Tag Archives: Natalie Sawyer

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

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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

Kit news? Some news? Natalie aces the World Cup podcast and YOUR chance to shape Lionel Road.

9 Jun

Saturday morning. Something’s happening. For any Brentford fans up early then 9am is the time; the official website is the place. But what is it? What’s happening? Is it kit or a new player? Please be kit. For those England, Denmark fans (and beyond) we’ve a double World Cup latest for anybody wanting something a little bit different to the usual ‘fantasy football’ and podcasts. And there is stadium news as the Lionel Road plans continue to take shape.

First up, Twitter. Fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant set tongues wagging on Friday morning when he casually dropped the bombshell, “Oh and kit news is coming real soon…” into our social media feed.

What??? Where? When? Real. Soon. Define either/both. Please. The response was a GIF. Not quite meme levels of social media offences but acceptable enough if it gives this obsessive a kit related clue. But what does a calendar rushing through the early days of June mean?

Will that be when we our given our first snippet? The start of Mark Devlin’s now traditional strip tease routine. Or is it a full reveal? Will the point that the GIF stopped looping around (the 10th/11th seemingly the last clear dates) prove significant? Is that when we’re given the news, whatever that is, or did Ryan’s graphic just signify a broader date of ‘June’?

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Was he talking about Leicester City (given Brentford weren’t, actually, mentioned). Might it be the addition of Kit Symons to the coaching staff, as one Twitter wag noted. As yours truly over-analyses his tweet in a desperate search for clues one thing’s for sure –  with other clubs now in full sarotial flow, our own news can’t come quick enough.

I woke up this morning (du du du du duhhh) to more twitter news. This time from Brentford official. A late night tease and a Matthew Benham style video with the promise of even more news. Has Ryan’s news been usurped? Is this something different? Just what is going on? One things for sure, 9am Saturday morning promises to see our computer logged on to brentfordfc.com

Sitting here writing this nonsense I’m being kept going by Bees super fan Natalie Sawyer. Metaphorically speaking. With Russia 2018 almost upon us, The Times have launched their own tournament podcast, The Game World Cup daily.

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 08.12.40We all know Natalie’s talent when it comes to hosting, presenting, chairing and talking football in general. Likewise, what happened in the last few months.

Supported by an extremely knowledgeable panel of Gab Marcotti, Henry Winter and James Gheerbrant, it’s a compelling listen. There are the views on what to expect from Russia as a host nation – especially for the England fans. The hopes and chances of the more favoured teams. Who will get through the knockout phases? What about England? Brazil? Germany? Lionel Messi and his Argentina side? Have Belgium under prepared or are they simply untested? Dark horses that nobody can get a proper read of?

With the promise of a new episode to come every matchday evening after the final whistle has blown, the opening preview has me hooked. I love the World Cup anyway but this additional insight is a very welcome partner to my Panini sticker book and wallchart. With Sky Sports loss very much The Times gain, bring on the next episode. You can find it here. Great job, Natalie. And team.

Next up, predictions. We’re all experts when it comes to calling the games. Obviously. The only reason I’m not a betting millionaire is because I only use the internet gambling sites for research purposes. That, and the prospect of being lured in by Ray Winstone’s disembodied head, responsibly or otherwise, is as distasteful a thought as a night out with Mrs Brown and her boys (I would also accept: The England supporters’ band).

Yet hope is at hand. Hashfootery is back. The simple prediction game where the most you can lose is your sanity as you try to predict the scores of group games and beyond. The most you can win, the acclaim aside, are some quite magnificent beer glasses.

But its not about the prizes. Its about the chance to demonstrate what we know about football – albeit I’ll take any guidance Natalie and her team can offer. If you fancy a go then you can enter here for free.

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Enter today and win a prize (stickers not included)

Getting back to Brentford, did you see the Lionel Road news on the official site yesterday? YOUR chance to be involved in the stadium planning committee and help shape our future home. This is incredible. Having sat in on some of the meetings already, I can’t stress how involved the club are looking to make this. How much of a supporter driven effort this is becoming.

Yet with everything from Farewell to Griffin Park, through ticketing, seating and even things such as catering up for discussion – you must have athought on one of these? Surely? If so then ‘official’ have all the details of how fans can get involved.

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Lionel Road is well under way

And finally, I just wanted to offer a HUGE thanks to all those who have downloaded one of the season review e-books to date. With all proceeds raised going towards the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, I can’t say how grateful I am to our fans. Don’t forget also that if you do this before the end of June, I’ll put you into the draw to win this exclusive ‘third’ shirt – just DM / tweet me your download confirmation mail so as I can add your name.

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

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Pinch yourself at just how far we have come in such a short space of time

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Nick Bruzon

The final table. The last words (for now) as Dean makes his thoughts clear.

7 May

What a day. What a night. What a season. A 1-1 draw with Hull City meant Brentford finished in the top ten of the Championship. Again. That’s four times in a row. Brentford finished above Birmingham City and QPR. Again. I’m losing count on that one. Fulham choked their big moment as the Blues turned their form around at St. Andrews to produce one of the results of the season and ensure their own survival. We’ve had the ‘player of the year’ awards whilst enjoyed the relief of Derby County beating Barnsley. A result than meant our own slip up at Oakwell last weekend has subsequently been proven academic in the play-off race.

First up, Griffin Park. The sun was out. The shorts were on. There were more panamas, cravates, pastel shirts and slacks on display than the Riviera. Seeing Billy Reeves chatting to Peter Gilham on the forecourt prior to kick-off, one could almost imagine the conversation taking place on board a yacht in the Med. Such was the effortless sartorial talent on display. The TW8 equivalent of Stewart Granger spending a relaxed half hour with David Niven. Perhaps telling ‘the prawn story’ over a martini.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

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

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

Griffin Park pre kick off Hull

Peter does his thing pre kickoff. GP bathed in sun

 

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Who wears short shorts? Could, no should, these make a come back?

 

Nick Bruzon

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