Tag Archives: Matthew Benham

You’re Donald Trump, you are !! Although if Channel 4 are reading….

23 Oct

You don’t want to get into Europe Brentford. Frank out. Where’s the money, Benham? Fans were in outrage last night after the Bees slipped to tenth in the Premier League table. Last week’s mugging by Chelsea followed up by a win for Arsenal (not a typo) over Aston Villa in the weekend’s opening fixture. It was a result that saw the Gunners overtake the Bees prior to our game with Leicester City. That one held back until Sunday to allow for Foxes in Europe (if ever a TV series was just waiting to be made  – Edward, Amelia, Ruel, Megan and Michael J travelling around our favourite continent in a charabanc. Hilarity and chaos ensue. Lifelong friendships are forged. Brush and Fox get their own spin off series as a maverick detective and his ‘by the book’ partner) although their quite amazing 3-4 win at Spartak Moscow a game which eventually took place on Wednesday evening. Clearly, nobody was Russian back home.    

Foxes in Europe. We’d watch it? Yes? Maybe? Err….

Wastes half an hour on another flight of photoshop fantasy…..

All of which brings us back to reality. Of course there’s nobody calling for Thomas’s head (this season – we heaven’t forgotten….) and Channel 4 are unlikely to commission a fly on the wall road trip. Albeit I’d pay good  / some money to see Basil Brush giving it his all at St. Basil’s Cathedral. Oh Mr. Derek, will you ever learn? And instead, we’ve got the quite delicious prospect of Brentford V Leicester City to look forward to. Bring it on.

A game which comes hot on the heels of our own showdown with Chelsea last weekend. A game where I am still dumbfounded as to just how the equaliser failed to go in. Bravo, Edouard Mendy. What a ‘keeper. But the frustrating fact is that despite the best efforts of referee come panto villain Anthony Taylor, Brentford came away with nothing. League leaders Chelsea kept their place at the top of the table. That’s football. We put it behind us. Crying won’t change anything and, at least, we might get a decent referee this time.

Curse that ‘keeper. And that post

Checks fixture list. It’s Simon Hooper. Adopts foetal position and sobs gently on the kitchen floor. Simon ‘flipping’ Hooper. A man we crossed swords with many times in the EFL prior to his ascendency to the top flight. A man up there with Mr. Stroud in the ‘names to fear‘ list. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. 

Hey, perhaps things are different now. Maybe he has become more settled? Here’s hoping. Moreso because a look back through the Last Word archives brings a somewhat frustrating reminder of just why there’s a need to be cautious. So, instead of talking more about the game we’ll wrap up here for the day and leave you with a selection of his greatest hits…..

For starters..

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

How about….?

Man of the match Lewis Macleod and Ryan Woods pulling the strings in the middle whilst referee Simon Hooper pulled our legs erm, in the middle. His sending off of substitute Romaine Sawyers for two yellow cards, the second of which was softer than than the avalanche of snowflakes that filled the air, rounded off a poor afternoon for the man in black. The visiting players surrounding a referee who should have been stronger after what was, at best, an accidental coming together. Yet his missing the opportunity to insist on an orange ball (one day, it will come back) should have perhaps warned us what to expect.

Then there’s our headline (that’ll be what sitting near Alex ‘Angry Dad’ Austin does. The culprit remains nameless…)

“You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Moving swiftly on….

And, as ever, we start at Griffin Park where there isn’t a huge amount to add off a game where referee Simon Hooper dominated affairs. A shame, as it meant that first time around  we were denied moments such as this…..

And one last hit…

Talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

Bring it on. I think. See you there. Hoping a leopard has changed his spots…

Come on Simon. Please prove us wrong.

Nick Bruzon

Bee keeper (outer) wins plaudits and game. What an evening at Lionel Road.

17 Oct

It was hell on Earth, the last 20 minutes”. Not my words Carol, but those of Chelsea goalscorer Ben Chilwell. Ordinarily a phrase used to describe being in the studio audience for a recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys but this time a reference to Brentford throwing the kitchen sink, and more, towards the impregnable goal at the West Stand of Lionel Road. My word. With the Bees trailing to the England man’s piledriver just prior to half-time, it was a final phase of gameplay as intense as just about any ever seen. Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was in inspired form, using everything from his hands to his face to keep Brentford out.  When he was finally beaten there was Trevoh Chalobah to clear off the line, Bryan Mbeumo saw one crash back off the post (not for the first time this game) whilst there were more scrambles than an early 80’s video arcade. That’s before you even chuck the machinations of ‘referee’ Anthony Taylor into the mix. Cripes, he was utterly horrific. The Bees were incredible but came away with nothing beyond heads held high. Moreso given the earlier results which saw fellow promoted team Watford absolutely hammered at home to Liverpool. 5-0 to the visitors the final score there.

Crudely photoshopped match analogy. Sorry, but it’s too early for quality control.

What can you say? The usual phrases of pride and deserving to win. Perhaps this is what Dean Smith means when he uses his oft quoted line. But we didn’t. Frustratingly. Brentford dominated the later stages of the second half to such an extent that, surely, it was only a matter of time before the equaliser came? Surely? The arrival of Marcus Forss for Frank the Tank giving new impetus and drive as we took the game to Chelsea. Yet every time we broke, there was a wall of blue to somehow keep it out. There was Mendy, that magnificent man in orange, to pull of a series of worldies that had Bees fans so far off the edge of our seats we cold have been on the pitch with them. Willing the ball in and kicking every ball alongside.

When Christian Norgaard suddenly found room in stoppage time, his control and bicylce kick had an almost slow motion feel to them. Matrix style bullet time playing out around us as the Dane positioned himself, caught the ball on his chest and executed a quite wondrous strike with his back to goal. Yesssss!!!! 1-1. Nooooooooo….  There was Mendy to get an outstretched hand to it and push the ball on to the bar. An incredible effort and a save equal to it. A save better than any he had already pulled off and showing why there is such uproar at his lack of nomination for the Ballon d’Or .

It was intensity like none seen before. The team willed on by another vociferous Lionel Road crowd as we chased a game that had looked for so long like slipping away. Chelsea started this one with Brentford not even able to get close. Given no room to make space as the European Champions pinged it around with ease and snuffed out any attempt by the Bees to push forward as easily as blowing out a candle. We weren’t even second but then, as against Liverpool,  confidence arrived and we were in a game. Bryan hit the post in a crowded box when for a moment it seemed he would emulate Ethan in that previous home game. Immediately, Chelsea stormed down the other end for Romelu Lukaku to find the back of the net, only to be denied by the Lino’s flag. 

But with the game alive and Brentford, at times, feeling as though we were hanging in there, Chilwell was left unattended on the edge of the box and hammered one through a crowd of players, past the despairing dive of David Raya and into the back of the net. A thunderbolt shot and nothing that could be done the moment it left his boot. It had been coming. The visitors dominant in that opening period but never quite striding clear, until now. Referee Anthony Taylor beginning to earn the wrath of the home fans. Something that only escalated as the game progressed.

For those among us grateful at Keith Stroud missing out on promotion to the top flight, be careful what you wish for. Taylor was everything the Chelsea supporters had built him up to be and beyond. Ivan Toney in particular given zero protection from an official set to random. 

There are no words to describe how seemingly inept he was. Hey, perhaps things look different at pitch level. Likewise, the approach adopted by Chelsea to counter our second half resurgence. Next level shithousery with players tumbling like skittles and clocks being run down for fun. Actually, I’ve no complaints about any team trying this. It’s a facet to our game that until recently (how are those gloves, David?)  has been long missing and if the ref is going to be this spineless then why not do anything you can to disrupt the flow? 

What is more telling is the fact that the Champions of Europe and league leaders had no choice but to resort to his level of gamesmanship against us. Against Brentford. There was no wining by outplaying the opposition but more in grinding the game down. As Mrs Bruzon said afterwards, “I’ve never seen them have to do that.” Perhaps we don’t watch enough TV football or maybe MOTD airbrush the cynicism away. For me Clive, that’s the biggest mark of respect we could have earned.

Close but, in the end, no cigar. Bees fans are talking about how proud they are and, whilst that is true, I’m ultimately left with a huge feeling of what might have been. We should have had a point and the fact we were kept at bay after playing so well is about as frustrating as it comes. You don’t get anything for being plucky. For playing out of your skin. By having some dubious moral justification to have earned something. Instead, its balls in the back of the net that count and despite the clear heroics, Chilwell’s howitzer was the ultimate difference between the teams.

We’ll learn from it. The key thing now is how we take what we’ve done, bottle it and then uncork the stopper when Leicester City come to visit next week. Brentford WERE immense. There’s no point crying over spilt points. Instead, its about picking ourselves up and using that combination of perceived injustice and what we’ve achieved so far this season to go forward.

And if you need a yardstick as to how well we are doing, then we only have to check the results from earlier in the day. Of course, our last home game had been that titanic 3-3 with Liverpool. They were back in the capital (or its hinterlands) for a trip to Watford. That one ended with the visitors humping the Hornets 5-0. Mo Salah with the pick of the bunch, waltzing through the home defence, the ball tied to his foot with a piece of string.

So, yes. I am feeling hard done by this morning. It was a stunning game of football and one has to acknowledge who we were up against. Compared to Watford and Norwich who both finished above us in last season’s Championship, Brentford have so far looked the strongest by a country mile. So far. The season still has along way to go but if we carry on like this then things are going to be alright. Just as long as the injuries don’t bite…

Until then, here’s to Brentford. Here’s to the Champions of Europe. Here’s to a visit from Leicester City. Bring them on and see you there.

Bryan was denied by the post. Twice. This one in the second half

Nick Bruzon

Is this the Chelsea starting XI? Time for more football romance and stupid dreams.

16 Oct

Silly o’clock. Been awake since 3.37am and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, going on at this ungodly hour. Mrs B and little H are both fast asleep. Even Bentley the cat is yet to howl the house down at the first tread on a creaky floorboard. The internet has been surfed and vinyl I can’t afford bought. Hey, those Bluetones records missing from the collection aren’t going to buy themselves. Brentford shirts are yet to be acquired but the usual sites have a dearth of anything even vaguely interesting. We’ve got Chelsea this evening and I’d love to say the early start is due to excitement at the prospect of their visit but it isn’t. Nothing more than a warped body clock combined with good old fashioned insomnia. Hurrah! 

On the plus side, it IS the weekend. We’re back in action and at the time of writing, social media is already a litany of anticipation. Trips to Lionel Road already underway (Paul Ridley via Barcelona, we’re looking at you in particular) but there is also trepidation about referee Anthony Taylor building. Primarily from the Chelsea fans, it seems. Is there some beef there? 

Goes to Internet. Checks. Ah, yes. It would appear to be the case. The Daily Mail – with apologies for adding to their ‘hits’  – describes Mr Taylor as the club’s ‘nemesis’. Blues fans apparently ‘dreading’ the return of a man they launched a petition against after sending off Reece James for hand ball in the season opener with Liverpool. 

Been there. Done that. Had Keith Stroud on numerous occasions. Pain shared. Albeit attempting the route of petition is a step not even Brentford fans have undertaken. A gesture as futile as having a studio audience for a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Any ‘laughs’, surely, coming from the canned track.   

Blue isn’t the colour

Of more importance is who Chelsea run out with today. Good luck getting that right. The usual barometer of starting XI selection, Fantasy Football scout, is predicting several absences (Ampadu, Batshuayi, Thiago Silva, Emerson, Pulisic and Rüdiger aswell as several doubts). You can read their full fat appraisal here. However, even accounting for missing faces it is a line up that still looks immense. What hope do Brentford have in stoping this? In winning the West London derby and stopping our visitors from setting a record of 7(seven) wins on the bounce again teams in the capital. Aside from Anthony Taylor?

Predicted line up from FF scout

Well the great news is that Kris Ajer and Vitaly Janelt are both fit again after missing out at West Ham. Oh, those salty tears from the home fans are still as sweet as they were two weeks ago. Wissa you bloody genius. Shandon Baptiste misses out – a dislocated shoulder will do that to you – but otherwise we’re all good. A central three of Vitaly, Frank the Tank and Christian Norgaard is about as obvious as it comes. Rico and Sergi as wing backs with Ivan and Bryan up top. I can’t imagine any surprises from Thomas with a line up that should have the right balance of silk and steel to upset the bookies (still 26/5), the record books and the opposition.

Hey, one can dream. You have to though. The whole Premier league experience has been so utterly ridiculous thus far that why not keep on riding the crazy train? Wishful thinking and blind optimism have long overtaken common sense and logic. Results coming the way of a team and fanbase who are having nothing but fun. An experienced squad, bolstered by shrewd aquisitions, playing out of their skins in a consequence free environment. Nobody expects us to win. Nobody gives us a hope. Yet, somehow, the points keep on coming. Somehow we keep on defying the odds.

It still feels like relatively early days but after today we’ll be over a fifth of the season done. Brentford go into the game four points behind league leaders Chelsea. European Champions Chelsea. My word, if ever there was incentive to go for the win then here it is. Not that we ever play for anything except a win (the end of Brighton aside). 

The return of Buzz ended up being the highlight of the Brighton game

It was said pre-season that the only club we genuinely thought would outplay us were Manchester City. So far, there’s been nothing to alter that perception albeit we’ve had to be at the absolute top of our game. The way Chelsea have started, and played, only a fool would fail to lump them into that bracket of likely Champions and top ranked teams. More than a few FIFA setting above the Bees when you look at this with a factual perspective. But, as has been noted, we don’t do that.

Sure, they’d beat us 9 times out of 10 if you run the numbers. Perhaps even 10 out of 10. But football doesn’t work like that. Lionel Road is no ordinary place. Brentford a quite unique team. A bus stop club stepping out against a fleet of limousines. A fan base who raise the roof like no other. Give me our football romance and stupid dreams over squads worth hundreds of millions any day of the week. It keeps the blood pumping. The anticipation of a win rather than the expectation gives added edge so sadly lacking for those clubs for whom three points and silverware are the de rigueur lifestyle choice.

I go into this one with utter respect for what they have achieved. For where they sit. No question. And the same feelings are extended to Chelsea. Our boys have had a magnificent opening few months. Can it continue tonight? Roll on kick off. See you there.

West Ham away – last time out was wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Nick Bruzon

A Twitter spat, illustrious opponents and swaps. Just another day in the top flight.

15 Oct

Magnificent. We’ve woken up to another ‘Teams like Brentford’ meltdown and the somewhat unusual phrase of Brentford 4th trending on Twitter. The reason being that, apparently, that’s where a supercomputer has predicted we’ll finish the season. Saturday’s opponents Chelsea are, apparently, going to be champions with Liverpool and Manchester City joining us at Europe’s top table next campaign. What quite makes a computer ‘super’ over a regular one I have no idea but its all good fun. Primarily the reactions from supporters of other clubs. 

Cripes, I’m as confident as the next fan but even I’ve only settled for the Europa League next season. Whatever the ZX Spectrum (or whatever machine was used for this in no way clickbait calculation) has come up with, this sort of story is ten a penny every year. In every division. They’re never right but they get us talking. So why not? Anything that winds up Leeds United supporters is all the better in my book. Moreso, given it has them way down in 16th. Hey. Perhaps there is something in it.

Leeds defend another attack

It’s all a nice distraction ahead of tomorrow’s big game. We spoke a bit about the West London derby yesterday. Brentford host Chelsea in a 5.30pm kick off which is sure to be blighted by travel chaos. South West rail is out of action with no trains stopping at Brentford, Kew Bridge or Chiswick. Likewise, Gunnnesbury tube will be out of action before and after kick off.

Instead, those three awful words (not : Mrs Browns Boys) have surfaced: Rail Replacement Bus. May whichever deity you believe in have mercy on your mortal souls.

With Corona Virus checks now in place after the soft launch for the Liverpool game, never has it been more widely advised to aim for an early arrival at Lionel Road. On the plus side, there’ll be cheap beer and food, the dulcet tones of Stu Soccer AM doing his thing with Peter Gilham whilst for anyone collecting Adrenalyn XL (the Panini cards rather than an energy drink), our Harry has a huge favour to ask. 

Has anyone in the North Stand anyone got any swaps? Assuming we can access it, he’ll be there by the Junior Bees bit at around 4.45 prior to kick off and then out the back of the vomitaries at half-time. Will tweet a location. For reasons unknown, although perhaps the £1 a packet cost has something to do with it, these aren’t hugely popular at his school. And whilst we have a surfeit of Bryan, amongst others, Sergi and Ivan are currently missing. Collecting has reached the stage where new packets are littered with more doubles than the darts and so if anyone can help then it would be hugely appreciated. 

Some of the many, many swaps that have caused the hole in my overdraft facility

As for the game, well its live on Sky for anyone that can’t make it. Lionel Road is again sold out with another racous atmosphere expected. It was tasty as when Liverpool came to town. Of course inside the stadium where we had the loudest away fans outside of Oldham in the cup but also outside. Prior to kick off Kew and Brentford were buzzing. There were even not one, not two but at least four half-and-half scarf sellers for us all to ignore. Truly, those fetid rags are the last refuge of the footballing damned. The crass hipsterfication of our beautiful game showing a real ugly side. If you really want a souvenir, buy a shirt or a programme. Then go get a beer with the change. 

Why? And don’t look at the socks

And talking of shirts, the alleged Jamie Bates matchworn has resurfaced on ebay. Good luck anybody bidding on that. The last month has already seen this one sold more times than Steve Claridge. Much as yours truly is always on the look out for anything old (and if anyone does have any they’d like to sell then I’ll always pay a very fair price) getting involved in this is a step too far.  

Somebody may want it..

Finally, just a HUGE thank you. For those slightly more regular visitors to these pages, the summer months had their usual flood of season review e-book activity. The story of our reaching the Premier League (primarily a load of these aswell as all the content produced for the programme) has been bundled up for Kindle / other and available for download. All money received from Amazon is then being donated to Rob Rowan’s CRY fund. Well, it has finally started trickling in (after Jeff has taken his cut) and is now being passed on each month. So a massive thank you for anyone who has downloaded. If you still wanted to then the link is here. Spoiler alert: for once, this one has a happy Wembley ending. Alternatively, anybody wanting to go direct to Rob’s page, you can find that one here.

