Tag Archives: Russell Slade

“Thrilled for Woods” as Brentford beat Leeds United whilst Birmingham City learn their 10 times table.

5 Nov

Thrilled for Woods”. Not my words but those used by one New Road observer outside The Griffin last night to summarise a wonderful 3-1 win for Brentford over Leeds United. And with a Birmingham City side featuring Harlee Dean going down 2-0 at Barnsley, it means the Bees are now ten points and ten places better than the Blues in the current Championship table.

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View from the Braemar – Ryan Woods and team mates also thrilled

But enough about Birmingham City. For now. Brentford deserve all the attention as the unbeaten run moves to 9 games – a period which saw us notch up a fifth win with Leeds United put to the sword in as one sided an encounter as you could hope to see. But for a brief period in the second half when the scores were levelled up, our illustrious opponents barely got a look in.

By that point the game should have been out of sight. Neal Maupay had given us an early lead, heading home after twenty minutes following a complete howler from goalkeeper Andy Lonergan. Going to gather a Barbet cross, he got his hands to the ball before spilling it straight in front of the lurking Frenchman. There was no be no (second) mistake. 1-0 and cruising.

So comfortable was it that the Bees could even afford to miss a penalty (plus ça change) on the stroke of half time. Ollie Watkins firing high into the away support after Maupay was adjudged to have been felled in the box. No matter, going in a goal up and dominant, surely we’d learn the lessons from early season and continue to turn the screw?

Alas not. With Leeds clearly coming back into it, Dan Bentley made an almost like for like repeat of Lonergan’s earlier faux pas. The only difference being our man didn’t even get his hands to the ball and that was it. 1-1 and game on Leeds United. Yet unlike earlier in the season there was to be no capitulation. Quite the opposite.

Rather than struggle though the rest of the game, the Bees kept going and going. The magnificent Yoann Barbet, as unlikely a successor to Sam Saunders as one could expect, eventually restored the lead with five minutes to go. His free kick going low into the corner from the toughest of angles outside the box. And with Brentford fans still celebrating , the best was yet to come.

Ryan Woods, who had been pulling strings all evening, fired home a quite exquisite shot from outside the box for our third. Mokotjo picking out the midfielder perfectly and the Ginger Pirlo stroked it home with one touch. A laser guided rocket of a shot and all the more impressive for striking a ball coming straight to him without even needing to take an initial touch . Just beautiful.

In truth it could, and should, have been more. The penalty aside, Leeds were twice saved by the woodwork in the second half. First Watkins and then Nico Yennaris rattling the crossbar from distance. Does Nico shoot from anywhere else? Do check out the internet highlights – whether on Sky now  or later in the day when Mark Burridge’s version is released.

Official highlights are now up

The only downside was an injury to Andreas Bjelland who failed to appear for the second half. Like the absent Henrik Dalsgaard, his appearance for Denmark over International break in that World Cup qualifier potentially now in question. On the plus side, another chance for Chris Mepham to come on and impress. Again.

What else can you say about this one?  Well, the spirit in the Bees camp seems as positive as ever. Certainly judging by the post match banter on Twitter. What a delightful change from those accursed promises that “We go again“.

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Likewise, the onetime ‘curse of the cameras’ now seemingly something that been confined to the wastebin of history. The Bees can’t seem to lose when we are on TV these days. No bad thing with a televised trip to QPR coming up later this month and then ‘that’ game with Aston Villa in December. Hmmmm.

But that’s for then. For now, lets enjoy the moment. What an evening and what a finish – both to the game and for Ryan.

It wasn’t just that aforementioned observer who was thrilled for Woods but all of us. You could see what that goal meant to him and the fans. What a wonderful moment of celebration at Griffin Park and what a privilege to be part of it.

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Ryan and fans enjoy the moment

As for Birmingham City……

Harlee Dean can’t imagine how his nonsensical claim about them being ten times better than his former team mates has further galvanised Brentford and added to our momentum. Like Russell Slade’s moan that “They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”, it is something that will go down in Brentford legend.

Like Slade’s moan, could it inspire us to make further history? The table certainly suggests that the Bees are on the up.

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The table doesn’t lie

Nick Bruzon

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In Matthew we trust. Whatever happens over the next two weeks.

15 Jan

Newcastle United left Griffin Park with all three points last night and nobody can deny them that. They scored twice. Brentford scored once. Newsflash: that’s how football works. Yet even in defeat, I woke up this morning (duh-duh-duh-duh-duhh) full of positivity. As, it would seem, have the vast majority of those out in cyberspace. This, despite losing a game and the prospect of our star man on his way to West Ham/other after Dean’s strange decision in regards to team selection.

