Tag Archives: Lionel Road

Where did all the noise come from?

20 Jun

Exciting times. Brentford now know we’ll be first up in the Premier League. Our opening game, the visit of Arsenal to Lionel Road, now brought forward for TV and will be played under lights on Friday 13th August. A fixture list already bristling with early season promise – Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City all due in TW8 before the clocks change – now sees the third placed Bees with an opportunity to top the pack and send Arsenal bottom of the fledgling table. It’s going to immense. We all loved Griffin Park, no question, but if we learned one thing last season it is that our new home at Lionel Road is a cauldron of noise. Just ask Bournemouth. And that was with 4,200 present. Imagine the noise when full? Imagine walking out of there on the Friday night, sitting at the top of the Premier League… One can dream.

How did we get here? That’s not something posed in any metaphysical sense but more asked to reflect on how we are even able to entertain the lunacy that is us talking about topping the Premier League. Our little bus stop in Hounslow could be sitting above the likes of Liverpool, Champions of Europe Chelsea and the other 17 (seventeen) illustrious names we’ll be playing. I mean, we are already but points in the bag are ten times better than alphabetical order. All we need to do is beat Arsenal. Easy. In theory.

And to answer the question….well, it’s that time of year once more. Season review time. As ever, the collected ‘Last Word’ posts aswell as all the match day programme blog columns (not previously published online) have been collated in e-book form for our 2020/21 retrospective.

A look back at the strangest of Championship seasons. One played out in mostly silence (barring the ‘200’ we smuggled in for the QPR game) from that opening fixture against Birmingham City in September through to the play-off final at Wembley and beyond.   

The latest volume is available now for kindle and other e-book reader devices / apps from the Amazon store. You can get it here. 

Normally the few quid it raises is then given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust although things are a little different this time around. Should anybody be kind enough to download a copy, any and all monies received from this / previous volumes will be going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund. 

There can’t be anyone associated with Brentford who isn’t aware of Rob’s work as Technical Director or his tragic passing from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of just 28. His family have been supporting CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) since his passing, a charity whose aims include preventing young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research aswell as providing bereavement counselling for affected families. 

Rob’s memorial will fund future screenings to allow young people between ages of 14-35 to be checked for free (something the government doesn’t currently support).

A first screening was held at Syon Park back in 2019 although the pandemic has meant that these have been unable to be held since. The next intent being to hold a full weekend in Fife, Scotland, and another in Brentford (hopefully at the new stadium) allowing over 400 young people to be screened. Dates for those are hoped to be known soon.

It would be fair to say that Rob’s vision played a monumental part in helping us reach the holy grail of top flight football. Without him, who knows where we’d be?  For anybody wanting to know or more about CRY or donate directly, you can do so, here.

Nick Bruzon

Act of god, my arse. Why did we turn up on a random school playing field?

7 Jun

Brentford and Bournemouth. For most of us, the connection is one that instantaneously transports us back to the recent Championship play-off semi finals. You know, the one where we came from 2-0 down on aggregate before reaching Wembley and the Premier league. Oh, Asmir Begović…. 😉

What an afternoon that was at Lionel Road

Yet for one supporter, Bernard Quackenbush (pretty sure that’s not his real name but it’s the one he goes by on social media), the connection runs much deeper. It is a story that, in part, those who follow him on Twitter may be familiar with but there is so much more to it. Following on from Kitman Bob and Natalie Sawyer, Bernard  – who is a regular to these pages –  becomes the latest of our special guest authors with his own tale of supporting the Bees in the most unusual of circumstances.

Enjoy……..

Quackenbush! Quackenbush! Brentford are on the playing field’. Those were the words (well the first bit I have changed) on some dreary Friday lunchtime in early January in 1987 at my school in Bournemouth.

I was 14 years old at the time, and I had been living on the south coast for 6 years already. Despite our overwhelming mediocrity, I was always very proud to be a Bee. That lunchtime, I had boy after boy come up to me in the playground, most of whom I had no idea who they were, but each one was telling me that Brentford were on the field. 

How the hell did the whole school seem to know that I was a Brentford supporter? Its not as if I went around with a Brentford shirt on, or even a badge or a scarf, but it seemed the whole school knew. It was then I realised I was a bit of a novelty in the school. It was known that the tall boy in the 5th form with the London accent was known as ‘the Brentford supporter’, and with it seemed to come respect. Being over 6ft, and built well, also seemed to help. The classrooms seemed to be full of Liverpool, Aston Villa & Southampton supporters, but I seemed to be unique in supporting a lesser successful side, although that was to change with the local team’s promotion to Division 2 later that year.

So, off I went down to the field, and there they were, like Greek gods, people I had posters on my wall at home. The likes of Ian Holloway, Paul Maddy and Wayne Turner were there, and whom I wandered past to get to the gods that were Francis Joseph, Robbie Cooke & Andy Sinton. I was astounded and awestruck, and then the question in my head was…. what the hell are they doing at my school? 

To this day, I have no idea, but I assume one of the sports teachers knew someone who knew someone else. But there I was telling anyone within earshot, most people had walked away, how wonderful and amazing these group of players were, despite the overwhelming mediocrity. For the record, the Bees played at Dean Court the day after for a dull 1-1 draw, the most notable incident being Micky Droy getting homophobic chants from the South Stand and then growled back at the crowd who consequently became more subdued.

When I first arrived in Dorset back in 1980, Brentford & Bournemouth were not in the same division, and this stayed the same until I finally got to see the Bees at Dean Court on New Years Day 1983. For some inexplicable reason, my dad did not take me to the away end, but instead opted to go in a stand which looked like a cowshed. We were then surrounded by the idiots from Townsend and West Howe, and therefore I wasn’t even allowed to celebrate a goal, as we lost to the odd goal in 7. 

This game sparked something in me. Whereas all Bees fans always look forward to facing the Putney RiverRats and Shepherds Bush, the game against Bournemouth became just as important to me. The times I have had to walk into a classroom or office to face ridicule and taunts, but then to be able to walk tall and proud into the same places after a Keith Cassells hat-trick or a Marcus Bean masterclass was just the best feeling.

