Tag Archives: friendly

A fine win despite key absences and is that an incoming player?

8 Aug

Brentford completed pre-season with a 2-1 defeat of Valencia which saw the Bees go from strength to strength as the game progressed. Despite no Ivan Toney in the squad (conspiracy theories ranging from injury to sale – Tottenham, Aston Villa, anyone? doing the rounds), the arrival of Frank Onyeka from the bench and, seemingly, Yoane Wissa from L’Orient left us with the prospect of even better to come. A day which started so sadly, with news of Bees legend Robbie Cooke passing away at the age of just 64, ended with spirits high and Arsenal next up. You know, in the Premier League.

A winning goal celebrated at Lionel Road

Where to start? A crowd of over 10,000 (not bad for a warm up match) saw Brentford grow in stature over the course of a game in which VAR once again got in the way of proceedings. A goal for Marcus Forss was chalked off within five minutes after we’d all celebrated, prompting much frustration from both the crowd and Peter Gilham on the p.a.

VAR 1 Players 0’ he announced at one point, amongst other choice first half utterings. That tangle with the green screen doing nothing to affect his own skills as he would later reel off a list of substitutions for Valencia, concluding with ,”and one other, I think.”

If you’ve got it, use it…..

Instead, it was the Spaniards who took the lead midway through the opening period. Yours truly missing that one after ‘doing a JJ‘. Urgh. The summary from H and Mrs B being that “they pretty much walked it in”. Yet a goal down at half time soon turned into a rejuvenated Bees XI in the second period. Thanks largely, to that man Onyeka. My word, he looks immense. Dominating the midfield in place of Samman Ghoddos and from that moment on there was only going to be one winner. 

VAR getting in the way to deny what appeared, from where we sat, a clear penalty. Two incidents today and, of course, the Ivan Toney ‘equaliser’ in the League cup semi-final at Tottenham have meant our introduction to the much maligned system has been a less than happy one. Here’s hoping we’ve got the harsh calls out of the way early. Thankfully, in the end, it all proved irrelevant.

Biblical torrents in the second half doing nothing to stop the Bees . Instead, we weathered the storm and took the game to our opponents in some style. Ethan Pinnock got the first, heading home a corner from Sergi Canos. The Valencia ‘keeper given no hope as the big man did his dead ball thing once again. Perfect delivery. Perfect timing. Perfect finish. 1-1 and game on.

Within a few minutes we had the lead. Frank Onyeka with a low finish from the edge of the box to give us the lead after Rico’s cross had caused panic in the box. It was a beautiful finish which, combined with his overall performance (see also: West Ham) suggests the Brentford DOFs have done it again.

Celebrate good times, come on !!!! (‘official’ capturing the mood on Twitter)

It finished 2-1 and could have been more. Whilst friendlies don’t count for huge amounts, I’d rather be winning them and playing well than going home on the wrong end of a reverse. Brentford very much did the former. Onyeka aside, Rico looked strong as did Kris Ajer as part of a three man central defence. His ball carrying skills in particular giving the Bees another route forward. 

There was as much talk about those not selected though. Aswell as Tariqe Fosu and Shandon Baptiste, the absence of Ivan Toney had tongues wagging. Injured? Signing for Spurs to replace the outward bound Harry Kane? Resting? Presumably nothing more than the later with the talismanic front man the absolute first name on the team sheet for Arsenal on Friday. Thomas Frank taking the opportunity for one, last look at alternative systems and players as well as, perhaps, playing a few mind games. “A very minor injury” according to the BT Sport commentary team, apparently.

The other notable absentees being Buzz and Buzzette. That’s it. Pre-season done and no sighting of our iconic mascots. What’s the story, ‘official’? Where are they? Corona can’t be an excuse with those furry suits being about as self-isolating as it is possible to be, a deep sea diver’s get up aside. There’s going to be outrage on Friday night if they remain missing. 

One unexpected sighting was that of Yoane Wissa, if the pictures are to be believed. The player seemingly having signed for the Bees if you believe the GPG. As reliable a source as one could find these days with Jackson Grout on Twitter having the right seat at the right time to snap this one.

Yet on a day which saw a parade of legends prior to kick off, there was one notable absence. That of Robbie Cooke whose passing had been announced earlier in the day. The player, an absolute hero in his time at Brentford with the goal at Wembley in the 1985 Freight Rover Trophy being up there amongst his most fondly remembered moments. 64 is way, way too early and a really sad way to start the day for so many Bees fans, for whom it seems like only five minutes ago Robbie was doing his thing at Griffin Park.   

Instead, there were fond memories and dignified announcements from Peter, a man who has been such a longstanding part of the club and seen all our modern day heroes. Not to mention a few more. With Arsenal here in a few days time, now is the time to dream about who can add themselves to that list. I can’t wait to find out.

