Tag Archives: Paul Smith

A tale of three Pauls and one Psycho. The Last Word on….

16 Aug

Brentford host Nottingham Forest tonight. With round 3 of Championship action  upon us, all being well we can divert ourselves from gantry based chat long enough to look at tonight’s opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and tonight Forest are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

Brentford Forest

Brentford take on Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park tonight

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Very much a tale of three Pauls, here . Our first being the goalkeeping legend that is Paul Smith. One of the finest players between the sticks in modern times, he turned out over 100 times for the Bees after signing from Carshalton back in 2000. A move to Southampton to help the club out of a financial hole would eventually follow in 2004 before he found himself at the City Ground.   Last seen at Griffin Park back in January 2013 where his single handed heroics almost stopped the Bees progressing past Southend United and an FA Cup fourth round tie with Chelsea

Next up, Paul Evans. Much like last week’s pick, Jay Tabb, part of my all time Brentford XI based on those I’ve seen play on a regular basis (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett) .

What can you say beyond “Evans. From the half way line.” Not once but twice. In successive games . What a pair of net busters and what a player. 34 goals from midfield in 157 games, along with a cap for Wales , tells its own story of a wonderful career at Griffin Park.

Like so many, his time came to an end after ‘that’ play off final against Stoke City. Move along please, nothing to talk about there.

The picture quality is awful; the technique wonderful

However, our winner is not so much a player as a caretaker manager, in Paul Williams. The one time Brentford logistics manager taking up the role of assistant to head coach Lee Carsley back in October of last year.  Paul was famously honoured by Lee when the winners of October’s manager of the month aware were announced, with Carsley saying “Every decision I have taken in the past month has been made between myself and my assistant Paul Williams.If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month

December saw a parting of the ways, however, with Paul taking the opportunity to become first team coach at Nottingham Forest and even caretaker manager for the last couple of months of the season. That was long enough to keep them up although, in a result that left Paul “really disappointed” his knowledge of the Bees was insufficient to stop us recording a 3-0 away win.

The Brentford encounter ( noteworthy game with the Bees). We’re going back almost 35 years but have picked our 1982 League cup fourth round tie. Incredibly, the furthest we’ve reached in the competition (and last week’s result at Exeter City isn’t helping that record any) it saw the Bees facing a game against Brian Clough’s best team in Europe.

Brentford were expected to be on the end of a good hiding and, whilst we eventually succumbed 2-0, Paddy Roche  made sure it was a lot closer than the pre-match predictions would have had you believe. Talking to the Bees goalkeeper about this game a few years ago, he noted the expectation levels that had been present in the home side and the reason these weren’t met “They were a top side then and we gave them a good run. That is one of the best memories of my career, probably. Gary Birtles was playing at Forest for the match that night and I’d been with him at Manchester United. He came in and told me after the game that Brian Clough had said to the Forest players “The reason you didn’t win six or seven nothing was because you played against the best ‘keeper you been up against all season”.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player). This is where it gets interesting. Million pound man Trevor Francis? That colossus of a centre back Des Walker, whose Nottingham Forest career encompassed 20 years and two spell from 1984 to 2004? What about pineapple coiffeured Jason Lee or the man whose goal sealed the 1980 European cup final, John Robertson?

However, for most neutrals there is one name synonymous with Nottingham Forest on the playing front and that, of course, is Stuart Pearce. A three time player of the year, this tough tackling full back was dubbed ’Psycho’ for good reason with a reputation, and an ability, that preceded him.

A first choice on any team sheet (club or country), how the national team must wish they had his like available for selection once more. With over 500 appearances for Forest under his belt, he was the epitome of the man who gave his all when on the pitch.

Stuart Pearce of England celebrates after scoring his penalty

Stuart Pearce – an iconic image

Famous fan. Nottingham Forest are very well served in this category. Those with a musical yearning can look to James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice. Then there are the likes of Stuart Broad or golfer Lee Westwood from the world of sport.

And of course, those with an ear to the radio will know that Absolute Radio breakfast show news reader Matt Dyson is an ardent Forest fan.

But the pairing I’d love to see in the director’s box are better known from our screens. Jason Statham is to acting what Stuart Pearce was to tackling. Just don’t mess, walk away, nothing to see here. I love his films. There’s no subtly and that’s just fine. Sit back, switch off and enjoy.

Then, you have the anti-Stath. Su Pollard. Best known, of course, for playing over-enthusiastic chalet maid Peggy on Hi-De-Hi (kids, ask your parents) if ever you had the polar opposite to the man who played Chev Chelios (Crank) and Frank Martin(The Transporter), amongst others, then here you go.

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Peggy. The anti-Stath

 

Best Ever League Performance. Not so much a game as a streak. Forget Arsenal and their so called invincibles (please, just forget Arsenal) on 26 November 1977 the club embarked on 42 match unbeaten run with a 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion . It was a run that lasted over an entire year before eventually coming to an end in December 1978. This, not before their final result in the streak, a 1-0 win over Bolton, set a record that would last for over two decades .

Moment of ignominy (what it says – opposite to above) Relegation from the Premier League in 1993. I take no pleasure form those words, either. Brian Clough subsequently retired and a team who, as somebody growing up watching football had been one of THE names to both respect and fear, had seen a golden era finally one to an end.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Can most neutrals even name another Nottingham Forest manager? It can only be Brian Clough.

You could write book on the man who managed Nottingham Forest from 1975-1993. And many have tried. So how do you pay justice to one of the most charismatic managers in football history in one paragraph?  The simple answer being that you can’t.

With the charisma also came success. He took an unfancied team all the way to the league title, numerous trophies and back to back European cup wins. Always seen as very much anti-establishment but the suits at the FA, what would have happened had he been given a chance to run the national team?

An absolute legend and one who is very sadly missed.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). For a club to win one European Cup is an incredible achievement. Moreso one who had, seemingly, come from nowhere in just a few short seasons as Nottingham Forest did when they triumphed over Malmo. Yet to repeat that feat just 12 months later, this time Hamburger SV being the victims, is simply stunning.

Interestingly, despite the huge standout of that silverware and the titles, Brian Clough is noted as seeing that unbeaten 42 streak as his greatest achievement. And who am I to argue?

Nick Bruzon

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Robert Taylor – a legend in our lunchtime

17 Oct

ImageAs Brentford fans may be aware, this Saturday sees the club hosting a special ‘Lunch with a Legend’ event. Robert ‘Bob’ Taylor will be the star guest in the hospitality lounge for the game against Colchester United. Signed from Leyton Orient in 1994, he went on to become part of the devastating ‘FT Index’, alongside Nicky Forster (with additional support from Marcus Bent and Carl Asaba). I was fortunate enough to catch up with Robert a few seasons ago for the match day programme and given his impending return now have the chance to revisit, online, what he told us then about his time at Griffin Park. Warning: contains play-offs!

Late in the 1993/94 season, manager David Webb signed Bob from Leyton Orient. Was a move across London from East to West something that he had been particularly looking for?  “I think the club at the time were in financial difficulty and were looking to offload players. I turned out to be the ‘asset’, going for £100,000. It was a lot of money to pay. I knew Dave Webb had been watching in some of the games and sent a scout down to watch me. Then the club accepted the bid when it came in. They got their hundred grand and I moved to Brentford – simple as that.”

‘Simple as that’ seems somewhat of an understatement when you think what was to follow. Bob seemed to hit the ground running. In his first full season he and Nicky just clicked although he is quick to pay tribute to the entire team rather than any individual. “The main thing is that you get on well with everybody. The whole side at Brentford got on well together. We were a tight knit group and we enjoyed playing with each other. It’s one of those things where, like I said earlier on, you have a team who want to play well and who want to win matches. People for whom wanting to play for a manager is the biggest thing.

You feel more comfortable in training. You feel at ease. You can relax and enjoy yourself. We felt like that being there. We all stayed together and enjoyed our time. We couldn’t wait to come into training and there wasn’t one person there you didn’t like. We just got on well with each other and enjoyed our company in the training sessions each day. Dave Webb is a tough man to play under and a lot of the boys were scared of him. That probably gave you the edge of wanting to win on a Saturday – you were scared to lose – but we had success there and that was good.”

Success equates to two superb seasons out of four. League restructuring meant Brentford reached the play off semis in 1994/95, Robert’s first full campaign, despite coming second behind Birmingham City (“We couldn’t believe it. It was the only year the league did it”). Two seasons later The Bees made it to the final itself. His assessment of that particular game is brutally honest. “We turned up at Wembley and played absolutely cr*p on the day. We were absolutely terrible and I don’t think we had one shot on target in the whole game. Crewe were about fifteen points behind us in the league and went on to beat us 1-0. That was the most frustrating part of it.”

ImageWhilst some people were scared of manager Webb, to the supporters his tactics in the run up to that game, and the final itself, seemed a little bit’ (and for the sake of a family website) let’s just say, ‘surprising’. For us mere mortals in the stand it was a struggle to figure out what was going on but as players, did they have more of an idea? “We couldn’t work our why he played Dave McGhee up front with me and then Carl Asaba out on the left wing. We couldn’t understand it either. I don’t know what went on. We turned up for the game and didn’t even know what the team was until we got there. It was the team he put out and we thought it was very, very strange.

