Tag Archives: Ethiad

Derby not the only Casualty as Wigan lose out on ‘chant of the year’

18 May

As with yesterday, Brentford know another Championship opponent for next season after the play-offs claimed another victim (although it was a lot tighter than most neutrals imagined). Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United went to incredible lengths to distract people from talking about ‘that bomb’ whilst, apparently, Will Grigg is still on fire. Amongst other things.

Where to start though ? Why not Manchester United, given how ‘the bomb that never was’ (thankfully) has dominated the news these last few days. Well, their abandoned game with Bournemouth took place last night and, on the pitch, whilst the 19-0 ‘spoiler’ that would have kerplunked Manchester City for the final Champion’s League spot never happened, Louis van Gaal’s team got the  win that most people expected.

This, even if Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal denied his own ‘keeper, a share of the Premier League’s ‘golden glove’ for most shut outs in the season. Petr Cech beating David de Gea to the award by 16 clean sheets to 15. (Stop sniggering at the back. And the Ethiad).

But it was pre-kick off where my social media timeline awoke from it’s pre-kick off slumber. Specifically because United had decided to paint three of their child mascots blue.

Not in some sort of homage to neighbours City but, infact, to promote the forthcoming X-Men film. Ironically, a film I’d imagine most of them aren’t even old enough to watch judging by the photograph which appeared c/o Telegraph football’s Twitter feed.

Telegraph x-men mascots

This really happened….

As marketing decisions go, it’s one that seems to rank alongside our own #bignewambitions . Certainly in terms of the bizarre, if nothing else. Whilst you have to say that it did get people talking is there no length they won’t stoop to in order for a bit more commercial revenue ? Body painting children in the colours of your arch rivals to promote a movie?

As one twitter wag noted, “let’s hope they didn’t have to stay painted from Sunday”.

Still, if all of this distracted people from Bournemouth’s chant of the season in  “Shall we check the bogs for you?” then who am I to criticise?

And as a side note, congratulations to Bournemouth in defying the expectations of just about every critic and amateur pundit in securing a second series  season in the Premier League. Despite playing what would seem to be fast and loose with the FFP rules on the way to beating us to a promotion spot last season, like Leicester City they have still punched well above above their expected weight this time around. Here’s hoping we can join them again soon.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of this. Another Tuesday night saw another surrendering of the remote control to Mrs. Bruzon for Holby City. It’s all about the trade off and saving the zapper for ‘the big games’ . Besides, as we all knew, there was nothing interesting going to happen in the Man U game whilst Derby County had no hope in the play-offs at Hull City AFC after going down 3-0 in the first leg at home.

And yet again another example of why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of pundit, manager, informed observer or football fan with half a brain. With just over half an hour on the clock, Derby had swept into a two goal lead .

Could the impossible actually happen? No. Mrs Bruzon wouldn’t surrender the remote. And on pitch, things remained the same. Meaning Hull go though 3-2 on aggregate whilst, for Derby, it was a third successive capitulation in the most heartbreaking of knock out tournaments.

As with Brighton in yesterday’s column, it is a pain us Brentford fans can well relate to. On the plus side, for us, another good away trip to add to the calendar next season as at least one lengthy journey will now be crossed off the fixture list.

And talking of Brentford – finally – you may not be aware but apparently Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, now plying his trade at Wigan Athletic, is on fire. More to the point, if you believe the (apparently) popular terrace chant, “Your defence is terrified”.

I’m genuinely pleased for Will. We all know that things didn’t quite work out for him at Brentford with his cause not being helped by injury. He arrived with a huge reputation and a lot of anticipation yet ended up leaving with a goal scoring record that was, I’m sure as much for the player as the supporters, somewhat below expectation.

4 goals in 34 league games (including a brace and missed penalty on his home debut v Sheffield United) are, if we’re being honest, not the sort of figures to strike this supposed terror into the heart of any defence.

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick.

Yet, you can’t knock his subsequent League 1 record with MK Dons or Wigan Athletic. It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how he steps up a division to the Championship. Have Brentford made the biggest mistake of all time in letting him go after his loan spell at Stadium MK or will this be proven to have been a good decision? Only time will tell.

The main reason for finally jumping on the “Grigg/fire’ bandwagon is the news that Wigan chairman David Sharpe has now rewarded the supporter purported to have created the chants with a free season ticket. Fair dues and well played.

But by that logic, if Ciff Crown is reading (you never know) how about making a similar gesture at Brentford? Whilst not ‘chants’ per se, I can lay claim to:  “And this is Saunders territory” for the awarding of any set-piece within a 25 yard radius of the goal line . This, regardless of whether the perma-tanned wing wizard and dead ball demi-god is even on the pitch. It is a lucky mantra that has worked on numerous occasions.

Likewise, I’ve got half-shares in, “Don’t take it short; it never works”  (along with a more colourful variant) whenever we are about to take a short corner. So far, this tactical advice about the most maligned of set-pieces has proven correct.

How about it Cliff? If it’s good enough for Wigan….?

Wigan chairman re Grigg

Bournemouth fans may disagree with this sharp observation

The other piece of Brentford news to catch my eye was something shared by Brentford video whizz kid (and Alex Pritchard lookalike ) Sean Ridley .

The Football League have released the new ‘official font’ and numbering to be used on next season’s kits.And, it’s fair to say, that reactions have been mixed.

I like the font, I’m not convinced by the look of the numbering but I’m very disconcerted by the apparent lack of brackets for supporters looking to get a replica shirt printed up. Looks like another season for yours truly without a: Saunders 7 (seven).

One year, club shop. One year……

new font

coming soon to a back near you

And finally, as ever at this time of the year, my own moment of self-promotion and (more importantly) thanks to all those who have so far downloaded either The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again or the three year anthology : The Bees are going up. I remain shocked but hugely respectful of the fact that anybody would take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

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From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

Money can’t necessarily buy you success. Of course, at Brentford having the sort of finances available to the likes of the teams at the top end of the Premier League is just a pipe dream. Yet it made last night’s results all the more interesting as this most captivating of top flight seasons continued. Despite their mega-millions, Manchester City (at mid-table Liverpool) and Arsenal (hosting relegation candidates Swansea) both lost against opposition they’d have been expected, on paper, to breeze past.

The flip side to this is that when you are operating on a reduced budget, unearthing that game changing player is a truly joyful experience. And this is where Brentford come into the equation. The previous column looked at, amongst other things, the FourFourTwo magazine survey on your club’s ‘cult hero’ over the top four divisions.

It is genuinely a fascinating read (my own contribution aside) with the results, being published on-line now showing clubs A-M. Starting with Accrington Stanley, it has so far gone through Brentford, along with the aforementioned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to the point they had, at the time of writing, got as far as Morecambe.

So few of these players are the big money signings making the headlines today but each have their special place amongst the fans. And the reason for mentioing this again was, specifically, the chance to talk a bit more about Brentford. Or, rather, our own nominee – Gary Blissett.

Bliss Gary Blissett

All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

Given the constraints of the Four FourTwo site, somebody like Bliss (not to mention those who ran him close when the question was put out there on Facebook last month) deserved more than the 100-150 words available. So here is the full, unexpurgated version.

Gary Blissett – cult hero

Where do you start when looking for a cult hero? For a team like Brentford, where the trophy cabinet is more an aspiration than anything else, most people outside of TW8 probably know us for the sort of thing that would make TV’s “What happened Next…?” rather than the record books.

Goalkeeper Chic Brodie having his career ended by a runaway dog. Millwall fans throwing a hand grenade onto the pitch (November 1965, for the record). The failed takeover bid by QPR that would have seen Brentford cease to exist and our bitterest rivals move into Griffin Park. Eight play-off defeats out of eight (the least successful of all English teams when reaching football’s ‘final four’).

Then, of course, there was ‘that penalty’ in the final minute of the final game of 2012/13. A winner takes all encounter with promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers.

Only one team could make it to the Championship and, with the scores locked at 0-0, the Bees were awarded a 90th minute spot kick. The subsequent tussle for the ball involving club captain Kevin O’Connor (approaching his 500th game), and Marcello Trotta (on loan from Fulham, of all places) is one as familiar as the Italian’s subsequent effort thudding off the crossbar and, with Bees players prostrate on the ground in despair, our opponents going down the other end where they scored to secure promotion and the title.

That’s how we do things at Griffin Park. Glorious failure being as familiar a taste as the pre-match hot dog. Yet when we do win things, it makes them all the sweeter. Every now and again it happens. And even when we don’t, we still have a lot of fun along the way. Thanks, largely, to those figures you’d label as Cult Heroes.

Big John O’Mara who, in his first season, scored 25 goals in 40 games. Centre back Peter Gelson, who made 471 appearances in a Griffin Park career that stretched from 1960 to 1975. The legendary Jim Towers and George Francis aka The Terrible Twins. Playing together for most of the 1950s, they still remain (respectively) the club’s first and second highest all time goal scorers.

Hard as nails players such as Terry Hurlock, Terry Evans and Martin Grainger.

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

Those who just seemed to exude personality and had the crowd eating out of their hand – Allan Cockram, Lloyd Owusu and Marcus Gayle (just don’t sing that song near your granny).

Modern day heroes including Jota – the last minute goal being his own personal calling card. Toumani Diagouraga – “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the Ealing Road. He’d last done it in March 2013 and we had to sit through another 111 games without him troubling the scorers before he was sold to Leeds at the end of January. Less than 40 minutes into his full debut….

Or how about Sam Saunders? The perma-tanned wing wizard (and former tube worker) so beloved of fans that most would allow him to ‘have relations’ with their wives, if the terrace chant is to be believed.

But when it comes down to it, there can be only one winner. The moustachioed legend that is Gary Blissett. aka ‘Bliss’.

79 goals from 223 league appearances (105 from 291 total) in a 6 year career from 1987-1993 don’t even tell half the story. His brace against boyhood heroes Manchester City in the 1988-89 FA Cup fourth round sent Griffin Park into meltdown as the Bees earned a 3-1 passage into the fifth round. There, Bliss repeated the feat as his late pair at Blackburn Rovers helped Brentford to a deserved 2-0 win. Sadly it wasn’t to be in an Anfield quarter final as the Bees bowed out despite giving all-conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads) an almighty scare.

image1-copy1

Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

His defining goal was probably the final game of the 91/92 season. With the Bees having won the previous five on the spin, including a 4-0 demolition of Fulham, we travelled to Peterborough knowing a win and some good fortune could make the impossible, possible.

Bliss was the man who popped up with a first half header as we then sat through an awful lot of ‘squeaky bum time’ for a famous 1-0 win. With other results going our way, including a shock defeat for a Birmingham City side that Saint & Greavsie had earlier congratulated on TV for winning the League, we snuck up the blind side and became Champions. Sometimes, it happens.

Gary was an ever present the following season as, despite the sale of strike partner Dean Holdsworth, his goals almost kept us in English football’s second tier.

But there was more to Gary than short shorts, a luxuriant ‘tache and goals, goals, goals.

A wannabe goalkeeper, he was the man who donned the gloves during a Championship game with Southend United after injury, and no spare on the bench, meant we got to enjoy that wonderful moment where an outfield player goes between the posts. Bliss promptly ignored every piece of advice being shouted to him by youth ‘keeper Ashley Bayes and kept a clean sheet.

But it was his red card at Craven Cottage after what we will politely call a ‘coming together’ with Fulham ‘keeper Jim Stannard that is a moment as popular with Bees’ fans as that goal at Peterborough. Bliss left the field to a standing ovation in a game that showed us the West London derby meant as much to the players as the supporters.

All the money in the bank can’t buy a player like Bliss. The £60,000 we paid Crewe back in 1987, even now, still seems like the bargain of the century.

Like Marcus Gayle and Allan Cockram, Bliss still visits Griffin Park. Catching up with him briefly in the week, he told me, “ I follow every game and after my beloved City Brentford are of course the team I want to see succeed more than any other team or club in the world.

I am sure MB will have Plan B, C, D and more and will one day be playing at The Ethiad IN THE LEAGUE

For those amongst us feeling slightly down about things on the pitch this year, these are surely words to put your trust in. If a demi-God such as Bliss believes, then that’s all the inspiration we need .

brentford-fc-player-cards-2015-blissett

Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

Nick Bruzon

Judge becomes chief executioner on a day of huge significance

18 Oct

On a day of sporting dominance, one result which will go largely unnoticed outside a small corner of West London could have huge longer-term significance. Brentford beating Rotherham United 2-1 may not be up there for the neutral at a time that saw Bournemouth getting tonked 5-1 at Manchester City or New Zealand wiping the floor with France in the rugby but it mattered to us. A lot. We’ll get to the rest of that shortly (especially Bournemouth, who seemed to suffer some form of self-inflicted manager-of-the-month curse) but can only begin at Griffin Park.

It was a day of huge importance on and off the field. The club rightly celebrated the life of Martin Lange with a rousing minute’s applause before kick-off whilst it was also ‘kick it out’ day.

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

‘Kick it out’ is a thoroughly noble campaign and a shame that, in this day and age, such a cause needs highlighting with a specific day. Moreso, that when it comes around, we could still do more, as a club. There were people handing out leaflets and placards in their special yellow t-shirts whilst Buzz and Buzzette wore the campaign colours prior to kick off. I’d love if our team could go one better and actually wear the logo on the shirt for this sort of game, rather than the traditional sponsor.

Brentford have done this before. Most notably when Skyex generously made way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Community Sports Trust on the silver shirt back in 2012. Perhaps it is something we might want to consider for next season, if Matchbook.com are reading?

Or, even, how about being trailblazers and doing this at another game later on this campaign? After all, the ideals of ‘kick it out’ are those that, surely, we should be aspiring to every week?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

On pitch, we’d all absorbed the message that the season was due to ‘restart’ with the Rotherham game. And boy, what a restart.

Alan Judge opened the scoring with little over a minute on the clock. The Irishman looping a sweet volley straight back over the top of the Rotherham defence and ‘keeper Lee Camp from the edge of the penalty box. It really was a wonderful strike as Judge, my man of the match, caught the clearance first time and set up another contender for goal of the season.

In a game that, like it or not, word on the street had marked down as a relegation six pointer (although interestingly, the win sees us just 8 points away from the play offs) it was the perfect start. And then it stopped.

Lee Carsley’s boys put in plenty of effort but a new look midfield containing Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods and John Swift struggled to make further impact. Indeed, Rotherham had the better chances – in each half – and to go in leading on 45 mins was a scenario I’d have bitten your hand off for before kick off. It is only the second time all season we’ve taken the lead in a game!

It was a lead that didn’t last long. If Judge’s goal had been good, within minutes of the restart Joe Mattock hit a beauty past David Button from even further out than the opener. It was a shot that got higher and faster, leaving the Bees ‘keeper no chance as it screamed past him.

One thing Lee Carsley had promised us was fight and determination. Sure enough, we got it. United’s lead lasted barely ten minutes as that man Judge grabbed his second of the game. A bullet header (yes, you read that correctly) past Camp after getting on the end of a Jake Bidwell cross restored the lead. And that’s how things stayed until full time. Scorewise, anyway.

Having score two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third

Having scored two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third.

Being quite honest, the visitors had the better chances and the majority of possession. David Button was forced into a number of smart saves that reinforced, yet gain, the importance of both him and Judge to this team. Where we’d be without them, I dread to think, based on how things began this campaign. But, they ARE here and, more importantly, it was another win for the Bees.

The BBC stats just show how much the visitors did control affairs (shots especially) and, as one New Road observer noted afterwards, “I’d like to see Rasmus try and spin these”.

The BBC stats don't lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

The BBC stats don’t lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

I have no doubt that had Steve Evans still been in charge of the Millers he’d have complained afterwards how they murdered us, how we’d robbed them etc. etc. etc. Instead, both Neil Redfearn and Lee Carsley were much more realistic in their appraisals of our respective teams. The Brentford man, in particular, admitting how “we started the second half poorly”.

Talking to supporters after the match, the general theme of opinion seemed to be that Alan Judge was the standout player in a game that was otherwise much akin to a League One fixture in places. The flipside being that it was a hard fought contest between two teams that haven’t had the best of starts, for a number of well documented reasons. Ultimately, the only stat that really counts is balls in the back of the net – and that’s where Brentford were strongest.

With a mid-week trip to Wolves up next, those points and a win were vital. And if nothing else, for morale. It’s just great to get back to winning ways but the big question now, of course, is whether we can do it again?

Away from Griffin Park, my highlight was at the Ethiad where Manchester City routed Bournemouth. Whilst I have nothing but respect (and even a sense of ‘if only’) for the Cherries in what they achieved last season, I can’t help but feel they brought this on themselves a touch.

There can’t be many in football who don’t know about the ‘manager of the month curse’. Pick up up this award and instantly doom your manager to losing his next game. So on Thursday, when Bournemouth started trumpeting the success of Eddie Howe and his signing a contract extension to 2020, even creating a hashtag to mark the occasion, there was only one thing that was going to happen.

Sure enough, three down in less than half an hour eventually finished up as a 5-1 humping.

Eddiesigns - no painting over that scoreline

Eddiesigns – no painting over that scoreline

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have been where the Cherries were, playing at Manchester City, instead of struggling past Rotherham. Indeed, part of me still thinks we were the ultimate architects in our eventual capitulation last season where, catching everybody cold, we ended up in a position to cause one of the biggest upsets in sporting history. Then blew it with Village-gate and, perhaps, some tactical naivety late on when the team was crying out for a bit of change

That was then, this is now and there’s no point having any regret. We had the chance, lost out, but have had a taste of our potential. Being realistic, with a quarter of the season gone I think it would be a huge ask at this juncture to repeat last season.

Then again, there are still 105 points available…..

Nick Bruzon

Ramsey’s treat as the neighbours take a tumble

11 May

Thank you Manchester City. What more can you say after they condemned Queens Park Rangers to an immediate return to the Championship on Sunday lunchtime? And how! We’ll get to the latest from Brentford shortly (where ‘official twitter’ is at it again) but we can only start with events at the Ethiad as City confirmed that the first of next season’s West London derbies will be an all Championship affair between Fulham and QPR after City beat the Loftus Road outfit 6-0.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.