Tag Archives: Eastenders

After Sunday roast, time for kebabs. Just no umbrellas

4 Sep

The middle Sunday of international weekend. There’s no Brentford result to digest (it’s another 6 days until the trip to Brighton and a week since Sheffield Wednesday salvaged an injury time draw in a game they could have actually won much earlier) whilst the national team are yet to kick things off in anger. Yes, ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce begins his tenure as England manger tonight with the trip to Slovakia after leaving Sunderland in the summer to replace Roy Hodgson.

Big Sam

Can Sam bring a smile to England supporters?

Cue hand wringing about EURO 2016. Talk of a new era. Questions over Joe Hart or the selection of Wayne Rooney as captain. Sly digs about this ’rough diamond’ being a different choice to the normal selections from those suits at FA HQ. And, of course, being forced to listen to ‘that band’.

There’s bound to be mention of Sam’s win ratio at supposedly less illustrious teams  (37.57% West Ham and 29.03 at Sunderland). Although what that proves, I have no idea. Even Roy Hodgson managed 41.94% at Liverpool, for what its worth. And, of course, with that West Ham link there’s bound to be some crowbarred reference to some sort of new stadium. It wouldn’t be a televised football game in 2016/17 without one.

Yes, my ITV cliche bingo card is fully charged and ready to begin crossing off those squares although, being honest, I’m not fully engaged at the moment. The Euros were painful. Dreadfully so. It is still far too recent a bad memory.

To see England earnestly attempt to go again feels like being faced with a groaning table of all-you-can-eat kebabs having just consumed an oversized Sunday Roast. Whilst normally this would be a delicious prospect, given what came before I’m not going to enjoy it. That said, what harm would it do to take a tentative nibble and see what develops from there?

Besides, regardless of who is at the helm, a 6 team qualifying group containing the likes of Lithuania , Scotland and Malta should be about as tough a nut to crack as using a sledgehammer on some stale dry roasted. Forget Big Sam. Big Ron from Eastenders or Big Daddy could get them through the group. And they are both sadly departed.

Big Daddy

Even Big Daddy could get England through this group

For me, the genuine excitement is over in Group H where Gibraltar have Cyprus and Estonia amongst their opponents. Whilst, of course, you’d expect Belgium to run away with that one, could the boys from the Rock make a few waves? As ever, the bookmakers don’t think so and have them at anything from 2,000-1 to 5,000-1 to win the group.

But, whatever happens, surely this is still a more rewarding prospect than watching England cruise through the qualifiers to an inevitable first place. Just remember though, 10 wins out of 10 en-route to Euro 2016 didn’t prove a particularly auspicious omen as to long term tournament success.

I hope England do well. I hope Gibraltar can upset Greece on Tuesday night.I hope we don’t get overly carried away, however the qualifying groups turn out. As has been proven again, success at a tournament proving somewhat more difficult a prospect than getting there.

Indeed, aside from Euro 96 or West Ham’s triumph in the the 1966 World Up (both home tournaments) it is only really the wonderful efforts of Bobby Robson’s team back in 1990 where England have come even vaguely close to getting their hands on foreign soil. The Premier league may be ‘the best league in world football’ (is that line still being trotted out?) and have the most over inflated transfer market, but when it comes to keeping pace with International rivals then there is still a huge gap.

All the money and all the expectation in the world are no substitute for simply being ‘any good’ or knowing how to play as a team. Just look at what Wales achieved over the summer.

After the summer, the thought of winning a World Cup feels a million miles away. The prospect of investing the emotions in a qualifying campaign that has stopped the fledgling Championship season dead in its tracks so soon and so awkwardly is a tough one. And, being blunt, a frustrating one. Just as Brentford have got going and assembled our post-transfer window squad, the shutters have come down.

Yet come 5pm I have no doubt whatsoever the TV will be tuned to ITV to see just what life under Big Sam will look like. Say what you want about him, and many have, but I can guarantee you that if it’s raining there’ll be no umbrellas in sight.

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Whatever happens, it can’t get this bad

Nick Bruzon

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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

Cherries await as Cliff crowns a tough week. And some dogs

20 Feb

With Brentford fans adjusting to the news about Mark Warburton ahead of Saturday’s game against Bournemouth, the saga has been somewhat distracting for anybody interested in matters outside TW8. On the plus side, the interminable fixation with Eastenders has, largely, drifted past despite my twitter timeline being flooded with oblique reference to Ian Beale. The downside has been missing out on canine fun at Bristol Rovers, Liverpool (almost) doing a Trotta and a transfer story involving the one time scourge of Bournemouth, Mike Grella.

Rounding off the news about Warbs, on Thursday Chairman Cliff Crown spoke to the press from the Brentford Media Centre. I have to be honest, this was something I didn’t even realised existed and seemed less SSNHQ, more a desk covered in discarded telephones placed in front of an advertising backdrop.

Cliff Crown speaks from the heart of the media centre

Cliff Crown speaks from the heart of the media centre

However, the key points from Cliff’s performance were an admission that the club had spoken to Rayo Vallecano coach Paco Jemez although, “it’s been no more than a conversation about philosophies

Likewise, in regards to the news coming out in the first place, “Unfortunately someone leaked and that accelerated the whole process. It wasn’t something we were keen to do but we had little choice once it’d got out. We don’t know who it was, but whoever it was has done damage to everybody associated with the club

A frank admission from Cliff and if you want to see the whole interview, it is on the club’s YouTube channel, below.

 

Moving away from the situation surrounding the management, you might not have noticed the news coming from across the Atlantic this week. The New York Red Bulls may have lost the services of Thierry Henry but they have replaced him with former Brentford hit man, Mike Grella.

The date 8th November 2011. The place Griffin Park. Brentford lined up against Bournemouth for a JPT semi and ended up just one shy of brackets. Grella smashed four goals as the hapless Cherries were routed 6-0 and the Bees spent the final 11 minutes, including stoppages, chasing a 7th(seventh).

With many Bournemouth fans living in London, and even closer to TW8, it is a result that still gets mentioned on a regular basis. They may have spent much of this season TOTL but I’ll never forget the night that the gorilla went ape.

Put down this article and go immediately to twitter (then come back). Type in the hashtag – #dogsinbristolroversshirts. I don’t know what has sparked the craze but you get exactly what you ask for. Dogs. Wearing Bristol Rovers shirts.

Dogs. In Bristol Rovers shirts. Quite literally

Dogs. In Bristol Rovers shirts. Quite literally

I didn’t even realise that many Bristol Rovers shirts existed although this sort of dog related couture isn’t a new thing, with precedent having been set by Brentford.

Woofy McWoofington has long been known for his love of the ‘St.George’ home shirt, whilst even turned up in a Bees scarf for the Hartlepool game (the one before ‘that penalty’).

That said, whilst Woofy may have worn a shirt first, Rovers have picked up the stick and run with it. The internet is flooded with them. And a great thing it is too.

Woofy McWoofington - trendsetter

Woofy McWoofington – trendsetter

Finally, talking of ‘that penalty’ , don’t people watch sports news? Perhaps the incident against Doncaster Rovers didn’t get enough airplay (that’ll be it). However, watching the Liverpool – Besiktas game last night I couldn’t help feel a sense of déjà vu, watching Mario Balotelli and Jordan Henderson arguing in front of the home fans over who was going to take a late spot kick with the scores locked at 0-0.

The enigmatic Italian eventually got the honours, the goal and a rebuke from Steven Gerrard sitting in the ITV press box.

Good luck to them. We’ve grown from our own incident in a fashion that I could never have believed possible from the distraught feeling that afternoon. Whilst it is far too early to be talking about playing the likes of Liverpool, it is incredible to think that three more points tomorrow could take us one step closer to that craziness.

