Tag Archives: Huddersfield Town

Time to make some history.

15 May

Welcome back / Crud, him again. Delete as applicable. We’ve needed a few weeks of ‘downtime’ on these pages for a multitude of reasons but that’s all finished. Been there, done it, bought the t-shirt. There’s been no room to talk about Brentford making a winning run to the end of the season. On Ivan Toney scooping the golden boot and breaking Glenn Murray’s Championship record with his 31st of the season at Ashton Gate. Indeed, no room to talk about the near coronary induced by the decision to keep him on the pitch when he picked up the yellow card in that final ‘regular’ game of the campaign prior to scoring. No place to talk about how the final four have played out for the play-offs. As we all know, Monday evening sees Bournemouth host Brentford followed by Swansea City visiting Barnsley. Perhaps most importantly, no real time to talk about the buzz of being allowed back into games from next week. The lucky supporters over the 3000 TAP point limit know they will be at Lionel Road next Saturday. Those entered into the ballot no doubt sweating on the results of that as much as the first leg.

Yet for everything that has gone on, the only real subject on anybody’s lips has to be the play-offs.  Positive though I have been about our promotion chances this season (spoiler alert: it’ll continue), there was perhaps a resigned inevitability about our chances of reeling in a Watford team recording win after win after win in the final few furlongs. Their own victory at Norwich City the point where deep down even the maths was too outlandish a leap of faith to make. Their 1-0 defeat of Millwall confirming a return to the Premier league. Now, Brentford are looking to join them with a tenth bite at the play-off cherry. A monkey on the back the size of King Kong. We all know the stats. We all know our record. Nine attempts. Four finals. Nine defeats. The whole process starting with Tranmere Rovers back in the early 90s and coming all the way up to Fulham last time out. An extra time defeat as much a triumph for brutality as it was football. In between we’ve had Huddersfield Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea City and Middlesbrough in the semis along with final game slip ups against Crewe, Yeovil Town and Stoke City in Cardiff. That one followed up by the worst train journey ever. Apologies again to all impacted. Only Preston North End had experienced more attempts than us without success, albeit even they have finally done it. Ten play-offs ; one win. Can we do the same?

The play-offs. We all know what happened the previous nine times…..

The short answers is a categoric YES. For me, Clive, I’m convinced this is finally our turn. Dark horse for second place in ‘player of the season’ Sergi Canos popping up to get the winner at Wembley. Hey, one can dream. The simple fact of the matter is that despite the plethora of injuries we’ve readjusted our formation and hit our groove once more. Brentford are keeping clean sheets at one end and scoring goals at the other. Of course, we’d love Rico, Josh and Henrik back (and who knows what unlikely cameos may be made at some point? ) but the team have rediscovered themselves. Sergi at wing back, Tariqe in flames and Christian Norgaard alongside the centre backs a formation rejig that has seen the Bees back to winning ways. The other three teams doing their level best to trip over themselves in a bid to discover the most anti-form in the final lengths. 

Of course, football isn’t that simple. No matter how well one team is playing versus the other three, everyone has had a chance to reset and pick themselves up once more. All four teams go into this fresh and it comes down to one thing only – who holds their nerve? Swansea, Barnsley , Bournemouth or Brentford? Obviously we’re going to talk up the Bees where, perhaps, we can draw some historical parallels. Blow the dust off the previous column (during the war, Grandad) and it spoke about how we fell into the play-offs after being presented with a golden chance after Huddersfield beat West Brom in game 45. Oh, the pain of tripping up against Stoke and then home to Barnsley was indescribable. Of watching our ‘automatic’ chances slide away. An inexorable torture session viewed from behind the sofa with fingers over eyes. Played out in empty stadia as our hopes of hitting the Premier League were replaced with a ninth attempt at the play-offs. We all know what happened.

Yet, longer term, might this have done us a favour? Perhaps. Like ‘that penalty’ against Doncaster  (a pain only matched by the play-off penalty defeat to Huddersfield the season we came second when there was only one automatic slot), we bounced back in a style that had to be seen to be believed. Marcello Trotta and the team taking that pain, scrunching it up into a little ball and booting it into the net. The victory at Leyton Orient perhaps the most ballsy thing I have witnessed a football team ever do. Too right we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Partridgesque levels of bouncing back following the most indescribable anguish.

This time around, rather than watching our team play in the Premier league with out us present, we’ve had to hit pause. We’ve reached the semi-finals of the League Cup. We’ve had that huge unbeaten run mid-season. We’ve discovered the most coveted goal-scorer in English football in Ivan Toney. If ever there was a shoe in for ‘player of the season’ it is him. The only real battle there as to who comes second? The fairytale ending is all lined up. A first season in the Premier League, to be played out in front of supporters, the prize at stake. Not to mention a few quid. If nothing else, a chance to avoid the most undesirable play-off record.

Who do you want in the play-offs?”. That, the most common question that has come in this direction in recent weeks. Honesty, I don’t care. Four tough teams. Four teams after the same thing. Only one can make it through. This comes down to nothing more than bottle. The fans will, of course, bring an additional aspect that wasn’t there last time out. And a good thing too. We all know how awful football in empty stadia has been. The echoy thud of the ball and the shouts from the touchline the only sounds to punctuate the players calling out to each other. Urghh, it has been grim. All being well, it is now over. Being part of the crowd against Blackburn  earlier in the season, the clamour of 2,000 fans was the most incredible noise. The sweetest of sounds. We’ll have double the amount in this time around. All four stands populated. If not heaving, certainly more present to lift the players further. Peter Gilham finally having a crowd to play up to. The players being roared on. 

