Tag Archives: Griffin Park

Will it be more of the same on Saturday?

26 Aug

Saturday afternoon’s visit from Everton approaches at speed. Thank goodness. It only seems like five minutes ago Brentford were edged out at Fulham by the host’s late, late winner. It was a game that swung back and forth more often than the Drayton Manor Pirate Ship ride but, in the end, The Bees ended up victims to our own slow start. That was then. This is now. In between we’ve progressed to the third round of the League Cup at Colchester United and have been rewarded with the tantalising prospect of a visit from Gillingham. A tie that offers up a chance of progression / potato skin (delete as a you see fit), a further opportunity to stretch the squad and an extra bit of work for the team behind the Matchday programme. Enjoy. For now, though, it’s all about the battle between the former Burnley centre backs.  

The other way, Mads…. Move along. Nothing to see here in the FA Cup

Last season saw The Bees loving Premier League life with The Toffees beaten twice (we won’t talk about the FA Cup debacle). 1-0 at home and then 3-2 at Goodison Park. The first game was as turgid as the reverse fixture exciting. Richarlison doing what he does. Likewise Rico Henry. Amongst others. Everton ending it with 9 men and still deep in the relegation mire with only two games to go. In the end, they survived  – despite being humped 5-1 at Arsenal in the final game. Midweek victory over Crystal Palace, combined with Burnley tripping up and our own huge, huge disappointment in letting Leeds United off the hook mean we get the chance to do it all again.

With the season three games old, it would be fair to say Brentford and Everton have had contrasting starts. The Bees squad has only got stronger with Aaron Hickey and Ben Mee settling straight in. Keane Lewis-Potter impressed at Fulham and Colchester although is an injury doubt. Then there’s Mikkel Damsgaard who made a first start in the same game and could well now make an appearance at Lionel Road. 

For Everton, the sale of Richarlison must have been the most inevitable but gut-wrenching moment of the summer. Ben Godfrey then suffered serious injury in the opening day to defeat to Chelsea whilst the same club are now though to be in the box seat to sign Anthony Gordon ahead of Thursday evening’s transfer window slamming shut(tm).

On pitch, Brentford have twice had the ‘game of two halves’ on the road. Going 2-0 down at Leicester City in the season opener would eventually end in us ‘only’ managing a 2-2 draw. It could have been all three points. The same happened at Fulham where despite their early brace, The Cottagers were eventually pegged back before Aleksander Mitrovic did that thing in the 90th. 

It was so good, for so long

In between, there was the game at home to Manchester United. There are no more words needed about what happened in that one. The net result (aside from our three points) being Monday evening’s TV game between United and Liverpool saw The Bees name checked virtually every minute. Woebtide anybody playing the ‘Brentford’ drinking game. Two fingers per mention? I’d have been under the table by the time Jason Sancho scored their first goal. Contrast that to the weekend prior when he’d been robbed by MOTM Mathias Jensen to set up that quite incredible fourth goal in the 34th minute.

Everton, meanwhile, lost the aforementioned visit from Chelsea and then achieved the same ‘nil points’ at Aston Villa. An 88th minute point was earned at home to Nottingham Forest last week but it is a campaign which would seem to have picked up where last season’s left off. Manager Frank Lampard, as well known for being the  former boss of Frank Lampard’s Derby County, must be wondering when his luck will change. 

Football is never that simple of course. Those thinking this is a case of ‘home banker’ need to look again. If nothing else, there’s that little bit of Brazilian magic lurking in the Everton squad that can be summed up in one word: Allan. They’ve also got another name we are all well, well familiar with. Number 26. The battle of the former Burnley centre backs will likely see him and Ben Mee share the same pitch for the first time since the Clarets played their part in keeping Everton up. Burnley’s relegation being to both our clubs’s benefit with out of contract players electing to stay in The Premier League. For now. 

Number 26

Which is what may well play to our advantage. Think Kurt Zouma when West Ham visited last season. Think Christian Eriksen for the Manchester United game. Harlee Dean with Birmingham City. His comments, of course, inspiring us to play ten times better. Certain players and situations engender certain responses. Let’s not even go down the Martin Rowlands wormhole.

I can only imagine the reception 26 will get every time he goes near the ball. The memory of his refusal to play against a Burnley team whom he would move to shortly after is one that lives on. Football fans are like elephants in that respect. Never forget. Moreso given the subsequent explanation – one to rank along side a dog eating the homework or Bristol City and the closed covid lab.

I’m sure the narrative will be that crowd reaction is part of the game. Players are well used to it and blank these things out. That we should be better than resorting to such an approach from the stands. Bollocks to all of it. He’s an opposition player and once that whistle goes, all bets are off. The crowd do what the crowd do. And they do it bloody well. Look at Zouma backing off (although that was also quite a large part Norgaard !!) . Look at Eriksen dithering in the first two goals (although  that was also quite a large pard David de Gea). Look at Harlee Dean – that one was all him as his team were blown apart.

That Kurt Zouma thing – my suggestion for programme cover was politely declined

So come Saturday afternoon, we’ll absolutely be playing for all three points and doing whatever we have to do. Brentford are a win off second place in the nascent table. The thought of getting back in to the Champions League places is a tantalising one. For that, I do feel for the Everton team and their fans  – of whom I know many. Some. Well two.

They generally seem like a decent bunch who love their club as passionately as we do ours. A club that, like ours, is made up with supporters from the heart of the community rather than the heart of a travel agency. Cripes, I still can’t get over how deadly, deadly dull the atmosphere at Anfield was last season.  See also: Old Trafford (limp protest) and Stamford Bridge (fire drill in a library). At least Goodison Park was rocking.

Everton fans – including DJ Andy Bush – are always top value

Still, that’s been and gone. For now there’s only one topic under discussion. Can Brentford beat Everton? Bring on Saturday afternoon when we find out. I can’t wait. See you there.

Until then, if you want to read more the post-match debrief and top five player review for the Fulham game can be found here. If nothing else, I could really do with the hits so please do take a look. Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon

Time to start talking kit (and buying tickets).

24 Mar

We’re half way through the first week of international break. Another ten days until Brentford head to Chelsea for a league game in which there was good news for us Bees yesterday. The narrow defeat at Leicester City now put behind us. Fantasy football teams left gathering dust. No bad thing in the case of yours truly, whose attempt to jinx Leeds United on Friday backfired terribly. Three players selected yet rather than this seeing them fall apart (again), they mounted that stonking rearguard action at Wolves to turn 2-0 down into an eventual 3-2 victory. At the same time, rather than the consolation of a plethora of points that should go with an on pitch win, the net result was a measly three. Three. Points. I give up. That long time aspiration to be a football manager one best consigned to the waste bin of history.

Bruzon’s falling apart. Again.

Anyway, aside from Leeds United and the Foxes putting a dent into the weekend (as ever, you can catch our take on the Brentford ‘top five’ from Leicester City here), there’s been another dalliance or two into the world of football fantasy. Namely, kit design. We shared some of them on these pages in the last few days but, along with some other efforts where we’ve messed around in Photoshop (see – it can be used for more than just venting the spleen about Mrs. Brown’s Boys) why not stick them all up in the same place?

If nothing else, we’re getting close to that time of the season where talk turns to what we’ll be running out in next season. Expect clubs to start dropping their 2022-23 efforts over the coming weeks and, whilst we’ve traditionally left things late, we already know that our home shirt will remain the current home shirt. Huge thanks from from the Bruzon family piggy bank on that decision to roll over this season’s design.

The flip side to this equation being we’re guaranteed a new away and third kit. Jon Varney has already confirmed that, “We hope the new away shirt design will excite our fans who remember the 80’s and early 90’s, whilst the new third shirt is designed very much for the future!

What does all this mean, though? The obvious guess would be a return for either the Hummel fractals or more blue on blue for our change colours. Possibly even the one season wonder that was the Funky Bee centenary crest. Go on Bob, I dare you…

Could the 2022-23 be heading down one of these routes…

Or, of course, rather than colours it could be a reference to our much loved ‘castle badge’ which was everywhere in the 80-90s . Tapping into that retro vibe very much in evidence at the moment. A bit of castle action. A helping hand from one of my favourite (non Bees) Umbro kits of all time. A sash. My word, an actual sash on a Brentford shirt…

…. or perhaps adopting the Castle badge once more?

As for the ‘one for the future’, that’s as open to interpretation as you want.  Could we be going back down the trailblazing route? Specifically that adopted with the brown / orange? Whilst it is, without doubt, up there with our best ever change strips in years, it’s fair to say that one split opinion. Incredibly, some people didn’t like it – I know, I know – so would take a huge leap of faith to retread that path. Then again, combine those colours with some yellow and our much repeated ‘Bus stop in Hounslow’ tag for the obvious solution. One we’ve talked about before and would take balls of marketing steel to adopt. Albeit, just imagine…..

Just for the meltdown…..

Then there’s our favourite yellow and black combo. The one unveiled in the window of a Bathroom shop (c/o our then sponsors, Bathwise) . Albeit remixed into more of a Bee motif.

Or something more simple but (and with apologies for shoddy photoshoppery) showing colours appropriate for what’s going on in the wider world at the moment.

It’s all complete guesswork and, with no inside knowledge, nothing more than a bit of fun. The point being that talk will soon be starting. The guesses will begin. The reveal will be dropped on us.

We’ve had it all over the years. Fans involved. A youth team member leaking the picture. The week long strip tease inflicted upon us by (now Leyton Orient) chief executive Mark Devlin. The only ask this time around being that whatever it is, please make it quick and make it soon. And Bob, if you are reading – I’m available….

How not to ‘launch’ an away kit. Curse that leak

Until then, which of these would you pick ?

Theo other, actual, news from yesterday was the news that Chelsea tickets are back on sale. With the terms of their sanctioning tweaked, Brentford fans with over 2,000 TAPS will be able to get these from today on a first come, first served basis. 1,600 were already sold before the shutters came down which, by my rudimentary calculations, means we have another 1,400 to go. Don’t @ me if that maths is wrong. Just move quick smart if you want in. Full details here, on Brentford ‘official’.

Until then, you can have a vote on the kit or catch up on that Leicester City piece.

Nick Bruzon

Arsenal debrief. Will there be changes for Newcastle?

21 Feb

A 2-1 win for Arsenal. A 6th defeat in 7(seven) Premier League games for Brentford. The question of when we’ll see Christian Eriksen make a first top flight appearance for The Bees hanging heavy in the air. His 80 minute run out against a Glasgow Rangers XI, whilst perhaps not as tough opposition as Southend United in his previous game, putting more miles on the clock and suggesting that the bench for Newcastle United on Saturday may be feasible. Moreso, given his hand in both Brentford goals.

Before all that though, the last knockings from the Arsenal game on Saturday. Who made the top five for Brentford? What positives can we take from the game at The Emirates? Will changes be made for the visit of Newcastle United on Saturday? As ever, the player review and post match debrief is now up. Here.

Enjoy.

New year, same Brentford. 2022 starts in style…

1 Jan

Well that’s been a busy start to 2022. Jools Holland hadn’t even started his Hootenanny and the signing pen had already been in action with incoming confirmed from Midtjylland confirmed. New year. Same Brentford. Hot off the heels of the Manchester City game we’ve a visit from Aston Villa. From Ezri Konsa. From Ollie Watkins. Subject to any 11th hour test results coming through, Sunday afternoon sees us host Stevie G ™ et al in a 2pm TV game. There’s ‘that’ video and even some fantastic news on the New Year Honours list.

First up, the obvious stuff. We have a new goalkeeper. With David Raya still suffering that long term injury, 32 year old Jonas Lössl has joined Brentford on loan from Midtjylland, with the option to make it a permanent deal further down the track. Providing some competitor between the sticks is an obvious move. Alvaro Fernandez has stepped in but with the recent scare that would have seen 18 yo Matthew Cox make a debut against Manchester United, had they not called Covid at the last moment, shows how exposed we may have been. With Thomas Frank also confirming the Spaniard had missed training recently, moving fast to give options makes 100% sense. I can only see Alvaro starting against Aston Villa on Sunday – frankly, it’ll be harsh on anyone to lose their place after running Manchester City so close – but after that who knows? Jonas has top flight experience with Huddersfield Town and has also been on Everton’s books, so it wouldn’t be a trip into the total unknown. Good luck Jonas and welcome.

Welcome Jonas. No messing around

The other person in evidence onto training ground was Josh Dasilva. This is about as huge as it comes. Our England U-21 has missed the entire season after playing such a pivotal part in Brentford reaching the Premier League. Whilst there’s no news as to when he might be back out in front of us, just to see him out and about. To see him running around. To see him chasing the ball . Well, its nothing but magnificent.

There aren’t the words to describe how much we’ve missed Josh. The imagination has been running riot at the thought of how much better we may have performed than we already have, had he been available. Whilst one man doesn’t make a team, there are those whom you know would have been nailed on starters had fitness allowed. Josh is at the top of that list for sure. Here’s hoping we see him soon.

He’s on the mend….!!!!!!!

The one player more likely to be back in action soon is Kris Ajer. Thomas Frank used the Villa press conference to confirm that the ball carrying centre back ”Hopefully can make the bench”….whilst on the other absences, “Rico Henry will be out, Bryan Mbeumo is touch and go, and Christian Norgaard is back from suspension. Vitaly Janelt could be on the borderline to be involved.

Again, this is fantastic news. Kris has made an immediate impression at Brentford. Not just in defence but in his ability to take the game to our opponents. Having him available alongside Ethan and Pontus is easily our top combination and comes just in time for the trips to Southampton and then Liverpool. Whether he will be able to break in to the stating XI by then remains to be seen but, personally speaking, if he’s fit and able then he starts. If we take Thomas at face value then presumably expect to see those legs being stretched on Sunday. With Vitaly also close, it could suddenly be a very impressive looking array of substitutes available.

In the shorter term. Dominic Thompson will be given anther chance to impress. The contrast between Brighton away and Manchester City home was about as vast as they come. Although, to be fair, you could say that about the entire team. However, for Dominic in particular the confidence and calmness with which he played against City was just stratospheric. Follow that up again and we could finally have the much needed competition / cover for Rico that was so sorely missed last campaign. Like Charlie Goode, Dominic is another of those slow burners to bide their time and look to take the chance when it has been presented. That Manchester City review is here. And the Brighton one here (for the masochistic amongst us).  

For the rest of the Aston Villa stuff, it’ll all be about Ollie Watkins. Cripes, we know what he did at Griffin Park. We know how close the team came to taking us up. His goals were legendary. His character about as engaging as it comes. Expect warm welcomes and fond returns all round on Sunday. Before and after the game, that is. During it, there’s no doubt everyone will have a point to prove about where Brentford have come since Ollie stepped up that level. Keep it classy. Keep it loud. All being well, we’ll keep him quiet. 

But just to be sure, I have picked both Ollie and Ezri Konsa for my Fantasy Football Team. The closest guarantee of nil points since the UK’s last entry to Eurovision. Honestly, I’m just horrific at player selection so have started the new year with a clean slate in the desperate attempt to overtake my eight year old son. However, on the assumption that normal service is resumed then lump the mortgage on a home win and everyone thank me afterwards.

Hopefully that should work

The other news to accompany Jools tinkling on his ivories was twofold. Firstly, ‘that’ video put out by official yesterday, looking back at the year gone by. It would be easy to forget just how much we’ve accomplished and whilst I won’t overly dwell on it here (did somebody say Aston Villa programme notes?) Let’s just say it got very dusty in here during the Bournemouth semi and when Ethan scored against Liverpool. Enjoy

And then we were given the chance to offer huge congratulations to Natalie O’Rourke who was awarded the MBE. To most of us, she’s Woody’s mum. To our family, somebody who sits a few rows in front and is always up for a chat about anything and everything Brentford. Yet her ongoing dedication to saving the beloved Park Lane Stables riding for the disabled centre has seen this so very well deserved accolade awarded. Huge, huge congratulations Natalie. What a way to start the year 🙂

Like the 2021 highlights video, this was another story that has seen massive smiles on faces after some truly good news. Given how awful the year was at times, great to see so many nice things coming out of it at the end.

And you can read all about that, in full, here.

Until then, simply a case of hoping the hangovers aren’t kicking in too much. Being glad we have another 365 days until Jools or Olly Alexander trouble us again. Most importantly, wishing everyone the best for 2022.

Starting against Aston Villa on Sunday. See you there!! 

Nick Bruzon

The Monday after the weekend before.

8 Nov

Brentford v Norwich City. It just had to happen. There was an almost cosmic inevitability about the way this one would play out. The Canaries having only scored three goals and picked up two points from their opening ten Premier League games. Brentford…. Well, we saw what happened. With Newcastle United next up after international break, are there any positives to be taken? Have we learned anything from this one? Is it nothing more than bad luck and great goalkeeping? Most importantly, who was our star man and who is leading the charge for the Bees?

In our latest look back at the game just gone, you can find the answers to some of those question here. Or, at least, one fan’s opinion. Is it right? Do you agree? Were Norwich lucky? Did Brentford deserve anything? Who should be first name on the team sheet for Newcastle United and who needs a fast track to the training ground?

Enjoy…….

Nick Bruzon

Result fails to match the experience. This is why our club remains like no other.

7 Nov

Well wasn’t that just the afternoon that was both simultaneously awesome and awful. On pitch, Brentford made it LLLL after going down 2-1 to Norwich City. Early goals for the visitors giving them a 2-0 half time lead which proved that little bit too much to overcome. International break cannot arrive soon enough. With it, the chance to regroup and refresh before we go again (shudders) with games against Newcastle United and Everton. It should have been a home win. It could have been a home win. Tim Krul twice denying Christian Norgaard from point blank range when it was odds on ‘goal’. The offside flag chalking off one for Mbeumo (not Boo-mo, Match of the Day. Cripes, how hard is it to do a little research? ) early into the second period. It was the correct decision, sadly, but with the Bees coming out like Thomas Frank had let off a few half-time fireworks, the impetus of halving the deficit so soon after the restart would have been immense. Instead, the marauding Rico Henry pulled one back on the hour but that was as good as it got.

Looking down on Pukki doing his thing

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. No bad thing given the frustration of that one. Norwich City, sitting ducks based on their current form. Instead, the prey became the predator. They were quickest out the blocks and had the lead within six minutes. The otherwise exciting Sergi left flat on his arse half way through a move that culminated in Mathias Normann being offered the freedom of the pitch. Waltzing through everyone, the Bees midfield and defence were more standoffish than a bunch of nervous teenagers at a school disco. Eventually he picked his moment with a low strike that stand in goalkeeper Fernandez couldn’t quite reach. 

Soon after, it was two. Pukki from the penalty spot after Charlie Goode (an early sub for Zanka) was adjudged to have brought down the Norwich man when clean through. He had no real choice and did the best of a bad situation but there was deemed sufficient contact and the ref pointed to the spot. 2-0. Game over. Despite the second half resurgence it was three points dropped. Norwich with a first win of the season. A deserved win. It wasn’t enough to save Daniel Farke who it was confirmed had left the club after the game. The Canaries board acting now in a bid to salvage their Premier League place. With Nuno Espírito Santo, Neil Warnock and Steve Bruce all now available, the next incumbent of that particular hot seat could be an intriguing decision.

That’s the football. Brentford played well in patches but that was it. Patches. The early season confidence taking a bit of a battering and providing for a frustrating experience on pitch. If you want to read more (somebody might) the Hollywood Bets column will be up shortly. Link to follow.

Yet off field, it was Brentford at their very best. At our most awesome. Sometimes you need to take a step back and appreciate just what a club we have. Just how that ‘family’ feel we had at Griffin Park has been retained. Anybody reading yesterday’s column may recall the fact that our Harry was spending the afternoon up on the gantry with fellow competition winner Luke Mitschke and the Ifollow commentary team of Mark Burridge, Karleigh Osborne and Charlotte Tanner. Well, he’s had his moment and, my word, one can’t thank the club, Mark and the rest of the team enough. 

H was bouncing off the walls before, a little nervous on the walk up to Lionel Road but once into the groove had an absolute blast. Gassing away on the mic and looked after like royalty. To give two youngsters the chance to get involved in everything from pre and post match analysis to actually commentating on a Premier League game something that they’ll never forget. All being well, the listeners enjoyed it. Certainly, we’ve had more than a few messages back. Specifically in regards to Harry’s on-air observation that clearly the referee was a Norwich City fan. Likewise, apologies to anyone who heard him raging off-mic at Tim Krul for manhandling Ivan Toney.

H, Mark and Karleigh preview the game. Or discuss ‘that’ goal for Bristol City. I’m not sure which

The view from up on the gantry nothing short of incredible. The highest point in the stadium but still felt on top of the pitch, with the action unfolding in a glorious panorama. Mark Burridge, cool as you like. Handling it all in his unflappable style. A huge pang of jealousy from yours truly at his ability to make it all seem so effortless. So natural. So much fun. Actually, not jealousy but respect. And also for his engaging Luke and Harry. Making their day so special.

What a view

We’ve said it many, many times before but there is no other club like it. Where fans feel like family. Where supporters still have the chance to get involved to such an extent. Even with Premier League status putting us more under the microscope and Covid continuing to ruin everything for everyone, to keep this ‘Griffin Park’ vibe was nothing short of wonderful. To keep it real and remember what we do so well just the best feeling. Cripes, the onfield stuff hurt yesterday but off it, Brentford were, and are, the best.

Thank you everyone. Long may it continue. Now here’s to Newcastle United.

Mark Harry and Luke at the end of a wonderful experience

Nick Bruzon

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