Tag Archives: Portugal

Big new balls. Same old Maradona. And an innovation from Brentford.

27 Jun

The simultaneous sound of a million screen grabs being made and one director desperately screaming “cuuuutttttttttt”. Diego Maradona celebrating that late winner for Argentina against Nigeria in his own unique style is somethign that will long live on in the memory. Last night saw the relentless pace of the World Cup show no signs of abating. A point made even more pleasurable given the afternoon’s bore draw in which Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard (now something as locked into the media mind as eighteen year old Ryan Sessegnon’s eighteen year old age, West Ham’s move to the Olympic stadium, Trevor Brooking’s header in the 1980 FA Cup final and West Ham winning the World cup in 1966) made it three appearances out of three for the Dane.  There’s a new ball coming whilst for Brentford fans, we’ve a unique perspective on Lionel Road.

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Goaaaallll!!!

Cripes. The World Cup. We’re not even at the knockout stages and I’m already exhausted. This is just brilliant. The excitement, the pressure, the tears and the joy. VAR has gone haywire whilst over on the BBC, Mark Lawrenson has swung between bizarre brilliance with his ‘UHT’ joke and coming close to self-combustion during the denouement of the Portugal v Iran game.

This is getting seriously good. We’ve had to have a few days down time on these pages, just to catch breath. Plus I was extremely tired and emotional after the England – Panama match. A 6-1 win and two penalties hit so well you’d have thought Harry Kane was German (although, perhaps you could argue he is footballing royalty). It was a score beyond what anyone expected and means England are through to the knockout stages with a game against….. Well, nobody has a clue because Group H is wide, wide open. Poland aside, that one could finish with any combination of Senegal, Colombia and Japan in the top two places.

Then, on Monday, Group B finished up. Spain scraped through after twice trailing Morocco. Portugal hung on by the skin of their teeth against an Iran side who were left dead on their feet and mentally drained after running Cristiano Ronaldo and his team so, so close. It was edge of the seat stuff with VAR conspiring to provide a devastating impact on both games whilst sending Lawro to the heights of apoplectic rage. “It’s farcical” he ranted on more than one instance. You had to sympathise but my God, it made great viewing. If not for the right reasons.

Yet if Portugal had got knocked out they’d have had to doff hats to a team who played a great tactical game. Sadly, I fear we’d have just had Ronaldo in floods of tears. Still, all that’s to come.

DgpHwT0WkAo5rrJAnd then there was the Argentina – Nigeria game last night. It will be remembered as much for the actions of Diego Maradona in the stands. Switching from being caught fast asleep before later giving his own celebratory salute. Less Hand of God and more fingers of dog. He’s an emotional chap, I’ll give him that.

“‘There’s a danger of him becoming a laughing stock I’m afraid“ opined Gary Lineker from the studio. A fair point from the man who saw his Mexico ‘86 dream end via those very same finger tips? Or just more of what was to be expected from one of football’s larger than life characters?

On field, manager Stavros Flatley and his team sneaked through as Croatia topped the group. It sets up a mouth-watering last 16 game between Argentina and France on Saturday afternoon. Here’s hoping the French make it slightly more interesting than they did yesterday. The game against Denmark possibly the dullest in World cup history since records began. If Maradona fell asleep during the Nigeria match, he may need something to help lift him when the French come to town.

The plus point of all that was that it meant Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard is also still in Russia. His Denmark team finished second in the group and will now play Croatia on Sunday evening. The same day Spain meet hosts Russia. Wow. Fill the fridge, clear the couch and light up the barbie (cue rather than doll). This could be a long one….

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more, please.

New balls, please. That’s what’ll happen when those knockout stages begin. To date, we’ve been using the black and white Adidas Telstar 18. From Saturday it will be the new red and white Adidas Telstar Mechta. For reasons unknown beyond, presumably, a cash in.

The marketing speak on the official FIFA site is a joy to behold : ”New vivid red design inspired by the colours of the host nation, as well as the rising heat of knockout-stage football”. It continues, “The name Mechta translates as ‘dream’ or ‘ambition’ in Russian and is constructed with the same design elements as the Telstar 18, the ball used throughout the group stage, but adapted to reflect the added intensity and opportunity the knockout stage brings”. We then get to the rather more mundane, “The ball has a brand-new carcass that retains the best of the Brazuca “.

Good news though. Like the ‘18’, the Mechta also has an embedded NFC chip – the first time it is ever been used in an Official Match Ball . Not only does it make this the most innovative FIFA World Cup™ ball to date but, apparently, the chip enables consumers to interact with the ball using a smartphone.”

And there’s me thinking FIFA was just about the money and the sales figures. On the plus side, it does put one in mind of that rather odd, and short lived, Mitre ball from 1980.

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Is that Telstar or Telstra? Curse that typeface

Next up, Henrik Dalsgaard’s Brentford. Have you started to follow The Brentford FC Drone on Twitter as yet?

You can do so here via @TheBFCDrone This is brilliant. I’ve no clue who the pilot is but what a great idea and a fantastic way to show supporters how work is progressing on our new home. Aerial fly bys and progress reports from the Lionel Road build are going up weekly. They have a YouTube channel, too – and there’s a sample video below. Please DO check it out – this is brilliant. The only domestic Brentford story currently better than our awesome away shirt. Here’s hoping the drone action continues when the season proper kicks off  .

Catch it on Youtube, now.

Finally, there’s only a few days for the chance to give one supporter an ultra-rare 2017/18 ‘third shirt’ with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in EFL font. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop. Indeed, this has been given to me by a source close to the club.   

All you need to do is download one of the Last Word season reviews. This isn’t a get rich slow scheme for yours truly. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

To be in with a chance of owning this shirt, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 – details below – and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

The Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races. As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began….

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Nick Bruzon

 

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From Cristiano to Henrik via Rio. And more shirt news…

16 Jun

Ruddy hell – the World Cup ! Just where do you start? Having been upstaged in the Champions League final by Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo stuck it to his Real Madrid team mates in some style last night as Portugal drew 3-3 with Spain in a game that, on a personal note, also served as a timely reminder of yours truly briefly dabbling with Manchester United. In the loosest sense. Elsewhere, today sees the magnificent four game spread that also offers Brentford fans a chance to catch our man in action. Henrik Dalsgaard and his Denmark team face off with Peru on a day that sees games running from 11am right through to the conclusion of Croatia-Nigeria around 10 pm tonight. And on a Brentford note, there’s also shirt news imminent. Monday is the day….

First up, Portugal. Specifically, Ronaldo. He’s a genius. Pure and simple. So consistently incredible. Never failing to pull it out of the bag when it counts. Even the most churlish amongst us could only sit back and admire what he did last night. Even with the posturing, the preening and the strutting around like a coked up peacock. Despite all this, the sheer audacity of the man and his ability with a football still shone through. It was a performance that would have had Alan Partridge foaming at the mouth. That was liquid football and then some. Sheer brilliance.

The one down side to all of this was Rio Ferdinand in the BBC studio. It’s impossible not to like Rio. A legend for his country and a quite remarkable human being given the personal situation he’s been through. He always talks passionately about the game and with enthusiasm. Yet therein lies part of the puzzle. He doesn’t half go on about it. Clanggggg, The sound of another name being dropped. If he mentioned that he’d played with Ronaldo once he must have done it a dozen times. Nutritionists. Training. Manchester United. Fergie’s opinion. At home with Cristiano. We had it all.

There’s form here. Back in Brazil 2014 it was the same. Manchester United this. Manchester United that. I didn’t realise he’d won the Champion’s League. If only somebody had said.

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Who could forget Rio, in Rio? World Cup 2014

Of course an ex-player is going to draw on their experience. That’s only natural and, to be fair, helps paint a picture of what we see going on. It gives an insight into something we might not have visibility of in the normal course of events. Just perhaps tone it down a little bit. Please. The past is great but there’s very much a present going aswell with a quite ridiculous game of football being played out last night. I’d love to have heard more about that. Not just from Rio but the panel where much of half time was devoted to features about England rather than dissecting the first half and the earlier games where those of us just coming in from work would likely have missed.

The brilliance of Ronaldo also detracted from two quite delicious goals score by Spain. Diego Costa levelling thing ups at 1-1, executing a wonderfully hit shot after holding off two defenders for what felt like an eternity. Yet it was nothing compared to the sweetest of volleys that Nacho fired home to give Spain a 3-2 lead. Rio and the panel were rightly purring about this one afterwards as the Spaniard wrapped his foot around a rising ball to swerve it hard and low past the ‘keeper and in off the post from outside the box. It was a stunner. A thing of beauty. To quote Partridge once more, He must have a foot like a traction engine.

And then Cristiano stepped up to score ‘that’ free kick and steal all the headlines with just minutes left on the clock. Whatever else you may think or say about him, and many have, there’s no denying he certainly has a sense of occasion   

With a free kick given in the heart of Saunders territory, there was an inevitability about what would happen next. Sure enough, he lifted it up and over the wall before it dipped into the back of the net. Yet in a moment of clarity, I knew it would happen. I’ve been there before. Ten years or so back I spent an 18 month secondment up in Manchester. For a Brentford fan, this was great. The likes of Bury, Rochdale, Stockport County and Accrington Stanley (never have I been so cold at an away game) were all on the doorstep. As was Old Trafford.

There were no split loyalties here. Aside from the fact the chances of our paths crossing were slim to zero, I was on tourist duty. Doing it for the love of football. Whilst weekends would see me in London and at Griffin Park, a Tuesday night would quite often afford one the chance to take in a local game. And with so many United season ticket holders living down South and unable to make it, there was usually a spare going around the office. Why not? It was that or watch Coronation Street.

One such was the game against Portsmouth. A 2-0 win for United but more importantly, once which provided a moment that stuck with me since. Cristiano Ronaldo scoring ‘that’ free kick from last night. Ten years earlier. It looked incredible then. It still does. Last night’s effort was a reminder of just how consistently good he has been throughout his career. To still pull tricks like that out of the bag even now. And at 33, I’d imagine there’s a few more of those to come.

Cristiano has done this before..

That was then, this is now. Waking up on Saturday morning, it’s his name all over the radio. He’s the one making the headlines on the sports pages. But tomorrow could it be Henrik Dalsgaard we are reading about?

-1I can’t wait to see our man in action. For those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth it’s quite ridiculous. The thought of Brentford having a player at the World Cup is bonkers. But I love it. If only because it shows just how well our set up and transfer model is working. Despite the confusion and frustration at times. Despite the short term heartache of that summer sale. Here is the proof. Likewise, Andreas Bjelland was desperately unlucky to miss out. Panini even going so far as including him in their World Cup sticker book.

Good luck today, Henrik. If you are reading (you aren’t) know that this little corner of West London will be cheering you on. I’ll watch as much of the World Cup as possible anyway. Yet now there’s even more incentive. Roll on 5pm.

And finally, Monday is the day. Yes, England are playing but in our house it’s something even more exciting. The Brentford ‘away’ shirt is launched. We’ve already had the sneak peak pic released this week. Now, we’re just 48 hours away from seeing this for real.

I can’t even begin to speculate what this is going to look like. I’ve run it through photoshop, played with the light settings and filters but it’s giving nothing away. Instead, we’ll just have to sit back in anticipation and await the reaction. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be interesting though.

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David Hunt – the biggest come back since Lazarus

And finally, I know I bang on about this a lot but my season reviews containing the least bad of the columns and some new content are now available for download.

The reason I bang on about this is because all proceeds raised are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. We all know about the great work they do whilst my own son has now started Saturday morning football training at one of their sessions. And he loves it. As such, I’d love to try and do something in return.

As additional incentive, I’d like to give one of you this ‘unavailable to the general public’ Brentford FC third shirt from 2017/18. I’ve got hold of it from a source close to the club and am giving it away to one supporter by means of a draw. All you have to do is download the 2017/18 season review (or the five-year compendium) to enter the draw that will take place at the end of the month – just DM/ tweet me the download confirmation email by June 30th and we’ll pick a lucky winner.

You can download Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18 . In addition, all five seasons of the Last Word (previously available individually) have been bundled together in one giant volume. There’s a lot to plough through… There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 is also available.

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THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

 

 

 

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees reach new heights at Newcastle, Villa do their thing whilst pigs can fly. A week in football.

17 Oct

Brentford went down 3-1 at Newcastle United, who were overtaken in the race to the top of the table by Norwich City. Tuesday night’s opponents Derby County got off to a winning start under new manager Steve McClaren whilst the other team to replace their boss, Aston Villa, churned out yet another draw. That’s 8 out of 12 now for the Villains who sit just one point above the relegation zone. Making up the bottom three are Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

Whilst it was a week which began with the next round of World Cup qualifiers we’ll start, as ever, with Brentford. Our trip to Newcastle was one which ended in disappointment. Fan opinion seemed to be largely that the moment got the better of us.

But whatever happened on the pitch, nobody could doubt the fans had fun. And what a sight.

Looking down on the action at Newcastle was a unique experience. A wonderful opportunity to watch play unfold or the last of us just making it down from the 14 flights of stairs now?

Brentford aren’t  the only ones travelling well. For all that nobody is sniggering at the plight Aston Villa find themselves in , you can’t deny their fans are fiercely loyal.

That’s great work. Seriously. Getting home from that one isn’t going to be fun. At least Villa will have a point to celebrate with (the draw currently at a very generous 23/10).

Aston Villa weren’t the only ones to pick up a point. As Norwich City went top, Ipswich Town laboured to a 0-0 with Blackburn. Bad enough, without your neighbours then putting the boot in .

Charlton Athletic also had trouble on the pitch before eventually putting Coventry City to the sword. Given their high profile relations (or lack of) with their supporters it was nice to see them doing all possible to maintain a sense of perspective.

It wasn’t just pigs invading football pitches at the weekend. There were dogs joining in the action, too

Next up, kit news. And there’s lots of it. With Brentford celebrating their 4,000th league game on Saturday there had been a hope we might have worn some form of celebratory shirt. Whilst this doesn’t seem to be the case (as it stands), over in the Netherlands Sparta have taken that idea forward.

What a beauty. That said, whilst I’m all for a retro style shirt, let’s hope Derby County don’t go down that route on Tuesday night . This one flashed across my timeline on Friday.

Bolton Wanderers are also making the headlines. Their kitman not a patch on our own Bob Oteng. Certainly, if this is the best he can come up with.

Whilst the club may not be giving us a special kit for Saturday, let’s hope the marketing team aren’t casting their eyes towards Portugal. Just when you thought there was nothing left for a club to stick their name on, think again.

There were international games at the start of the week, too. Nobody needs any reminder of that so we’ll keep it to two that seem to sum things up nicely.

But we’ll finish with clowns. Not the crazy killer variety but over at Loftus Road where, it seems, they are struggling with the atmosphere.

Oh dear.

Nick Bruzon 

The voting may have closed (for now) but you can still join in

11 Jul

What can you say? Brentford are on tour and normal service has resumed. Whilst the eyes of the world may have been focussed on Cristiano Ronaldo’s tears as Portugal upset France to win Euro2016, over in Germany it was tears of pain and laughter as the annual singing contest for new players and staff got underway. Peter Gilham has published his latest diary although I note that this season it has been rebranded as a blog (don’t sink this low, Peter 😉 ). And we have the latest entrants into the photo caption competition that’s not a competition but just a bit of fun.

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The annual singing competition is back – judging sure to be tough

First up, singing. Actually, first up, hats off to Brentford ‘official’. Yes, you DID read that correctly. I make no secret of some previous observations but, likewise, full credit must be paid where it is due. And , I have to say, coverage of the training camp has been nothing short of excellent. The photographs, the updates, the videos, the use of social media and , of course, the ever popular tour diary/blog.

At a time when it might be trickier than normal to keep fans engaged, quite the opposite has been done. For me, the highlight has been the singing videos – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley pushing it up to 11 on the performance stakes.

Dan Bentley takes it to the next level

John Egan and Romaine Sawyers deserve full credit for effort, although its fair to say that Romaine is no Rachel Stevens. The again, who is? Results for the current round have just finished with Dan’s performance in the pool making him a runaway success  and exempt from any future performance.

Not such good news for Romaine and John who, alongside Jan Holldack,  get to ‘go again’.  Given fans have already been afforded the chance to participate in that first round of voting, can we expect more?

Certainly, the close out to the videos suggests so as it advises : “The four worst, as voted by the players, STAFF and YOU go through to the next round. The two with the most retweets and player votes are saved….!

As ever, #GermanyBees looks like the place to stay in touch with the action.

And finally, I must thank all those who have taken the time to come up with entries to the Last Word photo competition that’s not an actual competition, just a bit of fun. If you fancy having a go then just post a comment. We’ll keep this running for one more day but a selection of the (printable) entries received so far are below….

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More great work c/o ‘The official’ Brentford social media feed

 

Chris Whittart : Did you see the tweet from Sam Saunders ? Winner, end of, game over

Paul Deller: Not only did I have a tenner on Griezmann first goal, I done France half time full time

Terrace Wag: When someone asked about transfer policy……

David Carney: Apparently QPR and Fulham are almost certain favourites for relegation…

Danny Billy Baynham: So do you follow this stats lark lads ?

Dave Hall : My mate down the pub said “Fulham are going up’’.

Jim Myers : And you’re telling me Fulham could have signed Griezmann ?

Last Word: I even saw one guess that we’ll be playing in red and white stripes next season.

Nick Bruzon

Bees, Dragons, Saints and Imps. As one dream dies, another continues

7 Jul

What a night and what a result. Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar set up a Champions League qualifying tie with Celtic after sweeping aside FC Flora Tallinn 0f Estonia 2-0 ( 3-2 aggregate). In other news, Portugal edged past Wales to reach the final of EURO 2016 whilst, for Brentford fans, could the new Southampton shirt offer cause for optimism/fear?

We’ll start, briefly, in Gibraltar where the local champions set up that intriguing encounter for Brendan Rodgers in his first competitive game as the new Celtic manager. What’s this got to do with me, you may ask? Well, aside from personal pride you may recall that Brentford owner Matthew Benham’s other team, FC Midtjylland, locked horns with the Imps at this stage last season.

After a hard fought first leg the Danes eventually ran out 3-0 winners but, it would be fair to say, performances have stepped up even more since then. With a huge swathe of the national team (who of course scored their first competitive goal against Scotland) representing the Imps, anybody taking this one as a foregone conclusion would be urged to think again.

Next up , Brentford. With supporters awaiting the first news about our new kit (which, of course, has been hinted at coming out later this week), Southampton have released their latest incarnation.

Again, something which on the surface may not have much to do with us but I’m always intrigued by how manufacturers can provide a new twist on red and white stripes. And, it would be fair to say, The Saints have done that.

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A shirt that may well divide fans

Along with the stripes, technical sponsor Under Armour appear to have incorporated some sort of bra motif into the shoulder panels. The closest thing I can compare it to is our own Osca 83-84  – the one with the all white top half.

Initial shock has slowly turned into begrudging admiration. I’m not sure I’d be overly pleased if Mark Devlin was to reveal this as our new design but you can’t deny it’s different. Besides, with nothing this outlandish in the Adidas catalogue, I can only imagine we’re at least a few seasons away from anything this unusual.

The other point of note around this is: manufacturers blurb. According to the website, “The stripes appear in blocks of five to represent Southampton’s five core brand values.”. Although it fails to note what these values are. Let’s hope that when our new design is revealed to the world, we avoid such nonsense.

And , finally, the Welsh dream is over. It was a stunning effort to get as far as they did and, for a while, looked as though the game was going to go all the way though extra time and beyond. In the end though, it was ‘that man’ who proved the difference.

Say what you want about Cristiano Ronaldo – and many have, myself included – but the power and technique in the header for the opening goal, which he connected with at a height of 7ft 10″,  could only be applauded.

The less said about his subsequent celebration (or that bizarre spearmint coloured kit), the better.

Nick Bruzon

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Osca 83-84. Better than spearmint. No core values

 

 

Who will win : Gareth v Charlie? And is there a knock on for Lionel Road?

25 Jun

There was double news out of Griffin Park yesterday. Josh McEachran is alive and (seemingly) well as he launched the club’s 2016/17 training gear whilst Brentford have announced another pre-season friendly. In the Euros , Wales v Northern Ireland is the big one today (although Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal side may argue otherwise as they take on Croatia and Poland begin proceedings against Switzerland).

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Will Cristiano provide the highlights this weekend?

Yesterday was, without a doubt, one of the craziest days I’ve ever lived through. This column isn’t about politics and I don’t intend to overly dwell there now. There is enough great material out there for those wanting to vent their spleen, smack their head in disbelief or celebrate what has been deemed by the ‘out’ camp as, seemingly, ‘taking our country back’ (to the dark ages?).

But I’ll leave you this one observation, given Brentford have our future and Lionel Road intrinsically linked to the housing market. With the redevelopment of Griffin Park and the subsequent apartment blocks to be built alongside the stadium being key, the industry suffered what could politely be called ‘a bad day at the office’ after the results were announced.

Lauren Davidson and Rhiannon Bury, writing in the Telegraph, note in their end of day market review that, “Housebuilders Crest Nicholson, Bellway and Bovis were all in the top ten fallers for the day, dropping more than 24pc, alongside property developers Derwent London and Great Portland Estates, which fell 24.6pc and 22.2pc respectively, as fears about a fall in house prices caused investors to offload their stocks”.

Whatever the other ramifications for the country, from the perspective of a new stadium for Brentford, I do wonder what will happen if this is anything but a short term ‘blip’?  Still that’s a question for cleverer people than me to answer (i.e. just about anybody).

Whilst we still have a home at Griffin Park, we now know that another preseason friendly has been announced. Peterborough United being the visitors on 26 July. All being well it’ll be a chance to see the new kit in action for the first time and enjoy an evening in the sunshine. Besides, when the alternative is Holby City then evening fixtures can’t come around quick enough.

And although we are yet to see that new kit (the simultaneous launch date remaining July 23, unless somebody tells me differently) we’ve now been shown the club’s range of training gear. And there’s a hashtag, too….

Whilst it seems a more Adidas-centric one than something club inspired, this season #FirstNeverFollows. Apparently. Here’s hoping there are 23 other clubs following us when we wrap things up against Blackburn in May.

As for the gear, well it’s now on sale and looking good. Can we read anything into the ‘full kit’ from the fact that the famous ‘three stripes’ are now running down the side of the body rather than over the arms? Certainly its a look that other Adidas dressed clubs (especially in the MLS) have been sporting.

Likewise, it’s great to see Josh back. What a horrendous first season he had with double long term injuries sandwiching a tricky time on the pitch. Fingers crossed that, as with the incredible return of Scott Hogan at the end of 2015/16, Josh is now able to push on and, erm, go again.

Moving back to Europe once more, today sees the last 16 begin with 6 teams vying for a quarter final spot. As noted at the top end of the column, Wales v Northern Ireland is the game that will likely have most of us gripped. For some, the battle to see whether Gareth Bale and the other 10 can stop Charlie Lawson launching into another celebratory routine. I’m still terrified by ‘Big Jim’s’ farmhouse kitchen soliloquy whilst sipping on the Black Bush. For that reason alone I’d love to see how he tops it this time around.

For others, of course, we have the Brentford connection in the Northern Ireland camp. Stuart Dallas , Niall McGinn and Will Grigg’s on the bench/ fire (delete as applicable). Will these old boys prove the club wrong? Can they line up a quarter final shot at the winner of the Hungary / Belgium game? Or will Gareth Bale keep up his hot streak of 3 goals from 3 games.

Whoever wins through, across the first 7(seven) games, by the time England wrap up proceedings on Monday night in ‘game 8’ v Iceland, we’ll all be set for another exciting 2 weeks in Europe. I can’t call any of the winners. I’m not even going to bother trying.

Instead why not just switch off from the stress, grab a beer, sit back on the sofa and enjoy a weekend of sporting action. If this morning is anything to go by, Charlie is already getting in the mood.

You can check out his latest, pre game video, here.

Brilliant …..

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How would Charlie celebrate a win over Wales?

Nick Bruzon 

Glenn, Slovakia, Saint Etienne. So Tough, for England

21 Jun

England are through to the last 16 of EURO 2016. Wales topped the group. Russia are going home (presumably to huge cheers all round). Slovakia are now hanging on for other results after a peculiar brand of anti-football that, fair play to them, shut out Roy’s boys and leaves them waiting to see if third place can be secured.

Those are the headlines as group B came to a close for England in St. Etienne but there was so much more to it than that. Roy tinkered. Roy lost out.

It was a demonstration, if ever us Brentford fans needed another one after some of the Marinus era performances, that stats and possession don’t win games. Although, to be fair, at least England managed some shots (come on Bees fans, it’s all good now !). The BBC figures show how one sided a game this was in all but the key category – goals scored – as the match ended 0-0.

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BBC stats don’t lie….

 

Jack Wilshere was anonymous whilst Postman Pat after an all night ‘bender’ would still have offered better delivery than Jordan Henderson showed. In what seemed to be a wonderful atmosphere – so loud even ‘that band’ were drowned out for vast swathes of the game – England had the chances but just couldn’t take them. Any of them. Not even one.

Then there was Glenn Hoddle. Oh, for some level of decent co-commentary on ITV. Talking to one New Road observer during the game, his take on it was that Glenn had been replaced by a random sentence generator. Another, that Sacha Baron Cohen was filling in for him.

Whatever the answer, his performance was the normal drivel infused nonsense . “I think that’s a tactical move,” he observed after one substitution aswell as noting that “Sturridge has just had a mouthful.”

Glenn went on to explain how the lack of England’s ability to breakdown Slovakia was because “We’ve got all footballers out there at the moment”, with the solution to this being a call for Andy Carroll.

I could go on. Those are but a handful of the examples plucked at random although , equally, perhaps it is something that ITV are putting in the water. Over in the Wales  – Russia game  my sources tell me how Tony Pulis noted that, at 3-0 up, “Wales will be happy to stay in front here” .

Yes. Gareth Bale made it 3 goals from 3 to see his team top the group by a point after what seems to be a steamrollering of Russia. I didn’t see it, can’t comment but can only say “well done”.

Outside of all this, England ARE through. England remain unbeaten. They now face a last 16 game agasint the second placed team in Group F which, all things considered, could have been a lot worse on paper. Mind you, so should a game against Slovakia have been. On paper.

It will take a better man than me to call who Roy & co face next out of Hungary, Iceland, Portugal or Austria. The only thing I’d say for sure is that given recent history, what chance another encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo? He of ‘cheeky wink’ infamy.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 07.09.00

Ronaldo, a cheeky wink never too far away

It isn’t all doom and gloom, whatever you read.

It would have been wonderful to top that group and failure to breakdown a bus parking defence has cost England dear in that respect. Yet is it that bad?

Roy has ended the group stages happy. Indeed having dominated three games to such a level that he told reporters after the game, “That gives me some sort of satisfaction.”

4877

A Slovakian bus, parked. England couldn’t get past

 

For now, though, the most important task of escaping the group has been achieved. There’s a few day’s break until Monday, 8pm, when England ‘go again’.

Until then, there’s four more groups to play out and, of course, the release of the Championship fixtures tomorrow (Wednesday). For us Brentford fans, this will make a nice diversion and a chance to see how our next 9 months will map out.

Until Sky get the carving knife out…

For now, here’s St.Etienne….

St.Etienne. So Tough. Why do I bother….

Nick Bruzon

Ronaldo an Ice, Ice Baby as Manchester United invoke the cringe factor. Again

15 Jun

What a wonderful night at the EUROs. As England and Wales fans combined to see off further Russian hooligans with nothing more than chanting, everybody’s favourite underdog Iceland achieved the double feat of earning their first ever point – against Portugal – whilst simultaneously forcing Cristiano Ronaldo to channel his inner Russell Slade. And whilst Brentford news remains practically nonexistent, back home at least we have Manchester United and Wayne Rooney to keep things ‘interesting’ as the Old Trafford club have launched their latest movie crossover.

First up, and briefly, England. With the game against Wales taking place tomorrow (Thursday) supporters have come under attack from Russian thugs again. This time, along with Welsh counterparts as fans of both nations were enjoying drinks together. Updates all over Twitter suggest that the trouble was broken up quickly with the home nations reacting no more than by singing “F**k off, Russia” at their attackers.

Like many, I’ve an anxious feeling about how this is going to play out. I understand from THE man on the spot, Brentford supporter Billy Grant (whose first video has now topped a million YouTube hits) that their next blog should be out imminently. It will be very interesting to hear what the Beesotted boys have to say about the latest. Keep ‘em peeled.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 05.51.19

You’ve dropped something. This pic did the rounds last night

OK. Iceland. What a night . What a result. With many people tipping Portugal to go all the way, a spirited performance from a nation who had almost a tenth of their entire population in the stadium had people all over Europe cheering as the game ended 1-1.

Despite a horrendous volley of puns from the BBC, “An eruption of form”, “The main geezer” (that one was Lineker) and “Iceland are used to the Northern lights. Ronaldo is used to the limelight”, they managed to hold firm. Even a Ronaldo free kick from the heart of Saunders territory in the final moments was able to be kept out.

Best of all though, they managed to upset Cristiano Ronaldo. Massively. In a demonstration that,once again, stats don’t win football matches (apart from ‘balls in the back of the net’) he gave a post match press conference that was part  40% Steve Evans and 60 % Russell Slade.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”. Words that every Brentford fan will recall after that win over Leyton Orient. Russell Slade’s outburst lives on in the memory and came flooding back last night as the Portuguese peacock told reporters, “I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end, it was unbelievable.”

He then turned ‘Steve Evans’ as he noted, “They scored a goal, they created two chances in the 90 minutes, and otherwise they got every player behind the ball. They put the bus in the net.”

Yes Cristiano. And still you couldn’t beat them. Fantastic work, Iceland. Here’s to seeing your journey continue.

Next up. Manchester United. We’ve already talked on these pages about their ‘media partnership’ that seen them now involved in film promotion. Hey, I suppose they’ve had to do something whilst not winning those trophies.

The X-men spin off, which also involved them body-painting their child mascots blue, was a start. An awful start. So bad it was kind of compelling.

Wayne Rooney. Compelling

As noted previously, Rooney’s wooden exclamation of “Bloody Hell” isn’t in the same ball park as Cantona’s “Au Revoir” or men like Figo who never give in to grey (“still got it”). But compared to the ‘proper’ actors around him, dreadfully trying to crowbar the names of his Manchester United team mates into a ‘scene’ from the new movie, Wayne came across with the gravitas of Morgan Freeman.

Now it’s my turn to say “Bloody Hell”. They’ve only gone and done it again. This time for Independence Day: Resurgence . The original film from 1996, an easy entrant into my top 10 of all time. So utterly bad it’s stunningly brilliant . I am as keen to see the sequel as I am to find out just what Kitman Bob has in store for next season’s Brentford shirt.

This time around, Wayne doesn’t get to hog the limelight. Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, “It’s pronounced Blind” (not sure that works so well here – perhaps watch the video) and others get to chew the scenery with Jeff Goldblum.

Oh, my. It’s awful. Just so, so bad. Beyond cringeworthy and into the territory of having to watch from behind the sofa. Truly, toecurling stuff. Yet at the same time, I might just have to watch it once more.

I can’t wait for the next one

I’m glad I’m not Blind

Nick Bruzon

Plug time :  With the Brentford tumbleweed continuing, the most I can do is guide you to where 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, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.

Out of tune and out of touch but who looks good in green?

3 Jun

We’ve got a bumper Last Word today. England took on Portugal last night in their final warm up game ahead of EURO 2016. Whilst I promised we’d drop the Brentford ‘green shirt’ stuff, there is an 11th hour addendum from one supporter which Bees fans may find of interest. And on the subject, we look at the top ten green shirts of all time. From Plymouth to Palmeiras and Carlisle to Panathinaikos, can anybody make this under used colour look good?

But first, England. Whereas I’d normally say they “entertained Portugal last night” rather than “took on”, anybody who saw the game will know there’d have been more entertainment in an episode of Hale and Pace (kids, ask your dads. Actually, don’t. Spare them the pain).

The 1-0 win at Wembley was an experience that many found uninspiring, out of touch with the occasion and somewhat flat. An indication of the pain that awaits supporters over the next few weeks unless something changes and fast. ITV nailed it, by accident, in the commentary with the observation that, “This is Dier”.

But enough about the England supporter’s band.

Look, it wasn’t the best game by any stretch of the imagination. The red card for Bruno Alves, channelling his inner Eric Cantona with a crazy challenge on Harry Kane, hardly helped proceedings as both teams had to adjust to playing 11 on 10 for most of the game. If you want a full match report then, as ever, other sources are the place to go. However, if you want a full match report in two tweets then we’ve got it here c/o DJ’s Andy Bush and Conor McNamara.

Bush and CM twitter

I’m still no closer to knowing who Roy will start with against Russia next Saturday but at least we can now look forward to the tournament with no other distractions. The one week countdown is underway, the wall chart is on the fridge and Will Grigg is, apparently, still on fire (if he manages to score, ‘that song’ is just going to become interminable).

After that, the rest just comes naturally. Sit back, grab a beer, prepare the ‘butt groove’ in the sofa and enjoy a month of bonus football that we wouldn’t get in a normal ‘closed season’. Hey, if nothing else it might distract from endless rumours and talk of “Bees boss set for double transfer swoop”. All being well, it might even extinguish Will Grigg. No offence to the former Bee but I’m half expecting ‘that band’ to add ‘that song’ to their repertoire.

Next up, Brentford. More specfically, the  last word on our wearing green (unless, of course, somebody actually manages to unearth a picture of that adidas shirt). Supporter   Geoff Buckingham has been in touch about when, and why, Brentford first wore this most unusual of colours :

It was due to a motor coach not turning up !

It happened in the grim days of January 1974, when the club were close to bottom of The Football League, the country was gripped by the Miner’s Strike and ‘The Three Day’ week, and funds at Griffin Park were very tight indeed. To make matters worse, on a freezing cold 12th Jan.the Brentford team coach did not show up at the meeting point for the trip to bottom of the table Doncaster Rovers.This meant a hurried change of plan, and the players had to quickly sort out cars and drive themselves up to Doncaster. 

If that was not bad enough, one of them, winger Barry Salvage, got nicked for speeding on the return journey. As for the kit we had to borrow them from Slough Town FC. The shirts were indeed green, but with pink numbers on the back!

Anyway, the green shirts brought Brentford a bit of luck as the Bees won the match 2-1 , with a brace from ex Bognor Regis deckchair attendant Andy Woon ( you could not make this up,could you?!)

That win, in front of 3009 perishingly cold spectators, was Brentford’s only victory in a 14 game spell. But it was enough to lift the Bees up to third from bottom, and was actually a crucial two points, as we finished the season just two points above the Division 4 bottom four re-election places! 

Thanks, Geoff. And no more so than because talk of pink and green allows me to get out the industrial sized crowbar as we segue into : ‘the top ten green shirts of all time’.

This, a research topic I’ve undertaken simply down to the fact that, whilst most Brentford fans seemed quite keen on the idea (if you believe social media), one New Road observer contacted me to say: “Glad we’re not getting the hideous green kit this season but seems nailed on for next time.”

Is green hideous?   Unusual, for sure. But hideous? It’s one view and who am I to judge? Instead, let the world of football fashion be your guide….

carlisle away 1993

Carlisle away 1993

10) Carlise away 1993. Accused by many of resembling a deckchair, this cult classic even has a hint of red and white. If Matthew Benham and co are keen on the green, could this give inspiration for 2017? Bonus points always awarded for anything made by the much missed ‘Matchwinner’

 

 

mexico-home-football-shirt-1996-1998-s_3660_1

Mexico 1996 – wow

9) Mexico 1996. It’s one thing having some discreet design added to your shirt but Mexico didn’t hold back on the subtly when it came to embracing their heritage back in 1996. It’s bold, I’ll give you that. I love it!

 

 

 

La Hoya Lorca Broccoli

La Hoya – delicious design

8) La Hoya Lorca 2013/14. We’ve featured the Spanish lower division side’s kit on these pages many times over the years. And rightly so, given they’ve modelled it on the broccoli that signifies their agricultural heartland.

 

 

 

hibernian-home-football-shirt-1989-1990-s_11221_1

Green Arsenal?

7) Hibernian 1989/90. It’s made by Adidas and it just looks awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

St Etienne 1981

St. Etienne add a certain, I don’t know what but it’s good

6) St. Etienne 1981/82. How can you honestly say this isn’t stylish? I’ll even forgive the non-matching collar and cuffs, such is the French chic on offer in this classic Le Coq Sportif template.

 

 

 

 

palmeiras-home-football-shirt-1979-1980-s_10742_1

classic adidas

5) Palmeiras 1979/ 80.  The boys from Brazil kept it simple for this adidas effort. But then again, why mess around when simple equates to style?

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth 1984

Plymouth show that green can look good

4) Plymouth 1984/85. Much like the Palmeiras effort although with the addition of the discreet pinstripe that just screamed ’80’s football shirt’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panathinaikos 2008

Modern is good, too

3) Panathinaikos 2008/09. Another Adidas shirt. Another stunner. Even the sponsor and other branding is done sympathetically

 

 

 

 

Pink-Green-Real-Betis-Kit (2)

It’s green. It’s pink. It’s brilliant

2) Real Betis 2015/16. We love women on these pages. Not in a mysogynistic style but more to celebrate how at Brentford we have such a diverse fanbase. So it’s nice to include a wonderful effort from Spain as Betis took things one step further than even the Bees, creating a special shirt in order to celebrate the week of the Andalusian Woman.

 

 

cameroun 1990

My favourite green shirt of all time

1) Cameroon 1990. Roger Milla. Upset after upset as the Indomitable Lions almost got to the semi finals ahead of England. That foul by Benjamin Massing on Claudio Cannigia. Oh, and one of the most iconic shirts in World football. Adidas have done it again.

 

 

 

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Thanks for reading.

book 3 and 4 cover

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

 

From Brentford and brackets to Gibraltar and San Marino.

6 Sep

Brentford fans were left scratching around for interest this weekend, with minimal satisfaction coming from the Euro qualifiers. As expected, England successfully navigated their qualifying group (the easiest since records began) whilst for Gibraltar, although they are starting to find their feet after an international baptism of fire, the Republic of Ireland still presented a tough test as they ran out 4-0 winners on Friday night. There was no Brentford involvement, beyond a brief reminiscence about Stuart Dallas for Northern Ireland although, of course, Lasse Vibe was on the bench for Denmark in a 0-0 at home to Albania.

Instead, the weekend has left more questions about those two perennial debates – ‘minnows’ and brackets. Specifically, should the ‘smaller’ teams be allowed to play with the big boys and, when conceding more than six goals just how should we signify this 7, 7 (seven), 7 (SEVEN), seven or SEVEN?

As a footballing romantic and nostalgic, I’m all for a spot of small team involvement. Equally, I won’t deny a large element of emotional involvement as, having waited years for Gibraltar to finally be given full UEFA membership, the chance to see them test themselves against the great and the good is one I’m loving.

Are they whipping boys at the moment? Unfortunately, the stats would certainly suggest that to be the case although anybody who has seen their games against the likes of Germany, Poland and the Republic will see what strides they have already made. Tougher to break down and a lot less naïve, the boys from the Rock are finding their feet, fast.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start international life.

The Faroe Islands already have six points from a group in which they have overtaken former Euro Champions Greece whilst Albania have beaten Portugal in their qualifying group. This is the same Portugal who recently lost a home friendly with Cape Verde Islands.

Minnows do get stronger and regular games against a mix of opposition are the way to do it. Not shunting them aside to pre-qualifying where they can only play each other, as seems to be the common suggestion. If this is your logic then just disband qualifying all together and draw the teams for the tournament finals based on seeding.

It only seems like yesterday that England were spannering their own qualification for the World Cup as Davide Gualtieri took less than nine seconds to open the scoring for San Marino with a goal that shook the world. Both teams have grown massively since then, even if England have remained as consistently sub-par when it gets to the tournament itself (Euro 96 aside, and that one they qualified for by default).

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Davide Gualtieri opened the scoring against England back in 1994

Wales have stepped up the blindside in recent seasons and have moved from 117th ranked team in the world four years ago to the point where a victory against Israel on Sunday could see them deemed the second best team on the planet. Indeed, they are, surely, going to qualify for a first major finals since 1958.

Just to put that into perspective, the teams currently occupying the 117th slot are hardy those we would consider to be traditional powerhouses of international football.

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

The teams currently in the same spot as Wales, four years ago

I could go on. People have very short-term memories and attention spans. I hope UEFA don’t give in to the current clamour emanating from certain circles and give all their members a chance to compete on a level playing field.

That said, games such as yesterday’s 6-0 won’t help the likes of San Marino as they came awfully close to a 7(seven) -0 bracketing. That’s a result that Gibraltar have experienced a couple of times in early qualifying whilst, domestically, former Brentford player/manager Nicky Forster was the unlucky recipient as his Staines Town side went down by that infamous scoreline to Brentwood Town in the Ryman Premier on Saturday.

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

Nicky Forster (left) formally the deliverer rather than recipient of 7(seven)

And, as ever in these circles, it prompted the usual questions as to how this should be recorded. One local journalist ended up very much insistent about it being an unbracketed, headline grabbing, SEVEN. For somebody who then used twitter to rally against the vide printer favourite, saying: “Will live in the here and now”, the irony of his bio describing himself as “Ex Woking FC striker” was not lost.

There are others that love the bracket but insist it should be 7 (SEVEN). I’ll spare the regular reader another lecture on the unsubtly and bad sportsmanship of this. A brash, block-capitalled effect to really push home the point that someone has been on the wrong end of a thrashing. It’s gloating for the sake of it.

Clearly, an emotional subject and I don’t think we’ll ever, all, agree. Football is a modern game and one that continues to grow. That said, what’s the harm in a little bit of nostalgia along the way?

And finally, Channel 5 and Football League Tonight. Much as the minnows have been going from strength to strength on the pitch, the same can be said about the latest newcomers off it.

Saturday night was the latest point in case as, despite it being International weekend we actually had a show. In days gone by, Manish and team were shunted to one side when the Championship teams had a break, despite full fixture list in both Leagues One and Two.

So fairplay to Kelly, George and the rest of the production team for still bringing us a show. The disasters that plagued the series openers are a distant memory already and, last night, the biggest problem seemed to be Adam Virgo. More to the point, his sporting of a collared shirt with the top button done up but no tie.

Yet if a pundit’s dress sense (something all channels have suffered from over the years) is the worst we’ve got to worry about then things must definitely be moving in the right direction.

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Rio Ferdinand and the BBC panel have had their own fashion problems

Nick Bruzon