Tag Archives: play offs

Now isn’t the time for gloating.

17 May

For Brentford, the season is over. A third successive finish in the top ten of the Championship and some of the most exciting play we’ve seen in years was the hallmark of a job very well done. For Fulham, Reading, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday there is one additional bite of the cherry via the play-offs. Or, should that be, was ?

To paraphrase popular music’s The Spice Girls last night, was the night, that four become three. Fulham did what we needed them to do and lost out at Reading, going down 2-1 on aggregate to ensure that, along with the Loftus Road mob, there will be three West London teams in the Championship next season.

Despite all the giving it large on Twitter in recent weeks, it has come to nothing. Clappers. Richard Osman. The neutral stand. The ghost of Michael Jackson. The gin bar. Clappers (so bad they had to be mentioned twice). Brian Guest. An inability to sell out your own ground for the big games. We’ve got them all to look forward to again in the Championship next season. And I can’t wait.

smilelaughBut this isn’t the time for gloating. Oh no. Us Brentford fans know the pain of the play-offs. Our tilt at the Premier League two seasons ago being the most recent of several, what we’ll politely call ‘challenging’, attempts to earn promotion via this roulette wheel of nerves, choking and pressure.

Likewise, it would be fair to say that Fulham were one of the better sides to visit Griffin Park this season. An attractive brand of football whilst even the game at the Cottage should have seen them going in at half time with at least a three goal lead. Such were the chances created yet not taken in a game which, with Leeds United still alive at that point, they had to win to guarantee a play-off place.

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View from the stand – Brilliant Bentley does his thing at The Cottage

That it ended 1-1 tells you everything you need to know about Brentford but, perhaps, gave a greater clue as to Fulham’s own ability to perform under pressure. When they needed to find the back of the net, the combination of a quality opposition goalkeeper and the inability to hit a barn door in a brewery with a banjo were the architects of their own shooting themselves in the foot.

The other thing to catch my eye yesterday concerned the legend that is kitman Bob. We all know how amazing he is and how lucky Brentford are to have him around. Anybody who follows him on Twitter would have seen yet another reason why on Tuesday. Something all the sweeter for the fact that we wouldn’t even have known about but for Maxime Colin blowing Bob’s trumpet.

What a gesture. Especially for the goalkeeper (That. Red)….

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Max, Matt and Bob say it with shirts

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

Who wants it most? There’s all to play for in West London today.

29 Apr

What a few days. There have been awards, goal of the season and of course a game or two coming up with Saturday seeing a huge day for West London football. Brentford travel to Fulham, hot on the heels of last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. It was an encounter which saw Jota’s latest stunner wrap up the points in a game where, at times, we played some quite sumptuous football yet at others Dan Bentley and the linesman kept us in it. However, the net result was anther three points for the Bees and QPR still flirting with relegation. As for Fulham…..

Well, what can you say? They are in with a very real chance of making the play offs, as it stands, and have even finished above Brentford for the first time in three seasons. The table doesn’t lie and they’ve slowly reeled in Leeds United et al to finally break into the top 6. A derby day win for them will all but mathematically see that play off spot guaranteed, with the gap to 7th (seventh) currently 3 points and +13 goal difference.

But Brentford have their own motivation. Fulham’s win at Griffin Park earlier this season was as decisive as a 2-0 scoreline could be. Much as it pains me to admit, they were one of the better teams to come to this part of West London and we were very much left in second place that night.

Equally painful, it saw their first win over us since both teams returned to the Championship – albeit from different directions. Prior to that one, 2014/15 had seen Jota do his thing in the last minute at Griffin Park and that screamer from Stuart Dallas very much the pick of the bunch in a 4-1 rout at The Cottage. Last time out, only an errant linesman denied us all three points away from home with Jota ruled offside as he headed it in for 3-2. The return fixture saw the season come to an end in some style – Tom Field making his debut and Sam Saunders getting us of to a flier as we were three goals clear by half time to comfortably wrap up the points.

View from the stand - Stuart Dallas celebrates doing that thing.....

View from the terrace – Stuart Dallas after doing that thing at The Cottage…

The Bees were crowned Kings of West London. Again. Then this season happened. With David Button between the sticks, Fulham have had the honours.  A return to winning ways will be very much the requirement. The possibility of a nil points against these neighbours, moreso given such strong previous form, is just not on the agenda.

Then there’s the current table. The Bees are just two points and one place off last season’s points total with the potential to finish a place higher than our previous 9th. What a wonderful incentive to go for it. And that’s without pooping a party.

For the last month or so it has become apparent that Fulham are heading upwards. Crashing this one and doing Leeds United a favour, no matter how distasteful that might seem, is a very real possibility and has long been something many fans have been aware of. Now the game is here and that chance is available for both teams. Who will take it? At 3pm we find out….

As for QPR, they host fellow bottom six side Nottingham Forest still needing two points to guarantee safety (third bottom Blackburn, needing two wins themselves, have too close a goal difference for a draw to be sufficient). With Rangers in freefall, current form of LLLLLL leaves them with nobody to blame but themselves for their predicament.

Much as the situation is a novel one, they won’t go down. Birmingham City are just horrific whilst Blackburn still need six points from a season that concludes with a trip to Griffin Park That said, wins today for Mark Warburton, Birmingham and Blackburn could make the final round of games very interesting indeed.

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Can Fulham make the play offs, Brentford beat last season or QPR stay up?

All that of course is to unfold later today. However, there’s been plenty to keep us intrigued over the last few days. Alongside the Player Of The Year vote, supporters are now able to nominate their winner for goal of the season.

Oh, wow. If picking POTY was tough then this is another level of hard. I struggled to draw up a shortlist, let alone select a winner. They are, all ten, corkers. The build up play and finish for Josh Clarke v Reading, Nico’s piledriver in the Birmingham City game, Lasse Vibe finishing off the most incredible run from Sergi Canos at Forest or Jota’s recent pair against Derby County and QPR.

In the end, it’s just been an excuse to watch the video again. And again. The level of Burridgegasm also being an added help. The more excitable our commentator par-excellence gets, the better the goal seems to be has become a handy yardstick when trying to rank these in some sort of order.

In the end, I’ve voted. It had to be Jota. It had to be QPR. Derby County was that close and I’ve swung back and forth between the two of them yet, in the end, the way he collected Nico’s wonderful pass was the deciding factor.

That’s my opinion. Yours will quite likely, and quite rightly, be different. All we can say for sure is that whoever gets it will be a worthy recipient. You can see the video below and vote here.

Which is top of the pile?

Next up, awards. It was a double celebration for the club yesterday as the EFL have awarded us both their Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season aswell as the Friendliest Club Staff Award. Particular recognition has been given to both the ticket office staff and the stewards in the family enclosure.

One can’t begin to stress how deserved these awards are. Part of the pleasure in supporting Brentford FC comes from our wonderful family atmosphere. The club, players and staff cannot do enough for supporters – of all ages. The ‘meet the players’ pre-season event and Junior Bees Christmas party are staples on our calendar whilst who doesn’t get excited, young or old, when receiving a high five or fist bump from Buzz and Buzzette?

pay what you can Buzzette

Buzzette always makes time for fans – of all ages

The players and staff never fail to stop for an autograph or photo  – whether in the ground or in the street – an attitude that courses through all echelons of club. We’ve had supporters heavily involved in the kit launch this season whilst the care and attention shown to the match day mascots is just staggering.

What could have been quite an intimidating experience for a three year old – walking out in front of over 10,000 supporters – turned into one of the best days of his life. Big thanks there, again, to Harlee Dean and apologies once more for the lollipop covered hands you had to hold walking out (that’s HB, not me).

HB Harlee and Dan

The smile says its all (apologies again for the sticky fingers)

Then you’ve got kitman Bob Oteng. His own BBgiveaway is the stuff of legend but even outside of this he is a cult figure among Bees fans. His reaction to those who regularly sing his name at away games as he goes where he wants on the visitor’s pitch is always wonderful. Even the likes of Chief Executive Mark Devlin, Chairman Cliff Crown or Mr Benham himself consistently take time to respond to and interact with fans on social media.

As for the ticket office staff ! Special mention and rightly so. We’ve all had some form of interaction with them. We all know just how incredible the level of service they offer is . We all know how consistently friendly and helpful they are. Doing what could be deemed a somewhat stressful job – given how demand often outstrips supply – isn’t something I’d be able to cope with.

I could go on. But instead, why not read the official take on the awards which you can find on Brentford ‘official’?

And finally, Billy Reeves & Grown Men In Tears have closed the door on the Welcome Home, King Jota charity single. The video has come down from YouTube and the song is no longer available for download.

The net result has been a donation of £350 for Prostate Cancer Research. As Billy noted himself on Twitter yesterday, “not bad 4 an arvo’s fun

Not bad indeed, Billy.

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Billy shares the news, and the love, yesterday

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

Derby not the only Casualty as Wigan lose out on ‘chant of the year’

18 May

As with yesterday, Brentford know another Championship opponent for next season after the play-offs claimed another victim (although it was a lot tighter than most neutrals imagined). Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United went to incredible lengths to distract people from talking about ‘that bomb’ whilst, apparently, Will Grigg is still on fire. Amongst other things.

Where to start though ? Why not Manchester United, given how ‘the bomb that never was’ (thankfully) has dominated the news these last few days. Well, their abandoned game with Bournemouth took place last night and, on the pitch, whilst the 19-0 ‘spoiler’ that would have kerplunked Manchester City for the final Champion’s League spot never happened, Louis van Gaal’s team got the  win that most people expected.

This, even if Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal denied his own ‘keeper, a share of the Premier League’s ‘golden glove’ for most shut outs in the season. Petr Cech beating David de Gea to the award by 16 clean sheets to 15. (Stop sniggering at the back. And the Ethiad).

But it was pre-kick off where my social media timeline awoke from it’s pre-kick off slumber. Specifically because United had decided to paint three of their child mascots blue.

Not in some sort of homage to neighbours City but, infact, to promote the forthcoming X-Men film. Ironically, a film I’d imagine most of them aren’t even old enough to watch judging by the photograph which appeared c/o Telegraph football’s Twitter feed.

Telegraph x-men mascots

This really happened….

As marketing decisions go, it’s one that seems to rank alongside our own #bignewambitions . Certainly in terms of the bizarre, if nothing else. Whilst you have to say that it did get people talking is there no length they won’t stoop to in order for a bit more commercial revenue ? Body painting children in the colours of your arch rivals to promote a movie?

As one twitter wag noted, “let’s hope they didn’t have to stay painted from Sunday”.

Still, if all of this distracted people from Bournemouth’s chant of the season in  “Shall we check the bogs for you?” then who am I to criticise?

And as a side note, congratulations to Bournemouth in defying the expectations of just about every critic and amateur pundit in securing a second series  season in the Premier League. Despite playing what would seem to be fast and loose with the FFP rules on the way to beating us to a promotion spot last season, like Leicester City they have still punched well above above their expected weight this time around. Here’s hoping we can join them again soon.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of this. Another Tuesday night saw another surrendering of the remote control to Mrs. Bruzon for Holby City. It’s all about the trade off and saving the zapper for ‘the big games’ . Besides, as we all knew, there was nothing interesting going to happen in the Man U game whilst Derby County had no hope in the play-offs at Hull City AFC after going down 3-0 in the first leg at home.

And yet again another example of why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of pundit, manager, informed observer or football fan with half a brain. With just over half an hour on the clock, Derby had swept into a two goal lead .

Could the impossible actually happen? No. Mrs Bruzon wouldn’t surrender the remote. And on pitch, things remained the same. Meaning Hull go though 3-2 on aggregate whilst, for Derby, it was a third successive capitulation in the most heartbreaking of knock out tournaments.

As with Brighton in yesterday’s column, it is a pain us Brentford fans can well relate to. On the plus side, for us, another good away trip to add to the calendar next season as at least one lengthy journey will now be crossed off the fixture list.

And talking of Brentford – finally – you may not be aware but apparently Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, now plying his trade at Wigan Athletic, is on fire. More to the point, if you believe the (apparently) popular terrace chant, “Your defence is terrified”.

I’m genuinely pleased for Will. We all know that things didn’t quite work out for him at Brentford with his cause not being helped by injury. He arrived with a huge reputation and a lot of anticipation yet ended up leaving with a goal scoring record that was, I’m sure as much for the player as the supporters, somewhat below expectation.

4 goals in 34 league games (including a brace and missed penalty on his home debut v Sheffield United) are, if we’re being honest, not the sort of figures to strike this supposed terror into the heart of any defence.

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick.

Yet, you can’t knock his subsequent League 1 record with MK Dons or Wigan Athletic. It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how he steps up a division to the Championship. Have Brentford made the biggest mistake of all time in letting him go after his loan spell at Stadium MK or will this be proven to have been a good decision? Only time will tell.

The main reason for finally jumping on the “Grigg/fire’ bandwagon is the news that Wigan chairman David Sharpe has now rewarded the supporter purported to have created the chants with a free season ticket. Fair dues and well played.

But by that logic, if Ciff Crown is reading (you never know) how about making a similar gesture at Brentford? Whilst not ‘chants’ per se, I can lay claim to:  “And this is Saunders territory” for the awarding of any set-piece within a 25 yard radius of the goal line . This, regardless of whether the perma-tanned wing wizard and dead ball demi-god is even on the pitch. It is a lucky mantra that has worked on numerous occasions.

Likewise, I’ve got half-shares in, “Don’t take it short; it never works”  (along with a more colourful variant) whenever we are about to take a short corner. So far, this tactical advice about the most maligned of set-pieces has proven correct.

How about it Cliff? If it’s good enough for Wigan….?

Wigan chairman re Grigg

Bournemouth fans may disagree with this sharp observation

The other piece of Brentford news to catch my eye was something shared by Brentford video whizz kid (and Alex Pritchard lookalike ) Sean Ridley .

The Football League have released the new ‘official font’ and numbering to be used on next season’s kits.And, it’s fair to say, that reactions have been mixed.

I like the font, I’m not convinced by the look of the numbering but I’m very disconcerted by the apparent lack of brackets for supporters looking to get a replica shirt printed up. Looks like another season for yours truly without a: Saunders 7 (seven).

One year, club shop. One year……

new font

coming soon to a back near you

And finally, as ever at this time of the year, my own moment of self-promotion and (more importantly) thanks to all those who have so far downloaded either The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again or the three year anthology : The Bees are going up. I remain shocked but hugely respectful of the fact that anybody would 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

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

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

Bees have nothing to lose and everything to gain at Middlesbrough

15 Sep

Brentford complete their mini-break away from West London, with the game against Middlesbrough following hot on the heels of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United. But will it be a case of ‘Grim Up North’ or coming back home with some more positive news after last season’s footballing lesson at the hands of the Smoggies?

Brentford, of course, surprised most observers in reaching the Play-Offs last season. Those of us present saw a team punching well above their weight as household names and, so called, ‘big clubs’ were dispatched with all the ease of a supporter polishing off a balti pie i.e. easily. The Bees trounced the likes of Wolves, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United as we came dangerously close to emulating Bournemouth and reaching the Premiership.

But Middlesbrough were a different kettle of fish. Over four games, including the two-legged Play-Off semi, Brentford ended up on the wrong end of a 10-1 aggregate scoreline. Middlesbrough won all four games, including a 4-0 league victory at the Riverside that Mark Warburton would later say “wasn’t acceptable, especially after the break when we weren’t good enough”.

View from the terrace - Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last time out

View from the terrace – Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last time out

For all that Warbs was a hero to many and did some wonderful things with his team, when it came to Middlesbrough we were most definitely second place. But can Marinus do any better?

Well, that was then and this is now. Whilst it is nice to recognise previous results when they go your way, they are nothing more than a statistical nicety used purely (and there’s nothing wrong with that) to remind the opposition of previous dominance.

But when it comes down to it, current form is the only thing of particular relevance. Whatever happened last season is done. Middlesbrough and Brentford find themselves both locked in the Championship hoping for another crack at promotion.

There wasn't much, beyond this, to smile about last season

There wasn’t much, beyond this, to smile about last season

Boro’ are in third place already, behind runaway leaders Brighton and Cardiff City (Hmmm. That’ll last). They’ve picked up 11 points from 6 games, including 3 wins. Interestingly, their solitary defeat was at home to Bristol City. That’ll be the same team Brentford recorded their first win of the season against, with the 4-1 hammering at Ashton Gate. Mind you, that was also our only win of the season as the other four games have seen two draws and two losses.

Nobody gives us a chance. Certainly, outside of TW8. But then that’s the way I like it. Even my online bookmaker (who I use purely for reference purposes), has the Bees as 9/2 to pick up all three points. It wasn’t going to be easy, let alone midweek when there’ll be only a handful of the super loyal present (at one point, it was touch and go as to whether a coach would even be running).

Full marks to them for making this most torturous of trips. Especially off the back of the weekend when we’d have been denied the luxury of being able to stay in the region. It’s been a while since the odds and situation have been so heavily stacked against us, yet the optimistic part of me thinks this could be the night. And simply because nobody gives us a prayer.

There’s nothing like home support, expecting a massacre, to get frustrated when it fails to materialise. And as we know, that can transmit to the players. I expect Marinus to have the defensive handbrake on full lock today and then look to catch Middlesbrough on the break.

Then again, that’s what most people expect. Could he shock us all and go for all out attack? Looking to create chances at Leeds United on Saturday certainly worked, even if we weren’t quite able to finish them all off.

Ultimately, I haven’t a clue. I’m just the numpty on the terrace but you can be sure I’ll be glued to Beesplayer this evening to follow all the action. It might not be pretty. It certainly won’t be easy. But after last season’s 4 defeats, could it be different?

At 7.45, we find out…..

Nick Bruzon

Forget about Leeds and Hull – Ipswich Town await !

7 Aug

Football starts this weekend! Brentford entertain Ipswich Town at Griffin Park in a game that has almost caught us unawares, such is the recent focus that has been placed on Leeds United buying Stuart Dallas and Hull City bidding for two more of our players.

Forget about it. Easier said than done, I realise, but Stuart Dallas has gone and there’s nothing we can do about it. Except, perhaps, remind ourselves of all those players who have come in over the summer. And at this point I must apologise toRyan Williams, Josh McEachran and Konstantin Kerschbaumer whose names were omitted from yesterday’s column. Hey, let’s put it down to the tremendous strength in depth that Marinus is pulling together.

The Hull City stories will no doubt hang around like a bad smell but, again, there’s nothing us supporters can do about them. Steve Bruce is currently sniffing around anything with a pulse, much like a rather desperate mature student at a fresher’s week disco but, so far, nobody from TW8 has (officially) succumbed to his charms.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

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

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

book 3 and 4 cover

Its all about the kit, man. And the Bees.

 

Return of the Mac will see first look at our future

19 Jul

Finally, it feels as though things are getting closer. There has been plenty of build up from Brentford supporters, the club and the press alike but pre-season prep cranks up a notch today after what seems an interminable wait since Middlesbrough got one over us in the play off semis. With the Mark Warburton saga finally being closed out following his move to Rangers, and those incessant transfer rumours going silent, for now (Andre Gray to QPR, Hull City, just about anywhere being the chief concern) perhaps we can concentrate on the business at hand. A match. At Boreham Wood.

Sunday afternoon sees a 3pm fixture against the National League (former Conference) outfit who have recently been strengthened by none other than Charlie MacDonald. But it is less the opposition that is of interest than fans’ first chance to see Marinus and his team in action, first hand.

Hopefully not a sign of things to come

Just two of several posts promoting pyrotechnics

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

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

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are !