Tag Archives: England

Here’s hoping a change in garb sees a change in form.

19 Oct

Phew. We’re back. International break has been and gone in a cloud of mixed results (England going down to Czech Republic and Gibraltar almost pulling off the mother of all come backs against Georgia) aswell as those awful ‘off-field’ scenes in Bulgaria. Domestically, Brentford have officially launched the special shirt that will be worn today at home to Millwall whilst Leeds United have followed suit with their centenary effort for the visit of Birmingham City. Something that is as stylish as it is impressive – mainly because it sees them kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon rather than at a time dictated by their Sky Sports overlords.

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Today is the day

First up, Griffin Park. Obviously. It seems an eternity since the 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest. Thank goodness. Primarily because it was about as turgid a performance as it is possible to see. From both sides. The teams were set up to cancel each other out and boy did they do that. A defensive glitch seeing the hosts take their chance when it came in an encounter that really put the stale into stalemate. 

The only lasting memory to take from that one being the long-term knee injury suffered by Sergi Canos. Boooo. That’ll happen though when the man-in-the-middle offers no protection to anybody and leaves his cards back in the Forest changing room. Urghh. Referees. Still, at least with Stuart Attwell at the helm today, we can be sure of quality decision making and consistency from the man in black. 

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Man in black, assuming he runs out in the traditional grab of course. Who could forget that it is Brentford rather than Millwall who are the ones who will be in blue today? The reason for that being to mark our first-ever victory at Griffin Park, back in October 1904. The 2-0 win agasit Millwall Athletic being the first time the Bees had genuinely deserved to win a home game and the shirt being worn today is designed to pay homage to that occassion. Let’s hope its not the last time we win a home game prior to leaving for Lionel Road at the end of the season.

Whatever your thoughts on this one (and I DO love it), it seems to have made rapid progress off the shelves. The limited edition boxes that came with the initial orders have already cleared out as fans pick up this uber-smart, and sponsor free, variant on our home colours.

For those baulking at the price (£60 for an adult shirt) look positive – at least it isn’t the £149 that Leeds United have charged supporters for their own centenary effort to be worn in today’s game against Birmingham City. My word, it IS lovely but that’s a sum of money even yours truly would have had to say no to. HOW can they justify it? How can fans afford it? I couldn’t. You could buy three or four away tickets at Elland Road for that price. Yet, the limited run of 1919 sold out in minutes and is now retailing on eBay for anything between £400-£2000. Not that they have any bids but at some point somebody will crack. Possibly.  

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Good luck with that…

Still, we digress. Back in West London, we’ll be facing a Millwall side who no longer have Neil Harris in charge following the manager’s shock resignation at the beginning of the month. He is a man as linked with the Lions as Harchester United and that toe-curling ‘run out’ song / goal music about jellied eels i.e. intrinsically. 

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Harchester United – did ‘The Den’ proud.

As such, his departure was news that caught everybody cold. The club moved quickly to put Adam Barrett, who had initially joined as a first team development coach, into the caretaker’s hot seat.

True to form in such situations, he immediately recorded a win – against Leeds United of all teams. Yet with the ‘caretaker first game victory’ out of the way (a result as predictable as Brentford in the play-offs or the curse of  ‘manager-of-the-month) , does this now open things up for us?

Whilst we are missing our talismanic Spaniard, the Lions have their own headaches. The first of which being the absence of goalkeeper Frank Fielding, injured in the aforementioned game with Leeds. As a Bees fan, I’m shedding no tears here – he’s quality. Except, perhaps, in that it means we’ve one less chance to pull the Big Book of Middlesex Chronicle 80’s alliteration from the shelf. Fielding foiling us from a free kick being one  line that can’t be used today.

The big question being who is going to be pulling the trigger today? If not from dead balls then certainly open play? 7(seven) goal Ollie Watkins, pressed into a role as emergency front man but filling his boots in the Championship goal scorer charts? Or more traditional striker Nikos Karelis? Nick the Greek yet to start a game since joining the Bees but now starting to put in the appearances from the bench as he picks up fitness. 

We love Ollie in our house. Almost as much as Sergi and Pontus. Personally speaking, I’m well happy if he continues in this position and I fully expect he will. However, it is genuinely intriguing to see what Nikos might do when given a bit more than a fifteen minute cameo to chase a game. Is he the next Neal Maupay? Might he be another Nick Proschwitz ? (yes, that DID happen). Or is he just emergency cover until Halil Dervisoglu rocks up in January? Whichever way he goes, there’s only one way to find out and that’s not by getting splinters in your arse. Roll on that moment of returning to full fitness so he can have a decent stab at seeing which way this one will transpire.

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Here’s to a few more of these later today

Elsewhere, the time away from these pages has seen Euro 2020 qualifiers dominate the headlines. England went down in the Czech Republic but put matters right against Bulgaria a few days later, coming one short of administering the brackets that go with a 7(seven) goal scoreline. As we are all well aware however, the result is the last thing anybody will remember from this game. The stomach turning sight and sounds of fascism and racism from the home support being images that are indelibly engrained on the memory.

Nobody needs a lecture from me on this – and you aren’t going to get one. We ALL know how vile this is whilst the way English conducted themselves does need to be applauded. Next stop, UEFA. And FIFA. Will the authorities have the balls to actually do something credible for once? Or will it be yet another pointless slap on the wrist? I pray for the former and fear the latter. Let’s see what happens…

On a more positive finish, Gibraltar lost in their qualifying group. Again. However, much as in the narrow 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland, it was a game that saw them playing out of their skin to come ‘oh so close’ against higher ranked opponents. This time, the visitors were Georgia who despite racing in to a 2-0 first half lead, saw parity restored before snatching a late, late winner at the Runway end of the Victoria Stadium. 

