Tag Archives: Natalie Sawyer

Now let’s unmask this phoney fan and see who she really is…

10 Dec

Brentford 0 , Wayne Rooney’s (interim) Derby County 0. The Bees made it ten unbeaten on a night that, being honest, was as frustrating on pitch as it was exciting off. We head into the weekend, sitting 7th (seventh) in the Championship. A win away from Bournemouth in the automatic spots and facing the prospect of a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon. Themselves, victims by the odd goal in three at table topping Norwich City and sure to be raging after going behind, again, just after they’d hauled themselves back in to it last night. Yet the fact that we’re already talking about another team is, perhaps, subconsciously telling us all we need to know about last night at Lionel Road. My word that was hard going.

For the supporters taking their turn on the ticket merry go round, you could see and hear what this meant. Social media was awash with more positivity and photos. It sounded great from the TV and just imagine what the noise will be like when the stadium is eventually allowed to be full (scientists calculate that as being approximately 2032). 

Back home we had the intriguing combination of witnessing this in the company of Natalie Sawyer and Jonathan Douglas sitting with Mark and Mick in the commentary box. Fate bringing together one of our more recognisable fans alongside a former player who is a hero to just about all Brentford supporters. They seemed to go well together !  Mark was in there with his Cameron Diaz story  – pretty sure I heard her name mentioned on more than one occasion – as her fake fandom was once again put into the minds of all true Bees (and if you’d like to read more, then let’s never forget her celebrity supporter status, or lack of, being unmasked on national radio…).

Now lets unmask this imposter

Again, though, we’re digressing from the main event. When Brentford fans (or lack of) are the talking point then we’re probably in the right ball park after a gritty 0-0. It was one that saw us unable to break through the eleven men Wayne Roo… (can we just call them Derby County and take the Rooney bit as read?) had packed behind the ball. 59% possession for Brentford (I’d have had it as more) and 12 shots only tell part of the story. The crucial factor being that not one of those was on target. That when the chances came, we blazed high. We fired wide. We didn’t trouble their goalkeeper. Bryan Mbeumo, starting this one alongside Sergi and Ivan, had the best of these. It seemed harder to miss than score yet he managed the former when he found himself just yards out early in the second half with the goal gaping.

That’s football. Ideally the game doesn’t hang on one chance. Vitaly Janelt had a pair of shots from distance early on as it looked like it was simply going to be a matter of time before the floodgates opened. ‘This is going to be 0-0’ said Mrs. Bruzon early on. Hmm. What does she know? Rico’s on fire. Sergi has picked up where he left off against Blackburn. Ivan is the division’s top scorer. Alas, as with everything in life, she was right. Josh Dasilva also had his moment but couldn’t quite find a way through in a game where Thomas Frank noted at full time that, “We created five big chances but didn’t have the sharpness or quality in the decisive moments.

Too true, Thomas. His team selection was strong enough. The opposition came to do a job on us and they succeeded. No complaints there. An away point from a promotion chasing team no bad thing in their eyes, I’m sure. For Brentford, though, can there be any positives? 

Well yes, of course there are. The unbeaten sequence aside, it was another clean sheet. It was another game without Christian Norgaard – a player that I’m intrigued to see playing with Vitaly Janelt. Too similar or the making of Brentford 2021? It was another solid performance from Mads Bech Sørensen. It was another point that keeps us well in contention. This time last season we were eighth with 27 from 17 games played. This time around we are one point and one position better off. Not so much clutching at straws after a ‘challenging’ 90 minutes but more the case of looking at the table with fresh eyes having slept on it following, rather than during, the game.

For me, Clive, the frustrating thing is as much seeing Said Benrahma keeping the bench warm at West Ham. The reasons for selling (sorry, loaning) him are clear to all and so there are no complaints there. He wanted his move to the top flight and the money will be very good for us. Yet last night was the sort of game where having a player of his unique ability could have been the difference between the win and the eventual draw. He’d have decimated them, had he been on his game.

There’s no benefit in crying over who we don’t have but at the same time there has been a clear gauntlet thrown down which, to date, none of the wider players have consistently looked like picking up. We’re solid at the back. We drive forward in midfield. The goals are coming up top (normally). Unlocking that final area of the pitch is the challenge. It’s great that the full backs can overlap in such style but Rico must be knackered. Thomas can only pick from his available squad and, perhaps, it will be a return to the combination of Canos, Forss and Toney that serves us best against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Go for it from the off and see what happens. 

For now, though, it IS another point and another game where we’ve had some more of the fans back in. Long may that continue. ( Did somebody say Tier 3…..…?). Derby County are still languishing in the bottom three and we’ve a trip to another of their relegation rivals to look forward to this weekend. Chris Hughton’s recent record at Forest is on a par with Simply Red’s greatest hits – short and terrible. LLDLL from the last five doesn’t make good reading. 

So I’m happy still. It wasn’t a great spectacle but one game is only a small part of the bigger picture. A picture which is a frenetic, non-stop season with games coming week on week on week. I’d love to have won but in the end we’re as lucky not to have lost. Derby had their own chance(s) late on and that post is still rattling.

Move along. Nothing to see here. Instead, its one for the record books and the ongoing hope that, one day, perhaps Cameron might just check what she is missing out on. Hey, if its good enough for Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham….. Yet even if she does, somehow, appear Natalie will always remain Queen Bee.

Nick Bruzon 

Very much behind The Times. ‘He’ doesn’t support us, does he?

3 Aug

Almost there. Monday morning. Brentford v Fulham in the Championship play-off final is little more than a day away. Tomorrow night we walk out at Wembley to see if the most incredible season on record, one which has seen us play the last ever game at Griffin Park alongside the campaign interrupting global pandemic, has the happiest of endings. Yet with the game almost upon us, the age old question as to celebrity fans has reared an ugly head once more. Specifically, the allegation that Phill Collins supports The Bees.

This, the suggestion doing the rounds on Twitter yesterday after the GPG shared  the below.  Utter gumph. Screenshot 2020-08-03 at 07.35.33

Indeed, it was territory covered in the matchday programme for the final Brentford game played out in front of fans – the 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday back in early March (how long ago does that feel now?).

