Tag Archives: Hillsborough

Harlee, thongs and perfect scoring. Dean’s ‘false 9’ secure a genuine 3. Points, that is.

22 Feb

Why do Brentford exist?” Not my words but those of one Sheffield Wednesday fan on Twitter, just prior to kick off. Two hours later he’d found out why, as Dean Smith’s Bees recorded a quite wonderful 2-1 away win. It was a first victory for Brentford over Wednesday in more time than I can remember – certainly since our paths recrossed in the Championship.

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The spirit of Descartes is alive and well at Hillsborough

A looping header from John Egan and a follow up from captain Harlee Dean just before the end of the first period had given the Bees a deserved 2-0 lead going in for their half time cuppa. It was a gap we maintained until the game reached the last gasps of a frantic denouement, Fernando Forestieri pulling one back for the hosts. Yet despite the Owls having, finally, turned the Brentfrod goal into a metaphorical Alamo after what seems a somewhat contained first 80 minutes, the brilliant Dan Bentley and his defence more than held firm.

As ever, decent match reports are on the BBC, ‘official’ or Beesotted. As are Dean’s post match thoughts where, amongst other things, he made the very valid point that Wednesday “Will be a top six side“.  I didn’t travel and nor, does it seem, were many others in a position to do so. What a reward for those who did make it. Yet, likewise, what a treat for those stuck at home relying on Beesplayer or the wireless. Personally, I opted for the later on this occasion (with apologies to Mark Burridge), giving BBC Radio London a spin. It was a twist of the dial well worth making.

Phill Parry’s opening gambit to Billy Reeves of “You half expect the players to come out wearing nothing but leather thongs” as the prematch music built was the shape of things to come. Our commentary team subsequently noting that, perhaps, this would be against FA regulations. I was then lost in a sea of praise for Harlee, conjecture over ‘false 9s’ and general admiration for the luxuriance of Jota’s hair. Great job chaps, and thank you.

False 9’s, you (possibly) say? Indeed. With Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann both missing, an already tough task was made the harder by having no recognised centre forward (don’t be naughty, they were injured….).

This is territory we’d been in before with last season’s visit to QPR. The difference then being Dean’s decision had been deliberate. And horrific. Alan Judge ending up looking like a little boy lost as sea through no fault of his own as the hosts, and it pains me to say, ran riot. Then again, Brentford couldn’t have organised a pissup in a barn door with a banjo on that day – we were that disorganised.

This time around was clearly different. Romaine Sawyers was recalled to team where he filled that ‘false’ position, with Canos and Jota continuing to add width. Likewise, a debut for Rico Henry in place of Tom Field was one which met with instant plaudits. Phil Parry has probably woken up still talking about his incredible pace – such was the impression made by the former Walsall man. Brentford were solid at the back and exciting going forward.

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Catwalk Billy Reeves had provided the one moment of joy the last time we tried a ‘false 9’

As ever, the video highlights are available from Sky. At least, until Bees Player are allowed to put their package up and that’s one I’ll certainly be adding here later. If for no other reason than to see how the ever wonderful Mark Burridge, assisted this time by Ciaran Brett, compared to Phil and Billy.

Mark Burridge adds the words, if not the leather thongs

The huge downside for the night was the injury suffered by Josh McEachran. He was stretchered off late in the first half following protracted treatment from both physios. Whilst Dean Smith had the luxury of KK to fall back on, nobody likes to see any player injured. Moreso one who has really stepped up his game this season and become an integral part of this team. Here’s hoping it looked worse than it actually was.

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Jota speaking for everyone

The other slight negative about the evening was Sergi Canos. Nothing to do with his on-pitch performance but, more, his use of post match Twitter.

Hasn’t anybody told him “We go again”  should only be used after a poor away defeat? By the defence.

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In all seriousness though, one can’t help but get drawn in by his enthusiasm about a return to the Brentford team. Long may it continue. It truly is wonderful to have him back in our ranks and out there on pitch.

And so we roll on to Saturday. A home game with doomed Rotherham United. Common sense says this one will be : lots – nil. However, as Mrs Bruzon would note, common sense is something that yours truly is severely lacking in.

Until then, let’s revel in the job done so far. The aforementioned prematch critic of Brentford was, at least, magnanimous enough to note the performance of Daniel Bentley at full time.

Personally, I’m just amazed how many goals Brentford continue to score. Scott who now?As one Twitter wag noted……

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Nick Bruzon    

After shocks in the the cup, could Bees now follow suit in the league?

21 Feb

With all the talk currently about FA Cup upsets – Arsenal beating Sutton United and Lincoln City recording that famous win up at Turf Moor being the pick of the fifth round shocks  – one could be forgiven for overlooking the Championship. Yet it continues to come at us faster and furiouser (is that even a word?) than Vin Diesel in a souped up Dodge Charger. Tonight is no exception as Brentford face the gruelling trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

A midweek visit to Hillsborough really is about as hard as it can get for Dean Smith and his Bees. Despite reverting to a more traditional back four and a much more attacking shape, the problems have now started to appear at the back where Brentford have shipped 10 goals in the last three league games. Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, know that a win tonight will take them up to third place in the Championship table.

