Tag Archives: Middlesbrough

Keep smiling. These pictures might help. My favourite images of 2019/20.

29 Mar

God I miss football at the moment. Given just what on earth is going on in the wider world then one needs to have some perspective yet, at the same time, it shouldn’t be a crime to yearn for that which does so much to unite us. Plays such a huge part in our lives. I want to be celebrating another win for Brentford. Seeing if we could do the double over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Keep on avenging the jinx of Middlesbrough. Moaning about our desperate performances on the road – oh, what I’d give for another trip to Luton Town right now (words I never thought would be uttered again after this season’s debacle in the sleet). I’d love to be laughing about Leeds United falling apart. Again. Sadly, something that stopped just as the Coronavirus curse began to take a stronger grip across the globe. Whilst it was always meant in good humour (my cousin’s husband is as staunch a fan as they come), this was just one of the many aspects that make the Championship what it is. Or, for now, was.   

Being able to see Griffin Park from our house makes things even harder. So close yet so far. The gates are locked for good reason but that doesn’t make it any easier. What I would also say is that community morale seems quite wonderful. People still looking out for one another whilst Social Media continues to deliver a lot more positivity these days.

One such tweet yesterday sent me down the internet wormhole of football imagery. Namely, the words:

If you are a football person please join the challenge of posting a football photo. Just one picture, no description. Please copy the text in your status, post a picture and look at some great memories/pictures. 

The plus point to all this was that it brought some quite incredible pictures to the fore. Without using a traditional hashtag it really was a quite random collection of images. And also a lot of American ‘football’ (catch ball rather than soccer). Oh well, you can’t have everything and it certainly helped while away the first Saturday of lockdown. No bad thing either as, at least, there’s been the distraction of work and my half-arsed attempts at being a teacher to eat up Monday-Fridays. Those guys deserve a medal, that’s for sure 🙂

Now it was a full 48 hours in each other’s company and only a short exercise break / trip to the shops for essential supplies permitted. To be fair, H and Mrs. B were both in great form considering all that was going on. Yours truly shared a previously untold story from the personal vaults regarding the Bees, Stoke City and our ill-fated journey back from the 2002 play-off final. It’s here if you would like to read it and, if nothing else, may help pass few minutes whilst also explaining why some of you may have had a somewhat elongated journey home that night.

But that aforementioned tweet inspired me to have a look back through my own photo gallery. Specifically for this season although given what we’ve got ahead of us, expect a broader retrospective in the coming days. I thought it might be nice to share my favourite images of the campaign so far. Some of which regular readers may have seen before ; others which are new. This is not for any egotistical reasons – they aren’t great pictures, taken mainly on a mobile phone or small digital camera. Mark Fuller, I ain’t.

No, it’s more to remember the good times. To see the smiles of the Brentford family and even our visitors at times – Stuart Dallas, still got it. To know that we will have all of this again. Hopefully even at Griffin Park.

Enjoy….. 

The first two are why we are all currently sitting at home. Like the rest of the UK, Griffin Park is on lockdown. Here’s the New Road and then the Ealing Road view. 

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New Road – the gates are firmly closed

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Our iconic floodlights – currently behind closed doors

And with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s look back at what’s gone before. In no particular order  – perhaps with the exception of the last few.

I’ll apologise in advance for having a few of HB in there. It it’s any consolation, he’s probably missing football more than me. The last few seasons have really seen it click and he just loves everything Brentford. Especially Sam Saunders. Many are the mid-game chats we have about free kicks and dead balls, despite the main man no longer being on the playing staff. Such is his reputation, SS7 still features prominently in our match day routine. 

Daddy? Is THIS Saunders territory?” asks HB just about every game. Nice work, Sam.

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Did we all get the memo about hands on hips?

Next up, Bryan Mbeumo. What a signing. What a demonstration, as if further were needed, of the Brentford recruitment model.

Another high class vehicle to roll off the Griffin Park production line. Almost some sort of BMW, if you will. This was an early season demonstration of his potential when Hull City were the visitors for a 1-1 draw.

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This Mbeumo chap looks like he might have a turn of pace to him

Ah, Stuart Dallas. He can do no wrong in my book. ‘That’ goal against Fulham has earned him a place in Griffin Park folklore.  As was proven when Leeds united were the visitors for our attempt to overtake them and hit the top two on February 11th (how far away does that seem now?).

During one injury break, Stuart not only stopped for a chat but even posed for a photo. Can’t imagine the same scenario playing our with Martin Rowlands. The close proximity of the stands to the pitch allowing for this moment. 

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Work that smile, Stuart

It’s not all sunshine. Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County came to Griffin Park at the end of August for our first home win of the campaign. A 3-1 win in torrential conditions saw the early season dissenters silenced.

To think there were people calling for Thomas Frank’s head prior to this…!!!

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Raining goals at Griffin Park

Ahh, Thomas Frank. If ever a manager epitomised the family bond that we have at Brentford it is Thomas. Passionate, friendly, embracing and always willing to talk to supporters he suns up just what we are about as a club more than anyone I’ve seen before.

The post match laps of appreciation are punctuated by selfies and smiles. Thomas pulling his trademark ‘Fonzie’, usually accompanied by that broad grin of his. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

There are quite a few in here of Saïd. I don’t know if it’s in the sub-conscious or just something that sums up his approach to football. Like Thomas, he can’t do enough to endear himself to the fans – on and off pitch.

This one was against Millwall. That incredible turnaround from 0-2 down on 84 minutes  to ending the game as 3-2 winners. again, the proximity of our seats t the touchline helping capture the moment that third goal went in. I think it was the third, anyway… 

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

This next one was very early in the season. I forget who but when Harry asked Saïd for a selfie, our man went one better.