It appeared in response to the same allegation being made by Cardiff City in their publication the previous game.

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We all know who our celebrity fans are. Adam Devlin, guitarist for popular music’s The Bluetones. Natalie Sawyer. Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Rhino from the Quo. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Rick Wakeman and  Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). Amongst others. 

Sadly, Cameron Diaz is not amongst their number. Or, certainly, wasn’t unless she has since paid a clandestine visit. A popular urban legend finally debunked with those fatal words a few years back after a tip off from, errr… The full story on that one is here.

Yet like the ever popular Charlies’ Angels star, the Phil Collins story is one that pops it’s head above the parapets every now and again. A story based on nothing more than his youthful visits to Griffin Park. A story that has been clarified by the singer himself. Apparently. 

First glance at his autobiography – where the locally born slush-merchant notes that as the closest big club to Hounslow he used to attend our matches – suggest this may have been true,

Yet scratch below the surface and a different story emerges. In an interview, the Groovy kind of love singer has been quoted as saying that he “used to support Brentford when I was a small boy as I lived not far away. I moved closer to London and lived close to Queens Park Rangers, and had a season ticket for a few years during the great Stan Bowles, Phil Parkes years. I have to say though that I always had a soft spot for the Spurs team of the 60’s with Greaves (a real hero of mine) and Mackay etc….(I could name the whole team but I won’t !!! ) However I lived in West London and Spurs over in North London was too far to go as a lad.

More recently (70’s!!) I’ve kept a close eye on Liverpool and befriended Kenny Dalglish, David Johnson and Ray Clemence. In fact one year they one the championship, we played in Liverpool the same day as the deciding game, and we all got together after the show and had a few drinks. So as you see I’ve spread my affection around a bit !!!

As the aforementioned Bluetone would opine on Twitter following the Cardiff City publication, “So basically he supports any team that accommodates his current geographical location and touring schedule. There’s a proper fan.

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“I support Brentford you say? ” But seriously,  no fan would wear this..

Instead, Phil would seem to have more clubs than Nick Faldo and the loyalty of a half and half wearing snake.

As for Fulham, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork tomorrow night. Their own list is hardly a galaxy of stars. Lily Allen. The pointless chap. Hugh Grant. Brian Guest. 

David Mellor used to support them in the 70s (to the extent of even writing programme notes) before committing the lowest of low acts, that of a grown up cheating on their own team, and transforming into a Chelsea supporter. Nobody deserves that – not even Fulham. Well, almost nobody deserves that.

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Brian Guest – Fulham note him as a fan despite the pain inflicted by the Bees

Nick Bruzon

No jacket required. Although three points would have been nice.

1 Mar

Another point on the board. A 2-2 draw for Brentford at Cardiff City in a game we may well have won after racing into an early lead courtesy of Luka Racic and Bryan Mbeumo. Instead, things ended level on a day that saw both Leeds United and Fulham recording victories which, realistically, mean hopes of automatic are diminishing quicker than the laughter at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. No matter, with only ten games to go we remain fifth. The Bees firmly in play-off contention and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. There is no additional expectation now as top six remains the target. Anything else is a bonus outside of our control.

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Benrahma takes the game to Cardiff

What can you say? Positives included the return of Christian Norgaard after going off at Luton. A confident performance from Luka Racic at centre back which included a goal after just five minutes. A corner broke and he fired it straight back past Cardiff ‘keeper Alex Smithies. Said Benrhama was passing through the eye of a needle whilst Brentford kept going for the win all game long. Bryan Mbeumo scored an exquisite free kick to double the lead as he fired one over the wall and in with little more than twenty minutes on the clock.

With the fire drill sounding, this one was done and dusted. Wasn’t it? Alas not. Junior Hoilett grabbing the first with his head, following a long throw, where he looked suspiciously offside. At least to those of us behind the goal. Then bang on half time it was the turn of Joe Ralls with an almost carbon copy finish. Urghhh. Frustration rather than anger was the order of the day. The Bees had been playing well with Said Benrahma forcing a fine save from Smithies in between. 

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

Yet we had our own moments too and certainly Brentford never gave up. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he fired one wide with his right foot when space had opened up. Either side could have taken it. Brentford probably should after that early brace. But football is a 90 minute game as we know and so we have to be content with a point. We have to be content with remaining firmly in play-off contention and passing a back-handed compliment to Fulham, whose own victory over Preston meant we weren’t overtaken. Bristol City sit three points off us in seventh although superior goal difference means that is effectively four. 

All being well the enigma that is the Pontus Jansson injury will be resolved by the time Sheffield Wednesday visit Griffin Park on Saturday. Bright this Racic and Jeanvier have been, it is no coincidence that our recent run has coincided with his absence . The calming influence, experience and confidence of our inspirational captain something that would seem to be missing at present. This is the moment our young, young team would really benefit from the presence of this (relatively) elder statesman. Here’s hoping his return is imminent.

The other big question of the day came buried away in the Cardiff match day programme. Specifically the ‘Famous Fans’ segment. Natalie Sawyer is a given as is Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Yet there was no Rhino from the Quo. The Bluetones’ Adam Devlin was conspicuous by his absence. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Cameron Diaz, Rick Wakeman or Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). I’d even have accepted Bradley Walsh. But no. Instead we got Phil Collins. Phil. Collins.

How? Why? I know he grew up locally but seriously, has anyone ever seen hm at Griffin Park? Go figure.

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Never seen him at Griffin Park

There’s not much else to say at the moment. Anticipated travel chaos failed to materialise on the way up. The return journey one hit by train delays but even that allowed the bonus of an extended post match discussion in the pub prior to departure.  Such are the things that make up an away day. You never know what will happen on or off the pitch. The random nature of such trips one where the 90 minutes in the middle are so often the thing that gets in the way. The eye of the storm in a chance to catch up with different friends in a different city. The journey up one full of anticipation and expectation. The potential to eat and drink somewhere different always welcome. The one day in the week when health related good intentions can quite legitimately be thrown out of the window and the already meagre cash reserves are drained with abandon. The notes in the wallet taking on the nature of Monopoly money. 

And now it’s heads down for a week. The bank card buried deep in the back of the sock draw in a half-arsed attempt to avoid temptation. A week in the office (urghh) the only thing standing in the way of Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday when it all starts again. All being well, Thomas may tell us more about the injury situation during the week. Some positive news on that front will be very well received.

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Emiliano and Said were unable to fashion a winning goal

Nick Bruzon

Could THE shirt happen? Plus (another) Kingsley fantasy and loan updates.

3 Sep

That’s the decks cleared just a little bit. Monday saw several Brentford first and B-team players heading out on loan. Reece Cole to Partick Thistle, Marcus Forss goes down the road to AFC Wimbledon whilst Ellery Balcombe (Viborg FF) and Emiliano Marcondes (Midtjylland) are both spending some time in Denmark. Elsewhere, the identify of the mysterious ‘Trialist 89’ has been revealed by the club with the latest acquisiton to the B-team and do we have a very special new away shirt in the offing? 

First up, the out door. The news about Reece was broken by none other than Partick Thistle’s enigmatic mascot, Kingsley. At least, that’s how yours truly found out. Is there nothing he can’t do?

Presumably there was some sort of official story out there too but there’s no finer tweet than breaking transfer news being revealed by the pointy haired superstar. Forget Jim White and his own deadline day nonsense (and I wish we could after the shabby way they treated Bolton and Bury last week). 

If Sky are to persist with the yellow theme as transfer windows continue to ‘slam shut’, then who better than Kingsley to be at the forefront of that delivery? Well, Natalie Sawyer perhaps? Been there. Done that. Their and our loss. Sadly.

That said, one can only dream about what that partnership would look like come January should Sky elect to reverse their decision whilst also bin Jim for the true king of Yellow…  

Kingsley deadline updated

Now THIS would be the Deadline Day dream team

The news about Marcus was somewhat expected. Mainly because he had updated his own Twitter account to follow AFC Wimbledon prior to the official announcement. The good news here being that he has preceeded the move by signing a long term contract at Griffin Park / Lionel Road . The four year extension which will see him remain a big part of our plans, with Director of football Phil Giles telling official that “We hope that he will do a fantastic job for Wimbledon and then be ready to return to compete for a place in our first team, still with many more years to look forward to at Brentford.” 

The story, which you can read in full on ‘official’ is as noteworthy for the spanking new biro being used to sign the contract extension at the Jersey Road portacabin. The memory of Pontus and his half-chewed BIC one which will neither be forgotten nor replicated. Sadly.

That said, both Marcus and Reece are players with the potential for big futures at Brentford. Partick Thistle and Wimbledon are very much the beneficiaries and it will be interesting to see how both players fill their boots in the short term. Just as long as Reece doesn’t have his head turned by Kinglsey. Don’t forget about Buzzette. There’s no scarier sight than a mascot scorned. Just ask Mrs. Growler at Huddersfield (long story)…

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Nice pen

Elsewhere Ellery Balcombe, currently starved of first team opportunity with Luke Daniels keeping the bench warm, gets his chance in Denmark. Also joining him, although a step higher, is Emiliano Marcondes. The former, a player with so much potential and a current England U-21 whilst it would be fair to say that the later hasn’t, yet, delivered on the promise with which he arrived. A period at Brentford blighted by injury hasn’t given him the chance to show what we’ve been hoping for so here’s to some time away giving him the chance to demonstrate that promise.

Will any/ all four of these players return ? Who knows? Whilst one certainly hopes so, the sale of hot prospect Chiedozie Ogbene to Rotherham United proves there is no mercy. No room for passengers. The squads are being trimmed into a lean, mean football machine. Possibly. At the end of the day, Clive, I’m just the numpty on the terrace with more knowledge about kits than first team affairs.

And talking of which, with sledgehammer like unsubtly we make the short leap to the Brentford away shirt. Already a thing of beauty, it was further enhanced when Matthew Benham revealed the   Kurupt FM special variant. With the reaction to this reveal being universal popularity, rather than his people just doing nothing about this it seems that there is now the very real possibility of the kit becoming a reality. The GPG have announced on Twitter that, apparently, current sponsors Ecoworld have given their blessing for this new version to be released. Checks diary – not April 1st. 

One can only hope this is true. One can only hope we have the means to make this happen. Prepare to see these fly off the shelves if so. A masterpiece in the offing. Kitman Bob, if you are reading, you know what to do…….

The other shirt that is currently the hottest property in Griffin Park folklore is that belonging to the mysterious ‘Trialist 89’. He was announced to the world last week when scoring the second goal against the QPR U-23 team.

It was a strike which produced one of the greatest tweets used by Brentford official and a wonderful riposte to those standard goal scorer gif/meme things inflicted on us all by Bristol City. 

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Now Trialist 89 has been revealed to the world as left sided defender Aubrel Koutismouka who has signed a two year contract with the B-team. As ever, ‘official’ have the full story. Good look Aubrel and welcome to Griffin Park, young man.

Even if you will be forever ’89 in my eyes.

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Nick Bruzon

Off-field matters for Brentford (and Liverpool) provide main talking points ahead of Derby County visit.

6 Apr

There’s not too much to say about on-pitch matters today. With Brentford set to welcome Frank Lampard’s Derby County ™, the hope is a simple one. Please, please, please , pleeeease just be better than the last week’s games at Wigan and Swansea. Even slightly. It’s not that much to ask, is it? Elsewhere, Liverpool got the weekend’s proceedings under way at Southampton last night where they duly returned to the top of the Premier league. Their battle with Manchester City proving as intriguing as the one at the top of the Championship – just who is going to blink first? And once more, Matthew Benham proved why he is the club owner like no other.

Hulk_(comics_character)First up, matters at Griffin Park. Brentford have been like the Incredible Hulk this season. At home, a side that seem permanently set to ‘rampage’ mode. An irrepressible, destructive force beating back all comers as easily as a cat toying with a spider. Yet away from home, we’ve been that other side of his alter-ego, Doctor Bruce Banner. All the right ideas but none of the physical prowess.

Last week was the consummate demonstration of our split personality this campaign (I would also accept: Jekyll and Hyde team). I’m sure there may even be a few supporters wishing we were still bedecked in 2017/2018’s gamma ray green rather than the current brown & orange (best. away kit. ever).

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We did ok in green….

Thankfully, we are back home today. This time around Frank Lampard’s etc etc are the visitors. Even allowing for the traditional Leeds United ‘choke’, automatic promotion is probably an aspiration too far. However, sitting 7th(seventh) in the Championship, Derby still have a quite magnificent chance of making the play-offs. It is no doubt a position they will look to strengthen this afternoon although, as ever, might the pressure of a ‘must win’ game play into our hands?

For Brentford, the season is all but mathematically over. The ten points to sixth place just too big a gap to reel n with just 7(seven) games to go. It’s a massive shame that we hit the skids after having hauled ourselves back into contention but that’s how football works. Consistency is rewarded with league position. The table doesn’t lie (obvious, but….) and unfortunately we’ve not been able to do it on the road this time around.

I saw a stat on the BBC which was a damming indictment of what happened on Tuesday evening at Swansea – namely that the Bees attempted just six shots as we went down 3-0. Our lowest in a league match since performing the same feat  having six against Middlesbrough. That’s one attempt every 15 minutes – not great. To put it mildly.

The plus point from that game is that a reaction must surely be imminent. Thomas Frank pulled no punches after the game and has since used his press-conference to note : “We need to bounce back, everyone can see that.  . Add to that our own form at home combined with the aforementioned knowledge that Derby really have to win and I think we’re going to be going home very happy at 5pm. 

It has been a long, long season but a thrilling one. Mostly. If only we’d been able to pick up few more wins away from home then who knows what might have been? Yet with the nucleus of a wonderful squad at his disposal (for now), should Thomas be allowed / able to keep them together, our final season at Griffin Park could be a most incredible one. Here’s hoping that push starts today.

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View from the Braemar – I’m expecting a happy Thomas at full time.

Moving on. I watched the Southampton – Liverpool game last night. Jürgen Klopp’s team showed a relentlessness that money can’t buy. Despite conceding an early goal from Shane Long (not a typo) they just kept going and going until the points were secured. It was a performance that showed them as Hulk like on their travels as they are at home. Anyway, I’m not here to specifically bang about Liverpool – beyond admiring their travelling form. Such chat usually leads into a rant about the media love in and we end up playing Anfield bingo – tick one of your cards for every reference to the Kop being like a twelfth man, “Glory, glory European nights”, the miracle of Istanbul, Shankley, Paisley, Klopp getting over-excited etc 

Instead, it was more just a chance to tear the hair out in regards Jamie Carragher. Back in the early 2000’s Sky TV had a brief flirtation with the red button option for ‘fan commentary’. Should you have been crazy enough to select this, the reward was a supporter from each club pouring forth on their team and the game in question. It was horrific although, to be fair, still better than Richard Keys and Andy Gray. This ‘service’ was quietly pensioned off but now seems to have returned – specifically in the guise of the former Liverpool defender. 

Oh. My. Word. Could he have been anymore biased? Could he have been any more fanboy? We all know he used to play for Liverpool but plenty of ex-players have made that transition from pitch to commentary box. None have quite matched his level of reminding us all how amazing his former are. How excited he is is that they are winning. Even full time saw him running on to the pitch to interrupt Kelly Cates and Gary Neville in the middle of their own post-match interviews as he attempted to take centre stage.

Contrast this to the erudite views, opinions and questioning of Neville (even when Manchester United are on). I’m sure Gary would like to remind us he used to play for a successful team and still follows them, but that’s not the job of being a commentator or a pundit. Likewise  quite wonderful Kelly, as the daughter of Kenny Dalglish, comes form a footballing pedigree that would more than entitle her to rave about Liverpool. Whilst you could understand her wanting to enjoy the moment, there was but nothing beyond consummate professionalism here. 

Look, I’m all for a bit of excitement and enthusiasm but have some class. Have some decorum. Know your audience. If nothing else, Jamie has played the game at the highest level and won some major honours. He’s been there and done it so knows what he is talking about.

Yet instead of this, it was almost like the early days of Beesplayer when from time to time they had to draft in the more excitable elements from the media team. Being able to write about a game isn’t the same as being able to talk about. Before Sky made the quite ridiculous decision to let Natalie Sawyer go, you could see her almost itching to reference the benefit to Brentford every time she was  involved in a game where one of our rivals was shooting themselves in the foot. Instead, she kept it classy. 

I’m sure Carragher has his fans. Good luck to them. And him. You can’t deny his passion but when it comes at the expense of proper analysis then doesn’t it kind of defeat the point? At least, for those of us who just want to enjoy a game of football. Perhaps it’s just me.

Mark Burridge and Natalie Sawyer

The king and queen of Griffin Park commentary. Jamie could learn a thing or two

And finally, Matthew Benham. We all know our owner has a quite special means of using social media. He doesn’t say too much on Twitter these days but when he does, it’s always worth a look. As happened yesterday evening.

I’m not sure what else I can say, beyond this is quite magnificent. Only at Brentford……

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Nick Bruzon

Dean Smith goes from Brentford hero to Villan.

10 Oct

Oh my. It’s happened. Dean Smith has tonight left Brentford to take over as head coach at Aston Villa. John Terry is confirmed as number two. It is a move that has been widely rumoured since the Villa Park club sacked Steve Bruce and one which, as has been well documented in the build-up, now sees Dean given the chance to take over at his boyhood club. Yet with Dean still in charge for the promotion chasing Bees draw at table topping Leeds United on Saturday, I thought there may be glimmer of hope that the rumours would be unfounded. Sadly for us, this isn’t the case and Dean is now a Villan.

First things first, there seems to be a universal out pouring of good wishes for Dean from the Griffin Park faithful. Everyone from Natalie Sawyer and Mark Devlin through to supporters across the social media spectrum have been wishing him well. And understandably so. Dean has guided Brentford to successive top ten finishes in the Championship and leaves us with the team one point outside the play-off places. He has had them playing some quite wonderful football, most recently seen at Leeds where the home team snatched a (possibly fortunate) draw in the final moments of an action packed game at the weekend.

From here, he joins the club he and his family have always supported. Villa official have been quick to jump on the now predictable medium of a hashtag with #oneofourown (something I thought was the exclusive property of Frank Lampard’s Derby County) quick to appear in the signing ‘GIF’. Yet only last week we noted on these pages “Indeed, who would willingly step into the maelstrom of unpredictability that is Villa Park at present? There are those well documented financial issues that emerged over the summer and a fan base quick to make their opinions known. Whether vocally or via the medium of a rogue cabbage.

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The words of Aston Villa ‘official’

Well, it seems the lure of ‘his’ team calling was simply too great. A siren on the rocks enticing him from a promotion push to a challenge that was once one of the biggest jobs in football and is now a wonderful opportunity to restore a former giant of the game to the position they naturally aspire.

For Brentford it is a huge shame on a personal note. Dean has only ever conducted himself wonderfully and has been nothing but charm personified when I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to him. His enthusiasm and love of the game, and the club, has been infectious. And now it is his job to instil that same warmth at Aston Villa.

On the pitch our set up is a solid one. Thomas Frank, who has been assistant Head Coach since December 2016, steps up into temporary charge. With our model and stability well established, surely he’ll be offered the role on a permanent basis? With Richard O’Kelly’s position to ‘be clarified in the coming days’ (not my words but those of Brentford official, in their piece which can be read here) the only other credible alternate is the B-team’s King Kev although that is, perhaps, something to come in the future.

We’ve lost our manager from a winning position before. Look at what happened when Mark Warburton took over from Uwe Rosler. Brentford were promoted to the Championship. Of more concern will be our ability to retain the crown jewels in a squad that is hugely talented yet, sadly now for us, Dean knows inside out. Certainly January’s window will be even more traumatic than ever but if Thomas, or whomever takes up the reins full times is able to keep up our current form, then who would want to leave? Don’t answer – that’s one for a few months’ time.

Instead, now is the time to wish Dean good luck. To hope we cross paths in the Premier League next season. To thank him for some exciting times so far. But equally, to know this current team – on and off the pitch – is more than just one man.

I’m gutted to see Dean leave. I’ve no worries about what we’re going to do for the rest of the campaign – The Bees ARE going up and I can’t wait.

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Can Dean inspire this level of passion at Villa?

 

Nick Bruzon

Prophetic Peter calls it and Matthew goes full Partridge as Neal and Josh do the business. Again.

16 Sep

7(seven) games down and Brentford are up to second in the embryonic Championship table after a fifth, successive, home win. This time, over Wigan Athletic. In a display of quite delicious passing football, Neal Maupay grabbed both goals to take his individual total to 7(seven) for the season and move clear in the Championship goalscoring charts. This, despite his missing two league games following the Villa Park affair. Just to put that into context, Neal already has two more than the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have scored all season. Then again, with four league wins under the belt that’s already four more than both the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have earned all season.

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View from the Braemer – Brentford strolled past Wigan on Saturday

The visit of Wigan was never going to be easy. On paper. Paul Cook’s team were only a point behind the Bees before kick-off whilst the visitors had ex-Bee Will Grigg in their squad. The inevitability of a former player doing the business is never a particularly enjoyable moment for home fans of any club. Even moreso in the case of Will when no doubt ‘that song’ would have been given a rendition.

Yet there was a comfort about this one, especially once the second goal had gone in, that is true testament to the confidence flowing through both Dean Smith’s squad and the home support. Maupay scooped man of the match honours but I thought Lewis Macleod and, in particular, Josh McEachran were quite wonderful. The latter starting the move for the opening goal with a cheeky nutmeg followed by a delightful crossfield ball forward to Said Benrahma. If only the sky cameras had captured the moment for their post-match highlights. Here’s hoping those on ‘official’ catch the full move when they appear at lunchtime. (12pm update: Yes! They did. Enjoy…..

 

Credit to Josh. If any player has taken his time to start winning over the critics it is him. Yet he has plugged away and the management have shown faith. With Ryan Woods having moved on the chance has been seized after what were, if we are being honest, a patchy couple of seasons. And how. We’ve already noted his increased presence this season on these pages a few times. The killer pass and/or move forward being a key change in his dynamic.

Indeed whilst being gently probed by Natalie Sawyer during this week’s TalkSport interview, Dean Smith was full of praise for a player who has admitted to still having England aspirations. Consistency will be key, of course, but for now one can only applaud a quite wonderful start to the campaign.

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Neal was MOTM but Josh played blinder, too

That Maupay goal came half-way through an opening period that Brentford dominated. Whilst it had felt as though the flood gates would open within seconds when the Bees swarmed forward from the kick-off, Christian Walton in the Wigan goal held back the tide. Something which proved to be the theme of a game in which, a brief first-half flurry aside, was about as one way as they come.

The threat of Grigg never materialised. He wasn’t so much on fire as on the bench. A place he never left, save for the warm ups. But then as Our Graham (a Huddersfield fan making one of his semi-regular but always welcome visits to Griffin Park) noted, perhaps the judgement here being that the ball needed to be near the Brentford goal in order for him to put it in it, and it was seldom in that vicinity.

One up at half-time became two just after the hour. That man Maupay with his second, this time against ten men rather than eleven. Sam Morsy having been sent off five minutes earlier for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt that had referee Darren England instantaneously calling for the medics before subsequently brandishing the red card. And from that point on it really was game over. Two clear and coasting. Despite Walton mountin’ a one-man resistance, in the end it was a case of goodnight Wigan Athletic. With other results falling kindly the Bees move up to second, just a point behind Leeds United.

What a time to be alive. What a time to be a Brentford fan. What a reward for all those who’ve been with us through thick and thin. Now able to enjoy what Matthew Benham would later describe on Twitter as “Liquid football” .

