Tag Archives: pitch

Surprise inspiration from Richie and Mark as Bees twiddle their thumbs this weekend.

24 Mar

This is the time of season that these pages normally express an element of frustration with International break. Very much one of the downsides of Championship life, Brentford have now got another eight days to wait until the home double header against Bristol City and Leeds United. The king of comebacks against Burton Albion already seems a distant memory although Sergi Canos did take to Twitter yesterday to remind us  all how wonderful that was.

Sergi – a dab hand with the air guitar, too

So, what to do whilst we await City and Leeds? Well, this round of Internationals is slightly different in that we do have some additional interest. Whilst it’s not unusual to see Andreas Bjelland and Lasse Vibe selected for Denmark, John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad when they take on Wales in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Even if you have no Irish or Welsh affiliation, the chance to see one of our team make his international debut (subject to final team selection) has to be better than Liechtenstein v Macedonia on the red button or, worse, a double header of Coronation Street. If nothing else, with the Irish rugby team having played at the Avvia last weekend when they scuppered England’s Grand Slam aspirations, it will be very interesting to see how the surface holds up less than a week later.

With permission having been given to London Irish to ground share at Lionel Road, Brentford supporters are, not surprisingly, questioning the integrity of the playing surface. The likes of Sergi and Jota better suited to playing on a billiard table rather than a ploughed field. And that is meant metaphorically; I’ve never seen either at Rileys in Twickenham.

All of which is great, but then it does leave us with a blank slot in the diary on Saturday. Well, how about getting on your bike? Quite literally. With the mornings getting lighter there’s never been a better time to undertake a bit of exercise whilst, at the same time, enjoying the fresh air. Personally, I’ve just started doing this again – triggered predominantly by my own lack of exercise. The realisation has finally set in that FIFA on the PS4 does not count no matter how many times I’ve tried to tell myself since Christmas.

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FIFA 17 – fun but not, technically, exercise

Likewise, there’s only so many times I can convince myself that the pecs have just ‘slipped’ or that the layer of fat around the midriff is there to insulate over the cold winter months. So the beer and junk food has gone out the window (for now) whilst there’s been additional inspiration from two unlikely sources – Richie Firth on Absolute Radio and our own Mark Chapman from the Brentford media team.

Richie, speaking on the Christian O’Connell breakfast show last week, was extolling the virtues of vibrating massage plates which, when fixed to the body for twenty minute periods, would slowly burn the fat away. All well and good – aside from looking like a complete numpty as you stand around in your pants with Borg style implants affixed to the torso.

More importantly, where is the aerobic exercise? Where is the fun? Where is the smug feeling of having actually gone out and done something, then boring your mates rigid afterwards?(And yes, I see the irony).

L-R-Richie-Firth-Dr-Chris-Easton-and-Christian-OConnell-M3-2

(L-R) Richie and OC doing more traditional exercise despite the horrific attire

But it was Bees programme editor Mark Chapman who is the straw that broke the camel’s back. His own ‘fanActiv’ blog on Brentford official has been a real call to arms, with some brutally honest observations about where he was prior to starting this aswell as how things are progressing . Three blogs in (the latest was published last Friday and can be found here), I have to say that is a case of doffing my cap to him.

It’s not easy to admit you need to get up off your backside. It’s even harder to do this so publicly. Nice one Mark, and THANK YOU for the motivation. Keep up the good work and stay off the chocolate bars.

So this weekend sees another ‘dry’ one for yours truly. I’m not so naive as to pretend that by the time Bristol City and Leeds come around I won’t be out the back of The Griffin – the prematch pint is a quintessential part of football’s rich tapestry – but at least I won’t feel quite so guilty about doing it.

Lecture over. Whatever you do this weekend, have fun. If anybody is in Richmond Park on Sunday morning, I’ll be the one wheezing. But, most importantly, good luck to John Egan tonight.

We’ll all be wishing you well.

Nick Bruzon

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As the EURO winners show, what would be our Phoenix From The Flames ?

18 Jun

With EURO2016 now fully underway, Friday’s games saw Spain crank things up a notch and Croatia lose it – on and off the pitch. With much of what involves the England fans dividing opinion and generating some very contrasting views from those ‘on the ground’, there was no doubting what we saw on our TV screens yesterday. Plus, in an effort to blow away the current glut of Griffin Park tumbleweed, we have Brentford thoughts, updates and pictures.

First up, Croatia. 2-0 up and cruising against the Czech Republic, not only did they throw it away to be held 2-2 but their ‘fans’ have, surely, lined them up as the next nation to be given a suspended disqualification alongside Russia. This, after a shower of flares and firecrackers descended onto the pitch from the Croatian end as the game reached it’s denouement.

Combined with fighting amongst their own fans, they were ugly scenes that also saw one steward lucky to escape injury as a device went off in his face. Slaven Bilic, talking as part of the ITV panel for the Spain game, attempted to quantify it with the observation that “There are many fans who are against the FA”. That these are protests against a perceived Zagreb bias in Croatian football.

I can’t comment either way on that. My knowledge of the wider problems in European football extends about as far as when Gibraltar’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Belgium is going to take place. But what I can say is that, like the flare launched at England fans during the Russia game, one can only wonder again how security – with France on its highest state of alert – is working? Moreso, just what can UEFA do, if anything, to stop what should have been a wonderful tournament (and still can be) turning into one which will as much be remembered for all the wrong reasons?

As for Spain, a second clean sheet and three goals against Turkey saw them step up an ominous gear. Wth many people’s favourites France leaving it late to record their second victory, the Spaniards by contrast made their six points look simple. After 61% possession, 707 passes and 18 shots (although with goals to match those stats)  they’re already in to 10/3. Forget patriotism – grab that price whilst you can.

Just one other observation on the Spain game, which comes courtesy of Jamie Lovell (@jtlovell1979 ) on Twitter. I can’t take the credit for this but he put into words, wonderfully, the exasperation many of us were suffering from at the hands (or voice) of co-commentator Tony Pulis.

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For me, Clive

Look positive Jamie, at least it wasn’t Glenn Hoddle

Ok, back home and Brentford. I took a stroll past Griffin Park yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to stick my head over the wall. I have to say the pitch is looking wonderful already.

Granted, the club took the steps to dig it up as soon as we’d played our last ‘home’ game ( if I recall, some sort of thrashing administered to Fulham, wasn’t it?). That, following the pitch-gate shocker at the start of the season.

But, you have to say, credit for what seems to be a job well done already. Here’s to seeing how the Bees perform on it when Championship action recommences in August.

Griffin PArk June 2016

The pitch is looking luxuriant

And when it does, Brentford will find themselves joint 7th (seventh) favourites for the title. Checking my online bookmaker for research purposes this morning, this odds are now up and we’re priced 20/1.

Somewhat stingy for a team who, by our own head coach’s admission, were in a relegation scrap as recently as March? Or easy money for a team who have rediscovered the way to goal via Scott Hogan and those signings who have now ‘bedded in’ to the side? Either way, this is how the bookies see the Championship at present.

And finally, Euro ’96. Kind of. With the football in everybody’s faces at the moment, even the radio is getting in on the act. You can’t move on Absolute Radio at present for World in Motion or Three Lions. Which is no bad thing.

The latter, especially, bringing back all sorts of memories. And not just about how terrifyingly bad David Baddiel was at singing. Seriously, that was the best take?

But talk on the subject amongst some of my Brentford supporting friends led from there to the TV show from which it sprang, Fantasy Football League (of course, co-hosted by Frank Skinner). In particular, the ‘Phoenix From The Flames’ segment in which a famous moment from footballing days gone by would be recreated on a council pitch, featuring the original protagonists.

Specifically, conversation got onto the topic of which Brentford moment would we recreate? Perhaps with the wonderful Sean Ridley and Jo Tilley in the Baddiel and Skinner roles ?

That penalty’ is perhaps too obvious Besides, having not really been discussed in the media after the event, people might not remember. Other topics for consideration included:

Mike Grella destroying Bournemouth; Jota v Fulham; Paul Hayes and Will Grigg being less than on fire when taking home debut penalties; promotion v Preston; Gary Blissett knocking Manchester City out of the FA cup and inciting a banana wielding pitch invader; DJ Campbell giving Gary Breen nightmares.

In the end, though, we settled on cup action. Against Everton. Richard Lee’s penalty saves were the highlight for many but, equally, the pre-game footage of the respective club mascots still gets a watch every now and then.

Whilst the respective kids must be close to teenagers now, that would almost add to the recreation. That said, I’m not sure if we could afford Leighton Baines’ appearance fee.

Could this be recreated, Phoenix style?

Until then, here’s to a weekend of six games and, hopefully, some more magical moments.

Nick Bruzon

As next season already tantalises, there’s a new ‘worst kit ever’.

13 May

Whilst the likes of Brentford and Burton Albion supporters may well be looking forward to next season’s trip to Newcastle United, unsurprisingly news of the Magpies’ relegation to the Championship hasn’t gone down well in the North-East. We’ve got a new entrant to the worst kit of all time c/o CD Palencia from Spain (where else?) and then’s even news, of sorts, from Griffin Park.

First up, Newcastle United. I only mention them purely because of the most amusing tweet I’ve seen this week. One that surpasses even the quote attributed to former Sunderland player Jack Colback which has been doing the rounds of social media. The highlight of which was the line : “I have absolutely no intention of playing in the Championship and that’s why I’m joining Newcastle.”

It would be safe to say that @hasarnn10 isn’t overly enamoured about the fate awaiting his team next season. Certainly if the below is to be believed.

Newcastle fan

Well Graziano, I think you’ll find we do.

Whilst it would be easy to launch into paragraphs of diatribe on the nonsensical quote, life’s too short. Sadly for Newcastle fans their team gave up any right to play in the amazing stadiums of the Premier League next time out and so, instead, we’ll simply file this one away for when our paths cross next season.

As one final observation, no sooner has temporary manger Rafa Benitez up and left (on Steve McClaren’s brolly ???) than  editor-in-chief for Trinity Mirror North East, Darren Thwaites, has launched an impassioned plea on behalf of ‘The Geordie Nation’, begging him to return.

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Whilst Darren’s Twitter feed has since backtracked on the whole ‘Geordie Nation’ thing, at the time of writing over 9,000 supporters have already signed the petition. Being quite selfish, I hope Darren fails in his mission.

Certainly, to the outsider looking in, Rafa almost hauled them out of the mire that Shteve had left the Magpies in.

With Brentford placing 5th and 9th in the Championship these last two seasons, there’ll be a lot of expectation for another strong finish.A Benitez led Newcastle United are surely going to be an additional hurdle in that aim.

Then again, it’s all the sweeter getting one over a ‘big’ team, given how tinpot we are and all that. On a totally unrelated note,  a big hello to any Leeds United fans reading. Hey, you never know.

rafa brolly (b&w)

Will Rafa return?

Ok, crazy kits. Spain has long been the market leader in the ridiculous shirt. Every year, it seems as though there is an unofficial competition thing place in the Spanish lower leagues to come up with the most outrageous shirt possible.

Over the last few seasons these pages have seen ‘the tuxedo’, ‘the octopus’, the beer shirt’  and, of course the king of them all – La Hoya’s ‘broccoli’ kit.

Stop. The king is dead. Long live the king. We have a new pretender to the throne. Third division team CD Palencia have started to flex their muscle, quite literally, with their latest effort.

Even worse, their Kappa branded kit commits that most heinous of sartorial crimes by continuing the design onto this shorts. I have no idea if Kitman Bob or chief executive Mark Devlin are reading but, if so, here’s hoping we aren’t going to emulate this…..

CD Palencia

CDPalencia model their si-new kit

And finally, Brentford. Is Sam Saunders releasing holiday snaps ? Is this another picture of last season’s pitch?  Or is it simply that after last campaign’s pitch gate affair (which, of course, you can catch up on in the Last Word season review) it seems we are taking no chances this time around.

Visitors to Griffin Park would have seen the pitch being taken up before we’d even thumped Huddersfield Town 5-1 in the final game of the season last Saturday. A photograph was published on ‘official’ Twitter yesterday to show similar work is already under way at our Jersey Road training ground.

This is only good news. I don’t recall patchwork starting quite so soon in the past. If nothing else, there’s usually time for those end of season ‘workplace’ run outs and the ‘Bees Legends’ game.

Instead, there’s no let up in the pace for Brentford. Off the field, the players may be on holiday. Back in TW8, it’s already full steam ahead for August.

This could be a long three months…..

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Simon Moore just off camera

Nick Bruzon

Honours for Alan and Andre as a star is born

18 Apr

Alan Judge. He may have been missing from Saturday’s draw with Bristol City but he was the centre of attention on Sunday as Brentford went head to head with Burnley and  Fulham to see which club would have the honour of their man being selected as ‘Championship player of the season’. With the Judge up against former Bee Andre Gray and Cottager Ross McCormack in the final three, the winner was announced on Sunday evening.

It was a tremendous honour for Alan even to be named in this group. From the outside looking in, Brentford have failed to match last seasons heights and limped into mid-table after losing huge swathes of that squad. We’ve had to rebuild the team (and the pitch) yet Alan has been consistently brilliant.

The leading number of assists in the division is matched with his being top scorer for the Bees. Selection for the Irish National team saw a very real chance of his playing in the Euro 2016 finals, until that awful leg break suffered last weekend.

Judge pic 2

Would Alan run off with the award?

His being shortlisted for this award was fully deserved but, in the end, it was the goalscoring prowess of Andre Gray that was telling. Massive congratulations are due to Andre as he not only picked up where he left off last season but has gone even better with Burnley knocking on the door of the Premier League once more. Thanks in no small part to his ability in front of goal.

Hey, in part this award was earned at Griffin Park. Whilst his sale to Burnley seemed inevitable given all the talk over the summer, Andre did start the season as a Bee. Indeed, his two game cameo saw goals against Ipswich Town and Bristol City as Brentford made it 4 points from our opening 6.   The rest though, is history.

Well done Andre. Fully deserved and, I have no doubt, his career will only go on to bigger and better things. I can’t wait to see how he does in the top flight next season.

That said , there was still great news for Alan. Whilst he may have just missed out on ‘Championship player of the season’ he did make it in to ’ ‘Team of the Season’ . This new award names the 11 outstanding players (and a manager) across all three divisions of the Sky Bet Football League.

Just to show how tough this one was, only 6 of the 11 slots went to Championship players whilst fellow nominee Ross McCormack missed out on selection. Interestingly, the League website tells us that selection was made as “a national judging panel then chose the final Football Manager Team of the Season with Opta’s player statistics assisting”.

See? Stats aren’t all bad 🙂 And does this mean we’ll have our eyes on any of the below over the summer…..?

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The League team of the season

Ok. A few other things from the weekend. Firstly, Toumani. He’s only been with Leeds United for three months and now he’s scored again. Ironic enough he did it on his full debut after keeping us hanging for so long but to nab a second so soon is just rubbing salt into the wound. In the nicest possible sense.

Bob’s big giveaway, that ‘one-of-a-kind’ signed shirt, has officially rolled over to the Fulham game. Nobody picked ‘Hogan,90’ against Bristol City and so we all have another chance to ‘go again’. Bob made the announcement on Twitter after the game although what method he has up his sleeve to find this a home is, as yet, unknown….

And finally, everybody’s favourite club feature, Terrace Talk, was back. With a new host. Don’t panic, Jo Tilley isn’t on gardening leave but due to her role at the Fan Zone, video content manager Sean Ridley stood in as a one-off host.

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For one night only….

As the regular reader will know, I love Jo’s work on Terrace Talk but having seen this,  all I can say is…Wow!!

Was there genuine panic in her voice at the end when she told our host, “Don’t steal my job” before he went chasing a duck (literally rather than metaphorically). Whilst I can’t really comment on the quality, or lack of, amongst some of the interviewees, could Sean have found a new role for himself? Or are we just lucky enough to have not one but two roving reporters who would give Clem a run for his money?

On Tuesday night against Cardiff City, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Will Liverpool loanee feature for straight talking Marinus?

12 Sep

Brentford visit Leeds United today as part of a three day stint up North that will also see them based in the area until returning home following the game at Middlesbrough on Tuesday. After being deprived of domestic football for what seems like an eternity, thanks to the International calendar, things are now back with a bang as we get the chance to see the new look Bees squad in action.

It is a chance that I am desperate for. There is a very honest article on the club website with Marinus where even ‘official’ Brentford describe the start to the season as ‘turbulent’. I’ve made no secret on these pages as to how much I admire his straight talking and this interview is no different.

Admitting to learning more in the past two months than the previous four years, Marinus also notes, “It can be like a new beginning….“The squad is clear, we know who is in and who is out. The past few months – with not knowing who was leaving and coming in – has been difficult but now everyone knows who is in the squad and who they will compete with.”

It is that point which has been of particular resonance to all of us. Whilst, clearly, there has been some upset at the likes of Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Moses Odubajo (Hull) and Andre Gray (Burnley) all leaving, the additional injuries to the like of Jota, Bjelland and McEachran have given the squad an unexpected makeover. And not for the best.

But with several new additions and players returning to fitness, the head coach knows who he has to play with. The really interesting thing will now be who he picks to face Leeds Untied and what he does with them. I’m not even going to start trying to name the team for this one. Will Ryan Woods start? Could Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos put in an appearance? Just how good could Marco Djuricin be? Or will Marinus leave the initial tinkering to a minimum?

Could Sergi Canos be wearing a Brentford FC shirt today?

Could Sergi Canos be wearing a Brentford FC shirt today?

I don’t envy Marinus the problems he has been hit with at the start of this season. It has been a baptism of fire although, after what seems like months ago since the opening game 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town, we are only four games into the league campaign.

There’s an awful long way to go and with four points so far, the Bees have all the potential to start moving up the table. Supporter Rob Young, a guest contributor today, gives a much more eloquent take on this subject and I’d thoroughly recommend a read. I’ve kept my own thoughts a lot briefer so as not to steal his thunder.

Like Brentford, Leeds United also had four points from their first four games, until an excellent win at last season’s high fliers Derby County last time out saw them hit the magical 7(seven) marker. They’ll be ferocious opponents today and, no doubt, keen to avoid the double defeat inflicted on them by the Bees last season.

Uwe will, of course, have personal pride at stake here and with the Elland Road outfit seeming much more settled, the only thing I will predict is a much tougher challenge ahead of us today.

Back home, the spruce up of Griffin Park mentioned in yesterday’s article continues. The good news is that the Braemar Road forecourt does, indeed, seem to be incorporating the return of red and white stripes. This is great news for us traditionalists / older fans who recall these with fondness from back in the day.

Now, if Mr Benham could go the whole ‘retro’ hog and also give us a giant Castle badge or perhaps even a Funky Bee….

Griffin Park paint job - day 2. Is this the return of Stripes?

Griffin Park paint job – day 2. Is this the return of Stripes?

Nick Bruzon

Is there any Bank holiday fallout or just some perspective?

31 Aug

Calmed down yet after the Reading result? Some Brentford fans were sending Twitter into a GPG level of meltdown last night with a series of rants that were as tragic as they were hilarious. I love this club as much as anybody but we’re only played four league games this season. Brentford have an identical record to Chelsea (P4 W1 D1 L2) and victory in the ‘games in hand’ will take us to within a point of the play offs.

Absolutely, some of the ‘sideways’ football being played has been at odds with what we have been used to recently but as has been said before, we do have a new team. Likewise, the sale and replacement of club favourites has been frustrating for many and I can well sympathise with that, too.

If anything, we’ve been spoiled rotten by success over the previous four or five seasons. I’ve seem some real dross at Griffin Park in the 35+ years I’ve been a supporter yet the last few campaigns have been nothing brilliant. We don’t have a divine right to win anything or buy our way to the top like Chelsea or Manchester City (who found another £55 million just yesterday for Kevin de Bruyne).

Instead, I’d love to see some positivity and get some perspective. And let’s start with the head coach. It would be wonderful if Marinus could get involved a bit with the players or with the fans. This may not be his style and he may not feel he needs to but, come on man, go through the motions at the very least.

Clearly he has passion and cares – look at the tongue-lashings administered to the fourth officials. So why does this not carry over to the crowd or the players – at least in the public eye?

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the 'action'

Marinus can cut a lone figure as he observes the ‘action’

It’s amazing the psychological impact that having a manager (whatever) who seems to give a damn can have on the supporters. I wrote yesterday that this lack of interaction, “still sits uncomfortably with me. It really will be something we all have to adjust to over the coming months.” And adjust we will, but it would be nice if Marinus could make some attempt to meet us half way.

Then there are the fans at Griffin Park. Supporter James Norwood contacted me yesterday with his own thoughts on the atmosphere, or lack of, saying:

“I have never, ever seen Griffin Park so silent. Seen, as I couldn’t hear anything, except the Reading fans who cheered on their team throughout. The score line and the teams’ on field efforts reflected the silence. I tweeted as such and many Reading fans (unfortunately) retweeted it. These are young men and they got minimal support from the stands.

The entire first half, we applauded but we never sang a note. The vocal fans from Berkshire helped out with choruses of “Your support is f*****g s**t,” and “shall we sing a song for you.” No wonder we were 2 nil down by the break and lucky not to be 5 nil down.”

He goes on with his analysis, noting: “How different from the atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium and the free flowing football thanks to the referee Martin Atkinson, who offered a refreshing approach after the disaster of the referee who officiated our match with Reading and in the words of Belle and Sebastian “gave us f**k all.”

I am a Brentford fan and I have been so since 1992 and will be until the day I die, but I have never known any other club to give so little in terms of vocal support. Yes, we pay, yes we show up, and yes we are great critics, but we’re not great supporters and that translates into the players confidence on the field.

Maxime Colin, in his Brentford website interview ahead of his first game said “I hope that I will play my first home game on Saturday. My friends tell me that the fans are very loud and strongly behind the team.” I think he was thinking about another team.“

Ok. Time for a bit of positivity with the ‘other stuff’ from the weekend. Amidst all the noise I’ve not seen much mention of how well the pitch took following the previously documented debacle. As one observer on the New Road noted: ‘No holes or sand, took the water well and played nicely when we bothered

At least that is one area we should, all being well, not need to worry about ongoing.

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading's kit

The pitch (c/o James Norwood) looked lot better than Reading’s kit

And then there was Channel 5 and their latest episode of Football League Tonight. It seems they have taken further feedback on board with another attempt to remove the gormless planks standing behind Kelly and George from our eyeline.

I don’t mean Adam Virgo but, rather, the additional supporters loitering near the ‘big screens’ and studio walls, cluttering up every interview shot.

Whilst a few still remained visible, the vast majority are now ‘off camera’, meaning we could focus on the (still somewhat awkward) interviews.

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

These loitering numpties are a thing of the past . Virgo remains

This show lurched onto our screens as a screaming car crash but the producers have, to be fair, listened to what supporters want and, over the course of the next few weeks, moved to a more traditional model.

There’s a crowbarred analogy I could stick in here but not even I’m that unsubtle. Instead, let’s just all have some faith.

And, finally, Jota has had a haircut. The talismanic midfielder may currently be suffering from an ankle injury but he took to social media at the weekend (Instantgram, I believe) to show off his new look. I’ll leave the sartorial comments to his admirers, of whom there seem to be a few, and instead let’s just hope this throws any would-be suitors off the scent ahead of the transfer window slamming shut on Tuesday.

Same player; new hair. Move along, there's no Jota here

Same player; new hair. Move along, there’s no Jota here

What have we learned the morning after the night before?

30 Aug

Reading were the first to try out the new pitch at Brentford but, for the Bees, it was a case of going over the same old ground as Marinus Dijkhuizen’s team slipped to a second successive defeat. A 1-3 scoreline was the net result of a performance that our head coach has described as “very, very weak on the ball” (in the first half), during his post match interviews.

If you want a detailed match report then, as ever, check out the BBC, Beesotted or the official club site. Let’s look at some of the other stuff.

Marinus is wonderfully honest in his post match analysis. There’s no looking to gloss over the facts or hide behind bland platitudes. The latest gentle probing administered by Billy Reeves produced an incredibly frank review of our performance in which he told the BBC man: “Today the first half was, I think, awful from our side. The second half was not brilliant.”

He went further, singling out individuals, “A couple of guys were not good in the game. Toumani was one… Phillip Hofmann has a big body but first half he lost too much fight

The flip side of Marinus, and something also noted in the analysis of the League Cup hammering by Oxford United, is his lack of body language, pitchside. I’ve got to be honest, I do find this unusual.

Perhaps it is just his thing. An attempt to generate an aura of calmness that will emanate through the team. The lack of any direction or animation, beyond berating the fourth official, seems unusual for a side on the back foot. Moreso, the lack of any acknowledgement of the crowd at full time.

Does it make a difference? One could argue that somebody waving his arms and directing the team like a drunken octopus conducting an orchestra is simply something that we are used to. That a bunch of grown men and trained professionals who know their game plan shouldn’t need a manager (sorry, head coach) to tell them what to do. And that if any on pitch direction is needed then that’s what the captain is for.

Yet, this still sits uncomfortably with me. It really will be something we all have to adjust to over the coming months. Cliff Crown, in his programme article describes Brentford FC as currently being in “times of transition”, before noting that ”Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Whatever your thoughts at present, the Chairman’s article really gives some food for thought as he also discusses transfer policy, sales, contracts and the tough financial position that the club are in relative to our divisional rivals. If you read one page in the matchday magazine then do make it this one.

Cliff Crown - wrote a fascinating column in yesterday's programme

Cliff Crown – wrote a fascinating column in yesterday’s programme

That said, we’re barely into a season that has one hell of a long way to run. Ten games is the usual yardstick before we can give a real assessment of who are the title favourites and who might be flirting with the first division. I’m not even contemplating either option until this new look side and set up have had a time to properly gel. With the transfer window not closing until Tuesday, there still could be more in, or out.

One person we do know will be joining the club is striker Marco Djuricin, who Marinus confirmed is coming in on loan from Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg. With Lasse Vibe finding the net against Reading with a wonderful strike, could this further option up front provide more ammunition? I’m not sure if Marinus was showing a sense of humour or dead panning Billy when he answered the question, “What will he bring to the team?”, with the confirmation “I hope some goals“.

Sam Saunders is also fit again, making an appearance against Reading from the bench. With fellow substitute Alan McCormack back in the midfield role we first signed him in, along with a new starter in right back Maxime Colin both earning praise from the Griffin Park crowd, the set up is already seeing change.

Our polar number 7 (seven) returns to the Griffin Park fray.

Our popular number 7 (seven) returns to the Griffin Park fray.

It will take time for this all to come together. Have no doubt. That said, I’ve every confidence it will come together. Too much time and money has been invested in getting this club promoted to throw this away. Too many tears shed and heartache endured over the years to give up on this side, as many seem to be doing already.

If nothing else, we’re only four games in. Just four games. Let’s all get a grip.

There’s as much crazy talk out there on social media as there is level headed realisation. We’ve got two weeks to all catch our breath and take stock before the trips to Leeds United and Middlesbrough.

The club has adopted a risky strategy, that’s for sure, but one which has our long term best intentions at heart. All this change is bound to unsettle some supporters.

Let’s just please give things a chance.

Nick Bruzon

Is Matthew Benham having a change of heart as a hero returns for Reading?

29 Aug

The pitch is laid and Reading await. We have a new p.a. system set to ‘go live’ whilst there is the small matter of Sam Saunders being back in the squad. After defeat at Burnley last weekend and, all being well, the turf malfunction now being rectified, perhaps we can approach Saturday’s game with even more of a spring in the step than usual.

First up, the pitch. It’s been no secret how bad this has looked with everybody from Reading boss Steve Clarke to Marinus weighing in on the subject and, as such, no surprise that this week has seen the surface entirely re-laid.

Whilst an article on the official site has advised fans they may notice “small join lines when attending Saturday’s match” we’ve also been promised this won’t affect play. Marinus has also gone on record as saying that when he saw it earlier in the week, it was looking “very good”.

The 'official' pitch photo released by the club this week

The ‘official’ pitch photo released by the club this week

Of course, the real acid test will begin at 3pm Saturday but, one would hope, we can put an end to the problems that have blighted Griffin Park so far this campaign. And with the onset of International break after the Reading game, fingers will be crossed that if we get through this one unscathed then it really will be a case of ‘business as usual’ when we use it again in late September.

Aswell as the pitch, supporters will also be treated to the ‘beefed up’ public address system. Any regular reader to these pages will know that the tinny sound quality and inaudible announcements on the Ealing Road have long been a source of frustration.

Now, we’ve been promised, “a significant improvement to the quality of both music and announcements by Peter Gilham on matchday in all home areas.” By quality of music, I can only presume they mean the noise levels rather than Big Bees Radio’s selection of the latest 45”s. To be fair, our in house DJ has been on a very much rockier vibe so let’s hope that continues.

One place music is definitely not welcome at Griffin Park is to help celebrate goals. Other clubs have opted for the use of “Goal Music”, something I can’t stand. It’s up there with ‘half and half’ scarves as things that should not be allowed within a square mile of a football stadium.

If you really need a burst of “Chelsea Dagger” or “Let me Entertain You” to help liven proceedings after finding the back of the net then there’s something seriously wrong. To be fair, there’s something seriously wrong about needing The Fratellis in any walk of life, but that’s another column for another day.

At least Matthew Benham is in agreement on this one. He has taken to Twitter several times in the past to confirm that this is something that Brentford will never do.

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

Not my words but those of Matthew Benham

So it was with interest I watched the game between FC Midtjylland (of course, his other club) and Southampton on Thursday night. What should we get as the Danes took the lead but a snatch of Coldplay (Viva La Vida, I believe) to help ‘lift’ the mood further.

It seemed a random choice at best. Coldplay, officially the wettest band since records began, whilst certainly troubling the hit parade on more than one instance are hardly the masters of uplifting stadium rock. More crucially, is this a European ‘thing’ or could it herald a change of heart from Mr. Benham?

The thought of being treated to a snatch of ‘Jump in my Car” when The Hoff scores is too much on too many levels. Mr Benham, if you are reading then I implore you to please leave the celebrations to the crowd and the goal music to the Danes.

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

Jump in my car. Just not after a goal

That said, I’d forgive us just about anything if Sam Saunders gets to put in an appearance today and, better, celebrates with a goal. The ever popular wing wizard is finally back in the squad and with the team seemingly more concerned with going sideways and backwards at Burnley, I’d love to see him let loose on Reading.

To be fair, I think we’ll see a much more attacking display anyway. Marinus has made no secret of how important three points are to him today. Maxime Colin was one of the few to come away from Turf Moor with universal plaudits and he may well start this one. With the option to push Alan Mac into centre mid and Nico Yennaris, along with Sam, also deemed fit then we could see a change or two. At the very least, on the bench.

Brentford managed to secure all six points against Reading last season and so, much like the pitch, it will be a very interesting test of how well our new squad and management are bedding in. That said, nothing is certain in football – just ask Derby County.

I couldn’t end today’s article without thanking the visitors for their stunning performance at Pride Park at the end of last campaign. Jaws dropped lower and lower as, with Derby only needing a point to secure one of the play off berths that Brentford were also fighting for, goal after goal flew in for the visitors.

Reading may not realise just how significant a part they played that afternoon in how events unfolded at Griffin Park. The excitement of relying on other (no offence) improbable results and them actually coming off – see also Blackburn Rovers thumping Ipswich – was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

Oh, how I’d love more of the same this season. Can we continue things today?

At 3pm, we find out.

Nick Bruzon

New pitch and TV cameras await Reading and QPR at Brentford

27 Aug

In the most expected piece of news since the sale of Andre Gray was confirmed, the announcement has been made that Brentford’s game with QPR has been moved to the evening of Friday 30th October. And, it seems, we have a pitch in place for the visit of Reading this weekend although, of course, whether it gets the seal of approval from Steve Clarke is another thing altogether.

Will the pitch pass muster?

Will the pitch pass muster?

So. Our first game with QPR since a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park back in February 2004 will now take place on the evening of Friday 30th October. Given the local police presence required for the following day’s rugby World Cup final at Twickenham this was only ever gong to happen. Moreso, given the lure that such a game would have held for the Sky TV camera who have also exercised their option to broadcast this one.

Aside from the ‘official site’ being mathematically challenged / supporter pedantry (delete as applicable), bringing it forwards nineteen and quarter hours does, instantly, destroy all chance of Halloween horror headlines. But it’s a small price to pay.

So, a 3pm kick off on Friday then?

So, a 3pm kick off on Friday then?

Who doesn’t enjoy a game played under the new look Griffin Park Floodlights? Moreso, one against our closest rivals with a mere 5.2 miles (that’s about an hour on the 237 bus, using London Transport timings) between TW8 and Loftus Road.

Last season saw the home game with Fulham played in the same time slot and that all ended rather well for the Bees, thanks to Harlee Dean’s piledriver and then Jota ‘doing his thing’ in the last minute. We won’t even talk about the away game, yet, suffice to say it still brings a smile to the face thinking about the 4-1 hammering.

Jota - his winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

Jota – his televised winner against Fulham at Griffin Park was quite exciting

These local games are certainly the ones we love to win and hate to lose. We’ve got four of them this time around and I’m already getting excited about the approach of this first encounter with QPR in over a decade.

This is, of course, assuming we have a pitch to play it on (which might not be a stupid a comment as it might have sounded a month ago). That said, those of us living in the TW8 vicinity saw the floodlights burning long into the late evening as work in laying the Motz turf has now been completed.

Certainly, @JamieCrosby24 has been the man, if not on the ground, then the one loitering just outside it. He has kept Twitter updated with covert photographs and up to the minute updates, before finally advising at just after 9pm last night that “the final touches are (being) carried out.”

Jamie has kept Brentford fans updated all week

Jamie has kept Brentford fans updated all week

So Reading have somewhere to play. Referee Andrew Madley has a pitch that he can inspect. Marinus is expected to take training on the new surface this Friday. Steve Clarke might even smile. Perhaps.

I can understand Clarke’s nervousness and concern. The pictures following the Ipswich Town and Oxford United games were somewhat terrifying. However, the necessary remedial action has been taken and we now have to hope/ trust that the Motz turf does what it is supposed to between now and Saturday.

Like Fulham and QPR, a game with Reading is another that falls into the ‘local’ bracket. There are sure to be a good 1800 fans piling up the M4 for this one and it promises to be a cracking atmosphere. Last season saw a Jota inspired 3-1 victory over the Royals and Brentford fans will be hoping for more of the same as we consign the disappointment of Burnley to the waste bin of history.

There are sure to be more than a few people watching the on pitch action this weekend. And, for once, not just the men in red and white.

As ever at Griffin Park, Saturday could be interesting.

Nick Bruzon

First shots of new Griffin Park pitch look good (despite Reading fears)

25 Aug

The pitch is back. Visitors to Brentford on Monday would have seen the contractors hard at work, relaying the grass at Griffin Park ahead of the match with Reading this Saturday. The luxuriant ‘Motz’ surface is already well in place on the New Road wing as all will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the ‘turf malfunction’ that blighted the Ipswich Town and Oxford United games, aswell as forcing the postponement of the fixture with Birmingham City.

Contractors prepare to move the rolls of Motz turf into position

Contractors prepare to move the rolls of Motz turf into position

Whilst absolutely essential that this be done, Reading boss Steve Clarke has, reportedly, become the latest to get stuck into the playing surface. Somewhat ironic, given the ease with which it had previously come unstuck. However, local website ‘Get Reading’ have run a feature in which he is already approaching histrionic levels of nervousness and concern.

The story, which you can find here (for those who haven’t already seen it) includes a number of comments which I’m not sure whether are simple sabre rattling and an attempt to unnerve the Bees or genuinely deep-rooted fears.

Clarke is quoted as saying, “we have to play the first match on a pitch that is not going to be ready. It’s not correct.” This immediately begs the question of whether he possesses some hitherto unseen powers of precognition or clairvoyance. How else would he know it isn’t going to be ready? True, it is still looking very sandy but that green stuff we can now see does tend to be a bit of a giveaway.

Warning? Maybe before. It's looking very good now as work commences

Warning? Maybe before. It’s looking very good now as work commences

To be fair, one can sympathise. The layman would probably be of the impression that pitches do require months of ‘bedding in’; of something that can only be achieved over pre-season.

Yet, by his own admission, that simply isn’t the case and, these days, a re-lay prior to a game is not uncommon – however unpalatable he may find it – as he added: “I’m lucky enough to have been involved in some cup finals when they were played at Millennium Stadium. The pitch was always put down two or three days before the game and it was never good.”

Let’s not pretend the pitch was ‘any good’ previously. It wasn’t. Head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and chief executive Mark Devlin have been amongst those leading the criticism whilst even Matthew Benham has noted this, if the ‘retweet’ below is to be taken at face value.

Matthew Benham remains undisputed king of twitter

Matthew Benham remains undisputed king of twitter

I can understand Steve Clarke wanting the best for his players from both a footballing and ‘health and safety’ perspective. Brentford will be in exactly the same boat and, having postponed one game already, will be doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of the problems we’ve previously seen.

Whilst Clarke is looking to get a delegation from the football league and a referee to view the pitch in advance, I’m pretty sure he’ll get his wish at the weekend, if nothing else. Andrew Madley, who is booked in to officiate at the weekend, will be the one who has to make the call as to whether the surface is playable or not during his pre-game inspection. I have no doubt we’ll have already be doing similar once repair works are finished on Wednesday.

Given the well publicised issues we’ve had and the fact that the Football League are fully aware of these, I can’t imagine this one going ahead if there is any element of doubt as to the integrity of the new Motz turf. Equally, one has to trust that the work which has been under way for a week already will be sufficient to provide an environment more fitting to a game of football rather than beach volleyball. If nothing else, I could do without all those cracks about Cardiff beach being cranked out again (well, maybe once more)

After Simon Moore, we've had enough of beaches to last a lifetime

After Simon Moore, we’ve had enough of beaches to last a lifetime

If Steve Clarke wants to publically voice his concerns in a psychological war of words that is likely going to impact his own side more than anybody else, then so be it. Football is a game of such finite margins that if he needs to being an additional element of doubt about his team’s ability to perform on our pitch then that’s fine by me.

I, genuinely, hope his concerns prove unfounded. For both Brentford and Reading. Ultimately, Griffin Park needs a surface that resembles a billiard table rather than a beach.

At the moment we haven’t got that so fairplay to the club for taking such drastic actions to remedy the situation. The eyes of the footballing world will be on us this weekend. Let’s hope we’ve got it right.

The pitch was 'cutting up' in our previous league game at Griffin Park

The pitch was ‘cutting up’ in our previous league game at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon