Tag Archives: Lincoln City

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

21 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Once a Bee; now an Owl

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

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

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

That. Band. Never forget.

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

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

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

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Nick Bruzon

On a day of incredible shocks, have we found a new ‘best worst ever’ ?

19 Feb

With no Brentford action over this weekend there’s no real Championship action to talk about today. Instead, there’s a flashback to yesterday’s column looking at the FA Cup and the best/worst of football films where, it would be fair to say, one has most definitely got away. First up though, Lincoln City and their incredible FA Cup win at Burnley.

What can you say? It was the archetypal cup tie and a captivating game from start to finish. Andre Gray and James Tarkowski were amongst those left looking very much non-league (please, stop sniggering) whilst Joey Barton’s second half collapse in the box was a piece of football acting so bad it made When Saturday Comes, one of the films under discussion in yesterday’s column,  seem positively Shakespearean in comparison.

Here’s hoping the FA take some retrospective action. It was a terrible example for any young children who may have been watching etc etc etc and a chance missed by the BBC. Whilst, rightly, focussing on Lincoln’s incredible triumph Barton was mostly glossed over. Whilst he was discussed, his antics would be described on Match of the Day as “Just Joey’s game” – see also, his shove in the face of Terry Hawkridge.

It may be “Just Joey’s game”. It’s not the FA’s, though. Old habits seemingly just can’t go away as the whole sorry performance was glossed over. No irony has been lost today with this tweet subsequently resurfacing.

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What a performance from Lincoln. How nice to be talking about City rather than Red Imps of Gibraltar on these pages. And what a disaster for Burnley. If only they’d played like that when Marinus took Brentford to Turf Moor last season. Come to think of it, the way we played that day, we’d still have gone down .

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Turf Moor last season. Any excuse to crowbar this one in – love that unicorn

It was a wonderful cup upset with another one appearing on these very pages. One of those rare instances where yours truly has actually called something correctly. It won’t last although, whilst I’m on something of a streak, let’s tempt fate and back Brentford to beat Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.

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The other topic under discussion yesterday was the portrayal of football on screen. The good, the bad and those efforts which crossed over into both camps. Yet one was missed. One I’d never, ever heard of yet now seen, am giving serious consideration to tracking down if the trailer is anything to go by.

Big thanks to supporter Marc Loewenthal for sharing, this : Hot Shot.

Coming soon. To a betamax near you

The 94 second trailer features, amongst other things : temporarily washed up Pay-lay (that’s Pele to you and I), an up and coming hot head,  an 80’s synth pop soundtrack and a training montage.

A training montage ! A. Training. Montage. In a trailer ! How good must this film be that they can afford to offer up this most iconic of sequences in the teaser sequence?

With a script that seems hammier than Joey Barton’s acting, the producers may aswell have just lifted it straight from the bucket marked , “One was a cop who played it straight. The other wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to get results. Yet, somehow, this unlikely pairing could just be the ones to crack the case and save the day

Nice one , Marc. And thank you.

Good luck Lincoln City in Sunday’s draw. As for me, I’m looking forward to Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday.

Can Brentford bounce back?

Nick Bruzon

What to do on FA Cup weekend? The best (and worst) of football film plus an offer for the fans.

18 Feb

With Brentford having gone missing in action at Chelsea last month, it means we’ve got a free weekend. Instead of a league game against Wolves at Griffin Park, our would be visitors host our FA Cup conquerors in a fifth round encounter that has all those classic ingredients to serve up a potential potato skin. As for Bees fans, we’ll need to put the tinfoil back to regular use and find something else to occupy us until we visit Wednesday on Tuesday. Sheffield, that is.

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For Brentford fans, the tin foil has now reverted to normal use until next season

So? What to do ? Of course, there are still the televised games. These include the aforementioned encounter at Molineux aswell as the one at Turf Moor where Andre Gray, James Tarkoswski (is he still even there?) et al provide the Goliath role as Lincoln City pay Burnley a lunchtime visit.

That one’s well worth a watch, purely for the novelty factor of seeing Burnley playing the role of giants. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a sneaky feeling this will be the one where we have a weekend shock. Whilst the ties at Wolves and Sutton United are the obvious TV draws, expect the top class opponents, and also Arsenal, to go through. Yet with motivation, form and the entire country behind them, Lincoln look remarkable value.

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But if watching Chelsea is a painful reminder of what might have been then could I suggest an alternative? A football film. Regular readers, should such a thing exist, will know of my love of these. The pinnacle of the genre being Escape To Victory.

This has it all. Actors playing football, badly. Footballers acting,very badly. Michael Caine alongside Pele. Sylvester Stallone sharing screen time with Bobby Moore. John Wark’s moustache is worth the entrance fee alone. Come for the facial hair; stay for the Ardiles flick.

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager or even TV’s Dream Team, is a Green Street, a Soccer Dog (and the even weaker sequel, Soccer Dog: European Cup) or The Goal Trilogy. The football film is a veritable minefield of weak acting, poor script and overly laboured cliché.

Aside from Luis Figo doing ‘Just for Men’ (still got it, Figo) the only on screen football to transcend both good and bad is, perhaps, When Saturday Comes. It is a film so loaded with cliché it is fit to burst. Hard drinking park footballer Jimmy  – played by 37 year old Sean Bean  – eventually gets his break for Sheffield United after stuffing up his first trial before taking on Manchester United in an FA Cup semi final.

It is a film so loaded with inaccuracy (an FA Cup semi final at The Blades home ground, in the middle of winter, being just one of many) that you have to wonder just who gave this script the green light. And, of course, it is a film with Emily Lloyd displaying the worst Irish accent this side of Alan Partridge telling TV execs, “There’s more to Oireland, dan dis” .

Yet this underrated classic is so bad it’s brilliant. It goes beyond nonsense and into the realm of unintentional comedy gold. No mean feat for what, on paper, should be a complete car crash of a movie.

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If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t lived.

And thus talk of football films brings us, with all the subtly of an Alan McCormack challenge, bang up to date and back to Griffin Park.

Next Tuesday, 28th February,  sees Brentford and Sky Sports joining forces for an exclusive screening of the film Wonderkid.  The short film looks at one of football’s biggest issues – that of homophobia in the modern game – with Brentford doing their part to help raise awareness.

It is a cause we’ve always looked to promote and now the Bees are tackling this from a different angle, through the medium of cinema. The football film is a tricky enough genre to get right as it is, let alone with the added pressure of a serious issue. Yet, at the same time, I can’t wait to see how this goes and how it is received.

Full information about the event, including how to get free tickets, is on the club website now. See you there.

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Nick Bruzon

Judge sends Switzerland down as an old friend returns

26 Mar

It would be wrong to start anywhere else today beyond offering a huge congratulations to Alan Judge after making his International debut last night, for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-0 home win over Switzerland. Joining an elite group that includes the likes of John Buttigieg and Gus Hurdle; Lasse Vibe and Stuart Dallas, Alan is now added to the roll of honour that lists Brentford players to have earned an International cap whilst plying their trade at Griffin Park.

This is a massive honour for Alan and due reward for his consistency in a season where, being honest, we haven’t hit the same heights as last time out for several well documented reasons. He has been our highest goal scorer and is the leading creator of ‘assists’ .

Indeed only David Button, in my opinion, can mount a challenge for ‘player of the year’ at the end of season awards – certainly in terms of consistency and quality. Without saying which my vote is going to go, I’d suggest it may be closer than some people might think. Certainly, it deserves to be.

This does also beg the larger question of what happens next (with apologies to anybody now traumatised by the thought of Sue Barker doing her cringeworthy ‘faux banter’ routine with Matt Dawson).

Given the number of sales Brentford had seen so far this season, most of us outside of club corridors were fully expecting Alan to leave in the January transfer window. That he didn’t was a huge relief although equally (and putting to one side some of the nonsense being written on certain ‘forums’), only the most optimistic of supporters expects him to be with us for the start of the next campaign.

A clear ability to play beyond this level, combined with the attention of Premier League clubs, will I am sure only hasten his departure. Chuck into the mix this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament where he should, at the least, be selected for his countries squad and it really will be time to start saying farewell.

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View from the Braemar – Alan Judge has shone for Brentford this season

This isn’t to wish him any ill will at all, quite the opposite. His promotion sealing penalty against Preston North End was the stuff of legend whilst he more than held his own last time out as Brentford stunned all comers to eventually finish fifth in the Championship table and come within a whisker of reaching the Premier League. Then we have this season where he has continued to shine despite what we shall politely call a winter of discontent to follow our summertime blues.

Instead, let’s just appreciate what we have whilst Alan is still here. I’d love to be proven wrong and see him with us next season but not even I’m that naïve. Sad though it is, I’m just being realistic. We have 9 games left to enjoy his talents (at least, in red and white) and trust he can play his part in The Bees securing those last few points needed to ensure Championship safety.

The other point of note from last night was away from the International scene and, instead, back home where Clem has returned to the public eye. Supporters may recall his work last season where his weekly appearances on The Football League show seemed to go hand in hand with jinxing whichever team he was featuring in role as roving reporter. Such was his bad luck that it inspired the weekly ‘Clemwatch’ feature which made up part of our own Championship season review.

Whilst the Football League show may have been replaced by Football on 5 this season, Clem is still doing his thing. Albeit on BT Sport where Friday evening saw him covering Tranmere Rovers v Lincoln City.

And whilst his win buster routine seems to have fallen by the wayside (Rovers eventually taking the points in a 3-2 victory), it seems he is still getting himself into hot water. Quite literally…

Nick Bruzon

Nice work PG as Norris chucks Bees

4 Jul

And relax. After a two day break the World Cup is back tonight. Fortunately, there has been plenty to keep us occupied in the last day or so – and not just at Brentford but everywhere else from Gibraltar to Florida and beyond.

Starting with the Bees, the big news for me was not the announcement of our home friendlies against Nice and Espanyol. That said, these are both very exciting fixtures against teams in their domestic top flights and are sure to be a stern test for Brentford. I’d imagine there’ll be big crowds at each (let’s hope the ticketing arrangements are done differently to the Celtic affair) whilst I’m particularly intrigued by the French visit.

Nice’s goalkeer is David Ospina who, of course, is currently plying his trade in the World Cup for Colombia andis due to play this evening against Brazil. It will be very interesting to see how he fares against Brazil international striker Neymar and then compare this to the performance of Northern Ireland International Will Grigg. I’m banking our man will score more than the, so called, “poster boy of Brazilian football” (© everywhere) .

Neither was it the announcement that Luke Norris has turned down a contract offer at Griffin Park and, instead, chosen to join the home for retired Bees (not Wycombe Wanderers) at Gillingham. Good luck with that, Luke.

It’s a shame he’s chosen to leave as, one would have thought, the challenge of breaking into a Championship side would have been a huge lure. However, I’m sure he has his reasons. For us, it will be interesting to see what happens next with Brentford’s dwindling attacking options.

For me, though, THE news was something I’d hoped for in the previous article – the return of Peter Gilham’s tour diary. You can find this, here, on the official site as PG keeps us up to speed with the latest news from our training camp in Florida. I won’t ruin the surprise, suffice to say that I’ve learnt a fascinating fact about footballer’s ‘flight socks’.

Coming soon to a bookshop near you?

 

Top stuff, Peter. I’m glad it’s back and I’ll be staying glued. Keep up the great work.

Away from Griffin Park, it is incredible to think that despite ‘pre-season’ barely underway and the World Cup only at quarter final stage (or, ‘the round of 8’ as FIFA would probably call it), qualifying for European competition has already begun.

Last night saw former Bees Shaleum Logan and Niall McGinn both on the score sheet as Aberdeen beat Daugava Riga 5-0 in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

However, this was a mere appetiser for the main European story and it is here I must apologise to Lincoln. Not City, now of the Conference Premier, but Red Imps, the champions of the Gibraltar Premier Division.

Regular readers will know of my Gibraltarian heritage and fascination with all things ‘Team 54’ (being the name by which our national side became known as they, finally, became UEFA’s newest members in May 2013). It received several columns over the course of last season and, indeed, I’m hoping to travel to Germany this November to see them in UEFA qualifying action.

However, Wednesday night saw the Lincoln Red Imps become the first Gibraltarian team to begin a Champion’s League qualifying campaign where, despite taking the lead, they were eventually held 1-1 at home by HB Torshavn of the Faroe Islands.

Whatever the result, this was an event of huge footballing significance and so I apologise for not mentioning this yesterday. Well done Lincoln – now finish the job on the return leg. The lure of a tie with Partizan Belgrade awaits the winners!

Similar congratulations to College Europa, for an equally historic moment last night. Despite going down 0-3 in Liechenstein to FC Vaduz, they’ll be sure a big crowd as the Europa League makes it’s debut in Gib for the return leg.

Who knows where this will all lead but I’m already looking forward to that moment in a few years time where Peter Gilham’s tour diary comes from a Champion’s League qualifier from ‘The Rock’.

Stranger things have happened……

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s season 2013/14 and a smattering of ‘Team 54’ ) – amongst other things – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

 

Chuck jeans

Farewell to Luke ‘Chuck’ Norris – man of ‘action’