Tag Archives: Craven Cottage

Now isn’t the time for gloating.

17 May

For Brentford, the season is over. A third successive finish in the top ten of the Championship and some of the most exciting play we’ve seen in years was the hallmark of a job very well done. For Fulham, Reading, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday there is one additional bite of the cherry via the play-offs. Or, should that be, was ?

To paraphrase popular music’s The Spice Girls last night, was the night, that four become three. Fulham did what we needed them to do and lost out at Reading, going down 2-1 on aggregate to ensure that, along with the Loftus Road mob, there will be three West London teams in the Championship next season.

Despite all the giving it large on Twitter in recent weeks, it has come to nothing. Clappers. Richard Osman. The neutral stand. The ghost of Michael Jackson. The gin bar. Clappers (so bad they had to be mentioned twice). Brian Guest. An inability to sell out your own ground for the big games. We’ve got them all to look forward to again in the Championship next season. And I can’t wait.

smilelaughBut this isn’t the time for gloating. Oh no. Us Brentford fans know the pain of the play-offs. Our tilt at the Premier League two seasons ago being the most recent of several, what we’ll politely call ‘challenging’, attempts to earn promotion via this roulette wheel of nerves, choking and pressure.

Likewise, it would be fair to say that Fulham were one of the better sides to visit Griffin Park this season. An attractive brand of football whilst even the game at the Cottage should have seen them going in at half time with at least a three goal lead. Such were the chances created yet not taken in a game which, with Leeds United still alive at that point, they had to win to guarantee a play-off place.

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View from the stand – Brilliant Bentley does his thing at The Cottage

That it ended 1-1 tells you everything you need to know about Brentford but, perhaps, gave a greater clue as to Fulham’s own ability to perform under pressure. When they needed to find the back of the net, the combination of a quality opposition goalkeeper and the inability to hit a barn door in a brewery with a banjo were the architects of their own shooting themselves in the foot.

The other thing to catch my eye yesterday concerned the legend that is kitman Bob. We all know how amazing he is and how lucky Brentford are to have him around. Anybody who follows him on Twitter would have seen yet another reason why on Tuesday. Something all the sweeter for the fact that we wouldn’t even have known about but for Maxime Colin blowing Bob’s trumpet.

What a gesture. Especially for the goalkeeper (That. Red)….

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Max, Matt and Bob say it with shirts

Nick Bruzon

Brilliant Bentley, play-offs, clappers and a special guest in the programme. What an afternoon.

30 Apr

Well, that was some afternoon. Brentford travelled to Fulham where a point was probably a fair result in a game we were lucky not to have gone in three or four down at half time but which ultimately ended 1-1. That they didn’t win will be the least concern for our hosts . With Leeds United going three down at home to Norwich City before eventually managing a point, those results mean that barring a staggering swing in goal difference, Fulham have reached the play-offs and we’ve another trip to Elland Road. And off field, did anybody pick up a copy of the match day programme…..?

First up though, congratulations to Fulham. Yes. It has to be said. A full house at Craven Cottage saw a cracking game of football as the hosts set out to ensure Leeds couldn’t catch them. What happened was as afternoon that will go down as on of those ‘I was  there’ days – for both sides.

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A full house saw a great game in a wonderful atmosphere

Easily one of the best teams to visit Brentford this season (Fulham, not Leeds), Saturday saw them come flying out of the blocks as they looked to get the win they needed to secure a play off spot. With Brentford on the back foot and being carved open for fun, it was only a matter of time before the first goal. Tom Cairney grabbed it after eight minutes and that was, surely, the cue for the floodgates to open?

With the Bees rocking, chance after chance came. Floyd Aite in particular firing so very high and so very wide when clean through. A second goal would have probably been fair on the balance of play but possession, stats and chances count for jack if you can’t put them away.

And sure enough, goal of the season contender Nico Yennaris stepped up. An interchange of passes with Konstantin Kerschbaumer saw the sweetest of finishes into the far corner on the diagonal from just inside the box.
1-1 and the Bees took the noise up another few decibels.

And a good thing too. The goal, obviously, but the even louder support for an already vociferous away following. Anything to drown out those infernal clackers/clappers. Those things that, if you check out the video highlights (and Sky Sports have their version up now), sound like hundreds of charity buckets being rattled.

But with Brentford having hauled themselves back in to it, charitable donations seemed to be the order of the day. How goalscorer Cairney didn’t restore Fulham’s lead I still have no idea. He was left totally unmarked, and I mean totally, 8 yards out but could only guide the inch perfect cross well wide of the goal. Daniel Bentley wasn’t even forced into a save.

