Tag Archives: Lionel Road

Yes!!!! An incredible afternoon sees dreams come true (for a while).

3 May

What a quite fantastic end to the season. Brentford have only gone and done it. Promotion to the Premier League assured after tonking Barnsley in the last ever game at Griffin Park. A third bracketing of the season, after the 7(seven)-0 win at home to Luton and the same score in the obliteration of Fulham at the Cottage, saw us leave the Championship to take on the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa next season. With us come Leeds United who, despite falling apart (again), had enough in the tank to get over the line. There were tears at the Hawthorns where that unexpected favour from the Loftus Road mob denied them automatic promotion but you have to fancy their chances in the play offs.

Yes, that’s definitely what happened. Our season ending in style. Tears of joy at what we’ve achieved ; sadness at saying goodbye to our home for the last 116 years. Fans coming together as one to celebrate and commiserate. Looking forward to seeing little old Brentford in the top flight. Leeds United still unable to escape from our shadow. Fulham looking enviously towards our part of West London and hoping they may get lucky in the play-offs.

Some people are on the pitch - Juge's penalty v Preston saw a wonderful denouement

Some people are on the pitch.. etc etc

And then I stepped out of the shower. The Championship table is still stuck on: played 37. Nobody able to say they have definitely gone up to join Champions elect Liverpool. A team who have still not, mathematically, taken the crown from Manchester City despite the most blitzkrieg approach to a campaign in living memory. Brentford fans denied the chance to say goodbye to Griffin Park and now not knowing if we ever will.

Yesterday was brutal from so many respects. Our chance denied by these most cruel and devastating of global circumstances. People sitting tight on lockdown as we mostly (say in ; don’t be a dick) play our part in helping to try and stop the spread of this soul-destroying virus. I know what has to be done and of course we’ll obey Lockdown. Yet I’d be lying if I said yesterday was fun. It was awful being stuck inside when the only home I wanted to be in was Griffin Park.

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Reality was soul destroying

I wrote the piece on how that felt yesterday morning. It was a column that, being honest, I had no idea if I wanted to start or even would. The feeling upon getting up was just so awful and only got worse as the morning progressed. In the end, it was a case of downing an espresso or two, sitting at the keyboard and seeing what words fell out. The results are here and were, in retrospect, quite cathartic. 

Sure, they didn’t help me feel any better but the response from our fans was life affirming. Not just the kind words on social media but the fact that it quickly became apparent how so many of us were going through the same thing. Of course, we were all going to be missing out on ‘that’ game but to hear and read people being so open about how they felt was great. 

And I use that word in the loosest sense. Of course, one wouldn’t want fellow supporters to be feeling anything like I did – all that emotion that had been experienced and accumulated since my first game back in 1979 unable to let out in one, final, scream of Brrreeeeeeennnnntttt-fffforrrrrdddd. 

I was flat. Low. All over the shop. The early morning run to the shops, with the selected route conveniently looping around the deserted stadium, making it even worse. It should have been a hive of activity at that point. Instead, Brentford was like ghost town. My mind playing all sorts of cruel tricks, trying to imagine what it would have been like.

I swear Jota winked at me as I limped past the main gates on Braemar Road.

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Regulation exercise saw an early morning run to the shop. Oh, Jota 😦

Yet to read so many of us sharing the same experience and going through such similar emotions was, bizarrely, like some form of cyber-hug. Despite being ripped apart from each other, we’ve never felt closer together.

Griffin Park, Brentford and #FarewellGriffinPark were all trending on Twitter for most of the day as the fans united. Not just to shed a tear but also to share their special memories of a home that we’ll be doing well to see again. Instantgram a sea of glorious images.

It wasn’t easy. It was never going to be. Popular music’s Hard-Fi adding further salt to the wound later in the day by confirming they’d have played their first show together in six years as a means of saying goodbye to the ground. Frontman Richard Archer being a huge Brentford fan, of course. Here’s hoping Adam Bluetone and Rhino from The Quo were also lined up. Brentford-fest – just imagine….

I think if the club had come out and said they were wearing a special kit for that final game it would just about have finished me off. Thankfully they stayed silent on that subject. And most, to be fair.

In part I suspect this was to let the fans ‘grieve’ on their own. Equally, it would have been nice had they at least acknowledged the significance of the day. Perhaps that will come. Perhaps ignoring it was their way of saying we WILL be back.

You never know…..

The other super positive of the day was Andy Scott, who was the latest guest on the regular GPG webcast. My word it was good. Unexpectedly so. Entertaining. Honest. Reflective. Insightful. Like Martin Allen, a man who connected with the fans – not just at the time but even in the answering of every question. It really felt personal.

He was candid about things he’d got wrong. Celebratory about what had gone well. Poignant about Rob Rowan, with lavish praise being poured on a man who the more we learn about the more we realise just what an incredible individual we have lost. What an amazing part of the Brentford family he was. 

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Andy Scott was the latest guest

And he was funny. The story about Kevin Dearden, Ron Noades’ kitchen and a pogo stick one that had me laughing for what felt like the first time all day. As the GPG Twitter feed noted afterwards:

Riveting meetup with Andy Scott. Maybe the best one yet. You couldn’t ask for more from Andy than this. It’s all in there, incl answering @samsaunders7 ‘s questions from last week (at the very end Sam!).

Forget Netflix, this is well worth a 2h15m binge.

And they are right. It was fascinating stuff. Entertaining. You can find it below. Put your feet up, sit back and enjoy.    

Great work,GPG and Andy. Thank you.

Next weekend’s guest promises to be very special. With Trevor unable to name them on the yesterday’s session, given the announcement is going to be made alongside the club next week, draw whatever conclusions you must from the below tweet published this morning…..

