Tag Archives: final

Rumour meltdown: Jota, Bentley, Maupay. And a certain game (of Liverpool bingo) awaits.

1 Jun

The wait is over. Strap yourselves in for a wild ride. This is the big one. Sure, there may be something going on in Madrid this evening between Tottenham and Liverpool (and we WILL get there for a bumper game of bingo) but back in Brentford it begins. With Aston Villa confirmed as a Premier League team, there was always going to be untold speculation linking Dean Smith with not only his old club but just about any target that may have been potentially available. Yes, clickbait season – aka the early knockings of the summer transfer window – is here.

The desperate hunt for stories and transfer news sees all manner of sources close to clubs being quoted and suspicions alluded to as news sites will publish anything in the desperate search for hits. Usually involving the phrase, “We understand that…” and  “The player is thought to be: unhappy / desperate to force a move / frustrated / keen to test himself at a higher level”.

We don’t normally do rumours on these pages but with some corkers out there at present, you have to make an exception every now and again.  I’ve already seen a lot of talk about Aston Villa making a £20million swoop for Neal Maupay. It’s an obvious link between Dean Smith and Brentford with an incredible amount of money being suggested but it won’t be happening. No chance. The player is too deeply ingrained into the set up at Griffin Park. The club love him. He loves the club. The final season in our current home is where its going to be happening.

Indeed, if anyone leaves Brentford for Aston Villa then its more likely to be somebody like now out-of-contract Yoann Barbet or Josh McEachran – both of whom thrived under Dean at the start of the season just gone. Nobody can doubt Yoann’s versatility or passion and our loss will be anybody elses’ gain when pen is eventually put to paper. As for Josh, he was widely quoted as still harbouring England ambitions and, to be fair, was one of our stand out players prior to the autumn blip in form that saw us dumping our promotion ambitions for a short lived dalliance with the lower end of the table.

But rest assured, Neal is going nowhere. His value as an individual is, of course, immense but it is his interaction with those around him something that you cannot put a price on. The link up play with the likes of Sergi, Ollie and Said was a thing of beauty to behold. He needs them as much as we need him. If nothing else, can you honestly imagine him and John McGinn in the same team? Let’s just stamp on this rumour right now.

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Going nowhere

I’ve also seen whispering of Dan Bentley to Stoke City. That one seemed pretty random and probably based on nothing more than their all-round awfulness in 2018/19 and our own goalkeeping conundrum that eventually saw duties shared. Let’s not forget our first away game of last season, at Stoke, where the opening goal he and Chris Mepham conspired to let in between them was hardly a great advert for any prospective employer. Personally, I think Dan is great and would hate to see him go. Don’t let the odd hiccup last campaign tarnish his overall quality between the Griffin Park sticks.

Yet the best rumour involves the King. Jota. Despite the quality we have now, one can’t help but go misty-eyed thinking about all he did at Griffin Park. How awful it was to see him end up in that footballing backwater and cultural desert that is Birmingham City.

Now, there are stories doing the rounds that are linking him with a move across the city to reunite with Dean Smith as part of a swap deal involving somebody called Gary Gardner. I have to be honest, he’s not a player I’m overly familiar with but , regardless of the stories validity, it’s my favourite so far. Purely because of the reaction form the St. Andrews faithful. Talk about Twitter meltdown.  

DPE3B5xW0AE7Fz4I hope this one is true. Presumably we’d be in line for any sell on clause whilst it would be incredible to see Jota in the top flight.  He has the ability, that’s for sure. Jota v Jota in the Wolves – Villa game would be magnificent. Anything that causes Birmingham City angst can only be a good thing in my book and they’re likely looking to rebalance their wage bill after last season’s little bit of bother with financial irregularities and that points deduction.  Plus he’s a shoe-in for any fantasy football selection if so.

Come on – make it happen, Dean.

The genuine news out there at present is this evening’s Champions League final between Tottenham and Liverpool. It’s a game that is harder to unravel than one of Matthew Benham’s cryptic video clues. No matter who you think is the strongest of the two, the double ‘miracle’ of the semi-finals where seemingly insurmountable leads were reeled back in prove that both teams have what it takes. And both defences must be somewhat porous to have got into that position in the first place.

If anything, Tottenham pulled off the bigger miracle. Liverpool were at home and had the full 90 minutes to reel in Barcelona. Spurs were playing in Amsterdam and had capitulated to a position that saw them needing their three goals in the second half alone. To hang in there until finally taking an aggregate lead in the 96th minute of the second leg was nothing short of incredible.