Yet rather than heartbreak for the boys for The Rock, it was a performance that should be viewed with immense positivity. Primarily because it was one of the most attacking displays I’ve seen them put in . Rather than ten men behind the ball and a series of stat building sideways/backwards passes, they pushed forward. With intent. The second period in particular seeing them put in a shift that caused even Mrs. Bruzon to note ‘They’re faster than Brentford’. I’m taking that as a compliment . Even at 3-2 down, they kept going and almost rescued a Euro 2020 Group D qualifying point.

It wasn’t to be, this time. It’s coming though. From small acorns…..

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Two Chipolinas. There’s only two Chipolinas. (and two Casciaros, two Hernandez’…)

Nick Bruzon

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Bring it on! Championship action is back.

14 Sep

Preston boss Alex Neil faces a raft of injury concerns ahead of Brentford’s visit to Deepdale…… Not my words but those of the BBC big match preview this morning and, with the greatest respect to our hosts, great news for the travelling Bees. After the interminable wait through international break following the humping of Derby County – a period punctuated by the obvious results of double victory for England along with twin defeats for Gibraltar & Scotland (sorry, JJ) – we’re back to the important stuff. Championship action. And, as ever, I can’t wait.

There’s something quite special about that moment you wake up and, as the fog clears, realising that it’s a weekend. For most of us, there’s no mad rush to get ready for the school run. No stress of having to go to work for the day. No commuter hell to fight through just to face all manner of other challenges once you reach the office.

Instead, waking up can be done at leisure. Lie ins can be enjoyed – yours truly had the luxury of 7(seven)am today. Fantasy football teams can be prepared, BBC match previews read and blogs written. The morning can be eased in to. Until the mad rush to get ready for Harry’s football club begins. But it’s fun. It’s relaxing. Mrs B is asleep and H is yet to surface. A rare moment of stolen tranquility before the fun starts. 

And that’s all before train rides North and the proper action scan be served up where this afternoon we have Preston v Brentford as our dish of the day. I’m really excited about this one. We’ve already kicked last season’s away day blues in to touch with the win on the road at Middlesbrough. Last time out at Griffin Park was magnificent. Derby County were trounced in a game that saw us really unfortunate not to extend the 3-0 lead that had been built at half-time. 

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Raining (goals) last time out, against Derby County.

Brentford really were scintillating with the team looking solid at the back and irrepressible going forward. Wing back Sergi Canos a joy to behold. Bryan Mbuemo a new hero in the making. Ollie Watkins making centre-forward look more and more comfortable a role with each passing goal.

Then there was Saïd Benrahma – a player who seems to have a permanent smile on the face and one who has the ability to pass it on to the supporters, too. Words cannot say how pleased I am that we’ve retained the mercurial wide man. Consolidating our form and position over the next few months will be crucial to retaining his services, one would presume, as the top flight can only be his inevitable home. Fingers crossed it will be with Brentford.

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Just a few men of the moment. 

Getting ahead of ourselves, perhaps, but one needs to aim high. It’s part of being a football fan. One of the many reasons we come . The expectation. The hope. Yes, there’s the social side too. Something that is more prevalent on those wonderful away days we get to experience in the Champinship. “Why are you leaving at 9am” asks Mrs Bruzon, “when the game doesn’t kick off until 3?”. She is yet to experience playing away and so doesn’t understand that the 90 minutes of on-pitch time are often the least enjoyable of the day.It’s as much about meeting your friends sharing that train ride, discovering a new pub in a new town and ticking another stadium off the list. The football itself is another bonus added to a great day out with your mates. Especially when there’s a win at the end of this.

And today, Preston is the place. This one won’t be easy, despite their own apparent injury concerns. Even at this early stage in proceedings the Deepdale outfit find themselves separated from the play-off zone by nothing more than goal difference. It is a  position they will no doubt expect to consolidate after three wins out of three in the league (Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan). Yet Brentford are no slouches. We’ve seen the team really start to find their feet as we adjust to the loss of Neal Maupay and the acquisitions of those new faces. Derby County was the quintessential demonstration that Thomas Frank has the tools at his disposal. How he uses them today will be key.

Thankfully, injury is not something that will trouble him. Whilst we had nobody on England duty (one day…one day), those who did represent their countries have come back healthy. And hopefully not too tired ! With England scoring goals for fun – and shipping them too – supporters went home happy after the victories over Bulgaria and Kosovo last week. We won’t overly dwell on Gibraltar v Denmark and Switzerland, where the ‘shipping’ was our main issue.

The point being that it was still enjoyable. But it was still England qualifying. A largely redundant exercise for those seeking a competitive edge given the size of the groups, the amounts of teams who can get through and the quality of those playing. Give me the Championship any day of the week. At least until the tournament proper kicks off in 2020.

Until then, here’s to Preston away. Enjoy…..

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Supporters enjoy watching England win at Wembley

Nick Bruzon

Near brackets, no Dalsgaard, shirt news and a Bee appears in France…

6 Sep

My word. Who’d be an actual journalist for a living at times like these? What do you talk about when there’s nothing to talk about? Apart from trawling Twitter or making rumours up. Thank goodness for the blogger’s ability to pick up, and put down, the keyboard as and when the feeling takes hold. To be able to play around with photoshop, on an ad-hoc basis,  just for the fun of doing so. Another International break symptomised this perfectly with last week’s humping of Derby County already feeling an eternity away. Instead,  primary focus in our house now being on Gibraltar. They restarted football proceedings for us last night and ended up one shy of a home bracketing against Denmark. It was a game which saw the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford start on the bench. England have their own run out on Saturday against, well I don’t even know being honest. Without checking. Looks at internet – Bulgaria.  It is the easiest qualifying system since records began in a tournament that it is practically impossible for any team with pretensions of ‘being any good’ not to make the final rounds. Even Scotland are still in with a chance at present. Mathematically.  Back on the club scene we’ve talk of the Kurupt FM Brentford away shirt aswell as an overseas appearance for our fan engagement office, Ryan Murrant, Plus the latest on The Last Word Fantasy Football tournament.

