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Which way are you going?

16 Jun

Here we go again. Part 2 of 2019/20 is almost upon us with Brentford gearing up for life on and off the pitch. Arsenal were put to the sword 3-2 in front of a noisier than usual crowd last week. The Bees then went down 2-0 at Watford on Saturday. Chelsea are supposedly in for Saïd Benrahma, if you believe the ’stories’. A mixed bag of pre-season results and the worry of transfer rumours – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve got the trip to Fulham on Saturday.

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The blue of Brentford rather than Chelsea is the future. I hope.

I have to be honest that there are a whole range of mixed emotions at present. That football can even take place in any format is going to be a huge morale boost after three months of lockdown. Likewise, the fact that the Championship is able to be determined on the pitch, despite the horribly artificial environments the games will be played in. Some clubs – the likes of Arsenal and Fulham – are sure to thrive in these familiar circumstances. Libraries and clappers have never made for good atmosphere. Others, like Leeds United and West Brom, may struggle rattling around inside those huge, empty arenas. So often a cauldron of noise but now empty vessels where every sound and echo is amplified further.

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Arsenal played Brentford in front of a noisy Emirates crowd.

We’ve all been granted the option to donate our remaining Season ticket balance for access to I-follow and a club brand facemask in order to watch the action. You have to feel for the clubs with revenue streams being decimated. Having to then refund supporters for cancelled tickets on top of this could be a body blow fo many. 

The email sent to Brentford fans was certainly a tough sell,  pressing all the buttons marked ‘togetherness’ and ‘challenge’. I don’t envy the clubs these decisions. I don’t envy fans then being put in the position where they have to make the choice in what are horrific financial times for many. Individual and family circumstances will, of course, vary. Money is tight and if nothing else, Lionel Road Season Tickets still need to be paid for. Some fans may want to help but simply have no option. Others may take the line of why pay for something they aren’t getting to the full?         

Personally, I’ve gone for the donate option. It may be super cheesy but Griffin Park is one place where, for me, ‘togetherness’ IS what it has always been about. Fans mix with players. The top brass talk to supporters. The Community Sports Trust is magnificent whilst let’s not forget our unique involvement – past and present – c/o Supporters Trust Bees United. Buckets have been rattled and times have been hard. Takeovers from down the road have been put off – all thanks to the fans coming together. For me, this is another defining moment in our history and it’s been refreshing to see so many coming out on social media to say that they are doing their bit to help our club.  

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Togetherness – my abiding image of the season to date

Those wanting to get the I-follow access for Fulham have until Wednesday lunchtime to push the button. After that, fans will be sent the link for the game aswell as the chance to upload their picture for the fan banner going up at Griffin Park.

It won’t make for the usual experience, obviously. But football fans and business the world over are in the same boat. We have to try and make the best of a crappy situation. Even if it is in our front rooms and social bubbles. Look positive, should things go one way (i.e where Leeds and West Brom don’t choke but our own wins keep coming), we won’t actually be allowed to go and watch the team at Wembley. We all know what plays out when that happens. Imagine it taking nobody being there to finally break the duck. 

Still, all that is a long, long way off. First up, its Fulham on Saturday. They’ve even been testing fake crowd noise. Good to see that some things don’t change.

Nick Bruzon

Are these our three most unusual shirts?

21 Apr

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

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

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Congratulations, Umbro

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Hummel / Core – a kit oddity

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

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I love it. Does it even exist?

Nick Bruzon

A morning with Matt, afternoon with Phil and evening with wine. Plus ‘teaching’ on the fly.

4 Apr

It’s been a bit of an up and down week this time around. And we’re the lucky ones – I’m well, well aware of that. We’ve a park across the road from the house and I’ve been able to get out to both do running solo and exercise (football) with Harry. He’s now decided that he’s David Raya whilst I’m anything but Sam Saunders. “Sam Stupid more like, dad”, as another precision free kick is expertly stopped by the young Spanish wannabe or, more usually, sliced dangerously close to those invisible two metre exclusion zones orbiting others who are out and about. We should be preparing for Brentford v Wigan. Instead, we’re reduced to channeling our inner heroes as the floodlights loom over us from  the other side of St. Paul’s Park. Offering up a teasing reminder that football is so close yet so far. The nearest I got to that was doubling up with Nottingham Forest fan Matt Dyson on Absolute Radio this week, for the best possible reasons…

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‘Raya’ models his 2021/22 shirt during designated ‘exercise’ time as ‘Stupid’ spoons one wide.

Things could be a lot, lot worse. Reading stories in the press about people trapped in cramped hostel accommodation or even just looking out of the front room window to the tower blocks on the horizon, one can’t even begin to imagine how tough it is out there. Likewise, abroad where conditions everywhere from Italy to India make our situation seem like a stroll in the park. No pun intended.

Instead, my challenge is that of trying to combine being a teacher, good husband, quiz master, motivator (H is taking all of this really hard – especially the not being able to mix with other kids part ) with that of working ten hour days online and trying to maintain some form of normality. Whether that be in terms of routine or cooking. The later something I normally love and now has an added element of ‘challenge’ given the supply situation and no longer being able to “Just nip down to the shops” for those essential items that we’re always short of. Cripes, let’s add menu planning and preparation to the list of first world problems.

Then again, necessity is the mother of invention. The bread machine that has sat on the side for the last few years has suddenly sprung back in to life. Thanks only to an ongoing commitment, and failure, to use the thing so we’ve had a permanent supply of flour and yeast in the house which has gone untouched. All of a sudden it’s worth it’s weight in unintentional gold.  Sadly, those supplies seem very finite with no chance of being replaced although at least we have some form of toast and sandwiches. Of all the luxuries I’d miss it is alcohol, peanut butter and fresh bread which are very much at the top of the list.

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History lessons

But we digress. Food and booze. It’s where my mind is at the moment. I have both at the moment. I have exercise. I have a family around me . Albeit one who are finding this tough. Harry is carrying the monkey he’s had since birth around with him all the time, even to class. We’re really winging it as teachers. Some of which is fun and some of which is hard work. History lessons very much becoming case of fact mixed with fiction. Of being told that my original iPod “looks so old fashioned dad” . Art lessons are loaded on to YouTube by my brother. Inspiration for creative writing coming from author Lisa Thompson every Monday morning at 9.30am on Instagram live. 

People keep banging on about Joe Wicks. It’s good to see him branching out since that stint on TV’s Eastenders but not for me. Or Harry – and he has tried but told me that he got tired after a minute. Hmm. This is the same Harry who complains when the hour in the park is over or who is launching himself into Mrs. Bruzon’s DIY bootcamp sessions in the back yard? But stick Lisa in front of him and he’s engaged. Asking questions online and writing stories all week. You can find her page, here.

So we’re winging it. We’re lucky, all things considered. But this is still nowhere near ‘normal’ life. When home doubles up as both the office and the classroom it’s hard to separate the day as the various aspects of modern life all bleed in to each other. When do work or education end and fun begin? How on earth do you play or socialise when trapped between four walls? Especially trapped with me  – I do feel for Mrs B at times. 

Well, like most of life these days a lot of it is happening online. Zoom and house party video conferencing is very much the way forward. Harry is on with various groups of friends every afternoon – mixed results there. Sometimes you can’t shut them up. At others, it’s like watching a bunch of Star Trek fans trying to make small talk with the opposite sex. Although at least they have the social distancing part bang on. 

For the grown ups, there’s wine (presumably, we’re all drinking more at the moment and it’s not just us?) and chat in the evenings. Something which is nowhere near as cringe as I first thought it would be. Quite the opposite. There’s only so much we can talk about at home given the lack of external stimulus and so still being able to catch up with friends and family is really helping to keep us sane.

This afternoon, Saturday, we’ve got the big Brentford Zoom chat. The GPG have arranged the online session with Phil Giles. We should be playing Wigan. Instead, we at least have the opportunity to quiz our director of football on all things Griffin Park. This, something we’ve always done well and is probably even more crucial now. At least, in keeping fans informed and morale up. All the details on this one are below.

Then there was the letter from Jon Varney, Cliff Crown and the board yesterday. And the posts on Twitter. With the EFL declaring that the season has been suspended indefinitely, it really was informative and open stuff from the club. I’m presuming we’ve all read it but if not, the link is here. Please do take the time out to read it. Great work all round. I’d give anything for life to be back to normal and us all meeting up at Griffin Park once more. Until that can happen, I take huge consolation from what we are doing.

The weekend is here and, on a personal note, it feels like any other morning. At present. An early start with coffee. Sat in front of a keyboard but at least no school or work to prepare for. The radio is on, as ever, and with a bit of focus, it can feel like a ‘regular’ day at this time. Top tunes are playing, I’m sat here in pants/dressing gown combo and there’s the chance to throw some nonsense out on to the internet. It’s just like any other 6am. 

On that subject, I’d love to offer huge thanks to Absolute Radio for allowing yours truly onto Dave Berry’s breakfast show on Tuesday. We said at the top end of the article about it being an up and down week. This bit was very much in the ‘up’ part. Doubling up with Nottingham Forest fan Matt Dyson to try and win five grand. In theory for me but money that would have gone elsewhere. Our quite wonderful NHS who, and I apologise if anybody heard it, I think I may have gone in to one about. In a positive sense. It’s here, otherwise, and is worth it alone for Elton John doing Only Fools and Horses.

What the station does is just magnificent at the best of times, let alone now. Mental health has been a topic high on their agenda over the last year and is something they continue to promote. To remind people that we will get through this and it is ok to be anxious about everything that is unfolding around us. I’m not too proud to admit that radio is really helping to keep me going at present. Even moreso than ever. With DJs all broadcasting from home, the technology to keep the service and quality is quite incredible.

Whomever you listen to, keep it on. Keep that external input into your lives going and don’t underestimate how valuable a service is being provided at present. I do miss working next to people but one ‘positive’ is that at least I can do my job alongside that voice at the other end of the wireless and anybody from The Bluetones to Ash ; The Charlatans to Supergrass. But definitely no Mick Hucknall. Under any circumstances.

And it is another voice at the end of said medium that I need to offer up huge thanks to this Saturday morning. Not Absolute but the BBC and, of course, the quite wonderful Billy Reeves.

Aside from afternoon chat with Phil, the other Zoom activity in our house is an online quiz being hosted this evening. And, as ever, things have been left ‘last minute’. A tweet out to our man asking for a question has been met with not just one brainteaser but an entire section – the mother of all fiendish music rounds. With other Brentford fans also picking in off the back of this with questions, Cinderella will goto the virtual ball. Or, at least, the spangly jacket can come out of the wardrobe later.

But enough  about the chat with Phil.

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BBC Billy doing his thing in happier times

Stay safe everybody. I hope you are all bearing up. DMs are open if anybody wants to chat about anything. Football related or otherwise. Not that I’m really much good at this – I’m just a Brentford fan with limited knowledge about life who uses Twitter far too much –  but, as Bob Hoskins used to say. “It’s good to talk”.

Whatever gets you through this. Now go turn on the radio. Oh, and please send a quiz question via Twitter if you are bored: @NickBruzon.  Hey, I might even host one next week if anybody wants to play?

Just a thought….

Nick Bruzon

Brentford ruthless. QPR hopeless. Pressure building on top two.

12 Jan

That was just about the perfect day of football. Brentford obliterated QPR with a pedal to the metal first half performance that saw our visitors blown away and leaving Griffin Park for the last time on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. PaddyHoops. John Storm. Mike O’Callaghan. Pete Doherty – your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was quite wonderful. Moreso with Leeds United falling apart (again) and West Bromwich Albion being held at Charlton Athletic. With the pressure on the top two building further, The Bees have halved that previous 12 point gap to a mere 6.

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Players and fans celebrate – Pontus loving it

But before table talk and our rivals, let’s cut to the chase of the game at Griffin Park. Brentford were simply magnificent. The first half especially where the much talked about BMW of Benrahma, Mbeumo and Watkins all scored over the course of a blistering 15 minute spell in that opening period. QPR weren’t even close to coming second, such was the one way traffic and relentlessness of our approach. With fans knowing what this one meant, and Peter Gilham in fine voice, the goals started to flow.

First up, B. Saïd sweeping home a Jensen free kick to make it 1-0. The ball was played low into the box, Benrahma lost his man and hit it first time from just in front of the penalty spot to the bottom corner. The crowd exploded as one. Broad smiles across the faces of the players. Pontus fist pumping and screaming for all his worth. What a moment. Whatever pressure might have been on us was released in an instant.

Next, M. A woeful clearance from the QPR keeper found man of the match Christian Nørgaard. He hoisted it up to Mbeumo whose reading of the high ball into the box as he ran was exquisite, watching it from before reaching a telescopic leg around the chasing defender and making the perfect connection. 2-0 and the ground went bonkers. Peter set to blow, which he did just a few minutes later.

With the Bees continuing to push it was the turn of W, Ollie Watkins. His header coming off the end of another free kick move as Ethan Pinnock guided the ball across the face of goal. “That’s the B…M…W…” exhorted Peter over the p.a. system. Ollie making it quite clear the goal, his 18th of the season, was being given to him ! It sees him top of the Championship charts, level with Aleksandar Mitrovic who was stretched off yesterday.

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The BMW…

This was the stuff of dreams. And it could have been more. Watkins denied a stonewall penalty early doors as he was bundled over when clear through. Immediate talk in the stands and on social media was that this seemed an outrageous decision. It was something borne out by the Sky cameras and the crowd were quick to let the Braemar Road linesman know. “You should check your VCR” suggested one. Alex to our right was much more vocal. His observation thatYou know they’re slagging you off all over Sky  drawing huge laughs of appreciation. 

It was just about as exhilarating a half as one could have hoped for. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin sitting up in the director’s box, watching his team torn apart. They came back into it, slightly, in the second half with Nakhi Wells pulling one back but it was nothing more than a consolation. The visitor’s industrial approach endangering our players and angering the fans although not sufficiently to dampen the mood. The cheers at full time worthy of the occasion. The celebrations from the players matching those in the stands.

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Plenty to mull over at 3-0 down

Brentford were ruthless. QPR hopeless. It could, probably should, have been more. As one Braemar Road observer noted, “Imagine Peter if he had to announce Dasilva BMW”. Instead, we took our foot off the gas and coasted over the line. That said, the single most importune thing was getting the win. There’s not a single person amongst us who wouldn’t have taken three points and a 3-1 if offered up front. Winning the last ever West London derby at Griffin Park was an absolute must – and the boys more than met the challenge.

I’d imagine this will get a few plays…

Then, when the afternoon couldn’t get any better, it did. And how! Charlton managing not one but two equalisers as West Bromwich Albion were held at The Valley. Then Leeds United did what only Leeds United can. They fell apart. This time, Sheffield Wednesday their conquerors with two very late goals at Elland Road – their only two shots all game  – to leave the home side pointless. The gap to the top two continuing to shrink as the current form over the last 7(seven) league games  reads – West Brom : 1  Leeds United : 2   Brentford : 5.

That’s the exciting part. It all counts for nothing on the ‘automatic’ front should Leeds and West Brom both start winning again. That said, we’re now five points clear of seventh place ourself. There was a time not so long ago that just three points separated close to a dozen teams in and around that play-off zone. Now we’re starting to see some clear air. Now is the time to really push on.

The euphoria of beating our neighbours was about as exciting as it gets. Even official got in on the act with just about the best tweet they’ve ever shared…

On a personal note, H was the mascot and had a cracking afternoon. The club, as ever, pulling out all the stops for our young fans. It was just about the cherry on the cake of a wonderful day in and around Griffin Park.

There aren’t many of these to go – let’s make them all count.

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London Pride

Nick Bruzon

Thomas the frank engine aiming for full steam ahead against Hull.

17 Aug

It’s time for Brentford to exorcise the memory of the League Cup. With Hull City set to visit Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon, thoughts will be along the lines of last week at Middlesbrough or last season’s 5-1 thrashing of The Tigers rather than the midweek draw with Cambridge United. That one’s been and gone. Ground that has been covered and no real tears shed. Move along, nothing to see here. We can concentrate on the league etc etc. No bad thing given the tough run of fixtures now upon us with Leeds United away on Wednesday and then the trip to Charlton next weekend.

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Brentford were head and shoulders above Hull last season

First things first. Today. Like Brentford, Hull have picked up three points from their opening fixtures following a win (Reading) and a defeat (Swansea City). Two games in, the nascent state of the table makes it impossible to get a genuine fix on who is in with a chance of going up, who are dead certs for the drop and who is going to be the recipient of the annual Leeds United choke award. Presumably, Leeds United for that last one. So it really is a journey in to the unknown for Brentford and as much for Thomas Frank on his team selection.

He named an unchanged side to the one that somehow lost the season opener to Birmingham City for the subsequent trip to Middlesbrough. Whilst we may have ridden our luck early into that one, nobody who saw it could deny how we grew into the game. The wonderful way we took the lead with Sergi and Ollie combining magnificently for the goal (kudos to Emiliano Marcondes, too, for luring the entire Boro’ defence out of position) and then closed it out with some comfort. Thomas was purring like a kitten at full time and understandably so. 

That said, he now has more players with time under their belts. That being one positive to come from the performance against Cambridge United. And with a busy week to come (those trips to Leeds and Charlton await) could changes come? Thomas used his press conference to confirm that Ethan Pinnock was doubtful, Kamo and Norgaard need to be assessed whilst Said is getting closer and closer. How good will it be to have any combination of those players available for selection ?  

Talking about last season’s 5-1, he was quick to recognise the performance but not dwell on it. Instead, calling it a “New game. New history  although going on to add that , “so we never know what is going to happen but the aim for us is for us to dominate and play with intensity.  Positive sounding for sure, in an interview packed with talk of attacking intent and maintaining the performance for the entire game. You can see that one here….

Thomas, frank

Whilst the 5-1 may now be deemed history, the BBC match preview does give some very telling statistics. You can see the full piece here but the one that really grabbed me were the facts that the Bees have allowed our opponents just 15 touches in their box in their first two Championship matches. That’s six fewer than any other team. If any evidence was needed of the immediate impact being made by Pontus Jansson and the new look defence then here it is. I still maintain that picking him up from Leeds Untied was the Championship signing of the season.

The evidence to date has been quite telling. The skill, the passion, the heart on the sleeve, the armband being immediately awarded. His reaction on pitch after Birmingham and on social media after Middlesbrough tells you all you need to know about his attitude. Magnificent. Elland Road on Wednesday could be fun 🙂  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson has impressed.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. All that’s to come and there are more pressing matters at hand. If nothing else, the question of what kit the visitors will turn up in. Their magnificent Umbro home shirt with the return of the Tiger strip design ? Or the new third kit that was launched this week? Something the club describe as  a contemporary design in deep lagoon, accompanied by medieval blue shorts. Hats off to Umbro, as with the Bees they’ve designed some stunners this season. 

Nice though it is, here’s hoping that it’s the performance rather than the shirts we’re drooling over today. Wit the weather set fair and blue skies already over Griffin Park, the conditions should be perfect. I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Which will we get this afternoon? Home or third?

Nick Bruzon

One shot. One goal. No excuses. No sales.

4 Aug

Every good run comes to an end. Birmingham City enjoyed that rarest of experiences on Saturday afternoon, victory over Brentford, after coming away from Griffin Park with all three points for the first time since 2016. It was our first home defeat on the opening game of a season since 1992 – that, a 2-0 loss to Wolves which ushered in the start of the post Dean Holdsworth era and saw talismanic Terry Evans crocked for the vast majority of the campaign. It almost felt like that with Neal Maupay missing amid the stories linking him with Brighton, Aston Villa et al not going away. Yet there was plenty to be encouraged by  from what was, ultimately, a frustrating afternoon. One not helped by referee Gave Ward doing his very best to lose control of the game in the second half.

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Deano and Terry  – their last game together as Bees

With transfer speculation hanging heavy in the air, there was an audible gasp when the team was announced 59 minutes before kick off. Or was that just my asthma? No Neal Maupay in the 18. A bench where Josh Clarke was the most experienced of those named by Thomas Frank. Kamo and Benrahma both absent (although that had been expected, given fitness reasons as much as anything else).

Despite those missing, Ollie Watkins (whose name has been linked with Crystal Palace on the clickbait sites all week) did start and hit the ground running. As did my man of the match, Sergi Canos. With Pontus Jansson named as captain at the heart of a three man central defence the new look Brentford  team still had a solid feel to it. And it WAS new look, with only three of those who started the equivalent game last season, the 5-1 pasting of Rotherham, beginning this one. Sergi, Ollie and Henrik – for the record.  

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View from the Braemar – Captain Jansson impressed.

But with Peter Gilham getting the crowd going, his task aided by the presence of Harlee Dean (C) in the blue of Birmingham City, Thomas Frank’s boys wasted no time in pouring forward. Surely it was only a matter of time. Boom – the crossbar hit not once but twice in close succession as the goal threatend. A clutch of great saves from Lee Camp. Another onto the post. Shots fizzing just wide. A goal was coming….wasn’t it?

We’re in danger doing a Brentford here”, I quipped to one Braemar Road observer sitting alongside after the second shot onto the bar. That, from Marcondes who may be disappointed not to have found the net in retrospect.  Within 30 seconds Kristian Pedersen had headed the visitors into the lead. A quickly taken free kick where I’m not sure if Mr. Ward had even blown was met deep. Nobody picked up Pedersen’s short run and his precision header looped over and in from distance. One effort. One goal. One nil to the visitors. 

Much like Shakira’s hips, the stats don’t lie. At least, the one that says ‘goals scored’.  Despite that being they solitary time Birmingham threatened, and our own first half dominance which saw the game end on 76% possession to Brentford, the only piece of data that really counts is balls in the back of the net. And Birmingham City edged that. Somehow. Yet goals win games and, as such, one can’t try to deny them the points.

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Brentford 0 Birmingham City 1

Looking across social media and match reports, the ‘d’ word is being floated around by all manner of observers. Deserved, not Dean. Yes, we looked fantastic at times. Yes, we DID play well in the first half. Very.  But NO, we didn’t deserve to win because we couldn’t score a goal. We slowed down noticeably in the second half and looked laborious in the build up where the cut and thrust of the wide men and wing backs had diminished noticeably. No matter how leaden, physical and solid Birmingham City looked, they did manage to score and then succeeded in closing us out. On the plus side, I take heart from the clear and almost universal recognition of the way played for a significant chunk of this game.

I liked the look of Mathias Jensen in the centre of the park when he was able to push forward although Romaine and Kamo were clearly conspicuous by their absence. Josh Dasilva struggled whilst one free kick that he took from the heart of Saunders territory ended up in the heart of Tarkowski territory as it cleared the Ealing Road stand.

Romaine’s not coming back – we’ll just have to get over it – but Kamo’s presence around the ground did put a smile on the face at full time. As did a chance encounter with Sam Saunders who was as amiable as ever when discussing the game with an enthralled HB. Something all the more special given that the uttering of standard line: “And this is Saunders territory…” when the aforementioned free kick was awarded was met with the response “Daddy? What IS Saunders territory?” Where do you even start? Just not with the wife….

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Ian Moose was loitering. Amazingly, a look at his Twitter feed this morning shows there’s no criticism of Neal Maupay’s performance. Despite the player’s absence it is a mode that seems so hard-wired into the Talk Sport shock jock that I half expected to see some form of negativity towards Neal. Perhaps the pillars were in his way.

For now though, there’s nothing more to do beyond clenching the buttocks ahead of our trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.  We’ve another painful wait until the transfer window finally slams shut at 5pm on Thursday afternoon. Will Neal still be here or might Brighton make an offer we can’t refuse? Has Said’s absence made him invisible to big spending Aston Villa? Indeed, has Dean Smith run out of money after his latest acquisitions this week in Tom Heaton and Marvelous Nakamba ? Might the Griffin Park ‘in’ door swing further ? 

All or none of the above happening wouldn’t surprise me. The one thing to expect these days is the unexpected. Let’s not forget that despite all the rumours and whispers, nothing has actually happened as it stands. None of the names in the frame have left the club. All we can do is sit tight and wait to see who Thomas has available when the team sheet is handed in at the Riverside.

Enjoy.

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The look from Thomas says it all….

Nick Bruzon

Today? Tomorrow? This week? It must be time to go. Again.

16 Jul

So what comes next at Brentford ? Idle speculation? More ‘stories’ (please note: your definition may vary) linking us with Aston Villa, West Ham et al? Something else? Like actual football. With the team back at Griffin Park following the trip to Austria, next on the agenda is Saturday’s pre-season friendly at Wycombe Wanderers. More importantly, next on the agenda is Saturday’s pre-season friendly at Wycombe Wanderers where the smart(ish) money is being placed on the Bees running out in our brand, spanking new away kit. Who said “idle speculation” now? Yet with the visit of Birmingham City less than three weeks away, surely something has to give on the kit front shortly?

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Ok – this one really is a leap but with the season starting on August 3rd, time is running out. Logic / desperation (delete as applicable) dictates that the big reveal has to be imminent? Doesn’t it? Come on Umbro – not that I care, obviously, but purely just to complete the housekeeping exercise. We’ve got the family day coming shortly There’s also the game with Bournemouth on Saturday week. 7(seven) days later is the start of the season proper when what is left of the Birmingham City squad come to Griffin Park. 

The home kit has been well launched already and looks magnificent. It’s on sale in the club shop now and anybody popping in early to pick theirs up will have seen the huge stack of boxes labelled ‘away socks’. Sadly, no amount of typing the codes from the packaging labels into google throws up any clues as to whether Wiz Khalifa’s black and yellow really is the new brown and orange. As has been well speculated thanks to those Twitter clues from Kitman Bob. I’m still hoping we go with the Brown Bag option – just for the meltdown if nothing else.

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The new home shirt is already flying off the shelves at the Club Shop

It goes without saying that red and white will clash horrifically with the blue of Wycombe. For that reason alone I’m hoping we get to see the boys in the new shirts. Nobody want a clash or Sir Alex Fergie ‘Ferguson’ style excuses about shirt colours.   Nothing to do with desperation to finally see what has the unenviable task of replacing last season’s best ever away kit. However, if the Umbro produced shirts we’ve seen so far are anything to go by, then the second choice kit could be something special. 

Our home shirt is simple but stylish and screams’ 80s’. Honestly I think it is our best in years and cannot wait for pocket money day when I’m allowed to go and buy one at the end of the month.

The goalkeeper’s top, whilst burning the retinas, is actually a lot smarter and more subtle in the flesh than it is from those initial publicity shots. The club shop also has these on sale and, despite the failed efforts of all pictures to mute the glare. up close and personal it really is a toned down orange colour rather than anything from electric cherry red to fit-inducing tangerine.   

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Honestly – it’s not lurid up close

So this is the week when we finally get to see it. I think. I guess. I have no source close to the club. I have no inside knowledge. I’m just putting 2+2 together and looking at the limited time left on the calendar. When I’m wrong, come back and laugh. If I’m right, then let’s keep our fingers crossed. Let’s also run to the hills – something very scary will have happened for yours truly to get lucky.

Until then, you may want to kindly please download the annual Last Word season review for e-book for your kindle, iPod telephone or other electronic reading device. You you can do so, here, with the important bit being that all proceeds received from the £1.99 sale price go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

It’s shonky, there are typos in it (still) but what better way to while away your time on the commute to work, the toilet, holiday or just simply relive some of the exciting moments from last campaign as we wait for Bob to do his thing. And then prepare to see them blown out of the water in 2019/20.

Thank you.

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Nick Bruzon

New signing ‘in’ and a look back at High Street shopping after horror kit reveal.

3 Jul

Sound the ‘incoming’ transfer klaxon. Brentford have confirmed the signing of centre back Ethan Pinnock from Barnsley. The player joined on Tuesday afternoon for a fee that is being widely suggested by local news sources as close to £3m. Elsewhere, Stevenage have launched their home and away kits with their somewhat unusual selections being met with widespread derision. Aswell as a suggestion that they have adopted a motif first set by Brighton & Hove Albion. And in the Women’s World Cup, there’s been horror for England – of more than one variety.

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First up, Ethan Pinnock. The news was revealed yesterday via, amongst other announcements, a somewhat ‘low key’ video reveal. No puffs of smoke, crazy graphics, jingles, cringey hashtags or foreign getaways – just a slow pan across the training ground to a distant shot of our latest acquisition. This can only be a good thing. Both the player and the sensible use of social media. 

He certainly has pedigree and was one of the players of 2018/19 as Barnsley secured a return to the Championship. The club’s player of the year, he had a hand in keeping 21 clean sheets aswell as being named in the PFA team of the season. 

Thomas Frank praised his aerial ability and left foot whilst Director of football Phil Giles told official that, “ The centre back position is an area we clearly needed to strengthen this summer, since both Chris Mepham and Yoann Barbet have left the Club in the last six months without replacement. Ethan fits the bill perfectly and follows a long tradition of good players who have chosen to join Brentford from League One and League Two. We welcome him to the Club and wish him every success”.

This certainly reads like a positive signing which will strengthen a defence that is also missing a goalkeeper after Daniel Bentley joined Bristol City. Presumably more news to come on that front at some point in the near future. Then again, Brentford being Brentford I wouldn’t hold my breath for anything anymore. One thing we continue to do is surprise with our transfer policy – both in and out. The only consistent thing being that, by and large, it is one which has seen us keep on improving as seemingly irreplaceable players are replaced for a fraction of the price.

Anyway, you can read the full story here and f you want to follow Ethan on Twitter he is at @EasyEatss.

Next up, new kit. As Bees fans wait for the 2019/20 away shirt to launch (come on, brown), we’ve been able to turn our attention elsewhere as more and more clubs offer up their latest designs into the public eye. Stevenage were amongst those going yesterday and, it would be fair to say, that theirs has not been well received. As a quick glance to the ‘reveal’ on social media will testify .

My word. Amongst those comments to really hit home were :

“Worst kit in the clubs history”, 

“Worst kit in football history tbh’, 

“Home kit looks like that sheet they put on the Burger King trays”  

“This has to be a joke surely”.

”Burger King as a sponsor and it looks like someone’s thrown mustard and ketchup all over the away kit.”

Although my personal favourite was…

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That was, until, Darren Thompson did his thing and pretty much nailed it.

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If for no other reason than it immediately put me in mind of Brighton and Hove Albion and one of their most iconic shirts – the 1989-91 effort produced by Sports Express. Much like the Stevenage Kwik Save now does, this was one of the first to model itself on a High Street carrier bag – the infamous Tesco design. 

Brighton Tesco carrier bag shirt 1989-91

Must.Resist.Deliberate ‘Tesco bag / shirt (l-r)’ caption mix up

That said, Brighton and Norwich aren’t the only club to have taken inspiration from the shops. Back at the same time as the Seagulls were doing the Tesco thing, Norwich City were aiming a little bit more upmarket.

Their own Asics ‘away’ shirt one which very much put one in mind of a Waitrose delivery van whilst, of course, who could forget the (incorrect) B&Q  / Sainsburys references inspired by our beautiful brown and orange last season?

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Were the Norwich City club shop expanding their home delivery service?

All this does make me somewhat wary about what is going to happen whenever our own change option is revealed. There’s no way we can top 2019/20. Instead, it’s simply a case of crossing the fingers and waiting for Kitman Bob and Umbro to do their thing.

Last night also saw the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup. England went down 2-1 to the USA, in a game that was, frankly, ruined by two things. Frist up, as ever, ‘that band’. Despite the sell out in Lyon, they were still allowed in – as they’ve been in all games previously – to sour the atmosphere with their moribund and off-key parping. Why? Why? Why? How? Regular readers to these pages know the rant off by heart at this juncture, I’m sure. But wit apologies for laziness, I’m going to repeat one of several variants.

I’m not going to mince any words here. I loathe them. Absolutely loathe them. When the Mexican Wave or Robbie Williams singing ‘Let me Entertain You’ (which you can find on: Now that’s what I call Stadium music, also featuring: ‘We Are The Champions’) have the moral high ground in the low brow sporting tedium stakes then there’s something seriously wrong.  

Given the choice of being gaffer-taped to a chair and subjected to them or Mrs. Brown’s Boys, I honestly think I’d have to side with Brendan O’Carroll performing his toe-curlingly unfunny Irish mammy/man in a cardigan routine. But enough about my private life.

Nobody is celebrating this news

Seriously? Who actually likes them? Who goes to a game thinking that their experience is going to be enhanced by the alleged band of England’s alleged supporters? This self-appointed bunch of footballing cuckoos in the nest. These tedious purveyors of off-key tromboning, repeating those ‘greatest hits ad-nauseaum. I’ve written it before – many times – and will no doubt do so again in future.

What this match needs to liven it up right now is some flaccid parping and a whiny rendition of ‘The theme from the Great Escape’, ‘The Italian Job’ or the National Anthem” Said Nobody. Ever.

So I was already in a bad place by the time VAR killed any remaining atmosphere stone dead. Talk about sucking the emotion, the passion and the excitement out of the game. A series of prolonged second half decisions , both of which were marginal at best, eventually denied England a hair’s breadth equaliser and then granted a soft looking penalty. Both were inconclusive. Both took an eternity. Both were wrong. Both killed the game. England deserved at least the draw. This time around, they had the ball in the et that would have given them that prize. Instead, another step was taken towards the beautiful game being slowly suffocated. Stop it now. Please.

And finally, as ever, I’d be hugely grateful if you were able to please download a copy of the Last Word season season review – containing the least bad of these columns from the World Cup to Aston Villa deserving to win the play offs. It also includes the World Cup aswell as all the ‘Park Life’ articles submitted for the matchday programme and so not previously available on these pages.  

ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time on the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here.

At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99 – which then goes to The Community Sports Trust anyway. Many thanks again. And enjoy.  

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Are we going for gold? Black, yellow or brown? Kitman Bob drops huge clue in Twitter strip tease.

3 May

And then things started to happen. The EFL have named the date on which the game between Bolton and Brentford will be played. Supposedly. This Tuesday, the same evening that our B team host Manchester City and so there goes the chance to play the kids as had been widely touted. Elsewhere, social media proved king once more as Kitman Bob started answering fan questions about next season’s kit, dropping some pretty big clues in the process.

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Has Bob started pointing the way to 2019/20?

First up, Bolton. The game is supposedly going to happen this Tuesday in the deadzone between the season ending and the play-offs starting. It clashes with our own fixture at home to Manchester City B – always a big draw – whilst also means casual fans will now find themselves further torn as any hopes for a clear run to see Barcelona complete their Champions League rout against Liverpool now have some serious competition. Messi or Maupay ? Sergi or Suarez? I know, I know.

Except, of course, I still can’t see how the game will go ahead. The EFL ‘demanding’ it is one thing but even their own statement notes that, “The Board also discussed the potential of Bolton Wanderers being placed into Administration and took the view if that was to happen, the EFL would not insist the game be played.” They go on to add that “we would advise all supporters to wait until the details for the game are confirmed by the Club before making any travel arrangements”. Meanwhile Brentford official have also advised that they “Will continue to update fans on all issues surrounding this game as often as possible in the coming days.

So clear as mud, then. The game will take place this Tuesday (it is now Friday). Except the advice from the EFL is that it might not and supporters shouldn’t make any arrangements as yet. A situation more farcical given there’s no train home after the game finishes (unless you want to hang around until 1am for the bus to Manchester and the 5 o’clock service to London) . Virgin rail and hotels are expensive enough as it is, let alone when you have to book at a moment’s notice.

Would this even allow the club time to lay on supporters’ coaches?  Would health and safety / policing allow for a game to be set up at short notice? More so one which may not even happen. What about the players who should now be on well -earned breaks? There will be more to follow, no doubt, including what I still expect to be an award of three points to Brentford.

On to matters more appealing, Twitter was awash with talk of next season’s kit yesterday. Something further compounded by EFL Championship supporter of the year, 98 year old Audrey Baker, gifting our Junior Bees an embroidered gold scarf in her role as patron of the Junior membership schemes. It is a most generous and timely present, moreso given our own recent recognition as a gold standard family club. These are smart as and I’m seriously tempted to get the ‘Jimmmy Krankie’ costume from out of the special cupboard in order to try and blag one of the white and gold beauties on Sunday.

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What a gesture for our young fans

Yet as well as being a wonderful gift, it got fans wondering if this was a hint as to next season’s away colour scheme. Moreso when Kitman Bob started doing what he only he can do – going rogue on Twitter (in the nicest possible sense).

He had already told us that our 2019/20 effort would promise “New vibes and old skool” (although was that home, away or both?) whilst the release date could be imminent given, “I think there is an agreement to announce it a few days after the Preston game. “

Then Audrey did the scarf thing and that was it. Bob did what only he, Brentford and Matthew Benham can get away with – chucking out clues into cyberspace and even offering fans a choice of an easy, medium or hard one. Name me any other club or kitman that does this? I love it. Moreso, when the tease offered up to supporters seemed, at first glance, eminently gettable. Or should that be Eminemly gettable? :

Let’s start with a easy-clue then. Famous US Rapper had a massive hit with this.😁😁😁

Get in. I’ve solved this one already. Quite possibly. The clue in the scarf is there already. It has to be Kanye West – Gold Digger. Surely?

Or does it? Bob appeared to pour cold water on that speculation.  “White gold. Kitmans nightmare !  Gold is nice though 😀” . A double bluff or something that is being ruled out purely on cleanliness grounds?

Moving on, Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow – seemed the popular consensus. It makes sense for so many reasons and has always been popular. Who could forget the Bathroom shopfront  launch of our 2011-12 beauty whilst I’m still a sucker for the version worn on the road in our first Championship campaign after promotion.

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We’ve got good form here .

Then it hit me. People have missed the obvious one. Hidden in plain sight. We all love the Jaffa Cake kit. All of us. How about more of the same? It’s so obvious when you think about it. DJ Khaled – Brown paper Bag. YESSS!!!! Another season of the brown / orange or similar. It was a fact fact further, definitely compounded by Bob’s subsequent musing “Why has everyone gone for Wiz 🤔🤔🤔”   .

So there you have it. We’re going brown again. Definitely brown.  Not gold and white or black and yellow.

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Too obvious? Or will it be Wiz?

Yet there was more intrigue thrown out there with the other clue offered out by Bob. Namely that, “There maybe  more than one away kit …..” .

Three kits? Does this mean that, in the final season in our current home, Brentford could be going for something special from the historical locker? We did this before in 2004/05 with the away kit commemorating 100 years at Griffin Park. Perhaps something similar is in the offing? Once can only hope that is the case.

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Something historic this way comes?

Whilst we’re all making educated guesses, ultimately nobody knows for sure. The technical sponsor is still not public knowledge although the kit nerd in me is desperate for Umbro, would love the nostalgia of Hummel and can see the unique situation of personalised shirts that would come with New Balance and their NB logo . No doubt it’ll end up being somebody like Macron, whose latest Stoke City effort is about as safe as they come – with some very unusual collars….

The only way to know for sure will be when the club top brass allow Bob to get his kits out. Come on Mr. Benham. Please, put us out of our misery.

Nick Bruzon

Dream Team. Final Score. And the small matter of a London derby

19 Apr

Brentford travel to Millwall this lunchtime for a fixture that has everything to give. For the Lions, a mere two points separate them from the relegation places whilst the Bees will be looking to close in on another top ten finish. With Promotion chasing Leeds United due to visit on Monday, if that is an aspiration that Thomas Frank is serious about then three points today will be a must for the red and white (hopefully) machine. It will be a task made all the trickier with the news that Said Benrahama is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.  Devastating stuff for Bees’ fans but presumably (please….) nothing more than a precaution ahead of his, and our, final campaign at Griffin Park. Yet there’s as much to take out of today ‘off-pitch’ as well as on it, thanks to a surpise contender – West Ham United.

There’s not much can be said about Millwall that hasn’t been said before. Jellied eels. Cockles. The Den. ‘That’ walkout song which also doubles up as goal music – something which is already the most heinous of supporter inflicted tortures then made worse by that banjo filled gumph  . Violence. Racism. No-one likes us  etc etc etc . It’s fair to say that the club don’t have a great reputation, something made all the worse by playing in a breeze block stadium that visiting supporters are then kettled out of once the home fans have dissipated.

As such, you could perhaps be forgiven for giving this one a swerve today. Catching up via I-follow in the sunshine with a few cold ones and the barbecue cooking could be well up there on the list of more pleasurable options. Even better, catching up via BBC Radio London digital in the sunshine with a few cold ones and the barbecue cooking. There we have the pleasure of the dream-team of commentary – Phil Parry and Billy Reeves doing their thing from the seats above the Meridian Line. The programme starts at 12.30 ahead of the 13.00 kick off.

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Yet, as always, whatever the reasons not to go you can bet that we’ll be there en-masse. Easter bank holiday has that beautiful footballing double–header of the Lions and Leeds aswell as being one of the last chances to gorge on the beautiful game before the barren summer months. Besides, for yours truly Millwall has an additional reason for the annual pilgrimage. Dream Team. Not so much Billy and Phil but that much lamented Sky One thing.

I’ve spoken about it before on these pages and will no doubt do so many times again. But why wouldn’t you? It was magnificent. For all the wrong reasons. Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club Harchester United. Combining real life stadia  – Millwall’s ‘New’ Den played host to the exterior shots in later series – and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Bee’s boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee (and member of our ‘top ten moustaches‘ club), Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

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Dream Team – Fletch is sorely missed

The plots were riddled with more holes than our defence. Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Goalkeeper Jamie Parker holding his team mates at gun point in the changing room. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

It was truly awful yet compellingly addictive. Sadly, the show was axed in 2007 yet many loyal fans still campaign for a return . Indeed, with Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and a new stadium on the horizon in Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harchester? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ? If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

If nothing else, the 2018 film ‘Final Score’ shows the appetite for terrible football drama combined with stadium movies remains alive and kicking.  If you haven’t seen it as yet then please do. The Independent described it as “The most preposterous film of the year”. Things are bad when a movie doesn’t even go ‘straight to video’ but instead, ‘straight to sky movies’. Albeit, with a supposedly simultaneous big-screen release.

For those who may not be aware, season 2015/16 saw West Ham leave The Boleyn Ground (as the media insisted on calling a stadium they had only ever previously referred to as Upton Park) in a departure that was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. I think it got the odd mention on Sky Sports over the campaign but don’t quote me on that. The denouement of their protracted exit saw supporters thinking demolition work had started early as a series of explosions ripped through the old ground back in June 2016. Infact, this turned out to be the filming of something I had promptly forgotten about until the aforementioned tweet crossed my social media stream.

Oh, my. Preposterous doesn’t even begin to touch the sides on this one. When it was released, Mrs. Bruzon and myself took the first opportunity to watch this shocker about a terrorist hostage-taking at The Boleyn Ground. A name they must have mentioned about a dozen times in the first half hour, in case anybody was in any doubt. All this happens in secret (don’t ask) and whilst West Ham are taking part in a European Cup semi-final against Russian outfit Dynamo FC. Count the number of things wrong in that last sentence alone. All the while, the hostage takers are searching out Pierce Brosnan, whose East European accent was even dodgier than his beard, whilst Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy attempts to save both the day and the annoying daughter of a former army comrade whose death he feels responsible for.

This REALLY happened.

It was incredible. So truly bad it crossed to the other side and became unintentional comedy gold. Equal parts Nicolas Cage (if only he’d been available) and Sean Bean’s ‘When Saturday Comes’ with a decent dollop of Dream Team on top.

If it worked for West Ham and Pierce than how about resuscitating the corpse of Dream Team. Come on Sky. Come on TV Producers. Come on Andy. Oh, and come on Brentford. Great though it is to visit the home of Harchester united, six points from Millwall and Leeds United would make this a quite wonderful Easter weekend.

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Final Score – if Dream Team ever reached the big screen

Nick Bruzon