Roll on Friday. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

People. Don’t do nothing today.

7 Aug

Matchday. Brentford v Valencia. 9.15 am and the weather is still tipping it down in TW8. Who cares? We’ve got another chance to go to our new home. The formal opening with all sorts of pre-match stuff promised. Another chance to test the pies, have a pint and, of course, see some football. I still haven’t got over the corona enforced absence. I’ll never take for granted again the simple pleasure of being able to watch a game. Even though we’re only 6 days away from the big kick off against Arsenal, life currently feels like something in which any, and every, opportunity must be grabbed. So we’ll be there. The usual prematch drinks followed by a stroll up to Lionel Road. Our new home still within spitting distance of Griffin Park. Indeed, the reverse of the journey we used to take when  – and if Gerhard is reading, please look away now –  on occasion, we fancied mixing it up and taking pre-match at The Express Tavern. Those salt-beef laden burgers weren’t going to eat themselves. Now, that’s nothing but a distant memory with customers piled floor to ceiling in the closest watering hole to our new ground and The Griffin very much the destination of choice on matchday. 

About as short as journey as we could have hoped for from old to new

What else to expect today? Aside from channelling our inner Steve McClaren if the deluge continues? One, final clue as to who Thomas will be starting with against Arsenal on Friday? Three centre backs? Rico Henry tearing it up down the flanks once more? Baptiste and (all being well) Onyeka pulling the midfield strings? Perhaps we’ll get a look at Kris Ajer?

Prior to all of that, we’ve all manner of pre-match stuff in the hour leading up to kickoff with the formal opening of Lionel Road due to take place at 4.30pm. All being well there’ll be the sight of Cliff Crown brandishing a pair of ceremonial scissors (not a phrase that can have been used often) or, better still, Buzz and Buzzette performing the honours. At the very least, lurking in the periphery. 

Our anthropomorphic furry friends were still absent for the West Ham game and concerns for their safety are now becoming very real. Quite frankly, if it gets to next week and we’re deprived the sight of Arsenal running out alongside Buzzette pulling her much lauded funky-dance moves I’ll be ripping up my season ticket in disgust. I mean, assuming it has been delivered. The latest comms from ‘official’ suggesting these should start to land on our doormats in the next day or so. *

Elsewhere, we’ve also got both the on pitch return of the Kurupt FM crew (somebody, please make sure the chief exec’s office remains locked.) aswell as Martin Allen. There’s also the chance to pick up the new look matchday programme. Print deadlines feel a lot more forgiving than over lockdown, which is great news, as is more cover art from Dave Flanagan. Insert swoon emoji. Plus we’ve got Greville Waterman talking about Jota and another piece from my favourite of all contributors, Big Ben Burgess.

Come for the cover. Stay for Jota and BBB

For now, nothing to do except kick back for a few hours. A lazy pub lunch and a stroll up to Lionel Road. Football has been absent from our lives for far too long and I’m not going to let a bit of water get in the way. Tickets remain available this morning should you want to join us. 

Bring it on and see you there. Until then, here’s hoping Jon Varney is polishing up his script…

*Please note: I reserve the right not to rip up my season ticket

Nick Bruzon 

Time for more football acting? One can only hope.

5 Aug

I’ve got to be honest, this column hasn’t gone in the intended direction. Thursday morning, 6.30am and that first line has just been written last. We were going to focus on last night’s TV coverage but then I caught up with ‘official’ and the news that we are gong to be welcoming back some old friends. Oh well, here goes.. Should we be excited or worried? Brentford host Valencia on Saturday evening, our final warm up game before Arsenal visit next Friday in the Premier League, and it seems we will have special guests present. Not just the living legend that is Martin Allen but People Just Do Nothing stars Kurupt FM who will be performing live before the game. Elsewhere, did you catch the feature on the Bees last night? Both BT Sport and Sky Sports running a half-hour documentary on Brentford, our history and how we reached the top flight. Club historian Rob Jex leading the charge in a fascinating look at the club that will, hopefully, be repeated as often as Yours Truly’s ill-fated appearance on Bargain Hunt. Albeit for totally different reasons. One was absolute quality. The other was Mrs Bruzon and myself arguing over antiques.

An hour long show distilled into five seconds

First up, Valencia. The programme article(s) have been written and the tickets gone on sale. We’ve little over 48 hours until kick off and I can’t wait. A chance to see Brentford in action once more and the possibility we may even get a look at Kris Ajer. All being well Thomas Onyeka is healthy following the injury he appeared to suffer in the game with West Ham last Saturday but the rest is up to Thomas. We’ve seen plenty in action so far, with Shandon Baptiste amongst those to really stake a claim for a starting berth against Arsenal following his performances up at Old Trafford and then last weekend. 

To be fair, you could say the same about pretty much the entire squad. We’ve looked solid and, whilst friendlies should always be taken with a huge pinch of salt, it’s surely better to be playing well than badly. Besides, confidence should be sky high. We‘ve won the play-offs and achieved a life’s dream – reaching the top flight. We’ve bought a few players (with word on the street suggesting two more are incoming) whilst, incredibly, there’s nobody really being linked with the out door. Rico Henry returned in style and, as it stands, supporters are still allowed to attend games with corona virus restrictions a thing of the past. Just a sexy third kit and healthy fitness report about Josh Dasilva needed for a full house.

Optimism is understandably high. It was coursing through the veins when the aforementioned documentary was filmed last month and nothing has changed since to change that view. Instead, we’re just 8 days away from hosting Arsenal in a league fixture. This, followed by home games against Brighton, Liverpool and then European Champions Chelsea. It’s nuts. There’s just nothing to be down about. Only excitement and anticipation ahead. The stresses of last season from certain quarters nothing but a distant memory. The abiding image that of Peter Gilham raising the play-off trophy above his head in the Wembley sunshine. With the added bonus being he even stayed on his feet. 

I’ve missed football dreadfully. Watching on TV just isn’t the same. Moreso when we were rattling around an empty stadium. Now, that’s done. We’re back. We’re  allowed in. We can even get a pie and a pint at the game. Valencia presents another excuse, as if one were needed, to get back inside Lionel Road and see the team in action. See old friends and familiar faces. Of getting a first look at jumper man (who will, presumably, be sporting summer fatigues).  

There’s also the visit of Kurupt FM. On the one hand, promoting their new film ‘Big in Japan’. On the other, seeing if they can engage in another masterclass with our chief exec. Inside the actors studio, it wasn’t. “The Varney/Kurupt FM cringe off” , as one North stand observer described it at the time.

It was one of those ‘so bad it’s amazing moments’ . So toe curling you needed a pair of Genie’s slippers yet, at the same time it was utterly, utterly compelling. Jon Varney playing along in a moment akin to those times a ‘real’ footballer, manager or commentator would put in a cameo on Dream Team. For the record, former Bee Andy Ansah uttering his stock line of “Get warmed up” doesn’t count. We’re thinking more Steve Coppell or Richard Keys attempting to blend in seamlessly and, ordinarily, failing.

What came next was, well…..

In the previous column we spoke about those quite wonderful moments when non-footballers do football type things. For example, and I’m just going off the top of my head, stadium announcers filming goal celebration videos. To that list you can also add Jon Varney doing his Kurupt FM thing. Here’s to round two on Saturday afternoon. You can read about it all on ‘official‘ .

Although, in retrospect, perhaps the Dream Team moment surpasses even that. And not in a good way.

Nick Bruzon

Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

1 Aug

August is upon us. Anything happening this month? Something something something Premier League. Less than two weeks for Brentford to wait until Arsenal come to visit. Exciting times are ahead and, already, under way. Having drawn with Manchester United during the week Saturday saw our first game at Lionel Road since the play-offs. It was the return of Said Benrahama with West Ham United for a pre-season run out that, as much as anything else, gave us a look at new players, old friends and our ‘actual’ seats for when it all starts properly. Of course ‘Corona Virus restrictions (a phrase to top the list of three word horrors) has meant that any entry afforded to our new home so far has been very much in the hands of fate as to where we were positioned. No complaints – even getting in was a privilege but it was an added bonus yesterday seeing how things would be when the season proper kicks off on Friday week.

A new chart topper for 2021

First up, West Ham. The visitors took it 1-0 courtesy of none other than Said Benrahama. It had to be really. The goal was the sort of top draw effort we saw him pull out the bag time and again in Brentford colours. It was a moment of sublime skill and if the hammers had to win, at least it was via spectacular effort that even had the Bees faithful offering respectful applause. Those that weren’t booing him through the game. I get we weren’t going to cheer him after the warm up but booing? Errrrr … Kayla pretty much nailing it on Twitter. Come for the comment, stay for the goal.

See also : the solitary voice constantly calling out 4 game loanee Ryan Fredericks (2012) as a Brentford reject. To do it once could be considered terrace wit. Constantly? Just odd. Still, it wouldn’t be football without a bit of niche reference and, frankly, how good to watch a game with fans present. Even away support who made a vociferous effort in the South-East corner prior to kick off then promptly decided to go all Arsenal i.e. silent.

For Brentford, another game where the opportunity to use the full length of the substitutes bench was taken. Shandon Baptiste impressed again with a jinking (happy, Jim?) run through the Hammers’ defence and a second half shot that came back off the post amongst several highlights. Likewise Frank Onyeka, whose first half performance was littered with impressive touches, runs and passing before injury brought it to a possible early conclusion. Fingers crossed his substitution was nothing more than precautionary. At least he appeared , unlike Kris Ajer who was again absent. Talk on the terrace suggesting that Celtic were delaying his paperwork although how true that is, of course, nothing more than conjecture.

Rico Henry was another welcome return. Pace down the left flank mirroring Mads Roerslev on the right as part of a defence that also included three centre backs. Is this how we’ll go in the Premier league ? Expect more clues on Saturday against Valencia. Regardless, expect Rico to start for sure. Like Josh Dasilva he was much missed in the run in last season and whilst the England U-21 still remains absent, at least we’ve one star name back in the starting XI .

To be fair, though, there was no poor showing. Brentford 2021/22 seem to have hit the ground with a consistently strong start all round. How much of this translates to league football remains to be seen. I tend not to read too much into pre-season showings but as much as anything else, it’s just nice to get back in front of our team. To see old faces aswell as a lot of new ones. To have a beer before and after the game. Even during – given the catering was not up and running at Lionel Road. Fast poor Guinness the way to go along with a lot of spicy offerings on the food front, including that most important of pre-match staples : the chicken balti pie. Even if there didn’t appear to be the more traditional burgers or hot dogs on offer which did seem somewhat of a surprise. Then again, perhaps it was just me being unobservant. Equally, seeing Thomas doing his end of game ‘thumbs up’ felt like things were back to normal.

Full time at Lionel Road

The other major absentees were Buzz and Buzzette. Presumably just waiting for that XXXXX kit to be delivered by Umbro. Who could forget the shameful pensioning off of Gunnersaurus driver Jerry Quy in October? Another victim of the corona virus cull. At the time, chairman Cliff Crown assured us they were safe but, to date, there has been no sighting of our furry friends. Whilst I am sure there is nothing to fear in their protected disappearance, one can only hope they return for Valencia and Arsenal. Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

Initial positivity but further comment definitely still needed

What else to say? Simply put: It was GREAT to be back. Lionel Road is a fantastic place to watch football. It’s not Griffin Park but it IS home. I’ve been lucky enough to make three visits since we were first allowed back for that Blackburn game. I’m enjoying it more and more each time. The anticipation for what it’s like when the place is full is already off the scale. That game with Valencia will be another step closer and then we’re up and running. As much, it was seeing old friends again. Of stopping at The Griffin for a pint or two. Of seeing the play-off final remembered once more. Emiliano may no longer be with us how nice to see Ewan Peleschka still choosing to honour his hero on this season’s shirt. Truly, the hallmark of a champion .

Loyal

Nick Bruzon

Top, top football. Bees hold United in game of netbusters. But elsewhere….

29 Jul

Only time will tell how much, if any, significance can be taken from last night’s 2-2 draw between Manchester United and Brentford at Old Trafford. Below strength Bees only held by the Red Devils or a shock upset in which two strong line ups will both argue they should have won it? As was once said, “You can’t win anything with kids” and whilst the same could have applied there was still enough recognisable talent along with plenty more suggesting strength in depth. On both sides. For me, Clive, an entertaining draw illuminated by four top quality goals. Perhaps, if anything, the other noteable result of the evening – FC Midtjylland dumping (is there any other way to exit early?) Celtic out of the Champions league is one that will have greater significance. Beyond a lot of smiles in the Benham household.

Frank IN.. the Brentford side

An action packed match at Old Trafford in which the hosts dominated the first half, Brentford the second. 1-1 at half time saw Anthony Elanga open the scoring for Manchester United with a quite wonderful turn and first time shot in the box. Raya left unable to do anything beyond marvel at the two tone blue ‘keepers shirt that emerged from nowhere to set the kit nerds into meltdown. Minutes later, it was level with Shandon Baptiste hitting a swerving shot from distance past United goalie Tom Heaton and in off the bar. 

Yet if they were net busters, what came next from Andreas Pereira was goal of the game by a country mile. A clearance from Ethan Pinnock only fell as far as the midfielder who returns it with interest. Boom. My word. What . A. Strike. Credit where it’s due . A volley from hell. Another one to leave Raya floundering through no more reason than the sheer unstopabiltiy of the strike. Wow. Just wow.

With substitutions all round, to the point that the entire Bees outfield contingent swapped over, it was that man Bryan Mbeumo who levelled it up. A trademark run into the box and shot curled past Heaton. 2-2 the score and how it ended. For Brentford, a chance to test ourselves in one of the most famous football arenas the world over. A cracking result and another game unbeaten. The opportunity for fans to get back on the road once more. Even buy a half and half scarf. About as niche as they get but who’d have thought they’d ever see one of these? I’m not sure whether to hang my head or laugh.

Next up West Ham at home on Saturday. A large crowd are expected and this will be just as stern a test. Just as exciting an opportunity. The chance to watch live football en-masse something we’ve missed desperately. If Old Trafford ended up being a midweek step too far on this occasion, you can be sure we’ll be busting out the seas at the weekend.

As for the other result – Midtjylland beating Celtic – Henrik Dalsgaard was on hand to provide the assist for the winning goal. Matthew Bentham’s ‘other’ club progressing to the next round of the Champions’ League. The Glasgow side left to reflect on what might have been, once again. Yet with players from both clubs joining Brentford over the summer – and Frank Onyeka getting his own run out for The Bees last night – the direction of where football power is shifting would seem clear to all. The big question being can we hang on to it. The even bigger question being what the implications are should Brentford join the Danes in qualifying for European football? 

Crazy? Perhaps. But what’s the point of going to football if you can’t dream. In a theatre or otherwise. Until then, very much a case of FrankIN. How nice to watch a game without the keyboard warriors doing their thing. Long may it continue.

Let’s hope we have less of this nonsense in the forthcoming campaign

Nick Bruzon

Looking sharp for the Manchester United game. And beyond..

28 Jul

Fair to say we’re now up to our, err, elbows in pre-season prep for the Premier League. The weekend gone saw queues all the way around the block for the launch of the new Brentford kits (something likened by many to our lining up in the snow when Chelsea FA cup tickets went on sale first time around). There was the behind closed doors friendly defeat of Watford, with Ivan Toney picking up where he left off last season and then this evening Manchester United welcome the top flight’s third placed club in another warm up game.

Prove otherwise

We’ve already spoken about the new kit on these pages – you can find that one here – but the good news being that up close and personal it looks better than those launch photos. Dare I say it, ten times…? The away, certainly.

Going past the club shop last Thursday evening on the way to H’s swimming lesson, our cycle up Braemar Road coincided with the mannequins being arranged in the window. But enough about the Birmingham City defence. There they were. Plastic models (but enough abou…), bedecked head to foot in what we’ll be wearing over the forthcoming campaign. The relief was palpable.

Our away looks gorgeous. Discreet chevron shading running through the design whilst the home, whilst still sadly bereft of our own black trim, at least seems to have toned down the awful look of the sponsor that greeted the initial reveal. Perhaps it had been photoshopped in after the launch phots were taken. As if that would ever happen. Who knows?

Certainly the queues that ran all the way around the block and the huge wait for printing were testament to the popularity. Kudos to Chris and the team running the laminator. A three hour wait from start to finish to complete our order from going in. “Ah, we’ll just stroll up at 9 o’clock,” I casually said to Mrs Bruzon and H.

Hmmmm….The queue went from bus stop to bus stop. Griffin Park down to the New Road 65 shelter and beyond. It really was like taking a throwback to League One. Most of our time was spent waiting to even get access although the usual bonhomie that greets such occasions was alive and well. There’s nothing like the thought of needing your shirt to travel to Manchester United the following week to get the blood pumping and the spirits high.

And that is now upon us. The table doesn’t lie and with Brentford in third place – ten slots above the Old Trafford outfit – our early season form has been rewarded. Whilst the visit of Arsenal on Friday 13th will be the true acid test and our first real chance to go top of the Premier League on ability rather than alphabetical good fortune. Still, I’ll take what I can get. Pull it off this evening or next month and the place is going to go nuts. With the Bees largely expected to be whipping boys, we’ve nothing to lose, everything to gain and the knowledge that this tin pot outfit actually knows what it is doing.  

For anybody not able to travel tonight, the game is live on MUTV. Not that I can imagine we’ve too many subscribers. This Saturday’s visit from West Ham is more likely when the half and halfers will be out and about. Still, with a monthly pass available online at £7.99, perhaps a one-off subscription may be the way forward. For Manchester United rather than West Ham. You can sign up here but don’t forget to deactivate your card afterwards.

Nobody can deny our preseason is being taken lightly. The transfers are coming in whilst we’ve still not had any rumours of outward movement. No bad thing, given the number of Toney 17 shirts that were flying off the shelves at the weekend. I daren’t imagine the stress should he even change his squad number, let alone be linked to a rival. Still, that’s nothing different to any other campaign. It’s Brentford, innit. 

Old school queuing on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

A chance to remember ‘that’ goal then look forward to an epic build up.

13 Jul

And thus pre-season was complete. At least, in terms of the calendar. Hot on the heels of our trip to Manchester United, Brentford have had the final two games of the build up confirmed. Saturday 31st July sees a visit from West Ham United with Spanish outfit Valencia next up in a 5.30pm kick-off the following Saturday (7 August). Six days later it all starts when Arsenal jump on the Piccadilly line to South Ealing. Full details are on ‘official’, with the Valencia game expected to see a full house and even some away fans present for the visit of West Ham (presumably, actual fans rather than those in the half/half scarves).