I can’t even come close to calling who will win this one. What I can predict, however, is that we’ll have a field day in Champions League final bingo. For no other reason Liverpool are playing. Chuck another English team into the mix and you can bet the related clichés will be on overdrive.

If you’d like to play along, then here’s your card….

anfield bingo

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

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What a week. What a 16 years. Why today is more than just ‘another’ game.

11 Aug

Stoke City here we come. Brentford hit the road today, safe in the knowledge that Ryan Woods remains a Bee after a somewhat uneventful, albeit tense, transfer window slammed shut on Thursday ™ . That said, there can’t be one Bees fan who doesn’t know full well there still remains a gaping hole in the middle of it through which a player could still leave before month end. This, whether to / from another Championship club. Or Lower. Whilst we may be out of the woods in terms of the ginger Pirlo heading to Swansea City, that still remains a theoretical possibility for a few weeks. And with Sam Clucas leaving the Swans for today’s hosts after initially failing to agree terms with top flight Burnley, could their interest in Woodsy now be renewed?  Or might today see a renaissance for Ryan?  

First up, Stoke City. We’ve not had a competitive fixture with the Potters since the 2002 play-off final. That was the one we lost. 2-0. Although we had the unique experience of getting beaten in Cardiff, rather than in the semi-finals or at Wembley. That was the one I attended with my Stoke supporting flat mate Phil and HB’s now godfather, Colin. Where Jack Segal of First Great Western trains tried to make an already awful day even worse on the way home by taking the train out of commission at Newport. Amongst his lesser offences. How DID that evening all work out, Jack? How much did that taxi cost? The one where Steve Coppell’s squad was not so much broken up as splintered into a million pieces immediately afterwards. 

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Move along – nothing to see here. Again.

It wasn’t a great day all round by any stretch of the imagination. Frankly, I was glad to be clear of Stoke. They changed managers a few times but would hold station until the enigmatic Tony Pulis out shone their divisional rivals to make it into the Premier league in 2006/07. It was a position the Potters would maintain until their love-in with the top flight ended in a bitter divorce at the end of last season i.e. they were relegated. And now our paths cross once more. Sixteen years later.

Cripes, Stoke look tasty. Unlike most relegated teams, they’ve been able to keep the majority of their squad together. Clucas has come in from Swansea whilst they had already strengthened with the £6m+ purchase of midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo. In addition, Dean Smith was quick to recognise other new boys including Tom Ince and Ashley Williams in yesterday’s press conference. That’s before you factor in the likes of Joe Allen or England World cup squad member, goalkeeper Jack Butland.  

Then again, the Bees look equally impressive. You can only play the opposition presented yet Saturday’s 5-1 obliteration of Rotherham was about as one-sided as it gets. This despite Ryan Woods not being named in the matchday squad after the interest from Wales. Frankly, that we ‘only’ scored five is still about as confusing as it gets. Brentford were insatiable when pushing forward and could really have made a claim on those beautiful brackets that come with a 7(seven) goal score. Yet three points and top of the table after the first round of games are about as much as one could hope for.

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View from the Braemar – a great performance against Rotherham

Today will be an infinitely sterner test. Just where is that dividing line to be drawn between Rotherham being awful and Dean Smith’s team being considered able to take that next step up? Will the team change now that Woodsy is available? Even just the bench?  Dean told the media team yesterday that “Ryan is a full member of our squad. I am very pleased he didn’t leave. We had bids and there was an unsettling period for Ryan but nothing has happened. Our valuation was not met so he remains a Brentford player.

What that means for today is unclear. I just can’t see a winning team being changed but equally, and has been noted many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. One thing Dean does is surprise us with his choice of personnel. Last season’s opening period was punctuated by no team being the same in successive games for a stretch that seemed to last about two months, if I recall correctly. Might we see more of the same?

There’s only one place to find out and that’s 3pm at the bet365 stadium (things to note not to call Lionel Road – I think I’ll cry if we run out at the LeoVegas Arena). I can’t wait for this one. If for no other reason than we get to see how well the boys do in that quite magnificent brown and orange away shirt.

Roll on kick off and see you there.

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Looking forward to seeing more of Said in the brown today

One final note on the Woodsy situation. Or, more specifically, the Swansea City situation. What mess must they be in at present? I’m not close enough to be in any position of knowledge but looking in, it seems staggering. They’ve had years in the Premier League. They have those god awful parachute payments to help keep them afloat. Former Bee Alfie Mawson was sold to Fulham for a fee noted at close to £20m. Clucas for another £6m+, yet they couldn’t reach to Brentford’s valuation (thought to be £6.5m) for a player they had been courting all window.  Then again, that Clucas deal represents a somewhat awful turnaround for a player who cost £16m from Hull City (along with Stephen Kingsley heading in the opposite direction) just 12 months earlier.

That’s not to have a dig at Swansea. Far from it. We all know what it’s like being on the wrong end of your best player leaving or financial mismanagement. More, to note once more how well we are being run and how relatively stable things are at Brentford compared to a lot of other clubs.

Great job, Mr. Benham. Now here’s to three points  today.

Nick Bruzon

 

 

There’s only one team I want to do it on Saturday. For all that is good in football.

26 May

For us Brentford fans, the season is over. A fourth top ten finish in the Championship, our last significant action of the campaign (aside from beating the Loftus Road mob, again) was Neal Maupay’s magnificent 94th minute equaliser at The Cottage in mid-April. Those two points denied to Fulham have ended up being the difference between their attaining automatic promotion to the Premier League and now finding themselves in a play-off final against Aston Villa. That game is today. Saturday.

But actually, I’m not as into it as perhaps I normally would be. This is nothing to do with excitement about the chance to play Liverpool bingo later in the Champion’s League final. More with the participants and what I’ve seen on social media this week.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

 

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Could Scott Hogan celebrate another goal today ?

 

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Nick Bruzon

 

Can Adidas and Juventus provide inspiration for Brentford?

6 Jun

It’s only Tuesday and I’m climbing the walls already. Say what you want about Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo and The Champions League but their win over Juventus on Saturday at least gave us one final taste of club football. But now that really is it until August. With tumbleweed blowing through Griffin Park at present the wait to see/ hear anything from Brentford seems, as it stands, an interminable one.

It was a final that had it all. Goals, oh those stunning goals. Open, attacking play. Sergio Ramos doing the unspeakable; Cristiano Ronaldo doing the amazing, yet again. No matter how much you want this pantomime villain to fall flat on his face, has there ever been a footballer so full of self-belief in his own ability? So consistently skillful? For every bit of strutting, posing or crying he delivers it back tenfold in goals. It’s amazing to think he is a year older than Wayne Rooney. They linked up for years at Manchester United but whilst one has stagnated and regressed, the other has gone on and on to consistently greater heights.

But we digress. I’m not here to blow smoke up Ronaldo’s backside. The final was the last flicker of a wonderful season that is now consigned to the record books. But it did get me thinking about Brentford whilst I was subsequently sniffing around the Internet, looking up various nuggets of information on the respective teams. Specifically Juventus, whose new kit is causing somewhat of a stir.

Like Brentford, they’ve redesigned their crest for the forthcoming season. Gone are the stripes and the charging bull synonymous with Turin (and a motif that that also appears on the shirt of city rival Torino) . It has been replaced by a simple graphic of a J which apparently took a year to come up with and “Is a symbol of the Juventus way of living”. Got to love a bit of marketing speak.

Personally, I hated it at first but it has grown on me somewhat. Especially compared to its somewhat busy predecessor. Sound familiar? I do wonder if there are any Juve fans who claim it looks more like a letter K?

Like Brentford, Juventus also use Adidas as a technical sponsor and, it would be fair to say, their forthcoming kit is a stunner. Although, for the record, it has no stripes on the back ! It was the picture of this that I saw yesterday which has me salivating.

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Images of the new Juventus shirt are now doing the rounds

It is similar to this year’s wonderful Brentford effort, but with a balance of black and white that should have every supporter purring. The round neck collar and button down effect adds a real retro touch whilst the stripes down the side, (which you can’t really see on this picture although the internet has plenty ) are one of the more recent Adidas innovations. But a great one.

So the question is, with this benchmark set how will Adidas fare for Brentford when our own effort is revealed? If I wan’t already keen for Mark Devlin to start his now traditional strip tease before, having seen this I’m now desperate. It’s a thing of sartorial excellence. Ronaldo may have got his hands on the cup but he’ll never look this good.

Is it too much to hope we could have something similar? I remain a huge advocate of our 2016/17 shirt but even I would happily admit that this one, in red and white, would blow it off the (Griffin) Park. So much so that using some cruddy photoshop skills I’ve tried to recreate it just to see how we could, theoretically, look. And apologies for the poor quality, but you try doing this at six in the morning.

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Cruddy photoshop but you get the jist. Possibly

As for the away shirt, well if we’re playing fantasy football at present then I would refer you back to another Adidas effort.

This time, that of Real. Although Betis rather than Madrid. Specifically their 2015/16 special to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman. One of my favourite efforts in recent years, I’d love to see how this looked with the Brentford badge on it.

It’ll never happen. But one can dream.

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It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

Along with dreaming about kit, the other traditional thing at this time of year is the plugging of the season review e-book. Please. Stay with me – this time around it is for a great cause . All funds raised from downloads of Welcome Home, King Jota are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales from the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up here. It’s all for a great cause and, hey, you may even enjoy it.

So PLEASE. Do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the daily commute, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at work?

For less than the cost of half a pint on match day, it’s the season review that has been designed to fit in your pocket (if you are using an i-phone).

If nothing else, Father’s Day is approaching. Just saying….

Nick Bruzon

One out of three ain’t bad. Ian Holloway does it again as Huddersfield make it so (sorry).

30 May

That really is it. Football is over for the season. Congratulations to Huddersfield Town who made it up to the Premier League after beating Reading on penalties. For the Royals, a return to Griffin Park awaits as they endured a pain us Brentford fans know only too well – play off capitulation.

In truth, the first ten minutes aside, it was a dreadful game. Huddersfield came flying out of the blocks and looked like they were going for broke. Yet after missing two gilt edged chances from Izzy Brown and Michael Hefele it soon settled down into a game of cat and mouse. Cagier than a cage fight between Nicolas Cage and Xander Cage, it was two and half hours we’ll never get back.

But frankly, who cares? Whether you win on penalties or in a 4-3 goalfest, the net result is the same. Promotion for one side and tears for the other.

So football aside (and largely because there wasn’t any) what did we learn from yesterday’s game? Well, apparently Patrick Stewart was there. Yes, I know, you probably missed it too.

The Star Trek and X-men actor being to Huddersfield as Rhino from the Quo or Cameron Diaz (allegedly) are to Brentford. And once the cameras had picked him up, that was it. We saw as many shots of him as we did of Reading fans crying. Yes Sky, we get it – there’s Picard. Again. All we needed was a ‘make it so’ pun for a full house.

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What a miss from Izzy Brown

We learned, once more, that penalties are a most wonderful thing for the neutral to watch. Yet for the players and fans the most painful of all ways to decide promotion. Unless you are on the winning side in which case seeing your fate revealed at the exact moment of that one, decisive kick must be the most incredible feeling ever. Again, something us Brentford fans can’t really relate to. Play-off success (8 doomed attempts so far) or promotion sealing penalty kicks being something that we don’t overly talk about.

But the real talking point to come out of it was that Ian Holloway is to making pre-season predictions as Donald Trump is to tact and diplomacy. We’ve already mentioned his efforts for Sky TV on these pages many times. Holloway, not Trump. Indeed, they form much of the thrust in the current 2016/17 Championship season review. That’s available now on e-book, with all proceeds going to the Community Sports Trust.

But a focus on Holloway is no surprise given his prediction of Brentford to finish 22nd, and the narrative:  “Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble”.

Well, that one was thrown royally back in his face. We did the double over QPR, including a 3-1 win over his side at Griffin Park, as the Bees finished 11 points and 8 places above the not so super hoops. Our own management had immediately poo-poo’d his prediction at the fan forum and how great to see the confidence rewarded.

But for Huddersfield Town, he predicted even worse. They came out at 23rd in his table and his own summary of their fate was: “I haven’t seen much progression from the club during the back end of last season. David Wagner is pretty inexperienced and if results turn, then they may struggle to turn things around”.

If 22nd to 10th was a mile out, then 23rd to the Premier League was  his failng to hit a barn door with banjo in a brewery. An incredible miss on the punditry front.

It was a point well made in the aftermath of Huddersfield triumph. Not by the fans but the manager, who offered “Ian Holloway , all the best for the next season” . And the team, chanting “There’s only one Ian Holloway” as they celebrated in the dressing room.

Hey, at least Ian got basement club Rotherham United right. One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

Congratulations David Wagner. Congratulations Huddersfield. Tough luck Reading. We’ll see you at Brentford next season.

And, as noted earlier, 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. It’s all for a great cause and, hey, you may even enjoy it, Unless your name is Ian H…..

Nick Bruzon

This is the big one (for Wagner). And a special ‘thank you’ for Bees fans.

29 May

This is it. Today’s the day Brentford discover their final Championship opponent for next season. The play-off final sees Huddersfield Town and Reading doing battle in the, so-called, £100million match. Certainly, that’s the figure usually quoted in TV revenue for the team fortunate enough to come out on top in the choke off (there’s no other word for it) to reach the Premier League. That said, reading an article in The Independent last week, they are quoting it being as much as £170m rising to £290m. That’s just incredible.

For the winner . Riches and acclaim. Then the chance to see if they’ll emulate the likes of Watford, Bournemouth or Burnley in survival rather than Hull City and Middlesbrough with an immediate return. For the loser there’ll be tears, ‘if onlys’, the chance to come back Griffin Park (see – its not all bad) and inevitable comparisons to Derby County.

As a neutral, I love watching the play-offs. Moreso, this match. The FA Cup on Saturday was fantastic. Much as it loathes me to say it, Arsenal fully deserved their victory as Premier league Champions Chelsea were swept away. Victor Moses performing the worst dive since Greg Louganis cracked his head on the board during the 1988 Olympics pretty much summed up their effort.

Yet talking to a friend in The Griffin (other pubs are available) during the game, the conversation turned to the relevance of that tournament. It is the world’s oldest cup competition and, as a Brentford fan, I’d simply love us to do well. To embark on an epic cup run. To perhaps emulate that wonderful run of 88/89 or even go one better. To take a tinfoil cup to Wembley itself.

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The Bees haven’t reached an FA Cup quarter final since Liverpool in 88/89

But for other teams, certainly at the business end of the top flight, it is treated largely as an afterthought throughout most of the campaign. Weakened teams are fielded in what has become more of a nice to win than a need to win. Qualification for the Champions league, and the riches/prestige that come with that, is very much viewed as the ‘must have’ prize by many.

Did Spurs have a better season by finishing second in the Premier league and reaching that European tournament? Or could Arsenal, who played like they really wanted it, be argued to have been the more successful through getting their name on a trophy but missing out on the big one in Europe? The romantic in me says it is the FA Cup. The realist in me knows just what the Champions league can bring in terms of revenue and reputation to those clubs whose financial model and being able to compete absolutely rely on repeat qualification.

As it stands, Brentford are yet to make an FA Cup final (I’m not counting the War cup) or reach the play-off for the Premier League. That said, we gave it quite a go in 2014/15 when Middlesbrough were all that stood between us and a trip to Wembley for a crack at the top flight. Move along. Nothing to see here beyond another notch in the bedpost marked ‘challenging record’ after 8 attempts made.

Yet I’ll absolutely be glued to the screen this afternoon when Huddersfield and Reading walk out. This is no ‘nice to have’ match. This is all about the pressure and the reward that comes with victory. Everybody knows what is at stake. It is a game that combines the prestige of winning the FA Cup with the finances that come with making the Champions’ league.  There’ll be a global audience tuned in to this in a battle of who can hold their nerve.

Let’s be honest, nobody could pick a definite winner out of these two. I’m still amazed Reading made it, certainly based on the way Brentford played against them this season. Huddersfield led the table early and did the double over the Bees, yet it was the Royals who came third and despatched a very, very good Fulham team along the way. Much as it pains me to admit.

Instead, we’ll just have to leave this one to the players on the day. Who wants it more? Personally, I’m backing David Wagner’s team. And for no more illogical reason than the oft made reference on these pages to him and that one time X-Factor singer, err, Wagner.

Well, it seems that now worlds have actually collided. And how!! I’m not sure if this is car crash or sheer brilliance. Enjoy…

And finally.. a HUGE thank you to call those who have already downloaded this year’s e-book: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all funds from this one (and the previous titles) are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17 you can pick it up, here. Along with all the usual Brentford stuff, we look at how the Championship season played out as teams came and went aswell as the ‘other stuff’ (fans of Mrs. Brown and her boys should probably look away now).

Hearing Yoann Barbet and Lasse Vibe speak at the player of the year dinner after sharing the Community player of the year award for the work they do with the Trust was truly inspirational. We all know how wonderful our club is and so, from a personal note, I’d love to make some gesture back – no matter how small.

Downloading any of the titles is now for a great cause. Hey, you may even enjoy reading. Funnier things have happened.

THANK YOU

This is it - the latest version now available. For a great casue

The latest version now available – for a great cause
Nick Bruzon

Who spent Saturday wandering around Griffin Park? Who spent Sunday in pole position at the EFL cup final?

27 Feb

Well that was some weekend. A 4-2 win for Brentford over Rotherham United will never be remembered as the classic that the scoreline suggests. That said, it will be remembered for the unadulterated excitement of seeing Jota wrap up his first hat-trick for the Bees. Yet with a lazy Sunday beckoning for the Griffin Park faithful and a chance for us all to recover from Saturday’s exertions, the Manchester United – Southampton EFL final at the W place in North London saw one of our number still hard at work.

First up though, the rest of the weekend round up from Griffin Park. Sitting where we do just below the director’s box, it really is the perfect place for seeing the great and the good from the world of football. And with Rotherham United in town, surely this would be the perfect place for spotting a Chuckle Brother or two?

Sadly, neither Paul of Barry were present. Or, if they were, they were maintaining a very low profile. Instead of the Chuckle Brothers, we had to be content with Rasmus putting in an appearance ‘upstairs’ and a rare pre-match sortie along the Braemar Road touchline from Dean Smith. Likewise, suspended Harlee Dean spent the day wandering around Griffin Park.

A prematch appearance in the club shop was followed by a similar touchline stroll to Dean aswell as then being spotted, twice, doing his thing on the forecourt at half time. It speaks volumes about our club that the manager (head coach) and captain can still walk around so easily, albeit happy to stop for autographs and photos, without being harangued by baying masses.

As my own guest for the day, Cousin Charles (and those who know of his ‘connections’ and win ratio should be chaining him to the terrace) would later note – Imagine that happening at Manchester United or Chelsea. There’d be mayhem.

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Harlee looking up at the Director’s box before kick off. A fan of the Chuckle Brothers?

Instead, its just Brentford. We know our players. We’ve all met them and, with the tight environs of Griffin Park being what they are, it is the most natural thing in the world to see them up close and personal. Long may this continue. Long may the likes of Dean Smith and Harlee Dean feel comfortable enough to walk around in such close proximity to the supporters.Long may they both be as personable and friendly as they were on Saturday.

But if Dean and Harlee were spotted somewhat out of context, it was nothing compared to Cliff Crown on Sunday. Having been afforded the rare privilege of being allowed to watch an entire football match undisturbed after a roast beef lunch, yours truly took full advantage and wasn’t let down by the EFL Cup final .

Whatever your thoughts on the tournament itself, the game between Manchester United and Southampton was a stone cold classic. United being somewhat fortunate to come away with a 3-2 win that left the neutrals purring and Fantasy Football managers up and down the land crowbarring Manolo Gabbiadini into their teams.

But with United victorious and Wayne Rooney, who hadn’t even made it off the subs bench, kitted up and preparing to lift the trophy John Terry style, there was a surprise in store. Was that Cliff Crown in the royal box? The Brentford chairman? Sure enough, and with apologies for ruining the moment of the Southampton players receiving their runner’s up medals, a double take on the ‘rewind’ button confirmed the very same.

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Cliff and Brentford jacket on full display

Even better, he’d gone in there with his Brentford colours on full display. Awesome stuff, Cliff. We may have missed the Chuckle Brothers in the Griffin Park box on Saturday but this more than made up for it the next day.

Brentford at Wembley. Who’d have thought it possible this season? Here’s hoping that next year we get a chance to do it for real.

Nick Bruzon

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup (quarter final)

27 May

That’s controversial. The Football Association have announced that FA Cup quarter final replays are to be scrapped. Brentford haven’t reached that stage since playing Liverpool in the 1988/89 campaign but this could still have significant impact. And following on from yesterday’s article about the most recent Terrace Talk double bill, we take a quick look at what the next logical step for next season could be.

But first, those changes to the FA Cup. Chief Executive Martin Glenn has been quoted as saying that as part of an ongoing review, this move “adds excitement”.   Whilst the replays will stay in place up to and including round 5, this move is also intended to help ease fixture congestion.

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The Bees haven’t played an FA Cup quarter final since Livepool in 88/89

Of course, we’ve already seen replays in the semis and the final itself disappear in recent years but those are played at a neutral ground. Or Wembley as it has been known since the national stadium was reopened.

And this is what strikes me as odd. You are changing the rules mid-tournament and handing a massive advantage to the home team in this quarter final stage.

The traditionalist in me would love replays to run all the way through to the final but that’s just not going to happen given the already overcrowded calendar.  At least, though, those games take place at a stadium that, travel aside, favours neither team. This is different.

The chance to hold on for the draw and bring them back to your place is gone. And does this mean that in the bid for further fixture review we’ll follow suit in the earlier rounds? Surely it should be all or nothing?

Instead of the ongoing devaluation of our oldest cup competition, if you want to ease fixture congestion then just scrap the Worthless aka League Cup. Most teams use this as an excuse to play the kids anyway – even Brentford who ended up on the wrong end of last season’s 4-0 humbling at home to Oxford United. Three goals down before 8pm (it had been a 7.45 kick off) we got everything we deserved after joining the ranks of those paying lip service to this tournament.

And while we’re at it, semi-finals at Wembley. Just no. No. The final should be a showpiece event. A trip to Wembley should be that rarest of treats and due reward for making the last round. Not a dress rehearsal to maximise revenue for the FA and cause supporters all manner of travel headaches. Villa Park, Hillsborough ,The Emirates and Old Trafford are amongst those which would be more than able to handle an event of this nature and restore some much needed tradition to the tournament.

Ah yes, but apparently Wembley allows the maximum amount of people to see the semis. That’ll be the sound of the woodwork being vacated. And by that logic, play the quarters there too. Hey, what about some plum fourth round ties?

As I say, this will all make little difference to Brentford, anyway. We’ve struggled to get past the 3rd round since that epic, Gary Blissett inspired run took us all the way to Anfield and the 4-0 loss at the hands of all conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads). The odd dalliance with the middle stages aside, from which I’d imagine Gary Breen is still having DJ Campbell inspired nightmares, we’re normally done by the end of January. But you can still live in hope.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 v his beloved Manchester City in the FA cup 4th round

Back to Griffin Park and yesterday’s article focussed on the brilliance of Terrace Talk. Which then got the mind wandering over the course of the day (outside of working hours, if you’re reading boss)  – how do we top it next time out?

First thought was a couple of ‘one-off specials’ . We’ve already talked about a kit launch special but how about a day in the life of Griffin Park? Jo and Sean taking us through the match day routine – from the Griffin Park gates being unlocked int he morning to the floodlights being turned off at the end of the day. All, of course, delivered via their own enthusiastic spin.

How about ‘Terrace Talk on the road’ ? Brentford travel well and it would give those who couldn’t make the game a chance to see things they would, ordinarily, get an insight on.

Or rather than Terrace Talk, could Jo or Sean take things to the next level with Dressing Room Talk ?  Cameras in the changing rooms aren’t a new thing but how good would it be to get the player’s take on Jo’s ‘big question’ before the game and, perhaps, their views on performance at full time.

Could it happen? Who knows? Just as long as those Terrace Talks cameras are back in one form or another then I’ll be a happy man.

Jo Tilley Terrace Talk

Will Jo do the ‘walk and talk’ next season?

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

 

The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos

25 May

This Saturday evening sees the denouement of a wonderful Championship season as Hull City AFC take on Sheffield Wednesday in the play off final. To the victor the spoils of Premier League glory and wealth. To the loser, a chance to visit Griffin Park once more as Brentford discover their penultimate opponent for 2016/17.

I can’t call this one. The head says a Hull City team that I’ve been tipping for promotion all season (that, a bet to rank alongside Red Rum for the National) will do it. Yet Wednesday, backed by the awesome/awful (delete as applicable) power of ‘that band’ swept aside Brighton in the semis to book their place at the W place in style. In the most high pressure, high stakes match imaginable we all know that league placing counts for nothing and it so often comes down to who can hold their nerve.

Don’t expect any more in depth analysis on these pages. As ever, the BBC or official sites are infinitely better places to go. Instead, the final is mentioned almost with a pang of regret.

Nobody needs another run down on Brentford and the play offs at the moment. We’ve a worse record than One Direction covering ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ (imagine. Actually, don’t ) yet at the same time, there’s a pang of regret that we aren’t involved.

Given the topsy-turvey season we had, with head coach Dean Smith admitting as recently as March that Brentford were involved in a relegation scrap, that may be an odd thing to say. But don’t forget that likewise at the turn of the year we were within touching distance of the play off zone after the 2-1 victory at Reading in late December. That, the game where Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos rewrote the rulebook for ‘goal of the season’ competitions.

We all know what happened after that though. Being polite, form headed South. That said, a wonderful run-in saw the Bees mid-season endeavours bolstered by a series of high scoring victories that lifted us to a final position of 9th in the table. And having ended on such a high, just shy of those normally dreaded play off spots, I’m desperate for it all to start once more.

The new signings were looking a much more cohesive unit and we proved we could win without Alan Judge (although in what desperate circumstances and how good to see him back on his feet). Academy graduate Tom Field gave a wonderfully assured debut at left back whilst the return of Scott Hogan is a story with a happier ending than Cinderella.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field featured in the first team against Fulham

Did we deserve the play offs? No. Not over the course of an entire season. Did we tantalise and torture the fans in equal measure? Absolutely .

Hey, looking back that’s no bad thing, no matter how frustrating it might have felt at times. To finish 5th and 9th in our first two Championship seasons, operating on a parachute-less budget, is a stunning achievement.

And I’m desperate to go again already. Saturday’s final will be one last taste of Championship action before the summer months start to kick in. And then we play the waiting game.

It’s not one I particularly enjoy although, at the least, do have a couple of ‘new look’ features currently under development for the coming campaign (Opposition view – The last word on….. in particular). Yet at the end of the day (Clive), it’s not the same. To quote Homer Simpson, “The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos.”


Who am I to disagree?

Plug time: And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon

A potential silver lining as another part of next season falls into place

17 May

Monday evening saw Brentford learn another opponent for next season as the horror and the brilliance of the play-offs was combined in equal measure. Despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents , Brighton were unable to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit and so it is Sheffield Wednesday who reach the final next weekend. Barring a minor miracle, Hull City (who complete formalities at home to Derby tonight, 3-0 up) will be the only thing in their way as the Premier league beckons.

The nice part of me feels dreadfully for Brighton right now. The were in ‘automatic’ for long parts of the season and finished level on points with promoted Middlesbrough. Only two goals split the respective teams, with Boro ending the campaign on 89 points and +32 ; the Seagulls 89 points and + 30.

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The BBC table doesn’t lie

Wednesday, meanwhile, finished 15 points behind the Seagulls and had gone into the semi on anything less than great form. Only 2 wins out of the last 7(seven) suggested a team who had as much chance as Derby County of making the final. Yet, as we all know, form counts for nothing and the play-offs are a fickle mistress.

If one team can feel Brighton’s pain right now it is Brentford. Our play off form is only matched by Sheffield United, in making it 8 attempts without winning the final. Even Preston, finally, breaking their hoodoo last season making it 1 win out of 10 to join us in the Championship.

For the record, our own campaign trail of woe reads.

1990/91 : Lost. SF. Tranmere Rovers (2-3)

1994/95 : Lost. SF. Huddersfield Town (2-2; pens)

1996/97 : Lost. Final. Crewe (0-1)

2000/01 : Lost. Final. Stoke City (0-2)

2004/05 : Lost. SF. Sheffield Wednesday (1-3)

2005/06 : Lost. SF. Swansea City (1-3)

2012/13 : Lost. Final. Yeovil Town (1-2)

2014/15 : Lost. SF. Middlesbrough (1-5)

I take no pleasure from seeing any team go through what we have done. Many times. If ever a reminder were needed (it wasn’t) about just how cruel the play-offs can be it was here. If ever a reminder was needed of the importance of grabbing ever point and every goal over the course of the regular season then last night served up yet another example.

Yet, at the same time, whilst I do have sympathy I also have some selfishness about this. As one observer noted on Twitter last night, “Brighton away its too good a trip to be wasted on the Premier League”.

I’ve got no new interest in Sheffield  – been there, done it, eaten their (albeit lovely) pies and heard ‘that band’ many times. Should Hull win the final, then no doubt I may go (again).

But a guaranteed trip to the Amex is only a fantastic thing for Brentford. A short hop on the train. A day out by the coast. A full house of Bees in the away end. A cracking atmosphere.

Nick mascots Brighton

The Albion mascots – it feels like cheating on Buzzette

Sheffield are welcome to take their band and Hi-Ho, Silver Lining (see also: Let me Entertain you / We are the Champions for ‘overplayed stadium songs’ ) to the top flight. Good luck to them. Genuinely. I’ve always enjoyed going there and wish them no ill will.

But a trip to the Amex, something that many of us were denied this time around thanks to the decision making of Sky TV, can only be viewed as a positive. At least, for us visiting fans.

To be honest, missing out on that trip this time around was probably no bad thing (and if you’d like to read more about that, or the season just gone then you know the drill – it’s here). Brentford were abject when we went down 3-0 in February.

For that reason alone, redemption, I’m already looking forward to another visit. Now, where’s that railcard…?

Until then, this may remain on the cards. Still, if Wednesday do go up there will be one silver lining.

Enjoy

And finally, as ever, genuine thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the aforementioned Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). It is somewhat humbling that people 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