Tag Archives: Saddlers

Tin foil ready? The FA Cup third round is huge in our house. Could this be our year?

6 Jan

The FA Cup third round is upon us as Brentford host Notts County. Infact, it has already begun although any lingering thoughts about being able to watch Friday night’s game between Liverpool and Everton were extinguished as quickly as they arose. Only one person rules the remote in our house and suffice to say: 1) It isn’t me, and 2) Jamie Oliver’s Friday night food thingy was on at the same time as James Milner and Virgil van Dijk were doing their thing at Anfield.

But that was then and this is now. Nothing is going to get in the way of the big one at Griffin Park this afternoon. With last year’s cup ‘run’ ending somewhat underwhelmingly at Chelsea, could today be a springboard for bigger and better things?

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Another Wembley dream continues today

I’m not going to pretend I was overly disappointed about missing out on the Liverpool game (he says, grabbing the crowbar), given my own thoughts on the TV selections which you can read in today’s copy of BEES – available on the forecourt and around the ground.

Besides, I’ve also got a lot to thank Jamie Oliver for. He is directly responsible for my own getting married to the ever understanding football widow Mrs B. Although that’s a story as convoluted as the naked photo shoot with Graham Norton and probably best left for another time.

But whereas Friday was nothing more than a passing interest in Everton attempting to upset the odds, today is totally different. It is as much about progression for our beloved Brentford as it is in erasing a personal ghost from the past (not Jamie Oliver).

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Jamie Oliver (right) – has his moments. Not many, but….

Daddy? Why did Brentford play rubbish and why did the trophy end up in the bin after the game?” Not my words but those of four year old HB as we had one of those key chats in father-son life yesterday morning – did he want make a tinfoil FA Cup for today’s game?

Whilst there’s only ever one answer to that question, the conversation then moved on to how Daddy Bees have fared over the years and just what happens if we can win just 6 games in this most famous of competitions.

Good questions, son. ‘Bin day’ had been the third round back in January 2016 when relatively new head coach Dean Smith came up against his former side Walsall at Griffin Park. Like Notts County today, they were divisionally lower than us and like our visitors today, the Bees were hot favourites. At least to those, looking in. If ever there had been a potato skin waiting for us to slip up on here it was. Brentford duly obliged.

From an early morning high of Bacofoil based cup construction and optimism about potential fourth round opponents, a passionate visiting support and Saddlers’ team who had more than a point to prove left our dreams crushed. Our replica trophies in the bin. Could Notts County do the same today?

FA Cup day walsall

Third round day 2016 had started so well. The ending was rubbish.

Well, go into this game with anything less than full focus and it could well happen. Dean Smith has already promised changes although those players likely to come in have more than enough first team experience between them. Josh Clarke will surely return. Could Alan Judge start? Neal Maupay up front? Josh McEachran and Lewis Macleod in the middle? Luke Daniels between the sticks? There’s Flo Jo and a certain Emiliano Marcondes lined up to make his debut. Could it be today? How much will Dean rotate or could his press conference proclamation simply be an attempt to throw Notts County off the scent.

He used yesterday’s build up to note that “We will patch the players up as best we can for Saturday and we have others wanting minutes. We will go in to the game to try and win it. We will make some changes but that is more to do with players being spent after what they have put in over the past four games.

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Passionate away support can be key – as we’ve learned

Not entirely unexpected given the huge exertions we’ve been through in the league over the last two weeks. At least due reward was given there. And at least Dean further acknowledged that, “Notts County will be a potential banana skin for us. They will be very tough. They have done fantastically this season. They have good, experienced players, we have to make sure there is no complacency and play to our strengths.”

Whatever happens today, I just want our boys to give it their all. Whomever starts, I DO expect to win. The again, I always expect to win regardless of the opposition ! We limped out at Chelsea last season where, despite the obvious calibre of our opponents, no real attempt to even try and go for it was made. Brentford sat back and paid the ultimate price. The tie was less a banana skin for Chelsea and more a delicious peanut butter and banana sandwich served up for our hosts to enjoy en-route to the final.

Losing to Walsall and Chelsea both hurt. Yet as much for it being another year until we get the chance to ‘go again’ in the Cup. Well now that chance is on us and I can’t wait. Roll on 3pm when it all starts once more.

See you there.

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Buzzette – up for the cup

Nick Bruzon

There’s a Euro crisis looming in June (but not for Scotland).

20 May

Close season. With the play offs almost over, us Brentford fans are fast entering ‘thumb twiddle’ time as a long summer approaches. Thankfully (you’d think) we’ll have the Euros… Closer to home there’ll be no reacquaintance for Dean Smith and Walsall after the Saddlers went down 6-1 to Barnsley whilst talk of league restructure has a lot of supporters in a panic. But we’ll save that one for another day – there are equally important issues to discuss.

Never let it be said that ‘The Last Word’ isn’t afraid to get to the heart of the day’s weighty issues. And they don’t come any bigger than ‘Emojis’ – those little graphics inserted into, and at the end, of tweets, texts and ‘WhatsApp’  messages. Usually involving Bees, emoticons and steaming dog poos.

