Tag Archives: Matthew Benham

Could this player be a free transfer signing to complete the promotion push?

23 Jun

Saturday was immense. Brentford thumped Fulham (plus ça change) before West Bromwich Albion dropped points. Then it got to Sunday and Leeds United fell apart, again. This time at a Cardiff City side who now find themselves right on the verge of the play-off pack. The only way the last few days could have gone any better would have been an air traffic control strike in the immediate vicinity of Manchester City during the Burnley game. What a bunch of pricks. Something we’re not totally immune to either, going by some of the weekend social media commentary – kudos to Ollie Watkins for saying what he did in such eloquent and restrained style.

On pitch, it really was a chance to see who was going to hit the ground running and who wanted it more. To discover how this mini-season will play out as the run towards promotion concludes in a concentrated burst of non-stop action. Brentford, of course, started at 100mph as Fulham were put to the sword once more. We’ve talked about that one already and whilst it was quite the finish, the points are on the board and we move on. Let’s not dwell in the past anymore. There’s the small matter of West Bromwich Albion coming to Griffin Park on Friday night.

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Fulham – put to the sword

It is a visit made all the more tantalising by not only the Baggies dropping points but the ‘L’ awarded to Leeds United after they went down in Cardiff. Should the Bees make it three in a row on Friday (and a game against the table toppers is no foregone conclusion) then it will see us overtake the Cottagers to start breathing down the neck of the Elland Road outfit. Not that they have any tradition of choking when the pressure is on.

There is the added incentive of those two teams then playing each other on Saturday afternoon in a game which, if ‘automatic’ is a genuine aspiration for Brentford, will see a win for the Michael Jackson fan club as the least bad outcome.

That’s all ifs, buts and maybes of course. Football rarely goes to plan and even moreso at present. The club are doing all they can to make the fans feel as involved as possible. The I-follow is ‘up and running’, supporter banners and flags are being put into position whilst they are even producing a match day programme for the remaining home games. The article for that one was submitted on Saturday evening. All being well the celebratory mood not impacting the quality too much. Hic. Please note: your definition of quality may vary.

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Yet despite our engagement, watching on TV is no substitute for being there. Missing out on this most exciting of run ins is desperately sad. We all know and understand why, of course, but it doesn’t make things any easier. I’d love to be there. We’d all love to be there. Never have I appreciated just how much we’ve taken for granted. Those mid-week Autowindscreen games where it was a case of ‘M’eh – can’t be bothered’. Makes you think in retrospect. Now I’d sell the (metaphorical) family silver or the last existing pack of ‘Griffin Park favourites’ Top Trumps for the chance to see us host West Brom or Wigan Athletic.  

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If Matthew Benham is reading, I’ll swap them for a ticket

Last night I took a walk around Griffin Park. I’d been talking to a fellow supporter about Friday’s game and feeling glum at the thought of missing out, decided a stroll around the stadium would help. We only live a few minutes away so why not? People go to church to reflect. A visit to the Bees is much the same  It’s something I’ve done many times before but feels even more poignant now. Our time here is fast running out and every sight of Griffin Park is cause to drink it all in. Perhaps this would help lift the gloom. 

When we lived on Braemar Road you could see straight through the gap in the stand to the penalty box and home end goal from our bedroom window. Whilst that has since been sealed off, perhaps some hitherto unseen peep hole onto the pitch might be discovered? The network of houses and alleyways around our compact stadium might afford a new glimpse onto the pitch for those truly desperate. 

No chance. Sadly. It was all locked up tighter than the Arsenal wallet. Whilst the pitch was still (kind of visible) from the one obvious spot in the car park, expect that to be sealed off on matchday. TV trucks and security guards, quite possibly with Alsatians named Tintin and Pickles, will be the order of the day. There’s no hope of anyone beyond players, officials and journalists seeing anything in the flesh. Don’t waste your time. 

That said, if Thomas Frank is (somehow) reading then perhaps a suggestion. Whilst the squad is looking formidable, perhaps the one area where we are lacking consistent depth is in the category of slightly over-weight 49 year old goalkeepers. As luck would have it, I tick both those demographics, have my own boots and no plans for Friday night beyond watching TV. If he were to make the call I’d reluctantly ditch my family and Sky to join the squad on a game by game basis. If it helped out, of course.  

Failing that, I take a mean photo of pre-match kits hanging up. Kitman Bob, if you need a hand……

Shirt pictures available. Get your free shirt pictures

Nick Bruzon  

Chief exec confirms Dream Team should return, kit update and stadium news.

18 Apr

Saturday afternoon. 4pm. Brentford fans should be getting ready for a potential promotion deciding second half against Preston North End ( I won’t say in whose favour, given the current state of the paused table) . Instead, all over cyberspace we’re stepping back in time to our victory over the same opposition that saw the Bees finally reach the Championship following the something , something, something penalty against Doncaster the previous season.  And we’ve had to get our main football fix from the morning’s Q&A with Bees Chief Executive ‘Jon’ Reg Varney  – the latest guest in the GPG live webcast hotseat. And the post match celebrations will, instead, be filled with the latest results from the World Cup of Brentford shirts as the polls close at 7pm.

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Jon spoke for a good two hours.

First up, Jon Varney. Just where on earth did two hours go? But enough about the talk through of his career history which opened proceedings. I half expected him to conclude the opening monologue with a Partridge-esque, “Needless to say, I had the last laugh”. Yet, in retrospect, this was the perfect introduction as it gave us mere mortals a peek behind the curtain of a man who has worked in all manner of sporting capacities since leaving school. A man who is a Brentford fan through and through, with name checks to his heroes from the 80s and 90s peppering the conversation. A man who almost didn’t take the role for the simple fact of it interfering with his football weekend. A man who exuded knowledge but, perhaps more importantly, an understanding of what makes the fans tick and how important the club is to us. And vice-versa. 

Following Martin Allen was always going to be a big ask and so fair play to the chief exec for not only stepping up to the plate but then hitting it out of the (Griffin) park. It was captivating. It was emotional. It was honest. It was frank. The questions were broad with nothing really off limits, barring those topics covered off by Phil Giles two weeks ago. Even then, it was more to give everyone from a large audience the chance to get involved. And didn’t we just.

There were updates on the new stadium’s readiness (as good as), test events that were being considered and the preparations / plans for the Barnsley game where we had been in discussion with the Oakwell outfit to limit their supporter numbers in order that more of us could see that last game at Griffin Park. Lionel Road season ticket sales and next steps were covered (payments due for May now looking to be deferred over the three months to July) and even discussion around a relocation for the programme collector’s club. The club was confirmed to be in great financial health over the immediate months and we also talked at length about the possibility of the season being played out behind closed doors. Sadly. 

Should that happen then the list of those looking to don the ballboys’ tracksuit already seems to be growing with even Trevor Inns hoping to pull his Adidas ventex out of the gym locker. Personally, I’ll be going for the ‘mascot’ option. No holding hands with Pontus though – purely for reasons of social distancing. In all seriousness though, should we be unable to attend in person then it seems i-follow will be the way to go.

Yet the big question was one about that perennial favourite on these pages, Sky One’s Dream Team. You may well know the drill in regards to Harchester United (and if not, here’s the main cut and thrust) but Jon’s earlier involvement in the show brought an intriguing possibility to the fore . One supporter proposed that, ”You’ve said how the new stadium gives us new opportunities. You’ve talked about sky and your previous involvement with Dream Team. Could we see the new stadium used to relaunch the show? 

What followed was nothing short of a love letter to the show with the acknowledgment, ”Wouldn’t it be good to get Dream Team back on the screen at the new stadium.” That’s as good as a yes in my eyes. You heard it here first. Well, second after the live chat this morning. Dream Team will return. And it could be filmed at Lionel Road. Possibly.

Certainly, that’s how I understood things. Nothing was actually confirmed. Instead the subsequent elaboration that with football and rugby dominating stadium usage it was unlikely there would be opportunity for anything else was, I can only presume, a cunning smokescreen designed to throw people off the scent.

There was even time for kit talk – that is, when we weren’t hypnotised by Greville Waterman mopping his kitchen floor (never forget when the camera is on). Jon bigged up the wonderful partnership with Umbro and confirmed that next season’s home shirt will be red and white, albeit made of a slightly heavier material than the current version. Adding that he really likes it.

He wouldn’t be drawn on the colour of the away shirt although did confirm that this season’ incarnation was probably out best selling change strip. By contrast, the much loved brown/orange hadn’t sold well. I’m genuinely shocked by this. Who’d have thought that so many fans would have had such strange taste ?

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Greville, the clue is in the word ‘Recording’

Those were the highlights that stuck in my mind. Billy Reeves feed has a great transcript whilst I understand that the full play back will take place in the coming days when the video of today’s event is released. Do take a look. These words won’t do justice to a morning where Jon showed what makes Brentford such a special club. Where the fans are at the forefront of everything. A place where Matthew Benham’s agenda is one that has ‘affordable football’ at the top of the priority list.

Next up is a double header that has the potential to be the best yet – Sam Saunders and Kevin O’Connor. Bring it on. I can’t wait to dip my toes into Saunders territory on Saturday.

As ever, HUGE thanks not just to Jon but also Trevor, the GPG and his team who made this happen. The logistics and behind the scenes stuff to line this up and make it all as seamless as possible are not to be underestimated. Do tune in next Saturday for Sam and Kevin then who knows who might be next up after that….. 

To close out today, have you voted in the World Cup of Brentford Shirts as yet? The Semi-final rounds conclude at 7pm so do feel free to add your opinion. They can be found on Twitter at Brentford In Colour /  @beesincolour.

Here’s The Group of Death to whet your appetite. Enjoy…..

Nick Bruzon

Welcome to the best bus stop in Hounslow. Window slams shut in style.