Back of the net, indeed ! There is no finer moment in life than anybody embracing their inner Alan Partridge. Accidentally or otherwise. All the while of course, just up the road our new home continues to grow. On current form I can only imagine Mr. Benham naming that one ‘Jurassic Park’.

Credit to Matthew and the current regime for allowing this to happen. There can’t be a fan amongst us who isn’t appreciative of what is being built here and how it has happened. Yes, there have been some tears and frustration along the way – this is football, we are passionate supporters who often think with our hearts in the heat of the moment rather than our heads  – yet only a fool would jump off this train now.

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The site at Lionel Road, (very) early on Saturday morning

Next up, Ipswich Town on Tuesday night. Whilst their record was mentioned in the introduction by way of comparison to Neal’s form, they also need to be recognised for the genuine threat they present to Brentford’s own aspirations. And as much, a mark of our own progress. True, they are bottom of the table but they are only two wins away from the top half. They may have lost to Hull City yesterday but the season is still young. They aren’t, surely, a bottom three side? If nothing else, we’ve the likes of Preston, QPR, Reading and Birmingham City for that particular task.

Last season saw Brentford take nine games before we got our first three pointer. It was a run which was typified by performances that Dean Smith swore by, maintaining we were deserving of victories. Eventually they came.

Yet the game at Portman Road was one of those from that early, ill-fated patch. It was a perfromance noted at the time on these pages as, “Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One-way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games

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Portman Road (and what Billy Reeves calls the best font in football) is next.

That was then. This is now. Nottingham Forest two weeks ago saw us win the sort of game that, last season, we’d have lost. Refusing to be outmuscled as the team converted chances into goals and, eventually, all three points. Could Tuesday night promise more of the same? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. Yet on this sort of form I wouldn’t bet against Dean’s team.

As a final note of the day, could we see a new partnership forming at Griffin Park? Not so much the Ollie Watkins / Neal Maupay combo but that of Peter Gilham and Stuart Wakeford? Our own ‘man with the mic’ joining in during the #BeesLive segment prior to kick off where I walked in on his line: “I don’t know what the question was but the answer was Josh McEachran”.

How prophetic. On yesterday’s performance at Griffin Park the answer was very much Josh McEachran. With perhaps, a soupçon of Neal Maupay.

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Stu does his thing on #BEESLIVE – but what WAS the question?

Nick Bruzon

Who’s on fire when league action returns this weekend?

14 Sep

Finally. Championship action returns this weekend with Brentford hosting Wigan Athletic, straight off the back of the news that out allocation of 7,700 tickets for the league cup game at Arsenal has already set out. For the masochistic amongst us, winless Birmingham City tonight entertain (if that is possible) a West Bromwich Albion side who know that victory will take them up to third place in a still coagulating table. Yet one which is almost at that magical ‘ten game mark’.

First up, Brentford. Obviously. Two weeks of inaction with nothing but the evolving site at Lionel Road have been a tough void to fill. Moreso given how frustrating it has been having to slam the brakes on what has been a quite wonderful start to the campaign for the Bees.

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Lionel Road ; Thursday morning

Our current fifth place has been achieved through three wins out of three at home and only one defeat on the road. That at Blackburn where we were missing Neal Maupay following that thing at Villa Park. Yet the team have been scoring goals for fun, with the aforementioned Frenchman the division’s top marksman on 5 and Ollie Watkins right behind him on 4. Chuck in a further four assists between them aswell as no other Championship player having more touches in the box than Ollie’s 44 (although I’m sure Ian Moose would probably just call that dilly-dallying) and you can see how well they are going together.

Indeed, only West Bromwich Albion (15) and Leeds United (14) have managed more than the Bees 12 goals to date. Even then, the West Brom total includes the, albeit magnificent, bracketing of hapless QPR when the not so super hoops conceded 7(seven) in a single game.

Brentford’s football has been a joy to watch. Positivity that was shared by our own Dean Smith, talking to Natalie Sawyer on Talksport Radio last night. Some things are worth breaking my own, self-enforced, ban on all things Ian Moose for and with the catering obsessed narcissus nowhere near the studio I tuned in.

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Thankfully, there was no Ian Moose last night

There were big ups for Josh McEachran. Talk of expansive football. Discussion about the Arsenal game, where with the squad having been thinned out by the loans of Chiedozie Ogbene to Exter City, Tom Field to Cheltenham Town and Ryan Woods (albeit the cat was initially let out of the bag before Dean corrected his own use of the word ‘sold’) to Stoke the implication was that we would go with a strong team. And rightly so. Who would want to miss out on that one?

Yet what was clear through all the twenty minute probing Natalie administered to Dean was his ongoing self-belief and enthusiasm. For the squad, the style of football which the benevolence of our current regime has enabled him to play and his immediate focus being on Wigan Athletic rather than anybody beyond. In his eyes its all about Saturday. Talk of Arsenal was tempered with the fact that there are another two games after Wigan (as part of another intense 22 day run) before we get to the League Cup.

If you missed this one you definitely missed out. Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to Natalie’s podcasts for The Times know she is a most engaging presenter. Frankly, she could make any subject from Tom Moore’s socks to Josh McEachran’s phone case collection (both hypothetically) sound interesting. So when you have a guest who was as on fire as Dean, then it was radio gold.

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Captain Barbet sums up the spirit in the Bees camp , last time out

Certainly, if I was up for the weekend fixture beforehand then it’s even more so the case now. With our 7,700 tickets sold out for Arsenal (and a further 700 being made available) presumably we can only expect a close to sell-out crowd for this one? No doubt all those heading to the Emirates will be at Griffin Park (and beyond) in the build-up to that one? If nothing else, seeing the alleged conflagration that is Will Grigg being extinguished will put a lot of smiles on faces. For no more reason than silencing ‘that song’ – something akin to the England Supporters ‘band’, the Portsmouth bell, vuvuzelas and goal songs as musical interruptions that should be consigned to video games rather than football stadia.

Still, we’ve been there and done this before. Let’s not get distracted by the England band. There’ll be enough to keep us busy this weekend. Moreso, given we have the TV treat (errr) of Birmingham v West Brom tonight. Can the Blues get their first win of the campaign at the 7th(seventh) time of asking? Will the visitors keep on banging in the goals that have propelled them towards touching distance of the play-off zone already? Will ‘you know who’ need to trot out his usual combination of post-match tweets – we go again / fans deserved more / apologies / KRO (whatever that means)? Or could the St. Andrews team finally start to fulfil the promise that a club of their former glory and current size would no doubt expect?

Besides. It’s that or Coronation Street so I’ll certainly be watching the game. Whilst Mrs. Bruzon may prefer the cobbles of Weatherfield, there’s not quite a KRO-bar in our house. Yet.   

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Taxi for Grigg? Here’s hoping on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

Natalie nails it as Forest fail to chop down the Bees.

2 Sep

What an afternoon. What a game of contrasting football styles. Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 in a game which will be as much remembered for the three points that take us back into play-offs as it will an infuriating performance from ‘referee’ Peter Bankes. That, and a display of physical thuggery from the visitors which, as was said many times yesterday, came over as ‘a typical Aitor Karanka performance’. See also the phrase: Brian Clough would be spinning in his grave. It was an attitude which spilled over into social media afterwards where none other than Natalie Sawyer waded in to defend her beloved Bees in the face of what could, at best, be described as sour grapes from fans of the visiting team.

It gives me no pleasure in having to write about anything negative from yesterday. Especially about a club I’ve enormous respect for. Why would we want any form of downer after Brentford scooped the win that lifted us back into the play-off zone following last weekend’s blip at Blackburn? We’ve overcome the three game suspension of Neal Maupay and showed tremendous spirit to bounce back after an uncharacteristic fumble from Daniel Bentley allowed Forest to haul themselves into the game on the hour mark.

Yet it was the approach of the visitors which was so at odds with what we’ve seen from them over the years. A team who previously out-thought and out-played opponents to win the trophies for which they are so well known. A team who rightly earned the two stars that adorn their famous crest. Now, their manager has them playing not so much ‘kick and rush’ as ‘kick and punch’.

That there were only 7(seven) bookings for the visitors was a miracle in itself. They were cynical, scything and nasty. Mr. Bankes in the middle seeming to forget he even had cards in his pocket during a first half where Forest had no answer to wave after wave of Brentford pressure. Except, of course, the one shown to Lewis Macleod for apparent diving.

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Two stars, well earned. Plus a welcome return for the castle badge in the programme.

There was no attempt to tackle. The Bees were allowed to run at their opponents with the ‘permission to foul badge’ rotated between the players by manager Karanka. How nobody received a second yellow I have no idea. Yet it was an approach that also allowed us to see Brentford at their finest. And, in the end, crush the visitors as easily as they would a ripe avocado. 

Josh McEachran had an extremely positive game, making one incredible surge forward in the first half that must have seen him take the ball close to forty yards upfield as he rode challenges and played deft flicks. Romaine Sawyers did what he does. Sergi was felled time and again by the yellow shirted lumberjacks. Mepham and Konsa at the back continue to look as though they have been partners for years rather than weeks. Benrahma was magnificent, supplying the crosses for both goals and almost nabbing a couple himself. 

The first, a cross from the right that dropped perfectly for the unmarked Lewis Macleod to head home just before half time. The second, delivered to Ollie Watkins to stroke home with just minutes left on the clock. Between these, Peter Gilham’s quite wonderfully announced substitution of Lolley for Cash looked like it would be bang on the money for our guests. The hero of Forest’s midweek league cup win over Newcastle did it again. Yet the goal from Matty Cash proved to be a small change and, in the end, it was Watkins (nose stuffed full of gauze after receiving a boot in the face from Jack Robinson) who sealed the points that take us up to fifth place in the table.   

Again, I don’t want to come over as negative about the visitors and the ref. I’ve friends who are Forest fans and a healthy respect for the club that goes back to my own formative football years when they were THE kings of Europe. Perhaps they just had a bad day at the office whereby physicality was the only answer to the electric pace of a scintilating Brentford side.  Yet it was awful to watch them yesterday.

Equally frustrating was finding ourselves beholden to the whims of a referee whose performance switched between turning a blind eye and guesswork. All credit to captain Yoann Barbet whose cool head at the very end prevented a major case of handbags turning into a Keith Stroud convention. He led by example throughout although you could also praise the spirit of all Dean’s ‘leaders’. Our unique approach of rotating the captaincy providing its own demonstration of success.

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Yoann Barbet at FT. How was that for you?

I apologise. The point has been laboured and the point has been made. But it is done because so often over the last couple of seasons, we’ve had no answer to teams like this. We’ve seen points dropped and games lost when brute force has triumphed over attempts to play intelligent football. Yet we’ve toughened up and adapted, whilst still retaining that core belief. Being honest, this one never felt in doubt. Even at 1-1 or throughout the protracted period of stoppage time added on at the end. 

It was our own Natalie Sawyer who really summed things up nicely, taking to Twitter at full time to first note that: If ever there was a victory for football today it’s what I’ve witnessed at Griffin Park. Really surprised by how Forest played today considering I thought they’d give us a much better game following what I saw on Wednesday night..

Confronted by frustrated Forest fans, rather than sit on this one she continued to make her point (and rightly praise the Forest midweek match) before eventually going on to add: Excuse me you came not to win, you came to by physical and cynical. It’s the most disappointing performance I’ve seen from a team. I’m not saying that Brentford are wholly innocent in every game they play but today they outplayed a team that just wanted to foul and time waste.

Well said. Professionally put and spot on. There’s not much more one can really say after that. Perhaps a bit more praise for Dean Smith and his wonderful team. Kudos to Yoan Barbet and my man of the match, Said Benrahma.

Put your feet up and enjoy international break. Roll on the 15th for Wigan at home where it’s not so much Will Grigg as the Bees who are currently on fire.

Nick Bruzon

Adam from The Bluetones wins Twitter, Henrik wins for Denmark and bad news for England. Guess who’s back….

17 Jun

Brentford give Bournemouth the brush off. Henrik Dalsgaard gets off to a winning start for Denmark and there’s bad news for England fans in Russia ahead of Monday’s World Cup opener against Tunisia.

There’s a lot to get through this morning so let’s cut to the chase. The internet was buzzing yesterday with the news that Bournemouth have put in another bid for Wales international Chris Mepham. This time, rumoured to be in the £10million ball park.

We could spend paragraphs discussing the fee or his merits but anybody who has seen Chris play knows how exponentially fast his progress has been – both for Brentford and Wales. Instead, I’ll leave it to Bees fan Adam Devlin (sometime touring guitarist for popular music’s The Bluetones) to summarise the story in one tweet.

Succinct but very much to the point. Well said, Adam. And do give my regards to Roland.

Next up, Henrik Dalsgaard. As was well, well documented all over social media yesterday, Brentford have had our first ever contracted player appear in a World Cup finals. Not a typo.

Whilst it a fact that is now being repeated almost as much as eighteen year old Ryan Sessegnon’s age (18? Really? If only somebody had said) it really does bear enjoying just one more time. We’ve had a player at The World Cup. A player. At The World Cup!!

What an achievement. It actually happened. Just beautiful. Moreso as Henrik’s Denmark team secured all three points in the 1-0 win over Peru.

As with the Chris Mepham to Bournemouth ‘story’ , Twitter was the place to be for all those key opinions.

@cpile14: Well done Henrik Dalsgaard today, just wow 👍

@TomField9: Come on Henrik 🇩🇰 imagine playing in the World Cup 😅

@Tomgreat1990: if anyone ever needed proof we’re on the up, it’s today 🙂

BBC Match Of The Day (@BBCMOTD) : History maker! Henrik Dalsgaard, the first Brentford player to appear at a #WorldCup

But it was @TommyLYeah who captured the moment just perfectly, cutting to the chase of what most of us in TW8 were thinking with the declaration:

Tommy: This is fucking mental!! Watching an actual @BrentfordFC player in a World Cup match…Yes, lil’ ol’ tinpot Brentford… GO ON HENRIK!!

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The BBC were quick to tweet about our man

Ok – time to cut to the elephant in the room. Or, rather, the big steaming pile of elephant poo in the room. Better known as The England Supporters Band. I’m not going to mince any words here. I loathe them. Absolutely loathe them. When the Mexican Wave or Robbie Williams singing ‘Let me Entertain You’ (which you can find on: Now that’s what I call Stadium music, also featuring: ‘We Are The Champions’) have the moral high ground in the low brow sporting tedium stakes then there’s something seriously wrong.  

Given the choice of being gaffer-taped to a chair and subjected to them or Mrs. Brown’s Boys, I honestly think I’d have to side with Brendan O’Carroll performing his toe-curlingly unfunny Irish mammy/man in a cardigan routine. But enough about my private life.

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Nobody is celebrating this news

Seriously? Who actually likes them? Who goes to a game thinking that their experience is going to be enhanced by the alleged band of England’s alleged supporters? This self-appointed bunch of footballing cuckoos in the nest. These tedious purveyors of off-key tromboning, repeating those ‘greatest hits ad-nauseaum. I’ve written it before – many times – and will no doubt do so again in future.

“What this match needs to liven it up right now is some flaccid parping and a whiny rendition of ‘The theme from the Great Escape’, ‘The Italian Job’ or the National Anthem” Said Nobody. Ever.

If they and their friends at the FA are that convinced by the group’s popularity then put it to the vote. I’d love to see the results. Infact, I’ve just put a twitter poll up this morning. Please dive in if you have an opinion.

 

But we digress. The point of all this is that the FA have helped them circumnavigate the tournament’s ban on bringing musical instruments into the games. A report in The Telegraph explains how they now have a letter granting them permission after the FA succesfully lobbied on their behalf following their exclusion from Brazil 2014. As band leader John Hemmingham notes: “It means the world to us, obviously, because we can go in and do what we do now. We can, to a certain extent, determine the mood.”

The mood being killed, one presumes.

Urghh. Here comes 7(seven) Nation Army. Again.  Joy, Love will Tear Us Apart is up next. The musical equivalent of having electrodes attached to your genitals.

For the record, I use the term ‘musical’ in its loosest sense.

Hemmingham goes on to add that he has concerns as to how the band will be treated in Russia following the recent diplomatic incidents that have dominated the headlines. As anybody who has had the misfortune to sit through their routine will no doubt testify, diplomacy is the least of their concerns. On the plus side, The Telegraph article goes on to note how he’ll be taking precautions and “won’t be doing anything to cause any unwanted attention.

Not playing would be a start, John.

You can read the interview in full, here.

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Fans gather to greet the band in Russia

Getting back to Brentford, Adam Bluetone isn’t the only one of our higher profile fans giving their opinion on the World Cup. We’ve already spoken about Natalie Sawyer’s new podcast – the latest of which is just up this morning. I can’t wait to hear what she ahs to say about Henrik and Denmark. With her feet under the moderator’s table, I have no doubt that Natalie will be totally impartial. Although I hope not!  

However, the latest to add his name to the pundit’s hat is comedian Nathan Caton. And not a moment too soon, it has to be said. His daily World Cup reviews are fast gaining cult status on twitter. Get on baord – they’re brilliant. The latest has just gone live. You can find it below.

And finally, I know I bang on about this a lot but my season reviews containing the least bad of the columns and some new content are now available for download.

The reason I bang on about this is because all proceeds raised are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. We all know about the great work they do whilst my own son has now started Saturday morning football training at one of their sessions. And he loves it. As such, I’d love to try and do something in return.

As additional incentive, I’d like to give one of you an ‘unavailable to the general public’ Brentford FC third shirt from 2017/18. I’ve got hold of it from a source close to the club and am giving it away to one supporter by means of a draw. All you have to do is download the 2017/18 season review (or the five-year compendium) to enter the draw that will take place at the end of the month – just DM/ tweet me the download confirmation email by June 30th and we’ll pick a lucky winner.

You can download Kindle e-book at this line Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18  whilst the five year compendium goes all the way from ‘that penalty’ to this season’s Championship play off final.

There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18

THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon