Tag Archives: Premier League

What’s brewing at Birmingham for Brentford? Will Bees’ keeper get stung on the Arse(nal)?

12 Sep

Brentford head to Birmingham City this lunchtime for a Championship opener sure to be overshadowed by transfer speculation. Number 26’s move back down South from Burnley to West Ham (they’re actually going to pay for somebody?) sure to reap us a healthy windfall should it happen. Elsewhere, the talk around David Raya to Arsenal shows no sign of abating, with his agent stoking the flames on that one. I don’t, now, expect him to play today with the answer to that one hidden in plain sight on Brentford ‘official’.

If yesterday morning’s piece was lacking the usual buzz about the season to come then the prospect of having a match today is making things feel slightly better. An early kick off on Sky sure to set the pulse raising when things get back under way in Birmingham at 12.30. 

Who starts for Brentford remains to be seen, of course.

David Raya  / Luke Daniels between the sticks is the big question. The answer is Luke Daniels. I call that specifically based on the match preview published yesterday by ‘official’. It notes that “Mads Roerslev will be absent due to a foot injury while David Raya has missed the last three matches with a knock”. Before also adding that “There are no tanks”. Possibly.

There you go. Forget the rumours – its injury. Having not played in weeks, and so presumably off the pre-season pace given this health related update, I’d be amazed if it is anyone but Luke Daniels who starts today. The club have made it quite clear they have no desire or need to sell Raya. His recent absence has been down to nothing more than a knock. Honestly! Who could think otherwise?

Look, I don’t know what’s actually going on here. Who does? Phil and Rasmus aside. Arsenal are involved in quite public dealings with Aston Villa to sell goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Dean Smith being able to wield the chequebook is like watching a kid at Christmas. The smile on his face when Ollie Watkins walked in to the room was infectious. In a nice way. Will he get a new ‘keeper and thus add more smoke to the Raya rumours? Or will the club hold firm and show him that the Premier League, with Brentford, is the future. Oh to be a fly on the wall at Benham towers these days.

Whatever happens, happens. We don’t need or want to sell. If we do then it will be on our terms. Common sense dictates that Luke Daniels is our lunchtime starter and then we go from there. Wait for Raya to recover and then see if he is a Bee or a bookworm (because they play in a libra.. oh, why do I bother?). 

David Raya – still a Bee. For now.

On the plus side, all this has distracted from Benrahma talk. Nobody has mentioned his name for a good week or so. Move along. Nothing to see here. Again, I can’t see him starting against Birmingham or being involved in any capacity but we’ve more than enough in the squad to do the business today.

Hand on heart, I’m calling this as ‘away win’. There’s too much talent and too many memories of how last season played out to do anything less than looking to start at 100 mph. The BMW may have lost some constituent parts but it will still be pedal to the medal for our, ermm, MTC. That one needs a little work.

New season – different model rolling off the forecourt

The other transfer story doing there roads (Josh Clarke to Wigan aside) is the alleged move of number 26 to West Ham. We all know the terrible personal circumstances that led to him refusing to play against Burnley before suddenly signing for them. That’s happened and we can’t change it. Only remember. What is it with our ex-centre backs and their dealings with the press? Something something something ten times better…. 

But the plus side to this is, of course, the windfall we’ll receive should it go through. Whilst, personally, I take the majority of football rumours with a huge pinch of salt, the prospect of multi-millions was enough bait to make me click. Lancslive are clapping it could be as much as £8.5million to the Bees, given any sale  needs to factor in what they describe as a whopping “27.5 per cent sell-on fee to Brentford of any profit on the £3.5m the Clarets paid the Bees for the 27-year-old’s services in 2016. That means that should Tarkowski depart for £35m then Brentford could pocket more than £8.5m, cutting the Clarets profit to around £26.5m.” You can read the full piece here if you want.

Rasmus models his new look

Again, I’ve no idea how true any of this is / isn’t. The only thing we can say for certain is that Brentford are masters of the transfer market. Buy them cheap, sell them high, take a cut on anything in the future. It’s more than plausible we’re in line for further financial reward and, if so, reduces the need to make any hurried sales ourselves. In theory. Arsenal may need to add an extra nought on to their offer.

Still. All that’s to come. For now, it’s a case of Brentford v Birmingham City. Of taking your place on the couch. Chosing a lucky shirt and cracking open the goal sweets. And the beers. See you at lunchtime on social media and in front of the TV. 

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can still pick up 2019-20 for free, here. Time is ticking on this one so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Birmingham City to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Enjoy

New season – new lucky shirt

Nick Bruzon

Farewell to a hero.

9 Sep

Will Ollie Watkins earn that most special / awful of honours today – a personalised transfer signing hashtag? Word on the street is that he will complete his move from Brentford to Aston Villa, for a fee that keeps rising and rising – depending on where you read. Elsewhere, Christian Nørgaard mad his full international debut as England were held 0-0 in Denmark. And there’s more e-book updates (thank you !).

Ollie – a hero to all at Griffin Park

First up, Ollie. Dean Smith will no doubt feel he deserves a reunion with his ex and is certainly prepared to pay handsomely for his man. The latest reports suggest he’s prepared to break the bank for this one (Premiership survival will facilitate that, I suppose). The price is thought to read: 

£28million, rising to £33million based on add ons.

