Tag Archives: promoted

Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.

30 Jul

Brentford travel to Millwall this afternoon for Tony Craig’s thoroughly deserved testimonial. Elsewhere Championship rivals Wolves, a club we have focussed on a lot more in recent years, have finally succumbed to the almost inevitable in providing the most expected of bad punnery.

First up, Tony Craig.  His transfer to Millwall in July of last year was a particularly disappointing one. As we’ve noted previously, he was one of these players who gave his all in a Brentford shirt over three seasons in which he was one of our standout players.

Tony bounced back from a dubious red card administered by Keith Stroud during the infamous battle of Bramall Lane in the year of ‘that penalty’. He was a colossus at the heart of the defence during our promotion season in which he scooped the player’s player of the year award.

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Tony – as seen on the club site after helping the Bees to promotion

One particular game from that campaign, home to Oldham Athletic and just into Warbs’ managerial tenure following the departure of Uwe, was notable for one of the most incredible pieces of defending I’ve ever seen, described at the time thus:

On the only occasions Athletic really threatened, Tony Craig was there to mop things up. The highlight of which being a 5 on 1 breakaway in the first half where he stood his ground, kept standing and did sufficient to fend off the Oldham hordes. Lesser players could have been forgiven for lunging in but not Tony. It was my moment of the game – until the goal itself”.

There was no fuss and no showmanship with Tony for Brentford. That’s not to say he wasn’t skillful but he just got on with his game. No more so was the difference in attitude between him and the more outrageous players seen than in the Championship fixture with Wolves at Griffin Park back in November 2014.

That was the one where, you may recall, Bakary Sako was due to play against us in golden boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Tony was the complete opposite. The anti-Sako, if you will. For one terrace wag, whose identity I’ll protect, the sight of even neon teale or electric pink boots on a Brentford player will usually elicit a cry of, “Rubbish. I like Tony Craig. Sensible, no nonsense footwear.”

Tony played the full 90 minutes that day as Wolves and Sako were locked out, leaving TW8 on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing. It was part of that #Novemberkings phase (please ‘official’, let’s never use hashtags again) that saw Warbs win manager of the month, Tony feature prominently and the Bees get within a sniff of the table top.

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Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Indeed, his absence from the side in the back end of the season coincided with some defensive howlers but, more importantly, a seeming fragility across the defensive area of the team when, perhaps, his experienced head would have been the perfect tonic. Whilst he remained available for selection, Warbs kept faith. with his chosen two.

I can’t knock him for that and the end result was Brentford reaching the Play-Offs. Itself, a phenomenal achievement when viewed independently. However, I do also wonder had Tony stayed in the team, might we actually have gone one better and achieved ‘automatic’?

We’ll never know but what better way to celebrate then by getting along to Millwall this afternoon? Admission is just £10 for adults and, more importantly, Tony is using the proceeds to make a donation to Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which treats injured members of the Armed forces.

The other Bees news is the just announced (Saturday morning) signing of Callum Elder on loan from Leicester City for the season. Filling the gap at left back made by Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road earlier this month, the move was one which had been very widely anticipated.

Fair play to the rumour mill, it has been spot on this season. Either they’ve upped their game or the Brentford press team have become leakier than the Fulham defence. Regardless, this can only be good news on the playing front and nice to see a change from the normal ‘signing photo’. This time around, we’ve gone for the rarely seen line up of the shirt  / contract combo.

And talking of Wolves earlier ( a link made with all the subtly of Bakary Sako’s boots), it has been announced overnight that the Molineux club have parted company with / sacked manager Kenny Jackett.

This is an inevitable part of modern football life. Moreso in the Championship where managers seem to have the longevity of a cornetto in a greenhouse. Yet, I feel a particular affinity to Wolves.

Despite the initial mocking from a minority of their fans in regards to how big they were compared to ‘little old Brentford’ (somebody should use that one) it’s fair to see we’ve given as good as we’ve got over a wonderful last three seasons.