Moments later, another chance. Referee Darren Bond awarding what seemed, at the time, a totally innocuous penalty against the Bees. The ball had been crossed in and was pinging around the middle, going nowhere, when he pointed to the spot.

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View from the stand. Penalty – obv

Even watching it afterwards, Yoann Barbet does make contact with Stephan Johansen but only as the ball had been delivered into the heart of the crowded penalty box.  Generous would seem very much the verdict on this one.

Step up Tom Cairney with another chance to let Fulham retake the lead. Step up Daniel Bentley to do his thing quite magnificently and show just why he is up there as a serious, serious contender for player of the season. Diving low to his left he not only pushed the ball clear but then made the bravest of second saves as he threw himself amongst the onrushing boots and onto the ball.

Yessss!  The away fans erupted. Again. The clackers were drowned out. Again. Fulham had seen another gilt edged chance spurned. Again. Daniel Bentley, you beauty.

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View from the stand – Brilliant Bentley does his thing

And with that, half time. Checking the scores saw Leeds United 3-1 down and as good as out. Despite our best efforts in the second period, both teams had really given their all and it couldn’t match the pace of the first. The highlight being a debut for Zain Westbrooke who, along side full backs Tom Field and Josh Clarke really marked a positive embrace of those who have come up from the youth set up and B team.

Sure enough, with the 90 played out and Leeds United all but shooting themselves in the foot, the hosts were happy enough to stroke it around their defence and settle for a point. Brentford fans stayed to applaud the players off (Lasse Vibe, Yoan Barbet and KK amongst those handing over their shirts and really taking in the moment – do we need to read anything into this?) before going off to settle for a pint. The fans, not the players.

Off the field, two moments of real note. Firstly, Matthew Benham taking to Twitter. Always a good thing when this happens, he put the kibosh on any prospect of Lionel Road Clackers.

Like Goal Music, another thing that will have to reside in the drawer labelled : Do not open. Ever.

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And secondly, forgive a bit of self-indulgence.

Back in January, my hitherto unseen identical twin brother Brian Guest saw a tweet from Fulham, looking for home supporters to participate in the ‘Your Club’ section of the matchday programme. This could be amusing (he told me) and applied. One thing led to another and along with a photo of Brian sporting the Spall ’87 Brentford away shirt, a series of tongue-in-cheek answers were submitted. Surely this would never get past the editor?

But it did. Brian’s selection was swiftly confirmed, “A while off but appropriately enough, for the Brentford game”.

Seriously? Had they actually read the answers?

A reminder of the 4-0 defeat at Brentford.  Mention of the recent 4-1 home hammering administered by Stuart Dallas, Alan Judge, Jota et al. The Intertoto Cup – prestige and honour.

It went on. The wonderful Michael Jackson statue appeared. The Pizza Hut shirt. The Richard Osman / Pointless ’joke’ –  something that should contractually be met with tumbleweed these days.

Surely somebody would then look at this and rumble it? Surely?

But no. Before even reaching the Cottage, one Braemar Road observer (and fellow fan of the World Polo finals – thanks!) had already been in touch. It had got through. Commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge then took to Twitter advising likewise. And on reaching the Cottage, there it was (part of which you can see below).

Big thanks Fulham. Seriously. The game may have ended 1-1 but all three points to the Bees off the field.

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Nick Bruzon

Who wants it most? There’s all to play for in West London today.

29 Apr

What a few days. There have been awards, goal of the season and of course a game or two coming up with Saturday seeing a huge day for West London football. Brentford travel to Fulham, hot on the heels of last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. It was an encounter which saw Jota’s latest stunner wrap up the points in a game where, at times, we played some quite sumptuous football yet at others Dan Bentley and the linesman kept us in it. However, the net result was anther three points for the Bees and QPR still flirting with relegation. As for Fulham…..

Well, what can you say? They are in with a very real chance of making the play offs, as it stands, and have even finished above Brentford for the first time in three seasons. The table doesn’t lie and they’ve slowly reeled in Leeds United et al to finally break into the top 6. A derby day win for them will all but mathematically see that play off spot guaranteed, with the gap to 7th (seventh) currently 3 points and +13 goal difference.

But Brentford have their own motivation. Fulham’s win at Griffin Park earlier this season was as decisive as a 2-0 scoreline could be. Much as it pains me to admit, they were one of the better teams to come to this part of West London and we were very much left in second place that night.

Equally painful, it saw their first win over us since both teams returned to the Championship – albeit from different directions. Prior to that one, 2014/15 had seen Jota do his thing in the last minute at Griffin Park and that screamer from Stuart Dallas very much the pick of the bunch in a 4-1 rout at The Cottage. Last time out, only an errant linesman denied us all three points away from home with Jota ruled offside as he headed it in for 3-2. The return fixture saw the season come to an end in some style – Tom Field making his debut and Sam Saunders getting us of to a flier as we were three goals clear by half time to comfortably wrap up the points.

