Tag Archives: Fulham

Live action, team news and transfer talk. Phil and Trevor’s Saturday afternoon takeaway had it all.

5 Apr

Saturday, 3pm. The most action packed afternoon in Brentford since we put five goals past Sheffield Wednesday. That, the last time there was any meaningful football related action in the vicinity of Griffin Park before the full Coronavirus lockdown began cranking up to the point we are now in. Sitting at home (or taking allowed exercise a safe distance from each other) and dreaming of the day that the beautiful game may return. Wondering how many we’d have won by at Fulham had that game not been called off hours before kick-off. Hoping we get a chance to play out the remainder of a campaign that has been one of the most thrilling on record. From Leeds United starting like a train, falling apart (again) before re-establishing themselves through to our own philosophy of goals, goals, goals that had taken us to the very fringe of the ‘automatic’ places. Then everything just stopped.

My word. Hasn’t life changed? Days merging into days. Social isolation very much the way of modern existence. Not even living, in the traditional sense, but more existing from one day to the next. That’s how it feels at times and is a small price to pay for not dying, I suppose. Let’s never forget those key workers battling on the metaphorical frontline or keeping those services we so often take for granted up and running. It’s not so much the staying indoors as the not knowing when it will all end. When life will return to normal. If, indeed, it ever can to the same extent as what we’ve enjoyed prior to all of this. 

That’s the gloom out of the way. Yesterday was fun. Yesterday had football. Yesterday had Brentford doing what we do best – interacting with supporters on a face-to-face basis. Rather than kicking off against Wigan (“I think we’d have won that, Dad” – HB’s considered verdict), 3pm saw the live webcast with Director of football Phil Giles facing off to 200+ Bees fans aswell as a couple of what we’ll politely call ‘randoms’ – think a humour level that would make Mrs. Brown’s Boys seem like Morecambe and Wise.

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Phil faces off to fans

 Hats off to Trevor Inns and the GPG for setting this up. Nobody seemed quite sure how it would work but after the opening few minutes had seen interlopers, barking dogs and racists ejected we were all well into the flow. Phil taking questions on anything and everything Brentford related from a video wall resembling a giant version of the Celebrity Squares game board. No limits being placed on what could be asked and no punches pulled in the answers being given.

There was talk of the relationship between Pontus and Rasmus that had seen the players make the decision to defer wages after our Captain had heard about what was happening at Leeds United. Likewise, how his move from Elland Road had been the easiest bit of transfer business we’d ever completed.

Phil telling us that his preference would unquestionably for the season to be played out, whenever that may be. Even though contract situations may then cause complications with, legally, any club surely having their hands tied in retaining players.

That the continuation of the season would ideally not be behind closed doors – the difference between playing that way and in front of supporters described in unequivocal detail. 

Phil explained how the players were staying fit and engaged. How Thomas was in constant contact with them. How some of the B team – youngsters away from their families – had returned home.

He talked about  his own role, about Matthew Benham, about finances and about the new stadium. There was hope for those wanting to see a return to Griffin Park as it was discussed how we were obliged , by league rules, to finish the campaign in the same stadium as we had started it. Albeit noting that Tottenham seem to have circumnavigated that regulation.

There was even team news with the confirmation that Pontus was definitely fit for Fulham, Phil understanding that he would have started that one.  

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what was discussed. A close to two hour chat seeing everybody being give the chance to ask what they wanted. A session that as supporter Paul Reddick noted on Twitter afterwards, meant :  “I actually forgot about COVID-19 for a couple of hours so well done for that”.  Hear! Hear!

For me there was the additional aspect of a peek behind the curtains. A look into the front rooms (and back gardens) of those who switched on their webcams. Who was that making Malteser cakes? Dave Lane enjoying a quite delicious looking beer. It was all happening in Greville Waterman’s kitchen at one point whilst others just kicked back with a cup of tea waiting their chance to ask a question or simply take in all the information. And was Adam Hobbs really in the pub or was it a case of digital trickery as he phased in and out of existence in the foreground?

In all seriousness, it was just so nice to see those familiar faces once more. Many of whom we knew. Others, recognisable by sight from a Saturday afternoon. For this reason alone, it felt even more engaging. 

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If you are going to take part, why not make the most of it?

All being well the technology exists to play this back out. Certainly, there was a ‘recording’ light in the top corner. Otherwise, Billy Reeves kept his journalistic skills well honed, transcribing the chat to Twitter. You can pick up his thread here. Being honest, and I apologise now if I have misquoted Phil from memory, it’ll be more accurate than these fuzzy recollections.

It simply remains to say huge thanks to Phil, the club, Trevor and his team in bringing this to the fans. To making a Saturday afternoon feel as ‘normal’ as it possibly could in the circumstances. Of giving us all a chance to do what we do so well as a club – talking to fans. Of allowing the supporters an opportunity to come together.

Here’s to the next one where I understand a certain Mad Dog will be in attendance……..  

Nick Bruzon

Won’t anybody think about Gary?

14 Mar

And so we have now had to bow to the inevitable. It was announced yesterday that all games in the EFL, the Premier League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship along with those in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland, have been postponed in response to the Coronvirus. As expected, Friday evening’s much anticipated game between Fulham and Brentford was the first major casualty of this new directive, albeit Brighton v Arsenal had already gone to P-P as a result of Mikel Arteta’s positive test for the virus.  In theory, the Championship and other league fixtures will resume on April 3rd with the Premier league following the day after. Good luck with that. Good luck deciding if Liverpool will be crowned champions or Leeds United will finally join them with the top flight place they so desperately aspire to.

The BBC have responded to any football related delay as they always do – by replacing Match of the Day with a repeat of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Stop and take that in. Keep stopping. Keep thinking. Mrs.. Browns.. Boys..

Whilst ordinarily the preference would be to avoid the use of choice language, I think I speak for all of us when I ask them to f**k the f**k off with Mrs. F**king Brown. Then f**k off some more. To coin a phrase.

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Despair was the feeling

Haven’t we already suffered enough? Won’t anybody think of Gary Lineker? My word, just why do they do this? Society is on the verge of breakdown. There are riots in the toilet paper aisle and Match of the Day has now been canned. The last thing we need now is more of this tedious claptrap. From all the depths of their historic sporting resources, was there not a classic match or some sort of compilation the BBC could have put together instead of subjecting us to everyone’s favourite Irish ‘mammy’. Stereotype and cliche going neck and neck in the desperate search for laughs.

Look at cricket. There’s a sport that has always been subject to sudden and unexpected cancellation. Broadcasters left with hours of airtime to fill at a moment’s notice. What they don’t do is hit the panic button. Instead we have the highlights. The classic game from days gone by The in-studio panel discussions. Some semblance of attempted normality relative to what we should have been shown.  Not Mrs. Brown.  It’s not hard. It’s not tricky. Sort it out, please. For all our sanity.

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again. What dirt does Brendan O’Carroll have on the Beeb? Why is his cackling creation deemed the ‘go to’ in any scheduling crisis? For crying out loud, if we HAVE to have comedy instead of sport there are thousands of other choices out there. Anything from Blackadder to Absolutely Fabulous (which wasn’t, although still infinitely preferable to Agnes and her cardigan). Cripes, if we’re going for out-dated comedy I’d even take Terry and June over Mrs. Brown.

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Even this would be better

The other obvious casualty of football being cancelled is Talk Sport narcissist, Ian Moose. A broadcaster whose modus-operandi consists of insisting he’d have done better than the on-pitch professionals, taking subsequent selfies with them and gorging on the pre/post match catering is now in serious danger. As much of starving as anything else, given that no football means no half-time buffets laid out for journalists. Think of all those pies that will never be eaten. At least we’ve still got the internet so wishing his good friend happy birthday  – a routine as nauseating as being part of the audience for Mrs Brown’s Boys –  is still possible. For now.

So what happens next? I honestly can’t see any way that games will recommence in three weeks time. We haven’t even got to the official cancelling of mass gatherings that is expected to be announced next week. Italy, who are streets ahead of us at present, aren’t even close to recommencing any form of action. In my opinion, for what its worth, this is the first stage of a broader cancellation. Euro 2020 will inevitably be put back a year. Whether this then leaves capacity to finish domestic campaigns remains to be seem. That’s assuming, of course, that the health situation starts to rectify itself. Boris’s approach of ‘let it all blow over, we’re British’ hardly a reassuring one. 

But I’ll leave that side of things to somebody else. We’re  primarily here to look at the Brentford angle on these pages. If there can be any positives for us I suppose that at least it is the chance for Mathias Jensen, Sergi Canos, Pontus Jansson et al to get back to full fitness. For tired legs in a thin squad to recharge.

Although what that they will be getting back to is THE question. Leagues suspended? Cancelled? Played out in empty stadia? Champions,  promotion and relegation decided by current placing (surely not – that would be the worst of any sporting decision made).  Imagine the uproar if Liverpool were denied their inevitable title? Or if they were handed the crown despite not, technically, having crossed the line.

Think of the irony if Leeds United,  who so often miss out on a place in the top flight by their own falling apart, were actually handed a position on account of the nation collectively choking on their behalf. If nothing else, a lesson learned for Alanis Morissette and her ‘Isn’t it unlucky’, song.  

However this all goes remains to be seen. For now, stay healthy. Take care and look after each other. We’ll keep sticking this nonsense up here as much as possible. It may help kill thirty seconds of tedium as we all move towards virtual house-arrest next week. Possibly.  

And the BBC, if you are reading, if there really are no other sporting highlights then rather than Mrs. Brown how about just sticking on Escape To Victory…

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Nick Bruzon

Could it be a case of advantage Fulham?

12 Mar

This all looks pretty fatal on the football front. Are Brentford and the rest about to be dealt a hammer blow? The confirmed positive test for Coronavirus of Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis had already thrown the Championship, and beyond, into doubt. Whilst large crowds were still able to see Liverpool and Spurs exit the Champions League this week, last night’s  game between Manchester City and Arsenal (who were recently beaten by The Greeks in the Europa league) had already been postponed and the number of games being played behind closed doors is accelerating across Europe. Whilst there is no word as yet given our huge game at Fulham tomorrow (not to mention the visit of West Brom to Griffin Park on Tuesday) could a tipping point be imminent ?

The Nottingham Forest players and staff have all been tested with results coming back negative. Even allowing for that good news, things suddenly feel very close to home. With public gatherings such as St. Patrick’s Day parades and schools being cancelled globally, surely it can only be a matter of time before we follow our friends in Europe and the shutters start to come down? What could that mean for Brentford? 

Forest getting the ‘all clear’ at least means that for now everybody is operating on a ‘level’ playing field. Will it be BAU and a full house for Brentford at Craven Cottage (the three sides of it that are open) on Friday? Will games start to go ahead to the sound of piped crowd noise and empty seats? This, something we witnessed on Tuesday in the Champion’s league game between Valencia and Atalanta. It was a surreal experience although still infinitely better than watching Tottenham capitulate. Not that having that famous Anfield ‘12th man’ helped Liverpool, either.  

The ‘closed doors’ option is not a route that I hope we are forced down. If for no other reason it will give Fulham a huge advantage  – playing in empty stadiums devoid of atmosphere something they are used to week in, week out.

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Could Brentford be faced with similar on Friday? (The 2-2 from a few seasons back)

At worst, players will start to be taken ill at some point and then we have that most terrifying of situations – the EFL forced to make a decision. That, something they struggle with at the best of times, let alone when the situation warrants serious action. Are games forfeited? Put on hold? The season potentially wiped or stopped dead in it’s tracks? Sides forced to put out a starting XI of healthy players, regardless as to whether they come from the heart of the first team squad or the depths of the reserves. These, all options I’ve heard touted and just any one of a number of options that may or may not come in to play at some point.

There are no answers here. Mainly because nobody knows what will happen. Martin Hardy in The Times reports this morning that actions to force all football matches in England to be played behind closed doors could be triggered as early as today. They suggest that there will be additional measures put in place to allow fans to still watch as much as possible over the internet and TV but clearly this will be an ersatz, if necessary, experience. You can read that piece, here.

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That headline from The Times…

I submitted my programme article for Tuesday’s game between The Bees and West Brom earlier. I don’t know if that will even be published or read. I hope it is and not for any egotistical reasons – it’s the usual nonsense with obligatory reference to the godawful Mrs. Browns Boys – but more because it means we are still in a BAU scenario. This may all start to settle soon, now that people are washing their hands (seriously, they weren’t before?) and have ample supplies of both dried pasta and toilet roll. Or things may get messier for the foreseeable (the U.S. now imposing a European travel ban for 30 days). Whatever happens, at best I suspect we’ll see the season run well beyond it’s scheduled finish in an attempt to wrap things up as smoothly as possible.

That’s the sporting side. Underpinning all of this is a very real human cost. People are being taken ill. Nobody wants that, to see cases accelerated or the situation worsening any more. Let’s not forget about those who are dying in all of this. Sport will always very much play second fiddle to a genuine medical crisis. When we hit that point, if not already, remains to be seen. From a sporting perspective, the next few days could very much impact how the rest of our season is going to play out.   

Until then, it’s Fulham on Friday. Our paltry allocation of 1700 fans sure to make themselves heard above the coughing and clappers. Here’s hoping we are still able to go ahead as normal.

Whatever normal is these days.

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Will our fans be allowed in?

Nick Bruzon

Owls become pussycats as Bees run riot.

8 Mar

Now that’s how to return to winning ways. Brentford trashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a game that was every bit as one sided as the scoreline suggests. The Bees climb to fourth, tucked in behind a Fulham side who of course we visit on Friday evening. We’re now five points clear of seventh (effectively six given the quite incredible goal difference of +31) and ten off second placed West Bromwich Albion. With The Baggies next up at Griffin Park and nine games to go, destiny remains very much in our hands.

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Brentford attacked from the off

What an afternoon. It was one of those where another bracketing looked on the cards and could easily have played out. Brentford came out of the traps flying and peppered the Wednesday goal, including one effort from Watkins that flew off the crossbar. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring when a shot was only parried. It fell kindly to him tin the box and there was no mistake with his left foot. Emiliano Marcondes doubled things soon after with an absolute beauty from what must have been a good twenty-five yards. It was a thing of beauty and worth the admission price alone as it flew through the air and into the far corner of the net. Less than twenty minutes gone and two up.

Brentford continued to press and Bryan Mbeumo made it three. He worked an opening and hit a low shot through the box that curled off the base of the post. The Bees in total control. Sheffield so far off the pace that forget about Wednesday, they were still on Monday. It was domination that continued in the second period although the goals took a back seat until late strikes form DaSilva and Fosu gave the scoreline the margin our performance warranted. The Bees had been rampant. The Owls outclassed and outplayed. Wednesday boss Garry Monk would use phrases such as ‘inexcusable’, ‘embarrassed‘ and ‘lost for words’. Thomas Frank would call us ‘scarily good’.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. If you want detail then official or the BBC are you best places. Or the highlights are below.

Goals, goals, goals….

Suffice to say though that this was about as completes a performance as they come. Thomas Frank would talk afterwards about our desire to defend. We were rock solid at the back despite the ongoing absence of Pontus Jansson. Anything that was hit on target, comfortably saved by David Raya.

Marcondes and Dasilva will get the goalscoring headlines but don’t rule out their overall contributions either. Emiliano was named man of the match whilst Josh had one of those games where the ball seemed tied to his foot with a piece of string. Said Benrahma did everything but score but must, instead, be content with a clutch of assists. 

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Taking deserved applause at full time

Next up is the televised game at Fulham on Friday night. With The Cottagers needing a late equaliser at Bristol City, the chance is there to really stick a late season mark on our rivals. Victory in Hammersmith would take us to within a point of third place. The satisfaction of doing them infinitely more preferable though. It won’t be easy. It never is. But it will be fun and I can’t wait. With another midweek break there’s more chance to recharge legs and do the same as we did yesterday.

There’s not much else to say, really.  Referee Keith Stroud had a great game, letting the football flow and keeping himself out of the limelight. It felt comfortable all afternoon and, honestly, never in doubt from the moment the game began.There will no doubt be tougher tests ahead but you can only play who you are up against. Beyond that, simply a case of keeping heads down until Friday night and then we see what happens down the road.

I can’t wait….

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nick Bruzon   

No jacket required. Although three points would have been nice.

1 Mar

Another point on the board. A 2-2 draw for Brentford at Cardiff City in a game we may well have won after racing into an early lead courtesy of Luka Racic and Bryan Mbeumo. Instead, things ended level on a day that saw both Leeds United and Fulham recording victories which, realistically, mean hopes of automatic are diminishing quicker than the laughter at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. No matter, with only ten games to go we remain fifth. The Bees firmly in play-off contention and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. There is no additional expectation now as top six remains the target. Anything else is a bonus outside of our control.

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Benrahma takes the game to Cardiff

What can you say? Positives included the return of Christian Norgaard after going off at Luton. A confident performance from Luka Racic at centre back which included a goal after just five minutes. A corner broke and he fired it straight back past Cardiff ‘keeper Alex Smithies. Said Benrhama was passing through the eye of a needle whilst Brentford kept going for the win all game long. Bryan Mbeumo scored an exquisite free kick to double the lead as he fired one over the wall and in with little more than twenty minutes on the clock.

With the fire drill sounding, this one was done and dusted. Wasn’t it? Alas not. Junior Hoilett grabbing the first with his head, following a long throw, where he looked suspiciously offside. At least to those of us behind the goal. Then bang on half time it was the turn of Joe Ralls with an almost carbon copy finish. Urghhh. Frustration rather than anger was the order of the day. The Bees had been playing well with Said Benrahma forcing a fine save from Smithies in between. 

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

Yet we had our own moments too and certainly Brentford never gave up. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he fired one wide with his right foot when space had opened up. Either side could have taken it. Brentford probably should after that early brace. But football is a 90 minute game as we know and so we have to be content with a point. We have to be content with remaining firmly in play-off contention and passing a back-handed compliment to Fulham, whose own victory over Preston meant we weren’t overtaken. Bristol City sit three points off us in seventh although superior goal difference means that is effectively four. 

All being well the enigma that is the Pontus Jansson injury will be resolved by the time Sheffield Wednesday visit Griffin Park on Saturday. Bright this Racic and Jeanvier have been, it is no coincidence that our recent run has coincided with his absence . The calming influence, experience and confidence of our inspirational captain something that would seem to be missing at present. This is the moment our young, young team would really benefit from the presence of this (relatively) elder statesman. Here’s hoping his return is imminent.

The other big question of the day came buried away in the Cardiff match day programme. Specifically the ‘Famous Fans’ segment. Natalie Sawyer is a given as is Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Yet there was no Rhino from the Quo. The Bluetones’ Adam Devlin was conspicuous by his absence. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Cameron Diaz, Rick Wakeman or Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). I’d even have accepted Bradley Walsh. But no. Instead we got Phil Collins. Phil. Collins.

How? Why? I know he grew up locally but seriously, has anyone ever seen hm at Griffin Park? Go figure.

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Never seen him at Griffin Park

There’s not much else to say at the moment. Anticipated travel chaos failed to materialise on the way up. The return journey one hit by train delays but even that allowed the bonus of an extended post match discussion in the pub prior to departure.  Such are the things that make up an away day. You never know what will happen on or off the pitch. The random nature of such trips one where the 90 minutes in the middle are so often the thing that gets in the way. The eye of the storm in a chance to catch up with different friends in a different city. The journey up one full of anticipation and expectation. The potential to eat and drink somewhere different always welcome. The one day in the week when health related good intentions can quite legitimately be thrown out of the window and the already meagre cash reserves are drained with abandon. The notes in the wallet taking on the nature of Monopoly money. 

And now it’s heads down for a week. The bank card buried deep in the back of the sock draw in a half-arsed attempt to avoid temptation. A week in the office (urghh) the only thing standing in the way of Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday when it all starts again. All being well, Thomas may tell us more about the injury situation during the week. Some positive news on that front will be very well received.

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Emiliano and Said were unable to fashion a winning goal

Nick Bruzon

After failing to obey the rules of Luton can we return to being Alpha predators?

29 Feb

Cardiff City, here we come. Brentford head into Wales today, looking to get back on the horse after that thing that happened midweek at Luton. Move along, nothing to see here. Instead, it’s a massive chance to test our bouncebackability and what a moment to do so. With Leeds United and Fulham both picking up the points on Wednesday the timing to test ourselves post defeat couldn’t have been more telling. Moreso as given Preston, who st right behind us, travel to the Cottage. The favour we look so eagerly towards could well blow up in our face should The Bees fail to sting the Bluebirds. As for Leeds United, they have huge self-inflicted problems of their own after goalkeeper Kiko Casilla starts an eight game ban for racism.

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Brentford were unable to find a way through the Luton defence on Tuesday

So, Brentford. Which team will we get? Thomas Frank was conspicuously absent by the lack of traditional Thursday press conference this week. We’ve no idea if Christian Norgaard will join Mathias Jensen on the injury list after limping off at Luton. Is Pontus any closer to a return? What about Julian Jeanvier? Will we have any form of traditional defence? How do we put right what went wrong at Luton?

Well, I have to look to the positive. That game at Kenilworth Road was, surely, an aberration. If we’d followed the rules of Luton then by all rights it should have been an away banker. The basement club there to be obliterated. Instead, they fought like a team possessed and were fully deserving of the win. Brentford’s hopes of success blasted out of orbit. An Alpha predator caught by startled prey. 

Instead of our normal ferocity and tearing victims apart, we looked off the pace and makeshift. Passes failing to connect. Corners landing with all the finesse of Mrs. Brown telling a ‘joke’. An opposition goalkeeper who kept his team alive on those rare moments a shot was unleashed.

We could go on but it won’t change anything. There’s no way that level will be reached again. It can’t. It won’t. We just have to put it down to a bad day at the office and move on. Whatever Thomas has had to say behind closed doors has surely been voiced. Although I get the impression he’s less a shouter and more one to place an arm around the shoulder. To guide his young charges on where they might have done things differently.   

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Every team loses games. The true test is how you react to that and I can’t wait to see how that plays out this afternoon. Assuming, of course, we can even reach Wales. GWR are reporting flooded lines towards Swansea so all trains from London start and stop at Cardiff. How this knocks on to our already delayed services ( a three hour trip)  remains to be seen. Further rain is forecast whilst it’s grim in West London this morning so one can only expect congestion on the roads, too. Yet still we head up there in our droves. Still we follow this team. It’s Saturday and it’s football. It’s a chance to see if the improbable dream could actually come true. 

The green card has been offered once more and gratefully accepted. No matter the travel related hardship that may come with it. Instead, it’s a case of gritting teeth and enjoying the game. Hopefully. Why stay warm in London when you can go to the most famous beach in the UK?

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Cardiff Beach

Elsewhere, Preston travel to Fulham in a game that puts further incentive on Brentford to make sure we do our thing. Whilst we have, understandably, been talking about the possibility of making the ‘automatic’ places in recent weeks complacency could be the mother of all f*ck ups. The play-off zone remains so congested that wins are required just to stay in contention for those. We’re only ahead of The Deepdale outfit on goal difference so let’s not lose focus on those around us as we chase that clutch of teams at the summit. I suppose a draw would be the best result in that one, with both teams still to face The Bees.

As for Leeds United, we’re waking up to the news that they are now missing butter fingered goalkeeper Kiko Casilla. The player begins an eight match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Charlton Athletic forward Jonathan Leko back in September. In addition, he has been given a £60,000 fine and asked to attend a face-to-face education session. Whilst the player doesn’t believe the verdict is a clear reflection of the incident, the FA clearly think otherwise about an aggravated charge – one classified as  making reference to race and/or colour and/or ethnic origin.

This isn’t a situation that I can take any pleasure from. With horrific stories of racism still a regular feature in the game from alleged ‘supporters’, to hear about this happening on pitch is probably even more disturbing. From one professional to another. Yet at the same time, the severity of the sentence is one which the authorities (and I mean as much on a global scale)  fail to match when that abuse comes from the stands. A hard line approach is great, and correct, but it needs to be across the board. It needs to be enforced. Let’s see what happens. I’ll wait.

On pitch, 19 year old Illan Meslier is Casilla’s understudy. He has made one appearance so far this season (in the league cup – the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal). What a time to get your chance in the first team. What an awful way to be handed your chance. Will the pressure and frustration sure to be felt by this situation be the catalyst for metaphorical death or glory? Just as Leeds had managed to stop falling apart, now another thing threatens to derail them. How they react from a footballing perspective remains to be seen. But that challenge begins this lunchtime at Hull City (L).

Until then, safe travels. Good luck. See you in Wales. Hopefully……       

Nick Bruzon

Three points, no cake and Sean. There’s plenty of Terrace Talk ahead of tonight.

25 Feb

Luton Town away. Brentford are back on the road for the first of two games this week (the trip to Cardiff City is next up, on Saturday) with Leeds United still firmly in our sights. Victory tonight would take us to within three points, and infinitely superior goal difference, of the second placed team ahead of their own trip to Middlesbrough tomorrow. With Fulham also on hold until Wednesday, the prize offered up by any victory this evening is more than just three points. You can add a hearty dollop of pressure on the side.

The game against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday was frustrating but, ultimately, a point very much rescued. We kicked on from two goals down to equalise before coming ohh so close to making it three. Alas, it wasn’t to be. That’s football. You can’t win every game and we were up against a team who, let’s not forget, have genuine hopes of making it up to the top flight. 

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Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Now we face Luton Town – a club with their own Championship challenge. Albeit at the wrong end of the table. After an impressive start to the campaign, things have gone South somewhat and they find themselves propping up the rest. The Hatters are six points adrift of safety although you could add an extra one to that given a goal difference that is about as negative as Piers Morgan discussing Meghan Markle. This was, in part, caused by the 7(seven) goal bracketing inflicted by The Bees at Griffin Park back at the end of November.

The main question tonight being whether we face a fatally wounded animal or a rabid beast desperately fighting for survival?

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Kenilworth Cat – back in the day Luton very much had a rabid beast to inspire 

In part, that will be determined by the way Brentford are set up. For reasons unknown, Emiliano Marcondes seems to have been deemed the fall guy for Saturday’s points dropped. Really? Ok, he didn’t have a great game but who did – the first half especially.  Said seemed on a one man show to impress the cameras, Dalsgaard was wobbly, none of the midfield shone and even the normally unflappable David Raya was adjudged to have given away a soft penalty. Let’s not forget, either, that having been asked to fill in for Mbeumo at Birmingham City the week before, he was now asked to cover for Jensen. Could anyone do that?  Yet instead of recognising all this, the brave keyboard warriors (see also: early season Thomas Frank hate campaign) have been back out in force. Urghh.  

The flip side to all of this is that Shandon Baptiste and Mads Roerslev both hit the ground running when they came on and really helped to haul us back into the game. On merit alone I’d expect at least the former to start this one with Emiliano dropping to the bench. For now. From there he can come on, score a screamer and send the hate mob packing. 

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Emiliano has had his moments this season. how does negativity help?

But if Jensen is still deemed unfit (as I believe to be the case), and Baptiste starts, I honestly think we have that ready made replacement to step in and inspire the Bees back to our winning ways. It seems an eternity since we last picked up three points although was only just the other week in the 3-2 over Middlesbrough. Ollie Watkins added to his haul at the weekend and will have both the Luton goal and Aleksander Orlov in his sights this evening. Brentford will be wearing the blue kit that has seen us score eight times in the two games it has been worn to date. More of the same would be very nice, thank you.

It promises to be a tense one. It could be an incredible one. Pack your cakes for the terrace (if you are a Fulham fan – or confused) and see you there.

I’m not sure if ‘impressive’ is the real  word of choice 

Talking of Fulham, don’t forget that our smattering of away tickets go on sale this afternoon. Priced at a level that would make Leeds United blush (possibly) the £35 for a TV game seems outrageous. Moreso for a club which cannot sell out their three sided ground – I heard them advertising on the radio, again, this morning. The Bees regularly take 6000 to The Cottage and so clearing the paltry allocation we’ve been offered this time around won’t be an issue. It’s more if anyone can justify what we are being asked to pay. Which of course, reluctantly, we will. Twenty’s plenty? Not at Fulham.

The other thing to catch my eye was a request to ‘Save The Terrace Talk one’. This after supporter Bradley Tomkins, amongst others, picked up on Saturday’s programme piece calling for a one-off return of our favourite video feature from days gone by. Whilst former host Sean Ridley has gone on public record as saying he’d be well up for it if asked, Bradley has shared a somewhat terse message regarding the possibility….

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Isn’t that the point? We all know he has left. We all know he isn’t going to do this full time. Instead, much like a returning player / staff member etc it was more a case of recognising somebody who,  if not perhaps deemed an official club legend, was certainly a popular figure from back in the day.

For now, Terrace Talk will have to live on in our memories. Unless, of course, you think a quick email (mine is below although I couldn’t possibly suggest that anyone keen simply copy/paste and send to to enquiries@brentfordfc.com ) may reap rewards : 

Dear Brentford

I note with interest your decision to publish an article in Saturday’s match-day programme (Blackburn Rovers) asking whether the ever-popular Terrace Talk feature could return for a one-off Griffin Park farewell? See also: Centre Circle Challenge.

Whilst I am fully aware that former host Sean Ridley no longer works for the club, as a passionate supporter you may also be aware that he has been in direct contact with yourselves saying he would happily be involved should the opportunity arise.

As such, I wanted to write and show some formal support in the hope that, somehow, words could collide and  – just like the many other returning stars we have seen this season – Sean and the supporters be given their own chance to say goodbye to Griffin Park in that unique style.

Nick Bruzon

With the terrace talk about Terrace Talk, it’s another point in awful conditions.

23 Feb

Another game unbeaten. Another game that Brentford fans may feel we should have won but, in the end, will be happy to have taken a point against a Blackburn Rovers team with their own promotion aspirations. A 2-2 draw played out in gale force conditions, alongside Fulham’s Friday night draw and a 0-0 for Nottingham Forest means we stay fourth. Leeds United won – fair play to them – as that once colossal gap to second place is still a very catchable six points. With the Bees next up before the teams directly above us play again (we’ve a visit to Luton Town on Tuesday before Fulham host Swansea and Leeds travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday), the chance to apply further immediate pressure lies very much in our own hands.

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It’s up there, somewhere. Conditions were tough at gusty Griffin Park.

It was an absolute corker of a Griffin Park. Despite Blackburn playing with that howling wind at their backs in the first half, Brentford were the ones applying the early pressure. Right up until the exact moment that Rovers’ goalkeeper Christian Walton played a long, long ball up pitch and as it caught the breeze, Ethan Pinnock lost it in the air. There was Adam Armstrong to drift it over David Raya with a perfectly placed lob. The ball seemed to float over him in almost slow-motion with nothing the Spaniard, or anybody watching, could do to stop it hitting the back of the net.

Noooooooooooooooooo. 0-1 and Blackburn most definitely not reading the script. With the wind now behind the visitors and very much taken out of our sails, the rest of the first-half meandered way into nothingness. I’m struggling to recall much more in terms of incident. Still, there was always the second period to come…..

Urghh. 0-2 Rovers. With less than an hour gone, referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot after Raya won the ball but continued his movement into somebody. Gut feeling at the time was that it was soft but legitimate. We’ve all seen them given etc. That man Armstrong made no mistake and Blackburn were home. The play-offs beckoning.

Except, they weren’t. Just minutes later Ollie Watkins had halved the deficit with an absolute howitzer of a shot. This time it was Dalsgaard who used the conditions to our advantage as his own pass through the eye of the storm was perfectly judged by the free scoring front man. Playing the offside trap to perfection, he brought it down and then leathered one from distance that swerved into the top corner and sent the home fans wild. My word, what a strike. It was as much about the timing, control and preparation as it was the finish. Hats off, Ollie. 

The crowd buoyant and Brentford inspired, we kicked on. Shandon Baptise and Mads Roerslev having come on from the bench both impressed. Should Mathias Jensen still be missing for the Luton game, I can only imagine it will be the new signing from Oxford who starts that one rather than Emiliano Marcondes. Yet it was Roerslev who was the real revelation down the right, as the Brentford player machine looks like it has spat out another winner from the B-team.

