Tag Archives: England supporters band

Cliff crowns a great day which even ‘that trumpet’ can’t ruin.

25 Mar

With Friday’s column bemoaning the lack of Brentford related activity over the International break, it was another case of exquisite timing as the club confirmed later in the day that work has now begun at the Brentford Community Stadium site on Lionel Road South. Over in Dublin, John Egan was in the squad for the Republic of Ireland against Wales last night although a rogue musical instrument threatened to outdo even the much maligned (and rightly so) alleged band of the England supporters.

But first, Lionel Road. There’s not too much to add in regards to the Stadium announcement beyond a huge sigh of relief and gratitude at this latest news. It seems almost an eternity away since the club’s plans were approved by Hounslow council back in December 2013. The Bees were then in League One and Uwe Rosler was (technically) still our manager although his move to Wigan Athletic was coming somewhat quicker than ours to a new home. Indeed, looking back on the BBC report from the time it notes that, “The Bees hope to move to the 7.6 acre site on Lionel Road from Griffin Park for the 2016-17 season.

Of course, we have had further referrals and the CPO to go through since that point which have delayed proceeding somewhat. And whilst , at times, I can’t help but think of Lionel Road without the words “Monorail, monorail” going through the head, finally things are under way. There was another ebullient statement from Cliff Crown whilst, along with the article on Brentford official, a new website launched at brentfordcommunitystadium.com in which supporters will be kept abreast of developments.

The only slight downside about his news being the lack of obligatory photograph featuring Cliff, Mark Devlin et al leaning on shovels and wearing hard hats. But, given this current stage of the project involves clearing the site in preparation for the main build, perhaps this construction related favourite is still to come.

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It really IS happening.

The other Bees related topic from yesterday was, of course, John Egan’s selection for the Republic of Ireland. Whilst he had to be content with a place on the bench, this remains a huge honour and it can’t be long, surely, until he wins his first cap. With another home game scheduled for Tuesday, a friendly with the darlings of Euro 2016 Iceland, he may not have long to wait. Here’s hoping that fully deserved honour comes John’s way imminently.

One thing that armchair viewers won’t be hoping for is a return of ‘that trumpet’. Far be it from me to criticise another nation’s culture and perhaps this is well received part of their International game. Personally, my own belief is that, much like goal music, spectator performed musical instruments should not be allowed anywhere near a football stadium. Whatever the form.

The list of offendors is a well travelled one. Who could forget the sound of the Vuvuzelas from World Cup 2010? About the only positive to be gleaned from England’s ineptitude in that one being that an early exit spared domestic supporters being obliged to put up the droning cacophony.

Then there’s John Westwood. The self proclaimed Mr. Portsmouth. Him in the stove pipe hat, wooden teeth and dreadlocked fright wig whom the cameras seem contractually obliged to make a beeline for whenever Pompey are on TV. He looks like he needs a good wash down with some bleach and a wire wool brush (think  – Russell Brand and his spray on perm-wear leather effect trousers)  whilst the noise, with that incessant ringing of a hand bell or use of a trumpet, must mean that season tickets in the near vicinity come with a health and safety warning.

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Can’t give Westwood the full oxygen of publicity. Bell. End of.

But, of course, the prime offenders are the alleged England supporters alleged band. Regular readers know the drill at this point. If you want the usual rant about the stale, off key parping and flat renditions of jingoistic greatest hits from Bernie Clifton and his uninvited cuckoos in the nest then you’ll find it here (along with a lot more nonsense).

They’ve always been the low point. Until now. And the lone trumpet at Ireland’s Aviva stadium. Who was it? Why was it? How can a solitary instrument cut so clearly through what was, by all accounts, a fervent and vocal crowd.You’d have heard this thing above a jumbo jet taking off. It was so shrill that, by all scientific fact, only dogs should have been able to hear the bloody thing.

Yet here it was. Clear as day. As annoying as Westwood guesting in the England ensemble with a vuvuzela. If there’s one thing that’s good for unifying football fans it’s hatred. Not of each other but of wind instruments.

