Tag Archives: goodison park

Who will fall apart? How hard might ‘the curse’ bite?

13 May

Come on already Sunday. Our trip to Everton cannot come soon enough with Brentford racing towards the end of the season and desperate to see what our final position may be. Not to mention who will be staying with us in the Premier League in 2022-23. A challenge for which both Leeds United and the Toffees were handed a huge boost when Mike Jackson of Burnley was named manager of the month for April. As if their next game wasn’t a tough enough challenge (Tottenham away), the Turf Moor outfit now have the added albatross of the MOTM curse hanging around their neck. We all know how that one goes – win the award ; lose the next game. Something enshrined in footballing folklore as the only greater harbinger of doom than a pre-match visit from ever popular BBC roving reporter Mark Clemmit.

We’ve covered that ground on these pages many times. Albeit worth recalling the quasi-scientific study undertaken in 2014-15 to try and put some meat on the bones of the claim that any club hosting Clem for a Football League Show feature would subsequently fail to win. A season long analysis followed which saw only 7(seven) victories for teams he visited. Out of 30 reports.

He started with short term Leeds United manager David Hockaday (who saw his new team lose 2-0 at Millwall) and finished with the consummate example of the Clem effect as Bournemouth scooped the Championship title at the expense of promotion rivals rival Watford. The Hornets lead with all other results going their way, the title was in their grasp. With the BBC showing 90 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday proved themselves the ultimate party poopers as Atdhe Nuhiu levelled things up for the Owls in stoppage time. And there it finished at 1-1. The title lost, with the final goal. All under Clem’s watchful eye.

Clem finished his season at Watford – who lost the title in the 90th minute

I don’t have the figures for Manager Of the Month. Thomas Frank and Brentford can count themselves truly unlucky not to have scooped the prize this time around. 10 points out of 12 including that epic win at Chelsea a sequence that, one would have thought, made him a shoe in.

There you go. I’m happy to see Burnley on fire if that run has put the cat amongst the relegation pigeons. Now Everton and Leeds United are both in the mix. Now, Brentford have a genuine say in who will stay n the Premier League with us next season. Even if Burnley have the added pressure of a game at a Tottenham side whose thumping of Arsenal last night means the race for the Champions League spots is anything but over.

And that’s four…. an April that began at Chelsea not quite enough to see Thomas to the monthly prize

This Sunday is going to be intense. The Burnley game is on BT Sport at 12pm although you’ll need to follow on the wireless / ‘other sources’ if you want to keep pace with Leeds United – Brighton. 

Then, at 4.30pm, Brentford are up on Sky. The Everton game pushed back to this horrific time at the 11th hour, after most fans had already made their  transport chaos inflicted plans, in order to help West Ham prepare for the Europa League final. That worked well. They’ll just have to go on reminiscing about 1966 and the 1980 FA Cup final when it comes to talk of silverware. Trevor Broking with a header, apparently. If only somebody had menti…. etc etc etc 

Brentford, meanwhile, are left with an even trickier job. 5/2 the price on an away win. At least Thomas doesn’t have the extra jinx factor to contend with. That curse is a problem for Mick Jackson although I for one , hope he can beat it in what is sure to be a thriller at Tottenham. Let’s not go too far down that pun stern road though.

Instead, the priority has to be in hoping Everton and Burnley do the least badly out of the three teams slugging it out to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship. Victory for Brighton, Burnley and Brentford probably the best combination of results. 

If only football was that simple to call. That said, let’s not forget we ran the numbers through a super computer in early April. Despite the mockery that came with that prediction – in both the article and online – the suggestion that Norwich, Everton and Leeds would be the sides sent down is still looking as though 2 out of 3 may be called correctly. Albeit, hands need to be held about Watford’s chances. Truly, I (sorry, the computer algorithms) hadn’t factored just how genuinely abject they were.

Whether it is Everton or Leeds joining the Hornets and Norwich remains to be seen, of course. The next part of that plays out at the weekend and I cannot wait. 

Now, if Clem – who, to be fair, has seen very much a reversal of his anti-form in more recent seasons – could ensure he was set to ‘jinx mode’ and then go visit the Elland Road training ground first, that would be just marvellous.

Beesotted shared this yesterday. Any incentive needed…??

Until then, there’s the post-fact debrief from our last game – the 3-0 defeat of Southampton – for anybody who would to read more. Stranger things and all that…

Nick Bruzon

Vamos David Raya.

7 May

Three Premier League games to go. Brentford face Southampton this afternoon before next Sunday afternoon’s rearranged trip to Everton (the biggest stitch up since the Allies took the field in Escape To Victory) and then the season denouement at home to Leeds United. With Monday night’s defeat at Manchester United still niggling, a return to winning ways against The Saints would be marvellous for so many reasons.

