Tag Archives: DJ

That Sky One Harchester United thing. Dear Sky TV, Andy Ansah, Richie et al….

3 May

These pages usually talk about Brentford FC but, occasionally, we look further afield than Griffin Park. Today is just one of those. It is a time when we need to look back to look forward. And also ask the question – is it time for a footballing renaissance?

That Sky One Harchester United thing”. Not my words but those of Absolute Radio DJ Richie Firth, talking on Wednesday morning’s Christian O’Connell Breakfast show. Regular readers may well be aware of, amongst other things, the show’s role in resolving the Cameron Diaz / Brentford story (something which, for the record, our own club commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge also had a hand in at one point).

But this was not a discussion about celebrity fans (or lack of). Instead, it was talk of actor Ricky Whittle and his current role in TV series American Gods. The actor, who has also appeared in Hollyoaks and on Strictly Dancing, is probably best known for playing Ryan Naysmith on what Richie had called That Sky One Harchester United thing. Or, of course, Dream Team.

Ahh, Dream Team. Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club Harchester United. Combining real life stadia and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Bee’s boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee (and member of our ‘top ten moustaches‘ club), Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

andy ansah moustache

Ansah – wonderful Tekkers

I caught up with Andy a few years ago whilst writing a ‘Where Are They Now’ article for the Griffin Park match day programme. It goes without saying that the main topic of conversation was this wonderful, wonderful show. It was a truly privileged behind the scenes insight (and you can read more below) but, if I’m being equally honest, since finishing in 2007 the show has slipped from most people’s memory.

But then Wednesday saw Richie do his thing, even taking to Twitter where he noted, “Everytime I pass the Dragon’s Lair on the train at Millwall I get misty eyed. Bring it back @sky1”

Boom. Quicker than you could say Karl Fletcher, Lynda Block or Luis Amor-Rodriguez (think of a low budget Jota) the memories came flooding back.

Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

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L-R, John Black, Luis Amor-Rodriguez, Karl ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, Sean Hocknell

It wasn’t just me. Pick of the highlights to subsequently flood Twitter was that of @JohnDryden1 who noted: Lawlor in goal? That must of been after Jamie Parker held his team mates at gun point in the changing room.

As you do.

But now, ten years on, is it time to bring back Dream Team? Does Richie, a one time self-proclaimed soothsayer of scores, have his finger on the footballing pulse once again?
Would people watch it ? Yes, yes and yes have to be the answers to all three questions.

Sky 1, if you are reading (you probably aren’t ) how about it? Natalie Sawyer, any chance you could have a word with the bosses?  Andy Ansah (again, probably not reading), if anybody has the contacts it must be you?

With Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and a new stadium on the horizon in Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harcehster? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ?

If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

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Andy dons the monogrammed tracksuit in his Harchester United days

And if anybody was in any doubt about the love for the show, this is what Andy Ansah himself had to say about it in that aforementioned interview:

Having finally retired from playing, all of a sudden Andy appeared on Sky one’s football based ‘drama’ series, Dream Team, playing himself at fictional club ‘Harchester United.’ A guilty pleasure for many viewers, myself included, but for all the wrong reasons! Wooden dialogue, outrageous plots and, as Andy himself offers, “The Lynda Blocks of this world”, its combination of beautiful women and real match action made it compulsive viewing for close to ten years. So how did he go from footballer to actor?

“I went to a Take That concert at Wembley, believe it or not. I made my decision then that I was going to retire from football. I met two people there and I said, ‘What do you do ?’ “ Oh, we do ‘extras’ work?” They were stand in doubles.

I thought that sounded interesting because I’d always liked acting and I love my films. Some friends of mine were on Dream Team doing the footballing extras although they were a lot younger than me. So I thought, ‘ok’, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stop playing pro-football, play a bit of part time, join ‘Dream Team’ and learn how to be an actor.

Subsequently, I joined as one of the football extras but because I was older than everyone else, I was thirty then whereas they were nineteen/twenty, I used to spend all my time with the directors and producers who were the same age. They used to ask questions about football all the time – how would we do this or that? I found myself directing the football for them and then within a year they made me the producer of football on Dream Team. It was crazy!”

Alongside the move to producer came a step up from ‘extra’ to acting role aswell, portraying the club’s assistant coach, Andy Ansah (!!) This also meant a few lines per show, with regular Ansah gems including takes on , “All right, you lot ! Get out on the field and warm up,” and “Leave it, gaffer. He’s not worth it.”

