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Prophetic Peter calls it and Matthew goes full Partridge as Neal and Josh do the business. Again.

16 Sep

7(seven) games down and Brentford are up to second in the embryonic Championship table after a fifth, successive, home win. This time, over Wigan Athletic. In a display of quite delicious passing football, Neal Maupay grabbed both goals to take his individual total to 7(seven) for the season and move clear in the Championship goalscoring charts. This, despite his missing two league games following the Villa Park affair. Just to put that into context, Neal already has two more than the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have scored all season. Then again, with four league wins under the belt that’s already four more than both the entire Birmingham City and Ipswich Town teams have earned all season.

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View from the Braemer – Brentford strolled past Wigan on Saturday

The visit of Wigan was never going to be easy. On paper. Paul Cook’s team were only a point behind the Bees before kick-off whilst the visitors had ex-Bee Will Grigg in their squad. The inevitability of a former player doing the business is never a particularly enjoyable moment for home fans of any club. Even moreso in the case of Will when no doubt ‘that song’ would have been given a rendition.

Yet there was a comfort about this one, especially once the second goal had gone in, that is true testament to the confidence flowing through both Dean Smith’s squad and the home support. Maupay scooped man of the match honours but I thought Lewis Macleod and, in particular, Josh McEachran were quite wonderful. The latter starting the move for the opening goal with a cheeky nutmeg followed by a delightful crossfield ball forward to Said Benrahma. If only the sky cameras had captured the moment for their post-match highlights. Here’s hoping those on ‘official’ catch the full move when they appear at lunchtime. (12pm update: Yes! They did. Enjoy…..

 

Credit to Josh. If any player has taken his time to start winning over the critics it is him. Yet he has plugged away and the management have shown faith. With Ryan Woods having moved on the chance has been seized after what were, if we are being honest, a patchy couple of seasons. And how. We’ve already noted his increased presence this season on these pages a few times. The killer pass and/or move forward being a key change in his dynamic.

Indeed whilst being gently probed by Natalie Sawyer during this week’s TalkSport interview, Dean Smith was full of praise for a player who has admitted to still having England aspirations. Consistency will be key, of course, but for now one can only applaud a quite wonderful start to the campaign.

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Neal was MOTM but Josh played blinder, too

That Maupay goal came half-way through an opening period that Brentford dominated. Whilst it had felt as though the flood gates would open within seconds when the Bees swarmed forward from the kick-off, Christian Walton in the Wigan goal held back the tide. Something which proved to be the theme of a game in which, a brief first-half flurry aside, was about as one way as they come.

The threat of Grigg never materialised. He wasn’t so much on fire as on the bench. A place he never left, save for the warm ups. But then as Our Graham (a Huddersfield fan making one of his semi-regular but always welcome visits to Griffin Park) noted, perhaps the judgement here being that the ball needed to be near the Brentford goal in order for him to put it in it, and it was seldom in that vicinity.

One up at half-time became two just after the hour. That man Maupay with his second, this time against ten men rather than eleven. Sam Morsy having been sent off five minutes earlier for poleaxing Yoann Barbet with a head butt that had referee Darren England instantaneously calling for the medics before subsequently brandishing the red card. And from that point on it really was game over. Two clear and coasting. Despite Walton mountin’ a one-man resistance, in the end it was a case of goodnight Wigan Athletic. With other results falling kindly the Bees move up to second, just a point behind Leeds United.

What a time to be alive. What a time to be a Brentford fan. What a reward for all those who’ve been with us through thick and thin. Now able to enjoy what Matthew Benham would later describe on Twitter as “Liquid football” .

Back of the net, indeed ! There is no finer moment in life than anybody embracing their inner Alan Partridge. Accidentally or otherwise. All the while of course, just up the road our new home continues to grow. On current form I can only imagine Mr. Benham naming that one ‘Jurassic Park’.

Credit to Matthew and the current regime for allowing this to happen. There can’t be a fan amongst us who isn’t appreciative of what is being built here and how it has happened. Yes, there have been some tears and frustration along the way – this is football, we are passionate supporters who often think with our hearts in the heat of the moment rather than our heads  – yet only a fool would jump off this train now.

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The site at Lionel Road, (very) early on Saturday morning

Next up, Ipswich Town on Tuesday night. Whilst their record was mentioned in the introduction by way of comparison to Neal’s form, they also need to be recognised for the genuine threat they present to Brentford’s own aspirations. And as much, a mark of our own progress. True, they are bottom of the table but they are only two wins away from the top half. They may have lost to Hull City yesterday but the season is still young. They aren’t, surely, a bottom three side? If nothing else, we’ve the likes of Preston, QPR, Reading and Birmingham City for that particular task.

Last season saw Brentford take nine games before we got our first three pointer. It was a run which was typified by performances that Dean Smith swore by, maintaining we were deserving of victories. Eventually they came.

Yet the game at Portman Road was one of those from that early, ill-fated patch. It was a perfromance noted at the time on these pages as, “Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One-way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games

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Portman Road (and what Billy Reeves calls the best font in football) is next.

That was then. This is now. Nottingham Forest two weeks ago saw us win the sort of game that, last season, we’d have lost. Refusing to be outmuscled as the team converted chances into goals and, eventually, all three points. Could Tuesday night promise more of the same? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. Yet on this sort of form I wouldn’t bet against Dean’s team.

As a final note of the day, could we see a new partnership forming at Griffin Park? Not so much the Ollie Watkins / Neal Maupay combo but that of Peter Gilham and Stuart Wakeford? Our own ‘man with the mic’ joining in during the #BeesLive segment prior to kick off where I walked in on his line: “I don’t know what the question was but the answer was Josh McEachran”.

How prophetic. On yesterday’s performance at Griffin Park the answer was very much Josh McEachran. With perhaps, a soupçon of Neal Maupay.

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Stu does his thing on #BEESLIVE – but what WAS the question?

Nick Bruzon

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Who’s on fire when league action returns this weekend?

14 Sep

Finally. Championship action returns this weekend with Brentford hosting Wigan Athletic, straight off the back of the news that out allocation of 7,700 tickets for the league cup game at Arsenal has already set out. For the masochistic amongst us, winless Birmingham City tonight entertain (if that is possible) a West Bromwich Albion side who know that victory will take them up to third place in a still coagulating table. Yet one which is almost at that magical ‘ten game mark’.

First up, Brentford. Obviously. Two weeks of inaction with nothing but the evolving site at Lionel Road have been a tough void to fill. Moreso given how frustrating it has been having to slam the brakes on what has been a quite wonderful start to the campaign for the Bees.

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Lionel Road ; Thursday morning

Our current fifth place has been achieved through three wins out of three at home and only one defeat on the road. That at Blackburn where we were missing Neal Maupay following that thing at Villa Park. Yet the team have been scoring goals for fun, with the aforementioned Frenchman the division’s top marksman on 5 and Ollie Watkins right behind him on 4. Chuck in a further four assists between them aswell as no other Championship player having more touches in the box than Ollie’s 44 (although I’m sure Ian Moose would probably just call that dilly-dallying) and you can see how well they are going together.

Indeed, only West Bromwich Albion (15) and Leeds United (14) have managed more than the Bees 12 goals to date. Even then, the West Brom total includes the, albeit magnificent, bracketing of hapless QPR when the not so super hoops conceded 7(seven) in a single game.

Brentford’s football has been a joy to watch. Positivity that was shared by our own Dean Smith, talking to Natalie Sawyer on Talksport Radio last night. Some things are worth breaking my own, self-enforced, ban on all things Ian Moose for and with the catering obsessed narcissus nowhere near the studio I tuned in.

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Thankfully, there was no Ian Moose last night

There were big ups for Josh McEachran. Talk of expansive football. Discussion about the Arsenal game, where with the squad having been thinned out by the loans of Chiedozie Ogbene to Exter City, Tom Field to Cheltenham Town and Ryan Woods (albeit the cat was initially let out of the bag before Dean corrected his own use of the word ‘sold’) to Stoke the implication was that we would go with a strong team. And rightly so. Who would want to miss out on that one?

Yet what was clear through all the twenty minute probing Natalie administered to Dean was his ongoing self-belief and enthusiasm. For the squad, the style of football which the benevolence of our current regime has enabled him to play and his immediate focus being on Wigan Athletic rather than anybody beyond. In his eyes its all about Saturday. Talk of Arsenal was tempered with the fact that there are another two games after Wigan (as part of another intense 22 day run) before we get to the League Cup.

If you missed this one you definitely missed out. Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to Natalie’s podcasts for The Times know she is a most engaging presenter. Frankly, she could make any subject from Tom Moore’s socks to Josh McEachran’s phone case collection (both hypothetically) sound interesting. So when you have a guest who was as on fire as Dean, then it was radio gold.

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Captain Barbet sums up the spirit in the Bees camp , last time out

Certainly, if I was up for the weekend fixture beforehand then it’s even more so the case now. With our 7,700 tickets sold out for Arsenal (and a further 700 being made available) presumably we can only expect a close to sell-out crowd for this one? No doubt all those heading to the Emirates will be at Griffin Park (and beyond) in the build-up to that one? If nothing else, seeing the alleged conflagration that is Will Grigg being extinguished will put a lot of smiles on faces. For no more reason than silencing ‘that song’ – something akin to the England Supporters ‘band’, the Portsmouth bell, vuvuzelas and goal songs as musical interruptions that should be consigned to video games rather than football stadia.

Still, we’ve been there and done this before. Let’s not get distracted by the England band. There’ll be enough to keep us busy this weekend. Moreso, given we have the TV treat (errr) of Birmingham v West Brom tonight. Can the Blues get their first win of the campaign at the 7th(seventh) time of asking? Will the visitors keep on banging in the goals that have propelled them towards touching distance of the play-off zone already? Will ‘you know who’ need to trot out his usual combination of post-match tweets – we go again / fans deserved more / apologies / KRO (whatever that means)? Or could the St. Andrews team finally start to fulfil the promise that a club of their former glory and current size would no doubt expect?

Besides. It’s that or Coronation Street so I’ll certainly be watching the game. Whilst Mrs. Bruzon may prefer the cobbles of Weatherfield, there’s not quite a KRO-bar in our house. Yet.   

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Taxi for Grigg? Here’s hoping on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

There’s more than one anniversary to commemorate. Could the same thing happen again?

23 Feb

With Brentford due to entertain Rotherham United this Saturday, the game sees a much heralded anniversary being marked – fifty years since the Loftus Road mob failed in their attempt to cast the Bees out of Griffin Park and take over the club. Whilst the club are understandably, marking this date with all the correct protocol and build up, it has overshadowed another anniversary. Namely, Friday 24 February being two years to the day that the Bees enjoyed 74% possession and an incredible 43 shots in a 4-0 Championship defeat of Blackpool.

Of course, the club have numerous articles on the doomed QPR affair. You can see the latest on ‘official’ at present (well worth a look) whilst the Rotherham game sees the event being given formal recognition.

Yet the Blackpool game also deserves a look back. If only for the manner in which Brentford played so soon after the news that Mark Warburton would eventually be moving on, unable to co-exist alongside Matthew Benham and his (then new) ‘mathematical model’.

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Warbs – more popular at the time than the prospect of the mathematical model

Of course, nobody knew then what we do now. It was decision which seemed crazy at the time . Moreso, given that the Blackpool game seemed a vindication of everything the club had done to get to that point. Equally though, it is one which now sees us about to embark on a fourth season of Championship football. The thought of any QPR style buy out nothing but a bad memory as Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford continues apace.

So with Saturday seeing us prepare to play Rotherham United and (frankly) jeer QPR, the Last Word takes the chance to step back in time and remember, as if ‘live’, what we did against Blackpool. It was as close as we’ll get to those wonderful brackets that come with 7(seven) goals. Then again, with the divisional whipping boys next up, could Brentford do the same again two years on…..?

25 February 2015. 4 goals, 43 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

Brentford blew aside Blackpool last night like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 43 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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Those shots in full

As it was, Jon Toral recorded a hat trick with two early goals starting proceedings and looking as though the floodgates might open. With the crowd exhorting Toumani to shoot at every opportunity, expectation was high. Even ‘the left side, Ealing Road’, joined in with the cheering before meeting the good natured retort “You only sing when your winning” from the rest of the stand.

Instead, it stayed at two until just after half time when Andre Gray’s effort eventually squeezed though, and off, a sea of legs for 3-0. And that was it until Toral was forced to make room on his mantelpiece for a match-ball as he stabbed home from close range just before the final whistle.

4-0 was no more than we deserved but with everybody above us (barring Bournemouth who play tonight) winning, it was an essential result. Yes, we could have had more but three points had to be the priority against a team who were desperate for a result and, for a moment, looked as though they might even grab the opening goal.

However, it was just a moment and, with the threat gone, Brentford recorded a victory that sees us sitting immediately outside the playoff zone, just two points off third place. All talk of Matthew Benham’s mathematical model has been pushed firmly to the back of the mind as 7(seven) goals in two games suggest something is working just fine as things currently stand. Hey, we even scored from a corner (albeit, the traditional ball into the penalty box rather than the much maligned ‘short’ variety).

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In the interest of balance I’m looking for a negative about our performance but it is hard to be truly objective when the opposition offer so little. You have to really feel for their fans making that journey for that level of resistance.

Being über critical, the only thing to elicit any form of inward groan, short corners aside, was some of David Button’s distribution. Whilst we used to think even Natalie Sawyer’s feet would be better suited to clearing the ball, that part of his game has still improved so much that a rogue effort does really stand out now. There’s good reason the fans chant “England’s number one”.

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Better than Button? Natalie Sawyer feet pictures feat Mark Burridge, too.

Warbs’ stock continues to rise as the post match discussion in the pub was very much one of “What next”? Matthew Benham has made his intentions clear and so certainly seems to have gone too far down this track for a reversal of opinion. The popular Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has said he won’t be able to work within such a structure.

However, there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then I have two words which, I am sure, would prove a popular decision – Rachel Riley.

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First look at the artist’s impression of a mathematical model etc etc etc

And, as ever, if you would like to read more about that incredible period then you can do so here…….

Nick Bruzon

Could we go one better with next season’s third shirt? A groundbreaking opportunity awaits.

5 Feb

Finally. 24 hours after the majority of our Championship rivals, Brentford get the chance to get back into action. And what a test it will be, against league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion. Although, of course, that should now read ‘former’ league leaders after Newcastle United regained top spot on Saturday.

With third place Reading also picking up a point yesterday afternoon, the pressure will be on the Seagulls to really go for broke. Brentford, of course, will be looking to build upon Tuesday night’s tonking of Aston Villa. We looked at the forthcoming challenge in the previous column which you can find here.

However, today I wanted to mention the Football v Homophobia (FvH) campaign. Don’t worry, this is no attempt at cod moralising or patronising anybody. The last thing anybody needs, the LGBT community especially, is an article that goes all preachy.

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Yet with February being designated the international month of FVH, today’s game with Brighton has been selected in support of the campaign. You can read more about this on Brentford official where the article notes that as many as 72% of fans have heard homophobic abuse at football matches.

Thankfully, and as we’ve mentioned many times before, at Brentford this would seem to be very much the exception rather than the rule. Aside from an odd incident at Newcastle United this season from a few of the visiting fans, this isn’t anything I’ve encountered before. Home or away. It’s just one of the many reasons I’m glad I can bring my son,family and friends to Griffin Park.

And so, despite no real issue of homophobia at Brentford, the club continue to back the campaigns and make all the right noises. We support the rainbow laces promotion, print the statements on the website whilst the excellent matchday programme will, no doubt also contain similar messages today. Likewise, we also have the @LGBT_Bees group on Twitter who are well worth a follow.

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Harlee Dean shows his support earlier in the season

Yet, equally, it does sometimes feel a little bit like lip service and some clubs going through the mentions. That’s no disprespect to Brentford, who certainly push the right buttons, but more an observation about football in general. How do a club really nail their colours to the mast? Or, rather, their kit?

German club VfL Bochum have long been noted amongst supporters for their late 90s kits, which sported the rainbow colours so closely associated with the LGBT community on one half of the chest. Yet whatever the connotations of this colour scheme, this  was no precursor to the FvH campaign.

Instead it was a case of taking sponsorship to Coventry City levels (the Sky Blues famously attempting to bypass football regulations by incorporating Talbot’s ’T’ directly into their early 80’s kit design). The rainbow colour scheme was actually that of club sponsors Faber, who ran the German lottery. However well meaning this shirt may be considered by the casual observer, it was chosen for nothing more than commercial gain.

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The Bochum kit (with Faber logo inset)

But it did get me thinking. Why not introduce the rainbow colours to a shirt? Even just for one match ? Event specific shirts are hardly uncommon these days and it would be a wonderful way to bring awareness to a new level. Nobody could deny the that the Bochum effort got people talking, even if for the wrong reasons.

One can only presume that contractual / commercial reasons would probably get in the way of such an enterprise before it got off the drawing board. Yet if any club and Adidas wanted to lead the way in throwing their support behind the FvH campaign, then what a groundbreaking way to do it? Even if just by tweaking the colour scheme on the famous shoulder stripes?

Bochum have shown this could be done, albeit by accident. How about Brentford do it for real ?

I’d be proud to wear this or some similar variant. Even if it was for one night only.

Would you?

 

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Could this be in Bob’s locker next season?

Nick Bruzon

A goal, a goal is all we need…

23 Nov

It’s only Wednesday. The interminable wait until Brentford host Birmingham City on Saturday continues. If anything, it is a wait made all the more painful by our previous outings – the lacklustre defeat to Fulham followed up by Brentford going down by the odd goal in 5 at Blackburn.

In the understatement of the decade, Dean was quoted after that one as saying that he didn’t expect us to concede the goals we did. “I felt this was a place that we could come and score goals. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect us to concede the goals we did”, said Dean etc etc.

Just for good measure, we got a graphic of this one too.

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Whilst it seems obvious, and the gut reaction was one of contemplating whether this was even an act of parody, thinking about it more I think I get what he is trying to say. The goals were all sloppy, all unexpected and all out of character (other cliches are available). Indeed, of our 17 Championship games so far, 6 have seen us keeping clean sheets whilst it would be fair to say that Daniel Bentley hit the ground running between the sticks.

Further, only 7(seven) Championship teams have conceded less than our 19 goals over that period. That said, the left back situation is one I’d like to see cleared up sooner than lately. Nobody can doubt the international class and calibre of Andreas Bjelland but he is still a man pressed into an unfamiliar role. Roll on the return of Rico Henry and then the hope he lives up to all his plaudits . No pressure there.

It is up front where perhaps the situation is more interesting and different to any of our previous seasons playing at this level. In our first Championship campaign, Andre Gray was our top scorer in the league (16) but was ably supported by Alex Pritchard, Jota and even Jonathan Douglas who all weighed in with 13, 10 and 8 goals respectively . Last time out, it was another shared load. But for injury, who knows where Alan Judge would have stopped – he’d got 14 league goals up until that horrific broken leg. Lasse Vibe ended on the same figure whilst Scott Hogan, Sergi Canos and John Swift all managed 7 (seven)

Granted, we’re only just over a third of the way through the campaign but it doesn’t seem to me as though the same pattern is being repeated this time around. Rather than the shared workload, we are reliant on one man. And what a man !

Goal machine Scott Hogan is miles out in front with 10 league goals already. He’s picked up the baton from where he left off last season and is currently just a few behind Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle in the race for leading Championship scorer. But after that it is a  case of slim pickings in the league. Centre back John Egan is next with 3, Josh Clarke and Lasse Vibe 2 before a handful of players have one apiece.

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Can one man do it all on his own?

It’s great that we have a free scoring centre forward. His timing and technique are clear for all to see. The question now is whether he gets the support that has been so much a part of our game over the last few campaigns ? Whilst, generally, we’re keeping it tight at the back up front we’ve drawn a blank 4 times out of the last 7 (etc) games . Is this a blip? Are teams getting wise to us? Does Dean have a plan B for getting the goals? Does he even need one?

At the end of the day, Clive, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I’ve no sort of tactical insight and what I know about running a football team you could write on the back of a matchbox. But for a club who, whether rightly or wrongly are held up as one for whom statistical analysis is a a key part of our make up, those are a few for thought.

I’m genuinely not sure which way will it go against promotion chasing Birmingham City. Will the goal machine keep on firing? Could somebody else get their name on the scoresheet? Will it be another blank for the Bees? The permutations in my head keep veering wildly between the three and I can’t call it at this juncture.

However, with our record against the Blues a less than favourable one in recent seasons W0 D1 L3), not to mention a fair amount of historic rivalry, I’d be well happy with a gritty 1-0. Hogan.

We can worry about the bigger picture after that.

Nick Bruzon

Bees batter QPR as Romaine bounces back. A fine win recorded in words, pictures, tweets and video.

29 Oct

What is it about West London derbies for the Bees? Brentford made it 2 wins out of our last 3 games agasint QPR as the hapless hoops were royally humped at Loftus Road on Friday night. What a change from last season. With Fulham (10 points out of the last 12 against them for the Bees) next up, life is good at  the moment.

No moreso than for Romaine Sawyers. He answered last weekend’s terrace boo boys in some style. His second half strike to give us a 2-0 lead is already an early contender for goal of the season and had the fans in raptures.

Romaine’s strike the pick of the highlights

I could watch this one again and again and again. And I have. Sure, the QPR defence looked holier than the Pope (and were about as benevolent) but you still need the technique to put it away. What. A. Finish.

“The look on his face before he hit it”, opined one terrace wag to me, “you just knew what was going to happen”. And sure enough, it did. It was the perfect reaction to last Saturday against Barnsley where the player’s substitution was cheered by sections of the Griffin Park crowd.

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View from the terrace – the net starts to bulge

Dean Smith would later tell Bees official how chuffed he was, feeling Romaine had been harshly treated.  “I am chuffed for Romaine because I felt he got a little bit harshly treated on Saturday but that was more frustration at how the game was going at the time rather than Romaine himself,” Dean said.

Whilst, understandably, I think there’s an element of protecting his player in that statement Romaine was the first to admit he hadn’t had a good one on Saturday. What a beautiful way to respond and how wonderful to see all the deserved plaudits.

But it isn’t just Romaine. Brentford gave a fantastic team effort that made QPR look hugely inadequate. It was an effort personified by Josh Clarke, my MOTM, ripping Rangers to shreds before grabbing the first goal just before half time. The ever impressive youngster weaved through the box to find the back of the net for 1-0. The crowd went bonkers . The QPR fans went for an early cuppa.

It was a goal which had been coming after an opening 15 mins where the teams had tested each other and Brentford had been happy to build into the match. But build they did and, aside from a brief flurry at the start of the second half, there was no doubt.Things were as confident and calm at the back as you could have hoped for. QPR weren’t even given half a chance to get back into a game that had barely seen them involved.

Oh, Dean Smith. If you are reading this (you aren’t) what a way to bounce back after the disappointment, and somewhat unusual team selection, of last season. The team were up for it. The fans were up for it. QPR were blown away – on and off the pitch.

Standing for the full 90 minutes and cheering as one, the goals were rightly, and wonderfully, celebrated. It was a marked contrast from some of the angry sniping and backbiting that had accompanied out previous visit.

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Fans celebrate Josh Clarke’s opener

The Bees fans were impeccably behaved – no bad thing given the totally apathetic, and confrontational, attitude of the stewards. Over crowding on the steps and in the stands eventually having to be self-policed as everybody made room for each other . The alleged safety staff’s only response being to stop supporters with tickets getting into their designated blocks. “Just go somewhere else” one said to me before common sense prevailed.

Hmm. Try that one with a Millwall or West Ham, based on current form, and lets see where that gets you. That said, certainly not a problem in the home end where, with the game approaching its denouement and Brentford still 2-0 up, there seems to have been some form of fire drill.

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I’m sure this was full earlier. Still 8 minutes to go

And it wasn’t just in the stands that we were watching a first win at Loftus Road in 52 years. Supporters tuned in from all round the world to enjoy this one.

The only sour note on the field of play was the injury to Lewis Macleod. Having finally overcome all those niggles and knocks, he has been looking like the player we could only hope he was. So the sight of him being given an oxygen mask and then stretchered off after a lengthy delay for treatment to a knee injury was not a good one. Fingers crossed it was precautionary but I fear that’s nothing more than blind optimism.

Whilst all our thoughts are with Lewis, let’s end this one on a high note. Who else but Mr. Brentford, Peter Gilham, to pop up and give his opinion on our 2-0 win.

Now bring on Fulham!

Nick Bruzon

Better than Chesney? Has Arsenal wunderkind finally been surpassed?

20 Sep

Brentford 5. Newcastle United, Birmingham, Huddersfield 6. QPR 14. Rotherham 20. Not the odds on winning September’s manager of the month award but, infact, the total goals conceded by the respective teams after 8 Championship games. And in the case of the Bees, one man has a huge part to play in that stat – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

 Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST. 

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bentley – a model professional

 

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Bill makes an early call. And he’s not alone

 

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Chesney – the legend

e?

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Nick Bruzon

Sam, Scott and Sergi in a Field of dreams

1 May

Oh, where to begin? That was stunning. Saturday afternoon saw Brentford dispose of Fulham with what Sky Sports would later describe in their match report as “an emphatic 3-0 rout”. We had a special guest in the Bees Player commentary box  whilst Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos gave a big clue about his future.

Yet the scoreline and that narrative doesn’t even begin to tell half the story of a game played out in front of a 12,300 full house at Griffin Park.

Pre-match had seen Brentford fans in buoyant mood if not somewhat intrigued by head coach Dean Smith’s team selection. Robbed of Lasse Vibe, Jake Bidwell and Alan McCormack though injury, it really looked a patched up outfit. One held together by …gaffer tape, if you will?

Field? Who’s he? Is that a typo”, seemed to be the general consensus around the ground as we all wondered just who the new left back was. In fact (Tom) Field was no typo but a player plucked so deep from the development squad that he didn’t even feature on the back page of the match day programme.

But what a start! Well played that man. Despite the pressure of a first team debut Tom was magnificent. He looked composed, positive and it was he who instigated the first goal. With Fulham pressing he broke up the attack, turned it over and the ball eventually found itself to the demi-god that is Sam Saunders via Sergi Canos.

Sam made the finish look effortless. Moving through acres of space in the Fulham defence he timed it perfectly to run on to the Spaniard’s through ball and float a delightful first time lob over Bettinelli in the visitor’s goal.

Tom Field

Tom Field – a debut to remember

Just 5 or 7 (depending on how your watch is set…..) minutes on the clock and Brentford already a goal up. But if Griffin Park erupted for that one, it went bonkers just two minutes later as Scott Hogan doubled the lead after being put through by Kerschbaumer.

It wasn’t even ten past three and the Bees were already two up. This was just ludicrous. But it would get even better. That man Hogan, again, grabbing his second of the afternoon and Brentford’s third just before half-time. Direct from a corner. That’s not a typo either. A corner whipped in by hero of the hour Tom Field and volleyed home by Scott.

The crowd exploded. Peter Gilham lost it. In the best possible sense. “The scorer of Brentford’s third goal…Yoannnn Barbettttt !!!…. I think, ” and then after the briefest of pauses, “ No. It was Scott Hogan. Who cares !!!!

Bottles were launched at the celebrating striker. Fulham fans booed their own team. “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” was the cry. Three up at half time and surely this could only better.

Sadly for those wanting a fairy tale ending, head coach Dean Smith wisely opted to rest Hogan for the second half. Tom Field was also subbed early, leaving to a hero’s round of applause. Yet not as big as the one which Sam Saunders would eventually get.

Sam Saunders v Fulham (1)

View from the Braemar. Sam – a magnificent 7

The second period passed in somewhat of a blur. Sergi Canos had one nailed on shout for a penalty denied but, in the end, it was ‘only’ 3-0 when the referee called a halt to proceedings.

Brentford were simply magnificent . All of them. Andy Gogia, especially, impressed me whilst David Button pulled off a couple of great stops when the visitors eventually got through. Yet to overly single anybody out on this most wonderful of afternoons would be unfair.

Statistically speaking, Scott Hogan is going to present us with a conundrum at the season end. Even ‘official’ twitter were on form yesterday as they noted :

Scott Hogan recordAt this rate he’s averaging about 6 goals every 90 minutes of football. Now there’s reward for the faith Matthew Benham and Neil Greig’s medical team have shown. No pressure for next season 🙂

Brentford are 10th . We’re 14 points clear of a Fulham team against whom our record in the last two seasons reads.

Played: 4.  Won: 3.  Drawn: 1.  Lost: 0.  Goals For :11.  Goals Against: 4.  Points: 10.

Writing this on Sunday morning, I can’t wait for midday when the chance to watch the YouTube highlights presents itself. Mark Burridge was joined by Dave Morley and super fan Natalie Sawyer in the Bees Player commentary box where, I am in no doubt, things reached fever pitch.

Mark Burridge and Natalie Sawyer

Our commentator par-excellence was joined by Natalie.

As for Sergi Canos. Could we have seen his last game for the Bees? At least, at Griffin Park.

After the match he gave a strong hint that he’d be heading back to Liverpool, as he took to twitter where he thanked fans, saying:

Wow. That was incredible!! Last game for me in Griffin Park… Will always be in my heart. Thanks for everything. What a year has been for me…

Who knows what plans Dean and Matthew Benham have in regards to potential transfer targets over the summer, if any. Likewise, who knows where Jürgen Klopp sees the young Spaniard fitting in at Anfield. If he is deemed ready, of course.

Like Alex Pritchard before him, I think we’ve seen our time with Sergi but I’d love it if he was to return. That said, if his future is elsewhere then at least he has left us with this thought…

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 06.24.00

Sergi nails it on Twitter

Sergi. I can’t top that.

If it really was your last game at Griffin Park then all we can say is: THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

Can we learn anything from these stats?

15 Mar

No irony was lost as strikers Bradley Clayton and Scott Hogan turned out for the Brentford development squad against QPR on Monday. With Blackburn Rovers up next, was this a message? And, if so, from who to who?

I still don’t understand Dean Smith’s logic in starting our Championship game against QPR with no recognised striker but Flemming Pedersen certainly put his front men through their paces yesterday. In a 0-0 where the Bees were reported to have had the vast majority of the action, I’d imagine he’ll have felt slightly disappointed to come away without the win.

That said, a full game for Bradley and 75 minutes for Scott can only be seen as a positive. Was this with a view to one of them stepping up to the first team squad for the visit of Blackburn Rovers? Or have the likes of Lasse Vibe and Marco Djuricin now learned whatever lesson Dean Smith was trying to teach them?

Personally, I’m still not sure what he hoped to achieve or what that lesson was. This, despite the ‘explanation’ offered in the post match press conferences.

Given the current ‘form’ (as much a breach of trades descriptions as the previously used term, ‘explanation’) I hope Dean is able to return is to some type of normality. Whatever that is.

One New Road observer has shared the following graphic with me to illustrate the reversal of fortune we currently find ourselves experiencing . Points earned in our previous managers’ last ten games.

image

Point for point, both Terry Butcher and even Marinus (yes, you read that correctly), are showing as having inspired their teams to have out scored our current set up. The latter achieving this in a game less, given he was dismissed after a mere 9 Championship fixtures.

Being honest, I have had to call this graphic into question a little. If for no other reason than was Leroy’s record really as good as 3 points from 30? Those who sat through the sad end to his time at Griffin Park would probably dispute we even did that well.

But no, he swears it’s the genuine article and, frankly, I’m too lazy to trawl back through the record books and tick back through a catalogue of, mostly, doom and gloom.

Either way, it doesn’t make great reading and just shows to highlight our current predicament of sliding the wrong way down the table. 7(seven) points off relegation, surely that gap is too big to consider. Certainly the bookmakers think so, seeing us as 100-1 to suffer that fate despite the ignominy of the reverse at Loftus Road.

With a game in hand on the teams below us, who only have 9 left to play, it would need a pretty disastrous swing. Albeit one that is mathematically possible. But with Charlton and Rotherham both finding their form these last few games, and the Bees still to play 6 of those in that basement region, let’s not get complacent. A morale boosting win at home to Blackburn on Saturday will be just what the doctor ordered.

After season after season of good results, we had to hit a bump in the road eventually. Life isn’t always easy. Likewise, please don’t anybody take this as me calling for a return to the Dijkhuizen or Butcher eras.

I’m sure Dean would love to be able to picture a scene where things were that comfortable he could put his feet up, watch Natalie Sawyer read out the scores and relax as the results roll in whilst nibbling on a slice of cranberry and orange cake. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Instead we and he are just going to have to, dare I say it, “go again”. It’s time to roll up the sleeves and maybe wear a heart on them. Both at the training ground and then against Blackburn this weekend. The points will come – I’d just be a lot happier if it was sooner than later.

Nick Bruzon

Exclusive. Big Reveal. Huge Announcement – we go again today

10 Mar

As marketing strategies go, it would be fair to say that the team at Beesotted have certainly hit a winner. Brentford fans are sure to be standing by social media and other sources after yesterday’s announcement about a major exclusive hasn’t, quite, been fulfilled. Yet. With the Beesotted team assuring us it should now come today (Thursday) could we go into the QPR game at the weekend with a renewed spring in our step?

Beesotted exc

Here was the lead – who will be left with ‘egg on face’?

Bees supporters have been on baited breath as to what could be coming next. Dave, Jon, Billy (Grant, not Reeves) and the team are normally bang on the money when it comes to breaking news.

This, unlike the scattergun approach of the local press who seem to have a two-fold approach of: a) throw enough rumours and exclusives around that, eventually, one may transpire to be true and b) break down each line of an interview into a standalone flabby ‘exclusive’ about nothing more than the fact that Dean Smith is hoping things have improved on the training ground or Harlee/Sergi/Sam/Nico (delete as applicable) is hoping the boys will pick themselves up and ‘go again’.

So when Beesotted make an announcement such as this, people really should take notice and standby for what comes next. At a time when Brentford ‘official’ seems to have the reaction speed of John Terry piloting a turning oil tanker (i.e. very slow) – see ‘Toumani Diagouraga to Leeds, when his picture in their tracksuit was all over social media for two days prior to the ‘news’ being ‘revealed’ – could Billy and his crew have beaten them to the punch once more?

That said, the delay on this ‘reveal’ has been one that has resulted in a lot of good natured banter – both directed to and returned in bucketlaods by the chaps over at Beesotted Towers. You can see the full set of comments on their Twitter page but, for me, highlights included:

@BeesBanter: When its finally published we’ll celebrate like we’ve won the cup

@TinpotGamer: Looks like you lacked character and commitment out there today. Presumably you will go again.

@olde_coalface: Monorail? (kids, ask your dads)

There’s plenty more out there and, most importantly, going both ways. At a time when a lot of people are seeing nothing but doom and gloom, how refreshing to be reminded that there is still a sense of humour alive and kicking amongst the Brentford family.

What better way to head into Saturday’s 237 derby with QPR than in such high spirits! And if, or rather when, this story is revealed, I have no doubt it’s going to be up there with the best that Beesotted have given us in the past.

Today could be very interesting indeed.

Twitter comms re news

Just a smattering of the good humour on display

Nick Bruzon