Oh, I can’t wait for the play-offs. Not a typo. As much as anything else the chance to see a game of football. To enter this game of Russian roulette feeling positive is the most alien of feelings. Yet, perhaps, the depressing familiarity of what we do at this stage will finally work in our favour. There is no pressure. At least, not in our house. I’ve had the somewhat dubious pleasure of experiencing all nine of our previous attempts and have been finally numbed against the feeling of what comes next. We’ve nothing to lose because we only lose. The team can play with freedom. Without the albatross around the neck. The script is written. All we need to do is turn up and deliver.

All we need to do…… If only football were that simple.

Bring it on. Seen you next Saturday. In person.

Nick Bruzon   

This is one we really must win.

6 Apr

Eight games to go. Brentford host Birmingham City on Tuesday evening following the draw with Huddersfield at the weekend. A game we go into with the knowledge that, finally, the results around us have been favourable. Yesterday saw Watford held at Middlesbrough after leading for a large chunk of that one and Swansea City losing their fourth on the bounce. The Bees in third place. Ten points behind the Hornets but with two games in hand. The first of which takes place at 7.00pm this evening. A game where victory has to be at the top of our priorities if there is to be any hope of overhauling the team(s) in ‘automatic’. If not a mathematical ‘must win’ then psychologically, very much the time to return to winning ways. Over reliance on favours not a strong card for any head coach to play too often. All good in theory. The problem being Lee Bowyer and his Blues are very much in a battle of their own at the wrong end of the table and aren’t just going to hand over the points.

All to play for still – not just for the top two

The plus point being the Bees are unbeaten since the 1-0 at Norwich City a month ago. All well and good but let’s not pretend the last three games have been anything but frustrating. Starting off at 100mph against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County but falling over the line to a 2-2 draw. See also: Nottingham Forest where chances aplenty were created but only one converted. The inevitable happened. Then Saturday saw us peg it back against Huddersfield Town for another draw. True, the point saw us clear Swansea City but Watford are the ones that, at present, we all have to catch up with. Indeed, the nature of the opening goal at the weekend a horror show to match anything Mrs. Browns Boys have inflicted on us over the years. 

The net result of all this meaning that, really, only victory will be good enough this evening. Certainly if we have genuine aspirations to recapture that place in the top two we held for a tantalising moment. True, Watford have a tough run but they also have more than enough ability to win them. To beat opponents before they have even walked out of the tunnel. For Brentford, the free-scoring fun seems to have gone awol. The team predictable and , perhaps, weighed down by both expectation and the pressure of last season. If ever there was a time to put the shooting boots back on and bolster the defence it is now. To pray Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva are back soon. The lack of any talk about either player suggests that won’t be anytime in the next five minutes. Perhaps, though, Thomas is playing his cards close to his chest.

Regardless, we still should have enough in this team to win tonight. Ivan Toney knows thew way to goal. Norgaard is back. Fosu and Marcondes must be chomping at the bit to begin this one from the off. Can Thomas inspire his troops? Make the pieces of this most enigmatic jigsaw fit together?

I don’t buy into any of this “We should have strengthened the squad in January” nonsense, btw. How do you predict injuries? How do you pay for it? How do you keep the squad happy? Which players would you have actually brought in? Moreso, at a time when we were on fire and storming it? Genuine question. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but let’s not forget, either, we’re more than holding our own against teams that have parachuted down from the Premier League and been able to maintain their structure. Likewise, that a season lasts for 46 games. Swansea City currently proving that no team can win every game. Hitting a wobble that’s actually worse than the one we did in that unholy trinity of games that reached a brutal denouement at St. Andrews against Coventry City.

Here’s the thing. Laugh and sneer all you want. This isn’t misguided optimism but genuine belief. I’ve been saying it all season and I still stand by the fact of my own personal feeling being Brentford will go up. Even now when, at face value, the table is less than favourable to us with Norwich and Watford in the box seats.  That doesn’t mean we can just continue to try and dial in performances. Saturday was a prime example of what happens when you do that. Yet with our rivals having a tough streak coming up and our own ability to turn it on should we get the on-pitch part right, this is still all to play for. It really needs to start tonight though. Two games in hand are more than handy but they need to be turned in to points. Both are at home to teams playing for their lives (see also: Rotherham in game 45).

This won’t be easy, of course. Birmingham City have got quality in that squad. I’ve seen teams finish fifth in this league and miss out on promotion by play offs. Their squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right……

This could be huge. This might even be fun. It should be. What’s the point, otherwise? Kick off is at 7.00pm whilst before that you’ve got a ‘live’ edition of ‘The Warm Up’ . Stuart Wakeford, Marcus Gayle, Karleigh Osborne and special guest Natalie Sawyer will be hosting the show from Lionel Road at 6pm. You can catch that on YouTube with full details on ‘official’, here.. 

Until then, have a great day. See you there (metaphorically speaking). It’ll be another one on the sofa for us. All being well with a lot of cheering……

Nick Bruzon

Anything but a top draw afternoon.

4 Apr

Another point for Brentford. The draw at Huddersfield Town marking a mixed bag of results from the opening round of the Easter Championship fixtures. With Swansea City making it three defeats in a row at the hands of Birmingham City but Watford winning, again, the gap from the Bees in third to the second placed Hornets is now nine points. True, we still have that extra fixture and a visit from the Vicarage Road club to come but, for now, points in the bag are very much better than games in hand. For now… Who knows how things will or could change over the next few games?

We can only start with events at Huddersfield Town. A game which finished 1-1 after a first half in which we were frustrated by tenacious opponents and referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle clearly set to ‘random’. Our case not helped by a shambolic opening goal conceded via a bit of defensive playmaking as haphazard and frustrating as the ‘officiating’ in the opening period. Raya playing out to Roerslev rather than booting it. The young Dane seemed to lose his footing before giving it away. Norgaard shoved before losing it and then Raya caught flat-footed after man of the match Lewis O’Brien reacted quickest. Just 7(seven) minutes gone and a goal down. Mere words can’t describe how awful it looked from start to finish. Dig out the video if you can do it to yourself. Anyone giving up the booze for Lent would have been forgiven for cracking at that point.

Help very much needed to get through the opening to the game

It was a goal all the more frustrating given Langford had adjudged Sergi Canos to have ‘fouled’ Demeaco Duhaney when running clean through on our hosts just moments earlier. Wonderful though he is, you’ve more chance of the Easter bunny displaying that level of dirty play. The Spanish playmaker one who very much embraces the positive side of attack, preferring to do it with the ball rather than his elbows. A player who trusts the referee to do his job. Sadly, the man in the middle failed spectacularly. See also the clear handball by Naby Sarr with Ivan Toney bursting clear or our man being bundled over yet adjudged to have conceded the foul. 

Let’s be clear, you still need to make your own chances but against opponents facing their own battle at the other end of the table, nothing is going to be handed over on a plate. The referee still needs to do his job and my word, Mr. Langford failed spectacularly in the first half. It was an opening period that actually had me yearning for the card waving discipline of Keith Stroud.

Our own cause not helped by Ghoddos and Mbeumo joining Dalsgaard in missing the game. At least the later had the excuse of being injured so not making it onto the pitch. Marcondes and Fosu amongst those given their chance far too late. Even Marcus Forss coming on for his 80th minute ‘subs by numbers’ appearance was as predictable as it was reactive. I’m no manager but the lack of impact and spurned opportunities in the opening period should have been a clarion call to action at half time rather than waiting until the usual 60-70 minute ‘Warburton zone’ to start proceedings.

Mr. Langford’s first half performance left a lot to be desired

Then again, we came out for the second period with a rocket having been delivered. Mads Bech Sørensen stabbing home the equaliser with just five minutes gone. Ivan Toney then hitting the inside of the post moments later. Surely, now, the pressure would build and the screw be turned? Surely? Alas not. Whilst Brentford had the lion’s share of the ball and possession, inability to carve out any further clear opening saw the game meander to an inevitable finish. Actual goals, rather than expected ones or retention stats, being what wins games. Huddersfield Town proving as resolute hosts as when they scuppered West Brom in game 45 last season. We weren’t complaining about their approach then. Perhaps it is something we might have done well to  remember.

Disappointed? Well, yes. Nobody has a divine right to win but Brentford just feel very samey at the moment. Our free flowing play and attacking intent parked in the sickbay with Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva. Games we might have won earlier in the season now turning into draws. Blame the ref. Blame lost chances (see: Nottingham Forest). Blame late wobbles (Derby County). Either way, the top two places would be infinitely nearer had we been able to close out any of the last three games. On the plus side, the meltdown ushered in by the FrankOut brigade after the Coventry debacle hasn’t seen Swansea City win their three games in hand to stride clear by the eight points predicted. Instead, we’re now ahead of the Swans whose current form reads LLL. Yet, like Barnsley, nobody has really kept tabs on Watford and they are the ones who have kept on churning out result after result after result.

What next? Watford travel to a Middlesbrough team who still have play-off aspirations. That, before another promotion hunting team in Reading, the derby with Luton and then Norwich away. Come out of those in any semblance of good form, off the back of an already mammoth run, and they deserve everything that comes their way. For Brentford, a visit from Birmingham City to set the pulse racing. Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Scott Hogan plus  Jon ‘and Toral must score’ amongst those likely to feature on Tuesday.

And Toral must score….

‘Automatic’ is still well possible but it is going to take a huge effort. Not just from those lining up against our rivals but from Brentford themselves. On and off the pitch. My word, if ever there was a time to return to winning ways then this it is upon us. Even Thomas seemed subdued after yesterday’s game, noting that “I would assess it as a decent performance. Not a top performance.

Here’s hoping for a return to winning ways and the chance to hear ‘Daydream Believer’ at full time. Oh, to be there on Tuesday.

Nick Bruzon

Mmm. Booom. Oh, what a win.

20 Sep

And with that Brentford have the first points on the board, the first league win at Lionel Road and remain unbeaten at our new home. Huddersfield Town the latest to be put to the sword. In a week that saw us win 2-0 at Southampton in the energy drink League Cup, the Bees followed it up with a 3-0 Championship defeat of the Terriers. With David Raya now recovered, although missing out to Luke Daniels, it was a victory that was left late although on the balance of chances created one that always felt as though it was coming. The first half in particular saw Ivan Toney come very close on a number of occasions. Whilst the goal didn’t come this time, the link up play and positional awareness is already sparking hope that when it does, the floodgates will open.

‘Official’ shared this one at full time on Twitter

Brentford looked comfortable throughout. The odd moment of danger aside, Huddersfield weren’t at the races. We should have gone in ahead although were happy to stay level in terms of playing staff. Christian Nørgaard very much sitting in the last chance saloon after a yellow and a very stern talking to for a subsequent challenge.

The goals were brilliant. All three of them. Thomas Frank would talk about his BMW losing two wheels but he has replaced it with a sheet of MDF. Mbeumo, Dasilva and Forss providing the building blocks on which the points were earned. 

JoshDasilva, got the first, just inside the hour. A shot from the edge of the box (does he do anything else) beating Ben Hamer after great work from Uncle Justins’ favourite player, Rico Henry, down the left. The man of the match had a quite wonderful afternoon (Josh, not Justin) and he set the Bees on their way.

The second and third were left late. Marcus Forss finishing off a great move involving Mbeumo, Batpiste and Nørgaard  at various points to double the lead with a cool finish. Or should that be cool Finnish? It was due reward for the man who set League One alight on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season as well as having already impressed in the red and white. What another great option to have available for Thomas Frank and what a way to keep Ivan on his toes.

The icing on the cake was Mbeumo doing what he does best . Curling one in to the top corner from distance. ‘Official’ have it down as 16 yards. It felt more. It looked amazing. It rounded off a wonderful afternoon. Brentford back to wining ways and moving up the nascent table. We could have beaten Birmingham. With had the opportunities created gone in. This time around, there was no mistake. The Bees never really under pressure. 

Indeed, the biggest danger was probably more to the laptop screen than the Brentford  defence. Specifically, in attempting to run the gauntlet of the log in process for i-follow. A task made infinitely harder by the fact that despite being given vouchers to watch the game, they could only be redeemed by also adding your credit card detail and then paying £0.00. Twenty minutes to work that out. Twenty. Blinkin’ . Minutes. It’s obvious, when you think about it. Credit card details are required to redeem a free token. Why didn’t it say it anywhere!!! Seems I wasn’t alone, either, although the issue eventually resolved through whatsapp and Twitter trouble showing. 

The other thing really starting to irk was the “Isn’t Lionel Road amazing” brigade on social media. Yes. We know. It looks fantastic. We have eyes. The constant reminders and photos from everyone lucky enough to be there – whether in an official or journalistic capacity (and there are some spurious feeling ones) are now at the point of being OTT, unnecessary and unwelcome. Reign it in a bit, please. Everyone. 

The fans are desperate to get in. We all know why we can’t. We’re all being tremendously accepting of the bigger picture situation. We gave up our money last season. We’ll likely do the same this time around. There’s no need to continue what comes across as, being honest, gloating. I’m sure its not deliberate  – and listening to Cliff Crown with Mark Burridge at half time we know the club want the fans back  – but the constant photos and reminders only serve to heighten the fact that we are all missing out.

That said, the interview with our Chairman did produce an unintentional (I hope) gem from our commentator par-excellence. His observation that, ”Having to sanitise the mic after Cliff Crown has touched it” something that at any other time would probably have earned hi his marching orders.

Nobody means anything malicious, I am sure. I’d love to be back watching live football. I’m not. I want to be there with my fellow supporters. Perhaps I’m being over sensitive but, equally, perhaps a bit of added awareness wouldn’t go amiss either. Fair play to Marcus Bean, filling the pundit roles on I-follow, for acknowledging this golden ticket he’d won and stating it so eloquently.    

All that will come, I am sure. For now let’s enjoy the team we have and the result. West Bromwich Albion await in the third round of the league cup on Tuesday night and then we’ve got the trip to Millwall. Or, rather, our press corps do. Enjoy that one. Be just our luck we get the win with no fans there. I’d take that !!! 

We’ll be missing the traditional Millwall welcome next week

Nick Bruzon

Waiting for (err) Raya as old friends return.

18 Sep

The game with Huddersfield Town may be upon us but for now Brentford supporters seem more concerned with transfer talk. There’s the move, or non-move as now looks likely, of David Raya to Arsenal along with the incoming conjecture surrounding Saman Ghoddos. Plus we’ve the return of an old favourite from last season – Stu Wakeford and Marcus Gayle are back with ‘The Run In’ (as was). The show, affectionately nicknamed ‘Soccer PM’ makes a return on Friday evening and the team are looking for your help. Meanwhile, over in Gibraltar a win for Glasgow Rangers has us asking questions about football folklore.

They’re back tonight

First up, David Raya. Go back to sleep Arsenal fans, its not happening. Despite the stress and angst felt in this corner of the world by many (although if that was bad then just wait until the Benrahma / Crystal Palace stories start up again…) our man is going nowhere. It is a drum that the GPG in particular have been long banging and now the press would seem to have caught up. Several publications (established rather than those ‘the three players this club must sign’ type clickbait mongers) are now reporting that we have turned down a significant bid – £10m is the figure quoted – even though this also had a season long loan back option included. Apparently.

What a statement if so. This club won’t be pushed around. Players will only be sold if Brentford want it to happen. Arsenal will have to wait. Or come back to the table with a nuclear sized bid although the same sources now say that their attention is focussed elsewhere. Hurrah. Of course, what this means for the Lionel Road goalkeeping position remains to be seen. Luke Daniels has worn the gloves so far this campaign and I can only imagine him doing so again when Huddersfield Town come to visit. He’s waited a long time for his chance and won’t be happy to give it up.

That’s the view looking in. Of course, we don’t actually know what’s going on behind the scenes. Paper talk is one thing and Raya could be genuinely injured. Hey, you never know. The wantaway talk nothing but bull smoked up by agents and a rival club to strip up intrigue and unsettling speculation. Hey, one can fantasise.

David Raya is a Bee.

Next up, Saman Ghoddos. We’ve not talked about the attacker’s proposed move on these pages yet. Mainly because the saga seems to have dragged on longer than a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys and has been as equally painful. That’s as much down to the same ‘joke’ (and I use that word with the same caution offered at a studio recording of Mrs. Brow… ) being used by the entire internet. Yes, I get it. His surname is Ghoddos. We’re still waiting for news on him signing.  If only there was an original way to connect the two that, seemingly, nobody else has thought of. Waiting f… No. Can’t do it. Won’t do it.

Instead, I’ll offer up a couple more shared last night . “Where Is Your Ghoddos now” was nice. There was also “Does your Ghoddos exist?” . If it all turns out to be idle speculation then we can just go for “The Ghoddos Delusion”

Next up, ‘The Run In’ is back. The surprise hit of the summer, put together to build up the big game atmosphere as lockdown bit,  was a video show hosted by the aforementioned Wakeford and Gayle. The former of Soccer AM duties (but don’t let that stop you watching) and the legend that is Marcus. A club hero on and off the pitch. A club ambassador and , like Sam Saunders, one of those with his own special song. We still know it.

The great news is that the first show of series 2 is up this evening. It hits YouTube at 6pm and is very much a ‘must see’ for anyone needing their fix of all things Brentford. The one fly in the ointment being the title. The run in to 2019/20 has been and gone. We’ve a new season and, as such, something more appropriate is needed. This is where your help is needed. A tweet went up last night calling on fans to come up with a title. Personally, I’ve gone for Countdown to Kick-Off (Soccer PM felt as obvious as the Ghoddos affair) but there must be better out there. Surely?

Anyway, if you want to win a new shirt reply to the below Tweet. But do it fast.

Finally, Gibraltar. Lincoln Red Imps, who so famously beat Celtic 1-0 in a Champions League qualifier a few season back, were thumped 5-0 by Rangers last night in the Europa League. Fair enough. It happens. The regular reader will know of my family connection and fascination with all things based around the GFA. 

However, the score is mentioned as much to question the rules of a football trashing. This, being how Absolute Radio reported the game in their breakfast show news today. 

Much like the wellness scale of shot methods (at 110%, if anything he hit it too well) what determines when the word ‘trashing’ can be used? Is it 4, 5 or more goals? Does that need to be clear (So 5-3 isn’t a trashing)? Do you get bonus points for playing away? Should the perceived quality of the opposition ever be factored in (so Liverpool winning 4-0 away to teams like Brentford or Arsenal is, perhaps, more well played than an actual ‘thrashing’)?

If anyone knows, then please send in your answers on a postcard, marked ‘thrashing’. Please note that your entries cannot be returned. Until then, we’ll stick with the only two really established rules. Brackets after a 7(seven) – 0 should always, only ever be lower case and then there’s that quite magnificent scale of shot quality.

If anything he hit it too well

Nick Bruzon 

A fine win. For Brentford.

17 Sep

Get in! We’re through to the next round of the league cup. Brentford warmed up for Saturday’s game at home to Huddersfield Town with a 2-0 win at Southampton. A much changed Bees lines up, which could only name five substitutes due a positive Corona Virus test in the B-team, ran out against a virtual full strength Saints outfit and will now travel to West Bromwich Albion for round three. That, a game where victory will see us equal our furthest run in this competition. Elsewhere, Bees United were getting excited about Midgetland’s performance in the Champions League. Priorities and all that.

What are the main talking points from this one ? Well, given the lack of TV coverage or attendance (thanks a bunch, Corona) watching the game was a no-no. Instead, we had our friends at radio and the brief smattering of YouTube highlights (which are now online) to keep us entertained. That, and Sky Sports news on mute. Besides, we don’t really do full-fat match reports on these pages ( a mantra as well worn as “and if you’d like to read more”, which you can do here, with all money received from the season review e-book going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust).

The first, a powerful header from Christian Norgaard, late on in the first half. The Danish midfielder left unattended by the Southampton defence and ghosting in to make the perfect connection. The ball, cushioned by that luxuriant bouff, pinging off his head with the sweetest of contacts as home ‘keeper Alex McCarthy stayed rooted to his line. A delightful finish and one which saw the newly capped international on the Brentford scoresheet for the first time in his career.

Minutes later, it was 2-0. Josh Dasilva with a trademark goal from distance. His shot from the edge of the box was low and hard, finding the back of the net from just inside the left post. It was a fitting end to what sounded an action packed first half. Certainly one backed up by that meagre video selection which offered up nothing more than a Luke Daniels save in the second period.

2-0. Game over. West Bromwich Albion and a reunion with Romaine Sawyers await. The chance for another Premier League scalp. Brentford still the David team rather than divisional stablemates. I forget exactly what happened there. Oh well. We’ll make it this time, I’m sure. Just look at he reaction to the season of Doncaster and ‘that’ penalty (and if you’d like to read more… )

Josh shared this one at full-time. The joy apparent

The other huge take away from this one was the Southampton kit. My word, that’s gorgeous. I hate to go all shirt nerd (again) but the deep red with white sash combo was a thing of beauty. Proof that stepping away from your traditional stripes to pay homage to history can work. If Kitman Bob has plans for a ‘third’ shirt this season then we could do well worse than go down this route.

Sartorial and footballing magnificence

On Twitter, we had a reminder of Matthew Benham’s ‘other’ team over in Denmark. Bees United posting news of their European triumph. The obvious question being why? Who cares? I mean, good luck to them and all that but I have no more allegiance to them than I do to West Ham. For example. Imagine supporting Brentford and them?

I’m glad our owner’s Danish side aren’t in any apparent trouble but that’s about as far as it goes. We don’t support two teams. We don’t wear half and half scarves. There are more important things to focus attention on. When it comes to FCM I take a leaf from the book of Simpsons bartender Moe Syzlak, “I’m a well wisher, in that I don’t wish you any specific harm”.

Syzlak – well-wisher. Of sorts.

That said, if the long awaited ‘Benham derby’ was to ever take place then you could be sure Lionel Road will be full for that one. If only to prove a point.

Assuming fans are ever allowed in. Thanks bunch, Corona.

For now, though, it’s a case of job done. Very well. Brentford are into the third round of the League Cup. Why the tournament is even taking place in what is already an over-crowded fixture list thanks to the extension of last season is another question. Personally, I’d have canned it. The easy way to put a dead duck of a tournament out of it’s misery. A footballing ‘last of the summer wine’ – hanging around for years and years with the big players rapidly losing interest. But, it IS still here and any win is a win. Any chance to progress towards the W place one which we’ll be looking to grasp.

Hopefully the B team will be out of isolation shortly and able to help us in that cause. Take care. Be safe. And bring on Huddersfield Town.

Nick Bruzon

Don’t @ me. This isn’t even close to 94-95.

19 Jul

Where do you even start? It could have been dreamland for Brentford but instead we have to fight on. The dream of promotion from the Championship still well alive but one which is now reliant on either West Bromwich Albion dropping more points on Wednesday or us going through the play-offs. In a high pressure game at Stoke City the combination of brutal opposition, terrible refereeing from Geoff Eltringham and hosts set up so intent on smothering us that penetration was nigh on impossible all saw us slip to 1-0 defeat. The usual attacking flair booted out of us by a team boasting more kickers than a French exchange student. If Friday’s win for Huddersfield Town had felt like some cathartic relief from the 25 year pain that has gnawed away since the 94-94 play-off semi-final ( a moment for me which was way worse than ‘that’ penalty) yesterday brought the heartache of the 2002 play-off in Cardiff flooding back.

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You see, they’re also a brand of footwear popular with…

We’ve all seen it. There’s no point in going through even the briefest summary of the highlights beyond saying that our hosts had clearly done their homework. Brentford tried but had no way past. Eltringham and his team missing two blatant penalties (the second especially). Ethan Pinnock coming oh-so close at the death.

Much like the Doncaster game, going through the carcass of this one won’t change a thing. Pawing over the dead duck that was Crewe or Yeovil at Wembley doesn’t help. Nor does whining about the players, the team or their apparent ‘bottling’ it on social media. 

Sure, we’re all hurting. I am, and as much because I’ve followed this team through devastation and lowpoints since the back end of the 70s. My son, too. He only knows  Brentford set to ‘amazing’ mode and was in tears as this one reached a heart breaking conclusion.

Heart breaking as much because of the most incredible way this team have come together over the last few months. The team spirit and desire shown as they’ve caught up with our rivals through nothing more than guts, determination and win after win after win. Eight in a row, to be precise. The excitement and happiness they’ve engendered in a fanbase doing their best, and usually struggling, to get through the awfulness of lockdown. They’ve kept many of us going in a way more incredible than they  probably realise.

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For half an hour, the dream was on…

There’s been some nonsense spouted on social media about their apparent bottling it yesterday. Justified in the guise of: Oh, I’m hurting – I can say what I want. Now shut up and f*ck off.

Yes. We’re ALL hurting. Aghast to have missed out. It was the most amazing opportunity and, you know what, this time it wasn’t able to be taken. Couldn’t be taken. But to even get into that position is an incredible achievement.

To still be well alive with two more bites at the cherry is not to be sneered at or overlooked. 

Of course people are gutted. They have every right to be – it’s the natural emotion at a time like this. Our entire fanbase should be. I am. Beyond belief. But as much because I know how close we’ve come and how hard we’ve worked to even get into that position.

It was always going to be fragile opportunity, given how far off the pack we’d been when this amazing run started. Moreso, when in a game of few chances and bus parking opposition, we needed the help and protection of the officials. Not their failing an eyetest. Now, destiny is out of our hands as quickly as it had got there.

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You can’t blame Stoke for setting up as they needed to

This one feels different though. The season is still alive. We’ve not been relegated or lost a final. We’re still in with a huge chance to get promoted.

If not directly (and I’d hate to picture the scene in the Gilham household this morning, knowing that we are in the hands of West Bromwich Albion not winning when the Loftus Road mob visit on Wednesday) then via the play-offs. In all likelihood, needing to get past Cardiff City or Fulham in the final. Football. A cruel mistress.

For me, there has been no lower point than standing in the paddock, watching the celebrations amongst the Huddersfield Town players and staff back in ’95. I remember it still. Numb. Devastated. Shell-shocked. A glazed feeling washing over me. Not able to move but just stare out across Griffin Park and into space. Something made even worse by our actually coming second that season and the reason, in part, of my loathing Birmingham City so much.

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

Yesterday wasn’t that. It wasn’t even ‘that penalty’ levels of awfulness. It was brutal. Devastating. But it’s not the time to be slagging off the players and the team for not winning a game. If that’s your thing and way of coping then fair enough – I can’t argue with that mindset but would also ask this…..

Would you have the balls to say it to their face? To tell Thomas Frank or any of the players that you thought they bottled it. Bottled it. Were a team of bottlers. To actually say those words ? In person?  Hmm. It’s not so easy being a keyboard warrior for real.

That’s me done. @ me all you want. I don’t really care. From this point on I’m only focussing on the game with Barnsley. The thought that, as it stands, we are a possible 90 minutes away from the Premier League. I just wish I could be there on Wednesday night to join in.

As the returning Sergi Canos ( itself, a cause for celebration) noted last night: “Disappointing result but there’s no time to think about it. We are an amazing club as a whole on and off the pitch and we are going to keep fighting until the end. 

THIS IS NOT OVER YET.

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Sergi and his fighting spirit are back

Nick Bruzon

  

Thank you Huddersfield. What happens now after a fantastic Friday?

18 Jul

Oh my word. Feeling ok this morning Brentford fans? Did you sleep? How are the heads? Today could be immense. The door IS now open. The game at Stoke City no longer one about keeping pace with West Bromwich Albion but, all of a sudden, we’ve been handed the chance to overtake them. Their defeat at Huddersfield Town last night offering up the chance for us to join Leeds United in the Premier league. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe the post match celebrations last night. Caution and potential the feeling this morning.

Huddersfield Town were immense. Their 2-1 victory earned in the most high pressure of situations. An early lead only adding to the pressure being felt in TW8 as it looked like 86 minutes of backs to the wall defence would follow. The stress levels already through the roof bwhen the Baggies equalised just before half time. Their goal looked a mile offside but all protests were in vain. The dream of an unlikely loss nice whilst it had lasted but surely there was only one winner from here? The Teriers hung on. Half time came and went. The second period being chipped away in five minute increments. The drive from West Brom relentless. It was only a matter of time before they broke through the last line of defence. 

I’ve never enjoyed a game less. At least, with Brentford, you know the players. You know who is who and what could come from a situation. Relief can be taken from confidence in whomever is on the ball. Watching a team of what, to us, were relative strangers there was no idea whether it had just been passed to a Bryan Mbeumo or a Nick Proschwitz. Was that the Huddersfield Town equivalent of Ollie Watkins looking for the ball or Murray Jones ? It was horrible. Angst unlike any I’ve ever known. The clock moving slower than Neil Shipperly. The goal for the visitors only a matter of time.

Drinks break was reached. The score still level. The inhaler clasped close to my chest. It was awful. Awful. And probably more because we could see Huddersfield getting closer to earning us the unlikely draw that would finally offer Brentford the opportunity to overtake West Bromwich Albion. Football can be cruel at times. Teasing us like this before the inevitable goal that broke our hearts. Then it came. Nature called.

I had to go. 86 minutes gone and the push from the bladder could be contained no longer. The relative safety of my lucky seat had to be abandoned before it became a commode. And on return, the most impossible thing had happened. Huddersfield Town were ahead. Oh. My. Word? How? Who got it? Frankly, who cares? The only thing that mattered was the ball in the back of the net. Amazing.

Six minutes of time added on dragged even slower than the previous 90 but the Terriers held firm. They got the points that have ensured survival and offered Brentford a most incredible lifeline. For that, we can only say a huge THANK YOU. Now it is West Brom who have matters outside their control. Destiny is in our hands. Put simply, four points from the next two games will see Brentford in the Premier League.

That’s the exciting part.The theoretical part. The incredible opportunity that we have absolutely earned following win after win after win. The moment one which was very much enjoyed last night. Putting ourselves in the box seat is the first part. Now, there’s the small matter of doing it all again. Of looking to make this 9 wins in a row. And Stoke City aren’t going to make this any easier than Town did last night. We have the chance to turn the screw but can we do it?

Right. Cards on the table time. Unquestionably yes, we can and I truly believe we will. The Bees have been relentless in recent weeks and I expect this to continue. The experience of Pontus will, of course, be invaluable. His will to win evident. His desire infectious. But around him are young charges who are chock full of confidence. Of talent. We win from the front. We come from behind. Without being arrogant, we know how good we can be when we put our minds to it. Recent results have shown that. This is a cup final but, fortunately, one not being played out at Wembley. that said, don’t even begin to imagine the stress levels on Wednesday if Stoke do end the game with something…

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

We won’t win just by turning up. We won’t get anything by assuming we’ve a divine right to the points. This is about as high pressure a situation as they come. Yet, at the same time, the most incredible chance has been afforded us. West Bromwich Albion have been in the top two since October. The second the game kicks off today, Brentford will overtake them in the ‘As it stands’ table by virtue of a goal difference that is 12 better than the Baggies. Whether we are still there 90 minutes later is the big ask.

It won’t be easy. It probably won’t be fun. But if anyone can motivate his team to do it then Thomas Frank is that man. Roll on 12.30pm. I can’t wait for this.

 Of course, before we conclude it is only right and proper to offer congratulations to Leeds and their quite wonderful fanbase after attaining promotion to the Premier League. The top flight will be all the better for having a club of their stature back amongst the elite of British football. They’ve had a bit of a wobble but, for once, there was no falling apart. Again. Now, they are free from playing tinpot pub teams and will line up against the best in the land. Visiting the likes of Old Trafford rather than Bus Stops in London.

Before all that starts they’ve got two games left to put their feet up, give the kids a run out and even let Bielsa take a turn between the sticks. With only one other team, Brentford, able to stop them lifting the title there’s no way that six point gap can be reeled in. Is there? 

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Looking at the BBC table this morning….

Nick Bruzon

Paging Agent Devlin……

17 Jul

Well this is about as big as a ‘neutral’ game gets. With Brentford not playing Stoke City until Saturday lunchtime, Huddersfield Town have the opportunity to do both us and themselves a huge favour when West Bromwich Albion visit tonight. The maths are simple. The Baggies are one point ahead of third placed Bees with two games to go. Town are three points above the relegation zone. Anything but an ‘away’ win puts destiny in our hands after reeling in those above us over that hot streak of eight successive wins. It will also see Leeds United promoted after their own defeat of Barnsley last night. There’s only one team I’ll be cheering for this evening. And with all due respect to Romaine Sawyers…. 

Tuesday night was undeniably horrible. Had Fulham won at the Hawthorns, Brentford would have finally grasped the control we’ve fought so hard to snatch away from a team who have been in the top two pretty much all season. Whilst there was no specific support or cheering of The Cottagers, it was more a case of desperately hoping for home defeat. Preferably via an o.g. Instead, a 0-0 was the next best thing and means West Bromwich Albion have no margin for error this evening.

What a night it promises to be. Leeds United fans will, I am sure, for once be in agreement with us. If not in regards to the merits of Said Benrahma’s foul avoidance technique or their crying to the EFL about Thomas and his whiteboard, then certainly about intended results this evening. For 90 minutes we will be supporting the same team. Possibly.

And what a night it promises to be. Huddersfield Town. A team I’ve only ever loved. A club with a rich history and one we’ll be desperate to see stay up. Sir Patrick Stewart. Jodie Whittaker. Cricketer Ryan Sidebottom. Our Graham. Or is it Marco? Former Maxïmo Park keyboard player Lukas Wooller. They’ll no doubt all be cheering on their team in front of the TV.

How often can it be said we’ve shared a metaphorical couch with Doctor Who and Captain Picard? Fingers crossed that Town can ‘make it so’ tonight. Sorry. Sorry.

 

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Maxïmo Park – quite magnificent live. And great taste in football from the keyboard section.

But wait, there’s more….

Reece Dinsdale. Harold Wilson. Our own much loved former chief executive Mark Devlin, now performing the role at the John Smith’s Stadium. Let’s hope he and his crack team have a special hashtag ready for full time.

Clearly, Mark still has a soft spot for the Bees – that can be the only reason he was back as recently as January for our own hammering of the Loftus Road outfit.

The list of recognisable supporters is a long one. Even Bobby Madley was reported to be a fan of The Terriers. Apparently he also supports Huddersfield Town. Sorry. Sorry.

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Griffin Park, January 2020. And the goals flew in…

This is that all important crunch point. Where the only thing that matters is the result. West Brom won’t care if it’s a turgid 0-1. We’ll be cock-a-hoop for any combination of draw or home win. Entertainment is secondary. Stress levels will be through the roof.

Sitting through our own game with Preston on Wednesday was all kinds of angst – the final quarter hour especially. But at least we were the ones controlling maters. Now, our fate is in the hands of somebody else. This is THE game to sit through if for no other reason than surely we aren’t going to be getting any favours midweek when the Loftus Road mob travel to the Midlands.

The realist in me can’t see West Brom missing out on any more points. Sure they’ve dropped four more in the last two games alone but now they know what they have to do.

Sure, Leeds United are as good as up, meaning that all of a sudden there’s only one ‘automatic’ spot available but that won’t play on their minds. That won’t build the pressure.

Sure, with Wigan Athletic scoring goals for fun and having already surged 12 points clear of the bottom three (the amount of points they’ll be deducted on Wednesday night), their likely safety makes the Terriers even more reliant on getting something out of this one…

This is no way as cut and dried as the table suggests. Who could forget that final round of games in the 2014-15 season? Derby County somehow choking an unchokeable position, missing out on certain play-offs after hitting self-destruct at home to Reading. Likewise Ipswich Town at Blackburn as Brentford reclaimed our own top six spot at full time. Sometimes, the results do go our way. West Bromwich Albion have it all to do against a team fighting for their lives.

Mark Devlin, if you are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) then here’s hoping Cliff has slipped you a half and half scarf. Certainly, I’ll be supporting two teams this evening with Brentford the ones who could really benefit from the right result. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing ‘neutral’ about any of this….

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Here’s hoping the pressure isn’t too much

 

Nick Bruzon

It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

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Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon