Tag Archives: Dave Berry

Is this our most valuable shirt? Do you have one?

25 Mar

We spoke kit, yesterday. Specifically Brentford kit and what might be next for the Bees. Not to mention running a little survey for which the results are now in, if anyone is interested (let’s be realistic here…). With the game at Chelsea still over a week away, albeit tickets now flying back out of the door, we’ll get there in the next few days. For now, with Christian Eriksen posted to make a return to International action for Denmark there’s a fascinating podcast now available. Staying closer to home, do you have what is looking like the most valuable of the retro Brentford shirts hanging in the back of your wardrobe?

First up, Christian Eriksen. With Netherlands hosting Denmark on Saturday evening, there won’t be a dry eye in the house should our man make it on to the field of play. We all know the story and what happened doesn’t bear repeating beyond saying that his return to action has transformed Brentford. Talk about a game changer. Talent beyond belief and such an outpouring of love for a man whom many thought may never play again. Quite the opposite – he’s on fire and, for now, a Bee. As importantly, he’s set to complete the circle and make a delayed addition to his 109 appearances for the Danish national team.

We bang on about Absolute Radio on these pages from time to time. I love live radio. The interaction. The spontaneity. Not to mention the nonsense I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in over the years. 

Clanggggg. The sound of a name about to be dropped. I found myself talking to Dave Berry on his breakfast show a fortnight ago. Ostensibly to sneak in a plug for an outside broadcast from a Council Tip (a story that will take more space than these flimsy paragraphs) but the chat turned to Christian and Brentford. Specifically, how wonderful everything about his story was.

Two weeks later and Dave has devoted the first part of his latest ‘Doctor Next Door’ podcast to discussing our man. Whilst touching upon what happened, the focus is as much about how things are going now and how Christian is able to play Premier League football. I won’t give any more away beyond saying that you really should give this a listen. It’s fascinating stuff and a nice diversion from pub chat.

You can find that here. Enjoy…

Next up, kit. Have you seen the price of shirts these days? Wow. Just wow. It’s not uncommon for anything pre 96 to go for upward of £150 on eBay at the moment (other sites are available too). The dearth of Brentford shirts relative to the quantities associated to the clubs wh were seen as bigger back then, no doubt contributing to this. Personally speaking, I’ve all but given up trying to plug the gaps in the collection given what these are now shifting for. On the flip side, there are a lot of fans playing catch up and this represents a wonderful, if not expensive, means of going properly old school.    

I thought the £242 recently paid for a short sleeved club-shop blue DHL was punchy ( that’s inflation for you ) but a 90-92 Chad ‘away’ went for an incredible £301. I’ve still got mine from the era – given as a birthday present in 91, just before we went to Craven Cottage to beat Fulham, and would never dream of parting with it. Even so, the temptation must be there for many to rummage around the shirt drawer (we all have a shirt drawer, yes?) and pull out some footballing fashion gold. What a way to boost any coffers that may need a hand.

Recent shirt prices on eBay

There’s another 90-92 up at the moment. Good luck and all that. The figures that old shirts are going for at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if asking price is met (or, at the least, comes close). Moreso, with Jon Varney hinting that our away shirt will appeal to those in mind of the late 80s/ early 90s, what a chance to get ahead of the pack and have the original.

Finally, yesterday’s fantasy kit vote. It was neck and neck most of the way between the Bus Stop in Hounslow special and the sash, with the later eventually edging ahead. It’s a vote with no purpose beyond a bit of fun but interesting to see the London Transport variant faring so well. 

As one correspondent put it, would make a great warm up shirt. Over to you, Jon Varney…

Nick Bruzon

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NGL this slaps. I think.

