Tag Archives: Peterborough

Happy with the cup draw? A chance for payback awaits.

10 Jan

The FA Cup fourth round draw has been made and Brentford will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It is a draw that immediately evoked memories of the same stage back in 2013 where only a late equaliser from Fernando Torres kept The Blues alive as they forced a replay following a 2-2 at Griffin Park.  That second game was a much more one sided affair as 0-0 at half time turned to 4-0 in favour of a Chelsea side who would eventually make it all the way to the semis before coming unstuck against Manchester City.

Just yesterday morning when writing about the forthcoming draw, it was noted on these pages: Trumping the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland whilst running Southampton and Chelsea more than close. Oh, for a chance to do it once more.

Ask and you shall receive. If only wishes were always granted this easily.

Saunders territory Chelsea

We faced Chelsea back in 2013. 2-2 at Griffin Park

Back then, Chelsea were Champions of Europe although that’s a far cry these days following last season’s failure to even make the Europa League (10th, wasn’t it – so not singing that song for the next few weeks would be nice). That said, nobody could deny they’ve taken the bull by the horns this time around with Antonio Conte at the helm, Diego Costa scoring for fun and their defence a fantasy football manager’s dream. Another clean sheet? Don’t mind if I do.

Brentford, on the other hand, are holding our own in the Championship but consistency is probably still the biggest challenge. With rumours about Scott Hogan’s future circling daily like vultures just waiting to feast on a carcass, could our star man even be wearing the red and white by the time we make the short trip down the road for another West London derby.

Indeed, this must be the first time in some time that we’ve played games against Fulham, QPR and Chelsea all in the same season.Where’s Luis Melville when you need him to dig out the stats on the last time that happened? (Luis, if you are reading…..).

We haven’t got a chance? Or have we? Could that cup magic deliver another wonderful story?

I have no doubt the away end will be sold out. We took 6,000 Back in 2013 and surely similar numbers will travel this time, ticket allocation permitting. Certainly the Bees will inject some atmosphere into what felt very much like a library last time out (watch out for those ‘official flag wavers’) whilst I’m sure David Luiz will warrant special attention.

Nobody at Griffin Park has forgotten what happened to Jake Reeves in the replay as the youngster came out on the wrong end of an assault (won’t dignify it with the word ‘foul’ or ‘challenge’) from the Brazilian.

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That is, of course, if Luiz and the rest of Chelsea’s first team even play in this one. With the FA Cup falling down the pecking order for many of the, so-called, ‘big’ clubs might we see a less familiar line up? Even John Terry played on Sunday against Peterborough (before being promptly red carded).

Likewise, the tie only comes a few days prior to The Blues’ trip to Liverpool for a game with  a team who are currently their closest rivals for the Premier League title. Is it wishful thinking to imagine that could play into our hands? That minds will be focussed more on that than a cup tie with a Brentford team who, on paper, they should win the floor with?

Let’s hope so. As we all know ‘on paper’ counts for nothing in this sort of game. Last time out it took Chelsea over two hours of football before they were finally able to take the lead against the Bees whilst let’s not forget the fourth round 2015. Bradford City, of course, coming from 2-0 down at Stamford Bridge to eventually emerge with an incredible 4-2 victory.

Being honest, the only slight down side to all of this is feeling a little disappointed that we’ve been denied the opportunity to visit a new ground. With all due respect to Chelsea, we’ve been there and done that. Until the Bees are regularly competing in the Premier League (one day, one day) then these sort of games are the only chance we get to mix it with football’s biggest names. Wonderful though another trip to Stamford Bridge will be, the chance to play one of the Manchester teams or even the likes of Arsenal would have been incredible.

Then again, there’s always the fifth round for that.

See you there. I can’t wait.

Nick Bruzon

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Gloves are off as rivalry with Birmingham City resumes

26 Nov

Saturday. Match day. Time to renew one of the more recent, but unlikely, rivalries. For Brentford supporters the likes of Fulham and QPR are, of course, the ones to get the blood pumping when it comes to those ‘must win’ games. Yet for those of us supporting a little longer, Birmingham City have more than given us a run for the money and some high stakes battles over the years.

