh Dasilva is our latest international U-21 and Lionel Road has opened for business.

One has to say it looks magnificent. Today is our first proper chance to see it when Sky TV host the game with Wycombe. It is sure to be a different Brentford team to the one which travel to Birmingham City for next weekend’s Championship opener (also on Sky). As much given the international games taking place at present. 

The list of absentees is a huge one, with Pontus and several assorted Danes (not a prog rock band) amongst those joining Josh and Bryan Mbeumo in representing their countries. Whatever happens I’m not going to read too much in to this one – certainly in terms of who may start next weekend. Who Thomas sees as his first choice, starting XI when the squad is fully fit. 

Yet at the same time it will give a steer as to how well we may go. As to who might want to stake an early claim for a place. Most importantly, it is a competitive football match. A chance to prove that last season’s denouement has done nothing more than serve as a reminder how important EVERY point is. 

People point to the final few games but let’s not forget the opening day disappointment at home to Birmingham City. Some of the turgid 0-0s and home reverses in the first few months. Once we hit form we were amazing. But it took a while to get going and, ultimately, that’s what saw the team fall just short.

It was amazing fun getting to that point. I can’t wait to start the next stage of the journey. I can’t wait to get inside Lionel Road. Perhaps next month a few of us may be afforded that privilege.Here’s hoping, Until then, it’s TV, radio (where BBC London have today’s game) and whatever I-follow deal may be offered up.

Off-field, the conclusion to the Griffin Park auction has seen supporters now collect their wares. This Kit-nerd has been left well happy, having picked up a couple more mid-90s efforts for little more than the price of a club shop replica

Paul Stephenson’s long sleeved ‘away’ was pick of the crop – for this kit nerd

There were admiring eyes, out of respect, cast at the pick up time when the winer of the KLM cheque arrived at the same time as yours truly in order to collect his purchase.

Oh my. This was incredible in the flesh. Much bigger than expected (as all novelty cheques should be) and fully framed. I have to be honest that I’d had eyes on this when the catalogue was published but, like the Gary Blissett player board and the turnstiles, it moved out of my price range way too fast. 

.

That’s life. That’s money. That’s not to be bitter. Anything but. Personally, I’m ecstatic with what I’ve been able to pick up. I just can’t wait for the chance to wear one of these in anger at a game. The only downside to this being that Kevin Dearden’s shirt fits quite nicely. Hey, I’m 50 next month and let’s say it was from early in his career.

The GPG has a cracking thread on the auction pick up already. You can find that here to see who has started to put what, where. Do take a look and please add to it.

As for Griffin Park, the clean up has begun already. Jota has been taken down from the gates whilst the ticket office and many external fitting have been removed. It won’t be long before the bulldozers move in and then we really are doing nothing more than living in the past. Albeit, plenty of happy memories. Barnsley, perhaps, aside….

As for Griffin Park, the clean up has begun already. Jota has been taken down from the gates whilst the ticket office and many external fitting have been removed. It won’t be long before the bulldozers move in and then we really are doing nothing more than living in the past. Albeit, plenty of happy memories. Barnsley, perhaps, aside….

Now, the only way is forward. The past is just that. The season is here and the bookies have us 6-1 favourites for the title. On a personal note, the club have been generous enough to keep the Park Life column going in the matchday programme. I don’t get paid for that and don’t want to. I love the club, I love being involved and writing still needs to remain personal . Or, where needed, probing. 

However, it is mentioned more to reflect how the ongoing interaction with our supporters is continuing. This is something which had been a huge part of Griffin Park life and, personally, I’m so glad we are continuing down this track. The fans are what make a club. The relationship with them what defines us.  There are so, so many involved behind the scenes.  

Sorry. It’s been a bit rambling today. Not hugely structured. A few thoughts thrown up in the air and let’s see where they land. I’ll be on the sofa at mid-day and can’t wait for it all to start again. It’s going to be different but it’s still going to be Brentford.  

Here’s to 2020-21 being the best season yet.

Supporters have always been involved – despite the size of their novelty cheques

THE main item has now been collected

West Ham ? Sheffield Wednesday? Hull City? Which Brentford star is going where? If any…

25 Jul

Jota to Newcastle United, West Ham United, other? Harlee Dean to Sheffield Wednesday? Now Rico Henry and an apparent interest from Hull City is the latest story being touted in the press involving the possibility of a player leaving Griffin Park. You can tell the impending football season is approaching at a rate of knots with rumours surrounding Brentford stars cranking up. As ever.

Ordinarily these pages don’t do transfer gossip. The only source close to the club I trust (Beesotted aside, given they are almost always bang on the money) is the ketchup that comes with the half time chips. Yet this time it is worth paying note. If not for the quality of the ‘story’ – please note, your definition of ‘quality’ and ‘story’ may vary – as to the bigger picture questions.

Everybody is focussed on Jota. Understandably so given his unadulterated ability and contract length are diametrically opposed to each other in terms of size. The stories about West Ham won’t go away although I’d refer you back to the Scott Hogan tedium. Likewise the fact that they’ve already acquired the likes of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic.

All this, before £16m Javier Hernandez became the latest to join the 1966 World Cup winners at the Olympic stadium yesterday. Are we really expected to believe they could also splash out on the likes of Jota aswell? Is the West Ham acquisition process now at an end? They were bad last season, that was plain to see, but surely no mid-table team needs this much rebuilding? Or can afford it? Then again, the TV money is at the ridiculous level and so not surprising our man’s name is mentioned in such circles.

Large

Jota and Harlee amongst the main men for Brentford in 2017/18

Yet for me all this Jota talk has been an unintentional smokescreen that has detracted from a real possibility – that of losing a centre back. We are more than amply catered for in this area of the field with Yoann Barbet, John Egan, Andreas Bjelland and of course  Harlee Dean all jockeying for position. This is before you even factor in the B-team. But then the Sheffield Wednesday rumour appeared.

Nobody on the terraces can imagine Harlee will leave. That surely the club will do all in their power to hang on to our player of the year and club captain. I’m not convinced this is anything more than a story that will come and go. But this hasn’t stopped us before.

At the same time, how does Dean Smith keep four quality defenders happy with only two positions to fill? He’s tried to play three of them and despite some initial positives, it was hardly the roaring success he had anticipated. So much so that normal service was soon resumed.

Sheffield Wednesday coming in for Harlee may be true, it may not. Yet we’ve shown every season that something has to give in order to help balance those FFP books. Hogan to Villa; Odubajo to Hull; Gray and number 26 to Burnley.

This time around, rather than Jota might it be elsewhere on the pitch? The defence? Certainly, this move was just one of those talked up in the recent Beesotted transfer activity piece. Could Billy have got his hands on the crystal ball once more?

The other story we then saw yesterday was a laughable column about Hull City looking at Rico Henry . With Andy Robertson joining Liverpool for £10milion last week, the Tigers are supposedly coming in with a £3.5 million bid.

Ted Knutson put that one immediately into context on Twitter.

We’re all about maximising player potential but, equally, we’re not in the business of giving anyone away. Rico’s emergence last season well and truly put Jake Bidwell in the shade and showed just why we were prepared to let our former skipper join the Loftus Road mob. Here is a player with the potential to go all the way and somebody who absolutely hit the ground running at Championship level after signing from League One Walsall.

Whichever story, if any, is true it all goes to show once more that we are a team in demand. That we aren’t just one goal scorer or one luxuriantly coiffured Spaniard. Brentford’s stock is high. The 2-2 with Southampton at the weekend proved that.

Yet let me ask you a question. If it kept Jota safe in the short term, would you sell Harlee? Would you let Rico go? Who’d want to be on the board with those sorts of decisions to make?

Ultimately of course, we may not have any choice in affairs. Money and agents talk. Likewise, we’ve acquired very well in the close(d) season. For both the first XI and B-team. Does the strongest looking all round squad we’ve had in years – boosted by five new signing – mean some form of departure is inevitable? Or is this going to be the season where the Brentford players and board all say – up yours West Ham. So long Hull City. Sorry Newcastle. These players aren’t for sale. We’re going places.

Whatever happens, all will become much clearer over the coming weeks. I can’t wait for the season to start but it might be stressful getting there.

As one final thought, what are you going to be wearing on the terraces this season? The new kit is stunning, with the goalkeeper and away variants already available in the club shop. Yet for anybody wanting a retro touch then eBay is the place to go at present.

This isn’t me (the chances of anything slipping my collection are slim to zero) but I have seen one fan looking to clear out their own wardrobe this week. Seller aamy_r_reetqr26 has listed 11 shirts that run from 1988 up to 2002, many of which are rarely seen on the terraces these days. You can find them here if this is of interest.

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 05.39.48

Just some of the retro shirts on offer this week

Nick Bruzon

Kit Obsessive : Ipswich Town

12 Aug

Ipswich Town are the visitors to Griffin Park on Saturday with Brentford looking to get their first points, and win, on the board for 2016/17. Whilst you’ll find the usual match previews kicking around elsewhere, in addition we’re taking a different approach this season. Following on from yesterday’s new, regular feature about our forthcoming visitors The Last Word on… it’s time for another new, regular feature. New, that is, to these pages.

Kit obsessive is back. Originally submitted to last season’s match day programme, a third season in the Championship means that with the exception of 6 new teams it is ground previously covered – at least for those who buy that publication. So whilst I gather that articles on the likes of Aston Villa, Barnsley et al will still appear in that format this time around, repeating the feature would not reveal anything new.

That said, for those who missed out on the programme then I have been asked by at least one Last Word reader  if it would be possible to re-run them this year. And by ‘at least one‘ I mean, ‘actually one‘. But why not?

As a self confessed kit-obsessive, I have what some would probably term an unhealthy fascination with team colours. Of course Brentford are at the forefront of this interest as the club has, over the years, made some pretty decent stabs at changing the red and white stripes around. However, with a few odd exceptions we follow a fairly similar template.

The same cannot always be said for our opponents, though. Using no more scientific criteria than personal taste, this feature sees us delving into the historical kit bag to select the best, the worst, a sublime away and an unfortunate design/retro classic worn by our opponents through the ages. So without further ado, here’s Kit Obsessive: Ipswich Town.

Since their inception for the start of the 1888 season Ipswich Town had, like the Bees, largely worn stripes – albeit blue and white. However, unlike the Bees they ditched these in 1936, switching to predominantly blue offset with white trim and (until the mid ‘60s) white sleeves.

But with over 125 years of history to choose from, which have made the hall of fame and which should be left to rot in the chamber of horrors?

The best: Umbro 1992-94. In my opinion, Ipswich have had some real stunners to chose from over the years. The Adidas designs from 1977 to 1989, synonymous with FA Cup triumph and the UEFA Cup victory, all reek of quality. That said, I’m genuinely in two minds about the red chest stripe that accompanied the 1985-86 effort.

Ipswich pic 1An innovative break from tradition or a sickening abomination that shattered the otherwise unsullied blue with all the subtly of an oil tanker? The only people definitely smiling about it being the club sponsors, Radio Orwell – think Alan Partridge had he opted for Suffolk rather than East Anglia and neighbours, Norwich.

But my winner in this category comes from that phase in the early 90s when retro was the new cool. Specifically 1992-94. Clubs opted for big badges, old style shirts, pin stripes and even lace up collars.

Umbro were leaders in this trend and nowhere better than at Portman Road. Whilst Manchester United, Aston Villa and even Oldham Athletic made decent stabs at this look, none came close to Ipswich Town who married the perfect mix of blue, red trim and a return for the white sleeves with some old school chic.

Embed from Getty Images

 

The Worst: Punch 2005-07 .Ipswich Town have, to be fair, largely bypassed this category – certainly compared to some of our divisional rivals. However, even the Tractor Boys aren’t exempt when it comes to those that should probably be forgotten about.

Mitre’s effort from 2007-09 is a clumsy attempt at the vintage style carried off so effortlessly by Umbro. Looking somewhat generic, it’s less old school, more primary school whilst not even John Wark can save the Core 1995-96 away shirt – bottle green and burgundy – which puts one in mind of a poor man’s Portugal.

But the winner comes down to a choice between two and, as I’m saving one for the ‘unfortunate design’ category, it has to go to Punch 2005-07. This opts for blue with white, but the latter colour to an extent that looks as though a drunken groundsman has ‘gone rogue’ with the pitch markings when painting the touchline.

It has an expanding sash that starts on the shoulder and grows out, all the way to the waist. This is less subtle trim and more something that looks like a prototype costume for one of the Thunderbirds pilots.

Worse, the design continues onto the shorts where there is even an equivalent blue swoosh. Truly, one that should be consigned to the waste bin of history.

Ipswich PIC 4

The away: Adidas 1986-89 Where to go with this, given Ipswich have had as many top quality away shirts as they have had home?

In the end though, it was a toss up on the mid to late 80s. Whilst the Radio Orwell Adidas effort may have split opinion when it came to the home effort, there’s no question the bold red stripe only enhances things against the white of the away kit.

But I’ve elected for the successor to that one, another Adidas production, as the most stylish Ipswich Town away kit. The winner is the Fisons sponsored 1986-89 (yes, teams wore the same shirt for more than one season back then).

Bedecked in the inverse club colours of all white, with blue trim, this also featured a subtle diagonal two-tone strip effect. Simple but stunning.

Ipswich PIC 5

The unfortunate design: Core 1995-97 Just as the faux Thunderbirds sash was a close contender, the winner here could as easily been triumphant in the worst shirt category. And, again, we also need to take a sideways glance at the world of TV Sci-Fi.

You have to feel for Core. They actually produced a fairly decent set of kits for Brentford in the mid90s but, alas, at Portman Road things were somewhat different.

We’ve already mentioned their away version from 95-96 but the home from that (and the following) season is even worse. The top half starts decently enough with a traditional deep blue but as we make our way down the shirt, things take a turn for the peculiar.

The blue starts to merge into white, gradually replacing the primary colour until by the final third we are all white. It is a design gimic that even continues onto the arms.

At best it looks like the players have been caught in a snow drift; at worst, as though they have just given the order to “Beam me up, Scotty”, Star Trek style, and the transporter beam has taken hold.

ipswich design

Nick Bruzon

With launch imminent, the Kit Obsessive returns for a look at our good, bad and ugly

21 Jul

Finally. The most protracted kit launch since the Knight Industries 2000 rolled off the production line comes to a head. ‘Official’ have announced that the new Brentford home and away shirts will be revealed on Friday and then worn on Saturday against FC Kaiserslautern. Initial thoughts on this subject have already been published but, before we look forward, perhaps time to look back.

made-of-brentford277-3197572_613x460

It’s coming. Not my words etc. etc. etc…..

Last Season I was fortunate enough to be able to write the ‘kit obsessive’ articles in the match day programme in which we looked at the best, worst and plain unusual of the visitor’s kit. Whilst for obvious reasons the feature won’t return this season – barring those newcomers to the Championship such as Burton Albion , Newcastle, Aston Villa etc  – these pages will (amongst other new features) no doubt make the odd reference to footballing fashion.

Indeed, over the years we’ve talked about the best, and worst, of Brentford shirts but never given them the ‘kit obsessive’ style treatment . So with the launch imminent, it seemed a timely juncture to close this loophole.

As ever, the categories remains : The best; the worst; the away; the unfortunate design / the retro classic. Likewise, these are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste.

Are these right? Wrong? What are your thoughts?

For me, they are as follows….

The Best: Chad. Home 1990-92 KLM sponsored. Chad manufactured. Title winning. Simple but stunning and the most evocative of memories. No nonsense red and white with black collar and tasteful trim. I can’t look at this without thinking of Terry Evans, Kevin Godfrey, Keith Millen, Neil Smillie and, of course, Deano & Bliss. Didn’t something happen at Peterborough? My all time favourite, hands down.

IMG_4767

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 06.15.17The away: Adidas. Third 2015/16 Whilst I’ve always opted for the corresponding Chad away shirt, kitman Bob pulled something very special out of the bag last season when we played Blackburn Rovers. A Brentford third kit. In black. Oh, this is a thing of beauty – and not just the image of Sam Saunders wearing it in conjunction with short shorts (which, I gather, medical advice suggests is apparently something not thought about in this already hot weather !) . We’ve gone for black again this season – can it match up to this?

 

 

The worst: Puma. Away.  2008/09 .Puma’s offering was truly horrific. It shouldn’t have been. There was nothing too fussy / garish about it whilst it had two shades of blue. But what a shade – pastel ‘baby blue’. The sort of thing a newborn might wear – until he vomited on it (which would be an improvement). Worse, it was regurgitated as 2009/10’s third kit.

IMG_4802

And from a home perspective, how about Puma 2011/12 Floppy black collars. They’re floppy!!? The only point of a collar on a football shirt is so as you can stand it up – preferably just at the point of entering ‘Saunder’s territory’. Sizing issues. Yet the ultimate crime is the red shoulder patches and double black trim.  A combo that makes us look like hotel doormen in knock off adidas shirts – the brand with two stripes

Marcel Eger Brentford

Marcel Eger chose to wear a spray on shirt rather than hold it

 

Retro classic / unfortunate design: Osca. Home, 1983/84 . It just had to be. A white upper half and, for the first half of the season, worn with white shorts….. The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant. One man’s retro classic is another’s unfortunate design. I’m definitely in the former camp

IMG_4765

Here’s hoping tomorrow brings something equally spectacular.

Nick Bruzon