Boom. Felled in the box (apparently – move along, nothing to see here) it presented the opportunity for Benrahma to level things. There was no mistake from the spot and with 20 minutes left, there was only one team in it. 

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Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Brentford pushed, poked, and tried. Benrahma’s legs a blur and Mbeumo coming close to making it another afternoon of the BMW doing their thing. At the other end David Raya keeping Arsmtrong at bay with a quite wonderful save after Dalsgaard’s back pass had dropped woefully short. It was the only realistic chance that Blackburn had between the equaliser and full time. How crucial could it prove? 

Alas, it wasn’t to be for either team. Promotion hopes hit with the lightest of pauses rather than being derailed or ground made. For either team. With West Bromwich Albion also winning, and so themselves now four points clear of Leeds United, anybody hoping for ‘automatic’ is fighting out for one place. I can’t see the Baggies surrendering another double point lead having once more found their form. Albeit their visit to Griffin Park next month could be interesting…..  

Instead, it looks like a straight shoot out between Brentford, Fulham, Leeds United, Preston and Nottingham Forest for second place. Statistically, Leeds have to be favourites. They’re the ones currently occupying that slot and with the lead over third place. Yet pressure does strong things and one thing’s for sure, nobody is going to give up on the chase. With Brentford missing Mathias Jensen, Pontus Jansson and Sergi Canos we’ve still got strength in depth to return. 

So, it wasn’t to be this time. The race for the Premier League is still alive and kicking. The players doing their thing, even at full time, where they and Thomas once more put the family feel into our wonderful club.

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Advice being given at full time….

We’ve a trip to Luton Town up next and then it’s off to Cardiff City on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast as the excitement shows no sign of abating.

And finally, the (possible) return of the ever popular Terrace Talk video feature. Could it happen? It was a subject that was touched upon in yesterday’s programme feature and has already been picked up on by former host Sean Ridley.

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As seen in the programme….

Going by yesterday’s Twitter talk, Sean’s willing to give it a go for one last hurrah – assuming, of course, that ‘official’ are.

Just tweet @BrentfordFC and use the hashtag #TerraceTalk if you’d like to see it back just once more. Hey, the club may even agree.  And if you need a reminder of the feature’s brilliance, then here you go (from the 2016/17 visit of Nottingham Forest)…..

 

Nick Bruzon

Can our own Winston Churchill inspire further success ?

22 Feb

It seems an age since Brentford picked up a point at Birmingham City last weekend. Since then we’ve all had a chance to wonder just what happened to the guy in the green jacket. We’ve beaten Albion Rovers in the World Cup of programme covers final after an epic semi-final replay defeat of Blyth Spartans. We’ve learned that Bryan Mbeumo has recovered and will be starting today. Likewise that Sergi Canos is fit, although that’s a different set of pictures. Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have held Fulham in game that, arguably, they could have won last night –  a result that would have been the perfect tonic ahead of today’s visit from Blackburn Rovers. Yet as one New Road observer opined last night : ‘Result! More dropped points’. And he’s right. It is a result that means a win for Brentford this lunchtime is guaranteed to take us third, just one point behind Leeds United ahead of their own home banker against Reading. But , as ever, things are never as easy as they may seem on paper. Blackburn sit just outside the play-offs, very much sneaking up the blind side to a position where their own three points in front of the Sky cameras will see them edge into sixth. 

This is very much a day with everything to play for. Very much a day for Brentford to make a name for themselves and for Blackburn Rovers to try and ruin our moment with their own promotion seeking agenda. I’m just glad this one is a lunchtime kick off. There’s less time to wait until things get going albeit it’s somewhat of a drag for those living away from TW8. Welcome to what may await should we be successful in our aim of starting life at Lionel Road in the Premier League. 

That in itself being a phrase (or variant of) I have to pinch myself each time it is written. Not because we don’t deserve to be where we are. We do. The table doesn’t lie and this team is one of THE best we’ve ever had the good fortune to see. More because we all know how grim things were for so long. How desperately we all fought just to keep the club alive. It is a point we do return to on these pages as much to remind ourselves how incredible it will be should the dream play out.

Standing in our way today are Blackburn Rovers. We’ve a lot to thank them for. Mainly David Raya who has been one of the major contenders for player of the season. No goalkeeper in the Championship has conceded less than his 27 in 33 games. With the BMW firing at the other end, just think how significant this may prove to be when the final seasonings play out.

Then again, the Blackburn defence is pretty miserly. They’ve barely troubled the ‘A’ column this year and their last two games have seen back to back clean sheets as they picked up wins over Charlton and Hull City. It is a string of results that has marked a positive start to 2020 and now the play-off zone is beckoning. But what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Think Batman v The Joker or KITT v KARR in Knightrider. Who comes off unscathed? Who can pick a less relevant cultural reference ?

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KITT v KARR. The BMW v Blackburn

The heart, of course, says Brentford come out on top. The head says this is football. This is never easy. Nothing is guaranteed . It’s why this year has already seen Leeds United come unstuck against Wigan. Against QPR. Against Sheffield Wednesday. Held by many others. Why Charlton won at Nottingham Forest the Tuesday before last. Editor – bring forth the clichés. Every game absolutely needs to be taken as it comes. Past form counts for nothing when the referee blows his whistle – opponents expected to roll over and die rarely do. Something which would be very much appreciated if Reading could also adhere to.

Pressure can do strange things to top sides but confidence can also inspire them. If we carry on doing what we’ve been doing, and the crowd keep it loud, today has the possibility to be an auspicious one. Our fans are nothing but magnificent, as we saw again at Birmingham City on Saturday. Harry Potter in evidence, as ever. Loud and proud.  Our own man in the green jacket very much helping play a part in out-smarting theirs. More of the same very much the order of the day.

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Elsewhere, it would be remiss of us to not to round up recent coverage of the World Cup of Programme Covers event that has played out on Twitter. We’ve not graced these pages over the last few days – mainly due to half-term based exhaustion. Self-inflicted as a social life has, oddly, reared it’s head once more. Ahh – alcohol and live music – I welcome you both back into my life, old friends. Guinness, The Strokes and Bluetone Mark Morris amongst others to get in the way of writing this nonsense.

As such, we’d left things in the build up to the semi-final with Blyth Spartans. An incredible victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat as a last second vote in Brentford’s favour took the tie with Roger Mellie to a dead heat. You couldn’t make it up. Scenes. Limbs (whatever they are) and all other manner of cyber celebration greeted the result. A bitter gut punch to the stomach of the Viz inspired red-hot favourite. The replay seeing Bees cruise into a final shoot out with Albion Rovers.

We looked dead. Buried. The people’s favourite from North-of-the-border storming into a 72% lead until…. the votes began to swing. Was it the ‘RT’ from official that did it? Or just good taste coming to the fore? Either way, the Daliesque stylings of Albion’s wing wizard were pushed in to second place. The victory ours. The tournament complete. A plucky runner up denied the prize of victory which many, myself included, could have had no complaints with had they won.

And finally…. Editor – bring forth the crowbar. Whilst normally I don’t bang on about the match day programme, today is different.

The team have produced an issue based on the classic design from season 1991. A time when the Bees finally achieved promotion from what is now League One and those of us a bit longer in the tooth were wondering whether this really was the last we’d seen of Kinightrider.  Aswell as interviews with David Raya and Lee Towersey – the man behind the controls of R2D2 in Star Wars (apparently), Greville Waterman’s look back at the aforementioned promotion and my own personal favourite page Triple B, (Big) Ben Burgess – The Last Word (if nothing else, it’s a great title) I would crave your indulgence for my own column. If for no other reason then the hope that before the end of the season we may be able to bring back an old friend. Or two……

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Nick Bruzon

Storm in a B cup.

16 Feb

What an afternoon. Another point for Brentford, earned in horrific conditions at Birmingham City on the day Fulham were humped at home by basement club Barnsley and Nottingham Forest shared the spoils with West Bromwich Albion. The only fly in the ointment being a win for Leeds United (not a typo) at home to Bristol City but things at the business end of the Championship remain as tight as ever. And if you haven’t seen it, the club have announced news about our final * ever game at Griffin Park.   

We can only start at rain soaked and wind swept St. Andrews where Thomas Frank had to give his BMW a refit. Marcondes coming in for Mbeumo to join our much touted front three. With Shandon Baptiste making an impressive full debut in place of Josh Dasilva it was a new look Brentford side that began this one. The team taking on an even less familiar look after just a few minutes when Mathias Jensen had to go off, replaced by Dru Yearwood. Birmingham scented blood and went for the jugular.

Attack followed attack until the inevitable happened. Jude Bellingham (16, apparently) had already hit the inside of the post before Lukas Jutkiewicz popped up with the inevitable. A ball played in across the goal line eluded everyone until it reached the striker who made no mistake. Urghh. The Birmingham storm unable to be weathered. The start, dreadful.

And then it all changed. Brentford woke up. The desire to participate kicked in. Within minutes, we were level. Ethan Pinnock heading home from a corner to send the Bees wild. Get in – that’s more like it!! City not even able to blame the bench warming Harlee Dean for failing to keep that out.

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Goooaaaalllll !!

On we pressed. The ascendency very much swinging towards Brentford, despite the weather in our faces. A blatant penalty denied. Lee Camp in goal for Blues pulling off save after save. A second half shot somehow scrambled off the line by Fosu (on for sub, subbed Yearwood)  as Camp kept the Bees at bay. His one man defence saving a point for a City side who could perhaps consider themselves unfortunate to have their own penalty appeal turned down late on.

Frustration from the pitch had already been boiling over in the stands, where one green jacket clad supporter – giving it the billy big balls to the 1500+ Brentford supporters – went arse over tit on the  security awning draped over the seats intended to keep us apart. Magnificent comic timing if nothing else. The price for his bravery – a chorus of jeers, heckles, laughter and the attentions of the stewards. Followed up by the police, who asked him help with their inquiries. Outside the stadium.

And so it finished. One each and a point we can be pleased with. Birmingham should probably have stormed out of sight. Likewise, justifiably upset by decisions towards the end where Norgaard was also lucky to escape with just a yellow. With other results mostly going our way, especially at Fulham where Barnsley pulled off a magnificent 3-0 win, only Leeds United have taken true advantage. Fair enough. They’ve a good team and despite their own well documented fragility are still managing to hang in there. There’s a lot to be said for that.

We’re unbeaten. We’ve played really well in testing circumstances. The referee didn’t help either team and, being honest. I’m happy with another point on the board. Three would have been nice. On another day we’d have got them. Birmingham City no doubt thinking and feeling the same. They’ve been on form and I’m happy to get away with safely.

Elsewhere, Tuesday is THE big day. Tickets for the game against Barnsley, our last ever at Griffin Park *, go on sale then. The announcements of how this is happening will be made on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Twitter has the first notes up already – below.

For now, it’s the calm after the storm. Next up is Blackburn at home on Saturday. With who knows what in between…

* subject to play-off fixtures

Nick Bruzon