Tag Archives: Natalie Sawyer

Kit news. We have kit news. Of sorts. Plus a bright and breezy romp…

2 Jun

Even years are fab. Odd ones suck. 2016 – saw the Euros and the Olympics. 2018 – has the World Cup. 2017 – nothing . Absolutely nothing. What one New Road observer described to me yesterday as ‘A sports wasteland’. Unless you like Andy Murray. But then we get that every year. For football / Brentford fans a long, hard summer awaits. We’ve a 35 day wait until we can see the lads in vaguely meaningful action (the game at Aldershot) whilst the visit of Southampton is, as it stands, the only pre-season action announced at Griffin Park

Indeed, looking at the key dates between now and August when the Bees continue Championship life, it really does seem like a case of slim pickings. At least if you need your football fix.

Dates for the diary – 2017/18.

Father’s Day: 18th June
Sky Bet EFL fixtures are revealed: 21st June 2017
Aldershot Town: away 7th July
Oxford United: away 19th July
Southampton: home 22nd July
MK Dons: away 25th July
Sky Bet EFL season begins: 5th August 2017 (subject to TV)

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35 days?? That’s more than a month.

All pretty standard fare, really. But why Father’s day? This is no unsubtle hint from yours truly. Mrs B normally does a great job on that front (although if anybody is struggling for an idea then there’s a book I could recommend…).

If football action is thin on the ground, then so are updates about our new kit for 2017/18. It’s been tumbleweed out there. I am, as ever, desperate to find out how we’ll be looking next season. Thick stripes? Thin stripes? Collars? Long sleeves (please, Adidas. Please). Will the away be the green we discussed so much last season? What about yellow/black – a combination that proved incredibly popular in the recent poll to discuss our best ever shirt to feature the previous crest? Or a return to ‘traditional’ two-tone blue?

Likewise, how we are going to launch next season’s effort? Incredible though it was to get the supporters involved last time around (and I can only thank the club, yet again, on that front) nobody is yet to surpass Blackburn Rovers and their ‘Birdy’s Date’ video. I’ve said that before and I will say it again. Probably every season going, at least until we make our own equivalent – Buzzette’s Date, anyone?

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Players and fans were all involved last time around

Yet for all my supposition, there has been nothing out there. With Brentford understandably focussing on season tickets at present, why would we make distractions on that front? Equally, with clubs now launching shirts every day (Southampton and Alan McCormack’s Luton Town amongst the most recent to go with stunning ‘away’ efforts – do check them out, especially the Saints which is very ’80’s Brentford) one does have to wonder when it will be our turn?

Fellow kit enthusiast/nerd/obsessive Luis Adriano has been on the case though. Taking to Twitter, he put the question to Mark Devlin this week. As ever, our Chief Executive was quick to reply giving the slightest of clues…..

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For a mate! Sure, Luis. Sure 🙂

So Father’s Day is on the calendar in the Bruzon household. Although not just for the traditional reasons this season. Mark / Kitman Bob, if you are reading (stranger things have happened) any more clues would be gratefully accepted…..

The other traditional thing at this time of year is the plugging of the season review e-book. Please. Stay with me – this time around it is for a great cause . All funds raised are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Likewise, any subsequent sales from the previous versions.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 and a bit of new material too, you can pick it up, here. It’s all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it.

A bright and breezy romp…. this is a cheap and worthwhile read.” They aren’t my words but those of sometime Bees Player pundit and ‘Ahead of the game’ author Greville Waterman.

So PLEASE. Do something great to help our club. What else will £1.99 get you? What better way to spend some time on the commute to work, the beach, by the pool or even hiding out in the toilet at work (or is that just me?).

In all seriousness, I need to give a HUGE thanks to everybody who has downloaded this so far. Likewise, those who have helped give it a nudge – the players, Beesotted and West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore amongst others.

For less than the cost of half a pint on match day, it’s the season review that has been designed to fit in your pocket (if you are using an i-phone).

If nothing else, Father’s Day is approaching. Just saying….

This is it - the latest version now available. For a great cause

Out now – for a great cause

Nick Bruzon

This is the big one (for Wagner). And a special ‘thank you’ for Bees fans.

29 May

This is it. Today’s the day Brentford discover their final Championship opponent for next season. The play-off final sees Huddersfield Town and Reading doing battle in the, so-called, £100million match. Certainly, that’s the figure usually quoted in TV revenue for the team fortunate enough to come out on top in the choke off (there’s no other word for it) to reach the Premier League. That said, reading an article in The Independent last week, they are quoting it being as much as £170m rising to £290m. That’s just incredible.

For the winner . Riches and acclaim. Then the chance to see if they’ll emulate the likes of Watford, Bournemouth or Burnley in survival rather than Hull City and Middlesbrough with an immediate return. For the loser there’ll be tears, ‘if onlys’, the chance to come back Griffin Park (see – its not all bad) and inevitable comparisons to Derby County.

As a neutral, I love watching the play-offs. Moreso, this match. The FA Cup on Saturday was fantastic. Much as it loathes me to say it, Arsenal fully deserved their victory as Premier league Champions Chelsea were swept away. Victor Moses performing the worst dive since Greg Louganis cracked his head on the board during the 1988 Olympics pretty much summed up their effort.