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Gibraltar packed their boots for another Euro qualifier…

First up, Euro 2020. Regular readers may be aware of the family connection that sees yours truly focus on Gibraltar whenever an International opportunity presents itself. As ever, the Sky Sports smudge button was pressed as the boys from the Rock had their latest run out on Thursday. That is, the Gibraltar first team rather than Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage although, to be honest the home side could have done with the aforementioned A-listers to break in to the Danish defence. 

Whilst any Bees fans tuning in for a look at Dalsgaard would have been disappointed by his absence, such was the impression made by visitors Denmark that even had he started, opportunities to see our man in action would have been slim to zero. An early goal against. A dubious penalty just after half time and it was game over. Well 6-0 saw it technically game over at full time but it was never really game on. There was to be no close run battle with illustrious visitors as had been seen when the Republic of Ireland came to play. Instead, dreams of another notch on the victor’s bed post will need to remain a dream. For now. 

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If only…

As for England, well of course we’ll be watching. The Griffin have the game on the big screen for those wanting to try and recreate that incredible World Cup atmosphere. Albeit, a group of five teams where the top two go through by default doesn’t have quite the same level of jeapordy as 2018’s penalty shoot out. But one can’t deny these occasions are always fun and, if nothing else, its always a great opportunity to get out at a time when we are starved of a Championship fixture. I really can’t see anything beyond an England win in this one. The days of the international surprise, at least in qualifying, are few and far between these days. As Gibraltar know too well. Perhaps Scotland will prove us wrong this evening. Stranger things have happened…..

The Griffin and England football – always awesome

With no on-pitch action at present, the major talking point at Griffin Park has been the much rumoured Kurupt FM take on the away shirt.

Screenshot 2019-09-06 at 16.28.48I took a wander past the club earlier this week and spoke to a very well connected source who suggested that a shirt is most definitely coming . And all being well, next month. 

This is cracking news and the line to pick these beauties up is sure to be a long one. Especially as I understand that we’ve already run out of adult M and L away shirts (albeit more are on order so stand by your metaphorical guns, Ecoworld fans).

Next up, Ryan Murrant. We all know about our Fan Engagement manager’s social media presence and his wonderful role at the club . About the gold award for Family Excellence given to Brentford last season. But what about the man himself?

Well, if you’d like to know more (to coin a phrase we’ve not used in a while) then how about this piece on French website ’fanstriker’ . It’s in depth and then some but paints a fascinating picture on behind the scenes life at Griffin Park. Enjoy…

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And finally, Fantasy Football. We’re now four weeks in to The Last Word FF league. Four rounds are down and only one player, Simon Burns, is left with a 100% record after the weekly head to head games. Remember, there’s a shirt for the winner so keep those transfers coming and those teams fresh.  

And if Ryan is reading, that’s fiftieth (50th) place so far for his own ‘Enter Team Name’. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint…..

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Nick Bruzon

New signing ‘in’ and a look back at High Street shopping after horror kit reveal.

3 Jul

Sound the ‘incoming’ transfer klaxon. Brentford have confirmed the signing of centre back Ethan Pinnock from Barnsley. The player joined on Tuesday afternoon for a fee that is being widely suggested by local news sources as close to £3m. Elsewhere, Stevenage have launched their home and away kits with their somewhat unusual selections being met with widespread derision. Aswell as a suggestion that they have adopted a motif first set by Brighton & Hove Albion. And in the Women’s World Cup, there’s been horror for England – of more than one variety.

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First up, Ethan Pinnock. The news was revealed yesterday via, amongst other announcements, a somewhat ‘low key’ video reveal. No puffs of smoke, crazy graphics, jingles, cringey hashtags or foreign getaways – just a slow pan across the training ground to a distant shot of our latest acquisition. This can only be a good thing. Both the player and the sensible use of social media. 

He certainly has pedigree and was one of the players of 2018/19 as Barnsley secured a return to the Championship. The club’s player of the year, he had a hand in keeping 21 clean sheets aswell as being named in the PFA team of the season. 

Thomas Frank praised his aerial ability and left foot whilst Director of football Phil Giles told official that, “ The centre back position is an area we clearly needed to strengthen this summer, since both Chris Mepham and Yoann Barbet have left the Club in the last six months without replacement. Ethan fits the bill perfectly and follows a long tradition of good players who have chosen to join Brentford from League One and League Two. We welcome him to the Club and wish him every success”.

This certainly reads like a positive signing which will strengthen a defence that is also missing a goalkeeper after Daniel Bentley joined Bristol City. Presumably more news to come on that front at some point in the near future. Then again, Brentford being Brentford I wouldn’t hold my breath for anything anymore. One thing we continue to do is surprise with our transfer policy – both in and out. The only consistent thing being that, by and large, it is one which has seen us keep on improving as seemingly irreplaceable players are replaced for a fraction of the price.

Anyway, you can read the full story here and f you want to follow Ethan on Twitter he is at @EasyEatss.

Next up, new kit. As Bees fans wait for the 2019/20 away shirt to launch (come on, brown), we’ve been able to turn our attention elsewhere as more and more clubs offer up their latest designs into the public eye. Stevenage were amongst those going yesterday and, it would be fair to say, that theirs has not been well received. As a quick glance to the ‘reveal’ on social media will testify .

My word. Amongst those comments to really hit home were :

“Worst kit in the clubs history”, 

“Worst kit in football history tbh’, 

“Home kit looks like that sheet they put on the Burger King trays”  

“This has to be a joke surely”.

”Burger King as a sponsor and it looks like someone’s thrown mustard and ketchup all over the away kit.”

Although my personal favourite was…

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That was, until, Darren Thompson did his thing and pretty much nailed it.

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If for no other reason than it immediately put me in mind of Brighton and Hove Albion and one of their most iconic shirts – the 1989-91 effort produced by Sports Express. Much like the Stevenage Kwik Save now does, this was one of the first to model itself on a High Street carrier bag – the infamous Tesco design. 

Brighton Tesco carrier bag shirt 1989-91

Must.Resist.Deliberate ‘Tesco bag / shirt (l-r)’ caption mix up

That said, Brighton and Norwich aren’t the only club to have taken inspiration from the shops. Back at the same time as the Seagulls were doing the Tesco thing, Norwich City were aiming a little bit more upmarket.

Their own Asics ‘away’ shirt one which very much put one in mind of a Waitrose delivery van whilst, of course, who could forget the (incorrect) B&Q  / Sainsburys references inspired by our beautiful brown and orange last season?

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

All this does make me somewhat wary about what is going to happen whenever our own change option is revealed. There’s no way we can top 2019/20. Instead, it’s simply a case of crossing the fingers and waiting for Kitman Bob and Umbro to do their thing.

Last night also saw the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup. England went down 2-1 to the USA, in a game that was, frankly, ruined by two things. Frist up, as ever, ‘that band’. Despite the sell out in Lyon, they were still allowed in – as they’ve been in all games previously – to sour the atmosphere with their moribund and off-key parping. Why? Why? Why? How? Regular readers to these pages know the rant off by heart at this juncture, I’m sure. But wit apologies for laziness, I’m going to repeat one of several variants.

I’m not going to mince any words here. I loathe them. Absolutely loathe them. When the Mexican Wave or Robbie Williams singing ‘Let me Entertain You’ (which you can find on: Now that’s what I call Stadium music, also featuring: ‘We Are The Champions’) have the moral high ground in the low brow sporting tedium stakes then there’s something seriously wrong.  

Given the choice of being gaffer-taped to a chair and subjected to them or Mrs. Brown’s Boys, I honestly think I’d have to side with Brendan O’Carroll performing his toe-curlingly unfunny Irish mammy/man in a cardigan routine. But enough about my private life.

Nobody is celebrating this news

Seriously? Who actually likes them? Who goes to a game thinking that their experience is going to be enhanced by the alleged band of England’s alleged supporters? This self-appointed bunch of footballing cuckoos in the nest. These tedious purveyors of off-key tromboning, repeating those ‘greatest hits ad-nauseaum. I’ve written it before – many times – and will no doubt do so again in future.

What this match needs to liven it up right now is some flaccid parping and a whiny rendition of ‘The theme from the Great Escape’, ‘The Italian Job’ or the National Anthem” Said Nobody. Ever.

So I was already in a bad place by the time VAR killed any remaining atmosphere stone dead. Talk about sucking the emotion, the passion and the excitement out of the game. A series of prolonged second half decisions , both of which were marginal at best, eventually denied England a hair’s breadth equaliser and then granted a soft looking penalty. Both were inconclusive. Both took an eternity. Both were wrong. Both killed the game. England deserved at least the draw. This time around, they had the ball in the et that would have given them that prize. Instead, another step was taken towards the beautiful game being slowly suffocated. Stop it now. Please.

And finally, as ever, I’d be hugely grateful if you were able to please download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to The Community Sports Trust anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.  

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How do you break a five year old’s heart? And how does he react ?

12 Jul

5.30am Oh, football. We should be joyous, sporting and full of pride at a team that nobody really fancied prior to the tournament making it all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup. And I am. All of that. But let’s not pretend that after watching England go down 2-1 to Croatia (aet) it doesn’t also feel like the most numbing punch to the gut. Moreso given the one-way traffic of a first half where Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick from the heart of Saunders territory gave supporters an early lead that suggested that the final was in sight. Worse, I’ve got to break a little boy’s heart shortly. HB, normally accustomed to watching Brentford, has invested all his emotional eggs in this England team basket. As a special treat on a school night he was allowed out to watch the first half. He went to bed with the score 1-0 and the game heading in only one direction.

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Watching the replay of THAT free kick. Yessssss

 Let’s not also pretend that the better team didn’t win. Croatia deserved it last night. They accelerated their game in the second half after surviving a pummelling that by all medical logic should have seen them dead on their feet. Attack after attack being broken up by cynical challenge after cynical challenge. Only the referee’s leniency / incompetence keeping them with the regulation 11 players when the teams went in for their half time cuppa. Only a combination of great defending, poor finishing and the linesman’s flag keeping the score at 1-0 to England. Kieran Trippier’s quite delightful free-kick to the top right corner after just five minutes being the difference between the two teams. At least on paper.

HB went back home to bed. “Daddy. Wake me up when you get in and tell me the score” he exhorted. Optimism coursing through his veins and, to be fair, one could understand why. If England had looked in cruise control against Sweden at the weekend after going one up, this seemed to have them in turbo mode. He had already shown me the space on the World Cup wall chart alongside France where he’d be adding England’s name after the game. And then Croatia accelerated. Harry’s sleep remained unbroken. I couldn’t do it to him.

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There’s a big job to do later today. Be strong.

Oh, football. We should be proud. We are. Yet having got so close one can’t deny the genuine disappointment. Can’t deny what a quite wonderful opportunity it was. What an exhilarating moment was unfolding before us. A packed pub, sitting in the shadow of Brentford football club, all pulling together and slowly having their collective hearts broken.

My own take on it at half time was that “This is quite magnificent. But it is also like watching International Brentford.” Chance after chance. Domination on a global scale. A one goal lead but that awful, awful feeling in the darkest recesses of the mind. The feeling that it only takes a second to score a goal and then things would be level on paper. That ultimately, despite all the possession a team may have, balls in the back of the net are the only stat which counts.

Then the second half happened. Then extra time happened. It wasn’t collapse. Far from it. Just an almost inevitable turning of the screw as pressure slowly built and Croatia started to play. If you want the proper facts then the BBC is your place. Go to a reputable website.

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There aren’t many better locations to watch a game of football

For me (Clive) I know what I saw and it’ll stay there forever. A different feeling to Italia ’90 where the ruthless German machine were only ever expected to steamroller Bobby Robson’s boys. Instead, there was genuine belief this time around after Gareth Southgate had inspired a nation to believe.

And ultimately, I guess that’s what we need to take away from this. Winning would have been incredible. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet at the same time, this collective feeling of wellbeing, of optimism, of hope and of positivity inspired by one man in a waistcoat has been a quite magnificent thing to experience. And for being part of that I can only be truly grateful.

These last few weeks have been incredible. Heading into a tournament where many supporters were, understandably, not even willing to travel. Where the media had painted such a picture of impending horror – and that was just off the pitch. Where nobody gave England a hope on it. Instead, we have had the polar opposite. A team that people can take pride in. A team that have inspired us all.  A tournament that has only captivated from the off.      

So that’s my abiding memory. People united. Communities coming together. Strangers talking to each other. A nation taking pride once more after two years of bitter feuding and self-serving politicians have done their level best to tear us apart. England may have lost but there’s no doom or gloom. Just immense pride.

6.40am Gulp. This is it. HB is calling me. “Daddy. Can I get up? Did England win?“. I sit next to him and break the bad news that, unfortunately, they won’t be in the final. That Croatia played better and won, 2-1.

So we won’t be in the final, then?” he asks me, before adding “but does this mean we still get to see them on Saturday? And if we win that, THEN will we be in the final?

I have no answers here. There’s a deafening silence as he looks up, expectantly. Those big, brown eyes staring up at me and waiting to be told that England will still win the World Cup. The silence suddenly broken by Mrs. Bruzon’s alarm clock going off from the next door room.

“Daddy,” he says. “Mummy’s alarm is going off” and then bursts out laughing.

6.45am All I can hear from his room is “Come on, England. Come on, England”.

Nice one, Gareth!! 

Nick Bruzon

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The Griffin.This community vibe is just one of the things I’ll remember from the 2018 World Cup.

The jewels remain still gleaming, for now. Which England will we get? Which Billy will we get?

11 Jul

Could today be THE big one? The one we’ve all been waiting for? And for clarity, I don’t mean if we find out whether the Birmingham City transfer embargo story is confirmed. Likewise, what the next instalment of Peter Gilhams’s Brentford tour diary contains (the most recent edition is up, here). Of course, there’s nothing but talk of the World Cup and whether England can reach a first final since West Ham fans claim to have won the tournament back in 1966. In their way, Croatia. Already there, a France team who played out a quite thrilling semi-final with Belgium last night before running out 1-0 winners.

This is going to be something very special. Pub tables are booked and plans made for the evening. It’s 6.30am and already I’m hearing nothing but football as the lead story on the radio whilst the music is being interspersed with snippets of commentary. Roll With It – Jonathan Pearce remix? If you were listening to Matt Dyson and Dave Berry on Absolute radio early doors then that’s what you got. The phrase ‘Football’s coming home’ is everywhere. But will it? 

Well, whatever happens , let’s not forget Croatia have just as much right to be there as England. Will believe they have just as great an opportunity of taking on France in the final. If nothing else, they deserve huge praise just for having the balls to pose for ‘that’ page in the Panini sticker book. Presumably, the result of having lost some form of bet. Please, tell me this is the result of having lost some form of bet….  

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Croatia – first class action in the sticker book.

Then there’s the so-called ‘Curse of ITV’. With England having recorded only a second ever ‘Light channel’ World Cup win since 1998 following victory over Colombia in the second round, is that jinx broken? Or could the spectre of Glenn Hoddle still lean over Gareth Southgate’s team like some nonsense spouting harbinger of doom?

No chance. England are too strong. The mood too positive. The ‘lucky’ table in the pub already secured. England reaching the final is as likely as Billy The Bee appearing in front of a TV camera at some point during tonight’s proceedings. Hopefully face set to ‘ecstatic grin’ rather than’ groan of despair.’  One can’t knock his enthusiasm and passion for both football and England. His magnetic attraction to TV cameras. Those facial gymnastics are an incredible thing – does he have to practice in the bathroom mirror?

In all seriousness, how great to see a familiar Brentford face out there so often. Spreading good cheer and positivity. Helping us tick off our World Cup bingo cards each game. With Denmark’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford having finally departed the tournament after his own magnificent run, great work Billy on keeping us in the public eye.

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Which Billy will we get tonight?

Yet getting back to tonight’s game, the positivity aside will fatigue play a part in England’s favour? Whether physical or mental? Croatia have seen their last two games go all the way to extra time and then penalties. Whilst the prize at stake is a huge one, could they already be on the back foot? The margins between winning and losing are going to be infinitesimally small tonight and this may be one factor to England’s advantage.

Then again, we all expected Saturday against Sweden to be cagey yet once Harry Maguire opened the scoring the game really was one-way traffic. Even when the opposition did get in on goal, there was Jordan Pickford to keep them at bay.

I guess that all this goes to say is whilst I’m backing England, ultimately nobody can make an accurate prediction. In a tournament that has seen the likes of Germany and Argentina humbled, Spain go down in the second round and Brazil in the quarters – take nothing for granted. No one team has a divine right to win it. No one team can guarantee getting there. Obvious, perhaps, but this really is wide open. Whomever doesn’t lift that trophy will never have had a better chance to do so,  

For now, the jewels remain still gleaming. As somebody almost sang. England are alive. But so are France and Croatia. The only thing you can say for sure is that at the end of the day (Clive), a tournament that has done nothing but captivate and surprise is sure to still have a few tricks up her sleeve. And I cannot wait to find out what they are.

Roll on 7(seven) pm.