I put it to Andy that it must surely have been fun to be involved?

“I loved it, I loved it. Listen, it was brilliant. The show itself was low budget but it was built up on people. The people were fantastic and it had cult status. No matter how bad it was, you’d be able to say – I know who that is. That was Drogba’s goal for Chelsea against so and so. That’s what made it so much fun.

At the end, it kind of died a death. I was there for six years and when I left I was offered a Hollywood job with the film, “Goal”. That’s when I left and they ended up employing four different people to take up my one post on that show. That’s how much I did.”

As for those famous/infamous cameos? “The guys were great. Being honest, I should thank the likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and the West ham players. They mainly got me that producer role because I pulled in my contacts to get those guys on the show. One time, Andy had just got called back into the England squad and all the press were outside the training ground at Man United. I had to go and meet him at the training ground and came out the back door with Andy and Dwight , then drove to Stockport County so we could film them on Dream Team – for nothing. It was absolutely crazy. Can you imagine a footballer now using his image rights and saying, ‘I’ll come on your show for nothing’ but that’s how much of a cult status it was.”

After six seasons at Harchester United, ‘Goal’, and the lure of the silver screen proved too much, although not for the first time !

“Infact, whilst I was doing Dream Team, after two years I also did a film called : Mike Bassett England manager. I cast Terry Kiely from Dream Team (popular character, Karl Fletcher) and Scott Mean who used to play for West Ham to come and work on that film. I did all the choreography on that film myself, which was a big job! We shot at Wembley and also went to Brazil. I was there for almost two months, filming at the Maracana, Botafogo and everywhere.

It’s a hard job…!!”

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Bassett / Tomlinson – one of the many famous faces to film at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

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Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

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FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

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(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon

Out of tune and out of touch but who looks good in green?

3 Jun

We’ve got a bumper Last Word today. England took on Portugal last night in their final warm up game ahead of EURO 2016. Whilst I promised we’d drop the Brentford ‘green shirt’ stuff, there is an 11th hour addendum from one supporter which Bees fans may find of interest. And on the subject, we look at the top ten green shirts of all time. From Plymouth to Palmeiras and Carlisle to Panathinaikos, can anybody make this under used colour look good?

But first, England. Whereas I’d normally say they “entertained Portugal last night” rather than “took on”, anybody who saw the game will know there’d have been more entertainment in an episode of Hale and Pace (kids, ask your dads. Actually, don’t. Spare them the pain).

The 1-0 win at Wembley was an experience that many found uninspiring, out of touch with the occasion and somewhat flat. An indication of the pain that awaits supporters over the next few weeks unless something changes and fast. ITV nailed it, by accident, in the commentary with the observation that, “This is Dier”.

But enough about the England supporter’s band.

Look, it wasn’t the best game by any stretch of the imagination. The red card for Bruno Alves, channelling his inner Eric Cantona with a crazy challenge on Harry Kane, hardly helped proceedings as both teams had to adjust to playing 11 on 10 for most of the game. If you want a full match report then, as ever, other sources are the place to go. However, if you want a full match report in two tweets then we’ve got it here c/o DJ’s Andy Bush and Conor McNamara.

Bush and CM twitter

I’m still no closer to knowing who Roy will start with against Russia next Saturday but at least we can now look forward to the tournament with no other distractions. The one week countdown is underway, the wall chart is on the fridge and Will Grigg is, apparently, still on fire (if he manages to score, ‘that song’ is just going to become interminable).

After that, the rest just comes naturally. Sit back, grab a beer, prepare the ‘butt groove’ in the sofa and enjoy a month of bonus football that we wouldn’t get in a normal ‘closed season’. Hey, if nothing else it might distract from endless rumours and talk of “Bees boss set for double transfer swoop”. All being well, it might even extinguish Will Grigg. No offence to the former Bee but I’m half expecting ‘that band’ to add ‘that song’ to their repertoire.

Next up, Brentford. More specfically, the  last word on our wearing green (unless, of course, somebody actually manages to unearth a picture of that adidas shirt). Supporter   Geoff Buckingham has been in touch about when, and why, Brentford first wore this most unusual of colours :

It was due to a motor coach not turning up !

