Tag Archives: seagulls

Seagulls follow the trawler and end up with more than sardines. Au revoir, Neal.

5 Aug

There was an almost inevitable end to Monday with the news finally announced that Neal Maupay has left Brentford. His non-appearance over most of the summer, followed by his absence from the squad at the weekend, left the writing somewhat on the wall and now it has been confirmed. The Premier league is the destination. Brighton and Hove Albion the choice, in a deal reported as being worth £20m. At least it wasn’t Dean Smith and Aston Villa although until that window slams shut on Thursday, one can only envisage Said Benrahma continuing to be linked with a move to the Midlands. On the plus side, we have not one but two news signings. Midfielder Dru Yearwood makes the switch from Southend United whilst French youth international attacker Bryan Mbeumo joins from Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne.  Or Troyes AC, as ‘official’ helpfully confirmed they are better known.

Large-1

I feel for Dru and Bryan. Both look like more shrewd acquisitions from Matthew and the Directors of football. Southend and Troyes’ loss, very much our gain given how well our acquisitions over the last few years have turned out. Yet all anybody is talking about today is Brighton and Neal.

Oh, how we loved him. The shithousery – there’s no other word for it. The speed. The work rate. The aerial prowess from one so small. The goals. The balls. Oh my, the size of those balls. What a way to celebrate not once but twice against Leeds United. Both times, right in the faces of their rabid support. 

And that equaliser at Fulham wasn’t bad either. ‘Limbs’ as I believe the kids call it. What a moment. What a celebration. What a photo from Mark Fuller. What a way to seal your place in club legend. To ensure that whatever came next (what stamp at Aston Villa ?) could never tarnish your reputation. Would only make you even more universally loved.

D4xdXfGXoAA08Sa

What balls

Yet it was a love that seemed to go both ways. Talk to Neal and he would only enthuse about all things Griffin Park. Promises were made at the end of last season about his return for this one. Sadly, now, things have moved on somewhat. Money talks but so do agents, it would seem.

And whilst that may be bleedin’ obvious, the Twitter thread published on Monday night by the GPG makes for very interesting reading as to how this all played out. About how things have changed as this marriage made in footballing heaven between player and club has ended in the Bees being jilted for the Seagulls.

Do read the thread. In full. It starts below and makes for a fascinating insight as to what went on with this one. There’s no animosity towards player, Brentford or Brighton – for what it’s worth. But, as has been noted part way through, “ In this day of low morals in football these days – I’m glad that we demonstrated that we are a decent club with manners. The fact that we have done right by the player demonstrates to future signings that we provide a potential route to PL, it keeps us in business of course. 

There’s not much else to say at this point. There’s a genuine feeling of good luck to Neal, from me. Of course I’m absolutely gutted to see him go. No question. I was itching to see him stay put for one more season. To guide us to the top flight. Now that responsibility rests elsewhere.

In my heart of hearts I really did think he might stay until January. Mind you, I think the same about Said and Ollie. At least the latter started on Saturday and looked formidable during that opening salvo. I’m sure Dean Smith is opening the Aston Villa cheque book we speak but I’m also, perhaps naively, thinking this really is it . 

We’ve sold Ezri. We’ve sold Romaine. Of course we’ve sold Neal. We’ve also invested very wisely with the likes of Jansson, Jensen, Pinnock and Norgaard now joined by Blackwood and Mbeumo. Keep Benrahma and Watkins amongst their ranks and we will remain more than a force to be reckoned with.

Sell either/or and, you know what, there’ll be no meltdown from me. As with Neal this evening,  I would be gutted with further departures. Yet our DOFs and Matthew Benham have shown us time and again that they are three steps ahead of everybody else when it comes to doing the business.

I really didn’t think it could get any more depressing than selling Jota and Maxime to Birmingham City (and Harlee makes three) but we survived. We got stronger despite the crushing blow of seeing our hero put out to pasture. That trust is there and I cannot wait to see how the next chapter in the Brentford story plays out.

Until then, we’ll always have Fulham.

6F4460FC-5DC2-4259-9467-864C4A9FFE16

What a moment. Thank you, Neal

Nick Bruzon

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

4 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_6723

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

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

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

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

IMG_6728

Jota and a floodlit Griffin Park – wonderful from any angle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well played Brentford. You were wonderful tonight.