There was the 2013/14 League One campaign where, despite a record number of points for the Bees and that huge unbeaten run, Wolves stormed to the title with a final total of 103. In any other season our own 94 would have been more than good enough for top spot.

However, the following two campaigns have seen Brentford fare better than Wolves, positionally. 2014/15 saw our two clubs locked on 78 points, with the Bees reaching the play-offs in fifth and Wolves coming so close to edging out Ipswich on that incredible final afternoon. In the end, it was a goal difference gap too far but 7th place still not one to be sniffed at for a newly promoted club.

Last season saw a 7(seven) point gap split the teams with Dean Smith’s team ending it in 9th and Wolves 14th. The moral high ground for Brentford and some consolation for the £250 bet proceeds lost as a result of our being beaten (deservedly so) to that League One title.

So it was sadness that I woke this morning to the news of Kenny Jackett’s departure. Undoubtedly a huge club with big ambitions  – whether new or otherwise – (hello, is that the marketing team?) he has perhaps been an inevitable casualty of failure to make an immediate return to the top flight.

On the other hand, a rare opportunity for lazy headline writers and lazier pun makers. Chin up Kenny, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to go again soon.

No jacket required kenny original

No words required

The one stat that tells the story of the season

3 May

Whilst the majority of the football world were, rightly, congratulating Leicester City and Burnley on their respective Premier League accomplishments last night, over in TW8 there was equal cause for celebration. Not that one time Brentford loan star Jeff Schlupp was now a top flight champion but QPR losing 1-0 against Andre Gray and his team mates means that the Bees end the season as the highest placed London team in the Championship table.

With only one game to play, there’s now an insurmountable five point gap between us and the Loftus Road mob. Fulham aren’t even at the party. Hey, the table doesn’t lie.

London teams table

The ‘as it stands’ table does’t lie

If ever there was an incentive to really go for it on Saturday against Huddersfield then here it is. The chance for Brentford to really stretch out that lead over QPR whilst, at the same time, even overtaking Birmingham City (whose game at Cardiff won’t be the easiest) and snatch 9th position in the final table.

Whatever happens, considering the ups and downs of a campaign that saw us lose players, head coaches and, at one point, games like they were going out of fashion this is a stunning achievement. Perhaps not at Leicester City levels but still not one to be sniffed at. Moreso given how Dean Smith was talking about a relegation battle as recently as March.

I’m not going to pretend Burnley are our new best friends. The memories of the Gray and Tarkowski sales still linger heavily although it would take the most churlish amongst us not to see the joy in the supporter’s eyes when that final whistle blew. It would take the most churlish amongst us not to offer their players – even Joey Barton-  congratulations on a job very well done. It would take the most churlish amongst us not to thank them for putting the final nail in the coffin for any hopes QPR had of overtaking us.

Likewise, we can take some pride in the fact Andre honed his skills and began the  season at Griffin Park. Now he has taken his game to new heights and it will be intriguing to see how he goes in the top flight where, of course, there is further silver lining in the fact that the ‘promotion’ clause in his transfer will now be activated.

Not that the club ever reveal details of transfer fees, of course.

For now though, there’s that all important season ending stat. It may not be up to Luis Melville standards but there’s no denying it:

Brentford are kings of West London Championship football and there’s nothing QPR or Fulham can do about it.

Maybe next season, chaps .

West London football map

Nick Bruzon

Strip tease continues as FA tell Barlow to ‘Take That’

1 Jun

What a Sunday – football just gets better and better. With Brentford releasing another ‘teaser’ image of their shirt over the weekend ahead of Monday’s launch, I feel more confident than ever we are in for a good one. And then, to round off the great news, word is spreading on the internet that Gary Barlow’s ‘Greatest Day’ has been dropped by the FA as the official England song at the forthcoming World Cup.

I’d said my piece on this when the news of the England song’s selection was first announced. You can read it in full, here, although the salient points were:

“Rather than the much touted prospect of Kasabian, fans are to be treated to a cover version of a Take That effort – Greatest Day. Despite the sheer laziness of having Gary Barlow (a man who comes over as so bland he’d probably have England play in beige) re-record his own song, worryingly he is accompanied by a seemingly random selection of other singers.

These include, in no particular order: Emma Bunton, Kimberley out of ‘Girls Aloud’, and ‘Sporty’ Spice Mel C – hey, she likes football and sings so why not? Then we get in to the realms of ‘who’ with the likes of Katy B ( I’m not sure if this is the comedian of ‘Big Ass’ fame) and someone/thing called an Eliza Doolittle (presumably a singer/band the kidz would recognise, rather than the character from ‘My Fair Lady’).

In footballing tradition, the England football team also join in. Except, they don’t. Instead, the sporting contingent (Mel C aside) is made up of ex-Internationals, with everybody from Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and former Brentford player Kenny Sansom participating. I’m not sure why the current squad won’t be appearing on this , probably contractual, but I quite like the thought of Steven Gerrard trying to recreate the John Barnes rap.”

Whoever is picked in Barlow and crew’s place (does anyone have New Order’s phone number) HAS to be better than this, surely?

Just as long as they steer clear of either Robbie Williams – his ‘Let me entertain you’ being the most overplayed, and least appropriate, song in sporting history – or the (alleged) England Supporter’s band, then we should be just fine.

Painful though Barlow’s all-star cast were, the thought of Bernie Clifton and co parping through an off key version of the theme from’ The Great Escape’ might just have me reaching for the ‘off’ button.

There's no room at the (Bernie) Inn for the England Supporter's band

There’s no room at the (Bernie) Inn for the England Supporter’s band

It’s almost here – June promises to be some month

31 May

What a summer awaits. In less than three weeks Brentford fans can start planning those trips to the likes of Fulham, Leeds and even a return to our friends at Wolves as the fixture list is published. By then, of course, the World Cup will have begun.

Despite the kick in the crotch of those standard half-time appearances from both the England Supporter’s band (stick to the ostriches, Clifton) and the disembodied head of Ray Winstone at, I can’t help but feel cheered by last night’s 3-0 home win over Peru. Could England do it in Brazil?

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The website of the self-appointed England band. Sorry, but their moribund parping is not for me.

Whilst blind optimism currently reigns supreme, regardless of how we fare I’ll be hooked into the 24/7 coverage (even the ITV games) – hoping England can upset the odds.

Anything could happen. The last two seasons at Brentford have shown that in even more crushing detail than ever before. It’s football; it’s exciting; it’s unpredictable; its tense; its emotional; it’s the best game on the planet. And with 32 of the World’s finest coming together next month, I’ll be watching.

But until then, Monday is the next big date in the Griffin Park calendar. Finally, we get our first full look at next season’s kit.

The club has, of course, been running a ‘teaser campaign’ this week – revealing little snippets to stoke the interest, ahead of the full unveiling. In addition, chief executive Mark Devlin has been dropping further hints in cyberspace via the medium of social network, twitter.

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A montage (training free) of those ‘sneak peeks’ that have appeared on the club website this week

Aswell as those four pictures that had appeared on the club website during the week ahead of the shirt’s 19th June launch date, ( a fifth launched on Saturday and you can see it, here),  Mark has dropped the intriguing clue that:

“It’s a bespoke design, which you may or may not approve of.”

Of course, we already know it will have stripes on the back and some form of special badge celebrating our 125th anniversary. We can also see evidence of black trim (perhaps reminiscent of the 91-92 promotion shirt); an embroidered Adidas logo and even what seem to be small areas of ‘ventex’ material (teabags to us mere mortals) around the shoulder area.

But the mention of a bespoke kit, rather than something out of the standard Adidas back catalogue, really has piqued my fascination.

I have an over keen interest in the history of the Bees shirt. I won’t deny it. However, even despite what we could politely call my ‘nerdish tendencies’ I’ve got a feeling that the club is going to show us something very special when we finally get to see this on Monday.

Much to Mrs. Bruzon’s despair, there could be another addition in the wardrobe by the time the World Cup starts.

The most bizarre tweet since records began.

27 May

Brentford are up and Rotherham United have joined them. Great news for us and Steve Evans’ ‘Millers’, if not for Leyton Orient.

Whilst there was a lot of banter over the course of the season (and rightly so), now’s the time to sit back and enjoy the moment rather than kicking our rivals when they are down. Indeed, the club seem to have followed the former course of action with a very unusual post on the twitter social network.

There’s nothing wrong with congratulating a fellow promoted team and, from that respect, another good job from Brentford. It was more the peculiar ‘hashtag’ that went with it: #trophyfriends.

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I have no idea what this means or why we would even use it. I’m sorry. Perhaps I’ve had the same charisma bypass that one Bees fanatic would later suggest that Leyton Orient supporter @orientmeatpie had endured. But assuming not (and for that, I guess, you’d need some charisma to begin with), then what is it all about?

Amongst the confused comments and general derision – most from Brentford fans – was the suggestion from Mr. Pie that an ‘Inbetweeners’ moment was imminent.

Well, it’s here if you need one:

 

I know we are all in good humour about promotion but we are, also, a professional football club. I want us to be taken seriously – not laughed at as ‘little Brentford’ now playing with the big boys and using the sort of childish language that you’d find in the playground.

I don’t even know what a ‘trophyfriend’ is supposed to be or why we would consider ourselves one. The last time I looked (and £50 at 12-1 before the season began meant I was watching VERY closely) we didn’t win anything – friends and promotion aside.

And whilst I have had more than my fair share of digs at Russell Slade over the course of the season, I can empathise with the pain that Orient fans are feeling right now. Remember last season? So, unlike some of our fans, I’m not going to have a pop at them for, rightly, laughing at our ridiculous choice of phrase.

Come on fellow Bees, we’re better than that. I can’t imagine this is the image Matthew Benham wants for his club – but then what do I know?

Now? Are we friends?

To me. To you. To the Championship

26 May

So in the end it was Rotherham United, rather than Leyton Orient, who joined Brentford and Wolves in being promoted to the Championship this season.

Few who watched the League One play off final on Sunday could deny it was exciting. Some of the best goals ever to grace the stadium (in her old or new forms), more swings than a child’s play park and that most tense of conclusions – the, so-called, ‘lottery’ of the penalty shootout.

But then few who watched it could, honestly, have picked a winner. Paul, Barry and masked impersonators were seen on the BBC  chuckling all the way to the Championship

Paul, Barry and masked impersonators are chuckling all the way to the Championship

 

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

Shakes fist angrily at footballing gods – a pain I know too well.

25 May

Brentford were denied a return of the 237 derby next season after QPR beat Derby County 1-0 in the play off for the Premiership on Saturday. The footballing gods then rubbed further salt in the wound by making us sit through a display of Champion’s League self-indulgence from Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo that would have made the twerking Miley Cyrus look like the shy and retiring type.

There’s no question he’s talented. But to see him strutting around half naked, like some coked up peacock on steroids, left a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth. You had to feel for Atlético Madrid after coming so, so close in regular time (or, ‘doing a Brentford’, as it felt watching that).

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

Do we have an unforeseen kit clash?

24 May

Somebody call the United Nations.

The marketing chaps at Brentford seem to be turning the reveal of next season’s home shirt into a form of torture that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Spanish Inquisition.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

And the play off winners are….

23 May

This weekend Brentford find out who from Leyton Orient, Rotherham, Derby County and the Loftus Road mob will join them in the Championship next season.

Of course, it’s time for the annual end of season torture session at the W place in North London. Although, for once, Bees fans can watch the play offs with genuine excitement and interest given the impact they have on the forthcoming fixture list.

Will it be a trip to Yorkshire or that short jaunt across London to the shadow of the Olympic Stadium? Likewise, it’s a toss up between Pride Park (scene of August’s 5-0 League cup mauling) or a 237 bus ride to Shepherds Bush.

 

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Leyton Orient – big on motivation. I DO hope they get the chance to celebrate etc etc

 

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.