Tag Archives: Pele

The Last Word On….

11 Aug

With Championship action back on the agenda, Ipswich Town are next up for Brentford. As such, we have the first in a new regular feature about our forthcoming home opponents :  The Last Word on….  Much like ‘kit obsessive’, which will also return ahead of most home games, this features a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors with the results picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions (and to sensitive Manchester United supporters) here is: The Last Word on…..Ipswich Town

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both) : It can only be Jonathan Douglas, surely? What about Nicky Forster ? Marcus Bent, maybe? Who could forget Icelandic demigod Hermann Hreidarsson ?

But no, my choice goes to Jay Tabb.

Part of my all time Brentford XI (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett),  the Bees picked him up in 2000 after being released by Crystal Palace. The wing wizard went on to make 128 appearances, aswell as earning 10 Ireland U-21 caps, culminating in the doomed play off campaign (is there another type?) against Swansea City in 2006.

The ever-popular Tabby left for (then) Championship Coventry, has since tasted top-flight football with Reading before making just shy of 80 appearances for Ipswich Town.

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Tabby in action for the Bees

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees): It is only in recent seasons where our paths have crossed with any form of regularity – certainly in my lifetime. As such, I’m going for the opening game of last season’s Championship campaign. With Brentford fans getting their initial taste of life under Marinus Dijkhuizen it also marked our first game without Jonathan Douglas – the new head coach having immediately released him from his duties at Griffin Park.

Where else but Ipswich Town would be his next destination as the Tractor Boys, with the former Bee on the bench, swept into a two goal lead despite an appalling playing surface that would quickly adopt the pitchgate monicker. Just twelve minutes remained as Dougie entered the (ploughed) field of play with the score still set at 0-2.

This was still sufficient time for Douglas to both break Jota in an ‘accidental’ challenge that would see the ever popular Spaniard miss out for the next few months and oversee a near certain victory turn into a draw. Goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski in the heart of Jota time rescuing a 97th minute point for Brentford.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player) : For the casual observer, there can be only one choice. Famous names from the Ipswich Town’s heyday include those such as Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren and Mick Mills.

However, for me it has to be John Wark. Voted the club’s all time cult hero in the BBC’s 2004 poll, who am I to disagree? A Scottish international, he was their player of the year 4 times in 6 seasons over a career that encompassed three spells from 1975 to 1996. With FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner’s medals in his cabinet (not to mention acting honours) there can be no other.

Famous fan: Ipswich have a few. Their director’s box is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the rich and famous.Tom Chaplin from Keane, Charlie Eyebrows from Busted. Brian Cant. Yes, THE Brian Cant. Let’s hope The Tractor Boys don’t play away as wonderfully as the voice of TV’s Trumpton (kids, ask your parents).

But perhaps the biggest of all is Chester Bennington from U.S. rockers Linkin Park. Supposedly introduced to the club  by his father (a police office who had become friends with a fan from Suffolk one holiday) he has been pictured in the team colours  although it would seem he is yet to actually attend a game.

Presumably, if he did rather than sitting on the side you’d find him… in the end

linkin park ipswich

Bennington. A Tractor Boy, apparently…

Best ever league performance: There are sure to be plenty but one sticks out in particular for me. A top flight destruction of Manchester United by a staggering 6-0. That’s one short of brackets.

Back in March 1980 Bobby Robson’s boys, inspired by Town’s Dutch duo of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, destroyed a Manchester United side whose fans were left sining “We want 7(seven)”. Who doesn’t?

It could have been worse but for Gary Bailey in the United goal. The Red Devil’s ‘keeper saving three penalties, one of which had even been retaken.

It’s here, in fuzzy 80’s pixel vision

Moment of ignominy :4th March 1995. Roles were reversed. And then some. Manchester United setting a Premier League record for the largest winning margin as they humbled Town 9-0. Those beautiful brackets were achieved in little over an hour as they almost made it to double figures. Incredibly, less than 44,000 were present at Old Trafford for this one. How times have changed (or perhaps Season ticket holders were just impacted by trouble on the line up from Guildford).

Manager of the century ( most famous / popular manager) : There is only ever one answer to this question – the legend that is Sir Bobby Robson. In charge at Portman Road from 1969 to 1982, he took his club to the brink of the top flight title with a win ratio of close to 45% over this 13 year period.

Double silverware came with the 1977-78 FA Cup and the 1980-81 UEFA Cup before he left to take on an eight year spell in charge of the England team that culminated in that World cup semi-final heartache against Germany .

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement): You could pick any of the victories or cups noted above but, for me, Ipswich Town have a much bigger and totally unique place in football history. Specifically,  their representation in the film Escape To Victory.

This, a regular entrant to my all time ‘top ten’ films and one of that rare breed to successfully straddle the twin themes of football and WW2 POW camp escape

The aforementioned Wark appears (naturellement). As does Russell Osman, Robin Turner, Kevin O’Callaghan and Laurie Sivell. In addition, body doubles Kevin Beattie and Paul Cooper filled in for Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone during some of the ‘match action’ scenes.

John Wark and Pele. Together. Only in Escape to Victory.

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We can win this…..

Nick Bruzon

Can we just go straight to Plan B?

27 Sep

Mark Warburton may have a Plan B up at Rangers (I don’t know, I don’t follow the Scottish Championship that closely) but he famously didn’t have one at Brentford. Marinus, on the other hand, does but as Sheffield Wednesday left Griffin Park with all three points yesterday, Brentford fans were left wondering why Plan A doesn’t seem to be working.

For the seventh time in eight league games we fell behind before, as we did last Saturday, stepping up our game considerably in the Second half. But unlike the game against Preston, where we stormed back to a 2-1 win, this time it was Sheffield Wednesday who achieved that scoreline – a 90th minute goal on the break from Lucas João being the ultimate difference between the two teams.

View from the terrace - the HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate at that point

View from the terrace. The HT show from Buzz was the most we had to celebrate ….at that point

We can take positives from the way the team played for the majority of the second half, despite being down to ten men. The penalty awarded for James Tarkowski’s foul on Atdhe Nuhiu with less than 40 minutes on the clock saw the giant centre forward stroke it past David Button as well as, eventually, earning a red card for the fit again centre back.

It was a strange decision (the sending off, I mean). Indecisive referee Geoff Eltringham allowing himself to be harangued by Wednesday players before consulting a linesman who, eventually, helped him come to the decision of ‘straight red’. This, despite Jake Bidwell clearly being the last man back between Nuhiu and the goalkeeper.

Nuhiu is the sort of player you’d love in your team. Physical, huge presence and a proper nuisance. And he knew the way to goal – seeing an earlier effort come back off the bar. He went to ground very easily on more than one instance yet Eltringham saw nothing wrong in his game to warrant even a talking to, let alone a yellow, at any point.

Still, if Brentford went in a man and a goal down, they did everything to start fighting their way back into the game. Jack O’Connell had a stunning effort at the back with a number of perfectly timed tackles and challenges. It was a shame he was the unfortunate man in the wrong place at the wrong time for 2-1 as Brentford were exposed, pushing for a late winner.

Likewise, Josh Clarke at right back looked very impressive, especially bringing the ball out of defence. I’d be very interested to see him playing ahead of Alan Mac at some point, with the midfielder returning to that defensive role he’d made his own in the past.

With the Bees pressing, a goal seemed likely and finally it came – from the most unlikely of assists. David Button pushed almost to the half way line to curl a cross-field ball to Alan Judge. It was an exquisite delivery from a ‘keeper whose distribution has been lambasted in the past but the execution from Judge was even better.

A perfect trap and then shot across the goal into the far corner sent the crowd wild. Even the club staff celebrated that one to a fanatical level – a moment captured by the Football League Tonight and Beesplayer cameras.

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

Alan launches himself at ecstatic fans….

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

…having administered a deadly blow to Sheffield supporters

At 1-1 and pushing it looked as though Brentford might snatch a winner that, in the first half, had been the last thing anybody expected. Instead, when the more prudent amongst us might have reverted to Plan A and locked things up to get an unlikely point, we went for it. You can’t knock Marinus’ desire and moreso with Wednesday also down to 10 men at this point.

But with the Bees in the Sheffield box, the ball broke and once Lucas João had picked O’Connell’s pocket, not even the Herculean David Button had sufficient strength to hold back the last minute one-on-one.

It was a bitter blow and moreso, having been given the hope of a route back into a game we had no chance of being anywhere near on the first half showing. Bees stat guru Luis Melville nailed it on twitter late last night with this very telling observation:

Luis's stats remain 'the bomb' (that's a good thing, I believe)

Luis’s stats remain ‘the bomb’ (that’s a good thing, I believe)

The positive is a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night against a Birmingham City side that hasn’t won in three (and went down at home to Rotherham United yesterday). The negative is that we haven’t really got a huge element of team choice, given the injury crisis and suspension for Tarks. Will the players have enough in the tank for another 90 minutes – moreso, against a team containing a few familiar faces in Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson?

Away from Griffin Park, the Pele cup took place at the training ground. The great man himself was, indeed, at Jersey Road where Cliff Crown was amongst the fortunate few to meet him. Hopefully they just discussed football, football, football (and, perhaps, Escape To Victory) rather than Pele’s foray into TV advertising. I would.

A moment I never thought I'd see - Pele and the Brentford chairman.

A moment I never thought I’d see – Pele and the Brentford chairman.

And then I did it. Football League Tonight. I sat through the full 90 minutes. Or should that be, stood.

Having previously given the show a good kicking on it’s debut (one which, for the record, I still stand by) it’s been pleasing to see the gimmicks fall away and, over the weeks, Channel 5 giving us a more traditional ‘highlights package’. So when the opportunity came to be an audience member, it seemed churlish to turn it down.

Being honest, I’m impressed. What we tend to take for granted is that this is a live show. Given how soon it is transmitted after the action ends, there’s no real choice but despite the problems they suffered in the opening weeks, fair play for sticking to that element. Moreso, with the ‘random’ element of an audience.

Not as bawdy as Soccer AM but sufficiently different from the Football League Show, they have now fused the better parts of each programme. Kelly Cates is definitely the show’s shining star and the chemistry from George Riley is growing.

The audience interview still seemed a bit stilted (then again, that could just be the price you pay for talking to MK Dons fans) although I do like the idea of this quick snapshot from the ‘regular fan’ aswell as the players – Barry Bannan of Sheffield Wednesday being the man brought in to admit, small consolation, that his team and been lucky to get the win.

As for Adam Virgo – I’m still not sure what to make of him. Part footballer, part Clem, part geography teacher. He’s no Leroy (still my favourite pundit from Manish’s Football League Show) but then again, he’s no Steve Claridge and is looking a lot more confortable in the role

Does it beat the Football League Show? No, not yet. Then again, football highlights shows have been in such a set style for so long that it is a format we’ve had drilled into us. You can’t knock Channel 5 for attempting to break from the norm and, moreso, acknowledge that their initial attempts to do so were somewhat OTT.

Will I watch again? Absolutely. Many of the previous gripes have been ironed out and Kelly, especially, did a great job (catching George with one particular zinger about his age and Top of the Pops). Ultimately, the show gives us what we need – the highlights, in order, with a number of extended games.

It’s just a shame that, with more focus on Brentford, we didn’t see the Bees pick up any points. Still, there’s always Tuesday. It won’t be easy and, being honest, I’m anxious.

Then again, Griffin Park under floodlights is a magical place and, IF we can start that one like we ended this one (the goal aside!) then who knows what could happen….

Mark Burridge certainly enjoys the Judge strike (along with the rest of the video highlights)

Nick Bruzon

Can Pele inspire Brentford or will Wednesday escape to victory ?

26 Sep

Brentford fans were given the chance to warm up for the weekend football ahead of the game with Sheffield Wednesday by enjoying Friday night’s derby between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers. And we’ve got a visit from footballing (and cinematic) royalty today, kind of…

But beginning at Craven Cottage, it really was one of those awful yet compelling choices. Our two local rivals going head-to-head with no way that both could lose. Whilst, ordinarily, you’d hope for a red card laden 0-0 in this sort of game, if one side has to win then at least it’s nice to see the other on the back end of a spanking. And what a thrashing was administered as Fulham ran out 4-0 victors.

The Rangers website described it as “another night to forget for QPR at Craven Cottage” although I much preferred Bees fan and Bluetones’ guitarist Adam Devlin’s take on things:

Adam shares what we were all thinking

Adam shares what we were all thinking

There was a debatable/condescending (delete as applicable) point made in the Sky commentary that it was, “The great West London derby” alongside the semi-apologetic caveat “with all due respect to Brentford”. Anybody with half an eye on football knows full well that the phrase ‘with all due respect to’ means anything but. A polite way of saying,”we are miles better than you ”.

Aside from my own loyalties to the Bees, a half full away end and a crowd of 19,784 compared to the 23,271 present for our own game in April suggest otherwise. Those visiting supporters who did travel provided all the excitement of a children’s magic trick as the TV coverage suggested a somewhat muted atmosphere. This was less,”The great West London derby” and more ‘The Great Soprendo’ (kids, ask your dads).

On the plus side, at least Fulham now know what it feels like to score four goals at Craven Cottage.

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The stats don’t lie….

And so on to all matters Sheffield Wednesday. Not that there’s too much to say at the moment. Brentford supporters will, hopefully, have been buoyed but the updates from the management team during the week at the fans’ forum, along with the news that one of the dirty dozen (that’s the injury list) is due to return. Marinus confirmed on Thursday evening that James Tarkowski was over the knock that had kept him out of the game at Middlesbrough and the win over Preston North End in our previous outing.

The visit of Wednesday is the second of three home games in a row for the Bees and a victory today, whilst by no means a guarantee, will take us to exactly the same position as we were in last season – 11 points after 8 games. It would take us past our opponents, level with Fulham and just one point off QPR (and the teams currently in the play offs) with a game in hand.

Whilst it is still a bit early into the campaign to make an informed decision on our prospects for the season overall (only after ten games can we say that the table has ‘taken shape’) today would seem to be the perfect example of – cliché alert – taking every game as it comes. The short-term rewards for a win are tangible and some which should, one would hope, add to the already charged atmosphere at Griffin Park.

And finally. Pele. To many, the greatest footballer of all time. To me, moreso. The greatest footballer of all time abut also the greatest footballer-cum-actor who starred in the quintessential ‘football/POW escape’ crossover movie, Escape To Victory.

I’ve waxed lyrical about this film, many times so will spare the regular reader another lecture – suffice to say it comfortably nestles in my all time top ten films alongside the likes of ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, ‘Star Wars’ and the Vin Diesel classic ‘xXx’.

Pele - a footballing and acting giant

Pele – a footballing and acting giant

So imagine my excitement to read on the official site that he will be the guest of honour at the training ground today for the Pelé cup. This, as the club have announced, being “A special tournament honouring one of the world’s greatest ever players and featuring some of the best up-and-coming talent in Europe.”

Sadly, they then went on to announce that this tournament is, “Behind closed doors and strictly no admittance.”

I have to be honest, initial feelings were of immense disappointment. Why plaster this news all over the cub site on a Friday afternoon but then make it clear we couldn’t come along without prior arrangement? A footballing demi-God will be walking amongst us, just not the supporters. Were they worried we might witness the latest round of the training ground injury jinx?

It seemed to be the equivalent of that moment on TV’s Bullseye during the show’s finale – The Gamble. The competing couple had stuffed it up. The cash, the ‘Bendy Bullys’ and the washing machine or decanter set from the prize board had all been frittered away in pursuit of a speedboat.

Then Jim Bowen would give the ultimate kick in the nuts and utter the immortal lines, “I hate to do this to you, but let’s look at what you could have won”.

Out would come the obligatory boat, but there was no way anybody was getting near it. In footballing terms, Pele is within our grasp but strictly ‘off limits’.

Bullseye - another pair try to win Jim Bowen's speedboat

Bullseye – another pair try to win Jim Bowen’s speedboat

Thinking more about it this morning, I can only imagine the security nightmare that an open house ‘meet and greet’ with Pele would have caused. Our stewards are indifferent enough as it is at times on matchday, let alone with an undetermined number of people turning up unannounced at Jersey Road. Equally, this could have been as much at his request as the clubs.

That said, there are ways and means of saying things. Why share this exciting news but then make it clear in such blunt terms that we aren’t welcome? Moreso, given the open house policy we’ve all become so used to in the past.

Of course the club are going to want to share such news this but there are ways and means. If you are going to big up this sort of news, at least explain why it is being done in private or why not even have held a competition to allow a few supporters along?

Being honest, given our game with Sheffield Wednesday I can only imagine the climax of the tournament would cut across this anyway. Whilst the thought of meeting Pelé is, of course, an incredible one I’d rather be at Griffin Park with my friends.

Instead, I will simply remain in awe of the great man, think about ‘what might have been’ and perhaps crack out ‘that’ DVD once more.

A goal to rival the 'Ossie flick'

A goal to rival the ‘Ossie flick’

Nick Bruzon

Dear Andy Ansah. If you aren’t at the World Cup……

3 Oct

There doesn’t seem to be a day goes by without talk of the Qatar World Cup being moved from its traditional summer home to a winter tournament. Only after awarding football’s greatest honour to the Gulf State, does the penny seem to have dropped with FIFA that to hold the competition in 50 degree heat may prove somewhat of a logistical problem. Switching it, though, presents as many new issues – the least of which being it will cut directly through numerous domestic campaigns. By the time you factor in a warm up period, the competition itself and then some post event R&R it means a break of about four months. Hardly conducive for a, traditional, league system.

But lets go with it for a moment. If this does happen then there’ll be a lot of players left kicking their heels. What do they do with themselves?

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.