I will add at this point that the vast majority of Bournemouth fans have always been supportive and generous in their praise of the Bees. Even these past couple of weeks, I have had messages from Cherries fans saying ‘what the hell was Begovic on?’ and ‘the best team won, and good luck in the Final’. As Bees fans, we can look to Bournemouth and their success in the Premier League as inspiration for us.

Of course, being so far away from GP, meant it was rare for me to get to games. Through the 80s I probably only went to a maximum of 10 games, and this same frequency continued after our sole Division 1 season, but of course, I would always get to the game at DC (or Dorchester), with additional trips to Exeter, Yeovil and Southampton. I even made it to some rather unusual settings for pre-season friendlies at Havant, Bashley & Hamworthy. You may need to look at the map for those ones.

In the mid 90s, I managed to track down a number of Bees fans living in the area. To my surprise, there were quite a number of us living across the conurbation, and the numbers to this day continue to grow. In recent years, I have seen cars with Brentford stickers parked in my local Asda, and sweet vans with a giant Brentford badge on the back going around the town. I have now worked in adoption for many, many years, and people will always say to me ‘oh I know someone who is adopted/an adopter’.  When people discover I am a Brentford supporter, I get just as many that say to me ‘I know someone who supports Brentford’. It’s happened at school with teachers, at college with lecturers and at work with managers. Everyone seems to know someone who supports Brentford far, far away from the confines of the M25. I’m sure if I ever traversed the great Tsavo reserve in Kenya to finally make it to a lodge with a waterhole whilst covered from head to toe in red dust gasping for some water, the first person I would meet would come up to me and say, ‘I know the real reason why Steve Perryman quit’.

If you ask most Bees fans to list their greatest ever matches. They will say the Play Off final last week, or Peterborough in 92 or Blackburn in the Quarter Final or of course Fulham on Good Friday. For me, i’d also include the win at Bournemouth when Karleigh & Powell had a punch up, or the FRT QF win when Kammy scored 2. There have been disaster games like Bournemouth’s Great Escape in 95. I even travelled on the Bournemouth supporters coach for that one! Or the day Neil Clement allegedly played, or the one where Rio Ferdinand played for the Cherries and it rained so hard they took us all off the terrace for safety reasons, but the greatest moment before the Marcus Forss winner 2 weeks ago was the Christmas game of 1993….. 

It had everything. My all time Bee, Denny Mundee banging in a penalty against his old club and booed, a Lee Harvey goal, two missed Steve Cotterill penalties, soft furnishings raining down on to the pitch from the main stand (that’s how middle class Bournemouth supporters are) and the best moment when Vince Bartram sliced it into his own net to seal noises. He claimed in the local press that it was an ‘act of god’. No Bartram, you were never Maradona, you were just crap. As my friend Ken the postman from Poole so eloquently and accurately put it in a fanzine, ‘Act of god, my arse’.

Denny Mundee – better file photo needed

I could waffle on forever about my life as a Bee away from London and in a county where motorways are yet to be invented, but I know im not the only one. There are Bees fans not only across Dorset, but also in the far flung reaches of these isles. With the advent of social media we are now hearing about Bees everywhere and all over this blue planet too. Those Bees fans are now producing new Bees fans and these fans would have never lived anywhere near the Great West Road, or ever will.

We have kept in touch from afar through the website, social media, or the dulcet tones of Mark Burridge. And thank you Mark, Marcus, and everyone else for keeping us in touch with our great club for so many years, when we have not been able to be there. It does not matter if you live in Brentford or Hounslow or whether you live in South Wales, Leeds, Scotland or even Australia. We are all Bees fans, we are all equally loyal, and wow, we are all about to embark on one hell of a journey over this next year!

Relive it all once more, in style.

5 Jun

What more can you say? Well let’s start by saying that Brentford are Premier League. And yes, it HAS been said many, many times over the last few days but it just fits so well. Sounds so sweet. Finally, finally finally this stage of our journey is over. Finally we’ve got a notch in the ‘W’ column for a game at Wembley. It’ll be Chelsea rather than Craven Cottage for the West London derby. Brighton rather than Blackpool for our trip to the seaside. Manchester City and Aston Villa as the teams to discuss with two of my closest non-Bees supporting friends. There is nothing but excitement ahead and, as much as anything else, perhaps a summer now able to be spent enjoying the Euros rather than vast tracts of the squad being snapped up by top flight clubs. If you support Brentford, life is good. 

This time last week, the anticipation was building. As was an element of angst. On paper, we all knew that Brentford were the better team than Swansea City. Yet in our hearts, we all knew this was a one-off game at what for us had been the most jinx-laden of venues. Anything could happen in 90 minutes. In a one-off game of football. 

Thankfully, as revealed in Kitman Bob’s exclusive insight to the build up this week, those were not feelings shared by the squad. The togetherness and spirit we had seen all season combining once more to get us over the line during the week and on the day itself. You can read Bob’s diary here and, even if you have already, do it again. Just because these moments deserve to be relived.

Yet if Bob has done his thing, last night was the turn of Stu Wakeford, Marcus Gayle and Karleigh Osborne. The Warm Up was back on our screens for another look at the game, the beautiful, beautiful afters aswell as, of course, their thoughts and hopes for the coming Premier League season. 

They have the goals. The celebrations. Fan footage. The additional key moments of which, for me Clive, ‘that’ Ivan Toney blockbuster gets nearer and nearer to making it 3-0 every time I watch it. Obviously the result is the important thing, and we got it, but just imagine the noise had that dropped a few inches kinder to clear the line. What an absolutely stunning goal that would have been. One to rival Dallas at Fulham. 

There’s even the revelation that Karleigh ‘did a JJ’ (and if you know, you know). Quite possibly the real reason we won the game. There’s a lot of love for Thomas and our own, grounded approach to football. Marcus, in particular, absolutely nailing what it means to be a Brentford fan and what your club is all about. I’ve watched it once. I’ll do it again. Being quite honest, I can’t get enough of last weekend. It has been SUCH a long time coming. Even last night, with Gibraltar 4-0 down at half time in Slovenia (thankful there would be no brackets involved at the end of the game) , we flicked off the red button and there were the highlights on Sky again. Don’t mind if I do. Perhaps this time, the crossbar will give Ivan a slightly kinder bounce .

The Warm Up is on now. You can catch it below. Find out who wants Chelsea next season. Who is getting excited about Old Trafford. What Pep might say when Manchester City come to visit. Most of all, just enjoy the sheer, unadulterated happiness of what we have achieved.

Nick Bruzon

It wasn’t a dream. It isn’t (quite) a soap opera.

31 May

The morning after the morning after the night before. For a moment, I had to double check that Bobby Ewing hadn’t just walked out of our shower. No. We’re good. Instead, the closest we had was Kitman Bob and the players showering Instantgram with the most amazing post match pictures. Celebration, you say? The only Dallas nightmare Brentford have to worry about will be the chance to cross swords with Stuart at Leeds United once more. Southampton rather than Southfork the destination to plug in to the satnav. Supporters and staff clearly taking Thomas Frank’s post match directive not to think about Premier League and let’s just get drunk to heart. I think we’re now on Monday. It’s been long and hazy. It’s been immense. The realisation of what next season promises is only now sinking in. For Swansea City, a visit from newly promoted Blackpool (congratulations). For the Bees, it’ll be Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester United and all those other household names now having to park up at a bus stop in Hounslow.

Kitman Bob 1 Bobby Ewing 0

Never has it been a more exciting time to be a Brentford fan. The post-Preston spirit that saw supporters and players partying in the street and drinking together outside The Griffin as we celebrated reaching the Championship back in 2014 replicated, in part, up at Lionel Road. We’ve all seen the pictures on Kew Bridge (those not able to be present). Have all , I am sure, read the stories of the cup being brought in to the Express Tavern and other surrounding locales. West London has been buzzing. On fire. A powder keg of excitement that keep blowing up again and again. The local news donated by stories of the Bees.

Yesterday’s post match mood continuing with more time spent in the pub because, well, why wouldn’t you? We’ve only gone and made it into the Premier League. Besides, Thomas said we could.

Help was needed by Sunday evening

The phone hasn’t stopped going off. RSI from answering all the messages another thing to add to the list of unexpected top flight consequences that range from Brentford now being in the Panini sticker book to moving up a level on FIFA 22. Mixing it with Manchester United on screen aswell as on pitch. I’ve had more TV appearances than Billy Grant (ok, now we’re just being silly but apologies for those who caught the ITV News on Friday or Sunday). Most exciting of all for some, our League One and Championship rivalry with Wolves finally restored. 

Of all the big names, understandably, being bandied around that’s one in particular I am looking forward to. For those few years it felt as though we were joined at the hip. Slugging it out toe to toe and point for point in League One. The pair of us knocking the psychological stuffing out of Leyton Orient until we celebrated like we’d won the FA Cup. Bakary Sako’s Swarovski encrusted boots something we can now look back on and laugh at, in the nicest sense.

Both teams making it up together and then giving it our best in the Championship until the Molineux outfit hit the accelerator and have carved out their own new level of incredible form. A lot of friends were made along the way and that’s going to be a very special game.

Bakary Sako’s boots – this actually happened.

We all have our reasons of knowing which ones we’re looking forward to. For me, Leeds United for family reasons (Hi, Julian – you know who WILL be there with us) as much as on pitch ones. Dallas. Maupay. Maupay. Pontus. The memories are strong there. You can chuck Manchester United in to the mix aswell. Primarily, because of the 18 months I spent working in the city. For every ‘away’ trip to Bury or Rochdale was the opportunity of a midweek visit to Old Trafford, offered up as a result of having United supporting colleagues with spare Season Tickets.

Watching neutral football in such an arena is never quite the same and, from a personal note, there was still more passion watching Brentford playing up the road in Accrington. Bitter cold. Dire performance. But my team. Now, we’ll be able to face the Red Devils and use the vocal cords for real. Many of those I worked with then still in the North-West, still in touch and now people who it will be even more incredible to catch up with.

Come on Leeds. It WAS a penalty

I guess the next big date for the diary will be June 16th. That’s when the fixtures are published . The first games due to take place the weekend of August 14th. Between now and then, there’ll be plenty to look forward to. A kit launch. Perhaps a couple of very special guest contributors on these pages (the door is always open) if I can just tie up the footballing equivalent of Neighbours ‘Udagawa deal’.  A lot of squeaky bum time as transfer rumours will no doubt swirl around the club. Thankfully, the possibility of losing David, Rico, Josh, Ivan, Sergi, Ethan and all those other names linked with top flight clubs had we not made it has perhaps receded a bit. Here’s hoping. Certainly, Ivan’s post match speech gave huge encouragement that he will be going nowhere. A Premier League striker and part of the best dressing room he has ever experienced.

It is that team spirit and bond that has got us to where we are. Has brought us back from the cliff of that most devastating of blows this time last season. Missing out on the top flight at an empty Wembley. Fulham, of all clubs, taking the final spot in the Premier League and then tamely surrendering it. That’s their problem, of course. Now the opportunity is Brentford’s. The next few months are going to be the amongst the most exciting on record. The build up incredible. The thought of hearing Peter Gilham’s voice the first time we walk out at Lionel Road, one which like the Wolves fixture, I am looking forward to as much as anything else.

You couldn’t make it up. It’s the stuff of soap operas. But it’s true. It’s happening. Brentford are now in the top, top division. And its going to be soon.

Stuart Dallas – scorer of my favourite ever Bees goal (pre-Marcondes)

Nick Bruzon

Cometh the hour, cometh the fans.

21 May

Friday morning. Silly o’clock and I can’t sleep. This is now. Imagine then? Come 11.30am on Saturday morning there are likely to be cheers from some quarters and a mini meltdown from others. Brentford will be an hour away from starting the play-off semi final with Bournemouth, a goal down after the first leg but just 90 minutes away from a final game shoot out with Barnsley or Swansea City. The team will have been named and, with it, we’ll all know the decision from Thomas Frank as to his tactical approach. More of the same or welcome Rico and Henrik back in to the fold? Shake it around in the attacking zone and take the chance to perhaps start Emiliano or Bryan? Whatever happens he will be lauded by some and moaned at by others. That’s football. We’ve been seeing it all season. We all have our favourites. The difference being that for what feels like the first time in a month or two we actually have the ability to make some genuinely exciting decisions as to who starts.

From some respects, it doesn’t even matter. On their day, everybody in our squad has the ability to be a game changer. To be a matchwinner. Whomever Thomas begins with, this is all going to boil down to individual fortitude. To holding their nerve on the occasion. To how we start this one. Thomas has promised we are going to go for it from the off. An obvious strategy or a double bluff to try and force Jonathan Woodgate’s tactical hand? Again, it doesn’t really matter when a goal comes  – first minute or beyond – as long as we score first. Do that and everything is all square. Concede and we’ve got to get two just to bring party back. Again, something we can do on our day but a position I think we’d all prefer to avoid.

I was talking to a source close to the club last night and they nailed it quite succinctly. This is as all about how clinical we can be. As we all know, when this team is on fire the goals fly in. Ivan’s record speaks for itself but don’t forget the likes of Marcus Forss, Sergi Canos and Bryan Mbeumo also weighing in. We need to create the chances, obviously, but take them and this one could be out of sight.

Ivan Toney – his record speaks for itself

We had one penalty shout-ish and the one clear chance last week. That was it. As much a tactical feet finding of a game where Bournemouth came out flying, our own defence kept them out and one slip up saw us caught by a lightning fast break. The 2,000 fans present creating an apparent ‘electrical’ atmosphere. That wasn’t the vibe I got watching from home on TV but, then again, it could have just been the fault of the Sky cameras. 

It doesn’t really matter, to be fair. That was then and this is now. All the post-mortems in the world won’t change a thing. The result is the result. The performance has gone. It all comes down to what happens on Saturday lunchtime. We will have 4000 supporters present (14000 if Mark Warburton is counting) and as key to anything will be how loud they are. On a normal day this game would have easily been a sell out within minutes. Instead, access has been granted to those lucky enough to have cleared the TAP limit or won the ballot. Their reward a chance to see Ivan Toney in the flesh. His last game at Lionel Road as a Championship player. A chance to get inside our new home, perhaps for the first time. To be there when the boys have the opportunity to make history. 

With that opportunity comes the knowledge that they are doing it on behalf of all the fans. We’re fortunate enough beyond belief to be going but, my word, need to make up for that by generating an atmosphere. Peter Gilham will no doubt be egging us on from the off. Expect one of his famous renditions of ‘Hey, Jude’ at some point. 

Yet as much as the players hitting the ground running and going for it from the off, equally the onus will be on the supporters. Never more so than before will home advantage be that. An actual advantage. One sided support with the ability to get on the Bournemouth backs. To remind the ref and the linos the rules of the game. To sing songs. Make noise. Call for fouls. Raise the roof. For Angry Dad, Harry Potter and the rest of us to make those voices heard. Griffin Park was an incredible place when the crowd got going. Saturday sees our first real chance to try and do the same. There’ll be numbers behind us and a huge prize at stake. The importance of the supporters cannot be underestimated. The players talk about what a difference the fans can make. This could be the ultimate example.

The role of, and bond with, the supporters was always HUGE at Griffin Park

Wear your lucky shirt and magic pants. Bring your goal sweets and, please, extra strong mints. The difference that luckiest of omens could make cannot be put into words. Most importantly, bring your voices and make yourself heard. Obviously, that bit doesn’t need saying. I know the atmosphere is going to be immense. The desire to get promoted. The will to win. The excitement of being in our new home will all guarantee that. We all know the reward for victory and will all be shouting us on. If nothing else, I’m looking forward to a good old-fashioned, “Push Up Brentford” within the first two minutes. It’s been a long time coming. 

Yet perhaps, as exciting, will be hearing Peter ready to self-combust as he preps for kick off. Let alone should anything positive happen over the course of the game. That scream of “Brennnnnnttttttttt-fooorrrrdddddddd”  blasting over and around the ground. Every goal scored being sponsored by Siracusa, It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock. 

It’s the sort of game and day you can talk up for hours. Of course, we will. Rightly so. It’s part of what makes football. If nothing else, even just being able to meet for a pre-match pint is a novelty and ritual I am very much looking to. Yet nothing that goes before will change what happens when referee Jarred Gillett (who also took charge of our home game with Bournemouth this season) starts proceedings. The excitement is palpable and the anticipation up there with the possible cancellation of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Yes, its on Thomas. Yes. its on the players, But its also on us.

Cometh the hour, cometh the fans….

SEE. YOU. THERE !!!!

Thomas, Peter and the fans. All with a role to play. All hoping to be back at Carrow Road next season.

Nick Bruzon 

A terrible morning after a frustrating night before.

7 Apr

Another game unbeaten. Third placed in the Championship table. A clean sheet. Clear of Swansea City on level games. Ordinarily one would be ecstatic to be in this position heading in to the final seven games of the campaign. Yet a 0-0 for Brentford against Birmingham City, a fourth successive draw for the Bees, has left nothing but a feeling of deep frustration. An opportunity spurned. The gap to second placed Watford 9 points. As if to underline the gulf in class at the top end, Norwich City took the opportunity to inflict a 7(seven) – 0 bracketing on Huddersfield Town. The Terriers on the receiving end of what happens when the opposition actually take their chances rather than just create them. 

There’s no disguising the final score

Brentford are now closer to 7th(seventh) place than automatic. Bournemouth currently sitting five points behind as they look to break in to the play-off zone. We’ve been saying for weeks that automatic is possible but failure to look over the shoulder has cost us – both Barnsley and Watford storming up and, in the case of the Hornets, through. Whilst the play-offs are the more realistic option for the Bees now (albeit, I’ll never say never until it’s mathematically out of sight) even falling over the line into that final-four shoot out isn’t as cut and dried as once it looked. Comments on Twitter to any post from ‘official’ were the usual mix of FrankOut and calls for Fosu to start. The Messianic pressure being heaped on Tariqe’s shoulders as odd as Thomas Frank’s refusal to mix things up and give his man a start or even just a bit more than a late run.

Instead, the only change from Saturday’s draw at Huddersfield saw Mathias Jensen start in place of Saman Ghoddos. To be fair, it looked good. Pressure built. Chances were created – Jensen blasting over before Sergi Canos had the very best of them. The Spaniard timing his run to break clear straight down the middle, only to Clayton it when one on one with ‘keeper Etheridge. There were others, too. Yet it already felt like ‘one of those’ as we headed in to half time. Lots of pressure and neat play. A statistician’s dream but no clinical finish or even ‘out and out’ chance, the Canos opportunity aside. And the longer the game went on the more it lacked any cutting edge. Brentford looking flat, muted, impotent. Ivan Toney rarely getting a sniff. 

Clearly we’re missing the threat offered by Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva. Two of our three best players missing for weeks now. No coincidence the results have slipped away with their injuries. The added absence of Henrik Dalsgaard further limiting our attacking threat. At least we kept it tight at the back although still had to be grateful to the woodwork after Scott Hogan caused merry hell in the box, freeing up Gary Gardner close in on the angle. Thankfully, the Birmingham player saw his shot cannon clear off the post and the Bees survived. It was part of a sequence that saw our visitors take the game to Brentford early on. Clearly, they weren’t here just to throw 11 behind the ball and with that level of open play we should have had enough about us to convert something of our own. Instead, it was another case of ifs, buts and maybes. A definite feeling of two more points dropped rather than one gained.

Bryan Mbeumo had one of his best games in a while. Coming close himself aswell as creating opportunities, such as they were. We might have had a few good shouts for penalty kicks – Mads Bech Sorensen in particular – but ultimately it was an evening where full time came with a feeling of emptiness. Of lethargy. Of bang average performance rather than one of having seen us kept out by a combination of cat like ‘keeper, shonky refereeing, ratlling woodwork and all those other things that so often come together to aid the opposition. This one was down to us and us only. When the time came, we couldn’t rise to the occasion. 

When Watford had finally left a glimmer of light we were unable to take advantage and close down what, this morning, feels less like a gap and more like a chasm to second place. It is one we can still cross, and let’s not forget that as part of a tough run in, they also have a six pointer at Lionel Road. Hopefully, things won’t be too late by the time that comes around. Ultimately though, every passing game sees it more reliant on maths than it does on our own ability to play football.

I was genuinely full of optimism yesterday.About both the game and our longer term prospects but even having slept on it, the feeling of self-destruct and now being really up against it that hit home at full-time remains. All being well it’ll go by the weekend when we travel to Preston.

I’m not sure what Thomas does from here to help his team rediscover their clinical edge. Short of a miraculous return for Rico or Josh, his squad remains as it is. The clamour for Fosu remains loud on social media and whilst teams have never been picked by fans before, something needs to change. Some fresh blood needed to reinvigorate a team who are so tantalisingly close to the ultimate dream yet, for whatever reasons, so far off the pace at present. There is still time to turn it around, even if it is just our form that returns. Anything else beyond there, from anyone else, nothing more than a bonus.

Then, when things couldn’t get worse, they did. I’ve woken up to the club highlighting the racist abuse once again directed towards Ivan Toney on Instagram last night. The club published their own reaction, one mirrored by all of us with brains.

There are no real words and no excuse to justify what was written by the perpetrator. ‘Frank Out’ is easy enough to ignore or even laugh at but this is totally different. Spineless. Cowardly. Hateful. Ignorant. Here’s hoping they catch whomever it is and use all the powers available to deal with this. How anyone thinks that sort of language about a fellow human being is acceptable remains beyond me. I can’t imagine how utterly horrific it must be to have this directed towards you. It’s awful enough reading it.  A crappy end off the pitch after a frustrating evening on it.

So I’m done. Here’s to a few days of ‘down time’ from social media, from football, from all this nonsense and then back to it for Preston. I think we could all do with a reset.

Nick Bruzon  

This is one we really must win.

6 Apr

Eight games to go. Brentford host Birmingham City on Tuesday evening following the draw with Huddersfield at the weekend. A game we go into with the knowledge that, finally, the results around us have been favourable. Yesterday saw Watford held at Middlesbrough after leading for a large chunk of that one and Swansea City losing their fourth on the bounce. The Bees in third place. Ten points behind the Hornets but with two games in hand. The first of which takes place at 7.00pm this evening. A game where victory has to be at the top of our priorities if there is to be any hope of overhauling the team(s) in ‘automatic’. If not a mathematical ‘must win’ then psychologically, very much the time to return to winning ways. Over reliance on favours not a strong card for any head coach to play too often. All good in theory. The problem being Lee Bowyer and his Blues are very much in a battle of their own at the wrong end of the table and aren’t just going to hand over the points.

All to play for still – not just for the top two

The plus point being the Bees are unbeaten since the 1-0 at Norwich City a month ago. All well and good but let’s not pretend the last three games have been anything but frustrating. Starting off at 100mph against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County but falling over the line to a 2-2 draw. See also: Nottingham Forest where chances aplenty were created but only one converted. The inevitable happened. Then Saturday saw us peg it back against Huddersfield Town for another draw. True, the point saw us clear Swansea City but Watford are the ones that, at present, we all have to catch up with. Indeed, the nature of the opening goal at the weekend a horror show to match anything Mrs. Browns Boys have inflicted on us over the years. 

The net result of all this meaning that, really, only victory will be good enough this evening. Certainly if we have genuine aspirations to recapture that place in the top two we held for a tantalising moment. True, Watford have a tough run but they also have more than enough ability to win them. To beat opponents before they have even walked out of the tunnel. For Brentford, the free-scoring fun seems to have gone awol. The team predictable and , perhaps, weighed down by both expectation and the pressure of last season. If ever there was a time to put the shooting boots back on and bolster the defence it is now. To pray Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva are back soon. The lack of any talk about either player suggests that won’t be anytime in the next five minutes. Perhaps, though, Thomas is playing his cards close to his chest.

Regardless, we still should have enough in this team to win tonight. Ivan Toney knows thew way to goal. Norgaard is back. Fosu and Marcondes must be chomping at the bit to begin this one from the off. Can Thomas inspire his troops? Make the pieces of this most enigmatic jigsaw fit together?

I don’t buy into any of this “We should have strengthened the squad in January” nonsense, btw. How do you predict injuries? How do you pay for it? How do you keep the squad happy? Which players would you have actually brought in? Moreso, at a time when we were on fire and storming it? Genuine question. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but let’s not forget, either, we’re more than holding our own against teams that have parachuted down from the Premier League and been able to maintain their structure. Likewise, that a season lasts for 46 games. Swansea City currently proving that no team can win every game. Hitting a wobble that’s actually worse than the one we did in that unholy trinity of games that reached a brutal denouement at St. Andrews against Coventry City.

Here’s the thing. Laugh and sneer all you want. This isn’t misguided optimism but genuine belief. I’ve been saying it all season and I still stand by the fact of my own personal feeling being Brentford will go up. Even now when, at face value, the table is less than favourable to us with Norwich and Watford in the box seats.  That doesn’t mean we can just continue to try and dial in performances. Saturday was a prime example of what happens when you do that. Yet with our rivals having a tough streak coming up and our own ability to turn it on should we get the on-pitch part right, this is still all to play for. It really needs to start tonight though. Two games in hand are more than handy but they need to be turned in to points. Both are at home to teams playing for their lives (see also: Rotherham in game 45).

This won’t be easy, of course. Birmingham City have got quality in that squad. I’ve seen teams finish fifth in this league and miss out on promotion by play offs. Their squad is ten times better than that. Its just about getting the balance right……

This could be huge. This might even be fun. It should be. What’s the point, otherwise? Kick off is at 7.00pm whilst before that you’ve got a ‘live’ edition of ‘The Warm Up’ . Stuart Wakeford, Marcus Gayle, Karleigh Osborne and special guest Natalie Sawyer will be hosting the show from Lionel Road at 6pm. You can catch that on YouTube with full details on ‘official’, here.. 

Until then, have a great day. See you there (metaphorically speaking). It’ll be another one on the sofa for us. All being well with a lot of cheering……

Nick Bruzon

Anything but a top draw afternoon.

4 Apr

Another point for Brentford. The draw at Huddersfield Town marking a mixed bag of results from the opening round of the Easter Championship fixtures. With Swansea City making it three defeats in a row at the hands of Birmingham City but Watford winning, again, the gap from the Bees in third to the second placed Hornets is now nine points. True, we still have that extra fixture and a visit from the Vicarage Road club to come but, for now, points in the bag are very much better than games in hand. For now… Who knows how things will or could change over the next few games?

We can only start with events at Huddersfield Town. A game which finished 1-1 after a first half in which we were frustrated by tenacious opponents and referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle clearly set to ‘random’. Our case not helped by a shambolic opening goal conceded via a bit of defensive playmaking as haphazard and frustrating as the ‘officiating’ in the opening period. Raya playing out to Roerslev rather than booting it. The young Dane seemed to lose his footing before giving it away. Norgaard shoved before losing it and then Raya caught flat-footed after man of the match Lewis O’Brien reacted quickest. Just 7(seven) minutes gone and a goal down. Mere words can’t describe how awful it looked from start to finish. Dig out the video if you can do it to yourself. Anyone giving up the booze for Lent would have been forgiven for cracking at that point.

Help very much needed to get through the opening to the game

It was a goal all the more frustrating given Langford had adjudged Sergi Canos to have ‘fouled’ Demeaco Duhaney when running clean through on our hosts just moments earlier. Wonderful though he is, you’ve more chance of the Easter bunny displaying that level of dirty play. The Spanish playmaker one who very much embraces the positive side of attack, preferring to do it with the ball rather than his elbows. A player who trusts the referee to do his job. Sadly, the man in the middle failed spectacularly. See also the clear handball by Naby Sarr with Ivan Toney bursting clear or our man being bundled over yet adjudged to have conceded the foul. 

Let’s be clear, you still need to make your own chances but against opponents facing their own battle at the other end of the table, nothing is going to be handed over on a plate. The referee still needs to do his job and my word, Mr. Langford failed spectacularly in the first half. It was an opening period that actually had me yearning for the card waving discipline of Keith Stroud.

Our own cause not helped by Ghoddos and Mbeumo joining Dalsgaard in missing the game. At least the later had the excuse of being injured so not making it onto the pitch. Marcondes and Fosu amongst those given their chance far too late. Even Marcus Forss coming on for his 80th minute ‘subs by numbers’ appearance was as predictable as it was reactive. I’m no manager but the lack of impact and spurned opportunities in the opening period should have been a clarion call to action at half time rather than waiting until the usual 60-70 minute ‘Warburton zone’ to start proceedings.

Mr. Langford’s first half performance left a lot to be desired

Then again, we came out for the second period with a rocket having been delivered. Mads Bech Sørensen stabbing home the equaliser with just five minutes gone. Ivan Toney then hitting the inside of the post moments later. Surely, now, the pressure would build and the screw be turned? Surely? Alas not. Whilst Brentford had the lion’s share of the ball and possession, inability to carve out any further clear opening saw the game meander to an inevitable finish. Actual goals, rather than expected ones or retention stats, being what wins games. Huddersfield Town proving as resolute hosts as when they scuppered West Brom in game 45 last season. We weren’t complaining about their approach then. Perhaps it is something we might have done well to  remember.

Disappointed? Well, yes. Nobody has a divine right to win but Brentford just feel very samey at the moment. Our free flowing play and attacking intent parked in the sickbay with Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva. Games we might have won earlier in the season now turning into draws. Blame the ref. Blame lost chances (see: Nottingham Forest). Blame late wobbles (Derby County). Either way, the top two places would be infinitely nearer had we been able to close out any of the last three games. On the plus side, the meltdown ushered in by the FrankOut brigade after the Coventry debacle hasn’t seen Swansea City win their three games in hand to stride clear by the eight points predicted. Instead, we’re now ahead of the Swans whose current form reads LLL. Yet, like Barnsley, nobody has really kept tabs on Watford and they are the ones who have kept on churning out result after result after result.

What next? Watford travel to a Middlesbrough team who still have play-off aspirations. That, before another promotion hunting team in Reading, the derby with Luton and then Norwich away. Come out of those in any semblance of good form, off the back of an already mammoth run, and they deserve everything that comes their way. For Brentford, a visit from Birmingham City to set the pulse racing. Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Scott Hogan plus  Jon ‘and Toral must score’ amongst those likely to feature on Tuesday.

And Toral must score….

‘Automatic’ is still well possible but it is going to take a huge effort. Not just from those lining up against our rivals but from Brentford themselves. On and off the pitch. My word, if ever there was a time to return to winning ways then this it is upon us. Even Thomas seemed subdued after yesterday’s game, noting that “I would assess it as a decent performance. Not a top performance.

Here’s hoping for a return to winning ways and the chance to hear ‘Daydream Believer’ at full time. Oh, to be there on Tuesday.

Nick Bruzon

Rams await as Sergi speaks out.

16 Mar

Tuesday night. Another round of fixtures at the business end of the Championship table. The weekend played out with Brentford seeing our own win on the road matched by away wins for Swansea, Barnsley and Watford on Saturday. Norwich picking up three points the following day. Now, we’ve another chance to see if things can change around any. For the Bees, a trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County awaits. The Hornets are at Rotherham whilst Steve Cooper’s side face a trip to Bournemouth. Themselves, once looking nailed on for automatic and now trying to play catch up to the play-off pack. How quickly things can change. How quickly they can return with a few wins on the bounce. Easier said than done, of course. Elsewhere, Sergi Canos has spoken to Sky Sports about his own return from injury and the social media abuse being handed out this season by some of our followers.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

First up, Brentford face Derby County at 7pm this evening. The Rams are very much at the wrong end of the table compared to recent seasons and whilst relegation is probably not a subject on the agenda, they’ll want to start picking up a few points to make sure. Should Birmingham City start winning a few Derby may find themselves sucked in once Rotherham’s mammoth four games in hand play out. Stranger things have happened.

They’ll need to start finding the back of the net though. Saturday’s home loss to Millwall was their fourth game in a row without troubling the scorers. The sort of stat that always makes me angsty. I’ve been following Brentford far too long to take anything of that nature for granted. Following football far too long, to be fair. Complacency is the mother of all f*ck ups and we’ll need to be at our very best tonight. Pride Park never an easy place to go, regardless of how well our opponents are playing. The Championship a division where anyone can beat anyone. Something we’ve said many, many times. Mainly because it’s true. All being well a philosophy Watford and Swansea City will be on the receiving end of this evening. Much as we need to focus on ourselves only, let’s not pretend we won’t be keeping an eye on those other results.

The good news is the Bees played out of their skins to beat Blackburn Rovers on Friday night. Rock solid at the back and dominant in midfield. Winston Reid and Ethan Pinnock (a player I saw described afterwards as a ‘heading machine’) locking it up in the CB positions. The combination of Vitaly Janelt and the returning Christian Norgaard made the midfield a dream to behold. Ivan Toney doing what Ivan Toney does. Scoring. It was the sort of game that might have seen us pegged back or even beaten in days gone by. This time around, we held our nerve and took three crucial points. More of the same tonight would do very nicely, thank you. Here’s hoping everyone remains fit as, if so, I can’t see Thomas changing anything up. Sergi Canos the obvious choice to come in but given how the team played, I’d imagine he’ll have to be content with a place on the bench and trying to make his usual high energy impact.

Ah, Sergi Canos. What can you say? Well, if we’re on these pages its only going to be positive stuff. Or, at least, fair.  Then again, any regular reader (should such a concept exist) will know that. Aside from being our Harry’s favourite player he’s one of those you can’t help but love. The passion, the desire, the team spirit. The goals. The speed. The enthusiasm. The love for Brentford and our fans. Sure, he’s had his off days but who hasn’t ? The season has been a long one and players must be knackered. Moreso coming off the delayed end to the previous campaign. For Sergi, there was also that injury suffered at Nottingham Forest that kept him out for the best part of 2019/20. It’s amazing to think that at only 24 years old he’s fast closing in on his 200th Brentford appearance. 

Yet all this hasn’t stopped a quite bizarre hate campaign, bullying even, from a sub-strata of apparent fans on Twitter this season. Criticism and objective comment is one thing but this has been nothing short of consistent bile. Poison. Keyboard warriors at their very worst. We all know who they are. Their crud keeps popping up. You can try to avoid but still it appears. Frankly, I’ll call it out anyway. We can pretend it isn’t going on but it is. See also: FrankOut. Err…..?? Our team have been on an upward trajectory all season, everyone wants the same thing – promotion – and moreso after the frustration of how last season played out. So how does a ‘special’ group think they can help? By putting the boot in to one of the players trying to achieve that goal. Go figure. And sure enough, Sergi has seen it.

His interview with Dan Long on the SkySports website is here. Everyone should read this. Regardless your opinion on the player. WE all have favourites. We all have players whom, perhaps, we may inwardly groan when we see their name on the team sheet. My word, some of those to have worn the red and white over the years…. Cripes, it makes your hair curl to think back. Yet despite all of this we’ve supported them through thick and thin. Certainly, at the time. No matter how frustrating it was. And that’s been the (relatively) crap ones. The sad thing being Sergi’s actually ‘any good’. Yet the lemmings have had it in for him. His own comments sum it up..  

Normally, when you are not injured, you are playing and you manage that criticism during the season, but because I was going from zero to 100, it did affect me a little bit because it wasn’t only coming back from injury, it was also handling that pressure and that criticism from everyone. It was quite shocking because it was all at once. It didn’t help me, I’m not going to lie.

Perhaps it’ll subside. Perhaps just one person might change their choice of words or think before committing comment to social media. Might also consider the mental health of players. Just because they have the dream job and the public eye doesn’t make them immune to a constant barrage of abuse. Be kind, everyone. Would you say it to his face? Well, we all know the answer to that. 

I’m glad Sergi has said his thing. It’s a shame he has had to but it’s nothing we haven’t been banging about for months on these pages. Now, perhaps, everyone can just shut the heck up and back our boys. All of them. There’s 11 games to go and every point, every goal, is going to be crucial. Starting tonight at Derby County.

I’d love to be there in person. Instead, it’ll be time spent on the sofa with Mark Burridge. Metaphoriocally speaking. Sky also have it on the red button. See you there. In spirit.

Amazing to think this was 2015 yet he’s only 24

Nick Bruzon

It’s all happening at the top of the table this weekend.

27 Feb

Another huge weekend in the Championship. It’s relentless. Exhausting. Captivating. Utterly, utterly compelling. For Brentford, a patched up team returned to winning ways against Sheffield, Wednesday, and now welcome a visit from Stoke City. Elsewhere, we’ll all be hoping that Bristol City and Bournemouth can reignite their spluttering play-off campaigns as they face off against Swansea City and Watford respectively. The Cherries getting things under way today with a lunchtime kick-off on Sky before we all wait for Norwich City to wrap things up at Wycombe on Sunday.

We all know the shape of the table. We can all see Norwich 7(seven) points clear with Brentford next up. Albeit hanging in there by virtue of our goal difference. What price the free-scoring heroics of Ivan Toney, ably assisted by Sergi Canos, now? Cripes, the top of the table is tight. There are going to be plenty of twists still to come in the final 13 games and the midweek result couldn’t have come at a better time. The horror show of Coventry City expunged and those thrown together to plug the gaps more than pulling it together in style. I thought Winston Reid was immense whilst Mads Bech Sørensen slotted in for Rico Henry quite wonderfully. Good thing too as he’s going to have to do it for most of the remaining season. Replacing the division’s best left back, and a player who one way or another will be in the top flight next season, no small ask. Kudos, Mads.

We all ended Wednesday happy

But it was a determined, feisty performance all round. Not our super slick best but still a million miles away from Coventry. The new look line up finding their feet and then stepping it up as the big guns eased their way back into action from the bench. There was Emiliano Marcondes. Josh Dasilva. Ivan Toney. All making late appearances that coincided with Brentford turning the screw. Samman Ghoddos and Bryan Mbeumo both starting and scoring. Both assisting. Both, being honest, afforded chances that had they been taken would have stretched the scoreline even further. But you can’t be disappointed to end the day with three goals, three points and a clean sheet. The stats, and table, don’t lie. 3-0 is 3-0 is 3-0. I’d have bitten my own hand off for that prior to kick off. Who know how much of a psychological boost Huddersfield Town’s thrashing of Swansea immediately after the debacle at St. Andrew’s proved to be? Either way, we go into the games today infinitely happier than when we turned off the TV last week. Cries of “What the actual just happened…” (or similar) ringing around our house following the most excruciating of displays. 

That was then. This is now. 7(seven) days is a hell of along time in football. Positivity restored and it will go through the roof should we come out of the game with Stoke smiling. Not that we’re going to find that an easy task. Four points outside the play-offs themselves, we join Swansea and Bournemouth in facing teams desperate to make that surge into the promotion pack. Teams who would jump at the chance for a cliffhanger at the W place in North London. The Potters, a dogged side that could almost be argued to have inherited the mantle of being our bogey team form Middlesbrough. 

Nothing needs to be said about our last two encounters – firstly the end of season implosion at their Bet 365 stadium when the promotion opportunity was finally in our hands. Following that was the disaster in this season’s visit when we didn’t so much fall apart as not even show up in that first half. Both deeply frustrating results but, in part, down to the pressure and then the team being re-jigged this time around. Both games we’ll learn from and what better time than now to avoid an unwelcome statistical hat-trick.

One can only assume that the starting line up today will be slightly more recognisable when ‘official’ announce it at 2.02pm. Might we even get a look at the lesser spotted Nørgaard? If Ivan Toney coming off the bench was a bonus, the return of someone who is probably our most influential player cannot come soon enough. The rock at the base of the midfield. We thought it was happening in December but then there was that late setback. Christian not celebrating at Christmas. Now, the talk from Thomas Frank has been super positive and with him, perhaps, underplaying the positions of Ivan and Josh prior to Wednesday, could this great Dane be closer than we think to an appearance? Optimistic to the last. That’s me. I’d love to see him back although can only presume it will be from the bench.

Today won’t be decisive in the promotion stakes whatever happens. Regardless of the 39 points still to play for, we’ve then got Norwich midweek and finish the campaign with games against Watford and Bristol City. Plenty of opportunity to shoot down our rivals (or them, us…) en route to the campaign’s denouement. Yet let’s not pretend that their isn’t a fan amongst us not hoping that Wycombe, Bournemouth and the Robins can pull off the results that their own supporters are so desperate to see this weekend. And if we complete our side of that equation, then all the better. If….

That’s where my focus is today. Anything else a bonus. A boost. All attention on Mark, Marcus and Natalie or whomever we have guiding us through the action from in the I-player commentary box. Edge of the sofa time as it is every Saturday. Lucky shirts back in play (last season’s Ecoworld ‘away’ being worn by me and H the true reason for our win) and waiting for the interminable adverts for FIFA 21 and Carabao that preceded every game.

It’s never easy watching it being played out in an empty stadium on TV. We’d all love to be there. Today probably more then ever where the atmosphere would be a huge factor agasint a team that always make me feel angsty. What play-off final? What disaster on the way home……….? Err. We all now know that won’t be possible this season following the latest roadmap to recovery (or whatever the buzzwords are) announced by Boris. Instead, I’ll see you on the sofa. Metaphorically speaking. Bring it on. Twitter is open. The beers are cold. The football snacks ready. Let’s do this !!!!!!

Nick Bruzon