Tag Archives: John Egan

What is our current hot ticket? Who will win the big one?

13 Apr

Exciting times lie ahead for Brentford. The Easter weekend double header against Derby County and Barnsley is almost upon us. The second fixture having a potential extra layer of spice, should the club decide to accept the gauntlet laid down by Toby Tyke after Buzz Bee was robbed of mascot race victory back in October’s reverse fixture at Griffin Park. Then there’s the small matter of West London derbies at home to QPR and across at Fulham. Those games always have an additional feel of frisson outside of the regular league table although the aim of finishing as West London’s top Championship side for the third successive season is an even bigger incentive for Brentford to pull out all the stops.

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He celebrates too soon? Did Toby really win last time?

Things come to a conclusion when we host Blackburn Rovers in early May. Following that game is, of course, the Player Of the Year Awards. Unlike at Loftus Road, where QPR have had to cancel their own event within a week of it being announced due to a lack of interest (no,please, stop. I’m still cringing) Bees fans have had no problem in snapping up the tickets for ours.

Highlight of that event is, as ever, the vote for Player of the year. Currently held by Alan Judge, his season long absence through injury means a new incumbent awaits. Have the likes of returning demi-gods Jota and Sergi Canos done enough to steal the vote at the eleventh hour? Will it be an unsung hero such as Ryan Woods ? International debutant John Egan? Or a.n.other?

Well, for me (Clive) if we are looking for season long consistency it comes down to a bunfight between Harlee Dean and Daniel Bentley. The former, our captain, has been a colossus at the back whilst adding an exciting attacking element to his game these days. Certainly one of the first names on the team sheet, its hard to remember he’s only 25 – so long has he been with us, so commanding has he appeared this season . Gone are the mistakes of old (who doesn’t make them as they learn how to ply their trade?).  Replacing them are supreme confidence and an equal level of ability.

As for Daniel Bentley, FourFourTwo magazine named him as Brentford’s outstanding performer in their run down of the 50 top football league players published in the current edition. The magazine even going so far as to note that England manager Gareth Southgate is keeping an eye on him. He has made the leap from League One new boys to a top half of the Championship side look effortless. Indeed, it was his own performances which saved us numerous points in the early part of the season as he took to the Griffin Park gives like the proverbial duck to water. No surprise that QPR made three bids for him following Southend United’s play off victory in 2015; no surprise their chairman turned them down.

Good luck picking a winner out of those. Good luck to your host for the evening, Natalie Sawyer, in measuring up to Buzzette in the style stakes.

Buzzette makes her entrance to the 2016 POTY awards

But if you can’t be there for that one then how about an alternative? Sunday 30th April sees Billy Grant and the Beesotted team hosting the final of this year’s ’socials’. Taking place at the Drayton Court hotel in Ealing from 6pm until 2am (I feel exhausted just thinking about staying out that late) guests of honour will be Brentford legends Francis Joseph, Gary Roberts, Billy Manuel & Graham Benstead.

There’s a dozen other ex-bees in the house along with a comedian, DJ and magician helping provide the entertainment along with the players doing their ‘in conversation’ segment . Add to that a hot buffet, a level of  complimentary beer and your fellow Bees’ fans then it is sure to be a cracking night out.

Full details of the event, including tickets, are available on the Beesotted website.

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And talking of tickets (waiter, I’ll have the industrial crowbar please) don’t forget there’s only 11 and a bit days left until the ‘seat hold’ deadline expires for those wanting to retain their current place at Griffin Park. With dispensation given to retain the terraces for another season, there’s room for everybody to stay where they were should you wish to purchase a club season ticket. In addition, earlybird prices staying on hold until 31 May means you can get a season’s worth of Championship football for was little as £369. As for the kids. £90, including a home shirt, represents even better value.

Full details are on official, where there is also a link direct to the season ticket page.

I’ve seen some talk saying that the seat hold deadline still feels too soon, given the season is still running. Perhaps. But it’s a tricky line to walk given that the campaign will be over just two weeks after that. I can see the position out marketing team are in. Revenue is what helps keep us afloat, let’s not pretend otherwise, and this way looks to maximise take up whilst football remains fresh in everybody’s mind.

Besides, if you need a yardstick then look at Fulham. No, please. Their seat hold deadline has already expired, two weeks ahead of ours. As have their ‘early bird’ prices. Both of those slipping away on 10th April. I sympathise from one respect. It’ll be a tough job filling that neutral stand.

In my eyes, I think we’ve got the balance right. You won’t please everybody but, at the same time, barring disasters we’ll all be coming back again next season. One way or another.

Come for the football; stay for the social. Griffin Park is a way of life. It is as much about seeing your friends and familiar faces as it is in cheering on the lads. If this is our final season with the ground in the current form (would we get a fifth season of terrace? Will Lionel Road be ready this quickly?) , then I’ve certainly got every intention of being there.

Even if it isn’t, I’ll be back. There’s been too much blood, sweat and tears (mainly tears) invested into this club since 1979 to walk away from our firmest ever footing and most exciting time in most supporters’ living memory.

Win or lose. It is a part of us. I love it. We love it. Bring on 2017/18. Although, first, there’s the small matter of Derby, Fulham, QPR and possibly Toby to get past. Roll on Friday.

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Well said

Nick Bruzon

Belated birthday greetings to a legend as April offers goals, derbies and more.

1 Apr

And relax. The weekend is here. Peter Gilham is here. Bristol City will be here at 3pm this afternoon as Brentford look to pick up where we left off before international break. April, weak jokes and, on a totally unrelated note, Fulham and QPR are all here. Of course we have a pair of West London derbies to come with the Loftus Road mob visiting the club they failed to take over 50 years ago before we head up the road to Craven Cottage. That, of course, a game with the wonderful potential to try and put a huge dent in the host’s own play off hopes. If they haven’t already shot themselves in the foot, of course.

But with due respect to Bristol City, Fulham et al we can only start with Peter Gilham. Yesterday saw the incredible occasion of his 70th birthday. 70? ! Peter Gilham is 70. I’m sorry but I just can’t believe it. What fountain of youth is he drinking from? Were it not for the fact that I’m now in my own fifth decade of supporting the Bees (first game in 1979), I wouldn’t believe it. But , of course, Peter has been around since long before that.

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Peter Gilham – as seen in 1989’s ‘100 years of Brentford’ book

He is the living embodiment of the club. He’s still as enthusiastic as ever whilst performing his match day ‘man-with-the-mic’ duties although, as the years have progressed Peter has added a lot more dead pan humour to his delivery. Woe betide any off-target centre circle challenge participants, snapchat users (whatever that is) or tardy substitutes.

We all know him. We all love him. Peter has done just about every job at the club, barring caretaker manager. And whilst Dean Smith is carving out his own place in Brentford history at present, it wouldn’t be a shock to anybody outside of TW8 if, one day in the future, even that happened.

I can still hear the introduction to our own pre-internet telephone information line as Peter would announce in his ever dulcet tones, “Hello. And welcome to Brentford club call”. Then proceed to spin it out as the call box down the road ate through my coins with all the voracious appetite that a premium rate phone line would. Or am I getting mixed up with ‘chatback’?

These days, Peter’s calling card is “A little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock’”. The more goals Brentford score, the more enthused he becomes as what should be the most cringeworthy and toe curling of sponsorship announcements is already becoming part of club folklore. Forget the pizzas, its all down to the delivery. And when it comes to delivery, Peter is first class.

Belated birthday greetings Peter. Here’s to many more. I can’t wait to hear you on the Lionel Road P.A. system….

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter, Buzz and Buzzette. The epitome of cool

As for today, its non-stop. Prior to the visit from Bristol City, we’ve got the Bees Fan Zone in Watermans Park. Just a short walk from the ground, this is always a fantastic event for our younger fans and I’d urge you all to get along. Brentford never fail to pull out the stops as a family club and this is yet another example of how well we treat our younger fans. Full details are on Brentford ‘official’.

And then we have Bristol City. Win, lose or draw about the one thing I’d bet the mortgage on(purely for research purposes) is that this one has goals in it. Brentford have been on fire since the end of January and the five goal comeback against Burton has fast overtaken the 4-1 win at Fulham (you know, when Stuart Dallas did that thing….) as many supporters’ favourite away game in recent times.

