Tag Archives: Manchester City

Hail Ants. Who will be the last starter in this toughest of challenges?

25 Sep

The day has come. The one we’ve had marked on the calendar is now upon us. Brentford face a visit from, quite possibly, the most fearsome of all Premier League opponents. Being realistic we haven’t a hope but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be dreaming of the impossible come 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon. My word. Forget playing the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea. This is next level. This is the moment. Our Super Bees are going up against none other than… Stuart Atwell. Groan. I’m sure Liverpool fans feel the same about today’s ref. We’ve all been there. We’ve all suffered. As if it wasn’t going to be hard enough when Jurgen Klopp and his galaxy of stars descend upon us, we’ve this rogue element chucked in to the mix. Hail ants.

Hail ants, indeed.

At best, its the same for both of us. We can’t change anything so let’s go into this one fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Focus on Liverpool and beating them rather than getting overly het up about arbitrary elements. At least, until they happen. If they happen. Hey, you never know. Even Keith Stroud mellowed with experience. A bit. Instead, the question is more one of who Thomas is going to start with? 

Surely more of the same after the defeat of Wolves last weekend? Thomas Frank used his press conference to declare, “There will be 10 of the same starters and then I need to find the last one.” . Yet with, apparently, no injury concerns is this nothing more than gamesmanship? The Bees boss indulging in faux guessing games when the answer is already staring us in the face on the back of last weekend’s matchday programme? 

If my maths are correct, Shandon Baptiste served his red card suspension against Oldham Athletic in the midweek bracketing so could feature. Will his place be taken by Frank the Tank? Is Saman, impressive in the league cup, due another start? Might player 11 be Rico or Pontus? Answers on a postcard please. And remember, no entries can be returned. I’ve no clue but if everybody is available (barring the long term injuries) then surely the same XI has to be the way to go. Play your best team and let the opposition adjust their game to suit. 

Not that Mr. Klopp should have any major concerns about his own selections. Such is the wealth of talent available he could chuck the squad car keys into a bowl, pull out any 11 and aside from a somewhat unsavoury image for a family friendly publication, still come up with a team to beat just about anybody in this division.  Liverpool are currently on a 15 game unbeaten run and have only conceded one Premier League goal this season. That coming in their season opener against Chelsea. The Blues, of course, our next opponents and the only team higher than the Anfield outfit, courtesy of no slimmer margin than alphabetical order. In a statistical anomaly, their records are otherwise identical. 

As it stands…..

Let’s not forget Brentford though. We’re ninth in the table and well aware of our own record and form. Last weekend at Molineux was out best performance of the season by a country mile. Dominant. Dangerous. Cagey when we needed to be. Even a streak of shithousery added to our game. Yet for me, Clive, it was the way we played when down to ten men that was the most impressive element. Of course, Ivan grabbed the headlines but the defence  – especially Kris Ajer and his wonderful tackle – kept us in it. Moreso, given both Pontus and Rico were subbed out in the final quarter hour. It was undoubtedly tense to watch and you could see where the six minutes of additional time came from (hey, those gloves weren’t going to change themselves). 

This had the Wolves fans up in arms. Hey, gloves get holes in them.

I’m not stupid. I’m aware we are being served up as plucky underdogs. The team that many admire but just about everyone expects to go down to a something nil defeat. That Mo Salah will try and use the occasion to progress to that magical numerical mark. Not a 7(seven) goal bracketing (although I wouldn’t put it past him) but more reaching 100 Premier League goals. With the race for the golden boot already looking like it will be a four way fight between him, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Ivan Toney you can bet he’ll fancy his changes to both step up form his current 99 and move ahead in that particular race.

Salah – has scored a few and will be looking to add to that haul

The bookies don’t fancy us, that’s for sure. We’ve come in slightly but are still at a general 6-1 this morning. For the home team in a two horse race, that tells you all you need to know about how we are perceived and how tough the opposition is. Liverpool rather than Atwell. Although also Atwell. Then again, we were similar longshots  in the season opener against Arsenal and look what happened there! Yours truly ended up laughing all the way to the bank that day with 888 having to cough up for a very tasty pint of Guinness at full time. Ker-ching !! 

Then again, this is how we love it. Under the radar. Tinpot. Unfancied. Nothing more than a bus stop. It’s going to be as raucous as they come. The supporters up for it and set to welcome rival fans who actually know a thing or two about making some noise of their own. Cripes, Arsenal may aswell have brought their library with them, such was the lack of atmosphere being generated from that far corner. Oldham were ten times louder and they had a third of the numbers present. This will be different though. Hey Jude v You’ll Never Walk Alone. 

It’s going to be immense. And that’s just before the game kicks off. Bring. It. On…. And see you there.

More of this would be wonderful

Nick Bruzon

Will this be the best deal on deadline day? Are we safe?

31 Aug

Deadline day is here. For unbeaten Brentford (the 1-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday making it WDD from our August Premier league fixtures) there is an unusual lack of speculation. This time of year should be sponsored by Anusol, such is the amount of itchy bum time felt at Lionel Road. There’s normally at least one of our top names linked with a move outside the club. Yet even Ivan Toney’s name has barely been mentioned this time around, despite our main man getting off the mark on Saturday at Villa Park. Instead, all the talk as the window prepares to ‘slam shut’ (TM)  has been around Manchester City, Manchester United – something, something, something Cristiano Ronaldo –  and the possibility of Daniel James leaving them for Leeds United (one of ten clubs currently below Brentford in the top flight). 

Celebrations after taking the lead at Villa. Another top-flight point the eventual reward

I don’t like it. The quiet, I mean. By now we should have complete faith in our directors of football. And, to be fair, I do. Yet that doesn’t make it any easier. Certainly, as an outsider looking in. Old habits die hard and having seen our loyalty tested so many times over the years, despite the fact that in recent times things have always gotten better as the replacements bed in, it doesn’t do anything to dispel those lingering doubts that somebody could rock up with a nuclear sized bid that it would be impossible to ignore. Such is the amount of cash currently sloshing around English, and European, football.

The Dean Holdsworth / Murray Jones ‘deal’ the one which we go back to time and again. Yet something that stands out as the the bit of business, if one can call it that, to show how hard it has been for Brentford to retain / attract talent over the years. Of course things are different now but that doesn’t stop the little devil from tapping on the shoulder. In football just about anything is possible when a dumper truck full of money turns up at the front door. Even as recently as the Birmingham City firesale in 2017, late exits have still delivered the mother load of unexpected shocks. Maxime Colin – gone. Jota – gone. Harlee Dean – gone. Insert ten times better comment.   

Time is a great healer

Honestly, it feels too late for anything to happen now. We’ve no intent, need or desire to sell. The start to Premier League life has been a more than positive one. Unbeaten and only one goal against. That, in Saturday’s draw with Aston Villa. It was a game yours truly missed due to a long overdue few days holiday and, instead, Match Of The Day was the place for source material on that one. It was another point and could have been three. Oh, Vitaly Janelt. Ingenuity and optimism that, despite the rules, was worth a punt in the spur of the moment. David Raya at the other end seeming to keep us in it on more than one occasion. 

Yet despite all the positivity on pitch, and inward movement being lined up off it, old habits die hard. Over an hour watching Sky Sports News last night (prior to changing channels for a fascinating ‘fly-on-the’wall’ documentary about weddings) revealed nothing beyond the fact that we are looking to move Joel Valencia out on loan. That was it for the Bees. No mention of Ivan Toney. Nothing. Not even a whisper. 

Instead, it was all Manchester City discussion now Harry Kane has confirmed he is staying put in the short term and Manchester United. The Ronaldo story about as exciting as they come but, in fact, the outward movement of Daniel James to Leeds United could be one of the shrewdest bits of business over the summer. 

£30m the price for a 23 year old who destroyed the Championship at Swansea City, has already got 74 appearances for the Red Devils under his belt and has been long coveted by Marcelo Bielsa. His powerpoint on the Welsh International must be one bursting with positive feedback and he could be a game changer at Elland Road. Certainly, a signing I’m watching with envious eyes in terms of a divisional rival picking up a player who could slot into any team with the potential to be devastating from the off. Cripes, our Harry is still traumatised by his game-changing wonder goal in the FA Cup fifth round a few seasons back….

The Daniel James impact. Brutal

We know our model. Honestly, how many supporters could say they knew much about Frank Onyeka or Yoanne Wissa prior to them joining the Bees? See also: Jota, Benrahma, Mbeumo et al. Ronaldo and Daniel James are oven ready household names. The sort of players that come with a huge cost, huger expectation and the ability to be immediate game changers. With the exception of Pontus Jansson, and perhaps Kris Ajer, we remain masters of tapping into the unknown. Those players tracked well in advance. Players who can do the business despite remaining largely off the broader radar. Shrewd acquisitions rather than five star names. 

Aston Villa have done similar. Their own business over the window lined up early to replace Manchester City bound Jack Grealish. For me, Clive, they are the ones to have come out of the latest round of wheeler-dealing ahead of the rest. So far. Emi Buendia in particular. We’re well familiar with what he can do from last season. There was more of the same on Saturday. As long as we can resist any 11th hour offers then Brentford could well be saying similar. Although if anybody at Lionel Road wants to do a bit more shopping then nobody would complain. 

Just as long as that ‘out door’ stays firmly shut. Just 16 hours to go. And counting……

Pontus – our most high profile signing in years and still a Bee

Nick Bruzon

Here’s hoping we can avoid any more cup upset as third round beckons.

26 Aug

Brentford will host Oldham Athletic in the third round of the League cup. It is a tie that will give the opportunity to crowbar in my favourite bad joke and will be played the week commencing Monday 20th September. It was very much the highlight of a draw that sees no real example of the ‘David hosting Goliath’ tie that makes cup football so exciting, with the possible exception of Arsenal v AFC Wimbledon. Holders Manchester City are at home to a Wycombe Wanderers side now boosted by the signing of Gibraltar international Tjay de Barr. Manchester United v West Ham is an obvious other ‘TV tie’ for lazy executives, as are those featuring our West London neighbours who play a division below the Bees in the Championship ( Fulham and Loftus Road). Yet as much as anything else, we’ll be happy to avoid the sort of ticketing issues which clouded Tuesday night’s game. 

Huge backlogs for the turnstiles on Tuesday

For Brentford another home tie in a game which, historically, may not have attracted as big a crowd as we saw earlier this week when Forest Green Rovers were beaten. Over 12,000 present for that one with those standing in the West Stand being repeatedly asked to sit down by those either visiting for the first time or simply displaced by the ‘open’ nature of ticket selection. One can understand the frustration on both sides. Personally, my days on the Ealing Road are long gone. As much due to taking an infant (at the time – where have those 8 years gone ?) as my own dodgy knees and ankles. Being able to sit certainly taking the strain off aching limbs aswell as ears given H’s inability to see through the butts of those standing in front of us. 

Equally though, we all know what goes on behind the goal. Of course the club can’t advertise standing but, even if things are generously described as being in a ‘singing section’, we all know it goes on. At grounds up and down the land. It is part of what makes up the nature of football fans. What generates the atmosphere. Just look at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Their own drummer, however cringeworthy, flanked by legions of supporters standing up aswell as some sort of synchronised ‘bouncing’ routine. Good luck asking them to sit if you were some hapless tourist caught behind. 

Palace had a drum in their standing section

Which, of course, you wouldn’t be. Like our own West STAND, those prime area tickets snapped up well, well in advance. Except when you scratch all existing Season Ticket places and revert to a car keys in the bowl approach of first in, first pick and good luck with the outcome of those you will be sharing close proximity with for the next 90 minutes. 

Of course supporters should be aware but we’re all still getting used to this. Some fans will be caught out. Right up to the end of our time at Griffin Park, the Ealing Road was able to carry through it’s dispensation to remain terraced. Wonderful it was, too. People want to continue this. Hence the whole plan of getting the stadium built with the option for ‘safe’ standing  – something which in itself which is as insulting and loaded a phrase as they come.  

We know why the club took this approach. One can sympathise. A large crowd was not expected and with the East Stand being closed, people would naturally be displaced. Given the number of Season Ticket holders, three sides into four will not go cleanly. As BIAS would later confirm when probed (gently), “Because the club wanted to keep the East Stand closed this meant those with Season Tickets there would be displaced.  Therefore it made a seat hold phase difficult.  If all stands were open then everyone would be able to buy their seat.

That, surely, the only way to go for the visit of Oldham Athletic. And any other future cup tie. If nothing else, we are still well, well into the tourist phase. People are going to want to come along to a game, just because they can. Just because it is likely to be one of the few chances they can get this season. Over 12,000 for the visit of a league two side showed that. Had it been at Griffin Park with the Bees in the Champions, the crowd would probably have been half that. At the very best. With another team from league two side next up in the cup (and Oldham will be looking to the tournament for a diversion, given they are currently rooted to the foot on nil points and four defeats) let’s hope lessons have been learned. 

Likewise, that the debacle with the ticketing scanners does not repeat itself. A large number of supporters were delayed on the way in following a system meltdown which official have described as “unacceptable”. A detailed report was due on the desk of the Chief Exec / stadium manager yesterday from the club’s Venue Access Control partner. To date, no follow up has been shared with supporters although one would presume this is being digested and a carefully worded statement crafted. Whether this was linked to the fact that tickets were not linked to he usual members / ST cards, who knows? Whatever the explanation, let’s just hope the fans get what they want for Oldham – namely, the chance to sit, or sing / stand, in their usual positions.

That aside, the details for the draw are below. Show me a better cup tie than Brentford – Oldham and I’ll show you a fan of another club. Last week’s Premier League table topers v the club currently propping up the other 91. Its about as top v bottom as they get. It certainly won’t be that easy. Not just for us but for the other clubs, too. A competition which has become more of one which has seen the squads used to their full extent and starting XIs plucked from the reserves is there for the taking if clubs go big. The one exception being Arsenal for whom picking their team from the reserves will likely see a greater chance of success.

I can’t wait. See you there. All being well in the right spot. I think we could all do without any more cup upset.

As for that ‘joke’, perhaps we’ll leave the crowbar behind. Given there are no replays. Otherwise, I’d be asking “Do you know the way to Oldham?

One in each hand….

Those third round ties in full: 

QPR v Everton

Preston v Cheltenham

Manchester United v West Ham United

Fulham v Leeds United

Brentford v Oldham Athletic

Watford v Stoke City

Chelsea v Aston Villa

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland

Norwich City v Liverpool

Burnley v Rochdale

Arsenal v AFC Wimbledon

Sheffield United v Southampton

Manchester City v Wycombe Wanderers

Millwall v Leicester City

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur

Brighton & Hove Albion v Swansea City

Nick Bruzon

A poor man’s Hans Gruber and a drum. Trip to the Palace reminds us what we’ve missed.

22 Aug

Brentford ahead of Manchester City. Not my words, Carol. Those of crisps star Gary Lineker on TV’s Match Of The Day last night (definitely not this morning on ‘catch up’ after falling asleep on the sofa). This, following a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. As eventful a game as one could imagine from the scoreline with both teams feeling aggrieved not to have taken all three points by the time referee Martin Atkinson called a halt to proceedings. Thomas Frank would take the applause from the travelling support as his, our, team, remain unbeaten in the Premier League. The current table seeing us sitting in fourth place with only Liverpool, Brighton and Everton ahead. Today’s fixtures will, no doubt, alter the balance of this fledgling ladder but, as it stands, there can be no complaints. Two games. Four points. None conceded. Champions League spot occupied. Don’t @ me. The stats don’t lie. As Shakira almost once sang.

Full Time. Thomas takes the applause and praises the fans

Where to start? Support levels were stonking. From both teams. Brentford loud, louder and ending it loudest. Palace, with a frenzied welcome of flag waving that transformed into huge vocals which the silent Arsenal visitors we had last week could only dream of.

All this, before resorting to that most heinous of football crimes. A drum. Oh for crying out loud, a f*&king drum. Still, as one observer put things, it was the only thing they could beat.

A drum. Pass the bucket

On pitch, Palace started at 100mph. The team looking to make up for lost time after last weekend and almost getting off the mark within minutes – only the frame of the goal keeping David Raya’s sheets clean when, by all rights, they should have been left aswell and truly blemished from close in. Conor Gallagher the man coming close but, in truth, it was the best opportunity they had and symptomatic of their game. No cutting edge when fast paced attack reached the final third. Benteke also with a good chance whilst Sergi played  Wilfried Zaha like a second hand fiddle.  The Ivorian resorting to a second half hissy fit that left him well and truly rattled. He wasn’t alone though. 

See also:  the chap in the supermarket end sporting the turtle neck jumper, blazer and slacks. He looked like the murderer in an episode of Midsomer Murders. It was the librarian wot did it. Or, perhaps, the classic Hollywood ‘late 80s’ English criminal. A poor man’s Hans Gruber who seemed somewhat perturbed by the fact that the Brentford fans were making noise. It all ended with him being invited to leave early into the second half before an eventual, calmer, return.  

Ahh, McClane…

As for Brentford, Bryan Mbeumo came closest. Hitting the Crystal Palace bar from a first half free kick whilst Ivan Toney and Frank Onyeka also had chances. Good chances. Sergi and Bryan linking up wonderfully down the right all game. Frank the Tank bossing midfield. Ajer travelling out of defence with all the comfort of a man who the ball tied ti his foot. Rock solid along side Ethan and Pontus when called upon. And when they were beaten, David Raya was there. If he’d been a virtual passenger against Arsenal, this time round he was well and truly needed. A fingertip save from James McArthur the other real moment of danger from the home side but our man was equal to it.

In the end though, we’ve left feeling almost disappointed. It was a game Brentford could have won. Perhaps should have. Yet credit to our opponents. The pace at this level is relentless. Lightning fast. Reflexes need to be that bit quicker and the fact we are, to date, holding our own is nothing to be sniffed at. This team has been prepared to compete over the last few seasons ans now we are here. Now we are doing it. So far. 

Special note for referee Martin Atkinson. It was as hard fought and physical a game as we’ve had in a while. Challenges flying in and he did everything possible to let the game flow. Even to the detriment of the players with the trainers coming onto the field a number of times. This was something Jurgen Klopp would talk about after Liverpool beat Burnley at lunchtime, saying that “it’s like we’re going 10 to 15 years backwards.” with officials now encouraged not to penalise ‘trivial’ things in order to let games flow. 

I’m all for an open game but there were a number of decisions and fouls, for both teams, where the decision making process seemed to be one where the ref simply chose not to see. Balance needs to be struck. Nobody wants the stop-start cardathons of Keith Stroud on a bad day, but there is also a level of physicality which if let unchecked will end up seeing somebody hurt. Perhaps its as much frustration after seeing a number of calls that, obviously, should have gone our way either not given or awarded to the hosts. At least we’ve not had VAR getting in the way. Yet. Time will tell how things play out on those fronts. 

Next up in the league for Brentford, a trip to Aston Villa. A chance to reunite with Dean Smith, Ezri Konsa and perhaps Ollie Watkins. We’ve sold 2,400 for that one. So far. If it was noisy at the Palace, there’s sure to be a party in the Park. Confidence is high and excitement levels even higher. Perhaps we might even make it out of ‘last spot’ in the Match of the Day running order. With Manchester City kicking off before us and playing Arsenal, we’ll need to win to retain our place ahead of them. Hey, one can fantasise. Only 36 games to go….. 

Until then, we’ve a chance to reflect on just how good it was being able to travel. Going on the road once more. Being part of the massed ranks of travelling fans. A moment that has, for so long, felt a million miles away from being possible. A chance to travel with friend and family. To see familiar faces and jumpers. Yet it has happened . And it was amazing. H getting into the atmosphere like a duck to water.

Now bring on the Villa so we can do it all again.

Nick Bruzon

A wonderful weekend gets even better as Friday fallout continues.

15 Aug

You don’t want to get into The Champions League, Brentford. Frank Out. Sack the board. Where’s the money, Benham? Thursday nights, Channel Five. Sadly, the Bees no longer sit at the top of the Premier League after Manchester United went on the rampage at Old Trafford yesterday lunchtime. Leeds United shipping five in a game that, as much as anything else, was a Fantasy Football nightmare with yours truly the only one in our house who hadn’t made three goal Bruno Fernandes their team captain. Hefty wins for Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton also seeing us overtaken and having, for now, to be content with fifth place in the table. It was a set of results that even saw Arsenal nudge clear of the relegation zone. For now. Their own next couple of fixtures are what one could politely call ‘challenging’.

Sunday morning. The head still spinning although this from impromptu Saturday afternoon barbecues rather than still celebrating Brentford beating Arsenal. Even though we were doing that too. The shopping trip that had to be undertaken prior to that one punctuated by shrewd acquisitions. The Times – packed full of top, top quality Brentford content – and the much anticipated long player from The Helicopter Of The hill Ghost. BBC Billy Reeves and Mark Morris from The Bluetones, amongst others, combing to produce this critically acclaimed slab of vinyl.

For once, even shopping was fun…

It was whilst mooching around Eel Pie Records in search of the aforementioned record that the Whataspp group swung into action. “Well that was fun while it lasted”. Sure enough, a quick check on the BBC and Manchester United were running riot. The Fernandes inspired goal difference swing seeing the Red Devils leapfrog the Bees in the nascent table and cause much amusement from H and Mrs. B. Oh well. That’s why I’m the numpty on the terrace and they’re going to leave me rooted to the bottom of the table once more. Much like Arsenal on Friday night. Not even pointing out the Brentford appropriate chemists on the high street enough to cause sufficient distraction.

Wasn’t he on the bench, Friday night?

Nooo. We’re third in the league.” Not my words, those of Harry as Mo Salah made it three for Liverpool in the Match Of The Day rerun. Cripes, if he’s upset now it could be trouble when Manchester City play this afternoon. Still, at least we’re sitting in the Europa League slots and the trip to Crystal Palace presents the next opportunity to reclaim top spot in the Premier League. The Eagles taking a tonking from Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. About the only positive they could take was the 1980’s Meyba branded Barcelona kit they have chosen to emulate for their change colours. A thing of beauty and perhaps some consolation for being unable to resist the goal hungry Blues? Probably not but things could be worse. Just look at Arsenal.

Sergi Canos and the rest of the Brentford team have been responsible for diplomatic incident, upsetting none less than the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who took to Twitter following our 2-0 victory. 

What?? It’s football,it’s a loss of Arsenal at/to Brentford. Brentford deserved to win and they did. The game itself aside Arsenal and the fans don’t deserve to kind of get used to this….NO !!! I say this as one of the big fans of Arsenal. The change has taken to long to come!

