Tag Archives: Crewe Alexandra

Time to make some history.

15 May

Welcome back / Crud, him again. Delete as applicable. We’ve needed a few weeks of ‘downtime’ on these pages for a multitude of reasons but that’s all finished. Been there, done it, bought the t-shirt. There’s been no room to talk about Brentford making a winning run to the end of the season. On Ivan Toney scooping the golden boot and breaking Glenn Murray’s Championship record with his 31st of the season at Ashton Gate. Indeed, no room to talk about the near coronary induced by the decision to keep him on the pitch when he picked up the yellow card in that final ‘regular’ game of the campaign prior to scoring. No place to talk about how the final four have played out for the play-offs. As we all know, Monday evening sees Bournemouth host Brentford followed by Swansea City visiting Barnsley. Perhaps most importantly, no real time to talk about the buzz of being allowed back into games from next week. The lucky supporters over the 3000 TAP point limit know they will be at Lionel Road next Saturday. Those entered into the ballot no doubt sweating on the results of that as much as the first leg.

Yet for everything that has gone on, the only real subject on anybody’s lips has to be the play-offs.  Positive though I have been about our promotion chances this season (spoiler alert: it’ll continue), there was perhaps a resigned inevitability about our chances of reeling in a Watford team recording win after win after win in the final few furlongs. Their own victory at Norwich City the point where deep down even the maths was too outlandish a leap of faith to make. Their 1-0 defeat of Millwall confirming a return to the Premier league. Now, Brentford are looking to join them with a tenth bite at the play-off cherry. A monkey on the back the size of King Kong. We all know the stats. We all know our record. Nine attempts. Four finals. Nine defeats. The whole process starting with Tranmere Rovers back in the early 90s and coming all the way up to Fulham last time out. An extra time defeat as much a triumph for brutality as it was football. In between we’ve had Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City and Middlesbrough in the semis along with final game slip ups against Crewe, Yeovil Town and Stoke City in Cardiff. That one followed up by the worst train journey ever. Apologies again to all impacted. Only Preston North End had experienced more attempts than us without success, albeit even they have finally done it. Ten play-offs ; one win. Can we do the same?

The play-offs. We all know what happened the previous nine times…..

The short answers is a categoric YES. For me, Clive, I’m convinced this is finally our turn. Dark horse for second place in ‘player of the season’ Sergi Canos popping up to get the winner at Wembley. Hey, one can dream. The simple fact of the matter is that despite the plethora of injuries we’ve readjusted our formation and hit our groove once more. Brentford are keeping clean sheets at one end and scoring goals at the other. Of course, we’d love Rico, Josh and Henrik back (and who knows what unlikely cameos may be made at some point? ) but the team have rediscovered themselves. Sergi at wing back, Tariqe in flames and Christian Norgaard alongside the centre backs a formation rejig that has seen the Bees back to winning ways. The other three teams doing their level best to trip over themselves in a bid to discover the most anti-form in the final lengths. 

Of course, football isn’t that simple. No matter how well one team is playing versus the other three, everyone has had a chance to reset and pick themselves up once more. All four teams go into this fresh and it comes down to one thing only – who holds their nerve? Swansea, Barnsley , Bournemouth or Brentford? Obviously we’re going to talk up the Bees where, perhaps, we can draw some historical parallels. Blow the dust off the previous column (during the war, Grandad) and it spoke about how we fell into the play-offs after being presented with a golden chance after Huddersfield beat West Brom in game 45. Oh, the pain of tripping up against Stoke and then home to Barnsley was indescribable. Of watching our ‘automatic’ chances slide away. An inexorable torture session viewed from behind the sofa with fingers over eyes. Played out in empty stadia as our hopes of hitting the Premier League were replaced with a ninth attempt at the play-offs. We all know what happened.