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

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View from the terrace – Deano and Terry celebrate promotion at Peterborough

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as the Blues just edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the camapign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was The Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

And that then, three seasons ago, something wonderful happened. Brentford returned to what is now the  Championship. With it, a chance to deliver some pay league back. Finally. Yet whilst our own campaigns at this level have seen wonderful finishes of 5th, 9th and the Bees currently five points off the play-offs, Birmingham have been somewhat of a bogey team. A solitary point from our four encounters to date being the best we’ve had to show for it  – that, a 1-1 back in August 2014 .

So which way will it go today? Money where the mouth is – a Brentford win. Gut reaction was to call it 1-1 in a match preview for the Birmingham Mail yesterday but, I’ve been thinking more and more about this. For me, this has the look of a gritty game played out between two sides with rock solid defences. Yet, at the same time, I think it will have goals in it. Three to be precise. With the Bees coming out on top by 2-1. Lasse, Scott and, for the visitors, a certain Mr Donaldson.

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Clayton – a Brentford legend

Yes, the other highlight of today (not counting the free chili in The Hive) is the chance to see Clayton back at Griffin Park.

Always a hugely popular figure, even to this day, he’s a Brentford legend whose goals helped fire us to promotion and earn the chance to take on the likes of Birmingham once more. Of course, there’ll be no pleasantries when action begins (although hopefully fans will show him the respect due) but I’m sure I won’t be alone in feeling a pang of fondness for the big man when he’s out there.

As a final note, a quick follow up to yesterday’s piece in regards to Rainbow Laces weekend. Fans may already be aware of the special match day programme on sale in/around the ground whilst Captain Harlee Dean (who also gives an exclusive on his ‘coming of age’ and life at Griffin Park) has already been photographed with a special armband.

Fans expecting to see him sporting that one on match day may be disappointed. Infact, the rainbow captain’s armband is a promotional item and it is expected that regular versions will be used at the games this weekend.

Indeed, Stonewall have told clubs that they understand that players might not want to change their laces for a game. Instead, players can show and document their support in other ways, such as Harlee did in such wonderful fashion on Thursday.

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Harley Dean shows his support

I can fully get behind that. We all have our match day kit jinxes, rituals and comfort factors – magic pants, lucky shirt, the ragged old scarf from the 70s that all go towards Brentford winning. I was devastated when the lucky ‘spiderman’ undergarments went to that great bin in the sky. For the players, I can only imagine the importance of kit, footwear, boots and laces that they are familiar with is tenfold to that of us on the terrace.

Whichever way they are dressed, here’s hoping for a great game and the right result. It’s been a long time coming. 62 years, to be precise. Looking at the BBC preview this morning I was shocked to see the last time Brentford beat Birmingham in a league fixture at Griffin Park being a 2-0 back in March 1954. Top scorer Frank Dudley adding further to his tally with both goals on that day.

Perhaps time to look to history and revise that bet? 2-0 Brentford with Scott Hogan scoring is 22/1. Then again, the earlier 2-1 /scorers prediction comes in at a very handsome 177/1. On second thoughts, knowing my betting history spare coins will probably better spent on the aforementioned match day programme instead.

I wouldn’t want to jinx the team….

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Nick Bruzon

Is Callum best for the Bees ?

28 Jul

Are Brentford going to announce the loan signing of Leicester City left back Callum Elder today from under the nose of Peterborough ? With Dean Smith having made no secret of his desire to replace Jake Bidwell following our former captain’s departure for QPR, the story is one which has been very widely reported.

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Whilst, ordinarily, the rumour mill is one which has been dismissed on these pages (with the exception of crystal ball wielding Beesotted), this season has seen it offered new found respect. That, following the widely predicted triple transfer swoop which saw the Bees boss snap up Romaine Sawyers, John Egan and Daniel Bentley in recent weeks along. Let’s not forget, also, the much touted departure of Jake.

