Tag Archives: FIFA

Get the goal, slow it down and secure the win. Easy !! And a possible ‘best ever’ shirt.

26 Mar

Well that was some weekend. Despite Brentford not being in action due to International weekend, the cause of our lay off has not been without it’s talking points. Alan Judge completed an emotional return to the Republic of Ireland team despite his side going down in Turkey. England fans completed an embarrassing return to Amsterdam despite the team going on to register a win. Over in Gibraltar, Liam Walker of Notts County scored the only goal of the game as the boys from the Rock beat Latvia 1-0, despite never having previously registered a win as a full member of FIFA. Get in you beauties! And could Andreas Bjelland be turning out in the mother of all shirts for Denmark tomorrow night?

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What a win for Gibraltar

We can only start with Gibraltar. Despite being 16/1 to beat a Latvia team who sit 75 places above them in the FIFA rankings, a return to the Victoria Stadium across the road from the airport after a two year soujourn in Portgual came with the most wonderful of results.

You can’t ask for anything more than a clean sheet, a goal and a win on your return home. And that’s what we got. Liam Walker stepping up after a tense game to hit the most delicious of dead ball winners, Sam Saunders style, with the clock almost at it’s denouement.

What a moment.  A first victory on home soil. A first victory as a FIFA member. A first clean sheet in, erm, some years. Regular readers to these pages will know of Gibraltar’s goals ‘against’ being the international equivalent of Birmingham City or Leeds United. Fishing the ball out of the net has been a lot easier then putting it in there. A statement that is made with absolutely zero offence intended. A statement made by somebody who has played (badly) at the same stadium that Walker made his mark and who was there as Belgium went beyond brackets late last summer.

The strides that Gibraltar have made on the international stage since becoming members of UEFA in 2013, for a nation of their size, have been vastly impressive. Both at international and also club level where Celtic were, of course, beaten by Lincoln red Imps in a 2016 Champions League Qualifier

And now we have a win. This is a moment of huge significance and how appropriate that it is Liam Walker who should get the goal. The record cap holder and, with this strike, heading to the top of the scoring charts. Whilst the Chipolinas and Casciaros of this world are, perhaps, the household names it is Walker who is currently ploughing a lone furrow as Gibraltar’s ‘export’ to the English football league.

Plying his trade for a Notts County team very much at the business end of the League Two table. A Notts County team that knocked Brentford out of the FA Cup in the third round and for whom Walker came on to the Griffin Park pitch to shore things up late on when the teams met back in January. We noted then his prowess and now it has been demonstrated in the most visible and global of styles.

Get the goal, slow it down and secure the win. Next stop, the Nations League in the autumn. Easy. In theory. I can’t wait.

The. Moment. Danny Higginbotham, eat your heart out

Before that is the World Cup. Whilst Ireland didn’t make it this time, we can’t let the moment of Alan Judge’s return to international football pass without mention. If Gibraltar’s win was of huge national significance, Alan’s own appearance was equally significant – purely for personal reasons.

We all know how he was set for Euro 2016 until that horrific assault at Portman Road left him with a double leg break that has taken the best part of two years to recover from. It is a journey that we have all taken alongside him in spirit although one cannot begin to envisage the tremendous psychological and mental fortitude that has been required to get him through what must have been some dark hours. Let alone the physical recovery.

Alan’s tweet – simple but beautiful

To see Alan put on a Brentford shirt once more has been a thing of beauty for Bees fans. Yet to see him in his national shirt really was the icing on the cake. Congratulations, Alan. What an honour and what a moment. Here’s to the next set of qualifiers…

The current round of friendlies concludes this Tuesday with Andreas Bjelland, Henrik Dalsgaard and their Denmark team entertaining Chile. Ordinarily, I’d call this as April fool but we’re a few days early. However, it would seem that when they  run out against Alexis Sanchez and co, the Danes will be wearing a quite unique shirt. One that celebrates their heritage and has been, apparently, put together by the fans based on classics over the years.

I hope this is true. It’s so bad it’s brilliant. Very much the Nicolas Cage of football shirts.

I’d love one.  

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Is this for real ? Wow !!

Nick Bruzon

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Success for Gibraltar in FA Cup. Defeat for Brentford at home to Notts County.