Arsenal are a short tube ride away

With all Corona bets off from July 19th – albeit we’ll see how long that lasts – the next natural step is for Brentford to go for broke in terms of capacity. The Valencia game has been declared as the formal opening of our new stadium and I can’t wait. The atmosphere against Blackburn and Bournemouth was nothing short of incredible. When the place is full – and especially when Arsenal visit for a full blooded, full fat encounter – it only promises to be immense. More importantly these are three tests that, at least in terms of opposition, one would hope may provide a bit more a steer as how the Bees will fare in the forthcoming season. Assuming both teams go full tilt rather than use them as an experiment in squad rotation. 

We’ll likely end up somewhere in between but as much as anything else its just an excuse to go to football once more. Why wouldn’t you. Cripes, we’ve missed it. Desperately. Euro 2020 showed that, as if any reminder were actually needed, despite the painful on-pitch denouement to that competition (can’t even begin myself to start about the shameful stuff that happened off it). We’re still wiping up the tears in our house even now. A brutal punch to the stomach of a young boy who has so far experienced a World Cup semi-final and a Wembley win to reach the Premier league. Normally unshakeable faith in his team now tested once more following our assault by Fulham in the previous play-offs. Oh well, like Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town you can file them in the ‘where are they now?“ files.

Which pretty much sums up the quite magnificent enigma that is Brentford FC 2021. That we can now mention Yeovil and Doncaster in the same breath as Manchester United, Arsenal and Valencia. Talk about time being a great healer. Talk about looking forward to enjoying every moment of the most monumental season for our club since records began. Sink or swim? Stay or go? Still under the radar and under rated or flying high from the off? Nobody gives us much of a hope, although Ivan Toney’s popularity in the Fantasy football stakes suggests otherwise. Personally speaking, I’m hugely optimistic (quelle surprise) although will perhaps forego the annual bet on Brentford to win the league. Something that, over the years, has seen us just about in net-gain territory. Perhaps it may be more prudent to go ‘each way’ , this season. 

This far in to a small piece on West Ham and no mention of Said Benrahma. Yet. Ah, it’ll be great to see him back and no doubt there’ll be an appearance. A player up there with Jota in the ability stakes and one who has gone on to the next level, despite yet to break into the first team on a regular basis. He was AMAZING at Griffin Park. He had that brief cameo at Lionel Road when scoring ‘that’ goal in the league cup against a hapless Fulham outfit. The turn and beautiful back-heeled nutmeg before rounding Michael Hector to unleash the mother of all shots. No doubt he’ll warm up to a heroes welcome before it all goes ‘panto villain’ once the game starts. 

‘That’ goal against Fulham last season..

What an opportunity for us to lay down a marker as to how far we’ve come. The fears that selling him and Ollie Watkins would see Brentford come to nothing last season, dispelled as quickly as Fulham’s Premier league survival hopes. The faith shown by those that stuck by Thomas and the team rewarded in the most incredible style at Wembley in May. The moment still feels as fresh now as it did then. It was a long time coming and still deserves to be enjoyed to the max. A moment to provide all the inspiration we need going forward.

With the Bees back in training already you can be sure Thomas will have us set to hit the ground running. The Euros have gone. The close-season (closed?) break now feels over. Sure, we‘ve a month to wait until the Premier League kicks off properly but now it feels as though the clock really is ticking. As though we are racing full tilt towards destiny. Now, the only things in the way of that season opens with Arsenal are Manchester United. Are West Ham. Are Valencia. 

My word, this is going to be fun…..

And as our regular final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU

Until then, why not enjoy that Benrahma goal one more time…..

Nick Bruzon

It’s about a lot more than just football. Why you should get to Griffin Park today.

22 Jul

We’ll keep this brief today. Brentford play Southampton in a pre-season game that has as much focus with what happens on pitch as what happens off it. And, of course, the transfer klaxon went off again yesterday – although this one’s a little different as the pre-signing of Emiliano Marcondes from Danish Superliga side FC Nordsjælland was announced.

First up though, the Southampton game. Ordinarily it would be time to trot our cliches about this being a stern test for Dean Smith and his side. An opportunity for The Bees to test Premier League aspirations against a Southampton side who we last crossed paths with back in 2010/11. A chance to reminisce about that wonderful FA Cup fifth round tie from 2005 where we held top flight Saints at St.Marys. Sadly, it wasn’t to be in the replay. Despite Eddie Hutch giving us the lead in a thrilling cup tie, two goals from Peter Crouch would eventually help them come from behind to ensure a home quarter final with Manchester United. Still, at least we had the play-offs to focus on……

Embed from Getty Images

 

But there’s so much more to this one than just football today. There can’t be anyone in the country, or beyond, who hasn’t been moved by the disaster at Grenfell Tower last month. I can’t even bring myself to use a picture of it – the images alone are simply horrific. Let alone try to contemplate what it must have been like to be there. No words can do justice to the awful, awful events. No words can change what was such a needless and tragic loss of life.

