Tag Archives: play offs

One down. Five to go. We’re still in this.

8 Apr

One down, five to go. Brentford made it back to back wins as Neal Maupay’s penalty and Daniel Bentley’s record (at this level for a Bees ‘keeper) 14th clean sheet of the campaign proved to be the difference over an Ipswich Town side that began the game with Luke Hyam in the team and ended it with 10 players after running out of substitutes. Whilst, as ever, the likes of Beesotted and ‘official’ are usually the places to go for your match reports, in this case they really are. For reasons out of my control I had to miss this one. Instead of sitting at Griffin Park, I found myself holed up in a random pub with some random Barnsley fans (amongst others), watching the Merseyside derby and getting somewhat over excited by the Tykes comeback against Sheffield United. This before Birmingham City managed an 87th minute equaliser against fellow relegation candidates Burton Albion that brought everybody present back down to earth with a bump.

By that point though, it was too late to be overly concerned. Much as I’d love to see ‘ten times better’ Birmingham slip through the relegation trapdoor, primary focus has to be on Brentford. We’d absolutely done the needful despite a butt clenching final few minutes of time added on that had been spent waiting for the scores to refresh and confirm our 1-0 victory.

To be honest, I had considered spending the afternoon with Mark Burridge sneaking into my ear via a discreetly placed headphone. However, despite the wise words normally spoken by our commentator par excellence the lure of another beer in the afternoon sunshine and the somewhat less appealing prospect of Stoke City v Spurs on TV won out.

In a way, I’m glad. Not so much the sitting through the Stoke game (if ever there was any added incentive needed to go for the play-offs then just the prospect of bypassing them in the divisions should be sufficient) but more missing out on a match that sounded hard work. With Mick McCarthy setting his Ipswich team up on us man for man, it was always going to be a tough one for the fans. If you had to miss a game then in retrospect, and from a footballing perspective, this one sounds like it was up there.

Flicking through social media at full time, Chief Executive Mark Devlin seems to have summarised the feelings of most fans when he noted : “Thanks for your support and well done to the team. It was by no means a classic but the players got the job done.”

Likewise, Bees boss Dean Smith was quick to pay tribute to both his counterpart and the opposition. His post match interview (which you can catch up on in full over on ‘official’) includes the observation that Ipswich “Made it very difficult for us to get our free-flowing football going. We found chances hard to come by. We were due a penalty like that; it was soft and I would be slightly annoyed if it was given against us.

Hey, sometimes you just have to take the chances when they are offered. At this stage in the game, a win is a win. Whether scrappy, deserved, fortunate or other. That gap to the playoffs remains five points with five games to go. It’s all about getting the result and that’s what Brentford did. Whilst it may not have sounded like the most aesthetically pleasing performance, you get a feeling of what this one meant to all concerned. MrJamie88 summarising it quite beautifully on Twitter, with a bit of help from Sergi Canos.

Next up, the trip to Nottingham Forest awaits on Tuesday. There are five games to go. Five mini cup finals. Keep picking up the wins and I’ve no doubt we’ll be celebrating like a certain Russell Slade once so famously opined. Cliche alert but…..it really is about taking one game at a time whilst, perhaps, hoping for a favour along the way. It happened in 91/92; it could happen again.

Yet without wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves, at the bottom end of the table I’ve got half an eye on Barnsley. Yesterday showed yet again why I’d love them to stay up. Great fans and great camaraderie. There’s the added incentive that their safety would put even more pressure on Garry Monk’s Birmingham City team. With our final away game of the campaign being a trip to Oakwell, how big could that one turn out to be? Hopefully their fate will be well sealed by that point – in a positive way. Hopefully we’ll have carried on picking up the points that will make that game of quintessential relevance.

Before that, though, we’ve the Forest game and then a West London derby double header . First the trip to Fulham and then the home game with QPR. With just that handful of games to go, the season has got a ridiculous amount of fun left in it still and I can’t wait.

As one final word of note, how great to have Alan Judge back in a Griffin Park starting XI. Moreso given the opposition and their own line up. I won’t deny I felt a genuine pang of excitement when the team sheet was published at 2pm. What a journey back from the depths. What a team to do it against.

Nice one, Alan.

4E705055-F53A-4816-8E0E-378E903184AC

The view from Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

 

Advertisements

Six of the best and who knows what could happen…

7 Apr

Match day. Saturday. Apparently. With the games coming thick and fast for Brentford after a hectic Easter weekend it’s hard to tell where we are at times. Yet following that four day flurry which saw the draw with Sheffield United followed by our wonderful win on the road at Bristol City, today Ipswich Town are the visitors to Griffin Park. Could we take inspiration from Liverpool to make the seemingly impossible, possible?

Ipswich Town. A club who have a deserved place in the footballing record books. A club with whom even just for Brentford, there seems to have been more than a crossing of paths in recent seasons. Of course, ‘official’ have picked the 2-2 that welcomed in the mercifully brief Marinus era for their ‘moment in time’ on the club website today.

Bru Ipswich Brentford

Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the Marinus era.

That one being a game which featured the return of a club legend in the eyes of many supporters, Jonathan Douglas. His only meaningful contribution being to break Jota as late goals from Andre Gray and number 26 salvaged a situation that seemed well beyond redemption with the score line reading 2-0 to the visitors and just moments on the clock. The post match handbags between the players masking the true extent of the Spaniard’s injury.

Douglas hits jota post Ipswich

Bees Player viewers saw Dougie appear to give Jota a ‘flamboyant slap’ at FT

You could also cite the game at Portman Road the previous season. Not so much the 1-1 score line, in which Dougie proved hero rather than villain this time around, but more for Daryl Murphy missing an open goal that even Ian Moose would have fancied himself to score. BBC Radio Suffolk matchday pundit Mick Mills would later describe it as: “Breathtaking. It will go into the top ten all time misses. If you can find ten worse ones I’d like to see them.”

Hey. Everybody’s a critic. We’re all master tacticians and 40 goal a season strikers when watching from the comfort of the terrace, tv or gantry. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a commentator got something wrong and you can’t knock Murphy’s fine, fine record at Ipswich. That said, I’m still amazed at how he failed to find the back of the net.

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

And Murphy must score. Erm….

Yet for me (Clive), the quintessential coming together took place on Boxing Day of 2014. With Mark Warburton’s Brentford team riding the crest of the #NovemberKings wave (it doesn’t get any easier typing those words), Ipswich visited Griffin Park for a battle between the teams placed 2nd and 3rd in the Championship. With our game kicking off at lunchtime, whoever won would be guaranteed to top the table, even if just for a few hours.

The prospect of Brentford reaching these dizzy heights was one which was not lost on us. The December 26th game is always a special one anyway. The chance to shake off any excesses of the day before, escape the in-laws for a few hours whilst catching up with your friends and football family. The thought of what three points might bring made this one even more tantalising.

Nineteen seconds after kick off, that man Murphy took the wind out of our sails with an opening goal that was made all the more incredible by Brentford having actually had the ball to start the game. Not only was it under our control but we conspired to give it away and gift our visitors a belated Christmas present that was gratefully accepted.

Things got worse. With less than half an hour on the clock we’d had our fourth attempt to perfect that kick-off routine as the score leapt to 0-3. Despite a late brace from Sam Saunders we were never in this one and his pair only served to dress up a 4-2 scoreline in what was as one sided a game as I’ve seen in a while.

That was then. This is now. Brentford have six games to go to reel in a five point gap on the play off places. It’s a huge ask, for sure, but with the finish line in sight then what better time to line ourselves up for one final push. I’ll be honest, for huge parts of this season it is a push that I wouldn’t have bet on us being in a position to make. Yet, somehow, Dean Smith and his boys have kept at it. The results have kept coming and some have even worked in our favour.

Monday’s defeat of Bristol City was as dominant as they come, with Neal Maupay’s goal sealing the points that our domination had warranted. It was a performance that brings us bang up to date and in with a shout if the Bees can hold their nerve. Moreso, it was a game that marked Alan Judge’s first start for The Bees since the horrific leg break he suffered as a result of the assault by Luke Hyam at Portman Road back in April 2016. To go from the verge of the Euros to that long recovery must have been incredibly hard to take.

Full kudos to Alan and the Brentford back room team. Whether he starts this one remains to be seen but a Brentford team with Alan Judge in the side are a stronger outfit than one without him.

I really can’t wait to see how it plays out. Anybody watching the Liverpool – Manchester City game in the Champions League during the week will have seen what a difference it makes playing in a passionate arena. What an impact it can have on opposition who are streets ahead in terms of financial clout and league position. That’s not so much to compare Ipswich to Manchester City but more to show the impact a united crowd can have. It was something truly special to witness. For all the awfulness of having to play ‘Liverpool Glory, Glory Anfield European nights’ bingo, the Kop really were like a 12th man (house!).

The Ealing Road stand may not have the same depth as that most iconic seat of football Valhalla. However, size isn’t everything and what we lack in stature we can more than make up for in noise. Here’s hoping that come 3pm, our fans come together to raise the roof. With ‘other results’ going our way and the players doing their thing, imagine what it will be like should that five point gap shrink any further?

Bring it on…..

DSC01316

Last time, at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

Bees blunted by Blades and random ref but what a celebration.

31 Mar

It’s a point closer to the play offs for both teams as a day that saw two controversial dismissals ended with Brentford and Sheffield United drawing 1-1. It was a day that ended with Daniel Bentley winning his personal battle with former Bee Clayton Donaldson as two great stops late on kept us alive. Bristol City, whose own last gasp equaliser at Barnsley gave hope to Birmingham City, are next up in what promises to be a real six-pointer at the right end of the table. With just 7(seven) games to go and the gap to the play-offs 7(seven) points, the chance of a spectacular climax to the season is still there. Just.

DSC01367

Brentford entertained Harchester United at Griffin Park on Saturday

What can you say about events at Griffin Park where there was a very real danger of having to call out the Coastguard? Well, if the Middlesbrough game was made uncomfortable for the supporters thanks to the snow, this time around it was Biblical levels of rain. Somewhat appropriate for the Easter Weekend and what was still, mostly, a very Good Friday.

Those who took one look at the torrents heading their way and bailed out of coming to this one did, at least, have the consolation of staying dry behind their computers or in front of the TV as it lashed down from the warm up to the post-match handshakes. The water was already spraying up off the surface as Yoann Barbet stroked home dead ball after dead ball in his pre-kick off routine. Conditions didn’t get any better.

By the time we got down to proper business, you could have launched a flotilla down by the Braemar Road touchline. Flo Jo in particular, perhaps ruing one second half challenge that left him soaked through in the quagmire. But if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Pack it up and go home. Not that there was anything particularly hot about yesterday, the first half especially.

DSC01346

View from the Braemar – Flo ended this one soaked through

That opening period being a somewhat tepid affair that saw even ‘angry dad’, my most favourite amongst those fans who sit around us in the Braemar Paddock (what genuine passion and enthusiasm that always stays the right side of ‘family’) remain silent for the vast majority of that opening period. The linesman on the near side saved the usual telling off that his performance so often warrants.

How things changed when the teams came back out after half time. There was vigour. There was gusto. There was the late arrival of Mrs Bruzon, delayed due to transport debacle. And as such, there was the customary goal for the opposition that her presence so often heralds.

If lucky pants, shirt and not shaving on a winning run work for some supporters, she’s almost the opposite. There have been several moments of what we shall simply call ‘unfortunate timing’ over the years. Within minutes of taking her seat, Sheffield United had taken the lead. A deflected effort from Chris Basham beating Daniel Bentley to make it 1-0. It spurred Brentford into life.

Yet, if Mrs B is somewhat of an albatross at times (in a footballing perspective), young Harry is the opposite. “Daddy. If we score a goal, will you lift me up?” he asked as play resumed.  Little more than ten minutes later, he was being raised aloft as Welsh international Chris Mepham (how good does that sound?) made it all square. His left footed drive from 12 yards out was followed up with the most incredible knee slide across the sodden surface.

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 08.11.49

Chris Mepham leads the celebratory charge

Talk about enjoying the moment of his first goal in league football. Yet who could blame him? What a wonderful season it has been for a player plucked from the B-team to the Bees first team. And from there to his national side.

It’s no wonder he celebrated as he did. For once, the horrific conditions aiding the cause There are plenty of tweets doing the rounds of this one. Take your pick. They’re all brilliant.

Yet if the goal was a moment of ecstasy, we were bought crashing back down to earth with a sickening bump moments later. With most supporters watching the celebration, over in the goal mouth referee Jeremy Simpson had taken umbrage with visiting goalkeeper Jamal Blackman lashing out at Ryan Woods. He was red carded yet, likewise, so was our own ginger Pirlo.

Having seen one version of the footage, I’m at a genuine loss as to why we’ve been penalised. Perhaps something was said to the ref or perhaps he had a better view. Perhaps he simply made the mistake that Woody’s subsequent reaction suggested. Who knows? Dean Smith told the waiting media after the game that he hadn’t seen the incident as yet. Perhaps on review he’ll then appeal.

It was a game changing moment. From Brentford pushing, it was United who once more gained the ascendency. Simon Moore was brought on between the sticks to join Clayton and Jack O’Connell as three ex Bees playing for the visitors. Yet it was Daniel Bentley who proved to be busiest from that moment on. He was the man responsible for us gaining the point which has kept faint play-off hopes still alive.

As Dean Smith would note in his press conference, “Nothing has changed. It is still must-win. The less games you have left then the less likely you are to make the Play-Offs if you don’t win games. We have gone four without a win now. We have played very well in two of those games and should have got something. We have to turn that around very quickly now on Monday.

So where do we go from here? Will the Bees appeal? Do we have any hope of the play-offs? A win at Bristol City is a must if that is to happen. Should we be content with aiming for a fourth successive top ten finish? Something that would, in itself, be an incredible achievement for a club with our history and budgetary challenges relative to our rivals.

When you have the likes of Sunderland (whose incredible 4-1 humbling of Derby County was THE result of the day) and Birmingham City tripping each other up at the bottom, it shows yet again that size, reputation and spending prowess count for nothing if you can’t do it when the ref blows his whistle.

Brentford couldn’t quite get the win yesterday. But given all that was going on, I’m well happy with a point.

Roll on Monday.

DSC01316

Where’s Karl Fletcher?

Nick Bruzon

Mamma Mia, here we go again. Brentford score big but who are this season’s dark horses?

1 Aug

With the Championship season almost upon us, it would be fair to say that anticipation is rising. Nowhere moreso than at Griffin Park where last night young Brentford fans were given the chance to meet their heroes at the now traditional summer ‘open day’. Sky Sports have launched their own season preview (remember the one Ian Holloway did last time out?) where along with the standard installation of Middlesbrough and Aston Villas as favourites, there’s no surprise for Bees fans. And the EFL have announced a shake up to penalty shoot outs that will have local journalists and bad bloggers in pun heaven.

First up, last night at Griffin Park. What can you say? It never ceases to amaze me just how incredible our players are. I’ve said this before but it needs to be said again. What for them could have been a tedious contractual obligation became a wonderful hour and a half (if not longer) for all those young fans lining up to get a peak behind the scenes and a photo with the stars. Not to mention an autograph or two.

IMG_9247 (1)

They were all, without question, wonderful. We got along quite late in the day yet the enthusiasm of the squad was infectious. Whatever Dean Smith and his staff are doing for squad morale is just incredible. What a brilliant group of players who went out of their way to welcome young supporters who might have been bit nervous / awestruck. (and that was just dad, although perhaps not so much of the young).

The entire squad was pretty much all there. Even new dad Maxime Colin, who one could have understandably expected to be on paternity leave. I don’t want to overly single anybody out although big thanks to Harlee, Lewis and Jota for their help with the picture. Hitting peak tiredness, somebody went very shy before composing himself after some enthusiastic words from his heroes.

Would you get this at another Championship team? Would the players be so welcoming? Would the club be so relaxed and open ? Would the club make such a great effort for their fans?  There was nothing corporate about this, it was just beautifully arranged. It was just Brentford. THANK YOU.

HB, Harlee, Lewis, Jota

Sky Sports. We all know what happened this time last season. Pundit Ian Holloway wrote his pre-season review in which he tipped the Bees for a poor season and relegation to League One. The rest is history.

Fast forward twelve months and whilst not the QPR boss with pen in hand, the TV company have published this year’s version. Divided into four categories of : Title contenders, Play-off hopefuls, Dark horses and Potential strugglers it looks at the so-called runners and riders in each category. So where do Brentford fit in?

The answer is a simple one. Nowhere. Not surprisingly they have Middlesbrough as favourites (I’d agree) along with Aston Villa – whom everybody is backing. I’m sorry, but I genuinely don’t get it. They were awful last season. Is a geriatric defender going transform them? Bring on Jota to run at him – Jake Bidwell, round 2.

But that aside, where are The Bees? Quite simply we don’t even warrant a passing mention.

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 05.18.40

Whilst I’m tipping us for fifth, I can sympathise with their reticence to perhaps label us play-off contenders. But for a team that have had three top ten finishes over our Championship life (including that play-off with Middlesbrough) and have bought exceptionally over the summer to not even be deemed a ‘dark horse’ is odd.

Then again, if you do want to see Brentford as a dark horse Rod Liddle in The Times has us marked up. Or should that be down? He has us as relegation candidates and scoops this year’s Ian Holloway award.

DGAyAwnXkAExLJv

Look – I love all this. Three full seasons in and still nobody fancies us. Nobody gives us a hope. We are the stealth bombers of the Championship. Flying very much undetected, under the radar and all the way to the top. Keep on ignoring us – even the TV channels don’t give us a look in over August and September – and that’s just fine by me. If we can say the same to the end of the transfer window then all the better.

Finally, penalty kicks. You may have seen this yesterday but the EFL have announced they are switching the traditional shoot out to the ABBA system for the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy (should anybody be watching) and play-offs. Effectively, the shoot out will be contested like a tennis tie-break where after the first team starts, teams then get two consecutive kicks each and then continues as such until we have a winner.

The blurb on the EFL site tells us that “The trial of the new system is being backed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in response to a hypothesis that the player taking the second kick is under greater mental pressure in the current format. Therefore, a different order of kickers will be trialled in an experiment to reduce any apparent advantage the team taking the first kick may have”.

Regular or ABBA. It’s still nerve wracking and exciting in equal measure. Although with the League cup starting next week, this doesn’t give huge amounts of time to prepare. Personally, I’m more interested in the pun potential off the back of this. Which manager will be sending out an SOS? Who will meet his Waterloo? At the end of the day (Clive), the winner takes it all.

Whatever your thoughts on the new system, I can see those headlines being crowbarred in already. Answers on a postcard to the Middlesex Chronicle, marked ‘pun’.

Then again, the only way this could have been bettered is rather than ABBA, the EFL had gone for Diana Ross on the penalty front…..

Nick Bruzon

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.

IMG_7244

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)….

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 06.48.45

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 !).

5jnd2T7V

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.

new-badge-bee

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….

image

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 07.41.20

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.

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 06.42.24

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.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 06.18.51

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