Yet, longer term, might this have done us a favour? Perhaps. Like ‘that penalty’ against Doncaster  (a pain only matched by the play-off penalty defeat to Huddersfield the season we came second when there was only one automatic slot), we bounced back in a style that had to be seen to be believed. Marcello Trotta and the team taking that pain, scrunching it up into a little ball and booting it into the net. The victory at Leyton Orient perhaps the most ballsy thing I have witnessed a football team ever do. Too right we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Partridgesque levels of bouncing back following the most indescribable anguish.

This time around, rather than watching our team play in the Premier league with out us present, we’ve had to hit pause. We’ve reached the semi-finals of the League Cup. We’ve had that huge unbeaten run mid-season. We’ve discovered the most coveted goal-scorer in English football in Ivan Toney. If ever there was a shoe in for ‘player of the season’ it is him. The only real battle there as to who comes second? The fairytale ending is all lined up. A first season in the Premier League, to be played out in front of supporters, the prize at stake. Not to mention a few quid. If nothing else, a chance to avoid the most undesirable play-off record.

Who do you want in the play-offs?”. That, the most common question that has come in this direction in recent weeks. Honesty, I don’t care. Four tough teams. Four teams after the same thing. Only one can make it through. This comes down to nothing more than bottle. The fans will, of course, bring an additional aspect that wasn’t there last time out. And a good thing too. We all know how awful football in empty stadia has been. The echoy thud of the ball and the shouts from the touchline the only sounds to punctuate the players calling out to each other. Urghh, it has been grim. All being well, it is now over. Being part of the crowd against Blackburn  earlier in the season, the clamour of 2,000 fans was the most incredible noise. The sweetest of sounds. We’ll have double the amount in this time around. All four stands populated. If not heaving, certainly more present to lift the players further. Peter Gilham finally having a crowd to play up to. The players being roared on. 

Oh, I can’t wait for the play-offs. Not a typo. As much as anything else the chance to see a game of football. To enter this game of Russian roulette feeling positive is the most alien of feelings. Yet, perhaps, the depressing familiarity of what we do at this stage will finally work in our favour. There is no pressure. At least, not in our house. I’ve had the somewhat dubious pleasure of experiencing all nine of our previous attempts and have been finally numbed against the feeling of what comes next. We’ve nothing to lose because we only lose. The team can play with freedom. Without the albatross around the neck. The script is written. All we need to do is turn up and deliver.

All we need to do…… If only football were that simple.

Bring it on. Seen you next Saturday. In person.

Nick Bruzon   

A potential silver lining as another part of next season falls into place

17 May

Monday evening saw Brentford learn another opponent for next season as the horror and the brilliance of the play-offs was combined in equal measure. Despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents , Brighton were unable to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit and so it is Sheffield Wednesday who reach the final next weekend. Barring a minor miracle, Hull City (who complete formalities at home to Derby tonight, 3-0 up) will be the only thing in their way as the Premier league beckons.

The nice part of me feels dreadfully for Brighton right now. The were in ‘automatic’ for long parts of the season and finished level on points with promoted Middlesbrough. Only two goals split the respective teams, with Boro ending the campaign on 89 points and +32 ; the Seagulls 89 points and + 30.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 05.46.46

The BBC table doesn’t lie

Wednesday, meanwhile, finished 15 points behind the Seagulls and had gone into the semi on anything less than great form. Only 2 wins out of the last 7(seven) suggested a team who had as much chance as Derby County of making the final. Yet, as we all know, form counts for nothing and the play-offs are a fickle mistress.

If one team can feel Brighton’s pain right now it is Brentford. Our play off form is only matched by Sheffield United, in making it 8 attempts without winning the final. Even Preston, finally, breaking their hoodoo last season making it 1 win out of 10 to join us in the Championship.

For the record, our own campaign trail of woe reads.

1990/91 : Lost. SF. Tranmere Rovers (2-3)

1994/95 : Lost. SF. Huddersfield Town (2-2; pens)

1996/97 : Lost. Final. Crewe (0-1)

2000/01 : Lost. Final. Stoke City (0-2)

2004/05 : Lost. SF. Sheffield Wednesday (1-3)

2005/06 : Lost. SF. Swansea City (1-3)

2012/13 : Lost. Final. Yeovil Town (1-2)

2014/15 : Lost. SF. Middlesbrough (1-5)

I take no pleasure from seeing any team go through what we have done. Many times. If ever a reminder were needed (it wasn’t) about just how cruel the play-offs can be it was here. If ever a reminder was needed of the importance of grabbing ever point and every goal over the course of the regular season then last night served up yet another example.

Yet, at the same time, whilst I do have sympathy I also have some selfishness about this. As one observer noted on Twitter last night, “Brighton away its too good a trip to be wasted on the Premier League”.

I’ve got no new interest in Sheffield  – been there, done it, eaten their (albeit lovely) pies and heard ‘that band’ many times. Should Hull win the final, then no doubt I may go (again).

But a guaranteed trip to the Amex is only a fantastic thing for Brentford. A short hop on the train. A day out by the coast. A full house of Bees in the away end. A cracking atmosphere.

Nick mascots Brighton

The Albion mascots – it feels like cheating on Buzzette

Sheffield are welcome to take their band and Hi-Ho, Silver Lining (see also: Let me Entertain you / We are the Champions for ‘overplayed stadium songs’ ) to the top flight. Good luck to them. Genuinely. I’ve always enjoyed going there and wish them no ill will.

But a trip to the Amex, something that many of us were denied this time around thanks to the decision making of Sky TV, can only be viewed as a positive. At least, for us visiting fans.

To be honest, missing out on that trip this time around was probably no bad thing (and if you’d like to read more about that, or the season just gone then you know the drill – it’s here). Brentford were abject when we went down 3-0 in February.

For that reason alone, redemption, I’m already looking forward to another visit. Now, where’s that railcard…?

Until then, this may remain on the cards. Still, if Wednesday do go up there will be one silver lining.

Enjoy

And finally, as ever, genuine thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the aforementioned Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). It is somewhat humbling that people take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

Lots of goals. Lots of points. Lots of tickets.

4 Mar

What a Wednesday! Brentford fans were able to take stock of a stunning 4-1 victory over Huddersfield Town last night before then receiving great news from Fulham with the announcement of ticket allocation for next month’s derby game. We’ll get to Craven Cottage shortly but for those still in need of a recap from last night, Huddersfield were the latest to try their luck at Griffin Park against the free scoring Bees.

7 (seven) in the previous 2 home games (3-1 v Bournemouth and then 4-0 v Blackpool) have now become 11 in 3. A 4-1 victory was the least we deserved as Chris Long took just four minutes to get off the mark on his full Brentford debut.

His second, following fine work from Jota (how often has that phrase been used this season?) restored Brentford’s lead after Harry Bunn had given the Terriers brief hope. But if that goal reinstated Brentford’s supremacy in terms of goals, what was more amazing was how things remained level in terms of players.

Bunn and James Vaughan were both incredibly fortunate to avoid bookings after preening in front of the home supporters like a pair of coked up peacocks. The reaction from the Ealing Road was hardly surprising but justice was soon delivered.

Alex Pritchard made it three before midfield man of the moment, Jon Toral, followed up his hat trick from a week before with a smart strike from distance. Bunn, meanwhile, eventually found his way into the notebook although referee Kavanagh must have been suffering xanthophobia when it came to Vaughan. A number of cynical challenges were shown nothing more than an inconsequential talking to for the Town number 9.

The video highlights are now on YouTube

 

But a victory of magnitude does, in the cold light of day, make such anomalies almost an irrelevance. The key points to remember are another +3 in the GD column, a refreshing alternative up front and, most importantly, three more points as Brentford hit the play off spots once again.

And then the ticket news from Fulham was announced. An initial allocation of 4000 (with the option for a further thousand) means we’ll take up a fifth of the ground for the Bank Holiday game on April 3rd. As ever, full information is available on the club website and you can read that here.

As we saw last season at Leyton Orient, huge travelling support to a local derby can make a monumental difference.

Here’s hoping for a very Good Friday.

A day of strange, strange results keeps the table wide open.

1 Mar

Brentford’s 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City on Saturday was just one of many slip-ups from the teams in the Championship promotion mix. Only Watford could take advantage of defeats for Derby County and Middlesbrough (along with Bournemouth dropping two points at home to Blackburn Rovers) to make any progress up the table. And then there was Clem at Crewe Alexandra…

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

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

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Clem predicts how many points he'll earn for Crewe

Clem predicts how many points he’ll earn for Crewe (or is that a crafty ‘pick’?)

Stand by for action. The Championship is finally here !!

9 Aug

This is it, Brentford. Today’s visit of Charlton Athletic finally offers the chance of some catharsis as all those years of ‘coming so close’ since 92/93 (not to mention a couple of relegations) can finally be put to one side.

After falling foul of League restructuring and missing out to Birmingham City in 94/95 – followed by our now standard play-off capitulation.

After the dire play off final of 96/97 agasint Crewe Alexandra at Wembley.

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

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

Who joins Brentford in the Championship next season?

11 May

I woke up on Sunday morning to realise I still didn’t know the final result. Not Eurovision (although that had needed a double take to make sure Jonathan Douglas wasn’t moonlighting) but who would join Brentford in the Championship after the Preston North End – Rotherham play-off semi. A quick search of the interweb revealed that, like the preceding Peterborough – Leyton Orient clash, the match finished all square at 1-1.

What it also revealed was a fact I had been unaware of, thinking previously that Sheffield United were the equals of Brentford in having the worst record at the play-offs. Infact, Preston have lost their last eight attempts, compared to our ‘paltry’ 7 (seven).

It is a statistic that I apologise for quoting. I am sure Lilywhites fans must be as fed up with hearing the media (let alone a mere blogger) use it as we are about the press banging on about the climax to last season and some sort of penalty incident.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

Is this the biggest ever? The time Birmingham City ruined the party

14 Mar

Has there ever been a more meaningful game between Brentford and Leyton Orient?  It’s a question that Billy Reeves put out there on Beesplayer during the Carlisle game and which he posed again during the week on Twitter.

The obvious answer is ‘no’ – this is the big one for both teams. We all know the current stats and the very likely prospect that, as things stand, one of the Bees, O’s and Wolves will end up as League Champions. Likewise, that one of this trio will miss out on automatic promotion and, thus, be cast into the hell on earth that is the chance to play at the W place near Ikea in North London.

So far, so good. However, for Brentford there has been a bigger game. Cast your mind back to season 1994/95 when David Webb was at the helm. This, at the time when he was still purported to “wear a magic hat”, according to the words of the then popular terrace chant, rather than the era when the spelling of his name had been changed to W£bb.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

“Your vocabulary is as crude and as blunt as the football Brentford play”

16 Feb

Not my words but those of a visiting Wolves fan to this site, only yesterday. Its a fair point, in part. Whilst my ‘style’ probably is of the unsophisticated sort associated with a humble blog rather than a Premiership /League One matchday programme, the same cannot be said about Brentford’s style of play. Just ask Crewe.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

If it’s good enough for David Beckham….

14 Feb

Weather permitting, Brentford return to action against Crewe Alexandra tomorrow and will be hoping to stay top of League One. It’s a big ask, with second place Wolves only two points behind and surely due a win at home to a Notts County side entrenched in the relegation zone.

Looking around the interweb, it seems the usual prematch tub-thumping is taking place although that’s nothing new. Earlier this season, Crewe’s visit to Griffin Park was preceded by extended highlights of the 1997 play-off final. We all know what happened next (and I don’t mean at the W place in North London) – the Bees ran out 5-0 winners as Clayton Donaldson grabbed a brace against his former employers.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.