Let’s put the week behind us, get behind the manager and go for it.

Matthew Benham and Roy help lift the mood as Gibraltar are bracketed.

8 Sep

Very much a day of mixed emotions yesterday as former Brentford goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny (now plying his trade with Arsenal) kept Gibraltar at bay in their EURO 2016 opener against Poland. And by kept at bay, I mean barely had a look in as the boys from the Rock were on the wrong end of a 7(seven) – 0 bracketing.

Despite an even first half, it ended up being the sort of rout that nobody likes to see. It took Brentford owner Matthew Benham, who had earlier given a positive reaction to the ‘hot seat’ idea for Lionel Road, to fully lift my post match gloom with another view of one of his favourite football headlines.

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.

Lionel Road plans form as Gibraltar arrive on the Euro stage

7 Sep

No sooner had Brentford fan (or not, as it transpired)Cameron Diaz broken my heart this week than an idea has formed which could help bring her back into the fold. First, though, EURO 2016 qualifiers and if you aren’t bothered seeing Germany get brackets (seven) against Scotland then Sky Sports 3 has Gibraltar making their tournament debut on Sunday night.

The boys from The Rock have a ‘home’ fixture against Poland in a hugely significant game after finally becoming UEFA’s 54th member last May. I use ‘home’ loosely – the game will actually take place in Faro, Portugal – but it still promises to be an emotional experience for players, travelling supporters and those watching on TV.

It is a shame, from one respect, they’ll be rattling around a half empty stadium when a trip from Gibraltar to London would likely have been just as cost effective (thanks to the wonder of charter flights) and would have seen any number of stadia up for the task – international football at Griffin Park, perhaps?

But I digress – in a Group D that also sees World Champions Germany, the Republic of Ireland and the pool minnows, Scotland, it could be a fascinating qualification campaign. The smart money will be on Germany to walk it, of course, but I’m backing Gibraltar to pull off a shock this evening. And at 33-1 with some bookmakers for the win, worth a few quid…..?

Getting back to domestic matters, this week Cameron Diaz declared that although she wasn’t aware of The Bees existence, now that she is she’ll look into us.

As such, what better chance for the club to spring into action? To be quite honest, when it was announced last week that she’d be in London on a promotional tour, I’d have assumed the marketing and media chaps would have been all over it, anyway.

A new home shirt with ‘DIAZ, 9’ winging it’s way to her? A tour of Griffin Park? Perhaps an interview with Chris Wickham for Beesplayer?

But, it’s not too late. One thing I discovered whilst writing last season’s columns/book was an interesting fact about Swiss football. Whilst most people know that the home of domestic side ‘Young Boys’ is the ‘Stade de Suisse, Wankdorf’ what you may not be aware of is a unique feature – the, so called, ‘Hot Seat’.

The stadium has a solitary red chair amongst the other 31,999 black and yellow ones. It was the first one installed in the new ground (opened in 2005) and you can’t buy a ticket for it. Instead, a notable personality – usually linked to the club – sits there.

I love this idea and, as I’ve said before, think it would be fantastic if Brentford could try a similar scheme at Lionel Road. 19,999 red and white seats, and then one in a unique colour – or perhaps even yellow/black stripes?

In our case, the occupant could range from a deserving supporter to a local dignitary or ‘celebrity’ fan. (If nothing else, there’s a free programme article out of it every week).

And if we go down the latter route then what better guest to invite to use this ‘hot seat’ than Cameron Diaz? As Paul Davis told me on Twitter, “At least now we are on her radar”.

Mr. Benham, if you are reading (you never know) then how about it?

But even if Cameron does come good, she’s still down (down) the pecking order behind Rhino out of The Quo or Dean Gaffney.

Bees fans montage updated

Should Diaz be replaced on the celebrity Bees montage?

Nick Bruzon

Is Cameron Diaz a Brentford fan ? The answer, revealed

4 Sep

The question that Brentford fans have contemplated for years has finally been put directly to Cameron Diaz. And it has been answered.

On Thursday morning, Absolute Radio DJ Christian O’Connell played out his interview with the Hollywood A-lister and finally obtained the truth about her rumoured love of Brentford.

It’s a story that has been recounted for over a decade and quoted in sources as varied as The Daily Star, The Daily Mail and ESPN. We’d all seen the like of Rhino out of The Quo, Richard Archer and Natalie Sawyer at Griffin Park , but never Cameron.

The scene was set last night in the build up article. To be honest, as I wrote this I feared the worst but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

Sadly, however, not this strange. It seems that not only has she never been to Griffin Park but, in a gutbusting revelation, Diaz confessed , “It’s not that I’m not a fan of the Bees. I just really didn’t know they existed.

(l-r) Jason Segal, Christian O'Connell, Cameron Diaz. No Bees

(l-r) Jason Segal, Christian O’Connell, Cameron Diaz. No Bees

You can download the podcast which features the full interview from Absolute Radio and I-tunes. Failing that, the key exchange was as follows:

OC: There is a huge rumour that you are a football fan. Or Soccer as you guys call it now, which is getting bigger in America. And..a fan of Brentford. Is this true or not?

CD: You know, I think I would love to know more about football. I don’t.

OC: So you are not a fan of The Bees?

CD: Let me just tell you something. It’s not that I’m not a fan of the Bees. I just really didn’t know they existed.

You can see the FULL, unedited video version, below. 8m45 is the point where the killer blow is delivered

 

Noooooo. This was the ultimate celebrity kick in the nuts. Or in footballing terms, like hearing we’d sold Dean Holdsworth and replaced him with Murray Jones.

That said, there is still hope. Possibly. The interview concluded with Cameron’s admission that: “Now that I know they exist, I’m going to look into them. I’m going to Google them.”

I hope she does. And not just because I think that she’d like what she found. More, I’d love us to be the team supported by Cameron Diaz AND Dean Gaffney.

How often would you get chance to see those two together?

For now, a face is (sadly) crossed off The Bees montage

For now, a face is (sadly) crossed off The Bees montage

Christian O’Connell to solve the biggest Brentford mystery.

3 Sep

Throughout the history of mankind there have been many unsolved mysteries that have troubled philosophers and scholars alike.

Is Elvis really dead? How was Stonehenge built? What is the secret of Bermuda Triangle?

However, for Brentford fans there is one question amongst all that supercedes even the hit parade troubling prowess of Barry Manilow.

Our legion of celebrity supporters is many. From the world of TV we have Sky sports presenter Natalie Sawyer and Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). Music fans are amply catered for with Rick Wakeman, New Road regular Rhino Edwards from Status Quo and Richard Archer out of Hard-fi amongst those cheering on the Bees. Even comedian Bradley Walsh has a Brentford connection, as a former professional at the club.

Beyond these, though, a single name transcends this entire list. Cameron Diaz.

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.

From Brentford to Al-Wakrah; Wolves to the Wankdorf

19 Nov

New stadia seem all the rage these days.

Hardly a season goes past without a team leaving its traditional home to move to a new ground. Indeed, as Brentford prepare for Saturday’s League One clash against Wolves, there is probably as much interest in matters ‘off field’ as those on the pitch. Hounslow Council Planning Committee is, of course, due to discuss our proposed new stadium on December 5th.

I may be biased but I think the Lionel Road plans are great. Primarily because they feature a design that actually seems to have, and say this in hushed tones…. some character. Contrast the exciting schematics to the usual five seconds thought that most modern architects put in, the net result of which is an identikit bowl (see: Derby, Leicester and Middlesborough for starters).

Moreso, it won’t – as things currently stand – have a sponsored name. These are very much in vogue and range from airlines to food-processors as is the case, respectively, with Arsenal’s Emirates or Wolves and their Moulinex ground.

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

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