Tag Archives: Shirt

Looking sharp for the Manchester United game. And beyond..

28 Jul

Fair to say we’re now up to our, err, elbows in pre-season prep for the Premier League. The weekend gone saw queues all the way around the block for the launch of the new Brentford kits (something likened by many to our lining up in the snow when Chelsea FA cup tickets went on sale first time around). There was the behind closed doors friendly defeat of Watford, with Ivan Toney picking up where he left off last season and then this evening Manchester United welcome the top flight’s third placed club in another warm up game.

Prove otherwise

We’ve already spoken about the new kit on these pages – you can find that one here – but the good news being that up close and personal it looks better than those launch photos. Dare I say it, ten times…? The away, certainly.

Going past the club shop last Thursday evening on the way to H’s swimming lesson, our cycle up Braemar Road coincided with the mannequins being arranged in the window. But enough about the Birmingham City defence. There they were. Plastic models (but enough abou…), bedecked head to foot in what we’ll be wearing over the forthcoming campaign. The relief was palpable.

Our away looks gorgeous. Discreet chevron shading running through the design whilst the home, whilst still sadly bereft of our own black trim, at least seems to have toned down the awful look of the sponsor that greeted the initial reveal. Perhaps it had been photoshopped in after the launch phots were taken. As if that would ever happen. Who knows?

Certainly the queues that ran all the way around the block and the huge wait for printing were testament to the popularity. Kudos to Chris and the team running the laminator. A three hour wait from start to finish to complete our order from going in. “Ah, we’ll just stroll up at 9 o’clock,” I casually said to Mrs Bruzon and H.

Hmmmm….The queue went from bus stop to bus stop. Griffin Park down to the New Road 65 shelter and beyond. It really was like taking a throwback to League One. Most of our time was spent waiting to even get access although the usual bonhomie that greets such occasions was alive and well. There’s nothing like the thought of needing your shirt to travel to Manchester United the following week to get the blood pumping and the spirits high.

And that is now upon us. The table doesn’t lie and with Brentford in third place – ten slots above the Old Trafford outfit – our early season form has been rewarded. Whilst the visit of Arsenal on Friday 13th will be the true acid test and our first real chance to go top of the Premier League on ability rather than alphabetical good fortune. Still, I’ll take what I can get. Pull it off this evening or next month and the place is going to go nuts. With the Bees largely expected to be whipping boys, we’ve nothing to lose, everything to gain and the knowledge that this tin pot outfit actually knows what it is doing.  

For anybody not able to travel tonight, the game is live on MUTV. Not that I can imagine we’ve too many subscribers. This Saturday’s visit from West Ham is more likely when the half and halfers will be out and about. Still, with a monthly pass available online at £7.99, perhaps a one-off subscription may be the way forward. For Manchester United rather than West Ham. You can sign up here but don’t forget to deactivate your card afterwards.

Nobody can deny our preseason is being taken lightly. The transfers are coming in whilst we’ve still not had any rumours of outward movement. No bad thing, given the number of Toney 17 shirts that were flying off the shelves at the weekend. I daren’t imagine the stress should he even change his squad number, let alone be linked to a rival. Still, that’s nothing different to any other campaign. It’s Brentford, innit. 

Old school queuing on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

Just a bus stop in Hounslow. Yet….

22 Jul

The Premier League is getting closer. With tickets for the West Ham and Valencia pre-season games now on sale to Brentford ST holders, it doesn’t feel long until we will all be back together once more. Even more exciting, the question of who will be in the Bees starting XI has been opened up that bit further with confirmation of our first signings of the summer. The last few days have seen the chewed up biros out in force with Frank Onyeka joining from FC Midtjylland and then, yesterday, confirmation that centre back Kristoffer Ajer has left Celtic for Lionel Road. Both, moves about as telegraphed as a ‘joke’ in an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys yet, like the alleged comedy, nobody was laughing. At least in Glasgow where there were the usual cracks about #teamslikeBrentford. Comedy genius the likes of which we’ve never heard before and a level that Brendan O’Carroll could only aspire too.

Who might be next?

But we digress. With Midtjylland holding Celtic 1-1 on Tuesday night in the Champions League second qualifying, Ajer has swapped the chance to be knocked out of Europe’s top competition before his club’s domestic league has even started for a chance to play in an actual competitive Premier league. A place where more than just Rangers might actually win the title. Insert fishing rod emoji and stand back. 

It’s a great move for him and a wonderful one for us. A Norweigan international and only 23 years old, he fits the Brentford model perfectly. Thomas Frank has described him as his “First choice” signing, telling the told the BBC that, “we think he fits the position specific profile perfectly, especially on the ball….Kris is very composed and can find the right passes between the lines. 

Kris is now a Bee

Then there’s Frank Onyeka. A player whose name has been mentioned for months. Not surprising , given the Midtjylland connection. Another international, the Nigerian is seen by Thomas as a box to box player who has become the dominant midfielder in the Danish league. Our head coach telling ‘official’ that, “His performances in the Champions League last season convinced us that he is ready for the Premier League. 

Just as Kris is going to provide wonderful competition in defence, the battle for midfield places could be equally intriguing. Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen both featured all the way to the Euro 2020 semi-finals whilst we still have Vitaly Janelt and then, of course, Josh Dasilva is due to return from injury (at some point.Err….) . Again, all four players with international experience for their respective age groups and Vitaly, in particular, ending his close (closed?) season on a high for Germany.  

Clanggggg. The sound of a name being dropped. I was one of several fans involved in some filming for the Premier League about Brentford yesterday lunchtime (due to go out on Sky / BT August 4th) . It was an article looking at us as a club, our history, at Thomas and what to expect in the forthcoming months. One of the questions was about how we are perceived? The bus stop in Hounslow, the tinpot club who fly under the radar. We know it. We’ve all heard it. We love it. Whilst there was a lot of praise and thanks for Kris, there were as many snide comments from the Celtic faithful. Fair enough. It’s football. Nothing unexpected and the standard response from outside TW8 to anything we do.

Oh, I’ve missed it so much. Genuinely. The sneers. The frustration. Just the fact that we must be doing something right to elicit such a response. To sign such quality. We’re going to get it from certain quarters all season which is amazing given how little of a shit we give about any of that nonsense, beyond thriving off it. Beyond lapping it up and telling the joke ourselves. As Billy Reeves, amongst others, has noted: “In July 2013 we gave up three-quarters of our ground to Celtic fans for a friendly. Today we sign their star defender for £13.5mill.”

Football is definitely coming home (somebody really should write a song about that) and you can now count the weeks until the big kick off on the fingers of one hand. We’ve got the official shirt launch on Saturday and then the trip to Old Trafford next week. 

Now to ring up the boss and see if I can work the day out of our Manchester office. Pretty sure there’s a bus stop down this way I can travel from.

Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

 

Nick Bruzon

Harry nails new kit. Hollywood walk of fame or shame?

17 Jul

Friday was Brentford kit launch day. It should have been the most exciting date on the calendar. One to rank with 13th August when the Bees walk out against Arsenal or perhaps even the moment which will see one North Stand observer finally marry his beloved in a few weeks’ time. For clarity, not Buzzette.

Buzzette – still got it!

Yet the pressures of work meant that, sadly, any excitement (or otherwise) as the new designs dropped had to be parked. There was no flurry of over excited tweets from this self-proclaimed Kit nerd. Indeed, social media was barely touched so I can’t account for Luis. Yet now, the laptop screen has been slammed shut firmer than a transfer window at the denouement of deadline day and we can take a more considered view.

Boom. From nowhere they appeared. The days of Mark Devlin’s strip tease are long gone.  A 7(seven) day preamble of brief flashes before the full reveal – the kit rather than our then chief executive.  Instead, without warning it was with us. Much like an ‘emergency’ episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys when the originally scheduled programme has to be cancelled due to an over running news report / football fixture, it was in our faces with no time to prepare. Home. Away. Goalkeeper. But what do you think?

The Brentford 2021/22 Umbro shirts are here

In a way, the enforced delay from yours truly has probably been no bad thing, in hindsight. I may not have been responsible for my actions. And not in a good way. We have a new sponsor – Hollywood Bets – and being blunt, gut reaction to the logo was that it looks horrific. A jarring clash of a graphic and their colour scheme no way to replace the otherwise absent traditional black trim on the Brentford shirt. Moreso when you see how lush the mocked up versions from Jamie Maison on Twitter look . Oh Fullers, wherefore art thou? 

What might have been….

The plus points are that stripes are bang on. Quantity and thickness. The red is a great shade and striped arms are great. I’m also a sucker for a round neck collar so top marks there – even if the two tone colour scheme is a missed opportunity. All white would have been immense. The Bee logo on the back of the neck is another lovely touch. 

As for the away version, this is the initial pick of the bunch. Buttercup (apparently) yellow with black sleeve trim and badges, a v-neck and the sponsor (whilst still jarring) seeming more blended into this design. Then there’s that subliminal diamond motif shading within the kit itself. It is, and I quote, “An eye catching design”. Not my words Carol, the words of Brentford official. Who could disagree?

Umbro are up there with Hummel in my favourite kit manufacturers and so I’m, personally, thrilled we have them for a third season. At least. Then again, I do need to get out more. Yet until New Balance take over – and I get a monogrammed shirt for the price of a regular one – we couldn’t have a better technical sponsor.

David Raya will be wearing all green. His shirt features “A pixel graphic sleeve and tonal crew neck”. This time, a design described as “Exciting”. 

Pixel perfect?

Take your pick. Something for everyone? Whilst perhaps not up there as an all-time classic, that’s less to do with Kitman Bob and the kit design ; more with the marketing team and our choice of commercial partners. Money talks and all that. It’s not even a case getting snotty about betting companies – we’ve had 888, Matchbook and LeoVegas before so the ship has long since sailed about the ‘evils’ of gambling. It’s just that on the initial reveal it looked awful. 

Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps other love it. Do you? Perhaps time will ease the pain on the eyes or it will look much better in the flesh. I was privileged enough to see the amazing brown/orange for real before that was revealed to the world and have to say that it knocked my socks off. Up there with our best ever. The reaction from others on seeing the pictures first was, we could politely say, the opposite.. Perhaps, the same will apply here. 

Let’s not be stupid. I’m still going to buy one. As Mrs Bruzon said last night, “It’s The Premier League shirt”. Plus the first 1000 through the door when it goes on sale next Saturday (a club shop exclusive launch prior to online sales ) get Premier league badge printing for free.

Yet as Harry also said to me, “Dad? Where are the black bits?”.  And his child-size kit, presumably bereft of sponsor, will have none.

The Jaffa cake – up there with our best, ever.

As one, final thought…Might a dip into the Umbro back catalogue and the laced necks of the early 90s have been another alternate to the trim colour / collar conundrum? Just saying…..

Dark arts and fine goals. Plenty to keep us talking whilst waiting on the kit.

4 Jul

England humped Ukraine 4-0 in the Euro 2020 last eight, setting up a Wednesday night semi-final against Denmark. This, despite the best efforts of one Brentford legend. The Danes earlier victors over Czech Republic with dynamic Brentford duo Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard once again helping see that one out. A 60,000 crowd will be present at Wembley to see what has already been dubbed: Phil v Rasmus. At least, in TW8. By one person. And in domestic news, or rather, lack of domestic news we’re only six weeks away from the Premier League kick off with Arsenal yet still remain in the dark about what we’ll be wearing. Come on Bob, show us the kit.

First up though, the Euros. Wasn’t that quite the stroll in the end? The Denmark game certainly whetted the appetite for what felt like the main event later in the evening. Their 2-1 win crowned by a defence splitting pass from Joakim Maehle with the outside of the boot to tee up Kasper Dolberg for the Danes’ second just before half time. It was a moment of sublime skill. The ball delivered with all the finesse of Postman Pat, falling perfectly for Dolberg and all but ensuring progression before the quartered oranges had been served up and the tea poured. 

Perfection

The Czechs pulled one back early into the second period but that was as good as it got. The Brentford connection coming on to help settle any nerves and steer the team through. What a contrast from that awful moment in the game with Finland. What a way to recompose yourselves. Team spirit and incentive like never before. England won’t have it easy on Wednesday evening, that’s for sure.

If Gareth Southgate had urged caution and not getting carried away after the win against Germany, he’s going to have his hands full expecting the same restraint this team around. Football’s coming home etc etc being the quite understandable refrain. England were magnificent. Ukraine made to look non-existent. Harry Kane answering his recent critics in some style with a brace to follow up his goal against the Germans. The first coming with just four minutes on the clock and any pressure that might have been felt immediately dissipating. It stayed at the solitary effort, albeit never under threat, until half-time. And then – boom. First Harry Maguire and then Kane with his second put it out of sight within five minutes of the restart. My word. It was nuts. 

With Jordan Henderson making it four just after the hour, young Harry turned to me and asked, “Dad? Do you think they’ll get brackets?”. Cripes, I’d have put nothing past them although sadly, it wasn’t to be. Instead, England had to stick on a mere four goals. Kane almost hitting the hat-trick with a blockbuster of a shot that would have rivalled Ivan Toney at Wembley in the ‘Imagine if that had gone in’ stakes.

Who cares whether it was 1, 2 ,4 or 7(seven)? Nobody. All that matters in a tournament is getting through and last night saw two teams doing it in style.  We talk about the Danish spirit but the same could be said for England. Gareth Southgate would note this after the game, saying that, “We’re in the semi-final because of that spirit….I’ve seen lots of nations go out of tournaments because they haven’t got the spirit these boys have got.”

There was nothing going to stop this one. England with the momentum to see past any attempt to beat them. By fair means or foul. Even from the Brentford contingent with Natalie Sawyer regaling listeners to her Talksport breakfast show on Sunday with the story of how her other half ordered Chicken Kiev for dinner in the pub. Any attempt to call in the dark arts and sabotage the England effort. 

Oh, Dougie. Nice try but such nonsense will never work. Honestly, who believes in such omen related stuff…? Instead, we’ve got our magic shirts on and lucky table already reserved for Wednesday evening. It’s going to be monstrous. It’s going to be magnificent. With England having played the quarter final out in Rome, the morning has been full of laboured puns about Italian jobs and London calling once more for what will be an epic clash. 

Tasty.

Morale and momentum is high. The opposition not really being given a thought at present. Could Brentford derail the national express? Imagine the meltdown if Jensen or Norgaard popped up with a late winner or key moment ? If a certain cult hero started loading up on the bacon sandwiches? Roll on Wednesday night when we find out which way this one’s going to go.

Back in Brentford, well nothing. No news. No sighting. The obvious question being – Where? Is? The? Kit? Come on already. We’ve just over a month until the Premier League starts with that Arsenal game yet no clue. Not even a sighting of updated training gear. No idea what our latest attempt to reinvent the red and white stripes will look like. No clue as to whether we’ll be looking to new ‘away’ colours. The hot money / wishful thinking (delete as applicable) still favouring the sartorial thing of beauty that is the sash. Think Peru ’78. Southampton. Crystal Palace. Think Manchester City pulling off one of the best efforts in modern times whilst Hull City AFC have been blessed by Umbro this time around….. 

Who doesn’t love a sash?

It can’t be long, surely? With some sort of deal with ‘The Turmeric Company’ already hinted at by Brentford official, could this dictate a new shirt sponsor or (please no) vivid yellow-orange change colours? Will it drop from nowhere? A street art ‘fly poster campaign? We’ve even used the fans a few times. Kitman Bob – if you are reading (you aren’t) I remain available. One things for sure, the less serious, more light hearted campaigns are always well received.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who launches it. We just want to see it. At this rate, I’m seriously concerned we’ll be running out in shirts v skins when Arsenal come calling.

Is this a clue?

And as a final thought, the entire Last Word from 2019/20 aswell as all the programme articles (previously unpublished on line) and our season-finale guest columns from Natalie Sawyer and Kitman Bob remain available for download. The later in particular, my favourite column of the season as the inside story of the big build up to Wembley was revealed. With all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s memorial fund for CRY, we couldn’t be looking to try and help a better or more personal cause to Brentford FC. If anybody can spare a few quid to help and wants to get hold of an amazing story, told averagely, then they can do so here. THANK YOU.

Nick Bruzon

I, for one, welcome our Turmeric overlords.

29 Jun

Irony is alive and well when it comes to all things Brentford. Or life. It’s amazing how things can come back to bite you but the announcement teased on Twitter by Brentford ‘official’ last night suggested we may have a new commercial partner incoming. In the Euros, there were plaudits all round for ITV and their coverage (not a typo) following the Croatia – Spain game. This, for the performance of Emma Hayes, manager of Chelsea women, in the co-commentator’s seat. Then there’s the small matter of England – Germany.

First up, Brentford.  Let me take you back to March 2021. The home game with Nottingham Forest. Yours truly’s programme column started as follows… 

“How much turmeric does one club need? Quite a lot if you are Swansea City, who announced a partnership with The Turmeric Company to become their official supplier for the rest of 2020-21. Rather than for the traditional use in flavouring curries, their products are quickly becoming the gold standard for individuals looking to support their health and wellbeing through nutrition, with their bespoke formula containing key powerful natural ingredients. Not my words, the words of Hal Robson-Kanu. The Wales international being co-founder of the company rather than an amazing leap into the world of Accidental Partridge. Good luck to them. It sounds incredible (much like mushroom based coffee – remember that from a few years ago?) although no explanation is given as to whether it negatively impacts the players’ balance when in the opposition penalty box.”

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon and this announcement from Brentford official….

What does this mean? A new commercial partner incoming? A new shirt sponsor, even? Perhaps nothing more than Matthew Benham taking control of our Twitter account once more and launching another of his cryptic clues ? The best translation I could get for that one would be us signing Tom Ince, son of Paul.

For those old enough to remember, the self-monikered ‘Guvnor’ was also one of the so-called Liverpool Spice boys alongside Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman etc back in the 90s. For the record, the name based on hit parade topping all girl pop combo The Spice Girls rather than any laboratory made illegal substance.

We digress, as ever.  What’s happening in the world of Turmeric? If it is kit related, could we see the new Brentford shirt at the same time? Will the big reveal come today? Might we go for the holy trinity of a Frank Onyeka signing photo being published, whilst wearing a Turmeric sponsored top (suddenly thinks: please, no, not the away colours…….) and brandishing a half-chewed biro?

Who knows? All we can say is that domestic news must clearly be very thing on the ground. On a personal note, and I make no apologies for mentioning this again, the season review e-book was last night up to #5 in the Amazon kindle download charts for football. The meat in a Gareth Southgate / Harry Redknapp sandwich.

The reason for continuing to push this is that ALL monies received from anyone kind enough to download one go to the Rob Rowan Memorial fund for CRY. If you could pick up a copy, it would be the most incredibly received gesture whilst may even provide a few moments of entertainment. A Last Word compendium looking back at how we made it onto the Premier league aswell as including all the programme articles from the season, columns which have never been published on line before (there may be a reason for that). As ever, the link is here.

Next up, ITV football. Cue rant about commentators. About adverts. About Hoddle Twaddle style punditry as cringey as The Spice Boys nickname. About cliche by numbers. Yet for those of us just coming in from work last night, the Croatia – Spain game brought us Emma Hayes in the co-commentator’s seat. My word, how good was she? Somebody who actually explained how the game was unfolding, what the teams were doing and the thought process around it rather than just repeating what the anchor had said or we had all just seen. A genuine breath of fresh air in a seat which has so long been the home of repetitive sound bite by numbers. With the Chelsea manager earning what felt like universal acclaim, all of a sudden ITV may not be the poison chalice it might have been when we come down to the decision of which challenge to watch the final on.

All being well, England will be present in that one. Tuesday evening’s game with Germany is about as big as it gets in terms of history. In terms of occasion. Expect mention of 1966 and penalties. Of ruthless efficiency. Of Joachim Löw sniffing his fingers, wherever they may have been moments prior. Cripes, we may aswell just get a bingo card together right now. 

But also expect England to progress. For all Germany are the historic powerhouse of European football, their performances have so far been a very mixed bag. England, on the other hand, may not be setting the world on fire in terms of blockbusting wins but with 7 (seven) points out of 9 from the group stage and no goals conceded, it is perfect progression. Perfect cup football. Get another win on the board and keep going. Gareth Southgate’s game management spot on, so far.

One could almost say, ruthlessly efficient….

Nick Bruzon

Our Great Danes will go again but how much for a ‘new’ shirt?

27 Jun

It’ll be a little while longer until our boys come back to Brentford. Denmark beat Wales 4-0 last night to reach a Euro 2020 quarter-final with Netherlands / Czech Republic. It was a game where we came for the goals and stayed for Robbie Savage’s indignant cries of, “That was not a….” every time a decision went against the Welsh. With the Bees connection of Matthias Jensen and Christian Norgaard combined and, of course, the universal outpouring of love for Christian Eriksen following his cardiac arrest in the Finland game, it felt about as un-neutral a neutral game as we’ve ever seen before. Even the stadium in Amsterdam was almost exclusively the preserve of the Danes and, in the end, it all proved too much. For Thomas Frank, longer to wait for his squad to return whilst let’s not forget Pontus is still with a Sweden team who don’t face Ukraine until Tuesday.

The arrival of the Brentford ‘two’ was greeted with the usual outpouring on social media. Matthias even getting an ‘assist’ late on although also demonstrating yet again (as if any further demonstration was even needed) the old mantra about corner kicks – “Don’t take it short. It never f*&king works” . Yet both fitted seamlessly into a Denmark side they are now an established part of on matchday and I can only expect more of the same next time out. No matter what it does to our domestic plans. Ah, the sweet price of successful recruitment strategy.

the connections between Denmark and Brentford are well, well documented

As has been well noted in recent times, we’ve more players in the tournament than Arsenal. With our opening Premier League fixture against the Gunners little more than six weeks away, the time for relaxing will be brief. At best.

But what to do in that time? Editor, bring forth the crowbar. Is there a finer way to spend a few hours than catching up on the events of last season? In reminding yourself just how Brentford reached the Premier League? In seeing just how deep our connection with the Denmark national side runs? 

Well, yes, there are plenty of better ways than this but the annual Last Word season review is now available for download. A great story, albeit terribly told. And I know I bang on about this a lot but with all proceeds going to Rob Rowan’s Memorial Fund for CRY then console yourself in the fact that anybody generous enough to do so is helping an amazing cause. I can only thank those who have already downloaded one already. I mean, it’s literally one, but that’s a start. The link is here if you want to take a look. Thank you !

For those of you wanting a fix of optimism, I’ve seen these shirts for sale on ebay. As a self-confessed kit nerd there’s always an eye open to try and fill those last few gaps in the collection, no matter the cost (if anyone does have the Osca home variant where the stripes stop half way up……) but even I’d baulk at this. A combined price of £745…..!! Even the most expensive hospitality seat at Old Trafford is cheaper than that ! Eye watering stuff and, apparently, not a typo.

I love the Hummel kits. Up there with our very best and whilst these may claim to be in perfect, as good as new condition, those prices are beyond the wildest fantasies in terms of price. Surely? 

‘Ow much???

Perhaps this is deemed realistic in the current market. Unlikley, but.. If so, it may well transpire that there are untapped reserves of gold at the back of your wardrobe. Get rummaging. If nothing else,  until Kitman Bob is allowed to release our new shirts into the wild keeping half an eye on these will provide some temporary distraction. Even if a bid is out of the question.

Nick Bruzon

Kitman Bob, he writes what he wants. A week before destiny.

3 Jun

Brentford are in the Premier League. Repeat. Brentford ARE in the Premier League. If the Bournemouth play-off semi-final was immense, Saturday at Wembley against Swansea was next level. I’m still smiling now. Then, when it couldn’t get any better, it did. The chance to share the build up from inside the Bees camp arrived, courtesy of none other than the legend that is Big Bob Oteng. 

Our club Kitman and all-round Bees’ hero has collected his thoughts from the end of that epic encounter with The Cherries right through the build-up to Swansea and the final whistle at Wembley. A sneak-peak behind the curtain of just what went on and just why we won. But written in his own quite wonderful words.

Over to you Bob. A week before destiny. In his words…. and pictures.

Saturday.

It’s 4:55 PM and we’ve just won 3-1 in a game that had everything a football fan could wish for. As long as you’re on the winning side that is!!

The players have done the usual applauding of the fans in every section of the ground and I follow behind after making sure the old footballs were present and correct in certain sections. I’m greeted with the obligatory ‘Big Bob’ song !

As I enter the dressing room there seems to be different vibe and I mean a totally different vibe to a dressing room that has just won a football match. Brian Mbeumo give us a little speech prompted by Thomas who then brings the room to a silence, says one more and then retreats to his office. As I head back to the kitroom it’s the first time in these play offs I allow myself to start thinking of lions on the new shirt !!!

Monday

I arrive at the training ground early Monday morning, 6.40am. Thomas is already there which in itself isn’t unusual but there are a number of other coaches also present. Something big must be happening !! 

During the weekend Wembley emailed requesting how I would like the dressing room to look. I put in my request and they reply “is that all” as I can see  we are in the East as we were last season. Also during the weekend I’ve had countless DM messages from fans requesting to know what colour keep we will be playing in. This continued throughout the week until the reveal on Friday. As the team finishing the season in the highest position, we get choice of kit colours.

What I had done previously on the Saturday evening was to ask all the Brentford players what they wanted to play in. Each one of them just said RED & WHITE. David wanted his favourite amarilla.  It was such an air of confidence when they all said it.  I more than anyone knew about that red/white supposed curse on teams at Wembley. Last season I pushed for blue, now I just felt it could be time for the curse to be  broken and banished to history by the BEES.

Tuesday

Thomas had already told the players that he wants to build up to Saturday to be like an ordinary week. For the last two days nobody had really discussed what happened on Saturday because we were all there, we all witnessed it and there was a quiet air of confidence at Jersey Road.  

On a Tuesday before a Saturday game is when I start to prep the match kit for the weekend but this was no ordinary game. I had to apply NHS badges to each playing shirt,  to show gratitude for such a wonderful service that has served us all through such difficult times and not just during the last 18 months. Also new sleeve patches showing PLAY-OFFS.

As I prepped all the outfield players kits I started asking myself which one will get us to the promised land? Even a last-minute David Raya header would be welcome. They all will, as that’s what good teams do. The nerves are now building !!!

Wednesday

WELL EARNED DAY OFF FOR THE  PLAYERS !! However, I had to be in as new tracksuits and polo shirts are being delivered for the big day,  ( no white suits )…

Thursday

Today was quite relaxed for me. I’d prepped all the kit Tuesday / Wednesday and now I was waiting for the final squad to be confirmed or any additions from Saturday. 

I walked over to pitch 2 with a hint of curiosity and I have to say the boys looked absolutely on fire. Not sure whoever we are facing are going to be able to contain them for 90min.  Bernardo was walking the boys through some new set pieces For me Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.

Brian Riemer confirmed the squad was as per Saturday. As we chatted in his office, he asked me what I think will happen, (déjà vu took me back to the same question last August. I said then we will win, but when I say it now I truly believed it. All based on the previous Saturday).  I did my final checks and left Jersey Road with such a nervous feeling inside of me. Two more sleeps !!

Friday

Friday was a late report. 2pm for 3pm start.  Thomas had gone round to every member of Jersey Road staff requesting that they be on the training pitch for 3:45pm precisely. At 3:40 all the staff slowly ambled from the pavilion across to  pitch 2. Training was still going on ( patterns of play) – looked very nice these patterns !! 

Training over ran. Brian, Thomas and Kev drilling down certain instructions to the squad.  Once it finished, Thomas called over all the staff to join him with the players. We all formed a massive circle – it was actually the circumference of the centre circle. Thomas stood in between Pontus and Christian and delivered a speech that would have got me ready to play tomorrow. Two VIP coaches arrive at 4pm, we have a light snack and everything is loaded and we depart for the Hotel (dinner 7pm).

I keep my routine the same. Ring home and speak to the family. My little man is excited,  he actually predicts that Vitaly would score, (his favourite player). Myself Manu and Bernardo have usual Friday away night Spanish ritual (sobre la mesa). To discuss the next day and life over the table. We started it Friday night before Preston away.

SATURDAY THE DAY !!

Especially on away games I like to get up by 7am and go for a walk before breakfast. On my walk I passed a bar called The Hive. I also have lots of thoughts  about my friend Rob Rowan, I’m not really one for superstition but 95% of me thinks today is going to be our day !! 

The usual bus ride to the stadium is replaced by myself Peter G, Sladey, Joe N, Lorna walking the 500 yards to the entrance to the stadium. We pass the Hive then, as if my magic, we are met by big Shaun. Big Shaun is the main security tunnel steward at Lionel road, now I’m convinced todays the day.

We arrive at the stadium 10:45am We walk round which seems to be underground beneath 90,000 seats. So many people in suits all directing us in the right direction. If it’s your first time at Wembley you can be in awe. There were so many white sky OB trucks, it looked like a flock of flamingos at a watering hole.

The dressing room looks magnificent. It feels different to the last year. I set the players up in a totally different formation. Pontus likes to sit in the corner of any dressing room but this is going to be hard to achieve as it’s shaped like a horseshoe. 

There are two dressing rooms with a smaller one for the staff. I take 10 minutes to have a look around and have a look outside. I begin my favourite part of my working day (apart from a win at the end) ! By 12:30pm I’m happy and everything is done. 12:45 Mike the Swansea kit man pops in to have a catch up. We both have a laugh about not going to each other’s respective stadiums next season.

The players arrive at 1:15pm.  I sit in the corner of the staff dressing room playing word search on my phone,  Reidy wants a change of socks, then it back to word search. I’ve done 5 levels on my word search game and then it’s time for the warm up. The dressing room looks the same as it does on every away game. Sliders everywhere. Emiliano’s sliders always in the centre of the room. I’m sure it’s a thing with him. 

The nerves are kicking in now and I try and find work to kill the time. The boys come in, do their rituals pads on shirts on then it’s huddle time.  Christian delivers an emotional speech and again I wish I was going out to play.

The first 45 minutes for me are the best in 25 years. I can remember it all which is very rare for me. At half time the boys are really calm. Thomas is calm. All the messages are delivered in a calm way and I know that today is our day. I’m so confident I didn’t emerge for the second half until the 92nd or 93rd minute. Those last two minutes went really quickly but at the final whistle I went over to Mike and wished him commiserations. I run onto the pitch to join the huddle and just started jumping around. I don’t remember much after, hence I’ve watched the game back in full twice and the celebrations countless at times on social media. Also all the pictures will be sent at some point.

This day and this season I will never forget both personally and professionally. It has sunk in for me because I always knew the at one point during my time with  Brentford we  would reach the promised land, and I am so grateful and privileged that I was a small cog in the wheel of this wonderful bus stop in Hounslow about to join the premier league express !!

Bob Oteng

Needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle.

2 Apr

Finally, the Championship is back for Brentford after the interminable two week international break. This highlights of which included a first cap for Ethan Pinnock aswell as those much celebrated goals for Ollie Watkins and Gibraltar. The former on his international debut. The later, a brief moment of respite against Montenegro that came either side of home defeats to Norway and the Netherlands. For once, no consolation in seeing the brackets wheeled out as the boys from the Rock took a second half shoeing from the Dutch after an inspired opening forty-five. This, despite the wonderful form of goalkeeper Dayle Coleing. Not often you can concede ten in two games yet still be lauded as a player of the week. That’s now been and gone. Instead, we’re off to Huddersfield Town for a TV game tomorrow lunchtime. Today, we have to sit tight and wait for Watford to host Sheffield Wednesday before Swansea travel to Birmingham City this evening. If ever there was a ‘can both sides lose?’ derby then here it is.

No celebration. No brackets

Of course we should just focus on ourselves. The squad, one hopes, mostly refreshed. Recent pictures of Rico ‘on the grass’ providing some optimism. How close he remains to full fitness is, of course, another question altogether. Likewise Josh Dasilva.

Both sorely missed in recent weeks. Both players who can only strengthen our chances in the run in should they be available. Both players who will be in the Premier League next season – one way or another. See also: Ivan Toney. Cripes, we’ve got some first XI when everyone is fit.

Might we see Rico in action again soon?

Whilst just looking out for Brentford is the text book answer to any question about the last stages of a promotion campaign, we all know that’s nonsense when it comes down to it. Every decision, every goal, every result from our rivals is scrutinised in agonising detail. Moreso, when they are in action and we have an extra day to wait before our own game. Watford are the ones currently in second place. A 3pm kick off at home to Sheffield Wednesday in their game and, surely, no possible outcome beyond a win for the Hornets? Our only hope of a favour here being the Owls fighting a desperate rearguard against relegation. Who knows? 

For Swansea, a trip to Birmingham City in the evening. Last time out Lee Bowyer’s Blues were hammered at Vicarage Road. Tonight’s test equally tough and they’ll have to be ten times better to get anything out the bag here. The combination of Harlee Dean at the heart of the defence and the Swans propensity to be awarded penalties has me worried, that’s for sure. The one real hope being that, like Wednesday, City are also perilously close to the trapdoor. The only thing keeping them out of the bottom three being their having played about a hundred games more than Rotherham United. Any salvation for them needs to start immediately.

With Brentford not in action until tomorrow, let’s not pretend we won’t be following both games with a combination of intrigue and blind optimism. I’m not expecting any favours out of either and know we’ll have to rely on ourselves. Wednesday and Birmingham will only be able to offer the expected resistance of any team facing the dual factors of a relegation battle and promotion contenders. The bookies are giving 2.75 – 1 as the current price on Watford and Swansea in a win double. Lump your mortgage on it. I have. Well, if not the mortgage the remaining contents of my online betting account. Which should see me able to spring for a Creme Egg come Saturday morning.

Whatever happens, happens. None of it counts for anything if we can’t hit our own winning streak. Whilst not a ‘must win’ game, the trip to Huddersfield is one where three points will be very, very welcome. Time is starting to run out for all of us. Brentford have nine games left. That’s still almost 20% of the campaign – a significant proportion of course – but it doesn’t feel like that many when they can be counted on your fingers and thumbs. Especially when you know how the pressure will crank up in those final few fixtures. If ever there was a time to show what we’ve got then it’s now. The Terriers tomorrow and then Birmingham City at home on Tuesday. No irony to be lost there if, somehow, they rediscover the way to goal and any semblance of form today. Stranger things.

It doesn’t feel like there are too many to go….

If you can’t face watching either of today’s games on TV then there are two alternatives. First up, The Beesotted podcast. Billy and team providing an hour long distraction in their own big game build up. You can get that here.

Then there’s the combination of social media and kits. The World Cup of Brentford shirts seeing an epic head to head between Adidas 80 and Hummel 93. That one comes to a conclusion on Saturday morning and, whilst we are sadly lacking the Chad 92, Osca yoke and Funky Bee pin stripe, let’s not pretend the two finalists are nothing but amongst the very best we’ve ever had.

You can vote below. Until then, that’s me. See you on the other side. Tonight, Matthew, I need to be Birmingham City. And that’s not a good thing for anyone, especially those of us who supported the club during the early 90s. Then again, needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle, or whatever somebody much clever than me once said. 

Nick Bruzon

Frank IN. Sense!! Bees do it again amidst festive fixture pile up.

2 Dec

Well wasn’t that the performance? Brentford made it three wins on the bounce, eight unbeaten with just three conceded over that period and up to fourth place. Just two points behind current table-toppers Norwich City after a 2-0 defeat of Rotherham that never, really, looked in doubt once the game had begun. Whilst the first half may have been frustrating for many, the Bees kept going and eventually grew into another game where the opposition’s primary objective had been survival. With the FT index mk.ii starting a game together, both players scored to present Thomas Frank further selection headaches (of the nicest sort) for the visit of Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Marcus Forss grabbed the first before Ivan Toney made it 13 for the season with a calm finish from the penalty spot to wrap up the points and return to the top of the Championship goal scorers charts. 

Marcus shared this one on Twitter at full time. As cool as you like.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. We’ve all seen the game and there’s the BBC or Brentford ‘official’ for anyone wanting in depth. For me, the key takeaways were another team rejig that has, once again, proven we have a Plan A, B and C. The absence of Henrik Dalsgaard was barely felt with Tarique Fosu able to bomb up and down the flank in lieu of the Dane. Indeed, whilst the opening goal was notable for the interplay between Toney and Forss (what teamwork for Ivan to pass rather than shoot himself), the patience, the feint and the delivery of that ball into the box from Fosu was magnificence served up on a silver salver. Bees fans being spoiled to ambassadorial levels by a team goal that would have had the ‘Frank Out’ brigade and Canos bullies on their high horses once more as if their managerial credentials had somehow been borne out.

Yet it was Sergi himself who set up the second goal. Forss feeding the Toney before he found Canos. The Spaniard’s timing and pace were electric as he burst clear in the box. This was it. 2-0. Just the keeper to beat until….. Nooooooo! Brutally scythed by Rotherham substitute Mickel Miller with the goal gaping, referee Tim Robinson had no choice but to award the spot kick. At the same time booking the hapless Miller for a second time in the 11 minutes since he had entered the field of play and promptly returning the player from whence he came. He sent him off.  

There was no mistake from the spot. I won’t deny Ivan’s approach to penalty taking gives me the heebie jeebies. A slow, measured almost walk up is one that is contrary to everything we’ve seen about running full tilt at the ball before striking. The files of football bloopers filled with strikers attempting ‘comedy run ups’ only to be left with copious amounts of egg on face (or is that just FulhamL ?). The first time against Millwall had heart in mouth. This was no different. Perhaps it is just Brentford and penalties in general? Yet with the shot eventually released, execution like a tracer bullet speeding towards the bullseye, there was once again no doubt. The net bulged. The 20 directors and officials celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup.

As for the Toney and Forss pairing, well I can’t wait to see which way Thomas jumps when Blackburn come to Lionel Road on Saturday. With Forss playing up top and Toney just to his side in our attacking front three, the interplay between the pair of them more than provide its worth. Marcus has tremendous amounts of confidence and we all know how hard (and accurately) he can strike a ball. It’s a quite lovely team decision we have now been presented but with the visit of the Championship’s most devastating attack (Blackburn have scored 27 from 14 games, Adam Armstrong going neck and neck with Ivan for the golden boot) will he stick or revert to our more familiar starting XI? May he have no choice given Henrik wasn’t even on the bench? Given our 9 games over December and the festive period, changes are sure to continue.

One thing you can say for sure is that Vitaly Janelt gets the nod. He’s looking stronger and stronger each game. I love his approach (almost as much as his post match interviews) and can’t believe we’ve unearthed yet another one. Whilst we miss Christian Norgaard, and who wouldn’t, the German is making himself very, very hard to dislodge. Our Triple J in midfield once more banging the drum for Brentford and Thomas Franks’ tactical genius.

As for Thomas, I’ve always been a fan. I’m one very much of the ‘marathon not a sprint’ approach to football. Of realising a league campaign is 46 games long and every side has blips. Of knowing that when we’ve been awful (Stoke City away and that second half againat Preston) it is the exception, not the rule. That no team has a divine right to win every game. Nor will they. At any level. His enthusiasm is infectious. The mentality instilled in his squad really paying dividends. The Bees making their way up the table and improving on last season’s record every game. At the played 15 point in 2019/20 we’d picked up 21 points and were sitting in 13th. This time around we’ve 26 points and are already up to fourth.  ‘Frank out’? Take a look at yourselves.

Fans are entitled to opinions. Of course they are. Football would be deadly dull if it was full of blind lemmings towing the company line and singing everything is awesome. Well, you know what? At present it is. Show me any team that could lose like the likes of Benrahma / Watkins and overcome play-off pain then expect to immediately find their feet? It has taken us a few games but we’ve plugged away, the defence is looking rock solid and our attacking options continue to grow as the new look line up gel. Only Blackburn, Bournemouth and Reading have scored more than us. I don’t get the line of nonsense directed towards Thomas from certain quarters but in this strangest of seasons, he and the squad are doing more than ok. Everything IS awesome. Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Events at the Lego Community stadium continuing to prove this. 

from one lego house to another

Let’s finish on a high, though. In what has already been a topsy-turvy season, Brentford are the division’s form team. We’ve won three on the bounce including two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby. I’m absolutely ecstatic to have taken 9 from 9 over that run. Now we have the Championship golden goal shootout to look forward to. Even better, there will be fans present.

To everyone that got a ticket, ENJOY and make yourselves heard. Lionel Road is going to be rocking on Saturday. 2,000 supporters are going to sound deafening. Here’s hoping Simon got his email !

And finally…. Yesterday we put up the link for the Brentford pub Top Trumps. Today’s item of choice is a Nico Yennaris 28 football shirt. Anybody interested in picking this one up can do so here. Thanks for looking.

Until then, here’s to another three points. Here’s to us looking to continue our climb. Perhaps there may even be half an eye on Luton v Norwich tonight….

Nick Bruzon 

Will we end up heroes or Villans? Either works for me.

27 Oct

Brentford host Norwich City tonight looking to bounce back from the Stoke enigma. Going over the bones of that one again won’t help any. We all saw it. We all know. We all, err, go again. Elsewhere, the hotly anticipated ‘third’ shirt was revealed to the world yesterday. If Ollie and Said had wanted to wear claret and blue, then perhaps there was an alternative to joining Aston Villa and West Ham. This kit is a cracking effort that is as clean and smart as had been hoped for from those initial ‘reveal’ photos. A well documented nod to our origins rather than those who have spent the transfer window shopping at Lionel Road.

We were given a proper look yesterday

First up though, the Norwich City game. I’ll be amazed if Brentford start with the same formation as we did on Saturday. Whether we start how we finished it is another question, of course. The switch to a pairing of Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss drew gasps of admiration from all quarters and is one we’d love to see again. Moreso with home advantage. Such as it is, these days. 

We know also that Emiliano Marcondes is available although Pontus remains out (albeit for weeks rather than months). Thomas using his press conference to confirm that,”We will still have Shandon, Mads, Pontus, and Christian out for this game”.   

Beyond that, draw your own conclusions. Whichever way Thomas goes, expect the same sort of reaction as we did when playing Coventry recently. Brentford came out of the blocks flying before eventually moving clear in the second half. Norwich City are currently placed fifth but a victory would see us overtake the Canaries on goal difference. I think Thomas will stick with the tried and tested. Two centre backs and Marcus kept on the bench. A chance to inject fresh blood as legs begin to tire on both sides. It’s the obvious choice with games continuing to come at us at break neck speed but with Brentford suddenly having a choice up top, it’s understandable we’re desperate to play both ! Good luck solving that one, Thomas.

As ever, the game is on I-follow. As ever, follow the golden rules. Make sure you avoid Safari when selecting a browser, you’ll need to add your credit card details when putting in your code to redeem the game for free and don’t forget to check your bank statement afterwards. Many are the stories coming in regarding those still charged for viewing despite free access. Whilst the reclaim process sounds relatively simple, that we are even having to go down this route is another farce that I’d love to hear the EFL and I-follow explanation of.

Presumably the Sky red button is also available, being a mid-week game. Don’t quote me on that though. With codes available, the soothing tones of Mark Burridge and Marcus Gayle are there preferable route, anyway.

Elsewhere, we’ve now seen the new kit. It looks a thing of beauty and will be worn with white shorts and socks. The club shop is reopening next week for all sales, including this one. You can read the full info on ‘official’ here, with the salient point being that the Superstore will reopen from Friday 30 October at 9am for seven days a week until Sunday 29 November (Monday to Saturday – 9am to 5pm / 10am – 4pm on Sundays). For three days only prior to general launch, our third shirts will be exclusively available in store. Supporters will receive goodie bags for every purchase over £50 (subject to availability)”. 

It’s a quite lovely shirt and with the ability to buy in person once more available, I’ll be popping down to Braemar Road soon. Whilst we me made a crack about Aston Villa at the top end, this really does put me in mind of their own Umbro away shirt from 1980-81 which is no bad thing. If for no other reason than the Villans ended that campaign as league champions. I’ll take a lucky omen wherever it can be found and for me, Clive, that’s about as good as they come.

Had Umbro gone one further and added that famous elasticated diamond piping to the sleeves, I may not have been responsible for my actions. In a good way. However, sometimes less is more and I think we’ve nailed it. Great work.

Until then, its Norwich City. Enjoy the game. Please….

That classic from Aston Villa and Umbro

Nick Bruzon