Tag Archives: Neil Smillie

Palace and Arsenal write a chapter for our next season as Bees beat QPR. Again.

11 Apr

With Brentford safe in the Championship for another season and the playoffs a leap too far, thoughts turn to who we’ll be facing in 2017/18. Last night’s Crystal Palace – Arsenal game has given more than a few clues as to how that’s going to pan out. Elsewhere, there was sad news for QPR who have had to make a somewhat embarrassing retraction (stop sniggering) whilst local news site Get West London appear to have finally jumped the shark.

First up Crystal Palace. For a time it looked as they were being slowly sucked towards the Premier League relegation battle. A 0-4 thumping by Sunderland, swiftly followed by a reverse at the hands of Stoke City, had eyes lighting up in West London as the Eagles slid down, down (deeper and down). Could we have another local fixture, with the Bees going to the Palace next season? Would there be a kit obsessive programme feature including that most iconic of shirts, the red and blue sash sported by Brentford legend Neil Smillie?

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Then Big Sam and his troops got their act together, won four in a row and despite hitting a bump at Southampton, had the pleasure of playing Arsenal last night. And what a pleasure it was for the neutral. A 3-0 win for Palace makes their own safety a lot more likely and, with it, a straight shoot out between Hull City and Swansea City for the privilege of joining all but mathematically doomed Middlesbrough and Sunderland at Griffin Park next season.

It’s a shame from one respect. I was quite looking forward to the prospect of a hop across London to Selhurst Park next season. It would have been a new ground to see Brentford play at but instead we can do nothing but offer Palace congratulations on a job well done in recent weeks.

The other factor is the listening to those self-entitled numpties at Arsenal TV and Piers Morgan, somehow thinking that because they had that run back in 2003/04 when they were dubbed the undateables or whatever it was, they are entitled to be any good over a decade later. Yawn. Seriously yawn.

Anyone thinking Brentford fans moan or give our managers stick needs to look to North London. There, they take expectation to a new level with ‘Wenger’ receiving 128K worth of tweets on the UK trend list as at the time of writing (6.30am).

The biggest irony being the silence in the Emirates when they are playing. If they made half as much noise mid-game as they do once the team has lost then perhaps Arsenal might be an intimidating place to come rather than the glorified library it is so derided as being.  For the neutral, it remains wonderful, if slightly nauseous, unintentional comedy. No supporters in the land are as full of their club’s own self-importance relative to its actual ability (I know , I know – they won the FA Cup). Long may it continue.

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Twitter: Come for Monkman; stay for Wenger

On the subject of unintentional comedy, we only need to look a few miles up the road to West London rivals QPR. Already 6 points behind the Bees in the League table, now they’ve lost out to us in the player of the year awards stakes.

Whilst Brentford’s own event all but sold out within days, the not so super hoops have been forced into an awkward climbdown within a week of tickets being made available for their £119 a head do. In a brief article on the clubwebsite entitled ‘POTY EVENT CANCELLED the club has been forced to admit that, “a lack of sales has resulted in the event being cancelled”.

Here’s to Saturday week when we can really hope to compound a miserable season for our near neighbours. Fifty years on; never forget.

And finally, Get West London. Whilst it would often be easier just to follow the player feed on Twitter than read their stories, yesterday saw things reach a new low. The aforementioned journalistic jumping of the shark, if you will.

Brentford fan wears Bees shirt with BREXIT 16 on the back .

Thus proclaimed the headline on one of yesterday’s post Cardiff pieces. It went on to add – The shirt about the decision to leave the European Union sparked debate on social networking site Twitter.

Sorry, this is news how? This is a story because? Stop the press  – Football fan has political opinion. This is Donald Trump levels of news. Or lack of.  It was something that ‘sparked debate’, apparently. Or, in actual fact, led to a few references to it on Twitter.

What next. Man wears jaunty Castle Badge jumper to winter game? Transfer exclusive: Jugde to sign for Brentford?

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Coming next, on Get West London

Now I’m the first to admit writing drivel from time to time. Then again, I’m neither a journalist nor paid for the privilege. Just a self-confessed numpty on the terrace with an occasional blog column.

Come on Get West London, you can do better than this. Supporters deserve better than this. With five games and two local derbies to come, things aren’t at Arsenal levels of quiet. Just yet.