I’m not gong to lie but the game at Old Trafford really irked me. Perhaps it was exhaustion after the huge trek there and back. Moreso, one undertaken after leaving a family weekend away early. That’s football though. The journey is part of it and, being fair, the travel element of this particular long haul was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the usual.

Pre-match optimism at Old Trafford eventually turned to frustration

No, for me Clive it was a combination of many other factors. Our own out-of-sorts approach, if we are being honest. Sure, show some respect to Manchester United and there history (lord knows, there were enough reminders of former glories hanging around the tired looking stadium) but this much? Some bright spells aside, we were largely on the back foot. Largely playing too deep. Unable to make any real penetration and lacking some of the usual spark. Where were the Brentford who dominated West Ham, obliterated Chelsea or ran rings around Tottenham?

Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the ultimate in marmite players. The pace and technique – amazing. World class. The ultimate ball tied to foot with a piece of string. The physique  – just jaw dropping. How can somebody be that fit and that athletic at any age, let alone at a point when most professionals would have hung up their boots? Truly, a model professional in more ways than one. 

For all that good stuff, there’s the bullshit side. The petulance. The backchat. The theatrical waving of arms. The histrionics. The ‘injuries’ and miracle cures. The snideness – yes, Rico fouled him but the initial move to that event was arguably started by the Portuguese show pony. On Monday, we had it all by the bucketload. 

As for the supporters… talk about entitlement. Talk about a bunch of fans whose approach was to turn up, shut up, wave a scarf and expect to win because they were once any good. Even the scheduled ‘protest’ turned into as big a non-event as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Xmas special once it became clear they were going to win the game.

United may be sixth in the Premier League but of all the away days undertaken this campaign, it was the grand, fanbase and team I’ve been left with the least respect for. Say what you want about Leeds United (and we will over the next two weeks, I am sure) nobody could deny the atmosphere at Elland Road was incredible. What a noise. What backing for their club. Oh, the irony that on that afternoon it was Brentford who fell apart and saw almost certain victory turn to a last gasp draw.

Elland Road – raucous

Anyway, long story short the game at Manchester United has left an unusually sour taste in the mouth. And I’m sorry for harping on but there you go. Oh to have Thomas Frank’s approach of 24 hours to dwell on any result then move on.

The plus side being that Southampton this afternoon sees a chance to get back on the horse. To make one last charge for the upper half of the table. To potentially end the day in tenth place if results go our way. Something that will have even more importance given we go to an Everton side desperate for points in eight day’s time….. 😉  

Imagine what another defensive nightmare at Everton might do to the league table…..

So, what do we think for today? Barcelona bound Sergi Canos (there’s not anybody actually believing that, is there? ) and Ethan Pinnock are 4th out still, although word from Thomas is that Everton is the hope for their return. Otherwise, with Ghoddos, Zanka and Frank the Tanks also injured, we’re the same sqaud as Monday. 

The obvious change is one to a traditional back four rather than three with wingbacks. We know how well that line up has worked against the right opposition in the last month or two and would give us that extra balance in midfield. More, given how deep Christian Norgaard found himself at Old Trafford – at times he looked like a fourth centre back. Then again, I said the same thing prior to the Chelsea game and look how that went? Thomas Frank remaining one step ahead of everyone and I am sure that will be the approach this afternoon.

Of probably more interest will be whether Josh Dasilva makes a start. He came off the bench against United and the prospect of seeing him and Christian Eriksen together for a prolonged period of time is now which has supporters’ drooling. Two of our most technically gifted players in the heart of the midfield could be a joy to behold. Who makes way being the real conundrum. Four in to three just won’t go and Vitaly, who makes up that quartet, would be very hard done by to miss out. A wonderful problem to have.

Southampton won’t just roll over, of course. Like the Bees, they are also on 40 points. They will be looking to end the season with a bang after hitting the buffers in recent weeks. April saw just one win from six games played. A period that included the 6-0 tanking administered by Chelsea. Something as unusual in not just the heaviness of the defeat but their becoming one of the few clubs not to put at least three goals past the Stamford Bridge outfit in a month that saw our own Bees start that colossal Chelsea haemorrhaging. 

Its all our fault. It all our fault….

Still, for me today is all about us. The opposition an almost byproduct of needing to win. Of wanting to win. Wanting to get back to the brilliant Brentford we’ve been spoiled so much with in recent weeks. Of course we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win. To expect victory on demand. That’s where we came in to this piece and that sort of approach (see also: fans who thing success equates to stadium capacity) sucks. Victory needs to be earned. Fans need to be loud. Players need to want it.