As such, it was so touching to see the club declare early on that all profits from ticket sales for today’s game would be donated to the Grenfell Tower Disaster Fund. They aren’t alone. There’ll be bucket collections outside the ground whilst The Lord Nelson pub will be donating £5 from every burger sold to the same fund.

At the time of writing (8.30am) it’s a glorious day in TW8 and we’ve got clear blue sky overhead. With pay on the gate an option we are rarely afforded these days, why not make an 11th hour decision to get down to Griffin Park ?

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Chips not pictured – The Nelson Burger.

As for the on pitch options. Dean Smith has genuine competition in pretty much every position. Whilst these games are always interesting, they are as much about experimentation and as anything else and we probably shouldn’t get too excited about the result either way (unless its a win, of course). Just who on earth does Dean pick and where?

With no (public) sign of the alleged imminent bid for Jota we can expect our man to appear at some point. Speculation remains rife as to what will happen there but for a much more balanced view, don’t forget the wonderful piece that Billy Grant has written for Beesotted. This, despite being on holiday in the Far East at present. A beautifully balanced and insightful article that appeared on line yesterday, it looks at much more than just the talismanic Spaniard.

One thing Billy called in his article (and which shows just how ahead of the curve he remains compared to yours truly, the local press and other fan related publications) was in the signing of the aforementioned Dane. Whilst he (Emiliano rather than Billy) isn’t due to join us until his contract expired in January , on paper it is another exciting signing. Only time will tell what this means for our midfield and attack where Dean is literally spoilt for choice at present. However, the progressive nature of our recruitment team has been shown once more with another international U-21 coming to Griffin Park.

I’ll leave the true knowledge to the likes of Beesotted. I’m just the numpty on the terrace although was very pleased to see what seems like a season’s first on the announcement. One of the holy trinity of signing photos – see also: brandishing a scarf and wearing/holding a shirt with jeans – this time around we were treated to ‘player with pen poised over new contract’.

It promises to be an exciting time ahead although, as one Twitter observer noted, “He better play better than his Barnet looks”.

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Emiliano signs. Who else has tried zooming onto the computer?

Nick Bruzon

Jota : There has been no bid. Bees win as Oxford go down by the odd goal in 7 (seven)

20 Jul

Despite a brief second half scare when a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit, Brentford had sufficient in them to leave Oxford United with a 4-3 win under the belts. Yet, as ever these last few weeks, the talking point was that man Jota. With the trip to Sheffield United just over two weeks away, could he still be our player when the season begins?

For all the info on the game itself, then ‘official’ has the match report. Early goals from Flo Jo and Lasse Vibe were book ended by the late equaliser and subsequent winner from Reece Cole and Sergi Canós respectively. But for many the key stat was in the starting XI where Jota was not only named but lasted until the 66th minute, at which point Dean Smith took advantage of the rarely available opportunity to make a 7(seven) man substitution.

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View from the stand – Jota gets a 66 minute run out

Talking ‘human resources’ to Dean Smith after the game, that virtuoso of gentle probing Billy Reeves went straight to work to ascertain the status of Spanish wing wizard (Jota. Not Sergi).

Unless somebody makes a substantial bid he’s staying at Brentford and he’s happy to do so – I think you could see he was happy to be out there.

Not my words but those of our head coach. Seems clear (for now) but for complete certainty, Billy probed further. “Just to be absolutely clear then, there has been no bid?”. the answer was as definitive as one could hope at present, short of revealing that the player had actually signed a contract extension. “There has been no bid. No.

You can hear the full interview below. Aswell as talk of Neal Maupay, of whom Dean enthused, and the versatile Ollie Watkins our head coach also discussed the wider midfield situation. Great work Billy, as ever.

 

But with inward transfer activity seemingly completed (you did listen to the interview) what of outward? Your guess is as good as mine at this juncture. All I can say is that the footballing romantic in me is crossing his fingers that Matthew Benham can work some more magic. That we can both afford to hang on to the player and, likewise, he’s prepared to give it a shot with us – should this oft mentioned ‘substantial’ bid ever materialise.

As for Oxford United, I wasn’t there. Kudos to the 376 of you who did make it. Having never been to the Kassam before, it was an opportunity missed. Moreso as , in my own mind’s eye, the club are synonymous with their compact Manor Ground. Now, in the name of progress, they have three fine looking new stands and a car park.

Yet talking to one fan after the game he enthused about it, describing the new stadium as “Open spaces, interrupted by some surrounding outbuildings. Somehow and I’m not sure how it’s possible, the stadium architects have perfectly captured the spirit of the manor ground”.

Here’s hoping that when Lionel Road is eventually built, we can somehow capture some of the charm of our own Griffin Park. Here’s hoping….

Nick Bruzon

If Carlsberg did Twitter. New signing and backfiring bet see media team attain greatness.

