Tag Archives: Des Walker

When push comes to shove – The Last Word on….

26 Aug

Brentford host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and so, as part of the big match build up, we’ll move on from talk of Alan Judge to Newcastle United and look at our next opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and today Wednesday are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Without the benefit of any super computer, I’m having to rely on my somewhat scattergun knowledge for this category. That, certainly, something which accounts for Stan Bowles missing out last time in the Nottingham Forest article. Sorry, Stan. And whilst I’m sure that similar gaps will appear this time around, a few names do spring immediately to mind.

There’s Deon Burton, whose time at the Bees included that epic season under Martin Allen in 2004/05 where his goals in a 2-1 win and 3-3 draw with Wednesday helped us towards an eventual play-off semi final place…..

How about his teammate Michael Turner? One of the classiest centre backs to ever grace Griffin Park and somebody who was last seen at the Owls during the previous campaign whilst on loan from Norwich City.

But the choice of standout name boils down to one of two Andys. Sinton was THE man at Griffin Park back in the late 80s. Back to back supporters player of the year in 86/87 and 87/88 he was an almost constant feature in his three seasons. Attacking play and goals were the order of the day as his form played a key role in our epic 88/89 FA Cup run the that would eventually end at Liverpool in the quarter finals. A transfer to QPR would follow where international recognition (12 England caps) and his move to Sheffield Wednesday came next. One of the all time Brentford legends.

But, for me, when you mention Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday there is one name that always strings to mind  – Andy McCulloch. 48 goals in 127 league games for the Bees from 76- 79 were match by an almost identical record at Hillsborough where he notched 44 in 125 following his transfer.

And it is that transfer which, in Andy’s own words, is one of the more unusual in the annals of football history footballing

It was a classic. I scored a header at Griffin Park and had my nose broken. I was on a stretcher, going into the dressing room and Ian St. John, who was at Sheffield Wednesday, pointed to me as I’m going in the door and said , “would you fancy coming to Sheffield Wednesday?” At Brentford –after I had just scored a goal. He tapped me up!

The deal was completed on the camera gantry  at Wembley stadium with their manager Jack Charlton. Andy explaining , “It was before a Scotland-England game, I think . I’d gone up there just to meet Jackie. It was the only way of meeting him in London.”

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees). Our return to the Championship hasn’t seen great results. Last season, in particular, seeing us lucky to escape from Hillsborough having only gone down 4-0 after Yoann Barbet was shown the red card just five minutes into the game.

Instead, we’ll look at the aforementioned 2005/05campaign under Martin Allen. Again, the result was an equally painful one but, for a time, the prospect of playing Wednesday was nothing but the ultimate in excitement.

Having already seen a wonderful FA Cup campaign that finally saw us go out in a fifth round replay to Premier League Southampton, knockout football held no worries. And so we approached our play-off semi final with Wednesday in high spirits. A 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough soon took the wind out of those sails with the home team taking the lead on 12 minutes and never giving us a look in.

The return match at Griffin Park saw the Bees go down 2-1. Even then, Andy Frampton’s goal was nothing more than a very late consolation. Hardly a highlight in our history but one noted to remind us of the pain suffered in this end of season lottery. Moreso, given the hope that one day we will get it right. One day….

Favourite son  (their most famous former player ). The 80s and early 90s were, in particular, a time where the name Sheffield Wednesday evoked nothing but the best imagery. Mr Tom was on their shirt whilst the likes of Lee Chapman and the free scoring David Hirst were on the pitch. To that mix you can add Des Walker (who, of course, featured in this category last time out for Nottingham Forest and Chris Waddle although the latter was sadly bereft of ‘that’ mullet by this point.

From the more recent era, two names spring to mind for the neutral.  Benito Carbone channeled the spirit of Chris Waddle with exciting play, long, long hair and even his iconic ‘Alice band’. Yet it was another Italian who scoops the honours this time around.  Paolo Di Canio.

The club’s top scorer in 1997-98 and a firm fan favourite (apologies for the sub-Chronicle alliteration) he won their player of the year award that season. However, it was the following campaign that secured his cult status when he received an 11 match ban for pushing referee Paul Alcock over during a match against Arsenal.

Nobody could deny it was a flash of unjustifiable temper from the temperamental genius. Yet, at the same time, Alcock’s comedy pratfall certainly added to the seriousness with which the incident would be viewed

And the oscar for best fallover following a shove goes to…

Famous fan. Fast becoming a personal favourite category in this feature, Sheffield Wednesday don’t let us down when it comes to their celebrity supporters.

The biggest names here would seem to be the Arctic Monkeys – all of them, apparently. A fact further emphasised by the fact you normally see them described as ‘Sheffield band….’

