Tag Archives: David Stockdale

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

20 Feb

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

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Alan Judge doing his thing once more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Emiliano impressed late on

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

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

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

All together now – Brentford official seize the moment. Beautifully

Nick Bruzon

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Brilliant Bees have their chips stolen by Seagulls. But what a game and what a goal!

5 Feb

Is it wrong to walk out of that game feeling totally crushed? If ever there was a rollercoaster ride of footballing emotion then here it was as Brighton left Griffin Park with a point that looked anything but expected for huge periods of this game. That it ended 3-3 was beyond most people’s comprehension with the clock showing 94 minutes played and the score at 2-2.

Anybody who wasn’t here missed one of the games of the season. Anybody who wasn’t here missed one of THE goals of the season as Konstantin Kerschbaumer’s late strike sent tidal waves of delirium cascading over Griffin Park with the Bees retaking a lead they’d held for all but the final 12 minutes of the game. It was a lead we held until all but the final 12 seconds of the game as Brighton broke Brentford hearts to snatch a late, late equaliser.

If you were there then you know what happened. If you weren’t then there’s the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. You all know the drill by now. We don’t do in-depth match reports here. I’ll leave that to the likes of Billy – Reeves and/or Grant. That said, whether you were or weren’t then do check out the highlights, which Sky TV have already put up on their website.

With barely twenty minute gone, the Bees had raced into a two goal lead. The first a back heel from Jota that was as delicious as a half time cup of Bovril. The second, a powerful header from Harlee Dean.

Reminiscent of Terry Evans” was the verdict for one terrace wag whilst discussing the opening period on the forecourt over a well deserved cup of the aforementioned meat extract drink. And yes, it was. Yet Big Tel wouldn’t have driven forward so purposefully for so long. With a two man central defence restored, Harlee has looked even bigger and better than before. Even charging forward on breakaway runs whilst leaving Ryan Woods to cover. He’s been magnificent.

The second half could have seen it all wrapped up. Another blitzkrieg raid from Jota saw a penalty earned. Lasse Vibe stepped up, only to see the diving Stockdale in the Brighton goal somehow get a hand to it and send the ball looping over the Ealing Road in a trajectory not seen on a dead ball since Miguel Llera lined up for the Bees.

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Jota all of a blur as he shredded Brighton

No matter, this one was still in the bag. Surely? Brentford had been simply magnificent up until this point. Whilst the penalty had, somehow, been saved another goal was only a matter of time. And sure enough, it came. To Brighton.

What? This wasn’t in the script. Moreso, when it was followed three minutes later by another. Shane Duffy (who I could have sworn was part of popular music’s Boyzone) headed home for 2-2.  Noooo. How could this happen? We should be 3-0 up. not pegged back to 2-2. Not on the ropes and reeling as only poor finishing and Daniel Bentley’s point blank save stopped the Seagulls from stealing all three points as though they were a tourist’s chips.

And then, it happened. With 7(seven) minutes on the board, most of those had elapsed when KK picked up a through ball from Alan McCormack just inside the Brighton half.

I repeat: KK picked up a through ball from Alan McCormack. Oh, how these two have been conspicuous by their absence yet coming off the bench they showed Dean Smith just what he had been missing out on all these months.

Like Forrest Gump (except quality entertainment) he ran. And ran. An exchange of passes with Lasse Vibe just outside the Brighton box was met with a crushing drive, low into the bottom corner past the despairing Stockdale.

Yeeeeessssssssss! The net rippled, there was the briefest of silences as we all registered what happened and then Griffin Park exploded. 9000 voices erupting as one in an outpouring of joy I haven’t heard the likes of at home since Jota did that thing against Fulham. In the last minute.

Oh, what a moment. Word cannot describe how that felt. Utter joy. Utter jubilation . Utterly deserved. 3-2 up. Three points in the bag. Even quality journalists such as the BBC, and also Ian Moose from Talksport,  had declared it as a win. All we had to do was run out the clock.

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KK is in there, somewhere

Yet Brighton are pushing Newcastle United neck and neck at the top of the Championship table for good reason. With the totally ineffectual Glenn Murray having been replaced, the Seagulls had finally looked like a team worthy of their lofty position. And with virtually the last play of the match, it was their fans who had their own moment of ecstasy. Tomer Hemed being the man to head home an equaliser that, if KK had provided the orgasmic denouement, was the equivalent of then being told “Its not you, its me”.

Brentford had been well and truly dumped.

Yes. I walked out of Griffin Park feeling crushed. But a bit of past match perspective is a wonderful thing. Two weeks ago we were a team who had struggled to put more than 20 minutes of pressure on our opponents. Now we’ve destroyed Aston Villa and, arguably, should have had another three points after making Brighton look like relegation fodder rather than title contenders for huge swathes of this game.