The Kitchen sink

Some tracksuits

Jota (hey, one can dream)

An arm and a leg  

Whatever the fee actually reads in the end, it will be another incredible reward for the Brentford system. Aston Vila have been made to sweat for their primary target, with no urgency to sell. Now, valuations would seem to have been met and Ollie has his well earned move. When the GPG are calling it then that’s as close as you can get to a ‘done deal’ beyond seeing a shirt photo or one of those awkward #partofthepride type messages (stick to a chewed BIC – much classier).

We’ve been here before

Nobody could doubt what Ollie, an absolute hero at Griffin Park, did for the Bees. Nor can there be any bitterness about him taking the step up that came so close to being made at Lionel Road.  Ah, but for that play-off final. Even then, he bust a gut covering just about every blade of grass. 

His goals speak for themselves – the work rate, probably under-rated to the casual observer. Then there’s the fact that he’s just an all round good egg. The Brentford policy of ‘no dickheads’ – where personality and group spirit has always been a key part of our acquisition strategy – as key to his approach as anything else.

I’ve no doubt Exeter City will also be salivating at their own cut, should it have been written in, but if nothing else the step up made by yet another of our players should hopefully give incentive to those below us looking to sell in future. Likewise, those considering a move to Griffin Park. The conveyor belt of talent progressing through the ranks and up into the top flight, at vast profit, is a well documented effect of Matthew Benham’s system. Crazy stuff ! Who’s laughing now?

The one real downside being that we’re going to need a new car. The BMW will be no more. Still, at those prices perhaps the directors of football will have earned a Porsche or two. 

BMW etc etc etc

In all seriousness, one can only wish the very best to Ollie. He has been an absolute phenomenon at Griffin Park, stepping up when Neal Maupay left for Brighton and more than making the goalscorer’s position his own. Aston Villa have got an absolute gem and I can’t wait to see how he goes in the top flight.

The other news from last night was the England – Denmark game. Ordinarily, condolences would be offered to anyone sitting through a performance from tGareth Southgate’s team which has universally described as ‘turgid’.  

Yet, as ever, let’s try to look positive. For one thing, ‘that’ band were, ermm, banned. (Copy, paste, add usual rant about Bernie Clifton, unwelcome horns and off-key renditions of the Dambusters theme). True, so were ALL supporters but if there’s one thing Covid has done it is, at least, to ensure that the awful noise to simulate atmosphere is limited to that being piped in by Sky.

Christian Nørgaard joins the World Cup’s Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford in representing his country. His debut was as solid as those performances for the Bees and there’s a strong case for him winning now of the many man-of-the-match polls doing the rounds. We all saw what he did last time around. Could 2020/21 see him as one of our key players in that push for the top? Roll on Saturday when we find out.

Elsewhere, e-books. The Last Word compendiums are already available for free (for a couple of days) on the Kindle store. You can pick up ‘There Is No Plan B – Brentford FC season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18’ and also ‘The Jaffa cake Shirt – Brentford FC season review: 2018/19‘ for free. Now. 

But, like an advert for kitchen knives, there’s more. The latest version ‘Farewell, Griffin Park – Brentford FC season review: 2019/ 20’ is also up and is also now free for a few days. It would normally retail for £1.99 (with all money received going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust) but life’s too short. If you want this one, too, and the chance to relive all those amazing Ollie Watkins moments (via these dodgy sources) then fill your boots at no expense.

Enjoy.

Until then, the only other thing to say is goodbye and good luck to Ollie. Thanks for everything. Here’s to crossing paths in 12 month’s time.

Nick Bruzon

Come on Brentford. Come on Sergi. The time is now !

4 Aug

Here we go. Tuesday is upon us. The biggest game in our history is a phrase that has been used many, many times before but with Brentford facing Fulham for a place in next season’s Premier League, perhaps it could actually be true this time. At least, if not in our history then certainly in living memory. The chance of returning to the top flight for the first time since that brief, war interrupted, spell from 1935-47 is one game away. Our most exciting team in recent times has the possibility to emulate what could be argued our greatest ever. 

Cripes. This is exciting. Ridiculously so. We all know about Brentford’s past form in the play-offs. An albatross around the neck that has now been removed. A beast of burden that has flown away with the move to Lionel Road. The Griffin Park gypsy curse has now been lifted. That’s not to say that victory is assured, of course, but at least we can start from fresh. Elephants in the room can be talked about and monkeys have jumped from our backs. The five semi-final and the three deciding game defeats nothing more than a historical footnote. We’ve tripped up as many times as there have been Fast And Furious movies (not counting 2019 spin-off: Hobbs And Shaw). Now, all jinxes have been reset. New ground, new Brentford.

Lionel Road 15 Sep 2018

Lionel Road – the early years

Being quite honest, I AM confident. Not arrogantly so. We’re going to have to be on our best to win this. Just because we’ve beaten Fulham twice this season don’t mean a third time around is assured. But why not be positive? Why not believe in your team? That doesn’t make me a bad man. I’m going into this one on the up. Dreaming of what might be at the end of it. Celebrations. Excitement. Optimism. Just reward for what has been a season of some incredible football after a wobbly start. Seeing that incredible run-in, as Leeds Untied and West Brom were slowly reeled in, come to final fruition as we look to join them in the Premier League.

