Tag Archives: referee

A good news, bad news sort of day. Thieves, tickets and a lot of love.

25 May

So here we are. The build up to Saturday’s play off final between Brentford and Swansea City has well and truly begun. Our paltry ticket allocation (the same for both clubs) is now flying off the shelves to those fans with sufficient TAPS. The petition started by BIAS to have the attendance increased to 20,000 is gathering momentum (with Gemma Teale getting it as far as the BBC last night). As of this morning, the count was approaching 9000 signatures and there is still time to get this signed. Will publish a further link at the bottom. Closer to home, my faith in the goodwill of people has gone through both the roof and the floor. The love coming in for Woody and his family, following the words penned by his mum on Sunday morning, has seen emotions all over the place. On the flip side, thieves have targeted the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street at the weekend using the distraction of the post Bournemouth spirit to steal a squad signed  Bees shirt being raffled to raise money for a Hounslow food bank.

First up, tickets. We all know the scoop by now. Both Brentford and Swansea City will have less fans in on Saturday than they did for their respective semi finals. A stadium three or four times the size holding a fraction of supporters, despite the fact everybody was quite happy to double the capacity at the drop of a hat when there was the lure of a Champions League final at the same stadium on the same day dangled under the nose.Hmmm. 

BIAS have done sterling work in galvanising supporters with both Brentford and Swansea official also making their opinions very publicly known. We ALL want this to be the occasion it most definitely could and whilst the 8000 official fans (I’m not counting superfluous corporates etc) will do a wondrous job in building the atmosphere, imagine it with double that? There IS still hope. 

Today will be crucial to keep the momentum going. If you haven’t signed it as yet then please do. Please pass it on toy our football loving friends. Your families. Anybody you think would want this to happen / who has access to the internet. The link is at the bottom of this column.

On a personal note it was a real good news, bad news sort of Monday. As much through having been coming to Griffin Park (now LR) since 1979, I’m over the TAP threshold so got my ticket. I will be at Wembley with my friends but I won’t be with there with my family. Our Harry, who lives and breathes the club, misses out. Mrs B will be left behind, too. 

There are thousands of us in the same boat. Thousands of deserving fans with Season Tickets who, ordinarily, would be guaranteed a ticket to the game. Instead, we’ve all been torn apart. I haven’t missed a match with H in I don’t know how long. He’s gutted. I’m gutted. We’re gutted. He loves the club (especially Sergi) and his life revolves around it. From reading the teams pre kick off to being a mascot. From having the players in our house at Halloween to modelling the kit for the launch photos. Something which, even as recently as this weekend, I was given a wonderful reminder of when bumping into a fellow ‘model’ outside The Griff who also shared this photo. Thank you.

He’s still only 7(seven) yet thinks that’s ‘just’ how football works. That Brentford make this sort of stuff happen all the time if supporters want to get involved. The possibility of not going to a game when others can is one that hadn’t even crossed the mind. Until now.

The old ‘eagle distraction trick’ a tool up the sleeve of every decent photographer

Again, we all know this isn’t the club’s fault. We’ve been served up a dog’s dinner of a deal. We have SO MANY deserving fans who, like Harry, will miss out. I’m not after special treatment but simply giving my version of a personal story that I know is impacting so many of us. There will be many, many more similar. Many, many more who should be there and can’t . Who will be devastated about missing this. Who will be crammed in to pubs or front rooms trying to make the best of the situation. Many, many who like us will be sitting anxiously by the phone today. Please, get signing. Get your voice heard.

Look at Woody. The  positive reaction and love coming back on social media as a reply to the piece about him was nothing short of life affirming. Thank you. He won’t be there as it stands but If anybody needs to be it is him. If anybody gets the chance to lead out the team (should Corona somehow allow it) it is him. Here’s hoping he gets the first of the phone calls saying a ballot place has been awarded. Pretty sure everybody has read this one but, if not, then you can find that here…. Please do enjoy.

Harry – no eagle needed these days – and Woody at the weekend.

On the downside, local pub The Magpie and Crown have seen their own charity efforts hit by thieves late on Saturday night. A signed shirt being raffled to raise money for a Hounslow food bank was stolen. With everyone understandably distracted by the emotion of what had gone before, an opportunist(s) have pinched this off the wall behind the bar and it has gone walkies.

To date, the item has not been returned but if anyone has any information as to where it is, please get in touch with Scott Illman at the Magpie on the High Street. If you have it and have woken up with drunken regret, just pop it back through the letterbox or post it back – no questions asked. Hundreds of tickets had been sold to raise money for a cause that shouldn’t even require funds raised. Perhaps whomever took it was drunk and didn’t realise what it was for (he says being optimistic) but there can be no doubt now. Keep your eyes open on the auction sites, too. To date, this hasn’t been spotted online.

Finally, we have a referee for Saturday. Premier League Chris Kavanagh has been parachuted in to take charge of the final Championship game of the season. His record this season suggests yellow cards could be in the offing. Has a tense affair just go tenser? Roll on Saturday when we can find out. All being well, with 20,000 fans there.

