Tag Archives: football

How do you break a five year old’s heart? And how does he react ?

12 Jul

5.30am Oh, football. We should be joyous, sporting and full of pride at a team that nobody really fancied prior to the tournament making it all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup. And I am. All of that. But let’s not pretend that after watching England go down 2-1 to Croatia (aet) it doesn’t also feel like the most numbing punch to the gut. Moreso given the one-way traffic of a first half where Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick from the heart of Saunders territory gave supporters an early lead that suggested that the final was in sight. Worse, I’ve got to break a little boy’s heart shortly. HB, normally accustomed to watching Brentford, has invested all his emotional eggs in this England team basket. As a special treat on a school night he was allowed out to watch the first half. He went to bed with the score 1-0 and the game heading in only one direction.

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Watching the replay of THAT free kick. Yessssss

 Let’s not also pretend that the better team didn’t win. Croatia deserved it last night. They accelerated their game in the second half after surviving a pummelling that by all medical logic should have seen them dead on their feet. Attack after attack being broken up by cynical challenge after cynical challenge. Only the referee’s leniency / incompetence keeping them with the regulation 11 players when the teams went in for their half time cuppa. Only a combination of great defending, poor finishing and the linesman’s flag keeping the score at 1-0 to England. Kieran Trippier’s quite delightful free-kick to the top right corner after just five minutes being the difference between the two teams. At least on paper.

HB went back home to bed. “Daddy. Wake me up when you get in and tell me the score” he exhorted. Optimism coursing through his veins and, to be fair, one could understand why. If England had looked in cruise control against Sweden at the weekend after going one up, this seemed to have them in turbo mode. He had already shown me the space on the World Cup wall chart alongside France where he’d be adding England’s name after the game. And then Croatia accelerated. Harry’s sleep remained unbroken. I couldn’t do it to him.

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There’s a big job to do later today. Be strong.

Oh, football. We should be proud. We are. Yet having got so close one can’t deny the genuine disappointment. Can’t deny what a quite wonderful opportunity it was. What an exhilarating moment was unfolding before us. A packed pub, sitting in the shadow of Brentford football club, all pulling together and slowly having their collective hearts broken.

My own take on it at half time was that “This is quite magnificent. But it is also like watching International Brentford.” Chance after chance. Domination on a global scale. A one goal lead but that awful, awful feeling in the darkest recesses of the mind. The feeling that it only takes a second to score a goal and then things would be level on paper. That ultimately, despite all the possession a team may have, balls in the back of the net are the only stat which counts.

Then the second half happened. Then extra time happened. It wasn’t collapse. Far from it. Just an almost inevitable turning of the screw as pressure slowly built and Croatia started to play. If you want the proper facts then the BBC is your place. Go to a reputable website.

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There aren’t many better locations to watch a game of football

For me (Clive) I know what I saw and it’ll stay there forever. A different feeling to Italia ’90 where the ruthless German machine were only ever expected to steamroller Bobby Robson’s boys. Instead, there was genuine belief this time around after Gareth Southgate had inspired a nation to believe.

And ultimately, I guess that’s what we need to take away from this. Winning would have been incredible. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet at the same time, this collective feeling of wellbeing, of optimism, of hope and of positivity inspired by one man in a waistcoat has been a quite magnificent thing to experience. And for being part of that I can only be truly grateful.

These last few weeks have been incredible. Heading into a tournament where many supporters were, understandably, not even willing to travel. Where the media had painted such a picture of impending horror – and that was just off the pitch. Where nobody gave England a hope on it. Instead, we have had the polar opposite. A team that people can take pride in. A team that have inspired us all.  A tournament that has only captivated from the off.      

So that’s my abiding memory. People united. Communities coming together. Strangers talking to each other. A nation taking pride once more after two years of bitter feuding and self-serving politicians have done their level best to tear us apart. England may have lost but there’s no doom or gloom. Just immense pride.

6.40am Gulp. This is it. HB is calling me. “Daddy. Can I get up? Did England win?“. I sit next to him and break the bad news that, unfortunately, they won’t be in the final. That Croatia played better and won, 2-1.

So we won’t be in the final, then?” he asks me, before adding “but does this mean we still get to see them on Saturday? And if we win that, THEN will we be in the final?

I have no answers here. There’s a deafening silence as he looks up, expectantly. Those big, brown eyes staring up at me and waiting to be told that England will still win the World Cup. The silence suddenly broken by Mrs. Bruzon’s alarm clock going off from the next door room.

“Daddy,” he says. “Mummy’s alarm is going off” and then bursts out laughing.

6.45am All I can hear from his room is “Come on, England. Come on, England”.

Nice one, Gareth!! 

Nick Bruzon

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The Griffin.This community vibe is just one of the things I’ll remember from the 2018 World Cup.

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Brentford show us our best bits and best kits.

6 Jul

It’s coming home. It’s coming home. It’s coming, the away shirt’s coming home. Or at least it will be, with the new Brentford away kit already having had a debut last night and going on sale in the club shop later today. Elsewhere, the club have been using the break in World Cup fever to remind supporters of their best bits with an email campaign that is unique to each fan and certainly put a smile on my face when I checked the inbox yesterday. And coming on Monday…….

First up the away shirt. Some supporters, it would be fair to say, don’t like it. Then again, some people think that Mrs. Brown’s Boys is the most hilarious thing since John Bishop told us that joke about liking football and being from Liverpool. There’s no accounting for good taste and we’ll just have to accept that haters gonna hate whilst those of us in the sartorial know think this is up there with the best kits of 2018/19.

Like it or not. Today is the day. 10am is the time. It goes on sale in the club shop and by happy coincidence yours truly has the day off from work. Primarily for HB’s school sports day (which, talking high fashion, also gives an excuse to drag the hummel shorts out of cold storage for ‘dad’s race’  – subject to getting those past Mrs Bruzon.) but can it be helped if the walk to school goes via the club shop? See you there !

The B-team were the lucky lads chosen to give the shirt a first competitive outing. Their game against Maidenhead United at Jersey Road yesterday was one which ended in 4-2 defeat but did see that brown and orange make a full debut. One can only presume the loss was as much down to the players being distracted by how amazing the new kit looks.

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You can’t blame them for being distracted

As for the home shirt, looking around Twitter it would seem we are also due the teaser photo today with the full reveal – and the shirt being made available – on Monday. Bring it on – I can’t wait. Imagine what a day that’s going to be? Celebrating the prospect of the World Cup semis and our new home kit!

