Tag Archives: Liverpool

Coming home or going to Rome? Mowbray or Matterface? Doctor, no.

11 Jul

Sunday. Not long now until England face Italy at Wembley to decide who will be crowned Euro 2020 Champions. Will football be coming home or going to Rome? Yet the main team battle will, of course, be between ITV and BBC. Which channel will viewers opt for? Which set of pundits and commentators will the viewing public choose? Back in Brentford, we’ve the usual transfer rumours (Liverpool  – Harry Wilson – and Celtic – Kris Ajer –  the latest clubs linked to the Bees) although any actual substance is about as rare as somebody joining the England Supporters Band fanclub. So we’ll gloss over that unless time permits.

Besides, it’s all about Wembley today. A chance for the Three Lions to finally get their hands on some silverware. Assuming the Jules Rimet doesn’t count (for those unaware, England  / West Ham did lift that golden trophy back in 1966. If only somebody had said). It’s going to be huge. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be laden with cliche. It’s going to be a titanic battle. It’s going to be ITV v BBC. But which way to go?

The head and heart immediately lean away from ITV. And there are only two words needed. Sam. Matterface. An over excitable puppy of a commentator, well out of his depth on a big occasion and doing everything possible to get on everybody’s nerves with his OTT enthusiasm. Think Scrappy Doo with a microphone. How many people lost their jobs this week as a result of his giving us all the day off? Oh, the scenes. (cringe).  

What about the BBC? The calm experience of Guy Mowbray in the commentary box. Lineker, Shearer and Lampard in the studio. Along with Rio Ferdinand (used to play for Manchester United. Mentioned it once). The rock solid Gabby Logan out on the touchline with Alex Scott and Jürgen Klinsmann. Plus the benefit of no adverts – although I wouldn’t put it past them to sneak one in there for Doctor Who. They’ve got form at this sort of thing. Sadly.

Who could forget how during the 2014 World Cup final they crowbarred the trailer for the then forthcoming new series into the middle of the half-time analysis. It was a horribly awkward moment. Lineker, for once, seemed genuinely lost for words as any momentum for the second half was immediately washed away. It was a moment that caused the remote control to switch channels to ITV, and for that to happen… 

Then, in 2016, there was the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley between Everton (not a typo) and Manchester United. It should have been one to get the juices flowing but instead, the BBC once again delivered a Tardis shaped turd by using the game to announce the identity of Doctor Who’s new…. ‘assistant’. Not even the eponymous Doctor (like Fox, not a real doctor) but merely his sidekick. 

Please. No. As was noted at the time I like Doctor Who (much to Mrs Bruzon’s chagrin) and have what could politely be called more than a passing interest in the great game of football. Yet to jam them together just seems like some cheap-arsed attempt to boost audience figures. It is one that detracts from both events. To be honest, even making ‘an event’ out of a new cast member for the Sci-Fi classic seems like an unnecessary stunt, anyway.

So sure, the BBC may have a strong team but they always have the threat of a rogue timelord. Don’t put it past new ‘companion’ John Bishop (a Liverpool fan, I’m led to believe) putting in an appearance to kill the football vibe. 

Let’s not forget, either, that ITV have two absolute trump cards up their sleeve.

Firstly, the wonderful Emma Hayes on punditry duty. We’ve waxed lyrical about her already on these pages and I can never hear enough of her in-game analysis. Then, there’s the jewel in the crown of TV football – Roy Keane. He’s worth the admission money alone for what could politely be called ‘forthright’ views. His duels (think of a cat toying with a spider) with Adrian Chiles were the stuff of legend and he still continues to shine.  

It really IS a tough choice. The BBC aren’t the shoe-in that, at first glance, you might think. Could Keane and Hayes pull Matterface out of the… deep end? His time will come, just perhaps for now he needs the support.

Might the beeb run themselves out with their own self promotion? A hare and a tortoise of a commentary race with an equally surprise ending? Like England v Italy itself, I can’t call this one. It’s too tight. Home or Rome? Matterface or Mowbray? It should be Rocky v Drago. The underdog v the Colossus. But shocks can happen. Cripes, if Brentford can win at Wembley then anything is possible. Roll on 8pm when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

What do ‘that’ band see when they look in the mirror?

7 Jul

This is it. Later tonight England host Denmark in the Euro 2020 semis. At stake, a place in Sunday’s final against Italy. Themselves winners in the penalty shoot-out on Tuesday evening. Aside from the much noted Brentford connection, there’s also Bees news from closer to home with the game against Liverpool and the trip to Wolves also joining our visit from Arsenal on the early season TV fixture list. For those wanting ‘in’ to those games, yesterday’s announcements about tickets and memberships will certainly have a huge impact so do read up on that one. 

First up, the Euros. I’ve woken up this morning to ‘Kasper’ trending on Twitter. Hmm, who could they mean? The Korean rapper? Former Australian cricketer Michael Kasprowicz? The friendly ghost? (getting tenuous, now). Of course, it could only be Denmark goalkeeper Schmeichel. He appears to have upset a lot of people with his response to the question: 

What would it mean to you guys to stop it ‘coming home’ tomorrow night?” in yesterday’s press conference. 

Call it banter. Call it fact. Call it what you want. There was no denying the sabre rattling with his response:  

 Has it ever been home? Have you ever won it?” 

Good man! Love it. And to be fair, with his dad in the team that actually won the tournament back in 1992 one could argue that football has, at least, been to the Schmeichel home. Yet at the same time, nobody could deny the revival of the incredible Euro ’96 anthem (the less said about the subsequent re-recordings the better) has been a galvanising force of nature. The fans adore it in a manner that the England Supporters’ ‘band’ can only look on and marvel at with envious eyes.  A Wicked Witch staring into the mirror but rather than seeing Snow White, instead casting eyes on Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds.   

When the England Supporter’s ‘band’ look in the mirror…

The radio is playing it to death. It was amazing being a part of it back in ’96 and now we’re there once more. Regardless of past prowess, it’s the England fans’ song and their moment. Of course it is going to be of insignificance to Denmark. Their focus can only be on their own progression. Of course they’ll look to play it down. Yet, equally, only a fool would ignore the huge advantage that what is effectively home support will bring.  

Gareth Southgate has, as ever, attempted to play things down. Even seeming to mirror the thoughts of the Denmark ‘keeper, as he noted that, “We don’t have as good a football history as we like to believe sometimes. 

That’s all true but you can’t deny the feeling of excitement in the air. The game against Germany in 1996 saw England come within an outstretched boot of making the final before succumbing to the inevitable heartbreak of penalties. Denmark, winners four years earlier , will also be looking to history for inspiration. Something has to give when kick-off comes around. With Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard both coming off the bench on a regular basis, what are the odds it’ll involve the Brentford contingent? Roll on 8pm when we find out. 

clunky photoshop for our boys

Back home, we’ve had a few days off on these pages. In between, it was confirmed that along with Arsenal, two more Brentford games have been moved for TV. The trip to Wolves on Saturday 18 September now has a 12.30pm. kick off. That one’s on BT Sport. The next weekend’s visit from Liverpool has been pushed back a few hours to a tea-time 5.30pm kick off on Sky Sports. The date remains the same. Saturday 25th. No real surprises here and it least it means the trips to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa can now be planned with some degree of accuracy. Albeit subject to whatever curtailment of Lockdown and social distancing is announced on July 19th  

For those wanting ‘in’, Brentford official have now announced that no more season tickets will be sold. Instead, the remaining allocation of seats at Lionel Road will now be available to on a game by game basis, with priority going to members. At the same time, our new membership scheme has launched with the club making the promise that subject to a few understandable conditions, supporters signing up before August 13 will have guaranteed priority to at least one home league match during the 2021/22 season. 

Full details are on the website. You can read them, here. Please do if you want a chance of getting in to a game this season. If the atmosphere against Bournemouth in the play-off semi was anything to go by, this is going to be immense… 

And as a final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so hereTHANK YOU.

Nick Bruzon

Download a book for CRY. Get yourself a Premier League Brentford bingo card.

21 Jun

For those of us who support Brentford, the opening Premier League game of the season at home to Arsenal will be seen as the moment a dream came true. To those a bit further afield from TW8 it will likely be seen as a typo. Or, more likely, with TV coverage expected to be rife, an excuse for lazy pundits to crank out even lazier clichés. The Arsenal game has already been selected. With everyone else from Leeds United and Liverpool to Manchester United and City heading our way, expect more to come. And it’s brilliant. If only because of Brentford supporter Matteus Kesät hitting the social media nail firmly on the head recently. Elsewhere, the 2020/21 season review has now gone up on kindle. All funds received for downloads of this this will be going to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) – specifically, Rob Rowan’s memorial fund.

First up though, Brentford Premier League bingo. Immediately after our play-off final win at Wembley, Matteus published a Twitter thread listing his predictions for the commentary gold sure to be uttered over the course of the forthcoming campaign. With it, came the offer for anyone to map this in to bingo card format. And so, with apologies for sloppiness, the finger has finally been pulled out.

Can we get a full house before Christmas? Will this be used for a drinking game? Is anyone taking bets on which one we’ll hear first?   I’m banking on at least four of the fourteen by the time coverage ends on August 13th. Here you go, and enjoy. The link to Matteus’ original thread is at the end of this article.

Tick them off, one by one

Next up, the annual Amazon e-book. It’s put together as a bit of fun, looking back at the season that has gone before. This time, we even have a happy ending.

I don’t want the money (such as it is) and so any funds received are always donated anyway. This time around, they are going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund. If anybody is kind enough to download a copy, please know that you are helping a most deserving of causes aswell as one that is extremely personal to all connected with Brentford. You can find the link here. Thank you very much to those who have already stumbled across it last night.

Everything else ever released should currently be available on free download until Friday – you can find the full link here (I think). So please, help yourself if you are looking for something to fill the gap between the Euros and the Premier league.

Finally, the full cliché thread. Pretty sure we’ll be close to chalking them all off by the time that Liverpool visit on 25th September. Enjoy. And thank you.

Nick Bruzon

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

Natalie Sawyer: From Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates

6 Jun

Brentford FC. The club where anything can happen.. and usually does. We are now just over a week into our Premier League status and, being honest, I’m still finding it somewhat hard to believe. Not because of our bus stop in Hounslow status or the sneering from outside TW8 but as much because of everything that has gone before. But it’s true. It’s happening. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United et al will be amongst the visitors next season. Get used to it.

Part of the reason I love this club so much is the lack of any pretension, anywhere. Hearing Marcus Gayle talk about our spirit and our approach during ‘The Warm Up’ on Friday night was spot on. If you, somehow, haven’t seen it as yet then it is well, well worth a watch. If for no other reason than it is yet another chance to relive that incredible afternoon at Wembley moments.

For me, Brentford is a place where the great and the good can rub shoulders. Complete neutral ground. The close quarters of Griffin Park meant one was as likely to see Sergi Canos in the street as Jumper man. There’s Jack Whitehall in the pub sharing a drink with our chairman. Delia Smith walking down Braemar Road. Err, is that Peter Andre sitting in New Road? Apparently it was. Where if you see the owner, and ask a question, you get as honest an answer as you can. Thank for the kit reveal, Mr B (we’re going back a few season now but…). Where everybody knows everybody’s name and is happy to get involved.