And this was the consummate in unwelcome hot air. Not even the sound of Jota’s refrain could lift this into the realms of acceptability.

Matthew Benham has already made it quite clear that goal music will never, ever happen in his time. Let’s hope the ban extends to trumpets when Lionel Road is complete.

Nick Bruzon

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After shocks in the the cup, could Bees now follow suit in the league?

21 Feb

With all the talk currently about FA Cup upsets – Arsenal beating Sutton United and Lincoln City recording that famous win up at Turf Moor being the pick of the fifth round shocks  – one could be forgiven for overlooking the Championship. Yet it continues to come at us faster and furiouser (is that even a word?) than Vin Diesel in a souped up Dodge Charger. Tonight is no exception as Brentford face the gruelling trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

A midweek visit to Hillsborough really is about as hard as it can get for Dean Smith and his Bees. Despite reverting to a more traditional back four and a much more attacking shape, the problems have now started to appear at the back where Brentford have shipped 10 goals in the last three league games. Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, know that a win tonight will take them up to third place in the Championship table.

Whilst Newcastle United, who won again last night against Aston Villa, and Brighton seem to have the top two slots locked down, anything is still possible. And with the pair of them meeting next Tuesday at the Amex. something has to give there shortly. Wednesday will be chomping at the bit for a chance to slip in between them when that happens.

Will Dean stick or twist? His reshuffle has won the plaudits but, sadly, it doesn’t seem to be winning that many games. Despite the hugely impressive performances against Aston Villa and Brighton, both Preston and Wigan were games we could well have won yet, despite scoring twice and leading in each, have thrown them away with a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst I’m all for this new look team set up – and hope we stick to it against divisional whipping boys Rotherham United on Saturday – perhaps discretion is the better part of valour tonight. If not in terms of playing five defenders then, perhaps , a personnel switch to add some muscle to the middle (calling Mr McCormack) or maybe he’ll accommodate the return of John Egan / Yoann Barbet.

One thing is for sure. With ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes now plying his trade for Sheffield Wednesday and doing what he does best (i.e. scoring goals) any mistakes will be punished by a team looking to consolidate their place in the play-offs.

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Once a Bee; now an Owl

Brentford’s task will be made all the harder by this game having been moved to a midweek due to our involvement in the FA Cup fourth round. For logistical reasons alone, expect fewer Bees fans to travel. The train isn’t an option (unless you stop over) whilst work gets in the way for many. Hats off to those making the effort tonight, that’s for sure. I salute you and wish I could be there. Instead, it is Mark Burridge and Beesplayer for me.

The other hurdle to overcome will, of course, be ‘that band’. Regular readers know the drill at this juncture and although oft repeated, they can’t be allowed to pass without a brief mention. Off key renditions of ‘seven nation army’ or ‘The Italian job’ washed down with Bernie Clifton’s jingoistic greatest hits are no replacement for an atmosphere. Let’s hope those that do travel are of loud voice.

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That. Band. Never forget.

The bookies have Wednesday as odds on favourites. The Bees are close to 4/1 to come away with the points. There’s more chance of finding a role of sellotape in our local Morrisons than of Brentford recording a win, if club sponsor 888 are to be believed.

Wednesday are good, no question. But Brentford aren’t 18/5 bad and one thing we have in us is goals. After a weekend of shocks in the cup, could we now see the bookies upset in the league?

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

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.”

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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.

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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

Roy, walker. Iceland beat abject England. Glenn beats the fans

28 Jun

I’m not nervous. I think we’ll beat them quite easily”. Not my words but those of ITV pundit Lee Dixon before kick off as England took on Iceland last night. Ploughing straight into the book of Glenn Hoddle level punditry he set the scene for what many feared, but few actually believed, might happen. And then it did.

First things first. Well played Iceland. They won and deservedly so. Two well taken goals to England’s one, early, penalty as Roy’s boys fell apart.

