Tag Archives: GPG

Thomas, frank. Bees boss gives magnificent insight on GPG webcast.

10 May

A week on from the final game that never was. Brentford v Barnsley has played out in our heads a thousand times but is yet to take place in any meaningful fashion. Griffin Park is still standing but nobody is allowed in. Players or fans. A scene that is repeated at grounds all over the country, with supporters still wondering how or when football may return. How we’ll go up – automatic or play-offs ? What form will football take? Where will it be played? Might Leeds United somehow fall apart, again? All questions for which there are no meaningful answers, at least in public, although the early morning run around TW8 yesterday saw us still in the thralls of a ghost town. Tumbleweed blowing down the street, bushes growing denser and Gary Neville’s words ( in his guise as co-owner of Salford City) that it is extremely unlikely Leagues One and Two will return this season still ringing in the ears. If true, may that even feed further upwards and what impact would that have on the way the two highest divisions in the country play out?

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Griffin Park still standing – the floodlights still there

Whatever happens, the answers won’t be good. Or, at the least, met with universal agreement. What can you do though? Stay safe. Don’t be a dick. Think of the frontline workers and stay home, no matter how tough it may be or how tempting to venture out in to the sunshine for picnics and sun tan sessions rather than the permissible exercise sessions. The quicker this is all over the quicker we may be able to get back to living our lives in some sort of normality. Without the fear of catching a horrific virus simply because some self-absorbed hipster, to whom the two metre social distancing rules don’t apply,  struts too close to you. See also: pavement cyclists.        

It’s madness. As much the fact that we have hipsters in Brentford these days. But there you go. Unprecedented times ( he says whilst reaching for the Coronavirus bingo card. I would also accept : ‘I trust this finds you well’ and ‘stay safe’ for a full house). Still, wonderful sentiments and a sign that this is the new normal.

None of which changes the fact that football remains way, way off the agenda. At least, the playing side of it. We at least had the consolation of another GPG Lockdown special on Saturday afternoon, with none other than Thomas Frank occupying the hot seat. A huge audience were tuned in to hear his thoughts on the season so far and, as importantly,  what may come next.

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Getting ready to go. Cut to Thomas in 5..4..3… 

My word. What a man. What a session. What honesty and openness. What stories and insight. There was talk of Jansson and Benrahama’s brilliance. The acceleration in Josh Dasilva’s game. Ollie Watkins. The defence. Our fitness and injury concerns – all bang on track for the ‘pre-season’ in June. If that is what happens. Thomas explained how he thought the sqard would react and be treated/ used in the final run in. How games might play out. The answer to whether Pontus would have started at Fulham – no, being the decision (albeit fit).

Likewise, talk of his own positives so far. His own approach to the squad, the fans and transfers – where it seems the policy of ‘no dickheads – personality over raw talent’ remains as key as ever. There was discussion about his fellow managers / head coaches and how we had played against certain opponents. Likewise, how we would play if we met them again – Nottingham Forest, anyone? 

Despite being in Denmark at present  – something Thomas confirmed although the obligatory Carlsberg  on his kitchen shelf was a tell tale sign – he remains in daily contact with his players and staff. The attitude sounds Uber-positive and you can tell he is chomping at the bit to get the job finished. To get Brentford into the top flight and who he will call up when that happens.

There were parts that, as he exhorted us, must “stay inside the room” .  It will be interesting to see how much of this , if any, is left on the cutting room floor when the YouTube video is released. Be there or miss out, the message of the day. Let’s hope those who were present return the faith and trust invested in them by this most remarkable of individuals.

It was another wonderful afternoon and something that, whilst we’ve said so many times, needs repeating – only at Brentford. Our approach and our size, where everyone seems to know everyone, makes this possible. The willingness of our top brass to put themselves on the line, testament to the two-way respect that exists. The early season keyboard warriors must have missed the memo for this one or couldn’t get an internet signal from under their rocks.

Dan Suh

The questions continued for two hours plus

Hats off to Thomas. Kudos to Trevor and his team for not only arranging this but then co-ordinating the session. Massive thanks, also, to the fans as without them there’d have been no questions. There was never going to be a danger of that though and, personally, having a list of questions as long as my arm could have listened to Thomas speak all day long. 

The only real disappointment of the session being that Greville’s webcam was in the front room rather than the usual hub of activity and excitement that his his kitchen.

Still, at least he was wearing clothes for this one 😉   

Nick Bruzon

Yes!!!! An incredible afternoon sees dreams come true (for a while).

3 May

What a quite fantastic end to the season. Brentford have only gone and done it. Promotion to the Premier League assured after tonking Barnsley in the last ever game at Griffin Park. A third bracketing of the season, after the 7(seven)-0 win at home to Luton and the same score in the obliteration of Fulham at the Cottage, saw us leave the Championship to take on the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa next season. With us come Leeds United who, despite falling apart (again), had enough in the tank to get over the line. There were tears at the Hawthorns where that unexpected favour from the Loftus Road mob denied them automatic promotion but you have to fancy their chances in the play offs.

Yes, that’s definitely what happened. Our season ending in style. Tears of joy at what we’ve achieved ; sadness at saying goodbye to our home for the last 116 years. Fans coming together as one to celebrate and commiserate. Looking forward to seeing little old Brentford in the top flight. Leeds United still unable to escape from our shadow. Fulham looking enviously towards our part of West London and hoping they may get lucky in the play-offs.

Some people are on the pitch - Juge's penalty v Preston saw a wonderful denouement

Some people are on the pitch.. etc etc

And then I stepped out of the shower. The Championship table is still stuck on: played 37. Nobody able to say they have definitely gone up to join Champions elect Liverpool. A team who have still not, mathematically, taken the crown from Manchester City despite the most blitzkrieg approach to a campaign in living memory. Brentford fans denied the chance to say goodbye to Griffin Park and now not knowing if we ever will.

Yesterday was brutal from so many respects. Our chance denied by these most cruel and devastating of global circumstances. People sitting tight on lockdown as we mostly (say in ; don’t be a dick) play our part in helping to try and stop the spread of this soul-destroying virus. I know what has to be done and of course we’ll obey Lockdown. Yet I’d be lying if I said yesterday was fun. It was awful being stuck inside when the only home I wanted to be in was Griffin Park.

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Reality was soul destroying

I wrote the piece on how that felt yesterday morning. It was a column that, being honest, I had no idea if I wanted to start or even would. The feeling upon getting up was just so awful and only got worse as the morning progressed. In the end, it was a case of downing an espresso or two, sitting at the keyboard and seeing what words fell out. The results are here and were, in retrospect, quite cathartic. 

Sure, they didn’t help me feel any better but the response from our fans was life affirming. Not just the kind words on social media but the fact that it quickly became apparent how so many of us were going through the same thing. Of course, we were all going to be missing out on ‘that’ game but to hear and read people being so open about how they felt was great. 

And I use that word in the loosest sense. Of course, one wouldn’t want fellow supporters to be feeling anything like I did – all that emotion that had been experienced and accumulated since my first game back in 1979 unable to let out in one, final, scream of Brrreeeeeeennnnntttt-fffforrrrrdddd. 

I was flat. Low. All over the shop. The early morning run to the shops, with the selected route conveniently looping around the deserted stadium, making it even worse. It should have been a hive of activity at that point. Instead, Brentford was like ghost town. My mind playing all sorts of cruel tricks, trying to imagine what it would have been like.

I swear Jota winked at me as I limped past the main gates on Braemar Road.

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Regulation exercise saw an early morning run to the shop. Oh, Jota 😦

Yet to read so many of us sharing the same experience and going through such similar emotions was, bizarrely, like some form of cyber-hug. Despite being ripped apart from each other, we’ve never felt closer together.

Griffin Park, Brentford and #FarewellGriffinPark were all trending on Twitter for most of the day as the fans united. Not just to shed a tear but also to share their special memories of a home that we’ll be doing well to see again. Instantgram a sea of glorious images.

It wasn’t easy. It was never going to be. Popular music’s Hard-Fi adding further salt to the wound later in the day by confirming they’d have played their first show together in six years as a means of saying goodbye to the ground. Frontman Richard Archer being a huge Brentford fan, of course. Here’s hoping Adam Bluetone and Rhino from The Quo were also lined up. Brentford-fest – just imagine….

I think if the club had come out and said they were wearing a special kit for that final game it would just about have finished me off. Thankfully they stayed silent on that subject. And most, to be fair.

In part I suspect this was to let the fans ‘grieve’ on their own. Equally, it would have been nice had they at least acknowledged the significance of the day. Perhaps that will come. Perhaps ignoring it was their way of saying we WILL be back.

You never know…..

The other super positive of the day was Andy Scott, who was the latest guest on the regular GPG webcast. My word it was good. Unexpectedly so. Entertaining. Honest. Reflective. Insightful. Like Martin Allen, a man who connected with the fans – not just at the time but even in the answering of every question. It really felt personal.

He was candid about things he’d got wrong. Celebratory about what had gone well. Poignant about Rob Rowan, with lavish praise being poured on a man who the more we learn about the more we realise just what an incredible individual we have lost. What an amazing part of the Brentford family he was. 

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Andy Scott was the latest guest

And he was funny. The story about Kevin Dearden, Ron Noades’ kitchen and a pogo stick one that had me laughing for what felt like the first time all day. As the GPG Twitter feed noted afterwards:

Riveting meetup with Andy Scott. Maybe the best one yet. You couldn’t ask for more from Andy than this. It’s all in there, incl answering @samsaunders7 ‘s questions from last week (at the very end Sam!).

Forget Netflix, this is well worth a 2h15m binge.

And they are right. It was fascinating stuff. Entertaining. You can find it below. Put your feet up, sit back and enjoy.    

Great work,GPG and Andy. Thank you.

Next weekend’s guest promises to be very special. With Trevor unable to name them on the yesterday’s session, given the announcement is going to be made alongside the club next week, draw whatever conclusions you must from the below tweet published this morning…..