Until then, dreams of football remain just that, dreams. Will we go up? Could it be Manchester City and Liverpool at Lionel Road? Whenever that may be.

Might we end up playing out this campaign behind closed doors in neutral stadia, as is being suggested more and more? 

I’d oppose that suggestion 100% if so – just think of the unfair advantage it would give Fulham.

Nick Bruzon

It should be farewell, Griffin Park. There are still going to be tears.

2 May

I’m done. Saturday morning and the sun is coming up. It should be Brentford v Barnsley. Our final game at Griffin Park before the move to Lionel Road. Instead we remain locked in Corona Virus inflicted limbo. Nobody knowing when, where or how football will return. The one thing everybody seeming certain on that it will be without fans. A curious ‘behind-closed-doors’ affair with all the atmosphere of the Mrs. Browns’ Boys studio. Instead of saying goodbye in style, we are all left wondering if the 5-0 humping of Sheffield Wednesday back in early March was our unintentional goodbye. Rather than securing promotion to the Premier League against the Tykes, there’s a 12.30pm Zoom chat with our regular group of fans followed by the GPG hosting Andy Scott in their regular Saturday afternoon Q&A slot. No pressure Andy, but these are big shoes to fill today.

I like the EUro qualifiers but want to get back to Griffin Park

The approach to GP Is an uplifting one

I want to celebrate being alive. I want to be positive. I want to think about football and our amazing team but it all feels flat at present. So dreadfully flat. This was supposed to be THE day at Brentford. Our chance to say farewell to Griffin Park. A full house, a few tears, a wistful look around and a lot of hugs with the people we’ve spent every other Saturday for the last twenty or so years alongside.

The last beer on the forecourt (please note: your definition of beer may vary). A nostalgic nod to where the Alladin’s cave of a club shop used to stand – the Tardis like red portacabin now replaced by a coffee cart whose queuing / payment system is about as confusing as a Marinus Dijkhuizen tactics chart.

Peter Giham was going to be on the pitch. Crying. Shouting. Exhorting. Probably the man selected to remove the final number from the countdown board. Angry Dad would be just to our right, giving the linesman one final ear-bashing. Sorry Alex, I mean reminder of the rules. This, before our new seating arrangements mean that we’ll be located on different sides of the ground next season. Whenever that is.

No more Mister Partridge or Ohhh-nooo Brentford man (relax, we’re 5-0 up. It’ll be fine) in our immediate vicinity. Will we see Jumper man again? Or the lesser spotted Jumper woman with her funky Bee? He’s always there at Griffin Park but might his sartorial magnificence be lost to us in the less claustrophobic surroundings of Lionel Road? 

I read the news. Listen to the radio. I can’t see any hope of us being allowed back in to Griffin Park. Sorry to be blunt but there we are. I want to be wrong. I’m so desperate to be wrong.

Oh, I love the place so much. The floodlights towering above us. The close confines of the seating. Roaring on our team and barracking an opposition who are just yards away. Where we sit is so close to the pitch you can actually see Leeds falling apart. Or should that be, sat?

I want Thomas Frank to lead the team around and celebrate with the fans at full time as he did game after game. I want to go to the pub beforehand. And after. Perhaps if today had gone as expected, to even be celebrating with the players on the pitch and then in the pub afterwards, as we so famously did on that day against Preston. There was going to be one last photo and then that’s it, walk out for the last time. Even if, knowing us, we’d have still cocked up our own ‘final game’ and ended up back again for the play-offs.

It’s Brentford, innit.

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I want to see Thomas do his Full Time thing once more

We’ve all got so much to be thankful for. Have so many good memories. Amazing memories. Preston. Manchester City. Fulham. Newport. Sunderland. Names that will mean different things to different generations. Then there’s the fact that the delay to Lionel Road has meant my own family have been able to enjoy years here that , realistically, I’d resigned myself to them missing out on.

Whatever else happens, Harry will have truly felt and experienced our home. From his first game (Nottingham Forest 2-2) to what may well have been his last here (Sheffield Wednesday 5-0).

HB first game Jota equaliser

That first game! 

For that, and all the other amazing days, I am truly grateful. They won’t change. If anything, they’ll be even stronger. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not angry about today. Devastated about today.

This was supposed to be OUR day. OUR farewell. OUR last goodbye. Instead, there’s nothing. Nothing. Except Andy Scott. And that’s meant with no disrespect whatsoever  – he did so much for us a player and beyond. A true club legend and it will be great to hear him speak. But no man and no webcast can change what we have been denied.

Bliss Manchester City

One of my greatest days at Griffin Park

Yes. The world is shit at the moment. Look at the bigger picture. Of course I’m grateful to have my health (I hope), a family and a job. We’ve a roof over our head and some food on the table. The daily casualty list makes for grim reading and many people looking in would argue that this is ‘just football’. That we need to have some perspective. And of course, from that respect they are right.

But at the same time this doesn’t stop it from hurting like hell. THE big date on the calendar. The one we’ve all been building to for the last 130 years denied by something so far out of our control. Something that has far bigger impact than ‘just’ a game of football. I want say goodbye to my friends. My football family. My first true love.

Instead, I’ll be peering through a padlock when I take the morning run in a few minutes. And there’ll be tears.

:-(

😦

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief exec confirms Dream Team should return, kit update and stadium news.

18 Apr

Saturday afternoon. 4pm. Brentford fans should be getting ready for a potential promotion deciding second half against Preston North End ( I won’t say in whose favour, given the current state of the paused table) . Instead, all over cyberspace we’re stepping back in time to our victory over the same opposition that saw the Bees finally reach the Championship following the something , something, something penalty against Doncaster the previous season.  And we’ve had to get our main football fix from the morning’s Q&A with Bees Chief Executive ‘Jon’ Reg Varney  – the latest guest in the GPG live webcast hotseat. And the post match celebrations will, instead, be filled with the latest results from the World Cup of Brentford shirts as the polls close at 7pm.