In cyberspace, the club also hit the jackpot. Looking around social media it would seem I wasn’t alone in receiving an email reminding fans of their 2018/19 ‘best bits’. Games seen, goals witnessed, miles on the road and other highlights were all in there. Neal Maupay and his moments of magic (Fulham wasn’t it….?) and that 5-0 thumping of Birmingham City. Even if they chose the (relatively) diplomatic approach on the wording and failed to mention ‘the- ex’.

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One of many highlights the club reminded us of

This really was a nice surprise and a beautiful way to reignite our passion. To remind us that domestic football is still around despite the obvious and understandable focus on the international game at present. That club football does have its own magnificence. That our fans make a huge effort to travel up and down the country, following the Bees. Even if one supporter’s perfect attendance record was spannered by a Christmas party.

The only down side – no video highlights. Albeit that’s no real problem and a situation that can be easily rectified. Very easily… 

Cheer up etc etc

In all seriousness though, I thought this was a great idea. We get the monthly email news-letters and post-match reports. They’re always welcome but this was next level. The personal touch with an in your face explosion of good vibes and happy memories. Great job, Brentford!  

There’s not much else to say today. I have no doubt that there’s a long queue forming at the club shop and I need to get in it. Then there’s the World Cup quarter finals to prep for. This could be an emotional few days. Again.

Nick Bruzon

The morning after the night before. Eric Dier and Andy Bush save the day.

5 Jul

Well, yesterday was all a bit bonkers. From start to finish. But then again an England World Cup win will do that. A World Cup win on penalties no less (not a typo). It was just fantastic in and around Brentford but likewise, central London too. You know something amazing must have happened when random commuters start talking to each other on public transport. Yet it was that sort of moment. The spirit of the night before having carried on through. It wasn’t a dream. That really DID happen. People still buzzing about the moment Eric Dier hit the winning spot kick and a nation exploded in joy.

 The. Moment. What a celebration.

I have to be honest here, the prospect of the journey into work was not an appealing one. This was not so much the thought of reaching the office where I was actually looking forward to discussing the game. With my team but more specifically a very good friend of mine (sorry, sorry – I’m not doing an Ian Moose) who is engaged to be married to a quite wonderful girl from Colombia next month. There was genuine curiosity as to the vibe in their house. Something which eventually transpired to be extremely diplomatic and sporting, even if the same couldn’t be said for their neighbours when Yerry Mina scored that heartbreaking 94thminute equaliser.

The reticence was more about travelling in to Waterloo on a packed train in the heat after waking up in what could politely be described as a tired, emotional and fragile state. No amount of air-con was going to save this journey if I had to stand up for a half hour with an exasperated estate agent from Putney shoving his armpit in my face. That, assuming the exasperated screech of “Can you pleeeeeasssse. Move. DOWN”, into an already jammed carriage, had actually worked this time. Urghh. Armpits.

DhPZEXaXkAE7tGKAnd so I’m not too proud to admit this. I took the ‘break glass in case of emergency option’. I’ve had it in the backpocket for a couple of months c/o Absolute Radio DJ Andy Bush but never quite had the guts to use it. Until now. But people seemed chatty. People seemed friendly. People seemed in a genuinely good humour. What was there to lose?

So I used it. Not once. But twice. On the overland and then the tube. Even better, it worked. Twice. A five commuter Mexican stand-off around the one available seat on the Jubilee line being won by my pointing to the badge and saying “Look, does anybody mind if I take that?”.

And then it got awkward. Getting up at my destination, a pregnant lady simultaneously stood up. She had her own, infinitley more legitimate, ‘baby on board’ badge. I didn’t know where to look as she clocked mine and said “Oh…

Cripes. The ground could have swallowed up. Her in genuine need (albeit having been given a seat) and me, a commuting charlatan. She continued, “I LOVE your badge. And I do miss it!”  Get in. Eric Dier, you beauty. You did this. I’m a Brentford fan but big up to the Spurs player and the whole team for achieving this level of bonhomie across the country.

Likewise, big thanks to Bush (below) and my fellow commuters for allowing me to reach the office fully refreshed. And you can follow him on Twitter, at @bushontheradio which I’d thoroughly recommend if you like football. Or radio.

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Everton fan Andy Bush is more than just a DJ

Anyway. Work was fine. Clients were chatty. The mood was great. The journey home a simple one. Indeed, the only sour note was stopping outside The Griffin on the way home to chew over the fat of the night before with landlord Gerhard. He seemed somewhat distracted, and understandably so.

A TV crew were filming on Brook Road south when this chap just pulled up in his van outside the access road, jumped out and left it there. Something that, I gather, also stopped Brentford fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant from being able to later perform a ‘U-turn’. How inconsiderate!

He (the van driver) seemed involved in some sort of fracas with the film crew because he kept going off to his vehicle before running back to them once more. Go figure??

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The film crew interrupted as people watching do nothing to help

The only other highlight of the evening was a now familiar face to the nation, Brentford fan Billy Grant of Beesotted, doing his TV thing once more. Live on BBC News 24 from what seemed like a Victorian parlour in the heart of Moscow. The amount of black and white framed pictures on the walls were as distracting as the random strangers that kept walking through the back of his shot. A Rucksack here; a backwards baseball cap there. Terrible manners. But ever the pro, Billy did his thing and regaled us with his own tales of ‘carnage’ and hugging strangers.

Great work, as ever, from Billy. Here’s to seeing what he has to say in the build-up to the Sweden game.

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Billy on the BBC jumbotron

 

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us to the usual post article, P.S. The Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

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).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18takes 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 how it all began

England do it in the most dramatic style. What a night. What a moment. What a video.

4 Jul

There are no longer any words. That was simply stunning. Incredible. Odds defying. A ‘where were you when…?’ moment. (For the record, The Griffin pub in Brentford). England have only gone and done it. They’ve won a game on ITV. And how. Penalties. That cruelest of mistresses yet, at the same time, the most delicious of tastes should your team pull it off.  Thanks to Jordan Pickford’s save and Eric Dier’s winning spot kick, England did. The place, Moscow. The opposition, Colombia. The occasion, a World Cup last 16 game.

It’s all a bit of a blur this morning. Beer was consumed. Probably in greater volume than would ordinarily be allowed on a school night. But this was a special occasion. The World Cup which has already delivered so much now had an even greater prize at stake. The chance to take on Sweden (who had earlier beaten Switzerland 1-0) for a place in the semi-finals. Didn’t England take their chance when it came to the crunch?

