Tag Archives: Play off

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.

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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

A potential silver lining as another part of next season falls into place

17 May

Monday evening saw Brentford learn another opponent for next season as the horror and the brilliance of the play-offs was combined in equal measure. Despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents , Brighton were unable to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit and so it is Sheffield Wednesday who reach the final next weekend. Barring a minor miracle, Hull City (who complete formalities at home to Derby tonight, 3-0 up) will be the only thing in their way as the Premier league beckons.

The nice part of me feels dreadfully for Brighton right now. The were in ‘automatic’ for long parts of the season and finished level on points with promoted Middlesbrough. Only two goals split the respective teams, with Boro ending the campaign on 89 points and +32 ; the Seagulls 89 points and + 30.

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The BBC table doesn’t lie

Wednesday, meanwhile, finished 15 points behind the Seagulls and had gone into the semi on anything less than great form. Only 2 wins out of the last 7(seven) suggested a team who had as much chance as Derby County of making the final. Yet, as we all know, form counts for nothing and the play-offs are a fickle mistress.

If one team can feel Brighton’s pain right now it is Brentford. Our play off form is only matched by Sheffield United, in making it 8 attempts without winning the final. Even Preston, finally, breaking their hoodoo last season making it 1 win out of 10 to join us in the Championship.

For the record, our own campaign trail of woe reads.

1990/91 : Lost. SF. Tranmere Rovers (2-3)

1994/95 : Lost. SF. Huddersfield Town (2-2; pens)

1996/97 : Lost. Final. Crewe (0-1)

2000/01 : Lost. Final. Stoke City (0-2)

2004/05 : Lost. SF. Sheffield Wednesday (1-3)

2005/06 : Lost. SF. Swansea City (1-3)

2012/13 : Lost. Final. Yeovil Town (1-2)

2014/15 : Lost. SF. Middlesbrough (1-5)

I take no pleasure from seeing any team go through what we have done. Many times. If ever a reminder were needed (it wasn’t) about just how cruel the play-offs can be it was here. If ever a reminder was needed of the importance of grabbing ever point and every goal over the course of the regular season then last night served up yet another example.

Yet, at the same time, whilst I do have sympathy I also have some selfishness about this. As one observer noted on Twitter last night, “Brighton away its too good a trip to be wasted on the Premier League”.

I’ve got no new interest in Sheffield  – been there, done it, eaten their (albeit lovely) pies and heard ‘that band’ many times. Should Hull win the final, then no doubt I may go (again).

But a guaranteed trip to the Amex is only a fantastic thing for Brentford. A short hop on the train. A day out by the coast. A full house of Bees in the away end. A cracking atmosphere.

Nick mascots Brighton

The Albion mascots – it feels like cheating on Buzzette

Sheffield are welcome to take their band and Hi-Ho, Silver Lining (see also: Let me Entertain you / We are the Champions for ‘overplayed stadium songs’ ) to the top flight. Good luck to them. Genuinely. I’ve always enjoyed going there and wish them no ill will.

But a trip to the Amex, something that many of us were denied this time around thanks to the decision making of Sky TV, can only be viewed as a positive. At least, for us visiting fans.

To be honest, missing out on that trip this time around was probably no bad thing (and if you’d like to read more about that, or the season just gone then you know the drill – it’s here). Brentford were abject when we went down 3-0 in February.

For that reason alone, redemption, I’m already looking forward to another visit. Now, where’s that railcard…?

Until then, this may remain on the cards. Still, if Wednesday do go up there will be one silver lining.

Enjoy

And finally, as ever, genuine thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the aforementioned Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). It is somewhat humbling that people take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

Three years on, can anybody get past Sergi?

28 Apr

Yesterday was one of those wonderful days for Brentford fans. Not the fact that it was three years since ‘that’ penalty, although the club did make a point of this (to the minute) on ‘official’ Twitter. More, that Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos has given us another reason to recognise his brilliance as the goal of the season video was released.

First up though (and briefly) it shows how far we’ve come that the crossbar affair can now held up as some sort of anniversary. If not one to be overly celebrated then certainly something that will never be forgotten. That can only be a good thing too because it hadn’t really been mentioned by anybody. Ever. Out of adversity comes triumph and all that.

Certainly the Bees picked themselves up in some style and despite the heartbreaking play-off defeat at ‘The W place’, the rest is history

Nobody particularly needs another discourse from me on the subject. There’s been plenty written already about the subsequent fall out and Brentford’s spectacular surge to the fringes of the Premier League although if you would like to read more etc etc…  (hey, it’s been a while).

No, the main reason for yesterday’s excitement was because it saw the contenders for goal of the season released. And with voting now open, there’s an incredible shortlist for the Sergi Canos v Reading (a) award.

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Bees Player viewers see Sergi celebrate that incredible effort

Yet, yet, yet. Is the winner such a foregone conclusion? Yes, it was a strike that the rewind button (or is it a ‘back arrow’ these days?)  was specifically made for but there are some other wonderful moments in there.

Ryan Woods in the same game was pretty special too whilst you can only admire Lasse Vibe’s acrobatics v MK Dons. How about Marco Djuricin’s quite wonderful control and turn to put himself in a goal scoring position against Preston North End or the unadulterated emotion of his winner agasint the Loftus Road mob?

John Swift hit a beauty against Bolton whilst there’s a fantastic four from Alan Judge. That’s a third of the entire shortlist dedicated to one man alone yet each of them ‘A rated’ class!

That said, as one Ealing Road observer would later note – “It would be nice for Judge not to win an award, just to give him a rest and stop him getting up and down all night.

Can anybody outclass Sergi?

Twelve absolute stunners and whoever does win, there won’t be any complaints. For me (Clive) despite all of this there’s still no getting past Canos. But if you don’t take my word for it (and frankly, why would anybody?) then there are two other tell-tale signs.

First up,  Mark Burridge’s commentary. You’ll find the two Reading goals about four minutes in and, it’s fair to say, our commentator par-excellence has a moment to rival his infamous ‘Burridgegasm‘. The one when Jota scored ’Brentford’s goal of the 21st Century?’ against Blackburn Rovers last season .

Secondly, Sam Saunders. The regular reader may be aware our number 7(seven) is my favourite player. We all have one and, for me, it’s Sam.

In a way I’m glad his run and strike against Leeds United wasn’t on the shortlist. It would have made the vote a much trickier one. For about two seconds.

Yet whilst questioning it’s absence on social media last night, none other than the great man himself popped up to reply that the “celebration was worth it alone” before making the  magnanimous acknowledgement that, “only winner young Sergi

If it’s good enough for the man who has made those wonderful strikes from ’Saunders territory’ his own over the years, then who are we to argue?

Sergi. Better get that speech ready for the awards night.

The master has spoken 

Nick Bruzon

Optimism or unrealistic on our ‘crazy’ and ‘sentimental’ journey?

13 Feb

Brentford travel to Sheffield Wednesday today. Quite simply, it is a case of win or bust if the Bees are to have any realistic hopes of making the play offs that both Dean Smith and the club have been trumpeting about since the 3-0 loss to Brighton on Friday night.

As was noted in yesterday’s article, the realistic part of me knows that that a gap of 10 points between us and 6th placed Wednesday will be too much to overcome. Dean was quoted as saying that “Whilst there is still an opportunity…we will go for it.” whilst even yesterday the official site noted that, “The Bees travel to Hillsborough to face fellow promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday.”

Of course, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and should the Bees record what would be a 6th win in the last 18 games this afternoon then, theoretically, we could move to within just 7(seven) points of the play-offs . I am assuming, of course, that such a victory will come by sufficient a margin to start reigning in the goal difference of 14 that, effectively, makes up an additional point. From there, we have successive home games and anything could happen.

But before we even get to thinking about Derby and Wolves, can we do it today? Obviously one can only hope for the best and trust in the words of Dean Smith. With the squad back in their expected frame of mind on the training ground, is it possible we could avenge our last minute defeat at home to the Owls back in September?

That, Marinus Dijkhuizen’s final game ‘in charge’ of the Bees before our parting of the ways the following day, saw us stung at the death after Alan Judge had hauled Brentford back into it. It was a tough one to take in a game where referee Geoff Eltringham showed two reds as the Bees were caught short, pushing for a last gasp winner. Instead, we were our own victims of that period known as Jota time.

Alan Judge celebrates

Alan Judge delivered a blow to Wednesday as our fans celebrated. Until the 90th

And it is that man, Judge rather than Eltringham, who could be the difference at Hillsborough. Wednesday’s interest in the player was well documented over the January transfer window with, thankfully, our man-of –the-moment staying put at Griffin Park. At least, for now.

I’m sure he’ll have a huge point to prove. Both for the Brentford fans and, likewise, his would be employers to show just what they have missed out on. There is a huge resignation amongst the Griffin Park faithful to the fact that this is only a short term stay of execution and, regardless, Alan will still be off in the summer.

He has the absolute ability to play in the Premier League and could quite likely feature in the Euro 2016 finals this summer. If, and of course we don’t know what has been said behind closed doors, a move is on the cards then much better to do it to a team that he knows will be in the top flight rather than making an educated guess now .

Of course, there is also the opportunity for Brentford to continue the rebuilding programme around a hard core of experienced players such as Judge, David Button, Jake Bidwell and Sam Saunders. Still, all that is a long way off and, at least if club optimism is to be believed, it might still be us pushing for the top flight in three months. Believe me, I’d love to be eating my words on that front.

The other news of interest for Brentford fans is the latest ‘giveaway’ from kitman Bob Oteng. This ever popular competition returns next weekend with Bob already promising that the Derby game will feature, “a sentimental giveaway with a crazy guessing subject.

Fast becoming my favourite part of the week, Bob will be doing well to surpass his last ‘guessing subject’ – how many fouls Keith Stroud would award in our game at Brighton.

Whatever it is, he has nailed the season in two words – ‘sentimental’ and ‘crazy’. We love our Bees but only a few could deny it hasn’t been an emotional rollercoaster.

And with 16 games still to go, I reckon we’ve still got a few surprises left to come.

Bob crystal ball

Kitman Bob – man of mystery and king of crazy competitions

Nick Bruzon

From storming mad to a storm in TW8

11 Jan

And relax Brentford fans. Before we start to look ahead to Middlesbrough and Burnley, just a quick note to say thanks for all the feedback on social media this weekend. Specifically, regarding Saturday night’s column about the FA Cup against Walsall and the visit of FC Midtjylland. Football is a game that has always polarised opinions (just ask any visitor to the GPG) but the reaction to this one on Facebook and Twitter was amongst the most extreme I’ve ever seen. I have no idea if anybody in the club reads this column but would hope that they at least note this has clearly been an emotive subject for the supporters.

Monday morning. With Middlesbrough due here in just over 36 hours, the rain of the weekend has been followed by an overnight downpour of biblical proportions (is there any other type?) in TW8. At the time of writing (6.30am) it is still tipping down in Brentford. One can only hope that the drainage system is working and the Griffin Park pitch holds up.

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View from the terrace – the rain was constant on Saturday

To be fair, since the farce at the start of the season that saw it needing to be relaid just two games in the surface has been magnificent. Whilst it was clearly greasy on Saturday, I didn’t notice it overly cutting up. However, with another three hours of rain due on Tuesday afternoon according to the BBC, one can only imagine what referee Gavin Ward (oh, joy) will make of things when he carries out his pitch inspection.

I’m sure we’ll be fine but, equally, with conditions likely to be slick it could be a fast paced game. Certainly, I’m expecting a huge reaction from Brentford – both players and fans. Whilst Saturday was absolutely gutting, we are still placed in an extremely interesting position. A minimum of three points this week will see us close in further on two promotion rivals.

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The current BBC table shows how crucial points are this week

It is, being honest, a season defining week. The cup is over but the league is very much alive – if we can do what we know we can do. I’d love to see the likes of Toums, Tarks and the Judge start this one. They were sorely missed on Saturday but the transfer stories doing the rounds may still take this out of our hands

Middlesbrough, of course, are seen by many as some form of bogey team. Three league wins and two play off semi final victories in the last 16 months certainly make Boro’ the form team when it comes to games between our respective sides.

Then again, I don’t pay too much attention to history. Do so and you’ll beat yourself before you even leave the dressing room.

Personally, my only focus is on getting three points. Former Bees promotion hero Adam Forshaw will be down with his new side and whilst it would be nice to show him how we’ve progressed since last season, I’d settle for a scrappy 1-0.

Let’s just hope we don’t give him a half time lap of honour.

Nick Bruzon

Who can upset the Status Quo at Christmas?

24 Dec

In the Premier League, at least, Christmas time is usually considered a strong indication of how the table is going to play out come season end. With Leicester City sweeping aside all comers and Watford, Brentford’s rivals for promotion last season, just one point off the Champions League slots, one can only hope things remain as such. If only to shake up the somewhat moribund status quo that has settled on the top flight in recent years.

More importantly though, watching Chelsea self-destruct and Louis Van Gaal flounce out of a Manchester United press conference whilst the likes of Watford and Bournemouth start to get noticed for the right reasons, gives even more reasons for optimism. These were teams that Brentford were doing battle with in the Championship last season yet now they are ripping up the Premier League rule book. So do the same principals apply to the Championship table at this time of year and could the impossible happen?

Bees at Watford

Watford – Brentford. Last season Championship. Next season Premier?

Well, Middlesbrough were my tip to be Champions at the start of the campaign and they’ve really started to lock down their position at the top. Indeed, Saturday’s emphatic 3-0 win at Brighton was a huge statement of intent as to their title credentials and a massive line in the sand for others team to dare cross.

To be quite honest, I can only see them getting stronger and they still get my vote to finish the season with, at the very least, automatic promotion if not as champions. After that, though, it looks like the wobbles are setting in.

Hull City have lost 3 out of the last 5, including a 2-0 shock at Rotherham United a few days ago. Brighton have only picked up 3 wins from their last 10 league games whilst for Burnley it is 1 out of 7(seven).

Derby County have got second place, at present, but the nerves they’ve seen over the last two seasons are sure to start playing at the back of the mind. A 90th minute play off choke to the Loftus Road mob was bad enough but to then follow this with self-destruction at home to hopeless Reading in the final game last time out can only start the demons rearing their heads soon.

The point being that this is wide open and by no means a certainty as to who will finish where. Brentford can only go into the Boxing Day game with Brighton in buoyant mood. Hot of the back of our own 4-2 win over Huddersfield Town, the team are rampant whilst there is nothing but a warm and fuzzy glow around Griffin Park at present as evidenced by the wonderful events of Tuesday night.

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The BBC table shows the chasing pack are hot on the heels of the play-off zone

Three more points on Saturday could, conceivably, put us amongst that play-off pack and from there, who knows? Could we almost be in that sacrilegious scenario of hoping QPR can get a Boxing Day win over Ipswich Town in sixth place? I’ll leave that one to you and your conscience, whilst just hoping we fulfill our side of that deal.

Being realistic though, come season end I don’t think we’ll be promoted. At least not automatically. The table shows a huge gap whilst we all know the myriad reasons for a start which was, for many fans, much slower than expected. For me it will be Middlesbrough and Hull City but after that the jury really is out.

Brentford are starting to fly and we have as good a chance as anybody. Lee Carsley helped us take off and Dean Smith has continued that momentum. I genuinely believe we’ll get the win on Saturday whilst we take a huge crowd to Reading on Monday. At the time of writing only a handful of tickets remain for that one.

The Premier League may, normally, be predictable, but I think it would take a very brave man to call this division. Or a foolish one. And as I most definitely fit into the latter category, I’m going to do it…

Brentford WILL finish top six. After that though, it’s the play-offs for The Bees. 9th time lucky?

Hey, if Bournemouth can post back-to-back League wins over Chelsea and Manchester United… If Leicester City can top the Christmas table… If Watford can start to think about the Champions League, then ANYTHING is possible… My son even believes an old man with a beard is going to squeeze down our chimney tomorrow and leave some gifts under the tree. Whilst I’ve had to tell him that Jonathan Douglas won’t be visiting, you’ve still got to go with the improbable at this time of year.

And finally… I’m all for upsetting the status quo but there’s nothing upsetting about the real Status Quo. From the world of pop music, that is.

This may not get as much airplay as the best ever festive record – Shakin’ Stevens: Merry Christmas, Everyone – as if anybody needed a reminder, but it comes a very close second in terms of quality.

What better gift can I give you than the gift of…The Quo. Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

From ’81 – ’97…and beyond

14 Oct

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

Martin Lange - as pictured on the official site yesterday

Martin Lange – as pictured on the official site yesterday

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

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

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

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

The Holdsworth shorts

The Holdsworth shorts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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