Tag Archives: Jamie Bates

King Kev the Eighth. Will you be a part of history on Saturday?

21 Oct

Kevin O’Connor. Is there nothing he can’t do? With Brentford approaching our 4,000th league game this Saturday, the home encounter with Barnsley, many of us just coming in from work last night (or who had been home in the morning) would have received a letter from the great man himself.

We all know Kevin as Mr. Brentford. A ‘one club’ man who made 501 appearances between January 2000 and August 2014. A man who is fourth in the club’s all time appearance list(behind Ken Coote, Jamie Bates and Peter Gelson). A man who is still with the club, as B Team Head Coach. This, having taken up the role after Flemming Pedersen left during the week to take over as Technical Director of FC Nordsjælland in Denmark.

Kevin even judged the first ever ‘Last Word’ caption competition back in the fledgling days of these pages. That, a picture featuring himself and Simon Moore, saw Iain Roswell earn himself a Buzzette mug with the line: “After last year’s success of London 2012, there was a massive disappointment with the anniversary games.”

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He’s done just about everything at Griffin Park, short of taking the microphone from Peter Gilham to announce Scott Hogan as a goalscorer – sponsored by Siracusa. It’s a little Italian restaurant by Brentford lock. And that, I would pay good money to hear.

But in addition to all of this, Kevin clearly holds sway as a club  figurehead. And rightly so. Certainly one of the nicest footballers I’ve had the pleasure to meet, something that can’t be a unique feeling to yours truly.

So it was a timely reminder, if one were needed, to receive the letter telling us that you can still buy tickets for Saturday’s 4,000th with Barnsley. More to the point, that Season Ticket holders can pick up extras for just £10 each via the online ticket site.

If you’re reading this and know somebody who might want to come along, it’s £10. £10. Ten pounds. That’s not even three pints these days. For the chance to see Brentford make another thrust for the play-offs. For the chance to be a part of history and say “I was there” for game 4,000.

4,000. Just to put that into context, it means Kevin (and Peter Gelson, who will also be in attendance) have both played in pretty much an eighth of our entire history. A quarter of every Brentford league game, ever, between them.

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To quote one regular correspondent, RebelBee: “Saturday is huge, both for the occasion and the chance to move into the play off places. It’s another tough game and we need to fill GP and give the same vocal support we’ve seen on the road this past few days”.

And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, don’t forget that singer Annelies (who has already sung ‘Hey, Jude, prior to the 4-1 demolition of Reading) will be back at Griffin Park. As ‘official’ tell us, “ The Voice contestant and University of West London student performed ‘Hey Jude’ pre-match before our win against Reading last month and now returns for our half-time show against Barnsley on Saturday 22 October.  Tweet us your requests at BrentfordFC and she’ll choose the best two”.

I can’t believe I’ve missed that one and, surely, it is now too late? Or is it? I’d love to hear her covering The Quo.

As if Saturday isn’t going to be special enough already….

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Annelies was at Griffin Park for the Reading game.

Nick Bruzon

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From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

Money can’t necessarily buy you success. Of course, at Brentford having the sort of finances available to the likes of the teams at the top end of the Premier League is just a pipe dream. Yet it made last night’s results all the more interesting as this most captivating of top flight seasons continued. Despite their mega-millions, Manchester City (at mid-table Liverpool) and Arsenal (hosting relegation candidates Swansea) both lost against opposition they’d have been expected, on paper, to breeze past.

The flip side to this is that when you are operating on a reduced budget, unearthing that game changing player is a truly joyful experience. And this is where Brentford come into the equation. The previous column looked at, amongst other things, the FourFourTwo magazine survey on your club’s ‘cult hero’ over the top four divisions.

It is genuinely a fascinating read (my own contribution aside) with the results, being published on-line now showing clubs A-M. Starting with Accrington Stanley, it has so far gone through Brentford, along with the aforementioned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to the point they had, at the time of writing, got as far as Morecambe.

So few of these players are the big money signings making the headlines today but each have their special place amongst the fans. And the reason for mentioing this again was, specifically, the chance to talk a bit more about Brentford. Or, rather, our own nominee – Gary Blissett.

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All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

Given the constraints of the Four FourTwo site, somebody like Bliss (not to mention those who ran him close when the question was put out there on Facebook last month) deserved more than the 100-150 words available. So here is the full, unexpurgated version.

Gary Blissett – cult hero

Where do you start when looking for a cult hero? For a team like Brentford, where the trophy cabinet is more an aspiration than anything else, most people outside of TW8 probably know us for the sort of thing that would make TV’s “What happened Next…?” rather than the record books.

