Tag Archives: Football League Tonight

This is one mother I never want to see again. Mrs Brown is no alternative to Brentford.

26 Mar

Sunday 26 March. Mother’s Day. Mothering Sunday. Not a day for Championship football or Brentford, although purely due to the ongoing Intenational fixture list that saw Gibraltar go down in Bosnia last night and England hosting Lithuania this evening. Yet with the boys from the Rock kicking off at 5pm, and no highlights to show from Griffin Park later on, there was a gap in the TV schedule last night that could only be filled by one thing. BBC1, 9.15pm and a new series featuring everybody’s (I beg to differ) favourite Irish mammy. Yes, it was time for : All Round to Mrs. Brown’s.

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Mrs Brown. Tongue clearly not in cheek

Regular readers of this column will be aware of my ire when it come to Mrs Brown. And now, somehow,  (s)he had been given a prime time slot with a new twist – a chatshow / audience participation event although still keeping all the zany characters that, apparently, we know and love.

Genuinely, I don’t get it. I have tried before but, to be honest, the man dressed as a woman act died many years ago. Yet despite the baffling lack of genuine laughs, the awards keep coming Was I missing something? Had I served it a horrendous injustice in previous columns? There was only one way to find out. The answer was a categorical ‘No’.

To be fair, looking around cyberspace before hand , there was sufficient warning to watch something else. Likewise, when I shared this plan with one New Road wag his suggestion was a simple one, “Prime time to do something else.

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Warning came far and wide

But no, despite the scepticism I settled in. I wish I hadn’t. The theme tune sounding like something rejected from a 70’s sitcom as the composers of Terry and Mildred, assuming not dead, are now licking their lips at the prospect of a forthcoming royalties cheque. This, accompanied by lemming like ‘clapping along’ from an audience who must have been prozac’d up to their eyeballs to get them into the studio.

An opening ‘gag’ of crack/craic confusion brought tumbleweed to my sofa but the sycophants in Studio B lapped it up. There were definitely drugs involved  – that or  the BBC had just borrowed the laughter track (and jokes) from Last of the Summer Wine.

An old man asleep in an armchair chair (something which got its own laugh) then saw the audience in hysterics when Mrs Brown, gave him a ‘shower’; with a can of air freshener. Including, for which the audience reached its most tear screamingly manic, his groin. This, a moment not peaked until the subsequent reference to Delia Smith with a penis. All the in the first 135 seconds.

I just hope Cliff Crown washed his hands after their last boardroom encounter. Him and Delia, not Mrs Brown. (To the best of my knowledge Brendan O’Carroll’s not guested at Griffin Park before).

How about her (yes, I’ll play along) guests? Pamela Anderson and Judy Murray . The former limping through a flaccid script involving cup size (tea, of course) and David Hasselmuff that would have made Baywatch look like the complete works of Shakespeare.Before Scotland’s finest appeared, we then had a VT from obligatory Irish guest, Louis Walsh. The music mogul a man one suspects would turn up to the opening of an envelope and then provide obligatory reference to Simon Cowell.

Not even the wonderful Judy Murray was able to dignify this with any class, despite her best efforts.This is no reflection on her but more reference to a show which was the consulate example of the oft heard phrase,’You can’t polish a turd‘. Her on screen arrival being railroaded by a man dressed as a woman – this time Baywatch era Pamela

Smiling is over rated”, said Judy at one point. Watching this, I couldn’t agree more.

Roll on next week when the return of the Championship calendar and Football League Tonight on Channel Five gives us our sanity back. And that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.

All Round To Mrs. Brown’s is currently up on the I-player for another 29 days (should you be feeling masochistic).

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Poor Judy. And Pamela. And us

Nick Bruzon

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The craziest day in football history? Bees top the lot as Clem and Bournemouth set the record straight.

19 Mar

No. It wasn’t a dream. I’m awake. Brentford really did come good in the most incredible style to turn a 3-1 HT deficit into a 5-3 win at Burton Albion. Back on 3rd May 2015, the Last Word published a column entitled: Was this the craziest day in Championship history? as the Bees secured a play-off semi-final with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth pipped Watford to the league title in the most dramatic of denouements. But yesterday saw all that come crashing back to the forefront of the memory for many reasons. Nonemoreso than the return of Middlesbrough fan and Last Word cult hero Clem. Of Clemwatch fame.

But we can only start up where we left off last night and the result from Burton Albion. If not as significant as that afternoon back in 2015 where our own defeat of Wigan, matched with just about every possible result going our way, saw the Bees reach the play offs for the Premier League, this was one that is at the very top of the list of “I was there” games, Purely in terms of what was a ridiculous afternoon it was from a Brentford perspective.

If you’ve seen yesterday’s post-match column we’ve done that one. What a quite spectacular game of football to have witnessed. Following it from home was stressful enough, I can only imagine what it was like being there. An afternoon reminiscent of celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient? Winning the fifth round of the FA Cup at Blackburn in 1989? That game against Wigan in 2015?

Only those in Burton will truly know how good this one felt but if social media is anything to go by then it can only have been up there with the best of the best.  There’s been plenty for those missed who out on this one to look at via the world of Twitter and other sources although, perhaps, in retrospect it was always going to be a special afternoon when Burton gifted Brentford an omen such as this.

Are Beesotted setting up in Burton?

Billy (Grant) of Beesotted fame wasn’t just spotted on the side of a building. He was one of many loving the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the railway station on the way home. As you do.