Talk about the see-saw of emotions. Don’t expect much of a match report – then again, if you’re reading this you’ve likely seen the game. We can talk about the cynical play from Colombia. About a referee so far out of his depth as to need armbands and a lifeguard.I half expected to see The Hoff (David, not Philipp) come running on in his red shorts to help out the man in the middle.

How Harry Kane was made to wait so long for the chance to take his penalty in regular time I have no idea. It seemed close to four minutes, the amount of protests being lodged to the ref. The amount of time wasted with Colombia playing silly beggars on the penalty spot, even after he reconfirmed his decision. That, in itself, probably about the only thing he got right after the player had been brutally wrestled to the ground. It was a move as unsubtle as Hulk Hogan on Andre the Giant and penalty could be the only call. Yet even that seemed in doubt for a moment.

No worries. No pressure (at least, none shown) and it was blasted down the middle for 1-0 England after an hour. The pub erupted. The country erupted. But there was still a good thirty minutes to go. Colombia became more desperate. More ill-disciplined. Trying to drag England into it with spoiling tactics that I’m overly loathe to write about for fear of sounding all Daily Mail. But when the referee was letting them get away with daylight robbery then why not persist? Instead I’ll leave this thought here…

And ironically, it was deep into the stoppage time awarded to make up for all the faffing around with the spot kick that they equalised. There was no doubting the placement of Yerry Mina’s header or the joy from the Colombian supporters. Likewise, the collective groan that went around the pub. And wasn’t that Billy Grant up on the big screen – grimacing at us all the way from Russia? His face, etched in the moment of ‘Aaarrgghhhh”, mirroring what everyone felt?

Yes it was. The man with a magnetic attraction to TV cameras and microphones had struck again. Legend. Whether it is England or Brentford, his appearance is as reliable as Glenn Hoddle spouting nonsense (something something something Love Train? ) Whilst yours truly was too cack-handed to get his phone out in time, Twitter was the place – with thanks to David Goodwin and @JimmyMack84.

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Billy Grant – the pain was mutual

I have to be honest, extra time wasn’t good. It didn’t feel good. The psychological pressure of seeing a team come so close only to be denied in the 94th minute weighing heavy on the fans. England seemingly on the back foot and Colombia looking the more likely to win it, if we’re being honest.

But Gareth Southgate’s men are made of stern stuff. They hung in as the game drifted towards the inevitable spot kicks. A means of progression England have only ever succeeded at once previously, back in Euro ’96 against Spain. The pressure. The Tension. The stress. The anticipation. And that was just in The Griffin. Yours Truly had to pop outside to take stock. A look up at Griffin Park and then back in to take the pain…..

Colombia to kick things off. Falcao. 1-0. But not for long. First up for England, Harry Kane. Yessss!!! You beauty. The man must have ice running through his veins. 1-1. Cuadrado 2-1. Rashford 2-2. Muriel 3-2 . The first five kicks scored. A marked contrast to the awkwardness of those in the Croatia – Denmark game.

Up steps Jordan Henderson. No…… Saved. Colombia in the box seat. This was theirs to throw away now.

Boom – by means of reply Uribe hits the woodwork. My word !!! Next up, Trippier. Nerves shredded. We can barely look. But we do. Get in. Back of the net. Spice World The Movie. Jurassic Park. He’s done it. Pick that one out. 3-3 .

Carlos Bacca walks up. This is horrific. Brutal. A form of torture that should, by all rights, have been outlawed under the terms of the Geneva convention. But Jordan Pickford didn’t have any of that on his mind. Not outwardly. What a save. The Colombian denied finding the Bacca the net.

This is it. This is THE moment Eric Dier positions himself.  England have been so close. So close all game yet now this has taken us the very edge and beyond. Fists are clenched. Faces set stern. Eyes wide. People frozen in anticipation. Edge of the seat stuff. Not that many were sitting at this juncture. For a moment, nothing. And then an eruption of sound, of joy, of ecstasy that meant England were through. The net bulging. The pub screaming as one. Strangers hugging strangers and beer flying everywhere.

Football. Bloody hell. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t wait for Sweden on Saturday. Same time, same place.

That’s me done for today. Instead, here’s THE moment……..

Yesssssss!!!

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

 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).

 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 how it all began….

 

Can England join magnificent Japan in the hunt for a monster upset?

3 Jul

Bloody hell. Football. I think we’re all starting to run out of superlatives after yet another stunning evening of World Cup action. And this is before we even get on to England! Monday night’s game between Belgium and Japan showcased the beautiful game at her most alluring. It was one you simply couldn’t have made up and had it all – shock, excitement, wonderful goals, an edge of the seat comeback and then bitter, bitter tears at the end as Roberto Martinez and his team scraped through by the most gossamer like of margins. It was marked contrast from the earlier game where the acting skills of Neymar will remain forever branded onto the memories of most fans rather than a 2-0 win for Brazil over Mexico. And back home, with rumours starting to circulate (we’ll get there properly when something actual happens) Brentford have now announced one move.

I’m struggling to describe the emotions of watching the Belgium – Japan encounter. Even now I’m both smiling at what unfolded yet devastated at how it finished. And that’s having only seen the final 45 minutes. This, after a problem at the office (genuinely) meant I was just coming in from work as the second half kicked off. Sadly, there was no helpful score update from the commentary team. Instead it was down to the graphic in the top corner to bring things up to speed in an immediate, if somewhat unsatisfying, style. But that was where any disappointment ended.

Talk about an explosion of action. Talk about Boy’s Own stuff. Talk about underdogs and unfancied Japan sticking it to the Premier League fat cats. Belgium, for all they galaxy of stars available to their squad were simply blown away. Jan Vertonghen left for dead by Genki Haraguchi who scored with a fine finish. It was defending as leaden footed as Gary Breen at his most oil tanker like (I’m thinking of Sunderland at Brentford in the 2006 FA Cup) but don’t let that take anything away from Haraguchi’s run and shot just after half time.

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One for the Bees fans, there. What a moment.

Less than five minutes later the lead was doubled. Takashi Inui with an absolute piledriver of a shot from well outside the box. A blow as powerful as Godzilla laying waste to downtown Tokyo with his flaming breath but this time it was the Japanese handing out the pain rather than receiving it.