That petiton link is HERE HERE HERE. Please sign it.

One more game…..

Nick Bruzon

Anything but a top draw afternoon.

4 Apr

Another point for Brentford. The draw at Huddersfield Town marking a mixed bag of results from the opening round of the Easter Championship fixtures. With Swansea City making it three defeats in a row at the hands of Birmingham City but Watford winning, again, the gap from the Bees in third to the second placed Hornets is now nine points. True, we still have that extra fixture and a visit from the Vicarage Road club to come but, for now, points in the bag are very much better than games in hand. For now… Who knows how things will or could change over the next few games?

We can only start with events at Huddersfield Town. A game which finished 1-1 after a first half in which we were frustrated by tenacious opponents and referee Oliver Langford. The man in the middle clearly set to ‘random’. Our case not helped by a shambolic opening goal conceded via a bit of defensive playmaking as haphazard and frustrating as the ‘officiating’ in the opening period. Raya playing out to Roerslev rather than booting it. The young Dane seemed to lose his footing before giving it away. Norgaard shoved before losing it and then Raya caught flat-footed after man of the match Lewis O’Brien reacted quickest. Just 7(seven) minutes gone and a goal down. Mere words can’t describe how awful it looked from start to finish. Dig out the video if you can do it to yourself. Anyone giving up the booze for Lent would have been forgiven for cracking at that point.

Help very much needed to get through the opening to the game

It was a goal all the more frustrating given Langford had adjudged Sergi Canos to have ‘fouled’ Demeaco Duhaney when running clean through on our hosts just moments earlier. Wonderful though he is, you’ve more chance of the Easter bunny displaying that level of dirty play. The Spanish playmaker one who very much embraces the positive side of attack, preferring to do it with the ball rather than his elbows. A player who trusts the referee to do his job. Sadly, the man in the middle failed spectacularly. See also the clear handball by Naby Sarr with Ivan Toney bursting clear or our man being bundled over yet adjudged to have conceded the foul. 

Let’s be clear, you still need to make your own chances but against opponents facing their own battle at the other end of the table, nothing is going to be handed over on a plate. The referee still needs to do his job and my word, Mr. Langford failed spectacularly in the first half. It was an opening period that actually had me yearning for the card waving discipline of Keith Stroud.

Our own cause not helped by Ghoddos and Mbeumo joining Dalsgaard in missing the game. At least the later had the excuse of being injured so not making it onto the pitch. Marcondes and Fosu amongst those given their chance far too late. Even Marcus Forss coming on for his 80th minute ‘subs by numbers’ appearance was as predictable as it was reactive. I’m no manager but the lack of impact and spurned opportunities in the opening period should have been a clarion call to action at half time rather than waiting until the usual 60-70 minute ‘Warburton zone’ to start proceedings.

Mr. Langford’s first half performance left a lot to be desired

Then again, we came out for the second period with a rocket having been delivered. Mads Bech Sørensen stabbing home the equaliser with just five minutes gone. Ivan Toney then hitting the inside of the post moments later. Surely, now, the pressure would build and the screw be turned? Surely? Alas not. Whilst Brentford had the lion’s share of the ball and possession, inability to carve out any further clear opening saw the game meander to an inevitable finish. Actual goals, rather than expected ones or retention stats, being what wins games. Huddersfield Town proving as resolute hosts as when they scuppered West Brom in game 45 last season. We weren’t complaining about their approach then. Perhaps it is something we might have done well to  remember.

Disappointed? Well, yes. Nobody has a divine right to win but Brentford just feel very samey at the moment. Our free flowing play and attacking intent parked in the sickbay with Rico Henry and Josh Dasilva. Games we might have won earlier in the season now turning into draws. Blame the ref. Blame lost chances (see: Nottingham Forest). Blame late wobbles (Derby County). Either way, the top two places would be infinitely nearer had we been able to close out any of the last three games. On the plus side, the meltdown ushered in by the FrankOut brigade after the Coventry debacle hasn’t seen Swansea City win their three games in hand to stride clear by the eight points predicted. Instead, we’re now ahead of the Swans whose current form reads LLL. Yet, like Barnsley, nobody has really kept tabs on Watford and they are the ones who have kept on churning out result after result after result.

What next? Watford travel to a Middlesbrough team who still have play-off aspirations. That, before another promotion hunting team in Reading, the derby with Luton and then Norwich away. Come out of those in any semblance of good form, off the back of an already mammoth run, and they deserve everything that comes their way. For Brentford, a visit from Birmingham City to set the pulse racing. Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Scott Hogan plus  Jon ‘and Toral must score’ amongst those likely to feature on Tuesday.

And Toral must score….

‘Automatic’ is still well possible but it is going to take a huge effort. Not just from those lining up against our rivals but from Brentford themselves. On and off the pitch. My word, if ever there was a time to return to winning ways then this it is upon us. Even Thomas seemed subdued after yesterday’s game, noting that “I would assess it as a decent performance. Not a top performance.

Here’s hoping for a return to winning ways and the chance to hear ‘Daydream Believer’ at full time. Oh, to be there on Tuesday.

Nick Bruzon

Were you guessing? Gavin does what Gavin does in a frustrating end to the week.

7 Mar

Well yesterday was about as frustrating and infuriating as it gets. But enough about having to watch And and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway with Mrs B. A soul destroying and futile exercise without an audience present. If that’s even your thing in the first place (it isn’t). Noooooo… they’re ‘dancing’ with a cartoon cat and mouse whilst Tom Jones is wandering around with a giant butterfly net. Make it stop. Please make it stop. Yet if that was a painful exercise then the same could be said for Brentford fans who had earlier tuned in to the day’s live Championship matches on Sky earlier. Watford and Swansea City got the expected wins over Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough, no complaints there, but the manner of their respective victories left a sharp reminder that football has more twists and turns than a game of snakes and ladders. Left Neil Warnock set to explode and surely facing sanction for saying what we were all thinking.

As painful as anything that had played out before

Watford now three points clear of Brentford in third. An extra game played. A 1-0 win coming courtesy of a strike from Adam Masina that seemed to go straight through the legs of Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba. The goalkeeper then receiving lengthy treatment after appearing to take some sort of knock to the head in the build up but eventually able to continue. It was never in doubt. The Hornets did what they needed to. The visitors spending the afternoon being stretched at the back and unable to make inroads up front. Well played Watford. We’d have been ecstatic to pull a result like that out of the bag.

However, that was nothing but the appetiser for the main event. Swansea City v Middlesbrough which, to my surprise, had full match coverage on Sky. Excellent. Sit back on the couch with a Guinness and a hot cross bun to hope for the best but fear the worst. What we got was as awful as Mrs Brown, her boys, Tom, Jerry, Dec, Ant and the England supporters band teaming up for a musical medley. We got Gavin Ward….

Remember Swansea’s game at Stoke City midweek? The scores locked at 1-1 until they were offered a 96th minute penalty after the softest of non-challenges? Of course Andre Ayew converted. That’s what he does. Well, yesterday saw more of the same, It saw Neil Warnock livid at full time after Middlesbrough were denied one point, possibly three. It saw Marc Bola have a wonder strike chalked off for Boro’ after Yannick Bolasie had, apparently, fouled Jay Fulton after playing the ball through. It saw the scores locked at 1-1 until Swansea were awarded a 96th minute penalty after the softest of non-challenges? Of course Andre Ayew converted. That’s what he does.

Even more frustrating this time around (the ex Brentford connection aside) was how it happened. George Saville taking the ball off Jake Bidwells’ toes and clearing for a corner before the defender went over. Ward pointing to the flag until changing his mind and under protest deciding it had been a foul. 2-1. Six points in the last two games where both had been heading for 1-1 draws. That’s football. You can’t blame Swansea for taking their chance. Do you think we’d have turned down the opportunity to take both penalties? Of course not. Doesn’t make it any less shonky though. Dodgy refereeing playing havoc with what is about as tight a promotion race as they come. This, from @VickiLee_1 on Twitter, summing it up in a nutshell

Neil Warnock summed up Gavin Ward and the two game changing incidents incidents in quite direct style, saying first about the Bola that Ward ”thought it was a free-kick to them. He hadn’t see (Yannick) Bolasie won the ball. It’s either a penalty or a goal. He’s blown the whistle before Bola’s shot hit the goal and gave a defensive free-kick.”

As for the penalty… :“I’m a little bit bewildered about the penalty. He pointed for a corner kick but he assures me that when he thought about it he thought George didn’t get any of the ball and he thought it was a penalty. I asked ‘Why did you point to the corner flag? Were you guessing?

Were you guessing?’ If ever Mr Ward writes his autobiography then there’s the title. No doubt the Middlesbrough manager will be fined for his comments. His full interview a masterclass in straight talking. That’s what the EFL do though. They’ll protect their refs to the last and hit the managers for speaking up. I was incensed after the penalty award at Stoke. So was Warnock, by the sound of it. This was equally poor. Swansea riding their luck and taking the opportunity offered. They’ll argue they kept going until the last second which, of course, they did. Yet once more offered the big helping hand of refereeing incompetence makes your task all the easier to achieve. Now, they sit two points ahead of Brentford with Tuesday’s trip to Blackburn Rovers next on the agenda. There’s still one hell of a long way to run in the promotion race. For once, we’ll be hoping Adam Armstrong closes in on Ivan Toney at the top of the Championship goal scorers charts.

Sour grapes? Yes. By the bucketload. As much about the circumstances that have played out. About referees unable to distinguish between fair means and foul. “By that reckoning they should get promotion, shouldn’t they? If they keep getting the right referees.” Not my words, Carol. The words of Neil Warnock.

Equally, with 12 games to go, and the Swans travelling to Vicarage Road for the final game of a tough run in, let’s not get too downbeat. Blackburn have a key role to play this week, we then visit them on Friday, but it will only be one step in the journey. Neither result will be definitive. Whichever way they go.

Albeit, if we could avoid any dodgy decisions that would be just great.

Nick Bruzon

How to watch it tonight. What we’ll miss in person.

17 Feb

What is there to say today? Brentford travel to QPR looking to further strengthen the automatic spot we’ve finally reached and possibly retake the top from Norwich City. With Watford now third after their own win last night things remain super tight. Norwich City go to Coventry and Swansea City host Nottingham Forest. Neither look particularly taxing opponents, on paper, but you could have said the same about Barnsley. On paper. This is the Championship where anything can happen. Where any team can beat any. Where every point counts.

I could give the tub thumping speech about take overs and there being a mere 3.5 miles between our respective homes. Two stadia kept at arms length by the 237 bus and not much more. Show me someone telling Peter Gilham this one doesn’t matter and I’ll show you someone taking their life in their hands. It is a mantra absorbed by all the players and evidenced, yet again, by the reaction to Said Benrahma’s penalty last season (crips, that seems a lifetime ago already). The players running to our man with a mic and celebrate together.

Back of the net…!!! Mayhem followed a split second later

It’s a game we want to win more than any other. Yet at the same time, without fans being there in person it fells like we’ve lost something. As much the chance to see unhappy faces in person. To celebrate together. Even knowing that when it gets truly grim, as can happen at times, we’re all in this together. I’ve recounted this one before but even the occasion of Dean Smith’s infamous 4-6-0 formation was punctuated by two highlights.

Firstly, BBC Billy Reeves doing his disco thing. Walking behind the goal at half time, he responded to a call of his name by performing a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ touchline sashay. Part Moonwalker, part Zoolander it was as smooth a transition from casual stroll to C&A model as you could ever hope to see. As one terrace wag noted ,” He accelerated from zero to catwalk in 1.2 seconds”. 

BBC Billy provided a rare moment of joy the time we tried a ‘false 9’

The second came as the goals rained in. Behind me, the emotion had clearly got to another fan who had been giving a running commentary down the phone to his, presumably, better half during the second half. Even this call reached a sad denouement with the line, “Yes. I love you my darling. But we’re sh*t. Now please f**k off” .

Thankfully, this is very much the thin end of the wedge when it comes to recent games at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium. Last season saw us beating QPR 3-1 – the game with the aforementioned Benrahma pen – whilst the same scoreline was repeated at Griffin Park. That, one of the last few games with fans present and one where there was the personal bonus of seeing H leading the players out.

Yet you are only as good as your last result and for us it was that 2-0 no show against Barnsley whilst our hosts beat Blackburn 1-0 courtesy of a 51st minute goal from Yoann Barbet. Safe to assume it wasn’t a penalty. Equally though, let’s not forget our last result against QPR.  A 2-1 win at Lionel Road in November (game 7(seven) in the unbeaten streak) which had the added bonus of salty tears at full time from Mark Warburton.

His own griping about he 200 fans we’d supposedly smuggled in up there with anything that ever came out of the mouth of Steve Evans or us Celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. It was a thing of absolute beauty and a tribute to our board of directors / substitutes who made more noise than a Harry Potter convention. It will be interesting to see if there are any temporary additions made to the board this evening in an attempt to redraw the balance.

Oh, Mark. Thank you. For a season where we’ve felt very much locked out you made an already special moment feel even more wonderful. Here’s to more of the same tonight. Kick off is at 7pm . See you there. In spirit. Unless Mr. Benham want to make me one of his 200 directors.

Instead, our options are many. There’s I-follow where ST holders have VIP (i.e. free) access. Failing that you can buy a pass or press the Sky ‘red’ button. Let’s not forget the ideal combination – our friends at radio. Billy ‘disco’ Reeves has confirmed its live on BBC Radio London DAB digital. Ah, ambassador, with these commentary options you are spoiling us.

And just when today couldn’t get any more exciting, our referee is Gavin Ward. On that bombshell…

Nick Bruzon

This could be biblical…..

30 Jan

Are we all over the Swansea City foul fest now? All being well Brentford fans are now fully focussed on Saturday afternoon’s game with Wycombe Wanderers, even if Swans’ supporters are still justifying their team’s own somewhat robust approach to Wednesday evening’s 1-1 draw. Certainly, going by the comments to Thursday’s column… That’s nice. Good luck to them. For the Bees, this represents another chance to continue an unbeaten run in the Championship that stretches back to late October and ‘that’ 3-2 slip up in Stoke. The one with the defensive experiment. Well, we’ve all learned a heck of a lot since then and now find ourselves nipping at the heels of the top placed teams. Reading’s victory over a Bournemouth team rapidly perfecting their own Fulham tribute act has catapulted the Royals above the Bees, for now, but its all so tight at the top that should we pick up all three points this afternoon, second place with games in hand is more than attainable by 5pm. Should other results go our way.

Wednesday has been and gone – let’s just move on now

These are exciting times, no doubt. If the snow which was thought to be that great leveller never quite materialised against Leicester City on Sunday, the elements could play much more of a significant role today. At the time of writing (7(seven) am) its torrential outside and has been for the last few hours (at least). The ground in TW8 will already be sodden and the rain shows no sign of abating. Great conditions for those that like slick, passing play. For those that remember to pack the extra long studs.

Things are biblical in Brentford this morning, that’s for sure, but with the Bees looking to make their own exodus from the Championship it couldn’t be more apt. Let’s just hope there’s a great flood of goals to match the downpour. Ivan Toney’s recent hot streak may have hit the skids but he is still playing quite wonderfully. The timing of his runs (where only being man handled can stop him) and link up play to those who are finding the net still worth their weight in gold. Or should that be goals? This afternoon’s visit from the Championship’s bottom side, who haven’t played in the league since a 1-3 defeat to Middlesbrough, could be the perfect opportunity for him. Of our divisional rivals, only Huddersfield Town have conceded more goals this season and a visit from a leaky defence in the rain could be just what the doctor ordered.

Of course, football is never that easy. Gareth Ainsworth’s team have certainly tightened up their act and are even winning games now. We laboured to our own 0-0 at Adams Park back in November and so won’t be under any illusions about this being a formality. Anything but. Talismanic behemoth Adebayo Akinfenwa may not have troubled the Championship statisticians so far this campaign but his presence alone makes the front man a huge distraction for the Brentford defence. Keeping the ball down the other end will be key. Dominating the midfield the way we’re going to win this one and break down resolute opposition.

Fortunately, Matthias Jensen was on fine form at Swansea City. See also the returning Josh Dasilva who did well to avoid another early exit fro matt game. Albeit on a stretcher, given the non-stop assault he was subjected to in the first half. Thankfully, referee Mr Brooks was on hand to ignore it all. Today we’ve got David Webb (rather than W£bb) in the middle so let’s hope for a little bit more protection in the slippery conditions. 

The heart says comfortable win today. The head says I’ve been a Brentford fan far too long to take anything for granted. However, let’s put the neck on the block and call it. 3-0 Brentford. There you go. Having got the last two league games spot on (somehow) its a hat trick that will be as welcome as it will be unlikely. Bring on 2pm when we find out the team and baton down the hatches for another afternoon on the sofa. Urghh – I’d love to be soaked to the skin this afternoon, so cold and wet that all feeling has been lost to the fingers. Unable to feel my nose and rain running down the glasses. We all know why that’s not possible so instead, let’s just hope the Internet holds up. Let’s wait for Mark Burridge to do his thing on the microphone.

Bring it on and see you there. In mind if not body. There’s always social media. Enjoy the game and here’s to the right result come 5pm. No pressure, lads….

Nick Bruzon 

Where’s Keith when you need him? Swans try to break our arms with their wings. And their midfield. And their defence.

28 Jan

Look positive. Brentford remain unbeaten in the Championship since late October. A 1-1 draw at Swansea City saw our hosts punch, kick and elbow their way back to second place in the table. Two points ahead of the Bees but with an additional game played. They travel to Rotherham on Saturday. We’ve another showdown with Wycombe Wanderers at Lionel Road. It was a game that we’re all left feeling hard done by after dominating play yet being kicked off the park by Steve Cooper’s unattractive brand of physical and cynical football. Clearly, he’s a fan of that approach and when you get a referee as innocuous as John Brooks was then its understandable why. It was a game crying out for the no-nonsense card waving of Keith Stroud but we were given Ray Biggar 2 . With Josh Dasilva , Vitaly Janelt and Sergi Canos amongst those being particularly brutalised Keith would have stamped it out in a moment. Instead, the only stamping was from a Swans team allowed to haul us off the ball with abandon and despite being, eventually, reduced to ten men still saw Jake Bidwell’s elbow to David Raya go unnoticed as the equaliser drifted in .

Sour grapes? No. Frustration? Yes!! Swansea are a rock solid team with a, generally water tight defence. They’re where they are for good reason. Some fair, some foul. It was a mammoth game for us and we more than matched the home team. Raya rarely troubled as Brentford took the game by the scuff of its neck and drove forward. Unfortunately, Swansea took Brentford by the scruff of our necks and did all possible to kill it. Rico Henry came oh so close in the first half as did Bryan Mbeumo. At one point he and Henrik tripping over each other to head the ball home fand, instead, conspiring to miss. No matter, it would come soon. 

The magical Matthias Jensen opened up the Swansea defence as easily as he would a packet of fish fingers to free Josh in the second half. Surely now. Surely….? Nooooooo. The ‘keeper got in the way as the goal opened up. But eventually the pressure paid. With Swansea finally down to ten men after Kyle Naughton was eventually shown a second yellow card (having previously dodged more bullets than the lovely Debbie McGhee facing a blindfolded Paul Daniels back in the day),  there was Tarique Fosu to head home a Dalsgaard cross in the 74th minute. 

Get in!! Our house erupted. Crisps in the air. Percy Pigs scattered everywhere in a celebration of relief and excitement. A goal and a man up. Dominating the game. This could only go one way. And sure enough, it did. It’s Brentford, innit?

To be fair, this one wasn’t down to us. A free kick given away near there touchline was delivered in to the box by Conor Hourihane. IT WAS a great ball in, to be fair, but should still have been meat and drink to David Raya. Instead, he was surrounded by Swansea players with Jake Bidwell unable to match us by fair means so resorting to foul. His elbow to Raya seen by everybody but Mr Brooks. Amazing. How? We were already screaming at the tv before Hourihane’s delivery was able to continue unchecked into the back of the net. Even Thomas called it at full time saying “I think it (the equaliser) is a foul. I think there’s an elbow in the face and with VAR it would be disallowed, but the ball is put into a brilliant area.”    

I’m not stealing the photo for this one. No idea what the legal people at ‘Rex Features’ are like but do check out the BBC match report for the full, unadulterated evidence of just how blatant this was.

Thomas was, as ever, being diplomatic. There was no ‘think’ about it. It was there and clear to all. Instead, the scores were level and from that point on every effort was made to run down the clock. Every ‘foul’ on the home team milked to the absolute nth degree. Poor Andre Ayew – please could somebody check in on him today and give us the ‘all clear’. They way he flopped around like a fish out of water had me genuinely fearing for his life.

Credit to Swansea. They had a job to do and did it well. Credit to Steve Cooper. Sometimes ugly works. Dirty play and brutal assault have their place in football if the referee won’t punish the assailants . As it was, Mr. Brooks still showed five yellows (including the second for Naughton) but on any other night, or with Keith in charge, one could honestly have expected the game to be abandoned and a nominal 3-0 win awarded to Brentford due to the Swans having insufficient players left on the pitch to continue.

You get the point. There’s no point me moaning anymore. I’ll leave that one to Harry who was unaware his own full time moment was being captured ! Instead, its on to Saturday and the visit from Wycombe. Destiny still well well in our hands. A win would have been marvellous but the most important thing is that we didn’t lose. Didn’t allow Swansea the chance to get further ahead. If there was any justice we’d have gone home with all three points but that’s not how football works. Oh well, we’ll just have to see what the weekend brings. With Rotherham beating Middlesbrough in some style last night, I do wonder what twists the weekend may still hold?

Nick Bruzon

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

19 Jul

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

kickers-boots-kick-hi-i-core-red-p69103-128016_image

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

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

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

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

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

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For half an hour, the dream was on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

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

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

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

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

THIS IS NOT OVER YET.

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Sergi and his fighting spirit are back

Nick Bruzon

  

Keep your hands and noses clean – look who’s in charge….

7 Mar

The promotion push continues. With just ten games to go in the Championship campaign, fifth placed Brentford are all set to host Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park this afternoon. Whilst the eleven point gap to ‘automatic’ may be starting to look significant, we’ve already reeled in Leeds United once this season. Any hope of doing the same needs to begin today although primary focus needs to be on strengthening our current top six placing. To that end, we were given a small boost last night as Nottingham Forest were obliterated at home by Millwall. Still, the good news is that our man in the middle is Keith Stroud.

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Keith Stroud – NO card.

The big on-pitch question today is whether Pontus Jansson may be ready to make a long-overdue return. We spoke last time out about his importance and his presence but the BBC match preview really highlights this from a statistical perspective. Brentford have won just twice since his last appearance, that against QPR in early January. Indeed, we’ve only tasted victory in two of the eleven games he’s missed all season compared to fourteen out of twenty-five when he has appeared.

One does need to counter this with the fact that this recent ‘run’ has only seen us defeated twice in the league – Nottingham Forest and Luton (a). It has been a period of eminently loseable fixtures such as Cardiff City and Birmingham away ; Leeds United and Middlesbrough at home. Yet we’ve still survived those unscathed and it could be argued the had we hung on to the 1-0 lead against the Elland Road outfit, Brentford may well be looking down on more than just the 19 teams currently below us.

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View from the Braemar – I’d love to see Pontus back

That’s football. No point dwelling on ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, time to focus on Sheffield Wednesday. Of course I’d love Pontus in the team but we should still have enough in the starting XI to give anybody a run. Leading the charge will be Ollie Watkins who was, of course, named EFL Player of the Year at the London Football awards this week. Alongside him fellow nominees Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo. With Thomas Frank beating the likes Roy Hodgson and Frank Lampard for the managerial honour, one has to think that morale will be high in the camp.

For the visitors, they are currently the quintessential example of a mid-table side. On paper. Sitting 12th, Wednesday are 10 points off relegation and 8 off the play-offs. A late charge for the play-offs would seem even more optimistic than our own efforts to hit the top two slots. Aside from their own recent form, which has only seen 1 victory and 4 defeats in the last 8 league games, the sheer weight of numbers above them makes that more improbable. Millwall being the latest teams to knock on the door following their own 3-0 heroics at Nottingham Forest last night. Added to this are injuries suffered by The Owls in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester City midweek. Kieran Lee is  almost certainly out whilst defender Julian Borner went off at half-time. It’s just a shame that stamina levels weren’t tested further by a period of extra time and penalties. 

That’s not to say that today is going to be easier than recent challenges. It’s anything but. Yet at the same time I’ve got the feeling in my heart that we will win this. Whether Pontus plays or not. But for the referee we could have come away from Cardiff City with a lot more last weekend as Brentford kept going until the very end.

So let’s all breath a sigh of relief that Keith Stroud is in charge today. Could today see his traditional flourish of a red card? Will there be random decision making? Or might we have the more level-headed Keith of recent outings? Whatever happens, he can’t do a more frustrating job than Simon Hooper. 

Do get there early for his always entertaining warm up routine, too. Very much a modern day Burridge (John, of Crystal Palace goalkeeping fame, rather than Mark, of commentary and greyhounds).

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Keith Stroud – has form

The other point of note about today is the additional health and safety precautions in place given the current concerns around Covid-19. You can read the full statement on the club website although the main impact for supporters will be a cessation of our usual close contact with the players whilst the traditional prematch hand shake will stop for now. The full gamut of measures and what to expect are noted here although I’d also note that we should probably be glad football is even going ahead. In Italy, all sporting fixtures are now being played behind closed doors whilst the top flights clubs have already started to mention they expect similar may follow.

For now, keep those hands clean and let’s see what happens down the line. Until then, heres to Sheffield. Let’s do this.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

Monsieur Lamouchi’s Boys do what they need. Ref loses cards and watch.

29 Jan

That was awful. Horrific. A brutal assault on the senses that despite there being, technically, a winner nobody could honestly admit to taking any pleasure from. The crowd favourite somehow pushed into second place. But enough about Mrs. Brown’s Boys beating Fleabag to the best comedy award in last night’s National Television Awards. At Griffin Park, Brentford went down 0-1 to Nottingham Forest in a game that made Brendan O’Carroll’s alter-ego seem like the height of cultural sophistication. The only consolation to be taken was the confirmation at full time that West Bromwich Albion had continued their awful form as they lost to Cardiff City. Even Leeds United picked up 3 points (not a typo) although had to come from 0-2 down at home to Millwall. 

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How could this happen?

Just like at the NTA ceremony, there was nobody laughing at Griffin Park. A game of few chances saw the visitors bludgeon us into submission with all the subtlety of a man in a wig and cardigan masquerading as an alleged popular Irish mammy. With Nottingham Forest time wasting and fouling from the off, referee Tim Robinson needed to get a grip on things immediately. It was something he failed spectacularly to do. Assisted by fourth official Keith Stroud and two linesmen who may aswell have not been there, Sabri Lamouchi’s boys were allowed to run riot – and they did. Why not? We’d have done the same. Play the conditions. If the referee has left his cards, glasses and watch at home then you’d be a fool to ignore that.

That’s not to be overly sour, although obviously it will come over that way should any away fans stumble across this page. Brentford were well, well below their best. It’s been a long time since we’ve been up against such stern opposition and, sadly, we couldn’t find a way through. Forest pressed tight and were quick on the break. Any attempt at creativity was snuffed out before it could begin. The Bees looking off the pace and stifled for huge swathes of this game, unable to adjust to the situation.

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A rare moment of space under the lights

In a game of few chances, the only goal came early. Joe Lolley left unmarked on the edge of the box and his weak shot from a corner took a wicked deflection off of Julian Jeanvier to loop past David Raya. Urghh. Less than a quarter hour gone and on the back foot. The clock already being run down with Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba soon booked for time wasting. Mr. Robinson then appearing to lose his cards as Brentford were given no protection or help. Left to fend for ourselves, we couldn’t cope. As one Braemar Road observer would later put it, Sammy Ameobi on Rico Henry was like watching Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox at the Brit Awards. Now that, unlike O’Carroll and his brood, WAS comedy. Albeit of the unintentional variety.

Being quite honest, the six point nature of the game didn’t even cross my mind once proceedings had got under way. It was just another match and one in which, sadly, we fluffed our lines after having the usual script ripped up. If only Mrs. Brown could do the same. Forest did exactly what they needed to and so took the points. That’s how football works. They are the ones now sitting just two points behind West Bromwich Albion. We’re the team in fifth. All the looking at the table and gnashing of teeth isn’t going to change that today. All the frustration at the officials just  wasted energy that can never be claimed back. 

Peter Gilham’s subtle as a brick announcements towards the end of the game telling us all we needed to know. “The referee has indicated there will be just three minutes of additional time. Just three minutes” and deep into the 93rd, ”A substitution for Nottingham Forest”. It felt like even he’d had enough, with all his customary courtesy and enthusiasm long out of the window. Even the emphasis on “Thank you for your TIME” as the crowd was announced saying more than any match report could.

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The referee and his assistant ignored all reminders of both the rules and timekeeping

Just about the only positives to be taken are another defeat for West Brom and more of that Leeds United leaky defence. That said, even they had the temerity to regain top spot after that comeback at home to Millwall and are surely, now, over their huge wobble. Surely?

Thomas Frank summed it up nicely at full time, using his interview to note that “From minute one you could see they wanted to make it a slow and scrappy game..we didn’t handle that well enough today.” HB in the Braemar Road cutting to the chase almost as eloquently…. 

He’s already watched far too much football for a six year old..

There’s nothing else to say this morning. Well done Nottingham Forest, I suppose. They took the points and rightly celebrated. The important thing being what we learn from this and where we go from here. Hull City being the obvious answer. A televised clash on Saturday lunchtime being the next test for Team Thomas. 

Let’s hope the Tigers prove to be bigger Fleabags than Monsieur Lamouchi’s Boys. I could do without another unpopular victory. Until then, here’s the ‘highlights’..

Nick Bruzon

Almost there. How about a few facts?

1 Aug

We’re that close now you can almost smell the aroma of bovril drifting across the forecourt. Thursday lunchtime and the season proper kicks off for Brentford in little more than 48 hours with the visit of Birmingham City. A team whose ‘yoof’, it would seem, are still learning how to spell ‘obsessed’. Saturday afternoon can’t come soon enough, even despite the somewhat dubious allure of Luton Town v Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough ™ on Friday evening to open proceedings in the Championship. That in itself, a game packed with intrigue as the former Leeds man and his club attempt to pick up the media inflicted hype gauntlet laid down by Frank Lampard’s former club Frank Lampard’s Derby County last season. But before things kick off at Griffin Park, we’ve already been dealt a blow. Two words designed to strike fear into the heart of any supporter. Gavin. Ward.

I’ve been away this week. That’s not information of any particular interest beyond being somewhat out of the loop in terms of keeping track of all our news. Re-enabling the 4G after landing at Heathrow yesterday evening produced a flurry of interesting updates. Maupay, Watkins and Benrahma all still at Brentford. Brighton and Crystal Palace apparently sniffing but nothing much more out there beyond that.

Even the usual Sheffield United ‘nailed on’ news has died a death. For now. It won’t be long before they’re definitely going there. Or Aston Vila. Or both. If you believe every rumour you read. Ahh, it’s all part and parcel of this time of year. Just grit your teeth, clench butts and hang on for the ride until that window slams shut.

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Flying in to Heathrow via Lionel Road – not a drone in sight, this time.

What we can say for sure is that Matthew Benham’s model (the mathematical one rather than Cliff in the brown/orange shirt) has struck again. Or maybe it was Cliff. Either way, the ‘in’ door has swung once more and the ceremonial half-chewed biro been cracked out with the news that we’ve signed Ecuadorian wide-man Joel Valencia from Polish champions Piast Gliwice. A player who certainly seemed happy to be here, that’s for sure. 

His signing gives even more choice on the flanks (read in to that whatever you need to – I have no intel. In general) and whilst he may be somewhat of an unknown quantity to those of us in the stands, have no doubt that the DOFs and Mr. B know their onions when it comes to talent spotting. The kinks in the machine that brought us the likes of Marinus and Nick Proschwitz seem to have been well and truly ironed out as our recruitment model has gone from strength to strength. 

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Welcome Joel (#)

Will he start against Birmingham City? I think the question is more a case of who will start against Birmingham City ? With the big three names barely even being mentioned, let alone featuring, over the close season it gives Thomas Frank an almighty selection headache. Of the best sort. I’m presuming that should any of Neal, Ollie and Said be deemed match fit then the bench is the best they can hope for. But, and has been said many times, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace rather than a font of any serious knowledge. Then again, the prospect of bringing on Neal Maupay to run at new Blues captain Harlee Dean, with Gavin Ward holding all the cards in the middle in his role as referee, is a quite fantastic one. 

Whilst his is a name that never brings any pleasure when announced as our primary match day official, given Harlee’s tendency to ‘go rogue’ at crucial moments, and with the added burden of wanting to make a good impression in his first game with the armband – against his former fans and team mates – for once the presence of Mr. Ward could be a good thing. Please note: I reserve the right to retract this comment on Sunday morning. 

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Regardless, I’m itching to start once more. The Brentford record against Birmingham City has been first class since our paths have crossed once more. Each of those last five seasons has seen us finish higher than Blues. They’ve not beaten us since November 2016. There was, of course, also ‘that’ 5-0 and ‘that’ song. Those are nothing more than facts. Bloody good ones, mind you. 

Here’s to Saturday and the chance of seeing whether we can add to that record. See you there.

Nick Bruzon