If this latest story also proves correct it will see a long standing vacancy being filled. Left back has always been a position where cover has been, what we’ll politely call, thin. So much so that last season saw previously unknown Tom Field placed from the (then) Development Squad to make a wonderful debut in the 3-0 humping of Fulham.

Whilst Tom looks like he could be a stunning long term prospect, to heap it all on his young shoulders would be an enormous amount of expectation. Nobody can do it all on their own over an entire season – certainly in the outfield positions – let alone a relative newcomer. As such a new signing in this position has been one of the most widely anticipated moves of the summer.

Callum has yet to make his first team debut at Leicester but is already an Australian U-20 aswell as having featured in 18 games loan at Peterborough last campaign. Indeed, The Posh were hoping to retain Callum this time around but, with the player having signed a new contract at the Premier League Champions, director of football Barry Fry would seem to have had his heart broken.

It’s an exciting move for Brentford if the story plays out. Reading the sources, it certainly sounds accurate. This one has quotes and everything. The only thing missing is the description of Callum as a ‘starlet’. Surely de rigeur for any young international prospect? See : Liverpool starlet Sergi Canos.

Sergi Canos v Reading

The former Bee (and Liverpool starlet) will be plying his trade for Norwich

Lets hope that other Leicester rumour currently being suggested – any potential move of Scott Hogan being treated by all and sundry as rubbish  – is equally accurate.

And finally, if you’d like to read more…. No, not the e-book. Infact, the team at Beesotted have just published the first of their season previews. Featuring the thoughts of several bloggers and podcast contributors , it is a light hearted look at the best and worst of 2015/16 along with our aspirations for 2016/17.

You can read that one here.

Nick Bruzon

How do Bees fare against Monaco, Manchester City and Celtic in the pre-season buzz?

26 Jul

The season is almost here. New kits. New signings. New season tickets now in the post. Brentford, of course, have now unveiled their new strip which, presumably, will see another airing for the home version agasint Peterborough tonight. But we aren’t alone. Celtic took a (double) trip into the bizarre yesterday whilst AS Monaco and Manchester City are amongst those promoting themselves in unique style ahead of the big kick off.

First up, as ever, Brentford. The big talking point from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern was nothing to do with the on pitch matters but more one about the kit. Wonderful though it is, the universal opinion seemed to be that the shirt numbers were somewhat ‘tricky’ to read.

Very retro” was the diplomatic verdict from the Beesplayer team as they discussed this during the first half. Adding, “It’s a good job we know the players”. Was this fair? Will we get used to them? Could the players see a patch having to be added to the reverse? Will the football league change their font? More than likely, we’ll all just have to get used to it. Family time meant Saturday was a game too far but here’s to tonight and seeing the new kit in action, under floodlights. I’m sure it’ll all be fine.

The other thing that has impressed me about the new Brentford shirt was the way the launch was handled. For obvious reason there may be a slight element of bias but using the supporters was a wonderful idea.

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The new kit is available now

But it wasn’t just this. It was the subtle yet classy way we did this. No OTT catchphrases. None of those dreaded hashtags. Just a series of great (player) photos.

The same can’t be said about others. With passage to the third round of the Champion’s League now assured after edging past Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar 3-1 over two legs, Celtic have safely launched their third kit. And it is one born in the history of their European cup triumph of 1967.

#IfYouKnowYourHistory says the launch hashtag. And enough, but it is what the blurb says about the inspiration for a somewhat gaudy colour scheme that really intrigues. Apparently the shirt has been inspired by the colours used on the match ticket for the 1967 final, with the electric pink and black design honouring the ‘Lisbon Lions’ team.

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A historical inspiration – supposedly

It’s tenuous but if true then who am I to argue. It’s just a shame that, in choosing to honour what is probably the biggest moment in the club’s history, Celtic have done so in such appalling fashion. It is a shirt which, in this kit nerd’s opinion, gets a direct pass to the hall of shame.

Social media was awash with commentary, most of it less than favourable. Almost as much for the picture published (which since seems to have been removed), of new signing Kolo Toure. Perhaps he’d been shown the new kit just before the photo was taken?

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Happy to have joined

If Brentford have looked to take a different approach to kit launch this season, we aren’t alone. Over in France, AS Monaco have released a video to help with theirs. Sadly, this isn’t in the same ball park as the infamous Blackburn Rover’s effort  – Birdy’s date – instead being somewhat tasteful and rather innovative .

Virtual Reality – words not heard since the late 80’s and pixel laden video games accompanied by ill-fitting headsets and impossible controls. Well, it’s back (albeit via the medium of YouTube, and has been used on the Monaco kit launch.

With the release of a new kit becoming more and more a ‘big thing’ , one does wonder where this is going to go next. We’ve certainly come a long way since a photo in the programme or our own ‘reveal in the bathroom shop window’.

Monaco breaking new ground

Finally, have you got your new season ticket as yet? With the cards and wallets coming through letter boxes as we speak, it’s another indication of the forthcoming season. This has done nothing but further whet the appetite although I do wonder if it might have been possible to have some variety in design or even for of the year embossed onto the card or holder.

I guess this was for reasons of cost / continuation of design but football fans are, in many cases, completists and collectors. I have drawers full of the things from seasons gone by, as do many others. Being able to look back over them is a hugely sentimental / nostalgic thing for many. If the marketing chaps are reading, perhaps a small ask for next season?

Looking at Manchester City, their ticket has been despatched in a collectors box with pin badge for their new, old crest. Perhaps somewhat outside of our budget range and a tad OTT but, equally, you can’t deny it is a well meaning touch.

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Nick Bruzon

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

21 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

Are these right? Wrong? What are your thoughts?

For me, they are as follows….

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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Here’s hoping tomorrow brings something equally spectacular.

Nick Bruzon

Who will win : Gareth v Charlie? And is there a knock on for Lionel Road?

25 Jun

There was double news out of Griffin Park yesterday. Josh McEachran is alive and (seemingly) well as he launched the club’s 2016/17 training gear whilst Brentford have announced another pre-season friendly. In the Euros , Wales v Northern Ireland is the big one today (although Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal side may argue otherwise as they take on Croatia and Poland begin proceedings against Switzerland).

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Will Cristiano provide the highlights this weekend?

Yesterday was, without a doubt, one of the craziest days I’ve ever lived through. This column isn’t about politics and I don’t intend to overly dwell there now. There is enough great material out there for those wanting to vent their spleen, smack their head in disbelief or celebrate what has been deemed by the ‘out’ camp as, seemingly, ‘taking our country back’ (to the dark ages?).

But I’ll leave you this one observation, given Brentford have our future and Lionel Road intrinsically linked to the housing market. With the redevelopment of Griffin Park and the subsequent apartment blocks to be built alongside the stadium being key, the industry suffered what could politely be called ‘a bad day at the office’ after the results were announced.

Lauren Davidson and Rhiannon Bury, writing in the Telegraph, note in their end of day market review that, “Housebuilders Crest Nicholson, Bellway and Bovis were all in the top ten fallers for the day, dropping more than 24pc, alongside property developers Derwent London and Great Portland Estates, which fell 24.6pc and 22.2pc respectively, as fears about a fall in house prices caused investors to offload their stocks”.

Whatever the other ramifications for the country, from the perspective of a new stadium for Brentford, I do wonder what will happen if this is anything but a short term ‘blip’?  Still that’s a question for cleverer people than me to answer (i.e. just about anybody).

Whilst we still have a home at Griffin Park, we now know that another preseason friendly has been announced. Peterborough United being the visitors on 26 July. All being well it’ll be a chance to see the new kit in action for the first time and enjoy an evening in the sunshine. Besides, when the alternative is Holby City then evening fixtures can’t come around quick enough.

And although we are yet to see that new kit (the simultaneous launch date remaining July 23, unless somebody tells me differently) we’ve now been shown the club’s range of training gear. And there’s a hashtag, too….

Whilst it seems a more Adidas-centric one than something club inspired, this season #FirstNeverFollows. Apparently. Here’s hoping there are 23 other clubs following us when we wrap things up against Blackburn in May.

As for the gear, well it’s now on sale and looking good. Can we read anything into the ‘full kit’ from the fact that the famous ‘three stripes’ are now running down the side of the body rather than over the arms? Certainly its a look that other Adidas dressed clubs (especially in the MLS) have been sporting.

Likewise, it’s great to see Josh back. What a horrendous first season he had with double long term injuries sandwiching a tricky time on the pitch. Fingers crossed that, as with the incredible return of Scott Hogan at the end of 2015/16, Josh is now able to push on and, erm, go again.

Moving back to Europe once more, today sees the last 16 begin with 6 teams vying for a quarter final spot. As noted at the top end of the column, Wales v Northern Ireland is the game that will likely have most of us gripped. For some, the battle to see whether Gareth Bale and the other 10 can stop Charlie Lawson launching into another celebratory routine. I’m still terrified by ‘Big Jim’s’ farmhouse kitchen soliloquy whilst sipping on the Black Bush. For that reason alone I’d love to see how he tops it this time around.

For others, of course, we have the Brentford connection in the Northern Ireland camp. Stuart Dallas , Niall McGinn and Will Grigg’s on the bench/ fire (delete as applicable). Will these old boys prove the club wrong? Can they line up a quarter final shot at the winner of the Hungary / Belgium game? Or will Gareth Bale keep up his hot streak of 3 goals from 3 games.

Whoever wins through, across the first 7(seven) games, by the time England wrap up proceedings on Monday night in ‘game 8’ v Iceland, we’ll all be set for another exciting 2 weeks in Europe. I can’t call any of the winners. I’m not even going to bother trying.

Instead why not just switch off from the stress, grab a beer, sit back on the sofa and enjoy a weekend of sporting action. If this morning is anything to go by, Charlie is already getting in the mood.

You can check out his latest, pre game video, here.

Brilliant …..

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How would Charlie celebrate a win over Wales?

Nick Bruzon 

From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

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

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

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

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

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All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

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

Gary Blissett – cult hero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

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

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

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

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

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

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Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Bruzon

Sheer Bliss for Scott

1 Mar

It’s all about the teams south of the river today. With Brentford due to host Charlton Athletic on Saturday, Peter Gilham has been in touch with several supporter groups in regards to a special tribute in that game. Yesterday, meanwhile, Crystal Palace were the visitors for a development squad game that was noteworthy for the long awaited return of striker Scott Hogan. And we have news of a Brentford legend….

But we can only start with Scott Hogan. Nobody needs any reminding of the 18 months he has had on the sidelines, following the horrendous injury (and subsequent recurrence) suffered against Rotherham United early last season. Yet, finally, after what must have seen an interminable wait for the player, he was back in competitive action as Crystal Palace came to town.

And in a script writer’s dream, it took just 7(seven) minutes for Scott to show the Griffin Park faithful what they’ve been missing out on with the striker putting away the opening goal in a game that would eventually finish 2-2. Lasting an hour, Scott has been full of praise for the club’s medical staff and spoke, at length, on the clubsite afterwards.

Scott Hogan

Scott was clearly chuffed, publishing this picture afterwards

Fans were, rightly , ecstatic. Primarily it was just a general outpouring of good will and good vibes all over social media. Nobody wants to see any player go through what Scott has done and so to see him come out the other side of this in such a positive frame of mind has been truly inspiring.

It’s like a new signing” one New Road observer would later note whilst I saw a comment on facebook to say that the first team would be the ideal place to recover his fitness, adding “He can’t do any worse than the three incumbents currently vying for the position of lowest scoring striker in a season”.

A harsh observation or a fair one? Regardless, let’s not pin all our hopes on one man’s shoulders. The enthusiasm is clearly there but full match fitness will likely take a bit longer to come back. That said, just seeing Scott on the bench is sure to be a huge psychological boost for everbody.

The moment arrives

As for the Charlton game, you may have read about the untimely passing of supporter Dean Langford, who was tragically killed in a road accident last week . Peter Gilham has been in touch with Dean’s father and it has been suggested that maybe a minute’s applause in the 24th minute on Saturday, would be the ideal way to pay our respects to one of our own, no longer with us.

Social Media has been awash with tributes to Dean this week. What better way for supporters to show their own respects than joining in on Saturday.

Finally, Cult heroes. It has long been the topic for debate as to who scoops the ultimate crown. When the BBC ran the survey several years ago, Terry Evans came out on top. Would the winner be any different today?

Well, FourFourTwo magazine have undertaken a club by club poll in their online edition and the results are now in. You can find them here . As for the Bees, those visitors to the Facebook ‘Brentford FC loyal’ page have had an inadvertent hand in helping pick our winner, Gary Blissett.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to represent the club in this one and, whilst my decision would have been Bliss, it was nice to see so many other people with a similar viewpoint when the seemingly innocent question was put out there last month.

Congratulations, Bliss. Scott Hogan couldn’t have a better player to aspire to.

Bliss - with Mat Davis

Bliss – a hero to many. Then and now

Nick Bruzon

Sheer Bliss for Brentford on Boxing Day

27 Dec

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to trot out some Chronicle style 80’s alliteration but the occasion of yesterday’s visit of Brighton was one that also saw Bees legend Gary Blissett, finally, inducted into the Brentford hall of fame. We’ll get to Bliss shortly but can only begin with a draw 0-0 between the Bees and the Seagulls that we can, perhaps, count ourselves unlucky not to have won.

David Stockdale in the Brighton goal pulled off a number of second half saves to kept the scores level as the game opened up a bit. The Brentford midfield looked a tad flatter than normal as clean sheets and snuffing out the opposition seemed the first order of the day. That said, Alan Judge was once more the standout man from that area when the Bees did take the game forward, as a series of second half chances were carved out only for Stockdale to keep Brighton in it.

The first from Judge saw the Irishman (surely a ‘shoe-in’ for Euro 2016 on this form) cut in from the wing and unleash a ferocious drive which the ‘keeper was able to parry over. Next up, the would be poacher turned would be provider, setting up Tarkowski for a header and certain goal. Again, the athletic Stockdale had to be at his best diving full stretch to guide it around the post with a stunning save.

Indeed, Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box would go one better and describe it as “Phenomenal“. Certainly, subsequent review of the  highlights pay testament to the true quality of the save. Finally it was Judge once more, from distance, forcing the Brighton shot stopper to dive to his left and tip away for another Bees corner.

Three great stops that, perhaps, denied three points for Brentford. However, we were ultimately the architects of our own result. Philipp Hofmann had the best chance of all, earning space in the box to get himself on the end of a Tarkowski cross with the goal begging and just Stockdale to beat. From six yards out.

This time, sadly, the save was anything but world class and that’s no disrespect to Brighton. With the whole of the target to aim at , the big German guided his header straight down Stockdale’s throat for a comfortable catch. And with that, scores remained at 0-0.

“He could have been the hero”. Not my words but those of Mark Burridge.

Full credit to Brighton. They closed us out and made chances few and far between. Likewise, a point against the long term league leaders is no bad thing whatsoever when, but for a bit more luck in front of goal (or a different ‘keeper), we may well have taken the win.

But there you go. Such are the margins in football and, perhaps, somewhat telling that this was the day we welcomed Gary Blissett into the Brentford ‘hall of fame’ at half time. His absence from this institution has been somewhat of an enigma but great to see if finally remedied.

Gary’s record speaks for itself and he remains a hero to Brentford fans of a certain age. Over six years from 1987 to 1993 he terrorised defences across the old third, and for one brief season, first divisions (what we know today as the Championship) . Notching 105 goals in 291 games (a strike rate of better than 1 in 3) alongside a variety of partners – most notably Richard Cadette and Dean Holdsworth – his FA Cup goals against Manchester City and Blackburn are the stuff of legend whilst the promotion clincher in the 1-0 victory at Peterborough has earned him a place in Brentford folklore.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 in the FA Cup v his beloved Manchester City

His performance in ’92-’93, where as an ever present his goals almost kept us in the old first division, demands equal recognition. If for no other reason than he’d seen Dean Holdsworth replaced with Murray Jones (think of a twentieth century Nick Proschwitz – nobody could fault the effort but, sadly the end product was somewhat lacking).

It wasn’t just as a goalscorer that Bliss made his name. He was also emergency goalkeeper – making his debut half way through a Championship game at home to Southend United in 1992 whilst Ashley Bayes shouted directions from behind the goal. Direction that Bliss ignored in a game that saw our first league win of that campaign.

His sale in 1993 , with relegation back to the third tier of English football confirmed, was an inevitable one but his reputation at Griffin Park has never diminished. Even close to a quarter-century later,  he remains as much a hero to supporters – this one specifically – as he did in his playing days.

Congratulations, Gary. Thoroughly well deserved.

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

As a final thought, here’s a statistical question. When was the last time we played successive games against teams in day-glo yellow? Following the previous game at home to Huddersfield Town, Brighton turned out in an equally lurid yellow design that was easier to see than the stewards.

Despite what looked like a sell out away crowd, I counted less than three dozen on display amongst supporters – and they were easy to spot from 100 yards away.

I have no idea what Mark Devlin and kitman Bob have lined up for next season, if they even know as yet, but from this kit obsessive here’s a suggestion – perhaps neon isn’t the best look !

Black might be good (hint, hint).

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Neon yellow – not a great look

Nick Bruzon

From ’81 – ’97…and beyond

14 Oct

I was as saddened as everybody associated with Brentford Football Club when I heard the news about Martin Lange yesterday. His passing, at the age of 71, ends one of the strongest associations with a club for who he was synonymous for the majority of the 1980s and 1990s.

Martin Lange - as pictured on the official site yesterday

Martin Lange – as pictured on the official site yesterday

As chairman from 1981-1997, Martin was the man at the helm when my own obsession with Brentford was really growing. Quite simply, I cannot associate one without the other.

Martin’s achievements (which are legion) and his progressive outlook have been well documented and people have, rightly so, been lining up to pay tribute. Gary Blissett, in particular, paints a moving picture on his own facebook page.

The club site is amongst those to give a synopsis of his work in the wider world of football. Campaigns to tackle hooliganism, the proposal of the play offs (I still smile at the irony of these being put forward by the Brentford chairman, given our subsequent record) and even his idea to incorporate squad names and numbers onto players’ shirts.

It was this latter point that had me scratching my head yesterday. I’m sure Martin was the man who, unable to get this pushed through initially, took the next available step and incorporated player names onto their shorts instead. Sure enough, a trawl of the interweb reveals pictorial evidence.

The Holdsworth shorts

The Holdsworth shorts

The team Martin helped put together, containing the likes of Deano and Bliss, which eventually win that epic game at Peterborough back in 1992 is, much like the great man himself, one that will be never be forgotten. RIP Martin Lange.

The other piece of news to catch my attention is one close to my heart and, perhaps, very appropriate today. As somebody who has served on the Bees United board in the past, I’ve seen the role that everyone from Chairman down to supporters can play in our club.

Like BU, BIAS (Brentford Independent Association of Supporters) have proven that fan interaction can play a key part in our club’s future. This Saturday sees their annual AGM and I’d encourage all supporters to attend or, at the very least, read their latest article (written by Gemma Teale) which you can find here. Specifically as this gives supporters who want to get involved a chance to join the BIAS committee aswell as re-electing (or not) the current members.

And for those of you who may be unsure about the prospect of joining a committee, Gemma’s article notes “ I figured it would just be a lot of talking, and minutes and motions and not much else. I’m happy to say I was wrong “.

She goes on to add, “We have quarterly meetings with the club, so get to give Mark Devlin, Kurt Pitman, Chris Wickham and others a really hard time – I mean, have really productive discussions with them. And we make progress, we have influenced the club’s Customer Charter, and we have successfully campaigned for reducing the length of time before a game that advance tickets can be purchased”.

The BIAS AGM takes place at 12pm on Saturday at the Inverness Lodge, Brentford.

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