It’s a HUGE emoji gap not having the 4 UK countries. Surely needs sorting out – especially for the Euros this summer.”

They aren’t my words but those of fellow blogger @TheExiledRobin. The Bristol City supporter posted this shock revelation yesterday morning after a flag based mixed up by cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew involving the flags of the Faroe Islands and England.

Specifically because England don’t have an Emoji. Nor do Wales, Northern Ireland or (not that it will be needed given there is a major tournament) Scotland. Instead, the best available to Apple users is the Union flag. Hardly a suitable replacement for all those comments sure to be flying around cyberspace when the tournament kicks of in anger next month.

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There’s no real choice for the ‘Home’ nations

Come on Apple. Sort it out. Please

I love your phone, even if your headphones have been designed to project the music outwards to fellow train passengers rather than inwards to the ears of the intended listener. Frankly, the 7.54 to Waterloo is painful enough without having B*Witched forced upon the unsuspecting commuter via somebody else’s tinny speakers.

But this lack of home nation flags could cause carnage next month. If Apple supremo Tim Cook is reading (he isn’t) would it be that hard to fix this? And, if you do, please don’t forget to include Scotland. At least we can remind them what they are missing out on.

Talking of ‘missing out’ (once again, a link crowbarred with all the subtly of a Jonathan Douglas tackle), one team we won’t be renewing acquaintances with next season is Walsall. This, after their play-off capitulation to Barnsley.

Who could forget their visit for the FA Cup back in January? Certainly a season’s low point for Brentford and described on these pages as us being, “played off the park after putting in one of the most abject first half displays I can recall for some time” as we went down 1-0.

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The Bees had rubbish afternoon against Walsall in the cup

That said, Dean Smith was able to turn things around. Whatever happened back in that long, dark winter Bees fans had the consolation of going on to finish 9th in the Championship table. That’s 9th. In the Championship.

For Walsall, another season in League One beckons. Whilst I take no pleasure in kicking a team when they are down (genuinely) I couldn’t help but be drawn to the following prediction from @emmbailey95.

I’m sure most fans saw this one doing the rounds already last night. And understandably so. But if you’ve not, then here you go.

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Not my words, but those of…etc etc etc

 

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 again for reading.

Nick Bruzon

Who will be celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup?

9 Jan

FA Cup third round day. Unquestionably THE highlight of the calendar for me. With Brentford due to entertain Walsall, last night’s 2-2 between Exeter City and Liverpool reminded us just how exciting this oldest of cup competitions can still be whilst simultaneously higlighting the perils of picking an under strength team.

Watching Liverpool struggle as they were outplayed by Exeter showed, yet again, that much clichéd entry onto the FA Cup bingo card of ‘David v Goliath’ with a generous sprinkling of ‘cup magic’ on the side. As seems the fashion these days, Jürgen Klopp rotated his squad but almost paid the ultimate price for over tinkering.

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Exeter still have a chance of a trip to North London

So was Dean Smith watching and has he taken heed? If today isn’t in the realms of David v Goliath – Walsall are simply too good to be patronised with any sort of underdog tag – it represents a huge potato skin for the Brentford Head Coach to try and navigate. The Saddlers are flying high at the top end of League One and haven’t allowed our acquisition of their former manager to disrupt the promotion push.

Understandably, feelings on social media suggest this is still somewhat of a sensitive subject and I have no doubt that a sold out away following will make their presence, and feelings, heard. Which is all well and good but I fancy full strength Brentford to give anybody, in any division, a run for their money.

However, with this being the much discussed first of 3 games in 6 days, not to mention the various transfer stories doing the rounds, just how ‘full strength’ will, or can, Dean go?

Well, outside of left back we have viable candidates in pretty much every position. We’ve been promised the strongest team possible but it could swing as much as follows:

Bonham, Bidwell, Yennaris, Dean, O’Connell, McEachran, McCormack, KK, Saunders, Gogia, The Hoff.

Personally, I think we can expect to see all three transfer targets rested and the likes of Sam and Macca given a full run out. The changes won’t be as extreme as highlighted above but, equally, I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than any part of the club ‘inner circle’. At the end of the day (Clive) this is all pure conjecture.

One thing I can be sure about is that, as Liverpool discovered last night, you under estimate anybody at your peril. A lesson that Marinus learned the very hard way in the Capital One Cup humiliation by Oxford United. Certainly, Walsall will be no different and would absolutely love it, Kevin Keegan style, if they could get one over Dean and the Bees.

Whatever the result, today also sees a chance for two of those other cup traditions to raise their heads. And they don’t come any bigger than the tin foil trophy.

The regular reader will know I absolutely love this ritual and despite my age – 45 going on 5 – will be knocking one up later this morning. Fortunately, a last minute decision to switch from turkey to beef for Christmas lunch means we have a surfeit of Bacofoil in the kitchen drawer – much to Mrs. Bruzon’s chagrin.