Goose bumps right now just looking at the one and thinking about how amazing he was with HB. Thank you, Saïd.

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Said – ever popular with the fans

Yet if one player was Harry’s hero then it can only be Sergi. Shirts have Canos 7 on the back and even though injured, HB is still all ‘Sergi this. Sergi that‘.

So imagine when even though injured, he still took a half-stroll around the Braemar Road forecourt. What a man. 

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This following comes from the last time we were all together at Griffin Park. The 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month. The man in charge was our one time nemesis, Keith Stroud. 

Whilst we’ve certainly had our moments, it would be fear to say that he has always taken it on the chin and more than ‘plays along’ – at least, before kick off. This one was taken from his pre-match ‘Mr.Motivator’ style warm up routine (thankfully, without the lycra) where Keith did Dallas i.e. posed for a picture.

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nothing says mascots like Buzz and Buzzette. Nothing says Christmas like Buzz and Buzzette in their Santa hats.

No other words needed.

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Another entry form the big book of Benrahama. QPR away.

The penalty kick awarded just after our hosts had levelled things up saw big balls of steel from the Algerian goal machine. It was about as precision a kick as one could have hoped for. What a finish. What a celebration .

This is the view from the away stand upper. Limbs (whenever they are) followed immediately after.

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Back of the net…!!!

Saïd again. Sorry. Middlesbrough (home) in February. Another 3-2 win for The Bees. Another opportunity to share that unique bond between fans and players in the post match celebrations.

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

David Raya has been one of the stars of the season. Brentford laying any goalkeeping wobbles to rest as we have gone on to become the tightest defence in the division.

This one was taken during the good part of the visit to Luton Town. The part before kick-off.

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David Raya – almost grabbed the equaliser (not a typo).

FA Cup action. Leicester City were the visitors and the winners. But we gave it our very best. Here, Brentford attack once more in an action packed second half. The New Road terrace packed. 

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At least we can concentrate on the league

Birmingham City away. A game played out in horrific conditions but one where we were all there. Including one of Brentford’s most recognisable supporters – by sound as much as sight – Simon ‘Harry Potter’ Hoyle.

Like Jumper Man, Push up Brentford Man, The Phantom trumper of Ealing Road et al, Simon is iconic. 

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Another one from the Millwall game. Got to love that Bryan celebration. Got to love that team spirit.

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Happier times

Bus stop in Hounslow. We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.

Like pub team, tinpot, little old Brentford etc etc, this mantra has quickly been turned from jeer into catchphrase. And we love it .

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

When words collide. This one a look of mutual respect and confusion, taken from the Kurupt FM takeover of Griffin Park back in October.

Whilst the game was against Bristol City, all the talk was about our very special guests.

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Add your own punchline

This season was always going to be different when we signed Pontus Jansson from Leeds United over the summer. It was a transfer that was completely against our model. For one thing, we’d actually heard of him!

What a player. What an inspiration. What passion and confidence. What a way to bind the defence and drive the Bees forward. The difference between a team with Pontus and without him, clear for all to see.

Here’s hoping he gets the chance to finish the promotion dream with Brentford.

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

And if you needed to see what it means to him then here’s one of my very favourites. Oh, that bond between the players. That ecstasy from the supporters. That mutual celebration of, another, goal. Pontus busting every sinew in celebration.

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Ok – into the top five. They probably sum up the Brentford experience for me this season. Forgive the personal nature. Forgive the self-indulgence given the family connection. But, then again, we are a family, and nowhere moreso than in this first one.

It’s not a well taken picture in terms of framing or capturing H. But this is him and Alex Austin celebrating against Middlesbrough. The look says it all.

We love Alex and his family. The advice offered to the officials makes the game even more fun than it already is. The bond that has grown up across the gangway that divides our seats part of what makes Griffin Park so special to us. All that will change at Lionel Road but I’m desperate for us to all to be given the chance for one last game (at the very least) to celebrate this current chapter coming to a close.

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Number 4. HB enjoying football. At this moment all I can see is tremendous joy and its making me very sad. Purely because of everything that is happening outside the front door. It’s also making me feel amazingly proud and even happier to see a look on his face that he’s not had for a few weeks now.

Brentford did this. THANK YOU.

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At number three, another goal celebration. Another from Middlesbrough and one that is a bit blurry.

But it’s the expression from Ollie to the crowd as the players all pile on. The fans reaching back to him. The mutual adoration. A moment that nothing could get in the way of. One of my personal favourite Griffin Park moments this season.

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Number two, Mr. Brentford. Peter Gilham. If ever you could hear a photo, then here it is.

Brrrrreenttttt-forrrddddddddddddd.

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We talked about Thomas earlier. About his approach to the game and to supporters.

THIS is why we love him. Listening to Harry giving him advice. Talking back to him as though there it was the most important thing in his world right then. Delaying his own return to the dressing rooms to celebrate with the players – supporters come first.

It’s just how we do things in Brentford.

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Nick Bruzon

Tough conditions. Tough opponents. Tough to take.

26 Feb

The referee. The weather. Murray Jones. VAR. Barnsley tickets. Ron Noades, Marinus. The South dressing room at Millennium stadium. Jamie Cureton, Jasper Carrot. Birmingham City. It would be easy to find things to blame for last night but the simple fact of the matter is that a 2-1 defeat for Brentford at Luton Town was about as disappointing a performance as we’ve seen all season. The Hatters wanted it, were quick on their feet and first to everything. The Bees struggled to break down our hosts and despite the attacking options available, a rejigged line up was unable to make headway. With Nottingham Forest also winning to move third, the ball is very much in the court of both Fulham and Leeds United – should they want to try and take the opportunity this evening.