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View from the terrace – Stuart Dallas after doing that thing at The Cottage…

The Bees were crowned Kings of West London. Again. Then this season happened. With David Button between the sticks, Fulham have had the honours.  A return to winning ways will be very much the requirement. The possibility of a nil points against these neighbours, moreso given such strong previous form, is just not on the agenda.

Then there’s the current table. The Bees are just two points and one place off last season’s points total with the potential to finish a place higher than our previous 9th. What a wonderful incentive to go for it. And that’s without pooping a party.

For the last month or so it has become apparent that Fulham are heading upwards. Crashing this one and doing Leeds United a favour, no matter how distasteful that might seem, is a very real possibility and has long been something many fans have been aware of. Now the game is here and that chance is available for both teams. Who will take it? At 3pm we find out….

As for QPR, they host fellow bottom six side Nottingham Forest still needing two points to guarantee safety (third bottom Blackburn, needing two wins themselves, have too close a goal difference for a draw to be sufficient). With Rangers in freefall, current form of LLLLLL leaves them with nobody to blame but themselves for their predicament.

Much as the situation is a novel one, they won’t go down. Birmingham City are just horrific whilst Blackburn still need six points from a season that concludes with a trip to Griffin Park That said, wins today for Mark Warburton, Birmingham and Blackburn could make the final round of games very interesting indeed.

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Can Fulham make the play offs, Brentford beat last season or QPR stay up?

All that of course is to unfold later today. However, there’s been plenty to keep us intrigued over the last few days. Alongside the Player Of The Year vote, supporters are now able to nominate their winner for goal of the season.

Oh, wow. If picking POTY was tough then this is another level of hard. I struggled to draw up a shortlist, let alone select a winner. They are, all ten, corkers. The build up play and finish for Josh Clarke v Reading, Nico’s piledriver in the Birmingham City game, Lasse Vibe finishing off the most incredible run from Sergi Canos at Forest or Jota’s recent pair against Derby County and QPR.

In the end, it’s just been an excuse to watch the video again. And again. The level of Burridgegasm also being an added help. The more excitable our commentator par-excellence gets, the better the goal seems to be has become a handy yardstick when trying to rank these in some sort of order.

In the end, I’ve voted. It had to be Jota. It had to be QPR. Derby County was that close and I’ve swung back and forth between the two of them yet, in the end, the way he collected Nico’s wonderful pass was the deciding factor.

That’s my opinion. Yours will quite likely, and quite rightly, be different. All we can say for sure is that whoever gets it will be a worthy recipient. You can see the video below and vote here.

Which is top of the pile?

Next up, awards. It was a double celebration for the club yesterday as the EFL have awarded us both their Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season aswell as the Friendliest Club Staff Award. Particular recognition has been given to both the ticket office staff and the stewards in the family enclosure.

One can’t begin to stress how deserved these awards are. Part of the pleasure in supporting Brentford FC comes from our wonderful family atmosphere. The club, players and staff cannot do enough for supporters – of all ages. The ‘meet the players’ pre-season event and Junior Bees Christmas party are staples on our calendar whilst who doesn’t get excited, young or old, when receiving a high five or fist bump from Buzz and Buzzette?

pay what you can Buzzette

Buzzette always makes time for fans – of all ages

The players and staff never fail to stop for an autograph or photo  – whether in the ground or in the street – an attitude that courses through all echelons of club. We’ve had supporters heavily involved in the kit launch this season whilst the care and attention shown to the match day mascots is just staggering.

What could have been quite an intimidating experience for a three year old – walking out in front of over 10,000 supporters – turned into one of the best days of his life. Big thanks there, again, to Harlee Dean and apologies once more for the lollipop covered hands you had to hold walking out (that’s HB, not me).

HB Harlee and Dan

The smile says its all (apologies again for the sticky fingers)

Then you’ve got kitman Bob Oteng. His own BBgiveaway is the stuff of legend but even outside of this he is a cult figure among Bees fans. His reaction to those who regularly sing his name at away games as he goes where he wants on the visitor’s pitch is always wonderful. Even the likes of Chief Executive Mark Devlin, Chairman Cliff Crown or Mr Benham himself consistently take time to respond to and interact with fans on social media.

As for the ticket office staff ! Special mention and rightly so. We’ve all had some form of interaction with them. We all know just how incredible the level of service they offer is . We all know how consistently friendly and helpful they are. Doing what could be deemed a somewhat stressful job – given how demand often outstrips supply – isn’t something I’d be able to cope with.