Ok. That’s us done for today. Check out the BBC, Twitter, Beesotted and all the other usual sources for the actual quality content. For me, its all about family time and football this weekend. I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. Ideally, with cards…..

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

We’re going to need a Biggar boat.

1 Oct

Next stop on the Premier League express, the Olympic Stadium. Brentford travel to West Ham United this Sunday afternoon for a 2pm kick off against a team we’ve not played competitively since 1993. Compared to some of those we’ve already taken points from this season (Arsenal and Liverpool, where league fixtures were nothing more than a relic of the 1940s, we’re looking at you) that’s fairly recent. Relatively speaking. Back then in our solitary second tier season under Phil Holder, 0-0 at Griffin Park was followed up a 4-0 drubbing / kicking in East London that saw the slide back to (now) League One continue its inexorable momentum. Mind you, the game before and Ray Biggar doing his thing in the 1-1 draw with Notts County – a ball breaking amount of mystery time ‘added on’ until the Magpies levelled it up on about +8 that anyone there will never, ever forget – was enough to destroy whatever fragile confidence we had left. 

Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground. Whatever. It all ended the same way

That was then. This is now. Just as we have VAR to help the ref and time boards raised by the fourth official in order to let us know exactly how long there is to squirm through, we’ve also got a squad that’s ten times better than any we’ve had before. And that includes teams that have been in play offs. Brentford are on fire and playing for fun. The only points dropped being the 90th minute smash and grab at home to Brighton. Unbeaten on the road and still smiling off the back of our most recent performance, the 3-3 with Liverpool last Saturday evening. A game of gargantuan proportions that saw the mother of all footballing battles. Ivan Toney denied an 87th minute winner by the Lino’s flag which, whilst the correct decision, for a moment sent Bees’ fans into even greater states of delirium than those giddy highs already reached.

It was about as far away a moment as just about anything we’ve ever experienced. Playing a Premier League game against a full strength Liverpool side. The league leaders going behind c/o Ethan Pinnock and then twice being pulled back when it looked like they should accelerate out of sight. Brentford brilliant. Everyone playing at 110%. No let up. And that was just the crowd. The atmosphere immense with on pitch commitment to match. The Anfield outfit coming out the other side knowing we aren’t just going to make up the numbers and any walkover they may have expected was as far from the truth as the popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

What pressure? Calm as you like against Liverpool

Of course, we can’t live completely in the past. Beating Arsenal. Blitzing Wolves at Molineux. Holding Liverpool. All well and good. All brilliant. All amazing. I wouldn’t trade any of it but now it is done. The stuff of memory. Use it to inspire us and learn from but don’t just think that because we’ve done the business so far, everyone else is going to roll over. That we’ll turn up and win. Very much a case of dragging out the cliches and taking each game as it comes. Which takes us full circle to the first line – our trip to West Ham United. The BIAS supporter’s boat is about to set sail once more. This time, for a rematch with Said Benrahma. A game against a team very much doing the business at present. Penalty based substitutions aside. Seriously? That was never going to work.       

Last night’s defeat of Rapid Vienna continuing fine form that domestically sees the Hammers as one of only eight teams better placed than Brentford in the football pyramid. Michail Antonio is grabbing the goals and the headlines. Declan Rice busting guts to do his thing. The team flying. The talismanic Algerian Benrahma finding a regular place, form that we are so familiar with from his time at Brentford and the goals starting to come too. West Ham will be as tough as anyone we’ve played so far. The atmosphere as intense. The teething troubles from the early days in their new home, seemingly consigned to the past. Supporters about as passionate as they come and even a few who have donned that most odious of items, the half and half scarf. Metaphorically and for real. Well, now’s the time to drop (or grow) your balls and pin those colours to the mast.   

Said (in pre-lockdown mode). As popular now as he was then for us

October 2021. Brentford on a Premier League roll. Its a long, long way from the lower leagues. From Leroy Rosenior, Terry Butcher et al. From fans raising funds to keep us afloat. From finally escaping the third tier and celebrating the achievement by replacing our leading scorer with, err, Murray Jones. From Ray Biggar helping send us back from where we had come. After years of hard work, shrewd investment, even shrewder strategy and a lot of patience we are now at the place we’ve aspired to be for so, so long. Inside the tent pissing out rather than the other way round. There’s no way anyone is going to willingly give any of this up. It’s just been too much fun so far. 

Sunday is going to be hard as, no question, but its another step in an incredible journey and I can’t wait. However you travel – tube, train or boat be safe. Certainly avoid the road. Fuel wankers aside, the London marathon means there are closures just about all over town.

See you there.

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Nick Bruzon 

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

25 Sep

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

Hail ants, indeed.

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

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

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

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

As it stands…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More of this would be wonderful

Nick Bruzon

This is how we can beat Liverpool. A game at the right end of the sexy scale.

24 Sep

This is as big as it gets. Once, being the Barcelona of the lower leagues was about as close to football royalty as Brentford could aspire to be. Then, things changed, and now we are getting set for a league fixture with Liverpool. A game played on as level a playing field as they come. Both Premier League clubs with Jürgen Klopp, who of course so famously almost took over at Griffin Park rather than Anfield, bringing his super reds to take on super Brentford FC  this Saturday afternoon. So far the top flight ride has been nothing but the most incredible fun. Arsenal beaten. Wolves beaten. Brighton educational. Palace and Villa cauldrons of noise and well earned points on the road. Now, things crank up a notch. Liverpool, well they’re about as famous as it gets. With the possible exception of West Ham whom, as we know, are the only club side ever to win the World Cup. 

Arsenal beaten. The incredible start has so far been continued..

There are two ways to view this one. Go all giggly schoolgirl and bow down to worship at the cathedral of household names about to walk out alongside Pontus, Ethan et al. Embrace your inner football tourist to just gawp at Salah, Van Dijk , Mane, Alisson and whomever else Mr Klopp chooses to put in front of us. It’ll be hard not to, that’s for sure. It’ll be surreal and one could be forgiven for the ease with which it’ll be possible to get caught up in the moment this is sure to be. Do that and we’re dead. Rabbits in the headlights of the Red Express. Beaten before a ball has even been kicked.

Instead, we HAVE to take route two. Sure, have the utmost admiration for whom we are playing but then forget about it. Play the moment, not the reputation. Keep the crowd live, lively. Recreate the atmosphere we had against Arsenal and Bournemouth. The crowd, like the Kop, being a 12th man for that one. Liverpool have the reputation. They more than have the ability. No question. They are where they are for a reason. They’ve got to where they have and maintained those standards, mostly, for a reason. Recent league and European Champions. Something about Istanbul, too. But past form counts for nothing when the whistle blows and that’s the only way to go. 11 v 11 for 90 minutes. Avoid the cliches. Put your Liverpool bingo cards away and see what happens when Stuart Atwell starts proceedings. Hurrah!!!! 

Put your Liverpool bingo cards away

I took part in a live video podcast thing last night with some Liverpool fans (presumably my good friends at Beesotted were unavailable) c/o TheRedSeaPod looking ahead to the big game. There was, understandably, a lot of talk about Brentford, our approach to the Premier league so far and aspirations for the season. How we were viewed by Liverpool fans who, hands up, had perhaps under estimated how we’d fare but were rapidly, and respectfully, revising that opinion. The point was also made that in many respects this is a ‘free hit’ for The Bees. As would a lot of other games be this season. Nobody expects anything but defeat . There’s no pressure in a fixture like this because Brentford have nothing to lose. 

It’s true, to an extent. But also going into it too laissez-faire is another catalyst for disaster. If we don’t pick up the points I’ll be genuinely gutted. Not because it’s Liverpool but because its points dropped. League 1,2, Championship and now Prem. I’ve seen us at every level for far, far too long. The approach to every game has been the same. Winning is the most incredible feeling. No matter who we have available to us (and some of those squads we’ve had to pick from in the past…..) or who we have in front of us.

I absolutely LOVE being a Brentford fan. The most incredible communal love – so to speak – and its often been said that the 90 minutes of football (more likely 100 tomorrow given its Atwell) is but a small part of a greater day. Of coming together with friends and family. This season, with Covid destroying that for the past 18 months, it feels even stronger than ever. Yet round it all off with three points and the day becomes, err, ten times better.

So yes. Perhaps a free hit in the eyes of the broader footballing world but for me, Clive, a chance to close the gap at the business end of the table. No matter how slim an opportunity it may be. Thomas talks about being humble and he’s right. I’m not arrogant enough to go into this one thinking we’ll steamroller Liverpool. Thinking we have a divine right to turn up and win. But, equally, nor should they. Under estimating Brentford has been the undoing of so many sides over the last few years. We may be under the radar. We may be tinpot. We may be a bus stop in Hounslow. But my word, can we play some football when we get going. In the sexy stakes, this one has the potential to be the polar opposite of Mrs Brown puckering up with Donald Trump if both teams hit their groove.

the opposite end of the sexy scale to what Saturday promises..

The other thing learned last night was that Liverpool have a a new third kit. Not sure how this one passed me by – perhaps it was ghoulish interest in the fake Bees shirt racing to three figures on ebay. Desperately hoping nobody parted with money for the blue ‘adidas’ one… Getting back to our visitors though, is there a chance they could rock up in what has been described as the ‘McDonalds shirt’? 

Wow. Its actually quite nice from afar but far from nice up close. What’s with the red checks? No offence, and this is the only negative thing I can say about the current Liverpool set up, but it’s a shocker. With yours truly also writing about Liverpool kit in tomorrow’s matchday programme, its very much a case of opportunity missed by not including that one. On the flip side, there are a few other shockers in there aswell as some absolute masterpieces.

Do you want fries with that?

Finally, we can’t look at Brentford – Liverpool without looking at Sergi Canos. Of all the players in our squad he’s sure to be up for it as much as, if not more than, anyone else. Playing against his first club. All being well the game against Norwich City when he momentarily went a bit Scrappy Doo playing against his other former side has been forgotten. Instead, using the huge love from the crowd and his own passion to inspire him on to even greater things. We love Sergi in our house. Our H worships the ground he walks on and nobody could have been more excited than him when he got our first ever Premier League goal, against Arsenal. The game where we ended the night at the top of the table. Hey, don’t shoot me. Blame the stats.

Ooooh. Ser-gi Canos !!

Of all the songs being belted out in what is sure to be a cauldron of noise tomorrow, his is the one we’re looking forward to singing the most. Anything more and as Tony Gubba almost once said, It’ll be dreamland for Brentford. Still, if you can’t dream then what’s the point? Bring it on.

Cripes, I can’t wait for this one. Fantasy football but for real. That’s the giggly schoolgirl thing done. Now let’s get serious. See you there….

Nick Bruzon

A picture that’s unappealing yet packed with morbid curiosity.

23 Sep

Stoke City v Brentford. Thus came our fourth round fate following last night’s League Cup draw – (c) Middlesex Chronicle Big Book of 80’s alliteration. Hopefully Thomas Frank won’t be left feeling a Beleagured Bees Boss after that one. Blinkin’ Stoke City. No offence but the last draw anybody would have wanted. Including them. For Brentford, a lot of bad history and a Wednesday evening half-term shlep to the Potteries. For Stoke, still a glamour tie against Premier League opposition but opponents they have played, a lot, since dropping back to the Championship in 2018. I’m sure they would have relished a visit from a Liverpool or Manchester City although at least swerved Mark Warburton and his Loftus Road outfit after they beat Everton (more to follow on The Toffees).

The draw in full

Positives. We’re in the last 16. We’re yet to face a top flight rival. The game comes between a visit from Leicester City and a trip to Burnley but, otherwise, we’ve nothing midweek on either side. Cripes, the Tuesday/Saturday back to back fixtures destroyed so many Championship clubs last season. Absolutely knackering, It’s a run that shows no sign of abating this time around and with Stoke still on that sort of relentless fixture overload, might they use this one as a tactical hit to rest tired limbs? Test the squad to its full extent? Who knows? Whomever the respective managers pick, this one is going to be as tough and gruelling as it comes. A tie with all the allure of Mrs Browns Boys squaring up to The England Supporter’s Band in a pub car park. Nobody wants to watch it yet we’ll still take a look. Just in case.

Unappealing yet packed with morbid curiosity

Until then, there’s only one word on everyone’s lips: The Liverpool game. Ok, that’s three but you get the drift. We’ve already talked about this a fair bit on these pages and no doubt will do a bit more come Friday / Saturday. There’s only so much clickbait one can follow on other sites and so many times we can regurgitate Tony Gubba’s immortal line or one of the few photos in the personal collection from the last time our paths crossed. It’ll be huge. For them.

For us, one more game and that’s the only way to treat it. Play the team in front of us rather than the history. It worked for Arsenal (albeit they were inept) and it may work again. Who knows ?

One more time…The Bees haven’t played Livepool since the FA Cup in 1989

Elsewhere, the home game with Everton has been pushed back a day for TV coverage. That’ll now take place at 2pm on Sunday 28th November. The price of playing at a higher level. On the plus side, it means the trips to Burnely and Newcastle United remain unscathed – not surprisingly – so at least train tickets can be booked with relative impunity.

All that’s to come though. For now, with too much time wasted trying to get Mrs. Brown to hold a broken bottle, better wrap things up and start the school run. Perhaps the prospect of Saturday’s visit from Liverpool might get H moving.

He’s all good when Buzz is around but try getting an 8 year old ready for school on a Thursday

Nick Bruzon 

Don’t shoot the messenger. Cup and league beckon in a huge week.

21 Sep

Do you know the way to Oldham? One in each hand. With recent seasons seeing our paths head in very much different directions, its been a while since we’ve been able to crack this one out. Needs must, though, despite the fact that Tuesday night’s league cup third round tie takes place in Brentford. With the Bees in fine form following Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves, it’s fair to say positivity is up. Even Thomas Frank’s most fierce detractors from last season are now lavishing social media praise on our head coach. Hmmm. And with Liverpool next up in the Premier League, the referee for that one has now been named. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

First up, the cup. Last season’s epic run to the semis was all the more frustrating in the fact that it was played out behind closed doors. Thanks a bunch, Covid. With Premier League clubs being knocked out left right and centre, all we could do was follow the action on our computer screens. Ivan Toney’s heroics and tussle with VAR at Spurs nothing more than the stuff of internet streaming. The only consolation being that at least some of us eventually got to see Brentford at Wembley where ‘the curse’ was finally broken in some style. A play-off campaign that ended in a positive manner (not a typo) and celebrations the likes of which we’d not seen in a long, long time. Kew Bridge on fire longer than even Will Grigg (Now at Rotherham United, if you were wondering). 

An epic cup run played out in empty stadia

Given how we missed out on seeing it all unfold last time out, for that reason alone I’m hopeful for big things once more. The much maligned league cup, a tournament of B-teams and squad rotation, has a new lease of life as supporters up and down the land are relishing the opportunity to watch football once more. Any excuse. The game with Forest Green Rovers saw a much larger crowd than normal and we can expect more tonight. If any additional lure were needed, there’s cheap pre-match beer and food for early entrants to the stadium. Free chili in The Hive may be a gone from Griffin Park, but the Lionel Road replacement isn’t bad.  

As for the actual game, well on paper it looks about as lopsided as they come. Oldham Athletic rock bottom of League Two, with 6 defeats and 4 points from their opening 8 fixtures. Supporters are protesting against current owners, the Lemsagam family, in a bid to oust the Moroccans whose tenure has seen relegation, the threat of administration and nine managers since 2018. Cripes, not even Nottingham Forest get through them that fast.

Sad times at Ice Station Zebra. Supporters protest.

The Bees, on the other hand, have picked up in the Premier League where we left off in the Championship. Wolves, the latest side to surrender all three points as Brentford beat the clock and our opponents. An edge of game management deployed against us in such brutal fashion by Brighton the week before, had the home fans up in arms and still raging 48 hours later. If this is how they react to David Raya changing his gloves, they’re going to go into meltdown against Brighton (who can also add falling down like the mutant offspring of Michael Douglas and Justin Fletcher to their catalogue of fan enraging tactics).

For me (Clive), and its easy to say this when we finally played a game to within an inch of the rules, it was a necessary way to close it out with just ten men on the pitch. Shandon Baptiste’s second yellow card also meaning he’ll miss out night, which is a real shame, albeit he’ll be back for Liverpool if my calculations are correct. After the Brighton game it was noted on these pages that, “Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow”.

Of course, Thomas doesn’t read this or take tactical advice from the internet. If he did he’d have been ‘out’ last season, but it was pleasing to see us adapt to circumstance after getting off to that flying start. Only Stuart Atwell on VAR keeping the scoreline vaguely respectful for a home team who,  despite all their frustration, managed the princely total of ‘0’ shots on target. 

Don’t shoot me. The stats don’t lie, as Shakira almost once sang. They DID deserve more but you could argue so did we. So does Dean Smith every week. Even Bryan rattling the woodwork late on could have put things further out of sight. Instead, the lesson about balls in the back of then rather than possession being what wins games was once again in evidence. Thankfully, Brentford were the ones delivering it rather than being on the receiving end.

So with the Bees in their groove and the cup providing all it does, I’m expecting a big crowd and a good result. It won’t be easy. Never is. Under estimating any opponent or ‘teams like..’ The cardinal error to make. If anyone knows that over the last few years it’s us. With Oldham perhaps looking for some welcome distraction, they aren’t going to surrender this when the opportunity for morale boosting win and money spinning fourth round tie is at their mercy. It’s going to be fun, that’s for sure. It’s going to be tasty. And that’s just the pies.

Elsewhere, the referee and assistants for the Liverpool game on Saturday have been named. The great news being that Sian Massey-Ellis is part of the team. Her positive reputation more than precedes her as one of English football’s most on the ball officials. The not so good news being that she’s on VAR assistant duties. And for the man in the middle, we’ve been treated to….. Stuart Atwell. Stuart. Atwell. Say no more. His reputation precedes him as one of English football’s most off the boil officials.

Don’t shoot the messenger….

Still, as Rob The BEEE put it: Worst ref in the Prem by a distance…then again, in a game we should lose anyway, rolling the dice on a dodgy decision might not be a bad thing!

Perhaps he’s on to something. Come on Stuart, proves us wrong….

Nick Bruzon