Tag Archives: Louis van Gaal

Incoming. Do we have incoming as Cup final more than delivers?

22 May

Well, that was a day. Manchester United and Mark Clattenburg beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup whilst North of the border, former Bees boss Mark Warburton saw his Rangers side go down to Hibernian in the Scottish equivalent. As for the main news, it would seem we have incoming at Brentford – Matthew Benham has fired up the cryptic clue generator once more.

But I need to start with the FA Cup final, simply because it had the footballing community gripped. And, as is so often the case, it was what happened off the pitch that provided many of the talking points. Certainly for the so called ‘neutrals’ – although how many can ever be neutral in a game involving Manchester United remains to be seen. Of those I spoke to, most were cheering on Goliath rather than David in the hope that Crystal Palace could lift that famous trophy.

Where do you start ? Alan Pardew’s dancing, surely. With Jason Puncheon giving Palace a deserved lead his manager couldn’t help but launch into an touchline routine as he channelled his inner John Travolta. And it was bad. Like the worst of dad at a wedding after a few too many beers. More Alan Partridge than Alan Pardew.

Yet who am I to criticise? If you win it makes you even more of a hero and adds to the moment. There can’t be too many managers to have seen their side take the lead in an FA Cup final and so fairplay to him for enjoying the moment. Even if it was, almost literally, a moment as United equalised within minutes.

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BBC viewers saw Alan Pardew in ‘wedding mode’

If nothing else, it is something that is sure to go down in Cup history like Trevor Brooking’s header (apparently, he scored once and West Ham won the cup), Chas and Dave, Radford’s rocket (yawn) and the White Horse.

I hadn’t realised this but apparently Palace and Manchester United had met in the Cup Final before. Back in 1990. I was out of the room at one point getting a drink but I’m pretty sure I came back just in time to hear that fact mentioned.

And then again. And again. And again. The BBC had a crowbar and they were going to use it. I had ‘1990‘ on my FA Cup bingo card (along with ‘Fellaini elbow‘ – which took longer than expected) more as a token gesture than anything else. Sure enough, the BBC obliged.

We had the obligatory feature with Ian Wright during the build up. Specifically revisiting the estate he grew up on and the patch of grass where he played football as a youngster. I’m sure we’ve seen variants of this before, many times, but it’s still such an inspirational story. I loved the fact the BBC had gone ‘old school’ and, like last year, had a whole series of final related shows and features starting about five hours before kick off.

Ah yes, before kick off.  When the players should have been walking onto the pitch proceedings were delayed as the FA Cup tried to go ‘Super Bowl’ – but on a budget of 50p. Instead of the Rolling Stones or Coldplay (thank heavens for small mercies) , we had Tinie Tempah bouncing around a purpose built stage on the centre circle.

Perhaps this delay was the reason for the subsequent ‘sound malfunction’ with the National Anthem. What a moment in any singer’s career. With the eyes of the world watching, this was her time to shine.

Yet  as the band started, former X-Factor contestant Karen Harding stood motionless, clutching the microphone to her waist and waiting for I don’t know what. “Has she forgotten to sing?” asked Mrs. Bruzon on the sofa next to me.

To be honest, I don’t know what happened. Stage fright? Abject terror? Brain freeze? Or just missed her cue? Even if there had been an issue with her earpiece, would the fact that there were 100,000 people in the stadium singing not have been a clue?

I guess we’ll never know the real reason. Karen joined the rest of us in time to sing the last 9 (nine) words. Like Pardew’s dancing, it was another moment that will be written into the FA Cup’s already voluminous history.

She got there in the end

As for the game, Jesse Lingard’s extra time winner was a goal to light up any Cup Final (Boom – the sound of another cliche going off). It was a wonderful strike to give United the lead after Juan Mata had hauled them back into it, courtesy of some brilliance from Wayne Rooney.

The X-men actor and England man revelling in his midfield position as he provided a stunning assist for the equaliser. Rooney’s name may not have been on it but his strength and purpose as he worked with the ball for what seemed an eternity deserve genuine recognition.