5 Mar

It’s not been the best week, if we’re being completely honest. The night times dominated by stress dreams about the situation in Europe. The days, seeing it tough to focus. As much as anything else due to the, so called, ‘mash-up’ of Wonderwall with the theme from TV’s ‘Friends. Something I still can’t decide whether is awesome or awful but has, regardless, stuck in the head like some insane ear worm that won’t stop nibbling. To cap it all, I’m trying to use the Pick your Bees starting line-up feature on the BBC for the Brentford – Norwich City game and it won’t let me select Sergi Canos as a defender. What the actual? Which is supremely frustrating because, if for no other reason, I wanted to see how he’d look in a flat back four today. So it’s Mads Roerslev – for BBC purposes. On the plus side, all of this various angst means we continue to push the Newcastle United game further to the dark recesses of the mind. Although if you would like to read more about that one then you can do so, here.

So, today’s game. Well we’re all fully fit. Apparently. The only absentee will be Josh Dasilva who starts the first of his three match ban for the red card he picked up against Newcastle. Thomas Frank used his press conference to tell us that Christian Eriksen keeps progressing and is in a good place. For me, he absolutely has to start today and should. We can always sub him out if fitness concerns  – natural given the length of time since he last played a competitive 90 minutes – kick in and legs begin to tire.  However, the key to this one is going for it from the off. 

On Ivan Toney, Thomas confirmed  that the player, “Is in a much better place. He played three lots of 20 minutes on Tuesday and looked good. Hopefully he is ready.”

Hopefully he is. Again, though, for me he starts. If he is fit then go for broke. Let’s not pussy foot around. Full tilt from kick off. The 20 minute salvo. And then the same again in the second half before the inevitable substitutions on 60+. 

Personally, I’d like to see us trying to play for the entire game but perhaps I’m just a dinosaur. The game and tactics have changed but, equally, can we at least have our strongest XI from the off today, please. Even if they only last an hour let’s go for that early lead.

I saw a stat this morning that said Norwich have scored the first goal in the fewest matches (5), but Brentford have conceded the opener most often (19). 

Those aren’t my words, Carol. They’re the words of the official Premier League Twitter feed. If that doesn’t tell you the opportunity for something to give is there then nothing will. The question being who takes advantage in a battle of tactical decisions? Thomas Frank or Dean Smith?

Tactics will be key today

The Norwich fans will be up for it. Their players knowing that each passing game sees the chance of Premier League survival getting slimmer and slimmer. This will absolutely be one they’ve targeted as winnable.

I would if I was Dean Smith – our current for is, on paper, terrible. Even if the performances haven’t always matched that. Yet the only stats that count are balls in the back of the net and points on the board. The time for justice and deserving has long gone. Instead, Brentford need to translate some of these words into actual results. As, of course, do Norwich City. 

The good news is that there is a whiff of change in the air. Thomas also used his conference to confirm some flexibility. To suggest we may look to a more traditional defensive line up, saying “I will be more flexible for the rest of the season so, depending on the game and the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, I will use a back three sometimes and a back four sometimes.”

This, something that should allow a higher, more pressing formation with players playing in their right positions. Even if this will inevitably mean Pontus Janson and Mathias Jensen are sacrificed from the starting XI. Kris Ajer on the right side of the the two centre backs and nowhere, nowhere near any sort of suggestion as a makeshift full back, please. Football is emotive and the thought of not picking Pontus is almost sacrilege in some quarters but, if we go two, we do it properly. None of this crowbarred nonsense. Rico, Ethan, Kris, Mads.  

And I say inevitably dropping Mathias Jensen. He’s clearly a nailed on starter for Thomas, in normal circumstances. For me, when he’s on it I’d agree. Recent performances have definitely been up there. The issue remains consistency. For every two good things there’s one wayward. For every man of the match performance (and there have been a few) he has a stinker. With Christian Eriksen available then he plays with Vitaly. Christian Norgaard sitting in front of the back four. Bryan and Sergi, or even Saman, wider. Ivan up top.

As we’ve said many times, everyone is an expert from the comfort of their armchair or playing Football Manager. It’s a pressure free environment when you are doing it in the pub with a pint or three. Proposed strategy quietly forgotten about when the team win; gobbed-off about when we slip up. Granted, that’s been a lot recently. There are very few amongst us who have actually managed a professional football club or even attempted to (ahem).

just saying

Then again, this passion and debate is what makes the game of football so wonderful. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone would do it differently. We all have players we love and others who we cannot believe get anywhere close to starting. Long may that continue.

At least change is coming. One would suggest that given the experiments Thomas has been undertaking on the training field, and his words in the press conference, that will start from today. Regardless, there’ll be those amongst us still not happy with how he picks. And if so, ask yourself what’s more important – backing that team and winning the game or bitching at individuals wearing the red and white? Just saying. You can read the full piece from the press conference, here.

Until then, safe travels to Norwich. If you really need anything to help eat up the time time then Dave Berry has a double Christian Eriksen special. Yours truly on yesterday’s Absolute radio breakfast show but, infinitely better, on his Doctor Next Door podcasts where, amongst other episodes, there’s a genuinely interesting and reassuring discussion on pacemakers and the heart.

This could be huge. I can’t wait. See you there. And if you don’t have time for a podcast, there’s always the Friends – Oasis thing…. Even if I’ve no idea what ngl this slaps actually means.

Da Kidz..? Little help please.

Nick Bruzon 

Missing football? Go ‘Business on the top, party on the bottom’.

26 Mar

Urghh. Coronavirus and Covid 19. Brutal words to rank alongside: Mrs Browns Boys, Simply Red, Rail Replacement Bus Service and Team GB (It’s Great Britain and Northern Ireland) in delivering a sickening punch to the gut every time they are mentioned. The cessation of football being the least of our immediate concerns at present yet a huge impact for many. The morale boost of watching Brentford denied to us for an indefinite time period as we are all confined to quarters. 2000 fans having to get that live action ‘hit’ from watching Lewis Frampton representing the Bees in the #UltimateQuaranTeam Cup. Yet there are a couple of other ways to keep your team in mind – one which yours truly will be undertaking and one thanks to Charlton Athletic fan and Absolute Radio breakfast show DJ Dave Berry . And its all down to the fact that so many of us are now having to work from home.

First up, Dave.  With video chat currently one of the ways we are all communicating, why not combine professionalism with support for your team ? Namely via an idea suggested by his own breakfast show team this week : Business on the top, party on the bottom. 

Put simply, keep the upper (visible) part of your attire as professional as possible. Yet below the desk, why not slip into something more sporting, more comfortable, more Hummel or Umbro? Why not wear a pair of football shorts off camera ?

By all accounts, Sir Trevor McDonald was a huge fan of the shirt/shorts combo when presenting the News at Ten. I’m not sure if this has ever been proven but it is a wonderful bit of imagery for the mind’s eye. Regardless, and much to Mrs. Bruzon’s chagrin, I did sip into the 92/93 ‘away’ shorts yesterday. Just to try it out.

Fashion and comfort were very much the winners. Good taste, perhaps, going out of the window. Yet the beauty being that nobody else knew. Until now. Like yours truly, Dave has also gone for the Hummel, albeit a more modern pair of Charlton Athletic shorts – as shared on Twitter.

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Why not get involved? And share them. Come on, we could all do with a laugh. And showing the support for our team. #Businessonthetoppartyonthebottom. Or something.

Perhaps the more discreet way of doing this is just to wear your favourite colours. Don’t hide them away under whatever you are using as a makeshift office table (for me, a 6 years old’s school desk in the spare room) . Why not wear your shirt for all to see? Why not do a Football shirt Friday ? 

We’re all on video chat with colleagues so, whilst keeping it professional (if the boss is reading) how about wearing your favourite colours. Rather than chat about Corona in the small talk part, let’s chat about our teams. Let’s share them on Twitter. Even though our teams aren’t playing at present, let’s get the back out there. Here’s an easier hashtag: #FootballshirtFriday   

No idea which one to go for but that’s a problem for tomorrow morning. For once, a nice problem. I’ve done the shorts – they weren’t as good on me as they will be on others (as you can see) . 

The shirt thing may be different though. Nothing says style like CHAD. Like the black and silver. Like brown/orange. I’ll be sure to share a picture of the workplace attire – it would be great to see yours too. Come on, let’s get involved. 