Thoughts on that were published in yesterday evening’s post match article. Worth a look purely for the ever eloquent views of Bernard Quackenbush in the comment’s section. And Bernard, if you are reading, then that special guest slot remains yours should you ever want to go ‘full fat’ on the column (not a euphemism).

Looking across Facebook and Twitter (other sources are also available) there is a lot of pride out there today at how well Brentford played. There is huge recognition of how well Lasse Vibe performed up top. Perhaps the immediate answer for when Scott is sold is sitting right under our noses. There is huge regret at the fact that Jota couldn’t quite complete his moment of magic in the 90th minute.

If not for the well deserved point that we would have scored but the sheer and unadulterated moment of mutual celebration that the 10,000 home supporters would have shared. Jota. In the last minute. After the Bees had been knocking on the door all second half. Just imagine the sheer ecstasy had he found the back of the net in such circumstances…

Even Mark Burridge has posted on facebook this morning to say that the game, “Was a pleasure to commentate on, Marcus, Mick and I really enjoyed it….had the last minute Jota goal happened then I feel the stadium would have erupted.”

Eruption probably the understatement of the decade.

So it is a morning of regret. But lovely regret. Disappointment yet in the nicest way. Honestly, I’m struggling to explain it properly. We lost. It’s normally the cause for a moan about not creating enough chances and, had we, then things might have been different. But yesterday we played. And we played so well. No pressure Dean, but a bar has been raised after outperforming the league leaders for huge periods.

As for Scott Hogan, well I’ve see some nonsense out there today. He didn’t come out for the second half. He didn’t warm up, his attitude sucks. Allegedly. Utter garbage.

If you want bad attitude then look at Dimitri Payet or Diego Costa. Scott has done nothing but carry on doing his thing when selected. Just look at the Birmingham game when rumours had long been gathering. You can’t blame the player for the manager’s decisions to declare him available, to not start him and then to not bring him off the bench.

We’ll sell him at some point, no question. But once the price is right. Standing outside The Griffin yesterday evening, Matthew Benham and his family walked past. “Don’t sell Hogan…” shouted one supporter . “Unless the price is right” , added another.

The response was immediate: “I’m holding out”. Anybody thinking they’ll get a cut price deal might do well to remember this isn’t the Brentford of old.

We’ll reinvest, but once the players are right (Hello? Operator? Can I have the number for Norwich City please?)  The likes of Tom Field, who had another great game yesterday, and Josh Clarke have already shown we have strength within the deeper squad. Chris Mepham has now had his debut whilst Jota is back and Rico Henry has still to show us what he can do. Alan Judge gets closer to fitness each day although perhaps that is a dream too far? Or is it?

One thing Matthew has shown is he loves to surprise us. Who would ever have thought Marcello Trotta would return after the rarely mentioned penalty incident? Yet return he did as he not only won back the fans after the lowest of lows but his goals then inspired us to that wonderful promotion.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”. Not my words but those of Russell Slade after that incredible Lunchtime at Leyton Orient. Trotta scored the winner that day yet, but for Mathew’s shock decision, we’d never have seen him in Brentford colours again. But for Matthew’s decision who knows what might have happened that season?

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Marcello – Matthew brought him back despite everything

Whatever happens with Scott Hogan, anybody doubting the player’s attitude should probably take a step back. Anybody doubting that a decision made will be for the long term good of the club and the team might want to consider how the side has ebbed, flowed and transformed over the years.

Co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, made that famous quote back in September 2015, telling supporters that “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window”. Being honest, it has never quite felt as though we are stronger in the immediate short term yet this team and this squad keep going.

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Perhaps this is as much through long term injury. As Andre Gray was doing his thing, Scott was undergoing that long, long recuperation. Imagine a team with those two together?  Now we have Rico Henry and Lewis Mcleod out for most of the season. Yet this has given others the chance to shine and I can’t imagine Tom Field giving up his place without a fight once the former Walsall man is fit again.

I’m bored of people getting overly critical about the make up of the squad or our long term direction. And that includes myself. How that squad is managed is a different issue altogether but Dean Smith showed yesterday we have players who can do it.

We came close. We lost. But we impressed. Can Dean get us to go one better? Can we get a repeat of our last away performance when we travel to Wigan next weekend? And then there’s the small matter of Chelsea away.

Whoever is picked, it’s a great time to be a Brentford fan. We’re fast approaching our fourth season in the Championship with a wonderful opportunity to cause an incredible cup upset. I’ve said it before but need to say it again. That’s just bonkers. Moreso, for those of us who have been here for sometime.

