Tag Archives: Gavin Ward

Almost there. How about a few facts?

1 Aug

We’re that close now you can almost smell the aroma of bovril drifting across the forecourt. Thursday lunchtime and the season proper kicks off for Brentford in little more than 48 hours with the visit of Birmingham City. A team whose ‘yoof’, it would seem, are still learning how to spell ‘obsessed’. Saturday afternoon can’t come soon enough, even despite the somewhat dubious allure of Luton Town v Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough ™ on Friday evening to open proceedings in the Championship. That in itself, a game packed with intrigue as the former Leeds man and his club attempt to pick up the media inflicted hype gauntlet laid down by Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County last season. But before things kick off at Griffin Park, we’ve already been dealt a blow. Two words designed to strike fear into the heart of any supporter. Gavin. Ward.

I’ve been away this week. That’s not information of any particular interest beyond being somewhat out of the loop in terms of keeping track of all our news. Re-enabling the 4G after landing at Heathrow yesterday evening produced a flurry of interesting updates. Maupay, Watkins and Benrahma all still at Brentford. Brighton and Crystal Palace apparently sniffing but nothing much more out there beyond that.

Even the usual Sheffield United ‘nailed on’ news has died a death. For now. It won’t be long before they’re definitely going there. Or Aston Vila. Or both. If you believe every rumour you read. Ahh, it’s all part and parcel of this time of year. Just grit your teeth, clench butts and hang on for the ride until that window slams shut.

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Flying in to Heathrow via Lionel Road – not a drone in sight, this time.

What we can say for sure is that Matthew Benham’s model (the mathematical one rather than Cliff in the brown/orange shirt) has struck again. Or maybe it was Cliff. Either way, the ‘in’ door has swung once more and the ceremonial half-chewed biro been cracked out with the news that we’ve signed Ecuadorian wide-man Joel Valencia from Polish champions Piast Gliwice. A player who certainly seemed happy to be here, that’s for sure. 

His signing gives even more choice on the flanks (read in to that whatever you need to – I have no intel. In general) and whilst he may be somewhat of an unknown quantity to those of us in the stands, have no doubt that the DOFs and Mr. B know their onions when it comes to talent spotting. The kinks in the machine that brought us the likes of Marinus and Nick Proschwitz seem to have been well and truly ironed out as our recruitment model has gone from strength to strength. 

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Welcome Joel (#)

Will he start against Birmingham City? I think the question is more a case of who will start against Birmingham City ? With the big three names barely even being mentioned, let alone featuring, over the close season it gives Thomas Frank an almighty selection headache. Of the best sort. I’m presuming that should any of Neal, Ollie and Said be deemed match fit then the bench is the best they can hope for. But, and has been said many times, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace rather than a font of any serious knowledge. Then again, the prospect of bringing on Neal Maupay to run at new Blues captain Harlee Dean, with Gavin Ward holding all the cards in the middle in his role as referee, is a quite fantastic one. 

Whilst his is a name that never brings any pleasure when announced as our primary match day official, given Harlee’s tendency to ‘go rogue’ at crucial moments, and with the added burden of wanting to make a good impression in his first game with the armband – against his former fans and team mates – for once the presence of Mr. Ward could be a good thing. Please note: I reserve the right to retract this comment on Sunday morning. 

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Regardless, I’m itching to start once more. The Brentford record against Birmingham City has been first class since our paths have crossed once more. Each of those last five seasons has seen us finish higher than Blues. They’ve not beaten us since November 2016. There was, of course, also ‘that’ 5-0 and ‘that’ song. Those are nothing more than facts. Bloody good ones, mind you. 

Here’s to Saturday and the chance of seeing whether we can add to that record. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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Bees celebrate a special 50th and another game unbeaten. Happy 2019!

1 Jan

And so a chaotic round of festive fixtures comes to a close with Brentford and Norwich City sharing a point following a 1-1 New Year’s Day draw. The Bees are unbeaten in 2019. Unbeaten over that four game congested run that now sees some respite approaching with Oxford United next up in the FA Cup. On an afternoon that  was chosen to mark Peter Gilham’s 50th year as Griffin Park’s ‘man-with-the-mic’, the game ended with both managers no doubt feeling their respective teams had done enough to win it. Yet, being honest, there were no complaints about another point earned following the Christmas draws on the road at Bristol and Birmingham City. Moreso, given the somewhat erratic performance of referee Gavin Ward who did his very best to enrage both sets of supporters with a stop-start performance, random bookings and several penalty calls ignored.

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And this is Saunders territory… Norwich City were visitors to Griffin Park.

