Tag Archives: Premier League

From Blue Peter to Mr Tumble. Club legend does it again.

3 Aug

Another Premier League first for Brentford. The build up to next Friday continued with the team shooting those ‘green screen’ goal celebration videos which, all being well, we’ll get to see over the forthcoming season. Whilst our more longstanding divisional stable mates – the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool etc etc – are well versed in all of this, for Brentford it was a first. And there were predictable results. Of the most wonderful kind.

Peter Gilham. Mr Brentford. Football’s longest serving man-with-the-mic. A man clear even of George Sephton at Liverpool in his time reading out the teams, announcing the substitutes and reminding us that “Every goal scored is sponsored by Siracusa. It’s a little Italian restaurant… at Brentford Lock” amongst his other many, many duties. We all know Peter. We all love Peter. He is the modest, under-assuming face of our club. As big a fan as anybody in the stands and living the dream. Only a place in the squad remains for him to have then completed the list of having performed just about every job done at Griffin Park and, now, Lionel Road.

Peter doing his thing on match day

His moments are legion. The dangerously stimulating pronunciation of Maxiime Collll-in. Maybe the explosions that were goal celebrations for the likes of “Owusuuuuuuu!” or “Triple B. Big Ben Burrrgeessssssss”. 

Hello. And welcome to Brentford club call” being one of my favourites from days gone by. The pre-internet chance to run up a 33p a minute phone bill on 0898 121108 whilst waiting to find out which Premier League star we’d signed. 180 seconds later…Welcome back, Bob Booker! That’s a pound my parents will never see again.

Who could forget the 3-0 v Fulham a few season back when Peter once more got caught up in the moment of fan masquerading as p.a. announcer and lost it. In the best possible sense.  “The scorer of Brentford’s third goal…Yoannnn Barbettttt !!!…. I think,” and then after the briefest of what seem to be trademark pauses, “No.It was Scott Hogan. But who cares?!!!

Yet for me, if you wanted to capture Peter’s style and charm in a single moment it was during a pre-season friendly against Celta Vigo. At one point he was forced to reel off a good half dozen, at least, simultaneous substitutions for the visitors. Manfully, he struggled through before concluding in his customary dry style, “And if that’s wrong, don’t blame me.”

Peter includes ‘Minder’ in his many duties

As with all of us, modern life can present challenges. The warning signs were there the time Peter was obliged to promote the club’s social media channels. Live on pitch he encouraged us to use, “Snapchat”. Then paused for a moment before adding, “Whatever that is.

Then, last season, he was pranked. Royally. In scenes akin to Bart Simpson ringing Moe’s Tavern in TV’s The Simpsons, he didn’t miss a beat in reading out a birthday announcement to Mike Oxlong from his friends Sal Army and Hugh J… well, the video is below:

There wasn’t even any suggestion that such a legend should be shown some respect. Frankly, it was just too funny. Fifty years at the helm yet still suckered in by the oldest trick in the p.a. book.  It was a moment that made National Radio on the Dave Berry breakfast show. Over 2million Absolute Radio listeners waking up to the sound of Peter saying Mike Oxlong. More importantly, it gave us all a huge laugh at a time when Corona was ruining everything for everyone.

Then, yesterday, it happened again. Not so much falling for a trick as falling over himself. It says it all about Peter that the club chose to include him in the goal celebration videos being shot. Shows just what a key part of the team and the squad he is. 

In front of the green screen, whilst living the dream, it happened. In Brentford style.

I can’t watch this enough. Who doesn’t love a bit of falling over. And for it to be Peter. Magnificent. The spirit in the club truly alive and kicking, given Ivan’s reaction. It’s now up there up with the time that Mr Tumble signed for Manchester City in my favourite non-footballers doing football things moments. See also : Stallone and Caine turning out for the Allies XI in Escape To Victory or Bryan Robson and his Thunderbirds level cameo on Jossy’s Giants. Come for the ‘acting’. Stay for the jumper.

Bravo Peter. Bravo. Now, it’s just a place in the Premier League and you’ll have done it all. If it’s good enough for Tumble then….

Tumble’s stint at the Ethiad was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it”

Nick Bruzon

Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

1 Aug

August is upon us. Anything happening this month? Something something something Premier League. Less than two weeks for Brentford to wait until Arsenal come to visit. Exciting times are ahead and, already, under way. Having drawn with Manchester United during the week Saturday saw our first game at Lionel Road since the play-offs. It was the return of Said Benrahama with West Ham United for a pre-season run out that, as much as anything else, gave us a look at new players, old friends and our ‘actual’ seats for when it all starts properly. Of course ‘Corona Virus restrictions (a phrase to top the list of three word horrors) has meant that any entry afforded to our new home so far has been very much in the hands of fate as to where we were positioned. No complaints – even getting in was a privilege but it was an added bonus yesterday seeing how things would be when the season proper kicks off on Friday week.

A new chart topper for 2021

First up, West Ham. The visitors took it 1-0 courtesy of none other than Said Benrahama. It had to be really. The goal was the sort of top draw effort we saw him pull out the bag time and again in Brentford colours. It was a moment of sublime skill and if the hammers had to win, at least it was via spectacular effort that even had the Bees faithful offering respectful applause. Those that weren’t booing him through the game. I get we weren’t going to cheer him after the warm up but booing? Errrrr … Kayla pretty much nailing it on Twitter. Come for the comment, stay for the goal.

See also : the solitary voice constantly calling out 4 game loanee Ryan Fredericks (2012) as a Brentford reject. To do it once could be considered terrace wit. Constantly? Just odd. Still, it wouldn’t be football without a bit of niche reference and, frankly, how good to watch a game with fans present. Even away support who made a vociferous effort in the South-East corner prior to kick off then promptly decided to go all Arsenal i.e. silent.

For Brentford, another game where the opportunity to use the full length of the substitutes bench was taken. Shandon Baptiste impressed again with a jinking (happy, Jim?) run through the Hammers’ defence and a second half shot that came back off the post amongst several highlights. Likewise Frank Onyeka, whose first half performance was littered with impressive touches, runs and passing before injury brought it to a possible early conclusion. Fingers crossed his substitution was nothing more than precautionary. At least he appeared , unlike Kris Ajer who was again absent. Talk on the terrace suggesting that Celtic were delaying his paperwork although how true that is, of course, nothing more than conjecture.

Rico Henry was another welcome return. Pace down the left flank mirroring Mads Roerslev on the right as part of a defence that also included three centre backs. Is this how we’ll go in the Premier league ? Expect more clues on Saturday against Valencia. Regardless, expect Rico to start for sure. Like Josh Dasilva he was much missed in the run in last season and whilst the England U-21 still remains absent, at least we’ve one star name back in the starting XI .

To be fair, though, there was no poor showing. Brentford 2021/22 seem to have hit the ground with a consistently strong start all round. How much of this translates to league football remains to be seen. I tend not to read too much into pre-season showings but as much as anything else, it’s just nice to get back in front of our team. To see old faces aswell as a lot of new ones. To have a beer before and after the game. Even during – given the catering was not up and running at Lionel Road. Fast poor Guinness the way to go along with a lot of spicy offerings on the food front, including that most important of pre-match staples : the chicken balti pie. Even if there didn’t appear to be the more traditional burgers or hot dogs on offer which did seem somewhat of a surprise. Then again, perhaps it was just me being unobservant. Equally, seeing Thomas doing his end of game ‘thumbs up’ felt like things were back to normal.

Full time at Lionel Road

The other major absentees were Buzz and Buzzette. Presumably just waiting for that XXXXX kit to be delivered by Umbro. Who could forget the shameful pensioning off of Gunnersaurus driver Jerry Quy in October? Another victim of the corona virus cull. At the time, chairman Cliff Crown assured us they were safe but, to date, there has been no sighting of our furry friends. Whilst I am sure there is nothing to fear in their protected disappearance, one can only hope they return for Valencia and Arsenal. Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

Initial positivity but further comment definitely still needed

What else to say? Simply put: It was GREAT to be back. Lionel Road is a fantastic place to watch football. It’s not Griffin Park but it IS home. I’ve been lucky enough to make three visits since we were first allowed back for that Blackburn game. I’m enjoying it more and more each time. The anticipation for what it’s like when the place is full is already off the scale. That game with Valencia will be another step closer and then we’re up and running. As much, it was seeing old friends again. Of stopping at The Griffin for a pint or two. Of seeing the play-off final remembered once more. Emiliano may no longer be with us how nice to see Ewan Peleschka still choosing to honour his hero on this season’s shirt. Truly, the hallmark of a champion .

Loyal

Nick Bruzon

More than just one man. Today is about all of us coming home.

31 Jul

Saturday lunchtime. Excitement is building. For Brentford fans, the first chance to attend a ‘normal’ home game since the 5-0 humping of Sheffield Wednesday back at Griffin Park in March 2020. We’re now in August 2021 and whilst not even feeling as though we are close to being out of the woods, the chance to reconvene en-masse is not one to be spurned. West Ham United the visitors. A pre-season friendly between the two Premier League clubs (not a typo) and an added layer of anticipation given the return of one well loved face in Said Benrahma. There hasn’t been this much anticipation about seeing a West Ham player since the days of John Colby. The England International, of course, one of the most universally loved players on the world stage following the part he played during that infamous ‘friendly’ between the Allies and Germans back in the day.

John Colby – West Ham and England

I’m pumped for this one. The performance at Old Trafford during the week was one to inspire even more optimism than before. Shandon Baptiste’s strike was immense whilst the touch from Bryan Mbeumo to begin the move for his goal was one which, in retrospect, was criminally overlooked on these pages. Yet what brought greater pleasure was the all round solidity, even upon full rotation of the outfield contingent. After weathering the early storm there was no being fazed by what was a first visit to that vast area for just about everyone.

Now we face a West Ham team sure to feature that man Benrahma. So much has happened that it’s almost a case of pinching one’s self to remember he played for us, and also scored against (allegedly) Premier league opposition last season. The League Cup goal agasint Fulham, where Michael Hector was mugged but the most outrageous of back-heeled nutmegs, a quite fitting send off for the Algerian magician. A man who lit up Griffin Park with his ball tied-to-foot-with- a-piece of string levels of skill previously only seen from Jota or Roy of the Rovers (not a real footballer).

Said did it one last time against Fulham(R)

Many thought we’d fail without him. Instead, we rebuilt and despite the odd wobble, achieved the ultimate goal. The Bees were promoted to the Premier League. Now we get the chance to catch up once more. To say goodbye in person. I’m sure there’ll only be a fond welcome during the warm up. But come 3pm, all bets are off. Brentford will be playing to win. No old pals act. no room for sentiment. Perhaps there’ll be ah ug for Peter Gilham.

Yet it’s more than just one man. It’s a chance to see and hear what Lionel Road sounds like when it’s got more than 4,000 present. A chance for many to make their first pilgrimage to our new home. Supporters who have only ever known Griffin Park now get to see if it is all worth it (it is ). To understand why we’ve had to move.

Leaving Griffin Park without saying a proper goodbye was heartbreaking for so many. Even moreso , seeing the images of floodlights coming down, stand being ripped apart and the pitch dug up. Perhaps today will provide some cathartic relief to all that pain. To complete the journey. I’m one of the lucky ones who has already been to Lionel Road. Who has already had the opportunity to see the future. The atmosphere against Bournemouth was immense. This could be ten times better.

Roll on 3pm. And for the first time in a while, we can even say… “See you there”

View from the Braemar – Said celebrates

Nick Bruzon

Top, top football. Bees hold United in game of netbusters. But elsewhere….

29 Jul

Only time will tell how much, if any, significance can be taken from last night’s 2-2 draw between Manchester United and Brentford at Old Trafford. Below strength Bees only held by the Red Devils or a shock upset in which two strong line ups will both argue they should have won it? As was once said, “You can’t win anything with kids” and whilst the same could have applied there was still enough recognisable talent along with plenty more suggesting strength in depth. On both sides. For me, Clive, an entertaining draw illuminated by four top quality goals. Perhaps, if anything, the other noteable result of the evening – FC Midtjylland dumping (is there any other way to exit early?) Celtic out of the Champions league is one that will have greater significance. Beyond a lot of smiles in the Benham household.

Frank IN.. the Brentford side

An action packed match at Old Trafford in which the hosts dominated the first half, Brentford the second. 1-1 at half time saw Anthony Elanga open the scoring for Manchester United with a quite wonderful turn and first time shot in the box. Raya left unable to do anything beyond marvel at the two tone blue ‘keepers shirt that emerged from nowhere to set the kit nerds into meltdown. Minutes later, it was level with Shandon Baptiste hitting a swerving shot from distance past United goalie Tom Heaton and in off the bar. 

Yet if they were net busters, what came next from Andreas Pereira was goal of the game by a country mile. A clearance from Ethan Pinnock only fell as far as the midfielder who returns it with interest. Boom. My word. What . A. Strike. Credit where it’s due . A volley from hell. Another one to leave Raya floundering through no more reason than the sheer unstopabiltiy of the strike. Wow. Just wow.

With substitutions all round, to the point that the entire Bees outfield contingent swapped over, it was that man Bryan Mbeumo who levelled it up. A trademark run into the box and shot curled past Heaton. 2-2 the score and how it ended. For Brentford, a chance to test ourselves in one of the most famous football arenas the world over. A cracking result and another game unbeaten. The opportunity for fans to get back on the road once more. Even buy a half and half scarf. About as niche as they get but who’d have thought they’d ever see one of these? I’m not sure whether to hang my head or laugh.

Next up West Ham at home on Saturday. A large crowd are expected and this will be just as stern a test. Just as exciting an opportunity. The chance to watch live football en-masse something we’ve missed desperately. If Old Trafford ended up being a midweek step too far on this occasion, you can be sure we’ll be busting out the seas at the weekend.

As for the other result – Midtjylland beating Celtic – Henrik Dalsgaard was on hand to provide the assist for the winning goal. Matthew Bentham’s ‘other’ club progressing to the next round of the Champions’ League. The Glasgow side left to reflect on what might have been, once again. Yet with players from both clubs joining Brentford over the summer – and Frank Onyeka getting his own run out for The Bees last night – the direction of where football power is shifting would seem clear to all. The big question being can we hang on to it. The even bigger question being what the implications are should Brentford join the Danes in qualifying for European football? 

Crazy? Perhaps. But what’s the point of going to football if you can’t dream. In a theatre or otherwise. Until then, very much a case of FrankIN. How nice to watch a game without the keyboard warriors doing their thing. Long may it continue.

Let’s hope we have less of this nonsense in the forthcoming campaign

Nick Bruzon

Looking sharp for the Manchester United game. And beyond..

28 Jul

Fair to say we’re now up to our, err, elbows in pre-season prep for the Premier League. The weekend gone saw queues all the way around the block for the launch of the new Brentford kits (something likened by many to our lining up in the snow when Chelsea FA cup tickets went on sale first time around). There was the behind closed doors friendly defeat of Watford, with Ivan Toney picking up where he left off last season and then this evening Manchester United welcome the top flight’s third placed club in another warm up game.

Prove otherwise

We’ve already spoken about the new kit on these pages – you can find that one here – but the good news being that up close and personal it looks better than those launch photos. Dare I say it, ten times…? The away, certainly.

Going past the club shop last Thursday evening on the way to H’s swimming lesson, our cycle up Braemar Road coincided with the mannequins being arranged in the window. But enough about the Birmingham City defence. There they were. Plastic models (but enough abou…), bedecked head to foot in what we’ll be wearing over the forthcoming campaign. The relief was palpable.

Our away looks gorgeous. Discreet chevron shading running through the design whilst the home, whilst still sadly bereft of our own black trim, at least seems to have toned down the awful look of the sponsor that greeted the initial reveal. Perhaps it had been photoshopped in after the launch phots were taken. As if that would ever happen. Who knows?

Certainly the queues that ran all the way around the block and the huge wait for printing were testament to the popularity. Kudos to Chris and the team running the laminator. A three hour wait from start to finish to complete our order from going in. “Ah, we’ll just stroll up at 9 o’clock,” I casually said to Mrs Bruzon and H.

Hmmmm….The queue went from bus stop to bus stop. Griffin Park down to the New Road 65 shelter and beyond. It really was like taking a throwback to League One. Most of our time was spent waiting to even get access although the usual bonhomie that greets such occasions was alive and well. There’s nothing like the thought of needing your shirt to travel to Manchester United the following week to get the blood pumping and the spirits high.

And that is now upon us. The table doesn’t lie and with Brentford in third place – ten slots above the Old Trafford outfit – our early season form has been rewarded. Whilst the visit of Arsenal on Friday 13th will be the true acid test and our first real chance to go top of the Premier League on ability rather than alphabetical good fortune. Still, I’ll take what I can get. Pull it off this evening or next month and the place is going to go nuts. With the Bees largely expected to be whipping boys, we’ve nothing to lose, everything to gain and the knowledge that this tin pot outfit actually knows what it is doing.  

For anybody not able to travel tonight, the game is live on MUTV. Not that I can imagine we’ve too many subscribers. This Saturday’s visit from West Ham is more likely when the half and halfers will be out and about. Still, with a monthly pass available online at £7.99, perhaps a one-off subscription may be the way forward. For Manchester United rather than West Ham. You can sign up here but don’t forget to deactivate your card afterwards.

Nobody can deny our preseason is being taken lightly. The transfers are coming in whilst we’ve still not had any rumours of outward movement. No bad thing, given the number of Toney 17 shirts that were flying off the shelves at the weekend. I daren’t imagine the stress should he even change his squad number, let alone be linked to a rival. Still, that’s nothing different to any other campaign. It’s Brentford, innit. 

Old school queuing on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

Just a bus stop in Hounslow. Yet….

22 Jul

The Premier League is getting closer. With tickets for the West Ham and Valencia pre-season games now on sale to Brentford ST holders, it doesn’t feel long until we will all be back together once more. Even more exciting, the question of who will be in the Bees starting XI has been opened up that bit further with confirmation of our first signings of the summer. The last few days have seen the chewed up biros out in force with Frank Onyeka joining from FC Midtjylland and then, yesterday, confirmation that centre back Kristoffer Ajer has left Celtic for Lionel Road. Both, moves about as telegraphed as a ‘joke’ in an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys yet, like the alleged comedy, nobody was laughing. At least in Glasgow where there were the usual cracks about #teamslikeBrentford. Comedy genius the likes of which we’ve never heard before and a level that Brendan O’Carroll could only aspire too.

Who might be next?

But we digress. With Midtjylland holding Celtic 1-1 on Tuesday night in the Champions League second qualifying, Ajer has swapped the chance to be knocked out of Europe’s top competition before his club’s domestic league has even started for a chance to play in an actual competitive Premier league. A place where more than just Rangers might actually win the title. Insert fishing rod emoji and stand back. 

It’s a great move for him and a wonderful one for us. A Norweigan international and only 23 years old, he fits the Brentford model perfectly. Thomas Frank has described him as his “First choice” signing, telling the told the BBC that, “we think he fits the position specific profile perfectly, especially on the ball….Kris is very composed and can find the right passes between the lines. 

Kris is now a Bee

Then there’s Frank Onyeka. A player whose name has been mentioned for months. Not surprising , given the Midtjylland connection. Another international, the Nigerian is seen by Thomas as a box to box player who has become the dominant midfielder in the Danish league. Our head coach telling ‘official’ that, “His performances in the Champions League last season convinced us that he is ready for the Premier League. 

Just as Kris is going to provide wonderful competition in defence, the battle for midfield places could be equally intriguing. Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen both featured all the way to the Euro 2020 semi-finals whilst we still have Vitaly Janelt and then, of course, Josh Dasilva is due to return from injury (at some point.Err….) . Again, all four players with international experience for their respective age groups and Vitaly, in particular, ending his close (closed?) season on a high for Germany.  

Clanggggg. The sound of a name being dropped. I was one of several fans involved in some filming for the Premier League about Brentford yesterday lunchtime (due to go out on Sky / BT August 4th) . It was an article looking at us as a club, our history, at Thomas and what to expect in the forthcoming months. One of the questions was about how we are perceived? The bus stop in Hounslow, the tinpot club who fly under the radar. We know it. We’ve all heard it. We love it. Whilst there was a lot of praise and thanks for Kris, there were as many snide comments from the Celtic faithful. Fair enough. It’s football. Nothing unexpected and the standard response from outside TW8 to anything we do.

Oh, I’ve missed it so much. Genuinely. The sneers. The frustration. Just the fact that we must be doing something right to elicit such a response. To sign such quality. We’re going to get it from certain quarters all season which is amazing given how little of a shit we give about any of that nonsense, beyond thriving off it. Beyond lapping it up and telling the joke ourselves. As Billy Reeves, amongst others, has noted: “In July 2013 we gave up three-quarters of our ground to Celtic fans for a friendly. Today we sign their star defender for £13.5mill.”

Football is definitely coming home (somebody really should write a song about that) and you can now count the weeks until the big kick off on the fingers of one hand. We’ve got the official shirt launch on Saturday and then the trip to Old Trafford next week. 

Now to ring up the boss and see if I can work the day out of our Manchester office. Pretty sure there’s a bus stop down this way I can travel from.

Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

 

Nick Bruzon

A chance to remember ‘that’ goal then look forward to an epic build up.

13 Jul

And thus pre-season was complete. At least, in terms of the calendar. Hot on the heels of our trip to Manchester United, Brentford have had the final two games of the build up confirmed. Saturday 31st July sees a visit from West Ham United with Spanish outfit Valencia next up in a 5.30pm kick-off the following Saturday (7 August). Six days later it all starts when Arsenal jump on the Piccadilly line to South Ealing. Full details are on ‘official’, with the Valencia game expected to see a full house and even some away fans present for the visit of West Ham (presumably, actual fans rather than those in the half/half scarves).

Arsenal are a short tube ride away

With all Corona bets off from July 19th – albeit we’ll see how long that lasts – the next natural step is for Brentford to go for broke in terms of capacity. The Valencia game has been declared as the formal opening of our new stadium and I can’t wait. The atmosphere against Blackburn and Bournemouth was nothing short of incredible. When the place is full – and especially when Arsenal visit for a full blooded, full fat encounter – it only promises to be immense. More importantly these are three tests that, at least in terms of opposition, one would hope may provide a bit more a steer as how the Bees will fare in the forthcoming season. Assuming both teams go full tilt rather than use them as an experiment in squad rotation. 

We’ll likely end up somewhere in between but as much as anything else its just an excuse to go to football once more. Why wouldn’t you. Cripes, we’ve missed it. Desperately. Euro 2020 showed that, as if any reminder were actually needed, despite the painful on-pitch denouement to that competition (can’t even begin myself to start about the shameful stuff that happened off it). We’re still wiping up the tears in our house even now. A brutal punch to the stomach of a young boy who has so far experienced a World Cup semi-final and a Wembley win to reach the Premier league. Normally unshakeable faith in his team now tested once more following our assault by Fulham in the previous play-offs. Oh well, like Doncaster Rovers and Yeovil Town you can file them in the ‘where are they now?“ files.

Which pretty much sums up the quite magnificent enigma that is Brentford FC 2021. That we can now mention Yeovil and Doncaster in the same breath as Manchester United, Arsenal and Valencia. Talk about time being a great healer. Talk about looking forward to enjoying every moment of the most monumental season for our club since records began. Sink or swim? Stay or go? Still under the radar and under rated or flying high from the off? Nobody gives us much of a hope, although Ivan Toney’s popularity in the Fantasy football stakes suggests otherwise. Personally speaking, I’m hugely optimistic (quelle surprise) although will perhaps forego the annual bet on Brentford to win the league. Something that, over the years, has seen us just about in net-gain territory. Perhaps it may be more prudent to go ‘each way’ , this season. 

This far in to a small piece on West Ham and no mention of Said Benrahma. Yet. Ah, it’ll be great to see him back and no doubt there’ll be an appearance. A player up there with Jota in the ability stakes and one who has gone on to the next level, despite yet to break into the first team on a regular basis. He was AMAZING at Griffin Park. He had that brief cameo at Lionel Road when scoring ‘that’ goal in the league cup against a hapless Fulham outfit. The turn and beautiful back-heeled nutmeg before rounding Michael Hector to unleash the mother of all shots. No doubt he’ll warm up to a heroes welcome before it all goes ‘panto villain’ once the game starts. 

‘That’ goal against Fulham last season..

What an opportunity for us to lay down a marker as to how far we’ve come. The fears that selling him and Ollie Watkins would see Brentford come to nothing last season, dispelled as quickly as Fulham’s Premier league survival hopes. The faith shown by those that stuck by Thomas and the team rewarded in the most incredible style at Wembley in May. The moment still feels as fresh now as it did then. It was a long time coming and still deserves to be enjoyed to the max. A moment to provide all the inspiration we need going forward.

With the Bees back in training already you can be sure Thomas will have us set to hit the ground running. The Euros have gone. The close-season (closed?) break now feels over. Sure, we‘ve a month to wait until the Premier League kicks off properly but now it feels as though the clock really is ticking. As though we are racing full tilt towards destiny. Now, the only things in the way of that season opens with Arsenal are Manchester United. Are West Ham. Are Valencia. 

My word, this is going to be fun…..

And as our regular final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU

Until then, why not enjoy that Benrahma goal one more time…..

Nick Bruzon

What do ‘that’ band see when they look in the mirror?

7 Jul

This is it. Later tonight England host Denmark in the Euro 2020 semis. At stake, a place in Sunday’s final against Italy. Themselves winners in the penalty shoot-out on Tuesday evening. Aside from the much noted Brentford connection, there’s also Bees news from closer to home with the game against Liverpool and the trip to Wolves also joining our visit from Arsenal on the early season TV fixture list. For those wanting ‘in’ to those games, yesterday’s announcements about tickets and memberships will certainly have a huge impact so do read up on that one. 

First up, the Euros. I’ve woken up this morning to ‘Kasper’ trending on Twitter. Hmm, who could they mean? The Korean rapper? Former Australian cricketer Michael Kasprowicz? The friendly ghost? (getting tenuous, now). Of course, it could only be Denmark goalkeeper Schmeichel. He appears to have upset a lot of people with his response to the question: 

What would it mean to you guys to stop it ‘coming home’ tomorrow night?” in yesterday’s press conference. 

Call it banter. Call it fact. Call it what you want. There was no denying the sabre rattling with his response:  

 Has it ever been home? Have you ever won it?” 

Good man! Love it. And to be fair, with his dad in the team that actually won the tournament back in 1992 one could argue that football has, at least, been to the Schmeichel home. Yet at the same time, nobody could deny the revival of the incredible Euro ’96 anthem (the less said about the subsequent re-recordings the better) has been a galvanising force of nature. The fans adore it in a manner that the England Supporters’ ‘band’ can only look on and marvel at with envious eyes.  A Wicked Witch staring into the mirror but rather than seeing Snow White, instead casting eyes on Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds.   

When the England Supporter’s ‘band’ look in the mirror…

The radio is playing it to death. It was amazing being a part of it back in ’96 and now we’re there once more. Regardless of past prowess, it’s the England fans’ song and their moment. Of course it is going to be of insignificance to Denmark. Their focus can only be on their own progression. Of course they’ll look to play it down. Yet, equally, only a fool would ignore the huge advantage that what is effectively home support will bring.  

Gareth Southgate has, as ever, attempted to play things down. Even seeming to mirror the thoughts of the Denmark ‘keeper, as he noted that, “We don’t have as good a football history as we like to believe sometimes. 

That’s all true but you can’t deny the feeling of excitement in the air. The game against Germany in 1996 saw England come within an outstretched boot of making the final before succumbing to the inevitable heartbreak of penalties. Denmark, winners four years earlier , will also be looking to history for inspiration. Something has to give when kick-off comes around. With Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard both coming off the bench on a regular basis, what are the odds it’ll involve the Brentford contingent? Roll on 8pm when we find out. 

clunky photoshop for our boys

Back home, we’ve had a few days off on these pages. In between, it was confirmed that along with Arsenal, two more Brentford games have been moved for TV. The trip to Wolves on Saturday 18 September now has a 12.30pm. kick off. That one’s on BT Sport. The next weekend’s visit from Liverpool has been pushed back a few hours to a tea-time 5.30pm kick off on Sky Sports. The date remains the same. Saturday 25th. No real surprises here and it least it means the trips to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa can now be planned with some degree of accuracy. Albeit subject to whatever curtailment of Lockdown and social distancing is announced on July 19th  

For those wanting ‘in’, Brentford official have now announced that no more season tickets will be sold. Instead, the remaining allocation of seats at Lionel Road will now be available to on a game by game basis, with priority going to members. At the same time, our new membership scheme has launched with the club making the promise that subject to a few understandable conditions, supporters signing up before August 13 will have guaranteed priority to at least one home league match during the 2021/22 season. 

Full details are on the website. You can read them, here. Please do if you want a chance of getting in to a game this season. If the atmosphere against Bournemouth in the play-off semi was anything to go by, this is going to be immense… 

And as a final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so hereTHANK YOU.

Nick Bruzon

Dark arts and fine goals. Plenty to keep us talking whilst waiting on the kit.

4 Jul

England humped Ukraine 4-0 in the Euro 2020 last eight, setting up a Wednesday night semi-final against Denmark. This, despite the best efforts of one Brentford legend. The Danes earlier victors over Czech Republic with dynamic Brentford duo Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard once again helping see that one out. A 60,000 crowd will be present at Wembley to see what has already been dubbed: Phil v Rasmus. At least, in TW8. By one person. And in domestic news, or rather, lack of domestic news we’re only six weeks away from the Premier League kick off with Arsenal yet still remain in the dark about what we’ll be wearing. Come on Bob, show us the kit.

First up though, the Euros. Wasn’t that quite the stroll in the end? The Denmark game certainly whetted the appetite for what felt like the main event later in the evening. Their 2-1 win crowned by a defence splitting pass from Joakim Maehle with the outside of the boot to tee up Kasper Dolberg for the Danes’ second just before half time. It was a moment of sublime skill. The ball delivered with all the finesse of Postman Pat, falling perfectly for Dolberg and all but ensuring progression before the quartered oranges had been served up and the tea poured. 

Perfection

The Czechs pulled one back early into the second period but that was as good as it got. The Brentford connection coming on to help settle any nerves and steer the team through. What a contrast from that awful moment in the game with Finland. What a way to recompose yourselves. Team spirit and incentive like never before. England won’t have it easy on Wednesday evening, that’s for sure.

If Gareth Southgate had urged caution and not getting carried away after the win against Germany, he’s going to have his hands full expecting the same restraint this team around. Football’s coming home etc etc being the quite understandable refrain. England were magnificent. Ukraine made to look non-existent. Harry Kane answering his recent critics in some style with a brace to follow up his goal against the Germans. The first coming with just four minutes on the clock and any pressure that might have been felt immediately dissipating. It stayed at the solitary effort, albeit never under threat, until half-time. And then – boom. First Harry Maguire and then Kane with his second put it out of sight within five minutes of the restart. My word. It was nuts. 

With Jordan Henderson making it four just after the hour, young Harry turned to me and asked, “Dad? Do you think they’ll get brackets?”. Cripes, I’d have put nothing past them although sadly, it wasn’t to be. Instead, England had to stick on a mere four goals. Kane almost hitting the hat-trick with a blockbuster of a shot that would have rivalled Ivan Toney at Wembley in the ‘Imagine if that had gone in’ stakes.

Who cares whether it was 1, 2 ,4 or 7(seven)? Nobody. All that matters in a tournament is getting through and last night saw two teams doing it in style.  We talk about the Danish spirit but the same could be said for England. Gareth Southgate would note this after the game, saying that, “We’re in the semi-final because of that spirit….I’ve seen lots of nations go out of tournaments because they haven’t got the spirit these boys have got.”

There was nothing going to stop this one. England with the momentum to see past any attempt to beat them. By fair means or foul. Even from the Brentford contingent with Natalie Sawyer regaling listeners to her Talksport breakfast show on Sunday with the story of how her other half ordered Chicken Kiev for dinner in the pub. Any attempt to call in the dark arts and sabotage the England effort. 

Oh, Dougie. Nice try but such nonsense will never work. Honestly, who believes in such omen related stuff…? Instead, we’ve got our magic shirts on and lucky table already reserved for Wednesday evening. It’s going to be monstrous. It’s going to be magnificent. With England having played the quarter final out in Rome, the morning has been full of laboured puns about Italian jobs and London calling once more for what will be an epic clash. 

Tasty.

Morale and momentum is high. The opposition not really being given a thought at present. Could Brentford derail the national express? Imagine the meltdown if Jensen or Norgaard popped up with a late winner or key moment ? If a certain cult hero started loading up on the bacon sandwiches? Roll on Wednesday night when we find out which way this one’s going to go.

Back in Brentford, well nothing. No news. No sighting. The obvious question being – Where? Is? The? Kit? Come on already. We’ve just over a month until the Premier League starts with that Arsenal game yet no clue. Not even a sighting of updated training gear. No idea what our latest attempt to reinvent the red and white stripes will look like. No clue as to whether we’ll be looking to new ‘away’ colours. The hot money / wishful thinking (delete as applicable) still favouring the sartorial thing of beauty that is the sash. Think Peru ’78. Southampton. Crystal Palace. Think Manchester City pulling off one of the best efforts in modern times whilst Hull City AFC have been blessed by Umbro this time around….. 

Who doesn’t love a sash?

It can’t be long, surely? With some sort of deal with ‘The Turmeric Company’ already hinted at by Brentford official, could this dictate a new shirt sponsor or (please no) vivid yellow-orange change colours? Will it drop from nowhere? A street art ‘fly poster campaign? We’ve even used the fans a few times. Kitman Bob – if you are reading (you aren’t) I remain available. One things for sure, the less serious, more light hearted campaigns are always well received.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who launches it. We just want to see it. At this rate, I’m seriously concerned we’ll be running out in shirts v skins when Arsenal come calling.

Is this a clue?

And as a final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed. With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU.

Nick Bruzon

New signings and, perhaps, a familiar face?

2 Jul

Exciting times. The Euro 2020 quarter finals are upon us and it is now July. Meaning the Premier League starts next month. Brentford, obviously, have have what could politely be called ‘interest’ in both. Our opener with Arsenal made all the more intriguing, as if the appetite needed whetting any further, by Thursday’s transfer news. Not to mention puns ahoy. England face Ukraine in Saturday evening’s last 8 game of the Euros and we’ve one last catch up on the season review book. 

First up, transfer news. Brentford official announced the widely rumoured signing of Daniel Oyegoke from Arsenal yesterday. The eighteen year old right back goes straight into the B team squad having signed on a three year contract with the option for an additional year. The obvious comparison is to Josh Dasilva (here’s hoping we get a positive injury update on him when the players return from summer holidays) who also joined from the Arsenal youth set up, albeit having made a handful of EFL cup appearances, back in 2018. To say he has progressed stratospherically would be somewhat of an understatement. Now an England U-21 and very much the one that got away, having joined for nothing after turning down a new contract at Highbury.

For Daniel, the exit of Henrik Dalsgaard suggested changes would have to come in that berth. How quickly the transition from B team to first team will be made, remains to be seen of course. Happen it will though. One thing our DOFs have done is absolutely nail the recruitment process in recent years. From the early days of Proschwitz or Dijkhuizen we’ve had a procession of shrewd talent at every level. The likes of Watkins, Benrahma and Konsa. Roerslev, Dasilva and Sorensen very much the norm now. The chance to join Brentford these days very much a marker in an indiviudual’s ability as well as their own chances of future progression.

Daniel isn’t alone. The club offered out a welcome of ‘Hey, Jude’ with central defender Jude Russell also joining the B team set up. He signs for a year from Crystal Palace, having already spent time with us in what is now last season. One of the many ‘trialist’ shirts now has a name behind it aswell as an obvious source of headlines and lazy puns should the player be involved in just about anything. Good news indeed for lazy bloggers and even lazier journalists.

You can read the full stories and actual facts about both players over on Brentford official.

Hey, Jude ( official got there first on Twitter. Don’t blame me)

Next up, our promotion from the Championship. As any semi-regular reader will know by now we’ve documented this in e-book form. The entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and out season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed.  

With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. This is the last time I’ll give this the full fat plug so will simply end by thanking everyone who has downloaded a copy so far and asking anybody else who can spare a few quid and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU.

Finally, the BIG story this weekend (short of Phil and Rasmus making a surprise swoop for out of contract Lionel Messi – hey, you read it here first) can only be the Euros. Friday sees Switzerland – Spain and then Belgium – Italy, with the big ones for the majority of us on Saturday. Then, of course, the Czech Republic face a Denmark side in which both Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard have been integral over the tournament.

The denouement of the quarters sees Ukraine take on England in Rome. That one’s going to be huge. No England supporters are ‘officially’ going to be there. Will any get through? Of course. Will Billy be there with his selfie-stick? (Grant, not Reeves). If anyone makes it to Italy it will be him. 

Which Billy will we get on Saturday?

Yet, regardless of who is in the stadium, you can bet the pubs back home will be jammed. Sofas heaving under the weight of both supporters and expectation. Gareth Southgate has been magnificent in his approach and team selection so far. No goals conceded and England magnificent in turning the screw against Germany during the week. A 2-0 win nothing more than absolutely deserved. 

Will they deliver more of the same? The bookies certainly think so with England generally priced at 2/5 to win this one. For the victors, the chance of a further stab at glory against either Czech Republic or Denmark. Should things fall the right way, that’s one midfield battle I can’t wait to see unfold. Here’s hoping…

From Lionel Road to the Euros…

Nick Bruzon