Tag Archives: Sheffield

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

After shocks in the the cup, could Bees now follow suit in the league?

21 Feb

With all the talk currently about FA Cup upsets – Arsenal beating Sutton United and Lincoln City recording that famous win up at Turf Moor being the pick of the fifth round shocks  – one could be forgiven for overlooking the Championship. Yet it continues to come at us faster and furiouser (is that even a word?) than Vin Diesel in a souped up Dodge Charger. Tonight is no exception as Brentford face the gruelling trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

A midweek visit to Hillsborough really is about as hard as it can get for Dean Smith and his Bees. Despite reverting to a more traditional back four and a much more attacking shape, the problems have now started to appear at the back where Brentford have shipped 10 goals in the last three league games. Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, know that a win tonight will take them up to third place in the Championship table.

Whilst Newcastle United, who won again last night against Aston Villa, and Brighton seem to have the top two slots locked down, anything is still possible. And with the pair of them meeting next Tuesday at the Amex. something has to give there shortly. Wednesday will be chomping at the bit for a chance to slip in between them when that happens.

Will Dean stick or twist? His reshuffle has won the plaudits but, sadly, it doesn’t seem to be winning that many games. Despite the hugely impressive performances against Aston Villa and Brighton, both Preston and Wigan were games we could well have won yet, despite scoring twice and leading in each, have thrown them away with a series of defensive mishaps.

Whilst I’m all for this new look team set up – and hope we stick to it against divisional whipping boys Rotherham United on Saturday – perhaps discretion is the better part of valour tonight. If not in terms of playing five defenders then, perhaps , a personnel switch to add some muscle to the middle (calling Mr McCormack) or maybe he’ll accommodate the return of John Egan / Yoann Barbet.

One thing is for sure. With ex-Bee Jordan Rhodes now plying his trade for Sheffield Wednesday and doing what he does best (i.e. scoring goals) any mistakes will be punished by a team looking to consolidate their place in the play-offs.

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Once a Bee; now an Owl

Brentford’s task will be made all the harder by this game having been moved to a midweek due to our involvement in the FA Cup fourth round. For logistical reasons alone, expect fewer Bees fans to travel. The train isn’t an option (unless you stop over) whilst work gets in the way for many. Hats off to those making the effort tonight, that’s for sure. I salute you and wish I could be there. Instead, it is Mark Burridge and Beesplayer for me.

The other hurdle to overcome will, of course, be ‘that band’. Regular readers know the drill at this juncture and although oft repeated, they can’t be allowed to pass without a brief mention. Off key renditions of ‘seven nation army’ or ‘The Italian job’ washed down with Bernie Clifton’s jingoistic greatest hits are no replacement for an atmosphere. Let’s hope those that do travel are of loud voice.

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That. Band. Never forget.

The bookies have Wednesday as odds on favourites. The Bees are close to 4/1 to come away with the points. There’s more chance of finding a role of sellotape in our local Morrisons than of Brentford recording a win, if club sponsor 888 are to be believed.

Wednesday are good, no question. But Brentford aren’t 18/5 bad and one thing we have in us is goals. After a weekend of shocks in the cup, could we now see the bookies upset in the league?

At 7.45 tonight, we find out.

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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

Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? The big game awaits.

10 Sep

Saturday football is back. With most sports pages devoted to the incessant wittering on about if Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will have a glass of wine together (although whether this is before, during or after the Manchester United – Manchester City game remains unclear) you’d be forgiven for thinking nobody else was in action today. But, of course, the really big one is down on the South Coast where Brentford head to Brighton hoping to pick up where we left off against Sheffield Wednesday. Albeit without the injury time equaliser or open goal chances being served up on a plate.

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Today’s the day

Indeed, the ever erudite Billy Reeves has noted in his BBC preview that, “Dan Bentley has made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the Championship this season, which either suggests he was a smart purchase for Bees or their defence is a bit leaky.” This, an observation which he’s not alone in picking up on i.e. that whilst Dan is clearly a force to be reckoned with and a player wth the potential to go all the way, has nobody twigged that there has to be a cause to his being pressed into action so frequently?

Personally, I’m not too phased. We’re just five games into a new season with 7(seven) points on the board already.  Likewise, we have the likes of Andreas Bjelland, Yoann Barbet and, of course, Rico Henry to find their way into this defence. Indeed, if anything it is probably a holding midfielder role that is as key a position as the four men sitting in front of Dan Bentley.