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon's excitement continues

Billy and Sergi. The afternoon’s excitement showed no sign of stopping.

Billy wasn’t alone. Just when you thought Sergi couldn’t be any more excited to be back at Brentford, his impromptu photocall proved us all wrong on that front. How Norwich City must be kicking themselves at acquiring, then falling too use, such incredible talent and incredible enthusiasm. Presumably the Spaniard has now got home or is he still obliging the supporters with more photos?

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

Bees photographer Mark Fuller caught the moment below as sweetly as one could hope. The next best thing to actually being behind the goal.

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Whilst his partner in media crime (not literally) Sean Ridley proved that sometimes, three words are all you need.

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But perhaps it was the EFL themselves who hit the nail on the head in regards to yesterday’s events.

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Yet to truly call yesterday incredible we also need to look at Bournemouth. Specifically because  Eddie Howe’s team beat Swansea City 2-0 at Dean Court/The Vitality Stadium.

On paper, no great surprise given The Swans precarious position but dig a bit deeper and it might not have been such a ‘gimme’ as first imagined.

Back in that 2014/15 season, aswell as charting Brentford’s first Championship campaign the Last Word ran a side feature called Clemwatch. It was a feature borne out of the sudden realisation made, as most are, in The Griffin.

Namely, that whichever team ever popular BBC roving reporter Clem (Mark Clemmit)  featured on The Football League Show would subsequently fail to win that afternoon’s game.

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Clem – never shy to mix it up in terms of reporting locations for The Football League Show

Was there any truth to this? Being the jinx conscious football fan (magic pants, lucky shirts, not shaving over a winning run are all par for the course) this needed study. And so over the course of that season Clem’s form was observed from the first week. Surely it wouldn’t be true. But it was.

Aside from some genuinely entertaining features, Clem finished up with a record of 7(seven) wins from 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford.

Clem was at Vicarage Road to see if the Hornets, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday, could match Bournemouth’s result to be crowned champions. Both teams were winning with the BBC clock showing 90 minutes. Then, it happened.

Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1.

Whilst I’m sure that Watford fans will be more than pleased just to have gone up, I do hope Eddie Howe sent a big thank you to Clem. The effervescent reporter may have doomed Watford although, and it has to be said, he brought a lot of joy to viewers along the way.

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Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

And that was it. With The Football League show disappearing from our screens the following season to be replaced by Football League Tonight (please, please, please never forget what was served up as replacement to Manish and Clem on that first episode) his work in that particular field was done. TV rights meant the BBC would focus on the Premier League and with Brentford failing to beat Middlesbrough in that play off semi final (or any game. Ever. It seems) we went our separate ways. Until yesterday.

With Clem finally on Twitter (@MarkClemmit) he’s been a recent ‘follow’ and, mid-morning, popped up with the announcement that Eddie Howe would be his interview subject on that morning’s Football Focus.

Cue good natured banter to a TW8 based Bournemouth supporter and Mike Grella fan about her team’s upcoming fate. The jinx would surely strike again? Yet the response was a surprising one. Not from Carey but from the man himself, defending his own recent record with the tongue in cheek note that times are changing.

That's me told, then. Clem is back. And better than ever.

That’s me told, then. Clem is on better form than ever .

And sure enough, they are. Bournemouth’s win sees Eddie Howe now joining the ranks of Sam Allardyce and Paul Lambert in being blessed by Clem. The jinx has reversed.

What can you say, but:

i) Sorry, Clem.

ii) Congratulations Clem.

iii) Thanks for being a great sport, and

iv) Should the worst happen to Middlesbrough then we can’t wait to see you at Griffin Park next season. Just make sure that if you have a mic with you, it’s pointing at Dean Smith.

And, of course, if you’d like to read more about our past three campaigns and the full Clemwatch story, then you can do so here.

Talking of Dean (puts crowbar back in pocket) we couldn’t finish without going all Ian Moose. Except without the pre-match catering obsession. It simply remains to say Happy Birthday to Dean Smith. Have a great day, my friend.

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Happy Birthday Dean Smith. Have a great day my friend.

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Everton and Sunderland help lead the charge as Bees silence Villa and go goal crazy.

18 Sep

Brentford moved into the top six following a 5-0 win over Preston. Huddersfield Town stayed top as they continued a week of woe for hapless QPR (stop sniggering). The Loftus Road mob going down 2-1 following their 6-0 midweek thrashing by Newcastle United. Six! Nil!!  Meanwhile, Aston Villa could only labour to a second draw of the week (presumably, another pub side) whilst the bottom three now consist of Wigan, Blackburn and Cardiff.

That’s the most recent Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular weekly round up we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media over the last seven days. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly.

We’ll start off, as ever, with Brentford for whom Scott Hogan wasn’t alone in finding the back of the net against Preston. Whilst you can read the breakdown on that one here, the salient points would seem to be that, firstly,  humour is alive and well in the squad.

Likewise,for a game involving Keith Stroud, the man in the middle was somewhat quieter than normal. King of stats Luis Melville nailing this one.

Prior to this our pub side had been at Aston Villa where one fan continued his pre-match rant about the quality of the visitors long after the result had come in as a 1-1 draw.

Bernard Quackenbush picking out one flaw in his argument.

Mr Hateley wasn’t alone, either..

But, once more, Bluetones guitarist Adam Devlin has blown away all comers when it comes to post match banter.

