Tag Archives: France

Is it all smoke and mirrors? Or have we been here before? Jota missing again.

16 Jul

Well that’s been an interesting few days for Brentford fans. Le tour de France is now over. We’ve seen another new signing with striker Neal Maupay joining from AS Saint-Étienne (he’s on the phone, presumably being the cry from the Griffin Park media suite as the deal was being confirmed). The friendly with Swiss side Lausanne-Sport ended in a 1-1 draw whilst we’ve now got less than three weeks until the season opener up at Sheffield United. Yet, for all that, there’s one word on supporter’s lips – Jota. Just what is going on?

Despite a wonderful looking line up in France for Saturday’s game with Lausanne, there were two notable absentees. Maxime Colin and, of course, the talismanic Spaniard – King Jota. Whilst Max was labelled an injury precaution, things were less clear on the subject of Jota. One could also argue that Lewis Macleod and Alan Judge were the other big names to miss out but given their lengthy injuries and recuperation there was never a chance of either player featuring.

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Injuries and absence aside, the team was a very strong one

BBC Billy Reeves had already probed Dean Smith last Friday on that subject. Likewise, I’ve already given my own thoughts (all that is here) but since then we’ve had radio silence. The ‘imminent’ big bid from a Premier League side has yet to materialise or, if it has, nobody is saying anything. The local press have no more clue than myself (at least, in public) whilst usually reliable sources on the rumour front such as Beesotted have remained very much under the radar.

It’s a shame the likes of Billy (Reeves – BBC and Grant – Beesotted) were missing yesterday. I’d love to have heard their thoughts and questions on a team line up that already looks incredibly strong for the forthcoming season. Stick Jota, Maupay and Colin in there too and Sheffield United could have a Championship baptism of fire. Not to mention the rest of the league .

Instead, it was left to ‘official’ where the match report had no managerial comment although Twitter did at least give us some update.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 07.38.18So there you have it. Despite all the noise this just seems to be smoke and mirrors at the moment. Indeed, it all very much smacks of West Ham and Scott Hogan once more. All talk, all rumour, all unsettling but no action.

It reminds me in a way of the Simon Moore transfer. His sale had been talked up for most of the 2013/14 pre-season before he eventually ended up at Cardiff City. Prior to that though, he’d featured in a two minute pre-season cameo before being substituted with an ‘injury’. This, was immediately followed by his sale to a Cardiff City team we’d then play in a friendly after the infamous explanation for another absence as ‘visiting the beach’.

That game, for the record, being one we emerged from with a fantastic 3-2 win after going 2-0 down early on. Although Paul Hayes in the last minute doesn’t quite have the same ring.

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Simon Moore. Once went to Cardiff beach, according to Uwe

Is Jota being viewed as a big part of our plans for 2017/18 (one can only hope) or is the writing already on the wall? Without a doubt the club know more than they are saying in public – nobody expects them to reveal transfer dealings negotiations ahead of any deal being signed or rejected. But a second absence in eight days speaks huge volumes. If the player does feature against Oxford United on Wednesday, it will be very interesting to see for how long. A full 90 minutes or a token run out at the death? There’s going to be a lot of squeaky bums over the next three days, let alone the next three weeks.

On the positive side, the signing of Neal Maupay presents another exciting opportunity for Brentford. Nobody can deny that whatever the initial scepticism around our transfer strategy, we’ve unearthed some gems from the continent over the last few seasons.

Of course there’s Jota but you could add Yoann Barbet, Maxime Colin, Lasse Vibe, Andreas Bjelland and, in my mind, the criminally under used Konstantin Kerschbaumer to that list for starters. We’ll draw a discreet veil over Big Nick although he did join us from the English league so doesn’t really count in that bracket. That said, for the record, this Wednesday will mark the five year anniversary since Hull City paid SC Paderborn £2.6 million for his services. How times change.

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Neal Maupay – as seen on official

As a final thought for today, since the previous column about Peter Gilham it has been wonderful to see the outpouring of love and best wishes for Mr Brentford. Without a doubt he is one man to unite this club, having talked the Bees family through thick and (a lot of ) thin. So to read his own message was intensely heart warming for all of us but, as importantly, the fact that he has just carried on with his pre-season duties as though it was BAU.

His tour blogs have kept us updated as to those behind the scenes details of what goes on when the Bees are abroad. Here’s hoping he’s back with the mic on his hand for August 12th and our first home game.

Peter, we’re still thinking of you. Get well soon.

Nick Bruzon

We’re all thinking of you, Peter

10 Jul

By now all Brentford supporters will surely have heard the news about Peter Gilham. With the first team on their training camp in France, Peter used the medium of his traditional tour diary over the weekend to share some extremely personal news:

“However as is synonymous with men of my advanced years, PC has reared its ugly head (and I don`t mean political correctness or indeed the local constable) and to help me combat it, I have enlisted a lovely hardworking team of people who know how to go about it. So, daily visits to see them means that I can’t be in two places at once”. 

Anybody with even half an interest in Brentford football club knows Peter. They know how much he has done in the past and how much he continues to do now. How personable, friendly and helpful he is but most of all just how much he is Mr. Brentford. Football’s longest serving ‘man with the mic’, there isn’t a role he hasn’t performed or a supporter whose match day experience hasn’t been enriched by Peter.

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Peter doing what he does best

Every game that goes by features a Peter moment. Whether the customary pre-match high-five with Buzz and Buzzette or those wonderful goal celebrations sponsored by Siracusa. Only a man of Peter’s talents is able to turn what could be cheese into pure gold. Who doesn’t love his proclamation that, “It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock”. The more goals we score, the more excited the announcement becomes.

From time to time he’ll burst into a snatch of ‘Hey, Jude’ before a particularly crunch match/second half. There’s the deadpan commentary to centre-circle challenge whilst, of course, nothing has quite the same ring as his exhorting Brrrennttttt-ffffoooorddd !!!.”

We all love him. And that’s just the fans. Players, staff and former Bees were lining up to wish him well yesterday. Everybody from Harlee to Jota; Sam Saunders to Mark Warburton and beyond. If any proof were needed (it isn’t) about how universally loved Peter is and how a much a part of the fabric of this football club that Peter is, then here it was.

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Just some of those – past and present – thinking of Peter

With his announcement made on Saturday, Sunday gave the impression of being BAU with another wonderful entry from the tour blog. All the squad and staff updates were provided, along with the the images of both Manny Onariase, Luke Daniels, Henrik Dalsgaard and Kamo Mokotjo singing ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls aswell as Kitman Bob Oteng being left open mouthed (Peter’s words) at Cycling’s Team Sky and their mobile laundry.

No doubt Peter will carry on doing what he does. We’ll love it and enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean we won’t stop thinking about him. Peter, get well soon. Please.

You are THE Man when it comes to Brentford FC and you have an entire club, an entire community and an entire footballing family behind you. There’s huge love and best wishes heading your way from yours truly, the supporters and all the players. If you were in any doubt, just sign yourself up to Twitter and take a look.

We’re all thinking of you. Get well soon. See you on August 12th.

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter does his pre-match thing. More of the same against Nottingham Forest, please

Nick Bruzon

Football reaches a new level of cringe on a day the Bees say farewell to The Hoff

14 Jun

Farewell to the Hoff. It was announced on Tuesday that Philipp Hofmann is leaving Brentford after two seasons and will return to Germany where he has signed a deal with Bundesliga 2 side Greuther Fürth. There was huge interest when the player joined the Bees from 1. FC Kaiserslautern but, as Co-Director of football Phil Giles noted in the story on ‘official’, “It is fair to say that things haven’t worked out as well as either Philipp or Brentford would have hoped since he signed in 2015”.

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The Hoff’s signing is announced in Germany

A record of 4 goals in 33 games would support this view but, at the same time, how much of the failure lies at the feet of the player and how much on other factors? You don’t represent Germany at international level (U-18 through U-21) by being bang average so was he just the wrong player in the wrong team? Last season there were times when the team was crying out to get him on a bit earlier, just to change things around a bit. Instead, he was left on the bench or in the reserves.

Equally, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back to the day he joined in July 2015, perhaps the clues were there on these very pages where it was noted:

”Marinus has described him as “a target man, physically strong, and a good header of the ball”. For those of you with a statistical leaning, he comes in at 6 foot 4 and a half inches. Certainly the opposite to Andre Gray and very much in line with that description of his being a ‘target man’. And whilst, on paper, some aspects may put one in mind of a certain Nick Proschwitz, I’m fairly sure that’s where the analogies will end.”

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Chances were limited at Griffin Park

Whilst, of course, there’ll be good wishes for Philipp back in Germany it does also beg the question as to what is happening on the domestic front? With Lasse Vibe as first choice up top, we’ve only otherwise the potential of Justin Shaibu to fall back on. Vast though it is, could Matthew Benham be firing up his cryptic clue generator to welcome a replacement in the coming weeks? Or is Justin ready to be chucked in at the deep end? No doubt more will become clear over the coming two months.

Ok. We don’t normally do politics on these pages but today marks a rare diversion. Of sorts. There are some things you don’t do at football. Listen to the England Supporters Band. Wear a half and half scarf. Any musical instrument ( I don’t class ‘that band’ as music) – whether drums, the Vuvuzela or even Mr. Portsmouth and his clanging school bell.

But probably the most heinous footballing faux pas is the Mexican Wave. The lemming like entertainment for the simple minded. What better way of saying the game is going nowhere than this most moribund act of crowd participation. What’s wrong with just getting behind your team and singing a song, for crying out loud?

Then last night, during the France – England game in Paris, Theresa May took the already cringeworthy to a new level of awful. In a move that would have made your dad dancing at a wedding look like John Travolta, she got her timing so wrong (not for the first time this week) as to leave her the laughing stock of the country (not for the first time this week).

Brentford fan and comedian Nathan Caton was amongst those to nail it on Twitter, noting : Surprise, surprise… Theresa May out of sync with the general public.

As did fellow kit enthusiast and e-book author Luis Adriano, whose observation was very much on point.

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And I can’t top that, so instead it’s simply time for the plugging of the season review e-book. Please. Stay with me – this time around it is for a great cause. All funds raised are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales form the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up, here. It’s all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it.

So why not do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the commute to work, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at work? You might even enjoy it !

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

HUGE thanks to everyone who has downloaded it so far.

Nick Bruzon

The voting may have closed (for now) but you can still join in

11 Jul

What can you say? Brentford are on tour and normal service has resumed. Whilst the eyes of the world may have been focussed on Cristiano Ronaldo’s tears as Portugal upset France to win Euro2016, over in Germany it was tears of pain and laughter as the annual singing contest for new players and staff got underway. Peter Gilham has published his latest diary although I note that this season it has been rebranded as a blog (don’t sink this low, Peter 😉 ). And we have the latest entrants into the photo caption competition that’s not a competition but just a bit of fun.

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The annual singing competition is back – judging sure to be tough

First up, singing. Actually, first up, hats off to Brentford ‘official’. Yes, you DID read that correctly. I make no secret of some previous observations but, likewise, full credit must be paid where it is due. And , I have to say, coverage of the training camp has been nothing short of excellent. The photographs, the updates, the videos, the use of social media and , of course, the ever popular tour diary/blog.

At a time when it might be trickier than normal to keep fans engaged, quite the opposite has been done. For me, the highlight has been the singing videos – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley pushing it up to 11 on the performance stakes.

Dan Bentley takes it to the next level

John Egan and Romaine Sawyers deserve full credit for effort, although its fair to say that Romaine is no Rachel Stevens. The again, who is? Results for the current round have just finished with Dan’s performance in the pool making him a runaway success  and exempt from any future performance.

Not such good news for Romaine and John who, alongside Jan Holldack,  get to ‘go again’.  Given fans have already been afforded the chance to participate in that first round of voting, can we expect more?

Certainly, the close out to the videos suggests so as it advises : “The four worst, as voted by the players, STAFF and YOU go through to the next round. The two with the most retweets and player votes are saved….!

As ever, #GermanyBees looks like the place to stay in touch with the action.

And finally, I must thank all those who have taken the time to come up with entries to the Last Word photo competition that’s not an actual competition, just a bit of fun. If you fancy having a go then just post a comment. We’ll keep this running for one more day but a selection of the (printable) entries received so far are below….

