Tag Archives: Romaine Sawyers

Could we have to make any tougher a decision? What a choice awaits.

25 Apr

Monday really was a day that saw us entering the final days of the current Championship campaign. Newcastle United confirmed their return to the Premier League, although the battle with Brighton to see which of the teams who achieved automatic promotion will be crowned champions is one which will could still go down to the final round of games. And on the subject of winning titles (oh, the subtly) Brentford have officially opened voting for the 2016/17 player of the year.

We all know what’s happened at Griffin Park this season. The second half of the campaign especially has seen some of the most free flowing and exciting football to be played by Brentford in years. This, despite the sale of top scorer Scott Hogan to Aston Villa in January.

Yet following that move, the Bees have flourished. Lasse Vibe has moved to within one strike of the former Bee in the Championship leading scorer’s table, with Jota just behind. Ah, Jota. To say he has had an eventful return to Griffin Park would be like saying the Titanic had a few stability issues.

Few of us honestly thought he’d be back after heading out to Eibar on loan, myself included. And even when there was talk of a possible return, being quite honest there was no way he could match former glories. Especially with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Was there?

He hasn’t just matched them but taken his, and our, game to a whole new level. We’ve all seen the goals, the runs and the beautiful touches that have left opposition players floundering. Richard Keogh (Derby County) and Jake Bidwell (QPR) being just the latest to have been left with egg on face .

Yet Jota seems to play for pure pleasure. Something that could also be said of fellow Spaniard Sergi Canos out on the other wing. His return to Brentford has been an equally wonderful one.

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Danni showed perfectly how Twitter can be used to capture the current mood.

Then there are the new boys. Rico Henry has hit the ground running at 100mph whilst John Egan’s performance have propelled him toward selection for the Republic of Ireland. Romaine Sawyers has scored some stunners whilst, at times, totally bossed the midfield. His defence splitting passes are a thing of absolute beauty whilst Saturday against QPR saw me wondering if he had no fear, no danger sense or just supreme confidence – such were the deft touches and trickery he demonstrated.

How about Dan Bentley? What can you say about him beyond a huge doffing of the hat? The prospect of losing David Button was one that genuinely worried me but he’s not even been missed, such is the huge impact Dan has made. You could probably count the mistakes on the fingers of one finger yet the world class saves have been legion. He kept us alive on more than one occasion at the start of the season as the team found our collective feet and, right up to Saturday, has continued to pull top draw saves out of the bag.

As for the (metaphorical) elder statesmen, it really is a case of unsung heroes. Ryan Woods has, at times, seemed to be filling three midfield roles in his constant quest to tackle and distribute. He really is a serious contender for this season’s honour. Yoann Barbet has proven just why he was picked out in our new look recruitment drive with wonderful tackles and a fair few goals being added to his game. Pity Dean Smith having to pick between him, John Egan and Harlee.

Ah, Harlee Dean. The player on a one man mission to become the new Mr Brentford. He has been incredible. A colossus at the back this season, up there with the likes of Terry Evans. He’s had to learn his game over the last few seasons but now it is complete, just what a player. The tackles, the voice, the leading by example, the goals, the back heels (hmm, maybe not too many of those). He’s doubled up as a last minute target man whilst those driving runs forward have been a wonderful development to his style of play.

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Harlee – has led by example all season. A fine role model.

What about Nico? Josh? Max Colin? Any of them. It really is a tough call this time around. Reading the Ben Burgess article in the match day programme on Saturday, he was bemoaning the fact that so much player of the year voting takes place in February. Certainly, for the national awards. Yet this despite the season still having a third of the way to go.

It really was fascinating piece and, from a personal perspective, Ben’s column has been one of the standout features in the match day programme this time around. What an honour for the club to have some truly intelligent writing on the back page !

Well Ben, when it comes to Brentford you have your wish. The only question now being who to vote for. Good luck anybody trying to pick one out of those. And for those wishing to have their say, ‘official’ have the full details and form on the club website.

As for next season, the Championship has been nothing more than a one shot deal for Newcastle United. The Rafalution has been a triumphant one (despite the awful, awful hashtag) and at least we can rest easy in not needing to pack the mountaineering gear next campaign. Massive congratulations to the Magpies and, of course, Brighton for what was a supremely exciting battle.

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Worst. Hashtag. Ever. But a great performance from Newcastle United

Despite being Bookies’ favourites, Newcastle haven’t had it all their own way with pundits being reminded, yet again, that the Championship isn’t the cake walk a big club might expect. Aston Villa, we’re looking at you. Indeed, even the title looks a long way off with a four point deficit and two games to play keeping the Magpies just about alive in that race. Whilst you’d fancy the Seagulls to scoop the title, anything can happen in football and nobody at Griffin Park needs any reminders about what can happen in the final promotion shootout. I’m pretty sure there was something about a penalty?

Instead, they look certain to be replaced by Sunderland and Middlesbrough, at the very least. The trip to Sunderland one already being anticipated by many at Griffin Park whilst Middlesbrough will be very familiar territory.

Still, all that’s for another time. We’ve got two more games and a higher finish than last season to focus on. And, of course, deciding on just who to vote for.

I now know what my decision is, but I don’t fancy yours much. What a choice.

Nick Bruzon

Get a plate, a knife and a fork. Add some words. Start eating.

19 Apr

Sometimes it’s just too easy. The inevitable ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ of blog columns arrives as Brentford gear up for Saturday’s home derby with QPR. Whilst Fulham may have finished above us for the first time in three seasons (although there’s still much more to come on that front), once again the Bees will finish the Championship campaign clear of the not so super hoops. With just three games to go we’re 10 points ahead – Brentford on 60 to our neighbours’ 50.

Poor Ian Holloway. Whilst it looked at one stage as though he might turnaround what had become very much a damp squib of a season, normal form has now returned. Rangers’ current record in the league reads: LLLLL and , mathematically, they still aren’t safe. Only six points separate them from third bottom Blackburn Rovers. Themselves, a team who will no doubt be going hammer and tongs for a victory when they visit Griffin Park on the final game of the season. What an awkward one that could end up being.

But if the chance to go 13 points clear of the Loftus Road outfit and push them ever closer to the trapdoor wasn’t enough inspiration for Brentford this Saturday, there’s more. Much more. Whilst one can only have huge respect for all Jake Bidwell did at Griffin Park, moreso in a week that marked the three year anniversary since our ascension from League One, how good to show him he made the wrong call? If only for that #Jakejoins hashtag.

Indeed from out of that move we’ve not only seen the true emergence of Tom Field but, as excitingly, Rico Henry recover from injury and show just how the statistical model helped pick another former Dean Smith player. To have two such comfortable looking left side players really is a rare luxury and one that has provoked intriguing discussion as to just who should start in the full back berth.

Then, of course, we’ve got the chance to do the double over the neighbours. A 2-0 win for Brentford at QPR back in October was one that saw Romaine Sawyers hit an absolute screamer to double our lead. Writing about that one at the time, it was noted on these pages that : “”Sure, the QPR defence looked holier than the Pope (and were about as benevolent) but you still need the technique to put it away. What. A. Finish.

“The look on his face before he hit it”, opined one terrace wag to me, “you just knew what was going to happen”. And sure enough, it did.””

More of the same would be just wonderful.

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View from the terrace – the net starts to bulge from Romaine’s rocket

But, of course, the biggest incentive of them all is ‘that column’, written by Ian Holloway in his pre-season guise as a pundit for Sky Sports. In it, he tipped Brentford to be relegated, saying we’d finish 23rd and incorrectly claiming we’d punched above our weight under Warbs.

“ Brentford are regressing. Mark Warburton got them punching above their weight. They still haven’t replaced Andre Gray and Alan Judge will be missing for the start of the season. They could be in trouble.”

Sorry, Ian. Punching above our weight? Regressing? The table doesn’t lie. It didn’t then. It didn’t under Dean Smith last year when we finished above both Fulham and QPR in the table (despite the early sale of Gray and the injury enforced absence of the Judge). It certainly doesn’t now. Brentford sit in 11th place. QPR are down down in 17th and still looking down the barrel of relegation.

I’m not Dean Smith. I’m just the numpty on the terrace. But even I can predict what his pre-match team talk might be on Saturday afternoon . Something Twitter correspondent Luis Adriano also noted might be making an appearance.

I can’t wait for Saturday. A West London derby is always a great thing but to have two of them back to back (of course, the trip to play off chasing Fulham is the following week) is a rare treat.

Here’s to a repeat of October. For more than one reason….

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I’m sure this was full earlier? Still eight minutes to go

Nick Bruzon

Can Lasse grab another pizza the action at Cardiff ? Brighton do Bees a favour.

8 Apr

Brentford travel to Cardiff City today. Brighton retook the lead in the Championship from Newcastle after despatching the Loftus Road mob last night (and do us a potential favour at the same time). And FourFourTwo magazine have published their list of the match day experiences at all 92 league grounds, ranked in order from worst to best . Coventry City, look away now.

First up Brentford. And we’ll keep this brief – I’ve got a train to catch. The trip to Cardiff represents an excellent chance to continue our rise up the table following three straight victories. The latest, our 2-0 win over Leeds United on Tuesday night, being one of the most complete Brentford performances seen in recent times. It really was that good. Romaine Sawyers, Harlee Dean, Sergi Canos and Lasse were amongst those taking the headlines but, in truth, we were wonderful to a man.

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Jota watches the action unfold against Leeds on Tuesday

The flip side to all of this was injuries to Nico and Ryan, which makes both of them unlikely to start today. Alan McCormack and KK being the obvious replacements and, if supplemented by Jota along with the aforementioned Sergi and Romaine that will still make a formidable five.

Expect an unchanged defence from Tuesday (Clarke, Barbet, Dean and Rico) with Dan Bentley between the sticks and Lasse leading the line. That is, on the assumption he hasn’t got his fingers burned in a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock. I think it fair to say he’s more than earned that midweek pizza.

With Brighton condemning QPR to another notch in the ‘L’ column last night, Brentford remain 6 points above our West London rivals with today’s game to come. Victory could see us rise as high as ninth although, of course, it won’t be easy.

Dean Smith’s press conference on Thursday included the very telling observation that, “ “Neil Warnock teams are very difficult to beat. He has them well organised and they will be up for every game.”

There’s no doubting Mrs Doubtfire has the Bluebirds flying once more since their early season flirtation with the lower end of the table. It won’t be easy but the chance to draw further ahead of QPR and close in on both Fulham and last season’s 9th place finish is a huge lure. Can we do it? See you at the Cardiff City stadium this afternoon when we find out.

And for those of you travelling, it you’d like some reading material for the journey (no, not the book i although if you would like to read more about the last three seasons…….)   then could I suggest the online version of FourFourTwo magazine. Specifically, the aforementioned stadium guide they published this week.

Whilst, admittedly, being somewhat out of date it does hit the mark in most places. Certainly, I’d baulk at our performance relative to some of the soulless enormobowls we’ve had the pleasure of visiting this last few seasons. After all, this is a survey of match day experience rather than stadium quality.

Then again, if ever the Lionel Road team need some inspiration then here is a chance to see what the magazine deem the best and worst in English football.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Realm of the defence. Let’s not overlook magnificent Harlee and co.

5 Apr

The morning after the night before. No, it wasn’t a dream. Brentford really did beat Leeds United 2-0 and, whilst producing another performance of two halves, this time it was different. Wonderfully different.

Ordinarily the Last Word gets written having slept on things. Last night saw immediate thoughts penned upon the return home and prior to bed, such was the excitement at the way Brentford had outplayed the opposition. Whilst I stand by that post-match column, indeed if anything our attacking prowess in the first half was probably understated, we do also need to look more at the other end of the pitch.

Scoring goals is what ultimately wins football matches. That we only (and that word is used in the loosest sense) managed it twice is as much down to the performance of Rob Green between the sticks for Leeds. The likes of Sergi, Lasse and Romaine were magnificent as they pulled the strings and took the game to the visitors. From the off. It was as pleasing a first half of football as one could hope to see and the only disappointment, if we can be overly critical, was Brentford being contained to a ‘mere’ two goal lead.

Yet equally, we need to note the way Brentford played in the second half. As mentioned, it was a performance of two halves but that is meant in a positive way. If the first was non-stop attack, having taken that lead the second was as much about nullifying the opposition, trying to pick them off on the break and maintaining our advantage.

And for this, we need to pay due credit to our defence. All of them. The post match article noted the magnificence of Harlee Dean and the prowess of Dan Bentley when called upon. However, such was the excitement surrounding the win, the goals and the first half its almost as if these were taken for granted.

The pair of them have already been cited on these pages as being contenders for player of the season. Last night was further evidence as to why. Praise for Harlee on social media was unanimous whilst the Beesplayer team, including a return to Griffin Park for Sam Saunders, named him as their man of the match. Personally, I stand by my vote for Romaine in this one but it was a very tight call.

On that note, it was interesting to read Harlee’s own comments on his team mate, which you can find in full on Brentford ‘official’. Amongst other praise heaped at the midfielder’s feet he noted that, “He’s one of the most intelligent players I’ve played football with…I know his demeanour may look a little bit laid back, but he’s never out of position, never lazy. People have the wrong perception of him and he’s slowly changing it. He’s one of the best players in the team.”

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Harlee says and does his thing on ‘official’

As for Dan Bentley, do we just accept his brilliance as the norm these days? He rarely, if ever, puts a foot wrong and last night was yet another example. It already feels as if he’s been here for ever whilst I recall at least three solid, solid saves that helped ensure there were no heart in mouth moments as we reached the closing stages.

Remember the worry many of us felt when it appeared clear over the summer that David Button was on his way? Nobody could deny how his own game had progressed at Griffin Park yet to see his own performance last night as Fulham went down 4-2 at Derby was a perfect demonstration of the gap between who we had and who we have. Whilst, ordinarily, I wouldn’t direct anybody towards Fulham, in this instance their own highlights reel is worth a watch.

Josh Clarke made the absence of Maxime Colin look like an irrelevance. Don’t under estimate the Frenchman’s talent or the just how ably Josh filled in for him. Rico Henry again showed how the stats computer identified him as a transfer target ( I do wonder if ‘former Dean Smith player’ is one of the variables currently programmed into it) whilst Yoann Barbet gave a further demonstration of the centre back talent at Dean’s disposal. With two full internationals in Andreas Bjelland (Denmark) and John Egan (Republic of Ireland) waiting to recover from injury to try and reclaim their places, I don’t envy anyone having to keep those four happy.

It’s no wonder Dean persisted with the ultimately doomed three centre back experiment for so long and the summer transfer window could be an interesting one. Given our propensity to sell when the price is right, are two out of four really going to be happy spending so much time on the bench? Hey, its a lovely problem to have.

In all of this, we’ve not mentioned Nico or Ryan, both of whom limped off early with injury. Here’s hoping this was nothing more than precautionary with a third game in eight days upon us at the weekend. Whilst the eyes are naturally drawn to the excitement of a Sergi or Jota , lets not forget what a solid yet often understated job this pair do in the middle of the park.

So often this season Ryan Woods has had to cover the space of two or three men as the midfield struggled to fully flow whilst who could forget the stick Nico came in for from many of our keyboard warriors at the start of his Griffin Park career? That seems a long, long time ago now and is testament to his self-belief, perseverance and talent.

So yes, it was an incredible first half. It was one of those that will go down in memory. Yet, as importantly, perhaps the relaxed looking, comfortable and totally in control second period is the one we should really be purring about now that the dust has settled on that result.

I have no doubt it was anything but relaxed for the players , who gave their all. But at no point did it feel as though Leeds were in with a chance of taking anything out of this.

Whichever part of this performance you celebrate. Whichever player was your vote for man of the match. Whichever way you look at it. This was as complete a team performance over ninety minutes as one could hope for.

Very well played, team. Spot on from Dean.

Smith, that is.

On a day that started with the B-team scoring 7(seven) goals, it ended with the first team in seventh heaven.

Roll on the weekend.

Nick Bruzon

Romaine and Sergi lead a full frontal assault as Bees do it to Leeds, again.

4 Apr

Another game, another 2-0 win for Brentford. This time Leeds United taking the place of Saturday’s Bristol City. It was a game that started in similar style to the visit from the Robins although one which, if anything, put one more in mind of the home encounter with fellow high flying visitors Brighton. As with the Seagulls, Brentford took a two goal first half lead but, this time, there was to be no reprieve for the promotion chasing side.

Poor Leeds United. Their form against Brentford hasn’t been great in recent years. The eight League games since the 2009/10 League One campaign have seen things go very much in our favour.

This one was no different and now sees us well ahead of our illustrious rivals with a record that reads : P8 W3 D4 L1 in favour of the Bees. Indeed, looking purely at the Championship, this was a third win from our six games. Not bad for a team considered ‘tin pot’ when paths first crossed. Even Marinus Dijkhuizen took a point from Elland Road last season (not a typo).

But Tuesday night felt additionally special. The table doesn’t lie and Leeds, spearheaded by the goalscoring prowess of Chris Wood, have been one of the Championship’s form sides as they’ve locked down that play-off place. So to see Brentford take them apart so clinically in that first half was a thing of beauty to watch unfold.

Sergio Canos was devastating down the left flank whilst Romaine Sawyers magnificent as Brentford came flying out of the traps in a full frontal assault on the Leeds back line. Despite the heroics of Rob Green, Brentford scored two deserved goals in the first half with Canos having a hand in both. The first seeing his shot parried out to Romaine Sawyers who had no right to shoot, let alone score, from that wide out across the face of goal. Sometimes, its all about the precision.

The second came from another Canos shot. This time falling kindly for Lasse Vibe who made no mistake after having seen an earlier chance drift agonisingly wide.

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View for the Braemar: We’ve got that Vibe (I know, I know)

Yet at 2-0 up and having dominated, the big question was whether Dean’s team would cruise home, go for broke or give us one of those half and half performances we’ve seen from time to time. Then, of course, was the Garry Monk factor. Surely he’d have launched a half time rocket up the backsides of his own team? Brentford fans strapped themselves in and waited. But nothing happened.

Rather than launch a Blitzkrieg assault Leeds remained contained. There was to be no Brighton style comeback. Instead, it all felt a bit Bristol City. Sure, United probably dominated possession a bit more in the second period but, realistically, never threatened. Harlee was magnificent, as was Dan Bentley when called upon, whilst Sawyers produced one of those wonderful defence splitting passes that only he can to free Lasse. A third might have spoiled us but nobody would have complained had the Great Dane found the back of the net once more.

Instead, we had to be content with a cameo from Macca which included a booking within 7(seven) minutes, another clean sheet and another 3 points.

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Jota and a floodlit Griffin Park – wonderful from any angle

That’s three wins in a row now for Dean Smith’s team as we climb 6 points clear of QPR and within 8 of Fulham. With games against both still to come, the title of Championship kings of West London still remains very much up for grabs.

Likewise, Dean Smith’s team are now just a win away from the 9th place we ended last season in and, whilst a run to the play offs is probably a dream too far (we’re ten points behind with 6 games left) emulating that previous finish has to be the very least of our aspirations. Certainly on this sort of form.

To overly single out anybody from what was a hugely impressive team performance would be unfair. Yet, by the same virtue, due credit to Romaine Sawyers. He’s had his critics over the season and, at times, can be the most incredibly frustrating player to watch. Equally though, when he does what he can do then there’s nobody you’d rather have in the side. Don’t forget also that this is a huge step up from League One.

Our players are only going to improve the more gameplay they get at this level. See also Rico Henry who,despite his slender build, has taken to this team like a duck to water. Oh to see what he can do when he hits the ground running at the start of next season.

That’s then, this is now. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Next up is Cardiff City away on Saturday. Despite their own mid-season flirtation with the bottom sides, the Bluebirds now find themselves just two places and four points behind the Bees. Whilst a repeat of the miracle at Burton on our last road trip is probably too much to hope for, carry on playing like we have done and Fulham might be looking nervously over their shoulders.

For now though, let’s just savour the moment. Take a look at Sky where the goals are already up . Then, when the morning comes around, really enjoy the full fat Burridge version on YouTube.

Well played Brentford. You were wonderful tonight.

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Buzzette was up for it from the off.

Nick Bruzon

Bees got that vibe as that man beats Robins.

2 Apr

Another Saturday, another win. Brentford eased past a hapless Bristol City side 2-0 as though they weren’t even there. And in truth, for most of their first half showing, they weren’t. It was another game where we were left waiting for the consummate 90 minute performance. That’s no criticism. Perhaps with the game well safe and Tuesday night’s visit from Leeds United in mind, one can understand us slipping back down into cruise control. At the end of the day, Clive, Dean Smith will rightly point to a clean sheet, a dominant (if somewhat restrained) display, two goals and a clean sheet. And I defy any fan to tell me they wouldn’t have taken that if offered before kick off?

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View from the Braemar – Romaine Sawyers got stuck in to City (c/o Tim Griffiths, thanks!)

As ever, get your full fat match reports on the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. Those of us that were there would have seen a game that was never in doubt from the off and was all but wrapped when Lasse Vibe doubled the scoreline on 26 minutes. This, after Sergi picked up where he’d left off at Burton Albion.

The spaniard’s opener one that Brentford fans were relieved to see in more ways than one after Joe Bryan had scythed through the wing wizard leaving him prostrate in agony. For a while it looked like our man of the moment was in all sorts of trouble. “I heard that one from up here”, one observer at the back of the Braemar Road would later note. For those of us on the touchline, right in front of where the incident occurred, there were most definitely hearts in mouths

You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Lasse Vibe soon made it two, heading home from a ball that was fired forward into the box, flicked up as it continued it’s journey to the back of the bet and finally steered home by the Great Dane. It was due reward not only for the Brentford faithful as for two IFK Göteborg fans who had come across to see their former favourite in action.

Interestingly, Lasse’s own own strike rate in Brentford colours of 0.367 (25 goals in 68) is now just behind that of Andre Gray on 0.38 (18 in 47). However, to see just how prolific he has been (Will Grigg supporters, please take note of this true definition of ‘on fire‘) , Brentford official nailed things wonderfully.

After that, we were all expecting it to be a question of how many Brentford chose to inflict upon the visitors. Instead, as the one-sided first half came to an end,  we sat back and waited for Leeds United. Sure, City hit the bar and the post in some rare sorties but, in truth, they could still be playing now and one can only imagine they’d have struggled to hit a barn door with a proverbial banjo. They really were that far out of their depth.

As ever, Sky TV have the video highlights up already. Alternatively, the official highlights are longer, have the commentary from none other than our own Mark Burridge and, more importantly, are now available to all.

We’ve got that Vibe. And that Canos. And Mark Burridge

Outside the ground, there was a stranger than usual vibe. Choruses of  “No surrender, No surrender to the IRA” ringing around the beer garden of The Griffin in a somewhat unusual choice of prematch song from Robin’s supporters. Seriously? In 2017 this one seemed about thirty years past its sell by date. Likewise, whilst perhaps more understandable, there seemed to be a lot of agitation towards Bristol Rovers. This is Brentford. Who? Cares?

As the aforementioned Braemar Road observer would also note – “How bad do things have to be that you hate, actually HATE, Bristol Rovers?” . A team about as inoffensive to most as pink unicorns or the Care Bears.  Despite the divisional gap (for now) it did seem as though they had somewhat of a huge inferiority complex. Yeah, we get it. You hate Bristol Rovers. Yawn.  Then again, geography counts for a lot. An awful lot. Perhaps Rovers being to City as Mrs Brown and her boys or the Loftus Road mob are to yours truly.

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City supporters in happier mood at full time, despite sliding down (the table)

Oh well, perhaps they can sort it out amongst themselves in League One next season. That’s assuming City aren’t overtaken, of course. With Rovers just two wins away from the League One play offs, there’s only one point separating fourth bottom City from the relegation places in the Championship. As for Brentford, we’re up to twelfth and the knowledge that a win over Leeds United on Tuesday night could see us back in the top ten.

Beating Leeds United will be a huge ask, of course. But their own defeat to play-off rivals Reading yesterday shows it is possible, despite the goal scoring prowess of Chris Wood. With a place in the play offs all but assured, can we use this one to continue our own upward trajectory? The Bees are three points clear of QPR and Fulham have to be next in the sights. With games against both still to come, the crown of Championship kings of West London (one worn by the Bees last season) is still, mathematically, up for grabs.

If anybody was in any doubt as to what we still have to play for, Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge summed things up perfectly once the dust had settled . “Still lots to play for, another top 10 finish & win the derby games – so much to look forward to for Brentford FC fans next season too” he opined on social media.

Well said, Mark. With just 7(seven) games to go, the season still has plenty to offer. On Tuesday night at Griffin Park we find out how much.

Nick Bruzon 

Belated birthday greetings to a legend as April offers goals, derbies and more.

1 Apr

And relax. The weekend is here. Peter Gilham is here. Bristol City will be here at 3pm this afternoon as Brentford look to pick up where we left off before international break. April, weak jokes and, on a totally unrelated note, Fulham and QPR are all here. Of course we have a pair of West London derbies to come with the Loftus Road mob visiting the club they failed to take over 50 years ago before we head up the road to Craven Cottage. That, of course, a game with the wonderful potential to try and put a huge dent in the host’s own play off hopes. If they haven’t already shot themselves in the foot, of course.

But with due respect to Bristol City, Fulham et al we can only start with Peter Gilham. Yesterday saw the incredible occasion of his 70th birthday. 70? ! Peter Gilham is 70. I’m sorry but I just can’t believe it. What fountain of youth is he drinking from? Were it not for the fact that I’m now in my own fifth decade of supporting the Bees (first game in 1979), I wouldn’t believe it. But , of course, Peter has been around since long before that.

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Peter Gilham – as seen in 1989’s ‘100 years of Brentford’ book

He is the living embodiment of the club. He’s still as enthusiastic as ever whilst performing his match day ‘man-with-the-mic’ duties although, as the years have progressed Peter has added a lot more dead pan humour to his delivery. Woe betide any off-target centre circle challenge participants, snapchat users (whatever that is) or tardy substitutes.

We all know him. We all love him. Peter has done just about every job at the club, barring caretaker manager. And whilst Dean Smith is carving out his own place in Brentford history at present, it wouldn’t be a shock to anybody outside of TW8 if, one day in the future, even that happened.

I can still hear the introduction to our own pre-internet telephone information line as Peter would announce in his ever dulcet tones, “Hello. And welcome to Brentford club call”. Then proceed to spin it out as the call box down the road ate through my coins with all the voracious appetite that a premium rate phone line would. Or am I getting mixed up with ‘chatback’?

These days, Peter’s calling card is “A little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock’”. The more goals Brentford score, the more enthused he becomes as what should be the most cringeworthy and toe curling of sponsorship announcements is already becoming part of club folklore. Forget the pizzas, its all down to the delivery. And when it comes to delivery, Peter is first class.

Belated birthday greetings Peter. Here’s to many more. I can’t wait to hear you on the Lionel Road P.A. system….

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter, Buzz and Buzzette. The epitome of cool

As for today, its non-stop. Prior to the visit from Bristol City, we’ve got the Bees Fan Zone in Watermans Park. Just a short walk from the ground, this is always a fantastic event for our younger fans and I’d urge you all to get along. Brentford never fail to pull out the stops as a family club and this is yet another example of how well we treat our younger fans. Full details are on Brentford ‘official’.

And then we have Bristol City. Win, lose or draw about the one thing I’d bet the mortgage on(purely for research purposes) is that this one has goals in it. Brentford have been on fire since the end of January and the five goal comeback against Burton has fast overtaken the 4-1 win at Fulham (you know, when Stuart Dallas did that thing….) as many supporters’ favourite away game in recent times.

Team selection remains a tricky one today. If only for picking out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to genuine news v April Fool’s jokes. Jota out for 9 months? Sure…. Peter Gilham 70….?

I don’t envy Dean this one. Despite the wonderful news about Alan Judge signing a new contract he’s not match fit. With Jota, Lasse and Sergi chomping at the bit for another taste of the net, everybody else will have to fit around them. Good luck with those first goal scorer bets. Yet, by all accounts, the Bees were as horrific in the first half at Burton as we were simply incredible in the second. Do onconming subs Alan Mac and Nico retain the berths occupied by Romaine Sawyers and KK at the start of that one? Does Rico Henry walk back into the team ahead of Tom Field? How is John Egan’s head injury after his midweek exertions for Ireland?

Whomever Dean starts, let’s hope it ends with Peter Gilham having a very sore throat and more plugs for that little Italian restaurant. By Brentford lock.

As for the rest of the month. I saw a graphic yesterday advertising all the footballing treats awaiting the armchair viewer in April. All well and good, but nothing beats the thrill of a West London derby.  The prospect of hosting QPR followed by a trip to Fulham just a week later is a tantalising one.

April fixtures

Championship life has been nothing but exciting and those two games represent yet another wonderful example of why it continues to enthral us.  I’d rather be at those games than sat at home watching Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and those other apparent big names.

Brentford may not have Ibrahimovic, De Gea, Neymar, Messi and whomever Arsenal’s marquee players are. And? We’ve got Jota, Harlee, Sergi, Ryan.

Plus, of course, Peter Gilham. Here’s to 3pm when it starts all over again.

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Don’t forget the Fan zone prior to kick off

Nick Bruzon

Dean gets his wish as Bees prepare for a first trip to Burton.

18 Mar

There’s just 9 games to go for Brentford before a third season in the Championship comes to an end and we’ve something new to look forward to today –  a first ever trip to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. With it, a chance to look for another league double with the Bees, of course, having beaten the Brewers 2-1 earlier in the season at Griffin Park.That was a game marked by a wonderful performance from Romaine Sawyers and a brace from the now Aston Villa based Scott Hogan where Brentford 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 – this time Hogan the man being denied a third as the man in the middle ruled in favour of a tumbling John Mousinho. Apparently ‘fouled’ as the pair raced clear toward the Burton goal.

Coote gave a display that showed all the authority and decision making ability of White Star Line when they declared the Titanic seaworthy. Even Brentford ‘official’ adopting a rare tone of cynicism, noting in their match report that his “Decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion”.

It was a game that concluded with a bizarre moment of handbags as it reached the denouement. Referee Coote  again proving almost incidental to the action 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 – it was full blooded last time out

The good news for Brentford fans being that Coote is nowhere near the Pirelli stadium. He did his thing last night at Bristol City as the home team humped Huddersfield Town, our own conquerors last Saturday, by an incredible 4-0 scoreline. That in itself, a result that sees City rise above Albion in the relegation scrap.

The potential bad news being that Mr Madley is the man in the middle. Although calm down, it’s Andy not Robert (of the infamous performance as Brentford celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient. And if you’d like to read more on that…..) who will be officiating today.

And relax.

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On the pitch, Dean Smith has his wish. The no-show against Wolves (let’s just park that one now) saw him saying afterwards that, “After tonight I need a game as soon as possible because I need to put that game to bed. The players are the same: they need the game. They are better that that and they need to go and show that.”

Well Dean, you have your chance. I’ve every confidence he and the team will put things right and return to winning ways. Club sponsor’s 888sport have us at 5/3 to win this match. Whilst, of course, I’m not a betting man even I might be tempted at this price, purely for research purposes.

Can Brentford do it? Will Burton make it three on the spin for the Bees? Defeats, that is. Whether you are following on twitter, Beesplayer or at the game itself, at 3pm we find out.

Enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

Mark Burridge wins Twitter for the day as Brentford prepare for trip to Ipswich Town

3 Mar

Roll on Saturday. Brentford travel to Ipswich Town looking to make it three wins in a row whilst, at the same time, building on a ‘goals scored’ record that has seen us find the net 16 times in the last 6 games. The last of which saw that smile inducing hat trick from Jota (just think of it and tell me you aren’t still grinning). And those of you up early may have spotted something on Twitter from the midweek win for Newcastle United at Brighton, c/o of our commentator par excellence Mark Burridge.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team on Saturday

But we can only start with Brentford and Ipswich Town. Last season saw a 3-1 win for Brentford at Ipswich, in a game that was marred by Luke Hyam’s horrific lunge through Alan Judge. It was a foul subsequently defended by Tractorboy’s boss Mick McCarthy who, even given time to reflect , made no attempt to reconsider his opinion.

Hyam was shown a yellow for the assault on Judge which broke his leg, ruled him out of EURO 2016 and 11 months later still sees him nowhere close to a first team return. The Ipswich man was eventually shown a second yellow for going at Ryan Woods just before half time.

Dean Smith’s suggestion that he had been  “a bit naughty” and deserved straight red prompted a somewhat bizarre reply in which McCarthy noted, “I’m disappointed if he’s said that. I don’t think it is. I think he’s won the ball. I’ve actually complained to the referee as to why it’s a booking if he’s won the ball. I don’t think it’s naughty at all. That surprised me and disappoints me if he’s said that, but we all have opinions”.

Hyam hasn’t featured this time around but don’t expect anything different from Mick and his team. If not career threatening injuries, certainly a side who are robust in the challenge and have lost the form that has seen them threatening the play offs in previous campaigns. Instead, a squad that contains Jonathan Douglas and Toumani Diagouraga have seen their stock fall and sit below Brentford in the league table.

As for Brentford, there’s been more than a touch of Keegan-era Newcastle United about us in recent weeks. Dean’s return to picking a four man defence has seen goals aplenty, at both ends. Is kamikaze football better than the turgid possession game? Absolutely. Is it just a matter of time before the team re-adjust to both their ‘new’(traditional) system and new faces  such as Flo Jo and Sergi ? I have no doubt. Which of those two Dean starts with on Saturday will be tough choice but, like Justin Shaibu, the impact made from the bench by the Spaniard was clear for all to see.

Harlee Dean has flourished in recent months. He really has been indispensable, both at the back and going forward. He’ll be missed in his second game out following his tenth yellow, but it gives Andreas Bjelland  and John Egan a chance to really give Dean another selection headache. Along with Yoann Barbet, we really have been blessed with centre backs – the trick for Dean being which combination to pick and which players to sit alongside them.

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Suspension saw Harlee spending Saturday very much put of position

And there’s another thing. Rico Henry. He’s barely featured on these pages since, finally, making his debut in the 2-1 win up at Sheffield Wednesday. Rico, if you are reading (you aren’t) I can only apologise.  Commentators and supporters alike were left enthusing about his performance. Those who saw him in the flesh against Rotherham could only agree. Pace, skill, tricks and tackles. In abundance.

Tom Field has been magnificent at left back but Rico really has thrown down a gauntlet. In doing so, he has shown just why the statistical model has identified a second Dean Smith ex-player as one we should move for.

As for Romaine Sawyers, his killer ball through for the goal to complete Jota’s hat-trick showed just why our head coach must have been smiling when ‘the model’ threw up his name over the summer. Like Brentford, consistency has been the main problem here in a tricky first season but we’ve nobody who can split a defence like Romaine when he is on his A game.

Rotherham, like Sheffield Wednesday, saw him very much a fish out of water. The ‘false 9’ formation is not one that we’ve been overly comfortable with and Saturday was the archetypal example. A set up that looked good on paper pre kick off clearly wasn’t working and Dean Smith really should have rescued his man earlier.

As for the experts, the bookies see Brentford as 39/20 to win this one whilst ‘over 2.5 goals’ is evens. And for those of you with a penchant for curse of the ex-player (as so ably demonstrated by John Swift at Reading) Toumani is 15/2 to score at any time. Whilst the big man was only the bench last time out, football being football then surely that’s where the smart money is?

Calling the shots will be Mark Burridge, as ever. With travel chaos expected thanks to the rail service, could Beesplayer be the best place to catch up on the action? Whilst there is no substitute for being there, the thought of spending the afternoon with Mark and his team is a tempting one. If for no other reason than we can expect quick off the mark observations from our man at the mic.

Does he ever sleep? Is his attention permanently tuned in to all things Brentford and Greyhounds ? We alluded to an early morning social media spot at the start of the article and sure enough, Mark / Newcastle United delivered.

Nice one Mark . Here’s to more zingers on Saturday. And goals.

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Nick Bruzon

The King of Spain reigns supreme at Griffin Park. Unprecedented joy follows a quite wonderful denouement.

26 Feb

Brentford 4 Rotherham United 2. A game that prior to kick off had promised goals and a guaranteed three points for the home side would look, by the scoreline, to have delivered just that. The headlines, quite rightly, will have been dominated by a quite wonderful performance from King Jota, whose joy enthused celebrations of his late hat-trick goals left everybody (the handful of Rotherham supporters aside) leaving Griffin Park with grins like split watermelons. Yet on a day where we commemorated 50 years since the doomed take over attempt by QPR, the Millers came so close to being consumate party poopers.

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View from the Braemer – unadulterated joy from Jota and the team

To be overly down on a four goal home win seems really odd. Yet Brentford were so, so sloppy for huge swathes of this game. The Bees started, with Romaine Sawyers seemingly in the ‘false 9’ position once more, at 100 mph. 85% possession in the opening period was rewarded by Jota’s first after what the papers report as 13 minutes (although if Kitman Bob is reading, I’m pretty sure the Griffin Park clock said 8) . It was a beautiful finish from a tight angle on the left and promised to be the precursor to a much anticipated opening of flood gates.

And then. Nothing. From shuffling around like disinterested zombie hoards, Rotherham United were slowly allowed back into it. The scoreline stayed 1-0 at half time as the game descended into League one style averageness. Sawyers was drifting so deep that he was more Josh McEachran replacement than filling in for Lasse or the Hoff. This isn’t his natural position and I do sympathise with a player thrust out of his comfort zone yet, at the same time, if you can’t handle it then let somebody else have a go. Let the head coach read the game. Really, Dean should have made changes quicker rather than Romaine coming in for more flack. When he was switched, look what happened.

Being honest, I was quite happy with the starting XI in the circumstances but once we’d got bogged down into high ball kick and rush then changes should have been made. Instead, Brentford allowed the visitors to equalise not once but twice. Our second goal, Nico bundling home a cross from Ryan Woods, should have knocked the stuffing out of a Rotherham team looking to grind out a draw. Instead, we gave them the freedom of Griffin Park.

Then, with the impressive Sergi Canos and the B-Team’s Justin Shaibu making their marks from the bench, Jota stepped up and did his thing on the 90th minute. The first, from the penalty spot, prompting ecstatic celebrations from the player, the team and the crowd. A few minutes later, he combined with Sergi to get on the end of a through ball from Sawyers (and when he does those, he does them so so well), to go around Lewis Price. With the former Bee scrabbling around in the mud, the King of Spain was as cool as you like to stroke it home.

Cue mayhem of an unprecendented style. Cue tears of regret from those who left early.

Even now, Sunday morning, I still have a huge smile on my face at the resultant celebration. An outpouring of pure joy. And that was just Jota. Truly, we are blessed to have such a talent in our team. It was a privilege to be part of that moment.

What a wonderful, wonderful man and yet, what incredible enthusiasm. Even Dean Smith told Billy Reeves at full time that the player had received a round of applause on entering the dressing room.

Aswell as the goal video (up on Sky now ; Beesplayer now below) do listen to BBC Billy’s interview with Dean. It’s interesting to hear his acknowledgement of our own improvement points from this one aswell, of course, as his own admiration for the super Spaniard and his “great balance” .

Fantastic Jota gets his first hat-trick for the Bees

What else can you say about this one?

Well, the club have rightly paid huge notice to the 50 year anniversary of QPR trying their little stunt and the incredible effort involved by supporters and players like in thwarting this. We’ve had all the build up to this game whilst on the day there was that wonderful banner and of course, the minute’s applause on the 67th minute. The timing of Rotherham’s equaliser proving somewhat unfortunate and one of those rare instances where there was more clapping from the home side than the visitors after an way goal had been scored. Only Brentford.

Equally, another big nod of recognition is due to Mark Chapman. This season’s match day programme has been given due credit on these pages before and likewise, the piece of work he and the team put together for yesterday’s game needs proper recognition. If you haven’t got one yet, do drop into the club shop to see if you can get your hands on a copy. It is well, well worth a look about an event that is such an important part of our history. There’s more than just QPR, though. Come for the history lesson; stay for the interview with Chris Wickham.

But we can only finish, once more, by offering a huge cyber hug to Jota. What a way to finish a game. What a way to grab a hat trick. What a way to pull Brentford out of the fire. What a way to send the fans home so very, very happy.

What a way to stick two fingers up to all those at Loftus Road.

Muchas Gracias to the king.

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Nick Bruzon