Tag Archives: Euro 2016

Plus ça change. After Euro 2016, England continue with the bang average

4 Sep

Slovakia 0 England 1. Three points. And a win. On paper that’s all that Big ‘Sam’ Allardyce could have asked for on his opening game in charge. Yet having stated up front that he’d have been happy with a draw, he was that close to achieving his stated low key level of start to his time in charge of the national team. That may work at Sunderland or West Ham but for England, after their woeful Euro 2016 (and let’s not pretend it was anything but) this was just more of the same.

England won. That’s an indisputable fact . And so often I’ve bigged up the fact that goals are the only thing that count at full time. Yet at a time when the impossibility of qualification failure makes results largely irrelevant, performance is as key as result. And this was nothing but anti-climax.

0-0, 1-0. Forget the scoreline. A draw or a win away to England’s ‘closest rivals’ makes no difference. Failure to qualify from a group including Malta, Lithuania and Scotland is simply unfeasible. That’s not arrogance; that’s fact. Yet that game was, to quote one sofa based observer,  ‘bang average’.

At a time when the best sort of kick back from the Euros was needed, England did everything possible to continue with the uninspirational. Non-chance followed non-chance. Even when Martin Skrtel was eventually (arguably, he should have gone earlier) dismissed, England still flattered to deceive.

It was like watching the cast of American Pie v the cast of Porkys in a race to lose their viginity. There was a lot of bluster, a lot of fighting talk, a lot of huff and puff yet no thrust, no penetration and no scoring. In the end, it was a last gasp stab through the legs as Slovakia’s keeper let Adam Lallana’s poke claim his first England goal. At the 27th attempt .

Instead, after the horror of the summer and Euro 2016 nothing has changed – Glen Hoddle was still there talking bollocks; England were still doing their best to make the mediocre look like world beaters.

Any positives?  Either my TV was broken or ‘that band’ weren’t present. Regardless, that was the only win for those of us watching at home.

We’re two years away from knowing how well England may perform at the World Cup finals. We’re two years away from knowing which of Sunday’s starting XI will even kick off   England’s attempt to lift the trophy.

But, for now, we know one thing.

Huge improvement is needed.

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Nick Bruzon 

 

 

 

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After Sunday roast, time for kebabs. Just no umbrellas

4 Sep

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

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Can Sam bring a smile to England supporters?

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

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

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

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

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

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Even Big Daddy could get England through this group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Whatever happens, it can’t get this bad

Nick Bruzon

Goals to Newcastle?

24 Aug

Tuesday saw rumours hitting overdrive after stories began to emerge suggesting that Newcastle United were looking to make a bid for Brentford supporters’ and players’ player of the year, Alan Judge. If the timing is a surprise, the player only having the screws removed from his leg (following that horrendous break inflicted by Luke Hyam of Ipswich Town in April) little over a week ago, the story was an inevitable one.

I was amazed he didn’t leave Brentford at Christmas and, but for that injury, would surely have departed in the current window following Euro 2016. He still might if this Newcastle story rings true.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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View from the Braemar – how would the Bees go without Alan Judge?

 

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Scenes as Alan’s penalty helped confirm three points and promotion

 

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Mrs Brown – not the first time s(he) has produced a shock result

This is terrible, terrible news. Do ‘Radio Times’ employ any form of screening or was it just open to simpletons? She’s a man. A. Man.

Alan Judge celebrates

Alan Judge could soon deliver a blow to Brentford fans

Nick Bruzon

As Ipswich visit Brentford, Charlton go mad and Solo goes home.

13 Aug

Finally. Match day at Griffin Park. Brentford entertain Ipswich Town with the smart money wondering just which of our players they’ll attempt to break this time around (hey, we may aswell get it out early). Charlton Athletic, already as popular as a Mexican at Donald Trump rally, have ‘gone again’ whilst, with Lasse Vibe continuing his quest for Olympic gold, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has done her very best to make events at the Valley seem (relatively) sane.