Thomas Frank saw his Bees start this one at 100mph. Attacking, confident football was the order of the day as Said Benrahma and Sergi Canos drove forward with intent. Neal Maupay making a nuisance of himself, Kamo bossing centre-mid and Rico Henry impressing down the left side. Flank partner Moses Odubajo can count himself somewhat unlucky in missing out on this one but perhaps the procession of games over such a short space of time has been telling. 

Pressure built with Brentford taking the lead half way through the opening period. Julian Jeanvier, again part of the three centre back set up that has coincided with our own upturn of form, heading home from a Benrahma corner kick in front of the Norwich supporters. 

I have no idea, but Leo Vegas sponsor every Brentford goal”, proclaimed Peter Gilham as he announced the opener. This, before a brief apology to the French defender. If ever there was a moment to show how much we know and love the man affectionately known as Mr. Brentford then here it was.

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Fifty years on and Peter Gilham still has us enthralled.

The Bees pushed on. Half time came and went with the single goal lead remaining in place. Neil Maupay v Tim Krul in the Norwich City goal becoming a battle that would ultimately decide the fate of the game. Whilst Timm Klose levelled things up late on – a goal that had been coming as Brentford visibly tired in front of us – it was the Canaries ‘keeper who pulled off two wonder saves from the Championship’s leading scorer in the second half which proved pivotal. Do check these out on the video highlights – Sky have theirs up now – then doff your hat to the visitors. They’re at the business end of the table for good reason yet, at the same time, our own running them so close tells you as much as you need to know about our own fighting spirit returning.

Peter Gilham had done his best to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The players kept it going. Gavin Ward played his part too as a series of somewhat ‘random’ (and that’s the polite word) decisions kept both sets of supporters on their toes. The relief that greeted the Norwich City equaliser was palpable from the visiting fans. The disappointment at running them so close evident to the home set. 6 points out of 12 now marking an upturn in form for the Bees who had been on that horrific run.

Turn a few more of those into wins and the top ten is more than possible. That’s a long way off, of course, but at a time that it looked as though Brentford might get sucked into the relegation mire it’s nice just to be looking up once more. It’s wonderful to see our team playing with heart and gusto. To see those defensive howlers fast disappearing into the nether reaches of the memory. Long may it continue.

Next up are Oxford United in the FA Cup. That’s going to be an equally different sort of test. If only  the trying to find any leftover bacofoil after cooking the Christmas turkey. That replica trophy isn’t going to make itself but that’s a challenge for another day.

For now, it simply remains to take comfort in the return of an infinitely more positive and solid looking Bees team. Whilst we are by no means the finished article compared to earlier in the season, and the now open transfer window could wreak further havoc (or benefit) there is plenty to remain optimistic about. Julian Jeanvier continues to impress. As does Rico Henry. Kamo was a rock in the midfield whilst Yoann Barbet’s return can only be a positive. One run in the first half saw him slice through the Norwich City midfield, riding tackle after tackle as he surged upfield before being unceremoniously upended in Saunders territory.

Long may it continue. A very happy start to the New Year. Now bring on Oxford United in the cup….

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View from the Braemar – Rico Henry impressed today.

Nick Bruzon 

Is Kettle plugged in? Championship refs have a makeover for 2016/17

4 Jun

With Brentford now knowing who they’ll face in the Championship next season, we’re also aware of who will be in charge of those games. With visits from former Premier League outfits Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the calendar along with the all important West London derbies against Fulham and the Loftus Road mob, the man in the middle is sure to be more important than ever before. Season 2016/17 brings changes to that role.

Today’s Last Word is brought to you by none other than regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush. Sharing the apprehension felt by many when we get to see who is going to be wielding the cards and whistle, he gives us a rundown on just what we can expect. There’s good news. And bad.

Not surprisingly, the words Kettle and Stroud appear.

Bernard Quackenbush writes…

Bernard Quack“Next season, there will be two big changes which will effect all Championship teams. The most significant of which will be that emergency loans will be no more. So once Jim White, football’s answer to Brian Blessed, shouts that the transfer window is shutting, there can be no more trading until January!

The other, lesser change, is the one that interests me more, and I have been asked by Nick to talk about today.

For some time now there has been an elite list of referees who have officiated in the Premier League, known as the SG list. Last season it was announced that there would be a new SG2 list of referees who would ‘predominantly’ ref Championship matches only. The big difference is that these referees will become professional and enjoy the same privileges and access to facilities similar to their Premier counterparts. This has been needed for some time and really became very obvious last season. Numerous iffy and inconsistent displays by referees and an injury list of officials similar to our own, made any kind of planning in the referee ranks, virtually impossible.

So that’s the background. So why am I so fascinated by this area of football? Ever since I was a child I understood that these villains in black were just as important as the players. Some were bad, and some were awful, occasionally one may be OK! So I wanted to know more about them. They came from the oddest places too, usually Cotswolds hamlets or Yorkshire mining villages or places with seemingly ridiculous names like Great Bookham. For example, in my mind Lester Shapter never came from Devon, he was from Torquay! Sadly, a policy change meant that these villains in black (after all that is the colour villains always wore), meant that the hamlets and villages were no longer listed and instead the County FA’s where they are registered were listed instead. Yet in this day of the interweb, a bit of digging and a basic grasp of cyber stalking skills, one can still find out that Charles Breakspear comes from Walton-on-Thames (although I imagine someone will now tell me he is from Virginia Water or similar).

So what of this SG2 list. Who made it, who did not? In all there were 31 applicants to the list, with only 18(eighteen) spaces available. There would also have been some strong candidates who decided not to apply because they did not want to give up the day job of being a traffic warden, or similarly heinous job. (Apologies to any traffic wardens’ but I work in Childrens Social Care, so I can trump everyone in most despised occupations!).

The bad news first….Keith Stroud.

Quite possibly the most consistently awful and incompetent card happy referee that has taken charge of a Bees match, is on the list. I was hoping that he would get promoted with Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney to the Premier League, but he is stuck with us. I may be over wishful and optimistic in my thinking that I can imagine him being considered a senior member of the group along with the usually competent Simon Hooper, and may end up taking charge of more than his fair share of Newcastle United and  Aston Villa games rather than the likes of us Huddersfield or Bristol City.

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Keith Stroud (on Sky)- your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

There are a number of positives to the list with a number of names not appearing on it. NO Keith Hill. NO Trevor Kettle. NO Gavin Ward and also no sign of messrs Webb, Malone, Boyeson, Brown, Collins, Handley or Williamson. Also no sign of the much maligned ‘Deadly’ Darren Deadman, who showed one of the most human and commendable acts by a referee, when not booking Billy Sharp for revealing a message on his vest under his shirt after the tragic death of his baby. Additionally, no sign of Nigel Miller, an old skool police officer type ref who always seemed to show common sense.

A perk of the new list is that it contains a number of the better younger refs who are finding it impossible to break into the Premier League, because of their seemingly ‘jobs for life no matter how useless they are’ policy. Refs like Coote, Harrington, Kavanagh, Simpson and the excellent James Adcock from Nottingham for example. Madley is on the list too, thankfully its Andy and not Bobby. Oli Langford from Wednesbury is a vastly underrated ref who I would be happy to see at GP. Yet Tim Robinson from Bognor is one who lowers my expectations before a match has even started. A similar feeling I began to get last season every time I saw Andy Davies’ name in the match programme. The list is completed by Mr Bankes, Duncan, Eltringham, Bond, Linington, Martin and Andy Woolmer.

Additionally, ‘assistants’ are getting an overhaul too, with 36 successful applicants making it to the list, although there are 3 or 4 being demoted from the Premier League. Unlike the referees, not all assistants will become professional assistants, which makes them sound like football’s equivalent to the lovely Debbie McGee. Unfortunately, keeping tabs on our linesmen is not easy, as clearly there is 2 of them and I never know which is which.

There are exceptions to this, where one is clearly of a different ethnicity, or have some form of disability (and I don’t mean poor eyesight), or Mike Newell’s particular favourite, officials who need their own separate changing room. But one noticeable admission from the list is Mathew Buonassisi, a linesman who always seemed to forget where he was and constantly confused his referee as to what the bejeezus he was doing. Mathew has decided to call it a day and has accepted the long standing offer from Hollywood to be Danny DeVito’s body double.”

Bernard Quackenbush

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The lovely Debbie McGee

Bernard – many thanks indeed.

And if you’d like to read more from Bernard then aside from the comments on many of the regular comments to these pages, you can follow him on Twitter via @BernardQuack.

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of that Stroud induced pain then you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.

 

 

No prizes for ‘unlucky’ but at least we won the possession

13 Jan

Well, you can talk about “unlucky” and “on another night “ all you want but the simple fact is that Middlesbrough left Griffin Park with all 3 points after beating Brentford 1-0. It may well have been against the run of play in a game where, especially in the first twenty minutes, we dominated but if ever there was a lesson to be learned about taking your chances when they arise then here it was. And with free scoring Burnley due to visit on Friday night, let’s hope it is one that we learn fast.

Brentford played very, very well for large parts of this game despite the best efforts of referee Gavin Ward. The aforementioned opening salvo saw a performance that was world’s apart from the debacle in the FA Cup. Lasse Vibe, especially, started at 100mph as first he set up Alan Judge for a shot that drifted just wide before finding himself clean through moments later. With defenders closing and Boro’ keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos on inspired form, as ever, the chance was pushed away for one of the 11 corners we earned.

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Hands off Toumani….. Boro’ defend another corner

The returning Sam Saunders saw Dimi manage to get to a dipping first half free kick whilst Harlee Dean and Max Colin (my standout player from last night) also came close for the Bees. Yet despite these wonderful chances and a final figure of 60% possession if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net then you don’t win football matches.

Middlesbrough were solid and well organised. Perhaps you could even say they were cynical at times but they did what they needed to. On a blustery evening they soaked us up, rode their luck a bit yet, with the scores still at 0-0, when the chance presented itself on the hour they put it away. Or, rather, we did.

David Button, for so long this season the man who has kept us in games, saw an attempted punch spin off his gloves, over his head and, despite the claims of Daniel Ayala, straight through a melee of players and over the line. It was, to be polite, a frustrating moment and I’m not going to start criticising our ‘keeper – far from it. He’s been a hero this season and we play as a team.To be honest, the game should have been closed out by that point.

Instead, Middlesbrough did what they do – lock things down and win games. In tricky conditions, a long way from home, they made it 6 wins in 16 months against The Bees.

I’m not going to pander to our team and say “unlucky”. This was a wonderful chance to beat the league leaders and close in on play-off rivals. Instead, they’ve got away with the points once more and the gap to sixth is now eight points. From a table perspective, the only consolation is that at least positions 4-6 are really tightening up. But, being honest, I think we’re now in a place where unless we start winning very fast indeed, consolidation is the best this side can hope for this time around.

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The BBC table shows the current state of play

That’s still no bad thing and moreso given the start to the campaign we had. People have huge expectation levels and forget how far we’ve come over the last few seasons. Likewise, how mediocre things have been in the past. Ladies and gentlemen, before Marinus I give you Terry Butcher, Leroy Rosenior and even the sad end to the Andy Scott era – just for starters.

Yet at the same time, we were spoiled by what the squad achieved last season and just how close we came to the top flight. For a brief moment, ‘automatic’ was looking very much a possibility and, even then, we still got a second bite as we hit the play-offs on that stunning final day of the season.

Seeing Andre Gray scoring goals for fun this season up at Burnley (and, indeed, the brace he managed for us under Marinus) does show just what this team have been missing in recent weeks. You can’t knock Lasse Vibe’s effort, or goals, but target man isn’t his natural position. The return to fitness of Marco Djuricin can only be a good thing for a team whose record is now just two wins in eight games.

Only Derby, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and, erm, Fulham have scored more goals than us all season and so I’m sure you’ll hear the statisticians and coaches saying we’re looking quite healthy in that position. Well, the last five games have only seen us trouble the scorers three times – and two of those were the wonder goals from Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos at Reading. Incredible strikes, for sure, but not the sort of thing you can rely on week in, week out.

Were we unlucky last night? Yes. We played very well with Sam Saunders providing a welcome burst of fresh air and enthusiasm whilst Max Colin really impressed.

Should we have won? Probably. Judge and Vibe had the best of some good chances for Brentford.

Did Middlesbrough deserve it? It’s irrelevant. When the chance arose, we were pressured into conceding and they didn’t let us back in despite the Bees having seen the majority of the ball  by full time.

Goals win football matches, people. Regardless of who you are playing or how it gets into the back of the net.

Roll on Friday, when Burnley await. They warmed up with a 5-0 humping of MK Dons last night. Then again, if Brentford start like we did on Tuesday evening it could be an interesting one…

Nick Bruzon

From storming mad to a storm in TW8

11 Jan

And relax Brentford fans. Before we start to look ahead to Middlesbrough and Burnley, just a quick note to say thanks for all the feedback on social media this weekend. Specifically, regarding Saturday night’s column about the FA Cup against Walsall and the visit of FC Midtjylland. Football is a game that has always polarised opinions (just ask any visitor to the GPG) but the reaction to this one on Facebook and Twitter was amongst the most extreme I’ve ever seen. I have no idea if anybody in the club reads this column but would hope that they at least note this has clearly been an emotive subject for the supporters.

Monday morning. With Middlesbrough due here in just over 36 hours, the rain of the weekend has been followed by an overnight downpour of biblical proportions (is there any other type?) in TW8. At the time of writing (6.30am) it is still tipping down in Brentford. One can only hope that the drainage system is working and the Griffin Park pitch holds up.

