Tag Archives: Peter Gilham

Busting every sinew to make the abnormal seem normal

27 Jun

No pressure Fulham and Leeds United. Brilliant Brentford battered Bilic’s Baggies – (c) The Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s aliteration – at a packed (sounding) Griffin Park last night to move within five points of table topping West Bromwich Albion. With the second and fourth placed teams due to play this lunchtime, something has to give in our way as the Bees continue this dogged pursuit of promotion. At a time that others are starting to fall apart around us, Thomas Frank saw his team make it three wins on the spin, unbeaten since March and 8 goals for whilst none conceded over that period. Ethan Pinnock was a colossus at the back. Ollie Watkins proving he still has the golden touch up front. Peter Gilham giving it his all on the tannoy – his dulcet tones reverberating all around TW8. Screams of Brreeennttfffoooorrdddddd drifting over the neighbourhood. His one man mission to make Griffin Park sound as loud as ever leaving our man-with-the-mic hoarse at full-time.

If it wasn’t the same match day experience for those of us mere mortals usually allowed inside the stadium, the club did the very best to make it feel as normal as possible in the circumstances. The compact nature of our home allowing us to fill the ground with supporter banners and flags to quite wonderful effect. A sea of faces filling the paddock as the 3D effect of the banners gave the look of a large crowd to those of us watching on TV i.e. everybody except those few whose names had appeared on a guest list of journalistic credentials that was nigh on impossible to gain access to. And I did try. Ian Moose would have had more luck walking in to a McDonalds to buy a Big Mac at the moment than Joe Public did of busting in to Griffin Park.   

But with Sky getting better and better at the ‘fake crowd’ noise, to the point of club specific chants, appropriate cheers and the usual boos for Keith Stroud  ( perhaps I made that last one up  – our man in the middle once again belying his reputation) it wasn’t as odd watching it on TV as it should have been. Moreso when we were lucky enough to spend the evening camped out with friends in their back garden that nestles in the shadow of the ‘away end’. Whilst the West Brom supporters may have been so loud they sounded like Aldershot, PG more than made up for it on the home side.

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You’re so loud you sound like Aldershot…

If anything, his bellowing was even more ferocious than usual. There was no breaking his stride. No deviation from the norm. He gave it everything with all the regular stylings. The prematch music remained the same. Likewise at full time with another three points in the bag, thanks to our 1-0 win. Even down to his “Have a safe journey home tonight”. There’s no one there and he don’t care. He could have been the last man on earth and I get the feeling he’d have carried on as though there was nothing untoward.

Honestly, it was life affirming. If ever you wanted to describe to somebody what it feels like to support Brentford. To show them true passion and utter devotion to a team.  If ever there was a living embodiment of a club, our club, then it is Peter. And last night it was demonstrated more than ever. 

As it happens, H and I popped out for some fresh air some time after the game had finished. Who should we bump in to but PG himself. From a safe distance, of course. My word the grin and the croakiness said it all. The enjoyment in what had played out before clear. We’d heard every scream from the garden – including the goal announcement 30 seconds before seeing Ollie guide the winner home on TV with little more than a quarter hour gone. We’d felt every moment. Now we had the quite perfect denouement to a quite wonderful evening. 

Honestly, being trapped outside a locked stadium is not the way to watch a game. We were lucky enough to be sitting within a few yards of the goal. Just the slight problem of a twenty foot fence separating us from seeing the action. The TV coverage is definitely improving and, all being well, it won’t be long until we are allowed back in to the ground. The players are, I am sure, as keen as the fans to have full houses. The full time celebrations showed what it meant to them. Imagine doing that with our usual sell out crowd roaring them on? 

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Close but no cigar. Never has a few yards felt more like a few miles

For now, it remains a case of locked doors. Of wall to wall TV coverage. Of having crept to within touching distance of Leeds Untied and West Brom.

Dare I say it, but could a win for Fulham be the best outcome today? Or a draw? Leeds are five points ahead. We’d need two wins to overtake them, obv. Should the gap become six then it would still be the same, given the huge goal difference in our favour over everybody else in the division. Perhaps it is best just to focus on ourselves. We can’t influence that game and have our own trip to mid-table Reading on Tuesday night. With the games coming thick and fast, perhaps we’ll see a few changes coming on that front. Could Bryan Mbeumo start? His own recovery from the positive Corona virus test confirmed by his place on the bench last night.

Still, all that’s to come. We were immense last night. It was weird to watch but magnificent at the same time. Our club is incredible. Busting every sinew to make the abnormal seem normal. We’re beating our rivals on the pitch. Looks like we’re doing the same off it. Just 7(seven) games to go. Can we close the gap? Roll on Tuesday when we find out ….

And if Leeds could fall apart, again, that would also be appreciated.

Nick Bruzon

It should be farewell, Griffin Park. There are still going to be tears.

2 May

I’m done. Saturday morning and the sun is coming up. It should be Brentford v Barnsley. Our final game at Griffin Park before the move to Lionel Road. Instead we remain locked in Corona Virus inflicted limbo. Nobody knowing when, where or how football will return. The one thing everybody seeming certain on that it will be without fans. A curious ‘behind-closed-doors’ affair with all the atmosphere of the Mrs. Browns’ Boys studio. Instead of saying goodbye in style, we are all left wondering if the 5-0 humping of Sheffield Wednesday back in early March was our unintentional goodbye. Rather than securing promotion to the Premier League against the Tykes, there’s a 12.30pm Zoom chat with our regular group of fans followed by the GPG hosting Andy Scott in their regular Saturday afternoon Q&A slot. No pressure Andy, but these are big shoes to fill today.

I like the EUro qualifiers but want to get back to Griffin Park

The approach to GP Is an uplifting one

I want to celebrate being alive. I want to be positive. I want to think about football and our amazing team but it all feels flat at present. So dreadfully flat. This was supposed to be THE day at Brentford. Our chance to say farewell to Griffin Park. A full house, a few tears, a wistful look around and a lot of hugs with the people we’ve spent every other Saturday for the last twenty or so years alongside.