Cricket’s Michael Vaughan and former England captain is also an Owl as is, of  all people, singer Jermaine Jackson. The one time Jackson 5 star supposedly began following the club in the late 80s and even wrote a song for last campaign’s play-off defeat to Hull City AFC.

Yet it wouldn’t be The Last Word without mentioning ‘That band’ . If not celebrities, they are certainly recognised faces.

Their moribund parping and off-key trumpeting, so long the bane of England international fixtures, also features at Hillsborough. Flaccid renditions of ’Love will tear us apart’ or their jingoistic movie medley “The Great Escape/Italian job’ being the last thing anybody outside of this self-appointed ‘supporters band’ wants to hear.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

That band. With Trevor Francis (inset)

Best Ever League Performance. In terms of pure scoreline, a simple one this week. Any excuse to crank out the brackets and a 9-1 victory over Birmingham City at Hillsborough back in December 1930 saw the Owls easily cruise past the 7(seven) goal mark

Moment of ignominy – ( what it says – opposite to above). I could pick ‘that band’ but we’re bigger than that.

Likewise, in terms of pure results then going back over a century to October 1912 saw Wednesday go down 10-1 at Aston Villa. In recent years, Villa have struggled to score 10 goals in an entire season let alone in one game

But the turn of this century saw them go on an eight game First Division (second tier) losing streak that lasted over a month: 9 September until 17 October saw their form guide read: LLLLLLLL. Beginning with a 0-5 home humping at the hands of Wimbledon, a Steve Harkness goal finally brought this dismal run to an end with a 1-0 win over Birmingham. Incredibly, they stayed up.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Howard Wilkinson ? Big Ron? Erm. Move along, nothing to see here. Whilst the purist will likely go for Wilkinson, for me  you can’t knock the achievements of Trevor Francis.

Taking over as player-manager with the team back in the top flight, he lead them to third place in the league in 1992 and, with it, a hard-earned UEFA cup place. There was no entry to the league of fake Champions for coming third or fourth then.

His Wednesday team then took part in the first ever Premier League where they came 7th (seventh). However, the season was as notable for a double Wembley appearance where they reached the finals of bot the League and FA cup.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). First division champions in the ‘20s. The wonder years under Francis. Wednesday even won the League cup through the wisdom and guidance of Big Ron. Yet, for me all this pails into insignificance compared to the greatest thing not to come out of Sheffield.

That band doesn’t travel.

Nick Bruzon

A tale of three Pauls and one Psycho. The Last Word on….

16 Aug

Brentford host Nottingham Forest tonight. With round 3 of Championship action  upon us, all being well we can divert ourselves from gantry based chat long enough to look at tonight’s opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and tonight Forest are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

Brentford Forest

Brentford take on Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park tonight

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Very much a tale of three Pauls, here . Our first being the goalkeeping legend that is Paul Smith. One of the finest players between the sticks in modern times, he turned out over 100 times for the Bees after signing from Carshalton back in 2000. A move to Southampton to help the club out of a financial hole would eventually follow in 2004 before he found himself at the City Ground.   Last seen at Griffin Park back in January 2013 where his single handed heroics almost stopped the Bees progressing past Southend United and an FA Cup fourth round tie with Chelsea

Next up, Paul Evans. Much like last week’s pick, Jay Tabb, part of my all time Brentford XI based on those I’ve seen play on a regular basis (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett) .

What can you say beyond “Evans. From the half way line.” Not once but twice. In successive games . What a pair of net busters and what a player. 34 goals from midfield in 157 games, along with a cap for Wales , tells its own story of a wonderful career at Griffin Park.

Like so many, his time came to an end after ‘that’ play off final against Stoke City. Move along please, nothing to talk about there.

The picture quality is awful; the technique wonderful

However, our winner is not so much a player as a caretaker manager, in Paul Williams. The one time Brentford logistics manager taking up the role of assistant to head coach Lee Carsley back in October of last year.  Paul was famously honoured by Lee when the winners of October’s manager of the month aware were announced, with Carsley saying “Every decision I have taken in the past month has been made between myself and my assistant Paul Williams.If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month

December saw a parting of the ways, however, with Paul taking the opportunity to become first team coach at Nottingham Forest and even caretaker manager for the last couple of months of the season. That was long enough to keep them up although, in a result that left Paul “really disappointed” his knowledge of the Bees was insufficient to stop us recording a 3-0 away win.

The Brentford encounter ( noteworthy game with the Bees). We’re going back almost 35 years but have picked our 1982 League cup fourth round tie. Incredibly, the furthest we’ve reached in the competition (and last week’s result at Exeter City isn’t helping that record any) it saw the Bees facing a game against Brian Clough’s best team in Europe.

Brentford were expected to be on the end of a good hiding and, whilst we eventually succumbed 2-0, Paddy Roche  made sure it was a lot closer than the pre-match predictions would have had you believe. Talking to the Bees goalkeeper about this game a few years ago, he noted the expectation levels that had been present in the home side and the reason these weren’t met “They were a top side then and we gave them a good run. That is one of the best memories of my career, probably. Gary Birtles was playing at Forest for the match that night and I’d been with him at Manchester United. He came in and told me after the game that Brian Clough had said to the Forest players “The reason you didn’t win six or seven nothing was because you played against the best ‘keeper you been up against all season”.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player). This is where it gets interesting. Million pound man Trevor Francis? That colossus of a centre back Des Walker, whose Nottingham Forest career encompassed 20 years and two spell from 1984 to 2004? What about pineapple coiffeured Jason Lee or the man whose goal sealed the 1980 European cup final, John Robertson?

However, for most neutrals there is one name synonymous with Nottingham Forest on the playing front and that, of course, is Stuart Pearce. A three time player of the year, this tough tackling full back was dubbed ’Psycho’ for good reason with a reputation, and an ability, that preceded him.

A first choice on any team sheet (club or country), how the national team must wish they had his like available for selection once more. With over 500 appearances for Forest under his belt, he was the epitome of the man who gave his all when on the pitch.

Stuart Pearce of England celebrates after scoring his penalty

Stuart Pearce – an iconic image

Famous fan. Nottingham Forest are very well served in this category. Those with a musical yearning can look to James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice. Then there are the likes of Stuart Broad or golfer Lee Westwood from the world of sport.

And of course, those with an ear to the radio will know that Absolute Radio breakfast show news reader Matt Dyson is an ardent Forest fan.

But the pairing I’d love to see in the director’s box are better known from our screens. Jason Statham is to acting what Stuart Pearce was to tackling. Just don’t mess, walk away, nothing to see here. I love his films. There’s no subtly and that’s just fine. Sit back, switch off and enjoy.

Then, you have the anti-Stath. Su Pollard. Best known, of course, for playing over-enthusiastic chalet maid Peggy on Hi-De-Hi (kids, ask your parents) if ever you had the polar opposite to the man who played Chev Chelios (Crank) and Frank Martin(The Transporter), amongst others, then here you go.

550w_icons_su_pollard_3

Peggy. The anti-Stath

 

Best Ever League Performance. Not so much a game as a streak. Forget Arsenal and their so called invincibles (please, just forget Arsenal) on 26 November 1977 the club embarked on 42 match unbeaten run with a 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion . It was a run that lasted over an entire year before eventually coming to an end in December 1978. This, not before their final result in the streak, a 1-0 win over Bolton, set a record that would last for over two decades .

Moment of ignominy (what it says – opposite to above) Relegation from the Premier League in 1993. I take no pleasure form those words, either. Brian Clough subsequently retired and a team who, as somebody growing up watching football had been one of THE names to both respect and fear, had seen a golden era finally one to an end.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Can most neutrals even name another Nottingham Forest manager? It can only be Brian Clough.

You could write book on the man who managed Nottingham Forest from 1975-1993. And many have tried. So how do you pay justice to one of the most charismatic managers in football history in one paragraph?  The simple answer being that you can’t.

With the charisma also came success. He took an unfancied team all the way to the league title, numerous trophies and back to back European cup wins. Always seen as very much anti-establishment but the suits at the FA, what would have happened had he been given a chance to run the national team?

An absolute legend and one who is very sadly missed.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). For a club to win one European Cup is an incredible achievement. Moreso one who had, seemingly, come from nowhere in just a few short seasons as Nottingham Forest did when they triumphed over Malmo. Yet to repeat that feat just 12 months later, this time Hamburger SV being the victims, is simply stunning.

Interestingly, despite the huge standout of that silverware and the titles, Brian Clough is noted as seeing that unbeaten 42 streak as his greatest achievement. And who am I to argue?

Nick Bruzon

All about family as Bees live to fight another day against Forest

7 Apr

Brentford kept their play off chances very much alive after Jota’s last minute (when else?) header rescued an unlikely seeming point against Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park. And although Wolves managed a similarly timed winner to end up on top by the odd goal in 7 (seven) against Leeds United in the evening game, thus leapfrogging the Bees in the table, with just five games to go destiny is very much in our own hands.

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.

View form the terrace - Jota shows his urgency as the clock ticks down

View from the terrace – Jota shows his urgency as the clock ticks down

Faster than a speeding bullet - the Spanish superman embarks on his high sped solo celebration

Faster than a speeding bullet – the Spanish superman embarks on his high speed solo celebration

Jota puts a smile on the face of Family Bruzon at 2-2

Jota puts a smile on the face of Family Bruzon at 2-2