1 Feb

Brentford travel to Hull City this lunchtime with the transfer window having closed in just about the best way possible. None of our much touted big names have gone, although it was sad to see Josh Clarke depart after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. Instead, Bees Boss Thomas Frank pulled out the half chewed BIC to make a double transfer swoop for Shandon Baptiste and Tariqe Fosu. Both players coming in from Oxford United for a combined undisclosed fee thought to be in the £3m ballpark. Something which, if true, would seem to represent tremendous value – not least going by the reaction of Oxford supporters on social media. There was further good news, although not for today’s hosts, with Jarrod Bowen completing his move to West Ham United and Markus Henriksen joining Bristol City on loan. This, after Kamil Grosicki began the exodus when he switched to the Championship’s current second placed team, West Bromwich Albion.

For Brentford, this would seem to be yet more of the shrewd business that has typified our life in the Championship and before. Matthew Benham and his team once more ahead of the curve. Midfielder Baptiste, just 21,  has already featured 42 times for Oxford whilst Fosu has 10 goals in 33 appearances after the attacker joined the U’s from Charlton over the summer. Now he is a Bee. Baptiste is described by Thomas as having, “Great one-on-one skills in the middle of the pitch. He is energetic, great on the ball and works very hard pressing when we do not have it”. He is the one that fans of both clubs seem to be buzzing about and will certainly add some more beef to midfield. Moreso with Kamo now joining those on the sidelines. As Thomas went on to say, “he looked like a Brentford player.

One would imagine the game at Hull City today is way too soon for either player to even trouble the bench. But then, the team that went down to Tim Robinson and Nottingham Forest on Tuesday will no doubt be looking to prove that the result there was nothing more than a glitch in the matrix. A night when, for once, we were second best to jus abut everyone – our opponents, the officials and gamesmanship. Whether Pontus is available remains to be seen. He was conspicuous by his absence from yesterday’s ‘official’ pictures on social media, but otherwise expect no change.

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Official released this picture of Shandon on Twitter

For Hull City, expect a very different team. The out door has not so much swung as been blown off the hinges. One has to feel for their fans – it is a situation that Brentford have been in many, many times before. Moreso, the Tigers having to suffer the indignity of an alleged £20m bid from West Ham United (a deadline day story that is as much a staple as Harry Redknapp leaning out of his car window) actually coming to fruition instead of being nothing more than the usual rumour. Losing the third top scorer in the division in Jarrod Bowen is going to be a tough enough act to follow. Combine this the departure of Grosicki to West Brom and it really is a case of losing two huge names. Whilst former captain Henriksen may not have overly troubled the scorers recently, this haemorrhaging of players is not what anybody would want heading into a game.

This one is huge. They all are at present but Brentford know that winning the lunchtime kick off will take us within three points of West Bromwich Albion in second. Whilst The Baggies do, of course, have that home banker against Luton Town, they are on somewhat of a wobble at present. Our playing first, in the televised game, could only heap further pressure if we are able to pick up the points that everybody is so desperate to get hold of.

Tuesday night WAS disappointing, no question. But if has been and gone. The excitement last night was palpable, with our star names retained and more talent added to the squad. Are Shandon and Tarique the final pieces in our promotion push? The missing links to drive us over the line and up to the hallowed ground of the Premier League?

To even be having such thoughts still seem ridiculous but you can’t deny what is happening around us. Let’s not kick the opportunity and treat this like the joke that so many outside our club think it is. Instead, this is the time to really go for it. And I can’t wait. We may be (relatively) small but that doesn’t make us any less of a threat.

As Emma Briden nailed it on Twitter yesterday, “Welcome to best bus stop in Hounslow”.

Now bring on Hull City…..

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Nick Bruzon

What would Peter do?

18 Jan

It’s very much two sides of the same Championship coin today. On the one, we’ve Brentford where victory at Huddersfield Town will take us to within four points of table toping West Bromwich Albion. On the other, there’s the somewhat distasteful situation at Loftus Road this lunchtime where Leeds United visit. Nobody ever, ever wants the home team to pick up points there yet, somehow, in this instance would it be the worst thing to happen? As for last night, there was the horror show at Neverland where Fulham hosted Middlesbrough. Not so much the narrowest of 1-0 victories for the hosts but the awful, awful reminder of clappers. If Matthew Benham is reading (unlikely, let’s be honest), please can we make sure that along with goal music and giant flags, these remain on the list of things NEVER to bring to Lionel Road. See also: foam fingers, run out music for the warm up, gin bars, neutral stands, light shows, giant statues of ‘suspect’ individuals.

First up, Brentford. There’s not too much to say on this one today. We know that with West Bromwich Albion playing on Monday night, there’s everything to gain should we get the win. Three points, obviously, but also another chance to increase the psychological pressure on the league leaders. Going into the latest round of fixtures, they’ve only managed to win once in their last 7(seven) league fixtures. Leeds United are once out of 6. It’s a figure we keep repeating but it’s one of vital importance and has seen that 12 point lead slashed. With both teams still to visit Griffin Park, that slim chance of automatic remains within our hands if they continue to assist by falling apart, again.

Which is all well and good but counts for naff all if we can’t complete our piece in the Championship equation. To be honest, even having this conversation seems bonkers but the table doesn’t lie. The Christmas period saw the play-off chasing teams start to get a little bit more clear air and now the focus is in knowing that wins allow us to keep looking upwards rather than over the shoulder. Last time out on the road saw the obliteration of Bristol City, 0-4 at Ashton Gate with Ollie Watkins grabbing a brace. His next goal, on Saturday against QPR, saw him draw level at the top of the divisional goalscoring charts with Aleksander Mitrovic. Today could see him stride clear.

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Ollie and the team are on a hot streak

Could. Of course, Huddersfield Town are no slouches. Anything but. We saw in November how they have set up and it wasn’t a great game. Brentford are designed to play free-flowing, attacking football with a rock solid core and defence. It’s fair to say on that afternoon, The Terriers embodied the term ‘industrial’. But, there’s no knocking them. Deep in the relegation they did what they had to and got the points. At the end of the day, Clive, the records books will show that they won. We lost. Knowing that you can be amazing is secondary if you are out played or outmuscled on the afternoon. Which is what happened and I won’t criticise anybody for doing what they need to do to win a game. No matter how desperate a spectacle it was for the home fans. Huddersfield didn’t care and why would they? Boot on the other foot and we’d rightly be celebrating the win. Frankly, if we don’t have the nous to get past that then we have to call it a learning curve and push on from there. Knowing that, at times, we won’t have everything our way.

To be fair, push on is what we’ve done. The quagmire of Millwall aside, it’s been nothing but great times for the last few months. The Bees have climbed the table and reeled in almost all above us. Only Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and (temporarily) Fulham remain. For all the cracks about the top two falling apart, even they’ll pick up the points this time around. QPR crumbled under the slightest pressure last week – blown over by a puff of wind – whilst West Brom face a Stoke City side that have just offloaded their most overlooked asset, Ryan Woods, to Millwall on loan.

I’d love to have gone in to today in third place but it makes no real difference. We’ll reclaim that spot with a draw or win and, being honest, watching the Fulham game last was one done very much with hands in front of the eyes. Not so much through concern about the result (they were always going to pick up points) but more because of the cringeworthy clappers. They were out in force, again, with Tarquin, Piers and the rest of the gang beating their flappers as though it was the most exciting thing since being invited into the audience of Mrs. Browns Boys. 

My word, does this club have no shame? And people wonder why they are considered a laughing stock. Clappers, foam fingers, bells, drums and flags belong where the sun don’t shine. Not in a football stadium. If you think these generate an atmosphere or are some sort of personality substitute then take a long, hard look.

As for the starters before the main course of Brentford – Huddersfield Town, there’s the small matter of QPR – Leeds United for lunch. I have to look long term here and hope for an away defeat, no matter how awful that may seem. I guess the question here is, ‘What would Peter do’?

It’s one we may have to ask…

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Could jigsaw side Leeds fall apart in the box, again?

Nick Bruzon

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

11 Jan

Saturday morning. Brentford are set to host QPR in a few hours time. The chance to inflict one more Griffin Park defeat on our near neighbours too delicious an opportunity to ignore. The potential of closing the gap between Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and ourselves to a mere six points an even bigger incentive. Whilst both of those have eminently winnable games later today, keeping the heat on two teams who have only picked up a single win apiece out of their last five and six Championship games respectively is no bad thing in the psychological stakes.  Assuming, of course, we do our thing !

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Another of these would be lovely

My word, this is what football is all about. The QPR fans can pretend it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen plenty of talk from their supporters making out that this is no derby, that there is nothing between our respective sides and that any talk of rivalry with Brentford is something purely played out in our heads.

Really? It didn’t feel that way when we were trashing the pants off them (again) at Loftus Road earlier in the season – you can stop crying now. When they tried to put us out of existence and move in back in 1967. When Martin Rowlands was kissing the badge – hopefully a doctor has now helped clear up the infection. When they were deriding us for our bus stop status. When there is a mere 5.2 miles (aka a short hop on the 237) separating our two grounds. Make that 4.2 miles next season when we move in to Lionel Road.

Try telling me it doesn’t matter

With Brentford flying high and achieving success within our means rather than incurring the huge fines that come with overspending it smacks of jealousy. With the Bees all set to move into a state of the art stadium whilst our neighbours languish in their matchbox it stinks of bitterness. With The Bees having a visionary owner rather than being a club going through the motions and struggling for a Plan B it reeks of huge inferiority complex. 

Yes, I’ll absolutely acknowledge they’ve been in the top flight more often than us and have been picked up the odd piece of silverware. Well done. Congratulations. That was then. This is now. Live on former glories at your peril. We’ve bided our time, caught them with their pants down and are now the biggest and best Championship club in West London. That’s beyond doubt – if for no other reason, the table doesn’t lie. Their supporters can pretend it doesn’t matter or doesn’t hurt all they want. I’m not having a bar of it. To borrow a line from Hamlet (Shakespeare. rather than the cigars), “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

As such, I’ll take particular pleasure in really raising the roof at Griffin Park today. Of knowing how important this game is. Of relishing how extra special it feels every time we beat the lices of QPR or Fulham. How extra sweet those points taste in games of this nature every time we add another three to our total. I’m not alone, either. Griffin Park is sure to be a cauldron of noise. If the QPR fans want to kid themselves it doesn’t matter and prefer to take their own game of Loftus Road library simulator on the road then all the better.

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It’s all gone quiet over there – again.

Ok – I’m not a complete idiot and fully appreciate that going gung-ho comes with it’s own risks. Yet this is how I feel about this one. To be honest, this is how genuinely confident I am every time The Bees run out to play at present. Regardless of opposition. Matthew Benham and his team have transformed this club. Every time we think we’ve seen a ‘best ever’ Brentford, they just go and reinvent the model (no pun intended). The football being played is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Goals flying in and the meanest defence in the division. Scintillating attack combined with a back line that oozes confidence. That’s not arrogance but a simple fact borne out by the statistics at the top of the table. That early season wobble as we found our feet nothing more than a hazy memory. For crying out loud, back then we even lost to Birmingham City….

So yes, these comments obviously come with a fair amount of home bias. With lashings of self-belief in what we do. Of course they will – it’s a Brentford blog page and we’re playing some quite incredible football at present. If that upsets anybody well tough. Get over it.  Everything we have done so far has been on absolute merit. That’s not to say the job is done. Anything but. Pride comes before a fall and if we even take our foot off the gas slightly or think a game is won before it kicks off then that’s a recipe for disaster. Thomas Frank will remind the players of that. For the supporters, our job – no, our privilege – is the chance to keep it loud and enjoy this moment. Every week sees our time at Fortress Griffin Park grow ever shorter. Let’s make sure we go out on a high.

My word. Hurry up 12.30pm. I can’t wait. Genuinely can’t wait. There’ll be Kevin Keegan levels of loving it if we do what I know we can. Bring it on and see you there.

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I’d love it etc etc etc

Nick Bruzon

Welcome to Brentford 2.0

7 Jan

With all the Brentford related on-pitch buzz at present being about the visits of Leicester City and the 237 derby (FA Cup and Championship, respectively), there’s something even bigger happening off it. No – not the transfer window. Move along, nothing to see there. Fact. 

Of course, Monday saw the club launch their latest caption competition (one can hope) as Peter Gilham was pictured wearing a VR headset for his own personal game of Lionel Road simulator (one can hope).  The reason being that the ‘regular’ season tickets for our new home have now gone on sale and, it has to be said, that having been along to the reservations centre myself this morning things are incredibly slick. The whole process was ludicrously easy, hands on and engaging. Being honest, I’d feared the worst when my appointment as our group ‘representative’ was confirmed. The phrase ’It’s Brentford, innit’ lives long in the mind. Reputations take an age to build and a moment to destroy. 

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Virtual Reality. Whatever that is

Instead, we got Brentford 2.0.  The biggest sales pitch of our communal lives has just kicked off but the whole team seem intent on making this as user friendly as possible.  

Current seating is being replicated as closely as possible. Groups are being organised. Phone calls made in advance to remind us of the pertinent additional info to bring – namely, photo ID for the U-16s / seniors. I still forgot but was saved by the joy of tech. The club and sales team at great lengths to make the whole experience as painless and simple a process as possible. 

If anything, this is a wonderful opportunity for displaced friends to reorganise themselves and finally get a chance to sit together after years of being split up, save for the 15 minute beer run at half time. It is an opportunity the club seem hell bent on grabbing. The Ealing Road becoming the West Stand. Groups of singers put together. A chance to really build an atmosphere that replicates what we have at present. Then cranks it up to 11. 

I even got my hands on Peter’s VR head set to check out the view from my prospective new vantage point. That looks good. Very good. Sadly, there was no smell-o-vision option to see if the phantom trumper from Ealing Road would be in close proximity. Or, should that be trumpers? Rumour has it they are Balti fuelled brothers. Instead, we’ll just wish good luck to those in the West Stand…..

Me waxing lyrical isn’t going to impact your decision to buy a season ticket. That’s not the agenda here. I don’t have one, anyway. I’m not employed by the club and am nothing more than a fan who clogs up your timeline with a pile of crumby observations and the odd photo. Yet this is a key moment in our rapidly evolving history and one which I cannot believe has been undertaken so seamlessly. 

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Let the seat sales commence

I WAS stressed up front and won’t pretend otherwise. This is a crunch decision. A massive moment. The opportunity to cock it up, huge. There’s no stadium to walk around yet (at least, not which we are allowed in to) and so we really are relying on good faith and computer simulation. Walking past the site on a daily basis I’m still amazed that we’ve been able to fit our new home into what seemed a tiny plot of land.

Yet, yet, yet… so far, so very, very good. It is there. It is happening. Judging by the seat maps on display we’ve plenty of choice of where to sit. Going on the intent to match current views at Griffin Park as much as possible at Lionel Road, the club’s aim is clearly 110% about accommodating supporters. Keeping us happy.  The team are informed, on board and they get it. They get that this is as huge for us as it is for them. 

There’s not much else to say beyond the fact that if you want to get in, you will. If you want to see Brentford, you will. There will be no pillars on the way. No TV gantries blocking the view. Nothing to hinder your enjoyment. 

Roll on August. Roll on our first game. What price that being in the Premier League?     

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Finally – a ‘signing’ photo. No half chewed biro though

Nick Bruzon

Frank is sense. Christmas gifts see Bees go third.

27 Dec

What an afternoon. Brentford ended the day sitting third in the Championship after Swansea City were the latest to be on the receiving end of a Griffin Park trouncing. A brace from Ollie Watkins and another goal for Bryan Mbeumo putting this one out of sight, despite a tired second half flurry from the visitors. With Leeds United falling apart (again), the gap to ‘automatic’ is now down to single figures – 8 points being the difference. Even then, they needed an 89th minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to rescue a point at home to Preston. With West Bromwich Albion (Barnsley) and Fulham (Luton) both drawing against the divisional whipping boys and Sheffield Wednesday going down to Stoke City, our rivals for the top spots formed an orderly queue to take their turn of delivering The Bees a Christmas gift. Specifically that of doing us a favour. The thought of our trip to Millwall on Sunday has suddenly become very appealing (not a typo).

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Thomas enjoys the moment at Full Time

You’ve all seen the action, presumably. Either as part of a packed Griffin Park or c/o the Sky coverage that meant our game went out live to the nation yesterday. At least, the part that doesn’t want their live action left in a recycling box or sitting on the doorstep. Otherwise, the official highlights are further below. Mbeumo opened proceedings early on. Guiding home a corner that had been headed back across the face of goal by an unmarked Ethan Pinnock. The big man, who had retained his place alongside the returning Pontus Jansson, doing magnificently to make the room and plop it straight on to Bryan’s head.

Twenty minutes gone and 1-0 up. There was barely time for anybody taking a toilet break to get back to their seats before the lead was double. None other than Ollie Watkins. The striker, and that’s what he is, grabbing a true poacher’s goal as he stuck out a leg to steer a Rico Henry cross past the despairing Freddy Woodman in the away goal. 2-0 and, surely, that was it?

Well, yes. Although being Brentford we had a little moment just after the hour when David Raya was unable to smother a shot from Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew was closest to the loose ball. Urghh. With that, the Swans got their tails up. But rather than breaking Brentford’s arm with their wing men, it was the Bees who broke their spirits. The pressure was, as ever, contained and Ollie Watkins wrapped things up. Sprinting clear, he charged down on the goal to make things safe as we headed towards injury time. There was to be no sweating on the result. No clenched buttocks. No last minute stress. The final whistle a perfunctory noise greeted with ecstasy rather than relief. And that was before we checked ‘other results’.

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The Bees were dominant

Honestly, one can’t even begin to describe the mood around the place at present. EVERYBODY has faith. Has confidence. The players are calm under pressure and exhilarating on the ball. The fans lapping it up. Peter Gilham losing his shit on the public address system. Each announcement becoming more and more enthused.

The piece about him in The Guardian yesterday described how he was offered a script but refused it. Thank goodness. We all know how incredible he is but to hear his joy transmit to the fans and the players is all a part of what is helping make our success. Even at half time, he stood there with mic in hand, not even lifting it to his lips until he had clapped everybody off and into the changing room. You may not have noticed this in the rush for the beer queue and the ablutions block but I stood and watched. What a man. The beating heart of our club.

But then, what a team. Matthew Benham’s genius and Thomas Frank’s approach have delivered up a squad that is the envy of all. A team built on a metaphorical shoe string (relatively), with a makeshift centre forward, that continue to defy expectation. At least, of those looking in. We’ve seen this coming for years. The diamonds unearthed and sold on. Their replacements being even better than before. The momentum building. The confidence high. 

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Safe to say that this performance was well received

Yet this feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. Even under the continuing highs that we’ve been served up over the last ten seasons. Now, I expect to win every game. That’s not arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s a reflection in the ability that this team has. The perfect blend of youth and experience. Unfettered skill allowed to run riot. Wise heads at the back to give guiding advice. Pontus is our big name at the back but don’t overlook Henrik Dalsgaard either. His lungs must be be gargantuan.

Next up Millwall (away) on Sunday. What an opportunity awaits if we can carry on doing what we’ve done so far. Then it’s Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Whilst one doesn’t like to look too far ahead, that game is mentioned more as an incentive (should any, somehow, be needed) for that trip to the New Den. After we run out at Ashton Gate,  West Bromwich Albion host Leeds United. Either way, something has to give.

For now, though, it’s a period of reflection. Of enjoying what was a quite incredible end to 2019 at Griffin Park. There’s the short hop to South-East London on Sunday and with it, the opportunity to carry on this enjoying this fantastic period. I’m sorry, the words are kind of failing me this morning. I’m sitting here with a huge grin on the face at this obscene hour of the day. I’m about to head back to work but the thought of commuting is, for once, not the usual harbinger of doom and gloom that comes with rising at this time of the day. Instead, there’s a big smile and a genuine feeling of well being. That’s down to Peter. To Thomas. To Matthew. To Bryan. To Ollie. To Henrik, Pontus, Josh, Ethan and the rest of the team. 

That’s down to everyone. THANK YOU. See you on Sunday… Until then, here’s the action once more

 

Nick Bruzon

Crisis club in tailspin? Are fans revolting?

8 Dec

Sheffield Wednesday 2 Brentford 1. 

Sack the board. Spend £100million. Benham out. Frank out. It’s disaster. Nooooo. You don’t want to go up etc etc.

That’s one response to yesterday’s game I suppose. Some people may feel that way. Not me.

Personally speaking, I’m of the ‘everybody just calm down’ school of thought this morning. We lost a game. Away. To a team who are at the business end of the table for good reason. We might have won. Perhaps we should have drawn. But that’s not how football works. They scored twice. We scored once. We were missing two World Cup players. Arguably the most experienced members of our squad. We’ve still got one of the youngest and most exciting teams in the division. We’re ninth in the Championship. We’re three points off Nottingham Forest in fifth place. We move into Lionel Road in little over eight months time. We’ve back to back home games approaching – Cardiff City and then Fulham on Saturday. 

Football life is good. Very good. Enjoy the moment. Ride the wave. I’d love to have won it yesterday but it’s not the end of the world. Anything but. Come back to me in May if you think there is any form of crisis. There isn’t, for the record.

Besides, from my perspective there’s another reason for yesterday’s defeat. Pick up Wednesday’s programme to find out why. Or just look at Twitter.

See you then.

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Nothing more than a temporary glitch

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

 

A dismal morning and a dank afternoon as the form team keep on rolling.

3 Nov

No goals. No points. No complaints. Huddersfield Town came to Griffin Park on Saturday to round off a disappointing day of sport in our house. A day that had begun so brightly with the prospect of the Rugby World Cup final ended with defeat for both England and Brentford. For the Bees, a 0-1 home reverse came at the end of a game in which chances were at a premium and, it would be fair to say, Danny Cowley and his Terriers did a well drilled job on us. Creativity was stifled, the clock run down and the chance taken. Fair play to them. The Championship’s form team keep on rolling.

It was a really odd one to sit through. A nothing of a game where The Bees struggled to get out of second gear. The cold and rain not helping matters but certainly no excuse for our somewhat out of character inability to shine. The mercurial touches and wonder goals of theist few weeks nothing but a distant memory. The game, definitely one for the purists where Huddersfield did exactly what they needed to.

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View from the Braemar – a slippery pitch and tough conditions

Being honest, I’m struggling to remember much. Even having sat through the sub two minute highlight package. Something which, compared to the five or six minutes we sometimes get, tells you all you need to know about a turgid afternoon in dank conditions. Perhaps it was the early start to proceedings which saw pub breakfast taken in front of the rugby at 9am that left many of us feeling jaded. Nonchalant. Ambivalent even. And definitely nothing to do with the Guinness that washed down my sausages.

Besides, that early start time was perfectly legitimate. There are three social occasions breakfast alcohol is acceptable  – the last half hour before a wedding, as you wait with the groom in the pub across the road from the church. Crossing through passport control at an airport ; the exact split second that the laws of time are suspended and it’s five o’clock. Somewhere. Or the finals of a Southern hemisphere sporting event. Yesterday fitting into that last category where, perhaps, the result against a brutally strong team who out-thought their opponents could have been taken as some form of omen.

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It was five o’clock. Somewhere

Yet whatever the trigger yesterday, and whether the two were in any way connected, it just never felt like it was going to happen on the pitch. A game where subs were desperately needed but even their arrival did little to alter the path of an encounter that, once the visitors had taken the lead via Karlan Grant, Brentford never looked like getting back into.

Even then, the winner was a soft one. Nobody picking up a player who now sits just one goal, behind Ollie Watkins, occupying third place in the Championship leading scorers table. Nobody then closing him down as he hit one low past David Raya and into the far corner on the hour. It was one of few real caches, for either team, and it was the one that mattered. From that point on there was huff, puff, endeavour and desperation but nothing happened. Brentford very much flaccid in their attack. Huddersfield, operating the clock with all the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Parking the bus with all the finesse of Jose Mourinho. The Bees had no way through. It wasn’t to be.

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Brentford had no way through the rain or The Terriers

Off the field of play, things were as wonderful as ever.  The opportunity to catch up with friends and even some of our regular visitors from the away contingent – always a pleasure. Bumping into the wonderful Woody and his family for a chat as the players went through their warm up routine. What a fantastic young man he is.

Then, a chance encounter saw HB offered a trip to the dressing room pre-kick off to talk tactics with Thomas Frank. Only at Brentford does this sort of thing happen. Long may it continue. I am sure the result was totally unconnected. Besides, any input offered by Harry would likely have been limited to the words Sergi and Canos.

Instead, we go away from this one empty handed. Any solace taken being in the fact that the table is still ridiculously tight. Victory yesterday would have taken us to the fringes of the play of race. Instead, we remain a mere four points off of fifth place. The season is stil far too young  – little over a quarter of the way through – to determine which way it will go . With 93 points still to play for, you can be sure this one is going to have plenty of twists and turn before we finish up against Barnsley in May.

For now, it wasn’t to be. Well played Huddersfield Town. Roll on Saturday and our trip to Wigan Athletic where, all being well, normal goalscoring service will resume.

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Pick Sergi. Then Canos. Sergi Canos. S Canos etc

Nick Bruzon

If Saturday was crazy, that was just unbelievable…

23 Oct

I can’t call this tonight. The heart says Brentford. The table says Swansea. The Championship says anything can happen. All I’ll say for sure is that it can’t be as awful as last season. It can’t be exciting as Millwall. Can it…..? 

Those, the last words written on these pages yesterday as Brentford prepared for their trip to the Liberty stadium. They were words written on the back of last season’s record against Swansea which had read:  P3 L3 Goals scored 3 Goals against 10.

Yet they were also words written in the aftermath of that scintillating comeback and eventual victory over Millwall on Saturday. A game that will live long in the memory for those fortunate enough to have been present. One that social media, amongst other sources, has helped draw those who missed out into the communal outpouring of excitement that continued long after the final whistle had blown.

And boy, what a way to kick on from there. What a way to pick up that ball and run with the momentum of confidence. A 3-0 win on the road for The Bees lifting us up into the top half of the table and a mere four points from the play-off zone. And we’ve not even had the chance to become #Novemberkings yet. Urghh, feel so dirty. Should have just said it’s still October. 

The scoreline was emphatic. The preference and quality of the goals equally so. The first coming from Saïd Benrahma, curling home from the edge of the box. It was a finish to match any of his ten from last season as he opened his account this time around. His return to fill fitness very much being rewarded with a continuation of where he left off last time out.

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The moment, captured on film

It was two before half time. Special agent Jake Bidwell firing home from the penalty spot, under pressure from Ollie Watkins.  The own goal from our former skipper something that even the YouTube highlights describe as almost being as though he meant it. I’m sure he didn’t. I’d have been amazed if he could. Who cares though. As we’ve said many, many times before – balls in the back of the net are the only thing that count. No matter how they get there.

Thanks, Jake. Thanks everyone.

The best was yet to come. Bryan Mbuemo with a quite ridiculous third. Running through the Swansea midfield before firing home with a sublime finish on the diagonal. If we’re going to quote yesterday’s column, and frankly why not, then I’l crave forgiveness for a little more self-indulgence with the observation that “Bryan Mbuemo is looking as though he could be our latest hidden gem, unearthed.   To put it mildly, the French U-21 would seem to have found his feet in the Championship. What perfect timing with the trip to Shepherds Bush next up.

If Millwall was an ‘I was there’ moment then, being honest, this was probably more the case of ‘I wasn’t there’. Not surprisingly, the number of visiting fans seemed thin on the ground judging by the shots afforded us in the highlights reel. The final report on ‘official’ counts it at 215. Hats off to each and every one of them.  Their reward, a fine victory and having the pleasure of seeing Mbuemo fire home that splendid final goal at the away end.

It could have been better. Sleight of foot and almost interplay between Benrahma and Watkins that seemed almost choreographed ended up with the Algerian curling one just wide of the far post. It was a moment of magic to rival a drunken Paul Daniels and Hans Moretti firing crossbow bolts at the lovely Debbie McGee. The finish was almost as deadly.  Metaphorically speaking. That one’s on the highlight reel too. Benrahma rather than Daniels. Paul rather than Luke. Do check it out.

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Debbie – lovely

There’s not much more to say. On a game where Swansea City dominated the possession and the shots on target, it was Brentford who came away with all three goals and all three points. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere but it’ll take greater intellect than this numpty on the terrace to work it out.

It was a stunning result. It’s been a magnificent few days. Here’s to Monday evening. Here’s hoping another former Bee or two can pick up where Jake left off. Better still that Bryan, Saïd, Ollie and the rest of the gang do the same. 

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More of the same would do nicely on Monday

Nick Bruzon