Tag Archives: Sam Saunders

We’re all thinking of you, Peter

10 Jul

By now all Brentford supporters will surely have heard the news about Peter Gilham. With the first team on their training camp in France, Peter used the medium of his traditional tour diary over the weekend to share some extremely personal news:

“However as is synonymous with men of my advanced years, PC has reared its ugly head (and I don`t mean political correctness or indeed the local constable) and to help me combat it, I have enlisted a lovely hardworking team of people who know how to go about it. So, daily visits to see them means that I can’t be in two places at once”. 

Anybody with even half an interest in Brentford football club knows Peter. They know how much he has done in the past and how much he continues to do now. How personable, friendly and helpful he is but most of all just how much he is Mr. Brentford. Football’s longest serving ‘man with the mic’, there isn’t a role he hasn’t performed or a supporter whose match day experience hasn’t been enriched by Peter.

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Peter doing what he does best

Every game that goes by features a Peter moment. Whether the customary pre-match high-five with Buzz and Buzzette or those wonderful goal celebrations sponsored by Siracusa. Only a man of Peter’s talents is able to turn what could be cheese into pure gold. Who doesn’t love his proclamation that, “It’s a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock”. The more goals we score, the more excited the announcement becomes.

From time to time he’ll burst into a snatch of ‘Hey, Jude’ before a particularly crunch match/second half. There’s the deadpan commentary to centre-circle challenge whilst, of course, nothing has quite the same ring as his exhorting Brrrennttttt-ffffoooorddd !!!.”

We all love him. And that’s just the fans. Players, staff and former Bees were lining up to wish him well yesterday. Everybody from Harlee to Jota; Sam Saunders to Mark Warburton and beyond. If any proof were needed (it isn’t) about how universally loved Peter is and how a much a part of the fabric of this football club that Peter is, then here it was.

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Just some of those – past and present – thinking of Peter

With his announcement made on Saturday, Sunday gave the impression of being BAU with another wonderful entry from the tour blog. All the squad and staff updates were provided, along with the the images of both Manny Onariase, Luke Daniels, Henrik Dalsgaard and Kamo Mokotjo singing ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls aswell as Kitman Bob Oteng being left open mouthed (Peter’s words) at Cycling’s Team Sky and their mobile laundry.

No doubt Peter will carry on doing what he does. We’ll love it and enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean we won’t stop thinking about him. Peter, get well soon. Please.

You are THE Man when it comes to Brentford FC and you have an entire club, an entire community and an entire footballing family behind you. There’s huge love and best wishes heading your way from yours truly, the supporters and all the players. If you were in any doubt, just sign yourself up to Twitter and take a look.

We’re all thinking of you. Get well soon. See you on August 12th.

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter does his pre-match thing. More of the same against Nottingham Forest, please

Nick Bruzon

Can anything beat last season’s unicorn? The top ten moments of the campaign.

13 May

The season is over. Almost. There’s still the small matter of the play-offs to come but for us Brentford fans, at least, its time to put our feet up and relax. Leave that stress to the likes of Fulham and Reading (who’ll both be back in the Championship next season) and, instead, look back at the campaign just gone by means of a top ten. But not a conventional top ten. There’s no on pitch action.

As such, we’ve no room for discussion about Jota’s sublime goals against Derby County or QPR. Indeed, talking of the not so super hoops, this is a hit parade that has no space for discourse on our double over these near neighbours or the eventual 11 point gap that saw them end he season trailing well in our wake.

Instead, it is a top ten of the different. The unusual. The in-jokes. A top ten where the yardstick was set last season with ‘that unicorn picture’ . But what, if anything, can surpass Antonio Bergasse’s wonderful creation……

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Any excuse to crowbar this one in – love that unicorn

10: Ian Holloway. We can only start with the QPR boss. Specifically the pre-season prediction that he would subsequently go on to deny making. Brentford were regressing. Brentford would be relegated Brentford couldn’t cope without the likes of Andre Gray and Alan Judge. Didn’t we prove the (then) Sky pundit wrong. Instead, it was his own side those words would have been better applied to.

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Pundit Ian Holloway’s words have come back to haunt him

9 Brian Guest. Forgive me one moment of personal indulgence. Or, should I say, forgive my never before seen identical twin brother Brian. A prank that went too far saw the Fulham programme publish, amongst other things: References to the 4-0 defeat at Brentford. Mention of that 4-1 home hammering administered by Stuart Dallas, Alan Judge, Jota et al. The wonderful Michael Jackson statue. The Pizza Hut shirt – a perfect symmetry between sponsor and supporter. Even the Richard Osman / Pointless ’joke’ made it in – along with a picture of Brian wearing the Spall ’87 away shirt.