We’ve all seen it. You don’t need any form of match report from me. You don’t need any form of analysis as to just how bad things were. How, mediocre England looked throughout the evening and, if we’re being honest, the tournament . A simple inability to pass the ball , shoot on target or break down a resolute defence. A simple inability for our goalkeeper to stop making basic, game changing, errors (not for this first time in Euro 2016). Hey, at least he can handle the pressure of having a flake free scalp.

Delle Alli? Ali from Oz cabs would have done a better job out there (kids, ask your dads) but to single out one person would be unfair. England were just dreadful all round. Parped on by ‘that band’, sounding worse than ever, it was a truly miserable experience. The second half especially.

Iceland wanted it. England assumed they had a god given right to qualify. And that doesn’t win football matches. The final kick in the teeth being Roy reading out his pre-prepared statement to the press just after the game. How did he write it so quickly? Surely he hadn’t written it beforehand? Surely? Why didn’t he take ANY questions afterwards? The least he could do was try to offer some explanation. To give some form of cathartic relief.

But no, in he came, out came the paper, off he walked – resignation shared with the nation. If only there was some form of topical parallel we could draw upon here.

And then there was Glenn Hoddle. The co-commentator has been roundly panned this tournament but it was almost as though he knew Iceland were going to win and, if England were going down, he was taking us with them.

At 1-0 up he endorsed playing it across the back. That worked well. This from the man who declared : Iceland are still stuck in the 80s.

In the second half he noted about the defence  : “There’s always been a suspicion that it has been the weak suit”. Well d’uh.

Late on, despite the clear inability of England to hit a barn door with a banjo he opined how, “We might get a goal from a tap in”.

Seriously? Was he watching the same game? I might win the national lottery, but its not going to happen.

I could go on. It was 90 minutes of non-stop drivel, mirroring what happened on pitch. The crowning glory being his observation that , “They’re little things but they’re big things when it comes to things in the 18 yard box”.

What does that even mean? The sad thing is that , with Roy having walked, the bookies have him at 20-1 to be next England manager. Surely just a comedy bet?

There’s a few days for us all to catch our breath. The quarter final line up is now complete  – Italy being the day’s other winners  – and it looks like a good one.

What a shame England won’t be there but Glenn and co will. Although, on the showing, four our own safety perhaps it’s best things ended there.

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The quarters are intriguing. No England though

Nick Bruzon

The game is here and England WILL win. Fighting talk?

16 Jun

Finally. The match that has been a stand out on the domestic fixture list for the last 7(seven) months is here. England take on Wales today. But will there even be a game?

Of course there will although the morning after the night before, with 36 more arrests after further trouble and tear gas, could UEFA come anywhere close to their threat of sending Russia and / or England home?

Russia going down to Slovakia yesterday has aided their chance of a natural return home but, surely, England will have too much in the tank for the Welsh? Qualification for the second round a certainty. I don’t predict much but I’m predicting this. 2-1 to England.

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Matt Dyson – guru

A small number of supporters seem hell bent on getting Roy Hodgson’s team thrown out of EURO 2016.” Not my words but those of news guru Matt Dyson on this morning’s Absolute Radio Christian O’Connell breakfast show. An over reaction or genuine fear?

Fear not helped by Wales manager Chris Coleman predicting the game to be “an old fashioned dust up”. Probably not the best choice of phrase amidst all the fighting talk in the build up to the clash. Again, probably not the best choice of phrase etc etc etc …….

Whatever the cause and whoever is to blame, the scenes we’ve been shown back home are pretty horrific. Billy Grant and Stan Collymore (a pairing I never thought I’d put in the same journalistic related sentence) have been doing their thing over the last few days. Brentford supporters’ Dave and Billy’s Beesotted page continues to pump out the blogs (with their YouTube footage going viral) whilst Stan has been running the gauntlet of ‘supporters’ and accusations of being a ‘snitch’ as his video links on Twitter are starting to take on a life of their own.