It happened in the grim days of January 1974, when the club were close to bottom of The Football League, the country was gripped by the Miner’s Strike and ‘The Three Day’ week, and funds at Griffin Park were very tight indeed. To make matters worse, on a freezing cold 12th Jan.the Brentford team coach did not show up at the meeting point for the trip to bottom of the table Doncaster Rovers.This meant a hurried change of plan, and the players had to quickly sort out cars and drive themselves up to Doncaster. 

If that was not bad enough, one of them, winger Barry Salvage, got nicked for speeding on the return journey. As for the kit we had to borrow them from Slough Town FC. The shirts were indeed green, but with pink numbers on the back!

Anyway, the green shirts brought Brentford a bit of luck as the Bees won the match 2-1 , with a brace from ex Bognor Regis deckchair attendant Andy Woon ( you could not make this up,could you?!)

That win, in front of 3009 perishingly cold spectators, was Brentford’s only victory in a 14 game spell. But it was enough to lift the Bees up to third from bottom, and was actually a crucial two points, as we finished the season just two points above the Division 4 bottom four re-election places! 

Thanks, Geoff. And no more so than because talk of pink and green allows me to get out the industrial sized crowbar as we segue into : ‘the top ten green shirts of all time’.

This, a research topic I’ve undertaken simply down to the fact that, whilst most Brentford fans seemed quite keen on the idea (if you believe social media), one New Road observer contacted me to say: “Glad we’re not getting the hideous green kit this season but seems nailed on for next time.”

Is green hideous?   Unusual, for sure. But hideous? It’s one view and who am I to judge? Instead, let the world of football fashion be your guide….

carlisle away 1993

Carlisle away 1993

10) Carlise away 1993. Accused by many of resembling a deckchair, this cult classic even has a hint of red and white. If Matthew Benham and co are keen on the green, could this give inspiration for 2017? Bonus points always awarded for anything made by the much missed ‘Matchwinner’

 

 

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Mexico 1996 – wow

9) Mexico 1996. It’s one thing having some discreet design added to your shirt but Mexico didn’t hold back on the subtly when it came to embracing their heritage back in 1996. It’s bold, I’ll give you that. I love it!

 

 

 

La Hoya Lorca Broccoli

La Hoya – delicious design

8) La Hoya Lorca 2013/14. We’ve featured the Spanish lower division side’s kit on these pages many times over the years. And rightly so, given they’ve modelled it on the broccoli that signifies their agricultural heartland.

 

 

 

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Green Arsenal?

7) Hibernian 1989/90. It’s made by Adidas and it just looks awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

St Etienne 1981

St. Etienne add a certain, I don’t know what but it’s good

6) St. Etienne 1981/82. How can you honestly say this isn’t stylish? I’ll even forgive the non-matching collar and cuffs, such is the French chic on offer in this classic Le Coq Sportif template.

 

 

 

 

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classic adidas

5) Palmeiras 1979/ 80.  The boys from Brazil kept it simple for this adidas effort. But then again, why mess around when simple equates to style?

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth 1984

Plymouth show that green can look good

4) Plymouth 1984/85. Much like the Palmeiras effort although with the addition of the discreet pinstripe that just screamed ’80’s football shirt’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panathinaikos 2008

Modern is good, too

3) Panathinaikos 2008/09. Another Adidas shirt. Another stunner. Even the sponsor and other branding is done sympathetically

 

 

 

 

Pink-Green-Real-Betis-Kit (2)

It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

2) Real Betis 2015/16. We love women on these pages. Not in a mysogynistic style but more to celebrate how at Brentford we have such a diverse fanbase. So it’s nice to include a wonderful effort from Spain as Betis took things one step further than even the Bees, creating a special shirt in order to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman.

 

 

cameroun 1990

My favourite green shirt of all time

1) Cameroon 1990. Roger Milla. Upset after upset as the Indomitable Lions almost got to the semi finals ahead of England. That foul by Benjamin Massing on Claudio Cannigia. Oh, and one of the most iconic shirts in World football. Adidas have done it again.

 

 

 

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Thanks for reading.

book 3 and 4 cover

Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

 

The things you learn on the radio…

22 Jan

We’ll get onto the build up for Preston – Brentford along with the fall out of number 26 and his refusal to play against Burnley momentarily but I’d crave your indulgence for a moment as we go off on a tangent. Kind of.

Just as this week has seen the ten year anniversary of Bees United taking ownership of Brentford from Ron Noades, there is another decade long celebration taking place. Today, infact. It is ten years since DJ Christian O’Connell began his Absolute Radio breakfast show.

What’s this got to do with Brentford, you may ask? Well, aside from keeping me sane at the ungodly hour at which this blog is normally written Christian was the man who, finally, put the Cameron Diaz rumour to bed. Does she support Brentford, improbable thought it sounds, or not?

For anyone who doesn’t know the jaw dropping answer, you can find out what happened here. Direct from the horse’s mouth. Although to be clear, Cameron if you’re reading (she isn’t ) I’m not suggesting that you are in any form equine.

OC – thanks for the tunes and laughs over the years which, as supporter Matt Davis reminded us on Twitter last night, even included a 2006 appearance at Griffin Park. Specifically, in a video shoot for the DJ’s World Cup single “Hurry up England” which crashed in, and then out, of the hit parade at number 10.

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The OC met Cameron and talked Brentford..

So from a funny man to an unfunny one. Our number 26. Or, more specifically, Dean Smith talking about him to Phil Parry on BBC Radio London.

I am sure, by now, we‘ve all heard the interview in which our Head Coach confirms that, amongst others things, the player is back in training with the first team after going on strike for the Burnley game.

For me, the key turn of phrase is in regards to Preston where Dean notes, with a perhaps unfortunate / deliberate choice of words: “He won’t be available for selection on Saturday but its one of them, you know, that we’ll play by ear

But then it gets interesting as he adds, “He’ll be available moving forward, that’s for sure”.

Is there a chance we’ll see him in a red and white shirt again? Unlikely for some time, if at all, is my opinion. This smacks of diplomacy in a bid to diffuse what is clearly a very awkward situation for all parties.

I feel for Dean here. He’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t . We’re talking about a hugely talented centre back who you’d be desperate to have in your team. Freeze him out and, eventually, any sale value decreases to nothing. Play him and you send out an awful message of player power corrupting. Sell him and it shows that throwing a wobbly can help a player find the exit door should he be looking for it.

I don’t know what the answer to this one is. I’m just the numpty on the terrace, after all. What is clear is that we’ve been backed into a corner and, like taking them short, it’s not going to work out well for anyone.

Discussing the matter on Twitter last night with several supporters, Luis Adriano (of ‘Penalties’ fame ) put forward the idea of “T*@ky – the movie”. With Martin Clunes tipped to play the leading role, it’s one that I doubt will ever get off the drawing board although I live in hope.

Perhaps, though, we’ve got more chance of seeing his own table top game. I stumbled across this gem from Parker on the Internet last night which, with a light bit of jiggery-pokery c/o photoshop, could provide a winner.

 

striker game 2

Striker – we need one. But not this sort

Promising “Fast single handed action” (seriously??) – not my words – could we see this in the club shop any time soon? Unlikely as,  if nothing else, Parker’s other claim is blatant false advertising .

Players actually kick the ball.” Not at the moment, they don’t.

Let’s hope this mess gets sorted out soon.

Nick Bruzon

Will Judge be on the bench? Will Brentford be #Novemberkings again?

3 Nov

We’ve spoken a lot about Hull City AFC over the years on these pages. Primarily the ongoing attempts of owner Dr. Assem Allam to rebrand the club as Hull Tigers. Likewise, for a kit nerd such as myself, the infamous ‘tiger stripe’ shirt is one that has frequently drawn gasps of admiration. This summer we saw more transfer rumours than even our local press could cope with / generate (delete as applicable) as Steve Bruce attempted one of their beloved ‘double transfer swoops’ – eventually netting Moses Odubajo. But now, with the victory against QPR still at the forefront of our minds, Brentford return to action with the chance to finally talk about Hull City from a footballing perspective.

The best football shirt of all time

The best football shirt of all time

Friday night was special, no question. But, if we are being honest, it was a win we fully deserved. Moreso, QPR just weren’t actually that good. Aside from the two efforts from Massimo Luongo late in the first half, they offered nothing. It was as much a victory for Brentford over the event and the expectation as it was over the opposition.

Not that I’m complaining, of course. Three points are always welcome and never more so than in this fixture. Even Arsenal buffoon Richie Firth, sidekick to Absolute Radio breakfast show DJ Christian O’Connell, failed to pour cold water on the win when talking about it on Monday morning’s programme.

Firth (right) with O'Connell. Can't tell his Arsenal from his elbow

Firth (right) with O’Connell. Can’t tell his Arsenal from his elbow

One thing he did get right was the need to be vigilant tonight. Moreseo, I’d go one further and say to forget about QPR. Specifically, Friday’s win rather than the club in general. It was brilliant but it has happened. Hull City are a different prospect altogether.

