Tag Archives: red

Newcastle United share a pain that Brentford know so well as Keith does his thing once more.

6 Apr

Keith Stroud. A name to strike fear into football fans up and down the land has done it again. Of course, at Brentford we are well aware of the card happy man in black’s past form. Now Championship table toppers Newcastle United are the latest club to fall foul of his obsession with random decision making in last night’s game with Burton Albion.

Who could forget the infamous battle of Bramall Lane? Rather than a League One promotion shootout between the Bees and Sheffield United, it was another game that turned into the Stroud show. “The maddest game of football that ever existed” said Mark Burridge after that one as it finished with three red cards shown, four penalties awarded and 12 players booked (8 alone in the first half). That the Bees came out of it with a point,despite playing most of the second half with 9 men, was more down to our own character than any protection from the referee.

It was a game which, to the casual observer, would suggest one akin to the titular battle. In reality it was nowhere close to that, with the hardest fought contest being that between Stroud’s ego and the frustration of both sets of supporters.

Whilst he’s never topped that moment in Sheffield, his name is one that still brings an almost audible wince of negativity (should such a thing be possible) whenever he is announced as a referee for a forthcoming game. His card ratio alone is, season on season, higher than just about any other official to take charge at Griffin Park . The current campaign has seen him show an incredible 171 yellows and sent off 12 players during his 39 games officiated. Only Uber have more bookings than Stroud, it seems.

Then, last night happened. With Newcastle United hosting Burton Albion in a league fixture (a phrase in itself which bears more than a moment’s consideration) they were awarded a penalty. With Matt Ritchie subsequently finding the back of the net for 1-0, Stroud struck. Social media went into meltdown as , for reasons unknown, rather than declaring the goal he chalked it off and gave a free kick to Burton.

This was later revealed to be for what Mr Stroud considered encroachment into the box by Dwight Gayle. Whilst the rules of the game dictate that the spot kick should be retaken in such a circumstance, Keith’s head and the rules of the game are not things that always see eye to eye,

Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake,” said a referee’s spokesman afterwards. Hmmm. Sorry about that folks. Imagine the furore had things then turned out differently to the eventual 1-0 home win for Newcastle?

I do feel sorry for Keith in many ways. To give credit, his recent performances officiating for Brentford have, by and large, been relatively restrained with no real controversy. He even changed his mind in our favour upon the advice of an assistant during the recent reverse at home to Wolves.  So we know he can do it. Unfortunately, there are so many games that see the other side of Keith.

The flamboyant flourish of a red card. The turning his back on a player he has just admonished. The random bookings and decisions offered out at a level not seen since Uriah Rennie. Yet he has been allowed to continue unchecked. Nobody has had a word and, instead, he has become almost a cult character. But for the wrong reasons.

People now expect bookings and oddity when Keith is in charge. People go into the game on edge. When he has a good one there’s a sense of relief more than a sense of pride. Season on season his statistics speak for themselves but no real action is taken to reign him in. Football isn’t that consistently dirty a game, except in Keith’s head.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

Equally though, last night bears additional scrutiny. This was no heat of the moment decision. This wasn’t a foul that needed to be replayed in the head. It was a basic rule of football that he got backwards in the most glaring of styles. But what about his assistants? Was no support given ? No advice offered? Or was this a case where Keith’s rule was law?

Let’s be clear, I’d hate to be a referee. Balls of steel and skin as thick as rhino’s are the pre-requisites. With players, journalists and fans all thinking they know better the ref is only ever on a hiding to nothing. He clearly loves what he does although, whilst I’d hate to see any serious sanction as a result, that’s no justification for allowing anyone to run around unchecked.

Will Keith ever change? Unlikely. Will the FA do anything? Expect a week’s demotion to the lower leagues and then business as usual.

Yet, out of all this, Keith may wake up this morning and look himself in the mirror. You never know. Perhaps this will be the catalyst that triggers some self-reflection and a reigning in of Keith the card.

We know he can do it. We’ve all seen him have good games. Why not just go back to being the anonymous man in the middle rather than the reputational nightmare he has allowed himself to become.

Can a leopard change his spots? You never know.

 

Nick Bruzon

Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

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View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

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Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

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Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon

Harlee’s the man as Scott and Romaine bisect Burton.

11 Dec

Brentford 2 Burton Albion 1 . It is a scoreline which, as ever, doesn’t even come close to telling the story of a game that the Bees could have won by more, probably should have won by more, but were ultimately grateful to end up wth three points in the back pocket and 11 players on the pitch.

Referee David Coote, a man Brentford fans may recall from last season when he incorrectly ruled out Jota’s winning goal at Fulham (for apparent offside) was at it again. A display that showed all the authority and decision making ability of White Star Line when they declared the Titanic seaworthy, even ‘official’ noted in their match report that his “Decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion”.