The new look formation and a couple of judicious changes have worked wonders. We’ve scored six goals in two games since the day Scott Hogan was sold to an Aston Villa side who remain behind us in the table. KK’s moment of brilliance is one I’ll never forget. As one Braemar Road observer would later reflect, “I think that Kersch goal is up in my all-time list that I’ve seen live.”

I wouldn’t disagree. Chin up lads, you were magnificent today. Again. Chin up Tom Field and Lasse Vibe. You were both wonderful and totally underserving of the respective tweets that you have been forced to post. Heckling your own players after this one? Feeling guilty about missing a spot kick?

Utter nonsense. I feel blessed to have watched that one today.

Chin up, Brentford. That was incredible.

Nick Bruzon 

What a game and what an omen after fine 2-0 win. Now bring on Villa.

11 Sep

Saturday afternoons don’t get much better than this. A great day on the road that saw Brentford climb up to 7th(seventh) place after a fine 2-0 win in Brighton. Whilst Newcastle United may have left us in eighth at close of play (their win in the late kick off with Derby County rendering that early season double defeat nothing more than a statistical anomaly, for now…) the important thing was an inspiring performance that saw the Bees reach 10 points. For the record, twice the amount we’d reached this time last season and the perfect tonic ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Aston Villa.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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These are stats I can get behind

 

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View from the Brighton away end – a soft focus (not blurred) second goal celebration.

 

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Was this a pre-match omen ? Must. Resist. Bees sting Seagulls. D’oh!

 

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Buzzette and Kinglsey – King and Queen of football mascots

Nick Bruzon

Bees left following the Seagulls as Brighton win TV clash. So what next?

6 Feb

Well, if anybody doesn’t think the business end of the season hasn’t already been and gone for Brentford then I’d happily meet them. I’m still desperate for us to do as well as we can but I’m also realistic. Last night’s 3-0 tonking by Brighton was (the first half particularly) pretty hard to swallow. Dean Smith’s post match comment 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” was, I suppose, obligatory but he’s not fooling anybody. Nice though the sentiment was, 1 win out of the last 7 (seven) and 5 out of the last 17 is nowhere near play-off form .

Brighton fully deserved their win. That’s it. Take nothing away from them despite what was a particularly off-key performance from the Bees. One shot on target all game tells its own tale whilst several players looked particularly sloppy.

Swift doing his drunk propeller impression again and Josh going rogue as the cross for the second goal was delivered (“he might aswell not be there” being the subsequent pundits view). Harlee might question himself over the first two whilst, but for the crossbar, he’d have skyed a goal line clearance into the back of the net. Even Sam looked off the pace in this one.

I could go on but we all know what happened. Given the calamitous off-field season we’ve had – three head coaches (technically four, given Lee Carsley retired after Forest only to come back for a one game second stint v Bolton); the pitch debacle; losing/selling the vast majority of the team that took us to fifth last season – to still be 10th in the Championship is a fantastic achievement from one respect.

But if wanting to build on last season’ performances and questioning the haemorraging of those that performed such miracles makes me a bad person (as certain fansites would seem to believe) then I can’t do anything about that.

You don’t need a match report- I can’t imagine there were many who weren’t there or didn’t see it on TV. As ever, Beesotted, the BBC and the club are the places to go.

That said, in the case of the ‘official site’ I’d question their assertion that “the scoreline may have been a little harsh on a Brentford team that dominated possession for long stages.” In football, holding on to the ball for 65% of the game counts for naff all if you can’t get more than one shot on target or put it in the back of the net. Certainly, Brighton managed it three times !

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‘Official’ Facebook tried to end it early, mid-game. Sadly, it finished 3-0

The other thing to remember is that regardless of whether we agree with the changes or methods being employed, this is our team. I’d still come along if we were in the Ryman Premier league.

Of paramount importance from this point in is how we perform over the coming months in preparation for next season. We have a lot of relatively new faces who are finding their feet and still bedding in. Some of those have really impressed early on; others have shown form in patches.

Which amongst those are going to be able to keep their places next campaign, vindicating the recruitment policies of Rasmus and Phil, and who will be deemed ‘a statistical experiment too far’ ?

Lewis Macleod finally appeared in a Brentford shirt whilst Sam Saunders (who up until last night had been on fire in recent weeks) has signed a year’s extension to his contract. The likes of Ryan Woods, Max Colin and Yoann Barbet have all shown their potential whilst Alan Judge is going to be a key man for somebody next season – hopefully the Bees.

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There was good news about Sam in the morning

I don’t subscribe to the ‘little old Brentford’ theory. Just because, outside of TW8, we’ve been nothing more than a blip on the football radar over the last sixty years doesn’t mean that now we’ve taken our place amongst the game’s bigger names we shouldn’t aspire to equal them or continue pushing ourselves. Big names and big reputations count for nothing. They certainly shouldn’t be feared. Just looks at QPR (4 points behind us) and Fulham ( 12 points adrift of the Bees).