The last beer on the forecourt (please note: your definition of beer may vary). A nostalgic nod to where the Alladin’s cave of a club shop used to stand – the Tardis like red portacabin now replaced by a coffee cart whose queuing / payment system is about as confusing as a Marinus Dijkhuizen tactics chart.

Peter Giham was going to be on the pitch. Crying. Shouting. Exhorting. Probably the man selected to remove the final number from the countdown board. Angry Dad would be just to our right, giving the linesman one final ear-bashing. Sorry Alex, I mean reminder of the rules. This, before our new seating arrangements mean that we’ll be located on different sides of the ground next season. Whenever that is.

No more Mister Partridge or Ohhh-nooo Brentford man (relax, we’re 5-0 up. It’ll be fine) in our immediate vicinity. Will we see Jumper man again? Or the lesser spotted Jumper woman with her funky Bee? He’s always there at Griffin Park but might his sartorial magnificence be lost to us in the less claustrophobic surroundings of Lionel Road? 

I read the news. Listen to the radio. I can’t see any hope of us being allowed back in to Griffin Park. Sorry to be blunt but there we are. I want to be wrong. I’m so desperate to be wrong.

Oh, I love the place so much. The floodlights towering above us. The close confines of the seating. Roaring on our team and barracking an opposition who are just yards away. Where we sit is so close to the pitch you can actually see Leeds falling apart. Or should that be, sat?

I want Thomas Frank to lead the team around and celebrate with the fans at full time as he did game after game. I want to go to the pub beforehand. And after. Perhaps if today had gone as expected, to even be celebrating with the players on the pitch and then in the pub afterwards, as we so famously did on that day against Preston. There was going to be one last photo and then that’s it, walk out for the last time. Even if, knowing us, we’d have still cocked up our own ‘final game’ and ended up back again for the play-offs.

It’s Brentford, innit.

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I want to see Thomas do his Full Time thing once more

We’ve all got so much to be thankful for. Have so many good memories. Amazing memories. Preston. Manchester City. Fulham. Newport. Sunderland. Names that will mean different things to different generations. Then there’s the fact that the delay to Lionel Road has meant my own family have been able to enjoy years here that , realistically, I’d resigned myself to them missing out on.

Whatever else happens, Harry will have truly felt and experienced our home. From his first game (Nottingham Forest 2-2) to what may well have been his last here (Sheffield Wednesday 5-0).

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That first game! 

For that, and all the other amazing days, I am truly grateful. They won’t change. If anything, they’ll be even stronger. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not angry about today. Devastated about today.

This was supposed to be OUR day. OUR farewell. OUR last goodbye. Instead, there’s nothing. Nothing. Except Andy Scott. And that’s meant with no disrespect whatsoever  – he did so much for us a player and beyond. A true club legend and it will be great to hear him speak. But no man and no webcast can change what we have been denied.

Bliss Manchester City

One of my greatest days at Griffin Park

Yes. The world is shit at the moment. Look at the bigger picture. Of course I’m grateful to have my health (I hope), a family and a job. We’ve a roof over our head and some food on the table. The daily casualty list makes for grim reading and many people looking in would argue that this is ‘just football’. That we need to have some perspective. And of course, from that respect they are right.

But at the same time this doesn’t stop it from hurting like hell. THE big date on the calendar. The one we’ve all been building to for the last 130 years denied by something so far out of our control. Something that has far bigger impact than ‘just’ a game of football. I want say goodbye to my friends. My football family. My first true love.

Instead, I’ll be peering through a padlock when I take the morning run in a few minutes. And there’ll be tears.

:-(

😦

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was this the darkest day in our history?

14 Apr

February 28th 1998. A date that will go down in history for Brentford fans. The opposition York City. The result – well, it doesn’t really matter these days. At least, the on pitch one. Instead what happened on the touchline has become one of the most controversial things to ever happen at Griffin Park. It was the day we decided to show the fans our shirt for the following season (something one can only dream of these days). You know the one . The version that added black spray paint to the traditional red & white stripes. The design which, at the very best, looked like a poor man’s graffiti artist had got to work on a Bournemouth kit. But much, much worse. It was slated to go on sale at the final game of that campaign, against Luton Town. 

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I’ve seen this picture before and was actually there at the time. I even own one of these (thanks to the birthday based generosity and resourcefulness of Mrs. Bruzon). But the history of what happened has all gone a little hazy over time.

Then, whilst leafing through the Big Brentford Book of the 90s to see if I could find a picture of an Umbro / Cobra crossover goalkeeper’s kit I’d seen for sale on eBay, there it was once more. 

Not just Graham Benstead wearing a top with two technical sponsors – one of which (right) is still available on the internet based auction site should anybody be looking to pick up historical curio –  but the infamous ‘smudge shirt’ , along with the newspaper clipping from the time which ran the subsequent story.

Those of us of a certain age know what happened. Half-time in a late season game saw Peter Gilham announce that we were about to be shown the aforementioned home shirt. One of the youth team then walked around Griffin Park to a shower of boos as the most untraditional of kits was unveiled before our eyes. At least, those are the details I remember.

The article cast a little more detail on events. There were apparently not one but two kids modelling the kit (Lee Tunnell and club hero Michael Dobson) and it was the York City game. When cross referred with other sources, that turned out to have been played in February – I’d have bet on it being April. Probably the first, in retrospect. So this detail was shared on Twitter. 

Being day four of a long bank holiday and not much to do after Martin Allen had blown all entertainment out of the water on Saturday afternoon, this was a last gasp attempt to kill thirty seconds. Thankfully, it ended up killing an awful lot more as Bees’ fans responded to add detail.

I wasn’t alone in thinking it was later than February whilst the one player / two player conundrum was resolved by the fact that each went in a different direction around the pitch so that only one was on view at a time to each stand. It made no difference to the chorus of boos and chants of “Red and white. Red and white.” Nor did it make any difference to the comments on the feedback form that was also handed out to supporters to give their opinion on the ‘coal smudging’ effect.

The other interesting piece of information confirmed by several supporters being that this was the result of a supporter’s competition to design our kit. What a wonderful idea, in theory, and one I’d love to see happen again. Come on Bob  how about it? (I’ve got dozens – although no brown/orange given the lack of apparent taste in our fan base) .

 One can only imagine what was rejected to go for this. One can only imagine the marketing meeting that not only came up with the selection for the winning design but then chose to launch it in such a fashion. “Listen chaps, I’ve had an idea. Two youth team players. A vandalised kit that’s like nothing we’ve ever worn before. And we spring it on the fans as a surprise…..” More drugs anyone?   

As fellow Kit nerd Luis Adriano noted on Twitter “I wonder how the person who designed the ‘winning’ competition entry must have felt/feels?! To see and hear that reception then know that their design was canned before it was ever worn in a match!

Luis also knocked up his own take on the competition entry. At least, I hope it was his own take and not twenty years of built up frustration finally finding cathartic release.

One thing’s for sure, it never went on sale against Luton Town.

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Luis in no way suffering from Bank Holiday boredom

Nick Bruzon 

Keep smiling. These pictures might help. My favourite images of 2019/20.

29 Mar

God I miss football at the moment. Given just what on earth is going on in the wider world then one needs to have some perspective yet, at the same time, it shouldn’t be a crime to yearn for that which does so much to unite us. Plays such a huge part in our lives. I want to be celebrating another win for Brentford. Seeing if we could do the double over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Keep on avenging the jinx of Middlesbrough. Moaning about our desperate performances on the road – oh, what I’d give for another trip to Luton Town right now (words I never thought would be uttered again after this season’s debacle in the sleet). I’d love to be laughing about Leeds United falling apart. Again. Sadly, something that stopped just as the Coronavirus curse began to take a stronger grip across the globe. Whilst it was always meant in good humour (my cousin’s husband is as staunch a fan as they come), this was just one of the many aspects that make the Championship what it is. Or, for now, was.   

Being able to see Griffin Park from our house makes things even harder. So close yet so far. The gates are locked for good reason but that doesn’t make it any easier. What I would also say is that community morale seems quite wonderful. People still looking out for one another whilst Social Media continues to deliver a lot more positivity these days.

One such tweet yesterday sent me down the internet wormhole of football imagery. Namely, the words:

If you are a football person please join the challenge of posting a football photo. Just one picture, no description. Please copy the text in your status, post a picture and look at some great memories/pictures. 

The plus point to all this was that it brought some quite incredible pictures to the fore. Without using a traditional hashtag it really was a quite random collection of images. And also a lot of American ‘football’ (catch ball rather than soccer). Oh well, you can’t have everything and it certainly helped while away the first Saturday of lockdown. No bad thing either as, at least, there’s been the distraction of work and my half-arsed attempts at being a teacher to eat up Monday-Fridays. Those guys deserve a medal, that’s for sure 🙂

Now it was a full 48 hours in each other’s company and only a short exercise break / trip to the shops for essential supplies permitted. To be fair, H and Mrs. B were both in great form considering all that was going on. Yours truly shared a previously untold story from the personal vaults regarding the Bees, Stoke City and our ill-fated journey back from the 2002 play-off final. It’s here if you would like to read it and, if nothing else, may help pass few minutes whilst also explaining why some of you may have had a somewhat elongated journey home that night.

But that aforementioned tweet inspired me to have a look back through my own photo gallery. Specifically for this season although given what we’ve got ahead of us, expect a broader retrospective in the coming days. I thought it might be nice to share my favourite images of the campaign so far. Some of which regular readers may have seen before ; others which are new. This is not for any egotistical reasons – they aren’t great pictures, taken mainly on a mobile phone or small digital camera. Mark Fuller, I ain’t.

No, it’s more to remember the good times. To see the smiles of the Brentford family and even our visitors at times – Stuart Dallas, still got it. To know that we will have all of this again. Hopefully even at Griffin Park.

Enjoy….. 

The first two are why we are all currently sitting at home. Like the rest of the UK, Griffin Park is on lockdown. Here’s the New Road and then the Ealing Road view. 

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New Road – the gates are firmly closed

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Our iconic floodlights – currently behind closed doors

And with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s look back at what’s gone before. In no particular order  – perhaps with the exception of the last few.

I’ll apologise in advance for having a few of HB in there. It it’s any consolation, he’s probably missing football more than me. The last few seasons have really seen it click and he just loves everything Brentford. Especially Sam Saunders. Many are the mid-game chats we have about free kicks and dead balls, despite the main man no longer being on the playing staff. Such is his reputation, SS7 still features prominently in our match day routine. 

Daddy? Is THIS Saunders territory?” asks HB just about every game. Nice work, Sam.

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Did we all get the memo about hands on hips?

Next up, Bryan Mbeumo. What a signing. What a demonstration, as if further were needed, of the Brentford recruitment model.

Another high class vehicle to roll off the Griffin Park production line. Almost some sort of BMW, if you will. This was an early season demonstration of his potential when Hull City were the visitors for a 1-1 draw.

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This Mbeumo chap looks like he might have a turn of pace to him

Ah, Stuart Dallas. He can do no wrong in my book. ‘That’ goal against Fulham has earned him a place in Griffin Park folklore.  As was proven when Leeds united were the visitors for our attempt to overtake them and hit the top two on February 11th (how far away does that seem now?).

During one injury break, Stuart not only stopped for a chat but even posed for a photo. Can’t imagine the same scenario playing our with Martin Rowlands. The close proximity of the stands to the pitch allowing for this moment. 

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Work that smile, Stuart

It’s not all sunshine. Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County came to Griffin Park at the end of August for our first home win of the campaign. A 3-1 win in torrential conditions saw the early season dissenters silenced.

To think there were people calling for Thomas Frank’s head prior to this…!!!

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Raining goals at Griffin Park

Ahh, Thomas Frank. If ever a manager epitomised the family bond that we have at Brentford it is Thomas. Passionate, friendly, embracing and always willing to talk to supporters he suns up just what we are about as a club more than anyone I’ve seen before.

The post match laps of appreciation are punctuated by selfies and smiles. Thomas pulling his trademark ‘Fonzie’, usually accompanied by that broad grin of his. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

There are quite a few in here of Saïd. I don’t know if it’s in the sub-conscious or just something that sums up his approach to football. Like Thomas, he can’t do enough to endear himself to the fans – on and off pitch.