They’ve only lost twice all season, one of those being against Brighton – the only team now separating them from the top of the Championship table. Indeed, an away win tonight could even see them climb to the top should the Seagulls stuff it up at Sheffield Wednesday.

In Uruguayan striker Abel Hernández they have a player at the business end of the divisional goal scoring charts, whilst Allan McGregor is that rare example of a Scottish goalkeeper who can catch. And then there’s Moses Odubajo – Brentford fans need no reminder of what he can do. It’ll be very interesting to see who comes out on top of that one this evening.

The BBC are reporting this morning that Hernández may be rested but, equally, that our own ‘man of the moment’, Alan Judge, is down as being an injury doubt. He went straight to the tunnel after being subbed on Friday night and Bees’ fans will be sweating on his availability.

Alan Judge  - will we see him tonight?

Alan Judge – will we see him tonight?

It is no coincidence that one of the on pitch highlights of our return to form has been the performance of the Irishman. Three goals and four assists have been pivotal in helping us make it maximum points from the last twelve. With the Bees now, potentially, just one point away from the play-off zone should results go our way tonight it would be a killer time to be missing our star man.

Then again, it will be a fascinating test of just how well the rest of the squad can cope without him. Moreso, given as I’m not so naïve to think that the January transfer window won’t be the usual tense occasion it always is.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather Alan starts than doesn’t. But if we need to bench the Judge, just for one night, it would be preferable to his doing himself long term harm.

Hull City are going to be incredibly tough opponents. The hardest team to come to Griffin Park so far this season. If the victory against QPR was a historic one for personal reasons, this could be the one to really make the rest of the footballing world sit up and take proper notice of the Bees once more.

In 2015 we were pronouncing ourselves #Novemberkings (please note: this column does not endorse the use of the hashtag, #Novemberkings). Tonight we find out if The Bees are in line for a repeat.

See you there.

Can we match Friday night ?

Can we match Friday night ?

Nick Bruzon

Will Lewis become Paul Robinson or Mr Udagawa?

10 Oct

With Brentford not playing until next weekend’s home game against Rotherham United, things have been somewhat quiet. There’s been no real news out of the club, beyond the 2-1 development squad win over QPR that featured that happiest of things – an appearance from Glasgow Rangers old boy Lewis Macleod (along with a goal). So the mind has been wandering.

Mr. Udagawa. To TV viewers of a certain age (i.e. late 80’s Neighbours fans) he was THE face of international sophistication. By day – Japanese businessman. By night – staple of the Erinsborough dinner party scene as the Ramsay Street residents did everything possible to promote Lassiter’s Hotel and, to a lesser extent, Helen Daniels’ ‘Home James’ chauffeur service.

Des Clarke got the sack from the Pacific Bank after a hilarious mix up that involved a shambolic attempt to learn Japanese, whilst Paul Robinson engineered a fake marriage to then secretary Gail without even having the good grace to inform her of his plan in advance. These were the lengths people went to in order to try and clinch the highly sought after ‘Udagawa deal’.

(l-r) Clarke, Udagawa, Robinson. Titans of international business

(l-r) Clarke, Udagawa, Robinson. Titans of international business

Mr Udagawa rarely appeared on screen although, when he did, he inspired fear. This was one man not to upset despite everybody giving it their best shot to do. All plots around the character usually involved the carefully laid plans to impress him crashing to the floor in a series of misunderstandings as a seemingly doomed deal would subsequently be saved by nothing simpler than a home cooked meal.

He was, if you will, the Keith Stroud of his generation. Everybody wanted to stay on his good side as failure to do so would mean swift and terrible retribution. So why mention him now?

Quite simply, his name came up on Absolute Radio this week during an interview between breakfast show DJ Christian O’Connell and ‘Don’t it make you feel good‘ singer Stefan Dennis.

Dennis is probably better known for playing Paul Robinson on Neighbours over the majority of the show’s thirty year run. Whilst talking about that aspect of his career, mention of the name Mr Udagawa brought about the acknowledgement of the character being “TV’s most powerful cameo”. And that’s a line that has been playing on my wandering mind.

Stefan Dennis – come for Neighbours; stay for the synth-driven pop

With Lewis Macleod now fit enough to play following the injuries and twig-gate that have blighted his time at Griffin Park since joining ten months ago, Brentford fans have now been given a little teaser. But what next?

How far is he from the first team? Can he live up to the potential that saw then manager Mark Warburton sign the player from Rangers and upset Barry Ferguson to hilarious levels of sour grapes?

Injury meant that Lewis' previous appearance had been with the signing shirt

Injury meant that Lewis’ previous appearance had been with the signing shirt

Most importantly, what will he do for the Bees? So far, much like the legendary Japanese businessman, the vast majority of his career has seen Lewis playing a role that is no more than an off-screen mention. Now, he has the chance to establish himself, Paul Robinson style (although without the philandering), as a mainstay in the team.

Ideally, a mix of both would be the winner. A player who ends up with the same level of respect and fear-engendering aura of Udagawa that causes opponents to fall to pieces around him but, equally, one who now has the longevity of Robinson.

After these recent weeks of uncertainty and upheaval, it’s great to have something positive to aspire towards once more. Lewis has the weight of expectation on his shoulders but, equally, he has nothing to lose.

A goal and an assist in Tuesday’s night’s win at Loftus Road isn’t a bad way to start.

Now don’t that make you feel good?

P.S. : To listen to the full Udagawa inspired interview, aswell as voting for a charity competition winner, you can do so at the Absolute Radio website, here. Truly an enthralling, albeit unusual, conversation…

O'Connell and Dennis provided a surreal, but enthralling, conversation

O’Connell and Dennis provided a surreal, but enthralling, conversation

New look, new sounds and new hashtags as club get it right

18 Sep

Brentford play Preston North End on Saturday and it seems that, in the build up to the game at least, there are plenty of changes at Griffin Park. In what seems to be partly a response to the recent ‘match day experience survey’, the eagle eyed amongst you would have spotted all manner of new things in place for the weekend.

First up, the Braemar Road forecourt rebrand is now complete. The BRENTFORD FC Stingray font is gone and the new lettering is in place on the repainted main stand. Along, thankfully, with a club badge.

The club revealed their new look on Thursday

The club revealed their new look on Thursday

We’d had our suspicions as to how this was going to look during the week after chief executive Mark Devlin noted on twitter that, ”You won’t be surprised to learn that it will be in keeping with the new brand guidelines”. Whilst a phrase such as ‘new brand guidelines’ is normally one that strikes the same feeling of doom as “rail replacement bus service” or “Coming up next on BBC one, the Eastenders omnibus”, I have to say that this really bucks the trend.

Well done Brentford. The club has come up with a smart, new look. Certainly, much better than the somewhat dated, quasi-futuristic Stingray lettering that had aged as badly as Keith Richards. Whilst the stripes I had thought might also return are still absent from the paintwork, the all red look is still a great one.

Keith Richards - the musical equivalent of Stingray font

Keith Richards – the musical equivalent of Stingray font

As for the Preston game itself, first up is your chance to play DJ. The club has started to ask fans what music they would like to hear on Big B Radio. (This is assuming people can hear it – I note, also, they are currently asking for feedback on the new PA system). However, it’s something I’ve written about many times before. There’s no excuse for Barry Manilow at football – unless it’s Bermuda triangle (I don’t mean the defence) and, whilst I fully appreciate you are never going to please everybody, this is still a great way to try.

And, read this next bit carefully…. We have a hashtag that actually seems fit for purpose.

#BeeTheDJ does what it says whilst adding a nice bit of punnery. After the debacles of #trophyfriends and #bignewambitions (which, thankfully, appears to have been quietly shuffled off) another sign that the club do listen.

Don't take my word for it. Check out the Twitter hashtag

Don’t take my word for it. Check out the Twitter hashtag

But wait. Like an advert for cheap kitchen knives, there’s more. Centre Circle Challenge is back. Kind of.

I loved this event in the past. A home and away supporter would demonstrate who had the least bad kicking skills as they attempted to hoof the football as close as possible to the spot in the middle of the meridian line. All, of course, accompanied by the wonderful commentary skills of Peter Gilham – woebetide anybody with two left feet.

After an absence of a few seasons, this has been rebranded and now returns as ‘Bees Bowls’. From reading the blurb on the clubsite (and you can also apply to participate) the end goal appears the same – closest to the centre spot wins.As somebody who has formerly taken part in CCC with mixed fortunes – both reaching the centre spot aswell as falling flat on my backside in the tipping rain – I can only recommend this as being a great fan activity and would encourage supporters to give it a go.

Apart from being tremendous fun, it’s not often the Brentford family get a chance to grace the Griffin Park surface.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Nick Bruzon

It IS great fun - get applying

It IS great fun – get applying

Raining goals…and sausages?

10 Apr

We’ll get onto Brentford and the trip to Derby County in a moment (along with a timely boost from Bournemouth) but I need to start with Birmingham City and their game against our promotion rivals, Wolves, on Saturday.

A story has started to do the rounds about the game at St. Andrews which I have no idea is true, a joke or even something started by Wolves supporters.

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.

Is the sausage protest really going to happen? It's not April 1st...

Is the sausage protest really going to happen? It’s not April 1st…

My interest is largely in the practical aspects. If nothing else, as Absolute Radio football expert Richie Firth mentioned on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show this morning “a sausage could affect the roll of the ball”.

Can Brentford beat Fulham and go second in the table?

21 Nov

Finally. It’s Brentford – Fulham. It’s tonight, I’m buzzing and I cannot wait to resume League action with our neighbours. I think it’s going to be a tense and tough game but I also know we have the players who, if they do what they have been doing in recent weeks, have all the ability to pick up the three points that will take us into joint second in the Championship table.

And, at the same time, give us that sweetest of things – local pride and gloating rights.

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.

What were they thinking? Norwich City defrocked

16 Sep

We’ll crack on with the visit of Norwich City to Brentford shortly but, first, there are a few bits of unfinished business in regards to Monday’s article on the Manchester United – QPR game. Specifically comments around both teams that, quite simply, I ran out of space to include.

First up, Christian O’Connell. The Absolute Radio DJ brought United fans back to earth, aswell as highlighting the state of their opponents, with the astute observation on Sunday that, “Celebrating beating QPR is like jumping for joy when you beat Stevie Wonder at Pictionary”.

And secondly, to a holier place than even national radio – St. Margaret’s Church. It was there, I am told, that the 10.30 service saw a visiting Priest addressing his congregation thus: Many thanks to the kind Parishioners who took me to watch Chelsea – Swansea. A great game although being from Uganda I am, of course, a Manchester United fan”.

So they’re not all from Surrey, then.

O'Connell takes out both Manchester United and QPR fans with one tweet

O’Connell takes out both Manchester United and QPR fans with one tweet

And from Uganda to Norwich City. If you want a proper Brentford match preview then (as ever) Beesotted , the BBC or the clubsite are your places.

For the Last Word reader, following the feature before the Brighton game, it’s time for the next in our semi-regular series – What were they thinking? The ‘best of the worst’ / quirkier (delete as applicable) of our visitors’ kits through the ages.

The best : 1988-89 Scoreline. I’ve got personal interest in this one, simply because it is the shirt worn by the Canaries when they reached that season’s FA Cup semi final. Brentford fans won’t need reminding that was the year of Gary Blissett, Manchester City and the quarter final at Anfield where Liverpool did well to eventually edge us out.

A classic, despite the apparent breach of 'Trade descriptions act' with the sponsor

A classic, despite the apparent breach of ‘Trade descriptions act’ with the sponsor

The unfortunate design : 1989- 1992 Asics. The plus point is that this one sticks to traditional Norwich City colours of yellow and green. The downside is that the green is less ‘trim’ and more emblazoned over the upper body in a way that, especially on the away kit, puts one in mind of a Waitrose delivery van.

Were the Norwich City club shop expanding their home delivery service?

Were the Norwich City club shop expanding their home delivery service?

The worst : 1992- 1994 Ribero. Imagine if your club came up with a great kit design that, after the over indulgence of Asics, got the balance between yellow and green just right. Then, they fed a flock of pigeons nothing but sprouts before allowing them to nest above the final design specs for the team’s latest shirt. This is the result.

Pebble dashed by an incontinent pigeon??

Pebble dashed by an incontinent pigeon??

The away shirt : I’ve already mentioned one of these so rather than go for the picnic blanket of the 1993-94 Asics, we’ll chuck in a bonus category:

Retro classic – the Admiral tracksuit. Seen here as sported by Norwich City legend John Bond. If, rather than being a Brentford fan, I’d grown up on the streets of Caistor St. Edmund or Diss in the 1970s I think it’s a fair bet I’d have worn one of these. Probably whilst riding a Raleigh Chopper. Stunning.

John Bond - the king of cool

John Bond – the king of cool