Tag Archives: final

Coming home or going to Rome? Mowbray or Matterface? Doctor, no.

11 Jul

Sunday. Not long now until England face Italy at Wembley to decide who will be crowned Euro 2020 Champions. Will football be coming home or going to Rome? Yet the main team battle will, of course, be between ITV and BBC. Which channel will viewers opt for? Which set of pundits and commentators will the viewing public choose? Back in Brentford, we’ve the usual transfer rumours (Liverpool  – Harry Wilson – and Celtic – Kris Ajer –  the latest clubs linked to the Bees) although any actual substance is about as rare as somebody joining the England Supporters Band fanclub. So we’ll gloss over that unless time permits.

Besides, it’s all about Wembley today. A chance for the Three Lions to finally get their hands on some silverware. Assuming the Jules Rimet doesn’t count (for those unaware, England  / West Ham did lift that golden trophy back in 1966. If only somebody had said). It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be laden with cliche. It’s going to be a titanic battle. It’s going to be ITV v BBC. But which way to go?

The head and heart immediately lean away from ITV. And there are only two words needed. Sam. Matterface. An over excitable puppy of a commentator, well out of his depth on a big occasion and doing everything possible to get on everybody’s nerves with his OTT enthusiasm. Think Scrappy Doo with a microphone. How many people lost their jobs this week as a result of his giving us all the day off? Oh, the scenes. (cringe).  

What about the BBC? The calm experience of Guy Mowbray in the commentary box. Lineker, Shearer and Lampard in the studio. Along with Rio Ferdinand (used to play for Manchester United. Mentioned it once). The rock solid Gabby Logan out on the touchline with Alex Scott and Jürgen Klinsmann. Plus the benefit of no adverts – although I wouldn’t put it past them to sneak one in there for Doctor Who. They’ve got form at this sort of thing. Sadly.

Who could forget how during the 2014 World Cup final they crowbarred the trailer for the then forthcoming new series into the middle of the half-time analysis. It was a horribly awkward moment. Lineker, for once, seemed genuinely lost for words as any momentum for the second half was immediately washed away. It was a moment that caused the remote control to switch channels to ITV, and for that to happen… 

Then, in 2016, there was the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley between Everton (not a typo) and Manchester United. It should have been one to get the juices flowing but instead, the BBC once again delivered a Tardis shaped turd by using the game to announce the identity of Doctor Who’s new…. ‘assistant’. Not even the eponymous Doctor (like Fox, not a real doctor) but merely his sidekick. 

Please. No. As was noted at the time I like Doctor Who (much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin) and have what could politely be called more than a passing interest in the great game of football. Yet to jam them together just seems like some cheap-arsed attempt to boost audience figures. It is one that detracts from both events. To be honest, even making ‘an event’ out of a new cast member for the Sci-Fi classic seems like an unnecessary stunt, anyway.

So sure, the BBC may have a strong team but they always have the threat of a rogue timelord. Don’t put it past new ‘companion’ John Bishop (a Liverpool fan, I’m led to believe) putting in an appearance to kill the football vibe. 

Let’s not forget, either, that ITV have two absolute trump cards up their sleeve.

Firstly, the wonderful Emma Hayes on punditry duty. We’ve waxed lyrical about her already on these pages and I can never hear enough of her in-game analysis. Then, there’s the jewel in the crown of TV football – Roy Keane. He’s worth the admission money alone for what could politely be called ‘forthright’ views. His duels (think of a cat toying with a spider) with Adrian Chiles were the stuff of legend and he still continues to shine.  

It really IS a tough choice. The BBC aren’t the shoe-in that, at first glance, you might think. Could Keane and Hayes pull Matterface out of the… deep end? His time will come, just perhaps for now he needs the support.

Might the beeb run themselves out with their own self promotion? A hare and a tortoise of a commentary race with an equally surprise ending? Like England v Italy itself, I can’t call this one. It’s too tight. Home or Rome? Matterface or Mowbray? It should be Rocky v Drago. The underdog v the Colossus. But shocks can happen. Cripes, if Brentford can win at Wembley then anything is possible. Roll on 8pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Kitman Bob, he writes what he wants. A week before destiny.

3 Jun

Brentford are in the Premier League. Repeat. Brentford ARE in the Premier League. If the Bournemouth play-off semi-final was immense, Saturday at Wembley against Swansea was next level. I’m still smiling now. Then, when it couldn’t get any better, it did. The chance to share the build up from inside the Bees camp arrived, courtesy of none other than the legend that is Big Bob Oteng. 

Our club Kitman and all-round Bees’ hero has collected his thoughts from the end of that epic encounter with The Cherries right through the build-up to Swansea and the final whistle at Wembley. A sneak-peak behind the curtain of just what went on and just why we won. But written in his own quite wonderful words.

Over to you Bob. A week before destiny. In his words…. and pictures.

Saturday.

It’s 4:55 PM and we’ve just won 3-1 in a game that had everything a football fan could wish for. As long as you’re on the winning side that is!!

The players have done the usual applauding of the fans in every section of the ground and I follow behind after making sure the old footballs were present and correct in certain sections. I’m greeted with the obligatory ‘Big Bob’ song !

As I enter the dressing room there seems to be different vibe and I mean a totally different vibe to a dressing room that has just won a football match. Brian Mbeumo give us a little speech prompted by Thomas who then brings the room to a silence, says one more and then retreats to his office. As I head back to the kitroom it’s the first time in these play offs I allow myself to start thinking of lions on the new shirt !!!

Monday

I arrive at the training ground early Monday morning, 6.40am. Thomas is already there which in itself isn’t unusual but there are a number of other coaches also present. Something big must be happening !! 

During the weekend Wembley emailed requesting how I would like the dressing room to look. I put in my request and they reply “is that all” as I can see  we are in the East as we were last season. Also during the weekend I’ve had countless DM messages from fans requesting to know what colour keep we will be playing in. This continued throughout the week until the reveal on Friday. As the team finishing the season in the highest position, we get choice of kit colours.

What I had done previously on the Saturday evening was to ask all the Brentford players what they wanted to play in. Each one of them just said RED & WHITE. David wanted his favourite amarilla.  It was such an air of confidence when they all said it.  I more than anyone knew about that red/white supposed curse on teams at Wembley. Last season I pushed for blue, now I just felt it could be time for the curse to be  broken and banished to history by the BEES.

Tuesday

Thomas had already told the players that he wants to build up to Saturday to be like an ordinary week. For the last two days nobody had really discussed what happened on Saturday because we were all there, we all witnessed it and there was a quiet air of confidence at Jersey Road.  

On a Tuesday before a Saturday game is when I start to prep the match kit for the weekend but this was no ordinary game. I had to apply NHS badges to each playing shirt,  to show gratitude for such a wonderful service that has served us all through such difficult times and not just during the last 18 months. Also new sleeve patches showing PLAY-OFFS.

As I prepped all the outfield players kits I started asking myself which one will get us to the promised land? Even a last-minute David Raya header would be welcome. They all will, as that’s what good teams do. The nerves are now building !!!

Wednesday

WELL EARNED DAY OFF FOR THE  PLAYERS !! However, I had to be in as new tracksuits and polo shirts are being delivered for the big day,  ( no white suits )…

Thursday

Today was quite relaxed for me. I’d prepped all the kit Tuesday / Wednesday and now I was waiting for the final squad to be confirmed or any additions from Saturday. 

I walked over to pitch 2 with a hint of curiosity and I have to say the boys looked absolutely on fire. Not sure whoever we are facing are going to be able to contain them for 90min.  Bernardo was walking the boys through some new set pieces For me Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.

Brian Riemer confirmed the squad was as per Saturday. As we chatted in his office, he asked me what I think will happen, (déjà vu took me back to the same question last August. I said then we will win, but when I say it now I truly believed it. All based on the previous Saturday).  I did my final checks and left Jersey Road with such a nervous feeling inside of me. Two more sleeps !!

Friday

Friday was a late report. 2pm for 3pm start.  Thomas had gone round to every member of Jersey Road staff requesting that they be on the training pitch for 3:45pm precisely. At 3:40 all the staff slowly ambled from the pavilion across to  pitch 2. Training was still going on ( patterns of play) – looked very nice these patterns !! 

Training over ran. Brian, Thomas and Kev drilling down certain instructions to the squad.  Once it finished, Thomas called over all the staff to join him with the players. We all formed a massive circle – it was actually the circumference of the centre circle. Thomas stood in between Pontus and Christian and delivered a speech that would have got me ready to play tomorrow. Two VIP coaches arrive at 4pm, we have a light snack and everything is loaded and we depart for the Hotel (dinner 7pm).

I keep my routine the same. Ring home and speak to the family. My little man is excited,  he actually predicts that Vitaly would score, (his favourite player). Myself Manu and Bernardo have usual Friday away night Spanish ritual (sobre la mesa). To discuss the next day and life over the table. We started it Friday night before Preston away.

SATURDAY THE DAY !!

Especially on away games I like to get up by 7am and go for a walk before breakfast. On my walk I passed a bar called The Hive. I also have lots of thoughts  about my friend Rob Rowan, I’m not really one for superstition but 95% of me thinks today is going to be our day !! 

The usual bus ride to the stadium is replaced by myself Peter G, Sladey, Joe N, Lorna walking the 500 yards to the entrance to the stadium. We pass the Hive then, as if my magic, we are met by big Shaun. Big Shaun is the main security tunnel steward at Lionel road, now I’m convinced todays the day.

We arrive at the stadium 10:45am We walk round which seems to be underground beneath 90,000 seats. So many people in suits all directing us in the right direction. If it’s your first time at Wembley you can be in awe. There were so many white sky OB trucks, it looked like a flock of flamingos at a watering hole.

The dressing room looks magnificent. It feels different to the last year. I set the players up in a totally different formation. Pontus likes to sit in the corner of any dressing room but this is going to be hard to achieve as it’s shaped like a horseshoe. 

There are two dressing rooms with a smaller one for the staff. I take 10 minutes to have a look around and have a look outside. I begin my favourite part of my working day (apart from a win at the end) ! By 12:30pm I’m happy and everything is done. 12:45 Mike the Swansea kit man pops in to have a catch up. We both have a laugh about not going to each other’s respective stadiums next season.

The players arrive at 1:15pm.  I sit in the corner of the staff dressing room playing word search on my phone,  Reidy wants a change of socks, then it back to word search. I’ve done 5 levels on my word search game and then it’s time for the warm up. The dressing room looks the same as it does on every away game. Sliders everywhere. Emiliano’s sliders always in the centre of the room. I’m sure it’s a thing with him. 

The nerves are kicking in now and I try and find work to kill the time. The boys come in, do their rituals pads on shirts on then it’s huddle time.  Christian delivers an emotional speech and again I wish I was going out to play.

The first 45 minutes for me are the best in 25 years. I can remember it all which is very rare for me. At half time the boys are really calm. Thomas is calm. All the messages are delivered in a calm way and I know that today is our day. I’m so confident I didn’t emerge for the second half until the 92nd or 93rd minute. Those last two minutes went really quickly but at the final whistle I went over to Mike and wished him commiserations. I run onto the pitch to join the huddle and just started jumping around. I don’t remember much after, hence I’ve watched the game back in full twice and the celebrations countless at times on social media. Also all the pictures will be sent at some point.

This day and this season I will never forget both personally and professionally. It has sunk in for me because I always knew the at one point during my time with  Brentford we  would reach the promised land, and I am so grateful and privileged that I was a small cog in the wheel of this wonderful bus stop in Hounslow about to join the premier league express !!

Bob Oteng

The time is now. One More Game….

29 May

Here…. We…. Go….. Saturday morning. The day has come. Brentford face Swansea City in the play-off final at Wembley. The prize, indescribable. The anticipation, immense. Gone are the nerves that have so preceded our previous nine bites at this particular promotion cherry. Now, there is only optimism. Now, there is only the knowledge that if our team do what we all know they are capable of then the top flight awaits. Turn up. Win game. Get promoted. Oh, it sounds so simple. In theory.

Can Ivan fire us to glory? 31 goals in the regular season is immense

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, our record. We all know Brentford have been in the play-offs nine times before, as recently as last season’s Championship final. We all know that Brentford have lost in the play-offs nine times before. Only Preston North End match that and even they won at the tenth attempt.

And?  For me, Clive, it is an utter irrelevance. History counts for naff all. It is a run that stretches back to 1990/91 and Tranmere Rovers. That’s over thirty years. A huge swathe of our fans wouldn’t even have been alive as Kevin Godfrey squared things up in the first leg before the Bees set off on that epic run of statistical anti-form. It happened and it has happened since. Thing is, we were a different club then. An outfit that needed to sell to survive. Had no budget. No genuine hope of going up, despite the best endeavours of everyone on the pitch and in the stands. Every few years the balance of playing staff would fit and we’d make a decent run at the top six or beyond. Then, we’d inevitably be forced into selling our one star player and the rebuilding process for another stab a few years later would begin again. 

Chuck in a few cruel hands from fate – finishing second yet still being forced into this mini lottery against Huddersfield in 94/95, where the penalties still haunt as though it were yesterday – and you could forgive supporters for being wary.

That was then. This is now. Where once we had Gus Hurdle, now we have Henrik Dalsgaard.  Instead of seeing goal machine Nicky Forster being sold, we now have Ivan Toney banging them in for fun. It could be anyone  – like for like the current team would undoubtedly beat any of those that have gone before were it somehow possible to throw them together. Gus and Nicky only mentioned as much because they were two of my favourites from an era that ended with the complete no-show against Crewe Alexandra. Watch the highlights again should you possess the masochistic vibe of wanting to see just how awful we were that day.

So yes, looking back at what ultimately boils down to intermittent games in a three decade stretch, one can imagine Roy Castle and Norris lining up to explain to an excited studio audience of boy scouts and school kids what has happened previously. How bad it may look on paper. Thing is, records are there to be broken. Good or bad. The performances of David McGhee and Robert Taylor 25 years ago will have no bearing on what Vitaly Janelt and Sergi Canos do today. The fans may remember and rightly so. If anything, it will only make any triumph even sweeter. 

Sergi has been immense this season

Watching the ITV News last night one of the Brentford segments included a piece with Thomas Frank. The question regarding an apparent ‘curse’ of red and white striped team’s losing in the final was put to him. His answer was that, less than 24 hours before the final, he didn’t even know what colour we were playing in. Oh, and that he had no thoughts to any omens.

Good man. True or not, the attention should not be on the colour of our shirts but purely on getting over the line. His attitude and focus were spot on last weekend against Bournemouth. More of the same this afternoon would do very nicely, thank you.

For the record, we will be in red and white this afternoon. Excellent news. Just like the curse of the Millennium Stadium South dressing room, broken in the 2002 final by Stoke City against, err…, all this stuff counts for nothing in the grand scheme (manager of the month curse aside, which I will defend to the grave).

Past record, past colours, past players. Use them for motivation but nothing else. There is no other parallel between the past and what will happen today. That will boil down to nothing more than Brentford v Swansea City. Who wins a one off game off football. Whose fans can do the most to help lift their team. Who holds their nerve and stays strong over the entire 90 minutes.

Kit colour has been confirmed

Look at last Saturday. It was a masterclass in discipline, in courage and in playing football. Playing the occasion. Despite going two goals down on aggregate within five minutes of kick off, Brentford were immense. Our fans were incredible. Bournemouth falling apart like Leeds United on a promotion push. Yet even the Elland Raod outfit got it right in the end and if we play anywhere near the levels last weekend, we’ll do the same.

Billy Reeves was in ebullient form on social media yesterday. Along with the GPG, sharing a photo of what has since been confirmed legitimate and titled “AFCB Frustration Hole”.  Asmir Begović lashing out after full time to vent his fury. If ever a sign was needed that Brentford had done a job when it counted then here it was. More of the same today would be very nice, thank you.

Oh, Asmir…

Obviously I’m going to call a Brentford win. I’m genuinely confident although not arrogantly so. As we’ve been saying all week, Swansea City aren’t going to hand it to us and will be as determined as we are. This will be hard fought and we’ll need to be at our best. Thing is, if we are then the memories of Crewe, Huddersfield, Stoke, Tranmere, Yeovil and all the others could be laid to rest. Finally. What Thomas says and does will be key. Obviously.

Sitting here with a very early breakfast, I just want to get going. Glory awaits. Can Brentford take it?  Roll on 3pm when we find out. The team have been incredible this season.  Imagine that moment on 90 minutes if the result has gone our way…. Think back to Saturday and recall how sweet that was. How absolutely ecstatic the moment felt. An orgasmic denouement that wouldn’t even have been bettered had Mrs Browns Boys and The England supporters band been exiled to the Falkland Islands. Then take it ten times better.

That’s what we’re playing for. That’s what awaits.  ENJOY. See you there.

ONE. MORE. GAME.

Nick Bruzon

Frank. This, err, stuff just got real.

27 May

“Frank. This sh*t just got real…..” Not my words Carol, the words of Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) in cinema’s Hot Fuzz. Way back. Yet never more appropriate than this morning. Thursday. Little over 48 hours to go until Brentford and Swansea City slug it out for the right to play in next season’s Premier League. The quite wonderful news from yesterday being that each side will now have an additional 1000 supporters present at Wembley on Saturday. Whilst the game has still not been deemed a ‘test event’ in line with the FA Cup final, instead we are now human guinea pigs (metaphorically speaking) , assisting the NHS in what has been described as “a status service trial relating to the free NHS App.” Pass the placebo and sign me up. This is fantastic news and means Brentford, like Swansea, will now have 5,000 fans present. 5,000 loud, roaring , vocal fans. And is there an omen from last night’s Europa League final between Manchester United and eventual winners Villareal? 

Frank, this shit just got real.

Yet we can only start with tickets. Whilst there will still be those who miss out  – you could have made this one a full house in a heartbeat – the joy from those now able to attend thanks to the combination of helping the health service and meeting the new TAPS threshold (including our Harry) has been unconfined. The full story is on Brentford official with the additional ray of hope for those currently unable to attend that, ”If we still have any tickets remaining at the end of Thursday, we will broaden the TAPs group further, but from 5pm tomorrow (now today NB) availability will not be guaranteed, with tickets sold on a first come, first served basis.

It is still an awful situation that so many supporters of both team will miss out. There are so many sad tales out there and it almost feels gloating to even talk of being able to attend. As the club have also noted,” We share your anger and frustration and will do everything we can to ensure as many Bees fans as possible get to Wembley on Saturday to support the team.”  

I don’t envy the staff in the ticket office. Supplying insatiable demand is tough enough at the best of times. Let alone in circumstances such as this one. The ultimate game. An anything but infinite supply to somehow distribute. The responsibility on those able to go to really raise the roof and sing their hearts out like never before, even bigger than ever. Those watching back home and in the pubs screaming at the TV. A chance to celebrate like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyont Orient. A chance to relive England’s World Cup penalty shoot out triumph. Fair to say that the atmosphere in The Griffin was somewhat excited that night. You just KNOW this one is going to go to the wire.  

Cripes, sitting through the penalties last night was tense enough and I don’t even support Manchester United. A midweek affiliation with them aside, after living in the city for 18 months (any game is a game if you can go and the Bees aren’t playing), it was as neutral an affair as they come. Yet still. Watching twenty mostly perfect spot kicks was about as excruciating as it got. Five out of five at the start and then five initial rounds of buttock clenching ‘sudden death.’ The nerve shown by player after player incredible. The shootout score locked at 10 -10. Brackets? You’d probably need an entire paragraph.

And then it got to the end of the line. There was nobody left to have a go. Almost nobody. Oh, David de Gea. The heart went out to him as things reached the point where everybody barring the goalkeepers had scored. Up stepped Geronimo Rulli for the Spaniards. Boom. 21 out of 21. Sadly, his opposite number wasn’t able to emulate him. Heartbreak. Tears. Ecstasy. The obvious extreme of emotions depending on which colour gloves you were wearing . 

Yet all I could think of was us in this situation, ”And up steps David Raya….” If ever there was an additional motivation required to do it in normal time then here it was. Genuinely, I don’t think my heart could take sudden death. The pressure on Saturday will be big enough without going through this additional level of torture to try and claim this most sought after of prizes.

Things are now feeling very real. The first batch of tickets have arrived. Across Europe, silverware is being lifted. Some fans still have that additional chance, no matter how slim, of being able to get in to the game. Just keep your eyes on the website. Keep crossing your fingers. Keep on believing.

One more game…..

Nick Bruzon

A good news, bad news sort of day. Thieves, tickets and a lot of love.

25 May

So here we are. The build up to Saturday’s play off final between Brentford and Swansea City has well and truly begun. Our paltry ticket allocation (the same for both clubs) is now flying off the shelves to those fans with sufficient TAPS. The petition started by BIAS to have the attendance increased to 20,000 is gathering momentum (with Gemma Teale getting it as far as the BBC last night). As of this morning, the count was approaching 9000 signatures and there is still time to get this signed. Will publish a further link at the bottom. Closer to home, my faith in the goodwill of people has gone through both the roof and the floor. The love coming in for Woody and his family, following the words penned by his mum on Sunday morning, has seen emotions all over the place. On the flip side, thieves have targeted the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street at the weekend using the distraction of the post Bournemouth spirit to steal a squad signed  Bees shirt being raffled to raise money for a Hounslow food bank.

First up, tickets. We all know the scoop by now. Both Brentford and Swansea City will have less fans in on Saturday than they did for their respective semi finals. A stadium three or four times the size holding a fraction of supporters, despite the fact everybody was quite happy to double the capacity at the drop of a hat when there was the lure of a Champions League final at the same stadium on the same day dangled under the nose.Hmmm. 

BIAS have done sterling work in galvanising supporters with both Brentford and Swansea official also making their opinions very publicly known. We ALL want this to be the occasion it most definitely could and whilst the 8000 official fans (I’m not counting superfluous corporates etc) will do a wondrous job in building the atmosphere, imagine it with double that? There IS still hope. 

Today will be crucial to keep the momentum going. If you haven’t signed it as yet then please do. Please pass it on toy our football loving friends. Your families. Anybody you think would want this to happen / who has access to the internet. The link is at the bottom of this column.

On a personal note it was a real good news, bad news sort of Monday. As much through having been coming to Griffin Park (now LR) since 1979, I’m over the TAP threshold so got my ticket. I will be at Wembley with my friends but I won’t be with there with my family. Our Harry, who lives and breathes the club, misses out. Mrs B will be left behind, too. 

There are thousands of us in the same boat. Thousands of deserving fans with Season Tickets who, ordinarily, would be guaranteed a ticket to the game. Instead, we’ve all been torn apart. I haven’t missed a match with H in I don’t know how long. He’s gutted. I’m gutted. We’re gutted. He loves the club (especially Sergi) and his life revolves around it. From reading the teams pre kick off to being a mascot. From having the players in our house at Halloween to modelling the kit for the launch photos. Something which, even as recently as this weekend, I was given a wonderful reminder of when bumping into a fellow ‘model’ outside The Griff who also shared this photo. Thank you.

He’s still only 7(seven) yet thinks that’s ‘just’ how football works. That Brentford make this sort of stuff happen all the time if supporters want to get involved. The possibility of not going to a game when others can is one that hadn’t even crossed the mind. Until now.

The old ‘eagle distraction trick’ a tool up the sleeve of every decent photographer

Again, we all know this isn’t the club’s fault. We’ve been served up a dog’s dinner of a deal. We have SO MANY deserving fans who, like Harry, will miss out. I’m not after special treatment but simply giving my version of a personal story that I know is impacting so many of us. There will be many, many more similar. Many, many more who should be there and can’t . Who will be devastated about missing this. Who will be crammed in to pubs or front rooms trying to make the best of the situation. Many, many who like us will be sitting anxiously by the phone today. Please, get signing. Get your voice heard.

Look at Woody. The  positive reaction and love coming back on social media as a reply to the piece about him was nothing short of life affirming. Thank you. He won’t be there as it stands but If anybody needs to be it is him. If anybody gets the chance to lead out the team (should Corona somehow allow it) it is him. Here’s hoping he gets the first of the phone calls saying a ballot place has been awarded. Pretty sure everybody has read this one but, if not, then you can find that here…. Please do enjoy.

Harry – no eagle needed these days – and Woody at the weekend.

On the downside, local pub The Magpie and Crown have seen their own charity efforts hit by thieves late on Saturday night. A signed shirt being raffled to raise money for a Hounslow food bank was stolen. With everyone understandably distracted by the emotion of what had gone before, an opportunist(s) have pinched this off the wall behind the bar and it has gone walkies.

To date, the item has not been returned but if anyone has any information as to where it is, please get in touch with Scott Illman at the Magpie on the High Street. If you have it and have woken up with drunken regret, just pop it back through the letterbox or post it back – no questions asked. Hundreds of tickets had been sold to raise money for a cause that shouldn’t even require funds raised. Perhaps whomever took it was drunk and didn’t realise what it was for (he says being optimistic) but there can be no doubt now. Keep your eyes open on the auction sites, too. To date, this hasn’t been spotted online.

Finally, we have a referee for Saturday. Premier League Chris Kavanagh has been parachuted in to take charge of the final Championship game of the season. His record this season suggests yellow cards could be in the offing. Has a tense affair just go tenser? Roll on Saturday when we can find out. All being well, with 20,000 fans there.

That petiton link is HERE HERE HERE. Please sign it.

One more game…..

Nick Bruzon

Ticket details announced. #farce. But there IS another way you might get in….

24 May

Monday morning and still grinning like a lunatic. Voice still sounding like the squeaky teenager from The Simpsons. Brentford having delivered the ultimate high in turning a round a two goal deficit against Bournemouth to reach this Saturday’s play off final at Wembley. A day where what happened pre kick-off, post game and off-field was as incredible as what happened on the pitch. You can read about it here if you want. Likewise, huge thanks for all the kind comments. Especially regarding the second column about Woody making his way back to a game. Yet special though it all was, and it was amazing, it has been and gone. Now, Swansea City await in North London.

The Monday after the weekend before

Like us, the Swans are one win away from the Premier League. For Steve Cooper, this most coveted of prizes. Amongst other things, a chance to avenge last season’s semi-final defeat to the Bees. For us….. well, we all know the scoop. We all know the history. We all know what happened last time out in the final. Not to mention the eight attempts prior to that one. Tickets go on sale this lunchtime and if the enormity of the task at hand is now the immediate focus, the fact that we will have less than 4,000 supporters present in a 90,000 stadium has, understandably, got everyone’s back up. Also, I have no doubt, for Swansea who will also be operating under the same, crazed restrictions.

That this game, and the other divisional finals, will be played out in front of just 10,000 seems utter madness. The FA Cup final had 20,000 last week. Likewise, with the authorities prepared to sell us up the river and shift the final elsewhere at the 11th hour to accommodate a relocated  Champions’ League final with a similar sized crowd part of the deal. So don’t give us this “It’ not a test event” gumph. Then we’ve got the Euro’s next month where larger crowds will be in attendance. There is no logical reason to have a crowd reduction this coming weekend. No practical reason why extra supporters can’t be allowed in. Nobody is naive enough to think that a full house is anywhere near feasible given what’s going on at present but, equally, a paltry 10,000 makes no sense in the broader landscape. 

We all know the arguments. We all know the situation. We all know that the bun fight for entry will see thousands of regular season ticket holders disappointed. At any other time, they’d be guaranteed entry. Not now. Not even close to a chance. The club have taken the least bad option available to them an, in line with the Customer Charter, gone for a TAP based threshold once more. Its all they could do. The full details are on the website, along with a hard hitting statement lambasting the situation:

We at the Club feel it is unjust that only one week ago, more than 20,000 fans were admitted to The FA Cup Final and advanced discussions were taking place for Wembley to host the Champions League final with a similar number of fans attending. We find it incredulous and unjustifiable just two weeks later, the Championship Play-Off Final will be restricted to just half of that number.

We’re fighting for an extra 750 but, if you want to go, there MAY be another way. BIAS have leapt into action and set up an online change.org petition to have capacity increased. You can see that and sign it here. Supporters DO have a voice. Whether it will be listened to at such short notice is another question but if you don’t ask you don’t get. At the very least, it will help further highlight this ludicrous situation and the contempt football fans are, once again, being held in. Besides, with Boris prepared to jump on to any bandwagon to potentially enhance his image amidst the debacle of the covid crisis, perhaps its not a as futile a gesture as the cynical may suspect. So sign it. Please. HERE. Share it. Pass it to your mates. Send it to other fans. Should any Swansea supporters be reading, this impacts you as much as us.

Saturday will be incredible. Wembley will be rocking. 4,000 supporters took the roof off Lionel Road. Double that, with fans from both clubs, will be next level. But imagine with double even that? There’s no reason not to. One of football’s greatest, most anticipated, weekends deserves as many supporters there as possible. There’s NO genuine reason why this can’t be possible.

See you there. I hope…

Nick Bruzon   

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

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 and HB’s now godfather. Where the guard on our First Great Western service 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