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Jon spoke for a good two hours.

First up, Jon Varney. Just where on earth did two hours go? But enough about the talk through of his career history which opened proceedings. I half expected him to conclude the opening monologue with a Partridge-esque, “Needless to say, I had the last laugh”. Yet, in retrospect, this was the perfect introduction as it gave us mere mortals a peek behind the curtain of a man who has worked in all manner of sporting capacities since leaving school. A man who is a Brentford fan through and through, with name checks to his heroes from the 80s and 90s peppering the conversation. A man who almost didn’t take the role for the simple fact of it interfering with his football weekend. A man who exuded knowledge but, perhaps more importantly, an understanding of what makes the fans tick and how important the club is to us. And vice-versa. 

Following Martin Allen was always going to be a big ask and so fair play to the chief exec for not only stepping up to the plate but then hitting it out of the (Griffin) park. It was captivating. It was emotional. It was honest. It was frank. The questions were broad with nothing really off limits, barring those topics covered off by Phil Giles two weeks ago. Even then, it was more to give everyone from a large audience the chance to get involved. And didn’t we just.

There were updates on the new stadium’s readiness (as good as), test events that were being considered and the preparations / plans for the Barnsley game where we had been in discussion with the Oakwell outfit to limit their supporter numbers in order that more of us could see that last game at Griffin Park. Lionel Road season ticket sales and next steps were covered (payments due for May now looking to be deferred over the three months to July) and even discussion around a relocation for the programme collector’s club. The club was confirmed to be in great financial health over the immediate months and we also talked at length about the possibility of the season being played out behind closed doors. Sadly. 

Should that happen then the list of those looking to don the ballboys’ tracksuit already seems to be growing with even Trevor Inns hoping to pull his Adidas ventex out of the gym locker. Personally, I’ll be going for the ‘mascot’ option. No holding hands with Pontus though – purely for reasons of social distancing. In all seriousness though, should we be unable to attend in person then it seems i-follow will be the way to go.

Yet the big question was one about that perennial favourite on these pages, Sky One’s Dream Team. You may well know the drill in regards to Harchester United (and if not, here’s the main cut and thrust) but Jon’s earlier involvement in the show brought an intriguing possibility to the fore . One supporter proposed that, ”You’ve said how the new stadium gives us new opportunities. You’ve talked about sky and your previous involvement with Dream Team. Could we see the new stadium used to relaunch the show? 

What followed was nothing short of a love letter to the show with the acknowledgment, ”Wouldn’t it be good to get Dream Team back on the screen at the new stadium.” That’s as good as a yes in my eyes. You heard it here first. Well, second after the live chat this morning. Dream Team will return. And it could be filmed at Lionel Road. Possibly.

Certainly, that’s how I understood things. Nothing was actually confirmed. Instead the subsequent elaboration that with football and rugby dominating stadium usage it was unlikely there would be opportunity for anything else was, I can only presume, a cunning smokescreen designed to throw people off the scent.

There was even time for kit talk – that is, when we weren’t hypnotised by Greville Waterman mopping his kitchen floor (never forget when the camera is on). Jon bigged up the wonderful partnership with Umbro and confirmed that next season’s home shirt will be red and white, albeit made of a slightly heavier material than the current version. Adding that he really likes it.

He wouldn’t be drawn on the colour of the away shirt although did confirm that this season’ incarnation was probably out best selling change strip. By contrast, the much loved brown/orange hadn’t sold well. I’m genuinely shocked by this. Who’d have thought that so many fans would have had such strange taste ?

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Greville, the clue is in the word ‘Recording’

Those were the highlights that stuck in my mind. Billy Reeves feed has a great transcript whilst I understand that the full play back will take place in the coming days when the video of today’s event is released. Do take a look. These words won’t do justice to a morning where Jon showed what makes Brentford such a special club. Where the fans are at the forefront of everything. A place where Matthew Benham’s agenda is one that has ‘affordable football’ at the top of the priority list.

Next up is a double header that has the potential to be the best yet – Sam Saunders and Kevin O’Connor. Bring it on. I can’t wait to dip my toes into Saunders territory on Saturday.

As ever, HUGE thanks not just to Jon but also Trevor, the GPG and his team who made this happen. The logistics and behind the scenes stuff to line this up and make it all as seamless as possible are not to be underestimated. Do tune in next Saturday for Sam and Kevin then who knows who might be next up after that….. 

To close out today, have you voted in the World Cup of Brentford Shirts as yet? The Semi-final rounds conclude at 7pm so do feel free to add your opinion. They can be found on Twitter at Brentford In Colour /  @beesincolour.

Here’s The Group of Death to whet your appetite. Enjoy…..

Nick Bruzon

Welcome to Brentford 2.0

7 Jan

With all the Brentford related on-pitch buzz at present being about the visits of Leicester City and the 237 derby (FA Cup and Championship, respectively), there’s something even bigger happening off it. No – not the transfer window. Move along, nothing to see there. Fact. 

Of course, Monday saw the club launch their latest caption competition (one can hope) as Peter Gilham was pictured wearing a VR headset for his own personal game of Lionel Road simulator (one can hope).  The reason being that the ‘regular’ season tickets for our new home have now gone on sale and, it has to be said, that having been along to the reservations centre myself this morning things are incredibly slick. The whole process was ludicrously easy, hands on and engaging. Being honest, I’d feared the worst when my appointment as our group ‘representative’ was confirmed. The phrase ’It’s Brentford, innit’ lives long in the mind. Reputations take an age to build and a moment to destroy. 

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Virtual Reality. Whatever that is

Instead, we got Brentford 2.0.  The biggest sales pitch of our communal lives has just kicked off but the whole team seem intent on making this as user friendly as possible.  

Current seating is being replicated as closely as possible. Groups are being organised. Phone calls made in advance to remind us of the pertinent additional info to bring – namely, photo ID for the U-16s / seniors. I still forgot but was saved by the joy of tech. The club and sales team at great lengths to make the whole experience as painless and simple a process as possible. 

If anything, this is a wonderful opportunity for displaced friends to reorganise themselves and finally get a chance to sit together after years of being split up, save for the 15 minute beer run at half time. It is an opportunity the club seem hell bent on grabbing. The Ealing Road becoming the West Stand. Groups of singers put together. A chance to really build an atmosphere that replicates what we have at present. Then cranks it up to 11. 

I even got my hands on Peter’s VR head set to check out the view from my prospective new vantage point. That looks good. Very good. Sadly, there was no smell-o-vision option to see if the phantom trumper from Ealing Road would be in close proximity. Or, should that be trumpers? Rumour has it they are Balti fuelled brothers. Instead, we’ll just wish good luck to those in the West Stand…..

Me waxing lyrical isn’t going to impact your decision to buy a season ticket. That’s not the agenda here. I don’t have one, anyway. I’m not employed by the club and am nothing more than a fan who clogs up your timeline with a pile of crumby observations and the odd photo. Yet this is a key moment in our rapidly evolving history and one which I cannot believe has been undertaken so seamlessly. 

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Let the seat sales commence

I WAS stressed up front and won’t pretend otherwise. This is a crunch decision. A massive moment. The opportunity to cock it up, huge. There’s no stadium to walk around yet (at least, not which we are allowed in to) and so we really are relying on good faith and computer simulation. Walking past the site on a daily basis I’m still amazed that we’ve been able to fit our new home into what seemed a tiny plot of land.

Yet, yet, yet… so far, so very, very good. It is there. It is happening. Judging by the seat maps on display we’ve plenty of choice of where to sit. Going on the intent to match current views at Griffin Park as much as possible at Lionel Road, the club’s aim is clearly 110% about accommodating supporters. Keeping us happy.  The team are informed, on board and they get it. They get that this is as huge for us as it is for them. 

There’s not much else to say beyond the fact that if you want to get in, you will. If you want to see Brentford, you will. There will be no pillars on the way. No TV gantries blocking the view. Nothing to hinder your enjoyment. 

Roll on August. Roll on our first game. What price that being in the Premier League?     

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Finally – a ‘signing’ photo. No half chewed biro though

Nick Bruzon

And still they come. Double bonus ahead of the weekend action.

10 Aug

The transfer window that keeps on giving keeps on giving. Despite inward business having been officially concluded for the summer, Brentford fans were given a double bonus on Friday ahead of the trip to Middlesbrough. Ollie Watkins has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Lionel Road until 2023 whilst the heavily touted story in regards to Turkish youth international Halil Dervişoğlu coming in from Sparta Rotterdam was confirmed. He has signed a pre-contract and similar to Emiliano Marcondes before him, will join the club in January. These are stories that put paid to the Crystal Palace rumours whilst further strengthen the attacking options available to Thomas Frank.

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These are both exciting and important bits of news for Brentford fans. Ollie, in particular, given how important and highly sought after the player has become. Aswell as the Crystal Palace stories there were those linking him to Spurs last season and, whilst we normally give rumours a wide berth on these pages, the fact that our players are being talked up is both a worry and a compliment. Now he is ours once more.

What a way to announce the news, too. With season ticket holders and club members being told to check their email accounts where we got the exclusive on the story first. I have to be honest, that when I saw the preview on Twitter, telling fans to check their in-boxes accompanied by the picture of a 2023 shirt, part of me did think it might be a delay to Lionel Road. But no. It was good news. Great news. Wonderful news. Off the back of Saïd Benrahma revealing his new number 10 shirt and accompanying hashtag the day before, Bees fans are really buzzing. Hats off to the club, too, for choosing this method to share a bot of extra joy with the supporters.

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Then there’s the news about Halil. One thing our Directors of Football have got on lock down is talent acquisition. Nobody could deny that in recent seasons as the much derided (outside of Griffin Park)  ‘model’ has paid dividends time and again. Now we’ve made our latest swoop for an attacker who did the business helping Sparta win second tier promotion through the play-offs (not a typo). 

Beyond that, I’m in the dark. I’m not going to pretend that Halil is a player I’m overly familiar with. Then again, it was a case of Saïd who? Neal what now? And look at how that all turned out.Have the DoFs done it again? I can’t wait for January when we find out, although let’s not wish it away too soon. Brentford have the trip to Middlesbrough today where Thomas will surely be looking for three points after starting like a runaway train against Birmingham City last weekend yet somehow coming away with nothing. Curse that woodwork. Curse great goalkeeping. On another day we could have had a hatful.

Still, as B*Witched once sang, c’est la vie. Sometimes you just don’t get the breaks. As long as we don’t get sucked into the ‘deserved to win’ mentality then play like that opening period once more and we’ll be just fine. Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough (TM) had a tough opener in front of the TV cameras last Friday at Luton Town. That one finished 3-3 in a game marked by defensive lapses and a penalty miss from Britt Assombalonga to match some of our most glaring from the likes of Yoann Barbet or number 26 (ahh, who could forget that ill-fated dead ball experiment?).

There are now options available the likes of which we’ve not seen in a long time. Saïd is definitely not ready to play, sadly, whilst Thomas is sweating on international clearance for Bryan Mbeumo coming through. Not that I can imagine him overly stressing – at least in public. He’s calm, confident and in control. Never flustered. Perhaps a bit of directional clapping, exhorting his troops to do what they have practiced on the training ground but that’s about as far as he needs to go normally.

Don’t expect too many changes from last week, except perhaps on the bench. I have no doubt everybody will want a second bite of the cherry following a performance where there is nothing but incredulity at finishing the game empty handed.

But that’s how football works. Amazing play is great as long as the ball finds the back of the net. It didn’t last week but now we’ve got the chance to put things right. And I can’t wait.

Until then, here’s B*Witched….

 

Nick Bruzon

Almost there. How about a few facts?

1 Aug

We’re that close now you can almost smell the aroma of bovril drifting across the forecourt. Thursday lunchtime and the season proper kicks off for Brentford in little more than 48 hours with the visit of Birmingham City. A team whose ‘yoof’, it would seem, are still learning how to spell ‘obsessed’. Saturday afternoon can’t come soon enough, even despite the somewhat dubious allure of Luton Town v Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough ™ on Friday evening to open proceedings in the Championship. That in itself, a game packed with intrigue as the former Leeds man and his club attempt to pick up the media inflicted hype gauntlet laid down by Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County last season. But before things kick off at Griffin Park, we’ve already been dealt a blow. Two words designed to strike fear into the heart of any supporter. Gavin. Ward.

I’ve been away this week. That’s not information of any particular interest beyond being somewhat out of the loop in terms of keeping track of all our news. Re-enabling the 4G after landing at Heathrow yesterday evening produced a flurry of interesting updates. Maupay, Watkins and Benrahma all still at Brentford. Brighton and Crystal Palace apparently sniffing but nothing much more out there beyond that.

Even the usual Sheffield United ‘nailed on’ news has died a death. For now. It won’t be long before they’re definitely going there. Or Aston Vila. Or both. If you believe every rumour you read. Ahh, it’s all part and parcel of this time of year. Just grit your teeth, clench butts and hang on for the ride until that window slams shut.

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Flying in to Heathrow via Lionel Road – not a drone in sight, this time.

What we can say for sure is that Matthew Benham’s model (the mathematical one rather than Cliff in the brown/orange shirt) has struck again. Or maybe it was Cliff. Either way, the ‘in’ door has swung once more and the ceremonial half-chewed biro been cracked out with the news that we’ve signed Ecuadorian wide-man Joel Valencia from Polish champions Piast Gliwice. A player who certainly seemed happy to be here, that’s for sure. 

His signing gives even more choice on the flanks (read in to that whatever you need to – I have no intel. In general) and whilst he may be somewhat of an unknown quantity to those of us in the stands, have no doubt that the DOFs and Mr. B know their onions when it comes to talent spotting. The kinks in the machine that brought us the likes of Marinus and Nick Proschwitz seem to have been well and truly ironed out as our recruitment model has gone from strength to strength. 

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Welcome Joel (#)

Will he start against Birmingham City? I think the question is more a case of who will start against Birmingham City ? With the big three names barely even being mentioned, let alone featuring, over the close season it gives Thomas Frank an almighty selection headache. Of the best sort. I’m presuming that should any of Neal, Ollie and Said be deemed match fit then the bench is the best they can hope for. But, and has been said many times, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace rather than a font of any serious knowledge. Then again, the prospect of bringing on Neal Maupay to run at new Blues captain Harlee Dean, with Gavin Ward holding all the cards in the middle in his role as referee, is a quite fantastic one. 

Whilst his is a name that never brings any pleasure when announced as our primary match day official, given Harlee’s tendency to ‘go rogue’ at crucial moments, and with the added burden of wanting to make a good impression in his first game with the armband – against his former fans and team mates – for once the presence of Mr. Ward could be a good thing. Please note: I reserve the right to retract this comment on Sunday morning. 

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Regardless, I’m itching to start once more. The Brentford record against Birmingham City has been first class since our paths have crossed once more. Each of those last five seasons has seen us finish higher than Blues. They’ve not beaten us since November 2016. There was, of course, also ‘that’ 5-0 and ‘that’ song. Those are nothing more than facts. Bloody good ones, mind you. 

Here’s to Saturday and the chance of seeing whether we can add to that record. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Neal going? Neal staying? Names – and nonsense – all over the place.

14 Jul

Yawn. Rumours. We should be talking about amazing things such as how the live YouTube stream of Dynamo Kyiv v Brentford (0-0) held stable throughout Saturday morning’s game. About how solid we looked at the back – second half especially (sadly, HB’s football club meant I missed a first half that Thomas Frank would later describe in glowing terms). We should be talking about the wonderful new home strip that the team wore and whether this may be the week where the ‘away’ colours finally put in an appearance (Come on Umbro, do your thing. Please). About our first proper look at the likes of Pontus Jansson and David Raya. But instead, it is all Neal Maupay – Sheffield United, Leeds United, Aston Villa and now even West Ham are being added to the rumour mill. Presumably as a result of their non-purchase of Scott Hogan a few years back.

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Still hoping to say happy birthday to my good friend next season – to coin a phrase

OK – let’s just cut to the chase and deal with the Neal Maupay situation from this perspective. That of outsider looking in and, as such, not privy to any club knowledge. Oh to have Phil Giles or Matthew Benham’s numbers in my i-pod telephone now. But, to be fair, even if I did I can’t imagine either party would be letting any cats out of bags. Why would they? This is a football club – not a committee meeting between supporters and top brass. Strategies and models have been laid out, precedents have been set and trust has long been earned. The amount of money invested in this club over the last 10 years and the players we have seen are a thing to behold. The sight of the new stadium springing up at Lionel Road, something to make the heart beat a little bit faster every time I walk past it.

I’m not in the employ of the club. Yes, I write in the match day programme but that’s voluntary and as much for my own pleasure or the chance to sneak past the editor some ‘in jokes’, a couple of references that only two or three other New Road Observers, Ealing Road fans & Braemar Road residents may get or simply a few open digs at our rivals. Thanks, Sam 😉

If something needs to be said on these pages then it’ll be said. But frankly, it hasn’t in recent years. The team are magnificent. Our top brass open and engaged. Our transfer business phenomenal. We’ve shrewdly and carefully built this club up. Improved and strengthened . Seen new heroes created. And, yes, leave. I still weep at the though of Jota sent to St. Andrews but take comfort in the fact that he is, at least, now an Aston Villa player. There’s one name going straight into my Fantasy Football team. Perhaps alongs side Chris Mepham, Ezri Konsa and number 26.

Jota team Rotherham

Oh, Jota….. Any excuse

I also know that, like myself, we’ve a hardcore of long standing supporters for whom this positive period is something that still feels somewhat unusual. That success is brilliant but odd. That we’re only a moment away from selling Dean Holdsworth and replacing him with Murray Jones. To saying farewell Nicky Forster, Andy Sinton, DJ Campbell et al. That it’s Brentford, innit. Something is bound to go wrong. We’ll discover that Lionel Road is built on the site of an ancient burial ground. That somebody messed up the bluerprints and got the cms / inches mixed up a la Spinal Tap. That Neal Maupay’s contract was signed with invisible ink that is slowly disintegrating before our very eyes.

But it won’t. The evidence is there before our eyes. The difference is that when things happen that supporters may not like  – primarily the sale of a fan favourite – we now have a Plan B and C already lined up and in operation. Sometimes we sell early. Sometimes we sell late. Always we invest in potential. Now we are also investing in experience. The signing of Pontus Jansson a huge marker post that things continue to evolve at Griffin Park. 

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The final piece is lowered in to place at Lionel Road. Errrr “Chaaaaappp-mannnnn”

It is so apparent how things work these days. That Brentford still feels very much our club despite Matthew Benham and his team being at the helm. That they are deserving of our faith and trust. Be honest, NO football club is going to share transfer plans and divulge details of bids to supporters or journalists. Not even Brentford. Ignore the clickbait. Ignore the rumour. Trust the system.

Sure, Neal Maupay may well end up leaving us imminently. He may not. He was missing from the Dynamo Kyiv game, with Thomas conforming at full time that he had gone back to France for a couple of days but that there was nothing wrong with his approach and he’d be in training next week. Likewise, Said Benrahama although Kamo will be out for a few more weeks given his extended progress at the African Cup Of Nations.   

I’m not an idiot. I know we’re in clickbait season and that all manner of publications publish all manner of nonsense. Some of it may stick in hindsight. Most of it won’t. Maupay can’t be going to Aston Villa, Sheffield United AND West Ham. Romaine Sawyers can’t be going to Leeds United AND Aston Villa. Somebody might move. They might not. I’d love it if Neal lines up against Birmingham City on August 3rd. Absolutely love it. If only because I think he’ll destroy Harlee Dean and that’s worth anybody’s entrance fee. Let’s be blunt – I do NOT want him to leave. No matter how strong my trust in the system.

But, at the same time, IF he does then it’s not going to be a case of wailing and moaning. Most of our fans seem to get it, too. A twitter poll set up by the GPG (below) showed only 29% of voters saying that Neal must stay whatever. Likewise, the piece published by fellow blogger Luis Adriano – which you can read here – really hits the nail/neal on the head.

The last few years have more than shown that the board know what they are doing. Without Matthew Benham there probably wouldn’t even be a club now. We’d likely be watching AFC Brentford Phoenixes running out against Dulwich Hamlet or some such. Look at how Leyton Orient’s fortunes changed as a result of roping those three points to Marcello Trotta’s goal when we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Look at how Doncaster and Yeovil have fared since being promoted at our expense the season prior.

We may not always do it immediately. But we ARE doing it right. I’d love Neal and/or Said to stay and really hope they do. Yet if they don’t, we’ll survive and who knows who we’ll unearth next….  

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The mutual love at Brentford is palpable – from Neal to Said and beyond

Nick Bruzon

If it helps, blame Greville. Warning : may contain typos.

10 Jun

Welcome back, Brentford fans. The dust has finally settled on 2018/19 and we’re now into that long wait for proceedings to begin in anger once more. The Bees finished 11th in the Championship, despite flirting with both ends of the table. Aston Villa ‘deserved to win’ in the play-off final as Griffin Park head coach Dean Smith swapped TW8 for his boyhood club back in October. Leeds United fell apart in quite spectacular style although will no doubt be amongst the favourites when the fixtures are announced this month. And Thomas Frank won over the doubters in some style as his free flowing team, spear-headed by Neal Maupay and Said Benrahma, started scoring goals for fun.

It was some season, that’s for sure. Season tickets are already flying off the shelves for 2019/20 as realisation dawns that we have just over 20 games left to play at Griffin Park. It’s going to be an emotional campaign and I for one cannot wait to get going once more. No matter how tedious the wait for early August already seems. Cripes, we don’t even know what we’re going to be wearing yet. Come on Bob – give us another kit clue. That said,  Umbro have at least had their name revealed and Lionel Road stadium building firm Ecoworld have been named as our new sponsor. 

For yours truly, it’s ‘that’ time of year aswell. I wasn’t going to bother and was then caught unawares by Bob Booker biographer Greville Waterman. I say unawares, more under the influence. A few pints had been consumed when he caught up with me and asked if I’d be doing it this time around, “Sure. Why not” was the answer. Curse you, Guinness. And so it began.

And as a result we’re live as of…. now. It’s annual e-book time. As ever, any and all funds raised from this (or previous titles) are going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. This season’s effort is entitled ‘The Jaffa cake Shirt’ because we all know how amazing this was(n’t) – delete as applicable. It contains the least bad of the Blogs from this site swell as all the articles submitted for The Park Life feature in the Griffin Park match day programme – league and cup. 

Starting with the summer and the World Cup (when it got mentioned once or twice that we had a player involved – Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford) it goes on through all the fun and games.  Remind yourself how we out played Aston Villa. Again. Even if Dean did think they deserved to win. Re-live the goals from Neal Maupay – and the quite magnificent mentality! Watch Fulham and QPR self destruct, Birmingham City prove that overspending is anything but a ten times better strategy. Remember how Leeds United fell apart. Curse as Mrs. Brown’s Boys still exists.

Regular readers of these pages know the drill. The  quality may not be great. There WILL be typos. I probably use the phrases ‘That said’, ‘Then again’ and ‘However’ far too often. Much of it you will already be familiar with.

On the plus side, what better way to remind yourself how brilliant 2018/19 was? To kill a bit of time of the commute to work / on your summer holidays / on the toilet etc You can download it , now, for your kindle , iPod telephone or other electronic reading device here. That’s here !

Many thanks in advance for your time. At £1.99 it’s cheaper than half a pint so what’s to lose? Apart from £1.99  – which then goes to a great cause anyway.  I’ll apologise in advance for mentioning this again over the next few weeks but it will all benefit our quite fantastic Community Sports Trust. 

And if it helps, blame Greville. I have !

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Nick Bruzon

Is Kev a king in waiting? Video nasty or Oscar winner? Oh, and Hull City await.

15 Dec

Well that’s been a bit of a week for Brentford fans. We’ve had the post-mortem from the debacle against Swansea City which has included the promotion of Kevin O’Connor to Assistant First Team-Coach. The Aston Villa game in February has been selected for live TV coverage. Then there’s ‘that’ video with the first reveal of the Posh Seats. Something dubbed: hospitality.. but done in a Brentford way. All of which means you’d be forgiven for not realising there’s a game today with the Bees making the long trip to take on Hull City AFC. And so in no particular order…

The game against Hull City looms large. We all know our own recent form. Whether the 4 points out of a possible 27 since Thomas Frank has been at the wheel or the blip prior to that with Dean Smith registering 1 win from 6 before his inevitable departure for Aston Villa. There have been some horrific moments despite the odd patch of brilliance as we’ve chased games that have been handed on a plate to the opposition. Preston, QPR, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and now Swansea have all been characterised by the team going gaga for short spells and gifting the opposition goals as though it’s already December 25th. The net result of this has been desperate last gasp attempts to rescue games and pick up a point that the coaching staff may feel our consequent attacking play has deserved. Yet with games already given away, we’ve not quite been able to pull it off. The result of which is our sliding down the table from a place where we’d been named joint favourites for the league to our current 18th. One position and one point above Hull.

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The Swansea game started about as badly as it is possible to

So we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. Time and again. Something all the more frustrating given both the incredible start to the season and the way we’ve tried to escape the self-inflicted holes which we’ve dug ourselves into in those recent games. And..?

For me Swansea was the watershed moment. About as bad as it got. You can read thoughts on that here. It has happened and we have to move on. To move up. To arrest this slide. Starting now. We absolutely have the talent and the squad which, whilst something that has been said many times in the last few weeks, remains true. Thomas now HAS to get them firing back to the form they’ve shown previously. And do it for 90 minutes. And then another 90. And another. He’s got an almost fully fit squad (only Lewis Macleod and Emiliano Marcondes are out) to choose from. Although as key will be his tactics and motivational skills as his personnel.

To aid in that side of things he has a wonderful man alongside him in King Kev – somebody who has shown his form on the pitch as player and then subsequently as B-team coach. It’s a great appointment and one which had a certain inevitabilty about it. Indeed, it is one fans have been talking about for weeks – albeit suggesting Kev should have taken the throne itself. Something I have no doubt will happen at some point in the future. Nobody stays in charge for ever. Not even Arsene Wenger. Just as Thomas himself stepped up from alongside Dean, one can only assume this is a succession plan being lined up already. Albeit I hope one which doesn’t come to fruition for some time as, if nothing else, it will mean Brentford have started winning again. Have stopped leaking those car crash goals. Are just playing for fun once more. Roll on 3pm when we find out if the Bees are coming home with three points in the back pocket.

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Last time out was anything but. Can Kev inspire us today?

Next up, the visit of Aston Villa in February has been declared a TV game. It was always going to happen. Dean Smith has the Villans heading to the business end of the table whilst his return to Griffin Park was an obvious lure for Sky directors looking to tick the cliché box. There’s been no change to game time as the match still kicks off at 7.45pm on a Wednesday evening.

I’ll be there regardless. Surely we’ll all be there regardless? I can’t imagine many Brentford fans who would have been in a positon to come to this one now forgoing the opportunity. Choosing to sit in front of the TV instead. With no change to the date or time It’s about as uncontentious as they come in the always emotive field of TV games.  Even had it not been chosen for ‘full fat’ coverage, as an evening game it would still have been lurking behind the scenes on the red button. The gate figures may say otherwise of course but I’d still be expecting a bumper Griffin Park crowd. It already promises to be a cracking game for so many reasons – even just recent form between our two clubs which has seen Brentford very much in the driving seat. Long may that continue.

And finally, we’ve all seen the video for corporate hospitality at Lionel Road? Presumably. Below if not.

The first of, no doubt, many videos to promote Lionel Road hospitality

I’ve seen a whole ton of negativity out there. Personally, at the risk of trotting out a glib cliché, it is what it is. A video shot using CGI representation of something that’s not ready yet in order to start generating interest. We were only going to get this sort of stuff the second it was revealed the amount of premium seats that the club had elected to create.

Hospitality is a key part of modern football. Everybody does it. From Premier league to non-league. From Manchester United to Salisbury FC. It’s a revenue stream that every club looks to tap in to, no matter what individuals may think about it being evidence that the game’s gone or being a sell out to your roots. We already do it at Griffin Park – just not in the scale that the club would like to. What are we supposed to do now? Pretend its not happening and fail to market it? Of course not.

Now it’s true the video itself comes over as a bit naff. In part, that’s hindered by the fact that the product being promoted doesn’t actually exist. Being honest – it looks like something put together by one of the teams in TV’s ‘The Apprentice’. For me, the low point was where my subconscious translated the ‘seat’ line to genuinely read  “And watch the action from a nice padded cell’.

You don’t have to be mad to support Brentford, but it helps. Or whatever the phrase is.

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Seat.Seat.Seat. Not cell.

Yet we have to start somewhere. And, frankly, nobody is going to care about a promo video that was about as cheesy as the delicious looking burger on display once our new home is built and once prices are announced. If I can afford it I’ll likely try it out on a special occasion. If I can’t, I won’t.

Either way, the most important thing for me on matchday is watching football with my mates. Having a beer together at half time. Being part of that communal experience. So unless Mr. Benham is prepared to offer me a box at a reasonable rates (yeah) so we can all sit together, it’ll be the regular seats for me. Regardless of how good or bad a video is. Regardless of how ‘unfootbally’ the names of the lounges seem to be – Orchard, Railway and Grand Union. An easy chance to honour our footballing past missed here.

Honestly, there are more important things to focus on in the short term than the first step in a promotional campaign that is only likely to crank-up as the Lionel Road project advances. Once we get information on the regular seats and the prices of all categories – from the top to the bottom – then we can all make an informed decision about what the club is doing and where we may want to position ourselves when STs are available for purchase. 

Until then, it’s all about getting back to winning ways. Starting in Hull.

Nick Bruzon

Spending big is not necessarily spending clever.

6 Nov

Good morning Brentford fans. And it is a very good morning. A quick look at the Premier league table following last night’s results shows Fulham firmly anchored to the bottom. Their 1-0 loss at a Huddersfield Town side (who themselves scored their first home goal since mid-April) sees our West London neighbours propping up the rest of the league. Statistically speaking, that’s 24 points behind leaders Manchester City after just eight games and with a trip to Liverpool next up.

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Happy Tuesday in the Premier League

The current predicament seems even more horrific when you look at the outlay from Fulham over the summer. It’s been widely documented that the £100.3m they spent has  been matched by a mere £4m coming in. They’ve kept their squad together and built on it. Hugely. A net outlay of £96.3m is only beaten by Liverpool who top the big spenders on £131m (161m out ; 30m in).  

And what is the result of this? A top flight record of ‘goals against’ for a Premier League start (29 conceded already), the worst goal difference in the division, a form record of LLLLL and a confidence level that saw the BBC match report subsequently describe them as: ”A fragile Fulham side, stripped of confidence and there for the taking.”  

It’s easy to laugh. Let’s be honest. Equally, let’s not make out we wouldn’t like to be feasting at a higher table. Yet that is something which I have no doubt will come. And, when it does, we’ll be competing rather than unable to scrap for the crumbs discarded by others. We’ve talked so often on these pages over the last couple of seasons about how Brentford are doing things. How we are spending cleverly, within means, and using our unique methods in order to stay afloat, comply with FFP but also build for the future at Lionel Road. It becomes a bit of a cracked record at times yet when you see the talent that has been uncovered, aswell as being sold for vast profit down the line as the team continue to step up, one has to step back and take notice.

Likewise, I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t love to have seen some of those heroes stay on. It still hurts so much to see Jota in the blue of Birmingham City although nobody could deny the form of our current widemen. Having the likes of Ollie Watkins, Sergi Canos and Said Benrahma as regular starters / first choice substitutes a luxury not many managers in this division have the benefit of. That, a situation which has arisen because of our ‘buy low and sell high’ policy. The departure of Harlee Dean (as much due to the the emergence of Chris Mepham) helped facilitate the return of Moses Odubajo and what already seems a huge bargain in picking up Ezri Konsa to further enhance the current squad. Then there’s Neal Maupay…

He’s the Championship’s leading scorer. He’s the Championship’s leading provider of assists. He’s the player who endured such a torrid start to his Brentford career last season – and that was just from Ian Moose. He’s the player who found his feet and perhaps, if anyone, illustrated just how fragile Fulham are when he bagged that late, late equaliser back in April  – ironically, the same day Huddersfield scored their previous home goal. It was a goal that deflated Fulham as easily as somebody letting the air out of a clacker or blow up hand and should have been seen as a warning sign.

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Mark Fuller’s picture captured THE moment at Fulham

Spending big is not necessarily spending clever. That’s for sure. Yet by the same virtue, look at Manchester City. Compared to previous ‘windows’ they’ve barely troubled the scorers over the summer. This, something very much in isolation for them. At the same time, I read a piece yesterday by Miguel Delaney of The Independent. It was an article described by the author himself on Twitter as an “Upbeat piece on football’s impending death”.

Click bait theatrics or genuine cause for alarm? The collapse at The Cottage is great value. For us, at least. The longer term prognosis in the top flight is, if you share Miguel’s opinion, a somewhat more concerning one. If you read one article today, make it his. You can do so here. Whatever your view on City’s approach, it’s well worth a look –  enjoy.

Nick Bruzon