We’re going to have good times and we’re going to have bad times. I’d love us to keep up with the high velocity progression but, equally, given what has happened over the summer there is an obvious need to consolidate. That’s what I thought we’d do with last season’s team – bolt on to that side and ‘go again’. Instead, it has been almost a complete rebuild and so to still be in 10th IS a huge achievement from that respect.

It may not always feel like it as we saw last night. The trick Matthew Benham’s people now face is that fine balancing act between starting afresh from the Championship and undoing what we’ve done these last few seasons. ‘The model’ is still very much being called into question by some whilst the success being achieved North of the border by Warbs is reminder of what we’ve achieved recently.

It isn’t going to get any easier. A trip to Sheffield Wednesday then home games against Derby and Wolves are next up for the Bees. Then again, I wouldn’t want it to get any easier. Testing ourselves against two teams pushing for the play offs and then the side that have been one of our main rivals in recent seasons is what it’s all about. Disappointing though last night was, the next game is only a week away. It certainly makes a change from playing the likes of Yeovil and Doncaster.

As a final thought – Keith Stroud. What can you say? He only made two bookings all night and that for Brighton ‘keeper David Stockdale seemed to confuse most of us. Even by his own whistle happy standards, there were a mere 24 fouls called.

This stat, amongst all, is the one most Brentford fans (goals aside) were interested in. Kitman Bob giving away three, yes three, pairs of player boots for whoever called that number correctly. My own 31 being somewhat off the pace as Keith had a relatively restrained game.

At least, by his standards.

Nick Bruzon

We’re off to Reading as Liverpool loanee extends his, erm, loan

28 Dec

Brentford travel to Reading today, no doubt keen to keep pace with the play-off sides but, as much, demonstrate how far we’ve come since the Royals visited Griffin Park back in August. Four games into the season, and the first match on our relaid pitch, the Bees lost out 3-1. It was a ‘performance’ analysed after the game by then Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen saying, “Today the first half was, I think, awful from our side. The second half was not brilliant.”

That was then and, four months later, things have definitely changed for the Bees. Dean Smith, following on from Lee Carsley, has not only steadied the good ship Brentford but now has her making up for lost time and steaming towards the top 6.

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Dean Smith – great progress

If anything, roles have now been reversed. Reading have lost 6 of their last 8 games and even the return of Brian McDermott as manager was insufficient to stop them going down at Wolves, last time out. But, as ever, don’t take anything for granted. This could well be a tough one for the Bees given they’ll be up against a team sure to try and impress a large crowd in front of the new man.

Last time out we held Brighton 0-0 in a game that saw the Bees start slowly before stepping it up in the second half, only to then be denied by the heroics of David Stockdale when we were able to get a shot in. One would hope that starting this one like we finished on Boxing Day will be the way forward.

At the risk of jinxing it, I’m going into this one full of confidence. Brentford have everything in them to win it, IF we play as we can. And with the likes of Jota and Sam Saunders on the bench, Dean Smith has plenty of extra attacking options at his disposal.Then again, with Keith Stroud in charge who knows what might happen….

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Keith Stroud – a busy little man

I’d suspect that Max Colin over Nico Yennaris will be the key decision for Dean Smith to make. I thought Nico had a great game against Brighton, having lost out to the returning Colin for the 4-2 humping of Huddersfield. There’s no doubting the class of the Frenchman but will Dean show loyalty to Nico, much as he did when Jack O’Connell kept his place over Harlee for the Cardiff City game?

It’s a tough call and the decision may be made for him, depending on the state of Max’s groin. But if both players are fit – which way will he go? My guess is that with a glut of games coming up, any injury risk will need to be minimised and so Nico will keep his place, regardless of how well he has done. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace so what do I know?

Off-field, there was great news yesterday with the announcement that Sergi Canós has extended his loan from Liverpool until the end of the season. Nobody could doubt the excitement or ability of the young Spaniard who has nailed down a starting place in recent weeks as his fitness has cranked up.

Sergi really is a prodigious talent and securing his services for the rest of this campaign can only be a good thing for the club. Here’s to seeing him in action today although I fear I may have breached some form of contractual obligation by failing to use the term ‘starlet’, so beloved of our local press (prefacing with Liverpool is optional).

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Sergi Canos – the ‘signing shirt’ has had good use

There was a further boost with the news that striker Marco Djuricin is back in training. We’ve had a horrendous run of injuries this season and whilst most are now cleared up, the news that we have a potential return to fitness of a centre forward is only great news. That Alan Judge is our top scorer so far this season is as much down to his own ability as the changes we’ve gone through ‘up top’.