Nick Bruzon

This was something special…

8 Jul

What a day. What an afternoon. What a party long into the evening (for those of us who didn’t nod off briefly during extra time of the Russia game – move along, nothing to see here). Who’d have thought it? Did it really happen? Yes it bloody well did!! Liverpool hit brackets in a 7(seven) – 0 pre-season friendly. Oh, and England reached the semi-final of the World Cup. Elsewhere, hats off to the Brentford LGBT Bees who missed the game (at least on TV) to attend the Pride parade in London. Huge kudos there and great to see a special guest from Griffin Park.

However, and with the greatest respect to Liverpool, Chester and Brentford, there’s only one place to start. Unless you are a fan of Peter Gilham’s ever wonderful tour diary – day 1 is now up. Of course its England. It’s the World Cup. It’s a semi-final against Croatia. This, after Sweden were despatched in a style far more comfortable than anybody had a right to expect

We watched it in The Griffin. HB’s first proper World Cup match in that communal atmosphere. Wow. He’s hooked. “Daddy, daddy. That’s Young. He’s going to take the corner and we might get a goal.”  Sure enough, it happened. Harry Maguire powered home Ashley Young’s corner. With it, the pressure of a cagey first twenty minutes fell away and another example of why you should never take them short had been administered.

The game opened up. Another pint enjoyed. Chances came. England pushed. 1 up at half time. The semi-final in sight. Jordan Pickford performing heroics to keep England alive as Sweden looked for the equaliser. Then Dele Ali did his thing. Another header. 2-0. Half an hour to go. The finish line in sight? Surely this was in the bag? Landlord, a beer. I need something to calm the nerves.

Never in doubt. The moment of triumph was one met with another gigantic roar that echoed around Brook Road, Braemar Road and probably beyond Griffin Park. Only a third ever World Cup semi final for England in the entire history of football. For many young fans, their first ever. History unfolding before them. For others, the flashbacks to Italia 90 still seem as though they were just five minutes ago.

Fairplay to Sweden but this was something special. A wonderful moment to experience on both a footballing and a personal note. A son who has just turned five and taking all this in his stride. Totally absorbed by the football and telling me the players. Describing the match action. Shrieking with excitement at the prospect of England now being in the last four. Talking to people he’s never met before about a World Cup run that has captivated the nation.

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The Griffin. The moment…

Appreciate this is all a bit nonsensical today. I’m all over the place. And that was as much due to staying on to see who will play England in that semi. Croatia being the answer, after another penalty shoot out win. So I’m just going to stop short now.

Albeit wishing the aforementioned kudos and big love to our LGBT Bees. And Buzz Bee. This tweet, of all I saw yesterday, made me smile the most. Except, perhaps, the Belgians celebrating their victory over Brazil…..

Nick Bruzon

Brentford experience a touch of the Arsenal with new shirt. And Saïd joins. Nice.

7 Jul

Well that was unexpected. What a warm up to the biggest England game in I don’t know how long. Uruguay out! Brazil out! The new Brentford home shirt – out! And there’s a new signing to boot, with attacker Mohamed Saïd Benrahma joining from OGC Nice. All of which were brought to us in quite unique social media styles – a fan announcing the kit and Saïd (as he is apparently better known) announcing himself to a fan.

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#WelcomeSaïd (sorry – we don’t do that anymore. Thankfully)

First up, Brentford. The new shirt. No sooner had I got home from picking up mine and HB’s away shirts from the club shop than the phone went off. And again. And again. Something was clearly afoot.

Whilst we’d been given the home shirt teaser photo in the morning, with a promise of the big reveal on Monday, the club had gone early. Or, rather, supporter Lucy Draper had after dropping this tweet mid-afternoon……

Wow. As a means of doing this it was a great idea. Out of nowhere and via a fan rather than a week of snippets and moody looking shadow drenched pictures that no amount of fiddling with photoshop can enhance to reveal more clues. Been there, done that and it’s a lot of time that can never be got back. I have to be honest that, much like novelty hashtags, the tease routine is starting to feel as though it has had it’s day. Just rip it off and show us your kits, Brentford.    

Well, the club would seem to be heading in that direction and we now know what we’ll look like in 2018/19. If it was love at first sight for the beautiful brown and orange, I’m more cautiously reserved when it comes to the home variant. The gut reaction for me was one of personal anti-climax. White sleeves and not enough black trim. Barely any (and that’s assuming the Draper family weren’t all wearing low cut black vests). All this before we’d even seen the red back.

Yet, seeing it as the match action photos from our game at Boreham Wood began to come in later that evening I have to say it started to grow on me. The all white sleeves looking better and the black shorts helping break it up more.

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Much better in full frontal

The problem being, of course, that full kit w@nkers aside, no supporter goes out on match day wearing much more than replica shirt and jeans. Perhaps it’ll be a case of breaking out the black wranglers rather than the blue next season.

For me (Clive) there’s just a touch too much of 1970s Arsenal about it. The red back, the white sleeves, the red trim. With a striped back this could have been superb. Instead, with the all red derriere (thanks, Adidas) it looks almost like two different kits mangled together. Something that became more apparent as we saw those ‘side on’ / reverse shots. ‘A cut and shut’ as one New Road observer would later opine.

That said, supporter opinion on social media seemed to be generally in favour and it’s impossible to please everybody. Likewise, in this era of clubs changing shirts every campaign there’s only so much you can do to update red and white stripes. Only so much you can do for the likes of Brentford, Sheffield United and Sunderland to not look as though they are wearing some variant of each other’s back catalogue – even if the Arsenal look was one that Adidas have dropped on us.

With the club’s current deal with our kit partner due to expire at the end of this season, and assuming a new contract hasn’t been signed already, perhaps a clause insisting on a striped back might be the way forward with whomever our next supplier is. Adidas or other.

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One shirt – two teams?

Ultimately, it’s a shirt. An absolutely key part of the club and our heritage but at the same time, there could be a lot worse things to happen.  I’ve loved many before. I’ve hated others on sight. This one falls somewhere in the middle. Having told people to reserve full judgement on the away until they see it, now is the time to take that advice myself.

Perhaps this one will prove to be a grower in our house. One really does hope so as with the away shirt proving a classic (and HB wanting to wear his to bed last night – that wasn’t happening), how nice to have a pair of iconic kits to celebrate our journey to the Premier League.

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The away shirt is a ratings winner in TW8

If choosing a fan to reveal our shirt was a novel touch, there was more to come. With speculation about the signing of Saïd Benrahma rife on social media this week, the player himself revealed his arrival – direct to supporter Ryan Gaffney after he’d questioned whether a signing really was imminent. Albeit with the full story coming shortly after on official (and you can read that one here).

This sort of thing is great. Like sending away shirts and jaffa cakes in the post to those whose first reaction wasn’t favourable, the club are really driving fan interaction to a new level. Gone are those awful hashtags – farewell #trophfyriends and #Novemberkings – and instead we have fans right at the heart of the action. No staid press release but instead a devastatingly refreshing break from the norm.

Traditionalists may not agree. Personally I’m loving what we are doing here although don’t deny it is a tricky line to stay the right side of. As noted by one observer (below). But if you can get it right, what a great tool. Social media is well and truly here to stay – let’s embrace it.

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Next up. The World Cup. The trophy IS coming home. Or, at least for now, to Europe. Brazil and Uruguay both crashed out last night (I would also accept: ‘limped’) to Belgium and France respectively. Now’s the chance for England to go again.

It promises to be shirt launch levels of excitement. Pubs full, barbecues sizzling and supermarket beer shelves cleared. That’s just Gareth Southgate’s big match build up routine.

In all seriousness though, I can’t wait. The World Cup is always huge and with England one of just six teams left alive, the excitement sweeping the nation is palbable. Everybody knows what is at stake and with football already having been formally declared to be packing her cases for the flight back to England, it would be fair to say that optimism levels are through the roof.

There’s not much else to say on that really. It’s all about the anticipation for now.

Wherever you watch it, enjoy. No doubt he game will provide a story and some sort of discussion point come 6pm.

This is England, it always does.

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Scenes we’ll be hoping to avoid later today

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began.

The morning after the night before. Eric Dier and Andy Bush save the day.

5 Jul

Well, yesterday was all a bit bonkers. From start to finish. But then again an England World Cup win will do that. A World Cup win on penalties no less (not a typo). It was just fantastic in and around Brentford but likewise, central London too. You know something amazing must have happened when random commuters start talking to each other on public transport. Yet it was that sort of moment. The spirit of the night before having carried on through. It wasn’t a dream. That really DID happen. People still buzzing about the moment Eric Dier hit the winning spot kick and a nation exploded in joy.

 The. Moment. What a celebration.

I have to be honest here, the prospect of the journey into work was not an appealing one. This was not so much the thought of reaching the office where I was actually looking forward to discussing the game. With my team but more specifically a very good friend of mine (sorry, sorry – I’m not doing an Ian Moose) who is engaged to be married to a quite wonderful girl from Colombia next month. There was genuine curiosity as to the vibe in their house. Something which eventually transpired to be extremely diplomatic and sporting, even if the same couldn’t be said for their neighbours when Yerry Mina scored that heartbreaking 94thminute equaliser.

The reticence was more about travelling in to Waterloo on a packed train in the heat after waking up in what could politely be described as a tired, emotional and fragile state. No amount of air-con was going to save this journey if I had to stand up for a half hour with an exasperated estate agent from Putney shoving his armpit in my face. That, assuming the exasperated screech of “Can you pleeeeeasssse. Move. DOWN”, into an already jammed carriage, had actually worked this time. Urghh. Armpits.

DhPZEXaXkAE7tGKAnd so I’m not too proud to admit this. I took the ‘break glass in case of emergency option’. I’ve had it in the backpocket for a couple of months c/o Absolute Radio DJ Andy Bush but never quite had the guts to use it. Until now. But people seemed chatty. People seemed friendly. People seemed in a genuinely good humour. What was there to lose?

So I used it. Not once. But twice. On the overland and then the tube. Even better, it worked. Twice. A five commuter Mexican stand-off around the one available seat on the Jubilee line being won by my pointing to the badge and saying “Look, does anybody mind if I take that?”.

And then it got awkward. Getting up at my destination, a pregnant lady simultaneously stood up. She had her own, infinitley more legitimate, ‘baby on board’ badge. I didn’t know where to look as she clocked mine and said “Oh…

Cripes. The ground could have swallowed up. Her in genuine need (albeit having been given a seat) and me, a commuting charlatan. She continued, “I LOVE your badge. And I do miss it!”  Get in. Eric Dier, you beauty. You did this. I’m a Brentford fan but big up to the Spurs player and the whole team for achieving this level of bonhomie across the country.

Likewise, big thanks to Bush (below) and my fellow commuters for allowing me to reach the office fully refreshed. And you can follow him on Twitter, at @bushontheradio which I’d thoroughly recommend if you like football. Or radio.

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Everton fan Andy Bush is more than just a DJ

Anyway. Work was fine. Clients were chatty. The mood was great. The journey home a simple one. Indeed, the only sour note was stopping outside The Griffin on the way home to chew over the fat of the night before with landlord Gerhard. He seemed somewhat distracted, and understandably so.

A TV crew were filming on Brook Road south when this chap just pulled up in his van outside the access road, jumped out and left it there. Something that, I gather, also stopped Brentford fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant from being able to later perform a ‘U-turn’. How inconsiderate!

He (the van driver) seemed involved in some sort of fracas with the film crew because he kept going off to his vehicle before running back to them once more. Go figure??