Until then, dreams of football remain just that, dreams. Will we go up? Could it be Manchester City and Liverpool at Lionel Road? Whenever that may be.

Might we end up playing out this campaign behind closed doors in neutral stadia, as is being suggested more and more? 

I’d oppose that suggestion 100% if so – just think of the unfair advantage it would give Fulham.

Nick Bruzon

Are these our three most unusual shirts?

21 Apr

Another weekend has gone by and the story is a familiar one. We’ve one last away trip (Stoke City) this Saturday and then that last ever game at Griffin Park, Brentford v Barnsley, on Saturday week. It should be the most exciting of times yet in reality we are all stuck in limbo. There are still nine games left to play and nobody has any clue whether it will be Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion or somebody else who eventually joins the Bees in automatic promotion to the Premier League. Instead, we’re delving that bit deeper into the historical kit bag looking for buried treasure.

Despite the lack of action, everybody has done their very best to keep supporters engaged. We’ve had the weekly GPG webcasts, classic match re-reuns and all sorts on Twitter. Whether the ultimate 5-a-side team, the Leyton Orient promoted FIFA 20 tournament or even last weekend’s World Cup of Brentford shirts. That was eventually won by the current away kit – the one we’ve been wearing for season 2019-2026 (at least, that’s how it feels at the moment). 44% of votes went in favour of this absolute stunner as the nostalgia vote was split three ways between Hummel and a pair of Chads.

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Congratulations, Umbro

We also covered the story of the shirt that never was and even managed to obtain comments from Michael Dobson. A Brentford legend and one of the two youth team players given the somewhat dubious ‘honour’ of revealing that to the world for the first, and last, time.

Screenshot 2020-04-14 at 06.51.22Now, the GPG have tracked down his partner in (fashion) crime, Lee Tunnell, who tells us, “Wow ,where did you find this .Being shouted and screamed at by millwall fans as I had to walk around the pitch and and a few bees fans just shaking their head at me(the kit) in disgust” before adding…. “York city ? I must’ve of associated the abuse we got with millwalls reputation .yeah there was some spitting, I didn’t get any coins tho (I would’ve pocketed em) not sure about dobbo” .

 

Yet it was whilst digging in to this one via the Brentford Big Book Of The 90s , and also helping the research for the World Cup of shirts, that I’ve been reminded of three rarely seen shirts. As a kit nerd with more than a few Brentford shirts in the collection already, these three strike me as possibly the most unusual and rarely seen of anything we’ve worn in recent times. Do they even exist anywhere? Does anyone have one? With a 2004 club shop variant ‘away’ going for over £80 on eBay last week, what price would these even fetch on the open market? Would anybody even care?

For once, we’re not even talking about the legendary Adidas 1980. We’ve all seen that whilst many fans acquired the remake in that brief period before Aztec retro were forced to close their doors. No. For me, Clive, these are the three that are rarer than a Terry Butcher win.

1997-98 Cobra home – long sleeves. The normal shorter sleeved version is nice, no question, although not close to the best ever. However, lengthen the arms and all of a sudden the baggy version takes on a totally different feel. Classy. Timeless. Unseen.

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1994-95 – unbranded – short/long sleeves. The weird, unbranded Hummel style kit bereft of all sponsorship and the chevrons seen on the previous few season’s shirt began to be worn half way through this campaign, alongside Core shorts and socks. This before they then took over in full the following season.

I’m still not sure of the facts behind what happened here (anyone?) this but one thing’s for sure, these don’t feature anywhere these days. Except, perhaps, in the back of a few attics.

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Hummel / Core – a kit oddity

1992-1993 Hummel away – long sleeves. You still see the ‘regular’ equivalent of this geometric hell doing the rounds whilst, of course, the club shop are selling the remake at present. And a quite splendid version it is too, albeit lacking technical sponsor. But has anyone seen the long sleeved version in the last twenty-five years ? A thing of such beauty, you don’t even notice the jarring clash that goes with the accompanying red shorts and socks.

Embed from Getty Images

 

I love it. Does it even exist?

Nick Bruzon

Suit and Tie v THREE Rubber Gloves. Jota reminds us why he was king.

19 Apr

Good morning everyone. Sunday morning in Brentford and we aren’t celebrating promotion or even reaching the play-offs following yesterday’s game with Preston. Which didn’t happen. Thanks a bunch, Covid. Then again, who could have imagined we’d get to mid April and Aston Villa would still be in the Premier League? Here’s hoping they can maintain their position when play resumes. Whenever that may be.

There’s nothing I’d like more than to be reunited with Dean Smith in the top flight – for so many reasons. None more than simply having the chance to cross swords with a man who was nothing short of wonderful when he was at Griffin Park. Not forgetting, either, that Jota is still on their books. A player we were given a timely reminder of on Saturday lunchtime.

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Faster than a speeding bullet – the Spanish superman was a hero at Griffin Park.

For us Bees fans, at least there is still some footballing distraction. Yesterday saw the Q&A with Jon Varney. I understand the video of that session will be released on Monday. Until then, the very brief summary we put together on these pages contains some of the salient points and can be found here.

One thing that was perhaps under sold in the piece was the next guests. The potential magnificence of that event only hit home upon waking up this morning and the email from GPG admin had hit the ‘in box’. For the that haven’t had it, their Twitter feed has a similar sentiment – albeit in slightly less characters

Suit and Tie v THREE Rubber Gloves. Mr. Brentford v The love of my life (err, to quote the song). The Penalty king v The Free Kick master. First Team Coach v B Team Coach. 

Sam Saunders – up there with Jota and Jay Tabb in my all time favourite Bees. Just about the only former player that H hero worships, and he’s never even seen him play. “Daddy – is THIS Saunders territory?” he’ll ask whenever a dead ball is awarded just about anywhere in the opposition half.

Kevin O’ Connor – the man who has pretty much done it all at Brentford on pitch and is now starting similar from the sidelines. I do wonder who gets the short straw of asking about that penalty ? No. Come on. We’re better than that. Aren’t we….? Well it might be interesting to hear his take on things now that time has, all being well, healed things somewhat.

The GPG twitter feed has all the details you need for our next 3pm kick off. Get onboard for what could well be the best one yet.

Next up, kit. We’ve spoken about the World Cup of Brentford shirts currently playing out on Twitter and today is final’s day. The poll is live and there are four contenders in the running. The runners and riders can be seen below on the link to the final vote although interesting to see both of our (previous) promotion to the Championship kits in there, along with the Hummel fractals and the current away. 

The later, one which Jon Varney confirmed yesterday was a best selling change shirt. I’d also draw your attention to three of the four having a castle badge – draw whatever conclusions you can from that……..

The vote closes this evening. I’ve already gone in – albeit hit the wrong button when the screen did something. And not my fat fingers, honestly.  Urgghh. I’m not unhappy with what I did select but do take care.

And finally, I’d beg some personal indulgence. Whilst Jon Varney was doing his thing yesterday, Sky were showing the greatest EFL games all morning. Amongst their selection was Brentford v Fulham from November 2014. You may recall this one. Harlee Dean fell over for 0-1 before redeeming himself with a blockbuster late on. Then, enter stage right, Jota on 90+2……

At the time H was a year old and has never seen it. He doesn’t even know the score. Nor has Mrs. B, to be fair. Back then, she was at home with him whilst I was going bonkers on the terrace. So a little bit of recording and then we sat back to watch it live.

Come for the punditry on David Button. Stay for the celebration. Complete the sentence, ”and that’s why Fulham…..”.  If only the secret filming hadn’t been spotted.

Oh, Jota. You bloody genius. Even though he hit the low point of Birmingham City (we all make mistakes) he still brings a smile to the face. Even to a boy that didn’t see that amazing moment when it first played out. Thank you.

Have a great Sunday. Enjoy your last day before those of us having to do home schooling get back to donning the mortar board and gown. Stay safe and take care.

Until then, sweet dreams of Sam Saunders and the king. Perhaps not at the same time.

Nick Bruzon

Chief exec confirms Dream Team should return, kit update and stadium news.

18 Apr

Saturday afternoon. 4pm. Brentford fans should be getting ready for a potential promotion deciding second half against Preston North End ( I won’t say in whose favour, given the current state of the paused table) . Instead, all over cyberspace we’re stepping back in time to our victory over the same opposition that saw the Bees finally reach the Championship following the something , something, something penalty against Doncaster the previous season.  And we’ve had to get our main football fix from the morning’s Q&A with Bees Chief Executive ‘Jon’ Reg Varney  – the latest guest in the GPG live webcast hotseat. And the post match celebrations will, instead, be filled with the latest results from the World Cup of Brentford shirts as the polls close at 7pm.

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Jon spoke for a good two hours.

First up, Jon Varney. Just where on earth did two hours go? But enough about the talk through of his career history which opened proceedings. I half expected him to conclude the opening monologue with a Partridge-esque, “Needless to say, I had the last laugh”. Yet, in retrospect, this was the perfect introduction as it gave us mere mortals a peek behind the curtain of a man who has worked in all manner of sporting capacities since leaving school. A man who is a Brentford fan through and through, with name checks to his heroes from the 80s and 90s peppering the conversation. A man who almost didn’t take the role for the simple fact of it interfering with his football weekend. A man who exuded knowledge but, perhaps more importantly, an understanding of what makes the fans tick and how important the club is to us. And vice-versa. 

Following Martin Allen was always going to be a big ask and so fair play to the chief exec for not only stepping up to the plate but then hitting it out of the (Griffin) park. It was captivating. It was emotional. It was honest. It was frank. The questions were broad with nothing really off limits, barring those topics covered off by Phil Giles two weeks ago. Even then, it was more to give everyone from a large audience the chance to get involved. And didn’t we just.

There were updates on the new stadium’s readiness (as good as), test events that were being considered and the preparations / plans for the Barnsley game where we had been in discussion with the Oakwell outfit to limit their supporter numbers in order that more of us could see that last game at Griffin Park. Lionel Road season ticket sales and next steps were covered (payments due for May now looking to be deferred over the three months to July) and even discussion around a relocation for the programme collector’s club. The club was confirmed to be in great financial health over the immediate months and we also talked at length about the possibility of the season being played out behind closed doors. Sadly. 

Should that happen then the list of those looking to don the ballboys’ tracksuit already seems to be growing with even Trevor Inns hoping to pull his Adidas ventex out of the gym locker. Personally, I’ll be going for the ‘mascot’ option. No holding hands with Pontus though – purely for reasons of social distancing. In all seriousness though, should we be unable to attend in person then it seems i-follow will be the way to go.

Yet the big question was one about that perennial favourite on these pages, Sky One’s Dream Team. You may well know the drill in regards to Harchester United (and if not, here’s the main cut and thrust) but Jon’s earlier involvement in the show brought an intriguing possibility to the fore . One supporter proposed that, ”You’ve said how the new stadium gives us new opportunities. You’ve talked about sky and your previous involvement with Dream Team. Could we see the new stadium used to relaunch the show? 

What followed was nothing short of a love letter to the show with the acknowledgment, ”Wouldn’t it be good to get Dream Team back on the screen at the new stadium.” That’s as good as a yes in my eyes. You heard it here first. Well, second after the live chat this morning. Dream Team will return. And it could be filmed at Lionel Road. Possibly.

Certainly, that’s how I understood things. Nothing was actually confirmed. Instead the subsequent elaboration that with football and rugby dominating stadium usage it was unlikely there would be opportunity for anything else was, I can only presume, a cunning smokescreen designed to throw people off the scent.

There was even time for kit talk – that is, when we weren’t hypnotised by Greville Waterman mopping his kitchen floor (never forget when the camera is on). Jon bigged up the wonderful partnership with Umbro and confirmed that next season’s home shirt will be red and white, albeit made of a slightly heavier material than the current version. Adding that he really likes it.

He wouldn’t be drawn on the colour of the away shirt although did confirm that this season’ incarnation was probably out best selling change strip. By contrast, the much loved brown/orange hadn’t sold well. I’m genuinely shocked by this. Who’d have thought that so many fans would have had such strange taste ?

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Greville, the clue is in the word ‘Recording’

Those were the highlights that stuck in my mind. Billy Reeves feed has a great transcript whilst I understand that the full play back will take place in the coming days when the video of today’s event is released. Do take a look. These words won’t do justice to a morning where Jon showed what makes Brentford such a special club. Where the fans are at the forefront of everything. A place where Matthew Benham’s agenda is one that has ‘affordable football’ at the top of the priority list.

Next up is a double header that has the potential to be the best yet – Sam Saunders and Kevin O’Connor. Bring it on. I can’t wait to dip my toes into Saunders territory on Saturday.

As ever, HUGE thanks not just to Jon but also Trevor, the GPG and his team who made this happen. The logistics and behind the scenes stuff to line this up and make it all as seamless as possible are not to be underestimated. Do tune in next Saturday for Sam and Kevin then who knows who might be next up after that….. 

To close out today, have you voted in the World Cup of Brentford Shirts as yet? The Semi-final rounds conclude at 7pm so do feel free to add your opinion. They can be found on Twitter at Brentford In Colour /  @beesincolour.

Here’s The Group of Death to whet your appetite. Enjoy…..

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the not so ugly. Is this the best ‘World Cup’ yet….?

16 Apr

Did somebody say a ’The World Cup of….’? No, not you Osman. We’ve got news of a very special Brentford related event that started to play out on Twitter last night as well as a follow up to the previous article, about ‘that’ shirt. Elsewhere the club have announced the latest guests for the now regular Saturday afternoon GPG live chat webcasts. Something which, if you’ve not got on board with as yet, are definitely well worth participating in. What else are you going to do when not watching Bees v Preston this Saturday? 

First up, the World Cup of….Brentford Shirts. Consisting of the very best of modern-era shirts, this tournament will be playing out on Twitter over the coming days. Hosted by Brentford In Colour  (@beesincolour ) it starts tonight, Thursday, at 8pm. However, pre-qualifying has already begun and if you want to include some bygone classics or even ensure that the much sought after Adidas efforts make the group stages then the vote is already live.

Could any of these make the final?

I’m really looking forward to this a heck of a lot. If there was any justice, the brown/orange away shirt would win this hands down but life doesn’t work like that.  Having been given a sneak preview of the runners and riders, I’m honestly torn as to which way I’d ever vote if it came down to a one kit selection for the all time favourite. Chad? Hummel? Spall? The Funky Bee? Castle badge? Osca half and half? Pink pinstripes? The teabag back? 

This promises to be a fantastic event so please get involved.  As TV’s Our Graham (or is that Marco?) once said, “The choice is yours….

Pre-qualifying is now live – this, just one of the groups…

The other piece of kit related news comes c/o none other than Michael Dobson. You may recall the last piece which looked at the infamous black spray paint prototype’ that was booed out of Griffin Park when it revealed to unsuspecting fans. Supporters came together to share their memories of the event and now the GPG have been in direct contact with Dobbo himself to get his take on what happened on that fateful day. And this is what he had to say:

“Yes, I remember it well. The kit didn’t go down well and we had objects thrown at us and even spat at. Not pleasant for two youth team players at the time”….

And on the question of whether there was one or two members of the youth team modelling this and if they went in different directions, he confirms it was definitely the later :

Yes I think we did, then joined each other for part of the lap. It didn’t bother us too much, we laughed it off. It was crazy that some people wanted to show their disgust but didn’t think about the ones actually wearing the shirt when hurling coins at us”.

Absolute madness. Abuse and spitting had already been mentioned but now coins have been chucked into the mix. No pun intended. Not anybody’s finest hour in retrospect , from marketing to some fans, but at least Michael comes over as quite philosophical about it. Certainly more than I probably would have been !  Rest assured, this one has not made the final cut for The World Cup.

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Finally, have you got any plans for Saturday afternoon? I know, I know. Given our game with Preston has been P-P for some reason, I had thought about going to the cinema or watching a band. But why do that when there’s another GPG webcast.

Hot on the heels of the chats with Phil Giles and Martin Allen, this weekend sees the chance to talk directly with Brentford Chief Executive Jon Varney.  Full details are on ‘official’ and include the link to the pre-registration.

You will need to do this in order to attend the session, something that takes about ten seconds, and is only in place to deter the idiots who attempted to gate crash the opening few minutes of Phil’s interview. Just make sure you have ‘Zoom’ installed on your device of choice.

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Take Care. Stay safe. Get Zoom and get on to Twitter. Football may be on hiatus but there is plenty more out there to keep us involved. Stay healthy and don’t forget that you can always enjoy a variety of snacks – from chocolate to orange – as you contemplate your World Cup vote.

Mmmm. Chocolate and orange. Chocolate and orange….

 

Nick Bruzon

Once a hero, always a hero. Martin Allen provides a great escape from lockdown.

12 Apr

Martin Allen I bloody love you. With the lockdown biting hard on football, what could have been a miserable afternoon of self-isolation and staying indoors was turned into nothing short of a magnificent two and a half hours. Following on from last week’s session with Phil Giles, Mad Dog himself was there to lift any bank holiday gloom for Brentford fans in the latest of the GPG live video chats on Saturday.

Bedecked in ‘that’ tank top and with Bees supporters hanging on his every word, it was a quite unique peek behind the curtain of what went on at the time and what makes Martin tick. Whilst he also talked about West Ham, Leicester City and Eastleigh the conversation was dominated by The Bees.  The affection felt for his time at Griffin Park, his players and Peter Gilham (whose red PMA wristband he still wears) there for all to see and hear.

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Live in your living room – face to face with Martin Allen

I’ve no idea how the time went so quickly. Yet from the off Martin had us hooked. It was quite bizarre, in the nicest sense. In the blink of an eye we were all transported back to 2004 with tales of the Great Escape. Of the Cup runs. Of Harry Redknapp. Of the unapproved ‘bid’ to sign Paolo Di Canio from West Ham. One can only imagine the panic in the board room. Of play-off pain. Of Steve Claridge. Michael Turner. Sonko. The genuine affection and pride in Jay Tabb. The potential of Alex Rhodes and Oli Skulason, both of whom saw promising careers so cruelly hit by injury. 

The former a player whom Martin felt had the potential to go all the way to the top whilst the story of breaking the injury news to the later one which brought a lump to the the throat. We talked about the players v fans match. About secret 5.30am video filming in the Thames at Kew Bridge with a lad called Mark Chapman (never heard of him). And we talked a lot about Sam Sodje.

Oh my. You could probably write a book on that section alone. The tackles. The signing. Training with Deon Burton. His approach to opening letters from the council – and the carnage that almost ensued as a result. And I bet what was discussed don’t even begin to touch the sides. The recording of the session has gone live already – you can find it below c/o the GPG YouTube upload. Please do take a look as these words can’t even begin to do it justice.

Equally, there was honesty. Things that didn’t work out so well. Stephen Hunt. The move to Leicester City. Eastleigh. Yet as Martin also added, he doesn’t do hindsight. No regrets at all were evident. Just an engaging look back on all those things that had gone well. The smile on his face broad as we talked about Luton Town away (a game that , seemingly, everyone went to) . The deadpan humour evident and the twinkle in the eye there for all to see. 

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Another game of ‘Celebrity Squares’ (albeit only one celebrity)

Thomas Frank is wonderful. I love how he is with the fans. How welcoming and open he is at all times. Yet for those of us of a certain age, to see Martin pull us up by the bootstraps and bring Brentford football club so close to the success we enjoy now was nothing short of incredible at the time. It all feels so fresh, even 15 years on. To hear it discussed in such open, engaging and, being honest, hilarious  detail by the very architect of the moment was nothing short of incredible.

Martin is unique. We all know that. I’m pretty sure he even ate a dog biscuit at one point late on in the session. We all worshipped him at the time. We all still love him now. Nothing can change or take away what he did. Nothing can replace that love he shared with us and vice-versa. It must be quite a special and rare feeling for an ex-manager to still be welcomed back with such open arms. Yet for him to talk through all this left a huge smile on the face. A quite wonderful feeling of well being at what is a quite awful time out there. The way he made every question feel so personal – not just in the answers given but the engagement with the person asking it. Nobody else mattered beyond you and him. And it was quite special.

The whole thing is here. ENJOY

Once again, huge thank to Trevor Inns and his GPG team for setting this up. It really was phenomenal fun. Even now, Sunday morning, I’m still smiling at the though of Sodje launching into a scissor kick or Martin dropping the F bombs at Harry Redknapp and co.     

There is talk of another one next Saturday. Good luck to whoever follows this, you’ve got one hell of a job to do ! 

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Every ball was caught and kicked with us

Nick Bruzon

Martin Allen on video or Alan Partridge on Bond?

10 Apr

Bank holiday weekend. Brentford should be hosting Charlton Athletic today and then visiting Wayne Rooney’s former Frank Lampard’s Derby County Derby County on Monday. Instead, we’re not. Coronavirus. Lockdown. Self-isolation. Sadly, we all know the drill by now. Stay indoors. Don’t be a dick. Think of the NHS. Think of each other. Much as it would be nice to sit on a park bench drinking brandy or flying a remote control helicopter (both of which I saw across the road yesterday), we’ve got to sit tight and stay indoors. It IS frustrating. It IS boring . But my word, think of the alternatives. The least of which being a trip to Pride Park. This is no joke, sadly. Don’t be a dick. Stay the f*&k indoors . Please. Instead, why not take the opportunity to embrace your inner Alan Partridge? 

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Stop getting Bond wrong !!

It is frustrating, no question. If nothing else Easter Weekend is second only to Christmas for that wonderfully intense hit of football. A double eSpresso of big match action. If anything there’s more to play for with the season approaching the denouement. Every kick and every point is crucial. The final table almost set with play-off and promotion places able to be confirmed at a moment’s notice should results go the right way. Alas, it’s not to be. There is no visit from Charlton. We won’t be meeting at St. Pancras for the trip to Derby. The best we can do is look at the table and fantasise about what might have been for Brentford. All being well, it will come to pass but when that actually happens is anybody’s guess.

Don’t be downcast. There is still hope for that Bank holiday fix. First up, the GPG have the second in their series of ‘live web cast’ interviews. Following on from last weekend’s ‘ask me anything’ session with Phil Giles, next up is none other than Mad Dog himself – Martin Allen. The session with Phil was unexpectedly open and frank, even by Brentford standards. He was engaging and nothing was off limits as the one hour video link ended up running to double that. Hats off to Trevor and his team for arranging this. Now we have the chance to go to the next level.

Zoom montage

The best of the video wall highlights

There can’t be anyone among us who didn’t love Martin’s time at Griffin Park. Excitement. Luncacy. Play-offs. The FA Cup run. The Great Escape. The terror of looking into his eyes. What a man. What a couple of seasons. What a side he put together. Some called it ‘two bob’. I called it the quintessential example of team spirit and ability Oh, John Salako. Err, Steve Claridge. 

So Saturday afternoon promises to be a real treat. With the technical glitches (i.e pitch invaders) looking to be ironed out via means of needing the link to be sent to you (HERE, is the place to get this). Sign up or miss out. As has so wonderfully been explained, “There will NOT be a catch-up video etc. available after the event – for reasons I am sure you can guess. Martin did a Beesotted event recently and Billy/Dave have not been able to use the audio. 

The one downside to all of this is that it messes with the prospect of being legitimately able to participate in an Alan Partridge style four day bank holiday weekend James Bond marathon. The possibility of doing just this has often been joked about but there’s never been a justifiable reason for sitting in front of the TV from Friday morning through to Monday night. Now there is. 

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Could it happen?

Doctor No is scheduled for 9am although judging by Mrs. Bruzon’s reaction to the suggestion last night, it may be a case of jumping straight to Roger Moore. The argument that “If not for us, do it for the NHS and the teachers” not deemed legitimate. Perhaps she was thinking about Thunderball or Die Another Day – a fair point.

If we manage / are allowed (delete as applicable) to stick to the schedule then Martin cuts right across The Man With The Golden Gun. Potentially even eating to the parachute jump opening to The Spy Who Loved Me. Decisions. Decisions. Martin Allen or Roger Moore being chased on skis?

Judging by the paint pots currently sitting in the hallway, I fear the decision may be made for me. See you all at 3pm tomorrow….

 

24 films distilled into four and a bit minutes

Nick Bruzon 

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

What a weekend awaits. Sofa Saturday and a Super Sunday.

28 Dec

A rare Saturday without football for Brentford. Our time comes tomorrow with the trip to Millwall and the chance to see if we can build on the Boxing Day tonking of Swansea that saw the Bees end the day in third place. Instead, there’s the rare opportunity for the Premier League to take centre stage this afternoon. It is one that should be grabbed, lest we forget about the people who actually invented our beloved sport back in the early 90s. More importantly, it’s a reminder that The Last Word Fantasy Football competition is still running. Suddenly, the 3-2 kicking administer by Wolves to Manchester City last night becomes of crucial importance. There’s more than just the comedy factor of watching Manchester United hit self-destruct (again – think of them as a top flight Leeds United) in the evening game at Burnley. And who doesn’t love seeing Neal Maupay do his thing? Fingers crossed for a Brighton penalty kick today!!

Neal Maupay Leeds

Come on Neal. More of this would be lovely ( I need the points)

So what have we learned so far? Well, yours truly really is the numpty on the terrace. Ranked 52 out of 66 – and that’s by actually trying to compete. Why bother? Honestly, setting the team to random mode would have more success. I’m that tempted to go there for the second half of the season, just to try and prove a point.

On the plus side, it does mean I can’t win my own competition – as if that was ever even a possibility. For those still curious / playing, the current top ten is below. Ben Shephard is at the top (anyone? Presumably not the host of daytime TV’s  Tipping Point ?)  and then supporter Simon Burns is coming in second. This is taken post Wolves but pre Brighton, so this could all move around once the rest of the games play out.

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Current standings

In all seriousness though, the thought of a lazy day is something I’m quite looking forward to. Some calm before tomorrow’s storm. Harry’s football club is closed, for once, and Brentford go to Millwall on Sunday. Mrs Bruzon is out with her parents so there’s nothing more to do today than watch Neal banging them in for Brighton at lunch, fall asleep on the couch in front of Jeff Stelling in the afternoon and then pay a passing homage to events at Turf Moor.

Not that I’ve got anybody from either side in my Fantasy team. Not even number 26. Although given the aforementioned inability to pick winners, his absence from my line up is one that should be considered a de facto guarantee to lump it on. He’s 14/1 to score (for Burnley) at any time, although those odds don’t seem to factor in any potential family related absence so invest at your own risk.

And then it all goes again tomorrow. Brentford make the short trip across London to the Lion’s Den where the pressure on the team will be immense. From the top of the club to the very bottom we all know what is at stake. From Matthew Benham through Thomas Frank, the players and the fans. Everybody is fully aware what will be the consequences of anything not going to plan….

Concede and we’ll be subject to ‘that’ toe-curling song. If Mrs. Browns Boys teamed up with Dick Van Dyke to do goal music. Whilst wearing Ali-Baba slippers.

Millwall wide (1)

We’ve been there before…

Forget the ‘no-one likes us’ stuff. Good luck if it makes them happy. Besides, I can relate to this. In part. It’s as much a part of the Millwall legacy as our own being called a tinpot / little / pub / bus stop team Albeit, theirs is self-created (why is that now?) whilst we always look to answer our critics on the pitch.   

But that song. Urghh. Take a look at yourselves. And I apologies for mentioning it every season but it’s godawful shite. F*ck me, I’d be more embarrassed than Madonna on a staircase if that was my club. And we should know about cringe, given the awfulness of #trophyfriends. Never forget.  

Just about forgivable as ‘walk out’ fodder, it’s only a Pearly queen short of a full house in cliche bingo. But the true horror being that it then doubles up as goal music. Something we all know shouldn’t be allowed in football stadia – see also: ball boys waving giant flags, fans with drums, Mr. Portsmouth and his bell, Mexican Waves and the England supporters band. Basically, anything needed to try and generate an atmosphere.

For crying out loud, if you can’t get turned on by the ball hitting the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. If things are so flaccid that you need Roy Green singing about jellied eels to give you a boost of footballing viagra then perhaps it’s time to just give up and call it a day.

Portsmouth bell

The Millwall song. Currently residing alongside Mr. Portsmouth and Mexican waves.

We digress. The point being that Brentford have it all to do if we are to maintain third place and, maybe, further close the gap on Leeds United. That’s a big ask, of course. Much as they have that wonderful ability to hit self-destruct, and their current record reads DLD, not even they can cock up a trip to Birmingham City. Harlee Dean and his Blues are simply too poor at present. Whilst Boxing Day saw just about everybody at the business end of the table do us a favour, this time we’re on our own.  We have to win to progress. We have to keep a clean sheet to spare the supporters.

Frankly, I can’t wait for this one. I expect everybody around us to get maximum points on Sunday . Even Fulham, who are home to Stoke City. So the onus has to be on us to go for it. And we will. This team only knows one way to play. Attack. Score. Win.  Our goal difference speaks for itself. Our defensive solidity is renowned. Our fans loud. The atmosphere magnificent.

It won’t be easy. Bums might even squeak for a bit. But it has the potential to round off 2019 in quite wonderful style. If you are still thinking about going, then what’s to decide? Get off the couch and get going. It’s a Sofa Saturday followed by a Super Sunday.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon