Tag Archives: Shakin Stevens

The weather outside was frightful, but Lewis was so delightful.

18 Mar

Oh my. How good to be back in the warmth after that one. Brentford and Middlesbrough played out a 1-1 draw in blizzard like conditions at a freezing Griffin Park on Saturday. That much snow was falling all around, I half expected Shakin’ Stevens to put in an appearance at half time (best. song. ever) . It was a draw which, after the blips against Millwall and Cardiff City, has all but mathematically ended our play-off hopes. Come on Bees, prove me wrong – again.

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A snowy Griffin Park

For those who missed it, Sky Sports have the video highlights on line already. Anyone who was there would have seen that despite dominating the possession, we couldn’t quite turn opportunities into goals. Yet against a side that have long been seen as a bogey team for the Bees, it was a more than creditable performance with man of the match Lewis Macleod and Ryan Woods pulling the strings in the middle whilst referee Simon Hooper pulled our legs erm, in the middle.

His sending off of substitute Romaine Sawyers for two yellow cards, the second of which was softer than than the avalanche of snowflakes that filled the air, rounded off a poor afternoon for the man in black. The visiting players surrounding a referee who should have been stronger after what was, at best, an accidental coming together. Yet his missing the opportunity to insist on an orange ball (one day, it will come back) should have perhaps warned us what to expect.

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Sky highlights show Romaine see red. The ref in no way allowing himself to be influenced.

For Middlesbrough, a first half lead came with an impressive strike from the commanding Adama Traoré after twenty minutes. Running across the edge of the box, he found the gap to fire a powerful drive past Daniel Bentley. It was a lead that came at a time when the game had been delicately balanced. Both teams having already seen a handful of efforts. It was a lead that didn’t last for long as Lewis Macleod, who had earlier seen a shot from just outside the area tipped over by Darren Randolph, fired home low and hard from the edge of the box to equalise.

One all and with over an hour to go, surely there would be more to come? Sadly not. That’s how it stayed despite the best efforts of Macleod and his colleagues as Brentford really began to turn the screw.

Even the appearance of Sergi Canos from the bench, for once the gloves understandable in absolutely bitter conditions, wouldn’t tip the balance. Brentford had the lion’s share of the possesion and chances but Middlesbrough were resolute and, for their defence alone, justified with the point that keeps them in the final play-off place.

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Sergi with his snow, ball. It should have been orange

But for sharper finishing or what the BBC match report describes as Brentford “guilty at times of overplaying in dangerous areas” it could have been all three points for The Bees. Instead, the late intervention of Mr. Hooper meant an early bath for Romaine and a draw being played out in those final few minutes as Boro’ finally pressed once more.  

Massive kudos to Lewis Macleod. We all know the injury hell he has been through over the last few years but how that seemed a thing of the past. With clear direction to shoot from the edge of the box, a single goal was the least his play, opening up the Boro’ midfield as easily as a can of tuna, deserved.

They were awful conditions to watch a game of football in with a howling, icy wind cutting through supporters as the snow fell. It can’t have been much fun playing in it and perhaps the desire to keep warm lifted both teams to really run at each other from the off. It was hardly the kick and rush game one would expect from a Tony Pulis outfit, even if that physical aspect was still there as they let the Bees push on.

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Lewis was head and shoulders above Middlesbrough

Instead, we were offered an entertaining spectacle with Brentford keen to underline the play-off credentials. Sadly, it was Middlesbrough who got the point that keeps them in but with Brentford 8 off with 8 to play, we’re now in the territory of really needing to pull in a few favours. Stranger things have happened of course and at least we’ve now got an international break in which to take stock.

On a personal note, a huge word of thanks to everybody at the club – players and staff – for all their efforts yesterday. Harry was lucky enough to be one of the mascots and had an absolutely fantastic time from start to finish. Talk about being made to feel welcome and a proper part of things. Even in so much as being allowed to kick the ball on the centre spot when the teams came out and leading the line in the handshake.

“Daddy. When I was shaking the hands of all the naughty team I felt like a real footballer.” They’re not my words but those of a four year old fan who had the time of his life when he could have been forgiven for asking to give this one a swerve and staying at home with a hot chocolate.

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Feeling like ‘a real footballer’

Nick Bruzon

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Lewis will stay another day. How about Scott as Santa Saunds does his thing and FA get heavy

21 Dec

Well that was a day of seasonal good news. Brentford were very much in the festive mood as Lewis Macleod was given a contract extension despite his long term injury whilst down the road at West Middlesex Hospital, the squad were very much doing their own ‘Santa’ thing. Not so seasonal, but of equal interest to Bees fans, was the five match ban handed out to Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United for racial abuse. This, given a similar punishment suffered by our own Alan McCormack back in October.

First up though, the positive news. Brentford have shown many times how we look after our own. There  is the well documented way that Scott Hogan was treated during his own lengthy recovery period (18 months out) after suffering that awful injury just a few games into his Griffin Park career. First class medical treatment all the way and a contract extension were the order of the day as the club showed huge faith in a player who has since began to pay that back in bucketloads.

Scott’s goalscoring record is such that there is genuine worry amongst the Bees faithful we’ll be cashing in come January. He went on that stunning run towards the end of last season as he edged his way back to full fitness whilst now, only Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United sits above him in the scoring charts. Imagine those two together. Actually, don’t. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Then there was the contract extension offered to Jota as our talismanic midfielder (if Sam Saunders was Spanish….) was allowed to go back to Spain on loan, for personal reasons. Who could forget his letter to supporters at the time where he promised that , “This isn’t “goodbye” but more of a “see you later” ? Who could forget our own signal to the player in offering him a contract extension despite the fact he was moving away from Griffin Park – albeit a move that, despite our deepest fears, one still hopes remains a temporary decision.

And now Lewis Macleod has become the latest beneficiary of Matthew Benham’s backing of his players as the former Rangers man has been give a year’s contract extension which will see him tied to Griffin Park until the summer of 2019. This, despite like Scott at the time of his injury, barely a handful of appearances since joining the club and the youngster now facing a long period on the sidelines.

When the road to recovery must seem long and torturous, with no guarantees at the end of it, one can’t begin to imagine what a boost this faith in individuals must be. At a time when all around are getting on with what they do best – playing football – to see how much we value those on the sidelines and are prepared to make such a public statement of belief is a huge, huge thing. We’ve done it in thee past and no doubt will do it again.  Here’s hoping for a Hoganesque payback when Lewis is fully fit.

It was interesting, also, how he got into the festive spirit by emulating one time Christmas chart toppers East 17. The boy band, of course, occupying the penthouse suite at the hit parade hotel back in December 1994 with their ‘Stay Another Day’ single.

Despite being number one at Christmas, rather than an actual Christmas record in the vein of Slade, Wizzard, Coldplay or Shakin’ Stevens (whose own effort is not only the best Christmas song of all time but the best pop single. Ever), the band’s use of fake snow and furry parka jackets in the promo video now sees them embedded deep into festive culture. (See also: Frankie Goes to Hollywood – The Power of Love. Not a Christmas record yet still now considered one based upon the time of release)

As such, it was great to see Lewis getting involved with his own choice of seasonal attire at yesterday’s contract signing. As ever you can read the full story, with the proper photographs, on ‘official’.

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Next up, Sam Saunders. Can he do anything wrong? No, being the answer as the ever popular midfielder was amongst those who made the trip to West Mid to hand out Christmas presents to children on the Starlight Ward. The pictures and the comments from the players on Social media spoke for themselves and showed, yet again, just how much this club does for our own local community.

One can’t begin to think what it is like for these youngsters to be in hospital at any point, let alone during the Christmas season – a period that traditionally sees celebrations at home and time spent with friends and family over the prolonged school holidays. As such, a gesture of this nature is one that can only be very well received. Wonderful work from all at Griffin Park. Yet again.

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From the positive to the not so. The story of Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey being given a five game ban for what is described as : “Aggravated Breach as defined in Rule E3(2), as it included reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or nationality” is one that hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst our own support.

Of course, we have our own parallel with the five game sentence handed down to Macca back in October after he was found guilty of : Using abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official in the 52nd minute of the game against Cardiff City on 19 April 2016, contrary to FA Rule E3(1) . Moreso, given his offence was, “An “aggravated breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to gender.

Back then this column wondered : This is a huge ban and if nothing else Alan would seem to be patient zero when the FA have decided to clamp down hard. Yet, also, they’ve now drawn a line in the sand which I’ll be very keen to see how strongly they enforce ongoing.

And here is your answer. Another breach of rule E3(2) and another five game ban. If players were operating in a new environment about what is deemed acceptable before, there can be no doubt now. Speak in such a manner towards officials or fellow pros – pay a very heavy penalty.

From an on-pitch perspective, it means Shelvey will be missing when Newcastle United come to Griffin Park for the televised game in January 16th. He’ll be a huge loss to the Magpies, if his performance on our own trip to the North-East was anything to go by. At one point it looked as though he was going to inspire a Geordie bracketing as the home team set off at 100mph, with the Bees caught cold in the starting blocks, and Shelvey providing ‘assists’ for fun.

I can’t pretend to take any pleasure from a story of this nature on a day of such seasonal goodwill. But, at the same time, it would be hypocritical not to realise what a helping hand it offers us. Knowing that Newcastle will be missing one of their danger men, and the architect of our own downfall last time out, when the battle of the Championship’s leading scorers takes place.

Still, all that is some time off. For now, we’ve got Christmas to look forward to and the hope that Scott is still a Bee by the time that game takes place. I’ve no doubt our faith in the player will be rewarded come January…..

Nick Bruzon

Who’s looking shaky as Bees host Rotherham United?

17 Oct

Finally. League football is back as Brentford welcome Rotherham United to Griffin Park for a league game that sees the visitors with a new man in the managerial hotseat. Neil Redfearn, of course, replacing the now departed Steve Evans despite everybody’s favourite manager having won in his last two games prior to his and the club’s ‘parting of the way’.

That’s football. Evans leaves a big void to fill, no more so than on these pages where the regular reader will be aware of the admiration felt towards him as our paths have crossed over the last two seasons (please note: my definition of admiration may vary from yours).

Evans - gone but not forgotten (much like how-old

Evans – gone but not forgotten (much like how-old.net)

Whilst I’ll miss his press conferences and a level of sour grapes not seen this side of a bottle of past-its-sell-by date liebfraumilch, Rotherham have replaced him with Neil Redfearn who seemed to be doing a great job at Leeds United. That, until crackpot owner Massimo Cellino decided he was ‘weak’ and ‘a baby’. Still, Leeds’ loss is the Millers’ gain and today won’t be easy.

The flipside, of course, being that in Lee Carsley we have a head coach who has been with these players all season and has already had two games in charge. Whilst we won’t overly dwell on the results against Birmingham City and Derby County (a), the noises coming out of the Bees’ camp have been a lot more positive this week.

Putting to one side the (albeit beautifully shot) video from the Griffin Park ministry of propaganda, what has been encouraging has been Lee’s talk about a step up of intensity and purpose on the training ground. Likewise, a heightened feeling of togetherness and determined attitude amongst the squad.

Why this was missing in the first place one can only speculate. However, what has happened has happened and we have plenty of time left to make a really decent season. Lee’s comments on the club site certainly press all the right buttons but, as ever, it is what happens at 3pm that counts. Let’s hope we are now in a better place for that challenge.

Lee Carsley hit all the right notes at the club press conference

Lee Carsley hit all the right notes at the club press conference

As for his selection, I’m keen to see what, if any, changes are (or can be, given injuries) made. There’s no doubting the potential of our players – it’s more what Lee can get out of them that Marinus and Roy were, seemingly, unable to do. Moving the ball forward and taking some shots would be a good start.

Still, Lee isn’t the only one with a selection poser. The club’s cringeworthy use of Twitter hashtags has been a regular subject of discussion on these pages (although it was nice to see Bournemouth join us yesterday). That said, credit where it is due and I’m loving their #BeeTheDJ campaign as supporters are given the opportunity to pick the pre-match music at Griffin Park.

It’s still not too late to put your selections forward in a feature that shows how the club, when it tries, can embrace social media and fans perfectly. A selection of great songs and our own supporters’ sense of humour are already on show.

That said, there’s no irony about my own selection. I love a bit of the Quo (the fecal Marguerita Time aside – sorry Rhino) and Down, Down is their finest four minutes. Indeed, alongside Merry Christmas, Everyone (Shakin’ Stevens) I’d easily rank it in the top five UK hit singles of all time.

Although much as I love it, even I’m not stupid enough to think we’d play a Christmas song in October.

#BeeTheDJ . If you don't ask…..

#BeeTheDJ . If you don’t ask…..

Nick Bruzon

Spend Christmas with Cliff, Jim White and maybe Victor

25 Dec

I’d like to start today by wishing a very happy Christmas to all Brentford fans and, indeed, any others who may be reading (you never know).

To be quite honest, I hadn’t even planned writing a column today until the stark realisation that I had forgotten to both clean the oven and dispose of Santa’s whisky / mince pie forced a somewhat premature rise.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

 Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

It's Christmas - I'm treating myself to the Tourjansky montage

It’s Christmas – I’m treating myself to the Tourjansky montage

Even off pitch, is this our most stylish squad ever?

15 Dec

Brentford unwound from the 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers (goals below for those that haven’t seen them yet) with a squad trip to Dublin. Whilst I’m sure that the majority of what goes on tour stays on tour, its good to see that some Christmas traditions are still being honoured.

 

Despite being (theoretically) a grown man, in my forties, there are certain aspects of the festive season that still bring an extra smile to the face. I won’t even contemplate shopping until the first play of “Merry Christmas, Everyone” by Shakin’ Stevens hits the airwaves. Only then, once the greatest Christmas song ever recorded has been played, are we ‘officially’ into the heart of the season.

Likewise, chocolate coins and a satsuma are still an essential part of December 25th. Forget the PS4 (if Mrs. Bruzon is reading, please don’t) these are still the king of traditional gifts.

From a sporting perspective, the Boxing Day fixture is one of the first I look out for, purely because there’s nothing finer than catching up with your friends for the game after the big day,

And then, of course, there’s the Christmas jumper. Indeed, our reader may have noted the column last month on this very subject and the efforts of the Premiership teams to make their own ‘bespoke’ version. Whilst the Brentford clubshop may not have risen to the challenge just yet, it’s fair to say the players haven’t let the side down.

Alan Judge has shared this instantgram picture of the squad on their Dublin trip, rocking the Christmas look.

Even off the field , this is still the most stylish Brentford squad ever

Is there anything Sam can’t make look good?

What more can you say? In the words of Noddy Holder, “Ittttsssssss, Chrrrriissstmassss

Now, who’s for a bit of Shaky?