Then again, Judge is a class apart divisionally aswell as at Brentford. Championship top scorer Andre Gray (I’m sure I’ve heard that name somewhere) at Burnley is only two ahead of Alan – on 12 to his 10. Either way, the imminent (one hopes) return of Djuricin along with the extension of Canos only bode well.

For now, though, it’s all about Reading. With 2,400 away tickets sold in advance and more available on the day, it promises to be a huge crowd and a great atmosphere.

See you there.

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More good news for Bees fans, from Twitter

Nick Bruzon

Sheer Bliss for Brentford on Boxing Day

27 Dec

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to trot out some Chronicle style 80’s alliteration but the occasion of yesterday’s visit of Brighton was one that also saw Bees legend Gary Blissett, finally, inducted into the Brentford hall of fame. We’ll get to Bliss shortly but can only begin with a draw 0-0 between the Bees and the Seagulls that we can, perhaps, count ourselves unlucky not to have won.

David Stockdale in the Brighton goal pulled off a number of second half saves to kept the scores level as the game opened up a bit. The Brentford midfield looked a tad flatter than normal as clean sheets and snuffing out the opposition seemed the first order of the day. That said, Alan Judge was once more the standout man from that area when the Bees did take the game forward, as a series of second half chances were carved out only for Stockdale to keep Brighton in it.

The first from Judge saw the Irishman (surely a ‘shoe-in’ for Euro 2016 on this form) cut in from the wing and unleash a ferocious drive which the ‘keeper was able to parry over. Next up, the would be poacher turned would be provider, setting up Tarkowski for a header and certain goal. Again, the athletic Stockdale had to be at his best diving full stretch to guide it around the post with a stunning save.

Indeed, Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box would go one better and describe it as “Phenomenal“. Certainly, subsequent review of the  highlights pay testament to the true quality of the save. Finally it was Judge once more, from distance, forcing the Brighton shot stopper to dive to his left and tip away for another Bees corner.

Three great stops that, perhaps, denied three points for Brentford. However, we were ultimately the architects of our own result. Philipp Hofmann had the best chance of all, earning space in the box to get himself on the end of a Tarkowski cross with the goal begging and just Stockdale to beat. From six yards out.

This time, sadly, the save was anything but world class and that’s no disrespect to Brighton. With the whole of the target to aim at , the big German guided his header straight down Stockdale’s throat for a comfortable catch. And with that, scores remained at 0-0.

“He could have been the hero”. Not my words but those of Mark Burridge.

Full credit to Brighton. They closed us out and made chances few and far between. Likewise, a point against the long term league leaders is no bad thing whatsoever when, but for a bit more luck in front of goal (or a different ‘keeper), we may well have taken the win.

But there you go. Such are the margins in football and, perhaps, somewhat telling that this was the day we welcomed Gary Blissett into the Brentford ‘hall of fame’ at half time. His absence from this institution has been somewhat of an enigma but great to see if finally remedied.

Gary’s record speaks for itself and he remains a hero to Brentford fans of a certain age. Over six years from 1987 to 1993 he terrorised defences across the old third, and for one brief season, first divisions (what we know today as the Championship) . Notching 105 goals in 291 games (a strike rate of better than 1 in 3) alongside a variety of partners – most notably Richard Cadette and Dean Holdsworth – his FA Cup goals against Manchester City and Blackburn are the stuff of legend whilst the promotion clincher in the 1-0 victory at Peterborough has earned him a place in Brentford folklore.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 in the FA Cup v his beloved Manchester City

His performance in ’92-’93, where as an ever present his goals almost kept us in the old first division, demands equal recognition. If for no other reason than he’d seen Dean Holdsworth replaced with Murray Jones (think of a twentieth century Nick Proschwitz – nobody could fault the effort but, sadly the end product was somewhat lacking).

It wasn’t just as a goalscorer that Bliss made his name. He was also emergency goalkeeper – making his debut half way through a Championship game at home to Southend United in 1992 whilst Ashley Bayes shouted directions from behind the goal. Direction that Bliss ignored in a game that saw our first league win of that campaign.

His sale in 1993 , with relegation back to the third tier of English football confirmed, was an inevitable one but his reputation at Griffin Park has never diminished. Even close to a quarter-century later,  he remains as much a hero to supporters – this one specifically – as he did in his playing days.

Congratulations, Gary. Thoroughly well deserved.

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

As a final thought, here’s a statistical question. When was the last time we played successive games against teams in day-glo yellow? Following the previous game at home to Huddersfield Town, Brighton turned out in an equally lurid yellow design that was easier to see than the stewards.

Despite what looked like a sell out away crowd, I counted less than three dozen on display amongst supporters – and they were easy to spot from 100 yards away.

I have no idea what Mark Devlin and kitman Bob have lined up for next season, if they even know as yet, but from this kit obsessive here’s a suggestion – perhaps neon isn’t the best look !

Black might be good (hint, hint).

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Neon yellow – not a great look

Nick Bruzon