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We’ve got all this to come still

Nick Bruzon

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With launch imminent, the Kit Obsessive returns for a look at our good, bad and ugly

21 Jul

Finally. The most protracted kit launch since the Knight Industries 2000 rolled off the production line comes to a head. ‘Official’ have announced that the new Brentford home and away shirts will be revealed on Friday and then worn on Saturday against FC Kaiserslautern. Initial thoughts on this subject have already been published but, before we look forward, perhaps time to look back.

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It’s coming. Not my words etc. etc. etc…..

Last Season I was fortunate enough to be able to write the ‘kit obsessive’ articles in the match day programme in which we looked at the best, worst and plain unusual of the visitor’s kit. Whilst for obvious reasons the feature won’t return this season – barring those newcomers to the Championship such as Burton Albion , Newcastle, Aston Villa etc  – these pages will (amongst other new features) no doubt make the odd reference to footballing fashion.

Indeed, over the years we’ve talked about the best, and worst, of Brentford shirts but never given them the ‘kit obsessive’ style treatment . So with the launch imminent, it seemed a timely juncture to close this loophole.

As ever, the categories remains : The best; the worst; the away; the unfortunate design / the retro classic. Likewise, these are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste.

Are these right? Wrong? What are your thoughts?

For me, they are as follows….

The Best: Chad. Home 1990-92 KLM sponsored. Chad manufactured. Title winning. Simple but stunning and the most evocative of memories. No nonsense red and white with black collar and tasteful trim. I can’t look at this without thinking of Terry Evans, Kevin Godfrey, Keith Millen, Neil Smillie and, of course, Deano & Bliss. Didn’t something happen at Peterborough? My all time favourite, hands down.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 06.15.17The away: Adidas. Third 2015/16 Whilst I’ve always opted for the corresponding Chad away shirt, kitman Bob pulled something very special out of the bag last season when we played Blackburn Rovers. A Brentford third kit. In black. Oh, this is a thing of beauty – and not just the image of Sam Saunders wearing it in conjunction with short shorts (which, I gather, medical advice suggests is apparently something not thought about in this already hot weather !) . We’ve gone for black again this season – can it match up to this?

 

 

The worst: Puma. Away.  2008/09 .Puma’s offering was truly horrific. It shouldn’t have been. There was nothing too fussy / garish about it whilst it had two shades of blue. But what a shade – pastel ‘baby blue’. The sort of thing a newborn might wear – until he vomited on it (which would be an improvement). Worse, it was regurgitated as 2009/10’s third kit.

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And from a home perspective, how about Puma 2011/12 Floppy black collars. They’re floppy!!? The only point of a collar on a football shirt is so as you can stand it up – preferably just at the point of entering ‘Saunder’s territory’. Sizing issues. Yet the ultimate crime is the red shoulder patches and double black trim.  A combo that makes us look like hotel doormen in knock off adidas shirts – the brand with two stripes

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Marcel Eger chose to wear a spray on shirt rather than hold it

 

Retro classic / unfortunate design: Osca. Home, 1983/84 . It just had to be. A white upper half and, for the first half of the season, worn with white shorts….. The Marmite of Brentford shirts. To some, an abhoration. To others (well, me) it’s brilliant. One man’s retro classic is another’s unfortunate design. I’m definitely in the former camp

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Here’s hoping tomorrow brings something equally spectacular.

Nick Bruzon

From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

Money can’t necessarily buy you success. Of course, at Brentford having the sort of finances available to the likes of the teams at the top end of the Premier League is just a pipe dream. Yet it made last night’s results all the more interesting as this most captivating of top flight seasons continued. Despite their mega-millions, Manchester City (at mid-table Liverpool) and Arsenal (hosting relegation candidates Swansea) both lost against opposition they’d have been expected, on paper, to breeze past.

The flip side to this is that when you are operating on a reduced budget, unearthing that game changing player is a truly joyful experience. And this is where Brentford come into the equation. The previous column looked at, amongst other things, the FourFourTwo magazine survey on your club’s ‘cult hero’ over the top four divisions.

It is genuinely a fascinating read (my own contribution aside) with the results, being published on-line now showing clubs A-M. Starting with Accrington Stanley, it has so far gone through Brentford, along with the aforementioned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to the point they had, at the time of writing, got as far as Morecambe.

So few of these players are the big money signings making the headlines today but each have their special place amongst the fans. And the reason for mentioing this again was, specifically, the chance to talk a bit more about Brentford. Or, rather, our own nominee – Gary Blissett.

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All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

Given the constraints of the Four FourTwo site, somebody like Bliss (not to mention those who ran him close when the question was put out there on Facebook last month) deserved more than the 100-150 words available. So here is the full, unexpurgated version.

Gary Blissett – cult hero

Where do you start when looking for a cult hero? For a team like Brentford, where the trophy cabinet is more an aspiration than anything else, most people outside of TW8 probably know us for the sort of thing that would make TV’s “What happened Next…?” rather than the record books.

Goalkeeper Chic Brodie having his career ended by a runaway dog. Millwall fans throwing a hand grenade onto the pitch (November 1965, for the record). The failed takeover bid by QPR that would have seen Brentford cease to exist and our bitterest rivals move into Griffin Park. Eight play-off defeats out of eight (the least successful of all English teams when reaching football’s ‘final four’).

Then, of course, there was ‘that penalty’ in the final minute of the final game of 2012/13. A winner takes all encounter with promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers.

Only one team could make it to the Championship and, with the scores locked at 0-0, the Bees were awarded a 90th minute spot kick. The subsequent tussle for the ball involving club captain Kevin O’Connor (approaching his 500th game), and Marcello Trotta (on loan from Fulham, of all places) is one as familiar as the Italian’s subsequent effort thudding off the crossbar and, with Bees players prostrate on the ground in despair, our opponents going down the other end where they scored to secure promotion and the title.

That’s how we do things at Griffin Park. Glorious failure being as familiar a taste as the pre-match hot dog. Yet when we do win things, it makes them all the sweeter. Every now and again it happens. And even when we don’t, we still have a lot of fun along the way. Thanks, largely, to those figures you’d label as Cult Heroes.

Big John O’Mara who, in his first season, scored 25 goals in 40 games. Centre back Peter Gelson, who made 471 appearances in a Griffin Park career that stretched from 1960 to 1975. The legendary Jim Towers and George Francis aka The Terrible Twins. Playing together for most of the 1950s, they still remain (respectively) the club’s first and second highest all time goal scorers.

Hard as nails players such as Terry Hurlock, Terry Evans and Martin Grainger.

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

Those who just seemed to exude personality and had the crowd eating out of their hand – Allan Cockram, Lloyd Owusu and Marcus Gayle (just don’t sing that song near your granny).

Modern day heroes including Jota – the last minute goal being his own personal calling card. Toumani Diagouraga – “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the Ealing Road. He’d last done it in March 2013 and we had to sit through another 111 games without him troubling the scorers before he was sold to Leeds at the end of January. Less than 40 minutes into his full debut….

Or how about Sam Saunders? The perma-tanned wing wizard (and former tube worker) so beloved of fans that most would allow him to ‘have relations’ with their wives, if the terrace chant is to be believed.

But when it comes down to it, there can be only one winner. The moustachioed legend that is Gary Blissett. aka ‘Bliss’.

79 goals from 223 league appearances (105 from 291 total) in a 6 year career from 1987-1993 don’t even tell half the story. His brace against boyhood heroes Manchester City in the 1988-89 FA Cup fourth round sent Griffin Park into meltdown as the Bees earned a 3-1 passage into the fifth round. There, Bliss repeated the feat as his late pair at Blackburn Rovers helped Brentford to a deserved 2-0 win. Sadly it wasn’t to be in an Anfield quarter final as the Bees bowed out despite giving all-conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads) an almighty scare.

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Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

His defining goal was probably the final game of the 91/92 season. With the Bees having won the previous five on the spin, including a 4-0 demolition of Fulham, we travelled to Peterborough knowing a win and some good fortune could make the impossible, possible.

Bliss was the man who popped up with a first half header as we then sat through an awful lot of ‘squeaky bum time’ for a famous 1-0 win. With other results going our way, including a shock defeat for a Birmingham City side that Saint & Greavsie had earlier congratulated on TV for winning the League, we snuck up the blind side and became Champions. Sometimes, it happens.

Gary was an ever present the following season as, despite the sale of strike partner Dean Holdsworth, his goals almost kept us in English football’s second tier.

But there was more to Gary than short shorts, a luxuriant ‘tache and goals, goals, goals.

A wannabe goalkeeper, he was the man who donned the gloves during a Championship game with Southend United after injury, and no spare on the bench, meant we got to enjoy that wonderful moment where an outfield player goes between the posts. Bliss promptly ignored every piece of advice being shouted to him by youth ‘keeper Ashley Bayes and kept a clean sheet.

But it was his red card at Craven Cottage after what we will politely call a ‘coming together’ with Fulham ‘keeper Jim Stannard that is a moment as popular with Bees’ fans as that goal at Peterborough. Bliss left the field to a standing ovation in a game that showed us the West London derby meant as much to the players as the supporters.

All the money in the bank can’t buy a player like Bliss. The £60,000 we paid Crewe back in 1987, even now, still seems like the bargain of the century.

Like Marcus Gayle and Allan Cockram, Bliss still visits Griffin Park. Catching up with him briefly in the week, he told me, “ I follow every game and after my beloved City Brentford are of course the team I want to see succeed more than any other team or club in the world.

I am sure MB will have Plan B, C, D and more and will one day be playing at The Ethiad IN THE LEAGUE

For those amongst us feeling slightly down about things on the pitch this year, these are surely words to put your trust in. If a demi-God such as Bliss believes, then that’s all the inspiration we need .

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

Nick Bruzon

Shirt news and a moment of genius from the programme

9 May

With Brentford fans, for once, able to enjoy the play offs (will it be Uwe’s Wigan Athletic or the Loftus Road mob who stay in the Championship; perhaps Leyton Orient will enjoy some Wembley FA Cup style celebrations) the mind starts to wander to other things.

For me, it’s two fold – next season’s shirt and looking to dig up the past from our previous, brief foray into the Championship.

On the former subject, the club has remained tight lipped, so far, beyond a reference to some form of special crest. Chief Executive Mark Devlin went a step further on twitter during the week when, questioned on the subject by several kit enthusiasts (football’s equivalent of trainspotters?) including myself, he has now advised:

“Goes on sale June 19. And has stripes on the reverse! Watch out for our teaser campaign.”

This is excruciating. I feel like a guest at the ambassador’s party. We can all see the butler in the corner, waiting patiently with that pyramid of Ferrero Rocher precariously piled on top of the silver platter. I’m desperate to bite into a hazelnut smeared in nutella but, until such time as ‘His excellency’ gives the barely imperceptible nod, the Roche (which a colleague recently assured me is the correct plural) remain off limits.

After two years of teabags and red backs, I’m itching to see the new shirt. Whatever this campaign is, I hope it starts soon.

As for the second issue, I’ve long ranted about Ray Biggar – the chronologically challenged referee who as good as sent us down to the third tier back in 1993 with the eight minutes of mysterious extra time that allowed Notts County to steal two points from The Bees. Well, I bought the programme from that game on eBay last week (£1.40 including p&p).

Would there be picture of the man? Perhaps a biography. I was just after some additional information about Ray – some explanation as to what caused him to do us such damage? But there was nothing beyond his name – incorrectly spelt – and place of residence. Noooo. I feel cheated.

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The Biggar file – I blame the editor

As though the butler had been summoned but then the first guest decided to take the bottom Rocher, thus causing massive pyramidic instability – the net result of which was a cascade of tumbling chocolates as they all fell to the floor.

However, any disappointment at this was soon tempered by the a flick through the rest of the programme, in particular the 8 page ‘Focus on the Club shop’ in which Bob Booker, Neil Smillie and Chris Hughton do their best to promote everything from rugby shirts and cardigans to waist coats and jumpers.

They don’t do marketing like this anymore – which is a real shame. You can see some extracts below. Given the various ‘hotties of the year’ still at the club, I reckon the programme team and club shop could ‘double up’ for a real winner next campaign.

Mike Sullivan, Mark Devlin, and Mark Chapman – over to you….

PS If any ambassadors are reading (they aren’t) and could explain correct protocol of how to ‘eat into’ the pyramid’ please do let us know.

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