And in a bizarre moment of handbags in injury time, his presence was almost perfunctory as he allowed the incident to escalate to a situation where any of several players, from either side, could have seen ‘red’ . Bees captain Harlee Dean stepping up to a situation where he was eventually surrounded by several irate Albion players whilst their goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin went at Romaine Sawyers like a drunken Morris dancer.

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View from the Braemar – Albion seemed agitated

Ah yes, Romaine Sawyers. What a performance from that man. No wonder the opposition were upset. His through ball to release Scott Hogan for the opening goal was quite, quite delicious. If ever you want to see perfection in a pass then here it was. The midfielder taking half the Burton team out of the game with one, exquisitely timed ball that split the defence as cleanly as a if he’d taken an axe to a watermelon.

That Scott Hogan then finished with as cool a finish as we’ve come to expect was almost secondary. Such is the talent of the man and the expectation that surrounds him whenever he gets those runs right, most of Griffin Park (official attendance 9,035 – hmmmm – was somebody counting season tickets?) was already on its feet as he stroked the ball past Mclaughlin.

Even more incredibly, the goal came from a short corner. This is not a drill. I repeat. This is not a drill. Even more incredibly, the goal came from a short corner.

It was a case of same again later in the half as Sawyers repeated his earlier trick. Hogan ran on to it once more, only to see his wonderful lob beat the ‘keeper but bounce back off the post, with the crowd already cheering a second goal.

It would have been a strike to restore our lead as in between, we’d conspired to let Burton back into the game. Instead of turning the screw and taking one of several other chances (see also: Birmingham City), sloppy defending gave the visitors an early Christmas present. Despite our three centre backs, the marking was nothing shy of ‘schoolboy’.

Jamie Ward received a cut back from the touchline and, with nobody in about ten yards of him, was allowed to stroke it home from the edge of the box. Even then, it was shot which the normally reliant Daniel Bentley may feel disappointed to have let squirm over the line.

That said, one couldn’t help but smile at the noise from the director’s box when it went in. Such was the jubilation amongst the visiting dignitaries, who must be enjoying Championship life to the max. Here’s hoping they can continue a journey which, like Brentford, is nothing but wonderful. Who doesn’t like seeing a traditional ‘smaller’ club now given the chance to play with the big boys yet more than holding their own?

1-1 at half time and the visitors still very much in it. Parity didn’t last long though. That man Scott Hogan, again, finding the back of the net from a tight angle 7 (seven) minutes into the half as the rain began to fall.

But if that was skilful, his hat-trick goal was out of this world with yet another beautifully timed run, this time onto a long hoof out of defence. He sprung the offside trap perfectly, left former Bee John Mousinho floundering and rounded McLaughlin to make it 3-1.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Referee Coote deciding that somehow the goal machine had caused Mousinho to fall flat on his backside as the two raced for the long ball. It was a ridiculous decision and one which could have cost the Bees dear. It looked bad live but having watched the highlights c/o Sky (a version of which are also now available on BeesPlayer – below) I’m still not clear as to just what is alleged to have happened.

Oh, for the dulcet tones of Mark Burridge

Instead, we held on with Lasse Vibe and substitute Tom Field (how good to see him back on) also having very good chances late on. And with the dust finally settling on the aforementioned handbags (supporters at least grateful that it was Coote rather than than Stroud in the middle) that was it. Three points for the Bees and a job well done.

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Turner’s pants as visible as his temper during the ‘handbags’

It wasn’t a classic performance but it was a win. Romaine Sawyers gave a quite magnificent two fingers up to the critics (metaphorically so) whilst Scott Hogan continues to astound. That said,  The Bees really should have put the game well out of sight whilst one wonders just what on earth Dean Smith would do without his talismanic striker.

Aswell as paying due credit to Romaine Sawyers, Harlee took to twitter to acknowledge the prowess of the big man up front. When even the club captain is saying this, the message is loud and clear.

Here’s hoping Mr Benham, our co-directors of football and Dean are taking note. It could be a long , painful January otherwise.

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Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad, and the ugly. Bees thumped, Newcastle and Preston see red whilst Jose should be worried. A week in football.

5 Dec

Brentford were spanked 5-0 by Norwich City whilst at the top of the table Newcastle United made it two defeats in a row as Nottingham Forest ran out 2-1 winners. Fellow Championship newcomers Aston Villas also lost, 2-0 at high flying Leeds United, although The Magpies remain six points clear of third placed Reading who also went down 5-0, to Fulham of all teams. Brighton failed to take advantage, a 0-0 draw at Cardiff perhaps a case of two points dropped as the Bluebirds, along with Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic, all remain in the bottom three. With only three teams (Burton Albion, Wolves and Blackburn) between us and that unenviable triumvirate), our own game on Saturday with the Brewers is one of huge psychological importance .