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View from the terrace – the rain was constant on Saturday

To be fair, since the farce at the start of the season that saw it needing to be relaid just two games in the surface has been magnificent. Whilst it was clearly greasy on Saturday, I didn’t notice it overly cutting up. However, with another three hours of rain due on Tuesday afternoon according to the BBC, one can only imagine what referee Gavin Ward (oh, joy) will make of things when he carries out his pitch inspection.

I’m sure we’ll be fine but, equally, with conditions likely to be slick it could be a fast paced game. Certainly, I’m expecting a huge reaction from Brentford – both players and fans. Whilst Saturday was absolutely gutting, we are still placed in an extremely interesting position. A minimum of three points this week will see us close in further on two promotion rivals.

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The current BBC table shows how crucial points are this week

It is, being honest, a season defining week. The cup is over but the league is very much alive – if we can do what we know we can do. I’d love to see the likes of Toums, Tarks and the Judge start this one. They were sorely missed on Saturday but the transfer stories doing the rounds may still take this out of our hands

Middlesbrough, of course, are seen by many as some form of bogey team. Three league wins and two play off semi final victories in the last 16 months certainly make Boro’ the form team when it comes to games between our respective sides.

Then again, I don’t pay too much attention to history. Do so and you’ll beat yourself before you even leave the dressing room.

Personally, my only focus is on getting three points. Former Bees promotion hero Adam Forshaw will be down with his new side and whilst it would be nice to show him how we’ve progressed since last season, I’d settle for a scrappy 1-0.

Let’s just hope we don’t give him a half time lap of honour.

Nick Bruzon

After the storm, some reflection

22 Mar

Talking in the pub last night and looking around cyberspace this morning it would be fair to say I wasn’t alone in ‘The Last Word’ assessment of Brentford, following the 2-2 draw with Millwall. Equally, having shot from the hip and now having had the benefit of sleeping on it, can we take any positives or even just reassess a column written in the heat of the moment?

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Buzette - now head and shoulders above Buzz

Buzette – now head and (almost) shoulders above Buzz

Clem - another game, another draw

Clem – another game, another draw

Shooting from the hip: Brentford 2 Millwall 2

21 Mar

Is the pressure telling? Brentford managed to salvage the unlikeliest of points against Millwall in a game that saw us 2-0 down with only five minutes left on the clock. It was a game which saw the Bees put in a sub par showing against a team who, whilst fighting for their survival, deserved nothing more than the win based on the performances of our respective teams.

But that’s football. It’s a 90 minute game and the Bees played it to the death.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

View from the terrace – Alex Pritchard takes the penalty for 2-1 on 85 mins

View from the terrace – Alex Pritchard takes the penalty for 2-1 on 85 mins

Tommy Smith tries to understand why he has been booked rather than awarded a penalty

Tommy Smith tries to understand why he has been booked rather than awarded a penalty

The real moment of truth….

15 Apr

It’s Tuesday morning and, with Brentford due to play Preston North End in three day’s time, I’ve just performed the latest part of the pre game ritual – checking out the referee. The Football League very handily publish this list in advance of all games so as supporters know which way the ‘Chance cards‘ of whistle blowing fate will land.

Will it be “Go to Jail. Go directly to Jail. Do not Pass Go. Do not collect £200” (Keith Stroud) or ‘Advance to Go’ (Gavin Ward who, to be fair, had a very good game at Griffin Park recently)?

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

A tale of two Russells as Bees win, again

23 Mar

Well – that was an exciting afternoon if not an odd evening. Brentford beat Coventry City yesterday to further strengthen their position in the promotion slots along side Wolves, after Leyton Orient were held at Walsall. However, the post match TV viewing, which we’ll get to shortly, proved somewhat odd.

Of course, there’s no better place to start than at Griffin Park where Brentford wrapped up a 3-1 win in a game that had everything bar the kitchen sink thrown into the first twenty minutes.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

A tough test approaches for Warbs

22 Mar

It seems that Brentford and Coventry City have more in common than just the League One campaign, following our victory over Leyton Orient last weekend. I’m not going to conduct the (metaphorical) autopsy on referee Robert Madley again – its here if you fancy reliving the pain and pleasure – suffice to say that he has been demoted to fourth officialdom this weekend, where the Everton faithful can suffer the vagaries of his timekeeping  (amongst other things).

That said, it was interesting to read the comments of Coventry manager Steven Pressley earlier in the week. As supporters, our natural inclination is to ignore the good referees and lambast those who have a less than favourable performance. And generally, these last two seasons, Brentford fans have been somewhat vocal as we’ve had less than our rub of the green.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.