19 Jul

Brentford travel to Oxford United for the latest stage in our pre-season programme, buzzing from the news that the much touted transfer of Ollie Watkins from Exeter City has been completed. Becoming our eighth signing of the summer, the conclusion of this move has seen two wonderful bits of social media (three if you count our own lack of hashtag / signing video when the news was announced). The first could leave one Bees supporter very much out of pocket whilst the second threatens to catapult a Nottingham Forest fan into Simon Hateley territory (he of Aston Villa infamy).

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Ollie Watkins joins. Its all very red

First, Ollie himself. What can you say? The Hoff may have departed over the summer but he has been replaced up top by first Neal Maupay and now the EFL young player of the year. The club were understandably excited about the news with Phil Giles telling official We first made an offer for Ollie 12 months ago, and again last January, so I am glad that we were finally able to sign him this time around”.

But it was on Twitter where the real story was beginning to unfold. Andy Scott joined Phil in celebrating the news about the Exeter man joining us, noting on the football front that it has been “A huge team effort from everybody involved” and that “patience is a virtue!” before going on to note that Ollie is “part of the family now!”.

Judging by the picture of his agent, its probably not the first time he’s heard that phrase. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and all that but I for one wouldn’t want to cross him, going on this photo. That’s one intense look.

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Ollie and his agent. Was a horse’s head involved in transfer negotiations?

Spare a thought too for Brentford fan Josh Mahoney who is currently in the chair for a £2.5K bar bill following a tweet published last week, where he laid down a gauntlet which has come back to bite him firmly on the behind:

Can’t see us signing Ollie Watkins, if we do I’ll buy everyone who likes this a drink this season.

Yet it was the comeback from official which inspired what one supporter has described to me as “The greatest thing that media team have ever done”.

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Chris, Sean and Ciaran most definitely first up at the bar

What? This is brilliant. This is genuinely funny. Is this the same media team that has previously brought us ‘The Obama meme’,  #TrophyFriends and #Novemberkings? Whatever wind of change has blown through Chris Wickham’s department you can only doff your cap. First, no hashtag or gimmick to announce Ollie had joined from Exeter (take a leaf, Aston Villa with your fake Whatsapps and #WelcomeJT). Now, a genuine joke. And a great one. Not withstanding their choice of drink.

Andy was on fine form too, showing just what happens when you cross swords with Scott, Giles and Ankersen (not a law firm or 70s folk group).

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But it wasn’t just Josh who was left eating his words.

Up at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest fan ‘Redman’ may be regretting his own boast. Whilst not in Hateley territory (yet), this has somewhat backfired.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 05.59.07As at the time of writing (6.00am, Wednesday morning) we’re still waiting for banter to commence. Very much a case of tumbleweed and radio silence. Ironically, something matched by Forest fan Matt Dyson – the avocado loving sports presenter on Christian O’Connell’s Absolute Radio breakfast show. His bulletins failing to mention what was the day’s big transfer story.

The other question to come out of this is how we pay for the summer’s transfer activity and changes to the wage bill? Moreso to remain FFP compliant. Of course, the fees paid for our new signings are undisclosed, we have a new sponsorship deal and are about to begin our fourth season in the Championship. Yet with previous seasons seeing outward activity as well as inward, the big fear remains that we’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Jota.

Burnley are the latest club to join the rumour mill (although I’m still laughing at the thought he’d go to the likes of Derby County or the aforementioned Forest, despite their Assombalonga windfall) despite there being no further news following Dean’s talk 12 days ago about an imminent big bid coming in.

So what happens at the Kassam tonight could be telling. Of course, Dean has already said that if a bid fails to materialise then Jota “will be available for the Oxford United game”. Playing won’t be a guarantee he’ll be with us for the big kick off but any absence from the starting XI will be an enormous sign.

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Faster than a speeding bullet – is the Spanish superman leaving Griffin Park ?

I’m not stupid (completely). We all know how good Jota is. We all know his contract is running out so we could lose a £10million player for nothing. We all know our own model. We all know we’ve sold and still thrived before. Yet, the footballing romantic in me is desperate for him to stay. The last five years have been SO exciting. With a wonderful spine to this team and an ever evolving squad, he really could be the final piece in a promotion gamble.

I’ve called top six already. Given our experience and starting XI this is more than feasible. With Jota in the team, the chances can only improve.

That may well be a decision that is already out of our hands. A decision that has already been made. One thing’s for sure, the Brentford family will be taking a very keen interest in tonight’s team sheet when that one is published.

For now, though, let’s focus on the uber-positive. Jota is a bee and we’ve made another wonderful purchase. Our media team have developed a genuine sense of humour and we’ve not sold any fan favourites.

On a day that sees us looking at how football and Twitter work hand in hand, what better way to end than with another observation from the social media platform. Ian Westbrook distilling it all into one tweet.

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Nick Bruzon