This one was against Millwall. That incredible turnaround from 0-2 down on 84 minutes  to ending the game as 3-2 winners. again, the proximity of our seats t the touchline helping capture the moment that third goal went in. I think it was the third, anyway… 

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

This next one was very early in the season. I forget who but when Harry asked Saïd for a selfie, our man went one better.

Goose bumps right now just looking at the one and thinking about how amazing he was with HB. Thank you, Saïd.

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Said – ever popular with the fans

Yet if one player was Harry’s hero then it can only be Sergi. Shirts have Canos 7 on the back and even though injured, HB is still all ‘Sergi this. Sergi that‘.

So imagine when even though injured, he still took a half-stroll around the Braemar Road forecourt. What a man. 

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This following comes from the last time we were all together at Griffin Park. The 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month. The man in charge was our one time nemesis, Keith Stroud. 

Whilst we’ve certainly had our moments, it would be fear to say that he has always taken it on the chin and more than ‘plays along’ – at least, before kick off. This one was taken from his pre-match ‘Mr.Motivator’ style warm up routine (thankfully, without the lycra) where Keith did Dallas i.e. posed for a picture.

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nothing says mascots like Buzz and Buzzette. Nothing says Christmas like Buzz and Buzzette in their Santa hats.

No other words needed.

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Another entry form the big book of Benrahama. QPR away.

The penalty kick awarded just after our hosts had levelled things up saw big balls of steel from the Algerian goal machine. It was about as precision a kick as one could have hoped for. What a finish. What a celebration .

This is the view from the away stand upper. Limbs (whenever they are) followed immediately after.

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Back of the net…!!!

Saïd again. Sorry. Middlesbrough (home) in February. Another 3-2 win for The Bees. Another opportunity to share that unique bond between fans and players in the post match celebrations.

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

David Raya has been one of the stars of the season. Brentford laying any goalkeeping wobbles to rest as we have gone on to become the tightest defence in the division.

This one was taken during the good part of the visit to Luton Town. The part before kick-off.

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David Raya – almost grabbed the equaliser (not a typo).

FA Cup action. Leicester City were the visitors and the winners. But we gave it our very best. Here, Brentford attack once more in an action packed second half. The New Road terrace packed. 

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At least we can concentrate on the league

Birmingham City away. A game played out in horrific conditions but one where we were all there. Including one of Brentford’s most recognisable supporters – by sound as much as sight – Simon ‘Harry Potter’ Hoyle.

Like Jumper Man, Push up Brentford Man, The Phantom trumper of Ealing Road et al, Simon is iconic. 

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Another one from the Millwall game. Got to love that Bryan celebration. Got to love that team spirit.

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Happier times

Bus stop in Hounslow. We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.

Like pub team, tinpot, little old Brentford etc etc, this mantra has quickly been turned from jeer into catchphrase. And we love it .

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

When words collide. This one a look of mutual respect and confusion, taken from the Kurupt FM takeover of Griffin Park back in October.

Whilst the game was against Bristol City, all the talk was about our very special guests.

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Add your own punchline

This season was always going to be different when we signed Pontus Jansson from Leeds United over the summer. It was a transfer that was completely against our model. For one thing, we’d actually heard of him!

What a player. What an inspiration. What passion and confidence. What a way to bind the defence and drive the Bees forward. The difference between a team with Pontus and without him, clear for all to see.

Here’s hoping he gets the chance to finish the promotion dream with Brentford.

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

And if you needed to see what it means to him then here’s one of my very favourites. Oh, that bond between the players. That ecstasy from the supporters. That mutual celebration of, another, goal. Pontus busting every sinew in celebration.

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Ok – into the top five. They probably sum up the Brentford experience for me this season. Forgive the personal nature. Forgive the self-indulgence given the family connection. But, then again, we are a family, and nowhere moreso than in this first one.

It’s not a well taken picture in terms of framing or capturing H. But this is him and Alex Austin celebrating against Middlesbrough. The look says it all.

We love Alex and his family. The advice offered to the officials makes the game even more fun than it already is. The bond that has grown up across the gangway that divides our seats part of what makes Griffin Park so special to us. All that will change at Lionel Road but I’m desperate for us to all to be given the chance for one last game (at the very least) to celebrate this current chapter coming to a close.

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Number 4. HB enjoying football. At this moment all I can see is tremendous joy and its making me very sad. Purely because of everything that is happening outside the front door. It’s also making me feel amazingly proud and even happier to see a look on his face that he’s not had for a few weeks now.

Brentford did this. THANK YOU.

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At number three, another goal celebration. Another from Middlesbrough and one that is a bit blurry.

But it’s the expression from Ollie to the crowd as the players all pile on. The fans reaching back to him. The mutual adoration. A moment that nothing could get in the way of. One of my personal favourite Griffin Park moments this season.

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Number two, Mr. Brentford. Peter Gilham. If ever you could hear a photo, then here it is.

Brrrrreenttttt-forrrddddddddddddd.

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We talked about Thomas earlier. About his approach to the game and to supporters.

THIS is why we love him. Listening to Harry giving him advice. Talking back to him as though there it was the most important thing in his world right then. Delaying his own return to the dressing rooms to celebrate with the players – supporters come first.

It’s just how we do things in Brentford.

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Nick Bruzon

Will Lewis celebrate like he’s won The #UltimateQuaranTeamCup ?

25 Mar

Unusual times (must. avoid. use of unprecedented) call for unusual measures. Football is off the agenda for now with no end in sight. The Euros and the Olympics have both been put back by a year and unless people listen to the lockdown messages, one can only see things on the health front getting worse for the foreseeable. Those are the facts of life at the moment. Yet it doesn’t mean we can’t get our Brentford fix. Even if it is against less traditional opponents such as St. Mirren, Finn Harps and QPR. And it’s all thanks to Leyton Orient who are doing their bit to keep football going with their online video game tournament – The #UltimateQuaranTeamCup.

Whilst appreciating we’re a few days late to this party on these pages (well, the weekend trip to the hospital has been a bit of a distraction), it is something that has proven to be compellingly addictive. E-sports are the next best thing at the moment and with supporter Lewis Frampton representing Brentford in the 128 team knockout competition  – played out on FIFA 20 for the PS4 – the Bees are already through to the second round.

An epic opening fixture against St. Mirren went to replay after replay before the Bees finally progressed with a 6-2 victory. I was glued to this one  – amongst two thousand fans watching the opening round unfold – and we’ll now play League of Ireland side Finn Harps in the round of 64 (happy, FIFA? ) tonight. I believe kick off is at 7pm, on ‘Twitch’ (whatever that is) but the streaming does work fine and can be accessed through Twitter. 

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I presume the club, who have fully thrown their weight behind this one, will also have a link. They’ve conducted press conferences with Lewis, run a match report whilst even Peter Gilham got involved last night as Lewis prepared to play some ‘friendly’ games against the team from Shepherds Bush . If such a fixture can ever be described as ‘friendly’.

Good to see some things never change for Peter 

Fair play to Leyton Orient who have organised and co-ordinated the tournament. ASwell as already raising £55,000 on their JustGiving page it is providing some very welcome and much needed relief at the moment. Lewis is doing Brentford proud and I can’t wait for the next game. The EFL may be on indefinite hold (although at least we know it will be played out – at some point) but until then, Lewis is our B,M and W rolled in to one. FIFA 20 our chance to keep football alive – no matter how unorthodox the competition. You can find out more by following the Bees, Leyton Orient or Lewis on Twitter. Likewise, there’s always the hashtag #UltimateQuaranTeamCup.

The reason we’re having to do this is evident to all – the C word. And, for once, not one of the usual suspects. Urghh, Coronavirus. We spoke about the amazing work being undertaken by the NHS last time out following our own (unrelated) trip to the hospital. Harry is in great form now and fully back to his usual self. He even brought back the (unsused) sick bucket he’d been given telling me afterwards that it may come in handy as “It holds a thousand mils of vomit”. Good news indeed.

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I really don’t want to see this filled

Looking at Brentford official this morning, I saw their own NHS related story. Namely, an appeal to help West Middlesex hospital as the ongoing challenge takes hold. The hospital are looking for people to donate to CW+ , the official charity of their NHS Foundation Trust . They’ve set up a  dedicated Rapid Response Fund to support staff and patients and are asking for any help whatsoever to back this. Primarily to assist in the provision of new equipment, new technology and most important of all, giving some extra support to those staff on the frontline .

Things are a tough at the moment. No question. Yet having seen first hand the amazing work being done at West id in the most challenging circumstances, I can’t back this enough. Every penny counts. Please do get behind this if you can. The full story is here or you can jump to their page via this link. Thank you.

It’s not just Brentford doing good deeds. My good friends at Beesotted are doing there own bit to help the Hounslow food banks. They are offering a free copy of the Brentford Cult Bees and Legends book to anybody who is able to help out those who probably need support even more than ever at present by making a donation. Again, the link to their story is here.

Life is strange at the moment. No question. For crying out loud, we’re getting excited by an online game of FIFA. We’ve also missed the chance for Brian Guest to represent Fulham – curses !!

Yet to see how people are looking out for each other, and continue to do so, is immense. With everyone from the NHS to our fans doing their thing to help friends and strangers, it has put a huge smile on my face this morning. As noted the other day, I’ve had some low points over the last couple of weeks. I’m guessing we all have. Keep talking. Keep in contact. Keep looking out for each other. Keep smiling as much as you can.

Until then, it’s simply a case of saying good luck to Lewis. I can’t wait for this one.

See you there, on line…

Nick Bruzon

Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once.

8 Feb

Thank you Birmingham City. Urghh. Said it. Get the mouthwash. But needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle. There were more than a few smiles from the Brentford faithful last night as our old boys pulled off the mother of all shocks and comebacks in their 3-1 win at Bristol City. With it, the Robins miss out on overtaking us and The Bees stay fifth in the table going in to this afternoon’s crunch game with Middlesbrough. The prize for victory will be the well documented further closing of the ever narrowing gap to Leeds United and West Brom in the ‘automatic’ slots. 

Screenshot 2020-02-08 at 06.17.18Ok – we all know that Leeds are coming to Griffin Park on Tuesday night. We’ve all joked about their falling apart (again) many, many times. And rightly so. They are and that’s brilliant. Chuck in the Pontus factor and it’s understandable we’ve all got more than half an eye on that one. It has been a date highlighted in my calendar for a long, long time. As much for family reasons (Hi, Julian – guess who I’ve got a spare ticket for…) as much as anything else.

Yet to overly look ahead of ourselves is a disaster waiting to happen. We’ve got Middlesbrough first and that’s huge. A hurdle of gargantuan proportions for the Bees to try and clear. To give anything but 100% focus to the here and now is a fall waiting to happen.

We all know past form has seen them somewhat of a bogey team. Nobody needs any reminder of that or further regurgitation of yesterday’s column. Forget previous results. Forget the trashing of Hull City last time out. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day….And I’m feeling good. As somebody once sang.

But it’s true. The past – whether immediate or historic – counts for naff all when the teams are read out and run on to the pitch. Wins won’t get themselves based on what has gone before. Based on just turning up. It’s all about the here and now. About getting ourselves as loud as we can to turn Griffin Park into the cauldron of noise that lifts the players to the next level.

Cheesy? Cliched? Perhaps. But also true. Peter Gilham has gone on record many times to share the feedback, direct from the squad, as to what a lift it gives them when the stadium is rocking. If anybody knows, he does. If anyone embodies that explosion of supporter noise, it is him. 

We have cited Peter on these pages a lot. Perhaps more than ever this season. But if anybody has seen us through good times and bad then he’s the one. He is Brentford through and through. We all know he’s been our man-with-the-mic for over 50 years and has as deep a love for the club now as he did way back then.

And whilst we may be going off tangent (it’s just how the words fall out when ad-libbing this column), we are now as close to the finish line of a half-century long marathon as ever before. The ribbon is in sight and should we crash through it into the Premier League, then he will no doubt celebrate more than anybody.

But there’ll be no crashing through ribbons without picking up the points. Without cashing in on favours such as the one performed by Birmingham City last night. We’ll no doubt look to give them some extra special thanks next weekend.

A marvellous opportunity awaits when Middlesbrough visit. Like Simon the Internet obsessed / cyber stalker (delete as applicable) from the BT flatmate adverts back in the day, we’re ‘reeling one in’. And another. And another. And another.

BT flatmates

The BT flatmates – currently in the ‘where are they now?’ file. Or jail.

The play-off race sees us sitting in one of the hotspots whilst the ongoing ability of The Baggies and the Whites to press ‘self-destruct’ rather than emulate Liverpool in the top flight, means that the top positions are a prize very much in contention for whomever can now hit accelerate. Thankfully, we’re driving a BMW. Hopefully our rivals will stay stuck in reverse and we’ll soon be in automatic. 

Whatever has happened to get us to this place has been and gone. We can only play the situation and that starts with Middlesbrough. Today.  Griffin Park is a sellout. We can’t kick the balls but we can raise the roof. That could prove to be a priceless asset.

Ok – that’s me. Apologies. We’ve been a bit rambling and a bit nothing today. But sometimes, its just about trying to prep yourself for the big one. And that’s at 3pm. As Peter says, “Come onnnn. BRENNNTTTTTFORRRRDDDDDDDD !!!!

I can’t wait for this. I can’t wait to hear that. See you there.

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Here’s to some more of this

Nick Bruzon

Brentford ruthless. QPR hopeless. Pressure building on top two.

12 Jan

That was just about the perfect day of football. Brentford obliterated QPR with a pedal to the metal first half performance that saw our visitors blown away and leaving Griffin Park for the last time on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. PaddyHoops. John Storm. Mike O’Callaghan. Pete Doherty – your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was quite wonderful. Moreso with Leeds United falling apart (again) and West Bromwich Albion being held at Charlton Athletic. With the pressure on the top two building further, The Bees have halved that previous 12 point gap to a mere 6.

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Players and fans celebrate – Pontus loving it

But before table talk and our rivals, let’s cut to the chase of the game at Griffin Park. Brentford were simply magnificent. The first half especially where the much talked about BMW of Benrahma, Mbeumo and Watkins all scored over the course of a blistering 15 minute spell in that opening period. QPR weren’t even close to coming second, such was the one way traffic and relentlessness of our approach. With fans knowing what this one meant, and Peter Gilham in fine voice, the goals started to flow.

First up, B. Saïd sweeping home a Jensen free kick to make it 1-0. The ball was played low into the box, Benrahma lost his man and hit it first time from just in front of the penalty spot to the bottom corner. The crowd exploded as one. Broad smiles across the faces of the players. Pontus fist pumping and screaming for all his worth. What a moment. Whatever pressure might have been on us was released in an instant.

Next, M. A woeful clearance from the QPR keeper found man of the match Christian Nørgaard. He hoisted it up to Mbeumo whose reading of the high ball into the box as he ran was exquisite, watching it from before reaching a telescopic leg around the chasing defender and making the perfect connection. 2-0 and the ground went bonkers. Peter set to blow, which he did just a few minutes later.

With the Bees continuing to push it was the turn of W, Ollie Watkins. His header coming off the end of another free kick move as Ethan Pinnock guided the ball across the face of goal. “That’s the B…M…W…” exhorted Peter over the p.a. system. Ollie making it quite clear the goal, his 18th of the season, was being given to him ! It sees him top of the Championship charts, level with Aleksandar Mitrovic who was stretched off yesterday.

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The BMW…

This was the stuff of dreams. And it could have been more. Watkins denied a stonewall penalty early doors as he was bundled over when clear through. Immediate talk in the stands and on social media was that this seemed an outrageous decision. It was something borne out by the Sky cameras and the crowd were quick to let the Braemar Road linesman know. “You should check your VCR” suggested one. Alex to our right was much more vocal. His observation thatYou know they’re slagging you off all over Sky  drawing huge laughs of appreciation. 

It was just about as exhilarating a half as one could have hoped for. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin sitting up in the director’s box, watching his team torn apart. They came back into it, slightly, in the second half with Nakhi Wells pulling one back but it was nothing more than a consolation. The visitor’s industrial approach endangering our players and angering the fans although not sufficiently to dampen the mood. The cheers at full time worthy of the occasion. The celebrations from the players matching those in the stands.

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Plenty to mull over at 3-0 down

Brentford were ruthless. QPR hopeless. It could, probably should, have been more. As one Braemar Road observer noted, “Imagine Peter if he had to announce Dasilva BMW”. Instead, we took our foot off the gas and coasted over the line. That said, the single most importune thing was getting the win. There’s not a single person amongst us who wouldn’t have taken three points and a 3-1 if offered up front. Winning the last ever West London derby at Griffin Park was an absolute must – and the boys more than met the challenge.

I’d imagine this will get a few plays…

Then, when the afternoon couldn’t get any better, it did. And how! Charlton managing not one but two equalisers as West Bromwich Albion were held at The Valley. Then Leeds United did what only Leeds United can. They fell apart. This time, Sheffield Wednesday their conquerors with two very late goals at Elland Road – their only two shots all game  – to leave the home side pointless. The gap to the top two continuing to shrink as the current form over the last 7(seven) league games  reads – West Brom : 1  Leeds United : 2   Brentford : 5.

That’s the exciting part. It all counts for nothing on the ‘automatic’ front should Leeds and West Brom both start winning again. That said, we’re now five points clear of seventh place ourself. There was a time not so long ago that just three points separated close to a dozen teams in and around that play-off zone. Now we’re starting to see some clear air. Now is the time to really push on.

The euphoria of beating our neighbours was about as exciting as it gets. Even official got in on the act with just about the best tweet they’ve ever shared…

On a personal note, H was the mascot and had a cracking afternoon. The club, as ever, pulling out all the stops for our young fans. It was just about the cherry on the cake of a wonderful day in and around Griffin Park.

There aren’t many of these to go – let’s make them all count.

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London Pride

Nick Bruzon

Welcome to Brentford 2.0

7 Jan

With all the Brentford related on-pitch buzz at present being about the visits of Leicester City and the 237 derby (FA Cup and Championship, respectively), there’s something even bigger happening off it. No – not the transfer window. Move along, nothing to see there. Fact. 

Of course, Monday saw the club launch their latest caption competition (one can hope) as Peter Gilham was pictured wearing a VR headset for his own personal game of Lionel Road simulator (one can hope).  The reason being that the ‘regular’ season tickets for our new home have now gone on sale and, it has to be said, that having been along to the reservations centre myself this morning things are incredibly slick. The whole process was ludicrously easy, hands on and engaging. Being honest, I’d feared the worst when my appointment as our group ‘representative’ was confirmed. The phrase ’It’s Brentford, innit’ lives long in the mind. Reputations take an age to build and a moment to destroy. 

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Virtual Reality. Whatever that is

Instead, we got Brentford 2.0.  The biggest sales pitch of our communal lives has just kicked off but the whole team seem intent on making this as user friendly as possible.  

Current seating is being replicated as closely as possible. Groups are being organised. Phone calls made in advance to remind us of the pertinent additional info to bring – namely, photo ID for the U-16s / seniors. I still forgot but was saved by the joy of tech. The club and sales team at great lengths to make the whole experience as painless and simple a process as possible. 

If anything, this is a wonderful opportunity for displaced friends to reorganise themselves and finally get a chance to sit together after years of being split up, save for the 15 minute beer run at half time. It is an opportunity the club seem hell bent on grabbing. The Ealing Road becoming the West Stand. Groups of singers put together. A chance to really build an atmosphere that replicates what we have at present. Then cranks it up to 11. 

I even got my hands on Peter’s VR head set to check out the view from my prospective new vantage point. That looks good. Very good. Sadly, there was no smell-o-vision option to see if the phantom trumper from Ealing Road would be in close proximity. Or, should that be trumpers? Rumour has it they are Balti fuelled brothers. Instead, we’ll just wish good luck to those in the West Stand…..

Me waxing lyrical isn’t going to impact your decision to buy a season ticket. That’s not the agenda here. I don’t have one, anyway. I’m not employed by the club and am nothing more than a fan who clogs up your timeline with a pile of crumby observations and the odd photo. Yet this is a key moment in our rapidly evolving history and one which I cannot believe has been undertaken so seamlessly. 

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Let the seat sales commence

I WAS stressed up front and won’t pretend otherwise. This is a crunch decision. A massive moment. The opportunity to cock it up, huge. There’s no stadium to walk around yet (at least, not which we are allowed in to) and so we really are relying on good faith and computer simulation. Walking past the site on a daily basis I’m still amazed that we’ve been able to fit our new home into what seemed a tiny plot of land.

Yet, yet, yet… so far, so very, very good. It is there. It is happening. Judging by the seat maps on display we’ve plenty of choice of where to sit. Going on the intent to match current views at Griffin Park as much as possible at Lionel Road, the club’s aim is clearly 110% about accommodating supporters. Keeping us happy.  The team are informed, on board and they get it. They get that this is as huge for us as it is for them. 

There’s not much else to say beyond the fact that if you want to get in, you will. If you want to see Brentford, you will. There will be no pillars on the way. No TV gantries blocking the view. Nothing to hinder your enjoyment. 

Roll on August. Roll on our first game. What price that being in the Premier League?     

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Finally – a ‘signing’ photo. No half chewed biro though

Nick Bruzon

Thomas’ #trophyfriends reach FA Cup fourth round (feat. ball details)

5 Jan

Well that ended up being a lot of fun. Brentford are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup. A 1-0 victory over Stoke City sufficient to ensure the side, made up largely of B-team players, go into the hat for the draw on Monday night. The Bees will be number 26 when the ties are picked on Monday night at the Emirates, ahead of the Arsenal – Leeds United match. That’s to come. For now, a chance to reflect on a much anticipated team selection and how well they did. With the added bonus of Keith Stroud in the middle, this one really could have gone any way. Ultimately though, it went ours.

Brentford Stoke FA Cup third round

Could this have been our last Griffin Park Cup tie?

Ethan Pinnock was the only current first-team starter to begin this one, albeit Joel Valencia, Emiliano Marcondes, Jan Zamburek and a long awaited debut for Halil Dervişoğlu were among the more familiar names. Plus, of course, captain for the day Luke Daniels in goal. Prior to the game, the news of his own contract extension had announced with Thomas Frank ebullient in his praise. He talked in length, nothing how amongst other things that “One of the reasons that David (Raya) has had such a good season is the way that Luke both tests him and helps him in training and on match days”. You can read that one in full on ‘official’.

As for the game itself, whilst the second half was free-flowing and exciting stuff, the first period was one played out in a subdued atmosphere and which, perhaps, could be described as ‘slow’. There was little real action as players adjusted to the system and to each other. The goal coming just before half time with Marcondes finding the top corner from a free kick out near the Braemar Road touchline. It really was a delightful finish from a cross delivered so precisely that when nobody got there, the back of the net was the only possible destination.

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Dare we say it….. #trophyfriends

It was due reward for a player whose Griffin Park career has not had the 100 mph start so anticipated by many, given the wave of potential he arrived on. Injury and loan have denied us the chance to see him in regular action whilst the social media criticism directed his way can only have added to the expectation levels. Yet he played quite superbly in a box to box role, starting deep but breaking forward time and again. Certainly, a wonderful addition to the bench and beyond there, who knows? As we enter the second half of the season and a promotion push, how nice for Thomas to have additional options ! 

And with that, subtle as a brick, enter stage left… Halil Dervişoğlu . Finally, we got our first look at the Turkish U-21. This most protracted of moves, with deal having been agreed months ago, finally came to fruition. First impressions were more than positive. Nice touches and good movement. He didn’t get the goal , this time, but more than looks as though he’s in the Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay camp rather than being the next Nick Proschwitz or Betinho. You can absolutely expect him to be on the bench come the visit of QPR on Saturday. Or rather, as Peter Gilham reminded us, “The team from Shepherds Bush. 

This was a good day, make no mistake. We’re in the hat for the fourth round. Ethan Pinnock impressed, yet again, whilst the B-team has proven just what it is there for. It is something we have already seen with Jan Zamburek making first team appearances form the bench and another run out for Mads Roerslev after he stood in for Henrik at Bristol City. The players looked more and more comfortable as the game progressed with Dru Yearwood almost doubling the lead following a fine run through the heart of the Stoke City defence. A move which began with former Bee Ryan Woods in control but then, somehow, tackling Mr. Stroud before losing both the ball and his own momentum.

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Thanks, Keith (not a typo)

All of which means we’re going to have to watch the Arsenal – Leeds United match on Monday evening. Or, at least, the build up to it. Coverage starts at 7.11pm on the @EmiratesFACup Twitter channel (although presumably The One Show will also have it. Urghh….) with the draw itself due to begin at around 7.35pm. However you follow it and wherever you find it, be sure that this one is going to be exciting. At least, until we get drawn away to Carlisle or Cardiff. Until then, we can dream of a home tie with 32 (Birmingham City), 3 (Fulham) or 18 (Manchester City). I reckon they might bring Gary Blissett out for that one ! 

The full numbers and teams are available on the FA website – enjoy. 

Bliss Manchester City

Get dreaming tonight

Nick Bruzon

Frank is sense. Christmas gifts see Bees go third.

27 Dec

What an afternoon. Brentford ended the day sitting third in the Championship after Swansea City were the latest to be on the receiving end of a Griffin Park trouncing. A brace from Ollie Watkins and another goal for Bryan Mbeumo putting this one out of sight, despite a tired second half flurry from the visitors. With Leeds United falling apart (again), the gap to ‘automatic’ is now down to single figures – 8 points being the difference. Even then, they needed an 89th minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to rescue a point at home to Preston. With West Bromwich Albion (Barnsley) and Fulham (Luton) both drawing against the divisional whipping boys and Sheffield Wednesday going down to Stoke City, our rivals for the top spots formed an orderly queue to take their turn of delivering The Bees a Christmas gift. Specifically that of doing us a favour. The thought of our trip to Millwall on Sunday has suddenly become very appealing (not a typo).

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Thomas enjoys the moment at Full Time

You’ve all seen the action, presumably. Either as part of a packed Griffin Park or c/o the Sky coverage that meant our game went out live to the nation yesterday. At least, the part that doesn’t want their live action left in a recycling box or sitting on the doorstep. Otherwise, the official highlights are further below. Mbeumo opened proceedings early on. Guiding home a corner that had been headed back across the face of goal by an unmarked Ethan Pinnock. The big man, who had retained his place alongside the returning Pontus Jansson, doing magnificently to make the room and plop it straight on to Bryan’s head.

Twenty minutes gone and 1-0 up. There was barely time for anybody taking a toilet break to get back to their seats before the lead was double. None other than Ollie Watkins. The striker, and that’s what he is, grabbing a true poacher’s goal as he stuck out a leg to steer a Rico Henry cross past the despairing Freddy Woodman in the away goal. 2-0 and, surely, that was it?

Well, yes. Although being Brentford we had a little moment just after the hour when David Raya was unable to smother a shot from Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew was closest to the loose ball. Urghh. With that, the Swans got their tails up. But rather than breaking Brentford’s arm with their wing men, it was the Bees who broke their spirits. The pressure was, as ever, contained and Ollie Watkins wrapped things up. Sprinting clear, he charged down on the goal to make things safe as we headed towards injury time. There was to be no sweating on the result. No clenched buttocks. No last minute stress. The final whistle a perfunctory noise greeted with ecstasy rather than relief. And that was before we checked ‘other results’.

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The Bees were dominant

Honestly, one can’t even begin to describe the mood around the place at present. EVERYBODY has faith. Has confidence. The players are calm under pressure and exhilarating on the ball. The fans lapping it up. Peter Gilham losing his shit on the public address system. Each announcement becoming more and more enthused.

The piece about him in The Guardian yesterday described how he was offered a script but refused it. Thank goodness. We all know how incredible he is but to hear his joy transmit to the fans and the players is all a part of what is helping make our success. Even at half time, he stood there with mic in hand, not even lifting it to his lips until he had clapped everybody off and into the changing room. You may not have noticed this in the rush for the beer queue and the ablutions block but I stood and watched. What a man. The beating heart of our club.

But then, what a team. Matthew Benham’s genius and Thomas Frank’s approach have delivered up a squad that is the envy of all. A team built on a metaphorical shoe string (relatively), with a makeshift centre forward, that continue to defy expectation. At least, of those looking in. We’ve seen this coming for years. The diamonds unearthed and sold on. Their replacements being even better than before. The momentum building. The confidence high. 

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Safe to say that this performance was well received

Yet this feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. Even under the continuing highs that we’ve been served up over the last ten seasons. Now, I expect to win every game. That’s not arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s a reflection in the ability that this team has. The perfect blend of youth and experience. Unfettered skill allowed to run riot. Wise heads at the back to give guiding advice. Pontus is our big name at the back but don’t overlook Henrik Dalsgaard either. His lungs must be be gargantuan.

Next up Millwall (away) on Sunday. What an opportunity awaits if we can carry on doing what we’ve done so far. Then it’s Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Whilst one doesn’t like to look too far ahead, that game is mentioned more as an incentive (should any, somehow, be needed) for that trip to the New Den. After we run out at Ashton Gate,  West Bromwich Albion host Leeds United. Either way, something has to give.

For now, though, it’s a period of reflection. Of enjoying what was a quite incredible end to 2019 at Griffin Park. There’s the short hop to South-East London on Sunday and with it, the opportunity to carry on this enjoying this fantastic period. I’m sorry, the words are kind of failing me this morning. I’m sitting here with a huge grin on the face at this obscene hour of the day. I’m about to head back to work but the thought of commuting is, for once, not the usual harbinger of doom and gloom that comes with rising at this time of the day. Instead, there’s a big smile and a genuine feeling of well being. That’s down to Peter. To Thomas. To Matthew. To Bryan. To Ollie. To Henrik, Pontus, Josh, Ethan and the rest of the team. 

That’s down to everyone. THANK YOU. See you on Sunday… Until then, here’s the action once more

 

Nick Bruzon