Nowhere more is this seen than with Natalie Sawyer. To those outside of TW8, one of the most recognisable faces on our TV screens during her time at Sky and now holding court on talkSPORT Radio Breakfast. To those at Brentford, she is just another fan. Albeit about as passionate as they come. Likewise, one of Mark Burridge’s longstanding and regular guests during his i-follow commentary alongside Marcus and Mick. Ah, who could forget Sheffield United away? You know, ‘that’ game. Keith Stroud….

Natalie is the face of talkSPORT weekend breakfast

The reason for this long winded intro is that, unlike Cameron Diaz, Natalie is as regular and knowledgable a Brentford fan as any of us. So when she has something to share it is well, well worth a read. And, my word, today we are in for a treat. 

Hot off the heels of Kitman Bob’s exclusive look behind the Brentford curtain, Natalie has very kindly taken the time to share her thoughts. What we had initially hoped may be a few words has, instead, turned into something that is as much ‘cathartic’ as anything else. Not just about the week leading up to Wembley and the game itself, but everything that has gone before.

HUGE thanks to Natalie for taking the time to share just what this means to her..…  

From Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates

It’s the week after the week of all weeks for Brentford fans but it still doesn’t feel real. “Little ol Brentford” are heading to the Premier League for the very first time. So, in the next year we will face the champions Manchester City, Champions League winners Chelsea and FA Cup holders Leicester to name just 3 sides. I haven’t even computed the historical giants of Liverpool and Manchester United as well! How is this happening??? Do other side’s fans go through this same doubt???

Let’s rewind…I was there for Crewe, I was there for Stoke and also for Yeovil. So, I’ve suffered like many Bees fans. I’ve headed to those finals full of optimism, only for it to be extinguished. I’d like to think ordinarily I am a positive person, most of the time. I try to live the glass half full life but when it comes to Brentford, and the playoffs, I’ve simply learnt to be pessimistic and then hopefully be pleasantly surprised. (I just didn’t think it would take this long!!) 

After every playoff defeat, us fans have all rallied to believe it will happen for us one day, that the next time the footballing gods would be on our side. But, truthfully having been scarred 9 times, as we have, I had partly resigned myself to never winning the playoffs. So this surreal feeling I am having about us being in the Premier League after that Wembley final, I think is pretty fair.  

It’s funny to think the season didn’t start off the best way. 1 win in our first 4 league games had a few fans twitching I’m sure. But not long after we went on that incredible 21 game unbeaten run in the Championship, one time taking us to the top of the league. We were living the dream (little did I know more was to come!). The fun bus didn’t look like it was going to an end, such was the high that we were on. But, in typical Brentford-style we were brought back down to earth with those 3 straight losses, frustratingly with one of those at the hands of QPR (who I’d forgotten were in the league, such was their lowly position! ☺) We dusted ourselves off and went again and although our hopes of automatic promotion fell away, our end to the season was strong and convincing, But, that didn’t mean I didn’t have my fears and nerves and I had that little negative devil sat on my shoulder saying “its Brentford innit” as I feared the approaching playoffs. 

We all know what happened in the first leg against Bournemouth, so I’ll cut to the second. My family were lucky to have got tickets and a few days before the game, I was having sleepless nights. Waking at silly o’clock and having those whirling thoughts of losing. I knew I’d be devastated to lose to Bournemouth in that semi-final as felt we were simply the better team, for all their Premier League experience. But there it was gnawing away at me, our playoff curse and it played on my mind constantly. 

I had to be up early the Saturday morning, so I could be at talkSPORT for 5am. My alarm as usual was set for 330am, but as normal I rarely am woken by it as I always have that fear of sleeping in. This time it wasn’t sleeping in that woke me, constantly, but the impending game with Bournemouth and knowing we were already a goal down in the tie! 

I know I’m very lucky to combine my passion for sport with my job but sometimes it can be wretched. More about that later. After my shift I raced back home as fast as I could and joined my family to make our way to the stadium. It was simply amazing to be among so many fans and feel that excitement in the ground that had been missing for so long. Seeing the players and Thomas do their lap of honour before the game got me ready to be the 12th man as instructed by the team. With Hey Jude being belted out around the ground prior to kick off, it certainly warmed me up for it but the anxiety of a must-win game played on my mind. 

Pre match from Thomas.

There are certain moments in the match, I will confess I didn’t see in real time. Arnaut Danjuma’s goal I didn’t see as I looked away as he broke, and even Ivan Toney’s penalty I missed as I can’t watch any penalty being taken. That doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate like mad once it’s been scored. But my nerves cannot take it, cannot watch it. And just before the ball is struck and you can hear a pin drop, I often squeeze my eyes shut and even have my fingers in my ears, such is the fear that goes through me.

Being sat in the stands with my family, I kept my mask on and it’s the first time ever I felt I could scream and shout at a game whilst feeling anonymous. I’m not normally one to do that at a game, other than every now and then when a chant chorus’ round the ground. But this day felt like no other. I’d been told to make it hostile and I was going to do my bit. 

And so did every other fan in the stadium. The atmosphere was incredible from the 4000 or so fans that were there. And it certainly whetted the appetite for when we can all be back together in what we know now will be a sold-out Community stadium every match day.  

So much of that second leg is a blur now but it was a performance worthy of the win. Agent Mepham did his bit, followed by Janelt’s thunderous shot and Forss’ quick thinking for the third, but of course what does stand out is the ridiculous antics of Asmir Begovic. I’ll never understand how an experienced, seasoned pro could have resorted to such bizarreness. We can laugh at it now because we won but it’s still a head scratching 90 minutes that I wont forget whenever I see or hear his name! 

