Tag Archives: Kevin O’Connor

Top ten Bees and win for Forest doom Blackburn.

7 May

A third season in the Championship. A third top ten finish for Brentford. Despite a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, the ubiquitous ‘other results’ conspired to send the visitors down to League One and ensure the Bees continued their proud ascendency. Whilst  Birmingham City boss Harry Redknapp suffered a very squeaky bum and Mark Warburton at Nottingham Forest endured a short term scare, both managers recording wins meant that the three points and two goal victory margin were ultimately insufficient for Blackburn.

We’ll keep this brief, for now. Besides, what else can you say? Not much. It seems trite to revel in another team’s moment of misery. Rovers fully deserved their win and came so, so close to securing Championship survival. Brentford were very much observers in a first half that saw an early two goal lead given away and an improbable tale of survival almost unfold at Griffin Park.

Alas, it was not to be. As Nottingham Forest started to find the net in their own fixture up at the City Ground, so did Brentford. Lasse Vibe all but scuppering Blackburn’s slender survival hopes when he got on the end of a low cross from Harlee Dean, of all people. The captain finding himself in uncharacteristic territory out on the right but still able to deliver a killer ball into the box.

That was as good as it got. Rather than press home the psychological advantage, Brentford were unable to penetrate. Indeed, Harlee was the man still involved in the action, although not for any reasons he’ll care to remember.

I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the picture of him and Craig Conway engaged in what official would describe with the somewhat diplomatic phrase: ‘ the two debated the decision at close proximity’.

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Tom Moore shared ‘the’ moment on Twitter

This was sufficient to earn a yellow card and was followed up shortly afterwards with a second for a foul in the box. Red card and penalty were the obligatory next steps. 3-1 and effectively game over. Indeed, that’s where the scoring stopped and the game ended as Blackburn then had to endure ‘trial by TV’, waiting to see if Bristol City could equalise against Birmingham at the death. They couldn’t.

What else can we take from today? Well, it was a fond farewell for Alan McCormack whose decision to move on at the end of the season is one which has been made very public these last few weeks. The programme contained fitting tribute whilst the player himself made a gladiatorial entry to this footballing arena. His name ringing around three sides of a packed Griffin Park.

Sam Saunders was inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame at half-time whilst even ex-Bee Sam Wood was in attendance. He, along with Maxime Colin, amongst those enjoying the sunshine on the forecourt at half time.

We’ll round up the season properly over the next few days. For now, there’s the Player of the year evening to prepare for and a few more celebrations so we’ll cut this one dead here.

Although, in true Columbo style, there is just one more thing.

Seeing Harlee’s flesh pressed up so close to another player did make me recall that this isn’t the first time we’ve been here. Whilst perhaps not in such close proximity, who could forget that cheeky gatecrashing of Chris Wickham’s interview with then captain Kevin O’Connor ?

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Back in the day….

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Marcello Trotta returns, refs get tough, Bees buzzing and a new lucky omen? The week in social media.

31 Oct

Brentford recorded that marvellous 2-0 win at Loftus Road knowing that three points against Fulham on Friday night will move us into the play-off places. That said, one can’t fail to have noticed long time pacesetters Huddersfield go down 5-0 at the Cottage on Saturday – could things be tougher for the Bees this time around? That result was one mirrored at Brighton where Norwich City were obliterated whilst Newcastle stay top after easing past Preston by the odd goal in three. At the bottom (copy/paste) it is still Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham who make up the final three although a late winner for The Latics has also dragged Cardiff City towards the relegation places.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media. That said, there’s only one place to start – the last fall out from the victory at QPR. It was a victory that their fans haven’t taken too well  – these just two of the many.

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From the Brentford perspective, fans, players and club staff were in high spirits going in to the weekend. With even ‘official’ now joining in the with their own social media round up (welcome to the party) , you may have seen some of these already. But, as is noted, some things can be viewed again and again…..

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One final thought from the QPR game. Good omens. Regular readers to these pages may be familiar with comments about a lucky shirt (black, third, 2015/16, this year) or magic pants (spiderman) but it seems there is something that transcends all of these. Or, should I say, someone…

The legend that is Marcus Gayle. Specifically, when he is sitting alongside Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box.

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That’s some record. Having been present for Ipswich, Forest,  Preston and QPR our commentator par-excellence has shared the great news that Marcus is back on Friday night. Brentford have already made it 10 points from a possible 12 against Fulham in the last two seasons. Could his presence be the final inspiration for 13 from 15?

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Four wins but on the other hand, I’m sure it’s bigger than that

One final piece of Brentford feed refers back to the scandal revealed earlier in the week – namely that of Barnsley claiming victory in the half-time mascot race between Toby Tyke, Buzz and Buzzette. Whilst ‘official’ are yet to make any statement on the club site, as ever Twitter is the place to be where a voice from the club marketing team has made itself heard…..

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Ok. Marcello Trotta. We know what happened. Everybody has seen ‘that penalty’ Haven’t we? Oddly, most YouTube footage seems to have removed the ‘tussle’ between him and King Kev that preceded the eventual outcome although this fan shot efforts still captures it in part.

It still doesn’t get any easier viewing

So guess what happened when his Crotone side came up against Chievo in Italy’s Serie A at the weekend. Yes, another penalty and another…well, you see what happened.

That said, despite the painful reminder an afternoon we’ll never forget he did manage to put this one away.

Elsewhere in football……

Let’s hope armchair viewers have a thing for Leeds united in the coming weeks:

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Much to the disgust of his fellow supporters, man brings ‘cat’ to a football match….

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Referee, Mike Dean, has a very unusual pre-match habit….

Whilst another sounds off a warning to any young players who may want to mess around on pitch…

And it seems this is a global crackdown. As if showboating was bad enough, don’t think ’twerking’ is exempt either. I’ll leave you with this attempt from former Norwich City player Kei Kamara to channel his inner Miley….

Nick Bruzon

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

As suspension bites, who plays in defence for Derby? Can Bees ‘go again’?

18 Oct

It only seems like five minutes ago we were making that huge trek up to Newcastle United (and that was just the staircase in the away stand). Now Brentford find themselves on the road once again – this time Derby County is the destination. An immediate chance to bounce back or too much, too soon? Either way, such are the rigours of this double header that Dean Smith has elected to keep his team on their travels rather than returning to Griffin Park between games.

Newcastle was always going to be tough but they were half way down the track with the Bees still crouched in the blocks, the sound of the starting gun still ringing in our ears. It was 2-0 to the home side within what felt like ten seconds and Dean has publicly acknowledged our own defensive failings in that one. For the record, something most uncharacteristic this season. Changes are coming for the Derby game, although enforced.

Harlee Dean is suspended whilst Andreas Bjelland, covering at left back, “Has been nursing an ankle for two weeks”.That was the update fro Dean Smith on ‘official’ yesterday.  Will he be fit enough for tonight? Will Yoann start? At left back or centre back? Could Tom Field appear once more? Do we need to defrost Kevin O’Connor?

Only Dean knows for sure but his selection will be carefully scrutinised when it is announced at 7pm. Likewise in midfield where, if we’re being honest, the team were stretched and a few of the players were definitely second best.

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Newcastle United – did the experience get to us?

There are plenty of positives. We’ve got to where we are on merit and there won’t be any tougher trip this season than that to Newcastle. Both in terms of atmosphere and opposition. Jon Shelvey and Dwight Gayle were amongst those showing their Premier League class. Let’s not pretend that they are anything but top flight players.

Scott Hogan scored, again, whilst the Brentford fans kept going until the end. Much closer to the pitch at Derby than at the weekend, we’re sure to make our voices heard.

As for the Rams, they have their own injury worries. Likewise the weight of expectation can only, one hopes, be growing following Steve McClaren’s winning start. Is this the second coming of the Messiah or will he choke it tonight? Here’s hoping for the latter.

One thing I can say for sure is that Saturday has left me wanting so much more. Despite the years kicking around the lower divisions, I’m now getting used to the Championship. Visiting new grounds, playing new teams and testing ourselves at a much higher level. Newcastle was a step up from even that, as was Aston Villa (at least, in terms of stadium).

Call me greedy. Call me unrealistic. Bournemouth did it (although at what price). Could Brentford also achieve an unlikely promotion to the Premier League? A win tonight would plunge us into the heart of the play-off zone , subject to other results. Just how much do the players want it ?

At 7.45pm, we find out.

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Villa Park – another ground I want more of

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad, and the ugly. A week in football for Brentford and the rest

29 Aug

Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw that featured the greatest miss ever seen at Griffin Park. Huddersfield remain top of the pile with 13 points from 15 whilst Newcastle United have begun their slow, inexorable climb to the top of the Championship table having disposed of Brighton at St.James Park. That’s 3 out of 3 for the Magpies. Nottingham Forest and Barnsley are leading scorers after securing heavy wins. The former, in particular, eliciting a wonderful excuse from Leeds United boss Garry Monk. One that we will get to further on.

That’s the most recent Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the next of our regular Monday morning feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media over the last seven days.

We’ll start off, as ever, with Brentford. This time the game with Sheffield Wednesday. Given this column deals with things you might have missed, here’s one specifically for Lucas João. That. Miss.

You can play this again and again. It doesn’t get any better for the Wednesday man. It doesn’t stop raising a smile for Bees supporters.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, Brentford got away with murder in this one. Thanks, in no small part, to the wonder form of goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.What an acquisition he already looks as top drawer save followed top drawer save.

But for Sam Hutchinson’s injury time equaliser it would have seen his Griffin Park goal remain unbreached over August. Natalie Sawyer and BBC Billy Reeves nailed it, along with a somewhat bold update from the BBC man.

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Wow. Billy. That’s a big claim. I’ve nothing but the utmost respect for Billy’s opinions. Whether commentary delivered from his perch above the meridian line or gentle probing at the denouement of a game, he knows his stuff. So if he says this, then its safe to say that a new Brentford legend is already being created.

Personally, for now at least, the goalkeeper more simply known as Chesney to us terrace numptys remains ensconced in my ‘all time Brentford XI’. This, for the record, being :

Szczesny, O’Connor,  Evans (T) , Hreidarsson, Grainger, Evans (P), Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Deano, Bliss.

Which meant that this week’s Terrace Talk made very interesting viewing. Let’s be honest  though, Terrace Talk always makes very interesting viewing and this latest edition is no exception although it has had an early release this time around – hot off the presses on Saturday afternoon.

Peering behind the curtain, we get to learn ‘jumper man’s real name, aswell as watching  Billy, Sean, Mark Burridge and a whole host of supporters put together the all time best ever Brentford XI.

Sean Ridley – genius

The last piece of Brentford news this week comes from Kitman Bob. How many of you spotted this on Friday?

It’s not even September and already our (sartorial) fate for next season would seem to have been decided. Stripes? A sash? More white? The Funky Bee ? Just what have we got? I’m not sure I can handle the thought of going 10 months knowing that the information is already out there. Somewhere.  Any chance of a clue, Bob? Or do we need those pliers?

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Away from Griffin Park , we’ve got top comedy from Leeds United who lost 3-1 to Nottingham Forest at the weekend. Quite rightly, we picked up on the somewhat regrettable choice of words used by Dean Smith last weekend when he noted about our own loss to Rotherham: “The better team lost on the day but that’s football sometimes.”

My own observation at the time was  that , “It’s the sort of quote you’d expect from a Russell Slade or Steve Evans and whilst, perhaps, made on the spot is the type of thing we’ve all leapt on and laughed at in the past. Certainly, when made by an opposition manager.”

So there was no irony lost when less than a week later Steve Evans replacement at Leeds United (for now) Garry Monk seems to have picked up where his predecessor left off.  His post match update providing the headline of the day via Paul Taylor at the Nottingham Post (@Nottmtails on Twitter):

Garry Monk

But if Garry took defeat for his Leeds team badly, then the same needs to be said about West Ham United fans as they crashed out of the Europa League in the first European tie to be played in their new stadium.

There can’t be many of us who haven’t seen the level of fury emanating from this video clip.  A meltdown to make even the GPG seem tame by comparison. Not to mention a few somewhat inappropriate views on the opposition. Views not condoned by these pages.

For the record, anybody watching West Ham lose to Manchester City in yesterday’s televised game would have seen what is surely a new record for the Hammers. Even going by today’s over-hyped media standards.

There were just 9 seconds on the clock after kick off before the first mention of their ‘new ground’. And this, in an away game. Given they haven’t got a televised game (at least, for Sky viewers) until 30 October against Everton, hopefully this will be it for now. Hopefully…

Finally, mascot news. First up Grimsby Town who have taken an innovative approach to marketing. They’ve offered supporters the chance to be ‘Mighty Mariner’ , the equivalent of Buzzette, via an eBay auction.

Sadly, there were no takers. The listing closed without the £160 starting price being reached. Whether anybody subsequently filled the costume or got their hands on that giant fish remains unclear. Would Brentford fans pay for the chance to be Buzzette for the day? Stranger things have happened. And for charity, who knows……

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But if Mighty Mariner wasn’t popular, the same could never be said for the ever wonderful Kingsley at Partick Thistle. Huge thanks to @rickburin on twitter for reminding us of the sheer, unadulterated genius behind the creation.

I love Buzzette and could never forsake her for another. But Kingsley remains the stuff of dreams. What a star!

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Kingsley – who said romance was dead?

Nick Bruzon

The Last Word On….

11 Aug

With Championship action back on the agenda, Ipswich Town are next up for Brentford. As such, we have the first in a new regular feature about our forthcoming home opponents :  The Last Word on….  Much like ‘kit obsessive’, which will also return ahead of most home games, this features a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors with the results picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions (and to sensitive Manchester United supporters) here is: The Last Word on…..Ipswich Town

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both) : It can only be Jonathan Douglas, surely? What about Nicky Forster ? Marcus Bent, maybe? Who could forget Icelandic demigod Hermann Hreidarsson ?

But no, my choice goes to Jay Tabb.

Part of my all time Brentford XI (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett),  the Bees picked him up in 2000 after being released by Crystal Palace. The wing wizard went on to make 128 appearances, aswell as earning 10 Ireland U-21 caps, culminating in the doomed play off campaign (is there another type?) against Swansea City in 2006.

The ever-popular Tabby left for (then) Championship Coventry, has since tasted top-flight football with Reading before making just shy of 80 appearances for Ipswich Town.

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Tabby in action for the Bees

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees): It is only in recent seasons where our paths have crossed with any form of regularity – certainly in my lifetime. As such, I’m going for the opening game of last season’s Championship campaign. With Brentford fans getting their initial taste of life under Marinus Dijkhuizen it also marked our first game without Jonathan Douglas – the new head coach having immediately released him from his duties at Griffin Park.

Where else but Ipswich Town would be his next destination as the Tractor Boys, with the former Bee on the bench, swept into a two goal lead despite an appalling playing surface that would quickly adopt the pitchgate monicker. Just twelve minutes remained as Dougie entered the (ploughed) field of play with the score still set at 0-2.

This was still sufficient time for Douglas to both break Jota in an ‘accidental’ challenge that would see the ever popular Spaniard miss out for the next few months and oversee a near certain victory turn into a draw. Goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski in the heart of Jota time rescuing a 97th minute point for Brentford.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player) : For the casual observer, there can be only one choice. Famous names from the Ipswich Town’s heyday include those such as Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren and Mick Mills.

However, for me it has to be John Wark. Voted the club’s all time cult hero in the BBC’s 2004 poll, who am I to disagree? A Scottish international, he was their player of the year 4 times in 6 seasons over a career that encompassed three spells from 1975 to 1996. With FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner’s medals in his cabinet (not to mention acting honours) there can be no other.

Famous fan: Ipswich have a few. Their director’s box is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the rich and famous.Tom Chaplin from Keane, Charlie Eyebrows from Busted. Brian Cant. Yes, THE Brian Cant. Let’s hope The Tractor Boys don’t play away as wonderfully as the voice of TV’s Trumpton (kids, ask your parents).

But perhaps the biggest of all is Chester Bennington from U.S. rockers Linkin Park. Supposedly introduced to the club  by his father (a police office who had become friends with a fan from Suffolk one holiday) he has been pictured in the team colours  although it would seem he is yet to actually attend a game.

Presumably, if he did rather than sitting on the side you’d find him… in the end

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Bennington. A Tractor Boy, apparently…

Best ever league performance: There are sure to be plenty but one sticks out in particular for me. A top flight destruction of Manchester United by a staggering 6-0. That’s one short of brackets.

Back in March 1980 Bobby Robson’s boys, inspired by Town’s Dutch duo of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, destroyed a Manchester United side whose fans were left sining “We want 7(seven)”. Who doesn’t?

It could have been worse but for Gary Bailey in the United goal. The Red Devil’s ‘keeper saving three penalties, one of which had even been retaken.

It’s here, in fuzzy 80’s pixel vision

Moment of ignominy :4th March 1995. Roles were reversed. And then some. Manchester United setting a Premier League record for the largest winning margin as they humbled Town 9-0. Those beautiful brackets were achieved in little over an hour as they almost made it to double figures. Incredibly, less than 44,000 were present at Old Trafford for this one. How times have changed (or perhaps Season ticket holders were just impacted by trouble on the line up from Guildford).

Manager of the century ( most famous / popular manager) : There is only ever one answer to this question – the legend that is Sir Bobby Robson. In charge at Portman Road from 1969 to 1982, he took his club to the brink of the top flight title with a win ratio of close to 45% over this 13 year period.

Double silverware came with the 1977-78 FA Cup and the 1980-81 UEFA Cup before he left to take on an eight year spell in charge of the England team that culminated in that World cup semi-final heartache against Germany .

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement): You could pick any of the victories or cups noted above but, for me, Ipswich Town have a much bigger and totally unique place in football history. Specifically,  their representation in the film Escape To Victory.

This, a regular entrant to my all time ‘top ten’ films and one of that rare breed to successfully straddle the twin themes of football and WW2 POW camp escape

The aforementioned Wark appears (naturellement). As does Russell Osman, Robin Turner, Kevin O’Callaghan and Laurie Sivell. In addition, body doubles Kevin Beattie and Paul Cooper filled in for Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone during some of the ‘match action’ scenes.

John Wark and Pele. Together. Only in Escape to Victory.

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We can win this…..

Nick Bruzon

Jake joins? Farewell Bidwell, just don’t ‘do a Rowlands’

2 Jul

For all the positive news coming out of Griffin Park yesterday, many Brentford fans have been left distraught when it was announced that captain Jake Bidwell would be joining QPR. His move to Loftus Road had been rumoured for some time but now it has been confirmed. Wow !

What can you say? There were equal amounts of warmth and vitriol flying around yesterday, something to be expected. Not at Jake departing. He’s been with us since November 2011 and so it’s only natural he would move at some point. Short of Kevin O’Connor, the days of players seeing out their career at one club are very much the thin end of the footballing wedge.

Supporter frustration has been more at the choice of destination. There? Really ? That’s been very hard for many to take. The memory of Martin Rowlands kissing ‘that badge’ is one that remain fresh in the mind, even now. Supporter memories run deep and things like that aren’t forgotten.

Then there was a hashtag. #Jakejoins. Seriously? Is he taking up woodwork? Ewww. Not good. It would be fair to say he didn’t look overly comfortable in those signing photos. Perhaps it was just wearing a QPR shirt after so long in the red and white or just knowing he been landed with one of those much maligned twitter ‘handles’.

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Jake looks ecstatic at the news he has earned a hashtag

Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth. Firstly, a huge THANK YOU to Jake for everything he did at Brentford. He’s played a huge role in the team that bounced back from ’that penalty’, that got promoted to the Championship, that came within 180 minutes of the Premier League and then held their nerve last season, when all around were shouting doom and gloom, to end the season in ninth. A position which, for the record, was five points and three places ahead of the QPR side he now joins.

Next up, good luck. Seriously. I liked Jake, a lot. He always came across as the model professional and nobody could doubt what he meant to the team or the fans. Adding an attacking element, and goals, to his game only gave his play an extra dimension and we will miss him. Equally though, we will cope.

Last season showed how. The destruction of the squad that finished fifth was not pretty. The subsequent performances were painful, at times, but we got things together and have been left with a wonderful team. Tom Field gave a gob-smacking debut against Fulham when Jake did miss out and, surely, he’ll be lined up for that position now. Potentially, with support through the in-door (unless, of course, Dean is looking to convert another midfielder or, even, centre back? )

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Academy graduate Tom Field replaced Jake against Fulham

Players come and players go. Those who have left the Bees to line up against us in recent seasons haven’t had the easiest of times upon their return. Look at Andre Gray or Moses Odubajo. We’ve kept Clayton Donaldson quiet although I could never say a bad word about him, in any circumstance. Clayton was just fab.

And so was Jake.

I don’t envy him joining that circus up at Loftus Road. I certainly don’t envy him the reaction he is, undoubtedly, going to get from an element of our support – that’s football. Deal with it. I’m sure he will.

He’s made a decision that I am sure he sees in his best interests – financially and in footballing terms. We’ll miss Jake but we’ll be as strong without him.

Brentford finished 9th last season. QPR 12th. I fancy us to go better this time around. I fancy them to self-destruct.

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When I read #Jakejoins I presumed….

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs about Jake’s time at Griffin Park  then  you can do so now.

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

Normal service resumes on the pitch. Off it, a different matter

2 Apr

What a difference a day makes. Brentford finally got back to winning ways with as comprehensive a win as you could hope for at free falling Nottingham Forest. 3-0 and a second half performance that the subsequent highlights show was as one sided as the score suggests. And with Bolton Wanderers losing at home, Tuesday night could see the Bees all but secure safety whilst sending the doomed Trotters down to League One.

Much as I’d have love to have been at The City Ground, this was a game to far thanks to a family holiday. Fair play to those who made it up to Nottingham, if for no other reason than they had the pleasure of witnessing this first hand rather than struggling through Bees Player (more on that, later).

So where do we start? Well, as ever, this is all about ‘the other stuff’ rather than any serious match report. First and foremost, Brentford are now 9 points (effectively 10 with goal difference) clear of the relegation zone. In a season that has been haunted by sales, managerial crises (plural), pitch-gate and more injuries than the average episode of Holby City, to be all but safe is nothing short of, if not a miracle, due reward for the team and the fans

With Bolton Wanderers next up at Griffin Park, a win for The Bees will surely see us safe for another season. Let’s just be clear (and this has been said before but it’s worth repeating), Brentford are facing a third successive season in The Championship. Victory on Tuesday night should see us home whilst, combined with a win for Fulham, banging the final nail into the Bolton coffin.

And if ever you needed further incentive, results in the Premier League today left Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United four points adrift of safety. What a campaign already beckons in 2016/17 if we can see ourselves over the line.

Post match celebration on Social Media (specifically Twitter) provided all the expected exuberance from players and supporters alike. Not to mention some unusual posts.

Harlee Dean led the charge with the observation that the win was, “Like a total eclipse. A win and a clean sheet”.

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Perhaps it’s just me but I’m struggling with that one . Still, I’ll forgive Harlee anything he wants if results like that keep coming.

Then it hit me. I’m sure we’ve been here before. I’m happy to stand corrected but the last time Harlee ended up involved in anything Eclipse related, I’m sure it was more a case of his full moon ?

Kev coach

From Full Moon to a total eclipse

Nico Yennaris summed up the mood perfectly. His Twitter quote focussing on the positive rather than the obligatory ‘going again.’ Of all the players he has had to endure the most unwarranted criticism this season. And unfairly in my opinion. How pleasing that it was he who grabbed the decisive second goal today, at the same time opening his account for the Bees.

As he noted afterwards,  “Great to get back to winning ways. Excellent performance from the boys and delighted to get my first goal for the club” .

The other real point for those of us relying on the Internet for our match updates was the absence of Mark Burridge and Ciaran Brett on Beesplayer. I know Ciaran was present but his role seemed limited to a brief cameo rather than the excellent wingman position he’d made his own in recent weeks.

Instead, the returning Mark Chapman proved once more that being able to produce an award winning programme does not, by default, make you a pundit. And I’m sorry – I don’t want to sound critical on a day like today. But it just highlighted the fantastic service we’ve had this last month or so and Ciaran was sorely missed.

Likewise, instead of perhaps having an injured/ex player as part of the comms team and talking us through that ‘big match’ experience, we had Mark talking us through his miss at the Feltham Power League on Thursday night. Surely paying subscribers deserve better than this? Absolutely.

As for Mark Burridge, how do you replace perfection? With our commentator par-excellence now on holiday, Alan Denman had the unenviable job of filling in. Moreso, he was tasked with a first half that seemed to provide all the excitement of a pre-season friendly. That was no fault of his and, as we are all aware, the second 45 was certainly a different kettle of fish.

Actually, I thought Alan did well to keep it together. How do you make paint drying (first half, at least) sound exciting? But regardless of the action, or lack of, what was the reason behind the constant references to Yeneris rather than Yennaris; Lassa rather than Lasse ? I would never attempt commentary, or being a pundit, but is it really that hard to get the names of your team right?

As I say, it seems trite to be overly critical. The point is made more to demonstrate the symbiotic partnership we’ve been treated to from Mark B and Ciaran.

Let’s hope that, as we’ve seen today on the pitch, normal service is soon resumed off it once more.

Nick Bruzon

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