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The film crew interrupted as people watching do nothing to help

The only other highlight of the evening was a now familiar face to the nation, Brentford fan Billy Grant of Beesotted, doing his TV thing once more. Live on BBC News 24 from what seemed like a Victorian parlour in the heart of Moscow. The amount of black and white framed pictures on the walls were as distracting as the random strangers that kept walking through the back of his shot. A Rucksack here; a backwards baseball cap there. Terrible manners. But ever the pro, Billy did his thing and regaled us with his own tales of ‘carnage’ and hugging strangers.

Great work, as ever, from Billy. Here’s to seeing what he has to say in the build-up to the Sweden game.

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Billy on the BBC jumbotron

 

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us to the usual post article, P.S. The Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began

England do it in the most dramatic style. What a night. What a moment. What a video.

4 Jul

There are no longer any words. That was simply stunning. Incredible. Odds defying. A ‘where were you when…?’ moment. (For the record, The Griffin pub in Brentford). England have only gone and done it. They’ve won a game on ITV. And how. Penalties. That cruelest of mistresses yet, at the same time, the most delicious of tastes should your team pull it off.  Thanks to Jordan Pickford’s save and Eric Dier’s winning spot kick, England did. The place, Moscow. The opposition, Colombia. The occasion, a World Cup last 16 game.

It’s all a bit of a blur this morning. Beer was consumed. Probably in greater volume than would ordinarily be allowed on a school night. But this was a special occasion. The World Cup which has already delivered so much now had an even greater prize at stake. The chance to take on Sweden (who had earlier beaten Switzerland 1-0) for a place in the semi-finals. Didn’t England take their chance when it came to the crunch?

Talk about the see-saw of emotions. Don’t expect much of a match report – then again, if you’re reading this you’ve likely seen the game. We can talk about the cynical play from Colombia. About a referee so far out of his depth as to need armbands and a lifeguard.I half expected to see The Hoff (David, not Philipp) come running on in his red shorts to help out the man in the middle.

How Harry Kane was made to wait so long for the chance to take his penalty in regular time I have no idea. It seemed close to four minutes, the amount of protests being lodged to the ref. The amount of time wasted with Colombia playing silly beggars on the penalty spot, even after he reconfirmed his decision. That, in itself, probably about the only thing he got right after the player had been brutally wrestled to the ground. It was a move as unsubtle as Hulk Hogan on Andre the Giant and penalty could be the only call. Yet even that seemed in doubt for a moment.

No worries. No pressure (at least, none shown) and it was blasted down the middle for 1-0 England after an hour. The pub erupted. The country erupted. But there was still a good thirty minutes to go. Colombia became more desperate. More ill-disciplined. Trying to drag England into it with spoiling tactics that I’m overly loathe to write about for fear of sounding all Daily Mail. But when the referee was letting them get away with daylight robbery then why not persist? Instead I’ll leave this thought here…

And ironically, it was deep into the stoppage time awarded to make up for all the faffing around with the spot kick that they equalised. There was no doubting the placement of Yerry Mina’s header or the joy from the Colombian supporters. Likewise, the collective groan that went around the pub. And wasn’t that Billy Grant up on the big screen – grimacing at us all the way from Russia? His face, etched in the moment of ‘Aaarrgghhhh”, mirroring what everyone felt?

Yes it was. The man with a magnetic attraction to TV cameras and microphones had struck again. Legend. Whether it is England or Brentford, his appearance is as reliable as Glenn Hoddle spouting nonsense (something something something Love Train? ) Whilst yours truly was too cack-handed to get his phone out in time, Twitter was the place – with thanks to David Goodwin and @JimmyMack84.

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Billy Grant – the pain was mutual

I have to be honest, extra time wasn’t good. It didn’t feel good. The psychological pressure of seeing a team come so close only to be denied in the 94th minute weighing heavy on the fans. England seemingly on the back foot and Colombia looking the more likely to win it, if we’re being honest.

But Gareth Southgate’s men are made of stern stuff. They hung in as the game drifted towards the inevitable spot kicks. A means of progression England have only ever succeeded at once previously, back in Euro ’96 against Spain. The pressure. The Tension. The stress. The anticipation. And that was just in The Griffin. Yours Truly had to pop outside to take stock. A look up at Griffin Park and then back in to take the pain…..

Colombia to kick things off. Falcao. 1-0. But not for long. First up for England, Harry Kane. Yessss!!! You beauty. The man must have ice running through his veins. 1-1. Cuadrado 2-1. Rashford 2-2. Muriel 3-2 . The first five kicks scored. A marked contrast to the awkwardness of those in the Croatia – Denmark game.

Up steps Jordan Henderson. No…… Saved. Colombia in the box seat. This was theirs to throw away now.

Boom – by means of reply Uribe hits the woodwork. My word !!! Next up, Trippier. Nerves shredded. We can barely look. But we do. Get in. Back of the net. Spice World The Movie. Jurassic Park. He’s done it. Pick that one out. 3-3 .

Carlos Bacca walks up. This is horrific. Brutal. A form of torture that should, by all rights, have been outlawed under the terms of the Geneva convention. But Jordan Pickford didn’t have any of that on his mind. Not outwardly. What a save. The Colombian denied finding the Bacca the net.

This is it. This is THE moment Eric Dier positions himself.  England have been so close. So close all game yet now this has taken us the very edge and beyond. Fists are clenched. Faces set stern. Eyes wide. People frozen in anticipation. Edge of the seat stuff. Not that many were sitting at this juncture. For a moment, nothing. And then an eruption of sound, of joy, of ecstasy that meant England were through. The net bulging. The pub screaming as one. Strangers hugging strangers and beer flying everywhere.

Football. Bloody hell. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t wait for Sweden on Saturday. Same time, same place.

That’s me done for today. Instead, here’s THE moment……..

Yesssssss!!!

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

 Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

 In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began….