As players, you’ve got to go out there and try to do your best. The team was unbalanced, we thought, and we always talked afterwards about it. People weren’t happy playing in those positions as you just wanted to go out and win the games. We didn’t understand it at the time but that’s what the manger is there for, to pick the team and do what he thinks is best.”

With this unusual strategy, did the players question Webb or just follow his word and try to make the most of the cards they had been dealt?  “No, you just accept what the manager is telling you to do. You don’t argue with him. You accept his words and have to get on with it to the best of your ability but it wasn’t our day and wasn’t meant to be.”

Despite the heartbreak of the Wembley performance against Crewe, it seems a bit easier to think of it now. “I played there twice and managed to score there once aswell (for Gillingham in a play of defeat to Manchester City). You look back on your career and it goes just like that. You’ve got to try and remember things all the time.

Are there any goals that Rob does recall which really stand out? “There’s some I do have on videotape, that’s how long ago it was, but we don’t have a video recorder anymore. There was one against Cambridge at home from about 35 yards. I remember also scoring in the semi final play offs against Bristol City, bending it into the top corner.”

If Bristol City had been a successful play off semi, our previous appearance against Huddersfield United in 1994/95 had been anything but …“Ohhh God, yeah”, he groans, as we talk about the first leg chance he managed to put over in front of the travelling Bee’s fans, most of whom were already on their feet celebrating the ‘winner’.

“ I did miss a sitter. Put it on the roof of the net. I don’t know what’s happened, to be honest with you. It was one of those where it has come across and it wasn’t exactly on the floor. Nicky put it across to me and I don’t know what happened – it just came off the top of my foot and I put it up in the air. I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that had happened, on that day. I felt absolutely gutted. I was glad I scored the penalty at home as it got rid of a lot of demons but, then again, if I had scored we would have been 2-1 up and gone through if you look at it that way.

At then end of the day, those things happen. I couldn’t change it, I couldn’t rectify it and so I just had to try and get through the second leg. It went to penalties, I stood up to take one and scored it, which made me feel a little better, although we lost the game and I was very upset. I saw the video ages ago and it’s on there – me sitting down afterwards and crying my eyes out like a big baby.

I tell you, it does get you when you’ve worked hard all season to get here and then get a kick in the teeth like that. It’s the most horrible feeling in the world.”

After coming so close in two attempts at the play offs, season 1997/98 saw the team relegated and Rob leave to join Gillingham after we had gone down. Why did he choose to go to the Priestfield? “The reason behind my departure is that things were promised at the start. At the end of the season before, when we got relegated, I scored 18-20 goals even though we went down. They said they were going to bring players in. Then suddenly, the club fell apart. People left. We had Mickey Adams come in and another one, Eddie May. It all seemed to go pear shaped and we got relegated. The following season, Ron Noades took over and things were moving quite quickly for everybody.

They even offered me a lot of money to stay at the club but I just didn’t feel that it was going to go anywhere at that time. Obviously a lot of the boys disappeared and went to Gillingham – Paul Smith, Brian Statham and Barry Ashby. I’d played with them all and they left the club. It was down heartening for me because all my mates had left. I thought to myself that I had a chance to be with my mates again, I enjoyed playing with them and that is the reason why I left. It’s got nothing to do with the supporters. It was just the way the club was going at the time with players disappearing. I just thought it was best for myself to go and enjoy my football.”

For those that may not have seen him play, how would Robert describe himself for that time he was at Brentford? “I just went out and tried to give 110% in every game. I always wanted to score goals and was a team player. There were a couple of younger players who joined and were all for themselves, so you had to knock them down a peg or two. This is the real world, it’s a team game and not for individuals.

I thought I was part of the team because if you are an individual, the players won’t accept you. To get on with everybody then you have to become a team player –that is the biggest thing in football, period. If you think you are better than what you are then you’ll never get on and it will give you an unbalanced side aswell.

Me, I just wanted to win every game. I loved being around all the boys at the club and had a good camaraderie with them. The boys were superb and it’s a shame that when you get to the end of your career you lose all their numbers and don’t speak to them again. That’s the sad thing about it. We all should get together and have an old man’s football match…”

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Robert Taylor – coming back to Griffin Park on Saturday

Martin Taylor extends loan – but who are Brentford’s ‘greatest’ signings?

8 Oct

It was announced yesterday afternoon that Martin Taylor has signed for another month on loan for Brentford.

This, in my eyes, is very good news.   A solid centre back who can add some experience to our young team and one who has already proven he has an eye for goal.  However, it got me thinking of whom Brentford’s top ten signings in recent times, loan or otherwise, have been. Not necessarily the best ten players to represent the club (although an ‘all time XI’ feature is coming soon) but just the best bits of transfer activity – whether in terms of price or impact.

So here they are:

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.