The football was devastating, it was brutal but it was brilliant. A quite scintillating display of moving the ball and running at pace. Yet still they came. Belgium looked lost. Little boys crying out for their mummys after having being promised an easy second round game but, instead, taking an absolute hammering. Fattened lambs to the slaughter after being fed a load of waffle about their opponents.

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The king of the monsters, laying waste to all around

All over social media, Gareth Southgate was being praised for his tactical genius. Not in avoiding the supposed hard part of the draw but simply in England dodging a team who seemed intent on providing this most exciting of tournaments with yet another shock.

And then Belgium woke up. The double substitution of Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli coming on was followed by Vertonghen atoning for his earlier error with 20 minutes to go. Five minutes later, Fellaini powered home a cross form Hazard to level things up. 2-2 and the clock ticking. Japan recomposed themselves and kept coming. A free kick at the death almost drifting in before a quite magnificent move out of the back opened up the Japan midfield and back line for Chadli to stroke home with just seconds remaining.

It was a goal as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. Godzilla having been finally subdued by the footballing equivalent of a freeze ray. With what seemed to be the entire nation willing on Japan, you had to admire the speed and skill with which the winner was scored. Even if it was begrudgingly. The coup de grâce being Lukaku’s sweet dummy when he could have been forgiven for trying to stab the ball goalwards but, instead, allowing it to run through to his teammate to break their opponents’ hearts  

The Japanese were distraught. Understandably so. I had to turn off within moments of the final whistle as they collapsed to the pitch in despair. It felt as though we were intruding on some private moment of grief after having been afforded the privilege of witnessing some of the most breathtaking football in history. Indtead, it was left to their coach Akira Nishino to sum it up:  “I don’t want to admit it. I do feel that it was a tragedy but I have to accept the defeat as a fact.”

It was a million miles away from what we will remember from the earlier game. Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to set up a quarter final with Belgium. Fine. But the theatrics from Neymar Jr, writhing around as though he had been shot, brought torrents of disdain from just about the entire footballing community. It was Rivaldo levels of farce. Acting as unsubtle as Mrs. Brown and a moment that what about as unfunny as Brendan O’Carroll’s tedious creation.

This sequence on my Twitter timeline summing the day up in one screen grab.   

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And so the quarter finals are starting to take shape. This one really is up for grabs now. Whilst anyone could win it, looking at the games to come, anyone really could. But will England join them?

Gareth Southgate’s team do battle with Colombia this evening. On the pitch, it’s 11 v11. Off it, we have England v the curse of ITV.

Whilst I spoke about this earlier in the week, it does bear repeating. England have only one one World Cup game that has been shown on the light channel since 1998. That, back in Germany 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago. Even then, it took two very late goals (Peter Crouch after 83 minutes and Steven Gerrard on 90) to secure three points for Sven’s team. Ah, Sven – remember him?

Can England turn form around? After a World Cup of shocks, I wouldn’t bet against Gareth Southgate pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament to date. Victory under the gaze of Glenn Hoddle.

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The stats don’t lie…

And finally, Brentford. There was transfer news of sorts. Theo Archibald has joined League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers for 2018/19 (albeit with the option to recall in January). You can read the full story on ‘official’ .

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

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).

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 how it all began…..

Nick Bruzon

The sound of FIFA’s marketing team saying “We told you so” after a day of brilliance.

1 Jul

I’d settle for a day of Maradona and Ronaldo crying.” That, my Saturday morning wish list as the teams in the last 16 began the emotion infused process of direct elimination. Winner stays on whilst the loser goes home. On offer: France v Argentina and Uruguay v Portugal. What we got instead was a day of brilliance. Plus, for Bees fans, the club bade farewell to one Dane whilst another is in action this evening as Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford lines up for Denmark against Croatia. And I’ve my own shirt news / thanks .

First, as ever, the World Cup. Argentina are on the plane home after a quite scintillating game with France. Les Bleus, inspired by the pace of Kylian Mbappe, were our eventual winners by the odd goal in 7(seven). But that scoreline doesn’t even begin to tell the story of a game that lurched back and forth like a drunk walking home after a night on the buckfast.

When FIFA promised that their new vivid red ball would reflect the added intensity and opportunity the knockout stage brings, it was dismissed as marketing blurb. Suggestions that the Adidas Telstar Mechta would demonstrate the rising heat of knockout-stage football, nothing more than a crowbarred excuse to justify sales.

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The FIFA marketing team saying “We told you so”

Yet. Yet. Yet… could there be something in it? Whilst we can all safely answer that one, the Telstar did have a wonderful debut. With less than a quarter hour on the clock Mbappe tore half the length of the field, overtaking Marcus Rojo as he broke into the box. The Argentinian left with no choice but to upend him with all the subtlety and finesse of Harlee Dean (in a video interview).

Griezmann made no mistake from the spot. 1-0 and it was clear this could be special. The game rather than the ball. The French pressed on. An almost identical chance fashioned. The crossbar had already been hit from a free kick even before the scoring had started. Argentina anonymous and on the ropes. Surely a knockout punch to come any second.
And it did. But from the boot of Angel di Maria. A quite remarkable effort from well outside the area. A laser guided heat seeker of a goal. What a strike. What timing. 1-1 at half time.

But things got better. If one player had summed up Argentina’s anonymity it was the talismanic Lionel Messi. Yet there he was to set up his side for a 2-1 lead. Could they do it? Would France roll over and surrender? No chance. What followed next was quite brutal.

Three goals in the space of just 11 minutes. An incredible strike from Benjamin Pavard that bore more than a passing resemblance to that of Nacho for Spain against Portugal in the group stages. I can’t watch this enough. A stupendous goal. It was an effort that immediately eclipsed Di Maria’s whilst inspiring France and Mbappe to further greatness.

Oh boy. What a goal.

2-2 became 3-2 became 4-2 France in a matter of minutes. Both coming from the inspirational Mbappe – a player who has the additional effect of leaving that Hanson tune stuck in my head as a very unwelcome ear worm, even now. Yet despite the praise being quite rightly lavished on Mbappe, it was Pavard who truly knocked the stuffing out of Argentina.

Aguero pulled one back with two minutes of injury time left but the clock was eaten up by needless bickering, petulant challenges and general timewasting. France, worthy winners. Argentina, forced to reminisce about former glories

For me (Clive) it was the game of the tournament to date. A fantastic display by France yet one which was, somehow, never quite as comfortable as their performance suggested. The Uruguay-Portugal match later in the evening could never quite match what had come before but it certainly tried.

Edinson Cavani teaming up quite magnificently with Luis Suarez to score both of his sides goals in a 2-1 win. What a partnership Uruguay have, with the two of them working the pitch quite beautifully. Something evidenced by the graphic used in the BBC match report to illustrate his brutal opener.

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There would be no goal for Cristiano Ronaldo. Pepe equalised for Portugal and gave us a celebration that aped the narcissism of his higher profile team mate. I’m sure he’ll argue he was just caught up in the moment and it would be trite to criticise. But Cavani restored the lead again and from that point there was no coming back for Ronaldo. No tears either. The sound of a million phones lined up for a ‘screen grab’ being put back down on the couch echoed around the UK.

Instead, Ronaldo’s role was limited to a bit part as a poor man’s King Tut. That little goatee convincing nobody. Not only was he outshone in this game but he had already had his thunder stolen by Mbappe, Pavard and Griezmann in the earlier kick off.

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One for the ‘Batfans’ amongst you

So what else can we take from yesterday? On a personal note, I spend hours writing nonsense about football, about Brentford and about the World Cup. Some of it hits. Most of it misses. Then my five-year old nailed it in one take, asking: “Daddy. Why didn’t Argentina bring Lucas Biglia on?”

Watching on the BBC, I was shocked to discover in their half-time piece that, apparently, Gareth Southgate once missed a penalty? Really? Surely somebody would have mentioned this before? If you don’t believe me, Euro ’96 was the tournament. You heard it here first !
 
Off field, there has been plenty to keep us intrigued. Most of it involving Diego Maradona. Yet if we’ve learned one thing from Russia 2018, it’s how to write “A fish called” in Chinese.

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Crowbarred jokes of our time

And on that laboured bombshell, back to Brentford. Firstly, a HUGE thanks to those who have downloaded one of the Last Word e-books. Whilst the shirt competition has now closed (the draw to take place later today) these are still available – links below. All proceeds go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust for which we’ve, no – you’ve, raised well over £400 already. Nice one. THANK YOU all so much.   

IMG_E3007As for footballing matters, the club bade an expected farewell to Andreas Bjelland yesterday. With his contract having expired, and the new offer not taken up, the Denmark international’s future lies elsewhere now. One does wonder how much more he could have shone for the Bees were it not for that horrific injury suffered in the League cup against Oxford (that Marinus experiment game…) . AS it was, still a great player and one who even gave us the thrill of being our first ever World Cup ‘Panini sticker’ despite not making the final 23 due to injury. Good luck Andreas, and thank you.

That said, one player who did make the Denmark World Cup squad is Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard (as we must call him). I’m really looking forward to seeing him in action once more this evening. Croatia are next in line for our man who has started all his team’s games so far.

Personally, I suspect it will be a much cagier affair than what we saw yesterday. But as has also been said many many times, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Could the teams prove us wrong? Could Brentford have a player in the quarter finals of the World Cup?

Roll on 7pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

PS And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust , those Kindle e-book links are:

 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).

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 how it all began….

No stripes? Adidas sell fans short with back and sides. And why England could be in trouble on Tuesday.

30 Jun

Saturday morning. After a day to recover from England reaching the knockout stages following Gareth Southgate’s quite magnificent game of bluff against Belgium, the action picks up again with the quite delicious prospect of France and Argentina meeting in direct, winner stays on, combat. Back home, Brentford have revealed the first news about our new home shirt and it has the fans talking – thanks to the machinations of the good folk at Adidas. Plus today is the last day for one fan to win my own prize – the limited edition 2017/18 Bees ‘third shirt’ given to me by a source close to the club. The draw will take place tomorrow.

Where to begin? Well I suppose it can only be England. A second round tie with Colombia awaits following Thursday night’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium. It is a defeat that sees the team in the, so called, easier half of the draw – a comment that is as patronising as it is foolish; should things go wrong. On the flip side, swerving the likes of Argentina, Brazil, France and Portugal (for now, at least) is no bad thing and let’s not pretend that for those of us watching back home, there wasn’t what felt like a huge silver lining to the cloud of defeat. As my good friend Paul (with apologies for going all Ian Moose) said in the pub with the clock showing 85 minutes, “Holding on for defeat has never felt so tense.

Yet whatever the result, the game is as much best remembered for a master stroke from Gareth Southgate. With Roberto Martinez telegraphing his intention to utilise the full squad long before kick-off in what he deemed “a celebration game”, Gareth was making all the right noises about playing to win. Playing his team. And then he announced it. Boom. Eight changes. I’ve not seen this much rotation since watching the magic roundabout as a child.

So the B-team lost. And? The fans, which included Brentford big cheeses Mark Devlin and Mike Sullivan seemed to enjoy themselves. Beesotted sharing this picture on their own Twitter feed.

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Two businessmen on a jolly to Russia. What could go wrong…?

It sounded a phenomenal atmosphere with, thankfully, that band being drowned out for large sections of the game. At least, that was the perception for those of us who had just come in from work and were watching back home. Great work all round – long may it continue.

Yet whatever the mechanics of the draw and the group stages, it could all be in vain for England. With Tuesday’s game being shown on ITV, a stat reaches me via former Brentford video whizzkid and Alex Pritchard lookalike Sean Ridley…..

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The stats don’t lie…

Wow. That’s incredible. Who’d have thought the Glenn Hoddle effect was that far reaching? Yet as we’ve also said on these pages many times, it’s goals and not stats that win games. Here’s hoping that transpires to be the case this time around. Moreso, given Brentford chairman Cliff Crown will be in attendance, having been offered a very special opportunity.

He announced on Twitter yesterday that: I am delighted and honoured to have been asked to be one of the representatives from the  professional game as an English FA ambassador at the England v Columbia game in Russia.

This is special news. We all know how affable and generous with his time Cliff is. What a wonderful ambassador he is for our own club and the game in general. How hard he works to promote Brentford and the FA. So how wonderful to see him afforded this chance. Nice one, Cliff.

Finally. The second round. It IS the second round although I would also accept the last 16. Please, whatever FIFA may try to convince you, there is no such thing as ‘the round of 16’. Much like the faux verb ‘to medal’ or our own ‘Team GB’ (GREAT. BRITAIN.) this new fangled gumph is slowly eeking into public consciousness as a somehow acceptable term. It isn’t. It’s made up. It’s just a mouthful. There’s no ‘round of 8’. Nobody is sitting in the pub saying, I can’t wait for next Sunday when England get to play Portugal in the round of 2.

Dear FIFA, you may own the competition. You don’t own football. Please. Stop this nonsense.

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‘Easy’ side? Horrific terminology. SECOND. ROUND.

Ok – back to Griffin Park. An announcement was made out of Brentford ‘official’ about the forthcoming season’s Adidas produced home shirt. Specifically, that it will have no stripes on the reverse but, instead, a plain red back. This is not a decision taken by the club but one they are clear to point out is part of adidas’ design direction for the upcoming season for all their partner clubs in the UK (and beyond, it would seem if you look at the Juventus home shirt for 2018/19). The benefit being that they, “believe this will allow them to create more standout designs for clubs in the UK”.

That’s the marketing speak. Fairplay to the club for getting this news out early. Certainly I’d have done it this way, given we’ve had our hand forced by a ‘partner’. Looking at the new Sheffield United kit, they’ve also had to follow suit although have opted for an awful white. Something that, for yours truly, brings back memories of the Puma teabag and a missed penalty the last time we were forced down this route (something that the Blades somehow seemed able to bypass).

If we’ve had no choice then red is most definitely the correct option. Whilst there is no question whatsoever that we should have stripes on the reverse, if a plain colour is needed then the white was just too much. 

If anybody from Adidas is reading (unlikely, but….) I would ask why we couldn’t just replicate the ‘standout design’ from the front and apply it to the reverse? Even with a ‘patch’ should clarity for numbers be the crowbarred explanation – something that has never really been a problem in the past.

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Worse things have happened in a red back…..

Ahh, I can’t be too upset at present. At the end of the day (Clive), we’ve not seen the shirt yet. It could stand on its own merits or be a pinstripe nightmare – either factor regardless of the back. Besides, after the brown and orange beauty for the away shirt, I could forgive them just about anything at present. Even the lack of long sleeves.

Talking of the brown and orange, for anybody still doubting how incredible it looks the club shop now have it up in the window. If you happen to be in the vicinity of TW8 then do take a diversion. It’s well worth seeing this beauty up close.

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One of my favourite websites, historicalkits.co,uk have also added this one to their pages. Along with their own unique commentary which tends to border between sarcasm and dead-pan brilliance. This is the same site that described our own 2015/16 away effort as follows:  (Mark) Devlin also helpfully adds that the “Away kit needs to be significantly different from the home kit to ensure there are no colour clashes.” So pleased he cleared that up.

But which way did they go for the 2018/19 incarnation? Well, in the interest of fairplay I’ll leave this one to you….. Their Championship page can be found here.

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And with all the subtly of Ian Moose taking a selfie, the kit talks continues. Today (Saturday) is your last chance to enter the draw to win this 2017/18 Brentford ‘third’ shirt. The draw will take place on Sunday afternoon and I’ll look to film it if technology allows.

To be in with a chance of winning this, simply download a copy of the Last Word Season review Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Or the full fat five year version  There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18

ALL proceeds received go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust and so even if you don’t win, know that your donation is going to a great cause whilst in return you get to OD on all things Griffin Park. And beyond.

As a bonus (please note, your definition of bonus may vary) 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).

Should you be kind enough to take part, PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your download confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

Thank you

Nick Bruzon

Germans, Fawlty. Flaccid Mannschaft fail to make a semi for first time in 12 years.

28 Jun

Don’t mention the, the, the….VAR. (© the entire internet and newspaper industry). Curses. I feel dirty. Tried to resist it but the opportunity was so blatant and the open goal so gaping it would have been a crime not to jump on the ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina’ bandwagon of obvious post-defeat puns. But these are strange times. Wednesday’s action saw Germany finish bottom of their World Cup group after going down to South Korea, Brazil ease through the gears and England preparing for a Group G shoot out with Belgium. And, as ever, there’s a Brentford angle. Of sorts.

Just when you thought the World Cup couldn’t get any more exciting, it did. And how! We’ve already seen the likes of Argentina, Portugal and Spain make much harder work of qualifying than they would have been expected to after some quite scintillating group action. Seeded Poland are already out and yesterday afternoon in the biggest of all the shocks, not just for this tournament but in years, Germany were sent home after succumbing 2-0 to South Korea.

Talk about a (Joachim) Low point. The defeat saw them finish rock bottom of the qualifying group as, going for broke after Sweden cruised into an unassailable lead against Mexico, it became a case of win or bust. Two late goals – one reinstated thanks to use of VAR and the other with German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer caught upfield – meant this one was left firmly in the bust camp. That totally unusual, and in no way pleasurable, sight of their fans crying in the stands filling our screens.

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Stop. Sniggering. Please.

It was just bizarre. Yet at the same time, brilliant. How often have they swept all before them? The ruthless footballing machine that has claimed trophy after trophy. Despatched those crucial penalties with clinical ease? Invincible. Untouchable. All conquering. Until now. These demi-Gods of the global game, brought to their knees.

It is the first time in 12 years Germany have failed to reach the semi-final of a major tournament. As many twitter wags have already pointed out, who will now beat England on penalties? More importantly, it has thrown the tournament wide open whilst adding even more intrigue to tonight’s game with Belgium.

Specifically, the talk of finishing second being a seemingly more advantageous position to be in. The group winners go into the side of the draw that contains Brazil, Mexico, France, Argentina and Portugal in the knock out stages. The reward for second place is a knockout stage that currently features Spain, Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. With both sides on level points, goals scored and goal difference, should either fail to win then it will come down to who has the most bookings. At present, a draw will see England will top the pile based on their 2 yellow cards compared to Belgium’s 3.

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The BBC show how tight the group is.

Watching last night’s Brazil game on ITV, the subsequent panel discussion was all around this very point. Gary Neville and Ian Wright both stressing the benefits of the so called easier route (whilst failing to note that it also includes Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford and his Denmark team. I DID say it was an angle, of sorts). Let the big boys knock each other out.  

It is an option seemingly favoured by Belgian coach Roberto Martinez. His own interview suggested wholesale changes were in the offing and players protected. Unless my ears were deceiving me, I could have sworn his interview on ITV included references to it being what he deemed “A celebration game” where “the priority is not to win”.

Also in the geometric hell and magic eye puzzle that is the ITV studio, Slavan Bilic was ploughing a lone furrow. Go for broke. Keep the momentum. Win at all costs. Don’t disrupt the routine. Thing started to get a little bit Daily Mail at this point. Belgium will play the second string. It’s not English to do anything but go for it. The team will play to win. Gareth won’t rotate his squad etc etc

All I’ll say on the subject is that at 8/5 this morning, a price checked with my online bookmaker purely for research purposes, England would seem to be  very generous price. Then again, could it all be the ultimate in double bluffs from Martinez? Or is the safe and easy route against supposedly easier opposition, one they favoured in their own warm up games for the tournament, something that Belgium will look to try and follow once more.

Whilst one can’t imagine they’ll go out of their way to lose / throw the game, perhaps a cagey bore draw is all we have to look forward to. And if this is how things are looking as we head into the final fifteen, could there be a flourish of yellow cards? A bit of back chat here. A ball thrown away there. Just enough to ensure one team tip themselves into second place whilst remaining undefeated.

Then again, and has been said many times, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace. Plenty of questions and no actual answers. Yet.

I can’t wait until 7(seven) pm when we find out what they are.

Nick Bruzon

PS Just a reminder that The Last Word season Reviews are now available for download. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC 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 or just 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.

Plus, pick one up before the end of June and go into the draw to win an exclusive Brentford shirt. PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your download confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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).

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 how it all began….

 

Big new balls. Same old Maradona. And an innovation from Brentford.

27 Jun

The simultaneous sound of a million screen grabs being made and one director desperately screaming “cuuuutttttttttt”. Diego Maradona celebrating that late winner for Argentina against Nigeria in his own unique style is somethign that will long live on in the memory. Last night saw the relentless pace of the World Cup show no signs of abating. A point made even more pleasurable given the afternoon’s bore draw in which Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard (now something as locked into the media mind as eighteen year old Ryan Sessegnon’s eighteen year old age, West Ham’s move to the Olympic stadium, Trevor Brooking’s header in the 1980 FA Cup final and West Ham winning the World cup in 1966) made it three appearances out of three for the Dane.  There’s a new ball coming whilst for Brentford fans, we’ve a unique perspective on Lionel Road.

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Goaaaallll!!!

Cripes. The World Cup. We’re not even at the knockout stages and I’m already exhausted. This is just brilliant. The excitement, the pressure, the tears and the joy. VAR has gone haywire whilst over on the BBC, Mark Lawrenson has swung between bizarre brilliance with his ‘UHT’ joke and coming close to self-combustion during the denouement of the Portugal v Iran game.

This is getting seriously good. We’ve had to have a few days down time on these pages, just to catch breath. Plus I was extremely tired and emotional after the England – Panama match. A 6-1 win and two penalties hit so well you’d have thought Harry Kane was German (although, perhaps you could argue he is footballing royalty). It was a score beyond what anyone expected and means England are through to the knockout stages with a game against….. Well, nobody has a clue because Group H is wide, wide open. Poland aside, that one could finish with any combination of Senegal, Colombia and Japan in the top two places.

Then, on Monday, Group B finished up. Spain scraped through after twice trailing Morocco. Portugal hung on by the skin of their teeth against an Iran side who were left dead on their feet and mentally drained after running Cristiano Ronaldo and his team so, so close. It was edge of the seat stuff with VAR conspiring to provide a devastating impact on both games whilst sending Lawro to the heights of apoplectic rage. “It’s farcical” he ranted on more than one instance. You had to sympathise but my God, it made great viewing. If not for the right reasons.

Yet if Portugal had got knocked out they’d have had to doff hats to a team who played a great tactical game. Sadly, I fear we’d have just had Ronaldo in floods of tears. Still, all that’s to come.

DgpHwT0WkAo5rrJAnd then there was the Argentina – Nigeria game last night. It will be remembered as much for the actions of Diego Maradona in the stands. Switching from being caught fast asleep before later giving his own celebratory salute. Less Hand of God and more fingers of dog. He’s an emotional chap, I’ll give him that.

“‘There’s a danger of him becoming a laughing stock I’m afraid“ opined Gary Lineker from the studio. A fair point from the man who saw his Mexico ‘86 dream end via those very same finger tips? Or just more of what was to be expected from one of football’s larger than life characters?

On field, manager Stavros Flatley and his team sneaked through as Croatia topped the group. It sets up a mouth-watering last 16 game between Argentina and France on Saturday afternoon. Here’s hoping the French make it slightly more interesting than they did yesterday. The game against Denmark possibly the dullest in World cup history since records began. If Maradona fell asleep during the Nigeria match, he may need something to help lift him when the French come to town.

The plus point of all that was that it meant Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard is also still in Russia. His Denmark team finished second in the group and will now play Croatia on Sunday evening. The same day Spain meet hosts Russia. Wow. Fill the fridge, clear the couch and light up the barbie (cue rather than doll). This could be a long one….

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more, please.

New balls, please. That’s what’ll happen when those knockout stages begin. To date, we’ve been using the black and white Adidas Telstar 18. From Saturday it will be the new red and white Adidas Telstar Mechta. For reasons unknown beyond, presumably, a cash in.

The marketing speak on the official FIFA site is a joy to behold : ”New vivid red design inspired by the colours of the host nation, as well as the rising heat of knockout-stage football”. It continues, “The name Mechta translates as ‘dream’ or ‘ambition’ in Russian and is constructed with the same design elements as the Telstar 18, the ball used throughout the group stage, but adapted to reflect the added intensity and opportunity the knockout stage brings”. We then get to the rather more mundane, “The ball has a brand-new carcass that retains the best of the Brazuca “.

Good news though. Like the ‘18’, the Mechta also has an embedded NFC chip – the first time it is ever been used in an Official Match Ball . Not only does it make this the most innovative FIFA World Cup™ ball to date but, apparently, the chip enables consumers to interact with the ball using a smartphone.”

And there’s me thinking FIFA was just about the money and the sales figures. On the plus side, it does put one in mind of that rather odd, and short lived, Mitre ball from 1980.

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Is that Telstar or Telstra? Curse that typeface

Next up, Henrik Dalsgaard’s Brentford. Have you started to follow The Brentford FC Drone on Twitter as yet?

You can do so here via @TheBFCDrone This is brilliant. I’ve no clue who the pilot is but what a great idea and a fantastic way to show supporters how work is progressing on our new home. Aerial fly bys and progress reports from the Lionel Road build are going up weekly. They have a YouTube channel, too – and there’s a sample video below. Please DO check it out – this is brilliant. The only domestic Brentford story currently better than our awesome away shirt. Here’s hoping the drone action continues when the season proper kicks off  .

Catch it on Youtube, now.

Finally, there’s only a few days for the chance to give one supporter an ultra-rare 2017/18 ‘third shirt’ with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in EFL font. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop. Indeed, this has been given to me by a source close to the club.   

All you need to do is download one of the Last Word season reviews. This isn’t a get rich slow scheme for yours truly. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC 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.

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

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).

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 how it all began….

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Nick Bruzon

 

Brilliant Brentford surprise the fans, Germany do what Germany do and a selection headache for England.

24 Jun

I’m spent. The World Cup. That was the game that had it all. Most importantly, for Germany. A last, last gasp winner from Toni Kroos has resuscitated a qualification campaign which was on the verge of a fatal collapse. England get their chance today whilst back in West London, Brentford official have been doing their bit for the fans in quite wonderful style as the away shirt momentum builds.

First up, the World Cup. England play this lunchtime with supporters hopeful for another three points. A win will guarantee qualification for the knockout stages before playing Belgium. That’s no bad thing given the stake that was thrust into the ground yesterday. A 5-2 demolition of Tunisia, something that was at complete odds with the cagey second half between England and the North Africans.

The main talking point for this one has to be Gareth Southgate’s selection problem. What does he start with? Not so much the talk of leaked team sheets and his starting XI but more on the fashion front. Given his dislocated shoulder, can a waistcoat and a sling work?

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What are the alternatives though? Might he go for the t-shirt favoured by Joachim Löw (although preferably without the lucky ‘scratch and sniff’ – all being well England won’t need a goal that badly). Perhaps a tracksuit top. With the heat reckoned to be up in the 30s this lunchtime (that’s over 90, in proper temperature) you can be sure he won’t be in a jacket.

As one radio observer has noted, whilst no doubt a smart image Gareth’s waistcoat look always puts one in mind of a guest at the latter stages of a wedding reception. I couldn’t agree more.  The jacket, slung on the back of a chair as Come On, Eileen entices people to the disco floor. And for clarity, that’s the chart-topper from Dexy’s Midnight Runners rather than a call for help from Glen Hoddle’s much maligned ‘psychic’, Drewery.

Yet however he looks, one thing is for sure.  I can’t look beyond England to win this one. It then boils down to who can hold their nerve in the game against Belgium. All that’s to come though. Yesterday saw the World Cup at both its finest and most heart-breaking. Poor Sweden. Relentless Germany. With five minutes of additional time signalled you just knew what would happen. Wave after wave of pressure had been resisted. Germany held on despite going down to ten men. Sweden were denied a seemingly blatant penalty. They even took the lead in the first half. And then they were torpedoed by a Kroos missile with what was just about the last kick of the game.

It was a game which had us all gripped. Even yours truly had hauled himself out of the arse groove in the sofa and forward to the edge of the seat. Could Sweden hang on? Would the German be going home early? Tabloid journos were already penning their headlines – ‘Don’t cry for me, Augenthaler’ from one Twitter wag being a favourite of mine.

The answer was a resounding NO. As emphatic a punch to the gut as these Teutonic Titans of World Football rose to the occasion once more. Reel out every cliché about Germany that you want. They’re all true. Viz comic had it spot on with a tweet they put up later that night.

Germany are still by no means through but they’ve kept themselves alive in as dramatic a style as could be imagined. One also needs to pay credit to the ITV commentary team (not a typo). Their second half reference of  ‘and for those of you just coming in from a day out....’ was a neat weekend spin on that classic World cup staple – “and for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…”. I still can’t forgive them for Glenn Hoddle but credit where it is due.

Ok – Brentford. The away shirt. I promised the other day that was me done on it and, in terms of trying to convince you of how magnificent it is, even I can accept that the haters are going to hate it. No amount of words will change that. Hopefully seeing it in the flesh will show how good it is.

Well, the club have responded to some of the feedback in quite magnificent style. Aswell as rewarding several of our younger and most loyal supporters with a surprise delivery, some of those who had been the most scathing have also received a present of a ‘hot off the production line’ new away kit in the post. Along with some Jaffa cakes. Amongst other things.

Supporter Adam Checkley had been one of those to vent his frustration when the shirts were revealed, claiming: that kit is awful! Looks like a Sainsbury’s uniform in 1980’s….keepers kit is great though. Brentford Bob had likened it to a pair of 70s underpants (amongst other, less repeatable, commentary on the subject). As for Sarah, (@BeesBabe195), only that morning she’d still been up in arms, saying: Trust me, I won’t be changing my mind about anything brown & orange. She even added, I don’t need to wait to see it. I know what I like, colour wise & it ain’t a combo of brown and orange.

Then the post man came knocking.

Fair play to Sarah, summing it all up in one tweet: A HUGE thank you to all @BrentfordFC for my fab surprise package! This is one of the very reasons I bloody love the club so much! I shall wear my shirt with pride & who knows, I may even dye my hair green!! I love you guys! 😁😍 You really have cheered me up today 🐝

And her sartorial verdict: Seen it & wearing it!!! 😉 It’s still not my favourite, but……… it’s growing!

She wasn’t alone. Upon receipt of his surprise package, Adam took to Twitter where he declared: blown away with the package this morning…our club is in very safe hands ! 👏🐝 It’s growing on me defo and a definite cult classic bees shirt. Later adding that: Will be up there with the Chad kit and yellow / Black kit as ones we’ll be talking about in 20 years

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Even Bob seemed to take his delivery in good humour, although there was was some (understandable) concern on the pants front:

Well, someone at @BrentfordFC does at least have a sense of humour.  Slightly concerning that they knew my pant size, and they’re in Fulham colours obvs.  I can confirm that the shirt looks even worse in the flesh and particularly bad on a fat man in his late forties. 🙂

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A new shirt and three pairs of pants

I love this. It’s brilliant. We all know the shirt has divided fans but what a way to respond. What a way to show your sense of humour. What a way to try and persuade people that it’s a lot nicer than they may have first thought. What a way to engage with supporters.

And on a completely unrelated note, may I be the first to say how much I loathe the new home shirt that we haven’t seen yet. I can only presume it looks like something that Bully might have worn on Bullseye. What a disgrace.

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Finally, please don’t forget that I’d like to give one supporter an ultra-rare 2017/18 ‘third shirt’ with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in EFL font. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop. Indeed, this has been given to me by a source close to the club.   

All you need to do is download one of the Last Word season reviews. This isn’t a get rich slow scheme for yours truly. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC 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.

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

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).

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. 

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THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon