Tag Archives: Griffin Park

A Twitter spat, illustrious opponents and swaps. Just another day in the top flight.

15 Oct

Magnificent. We’ve woken up to another ‘Teams like Brentford’ meltdown and the somewhat unusual phrase of Brentford 4th trending on Twitter. The reason being that, apparently, that’s where a supercomputer has predicted we’ll finish the season. Saturday’s opponents Chelsea are, apparently, going to be champions with Liverpool and Manchester City joining us at Europe’s top table next campaign. What quite makes a computer ‘super’ over a regular one I have no idea but its all good fun. Primarily the reactions from supporters of other clubs. 

Cripes, I’m as confident as the next fan but even I’ve only settled for the Europa League next season. Whatever the ZX Spectrum (or whatever machine was used for this in no way clickbait calculation) has come up with, this sort of story is ten a penny every year. In every division. They’re never right but they get us talking. So why not? Anything that winds up Leeds United supporters is all the better in my book. Moreso, given it has them way down in 16th. Hey. Perhaps there is something in it.

Leeds defend another attack

It’s all a nice distraction ahead of tomorrow’s big game. We spoke a bit about the West London derby yesterday. Brentford host Chelsea in a 5.30pm kick off which is sure to be blighted by travel chaos. South West rail is out of action with no trains stopping at Brentford, Kew Bridge or Chiswick. Likewise, Gunnnesbury tube will be out of action before and after kick off.

Instead, those three awful words (not : Mrs Browns Boys) have surfaced: Rail Replacement Bus. May whichever deity you believe in have mercy on your mortal souls.

With Corona Virus checks now in place after the soft launch for the Liverpool game, never has it been more widely advised to aim for an early arrival at Lionel Road. On the plus side, there’ll be cheap beer and food, the dulcet tones of Stu Soccer AM doing his thing with Peter Gilham whilst for anyone collecting Adrenalyn XL (the Panini cards rather than an energy drink), our Harry has a huge favour to ask. 

Has anyone in the North Stand anyone got any swaps? Assuming we can access it, he’ll be there by the Junior Bees bit at around 4.45 prior to kick off and then out the back of the vomitaries at half-time. Will tweet a location. For reasons unknown, although perhaps the £1 a packet cost has something to do with it, these aren’t hugely popular at his school. And whilst we have a surfeit of Bryan, amongst others, Sergi and Ivan are currently missing. Collecting has reached the stage where new packets are littered with more doubles than the darts and so if anyone can help then it would be hugely appreciated. 

Some of the many, many swaps that have caused the hole in my overdraft facility

As for the game, well its live on Sky for anyone that can’t make it. Lionel Road is again sold out with another racous atmosphere expected. It was tasty as when Liverpool came to town. Of course inside the stadium where we had the loudest away fans outside of Oldham in the cup but also outside. Prior to kick off Kew and Brentford were buzzing. There were even not one, not two but at least four half-and-half scarf sellers for us all to ignore. Truly, those fetid rags are the last refuge of the footballing damned. The crass hipsterfication of our beautiful game showing a real ugly side. If you really want a souvenir, buy a shirt or a programme. Then go get a beer with the change. 

Why? And don’t look at the socks

And talking of shirts, the alleged Jamie Bates matchworn has resurfaced on ebay. Good luck anybody bidding on that. The last month has already seen this one sold more times than Steve Claridge. Much as yours truly is always on the look out for anything old (and if anyone does have any they’d like to sell then I’ll always pay a very fair price) getting involved in this is a step too far.  

Somebody may want it..

Finally, just a HUGE thank you. For those slightly more regular visitors to these pages, the summer months had their usual flood of season review e-book activity. The story of our reaching the Premier League (primarily a load of these aswell as all the content produced for the programme) has been bundled up for Kindle / other and available for download. All money received from Amazon is then being donated to Rob Rowan’s CRY fund. Well, it has finally started trickling in (after Jeff has taken his cut) and is now being passed on each month. So a massive thank you for anyone who has downloaded. If you still wanted to then the link is here. Spoiler alert: for once, this one has a happy Wembley ending. Alternatively, anybody wanting to go direct to Rob’s page, you can find that one here.

Ok. That’s us done for today. Check out the BBC, Twitter, Beesotted and all the other usual sources for the actual quality content. For me, its all about family time and football this weekend. I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. Ideally, with cards…..

Could this be the shock of the weekend? Or is it now expected?

14 Oct

We’re back. Brentford host league leaders Chelsea this weekend with another international break done and the chance to see if we can build on the quite wonderful performances at home to Liverpool and then, last time out, away at West Ham. Final thoughts on those are in the forthcoming edition of the matchday programme (along with other nonsense, subject to editorial discretion, including one covid related tale of woe). Alternatively, the previous columns from these pages are here (Liverpool) or here (West Ham) for those wanting one more look back at what happened as the games unfolded and the aftermath was very much enjoyed. It all seems a lifetime ago already. There’s been a trip to Gibraltar for the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in between and now, of course, we have the prospect of a visit from the European Champions.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming for you. Champions of Europe. We’re coming for you.” Thus went ‘that’ song. Ad-nauseam it felt at the time, as the Bees prepared for a 2013 FA Cup tie against the Stamford Bridge outfit. A strong opposition were held 2-2 at Griffin Park, with a late equaliser from Fernando Torres sparing Chelsea from copious amounts of egg on face.

For me, Clive, of course it was an exciting build but oh that song went on. And on. Much like Oldham’s. Focus on f’ing promotion rather than singing to opposition that weren’t even there, listening or gave a monkey about what was happening in League One.

Chelsea were almost given the elbow at Griffin Park in 2013

That was then. This is now. Better form in the FA cup, several seasons in the Championship and our own reaching the Premier League mean that as it stands games like this are the norm rather than ad-hoc flashes in the pan demanding their own song. A blistering start to top flight life means we’re currently sitting 7th (seventh) in the table. A win would put Brentford just one point behind the leaders and whilst, in theory, that sounds about as far fetched an aspiration as they come, the season has already been packed with more drama and wonderful performances than an episode of Dream Team. Get warmed up, lads.

Much missed. Especially former Bee Andy Ansah

Arsenal. Beaten. Liverpool. Held in that epic 3-3. West Ham. Crying. Wolves. Humped. Raya. Gloves needed changing. Only one defeat and that in the final minute of Brighton’s gamesmanship masterclass. The new signings bedding straight in, Kris Ajer especially, whilst Yoanne Wissa is already well en-route to becoming a cult hero. Come for the late goals. Stay for the celebration.

It has been quite the incredible start to a season that has seen this little bus stop in Hounslow punching above the weight and expectation levels of just about everybody outside TW8. Those inside the circle knowing what we can do and what to expect, even if at times it does seem against the realms of probability. That Liverpool game being the quintessential example of our never say die attitude and desire to attack until the death. The one time we’ve played super cagey, the last quarter of Brighton’s visit, our undoing had an almost Bees like inevitability about it. It’s Brentford, innit.

Wiiissssaaaaaaa. As calm as Peter Gilham isn’t

That’s not to say we’ll turn up and beat Chelsea. Cripes, if the fixtures so far have been tough then this is next level. A quick check on my Fantasy Football squad this morning is a bleak reminder of the strength they have in depth, let alone the starting XI. Whichever one they opt to go with.

For Brentford, subject to injury –  Shandon Baptiste’s shoulder being the primary concern – its a safe bet who will start this one. As ever. Thomas Frank has enjoyed the luxury of his preferred starting XI playing to such a level that the only real selection decision has been who to bring on and when. Thomas Tuchel could probably chuck the car keys in a bowl and still come up with a team that the bookies would fancy to romp home. 

Indeed, the Bees are this morning priced at 26/5 to take all three points. As ever, nobody gives us a real chance. No surprise. Our opponents are as strong as they come. Their record and consistency over the last twenty years speaks for itself. If we’ve hit the ground running then they’re next level. Romelu Lukaku looks like he’s never been away whilst only Manchester City have taken a win off them. So far. 

Which is what makes football just the exciting thing it is. Nobody gave us a hope against Liverpool. There was similar from the other 6 games. We know what we’ve done and what we can achieve when all guns are firing. The funnest season ever is now cranking up even more, reaching previously unimaginable levels. That final moment at West Ham was about as good as things got. Now to see if we can pick up where we left off.

Of course it’s going to be tough. Some might say nigh on impossible. But if that’s the approach then why bother turning up? Genuinely, I’m convinced we will do this. As we’ve been saying all season, forget the calibre and reputation of the opposition. Play the moment. Play the game. Play as we’ve played so far. Of course we HAVE to be aware of who we are up against but there’s a distinct difference between being respectful and being in awe. 

I can’t wait for this one. Quelle surprise. Even that game at the Victoria Stadium to see Gibraltar go down 3-0 to Montenegro now feels second fiddle. Fun though it was. The home side weren’t given a prayer in that one, either, but I’ve got a rock solid belief we’re going to pull a few more pants down on Saturday evening.

If nothing else, this is a West London derby. THE West London derby. Move over Fulham. See you later Loftus Road. Brentford and Chelsea are currently the two best placed clubs, not only in this quarter but the entire capital. Bring it on and see you there.

International football provided relief in the absence of Premier League action

Nick Bruzon

We’re going to need a Biggar boat.

1 Oct

Next stop on the Premier League express, the Olympic Stadium. Brentford travel to West Ham United this Sunday afternoon for a 2pm kick off against a team we’ve not played competitively since 1993. Compared to some of those we’ve already taken points from this season (Arsenal and Liverpool, where league fixtures were nothing more than a relic of the 1940s, we’re looking at you) that’s fairly recent. Relatively speaking. Back then in our solitary second tier season under Phil Holder, 0-0 at Griffin Park was followed up a 4-0 drubbing / kicking in East London that saw the slide back to (now) League One continue its inexorable momentum. Mind you, the game before and Ray Biggar doing his thing in the 1-1 draw with Notts County – a ball breaking amount of mystery time ‘added on’ until the Magpies levelled it up on about +8 that anyone there will never, ever forget – was enough to destroy whatever fragile confidence we had left. 

Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground. Whatever. It all ended the same way

That was then. This is now. Just as we have VAR to help the ref and time boards raised by the fourth official in order to let us know exactly how long there is to squirm through, we’ve also got a squad that’s ten times better than any we’ve had before. And that includes teams that have been in play offs. Brentford are on fire and playing for fun. The only points dropped being the 90th minute smash and grab at home to Brighton. Unbeaten on the road and still smiling off the back of our most recent performance, the 3-3 with Liverpool last Saturday evening. A game of gargantuan proportions that saw the mother of all footballing battles. Ivan Toney denied an 87th minute winner by the Lino’s flag which, whilst the correct decision, for a moment sent Bees’ fans into even greater states of delirium than those giddy highs already reached.

It was about as far away a moment as just about anything we’ve ever experienced. Playing a Premier League game against a full strength Liverpool side. The league leaders going behind c/o Ethan Pinnock and then twice being pulled back when it looked like they should accelerate out of sight. Brentford brilliant. Everyone playing at 110%. No let up. And that was just the crowd. The atmosphere immense with on pitch commitment to match. The Anfield outfit coming out the other side knowing we aren’t just going to make up the numbers and any walkover they may have expected was as far from the truth as the popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

What pressure? Calm as you like against Liverpool

Of course, we can’t live completely in the past. Beating Arsenal. Blitzing Wolves at Molineux. Holding Liverpool. All well and good. All brilliant. All amazing. I wouldn’t trade any of it but now it is done. The stuff of memory. Use it to inspire us and learn from but don’t just think that because we’ve done the business so far, everyone else is going to roll over. That we’ll turn up and win. Very much a case of dragging out the cliches and taking each game as it comes. Which takes us full circle to the first line – our trip to West Ham United. The BIAS supporter’s boat is about to set sail once more. This time, for a rematch with Said Benrahma. A game against a team very much doing the business at present. Penalty based substitutions aside. Seriously? That was never going to work.       

Last night’s defeat of Rapid Vienna continuing fine form that domestically sees the Hammers as one of only eight teams better placed than Brentford in the football pyramid. Michail Antonio is grabbing the goals and the headlines. Declan Rice busting guts to do his thing. The team flying. The talismanic Algerian Benrahma finding a regular place, form that we are so familiar with from his time at Brentford and the goals starting to come too. West Ham will be as tough as anyone we’ve played so far. The atmosphere as intense. The teething troubles from the early days in their new home, seemingly consigned to the past. Supporters about as passionate as they come and even a few who have donned that most odious of items, the half and half scarf. Metaphorically and for real. Well, now’s the time to drop (or grow) your balls and pin those colours to the mast.   

Said (in pre-lockdown mode). As popular now as he was then for us

October 2021. Brentford on a Premier League roll. Its a long, long way from the lower leagues. From Leroy Rosenior, Terry Butcher et al. From fans raising funds to keep us afloat. From finally escaping the third tier and celebrating the achievement by replacing our leading scorer with, err, Murray Jones. From Ray Biggar helping send us back from where we had come. After years of hard work, shrewd investment, even shrewder strategy and a lot of patience we are now at the place we’ve aspired to be for so, so long. Inside the tent pissing out rather than the other way round. There’s no way anyone is going to willingly give any of this up. It’s just been too much fun so far. 

Sunday is going to be hard as, no question, but its another step in an incredible journey and I can’t wait. However you travel – tube, train or boat be safe. Certainly avoid the road. Fuel wankers aside, the London marathon means there are closures just about all over town.

See you there.

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Nick Bruzon 

Now that, Alanis, is ironic.

9 Aug

A strange, strange feeling. Football began at the weekend yet there was no involvement for Brentford. At least, officially. Whilst Fulham and QPR both earned 1-1 draws in the Championship, the Bees were missing. That’s because we’re in the Premier League this season. I’m not sure if it has been mentioned yet but, quite frankly, it cannot be repeated enough. At least in our house. We don’t start competitive action until Friday evening when Arsenal visit Lionel Road. (Home games with Brighton, Liverpool and Chelsea follow). Finally, the dream has come true. We’re there. The top flight. The West London derby one which will take place against the Champions of Europe, Chelsea, rather than at the other end of the 237 bus route. The whole thing is nuts and I can’t wait.

It’s normally at this point in the season that Brentford have lost that opening game of the campaign – strong starts were never our speciality. We’d be getting ready to berate Gary Lineker on the forthcoming Saturday night when he tells Match Of The Day viewers that “Football is back.” No Gary, it was back last weekend when the EFL kicked off. Now, we’re the ones who are going to be on the BBC’s flagship football programme. For the first time since, well ever. A few fleeting FA Cup performances aside. All being well, shown at the business end of the schedule rather than slipping down the pecking order to the final few games. Hey, I’m a lightweight and have usually fallen fast asleep on the couch by the time Arsenal and the other clubs outside the top six are being shown.

The Bees on Match of the Day in 1989 – ‘That’ FA Cup quarter final at Liverpool

Instead, we’re waiting to kick off the campaign and already having games moved with abandon. Aswell as Arsenal (h), Wolves (a) and Liverpool (h) those with Leicester City (h) and West Ham (a) both being put back a day as a result of our opponents’ European adventures. Traversing the length of the Jubilee line on a Sunday to watch football from 100 yards behind the goal. Sounds fun.

Likewise, the home game with Chelsea due on October 16th remains a Saturday but now has a 5.30pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage. Saturday 3pm very much becoming an aspiration rather than a lifestyle choice. Something we always expected but what an intense way for it to kick in. 

Hey, at least the trips to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa kick off when we’d expect. Assuming we are able to buy tickets. Come on already. The game at Selhurst Park is on Saturday week and no sighting (as it stands). Not that I particularly want to have to use the overdraft facility but if it needs to be further decimated then what finer way than a trip to South East London?

Safe to say we’re excited. The game against Valencia saw our family able to sit together for the first time since Brentford were playing at Griffin Park. Sheffield Wednesday, in March 2020. It’s now August 2021. Cripes, that’s been tough. For all of us and for so many reasons. Each different. Each as hard as the other. Harry loved it. Even Mrs. B was impressed with our new seats. That’s no reflection on her or Lionel Road but, more, the relief. Yours Truly having been assigned the role of donning the virtual reality headseat back in January 2020 to choose seats on behalf of our group.

The fate of 7(seven) supporters resting in the hands of my dodgy eyesight and the reliability of the Brentford FC super computer. Thankfully, both worked to perfection. It’s been a long wait for that seal of approval to be delivered. If for no other reason knowing who will be sitting along side us. Knowing who will be replacing Alex, Courier Man and Missa Partridge in our immediate vicinity. So far, so good on that front. Hello Mary, John et al.

Computer simulation v actual reality

Talking of Alex (Austin), regular readers to this column will be well familiar with the enjoyment that came from his dishing out advice to the referee and his assistants. Those timely reminders of the actual rules of football. Those helpful explanations as to how a flag should be raised. Advice which, whilst hilarious to those of us sitting in the proximity of the touchline, was probably the last thing they wanted to hear. The sigh of relief from FA headquarters almost tangible as finally the move to Lionel Road and everybody being assigned new seats meant that gauntlet was one that no longer needed to be run.

The referee and his assistant often chose to ignore all reminders of the rules

Except…. Post of the week came up on Facebook during the Valencia game. Alex and his family are still on the touchline. Yet, if anything, in an even better position to dish out the helpful advice. Not only to the lino but, now, the fourth official. In his own words, “Referee review screen. I guess they asked for this to be in-front of me given my years of helpful advice to the linesman on the Braemar Road.” 

Sure enough, the accompanying picture is one that already tells its own story. Now that, Alanis, is ironic.

I do wonder if this showed up on the magic helmet or whether the footballing gods have simply delivered the most unexpected of helping hands? Either way, a year and a half on lockdown means we all need to sharpen our skills if the VAR performance on Saturday was anything to go by. No pressure, Alex. Keep it loud against Arsenal.

View from the seat…

Nick Bruzon

People. Don’t do nothing today.

7 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come for the cover. Stay for Jota and BBB

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon 

Our Great Danes will go again but how much for a ‘new’ shirt?

27 Jun

It’ll be a little while longer until our boys come back to Brentford. Denmark beat Wales 4-0 last night to reach a Euro 2020 quarter-final with Netherlands / Czech Republic. It was a game where we came for the goals and stayed for Robbie Savage’s indignant cries of, “That was not a….” every time a decision went against the Welsh. With the Bees connection of Matthias Jensen and Christian Norgaard combined and, of course, the universal outpouring of love for Christian Eriksen following his cardiac arrest in the Finland game, it felt about as un-neutral a neutral game as we’ve ever seen before. Even the stadium in Amsterdam was almost exclusively the preserve of the Danes and, in the end, it all proved too much. For Thomas Frank, longer to wait for his squad to return whilst let’s not forget Pontus is still with a Sweden team who don’t face Ukraine until Tuesday.

The arrival of the Brentford ‘two’ was greeted with the usual outpouring on social media. Matthias even getting an ‘assist’ late on although also demonstrating yet again (as if any further demonstration was even needed) the old mantra about corner kicks – “Don’t take it short. It never f*&king works” . Yet both fitted seamlessly into a Denmark side they are now an established part of on matchday and I can only expect more of the same next time out. No matter what it does to our domestic plans. Ah, the sweet price of successful recruitment strategy.

the connections between Denmark and Brentford are well, well documented

As has been well noted in recent times, we’ve more players in the tournament than Arsenal. With our opening Premier League fixture against the Gunners little more than six weeks away, the time for relaxing will be brief. At best.

But what to do in that time? Editor, bring forth the crowbar. Is there a finer way to spend a few hours than catching up on the events of last season? In reminding yourself just how Brentford reached the Premier League? In seeing just how deep our connection with the Denmark national side runs? 

Well, yes, there are plenty of better ways than this but the annual Last Word season review is now available for download. A great story, albeit terribly told. And I know I bang on about this a lot but with all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s Memorial Fund for CRY then console yourself in the fact that anybody generous enough to do so is helping an amazing cause. I can only thank those who have already downloaded one already. I mean, it’s literally one, but that’s a start. The link is here if you want to take a look. Thank you !

For those of you wanting a fix of optimism, I’ve seen these shirts for sale on ebay. As a self-confessed kit nerd there’s always an eye open to try and fill those last few gaps in the collection, no matter the cost (if anyone does have the Osca home variant where the stripes stop half way up……) but even I’d baulk at this. A combined price of £745…..!! Even the most expensive hospitality seat at Old Trafford is cheaper than that ! Eye watering stuff and, apparently, not a typo.

I love the Hummel kits. Up there with our very best and whilst these may claim to be in perfect, as good as new condition, those prices are beyond the wildest fantasies in terms of price. Surely? 

‘Ow much???

Perhaps this is deemed realistic in the current market. Unlikley, but.. If so, it may well transpire that there are untapped reserves of gold at the back of your wardrobe. Get rummaging. If nothing else,  until Kitman Bob is allowed to release our new shirts into the wild keeping half an eye on these will provide some temporary distraction. Even if a bid is out of the question.

Nick Bruzon

Half man. Half Robot. All Burridge.

15 Jun

Another date with the reality of our situation is coming. Fast. As Brentford fans continue to bask in the excitement of our play-off win, Wednesday sees the Premier League fixture list released. The moment we discover when The Bees will entertain and (hopefully) visit the famous names we’ve only seen in sticker books, on Match of the Day, the odd cup tie or perhaps their own ad-hoc visits to the lower leagues. Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester City, Everton, Liverpool. The list is a long one and is laden with anticipation. As was noted in the previous column, there’s not one opponent who doesn’t provide an added element of intrigue.

Yet before we get there, its time for another book back at last season from another of our special guest columnists. This time, the man that has seen it all. The man who has described most of it to us. Brentford’s commentator par-excellence and the king of I-follow, Mark Burridge. We caught up this week for a chat about all things from play-offs and Premier League to commentary and covid. Mark talks through his highlights on the pitch, his players of the season and the ethos coursing through the club – on and off the pitch.  Enjoy…..

As for today’s headline, we WILL get there…..

Mark and team at Wembley

Mark, let’s start at the end. 29th May at Wembley. For those in the stands it was the culmination of a life’s dream. Can you put it into words, both as a fan and a commentator.

How did you keep your cool? Did you? Any tears shed?

It was ultimate professional performance from players and staff, started fast, a brilliant counter attacking second goal and then they just comfortably managed the game. Swansea had only scored 3 goals twice all season, so I was convinced it was our day early in the match. There was no way back for Steve Cooper’s team. Every player was 7/8 out of 10 and when that happens with Brentford the opposition are in for a long day.

Being relaxed early on made it all more enjoyable, the fans clearly felt that way too, so many smiling faces on display at half time. It was a strange feeling at the end, nothing dramatic from me as the result had been clear for some time, particularly after the red card.

I felt intense relief, pride, a sense of justice and simply enjoyed the celebrations around me. The tears, hugs, generations of families together, a truly special moment that you knew had to be enjoyed. Stuart Wakeford came to embrace Marcus Gayle and like many fans, the final whistle was the signal for raw emotion and Stuart had found it overpowering. There was such a genuine warmth.

Marcus and Stu embrace

That very same togetherness was everywhere within our eyesight. Some fans had sunk to their knees, others waving flags, shirts, hats. It was our day, at last. The football gods, had called time on play off & cup final pain for Bees fans, at least for now. The infamous Doncaster penalty, the most cruel and numbing of last minute dramas, well if this now was the pay off we’ll shake hands and call a truce!

Knowing that we were finally going to leave Wembley as winners and had experienced just what reward the play offs could be, was very new to Bees supporters.. Martin Lange was smiling down on us.

We were going to carry on with broadcasting until after the trophy presentation, so it was just a time to treasure. Then I looked at my phone and saw a ridiculous number of Whatsapp messages…

After clicking on the first few, it was a still of my Dad in the stands which I knew might happen if we were victorious, as Sky wanted to feature some of the elder fans who were inside Wembley and had been watching Brentford the last time we were in the top flight (which has now gone viral much to Dad’s bemusement).

That really was an emotional moment and I started to think of our dear friend Greville, of Dan & Jamie Powell, how much this would mean to them after such a difficult time in the respective lives. They are here at Wembley, somewhere, loving this and drinking it in.

It was a beautiful emotion right then that I couldn’t put into words.

I just felt incredible gratitude that this moment could be shared by so many & mean so much to so many fans all around the world. Dry eyes suddenly became a little tearful, I’d never enjoyed a moment so much watching others and trying to describe what was taking place in front of our eyes. 

Being with Marcus Gayle & Ben Burgess and hearing their emotion and their thoughts on what this will do for the Club and community was another reminder of why ex pros have such an affinity Brentford Football Club. Contrasting backgrounds with Ben on loan for just one season (2001/2) but has always kept in touch with BFC, writes such good articles in the match day programme and does a sterling job on commentary when he joins us for games in his native north west.

Marcus is the fan who became a Bees professional footballer, Premiership player, World Cup international and then a role model through his work with Kick it Out. The man who had bought a season ticket and was enjoying the games as a fan again until we bumped into each other in a local food shop in 2016 and we had a conversation about joining us on match day commentary.

As everyone knows Marcus is now our proud Club Ambassador. Having seen him make his debut for Brentford many years ago, then to share this victory with both he and Ben, with my Dad in the stadium as well, it simply does not get any better than this. What a magical end to a long season.

You and the team have provided an absolute lifeline this season, With the gates to Lionel Road locked you’ve kept us going with the usual passionate commentary. To us, that side of things felt ‘normal’ but what was it like commentating in what was effectively an empty room? How do you maintain the enthusiasm?

I’ve heard others say working at stadia was joyless and soulless and can certainly understand why that would be said but everyone working at a match would no doubt have realised they were in a very privileged position. Travelling to and from games alone (EFL guidance) was something different and it was often a case of arrive, set up equipment and leave as soon as possible. It was all very well organised but quite surreal compared a usual match day

The games generally lacked the intensity & energy you would enjoy with crowds, which was to be expected. The players may well be professionals but they are human beings first and foremost, so it was tough for them, particularly with the condensed season. It was very difficult without crowds but we got use to it early on and had experience of this at the end of last season. The fans are the energy of football. They are to players, others fans and certainly commentators too!.

I had encountered some of the top names commentating on radio a few times without background noise and it was a hard listen. At Lionel Rd the gantry vantage point is simply incredible (a MUST see when tours are available) but we were the only ones up there broadcasting unless it was a SKY game, with the press level pitch side there’s so little you would hear in the way background noise, as we were are quite detached. 

One of the SKY commentators said he would find it very difficult without the fake noise they would have piped in their ears during the game. It certainly must have helped somewhat.

Fortunately I was lucky to be around people with a great knowledge of the game, all things Brentford and who were passionate, yet measured.

It wasn’t until the Bournemouth away leg in the play off semi final that it probably dawned on Marcus Gayle & I just how different football felt again. This totally changed again for the play off home leg. The volume was simply remarkable. Off  the scale. With just 4,000! This bodes well for next season!

iFollow raised about £42m for EFL Clubs. Were you aware just how important the service was to fellow fans. Did you feel it was important to stay as positive as you did?

There was hope that fans would be back after a few months, at least in reasonable numbers. So we had a numbers of ex players booked to join us who would be experiencing Lionel Rd for the first time and would be introduced to the fans inside the stadium before the match. Covid saw so many changes throughout the season, mirroring the case levels so it was effectively an ever changing feast. Some ex-players had to be cancelled and dignitary numbers were often being lowered from an already miniscule number.

Contrary to what was said after one game we certainly did not have 200 fans in the ground!!

Considering supporters had missed out on what should have been a packed house for the very last game at Griffin Park and then not had the chance to be at the first game at the new stadium it is fair to say that Bees fans had every right to feel very disappointed and frustrated. Allowing the options to freeze ST’s and offering iFollow free for so many games, along with the GP Tours are all examples of the Club being in tune with supporters. The input from the various fan groups playing a big part in the right decisions being made.

iFollow suddenly had a much larger audience and with it quite a few adverts! We never knew when they were coming on! Plus half time discussions were cut short because of the same. The cost to watch the games appeared to be good value and did allow fans to stay in touch with the season, even if it’s nothing like being at the game. 

Some supporters freely admitted they enjoyed it more as it allowed the opportunity to see all games when they might previously have only attend a handful during a usual season.

Covering both audio & visual commentary at the same time was also something that required tolerance from fans, as it is not perfect plus there appeared to be the occasional technical issue.

Overall though, iFollow worked well during a very testing time for everyone.

These past 16 months have tested the mental health of everyone and football has been so important for us all to feel connected to ‘normality’ so we were very aware that Brentford’s success might have mean more to people than ever before. Match day routines changed for everyone. No drink with your mates before, maybe now it was sit around the laptop, or the whole family around the TV.

We were positive because I know everyone involved on commentary regularly felt this team would get promotion from quite a long way out. When the squad was struggling for rhythm and consistency I don’t feel it is unfair to say so. Following the draw at Wycombe we did say as much.

We knew fans were getting frustrated. It was fast approaching winter, with much fear & uncertainty away from football itself and message platforms were the only outlet to vent an opinion.

At most games supporters will use up emotional energy at the game but last season was so very different and you probably saw the best and worst of social media. We couldn’t cover the ‘Boro away game due to Covid issues and the local BBC team did a great job. Once Brentford took control they were full of praise for our Club. Unfortunately there was criticism on a phone in by several home fans post match who, rightly or wrongly, felt the commentators were too generous to the opposition.

We have always intended, as is very the Brentford way, to be respectful to the opposition but it is a Bees service so you are representing the fans. Often away fans will connect to the opposition service, presumably just to hear what is said about their team. After the Leeds game last season we had their fans writing on Twitter how nice it was to hear opposition commentary say they the best team we had played since Wolves, some extending this as the ‘fairest’ they had heard.

Giving an honest opinion, hopefully a fair one is all you can really do. Some will like it, others not.

We love the game because not everyone sees it the same way.

What was a real tonic throughout the season is getting some lovely messages from fans, something for which we are very grateful.

What do you think was our performance of the season?

There were some key ones for me.

The 3 points at Barnsley came in the middle of monthly wins in South Yorkshire and got our season going. Some robustness was starting to become clear.

We were excellent for a long time at Watford, showed great character to get a point in the end and the Bournemouth league win at home was probably the best of the season at Lionel Rd

The formation change at Preston was much needed at a difficult time, the 5-0 win against a normally solid side was flawless.

The Cherries feature heavily for me in the whole season, the win at The Vitality Stadium at the end of the season was another important 3 points. 

Jonathan Woodgate’s team were on a great run at the time with 7 (errr brackets) straight wins, scoring for fun and clearly believing they had timed it right, to entering the upcoming play offs with an air of invincibility. Brentford winning, with 10 men for nearly 50 mins, dealt a blow to Bournemouth from which they never truly recovered.

In the end there can though only be one game that had absolutely everything.

Football is about excitement and drama, none of which you truly experience without fans. We all wish there were more supporters in The Brentford Community Stadium, on 22nd May but in this wretched season 4,000 was a huge bonus. 

It was the day Lionel Road finally became our new home, rather fitting in a week that saw bulldozers doing their worst at the wonderful Griffin Park.

So much has been written about that play off win but there wasn’t a hint of panic when Bournemouth went 2-0 up in the tie, in rather strange circumstances. Brentford still believed, Thomas Frank believed. Lionel Rd still believed. Our fans believed. Bournemouth did not.

So it proved, as we witnessed a catastrophic decision making meltdown by the opposition whilst under pressure from a rampant Brentford team that refused to give up. After Chris Mepham’s red card there was an air of inevitability about the outcome, yet it remained wonderfully tense at the same time.

Forss strikes late and Lionel Road erupted.

Begovic goes up for a corner in time added on and we notice the M4 Elevated Section is at gridlock both ways. ’Everyone wants a piece of this game’ we said, as it did feel the whole world would have been engaged in this thriller.

The scenes at the end will never fade either.

It was a reminder just why you love football and  simply worship Brentford Football Club.

There can be only one for Mark

Ivan Toney is, understandably, in line for our player of the season. You’ve seen a lot of Brentford teams over the years, is he our best ever? And who else do you think deserves to make up the ‘top three’ at the end of season awards

Without doubt Ivan Toney is the best for me. Not just for his goals. Barry Fry said he was also Peterborough’s best defender and we’ve all seen why. The amount of times we have seen our striker heading away from an opposition set piece. ‘I get back and defend because I want to help the team, I want to win’ he said at Wembley.

That’s what we had witnessed all season. He was a little rusty at the start of the campaign but once up to speed you could see Ivan’s quality.

It was at Sheffield Wednesday in October that he showed us what an incredible touch he possesses, linking up play with the cutest of touches and headers to feet. That’s when I thought there wasn’t much missing from his game. He scores, he’s brave, he has the skills of a midfielder, he defends, he leads. Can play out wide too, just see the quality of his cross for Ghoddos’ goal in the win against Luton!

Ivan was substituted late against Rotherham in the away game, allowing Aaron Pressley to make his debut. Before leaving the pitch he urged all his players to stay focussed for the last few minutes to see out the win, one of the little things you notice at a game that make you realise what a special team player he is too.

One of the greatest leaders in a red & white shirt we have ever seen. Pure winner.

My second choice would be Vitaly Janelt. Half man, half robot. A signing I thought likely to be ‘one for the future’, like many no doubt. Following the injury to Christian Norgaard the timing of his introduction was perfect. A solid debut up at Hillsborough, then impressive in the win at Oakwell, followed up with scoring his first Brentford goal against QPR.

Then he just kept getting better.

At Cardiff he got scythed down twice but just got up and on with it. A man made of steel.

He scores big goals as well – none more than against Bournemouth in the play off second leg.

Editors note: There have been more than a few from Vitaly – although not all commentated on by Mark…. 😉

Third choice has to go to Sergi Canos.

The way he has come back after a tough start to the season and following a bad injury has been remarkable. Nothing but admiration for him and the flexibility to play wing back so effectively was vital in helping gain promotion. 9 goals for the season, including a hat trick at Cardiff, he has been a bright spark for us on & off the pitch.

Love his ‘We want more’ tweets after each win. Still only 24. Hard to believe.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

Over the years you’ve been alongside the likes of Greville Waterman, Luis Melville, Geoff Buckingham, and co, what do you think the current team bring to the commentary?

Diversity, knowledge, pragmatism, humility and a big understanding of all things Brentford, both past and present.

They have all been excellent plus Karleigh Osborne & Charlie MacDonald fantastic new additions.

We always say to ex players ‘just come in when you like, at any time, fans want to hear your views more’. Their opinions are vital to make it work on a match day.

Where do you thing Brentford will finish in the Premier League next season?

I’ll go for 15th in our first season in The Premier League. Bees will take some big scalps and also possibly have a few uncomfortable scoreline.

Lionel Rd will be an important advantage when near or at full capacity. The crowd can play a very big part, as always. It will be fascinating to see how new signings blend in, alongside the players we all believe will prove their quality at the top level.

One thing is for sure, Brentford will have no intention of being tourists.

Finally, just how special do you feel last season has been for everyone connected with Brentford Football Club?

It has been a truly remarkable achievement to gain promotion this past season.

The team had the shortest of breaks last summer before the new campaign got underway and had also lost two huge players in Watkins and Benrahma.

There was a somewhat inevitable hangover from last season and the squad were at a new stadium where there was little advantage as fans had never been experienced – it was never going to feel like ‘home’ under these circumstances. After the last game it most certainly will do!

We lost the fewest amount of games (joint with Norwich), were top scorers again, and went of an unbeaten run of 21 games, then ending with another one of 12. Considering the gruelling schedule, this says all about the quality & character of the players and management but also speaks volumes about some of those not in the spotlight, such as Neil Greig, head of medical, plus Chris Domoney (aka ‘Sladey’) who looks after the aching limbs and muscles so well, whilst his effervescent personality can be infectious for all around.

Take in the Carabao Cup run as well, where we reached the semi final (including a quick taster of VAR) then to go on to achieve the ultimate prize is unheard of at this level.

How often do you hear of knockout tournament runs derailing a promotion campaign? Not to Brentford though, who bucked the trend with a relatively small squad.

If you also factor in losing the talismanic Christian Norgaard for a big part of the season, as well as captain Pontus Jansson, then hitting the top of the table only to promptly lose two more big players in Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva, you start to realise a little bit more about the magnitude of this success, to still achieve promotion.

Off the pitch we also have our heroes. Such as Bees fans Jamie Powell & Billy Coleman, whom the Club and fans have supported through extremely difficult times.

This shows the strength and warmth of the Brentford family. We all need each other. Together we are stronger.

The fans groups, Bees United, Bias, the social media message boards. All have played their part in trying to keeping fans engaged. When automatic promotion slipped away there were many reasoned voices stating the case to stay positive, including this column, and it has been very much appreciated by many.

Jim Levack also wrote an informative article towards the end of the season after a timely conversation with a staff member following the Cardiff game.  It was a time for cool heads.

There were also so many confident fans who sparked calmer debate ahead of the season extension.  After all if you’ve supported the Bees for some time the mere thought of play offs make your head spin a little! Yet there were so many believers this time who probably helped others to keep the faith.

Next season will hopefully see crowds back and we can all enjoy football as we have been use to over the years. In The Premier League.

The Club is in good shape. Both on and off the pitch. It is run by people with understanding of others, true empathy, kindness and warmth. You will be treated as a supporter, not a customer.

Brentford is entering a new chapter, the brand is set to grow. Most of us never dreamed we would see our football club play in the top flight. Yet he we are. Awaiting the fixtures this Wednesday.

Bring on the fixtures…The Bees haven’t played Liverpool since the FA Cup in 1989

Lloyd Owusu finally did it.

12 Jun

The Forss is strong. Urghh, had to go there. Having successfully navigated Star Wars day, the fourth of May (note: not a real day or joke) the defences were down. Yet with Euro 2020 finally upon us and the mood in Brentford still high (moreso with the confirmation from one source that Fulham DO have to return theirs – see yesterday’s column) today has an extra level of spice. An extra level of excitement. For the home nations, focus is likely to be on Wales but for me, Clive, the real highlight is Denmark v Finland at 5pm. With it already being well documented that the Bees have more players in the tournament than Premier League stablemates Arsenal, today is the big Lionel Road reunion. 

Halil Dervişoğlu has already kicked off the Brentford connection, making it on to the field of play in last night’s opener between Italy and Turkey. A booking and match rating of 3.93 out of 10 insufficient to help his nation’s cause as 0-0 at half-time turned to a 3-0 victory for the Azzurri.

Yet depending on who is selected, tonight could see three out of the twenty-two players coming from Lionel Road. Christian Nørgaard and Mathias Jensen for Denmark with Marcus Forss representing Finland. Its a long way from a Bus stop in Hounslow to Telia Parken in Copenhagen but they’ve done it. With Sweden up against Spain on Monday, it could be a five out of five for the Bees before the Premier League fixtures have even come out.

For those of us interested in these things, the bookies have Denmark as red hot favourites. 2/5 for the win. Marcus is a rather precise 51/10 to score at any time. Christian 37/4 whilst my online provider (used purely for research purposes) isn’t quoting a price on Mathias . The BBC report him fit so go figure that one. Perhaps the lack of goalscorer price is based on the assumption Denmark will be awarded a free kick. Insert wink emoji.

That said, if you are reading, Mathias (he isn’t) let’s not forget that imperious form in the play-offs. Very much a man at the top of his game and so calm in the pressure cooker environment of the second leg semi and the subsequent final at Wembley. Which we won. In case anybody had missed the score. 2-0. Against Swansea. Brentford are in the Premier League.

The highlight of yesterday’s actions being the incredulity poured on the radio controlled car used to ferry the ball form the touchline to centre circle prior to kick off. A superfluous gimmick designed for no other reason than presumably to save the referees wrists additional strain and promote a car manufacturer.  Harry loved it although he’s only just 8 years old. The again, kids love Jar Jar Binks and Paw Patrol so it’s not a great yard stick.

As Mollie Goodfellow wrote on Twitter, “Sources telling me if a player needs to be stretchered off they will simply be driven off by four remote control 4x4s carrying a stretcher.

Still, it doesn’t take to be overly serious. If anything, there’s the ongoing moment of anticipation for when the ball delivery system is sure to go wrong. Could the driver end up being breathalysed? Stick to the Budweiser to avoid any danger there.

Back home, the demolition of Griffin Park continues. Cycling home from the school run yesterday, I had to perform a cartoon style double take on Brook Road. There was the New Road stand to my left but something was missing. Next time… Fly KLM. Not any more 😦 

Delorean Gray on Twitter hit the nail on the head, noting: “Lloyd Owusu finally did it.

Thankfully, there’s plenty to keep us distracted from what still remains a sensitive topic for many. The years spent at Griffin Park are packed full of memories  – good and bad. So many of us grew up there and it IS hard seeing it go. On a personal note, I’m thrilled the ongoing delays meant our Harry had a chance to experience how incredible a place it was. That he has invested in football so heavily is quite wonderful (right now we’re having to watch a rerun of Italy – Turkey). Equally though, and it was Mark Burridge who got it bang on the other week, that Bournemouth game was the moment Lionel Road became home. 

We’ve moved on. Griffin Park has a huge place in my heart but the future lies elsewhere. We’ve players at the Euros and we’re Premier League. The only was is up…

Nick Bruzon  

Relive it all once more, in style.

5 Jun

What more can you say? Well let’s start by saying that Brentford are Premier League. And yes, it HAS been said many, many times over the last few days but it just fits so well. Sounds so sweet. Finally, finally finally this stage of our journey is over. Finally we’ve got a notch in the ‘W’ column for a game at Wembley. It’ll be Chelsea rather than Craven Cottage for the West London derby. Brighton rather than Blackpool for our trip to the seaside. Manchester City and Aston Villa as the teams to discuss with two of my closest non-Bees supporting friends. There is nothing but excitement ahead and, as much as anything else, perhaps a summer now able to be spent enjoying the Euros rather than vast tracts of the squad being snapped up by top flight clubs. If you support Brentford, life is good. 

This time last week, the anticipation was building. As was an element of angst. On paper, we all knew that Brentford were the better team than Swansea City. Yet in our hearts, we all knew this was a one-off game at what for us had been the most jinx-laden of venues. Anything could happen in 90 minutes. In a one-off game of football. 

Thankfully, as revealed in Kitman Bob’s exclusive insight to the build up this week, those were not feelings shared by the squad. The togetherness and spirit we had seen all season combining once more to get us over the line during the week and on the day itself. You can read Bob’s diary here and, even if you have already, do it again. Just because these moments deserve to be relived.

Yet if Bob has done his thing, last night was the turn of Stu Wakeford, Marcus Gayle and Karleigh Osborne. The Warm Up was back on our screens for another look at the game, the beautiful, beautiful afters aswell as, of course, their thoughts and hopes for the coming Premier League season. 

They have the goals. The celebrations. Fan footage. The additional key moments of which, for me Clive, ‘that’ Ivan Toney blockbuster gets nearer and nearer to making it 3-0 every time I watch it. Obviously the result is the important thing, and we got it, but just imagine the noise had that dropped a few inches kinder to clear the line. What an absolutely stunning goal that would have been. One to rival Dallas at Fulham. 

There’s even the revelation that Karleigh ‘did a JJ’ (and if you know, you know). Quite possibly the real reason we won the game. There’s a lot of love for Thomas and our own, grounded approach to football. Marcus, in particular, absolutely nailing what it means to be a Brentford fan and what your club is all about. I’ve watched it once. I’ll do it again. Being quite honest, I can’t get enough of last weekend. It has been SUCH a long time coming. Even last night, with Gibraltar 4-0 down at half time in Slovenia (thankful there would be no brackets involved at the end of the game) , we flicked off the red button and there were the highlights on Sky again. Don’t mind if I do. Perhaps this time, the crossbar will give Ivan a slightly kinder bounce .

The Warm Up is on now. You can catch it below. Find out who wants Chelsea next season. Who is getting excited about Old Trafford. What Pep might say when Manchester City come to visit. Most of all, just enjoy the sheer, unadulterated happiness of what we have achieved.

Nick Bruzon

Time to remember some heroes.

16 Feb

Brentford travel to Loftus Road tomorrow for a game with QPR. A game where we’ll be looking to get back on the horse after the humungous unbeaten run finally came to an end in game 22 at the hands of Barnsley. Oh well. We go… once more. Every team has an off day. That’s football. Whether a temporary wobble such as that experienced by Bournemouth in recent weeks or a more rounded falling apart. Again. Like Leeds United in recent season(s). However, even they eventually found their mojo and look at how the Elland Road outfit are flying now. Here’s to joining them soon and it starts on Wednesday evening when we take part in the 237 derby. We’ll look at that in more depth tomorrow but for now, we’ve another guest columnist (following Harry’s debut yesterday – and thank you all for the kind comments on the socials about that one) in Bernard Quackenbush. Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers are appealing. Not a phrase I thought would ever be used and, perhaps, best to start there as they look to support the legend that is Stan Bowles.

We all know Stan. Know the stories. Know the legend. Know the mercurial talent who – along with the likes of Les Ferdinand, Ian Holloway and Yoann Barbet – are best known for their stints at Griffin Park. QPR are welcome to Martin Rowlands. Yet now a group of their supporters are looking for football fans’ help. Normally, such a distress signal going up from Loftus Road would be met with us telling them to kiss my badge but this is different. This is for Stan. This is to try and persuade the club owners to create a permanent tribute to the supporter favourite.

It takes someone special to unite the supporters of each club. To be equally admired by both. But if you saw him play, you’d know. So, for once, here’s the ask. Let’s help our neighbours. There’s a petition that can be signed here. If nothing else, it’ll force their owners to spend some money and perhaps we can see it in the FA Cup next season. Assuming we can go to football next season. In all seriousness though, Stan was a rare breed in his time on pitch – a player you’d pay to go and see in his own right. Here’s to signing off on this one and then getting back to usual tomorrow night.

Stan – genius!

Ok, on to the main business of the day. Our guest columnist. Regular readers to these pages and Bees based Twitter users will likely be familiar with the Bournemouth based fan. His comments are always worth a look and, like Harry, anything he adds to the main pages instantly makes me question why I waste my own time doing this. However, an opportunity for his own input is never one to be spurned and so with some food for thought, over to BQ……..

Way back in July when those final couple of games at Griffin Park reached their ‘denouement’, I wondered how to mark the occasion. I thought about doing a feature on the greatest players to ever play at the old girl, but then I realised I knew next to nothing about those heroes who graced the hallowed turf way before I was born….but then its struck me. Why not feature all those players I wanted to be in the local park when playing with my friends, and all those players I admired ever since I first saw that beautiful green turf on Saturday 28th April 1979.

So I got jotting down all those names of players I admired. There were plenty who would be on all of our lists, and one or two who may only be on a few of our lists. I had no idea how long the list would be when I started, but looking at the list when completed, I realised that the thread may end up taking longer than watching the whole of Mahabharat. It was purely accidental that the very last hero yesterday was number 150.

So what about the players themselves. Of course there were the obvious ones like King Kev, King Jota and King…er…Said, but there were plenty of heroes who got on my list just for what they did one game like Alex Rhodes (goal against Bounemouth), Jon Toral (hat trick against Blackpool) & Micky Droy (staring out a whole stand at Bournemouth). As you may have noticed, Bournemouth crops up a lot. I emigrated to the golden sands when I was still in infant school, and I have been here ever since. To me, a game against the Muff is as big as Fulham or Shepherds Bush. I have more friends who are Cherries fans than Bees fans, and so I always taken great delight in those Bournemouth related moments. Whether it was Marcus Bean’s midfield masterclass. Stephen Hunt down at Dorch, Lee Harvey and the raining cushions, Chris Kamara and the Freight Rover and the sight of a very drunk fancy dress adorned Kevin Dearden staggering past my flat in Boscombe.

Oh, Jota….

One of the joys of the hero thread has been hearing from you guys who have shared your memories too. Now if this had been one of those Channel 5 countdowns then Paul Tonkinson would have been David Goodwin, Paul Coster & one or two others and Grace Dent, has to be Deb & her camera down in Chepstow. I thank each and every one of you for your comments and memories Also it was really fun to see the heroes themselves passing comment. From Clayton Donaldson’s fist pump, to Lloyd Owusu going one further with raised hands, cant think why he did that! Lasse Vibe correcting me on when he left. I’m sure he knows better than I do! Marcus Bean lamenting Karleigh & Powell for coming to blows at Dean Court. Bob Booker being a gent & replying to all who commented. But best of all was Paul Gibbs and Leon Legge describing how they remember their time at GP with great fondness and particularly us the fans. A final word on this goes to Natalie Sawyer, who commenting on Jonathan Douglas simply said… ‘I guess he’s alright’.

I thank each and every one of you for your likes on the thread. It was fascinating to see some players I expected to be raining likes to get 1 or 2. Sadly, Alex Rhodes, Henrik Dalsgaard & Billy Clarke all got the usual United Kingdom score in Eurovision of nul points. We love you really guys! At the other end of the scale it was current player Christian Norgaard, closely followed by Richard Cadette who registered over 50 likes. Other notable giants of the thread included Paul Nicholas lookalike Neil Smillie, Alan McCormack, Kevin Godfrey, and the previously mentioned Vibe & Legge. Some heroes helped it along a little by liking themselves including Romaine Sawyers, Karleigh Osborne, Yoann Barbet, Nathan Elder, Paul Evans, Ben Burgess, Steve Sidwell, as well as Bean & Macca. Paul Gibbs liked his former captain, Evans and Glen Poole, not only liked himself, but also liked Ryan Dickson, Nathan Elder & Billy Manuel. Did he owe them all drinks or something?

Triple B. BIG… BENNNN. BURGESSSSS

It was great reading some of your comments too, from Luis Adriano’s debut pitch invasion after a Paddy Roche penalty save on the last day of the season. Tales of Joe Allon telling one fanzine writer that his most difficult opponent was his ex-wife. How Dean Holdsworth was asked by one supporter to get a hat trick for him that night, and managing to bag a brace. How someone else saw Terry Evans clatter into the back post and felt sorry for the post. Toumani being able to put in the perfect tackle with his Inspector Gadget legs. How Fred Callaghan seemed to fall out with literally everyone and your usual host of these lauded pages naming Gus Hurdle as one his all time favourite full backs.

Our heroes were not only noticed by Bees. Fans from deepest darkest Dorset remembered Denny Mundee, particularly in a game at GP. Posh fans remembered Robbie Cooke. Everyone Alan McCormack ever played for loved him, but the biggest word goes out to the Bairns of Falkirk who regaled tales of Richard Cadette and his goal against the Gers. A wonderful memory for fans of a club who sadly only able to see their heroes in old clips.

One of my all time heroes – Bliss – with Oohh Richie Cadette

There were of course many who didn’t make the cut. It was not because they were not good enough. This list was not about technique and skill. This list was about heart and about those who made me proud to be a Bee. Which leads me to my last choice. My all time favourite Bee, Denny Mundee. If there was one player who personified what its like to be a Bee, for me it was Denny. Chucked onto the football scrapheap. Denny was looking for a new home, and was taken in by Brentford. He was given a short contract and started off well enough at full back, but for some mad reason he was then given the opportunity to express himself in a way he had never been able to express himself before. Like the reveal of superhero, Denny went from run of the mill utility man to the Diego Maradona of the 3rd tier. Twiddling one way, shuffling the other way, unleashing a power shot from 30 yards out, and then he vanished just as quickly as he arrived.

My last thanks are to all of you who kept with me throughout the thread, but most of all my thanks go out to those 150, plus all the others who made Griffin Park a huge part of our lives. A place where we laughed, cried and screamed for joy, and occasionally invaded the pitch.

Denny. As stylish on pitch….
…. as he was off it.

BQ

Many thanks, indeed, Bernard. There’s not much more to add except, perhaps, my own personal thanks for allowing a trawl through both the photo archives and the memory banks. Good times. Good times indeed. Here’s to many, many more and a new breed of heroes coming to the fore.

And if you’d like to read more, the ‘hashtag’ #trophyfriends… I mean #MyGriffinParkHeroes is on Twitter where you can follow the whole countdown.

Until then, here’s another few of mine. Kevin Godfrey and Allan Cockram…

Kev-in God-frey. Kev-in God-frey.
Cockers……..

Nick Bruzon