Tag Archives: Mexico

Can England join magnificent Japan in the hunt for a monster upset?

3 Jul

Bloody hell. Football. I think we’re all starting to run out of superlatives after yet another stunning evening of World Cup action. And this is before we even get on to England! Monday night’s game between Belgium and Japan showcased the beautiful game at her most alluring. It was one you simply couldn’t have made up and had it all – shock, excitement, wonderful goals, an edge of the seat comeback and then bitter, bitter tears at the end as Roberto Martinez and his team scraped through by the most gossamer like of margins. It was marked contrast from the earlier game where the acting skills of Neymar will remain forever branded onto the memories of most fans rather than a 2-0 win for Brazil over Mexico. And back home, with rumours starting to circulate (we’ll get there properly when something actual happens) Brentford have now announced one move.

I’m struggling to describe the emotions of watching the Belgium – Japan encounter. Even now I’m both smiling at what unfolded yet devastated at how it finished. And that’s having only seen the final 45 minutes. This, after a problem at the office (genuinely) meant I was just coming in from work as the second half kicked off. Sadly, there was no helpful score update from the commentary team. Instead it was down to the graphic in the top corner to bring things up to speed in an immediate, if somewhat unsatisfying, style. But that was where any disappointment ended.

Talk about an explosion of action. Talk about Boy’s Own stuff. Talk about underdogs and unfancied Japan sticking it to the Premier League fat cats. Belgium, for all they galaxy of stars available to their squad were simply blown away. Jan Vertonghen left for dead by Genki Haraguchi who scored with a fine finish. It was defending as leaden footed as Gary Breen at his most oil tanker like (I’m thinking of Sunderland at Brentford in the 2006 FA Cup) but don’t let that take anything away from Haraguchi’s run and shot just after half time.

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One for the Bees fans, there. What a moment.

Less than five minutes later the lead was doubled. Takashi Inui with an absolute piledriver of a shot from well outside the box. A blow as powerful as Godzilla laying waste to downtown Tokyo with his flaming breath but this time it was the Japanese handing out the pain rather than receiving it.

The football was devastating, it was brutal but it was brilliant. A quite scintillating display of moving the ball and running at pace. Yet still they came. Belgium looked lost. Little boys crying out for their mummys after having being promised an easy second round game but, instead, taking an absolute hammering. Fattened lambs to the slaughter after being fed a load of waffle about their opponents.

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The king of the monsters, laying waste to all around

All over social media, Gareth Southgate was being praised for his tactical genius. Not in avoiding the supposed hard part of the draw but simply in England dodging a team who seemed intent on providing this most exciting of tournaments with yet another shock.

And then Belgium woke up. The double substitution of Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli coming on was followed by Vertonghen atoning for his earlier error with 20 minutes to go. Five minutes later, Fellaini powered home a cross form Hazard to level things up. 2-2 and the clock ticking. Japan recomposed themselves and kept coming. A free kick at the death almost drifting in before a quite magnificent move out of the back opened up the Japan midfield and back line for Chadli to stroke home with just seconds remaining.

It was a goal as heartbreaking as it was beautiful. Godzilla having been finally subdued by the footballing equivalent of a freeze ray. With what seemed to be the entire nation willing on Japan, you had to admire the speed and skill with which the winner was scored. Even if it was begrudgingly. The coup de grâce being Lukaku’s sweet dummy when he could have been forgiven for trying to stab the ball goalwards but, instead, allowing it to run through to his teammate to break their opponents’ hearts  

The Japanese were distraught. Understandably so. I had to turn off within moments of the final whistle as they collapsed to the pitch in despair. It felt as though we were intruding on some private moment of grief after having been afforded the privilege of witnessing some of the most breathtaking football in history. Indtead, it was left to their coach Akira Nishino to sum it up:  “I don’t want to admit it. I do feel that it was a tragedy but I have to accept the defeat as a fact.”

It was a million miles away from what we will remember from the earlier game. Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to set up a quarter final with Belgium. Fine. But the theatrics from Neymar Jr, writhing around as though he had been shot, brought torrents of disdain from just about the entire footballing community. It was Rivaldo levels of farce. Acting as unsubtle as Mrs. Brown and a moment that what about as unfunny as Brendan O’Carroll’s tedious creation.

This sequence on my Twitter timeline summing the day up in one screen grab.   

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And so the quarter finals are starting to take shape. This one really is up for grabs now. Whilst anyone could win it, looking at the games to come, anyone really could. But will England join them?

Gareth Southgate’s team do battle with Colombia this evening. On the pitch, it’s 11 v11. Off it, we have England v the curse of ITV.

Whilst I spoke about this earlier in the week, it does bear repeating. England have only one one World Cup game that has been shown on the light channel since 1998. That, back in Germany 2006 against Trinidad and Tobago. Even then, it took two very late goals (Peter Crouch after 83 minutes and Steven Gerrard on 90) to secure three points for Sven’s team. Ah, Sven – remember him?

Can England turn form around? After a World Cup of shocks, I wouldn’t bet against Gareth Southgate pulling off the biggest upset of the tournament to date. Victory under the gaze of Glenn Hoddle.

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The stats don’t lie…

And finally, Brentford. There was transfer news of sorts. Theo Archibald has joined League Two outfit Forest Green Rovers for 2018/19 (albeit with the option to recall in January). You can read the full story on ‘official’ .

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…..

Nick Bruzon

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Get set for more penalties, more pressure, more shocks and more swaps…..

2 Jul

Another day, another two teams reached the World Cup quarter-finals. Sunday’s action saw Russia and Croatia get through on penalties at the expense of Spain and Denmark respectively. With it, the end of the Griffin Park World Cup dream as Henrik Dalsgaard of  Brentford ™ was left to taste that cruelest of footballing pain. And we have a winner in the Last Word shirt competition.

What can you say about the action yesterday? Well, perhaps action would be a tad generous for two games that finished 1-1 and didn’t have anywhere near the excitement of the previous day’s clashes. Then again, the absolute pivotal criteria is to secure qualification and I can’t imagine anyone in the Russia or Croatia camps losing any sleep over their team’s performance.

Who cares if they went to penalties? For the neutral, perhaps one of the most exciting ways to see a game decided. The ultimate battle of nerves and ability over pressure. Yet it would be fair to say that in both games the result could have been decided by a spot kick late into extra time.

The Russia – Spain encounter saw Sergio Ramos felled in the box late on. Without wanting to sound all Arsene Wenger, “I didn’t see the incident”. This for no more reason than I was jacked up to the eyeballs on Panini stickers. A hedonistic stash that was something akin to the Last Days of Pompeii – Ned Flanders style – was making its way around The Griffin in a coming together of about 8 separate sticker books.

Panini stickers The Griffin

In the end it all got too much. The stickers rather than the football. I couldn’t focus on the ‘needs’ list . Sorry, I mean Harry’s ‘needs’ list. A sea of numbers and garish kits flashing before my eyes. It was all a blur with mountains of Panini everywhere (the stickers rather than the toasted sandwiches – Gerhard isn’t diversifying that much) .

Imagine that scene at the end of Scarface – except with the drugs replaced by a stash of Lucas Biglia, Danny Wellbeck, Lasse Schöne et al. The plus point of all this is that we’re down to our last 27 ‘needs’. If anybody can help then here’s the list.

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27 to go. Can anyone help? 577 since acquired

But we digress. A lot. Having missed the Ramos incident it was time to steel myself for penalties. And what a set of spot kicks. How the Russians held their nerve. How Spain lost theirs. Big time. I’d not seen that much stuttering on the run ups since Norman Collier picked up a microphone. Yet with the Spanish doing their best to hit them straight down the corridor of saveability, the host nation triumphed. And boy, how they celebrated.

Probably not as much as the VAR team whose relatives were subsequently released from whichever holding cell that Mr. Putin had them in. Cancel the trip to the salt mine. Hey, as noted I didn’t even see it live but having caught up since, I’m not upset anyway. If Vladimir is reading (let’s not even go there) yours truly has backed the hosts at 40/1 to win the thing. Purely for research purposes and a wager that can happily slide down the pan if it ultimately means an England triumph.

