Tag Archives: Phil Holder

Is Ian wrong, again? Can we do it? Newcastle v Brentford is here.

14 Oct

Just one more wake up until the weekend and the return of Championship football for Brentford. With it, the much anticipated trip to Newcastle United and our chance to catch up with the Magpies in the heart of the play-off zone should we get three points. Should….

International break is always a tough time. Much as I love following the football fortunes of Gibraltar, it has been another period of little satisfaction. Results wise, that is. 0-4 and 0-6 losses to Estonia and Belgium, the latter seeing Christian Benteke record the fastest goal in World Cup qualifying history, have given plenty of time to think things over on the domestic front. As for England, that’s a whole other world of pain.

So whilst Saturday’s game has always been a standout fixture on the calendar with (cliché alert), the game at Newcastle one of the first we looked for when the fixtures were announced, the long wait through a barren international weekend has given even more food for thought.

Everybody is saying to treat it like another game, myself included. That’s right, of course. Play the team, not the occasion. Yet, at the same time, one can’t help but be swept up with the moment. For a club that have, until recent years, been more accustomed to playing the likes of Newport than Newcastle there is an enormous swell of pride at where we are now.

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The last time we played Newcastle in the league, Phil Holder was the Bees boss

I’ll doff my hat to statistical guru Luis Melville when he proves me wrong but I can’t imagine we’ll have played in front of a crowd this big before. Whether in modern times or ever. The attendance at the W place for the 2012/13 play-off final was just short of 42,000 whilst our FA Cup quarter-final with Liverpool in 1989 was just over.

The flip side of this being that we thoroughly deserve to be where we are. This, our third season in the Championship, is the result of an awful lot of hard work on and off the pitch. Much of it unseen. Finishes of 5th and 9th have been no flukes, despite the many challenges we have faced – including those of our own making.

Yet still people sneer and write us off. Ian Holloway started the season by describing us as a club that were regressing, promptly tipping us for relegation. How wrong that one has proven so far as, instead, Brentford find themselves in 7th(seventh).

Indeed, so far have things changed that yesterday he used his Sky Sports column to predict we’ll win the game!! Indeed, he even held up his hands to admit, “I jumped to conclusions at the start of the season when Brentford couldn’t keep hold of their good players like Jake Bidwell. I couldn’t have been more wrong with my prediction. Dean Smith and the squad are proving me wrong. Good on them.

With Newcastle already having lost at home to Wolves and Huddersfield Town in the league, their last outing at St.James’ Park saw that epic 4-3 win over Norwich City. Yet even that one saw them going into injury time 3-2 down.

And with Scott Hogan having just scooped the Championship player of the month  award for his own goalscoring feats, could Ian be onto something?

The bookies don’t agree. Club sponsor 888sport have us at 21/4 to win. In real terms that means – put £10 on; get £62.50 back. Too good to be true? Free money? Or do the bookmakers know what they are talking about?

At 3pm on Saturday, we find out.

And if you’d like to read more, Ian’s full piece can be found here.

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Do 888 know something we don’t? (other bookmakers are available)

Nick Bruzon

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Newcastle, Barnsley and a trip down the road. What a month ahead.

11 Oct

With ‘kit obsessive’ submitted for the Barnsley programme and Brentford in the midst of international break, I wasn’t going to bother today. Gibraltar shipping what is deemed to be the fastest ever World Cup qualifying goal last night (Christian Benteke’s strike now recorded at 8.1 seconds – although it seemed an awful lot quicker watching it live) perhaps now would be a good time for a bit more of a rest. And then I looked at the fixture list. Trips to Newcastle United and Derby County await before that Halloween showdown with QPR. And, of course, between the last two we have the prestigious moment of the aforementioned match at Griffin Park –  our 4,000th game.

What a month October promises to be.

With the Bees currently one place out-side the play off zone after 11 games, nobody could deny we are where we are on merit. Sure, we’ve ridden our luck at times but, equally, we’ve take our chances when they’ve presented themselves. How long ago do the opening week defeats to leaders Huddersfield Town and then Exeter City in the EFL cup now seem?

But for all Scott Hogan has been banging them in. For all that Daniel Bentley has marshalled one of the tightest defences in the Championship (only Huddersfield and Brighton have conceded less). For all that Ryan Woods has been dominant in midfield, to name but a few of our standout players, there can be no resting on laurels. Instead, it is the time to see if we will push on and be genuine promotion contenders or should mid-table and survival at this level be a realistic target  ?

This Saturday sees the trip to Newcastle United. When the Premier League die was cast and saw the Magpies, Aston Villa and Norwich City relegated there was palpable excitement in the air. A fixture list that already offered us Fulham and QPR now had the additional draw of these historical powerhouses of English football.

Yet if we’re being honest, Newcastle was the one out of all these we’ve been looking forward to the most. A big name to test ourselves against. A new ground for many. A return to a footballing Mount Everest for others. And that’s just the climb to the back of the away stand.

We haven’t played them in the league since 1992/93. Just to put that into context, Jim Rosenthal was presenting live football on ITV (bring him back. please) whilst Phil Holder was in charge of the Bees. A 2-1 home defeat in front of the cameras was followed a by a 5-1 loss on the road. I’ve a feeling that the Bees will be a different prospect this time around.

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Jim Rosenthal and Phil Holder – the previous season our league paths crossed

With Mark Devlin confirming we’ve sold close to 3,000 tickets you can already feel the anticipation building. It’s only Tuesday morning yet, already, I can’t wait to get on that train up to the North-East. Despite the early start, it promises to be a great day for the supporters. Whilst I hope the players enjoy themselves too, let’s also remember that this is ‘just another game’. Easy to say when I’m bigging it up but to play the occasion rather than the team you are up against can be a fatal error.

Newcastle are beatable. They’ve lost 3 out of 11 in the league this season. That’s over a quarter of their games (checks fingers) and sees them just four points ahead of Brentford. Certainly, a position not predicted by many pundits before the season began. Hello, Ian? Ian….? Has anybody seen Ian Holloway?

Can we do it? The optimist in me says yes. The head says I haven’t a clue. I’m just the numpty on the terrace who wears his heart on his sleeve and his funky bee on his chest.  All I know is that whatever happens on Saturday it’s going to be a good , good day.

And that’s even before we then get to Derby County next Tuesday , Barnsley (home) and the televised encounter with QPR at the end of the month. Each of these has added significance in its own right but, Newcastle aside, it is  the Barnsley game I’m really up for.

That may surprise many, given the rivalry with the Loftus Road mob but 4,000 games is a huge moment in our history. No doubt the club will have something special lined up for that one and it is bound to be a special occasion.

Still, all that’s for Saturday week. For now, all the focus is about this weekend. Can the Bees mix it with the big boys?

I can’t wait to find out.

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Breathing gear. Check. Ropes. Check

Nick Bruzon

The Championship has begun. But how was it?

10 Aug

Brentford kicked off their Championship campaign with a draw at home to Charlton Athletic yesterday and then had the added bonus of finishing clear of Fulham (who were beaten by Ipswich Town).

The final 1-1 score doesn’t even tell half the story. The Bees, who dominated vast swathes of the first half, were probably fortunate to come away with a draw by the end. With Charlton already 1-0 up, Callum Harriott somehow conspired to hit the crossbar when clear of David Button and with the net gaping.

If you don’t take your chances then you’ll pay the price. Sure enough, Tommy Smith popped up with six minutes left to send Griffin Park delirious.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

Stand by for action. The Championship is finally here !!

9 Aug

This is it, Brentford. Today’s visit of Charlton Athletic finally offers the chance of some catharsis as all those years of ‘coming so close’ since 92/93 (not to mention a couple of relegations) can finally be put to one side.

After falling foul of League restructuring and missing out to Birmingham City in 94/95 – followed by our now standard play-off capitulation.

After the dire play off final of 96/97 agasint Crewe Alexandra at Wembley.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

Who will start as a double transfer swoop actually happens?

8 Aug

The link between Hull City and Brentford was one I talked about a lot last season. However, with the visit of Charlton Athletic for the Championship opener only 24 hours away it has just became even stronger.

They were lining up to be photographed with the official Brentford signing shirt yesterday as the news was announced that both Tommy Smith (who had been on trial with the Bees for sometime) and Nick Proschwitz from Hull (not so widely predicted) have joined. These much-welcomed signings mean competition up front, where Andre Gray and Scott Hogan were in pole position, has suddenly become very fierce.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

We’ve been here before – the top ten of our last Championship campaign

7 Aug

With Charlton Athletic due to visit Brentford on Saturday in our Championship opener I made a somewhat outlandish claim in yesterday’s column as to where I think we’d finish the season. I stand by that and I’d hope history repeats to help this happen – the last time The Bees entertained Charlton at this level saw a 2-0 win for us back on Nov 7th 1992.

That said, I hope there aren’t too many more similarities between the forthcoming campaign and that one, given 1992/93 saw us return to League One (as is) after a solitary season. At times the season was exciting; at others, it offered nothing but the bitterest frustration.

Regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush asked for ‘my memories’ of this and, whilst somewhat hazy, it did get me thinking. So here are the top five highs and lows from the last time we tried try our luck in English football’s second tier.

The lows:

5: Dean Holdsworth. If Wigan Athletic fans are wondering why Brentford supporters are so upset about the Adam Forshaw talk, this is why.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

Premiership, we’re coming for you (and this time it’ll be different)

6 Aug

Wednesday morning and I feel like a kid at Christmas. The Adam Forshaw to Wigan Athletic story has got in the way of what should be the most exciting week in the last 21 years as Brentford prepare to rejoin the Championship. So I’m done with that (Wigan, I mean) – we’ll let the story play out one way or another and, instead, start to focus on the weekend when it all kicks off again with the visit of Charlton Athletic.

Football always has been my game, no question. I love rugby and cricket but this has it all. And as much because of all the chatter, the banter, the build up, the speculation and the anticipation. We have a week of preparing for that moment when everything comes to a head and Buzzette leads the teams out to the pitch.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

Re-create the Peterborough spirit

1 Jan

To Brentford fans of a certain age, the mere mention of Peterborough is synonymous with one thing  – Gary Blissett grabbing the winner at London Road as the 91/92 season came to a close.

With that goal, of course, Brentford whipped the title from under the nose of Birmingham City whilst Peterborough also went on to join us in the second tier of English football the following season.

Whilst that subsequent campaign was one which included Murray Jones as the ‘new’ Dean Holdsworth (move along please – nothing to see here) and the gut wrenching injury to Terry Evans as the Bees were relegated (if only he’d been fit), there were plenty of highlights along the way too:

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

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

Sheer Bliss…..for Philadelphia

4 Sep

With the excellent ‘Big Brentford Book of the 90s’ just launched, I’ve gone all nostalgic. The excitement; the promotion; the dodgy away shirts and, of course, the goals. As such, it seems an appropriate time to catch up with Gary Blissett – the man who, for many, was  THE Brentford player of that era. A headline writer’s dream (The Chronicle were never shy of a ‘Sheer Bliss for Brentford’) he helped knock his beloved Manchester City out of the FA Cup before scoring our title winning goal at Peterborough.

When I last caught up with him (for the very first ‘Where Are They Now’ in the matchday programme), Gary was living out in Germany and coaching at Elversberg. Things have moved on somewhat in the intervening years and now, alongside another Bees legend in Allan Cockram, he is based in the USA – still working in football but taking a very different approach to the traditional one of the ‘former pro.’ I spoke with Gary recently to hear more about it.

Soccer Sounds; Urban cage events – you seem to have gotten involved in various football related ventures. What are you up to at the moment and how is it all going? All’s going great and according to plan, although it’s been a long journey over the last two years. I am actually visiting my girls in Germany at the moment, and Allan is still in Philadelphia coaching Kids the ‘SoccerSounds’ Way. Its got to the stage where one of us needs to be there if the other needs to go home, which is good I suppose…

Why the States? It will take me all day to explain why the States, Nick. But once we arrived and met the people where we were, we knew there was something here that we could give to the kids over time. SoccerSounds grew and developed and more and more people got involved. It was then an easy decision to then decide we should stay.

How have they taken to it – both the football and the two ‘Brits’? We want first and foremost, the kids to have fun playing football. They are learning technique and becoming scholars of the game through the way we coach and teach. They seem to be taking to it and yes they seem to like the 2 Brits..

From what I’ve seen, most of the time it seems to involve you and Cockers on some sort of US road trip. Good fun? The road trip was a one off. We travelled from PA-LA in a truck and a 24ft Trailer that had 2 of our 3 Cages inside. A round trip of nearly 7000 miles for Mia Hamm Foundation and also Ethan Zohns Grassroot Soccer Foundation. And, yes  – it was good fun. Although we had a few scary moments.. (Editor’s note: if you check out the ‘SoccerSounds’ website / Facebook pages , the pictures and videos suggest that ‘good fun’ was definitely on the agenda)

What’s Allan like to travel and work with? Image        Cockers is great to travel with as he gives everyone on board the vast knowledge he has of life, and the world, in general. He can peel oranges like a World Champion and doesn’t fart so much, which really helps when 5 lads are travelling across America and back!! We are both old pros so easy to work with as we both have the same ethics when it comes to our beautiful game

Good social out there? Or is it all work? Its 95% work. We do have a social but it mainly consists of lying on the sofa watching Premier League at 7am on a Saturday morning through the day because of the time difference and having a couple of cheeky ones in the afternoon as Al is cooking the evening meal. (Not really a Social is it?)

There’s a picture of the lads with Billie Jean-King? How did they get to meet her? We do work for The Women’s Sport Foundation of which BJK is the founder. She really is a great inspiration to all sport’s people, especially kids, and she loves what we do and what we are all about.

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(Cockers and Bliss meet a sporting icon)

I’ve seen also on your site that you do ‘blindfold practice’. What’s that all about about? The Blind Sense Training is a way of accelerating the Muscle Memory (Myelin) Its something that’s revolutionary in training and I cant give to much away at this stage except to say Allan trained with The English National Blind Team for a week and it blew him away!!

What about Germany? The last time we caught up(then for the match day programme) you were out there. Is that still home? We actually live in an apartment in Philadelphia, but next year we will be putting into perspective of where home is and will be. We have 3 Year 01 Visas so we are looking to be here at least till 2015

Are you still involved with the football at Elversberg? I’m not involved with Elversberg anymore, no. 

Brentford have had a preseason tour to Germany the last two seasons – have you been able to take a look at all? Yes. I follow Brentford all the time whether it be a pre-season friendly or a League Game. I’m always interested in how they are doing as I have a lot of friends in Brentford who I am still in regular contact with.

And what is Uwe Rösler’s reputation like abroad? Do he or The Bees get much media coverage? Not in Germany or USA, where you only see Premier League. (It’s a shame really as they would see how real clubs survive and are supported). In Germany Herr Rösler is a well respected Coach, Manager and ex-player.

As for the Bees themselves, what do you make of preseason and the opening games? Good start.. May it long continue!!

What’s your opinion on Uwe? Uwe will be a Premier League Manager within the next few years if he continues the way he is, maybe Man City?

Where will the Bees finish? Top!!

Will you be able to get across to England for any / many games? Not looking good to get over unless I am back in Germany in May when I may have a cheeky trip to West London.

Knocking Man City out of the cup or getting the promotion-sealing goal at Peterborough? Winning the League was the highlight of my career……

It seems an appropriate comment on which to wrap up. With Peterborough already going great guns in the League this season, what price a Gary Blissett to pop up and do the same at London Road this time around?

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(The day we beat Manchester City in the FA Cup – signed by the great man himself)