Team selection remains a tricky one today. If only for picking out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to genuine news v April Fool’s jokes. Jota out for 9 months? Sure…. Peter Gilham 70….?

I don’t envy Dean this one. Despite the wonderful news about Alan Judge signing a new contract he’s not match fit. With Jota, Lasse and Sergi chomping at the bit for another taste of the net, everybody else will have to fit around them. Good luck with those first goal scorer bets. Yet, by all accounts, the Bees were as horrific in the first half at Burton as we were simply incredible in the second. Do onconming subs Alan Mac and Nico retain the berths occupied by Romaine Sawyers and KK at the start of that one? Does Rico Henry walk back into the team ahead of Tom Field? How is John Egan’s head injury after his midweek exertions for Ireland?

Whomever Dean starts, let’s hope it ends with Peter Gilham having a very sore throat and more plugs for that little Italian restaurant. By Brentford lock.

As for the rest of the month. I saw a graphic yesterday advertising all the footballing treats awaiting the armchair viewer in April. All well and good, but nothing beats the thrill of a West London derby.  The prospect of hosting QPR followed by a trip to Fulham just a week later is a tantalising one.

April fixtures

Championship life has been nothing but exciting and those two games represent yet another wonderful example of why it continues to enthral us.  I’d rather be at those games than sat at home watching Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and those other apparent big names.

Brentford may not have Ibrahimovic, De Gea, Neymar, Messi and whomever Arsenal’s marquee players are. And? We’ve got Jota, Harlee, Sergi, Ryan.

Plus, of course, Peter Gilham. Here’s to 3pm when it starts all over again.

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Don’t forget the Fan zone prior to kick off

Nick Bruzon

Who are kings of the 888Sportderby? An honour for John and a gut busting revelation from the BBC archives.

29 Mar

Finally. We inch that bit closer to the return of Championship football. Brentford host Bristol City on Saturday in a game that most definitely has the whiff of goals about it. (So 0-0, then). Elsewhere our 888sport stablemates Nottingham Forest and Preston North End complete this season’s sequence of #888sportderby games when Mark Warburton’s team visit Deepdale. But who out of the Bees, Forest, North End and Birmingham will be lifting the trophy, should one exist, as ‘home international’ style champions? And (crowbar alert) talking of internationals, there was great news for John Egan last night as he made his debut for the Republic of Ireland. Plus, a disturbing discovery from the BBC historical archives that could blow the lid off everything we know and love about football.

First up, the final #888sportderby of the season. We’ve all seen the hashtags used on Twitter to promote games between the four teams that share a sponsor but who has come out on top when you tally them all together? Well, with just the aforementioned game to come, by my very rough calculations (and if anybody would like to redo the maths then please be my guest), Brentford are now uncatchable.

Doing the double over Nottingham Forest, combined with a win apiece against both Birmingham City (a) and the 5-0 home hammering of Preston sees us on 12 points from 6 games. That’s 4 points clear of North End who can only affect the table tomorrow by administering such a trashing it that it sends Forest below basement team Birmingham by means of goal difference.

Congratulations to Dean Smith on his first piece of silverware, albeit a totally fictional one. And if our club sponsors are reading (they’re not), how about a trophy with our name on it ? Its the least you could do after all those hashtags.

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The ‘as it stands’ 888sportderby table. Hashtag

Next up, the Republic of Ireland. I didn’t see it although, to be fair, I don’t think many people over here did. The game apparently buried on a channel even more obscure than BT Sport. Indeed, I saw one ‘blue ticked’ journalist whose own synopsis of the match was seemingly based on listening in to the local radio station.

So, as ever, there’s no match report on these pages. Instead, simply a huge congratulations to John for being the latest to join the list of Brentford players to have had the honour of representing their country. Whilst the Republic may have gone down (1-0) I have no doubt this will be the first of many for John. Certainly, if his club form is anything to go by.

And finally, the BBC. Regular readers will know of my love for footballing traditions. The orange ball in the snow, goals being celebrated by the roar of the crowd rather than a snatch of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis or, indeed, ‘goal music of any sort and, of course, the daddy of then all – vidiprinter brackets. The sort that appeared on Grandstand – now the Sky Sports scrolly thing and other such programmes – to show when a team had scored 7(seven) goals.

Likewise, and as we all should know, the correct usage of brackets is with the subsequent text in lower case. 7(seven) rather than 7(Seven) or the somewhat brash preference of Sky, 7(SEVEN). So far, so good. We all know the drill even though, and it is incredible to think, not everybody agrees with the 7(seven) format.

No problem. With little Brentford activity this week, and in need of distraction, I started to sniff around the BBC archives. (Or YouTube). Specifically to lay this one to rest. What I stumbled across has left me reeling.

1984. Grandstand. A triple horror. Sheffield United earned the honour of a score clarification after six goals. Yes, six. Worse, it was in block capitals whilst there are no brackets. No. Brackets. What’s all that about? Score quantification shouldn’t begin at 6, surely? It is one of football’s most fundamental rules.

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All kinds of wrong with 6 SIX

Perhaps this was just a glitch in the matrix. Further digging leads us to a 1987 clip. Again, Grandstand. This time, there appears to be some form of cross-pollination. Nestled in amongst the football action on the vidiprinter were rugby scores (and, to be clear that’s the proper sort – Union). But regardless of the game’s clear superiority over League, even I wouldn’t have expected to see it in a football update. Why not just include the table tennis and horse racing updates (the other two staple events covered by mid-80s Saturday afternoon sport) ?

But if you are going to include rugby (union) at least get it right. NOTTINGHAM 62 PTS NORTHERN 7.

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No better in 1987

7? 7? With Rugby. This is wrong. All wrong. And why PTS for just one of the teams?

At the point, I gave up.A broken man. Instead, let’s just hope that with Brentford on fire, we put 7(seven) past City at the weekend. At least, that way, the BBC have the chance to right a historical wrong.

Nick Bruzon

Cliff crowns a great day which even ‘that trumpet’ can’t ruin.

25 Mar

With Friday’s column bemoaning the lack of Brentford related activity over the International break, it was another case of exquisite timing as the club confirmed later in the day that work has now begun at the Brentford Community Stadium site on Lionel Road South. Over in Dublin, John Egan was in the squad for the Republic of Ireland against Wales last night although a rogue musical instrument threatened to outdo even the much maligned (and rightly so) alleged band of the England supporters.

But first, Lionel Road. There’s not too much to add in regards to the Stadium announcement beyond a huge sigh of relief and gratitude at this latest news. It seems almost an eternity away since the club’s plans were approved by Hounslow council back in December 2013. The Bees were then in League One and Uwe Rosler was (technically) still our manager although his move to Wigan Athletic was coming somewhat quicker than ours to a new home. Indeed, looking back on the BBC report from the time it notes that, “The Bees hope to move to the 7.6 acre site on Lionel Road from Griffin Park for the 2016-17 season.

Of course, we have had further referrals and the CPO to go through since that point which have delayed proceeding somewhat. And whilst , at times, I can’t help but think of Lionel Road without the words “Monorail, monorail” going through the head, finally things are under way. There was another ebullient statement from Cliff Crown whilst, along with the article on Brentford official, a new website launched at brentfordcommunitystadium.com in which supporters will be kept abreast of developments.

The only slight downside about his news being the lack of obligatory photograph featuring Cliff, Mark Devlin et al leaning on shovels and wearing hard hats. But, given this current stage of the project involves clearing the site in preparation for the main build, perhaps this construction related favourite is still to come.

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It really IS happening.

The other Bees related topic from yesterday was, of course, John Egan’s selection for the Republic of Ireland. Whilst he had to be content with a place on the bench, this remains a huge honour and it can’t be long, surely, until he wins his first cap. With another home game scheduled for Tuesday, a friendly with the darlings of Euro 2016 Iceland, he may not have long to wait. Here’s hoping that fully deserved honour comes John’s way imminently.

One thing that armchair viewers won’t be hoping for is a return of ‘that trumpet’. Far be it from me to criticise another nation’s culture and perhaps this is well received part of their International game. Personally, my own belief is that, much like goal music, spectator performed musical instruments should not be allowed anywhere near a football stadium. Whatever the form.

The list of offendors is a well travelled one. Who could forget the sound of the Vuvuzelas from World Cup 2010? About the only positive to be gleaned from England’s ineptitude in that one being that an early exit spared domestic supporters being obliged to put up the droning cacophony.

Then there’s John Westwood. The self proclaimed Mr. Portsmouth. Him in the stove pipe hat, wooden teeth and dreadlocked fright wig whom the cameras seem contractually obliged to make a beeline for whenever Pompey are on TV. He looks like he needs a good wash down with some bleach and a wire wool brush (think  – Russell Brand and his spray on perm-wear leather effect trousers)  whilst the noise, with that incessant ringing of a hand bell or use of a trumpet, must mean that season tickets in the near vicinity come with a health and safety warning.

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Can’t give Westwood the full oxygen of publicity. Bell. End of.

But, of course, the prime offenders are the alleged England supporters alleged band. Regular readers know the drill at this point. If you want the usual rant about the stale, off key parping and flat renditions of jingoistic greatest hits from Bernie Clifton and his uninvited cuckoos in the nest then you’ll find it here (along with a lot more nonsense).

They’ve always been the low point. Until now. And the lone trumpet at Ireland’s Aviva stadium. Who was it? Why was it? How can a solitary instrument cut so clearly through what was, by all accounts, a fervent and vocal crowd.You’d have heard this thing above a jumbo jet taking off. It was so shrill that, by all scientific fact, only dogs should have been able to hear the bloody thing.

Yet here it was. Clear as day. As annoying as Westwood guesting in the England ensemble with a vuvuzela. If there’s one thing that’s good for unifying football fans it’s hatred. Not of each other but of wind instruments.

And this was the consummate in unwelcome hot air. Not even the sound of Jota’s refrain could lift this into the realms of acceptability.

Matthew Benham has already made it quite clear that goal music will never, ever happen in his time. Let’s hope the ban extends to trumpets when Lionel Road is complete.

Nick Bruzon

Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

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FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

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(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon

From the best to the worst in football’s role of honour. Plus a new favourite site.

21 Mar

Whilst there were some Brentford fans upset about the recent sale of Scott Hogan to Aston Villa, one would hope that those concerns have now been dispelled. Ably abetted by the two amigos on the flanks, a rejigged formation and a great Dane up top, The Bees have money in the bank and 25 goals in the 11 games since the Scott moved to Villa Park. Things could have been a lot, lot worse as we’ll look at momentarily. At the other end of the field, there was great news for John Egan who was called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Wales.

Nobody could doubt John’s performances this season. At one point he was neck and neck with Scott to be our leading scorer whilst, more importantly, has forged a wonderful partnership with Harlee Dean at the back.

Brentford ‘official’ share the great news on social media

I don’t envy head coach Dean Smith having to crowbar the pair of them, Yoann Barbet and fellow international Andreas Bjelland into his team. Perhaps the quality at his disposal goes someway to explaining our mid-season persistence with three centre backs. It was a valid attempt but one which persisted for far too long as it became clear it wasn’t working.

Yet, and with the greatest respect to Yoann and Andreas, John and Harlee are – at least in my opinion – our absolute nailed on first choice centre backs. Harlee has been magnificent this campaign and, along with Dan Bentley and John Egan, remains in my top three for player of the season. Although had Jota returned a month or two earlier then that competition would be an even stiffer one.

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Jota – c/o Sky. Imagine if he’d come back earlier…..

So news of John’s call up yesterday was one that is thoroughly deserved but has only been a matter of time. John, if you are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) congratulations. As for Harlee and Dan, give it another season or two playing like this and their matching him on the International scene, for England, is well within the bounds of credibility.

Next up Twitter. A popular subject on these pages for many reasons. Ease of use, interaction with the actual players, Kitman Bob and his BBB giveaways, banter with fellow fans and the most immediate means of learning news updates are amongst the many reason for the site’s popularity here.

For Brentford supporters, there’s a recent addition to our family of familiar faces (© the Middlesex Chronicle big book of ’80s alliteration) out there in cyber space. Brentford Bot.

In their own words, “Judging Positive and Negative mentions of Brentford“.And that’s about all there is to it. But very, very well executed, often deadpan but sometimes laugh out loud funny and showing a tireless dedication to keeping the Bees family updated. I’ve no idea who the power behind the Bot is, but it’s well worth a follow. You can find @BrentfordBOT here.

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Brentford Bot does his/her/its (?) thing

Ok – striker sales. We talked at the top end about the departure of Scott Hogan to Aston Villa. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth need no reminding of what has happened in the past – Nicky Forster, Carl Asaba, Gary Blissett, Robert Taylor, Dean Holdsworth, DJ Campbell and even Andy Scott are amongst those who have been sold in their free scoring prime. Goals aside, the other thing connecting these players was their lack of a like-for-like replacement.

To be fair, how do you replace the likes of Deano, Bliss or the FT index? Even for the player, following a fan favourite and goalscoring legend must be thankless task. Yet when this goes wrong it can be truly horrific.

FourFourTwo magazine have just started to publish their list of every league club’s worst ever player. The initial instalment, in a series which is now running daily, runs from Accrington Stanley up to Bury, taking in the likes of Aston Villa, Bournemouth and of course Brentford along the way.

On the Bees front, it feels somewhat awkward badmouthing one of our own yet for whatever the reason we’ve had some players over the years who really haven’t shone. Past their prime, over weight, over rated or just really, really bad. It happens. It happens to every club. So when FourFourTwo approached yours truly for the name of the Griffin Park protagonist, it was one that eventually came about as a result of a public vote. Too much power should not lie with just one man.

It was a top five that included, in no particular order : Nick Proschwitz, Paul Davis, Murray jones, Neil Shipperley and Steve Claridge. Yet in the end the ‘winner’ was a clear one.

And you can find out who, here…

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Nick Bruzon

Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

Harlee, thongs and perfect scoring. Dean’s ‘false 9’ secure a genuine 3. Points, that is.

22 Feb

Why do Brentford exist?” Not my words but those of one Sheffield Wednesday fan on Twitter, just prior to kick off. Two hours later he’d found out why, as Dean Smith’s Bees recorded a quite wonderful 2-1 away win. It was a first victory for Brentford over Wednesday in more time than I can remember – certainly since our paths recrossed in the Championship.

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The spirit of Descartes is alive and well at Hillsborough

A looping header from John Egan and a follow up from captain Harlee Dean just before the end of the first period had given the Bees a deserved 2-0 lead going in for their half time cuppa. It was a gap we maintained until the game reached the last gasps of a frantic denouement, Fernando Forestieri pulling one back for the hosts. Yet despite the Owls having, finally, turned the Brentfrod goal into a metaphorical Alamo after what seems a somewhat contained first 80 minutes, the brilliant Dan Bentley and his defence more than held firm.

As ever, decent match reports are on the BBC, ‘official’ or Beesotted. As are Dean’s post match thoughts where, amongst other things, he made the very valid point that Wednesday “Will be a top six side“.  I didn’t travel and nor, does it seem, were many others in a position to do so. What a reward for those who did make it. Yet, likewise, what a treat for those stuck at home relying on Beesplayer or the wireless. Personally, I opted for the later on this occasion (with apologies to Mark Burridge), giving BBC Radio London a spin. It was a twist of the dial well worth making.

Phill Parry’s opening gambit to Billy Reeves of “You half expect the players to come out wearing nothing but leather thongs” as the prematch music built was the shape of things to come. Our commentary team subsequently noting that, perhaps, this would be against FA regulations. I was then lost in a sea of praise for Harlee, conjecture over ‘false 9s’ and general admiration for the luxuriance of Jota’s hair. Great job chaps, and thank you.

False 9’s, you (possibly) say? Indeed. With Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann both missing, an already tough task was made the harder by having no recognised centre forward (don’t be naughty, they were injured….).

This is territory we’d been in before with last season’s visit to QPR. The difference then being Dean’s decision had been deliberate. And horrific. Alan Judge ending up looking like a little boy lost as sea through no fault of his own as the hosts, and it pains me to say, ran riot. Then again, Brentford couldn’t have organised a pissup in a barn door with a banjo on that day – we were that disorganised.

This time around was clearly different. Romaine Sawyers was recalled to team where he filled that ‘false’ position, with Canos and Jota continuing to add width. Likewise, a debut for Rico Henry in place of Tom Field was one which met with instant plaudits. Phil Parry has probably woken up still talking about his incredible pace – such was the impression made by the former Walsall man. Brentford were solid at the back and exciting going forward.

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Catwalk Billy Reeves had provided the one moment of joy the last time we tried a ‘false 9’

As ever, the video highlights are available from Sky. At least, until Bees Player are allowed to put their package up and that’s one I’ll certainly be adding here later. If for no other reason than to see how the ever wonderful Mark Burridge, assisted this time by Ciaran Brett, compared to Phil and Billy.

Mark Burridge adds the words, if not the leather thongs

The huge downside for the night was the injury suffered by Josh McEachran. He was stretchered off late in the first half following protracted treatment from both physios. Whilst Dean Smith had the luxury of KK to fall back on, nobody likes to see any player injured. Moreso one who has really stepped up his game this season and become an integral part of this team. Here’s hoping it looked worse than it actually was.

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Jota speaking for everyone

The other slight negative about the evening was Sergi Canos. Nothing to do with his on-pitch performance but, more, his use of post match Twitter.

Hasn’t anybody told him “We go again”  should only be used after a poor away defeat? By the defence.

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In all seriousness though, one can’t help but get drawn in by his enthusiasm about a return to the Brentford team. Long may it continue. It truly is wonderful to have him back in our ranks and out there on pitch.

And so we roll on to Saturday. A home game with doomed Rotherham United. Common sense says this one will be : lots – nil. However, as Mrs Bruzon would note, common sense is something that yours truly is severely lacking in.

Until then, let’s revel in the job done so far. The aforementioned prematch critic of Brentford was, at least, magnanimous enough to note the performance of Daniel Bentley at full time.

Personally, I’m just amazed how many goals Brentford continue to score. Scott who now?As one Twitter wag noted……

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Nick Bruzon    

After shocks in the the cup, could Bees now follow suit in the league?

21 Feb

With all the talk currently about FA Cup upsets – Arsenal beating Sutton United and Lincoln City recording that famous win up at Turf Moor being the pick of the fifth round shocks  – one could be forgiven for overlooking the Championship. Yet it continues to come at us faster and furiouser (is that even a word?) than Vin Diesel in a souped up Dodge Charger. Tonight is no exception as Brentford face the gruelling trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

A midweek visit to Hillsborough really is about as hard as it can get for Dean Smith and his Bees. Despite reverting to a more traditional back four and a much more attacking shape, the problems have now started to appear at the back where Brentford have shipped 10 goals in the last three league games. Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, know that a win tonight will take them up to third place in the Championship table.

Whilst Newcastle United, who won again last night against Aston Villa, and Brighton seem to have the top two slots locked down, anything is still possible. And with the pair of them meeting next Tuesday at the Amex. something has to give there shortly. Wednesday will be chomping at the bit for a chance to slip in between them when that happens.

Will Dean stick or twist? His reshuffle has won the plaudits but, sadly, it doesn’t seem to be winning that many games. Despite the hugely impressive performances against Aston Villa and Brighton, both Preston and Wigan were games we could well have won yet, despite scoring twice and leading in each, have thrown them away with a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst I’m all for this new look team set up – and hope we stick to it against divisional whipping boys Rotherham United on Saturday – perhaps discretion is the better part of valour tonight. If not in terms of playing five defenders then, perhaps , a personnel switch to add some muscle to the middle (calling Mr McCormack) or maybe he’ll accommodate the return of John Egan / Yoann Barbet.

One thing is for sure. With ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes now plying his trade for Sheffield Wednesday and doing what he does best (i.e. scoring goals) any mistakes will be punished by a team looking to consolidate their place in the play-offs.

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Once a Bee; now an Owl

Brentford’s task will be made all the harder by this game having been moved to a midweek due to our involvement in the FA Cup fourth round. For logistical reasons alone, expect fewer Bees fans to travel. The train isn’t an option (unless you stop over) whilst work gets in the way for many. Hats off to those making the effort tonight, that’s for sure. I salute you and wish I could be there. Instead, it is Mark Burridge and Beesplayer for me.

The other hurdle to overcome will, of course, be ‘that band’. Regular readers know the drill at this juncture and although oft repeated, they can’t be allowed to pass without a brief mention. Off key renditions of ‘seven nation army’ or ‘The Italian job’ washed down with Bernie Clifton’s jingoistic greatest hits are no replacement for an atmosphere. Let’s hope those that do travel are of loud voice.

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That. Band. Never forget.

The bookies have Wednesday as odds on favourites. The Bees are close to 4/1 to come away with the points. There’s more chance of finding a role of sellotape in our local Morrisons than of Brentford recording a win, if club sponsor 888 are to be believed.

Wednesday are good, no question. But Brentford aren’t 18/5 bad and one thing we have in us is goals. After a weekend of shocks in the cup, could we now see the bookies upset in the league?

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

What happens in Preston, stays in Preston as Harlee makes a frank admission.

12 Feb

F*ck off Brentford” said one supporter on Twitter after this one. Others were calling for Dean Smith’s head. I’ve even seen comments reminding us that Mark Warburton is available after his resignation/non resignation from Rangers. Seriously? Seriously?? Sure, The Bees had been beaten 4-2 by Preston North End but let’s leave that nonsense and put this one down to the proverbial bad day at the office.

After those two tonkings administered to Aston Villa and Brighton, had Dean Smith gone into this one with anything but the same approach then, perhaps, there could have been casue for frustration. But no, he stuck to his guns and rightly so.

This team and formation were the exact same decisions I would have taken and, whilst just the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of Championship Manager, it was great to see Dean continue with this attacking intent. Indeed, despite the availability of John Egan, amongst others, the only change was one of personnel as fit again Maxine Colin replaced Josh Clarke in the right back position.

The anti-performance at Chelsea had been followed by a new look team and a new set up. Despite the absence of Scott Hogan, six goals had followed from five different players.

Now make that 8 goals from 7(seven) players in three games as Lasse, Nico, Harlee, KK and Jota were joined by Maxime Colin and Tom Field on the list of recent scorers. For Tom in particular, his first league goal for Brentford – and one which gave us an early lead –  was the perfect riposte to his critic after last Sunday’s post match nonsense.

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Post goal celebrations for Tom Field, c/o the Sky Sports highlight reel

After that, though, the wheels fell off. Aiden McGeady waltzed through the Brentford midfield and defence to equalise from distance for the hosts. Preston then took the lead early into the second half as Callum Robinson stole in totally unmarked between Harlee and Andreas to beat the offside trap and tap home.

And with the Bees pushing to get back into it, Mcgeady (again)  and Daryl Horgan put the game beyond doubt as it became a case of “After you, Claude” from Brentford. Maxime Colin pulled one back late on via a generous deflection but that was how it ended.

As ever, proper match reports are available on the BBC, Besotted or ‘official’. Likewise, you’ve got free video highlights on Sky – at least, until we get the full fat Burridge infused version on Beesplayer lunchtime.

It was interesting to read the post match comments of both Dean Smith and Harlee Dean after this one. Talking to ‘official’, Dean admitted that “We lost our organisation and our discipline, we opened up too easily and they could have scored more. We need to be disciplined and have emotional control. Football is about scoring goals and you can’t get too emotionally involved when the opposition score one”.

As for Harlee, his observations were on a similar line. Along with a captain’s standard post defeat apology to those who travelled, there was an admission of tactical naivety from the players combined with their poor decisions and poor performances. Coming from the man in the midst of the action, these are probably more telling and comments I take heart from.

It is hard to remember that Harlee is only 25. One forgets just how young he was when he first turned out for Andy Scott’s Bees way back in November 2011. Yet here is a man who has fought his way up from non league and loanee to now being club captain and one of the first names on the team sheet.

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Harlee Dean – also appearing on Twitter at FT

Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to make that long journey home (longer for those who travelled on Virgin Rail if head of media relation’s Chris Wickham’s twitter account was anything to go by) on the back of a 4-2 scoreline. Yet if the players themselves are aware of where they went wrong and where they showed inconsistency (another phrase used by Harlee in that post match article and which has been visible to all but the most blinkered of supporters this season) then there is hope that this newly reinvigorated team can continue to do what they’ve been doing.

We’ve two very tricky fixtures coming up. Midweek trips to teams currently looking for play off points. Reading this Tuesday and then Sheffield Wednesday a week later.

Here’s hoping Dean can hold his nerve in regards to team selection again.

Here’s hoping the team can learn from those mistakes on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that what happened in Preston, stays in Preston.

Nick Bruzon