I’ve been to every play-off that Brentford have taken part in to date. Kevin Godfrey’s late equaliser against Tranmere. Kevin O’Connor scoring that first leg-penalty against Swindon. Trouncing Bristol City. There have been some highs. Not many, but some. Yet never quite getting over the line. No moment will surpass the semi-final defeat to Huddersfield Town on penalties. Quite possibly my lowest moment ever as a Bees’ fan – worse even than ‘that’ penalty.

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

These are mentioned for context aswell as positivity about the feelings that a win will engender. Nobody in this squad has survived even from the Middlesbrough semi at the start of Championship life, let alone further back. They are only looking forward. When it comes to tonight’s game, past results are nothing more than a historical curio known and experienced by those of us in our mid-thirties (and beyond).

The moment is approaching. I can’t wait for it all to start. The team will be in the special blue shirts (good news) and you can bet our flair players will love using the wide open spaces of Wembley to cause havoc down the flanks. And through the middle. Fulham have injury doubts over Mitrovic and Kabano but, at the end of the day (Clive) , it doesn’t matter who they start. This is purely down to us and how we play. Results over the season have proven that there isn’t a top six team that can stop us when we are on fire. Play like we’ve been doing and the momentum will be with us. The destruction of Swansea City last week showed that.

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Brentford are back in blue and white

Easy. On paper. In practice, who knows. At 7.45 we find out. We’d all love to be there. Are desperate to be there. SkyBet released the below film last night.

Yours truly was fortunate enough to be invited to take part and, being honest, it was quite emotional. A huge privilege being allowed back through the gates of Griffin Park to help out.

 

H came with me and is now buzzing under the belief that he is the last fan ever to step foot on the hallowed turf. Is he? Who knows? Personally, I’m taking inspiration from his shirt. The boy has a gift for calling games and he’s nothing but full of positive premonitions about tonight. Oh, if Sergi was to score the winner late on I think the roof would come off with the noise.

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Is this the ultimate good omen?

That’s all a long way off. I am confident, as noted, but it is with good reason. Confident because I know what our players can do. Confident because I know how driven Pontus Jansson is.  Confident because Thomas Frank has motivational powers unequalled by any previous Brentford manager (perhaps Martin Allen aside). Confident because if all else fails, we’ve still got ‘that’ whiteboard. 

Yet, at the same time, there are nerves at the moment. Perhaps as much due to the anticipation. To knowing how slowly the clock is going to be moving today as it inches towards kick-off time. Hoping we come out of the traps flying.

We took a family trip up to London yesterday. It was like a ghost town but still great fun. We came back via the river service from Westminster to Kew Gardens (always a great trip and about as Corona safe an outdoor activity as you can undertake). The boat went past both grounds  – Craven Cottage and Lionel Road – within the space of a few Peronis. We’re that close to each other. Near neighbours doing battle for the ultimate prize. 

Is it being knocked down, daddy?” asked H, looking at the cranes and bulldozers that lined our opponents three-sided ground. Let’s hope Fulham do, indeed, collapse tonight.

No pressure….

IMG_8452

H embracing his inner Bee at Kew

Nick Bruzon    

Very much behind The Times. ‘He’ doesn’t support us, does he?

3 Aug

Almost there. Monday morning. Brentford v Fulham in the Championship play-off final is little more than a day away. Tomorrow night we walk out at Wembley to see if the most incredible season on record, one which has seen us play the last ever game at Griffin Park alongside the campaign interrupting global pandemic, has the happiest of endings. Yet with the game almost upon us, the age old question as to celebrity fans has reared an ugly head once more. Specifically, the allegation that Phill Collins supports The Bees.

This, the suggestion doing the rounds on Twitter yesterday after the GPG shared  the below.  Utter gumph. Screenshot 2020-08-03 at 07.35.33

Indeed, it was territory covered in the matchday programme for the final Brentford game played out in front of fans – the 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday back in early March (how long ago does that feel now?).

It appeared in response to the same allegation being made by Cardiff City in their publication the previous game.

Screenshot 2020-08-03 at 07.34.04

We all know who our celebrity fans are. Adam Devlin, guitarist for popular music’s The Bluetones. Natalie Sawyer. Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Rhino from the Quo. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Rick Wakeman and  Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). Amongst others. 

Sadly, Cameron Diaz is not amongst their number. Or, certainly, wasn’t unless she has since paid a clandestine visit. A popular urban legend finally debunked with those fatal words a few years back after a tip off from, errr… The full story on that one is here.

Yet like the ever popular Charlies’ Angels star, the Phil Collins story is one that pops it’s head above the parapets every now and again. A story based on nothing more than his youthful visits to Griffin Park. A story that has been clarified by the singer himself. Apparently. 

First glance at his autobiography – where the locally born slush-merchant notes that as the closest big club to Hounslow he used to attend our matches – suggest this may have been true,

Yet scratch below the surface and a different story emerges. In an interview, the Groovy kind of love singer has been quoted as saying that he “used to support Brentford when I was a small boy as I lived not far away. I moved closer to London and lived close to Queens Park Rangers, and had a season ticket for a few years during the great Stan Bowles, Phil Parkes years. I have to say though that I always had a soft spot for the Spurs team of the 60’s with Greaves (a real hero of mine) and Mackay etc….(I could name the whole team but I won’t !!! ) However I lived in West London and Spurs over in North London was too far to go as a lad.

More recently (70’s!!) I’ve kept a close eye on Liverpool and befriended Kenny Dalglish, David Johnson and Ray Clemence. In fact one year they one the championship, we played in Liverpool the same day as the deciding game, and we all got together after the show and had a few drinks. So as you see I’ve spread my affection around a bit !!!

As the aforementioned Bluetone would opine on Twitter following the Cardiff City publication, “So basically he supports any team that accommodates his current geographical location and touring schedule. There’s a proper fan.

Screenshot 2020-08-03 at 07.35.43

“I support Brentford you say? ” But seriously,  no fan would wear this..

Instead, Phil would seem to have more clubs than Nick Faldo and the loyalty of a half and half wearing snake.

As for Fulham, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork tomorrow night. Their own list is hardly a galaxy of stars. Lily Allen. The pointless chap. Hugh Grant. Brian Guest. 

David Mellor used to support them in the 70s (to the extent of even writing programme notes) before committing the lowest of low acts, that of a grown up cheating on their own team, and transforming into a Chelsea supporter. Nobody deserves that – not even Fulham. Well, almost nobody deserves that.

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Brian Guest – Fulham note him as a fan despite the pain inflicted by the Bees

Nick Bruzon

FA Cup ‘highlights’ build anticipation for Tuesday.

2 Aug

Two more wake ups to go. The battle for the final place in next season’s Premier League is almost upon us. Who will join Frank Lampard’s Chelsea for next season’s West London derby? Brentford or Fulham? Who will stay behind in the Championship to slug it out with the Loftus Road club? Wembley awaits but before that it has played host to yesterday’s FA Cup final between The Blues and Arsenal. 

For the neutrals amongst us, it really was a cracking match despite being played out in front of a near-empty Wembley. Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners in a game that it wouldn’t have been a surprise to hear Keith Stroud had been refereeing. Some of the decisions made were, err, ‘questionable’. Specifically, the second half sending off of Mateo Kovacic when he earned a second yellow for what could be describe as, at worst, a harmless challenge. 

Stroud

A Keith for all seasons

A bitter pill to swallow and, unlike Rico Henry’s red last week, there is no room for any further recourse. At least Brentford had the opportunity to appeal and bring back our man for that blockbuster destruction of Swansea. Instead, this game is now consigned to the record books. Arsenal lift the cup and have now earned the right to be kicked out in the last 16 of the Europa league. Chelsea are left to count the horrific injury cost suffered in this one. More dodgy hamstrings than the deli counter in Morrisons and what looked like a dislocated shoulder for Pedro.

There was a howl of frustration from Mrs. Bruzon when he came on to the pitch, let alone went off. “Urghh – Pedro”. Nothing to do with the player himself but a terrifying flashback to the relentless days and days and day spent watching Peppa Pig when H was much younger.

All I can think of now is blinkin’ Pedro Pony and his whinny voice.” Brentford not feasting at football’s top table had meant, of course, that these are streams yet to be crossed. Until this unfortunate coming together. And with that, the Cup final was ruined.  

Pedro

Pedro Pony

The other big talking point to come out of yesterday’s game was just what font had been used on the back of the Arsenal kit? Bavarian beer house? Medieval? Samurai? Had the designers at Adidas been on the pop when going through the MS Office gallery? 

Sadly, the answer would now seem to be a much more mundane one. Nothing more nostalgic than it being based on the classic crest that adorned their shirt from 1949-2002 before being replaced by the current Clipart. Typeface aficionados can look forward to seeing this in forthcoming Cup and European games.  

Screenshot 2020-08-02 at 07.36.54

The ‘cup’ font – expect it to be retired by March

As ever, there was controversy. Not so much the sending off but the BBC losing the plot when the added time was announced at the end of the second half. The signal of ‘7’ on the board should have seen a regulation use of brackets. 

Yet rather than go with: “7 (seven) minutes added on” , the live updates on the BBC website went for a quite bizarre mismatch. Whomever was driving obviously had vague notion of 7 = brackets but that was about as far as their basic knowledge of football folklore went.

It was almost as though the videprinter was being operated by Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo. Good moaning. I was just pissing by your door etc etc etc.

How else to account for this mangled grammatical effort?

Screenshot 2020-08-02 at 07.40.19

And with that, it was all over. I won’t deny a small increase in stress levels when the board went up. And not just because of the BBC setting my teeth on edge. More, due to the fast forward to Tuesday night. Brentford and Fulham really will be in to the last knockings at that point. Will it be a case of hanging on for extra time, backs to the wall defence or throwing the kitchen sink forwards in a last gasp attempt to win the game?

Imagining that moment wasn’t fun. The clock will either be moving at snail’s pace or accelerating at warp factor 10 (don’t ‘@‘ me, nerds) depending on how the scoreline sits.

It’s going to be awesome and awful in equal measure. And I can’t wait. The game is getting ever closer. The moment building. As we noted yesterday, life shouldn’t wished away yet, at the same time, waking up this morning the anticipation seems even greater than ever before. In part this was due to a great game yesterday but, equally, because knowing the possibility of facing both these clubs as part of a regular campaign is only 90 minutes away. Possibly  ninenty-SEVEN (97).

Elsewhere, The Scottish Premiership returned with Celtic looking for their chance to make it ten league titles in a row. Or, as Adam Devlin put it on Twitter…

5lD

And I can’t top that so, instead, it’s a case of saying thank you and good morning. 10am Boot Camp in St. Paul’s Park, Brentford calls (do get along if you are local). Anything to try and exorcise (exercise?) some of those pre-match demons that are already tapping on the shoulder…   

Nick Bruzon

Things are now so desperate, it may be time to channel the spirit of Dream Team.

1 Aug

Saturday morning. The coffee is flowing and the sun is already up in TW8, even if Mrs. Bruzon and H are both asleep. Very much that last moment of calm before the domestic excitement begins once more. Yet rather than a 7 (seven) year old with volume control issues, Brentford v Fulham in the Championship play-off final is the only thing on the mind at that moment. Cripes, there are still three more wake ups and almost four more days until this one comes around. I know life is a precious gift which shouldn’t be wished away but right now I can’t wait for this game. It needs to be now. Please. Any scrap of news is being leapt upon. So high is the anticipation in our house, I  was ‘that’ close to opening some clickbait from Football League World  – “The three reasons this team will win the play-offs” can only be moments away. Instead, there is a scrap of genuine news out there with the announcement of our referee – Martin Atkinson.

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This is good, I think. If only because Atkinson is not a name to conjure up nightmares in the same vein as Stroud, Attwell and Ward (the ‘referees’ rather than a low budget law firm). A quick flick through the Last Word archives only find one reference to him, encouraging free flowing football whilst he has refereed games at the highest levels – Premier league, Europe and Internationals. If anyone knows differently please send in a postcard and don’t forget to mark it ‘Atkinson’ in the top corner.

Cripes, so desperate is the hunt for information I’ve even listened to something called a ‘podcast’. What a great concept. Jonathan Oakes, the Sky Sports EFL reporter, reviews the play-off semi-finals and the big game itself alongside Scott Minto and Andy Hinchcliffe. You can listen on your laptop or download for later consumption. Succinct discussion, informed opinion and a smattering of highlights. This is an amazing idea and is one that, I think, could really take off. You can find that here.

Equally interesting was Minto’s take on Fulham goal threat Aleksander Mitrovic who, of course, missed the game against Cardiff City: “I personally don’t see how he can start when he can’t even be on the bench [for the semi-final]. The fact he wasn’t even an option tells me, five days later, how can he be 100 per cent fit?”  

Opinion is great, of course, and especially when it bigs up your team. Really instilling a sense of confidence in what we can do. Brentford had that little wobble but really bounced back to our brilliant best in the game against Swansea City. What a way to come flying our of the blocks. What a way to put the disappointment of Barnsley behind us. 

Crash: 1-0 Ollie Watkins. 

Bang : 2-0 Emiliano Marcondes. 

Wallop : 3-0 Bryan Mbeumo.    

It was pedal to the metal stuff from the turbo charged BMW, with Benrahma doing everything but got his name on the score sheet. There was the assist for Emiliano, the footwork to create ‘that’ opening in the first half and, of course, the double strike against the woodwork. Had he been able to make it three on 18 minutes, rather than see his direct drive flash across the goal line after hitting the inside of the post, it really could have been a 7 (seven) – 0 bracketing. 

That was then, this is now. We go into this one on a high and I’m desperate to get going. Again. Alas, when we do it will be behind closed doors. With all jinxes now reset, missing out on a visit to Wembley is devastating. I’d LOVE to be there. We all would. Instead, the best we can hope for is the pandemic petri dish of the Box Park or being lucky enough to get a seat in a pub. So near yet so far. The game played out in front of nothing more than a sea of flags and a smattering of visiting dignitaries. If ever there was a time for Cliff to really lose his composure. For Matthew Benham to sneak in a megaphone (or Simon) under his coat. For Peter Gilham to take over p.a. duties then it is Tuesday. This is no place for decorum. It’s a big stadium to fill, with almost all the 90,000 seats remaining empty.

I want to be there. I need to be there. It’s not going to happen. Having watched that many episodes of Dream Team, I’m pretty sure that the only way to gain entry will be to simply stroll up to the stadium in a neon yellow tabard, marked ‘PRESS’.  Whistle innocently and then ghost in via the tradesman’s entrance. 

If only life was that simple. Instead, it’ll be on the couch once more. The beers in. The lucky shirts on. The only real decision to be made one of ‘home’ or ‘away’. Our lucky sofa or sitting in the shadow of the now dark floodlights of our former home, Griffin Park. Roaring the Lionel Road team on from the comfort of a house on Brook Road South.

Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 09.01.07

It worked for the Wembley assassin on Dream Team

Sadly, there are only three ways to get in to Wembley and I can’t see them playing out. The call is yet to come through from Kitman Bob for an apprentice to help lay out the shirts. Unless his letter has got lost in the post, Matthew Benham is yet to invite me on to the board. The chance of trying to blag it in as a journalist a gesture as futile as the dinosaurs trying to deflect an asteroid.  

Instead, it’s going to be three and a bit days of killing time and waiting for the big one. The chance to be crowned the ultimate kings of West London football. To hit the top flight. Hurry up Tuesday, please.

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Surely it couldn’t work in real life?

Nick Bruzon

Has the curse of 1904 just been lifted?

31 Jul

Brentford now know who we will face in Tuesday’s Championship play-off final. Wembley host an all West London affair featuring the Bees and Fulham. Tuesday night saw the Brentford back to their imperious best as Swansea were trounced by our blitzkrieg assault, sailing back to Wales on a river of their fans’ salty tears. Oh, that amazing video 😉 . Well played there by @SwanseaAnalyti1 , just in case there had been any doubt about the Swans’ first leg tactics. The Cottagers, meanwhile, limped through on the wrong end of a 2-1 home defeat by Cardiff City yesterday evening. Whilst they have the aggregate win, Scott Parker’s face afterwards said it all (not for the first time).

Tuesday night is going to be huge. We all know the financial implications of going up. We’re all looking for the ultimate in bragging rights. Brentford are currently the kings of West London football based on results between our teams this season. Confidence is high but this now boils down to one more game. One more assault. One more chance to show the world what this team is made of. Said Benrahma has just been named Championship player of the month for July but rather than being the jinx these things have been rumoured to be, has a curse been lifted?

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Back when Griffin Park became our home in 1904, a gypsy camp had to first be removed from the orchard on which it was built before work could begin in earnest (sound familiar?). Rumour has it that a curse was placed, saying the club would never amount to anything, or some such words, until we left. Well, with Swansea City being the final visitors then, as it stands, Brentford are technically now playing at Lionel Road. Our next game takes place on the neutral ground of Wembley and then we run out at the new stadium. As such, has the curse now been lifted?  

I for one, am saying yes. Based on no more scientific knowledge than blind optimism and a healthy respect for football tradition and jinx-factor. Orange balls MUST be used in the snow. Proper use of brackets after 7(seven). Extra strong mints mid-game. Haribo Star mix after goals have been scored. Never shave on a winning run. Never wash the lucky shirt. The same pants must be worn (the jury remains out on whether they should be washed) . Clem. As for Clem, well we could write a book on his powers – and if you’d like to read more……. 

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Clem – had his moments but has since turned the corner

Let’s hope it is the case, given our past form in the play-offs. Move along, nothing to see here. Quite literally. Instead, we’re all set for ninth time lucky. No amount of Matthew Benham urinating in the corners (hypothetically, I hope….) or the board sprinkling holy water in each goal mouth  – the two standard techniques for ‘curse removal’ – has so far resulted in us being able to take the ultimate step. So they’ve just done the next best thing and moved grounds.

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Griffin Park this week. Tread carefully in the corners.

Now, Kitman Bob has the needle and thread out. Dates and Teams are being added to shirts in that cup final tradition. Again, one which hasn’t worked that well for us in the past but who cares? All bets are now off. Everything is reset. We can start again. In theory, Wembley could become the happiest of hunting grounds. Don’t shoot the messenger….      

There’s a lot to talk about between now and Tuesday evening. For now, we’ve enjoyed the moment of Swansea but that’s been and gone. Just as we don’t dwell on Barnsley there’s nothing much to be gained by reflecting too much on the the good. All we can do is look forward. To know we are 90 minutes away from playing the biggest clubs in the land on a regular basis. And also Leeds United.

Bring it on.

Time for Bob to get his needle and thread out

Nick Bruzon

Rico red rescinded. What next for Keith and the Bees?

28 Jul

If pushed, I’d say that Brentford beating Swansea to reach the play-off final is what happens. Sorry Swans but the team are good to go. The injustice suffered at the incompetent hand of Keith Stroud in Sunday’s play-off first leg has now been wiped from the record. It’s a tragedy we won’t get those 25 minutes or goal back but the morale boost from todays news can’t be underestimated. I gather the boys were so incensed at full time that they wanted to go out and play the second leg there and then. Understandable emotion. All being well they’ve bottled that passion and are ready to lift the stopper at 7.45 on Wednesday evening, take a healthy swig and go for glory.

We can get excited about the game in the morning. For now, I’ve still got Stroud rage. He lost us the play-off semi against Swansea in 2005. His dubious sending off of goalkeeper Stuart Nelson, with the Bees leading in the first leg c/o Jay Tabb, saw the inevitable happen just three minutes from time. He cost us a shot at ‘automatic’ in 2013 at Sheffield United when he lost the plot – dispensing cards and penalties like a drunk wedding guest brandishing a box of confetti. I forget exactly what happened after that but there was something about Doncaster and a penalty kick. It’s not been mentioned since so the exact circumstances remain a touch unclear.    

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A Keith for all seasons

The point being, Keith messed up. Again. Credit where it’s due, his recent record against with us has been a good one. Win has followed win with generally good performances accompanied by the odd slice of good fortune (i.e. wobbly decision) in our favour. But when it comes to the pressure situation he cost us then. And has cost us now. The difference being there is a chance to put it right. And there is a team chomping at the bit to do so.

We’re 90 minutes away from that most horrific place in North London. The place where dreams go to die and living hell awaits. But enough about Ikea. One can’t even put in to words how exciting this season has been. How well our team have performed throughout the most adverse of environments. Now, we are almost at the ‘W’ place. Granted, a goal down (thanks a bunch, Keith) but with home advantage, a wrong righted,  a gut full of injustice and the single most exciting team we’ve had the pleasure of watching all at our disposal. A team who are now desperate to go out and how what they’ve got once more.

The big match preview can wait for the morning. Right now, I’m still running on frustration and fury. Keith has hurt us. The authorities have confirmed this. They have agreed that he got it wrong and have reversed his red. It’s a shame they are powerless to make any further adjustment to the result but that’s not how football works. Instead, we’ve still got the power in our hands to make his (latest) error an irrelevance.

How a man with his track record is allowed to wreck so many crunch games is a mystery to rank alongside Betinho. But he has been given that privilege and he has delivered injustice once more. 

Betinho signs BBC

Even the BBC got excited

Webster’s dictionary defines incompetent as: lacking the qualities needed for effective action; unable to function properly ; not legally qualified ; inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose.

Hmmm. Whilst I’d never wish ill on anybody and nor would I for one second want the responsibility of being ‘man in the middle’,  the question of how the same individual can get it wrong in so many pivotal moments involving the same club does need to be asked. Will anybody listen? Or care? It’s probably easier to take the moral high ground, go out to beat Swansea (no easy matter) then stick our heads in the sand. Pretend it never happened. Except, of course, we can’t. And shouldn’t.

It IS good news but it still feels tainted. We must try, of course, to focus on the matter at hand. Namely Brentford pulling back a one goal deficit. We have the players to do it and at least Rico will be available. But then that’s what happens when you know how to defend. 

I just wonder if the football authorities will ever tackle Keith?

Nick Bruzon

7(seven) year old calls Championship play-off winners….

26 Jul

Here we go, again. The play-offs await. For Brentford, the Premier League is just three games away. Blocking our path, a Swansea City team that host the first leg this evening following their quite incredible overtaking of Nottingham Forest during the week. The other side of the draw sees Fulham and Cardiff City lock horns. That’s their problem, of course. All focus here has to be on the game at the Liberty Stadium.

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Brentford lock, yesterday. Swansea 0….?

Let’s be honest. Spirits can’t have been more contrasting following the end of the regular Championship campaign. For Brentford, the chance of automatic came so close and we had to be content with third place. A quite remarkable achievement over the course of a season yet still a night which ended, for so many, washed away on a sea of ifs, buts and maybes.

That’s only natural in the immediacy of the moment. Totally understandable. This is football. A place where the glass is so often half-empty and the thought of what might have been, red-raw as the referee blew for full time. Most hurting but empathising with their heroes. The odd few choosing to..well, let’s just say that perhaps rather than wallowing in self-pity and the apparent divine right to slag off their heroes some need to take a look at themselves.   

Swansea, on the other hand, will have been absolutely buzzing. Again, only natural. To be three points and -5 GD behind Forest heading into that last round of fixtures yet to still make it in to the final four will be an emotional high like no other. Moreso, given how late that final swing happened. 

Like us, they’re here on merit based on the season’s performance as a whole. Of course game 46 is that final, final chance to alter the table. But the table has been forming since August. And now it is locked in. Emotional highs and lows have been and gone. Both teams have been back on the training ground. Neither side is now beholden on other results. Control is back with us once more. We don’t need the thought of favours at the back of our mind. 

That element bemoaning the results at Stoke City and Barnsley are playing the ultimate disrespect to both teams. Stoke were turgid, no question. The ref was horrific, true. Yet they still did for us then went out and put four goals past Forest in the next game. This was a side out to prove some points and wreck some parties. As for Barnsley, look how they played in the run in. Matching Leeds United where only an o.g. separated them. Taking Forest all the way until their late, late winner. Playing with confidence and a never say die spirit against us. 

Yes, one might have expected us to win one of these ( I did, and even predicted brackets against Barnsley  – being quite truthful) but that’s not how football works. The final game was one played out in the horrible knowledge of matters elsewhere being ultimately responsible for our fate. Whether we’d won 7(seven) – 0 or lost 1-2, had West Brom got their win then it would have been the play-offs regardless. None of us are professional footballers. It’s so easy for any numpty on the terrace to say “Just concentrate on your own game” but you wouldn’t be human not be aware of the broader situation. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like.

Anyway, that’s all been and gone. We are no longer reliant on West Brom. On Huddersfield Town. On Mark Warburton and QPR. This is now done to us. We’ve two games against Swansea to focus on. If league form teaches us anything it is that Brentford have the advantage so far. Our 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium in October was followed by a 3-1 victory at Griffin Park on Boxing Day. Quite how that translates will only be seen at full time on Wednesday night once the second leg has concluded. One of these teams will be going to Wembley to face Fulham or Cardiff City.

Will it be a West London derby? An all Welsh affair? Or some combination of both. Well, for what it’s worth I’m taking comfort from the words of a seven year old. In the days leading up to the Barnsley game, all H would say to me was, “Daddy, QPR are going to draw 2-2 at West Brom”. He was utterly convinced it was going to play out like that. Now, he’s calling a Brentford – Cardiff City final. “Daddy, it’s going to be my team versus Iwan’s in the final. What a shame they can’t come up with us though.” 

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H – knows his football.

Is he on to something? Or just trying to see the positive? To help out a dad who has been through every one of our previous play-off campaigns and explained them all in excruciating detail. From Tranmere to Middlesbrough via the horrors of Stoke, Huddersfield and Crewe. Martin Allen’s double stab against Sheffield Wednesday and, err, Swansea. The frustration of Yeovil Town. My word, Yeovil. How did that work out for everyone longer term? 

Ok. So our record is worse than than the The Very Best Of Simply Red . We all know how things have turned out since our 1991 trip to Prenton Park but history counts for nothing. Not when you have the season and the players that we’ve all had the privilege to enjoy over 2019/20. In a campaign which has been the most crazy on record, wouldn’t it be just like us to finally break the ultimate hoodoo. Hey, if we can win a game after a visit from Clem or receiving the Manager of the month award then anything is possible.

Bring it on !!!! 

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Thomas and Clem prove that positivity can triumph.

Nick Bruzon

Don’t @ me. This isn’t even close to 94-95.

19 Jul

Where do you even start? It could have been dreamland for Brentford but instead we have to fight on. The dream of promotion from the Championship still well alive but one which is now reliant on either West Bromwich Albion dropping more points on Wednesday or us going through the play-offs. In a high pressure game at Stoke City the combination of brutal opposition, terrible refereeing from Geoff Eltringham and hosts set up so intent on smothering us that penetration was nigh on impossible all saw us slip to 1-0 defeat. The usual attacking flair booted out of us by a team boasting more kickers than a French exchange student. If Friday’s win for Huddersfield Town had felt like some cathartic relief from the 25 year pain that has gnawed away since the 94-94 play-off semi-final ( a moment for me which was way worse than ‘that’ penalty) yesterday brought the heartache of the 2002 play-off in Cardiff flooding back.

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You see, they’re also a brand of footwear popular with…

We’ve all seen it. There’s no point in going through even the briefest summary of the highlights beyond saying that our hosts had clearly done their homework. Brentford tried but had no way past. Eltringham and his team missing two blatant penalties (the second especially). Ethan Pinnock coming oh-so close at the death.

Much like the Doncaster game, going through the carcass of this one won’t change a thing. Pawing over the dead duck that was Crewe or Yeovil at Wembley doesn’t help. Nor does whining about the players, the team or their apparent ‘bottling’ it on social media. 

Sure, we’re all hurting. I am, and as much because I’ve followed this team through devastation and lowpoints since the back end of the 70s. My son, too. He only knows  Brentford set to ‘amazing’ mode and was in tears as this one reached a heart breaking conclusion.

Heart breaking as much because of the most incredible way this team have come together over the last few months. The team spirit and desire shown as they’ve caught up with our rivals through nothing more than guts, determination and win after win after win. Eight in a row, to be precise. The excitement and happiness they’ve engendered in a fanbase doing their best, and usually struggling, to get through the awfulness of lockdown. They’ve kept many of us going in a way more incredible than they  probably realise.

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For half an hour, the dream was on…

There’s been some nonsense spouted on social media about their apparent bottling it yesterday. Justified in the guise of: Oh, I’m hurting – I can say what I want. Now shut up and f*ck off.

Yes. We’re ALL hurting. Aghast to have missed out. It was the most amazing opportunity and, you know what, this time it wasn’t able to be taken. Couldn’t be taken. But to even get into that position is an incredible achievement.

To still be well alive with two more bites at the cherry is not to be sneered at or overlooked. 

Of course people are gutted. They have every right to be – it’s the natural emotion at a time like this. Our entire fanbase should be. I am. Beyond belief. But as much because I know how close we’ve come and how hard we’ve worked to even get into that position.

It was always going to be fragile opportunity, given how far off the pack we’d been when this amazing run started. Moreso, when in a game of few chances and bus parking opposition, we needed the help and protection of the officials. Not their failing an eyetest. Now, destiny is out of our hands as quickly as it had got there.

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You can’t blame Stoke for setting up as they needed to

This one feels different though. The season is still alive. We’ve not been relegated or lost a final. We’re still in with a huge chance to get promoted.

If not directly (and I’d hate to picture the scene in the Gilham household this morning, knowing that we are in the hands of West Bromwich Albion not winning when the Loftus Road mob visit on Wednesday) then via the play-offs. In all likelihood, needing to get past Cardiff City or Fulham in the final. Football. A cruel mistress.

For me, there has been no lower point than standing in the paddock, watching the celebrations amongst the Huddersfield Town players and staff back in ’95. I remember it still. Numb. Devastated. Shell-shocked. A glazed feeling washing over me. Not able to move but just stare out across Griffin Park and into space. Something made even worse by our actually coming second that season and the reason, in part, of my loathing Birmingham City so much.

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

Yesterday wasn’t that. It wasn’t even ‘that penalty’ levels of awfulness. It was brutal. Devastating. But it’s not the time to be slagging off the players and the team for not winning a game. If that’s your thing and way of coping then fair enough – I can’t argue with that mindset but would also ask this…..

Would you have the balls to say it to their face? To tell Thomas Frank or any of the players that you thought they bottled it. Bottled it. Were a team of bottlers. To actually say those words ? In person?  Hmm. It’s not so easy being a keyboard warrior for real.

That’s me done. @ me all you want. I don’t really care. From this point on I’m only focussing on the game with Barnsley. The thought that, as it stands, we are a possible 90 minutes away from the Premier League. I just wish I could be there on Wednesday night to join in.

As the returning Sergi Canos ( itself, a cause for celebration) noted last night: “Disappointing result but there’s no time to think about it. We are an amazing club as a whole on and off the pitch and we are going to keep fighting until the end. 

THIS IS NOT OVER YET.

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Sergi and his fighting spirit are back

Nick Bruzon