Tag Archives: Griffin Park

Maupay does it again. What a way to celebrate. Again.

17 Jan

Life isn’t great at the moment. Not compared to normal. The relentless grind of Lockdown and ‘that’ virus. Games played out in empty stadia. Brentford not even able to take the field at the moment due to our own training ground being closed – albeit results have gone largely in our favour whilst we’ve been away – thanks, Luton.) Yet sitting at home yesterday afternoon there was a moment to put a smile on the face once more. Delivered in the game between Leeds United and Brighton c/o that king of shithousery, Neal Maupay. A cult hero at Griffin Park to rank alongside the best of them. 

We all loved Neal. No question. That goal and celebration at Fulham. The absolute dirt that went alongside his game. Cheeky digs. Sly tugs. A side to a Brentford player we’d not seen in a long, long time. Somebody you wouldn’t want to get close to, yet had that wonderful combination of mercurial talent combined with unpredictable volatilty. Err, what Aston Villa game? He was, rightly, lauded at Griffin Park. We’d have loved him to stay but we’ve all moved on. Our loss, Brighton’s gain. Had he stayed there’d have been no Ollie Watkins up front. Win-win.

The classic Neal image? Perhaps….

Yet, as we all know, his ultimate moment was up at Elland Road. Back in October 2018, with the scores locked at 0-0 in an early season Championship pacesetter, Ollie was brutally fouled (errr) by Leeds ‘keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Up stepped Neal to not only score from the spot but then celebrate in that quite wonderful style. Only he would have had the balls to take on the home contingent, arms aloft and fronting them out in the face of all manner of , understandable, abuse flying back. Cripes, had the boot been on the other foot we’d have been spewing. It was bad enough that the spot kick had been deemed questionable but this was then the ultimate indignity for the home support. A celebration to rank with the best of them and an iconic moment. 

It was a moment only bettered in the return fixture at Brentford when Neal scored again. Right in front of the away fans. He celebrated, again. Right in front of the away fans. Same pose, same stare, same abuse. Talk about king of wind up. The man has balls of steel. If anybody was looking to endear themselves to the home support then here it was. Griffin Park erupted. If it wasn’t possible to love him anymore, then here was the opportunity to do so. 

Then, Brighton came knocking and we went our separate ways. That’s football. Neal is still a fixture in my life – even if just through the medium of Fantasy Football. Then, yesterday, at Leeds United, it all came flooding back. He scored for Brighton. The Seagulls 1-0 up. The only thing missing being supporters to see the goal live. 

No matter. This is Maupay. This was Leeds. This is the man who lives for the moment. And sure enough, he did. He celebrated in the only way he knew how. Despite the fact there was nobody there to wind up. Oh, we all knew how much this meant. And it was brilliant. Never have I enjoyed a goal in a different division for a club I don’t even support so much. This one was all about the man, the moment and the place. What a way to liven up an otherwise desperate Saturday.

Thank you, Neal. Thank you for doing this.

Time for a bit of Frank talking with each other.

25 Oct

How are we all doing in Brentford this morning? Presumably still smarting over yesterday’s defeat at Stoke City or looking onwards and upwards? To the visit of Norwich City and then a trip to Luton Town. For what it’s worth (not much, apparently), I’m past it already. All the pontification about the formation won’t change anything. It’s how we react to it collectively that matters now. This was one game and there was enough there in the second half to suggest that, actually, change can be a good thing. I’ve also now seen the interview with Thomas Frank – at least, the 2 minutes 53 seconds put out by the club. That’s below… 

Say what you want about Thomas’s answers but he can only react to the softball questions casually tossed to him. These are the times when the fans are desperate to hear his thoughts on what went wrong but it felt as vanilla a Q&A as could be delivered. Of course,’official’ aren’t going to spill the tactical beans, overly show our hand or hang the coach out to dry but a bit of pressure would have been nice.

Oh, for BBC Billy Reeves and some of his characteristic gentle probing. The killer question delivered with all the charm of Leslie Phillips apologetically wielding a sledgehammer.  

Billy Reeves (kind of) – a portrait of charm and that sledgehammer blow

For me, Clive, the key point to take from this one was in regards to our formation. Was it tactical? Done due to personnel reasons? Or a bit of both?  Thomas’ answer confirming the combination approach but giving some reasoning and future notice that things are likely to be similar when Norwich City are in town. 

We are struggling a little bit with injuries, especially in the middle of the park with midfielders. For the second game in a row we only had three midfielders available from the squad and we know its most likely to be the same on Tuesday.” Going on to add that, “It’s a long season. We’re playing a lot of games. We are fit, we are strong but its also about keeping that freshness.”

Read in to that what you will. More of the same to follow, presumably, but which same? Five at the back or Ivan and Marcus back together again? The difference between the two formations was obvious to all. Going for broke and opting for the later one which puts all our attacking eggs in one basket from the off but I’m sure something which would shut the moaners up. And I don’t mean about yesterday’s performance – which was rancid – but in general.

That, and dropping Sergi who seems to have become the social media target of choice. He didn’t have a good one yesterday but you could say that about the vast majority. Henrik had a stinker. All three centre backs were stretched and caught out of line time and again. There was no service at all to Ivan. Yet the enthusiastic Spaniard is one kopping it from all angles and seemingly the reason we don’t have a record of WWWWWWW. Hmmm. 

Nobody came out of the opening hour with any credit. But if we learn form it then perhaps no bad thing in the longer scheme. Stoke City absolutely deserved their win, regardless of our own shortcomings. The season is a long one and there are going to be more decisions made which we don’t agree with. Decisions made based on fitness, tactics and a myriad of injury related factors we’re just not privy to. Sometimes it will work. At others, like yesterday, it won’t.

As Thomas himself acknowledged, “In the end it wasn’t good enough ……It was not spot on in the first half for various reasons but to be fair we could have played 3-4-3, 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 7-9-13 and I don’t think that would have helped first half.

The one obvious positive has to be the role played by Marcus Forss. He can hit a ball but he can also read the game. Ice running through his veins, judging by the finish for his second. What composure. What calmness. It gave brief hope we could still pull something out of the fire and whilst it wasn’t to be, talk about impressive. Another one storming up the blindside to emerge into the light, a fully fledged Championship and international player. 

One from the official Twitter feed – the real shining light on an otherwise dark day

For all that Thomas has injury problems to contend with, what a nice challenge at the other end of the spectrum with both Marcus and Ivan banging them in for fun. Get the supply lines and formation right ongoing and the Stoke game could well be seen as a turning point in our fortunes, much like Stevenage away all those years ago.

Not that we’re in any form of crisis, btw. One shit hour doesn’t define a season. The key point to come is what we learn from it. In how we react over the next few games. I’m not joining those getting on Thomas’ back. Quite the opposite.  Of course people have opinions and every right to express them. Context is always nice. And justification , of course. 

For me, he knows this squad. He has a wonderful way of motivating players. Look at how last season went as we hit that wonderful run after the clocks went back. The players, head coach and fans in unison.

We’ve lost that, now. There is no physical support. No closeness. The bond broken thanks to Corona. Of course, every team has the same to contend with yet for for us at Brentford it was always a huge factor. That tight stadium and proximity of fans to the action was massive. Those post-match walkabouts seeing the symbiotic relationship between those on pitch and those in the stands growing ever closer. Geeing each other up to the point where we hadn’t even left Griffin Park and already couldn’t wait for the next game.

It is a massive advantage that has been removed from our armoury and with game following game following game, needs to be considered by those wondering why we’re not winning everything 5-0. Support and motivation from the stands are a massive thing for players. Everybody acknowledges that football without fans isn’t the same. Injuries bite and necessitate change. Tired legs are already obvious to see.

Thomas and the crowd have always fed off each other’s energy

It’s how we react to these factors that is going to be so crucial to our fortunes over the next month or so. Look at he bigger picture and we’re well, well set. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We have a fantastic squad and a passionate head Coach who, for the record, better not be going anywhere. That’s my opinion and you may feel it is wrong. Fair enough but as one fan to another, explain why. Explain what you would do. How you would cope with a relentless series of games that would test the fittest of players. How you would motivate players rattling around empty stadia.

Those, for me, are the challenges faced by not just Brentford but every club in this division. This Championship campaign is going to be one of the most open on record. Careful management of the squad will be key to success. This is what we are trying.

Life’s too short and too hard at present to lose it on negativity. That’s not me wearing a club hat (they don’t employ me and I have no obligation to kiss anybody’s butt). It’s me fed up with the constant moaning about a team who have a progressive set up, a passionate head coach and are only four points off second place.

That said, please let’s never play three centre backs again.

Nick Bruzon  

Set your alarms for 5.30pm. And also the future.

1 Oct

Well this got interesting. With Newcastle United ghosting past Newport County last night (needing an 87th minute equaliser and penalties), Brentford go into tonight’s league cup tie with Fulham knowing that victory could make us the only club outside of the top flight in the quarter finals. Or are we still calling it the round of eight? Hopefully not. Let’s file that atrocity with Mrs. Browns boys, eXpresso (sic) and the England ‘Supporters’ ‘band’. Only Stoke City, travelling to Aston Villa, remain as EFL representatives.

Seriously……

Forget Fulham. Please. Leave them to their clackers and gin. This is all about Brentford tonight.  This is all about the first phase in what has been a frenetic opening to the League Cup drawing to a close.

The fifth round doesn’t take place until just prior to Christmas. The relentless cycle of mid-week games that has seen us go full tilt towards the final eight clubs now paying for breath. Win or lose, we’ll all be able to concentrate on the league. For a while at least.

With that in mind, how hard does Thomas Frank go? We’ve never reached the quarter-finals before and so this really does represent an excellent chance to achieve that aim. As our head coach noted in Wednesday’s press conference, “Everyone who is involved in this beautiful sport would like to change history and be a part of history. We would like to achieve the first bit of that by qualifying for the Quarter-Final. That is why it is a big game for us.

Thomas also confirmed that Said Benrahma would be part of the squad whilst Saman Ghoddos now has international clearance so is also available. I’d expect the former to start. Presumably a substitute’s role for our latest acquisition.

Rico Henry has a low grade hamstring injury but the medical opinion is that niggle will have cleared up by the weekend. We all know the rest of those faces likely to be fighting it out for a start. I can only imagine Thomas will keep similar faith with the bulk of the team that knocked out Southampton and West Bromwich Albion in the previous two rounds. The bench could be very tasty, too….

As if anybody needed reminding, this one has been changed for TV. The game is live on Sky with a 5.30pm kick off. It’s amazing the amount of people caught out by changes in kick-off times before (something as frustrating as getting to the gates, only to release you’ve left your season tickets behind). I include myself in at least one of those categories.

