Tag Archives: Portman Road

More domination. More defeat. Thoughts after Town sting Bees.

19 Aug

Brentford fans, fire up the ‘copy/paste’. Wonderful attacking play (the first half especially). One way traffic. The proverbial kitchen sink chucked at the opposition. 65% possession and twenty-one attempts at goal compared to Ipswich Town’s four. Yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the points and kept a clean sheet with a 2-0 win that left the Bees bottom of the pile in the Championship after four games.

Ipswich aced the one stat that counts, goals scored. They played us like a fiddle. Martyn Waghorn’s 35th minute opener was so far against the run of play Mick McCarthy must have been almost embarrassed to take it. But we know better than to expect embarrassment from Mick. Who could forget his shameless comments about Luke Hyam’s assault on Alan Judge two seasons ago? And we know just what to expect from his Ipswich teams.

Solid at the back, we just couldn’t break them down in that final third. Cynical in the challenge, with minimal protection offered by referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle seemed set to ‘press and guess’ mode. Forget Oliver, Bonnie would have done a better job.

But let’s not gripe. With no Jota (dodgy lower back. Apparently) no Josh and no Rico once more it meant further changes were required. Maxime had to continue at left back with Dalsgaard at right. Flo Jo ahead of him with Ollie Watkins pushed out left. Despite all the pressing, nothing came. The Bees couldn’t find a way through despite Nico rattling the bar, Kamo coming close and Jozefzoon somehow conspiring to head straight down the keeper’s throat when unmarked in front of the goal.

We had chances; we couldn’t take them. Ipswich got their game together. Got their defence organised. Brentford couldn’t adapt. Too static. Too many players out of position. Even Lasse Vibe suffering an injury related ‘sub subbed’ that saw a debut for Theo Archibald.

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There was little return in the second half

By this point we were two down. Rather than come flying out of the traps to pick up where we’d left off, Brentford were bogged down. Joe Garner headed home a corner on 51 and that was it. Mr. Langford’s assistant confirming the validity of his effort via the medium of goal line technology and with it, consigning us to another nil points.

Try as we might, nothing came. Ipswich had it on lockdown. A fourth Championship win on the spin that sees them second only to Cardiff City in the fledgling table. Coming out of the stadium, there was nothing but plaudits from the home fans for our play. Acknowledgement that they’d ridden their luck early on.

All nice to hear but it doesn’t gloss over the fact that we haven’t scored and we’ve gone home empty handed with nothing but memories of good pies and what I saw BBC Billy Reeves declare as the “Best football font.” All very frustrating but take nothing away from Town.

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Nice font. Shame about the score

So what next? Even allowing for the absences, Dean has enough talent in his squad to fashion a wonderful team. Kamo, Romaine and Nico all looked a cut above. The first half especially. The second was typified by our inability to get in behind a progressively deeper and deeper Ipswich defence. By the lack of any real runners.

Bur he needs to get the tactics right. To get the selection right. Perhaps just get that run of luck – with injuries and even refereeing.

Am I worried? No. Look, I’m not a (complete) idiot. One point and bottom of the table isn’t anyone’s preferred position. Certainly not mine. But the first half was one of quite breathtaking forward play where we did everything but score. As with Forest, we conceded well into the first half and early into the second. Neither were particularly good goals to look back on and I’m sure Dean will have words. I hope he does.

The questions being, what does he learn and what does he do next? Can he eradicate these sloppy moments?

Equally, how is Jota’s back? Will it be a similar injury to Scott Hogan’s buttocks? Could Sergi return? Will we keep a clean sheet?

Talk to Brentford fans at the moment and the subject on everyone’s mind is, of course, Lionel Road. It would be great if we were discussing three points.

Roll on next weekend and Wolves when we get the chance.

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The first half, at least

Nick Bruzon

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Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

As Ipswich visit Brentford, Charlton go mad and Solo goes home.

13 Aug

Finally. Match day at Griffin Park. Brentford entertain Ipswich Town with the smart money wondering just which of our players they’ll attempt to break this time around (hey, we may aswell get it out early). Charlton Athletic, already as popular as a Mexican at Donald Trump rally, have ‘gone again’ whilst, with Lasse Vibe continuing his quest for Olympic gold, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has done her very best to make events at the Valley seem (relatively) sane.

First up though, we can only start with the Bees where Ipswich Town are the first visitors to Griffin Park in 2016/17. It would be fair to say that Brentford very much ended with the advantage over Ipswich last time around.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

 

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other pubs are available too

 

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Nick Bruzon

Kit Obsessive : Ipswich Town

12 Aug

Ipswich Town are the visitors to Griffin Park on Saturday with Brentford looking to get their first points, and win, on the board for 2016/17. Whilst you’ll find the usual match previews kicking around elsewhere, in addition we’re taking a different approach this season. Following on from yesterday’s new, regular feature about our forthcoming visitors The Last Word on… it’s time for another new, regular feature. New, that is, to these pages.

Kit obsessive is back. Originally submitted to last season’s match day programme, a third season in the Championship means that with the exception of 6 new teams it is ground previously covered – at least for those who buy that publication. So whilst I gather that articles on the likes of Aston Villa, Barnsley et al will still appear in that format this time around, repeating the feature would not reveal anything new.

That said, for those who missed out on the programme then I have been asked by at least one Last Word reader  if it would be possible to re-run them this year. And by ‘at least one‘ I mean, ‘actually one‘. But why not?

As a self confessed kit-obsessive, I have what some would probably term an unhealthy fascination with team colours. Of course Brentford are at the forefront of this interest as the club has, over the years, made some pretty decent stabs at changing the red and white stripes around. However, with a few odd exceptions we follow a fairly similar template.

The same cannot always be said for our opponents, though. Using no more scientific criteria than personal taste, this feature sees us delving into the historical kit bag to select the best, the worst, a sublime away and an unfortunate design/retro classic worn by our opponents through the ages. So without further ado, here’s Kit Obsessive: Ipswich Town.

Since their inception for the start of the 1888 season Ipswich Town had, like the Bees, largely worn stripes – albeit blue and white. However, unlike the Bees they ditched these in 1936, switching to predominantly blue offset with white trim and (until the mid ‘60s) white sleeves.

But with over 125 years of history to choose from, which have made the hall of fame and which should be left to rot in the chamber of horrors?

The best: Umbro 1992-94. In my opinion, Ipswich have had some real stunners to chose from over the years. The Adidas designs from 1977 to 1989, synonymous with FA Cup triumph and the UEFA Cup victory, all reek of quality. That said, I’m genuinely in two minds about the red chest stripe that accompanied the 1985-86 effort.

Ipswich pic 1An innovative break from tradition or a sickening abomination that shattered the otherwise unsullied blue with all the subtly of an oil tanker? The only people definitely smiling about it being the club sponsors, Radio Orwell – think Alan Partridge had he opted for Suffolk rather than East Anglia and neighbours, Norwich.

But my winner in this category comes from that phase in the early 90s when retro was the new cool. Specifically 1992-94. Clubs opted for big badges, old style shirts, pin stripes and even lace up collars.

Umbro were leaders in this trend and nowhere better than at Portman Road. Whilst Manchester United, Aston Villa and even Oldham Athletic made decent stabs at this look, none came close to Ipswich Town who married the perfect mix of blue, red trim and a return for the white sleeves with some old school chic.

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The Worst: Punch 2005-07 .Ipswich Town have, to be fair, largely bypassed this category – certainly compared to some of our divisional rivals. However, even the Tractor Boys aren’t exempt when it comes to those that should probably be forgotten about.

Mitre’s effort from 2007-09 is a clumsy attempt at the vintage style carried off so effortlessly by Umbro. Looking somewhat generic, it’s less old school, more primary school whilst not even John Wark can save the Core 1995-96 away shirt – bottle green and burgundy – which puts one in mind of a poor man’s Portugal.

But the winner comes down to a choice between two and, as I’m saving one for the ‘unfortunate design’ category, it has to go to Punch 2005-07. This opts for blue with white, but the latter colour to an extent that looks as though a drunken groundsman has ‘gone rogue’ with the pitch markings when painting the touchline.

It has an expanding sash that starts on the shoulder and grows out, all the way to the waist. This is less subtle trim and more something that looks like a prototype costume for one of the Thunderbirds pilots.

