Tag Archives: Matthew Benham

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

7 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

clunky photoshop for our boys

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

I, for one, welcome our Turmeric overlords.

29 Jun

Irony is alive and well when it comes to all things Brentford. Or life. It’s amazing how things can come back to bite you but the announcement teased on Twitter by Brentford ‘official’ last night suggested we may have a new commercial partner incoming. In the Euros, there were plaudits all round for ITV and their coverage (not a typo) following the Croatia – Spain game. This, for the performance of Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea women, in the co-commentator’s seat. Then there’s the small matter of England – Germany.

First up, Brentford.  Let me take you back to March 2021. The home game with Nottingham Forest. Yours truly’s programme column started as follows… 

“How much turmeric does one club need? Quite a lot if you are Swansea City, who announced a partnership with The Turmeric Company to become their official supplier for the rest of 2020-21. Rather than for the traditional use in flavouring curries, their products are quickly becoming the gold standard for individuals looking to support their health and wellbeing through nutrition, with their bespoke formula containing key powerful natural ingredients. Not my words, the words of Hal Robson-Kanu. The Wales international being co-founder of the company rather than an amazing leap into the world of Accidental Partridge. Good luck to them. It sounds incredible (much like mushroom based coffee – remember that from a few years ago?) although no explanation is given as to whether it negatively impacts the players’ balance when in the opposition penalty box.”

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon and this announcement from Brentford official….

What does this mean? A new commercial partner incoming? A new shirt sponsor, even? Perhaps nothing more than Matthew Benham taking control of our Twitter account once more and launching another of his cryptic clues ? The best translation I could get for that one would be us signing Tom Ince, son of Paul.

For those old enough to remember, the self-monikered ‘Guvnor’ was also one of the so-called Liverpool Spice boys alongside Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman etc back in the 90s. For the record, the name based on hit parade topping all girl pop combo The Spice Girls rather than any laboratory made illegal substance.

We digress, as ever.  What’s happening in the world of Turmeric? If it is kit related, could we see the new Brentford shirt at the same time? Will the big reveal come today? Might we go for the holy trinity of a Frank Onyeka signing photo being published, whilst wearing a Turmeric sponsored top (suddenly thinks: please, no, not the away colours…….) and brandishing a half-chewed biro?

Who knows? All we can say is that domestic news must clearly be very thing on the ground. On a personal note, and I make no apologies for mentioning this again, the season review e-book was last night up to #5 in the Amazon kindle download charts for football. The meat in a Gareth Southgate / Harry Redknapp sandwich.

The reason for continuing to push this is that ALL monies received from anyone kind enough to download one go to the Rob Rowan Memorial fund for CRY. If you could pick up a copy, it would be the most incredibly received gesture whilst may even provide a few moments of entertainment. A Last Word compendium looking back at how we made it onto the Premier league aswell as including all the programme articles from the season, columns which have never been published on line before (there may be a reason for that). As ever, the link is here.

Next up, ITV football. Cue rant about commentators. About adverts. About Hoddle Twaddle style punditry as cringey as The Spice Boys nickname. About cliche by numbers. Yet for those of us just coming in from work last night, the Croatia – Spain game brought us Emma Hayes in the co-commentator’s seat. My word, how good was she? Somebody who actually explained how the game was unfolding, what the teams were doing and the thought process around it rather than just repeating what the anchor had said or we had all just seen. A genuine breath of fresh air in a seat which has so long been the home of repetitive sound bite by numbers. With the Chelsea manager earning what felt like universal acclaim, all of a sudden ITV may not be the poison chalice it might have been when we come down to the decision of which challenge to watch the final on.

All being well, England will be present in that one. Tuesday evening’s game with Germany is about as big as it gets in terms of history. In terms of occasion. Expect mention of 1966 and penalties. Of ruthless efficiency. Of Joachim Löw sniffing his fingers, wherever they may have been moments prior. Cripes, we may aswell just get a bingo card together right now. 

But also expect England to progress. For all Germany are the historic powerhouse of European football, their performances have so far been a very mixed bag. England, on the other hand, may not be setting the world on fire in terms of blockbusting wins but with 7 (seven) points out of 9 from the group stage and no goals conceded, it is perfect progression. Perfect cup football. Get another win on the board and keep going. Gareth Southgate’s game management spot on, so far.

One could almost say, ruthlessly efficient….

Nick Bruzon

Where did all the noise come from?

20 Jun

Exciting times. Brentford now know we’ll be first up in the Premier League. Our opening game, the visit of Arsenal to Lionel Road, now brought forward for TV and will be played under lights on Friday 13th August. A fixture list already bristling with early season promise – Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City all due in TW8 before the clocks change – now sees the third placed Bees with an opportunity to top the pack and send Arsenal bottom of the fledgling table. It’s going to immense. We all loved Griffin Park, no question, but if we learned one thing last season it is that our new home at Lionel Road is a cauldron of noise. Just ask Bournemouth. And that was with 4,200 present. Imagine the noise when full? Imagine walking out of there on the Friday night, sitting at the top of the Premier League… One can dream.

How did we get here? That’s not something posed in any metaphysical sense but more asked to reflect on how we are even able to entertain the lunacy that is us talking about topping the Premier League. Our little bus stop in Hounslow could be sitting above the likes of Liverpool, Champions of Europe Chelsea and the other 17 (seventeen) illustrious names we’ll be playing. I mean, we are already but points in the bag are ten times better than alphabetical order. All we need to do is beat Arsenal. Easy. In theory.

And to answer the question….well, it’s that time of year once more. Season review time. As ever, the collected ‘Last Word’ posts aswell as all the match day programme blog columns (not previously published online) have been collated in e-book form for our 2020/21 retrospective.

A look back at the strangest of Championship seasons. One played out in mostly silence (barring the ‘200’ we smuggled in for the QPR game) from that opening fixture against Birmingham City in September through to the play-off final at Wembley and beyond.   

The latest volume is available now for kindle and other e-book reader devices / apps from the Amazon store. You can get it here. 

Normally the few quid it raises is then given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust although things are a little different this time around. Should anybody be kind enough to download a copy, any and all monies received from this / previous volumes will be going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund. 

There can’t be anyone associated with Brentford who isn’t aware of Rob’s work as Technical Director or his tragic passing from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of just 28. His family have been supporting CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) since his passing, a charity whose aims include preventing young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening and research aswell as providing bereavement counselling for affected families. 

Rob’s memorial will fund future screenings to allow young people between ages of 14-35 to be checked for free (something the government doesn’t currently support).

A first screening was held at Syon Park back in 2019 although the pandemic has meant that these have been unable to be held since. The next intent being to hold a full weekend in Fife, Scotland, and another in Brentford (hopefully at the new stadium) allowing over 400 young people to be screened. Dates for those are hoped to be known soon.

It would be fair to say that Rob’s vision played a monumental part in helping us reach the holy grail of top flight football. Without him, who knows where we’d be?  For anybody wanting to know or more about CRY or donate directly, you can do so, here.

Nick Bruzon

Relive it all once more, in style.

5 Jun

What more can you say? Well let’s start by saying that Brentford are Premier League. And yes, it HAS been said many, many times over the last few days but it just fits so well. Sounds so sweet. Finally, finally finally this stage of our journey is over. Finally we’ve got a notch in the ‘W’ column for a game at Wembley. It’ll be Chelsea rather than Craven Cottage for the West London derby. Brighton rather than Blackpool for our trip to the seaside. Manchester City and Aston Villa as the teams to discuss with two of my closest non-Bees supporting friends. There is nothing but excitement ahead and, as much as anything else, perhaps a summer now able to be spent enjoying the Euros rather than vast tracts of the squad being snapped up by top flight clubs. If you support Brentford, life is good. 

This time last week, the anticipation was building. As was an element of angst. On paper, we all knew that Brentford were the better team than Swansea City. Yet in our hearts, we all knew this was a one-off game at what for us had been the most jinx-laden of venues. Anything could happen in 90 minutes. In a one-off game of football. 

Thankfully, as revealed in Kitman Bob’s exclusive insight to the build up this week, those were not feelings shared by the squad. The togetherness and spirit we had seen all season combining once more to get us over the line during the week and on the day itself. You can read Bob’s diary here and, even if you have already, do it again. Just because these moments deserve to be relived.

Yet if Bob has done his thing, last night was the turn of Stu Wakeford, Marcus Gayle and Karleigh Osborne. The Warm Up was back on our screens for another look at the game, the beautiful, beautiful afters aswell as, of course, their thoughts and hopes for the coming Premier League season. 

They have the goals. The celebrations. Fan footage. The additional key moments of which, for me Clive, ‘that’ Ivan Toney blockbuster gets nearer and nearer to making it 3-0 every time I watch it. Obviously the result is the important thing, and we got it, but just imagine the noise had that dropped a few inches kinder to clear the line. What an absolutely stunning goal that would have been. One to rival Dallas at Fulham. 

There’s even the revelation that Karleigh ‘did a JJ’ (and if you know, you know). Quite possibly the real reason we won the game. There’s a lot of love for Thomas and our own, grounded approach to football. Marcus, in particular, absolutely nailing what it means to be a Brentford fan and what your club is all about. I’ve watched it once. I’ll do it again. Being quite honest, I can’t get enough of last weekend. It has been SUCH a long time coming. Even last night, with Gibraltar 4-0 down at half time in Slovenia (thankful there would be no brackets involved at the end of the game) , we flicked off the red button and there were the highlights on Sky again. Don’t mind if I do. Perhaps this time, the crossbar will give Ivan a slightly kinder bounce .

The Warm Up is on now. You can catch it below. Find out who wants Chelsea next season. Who is getting excited about Old Trafford. What Pep might say when Manchester City come to visit. Most of all, just enjoy the sheer, unadulterated happiness of what we have achieved.

Nick Bruzon

Robert’s legacy lives on as the dream continues.

10 Jan

Back of the net ! Brentford went through to the fourth round of the FA Cup, despite the absence of Thomas Frank and a whole raft of first team regulars. Goals from Halil Dervişoğlu and Saman Ghoddos were enough to steer us past Middlesbrough in a comfortable 2-1 win. It was a game as notable for the debutants as it was for both of our scorers’ first Brentford goal – in particular, the strike from Ghoddos one we’d been, ermm, anticipating /  expecting / hoping for. No, sorry, the correct word to use escapes me but I’m sure somebody will come up with a better one. Crowbarred headlines aside, we’re through. Monday evening sees the draws for rounds four AND five, before we can then concentrate on the league for a few weeks. Bristol City, Reading and Luton Town are next on that circuit.

Aswell as the two goalscorers making the headlines, lets not ignore the debuts for Alex Gilbert and Lewis Gordon or a first start for Fin Stevens. Not to mention Max Haygarth coming off the bench late on. Truly, the B team flame is alive and well. Burning as strongly as ever with Stevens, in particular, impressing. Robert Rowan’s legacy lives on and shows no sign of abating. How much of what we enjoy and take for granted is down to this man? In addition, there was a welcome return for Mads Roerslev – amazing to already consider him an ‘elder statesmen’ in this set up ! Most importantly though, this has shown a new strength and set of options available to Thomas, temporary custodian Neil MacFarlane, Sam Saunders and the rest of our group as we head into the second part of the season. The comfort level showed by the newcomers no surprise but very welcome nonetheless.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. We all saw the game anyway or, at least, had the opportunity to do so via the surprisingly reliable FA player. Yet what was notable was what an open attacking match it was. Both sides going for it in a complete antithesis of November’s infamous 0-0 snoozefest.

Once the teams had found their feet it was Middlesbrough, if any, who felt in the ascendency. Luke Daniels in nets looking as solid as ever to thwart smiling assassin Chuba Akpom and Marcus Browne. Brentford building into it until , with half time approaching,  Dervişoğlu struck. He’d been offered a good chance earlier but steered wide when cutting in. There was no mistake this time. Boom. 1-0 and the tinfoil trophy hoisted high into the living room air. Ghoddos with the delivery from the corner and Halil executing it low past the ‘keeper. 1-0. Game on. First period done.

With the world outside the front door feeling , at times, like it’s going to hell in a handcart, you can’t put a price on seeing a smile like this. Thank you Halil. Thank you Robert. Thank you everyone. It certainly helps make my life and the struggle of being a parent that much easier. Keeps a 7(seven) year old ecstatic at a time when popping out to the park is about as good as it gets for him compared to normal. Instead, he then spent the entire second half waving the tinfoil and commentating over the top of FA player in equal measure.

Celebrations back at home for the first goal

As ever, this is Brentford. This is football. It’s never 100% plain sailing and with Neil Warnock’s team back out on the front foot, the scores were level soon after the restart. Sam Folarin being given all the time and space needed to pick his spot. Daniels, for once, given no chance of stoping it. Yet rather than collapse into a pit of despair it was the Bees who picked themselves up and kicked on. 

Saman Ghoddos timing his own run through the middle to perfection, picking up the ball and waltzing through the gaps in the Boro’ defence. The Iranian timing his moment before unleashing a devastating counterstrike  from 12 yards out. Hard and low into the bottom corner. Jordan Archer in goal unable to do anything beyond looking good in his shirt. Wow, that was a stunner. As was Saman’s shot. You can see all of it, and more, on the BBC highlights which are available here.

The BBC replay shows all the magnificence.

And from there, the game was closed out. Nothing more to worry about. No stress. All calm. All good. A potato skin negotiated. No need for energy sapping extra time but instead an immediate return to winning ways after Spurs had put the brakes on that mammoth unbeaten run. Brentford through to the next round and the excitement of the draw. Bristol City here in a few days time when league action recommences. The team sure to return to a more familiar starting XI but, at the same time, one that now knows there are even more options than before to plug the gaps. To increase competition for places. To earn the shirt in their own right.

The future is bright. The future is red, white and youth. Brentford continue to lead the way in squad development and B-team progression. The work started by the much missed Robert Rowan continuing apace. Who knows how vital this will prove between here and May? And beyond...

The architect of so much we enjoy and take for granted. Thank you.

Nick Bruzon  

The simple truth about Benrahma and Brentford.

14 Oct

West Ham / Benrahma blah blah blah. Quelle Surprise. As of Wednesday morning the Algerian master is still a Brentford player. Who’d have thought it? All the click bait in the world counts for naff all. As we said on these pages earlier in the week, he won’t be going there on the cheap. Whatever you read abut deals stalling and broken promises, the simple truth of the matter is that Said remains a Brentford player. For now. Whether anyone comes up with an actual serious bid – Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton are the other names we’ve seen bandied around – remains to be seen of course. If they do, then kerr-chinggg. If not, we retain the services of the most exciting player in the Championship.

There’s still almost three days to go and that’s a long time, of course. 5pm on Friday is when all deals must be completed. With personal terms having allegedly been agreed then should West Ham actually blow the dust off the ‘tens column’ in their chequebook things could well happen. Likewise, those goals against Fulham L would only have reminded other suitors of what he can do. Crystal Palace were the other team whose name kept appearing earlier in the ‘window’ but, personally, I’ve got half an eye on Aston Villa swooping in. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the obvious reasons for that one.

Said was back to his very best against Fulham L

One thing’s for sure, with revenue streams falling rapidly as fans remain locked out, Premier League survival this season is more important than ever. European qualification equally so. We’ve already seen huge money thrown around and this will continue over both the next few days and the mid-season window. Said is the obvious crown jewel, ripe for plucking by whomever has the balls to make the right offer. 

With our own goal that of promotion to the top flight then of course it makes perfect sense to hope he stays. For what it’s worth, my own preference would be that we keep (a happy) Benrahma. Transfer money is great. It is the lifeblood that will keep us going until the time we are all allowed back in. Whenever that may be. But to make it up you need the very best options at your disposal. No matter what miracles Thomas Frank was able to conjure out of his squad last season, we all know what a huge part of that Said is.

There’s that key word though. Happy. Has Said had his head turned? Sweet nothings poured into his ear? Is his heart already set on West Ham? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Let’s not forget the saga of Neal Maupay who was giving everything for the Bees and his long term desire to stay – then agents and Brighton happened. Should Said stay at Lionel Road will it be a case of having to reignite the fire in somebody who would rather be elsewhere? What use is a, so called, ‘wantaway’  player who drifts out of games because he has the hump? 

We all know what a happy Said can do

None of the clickbait or conjecture will help you find any answers to that one. Either he goes or he stays. And if the later then you can bet Thomas and his team will have our man firing on all cylinders before you can say “Siracusa”. (It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock. Apparently).  

This is where we can have no influence and no impact. None of what I, you or any of the fans want will make a difference All the stress, angst and trying to sniff out clues aren’t going to help. There are no real clues to be sniffed out. Enigmatic ‘sources’ nothing more than a lure with little or no actual substance behind them. Brentford simply don’t advertise in this fashion. Bidding clubs don’t show their hands so openly. Matthew and his directors of football play hard ball.

Who is looking at Benrahma? Who has shoddier photoshop?

All of which adds up to: he’ll go but it will be at our price. Who knows where and who knows when though? Today? Tomorrow? January? Next season? Aston Villa? Crystal Palace? West Ham even? Hey, this is football. The unexpected always happens.

Elsewhere, England play Denmark tonight. Christian Norgaard remains out of the squad with that injury picked up against Preston last Sunday. There’s been no real news on him since and one has to hope he is on the road to recovery. The visit from Coventry City is almost upon us and, like Said, he’s a key part of the squad. Mathias Jensen and Henrik Dalsgaard are still key parts of the Danish set up and it’s always interesting to see how they go against top flight opposition.

That one kicks off at 7.45pm. As with the Wales game last week, it will be played out at an empty Wembley stadium. Good news indeed for those who love a bit of atmosphere at their England games – we’ll be ‘band’ free once more. 

Whatever else is going on around us, that’s cause enough to celebrate. See you on the couch this evening.

That. Band. It always comes back to this

Nick Bruzon

We’re talking about the master. Not some untried apprentice.

11 Oct

The combination of minimal domestic football due to international break and the partially closed transfer window are a potent brew for those in need of internet hits. Nowhere is this seen more than in the Benrahma from Brentford to West Ham stories doing the rounds. We should be talking about Gibraltar and their cracking win in Liechtenstein (a 100% record in UEFA Nations League group D2 so far). Instead, we’re feeling dirty for nibbling at the clickbait of another non-story. Sky sports Lyall, we’re looking at you. There’s nothing new been added to the ongoing rumours. No fact. Just another line as part of a generic summary about things that may / could / might happen.

Benrahma is still a Bee

Said Benrahma will, of course, leave Brentford at some point. That’s how football works. With The Bees, especially so. It may even be in the next week. But as has been made apparent time and again we have no need or particular desire to sell. Unless, of course, the right offer is made. The club have proven our players can do it at the very highest level (Ollie Watkins at Aston Villa the obvious latest example) and we’re just not going to give away our crown jewels any more. West Ham are going to need a much bigger cheque if they’re even vaguely serious about this one.

Which, traditionally, they’re not. At least in offering the asking price. Long is the history of them being talked up about serious offers for players that never materialise. They are the club linked to more rumours than Donald Trump. More fake news than err, well you get the gist.  How much they generate to keep their fans quiet under the belief that things are ‘happening’ (oh, what a shame it didn’t work out but we tried) and how much is purely down to ‘journalists’ selecting them as ‘transfer rumour club of choice’ I have no idea. But it’s all nonsense. Always is. Better source needed. Like selecting ketchup over HP, it’s just wrong.

My own source suggests there’s no hope of us giving in to a cut price deal. At face value, our finances look healthy. We’ve seen that incredible take up of fans in letting the club roll their season tickets over to next season. Over 90% opting to freeze their season tickets rather than take any form of interim / full-time refund. That’s one outpouring of cash we don’t need to worry about for now whilst Ollie’s £33m is more than helping balance the books. Thanks very much, Dean .

If Benrahma is to go to the Olympic stadium it’s going to need a bid that, at the least, matches the money needed to release Ollie to Aston Villa. Cut the crap and cut to the chase if you are even half-way serious. Good luck with that everyone. Frankly, he’s more chance of turning out in their claret and blue than that of the Hammers based on the current situation. 

It may change, of course. Sometimes these things can happen. Perhaps the offer will have an extra ten million added to it. But I’m not holding my breath. Not overly worried, either way. If he goes then he goes. It all only be on terms that makes us very happy and very well off. If Said stays then he’s another part of a squad that has already seen David Raya and England U-21 goal-scorer Josh Dasilva extend contracts in the last week or so.

If that seems a bit blasé then it goes without saying that my preference would be for Said to continue his journey with Brentford. I’m not a complete idiot. We all know what he can do on his day. We know there are few, if any, with the ability to control a ball or pul of tricks the way he can do. To beat his man with one foot tied behind his back (metaphorically speaking) and pull of goals of the highest quality. Make no mistake, Benrahma is a rare talent. Any squad is stronger with him in it and I’d love that to be ours.

But whenever he eventually leaves we’ll be quids in and with the confidence that our directors of football seem to know what they are doing . Are two steps ahead of the rest and have got ‘the model’ working just right now. Those early days of Marinus and Proschwitz nothing more than a blip.

Very much the magician

Right, Gibraltar.  The boys from the Victoria Stadium proved they can do also it on the road. They travelled to Liechtenstein last night and made it two wins out of two in their Nation’s League qualifying group, topping the table at the half way point. Tjay De Barr the man to make his mark in the record books, ten minutes in to a game which featured a masterclass in ‘rock’ solid defence towards the end. Hats off, Kyle Goldwin. Amongst others.

The game was as notable for another win as it was the latest appearance for the new Gibraltar kit. Gone is the traditional ‘coat of arms’ badge and, instead, the new crest and stylised stripes to represent ‘The Rock’ (consistent across home, away and ‘third’ kit) were all present.

Whilst the red/white home shirt does have feel of the GFA being sponsored by Citroen, the change variants are beautiful. Forget the marketing buzzwords (oh please, can we forget marketing buzzwords) and uplifting music that accompany launch videos. Instead, let’s just marvel in this and the black / gold third choice worn recently against Malta – itself my favourite of the three. Is it too soon to start a Christmas list?

Third choice is best

And talking of kit, there’s something very special up on eBay at present for Brentford fans. The famous non-branded Hummel shirt worn in the interim period between the Danish giants parting ways and Core taking over in the mid 90s. I understand that monies raised are all going to support a local football club and, whilst looking like it is out of yours truly’s price bracket (oh, that Griffin Park auction is still hurting), these things don’t come around too often.

Yet we can only end where we started, with Said Benrahma. For what it’s worth, I think we’ll absolutely cash in at some point. I just can’t see it being on the cheap to West Ham this week. We’re talking about the master, not the apprentice. Karren Brady and the board are really going to have to spend big if this is one investment they want to make.

There’ll need to be some big talking in the boardroom

Nick Bruzon

When the brackets come second, you know it’s BIG news.

24 Sep

For a day with no game (something in itself that feels quite odd at present) Wednesday still had plenty to deliver. For Brentford, our opponents for the League Cup fourth round tie were confirmed. It’ll be Fulham at Lionel Road next week. Elsewhere, there were brackets for Newcastle United, Chelsea came close to the same magical scoreline and in Wales, Ryan Reynolds is the name being linked with a takeover of Wrexham. Yes. THE Ryan Reynolds. The actor of Deadpool andDetective Pikachu fame. Albeit perhaps best we just gloss over Green Lantern.

The new Wrexham away kit needs a rethink

First up, the League Cup. With Brentford through to the fourth round we’ve been handed the chance to make our furthest ever progression in the tournament with a home tie. Against Fulham. Cripes, if only there was some recent encounter between the two clubs that pundits and commentators could bludgeon to death in the build up to this one. And then through the game itself. Alas, not.

Yet if there is something to mention, let the others be the ones to wallow in the past. Its all about the present. About going forward from where you are. 

For Brentford, that’s unbeaten in three games and two Premier League clubs already despatched this season. The performance against Huddersfield Town on Saturday one which saw the Bees back to their best. That indefatigable, keep going until the end spirit seeing us run out eventual 3-0 winners after dominating the game. 

A great team performance on Saturday

For Fulham, its nil points and 7(seven) goals against from their opening two league fixtures. And that’s with the advantage of playing in an empty stadium. Well done. Well done everyone. 

The sweetest part being that their fansite will be obliged to copy/paste this entire article onto their own page – as they always do for anything published on the internet that concerns Cottaging – and thus be reminded further of their woeful start to life this time around. After all the smugness over the summer, it’s great to see them being on the wrong end of a kicking week in, week out.

The Fulham defensive wall needs some work

Anyway, whatever. For me its about Brentford. For going as far and high as we can. Let anyone else worry about themselves. It’s an amusing side story to laugh at but doesn’t detract from the desire to keep on doing our bit. Which we are. Let’s concentrate on Fulham next week when they come to visit. The details for that one are yet to be confirmed although given the proximity of the game, it can only be imminent. Instead, we’ve a trip to Millwall to focus on this Saturday.

However, the big story yesterday was one which came out of Wales where National League Wrexham have the most unexpected of potential new investors lined up – actors Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool etc) and Rob McElhenney (no idea). The club, currently under fan ownership (sound familiar?) has seen 1,223 Supporters Trust members opt in favour of the proposal which would see control handed over (sound familiar ?)  for an investment thought to be worth £2m . To put that in numbers, only 31 voted against  – less than 5% of those polled.

The stage seems set for them to enter, should they follow through of course. For Brentford, the move from fan owners surrendering their shares in return for new investment has been the best deciosn ever made. Matthew Benham has transformed the club through shrewd management and innovative techniques. Whether Ryan and Rob could bring the same tactical nous to North Wales remains to be seen. Smart one-liners and katana blades can only take you so far compared to an advanced computer modelling system – at least on the football pitch. Certainly I wouldn’t fancy Matthew in a fight although he’d win at recruitment every time.

Safe to say the football world will be watching with interest over the coming weeks. Let’s just hope its not like the time Michael Jackson turned up at Exeter City. Or Fulham, for that matter.

And finally, back to the league cup. Newcastle United hit brackets last night with a 7(seven) – 0 win at Morecambe. Six up at half-time, they left it late to hit the magical mark with an injury time o.g. just prior to the final whistle getting them over the line. It was a night that saw former Bees favourite Toumani Diagouraga shown a red card for the hosts – a case of Newcastle score, he’s off the pitch?

“Shooooot” – Toumani is a Griffin Park legend.

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea (are we  still doing that?) came close to the same score. Their 6-0 home defeat of Barnsley saw a hat-trick for £71million signing Kai Havertz as a strong looking line up romped home. Olivier Giroud made it 6 on 83minutes but, alas, that’s where things ended. A brace of brackets in one night would have likely seen the roof come off in our house. Instead, we had to be content with the one on a night that also saw Everton hit five.

Anyway, good luck to them all. A win next week could well see us paired with any one of these teams. We’ve tasted cup success against Chelsea and Everton in recent-ish years. I’d love the chance to do it again. However, before that there’s Fulham. And before that there’s Millwall.

Roll on Saturday. Another game on the couch. Another game on the I-follow/ See you there. In spirit.

A cracker against Chelsea at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon 

Needless to say, he had the last laugh.

10 Sep

And with that, Ollie Watkins was revealed at Aston Villa. The latest Brentford star to make the step up to the top flight. These days,  the Villans rather than Wycombe or Birmingham City are the ones becoming our ‘B’ team. He joins Jota, Ezri Konsa and manager/ head coach Dean Smith in a squad that could be argued as , if not ‘ten times better’, certainly one chock full of talent. England debutant Jack Grealish the most prodigious of the stars that will be playing alongside our (former) man.

That’s about as ‘official’ as it gets.

There was nothing but good wishes from all at , err, Lionel Road when the news was announced. A low key statement from Brentford, “All the best, Ollie. The striker has this morning completed his move to @AVFCOfficial for an undisclosed fee” was followed by a much more in depth piece detailing the move. Albeit, the fee of £28million with a further £5million in add-ons was not confirmed. Kerr-chinggg! 

After the season he had, and that unmentionable final game, it was unlikely Ollie would be staying. No complaints here. Quite the opposite. He has his dream move and a well deserved reward for all the hard work and good times. Brentford have shown we are no longer the pushovers in the transfer market that we were in days gone by. Now, there is no need to sell. Just the knowledge that we help players progress, with replacements lined up, and release them when it is mutually beneficial. 

Cripes – what a price. I saw a comment that says it is the 12th highest ever paid for an English player. Aston Villa have absolutely got an international star in the making. If he can continue his goal scoring hot streak – and Dean will know what his man can do – then the England shirt will be beckoning. Neal Maupay showed last season how that step up to the top flight can be made. I fully expect more of the same from Ollie. 

There was a graphic from Sky Sports on Twitter yesterday, declaring Brentford to be ‘Masters of the transfer market’. 

Looking at it in cold, hard figures you’d be doing well to disagree. Not just with the fees but , as much, our recruitment process. How far away do all the sneers now seem? The talk of Matthew Benham’s system being nothing more than robotics and Moneyball? Of him inhabiting a Doctor Evil style ‘lair’? That one was Clem, I recall. Needless to say, he’s had the last laugh. (Matthew, rather than Clem).

Talk to the hand – a strange analogy once made about Matthew Benham’s HQ

So who next? Joel Valencia seems set for a loan out to Legia Warsaw. Talk on Said Benrahma has gone quiet. Very quiet. Is he also Aston Villa bound? Somehow, possibly, maybe sitting tight? Hey, one can dream. David Raya still seem inexorably linked with Arsenal although the club have made it absolutely clear we are not interested in even considering a sale. It’ll be telling to see what happens when we visit Birmingham City on Saturday lunchtime. For the record, I expect David to start and be with us all season.

As ever with Brentford, this is all out of our control. Stressing about it won’t do any good. Confidence in who will comes in to replace those that have moved on is something which should remain sky high. Past seasons have more than proved that, now we’ve got the Proschwitz style kinks out of the system. Ivan Toney is the latest of those to join us and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the red and white.

That’s all to come. The season proper starts on Saturday. The transfer window remains open until early October. That’s a LONG time. Urgh. Still, heads down. Teeth gritted. Move along, nothing to see here. Nothing to worry about if it does happen. He says….

Until then, it’s a case of one more ‘Good luck’ Ollie. Not that he needs it. Perhaps more a case of ‘So long and thank you for everything’. Here’s to seeing you on Match Of The Day.

And finally, don’t forget that all The Last Word season reviews remain available, for free download for your kindle e-book reader. There’s only a day or so of this to run so please help yourselves – if you want. You can pick up 2013/14 – 2017/18 here, there’s 2018/19 here whilst the latest effort (which is probably the word), covering 2019-20 is here. These are free so get in now. Once these go back to ‘regular’ price (the Amazon store gives five free days every three months) then any monies received go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust…

Thanks, as ever.

You can read about all this sort of stuff once more

Nick Bruzon

Farewell to a hero.

9 Sep

Will Ollie Watkins earn that most special / awful of honours today – a personalised transfer signing hashtag? Word on the street is that he will complete his move from Brentford to Aston Villa, for a fee that keeps rising and rising – depending on where you read. Elsewhere, Christian Nørgaard mad his full international debut as England were held 0-0 in Denmark. And there’s more e-book updates (thank you !).

Ollie – a hero to all at Griffin Park

First up, Ollie. Dean Smith will no doubt feel he deserves a reunion with his ex and is certainly prepared to pay handsomely for his man. The latest reports suggest he’s prepared to break the bank for this one (Premiership survival will facilitate that, I suppose). The price is thought to read: 

£28million, rising to £33million based on add ons.

The Kitchen sink

Some tracksuits

Jota (hey, one can dream)

An arm and a leg  

Whatever the fee actually reads in the end, it will be another incredible reward for the Brentford system. Aston Vila have been made to sweat for their primary target, with no urgency to sell. Now, valuations would seem to have been met and Ollie has his well earned move. When the GPG are calling it then that’s as close as you can get to a ‘done deal’ beyond seeing a shirt photo or one of those awkward #partofthepride type messages (stick to a chewed BIC – much classier).

We’ve been here before

Nobody could doubt what Ollie, an absolute hero at Griffin Park, did for the Bees. Nor can there be any bitterness about him taking the step up that came so close to being made at Lionel Road.  Ah, but for that play-off final. Even then, he bust a gut covering just about every blade of grass. 

His goals speak for themselves – the work rate, probably under-rated to the casual observer. Then there’s the fact that he’s just an all round good egg. The Brentford policy of ‘no dickheads’ – where personality and group spirit has always been a key part of our acquisition strategy – as key to his approach as anything else.

I’ve no doubt Exeter City will also be salivating at their own cut, should it have been written in, but if nothing else the step up made by yet another of our players should hopefully give incentive to those below us looking to sell in future. Likewise, those considering a move to Griffin Park. The conveyor belt of talent progressing through the ranks and up into the top flight, at vast profit, is a well documented effect of Matthew Benham’s system. Crazy stuff ! Who’s laughing now?

The one real downside being that we’re going to need a new car. The BMW will be no more. Still, at those prices perhaps the directors of football will have earned a Porsche or two. 

BMW etc etc etc

In all seriousness, one can only wish the very best to Ollie. He has been an absolute phenomenon at Griffin Park, stepping up when Neal Maupay left for Brighton and more than making the goalscorer’s position his own. Aston Villa have got an absolute gem and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the top flight.

The other news from last night was the England – Denmark game. Ordinarily, condolences would be offered to anyone sitting through a performance from tGareth Southgate’s team which has universally described as ‘turgid’.  

Yet, as ever, let’s try to look positive. For one thing, ‘that’ band were, ermm, banned. (Copy, paste, add usual rant about Bernie Clifton, unwelcome horns and off-key renditions of the Dambusters theme). True, so were ALL supporters but if there’s one thing Covid has done it is, at least, to ensure that the awful noise to simulate atmosphere is limited to that being piped in by Sky.

Christian Nørgaard joins the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford in representing his country. His debut was as solid as those performances for the Bees and there’s a strong case for him winning now of the many man-of-the-match polls doing the rounds. We all saw what he did last time around. Could 2020/21 see him as one of our key players in that push for the top? Roll on Saturday when we find out.

Elsewhere, e-books. The Last Word compendiums are already available for free (for a couple of days) on the Kindle store. You can pick up ‘There Is No Plan B – Brentford FC season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18’ and also ‘The Jaffa cake Shirt – Brentford FC season review: 2018/19‘ for free. Now. 

But, like an advert for kitchen knives, there’s more. The latest version ‘Farewell, Griffin Park – Brentford FC season review: 2019/ 20’ is also up and is also now free for a few days. It would normally retail for £1.99 (with all money received going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust) but life’s too short. If you want this one, too, and the chance to relive all those amazing Ollie Watkins moments (via these dodgy sources) then fill your boots at no expense.

Enjoy.

Until then, the only other thing to say is goodbye and good luck to Ollie. Thanks for everything. Here’s to crossing paths in 12 month’s time.

Nick Bruzon