So, if any prompt is needed, it’s a 5.30pm kick off with coverage beginning half-an hour earlier. Set your alarms.

Don’t forget…

The obvious elephant in the room is the W place. Not so much what happened a few months back but more the fact we can only see that point being bludgeoned to death. One can only hope the commentary team and pundits will avoid the obvious low-hanging front but its just too predictable and easy a target not to take aim at. Which is a shame because this should be all about reaching that stadium again. About two teams who have responded to the start of THIS season in very different styles. About what is to come. 

Stop. Stop. It’s already dead..

As Thomas also said in his conference when faced with the obvious question, “For me that is the past, it is history. What we can affect, and do something about, is the game tomorrow which is a huge opportunity for the team and the Club to write history.”

Well done. I don’t care about ‘revenge’ or any such pay back. For me, if there is any consideration given to the opposition this evening, it is merely to show, once more, what an irrelevance the Michael Jackson fanclub are. This is all about us. About taking another step towards our future and unchartered ground. Another step towards the quarter-finals. Another step towards silverware.

And with all the subtly of a wrecking ball, if ever life for Brentford was all about the future then nowhere was it more apparent than at Griffin Park yesterday. We’ve already had the farewell tours and that absolutely bonkers auction (cripes, I’m still paying for that…) but now the builders really are moving in.

I know a lot of fans find this distressing and, to be fair, it’s not something I’m going out of my way to hunt down. However, with the twice daily school run talking us past the old ground, anything new happening is sure to attract attention. Sure enough, yesterday afternoon’s trip really does seem to indicate that the end is nigh……

The builders are moving in

Still, as is very much the theme of today’s thoughts, the past belongs there. It really is all about the future. That continues this evening at Lionel Road. See you on the couch at five-thirty.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon   

Needless to say, he had the last laugh.

10 Sep

And with that, Ollie Watkins was revealed at Aston Villa. The latest Brentford star to make the step up to the top flight. These days,  the Villans rather than Wycombe or Birmingham City are the ones becoming our ‘B’ team. He joins Jota, Ezri Konsa and manager/ head coach Dean Smith in a squad that could be argued as , if not ‘ten times better’, certainly one chock full of talent. England debutant Jack Grealish the most prodigious of the stars that will be playing alongside our (former) man.

That’s about as ‘official’ as it gets.

There was nothing but good wishes from all at , err, Lionel Road when the news was announced. A low key statement from Brentford, “All the best, Ollie. The striker has this morning completed his move to @AVFCOfficial for an undisclosed fee” was followed by a much more in depth piece detailing the move. Albeit, the fee of £28million with a further £5million in add-ons was not confirmed. Kerr-chinggg! 

After the season he had, and that unmentionable final game, it was unlikely Ollie would be staying. No complaints here. Quite the opposite. He has his dream move and a well deserved reward for all the hard work and good times. Brentford have shown we are no longer the pushovers in the transfer market that we were in days gone by. Now, there is no need to sell. Just the knowledge that we help players progress, with replacements lined up, and release them when it is mutually beneficial. 

Cripes – what a price. I saw a comment that says it is the 12th highest ever paid for an English player. Aston Villa have absolutely got an international star in the making. If he can continue his goal scoring hot streak – and Dean will know what his man can do – then the England shirt will be beckoning. Neal Maupay showed last season how that step up to the top flight can be made. I fully expect more of the same from Ollie. 

There was a graphic from Sky Sports on Twitter yesterday, declaring Brentford to be ‘Masters of the transfer market’. 

Looking at it in cold, hard figures you’d be doing well to disagree. Not just with the fees but , as much, our recruitment process. How far away do all the sneers now seem? The talk of Matthew Benham’s system being nothing more than robotics and Moneyball? Of him inhabiting a Doctor Evil style ‘lair’? That one was Clem, I recall. Needless to say, he’s had the last laugh. (Matthew, rather than Clem).

Talk to the hand – a strange analogy once made about Matthew Benham’s HQ

So who next? Joel Valencia seems set for a loan out to Legia Warsaw. Talk on Said Benrahma has gone quiet. Very quiet. Is he also Aston Villa bound? Somehow, possibly, maybe sitting tight? Hey, one can dream. David Raya still seem inexorably linked with Arsenal although the club have made it absolutely clear we are not interested in even considering a sale. It’ll be telling to see what happens when we visit Birmingham City on Saturday lunchtime. For the record, I expect David to start and be with us all season.

As ever with Brentford, this is all out of our control. Stressing about it won’t do any good. Confidence in who will comes in to replace those that have moved on is something which should remain sky high. Past seasons have more than proved that, now we’ve got the Proschwitz style kinks out of the system. Ivan Toney is the latest of those to join us and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the red and white.

That’s all to come. The season proper starts on Saturday. The transfer window remains open until early October. That’s a LONG time. Urgh. Still, heads down. Teeth gritted. Move along, nothing to see here. Nothing to worry about if it does happen. He says….

Until then, it’s a case of one more ‘Good luck’ Ollie. Not that he needs it. Perhaps more a case of ‘So long and thank you for everything’. Here’s to seeing you on Match Of The Day.

And finally, don’t forget that all The Last Word season reviews remain available, for free download for your kindle e-book reader. There’s only a day or so of this to run so please help yourselves – if you want. You can pick up 2013/14 – 2017/18 here, there’s 2018/19 here whilst the latest effort (which is probably the word), covering 2019-20 is here. These are free so get in now. Once these go back to ‘regular’ price (the Amazon store gives five free days every three months) then any monies received go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust…

Thanks, as ever.

You can read about all this sort of stuff once more

Nick Bruzon

The free signings this club must pick up in the current window.

8 Sep

Is there really such a thing as a free lunch? I can’t answer, I can’t answer that (as popular music’s Bros once sang whilst pondering the question as to whether they would ever reach the heights of popular acclaim). But there is such a thing as a free book and this one’s for you, Brentford fans. A gift that may be as entertaining and welcome as an interview with Harlee Dean or, equally, as full of nonsense as an interview with.. 

However, with the next Championship campaign bearing down on us we’ve reached ‘that’ time of year. The chance to use the phrase “And if you’d like to read more” as the Last Word review of the previous season hits the e-book shelves. This time around is no different but, also, it is…

The latest effort went live yesterday. You can find ‘Farewell, Griffin Park’ in the usual places (or just follow this link) for your kindle or other e-book reader. It’ll set you back £1.99 and contains all the nonsense from these pages in one consolidated format along with all the articles submitted for the matchday programme in their original format. There are typos and grammatical errors, despite the best endeavours of yours truly, but it is meant as a bit of fun. Any/all money received (stranger things have happened) goes to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust although if you hold fire it should be available free for a five day period very shortly.

And that’s what we have done for the previous two efforts. If you fancy the six previous seasons of nonsense or the chance to see how often we moan about eXpresso, Mrs. Browns Boys, the England ‘supporters band and Star Wars Day (along with all the usual football chat) then they are available for nothing. For free. For a few more days at least.

You can pick up both ‘There Is No Plan B – Brentford FC season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18’ and also ‘The Jaffa cake Shirt – Brentford FC season review: 2018/19‘ for free. Now. Help yourselves. All you need is the ability to follow a hyperlink and an electronic device to read them on.

Hey, there needs to be some way to fill the time between now and the transfer window creaking shut.

Enjoy. Or moan about the typos. Either way, the chance to relive the highs (and, err, lows) may help kill a bit of time until we are allowed back inside a ground.

Thank you.

Nick Bruzon

The new era at Brentford is now, officially, under way.

7 Sep

The first ‘competitive’ fixture at Lionel Road has taken place and it has been marked with a victory. Brentford beating Wycombe Wanderers on penalties after a 1-1 draw. A win which sees us progress to the second round where we now face a trip to Southampton next Tuesday. There’s no messing around, with this one, that’s for sure, with the draw for the third round having also taken place. Don’t lose any sleep waiting for that tie – another away game to visit the winners of the clash between West Bromwich Albion and Harrogate Town. Instead the focus is, surely, on the forthcoming trek to Birmingham City and the start of the Championship proper.

Let’s start with Wycombe, though. Brentford lined up with the expected mix of B-team players and first teamers in an encounter that was treated more as a pre-season friendly than a chance to progress in the cup. There were run outs for new signings Charlie Goode and Ivan Toney whilst Sergi was on from the start and back to his best. He did everything but score, unleashing a delightful through ball in the first half to release Ivan then curling one oh-so close in the second. He eventually got the goal his game deserved in the spot kick shoot out.

Luke Daniels was captain for the day and Ethan Pinnock got the goal. A quite superb header back across goal after connecting with a sweet Jensen dead ball delivery found the back of the net late on in the first half. Despite Fosu, Toney and the aforementioned Spaniard coming close things remained level until a rare error from the imperious Pinnock – overcooking a ball in the defensive zone – opened up the game for Wycombe and there was no mistake from Daryl Horgan. 

This, despite, the visitors being down to ten men for most of the second half. Their physical approach – that saw at least two bloody noses – reaping the expected ‘rewards’ after Dominic Gape was shown red for ploughing through Jan Zamburek. Yet they held their own and in the end it came down to penalties. Luke Daniels pulling off a save before Marcus Forss stepped up to bury the fifth and take Brentford through. Job done.

I can’t draw too many conclusions from this one. By the time we get to Birmingham City, those on international duty will be back in the fold. The squad sure to be looking ten times better despite the expected absence of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma. Thomas Frank made it clear we are planning for life without them already. The first of those ten games towards the table ‘taking shape’ is going to give much more of a sign as to how he sees his team lining up this season.

As for our new home, the universal response from those present was that Lionel Road is superb. Looking at the various ebullient Twitter feeds on Sunday, it seemed we had a stadium full of journalists in there to go alongside the Sky cameras. All of them gushing about how amazing it was. It certainly appeared to be for those of us looking in from the couches and pubs. Even Jon Varney was there in front of the sky cameras, giving a guided tour. Safe to say his acting hasn’t progressed overly since the run in with Kurupt FM.

Thomas Frank has lost his whiteboard. A more traditional team talk accompanied the build up to the spot kicks although he did, at least, have the advantage over his opposite number when it came to the battle of the luxuriant locks.

Say what you want about Gareth Ainsworth but he sticks to his principals – on and off pitch. Wycombe were robust but kept going until the end. The Bees can count themselves lucky to progress after not putting this one to bed earlier. Yet at the same time, we are through. With no injuries. I’ll take that and party.

Next up, Birmingham City. The season proper starts this weekend. Until then, there’s just a few more loose ends to tie up. First up, the auction. ‘That’ red jacket has now made it home. I can’t wait until we are allowed back into a stadium. The obvious allure of being able to watch live football aside, surely Thomas will have no choice but to wear this for real?

We spoke yesterday about the novelty cheques, strange signs and other items now finding new homes. For me, seeing the jacket in action will be a sign that dome form of normality is returning.   

The other thing at this time of year is the publication of the usual ‘season review’ on kindle e-book. The latest version is up now and contains a season’s worth of these musings along with the Park Life columns submitted for the programme column. As ever, ANY money made will be given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.   However, give it a day or so and it should be up on a five day free download – along with the previous works. Personally, I’d sit tight for that but it’s your call. That’s even if you want it which, let’s be honest, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

But if you’d like to read more and relive last/previous seasons at your leisure  – whether for free or by giving a little donation to the Sports Trust – then the link is here.

Enjoy. Or Endure (given how things played out).

Nick Bruzon

Brentford 2.0 – Here we go again.

6 Sep

It seems barely five minutes ago that the Covid interrupted season came to a close. The Griffin Park auction has only just completed and my nerves still feel shredded after reliving the agony of Stoke, Barnsley and the Craven Cottage outfit. The most painful play-off campaign out of our nine attempts still sore. Still niggling. Still a sense of incredible frustration after coming so, so close. Yet now we are back underway as fellow Championship stablemates Wycombe Wanderers visit in the first round of the League Cup. The first ‘competitive’ game at our new home, Lionel Road. 

The end to last season was horrible, for all those well documented reasons. Shut out of our home (as were fans of all clubs) in an attempt to control the pandemic. Denied the chance to say goodbye in person. Having our hopes raised by that most amazing run in before that heart-wrenching conclusion. We know what happened. We won’t overly rake over it anymore after today (although if you would like to read more then news incoming…) because it won’t change anything. Except, perhaps, provide inspiration. The desire to know how good we are and to go one better this time.

If anything, it may have been frustration of a different sort to actually reach the top flight and then remain locked out. Perhaps, in an odd sort of way, it’s better to take the long route around? Ok, I’m clutching at straws but the point being that the green shoots of optimism are returning. 

The pain IS still there but now it is more of a reminder than a cloud of doom hanging over the head’. ‘Supporters’ abusing Thomas and the team after they had  “bottled” it, they had “choked it and worse (not my words but let’s not forget all that nonsense, it did happen) now more a historical reminder about the nature of football fans. It’s emotional stuff. 

I get people were upset. I was too. Hugely. As were my family. Having to answer a hundred questions of “What happened?” or respond to condolences from well meaning colleagues nothing more than something designed to illicit a response of “F**k the f**k off and then f**k off some more” . But it didn’t. Lips bitten and friends were politely spoken too.Just as our on pitch heroes were  – even if a few morons may have coped a bit in return..

That was then. This is now. It may feel like mere minutes have passed but progress has been significant. Charlie Goode and Ivan Toney have both joined the squad. Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahama are both still Bees. For now. I can’t see either player staying but would love if it somehow happened, of course. Josh Dasilva is our latest international U-21 and Lionel Road has opened for business.

One has to say it looks magnificent. Today is our first proper chance to see it when Sky TV host the game with Wycombe. It is sure to be a different Brentford team to the one which travel to Birmingham City for next weekend’s Championship opener (also on Sky). As much given the international games taking place at present. 

The list of absentees is a huge one, with Pontus and several assorted Danes (not a prog rock band) amongst those joining Josh and Bryan Mbeumo in representing their countries. Whatever happens I’m not going to read too much in to this one – certainly in terms of who may start next weekend. Who Thomas sees as his first choice, starting XI when the squad is fully fit. 

Yet at the same time it will give a steer as to how well we may go. As to who might want to stake an early claim for a place. Most importantly, it is a competitive football match. A chance to prove that last season’s denouement has done nothing more than serve as a reminder how important EVERY point is. 

People point to the final few games but let’s not forget the opening day disappointment at home to Birmingham City. Some of the turgid 0-0s and home reverses in the first few months. Once we hit form we were amazing. But it took a while to get going and, ultimately, that’s what saw the team fall just short.

It was amazing fun getting to that point. I can’t wait to start the next stage of the journey. I can’t wait to get inside Lionel Road. Perhaps next month a few of us may be afforded that privilege.Here’s hoping, Until then, it’s TV, radio (where BBC London have today’s game) and whatever I-follow deal may be offered up.

Off-field, the conclusion to the Griffin Park auction has seen supporters now collect their wares. This Kit-nerd has been left well happy, having picked up a couple more mid-90s efforts for little more than the price of a club shop replica

Paul Stephenson’s long sleeved ‘away’ was pick of the crop – for this kit nerd

There were admiring eyes, out of respect, cast at the pick up time when the winer of the KLM cheque arrived at the same time as yours truly in order to collect his purchase.

Oh my. This was incredible in the flesh. Much bigger than expected (as all novelty cheques should be) and fully framed. I have to be honest that I’d had eyes on this when the catalogue was published but, like the Gary Blissett player board and the turnstiles, it moved out of my price range way too fast. 

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That’s life. That’s money. That’s not to be bitter. Anything but. Personally, I’m ecstatic with what I’ve been able to pick up. I just can’t wait for the chance to wear one of these in anger at a game. The only downside to this being that Kevin Dearden’s shirt fits quite nicely. Hey, I’m 50 next month and let’s say it was from early in his career.

The GPG has a cracking thread on the auction pick up already. You can find that here to see who has started to put what, where. Do take a look and please add to it.

As for Griffin Park, the clean up has begun already. Jota has been taken down from the gates whilst the ticket office and many external fitting have been removed. It won’t be long before the bulldozers move in and then we really are doing nothing more than living in the past. Albeit, plenty of happy memories. Barnsley, perhaps, aside….

As for Griffin Park, the clean up has begun already. Jota has been taken down from the gates whilst the ticket office and many external fitting have been removed. It won’t be long before the bulldozers move in and then we really are doing nothing more than living in the past. Albeit, plenty of happy memories. Barnsley, perhaps, aside….

Now, the only way is forward. The past is just that. The season is here and the bookies have us 6-1 favourites for the title. On a personal note, the club have been generous enough to keep the Park Life column going in the matchday programme. I don’t get paid for that and don’t want to. I love the club, I love being involved and writing still needs to remain personal . Or, where needed, probing. 

However, it is mentioned more to reflect how the ongoing interaction with our supporters is continuing. This is something which had been a huge part of Griffin Park life and, personally, I’m so glad we are continuing down this track. The fans are what make a club. The relationship with them what defines us.  There are so, so many involved behind the scenes.  

Sorry. It’s been a bit rambling today. Not hugely structured. A few thoughts thrown up in the air and let’s see where they land. I’ll be on the sofa at mid-day and can’t wait for it all to start again. It’s going to be different but it’s still going to be Brentford.  

Here’s to 2020-21 being the best season yet.

Supporters have always been involved – despite the size of their novelty cheques

THE main item has now been collected

Who goes? Who stays? Who is back to his best?

3 Sep

New month. Same Brentford. Transfer rumours hang around like a bad smell. The wait for live action seems an eternity away. Despite our new stadium finally hosting a game (the 2-2 friendly draw with Oxford United) the headlines are dominated by talk of Arsenal, Aston Villa and even West Ham looking at the likes of Rico Henry, Ollie Watkins and David Raya. Plus ça change. It’s Brentford, innit.

Sergi does his thing against Oxford. Twice.

The prospect of attending a game in person still seems a long way off. Arsenal allowing 2,500 fans into the Emirates in October – presumably in a bid to keep the atmosphere identical to when it is empty – was the talk of the pub last night. How accurate this is remains to be seen, of course.  Then there’s the obvious question is whether we / other clubs could follow suit? How would tickets even be allocated? One thing’s for sure, it’s a tightrope of supporter happiness that I wouldn’t want to tread. Especially for the Bees when we’ve got the prospect of visiting our new home added to the mix of what is already a desperate craving to see a ‘live’ game again. No matter how sparse the attendance. 

Good luck there. Good luck everyone. Until then we can at least see a few games on TV. Sunday’s cup tie with Wycombe Wanderers is on Sky. As is the season opener at Birmingham City. I’d love to be there in person for that one but instead , the couch beckons. Urghh. The chance to see our team in action will be undertaken from the sofa instead of St. Andrews or Lionel Road. Welcome to season 2 of Covid 19.

Who will start either game, though? The much rumoured signing of Ivan Toney was revealed during the week. He slotted straight into the team for the Oxford game. That, a line up which (like the 2-1 reverse at West Ham) was missing Said Benrahma, Ollie Watkins and David Raya. Read what you want in to that. Likewise, take heart from this post by the GPG….

 We all know they have their ear very close to the ground and are pretty much spot on when it comes to advance warning of incomings and outgoings. The spine of the team would seem to be remaining intact. Our ‘keeper and left-back going nowhere. Aston Villa and West Ham (won’t happen – see every rumour, every season) forced to dig very deep should they want to try and prise the others away. 

I’m a realist. I know how the club works and the signing of Ivan Toney would suggest the out-door is going to swing. Who, when and where the questions that remain to be seen? I’d happily be proven wrong, of course, and this be the season to really go for it from the off. To make a full tilt charge for the top of the Championship after coming ludicrously close last time out. To do this with a full fat squad bursting at the seams. But we all know that’s not our model.

Keep it lean. Keep it trim. Keep it topped up with talent. Have the B-team step straight in when the time comes. The bookies still have us as 6-1 favourites for the title. Sergi Canos is fit again and chomping at the bit. His brace against Oxford United seeing him become the first person to score at Lionel Road. The ever popular wideman is sure to be a key player this time around after that crippling blow suffered at Nottingham Forest last time out. Indeed, he could have had a hat-trick but for a penalty being saved (It’s Brentford, innit).

Match action , here

We’ve bought shrewdly with Ivan and Charlie Goode following our usual model of buying highly-rated young talent from divisions below us. Of knowing these are players already able to compete at this level. And beyond. Toney was heavily linked with the top flight so it’s great for us he’s made the decision to go there with the Bees. He was also linked with the Scottish Premiership so it’s nice that he has chosen to step up rather than sideways following the move from Peterborough.

As for the rest of this week, distraction from transfer rumours begins with the auction pick up. That starts today with winning bidders able to start collecting their items from 9am in The Hive. Good luck to anybody who ordered a turnstile…..

Come for the collection. Stay for the excuse for one last, last, final, last visit to Griffin Park. 

The previous, last , last visit to Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon 

New kit revealed as Tom wins the auction star prize.

29 Aug

And suddenly pre-season feels like it is upon us. Having already beaten Wayne Rooney’s Derby County (missed that one, oops) Brentford travel to the London Stadium this afternoon to take on West Ham United. The big questions there not being so much will we be in our new kit after it was finally released last night but more who will feature? This, after the reports linking all manner of clubs from Aston Villa to AC Milan with the likes of Ollie Watkins, Rico Henry and Said Benrahma show no signs of abating.

Yet, so far, the only transfer news of any real note has been incoming. Centre back Charlie Goode ( I can’t even begin to imagine what song will be sung for him) joining from Northampton Town. Their player of the year earning the Cobblers a club record fee when he moved to Lionel Road last month. With Pontus Jansson, Julian Jeanvier and Ethan Pinnock already on the books, before you even get to the B-team, does the mean the out door may be swinging soon? Moreso with talk of Ivan Toney refusing to go away although, so far, nothing concrete?

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He can move any mountain

Today’s game is unlikely to give that many clues even though we play Championship rivals Wycombe Wanderers in the league cup in just eight days time. The first competitive fixture to take place at Lionel Road after Griffin Park finally closed the gates yesterday. That final farewell tours coinciding with the conclusion of the ‘everything must go’ two day auction. Will Thomas Frank use this for experimentation or are we going to get significant clues as to what happens next? To see who his preferred line up will be? These games traditionally see huge swathes of substitutions and so I wouldn’t be reading too much into his team either way. Regardless of who starts or misses out.

Instead, with live stream from West Ham available via the Bees’ club site just prior to kick off, it’s more a chance to put your feet up and enjoy crowd free football once more. To get stressed because there’s no sign of Benrahma. To put 2 + 2 together when Ollie goes off / doesn’t come on – although hopefully come up with 5. With a fortnight until the league games start (Birmingham City away) I’m sure our Directors of football have it all in hand. Whatever that plan may be. 

The one thing we can be sure of is that whomever makes up the squad for the forthcoming season, we now know what they’ll be wearing. A day which began with yours truly marvelling over the new West Ham third kit – credit where due – ended with the same reaction towards our new away shirt. You’ve all seen the pictures by now, I am sure, after Brentford official dropped it onto Twitter with minimal fanfare in the early evening. The days of Mark Devlins’s six day strip tease in the build up nothing more than a distant memory. 

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A full house were present for the new kit launch

A dark grey affair with a mottled body and that glorious red trim. Simple but oh-so effective. I love it. The home version is much more of a traditional effort, featuring the return of stripes on the back and a lot of red on the arms and shoulders. Safe and steady although growing on me rapidly after having the early thunder stolen by the change kit.

Great job Umbro. Great work from Kitman Bob. Well worth the wait. The queue for the online shop when they went live suggesting he and the team have struck gold again. 

When I did get on, the loyalty points seem to have disappeared. Surely not? Or is it just user error ( the likely answer) and they have been moved to another part of the site? Certainly, the TAPs are still there on the ticketing side of things. Go figure. Although if somebody could help this technophobe find where they are, that would be appreciated.  

The other news yesterday was the end of the auction. With several items being understandably pulled for historical reasons there was still plenty of interest for those with deep pockets (i.e. the turnstiles) aswell as all manner of other things available. Everything from prints and pictures to signs, boards, laminated menus and trophies was up for sale. If it could be unscrewed from Griffin Park, you could buy it. Not to mention more than enough kits from days gone by. Any loitering on the site from yours truly was purely for research purposes, although one or two gaps may have been plugged.

I have to be honest, this didn’t sit overly well with me at first. Some of the items seemed to be way too close to the historical bone to be up for sale and it’s great that things such as gifts form other clubs and stadium designs were withdrawn. Likewise things such as the certificate of thanks for the poppy donation remained. Would it have been that hard to discreetly file it had we not wanted something of this nature? 

Yet, equally, much of this would only have ended up in a skip and so the fans have been given a chance to take a bit of Griffin Park with them. It’s a delicate balancing act but some of the prices being paid show how much it meant for the chance to own a part of club history. Besides, it would be hypocritical to get overly hissy given the opportunity afforded to, and taken by, this kit nerd.

With any luck, many of the items that didn’t make it on to the site or which were later withdrawn may now get the chance to go on display. Somewhere. I’d love to take a look around a Brentford museum if one were ever to be created in or around Lionel Road. Perhaps exiting via a club shop… 😉  There’s a whole wealth of Brentford history and seeing so much of it, for the first time in places, was exciting stuff.

Yet whatever your thoughts, it brought us this moment. If for no other reason a reason to be thankful that the club chose to go down the auction route. Here’s hoping Tom wears his new ‘kit’ when we’re allowed in to Lionel Road.

 

Time to tell this albatross to do one. Time to say goodbye.

22 Aug

Well, here goes. Time to get back on the horse. Metaphorically speaking. I can’t ride for real. Much as I love our equine friends, motion sickness is a curse suffered at the best of times and would make me useless in a post-apocalyptic world. I dread the thought of society falling apart to the point where we are then reliant on saddling up as a means of getting from A to B. There’s bicycles, I suppose. Just as long as puncture repair kits don’t need to be invoked (unless the good folk at Halfords were also able to survive the opening waves of the Zombie plague or whatever it is that eventually does for us). No, it’s time to talk about Brentford once more. Football has come back into my life.

The end to the  Championship still feels far too raw. Far too recent. No complaints about who went up automatically. Likewise, play-off defeat is on us and the team that kicked us out are a genuine irrelevance. It was Fulham. It could have been Stoke City, Barnsley or anyone else in the division. The empty feeling in the stomach is still there. A knot of angst and frustration that has been niggling away for the last few weeks. A dead weight hanging around the neck like a particular piss-taking albatross. Hey, you know those play-off things? The thing that your own former chairman helped put in place? Well, guess how we’re going to make them even more painful? Even more frustrating than the previous 8 times? 

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Martin Lange – much missed

I saw a Twitter post from Beesotted asking fans to rank their play-off defeats in order of priority. Personally, I couldn’t even be bothered to reply to their request. Who needs to rake over it all, yet again? For what it’s worth, this one wins it hands down. Something to finally push Huddersfield into a very close second although the pair of them remain streets ahead over the other 7 in the pain charts.

The one thing these two have in common was our coming ‘so close’ over the run in. Of the prize almost being there and then missed out on as much through off-field circumstances as anything else.

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94-95. Still hurts. So much

The only positive to be taken being the record ‘low’ number of points The Cottagers are sure to acquire in the forthcoming season. Their defence something that is only going to give Fantasy Football managers nightmares. Mitrovic sure to be exposed (again) as the flat track bully he is. Unable to make that step up surrounded by the flotsam and jetsam of his team-mates.

Being blunt, football has been dead to me. I can’t help how I feel but that’s how it’s been. The positive for you guys is the blog has been at the bottom of the priority list. Likewise the thought of even putting together the usual season review.  That’s the normal means of keeping busy over the summer but the motivation has been non-existent. Not even close to picking up a keyboard. Let alone sitting through it all again. Self-inflicting the torture of coming so close not a particular cup I want to drink from any time soon. Perhaps that may come in the next week or two but for now I just can’t find the inspiration. 

It’s not even as though we’ve got new kits to salivate over. Despite a brief tease from Bob last week, throwing down the gauntlet to Brentford official on social media, there has been nothing. With pretty much every other club having released their efforts (and the Bristol City goalkeeper shirt / Watford home win the early plaudits) we’re spinning this out longer than Who Shot Mr. Burns. Come on already. If ever anything was there to give the fans a boost then we’ve a ready made opportunity. Surely this is the week? Surely……

Bristol City have taken inspiration from the Hummel back catalogue

So, fair to say, inspiration has been at an all time low. That’s before we even touch upon blinkin’ Covid and our own inability to see the team in action. To pay one last hurrah at Griffin Park. Of now knowing we won’t be allowed in to Lionel Road until October at the very earliest – not the club’s fault, I hasten to add.

Then, last night happened. Closure, of sorts. Mrs. Bruzon, HB and myself got our chance to go on the ‘Farewell Griffin Park’ tour. The opportunity to say goodbye to our home. To take one last look around. To actually remember that there are other Brentford fans out there in just the same boat. To admire the plethora of retro kits on display by our tour group – seems everyone had their Sunday best on with Osca, Spall and Hummel all out to play.

From the off, the flame began to burn once more. There was Mads in the ticket hutch to welcome us in and check us off. The smile broad. Her enthusiasm infectious. No question able to phase her – although how HB’s thought process happens, I still can’t even begin to fathom. 

Any questions before we start?” Silence from all until he piped up, “Yes. When were the turnstiles made? 

And with that, we were off. The group full of anticipation. The opportunity not one to be missed. The last look around an experience that will be different for all. For some, funereal. For others celebratory. For all of us, the knowledge that this really is now the last look at our home for so many years. The memories we have made over that time are what really counts. The good times, and the bad, what we’ll take with us. 

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Griffin Park now the stuff of ghosts and memories (good and bad) as we look to the future.

Yet to be able to draw the line under Griffin Park. To pay a silent farewell. To drink it all in one last time was beautiful. To look down from the top of the matchbox stand, a rare and unique view. Our visitors over the years probably unawares of just how lucky they were for having that perspective. Albeit one that doesn’t even come close to the magnificence of the Royal Oak stand.

Some photos were taken but probably won’t be looked at down the line. We’ve all got plenty enough of the place full. The ground rocking. The players celebrating with us. That’s what I’ll remember. That, for me, is what will live on about Griffin Park.

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Griffin Park at her best

But I wouldn’t have missed out on this last look for anything. No matter how low the last few weeks have felt, and they have been terrible, the club have been brilliant. Again. We’ve made the best of the shit situation that has been handed to us by the global pandemic and social distancing laws to at least give supporters this chance to say goodbye. 

And I’ve woken up with a smile on my face today. Football wise. There’s also been a message in the ‘in-box’ to help kick start my sorry behind (you know who you are) and the thought of being a Bee is once more front, central. Time to try and haul myself out of this pit of misery and despair. Time to, erm, go again. Sorry. Sorry.

So who knows what today will bring. Hey, I might even nag Kitman Bob again or check the fixture list. Apparently it was published yesterday…..

F*ck sake. Birmingham City away. I hate football. So much. But it’s in the blood. You can’t give it up. Here’s to the forthcoming season ending up ten times better than the last one.

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Time to say goodbye…One last look at the hallowed turf

Nick Bruzon