Yet talking to a friend in The Griffin (other pubs are available) during the game, the conversation turned to the relevance of that tournament. It is the world’s oldest cup competition and, as a Brentford fan, I’d simply love us to do well. To embark on an epic cup run. To perhaps emulate that wonderful run of 88/89 or even go one better. To take a tinfoil cup to Wembley itself.

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The Bees haven’t reached an FA Cup quarter final since Liverpool in 88/89

But for other teams, certainly at the business end of the top flight, it is treated largely as an afterthought throughout most of the campaign. Weakened teams are fielded in what has become more of a nice to win than a need to win. Qualification for the Champions league, and the riches/prestige that come with that, is very much viewed as the ‘must have’ prize by many.

Did Spurs have a better season by finishing second in the Premier league and reaching that European tournament? Or could Arsenal, who played like they really wanted it, be argued to have been the more successful through getting their name on a trophy but missing out on the big one in Europe? The romantic in me says it is the FA Cup. The realist in me knows just what the Champions league can bring in terms of revenue and reputation to those clubs whose financial model and being able to compete absolutely rely on repeat qualification.

As it stands, Brentford are yet to make an FA Cup final (I’m not counting the War cup) or reach the play-off for the Premier League. That said, we gave it quite a go in 2014/15 when Middlesbrough were all that stood between us and a trip to Wembley for a crack at the top flight. Move along. Nothing to see here beyond another notch in the bedpost marked ‘challenging record’ after 8 attempts made.

Yet I’ll absolutely be glued to the screen this afternoon when Huddersfield and Reading walk out. This is no ‘nice to have’ match. This is all about the pressure and the reward that comes with victory. Everybody knows what is at stake. It is a game that combines the prestige of winning the FA Cup with the finances that come with making the Champions’ league.  There’ll be a global audience tuned in to this in a battle of who can hold their nerve.

Let’s be honest, nobody could pick a definite winner out of these two. I’m still amazed Reading made it, certainly based on the way Brentford played against them this season. Huddersfield led the table early and did the double over the Bees, yet it was the Royals who came third and despatched a very, very good Fulham team along the way. Much as it pains me to admit.

Instead, we’ll just have to leave this one to the players on the day. Who wants it more? Personally, I’m backing David Wagner’s team. And for no more illogical reason than the oft made reference on these pages to him and that one time X-Factor singer, err, Wagner.

Well, it seems that now worlds have actually collided. And how!! I’m not sure if this is car crash or sheer brilliance. Enjoy…

And finally.. a HUGE thank you to call those who have already downloaded this year’s e-book: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all funds from this one (and the previous titles) are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17 you can pick it up, here. Along with all the usual Brentford stuff, we look at how the Championship season played out as teams came and went aswell as the ‘other stuff’ (fans of Mrs. Brown and her boys should probably look away now).

Hearing Yoann Barbet and Lasse Vibe speak at the player of the year dinner after sharing the Community player of the year award for the work they do with the Trust was truly inspirational. We all know how wonderful our club is and so, from a personal note, I’d love to make some gesture back – no matter how small.

Downloading any of the titles is now for a great cause. Hey, you may even enjoy reading. Funnier things have happened.

THANK YOU

This is it - the latest version now available. For a great casue

The latest version now available – for a great cause
Nick Bruzon

What a night. Harlee and Jota go head to head at Player of the Year awards.

8 May

What a night. With the dust not even settling on Sunday afternoon’s defeat by Blackburn Rovers at Griffin Park, the Brentford family reconvened for the season end Player of the Year awards.

With Natalie Sawyer hosting the ceremony , ably abetted by Peter Gilham, the night marked a wonderful end to a third successive season in the Championship. And a third successive top ten finish. It was something noted by Chairman Cliff Crown who, as with those who would follow him to the microphone, was quick to note not just the great job done by all at Brentford this season but, as importantly, the optimism with which we can view the forthcoming season.

No more so was this demonstrated than with the ‘breaking news’ (and there was even a graphic for this) that Jota’s contract extension had been triggered. He’s with us for 2017/18 ! He’s staying with us. This is just stunning news and received one of the biggest cheers of the night. As one would expect.

In terms of the awards, Harlee Dean scooped a brace including the big one – supporters’ player of the year. He gave an interesting pair of speeches, highlighting where he has come from over the last few years, despite the various levels of trust shown in him by Dean Smith’s respective predecesors. On the sending off against Blackburn his own admission was that he just wasn’t going to let them score, even though it wouldn’t have made a difference to us. If anything told you what you needed to know about his fighting spirit then here it was.

All being well the club will publish the video highlights of these over the next day or so. The positivity and goodwill emanating from not just Harlee and Cliff but also the likes of Dean Smith, Mark Devlin and a departing Alan McCormack in their speeches was almost tangible.

Ryan Woods was named player’s player of the year. Perhaps one of our unsung heroes, he’s somebody we almost take for granted. Obviously he’s good, very good. Yet it is only in his absence that we truly see how much he does, what value he is to this side and how conspicuous the gap created by his absence is.

There were touching stories from Yoann Barbet and Lasse Vibe in picking up their Community awards whilst Zain Westbrooke picked up the first honour of the night in being named B-team player of the year. But it was that man Jota who really took the limelight.

Firstly with his goal of the season award. That wondrous, wondrous moment against QPR at Griffin Park which Jake Bidwell, and the rest of their defence, are probably still having nightmares about. Well played Nico Yennaris and Josh Clarke in not making it a Jota 1-2 in this category as the one against Derby County failed to make the top 3. What a mark of the quality we have !

But secondly, and with due respect to Captain Harlee, perhaps the REAL big one of the night was a return for Hottie of the Year. Joining a list of previous winners including Andre Gray, Jonathan Douglas and Sam Saunders, the latest name to be added to that list is now Jota.

Let’s be honest, even for us married men that one was never in doubt. His hair, something most of us aspire to as much as his footballing ability, could have won that prize on its own. Here’s to seeing if he can scoop it in 2019/20.

What a season it has been. There’ll be more to come over the week. Until then, it simply remains to say a HUGE thank you to all involved in last night’s event. It really was enormous fun, the players were magnificent and it showed yet again (as if any reminder were needed) what a wonderful club we have.

THANK YOU Brentford FC.

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Jota – the hair.

Nick Bruzon

That Sky One Harchester United thing. Dear Sky TV, Andy Ansah, Richie et al….

3 May

These pages usually talk about Brentford FC but, occasionally, we look further afield than Griffin Park. Today is just one of those. It is a time when we need to look back to look forward. And also ask the question – is it time for a footballing renaissance?

That Sky One Harchester United thing”. Not my words but those of Absolute Radio DJ Richie Firth, talking on Wednesday morning’s Christian O’Connell Breakfast show. Regular readers may well be aware of, amongst other things, the show’s role in resolving the Cameron Diaz / Brentford story (something which, for the record, our own club commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge also had a hand in at one point).

But this was not a discussion about celebrity fans (or lack of). Instead, it was talk of actor Ricky Whittle and his current role in TV series American Gods. The actor, who has also appeared in Hollyoaks and on Strictly Dancing, is probably best known for playing Ryan Naysmith on what Richie had called That Sky One Harchester United thing. Or, of course, Dream Team.

Ahh, Dream Team. Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club Harchester United. Combining real life stadia and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Bee’s boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee (and member of our ‘top ten moustaches‘ club), Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

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Ansah – wonderful Tekkers

I caught up with Andy a few years ago whilst writing a ‘Where Are They Now’ article for the Griffin Park match day programme. It goes without saying that the main topic of conversation was this wonderful, wonderful show. It was a truly privileged behind the scenes insight (and you can read more below) but, if I’m being equally honest, since finishing in 2007 the show has slipped from most people’s memory.

But then Wednesday saw Richie do his thing, even taking to Twitter where he noted, “Everytime I pass the Dragon’s Lair on the train at Millwall I get misty eyed. Bring it back @sky1”

Boom. Quicker than you could say Karl Fletcher, Lynda Block or Luis Amor-Rodriguez (think of a low budget Jota) the memories came flooding back.

Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

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L-R, John Black, Luis Amor-Rodriguez, Karl ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, Sean Hocknell

It wasn’t just me. Pick of the highlights to subsequently flood Twitter was that of @JohnDryden1 who noted: Lawlor in goal? That must of been after Jamie Parker held his team mates at gun point in the changing room.

As you do.

But now, ten years on, is it time to bring back Dream Team? Does Richie, a one time self-proclaimed soothsayer of scores, have his finger on the footballing pulse once again?
Would people watch it ? Yes, yes and yes have to be the answers to all three questions.

Sky 1, if you are reading (you probably aren’t ) how about it? Natalie Sawyer, any chance you could have a word with the bosses?  Andy Ansah (again, probably not reading), if anybody has the contacts it must be you?

With Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and a new stadium on the horizon in Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harcehster? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ?

If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

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Andy dons the monogrammed tracksuit in his Harchester United days

And if anybody was in any doubt about the love for the show, this is what Andy Ansah himself had to say about it in that aforementioned interview:

Having finally retired from playing, all of a sudden Andy appeared on Sky one’s football based ‘drama’ series, Dream Team, playing himself at fictional club ‘Harchester United.’ A guilty pleasure for many viewers, myself included, but for all the wrong reasons! Wooden dialogue, outrageous plots and, as Andy himself offers, “The Lynda Blocks of this world”, its combination of beautiful women and real match action made it compulsive viewing for close to ten years. So how did he go from footballer to actor?

“I went to a Take That concert at Wembley, believe it or not. I made my decision then that I was going to retire from football. I met two people there and I said, ‘What do you do ?’ “ Oh, we do ‘extras’ work?” They were stand in doubles.

I thought that sounded interesting because I’d always liked acting and I love my films. Some friends of mine were on Dream Team doing the footballing extras although they were a lot younger than me. So I thought, ‘ok’, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stop playing pro-football, play a bit of part time, join ‘Dream Team’ and learn how to be an actor.

Subsequently, I joined as one of the football extras but because I was older than everyone else, I was thirty then whereas they were nineteen/twenty, I used to spend all my time with the directors and producers who were the same age. They used to ask questions about football all the time – how would we do this or that? I found myself directing the football for them and then within a year they made me the producer of football on Dream Team. It was crazy!”

Alongside the move to producer came a step up from ‘extra’ to acting role aswell, portraying the club’s assistant coach, Andy Ansah (!!) This also meant a few lines per show, with regular Ansah gems including takes on , “All right, you lot ! Get out on the field and warm up,” and “Leave it, gaffer. He’s not worth it.”

I put it to Andy that it must surely have been fun to be involved?

“I loved it, I loved it. Listen, it was brilliant. The show itself was low budget but it was built up on people. The people were fantastic and it had cult status. No matter how bad it was, you’d be able to say – I know who that is. That was Drogba’s goal for Chelsea against so and so. That’s what made it so much fun.

At the end, it kind of died a death. I was there for six years and when I left I was offered a Hollywood job with the film, “Goal”. That’s when I left and they ended up employing four different people to take up my one post on that show. That’s how much I did.”

As for those famous/infamous cameos? “The guys were great. Being honest, I should thank the likes of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and the West ham players. They mainly got me that producer role because I pulled in my contacts to get those guys on the show. One time, Andy had just got called back into the England squad and all the press were outside the training ground at Man United. I had to go and meet him at the training ground and came out the back door with Andy and Dwight , then drove to Stockport County so we could film them on Dream Team – for nothing. It was absolutely crazy. Can you imagine a footballer now using his image rights and saying, ‘I’ll come on your show for nothing’ but that’s how much of a cult status it was.”

After six seasons at Harchester United, ‘Goal’, and the lure of the silver screen proved too much, although not for the first time !

“Infact, whilst I was doing Dream Team, after two years I also did a film called : Mike Bassett England manager. I cast Terry Kiely from Dream Team (popular character, Karl Fletcher) and Scott Mean who used to play for West Ham to come and work on that film. I did all the choreography on that film myself, which was a big job! We shot at Wembley and also went to Brazil. I was there for almost two months, filming at the Maracana, Botafogo and everywhere.

It’s a hard job…!!”

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Bassett / Tomlinson – one of the many famous faces to film at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

The Bluetones, Hard-Fi and Theaudience form Staines supergroup in honour of King Jota.

17 Apr

With Brentford travelling to Barnsley today you might expect the normal prematch nonsense. Hot off the heels of Friday’s hammering of Derby County, where a brace apiece from Lasse Vibe and the talismanic Jota saw pun writers having a field day, it would be the perfect time to ‘go again’ with the big game build up. Yet headlines including Demolition Derby. Rams to the Slaughter. Silence of the Rams. Rams Raided and my own personal winner –  Bees guilty of battering Rams etc etc etc tell you all you need to know about that one. Poor Barnsley. If Brentford put in even half that performance then the Tykes would probably be better focussing on the half time mascot race between Toby and Buzz.

So we’ll leave the football for now. At least, the on pitch stuff. One of the things I love about Brentford is that everybody knows everybody. One minute you could be outside the pub with your regular match day friends, then next you find yourself talking to jumper man, having Harry Potter bawling in your ear or Billy Grant waving a microphone in your face. You see Natalie Sawyer walking past. Chairman Cliff Crown stops for a chat. Look over there, Marcus Gayle is holding court. And isn’t that Richard Archer out of Hard-Fi talking to him? Alongside Adam Devlin from one of my all time favourite bands, The Bluetones. All we need is Cameron Diaz for a full house. Although, sadly, that’s a spot that will have to go on hold (at least, for now) due to well documented reasons.

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Jumper Man – one of many familiar Brentford faces

But the point being this is all run of the mill stuff. Between 2pm and 7pm on a Saturday afternoon we’re all Brentford fans. Whoever you are and whatever happens outside the confines of Griffin Park is stuff for another day. For now, a love of the Bees unites us all as the great and good rub shoulders and enjoy the vibe.

But today we should think about what happens outside of Griffin Park because word reaches me, perhaps appropriately on Easter weekend, of a Holy Trinity coming together. A musical Holy Trinity or, if you will, a so called supergroup.

A power trio comprising Devlin (Adam, not chief executive Mark), Richard Archer and the one time musical cohort of Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Billy Reeves. The very same Billy Reeves these days more commonly known for his wonderful work with BBC Radio London.

Yes, Billy is at it again. The man who brought us the uber catchy ‘Hey! Championship!’ to celebrate our promotion from League 1 and follow up single ‘Goodbye Mark Warburton’ has now linked up with the aforementioned musical wing men to form Grown Men in Tears –   Staines’ answer to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The product of this output is ‘Welcome Home, King Jota’  – quite possibly Billy’s finest end of season song to date.

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Grown Men in Tears. (l-r) Archer, Devlin, Reeves.     c/o The Jolly Baker, Ashford

Kudos to Adam and Richard. With added glockenspiel and flamenco guitar outro it really is Billy’s crown jewel. How catchy. Oh that chorus. Oh, the namechecking in the lyrics.  “He opens up his legs, puts in a corner, for Harlee Dean’s big head” being amongst the finest and, yet, slipping into the verse as deliciously as the King himself playing the ball over.

Oh that chorus. The harmony. I Love it. Absolutely love it. What starts off with a slightly melancholic air quickly turns into an ear worm that burrows in deep and won’t let go. A perfect 3 minutes 58 seconds of music that is as silky smooth as the man himself. Even better, its all for charity with all proceeds going to Prostate Cancer UK Charity. Move fast, though – the single will only be available for one week (as a download, 79p) via Billy’s twitter page https://www.twitter.com/TheBillyReeves  and is released April 21st.

Come for the Hard-FI / Bluetones connection, stay for musical genius.

Jota – if you are reading (you aren’t) the Brentford family love you. If this doesn’t tell you, nothing will.

You can watch the video and hear the song below. Then rush out and buy it on the 21st for just 79p. Its all for charity, mate. And isn’t it brilliant?

Big love and thanks to Mark Fuller for the video montage. What a lotta Jota 

If you are concerned about prostate cancer or prostate problems then the Prostate Cancer UK charity can help. They provide a range of information and support so you can choose the services that work for you. All their services are open to men, their family and their friends. Via their ‘Men United’ campaign they are working with the Football League to raise awareness and money.

Nick Bruzon

What is our current hot ticket? Who will win the big one?

13 Apr

Exciting times lie ahead for Brentford. The Easter weekend double header against Derby County and Barnsley is almost upon us. The second fixture having a potential extra layer of spice, should the club decide to accept the gauntlet laid down by Toby Tyke after Buzz Bee was robbed of mascot race victory back in October’s reverse fixture at Griffin Park. Then there’s the small matter of West London derbies at home to QPR and across at Fulham. Those games always have an additional feel of frisson outside of the regular league table although the aim of finishing as West London’s top Championship side for the third successive season is an even bigger incentive for Brentford to pull out all the stops.

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He celebrates too soon? Did Toby really win last time?

Things come to a conclusion when we host Blackburn Rovers in early May. Following that game is, of course, the Player Of the Year Awards. Unlike at Loftus Road, where QPR have had to cancel their own event within a week of it being announced due to a lack of interest (no,please, stop. I’m still cringing) Bees fans have had no problem in snapping up the tickets for ours.

Highlight of that event is, as ever, the vote for Player of the year. Currently held by Alan Judge, his season long absence through injury means a new incumbent awaits. Have the likes of returning demi-gods Jota and Sergi Canos done enough to steal the vote at the eleventh hour? Will it be an unsung hero such as Ryan Woods ? International debutant John Egan? Or a.n.other?

Well, for me (Clive) if we are looking for season long consistency it comes down to a bunfight between Harlee Dean and Daniel Bentley. The former, our captain, has been a colossus at the back whilst adding an exciting attacking element to his game these days. Certainly one of the first names on the team sheet, its hard to remember he’s only 25 – so long has he been with us, so commanding has he appeared this season . Gone are the mistakes of old (who doesn’t make them as they learn how to ply their trade?).  Replacing them are supreme confidence and an equal level of ability.

As for Daniel Bentley, FourFourTwo magazine named him as Brentford’s outstanding performer in their run down of the 50 top football league players published in the current edition. The magazine even going so far as to note that England manager Gareth Southgate is keeping an eye on him. He has made the leap from League One new boys to a top half of the Championship side look effortless. Indeed, it was his own performances which saved us numerous points in the early part of the season as he took to the Griffin Park gives like the proverbial duck to water. No surprise that QPR made three bids for him following Southend United’s play off victory in 2015; no surprise their chairman turned them down.

Good luck picking a winner out of those. Good luck to your host for the evening, Natalie Sawyer, in measuring up to Buzzette in the style stakes.

Buzzette makes her entrance to the 2016 POTY awards

But if you can’t be there for that one then how about an alternative? Sunday 30th April sees Billy Grant and the Beesotted team hosting the final of this year’s ’socials’. Taking place at the Drayton Court hotel in Ealing from 6pm until 2am (I feel exhausted just thinking about staying out that late) guests of honour will be Brentford legends Francis Joseph, Gary Roberts, Billy Manuel & Graham Benstead.

There’s a dozen other ex-bees in the house along with a comedian, DJ and magician helping provide the entertainment along with the players doing their ‘in conversation’ segment . Add to that a hot buffet, a level of  complimentary beer and your fellow Bees’ fans then it is sure to be a cracking night out.

Full details of the event, including tickets, are available on the Beesotted website.

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And talking of tickets (waiter, I’ll have the industrial crowbar please) don’t forget there’s only 11 and a bit days left until the ‘seat hold’ deadline expires for those wanting to retain their current place at Griffin Park. With dispensation given to retain the terraces for another season, there’s room for everybody to stay where they were should you wish to purchase a club season ticket. In addition, earlybird prices staying on hold until 31 May means you can get a season’s worth of Championship football for was little as £369. As for the kids. £90, including a home shirt, represents even better value.

Full details are on official, where there is also a link direct to the season ticket page.

I’ve seen some talk saying that the seat hold deadline still feels too soon, given the season is still running. Perhaps. But it’s a tricky line to walk given that the campaign will be over just two weeks after that. I can see the position out marketing team are in. Revenue is what helps keep us afloat, let’s not pretend otherwise, and this way looks to maximise take up whilst football remains fresh in everybody’s mind.

Besides, if you need a yardstick then look at Fulham. No, please. Their seat hold deadline has already expired, two weeks ahead of ours. As have their ‘early bird’ prices. Both of those slipping away on 10th April. I sympathise from one respect. It’ll be a tough job filling that neutral stand.

In my eyes, I think we’ve got the balance right. You won’t please everybody but, at the same time, barring disasters we’ll all be coming back again next season. One way or another.

Come for the football; stay for the social. Griffin Park is a way of life. It is as much about seeing your friends and familiar faces as it is in cheering on the lads. If this is our final season with the ground in the current form (would we get a fifth season of terrace? Will Lionel Road be ready this quickly?) , then I’ve certainly got every intention of being there.

Even if it isn’t, I’ll be back. There’s been too much blood, sweat and tears (mainly tears) invested into this club since 1979 to walk away from our firmest ever footing and most exciting time in most supporters’ living memory.

Win or lose. It is a part of us. I love it. We love it. Bring on 2017/18. Although, first, there’s the small matter of Derby, Fulham, QPR and possibly Toby to get past. Roll on Friday.

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Well said

Nick Bruzon

There’s more than one anniversary to commemorate. Could the same thing happen again?

23 Feb

With Brentford due to entertain Rotherham United this Saturday, the game sees a much heralded anniversary being marked – fifty years since the Loftus Road mob failed in their attempt to cast the Bees out of Griffin Park and take over the club. Whilst the club are understandably, marking this date with all the correct protocol and build up, it has overshadowed another anniversary. Namely, Friday 24 February being two years to the day that the Bees enjoyed 74% possession and an incredible 43 shots in a 4-0 Championship defeat of Blackpool.

Of course, the club have numerous articles on the doomed QPR affair. You can see the latest on ‘official’ at present (well worth a look) whilst the Rotherham game sees the event being given formal recognition.

Yet the Blackpool game also deserves a look back. If only for the manner in which Brentford played so soon after the news that Mark Warburton would eventually be moving on, unable to co-exist alongside Matthew Benham and his (then new) ‘mathematical model’.

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Warbs – more popular at the time than the prospect of the mathematical model

Of course, nobody knew then what we do now. It was decision which seemed crazy at the time . Moreso, given that the Blackpool game seemed a vindication of everything the club had done to get to that point. Equally though, it is one which now sees us about to embark on a fourth season of Championship football. The thought of any QPR style buy out nothing but a bad memory as Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford continues apace.

So with Saturday seeing us prepare to play Rotherham United and (frankly) jeer QPR, the Last Word takes the chance to step back in time and remember, as if ‘live’, what we did against Blackpool. It was as close as we’ll get to those wonderful brackets that come with 7(seven) goals. Then again, with the divisional whipping boys next up, could Brentford do the same again two years on…..?

25 February 2015. 4 goals, 43 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

Brentford blew aside Blackpool last night like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 43 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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Those shots in full

As it was, Jon Toral recorded a hat trick with two early goals starting proceedings and looking as though the floodgates might open. With the crowd exhorting Toumani to shoot at every opportunity, expectation was high. Even ‘the left side, Ealing Road’, joined in with the cheering before meeting the good natured retort “You only sing when your winning” from the rest of the stand.

Instead, it stayed at two until just after half time when Andre Gray’s effort eventually squeezed though, and off, a sea of legs for 3-0. And that was it until Toral was forced to make room on his mantelpiece for a match-ball as he stabbed home from close range just before the final whistle.

4-0 was no more than we deserved but with everybody above us (barring Bournemouth who play tonight) winning, it was an essential result. Yes, we could have had more but three points had to be the priority against a team who were desperate for a result and, for a moment, looked as though they might even grab the opening goal.

However, it was just a moment and, with the threat gone, Brentford recorded a victory that sees us sitting immediately outside the playoff zone, just two points off third place. All talk of Matthew Benham’s mathematical model has been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as 7(seven) goals in two games suggest something is working just fine as things currently stand. Hey, we even scored from a corner (albeit, the traditional ball into the penalty box rather than the much maligned ‘short’ variety).

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In the interest of balance I’m looking for a negative about our performance but it is hard to be truly objective when the opposition offer so little. You have to really feel for their fans making that journey for that level of resistance.

Being über critical, the only thing to elicit any form of inward groan, short corners aside, was some of David Button’s distribution. Whilst we used to think even Natalie Sawyer’s feet would be better suited to clearing the ball, that part of his game has still improved so much that a rogue effort does really stand out now. There’s good reason the fans chant “England’s number one”.

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Better than Button? Natalie Sawyer feet pictures feat Mark Burridge, too.

Warbs’ stock continues to rise as the post match discussion in the pub was very much one of “What next”? Matthew Benham has made his intentions clear and so certainly seems to have gone too far down this track for a reversal of opinion. The popular Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has said he won’t be able to work within such a structure.

However, there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then I have two words which, I am sure, would prove a popular decision – Rachel Riley.

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First look at the artist’s impression of a mathematical model etc etc etc

And, as ever, if you would like to read more about that incredible period then you can do so here…….

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Wales and Aston Villa amongst those asking the questions. A week in football

10 Oct

Brentford striker Scott Hogan was named Championship player of the month whilst Norwich city boss Alex Neil scooped the managerial award. As the Bees prepare for the trip to Newcastle United it was another former Premier League side making the headlines. Aston Villa having sacked manager Roberto di Matteo after a handful of games were strongly linked with our own Dean Smith. But with World Cup qualifiers meaning there were no Championship games this weekend, it’s ‘as you were’ in the league table. Brentford can prepare for Saturday’s game in Newcastle knowing that victory will take us to within a point of the currently third placed Magpies.

That’s the latest Championship action, such as it was, in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

It would be wrong to start with anything but a final congratulations to Scott Hogan. His six goals in five games over September rightfully scooping him the player of the month award. Brentford Chief Executive Mark Devlin amongst those leading the praise.

If this was positive news another announcement, that of the televised Christmas fixtures, bought about a less than positive reaction. Here’s just one, of many, on a similar theme when it was announced that our game with Norwich City had been moved to a 5.30pm kick off on December 31st.

There was as much concern over our manager (sorry, head coach) as this fixture. With Aston Villa sacking their own incumbent, Dean Smith quickly moved to second favourite for this position. Despite sitting in Steve Bruce’s considerable shadow, there was a lot of worry at Griffin Park that our man could be approached. Brentford supporter Natalie Sawyer was amongst those voicing concern.

Concerns shared at Aston Villa, too. There, the same keyboard warrior who threatened to give up football earlier in the month if his beloved side failed to beat a pub team was back. Not only had he reneged on his promise but he still seemed angry.

Still, this was just the small fry compared to the Twitter spat that rapidly unfolded between Aston Villa and Virgin Rail. Whilst we’ve all see this (surely) in the cold light of day it looks even more ridiculous. As we’ve said many times before, unless you are Inverness Caledonian Thistle then football clubs really, really shouldn’t do Twitter sarcasm.

The ‘quiet coach’ . Presumably a euphemism for either the manager or a trophy room that hasn’t been opened since the last century (unless you count the Intertoto cup) .That final ‘comeback’ met with the expected criticism from all comers. However, the pick of the bunch were these two :

In terms of domestic games, the Checkatrade Trophy was back and provided more highlights. Or should that be lowlights ?

Ahh, West Ham. Despite no Premier League game for them this weekend ( a phrase they’ll be repeating most Saturdays in 2017) they still managed to make the headlines. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

But it was the International game where the real ‘action’ was. England emerged from the considerable shadow of Sam Allardyce to record a crushing 2-0 win at home over Malta.

They weren’t the only team making headlines for unexpected reasons. Wales continued to confound pundits following Euro 2016. not with their on pitch antics but with their prematch photos.

If anybody knows just what is gong on, then answers on a postcard please.

And finally, tweet of the week. Infact there are two. First up, who doesn’t love a bit of Accidental Partridge? That wonderful moment when ‘Idea for a show’ becomes reality. And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp seems to have hit gold.

But in a week where Donald T Rump has made all sorts of nasty headlines in the U.S.A. for his obscene comments about women, Antiques Roadshow guru (seriously, follow his updates on a Sunday evening if you are partial to Fiona Bruce and her dusty collectibles) Jamie Lovell proved that, sometimes, we all just need to catch our breath.

Nick Bruzon

As Scott celebrates, what about the rest of us?

7 Oct

For an International break (Estonia v Gibraltar being tonight’s big one) things have remained pretty busy on the domestic front. Brentford and Norwich City fans were dealt a potential blow yesterday with the news that we’ve been given the short straw in regards to televised games. On the flip side, details of a cracking competition to help celebrate our 4000th league game, at home to Barnsley, have emerged on the club website. All this, of course, whilst we waited to see if Scott Hogan would be named as Championship player of the month on Friday morning.

First up, the Norwich City game on New Year’s Eve. I guess the only positive for supporters about this being moved to 5.30pm kick off to accommodate Sky TV is that it is at home. Let me rephrase that, the only positive for Brentford supporters.

On what is, traditionally, the party night of the year to not even be leaving a football stadium until 7.30pm (allowing for injury time) is going to put a huge spanner in the works for many. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the logistical nightmare this now becomes. Especially for the visitors who will be lucky to get back to East Anglia before Jools Holland has begun his annual smug piano show. Or should that be unlucky if they get back to East Anglia before….?

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How much of this will we see?

For those of us fortunate to live near Griffin Park the impact is minimised although I have no idea how many of us that is these days. Likewise, there’ll still be the steely glare of ‘the other half’ willing us back home rather than stopping for the traditional post match chat in a local hostelry. And by willing I mean demanding.

The opposite view being, and let’s not pretend otherwise, that for many New Year’s Eve is the most over rated night of the year. See also: Valentine’s Day. A time when society dictates we should be compelled to enjoy ourselves and pay for the privilege of going to our local pub to then stand shoulder to shoulder at a heaving bar. Call me some sort of curmudgeon (and I just hope Mrs Bruzon isn’t reading) but frankly I’d rather enjoy a bag of revels (the orange and coffee creams aside) than being obliged to partake in the faux-revelry.

But that’s my decision and one which I’d like to make by choice rather than have the TV schedule dictate.

Will it impact attendance? Surely. Did we get any choice in the decision? One would hope we didn’t willingly inflict this upon ourselves and the blame can be laid purely at the feet of the televisual paymasters. Will I still go? Of course, although how easy a choice this would be without living in close proximity to Griffin Park remains up for question.

No doubt we’ll be told it is symptomatic of the Bees now being a successful team. I get that part. Whilst many still sneer at us, finishes of 5th and 9th combined with a best ever start have seen Brentford adapting to Championship life much better than just about every pundit has predicted. Sky want a big game for a time when people are off work and we, in conjunction with a storming Norwich City side, fit that bill.

Like it or not, the die is cast. Games are always moved around for TV and, being honest, we’ve largely got away without too much upheaval over the years. With TV pumping so much money into the game it is going to happen. I may not like it but we all knew this is how things would be when we got promoted. Instead, let’s just get rearranging those parties or be glad of the excuse to miss them.

As for the Barnsley game, what a great idea from the club. Juniors supporters have been given the opportunity to design the front cover for the match day programme. A once in a lifetime opportunity to help celebrate our 4,000th league game, full details are currently available on ‘official’.

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The only downside to this being that grown ups aren’t allowed the chance to enter this one. Indeed, I’d already begun sketching out plans for my own effort before properly reading the details and realising I was too old by about 30 years.

Brief thoughts of entering on behalf of my three year old son did cross my mind. Cue ‘Only Fools and Horses’ style antics should victory have been somehow achieved (the state of my painting and photoshop skills mean this would presumably have been through nobody else participating).

But the thought of joining the Groovy Gang (kids, ask your parents but do check it out) is step too far, even for this obsessive. Instead, let’s just doff our caps to the club for a cracking initiative.

And on the subject of doffing hats, congratulations to Scott Hogan who has this morning been declared as the Championship player of the month for September. There’s not much more I can add to this beyond huge congratulations on an award fully deserved.

We all know how well Scott has performed since recovering from ‘that injury’ but September really saw him crank things up a notch. And then some. What an honour and well, well done.

Great work, Scott.

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The news broke at 6a.m. on Friday morning

Better than Chesney? Has Arsenal wunderkind finally been surpassed?

20 Sep

Brentford 5. Newcastle United, Birmingham, Huddersfield 6. QPR 14. Rotherham 20. Not the odds on winning September’s manager of the month award but, infact, the total goals conceded by the respective teams after 8 Championship games. And in the case of the Bees, one man has a huge part to play in that stat – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.

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Bentley – a model professional

When the 23 year old signed on a four year contract from Southend United in July 2016, nobody could imagine just how good a goalkeeper we had acquired. Instead, if we are being honest, most of the concern was about the rumoured (and subsequent) sale of David Button to Fulham. Yet already, and with the greatest of respect to the man who more than made this gloves his own, it is a case of David who?

Button was fantastic. No question. An agile and powerful shot stopper (albeit with the occasional tendency to don the toblerone boots), I was amongst those gutted when he left. Yet. Yet. Have some faith. Oh, what a replacement.

Quite simply, Bentley has that rare characteristic of exuding confidence. It is a confidence which transmits through the defence( where are those infamous dithers and suicidal back headers we’ve seen in the past?) and into the crowd. Harlee Dean and John Egan are building a rock solid partenrship, stopping the goals at one end whilst even grabbing a few between them at the other. Having a stronger midfield in front of them has helped, too, but it all flows from the back.

It was Bentley who secured us an additional two points at home to Nottingham Forest. With Britt Assombalonga clean through and the net beckoning, it had goal all over it as the game reached its denouement with the Bees hanging on at 1-0. But the visitors hadn’t reckoned on Bentley. What a save. What. A. Save !

On Saturday, it was Bentley who kept us in it as Preston can count themselves unlucky not to have taken a first half lead or, at the very least, levelled things up with the score siting at 1-0. Whilst Scott Hogan went on to grab the headlines, and understandably so, it was Bentley who put us in that position.

Pick any of our 8 games and you could highlight quality saves. I’m sure Mark Burridge has said this but Billy Reeves called it after that Forest game…

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Bill makes an early call. And he’s not alone

And who am I to disagree. The player known as Chesney proved to be a stunning success when Andy Scott signed him on loan from Arsenal in November 2009. Whilst there was no chance of his joining full time (subsequently the 23 year old made the club and country jerseys his own for both the Gunners and Poland) his spell in TW8 was one that saw us consolidate our position in Division one after returning the season previously from the fourth tier.

Now chief scout (not a bad entry on the CV), as manager Scotty made the famous comment: “It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn’t saved it.”

Indeed, so impressive was he that the ‘keeper that he has had a permanent place in my ‘Best ever Brentford XI’ of recent time. That line up being:

Wojciech Szczesny, Kevin O’Connor, Terry Evans, Hermann Hreidarsson, Martin Grainger, Paul Evans, Adam Forshaw, Andy Sinton, Jay Tabb, Dean Holdsworth, Gary Blissett.

Milton Keynes Dons v Brentford

Chesney – the legend

Yet, just 8 games in, I’ve already been sufficiently blown away to make the first change to this team since The Last Word began. Chesney has lost his place and Dan picks up the gloves.

At the end of the day (Clive) I’m just the numpty on the terrace. Football management is as tough a task to master as putting up wallpaper (and trust me on that one, I can’t even get to a ladder without falling off) . Yet, as a supporter the terrace is potentially the best place to make the judgement call.

Unfettered by tactics and other considerations, we can see which players are having a good game. We can see which players are the game changers. We can see which players generate that aura of calm and confidence.Which players we’d worry about if they were missing from the team sheet.  We can see which players have the potential x factor – that something that sets the apart from mere mortals.

Dean Holdsworth had it. Forshaw, Sinton and Terry Evans  had it. Chesney had it. Now Daniel Bentley has it.

I may not have called things as early as the BBC man. Yet as was noted just yesterday, Billy Reeves knows a thing or two about broadcasting and so if he opines, we should sit up and take notice.

Who am I to disagree?

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Nick Bruzon