Tag Archives: Shandon Baptiste

Christian Eriksen IS a Bee. Biggest, ever signing confirmed.

31 Jan

It’s official. My word!! Christian Eriksen is an actual Bee. Brentford official made the much anticipated announcement on Monday morning with the player signing a reported six-month contract. The Denmark international midfielder and former Ajax, Spurs and Inter Milan man goes into the squad and is now, in theory, available for Everton. For Manchester City. For the rest of our first Premier League campaign. If Pontus Jansson was a marquee signing then the acquisition of Eriksen is ten times better. What a way to start a Monday morning.

We’ve been reading the stories for the last fortnight or so. What seemed like the most ludicrous rumour slowly talking shape. Gathering substance. Early last week, a Danish film crew flew over to talk with fans in The Griffin about the possibility of the move coming to fruition. The feeling amongst those of us with an ear to the ground suggesting that, for once, this wasn’t click-bait but actually something with legs.

Then, Sunday evening, Sky Sports were amongst those running a story about how the deal was done. Extensive medical tests passed and personal terms with Brentford agreed. The signing expected to be made later in the week. Exciting news to fall asleep to and then even better to wake up with. At 8am this morning, it happened. The news confirmed. The most remarkable conclusion to the awful, awful events of Euro 2020 officially revealed. For Christian alone, let alone the supporters sure to welcome him with open arms.

The excitement around TW8 palpable. Its’ all anyone has been talking about over the winter break, that brief diversion over the weekend aside (Sergi’s new hairstyle, obv). A signing so contrary to our model that it almost defies belief. 109 caps for Denmark. 36 international goals. An attacking midfielder who is genuinely up there with the very best players in world football. And he’s coming to Brentford. That’s a fact which cannot be overstated enough. It’s simply incredible

One can’t help but think back to what happened over the summer. The raw emotion. The obvious connection. Let’s not pretend it won’t be close to everyone’s minds when he runs out with Brentford for the first time. It’s the instinctive reaction but, equally, we have to put trust in medical science. Not least Christian and his family. In the fact that this wouldn’t be allowed to happen if there was thought to be any chance of risk to the player.

If nothing else, we’ve that huge connection to CRY. Andy Scott retired early whilst we’ll never forget Rob Rowan and remain eternally thankful for his legacy. You can still donate here, btw.

For now, all we can do is look forward with excitement. With lips being licked. Let’s also remember that Christian hasn’t played since the Euros. Is it feasible to expect him to hit the ground running or will it be a cautious reintroduction to first team football? One can only assume the later. Whether Everton is too soon, who knows? Setting up the winner for Ivan at Manchester City, perhaps? Or even bagging it himself?

If nothing else, what does Thomas Frank now do with his midfield? With his entire team? The international power trio of Norgaard, Eriksen and Jensen is one the headline writers will be screaming out for. The core of the Danish midfield now at the centre of ours. Then what of Vitaly and Shandon? Of the imminent return for Josh Dasilva? From looking thinner than the laughs in an average episode of My Family (happy now, Mrs Browns Boys fan?) we’re now stuffed to the gunnels. Spoiled for choice with options that just can’t be met in full. What a lovely problem for Thomas to have. What a way to perhaps push Ivan higher up and focus on doing what he does best. To spare him from having to cover so much of that additional ground.

It was the GPG who nailed it in the build-up last night. All of a sudden, Bradley Walsh becomes only the second most famous person to sign for the Bees.

Or the third depending on where you put Chris Kamara. One thing’s for sure, this news is unbelievable. Get used to it though. Things have just become very real. The only thing to perhaps eclispe Frank Lampard’s first game in charge of Everton at the weekend may have just happened. One thing’s for sure, the return to training could be fun today.

Now, time to go to the back of the wardrobe and dig out those 96-98 shirts….

Time to get these out once again

Nick Bruzon

Heroes and Villans at Lionel Road. Was this the worst dive ever?

3 Jan

Brentford are now half way through a first Premier League campaign that finds the Bees on 23 points and as close to the Champions League spots as we are the the relegation zone (a difference of 12 in either direction). The first game of 2022 seeing a 2-1 victory in a pulsating game with Aston Villa. A game where the Bees started weighed down by lethargy but ended it on fire. So much so that cringey last minute theatrics were brought into play but, thankfully, the officials were not fooled by the sniper in the crowd. Saman Ghoddos being a good yard away from Trézéguet as the Villa man pulled off the worst piece of acting since Mrs. Brown’s Boys graced our screens. A dive Tom Daley would have been proud of. Now, its onwards and upwards to Southampton and then Liverpool….

A sniper takes aim. Surely…..

Talk about a game of two halves. Brentford were awful at first. Slow. Disintersted. Leaden. One North stand observer would explain afterwards how she spent he first half hour doing her accounts on spreadsheet whilst her other half spent the time watching , well…. What he was watching was best summarised as: somebody from the world of music watching his son watching the flight tracker app on his mobile phone. I know Villa were hard to beat but it wasn’t that bad an opening period, was it?

A change in starting XI seeing Sergi in for Dominic Thompson (bench) and Mads Roerslev continuing at right wing back. Kris Ajer was, at least, on the bench with Mads Bech retaining his place in the middle. A midfield trio of Frank the Tank, Christian Norgaard and Matthias Jensen supporting Wissa and Ivan Toney up top. Shandon Baptiste making way. Only Mads Bech keeping us in it during a ghastly first 40 minutes.

Danny Ings produced the opening goal with little more than a quarter hour gone. Emi Buendia, our scourge of last season, producing a moment of absolute brilliance in the middle of the park to open up the Brentford midfield and release Ings. The Aston Villa man making no mistake with an inch perfect drive that squeezed between the despairing finger tips of Alvaro Fernandez and the far post. 1-0 Villa and it could, probably should have been more. Brentford not at the races. Or perhaps we were, because we certainly weren’t at a flat feeling Lionel Road.

Then, the game exploded into life with half-time beckoning. Mads Roerslev exchanging passes with Jensen and then breaking forward down the right. An inch perfect ball across the face of the box found Wissa. One touch, control and then a left footed curler guided home with laser like precision. Martinez in goal left with no hope. That trademark celebration igniting the crowd and his team mates from their slumbers.

Watched this on MOTD2 a few times 🙂

As we’ve said many, many times  – possession and chances are all well and good but the only thing that truly counts is the amount of times the ball has hit the back of the net. Aston Villa should have been out of sight. Instead, it was Steven Gerrard rather than Thomas Frank smashing the tea cups as the opening period ended up 1-1. Brentford with a solitary effort but what a way to take it. What a way to come back to life.

From that point on it was game over. Thomas Frank’s substitutions just heaping the pressure on. First the determined Ghoddos. Here was a man playing for his chance against Southampton. Then Baptiste who gave a masterclass in midfield. His partnership with Norgaard a constant thing of beauty. Chuck in Vitaly for a late cameo and it ended about as good as it can from a playing perspective (certainly, given the options available at present). Then, Mads Roerslev cemented his place in history. Became our 11th Premier League goal scorer.

With 83 minutes gone, Shandon played it into the box on the diagonal. The overlapping Roerslev leathered it at Martinez who could only push it back into the wing back’s path. There was no mistake with that second bite of the cherry. If Lionel Road had erupted for Wissa, the roof was positively torn off this time around. Oh, my. What a moment. What a sound. What a feeling. What a win, we hoped….

It’s Brentford, innit. Another 7(seven) minutes plus a further five of injury time added on saw Martinez charging up for the last few corner kicks. It had been bad enough against Leeds. Surely lightning couldn’t strike twice? Surely?

It didn’t, as much thanks to the alertness of the officials after Trezeguet had channelled the spirit of Rivaldo as one magnificent save from Alvaro Fernandez. How Ings didn’t level I have no idea but there was our ‘keeper to keep it out at point blank range. The spirit of Elland Road well and truly exorcised.

Fairplay to Villa. They deserved more than their nothing based on effort. One can only imagine the words had Dean Smith been at the helm still. But football hangs on moments. Hangs on goals scored. The simple truth is that Brentford seized theirs and stopped the visitors doing the same. It may have been scrappy at times but there was no disputing the quality of the goals or the phenomenal second half effort. Had we been scuppered by Trézéguet’s blatant cheating late on there may well have been a riot. Thankfully, justice was done.

Next up, the FA Cup trip to Port Vale and then back to back away games in the League. Southampton first and then Liverpool. With the African Cup of Nations seeing the Anfield outfield denied a galaxy of starts, could we be hopeful of taking a minimum four points from these two games? Who knows? Play like we started yesterday and we’ll be coming home from both empty-handed. Play like we finished it and anything is possible…..

The player review is up now and you can find that here. Until then, nothing more to do but reflect on a job well done. The table doesn’t lie. Nor does the scoreline. We’ve been hard done by at home this season when playing out of our skins (Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City in particular). For once, it was nice to see that despite a woeful start, chances can be taken. Points can be earned.

Well played all round. Until then, here’s that dive……..

Nick Bruzon

Leeds. Leeds fall apart. Again. Then do the unthinkable….

5 Dec

Where to even start with that? Leeds United 2 Brentford 2. The proverbial game of two halves. One which began with Ivan Toney absent through Covid (he’ll also miss Watford and Manchester United I believe) ended with the Bees conceding the equaliser just seconds before the five minutes injury time had completed. It was as close as you’ll get to securing all three points and whilst of course we’d all have taken the draw if offered it up front (would that such a thing were possible), to come so close feels like an absolute kick to the unmentionables right now. You could hear the cheer from Elland Road to Gibraltar, such was the relief that greeted Patrick B@&ford’s late, late equaliser. Instead, one can only look to the positives and prep for Watford on Friday. 

Full time at Elland Road

After the no show at Tottenham, this was a different Brentford team. Literally and mentally. Ivan and Onyeka out; Baptiste and Roerslev in. Sergi sitting up top. The Bees going for it from the off. More pressure in the opening five minutes than there had been all game at Spurs. Leeds happy to sit back and absorb as Brentford pushed. Up. The opening quarter hour one way traffic although no out and out chance. Bryan coming closest. The hosts coming back into it to start taking control themselves and then… disaster.

Charlie Goode picked up the ball and set off on a mazy run forward. Taking the ball to Leeds before losing it with a sloppy pass. The game taken back to the Bees and there was Tyler Roberts to give the home side the lead. 27 minutes on the clock and all the anticipation, gone. All the momentum, gone. All the positivity, gone. Gone in a heartbeat. Brentford with no answer and hanging on for half-time. Supporters left with that feeling that comes when about to watch Match of the Day, only to find it cancelled and replaced with a repeat of My Family (happy?). Oh Kris Marshall. How we laughed.

Mr. Harper’s boys. And girls

1-0 down at half-time. Elland Road silent, barring the sound of crockery being smashed. Teacups being thrown. Rollickings administered. Arses being kicked. Possibly. Whatever Thomas Frank did or said, The Bees came out a side possessed. Playing with purpose. With drive . With passion. Leeds on the back foot. Sergi Canos pulling the strings and all of a sudden it was 1-1. Shandon Baptiste getting on the end of it. The Spaniard with the assist and then coming close minutes after. Oooh. How didn’t he score? 

We didn’t have to wait long for the lead. This time, there was to be no hesitation from Sergi. Linking with Bryan before blasting home just after the hour. The goal had been coming and was celebrated in style. The cry of ‘Leeds. Leeds are falling apart. Again’. belted out from the visiting fans. The smiles broad and the songs loud. Brentford continuing to drive. Leeds collapsing at a rate that was well and truly in keeping with the infamous song. Wissa, on for Sergi, looking fleet of foot. The goal not quite coming and Fernandez in nets, having already pulled off a number of smart saves, helping run down the clock with sportsman like efficiency. Get ball. Dive on it. Wait. Wait….. Waiiiitttt. Distribute. The crowd giving it the expected reaction. “Salt with your chips, Sir”?

We interrupt this article for a moment to visit the home of Alanis Morissette in Canadia. The singer is in the library, leafing through the dictionary and rechecking the definition of Ironic. And also unlucky, which it isn’t. 

Back at Elland Road, a colossal five minutes of time added on have been, err, added on. Brentford still trying to take the ball out of defence but understandably also trying to close out the game. Yes, there have been a few fouls (and a shonky yellow for Rico) but this was excruciating. Where did it come from? 91. 92. 93. 94. A ball is played in to Fernandez who can only flap it over the line. He makes the catch and it’s game over when he hoofs it forward. Instead, a corner is awarded…

The inevitability…..

Leeds’ goalkeeper Meslier comes charging into the crowded box. The ball is swung in and over. The ‘keeper makes a nuisance of himself and there’s the aforementioned England international to steer it in for 2-2.  Urghhh For once, it’s Bees rather than Leeds who have fallen apart. 

The noise is immense. The silence from the away end, deafening. The game as good as over. Then it is. Urghhhh.

Look. A point is a point. The second half was one way traffic from us until the death and a marked step up from that game at Spurs We were also missing Ivan and will again. Watford and Manchester United next up for Brentford with Sergi also joining him on the sidelines for The Hornets’ game. That was a pre kick-off blow that might have knocked the stuffing out of most teams but instead Brentford rose to the challenge. In the cold light of day it will feel ok. Right now it’s just plain frustrating. Oh, what might have been but for two sloppy goals.

Instead, all we can do is look at the table. Eleventh as it stands. We could have been higher but perhaps this will serve as an education. Just as against Brighton, failure to close out a game we might have won or keep focus until the final whistle has been met with joy for the opposition. At least, this time, we’re still going home with something. It just could have been so much more….

We’ll do the player review tomorrow. There’s only so much can be written on a coach back to London via a mobile phone. Then it’s looking forward to Watford. To Manchester United. To having Ivan revitalised and perhaps even a few more points in the bag.

For now, well played Brentford. Our fans were immense. Leeds did what they had to and the relief was palpable. Those fingers from before? That was how their director Victor Orta greeted this result…

Nick Bruzon

Don’t shoot the messenger. Cup and league beckon in a huge week.

21 Sep

Do you know the way to Oldham? One in each hand. With recent seasons seeing our paths head in very much different directions, its been a while since we’ve been able to crack this one out. Needs must, though, despite the fact that Tuesday night’s league cup third round tie takes place in Brentford. With the Bees in fine form following Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves, it’s fair to say positivity is up. Even Thomas Frank’s most fierce detractors from last season are now lavishing social media praise on our head coach. Hmmm. And with Liverpool next up in the Premier League, the referee for that one has now been named. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

First up, the cup. Last season’s epic run to the semis was all the more frustrating in the fact that it was played out behind closed doors. Thanks a bunch, Covid. With Premier League clubs being knocked out left right and centre, all we could do was follow the action on our computer screens. Ivan Toney’s heroics and tussle with VAR at Spurs nothing more than the stuff of internet streaming. The only consolation being that at least some of us eventually got to see Brentford at Wembley where ‘the curse’ was finally broken in some style. A play-off campaign that ended in a positive manner (not a typo) and celebrations the likes of which we’d not seen in a long, long time. Kew Bridge on fire longer than even Will Grigg (Now at Rotherham United, if you were wondering). 

An epic cup run played out in empty stadia

Given how we missed out on seeing it all unfold last time out, for that reason alone I’m hopeful for big things once more. The much maligned league cup, a tournament of B-teams and squad rotation, has a new lease of life as supporters up and down the land are relishing the opportunity to watch football once more. Any excuse. The game with Forest Green Rovers saw a much larger crowd than normal and we can expect more tonight. If any additional lure were needed, there’s cheap pre-match beer and food for early entrants to the stadium. Free chili in The Hive may be a gone from Griffin Park, but the Lionel Road replacement isn’t bad.  

As for the actual game, well on paper it looks about as lopsided as they come. Oldham Athletic rock bottom of League Two, with 6 defeats and 4 points from their opening 8 fixtures. Supporters are protesting against current owners, the Lemsagam family, in a bid to oust the Moroccans whose tenure has seen relegation, the threat of administration and nine managers since 2018. Cripes, not even Nottingham Forest get through them that fast.

Sad times at Ice Station Zebra. Supporters protest.

The Bees, on the other hand, have picked up in the Premier League where we left off in the Championship. Wolves, the latest side to surrender all three points as Brentford beat the clock and our opponents. An edge of game management deployed against us in such brutal fashion by Brighton the week before, had the home fans up in arms and still raging 48 hours later. If this is how they react to David Raya changing his gloves, they’re going to go into meltdown against Brighton (who can also add falling down like the mutant offspring of Michael Douglas and Justin Fletcher to their catalogue of fan enraging tactics).

For me (Clive), and its easy to say this when we finally played a game to within an inch of the rules, it was a necessary way to close it out with just ten men on the pitch. Shandon Baptiste’s second yellow card also meaning he’ll miss out night, which is a real shame, albeit he’ll be back for Liverpool if my calculations are correct. After the Brighton game it was noted on these pages that, “Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow”.

Of course, Thomas doesn’t read this or take tactical advice from the internet. If he did he’d have been ‘out’ last season, but it was pleasing to see us adapt to circumstance after getting off to that flying start. Only Stuart Atwell on VAR keeping the scoreline vaguely respectful for a home team who,  despite all their frustration, managed the princely total of ‘0’ shots on target. 

Don’t shoot me. The stats don’t lie, as Shakira almost once sang. They DID deserve more but you could argue so did we. So does Dean Smith every week. Even Bryan rattling the woodwork late on could have put things further out of sight. Instead, the lesson about balls in the back of then rather than possession being what wins games was once again in evidence. Thankfully, Brentford were the ones delivering it rather than being on the receiving end.

So with the Bees in their groove and the cup providing all it does, I’m expecting a big crowd and a good result. It won’t be easy. Never is. Under estimating any opponent or ‘teams like..’ The cardinal error to make. If anyone knows that over the last few years it’s us. With Oldham perhaps looking for some welcome distraction, they aren’t going to surrender this when the opportunity for morale boosting win and money spinning fourth round tie is at their mercy. It’s going to be fun, that’s for sure. It’s going to be tasty. And that’s just the pies.

Elsewhere, the referee and assistants for the Liverpool game on Saturday have been named. The great news being that Sian Massey-Ellis is part of the team. Her positive reputation more than precedes her as one of English football’s most on the ball officials. The not so good news being that she’s on VAR assistant duties. And for the man in the middle, we’ve been treated to….. Stuart Atwell. Stuart. Atwell. Say no more. His reputation precedes him as one of English football’s most off the boil officials.

Don’t shoot the messenger….

Still, as Rob The BEEE put it: Worst ref in the Prem by a distance…then again, in a game we should lose anyway, rolling the dice on a dodgy decision might not be a bad thing!

Perhaps he’s on to something. Come on Stuart, proves us wrong….

Nick Bruzon

Very much a case of lesson learned.

12 Sep

And there you go. Felled by the ultimate sucker punch. Brentford dominant but failing to capitalise on the plethora of half-chances, first half especially, that we created. Brighton offering little beyond stoic resistance, one wasted opportunity from Danny Wellbeck and a level of shithousery that looked as though they’d cloned Neal. Then, in the 90th minute, one moment of brilliance from Leandro Trossard. The Seagull opening up the Brentford defence like a can of sardines, Jensen watching and Pontus unable to connect with a lunging challenge as the visiting player curled a beauty past David Raya from the edge of the box and broke Brentford hearts. 1-0 Brighton. No complaints at all after a first defeat for the Bees. Very much a case of lesson learned about taking the chance when it comes. Winning games is about balls in the back of the net rather than deserving to win. Next up Wolves. Then Liverpool. Nobody said it would be easy.

Shithousery and unchallenged falling over was the order of the day

Ok. The game. With Onyeka and Ghoddos both fit, the only change was Baptiste leapfrogging the pair of them to start in midfield. Kudos to Thomas Frank for this call. I thought Shandon was wonderful. Driving the team forward and spreading the ball out. A gutsy call to start him after so long out but a great one. The downside here being he visibly wilted later in the second half. Understandable, and not a dig at a player who had a great game, but we were saying in the stands that he needed to be switched out. It came ten minutes too late. That, combined with the addition of Jensen, rather than the flair of Wissa put the Bees on the backfoot and let our visitors back into a game they would eventually snatch. A most unThomas like tactic of settling for the draw rather than going for the win. 

Had it ended 0-0 we’d have been happy. It could have ended with a win had we been a tad more fortune in front of goal. Ivan Toney with a quite delightful first half effort from 40 yards . A dinked chip that had no right to stay so flat from that distance floated agonisingly over the crossbar with goalkeeper Sánchez well off his line. It was an ‘if only’ moment to match his hitting the underside of the bar at Wembley and would have been a goal to rival his finish from the Janelt sky ball at Forest.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. But early on and with Brentford bossing the play, as much as the ref and opposition would allow them, chances came. Bryan moving in to the top forward position and finding himself with four opportunities of varying degrees. There’s one he might feel in retrospect he should have put away but at least the chances are coming. On another day we’d have been two or three up at half-time and romped it. That’s not how football works. Brighton managed the game quite magnificently from their perspective and made no mistake at the death when the door opened an inch. There was Trossard to boot it wide open and hoover up all three points. 

In the end, a frustrating afternoon of coming so close. Brighton, as stingy in defence as we had gone into this game expecting. No inch offered. No quarter given. No goal scored. Brentford pressing but without that moment of good fortune or game changing genius to break them down. An early yellow card for Sergi put him on high alert and his ultimate removal from the field of play by Thomas probably no bad thing, on this day. 

We can’t look back at this now without mentioning referee Graham Scott. Cripes, Graham Norton would have done a better job out in the middle and he’s a comedian. Mind you, so is Scott on that showing. The Albion players going down as easily as a sack of floor magnets (Harry’s choice of phrase and he’s only 8). Bournemouth levels of game spoilery. Yet instead of a Begovic meltdown and a Mepham red card we had an impotent referee and an opposition who played their game to perfection. Maupay at the end showing this to the fore, playing Ivan like a fiddle as we attempted to restart. 

No complaints about that either, by the way. We loved this attitude when he was at Griffin Park. A leopard won’t change his spots and we knew to expect it. What came as more of a surprise was this approach running through the whole of Graham Potter’s team and the ref’s blind eye to the whole thing.

Perhaps it’s the Premier League. Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow. Let’s not forget, either, that this was a third win out of four for Brighton. They’ve had a great start and this is why. Solid, solid work.

Still, no point crying over spilt milk. It was as devastating as it comes when the game ended yesterday. To run it so close and fall down on the line. For Brentford to look so promising but come away with nothing. It was hard but at least we remained competitive. 

Tough to take at full time

One thing’s for sure, if anybody was under any doubt as to how hard it’s going to be getting results at this level then perhaps this was the reality check we needed. Congratulations, Brighton. For Brentford, back to finishing school before the game with Wolves. After that, we’ve got Liverpool at Lionel Road. Anything less than 110% focus in our first game with a team of genuine title contenders (sorry Arsenal, but…) and it could be brutal. Get it right and it could be the stuff of legends. 

We can’t change the disappointment but we can use all the positives. Now bring on Saturday. Bring on Wolves.  

Nick Bruzon  

Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

1 Aug

August is upon us. Anything happening this month? Something something something Premier League. Less than two weeks for Brentford to wait until Arsenal come to visit. Exciting times are ahead and, already, under way. Having drawn with Manchester United during the week Saturday saw our first game at Lionel Road since the play-offs. It was the return of Said Benrahama with West Ham United for a pre-season run out that, as much as anything else, gave us a look at new players, old friends and our ‘actual’ seats for when it all starts properly. Of course ‘Corona Virus restrictions (a phrase to top the list of three word horrors) has meant that any entry afforded to our new home so far has been very much in the hands of fate as to where we were positioned. No complaints – even getting in was a privilege but it was an added bonus yesterday seeing how things would be when the season proper kicks off on Friday week.

A new chart topper for 2021

First up, West Ham. The visitors took it 1-0 courtesy of none other than Said Benrahama. It had to be really. The goal was the sort of top draw effort we saw him pull out the bag time and again in Brentford colours. It was a moment of sublime skill and if the hammers had to win, at least it was via spectacular effort that even had the Bees faithful offering respectful applause. Those that weren’t booing him through the game. I get we weren’t going to cheer him after the warm up but booing? Errrrr … Kayla pretty much nailing it on Twitter. Come for the comment, stay for the goal.

See also : the solitary voice constantly calling out 4 game loanee Ryan Fredericks (2012) as a Brentford reject. To do it once could be considered terrace wit. Constantly? Just odd. Still, it wouldn’t be football without a bit of niche reference and, frankly, how good to watch a game with fans present. Even away support who made a vociferous effort in the South-East corner prior to kick off then promptly decided to go all Arsenal i.e. silent.