Give it five more matches and we’ll be much better placed to make a call as to whether this team is a footballing colander or has found it’s feet following the summer reshuffle.  Ten games in is always the watermark for the table being deemed to have ‘taken shape’ and sides knowing whether, in the majority of cases, they’ll be an all conquering Manchester City or a hapless Manchester United (certainly, based on recent seasons).

Along with today’s trip to Brighton, those next four see us visiting Aston Villa and Wolves along with home games against both Preston and Reading. Certainly, a cross section of famous names and tough opponents. On paper.

Reading leapfrogged both us and Brighton last night following their last gasp win over Ipswich Town. The three points that came with Danny Williams’ 95th minute penalty propelling the Royals from behind the Bees up to third place in the embryonic league table. I’d love to be higher up than lower down but things are just too tight to get overly excited about at the moment. The most important thing being to pick up the wins and let the others worry about themselves for now.

And our attempt to do so will, surely, see a start for Crystal Palace winger Sullay Kaikai. Whilst too early to determine if he will be officially be deemed ’starlet’ ( a term so beloved of our local press for young loanees who are any good – see also : Spanish starlet Sergi Canos) he comes to Griffin Park with a great reputation from the Palace faithful and bags of potential.

Lasse Vibe is, of course, unavailable following his red card against Sheffield Wednesday and so common sense dictates that surely a straight swap is the inevitable next step? Or could Dean Smith have a card up his sleeve and be looking at a bit of a wider reaching reshuffle? Certainly, with two weeks to work on it then perhaps some of his bench players may feature. The likes of Sam Saunders and, especially, Konstantin Kerschbaumer (given how he ended last season) must be chomping at the bit for a start.

If nothing else, it’s playing havoc with the BBGiveaway. Kitman Bob went early, putting up the ever popular competition last night. Sam Saunders or Sullay Kaikai on 7(seven) minutes? Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? It’s tough enough being a supporter.

Still, if that’s all we’ve got to worry about it promises to be a great day. You can keep your Manchester derby on TV. There’s no finer way to spend a Saturday than following the Bees on the road when time, and green cards, permit (please note: I wear the trousers in my house and, obviously, could go to every away game. If I chose to. Honestly). Having missed out on Huddersfield and Rotherham this will be a first chance for many of us, myself included, to see how we travel this season.

And I can’t wait. See you at the Amex.

Jon Toral v Brighton

Brentford make their third Championship visit to the Amex

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. A week in football as Adam nails deadline day and Jim does his thing

5 Sep

Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw that featured the greatest miss ever seen at Griffin Park. Huddersfield remain top of the pile with 13 points from 15 whilst Newcastle United have begun their slow, inexorable climb to the top of the Championship table having disposed of Brighton at St.James Park.

Erm. Sorry. That was last weekend. International break means there has been no Championship action and so there’s no Monday morning round up of the last 7(seven) day’s action. In a nutshell or otherwise. Still, at least we had the excitement of Sunday evening’s England game. Please note: your definition of excitement may vary etc. etc. etc

Yet in a week that saw Beesotted do it live in the pub and Jim White getting over excited in a TV studio, the arrival of both Deadline Day and the Checkatrade Trophy mean there are still a few things to look back on from the world of social media that you might have missed.

Rather than Brentford, let’s just start with the last thoughts on the new look JPT.

If that was the new look trophy in four tweets, this next one summed it up rather neatly.

Still, with the Checkatrade Trophy out of the way (quite possibly for all time based on the reaction from supporters) we were free to move on to Deadline Day. The annual attempt by the media to fill 12 hours of dead air with a lot of cutaways to empty stadia and in-studio shouting. One can only imagine what it would do to Jim White if he were to see something genuinely exciting rather than a taxi (possibly containing a footballer) arriving at an otherwise deserted Newcastle United.

These got things off to a good start, though.

Even frozen food magnates Iceland (other frozen food stores are available, too) got in on the act with a cheap bit of sledging when it transpired that Jack Wilshere’s future lay not at Arsenal or Roma but, rather, a toss up between Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.

It wasn’t long before Jim appeared on our screens. Although not, perhaps, in the style that many people were expecting. As for that ‘cheeky wink’ to camera….

Brentford did some great business. Nobody left and the Alan Judge to Newcastle / Scott Hogan to Hull / Leicester City stories proving to be nothing more than rumours.Whilst Walsall fans were, not surprisingly, left unhappy by our acquisition of Rico Henry it seems they weren’t alone.

There was equal trouble over at Fulham where, it seems, their signing is done in either a primary school classroom or a dolls house.

But it was none other than Adam Devlin – Brentford supporter and Bluetones guitarist – who cut to the very essence of Deadline Day in one sentence .

That was the week in Championship football. Of sorts. It’s going to be a painful six days until Saturday and the trip to Brighton comes along for us Bees. Moreso given we’ve got the memory of that England game still hanging around like a bad smell.

So, rather than any more discourse on the trip to Slovakia, let’s look back to days gone by. When a reporter fell off a ladder. Live on air. Although a great save from none other than Jim White…..

Nick Bruzon 

The good, the bad, and the ugly. A week in football for Brentford and the rest

29 Aug

Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw that featured the greatest miss ever seen at Griffin Park. Huddersfield remain top of the pile with 13 points from 15 whilst Newcastle United have begun their slow, inexorable climb to the top of the Championship table having disposed of Brighton at St.James Park. That’s 3 out of 3 for the Magpies. Nottingham Forest and Barnsley are leading scorers after securing heavy wins. The former, in particular, eliciting a wonderful excuse from Leeds United boss Garry Monk. One that we will get to further on.

That’s the most recent Championship action in a nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the next of our regular Monday morning feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media over the last seven days.

We’ll start off, as ever, with Brentford. This time the game with Sheffield Wednesday. Given this column deals with things you might have missed, here’s one specifically for Lucas João. That. Miss.

You can play this again and again. It doesn’t get any better for the Wednesday man. It doesn’t stop raising a smile for Bees supporters.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, Brentford got away with murder in this one. Thanks, in no small part, to the wonder form of goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.What an acquisition he already looks as top drawer save followed top drawer save.

But for Sam Hutchinson’s injury time equaliser it would have seen his Griffin Park goal remain unbreached over August. Natalie Sawyer and BBC Billy Reeves nailed it, along with a somewhat bold update from the BBC man.

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Wow. Billy. That’s a big claim. I’ve nothing but the utmost respect for Billy’s opinions. Whether commentary delivered from his perch above the meridian line or gentle probing at the denouement of a game, he knows his stuff. So if he says this, then its safe to say that a new Brentford legend is already being created.

Personally, for now at least, the goalkeeper more simply known as Chesney to us terrace numptys remains ensconced in my ‘all time Brentford XI’. This, for the record, being :

Szczesny, O’Connor,  Evans (T) , Hreidarsson, Grainger, Evans (P), Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Deano, Bliss.

Which meant that this week’s Terrace Talk made very interesting viewing. Let’s be honest  though, Terrace Talk always makes very interesting viewing and this latest edition is no exception although it has had an early release this time around – hot off the presses on Saturday afternoon.

Peering behind the curtain, we get to learn ‘jumper man’s real name, aswell as watching  Billy, Sean, Mark Burridge and a whole host of supporters put together the all time best ever Brentford XI.

Sean Ridley – genius

The last piece of Brentford news this week comes from Kitman Bob. How many of you spotted this on Friday?

It’s not even September and already our (sartorial) fate for next season would seem to have been decided. Stripes? A sash? More white? The Funky Bee ? Just what have we got? I’m not sure I can handle the thought of going 10 months knowing that the information is already out there. Somewhere.  Any chance of a clue, Bob? Or do we need those pliers?

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Away from Griffin Park , we’ve got top comedy from Leeds United who lost 3-1 to Nottingham Forest at the weekend. Quite rightly, we picked up on the somewhat regrettable choice of words used by Dean Smith last weekend when he noted about our own loss to Rotherham: “The better team lost on the day but that’s football sometimes.”

My own observation at the time was  that , “It’s the sort of quote you’d expect from a Russell Slade or Steve Evans and whilst, perhaps, made on the spot is the type of thing we’ve all leapt on and laughed at in the past. Certainly, when made by an opposition manager.”

So there was no irony lost when less than a week later Steve Evans replacement at Leeds United (for now) Garry Monk seems to have picked up where his predecessor left off.  His post match update providing the headline of the day via Paul Taylor at the Nottingham Post (@Nottmtails on Twitter):

Garry Monk

But if Garry took defeat for his Leeds team badly, then the same needs to be said about West Ham United fans as they crashed out of the Europa League in the first European tie to be played in their new stadium.

There can’t be many of us who haven’t seen the level of fury emanating from this video clip.  A meltdown to make even the GPG seem tame by comparison. Not to mention a few somewhat inappropriate views on the opposition. Views not condoned by these pages.

For the record, anybody watching West Ham lose to Manchester City in yesterday’s televised game would have seen what is surely a new record for the Hammers. Even going by today’s over-hyped media standards.

There were just 9 seconds on the clock after kick off before the first mention of their ‘new ground’. And this, in an away game. Given they haven’t got a televised game (at least, for Sky viewers) until 30 October against Everton, hopefully this will be it for now. Hopefully…

Finally, mascot news. First up Grimsby Town who have taken an innovative approach to marketing. They’ve offered supporters the chance to be ‘Mighty Mariner’ , the equivalent of Buzzette, via an eBay auction.

Sadly, there were no takers. The listing closed without the £160 starting price being reached. Whether anybody subsequently filled the costume or got their hands on that giant fish remains unclear. Would Brentford fans pay for the chance to be Buzzette for the day? Stranger things have happened. And for charity, who knows……

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But if Mighty Mariner wasn’t popular, the same could never be said for the ever wonderful Kingsley at Partick Thistle. Huge thanks to @rickburin on twitter for reminding us of the sheer, unadulterated genius behind the creation.

I love Buzzette and could never forsake her for another. But Kingsley remains the stuff of dreams. What a star!

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Kingsley – who said romance was dead?

Nick Bruzon

Bees snatch draw from the jaws of unlikely victory

28 Aug

That’s five games against Sheffield Wednesday since Brentford ascended to the Championship and still the Bees are to record anything more than a draw against the Owls. Yet we’ll never have a better chance than yesterday after entering injury time 1-0 up despite having spent huge swathes of the game under the cosh, survived wave after wave of pressure and seen some glaring misses.

With Wednesday fans already calling the police to report the proverbial robbery, Sam Hutchinson stole in to grab a late, late headed equaliser from an injury time free kick. On chances created by the visitors it was probably a deserved result but chances count for jack if you don’t put them away. Instead, it was Brentford who ended the game feeling bitter disappointment after coming so close to making it three wins from three games at Griffin Park with no goals conceded.

The first half was woeful from the Bees. No question. Even Dean Smith was honest enough in his post match assessment to admit, “We were very, very poor…. If somebody had offered me a point at half-time I would have ripped their hands off, but we are disappointed to concede so late in the game.

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View from the New Road – the memo about managerial uniform had been received

Highlight of the first half was the incredible miss by Lucas João. Just yards out and unmarked in front of the goal, the back of the net was at his mercy as a Fernando Foristieri pass found its way past Brentford goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. If ever you needed the dictionary definition of open goal then this was it. Yet, somehow, after making a couple of stabs at the ball the Wednesday striker somehow managed to hoof it clear of the bar.

One Ealing Road observer, standing directly behind the goal, would later remark that he was going back to Church because the Virgin birth was more believable than that miss. It was THAT bad.

If the Wednesday fans would end the game feeling as though they were being robbed, this was a case of Brentford very much getting away with murder. Defensively speaking. Strigiformicide?

Yet the Bees had to thank Bentley as much as João for keeping us in the game. A series of fine saves, including one stunner from a Nico Yennaris header, ensured we ended the first half level. And from there, things changed.

Lasse Vibe showed just how important it is to follow up on a backpass. Wednesday ‘keeper Kieren Westwood had been put under unnecessary pressure by his own defence fannying around in the sunshine instead of clearing it forward. The subsequent hurried clearance he was forced to make was charged down by the great Dane and bounced straight back into the net to give the Bees the lead.

It was a goal neither knew too much about but, at the same time, a reward for putting in that run at the ‘keeper. So often a futile move yet one which can pay off every now and again. Likewise, it heralded a return of everybody’s favourite chant.  “It’s all your fault, It’s aaallll yourrr fault” ringing around the home end.

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The second half saw us outmuscle our opponents more

With the game adopting a more even feel, and Wednesday then reduced to ten men following a second yellow card to David Jones (for dissent), surely there would be only one winner? Surely….

But no. Brentford seemed content to keep their somewhat unwieldy shape and rather than press for the winner, sit on the lead. This is never a great strategy, moreso with the Bees also down to ten men late on. Lasse Vibe being the recipient of refereeing justice after a somewhat innocuous coming together with Foristieri saw the Brentford man receive his second yellow with just minutes left on the clock.

With Wednesday having nothing to lose they went for it. And this time Hutchinson’s header, and a point, was their reward as the game ended 1-1.

Ryan Woods and Dan Bentley again provided the highlights for Brentford. The former was everywhere whilst our new goalkeeper has, once more, shown just why so many teams were after him in the summer. His performance was one that Sky Sports would describe as “A succession of breathtaking saves.” The highlights package shows just how well he did. Along with that miss.

Mark Burridge works more magic on the mic

Dean Smith appears to have have adopted a total reverse of substitution philosophy compared to previous seasons. In days gone by, three changes made in the 60 -70 minute ‘zone’ were a footballing routine as predictable as Arsene Wenger subsequently claiming to have missed a penalty incident or West Ham’s new stadium being mentioned. This, no matter how good or bad we’d been up until that point.

Now, he seems intent on running his players into the ground. I’m sure he’d argue that is part of building a solid, settled team and whilst I can respect that, why persist so long when by his own admission we’d been very, very poor?  Konstantin Kerschbaumer in particular, who had such a fine end to last campaign, must be desperate to get out there.

Outside of the game itself, plus points from the afternoon also included the new look gantry. Whilst we’ve all had our two-penneth worth on the way the upgraded structure was (or wasn’t) announced to the world, it’s welcome to see just how quickly the club have since reacted. Fair play to them and the team at BIAS (who I understand have been involved in discussion) for making what changes we could in such a short space of time.

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View from the Braemar – the upgraded gantry now visible

On personal note, I’d also like to offer huge THANKS to all those involved at Brentford for their help in making sure my son had such a wonderful afternoon as team mascot. He was made nothing but welcome by everybody involved  – from Malcolm in the match-day team all the way through to Dean Smith, the players and even Wednesday mascot Lucy. It really was a wonderful treat and the attention of everybody showed yet again, as if any reminder were required, what a wonderful family club we have.

Sam Saunders has, I’m afraid to say, now been pushed into second place as his favourite player. It was 90 minutes of “Where’s Harlee?” and “Come on Harlee!” as our captain has now become his new number one.

Harlee – if you are reading (who knows?) then an extra big thanks from Harry and dad.

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The new defensive line up still needs work

Nick Bruzon

Looking good or bad dress sense? Kit Obsessive: Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday

26 Aug

Following on from today’s other new , regular feature (The Last Word on….) part of the big match build up to every Brentford home game now includes a revisit to the Kit Obsessive feature. With Sheffield Wednesday being Saturday’s visitors to Griffin Park, it’s another chance to wallow in kit heaven and kit hell.

Originally formed in 1867 as the Wednesday Cricket & Football Club, it wasn’t until 1929 that the team we now know as Sheffield Wednesday were officially recognised by that name. The intervening 62 year period had given them plenty of time to develop their famous strip of alternating blue and white stripes to the point that, sponsorship aside, it remains pretty much ‘as was’ to this very day.

But then, like Brentford, how much can you do with a design that simple yet that effective? Quite a lot, actually.

Along with some interesting variants including the occasional flirtation with Loftus Road style hoops (last seen in 1945-46), the club have gone ‘all blue (albeit white sleeved), thick, thin and even adopted the dreaded pin-stripe style that graced our own ‘Funky Bee’ kit at the back end of the ‘80s.

Sheff Wed PIC 1Added to this, though, is probably one of the most recognisable club badges the world over. Their stenciled  ‘owl’ motif first appeared in 1973 and, aside from a brief rebrand from ‘95-’99 has been in place right up until this season’s (presumably short term) rebrand.

For me, this is an integral a part of the club shirt as their primary colours and, as such, plays a role in our selection of the Fantastic Four that go on to make up: The best; The worst; The away; The unfortunate design/Retro Classic

The best: Umbro 1990-91 From1987-89 Wednesday succumbed to one of the many football fashion crimes of the late 80s – thin stripes. Very thin stripes. More white than blue, the shirt puts one in mind of our own from that era (the one that looked pink from a distance of anything over ten yards away.

Sheff Wed PIC 2

Then Umbro redeemed themselves with a kit that, some additional branding and change in sponsor aside, didn’t change from 1989-1993. And, frankly, why would it need to? With thick blue and white stripes, and the only additional colour being to highlight the club badge and technical sponsor, the floppy collar helps add a real ‘old school’ look to this most classic of designs.

However, for that most quintessential of the bunch I’m opting for the version worn in the 1991 Rumbelows (league) Cup final.  A 1-0 triumph over Manchester United (who doesn’t like to see that?) for the then second division side was achieved the same year they managed promotion to the top flight.

And, dare I say it, an example where the dark lettering on the sponsor actually gives a little balance to the vast, empty spaces we’d all taken for granted in the years prior to corporate involvement in football.

Sheff Wed PIC 3

The Worst: Puma 1995-96 With all apologies to any Wednesday fans reading, this is everything wrong with a football shirt. I had considered picking the aforementioned 87-89 but was then reminded of this.

Gone is the famous owl, to be replaced by a mess of a badge. It includes a ‘retro’ 60’s style owl, along with a shield, stripes, the club name three times (twice as SWFC), a reminder they play at Hillsborough and even a Yorkshire rose.

But just incase you weren’t sure who the club were, there is an additional SWFC badge on the opposite side to the shield. And that’s not all.

Printed directly into the middle of the shirt itself is yet another SWFC, in grey. This one is so large it is part obscured by the sponsor and central stripe so looks more as though somebody has just sneezed on it. I won’t even start on the bizarre combination of thick and thin stripes that leave a mostly white feel to this shirt.

SHEFF WED PIC 4

The away: Umbro 1987-88 Whilst that season’s home shirt may have been a car crash, the away version was a triumph. I’ve got a soft spot for silver kits after our own Community Sports Trust version saw us go unbeaten in the colour but this one knocks it out of the park.

A shimmering silver effort from Umbro saw the traditional owl in place – always a good start. But what really sets this apart is that the whole thing is then set off with diagonal lilac and white pin stripes. Sponsored by Finlux (European TV magnates, apparently) on paper this really shouldn’t work but in the flesh it is a thing of beauty.

SHEFF WED PIC 5

The Retro Classic – Bukta 1977-81 I’m not going to lie – I’ve cheated a bit here. This shirt is a retro classic and deserving of a place in any hall of fame. Nothing more pretentious to it than the traditional stripes, Bukta branding and an early incarnation of the now standard badge.

But the defining reason for selection sees it as the one that most Brentford fans will associate with Andy McCulloch, who joined the Hillsborough club after initially being tapped up by Ian St. John whilst departing Griffin Park on a stretcher. As Andy himself noted, “The two clubs I loved playing for were Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford“.

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

Nick Bruzon

The kit is out and the dust has settled. Is it a winner?

23 Jul

What a day for kit news. Brentford released their 2016/17 shirt designs to the world.  Championship rivals Norwich City have entered the realms of greatness by recreating an already iconic kit in some style. Whilst, for those not already aware, Sheffield Wednesday have gone for a controversial look…

First though, Griffin Park. The kit is out and I have to say I love it. The home especially which I think is our best shirt in years. If Norwich have rolled back the years then it’s fair to say that Brentford have more than matched them on the history front. Echoing the mythical Adidas 80/81 design (seriously, does anybody have one?) fused with the Core 95/96 shirt, it also features an early 70’s round neck collar. Think Peter Gelson or Big John O’Mara (kids, ask your dads. Now !!).

Nico new kit

For sure it has a bit more white than red but that’s no bad thing in my eyes. We haven’t been afraid to mix it up in the past and, when offset with the black of the shoulder stripes, shorts and socks – looks simply stunning.

Besides, where does it actually say we need as much red as white? Well done to Matthew Benham, Mark Devlin and, of course, Kitman Bob Oteng for breaking the mould a little bit to come out with a wonderful effort.

Interestingly, looking on social media and the club wesbite last night, it seems that Bob is already starting to think about our next designs already. Do check his twitter feed (if for no other reason than the return of the legendary BBgiveaway this season) and interview on ‘official’ where he reveals:  “If we take the 2017/18 kit for example, I will start preparing for that in about six weeks’ time,”

Wow! 2017/18? I’ve not even bought this stunner yet and now there’s already another shirt to obsess about. Well Bob, if you are reading, I’ve got two words to say: FunkyBee.  Failing that, who doesn’t love a castle…?

One final thought on the home shirt. Whilst (in my eyes) it is an instant classic, I do understand that a few people might take a bit of time adjusting to the red/white ratio. If so, spare a thought for Sheffield Wednesday supporters.

Just as Brentford traditionally wear red and white stripes, they do the same in blue and white. Not this season though, where the home kit has gone so far in one direction that we’ll probably get to wear our ‘home’ colours at Hillsborough for the first time in decades….

Sheff Wednesday

Next up, the away shirt. I’ve never been a fan of a black change kit for Brentford. In my eyes, and perhaps it is a generational thing, blue is our second colour. Especially those wonderful two-tone efforts from the 80’s and 90’s.

Then, last season, Bob produced that incredible ‘third’ shirt against Blackburn Rovers and everything changed. Swoon – like a teenager with a crush I was back in love with that beautiful black.

So it was with great joy that we learned Brentford were giving it another go this time around. Having seen it, I think it looks great.Simple black with a bit of detailing and those classic adidas stripes.

My preference out of the two is undoubtedly the home shirt. That said, this is still a cracking effort. My main ‘problem’ being that last season’s third was just held in such high regard that it almost feels like ‘cheating’ to lavish equal attention on a new rival after finding a ‘best ever’ just months earlier.

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That’s just me. I need to get out more. Besides, opinions can change and, if I’m being honest, my gut reaction to last season’s blue was uber-positive before losing interest in that one very fast (then again, I blame the Blackburn, erm, black). The important thing is what supporters think and, almost universally, it seems to be going down a storm.

Personally speaking, I’ve had more time than most to get used to these having been afforded the opportunity to participate in the fans photo shoot a few weeks ago. I can only offer a huge thank you to the club for this chance, along with a huge apology to anybody of a sensitive disposition should panic about a possible new signing have set in when the pictures appeared.

Seriously though, along with Matthew’s letter yesterday it just showed, again, what we do for our fans. What a great idea to get some of them involved in the photo shoot alongside Harlee, Scott, Dan, Andreas, Nico and some local landmarks –  Betty from the Griffin looking good in particular . When Brentford get it right ‘off the pitch’ we are, hands down, the best club in the country.

Ok, Norwich City. I mentioned them at the top end of this article for the simple reason that, like us, they also released a new kit yesterday. This time, their latest ‘third’ shirt.

Sadly (for me), their Premier League status last season meant we were deprived of a ‘kit obsessive’ article although thankfully that will be remedied this campaign. However, had one been written you could be sure it would have featured the infamous 92-94 ‘bird poo’ shirt from Ribero.

Well, in exciting news (for kit nerds) it seems the Canaries have only gone and recreated it. In some style. This is just phenomenal.

Norwich third kit

Errea have made some stinkers over the years but I can do nothing but doff my hat to this effort. One can only presume there will be too much of a clash to see it in action at Griffin Park this season but we can live in hope.

It is vivd, glaring, still looks like a flock of rogue canaries with food poisoning have taken their best shot yet, at the same time, is absolutely wonderful. Moreso, the goalkeeper’s shirt which appears to be designed on hot lava.

I’m hoping that when our Adidas contract eventually expires we switch to New Balance (my only chance for a legitimate monogrammed tracksuit, being as the head coach role remains tantalisingly out of reach). That said, if Errea can keep up this level of shirt quality then maybe they could be one to keep an eye on in future…

My season ticket arrived yesterday and with it a booklet promising what I can presume was meant to say either ‘mouth watering’ or ‘eye catching’ fixtures. Instead, have we mixed our metaphors with a promise of what one terrace wag has pointed out is anticipated to be ‘eye watering’ football this season?

Perhaps though, in retrospect, they were bang on. Given those Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich efforts, this could be exactly what was meant.

season ticket

Nick Bruzon

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.