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

Whilst normally we’d start with Brentford, it is a week which has been dominated by the tragic news about Chapecoense. One can’t begin to even imagine what the families of those involved or the supporters of the club are going through with some truly heartbreaking images coming out of Brail. Yet it has transcended even that, with the whole of the footballing world coming together to offer condolence and make whatever gesture they can. Domestic games at the weekend were preceded by a minute’s silence as fans paid tribute to a team that should have been celebrating one of the proudest moments in their existence.

There’s nothing can be said to change how distraught and raw everybody feels. Football is our game – the most popular sport on the planet. We’ve all played it and all had dreams of lifting the cup high into the air. For the vast majority of us, dreams that have gone unfulfilled yet there’s always that thought at the back of the mind. So when something as unexpected and awful as this happens, it really puts everything back into perspective. Social media has been awash with images and tributes whilst mere words can’t even begin to offer any form of solace. Our hearts go out to everybody impacted by this terrible news.

Whilst whatever came next felt somewhat secondary, back in England football continued. As such, our own first stop on the domestic catch up can only be Brentford, where the game at Norwich was one of those which will go down in Bees related infamy. Did one of the senior players swear at the fans as is alleged to have happened (I guess, if so, it would have been labelled ‘passion’ in certain quarters) , why did Dean Smith’s team fail so spectacularly and if we’d been in a ‘blip’ previously, how does he now define our situation?  Certainly, that latter point one which had been hammered home prior to the game.

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Brentford official seemed to be watching the game through rose tinted glasses. ‘A bad afternoon’ being perhaps the understatement of the decade whilst the next day’s video ‘highlights’ ( I’d take exception to that word alone) enraging more than just Bernard Quackenbush.

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Still, things could have been worse. At least we ended the game with 11 players (I mean men. I mean boys) on the pitch. This, an experience enjoyed by neither Preston or Newcastle United. The former having two players dismissed for fighting with each other.

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As for Newcastle United, referee Steve Martin has now brought down the wrath of the Geordie faithful upon himself after showing two red cards in Friday night’s defeat at Nottingham Forest. Except, he hasn’t. Quite A very confused Steve Martin (the comedian of, amongst others,  Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Three Amigos fame) was bombarded with tweets from Newcastle supporters angry at his decision to reduce them to 9 men.

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Elsewhere, a very familiar line was trotted out in regards to Forest’s victory .

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And in our footnote on the Championship for this week, a shout out to Leeds United where supporters were given unintentional comedy gold c/o the match day programme.

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England appointed a new manager in Gareth Southgate. Thankfully, former Brentford boss Terry Butcher was on hand to give his own brand of analysis on that one.

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BBC Billy Reeves is filling his time before a return to match action well. This week, he turned detective to rat out former DJ David ‘Kid’ Jensen.

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Sunday saw more Premier League action, with Bournemouth recording that incredible 4-3 win over a Liverpool team whose lurid yellow kit was the only thing worse than their  capitulation.

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But at least they are well placed in second. Things continue to go from bad to worse for Manchester United. In what seems to be a weekly visit for them to these pages, Leighton Baines grabbed an 89th minute equaliser for Everton as Jose Mourinho’s team emulated Liverpool’s late collapse.

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For all his bluster, Jose might be starting to get worried. His Manchester United points record not one to inspire confidence at present.

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North of the border, there was an early Christmas present for everybody’s favourite mascot that isn’t Buzzette, Patrick Thistle’s Kingsley.

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But we’ll end in the now usual place. Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

This week: George Graham.

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Nick Bruzon

Book ’em, Danno. Not today. But if anybody knows where we can get a pizza…?

18 Sep

Well wasn’t that the game that had it all? A 5-0 win for Brentford. Visitors Preston ending the game with just 10 men on the pitch yet, for once, this wasn’t the fault of referee Keith Stroud. A hat-trick for Scott Hogan, taking him to 13 goals in 12 Championship games. Another clean sheet and the Bees into the play off zone. A current goal difference of +8 now only bettered by Newcastle United of all our league rivals.

Yet the final score of 5-0 wasn’t as apparent as it might have seemed at one point. Preston more than matched Brentford team who were, perhaps, suffering some tired legs following Wednesday night’s exertions at Aston Villa. Likewise, I’d imagine the first team didn’t get back to Griffin Park until Thursday – whether due to an overnight stay or simply the horrendous gridlock caused by the M6 closure that blighted just about every road user.

Yet, as seems to be the theme these days, it was Scott Hogan who gave us the lead and Dan Bentley who was on hand to keep the visitors at bay. Hogan’s first goal, seeing the striker run onto a wonderful ball from Romaine Sawyers (having his best game in a Brentford shirt) that split the Preston defence and left him clear to cut in from the left and slide it under the advancing ‘keeper.

1-0 at half time and Brentford just about deserving of a lead. Yet after a somewhat staid start to the second half (in which Bentley was the busier ‘keeper and made one absolute stunning save – check that beauty out on the highlights reel) things suddenly accelerated.

Scott and Dan grab the headlines but Romaine and Harlee also shone

Harlee Dean made it 2-0, drilling home from a long corner with, perhaps, the help of a slight deflection. It was a goal that prompted exuberant celebrations and no more so than from ‘man with the mic’ Peter Gilham. His announcement for goal sponsors Siracusa stopping just short of reading out the Italian restaurant on Brentford Lock’s phone number.

And then it all went bonkers. With Preston having made all their substitutions, injury to Marnick Vermijl meant it was 10 against 11 or, in real terms, boys against men .

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View of the terrace. The pressure builds in front of a packed home end

It’s often said that it is harder to play agasint 10 men than 11. A cliche trotted out when a red card is administered and the impacted team have to try and contain the opposition. I’ve never understood why having a man advantage isn’t seen as more of an, erm, advantage. Well this time it was.

Three goals followed in a three minute spell. Hogan running on to a suicidal back header to make it 3-0 on 84 minutes before substitute Josh Clarke did all but get the fourth on 85. His cross into the box turned in by Chris Humphrey although, at least, Peter Gilham gave the youngster credit as “The last Brentford player to touch the ball”.

But it was the fifth, just moments later, that earned the match ball for Hogan and the biggest cheer form the Griffin Park crowd. Again, it was Sayers involved. The midfielder delivering a beautiful through ball that, along with a neat touch from Josh McEachran, sliced open the Preston defence as easily as a diner cutting through a freshly prepared pizza, served direct from a wood fire oven.

The crowd went crazy. Peter Gilham went that close to reading out the dessert choices. The whiff of brackets was in the air.

Whilst 7(seven) would, perhaps, have been pushing the boundaries of expectation, who wasn’t ecstatic with a 5-0 humping? Chairman Cliff Crown was in buoyant form at full time, talking to all and sundry outside The Griffin for a good hour at least.

The other shock of the day was Keith Stroud. I can only imagine what the odds on more goals than bookings would have ben before kick off? Yet the notorious man in the middle was in as good form before kick off as our chairman had been at full time, stopping to talk to supporters after performing a somewhat elaborate warm up routine that was part Jane Fonda, part line dance.

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Keith leads the line. Dance

And the game itself saw just two yellows shown. His lowest total all season. That said, the second was delivered with his customary ‘flourish and turn’ delivery. Infuriating to receive; wonderful when given to the opposition. As one Braemar Road resident noted, “He’s like a footballing equivalent of cricket’s Steve Bucknor” – the arm is raised in one, fluid movement and no amount of imploring will change the decision.

Actually, fair play to Keith. He had a very good game. The only people left disappointed were those who had taken part in Kitman Bob’s pre-match game. “Stop letting the game flow” noted one observer. Part tongue in cheek, part hoping for a chance to win that Emmanuel Ledesma shirt.

The only real down side was our own Big Bee Radio not being nimble fingered enough to play the theme tune to Hawaii-5-0 on the way out. Instead,

For once, this kit nerd would have been happy if Keith had taken note.

On a day that saw Beeplayers co-commentator Marcus Gayle make it three wins from three  when sitting along side Mark Burridge (who one can only presume now has the big man handcuffed to a radiator – metaphorically speaking), these weren’t the only omens falling into place. Last season’s black ‘third’ top is the current ‘lucky shirt’  whilst my own son is still to see us lose. In three seasons.

Testament to his own talismanic quality or simply a sign of how hard a place Griffin Park is to visit for our Championship rivals ? As we saw on Wednesday at Aston Villa, the old girl is definitely at the other end of the palatial spectrum yet it is something which very much plays to our advantage.

Next up at home are Reading, next Tuesday. Until then its a trip to Wolves on Saturday. No doubt buoyed by their own win at Newcastle United yesterday, it promises to be a corker.

I can’t wait.

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How many goals did we score?

Nick Bruzon

 

Can a leopard change his spots as Preston visit?

17 Sep

Saturday morning, TW8. The torrential downpour of Friday is but a fleeting memory as Brentford await the visit of Preston North End. Instead it is the memory of Wednesday night at Aston Villa and a wonderfully hard fought point in a game that we can count ourselves hugely unlucky not to have won by the end, which is just one of many motivating factors today.

Villa Park was wonderful. An incredible stadium and a great experience although at the end of the day (Clive) it has been and gone. The tickets are now residing in the stub collection (should anybody own such a thing) ; the half and half scarves at the back of the wardrobe. Or, preferably, a bonfire. Whilst we may get another chance to play them next season for now it is all about Preston.

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Bees fans celebrate the equaliser at Villa Park

The stadium holds it’s collective breath. The penalty taker has been chosen and the ball placed on the spot. With the scores locked at 0-0, Brentford supporters know that if this spot kick goes in, promotion to the Championship is as good as ours. Teeth are gritted, fingers crossed and buttocks clenched. One terrace wag turns around and looks at the faces of the fans behind him, such is the tension and, more importantly, his own penalty based idiosyncrasy (that’s not me, btw) .

