Tag Archives: Iran

Big new balls. Same old Maradona. And an innovation from Brentford.

27 Jun

The simultaneous sound of a million screen grabs being made and one director desperately screaming “cuuuutttttttttt”. Diego Maradona celebrating that late winner for Argentina against Nigeria in his own unique style is somethign that will long live on in the memory. Last night saw the relentless pace of the World Cup show no signs of abating. A point made even more pleasurable given the afternoon’s bore draw in which Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard (now something as locked into the media mind as eighteen year old Ryan Sessegnon’s eighteen year old age, West Ham’s move to the Olympic stadium, Trevor Brooking’s header in the 1980 FA Cup final and West Ham winning the World cup in 1966) made it three appearances out of three for the Dane.  There’s a new ball coming whilst for Brentford fans, we’ve a unique perspective on Lionel Road.

DgpGaIGWkAA0jpb

Goaaaallll!!!

Cripes. The World Cup. We’re not even at the knockout stages and I’m already exhausted. This is just brilliant. The excitement, the pressure, the tears and the joy. VAR has gone haywire whilst over on the BBC, Mark Lawrenson has swung between bizarre brilliance with his ‘UHT’ joke and coming close to self-combustion during the denouement of the Portugal v Iran game.

This is getting seriously good. We’ve had to have a few days down time on these pages, just to catch breath. Plus I was extremely tired and emotional after the England – Panama match. A 6-1 win and two penalties hit so well you’d have thought Harry Kane was German (although, perhaps you could argue he is footballing royalty). It was a score beyond what anyone expected and means England are through to the knockout stages with a game against….. Well, nobody has a clue because Group H is wide, wide open. Poland aside, that one could finish with any combination of Senegal, Colombia and Japan in the top two places.

Then, on Monday, Group B finished up. Spain scraped through after twice trailing Morocco. Portugal hung on by the skin of their teeth against an Iran side who were left dead on their feet and mentally drained after running Cristiano Ronaldo and his team so, so close. It was edge of the seat stuff with VAR conspiring to provide a devastating impact on both games whilst sending Lawro to the heights of apoplectic rage. “It’s farcical” he ranted on more than one instance. You had to sympathise but my God, it made great viewing. If not for the right reasons.

Yet if Portugal had got knocked out they’d have had to doff hats to a team who played a great tactical game. Sadly, I fear we’d have just had Ronaldo in floods of tears. Still, all that’s to come.

DgpHwT0WkAo5rrJAnd then there was the Argentina – Nigeria game last night. It will be remembered as much for the actions of Diego Maradona in the stands. Switching from being caught fast asleep before later giving his own celebratory salute. Less Hand of God and more fingers of dog. He’s an emotional chap, I’ll give him that.

“‘There’s a danger of him becoming a laughing stock I’m afraid“ opined Gary Lineker from the studio. A fair point from the man who saw his Mexico ‘86 dream end via those very same finger tips? Or just more of what was to be expected from one of football’s larger than life characters?

On field, manager Stavros Flatley and his team sneaked through as Croatia topped the group. It sets up a mouth-watering last 16 game between Argentina and France on Saturday afternoon. Here’s hoping the French make it slightly more interesting than they did yesterday. The game against Denmark possibly the dullest in World cup history since records began. If Maradona fell asleep during the Nigeria match, he may need something to help lift him when the French come to town.

The plus point of all that was that it meant Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard is also still in Russia. His Denmark team finished second in the group and will now play Croatia on Sunday evening. The same day Spain meet hosts Russia. Wow. Fill the fridge, clear the couch and light up the barbie (cue rather than doll). This could be a long one….

Df0r_WjX4AAAx_9

more, please.

New balls, please. That’s what’ll happen when those knockout stages begin. To date, we’ve been using the black and white Adidas Telstar 18. From Saturday it will be the new red and white Adidas Telstar Mechta. For reasons unknown beyond, presumably, a cash in.

The marketing speak on the official FIFA site is a joy to behold : ”New vivid red design inspired by the colours of the host nation, as well as the rising heat of knockout-stage football”. It continues, “The name Mechta translates as ‘dream’ or ‘ambition’ in Russian and is constructed with the same design elements as the Telstar 18, the ball used throughout the group stage, but adapted to reflect the added intensity and opportunity the knockout stage brings”. We then get to the rather more mundane, “The ball has a brand-new carcass that retains the best of the Brazuca “.

Good news though. Like the ‘18’, the Mechta also has an embedded NFC chip – the first time it is ever been used in an Official Match Ball . Not only does it make this the most innovative FIFA World Cup™ ball to date but, apparently, the chip enables consumers to interact with the ball using a smartphone.”

And there’s me thinking FIFA was just about the money and the sales figures. On the plus side, it does put one in mind of that rather odd, and short lived, Mitre ball from 1980.

red balls world cup

Is that Telstar or Telstra? Curse that typeface

Next up, Henrik Dalsgaard’s Brentford. Have you started to follow The Brentford FC Drone on Twitter as yet?

You can do so here via @TheBFCDrone This is brilliant. I’ve no clue who the pilot is but what a great idea and a fantastic way to show supporters how work is progressing on our new home. Aerial fly bys and progress reports from the Lionel Road build are going up weekly. They have a YouTube channel, too – and there’s a sample video below. Please DO check it out – this is brilliant. The only domestic Brentford story currently better than our awesome away shirt. Here’s hoping the drone action continues when the season proper kicks off  .

Catch it on Youtube, now.

Finally, there’s only a few days for the chance to give one supporter an ultra-rare 2017/18 ‘third shirt’ with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in EFL font. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop. Indeed, this has been given to me by a source close to the club.   

All you need to do is download one of the Last Word season reviews. This isn’t a get rich slow scheme for yours truly. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

To be in with a chance of owning this shirt, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 – details below – and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

The Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races. As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began….

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 16.13.22

Nick Bruzon

 

Advertisements

England go a bit Tourjansky. And are Brentford changing their tops?

23 Jun

With England limping out of the World Cup, watching any more of it seems a bit of a hollow exercise. The football over the weekend was very exciting (see: Germany, Ghana, Iran, Argentina, USA and Portugal) with even Algeria – South Korea, hardly the most scintillating prospect in advance, getting the blood pumping.

But these thrills are muted by the fact that every potential upset no longer has a knock on that could impact Roy’s Boys.

I’ve used this before but it is the archetypal example of my favourite analogy, a Timothy Dalton ‘Bond film’. The rest of the crew and cast may be the same, the action and the sound are identical but, ultimately, without the one-liners and raised eyebrow of Roger Moore it all seems to be lacking something.

Like Dalton, the World Cup still has a stunning supporting cast and incredible action but with our team of Victor Tourjanskys gone (and do check him out), it is definitely lacking a safari suit clad bite.

Image

England are reduced to a Tourjansky-esque cameo role on Tuesday

Brentford wise, things are just as downbeat on the surface. No real news coming out of the club, but rumour central in other sources. With Marcello Trotta, allegedly, no longer in the frame for a return, you may also be surprised to read that, “Bristol City boss Steve Cotterill is targeting highly-rated Brentford striker Will Grigg.”

Not my words (I’d have given him the respect of prefacing them with “Northern Ireland International”) but those of the Bristol Post. You can read the full story here but it would leave us rather short in the ‘striker’ position if we were to accept the supposed bid of £300,000….

Moreso given the talk about Clayton Donaldson being a shoe in to join Birmingham City, now his contract has expired.

I remember a similar situation the last time we escaped ‘tier 3’ to join the Championship back in 1992. Then, goal hero Dean Holdsworth was sold off on the cheap to Wimbledon and we were left with Murray Jones in his place. Ultimately, a packet of Murray mints would have done a better job as, despite a sterling effort, the former Grimsby man failed to find his eye for goal and Gary Blissett was left to do the work of two players.

However, if Brentford clear the decks up top (and it is a big IF – these are only cyber rumours at present) then this time I have a feeling things will be different. We’ve been too long looking to escape this division to then go and throw it all away.

Warbs and Frank McParland have a stunning knack for unearthing talent – just look who has come into the club in the last year or two. I’d hate to lose Clayton but, if it was to happen, then I’m confident that they have somebody lined up.

Now, does anybody have Lionel Messi’s phone number?

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’  – The story of Brentford’s season  2013/14 – amongst other things –  is now available as a digital book . Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle  / digital device

When in doubt, give it to the magician

22 Jun

Not my words but those of BBC World Cup commentator Jonathan Pearce as Lionel Messi gave Argentina the narrowest of victories over (insert your choice of patronising cliché : plucky, heroic, heartbroken, solid, minnows) Iran with a stunning last minute strike that could have been made on the Brentford training ground.

Pick up the ball deep in the heart of ‘Saunders territory’, hit it with the accuracy of a Forshaw or the fake-tanned wing-wizard himself and add a dash of International class c/o Northern Ireland’s Will Grigg.

It was a truly magnificent effort after a somewhat turgid encounter and, if not quite up there with Van Persie v Spain or Cahill v Netherlands, is certainly in my top three goals of the tournament. As ever, you can see the goal and the highlights on the BBC website.

Elsewhere, Germany held Ghana 2-2 in the proverbial game of two halves (apologies, I really have been eating cliché for breakfast. Just need ‘park the bus’ for a full house).

Four goals in a twenty-minute spell after half time made the opening 45 minutes, with both teams not so much parking the bus as struggling to get into the depot, a distant memory.

The excitement was cranked up with Miroslav Klose equaling the World Cup scoring record. Age may not have diminished the 36 year old’s eye for goal but it has caught up on his gymnastic skills. His celebratory somersault fell somewhat short and ended up less Olga Korbut and more Ronnie Corbett.

Getting back to Griffin Park, I’ve noticed the League table has now been updated on the BBC web page. It certainly makes great reading with Brentford already in the Championship play off spots (and Wolves currently rock bottom !).

Image

The BBC website already shows Brentford in the play off places

The World Cup may have come to a predictable, albeit premature, conclusion for England but it means all positive energy and thoughts can now be totally focused on the forthcoming Championship campaign.

There are less than 7 (seven) weeks to go until Charlton Athletic visit to kick things off and I can’t wait. If that isn‘t a more exciting prospect than watching veteran Teutonic gymnastics, I don’t know what is.

 

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ – The story of Brentford’s season 2013/14 – amongst other things – is now available as a digital book . Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device

Here come the Bees in the Championship as ‘keepers dominate.

18 Jun

Today’s the day! Finally, the Championship fixture list is released and Brentford find out when we’ll lock horns with the likes of Fulham, Watford, Charlton and Birmingham City (where, hopefully, we’ll see Clayton Donaldson playing for the team in red and white – ignore those rumours, folks!).

I absolutely love this time of year. It puts the next ten months into perspective as we find out if holidays clash with some vital away trip and when we can squeeze in a visit to see the mother-in-law.

The fever pitch feeling around TW8 is sure to step up a notch once we get the chance to map out 2014/15. This has already gone into overdrive with the news that 4,800 early bird season tickets have been sold. To put that into perspective, it’s almost half the capacity for Griffin Park’s home support and is a stunning effort.

In no small way is this down to the competitive level prices were kept at (to be honest, I was expecting a huge hike this season). Likewise, well done to all the staff in the ticket office who I cannot praise enough. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with them in person then you’ll know how hard the likes of Mads and Abdi work and how helpful they are.

Image

A new season dawns over Griffin Park

Then, just to keep the excitement bubbling over, there’s the World Cup over in Brazil where day 6 action was dominated by goalkeepers. Primarily, Guillermo Ochoa who kept Brazil at bay with an immense performance as Mexico drew 0-0 with the hosts.

I can only put his exceptional display down to his shirt which seems to be the international variant of the striking design set to be worn by Richard Lee and David Button next season. As somebody who looks for omens in the smallest of things, for me this one was as subtle as being hit in the face with a wet fish by Adrian Chiles and can only bode well for The Bees.

Later that evening, Russia took on South Korea in a game that threatened to rival the previous day’s Iran – Nigeria as the most painful of the tournament. I gave up after half an hour of dreadful football which, to coin a phrase I’d heard earlier in the season, “Was like watching two pensioners trying to play X-box FIFA for the first time”.

At least the goals started to flow in the second half as the match finished one apiece. However, where Ochoa had been flawless earlier in the day, his Russian counterpart, Igor Akinfeev, had a performance he’ll want to forget about. The BBC, whose coverage of this effort is here, put it best by saying he, “has practically thrown the ball over his shoulder into the back of the net”.

The day’s other game saw Belgium perform more like seaside donkeys rather than their billing as (cliché alert), the tournament’s ‘dark horses’. A 2-1 victory over an Algeria outfit who led for most of the game was hardly the stuff to strike fear into their rivals.

Just typical I’ve got Fellaini and co in the office sweepstake.

Image

BBC viewers saw Mexico’s Ochoa in the same design top as Brentford will be wearing next season

More England & Phil fallout as Messi does his thing

16 Jun

With less domestic stories than the North Korean ‘news at ten’, it’s a good thing we’ve got the World Cup to keep us going. Sunday was dominated by fallout from the England game, Lionel Messi ‘doing his thing’ and Honduras being, what we’ll politely call, ‘cynical in the challenge’.

Everybody has an opinion about the England team, with Wayne Rooney’s positional sense being the main talking point. Given the various tabloid scandals to have dogged him in recent years, the last thing I want to be visualising over my cornflakes is Wayne Rooney’s best position.

The other fallout from the England game was further discussion about the robotic stylings of Phil Neville in the BBC commentary booth. I said my piece on this yesterday but note his own subsequent admission that this was the first game he had ever covered.

It’s one way to unite the country, I suppose, with the criticism of the former Manchester United man being universal. I realise that new talent has to start somewhere, but not in the biggest England game since the last biggest England game. Surely this is what the likes of Iran- Nigeria are for?

I hope it works out for Phil. Genuinely. It’s a poor state of affairs when the BBC can produce somebody who makes Andy Townsend seem vaguely relevant.

Image

The Phil Neville panini sticker – a limited run???

Back on the pitch, Sunday highlights included Lionel Messi with a wunder-goal for Argentina in their 2-1 win against Bosnia & Herzegovina. I’ll be honest; I only saw this on the Internet today. Another 11pm match was too much for me on a school night. If you saw it live, then well done. Well worth staying up for and you can catch it here, c/o the BBC.

France beat Honduras with the first legitimate use of goal-line technology. My gut reaction was ‘goal’ after Karim Benzema’s effort went in via Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Whilst TV seemed to confirm this, not everybody was convinced. Radio 5’s Pat Nevin wasn’t alone in refusing to believe his own eyes and the video.

Image

Pat Nevin – sticking to his guns on the BBC website

For me, I still say ‘goal’ but the French can count themselves luckier to have escaped largely unscathed. Honduras did their very best to take football back to the dark ages in a performance than reminded me of Zaire ’74 or Cameroon against Argentina (foul wise) in Italia ’90.

Hopefully FIFA will ‘have a word’.

Today’s highlight is the Germany – Portugal clash at 5pm. I can’t wait. Pack your brollies – it’s going to be raining goals.