Tag Archives: Play off

This is the big one (for Wagner). And a special ‘thank you’ for Bees fans.

29 May

This is it. Today’s the day Brentford discover their final Championship opponent for next season. The play-off final sees Huddersfield Town and Reading doing battle in the, so-called, £100million match. Certainly, that’s the figure usually quoted in TV revenue for the team fortunate enough to come out on top in the choke off (there’s no other word for it) to reach the Premier League. That said, reading an article in The Independent last week, they are quoting it being as much as £170m rising to £290m. That’s just incredible.

For the winner . Riches and acclaim. Then the chance to see if they’ll emulate the likes of Watford, Bournemouth or Burnley in survival rather than Hull City and Middlesbrough with an immediate return. For the loser there’ll be tears, ‘if onlys’, the chance to come back Griffin Park (see – its not all bad) and inevitable comparisons to Derby County.

As a neutral, I love watching the play-offs. Moreso, this match. The FA Cup on Saturday was fantastic. Much as it loathes me to say it, Arsenal fully deserved their victory as Premier league Champions Chelsea were swept away. Victor Moses performing the worst dive since Greg Louganis cracked his head on the board during the 1988 Olympics pretty much summed up their effort.

Yet talking to a friend in The Griffin (other pubs are available) during the game, the conversation turned to the relevance of that tournament. It is the world’s oldest cup competition and, as a Brentford fan, I’d simply love us to do well. To embark on an epic cup run. To perhaps emulate that wonderful run of 88/89 or even go one better. To take a tinfoil cup to Wembley itself.

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The Bees haven’t reached an FA Cup quarter final since Liverpool in 88/89

But for other teams, certainly at the business end of the top flight, it is treated largely as an afterthought throughout most of the campaign. Weakened teams are fielded in what has become more of a nice to win than a need to win. Qualification for the Champions league, and the riches/prestige that come with that, is very much viewed as the ‘must have’ prize by many.

Did Spurs have a better season by finishing second in the Premier league and reaching that European tournament? Or could Arsenal, who played like they really wanted it, be argued to have been the more successful through getting their name on a trophy but missing out on the big one in Europe? The romantic in me says it is the FA Cup. The realist in me knows just what the Champions league can bring in terms of revenue and reputation to those clubs whose financial model and being able to compete absolutely rely on repeat qualification.

As it stands, Brentford are yet to make an FA Cup final (I’m not counting the War cup) or reach the play-off for the Premier League. That said, we gave it quite a go in 2014/15 when Middlesbrough were all that stood between us and a trip to Wembley for a crack at the top flight. Move along. Nothing to see here beyond another notch in the bedpost marked ‘challenging record’ after 8 attempts made.

Yet I’ll absolutely be glued to the screen this afternoon when Huddersfield and Reading walk out. This is no ‘nice to have’ match. This is all about the pressure and the reward that comes with victory. Everybody knows what is at stake. It is a game that combines the prestige of winning the FA Cup with the finances that come with making the Champions’ league.  There’ll be a global audience tuned in to this in a battle of who can hold their nerve.

Let’s be honest, nobody could pick a definite winner out of these two. I’m still amazed Reading made it, certainly based on the way Brentford played against them this season. Huddersfield led the table early and did the double over the Bees, yet it was the Royals who came third and despatched a very, very good Fulham team along the way. Much as it pains me to admit.

Instead, we’ll just have to leave this one to the players on the day. Who wants it more? Personally, I’m backing David Wagner’s team. And for no more illogical reason than the oft made reference on these pages to him and that one time X-Factor singer, err, Wagner.

Well, it seems that now worlds have actually collided. And how!! I’m not sure if this is car crash or sheer brilliance. Enjoy…

And finally.. a HUGE thank you to call those who have already downloaded this year’s e-book: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all funds from this one (and the previous titles) are being given to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17 you can pick it up, here. Along with all the usual Brentford stuff, we look at how the Championship season played out as teams came and went aswell as the ‘other stuff’ (fans of Mrs. Brown and her boys should probably look away now).

Hearing Yoann Barbet and Lasse Vibe speak at the player of the year dinner after sharing the Community player of the year award for the work they do with the Trust was truly inspirational. We all know how wonderful our club is and so, from a personal note, I’d love to make some gesture back – no matter how small.

Downloading any of the titles is now for a great cause. Hey, you may even enjoy reading. Funnier things have happened.

THANK YOU

This is it - the latest version now available. For a great casue

The latest version now available – for a great cause
Nick Bruzon

A new look – in more ways than one. But do you like it?

10 May

Boom. No sooner has the regular season ended than out of nowhere Brentford have launched a new club website whilst our new crest has also began to appear all over cyber space. And, although slightly delayed (this nonsense can’t write itself every day) we now know another opponent for next season as Middlesbrough make a swift return to the Championship following the briefest of sojourns in football’s top flight.

First up, the website. There was no real build up but visitors to what is now brentfordfc.com on Tuesday morning were greeted with a new look. And what a relief. What a blessed relief. Gone is that awful, awful cluttered template look. Gone is the almost random way articles were thrown together on screen. Gone is that stream of outdated and long defunct ‘news’ that we’d get on the right hand side of the screen.

The previous incumbent was awful. I make no apologies for saying this and it was something that had been noted on these pages previously. Equally, it wasn’t one of the club’s direct making. Look around the websites of other EFL clubs and you’d see the vast majority with the same, restrictive template. Even the ability to write in paragraphs was an enhancement that only came about this season.

First impressions of the replacement are nothing but positive. What a great decision by the club to look at breaking the mould and what a great job, certainly on first impressions, to those responsible for putting this together. For a non-techy like yours truly, it was simple to use, intuitive and I loved the fact that there’s even a tab for our fan groups on there (most of whom will grant you access !).

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Early visitors to ‘new look official’ got a treat – our important fan groups being represented.

Nice one Brentford. I can’t wait to see how it looks once we get back into a season ‘proper’.

Next up, the crest. We’ve made no secret on these pages of loving the castle and not being the biggest fans of her replacement – the cluttered, clipart that until the weekend has been the public image of BrentfordFC for over 20 years. To me, it was always the graphical equivalent of  Murray Jones replacing Dean Holdsworth. Equally, I’m not so naive as to ignore the fact that it remained hugely popular amongst a large section of out fan base who view the crest’s passing with some sadness.

But whether you loved it or loathed it, the crest is dead. Long live the crest. The new look Bee began to take pride of place on the website and Twitter from yesterday, with the promise of a club wide rebrand to follow. For me, the is nothing but good news.

On a personal note, there was no secret of my approval for the new version when it was revealed earlier on the season. It is an opinion that I most definitely stick with now we’ve had time to acclimatise. Stylish, smart and displaying a modern take on a former classic, this really is a good look.

Looking around the internet yesterday I saw those interminable muttering about the legs and the ‘wasp’  factor being mentioned once more. It is so clearly a bumble bee as to be almost unrecognisable as anything else. Likewise, it is possible for a Bee to only have four of the six legs on display at any one time. And if we’re really going to split hairs, just look at the crest that has just shuffled off this sartorial coil. Examine the legs on view and count them. One, two, three, four, fi..no. That’s it. The same four as we have once more.

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The new crest is now live (and a bee, for comparison)

Look I don’t want to dwell on that anymore. Our new crest is, in my opinion, worthy of a big thumbs up. It isn’t the Castle (what is, though?) but it is now the look of our club. The next big question being just what it is going to look like on a shirt. Kitman Bob, any clues here?

And finally, Middlesbrough. As suspected by many, they’ve bounced straight back to the Championship after a solitary season in the Premier League. Which is awful for them and potentially worse for us. Nobody needs any reminder of our record since the return to this level of football. Played 6 Lost 6.

That was then; this is now. Four of these six were in our first season and included that play-off semi final loss where we came so close to an incredible end to the campaign. Then again, do we do play-offs any other way?

I think both Middlesbrough and Brentford will find each other very different opponents next time out. Our own set up has undergone a huge overhaul and the starting XI is probably now our strongest in years. Certainly when the players hit their stride. As for Boro’, they’ll have had the wind taken out of their sails somewhat and will no doubt have their own rebuilding exercise to undergo.

Will they be a Newcastle united or an Aston Villa? We saw vastly different responses to Premier League relegation from those two fallen giants this campaign. Newcastle bouncing back in style; Villa finding the Championship a much tougher division than could have been anticipated. Whilst the Magpies ended it as champions,  the Villans finished the campaign below the Bees in the final table.

Whilst the suspicion is that Boro’ will use their experience and set up to be nearer the business end of the table, they’ll no longer be that big fish they once were. Neither will Brentford be the perceived minnow.

I can’t wait for the chance to do battle once more and look at getting that first win under our belts. Until then, it simply remains to say, RIP to the previous crest.

Now bring on our new look….

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Nick Bruzon

Which of these West London winners is the best?

3 Nov

Brentford host Fulham on Friday night, looking to make it back to back West London derby wins following last week’s 2-0 thumping of hapless QPR.

Brentford host Fulham on Friday night, looking to make it 13 points out a a possible 15 against the Cottagers since our paths crossed once more back in 2014/15.

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

There’s not really much more to say in regards to this one. Games under lights are always special and last week was one we’ll never forget. A first win at QPR in 52 years as the Bees were utterly dominant against Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s tactically naive team.

But if that was good, then this one could be a stunner. Three points will see Brentford climb to fifth place in the Championship table. As if beating our local rivals wasn’t incentive enough, surely this is the perfect inducement …

Personally speaking, table position is a mere after thought. Last Friday showed that. “Where does that put us?”, said precisely nobody after our 2-0 win. All that mattered was beating the not so super hoops in their own back yard.

Instead, it is all about the game and all about the occasion. If anybody needed any reminder about what a West London derby win means, I’ll leave you with these three highlights.

Honestly, I’m not sure which has the greatest significance. The timing and celebration of Jota’s winner in our first league derby at this level? The sheer brilliance of Stuart Dallas at The Cottage? I defy any ‘Bee’ to watch this without getting goose bumps, even now. Or Romaine Sawyers sealing that historic win last week with the merest amount of backlift?

Which ever is your favourite – they’ve all got one thing in common. Sheer, unadulterated brilliance. Come for the goals but stay for Mark Burridge’s commentary.

What a goal…. What!! A!!! Goal!!!

Jota….in the last minute

Romaine makes his mark

See you at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

A tale of two Steves as Dean stays in charge where it counts

13 Oct

With Brentford making final preparations for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, we can at least be safe in the knowledge that any chance of Dean Smith going to Aston Villa has now officially been snuffed out. On a day of managerial change, not only was Steve Bruce named in charge at Villa Park but Steve McClaren has, seemingly out of nowhere, been reinstalled at Derby County. The same Derby County team that we visit on Tuesday evening.

First up, Aston Villa. Despite the early talk about our own Dean Smith being linked with that one it was never anything more than a story. At least, based on outward appearances. Personally, and I said at the time, there didn’t seem any chance of this happening for multiple reasons and this has now proven to be the case.

It’s great news for Brentford and, one would hope, for Aston Villa. Some fans will be relieved they haven’t inherited the manager of a ‘pub side’. Others might have some concern about a man who was in charge of local rivals Birmingham City from 2001-07.

That latter point, aside from getting stick from the opposition fans when the two sides meet, would seem to be largely irrelevant though. As long as a team is doing well then it is an awful lot easier to look at the past through rose tinted glasses.

Then again, he walks into a hotbed of expectation.

Tim Sherwood was in charge of Aston Villa back in October 2015 (hmm, that went well). A year later they’ve been through Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald, Remi Garde, Eric Black and of course Roberto di Matteo. Twelve months on and Bruce now has what was previously described as less a hot seat and more an electric chair.

And, of course, there is the additional pressure of a hashtag. The club announced his arrival with use of this cringeworthy social media device (see also: #Jakejoins). At this rate, surely we’re only a short step away from a meme to announce a new signing?

Nobody knows how this will turn out. It’ll be fun finding out though.

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Steve joins at Villa; Dean stays with his pub side

But the really interesting news yesterday surrounded Derby County and Steve McClaren. Of course,  the one time umbrella wielding manager has been there before. He and Derby parted company in 2015 amidst much interest from a Newcastle United side he would eventually join (hmm, that went well) and hot off the back of that self-destruct as they threw away an almost nailed on place in the play-offs.

Brentford were just one of the beneficiaries as the Rams somehow lost 3-0, at home, to a very average Reading side who had literally nothing to play for. Indeed, our 2-0 win over them the weekend before had further knocked the stuffing out of the Royals in their final home game of that campaign. The Bees’ reward for that capitulation,  a two legged semi with Middlesbrough. Move along, nothing to see here.

But will it work again? McClaren’s time at Newcastle was an unmitigated disaster, I’m sorry to say. He has that emotional pressure of the way his England career panned out – a disaster on the pitch and widely ridiculed off it –  whilst he is as known for his infamous Dutch accent as his two stints in charge of Eredivise side Twente. That, a role he would also be obliged to resign from.

Frankly, he seems to have more lives than a cat yet still boards come back to him. I’m not sure what just what it is that he posesses but it’s going to be interesting finding out.

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Can Steve the cat stay out of the rain this time?

Both Bruce and McClaren will have expectation from their own fans aswell as heckling from the visiting supporters to deal with. In the case of Aston Villa, one can only assume this will be limited to a few games here and there – the Birmingham s and Wolves of this world. But for McClaren, with terrace wags knowing just how many roles (and play offs) his teams have eventually choked, he could be in for a rough ride should things not get off to anything but a flier.

Forget the weight of expectation, that umbrella is the real baggage he carries around with him. Here’s hoping it is still weighing him down when Brentford visit on Tuesday.

Before that, though, is the small matter of our visit to Newcastle on Saturday. The Bees will be there in huge numbers, with chief executive Mark Devlin giving local journalists a free story with his latest ’tweet’ on ticket sales. For a club our size, the travelling fans have always gone in impressive numbers and this is no different.Close to 3,000 for the long trek up to the North-East isn’t to be sniffed at.

Great work, one and all. Let’s hope the team, and Dean Smith – our head coach – do them justice on the pitch.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Will it be three in a row as Swansea make £5m move for former Bee ?

27 Aug

With Brentford due up against Sheffield Wednesday today, Bees fans woke to find we’d been overtaken in the table by Burton Albion whose 1-0 derby win over, erm, Derby moved them into the play-off zone. And those who went to bed really, really early have woken to the news that Championship rivals Barnsley have accepted a bid of £5million from Swansea City for former Bee Alfie Mawson.

First up, today’s game. On paper Brentford are looking good at Griffin Park. Played 2, won 2, scored 3, conceded 0. Sheffield Wednesday, on the other hand, have picked up 1 point form the last 3. On paper.

The Owls have been one of the teams to provide us what could politely be called ‘a challenge’ since our return to the Championship. If not quite at Middlesbrough standards then certainly a team we’ve struggled against.

A 0-0 at Griffin Park under Mark Warburton the best we’ve achieved . That, a result which was followed by 1-0, 2-1 and 4-0 defeats. Wednesday being, if you will, the anti-Fulham when it comes to Brentford performance. So can we do any better today ?

You’d be brave to call it. On the one hand , we’ve looked wonderful at times and dominated the possession in our game at Rotherham. On the other, despite dominating the possession we came away from that one on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat whilst both Ipswich and Nottingham Forest left Griffin Park feeling somewhat hard done by.

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Brentford hung onto a win against Forest last time out

 

All three games showing that most basic of football lessons  – it doesn’t matter how hard you huff and puff or how much the stat chart showed you held onto the ball. At the end of the day (Clive), the rewards go to the the team that can take their chances when they present themselves.

Look at last night’s Championship action. Derby County had 64% possession. Almost double that of their opponents. Yet it was Burton Albion who took a 12th minute chance and left their more fancied neighbours floundering as they retained that lead for an historic 1-0 win .

It was a result that shows, once more, how tough the Championship is and how nobody can be taken lightly. Our own Bees have already proven that, coming 5th and 9th in our first two seasons at this level. Kudos to Rotherham United for staying up having joined at the same time as the Bees whilst Preston North End, on their return last season, surprised many with just how well they did. Could Burton now be joining those ranks?

Reputation and domination count for little these days. Take your chances, whomever you are playing, and the rest comes naturally. It sounds so simple. On paper.

The other news of interest for Brentford fans was that about Alfie Mawson. A player who came up through the youth team, having joined from Reading in 2010, he left for Barnsley when his contract expired at the end of June 2015. Despite having been offered a new deal two months earlier, Alfie opted for dropping down a division and to take his chances in League One.

With the likes of Tony Craig, Harlee Dean, James Tarkowski, Raphael Calvet, Jack O’Connell and Finland international Daniel O’Shaughnessy also in the squad, you can understand part of his decision making process. Certainly, it was one which has proven to be correct for the player, with Barnsley winning promotion through the play-offs aswell as the JPT final. And Alfie, like Harlee Dean, even being awarded a football league ‘unsung hero’ award.

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Alfie Mawson – you can read about his unsung hero award on the EFL site

Should  / could Brentford have tried harder to keep him? Or is hindsight a wonderful thing? Probably a bit of both. The evidence was certainly there to suggest that Alfie could go far. His loan period at Wycombe in 2014/15 saw him scoop several player of the year awards (including supporters and players) aswell as coming third in the running for divisional player of the season. Something that hadn’t gone unnoticed up North.

Yet, ultimately, the decision was the player’s. Lets not forget that. Likewise, do bear in mind also that this is exactly how we have acquired Dan Bentley, John Egan and Romaine Sawyers this season.

The list of ‘next big things’ at Brentford who have had all the potential but not quite delivered is legion. As is those who supporters have been happy to see released only for players to find new form at a new club. See, amongst others : Northern Ireland International Will Grigg and the aforementioned Lewis Grabban – the benchmark figure for subsequent transfer inflation with his value accelerating from £0-8/9m in six seasons.

Instead, rather than the usual social media based angst, perhaps the more pertinent point from Alfie’s case is to highlight more just what our youth system was capable of. We’ve already seen Tom Field and Josh Clarke break into the first XI.

Here’s hoping the B team can follow suit. And in the meantime, good luck to Alfie in the Premier League!

Nick Bruzon

When push comes to shove – The Last Word on….

26 Aug

Brentford host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and so, as part of the big match build up, we’ll move on from talk of Alan Judge to Newcastle United and look at our next opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and today Wednesday are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Without the benefit of any super computer, I’m having to rely on my somewhat scattergun knowledge for this category. That, certainly, something which accounts for Stan Bowles missing out last time in the Nottingham Forest article. Sorry, Stan. And whilst I’m sure that similar gaps will appear this time around, a few names do spring immediately to mind.

There’s Deon Burton, whose time at the Bees included that epic season under Martin Allen in 2004/05 where his goals in a 2-1 win and 3-3 draw with Wednesday helped us towards an eventual play-off semi final place…..

How about his teammate Michael Turner? One of the classiest centre backs to ever grace Griffin Park and somebody who was last seen at the Owls during the previous campaign whilst on loan from Norwich City.

But the choice of standout name boils down to one of two Andys. Sinton was THE man at Griffin Park back in the late 80s. Back to back supporters player of the year in 86/87 and 87/88 he was an almost constant feature in his three seasons. Attacking play and goals were the order of the day as his form played a key role in our epic 88/89 FA Cup run the that would eventually end at Liverpool in the quarter finals. A transfer to QPR would follow where international recognition (12 England caps) and his move to Sheffield Wednesday came next. One of the all time Brentford legends.

But, for me, when you mention Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday there is one name that always strings to mind  – Andy McCulloch. 48 goals in 127 league games for the Bees from 76- 79 were match by an almost identical record at Hillsborough where he notched 44 in 125 following his transfer.

And it is that transfer which, in Andy’s own words, is one of the more unusual in the annals of football history footballing

It was a classic. I scored a header at Griffin Park and had my nose broken. I was on a stretcher, going into the dressing room and Ian St. John, who was at Sheffield Wednesday, pointed to me as I’m going in the door and said , “would you fancy coming to Sheffield Wednesday?” At Brentford –after I had just scored a goal. He tapped me up!

The deal was completed on the camera gantry  at Wembley stadium with their manager Jack Charlton. Andy explaining , “It was before a Scotland-England game, I think . I’d gone up there just to meet Jackie. It was the only way of meeting him in London.”

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees). Our return to the Championship hasn’t seen great results. Last season, in particular, seeing us lucky to escape from Hillsborough having only gone down 4-0 after Yoann Barbet was shown the red card just five minutes into the game.

Instead, we’ll look at the aforementioned 2005/05campaign under Martin Allen. Again, the result was an equally painful one but, for a time, the prospect of playing Wednesday was nothing but the ultimate in excitement.

Having already seen a wonderful FA Cup campaign that finally saw us go out in a fifth round replay to Premier League Southampton, knockout football held no worries. And so we approached our play-off semi final with Wednesday in high spirits. A 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough soon took the wind out of those sails with the home team taking the lead on 12 minutes and never giving us a look in.

The return match at Griffin Park saw the Bees go down 2-1. Even then, Andy Frampton’s goal was nothing more than a very late consolation. Hardly a highlight in our history but one noted to remind us of the pain suffered in this end of season lottery. Moreso, given the hope that one day we will get it right. One day….

Favourite son  (their most famous former player ). The 80s and early 90s were, in particular, a time where the name Sheffield Wednesday evoked nothing but the best imagery. Mr Tom was on their shirt whilst the likes of Lee Chapman and the free scoring David Hirst were on the pitch. To that mix you can add Des Walker (who, of course, featured in this category last time out for Nottingham Forest and Chris Waddle although the latter was sadly bereft of ‘that’ mullet by this point.

From the more recent era, two names spring to mind for the neutral.  Benito Carbone channeled the spirit of Chris Waddle with exciting play, long, long hair and even his iconic ‘Alice band’. Yet it was another Italian who scoops the honours this time around.  Paolo Di Canio.

The club’s top scorer in 1997-98 and a firm fan favourite (apologies for the sub-Chronicle alliteration) he won their player of the year award that season. However, it was the following campaign that secured his cult status when he received an 11 match ban for pushing referee Paul Alcock over during a match against Arsenal.

Nobody could deny it was a flash of unjustifiable temper from the temperamental genius. Yet, at the same time, Alcock’s comedy pratfall certainly added to the seriousness with which the incident would be viewed

And the oscar for best fallover following a shove goes to…

Famous fan. Fast becoming a personal favourite category in this feature, Sheffield Wednesday don’t let us down when it comes to their celebrity supporters.

The biggest names here would seem to be the Arctic Monkeys – all of them, apparently. A fact further emphasised by the fact you normally see them described as ‘Sheffield band….’

Cricket’s Michael Vaughan and former England captain is also an Owl as is, of  all people, singer Jermaine Jackson. The one time Jackson 5 star supposedly began following the club in the late 80s and even wrote a song for last campaign’s play-off defeat to Hull City AFC.

Yet it wouldn’t be The Last Word without mentioning ‘That band’ . If not celebrities, they are certainly recognised faces.

Their moribund parping and off-key trumpeting, so long the bane of England international fixtures, also features at Hillsborough. Flaccid renditions of ’Love will tear us apart’ or their jingoistic movie medley “The Great Escape/Italian job’ being the last thing anybody outside of this self-appointed ‘supporters band’ wants to hear.

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That band. With Trevor Francis (inset)

Best Ever League Performance. In terms of pure scoreline, a simple one this week. Any excuse to crank out the brackets and a 9-1 victory over Birmingham City at Hillsborough back in December 1930 saw the Owls easily cruise past the 7(seven) goal mark

Moment of ignominy – ( what it says – opposite to above). I could pick ‘that band’ but we’re bigger than that.

Likewise, in terms of pure results then going back over a century to October 1912 saw Wednesday go down 10-1 at Aston Villa. In recent years, Villa have struggled to score 10 goals in an entire season let alone in one game

But the turn of this century saw them go on an eight game First Division (second tier) losing streak that lasted over a month: 9 September until 17 October saw their form guide read: LLLLLLLL. Beginning with a 0-5 home humping at the hands of Wimbledon, a Steve Harkness goal finally brought this dismal run to an end with a 1-0 win over Birmingham. Incredibly, they stayed up.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Howard Wilkinson ? Big Ron? Erm. Move along, nothing to see here. Whilst the purist will likely go for Wilkinson, for me  you can’t knock the achievements of Trevor Francis.

Taking over as player-manager with the team back in the top flight, he lead them to third place in the league in 1992 and, with it, a hard-earned UEFA cup place. There was no entry to the league of fake Champions for coming third or fourth then.

His Wednesday team then took part in the first ever Premier League where they came 7th (seventh). However, the season was as notable for a double Wembley appearance where they reached the finals of bot the League and FA cup.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). First division champions in the ‘20s. The wonder years under Francis. Wednesday even won the League cup through the wisdom and guidance of Big Ron. Yet, for me all this pails into insignificance compared to the greatest thing not to come out of Sheffield.

That band doesn’t travel.

Nick Bruzon

Sawyers, Egan, Bentley all IN. And a return for Andy Scout

2 Jul

Well that was some day in TW8. Brentford boss Dean Smith embarked on a triple transfer swoop that has sent the fans into overdrive whilst, no doubt, earning further friends at Walsall. Romaine Sawyers IN. Daniel Bentley IN. John Egan IN. Oh, and then there was the small matter of captain Jake Bidwell joining QPR. There’ll be a separate piece on that one but, for now, we’ll simply say “good luck” and politely leave it there.

We’d all heard the rumours. We’d all scoured the local press looking for some crumb of Brentford related news in the lean summer months since the season ended. These names have been doing the rounds for some time but, being honest, did we expect to get them all? On day 1?

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Official twitter has a triple transfer montage

More to the point, how did the local press get it so right this time? And for so long? I’ve long been scornful of a rumour mill that seems as much miss as it is hit. Throw enough mud and some will stick. However, on this on you have to say ‘hats off’ for calling them all, including the news about Jake, spot on.

This is nothing but stunning. Sawyers and Egan were both in the League 1 team of the year last season, an honour Bentley had the season previous as Southend got promoted via the play off final. That, a game Sam Saunders will remember (although perhaps for the wrong reasons) after injury forced him to leave the pitch quicker than you could say “And this is Saunders territory”, just seconds after kick off.

What does this all mean for the rest of the squad? Egan is a centre back and with Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell, Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet could somebody else be moving on? Might Dean be moving to a formation with three central defenders? Or is it a case of him having to try and keep a lot of players very happy with a place on the bench? Either way, this level of competition can only be a good thing.

As for Daniel Bentley, he comes very highly rated and there is a genuine sense of excitement at his joining. The obvious question is if he will be in line to support or replace David Button. In my eyes, he ran Alan Judge oh so close for player of the season last time out and helped keep the good ship Brentford afloat when things were, shall we politely say, going through a bit of a rough patch on field.

Reading the press release, Phil Giles has noted that, “As it stands all three goalkeepers, including Jack Bonham, will be competing to be first choice goalkeeper against Huddersfield on the opening day of the season.” Whilst I have no doubt that is true, as it stands, I can’t believe having al three on our books will be a long term option. Will David sign the new contract he has been offered? Will Daniel have to be content as an understudy at first? Or will it be a case of Bentley & Bonham being our goalkeeping 1-2 as we head into 2016/17?

Then there’s Romaine Sawyers. He earned plaudits all last season and no more so than as Walsall dumped Brentford out of the FA Cup in the game we don’t talk about. They deserved it that day and he was wonderful. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos back at Liverpool and Jota still on his ‘loan’ in Spain there’s certainly room for an attacking midfielder.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

Yesterday was nothing but brilliant.

Off the field, it was also confirmed that Andy Scott is now back at Brentford in an official capacity, as Chief Scout. Whilst Matthew Benham had previously alluded to his work for us, Andy is now fully on board with Phil Giles noting “I have been working with Andy over the last year or more, and he has been invaluable in identifying players and providing detailed scouting reports on all of our targets.

Andy, if you are reading then congratulations. It’s great to have you back. I’l never forget those goals or that night against Everton. Now, if you could hot foot it up to Liverpool and start compiling a dossier, there’s a chap called Sergi I think you might like to take a look at……

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  Andy, Daniel, Romaine or John, If you are reading ( you aren’t)  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs about the club you are joining then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading

Lions, Tigers and Bees. Is this another clue for next season?

29 May

We’re almost there. Yesterday’s play-off final saw Hull City AFC make a swift return to the Premier League whilst Sheffield Wednesday prepare to line up alongside Brentford once more. With Barnsley and Millwall going toe-to-toe on Sunday afternoon, by the time Antiques Roadshow is on we’ll know the full extent of next season’s Championship. And was there a further hint about kit from none other than Bees supremo Matthew Benham?

First up, the play-off final. Promotion for Hull City was well deserved on the day, despite the incredible presence and noise from the Wednesday supporters. Sadly, their team didn’t get a look in against a well organised Tigers outfit who probably could have taken it by more than the 1-0 final scoreline.

But one was all they needed and, despite an injury time surge from their opponents, Hull stayed firm. With it, Moses Odubajo joins Andre Gray, James Tarkowski and Adam Forshaw as recent Bees who have earned promotion to the Premier League this season. Let’s just hope those sale contracts were well negotiated and included promotion clauses!

Millwall give it a shot at an equally rapid return and, all being well, providing another local game for the Bees next season. We’ve already got trips to Fulham, QPR, Reading and Brighton amongst the ’short hops’ . Then there’s the likes of Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Burton Albion which are sure to provide high demand and a new experience for many Brentford supporters.

Chuck the Lions into the mix and that’s a third of the season’s away games already booked in without even trying. Best get those green cards and rail tickets at the ready. Or, if Mrs Bruzon is reading, a new subscription to BeesPlayer.

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There’s always a welcome at Millwall

Next up, asthma pumps. They help you breathe. Good things. Nothing much more to say on the subject really.

The 2016/17 kit article prompted a bit of intrigue yesterday. As was noted at the time, this was nothing more than harmless fun and tenuous guesswork. Yet, amidst the nonsense have we stumbled across the direction, or even influenced, next season’s offerings? Whilst I’d guess firm ‘no’ to each, who doesn’t love a bit of speculation?

And if an ultimately unfounded ‘Bees boss in double transfer swoop’ is good enough for our esteemed local press, then why not extend the same privilege to the playing kit – not that I’m either ‘local press’ or ‘esteemed’.

The possibility of having a green third kit is one that, judging by social media, seems to be a popular one. Supporters whose feedback I have seen have, mostly, given it a thumbs up whilst Richard Merritt and Geoff Buckingham also answered the question as to whether the Bees had even worn green before.

RM: I’ve seen us wear Green away to Watford in the 70’s. The shirt had a black ‘flap’ collar with a whole black ‘V’. I created my own shirt by having a Brentford badge sewn on to a Peter Bonneti goal keeping shirt

GB:Brentford did wear green as an away shirt during one season in the 1970’s. I cannot recall how often. It may even have been borrowed because their own kit got stuck in traffic!

Wonderful as the thought of Richard sporting his own home made kit was, things then stepped up a notch when even Matthew Benham joined in the Twitter conversation.

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Are we reading too much into this…..?

We all know Matthew’s forays onto Twitter are rare but, normally, telling. Is this another transfer-style cryptic clue? Can we read anything into this exchange? Who knows?

I’m hoping that by, “What do you think Bob” Matthew was talking about the possibility of the Bees wearing green rather than emulating Ayr United. To be quite honest, I don’t have our top brass down as the misogynistic types. We’re a family club and long may it stay this way.

Besides, the thought of Buzzette bereft of her normal oversized shirt and, instead, covered antenna to toe in nothing more than chanel no. 5, green body paint and a Brentford badge is one I daren’t visualise.

Either way, whatever the final colours and whatever the design the only think I know for sure is that the suspense is killing me. With other clubs already releasing their new designs faster than the Bees change head coaches, I can’t wait another six weeks to find out.

Come on Brentford. Put us out of our misery.

Please.

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The mocked up shirts that have (some) supporters talking

Nick Bruzon 

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos

25 May

This Saturday evening sees the denouement of a wonderful Championship season as Hull City AFC take on Sheffield Wednesday in the play off final. To the victor the spoils of Premier League glory and wealth. To the loser, a chance to visit Griffin Park once more as Brentford discover their penultimate opponent for 2016/17.

I can’t call this one. The head says a Hull City team that I’ve been tipping for promotion all season (that, a bet to rank alongside Red Rum for the National) will do it. Yet Wednesday, backed by the awesome/awful (delete as applicable) power of ‘that band’ swept aside Brighton in the semis to book their place at the W place in style. In the most high pressure, high stakes match imaginable we all know that league placing counts for nothing and it so often comes down to who can hold their nerve.

Don’t expect any more in depth analysis on these pages. As ever, the BBC or official sites are infinitely better places to go. Instead, the final is mentioned almost with a pang of regret.

Nobody needs another run down on Brentford and the play offs at the moment. We’ve a worse record than One Direction covering ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ (imagine. Actually, don’t ) yet at the same time, there’s a pang of regret that we aren’t involved.

Given the topsy-turvey season we had, with head coach Dean Smith admitting as recently as March that Brentford were involved in a relegation scrap, that may be an odd thing to say. But don’t forget that likewise at the turn of the year we were within touching distance of the play off zone after the 2-1 victory at Reading in late December. That, the game where Ryan Woods and Sergi Canos rewrote the rulebook for ‘goal of the season’ competitions.

We all know what happened after that though. Being polite, form headed South. That said, a wonderful run-in saw the Bees mid-season endeavours bolstered by a series of high scoring victories that lifted us to a final position of 9th in the table. And having ended on such a high, just shy of those normally dreaded play off spots, I’m desperate for it all to start once more.

The new signings were looking a much more cohesive unit and we proved we could win without Alan Judge (although in what desperate circumstances and how good to see him back on his feet). Academy graduate Tom Field gave a wonderfully assured debut at left back whilst the return of Scott Hogan is a story with a happier ending than Cinderella.

Tom Field

Academy graduate Tom Field featured in the first team against Fulham

Did we deserve the play offs? No. Not over the course of an entire season. Did we tantalise and torture the fans in equal measure? Absolutely .

Hey, looking back that’s no bad thing, no matter how frustrating it might have felt at times. To finish 5th and 9th in our first two Championship seasons, operating on a parachute-less budget, is a stunning achievement.

And I’m desperate to go again already. Saturday’s final will be one last taste of Championship action before the summer months start to kick in. And then we play the waiting game.

It’s not one I particularly enjoy although, at the least, do have a couple of ‘new look’ features currently under development for the coming campaign (Opposition view – The last word on….. in particular). Yet at the end of the day (Clive), it’s not the same. To quote Homer Simpson, “The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos.”


Who am I to disagree?

Plug time: And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon

There’s a Euro crisis looming in June (but not for Scotland).

20 May

Close season. With the play offs almost over, us Brentford fans are fast entering ‘thumb twiddle’ time as a long summer approaches. Thankfully (you’d think) we’ll have the Euros… Closer to home there’ll be no reacquaintance for Dean Smith and Walsall after the Saddlers went down 6-1 to Barnsley whilst talk of league restructure has a lot of supporters in a panic. But we’ll save that one for another day – there are equally important issues to discuss.

Never let it be said that ‘The Last Word’ isn’t afraid to get to the heart of the day’s weighty issues. And they don’t come any bigger than ‘Emojis’ – those little graphics inserted into, and at the end, of tweets, texts and ‘WhatsApp’  messages. Usually involving Bees, emoticons and steaming dog poos.

It’s a HUGE emoji gap not having the 4 UK countries. Surely needs sorting out – especially for the Euros this summer.”

They aren’t my words but those of fellow blogger @TheExiledRobin. The Bristol City supporter posted this shock revelation yesterday morning after a flag based mixed up by cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew involving the flags of the Faroe Islands and England.

Specifically because England don’t have an Emoji. Nor do Wales, Northern Ireland or (not that it will be needed given there is a major tournament) Scotland. Instead, the best available to Apple users is the Union flag. Hardly a suitable replacement for all those comments sure to be flying around cyberspace when the tournament kicks of in anger next month.

emoji

There’s no real choice for the ‘Home’ nations

Come on Apple. Sort it out. Please

I love your phone, even if your headphones have been designed to project the music outwards to fellow train passengers rather than inwards to the ears of the intended listener. Frankly, the 7.54 to Waterloo is painful enough without having B*Witched forced upon the unsuspecting commuter via somebody else’s tinny speakers.

But this lack of home nation flags could cause carnage next month. If Apple supremo Tim Cook is reading (he isn’t) would it be that hard to fix this? And, if you do, please don’t forget to include Scotland. At least we can remind them what they are missing out on.

Talking of ‘missing out’ (once again, a link crowbarred with all the subtly of a Jonathan Douglas tackle), one team we won’t be renewing acquaintances with next season is Walsall. This, after their play-off capitulation to Barnsley.

Who could forget their visit for the FA Cup back in January? Certainly a season’s low point for Brentford and described on these pages as us being, “played off the park after putting in one of the most abject first half displays I can recall for some time” as we went down 1-0.

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The Bees had rubbish afternoon against Walsall in the cup

That said, Dean Smith was able to turn things around. Whatever happened back in that long, dark winter Bees fans had the consolation of going on to finish 9th in the Championship table. That’s 9th. In the Championship.

For Walsall, another season in League One beckons. Whilst I take no pleasure in kicking a team when they are down (genuinely) I couldn’t help but be drawn to the following prediction from @emmbailey95.

I’m sure most fans saw this one doing the rounds already last night. And understandably so. But if you’ve not, then here you go.

walsall tweet

Not my words, but those of…etc etc etc

 

And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download.  Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thank you again for reading.

Nick Bruzon