Boooomm. Noooo!!! He’s hit the crossbar and they’ve now gone down the other end to steal the title .

Sorry. Wrong season. I mean, Yessss!!! He’s done it. On loan (as he was then) Alan Judge buried his first half effort from 12 yards to give the Bees a 1-0 lead in a game against Preston the following campaign that, thanks to other results, saw us go up to the Championship behind Wolves.

Such was the difference in climax compared to what had happened less than 12 months earlier against Doncaster that the only real breatholding was when the realisation dawned that our post match pitch invasion had been somewhat premature. Rotherham were doing their level best to haul themselves back into a seemingly lost cause at Molineux but, in the end, it was too late. We’d done it.

We all know what happened. Alan even missed a second penalty that day as the Preston support, fully spruced up for their annual ‘gentry day’ helped us celebrate long into the night.

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Some people are on the pitch – what a denouement to that Preston game

Yet, like the Aston Villa game, that is now another memory and marvellous though it is to wallow in it once more, focus on the task at hand is very much the order of the day.

Having lost their opening three games on the spin, Preston have now started to find their feet. Whilst beating QPR is no big thing these days (just ask Newcastle) their most recent outing saw another win with a stonking 3-0 defeat of Cardiff City.  Even the previous game,  defeat at Barnsley, saw manager Simon Grayson enthusing about the positives in his team’s performance.

The point being, underestimate Preston and their 19th place at your peril. If nothing else, the table is still three games away from officially ’taking shape’ . 10 games being the place when that benchmark of form is reached and, of course, we are now 7(seven) games into the campaign.

The next point of focus is the man in the middle. Few names inspire fear like Keith Stroud. The booking happy official really set himself apart in the game at Sheffield United back in April 2013 and has been flourishing the cards ever since.

And nothing has changed since. In the 10 games he has officiated this season, 48 yellows and 4 reds have already been produced from Mr Stroud’s pocket.

One can only hope that, in a season which has already seen referees taking a much harder line on could and a much dimmer view on petulance, pulling and diving, our boys can keep their focus. My online bookmaker isn’t even offering odds on a red card today. This, when I checked for research purposes.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

And then, of course, is the question of who Dean Smith picks to start this one. With the players having had one day’s less prep time than normal (it still feels so odd playing on a Wednesday) and the midfield looking a touch jaded at times agasint Villa, could changes be imminent? Or have Dean’s favoured XI recharged their batteries for another chance to reward his faith in them ?

Will Lasse Vibe start? What about Sullay Kaikai? The persistence and continued application of the Bees by the end of the Aston Villa game was clear for all to see.

Have these two subs done sufficiently to help tip the balance and, perhaps, give what must be some very tired legs a bit of a break? Likewise, could Dean make more changes to his midfield or is it just a game away from fully ‘clicking’? Decision, decisions.

The flip side to all of this is that I understand Marcus Gayle, will be in the Beesplayer commentary box this afternoon. Or, should I say, on the recently enlarged gantry where Mark Burridge and team will be based from today.

What’s so important about Marcus’s commentating skills, you may ask? Well, aside from being an absolute legend in his own lunchbox, sorry lunchtime, his form alongside Mark mirrors his success on the pitch bad. Two co-commentaries and two victories is as good a record as you could hope for.

Should we make it three in row today, I can only imagine Beesplayer listeners will be calling for Marcus to be made a regular fixture.

Marcus v Keith. Dean v Simon. Brentford v Preston. Who will come out on top? There’s only one place to find out. 3pm, Griffin Park.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? The big game awaits.

10 Sep

Saturday football is back. With most sports pages devoted to the incessant wittering on about if Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will have a glass of wine together (although whether this is before, during or after the Manchester United – Manchester City game remains unclear) you’d be forgiven for thinking nobody else was in action today. But, of course, the really big one is down on the South Coast where Brentford head to Brighton hoping to pick up where we left off against Sheffield Wednesday. Albeit without the injury time equaliser or open goal chances being served up on a plate.

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Today’s the day

Indeed, the ever erudite Billy Reeves has noted in his BBC preview that, “Dan Bentley has made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the Championship this season, which either suggests he was a smart purchase for Bees or their defence is a bit leaky.” This, an observation which he’s not alone in picking up on i.e. that whilst Dan is clearly a force to be reckoned with and a player wth the potential to go all the way, has nobody twigged that there has to be a cause to his being pressed into action so frequently?

Personally, I’m not too phased. We’re just five games into a new season with 7(seven) points on the board already.  Likewise, we have the likes of Andreas Bjelland, Yoann Barbet and, of course, Rico Henry to find their way into this defence. Indeed, if anything it is probably a holding midfielder role that is as key a position as the four men sitting in front of Dan Bentley.

Give it five more matches and we’ll be much better placed to make a call as to whether this team is a footballing colander or has found it’s feet following the summer reshuffle.  Ten games in is always the watermark for the table being deemed to have ‘taken shape’ and sides knowing whether, in the majority of cases, they’ll be an all conquering Manchester City or a hapless Manchester United (certainly, based on recent seasons).

Along with today’s trip to Brighton, those next four see us visiting Aston Villa and Wolves along with home games against both Preston and Reading. Certainly, a cross section of famous names and tough opponents. On paper.

Reading leapfrogged both us and Brighton last night following their last gasp win over Ipswich Town. The three points that came with Danny Williams’ 95th minute penalty propelling the Royals from behind the Bees up to third place in the embryonic league table. I’d love to be higher up than lower down but things are just too tight to get overly excited about at the moment. The most important thing being to pick up the wins and let the others worry about themselves for now.

And our attempt to do so will, surely, see a start for Crystal Palace winger Sullay Kaikai. Whilst too early to determine if he will be officially be deemed ’starlet’ ( a term so beloved of our local press for young loanees who are any good – see also : Spanish starlet Sergi Canos) he comes to Griffin Park with a great reputation from the Palace faithful and bags of potential.

Lasse Vibe is, of course, unavailable following his red card against Sheffield Wednesday and so common sense dictates that surely a straight swap is the inevitable next step? Or could Dean Smith have a card up his sleeve and be looking at a bit of a wider reaching reshuffle? Certainly, with two weeks to work on it then perhaps some of his bench players may feature. The likes of Sam Saunders and, especially, Konstantin Kerschbaumer (given how he ended last season) must be chomping at the bit for a start.

If nothing else, it’s playing havoc with the BBGiveaway. Kitman Bob went early, putting up the ever popular competition last night. Sam Saunders or Sullay Kaikai on 7(seven) minutes? Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? It’s tough enough being a supporter.

Still, if that’s all we’ve got to worry about it promises to be a great day. You can keep your Manchester derby on TV. There’s no finer way to spend a Saturday than following the Bees on the road when time, and green cards, permit (please note: I wear the trousers in my house and, obviously, could go to every away game. If I chose to. Honestly). Having missed out on Huddersfield and Rotherham this will be a first chance for many of us, myself included, to see how we travel this season.

And I can’t wait. See you at the Amex.

Jon Toral v Brighton

Brentford make their third Championship visit to the Amex

Nick Bruzon

Bees snatch draw from the jaws of unlikely victory

28 Aug

That’s five games against Sheffield Wednesday since Brentford ascended to the Championship and still the Bees are to record anything more than a draw against the Owls. Yet we’ll never have a better chance than yesterday after entering injury time 1-0 up despite having spent huge swathes of the game under the cosh, survived wave after wave of pressure and seen some glaring misses.

With Wednesday fans already calling the police to report the proverbial robbery, Sam Hutchinson stole in to grab a late, late headed equaliser from an injury time free kick. On chances created by the visitors it was probably a deserved result but chances count for jack if you don’t put them away. Instead, it was Brentford who ended the game feeling bitter disappointment after coming so close to making it three wins from three games at Griffin Park with no goals conceded.

The first half was woeful from the Bees. No question. Even Dean Smith was honest enough in his post match assessment to admit, “We were very, very poor…. If somebody had offered me a point at half-time I would have ripped their hands off, but we are disappointed to concede so late in the game.

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View from the New Road – the memo about managerial uniform had been received

Highlight of the first half was the incredible miss by Lucas João. Just yards out and unmarked in front of the goal, the back of the net was at his mercy as a Fernando Foristieri pass found its way past Brentford goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. If ever you needed the dictionary definition of open goal then this was it. Yet, somehow, after making a couple of stabs at the ball the Wednesday striker somehow managed to hoof it clear of the bar.

One Ealing Road observer, standing directly behind the goal, would later remark that he was going back to Church because the Virgin birth was more believable than that miss. It was THAT bad.

If the Wednesday fans would end the game feeling as though they were being robbed, this was a case of Brentford very much getting away with murder. Defensively speaking. Strigiformicide?

Yet the Bees had to thank Bentley as much as João for keeping us in the game. A series of fine saves, including one stunner from a Nico Yennaris header, ensured we ended the first half level. And from there, things changed.

Lasse Vibe showed just how important it is to follow up on a backpass. Wednesday ‘keeper Kieren Westwood had been put under unnecessary pressure by his own defence fannying around in the sunshine instead of clearing it forward. The subsequent hurried clearance he was forced to make was charged down by the great Dane and bounced straight back into the net to give the Bees the lead.

It was a goal neither knew too much about but, at the same time, a reward for putting in that run at the ‘keeper. So often a futile move yet one which can pay off every now and again. Likewise, it heralded a return of everybody’s favourite chant.  “It’s all your fault, It’s aaallll yourrr fault” ringing around the home end.

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The second half saw us outmuscle our opponents more

With the game adopting a more even feel, and Wednesday then reduced to ten men following a second yellow card to David Jones (for dissent), surely there would be only one winner? Surely….

But no. Brentford seemed content to keep their somewhat unwieldy shape and rather than press for the winner, sit on the lead. This is never a great strategy, moreso with the Bees also down to ten men late on. Lasse Vibe being the recipient of refereeing justice after a somewhat innocuous coming together with Foristieri saw the Brentford man receive his second yellow with just minutes left on the clock.

With Wednesday having nothing to lose they went for it. And this time Hutchinson’s header, and a point, was their reward as the game ended 1-1.

Ryan Woods and Dan Bentley again provided the highlights for Brentford. The former was everywhere whilst our new goalkeeper has, once more, shown just why so many teams were after him in the summer. His performance was one that Sky Sports would describe as “A succession of breathtaking saves.” The highlights package shows just how well he did. Along with that miss.

Mark Burridge works more magic on the mic

Dean Smith appears to have have adopted a total reverse of substitution philosophy compared to previous seasons. In days gone by, three changes made in the 60 -70 minute ‘zone’ were a footballing routine as predictable as Arsene Wenger subsequently claiming to have missed a penalty incident or West Ham’s new stadium being mentioned. This, no matter how good or bad we’d been up until that point.

Now, he seems intent on running his players into the ground. I’m sure he’d argue that is part of building a solid, settled team and whilst I can respect that, why persist so long when by his own admission we’d been very, very poor?  Konstantin Kerschbaumer in particular, who had such a fine end to last campaign, must be desperate to get out there.

Outside of the game itself, plus points from the afternoon also included the new look gantry. Whilst we’ve all had our two-penneth worth on the way the upgraded structure was (or wasn’t) announced to the world, it’s welcome to see just how quickly the club have since reacted. Fair play to them and the team at BIAS (who I understand have been involved in discussion) for making what changes we could in such a short space of time.

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View from the Braemar – the upgraded gantry now visible

On personal note, I’d also like to offer huge THANKS to all those involved at Brentford for their help in making sure my son had such a wonderful afternoon as team mascot. He was made nothing but welcome by everybody involved  – from Malcolm in the match-day team all the way through to Dean Smith, the players and even Wednesday mascot Lucy. It really was a wonderful treat and the attention of everybody showed yet again, as if any reminder were required, what a wonderful family club we have.

Sam Saunders has, I’m afraid to say, now been pushed into second place as his favourite player. It was 90 minutes of “Where’s Harlee?” and “Come on Harlee!” as our captain has now become his new number one.

Harlee – if you are reading (who knows?) then an extra big thanks from Harry and dad.

HB Harlee and Dan

The new defensive line up still needs work

Nick Bruzon

The two most beautiful words in footballing parlance are back.

18 Aug

There are just two words to mention today for Brentford fans. You’d be forgiven for thinking these are Leeds and Barnsley. This, after their respective 90th minute goals in the latest round of fixtures denied three points for Fulham and turned a plucky away draw into a glorious defeat for QPR. You could even have Shane Duffy in mind after the Blackburn defender has endured what could be politely called a ’torrid’ a start to the season. But you’d be wrong. For me, it’s all about the most beautiful piece of alliteration in the English language…. Terrace Talk.

Yes, football’s most brilliant feature is back. And this time Sean Ridley is in charge.

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What, if we’re being honest, began life with a few teething issues as everybody got used to the format quickly became Griffin Park’s most hotly anticipated piece of videotape. Forget Mark Burridge losing the plot (in the best sense) on the Sunday highlights, what we secretly all loved was Jo Tilley going rogue with the mic and asking Brentford fans those most random of Bees related questions.

Then, against Ipswich Town for the season opener, it was gone. Despite the assurance from Mark Devlin that we would be seeing the return of Terrace Talk, there was nothing. Nothing.

Fortunately this was only a temporary absence. The relief was palpable in TW8 as this most hotly anticipated five minutes of fan footage reappeared yesterday. With a new host. None other than Sean Ridley. Brentford’s video whizkid and part time Alex Pritchard body double is back in front of the mic.

Sadly, Jo has moved on but with Sean having already proven his abilities in a one off guest slot last season, we know that the TT baton has been safely passed. And sure enough, within 90 seconds, it would be fair to say that nothing has changed. A black and white montage in tribute to Jo’s work kicked off 2016/17 in style.

Who doesn’t love a montage? Cinema’s favourite means of showing new skills being acquired or progress made in a short frame of time. Preferably to a stirring soundtrack. The training sequence from Rocky IV, a double montage with compare and contrast training methods, being my all time favourite of course. But this one is no exception.

Come for Terrace Talk. Stay for Drago and Rocky

This (Jo, not Sylvester Stallone) was instantly followed by Sean’s first interviewees of the season all being Reading fans so having no Brentford memories whatsoever. Jamie who now? Move along, nothing to talk about here.

To give anymore away would be to ruin it. Suffice to say that whilst I’ll miss Jo, Terrace Talk has lost none of the spirit which she filled it with. Why not check it out now?

Sean Ridley does his thing. wonderfully 

The other football news from yesterday involved the latest round of Championship fixtures. A late winner for Barnsley at home to QPR stopped the visitors dead in their tracks after winning the opening two games of the season. Shame. With Fulham also being pegged back at Leeds United on Tuesday night, it means the play-off zone already has a very interesting look.

Whilst, of course, it is far too early to gain any significant meaning I’d rather be where we are in the table than down at the bottom end. The Bees are already six points closer to safety and two points clear of where Marinus had taken us this time last season.

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The BBC table doesn’t lie (Although will tell a more accurate story after 10 games)

But if QPR fans feel upset at missing out on any points then perhaps they, and we, should all spare a thought for Blackburn Rovers. They’d already lost their first two home games of the season , with defender Shane Duffy further adding to their woes by scoring an own goal in the 3-0 loss at Wigan on Saturday. But that was a mere drop in the ocean compared to last night.

Not one, but two more own goals followed for Duffy as Rovers went down 2-1 at Cardiff City. Then, to compound the ignimony, he received a last minute second yellow to see red and take a slightly earlier bath than his team mates.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. No matter how bad Brentford fans think things might be at times, there’s always somebody worse off.

For now though, lets just enjoy the fact that we’re one point off the top. Could results go our way at the weekend? Might we head up the West London mini league?

Roll on the trip to Rotherham when we can find out. Until then, I might go and watch Terrace Talk once more.

Farewell Jo and good luck in the future. TT is in safe hands.

Jo Tilley Terrace Talk

Jo – Queen of the TT ‘walk and talk’

Nick Bruzon

What do we know after the first round of Championship fixtures?

8 Aug

And relax. With the weekend’s opening round of Championship fixtures having played out, Brentford find themselves just three points off Ipswich and Norwich (to name but a few) at the top end of the table whilst staying clear of Newcastle and Leeds United amongst others. Put a bit more simply, we lost to Huddersfield Town.2-1

What can you say? Well, for one I wasn’t even there. A last minute summer’s weekend camping meant the closest yours truly got to match action was tripping over the guy ropes chasing a rogue ball during an on-site kick about. Hey , at least it wasn’t a twig.  And then failing, spectacularly , to get any internet reception to keep track of the scores.

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Football action was limited to tripping over guy ropes (rather than twigs)

As such, it meant a hasty retreat to the local pub – this, purely for research purposes – to catch up on all the scores, updates , comments etc.

And? We lost. Frustrating , for sure, but is it really the doom and gloom some supporters are already embracing? Sometimes, I do wonder if people take as much pleasure for a defeat as a victory – simply for the opportunity to then let rip and exercise those ‘keyboard warrior’ tendencies.

Whatever. Each to their own. I’ve said it time and again – the table doesn’t take shape until ten games in. For all the comic effect of seeing Newcastle sitting bottom of the pile on Saturday morning (and, likewise, the somewhat more stomach churning sight at the top), this will only be a temporary state of affairs.

What I’d take more notice of is those teams already starting to fill their shooting boots. Forest, Ipswich Town and Norwich City (sans Sergi Canos) all managing four apiece. For all the possession and shots on / off target that a team may have, there’s only one stat that counts. And that’s balls in the back of the net. With Ipswich Town, who  beat new boys Barnsley 4-2, next up at Griffin Park we get the chance to see if this was a one off or whether the Tractor Boys could be one of those setting the early pace.

As for Brentford, positives can include Lewis Macleod lasting 80 minutes of a game. What a wait to get there since he signed last January and promptly endured that unfortunate run of injuries and mishaps. Nico Yennaris, missing from the start because of an infected toe, came off the bench to score at the end of a beautiful move involving Lewis and Romaine Sawyers.

Daniel Bentley pulled off a number of smart saves and , from a sartorial perspective, looked every bit the part with Kit man Bob pulling a rabbit from the hat. Or kit bag. The previously unrevealed all red number putting one in mind of the early 80s effort worn at Plymouth. For anyone moaning about too much white in the current home kit, perhaps that might be the answer?

Beyond that, I’m in the dark. BeesPlayer highlights on YouTube being my only source of information and so to draw any form of match report will, as ever, be a job for the likes of Beesotted, the BBC or even ‘official’ .

For now, we’ll simply look forward to midweek action in the League cup at Exeter (surely a game the home side will be viewing as a potato skin) and then start the prep for Ipswich on Saturday.

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Bob pulled a retro rabbit from his kit bag on Saturday

Nick Bruzon