Whilst Newcastle United, who won again last night against Aston Villa, and Brighton seem to have the top two slots locked down, anything is still possible. And with the pair of them meeting next Tuesday at the Amex. something has to give there shortly. Wednesday will be chomping at the bit for a chance to slip in between them when that happens.

Will Dean stick or twist? His reshuffle has won the plaudits but, sadly, it doesn’t seem to be winning that many games. Despite the hugely impressive performances against Aston Villa and Brighton, both Preston and Wigan were games we could well have won yet, despite scoring twice and leading in each, have thrown them away with a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst I’m all for this new look team set up – and hope we stick to it against divisional whipping boys Rotherham United on Saturday – perhaps discretion is the better part of valour tonight. If not in terms of playing five defenders then, perhaps , a personnel switch to add some muscle to the middle (calling Mr McCormack) or maybe he’ll accommodate the return of John Egan / Yoann Barbet.

One thing is for sure. With ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes now plying his trade for Sheffield Wednesday and doing what he does best (i.e. scoring goals) any mistakes will be punished by a team looking to consolidate their place in the play-offs.

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Once a Bee; now an Owl

Brentford’s task will be made all the harder by this game having been moved to a midweek due to our involvement in the FA Cup fourth round. For logistical reasons alone, expect fewer Bees fans to travel. The train isn’t an option (unless you stop over) whilst work gets in the way for many. Hats off to those making the effort tonight, that’s for sure. I salute you and wish I could be there. Instead, it is Mark Burridge and Beesplayer for me.

The other hurdle to overcome will, of course, be ‘that band’. Regular readers know the drill at this juncture and although oft repeated, they can’t be allowed to pass without a brief mention. Off key renditions of ‘seven nation army’ or ‘The Italian job’ washed down with Bernie Clifton’s jingoistic greatest hits are no replacement for an atmosphere. Let’s hope those that do travel are of loud voice.

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That. Band. Never forget.

The bookies have Wednesday as odds on favourites. The Bees are close to 4/1 to come away with the points. There’s more chance of finding a role of sellotape in our local Morrisons than of Brentford recording a win, if club sponsor 888 are to be believed.

Wednesday are good, no question. But Brentford aren’t 18/5 bad and one thing we have in us is goals. After a weekend of shocks in the cup, could we now see the bookies upset in the league?

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

On a day of incredible shocks, have we found a new ‘best worst ever’ ?

19 Feb

With no Brentford action over this weekend there’s no real Championship action to talk about today. Instead, there’s a flashback to yesterday’s column looking at the FA Cup and the best/worst of football films where, it would be fair to say, one has most definitely got away. First up though, Lincoln City and their incredible FA Cup win at Burnley.

What can you say? It was the archetypal cup tie and a captivating game from start to finish. Andre Gray and James Tarkowski were amongst those left looking very much non-league (please, stop sniggering) whilst Joey Barton’s second half collapse in the box was a piece of football acting so bad it made When Saturday Comes, one of the films under discussion in yesterday’s column,  seem positively Shakespearean in comparison.

Here’s hoping the FA take some retrospective action. It was a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc and a chance missed by the BBC. Whilst, rightly, focussing on Lincoln’s incredible triumph Barton was mostly glossed over. Whilst he was discussed, his antics would be described on Match of the Day as “Just Joey’s game” – see also, his shove in the face of Terry Hawkridge.

It may be “Just Joey’s game”. It’s not the FA’s, though. Old habits seemingly just can’t go away as the whole sorry performance was glossed over. No irony has been lost today with this tweet subsequently resurfacing.

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What a performance from Lincoln. How nice to be talking about City rather than Red Imps of Gibraltar on these pages. And what a disaster for Burnley. If only they’d played like that when Marinus took Brentford to Turf Moor last season. Come to think of it, the way we played that day, we’d still have gone down .

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Turf Moor last season. Any excuse to crowbar this one in – love that unicorn

It was a wonderful cup upset with another one appearing on these very pages. One of those rare instances where yours truly has actually called something correctly. It won’t last although, whilst I’m on something of a streak, let’s tempt fate and back Brentford to beat Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.

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The other topic under discussion yesterday was the portrayal of football on screen. The good, the bad and those efforts which crossed over into both camps. Yet one was missed. One I’d never, ever heard of yet now seen, am giving serious consideration to tracking down if the trailer is anything to go by.

Big thanks to supporter Marc Loewenthal for sharing, this : Hot Shot.

Coming soon. To a betamax near you

The 94 second trailer features, amongst other things : temporarily washed up Pay-lay (that’s Pele to you and I), an up and coming hot head,  an 80’s synth pop soundtrack and a training montage.

A training montage ! A. Training. Montage. In a trailer ! How good must this film be that they can afford to offer up this most iconic of sequences in the teaser sequence?

With a script that seems hammier than Joey Barton’s acting, the producers may aswell have just lifted it straight from the bucket marked , “One was a cop who played it straight. The other wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to get results. Yet, somehow, this unlikely pairing could just be the ones to crack the case and save the day

Nice one , Marc. And thank you.

Good luck Lincoln City in Sunday’s draw. As for me, I’m looking forward to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.

Can Brentford bounce back?

Nick Bruzon

When push comes to shove – The Last Word on….