IMG_6694

Buzzette was up for it from the off.

Nick Bruzon

Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

IMG_6343

View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

Dean Smith travolta

Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

keith-stroud-referee-blackburn-v-burnley-24th-october-2015

Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon

Will there be more of the same at a price that, surely, is beyond generous?

4 Feb

Saturday morning. Match day. Except, of course, it isn’t. Brentford fans have to wait an extra day for the chance to see if we can match Tuesday night’s annihilation of Aston Villa. This time around, the visitors are none other than Brighton. A team who, whilst managing to reel in and then fend off long term runaway leaders Newcastle United, went down 3-1 at Huddersfield Town in front of the Sky TV cameras on Thursday night.

killer-bees-seagull

Will the Seagulls fall victim to Dean’s killer Bees?

There’ll never be a better time for the Bees to take on the Seagulls. Brentford blew away Aston Villa on Tuesday night as though they were nothing more inconvenient than an empty crisp packet. 3-0 really doesn’t even begin to do justice to a scoreline that saw added width courtesy of Florian Jozefzoon and the wonderful Jota.

It was something noted by Dean, who used his press conference to note that “They give us an extra dimension and that enabled me to flip the system on Tuesday” (and, as ever, you can read his full interview on ‘official’).

With one defender less and more room in the middle of the pitch, Dean set his team up in much more balanced and positive formation than we’d seen in a long time. The results more than justified the tactical reshuffle. And this is before the returning Sergi Canos has even got a look in. Whilst I can’t imagine he’ll start in this one, I can already hear the reception he’ll get coming off the bench.

img_5398

Jota was back in the starting XI on Tuesday night

The big question now being whether it was a one off or if we can expect more of the same against Brighton? I hope so. Desperately. Tuesday night saw genuinely exciting football as the Bees, perhaps with a point to prove to Scott Hogan, tore Villa a new one.

Brighton, meanwhile, may well be back in second place by the time we cross paths. Newcastle United play on Saturday although a visit from Derby County won’t be the easiest fixture in the calendar. Yet if they can get the win, that adds the pressure to Albion. Especially if third placed Reading can also do the business at hapless Ipswich Town. A win for the Royals will take them to within just two points of Brighton.

Then, of course, we’ve got Thursday night to consider. Nobody needs a midweek trip to Huddersfield at the best of times, let alone when you then put in a performance that Chris Hughton would later describe saying, “Every now and again you get a real bad one, and that was a real bad one.

Perhaps he should compare notes with Steve Bruce !  To compound their misery, highly rated defender Lewis Dunk was shown the red card so misses out at Griffin Park.

One can’t help but think Brighton will be exhausted. With little over 48 hours to recover from the game and subsequent trip back from Yorkshire to the South coast, they are back on the road again.  Whilst we’ve all been victims to the vagaries of TV scheduling, this one seems extreme and yet another example of the TV companies putting teams and fans firmly in second place.

The question being if Dean Smith and his team can take advantage of this gift we’ve been offered. Brentford have already beaten Brighton in the corresponding fixture – becoming the only team this season to leave the Amex with all three points. Can we now become the first to do the double over the Seagulls? Could Sergi cause havoc in the final twenty minutes as tiredness starts to tell?

At odds of 11/5 with club sponsors 888, it seems to be free money for anybody looking to invest. Surely that’s too generous a price?

On Sunday afternoon, we find out.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-08-01-44

Nick Bruzon

What a game and what an omen after fine 2-0 win. Now bring on Villa.

11 Sep

Saturday afternoons don’t get much better than this. A great day on the road that saw Brentford climb up to 7th(seventh) place after a fine 2-0 win in Brighton. Whilst Newcastle United may have left us in eighth at close of play (their win in the late kick off with Derby County rendering that early season double defeat nothing more than a statistical anomaly, for now…) the important thing was an inspiring performance that saw the Bees reach 10 points. For the record, twice the amount we’d reached this time last season and the perfect tonic ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Aston Villa.

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 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

head-graph-after-6

These are stats I can get behind

 

brentford-2-0

View from the Brighton away end – a soft focus (not blurred) second goal celebration.

 

img_1870

Was this a pre-match omen ? Must. Resist. Bees sting Seagulls. D’oh!

 

buzzette-and-kinglsey

Buzzette and Kinglsey – King and Queen of football mascots

Nick Bruzon

A potential silver lining as another part of next season falls into place

17 May

Monday evening saw Brentford learn another opponent for next season as the horror and the brilliance of the play-offs was combined in equal measure. Despite throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at their opponents , Brighton were unable to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit and so it is Sheffield Wednesday who reach the final next weekend. Barring a minor miracle, Hull City (who complete formalities at home to Derby tonight, 3-0 up) will be the only thing in their way as the Premier league beckons.

The nice part of me feels dreadfully for Brighton right now. The were in ‘automatic’ for long parts of the season and finished level on points with promoted Middlesbrough. Only two goals split the respective teams, with Boro ending the campaign on 89 points and +32 ; the Seagulls 89 points and + 30.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 05.46.46

The BBC table doesn’t lie

Wednesday, meanwhile, finished 15 points behind the Seagulls and had gone into the semi on anything less than great form. Only 2 wins out of the last 7(seven) suggested a team who had as much chance as Derby County of making the final. Yet, as we all know, form counts for nothing and the play-offs are a fickle mistress.

If one team can feel Brighton’s pain right now it is Brentford. Our play off form is only matched by Sheffield United, in making it 8 attempts without winning the final. Even Preston, finally, breaking their hoodoo last season making it 1 win out of 10 to join us in the Championship.

For the record, our own campaign trail of woe reads.

1990/91 : Lost. SF. Tranmere Rovers (2-3)

1994/95 : Lost. SF. Huddersfield Town (2-2; pens)

1996/97 : Lost. Final. Crewe (0-1)

2000/01 : Lost. Final. Stoke City (0-2)

2004/05 : Lost. SF. Sheffield Wednesday (1-3)

2005/06 : Lost. SF. Swansea City (1-3)

2012/13 : Lost. Final. Yeovil Town (1-2)

2014/15 : Lost. SF. Middlesbrough (1-5)

I take no pleasure from seeing any team go through what we have done. Many times. If ever a reminder were needed (it wasn’t) about just how cruel the play-offs can be it was here. If ever a reminder was needed of the importance of grabbing ever point and every goal over the course of the regular season then last night served up yet another example.

Yet, at the same time, whilst I do have sympathy I also have some selfishness about this. As one observer noted on Twitter last night, “Brighton away its too good a trip to be wasted on the Premier League”.

I’ve got no new interest in Sheffield  – been there, done it, eaten their (albeit lovely) pies and heard ‘that band’ many times. Should Hull win the final, then no doubt I may go (again).

But a guaranteed trip to the Amex is only a fantastic thing for Brentford. A short hop on the train. A day out by the coast. A full house of Bees in the away end. A cracking atmosphere.

Nick mascots Brighton

The Albion mascots – it feels like cheating on Buzzette

Sheffield are welcome to take their band and Hi-Ho, Silver Lining (see also: Let me Entertain you / We are the Champions for ‘overplayed stadium songs’ ) to the top flight. Good luck to them. Genuinely. I’ve always enjoyed going there and wish them no ill will.

But a trip to the Amex, something that many of us were denied this time around thanks to the decision making of Sky TV, can only be viewed as a positive. At least, for us visiting fans.

To be honest, missing out on that trip this time around was probably no bad thing (and if you’d like to read more about that, or the season just gone then you know the drill – it’s here). Brentford were abject when we went down 3-0 in February.

For that reason alone, redemption, I’m already looking forward to another visit. Now, where’s that railcard…?

Until then, this may remain on the cards. Still, if Wednesday do go up there will be one silver lining.

Enjoy

And finally, as ever, genuine thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the aforementioned Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). It is somewhat humbling that people take the time to go over this nonsense and relive these moments once more.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same.  Until then, the last three season reviews and overall anthology are available here.

Nick Bruzon

Bees left following the Seagulls as Brighton win TV clash. So what next?

6 Feb

Well, if anybody doesn’t think the business end of the season hasn’t already been and gone for Brentford then I’d happily meet them. I’m still desperate for us to do as well as we can but I’m also realistic. Last night’s 3-0 tonking by Brighton was (the first half particularly) pretty hard to swallow. Dean Smith’s post match comment that: “We have 16 games and 48 points to play for, while there is still an opportunity to make the Play-Offs we will go for it” was, I suppose, obligatory but he’s not fooling anybody. Nice though the sentiment was, 1 win out of the last 7 (seven) and 5 out of the last 17 is nowhere near play-off form .

Brighton fully deserved their win. That’s it. Take nothing away from them despite what was a particularly off-key performance from the Bees. One shot on target all game tells its own tale whilst several players looked particularly sloppy.

Swift doing his drunk propeller impression again and Josh going rogue as the cross for the second goal was delivered (“he might aswell not be there” being the subsequent pundits view). Harlee might question himself over the first two whilst, but for the crossbar, he’d have skyed a goal line clearance into the back of the net. Even Sam looked off the pace in this one.

I could go on but we all know what happened. Given the calamitous off-field season we’ve had – three head coaches (technically four, given Lee Carsley retired after Forest only to come back for a one game second stint v Bolton); the pitch debacle; losing/selling the vast majority of the team that took us to fifth last season – to still be 10th in the Championship is a fantastic achievement from one respect.

But if wanting to build on last season’ performances and questioning the haemorraging of those that performed such miracles makes me a bad person (as certain fansites would seem to believe) then I can’t do anything about that.

You don’t need a match report- I can’t imagine there were many who weren’t there or didn’t see it on TV. As ever, Beesotted, the BBC and the club are the places to go.

That said, in the case of the ‘official site’ I’d question their assertion that “the scoreline may have been a little harsh on a Brentford team that dominated possession for long stages.” In football, holding on to the ball for 65% of the game counts for naff all if you can’t get more than one shot on target or put it in the back of the net. Certainly, Brighton managed it three times !

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 08.08.33

‘Official’ Facebook tried to end it early, mid-game. Sadly, it finished 3-0

The other thing to remember is that regardless of whether we agree with the changes or methods being employed, this is our team. I’d still come along if we were in the Ryman Premier league.

Of paramount importance from this point in is how we perform over the coming months in preparation for next season. We have a lot of relatively new faces who are finding their feet and still bedding in. Some of those have really impressed early on; others have shown form in patches.

Which amongst those are going to be able to keep their places next campaign, vindicating the recruitment policies of Rasmus and Phil, and who will be deemed ‘a statistical experiment too far’ ?

Lewis Macleod finally appeared in a Brentford shirt whilst Sam Saunders (who up until last night had been on fire in recent weeks) has signed a year’s extension to his contract. The likes of Ryan Woods, Max Colin and Yoann Barbet have all shown their potential whilst Alan Judge is going to be a key man for somebody next season – hopefully the Bees.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 08.00.23

There was good news about Sam in the morning

I don’t subscribe to the ‘little old Brentford’ theory. Just because, outside of TW8, we’ve been nothing more than a blip on the football radar over the last sixty years doesn’t mean that now we’ve taken our place amongst the game’s bigger names we shouldn’t aspire to equal them or continue pushing ourselves. Big names and big reputations count for nothing. They certainly shouldn’t be feared. Just looks at QPR (4 points behind us) and Fulham ( 12 points adrift of the Bees).

We’re going to have good times and we’re going to have bad times. I’d love us to keep up with the high velocity progression but, equally, given what has happened over the summer there is an obvious need to consolidate. That’s what I thought we’d do with last season’s team – bolt on to that side and ‘go again’. Instead, it has been almost a complete rebuild and so to still be in 10th IS a huge achievement from that respect.

It may not always feel like it as we saw last night. The trick Matthew Benham’s people now face is that fine balancing act between starting afresh from the Championship and undoing what we’ve done these last few seasons. ‘The model’ is still very much being called into question by some whilst the success being achieved North of the border by Warbs is reminder of what we’ve achieved recently.

It isn’t going to get any easier. A trip to Sheffield Wednesday then home games against Derby and Wolves are next up for the Bees. Then again, I wouldn’t want it to get any easier. Testing ourselves against two teams pushing for the play offs and then the side that have been one of our main rivals in recent seasons is what it’s all about. Disappointing though last night was, the next game is only a week away. It certainly makes a change from playing the likes of Yeovil and Doncaster.

As a final thought – Keith Stroud. What can you say? He only made two bookings all night and that for Brighton ‘keeper David Stockdale seemed to confuse most of us. Even by his own whistle happy standards, there were a mere 24 fouls called.

This stat, amongst all, is the one most Brentford fans (goals aside) were interested in. Kitman Bob giving away three, yes three, pairs of player boots for whoever called that number correctly. My own 31 being somewhat off the pace as Keith had a relatively restrained game.

At least, by his standards.

Nick Bruzon

Can Sam make it three-in-a-row on Boxing Day?

26 Dec

Boxing Day and Sam Saunders. Two things that seem inextricably linked and for good reason. With Brighton visiting Griffin Park today, the last two seasons have seen this fixture, and Sam in particular, provide some contrasting memories. Games against Ipswich Town (2014) and Swindon Town (2013) have seen the popular wing wizard shine (and that’s not the tan) as each encounter saw the Bees with a chance to top the league.

Sam Saunders black kit

Sam – back in black and better than ever

And today we have a similar scenario. Whilst most of the nation are rolled out on their sofas recovering from the excesses of the 25th , 12,000 of us will be in Griffin Park to see if Brentford can beat Brighton and, should other results fall correctly, reach the play off zone. At present, of course, we’re only two points off sixth place.

That latter requirement, ‘other results’, would also require the somewhat distasteful prospect of a QPR victory – over Ipswich Town at Portman Road. I can’t imagine many in this part of West London could, in all conscience, cheer for that. At least not at this stage of the season.

So instead, let’s just focus on ourselves. Dean Smith has picked up two wins from two at Griffin Park since taking over as Head Coach. More importantly, the manner of victory – with 6 goals scored (and 10 in his 4 games in charge) is what has impressed. That said, even he was talking about cutting things out at the other end. And no moreso will this be a requirement than against a side smarting from their first defeat of the season on Saturday.

Middlesbrough, of course, secured top spot in the Championship after hitting 3 past the Seagulls without reply. And with Boro’ having a 14 point lead over Brentford, the top of the table will, for once, something we can’t aspire to – at least on Boxing Day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hope for some more Saunders’ magic.

The same fixture last year saw us lose 4-2 to Ipswich Town, conceding after 19 just seconds and going 3 down at HT before it finished 4-2 to the visitors. The only silver lining was the late substitute’s appearance from Sam.

He made it 3-1 within five minutes of coming off the bench and halved the deficit at the end, practically stealing the ball off the toes of the dithering Nick Proschwitz to stab it home from close range as the ref signalled injury time.

But it was Boxing Day 2013  against Swindon that saw a moment of quality from Sam that still has us smiling. The infamous ‘fall over’ routine – below

Did Sam mean it? Swindon Town 2013

To score a free kick of that quality was impressive enough but having gone flat of his face beforehand, even moreso.

Too much fake tan making the boots slippery? Old man’s legs giving up? (he remains the Methuselah of the squad – although not to look at, I am told, or see run around – what energy). Might it just have been an elaborate training ground routine, along the likes of the Gary Blissett ‘fake hissy fit’ (season 92/93) in an attempt to confuse the opposition?

As I wrote at the time, “Well, if the later, then give that man an Oscar. It was a display of football acting that’s not been seen since Luis Figo’s ‘Just for Men’ advert. And if an accident, then a massive pat on the back for composing himself at a time that the Bees were under a spot of pressure”.

I did talk to Sam at the end of the season and know the answer although don’t want to kill the magic of the mystery by revealing it. For all I know, it may well by common knowledge, anyway.

Instead, I’ve got my fingers crossed for three years in a row. Sam Saunders scoring on Boxing Day is one seasonal tradition us Brentford fans could definitely embrace.

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 08.12.12

Figo – unsurpassed acting skills

Nick Bruzon

Bees set for Brighton as Liverpool stars reveal shocking 80’s taste

12 Sep

Championship football is almost back with us. Tomorrow sees Brighton visit Griffin Park as Brentford finally get the chance to resume competitive action and, potentially, move even further ahead of Fulham. With the gap already 7(seven) points, a victory over Brighton combined with Reading doing the needful over The Cottagers would see this grow to double figures.

Of equal statistical interest is the chance for Brentford to attain their highest league placing in 60 years, should we move one more place up the table. If my maths are correct, The Bees’ current position of eighth equals the previous benchmark, set in the 1950s (and, briefly, in 1992).

Brighton are no mugs, of course. Having reached the play off semi finals for the last two seasons (the results being a pain that Brentford fans know only too well) they’ve now started to find their legs as another attempt on the Premiership begins.

Despite losing their opening two fixtures they’ve put a little run together that sees them just a single point behind The Bees. It won’t be easy tomorrow but with the International break, at least, giving us the chance to help with a few injuries, I’m confident we can continue where we left off last time out.

If nothing else, there’s the prospect of Betinho. The signing of the Portuguese U21 took most people by surprise and I’m just itching to see what he can do as Warbs’ continental revolution continues.

The signing of Betinho is officially  announced to the world

The signing of Betinho is officially announced to the world

The second part of today’s column requires you to look elsewhere as a series of 1980’s photographs have been collated, most of them featuring Liverpool players, showing footballers relaxing in the opulence of their mock-Tudor mansions

Have you ever wondered what Graeme Souness would look like, trying out as an extra on Miami Vice? Are you curious as to what Phil Neal wore in his snooker room? Want to see Kenny Dalglish – international man of business?

In that case, I can only implore you to take a look at Steven Bloor’s Guardian article about ‘1980s footballers at home’. Featuring everything from Pat Jennings posing awkwardly by the fireplace in a cardigan/action slacks combo to Trevor Brooking taking the world’s first ‘selfie’, you can find the picture gallery here.

Aswell as the Liverpool connection, there’s even a few Bees in there, with Terry Butcher and Kenny Sansom featured.

Enjoy !!

 

Kenny Sansom - in more tasteful gear than seen in the Guardian article

Kenny Sansom – in more tasteful gear than seen in the Guardian article

Daniel, my brother. You are older than me (and a Manish bonus)

2 Aug

Not my words but those of Elton John (apart from the bit about Manish) which, I can only imagine, were ringing around the hot bed of activity that is the Griffin Park media centre on Friday as Brentford announced another new signing.

The latest name to join the Bees is Finland under-21 international, Daniel O’Shaughnessy. The 19 year centre back would seem, on paper, somebody who most definitely fits the club’s bill of acquiring young talent.

That said, early visitors to the Brentford club site may have been left somewhat confused. Had the media team taken a particularly long lunch, been caught short by a sudden signing or are they just massive Elton fans?

Apparently ‘defedner’ Daniel, brother of Daniel, played against England way back in 2003. Either Warbs had reversed the aforementioned youth policy or this had been in the under-9’s World Cup. You can see part of the story – as it first appeared – below.

Welcome Daniel - as first reported on the official site

Welcome Daniel – as first reported on the official site

The story was soon cleared up as it transpired that the game against England, where defender Daniel had actually featured alongside his brother Patrick, took place just last year – 2013. As ever, you can read the full (corrected) version on the clubsite.

Those who saw Brentford play CA Osasuna on Tuesday will already have had a brief taste of Daniel in action. Don’t bet against him having a further run out at some point today when The Bees line up against Crystal Palace.

The other news to grab my attention yesterday was an announcement from Manish Bhasin, of ‘Football League Show’ fame. I love this programme and was a regular viewer last season (despite their obsession with ‘that penalty’).

If for no other reason than to see which team ‘coupon buster’ Clem would curse with a visit. The spectre of a home defeat seems to follow the ever-popular roving reporter like seagulls sniffing around the proverbial trawler.

Well, the good news is that rather than waiting up until well past midnight on Saturday for our only chance to catch this, the show is to get a second running on Sunday mornings. The time, 9am.Ish. The place, BBC2.

Great news from Manish.

Great news from Manish.

This is fantastic news for those of us, myself included, who struggle to sit through Match of the Day. An hour of Mark Lawrenson is generally enough to finish off any hopes I had of lasting until the Bees action hits our screens.

Nice work, Manish. Now, if you could just make sure Clem is given a season ticket for Craven Cottage that would be perfect.

And if you want to read amore more about Manish, the Football League Show and how we reached the Championship then why not catch up on ‘Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup…..’

The story of Brentford’s 2013/14 promotion campaign, amongst other football related gumph, is now available as a digital book. Featuring the best of the not so bad columns from last season, and some new content, you can download it here for your kindle / digital device.

Manish, Leroy and Clem feature more than Russell Slade

Manish, Leroy and Clem feature more than Russell Slade