It doesn’t matter whether we face Southampton or Chelsea. Liverpool or Leeds. The approach needs to be the same. From everybody. The fans got their part spot on at Old Trafford. Here’s to the rest of the pieces in that puzzle falling in to place today.   

I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Oh, and if anyone needs a new song this afternoon, what about something for our own man in nets?

How we’ve missed him at times this season.

How good to have him back and at his best.

Granted, this one starts off a little bit Dogtanian but what simpler refrain than channeling Righeira’s early 80’s Europe classic…

Vamos, David Raya. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….

If nothing else, certainly less of a mouthful than the Christian Eriksen song which I still can’t get right. I know of at least one West Stand observer keen to drive this one forward. Top, top plan.

And until then, here’s the Manchester United debrief…

Nick Bruzon

Excitement continues to build as we run out of E’s.

5 Feb

Brentford are back on the road to Wembley. Back in action after a two week break that has seen everything from ‘that’ video nonsense through exciting news from Aston Villa, transfer deadline day and possibly the biggest story in world football. Not even Frank Lampard taking charge at today’s hosts, Frank Lampard’s Everton, came close to the announcement that Christian Eriksen has joined The Bees on a six-month contract. The former manager of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea having to play second fiddle to the quite wonderful news out of Lionel Road. The ‘feel good’ story of the year has seen shirts flying off the shelves with so many names printed that the club have reportedly running out of E’s.

Insert usual file photo

Thomas Frank would use the press conference ahead of today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Goodison Park to talk about the great Dane, saying, “It’s potentially the greatest signing ever for the club. The day that Christian steps onto the pitch will be an unbelievable day. What happened to him in June was a shock for all of us. To see him out on the pitch soon is going to be a big day.

Hear, hear !! We could talk about Christian all day long but, for now, with the player due to start his first training session this Monday our focus has to be on Everton. On the FA Cup. On the second part of a three act play between the Bees and the Toffees. On our first visit to Goodison Park in, well, a long, long time. Most Brentford fans, TC aside, won’t have set foot inside this famous old stadium before. It is a trip that has long been in the diary for the Premier League but now we get a sneak preview.

Our second trip to Liverpool this month

The atmosphere is sure to be an electric one. The fans of both clubs well, well up for it. Will Everton, freed from the shackles of Rafa Benitez, be a rejuvenated force under the former Chelsea and Frank Lampard’s Derby County manager? Or is this a chance to catch them cold as they adjust to this latest attempt at finding the right man to steer them back to the upper echelons of the league table / stay up?

If you count the temporary double stints for Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth, Lampard is the 11th occupant of the Everton hotseat since David Moyes ended his 11-year stint in 2013.

The first encounter between our clubs this season was a game of football. That’s the factual term and about as exciting as we could get. It ended in victory for Brentford. 1-0. Ivan Toney doing what he does from the penalty spot. The Bees grateful for the points and we park it there. Everton abject. Dreadful. The wrath of Benitez nothing but a spent force. A manager sleepwalking to his inevitable demise.  Lucas Digne, doing his very best to make friends and influence people in a display of bad sportsmanship best consigned to the waste bin of history. Still, he’s Steven Gerrard’s problem now. The pantomime villain now at Aston Villa and so the Brentford supporters denied the opportunity to greet him in the obvious style. Perhaps, instead, that honour will fall to everyone’s favourite Brazilian.

Pele. Alisson. Ronaldinho. Socrates. Zico. Err… Allan. He remains, even now, an enigmatic figure in our house. Talking to our Harry about the most unexotic sounding South American since Fred, the subject of this somewhat random cult-hero (see also: Lucas Biglia) was discussed.  “Allan tomorrow. What are we going to do?

H is only 8 years old but is well, well aware of how football works. Friendships and admiration count for nothing when the whistle blows. There’s no half and half love in there. “Boo him all game, dad.

Apologies, Allan. Don’t blame me, blame the kid.

Allan

As for the Brentford team, well there was great news out of the press conference. Thomas Frank confirming we’ll put out a strong team with Matthias Jensen and Rico Henry both recovered from that awful moment in the game against Wolves. Then there’s David Raya and Josh Dasilva who both played for an hour in the behind closed doors game with Aston Villa during the week. Thomas updating us with some potentially wonderful stuff:

David looked his normal self. I just need to speak to my staff now to see if David can start on Saturday. That was Josh’s third game. You can see three or four of those top actions where you just smile.

Personally speaking, I’d imagine Thomas will bide his time and hold David back for Crystal Palace. Obviously we’re all on the outside looking in so who knows how strong he is atm. He’s been out such a long time that this suddenly feels like 0-60 in 0.5 seconds. I mean, if he’s fit and good then that’s wonderful news but given his importance to our team, one can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation. There’s no point taking a risk this close to his return unless , of course, he’s back up at 100%. The announcement of our team by ‘official’ at 2.01pm will be an interesting one, that’s for sure !