Begovic – the nicest picture of his antics

When the referee Jarred Gillett blew the whistle, it was some feeling to know we were back at Wembley for a second successive season, hoping to right the wrongs, but guess who was back?? – that devil!!!! Thankfully, I was able to put that pest to one side for the night as we enjoyed a few drinks at One over the Ait, with a number of the commercial department from Brentford, who happened to be there as well. The feeling was one of excitement as attention turned to the following weekends’ final. If I could just tame that devil so I could enjoy the build-up. 

Not. A. Chance. That devil is annoying. I could go hours without thinking about the final, only for, out of nowhere, that nervous feeling you get in your gut would emerge and I would have severe pangs of fear. I didn’t want to comprehend a 10th playoff loss but that’s more often what I thought than thinking we’d win. Scarred, you see. 

Most of my family were pretty calm about it all, the other half (Captain fantastic, Mr D) kept telling me it was in the bag but I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to jinx the game. On paper I thought we were better than Swansea, on paper we deserved to win, not just for the last 8 months but also for our missed opportunity last season. But no game is ever won on paper, nor because you deserve it. And also those footballing gods just didn’t like to answer our prayers. So, I had the fear. A constant fear. 

Remember I said my job is great as it combines my passion but that it can be wretched too. Well, here’s why? When you’re constantly asked to talk about the biggest game in football, the richest game in football, the playoff curse, the what happens to the squad if you don’t go up, you are just constantly on edge. Talking about it positively could jinx us, talking about it negatively could jinx us. I felt like I couldn’t win! But I also couldn’t not talk about it as it was part of my job so the only way I could handle it was to try and be measured for fear I would be the reason for the curse continuing. 

I even feared requesting the Sunday off work because I’d be the jinx, but I justified it by saying I was doing that to cover all eventualities. There was no way I would want to work if we lost knowing we’d be dissecting where it all went wrong, whilst also hearing the celebrations of Swansea and yet if we’d won, I knew I needed to party!!

So, waking up as I did on that Saturday morning, I went to work as normal but I’m not entirely sure I remember what we talked about, so much was my mind on Wembley. But I got through the three hours chatting about some final in Porto whilst also occasionally having to talk about the Championship final. Former Swansea midfielder Leon Britton joined us at one point and he was confident his side could win the game. Believe me that is something I didn’t need to hear. That didn’t help the tension. 

Thankfully at 9am, we were done and there was little time for pleasantries with my colleagues at the end of the show, as once again I had to rush home to get ready for the biggest game in our history in which a select few of us could play our part, under the arch. I remember arriving at Waterloo station and as I was going up on the escalator, I spotted something on one of the steps. A sticker. A Brentford sticker. I took it to be a sign. I’m on the up escalator, the Bees are going up? I was hesitant to post it but decided to share the positivity on Facebook, thinking it might give more and more of us a nice little omen of confidence. I didn’t share the news that on the train back I spotted one magpie!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Going to the game with my dad and my brother, we had to get to the ground early as I was asked to appear on talkSPORT again in their live show from Box Park. En route to it we bumped into a few of my former colleagues from Sky Sports, all who believed it was our year. They clearly had not been given the script. No jinxing please!! Once at Box park, it was amazing to see so many Bees fans already inside, sampling the local beverages and soaking up the atmosphere. There was such a positive vibe that it did momentarily ease my fears. The few drinks that followed afterwards also helped! But, it’s amazing how quickly that can change when the nerves kick in!!! And that’s exactly what happened at kick off. 

Once again, the Brentford fans were brilliant. It felt electric in the stadium as our east stand did what we could to roar the team on. I wasn’t sure I could take 90 minutes with my emotions all over the place but as we know it didn’t take long for us to be jumping up from our seats as Bryan Mbeumo was brought down by Freddie Woodman for a penalty, and Ivan gave us the early lead. Obviously, I didn’t see the penalty, but I roared all the same with everyone else when the ball clearly had gone into the net. Ten minutes later, it all felt like a dream as it was 2-nil. Bryan instrumental in our break as Swansea tried to level, Mads Roerslev making an incredible run to get himself into the mix and Emi Marcondes with the finish that got us all thinking could this be our year? The momentum was very much with us and not long after Ivan’s volley could have sealed it. If only it had gone in. How did it not? It’s those gods again!!! 

It did all feel comfortable it has to be said. But, they always say a 2-0 lead is never safe and knowing we had another half to come, my nerves were still all over the place. I kept jostling my feet, my knees kept shaking and even with Swansea’s Jay Fulton sent off just after the hour mark, I still didn’t feel job done. Because, well, you know why; That devil was there on my shoulder again saying “it’s Brentford innit”. 

Swansea didn’t have a single shot on target in the game, but I wasn’t thinking that whilst it was going on. I was thinking, even in added on time, this is agony. So, when the whistle went, I sprang out of my seat, jumped around in ecstasy. Had we really just won? Had we really just won a playoff? Are we really in the Premier League? That moment of being in Wembley still feels unreal. Turning to my 82-year-old dad, his eyes were wet and red. He is an emotional person any way, but he’s never cried at football. Never. But here he was with his emotions for all to see and the best thing I could do was pull him in for a hug. He couldn’t believe what he’d seen, and he couldn’t believe our club were going to be one of the top 20 teams in England. Not just that but our global reach had just grown epic proportions. Next to join in our huddle was my brother and I am forever grateful that that whole moment was captured on video so that we can relive it over and over again as it’s the most special footballing moment for us. 

I was lucky after the game to be invited to the Brentford celebrations at the stadium. It was wonderful to experience, to see the joy on everyone knowing they had just achieved what for so long felt impossible. A little over 10 years ago Brentford were in League Two facing Barnet, Macclesfield, Aldershot, Notts County, Chester, Darlington, Dagenham & Redbridge – not one of them are in the Football League anymore. 

That could have been us had it not been for Bees United and Matthew Benham. There will never be enough words to say a big thanks to those important game changers for the club. But, going from those days at Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates is still incomprehensible. We’ve lived in a bubble of hope for so long and although we will fondly refer to us as “a bus stop in Hounslow” and there will be some that think it’s wrong a club like ours should be in the Premier League (Really Terry Christian?!), we are going to have to get used to it as we can no longer say “it’s Brentford innit”, instead it’s “we are Premier League, say we are Premier League.” 

I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not like this.

10 Mar

Finally. Games in hand have played out. If anything, Brentford and Swansea City are now the ones with the opportunity of playing catch up. Watford the team looking over their shoulders. Current occupants of second place in a Championship promotion race that is going to run and run. Last night’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers meaning the Swans are now three points ahead of the Bees with both teams having played 34 of our 46 games. Only goal difference keeping them behind The Hornets who have, of course, played that extra fixture. Whilst, personally speaking, I’m a firm believer in the ethos that points in the bag are better than games in hand there is extra comfort to be gained by the fact that our goal difference currently is clear of both our main rivals. Hopefully we’re all a bit less stressed now. Blips happen to the best of teams. Even in the top flight Liverpool are turning Fortress Anfield into an all you can score buffet for visiting teams whilst normally indestructible Manchester City ‘lost’ a game at the weekend (not a typo). 

I’d rather be second than fourth. No question. Prefer 66 points to 63. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet the doomsday scenario being played out by so many after our own  disaster showing against Coventry City has failed to materialise. Swansea having three games in hand at that point and the potential to go 8 points clear should they win them all. They didn’t. Instead, were humped soundly by Bristol City and Huddersfield Town. Turned one point into three c/o of 96th minute penalty awards that were straight out of Dodge City. Fishier than Michael Fish eating fish and chips. Then, last night, another one awarded although this time in the first half but when a goal down. A penalty that was as soft as any other we’ve seen awarded recently. I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not with this regularity. Alan McInally reporting for Sky Sports aghast at what he’d just seen after Andre Ayew made it four goals from the spot in as many games.

Penalty to Swansea. Awarded whilst listening to pop music’s Dodgy

Good luck to them. As we said before, Brentford wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if offered. We’d be right on the spot, trusting Ivan Toney to do his thing. That so many have been awarded , and in such controversial circumstances, is of course going to frustrate. That’s the polite phrase. Shonky refereeing to those looking in. The EFL powerless, impotent, silent.  We can’t change that. We still have plenty of opportunity to wrestle control of our destiny. 12 more games. That’s a lot of time and a lot of points. Even if we need to do it from open play. Err, Bryan Mbeumo at Norwich anyone…? Besides, I’m still firmly of the belief that this one is going to go all the way to the wire. If for no other reason than Watford visit Brentford then host Swansea in their final two games. 

All being well, things will be a lot clearer by then. If the recent run of LLL was stressful for some think how that final brace of fixtures is going to be? That’s a level of angst I don’t want to be part of although can only presume things will head that way. None of the teams around us will drop that many points between now and then.  At least we got back on track with those defeats of Sheff Wed and Stoke. Next up Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

Cripes, that trip to Ewood Park is going to be tough. By all accounts they should have won last night. We all know our own injury situation at the back. That said, we all know our own goal scoring potential going forward. The choice being faced by Thomas Frank over who from Tariqe Fosu, Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos to start with a tough one. A nice one, I suppose. For me (straps on tin hat) the later had been the most consistent performer this season from the three although nobody could deny the game against Norwich City was one where he was at anything than his best. I still stand by the fact that the abuse he came under was way out of line and totally out of order. If nothing else, there were enough others who went awol in a game against the runaway league leaders. But we’ve done that one to death. 

Brentford may well lose again this season. Sadly. That’s football. As noted earlier, even Manchester City got a nil return on Sunday. It happens. Liverpool have hit such a rough patch of home form that even Fulham picked up three points over the weekend. Swansea City have fluctuated between whipping boys and relentless winners over the last five games. The only consistent thing about the beautiful game is its inconsistency. Nothing can be predicted. Although if everyone could just stop awarding Steve Cooper’s team penalties, that would be nice. As a side note,  those bemoaning Barnsley inflicting one of our own defeats in the blip period may care to notice the Tykes now sitting in the play-off spots. Talk about a surge up the blindside. 

We can talk about others in the same breath as we do ourselves. That’s not obsession. That’s a fact. That’s what makes football so exciting. So addictive. Delivers the agony and ecstasy in equal measure. We can be at our best yet still be undone by outside influence. Be ropey as but nick the points and then see our rivals do everything but score. Of course we have to focus on Brentford as a priority. Of course we shouldn’t get overly upset about what the others do, as long as we continue to pick up the points. Yet with our destinies so inter twined, it’s hard not to look at the other games with microscopic interest. Luton v Swansea on Saturday and Cardiff v Watford will be two such games. Moreso with our own game taking place on Friday night. Fingers crossed we’ll be back in automatic by the time our nearest and dearest kick off. Fingers crossed….

Nick Bruzon  

Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. You just know they’ll do it.

12 Jan

And with that the FA Cup fourth round draw has been made. Not to mention the in no way convoluted selection for the fifth. With Brentford fans settling down in front of the TV to watch proceedings unfold (and Leeds United fans settling down in front of the TV to watch The One Show) the best we could hope for was a home draw. Well, we got one. A repeat of last season’s tie  with Leicester City. The winners of which will be at home again, entertaining whomever comes out on top between Brighton and Blackpool. The chance to test ourselves once more against the former Premier League Champions . A possible return for Neal Maupay should everything go to plan. The quarter-finals wide open. I’m sure all four clubs in our little group are thinking the same about that one. This could be fun. Even if the TV companies will be wetting themselves over the prospect of Manchester United – Liverpool. Yawn.

This really is as good as it could have got for the Bees. Brentford  – Leicester City is a tie with all the elements in place for a classic FA Cup match. High flying Championship side at home to the former top flight champions and a club currently in the top three. It was a close run thing last time out and I can’t wait for the chance to go one better. Or, at least, try to ! Would that we were able to attend in person but there’s frankly no way we’ll be able to get anywhere near a football stadium by the end of January. Even 9-11 February for round five is still nothing more than a flight of fancy. Sadly, it will have to be the TV for us, Brighton and Blackpool.

Its one of those where, genuinely, any of the four teams can make it through. Brighton are hardly on fire at present. Blackpool made West Brom look even shoddier than normal at the weekend. Leicester City are clearly the favourites but they won’t relish a visit to a Brentford team who made it to the League Cup semi-finals. Who are flying high in the league and have an added element of steel that was, perhaps, missing last season. Opposition generally despatched with ease but, if we’re being honest, perhaps lacking that additional nous when it counted. Look at how Leeds United held it together at the critical time. Fair play to them. When all were expecting them to fall apart (again) they stayed firm. The brilliance of Bielsa pulling them through. Hurrah for powerpoint!

There are a few obvious plum ties in the draw. Wycombe v Spurs. Cheltenham Town v Manchester City. Chorley v Wolves is, for me, the pick of the bunch. No doubt BT and the BBC will be falling over themselves for Manchester United v Liverpool. Why? Why? Why? (Delilah). A game, and teams, we’ve seen a thousand times before. An encounter with as much cup magic as an end of the pier entertainer pulling a dirty handkerchief rather than the missing card from his sleeve. Genuinely I’d give that one a swerve. Been there. Done it. No interest. The others, and the wider draw, offer up genuine intrigue. Ourselves included. Moreso once the cards fall into place for round five. 

That’s way down the track though. First things first, we’ve got Bristol City tomorrow night. Then a few more league games. Then Leicester City visit. I’m sure, likewise, Thomas will go for a similar team that beat Middlesbrough in round three. That took us most of the way in the league cup. I’m fully behind that, too. The squad is there for a reason and these boys have more than proven they can step into the first team. Even if his rotation does cause a few tears to be shed in other quarters.

I love the FA Cup. I’d love us to get as far as possible, no question. I still see the Championship as an absolute priority. Equally, though, having one foot in the quarters a few season back was quite the moment. Until Swansea City did their thing in the second half. With the paths for both mapped out in front of us, the next month or two could be even more exciting than ever. There’s not really much else to say at this point. The balls have dropped. We know what awaits.  Bring it on.

It all went South at Swansea after a cracking first half.

Nick Bruzon

Hopes, dreams and shocks – FA Cup still delivers. Plus fourth round ball details.

11 Jan

7pm, Monday night. The draw for the FA Cup fourth round takes place. And the fifth. Brentford are in it following Saturday evening’s impressive showing from our youngsters. So are Chorley after their own fine win over (not Wayne Rooney’s) Derby County on Saturday lunchtime. It was a result which set the tone for the weekend. Leeds United fell apart. Again. Blackpool despatched an abject West Bromwich Albion. In an even bigger shock, Sheffield United won a match. There would be no further slip ups from the big boys with Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs amongst those into the bag of balls. Cripes, even Arsenal got through.

A velvet bag awaits…

So, when is it? 7(seven)pm is the designated hour. You can follow the action on the FA Player or on BBC2. Thankfully, for once, we’re not obligated to watch The One Show as the draw has its own specialist programme presented by Mark Chapman (not that one) rather than segued between features on hedgehog hibernation and ten things Gyles Brandreth does to alleviate Lockdown boredom.

BT sport also have an extensive programme that features the final chance of an upset when Stockport County host West Ham. Who doesn’t love a cup shock and I think the Hammers have enough about them to pull one off.  Worth watching if for no other reason than than Brentford loanee Said Benrahma likely to be give a rare start.

As for the balls themselves, Brentford are number 24 (out of 32). Liverpool are 23 and Manchester City 25. We’re very much the meat in a top flight sandwich that nobody will be wanting to take a bite out of. Both teams we’ve faced in this competition before, as are Chelsea – ball 27. Our league cup conquerors, Spurs, are number 4.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

The Marine – Tottenham was huge enjoyable for the neutral (of which there can’t have been many outside of Seven Sisters) , at least until the second goal went in. That said, the non-leaguers still lasted longer against Jose Mourinho’s outfit before going a goal down whilst almost had the temerity to take the least themsevels. With the eyes of the world (and several supporters sitting aside garden sheds watching) Joe Hart’s blushes were only saved by the woodwork with the scores still level. And that…well it would have been dreamland for Marine. 

But we’ve been there and done that. For me (Clive) the chance to see how the current generation fair at Anfield would be the ideal scenario. Even if we are stuck watching it on TV. Instead, it’ll probably end up being away to Nottingham Forest.

We played at Livepool back in 88/89. There was no quarter-final upset

The fourth round draw is immediately followed by that for the fifth. Ball numbers will be generated at that point. Go figure. However, the numbers for the next round are as follows:

1) Plymouth Argyle

2) Southampton / Shrewsbury Town

3) Chorley

4) Spurs

5) Wolverhampton Wanderers

6) Stockport County / West Ham

7 (seven) AFC Bournemouth

8) Manchester United

9) Swansea City

10) Everton 

11) Nottingham Forest

12) Arsenal

13) Barnsley 

14) Sheffield United

15) Millwall

16) Doncaster Rovers

17) Leicester City

18) Wycombe Wanderers

19) Crawley Town

20) Burnley

21) Bristol City

22) FulhamL

23) Liverpool

24) Brentford

25) Manchester City

26) Luton Town

27) Chelsea

28) Sheffield Wednesday

29) Norwich City 

30) Blackpool

31) Brighton & Hove Albion

32) Cheltenham Town

The third round was one of the best yet. For once, the presence of television and the spreading out of the fixtures something to be thankful for. Traditionalists (myself included) have argued for years that the dilution of the games – spreading over four of five days – has been killing the magic. Yet with supporters of all clubs confined to barracks at present, this is exactly what we needed to make a bad situation slightly more bearable. Game after game after game. Upset following upset. 

Let’s see if West Ham can pull off another one this evening. After the draw, of course. Here’s hoping for a big name. And also the prospect of a Crawley – Chorley…..

Could it be Chelsea again?

Nick Bruzon

Bees take their chance in style as Boris misses his.

20 Dec

I’m afraid we must look again at Christmas. As Prime Minister it is my duty to take difficult decisions to do what is right to protect the people of this country. Given the early evidence we have.. it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot sit through Mrs. Brown’s Boys and it is cancelled with immediate effect”. Not my words. The words of.. Actually, they are mine. If only Boris Johnson had come out with that bit of good cheer last night it may have taken the edge off his Christmas shut down. Alas, no. Instead we were reliant on Brentford to do the business and what a way to put a smile on the face. Bryan Mbeumo leading the charge in a 3-1 defeat of Reading that sees us overtake the Royals and move up to fourth. The Bees now on the longest unbeaten streak in the country (13 games, compared to Liverpool next up with 10 ) and all set for the visit of Newcastle United in the league cup quarter finals on Tuesday.

If only

It was a performance that deserved an audience, that’s for sure. Brentford rather than Boris or Brown. Blinkin’ Covid meant another game having to be played at Lionel Road behind closed doors but such was the excitement at the goals flew in, even sitting on the sofa felt that bit less frustrating . Mathias Jensen getting the first with barely ten minutes on the clock. Man of the month Sergi Canos playing a delightful ball through to the Danish international who shot straight down the corridor of saveability. Somehow, Cabral in goal for the Reading allowed it to go straight through him like a dose of salts. All he could do was turn and watch it bobble over the line. It should never have gone in but they all count. Take the festive gifts while you can or applaud the devious nature of Jensesn’s shot. Either way, the scoreline read 1-0.

Soon it was two. And then three. With less than a half hour played Bryan Mbeumo had put the game to bed. His first, magnificent. Josh Dasilva playing a cross field ball that put me in mind of Nico Yennaris to Jota against QPR. The result was much the same – a wondrous goal. Mbeumo picked it up in his stride, shimmied then unleashed a blockbuster from the corner of the box that left Cabral no chance It was just unreal and goal that deserved to be seen in person. Nevertheless, you could see what it meant to him from the celebrations with Josh and captain for the day, Ivan Toney.

Yessss!!!! What a goal !

Then it was three. This time, Toney turning provider. Bryan in the box, opening up the Reading defence as though it were nothing stronger than poorly wrapped Christmas present held together with value brand tape before firing low past the hapless Cabral. 3-0. 29 minutes gone. Game over man. Game over. More importantly, a return to the Bryan we know and love. Like Sergi, good players don’t go bad overnight. Whilst his name hasn’t been a familiar one on the scoresheet in recent months, this is what he does and what a way to do it ! The squad joining together to keep this fine form going.

Half time came and went. The defence somewhat testing the squad set up to the max. Having started with Fosu in place of Dalsgaard and Charlie Goode for the suspended Ethan Pinnock, Dom Thompson came on for Rico Henry. How he keeps going I’ve no idea but a well earned rest ahead of the Newcastle game. Further changes followed and so perhaps no surprise that , with the foot off the gas a tad, a consolation goal was conceded. But, you know, that was it. The lead could have been extended late on with flurry of chances somehow being kept out by the Reading woodwork and defence. Thomas balancing his changes and his squad to perfection once more. The record books showing a 3-1 victory that pushed Brentford up to fourth in the Championship – three points off second placed Bournemouth. That’ll do me.

Next up, Newcastle United. They’re hot off the back of being tonked 5-2 by Leeds United (the ‘wrong’ team falling apart in that one ) and then being held 1-1 by FulhamL. A chance for the Magpies to restore some pride or Brentford to record a fourth victory over Premier League position this season? Either way, it should be a Christmas cracker. Don’t forget the early kick off for this one . 5.30pm on Sky the time and place, unless you are a director, journalist or club official. Here’s hoping the 200+ can roar us on to victory inside the stadium. Back home, we’ll be screaming at our TVs. And not, for once, because Mrs. Brown is on.

On a day where Liverpool grabbed the main headlines with their 7(seven) – 0 bracketing of Crystal Palace, perhaps the result at Lionel Road will be the one to have far reaching top flight consequences. Talking at full time, Thomas was full of his customary good cheer as he noted, “When you look back at the end of a season there will always be some defining wins, this could be one of them”.

Too true. This time last season we’d just lost at Sheffield Wednesday. The Bees had slipped to ninth and had 30 points. A year later we’re on the rise, with 35 points from the same number of games and sitting pretty in the play-off zone. All this, despite the intensity of game frequency and the inevitable squad rotation that has to go with this. We’ve been saying all season this will be key. That the league (cliché alert, cliché alert) is a marathon not a sprint. How Thomas and his rivals manage resources and know when to rest tired limbs will be the answer to who goes up. So far, we’re doing just fine. With Christian Norgaard on the bench yesterday, there’s the prospect of even better to come.

See you on Tuesday. Even if it is on the sofa.     

Enjoy the goals, again….

Nick Bruzon

We’ve finally jumped the shark. Off-pitch, at least.

5 Oct

Disgraceful. Appalling. Spineless. I’ve not seen such a lousy and shameful performance in a long, long time. And I’ve been supporting Brentford FC for over forty years. But hey. Enough about our yoof element and their Twitter opinions. Thankfully, the club is run by professionals rather than a committee of angry school kids. Just imagine if social media had been available in the Butcher, Rosenior, Noades, W£bb eras ! How quickly people forget about the Marinus experiment. And most of this ranting was before we’d even stepped out against Preston. By the time our 2-0 half time lead had turned to a 4-2 humping, the nuclear button had been long pressed all over the internet. On a day Manchester United were one short of being bracketed at home and Liverpool succumbed to that fate at Aston Villa (including an Ollie Watkins hat-trick), perspective is needed . Of sorts.

About the one part of Twitter we can reproduce – this, from ‘official’

If you use Twitter you’ve no doubt seen all the vitriol. The nonsense. The whinning self-pity or pathetic justification of the abuse being doled out to certain players. The expectation that we should be a Premier League side and somehow falling short of those lofty aspirations by not wining every game 20-0 is a cardinal sin.  The abuse handed out to other supporters for having the temerity to even question this. Those brave keyboard warriors wading in before their bedtime. 

Personally, I just find it utterly baffling. There’s clearly no ability to read a game, to understand our club or for that matter, football. And I say this prior to the Preston performance. Which was a disgrace to the word performance. Ivan Toney taking two magnificent goals that should have set Brentford on the way to 7th(seventh) place. Instead, the second period saw our defence fall apart like Leeds United on steroids.

That’s football. It’s inexplicable. Perhaps inexcusable. The team losing their way the second Christian Norgaard limped off. Only Josh Dasilva and Sergi Canos keeping us in it. But one man shouldn’t make that much of a difference and for whatever reason, they were off their game today. Marcondes invisible. Jensen likewise. Benrahma a shadow of the talent who electrified us on Thursday night. The back four leakier than Julian Assange. Sometimes it happens. When one or two go awol, the rest of the team can generally cover them. Do it en-masse and you bring on the inevitable. Which in this case was four goals conceded in 18 second half minutes. What looked at one stage like certain victory turned into a brutal humbling.

Credit to Preston, btw. They went for it and got what they deserved. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Goal followed goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney’s early brace rendered nothing more than a statistical nicety. The opportunity was there and they took it. No complaints here. No sour grapes.

For me, the big take away was Brentford fan social media. Genuinely, I don’t get it. My longevity as a supporter doesn’t make my opinion or viewpoint any more relevant or important than that of those who have jumped on the Brentford bandwagon in more recent years. We want the club to grow. We want our stadium full. We want new supporters. 

I’ve seen a lot of awfulness over those forty years. I’ve had a lot of fun, too. Yet until Matthew Benham came along we know that the good times were very much the thin end of the wedge. A genuine playing talent something that came long once every five years and was inevitably sold the second we received our first offer.

Now, we’re generally winning for fun. We’re turning vast profit on our transfer business as though that was the BAU model for any football club. Watching Ollie Watkins and Ezri Konsa destroy Liverpool at Aston Villa on Sunday evening just another reminder of how well our former players do when making that next step. How much we make, funds vital for keeping alive a club that was shaking buckets in easy living memory, when they take that leap.   

So why are ‘fans’ now so quick to turn on a team that have already reached the quarter-finals of the league cup and had picked up 4 points out of 9 prior to what was an absolute debacle? Why the hate campaign from certain quarters against certain players? Why the expectation that we should win every game? Why the calls for Thomas Frank’s head? Of course people get upset about losing but this has been going on well before that. It’s almost as though they relished the excuse of a diabolical showing – we’ve chucked in a couple a season as long as I’ve been coming – to really then let rip.

I can’t answer that. Lonely? Self-indulgent? Craving attention? Small penis? Who knows? Brentford were bobbins but it was one game. But for those arbitrary moments on which football turns we would have drawn or beaten Birmingham City. Millwall away is never easy but we still took a point. Huddersfield were annihilated. We were shocking against Preston. All round. But one lousy performance in weird circumstances does not even come close to justifying some of the abuse being dished out. And yes, there is a mute button. Or a block. But this isn’t about that. It’s about trying to get the head round why anybody who purports to be a fan thinks this is even vaguely appropriate at any time. Let alone when we have a new stadium, a team that came so close last time out and a solid start to the season. For me, Clive, this really was the moment they jumped the shark (and kids, if you are somehow reading – if you can read – go look that one up).

Was Sunday the moment we finally jumped the shark on social media?

It’s not been electric in the league but we are getting better as our team adjust to a new striker and an absent Benrahma / Raya. Sunday WAS horrific but it was one game. Look at Nottingham Forest whose record reads LLLL. Look at Manchester United – shipping six goals at home to Spurs. Liverpool took an absolute tonking at Aston Villa. Even I’d agree with Dean Smith that his team ‘deserved to win’ this one. Not everybody can do it every game. Although, apparently, Brentford must. 

I could go on but, really, what’s the point? I’d love to win every match but that’s just not how football works. If you are of the mentality that bullying certain players, calling for a successful head coach to be sacked and abusing fellow fans is justifiable then this won’t change a thing. If you are in the other camp then we already agree.  Players have off games and it is absolutely right and proper that we can comment on it. That we can analyse a game. See who might have done better or been switched. But that requires a brain. Requires a genuine opinion. Requires the ability to reply without having to resort to ‘f*ck off’ or ’n*nce’ as your counter argument to anyone trying to defend our team.

We had a stinker. No question. It was rancid . But it was also one game. Get over yourselves, kids. Try showing a bit of support. Try enjoying yourself. Teams don’t win every game. Team have off days. Players have shockers. Looks at Manchester United. Look at Liverpool. Errr, Klopp out?? 

Hey, perhaps he can take over from Thomas Frank. Alternatively, get a grip.

At times like this there can be only one explanation

Nick Bruzon