Tag Archives: Keith Leeming

Paging Les and Gabriel. The amazing connection that goes from Brentford to Manchester City via Preston.

29 Dec

We would appear to be ‘game on’. Brentford host Manchester City this evening, both squads with at least the mandatory minimum of 13 outfield players seemingly available. No last minute crisis riding in to scupper the match as Newcastle United have just succumbed to. No rash of symptoms that were unable to be confirmed given the closure of the test centre – oh Bristol City, has it been a year already? Thoughts and prayers. Instead, we’re all off to Lionel Road to see if the improbable (16/1 is the price on a Brentford win at the time of writing) can become possible. Yet also, we finally get to square a circle that goes from Brentford to City via Preston North End (twice).

Nick Leeson. Martin Lewis (as unlikely a combo as one could imagine). Liam and Noel. Your boys are expected to give one hell of a beating. Manchester City being the only opponents in the division to give genuine concern pre-season and a team that have won their last three away games against promoted sides by an aggregate scoreline of 11-1.

The other 18, on a good day, you’d fancy Brentford could do something. Sure enough, we’ve all been here for the games with the big guns and household names. Liverpool. Chelsea. Arsenal. Everton. All have seen points taken or top drawer performances. Now we are at the next level. It is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. We deserve to be where we are on merit. Now comes the time to test ourselves against the very best.

We’ve already spoken about the challenge of this one and looked back at the Brighton player performance. We already know the relative strength of the squads. There’s nothing further to be gained from overly diving in there. Nothing new that can be said. Instead, we’re now at the point where all that can be done is enjoy the moment of another night game. Of a nothing to lose scenario where that magic feeling of Brentford under the lights can take hold. Sure, we can reminisce about Gary Blissett. About Uwe. About Robert Taylor. Nice though it is, and it is, this all comes down now to what happens when it all kicks off at the somewhat unusual time of 8.15. That’s unbelievable, Jeff (Bezos).

Uwe’s ‘last hurrah’

For me, Clive, mention the name Manchester City and the memory goes off in a different direction to a different couple of names. Neither linked to the Gallaghers or finance. Instead, there’s Jim – who I met through / prior to the arrival of our Harry at NCT class nine years ago. Cripes, that’s flown.  

As staunch and longstanding as they come. Home and away. Season on season. Despite now living in West London, he’s always at pains to point out he’s not a bandwagon jumping fan. As, to be fair, seems to be the case with the vast majority where even in the third tier of English football in the late 90s, support remained huge. His take on the game is both good and bad, for Brentford fans: “You might get a heavily rotated squad as we play arsenal 2 days later. That being said, we’re pretty slick at the moment.”

Then there’s Gabriel Valentine. The chances of whose seeing this are slim to zero. However, back in the 89-90 season, yours truly took his first footsteps into the wide world of work (before promptly stepping away again). There was Mr. Valentine, another displaced City fan whom, along with the rest of the firm I was working for, was eventually worn down with all this talk of Brentford, Brentford, Brentford and came to Griffin Park for a game.

That was March 1990 and the moment of Ashley Bayes making his debut against Preston North End. I can still see it now. Funnily enough, they never came back.

“Dreadful mistake / That stupid goal” – not my words, Susan

Yet prior to this, we’d already been tied together on a footballing journey that lasted less than a week but, for a brief moment, could have seen life heading in a very different direction. Flushed with youthful naivety / blind-optimism, The Bruzon-Valentine partnership took the bold step towards managing a professional football club.

Why not? Preston North End were struggling and had just dispensed with the services of John McGrath. We were 18(ish, in his case) with spare time on our hands.

This was back before it became the popular thing to do based on one’s experience playing Football Manager (the nearest we had back then was the ZX Spectrum equivalent on cassette).

How could anyone fail with a Spectrum squad this strong?

Amazingly, our letter received a reply from chairman Keith Leeming. As did our phone call to Saint and Greavsie who then politely declined our offer to appear on the show. Their loss. The dream was still alive. This was it. The moment was set. And then Preston went for former player Les Chapman. Fair enough, I’d have done the same.

Where we now go full circle is that this is the same Les Chapman who would eventually become Manchester City kit man for 17 (seventeen) years before moving into their media department. Pretty much the dream career path: player, manager, kit guru, media.

Whilst Gabriel won’t be reading or present today, Les may well be at Lionel Road. If he somehow stumbles across this (and let’s be realistic here…) then imagine how life may have turned out had Keith Leeming decided to take a reckless punt on a pair of untried youngsters. Again, let’s be realistic, but one has to dream.

However, who knows what, if any, impact the mere presence of our names may have had on that longer term decision making process? Could we have tipped the dice in Les Chapman’s favour?

It’s a funny old game. As Saint and Greavsie didn’t say to us. Yet the excitement felt when that hand-typed and signed postcard appeared on the doormat is still up there as a moment when life was wide open. When anything, no matter how improbable, felt possible……. 😉

Bring it on. See you there

Keith never did write back to us…

Nick Bruzon

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Is this today’s big unveiling?

26 Nov

Is this today’s big unveiling? I don’t mean at Leeds United, where their stunning 2016 calendar goes on sale, but of course at Brentford. Whilst we’ll get to Elland Road shortly, in TW8 we are five days on since Lee Carsley announced he’d spent his last game in charge of the first team. However, at the time of writing (Thursday morning, 6.30am) we are no closer to knowing who will succeed him in time for the televised game at Bolton Wanderers on Monday.

On what is, traditionally, ‘press day’ at the Brentford Media Centre, could we meet the new man? Or woman? Few clues have been given out beyond the mention of names as diverse as Pep Clotet, Justin Edinburgh, Uwe Rösler and, erm, Neil Warnock. Even our beloved local press, so often happy to chuck any ‘transfer related double swoop’ name into the mix, in the hope that some mud sticks, have gone silent on the topic. So will we find out today?

I’m no wiser. As a humble blogger my own knowledge is no greater than anybody reading although I share your enthusiasm in wanting to find out who the next occupant of the monogrammed training wear will be.

What I can confirm is that, currently, my own availability is yet to entice Matthew Benham to pick up the phone. With a 100% win ratio as co-manager of ‘Brentford Legends’ and a failed (on the assumption that nothing got ‘lost in the post’ ) application to manage Preston North End back in 1990 on my C.V., this can only mean there is a ‘big gun’ lined up.

Although if not…Mr. Benham – I’m still good for it.

Preston letter

Could the reply still be lost in the post?

The other reveal that is definitely due is that of the new Leeds United 2016 calendar. Apparently this has been deemed ‘controversial’ but I think it’s nothing short of pure class. Put together by nightclub owner and friend of Massimo Cellino, Terry George, it features the players in what could be deemed ‘unconventional’ poses.

Certainly , it bucks the trend from the standard ‘match action’ calendar that contains the sort of pictures we see on websites and in programmes, day in day out. The club have even put together a launch video on YouTube showing the players in everything from their smalls to fishing gear.

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All of which got me both admiring the brilliance but also wondering if there is time for us to go down a similar route. Assuming, of course, that the marketing team don’t already have something similar lined up.

‘Brentford is Brilliant’, proclaim signs all around the town. What better way to show this than have the players involved in a series of shots celebrating our heritage?

David Button juggling hot plates in Brentford Tandoori. Harlee Dean feeding the ducks at the canal. Alan Judge at Brentford County Court.Lewis Macleod picking up the leaves in St.Paul’s Park.

Perhaps, though, we’ll leave Sam Saunders away from the car wash.

Sam Saunders

Could we have a new Mr. January 2016 ?

Leeds calendar dinner

The video shows more briliance

 Nick Bruzon

Very Good Friday – the promotion pictures you won’t have seen.

19 Apr

So Brentford did it with victory over Preston and are now, with Wolves, Championship bound. The earlier post match article has a few pictures (and a couple of hungover words) but here, armed with nothing more than a mobile phone, are the alternative shots that made up my day…..

It is a little known fact that almost 25 years ago I applied to be manager of Preston North End football club – we’ll chalk it down to the impetuousness of youth. However, whilst rummaging through the attic on the morning of the game I came across not only a stash of old programmes and fanzines, but a stark reminder of this fact.

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Preston – never replied. Their loss is Brentford’s gain

I’m still waiting for that reply. Who knows how our promotion chances were effected by the butterfly effect of Keith Leeming’s failure to follow up?

Still, nestling alongside this was an early copy of Beesotted. How’s this for an omen? It was only issue 15, which was published after Gary Blissett’s goal at Peterborough in 1992 took Brentford up to the second tier of English football.

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An unexpected omen from the attic

The final piece of attic related ‘treasure’ was a 1996 programme from a game v Burnley. Perhaps we are just a bit more astute (or I have a filthy mind) but did their fans get one over Graham Haynes and Ian Westbrook in ‘Around the Hive’?

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Burnley 1 Brentford 0 ??

Many of the Last Word articles this season have featured ‘View from the terrace’ . Put simply, this is matchday ‘action’ captured with all the technological power of an iPod telephone.

Well here are two from yesterday – Clayton looking to pick out an unmarked Will Grigg (more noticeable for the swathe of (unrequired) stewards at the Preston end) and then one more of those immense celebrations.

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View from the terrace. Preston fans were the epitomy of good sportsmanship, too

 

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View from the terrace – Bees fans unleash all that pent up excitement

And after this, well – we all know what happened. There was dancing in the street (thankfully NOT a mullet clad, trench coat sporting Mick Jagger / David Bowie video), speeches from Matthew Benham, impromptu Q&A with Warbs , and the Brentford team signing anything (and I mean , anything..)

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Chairman Cliff Crown – I bet he replies to letters

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Is this Saunders territory? One lucky fan gets an autograph

Fans celebrated inside and out . There was just a great vibe around The Griffin (which, I understand, continued long into the night at The Lord Nelson, too). Even 1992 hero Bliss got in on the action.

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The legend that is Gary Blissett, outside the ground

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Partying in the shadow of Griffin Park

And with the sun setting, it simply remained for us to go inside for one last look at the League One table.

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I’m so happy, I won’t even berate Sky for upper case bracketery