Yet for me, and credit where it was due, nobody could deny just how incredible a stadium Villa park is. Win, lose or draw this was a ground worthy of a visit in it’s own right. Let’s hope that when Lionel Road is built we can capture this combination of atmosphere and proximity to the pitch.

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Villa Park – off field, somewhere we can only aspire to

That was Brentford’s action. But, as ever, there is so much more.

Having had a horrendous start to their life as principal highlights provider, it would be fair to say that Football League Tonight came in for criticism from all comers. And rightly so, if you recall just what they offered up in episode 1.  Yet equally, by the end of last season they had managed to iron out the numerous flaws to give a much more watchable show, minus studio audience and gimmicks.

Sadly it would seem than normal service is being resumed this time around. BBC Billy Reeves knows a thing or two about broadcasting and so if he opines, we should sit up and take notice.

Yet it seems we aren’t alone in our disdain , Huddersfield Town are only top of the league. As they have been all season…

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EVERYBODY (well, at least close to 8,000 of us)  have already shared this but some things are so good they bear repeating.

A staple of The Beano, The Dandy and just about every kid’s comic , the baddest of bad jokes has finally seen the light of day for real.Fancy ACTUALLY having the balls to use this line for real?

Those with a long memory may recall Billy Reeves doing his zero to catwalk in three seconds shimmy at QPR last season. If you don’t then here’s a picture of our man doing his thing on what was, otherwise, the afternoon we never talk about.

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BBC Billy. Is there no end to his talents ?

So how sweet to see the not so super hoops come undone during the week?

A 0-6 home hammering at the hand of Newcastle United bringing tears of anguish to Loftus Road and tears of laughter to TW8. The only highlight for the home supporters being that Billy’s trendsetting now seems to have been adopted by their stewards.

 

 On pitch, QPR official thought they had got out of jail free….

But perhaps it wasn’t their fault. blame that ‘lucky omen’ . Fancy this happening (Please. Stop. Sniggering).

As a final thought from that one, how is the tattoo coming along?

In the Premier League, Manchester United lost. Again. I said stop sniggering. As a lover of ITV cliche bingo, this alternative take on it has certainly tickled the funny bone (and could be easily adapted for ‘Mourinho press conference’ bingo if required).

And then later in the afternoon Sunderland did their best to confuse everybody. Not so much in terms of the on pitch performance but more in their away kit. Has there been a more garish effort in Premier League history and just what did it resemble ?

But it was their game with Everton on Monday night where the real story of the week was. Even now, almost seven days later, I’ve got nothing but a smile on the face and a tear in the eye looking at these next two.

Pure class. I’ve nothing else to add. Until next time.

Ready. Steady. Go again…

6 Aug

Here we go. The Championship has begun. Brentford travel to Huddersfield Town today, knowing that Fulham already top the fledgling table after their 1-0 televised win over Newcastle United last night. Enjoy those previous few hours lads, they won’t last…

With months of anticipation almost at an end, just what can we expect? Let’s be honest, for us Bees supporters last season was one of giddy highs and sickening lows. We were either awesome or awful. Whilst a final position of 9th was well deserved, it was certainly ‘interesting’ getting there.

As we turned the year, having somehow got through the Marinus experiment, pitch-gate and the horror show that was ‘Football League Tonight’ (never forget how it started), there was a genuine belief we might emulate the previous campaign’s feat of reaching the play offs.

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

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

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

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We didn’t have the best start to 2015/16

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Scott’s Hogan returned against Blackburn and from there….

Nick Bruzon

Sex, pies and audiotape (there’s no sex. or audio)

20 Apr

Like many Brentford fans, I was buzzing when I got home last night. A 2-1 win over Cardiff City had seen Scott Hogan add a further brace to Saturday’s last minute equaliser against Bristol City. The Bees had made it 13 points from 15 and the Last word, high on the delights of victory, had gone up early. Now it’s time to (apologies) go again as we round up the other bits and pieces from Tuesday.

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A fine win but what else happened ?

First up, Broadcast Moose. Anybody who read the post match article would have seen his comments about Russell Slade refusing to talk to him after the game. My gut reaction was that the Cardiff manager was exhibiting yet more of the sour grapes that he seems to have reserved for the Bees.

I’m pretty sure there was something mentioned about an FA Cup once whilst he was hardly full of praise when guesting on the Football League show that season. Mind you, if I’d been the victim of Manish repating the “Slade at Christmas” joke (wonderful once, woeful a second time) then I might feel a tad irritated.

Now, I’m not looking to defend Slade. Like Steve Evans, he cultivates a personality (at least, with fans) that is one of a bullish and outspoken manager. Reap what you sow. Behind closed doors he may be a lovely chap. I just don’t know, sadly. And I say sadly because I have it on good authority that at least one of Beesotted’s wonderful FA Cups made it into his direct ownership last season. Did he laugh, cry, store it up in the back of his mind? Who knows? But I digress.

Having cultivated this personality he’s there to be shot down and last night’s whine from Moose was, on the surface, such an opportunity .

Yet, Yet, Yet. Having slept on it , something doesn’t sit quite right.

I’m not too proud to admit I lay in bed last night, thinking about Russell Slade (and I hope to God my wife isn’t reading today). Or, more specifically, and probably even worse, Broadcast Moose. Hey, at least it wasn’t Jeff Stelling.