There’s not too much else to say today. I have genuine excitement about the game but, at the same time, it is tinged with an uneasy feeling of awkwardness.

Not about Wales winning – although if the reaction is anything like Gareth Bale’s pre-match mind games that will be horrific. Max Boyce and Manic Street Preachers all over the radio; Welsh footballing icons such as Vinnie Jones and Robbie Savage giving it large. Possibly.

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Vinnie Jones – Welsh

Should they win then it will, no doubt, be deserved. Likewise, congratulations offered. But they won’t win.

The awkwardness isn’t even the underlying worry that, with French Police ready to wield the tear gas and Ingerland supporters displaying their penchant for bawling out God Save The Queen in Town Squares, something is going to give. And then UEFA are gong have to make an unpopular decision one way or the other.

No. It’s something worse than that. With an England game just hours away, the ‘alleged’ supporters band will be tuning up and polishing their French horns.

Nobody wants anymore violence, that’s for sure. But if I hear ‘that band’ doing their thing then I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

Nick Bruzon

ITV almost nail it on a stunning first night. Almost…

11 Jun

EURO 2016 has begun! What a night in Paris as things finally got under way with the hosts taking on Romania. Over the next four weeks, the Last Word goes a touch continental. Well, as continental as you can from a sofa in front of the TV in Brentford. Much as I’d love to be joining the likes of Billy and Dave from Beesotted in France, this is as close as it gets. I’ll leave the Russian hooligans, drunken England fans, Marseille ultras and reactive police to them ( their site is sure to be a very interesting place over the next few weeks). Instead, as ever, we look as much at ‘the other stuff’ as the serious

7pm, Friday night. Here we go. It’s an hour until kick off. Beer in hand, sofa groaning and remote control in hand. ITV, here we come….

But no. It wasn’t football. With the tournament due to start in 59 minutes, instead of Gallic charm I got Emmerdale Farm. Instead of Glen Hoddle I had a drunk driving a JCB into a farm house, followed by some shouting from the woman who used to be Lizzie Conlon in Dream Team.

Wow. People actually watch this for pleasure? Where was Clive Tyldesley when we needed him?

Fifteen minutes later, ITV finally delivered. The mayhem of farming life was replaced by a sumptuous set of opening credits featuring many of the tournament’s big names and Wayne Rooney, vacationing in a series of 20’s style tourism posters.

Buffon was juggling in the kitchen and we even got a cheeky wink from Cristiano Ronaldo in his, brackets free, number 7(seven) sports car.

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Ronaldo looking sharp on ITV

And that was just the start.

Cut from there to the slightly less salubrious image of Lee Dixon, Slaven Bilić and Emmanuel Petit. ITV having chosen to switch the traditional studio for a Paris roof top to begin their outside broadcast. Albeit with a wonderful backdrop.

Considering the rain that had gripped the French Capital in recent weeks, it was a brave choice. Moreso given the reaction offered to anybody in football seen within 10 yards of an umbrella.

Since Steve McClaren did his ‘wally with the brolly’ thing for England against Croatia back in 2007, being seen to protect yourself from the elements has been an act akin to being caught with the Super Victor toy in your hand luggage.

ITV had adopted for a pundit’s table that had four legs meant to resemble those of the city’s most famous landmark. A lovely touch until Bilić sat directly in front of it, giving him the appearance of Eiffel Tower legs.

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Wonderful backdrop; strange trousers

Cut to the Tower itself, where roving reporters Louis Saha and tennis player Marion Bartoli seemed in what could politely be described as ‘high spirits’. “Allez Les Bleus” exhorted the former Wimbledon champion, in a performance that suggested she may share Maria Sharapova’s medical team. Hey, let’s just say they were both high on life or just drinking in what was clearly an incredible atmosphere.

13 minutes prior to kick off the opening ceremony started. Started! They should have been packing up by this point, not tempting Clive to utter lines such as “The French are famous for their kisses” as an anthropomorphic pair of lips sauntered past the camera.

The central prop, a carousel, was odds-on to have a big reveal. Sure enough, as the can can girls moved on it opened to present none other than Emmanuel Petit, who must have hot footed it down from the ITV rooftop . But no, on closer inspection it was actually Disc Jockey David Guetta, singing along to the songs he was ‘playing’. As one Twitter observer notes, “Where’s Sacha Distel?

The sheer volume of the home support sining the national anthem and a stunning fly past from the French Air Force really were the cherry on this opening ceremony cake. All we needed was Diana Ross, or perhaps Vanessa Paradis, to miss a penalty for a bingo ‘full house’.

They hadn’t even begun clearing up wit the players came out for the anthems but, incredibly, we were go for ‘8pm’. And then Glen Hoddle opened his mouth.

All the good work ITV had done came crashing down in an instant. Not even a wonderful game of football – and what a winner from Dimitri Payet at the death – could detract for his ongoing banality. The commentating equivalent of the England Supporter’s band. I’d rather have had Lizzie Conlon’s ranting.

Having jettisoned Adrain Chiles, its a shame they still persist with the one time England manager. Perhaps its just me.

A great start to a great tournament but with ITV again tonight for the England – Russia game, let’s hope Wayne proves me wrong and Glenn keeps as quiet as I’d love that band to be.

Nick Bruzon 

Can we learn anything from the sharp Blades?

8 Jun

Mention the name Sheffield United and most Brentford fans will likely be taken back to ‘that’ game at Bramall Lane in 2013. Others might think of the great Bob Booker –  cult hero at both the Bees and the Blades over a career the stretched from 1978 to the 1993. And when it comes to on field matters, there’s also the fact that both teams play in red and white stripes.

Likewise, as the other Sheffield club they are automatically disassociated from the alleged supporters’ band who blight games at both Hillsborough and those involving the national side. We covered that off yesterday (thanks, Wednesday) – it’s here if you are feeling masochistic.

And they were the ones involved when Keith Stroud decided to ‘go rogue’ – even by his standards – as we reached the denouement of the 2012/13 season. Three red cards (two for the Bees), four penalties and more yellows than a Coldplay tour in a game which eventually ended 2-2.

We all know what happened after that. Bournemouth secured ‘automatic’ whilst Brentford had to get a win in the final game against promotion rivals Doncaster. I forget what happened next, exactly. If only somebody had mentioned it afterwards (Clem, I’m looking at you) or recorded the moment for posterity, but I’m pretty sure there was some sort of incident in the penalty box.

But the real reason for mentioning Sheffield united today is because they’ve just launched their new home shirt for the 2016/17 season. It is a return to the red and white stripes after the 125 year anniversary special worn last campaign. And like Brentford, the Blades use Adidas as a technical sponsor.

The launch, which took place in front of a select group of competition winning supporters , has now been published all over the Internet. And it has immediately forced yours truly into thinking if we could see some clues in the template to worn by the Bees next season ?

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Can we read anything into the new Sheffield United shirt?

What do you think? A stone cold classic or somewhat of an abhorration? Would you be happy to see the Bees running out wearing this template?

Somewhat reminiscent of our own effort from 2004 with the black shoulder bars, might we wear similar? Or is this bespoke to United?

I have no clue. Like the rest of us, I’m going to have to wait until late July to find out. No amount of prodding kitman Bob on Twitter is making him blab. Although if Mark Devlin is reading ( you never know) here’s another club getting the fans involved in their launch….

Its going to be a long month. Thank goodness the Euros are now upon us.

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The Bees have had black shoulders before

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, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ 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.

Roll on Friday, despite an unsavoury presence

7 Jun

Roll on Friday. EURO 2016 can’t come soon enough. Such is the dearth of Brentford related news and, in equal measure, anticipation for this most hotly contested of tournaments that not even Friday’s opener between France and Romania being on ITV has dampened the enthusiasm. Even the news of the alleged England supporter’s band being present (shakes fist angrily at Sheffield Wednesday supporters) hasn’t detracted any .

On the domestic front we’ve had nothing more than the ‘fake’ fixture list and more rumours about Jake Bidwell leaving Griffin Park for Loftus Road to keep us entertained these last few days. Please note – your definition of ‘entertained’ may vary. Much in the way the England supporters band might have been said to have ‘entertained’ locals with their moribund parping and jingoistic greatest hits.

Sorry – but I can’t stand them. You’ll find better atmospheres in a decompression chamber. Who, honestly, thinks a game is enhanced by their unwanted presence? Who honestly thinks any game is helped by hearing the theme tunes from ‘The Great Escape’ or ‘The Italian Job’ repeated ad-nauseam,  but not quite as you remember them? Not even ITV are that bad that they need their commentary team soundtracked by an off key version of the national anthem or 7 nation army. Something so cringeworthy that I won’t even dignify it with brackets.

With high profile sometime member Bernie Clifton boosted by a public renaissance following his appearance on TV’s ‘The Voice’ and then that album mix up with popular music’s Death Metal ensemble ‘Abhorrent Decimation’ – their track listing having been accidentally printed on the back of his recent ‘long player’  – could we see even more of this outfit than ever before?

I’m assuming Bernie is still part of this awful combo. Much like their setlist, they don’t appear to have actually updated their website since 2014.

Band banned

That. Band. Banned

Much as an early exit for England will see the country distraught, the only slight benefit would be a simultaneous departure for that band.Frankly, I’d rather listen to Abhorrent Decimation. FA, if you are reading this (you aren’t) they don’t represent the vast majority of supporters.

As it happens, England are going to top their group. An opening game draw with Russia will be followed by victories over Wales and Slovakia, giving Roy’s boys 7 (seven) points out of a possible 9.

From there, they play ACD3. That’s not, infact, a really poor covers band but the third place team out of those groups. With C and D already looking like the proverbial groups of death, could it be all over by June 25? Or will England be cruising past the likes of A’s Switzerland, Romania or Albania into the quarterfinals?

Only time will tell, of course. With this tournament being one of the most open in years, the last 16 could see some intriguing match ups and big names falling. The heart says England to win it but the head is still backing Germany. Purely because I see so many tight games going to  penalties and we just all know what happens there.

Back to the Bees, my own pre-season focus (until the proper fixture list comes out) remains on the new kit release. All we know so far is that it is in, that the club are working with a new sponsor, that both ‘home and away’ will be released on July 23rd and that ‘green’ is not involved. This time around.

Chief executive Mark Devlin dropped a further hint on Twitter last night, saying that :

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 05.58.19

new sponsor. A ‘marketed’ launch (come on, video…..)

I’ve mentioned the infamous Blackburn video before (#Birdysdate on Twitter should help you find this). Here’s hoping we are going down a similar route i.e. of trying some sort of video launch and, certainly, something different. It’s going to be a painful enough wait as it is – let’s hope it’s worth our while . I have no doubt it will….

Until then, of course, we’ve got that month of International football to look forward to. I cannot wait for it all to start on Friday night.

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, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by ‘that band’ 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.

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’

 

 

mexico-home-football-shirt-1996-1998-s_3660_1

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.

 

 

 

hibernian-home-football-shirt-1989-1990-s_11221_1

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.

 

 

 

 

palmeiras-home-football-shirt-1979-1980-s_10742_1

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.

 

As one door closes, another opens

14 May

Friday was a day of both sadness and celebration. On the down side, shocked fans and families were coming to terms with the announcement about the Brentford Academy ‘restructure’ .The positive of the day, certainly on a personal note, was the admission of Gibraltar (along with Kosovo) into FIFA. On pitch, Sergi Canos could make a shock Liverpool debut whilst it is advantage Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship play-off with Brighton.

First up, the Academy. Today’s column is not to criticise the club for this decision. Putting aside the huge emotional aspect for the individuals involved, one can only assume this isn’t one that they have taken lightly. Or at least, I hope not.

The Academy was much heralded as part of our future model upon opening. It was a set up that, rightly, all at Brentford FC  seemed proud of. The supporters and community, likewise.

And now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it is all over.

Having read and re-read the somewhat wooly ‘official statement’ I’m still not 100% clear as to the full reasoning or, certainly, why it was made so quickly. Likewise, how the alternative will work in terms of finding players?

Cost, lack of end product, viability, competition and a belief that alternate methods will work better all seem to be contributory with the financials being the primary driver on that first part. Certainly if you are to read lines such as :

We cannot outspend the vast majority of our competitors

and

Moreover, the development of young players must make sense from a business perspective. The review has highlighted that, in a football environment where the biggest Premier League clubs seek to sign the best young players before they can graduate through an Academy system, the challenge of developing value through that system is extremely difficult.”

So what has suddenly changed?

There wasn’t a hint of a mention when Rasmus gave his ‘state of the nation’ video address prior to the Huddersfield Town game. Likewise, as has been well identified on social media, the club even paraded some ‘future Bees’ on the pitch at half time in the 3-0 win over Fulham. That was just two weeks ago.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 06.51.38

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

I cannot for one second believe we would be so heartless as to do that to our youth. Whilst the parade of the Under 8-s has an unfortunate reminder of Marinus being put in front of the fans where we were told everything was going well, before being sacked just days later, this leak (along with the subsequent statement) has more than a whiff of Village-gate.

Equally, how do the press get hold of these internal stories? Why are our ‘official statements’ so poorly written? Is somebody purposely leaking this information to do our dirty work for us and, almost, prepare fans for the worst ?

Like it or not, this is a decision the club have made. I’m just desperately hoping that we have some form of follow up to further clarify matters. The press love a ‘bad news’ story whilst supporters are upset. As Bob Hoskins so famously said, “It’s good to talk“.

OK – Gibraltar. Exciting news !! UEFA’s Team 54 are now Team 211 in FIFA after football’s world governing body last night accepted their application to join by an overwhelming majority. Members at the annual congress in Mexico City (it’s never Blackpool or Grimsby) voted 172 – 12 to allow them in. Presumably 11 others going (again) with Spain in voting ‘against’.

Understandably , if not quite “dancing on the streets of Raith” , social media was awash with excitement, celebration and congratulations for FIFA’s newest member. Whilst there is now hope that Gibraltar can be parachuted into one of the World Cup qualifying groups for Russia 2018 before that kicks off, I’m just pleased to have a ‘feel good’ story coming out of FIFA.

Congratulations Gibraltar. Here’s to that first qualifying point. See you in ……?

Gibraltar bots and bag

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start life as FIFA team 211.

And on the subject of ‘feel good’, could Sergi Canos make his Anfied debut on Sunday as the Premier League season comes to an end? With Liverpool taking part in the Europa League final against Sevilla on Wednesday evening, I’d imagine that Jürgen Klopp may make ‘a couple’ of changes for the weekend’s game with West Brom.

I’m still desperately hoping that Sergi comes back to Griffin Park next season (one can only live in hope) but I’d love to see how he goes in the top flight. It was a privilege to watch Sergi’s career blossom at Griffin Park and he certainly ended the season on fire. The Premier League title and relegation have been decided but there may still be more intrigue to come.

Next up, Sheffield Wednesday. They lead Brighton 2-0 after the first leg of their play-off semi final. I only know that from reading the Internet. Having  turned on to watch after Coronation Street had finished (don’t ask) I turned promptly off.

Being greeted by ‘That band’ massacring ‘Oldham’s song’ will do that to you.

This summer’s  EURO 2016 finals could make painful viewing.

And finally, a HUGE thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). These are both available now.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 05.02.22

Goal of the season winner Sergi (and Gibraltar) both feature

Nick Bruzon