7 Jan

Brentford 0 Notts County 1. A result that it sure to cause a few rumblings on the Richter scale of FA Cup shocks. None moreso than because it means Gibraltar, currently placed 205th in the FIFA World Rankings, have representation in the fourth round. Size and reputation counted for nothing with talismanic Gibraltarian International Liam Walker proving key to the Magpies’ cause. He came on at the death to ensure County broke Brentford hearts and condemn the Bees to defeat despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at the visitors. A shame it hadn’t happened 90 minutes earlier.

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There had been so much optimism before kick off

I’ve seen Liam in action twice this season and neither appearance has been a happy time for the Brentford. The first being the occasion of a World Cup qualifier at the end of August. Despite his best efforts – very much the star performer for Gibraltar in that one – Belgium finished it by taking their visitors beyond brackets and close to double figures with a 9-0 win in Liège.

It was the same day Maxime Colin and Jota joined Harlee Dean in the triple transfer to Birmingham City. Fortunately, things would eventually settle down for the Bees on that front and form would return, quite spectacularly. Not so much for the Blues. Equally spectacularly.

On Saturday, the boot was on the other foot. It was the away team, again inspired by Walker, who came away with a result that the bookmakers had failed to anticipate. It was the home team – picked by Dean Smith – with a performance that was dialed in against one of spirit, fight and a desire to win that the Bees had failed to anticipate. They’ll have been dancing in the streets of Gibraltar last night.

That, or Sax II.

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Yet it proves, yet again, what happens when you underestimate the opposition. See also: Walsall at home in the third round two seasons ago. As expected, changes were made but there was enough first team experience in the starting XI and on the bench to have done better. Much better. It was an opportunity for players to step up, seize the opportunity and shine. Sadly, the only ones to do that were Notts County.

All the talk in the media would be of Jon Stead’s goal. True, it was very special. Yet it should have been as much about Notts County putting in a complete and consistent team performance. From the moment of kick off to the Walker inspired denouement. The Magpies showed it in spades. The Bees looked second best.

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All over at full time – Walker the winner.

Dean Smith would use his post match interviews to declare, “It was probably not what we deserved”, adding “I thought we had the lion’s share of possession and bossed the game for large periods. I certainly didn’t think we deserved to lose.”

As has been said oh so many times, that’s just not how football works. I’ve got huge respect for Dean but he’s wrong on this one. Chances count for nothing. Neither do possession stats. Balls in the back of the net are the only thing that matters as a means of measuring progress to the fourth round on paper.

For the record, the game ended with possession of 53%- 47% in our favour. Less a Lion’s share and more a narrow margin. The goal charts ended 1-0 in Notts’ favour. Equally narrow but that’s all they needed.

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At least Buzz and Buzzette got their hands on the cup

I suppose we can concentrate on the league. And that IS a good thing from some respects. IF we are going to go for it. The gap to the bottom three surely already too huge whilst the play-offs are just six points away. A concerted surge towards the top and this will be nothing more than a statistic in the record books. At least, for our top brass.

Yet for the fans, the FA Cup is still huge. And the chance for a run in this oldest of tournaments is always something to get supporters salivating. Tin foil trophies had been made in the morning. Some long journies undertaken to get to Griffin Park.

We had the ability to win it but too often the Bees looked out of shape. Captain Josh McEachran unable to lift his team. With Lasse Vibe and Andreas Bjelland missing (in the the club shop), Ryan Woods missing (in the pub, but on the soft drinks) and Nico Yennaris just missing, we lacked our solid spine. Players had the chance to make a name for themselves. They didn’t take it.

On the flip side, Emiliano Marcondes, making his debut, showed those first flashes of the potential we have all read so much about. Indeed, but for that Walker inspired backs-to-the-wall performance in the final few moments, things could have been different when the Dane’s header came back off the post.

But with County looking solid as The Rock, not even the wonderful Alan Judge could make a difference. He looked sharp, fit and fast as he made a long overdue and thrilling return to the side. There was no challenge shirked and one moment of genius to free fellow substitute Ollie Watkins that had the crowd on their feet, anticipating a goal. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

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Alan Judge in full flow – very much a sight for sore eyes

We’ve lost in the Cup before. We’ll do it again. The saddest thing about Saturday was that lessons of the past should have been learned. Yet when the club hadn’t even put FA patches on the first team shirts, perhaps our longevity in this tournament was pre-ordained.

At home, our own third round ritual of making the tinfoil trophy ended with it the replica cup being consigned to, then retrieved from, the dustbin. “Daddy. Do we have to throw it away? Can’t we keep it for next year?” asked HB. Not even I’m that mean and so it was duly salvaged. With optimism like that, it’s tough to be overly despondent this morning. It’s just a shame we’ll have to wait 365 days to feel it once again.

All that remains to be said is congratulations to Notts County, Liam Walker and Gibraltar. The FA Cup loves to throw up a story and with the Magpies in wonderful league form too, could this be the year they are the underdogs to make a run towards Wembley?  The year that Gibraltar, whose previous international ‘highlights’ include conceeding the faster ever International goal (Christian Benteke in 8.1 seconds in the opposite fixture with Belgium) and equalising against minnows Scotland in a Euro 2016 qualifier at Hampden Park, make that next step up on the World stage?

That’s my one consolation from this one. And I’m clinging to it.

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A solitary Gibraltarian flag held aloft at Griffin Park

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Another Brentford cup run consigned to the wastebin of Griffin Park history

Nick Bruzon

Jota. I love you. But please don’t join Fulham.

29 Aug

Jota – probably the most talented player to pull on the red and white of Brentford in recent times and now we’re all sweating on whether we’ve seen him play for the last time. Whilst the West Ham rumours have gone deathly quiet, the stories of bids from Middlesbrough hang around like a bad smell whilst Fulham of all clubs have now entered the mix. Yes, Fulham.

Oh, and there’s also one now doing the rounds about Harry Redknapp looking to take Harlee Dean to Birmingham City. Yes, we’re now well into international break and whilst on pitch most people are concentrating on the World Cup qualifiers between Belgium – Gibraltar and Malta – England, back in TW8 that accursed window can’t ‘slam shut’(tm) quickly enough.

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We feel the same way too

Dean Holdsworth, Gary Blissett, Andy Sinton, DJ Cambell, Nicky Forster, Adam Forshaw, Andre Gray, Moses Adubajo, Sam Saunders to name but a few. The amount of players that we just ‘couldn’t sell’ who we have then sold is legion. It is part of life supporting Brentford.

We know the club’s direction is sustainable football within FFP regulations. Pretty much the rest of the Championship can pay silly money for players. We can’t and won’t. That’s not me crying; its just a fact of life. The club have made no secret of trying to build a team in a certain style and to move players on should those big value offers come in. To date, we’ve had three top ten Championship finishes doing this.

And now our resolve is being tested once more with Jota and long serving former captain Harlee Dean both coming under intense scrutiny. Both players could walk out of Griffin Park on a free transfer at the end of the season. We could sell them now for a combined total of over £10million if rumoured valuations are met. Can we afford to turn that down, even it it does mean joining the likes of Jake Bidwell and David ‘agent’ Button in moving down the road to near neighbours?

Being realistic, of all three names Fulham look the most likely. On paper. West Ham are soon to be a Championship club so why move now to join a sinking ship, only to end up back where you started? The obvious money factor aside. But even then, how much action would he see in a squad that already has 9 midfielders registered with the Premier League?

Middlesbrough can go spin if their offers are to be believed. Manager Dean Smith has already gone on record as noting “There are people courting Jota and we’ve had two bids that haven’t met the valuation of the football club and, until they do, he remains a Brentford footballer.” This, after stories of a £4.5 million bid for the player came in from Boro’. Add another three and then I’d imagine the club would be prepared to talk.

Which leaves Fulham. Well, the good news being that so far nothing has happened. It’s just a story. Indeed, I’d go so far as to suggest a story put out there just to drive up bids from potential suitors. Although, at the end of the day (Clive) I know nothing and have no knowledge – inside or otherwise. This is merely wishful thinking based on the desire to not see our prize asset end up at the Cottage.

Could I be uber-cynical as to suggest this may even be a spoonful of sugar to help soften the blow of any eventual sale? “Hey, he’s gone folks. But at least it’s not to Fulham”. Would that even happen? Are the media that clever? Again, I don’t know. But the reaction to the Fulham story has got several fans up in arms with vows to throw away their season tickets and never come to Griffin Park again being widely published.

One tweet from the team behind fan group ‘Thorne In The Side’ shows the feeling about this potential move. Extreme? Or showing the depth of emotion amongst supporters? It notes: I’d rather Jota join ISIS than Fulham. @BrentfordFC board must NOT let this happen. There are certain lines that our club must NOT cross.

Jota tweets

This is the battle the club are up against. And it is one that can’t end with all parties happy. IF it came to it, would they let this level off feeling affect their judgement? Unlikely. Money talks and we’ve sold plenty of big names in the past. We’ve sold to our ‘nearest and dearest’ in the past (just look back all the way to Jim Towers and George Francis).

Equally, we just have no choice in the matter IF the player had decided his future is now elsewhere. If his head has been turned by mega bucks. When the alternate is to hang on to a footballer whose heart may not be in it before ultimately losing out on what would be 10% of the price of a new stadium. I’d hate to work that out in ‘premium seats’.

Again, IF it comes to it would we see this mass exodus of supporters ? No, in a word. There’d be a whole heap of frustration (and that’s me being polite). There’d be a lot of upset kids, devastated at the prospect of losing their hero. But we’ll all still come back.

Personally, I’m not looking forward to telling a four year old that Jota has joined the naughty team. Let alone if Harlee also goes. Along with Sam Saunders, the three of them have been the building blocks of his footballing education. And that’s before we even get to personal feelings about his impact and place on both the team and in our hearts. Truly, he is that unique player who seems to be universally loved.

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This could be a tricky conversation on Friday….

This would be the Championship equivalent of Michael Laudrup or Luis Figo making the switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid. Although at our level it would probably be less a pig’s head and more a Chomp bar that was flung onto the pitch by an irate supporter.

It would be frustration compounded by us not being back at Griffin Park until September 16th. Prior to that, away games at Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday will see the board sheltered up in the bosom of the gods. Shielded from the fans. Those famous old stadia being unlike Griffin Park where nothing more than a flimsy bit of chicken wire separates our masters from the Season Ticket holders threatening to walk. Little more than 10 yards separates them from the heart of the on pitch action.

Equally, and being cold, I can imagine the pragmatic view of the board is that he is one more player in a long line of talent we’ve ultimately profited from. If he has decided his future is elsewhere then let him go. Let him go. If we can cash in on a player who wants to leave then why cut off our noses? He could sign a one year extension today if he wanted. He could help us continue that push upwards and then leave in the summer. But that’s not how football works.

The club will look at the player’s desire. They will look at the money. They will look at alternatives on the right in Josh Clarke, Flo Jo and the possible return of Alan Judge. They will look at the fact that this is out of their hands and how do we make the best of a situation?

I’m desperate for him to stay. Desperate. I’d love the above to be scaremongering nonsense. I’ll be the first to hold up my hands if so. However, I’m also realistic and now fear the worst. Now fear that the last minute goal, all those last minute goals, Mark Burridge losing it at Blackburn and Jake Bidwell being made a mockery of will be consigned to the history books.

I’ll be devastated if it came to Jota swapping Griffin Park for the Cottage. But I also believe, in my heart of hearts, that specific move won’t happen.

Anything else though, who knows? Thursday night can’t come come soon enough. Please, put us out of our misery one way or another.

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This.

Nick Bruzon

Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

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FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

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(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon

QPR – Brentford game gives additional food for thought.

30 Oct

QPR 0 Brentford 2. Sorry. Just had to say that again. Our first win at Loftus Road since the mid-60s is something worth celebrating. Moreso, given the manner in which it was achieved.

Yesterday’s column looked at the highlights and (mostly) positives from that game but one thing missing from that one was a reminder of footballing past. Not the QPR fans fighting amongst themselves, as has been widely reported but more an attitude on show that was, perhaps, more associated to the era of our previous victory in Shepherds Bush.

1894 – Nettie Honeywell founds the British Ladies’ Football Club “With the fixed resolve of proving to the world that women are not the ‘ornamental and useless’ creatures men have pictured”.

1920 – 53,000 turn up on Boxing Day to watch Dick Kerr’s Ladies of Preston play St. Helen’s Ladies at Goodison Park.

1921 – The FA bans Women’s football from being played in grounds used by it’s member clubs.

1969 – The Women’s Football Association (WFA) is created with 44 member clubs.

1971 – FA lifts the aforementioned stadium ban.

1991  – Wendy Toms becomes the first women named as a ‘fourth official’ in the English football league. A role followed by her being named the Leagues first female referees’ assistant in 1994, before eventually graduating to the Premier League.

1999 – Over 90,000 spectators attended the Women’s World Cup Final.

2015 – England come third in the Women’s World Cup.

2016 – Ginsters launch their ‘food for hungry men’ campaign at EFL grounds in England.

Welcome to the strange world of football, 2016.

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After the important message delivered by the FA in regards to their views on the role of women in football with the five game ban handed out to Brentford midfielder Alan McCormack for abuse to an official including reference to gender, this is what we get.

At a time when child obesity is at an all time high and we are doing everything possible to encourage healthy lifestyle through fast paced sporting activity rather than fast food, this is what we get.

When the women’s game continues to evolve and becomes more popular than ever before, this is what we get. An advert that comes across as sexist and stupid. Hungry men are welcome, but hungry women better go elsewhere.

Come on. It’s the 21st century; not the 1920s. Is there really any need for this? Is it even appropriate? With discrimination against women and homophobic ranting quite rightly castigated as a by-product of darker times that needs to be eradicated, we’re offered what is at best a strange celebration of macho culture and at worst comes over as stealth sexism.

Would it have been possible for the EFL to tell Ginsters where to stick their snacks? Should they have done or is it simply an over-reaction? For all their promotion of gender issues and healthy living when it suits, to then take this style of advertising revenue seems somewhat case of double standards.

The eagle eyed amongst you have may have noticed a similar advertisement  in prime position by each of the goals at Griffin Park earlier in the season. These have since been removed but were, from what I understand, part of a centrally driven advertising campaign rather than any proactive effort from Brentford to try and corner the pasty market.

Look, I’m not a complete idiot. I get that a pie, along with the half time bovril, is part of football’s rich tapestry. Indeed, I’ve had many a ‘chicken balti’ at Griffin Park whilst was once lucky enough to try the boardroom specials (and they are a culinary treat that would have Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood salivating).

But why should this be exclusive to men? Why should our female fans be deemed surplus to requirements when the chance comes to quash their hunger with these artery-busting treats? Why should progressive, family clubs such as Brentford be dragged along with, and tainted by, an advertising campaign that seems very much a relic of the past?

Quite simply, would it have been that hard to swap the word ‘men’ with ‘fans’ ?

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Nick Bruzon

Scott Hogan earns the ultimate recognition but is FIFA better than Nintendo?

22 Sep

scott-hoganWith Brentford getting themselves ready for a return to action at Wolves this weekend, all the talk has been about Scott Hogan. His goals speak for themselves but, once more, those Republic of Ireland stories are doing the rounds.

Perhaps too soon for a player with just handful of Championship games but just about as many goals under his belt? Or a chance for the Irish to grab a player who is, metaphorically, ‘on fire’ and terrifying defences up and down the land? Somebody really should use that one. It might catch on. Please. No.

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 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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The height of mid-80’s video game sophistication. Spot the ball

 

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Super Soccer. Took things to new levels of, erm, super

 

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That TOTW bench

 

Nick Bruzon

As one door closes, another opens

14 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

We cannot outspend the vast majority of our competitors

and

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

So what has suddenly changed?

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

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Putting the ‘beautiful’ back into our game. THIS is why I love my club

23 Dec

What can you say? Brentford have done it again. With most fans looking forward to the Boxing Day clash with Brighton, Tuesday night saw the focus on our Junior Bees as Griffin Park opened its gates for their now annual ‘Meet the players Christmas party.’ And, as ever, Brentford showed just what a great family club we are.

The squad was out in force signing ‘player cards’, posing for photographs and taking part in all manner of football related activities. Also present were Buzz and Buzzette, along with chairman Cliff Crown.

But it was the attitude that really impressed me. To a man, they were nothing but absolutely welcoming to our young fans (along with mums and dads) when, being honest, they may well have preferred to be sat indoors in front of Holby City on what was a wet and windy evening.

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A very happy two year old

To put on an event of this nature so close to Christmas shows, yet again, what a fantastic family environment we have at Griffin Park. The players and all others involved in the set up were an absolute credit to the club.

It’s very easy to criticise and, at times this season, I have done. However, even the most Scrooge-like amongst us could only have been impressed by what happened last night. For a team knocking on the door of the Premier League (and with the Bees just two points outside the play-off zone, we all know how significant a win over Brighton at the weekend could be), it was so refreshing to see how down to earth Brentford remain.

The sport has, rightly at times, come into much criticism for having a reputation of avaricious greed whilst Messrs Platini and Blatter are hardly portraying the beautiful game in a beautiful light at present. Yet what happened at Griffin Park was a wonderful check to remind us what is at the heart of football.

Great job all round – and THANK YOU. If nothing else, I’ve now got a son who worships Buzzette. Not bad compared to this time last year.

HB and Buzzette xmas 2014 2015

Left – December 2014. Right – December 2015

The other news of note was the fantastic ‘wall of fame’ that has sprung up behind the Braemar Road stand. I know Bournemouth did something similar a few seasons back and I’d always thought this might be a nice touch if we could make our own attempt.

Well, we have, and I have to say it looks absolutely stunning. Do get along early on Saturday for a look. Honouring players from Jimmy Jay via the likes of Ken Coote, Jim Towers and George Francis it takes us on a trip through the annals of club history, right up to Kevin O’Connor.

A stunning piece of artwork and one which has the memories flooding back. If only for Gary Blissett and his short shorts.

Will any of today’s players join that illustrious list? On Saturday, we’ll take another step on the journey to finding out.

Wall of fame

Some of the more recent entries on the ‘wall of fame’

Nick Bruzon

 

How to make friends and influence people…or not

29 May

As Brentford fans wait for the managerial void to be filled (May 30th being Mark Warburton’s last day in that role) there was plenty going on elsewhere yesterday as Southend United and Charlton Athletic did their best to alienate league rivals and supporters respectively. Meanwhile, the rumour mill was linking Everton and Brentford, again, although this time with a player moving away from Griffin Park.

First up though, social media. I’ve long had a sense of nervous trepidation when clubs use their official ‘twitter’ accounts for (alleged) comedy purposes or ‘getting down with the kidz’. At best it falls flat on it’s face in a cringeworthy mess; at worst it is nothing more than bullying. Very few get it right.

I’ll spare you another lecture on #trophyfriends – our own efforts in this field are legion (whether through the official club account or employees stating their opinions regarding the team). That said, Mark Warburton and (especially) Matthew Benham seem the exception to this rule with the latter providing a number of genuinely amusing moments over the season and his use of cryptic video clues to reveal transfer news.

Matthew Benham - genius and winner of social media

Matthew Benham – genius and winner of Twitter.

Then Charlton Athletic came along and seemed to buck the ‘official trend’ . Their comment when all at the Goldsands were celebrating a promotion for Bournemouth stopped the football world dead in its tracks and made us all think….what if? This, from the club that had earlier released the security camera footage of a couple ‘scoring’ on the centre spot after breaking into The Valley (not a euphemism) – later revealed to be a stunt to promote pitch hire.

Charlton Athletic - former kings of twitter

Charlton Athletic – former kings of twitter

Then yesterday it all came crashing down.

Seemingly, the club have taken exception to one of their supporters having the temerity to suggest they invest more on the pitch than off it. Putting aside his grammatical faux pas (‘there’ rather than ‘their’ ranks alongside ‘expresso’ as typos to infuriate) was there any other reason to respond in such cutting fashion? Moreso, via that most heinous of social media weapons – a meme (surely something which should be outlawed by the Geneva convention)?

Putting down their own fans - via meme….

Putting down their own fans – via meme….

But if this act of humiliating/bullying (delete as applicable) a supporter in front of thousands was bad enough, Southend United went one better (or should that be worse?) in regards to Leyton Orient.

In a time when we are, rightly, being constantly asked to show respect on and off the pitch, they’ve really let things fester after a spat that seems to have started in February. Revenge may be a dish best served cold but this is nothing more than kicking a fellow team in the nuts when they are down. Let’s see if they live to regret this in 12 months time…

Southend United - gracious winners

Southend United – gracious winners

As for Brentford and Everton, several news sources were suggesting the Goodison Park team are showing an interest in England U-20 star, Moses Odubajo. Hopefully, this is just one of the numerous rumours floating around cyberspace that we will be deluged with as the papers desperately look for something to talk about over the summer months.

Moses has made a fantastic step up from League One to the Championship; moreso, as somebody who started as a winger and had to be shifted to right back after injury to Alan McCormack – a position he went on to occupy for the rest of the season.

Mind you, it shows how well we have done even for it to be suggested that Everton are looking at a player form the Brentford first team, rather than us raiding their youth system as has happened so many times in the last few seasons.

And finally, in the latest updated from the FIFA scandal, Sepp Blatter released another statement saying that he was totally unaware of any wrongdoing and couldn’t possibly be expected to police FIFA. Or, rather, football as he conveniently removed as much reference to his own, allegedly, corrupt organisation as was possible.

In the end it all ended up sounding a little bit ‘Bart Simpson’…

Any excuse to crowbar The Simpsons into this blog.

The amalgamated Last Word season compendium: Tales from the football village (from Saunders territory to unchartered ground), is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full.

Running from July 2014 – May 2015 it contains some additional material and is available for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme. Including all the info on our own social media highs and lows, along with a full review of the season just gone, it’s the e-book that nobody is talking about – but that you might well enjoy.

   

The waiting game sucks; let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

28 May

Not my words but those of Homer Simpson and, with almost three months until the Championship season starts once more, it could be a long wait for Brentford fans. That’s over 70 (seventy) days until we resume rivalries with the likes of Middlesbrough, Fulham and Wolves. As intriguingly, we’ll also be welcoming QPR back to a division they managed to leave for an entire season. Sadly, though, they’ll be without Joey Barton – what a midfield match up with Jonathan Douglas that would have been.

So until then, what have got to look forward to (apart from breaking out the Hungry, Hungry Hippos)? It’s only three weeks until the fixtures are published (June 17th, being the appointed date for that one) and we can start planning those trips around the country.

From a TW8 perspective, there’s no word on those two most important of things needed to start the campaign. A kit to play in and a new manager (or ’head coach’, given our new model).

At least in the case of the latter, Marinus Dijkhuizen from Dutch Eredivisie side Excelsior remains the name on everybody’s lips. If you believe what you read in the papers then he is, supposedly, set to be announced any day soon. Whilst there is no smoke without fire, I’ve been surprised by Matthew Benham too many times in the past to believe anything I read until I see it confirmed in print.

Certainly Griffin Park had nothing much going on for the casual observer yesterday, beyond the hum of machinery as work on the pitch continued.

Manager Watch: 12.32pm 27th May… No sighting

Manager Watch: 12.32pm 27th May… No sighting

As for the kit, there’s no word even on a release date. All we know is that it will be a bespoke Adidas design. As somebody who takes more interest in the history/selection of the Bee’s kit than is probably healthy, this is an announcement that I’m looking forward to as much as any over the summer.

Moreso, as the other clubs in ‘the pyramid’ have started to release their efforts with some of these even seeing the light of day at the back end of the season just gone. The always excellent ‘Historical Football Kits’ website have now officially ‘opened’ their 2015/16 gallery and for those interested in such sartorial matters, you can find that here. Crawley Town, Bradford City and Watford being among some of the braver/more creative (delete as applicable) efforts already on offer.

Until then, we’ve got the FIFA corruption case to keep us intrigued over the summer. This, following the arrest by the FBI yesterday of 6 senior officials, is sure to be a protracted affair.

That said, it also promises to be an entertaining one as the case for long desired clarity starts to build. The U.S. Department of Justice have already begun in style, mangling their metaphors with the declaration that “This is the World Cup of fraud and today we are issuing FIFA a red card.” Let’s hope they end up issuing something a little bit stronger than a stern talking to

Sepp Blatter, meanwhile, eventually released a statement in the late afternoon in which he described the events as ‘unfortunate’ although didn’t go as far as referring to football as a village. However, there was no word in this as to whether the current elections will be postponed or the World Cups of 2018 and 2022 re-evaluated.

As the clamour is sure to grow on both fronts, this may not be as quiet a summer as we might have thought a week ago.

And, in the meantime, if you want some further distraction until it all starts again, you can relive the events of 2014/15 in the amalgamated Last Word season compendium: Tales from the football village (from Saunders territory to unchartered ground)

Running from July 2014- May 2015 it contains some additional material and is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full for less than the cost of a Griffin Park match day programme.

The alternative is Hungry, Hungry Hippos

The alternative is Hungry, Hungry Hippos