I may not know much about football’s inner workings but I do know that managers normally speak to the press and give some form of post-match conference. Sure enough, checking News Now he certainly appears to have spoken to journalists, with various pieces now online that detail his comments. For example, Sky Sports have quoted him as saying, “We lacked that clinical finish in the first half when we had total control. In the second we lost it a bit, they became a threat on the counter and we defended poorly”.

So what’s Moose’s beef? He was, as ever (yawn) banging on about the state of the catering during the game – a routine that is about as endearing as being forced to watch the season’s opener of ‘Football League Tonight on an infinite loop. Whilst Kelly and George have, thankfully, upped their game, Moose hasn’t changed the record.

But putting the pies to one side, what was really bugging me is  – why would Slade treat him like this?

Surely in the press area he’d have no choice but to answer the questions? Surely if one journalist had been singled out for a snubbing then this would have been more widely reported?

I don’t know what happened for sure – or where this contretemps actually took place. That, something Mr. Moose has failed to mention whilst making his quite provocative comments, including: “What a bad loser Russell Slade has become….,tonight point blank refused to do a post match interview….Mr Slade could only grunt no”

It takes a lot for me to think about Russell Slade as having the moral high ground but I’m just putting it out there for the sake of balance. Russell / Ian, if you are reading…..?

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Moose – at least he was happy about the pies

As for the rest of last night. Peter Gilham wins the award (should one exist) for moment of the evening, or at least half time, after exhibiting more of that deadpan brilliance for which he is so loved. Whilst talking about the opportunity for fans to get involved in the club’s social media, he mentions “Snapchat”, paused for a moment and then added, “Whatever that is.

Peter, I’m with you .

Toumani, He’s done it again. Again. After getting his second Leeds United goal at the weekend against Reading, least night he took his total to three, grabbing their second in a 2-1 win over Wolves. Whilst I was desperately sad to see Toumani go, I’m thrilled to bits for him that the floodgates are now opening. That said, I know I’m not alone in taking this ‘personally’ after such a long wait! Leeds fans must have now “been on the pitch” (metaphorically speaking) more times than the average episode of Dragon’s Den.

And finally, I couldn’t end without further mention of Scott Hogan. Or, specifically Matthew Benham and our head of medical, Neil Greig. Without their investment of faith in the player (not to mention financially or in terms of time) there’s no way we’d be celebrating his goal scoring prowess this week.

It would have been so easy to pay up his contract and let him go. Not Brentford. We’ve always treated our injured players well and boy is that being rewarded now.

Congratulations to Scott, of course. But huge thanks to Matthew and Neil.

Nick Bruzon

ITV on the rise but will Sky scrape the barrel? And what of John Swift?

27 Mar

There was mixed news on the International front last night. Despite many enjoying the 3-2 win for England in Germany, it was the performance of the U-21 team that saw potential bad news for Brentford where Chelsea loanee John Swift limped off less than half an hour into the game with a bloody foot. Elsewhere (and I need to thank the statistical demigod that is Luis Melville for his Twitter tip-off) there was terrifying news from the Daily Mail.

But first, England. What a night – primarily because the alleged  Supporters’ band couldn’t be heard over the TV speakers. Were they even in Berlin? Who cares! The lack of jingoistic parping from their off-key trumpets was music to my ears. If I wanted to hear the theme tune to the Great Escape I’d simply watch TV on any Bank Holiday.

That was my on-field highlight. Yes, of course the goals were wonderfully taken although if you want any form of match report than, as ever, I’d suggest the BBC. The said, the win was hard fought with the ITV commentary team doing their best to jinx it at the death. Eric Dier’s injury time goal was met with declarations of “A winner in Germany” and “a winner on his debut”, despite there still being 90 seconds on the clock.

The other plus point was the performance of Lothar Matthäus  in the punditry position. Channelling the look of Paul Robinson – Neighbours, rather than Birmingham City or Burnley – he was that rare example of an ITV pundit who it was actually a pleasure to listen to. Dead pan humour, common sense and a great reading of the game. Let’s hope they snap him up for the Euros over the summer.

Kit wise, just about everybody has said their piece on this already. England opting for traditional red with burgundy sleeves and blue socks (very much Dagenham & Redbridge 1995, as one Twitter observer noted) whilst Germany elected to wear two tone black/dark green(?) with lighter green sleeves. And don’t forget the white stripes down the side from armpit to hem that looked like a somewhat unsightly deodorant stain.

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As the regular reader will (should one exist still) be aware, I’m all for the unusual and a bit of variety in team kit. These, however, both looked like the product of a “What might go well with jeans?” marketing meeting. And those blue socks should never see the light of day again.

For me Clive, this has surpassed the 1994 effort (oversized flappy collars, all those subliminal badges and a shade heading towards burgundy) as the worst ever England away shirt.

As a final thought on the game, what was with all the adverts for ‘Hooch’ that kept flashing around the pitch? Surely that died out in the 90s with Global Hypercolour t-shirts, VHS cassettes and ‘Eat my shorts’ ? Or are Student Union bars (three of the most terrifying words in the English language, to rank alongside ‘Rail Replacement bus’) about to see a resurgence?

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No longer the worst England away shirt

Next up, John Swift. With Josh McEachran still being reported out injured (and the club saying nothing to deny these stories, unless I’ve missed it) there would have been heart in mouth when he got injured last night. Despite my best searches of the internet – and it is frustrating how often a search for his name is thrown off track by: Taylor Swift, Dear John – the most we know so far is that he has a cut foot judging by the pictures circulating on Twitter.

How bad this is remains to be seen although I am sure we’ll learn more today. Whilst he has, for the most part , divided Brentford supporters during his loan spell from Chelsea, one thing we can all agree on is that another injury is the last thing we need at this pivotal point in the season. We all recall how Chris Long’s nasty gash impacted him at the tail end of the previous campaign and so let’s hope this isn’t a case of déjà vu.

I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t think Swift has had the best start to his career at Griffin Park. An over indulgence on the showboating and tendency to lose the ball has been a frustration yet, at the same time, he clearly has ability as we have seen in patches. The Wolves game in particular highlighted what he can do when we get his ‘A game’. Besides, you don’t get called up for the England U-21’s unless there is something there.

Equally, and as we are reminded time and again, he IS a young player who is still learning his game. These skills and judgement calls will come as his game develops. John has become an easy target in some circles but at a time we need everybody pulling together, let’s hope his substitution was a precautionary one and we have him back, on top form, this Saturday.

Ok. The Daily Mail. Or, rather, Mailsport online have run a disturbing story to suggest Sky will be revamping Friday night football next season to make it, what seems to be, a bit more ‘laddish’. Nuts magazine does football if you will, as guest presenters are suggested to include – brace yourself – the likes of James Corden and Holly Willoughby.

Before anybody mistakes this for any form of misogynistic rant, let’s be 100% clear. I’ve got no issues with women presenting football. Quite the opposite. I think Kelly Cates has been the shining star in the (initially at least) car crash that was Football League Tonight whilst Gabby Logan has been doing her thing, brilliantly, for almost twenty years.

And, of course, who could forget our own Natalie Sawyer who has had her feet under the presenter’s desk for so long that she probably knows more about the beautiful game than most of us put together. (Perhaps Sky should be looking ‘in house’ where, of course, Natalie has also shown her punditry skills on Football League coverage?)

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Natalie at the Sky Sports desk – feet not pictured

My issue is with novelty presenters. Comedians great. Football great. Just please don’t combine the two. Nobody needs another ‘Russell Brand’ guesting on Match of the Day.

Football punditry is three men or women, who know about football, sitting on a sofa and talking about the game. You don’t need to jazz it up anymore. We’ll still watch.

Will anybody, honestly, say: “It’s Chelsea – Leicester City tonight. I was going to give it a miss but Gary Neville is busy with Valencia so Holly Willoughby is presenting. Get the Hooch in and make room on the sofa” ?

Aside from the fact that I’ve got more chance of managing Valencia than Gary Neville next season I can’t believe that situation is going to play out anywhere. Who needs Lothar Matthäus when we could have the host of Surprise Surprise, This Morning and Streetmate (don’t remember that one)? I’ve nothing against Holly per-se but when her sporting pedigree peaks at ‘Celebrity Wrestling’ and ‘Dancing on Ice’, perhaps one to give a miss.

Comedians, alleged or genuine, don’t mix well on football

Nick Bruzon

Bees stung at the death but is this a transfer clue from Mr Benham?

3 Jan

Oh, the irony. For the second time in three away games, Brentford have been ‘Jota’d’ . Following Kenwyne Jones’ 90th minute strike to give Cardiff City a 3-2 win, Maikel Kieftenbeld repeated the act a minute earlier as Birmingham City consigned The Bees to a 2-1 defeat at St. Andrews yesterday. With £3.7m winger Demarai Gray left out, seemingly on his way to Leicester City, the stage was set for the Bees to take advantage but, instead, Birmingham took the honours.

What can you say? In a game between two identically placed teams pushing for the play-offs, a win was vital. And, indeed, it was the Bees pushing for this that ultimately resulted in our downfall as a stray ball from Harlee, well inside the opposition half, allowed the Blues to catch us on the break.

That’s not to blame it all on one man, far from it. This is a team game and we win or lose together. Likewise, given the scenario should there have been a case for taking the point and keeping pace? Moreso given Ipswich Town and Burnley drawing 0-0.

Well, for me I like that Dean Smith had his troops ‘go for it’ until the very end. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t have taken our chances earlier in the game.

But even given our domination (63% possession), as we’ve said many times the only stat that actually counts is balls in the back of the net. The false position in the table in which Birmingham found themselves (really? after 24 games?) that the Bees Player analysts referred to early on proved to be anything but. Then again, despite the ongoing excellence of Mark Burridge (right down to his ‘old school’ use of “denouement”, Billy Reeves style) I did wonder if his co-commentators had been on the last of the Christmas sherry.

The observation that it’s definitely more than a yellow. Is it a red? (following the Jon Toral ‘challenge’ on Jake Bidwell) led to a peculiar discussion about orange cards whilst Birmingham’s winning goal involved Bidwell or someone at the back post. As for half-time guest Tim Street’s novel suggestion that a yellow card was correct because Jake hadn’t been seriously hurt, words fail me… I hadn’t realised that a compound fracture was a pre-requisite for the ref to show red.

I could go on but that’s not the point. It’s old ground and, despite the obvious passion, being able to produce an award winning programme or manufacture website content does not, by default, make you a pundit. As a paying subscriber, that’s my opinion and I’m sorry if it offends anybody. Although by that logic, given the amount of gumph churned out here, perhaps it might be time to start posting the CV to Channel 5.

So Birmingham City leapfrog the Bees who slip to 10th but still remain right amongst it. And, more importantly, we have control very much in our own hands with two home  league games to follow. First up, leaders Middlesbrough and then the televised clash with Andre Gray’s high flying Burnley. Before all that is an FA Cup game which, no doubt, will be used to give some of the squad players and subs a start. 3 matches in 6 days is a huge ask at the best of times, let alone when you are still in the play-off mix

Other points of note for the day are, in no particular order:

Our kit. The regular reader (should such an individual exist) will know my feelings around the new black ‘third’ shirt – truly a thing of beauty. However, the colour clash produced against a team playing in dark blue could surely have been avoided had we been allowed to use our red and white stripes (as we did in the home game at Griffin Park).

Birmingham shirts

The black wasn’t popular amongst those watching

Jota. Supposedly injured in the warm up/training(depending where you read), let’s hope there’s nothing more to it than that. One point the Bees Player team made that I did agree with will be the impact that a fully fit Jota will bring. The attacking potential, and battle for places, in a midfield that already includes the likes of Alan Judge and Sergi Canos is an intriguing one.

Matthew Benham. Our owner has started to follow Pedro Chirivella Burgos on Twitter. Is there anything more to this than his signing for Liverpool alongside Sergi Canos from the Valencia academy? Or can we read it as the first sign of a ‘cryptic clue’ style revelation about an impending loan?

The festive period is over. But that didn’t stop us attempting an elaborate free kick routine with a Christmas tree style line up. The chorus of boos that accompanied the set up for this was clear for all to hear and whilst, sadly, it came to nothing the logic behind it is sound. Do all possible to obscure the view of the defenders and goalkeeper.

Alan Judge was just off target this time but Sam Saunders must have been licking his lips on the bench. It was a set up I’ve not seen before and Channel 5 have a nice video link of the action on their Twitter feed.

Football on 5 freekick

Channel 5 show us the free kick routine

Stats. We’ve already mentioned these briefly but today’s Last Word goes to the undisputed king of statistics, Luis Melville. Tempting fate or the wrong stat at the wrong time as we approached the end of yesterday’s game?

When even the guru that is Luis calls it like this then, perhaps, you just have to accept it was never going to be our day.

Luis stat twitter

Luis tempts the footballing gods….

Nick Bruzon

Bond shaken and stirred as Canos and Woods go bonkers in Berkshire

29 Dec

What can you say? That Brentford beat Reading 2-1 to move within one point of the play-off zone was an impressive enough end to the day. Yet it was the quality of the strikes that secured the win (Dean Smith’s first on the road in his role as Brentford Head Coach) that had everybody talking. First Ryan Woods and then Sergi Canos – who had only just signed his loan extension from Liverpool – took it upon themselves to rewrite the ‘goal of the month’ rulebook.

Poor Jonathan Bond in the Reading goal. Being honest, outside of these efforts we didn’t overly threaten his goal. Yet when you can score, and score like this, then the lack of other chances are made redundant.

With close to 3,000 travelling supporters packing the away end, there were huge hopes for this one. And boy, did Ryan Woods meet then on the quarter hour. Picking the ball up in the right of midfield, nobody could have guessed what would come next. The ginger Pirlo ran forward, lined up the goal in his sights and then unleashed an absolute thunderbolt, on the diagonal, from 25 yards out. It was still on the rise when it hit the far corner of the net, leaving Bond with no chance.

It was a strike that prompted West London’s premier Journalist, Tom Moore, to note on Twiter: “That’s @BrentfordFC’s goal of the month competition sorted. 25 yards out.” How little he, and we, knew….

Even Channel 5 struggled with that one, as their Twitter feed suggests…

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It was a screamer, but it wasn’t at Griffin Park

An hour in and it was 1-1. Garath McCleary doing the damage that, on balance, Reading’s performance probably merited at that point. He opened up the Brentford defence with the speed of a child unwrapping a Christmas present – wonderful interplay with Matej Vydra left him clear on David Button and the ‘keeper with no chance from that position.

Whilst not up to the quality of Woods’ effort, credit is due for a slick move that, being honest, had many of the Brentford fans around me resigned to a point.  Referee Keith Stroud had gone into the match with 38 yellow cards and 2 red in his last 7(seven) outings. With the man in the middle starting to flex his muscles, surviving with 11 players and a point wouldn’t have been a bad thing.

Then Sergi Canos happened.

It was a goal that had Brentford fans purring with delight and Liverpool supporters waxing lyrical about a player they’d rarely mentioned – certainly across our social media timeline. But then, when you score a goal like this, it’s no wonder they were trying to take the credit for it.

Ryan Woods, man-of-the-match by a country mile, lofted a perfect ball to the Spaniard out on the right wing. His first touch was sheer perfection as he lofted it past Stephen Quinn in a style almost reminiscent of Gazza leaving Colin Hendry for dead at Euro ’96. One man gone. By comparison he made drifting past his second man, Michael Hector, looks positively easy before firing home on the diagonal from the edge of the box to the far corner.

Bees fans went bonkers and Canos was ecstatic. Bond was left shaken and stirred whilst Tom Moore has to reopen his book on ‘goal of the month’ . Even Channel 5 recognised we were at the Madjeski. Best of all,  club photographer Mark Fuller was given a very late Christmas present as Sergi ran the right way….

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A great shot from Sergi – and Mark

And that was that. With the exception of Keith Stroud. Even he surpassed his previous efforts , issuing 7(seven) yellows and a red – to the hapless Hector – as his arm was clearly in need of a work out after the excesses of the holiday period. That said, given his card happy nature, he then seemed to develop some form of myopia as first Sam Saunders and later Sergi Canos were victom of some ‘robust’ challenges.

Is there some form of additional paperwork / assessment required when you reach an eighth booking that he just didn’t fancy? Or was he exhausted after flourishing more cards than I received over Christmas? The foul on the Spaniard, in particular, probably the worst of the game.

At the end of the day (Clive), I’m not going to sour a fine victory with an overlong rant on a referee who also managed to upset the home fans (what penalty?). Sadly, we’ve all seen and heard it too many times before.

So, 2-1 to the Bees and a victory that will remain in the memory for a long time. Being honest, I still have questions about the midfield but we’ll save those for another day.

Now, let’s just reflect on those two amazing goals and our possible assault on the play-offs.

No, seriously…..

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View from the stand – players and supporters alike celebrate the winning goal

Nick Bruzon

Lino’s flag saves Fulham from a pointless afternoon

13 Dec

But for a flag. Brentford and Fulham played out a 2-2 Championship draw as the Bees made it 8 goals and 7(seven) points from the last three league games against our West London rivals. But, being quite honest, we’ve left this one feeling somewhat hard done by after a rogue linesman denied Jota a late winner.

In front of almost 20,000 supporters, Brentford took the lead from the penalty spot. Jake Bidwell was tripped just inside the edge of the box, running at the touchline. He didn’t look that much of a threat, if we’re being honest, but…a foul is a foul. And when they happen in the box only one thing can follow.

Up stepped Alan Judge to thump it down the middle and leave a diving Andy Londergan in the Fulham goal with no chance. 1-0 and normal service resumed. Indeed, the pressure built but the Bees couldn’t find a way through and, instead, with half time approaching the home side began to press.

That said, they still needed James Tarkowski to head past David Button to equalise. Hey, it wouldn’t be Brentford without one of our centre-backs scoring an o.g.

The same player was beaten by Dembele as the Cottagers took a second half lead but it would transpire to be a short lived one. The man seemingly at the centre of everything, Tarks, headed Jake Bidwell’s corner goalwards to find Jack O’Connell for the equaliser. The celebrations from the visiting fans at that end were immense, but not as good as they would get….

As with our first goal, it was followed by a period of immense pressure that saw Brentford desperately unlucky not to score again. Lonergan was the difference between one point and three for the Bees. And, of course, we also have the elephant in the room. Or, should that be, on the touchline?

The linesman’s flag denied Jota a winning goal as he was adjudged offside when given the freedom of the penalty box to make it 3-2 to the Bees. That the Spaniard had been granted more space than a professional footballer should have any right t expect his hardly his fault.

That’s the only reason I can think for his being deemed to have encroached. But he looked ‘on’ from where the celebrating Brentford fans were standing and television would subsequently confirm the same.

Football League Tonight was essential viewing (not a phrase I thought I’d have been using back in August) to confirm what we all knew. The goal should have stood. And so, instead of Brentford taking the lead and building, Fulham were allowed back into the game and, in the end, a draw was probably a fair result – based on chances and possession.

Jota onside v Fulham

F. Off…. Channel 5 confirm what we all knew

But as we’ve said so many times – the only stat that counts is ‘balls in the back of the net’. So to have a legitimate strike ruled out and a potential extra two points that would have taken us sixth, denied, rankles somewhat.

On the positive side, that’s five unbeaten for the Bees and, much like Football League Tonight, considering how things looked a few months ago to be talking so positively now is just amazing. It is vindication, again, of the fact that the league is a marathon not sprint. Brentford are certainly a team who are building their momentum and the battle for sixth place, or beyond, could be a very interesting one over the next month.

The Mark Burridge infused highlights package from the club’s official YouTube channel shows what a good game it was.

As for the other stuff from the game, my man of the match was Jake Bidwell although I thought Toumani also had an excellent game. Jack O’Connell continues to impress and this now presents Dean Smith with an interesting selection choice for the trip to Cardiff City on Tuesday night.

Is Harlee Dean an automatic selection, now that the three match suspension for his stupidity against Nottingham Forest has been served? And if he is, who does he replace ? Or will be quite a statement of intent from Dean Smith as to what he does when the next team sheet is handed in

Fairplay to the majority of the Brentford fans. Despite us reading about the threat of some Draconian sounding police and stewarding beforehand, everything was all very good spirited – from supporters, stewards and constabulary.

Indeed, aside from yet another flare wielding numpty (the solitary line of half-arsed Christmas lights decorating the Cottage being about the only thing more embarrassing than our yoof element) the one ejection I saw was for Fulham’s own Beiber-lite in the second half.

Fulham flare

Despite their best efforts, it’s back to ‘sniffer school’

It was a cracking atmosphere (at our end) and The Bees were LOUD. Moreso compared to the wall of silence that came from the rest of the ground. If we thought the Chelsea fans were quiet at Stamford Bridge, this took things to a new level. Mind you, with Bournemouth overtaking Chelsea last night in the Premier League table, Fulham might be getting another West London derby next season.

That said, it certainly seemed that anybody who could travel for this one, did. You know the winter months are upon us when ‘jumper man’ switches from his summer waistcoat to the world’s greatest pullover.

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The world’s greatest jumper. Fact

Likewise, one supporter – who I won’t name but simply refer to as “Project Coordinator for the Brentford Community Stadium project team” – was seen stumbling down the steps on the way to his seat before kick off. A seat which, I am sure, in line with stadium regulations he sat down in for the entire game.

Even the great and the good from the opposition were out and about after the game. Brentford may not have won, but we can still feel very hard done by not to have left the opposition…..pointless.

Nick Bruzon

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one point – for Fulham

“Is there anything he cannot do”? Judge inspires brilliant Bees

25 Oct

Not my words but those of Channel 5 ‘Football League tonight’ commentator Paul Walker to describe Alan Judge. That, after Charlton Athletic had been walloped 3-0 by a resurgent Brentford team for whom the Irishman, as last weekend, was chief destroyer. With two assists and a goal that sent Charlton to another defeat (and saw their head coach Luzon his job at full time), it’s no wonder that clubs such as Swansea City and Bournemouth are rumoured to be interested in a player who is very much our man of the moment.

Those present at The Valley witnessed, the first fifteen minutes aside, as dominant a performance from Brentford as one could hope for away from home. Being quite honest, Charlton had more than enough chances to have taken an insurmountable lead during an opening spell that saw them cut us open like a hot knife through a Swiss cheese.

Simon Makienok, coming over like a cross between Max Zorin and Andy Carroll, won’t enjoy watching the play back of that one. Thankfully, rather than a goal hungry Bond villain, we were looking at somebody with the finishing skills and positional awareness of Nick Proschwitz. And having failed to take their opportunities, Charlton paid the ultimate price.

Max Zorin - crowbarred excuse

Max Zorin – crowbarred excuse

The first for the Bees came via the head of John Swift. That man Judge sending over an inch perfect cross from the right which the on loan Chelsea midfielder made no mistake with. It was all made to look far too easy thanks to the precision of the delivery and the technique used to connect. But better was still to come.

Alan McCormack, but for a couple of inches, would have had a contender for goal of the season. Running onto a pass from Marco Djuricin, he hit it first time from 25 yards, only to see it rebound off the underside of the stanchion. It had the away crowd on their feet, cheering a certain goal as Stephen Henderson was left flapping at air. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but if the first half saw Brentford end on top and with a slender lead, things continued to accelerate in the second.

Judge turned from provide to poacher, curling a beauty past Henderson from the corner of the box for 2-0 to send Bees fans bonkers. It was a finish to rival the best of any he has scored and will only highlight further the talent this man has. Judge has always been quality but the step up in his game this season, when all around have struggled at times, only gives more evidence as to why the likes of Bournemouth and Swansea are being linked with him.

I love Lee Carsley’s approach. Rather than sit on 2-0, Brentford carried on pushing. Lasse Vibe made it three, becoming another beneficiary of Judge’s perfect delivery. DHL could learn a lot from this man, such was the quality. Picking up the cross-field ball, Vibe beat Henderson at his near post from just inside the box to wrap things up with minutes left on the clock.

Not even Brentford could cock it up from here” said one terrace wag and, sure enough, we didn’t. At one point it looked as though Harlee might even have made it four, coming close with his head from a dead ball.

View from the stand - Harlee almost makes it four

View from the stand – Harlee almost makes it four

Judge will, rightly, get the headlines but what pleased me so much was the all round team performance. Nico Yennaris looked assured at right back whilst Jake Bidwell continued to probe down the left. Ryan Woods’ vision and passing looks like he will be another with the potential to play at a higher level whilst Alan McCormack bossed the midfield.

Even David Button had one of his ‘heart in mouth’ sweeper moments that saw him break out of goal to round not one but two Charlton players before playing it out. Rush of blood to the head or just further evidence of the confidence sweeping through this team?

Nine points, 7 (seven) goals scored, just one against and two clean sheets from our last three games show that whatever had been bothering the camp (don’t start…) now seems a distant memory. Lee Carsley has the players enjoying their football and, as importantly, so are the fans.

The goals were stunning, as was the vast majority of the performance. Even the Beesplayer team hit all the right notes – but then any commentary which includes a denouncement of Mexican waves and supporter bands will only ever meet with approval.

Great comms, as ever, from Mark Burridge

I feel for Charlton, genuinely. Nobody likes to see a team in this predicament and I’d thoroughly recommend a read of the Charltonaesthetic blog, to give a beautifully worded account of things from their perspective. If this page is the cheap knock off, then ‘aesthetic’ is very much the Bayeux tapestry of football wordsmithery (is that even a word?)

A disgraced Luzon crabs in and out of his hiding cave like an insidious Megadrive villain….. As the crowd stand and boo the decision, a collective consciousness drops and we realise we’re all embroiled in the Roland Prison Experiment. Left in charge, how far out of control will Luzon’s radical decisions spiral? What lengths will fans go to protecting fellow inmates Charlton from further harm? It’s a dastardly scheme for sure.”

That’s a talent in writing I can only admire, so please do go and enjoy the full article.

The players were in jubilant mood on social media after the game, most of who were bigging up Alan. Yes, he deserves every plaudit but so do all the others.

Harlee, Tarks, Lasse and the rest of you. Thanks for a great day out and reminding us just how good this team can be

Now, if we could just do the same on Friday night…..

Back to school for Charlton - but not at a water based college

Back to school for Charlton – but not at a water based college

Nick Bruzon