Tag Archives: Matchbook

Who fancies a night out at the theatre?

28 Jan

It’s almost February and the latest batch of match tickets are going on sale. Green cards are being obtained from Mrs. B to ensure I can see the likes of Derby County, Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday. At month end, is the big one – Wolves at home on February 23rd. It’s a fixture I’ve loved over recent seasons given our divisional rivalry with the men from Molineux. And, of course, two days later there’s Manchester United v FC Midtjylland.

What’s this got to do with me, Nick?” you may ask . Well, on paper we’ve obviously got some link with the Danish Champions. Specifically that Matthew Benham owns both teams, our chairman Cliff Crown serves as a director for FCM whilst their chairman, Rasmus Ankersen, also acts as one of our co-director’s of football.

I’m sorry to bring this up again. We should still be talking about Sammy Saunders and his goal against Leeds United. But the half time lap of honour and request for applause afforded to the Danes as we were capitulating against Walsall still feels fresh. I’m not going to overly regurgitate my thoughts on that one – they’re here if you want.

Then, yesterday, ‘official’ twitter published a link selling tickets for the Manchester United v FCM Europa League game that takes place two days after our own fixture with Wolves. Just to be clear, that’s Brentford’s ‘official’ twitter. Not Man U or Midtylland’s.

They might have also done so, to be fair. I haven’t checked – not being a supporter of either team.

Good luck to Matthew. Genuinely. He’s done incredible things for Brentford and I certainly wouldn’t wish him or his other business interests – whether Matchbook, Smartodds or FCM – any ill will. Being blunt, it is in our interests that they flourish.

But, for the millionth time, I support Brentford. I don’t give a monkey about Manchester United (the comedy element of watching them race Chelsea to see who can fail to qualify for the Champions League first). I certainly don’t follow FC Midtjylland and, can honestly say, unless our paths crossed on the pitch, I’d never go and watch them play.

Going to watch ‘neutral’ football when you are bored one evening and in the vicinity is one thing. I’ve done it before. At Old Trafford of all places when I was working in Manchester for a year and borrowed a season ticket from a London based friend. Being honest, I struggled to engage. It wasn’t my team and the atmosphere was somewhat muted – moreso for a stadium that holds over 70,000. But for the sake of a ten minute tram ride it was something to do rather than spend another night in the pub – football tourism, I guess.

Yet our own club hawking tickets for a neutral game 163 miles away seems a really odd one. Maybe people will want to go. Maybe people will want a night out at the theatre? Of ‘dreams’ ™ , that is. Maybe people will want to jump on the football tourism bandwagon – that same one we were so scathing of at Stamford Bridge when the Bees took on Chelsea three years ago in the FA Cup

I don’t. I support Brentford. I’m not going to go out of my way to watch anybody else. Let alone on a school night. Let alone that far away. Let alone two days after I’ve been cheering on my team to victory over Wolves *.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but very few Brentford fans care about FCM. At least, on the pitch. Certainly, the response to the club’s tweet suggests that is still the case.

Comments included:

“Oh dear………..”

“couldn’t care less”

“Why would #brentfordfc fans want to go to that game? I don’t get it?”

“how much are tickets for @SupermarineFC v @MarlowFC ? Much more attractive game”

Please Brentford. I’m not a (total) idiot. I know Matthew has huge interests in the Danes . I realise that. Is it too much to ask you could just stop shoving them in our face?

Nick Bruzon

* please note: Other results are possible

As Brentford go down to Walsall, FCM can FC….

9 Jan

Walsall are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup; Brentford are out. This is the simple fact after The Bees went down 1-0 in torrential conditions. Don’t let the weather disguise anything though – the Saddlers wanted it more, they deserved it more and they made Brentford look very much second best. But it was the half time shenanigans involving FC Midtjylland which still leave a bitter taste in the mouth long after the final whistle has blown.

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View from the terrace – David Button slips in the rainy conditions

Let’s be clear – I don’t know where this club would be without Matthew Benham. The amount of investment he has made in Brentford FC, along with his bold vision for a new stadium at Lionel Road, have taken us from the brink of meltdown to the brink of the Premier League.

I also know he has numerous other business interests – primarily Smartodds, Matchbook and the aforementioned Danish Champions. Frankly, I don’t care about that when I’m at Griffin Park cheering on the Bees. Good luck to him and everything but I support Brentford. I wanted to see MY team try and progress in the FA Cup today.

What I didn’t want was the most sycophantic parading of another football club, on a lap of honour, around our pitch.

What I didn’t want was to be asked to applaud them for nothing more than being fortunate enough to be drawn against Manchester United in the Europa League.

What I didn’t want was to be reminded over the P.A. system that our co-director of football, Rasmus Ankersen, splits his time between the Bees and FCM where he is their chairman.

At a time when we were being played off the park after putting in one of the most abject first half displays I can recall for some time – Swift and McEachran in particular being totally anonymous (what do Chelsea put in the water of their youth team ?) – this was a time to focus on our team in our cup competition. Not one of Matthew’s other investments.

By this logic can we expect Smartodds employee of the month to be afforded a similar privilege against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night?

With fans fearing we’ve seen the last of Toumani Diagouraga – and if ever a game was crying out for him it was this one, although I understand he was injured – what I didn’t want was an over crowded and directionless central midfield.

I bumped into Rasmus outside the pub before kick off. I did have a chat with him about the FA Cup and he came across as very pleasant. However, that doesn’t cut the mustard when we then witness what happened next – both at half-time and during the game.

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Will we be seeing the back of Toumani ?

Imagination free substitutions (Judge aside) in a game where it was apparent after the first twenty minutes that somebody with the pace and experience of Sam Saunders was exactly what was required. Instead, we had sideways pass after sideways pass and then like for like changeovers. What Macca did to be hauled off I don’t know – along with Harlee, Jack and Jake he really stood out as wanting to get involved.

The only saving grace being that at least Alan Judge showed some invention when he came on and, as importantly, cup tied himself. Yet when we did get in on the Walsall goal, their goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was on hand to pull of a couple of stonking second half saves. Full credit to that man.

The FA Cup is HUGE in this country. With a direct parachute into the third round, even allowing for a handful of changes from the regular starting XI, I’d have thought we’d have been bang up for this one and a potential tilt at breaking the Wembley hoodoo. Instead, we had to stand through a first half no-show followed by the bizarre parade.

It was a monumental slap in the face to everybody who had paid hard earned money to get into Griffin Park. And I’m sorry if that bucks the corporate line. I’m not employed by Brentford FC and I’m certainly not a supporter of FC Midtjylland. Why would I be?

I have no connection with that club beyond knowing that, amongst others, one of the men most responsible for our transfer policy has his attention split between us and them. This is not a dig at the statistical model. Indeed, it genuinely hurts to say anything negative about the club I’ve supported since 1979.

This is a dig at the fact that when we should have been focusing on the FA Cup, instead there seemed to be a genuine expectation that we’d fawn at the temple of Midtjylland.

Good luck to them in Europe. For Matthew’s sake I’d hope they do well. But on a day when I helped my son make his first ‘tin foil trophy’, I’m ending it feeling thoroughly dejected about what happened today at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon

Judge becomes chief executioner on a day of huge significance

18 Oct

On a day of sporting dominance, one result which will go largely unnoticed outside a small corner of West London could have huge longer-term significance. Brentford beating Rotherham United 2-1 may not be up there for the neutral at a time that saw Bournemouth getting tonked 5-1 at Manchester City or New Zealand wiping the floor with France in the rugby but it mattered to us. A lot. We’ll get to the rest of that shortly (especially Bournemouth, who seemed to suffer some form of self-inflicted manager-of-the-month curse) but can only begin at Griffin Park.

It was a day of huge importance on and off the field. The club rightly celebrated the life of Martin Lange with a rousing minute’s applause before kick-off whilst it was also ‘kick it out’ day.

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

Both teams and all supporters applauded for Martin Lange

‘Kick it out’ is a thoroughly noble campaign and a shame that, in this day and age, such a cause needs highlighting with a specific day. Moreso, that when it comes around, we could still do more, as a club. There were people handing out leaflets and placards in their special yellow t-shirts whilst Buzz and Buzzette wore the campaign colours prior to kick off. I’d love if our team could go one better and actually wear the logo on the shirt for this sort of game, rather than the traditional sponsor.

Brentford have done this before. Most notably when Skyex generously made way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Community Sports Trust on the silver shirt back in 2012. Perhaps it is something we might want to consider for next season, if Matchbook.com are reading?

Or, even, how about being trailblazers and doing this at another game later on this campaign? After all, the ideals of ‘kick it out’ are those that, surely, we should be aspiring to every week?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

Where Buzzette leads, could the team follow?

On pitch, we’d all absorbed the message that the season was due to ‘restart’ with the Rotherham game. And boy, what a restart.

Alan Judge opened the scoring with little over a minute on the clock. The Irishman looping a sweet volley straight back over the top of the Rotherham defence and ‘keeper Lee Camp from the edge of the penalty box. It really was a wonderful strike as Judge, my man of the match, caught the clearance first time and set up another contender for goal of the season.

In a game that, like it or not, word on the street had marked down as a relegation six pointer (although interestingly, the win sees us just 8 points away from the play offs) it was the perfect start. And then it stopped.

Lee Carsley’s boys put in plenty of effort but a new look midfield containing Sergi Canos, Ryan Woods and John Swift struggled to make further impact. Indeed, Rotherham had the better chances – in each half – and to go in leading on 45 mins was a scenario I’d have bitten your hand off for before kick off. It is only the second time all season we’ve taken the lead in a game!

It was a lead that didn’t last long. If Judge’s goal had been good, within minutes of the restart Joe Mattock hit a beauty past David Button from even further out than the opener. It was a shot that got higher and faster, leaving the Bees ‘keeper no chance as it screamed past him.

One thing Lee Carsley had promised us was fight and determination. Sure enough, we got it. United’s lead lasted barely ten minutes as that man Judge grabbed his second of the game. A bullet header (yes, you read that correctly) past Camp after getting on the end of a Jake Bidwell cross restored the lead. And that’s how things stayed until full time. Scorewise, anyway.

Having score two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third

Having scored two, Alan Judge tries to set up a third.

Being quite honest, the visitors had the better chances and the majority of possession. David Button was forced into a number of smart saves that reinforced, yet gain, the importance of both him and Judge to this team. Where we’d be without them, I dread to think, based on how things began this campaign. But, they ARE here and, more importantly, it was another win for the Bees.

The BBC stats just show how much the visitors did control affairs (shots especially) and, as one New Road observer noted afterwards, “I’d like to see Rasmus try and spin these”.

The BBC stats don't lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

The BBC stats don’t lie. Except they do. We got 2 goals to their 1

I have no doubt that had Steve Evans still been in charge of the Millers he’d have complained afterwards how they murdered us, how we’d robbed them etc. etc. etc. Instead, both Neil Redfearn and Lee Carsley were much more realistic in their appraisals of our respective teams. The Brentford man, in particular, admitting how “we started the second half poorly”.

Talking to supporters after the match, the general theme of opinion seemed to be that Alan Judge was the standout player in a game that was otherwise much akin to a League One fixture in places. The flipside being that it was a hard fought contest between two teams that haven’t had the best of starts, for a number of well documented reasons. Ultimately, the only stat that really counts is balls in the back of the net – and that’s where Brentford were strongest.

With a mid-week trip to Wolves up next, those points and a win were vital. And if nothing else, for morale. It’s just great to get back to winning ways but the big question now, of course, is whether we can do it again?

Away from Griffin Park, my highlight was at the Ethiad where Manchester City routed Bournemouth. Whilst I have nothing but respect (and even a sense of ‘if only’) for the Cherries in what they achieved last season, I can’t help but feel they brought this on themselves a touch.

There can’t be many in football who don’t know about the ‘manager of the month curse’. Pick up up this award and instantly doom your manager to losing his next game. So on Thursday, when Bournemouth started trumpeting the success of Eddie Howe and his signing a contract extension to 2020, even creating a hashtag to mark the occasion, there was only one thing that was going to happen.

Sure enough, three down in less than half an hour eventually finished up as a 5-1 humping.

Eddiesigns - no painting over that scoreline

Eddiesigns – no painting over that scoreline

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have been where the Cherries were, playing at Manchester City, instead of struggling past Rotherham. Indeed, part of me still thinks we were the ultimate architects in our eventual capitulation last season where, catching everybody cold, we ended up in a position to cause one of the biggest upsets in sporting history. Then blew it with Village-gate and, perhaps, some tactical naivety late on when the team was crying out for a bit of change

That was then, this is now and there’s no point having any regret. We had the chance, lost out, but have had a taste of our potential. Being realistic, with a quarter of the season gone I think it would be a huge ask at this juncture to repeat last season.

Then again, there are still 105 points available…..

Nick Bruzon

Sub-standard stats mask the true price of football

15 Oct

I can only imagine the Brentford media team are standing by to swing into action on Thursday morning after the Evening Standard published a bonkers report late last night, claiming it was cheaper to watch Arsenal than the Bees. In a clearly sensationalist bit of headline grabbing (presumably meant to lure people to their website, and yes – I bit) they have made this incredible statement. All of which is a shame for no other reason than it will now distract from yesterday’s genuine read – Beesotted’s summary of Matthew Benham and his presentation to the Matchbook Traders Conference.

But I need to start with the Arsenal ‘story’ where, I suppose, we should be glad that the Standard actually remembered Brentford exist with their latest story on the cost of football. The column by Tom Dutton (@TomDutty on twitter) ignores the fact that a Brentford season ticket is still cheaper than attending four ‘top category’ Arsenal games. Instead they have focused (incorrectly – and we’ll get there) on a twist of circumstances as the lead for their whole column.

Gunners fan can, theoretically, pick up a ticket for the home game with Bournemouth for £27. That being the cheapest price band for the only league game they have declared in their lowest pricing category.

I’ve taken a look at the Arsenal website this morning and it is true. Should you want to go to their Emirates stadium on a Monday night immediately after Christmas, (December 28) and sit in the bottom corner then there may well be a £27 ticket available to ‘Joe Public’.

That is, should any remain. Even the club’s home page notes that this is: “Subject to availability should any tickets remain after sales to Members”.

The Standard’s report fails to note that this membership is a cheapest price £25 whilst, incidentally, you have to pay £15 just for the privilege of getting on the waiting list for a season ticket. That said, they do also highlight the £97 category A seat for a single game and the over £1,000 cheapest season ticket price.

The Standard have never had a particular good relationship with Brentford, preferring to concentrate more on the Premier League than the clubs in London who have made up their traditional target audience. And when we have been mentioned, it is more a cheap shot at our expense for their own means – headline grabbing.

Good luck to them. It must be sad to be so desperate for readers. Moreso, and as supporter Thomas Knight had noted, given that supporters can get into Saturday’s league game against Rotherham for just £10, applying the same logic their article is already fatally holed below the waterline.

Griffin Park - watch an entire season for less than four Arsenal tickets

Griffin Park – watch an entire season for less than four Arsenal tickets

The other much more pertinent piece of Brentford related news was the aforementioned appearance by Matthew Benham. Billy Grant’s article is a fascinating one and, whilst not able to put any questions direct to our owner, does raise several interesting thoughts.

Specifically the observation on Marinus Dijkhuizen that, “They pulled in all the necessary references. But he also admitted that the club had also received one bad reference.

This reference they ignored – a fatal mistake – as they were so sure that Dijkhuizen was their man.”

Whilst the full reasons behind Marinus departure still remain muddied (anyone?), it does beg the question why such a potentially critical piece of information wasn’t investigated further?

I’m not going to steal Billy’s thunder any further. I thoroughly recommend that, if you haven’t already, then do take a look at the full article on the Beesotted website.

I’d love the chance to put these sorts of questions to Matthew. It takes a brave man to admit he’s made a mistake so fairplay for doing so. And so decisively.

It would be intriguing to find out why.

Matthew and Beesotted always make a good team

Matthew and Beesotted always make a good team

Nick Bruzon