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Brentford were unable to find a way through the Luton defence

Ahh, look. I’ve slept on it before even thinking about committing words to paper. It hasn’t changed the disappointment. The sniping on Twitter was there for all to see last night. The struggle on the pitch apparent. Julian Jeanvier was added to the injury list before kick-off and Christian Norgaard joined him during the second half. Mathias Jensen was missing again whilst we were desperately crying out for the solidity of Pontus Jansson to add some shape to the makeshift back line. 

A bright start where we took the game to Luton came crashing down to earth with a bump where an innocuous looking free kick across the box seemed to elude everyone before going in on off Shandon Baptiste. Less than ten minutes gone and Brentford a goal down. With the clock being killed at every possible opportunity, our hosts refused to give an inch. The Bees’ super slick passing machine snuffed out time and again as the midfield and defence held firm. With no way through and Simon Sluga in inspired form between the sticks when an opportunity was forged,  the tension built. And built. 

Then, right into the depths of stoppage time, it was 2-0. Another free kick and another goal. This time at least Luton having the decency to score it themselves. Martin Cranie the man celebrating as he fired the half-cleared original effort back from where it came and high into the net. Brentford left the field to a chorus of boos. The smiles and bright start of forty-five minutes earlier nothing more than a distant memory, washed away in the incessant sleet and rain.

The second half brought more of the same. Frustration. Wayward passes. Ferocious defence. A brick wall midfield. A late goal from Ollie Watkins offering faint hope. A very late sortie upfield from David Raya almost bringing salvation as Ethan Pinnock saw a corner scrambled off the line and Said Benrahma curled one just wide. Yet it all felt too little, too late.

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David Raya – almost grabbed the equaliser (not a typo).

No excuses made – Brentford were second best last night. Luton Town wanted it more and got exactly what their gameplay and endeavour was due. On the plus side, we are still in the play-off zone. We are still six points off second place. Middlesbrough may do us a favour against Leeds United tonight. Swansea City may see their game with Fulham as the opportunity to reignite a rapidly faltering play-off push. Should those results go our way then we are no worse off than before. The upper places still in sight. There are only eleven games to go and we still have destiny very much in our own hands. The chance to lock down a play-off spot, at the very least, one which is ours to own.

But let’s not pretend that we can play like that again and get away with it. The patched up team looked knackered as they chased both the game and their tenacious opponents. Throwing mud at individuals won’t help and I’m certainly not going to start this now. We win together. We lose together. This one gets chalked down to the file marked ‘lessons learned’ and everyone can just pretend it never happened. 

A win at Cardiff City on Saturday will put the smile back on our faces. Perhaps Middlesbrough and Swansea may even do that job for us tonight. Otherwise, its a case of chin up and roll on the weekend. See you there. 

Nick Bruzon

 

Who will tear who apart? Why tonight will be epic.

11 Feb

This is it. This is the latest ‘big one’. Leeds United face their cup final. A trip to Griffin Park to take on a rampant Brentford team. The visitors wobbling and on the ropes after seeing their double figure lead over the play-off pack slowly eroded away to the point where defeat tonight will see them removed from the automatic spots. A result that, if Charlton can somehow avoid defeat at Nottingham Forest, will have the added bonus of seeing the Bees take second place.

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Brentford – rampant

That’s one way of looking at things, of course. Absolutely we’re full of optimism and rightly so. Saturday against Middlesbrough saw more of that ‘never say die’ spirit . The much touted attacking trio helping to make it eight goals from the last two Championship fixtures. If the BMW are making all the headlines for Brentford, our visitors are having theirs written by a horrific run of form that has seen them hit the self-destruct button once more. 

Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again. 

We all know the words. We all know why. Just two wins out of the last ten games will do that to you. Yet to underestimate them would be the cardinal sin. The ultimate error. Anything less than 100% focus on the game being played out in front of us rather than the reputation or the situation could prove fatal. So of course we’ll be behind the team. Of course we’ll be singing ‘that’ song – this is football and any cheap shots are, of course, going to be taken.

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But don’t expect this to be any form of foregone conclusion.

Leeds United are giants. A huge club. One that should be in the Premier league. Massive crowds week in, week out. One time European trophy winners. Champions of England back in the day. We’re just tinpot interlopers. A pub side. A bus stop. Imagine a team like Brentford having the temerity to challenge their divine right to promotion? A team that takes the notion of success and top flight residence being intrinsically linked, screws it up into a little ball and then kicks it firmly into touch. Or, rather, the back of the net.

They’ll be up for this tonight. More, possibly, than any game in recent weeks. A chance to reinstate what their fans consider to be the natural order of things rather than face the ultimate indignity. And this is where Headless Bee absolutely nailed things on Twitter last night, noting: 

I see tomorrow as one hell of a test, Yes Leeds are having a dodgy patch, but if anyone thinks this is a given is in for a shock, a team very much like us with a very good defence, they’re 2nd.

Probably end to end, the team and us need to be absolutely on it.   

Yes, we do need to be on it. We need to not think that this is any form of foregone conclusion. Bielsa is a genius. A king of psychology. Of ripping up the rule book. Of tactical brilliance. A tracksuited demi-god overseeing a once mighty empire and doing his level best to reinstate this to the, perhaps unattainable, heights demanded by his followers. Underestimate him at your peril. But I’d say the same to him and to Leeds United about Brentford. 

Thomas Frank was in fine form during yesterday’s press conference . Respectful but positive, he summed up the current mindset nicely: “We definitely have more momentum than Leeds right now. Everyone knows how much I respect Marcelo Bielsa and what he has done to build up Leeds as a club and as a team but they couldn’t pick a worse place to play Tuesday night”

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Thomas remains full of positivity

That’s not arrogance. That’s a fact. Griffin Park under lights is an incredible place to play football. Packed to the rafters with fans on top of the pitch, it’ll be a cauldron of passion.