For Brentford, another game where the opportunity to use the full length of the substitutes bench was taken. Shandon Baptiste impressed again with a jinking (happy, Jim?) run through the Hammers’ defence and a second half shot that came back off the post amongst several highlights. Likewise Frank Onyeka, whose first half performance was littered with impressive touches, runs and passing before injury brought it to a possible early conclusion. Fingers crossed his substitution was nothing more than precautionary. At least he appeared , unlike Kris Ajer who was again absent. Talk on the terrace suggesting that Celtic were delaying his paperwork although how true that is, of course, nothing more than conjecture.

Rico Henry was another welcome return. Pace down the left flank mirroring Mads Roerslev on the right as part of a defence that also included three centre backs. Is this how we’ll go in the Premier league ? Expect more clues on Saturday against Valencia. Regardless, expect Rico to start for sure. Like Josh Dasilva he was much missed in the run in last season and whilst the England U-21 still remains absent, at least we’ve one star name back in the starting XI .

To be fair, though, there was no poor showing. Brentford 2021/22 seem to have hit the ground with a consistently strong start all round. How much of this translates to league football remains to be seen. I tend not to read too much into pre-season showings but as much as anything else, it’s just nice to get back in front of our team. To see old faces aswell as a lot of new ones. To have a beer before and after the game. Even during – given the catering was not up and running at Lionel Road. Fast poor Guinness the way to go along with a lot of spicy offerings on the food front, including that most important of pre-match staples : the chicken balti pie. Even if there didn’t appear to be the more traditional burgers or hot dogs on offer which did seem somewhat of a surprise. Then again, perhaps it was just me being unobservant. Equally, seeing Thomas doing his end of game ‘thumbs up’ felt like things were back to normal.

Full time at Lionel Road

The other major absentees were Buzz and Buzzette. Presumably just waiting for that XXXXX kit to be delivered by Umbro. Who could forget the shameful pensioning off of Gunnersaurus driver Jerry Quy in October? Another victim of the corona virus cull. At the time, chairman Cliff Crown assured us they were safe but, to date, there has been no sighting of our furry friends. Whilst I am sure there is nothing to fear in their protected disappearance, one can only hope they return for Valencia and Arsenal. Those funky dance moves aren’t going to bust themselves.

Initial positivity but further comment definitely still needed

What else to say? Simply put: It was GREAT to be back. Lionel Road is a fantastic place to watch football. It’s not Griffin Park but it IS home. I’ve been lucky enough to make three visits since we were first allowed back for that Blackburn game. I’m enjoying it more and more each time. The anticipation for what it’s like when the place is full is already off the scale. That game with Valencia will be another step closer and then we’re up and running. As much, it was seeing old friends again. Of stopping at The Griffin for a pint or two. Of seeing the play-off final remembered once more. Emiliano may no longer be with us how nice to see Ewan Peleschka still choosing to honour his hero on this season’s shirt. Truly, the hallmark of a champion .

Loyal

Nick Bruzon

Three points, no cake and Sean. There’s plenty of Terrace Talk ahead of tonight.

25 Feb

Luton Town away. Brentford are back on the road for the first of two games this week (the trip to Cardiff City is next up, on Saturday) with Leeds United still firmly in our sights. Victory tonight would take us to within three points, and infinitely superior goal difference, of the second placed team ahead of their own trip to Middlesbrough tomorrow. With Fulham also on hold until Wednesday, the prize offered up by any victory this evening is more than just three points. You can add a hearty dollop of pressure on the side.

The game against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday was frustrating but, ultimately, a point very much rescued. We kicked on from two goals down to equalise before coming ohh so close to making it three. Alas, it wasn’t to be. That’s football. You can’t win every game and we were up against a team who, let’s not forget, have genuine hopes of making it up to the top flight. 

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Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Now we face Luton Town – a club with their own Championship challenge. Albeit at the wrong end of the table. After an impressive start to the campaign, things have gone South somewhat and they find themselves propping up the rest. The Hatters are six points adrift of safety although you could add an extra one to that given a goal difference that is about as negative as Piers Morgan discussing Meghan Markle. This was, in part, caused by the 7(seven) goal bracketing inflicted by The Bees at Griffin Park back at the end of November.

The main question tonight being whether we face a fatally wounded animal or a rabid beast desperately fighting for survival?

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Kenilworth Cat – back in the day Luton very much had a rabid beast to inspire 

In part, that will be determined by the way Brentford are set up. For reasons unknown, Emiliano Marcondes seems to have been deemed the fall guy for Saturday’s points dropped. Really? Ok, he didn’t have a great game but who did – the first half especially.  Said seemed on a one man show to impress the cameras, Dalsgaard was wobbly, none of the midfield shone and even the normally unflappable David Raya was adjudged to have given away a soft penalty. Let’s not forget, either, that having been asked to fill in for Mbeumo at Birmingham City the week before, he was now asked to cover for Jensen. Could anyone do that?  Yet instead of recognising all this, the brave keyboard warriors (see also: early season Thomas Frank hate campaign) have been back out in force. Urghh.  

The flip side to all of this is that Shandon Baptiste and Mads Roerslev both hit the ground running when they came on and really helped to haul us back into the game. On merit alone I’d expect at least the former to start this one with Emiliano dropping to the bench. For now. From there he can come on, score a screamer and send the hate mob packing. 

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Emiliano has had his moments this season. how does negativity help?

But if Jensen is still deemed unfit (as I believe to be the case), and Baptiste starts, I honestly think we have that ready made replacement to step in and inspire the Bees back to our winning ways. It seems an eternity since we last picked up three points although was only just the other week in the 3-2 over Middlesbrough. Ollie Watkins added to his haul at the weekend and will have both the Luton goal and Aleksander Orlov in his sights this evening. Brentford will be wearing the blue kit that has seen us score eight times in the two games it has been worn to date. More of the same would be very nice, thank you.

It promises to be a tense one. It could be an incredible one. Pack your cakes for the terrace (if you are a Fulham fan – or confused) and see you there.

I’m not sure if ‘impressive’ is the real  word of choice 

Talking of Fulham, don’t forget that our smattering of away tickets go on sale this afternoon. Priced at a level that would make Leeds United blush (possibly) the £35 for a TV game seems outrageous. Moreso for a club which cannot sell out their three sided ground – I heard them advertising on the radio, again, this morning. The Bees regularly take 6000 to The Cottage and so clearing the paltry allocation we’ve been offered this time around won’t be an issue. It’s more if anyone can justify what we are being asked to pay. Which of course, reluctantly, we will. Twenty’s plenty? Not at Fulham.

The other thing to catch my eye was a request to ‘Save The Terrace Talk one’. This after supporter Bradley Tomkins, amongst others, picked up on Saturday’s programme piece calling for a one-off return of our favourite video feature from days gone by. Whilst former host Sean Ridley has gone on public record as saying he’d be well up for it if asked, Bradley has shared a somewhat terse message regarding the possibility….

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Isn’t that the point? We all know he has left. We all know he isn’t going to do this full time. Instead, much like a returning player / staff member etc it was more a case of recognising somebody who,  if not perhaps deemed an official club legend, was certainly a popular figure from back in the day.

For now, Terrace Talk will have to live on in our memories. Unless, of course, you think a quick email (mine is below although I couldn’t possibly suggest that anyone keen simply copy/paste and send to to enquiries@brentfordfc.com ) may reap rewards : 

Dear Brentford

I note with interest your decision to publish an article in Saturday’s match-day programme (Blackburn Rovers) asking whether the ever-popular Terrace Talk feature could return for a one-off Griffin Park farewell? See also: Centre Circle Challenge.

Whilst I am fully aware that former host Sean Ridley no longer works for the club, as a passionate supporter you may also be aware that he has been in direct contact with yourselves saying he would happily be involved should the opportunity arise.

As such, I wanted to write and show some formal support in the hope that, somehow, words could collide and  – just like the many other returning stars we have seen this season – Sean and the supporters be given their own chance to say goodbye to Griffin Park in that unique style.

Nick Bruzon

Storm in a B cup.

16 Feb

What an afternoon. Another point for Brentford, earned in horrific conditions at Birmingham City on the day Fulham were humped at home by basement club Barnsley and Nottingham Forest shared the spoils with West Bromwich Albion. The only fly in the ointment being a win for Leeds United (not a typo) at home to Bristol City but things at the business end of the Championship remain as tight as ever. And if you haven’t seen it, the club have announced news about our final * ever game at Griffin Park.   

We can only start at rain soaked and wind swept St. Andrews where Thomas Frank had to give his BMW a refit. Marcondes coming in for Mbeumo to join our much touted front three. With Shandon Baptiste making an impressive full debut in place of Josh Dasilva it was a new look Brentford side that began this one. The team taking on an even less familiar look after just a few minutes when Mathias Jensen had to go off, replaced by Dru Yearwood. Birmingham scented blood and went for the jugular.

Attack followed attack until the inevitable happened. Jude Bellingham (16, apparently) had already hit the inside of the post before Lukas Jutkiewicz popped up with the inevitable. A ball played in across the goal line eluded everyone until it reached the striker who made no mistake. Urghh. The Birmingham storm unable to be weathered. The start, dreadful.

And then it all changed. Brentford woke up. The desire to participate kicked in. Within minutes, we were level. Ethan Pinnock heading home from a corner to send the Bees wild. Get in – that’s more like it!! City not even able to blame the bench warming Harlee Dean for failing to keep that out.

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Goooaaaalllll !!

On we pressed. The ascendency very much swinging towards Brentford, despite the weather in our faces. A blatant penalty denied. Lee Camp in goal for Blues pulling off save after save. A second half shot somehow scrambled off the line by Fosu (on for sub, subbed Yearwood)  as Camp kept the Bees at bay. His one man defence saving a point for a City side who could perhaps consider themselves unfortunate to have their own penalty appeal turned down late on.

Frustration from the pitch had already been boiling over in the stands, where one green jacket clad supporter – giving it the billy big balls to the 1500+ Brentford supporters – went arse over tit on the  security awning draped over the seats intended to keep us apart. Magnificent comic timing if nothing else. The price for his bravery – a chorus of jeers, heckles, laughter and the attentions of the stewards. Followed up by the police, who asked him help with their inquiries. Outside the stadium.

And so it finished. One each and a point we can be pleased with. Birmingham should probably have stormed out of sight. Likewise, justifiably upset by decisions towards the end where Norgaard was also lucky to escape with just a yellow. With other results mostly going our way, especially at Fulham where Barnsley pulled off a magnificent 3-0 win, only Leeds United have taken true advantage. Fair enough. They’ve a good team and despite their own well documented fragility are still managing to hang in there. There’s a lot to be said for that.

We’re unbeaten. We’ve played really well in testing circumstances. The referee didn’t help either team and, being honest. I’m happy with another point on the board. Three would have been nice. On another day we’d have got them. Birmingham City no doubt thinking and feeling the same. They’ve been on form and I’m happy to get away with safely.

Elsewhere, Tuesday is THE big day. Tickets for the game against Barnsley, our last ever at Griffin Park *, go on sale then. The announcements of how this is happening will be made on Monday, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Twitter has the first notes up already – below.

For now, it’s the calm after the storm. Next up is Blackburn at home on Saturday. With who knows what in between…

* subject to play-off fixtures

Nick Bruzon

 

Welcome to the best bus stop in Hounslow. Window slams shut in style.

1 Feb

Brentford travel to Hull City this lunchtime with the transfer window having closed in just about the best way possible. None of our much touted big names have gone, although it was sad to see Josh Clarke depart after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. Instead, Bees Boss Thomas Frank pulled out the half chewed BIC to make a double transfer swoop for Shandon Baptiste and Tariqe Fosu. Both players coming in from Oxford United for a combined undisclosed fee thought to be in the £3m ballpark. Something which, if true, would seem to represent tremendous value – not least going by the reaction of Oxford supporters on social media. There was further good news, although not for today’s hosts, with Jarrod Bowen completing his move to West Ham United and Markus Henriksen joining Bristol City on loan. This, after Kamil Grosicki began the exodus when he switched to the Championship’s current second placed team, West Bromwich Albion.

For Brentford, this would seem to be yet more of the shrewd business that has typified our life in the Championship and before. Matthew Benham and his team once more ahead of the curve. Midfielder Baptiste, just 21,  has already featured 42 times for Oxford whilst Fosu has 10 goals in 33 appearances after the attacker joined the U’s from Charlton over the summer. Now he is a Bee. Baptiste is described by Thomas as having, “Great one-on-one skills in the middle of the pitch. He is energetic, great on the ball and works very hard pressing when we do not have it”. He is the one that fans of both clubs seem to be buzzing about and will certainly add some more beef to midfield. Moreso with Kamo now joining those on the sidelines. As Thomas went on to say, “he looked like a Brentford player.

One would imagine the game at Hull City today is way too soon for either player to even trouble the bench. But then, the team that went down to Tim Robinson and Nottingham Forest on Tuesday will no doubt be looking to prove that the result there was nothing more than a glitch in the matrix. A night when, for once, we were second best to jus abut everyone – our opponents, the officials and gamesmanship. Whether Pontus is available remains to be seen. He was conspicuous by his absence from yesterday’s ‘official’ pictures on social media, but otherwise expect no change.

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Official released this picture of Shandon on Twitter

For Hull City, expect a very different team. The out door has not so much swung as been blown off the hinges. One has to feel for their fans – it is a situation that Brentford have been in many, many times before. Moreso, the Tigers having to suffer the indignity of an alleged £20m bid from West Ham United (a deadline day story that is as much a staple as Harry Redknapp leaning out of his car window) actually coming to fruition instead of being nothing more than the usual rumour. Losing the third top scorer in the division in Jarrod Bowen is going to be a tough enough act to follow. Combine this the departure of Grosicki to West Brom and it really is a case of losing two huge names. Whilst former captain Henriksen may not have overly troubled the scorers recently, this haemorrhaging of players is not what anybody would want heading into a game.

This one is huge. They all are at present but Brentford know that winning the lunchtime kick off will take us within three points of West Bromwich Albion in second. Whilst The Baggies do, of course, have that home banker against Luton Town, they are on somewhat of a wobble at present. Our playing first, in the televised game, could only heap further pressure if we are able to pick up the points that everybody is so desperate to get hold of.

Tuesday night WAS disappointing, no question. But if has been and gone. The excitement last night was palpable, with our star names retained and more talent added to the squad. Are Shandon and Tarique the final pieces in our promotion push? The missing links to drive us over the line and up to the hallowed ground of the Premier League?

To even be having such thoughts still seem ridiculous but you can’t deny what is happening around us. Let’s not kick the opportunity and treat this like the joke that so many outside our club think it is. Instead, this is the time to really go for it. And I can’t wait. We may be (relatively) small but that doesn’t make us any less of a threat.

As Emma Briden nailed it on Twitter yesterday, “Welcome to best bus stop in Hounslow”.

Now bring on Hull City…..

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Nick Bruzon