Tag Archives: Quarter final

Are we all set for a jolly boys (and girls) outing? The quarters are beckoning….

16 Feb

Oh my. The FA Cup fifth round is here. Opportunity is very much knocking. Watford are already through to the quarters after winning 1-0 at Loftus Road last night. Now we’re getting ready for our shot as Brentford fans begin to countdown for Sunday’s trip to Swansea City. There’s plenty to whet the appetite for that one today with Newport County hosting Manchester City and the visit of Millwall to AFC Wimbledon. That’s before you even get to the likes of Doncaster v Crystal Palace or Monday’s final game denouement that had TV producers reaching for the ‘coverage selection’ button the second Chelsea v Manchester United came out of the hat.

We can only start at the Liberty Stadium. On paper, there isn’t much to grab the neutral about the prospect of Swansea City v Brentford. Whilst both clubs and their fans will be viewing it as a wonderful chance to progress, it hardly has the upset potential of Manchester City at Newport County. The follow up story to Wimbledon’s wonderful humiliation of West Ham (winners of the trophy in 1980 and World Cup in 1966) from the previous round. Don’t let that fool you for a second. This one is huge and I can’t wait.

You could hear the collective groan echoing around TW8 and the GPG as the decision was made to move this to a Sunday afternoon, 4pm kick off for the benefit of BBC Wales. I’ve said my piece on that decision already and we just have to move on now.

With the prospect of a rail engineering works ruining it for everyone, the club sprang into action quicker than Neal Maupay running though on goal with the announcement of free coach travel to the game. Along with the reduced ticket prices , it was about as supporter-friendly a gesture as one could get. Consequently, myself and Harry are the ones now re-upholstering the tinfoil trophy that has seen us through the previous rounds. An £11 return trip for two of us, including entrance to the game, a bargain in anybody’s book and the reason The Bees will be there en-masse as the coaches filled up in nano-seconds.

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Who doesn’t love a coach trip ?

It’s not going be easy, that’s for sure. For either team. Only four points separate Brentford and Swansea City in the Championship table. Advantage traditionally favouring the home side as we’ll be running out in that glorious brown and orange. Here’s hoping for a repeat of the performance at Rotherham in that one, rather than a repeat of the performance just about anywhere else on the road whilst wearing this most stylish of shirts.

The good news for those deeming this to be some sort of jinx (honestly, I’ve never heard such nonsense, now where are my lucky pants?) being that we’ll have a new goalkeeper’s shirt making its debut. If what a source close to the club told us plays out, this one promises to have us kit nerds salivating.

The other factor to play more into the hands of Sunday’s eventual result is, of course, our recent form. We’ve only lost once in the last 12 whilst the midweek victory over Aston Villa was just about as comprehensive and stylish a performance as one could ever hope to see. Truly, Brentford were magnificent. Dean Smith left shell-shocked at full time and chuntering all sorts of nonsense about his team ‘deserving it’ (change the record) after Neal Maupay sent the hone fans wild in the 91st minute. Even now, Saturday morning as this is being written, I have a huge grin on my face thinking about that moment.

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This one from Brentford official said it all about Wednesday

Prior to that and, excusing the Forest game, it has been a case of scoring at least three goals a game in the previous five. A streak that coincided with Brentford playing stylish football with confidence and swagger. The ball being moved around the team for fun as we took the old mantra of “Push up, Brentford” to heart. It was a self-belief that was in evidence once more on Wednesday night. Here’s hoping Swansea City get to experience it themselves on Sunday afternoon. 

For sure they’ll be feeling as upbeat as we are. A home draw is the first thing any club hoping to progress would ask for in the later rounds of the FA Cup. Swansea have had that prayer answered  whilst on pitch have had a fairly strong start to 2019, winning five out of their nine games played so far in all competitions. They’ll no doubt fancy this in their own back yard whilst also have the benefit of ‘Mark’ Lawro Lawrenson using his BBC prediction column to back the Bees. Trevor Nelson and DJ Big Zuu (literally no idea – parents, ask a kid) going for the home side.

My main concern with this is Lawro’s assertion that, “I am backing Brentford to stay unbeaten, and get through on penalties.” We all know the nonsense he spouts these days and his presence as a pundit or co-commentator is generally greeted with the same fear felt by a pre-match press room buffet as Ian Moose approaches. But penalties? Seriously? You’ve got to think our name is on the cup if that’s going to happen. Here’s hoping he’s right. You can read that one in full, here.

Otherwise, its going to be a case of trying to make today feel as much like a normal Saturday as possible. I make no apologies for being excited or loving the FA Cup. Perhaps it’s an age thing but this tournament remains, for the supporters, about as exciting as it gets. The nostalgia, the romance, the potential, the shot at glory and even the cliches. 

I saw a quite wonderful tweet from @DeanCornish1966 yesterday about the Newport – Manchester City game, noting that:

ITV news preview on Newport v Man City just included:

2 x ‘The whole town is buzzing’

1 x ‘biggest match in history’

1 x ‘David v Goliath’

3 x ‘unbelievable’

1 x ‘dare to dream’

1 x ‘Gulf in class’

2 x ‘dreams are made of’

1 x ‘stacking shelves’

If ever there was close to a full house in cup upset bingo then here it was. But it’s what makes this trophy so special. Even now. It’s why I’m taking a five year old boy on a marathon coach trip to see if we can equal our furthest ever progression. Or perhaps even go beyond.

I’ve no doubt that when me and H are sitting down this evening to see if Newport can throw a potato skin under the feet of Manchester City (that’s one which ITV missed), the talk will be all about what awaits on Sunday afternoon. 

That, and maybe seeing if we need to add another layer of tinfoil to our replica trophy. 

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We’re all up for the cup

Nick Bruzon

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Roy, walker. Iceland beat abject England. Glenn beats the fans

28 Jun

I’m not nervous. I think we’ll beat them quite easily”. Not my words but those of ITV pundit Lee Dixon before kick off as England took on Iceland last night. Ploughing straight into the book of Glenn Hoddle level punditry he set the scene for what many feared, but few actually believed, might happen. And then it did.

First things first. Well played Iceland. They won and deservedly so. Two well taken goals to England’s one, early, penalty as Roy’s boys fell apart.

We’ve all seen it. You don’t need any form of match report from me. You don’t need any form of analysis as to just how bad things were. How, mediocre England looked throughout the evening and, if we’re being honest, the tournament . A simple inability to pass the ball , shoot on target or break down a resolute defence. A simple inability for our goalkeeper to stop making basic, game changing, errors (not for this first time in Euro 2016). Hey, at least he can handle the pressure of having a flake free scalp.

Delle Alli? Ali from Oz cabs would have done a better job out there (kids, ask your dads) but to single out one person would be unfair. England were just dreadful all round. Parped on by ‘that band’, sounding worse than ever, it was a truly miserable experience. The second half especially.

Iceland wanted it. England assumed they had a god given right to qualify. And that doesn’t win football matches. The final kick in the teeth being Roy reading out his pre-prepared statement to the press just after the game. How did he write it so quickly? Surely he hadn’t written it beforehand? Surely? Why didn’t he take ANY questions afterwards? The least he could do was try to offer some explanation. To give some form of cathartic relief.

But no, in he came, out came the paper, off he walked – resignation shared with the nation. If only there was some form of topical parallel we could draw upon here.

And then there was Glenn Hoddle. The co-commentator has been roundly panned this tournament but it was almost as though he knew Iceland were going to win and, if England were going down, he was taking us with them.

At 1-0 up he endorsed playing it across the back. That worked well. This from the man who declared : Iceland are still stuck in the 80s.

In the second half he noted about the defence  : “There’s always been a suspicion that it has been the weak suit”. Well d’uh.

Late on, despite the clear inability of England to hit a barn door with a banjo he opined how, “We might get a goal from a tap in”.

Seriously? Was he watching the same game? I might win the national lottery, but its not going to happen.

I could go on. It was 90 minutes of non-stop drivel, mirroring what happened on pitch. The crowning glory being his observation that , “They’re little things but they’re big things when it comes to things in the 18 yard box”.

What does that even mean? The sad thing is that , with Roy having walked, the bookies have him at 20-1 to be next England manager. Surely just a comedy bet?

There’s a few days for us all to catch our breath. The quarter final line up is now complete  – Italy being the day’s other winners  – and it looks like a good one.

What a shame England won’t be there but Glenn and co will. Although, on the showing, four our own safety perhaps it’s best things ended there.

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The quarters are intriguing. No England though

Nick Bruzon

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup (quarter final)

27 May

That’s controversial. The Football Association have announced that FA Cup quarter final replays are to be scrapped. Brentford haven’t reached that stage since playing Liverpool in the 1988/89 campaign but this could still have significant impact. And following on from yesterday’s article about the most recent Terrace Talk double bill, we take a quick look at what the next logical step for next season could be.

But first, those changes to the FA Cup. Chief Executive Martin Glenn has been quoted as saying that as part of an ongoing review, this move “adds excitement”.   Whilst the replays will stay in place up to and including round 5, this move is also intended to help ease fixture congestion.

Liverpool v Brentford 2

The Bees haven’t played an FA Cup quarter final since Livepool in 88/89

Of course, we’ve already seen replays in the semis and the final itself disappear in recent years but those are played at a neutral ground. Or Wembley as it has been known since the national stadium was reopened.

And this is what strikes me as odd. You are changing the rules mid-tournament and handing a massive advantage to the home team in this quarter final stage.

The traditionalist in me would love replays to run all the way through to the final but that’s just not going to happen given the already overcrowded calendar.  At least, though, those games take place at a stadium that, travel aside, favours neither team. This is different.

The chance to hold on for the draw and bring them back to your place is gone. And does this mean that in the bid for further fixture review we’ll follow suit in the earlier rounds? Surely it should be all or nothing?

Instead of the ongoing devaluation of our oldest cup competition, if you want to ease fixture congestion then just scrap the Worthless aka League Cup. Most teams use this as an excuse to play the kids anyway – even Brentford who ended up on the wrong end of last season’s 4-0 humbling at home to Oxford United. Three goals down before 8pm (it had been a 7.45 kick off) we got everything we deserved after joining the ranks of those paying lip service to this tournament.

And while we’re at it, semi-finals at Wembley. Just no. No. The final should be a showpiece event. A trip to Wembley should be that rarest of treats and due reward for making the last round. Not a dress rehearsal to maximise revenue for the FA and cause supporters all manner of travel headaches. Villa Park, Hillsborough ,The Emirates and Old Trafford are amongst those which would be more than able to handle an event of this nature and restore some much needed tradition to the tournament.

Ah yes, but apparently Wembley allows the maximum amount of people to see the semis. That’ll be the sound of the woodwork being vacated. And by that logic, play the quarters there too. Hey, what about some plum fourth round ties?

As I say, this will all make little difference to Brentford, anyway. We’ve struggled to get past the 3rd round since that epic, Gary Blissett inspired run took us all the way to Anfield and the 4-0 loss at the hands of all conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads). The odd dalliance with the middle stages aside, from which I’d imagine Gary Breen is still having DJ Campbell inspired nightmares, we’re normally done by the end of January. But you can still live in hope.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 v his beloved Manchester City in the FA cup 4th round

Back to Griffin Park and yesterday’s article focussed on the brilliance of Terrace Talk. Which then got the mind wandering over the course of the day (outside of working hours, if you’re reading boss)  – how do we top it next time out?

First thought was a couple of ‘one-off specials’ . We’ve already talked about a kit launch special but how about a day in the life of Griffin Park? Jo and Sean taking us through the match day routine – from the Griffin Park gates being unlocked int he morning to the floodlights being turned off at the end of the day. All, of course, delivered via their own enthusiastic spin.

How about ‘Terrace Talk on the road’ ? Brentford travel well and it would give those who couldn’t make the game a chance to see things they would, ordinarily, get an insight on.

Or rather than Terrace Talk, could Jo or Sean take things to the next level with Dressing Room Talk ?  Cameras in the changing rooms aren’t a new thing but how good would it be to get the player’s take on Jo’s ‘big question’ before the game and, perhaps, their views on performance at full time.

Could it happen? Who knows? Just as long as those Terrace Talks cameras are back in one form or another then I’ll be a happy man.

Jo Tilley Terrace Talk

Will Jo do the ‘walk and talk’ next season?

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Thanks for reading.

 

Finally. Some positive ‘off field’ news.

18 Aug

Watching Bournemouth going down 1-0 to Liverpool at Anfield last night, the nagging thought was, “That could have been us”. Not in the losing part – Brentford have got four points from six this season – but in general Premiership participation. Whilst Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich City fully deserve their chance to take on the likes of Liverpool as part of the regular campaign, it was yet another reminder of how close we came last season.

Good luck to them. Seriously. Eddie Howe’s team game a very good account of themselves although if I hear the phrases ‘offside’ and ‘controversial’ again it will already be too soon. But, equally, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of admiration for last season’s rivals at the reward for their success – a chance to mix it with the, so called, ‘elite’ of English football and have their games beamed all round the world. This, despite the inconvenience to fans of Monday night fixtures rather than the traditional Saturday afternoon.

The Bees haven't played at Livepool since the FA Cup 6th round in 88/89

The Bees haven’t played at Livepool since the FA Cup 6th round in 88/89

However, there’s no point Brentford fans wishing life away on ‘if onlys’. We had our chance but couldn’t, quite, take it. Let’s move on and use it as the inspiration to go one better this time around.

The good news is that despite the horrendous slew of injuries we have suffered and the worst playing surface since, well, ever (I’ve seen better pitches on Dragon’s Den) the Bees have had an unbeaten start and lie third in the early season table. To put that in West London terms, we are three points clear, already, of both Fulham and the Loftus Road mob. Whilst the league is a marathon, not a sprint I’d rather start the campaign ahead of our rivals than behind them.

It’s a crying shame tonight’s game at home to Birmingham City has had to be postponed due to the aforementioned pitch. Momentum has been killed stone dead and it gives the other teams a chance to steal a march on us. Much like the aforementioned marathon analogy, I’ve always said that “points in the bag are better than games in hand” (just about the only two football clichés that are worth their salt) but with James Tarkowski being the latest addition to the casualty list after suffering that facial injury on Saturday, could this delay be a blessing in disguise?

Tarks suffered a blow to his nose

Tarks suffered a blow to his nose

Likewise, it gives new right back Maxime Colin extra time to bed in with his new team mates although then, of course, presents Marinus with a (nice) problem for Saturday’s trip to Burnley – does Alan McCormack make way for the new boy from Anderlecht?

Questions, questions, questions and, ultimately, not worth getting overly hung up about. The pitch is spannered, the game is off and there’s nothing else we can do about it except wait for the weekend.

The other selection poser Marinus may well be considering is that of Sam Saunders. The fan favourite played 70 (seventy) minutes of the development squad game on Monday, bagging a goal in the process. Could we see a return, even on the bench, for the perma tanned wing wizard?

As ever, Twitter was the place to be for the up to the minute news on that one. Along with the club breaking the news of his participation and sharing the latest action, Sam later responded to the question, “Could Turf Moor be Saunders Territory?”, with the update ”very much hoping so, hopefully have a good weeks training and let’s see

You don’t need to be a genius to be aware of the effect Sam has on the team and the fans. His enthusiasm and ability are second to none – the Boxing Day game at home to Ipswich Town bring a prime example of what he can bring to the side.

Whilst places shouldn’t be given based on former glories (as Jonathan Douglas discovered) I’d love to see Sam back in the team on merit.

We’ve had a bright start to the league campaign.Could our enforced rest tonight actually help it get even better?

Sam lasted over an hour on Monday afternoon

Sam lasted over an hour on Monday afternoon

Could we celebrate like we’ve won the FA Cup (fifth round)?

17 Mar

It’s all to play for on Tuesday night as Brentford have another fine chance to close the gap on the Championship leaders at Blackburn Rovers. With Derby County hosting Middlesbrough something has to give above us whilst Bournemouth and Watford face tricky trips to Wigan Athletic and Cardiff City respectively.

Of course, just as on Saturday other results won’t count for much if we can’t do our thing at Ewood Park but I have a feeling this one will be different. The BBC report that Blackburn have been hit by several injuries following their own weekend exertions whilst, with last night’s other FA cup replay fresh in the mind, can the Rovers team honestly say that prospect of a trip to Wembley won’t be any form of distraction?

Wishful thinking or blind optimism? Probably the former yet, with only nine games to go and the Bees with an excellent chance of promotion, I’m reading every potential positive from every game. Equally, though, it could just be own skewed line of logic and football, association.

Bliss - goals as fine as his moustache

Bliss – goals as fine as his moustache

I can’t hear the words Blackburn Rovers without immediately thinking of Gary Blissett performing his heroics back in 1989. Just as the goal scoring legend’s brace had helped knock his beloved Manchester City out of the tournament in the fourth round at Griffin Park, more was to follow in the next game.

Few gave The Bees a chance as a club issue ‘football special’ train from Ealing Broadway helped take us to a very industrial looking, pre-redevelopment, stadium. It was certainly a ground full of character rather than today’s sterile efforts whilst being escorted through town by the local constabulary hardly helped set the mood as a welcoming one.

Still, nobody was out to win friends with the visiting fans, especially in the late eighties, so it just made what happened next all the sweeter. Two late goals from Bliss, almost carbon copies if I recall correctly (highlights were somewhat thin on the ground back then) sent the Bees into the quarter finals and, to coin a phrase that Tony Gubba would use in the following round, our fans into dreamland.

Video evidence of the 2-0 win at Ewood Park is thin on the ground

 

Listening this evening, I’ll no doubt have a nostalgic thought about that game once more. Yet, equally, there is a chance for one of our own to carve his name into legend. Three points for Brentford will give the promotion push a massive boost and mean that, perhaps, it isn’t just Bliss who we think of when it comes to significant wins at Blackburn.

We’ve already beaten Rovers this season with a fine 3-1 win at Griffin Park. Another one tonight would be a double to rival those of the mustachioed goal machine.

Rovers can worry about the FA Cup. We’ve got a promotion to aim for

Blackburn got four chances to practice their kick off routine back in December

Blackburn got four chances to practice their kick off routine back in December

 

What does it mean for us as Uwe’s new Groover’s blow Blues away?

9 Mar

Hull City AFC v Sheffield United and Wigan v Arsenal.

Even though Brentford fans know all about the Rösler effect in the FA Cup (last season The Bees came within a whisker of humiliating Chelsea at Griffin Park) would anybody have honestly predicted that as semi final line up?

Wigan’s defeat of a Manchester City team chasing an unprecedented domestic treble – regardless of their faltering progression in the Champion’s League – is not to be underestimated. Moreso, as they did it on City’s home pitch.

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.