Tag Archives: James Bond

When Mrs. Brown has the moral high ground, something is seriously wrong. Star Bores day is here.

4 May

Dear Star Wars fans.

This one’s for you (Brentford v Hull City can wait until tomorrow). Copy, paste and edit. A bit.

I love the same film series (Jar Jar Binks and Yoda aside) as you do and one day look forward to watching these with my son. I still have a Millennium Falcon toy somewhere in that attic although sadly, no original packaging. My now four year old son is being slowly sucked into the film series and is a huge Chewbacca fan. The naughty man still scares him. I’m a bit “m’eh” about the prospect of the forthcoming Han Solo film. Being honest.

As such, I guess I’m a fan. Of sorts. Not in the same ball park as the Roger Moore era of James Bond movies but still a fan. Watching ‘For Your Eyes Only’ last night (ITV4) I was blown away by he deadpan brilliance of the exchange:
“If we could identify that someone….”
“Why don’t you try the identigraph?”

Yet sadly, every year, something happens to make me fall out of love with these films a little bit more (not Bond, for the record).

Today is Friday the fourth of May. Or, as most sane people also know it, Friday the fourth of May. Perhaps the date is best remembered as the anniversary of the Cornwall railway bridge opening, linking Devon and Cornwall. If you need to commemorate the 4/5 at least make it for a significant reason.

Instead Sci-fi geeks and lovers of crap jokery everywhere will, no doubt, be bastardising the date and infecting my social media timeline with the hilarious, wait for it……. ‘May the fourth be with you’ comment.

May the fourth. Be. With. You. It’s funny because it almost sounds like a line from a film. How we laughed.
Even now, writing those horrible, horrible words, I can feel the vomit rising. The gag reflex building. The anger simmering. Not even Mrs. Brown and her boys would stoop to this level of ‘joke’. Probably.

MRS BROWN'S BOYS

How could this happen?

Please – I beg of you – it’s not too late. It’s not funny, it’s not clever, its not original and using this weak, weak pun does not make you into some 21st Century Oscar Wilde or Stephen Fry. It’s the sort of ‘joke’ used by people who find The Krankies or ‘Big Mouth Billy Bass’ ( ‘Take me to the river” – don’t tempt me) the height of cultural sophistication.

So this fourth of May, don’t play into the hands of the Star Wars Marketing board. If you really want to enjoy Star Wars then stick on Return of the Jedi, perhaps fast-forwarding through any Ewok related content.

Just don’t. Make. That. Joke.

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Nick Bruzon

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Brentford remember and Liverpool celebrate (although not all of us join in).

3 May
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Billy (the fish)

Football, eh? Few could deny that last night’s Champions League semi was nothing short of the comic book capers normally found in the likes of Roy of the Rovers or Billy The Fish (is that still a thing)? Every ‘Liverpool in Europe’ bingo cliché was played out as they edged past Roma by the odd goal in 13 to reach the final where they’ll play Real Madrid. There was angst in our house as that one took place (more to come) but, as ever, we can only start with Brentford.

The Premier League dream may be over for this season at Griffin Park but that’s not to say it hasn’t been a busy last few days At least, on social media where there have been a couple of quite significant Brentford reflated anniversaries remembered by the club. And one that hasn’t.

Whilst Liverpool were doing their thing yesterday, in TW8 it was cause for a different kind of celebration. 26 years since Gary Blissett scored that goal at Peterborough. 26 years since Saint and Greavsie were left with huge amounts of ‘egg on face’ after having to retract their premature crowning of Birmingham City as League Champions. I still smile a that one, even now. 26 years since Robbie from Eastenders appeared on the celebration videos. Nice one, Wellard – a better effort than Cameron Diaz.

What a day for Brentford fans. What a night. What a celebration. What a goal from Bliss. The man. The legend. The match highlights appeared yesterday and still seem so fresh – mainly because I think I must have watched them more times than The Spy Who Loved Me (and that’s saying something) over the ensuing years.

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Almost up there with Peterborough

Our more recent generation of fans have, of course, been spoiled by nothing except good times over the last few years. Good luck to them – they’ve got on board the Brentford express at the right station. Yet, at the same time, to be part of a moment such as this when we were, typically, mid table plodders, was nothing short of wonderful. It really was a special moment to have finally achieved that elevation to a higher division.

These days, playing the likes of Leeds united, Wolves, Aston Villa and Birmingham City is the norm (although maybe not next season if things go to plan on Sunday). Back then, to have the opportunity of doing so was a rare and exciting chance. Whilst we won’t talk about what happened next, let’s not deny that getting there was about as good as it gets. Sheer bliss !

The other anniversary was something that fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant tweeted about. Not surprisingly, given a previous role at Doncaster Rovers. Five years ago it happened.. and not in a good way. 

Something, something, something, penalty. If only the media had mentioned this at the time or showed it since.

I’ve seen that crossbar rattler many, many times since – on each occasion thinking that, this time surely, Marcello Trotta would score. This time, perhaps, Kev would manage to hang on to the ball. Yet what I hadn’t noticed previously was the ‘official’ tweet from Doncaster – a team currently residing in the ‘where are they now’ files.

Talk about low key. Not milking the moment. Thanks for sharing that, Ryan. Genuinely. Fair to say that Brentford have had the last laugh.

Yet with all the talk being about Brentford and Doncaster, it seems that people are missing the bigger picture here. Aswell as being five years since that penalty, it was also five years since that awful appearance on Soccer AM. Awful at least in the sense of the Bees supporters, guests on that day’s programme, failing to put away even one effort in the end of show shoot out. A devastatingly bad score of nil points.

Gibbs shirt on Soccer AM

Soccer AM. Even HB made a first, off screen, appearance

I can say this with a clean conscience. Regular readers of these pages (should such a concept exist) may well be familiar with the fact that yours truly was also one of the participants. That each of my own efforts was preceded by stacking it into fellow fan JJ – he of the goal inducing dodgy bladder (whenever he goes to the ablutions block mid-game, Brentford score). That we managed the lowest score of any club that season. Possibly ever. Unless somebody has managed minus points.

It was awful. Humiliating. Typical. Not even Natalie Sawyer could save us. Yet, thanks to another penalty, the memory of that day has become a more abiding one. One we can now look back on that bit easier. Not much, but a bit. Besides, long term it would be fair to say that everything has worked out ok.

Natalie lines up on Soccer AM

Even Natalie had a go

 

Ok, Liverpool in Europe. First and foremost, congratulations. What a night for the neutral. What a night for the fans in Rome and back home at Anfield. It was captivating viewing as an early, seemingly insurmountable, four goal aggregate lead for the Reds was slowly reeled in until they emerged triumphant by the odd goal in 13. Real Madrid await in a final that is sure to be equally captivating.

But following this one at home, there was all sorts of confusion. And, for once, not Glenn Hoddle on BT Sport.

3-7(agg) proclaimed the score. What??  No!! This must be some sort of typo. Don’t get brackets wrong. Granted, it may have been a bit more awkward but shouldn’t this have read:  3-7(seven) (agg) ?

When Radja Nainggolan scored his late penalty to make it 6-7(agg) (sic) I was close to self-combustion. One more goal for Roma and I wouldn’t have been responsible for my actions.

7(seven) – 7(seven) (agg) would have been a scoreline to rival the infamous Forfar 5 East Fife 4  – something that I believe may be an urban legend, although as somebody much wiser than me once opined, “Never ruin a good story with the facts”.

In the end, it wasn’t to be. Instead, simply a case of wishing Liverpool the best of luck in the final. It promises to be a cracker. And, likewise, leaves a few weeks to update that bingo card.

Liverpool bingo

An update for the final awaits: 1981, Real Madrid, 13

Nick Bruzon

 

Will Aston Villa distract Brentford from visit of Leeds United ? Thanks, Sky.

4 Nov

Match day. Brentford host Leeds United in a TV game that sees us with the chance to theoretically move as high as ninth in the table. Subject to the small matter of winning and other results going our way. Yet at a time when we should be looking forward to this prospect or enjoying the result from last night’s game that saw Fulham lose (that’s 3 out of the last 4) at Wolves, instead the words on most supporters lips would seem to be Aston Villa. Or Boxing Day.

Yes, the latest round of TV games have been announced and our game with the Villans on December 26 has been pushed back to a 7.30pm kick. Well thanks, Sky. Don’t do us any favours in allowing an extra 15 minutes afterwards. This, a fixture where Brentford and Aston Villa had already agreed back on June 27th to bring it forward from a 3pm kick to a 2pm start.

The majority of fans are in uproar. One of the most sacred games on the calendar, bumped at the behest of a TV company. There is nothing finer than a Boxing Day lunchtime kick off. Blow out the cobwebs of the previous day, meet up with your friends, take in the match yet still return home in time for ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (although any Roger ‘Bond’ will do), and high tea with the family. And that’s just the home supporters who live locally. Instead, we’ve had this footballing treat snatched away from us.

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Nothing says Boxing Day evening like Roger Moore at his best

The mechanics of Boxing Day travel are bad enough as it is. Let alone leaving Griffin Park at 9.30pm (allowing for any time the referee sees fit to add on for stoppages) to then make your way back into central London for onward travel to Birmingham or beyond. I’ve got friends in my group of close knit fans who live as far a field as the West Country. For them and the Aston Villa supporters it now becomes a logistical nightmare.

Personally I’m lucky in living within a stroll of Griffin Park.Yet even then, plans for a Boxing Day trip with Mrs Bruzon and Harry are now scuppered. It’s past his bedtime and one of us will have to stay at home with him to watch it on TV. Or, out of principal, listen to Mark Burridge . Tickets will need to be returned to the club. I’m sure I’m not alone. Looking around Twitter, there are plenty of fans up in arms about their own plans being ruined and now unable to attend.

Equally, there are some Brentford fans who do welcome the change. It gives a chance to get to the game. To return home from whichever family members they have been with the day before. To them good luck and I’m pleased. However, they would seem to be very much in the minority.

The club haven’t said much on this beyond the formal announcement. Albeit, Chief Executive Mark Devlin has taken time out to note that, short of a health and safety reason, we’ve no choice in this one. His own response to fans on Twitter is that : “Its not about ignoring fans. There is a broadcast contract with which we have to comply. Incidentally, the broadcast fee is £100k…. You need to provide safety reasons for saying no. We cant simply say ‘you can change that game but not that one – it doesnt work that way.”.

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Roy wins Twitter for Friday

I don’t know the terms of the Sky contract. I’d doubt many of us do. But after infuriating supporters last season when our New Years Eve game against Norwich City was shifted to an evening kick off, the broadcaster would seem to have done it again. And if the club really have their hands tied, as would seem to be the case from Mark’s comments, then it is most definitely one downside of playing at this level.

It’s great he takes the time to respond to supporters. Yet many still have questions and are seeking clarity from the club. Do the Bees and Villa really have no choice? I’d love to see Brentford come out and make some sort of formal announcement. In defence of those supporters impacted. To clarify how this works and that it was purely down to the contract. There’s no need to slag off our TV overlords but simply to state a few facts about the reasoning and the choices, if any, behind the decision. Like it or not, many fans are frustrated. If we’ve had our arm twisted then at least save yourselves the social media shitstorm that is kicking off.

Supporters Association BIAS has also jumped straight in with a strong statement, which you can read in full here. Rallying against the broadcaster, it “Deplores Sky’s casual treatment of fans who yet again face difficult journeys at an important time of year for many, for the sake of television fixtures.

The irony of Sky being present for the visit of Leeds United this afternoon has not been lost. Who knows what chants the terrace wags will come up with? What signs might be held up in view of the TV cameras? If only we had job lot of comedy red cards lying around.

As for today’s game, well it presents a fantastic opportunity for Dean Smith and his team. After setting the early pace, Leeds United have fallen away. Yet such was their start they still lie just outside the play-off zone and will no doubt be looking to make a swift return to the promotion pack.

Brentford, on the other hand, are one of the form teams in the country. Unbeaten in eight, the wins have been stacking up and goals have been flying in for fun. 16 points out of the last 24 have seen us push ahead of Fulham, within touching distance of QPR and moving up the table. Wednesday night’s win up at ‘ten times better’ Birmingham City was probably the sweetest of the season.

The mood is buoyant and I only hope supporters can focus on that today. I’m gutted about Aston Villa and the casual disdain Sky seem to have for the people who really count – the supporters.  I’ve already had it in the ear at home from Mrs. B. Even worse, my son said the cruellest words last night – Daddy. I don’t like football.

Hopefully that will change. I’m sure a lot quicker than any decision made by Sky.

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Nick Bruzon

7(seven) and out. Bees keep flying as Blues and Eagles have wings clipped.

1 Oct

It was all about lucky number 7(seven) yesterday. Or not so lucky for some. Brentford finally laid that Middlesbrough hoodoo to rest, Birmingham City came oh-so close to being on the wrong end of a bracketing whilst as for Crystal Palace. Well… With Matthew Benham’s comments on Tuesday night about moaners still fresh in our ears, anybody not overly happy with the Bees may want to look towards Selhurst Park.

But we can only start at the Riverside where the Bees took a first ever Championship point off Middlesbrough after those well documented six, straight losses. Arguably, we could well have returned South with all three. Hats off to the 332 supporters who made the long shlep up to the Riverside. Oh to have had the opportunity to be amongst them. Instead, it was their social media updates, commentary and the Sky Sports scrolly thing for those all important goal scores.

What can you say? Wow. 2-2 and genuine disappointment not to have got the win seem to be the order of the day. Chris Mepham followed up his midweek appearance with a full 90 minutes alongside opening goal scorer Yoann Barbet. The common consensus was of another rock solid performance and a potential star in the making. If they’re good enough, they’re old enough (or whatever the phrase is). What could have been a baptism of fire has shown once more the talent pool bubbling away under the surface of the B-team. Get it wrong as we did against Norwich in the cup, and overloading a team with newbies can be a disaster. Do it right and we get a wonderful glimpse of the future.

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A full league debut to remember for Chris

Twice Brentford took the lead. Twice Middlesbrough hauled it back to level things up. Ollie Watkins scored again, aswell as setting up the first. Yoann, Chris and captain (for the last quarter) Daniel Bentley were amongst those to later express their disappointment at not quite hanging on for the win. Perhaps, but just getting the psychological monkey of unbeatable Middlesbrough off the back can only be a wonderful thing. Putting in another performance that sees us creeping up the table with five points out of the last nine can only be a huge stride in the right direction for this season.

As ever, Sky Sports have the immediate highlights and you can catch them here. As ever, Mark Burridge will provide a much better flavour once the mid-day embargo is lifted.

Sadly, no comms but plenty of passion on pitch.

So great chances, great creation and more penalties denied. We certainly don’t get the run with the refs. Talking this morning to one terrace wag who had made the trip she noted, “I thought they looked better yesterday in terms of intention and actual likelihood to score. Rather than chances that aren’t chances.

The real challenge now is turning these performances into wins. There can’t be many amongst us who wouldn’t have taken five points if offered them at 2.59 last Saturday before we kicked off against Bolton. I would have. That win, followed by the draw with Derby and yesterday’s result all well and good. The one word of caution being that the Bees are very much the divisional draw specialists . Only Fulham and Bristol City (5) come close to our 6 from 11. Even looking further afield in the Football league we are still top of the draw table.

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Yoann – thought we should have got more

Next up, International break. Hopefully a chance for Andreas, Sergi and Lasse to get back to fitness. A hope that the injury which saw Rico Henry leave the field of play early isn’t as bad as feared. Whilst Josh Clarke filled in ably at left back, Tom Field is now tied in at Bradford until Christmas. Could we be dipping back into that B-team once more?

And then, back to back home games. Visits from Millwall and Sunderland are, on paper, a chance for Brentford to further continue that climb up the table. Of locking down that Championship status for a fifth season. For all our improving form we are still just a point above Birmingham City who still reside in the basement zone. Turning form and performance into clear air will only be a good thing.

As for Birmingham, well we’ve had a bit more of an interest in them than normal on these pages in recent weeks. For obvious reasons. And yesterday saw their brave new world further hit the skids as Hull City put six goals past the hapless Blues defence. I won’t deny bristling with anticipation as, at 6-0 down, another goal was reported for the KC stadium. Sadly, it wasn’t the bracket busting 7(seven) for Hull but, instead, a proverbial consolation. But it does show what a difference GD could make with the Blues (-12) Burton (-17) and Bolton (-18) effectively another point behind the Bees (-2).

Will the Bees compete at this level for a fifth season? Could Birmingham avoid a slide into League One. Will Crystal Palace be joining us in the Championship next campaign? Should the Bees keep on heading up the table then we are likely to be joined by the Eagles. Despite a change of manager, yesterday’s 4-0 loss at Manchester United sees their Premier League record for the 2017/18 campaign read:

P7 W0 D0 L7 Goals For 0 Goals Against 17 GD -17.

A record of 0-0-7(seven) with no goals scored is the stuff of nightmares. And James Bond puns. Next up, a visit from Chelsea. Should the Eagles mange to make the net ripple, I can only assume it will be very much a Victor Tourjansky moment.

However bad Brentford fans think we may have it at times, there’s always somebody worse off.

And then some…

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And Palace have scored…. Victor Tourjansky does his thing

Nick Bruzon

With Brentford in a Field of Dreams (sorry) here’s one turkey from Christmas past before Cardiff on Boxing Day.

24 Dec

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all that. Brentford are preparing to host Cardiff City (for whom Sol Bamba – a terrace songsmith’s dream if there was one – will be missing) whilst Rangers fans will be crying into their sprouts at the prospect of no Jota under the tree. As for Matthew Benham, will he be the beneficiary of a £15million gift from West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa or even Reading in the New Year sales? This, of course, being the current suggested rate for a Scott Hogan.

Reading have probably got more chance of picking up Hulk Hogan than Scott. Why would he need to even consider going there? Besides, with the Royals already baulking at the prospect of having to pay £9million (as has been reported in the Birmingham Mail), adding another 6 to that is going to be well beyond their particular ball park.

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There’s more chance of Hulk than Scott

That is if we even sell in the forthcoming window. Eventually, of course, it will happen. Nobody is that naive whilst the simple mathematics of ‘one club players’ so rarely being a thing these days make it inevitable at some point. Yet in the short term, the tantalising prospect of seeing him and a returning Jota on the same pitch is one I’m still holding out hope for in the second half of this season.

Still, all that is to come. We have the festive games against Cardiff and Norwich City to before that. Scott will surely be the first name on the team sheet (unless he has a sick relative), closely followed by Tom Field. The left back “delighted” at having just signed a contract extension that will see him at Griffin Park until 2020.

For all that Scott is doing it at one end, few could deny the wonderful start that Tom has had to his own Brentford career. From a home debut agasint Fulham where his call up was so unexpected that even supporters were asking ‘Who?‘ when they saw his name on the team sheet, to a recent run in the side as Dean has switched to a three centre back system supported by Tom and Maxime Colin. It is no coincidence that we are yet to concede a goal in the League whilst Tom has been on the pitch.

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Tom in a field of dreams. A pun so bad we made it twice

Prior to all of that we have Christmas day ahead of us. Preparations here are remarkably under control with all shopping done (for once). Already I’m dreading that Columbo moment around 3pm when Mrs Bruzon asks for “ Just one more thing…..” from a by then heaving, and empty shelved, supermarket. So until that happens, here’s one we’ve run before but probably deserves another airing.

It is a story that, if being honest, I had completely forgotten about until an article in The Times a few years ago from none other than Mark Clemmit.

Mark, of course, is better known as Clem, the ever popular roving reporter for BT Sport and formerly of the BBC Football League Show. There, his own performance was the subject of a season long analysis in 2014/15 as to whether there is any support for many supporters’ long held belief that he ‘jinxes’ whichever team he follows. Specifically, that the team covered by the man with the mic that week would, at best, pick up a point. Indeed, by season end Clem teams had only tasted victory 7(seven) times out of 30

But we digress. The jinx factor aside, it is fair to say that Clem remains an endearing and well-respected pundit. Aswell as his TV work he has also been a prolific writer over the years and it was for the aforementioned paper that he chose to talk about Brentford a few years back. Or, specifically, what we tried at Christmas 1983

To me, 1983 doesn’t seem that long ago. Knight Rider, Blackadder and the A-Team graced our TV screens whilst big hits at the cinema included Return of the Jedi and Octopussy. On the football pitch, Stan Bowles was strutting his stuff for The Bees whilst Bob Booker was halfway through his first spell at Griffin Park.

That said, given as Bob made his final appearance for us in 1993 that doesn’t really narrow it down, such was the three-decade spanning length of his Brentford career. Even Roger Moore only lasted as Bond for 12 years although for all that I love his time in the role, even I have to step back in slight disbelief at the image, from the official movie poster, of 007 casually standing on the tail of a speeding aeroplane as he tosses a bad guy to his doom.

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Roger’s wing walking (top left) a highlight of 1983

But the point being that, to me at least, 1983 still seems very vivid in the mind’s eye. As such, I was intrigued by the gem that Clem had unearthed, pertaining to Brentford’s Christmas fixture list. The ever-progressive club had, at one point, looked to revive an old festive tradition and arrange our game with Wimbledon for 11am on December 25th.

It seems madness now but not as crazy as the reasoning, given out by the Press Officer at the time. It was an attempt to get back to, and I quote, “The old idea of men going to football whilst ladies stayed at home to cook the turkey”.

Seriously? Was this just Clem having a joke at the expense of Brentford fans? Seemingly not. A quick trawl of the interweb reveals this gem elsewhere whilst, more importantly, it is directly referenced in the excellent “100 years of Brentford” book.

After protests from both sets of fans the game was rearranged for Christmas Eve and we promptly lost 3-4 in front of 6,689 fans.

Their numbers, presumably, bolstered by women who had been unchained from their cookers.

Here’s hoping for a better result on Monday against Cardiff City. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Bustin’ makes me feel bad. Will Saturday be more Riley than Winkleman?

4 Mar

Brentford take on Charlton this Saturday, hoping for more of the same after cruising to a 3-0 victory at the Valley back in October. That result saw Addicks manager Guy Luzon, erm,  losing his job immediately afterwards and the Bees put in as one sided a performance as we’ve seen all season – even moreso than Wolves last Tuesday .

It was a game which had been completely at odds with Luzon’s first matchin charge of Charlton, their 3-0 win over Brentford that came at the height of last season’s Village-gate affair. That was a woeful performance from the Bees which, despite Warbs denial at the time, seemed to suggest a squad in disarray with just one thing – their manager’s future – as a point of focus. Thankfully, the Bees picked themselves up from that and confounded the expectations of most onlookers to make the play-offs. Where normal service resumed .

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Last season, Village gate saw a real low at Charlton

And, of course, we couldn’t take this briefest of looks at recent encounters without a nod to Tommy Smith. It was he whose late equaliser secured a point in our first ever Championship game – the season opener at Griffin Park back in August 2014. How the place erupted and then gasped as Alan Judge almost stole a late winner, hitting the crossbar with a freekick taken deep in Saunders Territory.

So in 18 months our three games have turned out as D,L and W. What will it be on Saturday?

Dean Smith spoke yesterday in an article on the official site where they did their wonderful trick of warming us up for the quote by giving us the quote, noting: Dean said the only target for the team between now and the end of the season is to win as many matches as possible. If anybody was in any doubt, the next line proved this as readers were advised, “We don’t want to target this or that but our aim is just to finish as high as we can and to win as many games as we can,” said Dean.

Dean went on to add that he hoped to “get that winning mentality back” . It looked like that might happen after the Wolves game before normal service resumed at Rotherham United. 2 wins out of 11 in 2016 are a poor run for Dean and I would question that to get something back, does he not have to have had it in the first instance ?

Then again, if we play like we did against Wolves anything is possible whilst Charlton’s confidence must be as low as that of the team behind the forthcoming Ghostbusters movie. The trailer for this being universally panned upon release yesterday and the unfunniest thing I had the misfortune to sit through all week. At least, until I saw Claudia Winkleman standing in for everbody’s favourite mathematical model, Rachel Riley, on ‘8 out of 10 cats does Countdown’ last night.

How can it be THIS bad?

Still, it has been a week generally filled with more disappointment than a post match press conference for the development squad (whatever the score, the interviewee always seems ‘disappointed’). Ghostbusters and Winkleman aside,  Saturday saw that game at Rotherham United whilst Sunday saw the worst ever James Bond theme, Sam Smith’s title track from the otherwise excellent Spectre, pick up an Oscar. This, an effort so bad it had ousted Madonna’s ‘Die another day’ from the bottom of the ‘Best Bond’ list yet here it was being honoured in the most public of fashions.

Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. As Dean Smith would recognise, performances don’t always get what they are due. Let’s just hope that tomorrow we do what, honestly, we should. With a trip to Loftus Road the following weekend, we need everybody brim full of confidence.

Fingers crossed that Saturday is more Rachel Riley than Claudia Winkleman.

The brentford mathematical model final

artists impression of a mathematical model etc etc

Nick Bruzon

QPR, tick. Next stop Chelsea. Can Bees ‘do a Bournemouth’?

1 Nov

Sunday morning and Brentford fans are still basking in the afterglow of Friday night’s 1-0 win over hapless QPR. Lovely though it is to enjoy that moment (along with further West London ineptitude over at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho took his post Liverpool press conference to a new level of bonkers), it did leave Saturday feeling a bit empty. With no Championship action for us until the visit of Moses Odubajo and Hull City on Tuesday, we’ve had to wait for the other teams to play their ‘game in hand’

To be quite honest, I let it pass me by. There was a new James Bond film to go and watch. Daniel Craig may not be Roger Moore (then again, who is?) but ‘Spectre’ more than lives up to all the plaudits it has received to date. With enough ‘knowing winks’ to the predecessors in the series, we were only a Victor Tourjansky and a decent theme song away from being the best ‘Bond’ to date.

Victor Tourkansky examines the league tables

Victor Tourkansky examines the league tables

So it was only this morning that I’ve properly taken stock of all that happened on Saturday. Hull City won again to lock up second place but, equally, Brentford remain just four points off the play off spaces themselves with everybody now on level games played. It certainly adds an extra level of frisson to an encounter between two teams who, like it or not, it seems were only ‘discussing’ the transfers of Moses and Andre Gray (how did that work out for you, Steve?) only five minutes ago.

There’s no point crying over it. We are where we are. Players have gone but, infact, Brentford have only improved. Whilst I still find that somewhat bizarre given our start, all due praise must be offered to reluctant hero Lee Carsley.

Looking at the table, the Bees have 20 points after 14 games and sit in 11th place. This time last campaign, we were 13th with 19 points. Of course, last time out we then embarked on that stunning run to the play offs and almost an automatic slot. As such, Lee is going to need to do his very best to keep the momentum going and match pace with what Warbs achieved.

That said, if he can then the rewards could be beyond all expectation. If we thought last season was amazing then this could be even more incredible. Not just promotion but, equally, the chance to be the best team in West London. It wasn’t for nothing I mentioned the horror show at Chelsea earlier.

With their side seemingly in self-destruct mode, they are only four points off relegation to the Championship with almost a third of the Premier League season played out. Indeed, a win for Bournemouth today could see the Stamford Bridge outfit pushed down to 16th.

And this is mentioned because, however unlikely, in football anything can happen. Bournemouth proved last season that it is possible for a small team to achieve the impossible – even in these days of big spending and even bigger debts. Conversely, recent relegation for Newcastle United and Champions League qualification stuff up for Manchester United show that nobody is infallible – no matter the size of their reputation or bank balance.

Eddie Howe was the benchmark for success last campaign

Eddie Howe was the benchmark for success last campaign

I can’t imagine, honestly, that Chelsea will go down. But they’ve not been this abject in many a season. And should it happen, then the likes of Brentford, Fulham and even QPR will all be chomping at the bit to leap frog them into the Premier League.

Even better, the chance to be true kings of West London football.

Laugh it up all you want, but the current tables and current form don’t lie. The Bees are on a roll and I can’t wait for Tuesday night to see how much further that might go.

Nick Bruzon

“Is there anything he cannot do”? Judge inspires brilliant Bees

25 Oct

Not my words but those of Channel 5 ‘Football League tonight’ commentator Paul Walker to describe Alan Judge. That, after Charlton Athletic had been walloped 3-0 by a resurgent Brentford team for whom the Irishman, as last weekend, was chief destroyer. With two assists and a goal that sent Charlton to another defeat (and saw their head coach Luzon his job at full time), it’s no wonder that clubs such as Swansea City and Bournemouth are rumoured to be interested in a player who is very much our man of the moment.

Those present at The Valley witnessed, the first fifteen minutes aside, as dominant a performance from Brentford as one could hope for away from home. Being quite honest, Charlton had more than enough chances to have taken an insurmountable lead during an opening spell that saw them cut us open like a hot knife through a Swiss cheese.

Simon Makienok, coming over like a cross between Max Zorin and Andy Carroll, won’t enjoy watching the play back of that one. Thankfully, rather than a goal hungry Bond villain, we were looking at somebody with the finishing skills and positional awareness of Nick Proschwitz. And having failed to take their opportunities, Charlton paid the ultimate price.

Max Zorin - crowbarred excuse

Max Zorin – crowbarred excuse

The first for the Bees came via the head of John Swift. That man Judge sending over an inch perfect cross from the right which the on loan Chelsea midfielder made no mistake with. It was all made to look far too easy thanks to the precision of the delivery and the technique used to connect. But better was still to come.

Alan McCormack, but for a couple of inches, would have had a contender for goal of the season. Running onto a pass from Marco Djuricin, he hit it first time from 25 yards, only to see it rebound off the underside of the stanchion. It had the away crowd on their feet, cheering a certain goal as Stephen Henderson was left flapping at air. Alas, it wasn’t to be, but if the first half saw Brentford end on top and with a slender lead, things continued to accelerate in the second.

Judge turned from provide to poacher, curling a beauty past Henderson from the corner of the box for 2-0 to send Bees fans bonkers. It was a finish to rival the best of any he has scored and will only highlight further the talent this man has. Judge has always been quality but the step up in his game this season, when all around have struggled at times, only gives more evidence as to why the likes of Bournemouth and Swansea are being linked with him.

I love Lee Carsley’s approach. Rather than sit on 2-0, Brentford carried on pushing. Lasse Vibe made it three, becoming another beneficiary of Judge’s perfect delivery. DHL could learn a lot from this man, such was the quality. Picking up the cross-field ball, Vibe beat Henderson at his near post from just inside the box to wrap things up with minutes left on the clock.

Not even Brentford could cock it up from here” said one terrace wag and, sure enough, we didn’t. At one point it looked as though Harlee might even have made it four, coming close with his head from a dead ball.

View from the stand - Harlee almost makes it four

View from the stand – Harlee almost makes it four

Judge will, rightly, get the headlines but what pleased me so much was the all round team performance. Nico Yennaris looked assured at right back whilst Jake Bidwell continued to probe down the left. Ryan Woods’ vision and passing looks like he will be another with the potential to play at a higher level whilst Alan McCormack bossed the midfield.

Even David Button had one of his ‘heart in mouth’ sweeper moments that saw him break out of goal to round not one but two Charlton players before playing it out. Rush of blood to the head or just further evidence of the confidence sweeping through this team?

Nine points, 7 (seven) goals scored, just one against and two clean sheets from our last three games show that whatever had been bothering the camp (don’t start…) now seems a distant memory. Lee Carsley has the players enjoying their football and, as importantly, so are the fans.

The goals were stunning, as was the vast majority of the performance. Even the Beesplayer team hit all the right notes – but then any commentary which includes a denouncement of Mexican waves and supporter bands will only ever meet with approval.

Great comms, as ever, from Mark Burridge

I feel for Charlton, genuinely. Nobody likes to see a team in this predicament and I’d thoroughly recommend a read of the Charltonaesthetic blog, to give a beautifully worded account of things from their perspective. If this page is the cheap knock off, then ‘aesthetic’ is very much the Bayeux tapestry of football wordsmithery (is that even a word?)

A disgraced Luzon crabs in and out of his hiding cave like an insidious Megadrive villain….. As the crowd stand and boo the decision, a collective consciousness drops and we realise we’re all embroiled in the Roland Prison Experiment. Left in charge, how far out of control will Luzon’s radical decisions spiral? What lengths will fans go to protecting fellow inmates Charlton from further harm? It’s a dastardly scheme for sure.”

That’s a talent in writing I can only admire, so please do go and enjoy the full article.

The players were in jubilant mood on social media after the game, most of who were bigging up Alan. Yes, he deserves every plaudit but so do all the others.

Harlee, Tarks, Lasse and the rest of you. Thanks for a great day out and reminding us just how good this team can be

Now, if we could just do the same on Friday night…..

Back to school for Charlton - but not at a water based college

Back to school for Charlton – but not at a water based college

Nick Bruzon

A Long journey South as Bees capitulate at Turf Moor

23 Aug

Whilst Brentford may be anything from £6.5m – to £10m better off (depending on what you read) this weekend, points-wise we were left very much empty handed after going down 1-0 at Burnley. And it was a win, I’m afraid to say, that Burnley very much deserved from where I was sitting (the away stand at Turf Moor).

The action is about to begin at turf Moor - and doesn't more turf look great?

The action is about to begin at Turf Moor – and doesn’t more turf look great?

Being quite honest, one first half chance for Lasse Vibe aside, all the Andre Grays in the world would have made no real difference to Brentford. Don’t put this loss down to his absence. We were so obsessed with passing the ball backwards and sideways between the defence and goalkeeper, it is no wonder the stats showed such high pass completion or 62% possession.

Hanging on to the ball at the back is all well and good, and we did that part very well, but the lack of any imagination, movement, cut and/or thrust when we tried to take it forward was, ultimately, what did for us. At 0-0 away from home this works but having conceded such a simple goal from a set piece, where Philipp Hoffman failed to get his man, something needed to change. And it didn’t.

The introduction of Maxime Colin and switch of Alan McCormack to centre mid was certainly a start. The new right back has already won over plenty of fans based on his display and it was easy to see why. The problem is that it was too little, too late. Equally, Marinus almost had his hands tied given the sudden dearth of midfield options as a result of recent transfer activity and injury.

The style of football we were looking to play was just too static, too slow and bereft of any sense of urgency. Burnley hardly pushed us but then they had no need to. Being fair, up to the point of the Vibe chance, where he made a magnificent run onto a beautiful through ball from Kerschbaumer, we’d probably been the better of two cagey sides.

Certainly Marinus, in his interview with BBC Billy Reeves, deemed it our best passage of play since he has been here. But then Burnley scored from the simplest of set pieces and, with Brentford unable to step it up, the home side looked comfortable.

This was the sort of game crying out for a Sam Sanders, Jota or Moses to pick up the ball and run at this opposition. Our current run of form with injuries certainly hasn’t helped the cause, that’s for sure, but its no excuse. There were still plenty of good enough players out there but our obsession with sideways passing (something I thought had died with the departure of Jonathan Douglas) was what ultimately did for Brentford.

Positives included the debut of Max Colin (somebody whose name constantly puts me in mind of Christopher Walken’s character from Roger Moore’s final Bond effort, ‘A View to a Kill’) at right back and the ability to switch Alan Mac to centre mid. I thought Harlee and Tarks looked very solid at the back whilst the former added additional threat up top when we finally started to ‘go for it’ in the final five minutes. The pitch was immaculate whilst, points wise, we are in the same position after three games as we were last season.

Max Zorin - crowbarred excuse

Max Zorin – better placed at Turf…Moore ??

Those BBC stats also show we had 7(seven) shots, including 4 on target. There was Lasse’s chance, Alan Judge came close with a free kick and a slow-mo effort from The Hoff in the first half that almost fooled everybody except Tom Heaton in the Burnley goal. However, other than that I struggle to recall him being overly stretched.

Look. It wasn’t a great performance and I do have to wonder about the choice of tactics that seemed, for all the world, to be the mark of a side a side playing for a 0-0 or hoping to snatch something on the break. It’s a shame we didn’t have the courage to play more open football as the Kerschbaumer pass to Vibe showed how easily the opposition could be opened up, with the right movement.

Likewise a few more crosses, had Philipp Hoffman got into second gear to try and meet those that were delivered, would always have been welcome.

The flipside is that we are only three games into a new season and have both a new head coach and a new look squad. Our cause hasn’t been helped by horrendous bad luck when it comes to injury whilst, and you have to remember, Brentford don’t have a divine right to win every game.

Perhaps it is more a commentary on how far we have come and how quickly that we can be genuinely disappointed about losing a game in the Championship. To a team that were gracing the Premiership last season. It wasn’t so long ago that a trip up North was to the likes of Tranmere Rovers, who lost 0-2 at home to Boreham Wood in the conference yesterday, so some perspective is definitely needed.

Talking to Burnley fans before and after the game, word on the street is that the Bees were looking at a loan for Chris Long, as part of the deal that took Andre to Burnley. Interestingly, he played no part in proceedings yesterday and so one does have to wonder if there is any truth in that?

Brentford fans know just what he can do when the ball is in that final third of the field and Chris would be a great acquisition if we could get hold of him. But, equally, why would Burnley have bought the player in the first instance only to then immediately ‘get rid’?

Chris Long - could he be back again?

Chris Long – could he be back again?

Marinus, in the aforementioned interview with Billy, denied any definitive attempt so far to make a move on anybody but, equally, acknowledged that it was as position we need to cover. You can catch that in full, here.

Off field, those of us able to get back in time might have caught ‘Football League Tonight’ on Channel 5. With the show now in week three, the car crash that was the season opener seems an eternity ago as further changes were in evidence upon catching up with that today.

Only Adam Virgo and the awkward looking audience remain from those elements so heavily criticised in the season opener. Even the kebab shop poles that housed the 70’s style ‘league ladders’ have now been replaced by a 21st Century computer graphic showing the Championship table.

A compute graphic now replaces a kebab shop skewer

A compute graphic now replaces a kebab shop skewer

I understand that Channel 5 need to try and be different but, equally, they need to give the audience what they want. Well done for changing so much, so quickly.

They’ve made a decision to stick with the audience that hang around like a bunch of spare parts and so I can only imagine that is here to stay. You know what? I kind of like that aspect now. It still isn’t up to the package put together by Sky but for ‘terrestrial’ viewers, Kelly Cates and George Riley are starting to steam up the blind side.

Let’s hope Brentford can do the same thing next time out at home to Reading.

And as a side note, anybody wanting another, very interesting, insight on the Andre Gray transfer and cost would do well to check out Billy The Bee’s latest Beesotted article. It makes for an intriguing read…

Billy The Bee - Mr Grant asking the right questions, as ever

Billy The Bee – Mr Grant has a great take on events

Nick Bruzon

Matthew Benham (and Luis) make a great weekend even better

9 Feb

It would be fair to say that yesterday’s article attracted a mixed bag of comment from the Leeds United fans after their side had gone down 1-0 to fourth placed Brentford. Some of it fair and sporting; other parts evoking the spirit of John from Wolves (a frequent visitor to these pages last campaign).

That’s football – we all have an opinion and the multitude of options available in cyberspace make it all the easier for us to express it.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

A fair point. But twitter would get even better

A fair point. But twitter would get even better

Fat fingered spelling aside, this sounds great

Fat fingered spelling aside, this sounds great (and seems popular)