Size isn’t everything but more what you do with it. Expect this one to be noisy. Exuberant. Especially when we have the free hit of ‘that’ song. 

Whilst it would be foolish for anyone in TW8 to presume that three points are in the bag already, by the same virtue Leeds have to expect us to go for it. They can’t believe we’ll just step aside and defer to their reputation. They are trying to arrest the decline and restore the natural order but we have momentum and incentive on our side. It has all the ingredients of a thriller.

With Pontus Jansson now close to recovery, he’ll be as desperate to be involved as we are. I don’t envy Thomas Frank that decision. Ethan Pinnock is as permanent a fixture as they come whilst Julian Jeanvier added to his impressive form with the opening goal on Saturday. Stick with the winning team or pick your inspirational captain?  

I can’t wait to find out. Then again, I can’t wait for this one. The one thing you can be sure of is that tonight will be epic.

7.45pm can’t come soon enough. 9.30pm could be incredible. See you there.

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Could Pontus be back tonight?

Nick Bruzon  

The videos that all fans need to see.

9 Feb

Time for the last knockings of the weekend. The residual fall out from a fine win for Brentford as our 3-2 defeat of Middlesbrough saw the Bees end the day smiling. With West Bromwich Albion beating Millwall at a windswept Millwall on Sunday lunchtime, The Baggies are starting to break clear at the top. They now sit four points clear of second placed Joy Division and six ahead of ourselves but has this win heaped further pressure on the Championship’s most emotionally fragile team ?

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The man of the moment as we ended the day smiling

We’ll get there in a bit but first, Brentford. BBC Radio London were in attendance on Saturday , kind of, as they looked to kick off the first in a regular series of ‘fans perspective’ pieces on match day at our London clubs. The Bees got things going, yours truly was entrusted with camera duties and the results are now on line – you can see the film from the Middlesbrough game below. 

If BBC London were bigging us up, their Welsh counterparts are being left with egg on face after this video emerged. Kudos to Josh on Twitter for putting this up – 10 out of 10 for effort. 11 out of 10 on the tinpotometer.

The other video doing the rounds was Said pulling off ‘that’ double nutmeg. No other words needed.

Whilst I’ve probably numbed you all into submission talking about #BeeTheAnnouncer, let’s not forget the hashtag that started them all  – #BeeTheDJ. I have no idea who was driving on Saturday but hats off for playing Killers by Iron Maiden. More, please. Let’s consider it a lucky omen.

 

Next up, The World Cup of Programme Covers.  Having edged past the Tranmere Rovers stripper, Brentford 4000 is now up in as tough a tie as they come. We now face the awesome Donnie Gillies of Bristol City. Featured having  made a brief detour via the costume shop en-route to Ashton Gate.

I can only see the neutral vote heading towards the West Country rather than West London ( I would ) but if you want to see us live to fight another day then you know what to do and can vote for Brentford here (I have).

Finally, West Bromwich Albion. Having beaten Millwall at lunchtime, has this now cranked up the pressure on Leeds even further? Rather than them being able to fight for either of the two ‘automatic’ spots available, is it now a foregone conclusion that West Brom will go up and only a single spot left open?  

We all know how Leeds go under the slightest of psychological pressure, so whilst my preference would have been to see the Lions roar today, there may be an unexpected bonus in West Brom picking up the points. Roll on Tuesday when we find out….

Nick Bruzon

Could it actually happen? Carry on like this and just about anything is possible.

9 Feb

After a while you begin to run out of ways to praise this team. Perhaps the simplest way is by looking at the league placings. Brentford remain fifth but our 3-2 defeat of Middlesbrough means we are now just three points off West Bromwich Albion at the top of the table and two behind second placed Leeds United (fell apart. Again. Nottingham Forest their latest conquerors). With the Elland Road outfit next up at Griffin Park, on Tuesday night, footballing life in TW8 is about as thrilling as it can get.

This one passed me by in a blur of emotion. Of excitement. Of exhilaration and joy. But also of slight angst, if we’re being honest with each other. At least, towards the end where Ollie Watkins’ late, late winner was then put under potential threat by the additional time added on – ironically for much of Boro’s running down the clock. Certainly, goalkeeper Aynsley Pears who seemed to have borrowed Brice Samba’s watch as he pushed things to the letter of the law in the second half to try and steer his side home. Alas, for the Boro, it was all in vain.  

Prior to this, Brentford had begun in dominant form. Middlesbrough allowing us more room to play than previous incarnations. Ahh, the darks days of Karanka and Pulis nothing but a distant memory for The Bees. Instead, we had two teams playing to win but Brentford the ones with their noses in front. Josh Dasilva saw one scooped off the line somehow before Julian Jeanvier opened proceedings. His shot eventually being deemed to have breached the Middlesbrough defences thanks to the joy of goal-line technology. It was a somewhat belated celebration as it suddenly dawned on us that a goal had, indeed, been given. Who cares? They all count ! 

And then things went bonkers in the second half. A spell of little over five minutes saw Lewis Wing equalise from distance through a crowded box. Nooooo. Urgh. Fear not. The Bees went straight back down the other and that man Mbeumo was on hand, with the help of a deflection, to leave Pears able to do little more than hold a conference with his defence over what had just happened. 

Punch followed punch followed punch. With Brentford supporters still eating the goal sweets bequeathed us by Mbeumo’s finish, Boro were back in control. This time, Ashley Fletcher was there to make it 2-2 after a brief consultation between linesman and referee. To a man Brentford appealed agasint this one, handball being the apparent offence, but the goal stood. 1-0 up on 58 had become 2-2 by the time the scoreboard flicked over to 63.

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Another game, another goal. The Bees celebrate retaking the lead.Mbeumo, again

Stop. Pause for breath. Collective composure was restored as Brentford began knocking on the door once more. Benrahma having the best of the chances. Mbeumo, Dalsgaard and Dasilva intermingling down the Braemar time and again but nothing gave. One free kick from the sweetest spot in Saunders territory drifted just over. Yet,oddly, all around was calm. There was no stress from the usual suspects sitting around us whilst the ever wonderful Alex Austin, to our right was the epitome of restraint. This was one game where the officials, including the nearside lineman who seemed to think the pitch was his personal domain, would have benefited from some advice. But no – there was nothing (especially first half) beyond backing the Bees and waiting for something to happen.

And then it did. Mbeumo fed my man of the match, Christian Norgaard, who broke to the touchline and pulled it back for Ollie Watkins. Unmarked in the box, the Championship’s leading goalscorer made no mistake from eight yards out. Gettttttttt! Innnnnnnn!! Oh Ollie , you beauty. Griffin Park a cauldron of euphoria. An explosion of ecstasy and relief wrapped up in the sound of  ten thousand voices coming together. The players running to the touchline to celebrate with the fans and each other. Something that happened again 7(seven) minutes later once the stoppage time had been played out. Brentford controlling the ball and making what was, for the supporters, the stress of the occasion nothing more than a brief delay.

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Celebrating that third . YESSS!!!

Oh, I love this club. I love Griffin Park. Harry’s cousin was there experiencing his first ever live football game and getting it all. The goals. The excitement. The hope. The result. The win. And then that wonderful, wonderful moment where Thomas and the team do their lap of honour. The close confines of our home allowing everyone the chance to get up close and personal in a way just not experienced anywhere else.

Words can’t describe the moment ; sometimes it’s easier to just let the photos do the talking instead. 

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

Next up, Leeds United. That’s a column for another day. Of course there’s going to be more than enough to say about that one. For now, we’ll just keep it to the fact that (another) defeat means Tuesday is suddenly set up to be even bigger than could have been thought possible a few weeks ago. Put simply, a Brentford win means that 12 point gap will have been reeled in and the Whites overtaken. Should that happen I’m pretty sure we’all all dance to Joy Division as popular music’s The Wombats once encouraged us.

That’s to come. For now, though, one last thought about the game. Harry’s match review (which starts below on 19 seconds). In my opinion, this says more about what we did yesterday than any amount of words or nonsense yours truly can pour out. And, yes, I get I’m biased being his dad but you can’t knock the enthusiasm. And that’s all down to this club. To this team. To what is fast becoming a special, special moment. Could it actually happen? Carry on like we did on Saturday and just about anything is possible.

 

Nick Bruzon

Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once.

8 Feb

Thank you Birmingham City. Urghh. Said it. Get the mouthwash. But needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle. There were more than a few smiles from the Brentford faithful last night as our old boys pulled off the mother of all shocks and comebacks in their 3-1 win at Bristol City. With it, the Robins miss out on overtaking us and The Bees stay fifth in the table going in to this afternoon’s crunch game with Middlesbrough. The prize for victory will be the well documented further closing of the ever narrowing gap to Leeds United and West Brom in the ‘automatic’ slots. 

Screenshot 2020-02-08 at 06.17.18Ok – we all know that Leeds are coming to Griffin Park on Tuesday night. We’ve all joked about their falling apart (again) many, many times. And rightly so. They are and that’s brilliant. Chuck in the Pontus factor and it’s understandable we’ve all got more than half an eye on that one. It has been a date highlighted in my calendar for a long, long time. As much for family reasons (Hi, Julian – guess who I’ve got a spare ticket for…) as much as anything else.

Yet to overly look ahead of ourselves is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve got Middlesbrough first and that’s huge. A hurdle of gargantuan proportions for the Bees to try and clear. To give anything but 100% focus to the here and now is a fall waiting to happen.

We all know past form has seen them somewhat of a bogey team. Nobody needs any reminder of that or further regurgitation of yesterday’s column. Forget previous results. Forget the trashing of Hull City last time out. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day….And I’m feeling good. As somebody once sang.

But it’s true. The past – whether immediate or historic – counts for naff all when the teams are read out and run on to the pitch. Wins won’t get themselves based on what has gone before. Based on just turning up. It’s all about the here and now. About getting ourselves as loud as we can to turn Griffin Park into the cauldron of noise that lifts the players to the next level.

Cheesy? Cliched? Perhaps. But also true. Peter Gilham has gone on record many times to share the feedback, direct from the squad, as to what a lift it gives them when the stadium is rocking. If anybody knows, he does. If anyone embodies that explosion of supporter noise, it is him. 

We have cited Peter on these pages a lot. Perhaps more than ever this season. But if anybody has seen us through good times and bad then he’s the one. He is Brentford through and through. We all know he’s been our man-with-the-mic for over 50 years and has as deep a love for the club now as he did way back then.

And whilst we may be going off tangent (it’s just how the words fall out when ad-libbing this column), we are now as close to the finish line of a half-century long marathon as ever before. The ribbon is in sight and should we crash through it into the Premier League, then he will no doubt celebrate more than anybody.

But there’ll be no crashing through ribbons without picking up the points. Without cashing in on favours such as the one performed by Birmingham City last night. We’ll no doubt look to give them some extra special thanks next weekend.

A marvellous opportunity awaits when Middlesbrough visit. Like Simon the Internet obsessed / cyber stalker (delete as applicable) from the BT flatmate adverts back in the day, we’re ‘reeling one in’. And another. And another. And another.

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The BT flatmates – currently in the ‘where are they now?’ file. Or jail.

The play-off race sees us sitting in one of the hotspots whilst the ongoing ability of The Baggies and the Whites to press ‘self-destruct’ rather than emulate Liverpool in the top flight, means that the top positions are a prize very much in contention for whomever can now hit accelerate. Thankfully, we’re driving a BMW. Hopefully our rivals will stay stuck in reverse and we’ll soon be in automatic. 

Whatever has happened to get us to this place has been and gone. We can only play the situation and that starts with Middlesbrough. Today.  Griffin Park is a sellout. We can’t kick the balls but we can raise the roof. That could prove to be a priceless asset.

Ok – that’s me. Apologies. We’ve been a bit rambling and a bit nothing today. But sometimes, its just about trying to prep yourself for the big one. And that’s at 3pm. As Peter says, “Come onnnn. BRENNNTTTTTFORRRRDDDDDDDD !!!!

I can’t wait for this. I can’t wait to hear that. See you there.

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Here’s to some more of this

Nick Bruzon

I’m buzzing. I’m excited. I want more.

7 Feb

Fun though the game at Hull was (and it was) there seems to have been an interminable wait for Brentford to get back in action. Perhaps it is wanting more of the same after that stonking 5-1 win on the road at the weekend. Perhaps it is knowing that if we are able to beat Middlesbrough (certainly, no easy ask) we move to within two points of second placed Leeds United. At least, until they travel to Nottingham Forest in the evening. Perhaps we just want to welcome back Saïd Benrahma and give him that hug in person – metaphorically speaking. Or actually. Saïd, if you are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) the family Bruzon will be on the Braemar Road touchline at full time.

Elsewhere, for the lovers of social media amongst you it’s not Twitter we look at today but facebook, where there’s a new group you may wish to get involved with (blood oaths to the leader not essential).

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Thomas giving some big love. Here’s to more on Saturday

First, as ever, on pitch matters. Saturday was magnificent. We scored five. Being realistic, it could have been ten. That’s not arrogance but a fact. Saïd was on fire and grabbed the headlines but let’s not forget the unsung heroes in midfield – Christian Nørgaard and Mathias Jensen who, in particular was all kinds of the purest filth when carving open the opposition to push the Bees, erm, up. 

At the same time Hull helped us a lot, still reeling from the psychological blow of losing their two star players at the 11th hour (got to hate that transfer window – a pain we know too well). Twenty minutes in it looked as though the abacus and the brackets may need to come out but, in the end, we didn’t quite reach the magical 7(seven) marker. Yet to be anything but over the moon (Clive) about scoring five goals away from home and further boosting our already prolific goal difference would be nothing short of trite. So I’m not. I’m buzzing. I’m excited. I want more.

And it is Middlesbrough the team who offer that opportunity. Cripes, there was a time when even just mention of Boro would have had us quaking in fear. The Smoggies and defeat seemed to go hand in hand for Brentford as we began Championship life. The pain of the 2014-15 play-off semi finals being the rancid cherry on top of a very stale cake. That incredible first season almost coming to the fairytale ending of promotion to the Premier League. Instead, there were Middlesbrough to stop us in our tracks. Every time. An impenetrable fortress of iron clad solidity. A team of footballing Batfinks  – with Aitor Karanka making sure his team had added Karate. Kids ; ask an adult or just use the internet.

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2014-15 saw Middlesbrough like a shield of steel

That was then. This is now. A run of 7(seven) defeats and 2 draws out of 9 games reached an abrupt end with our 2-1 win at the Riverside last season – got to love that lucky brown/orange. Replacement goalkeeper Patrik Gunnarsson coming off the bench for Dan Bentley to keep the hosts at bay on his league debut whilst an own goal and Benrahma did the business for the Bees late on. Paths crossed again at the start of this season where Ollie Watkins popped up to grab the winner. Like the 65, you wait ages and then two come along at once. I guess there are advantages to being a bus stop.

Now for the hat-trick chance. Probably the most crucial of the three recent encounters, given the congestion now occurring at the top of the table. Leeds United are falli etc etc etc but looking purely at ourselves, we have a wonderful opportunity to start breathing down their necks and getting close enough to whisper in their ear (preferably ‘choke choke choke’).

Brentford will, in all likelihood, remain unchanged. Thomas Frank has already confirmed that Pontus Jansson will be unavailable. Albeit recovering rapidly and hoped to be ready for some part of the action on Tuesday night against his former club.  That said, one would imagine that new boys Shandon Baptiste and Tariqe Fosu may make the bench after our own deadline day shopping. 

As for the visitors, they are clear of the relegation zone they occupied for a long part of the early season although reaching the play-offs would seem even beyond the most optimistic supporter’s aspirations. Moreso, given a recent run of DLDD in the Championship. Cliche and expectation suggests they’ll be parking the bus at the Griffin Park stop. Past form also dictating that they’ll be robust in the challenge. These, situations the Bees have struggled against with an open and attacking flow to the game being very much our medium in which to shine. Still, with home advantage up the sleeve and the biggest incentive of all ahead of Leeds on Tuesday,  it’s our place to dictate the play. Here’s to giving that lesson.

Off field, for those of you wanting to increase your interaction with fellow Bees then there’s a rapidly growing group on Facebook – Brentford FC Facebook chat. It does what it says. Articles, chat, fan interaction and even the odd bit of dodgy photoshop (although perhaps not the full fat deification of the Bees found on some of the more, erm, intense pages). 

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Dodgy photoshop paying homage to our heroes? Why not?

As author Megan Whalen Turner so famously wrote in ‘The King of Attolia’ “It isn’t an easy thing to give your loyalty to someone you don’t know, especially when that person chooses to reveal nothing of himself. 

So why not reveal yourselves (not literally ; that isn’t what the internet is for) to your fellow supporters and get to know a bit more about each other – and our club. You can join up here.

Until then, here’s to Saturday. I can’t wait for  this one. See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

The mother of all battles is under way. YOUR help needed.

5 Feb

Brentford may be out of the FA Cup after being beaten by high flying Leicester City but we’re still fighting a battle on two fronts. Sure, there’s the Championship promotion race where the action continues on Saturday with the visit of Middlesbrough but there’s also the World Cup. Of programme covers, that is. And your help is needed as a titanic second round struggle is now ensuing.

We’ve covered this before but let’s cut to the chase. We’re in action. Now. Live, on Wednesday. The edition produced to mark the occasion of our 4000th game being drawn against the somewhat random nature of the infamous stripper featuring as cover art. Ahh, the 80s. 

Being blunt, we’re losing. As it stands. Your vote, every vote, IS needed. The ‘stripper’ was last season’s hot favourite before being beaten in the semis by eventual winner Boro’ and their iconic Ayresome Park artwork. Truly a thing of beauty and a worthy winner in a competition that, last time out, was devoid of the Bees.  

Now, Rovers are many pundits’ choice to go one better this time around. But Brentford can cause what may be deemed the mother of all upsets before the vote closes just after 8pm GMT.

With the Middlesbrough goalie already knocked out after a shock first round defeat, the field is slightly wider open. The link is below. With your help, we can do this…..

Come on. Why are you still reading? I mean, thanks but some things are more important. Get voting. Please. What a way to start Life at Lionel Road with a World Cup Winners ‘star’ adorning the programme cover.

Competition is going to be tough for whoever gets through. Could it be us? Somebody has to take the prize from now departed Middlesbrough  – why not Brentford?  

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The current holder has, sadly, been knocked out

Nick Bruzon

 

Just when things couldn’t get any more intriguing in The Championship….

17 Jan

There’s plenty happening on Friday morning and Brentford haven’t even got close to being involved, yet. Our weekend trip to Huddersfield Town is another opportunity to keep pace with / close the gap further on Leeds United. We’re currently third in the Championship table after humping QPR although know that should Fulham beat injury hit Middlesbrough at The Gin Bar tonight then they will, temporarily, overtake us. Although one point behind, a draw won’t be good enough thanks to their vastly inferior goal difference of +11 compared to a division’s best +23 for The Bees. Elsewhere there’s trouble for the club formerly known as Frank Lampard’s Derby County,  Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Please. Stop sniggering. There’s nothing funny about being accused of breaching EFL spending rules.

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Good times at Griffin Park last Saturday

First and foremost, Brentford. Not only does our game at Huddersfield Town present the chance to keep up the pressure on Leeds and West Brom  – both of whom are currently falling apart in the box quicker than a dropped jigsaw – but perhaps also there’s a slight element of payback. Anybody present at the Griffin Park Kickathon agaisnt the Terriers back in November can’t help but struggle to remember how awful it was. Our form since that point has been pretty much non-stop, but that encounter (ending in a 0-1 defeat) was horrific and best forgotten. It was described at the time on these pages as “A turgid afternoon in dank conditions” and has long since been consigned to the darker recesses of the memory. The place Where Mrs. Brown and her boys reside. Probably wearing Team GB tracksuits and drinking ‘expresso’. On Star Wars day, May the fourth.

We digress, but that’s how awful it was . Possibly rivalling September’s 0-0 with Stoke City for a text book demonstration of anti-football. That was then, though. We’ve since gone on to dump Stoke out of the FA Cup with our B-team and I have every confidence that the first XI will do similar tomorrow. Or, at least, have a much better chance of showing what they can do on their day.

Last weekend’s blitz of QPR saw us devastate our neighbours in a 15 minute first half flurry of non-stop attacking football. A goal apiece for the much touted WMB was bookended with further chances to extend the lead. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin, watching on from the Director’s box, could only share the bemusement of his fellow Rangers’ fans as their world fell apart. It was yet another stunning performance from Brentford and I’d bet on more to come tomorrow.

Ironically, Mark will be watching on again. This time in his new guise as interim Chief Executive of Huddersfield Town. I’ve a lot of time for Mark – who was always extremely approachable when at Griffin Park – and whilst wishing him all the best in this role, will perhaps delay those good wishes until Sunday. There’s no room for sentiment when there are points at stake, especially with so much riding on this one.

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Plenty to mull over for the Huddersfield Chief Exec last weekend

Yet my faith in this team is unshakeable at present. My knowledge of their ability and pleasure on watching them breaking at 100mph sky high. Honestly, and this isn’t arrogance, such is the way we are playing I’d back us to pick up the points anywhere at the minute. Thomas Frank can do the job of keeping the player’s feet on the ground and telling them there are no easy games, take each one as it comes et etc. For the fans, optimism is a good, good thing and I’m loving it.

Fulham do have that chance to see us start the day in fourth place, should they get the home win against Middlesbrough this evening. Sadly, they will. Even without Aleksander Mitrovic they’ll have too much in them to come away with anything less than three points. But that’s all by the by as long as we do our thing on Saturday. Especially given as Leeds have a trip to Loftus Road – if ever a game said ‘away banker’ it is that one. On the plus side, with West Brom not in action until Monday evening, there’s further opportunity to close the gap on at least one of the top two, IF we can do our thing. No pressure lads 🙂

But these are good times. Lionel Road season tickets are flying off the shelves with the Twitter hashtag #MyNewHome showing plenty of smiling faces. The latest I saw using that one saw Alex Austin and his family now booked in, meaning the helpful advice and reminders of the rules offered to linesmen will continue long into our new home and, all being well, The Premier League. Magnificent news.

We’re doing all of this on budget and within the rules of the EFL. Something Birmingham City have already fallen fall of and now, it seems, Derby County (can we just take the “Wayne Rooney’s” as a given?) are facing trouble. The charges brought by the authorities relate to losses in the three years up to June 2018. With rules allowing clubs to lose up to £39m over a three year period (still, wow),  the controversial deal to sell Pride Park to owner Mel Morris for £80m continues to attract scrutiny. As the BBC reports, “The Rams have leased back the ground, which was said to have been independently valued at £80m despite it being on the club’s books as an asset worth £41m, from a company owned by Morris.” Hmm, sounds legit.      

 This one is sure to rumble. I’m just glad our own set up is one which is so tightly controlled. Sure, it always hurts short term when we see our heroes sold (emotionally, more than on the pitch) but I know whose shoes I’d rather be in. Sustainable, improving, getting stronger by the season and with a new home imminent. Or the club now having to answer some very awkward questions.

There’s not much more to say here. I’m sure The Rams will argue they’ve done nothing wrong. Mind you, so did QPR when they got fined. And that didn’t work out too well for them.

Instead, all the focus for us should be on events in Huddersfield. Perhaps with half an eye on Loftus Road and The Cottage…

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Saturday’s goalscoring heroes – accelerated like a Porsche off the starting line

Nick Bruzon

Chin up. It could be a lot, lot worse.

30 Dec

Brentford left Millwall on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat on Sunday, following a game that could politely be described as ‘turgid’ . The only goal coming early on after a defensive mishap that culminated in the ball reaching Aiden O’Brien rather than being hoofed clear by David Raya when the initial pressure was minimal. O’Brien made no mistake from outside the box with the net gaping. Eight minutes gone, a goal down (another already disallowed) and that was it for the highlights. Not much else happened. But with Leeds United shipping four to Birmingham City as they finally picked up a win, and West Bromwich Albion going down at home to Middlesbrough, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Besides, we could be Arsenal. Please. Stop sniggering.

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A rare venture in to the Millwall half

First up, well played Millwall. They did an absolute job on us. Brentford were allowed all the ball we wanted in our third of the field but the second we tried to break clear we were closed down. The Lions running at pace to strangle any attempt at playing the ball. Our usual free flowing football snuffed out and no answer available. It was no form of spectacle but goals win games and if the price of that was anti-football then well down to our hosts. They absolutely came out on top there. 

A chance for Mbeumo on half-time and a bobbled shot from the unmarked Jan Zamburek late on were about as good as it got for Brentford. We were out muscled with the three bookings for the home side feeling somewhat on the generous side. Referee Robert Jones surprising us on more than one occasion by keeping his cards in his pocket. Who knows what goes on in the minds of the officials but, being honest, Brentford could have been playing against nine men and I don’t think we’d have scored. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

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‘No foul, ref!’ Seems fair

So. Not great but let’s not lose heart. This was one game and we know what this team can do. Even West Brom lost (at home) whilst Leeds United needed an own goal deep, deep into injury time to pick up the points at Birmingham City. The 4-5 scoreline there meaning that we are now level with them on goals against. No team in the Championship has conceded fewer (happy?) than our, and their, 20 in 25 games. Interestingly, Leeds have let in half that total in the last four games alone. Kudos to our defence for being so consistent, despite what happened yesterday. Concern for theirs as it seems to be hitting some sort of self-destruct mode.

Technically, we’ve made ground on the currently second placed team. West Bromwich Albion lost top spot after losing 0-2 against rapidly improving Middlesbrough. For The Bees, it means we’ve clawed one back in the potentially crucial goal difference stakes.  

Clutching at straws? Perhaps. But the big, big thing for me is that we end 2019 sitting fourth in the Championship table. Fourth. That’s a stunning achievement and leaves The Bees magnificently set as we enter the second half of the campaign. It was only a few months ago that a significant element of the fanbase were calling for the head of Thomas Frank. How ridiculous does that seem now? How ridiculous was it then? Now look at us. Look at him. It’s a wonderful time to be a Brentford supporter and has been for years (the Marinus experiment aside).

Nobody has a divine right to be ‘any good’. Past form counts for naff all if you can’t cut it on the pitch at present. Look at how Birmingham City continue to under achieve despite all their investment and all their noise over recent years. Look at the Premier league where the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United are patchy, at best. Despite now being on their third manager since the departure of Arsene Wenger in May 2018, the Gunners’ woes continue. They are now closer to the Premier League relegation spots than the Europa League places. Pretensions of grandeur built on a rose tinted idyll of marble halls and Invincibles still reigning supreme over the reality that is a bang average team, with one good player, having taken residence in a library.

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Arsenal in a nutshell – an oldie but a goodie

Brentford are the other way. We know our limits. We know our history. We know how awful things have been for so, so long. Being honest, yesterday’s game could have been copy-pasted straight out of the Terry Butcher era. No attacking threat and a sloppy goal against. The difference being that those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth can recognise how amazing things are now. Have been for the last ten years. 

I can understand our younger element expecting nothing but WWWW and that’s fair enough. They’ve only ever known good times. Yet for me, it is a case of every win and every step up the table being another crazy reminder as to how far we have come.

So yes, let’s not pretend that yesterday wasn’t disappointing. It was. But as much because I went into it genuinely thinking that we’d win. That’s nothing to do with Millwall but simply the self-belief and confidence that surrounds Griffin Park at present. Every game is another opportunity to continue this amazing journey that, one hopes, will end with us playing (or overtaking) the likes of Arsenal next season.

Having slept on it, perhaps this was a reminder that some of us needed. Myself included. Confidence is a great thing but this is one of the toughest leagues in world football. Anyone can beat anyone. Look at Middlesbrough. Look at Millwall. Look at Preston (who went down at home to Reading). We have a wonderful team who can take on the best on our day. 

Sadly, yesterday wasn’t it.

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Nick Bruzon