Worse, the design continues onto the shorts where there is even an equivalent blue swoosh. Truly, one that should be consigned to the waste bin of history.

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The away: Adidas 1986-89 Where to go with this, given Ipswich have had as many top quality away shirts as they have had home?

In the end though, it was a toss up on the mid to late 80s. Whilst the Radio Orwell Adidas effort may have split opinion when it came to the home effort, there’s no question the bold red stripe only enhances things against the white of the away kit.

But I’ve elected for the successor to that one, another Adidas production, as the most stylish Ipswich Town away kit. The winner is the Fisons sponsored 1986-89 (yes, teams wore the same shirt for more than one season back then).

Bedecked in the inverse club colours of all white, with blue trim, this also featured a subtle diagonal two-tone strip effect. Simple but stunning.

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The unfortunate design: Core 1995-97 Just as the faux Thunderbirds sash was a close contender, the winner here could as easily been triumphant in the worst shirt category. And, again, we also need to take a sideways glance at the world of TV Sci-Fi.

You have to feel for Core. They actually produced a fairly decent set of kits for Brentford in the mid90s but, alas, at Portman Road things were somewhat different.

We’ve already mentioned their away version from 95-96 but the home from that (and the following) season is even worse. The top half starts decently enough with a traditional deep blue but as we make our way down the shirt, things take a turn for the peculiar.

The blue starts to merge into white, gradually replacing the primary colour until by the final third we are all white. It is a design gimic that even continues onto the arms.

At best it looks like the players have been caught in a snow drift; at worst, as though they have just given the order to “Beam me up, Scotty”, Star Trek style, and the transporter beam has taken hold.

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Nick Bruzon

The Last Word On….

11 Aug

With Championship action back on the agenda, Ipswich Town are next up for Brentford. As such, we have the first in a new regular feature about our forthcoming home opponents :  The Last Word on….  Much like ‘kit obsessive’, which will also return ahead of most home games, this features a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors with the results picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions (and to sensitive Manchester United supporters) here is: The Last Word on…..Ipswich Town

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both) : It can only be Jonathan Douglas, surely? What about Nicky Forster ? Marcus Bent, maybe? Who could forget Icelandic demigod Hermann Hreidarsson ?

But no, my choice goes to Jay Tabb.

Part of my all time Brentford XI (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett),  the Bees picked him up in 2000 after being released by Crystal Palace. The wing wizard went on to make 128 appearances, aswell as earning 10 Ireland U-21 caps, culminating in the doomed play off campaign (is there another type?) against Swansea City in 2006.

The ever-popular Tabby left for (then) Championship Coventry, has since tasted top-flight football with Reading before making just shy of 80 appearances for Ipswich Town.

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Tabby in action for the Bees

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees): It is only in recent seasons where our paths have crossed with any form of regularity – certainly in my lifetime. As such, I’m going for the opening game of last season’s Championship campaign. With Brentford fans getting their initial taste of life under Marinus Dijkhuizen it also marked our first game without Jonathan Douglas – the new head coach having immediately released him from his duties at Griffin Park.

Where else but Ipswich Town would be his next destination as the Tractor Boys, with the former Bee on the bench, swept into a two goal lead despite an appalling playing surface that would quickly adopt the pitchgate monicker. Just twelve minutes remained as Dougie entered the (ploughed) field of play with the score still set at 0-2.

This was still sufficient time for Douglas to both break Jota in an ‘accidental’ challenge that would see the ever popular Spaniard miss out for the next few months and oversee a near certain victory turn into a draw. Goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski in the heart of Jota time rescuing a 97th minute point for Brentford.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player) : For the casual observer, there can be only one choice. Famous names from the Ipswich Town’s heyday include those such as Frans Thijssen, Arnold Muhren and Mick Mills.

However, for me it has to be John Wark. Voted the club’s all time cult hero in the BBC’s 2004 poll, who am I to disagree? A Scottish international, he was their player of the year 4 times in 6 seasons over a career that encompassed three spells from 1975 to 1996. With FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner’s medals in his cabinet (not to mention acting honours) there can be no other.

Famous fan: Ipswich have a few. Their director’s box is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the rich and famous.Tom Chaplin from Keane, Charlie Eyebrows from Busted. Brian Cant. Yes, THE Brian Cant. Let’s hope The Tractor Boys don’t play away as wonderfully as the voice of TV’s Trumpton (kids, ask your parents).

But perhaps the biggest of all is Chester Bennington from U.S. rockers Linkin Park. Supposedly introduced to the club  by his father (a police office who had become friends with a fan from Suffolk one holiday) he has been pictured in the team colours  although it would seem he is yet to actually attend a game.

Presumably, if he did rather than sitting on the side you’d find him… in the end

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Bennington. A Tractor Boy, apparently…

Best ever league performance: There are sure to be plenty but one sticks out in particular for me. A top flight destruction of Manchester United by a staggering 6-0. That’s one short of brackets.

Back in March 1980 Bobby Robson’s boys, inspired by Town’s Dutch duo of Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, destroyed a Manchester United side whose fans were left sining “We want 7(seven)”. Who doesn’t?

It could have been worse but for Gary Bailey in the United goal. The Red Devil’s ‘keeper saving three penalties, one of which had even been retaken.

It’s here, in fuzzy 80’s pixel vision

Moment of ignominy :4th March 1995. Roles were reversed. And then some. Manchester United setting a Premier League record for the largest winning margin as they humbled Town 9-0. Those beautiful brackets were achieved in little over an hour as they almost made it to double figures. Incredibly, less than 44,000 were present at Old Trafford for this one. How times have changed (or perhaps Season ticket holders were just impacted by trouble on the line up from Guildford).

Manager of the century ( most famous / popular manager) : There is only ever one answer to this question – the legend that is Sir Bobby Robson. In charge at Portman Road from 1969 to 1982, he took his club to the brink of the top flight title with a win ratio of close to 45% over this 13 year period.

Double silverware came with the 1977-78 FA Cup and the 1980-81 UEFA Cup before he left to take on an eight year spell in charge of the England team that culminated in that World cup semi-final heartache against Germany .

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement): You could pick any of the victories or cups noted above but, for me, Ipswich Town have a much bigger and totally unique place in football history. Specifically,  their representation in the film Escape To Victory.

This, a regular entrant to my all time ‘top ten’ films and one of that rare breed to successfully straddle the twin themes of football and WW2 POW camp escape

The aforementioned Wark appears (naturellement). As does Russell Osman, Robin Turner, Kevin O’Callaghan and Laurie Sivell. In addition, body doubles Kevin Beattie and Paul Cooper filled in for Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone during some of the ‘match action’ scenes.

John Wark and Pele. Together. Only in Escape to Victory.

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We can win this…..

Nick Bruzon

Bittersweet news for Alan Judge but how did we miss that?

15 Apr

How quickly have Brentford become accustomed to Championship life that a week without a Tuesday night fixture seems like a long one? Bristol City can’t visit soon enough as we’ll have had a whole 7(seven) days since that win at Ipswich Town.

It has been a week which has seen us with an awful lot to dwell on and no real news of any substance. Alan Judge is, of course, now out of hospital following surgery on the horrific injury he suffered at Portman Road – from where there has been pretty much radio silence despite the somewhat ‘controversial’ (that’s me being polite) comments made by Mick McCarthy after the game.

Maybe something has happened behind the scenes. Let’s hope so. The Judge himself has been putting a brave face on things in public, sharing that emotional message and then a follow up photograph when he left the hospital to return home.

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Alan shared this picture as he left hospital

Here’s hoping Alan has a quick recovery. Good wishes have been pouring in from supporters all week whilst it sounds as though he’s had a steady stream of visitors since the weekend. Amongst them, Dean Smith and many of the players.

Sam Saunders revealed on Twitter that he and Harlee Dean had been to check up on their team mate. Was there genuine regret at the fact that they’d “offered to bed wash him can’t believe he turned it down!“?  Dean, meanwhile, used his press conference yesterday to confirm he’d been to see the player at the weekend who was “obviously a bit down”.

An immediate reaction of the one described by Dean is only to be expected. It would be a sickening blow for anybody, let alone a player on such form and with the Euro’s beckoning.

Thinking about it though, the reaction to Sam’s suggestion is also to be expected. Certainly, if his bed wash technique is similar to his car wash technique…

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Would you take a bed wash from this man?

On the plus side, if one can be taken from such a situation, there was positive news for Alan when his nomination for the Football League’s Championship player of the year award was announced yesterday. In a final 3 that also includes Fulham’s Ross McCormack and Andre Gray it is due reward for Alan’s wonderful season.

He’s the leading goal scorer for the Bees and has provided the  highest number of assists for any Championship club with  11.  Indeed, checking the stats yesterday he’s currently joint 7th overall goal scorer in the league with 14. Whilst one would expect him to slip down the ranks over the remaining weeks of a season that been brought to a premature end, it’s well worth marking that figure at this point to show just what a pivotal figure he has been for Brentford

Interestingly, Lasse Vibe’s recent hot streak has seen him storming up the blindside and he’s now only two behind the Judge in joint 12th place for the Championship’s overall top scorer. That puts him level with Jordan Rhodes at a fraction of the price. Let’s hope he can move clear against Bristol City on Saturday.

Prior to that game, don’t forget that Waterman’s Park hosts the Bees Fan Zone from midday. Featuring a whole host of free activities such as Urban Cage Soccer, Obstacle Challenge and FA Skills sessions (amongst others) there will also be visits from Buzz,Buzzette and some of the First Team Players.

This was a cracking event when it took place last season and sounds as though it will be similar this time around. Yet again, it showcases Brentford as a wonderful community club with a whole host of activities laid on for our younger fans. As ever, you can read more about the event on the club site.

And finally, issue 3 of Season Ticket holder news letter ‘The Buzz’ hit my email box yesterday. Containing the usual mix of recipes , interviews (Sergi Canos) and Dream XI (Lasse Vibe) it also has ‘Social Club’ – those social media highlights we may have missed.

Well, fair play to the club because I’d certainly missed this one. I’ve heard of ‘footballing royalty’ but this takes things to another next level…

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If ever the club were looking for a caption competition….

Can Nico do it again or will Dougie turn destroyer?

9 Apr

Can Brentford make it 3 in a row when we take on (technically) play-off chasing Ipswich Town today? For all that our hosts are flying high in the table in a very respectable eight place, the wheels have come off the Tractor in recent weeks with Town only recording one win in the last six games.

Did you listen to the Besotted podcast yesterday? If not, then do so. Please. Whilst I mentioned this in the previous article and don’t want to overly labour the point, the views of home fan Harry Wainwright really are worth a listen. As he notes himself, Ipswich now need snookers and some serious favours to make the play-offs.

But it is his verdict on former Bee Jonathan Douglas that gives particular food for thought. The eagle eyed amongst us may have seen that Dougie has just triggered a contract extension for another year at Portman Road. But whilst he was a hero to many at Griffin Park, this may not be such a popular announcement in Suffolk.

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Dougie will be a Tractor for another season

Harry’s take on the player was fascinating. He quoted one recent criticism (from their 0-0 against Charlton) where the player was described thus, “ At times he looked like he was in a daydream . He had no idea what was going on.He was slow, error prone and often anonymous. 

The only thing he wanted to do was drop between the centre backs, pick up the ball from one and play it to another defender.

Sound familiar? Reminiscent of the man who earned our most bookings last campaign (10). Or somewhat harsh for a player who scored 8 goals for Brentford in 2014/15 and was an inspiration to many with those surging runs up field?

Without revealing all Harry’s opinions (do listen to that podcast. And no, i’m not on commission – it’s just a really good one) he goes on to note that, “I think he IS error prone…within the fanbase he is the most under the spot light. In the last five games he has been the lowest ranked player , culminating in a 2.9 out of 10 against Charlton”.

Is this just the opposition trying to give us false confidence or are Ipswich and Dougie here for the taking? This, of course, assuming he is even selected and given these opinions of his recent performance that may not be a given. As ever, at 3pm we find out.

Two other brief points. Firstly, season tickets. Don’t forget that these are now on sale and for the first time in living memory I’ll be sitting for the next campaign. Not that anybody particularly cares but the demands of a young son who loves Buzzette and ‘Fireman’ Sam Saunders in equal measure have meant a seat on the touchline is the way forward for yours truly.

No, this is highlighted more to big up our wonderful ticket office team. I know this has been noted several times before but, like Kitman Bob, they really do present our club in a great light . Very much the unsung heroes of Griffin Park. Well, I’m singing.

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Great value Season Tickets now on sale (and no, I’m not on commission)

And finally, betting. I mention this purely for statistical interest but Nico Yennaris is currently 12/1 to score at any time in the game. I’ve only checked this for research purposes of course, but could our latest goal hero make it three in a row? At that price, he must be worth a sniff?

Can he do it? Here’s hoping. Billy Reeves is the man to describe the action today for those not fortunate enough to be able to make the trip.

Fingers crossed for another three points at the denouement of this one.

Nick Bruzon

The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker awaits as Bees take on Ipswich

8 Apr

It only seems like five minutes ago that Brentford couldn’t buy a win yet now we have the chance to make it three on the spin with the trip to Ipswich Town imminent. Victories at Nottingham Forest (3-0) and then home to Bolton (3-1) have surely crushed those lingering relegation doubts as morale has soared.

In his press conference on Thursday Dean Smith made all the right noises about the huge boost these results had been whilst giving an update on the current injury situation. With our Head Coach confirming that John Swift and Leandro Rodriguez (amongst others) will both miss out again through injury, I really can’t see any changes to the team that started so brightly against Bolton on Tuesday night.

Given that  the Bees did, if we’re being honest, allow Wanderers back into a game where a stronger team would have punished us in the second half, there can be no room for any let up this time around. Ipswich are still pushing for the play-off spot that they also made last season and you can be sure Mick McCarthy will be expecting three points from his team.

Last season’s encounter at Portman Road finished in a 1-1 draw, notable for Daryl Murphy somehow missing an unmissable goal for the home side when all he had to do was tap it into the gaping net. It was an effort described afterwards by Mick Mills and his local radio commentary team 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.”

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

BBC FLS viewers saw Murphy set to pounce. And fail (for once)

Murphy remains leading scorer for Ipswich this season although will miss out this time round as he his still suffering with a knock picked up on international duty.  Despite ‘that miss’ this should really be seen as a boost for the Bees although, of course, we still have the prospect of lining up against Jonathan Douglas once more.

The thought of seeing him facing off to Alan McCormack in midfield is a delicious one. Goliath v Goliath. The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker. No prisoners will be taken whilst, of course,  there was the incident at the end of our clash at Griffin Park this season.

Back in August, we opened proceedings at home to Ipswich as the Marinus era kicked off with such optimism. Then it all went South as the game started with Andre Gray on the bench, the pitch turned into that infamous minefield and Ipswich cruised into a two goal lead either side of half time. We didn’t even see Macca take on Dougie as our man went off 6 minutes before the former Bee came on.

From that point though, things went a bit bonkers. Andre pulled one back in Jota time before James Tarkowski sent the crowd wild with a 96th minute equaliser. Dougie still had time to accidentally (I’m sure) stand on Jota’s foot and spanner him for the next few months. Indeed, there was an exchange at full time where eagle-eyed Bees Player viewers caught sight of Douglas swinging an arm at the Spanish hero.

Douglas hits jota post Ipswich

Bees Player viewers saw Dougie appear to give Jota a ‘girly slap’.

Will that be water under the bridge now or will the memory linger? I’m sure the former, if for no other reason than Jota has (sadly) moved back to Spain ‘on loan’ whilst Dean Smith will no doubt have drilled the importance for discipline into his team. Regardless, the fans are likely to remind Dougie of this incident whilst the battle with Macca, regardless of anything that had gone before, will alway be a fascinating one.

That said, what do I know? Listening to the latest Beesotted podcast on the way to work this morning it was very interesting to hear the views of Town supporter Harry ‘from Bath’. Of course, come for the views of Billy (Grant), Sav, Matt, Dave and terrace wag Gemma Teale but stay for Harry’s insight. You’ll find that part just after the hour…

Another point of note from Dean’s press conference was his observation that, “Historically the pitch at Portman Road has always been fantastic so hopefully it will be the same and we can play some of our football.” Nobody needs any reminding about the state of the Griffin Park pitch at the start of this season and the huge holes that began to appear where it seems that somebody had forgotten that all important point of letting the turf bed in.

With the Bees confidence returning and the side being encouraged to run at their opponents, it will be fascinating to see what we can now do on a level playing field.

Whether in the stands at Portman Road or alongside Billy Reeves on Bees Player, on Saturday afternoon we find out.

Bru Ipswich Brentford

Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last time

Nick Bruzon

Can Sam make it three-in-a-row on Boxing Day?

26 Dec

Boxing Day and Sam Saunders. Two things that seem inextricably linked and for good reason. With Brighton visiting Griffin Park today, the last two seasons have seen this fixture, and Sam in particular, provide some contrasting memories. Games against Ipswich Town (2014) and Swindon Town (2013) have seen the popular wing wizard shine (and that’s not the tan) as each encounter saw the Bees with a chance to top the league.

Sam Saunders black kit

Sam – back in black and better than ever

And today we have a similar scenario. Whilst most of the nation are rolled out on their sofas recovering from the excesses of the 25th , 12,000 of us will be in Griffin Park to see if Brentford can beat Brighton and, should other results fall correctly, reach the play off zone. At present, of course, we’re only two points off sixth place.

That latter requirement, ‘other results’, would also require the somewhat distasteful prospect of a QPR victory – over Ipswich Town at Portman Road. I can’t imagine many in this part of West London could, in all conscience, cheer for that. At least not at this stage of the season.

So instead, let’s just focus on ourselves. Dean Smith has picked up two wins from two at Griffin Park since taking over as Head Coach. More importantly, the manner of victory – with 6 goals scored (and 10 in his 4 games in charge) is what has impressed. That said, even he was talking about cutting things out at the other end. And no moreso will this be a requirement than against a side smarting from their first defeat of the season on Saturday.

Middlesbrough, of course, secured top spot in the Championship after hitting 3 past the Seagulls without reply. And with Boro’ having a 14 point lead over Brentford, the top of the table will, for once, something we can’t aspire to – at least on Boxing Day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for some more Saunders’ magic.

The same fixture last year saw us lose 4-2 to Ipswich Town, conceding after 19 just seconds and going 3 down at HT before it finished 4-2 to the visitors. The only silver lining was the late substitute’s appearance from Sam.

He made it 3-1 within five minutes of coming off the bench and halved the deficit at the end, practically stealing the ball off the toes of the dithering Nick Proschwitz to stab it home from close range as the ref signalled injury time.

But it was Boxing Day 2013  against Swindon that saw a moment of quality from Sam that still has us smiling. The infamous ‘fall over’ routine – below

Did Sam mean it? Swindon Town 2013

To score a free kick of that quality was impressive enough but having gone flat of his face beforehand, even moreso.

Too much fake tan making the boots slippery? Old man’s legs giving up? (he remains the Methuselah of the squad – although not to look at, I am told, or see run around – what energy). Might it just have been an elaborate training ground routine, along the likes of the Gary Blissett ‘fake hissy fit’ (season 92/93) in an attempt to confuse the opposition?

As I wrote at the time, “Well, if the later, then give that man an Oscar. It was a display of football acting that’s not been seen since Luis Figo’s ‘Just for Men’ advert. And if an accident, then a massive pat on the back for composing himself at a time that the Bees were under a spot of pressure”.

I did talk to Sam at the end of the season and know the answer although don’t want to kill the magic of the mystery by revealing it. For all I know, it may well by common knowledge, anyway.

Instead, I’ve got my fingers crossed for three years in a row. Sam Saunders scoring on Boxing Day is one seasonal tradition us Brentford fans could definitely embrace.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 08.12.12

Figo – unsurpassed acting skills

Nick Bruzon

Could this be our last stand?

7 May

This weekend’s Championship play offs have huge significance beyond the obvious draw of the eventual winner joining the likes of Bournemouth and Arsenal in the top flight. Saturday sees the, so called, Old Farm derby (nice) between Ipswich Town and Norwich City as local passions are sure to go through the roof at Portman Road. But for us Brentford fans, it will be a different sort of emotion as there is the very real prospect that Friday’s game with Middlesbrough could be our last ever competitive fixture at Griffin Park.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.

Griffin Park - could the terrace end up seated?

Griffin Park – terraces are not, currently, in the Premiership

Could Friday see the sun go down on Griffin Park for the last time?

Could Friday see the sun go down on Griffin Park for the last time?