First up though, we can only start with the Bees where Ipswich Town are the first visitors to Griffin Park in 2016/17. It would be fair to say that Brentford very much ended with the advantage over Ipswich last time around.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

 

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other pubs are available too

 

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Nick Bruzon

The voting may have closed (for now) but you can still join in

11 Jul

What can you say? Brentford are on tour and normal service has resumed. Whilst the eyes of the world may have been focussed on Cristiano Ronaldo’s tears as Portugal upset France to win Euro2016, over in Germany it was tears of pain and laughter as the annual singing contest for new players and staff got underway. Peter Gilham has published his latest diary although I note that this season it has been rebranded as a blog (don’t sink this low, Peter 😉 ). And we have the latest entrants into the photo caption competition that’s not a competition but just a bit of fun.

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The annual singing competition is back – judging sure to be tough

First up, singing. Actually, first up, hats off to Brentford ‘official’. Yes, you DID read that correctly. I make no secret of some previous observations but, likewise, full credit must be paid where it is due. And , I have to say, coverage of the training camp has been nothing short of excellent. The photographs, the updates, the videos, the use of social media and , of course, the ever popular tour diary/blog.

At a time when it might be trickier than normal to keep fans engaged, quite the opposite has been done. For me, the highlight has been the singing videos – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley pushing it up to 11 on the performance stakes.

Dan Bentley takes it to the next level

John Egan and Romaine Sawyers deserve full credit for effort, although its fair to say that Romaine is no Rachel Stevens. The again, who is? Results for the current round have just finished with Dan’s performance in the pool making him a runaway success  and exempt from any future performance.

Not such good news for Romaine and John who, alongside Jan Holldack,  get to ‘go again’.  Given fans have already been afforded the chance to participate in that first round of voting, can we expect more?

Certainly, the close out to the videos suggests so as it advises : “The four worst, as voted by the players, STAFF and YOU go through to the next round. The two with the most retweets and player votes are saved….!

As ever, #GermanyBees looks like the place to stay in touch with the action.

And finally, I must thank all those who have taken the time to come up with entries to the Last Word photo competition that’s not an actual competition, just a bit of fun. If you fancy having a go then just post a comment. We’ll keep this running for one more day but a selection of the (printable) entries received so far are below….

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More great work c/o ‘The official’ Brentford social media feed

 

Chris Whittart : Did you see the tweet from Sam Saunders ? Winner, end of, game over

Paul Deller: Not only did I have a tenner on Griezmann first goal, I done France half time full time

Terrace Wag: When someone asked about transfer policy……

David Carney: Apparently QPR and Fulham are almost certain favourites for relegation…

Danny Billy Baynham: So do you follow this stats lark lads ?

Dave Hall : My mate down the pub said “Fulham are going up’’.

Jim Myers : And you’re telling me Fulham could have signed Griezmann ?

Last Word: I even saw one guess that we’ll be playing in red and white stripes next season.

Nick Bruzon

Bees, Dragons, Saints and Imps. As one dream dies, another continues

7 Jul

What a night and what a result. Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar set up a Champions League qualifying tie with Celtic after sweeping aside FC Flora Tallinn 0f Estonia 2-0 ( 3-2 aggregate). In other news, Portugal edged past Wales to reach the final of EURO 2016 whilst, for Brentford fans, could the new Southampton shirt offer cause for optimism/fear?

We’ll start, briefly, in Gibraltar where the local champions set up that intriguing encounter for Brendan Rodgers in his first competitive game as the new Celtic manager. What’s this got to do with me, you may ask? Well, aside from personal pride you may recall that Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, locked horns with the Imps at this stage last season.

After a hard fought first leg the Danes eventually ran out 3-0 winners but, it would be fair to say, performances have stepped up even more since then. With a huge swathe of the national team (who of course scored their first competitive goal against Scotland) representing the Imps, anybody taking this one as a foregone conclusion would be urged to think again.

Next up , Brentford. With supporters awaiting the first news about our new kit (which, of course, has been hinted at coming out later this week), Southampton have released their latest incarnation.

Again, something which on the surface may not have much to do with us but I’m always intrigued by how manufacturers can provide a new twist on red and white stripes. And, it would be fair to say, The Saints have done that.

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A shirt that may well divide fans

Along with the stripes, technical sponsor Under Armour appear to have incorporated some sort of bra motif into the shoulder panels. The closest thing I can compare it to is our own Osca 83-84  – the one with the all white top half.