He continued in this vein, closing with a flourish that saw The President channelling his inner Piers Morgan:

We just must NOT excuse or Accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win win win. So that when we lose….it was not to be expected! I am sure we all know on whose shoulders the heaviest burden rests. I hope they know too or even accept it!!! End.

The next Ambassadorial reception could be fun. Still, even Paul and Piers combined haven’t managed to match the levels of sour grapes from this visiting supporter. It could be a best ever ‘Teams like Brentford.’

Where to even start? Beyond crying with laughter. My favourite line, of many many wonderful cuts, being:

I imagine they will hope to draw in a new fan base from the thousands of new build flats rising in and around the area. A bunch of key workers who fancy a day out. They will probably try and take Fulham’s tag of being “London’s friendly club” and have “neutral end” for most games. Please, DO go take a look.

As for Brentford,  the other highlight was our debut on Match Of The Day. One watched this morning and what a way to clear the head. “Listen to the noise” said Jonathan Pearce as Sergi celebrated the goal. You could hear that one all the way from West London to Rwanda. The decibel levels rising every time the Bees broke forward. A touching nod to Rob Rowan and that wonderful moment of Bukayo Saka being applauded on the pitch from all four sides of the ground. 2-0 Brentford and then almost three as balls into the box continued to cause mayhem. A wonderful shot of Ian Wright looking somewhat glum and then that was it. Sergi and Thomas bigging up the fans and the team. 

Brentford. They absolutely battered Arsenal”. Alan Shearer leading the praise and continuing to big us up. I could get used to this.    

Until then, time to get that LP on. Fingers crossed Billy has peformed his expected magic…

Nick Bruzon

From Tinky Winky to top of the Prem. What a journey.

14 Aug

Get the heck in and when you are done, get in some more. That was just magnificent. Immense. Amazing. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how incredible it felt as Brentford beat Arsenal 2-0 on Friday night. As Sergi Canos scored our first goal at this level. As Brentford went top of the Premier League. Top. Of. The. Premier. League. Don’t @ me. The table doesn’t lie.  The Bees flying high at the top. The Gunners rooted to the bottom. Champions Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and the rest of the chasing pack now left having to play catch up. This self-proclaimed bus stop in Hounslow now having half an eye on their crown already. Whether we can retain these lofty heights remains to be seen but that’s a conversation for another day. For now, we’re waking up with sore heads and even sorer throats. The noise in the Community Stadium so loud as to be positively deafening. The smiles on the  faces before, during and after nothing but beaming. Enough about Thomas Frank though.

Thomas. No words needed.

We got to the ground almost an hour before kick off. As much to do with wanting to be part of the build up as, being honest, not quite trusting the new fangled ticketing system to work. Oh me of little faith. It was seamless although a good thing we did arrive early. The crowds outside were huge ; the atmosphere building. Lionel Road everything it had promised to be in pre-season and now, finally full for the first time, it was just the most fantastic arena. Peter Gilham giving it his all on the microphone. Stu Wakeford his partner in p.a. crime barely able to contain the excitement. So this is what it’s like with a sound system you can actually hear? Except, of course, we couldn’t. The noise was through the roof. If it had felt loud for Bournemouth this was off the scale. Reports coming in from back home suggesting that the interviews couldn’t be heard above the crowd. Sergi Canos unable to hear the questions by the moment full time came around.

As for the game? Wow. Just wow. Much like our last competitive match, the play-off final, the opening exchanges were cautious. Brentford taking a few minutes to find feet. To absorb what little attacking intent could be mustered. Yet Arsenal, missing Aubameyang and (as Prince almost once sang) the prolific Lacazette, had little to offer up front. Both reported as ‘sick’. Presumably like the dog that had just eaten the homework

Slick passing and breakaway speed are all well and good but if you can’t do anything with it then what’s the point? Toothless. Impotent. A spent force. But enough about Piers Morgan, whose griping from Twitter was a quite beautiful sideshow. It wasn’t until the 85th minute that I recall David Raya having anything meaningful to do. A quite magnificent save from the Gunners’ one danger source, Emile Smith Rowe, which he had no real right to get even half-way close to. Yet when called upon, there he was. Up until then the most he’d had to do was make himself a delicious Löfbergs coffee. Mmmm, Löfbergs. Apparently. 

With Brentford settling into the game, the chances started to come. Bryan Mbeumo having the best of the early opportunities with a run and shot on the angle that was only kept out by the woodwork. With threat building, it was the unofficial king in our house, Sergi Canos, who opened proceedings. Oh, Sergi Canos. You absolute beauty. Little over twenty minutes on the clock and the roof came off the Community Stadium. Bernard Lemon in goal for Arsenal close but no cigar as our beautiful number 7(seven) slammed one past him to send the place nuts.

No? No? Yessssssss!!!!! Not even a hint of VAR referral. Straight in and straight back for kick off. I’m still grinning like a lunatic now thinking about that moment. Top of the blinkin’ league. A goal up in our first Premier League fixture. Playing Arsenal off the park. Stroking it about like pros. Just having a blast. Mbeumo back to his best. Ethan Pinnock colossal when needed. Vitaly Janelt pulling the strings.

My good friend (with apologies for going all Ian Moose) Annette summing it all up quite beautifully on Twitter:

I remember when Sergi Canos posted a r.i.p tribute to the Tinky Winky teletubby when the actor died, and now here he is scoring our first Premier League goal. What a journey.

The Bees’ threat continued to build but failed to turn into a second goal. The doubts, perhaps, starting to build that we might come undone. It’s Brentford innit? Except it isn’t. Not any more. Wembley should have taught us that and what a feeling when Christian Nørgaard popped up to do his thing on 73. Powering through a crowded defence to head home a trademark long throw from the newly abbreviated Mads Bech.  If the place had gone berzerk for Sergi’s opener, this was next level.

Not only another goal but now with the safety buffer of going two clear and little more than a quarter hour left on the clock. F me. The ears are still ringing even now. Lionel Road erupted.  £50m Ben White left floundering as the Danish midfielder doubled the lead.  Surely not even Brentford could blow it from here? Surely…?

Not these days….

It was never in doubt. The one real scare coming with the aforementioned save from Raya. Had it gone in then who knows what would have happened to our nerves. But it didn’t. The ‘keeper showing just why Arsenal had coveted him so openly last season. Their loss, on and off the pitch, very much our gain. The five minutes of time added on passing in a blur and then.. the moment !!!

Full time. One final orgasmic eruption of noise to greet Michael Oliver calling an end to proceedings. Arms held aloft, voices raised and flags waved. Hey Jude sung led and proud. A moment we’d dreamed of now turning into reality. Those Arsenal fans who hadn’t already slunk off, left to trudge out in brutal despair. Their side propping up the rest of the league. Brentford sitting at the top of the pile.  

With full time came a lap of appreciation, as we’d become so used to at Griffin Park. Thomas Frank and the players enjoying the moment with the fans. Woody, in particular, coming in for the mother of all celebrations from our head coach. My word, that grin, You could see what it all meant to Thomas. To both of them. To all of us. 

And to the players aswell. Christian leading the charge to the supporters, one amazing boy in particular, with the rest following.

I want to be humble right now. To stay grounded. Let the Arsenal fans pick over their own performance. Brentford were just incredible last night. Nobody can deny that. The Premier League shaken up. For sure we’ll take beating at some point but you can only play who you are up against and what a way to do it.

For now, we are up and running. For now , we are top of the Premier League. Whether that is still the case at the end of the weekend remains to be seen. Manchester City aren’t going to just hand over their title and their top dog status. Quite frankly, I don’t care. This is all about the moment and they don’t come much better. 

Now bring on Crystal Palace. See you there! 

Nick Bruzon

From Blue Peter to Mr Tumble. Club legend does it again.

3 Aug

Another Premier League first for Brentford. The build up to next Friday continued with the team shooting those ‘green screen’ goal celebration videos which, all being well, we’ll get to see over the forthcoming season. Whilst our more longstanding divisional stable mates – the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool etc etc – are well versed in all of this, for Brentford it was a first. And there were predictable results. Of the most wonderful kind.

Peter Gilham. Mr Brentford. Football’s longest serving man-with-the-mic. A man clear even of George Sephton at Liverpool in his time reading out the teams, announcing the substitutes and reminding us that “Every goal scored is sponsored by Siracusa. It’s a little Italian restaurant… at Brentford Lock” amongst his other many, many duties. We all know Peter. We all love Peter. He is the modest, under-assuming face of our club. As big a fan as anybody in the stands and living the dream. Only a place in the squad remains for him to have then completed the list of having performed just about every job done at Griffin Park and, now, Lionel Road.

Peter doing his thing on match day

His moments are legion. The dangerously stimulating pronunciation of Maxiime Collll-in. Maybe the explosions that were goal celebrations for the likes of “Owusuuuuuuu!” or “Triple B. Big Ben Burrrgeessssssss”. 

Hello. And welcome to Brentford club call” being one of my favourites from days gone by. The pre-internet chance to run up a 33p a minute phone bill on 0898 121108 whilst waiting to find out which Premier League star we’d signed. 180 seconds later…Welcome back, Bob Booker! That’s a pound my parents will never see again.

Who could forget the 3-0 v Fulham a few season back when Peter once more got caught up in the moment of fan masquerading as p.a. announcer and lost it. In the best possible sense.  “The scorer of Brentford’s third goal…Yoannnn Barbettttt !!!…. I think,” and then after the briefest of what seem to be trademark pauses, “No.It was Scott Hogan. But who cares?!!!

Yet for me, if you wanted to capture Peter’s style and charm in a single moment it was during a pre-season friendly against Celta Vigo. At one point he was forced to reel off a good half dozen, at least, simultaneous substitutions for the visitors. Manfully, he struggled through before concluding in his customary dry style, “And if that’s wrong, don’t blame me.”

Peter includes ‘Minder’ in his many duties

As with all of us, modern life can present challenges. The warning signs were there the time Peter was obliged to promote the club’s social media channels. Live on pitch he encouraged us to use, “Snapchat”. Then paused for a moment before adding, “Whatever that is.

Then, last season, he was pranked. Royally. In scenes akin to Bart Simpson ringing Moe’s Tavern in TV’s The Simpsons, he didn’t miss a beat in reading out a birthday announcement to Mike Oxlong from his friends Sal Army and Hugh J… well, the video is below:

There wasn’t even any suggestion that such a legend should be shown some respect. Frankly, it was just too funny. Fifty years at the helm yet still suckered in by the oldest trick in the p.a. book.  It was a moment that made National Radio on the Dave Berry breakfast show. Over 2million Absolute Radio listeners waking up to the sound of Peter saying Mike Oxlong. More importantly, it gave us all a huge laugh at a time when Corona was ruining everything for everyone.

Then, yesterday, it happened again. Not so much falling for a trick as falling over himself. It says it all about Peter that the club chose to include him in the goal celebration videos being shot. Shows just what a key part of the team and the squad he is. 

In front of the green screen, whilst living the dream, it happened. In Brentford style.

I can’t watch this enough. Who doesn’t love a bit of falling over. And for it to be Peter. Magnificent. The spirit in the club truly alive and kicking, given Ivan’s reaction. It’s now up there up with the time that Mr Tumble signed for Manchester City in my favourite non-footballers doing football things moments. See also : Stallone and Caine turning out for the Allies XI in Escape To Victory or Bryan Robson and his Thunderbirds level cameo on Jossy’s Giants. Come for the ‘acting’. Stay for the jumper.

Bravo Peter. Bravo. Now, it’s just a place in the Premier League and you’ll have done it all. If it’s good enough for Tumble then….

Tumble’s stint at the Ethiad was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it”

Nick Bruzon

Sheer bliss with fixture list ‘reveal’. And who is Thomas shopping for?

17 Jun

Brentford v Arsenal. Norwich City v Liverpool. Manchester City v Spurs. That concludes the draw for the third round of the FA Cup. Except, of course, it doesn’t. That actually concludes the headlines from the opening round of Premier League fixtures. Games to be played at 3pm on Saturday 14th August, subject to television coverage. It is about as perfect an opening game as the Bees could have asked for. A home start. The chairman’s boyhood club. A chance to hit the ground running before away trips to Crystal Palace and then Aston Villa. Oh, Dean Smith. The ‘deserved to win’ derby is back and I can’t wait for it. Can’t wait for any of it.

At an (ambassadorial ?) dinner with friends last night, the excitement was palpable. The hope of being able to play in front of a full house following the additional month’s extension of Corona restrictions from June 21st an obvious topic of conversation. Those of us lucky enough to attend the play-off semi against Bournemouth where 4,200 ripped the roof off Lionel Road know just what a huge difference having fans present makes. Of course, we need no reminder of that but at the same time, the effect it had on the Cherries was beyond anything I had seen before.

A team visibly crumbling in front of us. The self-destruct button hit as Brentford played them off the park on it and destroyed their mindset off it. Sell the place out and Arsenal won’t know what to expect for that first game. From their own library  (pre/during corona) to a cauldron of noise. It’ll be immense. And that’s just game one.

What an afternoon that was at Lionel Road

We’ve all got the ones we are looking forward to. Seeing the likes of Manchester City and Spurs on our fixture card still takes some belief. As much because of the huge journey taken to get here. But, we have done it. We are there. We are going to be playing shoulder to shoulder as league rivals rather than ad-hoc cup opponents. The BBC have updated their graphic. Newsnow have shifted us into their ‘Premier League’ category. Our transfer from the Championship is completed. Believe it. It’s happening. Enjoy the build up but bring on the real thing.

Manchester City will now be league rivals rather than ad-hoc cup opponents. Sheer Bliss For Brentford in 1989

Thomas Frank spoke to Sky Sports Premier League yesterday. You can see that one below. Even he acknowledging that it has finally sunk in. His own thoughts on the Arsenal game being that, “To be honest, I don’t really care who we are facing in the first game… if there was one wish then it was that the first game was at home”. There was plenty more said in between so do take a look. If only for the transfer exclusive…

Like the rest of us, Thomas is hoping for a full house at Lionel Road. With Wimbledon tennis finals and business end of the Euros seeing more and more able to attend, one has to remain optimistic. No pressure, Boris. Johnson. Not Becker. I darnel even think of the meltdown should supporters not be able to attend. Whether we’ll be able to travel en-masse fo r ‘away’ games another consideration but, for now, everybody is going to be sweating on that July update. 

That’s for then. This is now. A moment to start memorising dates. Planning the Christmas schedule. Looking forward to another season. The difference being that this time, rather than finishing the campaign against Portsmouth and Doncaster (something something something penalty) it’ll be games with Southampton and Leeds United. This fixture card I found at he back of the draw during the week really emphasising the progress made over the last ten years. Now, to see where we go from here. 

I can’t wait. See you there  

That was then

Nick Bruzon

Half man. Half Robot. All Burridge.

15 Jun

Another date with the reality of our situation is coming. Fast. As Brentford fans continue to bask in the excitement of our play-off win, Wednesday sees the Premier League fixture list released. The moment we discover when The Bees will entertain and (hopefully) visit the famous names we’ve only seen in sticker books, on Match of the Day, the odd cup tie or perhaps their own ad-hoc visits to the lower leagues. Leeds United, Wolves, Manchester City, Everton, Liverpool. The list is a long one and is laden with anticipation. As was noted in the previous column, there’s not one opponent who doesn’t provide an added element of intrigue.

Yet before we get there, its time for another book back at last season from another of our special guest columnists. This time, the man that has seen it all. The man who has described most of it to us. Brentford’s commentator par-excellence and the king of I-follow, Mark Burridge. We caught up this week for a chat about all things from play-offs and Premier League to commentary and covid. Mark talks through his highlights on the pitch, his players of the season and the ethos coursing through the club – on and off the pitch.  Enjoy…..

As for today’s headline, we WILL get there…..

Mark and team at Wembley

Mark, let’s start at the end. 29th May at Wembley. For those in the stands it was the culmination of a life’s dream. Can you put it into words, both as a fan and a commentator.

How did you keep your cool? Did you? Any tears shed?

It was ultimate professional performance from players and staff, started fast, a brilliant counter attacking second goal and then they just comfortably managed the game. Swansea had only scored 3 goals twice all season, so I was convinced it was our day early in the match. There was no way back for Steve Cooper’s team. Every player was 7/8 out of 10 and when that happens with Brentford the opposition are in for a long day.

Being relaxed early on made it all more enjoyable, the fans clearly felt that way too, so many smiling faces on display at half time. It was a strange feeling at the end, nothing dramatic from me as the result had been clear for some time, particularly after the red card.

I felt intense relief, pride, a sense of justice and simply enjoyed the celebrations around me. The tears, hugs, generations of families together, a truly special moment that you knew had to be enjoyed. Stuart Wakeford came to embrace Marcus Gayle and like many fans, the final whistle was the signal for raw emotion and Stuart had found it overpowering. There was such a genuine warmth.

Marcus and Stu embrace

That very same togetherness was everywhere within our eyesight. Some fans had sunk to their knees, others waving flags, shirts, hats. It was our day, at last. The football gods, had called time on play off & cup final pain for Bees fans, at least for now. The infamous Doncaster penalty, the most cruel and numbing of last minute dramas, well if this now was the pay off we’ll shake hands and call a truce!

Knowing that we were finally going to leave Wembley as winners and had experienced just what reward the play offs could be, was very new to Bees supporters.. Martin Lange was smiling down on us.

We were going to carry on with broadcasting until after the trophy presentation, so it was just a time to treasure. Then I looked at my phone and saw a ridiculous number of Whatsapp messages…

After clicking on the first few, it was a still of my Dad in the stands which I knew might happen if we were victorious, as Sky wanted to feature some of the elder fans who were inside Wembley and had been watching Brentford the last time we were in the top flight (which has now gone viral much to Dad’s bemusement).

That really was an emotional moment and I started to think of our dear friend Greville, of Dan & Jamie Powell, how much this would mean to them after such a difficult time in the respective lives. They are here at Wembley, somewhere, loving this and drinking it in.

It was a beautiful emotion right then that I couldn’t put into words.

I just felt incredible gratitude that this moment could be shared by so many & mean so much to so many fans all around the world. Dry eyes suddenly became a little tearful, I’d never enjoyed a moment so much watching others and trying to describe what was taking place in front of our eyes. 

Being with Marcus Gayle & Ben Burgess and hearing their emotion and their thoughts on what this will do for the Club and community was another reminder of why ex pros have such an affinity Brentford Football Club. Contrasting backgrounds with Ben on loan for just one season (2001/2) but has always kept in touch with BFC, writes such good articles in the match day programme and does a sterling job on commentary when he joins us for games in his native north west.

Marcus is the fan who became a Bees professional footballer, Premiership player, World Cup international and then a role model through his work with Kick it Out. The man who had bought a season ticket and was enjoying the games as a fan again until we bumped into each other in a local food shop in 2016 and we had a conversation about joining us on match day commentary.

As everyone knows Marcus is now our proud Club Ambassador. Having seen him make his debut for Brentford many years ago, then to share this victory with both he and Ben, with my Dad in the stadium as well, it simply does not get any better than this. What a magical end to a long season.

You and the team have provided an absolute lifeline this season, With the gates to Lionel Road locked you’ve kept us going with the usual passionate commentary. To us, that side of things felt ‘normal’ but what was it like commentating in what was effectively an empty room? How do you maintain the enthusiasm?

I’ve heard others say working at stadia was joyless and soulless and can certainly understand why that would be said but everyone working at a match would no doubt have realised they were in a very privileged position. Travelling to and from games alone (EFL guidance) was something different and it was often a case of arrive, set up equipment and leave as soon as possible. It was all very well organised but quite surreal compared a usual match day

The games generally lacked the intensity & energy you would enjoy with crowds, which was to be expected. The players may well be professionals but they are human beings first and foremost, so it was tough for them, particularly with the condensed season. It was very difficult without crowds but we got use to it early on and had experience of this at the end of last season. The fans are the energy of football. They are to players, others fans and certainly commentators too!.

I had encountered some of the top names commentating on radio a few times without background noise and it was a hard listen. At Lionel Rd the gantry vantage point is simply incredible (a MUST see when tours are available) but we were the only ones up there broadcasting unless it was a SKY game, with the press level pitch side there’s so little you would hear in the way background noise, as we were are quite detached. 

One of the SKY commentators said he would find it very difficult without the fake noise they would have piped in their ears during the game. It certainly must have helped somewhat.

Fortunately I was lucky to be around people with a great knowledge of the game, all things Brentford and who were passionate, yet measured.

It wasn’t until the Bournemouth away leg in the play off semi final that it probably dawned on Marcus Gayle & I just how different football felt again. This totally changed again for the play off home leg. The volume was simply remarkable. Off  the scale. With just 4,000! This bodes well for next season!

iFollow raised about £42m for EFL Clubs. Were you aware just how important the service was to fellow fans. Did you feel it was important to stay as positive as you did?

There was hope that fans would be back after a few months, at least in reasonable numbers. So we had a numbers of ex players booked to join us who would be experiencing Lionel Rd for the first time and would be introduced to the fans inside the stadium before the match. Covid saw so many changes throughout the season, mirroring the case levels so it was effectively an ever changing feast. Some ex-players had to be cancelled and dignitary numbers were often being lowered from an already miniscule number.

Contrary to what was said after one game we certainly did not have 200 fans in the ground!!

Considering supporters had missed out on what should have been a packed house for the very last game at Griffin Park and then not had the chance to be at the first game at the new stadium it is fair to say that Bees fans had every right to feel very disappointed and frustrated. Allowing the options to freeze ST’s and offering iFollow free for so many games, along with the GP Tours are all examples of the Club being in tune with supporters. The input from the various fan groups playing a big part in the right decisions being made.

iFollow suddenly had a much larger audience and with it quite a few adverts! We never knew when they were coming on! Plus half time discussions were cut short because of the same. The cost to watch the games appeared to be good value and did allow fans to stay in touch with the season, even if it’s nothing like being at the game. 

Some supporters freely admitted they enjoyed it more as it allowed the opportunity to see all games when they might previously have only attend a handful during a usual season.

Covering both audio & visual commentary at the same time was also something that required tolerance from fans, as it is not perfect plus there appeared to be the occasional technical issue.

Overall though, iFollow worked well during a very testing time for everyone.

These past 16 months have tested the mental health of everyone and football has been so important for us all to feel connected to ‘normality’ so we were very aware that Brentford’s success might have mean more to people than ever before. Match day routines changed for everyone. No drink with your mates before, maybe now it was sit around the laptop, or the whole family around the TV.

We were positive because I know everyone involved on commentary regularly felt this team would get promotion from quite a long way out. When the squad was struggling for rhythm and consistency I don’t feel it is unfair to say so. Following the draw at Wycombe we did say as much.

We knew fans were getting frustrated. It was fast approaching winter, with much fear & uncertainty away from football itself and message platforms were the only outlet to vent an opinion.

At most games supporters will use up emotional energy at the game but last season was so very different and you probably saw the best and worst of social media. We couldn’t cover the ‘Boro away game due to Covid issues and the local BBC team did a great job. Once Brentford took control they were full of praise for our Club. Unfortunately there was criticism on a phone in by several home fans post match who, rightly or wrongly, felt the commentators were too generous to the opposition.

We have always intended, as is very the Brentford way, to be respectful to the opposition but it is a Bees service so you are representing the fans. Often away fans will connect to the opposition service, presumably just to hear what is said about their team. After the Leeds game last season we had their fans writing on Twitter how nice it was to hear opposition commentary say they the best team we had played since Wolves, some extending this as the ‘fairest’ they had heard.

Giving an honest opinion, hopefully a fair one is all you can really do. Some will like it, others not.

We love the game because not everyone sees it the same way.

What was a real tonic throughout the season is getting some lovely messages from fans, something for which we are very grateful.

What do you think was our performance of the season?

There were some key ones for me.

The 3 points at Barnsley came in the middle of monthly wins in South Yorkshire and got our season going. Some robustness was starting to become clear.

We were excellent for a long time at Watford, showed great character to get a point in the end and the Bournemouth league win at home was probably the best of the season at Lionel Rd

The formation change at Preston was much needed at a difficult time, the 5-0 win against a normally solid side was flawless.

The Cherries feature heavily for me in the whole season, the win at The Vitality Stadium at the end of the season was another important 3 points. 

Jonathan Woodgate’s team were on a great run at the time with 7 (errr brackets) straight wins, scoring for fun and clearly believing they had timed it right, to entering the upcoming play offs with an air of invincibility. Brentford winning, with 10 men for nearly 50 mins, dealt a blow to Bournemouth from which they never truly recovered.

In the end there can though only be one game that had absolutely everything.

Football is about excitement and drama, none of which you truly experience without fans. We all wish there were more supporters in The Brentford Community Stadium, on 22nd May but in this wretched season 4,000 was a huge bonus. 

It was the day Lionel Road finally became our new home, rather fitting in a week that saw bulldozers doing their worst at the wonderful Griffin Park.

So much has been written about that play off win but there wasn’t a hint of panic when Bournemouth went 2-0 up in the tie, in rather strange circumstances. Brentford still believed, Thomas Frank believed. Lionel Rd still believed. Our fans believed. Bournemouth did not.

So it proved, as we witnessed a catastrophic decision making meltdown by the opposition whilst under pressure from a rampant Brentford team that refused to give up. After Chris Mepham’s red card there was an air of inevitability about the outcome, yet it remained wonderfully tense at the same time.

Forss strikes late and Lionel Road erupted.

Begovic goes up for a corner in time added on and we notice the M4 Elevated Section is at gridlock both ways. ’Everyone wants a piece of this game’ we said, as it did feel the whole world would have been engaged in this thriller.

The scenes at the end will never fade either.

It was a reminder just why you love football and  simply worship Brentford Football Club.

There can be only one for Mark

Ivan Toney is, understandably, in line for our player of the season. You’ve seen a lot of Brentford teams over the years, is he our best ever? And who else do you think deserves to make up the ‘top three’ at the end of season awards

Without doubt Ivan Toney is the best for me. Not just for his goals. Barry Fry said he was also Peterborough’s best defender and we’ve all seen why. The amount of times we have seen our striker heading away from an opposition set piece. ‘I get back and defend because I want to help the team, I want to win’ he said at Wembley.

That’s what we had witnessed all season. He was a little rusty at the start of the campaign but once up to speed you could see Ivan’s quality.

It was at Sheffield Wednesday in October that he showed us what an incredible touch he possesses, linking up play with the cutest of touches and headers to feet. That’s when I thought there wasn’t much missing from his game. He scores, he’s brave, he has the skills of a midfielder, he defends, he leads. Can play out wide too, just see the quality of his cross for Ghoddos’ goal in the win against Luton!

Ivan was substituted late against Rotherham in the away game, allowing Aaron Pressley to make his debut. Before leaving the pitch he urged all his players to stay focussed for the last few minutes to see out the win, one of the little things you notice at a game that make you realise what a special team player he is too.

One of the greatest leaders in a red & white shirt we have ever seen. Pure winner.

My second choice would be Vitaly Janelt. Half man, half robot. A signing I thought likely to be ‘one for the future’, like many no doubt. Following the injury to Christian Norgaard the timing of his introduction was perfect. A solid debut up at Hillsborough, then impressive in the win at Oakwell, followed up with scoring his first Brentford goal against QPR.

Then he just kept getting better.

At Cardiff he got scythed down twice but just got up and on with it. A man made of steel.

He scores big goals as well – none more than against Bournemouth in the play off second leg.

Editors note: There have been more than a few from Vitaly – although not all commentated on by Mark…. 😉

Third choice has to go to Sergi Canos.

The way he has come back after a tough start to the season and following a bad injury has been remarkable. Nothing but admiration for him and the flexibility to play wing back so effectively was vital in helping gain promotion. 9 goals for the season, including a hat trick at Cardiff, he has been a bright spark for us on & off the pitch.

Love his ‘We want more’ tweets after each win. Still only 24. Hard to believe.

Sergi got 3 out of 3 against Cardiff City

Over the years you’ve been alongside the likes of Greville Waterman, Luis Melville, Geoff Buckingham, and co, what do you think the current team bring to the commentary?

Diversity, knowledge, pragmatism, humility and a big understanding of all things Brentford, both past and present.

They have all been excellent plus Karleigh Osborne & Charlie MacDonald fantastic new additions.

We always say to ex players ‘just come in when you like, at any time, fans want to hear your views more’. Their opinions are vital to make it work on a match day.

Where do you thing Brentford will finish in the Premier League next season?

I’ll go for 15th in our first season in The Premier League. Bees will take some big scalps and also possibly have a few uncomfortable scoreline.

Lionel Rd will be an important advantage when near or at full capacity. The crowd can play a very big part, as always. It will be fascinating to see how new signings blend in, alongside the players we all believe will prove their quality at the top level.

One thing is for sure, Brentford will have no intention of being tourists.

Finally, just how special do you feel last season has been for everyone connected with Brentford Football Club?

It has been a truly remarkable achievement to gain promotion this past season.

The team had the shortest of breaks last summer before the new campaign got underway and had also lost two huge players in Watkins and Benrahma.

There was a somewhat inevitable hangover from last season and the squad were at a new stadium where there was little advantage as fans had never been experienced – it was never going to feel like ‘home’ under these circumstances. After the last game it most certainly will do!

We lost the fewest amount of games (joint with Norwich), were top scorers again, and went of an unbeaten run of 21 games, then ending with another one of 12. Considering the gruelling schedule, this says all about the quality & character of the players and management but also speaks volumes about some of those not in the spotlight, such as Neil Greig, head of medical, plus Chris Domoney (aka ‘Sladey’) who looks after the aching limbs and muscles so well, whilst his effervescent personality can be infectious for all around.

Take in the Carabao Cup run as well, where we reached the semi final (including a quick taster of VAR) then to go on to achieve the ultimate prize is unheard of at this level.

How often do you hear of knockout tournament runs derailing a promotion campaign? Not to Brentford though, who bucked the trend with a relatively small squad.

If you also factor in losing the talismanic Christian Norgaard for a big part of the season, as well as captain Pontus Jansson, then hitting the top of the table only to promptly lose two more big players in Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva, you start to realise a little bit more about the magnitude of this success, to still achieve promotion.

Off the pitch we also have our heroes. Such as Bees fans Jamie Powell & Billy Coleman, whom the Club and fans have supported through extremely difficult times.

This shows the strength and warmth of the Brentford family. We all need each other. Together we are stronger.

The fans groups, Bees United, Bias, the social media message boards. All have played their part in trying to keeping fans engaged. When automatic promotion slipped away there were many reasoned voices stating the case to stay positive, including this column, and it has been very much appreciated by many.

Jim Levack also wrote an informative article towards the end of the season after a timely conversation with a staff member following the Cardiff game.  It was a time for cool heads.

There were also so many confident fans who sparked calmer debate ahead of the season extension.  After all if you’ve supported the Bees for some time the mere thought of play offs make your head spin a little! Yet there were so many believers this time who probably helped others to keep the faith.

Next season will hopefully see crowds back and we can all enjoy football as we have been use to over the years. In The Premier League.

The Club is in good shape. Both on and off the pitch. It is run by people with understanding of others, true empathy, kindness and warmth. You will be treated as a supporter, not a customer.

Brentford is entering a new chapter, the brand is set to grow. Most of us never dreamed we would see our football club play in the top flight. Yet he we are. Awaiting the fixtures this Wednesday.

Bring on the fixtures…The Bees haven’t played Liverpool since the FA Cup in 1989

We’re third, everyone. But do Fulham have to sell theirs back…?

11 Jun

The Premier League is coming. This time next week we’ll have programmed 19 trips from Brentford into the satnav. Places as far flung as Burnley and Liverpool. Manchester and Leeds. Not Fulham, though. They’re down (and Bees up). This time next month we’ll have reprogrammed most of those trips as we find out that 3pm Saturday kick offs are an aspiration rather than a lifestyle choice. I can’t wait. Euro 2020 is upon us and it has barely registered. Instead, it still seems to be nothing but Brentford in our house. Billy and The Beesotted crew organising Wednesday night’s live podcast from the pub with none other than Phil and Rasmus. Then, Cliff Crown popped up on Twitter to share something very special. It was also confirmed we’ve said a fond farewell to three of our Wembley winners as contracts are set to expire. But first, the forthcoming Premier League season.

Wednesday night – We’re fly-ing without wings……

Who are you looking forward to seeing the most? Home or away? A tweet from the Prem’s official feed got the juices flowing once more yesterday. ‘Refreshed and ready for 2021/22’ it said. There was the league table. Gone were Sheff United, West Brom and Fulham. On their place, the Bees, Watford and Norwich City. Even better though, Brentford are already in the Champion’s League spots. We’re third, everyone…. 😉 Just 38 games to go to hold that spot.

Of all the illustrious opponents we’re due to face, everyone has one they are looking forward to the most. Some are obvious. Others less so. For me, there’s not one game with out an extra angle. An additional layer of intrigue…

Arsenal – a bit of league cup payback would be nice. A chance to see our regular starting XI from the off rather than the bench. Oh, and they have a certain David Luiz in their squad. WE haven’t forgotten ‘that’ elbow.

Aston Villa – do we need to spell it out? Dean Smith. Ezri Konsa. England international Ollie Watkins. I’d absolutely LOVE to pick up three points, even if only to hear which team actually ‘deserved to win’.

Brighton – Neal Maupay. The undisputed king of shithousery. ANY excuse to see him in action. Even if it will feel a bit weird seeing him against us. Pantomime villainy awaits.

Burnley – number 26. We took the longer route around but both of us are now in the Premier League. Villainy awaits.

Chelsea – Champions of Europe. The West London derby – sorry, Fulham (I’m not of course). Some FA Cup payback and the thought of ‘that’ elbow already add recent colour to this game.

Crystal Palace – One of several London derbies. A new ground for us. The Ron Noades (RIP) derby

Everton – who could forget Richard Lee’s heroics? TC, where are you going to be?

Leeds United – teams like Brentford shouldn’t be in the Premier League. Pontus. Maupay. My cousin’s husband. This one is pretty much top of my list.

Hi, Julian….

Leicester City – the former champions. We’ve played them twice in the FA Cup. Ryan Murrant. Oh, Ryan Murrant……

Liverpool – a chance to crack open the bingo cards and show Jurgen Klopp what he missed out on when opting for Anfield over Griffin Park…

Manchester City – the league champions. Not to mention a certain FA Cup tie. Still, up there in my favourite Brentford moments.

The quintessential Brentford FA Cup image

Manchester United – seeing the Bees walk out at Old Trafford is going to be weird. In the nicest sense.

Newcastle United – simply put, one of the best away days in the calendar.

Norwich City – Delia Smith. Carrow Road. A club with a special place in my heart after they were so generous to us when H was mascot.

Carrow Road – October 2018

Southampton another new away day for us. At least, in this league. (err…. Definitely didn’t forget about League One).

Spursa chance to see if, this season, VAR works in our favour.

Now it will be in the league

Watford – Indestructible at the back end of last season. Will be very interesting to see how we both step up this time around.

West Ham – Benrahma. Oh, Benrahma. I’m sure there may be a few half and half scarves out, too.

Wolves – we went toe to toe in those League One and early Championship seasons. They’ve now gone up a notch but I cannot wait to cross swords once more.

It’s going to be amazing. All of it. Then up popped Chairman Cliff Crown on Twitter last night with, in his words. ‘This beauty’ . And he’s right. It is beautiful. We are official.

We are official

There were several obvious questions coming off the back of it.

Did he actually have to handover £1 in exchange? Coin or PayPal?

Was it signed with a half-chewed BIC ? One can only hope the Pontus Jansson ceremonial biro has been retained for posterity.

Did Fulham have to sell their share back?

Best. Pen. Ever. We ARE Premier League !!

Whatever the answer, nobody can deny that we ARE Premier League. We may be a bus stop in Hounslow but we are as deserving of our place as our 19 divisional stable mates.

On slightly sadder, albeit totally expected, news was the official cofirmation that Henrik, Emiliano and Luke Daniels will be leaving us. Their contracts expire this month and so we say adieu. Henrik in particular had already seen the news leaked by Midtjyland (the owner really needs to have a word) earlier in the week but all three will be missed. If nothing else, Emiliano has ‘that’ goal that will be forever in our hearts…

One thing I hope doesn’t change with top flight status is the interaction between club and supporters. This has been well, well documented over the years and nowhere more was it seen than just this week when Dave, Billy Grant, not Reeves) and the Beesotted crew organised their live podcast from the pub.

Surprise special guests were none other than our Directors of Football – Rasmus Ankersen and Phil Giles. As Billy said afterwards, How many clubs – never mind PremierLeague clubs – will you have the Directors of Football come down the pub for over 3 hours & chat & joke w fans & be completely honest?
BrentfordFC of course

Indeed it was completely honest and anything goes. Even when the camera stoped rolling. Part one is now up and you’ll find it on Twitter and the Beesotted ‘Pride of West London’ podcast page.

Or, just click below

On personal note, it was great to get out and about with my fellow Bees once more. Wembley was indescribable. Bournemouth incredible. Yet they were both ‘match situations’. To sit back and discuss it all, now the news has really sunk in, was equally special.

That’s the club we have though. Please, never let it change.

Never change

Nick Bruzon