Until then, safe travels everyone. Let’s do this. If nothing else, off the back of Everton fan and Absolute radio DJ Andy Bush giving the Bees an on-air kicking last night when describing this as our ‘one year tour’ of the Premier League. Can’t think why he had been prodded – whether it wsas the ask he play Down, Down by The Quo or something else – but there you go 😉  . 

That said… marvellous as it was that he obliged with a smattering of the Double Denim, how wonderful would it be to make the king of the Indie disco get a plate with some words and a knife and a fork….

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Liverpool, Manchester United and Christian Eriksen latest plus the video to make our eyes light up.

18 Jan

Another day in the non-stop rollercoaster ride that is Premier League life. Brentford have done with Liverpool and we’re now set to host Manchester United . There’s FA Cup news out of Everton plus more midfield news than you can shake a stick at with Christian Eriksen of Denmark being just one of the names out there at the moment. 

Could we actually do this?

Which, with all due respect to Liverpool and Manchester United, needs to be where we start. The GPG have had the story building for over a week but now the rest of the world seems to have caught up with this. The BBC and several newspaper sites confirming that Brentford have been in touch with the Danish midfielder who has been released from his contract with Inter Milan. Serie A rules not allowing the sort of pacemaker which he has had fitted following that terrifying moment over the summer at Euro 2020.  

109 international caps. A pedigree in domestic football that also takes in Ajax and Spurs. 36 goals for his country from a variety of midfield positions. There are no words needed to describe his talent and word on the street is that there are a number of other top flight clubs looking to sign him. However, the actual word out of TW8 being that talks HAVE taken place between Brentford and the player about a six-month deal. Now, the inevitable negotiations begin.  

I can’t imagine somebody of his stature comes cheap, that’s for sure. How big a draw the power of Thomas Frank and the other Danes on our playing staff over wages will be remains to be seen. I’m drooling at the prospect of seeing him alongside Christian Norgaard. Chuck in Mathias Jensen for the full triumvirate. Right now, its more the case of hoping Thomas can do his thing to sell the Brentford project to his fellow countryman. 

Likewise, and perhaps more importantly, being hugely grateful that we can even be having this conversation. The sheer awfulness of what happened over the summer needs no revisiting. The despair and panic felt at the time unable to be put into words. And that was just us watching on from back home. It’s not possible to even half imagine how it felt for his team mates and family after he suffered that on pitch cardiac arrest in the game against Finland.

Thankfully, of course, the medical staff and his own team mates worked wonders to bring him back following the emergency treatment administered at the time. Now he’s in wonderful health by all accounts and chomping at the bit to go again – even targetting a place at the World Cup in December.  

That journey has to start somewhere and Brentford are the ones at the forefront of looking to help him take that first step. Could it happen? Will it happen? Is an unveiling before Manchester United too far flung a dream to cling to? Might it all come to nothing? Fingers are certainly crossed with, I have no doubt, much more to come in the coming days. 

The other news to set tongues wagging concerned a player already on our books. With video footage to match. We’ve all seen the pictures of Josh Dasilva in recent weeks but now he’s been in actual match action. You know, kicking a ball and everything. 45 minutes at Jersey Road in a game with Havant and Waterlooville. The comeback is most definitely on and whilst it may take a while longer to be involved in full fat first team action, this is about as big a boost as they come. Feast your eyes on this. 

Elsewhere, we’ve now gone live with the post match player and performance review following the game at Liverpool. Who were the top five for Brentford? Who is ahead in the race to be our season long star man? Who should have been included but missed out? You can find the answers and catch up on that piece, here.

In other news, TAP limits for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Everton have been announced. The figure cited by Brentford ‘official’ means just about anyone who has seen us on the road can take the trip to Goodison Park on Saturday 5th February. Season Ticket Holders with 1200+TAPs will be able to book their guaranteed place from today. 6,000 tickets are, I believe, available and priced at just £15 these are sure to fly off the shelves. If nothing else, it gives a chance to complete the Stanley Park bingo card following Sunday’s game. 

Two for the price of one

Until then though, it’s almost time for another home game. The chance to have played all 19 clubs in the Premier League will finally arrive. Manchester United being the last of the outliers following their 11th hour Covid related cancellation request back in December. How long ago does that feel now? The delay has allowed us to welcome back Kris Ajer and strengthen our goalkeeping options, amongst others permutations. It seems like another lifetime away when we were talking about having to bring out 18 year old Matthew Cox against the Red Devils for his Brentford debut? Perhaps we still will although any change should it come will, surely, be in the direction of Jonas Lössl. 

Today’s press conference will be telling as to both injuries and team selection. Even if it does end up being dominated by talks of another Dane in Christian Eriksen. All that’s to come, of course. For now we need to focus on Manchester United and the chance to pick up another three points. They looked wobbly (the story of the season) against Aston Villa and may well be without Cristiano Ronaldo which, if nothing else, is disastrous news for all the ‘Can I have your shirt…?’ placard makers. 

Could we do it? Will we do it? There’s only one place to be to find out. Lionel Road. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon 

Everton lend a hand but are the players revolting?

18 Mar

Nobody could deny Thursday wasn’t interesting at Brentford. Matthew Benham’s cryptic clue was (I am assuming) unravelled when the news was announced that we’d signed striker Leandro Rodriguez on loan from Everton. Doctor, Knee, exit – Leandro, Rodriguez, Everton. Of course! I guess that’s why Matthew is the multi-millionaire club owner and I’m just the numpty on the terrace.

The signing of Leandro marks an attempt to arrest our barren patch in front of goal that came to a sad climax last weekend when, of course, head coach Dean Smith elected to go into the derby clash at QPR with no striker on the pitch. Whatever point he was trying to prove backfired spectacularly as the Bees failed to trouble the scorers and rarely looked like coming close.

That said, we are where we are and this can only be seen as a step in the right direction. The Everton youth production line has certainly been a beneficial one for the Bees in the past. Club captain Jake Bidwell and Adam Forshaw both joined Brentford from Goodison after initial loan spells whilst, but for injury, Conor McAleny and Chris Long both looked set for big things. Here’s hoping that, without wanting to put too much pressure on the young man’s shoulders, the Everton-Brentford connection can do it again.

The other interesting thing about this transfer, assuming you find this sort of thing interesting, was in regards to the announcement of the news. It’s often been noted how ‘off the pace’ we look compared to our rivals and, again, this would seem to have been the case yesterday looking at the release time of stories on the News Now website.

10.31: Everton striker Leandro Rodriguez leaves on loan. Liverpool Echo

10:59: Brentford sign Everton Uruguayan Forward Rodriguez. Beesotted

11:18: Dean Smith makes first Brentford signing as Everton striker joins on loan. Get West London

11:40: John Swift called-up to England Under-21 squad. Brentford FC – Official Site

13:09: Rodriguez Loaned To Brentford. Everton FC – Official Site

13:20: Leandro Rodriguez signs on loan from Everton. Brentford FC – Official Site

13:22: Brentford sign Everton’s Rodriguez. BBC

And with that, it was officially all ‘official’.

Leandro signs

Breaking – everywhere else first. Leandro puts pen to paper

I’m sure it was a case of waiting until the ink had dried on the paperwork but for Beesotted to be almost two and a half hours ahead of the club with this comm does make me wonder how they do it. And ‘official’ don’t. Or just can’t. Moreso as, whatever protests you’ll hear from fans/staff, Dave and Billy are pretty much on the money with everything they run on their site. Who was that last interview with? Oh yes, Matthew Benham.

No doubt the local press get wind of these things from their ‘sources’ and our hands are tied to an extent but, at least, surely we could ‘turn the key’ at the same time as Everton? Or had they just ‘gone rogue’?

Still, at least we were all ahead of the BBC whilst, unlike with Toumani, pictures of Leandro wearing a Brentford tracksuit hadn’t appeared all over social media two days earlier. Compared to that, three hours isn’t too bad in the grand scheme!

official

As somebody once said

The other news of real interest yesterday, where the club most definitely did have the lead, was the update given by Alan McCormack during the press conference from the Jersey Road media centre. The ‘live tweeting’ of press conference updates by ‘Brentford official’ HAS been a real positive in recent weeks. This one was no exception as Alan revealed that Jake Bidwell had orchestrated a ‘players-only meeting’ the Monday after the QPR debacle.

In a subsequent article that you can read in full on the club website, he has been quoted as saying , “We all sat on our own and we said what needed to be done: what needed to happen this week and every week towards the end of the season…..a few people said a few things. We spoke about what we are good at and what we need to do better. Everyone wants to win as much as the player beside them. The attitude of the players in training on Monday, Tuesday and today has been exceptional

 Wow. Are the players revolting? Is Dean losing his dressing room? Or was this a sign of Jake making his mark as captain and the squad facing up to those areas where perhaps they could be doing things differently? Let’s all hope this is very much the latter.

Either way, the last time we were advised of a frank ‘dressing room discussion’ came following the League One clash at Stevenage where Uwe was man enough to listen to his players and then tell all to Billy (Reeves, not Grant).

Following that, the rest was history. Stunning history . Brentford put it all behind them  to embark on that epic unbeaten run en-route to promotion and the Championship. Here’s hoping for more of the same against Blackburn on Saturday.

Three points and I’m sure we’ll celebrate like we’ve won the FA Cup. Now where have we heard that one before…?

Billy and Uwe

Uwe once elaborated on a frank discussion – the rest was history

Nick Bruzon

How to make friends and influence people…or not

29 May

As Brentford fans wait for the managerial void to be filled (May 30th being Mark Warburton’s last day in that role) there was plenty going on elsewhere yesterday as Southend United and Charlton Athletic did their best to alienate league rivals and supporters respectively. Meanwhile, the rumour mill was linking Everton and Brentford, again, although this time with a player moving away from Griffin Park.

First up though, social media. I’ve long had a sense of nervous trepidation when clubs use their official ‘twitter’ accounts for (alleged) comedy purposes or ‘getting down with the kidz’. At best it falls flat on it’s face in a cringeworthy mess; at worst it is nothing more than bullying. Very few get it right.

I’ll spare you another lecture on #trophyfriends – our own efforts in this field are legion (whether through the official club account or employees stating their opinions regarding the team). That said, Mark Warburton and (especially) Matthew Benham seem the exception to this rule with the latter providing a number of genuinely amusing moments over the season and his use of cryptic video clues to reveal transfer news.

Matthew Benham - genius and winner of social media

Matthew Benham – genius and winner of Twitter.

Then Charlton Athletic came along and seemed to buck the ‘official trend’ . Their comment when all at the Goldsands were celebrating a promotion for Bournemouth stopped the football world dead in its tracks and made us all think….what if? This, from the club that had earlier released the security camera footage of a couple ‘scoring’ on the centre spot after breaking into The Valley (not a euphemism) – later revealed to be a stunt to promote pitch hire.

Charlton Athletic - former kings of twitter

Charlton Athletic – former kings of twitter

Then yesterday it all came crashing down.

Seemingly, the club have taken exception to one of their supporters having the temerity to suggest they invest more on the pitch than off it. Putting aside his grammatical faux pas (‘there’ rather than ‘their’ ranks alongside ‘expresso’ as typos to infuriate) was there any other reason to respond in such cutting fashion? Moreso, via that most heinous of social media weapons – a meme (surely something which should be outlawed by the Geneva convention)?

Putting down their own fans - via meme….

Putting down their own fans – via meme….

But if this act of humiliating/bullying (delete as applicable) a supporter in front of thousands was bad enough, Southend United went one better (or should that be worse?) in regards to Leyton Orient.

In a time when we are, rightly, being constantly asked to show respect on and off the pitch, they’ve really let things fester after a spat that seems to have started in February. Revenge may be a dish best served cold but this is nothing more than kicking a fellow team in the nuts when they are down. Let’s see if they live to regret this in 12 months time…

Southend United - gracious winners

Southend United – gracious winners

As for Brentford and Everton, several news sources were suggesting the Goodison Park team are showing an interest in England U-20 star, Moses Odubajo. Hopefully, this is just one of the numerous rumours floating around cyberspace that we will be deluged with as the papers desperately look for something to talk about over the summer months.

Moses has made a fantastic step up from League One to the Championship; moreso, as somebody who started as a winger and had to be shifted to right back after injury to Alan McCormack – a position he went on to occupy for the rest of the season.

Mind you, it shows how well we have done even for it to be suggested that Everton are looking at a player form the Brentford first team, rather than us raiding their youth system as has happened so many times in the last few seasons.

And finally, in the latest updated from the FIFA scandal, Sepp Blatter released another statement saying that he was totally unaware of any wrongdoing and couldn’t possibly be expected to police FIFA. Or, rather, football as he conveniently removed as much reference to his own, allegedly, corrupt organisation as was possible.

In the end it all ended up sounding a little bit ‘Bart Simpson’…

Any excuse to crowbar The Simpsons into this blog.

The amalgamated Last Word season compendium: Tales from the football village (from Saunders territory to unchartered ground), is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full.

Running from July 2014 – May 2015 it contains some additional material and is available for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme. Including all the info on our own social media highs and lows, along with a full review of the season just gone, it’s the e-book that nobody is talking about – but that you might well enjoy.

   

Brentford supporter’s marathon trek begins today

11 Oct

What do you get when you add 92 plus 1?

10 Sep

As football challenges go, this one is up there with the best of them.

Regular users of ‘Twitter’ may have seen Brentford supporter Simon Cox’s recent postings about ’92 plus 1’. It’s his (and three friends) attempt to drive to each of the 92 league grounds in the top four divisions in a mere 92 hours.

Their 2,600 mile journey will start and finish at Wembley, sandwiched between the two World Cup qualifiers on 11th and 15th October. All of this in an effort to raise £10k of sponsorship on behalf of ‘Help for Heroes’.

I caught up with Simon in the build up to his challenge, to learn more.

Why on earth are you doing this? It’s complete craziness I know, but it’s something we as a team are looking forward to and that I’ve always wanted to do.

The visit to all 92 football clubs has been done in 89 hours and 94 hours before, but never sandwiched between two England internationals.

More to the point, how on earth will you do this? I’ve done the maths and that’s a distance of 28 miles an hour, every hour, for 92 hours. Forget the maths! We won’t have time to worry about it! It’s simply ‘do or die’ from the challenge point of view. We’ll get in a car and drive. The trick is to keep the vehicle going as long as possible without stopping and we have 100 stops planned. 92 football clubs, 6 fuel stops, 1 Nandos and 1 KFC!

Looking at your website, you have got a number of former players involved. Who has put their hands up to help? We have been touched by the support of people in football. It all started with a tweet from Peter Shilton, which has led to former professionals joining us on part of the challenge.

Bees Legend Paul Gibbs is joining us at QPR and will follow us across South West London. Micky Hazard (Spurs and Chelsea) has kindly offered to do the North London leg with us, whilst former Leicester City and Cambridge United striker Trevor Benjamin will be joining us between Sunderland and Newcastle.

Norwich City legend Daryl Sutch is joining us around Norwich and Wayne Fereday, once the fast man in football I believe, will be joining us on the South Coast.

We may have a couple of others to unveil nearer the time. It’s truly amazing that they feel they wanted to help us in some form.

Can supporters turn up at the grounds to come and meet you? Yes! We are encouraging football fans to meet us at their local grounds, even if they don’t support that club. Football fans from all clubs live around the world so why not be proud of your club and show your support for our challenge and charity! We would love to complete the challenge with photographs of fans across the UK. This is about uniting together for our forces.

What constitutes ‘visiting’ a ground? Is it a case of get out, get a picture and get going? Or do you have any more elaborate plans for certain stadia? For us, this is a challenge against time and time will not allow us to take in a game, have pitch side visits etc. It’s about driving to the grounds, checking in on social media to prove we have arrived and then taking pictures of us there.

Will your website be publishing a progress report / details of where & when you will be over the course of the 92 hours? The best place for progress will be our social media places and full directions will be on our www.92plus1.co.uk website. This will contain updates of the challenge, photographs and general football banter!

Will pictures of yourself at the grounds be published over the course of the challenge? Oh yes! We want people to see who we are and why we are doing what we are doing.

How and when will you sleep (will you sleep)? We will sleep on our travels in the vehicle. It’s not going to be comfortable, but neither is sleeping rough on the front line, which our forces people do to ensure we can sleep comfortably.

Tell us a bit about the four of you doing this? We are four football fans uniting for the 92plus1 challenge. Mark is currently serving in the RAF at Brize Norton and is an Aston Villa fan. The minute we received a good luck message from Paul McGrath, he turned into a five year old!

Darren is a Liverpool fan who served for 16 years in the RAF before being medically discharged. He enjoys doing charity work and is currently a college lecturer in Norfolk.

Mike is a businessman from Milton Keynes and was a former professional footballer at Wycombe Wanderers before he had his career cut short with injury and then there’s me, the lunatic, who runs my own business, but enjoys living every day as if it’s my last.

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(Simon Cox at a Wembley press conference – the rest of the team, presumably, held up in traffic)

Is there any ground you are looking forward to visiting in particular? Griffin Park, of course! I love the place and it will always be close to me. It’s a proper football ground. Personally, I am looking forward to visiting the various statues outside the grounds, seeing the Hillsborough memorial as I’ve never seen it and sparing a few moments of thoughts for those caught up in that tragic event. I am also looking forward to visiting the smaller clubs like Fleetwood and Morecambe whilst I’ve always bottled the trip to Carlisle so at least I can cross that one off the list!

I’ve never been to Old Trafford, Goodison Park or The Stadium of Light so they will be new experiences.

I read on Sunday that you may end up having to wear a ‘Fu***m shirt at Griffin Park? You support Brentford – surely this can’t be true -? How and why could this happen? I’ve done some crazy things in my life and this is up there with them. Not the challenge but the shirt thing. I have friends who follow the other “club” and trust me, the shirt was offered very quickly! They know this will hurt but it’s all in a good cause! We have a target of what we would like to raise for our charity and if it means pulling on a Fulham shirt for ten seconds, I will.

TV’s ‘Treasure Hunt’ had Kenneth Kendall. ‘The Interceptor’, Annabelle Croft.  Do you have a crack team at ‘home base’ (your control centre, not the DIY superstore) to give you help as the challenge unfolds? Yes we have some fantastic friends and family who will help us and feed us information. To be honest, the break away from the computer will do me the world of good! Saying that, I will be taking my laptop with me. I won’t be able to rest without communication so we will be geared up with communication on board.

Image  (TV’s ‘The Interceptor’ – Simon & team will be in something a bit more modest than a Maserati) 

What will be the toughest part of the journey? I think that will be the long drawn out stretch to Plymouth from Bristol Rovers. The leg of the journey is 126 miles and will see us over the 2,000-mile mark so it’s going to be mentally draining.

How can people get involved? There are a number of ways and we appreciate people’s help. They can help on social media by retweeting our tweets, sharing our content on Facebook and helping to follow us on Foursquare.

People can also visit our website www.92plus1.co.uk , download our flyer and email to people, promote it on their own social media or generally display the poster in their local pub or chip shop window.

Donations are gratefully received and we appreciate all the support we are receiving from our sponsors. There is a link on our page for donations and we are inviting people to donate to our nominated charity for this challenge. What our forces personnel go through in conflict is a concern and what both Mark and Darren have seen in service is the reason why we have opted for Help for Heroes as our charity.

How much interest have you had from the media and will we see you promoting this anywhere in the build up / over the course of the trip itself? The media interest has been amazing with local radio stations around the UK interested in covering the story. Phil Parry had us on his show a few months ago and we’re delighted to have received interviews from BBC Radio Gloucester, BBC Radio Sheffield and Heart FM in Wiltshire. There will be more to come!

The British Forces Broadcasting Services are currently promoting the challenge across their network as well which means it’s going as far as Cyprus, Germany and the Falkland Islands.

If all goes to plan, what time are you due to reach Wembley on October 15th? Presumably you have a car park space sorted? Parking space? What’s that! Yes of course we have one lined up. We are due back at Wembley at 5pm IF everything runs smoothly, but we all know what our roads are like!

And how on earth will you sit through an England game? They can be hard enough work at the best of times, let alone after you’ve pushed yourself through this. We won’t be watching the first game if I have my way! There is no way I will be able to sit still for 90 minutes for the first game when we need to go on the challenge. The second one will depend on how we are feeling. It’s a big challenge and it will be tiring and the last thing I want to do is sleep through a game – the last time I did that was in the 2002 Play Off Final against Stoke City when the beer beat me and I can just about recall the national anthems!

Simon – it’s been a pleasure. Good luck. And I hope we can catch up after the event so you can tell us how it’s all gone Thank you for your time Nick. I would be more than happy to catch up with you even if it’s to tell you how I really wore that F***ham shirt…….

If you’d like to read more about the challenge and follow the team’s progress, you can link to their website or twitter address of @92plus1. You can also donate here .

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‘A life without risk is no life at all’

25 Aug

Not my words (as ever) but those from the home page of Conor McAleny’s Twitter account. When I first wrote this on Sunday, news as to the extent of his injury in the game against Walsall had yet to be released. The only real information we had was Uwe’s interview from Saturday night where he described it as ‘Very, very nasty’.

The way he went to ground and the length of time he was being treated left us fearing the worst but hoping things weren’t as bad as they looked. Although there has been no official statement from either Brentford or Everton, Conor himself took to Twitter on Sunday evening to confirm:

Absolutely devastated about breaking my leg yesterday.. Never been this down in my life. No point dwellin on it now because thats football.. .. And these things happen. I know for a fact i’ll come back a stronger person physically and mentally. Thanks for the kind words people x “

It’s terrible news for a player whom, from the brief glimpses we have already been afforded as to his prodigious talent, would seem to have a fantastic future ahead of him.  So I’ll wish him good luck, a speedy recovery and fingers crossed we’ll see you back at Griffin (and Goodison) Park sooner than later.

On the pitch, it was a case of three more points in an exciting, albeit buttock-clenching, game. All the more impressive given the weather was wetter than Coldplay and Keane composing lovesongs whilst drinking dilute tea on the ocean floor. Brentford dominated the first half and Adam Forshaw must have thought he had bettered his goal against Sheffield United with a rasping shot that had the goalkeeper beaten all ends up.

ImageIf anything, he hit it too well and but for the crossbar (how many times have we heard THAT at Griffin Park?) could have had another contender for ‘goal of the season’. Certainly it was a strike reaching the 110% marker on the ‘Wellness scale of shot methods’.

 

 

 

 

 

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.