Tag Archives: Jack Bonham

Brilliant Bonham helps Bees take point at Barnsley.

17 Apr

Barnsley 1 Brentford 1 . A game where we might have taken all three points yet equally, were it not for Jack Bonham making his Championship debut for the Bees, we may well have been returning to London empty handed. It’s a point which guarantees we finish above QPR and whilst Fulham may now be too far ahead to catch up with in the West London mini league, the opportunity to put a dent in their playoff campaign remains a very distinct possibility.

As ever, go to the BBC, Beesotted, Brentford official etc for your full fat match reports. High level talking points for this one were a very accomplished performance from Jack Bonham between the sticks, an injury for Lasse Vibe that saw him replaced very early by Sergi Canos, a missed penalty early in the second half from Jota (with the scores locked at one each) and a sweet finish from Flo Jo to level things up just before the interval.

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Captain Fantastic marshalls the troops during that injury break

It was a goal that was somewhat against the run of play in terms of chances created. As was the opener from Barnsley. Certainly, these were rare highlights in a relatively low key first period that was full of effort but no real breakthrough. It was one that gave no indication of what was to come after the players had gone in for their cuppa and the mascots had come out for their own personal battle.

This, a 45 yard dash that saw Toby Tyke beat Buzz Bee by a short head. Ironic, given the anthropomorphic dog’s oversized cranium. But size is no indication of quality and sadly, despite the dispute over who came first at Griffin Park back in October, this time there was no doubting the winner.

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Toby got the better of Buzz, this time

But whereas Buzz had gone down, both teams emerged reinvigorated with clear intent to end this one victorious. An early penalty awarded after handball saw Jota step up to send the ball goalwards. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Barnsley shot stopper Adam Davies doing sufficient to keep the ball out and break Brentford hearts. But from there it went crazy. Canos headed against the bar from point blank range. George Moncur almost broke the one in front of the Barnsley fans. With the home side seemingly under orders to shoot on sight, Bonham was equal to everything that came near him. One effort seeing the Brentford defence stretched thinner than a pair of cheap curtains before a certain goal was denied by the onrushing ‘keeper.

In the end, a draw was a fair result. It was sufficient to keep us above QPR (permanently) and still with that hope of running Fulham out on Saturday week. As for Barnsley, nothing but fairplay to them for what really was a cracking game of football. Both teams went for it from the off and really stepped up their game in the second period. This was no stroll in the bank holiday sunshine.

Additional kudos for our host’s work in the official match day programme. Whilst we have, quite rightly, praised Mark Chapman for his own work at Griffin Park this season one does wonder if he’d ever go to this level? Specifically, a refusal to recognise former player Sam Winnall who scored for Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday against the Tykes side he’d left in January.

Certainly, it puts a spin on A.Trialist…..

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Nick Bruzon

Where’s Miss Marple? BBC Phil nails it as Birmingham City get away with murder.

27 Nov

Well, perhaps murder is a bit extreme. Although if not that, certainly a case of “Call the police, there’s been a robbery” as Birmingham City left a sunset drenched Griffin Park with all three points yesterday following a 2-1 win over Brentford. With Norwich City also losing, again, it makes next weekend’s road trip very interesting indeed.

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Griffin Park looked glorious, even if the result wasn’t

But before we get too ahead of ourselves and think about Carrow Road , let’s look back at this one first. For me, it was a game which could be summed up at the highest level in three quotes:

Birmingham City boss Gary Rowett :“We rode our luck and if luck was a horse I have won the Grand National today”.

Dean Smith: “If it was a boxing match it would have been stopped”

Phil Parry of BBC London : How is it still 1-0 to Brum??? How did Vibe not score?? Where’s Miss Marple?

First up, Mr Rowett. Honest of him to admit but, equally, teams ride their luck. Teams take their chances. Teams play worse and win. His Birmingham did that yesterday, ably helped by a couple of wonder saves from Tomasz Kuszczak in the second half.

As for the goals, both were presented to Birmingham on a plate. The first saw a penalty awarded for a foul on Clayton Donaldson as the former Bee ran onto a ball threaded straight through the midfield and our plethora of centre backs. Dan Bentley was adjudged to have brought him down and the spot kick duly despatched. Indeed, but for Andreas Bjelland running across, surely red would have been shown and, with it, a possible league debut for Jack Bonham.

The irony of Clayton even winning a penalty at Griffin Park was missed by nobody. I’ve lost count of the number of nailed on spot kicks denied in League One as he’d be kicked, tripped , manhandled or wrestled to the ground only to see his claims waived away. Maybe it was just a Brentford thing.

I’ve all the time in the world for the big man, even now. When his contract expired, Birmingham were there to offer him what he wanted and allow him to move closer to home. We couldn’t match that. And so some of the abuse he was coming in for yesterday seemed harsh – especially after the penalty. What’s he going to do – not score? I’m not going to openly cheer somebody who is now an opposition player but at the same time, have some class.

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View from the terrace – Clayton fires home for 0-1

The second goal was an equally disappointing one to concede. Also, from a dead ball situation as a free kick was awarded in front of the away fans and out near the Braemar Road touchline . With all the time we needed to set ourselves up to defend, City were still able to float it over our plethora of centre backs to the far post where Ryan Shotton was able to stroll clear of his marker and tap home for 2-0.

As for Dean Smith, he can talk about it being a boxing match that should have been stopped but that’s not how football works. Nobody cares how much possession a team had, how many shots were rifled in or how unlucky you were. At the end of the day, Clive (and as we’ve said many times before) the only stat that counts is balls in the back of net.

“If we played them ten times again we would beat them nine times: It was that one sided” he also added – that one in the interview on ‘official’. He’s probably right but we got off to a very slow start in a system that took everybody some getting used to – three centre backs in the middle and a fourth playing out left, with Max Colin on the right. To be fair to Dean, I had wondered if this is how he would crowbar the glut of defensive talent together and so let’s not write this one off. Certainly, it allowed Barbet to get into some very advanced positions and I’ve a feeling we’ll see more of the same against Norwich next weekend.

Yet despite Brentford continuing to build the pressure, turn the screw and find ourselves in full ‘unlucky’ mode, it was the second half and Birmingham were 2 goals up. Then Scott Hogan happened. Again.

Getting onto the end of a ball floated into the box from Josh Clarke, he beat Kuzczak to dink his header past the otherwise excellent ‘keeper and into the back of the net to send the home fans delirious. It set up the proverbial grandstand finale in which if Dean Smith had a kitchen sink on the bench I’m sure he would have brought that on, such was the amount chucked at the Birmingham goal .

And then it happened. 2-2!! Andreas Bjelland with a header from a Ryan woods cross. Or was it Scott Hogan with the faintest of toe pokes from an Andreas Bjelland header? Either way, the one man goal machine was adjudged offside as a result. Standing behind the goal it looked like Bjelland’s effort all the way and a very harsh call from the referee and his his assistant. Brentford official were more diplomatic in their match repot saying, “It is possible that if Hogan had not touched it the goal may have stood but the movement of the Brentford man definitely affected Kuszczak and he would probably have saved it without the touch.

The third quote at the top end was from Phil Parry, on Twitter, mid-match as Lasse Vibe failed to put it in from yards out with the ‘keeper beaten and two defenders on the line.

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Gut reaction at the time was, like Phil, just how did he miss that? How? Looking back at the video  – and you can see the highlights on Sky at present (until the BeesPlayer goes live at mid-day)  – perhaps at first the ball gets gets caught up in his legs a bit. Likewise, he maybe takes one turn too many that allows the defenders time to position themselves more. Either way, a chance that he’ll be bitterly disappointed not to have buried from that starting position.

It was always going to be tough game. To be honest, we created more decent chances than I expected us to . It’s just a huge shame that when it came to putting them away a combination of great ‘keeping and bad luck have conspired against us. Then again,  Birmingham City have delivered the quintessential lesson in taking the opportunity when it arises.

Dean Smith also noted at full time that,  “We have played two weekends, Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City, and we should be sitting here really pleased with six points…However, we are here with zero and that is the Championship.

It is Dean, it is. But with only 1 win from the last 8 games, I’m very interested to see what you do next to try and increase those points from zero to three. Surely it can’t all be down to bad luck?

As for next weekend and Norwich City, well they lost again yesterday. That’s five defeats in a row for the once high flying Canaries. Are they the ones to help us return to wining ways…?

Nick Bruzon 

Crazy transfers, spray on pants and the chance to win a cup tie

9 Aug

Brentford travel to Exeter City in the first round of the League Cup tonight, no doubt anxious to make up for last season’s humiliation at this stage when Oxford United were given the freedom of Griffin Park. Elsewhere, those of us with half an ear to the wider football grapevine can breath a huge sigh of relief at the news that the Paul Pogba to Manchester United saga is finally over. And Olympic fever is slowly taking hold in the Bruzon household.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The trip to Exeter City marks a chance for the Bees to start another attempt at a cup run after a  somewhat disappointing last couple of seasons. Capitulation in the FA cup against Brighton in 2014/15 was followed by last season’s no show at home to Walsall. As for the League Cup, who needs any reminder of the tie with League Two Oxford United?

Well, all of us do – just to make sure it never happens again. Dean, if you are reading (you aren’t)  I realise this wasn’t your fault but….

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

 

Marinus Oxford touchline

The Oxford United fiasco (not a prog rock band)

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Steve Austin – 0.5 of a Grabban

Nick Bruzon

Sawyers, Egan, Bentley all IN. And a return for Andy Scout

2 Jul

Well that was some day in TW8. Brentford boss Dean Smith embarked on a triple transfer swoop that has sent the fans into overdrive whilst, no doubt, earning further friends at Walsall. Romaine Sawyers IN. Daniel Bentley IN. John Egan IN. Oh, and then there was the small matter of captain Jake Bidwell joining QPR. There’ll be a separate piece on that one but, for now, we’ll simply say “good luck” and politely leave it there.

We’d all heard the rumours. We’d all scoured the local press looking for some crumb of Brentford related news in the lean summer months since the season ended. These names have been doing the rounds for some time but, being honest, did we expect to get them all? On day 1?

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Official twitter has a triple transfer montage

More to the point, how did the local press get it so right this time? And for so long? I’ve long been scornful of a rumour mill that seems as much miss as it is hit. Throw enough mud and some will stick. However, on this on you have to say ‘hats off’ for calling them all, including the news about Jake, spot on.

This is nothing but stunning. Sawyers and Egan were both in the League 1 team of the year last season, an honour Bentley had the season previous as Southend got promoted via the play off final. That, a game Sam Saunders will remember (although perhaps for the wrong reasons) after injury forced him to leave the pitch quicker than you could say “And this is Saunders territory”, just seconds after kick off.

What does this all mean for the rest of the squad? Egan is a centre back and with Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell, Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet could somebody else be moving on? Might Dean be moving to a formation with three central defenders? Or is it a case of him having to try and keep a lot of players very happy with a place on the bench? Either way, this level of competition can only be a good thing.

As for Daniel Bentley, he comes very highly rated and there is a genuine sense of excitement at his joining. The obvious question is if he will be in line to support or replace David Button. In my eyes, he ran Alan Judge oh so close for player of the season last time out and helped keep the good ship Brentford afloat when things were, shall we politely say, going through a bit of a rough patch on field.

Reading the press release, Phil Giles has noted that, “As it stands all three goalkeepers, including Jack Bonham, will be competing to be first choice goalkeeper against Huddersfield on the opening day of the season.” Whilst I have no doubt that is true, as it stands, I can’t believe having al three on our books will be a long term option. Will David sign the new contract he has been offered? Will Daniel have to be content as an understudy at first? Or will it be a case of Bentley & Bonham being our goalkeeping 1-2 as we head into 2016/17?

Then there’s Romaine Sawyers. He earned plaudits all last season and no more so than as Walsall dumped Brentford out of the FA Cup in the game we don’t talk about. They deserved it that day and he was wonderful. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos back at Liverpool and Jota still on his ‘loan’ in Spain there’s certainly room for an attacking midfielder.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

Yesterday was nothing but brilliant.

Off the field, it was also confirmed that Andy Scott is now back at Brentford in an official capacity, as Chief Scout. Whilst Matthew Benham had previously alluded to his work for us, Andy is now fully on board with Phil Giles noting “I have been working with Andy over the last year or more, and he has been invaluable in identifying players and providing detailed scouting reports on all of our targets.

Andy, if you are reading then congratulations. It’s great to have you back. I’l never forget those goals or that night against Everton. Now, if you could hot foot it up to Liverpool and start compiling a dossier, there’s a chap called Sergi I think you might like to take a look at……

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  Andy, Daniel, Romaine or John, If you are reading ( you aren’t)  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs about the club you are joining then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading

Sam reveals all (some) amidst marketing blitz

4 Feb

With the game against Brighton just over 24 hours away, the Brentford marketing team got ready by going on a high-profile publicity drive of our own. With mixed results.

But before we get there just a quick word of praise for our own supporters . With tickets for the Brighton game now confirmed as available on the gate, at no extra cost, chief executive Mark Devlin has already taken to Twitter to announce:

Looks likely we will have approx 1200-1300 travelling fans at Brighton. Not bad for a Friday night, live on TV, match

Many people’s plans, my own included, were thrown into chaos when the game was moved forward from a Saturday afternoon to a Friday night to accommodate the Sky cameras. It is frustrating but just part and parcel of being in the Championship.

But to be taking this many, when the option to watch from the comfort of our armchairs on a wet Friday evening presents itself, is truly admirable and shows just what a loyal fanbase this club has. There are others who will have practical reasons for being unable to attend : prior arrangements made to facilitate a trip to Brighton on a Saturday afternoon that have now backfired, childcare, work etc. Yet to still have this healthy a crowd deserves a lot of kudos be shown to those making the journey.

Here’s hoping we can reward them by replicating last season’s win at the Amex. Although perhaps without putting us through the torture of missing an unmissable open goal. Jon Toral, I’ll never forget that one….

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The Bees beat Brighton 1-0 last time at the Amex – it could have been 2

 

Ok – so I mentioned at the top of the article that we’d been on a marketing drive. My email in-box was hit with both issue 1 of ‘The Buzz’ newsletter and a rather odd note about tickets for forthcoming games.

The Buzz newsletter had a mix of brief articles, video footage and social media highlights. All round a nice touch. If nothing else, I’ve learned that when Sam Saunders isn’t showing his romantic side, he is ..”An absolute animal on the dance floor. The Rondejon is my best move, as pro like myself I have it on lockdown” .

I am to dancefloors what Nick Proschwitz was to penalty boxes and really not best placed to comment on what a Rondejon even is. Whilst I’d imagine it’s something being practiced in discotheques and dancehalls up and down the land, could Sam also have a penchant for ballet?

The Rond de jambe, of course, being an exercise from that discipline at the bar or in the centre in which one leg is made to describe a series of circular movements on the ground (thanks, google) . Given the fleet footed skills of the popular wing wizard, nothing would surprise me.

Next up, the ticket email. I’ve often been accused of being ‘puerile’ but was there really any need to send me this?

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It’s ‘dear’, not ‘hi’

Was somebody showing some solidarity after the recent twitter spat about my own, perceived, support ? No. Infact, the answer transpired to be a typo on the mail shot as, it turned out, I wasn’t alone in having an email sent to my ‘carer’.

These things happen. And I’m certainly not going to pay out our ticket office. If, indeed, it was them rather than the marketing team that sent this. We all know what a great job Rosina, Vicky, Mads and the rest of the team do (under some very testing circumstances).

However, in a year when fan interaction / comms has been high on the agenda in this blog, let’s hope this was a one off. People can take offence – albeit it most of those I spoke with saw the funny side when we thought we’d been ‘singled out’.

The reason I even mention this was because, it seems, we had several new recruits in the office.

If ever there was a caption competition waiting to happen then here it is as, along with Josh, supporters might have received a call from Lasse Vibe, Jack Bonham or David Button. Another positive from the Bees to have a chat out of the blue with one of your heroes, even if the photo did make it look as though the call centre was based in a storeroom.

Was Josh to blame for the rogue email to our parents and carers? Did Jack drop the handset on the keyboard and accidentally hit ‘send’ ? Honestly, I don’t know what my reaction would have been had somebody called me out of the blue saying: “Hello. It’s David Button here”.

At the end of the day (Clive) you can’t knock the club for trying to reach out to supporters more. Whilst those first few calls must have taken a few people by surprise, this could be a great new initiative for future weeks.

I’m just waiting for my call from Sam. If he isn’t busy dancing.

Nick Bruzon

Who will be celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup?

9 Jan

FA Cup third round day. Unquestionably THE highlight of the calendar for me. With Brentford due to entertain Walsall, last night’s 2-2 between Exeter City and Liverpool reminded us just how exciting this oldest of cup competitions can still be whilst simultaneously higlighting the perils of picking an under strength team.

Watching Liverpool struggle as they were outplayed by Exeter showed, yet again, that much clichéd entry onto the FA Cup bingo card of ‘David v Goliath’ with a generous sprinkling of ‘cup magic’ on the side. As seems the fashion these days, Jürgen Klopp rotated his squad but almost paid the ultimate price for over tinkering.

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Exeter still have a chance of a trip to North London

So was Dean Smith watching and has he taken heed? If today isn’t in the realms of David v Goliath – Walsall are simply too good to be patronised with any sort of underdog tag – it represents a huge potato skin for the Brentford Head Coach to try and navigate. The Saddlers are flying high at the top end of League One and haven’t allowed our acquisition of their former manager to disrupt the promotion push.

Understandably, feelings on social media suggest this is still somewhat of a sensitive subject and I have no doubt that a sold out away following will make their presence, and feelings, heard. Which is all well and good but I fancy full strength Brentford to give anybody, in any division, a run for their money.

However, with this being the much discussed first of 3 games in 6 days, not to mention the various transfer stories doing the rounds, just how ‘full strength’ will, or can, Dean go?

Well, outside of left back we have viable candidates in pretty much every position. We’ve been promised the strongest team possible but it could swing as much as follows:

Bonham, Bidwell, Yennaris, Dean, O’Connell, McEachran, McCormack, KK, Saunders, Gogia, The Hoff.

Personally, I think we can expect to see all three transfer targets rested and the likes of Sam and Macca given a full run out. The changes won’t be as extreme as highlighted above but, equally, I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than any part of the club ‘inner circle’. At the end of the day (Clive) this is all pure conjecture.

One thing I can be sure about is that, as Liverpool discovered last night, you under estimate anybody at your peril. A lesson that Marinus learned the very hard way in the Capital One Cup humiliation by Oxford United. Certainly, Walsall will be no different and would absolutely love it, Kevin Keegan style, if they could get one over Dean and the Bees.

Whatever the result, today also sees a chance for two of those other cup traditions to raise their heads. And they don’t come any bigger than the tin foil trophy.

The regular reader will know I absolutely love this ritual and despite my age – 45 going on 5 – will be knocking one up later this morning. Fortunately, a last minute decision to switch from turkey to beef for Christmas lunch means we have a surfeit of Bacofoil in the kitchen drawer – much to Mrs. Bruzon’s chagrin.

Well fret no more, Mrs. B. 10metres of the shiny stuff should be enough for a decent effort, And if it’s good enough for Des Lynam then who am I to argue?

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Des prepares for the final , back in the day

Second up – ‘other jobs’. TV producers love a ‘minnow’ ™ as it means they can trot out that list of the part-timer’s daytime occupations. “Somehow he manages to fit in training three times a week and a game at weekends with his job as a postman/plumber/firefighter(delete as applicable)”.

All being well this is a situation Brentford will never find themselves in and so one aspect of footballing life that we’ll not have the chance to experience. Much as this makes me a very happy man, a little part of me also wonders…’what if?’. Sam Saunders aside, who we all know used to work on the Underground as an electrician before joining Dagenham, I’m pretty sure the rest of the squad have parachuted directly into football.

Indeed, terrace talk has switched to this very subject at times as we’ve questioned what jobs our team would do if, hypothetically of course, an examination of the books and subsequent financial collapse saw us reborn in the Evo-Stik League Southern as part-timers AFC Brentford.

Well, here’s the answer. Or, at least, one take on it which of course is all just a bit of fun. Sam is in our team, although has moved on to bigger and better things. It’s based on nothing more concrete than a bit of banter and I’ll ask you indulge me formation wise – for no other reason than technological ineptitude meant this was the best way to crowbar it all together.

On the flip side, could we have stumbled across Dean Smith’s starting line up for the afternoon? See you at 3pm when we find out.

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‘Problems’…. ‘Solved’

Nick Bruzon

More important things afoot for Bees than the Chelsea result

18 Dec

Any mention of Chelsea yesterday would, understandably, have had most people focused on the so-called ‘special’ one and his sacking (please note: your definition of the word ‘special’ may differ from Mr. Mourinho). It takes a special kind of person to be sacked from the same job, by the same man, twice.

As Oscar (Wilde) didn’t, quite say : “To lose one job may be regarded as misfortune but to lose it again is just carelessness”.

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Special? Garbage

But whilst this news may have been a shock for many, there was an even bigger one at Cobham than the post dinner discussions as Kevin O’Connor’s development team took on a Chelsea XI in a friendly and went down 3-2.

In this day and age a win for any Stamford Bridge outfit is, I suppose, deemed an upset but that wasn’t the talking point. At least not for Brentford fans. We had some very positive news on the injury front – Lewis Macleod is back.

Lasting a full hour before being subbed, Lewis began his latest comeback alongside the likes of Philipp Hofmann and Yoann Barbet under the watchful eye of Head Coach Dean Smith. Indeed, Dean later noted, “The fitter these boys are then the more options we have in the coming weeks.”

An obvious observation perhaps (and you can read the full piece on the official club site) but it is most telling in the case of Lewis.

It doesn’t need me to remind anybody of the fitness issues he has had since signing from Rangers almost 12 months ago. Comeback after comeback has been blighted by twinges, knocks and pulls whilst the case of his ‘tripping over a twig’ on the training ground has been well documented. But now, it seems, he is back in the right place.

And with that run of three games (Walsall, Middlesbrough and Burnley) coming up in early January, could the moment almost be upon us? Certainly it would fit with Dean’s own timescale as to when the option would be available to him.

Brentford fans are desperate to see this much-touted prospect in action having heard nothing but good things from Rangers when Mark Warburton signed him. Indeed, I struggle to recall a Brentford player who has so much felt the weight of expectation on his shoulders since signing for the club. Although given his bad luck, even that would probably cause a dislocation.

The other news of interest from the Brentford website is that, apparently, we now have a sister club in FC Midtjylland. Whilst Matthew Benham’s ownership of both teams is well documented, as is the additional role played by Rasmus Ankersen as our co-director of football/ their chairman, I was unaware we were now linked in that official a capacity.

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Sister

Perhaps it passed me by but if so, can we now expect a shuffling of players between the two teams? Likewise, supporters? Certainly the latter option would seem to be on the cards being as we are being asked if anybody would be interested in a trip to the theatre. Of Dreams, that is, where the Danes are taking on Manchester United in the Europa League.

In what for me at least would be the ultimate in football tourism, its one I’ll certainly be passing on. If nothing else, we have a game against Wolves just two days prior. Being quite honest, watching Manchester United trying to save face after failing to escape the Champions League group stages (something even Chelsea accomplished) fills me with about as much excitement as being faced with the forthcoming surfeit of sprouts.

Good luck to anybody who wants to go. Its just not for me. If its all the same, I’d prefer to focus on Huddersfield Town tomorrow and the glut of games that are about to come our way.

Hey, by the time we get to that Wolves game Lewis Macleod might even be a first team fixture.

Nick Bruzon

As Burnley await Brentford and Andre Gray, is this a gamble from Matthew?

22 Aug

The inevitable has finally happened. After weeks of speculation linking Andre Gray with Hull and an unsuccessful £9 million bid from Bristol City, Burnley met both the asking price and the striker’s aspirations to secure a deal that sees Brentford smash their inward transfer record by a country mile.

Whilst, officially, ‘undisclosed’ it is a fee that is universally reckoned to be 3 Lewis Grabbans (or, at current prices, the equivalent of 9 Will Griggs). One would go crazy trying to extrapolate that outwards to the equivalent in Proschwitzs.

Gray is now a Claret. But surely that should be a 7 (seven) ?

Gray is now a Claret. But surely that should be a 7 (seven) ?

This isn’t the doom and gloom that you’d believe from looking at social media following the news. For starters, the sort of money being talked about is incredibly hard to resist. Nine. Million. Pounds!! An 18x increase on what we paid just over a year ago.

Burnley have been unable to complete the paperwork in time so Andre will have to sit this one out from the stands whilst, for the Bees, it means our choice of strikers still includes full Danish international Lasse Vibe and German U-21 Philipp Hofmann. These are players of proven quality and hardly the equivalent of being left with the aforementioned Proschwitz.

Tom Moore - still showing the love for Dougie on this Twitter profile pic

Tom Moore – still showing the love for Dougie on his Twitter profile pic

Besides, as West London’s premier journalist Tom Moore has written in his own take on this news, “The Bees may yet be better off, if they are able to secure the replacements they want at the club…

Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen are intelligent people and will have been working on replacements all summer, in the expectation Gray would go.”

An obvious statement, perhaps, but a very true one. Whilst the price tag was a massive inducement to sell, it is still a decision that will have been considered on myriad other levels. Like Tom, I have no doubt the club have targets in mind and we’ve already seen a few names bandied about in the prelude to the sale being confirmed.

If nothing else, the speculation is finally over. We can now move on, knowing who makes up a squad that has, don’t forget, still seen more come in than go out over the last few months.

Let’s be clear – I would have loved to see Andre stay. He has already hit the ground running this season and will no doubt have every success at Burnley. But he has gone. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth from Brentford fans won’t change a thing.

For sure, Matthew Benham has taken an on-field gamble in allowing a proven goal scorer to leave, but getting overly upset about this pays a tremendous disrespect to both the rest of this team and his own, longer term, plans. Keeping his cards close to his chest is something that Matthew has done exceedingly well over the last few seasons as, time and again, we’ve been caught cold by his and the club’s transfer plans.

As a fan since 1979, Matthew will be well aware of our own history and what happens when you replace a Dean Holdsworth with a Murray Jones. Indeed, we’ve already scored six goals in two league games this campaign and, whilst two have come from Andre, the rest were very much shared around with Tarks, The Hoff, and an Alan Judge brace rounding things off.

On that note, yesterday saw good news with Alan credited a second against Bristol City after a meeting of the Dubious Goals Committee (a group whom I can only imagine meet in an oak paneled drawing room, quaffing brandy by a roaring log fire whilst sitting in leather wing-backed chairs). As the Irishman himself noted on Twitter afterward, “Nothing dubious about it clearly mine

The Judge gives his verdict

The Judge gives his own verdict

The other point of note was something suggested last night by one terrace wag who has asked if Brentford are adopting a policy of allowing somebody to join our next opponents?

Jonathan Douglas signed for Ipswich Town in time to tackle Jota and help concede two goals after he had entered the field of play with his new team in a seemingly unassailable position. Next up, the club agreed a fee with Bristol City at a time that Andre had been heavily linked with a side we would go on to beat 4-2 last weekend.

Then, the day before we are due to visit Burnley, we have completed the sale of the player who found the back of the net 18 times for Brentford last season. What next, Jack Bonham to Reading?

Andre will be missed, no doubt. I do also wonder if given his sharp, upward, career moves that Burnley fans could be saying the same thing in twelve months time? As he has already noted on his new club’s twitter feed, “Last season was a test for me, but that learning curve is why I’m at this club now”.

So there you go, cynics. It’s not all about the money. Burnley are the next rung on his career ladder. And if ever Brentford fans needed a motivation to get behind our team and show Andre which is the club on the up, then we’ve got the perfect one at 3pm on Saturday.

See you there.

Ande has the Last Word, for now

Andre has the Last Word, for now

Nick Bruzon

The only winners were Holby City fans. And Oxford United

12 Aug

Well played Oxford United. Let’s get that out there first of all following their 4-0 Capital One Cup victory over a Brentford XI last night. To go three up within twelve minutes deserves credit at any level and, being honest, we were lucky it wasn’t more.

Let’s be equally clear, I don’t blame any of the youngsters on show. I’m all for using this sort of game to blood a couple of less experienced players. But don’t make so many changes and leave them with so little first team support. The lads were on a hiding to nothing against a physically stronger Oxford team.

For that, you have to look to Marinus and wonder why he felt it a good decision to give so many untested players a game simultaneously. He blamed injuries but have we really got that many just one game into the season? Let’s hope they can learn from this and we do see more of them being, gradually, phased in rather than another such baptism of fire

And if you are going to make such a decision then have the balls to stand by it. At a time when the new look side were crying out for some direction, Marinus’ body language spoke volumes. I’ve seen more animated statues as he cut a forlorn figure rooted to the edge of his technical area. Worse, there was no handshake for Courtney Senior when he came off. Indeed, it looked as though the youngster was actually given the cold shoulder as he turned to the head coach on reaching the dugout.

A similar snub was offered to the entire team at full time aswell as the crowd. Aside from a brief chat to the Oxford management and officials, he headed straight for the dressing room with no further word or sign being offered.

Perhaps this is just Marinus’ style and he does his talking in the dressing room. But at a time when the youngsters he’d chucked into the lion’s den needed an arm around the shoulder it was this that really upset me. Defeat I can take but at least back your team in public.

Marinus is a solitary figure as the action unfolds (note: your definition of action may vary)

Marinus is a solitary figure as the action unfolds (note: your definition of action may vary)

Andreas Bjelland had a debut to forget. Whether it was worry about a pitch that continued to cut up or first game nerves, he didn’t put a foot right as challenges were missed and clearances misdirected. As one wag in the New Road suggested to me, “He looks like a defensive Nick Proschwitz”. Harsh, perhaps, but matters became worse when his game to a premature end following injury just before half time.

But it’s not fair to single him out. Jack Bonham struggled with his distribution – Oxford’s third goal being an exquisite strike by Kemar Roofe who put the goalkeeper’s headed clearance straight back past him from 40 yards. Lasse Vibe barely had a touch whilst Nico Yennaris was played in an unfamiliar central midfield role.

Marinus would later describe it as, “An embarrassing performance from my team. After 12 minutes it’s game over. I think there was no organisation, no leadership in the team.” In layman’s terms, Holby City hadn’t even started on TV by the point we were 3-0 down.

Brentford practice kick off. Again. Holby starts in 3 minutes

Brentford practice kick off. Again. Holby starts in 3 minutes

Look. I like Marinus. He comes across as a genuine bloke and a wonderful straight talker. I have no doubt he and the team will bounce back and so I hope this is just one that we have to chalk up to experience. A heavy defeat at the hands of a better team.

Mistakes were made but at least they have been realised. Let’s just put it behind us and focus on the game at Bristol City. Three points there and this will all be forgotten about.

As for the youngsters. If any of them are reading then chin up. There was a lot of potential out there and I’m sure we’ll see the likes of Courtney, Josh Clarke, Jermaine Udumaga and Josh Laurent again. As Alan Hansen so famously said, “You can’t win anything with kids” and look what happened next.

For now though, we just have to take it on the chin.

Well done Oxford United.

Nick Bruzon

What next after a super Tuesday?

15 Jul

Brentford have played their first game under Marinus, Birmingham City (second up at Griffin Park this season) have launched a stunning new kit and Will Grigg has joined Wigan Athletic. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, were in Champions League action against Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar.

First up, though, Portugal where two Brentford teams (the line up changed at half time) cruised to a 3-0 victory over SC Farense. With only Chris Wickham’s match report and Twitter to rely on, I’m not sure how much we can take from this. Likewise, in a game where 22 Brentford players were used.

Certainly, it seemed comfortable and, as Chairman Cliff Crown noted on twitter at half time, the only thing Jack Bonham caught was a tan – a reference to our dominance rather than his ability. Which, by that logic would then make Sam Saunders a world-class goalkeeper.

Chairman Crown bought comms and match action via Twiter

Chairman Crown brought comms and match action via Twiter

Despite us changing the line up at half time, notable absentees included Andreas Bjelland, Josh McEachran and David Button (read what you will into any of that) but good to see Marcos Tebar get a run out. As interesting was the description of our line up in the aforementioned report as a 4-3-3 throughout with two deeper lying midfield players but their wide attackers pushed high up the pitch.

Sunday at Boreham Wood and then the following Saturday at home to Stoke City give Bees fans, barring a small hardcore who made it over to the Algarve, their first chance to see this in action. I can’t wait.

One player who won’t be there is Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, who has joined Wigan Athletic for a fee rumoured to be GBP1,000,000. Club owner Matthew Benham took to Twitter to offer him his best wishes, saying: “v unlucky in 13/14 with intl call ups, niggling injuries and the form of Marcello, still scored vital goals for us though. Then had a great season at MK last year”

Will seemed an excellent signing, on paper, for Brentford and got off to a flying start with a brace, and a missed penalty, on his home debut against Sheffield United. Sadly, things went downhill from there and a record of 5 goals in 34 games tells its own story.

View from the terrace - Will was denied a home debut hat trick

View from the terrace – Will was denied a home debut hat trick

That said, as he has proven with both Walsall and MK Dons, he can certainly find the net at that level and so who knows just how well he’ll do in future. Good luck, Will.

From our own perspective, it does present an interesting problem as it leaves Brentford with Andre Gray as the only recognised striker on our books (although you could have said the same last season given the way things worked out for Nick Proschwitz). Will Matthew be flexing the chequebook, scouring the European lower leagues of even promoting from within?

The youth team are chomping at the bit whilst we’ve more midfielders than you could shake a stick at. Could Jonathan Douglas or even Harlee Dean (who has been pressed into emergency action before) prove a statistical enigma that nobody had considered previously? Whilst it would mean they were pulled from their traditional positions, competition in those slots is already sure to be tough with some quality players joining the club.

Whilst the Dougie/Harlee suggestion is, perhaps, too far a flight of fancy, stranger things have happened. With four weeks until the big kick off (™), expect more news on that soon. One thing’s for sure, Andre was desperately crying out for some support last time out and I don’t expect us to make the same mistake this time around.

Although we won’t be seeing Will at Griffin Park in league action this season, barring an 11th hour transfer then Clayton Donaldson will be back with Birmingham City. And, it has to be said, he’ll be looking good.

The St. Andrews outfit launched their new kit last night and it is a stunning effort. Whilst the club were keen to point out it harked back to their 1875 incarnation as Small Heath Alliance, the universal reaction was – Thunderbirds. Let’s hope Clayton isn’t pulling the strings for them when they visit.

5 4 3 2 1. Birmingham City are go!

5 4 3 2 1. Birmingham City are go!

Finally, the Champions League. David certainly met Goliath last night as Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar travelled to Danish Champions FC Midtjylland for the first leg of their their second qualifying round. There can’t be (m)any Brentford fans unaware that Matthew Benham owns FCM whilst, on a personal note, my own Gibraltarian roots do mean this column is often peppered with references to football life in UEFA newest member.

Indeed, the build up to last night’s game saw the local Gibraltar Chronicle offering Matthew’s Bees a promotion and Premiership place we haven’t, yet, earned.

If only

If only

The final score saw the Danes run out to a narrow 1-0 win, as both Kyle and Lee Casciaro came close for the visitors in the final few minutes. With the return leg to come next week on the Rock, this is anything that the foregone conclusion it looked like when the draw was made.

Could the Gibraltarians cause the shock of the season before league action begins? We’ll keep you posted.

Lincoln Red Imps prepare for kick off

Lincoln Red Imps prepare for kick off

Nick Bruzon

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As ever, should you want to read more about  Brentford  (through the eyes of a supporter) then the amalgamated Last Word compendiums from the last two seasons are available for your kindle. Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14) and Tales from the football village (2014/15) tell the full stories of our promotion and subsequent life in the Championship, through the eyes of a supporter.

Featuring the best of the not so bad columns and some additional, previously unseen material, they’re just another way to get through a few days over the summer as we wait for any more transfer news to be confirmed and the season to start.