The one piece of football news that has emerged overnight was another victory for Lewis Frampton in the FIFA 20 #UltimateQuaranteam Cup organised by Leyton Orient. A 3-1 victory over Finn Harps means he is now through to the last 32 where he’ll face the winners of Thursday night’s clash between Blackburn Rovers and Forest Green. Well played Lewis. Bring on the third round. Or the round of 32 as we are contractually obliged to call these things .

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Well played Lewis

For now, there’s not much else to say. Get your favourite shirt on tomorrow and share a picture. It would be amazing t see what our fan favourites are.

Likewise, why not wear your shorts today? It looks like it might be a sunny day so there’s no excuse.

Besides, they can’t look any worse than mine…

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Nick Bruzon

Tricky choices for the boss. Brutal words to a special Guest.

21 Jan

Oh my word. Would you believe it?. There were smiles all over Brentford last night after yet another favour going our way at the top of the Championship table. Stoke City hung on to beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Hawthorns, meaning the gap between ourselves and the top spot is locked in at six points. With the Baggies and Leeds United both to visit Griffin Park still, along with Nottingham Forest in a week’s time, the league continues to prove itself the most exciting in Europe. Elsewhere, some audio has emerged from the Dave Berry Breakfast show on Absolute Radio after a listener, Brian Guest, got in contact regarding Fulham and their clappers at the weekend.

First up, West Bromwich Albion. Oh my, Just when the Championship couldn’t get any more unexpected, it has. And then some. I have to be honest that watching this one on Sky last night, I couldn’t help but feel Stoke City were only moments away from collapsing after their early goal. Surely West Brom would find a way through? Surely? But no. Wave after wave of pressure was repelled as the Potters closed out the game in some style. It all looked so, so controlled by the end of it. The home side unable to penetrate and their record now stretching out to one win in eight league games. See also: Leeds United. 

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As it now stands on the BBC

All of which makes the point earned by Brentford on Saturday seem even more valuable than it did back then. Sure, 0-0 hardly reeks of glamour (on paper) but I’d take it over defeat any day of the week. I’m ecstatic about the way the top two keep on hitting ‘self-destruct’. How that once humungous lead is now becoming thinner by the week.

It all goes to make next week’s visit of Nottingham Forest to Griffin Park all the more crucial. The Tricky Trees sit just behind us. Level on points but some way back on goal difference. However, they have that all important additional opportunity that is provided by having played one game fewer. Whilst I’m a firm believer in the adage that points in the bag are better than games in hand, you can bet they’ll be bang up for what is a real six pointer.

If anything, the short term destiny of The Championship is very much in their hands. Aswell as the game at Brentford, their next five fixtures include a visit from Leeds United and a trip to West Bromwich Albion. On current form, a guaranteed six points. Ahh, if only football really was that simple. The positive news here being that if Brentford keep doing their thing, then something else will go in our favour. One of those three teams has no choice but to drop points. 

I’d go so far to say that, and whisper this in hushed tones, Tuesday is more important than the visit of Leicester City in the FA Cup this weekend. I love the tournament and am desperate to proceed but if the price of keeping our assault on the upper echelons of the table going is to keep our squad fresh and play some of the B-team, then name Jan Zamburek as captain right now. Return Emiliano Marcondes to the line up. Stick Luke Daniels between the posts.

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I’m all for this on Saturday

Who knows what Thomas is thinking about there. Who’d be a head coach? For all we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and play-off zone consolidation has to be the immediate aim, that narrowing gap to the top makes for the most tempting prize. Like Indiana Jones reaching for the idol, would we unleash all manner of mayhem and chaos if we made a grab for it? For me, it has to be worth the gamble of naming a less familiar starting XI in the cup. 

I’ll still be 100% behind the Bees and screaming support but wouldn’t be anywhere near as disappointed as I was at Arsenal when we saw Dean Smith’s initial line up for that one last season. Then, the campaign was fresh with a wonderful chance to make a name for ourselves. Now, we’re knee deep in the blood of our Championship rivals and looking to take down more. That has to be where the resources are ploughed. Unless, of course, the players are fit enough for another stint of four games in fourteen days (at least, my fingers only go up to ten). Whomever is named, both games represent wonderful opportunities and I can’t wait.

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Alan Judge pulls one back against Arsenal

Elsewhere, I was listening to national station Absolute Radio yesterday morning. Specifically, the Dave Berry breakfast show where our eponymous host, co-host / Nottingham Forest supporter Matt Dyson, and sports anchor Glenn Moore were contacted by a listener. Brian Guest.

On hearing his name my ears pricked up. If memory serves, he may have once had a body of work published in the Fulham match day programme when The Bees came to visit. Getting one (or three) past the editor to reflect on some of their lesser moments whilst under the guise of supporting the home club. Or something like that.

Dave had asked listeners to sum up their weekend, but in just six words. It’s a regular part of the Monday show and it seems Brian is an avid listener. He got in touch to share the update, “Fulham had clappers. Why? Why? Why?”

It was a question which clearly nudged the boundaries of curiosity, and common sense, as the results are below. Enjoy. Unless you support Fulham……

Nick Bruzon  

The BIG questions answered by a very special guest as Brentford travel to Nottingham Forest…

5 Oct

Friday was an odd one. It was a day where all the weighty issues of the world were bouncing around my head. And that’s not a good place to be. For example… If one asteroid wiped out the dinosuars, why did the plethora of city-sized spaceships falling to earth at the end of the film Independence Day have no more inconvenient an effect than providing an invaluable cache of alien technology which was able to be reclaimed in time for the (unspeakable) sequel?  Whose version of a song entitled C’est La Vie is the best? With all due respect to The Stereophonics, and bypassing the suggestion of Robbie Neville from a fan of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea that I work with, this can only be won by the best band to wear double denim since Status Quo. Of course, I mean B*Witched. Most telling of all though, was the question of who carries off smart-casual knitwear the best? Nottingham Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi or Brentford head coach Thomas Frank. It is a question we may well be able to answer at the City Ground on Saturday afternoon.

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Great dress sense AND great music

The reason this particular thought had been turning over was c/o of today’s guest, Nottingham Forest fan and Absolute Radio DJ Matt Dyson.

Regular readers – should such a concept exist – will be aware that we’ve got the radio on in our kitchen. A lot. Combined with the unsocial hours kept by yours truly to churn this nonsense out, the radio is tuned to Absolute pretty much permanently.

It is something that has already reaped benefits, of sorts, when Christian O’Connell was able to finally put the question – Is Cameron Diaz a Brentford fan? – direct to the horse’s mouth. The result was categoric. Some might say catastrophic. Albeit one loaded with potential (you can find that here) although Cameron, if you are reading (you aren’t) or your legal people get hold of this,  I’m not for one second suggesting you look like a horse. That said, the clock IS ticking on your chance to visit Griffin Park. Get yourself over. I have it on good authority there is a permanent seat reserved for you.

We digress. As ever.  The co-host of the Dave Berry Breakfast show on 105.8 FM and DAB digital (apparently) is a long-time fan and very vocal supporter of The Tricky Trees. The highs and lows at The City Ground are a regular topic of discussion in the morning, aswell as on the weekend’s Rock N Roll Football along with fellow Forest fan Matt Forde.

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Matt Dyson – right. Co-host at breakfast wit Dave Berry

As such, who better to ask for his opinion on today’s opponents for a Brentford side very much looking to bounce back from what we will diplomatically describe as our ‘tactical meltdown’ in the last few minutes on Wednesday night? With his team flying high and his talk of Lamouchi playing havoc with my thought process, here’s our Q&A with Matt…..

Ten games in and the fledgling table is now deemed to have ’taken shape’. Nottingham Forest are two points off the top in fourth place (effectively third given Leeds United will start their annual choke at some point).  What’s happened at The City Ground?  Well, having changed our manager (and then the entire squad come the transfer window) every six months for what seems like the past decade, we’ve finally stumbled upon a good one! Sabri Lamouchi has effortlessly adapted to the Championship and he has instilled a great sense of confidence into the squad and an ability to play attractive attacking football.  Happy days.

Recent seasons have told us to expect mid-table at best. Can you hold your position? Until our incredibly brief stint at the top of the table towards the end of last month, we hadn’t reached the summit for 5 years.  That was when the legend Stuart Pearce was in charge. And while, at the time, we expected that form to tip (as tended to happen with Psycho’s teams after the honeymoon period ended) I’m not getting the same feeling this time around. I don’t want to curse us, but we look like ‘the real deal’ this season. We’re grinding out away draws even when we don’t deserve them. The players seem super confident.

What price Lewis Grabban? Brentford infamously game him away on a free a few season back , only to see his value increase with just about every subsequent move. What is he worth to you now ? He’s invaluable – the only thing that could seriously derail our season at this point is Lewis getting injured. He’s a wispy bearded behemoth of a striker. Grabbing goals left, right and centre. Brentford’s crazy loss was eventually our gain.

Who are the Nottingham Forest danger men? The aforementioned Grabban, the excellent left footed wing wizard, Joe Lolley (there literally ain’t no body like him) and the tiny Portuguese prince, Joao Carvalho.  But, in my opinion, our new sense of confidence stems from the back. The partnership of Michael Dawson (Forest past) and Joe Worrall (Forest future) had been an option for previous managers but they had other ideas. This blend of youth and experience is the backbone of Sabri’s red and white army.

Ahh, yes. Sabri Lamouchi. Is there a more wonderfully named manager in English football? What does he bring to Nottingham Forest that previous incumbents of the City Ground hot seat have struggled to do? Like I’ve said, he’s instilled confidence, made good signings and seems like our coolest manager since Cloughie. He rocks turtleneck knitwear in an effortlessly stylish way.

Brentford v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Griffin Park

Who will win today’s battle of C&A?

Tottenham got thumped 7(seven)- 2 during the week in the UCL. What is the correct use of brackets to reflect this. 7 (seven), 7 (Seven) or 7(SEVEN)? (SEVEN)

Author’s note: one can only presume Matt has not fully understood the question. As we all know, the correct answer should be 7(seven). Shouldn’t it? Can’t just be me….

The League Cup. You slipped up by the odd-ish goal in five at Arsenal, a similar fate to the one we suffered last season. Is there any point in this anymore, though? The League Cup, rather than Arsenal. Or should we just put it out of its misery?  We’ve done very well in the competition in the past, so I don’t want to ditch it. Those glorious trips to Wembley in my youth, for a cup final sponsored by a catalogue shop or an electrical goods rental store, were priceless. But if teams are going to play their reserves in the early rounds they should tell fans in advance. Going straight to pens after a draw is a step in the right direction, but a reserve team tournament is of no interest to anyone.

The big game….

I’m heading up by train and fancy downloading a movie. Which is the greatest football film ever made? Escape to Victory – John Wark’s inexplicable time to shine on the silver screen.

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We can win this….. Stallone and Wark stand shoulder to shoulder. Amazing !

Curses. My Netflix subscription has run out. I’ll make do with a podcast. Which episode of the Dave Berry breakfast show from 2019 should I listen to? Just subscribe and get all of them. Or listen live on Absolute Radio and pick which decade’s music you want to go with it. It’s ground breaking technology, so take advantage of it. Or listen to the Gameweek fantasy football podcast (which I do with my old mate Dan Prior) if you indulge in the anti-football stat-based weight around your neck that is the Fantasy Premier League. The Rock N Roll Football podcast with me and Matt Forde is also worth a listen.

Are you a Hooters man? Or is there another pub you can recommend to us travelling fans?  I used to frequent it occasionally. It’s just a family restaurant with a slightly saucy mystique. If you like being served chicken wings by women in Lycra head there.   But I think all away fans should be forced to drink in that soulless crappy looking pub at Meadow Lane (home of Notts County).  The Broken Wheelbarrow is built into the ground and looks like a hideous new build social club. Please try it and give it a rating on trip adviser

Finally, who’s going to win this one and what’s the score going to be? We should edge it 3-1. Sorry.

Thank you Matt. Very much appreciated, even if you are wrong about brackets. Regardless, this has all the elements of a cracker today. With man-to-watch Dawson, missing through injury does this give Brentford hope or will Grabban come back to haunt us? Roll on 3pm when we find out.

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. Perhaps in The Broken Wheelbarrow….

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Nick Bruzon   

The jewels remain still gleaming, for now. Which England will we get? Which Billy will we get?

11 Jul

Could today be THE big one? The one we’ve all been waiting for? And for clarity, I don’t mean if we find out whether the Birmingham City transfer embargo story is confirmed. Likewise, what the next instalment of Peter Gilhams’s Brentford tour diary contains (the most recent edition is up, here). Of course, there’s nothing but talk of the World Cup and whether England can reach a first final since West Ham fans claim to have won the tournament back in 1966. In their way, Croatia. Already there, a France team who played out a quite thrilling semi-final with Belgium last night before running out 1-0 winners.

This is going to be something very special. Pub tables are booked and plans made for the evening. It’s 6.30am and already I’m hearing nothing but football as the lead story on the radio whilst the music is being interspersed with snippets of commentary. Roll With It – Jonathan Pearce remix? If you were listening to Matt Dyson and Dave Berry on Absolute radio early doors then that’s what you got. The phrase ‘Football’s coming home’ is everywhere. But will it? 

Well, whatever happens , let’s not forget Croatia have just as much right to be there as England. Will believe they have just as great an opportunity of taking on France in the final. If nothing else, they deserve huge praise just for having the balls to pose for ‘that’ page in the Panini sticker book. Presumably, the result of having lost some form of bet. Please, tell me this is the result of having lost some form of bet….  

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Croatia – first class action in the sticker book.

Then there’s the so-called ‘Curse of ITV’. With England having recorded only a second ever ‘Light channel’ World Cup win since 1998 following victory over Colombia in the second round, is that jinx broken? Or could the spectre of Glenn Hoddle still lean over Gareth Southgate’s team like some nonsense spouting harbinger of doom?

No chance. England are too strong. The mood too positive. The ‘lucky’ table in the pub already secured. England reaching the final is as likely as Billy The Bee appearing in front of a TV camera at some point during tonight’s proceedings. Hopefully face set to ‘ecstatic grin’ rather than’ groan of despair.’  One can’t knock his enthusiasm and passion for both football and England. His magnetic attraction to TV cameras. Those facial gymnastics are an incredible thing – does he have to practice in the bathroom mirror?

In all seriousness, how great to see a familiar Brentford face out there so often. Spreading good cheer and positivity. Helping us tick off our World Cup bingo cards each game. With Denmark’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford having finally departed the tournament after his own magnificent run, great work Billy on keeping us in the public eye.

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Which Billy will we get tonight?

Yet getting back to tonight’s game, the positivity aside will fatigue play a part in England’s favour? Whether physical or mental? Croatia have seen their last two games go all the way to extra time and then penalties. Whilst the prize at stake is a huge one, could they already be on the back foot? The margins between winning and losing are going to be infinitesimally small tonight and this may be one factor to England’s advantage.

Then again, we all expected Saturday against Sweden to be cagey yet once Harry Maguire opened the scoring the game really was one-way traffic. Even when the opposition did get in on goal, there was Jordan Pickford to keep them at bay.

I guess that all this goes to say is whilst I’m backing England, ultimately nobody can make an accurate prediction. In a tournament that has seen the likes of Germany and Argentina humbled, Spain go down in the second round and Brazil in the quarters – take nothing for granted. No one team has a divine right to win it. No one team can guarantee getting there. Obvious, perhaps, but this really is wide open. Whomever doesn’t lift that trophy will never have had a better chance to do so,  

For now, the jewels remain still gleaming. As somebody almost sang. England are alive. But so are France and Croatia. The only thing you can say for sure is that at the end of the day (Clive), a tournament that has done nothing but captivate and surprise is sure to still have a few tricks up her sleeve. And I cannot wait to find out what they are.

Roll on 7(seven) pm.

Nick Bruzon