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8 Josh McEachran. The first of two entries for Josh is one that caused more questions than answers. How many phones does he have? Why does he need so many phone cases? Well, two questions but no answers. Josh, if you are reading (you aren’t) could you shed some light?
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7 Jugde . Just what happened here? Do we have a fan with an almost identical surname to last season’s player of the year? Was it a typo in the club shop that nobody noticed? A bet that went wrong? Jugde was spotted at several away games over the season, wearing his colours with pride. With GetWestLondon getting themselves all excited after Cardiff City away with the revelation that : Brentford fan wears Bees shirt with BREXIT 16 on the back, perhaps their energies would have been better focussed getting to the bottom of this one.

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There are just too many questions

6 Peter Gilham. What can you say about Mr.Brentford? Football’s longest running man-with-the-mic turned an incredible 70 this year. 70?!!  How is that possible? Yet, like a fine wine, he continues to improve with age. And nowhere is this better seen than in his goal announcements which, of course, are sponsored by “A little Italian restaurant. At Brentford lock”.  The more goals Brentford score, the more enthused he becomes. Yet what should be the most cringeworthy and toe curling of sponsorship announcements is already becoming part of club folklore with Peter losing his composure (in the best way) should we score more than one goal in a game.

Peter Gilham with Buzz and Buzzette

Peter, Buzz and Buzzette. The epitome of cool

5 Sergio Canos. The Burton away game, with Brentford turning a round a 3-1 half-time deficit to end it as 5-3 winners, is already the stuff of legend. The archetypal example of football being a game of two halves that saw our hosts snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (to borrow a well used phrase). But just when the afternoon couldn’t get any crazier, none other than man of the moment Sergi Canos popped up at the station alongside the Brentford fans making their way home. As you do. Cue mayhem, chaos and photos galore as he posed with each and every supporter that asked for a snap before embarking on his own train journey.

Sergio does it again. And again. What a man.

4 Big Bob Giveaway (and his April fool). If Peter Gilham is Mr. Brentford, Kitman Bob Oteng is fast carving his own niche into club folklore. An all round ‘good guy’, his BBGiveaway (which sees supporters given the chance to win a player shirt, boots or some other ‘money can’t buy’ prize) is a huge part of our match day ritual. But, with everybody looking out for stories of Jota being sold to Fulham or the Bees wearing blue and white hoops next season, he snuck one under the radar on April 1st this year. 270 fans fell for his gag about the none existent black goalkeeper’s jersey.

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3 Aston Villa. In particular, uber-fan Simon Hateley. He typified the attitude of many on social media, unable to adjust to his club’s fall from Premier League grace. Whereas Newcastle United were dignified off field and as strong as expected on it, Villa seemed to have some trouble adjusting. Hateley summed it up with an ongoing series of bizarre and boastful tweets, reminiscent of Leeds United when Brentford stormed into the Championship. The biggest sense of self-entitlement this side of Arsenal TV was met with as much success as the Gunners have in the top flight.

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2 Sam Saunders – that tweet. Sam’s departure in January was one we’d braced ourselves for but, at the same time, was still a sad moment when the inevitable happened. Like Peter and Bob, he is somebody who lives and breathes Brentford. That suntan, the rubber glove car wash and Saunders territory are just some of the many ways he built up a relationship with the supporters that few other players have matched. But top of the list is THE song, to the tune of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’:

Oh Sammy Saunders. You are the love of my life.
Oh Sammy Saunders. I’d let you shag my wife.
Oh Sammy Saunders. I want fake tan like you.

So when one supporter had a special request on the occasion of his best friend’s wedding, the repose was one which summed up Sam in a nutshell.

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1 Josh McEachran – dressed for mini golf. No words required. The tweet says it all :

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Better than the unicorn? Quite possibly ! Thanks everybody for a great season. Here’s to next year.

Nick Bruzon

Top ten Bees and win for Forest doom Blackburn.

7 May

A third season in the Championship. A third top ten finish for Brentford. Despite a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, the ubiquitous ‘other results’ conspired to send the visitors down to League One and ensure the Bees continued their proud ascendency. Whilst  Birmingham City boss Harry Redknapp suffered a very squeaky bum and Mark Warburton at Nottingham Forest endured a short term scare, both managers recording wins meant that the three points and two goal victory margin were ultimately insufficient for Blackburn.

We’ll keep this brief, for now. Besides, what else can you say? Not much. It seems trite to revel in another team’s moment of misery. Rovers fully deserved their win and came so, so close to securing Championship survival. Brentford were very much observers in a first half that saw an early two goal lead given away and an improbable tale of survival almost unfold at Griffin Park.

Alas, it was not to be. As Nottingham Forest started to find the net in their own fixture up at the City Ground, so did Brentford. Lasse Vibe all but scuppering Blackburn’s slender survival hopes when he got on the end of a low cross from Harlee Dean, of all people. The captain finding himself in uncharacteristic territory out on the right but still able to deliver a killer ball into the box.

That was as good as it got. Rather than press home the psychological advantage, Brentford were unable to penetrate. Indeed, Harlee was the man still involved in the action, although not for any reasons he’ll care to remember.

I’m sure by now we’ve all seen the picture of him and Craig Conway engaged in what official would describe with the somewhat diplomatic phrase: ‘ the two debated the decision at close proximity’.

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Tom Moore shared ‘the’ moment on Twitter

This was sufficient to earn a yellow card and was followed up shortly afterwards with a second for a foul in the box. Red card and penalty were the obligatory next steps. 3-1 and effectively game over. Indeed, that’s where the scoring stopped and the game ended as Blackburn then had to endure ‘trial by TV’, waiting to see if Bristol City could equalise against Birmingham at the death. They couldn’t.

What else can we take from today? Well, it was a fond farewell for Alan McCormack whose decision to move on at the end of the season is one which has been made very public these last few weeks. The programme contained fitting tribute whilst the player himself made a gladiatorial entry to this footballing arena. His name ringing around three sides of a packed Griffin Park.

Sam Saunders was inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame at half-time whilst even ex-Bee Sam Wood was in attendance. He, along with Maxime Colin, amongst those enjoying the sunshine on the forecourt at half time.

We’ll round up the season properly over the next few days. For now, there’s the Player of the year evening to prepare for and a few more celebrations so we’ll cut this one dead here.

Although, in true Columbo style, there is just one more thing.

Seeing Harlee’s flesh pressed up so close to another player did make me recall that this isn’t the first time we’ve been here. Whilst perhaps not in such close proximity, who could forget that cheeky gatecrashing of Chris Wickham’s interview with then captain Kevin O’Connor ?

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Back in the day….

Nick Bruzon

Who wants it most? There’s all to play for in West London today.

29 Apr

What a few days. There have been awards, goal of the season and of course a game or two coming up with Saturday seeing a huge day for West London football. Brentford travel to Fulham, hot on the heels of last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. It was an encounter which saw Jota’s latest stunner wrap up the points in a game where, at times, we played some quite sumptuous football yet at others Dan Bentley and the linesman kept us in it. However, the net result was anther three points for the Bees and QPR still flirting with relegation. As for Fulham…..

Well, what can you say? They are in with a very real chance of making the play offs, as it stands, and have even finished above Brentford for the first time in three seasons. The table doesn’t lie and they’ve slowly reeled in Leeds United et al to finally break into the top 6. A derby day win for them will all but mathematically see that play off spot guaranteed, with the gap to 7th (seventh) currently 3 points and +13 goal difference.

But Brentford have their own motivation. Fulham’s win at Griffin Park earlier this season was as decisive as a 2-0 scoreline could be. Much as it pains me to admit, they were one of the better teams to come to this part of West London and we were very much left in second place that night.

Equally painful, it saw their first win over us since both teams returned to the Championship – albeit from different directions. Prior to that one, 2014/15 had seen Jota do his thing in the last minute at Griffin Park and that screamer from Stuart Dallas very much the pick of the bunch in a 4-1 rout at The Cottage. Last time out, only an errant linesman denied us all three points away from home with Jota ruled offside as he headed it in for 3-2. The return fixture saw the season come to an end in some style – Tom Field making his debut and Sam Saunders getting us of to a flier as we were three goals clear by half time to comfortably wrap up the points.

View from the stand - Stuart Dallas celebrates doing that thing.....

View from the terrace – Stuart Dallas after doing that thing at The Cottage…

The Bees were crowned Kings of West London. Again. Then this season happened. With David Button between the sticks, Fulham have had the honours.  A return to winning ways will be very much the requirement. The possibility of a nil points against these neighbours, moreso given such strong previous form, is just not on the agenda.

Then there’s the current table. The Bees are just two points and one place off last season’s points total with the potential to finish a place higher than our previous 9th. What a wonderful incentive to go for it. And that’s without pooping a party.

For the last month or so it has become apparent that Fulham are heading upwards. Crashing this one and doing Leeds United a favour, no matter how distasteful that might seem, is a very real possibility and has long been something many fans have been aware of. Now the game is here and that chance is available for both teams. Who will take it? At 3pm we find out….

As for QPR, they host fellow bottom six side Nottingham Forest still needing two points to guarantee safety (third bottom Blackburn, needing two wins themselves, have too close a goal difference for a draw to be sufficient). With Rangers in freefall, current form of LLLLLL leaves them with nobody to blame but themselves for their predicament.

Much as the situation is a novel one, they won’t go down. Birmingham City are just horrific whilst Blackburn still need six points from a season that concludes with a trip to Griffin Park That said, wins today for Mark Warburton, Birmingham and Blackburn could make the final round of games very interesting indeed.

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Can Fulham make the play offs, Brentford beat last season or QPR stay up?

All that of course is to unfold later today. However, there’s been plenty to keep us intrigued over the last few days. Alongside the Player Of The Year vote, supporters are now able to nominate their winner for goal of the season.

Oh, wow. If picking POTY was tough then this is another level of hard. I struggled to draw up a shortlist, let alone select a winner. They are, all ten, corkers. The build up play and finish for Josh Clarke v Reading, Nico’s piledriver in the Birmingham City game, Lasse Vibe finishing off the most incredible run from Sergi Canos at Forest or Jota’s recent pair against Derby County and QPR.

In the end, it’s just been an excuse to watch the video again. And again. The level of Burridgegasm also being an added help. The more excitable our commentator par-excellence gets, the better the goal seems to be has become a handy yardstick when trying to rank these in some sort of order.

In the end, I’ve voted. It had to be Jota. It had to be QPR. Derby County was that close and I’ve swung back and forth between the two of them yet, in the end, the way he collected Nico’s wonderful pass was the deciding factor.

That’s my opinion. Yours will quite likely, and quite rightly, be different. All we can say for sure is that whoever gets it will be a worthy recipient. You can see the video below and vote here.

Which is top of the pile?

Next up, awards. It was a double celebration for the club yesterday as the EFL have awarded us both their Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season aswell as the Friendliest Club Staff Award. Particular recognition has been given to both the ticket office staff and the stewards in the family enclosure.

One can’t begin to stress how deserved these awards are. Part of the pleasure in supporting Brentford FC comes from our wonderful family atmosphere. The club, players and staff cannot do enough for supporters – of all ages. The ‘meet the players’ pre-season event and Junior Bees Christmas party are staples on our calendar whilst who doesn’t get excited, young or old, when receiving a high five or fist bump from Buzz and Buzzette?

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Buzzette always makes time for fans – of all ages

The players and staff never fail to stop for an autograph or photo  – whether in the ground or in the street – an attitude that courses through all echelons of club. We’ve had supporters heavily involved in the kit launch this season whilst the care and attention shown to the match day mascots is just staggering.

What could have been quite an intimidating experience for a three year old – walking out in front of over 10,000 supporters – turned into one of the best days of his life. Big thanks there, again, to Harlee Dean and apologies once more for the lollipop covered hands you had to hold walking out (that’s HB, not me).

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The smile says its all (apologies again for the sticky fingers)

Then you’ve got kitman Bob Oteng. His own BBgiveaway is the stuff of legend but even outside of this he is a cult figure among Bees fans. His reaction to those who regularly sing his name at away games as he goes where he wants on the visitor’s pitch is always wonderful. Even the likes of Chief Executive Mark Devlin, Chairman Cliff Crown or Mr Benham himself consistently take time to respond to and interact with fans on social media.

As for the ticket office staff ! Special mention and rightly so. We’ve all had some form of interaction with them. We all know just how incredible the level of service they offer is . We all know how consistently friendly and helpful they are. Doing what could be deemed a somewhat stressful job – given how demand often outstrips supply – isn’t something I’d be able to cope with.

I could go on. But instead, why not read the official take on the awards which you can find on Brentford ‘official’?

And finally, Billy Reeves & Grown Men In Tears have closed the door on the Welcome Home, King Jota charity single. The video has come down from YouTube and the song is no longer available for download.

The net result has been a donation of £350 for Prostate Cancer Research. As Billy noted himself on Twitter yesterday, “not bad 4 an arvo’s fun

Not bad indeed, Billy.

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Billy shares the news, and the love, yesterday

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

Will Rotherham provide an even bigger shock than at Leicester City? No chance. Here’s why.

25 Feb

Well that was a shock announcement. Not Premier League Champions Leicester City sacking manager Claudio Ranieri. Whilst something that everyone has an opinion on and which we will get to shortly, this column is primarily about Brentford. Yet with Rotherham United visiting Griffin Park this afternoon, could everybody’s favourite feature have taken it’s last breath? Of course, I’m talking about Kitman Bob’s BBGiveaway.

First up though, Rotherham United. One of my most hated phrases in football is ““With all due respect to….”” (i.e. none). See also : “We won’t underestimate them”. It is a phrase well known for meaning anything but and is one usually chucked out just before what is, on paper, a one sided ‘David v Goliath’ type game. A phrase used by pundits and managers alike, just in case the unthinkable happens. The equivalent of that legal arse covering we normally see when scandalous rumour is discussed, with the word ”allegedly” chucked in as a postscrtipt. For example, “I’ve heard that Mrs. Brown is actually a man in a frock. Allegedly.”

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Mrs Brown. A man. Allegedly

And so with Brentford scoring goals for fun at present, I should start by saying something like, “With all due respect to Rotherham United, we’re hoping for three points today”. But I won’t. It would be patronising and it would be a lie. I’m not hoping . I’m absolutely, fully expecting. All the better if it is a win served up with goals, goals, goals. At the very least I can see nothing but a home win and Rotherham’s miserable record continuing.

They are far and away the divisional whipping boys with a mere 17 points from 33 games and a horrific goal difference of -43. Minus forty three. Minus.Forty.Three.

The Millers are 15 points from safety. Effectively 16 if you consider that fourth bottom Bristol City have a GD of -6. Just to put that into context, this season Rotherham have picked up more managers (three) than away points (one). Club sponsors 888sport won’t even allow you to put a bet on them being relegated.

With Brentford now scoring from all positions and having found the net 12 times in the last five games alone, including 2 more in that cracking win at Sheffield Wednesday, I can see nothing but a home win today. Even without the likes of Harlee Dean and Josh McEachran we should still be far, far too strong. A manager as tactically aware as Dean Smith, with the resources at his disposal, should still have more than enough in the squad to put together a winning line up. I’m that confident, I’m betting on it. Purely for research purposes, of course.

Today’s other piece of football prediction comes courtesy of the BBGiveaway. Yes, the legend that is Kitman Bob returns today with everybody’s favourite pre-match competition.

Yet is it one tinged with possible sadness? His ’tweet’ (and, of course, you can follow him as Boblar. on Twitter) hints this could be his last giveaway. It even has the ‘scream’ emoji – Edvard Munch rather than Wes Craven.

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Bob is back with the BBGiveaway

Finger’s crossed that by ‘last one’ he simply means of his exclusive Adidas Jackets , rather than ‘ever’. Nobody needs a lecture from me about how popular Bob is or what a great job he does in engaging fans – both on the pitch and in social media. Here’s hoping that, like Roger Moore at the end of most Bond movies, BBGiveaway will return. Until then, don’t miss out on the chance to pick up this wonderful prize.

On a personal note, this has caused some serious decision making. The BBGiveaway has seen a standard call of Sam Saunders, 7 (seven) minutes. Whilst never winning, it came ‘that’ close in last season’s home win over Fulham. Just 61 seconds separated our opener and the closest I’ll ever get to taking the shirt off the great man’s back. But what do you do when your heroes move on?

Quite simply, get a new one. Whilst there’ll never be another Sam, he can’t get the opening goal for Brentford when he’s playing at Wycombe. And there IS still a Jota – albeit I feel somewhat disrespectful using Sam’s number. Perhaps 8 will be the new 7(seven)?

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Here’s hoping Bob emulates Roger. I’d still settle for a 007(seven) – 0 win

As for the other news of the week, Leicester City dispensing with the services of Claudio Ranieri, what can you say? Well, how about:  ”Deluded grandeur from the back room upstairs”.

They aren’t my words but those of ruby toothed Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall on Twitter (always worth a follow on Twitter , mainly for the unintentional comedy that comes with those who take themselves too seriously, if you can get past his security padlock).

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Not my words etc etc etc

Yet, and much as it pains me to say this, I have to agree with him. This is Leicester City; not Real Madrid. Have some perspective. Have some respect for the man who has provided the club their greatest moment and still has them alive (somehow) in the Champions League. Look at the dignity with which he continues to carry himself and the popularity he holds with supporters all over the football world.

Leicester City were never going to win the Premier League for a second time. Chelsea, Manchester City et al were caught with their pants down and it was wonderful to see the Foxes sweep them all aside. At a club like Brentford, where success has to be earned rather than bought, seeing the underdog triumph against all those big spending title contenders (and also Arsenal) was a wonderful breath of fresh air.

Seeing their manager now dispensed with in such cold and cruel fashion is a depressingly familiar one.

Ultimately, popularity doesn’t win you matches, goals do. Leicester City have failed to do that. Rotherham United have failed to do that. Can Brentford keep on doing it?

At 3pm, we find out. See you at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon

No fight, No clue, No nothing. Worst. Display. Ever (and that’s just Dean) as Bees go down at Chelsea.

29 Jan

Chelsea 4 Brentford 0 . Well played Chelsea. You can only beat what is put up in front of you and what comes next is by no means meant as either criticism, or over exuberant praise, of our hosts on Saturday. But that was atrocious.

An FA Cup scoreline most outsiders would have expected before kick off yet one which, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal could have been so much closer. More to the point, with the players at Dean Smith’s disposal it should have been one which involved some passion and fight. Instead, he rolled over and had his belly tickled.

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Stat of the day going into this one..

The BBC match report has the highlights as does Match of the Day on the I-player, approximately an hour and nine minutes in. If you must do it to yourself, I’d suggest going with the latter option purely for Gaby Logan’s sub-Partridge introduction to the game “Two years ago Chelsea lost out to League One Bradford City in the Fourth round. Today’s opponents also started with ‘B R’ and ended in ‘Ford’ but could Brentford give the Premier League leaders another FA Cup thumping?

The answer was a categoric “No”.

It is said that games can hinge on a single moment. This one was the exact moment Dean Smith set up his team. Chelsea were never going to be at full strength with matches against Liverpool and Arsenal in the coming week. Even I could see that and my managerial experience has been limited to two games at the helm of the Brentford legends.(P2 W2 D0 L0. Just saying).

The only chance of getting anything out of this was to go for it from the off, get in their faces and then grind it out later on if needs be when Chelsea brought their big guns on.

Instead, we stuck to the five defenders and four midfielders in  a system totally devoid of any attacking intent. Tom Field was demoted to the bench. Jota and Josh Clarke sat along side him, with Scott Hogan helping make up the numbers. Wing backs without wings. I’ve seen more flare and width on a kipper tie. Brentford invited Chelsea to come at them and it was a tactical decision that was doomed to fail.

We will be going all-out to win the game” promised Dean on Thursday. His team and their tactics – a Marinus era display of sitting deep then passing it sideways and backwards rather than forwards – gave the impression that we would be going all out to sneak a turgid draw.

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Was this Dean’s game plan, left on the Stamford Bridge steps?

It was total exhibition stuff from Chelsea. Rather than Diego Costa, I was half expecting Antonio Conte to bring on the Harlem Globetrotters in the second half .

The opening forty-five was so abject from Brentford that the biggest cheer from the visiting fans came at half time with the news that Paul Hayes had put Wycombe 2-0 up at Spurs. Along with the likes of Aaron Pierre, Myles Weston and Sam Wood (Marcus Bean and Sam Saunders having to be content with a place on the bench) The Swans giving a perfect lesson in how to take on a below strength team at the business end of the Premier League in their own back yard.

I heard supporters berating Romaine Sawyers and Josh McEachran – claiming the latter had been more interested in his recent ‘golf photos’. Neither had great games, granted, but they were as much a product of the tactical decisions going on around them.

Tom Field was dropped. Why, Dean? Why? Even if he was as tired as you made out, at least start him for an hour then bring on Barbet for the defensive role once we are ahead. Given the line he’d spouted two weeks earlier about trusting his players in regards to ‘not picking’ Scott Hogan (because of course, that was your decision and not at all influenced) then why his sudden reversal? Tom had absolutely nailed that position in the last few months and this was as big a slap in the face as a manager/head coach (whatever) could deliver.

There was no attacking intent on the left. Barbet either too scared, or simply not allowed, to try and take it forward. No width on the right. Josh Clarke and Jota were both overlooked in favour of a 5-4-1 formation in which all 5 sat back and all 4 passed it sideways. And backwards. It was an open invitation for Chelsea to come at us. It was an invitation which required no RVSP and no second chance. It was an invitation which came with a party bag marked ‘goals’. Only Daniel Bentley and the linesman’s flag keeping the first half score respectable.

It was abundantly clear what was going to happen. Invite them on and pay the inevitable price.

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Pre kick off. Yet worse was to come. Much worse

Just look at the way the two managers/head coaches (whatever) performed. Smith, cutting a solitary figure standing motionless on the edge of his technical area. He was a man reverting to the same abject characteristics of his ill-fated predecessor, Marinus Dijkhuizen. He was a man displaying all the passion of a waterlogged stats graph and about as much technical ability.

His opposite number Antonio Conte was like a man possessed. A demented conductor, directing an orchestra of understudies. There he was, driving them on with every gesticulation. A man constantly encouraging his team and barking out orders. This, despite them being two up against a side whose sole purpose seemed to be ‘don’t lose’.

As for the Scott Hogan decision, who knows what was going on there? If there was any chance of taking anything out of the game he should have started. Or been dropped. There’s no room or place for wishy-washy nonsense. Whatever point either he or Dean are trying to prove at the moment is not in the best interests of this team.

The opening twenty minutes of the second period showed just what would happen if we decided to cross the half way line. Attacking the Shed end that housed the 6,000 Brentford fans we began the half the way we should have started the first.

And then it fizzled out as Chelsea started to play again.

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An impressive arena. A less than impressive performance

Only poor finishing and Dan Bentley had kept the scoreline vaguely respectable in that first period. With Romaine Sawyers (whose role yesterday eludes me) unable to go forward,  three static central midfielders passing it amongst themselves and the defence stretched (how can five men get stretched?) the only question was how many Chelsea would get. That it was only two, and eventually four, is a miracle in itself.

In Matthew we trust” , I wrote earlier this month. Well I stick by that. The problem being his trusted lieutenants. The players are there. The talent is there. The motivation and formation isn’t.

For gosh sake, I could have done a better job at motivating them and setting up yesterday . If that was a team designed to go ‘all-out to win the game’ (Dean’s words, not mine) then perhaps he needs a new dictionary or coaching manual.

We haven’t got a divine right to roll over anybody before us. Likewise, Chelsea are where they are for good reason. Roman’s roubles have allowed them to build a squad that is sweeping all before it in the Premier League. But if our ultimate fate was to lose, at least show a bit of passion. A bit of fight . Make a half-arsed attempt to try and get something out of the game instead of trying to chase it when it was already lost.

The most attacking intent shown by anybody vaguely connected with Brentford was from the paunchy geriatrics in the upper tier at full time, as a crazy punch up ensued amongst some agitated supporters.

Instead, we were left with the aforementioned stat of the day from Standard Sport still holding true. We’ve never had a better chance of putting this one to bed. Instead, there was no kapow from Dean Smith.

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Nick Bruzon

As Sam says farewell does ‘that song’ still apply? And Wigan appear out of nowhere.

21 Jan

Sad times. Sam Saunders has left Brentford for Wycombe Wanderers. We all suspected this was coming after the midweek update from co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen to West London’s premier journalist, Tom Moore. And then, on the eve of our trip to Wigan Athletic, the news was confirmed.

I said my piece on Sam during the week. It’s available here. Feedback at the time from the likes of Twitter and Facebook was unanimous in agreement. A first for The Last Word but, undoubtedly, this due to the calibre of the man being discussed. Likewise, when the news was confirmed, the tributes were legion, with this one from Tom Cox being my pick of the bunch.

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So there’ll be no regurgitation today from your’s truly. Instead, here’s the farewell message from the man himself. Even in leaving, he hasn’t failed to raise a tear and a smile. That song….

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Whether ‘that song’ still applies remains a matter of conjecture for married men and women everywhere. One thing that will definitely remain in perpetuum is the area known as ‘Saunders territory’. It’ll be a long time coming until somebody in red and white can hit a dead ball at goal so sweetly and so consistently. So long, Sam. And thanks for all the goals.

As for Wigan Athletic on Saturday, it seems to have almost crept up on us. Aside from Sam, all the talk of West Ham, Scott Hogan, Chelsea and the FA Cup tickets has provided a huge diversion. All of a sudden it is match day morning and Wigan await.

Club sponsor 888sport have the home side as favourites. I don’t see it. Brentford were magnificent for huge swathes of the game against Newcastle United whilst, of course, won handsomely at hapless Birmingham City on our last road trip. A blockbuster form Nico Yennaris sealing the points in that one.

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The bookies here rarely wrong. But surely this is too generous?

Will Scott Hogan feature against Wigan? Unlikely. Given Dean Smith’s comments prior to the Newcastle game followed by an abrupt u-turn when the teams were announced. Something one could just about give him the benefit of the doubt over until the striker failed to make it off the bench. The whole thing smelt very fishy.

Perhaps that’s why we are priced at almost 2-1 to beat a team buried deep in the relegation quagmire. A team who are only being kept off the bottom of the table by virtue of Rotherham United’s ongoing ineptitude.

Brentford are stronger with Scott Hogan, no question. But even without him, Lasse Vibe has started finding the back of the net, Josh McEachran was amongst those to have a great game against Newcastle United whilst the deliciousness of Jota is a luxury we are beginning to enjoy the taste of once more .

There’s more to the team than just one man. How Dean Smith juggles those pieces is, as ever, the conundrum.

At 2.15 we find out.

Nick Bruzon

This is the transfer story that has me worried. Is the king about to leave?

18 Jan

c2iaagfxaaau7icNoooo! Say it isn’t true? Could the legend that is Sam Saunders really have played his last game for Brentford? With all the talk being about the FA Cup and Chelsea yesterday , you may not have seen a story from West London’s Premier Journalist, Tom Moore, in which he reports that along with Alan McCormack, the wing wizard is available to leave Griffin Park.

The source no less than co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, who is quoted as saying (amongst other things), that: “If they want to leave, the club is willing to let them go and someone makes the right offer then they’ll go. We have conversations with all players that are not playing.”

You can find the full article here. It’s worth a look , if only for the latest of Tom’s ‘transfer talk’ videos’.

If this happens it really will be the end of an era. Sam is as close to Mr Brentford as Kevin O’Connor and Peter Gilham. Having been signed back in 2009 from Dagenham (alongside Danny Foster and Ben Stevens) he soon made his mark.

Those free kicks. That tan. That song. The effortless cool – even after playing a match. He is the sort of player that brings a rare spark of character and personality to the game. One who puts me in mind of a latter day Allan Cockram in terms of his ability and interaction with the fans.

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As cool off pitch as on it

Regular readers will know of the terrace ritual that has sprung up whenever a free kick is awarded within about ten yards of the box. “And this is Saunders territory”, just has to be said (ITV Ronaldo style). This, regardless of whether the great man is on the pitch.

Whilst that one may be somewhat of a niche call, there is that other terrace routine – known by all. THE song.

“Oh Sammy Saunders, you are the love of my life.

Oh Sammy Saunders , I’d let you sh&g my wife”

It never fails to raise a smile. And none moreso than when Sam, always a regular on Twitter, responded to a fan’s request for a message to be read at his Brentford supporting friend’s wedding.

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This sort of good natured banter off pitch is as much the part of Sam’s charm and popularity as his ability to curl it around a defensive wall and into the back of the net from 25 yards out. And he’s done that more than a few times.

Who needs a dead ball coach? I could do that job – “Just give it to Sam.”

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View from the Braemar. Sam – a magnificent 7

Cracks about the tanning. Photos with the lads where he’s wearing not more than a rubber glove or a bit of gaffer tape to keep those photos ’twitter friendly’ . The ‘car wash’ is still the stuff of legend – if you’ve seen it, you’ll know.

Nothing is ever too much for him. Hospital visits, supporter requests or even just something as simple as asking for an autograph. On personal note, he is, along with Harlee, my own three year old’s favourite player. This one is going to be like explaining the concept of a death in the family if Sam really does leave.

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Sam is popular amongst all age groups

Yet, at the same time, if he does leave it will be with nothing but profound thanks and huge best wishes. It is so rare for a player to make such an impact and, whilst I’m sure Sam may have an idea of how much he is appreciated, it doesn’t hurt to say it again.

And in the mean time, why not let’s give ourselves another look at what has, quite rightly, been labelled the greatest free kick routine ever. Boxing Day 2013. Swindon Town were the visitors.

Only one man could get away with this……

Sam Saunders does what only Sam Saunders can

Nick Bruzon

Tin foil ready? Potato skins ready? A shot at FA Cup glory awaits….

7 Jan

Finally. The FA Cup third round is here. Brentford host Eastleigh on Saturday afternoon boosted by West Ham suffering a home humping at the hands of Manchester City last night. With the hapless Hammers going down in a game that very much threatened brackets at one stage – City having to settle for 5 rather than 7(seven) – their cup campaign is over. Which, as the principal suitors for goal machine Scott Hogan, can only be good news for the Bees – at least, in the short term.

That’s of no concern to Dean Smith. He has already told BBC Radio London that “If Scott Hogan is fit to play then naturally he will be in the team… If he is not then I won’t risk him. That is not because of any potential move away.”

There you go. Convinced? That said, I do wonder how much last night’s result from the West Ham Olympic stadium may have helped his fitness?

The one thing Dean can’t do, whomever he picks, is underestimate Eastleigh. The non-leaguers represent a huge potato skin for the Bees to slip up on. Putting the Martin Allen factor to one side, let’s not forget how they held Bolton in last year’s third round. Only an 87th minute equaliser from former Bee Darren Pratley sparing the (then) Championship side’s blushes. Even then, they still ran them close in the replay – taking the lead and later levelling things up before Pratley, again, popped up with the decisive goal in five.

Chuck in our own capitulation to Walsall the same weekend and only a fool would take the third round for granted.  Ours and Eastleigh’s were certainly picked out as ties that told the story of the round (the Spitfires even having a quagmire – sorry, pitch- inspection live on Football Focus). Yet as the minnows covered themselves in glory, for the Bees it was a case of wanting to slink away after being dumped out on a woeful afternoon.

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Young Bees and Eastleigh fans tell the story of last year’s 3rd round on the BBC (trophy friends?)

Dean has also spoken of that defeat this week, saying how “It was horrible for me because I wanted to play a full strength team but it was followed immediately by games against two teams (Middlesbrough and Burnley) who went on to get promoted.”.

Whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, it was a strategy that saw the Bees lose both games anyway. 0-1 to our, so called, bogey team and then 1-3 to Burnley. The latter, in particular, featuring as one-sided a first half as you could fear to see before the Bees were able to make a fight of it at 0-3 down

But with a 9 day break unto our next game, at home to Newcastle United, Dean doesn’t have that issue this time around. So will he go full strength or make some changes?

I’d still expect the latter. I’d still expect Brentford to win. And if the likes of Alan McCormack, KK ,Sam Saunders or even (oh, please) Jota are included than that’s as much a case of picking hungry players with more than a point to prove and more than the ability to perform.

I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. With tickets available on the day and starting from just £10 for adults where else are you gong to go? Ikea? Westfield? The mother-in-law’s?

Surely it can only be Griffin Park?

See you there.  But not before doing a bit of work with some glue, a roll of tin foil and the pizza box from the XXL I was forced to order last night given the lack of cardboard in our house.

The sacrifices you make for a shot at FA Cup glory….

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The FA Cup smelling of pizza will be ours

Nick Bruzon