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More great work c/o ‘The official’ Brentford social media feed

 

Chris Whittart : Did you see the tweet from Sam Saunders ? Winner, end of, game over

Paul Deller: Not only did I have a tenner on Griezmann first goal, I done France half time full time

Terrace Wag: When someone asked about transfer policy……

David Carney: Apparently QPR and Fulham are almost certain favourites for relegation…

Danny Billy Baynham: So do you follow this stats lark lads ?

Dave Hall : My mate down the pub said “Fulham are going up’’.

Jim Myers : And you’re telling me Fulham could have signed Griezmann ?

Last Word: I even saw one guess that we’ll be playing in red and white stripes next season.

Nick Bruzon

Roy, walker. Iceland beat abject England. Glenn beats the fans

28 Jun

I’m not nervous. I think we’ll beat them quite easily”. Not my words but those of ITV pundit Lee Dixon before kick off as England took on Iceland last night. Ploughing straight into the book of Glenn Hoddle level punditry he set the scene for what many feared, but few actually believed, might happen. And then it did.

First things first. Well played Iceland. They won and deservedly so. Two well taken goals to England’s one, early, penalty as Roy’s boys fell apart.

We’ve all seen it. You don’t need any form of match report from me. You don’t need any form of analysis as to just how bad things were. How, mediocre England looked throughout the evening and, if we’re being honest, the tournament . A simple inability to pass the ball , shoot on target or break down a resolute defence. A simple inability for our goalkeeper to stop making basic, game changing, errors (not for this first time in Euro 2016). Hey, at least he can handle the pressure of having a flake free scalp.

Delle Alli? Ali from Oz cabs would have done a better job out there (kids, ask your dads) but to single out one person would be unfair. England were just dreadful all round. Parped on by ‘that band’, sounding worse than ever, it was a truly miserable experience. The second half especially.

Iceland wanted it. England assumed they had a god given right to qualify. And that doesn’t win football matches. The final kick in the teeth being Roy reading out his pre-prepared statement to the press just after the game. How did he write it so quickly? Surely he hadn’t written it beforehand? Surely? Why didn’t he take ANY questions afterwards? The least he could do was try to offer some explanation. To give some form of cathartic relief.

But no, in he came, out came the paper, off he walked – resignation shared with the nation. If only there was some form of topical parallel we could draw upon here.

And then there was Glenn Hoddle. The co-commentator has been roundly panned this tournament but it was almost as though he knew Iceland were going to win and, if England were going down, he was taking us with them.

At 1-0 up he endorsed playing it across the back. That worked well. This from the man who declared : Iceland are still stuck in the 80s.

In the second half he noted about the defence  : “There’s always been a suspicion that it has been the weak suit”. Well d’uh.

Late on, despite the clear inability of England to hit a barn door with a banjo he opined how, “We might get a goal from a tap in”.

Seriously? Was he watching the same game? I might win the national lottery, but its not going to happen.

I could go on. It was 90 minutes of non-stop drivel, mirroring what happened on pitch. The crowning glory being his observation that , “They’re little things but they’re big things when it comes to things in the 18 yard box”.

What does that even mean? The sad thing is that , with Roy having walked, the bookies have him at 20-1 to be next England manager. Surely just a comedy bet?

There’s a few days for us all to catch our breath. The quarter final line up is now complete  – Italy being the day’s other winners  – and it looks like a good one.

What a shame England won’t be there but Glenn and co will. Although, on the showing, four our own safety perhaps it’s best things ended there.

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The quarters are intriguing. No England though

Nick Bruzon

Green cards and the last 16. What a day as fixtures revealed

23 Jun

That was fun! Brentford finally found out when we’ll play the likes of Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United on the same day that EURO 2016 went bonkers. In the best posible way. Ireland recorded a wonderful 1-0 win over Italy whilst Iceland continued their incredible journey and Hungary topped Group F. Cristiano? Hello, Cristiano…? Hello??

First up, the Euros. Iceland recorded a stunning last minute win over Austria that saw them leapfrog Portugal and take second place in their group. With it, comes a last 16 tie against England on Monday evening.

The Icelandic commentator, it would be fair to say, very much enjoyed the moment. There can’t be many who have yet to hear the winning goal but, in case not, here it is. Mark Burridge, eat your heart out….

Burridgegasmsonn?

The rest of the results saw the third place teams take order. Northern Ireland will face Wales on Saturday whilst Ireland’s reward for a 1-0 win over Italy will be the chance to take on hosts, France. Cue the inevitable, and understandable, Thierry Henry ‘handball’ references. Moreso, with the French pundit already lined up for that one.

It really was a wonderful moment for the Irish, despite Sam Matterface being the latest victim of the bug in the ITV water. Even with Glenn being kept on the pundits’ sofa for this one, it didn’t stop the normally reliable Sam coming out with comments that bordered dangerously on the Hoddlesque.

On Shane Long, “He may play for Southampton but he is no Saint” was the pick of the first half. This was later followed by the description of Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne as “Five foot four. He’s the same height as Victoria Beckham.”

Wow. It was a reference that was tenuous at best and, surely, was only used to win some secret ITV betting pool. I can only imagine Glenn Hoddle cringing in the studio as his use of “I think that’s a tactical move” to describe a substitution from England – Slovakia slipped to second place in the pecking order.

Whatever the explanation, we’re got more of the same on Monday night. England – Iceland is on ITV, folks. Cue wall to wall adverts for a certain frozen food store along with the inevitable defrosting of Kerry Catatonia and Peter Andre for some rush released adverts.

As for domestic matters, Brentford now know what we have in store and, it would be fair to say, the footballing gods have mostly smiled on us. Proceedings begin at a Huddersfield Town side that we put 9 goals past in two games last season. Scott Hogan must be licking his lips already.

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Scott Hogan – after 18 months out, ran defences ragged

Newcastle United away is on a Saturday although the trip to Villa Park is an early Tuesday evening. Boxing Day, Cardiff City, is at home whilst the season ends with QPR (H), Fulham (A) before concluding at Griffin Park against Blackburn.

We’ve all got our favourites.  We’ve all got those dates that have already been pencilled into the diary as ‘immovable’ (until Sky move them). We all know which games we are already missing due to pre-arranged ‘plans’.

In a wonderful display of symmetry, we welcome Ipswich Town for our opening home game of the campaign. I’m sure, Jonathan Douglas especially, will receive a warm welcome after last season. How is the foot now, Jota?

Green cards are being applied for and the diary filled in. With EURO2016 now through what has, if we are being honest, felt like a somewhat protracted group stage, the excitement level feels as though it has cranked up exponentially.

Roll on the weekend when it all continues.

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Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

Nick Bruzon  

And finally…. :  With Brentford now set to ‘go again’  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, re-live a stunning few seasons  of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.

Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Good news for the Bees? Are Newcastle this season’s Leeds? And ‘Big Jim’ is at it again

22 Jun

Finally. Today’s the day. The Championship fixtures are announced at 9am. Us Brentford fans find out when we resume hostilities with the likes of the Loftus Road mob or Fulham aswell as undertaking journeys to league pastures new(ish) such as Aston Villa, Burton Albion and Newcastle United. And over in the Euros, those bemoaning the England team can, perhaps, take a little more comfort after seeing Spain come unstuck.

First up though, the fixtures. If these were commentated on (and knowing how Sky Sports News works, nothing would surprise me) I’d expect the line , “For those of you just getting in to work” to be trotted out as these are revealed.

Key dates, as ever, remain first home and away games, both local derbies, the season denouement and whether a Christmas visit from the in-laws will, at least, be tempered by knowing we can escape down the road on Boxing day.

I’ve seen a lot of talk on social media getting excited about the likes of the aforementioned Newcastle, Aston Villa and Burton. Not surprisingly, given league encounters against those three are rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal. We did, at least, play the Magpies back in 92/93, although 1-2 and 5-1 defeats represented a poor haul against the eventual Division 1 (this was pre Championship) winners.

For me, though, Fulham will be the first name to look out for. Having taken 10 points and 11 goals from them in the four games since our return to the Championship, the chance to continue that run is one which only excites. Stuart Dallas, Jota in the last minute(s), Sam Saunders and an unexpected home debut for Tom Field are just a few of the memories that spring to mind. Here’s to creating a few more.

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I can’t wait for the chance to do this again

Roll on 9am when we can start planning the next season and seeing if those dates we’ve already been obliged to mark in the calendar as busy (who gets married between August and May?) are going to see a bullet dodged or backfire massively.

At least, on the planning front, we’ll be offered a small helping hand. Sky have confirmed that aswell as the fixtures they “will confirm details of our first three televised matches alongside the main fixtures announcement”. The ongoing carve up of the fixture list in the name of TV coverage has been a source of frustration for many, albeit an understandable one given their contract to cover live games. Hopefully this does mean we can start to plan the first couple of away trips without fear of having to rebook train tickets.

Besides, the Bees shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just as we are looking forward to visiting Villa Park, Carrow Road et al, I’m sure the Sky producers have similar, audience grabbing, aspirations. Don’t expect Brentford to feature ‘on the road’ for a while. I can see Newcastle United becoming last season’s Leeds United with a TV game every five minutes or so.

Over in France, meanwhile, the Euros continued with Croatia beating many people’s favourites, Spain. Thanks, largely, to goalkeeper Danijel Subasic rewriting the penalty law and being about three yards forward when he saved Sergi Ramos’ spot kick with the scores locked at 1-1 late on.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, also reached the last 16 despite losing 1-0 to Germany and their talismanic striker yet to kick a ball in anger. Will Grigg’s on the bench, rather than on fire. And, just as after their 2-0 win over Ukraine where we treated to ‘that dance, Charlie Lawson (TV’s Jim McDonald) was in celebratory mood, enjoying a large Black Bush and delivering a hushed soliloquy to camera from what appeared to be a farmhouse kitchen.

To see such passion and support is a beautiful thing. I love it. Who knows what Charlie will do should they reach the last 8? It’ll be fun finding out though, so it will.

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How about you there, Northern Ireland

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  With Brentford almost set to ‘go again’  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, re-live a stunning few seasons  of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.

Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Can Greg, the FA and football figures follow PSV?

19 Jun

Not much to say today. Indeed, I wasn’t even going to bother until this crossed my desk. We’ve probably all had our fill of the non-football stories from the Euros.  England fans are being provoked – England fans have a minority of morons amongst 30,00 well behaved fans; Wales fans were brilliant – Wales fans were anti-England; French ultras and Russian thugs have been ruining the party for everyone . Likewise, the media circus following the throng and looking to magnify any incident out of all proportion.

Talking yesterday to an England supporter who had just returned to Brentford, the verdict was one of : there had been incidents, but they were easy enough to avoid and just enjoy the party if you wanted to.

All well and good. Unless you were there without an agenda, few will be in a position to make a full judgement about the relative innocence/guilt of the respective sets of supporters.

And I don’t want to. I’ve had enough of it. Moreso, the refugee baiting that has gone on. This wasn’t provocation from gum shield sporting ultras, self-defence from flying tables or just old-fashioned drunken fisticuffs. It marks, in however limited a form, a somewhat sickening style of behaviour spreading around the European football scene.

Call it bullying, racism, intolerance or whatever. Taunting refugee children with coins or making seven year olds down beer or smoke cigarettes for money and ‘comic effect’ (amongst just some of the awful things we’ve seen) is just wrong. Very wrong. And indefensible. Regardless of your thoughts about the political situation is this anyway to behave or represent your club/country?

And what should the club / country do about it? If they even care?

Well, PSV Eindhoven had a similar challenge prior to their Champions League game against Atlético Madrid in March. Their fans were roundly vilified for throwing coins and mocking the homeless in an act subsequently termed – Poverty as a spectacle.

Fairplay to the club for, at least, issuing a statement vowing to track down those responsible. Unless I’ve missed it, the FA have done nothing since the recently published footage of England supporters engaging in similar acts.

Greg Dyke – if you are reading (unlikely), how about it? Will you say anything ? Even just signing the petition that has sprung up ?

Or will everybody just stick their head in the sand and pretend nothing has happened? Hey, perhaps we all just imagined it.

Anyway. That’s me done.

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Nick Bruzon

As the EURO winners show, what would be our Phoenix From The Flames ?

18 Jun

With EURO2016 now fully underway, Friday’s games saw Spain crank things up a notch and Croatia lose it – on and off the pitch. With much of what involves the England fans dividing opinion and generating some very contrasting views from those ‘on the ground’, there was no doubting what we saw on our TV screens yesterday. Plus, in an effort to blow away the current glut of Griffin Park tumbleweed, we have Brentford thoughts, updates and pictures.

First up, Croatia. 2-0 up and cruising against the Czech Republic, not only did they throw it away to be held 2-2 but their ‘fans’ have, surely, lined them up as the next nation to be given a suspended disqualification alongside Russia. This, after a shower of flares and firecrackers descended onto the pitch from the Croatian end as the game reached it’s denouement.

Combined with fighting amongst their own fans, they were ugly scenes that also saw one steward lucky to escape injury as a device went off in his face. Slaven Bilic, talking as part of the ITV panel for the Spain game, attempted to quantify it with the observation that “There are many fans who are against the FA”. That these are protests against a perceived Zagreb bias in Croatian football.

I can’t comment either way on that. My knowledge of the wider problems in European football extends about as far as when Gibraltar’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Belgium is going to take place. But what I can say is that, like the flare launched at England fans during the Russia game, one can only wonder again how security – with France on its highest state of alert – is working? Moreso, just what can UEFA do, if anything, to stop what should have been a wonderful tournament (and still can be) turning into one which will as much be remembered for all the wrong reasons?

As for Spain, a second clean sheet and three goals against Turkey saw them step up an ominous gear. Wth many people’s favourites France leaving it late to record their second victory, the Spaniards by contrast made their six points look simple. After 61% possession, 707 passes and 18 shots (although with goals to match those stats)  they’re already in to 10/3. Forget patriotism – grab that price whilst you can.

Just one other observation on the Spain game, which comes courtesy of Jamie Lovell (@jtlovell1979 ) on Twitter. I can’t take the credit for this but he put into words, wonderfully, the exasperation many of us were suffering from at the hands (or voice) of co-commentator Tony Pulis.

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For me, Clive

Look positive Jamie, at least it wasn’t Glenn Hoddle

Ok, back home and Brentford. I took a stroll past Griffin Park yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to stick my head over the wall. I have to say the pitch is looking wonderful already.

Granted, the club took the steps to dig it up as soon as we’d played our last ‘home’ game ( if I recall, some sort of thrashing administered to Fulham, wasn’t it?). That, following the pitch-gate shocker at the start of the season.

But, you have to say, credit for what seems to be a job well done already. Here’s to seeing how the Bees perform on it when Championship action recommences in August.

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The pitch is looking luxuriant

And when it does, Brentford will find themselves joint 7th (seventh) favourites for the title. Checking my online bookmaker for research purposes this morning, this odds are now up and we’re priced 20/1.

Somewhat stingy for a team who, by our own head coach’s admission, were in a relegation scrap as recently as March? Or easy money for a team who have rediscovered the way to goal via Scott Hogan and those signings who have now ‘bedded in’ to the side? Either way, this is how the bookies see the Championship at present.

And finally, Euro ’96. Kind of. With the football in everybody’s faces at the moment, even the radio is getting in on the act. You can’t move on Absolute Radio at present for World in Motion or Three Lions. Which is no bad thing.

The latter, especially, bringing back all sorts of memories. And not just about how terrifyingly bad David Baddiel was at singing. Seriously, that was the best take?

But talk on the subject amongst some of my Brentford supporting friends led from there to the TV show from which it sprang, Fantasy Football League (of course, co-hosted by Frank Skinner). In particular, the ‘Phoenix From The Flames’ segment in which a famous moment from footballing days gone by would be recreated on a council pitch, featuring the original protagonists.

Specifically, conversation got onto the topic of which Brentford moment would we recreate? Perhaps with the wonderful Sean Ridley and Jo Tilley in the Baddiel and Skinner roles ?

That penalty’ is perhaps too obvious Besides, having not really been discussed in the media after the event, people might not remember. Other topics for consideration included:

Mike Grella destroying Bournemouth; Jota v Fulham; Paul Hayes and Will Grigg being less than on fire when taking home debut penalties; promotion v Preston; Gary Blissett knocking Manchester City out of the FA cup and inciting a banana wielding pitch invader; DJ Campbell giving Gary Breen nightmares.

In the end, though, we settled on cup action. Against Everton. Richard Lee’s penalty saves were the highlight for many but, equally, the pre-game footage of the respective club mascots still gets a watch every now and then.

Whilst the respective kids must be close to teenagers now, that would almost add to the recreation. That said, I’m not sure if we could afford Leighton Baines’ appearance fee.

Could this be recreated, Phoenix style?

Until then, here’s to a weekend of six games and, hopefully, some more magical moments.

Nick Bruzon

Who has the best kit at EURO 2016 as Jonathan Pearce misses an open goal.

14 Jun

With the memory of the England – Russia game and all those appalling scenes that went with it moving further away from us, last night it was the turn of Belgium and Italy to do (footballing) battle. There was a glorious opportunity for Jonathan Pearce in the earlier game featuring Ireland and Sweden whilst Brentford devotees Dave Lane and Billy Grant (of course, the boys from Beesotted) have continued spreading the word about events in Marseille.

First up though, Jonathan Pearce who was at the helm when Ireland kicked off their campaign. I had special interest in this game, and moreso because I was going to be on a commuter train rather than sat in front of the TV. This would be the first chance for use of that commentating staple from tournaments, “And for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…”

You never hear this line at any other time except during a World Cup or European Championships. Despite it being clear for all to see in the top left corner, expect it to come out somewhere between 6.10pm and 6.20pm.

Except no. Not Jonathan. Maybe it was a reaction to being saddled with Mark Lawrenson. Perhaps he was distracted by what sounds like an incredible anecdote about a mirror. Talking about the World Cup in 1994, my sources tell that he explained to viewers how,  “I was speaking to someone and I went back a year later to the same place and realised it was a mirror.”

Seriously? Anyone? The only thing more bizarre being the reaction of Lawro who, rather than pick up the commentator on the lunacy of what he had just said, dead panned back “Was it a big mirror?

To be fair, judging by his normal look, you can understand the co-commentator being unfamiliar with the purpose of a mirror. Either way, an open goal, missed. ITV have the baton now. Austria – Hungary is the game at 5pm.

Next up, Beesotted. We mentioned them in yesterday’s article but their great work continues. Us Brentford supporters know what they can do but their influence has now spread wider. Billy Grant appeared on BBC Radio 5 live last night to talk about what he had seen in Marseille whilst Dave has produced their latest blog.

Whilst these pages are, largely, nonsense and fun, based out amongst the footballing action in France Beesotted are cutting straight to the heart of the matter. PLEASE do take a look at what they have to say for a much more balanced view on events than some of the media would have you believe. That blog, including links to the podcast, went up yesterday.

OK, kit. Last night’s Belgium game drew as many gasps of admiration for the Belgium shirt as it did for the two Italian goals. (I’m still in shock by the quality of the pass and subsequent control for their opener. Oh, wow).

But it got me thinking, what are the best kits EURO 2016 has to offer? So here, in no more scientific order than personal preference, are my top eight. And the worst.

8: Ukraine home. Almost tartan yellow. They’d argue it is plaid. Either way an understated niceness.

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7(seven): Iceland away. Not just the style but anything that looks like the kit worn in ‘Escape to victory’ can only be a good thing.

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6: Wales home. A classical elegance, as one Ealing Road wag noted last night.

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5: Germany home. A very 70’s look for the current World Champions

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4: Spain away. So bonkers it’s brilliant.

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3: Switzerland away. It’s all a bit France ’84

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2: Belgium home. Would have been number one but the yellow is just a touch too neon. Still a thing of beauty though

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1: Belgium away. Is that Eddie Merckx? Kitman Bob, are you reading (it is made by adidas)? This is just sumptuous.

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And the worst….

Russia away. Looking like somebody has taken a giant sneeze on it when viewed from a distance of more than five yards away, I can’t help but feel they are massively overcompensating for something with that oversized national emblem printed into the design.

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Nick Bruzon

Plug time :  As for Brentford news, well the tumbleweed continues. The most I can do is guide you towards eBay where there are a number of unusual Bees shirts on sale at the moment (and none of which this kit nerd will be bidding for – season tickets don’t pay for themselves).

Alternatively,The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.