Goalkeeper Chic Brodie having his career ended by a runaway dog. Millwall fans throwing a hand grenade onto the pitch (November 1965, for the record). The failed takeover bid by QPR that would have seen Brentford cease to exist and our bitterest rivals move into Griffin Park. Eight play-off defeats out of eight (the least successful of all English teams when reaching football’s ‘final four’).

Then, of course, there was ‘that penalty’ in the final minute of the final game of 2012/13. A winner takes all encounter with promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers.

Only one team could make it to the Championship and, with the scores locked at 0-0, the Bees were awarded a 90th minute spot kick. The subsequent tussle for the ball involving club captain Kevin O’Connor (approaching his 500th game), and Marcello Trotta (on loan from Fulham, of all places) is one as familiar as the Italian’s subsequent effort thudding off the crossbar and, with Bees players prostrate on the ground in despair, our opponents going down the other end where they scored to secure promotion and the title.

That’s how we do things at Griffin Park. Glorious failure being as familiar a taste as the pre-match hot dog. Yet when we do win things, it makes them all the sweeter. Every now and again it happens. And even when we don’t, we still have a lot of fun along the way. Thanks, largely, to those figures you’d label as Cult Heroes.

Big John O’Mara who, in his first season, scored 25 goals in 40 games. Centre back Peter Gelson, who made 471 appearances in a Griffin Park career that stretched from 1960 to 1975. The legendary Jim Towers and George Francis aka The Terrible Twins. Playing together for most of the 1950s, they still remain (respectively) the club’s first and second highest all time goal scorers.

Hard as nails players such as Terry Hurlock, Terry Evans and Martin Grainger.

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

Those who just seemed to exude personality and had the crowd eating out of their hand – Allan Cockram, Lloyd Owusu and Marcus Gayle (just don’t sing that song near your granny).

Modern day heroes including Jota – the last minute goal being his own personal calling card. Toumani Diagouraga – “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the Ealing Road. He’d last done it in March 2013 and we had to sit through another 111 games without him troubling the scorers before he was sold to Leeds at the end of January. Less than 40 minutes into his full debut….

Or how about Sam Saunders? The perma-tanned wing wizard (and former tube worker) so beloved of fans that most would allow him to ‘have relations’ with their wives, if the terrace chant is to be believed.

But when it comes down to it, there can be only one winner. The moustachioed legend that is Gary Blissett. aka ‘Bliss’.

79 goals from 223 league appearances (105 from 291 total) in a 6 year career from 1987-1993 don’t even tell half the story. His brace against boyhood heroes Manchester City in the 1988-89 FA Cup fourth round sent Griffin Park into meltdown as the Bees earned a 3-1 passage into the fifth round. There, Bliss repeated the feat as his late pair at Blackburn Rovers helped Brentford to a deserved 2-0 win. Sadly it wasn’t to be in an Anfield quarter final as the Bees bowed out despite giving all-conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads) an almighty scare.

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Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

His defining goal was probably the final game of the 91/92 season. With the Bees having won the previous five on the spin, including a 4-0 demolition of Fulham, we travelled to Peterborough knowing a win and some good fortune could make the impossible, possible.

Bliss was the man who popped up with a first half header as we then sat through an awful lot of ‘squeaky bum time’ for a famous 1-0 win. With other results going our way, including a shock defeat for a Birmingham City side that Saint & Greavsie had earlier congratulated on TV for winning the League, we snuck up the blind side and became Champions. Sometimes, it happens.

Gary was an ever present the following season as, despite the sale of strike partner Dean Holdsworth, his goals almost kept us in English football’s second tier.

But there was more to Gary than short shorts, a luxuriant ‘tache and goals, goals, goals.

A wannabe goalkeeper, he was the man who donned the gloves during a Championship game with Southend United after injury, and no spare on the bench, meant we got to enjoy that wonderful moment where an outfield player goes between the posts. Bliss promptly ignored every piece of advice being shouted to him by youth ‘keeper Ashley Bayes and kept a clean sheet.

But it was his red card at Craven Cottage after what we will politely call a ‘coming together’ with Fulham ‘keeper Jim Stannard that is a moment as popular with Bees’ fans as that goal at Peterborough. Bliss left the field to a standing ovation in a game that showed us the West London derby meant as much to the players as the supporters.

All the money in the bank can’t buy a player like Bliss. The £60,000 we paid Crewe back in 1987, even now, still seems like the bargain of the century.

Like Marcus Gayle and Allan Cockram, Bliss still visits Griffin Park. Catching up with him briefly in the week, he told me, “ I follow every game and after my beloved City Brentford are of course the team I want to see succeed more than any other team or club in the world.

I am sure MB will have Plan B, C, D and more and will one day be playing at The Ethiad IN THE LEAGUE

For those amongst us feeling slightly down about things on the pitch this year, these are surely words to put your trust in. If a demi-God such as Bliss believes, then that’s all the inspiration we need .

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

Nick Bruzon

Putting the ‘beautiful’ back into our game. THIS is why I love my club

23 Dec

What can you say? Brentford have done it again. With most fans looking forward to the Boxing Day clash with Brighton, Tuesday night saw the focus on our Junior Bees as Griffin Park opened its gates for their now annual ‘Meet the players Christmas party.’ And, as ever, Brentford showed just what a great family club we are.

The squad was out in force signing ‘player cards’, posing for photographs and taking part in all manner of football related activities. Also present were Buzz and Buzzette, along with chairman Cliff Crown.

But it was the attitude that really impressed me. To a man, they were nothing but absolutely welcoming to our young fans (along with mums and dads) when, being honest, they may well have preferred to be sat indoors in front of Holby City on what was a wet and windy evening.

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A very happy two year old

To put on an event of this nature so close to Christmas shows, yet again, what a fantastic family environment we have at Griffin Park. The players and all others involved in the set up were an absolute credit to the club.

It’s very easy to criticise and, at times this season, I have done. However, even the most Scrooge-like amongst us could only have been impressed by what happened last night. For a team knocking on the door of the Premier League (and with the Bees just two points outside the play-off zone, we all know how significant a win over Brighton at the weekend could be), it was so refreshing to see how down to earth Brentford remain.

The sport has, rightly at times, come into much criticism for having a reputation of avaricious greed whilst Messrs Platini and Blatter are hardly portraying the beautiful game in a beautiful light at present. Yet what happened at Griffin Park was a wonderful check to remind us what is at the heart of football.

Great job all round – and THANK YOU. If nothing else, I’ve now got a son who worships Buzzette. Not bad compared to this time last year.

HB and Buzzette xmas 2014 2015

Left – December 2014. Right – December 2015

The other news of note was the fantastic ‘wall of fame’ that has sprung up behind the Braemar Road stand. I know Bournemouth did something similar a few seasons back and I’d always thought this might be a nice touch if we could make our own attempt.

Well, we have, and I have to say it looks absolutely stunning. Do get along early on Saturday for a look. Honouring players from Jimmy Jay via the likes of Ken Coote, Jim Towers and George Francis it takes us on a trip through the annals of club history, right up to Kevin O’Connor.

A stunning piece of artwork and one which has the memories flooding back. If only for Gary Blissett and his short shorts.

Will any of today’s players join that illustrious list? On Saturday, we’ll take another step on the journey to finding out.

Wall of fame

Some of the more recent entries on the ‘wall of fame’

Nick Bruzon

 

Is it time for a new badge? Or even an old one?

26 Feb

With all the talk last night surrounding Madonna taking a dive at the Brit awards, football almost passed me by. However, Bournemouth’s defeat to Nottingham Forest, following their 3-1 reverse to Brentford on Saturday, makes for interesting reading at the top of the Championship table. Leaders Derby County and second placed Middlesbrough now have a bit of clear air on the chasing pack with respective gaps of five and three points (plus superior goal difference) to third placed Ipswich Town.

Watching Bournemouth falling faster than the Queen of pop suffering a cape malfunction isn’t particular cause for celebration. They are too strong a team to write off and, indeed, Brentford themselves have just emerged from our own mini blip that saw three defeats out of four . Likewise, for those of us harbouring title hopes , a five point gap can easily be reeled in as evidenced last season when that was the size of our own gap over Wolves at various times.

So I’m not going to get overly hung up on the table top today but, instead, look inward to Griffin Park and another of those post-match pub conversations following the win over Blackpool. Amidst all the nonsense being discussed was one genuine nugget of relevance – the realisation that the current Brentford badge is now in it’s twentieth season of use on our home shirt after first appearing on the red and white during the 1994/95 campaign.

Jamie Bates in the club programme - new shirt and new badge

Jamie Bates in the club programme – new shirt and new badge

The badge was designed by supporter Andrew Henning (supposedly in exchange for two season tickets) and it has been a part of our history ever since. Indeed, TV ‘astrologer’ Russell Grant even claimed to have created it himself, telling none other than Clem (of the Football League Show and Clemwatch fame) that, “I designed it, with Keith Loring”.

The current Brentford badge

The current Brentford badge

This somewhat spurious claim (which you can see here, about two minutes in) was made on a Football Focus piece back in 2011. It later transpired that Grant had actually just given guidance on the inclusion of the Middlesex coat of arms found in the bottom left corner.

But this pub conversation did get me thinking all of yesterday. After twenty years, is it time for a change? This current incarnation has now been on our shirts longer than the popular ‘Castle’ badge which first appeared back in 1976. And with the end approaching at Griffin Park, could we reintroduce this as part of a ‘last hurrah’?

The Castle badge appeared (on and off) from 1976-1994)

The Castle badge appeared (on and off) from 1976-1994)

The Castle was, of course, bumped before when it was replaced on our shirts by the centenary ‘funky bee’ before returning after a season. It was a simple design (certainly a lot less ‘cluttered’ than the current version) and one which has huge emotional significance for supporters of a certain age.

I’d love to see it back and, although it has reappeared on the current ‘retro’ shirt, that version is of a design so big it is rumoured to be the (much like the Great Wall of China) one of the few man made objects visible from space.

But if not the Castle then the other alternative under discussion was one which was first touted this time last year, when it seemed the club were looking to reinvent our first ever badge . Indeed, it got to the point where a garish 125 years graphic was designed although the club were talking about having a less cluttered variant on the shirts.

The new take on our first badge - a great centre piece, even if the surround was all a bit 'Arsenal'

The new take on our first badge – a great centre piece, even if the surround was all a bit ‘Arsenal’

Much as I love the Castle, the thought of going all the way back to our origins was a wonderful one and it was a real shame this never put in an appearance.

Even if the exterior surround on the badge was proven to be generic rather than unique to the Bees, the interior was most definitely ours. Would it be possible to incorporate this into our kit next season?

The original badge (with a similar one from the time)

The original badge (with a similar one from the time)

And so if anybody is reading, then I’d like to put the thought out there. Has the current badge run it’s course or is it still relevant? Should Brentford look to go for something  different on our shirt next campaign? Perhaps celebrating part of our history as we prepare for the eventual departure from Griffin Park at some point in the next few seasons.

And apologies in advance but, much as I love it, should this thought be given any consideration then perhaps it is best if the Funky Bee doesn’t make any shortlist.

The Funky Bee. Destined never to appear on a shirt again

The Funky Bee. Destined never to appear on a shirt again

 

 

We go again (but not on my watch). I blame the anti-Clem

7 Dec

Huddersfield Town hung on to a 2-1 win over Brentford on Saturday as the Bees missed their chance to top the Championship table. In the end, impressive victories for both Derby County and Ipswich Town, who ran up 7(seven) goals between them, meant that even had we triumphed this opportunity would have remained a pipe dream anyway. But to be even talking about this scenario twenty games into the campaign still seems to be the stuff of comic books.

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 along.

Could the Bees go top? Or will the Terriers bite back?

6 Dec

Brentford head to Huddersfield Town today in a game that is loaded with significance and opportunity. I wrote yesterday about the retrospective importance of this game, going back to the pain inflicted on the Bees by Huddersfield back in 1995. However, this is now about looking forward and the fact that, quite simply, a win could see us go top of the Championship table.

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 along.

Is this a moment worse than ‘that penalty’ ? (with video)

5 Dec

The mere mention of the name Huddersfield Town, Brentford’s next opponents in the Championship, is enough to send shivers up my spine. Whilst, rightly, most people will be focusing on our current form which has seen Warbs scooping Manager of the Month , Andre take the on field prize and the possibility that the Bees could finish the day at the top of the table, my mind will (in part at least) be elsewhere.

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 along.

Is this the biggest ever? The time Birmingham City ruined the party

14 Mar

Has there ever been a more meaningful game between Brentford and Leyton Orient?  It’s a question that Billy Reeves put out there on Beesplayer during the Carlisle game and which he posed again during the week on Twitter.

The obvious answer is ‘no’ – this is the big one for both teams. We all know the current stats and the very likely prospect that, as things stand, one of the Bees, O’s and Wolves will end up as League Champions. Likewise, that one of this trio will miss out on automatic promotion and, thus, be cast into the hell on earth that is the chance to play at the W place near Ikea in North London.

So far, so good. However, for Brentford there has been a bigger game. Cast your mind back to season 1994/95 when David Webb was at the helm. This, at the time when he was still purported to “wear a magic hat”, according to the words of the then popular terrace chant, rather than the era when the spelling of his name had been changed to W£bb.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.