Tag Archives: Sheffield United

Newcastle United share a pain that Brentford know so well as Keith does his thing once more.

6 Apr

Keith Stroud. A name to strike fear into football fans up and down the land has done it again. Of course, at Brentford we are well aware of the card happy man in black’s past form. Now Championship table toppers Newcastle United are the latest club to fall foul of his obsession with random decision making in last night’s game with Burton Albion.

Who could forget the infamous battle of Bramall Lane? Rather than a League One promotion shootout between the Bees and Sheffield United, it was another game that turned into the Stroud show. “The maddest game of football that ever existed” said Mark Burridge after that one as it finished with three red cards shown, four penalties awarded and 12 players booked (8 alone in the first half). That the Bees came out of it with a point,despite playing most of the second half with 9 men, was more down to our own character than any protection from the referee.

It was a game which, to the casual observer, would suggest one akin to the titular battle. In reality it was nowhere close to that, with the hardest fought contest being that between Stroud’s ego and the frustration of both sets of supporters.

Whilst he’s never topped that moment in Sheffield, his name is one that still brings an almost audible wince of negativity (should such a thing be possible) whenever he is announced as a referee for a forthcoming game. His card ratio alone is, season on season, higher than just about any other official to take charge at Griffin Park . The current campaign has seen him show an incredible 171 yellows and sent off 12 players during his 39 games officiated. Only Uber have more bookings than Stroud, it seems.

Then, last night happened. With Newcastle United hosting Burton Albion in a league fixture (a phrase in itself which bears more than a moment’s consideration) they were awarded a penalty. With Matt Ritchie subsequently finding the back of the net for 1-0, Stroud struck. Social media went into meltdown as , for reasons unknown, rather than declaring the goal he chalked it off and gave a free kick to Burton.

This was later revealed to be for what Mr Stroud considered encroachment into the box by Dwight Gayle. Whilst the rules of the game dictate that the spot kick should be retaken in such a circumstance, Keith’s head and the rules of the game are not things that always see eye to eye,

Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake,” said a referee’s spokesman afterwards. Hmmm. Sorry about that folks. Imagine the furore had things then turned out differently to the eventual 1-0 home win for Newcastle?

I do feel sorry for Keith in many ways. To give credit, his recent performances officiating for Brentford have, by and large, been relatively restrained with no real controversy. He even changed his mind in our favour upon the advice of an assistant during the recent reverse at home to Wolves.  So we know he can do it. Unfortunately, there are so many games that see the other side of Keith.

The flamboyant flourish of a red card. The turning his back on a player he has just admonished. The random bookings and decisions offered out at a level not seen since Uriah Rennie. Yet he has been allowed to continue unchecked. Nobody has had a word and, instead, he has become almost a cult character. But for the wrong reasons.

People now expect bookings and oddity when Keith is in charge. People go into the game on edge. When he has a good one there’s a sense of relief more than a sense of pride. Season on season his statistics speak for themselves but no real action is taken to reign him in. Football isn’t that consistently dirty a game, except in Keith’s head.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

Equally though, last night bears additional scrutiny. This was no heat of the moment decision. This wasn’t a foul that needed to be replayed in the head. It was a basic rule of football that he got backwards in the most glaring of styles. But what about his assistants? Was no support given ? No advice offered? Or was this a case where Keith’s rule was law?

Let’s be clear, I’d hate to be a referee. Balls of steel and skin as thick as rhino’s are the pre-requisites. With players, journalists and fans all thinking they know better the ref is only ever on a hiding to nothing. He clearly loves what he does although, whilst I’d hate to see any serious sanction as a result, that’s no justification for allowing anyone to run around unchecked.

Will Keith ever change? Unlikely. Will the FA do anything? Expect a week’s demotion to the lower leagues and then business as usual.

Yet, out of all this, Keith may wake up this morning and look himself in the mirror. You never know. Perhaps this will be the catalyst that triggers some self-reflection and a reigning in of Keith the card.

We know he can do it. We’ve all seen him have good games. Why not just go back to being the anonymous man in the middle rather than the reputational nightmare he has allowed himself to become.

Can a leopard change his spots? You never know.

 

Nick Bruzon

Who are kings of the 888Sportderby? An honour for John and a gut busting revelation from the BBC archives.

29 Mar

Finally. We inch that bit closer to the return of Championship football. Brentford host Bristol City on Saturday in a game that most definitely has the whiff of goals about it. (So 0-0, then). Elsewhere our 888sport stablemates Nottingham Forest and Preston North End complete this season’s sequence of #888sportderby games when Mark Warburton’s team visit Deepdale. But who out of the Bees, Forest, North End and Birmingham will be lifting the trophy, should one exist, as ‘home international’ style champions? And (crowbar alert) talking of internationals, there was great news for John Egan last night as he made his debut for the Republic of Ireland. Plus, a disturbing discovery from the BBC historical archives that could blow the lid off everything we know and love about football.

First up, the final #888sportderby of the season. We’ve all seen the hashtags used on Twitter to promote games between the four teams that share a sponsor but who has come out on top when you tally them all together? Well, with just the aforementioned game to come, by my very rough calculations (and if anybody would like to redo the maths then please be my guest), Brentford are now uncatchable.

Doing the double over Nottingham Forest, combined with a win apiece against both Birmingham City (a) and the 5-0 home hammering of Preston sees us on 12 points from 6 games. That’s 4 points clear of North End who can only affect the table tomorrow by administering such a trashing it that it sends Forest below basement team Birmingham by means of goal difference.

Congratulations to Dean Smith on his first piece of silverware, albeit a totally fictional one. And if our club sponsors are reading (they’re not), how about a trophy with our name on it ? Its the least you could do after all those hashtags.

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The ‘as it stands’ 888sportderby table. Hashtag

Next up, the Republic of Ireland. I didn’t see it although, to be fair, I don’t think many people over here did. The game apparently buried on a channel even more obscure than BT Sport. Indeed, I saw one ‘blue ticked’ journalist whose own synopsis of the match was seemingly based on listening in to the local radio station.

So, as ever, there’s no match report on these pages. Instead, simply a huge congratulations to John for being the latest to join the list of Brentford players to have had the honour of representing their country. Whilst the Republic may have gone down (1-0) I have no doubt this will be the first of many for John. Certainly, if his club form is anything to go by.

And finally, the BBC. Regular readers will know of my love for footballing traditions. The orange ball in the snow, goals being celebrated by the roar of the crowd rather than a snatch of ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis or, indeed, ‘goal music of any sort and, of course, the daddy of then all – vidiprinter brackets. The sort that appeared on Grandstand – now the Sky Sports scrolly thing and other such programmes – to show when a team had scored 7(seven) goals.

Likewise, and as we all should know, the correct usage of brackets is with the subsequent text in lower case. 7(seven) rather than 7(Seven) or the somewhat brash preference of Sky, 7(SEVEN). So far, so good. We all know the drill even though, and it is incredible to think, not everybody agrees with the 7(seven) format.

No problem. With little Brentford activity this week, and in need of distraction, I started to sniff around the BBC archives. (Or YouTube). Specifically to lay this one to rest. What I stumbled across has left me reeling.

1984. Grandstand. A triple horror. Sheffield United earned the honour of a score clarification after six goals. Yes, six. Worse, it was in block capitals whilst there are no brackets. No. Brackets. What’s all that about? Score quantification shouldn’t begin at 6, surely? It is one of football’s most fundamental rules.

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All kinds of wrong with 6 SIX

Perhaps this was just a glitch in the matrix. Further digging leads us to a 1987 clip. Again, Grandstand. This time, there appears to be some form of cross-pollination. Nestled in amongst the football action on the vidiprinter were rugby scores (and, to be clear that’s the proper sort – Union). But regardless of the game’s clear superiority over League, even I wouldn’t have expected to see it in a football update. Why not just include the table tennis and horse racing updates (the other two staple events covered by mid-80s Saturday afternoon sport) ?

But if you are going to include rugby (union) at least get it right. NOTTINGHAM 62 PTS NORTHERN 7.

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No better in 1987

7? 7? With Rugby. This is wrong. All wrong. And why PTS for just one of the teams?

At the point, I gave up.A broken man. Instead, let’s just hope that with Brentford on fire, we put 7(seven) past City at the weekend. At least, that way, the BBC have the chance to right a historical wrong.

Nick Bruzon

What to do on FA Cup weekend? The best (and worst) of football film plus an offer for the fans.

18 Feb

With Brentford having gone missing in action at Chelsea last month, it means we’ve got a free weekend. Instead of a league game against Wolves at Griffin Park, our would be visitors host our FA Cup conquerors in a fifth round encounter that has all those classic ingredients to serve up a potential potato skin. As for Bees fans, we’ll need to put the tinfoil back to regular use and find something else to occupy us until we visit Wednesday on Tuesday. Sheffield, that is.

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For Brentford fans, the tin foil has now reverted to normal use until next season

So? What to do ? Of course, there are still the televised games. These include the aforementioned encounter at Molineux aswell as the one at Turf Moor where Andre Gray, James Tarkoswski (is he still even there?) et al provide the Goliath role as Lincoln City pay Burnley a lunchtime visit.

That one’s well worth a watch, purely for the novelty factor of seeing Burnley playing the role of giants. Yet, at the same time, I’ve got a sneaky feeling this will be the one where we have a weekend shock. Whilst the ties at Wolves and Sutton United are the obvious TV draws, expect the top class opponents, and also Arsenal, to go through. Yet with motivation, form and the entire country behind them, Lincoln look remarkable value.

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But if watching Chelsea is a painful reminder of what might have been then could I suggest an alternative? A football film. Regular readers, should such a thing exist, will know of my love of these. The pinnacle of the genre being Escape To Victory.

This has it all. Actors playing football, badly. Footballers acting,very badly. Michael Caine alongside Pele. Sylvester Stallone sharing screen time with Bobby Moore. John Wark’s moustache is worth the entrance fee alone. Come for the facial hair; stay for the Ardiles flick.

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Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager or even TV’s Dream Team, is a Green Street, a Soccer Dog (and the even weaker sequel, Soccer Dog: European Cup) or The Goal Trilogy. The football film is a veritable minefield of weak acting, poor script and overly laboured cliché.

Aside from Luis Figo doing ‘Just for Men’ (still got it, Figo) the only on screen football to transcend both good and bad is, perhaps, When Saturday Comes. It is a film so loaded with cliché it is fit to burst. Hard drinking park footballer Jimmy  – played by 37 year old Sean Bean  – eventually gets his break for Sheffield United after stuffing up his first trial before taking on Manchester United in an FA Cup semi final.

It is a film so loaded with inaccuracy (an FA Cup semi final at The Blades home ground, in the middle of winter, being just one of many) that you have to wonder just who gave this script the green light. And, of course, it is a film with Emily Lloyd displaying the worst Irish accent this side of Alan Partridge telling TV execs, “There’s more to Oireland, dan dis” .

Yet this underrated classic is so bad it’s brilliant. It goes beyond nonsense and into the realm of unintentional comedy gold. No mean feat for what, on paper, should be a complete car crash of a movie.

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If you haven’t seen this, you haven’t lived.

And thus talk of football films brings us, with all the subtly of an Alan McCormack challenge, bang up to date and back to Griffin Park.

Next Tuesday, 28th February,  sees Brentford and Sky Sports joining forces for an exclusive screening of the film Wonderkid.  The short film looks at one of football’s biggest issues – that of homophobia in the modern game – with Brentford doing their part to help raise awareness.

It is a cause we’ve always looked to promote and now the Bees are tackling this from a different angle, through the medium of cinema. The football film is a tricky enough genre to get right as it is, let alone with the added pressure of a serious issue. Yet, at the same time, I can’t wait to see how this goes and how it is received.

Full information about the event, including how to get free tickets, is on the club website now. See you there.

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Nick Bruzon

Tony Craig day is here as an inevitable pun is released into the wild.

30 Jul

Brentford travel to Millwall this afternoon for Tony Craig’s thoroughly deserved testimonial. Elsewhere Championship rivals Wolves, a club we have focussed on a lot more in recent years, have finally succumbed to the almost inevitable in providing the most expected of bad punnery.

First up, Tony Craig.  His transfer to Millwall in July of last year was a particularly disappointing one. As we’ve noted previously, he was one of these players who gave his all in a Brentford shirt over three seasons in which he was one of our standout players.

Tony bounced back from a dubious red card administered by Keith Stroud during the infamous battle of Bramall Lane in the year of ‘that penalty’. He was a colossus at the heart of the defence during our promotion season in which he scooped the player’s player of the year award.

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Tony – as seen on the club site after helping the Bees to promotion

One particular game from that campaign, home to Oldham Athletic and just into Warbs’ managerial tenure following the departure of Uwe, was notable for one of the most incredible pieces of defending I’ve ever seen, described at the time thus:

On the only occasions Athletic really threatened, Tony Craig was there to mop things up. The highlight of which being a 5 on 1 breakaway in the first half where he stood his ground, kept standing and did sufficient to fend off the Oldham hordes. Lesser players could have been forgiven for lunging in but not Tony. It was my moment of the game – until the goal itself”.

There was no fuss and no showmanship with Tony for Brentford. That’s not to say he wasn’t skillful but he just got on with his game. No more so was the difference in attitude between him and the more outrageous players seen than in the Championship fixture with Wolves at Griffin Park back in November 2014.

That was the one where, you may recall, Bakary Sako was due to play against us in golden boots, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Tony was the complete opposite. The anti-Sako, if you will. For one terrace wag, whose identity I’ll protect, the sight of even neon teale or electric pink boots on a Brentford player will usually elicit a cry of, “Rubbish. I like Tony Craig. Sensible, no nonsense footwear.”

Tony played the full 90 minutes that day as Wolves and Sako were locked out, leaving TW8 on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing. It was part of that #Novemberkings phase (please ‘official’, let’s never use hashtags again) that saw Warbs win manager of the month, Tony feature prominently and the Bees get within a sniff of the table top.

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Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Indeed, his absence from the side in the back end of the season coincided with some defensive howlers but, more importantly, a seeming fragility across the defensive area of the team when, perhaps, his experienced head would have been the perfect tonic. Whilst he remained available for selection, Warbs kept faith. with his chosen two.

I can’t knock him for that and the end result was Brentford reaching the Play-Offs. Itself, a phenomenal achievement when viewed independently. However, I do also wonder had Tony stayed in the team, might we actually have gone one better and achieved ‘automatic’?

We’ll never know but what better way to celebrate then by getting along to Millwall this afternoon? Admission is just £10 for adults and, more importantly, Tony is using the proceeds to make a donation to Headley Court, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which treats injured members of the Armed forces.

The other Bees news is the just announced (Saturday morning) signing of Callum Elder on loan from Leicester City for the season. Filling the gap at left back made by Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road earlier this month, the move was one which had been very widely anticipated.

Fair play to the rumour mill, it has been spot on this season. Either they’ve upped their game or the Brentford press team have become leakier than the Fulham defence. Regardless, this can only be good news on the playing front and nice to see a change from the normal ‘signing photo’. This time around, we’ve gone for the rarely seen line up of the shirt  / contract combo.

And talking of Wolves earlier ( a link made with all the subtly of Bakary Sako’s boots), it has been announced overnight that the Molineux club have parted company with / sacked manager Kenny Jackett.

This is an inevitable part of modern football life. Moreso in the Championship where managers seem to have the longevity of a cornetto in a greenhouse. Yet, I feel a particular affinity to Wolves.

Despite the initial mocking from a minority of their fans in regards to how big they were compared to ‘little old Brentford’ (somebody should use that one) it’s fair to see we’ve given as good as we’ve got over a wonderful last three seasons.

There was the 2013/14 League One campaign where, despite a record number of points for the Bees and that huge unbeaten run, Wolves stormed to the title with a final total of 103. In any other season our own 94 would have been more than good enough for top spot.

However, the following two campaigns have seen Brentford fare better than Wolves, positionally. 2014/15 saw our two clubs locked on 78 points, with the Bees reaching the play-offs in fifth and Wolves coming so close to edging out Ipswich on that incredible final afternoon. In the end, it was a goal difference gap too far but 7th place still not one to be sniffed at for a newly promoted club.

Last season saw a 7(seven) point gap split the teams with Dean Smith’s team ending it in 9th and Wolves 14th. The moral high ground for Brentford and some consolation for the £250 bet proceeds lost as a result of our being beaten (deservedly so) to that League One title.

So it was sadness that I woke this morning to the news of Kenny Jackett’s departure. Undoubtedly a huge club with big ambitions  – whether new or otherwise – (hello, is that the marketing team?) he has perhaps been an inevitable casualty of failure to make an immediate return to the top flight.

On the other hand, a rare opportunity for lazy headline writers and lazier pun makers. Chin up Kenny, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to go again soon.

No jacket required kenny original

No words required

Ricky Shakes Bees as Jack joins Blades

9 Jul

The rumour mill has done it again, in part, as Jack O’Connell’s move from Brentford to Sheffield United was confirmed yesterday. With the other subject for discussion, Alan McCormack, taking part in our 2-1 defeat to Boreham Wood despite being reported to have held talks with Southend United the future is less clear there.

First up, Jack O’Connell . He leaves Griffin Park for Bramall Lane, having spent 18 months and featured 18 times for Brentford. The signing of John Egan made it 5 centre backs on the books and so it was perhaps inevitable that there would be some outward movement in that position. With Yoann Barbet more than demonstrating his ability last season, full Danish international Andreas Bjelland back from that horrendous injury and Harlee Dean (who it is hard to believe is still only 24) well established perhaps Jack has just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jack O'Connell signs

Jack has swapped Bees for Blades

It’s a real shame on an individual level. I really thought he had the making of a great player. Correction, I think Jack has the makings of a great player.  It just won’t be with the Bees.

Jack looked like he might be forging a partnership with James Tarkowski at one point around Christmas time. He had , of course, stepped in to replace Harlee after a three game ban for seeing red against Nottingham Forest (granted, a moment that saw the visitors’ Jonathan Williams collapse like a sack of spuds before a Lazarus style recovery). It was a period that saw us earn 5 points out of 9 and one which culminated in his equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Fulham.

The fans went delirious and, but for a rogue linesman, the Bees would conceivably have gone on to pick up all three points that afternoon. Jack’s reward, keeping his place for the next game at Cardiff City despite Harlee’s ban having been served. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and a 3-2 defeat saw him consigned once more to the bench.

Like Alfie Mawson and Will Grigg last season, players have shown they can leave  Griffin Park for League 1 and earn a return to the Championship. Sheffield United have ‘been there and done it’ many times before. I have no doubt in the potential of Jack to help them do it again. Good luck !

The other transfer story doing the rounds surrounded Alan McCormack , supposedly holding talks with Southend United. Those who made the trip to Boreham Wood or tuned in to hear Mark Burridge and Charlie MacDonald describe the action on Bees Player HD would have been well aware that last night he was lining up for the Bees.

What can you say about that game? Not much, beyond well done to a Boreham Wood side who were missing Yakubu. (Yes. That one) but featured former Bees cult hero Ricky Shakes.

It was a pre-season loosener after we’ve been back in training for about five minutes and they won. Nicely done, Boreham. Dean Smith certainly made his feelings clear in the post match interview that talked of a great exercise in which he got exactly what he wanted. You can read more of that one on the official site.

For the Bees, of course a victory by any margin would have been nice but what would it have told us? Not much. Traditionally, these games see multiple players used and this was once more the case. Dean Smith picking two almost entirely different line ups with Lasse Vibe, Romaine Sawyers, Dan Bentley, Josh McEachran, Alan Judge and Sam Saunders amongst the notable absentees.

On the plus side, Lewis Macleod is fit. And scored. This is huge. Like Scott Hogan, a player with huge potential but one who has faced the best part of 18 months out of action. Here’s hoping that like Scott, all the pain and effort reaps a just reward.

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The Bees, in sponsor free kit, lost out by the odd goal in three

Then again, this does give head coach Dean Smith even more of a challenge as to whom he picks from an already voluminous set of midfield options.  Romaine Sawyers is in whilst Lewis is, cliché alert, ‘like a new signing‘. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos at Liverpool / ?  and Jota on loan (surely that will just be a matter of time before, sadly, formalities are completed) what next ?

Alan Judge continues his return from injury although the pessimist in me suspects that once fit, he’ll be the subject of renewed interest from a whole host of suitors. But it is the question of Macca that really intrigues. The iron fist within our velvet glove of a midfield, is a player of his style a thing of the past or do we still need that tough tackling and experience?

For me Clive, it’s the later. This is the Championship, not a nursery. Will he start every game? Unlikely. Do we have an alternative with his steel when needed? I can’t see one at the moment.

And that’s not meant as any disrespect to any of the wonderful individuals we are assembling in a truly impressive squad. But a bit of variety can only be a good thing and, personally, I’d love to see a player with his very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a long career, retained on the Griffin Park playing staff. They are skills that make him a nightmare for opponents but will Dean and the team decide they are still needed?

Here’s hoping the right decision is taken.

Nick Bruzon 

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.

 

What’s not happening at Liverpool is the real story

8 Jul

A few days of domestic calm have been followed by more stories about Brentford now doing the rounds. Jack O’Connell to Sheffield United and Alan McCormack to Southend United are the latest. I have no idea how accurate these are but, for now, we probably need to show the rumour mill a little bit more respect given the success rate that saw that triple transfer swoop and Jake Bidwell’s departure for Loftus Road successfully called. For me though, I have more interest in what is happening at Liverpool. Or, rather, what isn’t happening at Liverpool.

Despite the BBC reporting on Tuesday that the Anfield club have accepted a bid for Sergi Canos from Norwich City, at the time of writing (6am, Friday) there is still now news as to whether he has even had a medical with the Norfolk club.

Likewise Bristol City boss Lee Johnson, who is also courting the Spanish wunderkind, has been forced to admit to the Bristol Post, “It’s a player we’re interested in – that’s no secret” adding… “but a lot of things have got to go on to be able to get that one through.”

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Sergi – oh, to see more of the same

Aside from the lack of basic respect – “he’s a player”, surely the choice of phrase –  does this suggest Sergi is not overly keen on move to the West Country or East Anglia? Could we yet see him back at Brentford, even if on loan? £2.5million is a hefty amount in anybody’s book and something Dean Smith acknowledged as “beyond us” . Yet, given how well he fared last time out, might Liverpool also find it in their longer term interests to allow the player to continue his growth whilst escalating his long term value?

Look, it’s probably just wishful thinking and let’s not forget that Liverpool’s current valuation has been met.  Yet having seen what Sergi did at Griffin Park last season, should he not wish to make either of those moves then I can only live in hope. Moreso, given that other story currently out, via Tim Street in Get West London , about Dean Smith looking to get two more wingers

As for those O’Connell and McCormack stories, nobody could deny centre back and centre midfield are somewhat crowded these days. mores with the return to fitness of Andreas Bjelland. That’s going to be  case of ‘watch this space’ and we can discuss more as/if these gather any pace.

Back at Griffin Park, could we get a shirt update today? Following the announcement out of Brentford ‘official’ on Wednesday, does this now constitute ‘the coming days’…? Or is that just further wishful thinking from yours truly?

Kitman Bob, Mark Devlin, Mr. Benham. Any chance of giving the fans a look ?

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Are we now in ‘The coming days’ ?

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :   The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs (especially about Sergi’s time at Griffin Park) then  you can do so now.

Its been a wonderful three years. Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading

Can we learn anything from the sharp Blades?

8 Jun

Mention the name Sheffield United and most Brentford fans will likely be taken back to ‘that’ game at Bramall Lane in 2013. Others might think of the great Bob Booker –  cult hero at both the Bees and the Blades over a career the stretched from 1978 to the 1993. And when it comes to on field matters, there’s also the fact that both teams play in red and white stripes.

Likewise, as the other Sheffield club they are automatically disassociated from the alleged supporters’ band who blight games at both Hillsborough and those involving the national side. We covered that off yesterday (thanks, Wednesday) – it’s here if you are feeling masochistic.

And they were the ones involved when Keith Stroud decided to ‘go rogue’ – even by his standards – as we reached the denouement of the 2012/13 season. Three red cards (two for the Bees), four penalties and more yellows than a Coldplay tour in a game which eventually ended 2-2.

We all know what happened after that. Bournemouth secured ‘automatic’ whilst Brentford had to get a win in the final game against promotion rivals Doncaster. I forget what happened next, exactly. If only somebody had mentioned it afterwards (Clem, I’m looking at you) or recorded the moment for posterity, but I’m pretty sure there was some sort of incident in the penalty box.

But the real reason for mentioning Sheffield united today is because they’ve just launched their new home shirt for the 2016/17 season. It is a return to the red and white stripes after the 125 year anniversary special worn last campaign. And like Brentford, the Blades use Adidas as a technical sponsor.

The launch, which took place in front of a select group of competition winning supporters , has now been published all over the Internet. And it has immediately forced yours truly into thinking if we could see some clues in the template to worn by the Bees next season ?

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Can we read anything into the new Sheffield United shirt?

What do you think? A stone cold classic or somewhat of an abhorration? Would you be happy to see the Bees running out wearing this template?

Somewhat reminiscent of our own effort from 2004 with the black shoulder bars, might we wear similar? Or is this bespoke to United?

I have no clue. Like the rest of us, I’m going to have to wait until late July to find out. No amount of prodding kitman Bob on Twitter is making him blab. Although if Mark Devlin is reading ( you never know) here’s another club getting the fans involved in their launch….

Its going to be a long month. Thank goodness the Euros are now upon us.

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The Bees have had black shoulders before

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

Derby not the only Casualty as Wigan lose out on ‘chant of the year’

18 May

As with yesterday, Brentford know another Championship opponent for next season after the play-offs claimed another victim (although it was a lot tighter than most neutrals imagined). Over at Old Trafford, Manchester United went to incredible lengths to distract people from talking about ‘that bomb’ whilst, apparently, Will Grigg is still on fire. Amongst other things.

Where to start though ? Why not Manchester United, given how ‘the bomb that never was’ (thankfully) has dominated the news these last few days. Well, their abandoned game with Bournemouth took place last night and, on the pitch, whilst the 19-0 ‘spoiler’ that would have kerplunked Manchester City for the final Champion’s League spot never happened, Louis van Gaal’s team got the  win that most people expected.

This, even if Chris Smalling’s last minute own goal denied his own ‘keeper, a share of the Premier League’s ‘golden glove’ for most shut outs in the season. Petr Cech beating David de Gea to the award by 16 clean sheets to 15. (Stop sniggering at the back. And the Ethiad).

But it was pre-kick off where my social media timeline awoke from it’s pre-kick off slumber. Specifically because United had decided to paint three of their child mascots blue.

Not in some sort of homage to neighbours City but, infact, to promote the forthcoming X-Men film. Ironically, a film I’d imagine most of them aren’t even old enough to watch judging by the photograph which appeared c/o Telegraph football’s Twitter feed.

Telegraph x-men mascots

This really happened….

As marketing decisions go, it’s one that seems to rank alongside our own #bignewambitions . Certainly in terms of the bizarre, if nothing else. Whilst you have to say that it did get people talking is there no length they won’t stoop to in order for a bit more commercial revenue ? Body painting children in the colours of your arch rivals to promote a movie?

As one twitter wag noted, “let’s hope they didn’t have to stay painted from Sunday”.

Still, if all of this distracted people from Bournemouth’s chant of the season in  “Shall we check the bogs for you?” then who am I to criticise?

And as a side note, congratulations to Bournemouth in defying the expectations of just about every critic and amateur pundit in securing a second series  season in the Premier League. Despite playing what would seem to be fast and loose with the FFP rules on the way to beating us to a promotion spot last season, like Leicester City they have still punched well above above their expected weight this time around. Here’s hoping we can join them again soon.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see any of this. Another Tuesday night saw another surrendering of the remote control to Mrs. Bruzon for Holby City. It’s all about the trade off and saving the zapper for ‘the big games’ . Besides, as we all knew, there was nothing interesting going to happen in the Man U game whilst Derby County had no hope in the play-offs at Hull City AFC after going down 3-0 in the first leg at home.

And yet again another example of why I’m the numpty on the terrace rather than any form of pundit, manager, informed observer or football fan with half a brain. With just over half an hour on the clock, Derby had swept into a two goal lead .

Could the impossible actually happen? No. Mrs Bruzon wouldn’t surrender the remote. And on pitch, things remained the same. Meaning Hull go though 3-2 on aggregate whilst, for Derby, it was a third successive capitulation in the most heartbreaking of knock out tournaments.

As with Brighton in yesterday’s column, it is a pain us Brentford fans can well relate to. On the plus side, for us, another good away trip to add to the calendar next season as at least one lengthy journey will now be crossed off the fixture list.

And talking of Brentford – finally – you may not be aware but apparently Northern Ireland International Will Grigg, now plying his trade at Wigan Athletic, is on fire. More to the point, if you believe the (apparently) popular terrace chant, “Your defence is terrified”.

I’m genuinely pleased for Will. We all know that things didn’t quite work out for him at Brentford with his cause not being helped by injury. He arrived with a huge reputation and a lot of anticipation yet ended up leaving with a goal scoring record that was, I’m sure as much for the player as the supporters, somewhat below expectation.

4 goals in 34 league games (including a brace and missed penalty on his home debut v Sheffield United) are, if we’re being honest, not the sort of figures to strike this supposed terror into the heart of any defence.

Grigg Pen

Will Grigg missed out on a home debut hat trick.

Yet, you can’t knock his subsequent League 1 record with MK Dons or Wigan Athletic. It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see how he steps up a division to the Championship. Have Brentford made the biggest mistake of all time in letting him go after his loan spell at Stadium MK or will this be proven to have been a good decision? Only time will tell.

The main reason for finally jumping on the “Grigg/fire’ bandwagon is the news that Wigan chairman David Sharpe has now rewarded the supporter purported to have created the chants with a free season ticket. Fair dues and well played.

But by that logic, if Ciff Crown is reading (you never know) how about making a similar gesture at Brentford? Whilst not ‘chants’ per se, I can lay claim to:  “And this is Saunders territory” for the awarding of any set-piece within a 25 yard radius of the goal line . This, regardless of whether the perma-tanned wing wizard and dead ball demi-god is even on the pitch. It is a lucky mantra that has worked on numerous occasions.

Likewise, I’ve got half-shares in, “Don’t take it short; it never works”  (along with a more colourful variant) whenever we are about to take a short corner. So far, this tactical advice about the most maligned of set-pieces has proven correct.

How about it Cliff? If it’s good enough for Wigan….?

Wigan chairman re Grigg

Bournemouth fans may disagree with this sharp observation

The other piece of Brentford news to catch my eye was something shared by Brentford video whizz kid (and Alex Pritchard lookalike ) Sean Ridley .

The Football League have released the new ‘official font’ and numbering to be used on next season’s kits.And, it’s fair to say, that reactions have been mixed.

I like the font, I’m not convinced by the look of the numbering but I’m very disconcerted by the apparent lack of brackets for supporters looking to get a replica shirt printed up. Looks like another season for yours truly without a: Saunders 7 (seven).

One year, club shop. One year……

new font

coming soon to a back near you

And finally, as ever at this time of the year, my own moment of self-promotion and (more importantly) thanks to all those who have so far downloaded either The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again or the three year anthology : The Bees are going up. I remain shocked but hugely respectful of the fact that anybody would 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

What is it with service stations as Rangers lose out to Leeds?

26 Jan

Leeds United visit this evening. It’s going to be a strange one for sure with Brentford hero Toumani Diagouraga set to line up alongside former team-mate Stuart Dallas in Steve Evans’ team. In the end it wasn’t Mark Warburton and Rangers. Instead, the much anticipated, and photographed, transfer was confirmed by the club on Monday and Toums is now, officially, part of the set up at Elland Road. And over in Germany, a former Bee has got himself in a spot of hot water.

But we need to start with the worst kept secret in football. Alongside the normal rumours from the local and national press, social Media had been awash with comments from players and photographs from fans over the weekend that, let’s just politely say, indicated this was a ‘done deal’. Even Bees Player commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge has since released his own picture from Saturday after bumping into the player at a motorway service station.

Toumani and MArk B

Mark bumped into Toumani at the weekend

With all the transfer talk being about Judge to Sheffield Wednesday, Tarks (and my thoughts on his terrible news were published last night) to Burnley and even Toums to Rangers, this one took many by surprise when it was first suggested. But then we got the social media meltdown, evidence flying around and, finally, an announcement from the club when the deal was penned.

That’s football. As we’ve noted many times, like it or not club policy is normally one of making no comment until the ink is dry. Fair play to Mark B here, too. The temptation to release his photograph must have been immense but he remains professional to the last and kept this one tucked away until the news had been made official.

Moreso given that this wasn’t his first chance encounter at a service station on the way back from Preston ‘away’.  Keen eyed observers may recall he met none other than Keith Stroud a few years ago. This, well after the infamous ‘maddest game of football that ever existed’ up at Bramall Lane in which the dimuntive man in the middle…saw red. Even by his standards.

But we digress. Toumani is clear to line up against us tonight and, I would fully expect, he’ll get a heroes welcome this evening. From both sets of fans. “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the infamous song. Bookmakers currently have him at 7/1 to do it tonight at anytime. Expect that price to shrink. A lot.

Football loves a romantic story and, whilst in any other circumstance I’d hate to see anyone score against us (Karleigh Osborne for Bristol City two years ago being the exception) I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in having a little smile if it happened tonight. Preferably if we were already three up.

I hope the stewards are ready.

The other news to cross my timeline yesterday involved ‘Big’ Nick Proschwitz. You may have already seen the story in which the player, now at German club Padeborn, was reported to have ‘revealed’ himself for twenty seconds in front of a female employee. This, whilst under the influence of alcohol during a stay at a Turkish training club.

The club’s president has already come out and said that “Nick Proschwitz doesn’t belong to our squad anymore”. In defence, the former Bee has been quoted as saying, “ I didn’t have any pants on under my jogging trousers. One of the lads pulled my trousers down – but that was only for a second or so.”

Thankfully, he seems to have a key witness in his defence. The alleged victim. She has told German news agencies that, “At no point was I sexually harassed….The only thing that has harassed me is the false media reports. We barely noticed the fact that a player came into the room, pulled his trousers down and then immediately left.”

Barely noticed the player… Immediately left… I believe her.

Nick Bruzon

Beware of Greeks bearing stretchers as ‘you know who’ takes a tumble

19 Oct

I’ll keep this brief today. Whilst the main weekend column focused on Brentford beating Rotherham United, there was plenty of other incident further afield than Griffin Park. Primarily involving Keith Stroud in the game between Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City, where Arsenal loanee and former Bee Chuba Akpom flattened the card happy official. Accidentally, of course.

Chuba Akpom didn't seem happy to join the Bees  from Arsenal.

Chuba Akpom didn’t seem happy to join the Bees from Arsenal.

In a rare twist of fate for a Stroud game, it was the referee himself who was forced to leave the field of play early as he was unable to continue after the collision. He’d already shown four yellows by this point, although Akpom escapade unpunished. Given his reputation, I half expected a ‘red’ to be shown as a final act but it wasn’t to be.

Out of interest, in eleven games this season Mr Stroud has ‘only’ (and remember who we are talking about) shown 43 yellows and one red – that coming in our game at Bristol City. Could we see him turning over a new leaf? Time will tell.

For now though, here’s the moment. No sniggering, Brentford fans

Nobody likes to see an injury of any nature

Next up, who doesn’t like to see a goalkeeper finding the back of the net?

It happened on Saturday as Wycombe Wanderers lost out at Stevenage. Jesse Joronen was the man in the right place at the right time to open the scoring after ten minutes.

Red faces in defence?

And finally, Greek football. Surely everbody has seen this now but it would be rude not to include it. To be quite honest, I’m still convinced this is fake footage. The PG Tips Chimps did a better job moving their piano (kids, ask your dads). Surely nobody could be this clumsy?

However, just when the second division game against AE Larissa couldn’t get any worse for Ergotelis midfielder Leonardo Koutris, this happened,,,,

Where’s Keith Stroud when you need him?

Nick Bruzon