Mata’s equaliser had the additional bonus of meaning BBC coverage over ran further and, as a result, saw the subsequent cancellation of the alleged comedy ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’. It was only a shame that the same privilege couldn’t be extended to Michael McIntyre following full time.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Wayne and Juan

The other person needing special mention was referee Mark Clattenburg. Twice in the first half he stopped proceedings and denied Palace genuine goal scoring opportunity, instead bringing the ball back for their ‘advantage’. Once was bad enough but to do it a second time had even Alan Pardew making note.

The irony of former referee Mark Halsey’s comments last year that Clattenburg should have had the 2015 final were not lost. At the time he was quoted on the BBC as saying:

I’m amazed that they’ve not given him the final…

“I would imagine that Jon Moss will feel a little bit sheepish that he doesn’t really deserve it and Mark Clattenburg does.”

“How many times has Mark done massive games? He’s done the Uefa Super Cup this year, big Champions League games and earned plaudits. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, Mark. There’s your answer.

At the end of the day (Clive), Manchester United won it. You can’t deny them their moment and, certainly, they celebrated like they’d just beaten Leyton Orient (Russell? Russell?? Russell……?). Players, fans and management were ecstatic. Understandably so.

Likewise, congratulations must be offered to Louis van Gaal and his team. I’m sure they’ll both grow from here and the Dutchman will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Now he has a first trophy under his belt, his stock is sure to be rising with the Old Trafford board.

As for matters North of the border, Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 to lift the Scottish cup. Sadly it wasn’t quite to be for Mark Warburton although I’m sure he’ll be more than happy with a season that has seen his team promoted to the top flight.

David Gray scored a late winner for Hibs which, aswell as sparking a post match pitch invasion / riot (delete as applicable) also saw our own Matthew Benham launch the cryptic clue generator once more.

Matthew posting a YouTube video on Twitter is a well known sign in Brentford circles that a new player is about to come to Griffin Park. The only problem with these being that they normally require a doctorate in brain surgery in order to decode – even after you know the answer.

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Matthew posted this on Saturday evening

This one seems remarkably simple. David Gray singing ‘This Year’s love’. Surely there was more to this than Mathew’s intent to sign the Scottish full back?

His clues are never this simple. Sledge hammer like unsubtly just isn’t Matthew’s style.

Could this mark a new approach from our owner?  Transfer news being announced by a clue that even yours truly can unravel? Or is there a hidden message in there ?

I’ve not got the time to decipher David’s lyrics to try and find out whilst, being honest, nor would I want to. It’s for good reason the ‘Babylon’ singer is currently residing in popular music’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ files

As ever with Matthew, I’m sure the answer isn’t what it seems at first glance. It could be as simple as his having had a bet on Hibs to win the cup.

Then again, I’ll have my eyes on Brentford official this Monday. Just in case…..

And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download.  Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon 

Derby not the only Casualty as Wigan lose out on ‘chant of the year’

18 May

As with yesterday, Brentford know another Championship opponent for next season after the play-offs claimed another victim (although it was a lot tighter than most neutrals imagined). Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United went to incredible lengths to distract people from talking about ‘that bomb’ whilst, apparently, Will Grigg is still on fire. Amongst other things.

Where to start though ? Why not Manchester United, given how ‘the bomb that never was’ (thankfully) has dominated the news these last few days. Well, their abandoned game with Bournemouth took place last night and, on the pitch, whilst the 19-0 ‘spoiler’ that would have kerplunked Manchester City for the final Champion’s League spot never happened, Louis van Gaal’s team got the  win that most people expected.

This, even if Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal denied his own ‘keeper, a share of the Premier League’s ‘golden glove’ for most shut outs in the season. Petr Cech beating David de Gea to the award by 16 clean sheets to 15. (Stop sniggering at the back. And the Ethiad).

But it was pre-kick off where my social media timeline awoke from it’s pre-kick off slumber. Specifically because United had decided to paint three of their child mascots blue.

Not in some sort of homage to neighbours City but, infact, to promote the forthcoming X-Men film. Ironically, a film I’d imagine most of them aren’t even old enough to watch judging by the photograph which appeared c/o Telegraph football’s Twitter feed.

Telegraph x-men mascots

This really happened….

As marketing decisions go, it’s one that seems to rank alongside our own #bignewambitions . Certainly in terms of the bizarre, if nothing else. Whilst you have to say that it did get people talking is there no length they won’t stoop to in order for a bit more commercial revenue ? Body painting children in the colours of your arch rivals to promote a movie?

As one twitter wag noted, “let’s hope they didn’t have to stay painted from Sunday”.

Still, if all of this distracted people from Bournemouth’s chant of the season in  “Shall we check the bogs for you?” then who am I to criticise?

And as a side note, congratulations to Bournemouth in defying the expectations of just about every critic and amateur pundit in securing a second series  season in the Premier League. Despite playing what would seem to be fast and loose with the FFP rules on the way to beating us to a promotion spot last season, like Leicester City they have still punched well above above their expected weight this time around. Here’s hoping we can join them again soon.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of this. Another Tuesday night saw another surrendering of the remote control to Mrs. Bruzon for Holby City. It’s all about the trade off and saving the zapper for ‘the big games’ . Besides, as we all knew, there was nothing interesting going to happen in the Man U game whilst Derby County had no hope in the play-offs at Hull City AFC after going down 3-0 in the first leg at home.

And yet again another example of why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of pundit, manager, informed observer or football fan with half a brain. With just over half an hour on the clock, Derby had swept into a two goal lead .

Could the impossible actually happen? No. Mrs Bruzon wouldn’t surrender the remote. And on pitch, things remained the same. Meaning Hull go though 3-2 on aggregate whilst, for Derby, it was a third successive capitulation in the most heartbreaking of knock out tournaments.

As with Brighton in yesterday’s column, it is a pain us Brentford fans can well relate to. On the plus side, for us, another good away trip to add to the calendar next season as at least one lengthy journey will now be crossed off the fixture list.

And talking of Brentford – finally – you may not be aware but apparently Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, now plying his trade at Wigan Athletic, is on fire. More to the point, if you believe the (apparently) popular terrace chant, “Your defence is terrified”.

I’m genuinely pleased for Will. We all know that things didn’t quite work out for him at Brentford with his cause not being helped by injury. He arrived with a huge reputation and a lot of anticipation yet ended up leaving with a goal scoring record that was, I’m sure as much for the player as the supporters, somewhat below expectation.

4 goals in 34 league games (including a brace and missed penalty on his home debut v Sheffield United) are, if we’re being honest, not the sort of figures to strike this supposed terror into the heart of any defence.

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick.

Yet, you can’t knock his subsequent League 1 record with MK Dons or Wigan Athletic. It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how he steps up a division to the Championship. Have Brentford made the biggest mistake of all time in letting him go after his loan spell at Stadium MK or will this be proven to have been a good decision? Only time will tell.

The main reason for finally jumping on the “Grigg/fire’ bandwagon is the news that Wigan chairman David Sharpe has now rewarded the supporter purported to have created the chants with a free season ticket. Fair dues and well played.

But by that logic, if Ciff Crown is reading (you never know) how about making a similar gesture at Brentford? Whilst not ‘chants’ per se, I can lay claim to:  “And this is Saunders territory” for the awarding of any set-piece within a 25 yard radius of the goal line . This, regardless of whether the perma-tanned wing wizard and dead ball demi-god is even on the pitch. It is a lucky mantra that has worked on numerous occasions.

Likewise, I’ve got half-shares in, “Don’t take it short; it never works”  (along with a more colourful variant) whenever we are about to take a short corner. So far, this tactical advice about the most maligned of set-pieces has proven correct.

How about it Cliff? If it’s good enough for Wigan….?

Wigan chairman re Grigg

Bournemouth fans may disagree with this sharp observation

The other piece of Brentford news to catch my eye was something shared by Brentford video whizz kid (and Alex Pritchard lookalike ) Sean Ridley .

The Football League have released the new ‘official font’ and numbering to be used on next season’s kits.And, it’s fair to say, that reactions have been mixed.

I like the font, I’m not convinced by the look of the numbering but I’m very disconcerted by the apparent lack of brackets for supporters looking to get a replica shirt printed up. Looks like another season for yours truly without a: Saunders 7 (seven).

One year, club shop. One year……

new font

coming soon to a back near you

And finally, as ever at this time of the year, my own moment of self-promotion and (more importantly) thanks to all those who have so far downloaded either The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again or the three year anthology : The Bees are going up. I remain shocked but hugely respectful of the fact that anybody would take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

All to play for but is an upset on the cards?

26 Feb

Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 stroll against Wolves. After a day in which the postponement of our trip to Hull City AFC (thanks to their FA cup replay with Arsenal) and an end to the fascination with all things FCM (thanks to Manchester United remembering how to score goals) were the main talking points for many Bees fans, it’ll be good to have a match to focus on once more.

So, Rotherham . The Championship table doesn’t lie and the Millers now find themselves in a bottom three who are already six points, and inferior goal difference, adrift of an MK Dons side occupying the final safe berth. A gap of what is effectively 7(seven) points will be hard enough to reel in at the best of times, let alone when you are on a miserable run of form and with only 13 games to go. Something will need to change pretty quickly or they’ll be digging out the maps for next season’s trip to Accrington Stanley.

Which makes me wary about Saturday. Not so much for us but more the mind state of the opposition. Dean Smith’s team reminded us against Wolves just how well they can play when allowed to run at their opposition and take the ball forwards. Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods, Alan Judge and John Swift (see, it wasn’t a typo in Wednesday’s article) were excellent and I’d love to see more of the same. Then again, we were playing a Wolves team who seemed to have replaced their entire midfield with a colander.

Surely there’s no chance we’ll get similar opposition in successive games? Instead, one can only imagine Rotherham are already approaching that last chance saloon and will want to turn around before they start drinking.

As such, expect dogged resistance from a side who last won in early January (albeit against Brighton) and haven’t scored in three games. I have no doubt Neil Warnock will be asking his team to come flying out of the traps at us although, equally, I have no doubt that if we can see out that early storm then the Bees can sweep to a fourth consecutive Championship win over a side we’ve beaten 2-0, 1-0 and 2-1 since we both got promoted from League 1.

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Are Rotherham approaching the bar? And League 1?

The home game at Griffin Park this time around was one punctuated with three stunning goals, including a brace for Alan Judge.

I’ve had to remind myself just how good the first was whilst, let’s not forget, he even popped up with one on his head for the winner. More of the same would do very nicely and, however we get there, is the score I’m calling for tomorrow. Confidence is a massive thing in football and with Dean Smith’s team surely full of it, we should be too good for a team whose next three games are against top 6 teams and that my online bookmaker (reference purposes only) shows as 1/8 on to go down.

Alan Judge – his first minute opener was THAT good !

Yesterday’s other talking point was the postponement of the Hull game, originally scheduled for March 8th, due to their ongoing FA Cup involvement with Arsenal. This was an inevitable casualty of the fixture list as soon as the original tie ended 0-0 and will be a source of frustration to many.

Good luck to them. I’d love it for us to be the ones having to cancel games and moreso after our third round capitulation to Walsall back in January.

That was a dreadful performance from the Bees and one which, if you recall, saw us suffer the further indignity of that strange half time ‘lap of honour’ from FCM following the news they’d drawn Manchester United in the Europa League.

How good if we could have made headway in that competition (FA cup, not Europa league) rather than match last season’s home defeat at the first hurdle? Maybe next year but, until then, I’ll certainly wish good luck to our Championship rivals in the replay.

Which brings me full circle back to last night. Thankfully, Brentford ‘official’ have listened and scaled back the Midtjylland tub-thumping to zero. Twitter and the official site were both silent before, during and after the game. It marks a refreshing change in the media/comms team and was probably no bad thing as the Danes saw their ‘cup final’ end in a 5-1 second leg defeat.

Cup football is a hotbed of upsets. If even Manchester United can get a win then maybe Arsenal could end up getting dumped too. It would certainly take the sting off our own postponement if that were to happen.

Although, perhaps, lay off the Griffin Park laps of honour.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

Alan Judge – goals and set plays against Rotherham last time out

Nick Bruzon

Is this next season’s shirt? Plus an unexpected favour

30 Jan

Saturday. Brentford have another afternoon off. The price of FA Cup capitulation. With the scheduled game against Leeds United having been brought forward, we’re not even half-way towards out next outing – the televised clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday evening.   Plus, Manchester United do us a favour whilst one correspondent asks if we’ve been given a possible ‘sneak peek’ of next seasons’ kit? First though, this weekend.

It always feels like we are missing out when most of our rivals are playing. One slight positive is, I guess, that the next time we all meet up the shape of our squad will be known. Will that include Alan Judge? James Tarkowski? Anybody new? With the window due to ‘slam shut’ on Monday, the time for deals is running out. That doesn’t make them any less likely, of course.

Traditionally, the final day has been anything from a sea of tumbleweed to a flurry of frenetic activity. And that’s just the onlookers although recent times have seen them absent after reporter Alan Irwin was assaulted with an ‘adult product’ . Let’s hope our ‘out door’ remains equally quiet over the next few days.

That said, yesterday saw the transfer klaxon going off at Griffin Park with the club announcing that 19 year old centre back Emmanuel Onariase has signed on a youth contract from West Ham. With Harlee Dean, Yoann Barbet, James Tarkowski and Jack O’Connell having already featured in that position this season, what does this mean for our first teamers? Could one or more be on the way out – either now or at season end ?

The situation around James Tarkowski, if not entirely clear following the respective statements, has certainly been made very public. Likewise, Harlee’s contract expires at the end of the season. One would hope that at least one of these players is in the long-term plans of our co-directors of football. We’ll see though.

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Emmanuel signs and opts for scarf over shirt

The other slight plus from this weekend was Derby County being beaten by Manchester United in the FA Cup last night. As anybody who has been reading this week will be aware, I’m not particularly interested in the cup performances of Mr. van Gaal’s team.

However, the result does now mean that our game with Derby at Griffin Park will go ahead on February 20th. Had the Rams beaten United then we wouldn’t have had a Saturday ‘home fixture’ until March 5th against Charlton Athletic. Imagine what a long wait that would have been – over a month without a home weekend fixture.

We’d have had to do ‘that trip’ to Ikea, visit the in-laws, paint the spare room or fix the leaky tap. I can only imagine the panic over at The Griffin as takings nosedived. Thanks Man U. Please note: my interest in you is now over. Again .

And finally, fellow kit enthusiast Luis Adriano contacted me on Twitter last night with a great spot – could this be next season’s home shirt? Made by adidas, it is the away shirt for San Jose Earthquakes’ 2016 campaign.

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Could we wear this next season?

As Luis noted, “not sure it would go down too well with the traditionalists” but , from a personal perspective, I have to say that I love it. Red and white stripes but certainly a little bit of a twist on the norm. Would Matthew Benham and Mark Devlin take this much of a leap into untraditional territory? Would supporters like a shirt that was this heavy on the white?

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Osca ’83-’84 home effort. The one with the all white upper half. So rare, I don’t even have one in my own collection that, otherwise, features most things from 1978 onwards (the ‘mythical’ Adidas ’80-’81 aside).

Indeed, it came second in my all time ‘top ten’ of the Bees home shirts. As was noted at the time, that one was “The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant”.

Would we have the guts to go this radical? Would fans warm to it? I may be shooting in the dark but it would be interesting to know.

Either way, it’s a lot better than speculating about who might be sneaking out of that window by Monday.

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Osca 83-84. Loved the shirt – not so keen on the shorts.

Nick Bruzon

Who can upset the Status Quo at Christmas?

24 Dec

In the Premier League, at least, Christmas time is usually considered a strong indication of how the table is going to play out come season end. With Leicester City sweeping aside all comers and Watford, Brentford’s rivals for promotion last season, just one point off the Champions League slots, one can only hope things remain as such. If only to shake up the somewhat moribund status quo that has settled on the top flight in recent years.

More importantly though, watching Chelsea self-destruct and Louis Van Gaal flounce out of a Manchester United press conference whilst the likes of Watford and Bournemouth start to get noticed for the right reasons, gives even more reasons for optimism. These were teams that Brentford were doing battle with in the Championship last season yet now they are ripping up the Premier League rule book. So do the same principals apply to the Championship table at this time of year and could the impossible happen?

Bees at Watford

Watford – Brentford. Last season Championship. Next season Premier?

Well, Middlesbrough were my tip to be Champions at the start of the campaign and they’ve really started to lock down their position at the top. Indeed, Saturday’s emphatic 3-0 win at Brighton was a huge statement of intent as to their title credentials and a massive line in the sand for others team to dare cross.

To be quite honest, I can only see them getting stronger and they still get my vote to finish the season with, at the very least, automatic promotion if not as champions. After that, though, it looks like the wobbles are setting in.

Hull City have lost 3 out of the last 5, including a 2-0 shock at Rotherham United a few days ago. Brighton have only picked up 3 wins from their last 10 league games whilst for Burnley it is 1 out of 7(seven).

Derby County have got second place, at present, but the nerves they’ve seen over the last two seasons are sure to start playing at the back of the mind. A 90th minute play off choke to the Loftus Road mob was bad enough but to then follow this with self-destruction at home to hopeless Reading in the final game last time out can only start the demons rearing their heads soon.

The point being that this is wide open and by no means a certainty as to who will finish where. Brentford can only go into the Boxing Day game with Brighton in buoyant mood. Hot of the back of our own 4-2 win over Huddersfield Town, the team are rampant whilst there is nothing but a warm and fuzzy glow around Griffin Park at present as evidenced by the wonderful events of Tuesday night.

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The BBC table shows the chasing pack are hot on the heels of the play-off zone

Three more points on Saturday could, conceivably, put us amongst that play-off pack and from there, who knows? Could we almost be in that sacrilegious scenario of hoping QPR can get a Boxing Day win over Ipswich Town in sixth place? I’ll leave that one to you and your conscience, whilst just hoping we fulfill our side of that deal.

Being realistic though, come season end I don’t think we’ll be promoted. At least not automatically. The table shows a huge gap whilst we all know the myriad reasons for a start which was, for many fans, much slower than expected. For me it will be Middlesbrough and Hull City but after that the jury really is out.

Brentford are starting to fly and we have as good a chance as anybody. Lee Carsley helped us take off and Dean Smith has continued that momentum. I genuinely believe we’ll get the win on Saturday whilst we take a huge crowd to Reading on Monday. At the time of writing only a handful of tickets remain for that one.

The Premier League may, normally, be predictable, but I think it would take a very brave man to call this division. Or a foolish one. And as I most definitely fit into the latter category, I’m going to do it…

Brentford WILL finish top six. After that though, it’s the play-offs for The Bees. 9th time lucky?

Hey, if Bournemouth can post back-to-back League wins over Chelsea and Manchester United… If Leicester City can top the Christmas table… If Watford can start to think about the Champions League, then ANYTHING is possible… My son even believes an old man with a beard is going to squeeze down our chimney tomorrow and leave some gifts under the tree. Whilst I’ve had to tell him that Jonathan Douglas won’t be visiting, you’ve still got to go with the improbable at this time of year.

And finally… I’m all for upsetting the status quo but there’s nothing upsetting about the real Status Quo. From the world of pop music, that is.

This may not get as much airplay as the best ever festive record – Shakin’ Stevens: Merry Christmas, Everyone – as if anybody needed a reminder, but it comes a very close second in terms of quality.

What better gift can I give you than the gift of…The Quo. Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Griffin Park? This. Is. Sparta!!

8 Jan

It’s a BBC special today. Whilst Brentford may have departed the FA Cup, I do need to give quick mention to the Beeb’s coverage of the fourth round where they have selected Cambridge United v Manchester United and the tie between the winners of Bristol City v Doncaster against West Ham or Everton as their two live games.

Whilst the fourth round is still being spread out over four days, that’s one less than the torturous drip feed of fixtures we had for the previous set of games. More importantly, they have given us games that the neutral might actually want to watch, compared to the all Premiership borefest that was Arsenal v Hull City last time out.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Are changes coming as Wolves await the Bees?

27 Dec

With the dust settled on the reverse to Ipswich Town, its time for Brentford to regroup, refocus and prepare for Sunday’s trip to Wolves. And with memories of November’s 4-0 victory over Wanderers still fresh in the mind, the chance to get straight back in the saddle couldn’t come soon enough back.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

What were they thinking? Norwich City defrocked

16 Sep

We’ll crack on with the visit of Norwich City to Brentford shortly but, first, there are a few bits of unfinished business in regards to Monday’s article on the Manchester United – QPR game. Specifically comments around both teams that, quite simply, I ran out of space to include.

First up, Christian O’Connell. The Absolute Radio DJ brought United fans back to earth, aswell as highlighting the state of their opponents, with the astute observation on Sunday that, “Celebrating beating QPR is like jumping for joy when you beat Stevie Wonder at Pictionary”.

And secondly, to a holier place than even national radio – St. Margaret’s Church. It was there, I am told, that the 10.30 service saw a visiting Priest addressing his congregation thus: Many thanks to the kind Parishioners who took me to watch Chelsea – Swansea. A great game although being from Uganda I am, of course, a Manchester United fan”.

So they’re not all from Surrey, then.

O'Connell takes out both Manchester United and QPR fans with one tweet

O’Connell takes out both Manchester United and QPR fans with one tweet

And from Uganda to Norwich City. If you want a proper Brentford match preview then (as ever) Beesotted , the BBC or the clubsite are your places.

For the Last Word reader, following the feature before the Brighton game, it’s time for the next in our semi-regular series – What were they thinking? The ‘best of the worst’ / quirkier (delete as applicable) of our visitors’ kits through the ages.

The best : 1988-89 Scoreline. I’ve got personal interest in this one, simply because it is the shirt worn by the Canaries when they reached that season’s FA Cup semi final. Brentford fans won’t need reminding that was the year of Gary Blissett, Manchester City and the quarter final at Anfield where Liverpool did well to eventually edge us out.

A classic, despite the apparent breach of 'Trade descriptions act' with the sponsor

A classic, despite the apparent breach of ‘Trade descriptions act’ with the sponsor

The unfortunate design : 1989- 1992 Asics. The plus point is that this one sticks to traditional Norwich City colours of yellow and green. The downside is that the green is less ‘trim’ and more emblazoned over the upper body in a way that, especially on the away kit, puts one in mind of a Waitrose delivery van.

Were the Norwich City club shop expanding their home delivery service?

Were the Norwich City club shop expanding their home delivery service?

The worst : 1992- 1994 Ribero. Imagine if your club came up with a great kit design that, after the over indulgence of Asics, got the balance between yellow and green just right. Then, they fed a flock of pigeons nothing but sprouts before allowing them to nest above the final design specs for the team’s latest shirt. This is the result.

Pebble dashed by an incontinent pigeon??

Pebble dashed by an incontinent pigeon??

The away shirt : I’ve already mentioned one of these so rather than go for the picnic blanket of the 1993-94 Asics, we’ll chuck in a bonus category:

Retro classic – the Admiral tracksuit. Seen here as sported by Norwich City legend John Bond. If, rather than being a Brentford fan, I’d grown up on the streets of Caistor St. Edmund or Diss in the 1970s I think it’s a fair bet I’d have worn one of these. Probably whilst riding a Raleigh Chopper. Stunning.

John Bond - the king of cool

John Bond – the king of cool

 

Brentford relax as QPR & Manchester United clash

15 Sep

Brentford fans were able to take it easy on Sunday, basking in the satisfaction of another three points at the weekend (Brighton being the benefactors). With Norwich City next up, a win on Tuesday night will take us above the, currently second placed, Canaries and the returning Lewis Grabban. That’s one to look forward to tomorrow but for now I need to complete the weekend review with the ‘devil and the deep blue sea’ decision that was Manchester United v QPR on Sky.

Specifically – two questions. First up, who to cheer for? Manchester United had, prior to this game, actually endured a worse start under Louis van Gaal than they had under David Moyes. As somebody who supports a team traditionally seen as an underdog, there’s always a particular pleasure in seeing the larger clubs come a cropper. And in England they don’t (Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal aside) come much bigger than United.

Last season’s spectacular fall from grace was a thing of beauty for all of those outside of the Home Counties and Greater Manchester to behold. The traditional United fanbase stunned by their team’s unprecedented self-destruction as even Europa League qualification evaded them.

So when things continued in the same vein this campaign, I won’t pretend I wasn’t pleased to see more of this. Cripes – even Will Grigg managed to rediscover his prolific shooting boots against the Red Devils. But then Louis went shopping and normal service looks like it has been resumed – well, it was fun whilst it lasted.

United allowed Will Grigg to rediscover his early Brentford form

United allowed Will Grigg to rediscover his early Brentford form

But if we didn’t cheer for United then the alternative was the Loftus Road mob. I can’t imagine any circumstance where I’d willfully hope they won. No offence to any QPR fans who may read but, like Fulham, a victory over our West London neighbours is always one to savour. Any sign of our geographical rivals tripping up is a moment to appreciate how good life can be.

So in the end, it was one of those where you just sat back to see what the footballing gods throw at you. With United meting out a 4-0 thrashing that, at one point, looked like it was heading towards those fabulous brackets that come with 7(seven), it’s fair to say that this Brentford fan was left happy with the outcome.

Second question. United play in red shirts, white shorts and black socks. QPR play in (predominantly) blue and white shirts, white shorts and white socks. In theory, this shouldn’t have presented any kit clash beyond, perhaps, a switch to blue shorts.

So why, short of some Fergiesque excuse about being unable to see each other against the crowd, did the visitors need to don their third kit? Moreso as it is almost identical to the home version. Socks and shorts are both white but the shirt simply drops the blue.

It seemed a totally unnecessary exercise in justifying a superfluous third kit. One for the marketing men to answer. Still, if they carry on with results like this then there may be a rather hefty fine to pay. Going to need to shift more than a few extra shirts to cover that one.

Interestingly, Brighton’s blue and white didn’t seem to present any problems against our red and white in the weekend game. With the club now posting their YouTube highlights, you can savour that fine win once more (and see how two teams cope with a non-existent kit clash).

 

View from the terrace - there was no problem picking out bue and white against red and white at Griffin Park

View from the terrace – there was no problem picking out bue and white against red and white at Griffin Park

Pre-season excitement builds as even Manchester United impress

24 Jul

I’ve no particular affiliation to Manchester United or the Premiership but this morning the Old Trafford outfit have achieved my favourite thing in football – videprinter brackets. Louis van Gaal scooped the prestigious Chevrolet Cup (a 21st Century Makita trophy?) in his first game in charge of the Red Devils as the won 7(seven) – 0 over LA Galaxy.

Being a Brentford fan, I’m always a lover of seeing the mighty fall flat at the hands of the under-dog. As such, last season’s campaign was of particular interest for us Premiership neutrals with team after team lining up to administer another beating to David Moyes’ team.

Brackets made their first appearance since the World Cup

Brackets made their first appearance since the World Cup

However, does this hefty win mean normal service will be returned? Or do pre season friendlies count for nothing? Well, with Brentford taking Barnet (the LA Galaxy of North London) apart 5-1 on Tuesday I’d certainly be taking positives from any victory. Further friendlies await against Nice (Saturday), CA Osasuna (Tuesday) and then Crystal Palace the following weekend .

Last season saw fine performances against Millwall (3-0) and Cardiff City (3-2) that were the precursor to our eventual promotion. I won’t take wins in the next ten days as a guarantee of the same but they will be great morale boosters. Moreso for the fans who seem to be chomping at the bit to get back to Griffin Park.

Full ticketing details remain on the club site but, for the price of a Central London pint, you can see the Bees in action as soon as this weekend.

Bring it on!! Football is (almost) back

And if you can’t wait for the new season, why not catch up on the last one? ‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s 2013/14 promotion campaign, amongst other football related chatter) – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from last season, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

GP under lights v Cardiff 2

Griffin Park awaits last season’s warm up against Cardiff City