Tag Archives: Matt Ritchie

Newcastle United share a pain that Brentford know so well as Keith does his thing once more.

6 Apr

Keith Stroud. A name to strike fear into football fans up and down the land has done it again. Of course, at Brentford we are well aware of the card happy man in black’s past form. Now Championship table toppers Newcastle United are the latest club to fall foul of his obsession with random decision making in last night’s game with Burton Albion.

Who could forget the infamous battle of Bramall Lane? Rather than a League One promotion shootout between the Bees and Sheffield United, it was another game that turned into the Stroud show. “The maddest game of football that ever existed” said Mark Burridge after that one as it finished with three red cards shown, four penalties awarded and 12 players booked (8 alone in the first half). That the Bees came out of it with a point,despite playing most of the second half with 9 men, was more down to our own character than any protection from the referee.

It was a game which, to the casual observer, would suggest one akin to the titular battle. In reality it was nowhere close to that, with the hardest fought contest being that between Stroud’s ego and the frustration of both sets of supporters.

Whilst he’s never topped that moment in Sheffield, his name is one that still brings an almost audible wince of negativity (should such a thing be possible) whenever he is announced as a referee for a forthcoming game. His card ratio alone is, season on season, higher than just about any other official to take charge at Griffin Park . The current campaign has seen him show an incredible 171 yellows and sent off 12 players during his 39 games officiated. Only Uber have more bookings than Stroud, it seems.

Then, last night happened. With Newcastle United hosting Burton Albion in a league fixture (a phrase in itself which bears more than a moment’s consideration) they were awarded a penalty. With Matt Ritchie subsequently finding the back of the net for 1-0, Stroud struck. Social media went into meltdown as , for reasons unknown, rather than declaring the goal he chalked it off and gave a free kick to Burton.

This was later revealed to be for what Mr Stroud considered encroachment into the box by Dwight Gayle. Whilst the rules of the game dictate that the spot kick should be retaken in such a circumstance, Keith’s head and the rules of the game are not things that always see eye to eye,

Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake,” said a referee’s spokesman afterwards. Hmmm. Sorry about that folks. Imagine the furore had things then turned out differently to the eventual 1-0 home win for Newcastle?

I do feel sorry for Keith in many ways. To give credit, his recent performances officiating for Brentford have, by and large, been relatively restrained with no real controversy. He even changed his mind in our favour upon the advice of an assistant during the recent reverse at home to Wolves.  So we know he can do it. Unfortunately, there are so many games that see the other side of Keith.

The flamboyant flourish of a red card. The turning his back on a player he has just admonished. The random bookings and decisions offered out at a level not seen since Uriah Rennie. Yet he has been allowed to continue unchecked. Nobody has had a word and, instead, he has become almost a cult character. But for the wrong reasons.

People now expect bookings and oddity when Keith is in charge. People go into the game on edge. When he has a good one there’s a sense of relief more than a sense of pride. Season on season his statistics speak for themselves but no real action is taken to reign him in. Football isn’t that consistently dirty a game, except in Keith’s head.

Keith Stroud montage

Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

Equally though, last night bears additional scrutiny. This was no heat of the moment decision. This wasn’t a foul that needed to be replayed in the head. It was a basic rule of football that he got backwards in the most glaring of styles. But what about his assistants? Was no support given ? No advice offered? Or was this a case where Keith’s rule was law?

Let’s be clear, I’d hate to be a referee. Balls of steel and skin as thick as rhino’s are the pre-requisites. With players, journalists and fans all thinking they know better the ref is only ever on a hiding to nothing. He clearly loves what he does although, whilst I’d hate to see any serious sanction as a result, that’s no justification for allowing anyone to run around unchecked.

Will Keith ever change? Unlikely. Will the FA do anything? Expect a week’s demotion to the lower leagues and then business as usual.

Yet, out of all this, Keith may wake up this morning and look himself in the mirror. You never know. Perhaps this will be the catalyst that triggers some self-reflection and a reigning in of Keith the card.

We know he can do it. We’ve all seen him have good games. Why not just go back to being the anonymous man in the middle rather than the reputational nightmare he has allowed himself to become.

Can a leopard change his spots? You never know.

 

Nick Bruzon

Terriers left chasing the ball as Brentford remember a legend

20 Dec

soccer-memories-hillBrentford may have thumped Huddersfield Town 4-2 yesterday but it was a game that very much played second fiddle to Jimmy Hill. As news of his passing at the age of 87 spread around the football world, the terrace was awash with talk of this former Bee (who featured 87 times between 1949 and 1952) and his myriad accomplishments in the game.

Three points for a win, abolishing the maximum wage, TV punditry (he is acknowledged as being the first to introduce a panel, for the 1970 World Cup) and the first electronic scoreboard are amongst things credited to Jimmy.

Then, of course, there‘s his work as a TV presenter (primarily ‘Match of the Day’), his own forays into management, roles as a director and even a chairman.I could go on.

Suffice to say we’ve lost somebody whose influence on the game is still felt today whilst, for us terrace supporters, Jimmy was somebody we grew up with in our front rooms every weekend. We watched him, we listened to him, being honest we sometimes got annoyed with him but ultimately his opinion was one we always talked about.

Rest in peace, Jimmy.

But if Jimmy was very much one for pushing the envelope, yesterday’s opponents are a team currently trying to return to their former glories of top-flight success. The 1920s and 1930s saw them as one THE teams to beat but these days I’d imagine most fans would settle for staying in the Championship.

And after a minute’s silence in honour of Jimmy Hill (impeccably observed, for the record), Brentford and the Terriers locked horns. Thirty minutes later and it was effectively dead as a contest with the Bees having stormed into a 3-0 lead.

IMG_5571

View from the terrace – a minute’s silence for Jimmy prior to kick off

Sergi Canos got the first, after a sustained period of build up in which John Swift (also aided by a fortunate ricochet) was key. It was a delightful finish from just inside the box after Swift had threaded the ball through. The Liverpool loanee turned his man on a sixpence and fired home. 1-0 and not even five minutes on the clock.

Fifteen minutes later and the lead was doubled by Lasse Vibe who hit an absolute screamer past Jed Steer in the Huddersfield goal. ‘Worldly’ and ‘Thump’ were the first two comments on my social media timeline from the usual observers but even they fail to do justice to the power, precision and technique employed by the Danish international. It was an absolute screamer.

What a goal. What a fantastic goal,” exclaimed Mark Burridge on the Beesplayer commentary (and whose YouTube highlights are now online). I couldn’t agree more.

What a fantastic goal, indeed

Equal credit must go to James Tarkowski, whose defence splitting pass left Vibe onside and clear. Aside from this, he and recalled partner Harlee Dean (Jack O’Connell can perhaps count himself unlucky) had a quiet first period. Buzz and Buzzette could have played there and the score would have remained the same.

The third came via the boot of Alan Judge on the half hour. A low free kick taken from close to the touchline, and well beyond the area of what is commonly known as ‘Saunders territory’, eluded attackers and defenders alike to drift straight in. 3-0 on thirty minutes and game over.

Huddersfield gave us a scare scoring immediately into the second half. ‘Old’ Brentford would probably have gone on to concede another on 75, leaving us a squeaky final quarter hour. But, instead, we went down the other end and restored the three-goal cushion.

Alan Judge was, perhaps fortunately, deemed to have been fouled in the box. But the ref’s decision stood and the Irishman made no mistake from the resultant spot kick for 4-1.

back of the net Judge

View from the terrace – Back of the net !! (quite literally). Judge makes it 4

By my calculations, that now makes him the leading provider of assists in the top four divisions of English football. Yesterday’s article talked about how he, Matt Ritchie and Cesc Fabregas were all level on 20 since the start of last season. But with neither Premier League player providing a killer through ball or penultimate touch, I reckon that should now put Alan clear.

The other point of (personal) note from yesterday’s column was my own comment that, “I can’t envisage another 4-1, although that would be nice”. On a day when we remembered Jimmy Hill, it was just another reminder of how little most of us know about football punditry.

In the end, it wasn’t quite 4-1. Nakhi Wells pulled another back for Huddersfield whilst Jota and the impressive Max Colin also had chances to push the score beyond 4 and close to those mythical brackets that go with 7(seven) goals.

One day Brentford. One day.

Instead, the Bees move up to ninth and just two points off the play-off zone. With the busy Christmas period now upon us, the next few weeks could really see if Brentford have the ability to push on and emulate last season or if this will be a campaign of consolidation.

With Alan Judge on such form, Lasse finding the net and the likes of Sam Saunders, Josh McEachran, Max Colin and Jota back in selection contention could we start to dream the impossible dream?

Next up sees us at home to Brighton and Hove Albion who, of course, lost their unbeaten record after going down 3-0 to Middlesbrough yesterday. With the Bees scoring 8 in our last three home games, we have every opportunity to inflict two in a row on the Seagulls.

Can we do it? See you on Boxing Day to find out.

Until then, why not go to google and type in ‘Jimmy Hill’ ?

Visionary. Pundit. Footballer. Fashion Icon. Truly, there was nothing he couldn’t do.

Jimmy, you’ll be missed.

JS40283084

Nick Bruzon

 

The Judge is very much our ‘man of the moment’ as Terriers await

19 Dec

Brentford take on Huddersfield Town today for Head Coach Dean Smith’s second home game at Griffin Park. He’s picked up 4 points from his opening 9 and, being honest, can count himself unlucky not to have 7(seven). The linesman’s flag incorrectly denied Jota a winner at Fulham whilst Cardiff City did to us what we’ve done to so many – grab a 90th minute goal as they ran out 3-2 winners at their unimaginatively named Cardiff City Stadium.

Jota onside v Fulham

Jota WAS onside at Fulham (thanks, Channel 5)

It has been a period that has coincided with the return of Jota aswell as our first look at the impressive Josh McEachran. These, both luxuries not available to either Marinus Dijkhuizen or Lee Carsley but which , I am sure, Dean will be relying on more and more. That said, the BBC reports amongst other things that neither are in a position to last a full 90 minutes as yet so expect them on the bench.

Indeed, that BBC match preview contains a number of interesting facts and, specifically, one about Alan Judge. I can’t take the credit for this (and, you can find their full article here) but it was fascinating to read that no player in the top four divisions has provided more assists since the start of last season. He has set up 20 goals – a figure also matched, but not surpassed – by Matt Ritchie and Cesc Fabregas.

This is an incredible figure. Not least because I didn’t think hapless Chelsea had managed to score 20 goals as a team. Although in all seriousness, we all know how good a player Alan is but to see him named in such company, and have his contribution laid out in such a fashion, shows just how much of a danger man he has become. Moreso, given his current total of 8 league goals also sees him as Brentford’s leading scorer this season.

Judge pic 2

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans after another goal…

The last time our paths crossed, in March, the Bees thumped Huddersfield 4-1 at Griffin Park. Goals from Chris Long (2), Alex Pritchard and Jon Toral saw us get back into the play off zone. This following our defeat away to the Terriers back in early December where three points would have seen us top the Championship table (although I blame the ‘Manager of the month’ awarded given to Warbs just before that one).

This time around Brentford are a little bit more off the pace as we sit in 10th place. Yet with the mid-table zone currently tighter than a hipster’s skinny jeans, victory could take us to within a point of the play-off zone as we enter the busy Christmas period.

However, with Judge on such prolific form and the team having played so well in our previous home game (the 2-0 over MK Dons) I’m going into this one full of confidence. I can’t envisage another 4-1, although that would be nice, but I’d just be happy to come out of it with a win. Moreso against a team who may be at the bottom end of the table but have picked up 6 points out of the last 9.

And I might have half an eye on the Premier League where Chelsea host Sunderland in the relegation six pointer and Bournemouth travel to West Bromwich Albion.

With the Judge, Fabregas and Ritchie all locked on 20 assists, there could be a very interesting sub plot to today’s action.

Nick Bruzon

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

View from the stand. Alan Judge – goals and assists

4 goals, 42 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

25 Feb

Brentford blew aside Blackpool like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 42 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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

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

The BBC stats show just how one sided it was

The BBC stats show just how one sided it was

View from the terrace - Jon Toral and team celebrate his third goal

View from the terrace – Jon Toral, team and fans celebrate his third goal

However, I have a picture that suggests that there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then our artist’s impression of how this could be accommodated would, I am sure, be a popular one.

Is this what Matthew means by a mathematical model?

Is this what Matthew means by a mathematical model?

Will it be three more points as Blackpool go West?

24 Feb

Brentford welcome Blackpool to Griffin Park on Tuesday night in what, on paper, seems an excellent chance to continue on our winning way after Saturday’s splendid 3-1 victory over Bournemouth. With the Tangerines already 12 points adrift of Championship safety and manager Lee Clark telling the BBC that he “may struggle to fill the substitutes’ bench” surely this has three points written all over it?

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

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

Crisis? What crisis?

22 Feb

Normal service was resumed on Saturday at Griffin Park as Brentford’s 3-1 victory over Bournemouth saw the Bees back to winning ways once more. It was almost as though the previous ten days hadn’t happened – the only difference being the absence of sporting director Frank McParland who was tending to his leeks or whatever else it is you do on gardening leave. Brentford were, simply, magnificent.

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

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

Aswell as 35 yard shots, Brentford also try the 'lining up for a bus' free kick technique

Aswell as 35 yard shots, Brentford also try the ‘lining up for a bus’ dead ball technique

Visiting supporters were in jubilant mood before kick off

Visiting supporters were in jubilant mood before kick off

For a game given the tongue-in-cheek nickname of ‘The tin pot derby’ by supporters of both clubs (as a reaction to the jealous jibes of our, supposedly, more illustrious divisional rivals), it was one played out with all the passion of the FA Cup final. But there is nothing ‘tinpot’ about either of these sides and the celebrations on full time certainly felt like Brentford had won that famous old trophy.

Jota has his eyes on the tinpot

Jota has his eyes on the tinpot

Tinpot derby awaits a reunited Brentford

21 Feb

Finally. We can concentrate on playing football again rather than talking about the manager and mathematical models. Brentford welcome Bournemouth to Griffin Park today for a promotion six pointer that, should the Bees triumph, will really lock things up once more.

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

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

An unusual derby awaits

An unusual derby awaits

Hu-ra-ra Dougie's in

Hu-ra-ra Dougie’s in

Cherries await as Cliff crowns a tough week. And some dogs

20 Feb

With Brentford fans adjusting to the news about Mark Warburton ahead of Saturday’s game against Bournemouth, the saga has been somewhat distracting for anybody interested in matters outside TW8. On the plus side, the interminable fixation with Eastenders has, largely, drifted past despite my twitter timeline being flooded with oblique reference to Ian Beale. The downside has been missing out on canine fun at Bristol Rovers, Liverpool (almost) doing a Trotta and a transfer story involving the one time scourge of Bournemouth, Mike Grella.

Rounding off the news about Warbs, on Thursday Chairman Cliff Crown spoke to the press from the Brentford Media Centre. I have to be honest, this was something I didn’t even realised existed and seemed less SSNHQ, more a desk covered in discarded telephones placed in front of an advertising backdrop.

Cliff Crown speaks from the heart of the media centre

Cliff Crown speaks from the heart of the media centre

However, the key points from Cliff’s performance were an admission that the club had spoken to Rayo Vallecano coach Paco Jemez although, “it’s been no more than a conversation about philosophies

Likewise, in regards to the news coming out in the first place, “Unfortunately someone leaked and that accelerated the whole process. It wasn’t something we were keen to do but we had little choice once it’d got out. We don’t know who it was, but whoever it was has done damage to everybody associated with the club

A frank admission from Cliff and if you want to see the whole interview, it is on the club’s YouTube channel, below.

 

Moving away from the situation surrounding the management, you might not have noticed the news coming from across the Atlantic this week. The New York Red Bulls may have lost the services of Thierry Henry but they have replaced him with former Brentford hit man, Mike Grella.

The date 8th November 2011. The place Griffin Park. Brentford lined up against Bournemouth for a JPT semi and ended up just one shy of brackets. Grella smashed four goals as the hapless Cherries were routed 6-0 and the Bees spent the final 11 minutes, including stoppages, chasing a 7th(seventh).

With many Bournemouth fans living in London, and even closer to TW8, it is a result that still gets mentioned on a regular basis. They may have spent much of this season TOTL but I’ll never forget the night that the gorilla went ape.

Put down this article and go immediately to twitter (then come back). Type in the hashtag – #dogsinbristolroversshirts. I don’t know what has sparked the craze but you get exactly what you ask for. Dogs. Wearing Bristol Rovers shirts.

Dogs. In Bristol Rovers shirts. Quite literally

Dogs. In Bristol Rovers shirts. Quite literally

I didn’t even realise that many Bristol Rovers shirts existed although this sort of dog related couture isn’t a new thing, with precedent having been set by Brentford.

Woofy McWoofington has long been known for his love of the ‘St.George’ home shirt, whilst even turned up in a Bees scarf for the Hartlepool game (the one before ‘that penalty’).

That said, whilst Woofy may have worn a shirt first, Rovers have picked up the stick and run with it. The internet is flooded with them. And a great thing it is too.

Woofy McWoofington - trendsetter

Woofy McWoofington – trendsetter

Finally, talking of ‘that penalty’ , don’t people watch sports news? Perhaps the incident against Doncaster Rovers didn’t get enough airplay (that’ll be it). However, watching the Liverpool – Besiktas game last night I couldn’t help feel a sense of déjà vu, watching Mario Balotelli and Jordan Henderson arguing in front of the home fans over who was going to take a late spot kick with the scores locked at 0-0.

The enigmatic Italian eventually got the honours, the goal and a rebuke from Steven Gerrard sitting in the ITV press box.

Good luck to them. We’ve grown from our own incident in a fashion that I could never have believed possible from the distraught feeling that afternoon. Whilst it is far too early to be talking about playing the likes of Liverpool, it is incredible to think that three more points tomorrow could take us one step closer to that craziness.

Let’s put the week behind us, get behind the manager and go for it.

Warbs. What a gent. What a performance

19 Feb

Mark Warburton. I won’t pretend to understand the Brentford manager on all things. His devotion to the short corner (thankfully, disappearing faster than you can say “Fulham promotion bid”) has been one that has baffled over the front end of the season. Likewise, his use of substitutions has, at times, been as predictable as South West Trains service disruption when the first flakes of snow fall. I can imagine Peter Gilham starts warming up his microphone for an imminent announcement as soon as we hit the hour mark.

But that’s very much the thin end of the wedge.

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

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

Analysing the statement – what does it mean and what next?

18 Feb

After the week of media tumbleweed, ‘the statement’ was finally released and, with it, the much expected news that Mark Warburton, David Weir and Sporting Director Frank McParland are to leave Brentford at the end of the season. With Bournemouth due at Griffin Park on Saturday, one would hope that this will now help steady the ship following the debacle at Charlton Athletic and earlier loss to Watford. The instant the club failed to back Warbs when the story first broke but, instead, chose to release that gubbins about “The football village” (something that will go down in modern day TW8 folklore along with:

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

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

Matthew Benham was back on Twitter with a great, new look

Matthew Benham was back on Twitter with a great, new look