Tag Archives: League cup

A historical hat-trick awaits in the League Cup. But which way?

19 Sep

We’ve a return to league cup action tonight with Brentford looking to put what management see as the bad luck but wonderful performances in the Championship behind us and reach the fourth round of this tournament.  If so it would, incredibly, be just the third time ever. Standing between us and, even more incredibly, a draw that will take place at a normal time on a normal channel (Sky Sports news , following the Manchester United v Burton tie) are Norwich City. But can we get past the Canaries to reach a place we’ve been to only twice before ? For the record, 1982-83 and 2010-11 : losing at Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City respectively.

Well, if ever there was incentive to go for it then it has to be tonight. Putting aside our previous form in this tournament, victory would see us into the last 16 of a trophy where the unfancied teams have, historically, had a little bit more success than in the FA cup. Who could forget Bradford City (of league 2) getting all the way to the final in 2012/13 after beating Arsenal en route, Swindon lifting the silverware in 1969 (agasint Arsenal) , Luton doing the same in 1988 (also: Arsenal) whilst the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool have lost to lower league opposition on more than regular basis.

Yet for Brentford to find themselves in Wednesday night’s draw with a chance to do the same, first there is the small matter of Norwich City. It would be fair to say that last season’s Championship fixtures were amongst the most disappointing of all those games we played. Coming amidst a woeful run for both teams, the Bees didn’t even attempt to dial in performance as we were thrashed 5-0 at Carrow Road in early December. It was the proverbial game where we lucky to get nil and, it would be fair to say from anyone who had the misfortune to sit through it, that this really was one of the low points in an otherwise exciting season.

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So bad at Carrow Road last season that 1 on 3 outside the box became a penalty and 2-0

It was a performance only matched in the return fixture at Griffin Park on New Year’s Eve. That one finished 0-0 in a game where both teams were lucky to get nil. Even the prospect of sneaking out early to watch Mrs Browns Boys and Jools Holland bringing Roland Rivron out of cold storage for the annual ‘hootenanny’ seemed tempting at one point. Well, it didn’t. Nothing is that bad but this game did run it awfully close.

Yet from that point the Bees exploded into form. Despite rumours of Scott Hogan’s departure we started to get the wins and the performances in. The FA Cup against Chelsea aside. That one was less Mrs. Brown’s Boys and more Len Goodman’s Partners in Rhyme (and if you haven’t seen that one yet then please, don’t. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. Think budget level Catchphrase on acid with Len channeling the worst of a bad dad wedding speech).

Hogan even managed a goal against Birmingham City before injury his buttocks, apparently, and finally moving to Aston Villa.

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Mrs Brown. If December was bad, NYE wasn’t much better

Could we emulate the same tonight? Could the cup help motivate a Championship campaign where despite the efforts of the team and the self-belief of our head coach, results are not going as one would hope. Could this be the perfect fillip going in to Saturday’s bottom two clash with Bolton Wanderers? Reaching the fourth round, let alone a tie with likes of Manchester united, Arsenal or even Birmingham City – that latter one for more reasons than you could shake a stick at – would produce a fantastic buzz around Griffin Park at a time when perhaps it may come in handy.

Personally, I’ll be happy just being able to watch a fourth round draw without the need for an intravenous drip of double espresso (with an s, there’s no x . Restaturants, try using a dictionary) to help me through the night.

But for that to happen then we need to win tonight. Given we’ve only done this twice before in our entire history then let’s not take anything for granted. Indeed, I saw a stat yesterday (thanks to Jonathan Burchill on twitter) that said we’ve only even reached the third round three times. Burnley (1960) and then who else but Norwich City (19968 and 1991) as the teams to halt our progress.

Either way there’s going to be a historical hat-trick tonight. Will it be our third trip to the fourth round or a trio of Canary infused defeats at this stage?

At 7.45pm, we find out. See you there.

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Espresso for the draw? Give me expressb. Or preferably just Sky

Nick Bruzon

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Storm in a C cup. What a load of Reds Bull. Third round draw update.

24 Aug

Brentford will be home to Norwich City in the third round of the Rumbelows Cup. Over half an hour after the draw for the Milk Cup was scheduled to have begun, The Bees and Canaries were the fifth tie pulled out of whatever it was we were allegedly being pulled from behind the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Burton Albion. What a publicity seeking farce.

I’m not going to mention the Carling Cup by its official name. Call me petty, and I am, but I’m hacked off with it. I was prepared to embrace the madness of a 4.15am kick off but instead we were ‘treated’ to a behind closed doors slap in the face.

Clearly, this has all been done with the intent of getting people to talk about the sponsor. Perhaps, even, using their product after being up all night waiting for it to happen. No publicity is bad publicity and all that (although try telling Mr Ratner this).

Yet what followed, or didn’t until gone 4.30am, was as unlike a draw as one could ever hope to see. Warning about the build up on Sky Sports News disappeared. Instead, all we got was Mayweather giving it large about Saturday night’s cash cow. This segued into Wayne Rooney and his retirement from international football, apparently. But no draw. No coverage. No station had it. Not even the girls from ‘Channel 56’ .

I checked Twitter. Nothing. The Round Three draw is approaching, promised the Red Bull rip off merchants as Su Dong gave a brief presentation. Or, rather , there was a picture of Su Dong giving a brief presentation.

Follow it on Twitter they announced. Fair enough, but presumably ALSO on TV. As draws do?

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Follow it live. Erm, on twitter….

Sadly not. Instead, it was the news ticker at the bottom of the screen as what then turned out to be the slowest draw in the history of football trickled across the videprinter. Almost an hour after it had been scheduled to start, the last of the 16 ties had been confirmed.

Talk about tedium. Talk about protracted. It was slower than John Terry. Just why did it take so long? There was a good two minute gap between ties being ‘revealed’ on either Twitter or Sky’s scrolling thing. If this is the future of the Worthington Cup then its no wonder people are losing interest. The first round draw was a farce. The second, even more so. Although at least we got to see it. And we were still awake.

As an exercise in driving people towards their product then perhaps a partial success although purely out of necessity rather than desire. That said, mine’s a Red Bull.

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There’s the draw. Excitement, she wrote

As for the draw itself, at least we’re at home. With everybody hoping for the chance to take on the Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal reserve teams instead it is Norwich at Griffin Park. Hardly a glamour tie for either them or Brentford but at least a chance to progress. Something, I’m sure, both managers will be feeling.

For Brentford, an additional chance to get one over on a team who proved somewhat challenging last time out in the league. The televised tedium of the 0-0 on New Year’s Eve being marginally better than the 5-0 humping handed out at Carrow Road. Both games amongst the low points of an otherwise exciting season. And if you’d like to read more then …oh, I can’t be bothered.

Neither, could it seem, are the local press or Brentford official. At the time of writing (5.30), Get West London are yet to publish a story. Nor are the club. Chris Wickham and Tom Moore presumably taking the much more sensible option of being tucked up in bed still. Not together, just to clarify.

Instead, its on to Wolves on Saturday. Norwich City can wait for another day. As for the Manchester Uniteds of this world, perhaps in the Premier League instead.

Given the speed of this draw, that’s more likely to happen first. Now, who’s got a Red Bull?

Buzzette REd Bull

No C****** for this Bees fan. It’s the Red Bull cup now

Nick Bruzon

West London is ours. Who’s up next, whenever that is?

23 Aug

Somebody’s going to get a spanking soon enough“. Words used on these pages after the last few games as Brentford have seen dominance, possession and chances undone by bad luck and the odd moment of defensive ‘frailty’. Well, thankfully for The Bees it was QPR who were the right team in the wrong place. A 4-1 Carabao cup victory saw our biggest ever win at Loftus Road, a record that goes back to the first ever league meeting back in 1920. That’s just shy of a century. Our biggest away win against QPR in pretty much 100 years. Suck that one up, stat fans.

What a performance. With six of the team who played at Ipswich named once more, this wasn’t the wholesale revamp predicted by many. And hasn’t Dean Smith now been given a headache for the Wolves match on Saturday?

Flo Jo opened the scoring after just ten minutes. Shortly after doing so, his cross-cum-shot was redesignated as simply a cross and an o.g. chalked up to QPR defender Ariel Borysiuk. No matter, they all count and from that moment the die was cast.

Captain John Egan doubled the lead soon after. If we’ve had issues with some defensive curios in recent weeks, Rangers boss Ian Holloway must be having nightmares right now. How much space? Still, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth. Subsequent viewing of the Sky Sports highlights show just what that one meant to him.

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And you could see exactly what that one meant to him etc etc etc

But like an additional pizza cutter given away free with with a set of cooking knives on an infomercial, still there was more. Brentford’s third, on the half hour, was a thing of beauty. Romaine Sawyers, with confidence oozing through his body this season, cut the home team in half as easily as if he was serving up a ‘Ham and Pineapple’ with a ball that took out five players in one pass. Neal Maupay latched onto the end of it. His first time shot flying high into the back of the net from the edge of the box. It really was my pick of the bunch and due reward for both players.

Maupay has hit the ground running since coming from France. It is no wonder Brighton were interested in the player and testament to our scouting team that he has joined the Griffin Park revolution. As for Romaine Sawyers, what another (metaphorical) two fingers up to last season’s critics – where are they now? Nice one , Romaine 🙂

Likewise do check out the Sky highlights for the reaction of one home fan in the corner. This, shortly before the fire drill sounded. Just because you’re losing….. A goal every ten minutes and the QPR defence looking flakier than a leper eating a Cadbury’s chocolate bar in a bath. Could we be in line for those mythical brackets that come with 7 (seven) ?

Alas not. But to complain about such a thing would be trite. QPR got going (again?). One back before halftime saw a brief flurry in the second period but it was far too little, far too late. Josh Clarke made things safe to complete the evacuation of Loftus Road on 83 minutes. What a performance. What a result.

Yet perhaps the most telling moment of the night was the return to action of Ryan Woods. Named on the bench, he was applauded by the entire Brentford contingent. You won’t see much about his appearance in the mainstream match reports but we all knew what it meant. Its wonderful to see him back in what must have been really emotional circumstances.

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Emma Briden nails it on Twitter

All of which meant yours truly has been somewhat excited ever since. I slept in the spare room last night so as not to wake up Mrs Bruzon, having set the alarm for 4.10 am (apparently yes, there is a 4 AM, too) to see who we’ll get in the third round.

And so six hours later there was that ungodly clarion call. Bleary eyed, on came Sky Sports . There was ‘Through The Night’, but no cup draw. Did Chanel 5 have it? No.

A flick around the channels but it was nowhere. Not on the BBC. Not even ‘Dave’. Perhaps the Carabao Cup was going to extreme lengths and those ladies from the less salubrious channels ‘at the end of the dial’ were hosting it ? No. No. It wasn’t cup balls they seemed to be pulling. From a hat or otherwise. Move along. Fast.

Then it clicked. It was Wednesday morning. The Beijing based draw is 4.15am on Thursday. Well, thanks Carabao. Is this all just a ploy to make me consume your energy drink later in the day. Out of principal, I’m now going for Red Bull.

On the plus side, getting up early its given a chance to watch the highlights once more. Definitely the highlights.

Roll on THURSDAY morning and another night in the spare room. It’ll be worth it. I hope.

Buzzette REd Bull

No Carabao for this Bees fan. It’s the Red Bull cup today

Nick Bruzon

Will we be in the strangest draw yet after QPR game? Will you be there on Saturday for stadium news?

22 Aug

Brentford travel to QPR in the second round of the Carabao cup tonight with the tournament now sparking as much interest in the latest instalment of their guide to cocking up a draw as in the ties that precede it. And there’s some positive news on the stadium front c/o Beesotted, BU, The GPG, BIAS and the club with a forum taking place this Saturday prior to the Wolves game where the new plans will be discussed further

First up, the Carabao Cup (league cup). The Bees head to Shepherd’s Bush this evening for what promises to be a another fierce derby. We’ll be backed by a huge away following who will now doubt give the usual vociferous support. If you can get past the lack of leg room, restricted views in the upper tier and moribund – meaning dead or dying – atmosphere from the home support then Loftus Road is a great place to go.

But nobody is there for the creature comforts. If that’s your footballing raison d’être then I guess prawn sandwiches and premium seats are the way forward. We’re there for another 237 derby. Another chance to exert our recent superiority over the divisional rivals who so famously tried, and failed, to take over at Brentford. For another chance to remind Jake Bidwell of just what Jota did to him last season at Griffin Park. For another game against our closest geographical rivals.

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I wouldn’t disagree

Will Jota feature? Has his lower back injury cleared up? Can we get a first win of the season (in regular time)? It would certainly be a wonderful opportunity to get things back on track after some real Jekyll and Hyde performances. For every blitzkrieg attack has been some kamikaze defence. Bloopers at the back have been the theme that has, so far, proved very much the fly in the ointment of some very positive attacking play.

We don’t need to list the catalogue of error once more, suffice to say that this presents Dean an additional chance to settle on a first choice defence. To give his preferred foursome another run out. Assuming, of course, he doesn’t choose to mix things up with the game against Wolves swiftly followed by a trips to Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday prior to international break.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Who’d be a head coach?

The other point of interest around the action was Monday’s announcement that the third round draw will take place at 4.15am (yes, that’s the morning, not a typo) in Beijing, China. Whilst the decision is one which has been meet with widespread bemusement, the official blurb from the EFL tells us that: “Once the logistics have been completed in Beijing, the UK will be waking up and the breakfast media will be able to report and get reaction on the 16 ties that will take place next month, which we feel is an interesting move away from the usual post-game evening draws.”

Hmm. I’m convinced. It does seem farcical but there are bigger things to get excited about. This is hardly the prestige of the FA Cup third round draw. It is hardly an occasion graced by the gravitas of Jim Rosenthal. Besides, it is an approach that typifies the competition to date. Who could forget the disaster of the first round draw? Live from Thailand, the Facebook feed cut off after one team had been drawn whilst Charlton were pulled both home and away.

The second round draw, whilst taking place domestically, used a third pot to decide which of the regionally seeded teams would be ‘home’ or ‘away’. It left viewers and clubs baffled as John Salako got the colour of his balls mixed up. Brentford were among four clubs declared as ‘home’ but seemingly ‘away’ who had to eventually be reconfirmed as on the road for this one.

Perhaps having the draw at a time when most of the interested parties will be tucked up in bed is simply a means of avoiding any further fiasco. I feel for the likes of Tom Moore and our other local journalists / club officials who will now have to be up at this ungodly hour to prepare the news for us. Or will it simply be a case of setting up the VHS, waking at 6 and hoping nobody else has woken up yet?

In other news, the fourth round draw will be held on the side of an active volcano. Immediately after the draw for the fifth has already taken place live on the International Space Station. But for a competition that famously once saw Donald Trump pulling the balls alongside Saint and Greavsie, nothing would surprise me.

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Donald Trump pulls Norwich City to play Tottenham. BAD. FAKE DRAW

And finally, with the news about Lionel Road still proving to be the subject of much debate it was announced yesterday that a fans forum will tale place on Saturday prior to the Wolves game. With the new plans being submitted to Hounslow Council this Thursday, there’s nothing we can do to alter the revamped physical build. As has already been noted on these pages, given the route taken by the club this was never going to be possible. Whether we wanted to or not. Moreso when no comment had been made, even after Tom Moore spilt the beans a week early. That’s not support of the approach but a fact of life as to our present situation.

Many fans are disappointed by this. Understandably. But is there still a chance to impact the mindset of the club? Even on things as unclear and worrying as the 3000 Premium seats. Will this create a them and us culture – something that would be totally ‘un-Brentford’ at a club where we pride ourselves on that wonderful sense of family. Happy-clappy sentiment doesn’t pay the bills but could it see us priced out?

Besotted have all the details of the event, which you can find here. If you have any questions /concerns then please get along. Chairman Cliff Crown, Mark Devlin and Donald Kerr will be amongst those on the panel.

See you there.

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Beesotted amongst those to organise this event

Nick Bruzon

Dean’s captain call. The right decision or is there more afoot?

9 Aug

Brentford progressed to round 2 of the Carabao cup with a 3-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon, albeit needing extra time to complete the job. Yet with Nottingham Forest next up, the talk remains around that of captain Harlee Dean. Or, rather, former captain Harlee Dean. With the Sheffield Wednesday rumours hanging around like a bad smell and the player out of contract at the end of this season, Dean Smith has chosen to hand the armband to Nico Yennaris.

League cup progress was nice. Very nice. Even if we are going back to August 2013 for the last time we won a tie in regulation time. Farid El-Alagui popping up to get a 90th minute winner in a 3-2 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge at Griffin Park. But going through is all you can ask for and a rocket for Romaine Sawyers, followed up by an extra time beauty from Ollie Watkins and Justin Shaibu (in the very last minute) were sufficient to achieve that aim.

But it is the captaincy where the talking points remain. Dean Smith confirmed to Get West London that Harlee ”Is in a bit of limbo with contract negotiations. With that going on it’s right that someone else carries the armband.” This, before adding that, “I’m sure his representatives are pitching him around to other clubs as well”.

A reference to the Sheffield Wednesday rumours? Great bluffing by Harlee’s ‘people’ in contract talks? Who knows? But with three other quality centre backs in the wings, its not a game of bluff I’d overly fancy playing. Certainly, if my long term future was at Griffin Park. Might Dean and Matthew actually just decide to ‘cash out’? Should they?

You can’t criticise a player for exploring opportunities. That’s human nature. If, indeed, these are available. Could it simply be a case of holding out for the best offer Brentford are prepared to put in front of him? Only Harlee knows that and only time will tell. But with the Bees travelling to Sheffield Wednesday on 12th Sept, after the transfer window has slammed shut, it will be very interesting to see the shape of our squad at that point.

For me, the choice of Nico was as intriguing a one in as much as who wasn’t picked. For me, and regardless of transfer talks, Harlee wouldn’t be my captain anyway. Unless truly exceptional, no defender would.

Whilst he had a wonderful season last time out, culminating in those player of the years awards, there was still the odd rush of blood to the head. Nobody can doubt he wears his heart on his sleeve and stands up for his team mates but with referees taking a harder line stance, shouting loudest isn’t necessarily the only tool in the captain’s box.

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Leading by example? Or a rush of blood?

For me, positionally, I’d want my captain at the centre of the action. Sure, he still needs that Harlee style ‘bite’ but, as much, the ability to help dictate play. To carry out the manager’s orders. To be where he can be most effectively seen and heard. And that for me is midfield. Preferably centre. That for me is Nico, Josh, Kamo or Ryan Woods.

Kamo is too new. Josh too inconsistent, for now. Nobody can doubt Nico has been around this squad for a few years and more than earned his stripes. He has shown wonderful maturity in overcoming those initial boo-boys to make a centre midfield berth his own.

The goals are equally impressive. It’s a surprise call but a good one aswell as recognising a player who has shown long term commitment to the club. A player who has, almost by stealth, become a ‘King Kev’ style part of the furniture. And that’s meant in a complimentary style.

Yet, equally, I’d have to ask why Ryan Woods has been overlooked. He started on Saturday against Sheffield United. Nico didn’t. John Egan was captain. Woodsy was man of the match in the eyes of many observers – despite the vote going to the ever popular Jota.

True, he didn’t make the team last night but even at the start of last season I’d gone on record of saying Ryan was my choice. For whatever that is worth. He went on to have a blinder, culminating in his being named ‘player’s player of the year’. With a long contract under his belt and this clear demonstration of respect from his team mates, surely he’d have been nailed on if Harlee was having this privilege removed?

Which begs the question of why? Is there an ulterior factor at play? Sunderland talk was rife a few weeks ago although, thankfully, that has gone quiet. For now. Could it just be that Ryan doesn’t want that extra responsibility? Or is it simply that Nico is deemed the best man for the job in Dean Smith’s eyes?

If so then I’m chuffed to bits for him. What an honour. He’ll absolutely do us proud.

At the end of the day (Clive), I’m just the numpty on the terrace with no access to the club inner circle or what gets said behind closed doors. It’s just a question being thrown out there as to what people think and who would they choose?

Instead, I can only call it as I see it from the stands. As a supporter. Whilst Ryan would have been my pick, bring on Captain Nico. Bring on Nottingham Forest. Let’s see what he can do in the league.

I can’t wait for Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Will we slip on another potato skin or dodge that lower league bullet ?

8 Aug

It seems like only five minutes ago that Brentford performed those League cup heroics against Hull City and Everton, before narrowly missing out on Round 5 via a last minute equaliser and penalties against Birmingham City at St. Andrews. Infact, it was 2010 and The Bees first XI included the likes of Mickey Spillane, Craig Woodman and Pim Balkestein. Whilst the squad has evolved from that small League One group it would be fair to say that our record in the competition hasn’t been a great one since then. Could Tuesday night’s game in Kingston against AFC Wimbledon see us get back to winning ways?

The wins over higher division Hull and Everton were wonderful occasions, no question. The latter in particular seeing a practically full strength Premier League team beaten by a never say die Brentford XI. Gary Alexander scored the equaliser and Charlie MacDonald even had the luxury of seeing a penalty saved before the eventual spot kick triumph. Richard Lee the man on form then.

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Gary Alexander does his thing against Everton. 1-1

Now, we are the team to be shot down. A high performing Championship club travelling to an AFC Wimbledon side whose own ascension through the divisions and struggle to find a home has been a story in itself. Yet the game presents a huge potato skin for a Brentford side that is sure to be changed one from that which lost out to Sheffield United on Saturday.

The last time we won a League Cup tie Montell Moore and Nick Proschwitz (not a typo) were amongst the scorers in that defence shredding 6-6 at Dagenham and Redbridge. Kevin O’Conor played what was, if I am correct, his last ever game for the Bees – scoring what proved to be the decisive spot kick in the subsequent shoot out.

Since then the wheels have come off somewhat. We lost at Griffin Park to Fulham. At the time, something of a rarity for the Cottagers whom we would go on to take 10 points out of 12 from over the course of the following four league games. Didn’t Jota do something in the last minute, too?

Then there was the humiliation handed out by Oxford United at home as the Marinus experiment came crashing down to earth with a bump. Regular readers may be aware this gets mentioned a lot but it is important to never forget how bad that was. The team he selected was one which, long term, had a few players who are now regular (Nico, Lasse, Andreas) but at the time was an untested mixture of youth and new faces. 3-0 down in 12 minutes, that we only lost 4-0 was the main miracle of the night.

It was the consummate example of the flawed logic in both wholesale, untested change and woeful man management. Never forget.

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The Oxford United fiasco  / Marinus experiment (neither being prog rock bands)

Then last season it was the turn of Exeter City to dump us out in the first round. Despite Harlee Dean, John Egan, Josh Clarke and Sam Saunders amongst those picked, Brentford struggled to a 0-0 before Ryan Hartley got an extra time winner for the Grecians.

And now is the time to go again. I can only expect more change tonight but this time I fear for Wimbledon. Harlee is available after suspension.Yoann Barbet was benched on Saturday. Likewise Maxime Colin. Expect the pace of Josh Clarke down the flank and surely starts for Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins. I’d imagine Flo Jo will begin on the left with with a very strong bench, just in case.

As the higher placed team we’re there to be shot down, just as Everton and Hull were all those years ago. That’s one of the privileges of being a Championship side and, sadly, a bullet we’ve taken more than once in recent years.

Will this time around be any different? A full house of Bees fans will be there to roar us on with only 200 tickets remaining on the gate. Watch out for the traffic delays though and get there early.

See you there. Until then, here’s one of the highlights from the Everton game. When our mascot was told to keep holding the hand of his young counterpart, he took that instruction quite literally.

 

Nothing puts Peter Gilham off his stride

Nick Bruzon

Is this an FA Cup plum tie or potato skin? Could ‘you know who’ return?

6 Dec

The FA cup third round draw has happened. With Brentford fans hoping for the likes of a Manchester United or a Chelsea, we have been drawn at home to a non-league team with the winners of the replay between Halifax Town and Eastleigh due to visit in January. The later, of course, now managed by Martin Allen who will no doubt be chomping at the bit for a return to the place where he is still considered a hero to many. Bees supporters will no doubt be chomping at the bit just for a chance to progress. Aside from our current form (filed in the ‘where are they now’ drawer), our previous efforts starting at this stage have all seen us at home and all seen us dumped out. Grimsby Town, Brighton and Walsall delivering the respective killer blows. Prior to that, we’re going back to the 30s and 40s,

The third round draw is one of football’s most exciting moments. That point where any permutation of random pairings is possible. Would it be a Premier League club at home? Might we embark on a journey to one of those famous stadia such as Old Trafford or Anfield? Do we face a road trip to a lower division team – the sort produced in the Preston v Arsenal, Leeds v Cambridge or Bolton v Crystal Palace ties?

Instead, we have none of that. We’re at home, which is nice from the comfort factor, but with a tie that is less a plum and more a potato skin of the highest order. On paper, the divisional gap should be far too great. Brentford will be odds on favourites to progress whilst the visitors, whoever they are, will have nothing to lose. Yet we all know that isn’t how football works.

With Dean Smith’s team on a less than favourable run (I swear if he says the word ‘blip’ once more I won’t be responsible for my actions) this could be a season defining game. It is now there on the calendar as a point where we can look, once more, to make some progress in this oldest of Cup competitions.

Will Dean repeat the mistakes he made last season in the horror show at home to his former club Walsall? If ever there was a game to win it was that one yet the Bees were outclassed by a team who were clearly up for it and with a point to prove. It was an afternoon that I never want to experience again, moreso when you chuck into the mix all that nonsense with FCM at half time. Random laps of honour rarely work (see also: the unveiling of the smudge shirt – and if ANYBODY even has a picture of that, please get in touch….) but this one was utter madness and the ultimate kick in the nuts for those loyal supporters braving the elements.

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The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon last time out

And that is what worries me. Not the thought of a half time parade, but a repeat of last season’s cup complacency from Brentford (see also: Marinus v Oxford). Whoever we play will be desperate to make a name for themselves and, without being arrogant, we are now an established Championship side, despite our humbler origins. But that doesn’t give an automatic right to progress just because of the gap in the table.

Martin Allen has been there and done it. He masterminded our fourth round defeat of Premier League Sunderland ten years ago whilst was that close to taking the Bees to a quarter final at Manchester United. Southampton eventually, getting the better of us in a fifth round replay. If anybody knows how this works it will be him whilst nobody needs the media circus that his presence will bring.

Hopefully, Dean and the team will have rediscovered our form by then. We’ve got 6 games between now and that one, starting on Saturday with Burton Albion. Hopefully Dean will take it seriously and play a full-strength team with a desire to go out there and win. The cup has a wonderful place in our hearts at Griffin Park and what happened last season, in both competitions, was horrific, embarrassing, shameful etc

Whilst cup success has been an infrequent visitor,  when it comes along it is a wonderful thing. The place is buzzing and the mood, especially in the build up to that next tie, is a wonderful experience. Just look at the Chelsea tie (although it’s nice that we can no longer sing:  ‘Champions of Europe we’re coming for you’  in relation to our West London neighbours).

Saunders territory Chelsea

These are the sort of cup memories I want

Whatever people’s opinions about this one being any form of foregone conclusion, think again. Recent FA Cup ties agasint non-league opposition haven’t been as easy on paper as they were expected to be. 2013 saw the 5-0 defeat of Marcus Gayle and Staines Town in the first round but prior to that we’ve struggled. The 2011 defeat of Basingstoke was by the slenderest of margins – Sam Saunders with a free kick on 7(seven) minutes being the difference between the two teams and,sadly, coming before Kitman Bob and the BBgiveaway were a thing.

But it was that woeful second round loss at Barrow, in front of the TV cameras, back in November 2008 that really sticks out. A chance to square off agasint the big boys was instead flung aside as Andy Scott’s team were dumped out 2-1 and left with ten players on the pitch. Substitute goalkeeper Lloyd Anderson coming on for the red carded Ben Hamer.

Come January, let’s just hope the lessons from history, from last season and most importantly from current form have been learned. If we win, nobody outside TW8 and the losing team will give it any notice. Anything less and they’ll be the sort of headlines Dean Smith won’t want to wake up to.

Look, let’s be positive here. Whoever you play, the chance to go into the fourth round of the FA Cup is something that should produce a buzz of excitement. It should be a pressure free game where we can play of fun and the potential lure of an even bigger carrot as we progress. Whilst I’m aware of the pitfalls, I’m also cautiously optimistic. Surely there’s no way we’ll have a repeat of last season as long as Dean does it right?

See you in 2017. Now, where’s my tinfoil?

Sam Saunders doing his thing back in 2011

Nick Bruzon

Looking good or bad dress sense? Kit Obsessive: Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday

26 Aug

Following on from today’s other new , regular feature (The Last Word on….) part of the big match build up to every Brentford home game now includes a revisit to the Kit Obsessive feature. With Sheffield Wednesday being Saturday’s visitors to Griffin Park, it’s another chance to wallow in kit heaven and kit hell.

Originally formed in 1867 as the Wednesday Cricket & Football Club, it wasn’t until 1929 that the team we now know as Sheffield Wednesday were officially recognised by that name. The intervening 62 year period had given them plenty of time to develop their famous strip of alternating blue and white stripes to the point that, sponsorship aside, it remains pretty much ‘as was’ to this very day.

But then, like Brentford, how much can you do with a design that simple yet that effective? Quite a lot, actually.

Along with some interesting variants including the occasional flirtation with Loftus Road style hoops (last seen in 1945-46), the club have gone ‘all blue (albeit white sleeved), thick, thin and even adopted the dreaded pin-stripe style that graced our own ‘Funky Bee’ kit at the back end of the ‘80s.

Sheff Wed PIC 1Added to this, though, is probably one of the most recognisable club badges the world over. Their stenciled  ‘owl’ motif first appeared in 1973 and, aside from a brief rebrand from ‘95-’99 has been in place right up until this season’s (presumably short term) rebrand.

For me, this is an integral a part of the club shirt as their primary colours and, as such, plays a role in our selection of the Fantastic Four that go on to make up: The best; The worst; The away; The unfortunate design/Retro Classic

The best: Umbro 1990-91 From1987-89 Wednesday succumbed to one of the many football fashion crimes of the late 80s – thin stripes. Very thin stripes. More white than blue, the shirt puts one in mind of our own from that era (the one that looked pink from a distance of anything over ten yards away.

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Then Umbro redeemed themselves with a kit that, some additional branding and change in sponsor aside, didn’t change from 1989-1993. And, frankly, why would it need to? With thick blue and white stripes, and the only additional colour being to highlight the club badge and technical sponsor, the floppy collar helps add a real ‘old school’ look to this most classic of designs.

However, for that most quintessential of the bunch I’m opting for the version worn in the 1991 Rumbelows (league) Cup final.  A 1-0 triumph over Manchester United (who doesn’t like to see that?) for the then second division side was achieved the same year they managed promotion to the top flight.

And, dare I say it, an example where the dark lettering on the sponsor actually gives a little balance to the vast, empty spaces we’d all taken for granted in the years prior to corporate involvement in football.

Sheff Wed PIC 3

The Worst: Puma 1995-96 With all apologies to any Wednesday fans reading, this is everything wrong with a football shirt. I had considered picking the aforementioned 87-89 but was then reminded of this.

Gone is the famous owl, to be replaced by a mess of a badge. It includes a ‘retro’ 60’s style owl, along with a shield, stripes, the club name three times (twice as SWFC), a reminder they play at Hillsborough and even a Yorkshire rose.

But just incase you weren’t sure who the club were, there is an additional SWFC badge on the opposite side to the shield. And that’s not all.

Printed directly into the middle of the shirt itself is yet another SWFC, in grey. This one is so large it is part obscured by the sponsor and central stripe so looks more as though somebody has just sneezed on it. I won’t even start on the bizarre combination of thick and thin stripes that leave a mostly white feel to this shirt.

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The away: Umbro 1987-88 Whilst that season’s home shirt may have been a car crash, the away version was a triumph. I’ve got a soft spot for silver kits after our own Community Sports Trust version saw us go unbeaten in the colour but this one knocks it out of the park.

A shimmering silver effort from Umbro saw the traditional owl in place – always a good start. But what really sets this apart is that the whole thing is then set off with diagonal lilac and white pin stripes. Sponsored by Finlux (European TV magnates, apparently) on paper this really shouldn’t work but in the flesh it is a thing of beauty.

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The Retro Classic – Bukta 1977-81 I’m not going to lie – I’ve cheated a bit here. This shirt is a retro classic and deserving of a place in any hall of fame. Nothing more pretentious to it than the traditional stripes, Bukta branding and an early incarnation of the now standard badge.

But the defining reason for selection sees it as the one that most Brentford fans will associate with Andy McCulloch, who joined the Hillsborough club after initially being tapped up by Ian St. John whilst departing Griffin Park on a stretcher. As Andy himself noted, “The two clubs I loved playing for were Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford“.

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

Nick Bruzon

What lessons can we learn from West Ham and Bournemouth ?

23 Aug

Saturday can’t come soon enough. Brentford have a home game with Sheffield Wednesday and already it seems like an eternity since that 1-0 defeat on the road at the weekend. There was little to update fans with yesterday  – no surprise being a Monday – and we aren’t involved in League Cup action this week following the capitulation against Exeter City. Fortunately, a video has started doing the rounds from the West Ham v Bournemouth game on Sunday to keep us entertained.

Bournemouth are, to some , the romantic team who punched against the big guns to surprise all comers during their first Premier League campaign last season. To others, the side who overspent well beyond their means as they got promoted from the Championship in 2014/15 at the expense of Brentford and the rest. Whilst we may have ended up on the moral high ground, along with a fine Mark Warburton inspired 3-1 victory under our belts last year (Feb 2015), they are the ones who embarked on that huge TOTL (top of the league) run before eventual success.

Cow chaos bourenmouth brentford

I do miss our games with Bournemouth

As for West Ham, you may not have realised this but apparently they moved stadium over the summer. If only somebody had mentioned it. Just once, to give us a clue that a move was imminent.

Ironically, despite all the planning, it seems their new home is still not ready. Certainly, if the photos doing the rounds on Sunday are anything to go by where it seems season ticket holders turned up to find their seat had no actual, erm, seat.

This, of course, is already old news. Such is the speed at which the Internet moves that the picture has already had close to three and half thousand shares on Twitter. Fairplay to West Ham supporter ‘Paul’ who wouldn’t give The Sun permission to use it, instead allowing his club the chance to respond first.

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It has been a time of huge celebration for West Ham. We’ve already had the first friendly in their new stadium, the first European game there and the first Premier league game/goal/win. No doubt we’ve still got the first league game under lights and the first  FA Cup game to come.

I can only imagine the latter will be a huge occasion given as, seemingly, they won the competition back in 1980.  Like their new home and 1966 World Cup triumph, something else that never gets mentioned in journalistic circles. For all you pub quiz fas out there, Trevor Brooking grabbed the winner I believe. Store that one away – it’ll come in handy.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the first game when their new stadium isn’t mentioned. Experts predict that could come as soon as February 2017. In the short term, the media love in with the Hammers continues. Sunday sees their third Premier League game in a row televised.

But it was the weekend encounter with Bournemouth (now BOTL), West Ham’s first televised league game at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon against a team whose name begins with B in their new Stadium, that provides the pick of the action.

Only 792 people have seen this, at the time of writing, but there’s no place to hide in a modern stadium. TV cameras everywhere and moreso in a televised game. As this Bournemouth fan discovered…

A Bournemouth supporter caught green handed

From all this, let’s hope Brentford learn at least two lessons for Lionel Road.

Given the amount of work already poured  into the design I can’t for one second imagine we’ll face similar issues. Yet, if nothing else,  it does make you realise that even the most basic elements can, sometimes, be overlooked.

Whilst adequate seating is a priority, let’s not forget about the catering either.

Lionel Road

Lionel Road. Let’s get the seats and food right

Nick Bruzon

A tale of three Pauls and one Psycho. The Last Word on….

16 Aug

Brentford host Nottingham Forest tonight. With round 3 of Championship action  upon us, all being well we can divert ourselves from gantry based chat long enough to look at tonight’s opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and tonight Forest are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

Brentford Forest

Brentford take on Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park tonight

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Very much a tale of three Pauls, here . Our first being the goalkeeping legend that is Paul Smith. One of the finest players between the sticks in modern times, he turned out over 100 times for the Bees after signing from Carshalton back in 2000. A move to Southampton to help the club out of a financial hole would eventually follow in 2004 before he found himself at the City Ground.   Last seen at Griffin Park back in January 2013 where his single handed heroics almost stopped the Bees progressing past Southend United and an FA Cup fourth round tie with Chelsea

Next up, Paul Evans. Much like last week’s pick, Jay Tabb, part of my all time Brentford XI based on those I’ve seen play on a regular basis (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett) .

What can you say beyond “Evans. From the half way line.” Not once but twice. In successive games . What a pair of net busters and what a player. 34 goals from midfield in 157 games, along with a cap for Wales , tells its own story of a wonderful career at Griffin Park.

Like so many, his time came to an end after ‘that’ play off final against Stoke City. Move along please, nothing to talk about there.

The picture quality is awful; the technique wonderful

However, our winner is not so much a player as a caretaker manager, in Paul Williams. The one time Brentford logistics manager taking up the role of assistant to head coach Lee Carsley back in October of last year.  Paul was famously honoured by Lee when the winners of October’s manager of the month aware were announced, with Carsley saying “Every decision I have taken in the past month has been made between myself and my assistant Paul Williams.If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month

December saw a parting of the ways, however, with Paul taking the opportunity to become first team coach at Nottingham Forest and even caretaker manager for the last couple of months of the season. That was long enough to keep them up although, in a result that left Paul “really disappointed” his knowledge of the Bees was insufficient to stop us recording a 3-0 away win.

The Brentford encounter ( noteworthy game with the Bees). We’re going back almost 35 years but have picked our 1982 League cup fourth round tie. Incredibly, the furthest we’ve reached in the competition (and last week’s result at Exeter City isn’t helping that record any) it saw the Bees facing a game against Brian Clough’s best team in Europe.

Brentford were expected to be on the end of a good hiding and, whilst we eventually succumbed 2-0, Paddy Roche  made sure it was a lot closer than the pre-match predictions would have had you believe. Talking to the Bees goalkeeper about this game a few years ago, he noted the expectation levels that had been present in the home side and the reason these weren’t met “They were a top side then and we gave them a good run. That is one of the best memories of my career, probably. Gary Birtles was playing at Forest for the match that night and I’d been with him at Manchester United. He came in and told me after the game that Brian Clough had said to the Forest players “The reason you didn’t win six or seven nothing was because you played against the best ‘keeper you been up against all season”.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player). This is where it gets interesting. Million pound man Trevor Francis? That colossus of a centre back Des Walker, whose Nottingham Forest career encompassed 20 years and two spell from 1984 to 2004? What about pineapple coiffeured Jason Lee or the man whose goal sealed the 1980 European cup final, John Robertson?

However, for most neutrals there is one name synonymous with Nottingham Forest on the playing front and that, of course, is Stuart Pearce. A three time player of the year, this tough tackling full back was dubbed ’Psycho’ for good reason with a reputation, and an ability, that preceded him.

A first choice on any team sheet (club or country), how the national team must wish they had his like available for selection once more. With over 500 appearances for Forest under his belt, he was the epitome of the man who gave his all when on the pitch.

Stuart Pearce of England celebrates after scoring his penalty

Stuart Pearce – an iconic image

Famous fan. Nottingham Forest are very well served in this category. Those with a musical yearning can look to James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice. Then there are the likes of Stuart Broad or golfer Lee Westwood from the world of sport.

And of course, those with an ear to the radio will know that Absolute Radio breakfast show news reader Matt Dyson is an ardent Forest fan.

But the pairing I’d love to see in the director’s box are better known from our screens. Jason Statham is to acting what Stuart Pearce was to tackling. Just don’t mess, walk away, nothing to see here. I love his films. There’s no subtly and that’s just fine. Sit back, switch off and enjoy.

Then, you have the anti-Stath. Su Pollard. Best known, of course, for playing over-enthusiastic chalet maid Peggy on Hi-De-Hi (kids, ask your parents) if ever you had the polar opposite to the man who played Chev Chelios (Crank) and Frank Martin(The Transporter), amongst others, then here you go.

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Peggy. The anti-Stath

 

Best Ever League Performance. Not so much a game as a streak. Forget Arsenal and their so called invincibles (please, just forget Arsenal) on 26 November 1977 the club embarked on 42 match unbeaten run with a 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion . It was a run that lasted over an entire year before eventually coming to an end in December 1978. This, not before their final result in the streak, a 1-0 win over Bolton, set a record that would last for over two decades .

Moment of ignominy (what it says – opposite to above) Relegation from the Premier League in 1993. I take no pleasure form those words, either. Brian Clough subsequently retired and a team who, as somebody growing up watching football had been one of THE names to both respect and fear, had seen a golden era finally one to an end.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Can most neutrals even name another Nottingham Forest manager? It can only be Brian Clough.

You could write book on the man who managed Nottingham Forest from 1975-1993. And many have tried. So how do you pay justice to one of the most charismatic managers in football history in one paragraph?  The simple answer being that you can’t.

With the charisma also came success. He took an unfancied team all the way to the league title, numerous trophies and back to back European cup wins. Always seen as very much anti-establishment but the suits at the FA, what would have happened had he been given a chance to run the national team?

An absolute legend and one who is very sadly missed.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). For a club to win one European Cup is an incredible achievement. Moreso one who had, seemingly, come from nowhere in just a few short seasons as Nottingham Forest did when they triumphed over Malmo. Yet to repeat that feat just 12 months later, this time Hamburger SV being the victims, is simply stunning.

Interestingly, despite the huge standout of that silverware and the titles, Brian Clough is noted as seeing that unbeaten 42 streak as his greatest achievement. And who am I to argue?

Nick Bruzon