Tag Archives: France

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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The jewels remain still gleaming, for now. Which England will we get? Which Billy will we get?

11 Jul

Could today be THE big one? The one we’ve all been waiting for? And for clarity, I don’t mean if we find out whether the Birmingham City transfer embargo story is confirmed. Likewise, what the next instalment of Peter Gilhams’s Brentford tour diary contains (the most recent edition is up, here). Of course, there’s nothing but talk of the World Cup and whether England can reach a first final since West Ham fans claim to have won the tournament back in 1966. In their way, Croatia. Already there, a France team who played out a quite thrilling semi-final with Belgium last night before running out 1-0 winners.

This is going to be something very special. Pub tables are booked and plans made for the evening. It’s 6.30am and already I’m hearing nothing but football as the lead story on the radio whilst the music is being interspersed with snippets of commentary. Roll With It – Jonathan Pearce remix? If you were listening to Matt Dyson and Dave Berry on Absolute radio early doors then that’s what you got. The phrase ‘Football’s coming home’ is everywhere. But will it? 

Well, whatever happens , let’s not forget Croatia have just as much right to be there as England. Will believe they have just as great an opportunity of taking on France in the final. If nothing else, they deserve huge praise just for having the balls to pose for ‘that’ page in the Panini sticker book. Presumably, the result of having lost some form of bet. Please, tell me this is the result of having lost some form of bet….  

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Croatia – first class action in the sticker book.

Then there’s the so-called ‘Curse of ITV’. With England having recorded only a second ever ‘Light channel’ World Cup win since 1998 following victory over Colombia in the second round, is that jinx broken? Or could the spectre of Glenn Hoddle still lean over Gareth Southgate’s team like some nonsense spouting harbinger of doom?

No chance. England are too strong. The mood too positive. The ‘lucky’ table in the pub already secured. England reaching the final is as likely as Billy The Bee appearing in front of a TV camera at some point during tonight’s proceedings. Hopefully face set to ‘ecstatic grin’ rather than’ groan of despair.’  One can’t knock his enthusiasm and passion for both football and England. His magnetic attraction to TV cameras. Those facial gymnastics are an incredible thing – does he have to practice in the bathroom mirror?

In all seriousness, how great to see a familiar Brentford face out there so often. Spreading good cheer and positivity. Helping us tick off our World Cup bingo cards each game. With Denmark’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford having finally departed the tournament after his own magnificent run, great work Billy on keeping us in the public eye.

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Which Billy will we get tonight?

Yet getting back to tonight’s game, the positivity aside will fatigue play a part in England’s favour? Whether physical or mental? Croatia have seen their last two games go all the way to extra time and then penalties. Whilst the prize at stake is a huge one, could they already be on the back foot? The margins between winning and losing are going to be infinitesimally small tonight and this may be one factor to England’s advantage.

Then again, we all expected Saturday against Sweden to be cagey yet once Harry Maguire opened the scoring the game really was one-way traffic. Even when the opposition did get in on goal, there was Jordan Pickford to keep them at bay.

I guess that all this goes to say is whilst I’m backing England, ultimately nobody can make an accurate prediction. In a tournament that has seen the likes of Germany and Argentina humbled, Spain go down in the second round and Brazil in the quarters – take nothing for granted. No one team has a divine right to win it. No one team can guarantee getting there. Obvious, perhaps, but this really is wide open. Whomever doesn’t lift that trophy will never have had a better chance to do so,  

For now, the jewels remain still gleaming. As somebody almost sang. England are alive. But so are France and Croatia. The only thing you can say for sure is that at the end of the day (Clive), a tournament that has done nothing but captivate and surprise is sure to still have a few tricks up her sleeve. And I cannot wait to find out what they are.

Roll on 7(seven) pm.

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

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.

Bees X Factor

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.