26 Aug

Brentford host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and so, as part of the big match build up, we’ll move on from talk of Alan Judge to Newcastle United and look at our next opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and today Wednesday are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Without the benefit of any super computer, I’m having to rely on my somewhat scattergun knowledge for this category. That, certainly, something which accounts for Stan Bowles missing out last time in the Nottingham Forest article. Sorry, Stan. And whilst I’m sure that similar gaps will appear this time around, a few names do spring immediately to mind.

There’s Deon Burton, whose time at the Bees included that epic season under Martin Allen in 2004/05 where his goals in a 2-1 win and 3-3 draw with Wednesday helped us towards an eventual play-off semi final place…..

How about his teammate Michael Turner? One of the classiest centre backs to ever grace Griffin Park and somebody who was last seen at the Owls during the previous campaign whilst on loan from Norwich City.

But the choice of standout name boils down to one of two Andys. Sinton was THE man at Griffin Park back in the late 80s. Back to back supporters player of the year in 86/87 and 87/88 he was an almost constant feature in his three seasons. Attacking play and goals were the order of the day as his form played a key role in our epic 88/89 FA Cup run the that would eventually end at Liverpool in the quarter finals. A transfer to QPR would follow where international recognition (12 England caps) and his move to Sheffield Wednesday came next. One of the all time Brentford legends.

But, for me, when you mention Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday there is one name that always strings to mind  – Andy McCulloch. 48 goals in 127 league games for the Bees from 76- 79 were match by an almost identical record at Hillsborough where he notched 44 in 125 following his transfer.

And it is that transfer which, in Andy’s own words, is one of the more unusual in the annals of football history footballing

It was a classic. I scored a header at Griffin Park and had my nose broken. I was on a stretcher, going into the dressing room and Ian St. John, who was at Sheffield Wednesday, pointed to me as I’m going in the door and said , “would you fancy coming to Sheffield Wednesday?” At Brentford –after I had just scored a goal. He tapped me up!

The deal was completed on the camera gantry  at Wembley stadium with their manager Jack Charlton. Andy explaining , “It was before a Scotland-England game, I think . I’d gone up there just to meet Jackie. It was the only way of meeting him in London.”

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees). Our return to the Championship hasn’t seen great results. Last season, in particular, seeing us lucky to escape from Hillsborough having only gone down 4-0 after Yoann Barbet was shown the red card just five minutes into the game.

Instead, we’ll look at the aforementioned 2005/05campaign under Martin Allen. Again, the result was an equally painful one but, for a time, the prospect of playing Wednesday was nothing but the ultimate in excitement.

Having already seen a wonderful FA Cup campaign that finally saw us go out in a fifth round replay to Premier League Southampton, knockout football held no worries. And so we approached our play-off semi final with Wednesday in high spirits. A 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough soon took the wind out of those sails with the home team taking the lead on 12 minutes and never giving us a look in.

The return match at Griffin Park saw the Bees go down 2-1. Even then, Andy Frampton’s goal was nothing more than a very late consolation. Hardly a highlight in our history but one noted to remind us of the pain suffered in this end of season lottery. Moreso, given the hope that one day we will get it right. One day….

Favourite son  (their most famous former player ). The 80s and early 90s were, in particular, a time where the name Sheffield Wednesday evoked nothing but the best imagery. Mr Tom was on their shirt whilst the likes of Lee Chapman and the free scoring David Hirst were on the pitch. To that mix you can add Des Walker (who, of course, featured in this category last time out for Nottingham Forest and Chris Waddle although the latter was sadly bereft of ‘that’ mullet by this point.

From the more recent era, two names spring to mind for the neutral.  Benito Carbone channeled the spirit of Chris Waddle with exciting play, long, long hair and even his iconic ‘Alice band’. Yet it was another Italian who scoops the honours this time around.  Paolo Di Canio.

The club’s top scorer in 1997-98 and a firm fan favourite (apologies for the sub-Chronicle alliteration) he won their player of the year award that season. However, it was the following campaign that secured his cult status when he received an 11 match ban for pushing referee Paul Alcock over during a match against Arsenal.

Nobody could deny it was a flash of unjustifiable temper from the temperamental genius. Yet, at the same time, Alcock’s comedy pratfall certainly added to the seriousness with which the incident would be viewed

And the oscar for best fallover following a shove goes to…

Famous fan. Fast becoming a personal favourite category in this feature, Sheffield Wednesday don’t let us down when it comes to their celebrity supporters.

The biggest names here would seem to be the Arctic Monkeys – all of them, apparently. A fact further emphasised by the fact you normally see them described as ‘Sheffield band….’

Cricket’s Michael Vaughan and former England captain is also an Owl as is, of  all people, singer Jermaine Jackson. The one time Jackson 5 star supposedly began following the club in the late 80s and even wrote a song for last campaign’s play-off defeat to Hull City AFC.

Yet it wouldn’t be The Last Word without mentioning ‘That band’ . If not celebrities, they are certainly recognised faces.

Their moribund parping and off-key trumpeting, so long the bane of England international fixtures, also features at Hillsborough. Flaccid renditions of ’Love will tear us apart’ or their jingoistic movie medley “The Great Escape/Italian job’ being the last thing anybody outside of this self-appointed ‘supporters band’ wants to hear.

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That band. With Trevor Francis (inset)

Best Ever League Performance. In terms of pure scoreline, a simple one this week. Any excuse to crank out the brackets and a 9-1 victory over Birmingham City at Hillsborough back in December 1930 saw the Owls easily cruise past the 7(seven) goal mark

Moment of ignominy – ( what it says – opposite to above). I could pick ‘that band’ but we’re bigger than that.

Likewise, in terms of pure results then going back over a century to October 1912 saw Wednesday go down 10-1 at Aston Villa. In recent years, Villa have struggled to score 10 goals in an entire season let alone in one game

But the turn of this century saw them go on an eight game First Division (second tier) losing streak that lasted over a month: 9 September until 17 October saw their form guide read: LLLLLLLL. Beginning with a 0-5 home humping at the hands of Wimbledon, a Steve Harkness goal finally brought this dismal run to an end with a 1-0 win over Birmingham. Incredibly, they stayed up.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Howard Wilkinson ? Big Ron? Erm. Move along, nothing to see here. Whilst the purist will likely go for Wilkinson, for me  you can’t knock the achievements of Trevor Francis.

Taking over as player-manager with the team back in the top flight, he lead them to third place in the league in 1992 and, with it, a hard-earned UEFA cup place. There was no entry to the league of fake Champions for coming third or fourth then.

His Wednesday team then took part in the first ever Premier League where they came 7th (seventh). However, the season was as notable for a double Wembley appearance where they reached the finals of bot the League and FA cup.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). First division champions in the ‘20s. The wonder years under Francis. Wednesday even won the League cup through the wisdom and guidance of Big Ron. Yet, for me all this pails into insignificance compared to the greatest thing not to come out of Sheffield.

That band doesn’t travel.

Nick Bruzon

The kit is out and the dust has settled. Is it a winner?

23 Jul

What a day for kit news. Brentford released their 2016/17 shirt designs to the world.  Championship rivals Norwich City have entered the realms of greatness by recreating an already iconic kit in some style. Whilst, for those not already aware, Sheffield Wednesday have gone for a controversial look…

First though, Griffin Park. The kit is out and I have to say I love it. The home especially which I think is our best shirt in years. If Norwich have rolled back the years then it’s fair to say that Brentford have more than matched them on the history front. Echoing the mythical Adidas 80/81 design (seriously, does anybody have one?) fused with the Core 95/96 shirt, it also features an early 70’s round neck collar. Think Peter Gelson or Big John O’Mara (kids, ask your dads. Now !!).

Nico new kit

For sure it has a bit more white than red but that’s no bad thing in my eyes. We haven’t been afraid to mix it up in the past and, when offset with the black of the shoulder stripes, shorts and socks – looks simply stunning.

Besides, where does it actually say we need as much red as white? Well done to Matthew Benham, Mark Devlin and, of course, Kitman Bob Oteng for breaking the mould a little bit to come out with a wonderful effort.

Interestingly, looking on social media and the club wesbite last night, it seems that Bob is already starting to think about our next designs already. Do check his twitter feed (if for no other reason than the return of the legendary BBgiveaway this season) and interview on ‘official’ where he reveals:  “If we take the 2017/18 kit for example, I will start preparing for that in about six weeks’ time,”

Wow! 2017/18? I’ve not even bought this stunner yet and now there’s already another shirt to obsess about. Well Bob, if you are reading, I’ve got two words to say: FunkyBee.  Failing that, who doesn’t love a castle…?

One final thought on the home shirt. Whilst (in my eyes) it is an instant classic, I do understand that a few people might take a bit of time adjusting to the red/white ratio. If so, spare a thought for Sheffield Wednesday supporters.

Just as Brentford traditionally wear red and white stripes, they do the same in blue and white. Not this season though, where the home kit has gone so far in one direction that we’ll probably get to wear our ‘home’ colours at Hillsborough for the first time in decades….

Sheff Wednesday

Next up, the away shirt. I’ve never been a fan of a black change kit for Brentford. In my eyes, and perhaps it is a generational thing, blue is our second colour. Especially those wonderful two-tone efforts from the 80’s and 90’s.

Then, last season, Bob produced that incredible ‘third’ shirt against Blackburn Rovers and everything changed. Swoon – like a teenager with a crush I was back in love with that beautiful black.

So it was with great joy that we learned Brentford were giving it another go this time around. Having seen it, I think it looks great.Simple black with a bit of detailing and those classic adidas stripes.

My preference out of the two is undoubtedly the home shirt. That said, this is still a cracking effort. My main ‘problem’ being that last season’s third was just held in such high regard that it almost feels like ‘cheating’ to lavish equal attention on a new rival after finding a ‘best ever’ just months earlier.

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That’s just me. I need to get out more. Besides, opinions can change and, if I’m being honest, my gut reaction to last season’s blue was uber-positive before losing interest in that one very fast (then again, I blame the Blackburn, erm, black). The important thing is what supporters think and, almost universally, it seems to be going down a storm.

Personally speaking, I’ve had more time than most to get used to these having been afforded the opportunity to participate in the fans photo shoot a few weeks ago. I can only offer a huge thank you to the club for this chance, along with a huge apology to anybody of a sensitive disposition should panic about a possible new signing have set in when the pictures appeared.

Seriously though, along with Matthew’s letter yesterday it just showed, again, what we do for our fans. What a great idea to get some of them involved in the photo shoot alongside Harlee, Scott, Dan, Andreas, Nico and some local landmarks –  Betty from the Griffin looking good in particular . When Brentford get it right ‘off the pitch’ we are, hands down, the best club in the country.

Ok, Norwich City. I mentioned them at the top end of this article for the simple reason that, like us, they also released a new kit yesterday. This time, their latest ‘third’ shirt.

Sadly (for me), their Premier League status last season meant we were deprived of a ‘kit obsessive’ article although thankfully that will be remedied this campaign. However, had one been written you could be sure it would have featured the infamous 92-94 ‘bird poo’ shirt from Ribero.

Well, in exciting news (for kit nerds) it seems the Canaries have only gone and recreated it. In some style. This is just phenomenal.

Norwich third kit

Errea have made some stinkers over the years but I can do nothing but doff my hat to this effort. One can only presume there will be too much of a clash to see it in action at Griffin Park this season but we can live in hope.

It is vivd, glaring, still looks like a flock of rogue canaries with food poisoning have taken their best shot yet, at the same time, is absolutely wonderful. Moreso, the goalkeeper’s shirt which appears to be designed on hot lava.

I’m hoping that when our Adidas contract eventually expires we switch to New Balance (my only chance for a legitimate monogrammed tracksuit, being as the head coach role remains tantalisingly out of reach). That said, if Errea can keep up this level of shirt quality then maybe they could be one to keep an eye on in future…

My season ticket arrived yesterday and with it a booklet promising what I can presume was meant to say either ‘mouth watering’ or ‘eye catching’ fixtures. Instead, have we mixed our metaphors with a promise of what one terrace wag has pointed out is anticipated to be ‘eye watering’ football this season?

Perhaps though, in retrospect, they were bang on. Given those Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich efforts, this could be exactly what was meant.

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Nick Bruzon

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup (quarter final)

27 May

That’s controversial. The Football Association have announced that FA Cup quarter final replays are to be scrapped. Brentford haven’t reached that stage since playing Liverpool in the 1988/89 campaign but this could still have significant impact. And following on from yesterday’s article about the most recent Terrace Talk double bill, we take a quick look at what the next logical step for next season could be.

But first, those changes to the FA Cup. Chief Executive Martin Glenn has been quoted as saying that as part of an ongoing review, this move “adds excitement”.   Whilst the replays will stay in place up to and including round 5, this move is also intended to help ease fixture congestion.

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The Bees haven’t played an FA Cup quarter final since Livepool in 88/89

Of course, we’ve already seen replays in the semis and the final itself disappear in recent years but those are played at a neutral ground. Or Wembley as it has been known since the national stadium was reopened.

And this is what strikes me as odd. You are changing the rules mid-tournament and handing a massive advantage to the home team in this quarter final stage.

The traditionalist in me would love replays to run all the way through to the final but that’s just not going to happen given the already overcrowded calendar.  At least, though, those games take place at a stadium that, travel aside, favours neither team. This is different.

The chance to hold on for the draw and bring them back to your place is gone. And does this mean that in the bid for further fixture review we’ll follow suit in the earlier rounds? Surely it should be all or nothing?

Instead of the ongoing devaluation of our oldest cup competition, if you want to ease fixture congestion then just scrap the Worthless aka League Cup. Most teams use this as an excuse to play the kids anyway – even Brentford who ended up on the wrong end of last season’s 4-0 humbling at home to Oxford United. Three goals down before 8pm (it had been a 7.45 kick off) we got everything we deserved after joining the ranks of those paying lip service to this tournament.

And while we’re at it, semi-finals at Wembley. Just no. No. The final should be a showpiece event. A trip to Wembley should be that rarest of treats and due reward for making the last round. Not a dress rehearsal to maximise revenue for the FA and cause supporters all manner of travel headaches. Villa Park, Hillsborough ,The Emirates and Old Trafford are amongst those which would be more than able to handle an event of this nature and restore some much needed tradition to the tournament.

Ah yes, but apparently Wembley allows the maximum amount of people to see the semis. That’ll be the sound of the woodwork being vacated. And by that logic, play the quarters there too. Hey, what about some plum fourth round ties?

As I say, this will all make little difference to Brentford, anyway. We’ve struggled to get past the 3rd round since that epic, Gary Blissett inspired run took us all the way to Anfield and the 4-0 loss at the hands of all conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads). The odd dalliance with the middle stages aside, from which I’d imagine Gary Breen is still having DJ Campbell inspired nightmares, we’re normally done by the end of January. But you can still live in hope.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 v his beloved Manchester City in the FA cup 4th round

Back to Griffin Park and yesterday’s article focussed on the brilliance of Terrace Talk. Which then got the mind wandering over the course of the day (outside of working hours, if you’re reading boss)  – how do we top it next time out?

First thought was a couple of ‘one-off specials’ . We’ve already talked about a kit launch special but how about a day in the life of Griffin Park? Jo and Sean taking us through the match day routine – from the Griffin Park gates being unlocked int he morning to the floodlights being turned off at the end of the day. All, of course, delivered via their own enthusiastic spin.

How about ‘Terrace Talk on the road’ ? Brentford travel well and it would give those who couldn’t make the game a chance to see things they would, ordinarily, get an insight on.

Or rather than Terrace Talk, could Jo or Sean take things to the next level with Dressing Room Talk ?  Cameras in the changing rooms aren’t a new thing but how good would it be to get the player’s take on Jo’s ‘big question’ before the game and, perhaps, their views on performance at full time.

Could it happen? Who knows? Just as long as those Terrace Talks cameras are back in one form or another then I’ll be a happy man.

Jo Tilley Terrace Talk

Will Jo do the ‘walk and talk’ next season?

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

 

A potential silver lining as another part of next season falls into place

17 May

Monday evening saw Brentford learn another opponent for next season as the horror and the brilliance of the play-offs was combined in equal measure. Despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents , Brighton were unable to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit and so it is Sheffield Wednesday who reach the final next weekend. Barring a minor miracle, Hull City (who complete formalities at home to Derby tonight, 3-0 up) will be the only thing in their way as the Premier league beckons.

The nice part of me feels dreadfully for Brighton right now. The were in ‘automatic’ for long parts of the season and finished level on points with promoted Middlesbrough. Only two goals split the respective teams, with Boro ending the campaign on 89 points and +32 ; the Seagulls 89 points and + 30.

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The BBC table doesn’t lie

Wednesday, meanwhile, finished 15 points behind the Seagulls and had gone into the semi on anything less than great form. Only 2 wins out of the last 7(seven) suggested a team who had as much chance as Derby County of making the final. Yet, as we all know, form counts for nothing and the play-offs are a fickle mistress.

If one team can feel Brighton’s pain right now it is Brentford. Our play off form is only matched by Sheffield United, in making it 8 attempts without winning the final. Even Preston, finally, breaking their hoodoo last season making it 1 win out of 10 to join us in the Championship.

For the record, our own campaign trail of woe reads.

1990/91 : Lost. SF. Tranmere Rovers (2-3)

1994/95 : Lost. SF. Huddersfield Town (2-2; pens)

1996/97 : Lost. Final. Crewe (0-1)

2000/01 : Lost. Final. Stoke City (0-2)

2004/05 : Lost. SF. Sheffield Wednesday (1-3)

2005/06 : Lost. SF. Swansea City (1-3)

2012/13 : Lost. Final. Yeovil Town (1-2)

2014/15 : Lost. SF. Middlesbrough (1-5)

I take no pleasure from seeing any team go through what we have done. Many times. If ever a reminder were needed (it wasn’t) about just how cruel the play-offs can be it was here. If ever a reminder was needed of the importance of grabbing ever point and every goal over the course of the regular season then last night served up yet another example.

Yet, at the same time, whilst I do have sympathy I also have some selfishness about this. As one observer noted on Twitter last night, “Brighton away its too good a trip to be wasted on the Premier League”.

I’ve got no new interest in Sheffield  – been there, done it, eaten their (albeit lovely) pies and heard ‘that band’ many times. Should Hull win the final, then no doubt I may go (again).

But a guaranteed trip to the Amex is only a fantastic thing for Brentford. A short hop on the train. A day out by the coast. A full house of Bees in the away end. A cracking atmosphere.

Nick mascots Brighton

The Albion mascots – it feels like cheating on Buzzette

Sheffield are welcome to take their band and Hi-Ho, Silver Lining (see also: Let me Entertain you / We are the Champions for ‘overplayed stadium songs’ ) to the top flight. Good luck to them. Genuinely. I’ve always enjoyed going there and wish them no ill will.

But a trip to the Amex, something that many of us were denied this time around thanks to the decision making of Sky TV, can only be viewed as a positive. At least, for us visiting fans.

To be honest, missing out on that trip this time around was probably no bad thing (and if you’d like to read more about that, or the season just gone then you know the drill – it’s here). Brentford were abject when we went down 3-0 in February.

For that reason alone, redemption, I’m already looking forward to another visit. Now, where’s that railcard…?

Until then, this may remain on the cards. Still, if Wednesday do go up there will be one silver lining.

Enjoy

And finally, as ever, genuine thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the aforementioned Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). It is somewhat humbling that people take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

Killer Owls slaughter Bees in a Valentine’s massacre

14 Feb

Brentford fell to a second straight defeat as Sheffield Wednesday inflicted a 4-0 thrashing on the 10 man Bees. Following last week’s reverse at Brighton, this made it 7(seven) goals against without reply as we were left dead in the water after referee Scott Duncan showed straight red shown to Yoann Barbet in just the fifth minute.

In a repeat of the corresponding home game earlier in the season, Lucas João grabbed a last minute winner. This time, though, there was no question as to who deserved the points. The encounter at Griffin Park may have seen things end with a hard fought 2-1 in favour of the visitors but yesterday’s result was one which, if we are being honest, they’ll probably be disappointed not to have ended with a bracketing.

If we’re being equally honest, their cause was massively helped by the sending off. Barbet was adjudged to have brought down Gary Hooper with the Wednesday player clean through on goal after running onto a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). It may have been Valentine’s weekend but this was one card that Yoann won’t have wanted to receive. I’ve watched it and rewatched it yet my own opinion remains wooly.

Undoubtedly, the Brentford man has raised a hand to Hooper’s shoulder, to which the striker needed no further invitation to go straight down. Was it a professional foul? Was the reaction exaggerated? Who knows. Certainly not the ref and one can sympathise with Dean Smith’s assertion that, “I don’t believe the referee can make the decision. I think he guessed. He’s directly behind it, 40 yards away. I thought it was a poor decision.”

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Yoann Barbet – his sending off left Dean Smith seeing red

Put it this way. Had the same thing happened at Griffin Park, we’d have been baying for blood and a red card. There’d have been uproar had it not been given. That said, the ref had enough time to think about it – such was the length he had to run in order to flourish his card – so could at least have consulted his linesman and used any available help to make a potentially game changing decision.

Guess or not, Hooper had been in a great position and with the Bees forced into a rejig (Jack O’Connell coming on for the recalled Konstantin Kerschbaumer) parity lasted until just the 12th minute. Fernando Forestieri’s header giving the hosts an early lead.

Hooper doubled it with a great strike after a long ball over the top (sound familiar?). Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood claiming the assist for that one as Hooper ignored the presence of Jack O’Connell to fire home with a sweet first touch. It was a cracking strike and deserving of all plaudits – such was the technique and precision employed.

It was game over just before half time. A long ball over the top (sound familiar?) reached Kieran Lee in the box. The Wednesday midfielder bamboozled Harlee Dean whose non-challenge was, at best, an attempt to jump into his opponent after Jack O’Connell had been beaten for the cross in.

Yet despite a marginally better second-half showing from the Bees , it was Sheffield Wednesday who would eventually extend the lead further. A long ball threaded through the midfield (hey, at least it wasn’t over the top) found Lucas João. With Jack and Harlee ambling (now there’s an idea for a Partridge TV show – “Ambling with Jack and Harlee”), David Button could only help push it into his own net and will, perhaps, be disappointed with that one.

4-0. Game over. Ouch.

Not even Mark Burridge can salvage this one

There is one school of thought that would suggest the referee ruined this one. The Bees had been the stronger team in the opening spell before it became 10 against 11 and were left with no hope from that point. True enough, but to be cut open so easily and so consistently was nothing but shambolic. Blame the ref, absolutely, but we need to look inwards too. Certainly, we gave our opponents a huge helping hand with what could politely be called ‘schoolboy defending’.

Likewise, take nothing away from Wednesday. They are where they are on merit and will present a major threat to anybody with play-off aspirations. Certainly those are aspirations that Brentford can no longer harbour – even Ciaran Brett from the club media team admitted during the game that those pre-match claims had been “optimistic” .

So what of the Bees? Our current form is starting to worry and the current statistical trend doesn’t make great reading. We’ve only scored 6 goals in our last 8 games – and 3 of those came up at Preston, our only win all year. Indeed, yesterday’s result means we’ve lost 6 out of our last 8 matches whilst the ‘winning run’ stretches to 5 out of 18.

With the top of the table out of reach, and Brentford now occupying 13th, should we be worried about the other end? It sounds ludicrous to even mention such an option and a 14 point gap (combined with ’less bad’ goal difference) should be too much with 15 games to go.

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The BBC table shows us firmly ensconced mid-table. For now

More, its just disappointing to see the great work put in by Lee Carsley and the squad, where we were within spitting distance of the top 6 after the disaster of ‘The Marinus Experiment’, now falling away amidst further departures and a poor run of results.

Nobody has a divine right to be any good. Nobody has a divine right to promotion. Nobody stays up by default. You need to work at these things and earn them. We did so much of that last season and absolutely deserved what we got, despite a team that many suggested were ‘punching above their weight’. Personally, I thought such a suggestion to be disrespectful. We were a team that thrived on spirit and skill who could, arguably should, even have gone one better.

Now we have made the decision to dismantle and rebuild. On-field, the transfer policy that is being driven by our co-directors of football is certainly open to debate. I get that money talks and we can’t force players who don’t want to stay to remain here. Likewise, many talk about this being a longer term strategy to keep us financially viable until the Lionel Road stadium is able to be built.

All true. Yet few could deny that the change in morale, motivation and performance make this seem a world away from where we were 12 months ago. For those football fans whose week is based around the last result and looking forward to the following game (surely the point of going?), it’s a tough place to be at present.

The next few weeks, let alone the next few months, are going to be very interesting indeed.

Nick Bruzon

Optimism or unrealistic on our ‘crazy’ and ‘sentimental’ journey?

13 Feb

Brentford travel to Sheffield Wednesday today. Quite simply, it is a case of win or bust if the Bees are to have any realistic hopes of making the play offs that both Dean Smith and the club have been trumpeting about since the 3-0 loss to Brighton on Friday night.

As was noted in yesterday’s article, the realistic part of me knows that that a gap of 10 points between us and 6th placed Wednesday will be too much to overcome. Dean was quoted as saying that “Whilst there is still an opportunity…we will go for it.” whilst even yesterday the official site noted that, “The Bees travel to Hillsborough to face fellow promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday.”

Of course, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and should the Bees record what would be a 6th win in the last 18 games this afternoon then, theoretically, we could move to within just 7(seven) points of the play-offs . I am assuming, of course, that such a victory will come by sufficient a margin to start reigning in the goal difference of 14 that, effectively, makes up an additional point. From there, we have successive home games and anything could happen.

But before we even get to thinking about Derby and Wolves, can we do it today? Obviously one can only hope for the best and trust in the words of Dean Smith. With the squad back in their expected frame of mind on the training ground, is it possible we could avenge our last minute defeat at home to the Owls back in September?

That, Marinus Dijkhuizen’s final game ‘in charge’ of the Bees before our parting of the ways the following day, saw us stung at the death after Alan Judge had hauled Brentford back into it. It was a tough one to take in a game where referee Geoff Eltringham showed two reds as the Bees were caught short, pushing for a last gasp winner. Instead, we were our own victims of that period known as Jota time.

Alan Judge celebrates

Alan Judge delivered a blow to Wednesday as our fans celebrated. Until the 90th

And it is that man, Judge rather than Eltringham, who could be the difference at Hillsborough. Wednesday’s interest in the player was well documented over the January transfer window with, thankfully, our man-of –the-moment staying put at Griffin Park. At least, for now.

I’m sure he’ll have a huge point to prove. Both for the Brentford fans and, likewise, his would be employers to show just what they have missed out on. There is a huge resignation amongst the Griffin Park faithful to the fact that this is only a short term stay of execution and, regardless, Alan will still be off in the summer.

He has the absolute ability to play in the Premier League and could quite likely feature in the Euro 2016 finals this summer. If, and of course we don’t know what has been said behind closed doors, a move is on the cards then much better to do it to a team that he knows will be in the top flight rather than making an educated guess now .

Of course, there is also the opportunity for Brentford to continue the rebuilding programme around a hard core of experienced players such as Judge, David Button, Jake Bidwell and Sam Saunders. Still, all that is a long way off and, at least if club optimism is to be believed, it might still be us pushing for the top flight in three months. Believe me, I’d love to be eating my words on that front.

The other news of interest for Brentford fans is the latest ‘giveaway’ from kitman Bob Oteng. This ever popular competition returns next weekend with Bob already promising that the Derby game will feature, “a sentimental giveaway with a crazy guessing subject.

Fast becoming my favourite part of the week, Bob will be doing well to surpass his last ‘guessing subject’ – how many fouls Keith Stroud would award in our game at Brighton.

Whatever it is, he has nailed the season in two words – ‘sentimental’ and ‘crazy’. We love our Bees but only a few could deny it hasn’t been an emotional rollercoaster.

And with 16 games still to go, I reckon we’ve still got a few surprises left to come.

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Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of crazy competitions

Nick Bruzon

Tickets and travels – Wednesday and QPR are getting closer

12 Feb

After another painful wait for a game following last Friday’s shoeing at Brighton, it’s almost time to step back up to the plate with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday. The Hillsborough outfit will, of course, be looking to consolidate their place in the play-off zone. Before all that, though, we see the main swathe of tickets for QPR going on sale today.

It would be fair to say that, Chelsea aside, Brentford were kings of West London football last season. We finished well clear of Fulham whilst taking all 6 points and 6 goals off them in the League. Stuart Dallas scored THAT goal whilst Jota did his thing in the last minute. Twice.

QPR, meanwhile, slid out of the Premier League after a poor, poor campaign – returning to the second tier of English football once more. This time around, things haven’t been much better for either of our divisional rivals. Fulham are 11 points behind the Bees whilst despite a recent resurgence for the Loftus Road mob, it is still the Bees who occupy 12th to their 13th. Plus we have the advantage of first bragging rights as Marco Djuricin popped up with the only goal of the game when we secured all three points at Griffin Park back in October.

SWIFT Brentford QPR

October at Griffin Park – who could forget ?

Tickets are sure to fly for those who now have the requisite amount of points. Last year’s ‘loyalty’ being this years ‘TAP’. Rightly so, we all love a local derby and will be desperate to get one over our neighbours in their own, cramped, stadium. With only half the allocation we normally get for Craven Cottage available, it is sure to be a packed and noisy crowd. I can’t wait.

Before all that is Sheffield Wednesday. With the Bees now 10 points (effectively 11 with goal difference) off the 6th place that they occupy, anything but a win will ,surely, spell the end to the play-off aspirations that Dean Smith was still harbouring after the game at the Amex.

Despite his observation that , “We have 16 games and 48 points to play for, while there is still an opportunity to make the Play-Offs we will go for it”, I don’t think many are fooled. Sorry Dean but I can do the maths. Much as I love the Bees and only want the best for us, I’m also realistic. And can read a form table.

If that was, perhaps, a soundbite he was obliged to give, yesterday’s press day saw him come out with two much more positive / realistic ones. Firstly, that, “ I am not a massive fan of possession stats because they don’t always mean you will win the game,

Hallelujah! As, I’ve been saying all season – all the possession in the world and sideways passing counts for naff all if you can’t get the ball in the back of the net or even manage a shot. Brighton saw the quintessential example of this. Despite seeing 65% of the ball, the Bees only managed one effort on target and went down 3-0. Here’s hoping lessons have been learned.

Equally pertinent were his observations about training. Specifically that Scott Hogan is getting stuck in and has really impressed after being out for so long. This is stunning news for the player but , equally, perhaps the motivation that everybody needs after Dean’s previous bombshell about us lacking intensity.

Sheffield Wednesday will provide a phenomenal challenge. If only for our supporters having to listen to ‘that band’. Yet if Dean’s words are to be believed, then we’ve got a team that are going to go for it

On Saturday, we find out.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

Best avoided