With Russia through it was the turn of Denmark and Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford ™ . They couldn’t have got off to a better start, scoring with less than a minute on the clock. They couldn’t have had a worse reaction – conceding just three minutes later. Yet that’s how things stayed. Pushing on through to full time and then beyond, another penalty shoot-out was as much a certainty as Brentford losing a play-off final. But then drama. With just three minutes left, Luka Modric was given the chance – quite rightly in this instance – to score from the penalty spot. Instead, Kasper Schmeichel dived to his left and smothered the ball, leaving the match alive and another shoot out beckoning.

It really was a wonderful moment in an otherwise dungheap of a game. Football as cagey as you could ever expect to see between two evenly matched  teams that nullified each other in the attempt to haul themselves over the line. Yet with the prize on offer, who could blame them for playing to go through?

This time it was Danijel Subasic, the Croatian goalkeeper, who was the hero. Schmeichel may have saved a further two penalties in the shootout but his counterpart stopped three to leave his team mates celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup. Somebody really should use that one.

All over TW8 there were tears for Henrik Dalsgaard. He played the full game, again, and can leave the tournament with his head held high. Both he and Brentford have only come out of this with our respective stocks rising further. Whatever else happens in Russia, Henrik can be sure of a hero’s welcome when he comes back to Griffin Park.  I can already hear Peter Gilham loosening his vocal cords.

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For now Henrik, the World Cup is over. Roll on Qatar…

As for today, Brazil – Mexico promises to be an absolute cracker, followed by Belgium – Japan. Whilst the bookies would have you believe that these are foregone conclusions for the ‘B’ teams, I wouldn’t bet on it. Get set for more penalties. Get set for more pressure. Get set for more shocks…..

And finally, congratulations to SteveFoxBee (aka @TheDoomBoy) on Twitter who won our Last Word e-book lucky shirt draw. You can see the moment further below.

For now though, the books both remain on line for download with any funds raised continuing to go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust:

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…

Thank you.

Nick Bruzon

Out of tune and out of touch but who looks good in green?

3 Jun

We’ve got a bumper Last Word today. England took on Portugal last night in their final warm up game ahead of EURO 2016. Whilst I promised we’d drop the Brentford ‘green shirt’ stuff, there is an 11th hour addendum from one supporter which Bees fans may find of interest. And on the subject, we look at the top ten green shirts of all time. From Plymouth to Palmeiras and Carlisle to Panathinaikos, can anybody make this under used colour look good?

But first, England. Whereas I’d normally say they “entertained Portugal last night” rather than “took on”, anybody who saw the game will know there’d have been more entertainment in an episode of Hale and Pace (kids, ask your dads. Actually, don’t. Spare them the pain).

The 1-0 win at Wembley was an experience that many found uninspiring, out of touch with the occasion and somewhat flat. An indication of the pain that awaits supporters over the next few weeks unless something changes and fast. ITV nailed it, by accident, in the commentary with the observation that, “This is Dier”.

But enough about the England supporter’s band.

Look, it wasn’t the best game by any stretch of the imagination. The red card for Bruno Alves, channelling his inner Eric Cantona with a crazy challenge on Harry Kane, hardly helped proceedings as both teams had to adjust to playing 11 on 10 for most of the game. If you want a full match report then, as ever, other sources are the place to go. However, if you want a full match report in two tweets then we’ve got it here c/o DJ’s Andy Bush and Conor McNamara.

Bush and CM twitter

I’m still no closer to knowing who Roy will start with against Russia next Saturday but at least we can now look forward to the tournament with no other distractions. The one week countdown is underway, the wall chart is on the fridge and Will Grigg is, apparently, still on fire (if he manages to score, ‘that song’ is just going to become interminable).

After that, the rest just comes naturally. Sit back, grab a beer, prepare the ‘butt groove’ in the sofa and enjoy a month of bonus football that we wouldn’t get in a normal ‘closed season’. Hey, if nothing else it might distract from endless rumours and talk of “Bees boss set for double transfer swoop”. All being well, it might even extinguish Will Grigg. No offence to the former Bee but I’m half expecting ‘that band’ to add ‘that song’ to their repertoire.

Next up, Brentford. More specfically, the  last word on our wearing green (unless, of course, somebody actually manages to unearth a picture of that adidas shirt). Supporter   Geoff Buckingham has been in touch about when, and why, Brentford first wore this most unusual of colours :

It was due to a motor coach not turning up !

It happened in the grim days of January 1974, when the club were close to bottom of The Football League, the country was gripped by the Miner’s Strike and ‘The Three Day’ week, and funds at Griffin Park were very tight indeed. To make matters worse, on a freezing cold 12th Jan.the Brentford team coach did not show up at the meeting point for the trip to bottom of the table Doncaster Rovers.This meant a hurried change of plan, and the players had to quickly sort out cars and drive themselves up to Doncaster. 

If that was not bad enough, one of them, winger Barry Salvage, got nicked for speeding on the return journey. As for the kit we had to borrow them from Slough Town FC. The shirts were indeed green, but with pink numbers on the back!

Anyway, the green shirts brought Brentford a bit of luck as the Bees won the match 2-1 , with a brace from ex Bognor Regis deckchair attendant Andy Woon ( you could not make this up,could you?!)

That win, in front of 3009 perishingly cold spectators, was Brentford’s only victory in a 14 game spell. But it was enough to lift the Bees up to third from bottom, and was actually a crucial two points, as we finished the season just two points above the Division 4 bottom four re-election places! 

Thanks, Geoff. And no more so than because talk of pink and green allows me to get out the industrial sized crowbar as we segue into : ‘the top ten green shirts of all time’.

This, a research topic I’ve undertaken simply down to the fact that, whilst most Brentford fans seemed quite keen on the idea (if you believe social media), one New Road observer contacted me to say: “Glad we’re not getting the hideous green kit this season but seems nailed on for next time.”

Is green hideous?   Unusual, for sure. But hideous? It’s one view and who am I to judge? Instead, let the world of football fashion be your guide….

carlisle away 1993

Carlisle away 1993

10) Carlise away 1993. Accused by many of resembling a deckchair, this cult classic even has a hint of red and white. If Matthew Benham and co are keen on the green, could this give inspiration for 2017? Bonus points always awarded for anything made by the much missed ‘Matchwinner’

 

 

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Mexico 1996 – wow

9) Mexico 1996. It’s one thing having some discreet design added to your shirt but Mexico didn’t hold back on the subtly when it came to embracing their heritage back in 1996. It’s bold, I’ll give you that. I love it!

 

 

 

La Hoya Lorca Broccoli

La Hoya – delicious design

8) La Hoya Lorca 2013/14. We’ve featured the Spanish lower division side’s kit on these pages many times over the years. And rightly so, given they’ve modelled it on the broccoli that signifies their agricultural heartland.

 

 

 

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Green Arsenal?

7) Hibernian 1989/90. It’s made by Adidas and it just looks awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

St Etienne 1981

St. Etienne add a certain, I don’t know what but it’s good

6) St. Etienne 1981/82. How can you honestly say this isn’t stylish? I’ll even forgive the non-matching collar and cuffs, such is the French chic on offer in this classic Le Coq Sportif template.

 

 

 

 

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classic adidas

5) Palmeiras 1979/ 80.  The boys from Brazil kept it simple for this adidas effort. But then again, why mess around when simple equates to style?

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth 1984

Plymouth show that green can look good

4) Plymouth 1984/85. Much like the Palmeiras effort although with the addition of the discreet pinstripe that just screamed ’80’s football shirt’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panathinaikos 2008

Modern is good, too

3) Panathinaikos 2008/09. Another Adidas shirt. Another stunner. Even the sponsor and other branding is done sympathetically

 

 

 

 

Pink-Green-Real-Betis-Kit (2)

It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

2) Real Betis 2015/16. We love women on these pages. Not in a mysogynistic style but more to celebrate how at Brentford we have such a diverse fanbase. So it’s nice to include a wonderful effort from Spain as Betis took things one step further than even the Bees, creating a special shirt in order to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman.

 

 

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My favourite green shirt of all time

1) Cameroon 1990. Roger Milla. Upset after upset as the Indomitable Lions almost got to the semi finals ahead of England. That foul by Benjamin Massing on Claudio Cannigia. Oh, and one of the most iconic shirts in World football. Adidas have done it again.

 

 

 

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

book 3 and 4 cover

Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

 

East coast or East Fife? Striker search continues as Dutch disappoint

6 Jul

There was plenty of football going on yesterday but the only news from a Brentford perspective was the latest Florida tour diary. As ever, you can find this on the club site where, amongst other things, Peter Gilham explains his reference to the ‘1930s weather’ questioned in yesterday’s column. Instead, it was left to Fulham to try and provide the clues…

Given our current (experienced) striker situation, I ended up scouring cyberspace for news of Marcello Trotta where, I am ashamed to say, I ended up on a less than salubrious website. If Mrs. Bruzon checks my ‘search history’ there’s going to be an awful lot of awkward explaining as to why I was looking at: www.fulhamfc.com

However, whilst the Bees were on the East Coast of the USA, our neighbours were in the more modest surroundings of East Fife, who they took on in a preseason friendly. Despite the appearance of my favourite footballer, A.Trialist, along with his brothers, A.Trialist 2 and A Trialist 3, there was no room for Marcello in a team that saw 22 players taste match action (and I accept that to use the word ‘action’ in the same context as a Fulham game is an odd one).

What does this mean? Could he be coming back to Griffin Park for a third, and this time permanent, spell? Does Italy beckon? Is it something as simple as a knock picked up in training that precluded him from taking part?

Without wishing to disturb those of a sensitive disposition (look away, now), as it stands Marcello still remains as a fixture on their published squad list. Although, by the same logic Clayton Donaldson is still a Brentford player, as of Sunday morning. So make of that what you will.

As seen on the FFC website on Sunday morning (edited)

As seen on the FFC website on Sunday morning (edited)

I guess that what this all goes to say, in a long-winded fashion, is that I’d love to see Marcello back. Whether it is simply wishful thinking or has any chance of happening, then who knows? However, these are sentiments I couldn’t possibly have imagined having 12 months ago.

Away from Brentford, there was still the World Cup. Costa Rica were beaten by a Holland team who are fast falling from being the darlings of the tournament (after Robin Van Persie’s stunning goal helped destroy Spain 5-1) to it’s bad boys.

Arjen Robben’s admission of diving against Mexico was bad enough (as was the commentary last night for praising him when he hadn’t taken this option) but the subsequent antics of goalkeeper Tim Krul left a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Well done to Holland in getting through, but it would have been so much nicer if this could have been done with a modicum of sportsmanship rather than Krul ‘squaring up’ to every Costa Rican as they approached the penalty spot.

It was, for once, a terrible example to any young children who might have ben watching. I’ve no problem with doing everything you can in the rules of the game to win a win – indeed, this was what his 119th minute appearance was all about (although I’d suggest more to get the upper hand through this element of surprise than any superior ability).

However, if you can only attain those levels by diving or acting the schoolyard bully, rather than whilst treating your opponents with respect, then that’s when the ‘beautiful game’ becomes very much an ugly scrap.

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ (The story of Brentford’s season 2013/14, amongst other things) – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

And that silenced the Cop (acabana). Brazil have a Tony Gubba moment

24 Jun

For crying out loud, England. We were never going to win the World Cup but Joel Matip’s equaliser for Cameroon against Brazil last night really hit home as to what we are missing. To be out of the tournament with one group game still to play is all a bit rubbish but, more frustrating, is not being part of the tension and excitement in the knockout stages.

For a moment, with the scores being levelled, there was a very real threat of Brazil being knocked off the top of the table and left facing a second round group game against a rampant Netherlands team who had earlier made it three from three.

As the home crowd fell silent, all I could think of was the 1989 Brentford – Liverpool FA Cup quarter-final at Anfield and Tony Gubba’s iconic commentary.

““No Offside!! Cadette!!! Ohhh, he’s missed!! Sinton’s lovely little ball and Richard Cadette, top scorer with seventeen goals this season… how close did he come to putting this quarterfinal? Well, it would have been dreamland for Brentford, wouldn’t it? It was inches wide of the post. And that…silenced the Kop”.

Just as Brentford had their chance to claim one of the biggest scalps of all time, although were eventually undone by arguably the (then) best team in Europe, Cameroon had the favourites on the ropes. Whilst the final result was as expected (the host’s four goals the same as Liverpool eventually scored that afternoon) it was fun getting there.

England, meanwhile, aren’t at the races. The fat lady hasn’t even stepped out of the shower and done her hair, let alone started to sing, yet already we are packing our bags for the trip back to the airport. Very much a missed opportunity for players and fans alike.

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The wallchart takes shape – without England (but with Chile x2. D’oh!!)

Getting back to Brentford, the latest player whose name is being churned through the rumour mill is Conor McAleny. Given the impact he had at the start of last season, prior to that horrific leg break, I’d be very happy to see his return to Griffin Park. The Everton talent machine is certainly a well-oiled one, with Adam Forshaw and Jake Bidwell being the two obvious examples where we have benefitted.

Is their any truth to it? Well, it could just be a lot of paper talk – much like Clayton’s trip to Birmingham beach (a less salubrious place I couldn’t imagine – St. Andrews sand should be confined to the golf course) or Bristol City’s interest in Northern Ireland international Will Grigg currently seem to be.

We’ll see what happens but with England now dead in the water, I’ll take any opportunity to feed my football fix until some real news comes along.

‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’ – The story of Brentford’s season 2013/14 – amongst other things – is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from the last ten months, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

Here come the Bees in the Championship as ‘keepers dominate.

18 Jun

Today’s the day! Finally, the Championship fixture list is released and Brentford find out when we’ll lock horns with the likes of Fulham, Watford, Charlton and Birmingham City (where, hopefully, we’ll see Clayton Donaldson playing for the team in red and white – ignore those rumours, folks!).

I absolutely love this time of year. It puts the next ten months into perspective as we find out if holidays clash with some vital away trip and when we can squeeze in a visit to see the mother-in-law.

The fever pitch feeling around TW8 is sure to step up a notch once we get the chance to map out 2014/15. This has already gone into overdrive with the news that 4,800 early bird season tickets have been sold. To put that into perspective, it’s almost half the capacity for Griffin Park’s home support and is a stunning effort.

In no small way is this down to the competitive level prices were kept at (to be honest, I was expecting a huge hike this season). Likewise, well done to all the staff in the ticket office who I cannot praise enough. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with them in person then you’ll know how hard the likes of Mads and Abdi work and how helpful they are.

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A new season dawns over Griffin Park

Then, just to keep the excitement bubbling over, there’s the World Cup over in Brazil where day 6 action was dominated by goalkeepers. Primarily, Guillermo Ochoa who kept Brazil at bay with an immense performance as Mexico drew 0-0 with the hosts.

I can only put his exceptional display down to his shirt which seems to be the international variant of the striking design set to be worn by Richard Lee and David Button next season. As somebody who looks for omens in the smallest of things, for me this one was as subtle as being hit in the face with a wet fish by Adrian Chiles and can only bode well for The Bees.

Later that evening, Russia took on South Korea in a game that threatened to rival the previous day’s Iran – Nigeria as the most painful of the tournament. I gave up after half an hour of dreadful football which, to coin a phrase I’d heard earlier in the season, “Was like watching two pensioners trying to play X-box FIFA for the first time”.

At least the goals started to flow in the second half as the match finished one apiece. However, where Ochoa had been flawless earlier in the day, his Russian counterpart, Igor Akinfeev, had a performance he’ll want to forget about. The BBC, whose coverage of this effort is here, put it best by saying he, “has practically thrown the ball over his shoulder into the back of the net”.

The day’s other game saw Belgium perform more like seaside donkeys rather than their billing as (cliché alert), the tournament’s ‘dark horses’. A 2-1 victory over an Algeria outfit who led for most of the game was hardly the stuff to strike fear into their rivals.

Just typical I’ve got Fellaini and co in the office sweepstake.

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BBC viewers saw Mexico’s Ochoa in the same design top as Brentford will be wearing next season

Fairplay, Phil Neville (oranges are not the only shirt – for Bees)

17 Jun

It’s official. ITV are in danger of running the BBC close in the World Cup coverage stakes. Monday’s 4-0 demolition of Portugal by Germany (poor Cristiano…. stop sniggering at the back) saw my favourite line trotted out for a second ‘light channel’ 5pm game.

For those of you just coming in from work, the score is…” appeared just after 6.20pm, in what now seems to be it’s regular slot, after a similar airing for Mexico – Cameroon. As on Friday, I was still coming home at that point but, regardless, remain excited that in these days of over size score graphics some traditions continue.

The other piece of broadcast news was the second weapon in ITV’s armoury – Phil Neville. Whilst universal criticism of the former Manchester United player may have continued after his robotic performance during the England game, he has been man enough to acknowledge his shortcomings.

In a brief, but hilarious, interview on BBC Radio 5 live (which you can hear here) Phil has promised us he’ll “show a little bit more excitement” when he’s back on TV for the next England game.

On pitch yesterday, the BBC continued giving us Doctor Phil’s ‘cure to insomnia’ by broadcasting the Iran – Nigeria game. The one positive for both teams is that they remain unbeaten but a 0-0 draw, in a group containing Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina, helps nobody – least of all the viewers who had to struggle through the dullest game of the tournament so far.

The USA rounded things off with three points against Ghana. The opening goal coming before most viewers had taken their seats – the winner after most had gone to bed. It was an exciting game but the Africans must be rueing their profligacy in and around the penalty box.

Back home, Brentford have announced details of Thursday’s shirt launch. You can read the full details on the club website but, suffice to say, we can be there but still catch the England game later in the day. With players, club staff and Bees super fan Natalie Sawyer promised to be in attendance, I think I might try and sneak out of school early to pop along to the 4pm event.

The other news that intrigued me was a comment I saw on Twitter last night, suggesting that in 2013/14 we might have gone for an orange away kit. It won’t take a genius to track that one down but, novelty value aside, it really has got me desperate to find out what next season’s change kit will look like.

News on that one is thinner than Warb’s hairline – the only thing we know being that orange is not an option this time round. Until then, here’s my crude take – featuring obligatory ‘iron on sponsor’ – of what orange could have been….

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Could this have been our away shirt? No – but I quite like it

 

‘Chiles understudy’ sees Spain given a real clogging.

14 Jun

The World Cup exploded into stunning life on Friday. Brazil’s lucky win over Croatia seemed a distant memory after the Netherlands devastated Spain – leaving them bloodied and bruised, like a gored matador awaiting the fatal blow. Much as I love Brentford, and can’t wait for their foray in the Championship, this was the standout match from three games of truly world-class football we could only aspire to.

As ever, if you want the match reports (or the highlights) then read the BBC. For me the salient points of the day’s activity were:

ITV, who I had lambasted yesterday, redeemed themselves somewhat with first use of World Cup favourite, “For those of you just coming from work, the score is”. Sadly, I was still coming home from work, so missed this moment although am reliably informed that 6.25pm was the time; Mexico – Cameroon the game. For the record, a 1-0 win for the Central Americans.

Unfortunately, their oversized score graphic doesn’t seem to have shrunk any overnight and still takes up more screen space than Adrian Chiles. Please ITV, slim this down a bit or, at the least, move it more into the corner.

The BBC then had their turn and seem to have taken the very short-term view with their choice of panel. How they must have laughed a few months ago, at the thought of using Rio (Ferdinand, that is) in Rio (de Janeiro).

Sadly, nobody back home was laughing at his continual name-dropping. I didn’t realise, and you may not have caught this, but apparently he used to play for Manchester United

As one correspondent put it to me afterwards, he has “All the screen charisma of an 18 wheeler lorry reversing very slowly around a corner”. An ironic statement, given that’s much the same as his defensive turning circle

Still for all the downside of Rio (who looked positively distraught at having to stay behind afterwards to answer Facebook questions whilst, presumably, the rest of the panel went out for a few cold ones), the BBC had the pick of the games.

Spain 1 Netherlands 5. The Dutch masters (sorry) obliterated Spain, the highlight for me being Robin Van Persie’s exquisite header to level things. If ever you wanted to see footballing perfection then this was it.

The timing, the run, the dive, the connection and the precision. It makes you wonder if David Moyes might still be in a job had he got this sort of form out of the Manchester United man last season.

Then there was more use of the referee’s spray paint (isn’t this just shaving foam?). Whatever it is, I love this idea although am waiting for one of them to ‘go rogue’ and start freestyle art on the pitch.

Proceedings were rounded off with Chile racing into a 2 goal lead against Australia before allowing them back into the match. The Aussies, presumably put off their game by the awful kit they’d been forced to wear – the rather camp looking combination of tight yellow shirt/shorts and long white socks.

Whilst Chile held on to win 3-1, it was a much tighter, and more exciting affair, than it had any right to be after the Australian ‘no show’ for the first fifteen minutes.

That was Friday. Today sees the first outing for England, who play Italy on the spray painted (green, not white) pitch of Manaus. It promises to be an exciting day of football although, after the fifteen goals from the opening four games so far, I’m betting Roy’s boys will bring these back down to earth with a 0-0 bump.

But don’t listen to me – as somebody much wiser than me pointed out last night, my twitter observations are much akin to a #Chiles-understudy. And, to be fair, he’s probably right.

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Referees ‘paint’ – comes in three sizes

Brazil 1 ITV 0 (and more Brentford shirt news)

13 Jun

News of a stunning piece of Brentford memorabilia up for sale in a moment but we can only start with the World Cup in Brazil.

It’s now the morning after the night before and Brazil have got their first points on the board, running out as 3-1 winners over Croatia. I really enjoyed the game although if you want the full report go to the BBC or some other reputable source. Suffice to say it was all a bit Brentford – Marcelo scoring (albeit an o.g.), a disputable penalty and a last minute goal.

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I now declare this wall chart, open

 

The downside was the ITV coverage. The build up from the panel was as lifeless as the Copacabana backdrop to their studio. The locals clearly forsaking the normally crowded beach to be near a TV. Hopefully their feed was better than ours as Adrian Chiles struggled to get going without the spark of Roy Keane. The banter between Lee Dixon, Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira was as awkward, and painful, as a teenager on a first date.

Two points of note once the game started. Firstly, the score graphic. It was enormous. This was no discreet logo, tucked away in the top left corner and was a real distraction. Come on ITV, sort it out. It was as unsubtle and distracting as a poisonous wart on the end of the aforementioned teenager’s nose.

As for the commentary, we still await the first outing of that World Cup staple, “For those of you just coming in from work, the score is….” . Perhaps 9pm is a bit late for that one but I’m hoping the five o’clock kick off between Mexico and Cameroon sees the classic line trotted out. With any luck the oversized graphic isn’t deemed an adequate replacement.

These small whines aside I can’t wait for things to really get going now, with Friday seeing the first of the tournament’s triple-headers. Grab the remote and get ready to start working on that butt groove in the sofa.

Getting back to matters Griffin Park, there is an incredible item for sale on the eBay auction site at the moment. None other than Bob Taylor’s fully signed and framed shirt from the 1997 play off final against Crewe.

Whilst we won’t talk about what happened in that game, this is still a one off opportunity to get hold of a unique piece of Brentford history. I’ve got more chance of being selected for the ITV football panel than of being allowed to bid for this but, hopefully, one Brentford fan could be very happy by Sunday lunchtime.

You can bid here.

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Your chance to own the shirt off a Brentford legend’s back

Set volume to 11, forget Stroud (and grab your cooling technology)

1 Apr

Brentford travel to Sheffield United today for a League One fixture that has the name Keith Stroud indelibly burned onto my brain. You’d have to have been living in North Korea not to know the facts of this one from last season but the pertinent details bear repeating.

Nine yellow cards, three reds (two for the Bees including a season spannering ban for Tony Craig), four penalties (two missed, ours scored by Marcello Trotta) and an equaliser at the death for Brentford. Shaun Wright-Phillips being the man to rescue a point from a game we could have gone on to win – the Bees were 1-0 up and dominating at HT –  before Stroud lost the plot.

It was a match famously described after the event as “The maddest game of football that ever existed”by the Beesplayer commentating legend Mark Burridge but, in a way, Stroud might have done us a favour, long term.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.