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Mike Ashley and Cliff Crown yesterday – Brentford now mixing it with the big boys

Anybody who doubts how far we’ve come just needs to look at yesterday’s match day programme. Part one of Mark Chapman’s piece on the failed takeover attempt by QPR is well, well worth a read to remind ourselves of what once might have been.

I disagree with how Dean handled Scott yesterday. A poor decision. One of the B-team should have been recalled. But I admire his trust in Lasse and how good to see that rewarded.

Who knows what will happen over the next two weeks? It might not be pretty. It might not be pleasing. Yet one can only trust in everything that has gone before and the way we are continuing to build for our long term future.

Now, who’s got shovel ? There’s a stadium to build.

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The programme this season has been quality – credit to Mark Chapman

Nick Bruzon

Will Gibraltar get Cold Feet? Are more brackets being served? Can England learn?

6 Sep

With another five days until Brentford travel to Brighton (assuming you are reading this on a Tuesday morning) the Championship’s barren period continues. When the return of TV’s Cold Feet was Monday’s main draw – and tell me, what sort of world do we live in where this can be lauded yet a remake of Are You Being Served so derided? – then it remains for International football to act as our main form of sustenance. Can Gibraltar whet the appetite this evening following the frugal fare served up on Sunday by England?

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The only ‘cold feet’ I’m interested in

Well, it would be fair to say that the bar has been raised. Bitter-rivals Spain filled their shooting boots with an 8-0 humping of Liechtenstein last night. No cold feet here, quite the opposite – the Spaniards were on fire. The only sour note, from a footballing perspective, the failure of all and sundry to correctly note the score as things went to 7(seven) – 0.

Even Brentford club sponsors 888 Sport got it wrong on Twitter, despite that rarest of things -a humorous GIF (see also : memes). Still, at least they had the good grace to later apologise for what, must surely, been an oversight based purely on the excitement of the occasion.  Wales, likewise, picked up where they left off in the Euros. A 4-0 tonking of Moldova proving that Chris Coleman’s boys have lost none of their drive or ambition. Which begs two questions.

Firstly, why couldn’t England ? Instead it was just like watching Mrs Browns Boys. A tedious, repetitive one trick pony which, despite an almost moral obligation to watch not many people were, if we’re being honest, actually enjoying it. A sort of footballing Emperor’s New Clothes.

More importantly, can Gibraltar go one better than a Euro qualifying campaign in which the highlights were almost scoring in Germany and actually scoring in Scotland? That aside, it was a series of brackets and, despite some fierce national pride, an eventual end to Group D with ‘nil points’.

I’m not a (total) idiot. Even England have more chance of lifting the World Cup, or qualifying for it, than the boys from the Rock. Yet the harsh lessons of that qualifying group would have stood them in good stead. And this time around, instead of the likes of Germany, Ireland or Poland, opponents include Cyprus and Estonia.

The fact that my current online bookmaker (used purely for reference purposes) doesn’t even offer Gibraltar a price to win the group is, I am sure, just a glitch in the Internet. Something that will be corrected as they shock all comers at 28/1 to beat Greece this evening.

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Six participants but only five available to bet on

On paper, no chance. I grant you that and can see how, looking in, that’s what you’d expect. Yet minnows have to start somewhere. Just look at the likes of Albania, Turkey and Scotland. And tonight could be that night.

Cast your mind back a few months and to the qualifiers for the Champions League.

Lincoln Red Imps, domestic champions on the Rock, entertained none other than Glasgow Celtic in a second qualifying round first leg tie. Despite Brendan Rodgers  coming out like the love child of Russell Slade and Steve Evans ( please, for the love of God, don’t visualise it) no amount of sour grapes or bluster could disguise the fact that his Bhoys ended the game on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat .

Upsets can happen. Every now and again, result comes along to shock the footballing world. Even if they can’t do it tonight, watching Gibraltar try to beat the odds has got to be a hell of a lot more entertaining than Big Sam’s England or ITV comedy dramas.

Failing that, brackets are 8-1.

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Gibraltar have packed their boots to start World Cup qualifiers

Nick Bruzon 

On a day of on and off-field shock, meet the Liverpool of the Championship.

21 Aug

Early season form. What can you say? Saturday afternoon saw Brentford go down 1-0 to a Rotherham United team who recorded their first win of the campaign. In a game where the stats may tell a different story (see also Liverpool at Burnley, a game in which former Bee Andre Gray could at least provide one meaningful contribution to a somewhat controversial day) we ended up second best. Yet Dean Smith’s team still sit in eighth place on 6 points, level with the Loftus Road mob and a Newcastle United side who have started to rack up the points. Finally.

That said, our head coach has made that  most awkward of comments at full time, saying : “The better team lost on the day but that’s football sometimes.” No, Dean. No. Don’t believe the manual.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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A coaching manual, yesterday

 

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That Burnley game last season

 

Nick Bruzon

As Ipswich visit Brentford, Charlton go mad and Solo goes home.

13 Aug

Finally. Match day at Griffin Park. Brentford entertain Ipswich Town with the smart money wondering just which of our players they’ll attempt to break this time around (hey, we may aswell get it out early). Charlton Athletic, already as popular as a Mexican at Donald Trump rally, have ‘gone again’ whilst, with Lasse Vibe continuing his quest for Olympic gold, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has done her very best to make events at the Valley seem (relatively) sane.

First up though, we can only start with the Bees where Ipswich Town are the first visitors to Griffin Park in 2016/17. It would be fair to say that Brentford very much ended with the advantage over Ipswich last time around.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

 

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other pubs are available too

 

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Nick Bruzon

Ronaldo an Ice, Ice Baby as Manchester United invoke the cringe factor. Again

15 Jun

What a wonderful night at the EUROs. As England and Wales fans combined to see off further Russian hooligans with nothing more than chanting, everybody’s favourite underdog Iceland achieved the double feat of earning their first ever point – against Portugal – whilst simultaneously forcing Cristiano Ronaldo to channel his inner Russell Slade. And whilst Brentford news remains practically nonexistent, back home at least we have Manchester United and Wayne Rooney to keep things ‘interesting’ as the Old Trafford club have launched their latest movie crossover.

First up, and briefly, England. With the game against Wales taking place tomorrow (Thursday) supporters have come under attack from Russian thugs again. This time, along with Welsh counterparts as fans of both nations were enjoying drinks together. Updates all over Twitter suggest that the trouble was broken up quickly with the home nations reacting no more than by singing “F**k off, Russia” at their attackers.

Like many, I’ve an anxious feeling about how this is going to play out. I understand from THE man on the spot, Brentford supporter Billy Grant (whose first video has now topped a million YouTube hits) that their next blog should be out imminently. It will be very interesting to hear what the Beesotted boys have to say about the latest. Keep ‘em peeled.

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You’ve dropped something. This pic did the rounds last night

OK. Iceland. What a night . What a result. With many people tipping Portugal to go all the way, a spirited performance from a nation who had almost a tenth of their entire population in the stadium had people all over Europe cheering as the game ended 1-1.

Despite a horrendous volley of puns from the BBC, “An eruption of form”, “The main geezer” (that one was Lineker) and “Iceland are used to the Northern lights. Ronaldo is used to the limelight”, they managed to hold firm. Even a Ronaldo free kick from the heart of Saunders territory in the final moments was able to be kept out.

Best of all though, they managed to upset Cristiano Ronaldo. Massively. In a demonstration that,once again, stats don’t win football matches (apart from ‘balls in the back of the net’) he gave a post match press conference that was part  40% Steve Evans and 60 % Russell Slade.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup”. Words that every Brentford fan will recall after that win over Leyton Orient. Russell Slade’s outburst lives on in the memory and came flooding back last night as the Portuguese peacock told reporters, “I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end, it was unbelievable.”

He then turned ‘Steve Evans’ as he noted, “They scored a goal, they created two chances in the 90 minutes, and otherwise they got every player behind the ball. They put the bus in the net.”

Yes Cristiano. And still you couldn’t beat them. Fantastic work, Iceland. Here’s to seeing your journey continue.

Next up. Manchester United. We’ve already talked on these pages about their ‘media partnership’ that seen them now involved in film promotion. Hey, I suppose they’ve had to do something whilst not winning those trophies.

The X-men spin off, which also involved them body-painting their child mascots blue, was a start. An awful start. So bad it was kind of compelling.

Wayne Rooney. Compelling

As noted previously, Rooney’s wooden exclamation of “Bloody Hell” isn’t in the same ball park as Cantona’s “Au Revoir” or men like Figo who never give in to grey (“still got it”). But compared to the ‘proper’ actors around him, dreadfully trying to crowbar the names of his Manchester United team mates into a ‘scene’ from the new movie, Wayne came across with the gravitas of Morgan Freeman.

Now it’s my turn to say “Bloody Hell”. They’ve only gone and done it again. This time for Independence Day: Resurgence . The original film from 1996, an easy entrant into my top 10 of all time. So utterly bad it’s stunningly brilliant . I am as keen to see the sequel as I am to find out just what Kitman Bob has in store for next season’s Brentford shirt.

This time around, Wayne doesn’t get to hog the limelight. Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, “It’s pronounced Blind” (not sure that works so well here – perhaps watch the video) and others get to chew the scenery with Jeff Goldblum.

Oh, my. It’s awful. Just so, so bad. Beyond cringeworthy and into the territory of having to watch from behind the sofa. Truly, toecurling stuff. Yet at the same time, I might just have to watch it once more.

I can’t wait for the next one

I’m glad I’m not Blind

Nick Bruzon

Plug time :  With the Brentford tumbleweed continuing, the most I can do is guide you to where The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.

Russell, Slayed (by Welsh Dragon). Another one bites the dust

4 Jun

Controversial owner? Dugout equipped with an ejector seat to assist in jettisoning the manager ? Not Brentford – things are relatively stable at Griffin Park and Matthew Benham is a legend. But the same can’t be said elsewhere. Yesterday saw Cardiff City follow Leeds United in replacing a cult favourite as Russell Slade departed

Earlier this week we got the sad news that Elland Road head honcho Massimo Cellino had given Steve Evans the ‘thumb down’ and exercised his regular right to change head coach. Whatever Leeds United supporters think about the situation, it is a massive shame for Brentford fans who will be deprived of those wonderful press conferences that only Evans could give.

Packed with more sour grapes than a cocktail of ‘past its sell by date’ value brand lambrini and liebfraumilch (and often sounding like he had consumed too much of it, such was the nonsense spouted) you can’t deny these were colourful events. He was good for a quote, that’s for sure, and certainly wore his heart on his sleeve.

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Our artist’s impression of Cellino doing the usual

Possibly the only manager in the Championship to match this intensity was Russell Slade at Cardiff City. Those of us with an eye on the news will know that owner Vincent Tan had already replaced him as the Welsh club’s manager last month, moving the former Leyton Orient boss into a ‘head of football’ role.

Now, just 28 days later, itis all over. Slade has left the club altogether and, with it, in all likelihood the Championship. Charlton Athletic are currently being touted as a possible destination although having just left the clutches of one alleged crackpot would he want to walk straight into the chilling embrace of another ?

That’s his decision, of course. I take no pleasure from seeing anybody lose their job. Genuinely, like Steve Evans, I’ll miss the chance to cross swords with Russell Slade this coming season. Nobody could deny they weren’t wonderful occasions.

They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup” he so famously said after Brentford had beaten Leyton Orient to move ahead in the race for promotion to the Championship  back in March 2014.

It is a line that has never been forgotten and inspired everything from my own first ‘season review’ to those famous Beesotted trophies. Indeed, I have good reason to believe one of these may have made it directly into the hands of Mr Slade himself…

The Championship is going to be a quieter place with out the likes of Slade and Evans in her press conferences and dugouts.

Let’s hope that both are back soon.

Nick Bruzon

For more ‘Last Word’ reading, today we’ve also got a special guest column from regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush. Given his thoughts and views on the refereeing upheaval that awaits next season.

You can read that here

Slade flame FA Cup

Slade in flames – the Welsh dragon has roared

 

 

Incoming. Do we have incoming as Cup final more than delivers?

22 May

Well, that was a day. Manchester United and Mark Clattenburg beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup whilst North of the border, former Bees boss Mark Warburton saw his Rangers side go down to Hibernian in the Scottish equivalent. As for the main news, it would seem we have incoming at Brentford – Matthew Benham has fired up the cryptic clue generator once more.

But I need to start with the FA Cup final, simply because it had the footballing community gripped. And, as is so often the case, it was what happened off the pitch that provided many of the talking points. Certainly for the so called ‘neutrals’ – although how many can ever be neutral in a game involving Manchester United remains to be seen. Of those I spoke to, most were cheering on Goliath rather than David in the hope that Crystal Palace could lift that famous trophy.

Where do you start ? Alan Pardew’s dancing, surely. With Jason Puncheon giving Palace a deserved lead his manager couldn’t help but launch into an touchline routine as he channelled his inner John Travolta. And it was bad. Like the worst of dad at a wedding after a few too many beers. More Alan Partridge than Alan Pardew.

Yet who am I to criticise? If you win it makes you even more of a hero and adds to the moment. There can’t be too many managers to have seen their side take the lead in an FA Cup final and so fairplay to him for enjoying the moment. Even if it was, almost literally, a moment as United equalised within minutes.

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BBC viewers saw Alan Pardew in ‘wedding mode’

If nothing else, it is something that is sure to go down in Cup history like Trevor Brooking’s header (apparently, he scored once and West Ham won the cup), Chas and Dave, Radford’s rocket (yawn) and the White Horse.

I hadn’t realised this but apparently Palace and Manchester United had met in the Cup Final before. Back in 1990. I was out of the room at one point getting a drink but I’m pretty sure I came back just in time to hear that fact mentioned.

And then again. And again. And again. The BBC had a crowbar and they were going to use it. I had ‘1990‘ on my FA Cup bingo card (along with ‘Fellaini elbow‘ – which took longer than expected) more as a token gesture than anything else. Sure enough, the BBC obliged.

We had the obligatory feature with Ian Wright during the build up. Specifically revisiting the estate he grew up on and the patch of grass where he played football as a youngster. I’m sure we’ve seen variants of this before, many times, but it’s still such an inspirational story. I loved the fact the BBC had gone ‘old school’ and, like last year, had a whole series of final related shows and features starting about five hours before kick off.

Ah yes, before kick off.  When the players should have been walking onto the pitch proceedings were delayed as the FA Cup tried to go ‘Super Bowl’ – but on a budget of 50p. Instead of the Rolling Stones or Coldplay (thank heavens for small mercies) , we had Tinie Tempah bouncing around a purpose built stage on the centre circle.

Perhaps this delay was the reason for the subsequent ‘sound malfunction’ with the National Anthem. What a moment in any singer’s career. With the eyes of the world watching, this was her time to shine.

Yet  as the band started, former X-Factor contestant Karen Harding stood motionless, clutching the microphone to her waist and waiting for I don’t know what. “Has she forgotten to sing?” asked Mrs. Bruzon on the sofa next to me.

To be honest, I don’t know what happened. Stage fright? Abject terror? Brain freeze? Or just missed her cue? Even if there had been an issue with her earpiece, would the fact that there were 100,000 people in the stadium singing not have been a clue?

I guess we’ll never know the real reason. Karen joined the rest of us in time to sing the last 9 (nine) words. Like Pardew’s dancing, it was another moment that will be written into the FA Cup’s already voluminous history.

She got there in the end

As for the game, Jesse Lingard’s extra time winner was a goal to light up any Cup Final (Boom – the sound of another cliche going off). It was a wonderful strike to give United the lead after Juan Mata had hauled them back into it, courtesy of some brilliance from Wayne Rooney.

The X-men actor and England man revelling in his midfield position as he provided a stunning assist for the equaliser. Rooney’s name may not have been on it but his strength and purpose as he worked with the ball for what seemed an eternity deserve genuine recognition.

Mata’s equaliser had the additional bonus of meaning BBC coverage over ran further and, as a result, saw the subsequent cancellation of the alleged comedy ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’. It was only a shame that the same privilege couldn’t be extended to Michael McIntyre following full time.

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Mrs Brown – thanks Wayne and Juan

The other person needing special mention was referee Mark Clattenburg. Twice in the first half he stopped proceedings and denied Palace genuine goal scoring opportunity, instead bringing the ball back for their ‘advantage’. Once was bad enough but to do it a second time had even Alan Pardew making note.

The irony of former referee Mark Halsey’s comments last year that Clattenburg should have had the 2015 final were not lost. At the time he was quoted on the BBC as saying:

I’m amazed that they’ve not given him the final…

“I would imagine that Jon Moss will feel a little bit sheepish that he doesn’t really deserve it and Mark Clattenburg does.”

“How many times has Mark done massive games? He’s done the Uefa Super Cup this year, big Champions League games and earned plaudits. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, Mark. There’s your answer.

At the end of the day (Clive), Manchester United won it. You can’t deny them their moment and, certainly, they celebrated like they’d just beaten Leyton Orient (Russell? Russell?? Russell……?). Players, fans and management were ecstatic. Understandably so.

Likewise, congratulations must be offered to Louis van Gaal and his team. I’m sure they’ll both grow from here and the Dutchman will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Now he has a first trophy under his belt, his stock is sure to be rising with the Old Trafford board.

As for matters North of the border, Hibernian beat Rangers 3-2 to lift the Scottish cup. Sadly it wasn’t quite to be for Mark Warburton although I’m sure he’ll be more than happy with a season that has seen his team promoted to the top flight.

David Gray scored a late winner for Hibs which, aswell as sparking a post match pitch invasion / riot (delete as applicable) also saw our own Matthew Benham launch the cryptic clue generator once more.

Matthew posting a YouTube video on Twitter is a well known sign in Brentford circles that a new player is about to come to Griffin Park. The only problem with these being that they normally require a doctorate in brain surgery in order to decode – even after you know the answer.

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Matthew posted this on Saturday evening

This one seems remarkably simple. David Gray singing ‘This Year’s love’. Surely there was more to this than Mathew’s intent to sign the Scottish full back?

His clues are never this simple. Sledge hammer like unsubtly just isn’t Matthew’s style.

Could this mark a new approach from our owner?  Transfer news being announced by a clue that even yours truly can unravel? Or is there a hidden message in there ?

I’ve not got the time to decipher David’s lyrics to try and find out whilst, being honest, nor would I want to. It’s for good reason the ‘Babylon’ singer is currently residing in popular music’s ‘Where Are They Now?’ files

As ever with Matthew, I’m sure the answer isn’t what it seems at first glance. It could be as simple as his having had a bet on Hibs to win the cup.

Then again, I’ll have my eyes on Brentford official this Monday. Just in case…..

And finally, as ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download.  Should anybody want to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more then you can do so now.

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

Thank you for reading.

Nick Bruzon 

Sex, pies and audiotape (there’s no sex. or audio)

20 Apr

Like many Brentford fans, I was buzzing when I got home last night. A 2-1 win over Cardiff City had seen Scott Hogan add a further brace to Saturday’s last minute equaliser against Bristol City. The Bees had made it 13 points from 15 and the Last word, high on the delights of victory, had gone up early. Now it’s time to (apologies) go again as we round up the other bits and pieces from Tuesday.

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A fine win but what else happened ?

First up, Broadcast Moose. Anybody who read the post match article would have seen his comments about Russell Slade refusing to talk to him after the game. My gut reaction was that the Cardiff manager was exhibiting yet more of the sour grapes that he seems to have reserved for the Bees.

I’m pretty sure there was something mentioned about an FA Cup once whilst he was hardly full of praise when guesting on the Football League show that season. Mind you, if I’d been the victim of Manish repating the “Slade at Christmas” joke (wonderful once, woeful a second time) then I might feel a tad irritated.

Now, I’m not looking to defend Slade. Like Steve Evans, he cultivates a personality (at least, with fans) that is one of a bullish and outspoken manager. Reap what you sow. Behind closed doors he may be a lovely chap. I just don’t know, sadly. And I say sadly because I have it on good authority that at least one of Beesotted’s wonderful FA Cups made it into his direct ownership last season. Did he laugh, cry, store it up in the back of his mind? Who knows? But I digress.

Having cultivated this personality he’s there to be shot down and last night’s whine from Moose was, on the surface, such an opportunity .

Yet, Yet, Yet. Having slept on it , something doesn’t sit quite right.

I’m not too proud to admit I lay in bed last night, thinking about Russell Slade (and I hope to God my wife isn’t reading today). Or, more specifically, and probably even worse, Broadcast Moose. Hey, at least it wasn’t Jeff Stelling.

I may not know much about football’s inner workings but I do know that managers normally speak to the press and give some form of post-match conference. Sure enough, checking News Now he certainly appears to have spoken to journalists, with various pieces now online that detail his comments. For example, Sky Sports have quoted him as saying, “We lacked that clinical finish in the first half when we had total control. In the second we lost it a bit, they became a threat on the counter and we defended poorly”.

So what’s Moose’s beef? He was, as ever (yawn) banging on about the state of the catering during the game – a routine that is about as endearing as being forced to watch the season’s opener of ‘Football League Tonight on an infinite loop. Whilst Kelly and George have, thankfully, upped their game, Moose hasn’t changed the record.

But putting the pies to one side, what was really bugging me is  – why would Slade treat him like this?

Surely in the press area he’d have no choice but to answer the questions? Surely if one journalist had been singled out for a snubbing then this would have been more widely reported?

I don’t know what happened for sure – or where this contretemps actually took place. That, something Mr. Moose has failed to mention whilst making his quite provocative comments, including: “What a bad loser Russell Slade has become….,tonight point blank refused to do a post match interview….Mr Slade could only grunt no”

It takes a lot for me to think about Russell Slade as having the moral high ground but I’m just putting it out there for the sake of balance. Russell / Ian, if you are reading…..?

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Moose – at least he was happy about the pies

As for the rest of last night. Peter Gilham wins the award (should one exist) for moment of the evening, or at least half time, after exhibiting more of that deadpan brilliance for which he is so loved. Whilst talking about the opportunity for fans to get involved in the club’s social media, he mentions “Snapchat”, paused for a moment and then added, “Whatever that is.

Peter, I’m with you .

Toumani, He’s done it again. Again. After getting his second Leeds United goal at the weekend against Reading, least night he took his total to three, grabbing their second in a 2-1 win over Wolves. Whilst I was desperately sad to see Toumani go, I’m thrilled to bits for him that the floodgates are now opening. That said, I know I’m not alone in taking this ‘personally’ after such a long wait! Leeds fans must have now “been on the pitch” (metaphorically speaking) more times than the average episode of Dragon’s Den.

And finally, I couldn’t end without further mention of Scott Hogan. Or, specifically Matthew Benham and our head of medical, Neil Greig. Without their investment of faith in the player (not to mention financially or in terms of time) there’s no way we’d be celebrating his goal scoring prowess this week.

It would have been so easy to pay up his contract and let him go. Not Brentford. We’ve always treated our injured players well and boy is that being rewarded now.

Congratulations to Scott, of course. But huge thanks to Matthew and Neil.

Nick Bruzon

Russell, Slayed…. Get over it

19 Apr

Brilliant Brentford have done it again. Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Cardiff City saw Dean Smith’s side make it 13 points from 15 over April whilst all but ending the visitor’s play off aspirations. But it was less the win and more the performance of super sub Scott Hogan that saw supporters leaving Griffin Park with genuine spring in the step.

Nobody needs any reminding of the interminable fight back from injury that Scott has endured these last two seasons. Yet that all seemed a distant memory as he came off the bench to equalise against Bristol City on Saturday afternoon. Exciting though it had been , it was merely the aperitif for what came tonight.

Not one but, this time, two goals for Scott in just 14 minutes as he rescued things once more for the Bees. The first a close range tap in after Barbet had hit the bar (bet?) whilst the second saw him latch on to Lasse Vibe’s pass to double the lead with a beautiful finish from a tight angle.

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View from the terrace – Scott and Nico celebrate the opener

Despite a last minute consolation for Cardiff, the points were secure and mean that Scott has now scored three times in his last 32 minutes of League football. Just to put that into perspective, it’s one more than Nick Proschwitz managed all of last season and just two behind Northern Ireland International Will Grigg’s total for 2013/14.

Peter Gilham announced the goals over the p.a. system with similar exuberance to that on Saturday. I thought he was going to explode on the second, such was his excitement. Hey, had Scott got the hat-trick I think our man with the mic would have been celebrating like he’d won the FA Cup

More importantly though, the partnership he is forming with Lasse really is one to savour. Oh to see how they play together once Scott has regained his full match fitness.

Did Brentford deserve it tonight? Absolutely. Whilst Cardiff had the slightly better of a first half that Dean Smith would later describe, somewhat politely in my opinion, as “dismal”, it was the Bees who created the better chances the second period.

Lasse Vibe, clean through, had the very best of these. With just Marshall in the Cardiff goal to beat he squared it to Woods who, with just Marshall in the Cardiff goal to beat, returned it to his team mate. The momentum was lost and the chance smothered.

Still, as it transpired, this Chuckle Brothers tribute act didn’t matter. On a surreal night that saw everything from low flying herons over Griffin Park (not, as one terrace  observer thought, a seagull suffering from gigantism) to a post match hissy fit from Cardiff’s keeper,  two goals and three points that were all that mattered.

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View from the terrace – City down and out after the second

Honourable mention must also go to Josh Clarke. He gave a very assured and confident display standing in for Maxime Colin. With James Ferry on the bench for the Bristol game and Reece Cole being given a similar honour tonight, it says a lot about the Bees youth system that these players are now coming through.

City manager Russell Slade was his usual curmudgeonly self after the game.  Reporter Ian Abrahams (aka Broadcast Moose) subsequently took to Twitter where he noted: What a bad loser Russell Slade has become, friendly as anything in his Orient days,tonight point blank refused to do a post match interview.Always sad to report when someone you think you know, you really don’t know at all, shame as Cardiff’s press team are so helpful & friendly.Mr Slade could only grunt no to me when I asked if he’d speak to me. Get over it Russell even the very best lose games at times.

Still, that’s their problem. Maybe there’d been a fight over the pies but it showed that, just as at Leyton Orient two years ago, Brentford had got one over the baseball cap sporting manager once again.

And doesn’t it feel good ? Like celebrating as though we’d won the…..

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BBC Billy celebrates the moment 🙂

Nick Bruzon