Initial shock has slowly turned into begrudging admiration. I’m not sure I’d be overly pleased if Mark Devlin was to reveal this as our new design but you can’t deny it’s different. Besides, with nothing this outlandish in the Adidas catalogue, I can only imagine we’re at least a few seasons away from anything this unusual.

The other point of note around this is: manufacturers blurb. According to the website, “The stripes appear in blocks of five to represent Southampton’s five core brand values.”. Although it fails to note what these values are. Let’s hope that when our new design is revealed to the world, we avoid such nonsense.

And , finally, the Welsh dream is over. It was a stunning effort to get as far as they did and, for a while, looked as though the game was going to go all the way though extra time and beyond. In the end though, it was ‘that man’ who proved the difference.

Say what you want about Cristiano Ronaldo – and many have, myself included – but the power and technique in the header for the opening goal, which he connected with at a height of 7ft 10″,  could only be applauded.

The less said about his subsequent celebration (or that bizarre spearmint coloured kit), the better.

Nick Bruzon

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Osca 83-84. Better than spearmint. No core values

 

 

Italian has a new ‘that penalty’ as Roy draws a parallel.

3 Jul

How on earth do you follow Friday’s news? The story of Jake Bidwell jumping on the 237 from Brentford to QPR was more than surpassed by that incredible announcement of a Bees boss in triple transfer swoop. Sorry for repeating this line but I just love how we’ve finally pulled this most longed for of footballing curios out of the bag.

Like orange balls in the snow, goalkeepers scoring, outfield players having to go in goal, a sub subbed and the request to the crowd for a replacement ref, this is the sort of thing that normally resides in the back of the box marked ‘oddities’.

Actually, can I also add : visiting team forgetting their kit and having to play in the home side’s away strip. Although, personally, in those circumstances I’ve always though we should just adopt the old school ‘shirts v skins’ rule from gym class. Or was that just my school?

But I digress. The answer to the opening question being that you can’t. At least, on a Championship front. Even Brentford have more than overplayed their trump hand in fan satisfaction with that wonderful triumvirate of transfers. That said, two further points of note from Friday.

Firstly, that the players were photographed in two of the three standard poses. Bearing the ‘signing scarf’ aloft and then, later, sitting at a table in front of a blank sheet of paper. Sadly, there wasn’t to be an accidental reveal of the new home kit. Looks like we really will be kept waiting until mid-July for that one. Bob, if you are reading, please put us put of our misery.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

And secondly, it seems our rivals have more than a passing interest in all things Griffin Park. Ten out of ten for value to those QPR fans who kindly visited these pages yesterday to leave us their thoughts on the Jake Bidwell article.

All I’ll say on that one is, “The table doesn’t lie. 12th, wasn’t it….“?

Instead, we are left to dwell on last night’s EURO 2016 action between Germany and Italy. A game which provided a further addition to the aforementioned list. Namely that of the penalty shoot out.

After further exhausting the players with a half hour of extra time, we were treated to as bad a display of penalty taking as you could ever hope to see. And it was brilliant.

With the Italians seemingly coached by Diana Ross, I was half expecting Marcello Trotta to come off the bench at one point. Instead, we got Simone Zaza dancing up to the penalty spot. Shuffling awkwardly like a giraffe with diahorrea trying to hold it in before hoofing it miles over the bar, Tarkowski style. That he had been brought on seconds before extra time ended for this one, specific, job made it all the more tragic.

But he wasn’t alone. The normally infallible Germans failed. Twice. This, before normality resumed and players from both sides began tucking them away for fun. In the end it was, of course, Germany who went through. Penalties. Come on. We all know what happens there and, sure enough, form told.

It was an utterly compelling end to a hard fought game and for all the wrong reasons. Or, as a neutral, for all the right reasons. Because that’s all most of us were last night. England’s capitulation still seems as raw now as it did on Monday night whilst Gibraltar didn’t even make it out of the qualifying group to reach France.

With Wales (and belated congratulations there) achieving a first ever semi, it only makes you realise even more what England missed out on. Oh for the chance to have even been able to think about cocking up penalties.

Instead, its not even a case of ‘what might have been’ and more one of ‘how on earth did Roy get it so wrong’?

Talking about this last night to one New Road observer, the conversation got on to how well England would have fared had Marinus Dijkhuizen been in charge. Of course, that’s just conjecture but win, lose or draw the one thing you can say is that at least we’d have got some straight answers after the games. Marinus certainly liked to tell it how it was, unlike Roy whose pre-prepared resignation speech was followed the next day with an opening gambit of “I really don’t know what I’m doing here”.

Which then immediately drew another Bees related parallel. With thanks to supporter Antonio Bergasse (and his moment of the season)….

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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

Who will win : Gareth v Charlie? And is there a knock on for Lionel Road?

25 Jun

There was double news out of Griffin Park yesterday. Josh McEachran is alive and (seemingly) well as he launched the club’s 2016/17 training gear whilst Brentford have announced another pre-season friendly. In the Euros , Wales v Northern Ireland is the big one today (although Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal side may argue otherwise as they take on Croatia and Poland begin proceedings against Switzerland).

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Will Cristiano provide the highlights this weekend?

Yesterday was, without a doubt, one of the craziest days I’ve ever lived through. This column isn’t about politics and I don’t intend to overly dwell there now. There is enough great material out there for those wanting to vent their spleen, smack their head in disbelief or celebrate what has been deemed by the ‘out’ camp as, seemingly, ‘taking our country back’ (to the dark ages?).

But I’ll leave you this one observation, given Brentford have our future and Lionel Road intrinsically linked to the housing market. With the redevelopment of Griffin Park and the subsequent apartment blocks to be built alongside the stadium being key, the industry suffered what could politely be called ‘a bad day at the office’ after the results were announced.

Lauren Davidson and Rhiannon Bury, writing in the Telegraph, note in their end of day market review that, “Housebuilders Crest Nicholson, Bellway and Bovis were all in the top ten fallers for the day, dropping more than 24pc, alongside property developers Derwent London and Great Portland Estates, which fell 24.6pc and 22.2pc respectively, as fears about a fall in house prices caused investors to offload their stocks”.

Whatever the other ramifications for the country, from the perspective of a new stadium for Brentford, I do wonder what will happen if this is anything but a short term ‘blip’?  Still that’s a question for cleverer people than me to answer (i.e. just about anybody).

Whilst we still have a home at Griffin Park, we now know that another preseason friendly has been announced. Peterborough United being the visitors on 26 July. All being well it’ll be a chance to see the new kit in action for the first time and enjoy an evening in the sunshine. Besides, when the alternative is Holby City then evening fixtures can’t come around quick enough.

And although we are yet to see that new kit (the simultaneous launch date remaining July 23, unless somebody tells me differently) we’ve now been shown the club’s range of training gear. And there’s a hashtag, too….

Whilst it seems a more Adidas-centric one than something club inspired, this season #FirstNeverFollows. Apparently. Here’s hoping there are 23 other clubs following us when we wrap things up against Blackburn in May.

As for the gear, well it’s now on sale and looking good. Can we read anything into the ‘full kit’ from the fact that the famous ‘three stripes’ are now running down the side of the body rather than over the arms? Certainly its a look that other Adidas dressed clubs (especially in the MLS) have been sporting.

Likewise, it’s great to see Josh back. What a horrendous first season he had with double long term injuries sandwiching a tricky time on the pitch. Fingers crossed that, as with the incredible return of Scott Hogan at the end of 2015/16, Josh is now able to push on and, erm, go again.

Moving back to Europe once more, today sees the last 16 begin with 6 teams vying for a quarter final spot. As noted at the top end of the column, Wales v Northern Ireland is the game that will likely have most of us gripped. For some, the battle to see whether Gareth Bale and the other 10 can stop Charlie Lawson launching into another celebratory routine. I’m still terrified by ‘Big Jim’s’ farmhouse kitchen soliloquy whilst sipping on the Black Bush. For that reason alone I’d love to see how he tops it this time around.

For others, of course, we have the Brentford connection in the Northern Ireland camp. Stuart Dallas , Niall McGinn and Will Grigg’s on the bench/ fire (delete as applicable). Will these old boys prove the club wrong? Can they line up a quarter final shot at the winner of the Hungary / Belgium game? Or will Gareth Bale keep up his hot streak of 3 goals from 3 games.