Well fret no more, Mrs. B. 10metres of the shiny stuff should be enough for a decent effort, And if it’s good enough for Des Lynam then who am I to argue?

Des Lynam FA Cup

Des prepares for the final , back in the day

Second up – ‘other jobs’. TV producers love a ‘minnow’ ™ as it means they can trot out that list of the part-timer’s daytime occupations. “Somehow he manages to fit in training three times a week and a game at weekends with his job as a postman/plumber/firefighter(delete as applicable)”.

All being well this is a situation Brentford will never find themselves in and so one aspect of footballing life that we’ll not have the chance to experience. Much as this makes me a very happy man, a little part of me also wonders…’what if?’. Sam Saunders aside, who we all know used to work on the Underground as an electrician before joining Dagenham, I’m pretty sure the rest of the squad have parachuted directly into football.

Indeed, terrace talk has switched to this very subject at times as we’ve questioned what jobs our team would do if, hypothetically of course, an examination of the books and subsequent financial collapse saw us reborn in the Evo-Stik League Southern as part-timers AFC Brentford.

Well, here’s the answer. Or, at least, one take on it which of course is all just a bit of fun. Sam is in our team, although has moved on to bigger and better things. It’s based on nothing more concrete than a bit of banter and I’ll ask you indulge me formation wise – for no other reason than technological ineptitude meant this was the best way to crowbar it all together.

On the flip side, could we have stumbled across Dean Smith’s starting line up for the afternoon? See you at 3pm when we find out.

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‘Problems’…. ‘Solved’

Nick Bruzon

Walsall, Chelsea and Eastleigh add to FA Cup excitement – even for Brentford

8 Dec

A Christmas party meant I missed the FA Cup third round draw and ‘the big reveal’ as to who ball 7 (seven), Brentford, would be up against. A subsequent, and furtive, check of the Internet revealed a somewhat low-key headline on the BBC website: Arsenal host Sunderland. It was a title that suggested a tepid draw and, after seeing we’d been given a home time against the winner of the Chesterfield / Walsall tie, the phone went back into the pocket until this morning.

That was then. This is now. Having slept on it and reviewed the draw with fresh eyes, I have to say it looks somewhat more exciting than on first glance. Exeter City v Liverpool, Eastleigh v Bolton and Chelsea v Leyton Orient or Scunthorpe all seem made for TV and a potential ‘upset’. They have those classic FA Cup ingredients of an unfancied side hosting a ‘bigger’ team that, on paper or current form, are the candidates for the proverbial giant killing.

Hopefully we’ll be served up one of these rather than the tedium of an Arsenal v Sunderland or Norwich City v Manchester City. The sort of game we get week in, week out on Sky and BT but which the BBC, given their dearth of live games, will be itching to show. Anybody that wants to see that will be there – us ‘regular’ fans will be much more interested in seeing whether the likes of Chelsea or Exeter City can cause an upset and reach the fourth round.

Saunders territory Chelsea

View from the terrace – Chelsea almost came unstuck at Griffin Park in 2013

And then, as ever, we have the subplot at Griffin Park. With Dean Smith having left Walsall to takeover at Brentford last week, the chance to renew acquaintances so soon is the sort of opportunity that only this oldest of cup competitions can throw up. A tie that, at the start of the campaign wouldn’t have got the fans overly excited, suddenly has an additional layer of intrigue.

Who’d have thought two weeks ago that a second round replay between The Saddlers and Chesterfield would have so much interest from all at Griffin Park? If nothing else, it may send our one decent twitter hashtag, #BeeTheDJ, into meltdown. Certainly if this early contender from the weekend is anything to go by.

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A song too far for #BeeTheDJ?

On a more practical note, this does mean we’ll have three home games over a six day period with the visits of Middlesbrough (Tuesday) and Burnley (Friday) immediately afterwards. And if the cup was to go to a replay it raises the prospect of four games in the space of just over a week.

For that reason alone, I’d expect Dean Smith to shuffle his FA Cup pack – regardless of the opposition. But when you have the likes of Sam Saunders, Andy Gogia, Josh McEachran and Jota currently on the bench, that’s no bad thing. Hey, we might even get a chance to see Lewis Macleod by that point (subject to leaf fall).

That said, one can only hope that the lessons from the earlier season debacle in the Capital One Cup have been learned. Marinus Dijkhuizen put together such an inexperienced and rejigged team that we were lucky to escape with just a 0-4 thrashing. From League 2 Oxford United. Three goals down within twelve minutes meant Brentford were, at one point, staring down the barrel of a bracketing.

Using the squad is one thing but this, on a pitch that was very much looking like the Somme despite having hosted less than two hour’s competitive football, was the polar opposite. In retrospect, it’s a miracle Marinus lasted beyond the end of that first week.

Still, that’s all in the past. Things have only moved onwards and upwards. We’ve got a home tie and that, for me, is all you can ask for in the Cup.

The rest is down to Dean and the eleven players he picks to start this one.

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Marinus looked a lone figure as the carnage unfolded against Oxford

Nick Bruzon