I could go on. But instead, why not read the official take on the awards which you can find on Brentford ‘official’?

And finally, Billy Reeves & Grown Men In Tears have closed the door on the Welcome Home, King Jota charity single. The video has come down from YouTube and the song is no longer available for download.

The net result has been a donation of £350 for Prostate Cancer Research. As Billy noted himself on Twitter yesterday, “not bad 4 an arvo’s fun

Not bad indeed, Billy.

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Billy shares the news, and the love, yesterday

Nick Bruzon

Belated birthday greetings to a legend as April offers goals, derbies and more.

1 Apr

And relax. The weekend is here. Peter Gilham is here. Bristol City will be here at 3pm this afternoon as Brentford look to pick up where we left off before international break. April, weak jokes and, on a totally unrelated note, Fulham and QPR are all here. Of course we have a pair of West London derbies to come with the Loftus Road mob visiting the club they failed to take over 50 years ago before we head up the road to Craven Cottage. That, of course, a game with the wonderful potential to try and put a huge dent in the host’s own play off hopes. If they haven’t already shot themselves in the foot, of course.

But with due respect to Bristol City, Fulham et al we can only start with Peter Gilham. Yesterday saw the incredible occasion of his 70th birthday. 70? ! Peter Gilham is 70. I’m sorry but I just can’t believe it. What fountain of youth is he drinking from? Were it not for the fact that I’m now in my own fifth decade of supporting the Bees (first game in 1979), I wouldn’t believe it. But , of course, Peter has been around since long before that.

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Peter Gilham – as seen in 1989’s ‘100 years of Brentford’ book

He is the living embodiment of the club. He’s still as enthusiastic as ever whilst performing his match day ‘man-with-the-mic’ duties although, as the years have progressed Peter has added a lot more dead pan humour to his delivery. Woe betide any off-target centre circle challenge participants, snapchat users (whatever that is) or tardy substitutes.

We all know him. We all love him. Peter has done just about every job at the club, barring caretaker manager. And whilst Dean Smith is carving out his own place in Brentford history at present, it wouldn’t be a shock to anybody outside of TW8 if, one day in the future, even that happened.

I can still hear the introduction to our own pre-internet telephone information line as Peter would announce in his ever dulcet tones, “Hello. And welcome to Brentford club call”. Then proceed to spin it out as the call box down the road ate through my coins with all the voracious appetite that a premium rate phone line would. Or am I getting mixed up with ‘chatback’?

These days, Peter’s calling card is “A little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock’”. The more goals Brentford score, the more enthused he becomes as what should be the most cringeworthy and toe curling of sponsorship announcements is already becoming part of club folklore. Forget the pizzas, its all down to the delivery. And when it comes to delivery, Peter is first class.

Belated birthday greetings Peter. Here’s to many more. I can’t wait to hear you on the Lionel Road P.A. system….

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter, Buzz and Buzzette. The epitome of cool

As for today, its non-stop. Prior to the visit from Bristol City, we’ve got the Bees Fan Zone in Watermans Park. Just a short walk from the ground, this is always a fantastic event for our younger fans and I’d urge you all to get along. Brentford never fail to pull out the stops as a family club and this is yet another example of how well we treat our younger fans. Full details are on Brentford ‘official’.

And then we have Bristol City. Win, lose or draw about the one thing I’d bet the mortgage on(purely for research purposes) is that this one has goals in it. Brentford have been on fire since the end of January and the five goal comeback against Burton has fast overtaken the 4-1 win at Fulham (you know, when Stuart Dallas did that thing….) as many supporters’ favourite away game in recent times.

Team selection remains a tricky one today. If only for picking out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to genuine news v April Fool’s jokes. Jota out for 9 months? Sure…. Peter Gilham 70….?

I don’t envy Dean this one. Despite the wonderful news about Alan Judge signing a new contract he’s not match fit. With Jota, Lasse and Sergi chomping at the bit for another taste of the net, everybody else will have to fit around them. Good luck with those first goal scorer bets. Yet, by all accounts, the Bees were as horrific in the first half at Burton as we were simply incredible in the second. Do onconming subs Alan Mac and Nico retain the berths occupied by Romaine Sawyers and KK at the start of that one? Does Rico Henry walk back into the team ahead of Tom Field? How is John Egan’s head injury after his midweek exertions for Ireland?

Whomever Dean starts, let’s hope it ends with Peter Gilham having a very sore throat and more plugs for that little Italian restaurant. By Brentford lock.

As for the rest of the month. I saw a graphic yesterday advertising all the footballing treats awaiting the armchair viewer in April. All well and good, but nothing beats the thrill of a West London derby.  The prospect of hosting QPR followed by a trip to Fulham just a week later is a tantalising one.

April fixtures

Championship life has been nothing but exciting and those two games represent yet another wonderful example of why it continues to enthral us.  I’d rather be at those games than sat at home watching Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and those other apparent big names.

Brentford may not have Ibrahimovic, De Gea, Neymar, Messi and whomever Arsenal’s marquee players are. And? We’ve got Jota, Harlee, Sergi, Ryan.

Plus, of course, Peter Gilham. Here’s to 3pm when it starts all over again.

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Don’t forget the Fan zone prior to kick off

Nick Bruzon

Noooo! Fulham have only gone and done it.

17 Feb

Brentford have a day off on Saturday. FA Cup capitulation at the hands of Chelsea (a game where we put in a performance that was very much the Murray Jones to their Dean Holdsworth) sees us now kicking our heels. Just a few miles up the road, however, near neighbours Fulham are in cup action. They entertain Tottenham on Sunday.

It is a game which made me sit up and take notice yesterday, but for a very wrong reason. At a time when Donald Trump is beating all comers hands down in the apparently deranged stakes  (his explanation of what uranium is has me intrigued, yet genuinely terrified, about what his next bit of amateur science might be), he seems to have a rival. The Fulham club shop.

Bear in mind this is the club that has already brought you ‘The Neutral stand’ and ‘The Gin bar’. A club who introduce ‘clackers’  and ‘giant foam fingers’ to try and help the home fans generate some atmosphere. Then, of course, there was that business with the Michael Jackson statue. Yet even by their previously odd standards, they have now gone ‘full Trump’.

What is the most scorned thing about modern football? Tourists on a day trip to Chelsea or Old Trafford? Grown men in full kit on a match day ? ‘Hilarious’ shirt names (I 8 Spurs etc  I don’t, for the record)? Selfie-sticks?

All are bad and yet one thing still transcends them all. The half and half scarf. There is no logical reason as to how this has sprung up or why any football fan of sound mind would buy one. Who wants memorabilia celebrating another team? Who wants to wear the opposition colours? Let alone in this most happy-clappy of styles? Over priced and cheaply produced tat. Something so offensive that no self-respecting club has even embraced previously. Up until now these abhorrent items have only been available from the street hawkers.

Up until now being the key phrase. Because, of course, Fulham have stepped forward. With this. Officially. In their official club shop.

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I may be late to this party but I don’t care. Irony goes full circle as Fulham break the fourth wall. Get your official half and half scarf. This has to be a joke? Surely? Would any self-resecting club really do this ?

Part of me hopes that Matt Jeffrey is just a fake twitter ID, playing a very long game in order to spoof the hapless Cottagers. Yet with over 1500 tweets already, and seemingly all the right credentials, he looks legitimate. And he is encouraging his Fulham fans to wear a Spurs scarf. Or, at least, half of one.

You know what, I hope they win. Genuinely. For no other reason than one can’t even begin to imagine what their marketing team will dream up for the quarter finals.

Half and half shirts, here we come….

Nick Bruzon

Is that the sound of a straw being clutched?

5 Nov

It had to happen eventually. That’s just a matter of probability and percentages. After five games and now into our third season of playing together in the Championship, Fulham have finally beaten Brentford in a West London derby. Friday night’s game seeing the visitors record a 2-0 win at Griffin Park.

Of course, Brentford had the historical form. Previous Championship encounters had seen the Bees despatching Fulham as easily as an irritating child being sent to the naughty step. The Cottagers had been blown off the park time and again, providing no more resistance than a playful kitten . Instead, they’d rolled over and let us tickle their bellies as 11 goals, three wins and 10 points followed in four games. Indeed, but for an incorrect ‘offside ‘ call against Jota last season (oh, to have him back) it would have been a 12,4,12 record.

That was then. This is now. It is a quintessential bit of footballing common sense to play the team, not the moment. Don’t rest on your laurels. Previous humpings of Fulham or last Friday’s wonderful destruction of QPR count for nothing the moment the man in, erm, medium violet red blows the whistle to begin proceedings.

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Aubergine? Puce? Vermillion? No.

Whether there was an assumption we’d do it again. Whether the midfield were (the wonderful Josh Clarke aside) still at Loftus Road. Whether it was just tactical naivety from Dean Smith (his selection, substitutions and continuing neglect of Konstantin Kerschbaumer  a mystery to rank with the pyramids or Donald Trump’s hair) I have no idea.

All I can say is that this was, sadly, woeful. A brief flurry in the second half aside, the Bees weren’t at the races. Dean was man enough to admit that “We didn’t perform well and didn’t deserve to win”. … before the somewhat strange revelation that, “While not playing at our best, we showed some spirit and stayed in the game until the 93rd minute”.

While not playing at our our best?”. Technically correct but was that the sound of a straw being clutched?  I’m loathe to overly criticise a team who are still wonderfully placed in the Championship, but lets be honest here. We were terrible last night. And against Fulham of all teams.

More worrying is our current form. That incredible game at QPR aside, we’ve huffed and puffed an awful lot in recent weeks. At least, when trying to break teams down. Indeed, even factoring in the result against the not so super hoops our last 6 games have seen 3 consecutive blanks at Griffin park and only three goals scored. The only thing on fire, certainly based on last night’s showing, was the referee’s assistant on the Braemar Road side – giving off more steam than a thoroughbred race horse.

What a pity we didn’t have any of those ourselves. Scott Hogan looked knackered, Ryan Woods unusually out of sorts and Josh McEachran out of his depth. International break and a chance to just take stock, pick ourselves up and catch our breath once more couldn’t come soon enough. David Button, on the other hand, coming in for some very harsh treatment from the Griffin Park faithful as he showed the same prowess that we had come to rely on over the years. The only difference being he has now learned to kick straight. And long. The toblerone boots seemingly left behind in TW8.

I’m trying to find a positive from the night and all I can come up with is Fulham’s socks.Surely an even more desperate straw to clutch than the aforementioned one from Dean.

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Nice socks; shame about the result

That said, should Kitman Bob have opted for a yellow and black away shirt for next season (and nobody could doubt that the Bathwise sponsored Bees’ colour scheme from a few years ago was always hugely popular) then the adidas back catalogue already has footwear to match.

As for Fulham, much as it pains me to the say this they were the only side in this one last night. Three points sees them overtake the Bees in the Championship table with QPR still limping along behind as the worst placed team in West London.

Is it doom and gloom? Of course not. Imagine being in Rotherham’s plight, for example. Imagine having had the geographical misfortune to have been born a Fulham supporter? Equally though, they wanted it more and they got it.

Captain Harlee Dean summed it up whilst also, thankfully, expunging his favoured post-defeat promise to’ go again’.

Next time, Fulham. Next time. See you at The Cottage….

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Harlee – honest as ever

Nick Bruzon

Good news for the Bees? Are Newcastle this season’s Leeds? And ‘Big Jim’ is at it again

22 Jun

Finally. Today’s the day. The Championship fixtures are announced at 9am. Us Brentford fans find out when we resume hostilities with the likes of the Loftus Road mob or Fulham aswell as undertaking journeys to league pastures new(ish) such as Aston Villa, Burton Albion and Newcastle United. And over in the Euros, those bemoaning the England team can, perhaps, take a little more comfort after seeing Spain come unstuck.

First up though, the fixtures. If these were commentated on (and knowing how Sky Sports News works, nothing would surprise me) I’d expect the line , “For those of you just getting in to work” to be trotted out as these are revealed.

Key dates, as ever, remain first home and away games, both local derbies, the season denouement and whether a Christmas visit from the in-laws will, at least, be tempered by knowing we can escape down the road on Boxing day.

I’ve seen a lot of talk on social media getting excited about the likes of the aforementioned Newcastle, Aston Villa and Burton. Not surprisingly, given league encounters against those three are rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal. We did, at least, play the Magpies back in 92/93, although 1-2 and 5-1 defeats represented a poor haul against the eventual Division 1 (this was pre Championship) winners.

For me, though, Fulham will be the first name to look out for. Having taken 10 points and 11 goals from them in the four games since our return to the Championship, the chance to continue that run is one which only excites. Stuart Dallas, Jota in the last minute(s), Sam Saunders and an unexpected home debut for Tom Field are just a few of the memories that spring to mind. Here’s to creating a few more.

Dallas montage Brentford

I can’t wait for the chance to do this again

Roll on 9am when we can start planning the next season and seeing if those dates we’ve already been obliged to mark in the calendar as busy (who gets married between August and May?) are going to see a bullet dodged or backfire massively.

At least, on the planning front, we’ll be offered a small helping hand. Sky have confirmed that aswell as the fixtures they “will confirm details of our first three televised matches alongside the main fixtures announcement”. The ongoing carve up of the fixture list in the name of TV coverage has been a source of frustration for many, albeit an understandable one given their contract to cover live games. Hopefully this does mean we can start to plan the first couple of away trips without fear of having to rebook train tickets.

Besides, the Bees shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just as we are looking forward to visiting Villa Park, Carrow Road et al, I’m sure the Sky producers have similar, audience grabbing, aspirations. Don’t expect Brentford to feature ‘on the road’ for a while. I can see Newcastle United becoming last season’s Leeds United with a TV game every five minutes or so.

Over in France, meanwhile, the Euros continued with Croatia beating many people’s favourites, Spain. Thanks, largely, to goalkeeper Danijel Subasic rewriting the penalty law and being about three yards forward when he saved Sergi Ramos’ spot kick with the scores locked at 1-1 late on.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, also reached the last 16 despite losing 1-0 to Germany and their talismanic striker yet to kick a ball in anger. Will Grigg’s on the bench, rather than on fire. And, just as after their 2-0 win over Ukraine where we treated to ‘that dance, Charlie Lawson (TV’s Jim McDonald) was in celebratory mood, enjoying a large Black Bush and delivering a hushed soliloquy to camera from what appeared to be a farmhouse kitchen.

To see such passion and support is a beautiful thing. I love it. Who knows what Charlie will do should they reach the last 8? It’ll be fun finding out though, so it will.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 05.45.31

How about you there, Northern Ireland

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  With Brentford almost set to ‘go again’  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, re-live a stunning few seasons  of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.

Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Can Fulham provide the missing link? Help needed in kit quest

31 May

So this is what if feels like to be a modern day paleontologist. Whilst trawling the internet to unearth long buried clues may not be in the same league as a Jurassic Park style Velociraptor ‘dig’ , it is a close as I’ll get to emulating that wonderful film. But instead of T-Rex bones, it is the mythical ‘green’ adidas shirt, worn by Brentford at Fulham in season 1980/81 that we’re on the hunt for.

The inspiration for this quest? Kitman Bob’s suggestion that we’re going to need a ‘third’ shirt this season then being followed up by Matthew Benham’s public acknowledgement of the idea about having a ‘green’ variant. Certainly, it is an idea that seems to be getting some support in social media at present but one which also threw up the reminder that we had worn green before.

If the legendary Adidas 80/81 ‘home’ shirt has been lost forever, at least it still exists in pictorial form. But the green variant worn at Craven Cottage that season is one that I’ve never even seen a photo for. Surely it was out there, somewhere?

To misquote TV’s Peep Show, this was a job for Bruzon and Google, the maverick detectives who just won’t give up.

But after a weekend’s ceaseless searching, I’m now at the end of the line. The only solid evidence is a black and white picture from the subsequent Brentford match day magazine showing an action shot from the Fulham game. And even that is largely ’side on’.

1980-81 programme

It DID exist. Once…

I’ve trawled the Internet. I’ve looked through books. I’ve even attempted scouring the covers of Fulham programmes from the era (via the medium of eBay – there isn’t a stash of illicit reading material lurking Chez Bruzon) .

Likewise those of Brighton and Watford whom I gather we also wore this rarely seen colour against.

Green cji

The digitised ‘mock up’

There have been mock ups made of this shirt (left) whilst your’s truly has attempted to recreate a version  (further below) although, being honest, this is somewhat tricky when you don’t know fully what you are looking for.

Even Brentford FC memorabilia guru Paul Briers has only been able t0 supply the above programme picture. And if he doesn’t have a copy then, surely, it doesn’t exist. Or does it….

So here’s the challenge. Does anybody have a picture of this? Are any Fulham fans reading who may have a copy of a ‘home’ programme lying around that contains further images? What about our friends in the local press?

I don’t even know who owns the Middlesex Chronicle these days but I’m sure they must have voluminous archives. Perhaps lurking in the vaults.

Until then, we can only speculate. I’ve no idea if we’ll wear a green third shirt next season but I’ve moved on from that now. Somebody somewhere must have a picture of this lost treasure, this missing link to put a kit obsessive out of his misery.

If you do, please get in touch. It would be wonderful to see first hand evidence of what sounds like a real ‘one of a kind.

I won’t even ask if the real thing exists…..

wanted-reward-poster-background

Did it look something like this ??

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

Can Harlee come out on top in this local spat ?

30 Apr

This is it. Brentford v Fulham. The final Griffin Park game of the season. The final BBGiveaway from Kitman Bob (and what a giveaway it is…….). The final chance to #BeeTheDJ. The final chance to try and resist making the obligatory Richard Osman / Fulham pointless ‘joke’. (Is that a piece of tumbleweed I see before me?)

We all know what this one means. It’s a fixture which has provided Brentford fans with nothing but stunning memories these last few seasons.

Who could forget Harlee’s absolute blockbuster to level things up at home last season where the centre back leathered a piledriver into the top corner from just inside the box?

It was a hammer blow that any player would have been proud of although we must also thank the Fulham defence who left him totally unmarked. Harlee had enough time to pick his spot, read the maker’s name on the ball (Mitre, for the record) and wave to his girlfriend before leaving Bettinelli flapping at air.

How good would it be to see him do that again? Moreso after the, so called, ‘twitter spat’ of the last few days.

But if Harlee hit a screamer it was nothing compared to Jota. In the last minute. Naturellement.

Who needs words?

Brentford Fulham BBC 2 - 1final score

Jota – his winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

Life doesn’t get better. Except it does.

Not one, not two, not three but four contenders for goal of the season followed in last season’s encounter at Craven Cottage. 4-1 was beyond the dreams of most Brentford fans before kick off as Fulham were left on the wrong end of what the BBC have declared as a thrashing.

I still get goose bumps, even now, thinking about Stuart Dallas scoring his second goal – absolutely leathering it from about thirty yards out, straight and true to the top corner. It was a rocket of a shot that, equally, owes a huge debt to Andre Gray who held off three defenders before rolling it back out to the lurking midfielder.

I’ve rewatched it again this morning. And then once more use for luck. It really WAS that fantastic a goal.

Watch it again..and again..and again 

This season, the trip to Craven Cottage ‘only’ saw two goals and a single point.

The linesman’s flag denied Jota a winning goal as he was adjudged offside when given the freedom of the penalty box to make it 3-2 to the Bees. That the Spaniard had been granted more space than a professional footballer should have any right to expect his hardly his fault.

Whilst disappointing , relatively, Brentford fans were still left celebrating another game unbeaten against our near neighbours.Mores, given our goal tally had risen to 8 from 3 derby games.

For all we’ve had some incredible times, I’d still settle for an awkward and scrappy 1-0. The chance to consolidate our position above both Fulham and QPR, whilst making it 10 points out of 12 from game against the Cottagers since our return to the Championship would be a wonderful way to end our ‘home’ campaign.

Especially if we leave them, pointless.

Damn.

IMG_5342

Can’t. Resist. Crap. Joke

Nick Bruzon

Tickets and travels – Wednesday and QPR are getting closer

12 Feb

After another painful wait for a game following last Friday’s shoeing at Brighton, it’s almost time to step back up to the plate with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday. The Hillsborough outfit will, of course, be looking to consolidate their place in the play-off zone. Before all that, though, we see the main swathe of tickets for QPR going on sale today.

It would be fair to say that, Chelsea aside, Brentford were kings of West London football last season. We finished well clear of Fulham whilst taking all 6 points and 6 goals off them in the League. Stuart Dallas scored THAT goal whilst Jota did his thing in the last minute. Twice.

QPR, meanwhile, slid out of the Premier League after a poor, poor campaign – returning to the second tier of English football once more. This time around, things haven’t been much better for either of our divisional rivals. Fulham are 11 points behind the Bees whilst despite a recent resurgence for the Loftus Road mob, it is still the Bees who occupy 12th to their 13th. Plus we have the advantage of first bragging rights as Marco Djuricin popped up with the only goal of the game when we secured all three points at Griffin Park back in October.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – who could forget ?

Tickets are sure to fly for those who now have the requisite amount of points. Last year’s ‘loyalty’ being this years ‘TAP’. Rightly so, we all love a local derby and will be desperate to get one over our neighbours in their own, cramped, stadium. With only half the allocation we normally get for Craven Cottage available, it is sure to be a packed and noisy crowd. I can’t wait.

Before all that is Sheffield Wednesday. With the Bees now 10 points (effectively 11 with goal difference) off the 6th place that they occupy, anything but a win will ,surely, spell the end to the play-off aspirations that Dean Smith was still harbouring after the game at the Amex.

Despite his observation that , “We have 16 games and 48 points to play for, while there is still an opportunity to make the Play-Offs we will go for it”, I don’t think many are fooled. Sorry Dean but I can do the maths. Much as I love the Bees and only want the best for us, I’m also realistic. And can read a form table.

If that was, perhaps, a soundbite he was obliged to give, yesterday’s press day saw him come out with two much more positive / realistic ones. Firstly, that, “ I am not a massive fan of possession stats because they don’t always mean you will win the game,

Hallelujah! As, I’ve been saying all season – all the possession in the world and sideways passing counts for naff all if you can’t get the ball in the back of the net or even manage a shot. Brighton saw the quintessential example of this. Despite seeing 65% of the ball, the Bees only managed one effort on target and went down 3-0. Here’s hoping lessons have been learned.

Equally pertinent were his observations about training. Specifically that Scott Hogan is getting stuck in and has really impressed after being out for so long. This is stunning news for the player but , equally, perhaps the motivation that everybody needs after Dean’s previous bombshell about us lacking intensity.

Sheffield Wednesday will provide a phenomenal challenge. If only for our supporters having to listen to ‘that band’. Yet if Dean’s words are to be believed, then we’ve got a team that are going to go for it

On Saturday, we find out.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

Best avoided