Whoever wins through, across the first 7(seven) games, by the time England wrap up proceedings on Monday night in ‘game 8’ v Iceland, we’ll all be set for another exciting 2 weeks in Europe. I can’t call any of the winners. I’m not even going to bother trying.

Instead why not just switch off from the stress, grab a beer, sit back on the sofa and enjoy a weekend of sporting action. If this morning is anything to go by, Charlie is already getting in the mood.

You can check out his latest, pre game video, here.

Brilliant …..

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How would Charlie celebrate a win over Wales?

Nick Bruzon 

Good news for the Bees? Are Newcastle this season’s Leeds? And ‘Big Jim’ is at it again

22 Jun

Finally. Today’s the day. The Championship fixtures are announced at 9am. Us Brentford fans find out when we resume hostilities with the likes of the Loftus Road mob or Fulham aswell as undertaking journeys to league pastures new(ish) such as Aston Villa, Burton Albion and Newcastle United. And over in the Euros, those bemoaning the England team can, perhaps, take a little more comfort after seeing Spain come unstuck.

First up though, the fixtures. If these were commentated on (and knowing how Sky Sports News works, nothing would surprise me) I’d expect the line , “For those of you just getting in to work” to be trotted out as these are revealed.

Key dates, as ever, remain first home and away games, both local derbies, the season denouement and whether a Christmas visit from the in-laws will, at least, be tempered by knowing we can escape down the road on Boxing day.

I’ve seen a lot of talk on social media getting excited about the likes of the aforementioned Newcastle, Aston Villa and Burton. Not surprisingly, given league encounters against those three are rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal. We did, at least, play the Magpies back in 92/93, although 1-2 and 5-1 defeats represented a poor haul against the eventual Division 1 (this was pre Championship) winners.

For me, though, Fulham will be the first name to look out for. Having taken 10 points and 11 goals from them in the four games since our return to the Championship, the chance to continue that run is one which only excites. Stuart Dallas, Jota in the last minute(s), Sam Saunders and an unexpected home debut for Tom Field are just a few of the memories that spring to mind. Here’s to creating a few more.

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I can’t wait for the chance to do this again

Roll on 9am when we can start planning the next season and seeing if those dates we’ve already been obliged to mark in the calendar as busy (who gets married between August and May?) are going to see a bullet dodged or backfire massively.

At least, on the planning front, we’ll be offered a small helping hand. Sky have confirmed that aswell as the fixtures they “will confirm details of our first three televised matches alongside the main fixtures announcement”. The ongoing carve up of the fixture list in the name of TV coverage has been a source of frustration for many, albeit an understandable one given their contract to cover live games. Hopefully this does mean we can start to plan the first couple of away trips without fear of having to rebook train tickets.

Besides, the Bees shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just as we are looking forward to visiting Villa Park, Carrow Road et al, I’m sure the Sky producers have similar, audience grabbing, aspirations. Don’t expect Brentford to feature ‘on the road’ for a while. I can see Newcastle United becoming last season’s Leeds United with a TV game every five minutes or so.

Over in France, meanwhile, the Euros continued with Croatia beating many people’s favourites, Spain. Thanks, largely, to goalkeeper Danijel Subasic rewriting the penalty law and being about three yards forward when he saved Sergi Ramos’ spot kick with the scores locked at 1-1 late on.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, also reached the last 16 despite losing 1-0 to Germany and their talismanic striker yet to kick a ball in anger. Will Grigg’s on the bench, rather than on fire. And, just as after their 2-0 win over Ukraine where we treated to ‘that dance, Charlie Lawson (TV’s Jim McDonald) was in celebratory mood, enjoying a large Black Bush and delivering a hushed soliloquy to camera from what appeared to be a farmhouse kitchen.

To see such passion and support is a beautiful thing. I love it. Who knows what Charlie will do should they reach the last 8? It’ll be fun finding out though, so it will.

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How about you there, Northern Ireland

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  With Brentford almost set to ‘go again’  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, re-live a stunning few seasons  of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.

Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.