Tag Archives: Simon Hooper

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

18 Mar

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

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A snowy Griffin Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lewis was head and shoulders above Middlesbrough

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

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

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

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Feeling like ‘a real footballer’

Nick Bruzon

Bees got that vibe as that man beats Robins.

2 Apr

Another Saturday, another win. Brentford eased past a hapless Bristol City side 2-0 as though they weren’t even there. And in truth, for most of their first half showing, they weren’t. It was another game where we were left waiting for the consummate 90 minute performance. That’s no criticism. Perhaps with the game well safe and Tuesday night’s visit from Leeds United in mind, one can understand us slipping back down into cruise control. At the end of the day, Clive, Dean Smith will rightly point to a clean sheet, a dominant (if somewhat restrained) display, two goals and a clean sheet. And I defy any fan to tell me they wouldn’t have taken that if offered before kick off?

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View from the Braemar – Romaine Sawyers got stuck in to City (c/o Tim Griffiths, thanks!)

As ever, get your full fat match reports on the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. Those of us that were there would have seen a game that was never in doubt from the off and was all but wrapped when Lasse Vibe doubled the scoreline on 26 minutes. This, after Sergi picked up where he’d left off at Burton Albion.

The spaniard’s opener one that Brentford fans were relieved to see in more ways than one after Joe Bryan had scythed through the wing wizard leaving him prostrate in agony. For a while it looked like our man of the moment was in all sorts of trouble. “I heard that one from up here”, one observer at the back of the Braemar Road would later note. For those of us on the touchline, right in front of where the incident occurred, there were most definitely hearts in mouths

You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Lasse Vibe soon made it two, heading home from a ball that was fired forward into the box, flicked up as it continued it’s journey to the back of the bet and finally steered home by the Great Dane. It was due reward not only for the Brentford faithful as for two IFK Göteborg fans who had come across to see their former favourite in action.

Interestingly, Lasse’s own own strike rate in Brentford colours of 0.367 (25 goals in 68) is now just behind that of Andre Gray on 0.38 (18 in 47). However, to see just how prolific he has been (Will Grigg supporters, please take note of this true definition of ‘on fire‘) , Brentford official nailed things wonderfully.

After that, we were all expecting it to be a question of how many Brentford chose to inflict upon the visitors. Instead, as the one-sided first half came to an end,  we sat back and waited for Leeds United. Sure, City hit the bar and the post in some rare sorties but, in truth, they could still be playing now and one can only imagine they’d have struggled to hit a barn door with a proverbial banjo. They really were that far out of their depth.

As ever, Sky TV have the video highlights up already. Alternatively, the official highlights are longer, have the commentary from none other than our own Mark Burridge and, more importantly, are now available to all.

We’ve got that Vibe. And that Canos. And Mark Burridge

Outside the ground, there was a stranger than usual vibe. Choruses of  “No surrender, No surrender to the IRA” ringing around the beer garden of The Griffin in a somewhat unusual choice of prematch song from Robin’s supporters. Seriously? In 2017 this one seemed about thirty years past its sell by date. Likewise, whilst perhaps more understandable, there seemed to be a lot of agitation towards Bristol Rovers. This is Brentford. Who? Cares?

As the aforementioned Braemar Road observer would also note – “How bad do things have to be that you hate, actually HATE, Bristol Rovers?” . A team about as inoffensive to most as pink unicorns or the Care Bears.  Despite the divisional gap (for now) it did seem as though they had somewhat of a huge inferiority complex. Yeah, we get it. You hate Bristol Rovers. Yawn.  Then again, geography counts for a lot. An awful lot. Perhaps Rovers being to City as Mrs Brown and her boys or the Loftus Road mob are to yours truly.

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City supporters in happier mood at full time, despite sliding down (the table)

Oh well, perhaps they can sort it out amongst themselves in League One next season. That’s assuming City aren’t overtaken, of course. With Rovers just two wins away from the League One play offs, there’s only one point separating fourth bottom City from the relegation places in the Championship. As for Brentford, we’re up to twelfth and the knowledge that a win over Leeds United on Tuesday night could see us back in the top ten.

Beating Leeds United will be a huge ask, of course. But their own defeat to play-off rivals Reading yesterday shows it is possible, despite the goal scoring prowess of Chris Wood. With a place in the play offs all but assured, can we use this one to continue our own upward trajectory? The Bees are three points clear of QPR and Fulham have to be next in the sights. With games against both still to come, the crown of Championship kings of West London (one worn by the Bees last season) is still, mathematically, up for grabs.

If anybody was in any doubt as to what we still have to play for, Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge summed things up perfectly once the dust had settled . “Still lots to play for, another top 10 finish & win the derby games – so much to look forward to for Brentford FC fans next season too” he opined on social media.

Well said, Mark. With just 7(seven) games to go, the season still has plenty to offer. On Tuesday night at Griffin Park we find out how much.

Nick Bruzon 

Brentford draw, Swansea and Palace get Santa’s sack and 2016 is summed up in one tweet. A week (and a bit) in football – The Good , The Bad and The Ugly.

28 Dec

A bit late this week, or is it on time? The Christmas schedule always puts the calendar somewhat out of sync. Half way through the campaign and Brentford drew 2-2 with Cardiff City to shore up what is now looking like a mid-table season. At the top, Brighton’s fourth win on the bounce (this time over relegation bound QPR) saw them overtake Newcastle United in the battle to top the table. And at the other end Rotherham , Wigan and Blackburn Rovers occupy the relegation slots.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. With double bank holidays throwing the calendar into confusion (today being Wednesday, I think) there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly-ish feature  – we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

And, as ever, we start at Griffin Park where there isn’t a huge amount to add off a game where referee Simon Hooper dominated affairs. A shame, as it meant that first time around  we were denied moments such as this…..

Meanwhile, in the first of a Tom Moore double…. does he know something about Dean Smith that we don’t? Or do Get West London need a new pictures editor?

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Tom has been keeping himself busy as he’s been covering events at hapless QPR, too. With the not so super hoops slithering down the Championship table to sit just three points above the drop zone, one can only imagine Ian Holloway is starting to shuffle uncomfortably in his own managerial hot seat. It only seems like a few months ago that he was tipping Brentford to be relegated whilst suggesting the Loftus Road outfit (currently 20th) would end the season 11th.Not that anybody will remind him of these in May….

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A bit higher up the table, Gianfranco Zola has immediately rewarded the decision of the Birmingham City board to sack Gary Rowett.

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This, something also picked up on by BBC man Phil Parry.

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Lower down the league ladder, one can only rejoice in the fact that there’s an equally big fall out from a spot kick strop as Brentford suffered after ‘that penalty’.

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In the Premier League, it was less Santa’s sack and more a managerial one. Or two. Bob Bradley was relieved of his duties at Swansea City whilst Sam Allardyce took over from Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace. It was nice to see worlds collide….

Big Sam was the instant source of further questioning following his appointment.

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Although there can’t be any chance of Mr Pardew being out of work for too long.

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Meanwhile non-league Bungay Town were quick to jockey for position despite Ryan Giggs being named as odds on favourite for the role at Swansea…

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Getting back to matters on field in the top flight, Arsenal continued to display their ambition.

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Leicester City took protests about Jamie Vardy’s suspension to another level.

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The day after Boxing Day (Tuesday?) saw Liverpool v Stoke City in the televised clash. Despite the Potters having taken a deserved lead, normal service was resumed in some style.

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The visiting manager refused to bend from his principles.

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Principles which, once reminded of, deserve a repeat viewing just to remember how short ‘short’ shorts were back in the day.

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But it wouldn’t be the festive period without a traditional Christmas message from the Queen.

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Or in the case of former Everton ‘keeper Neville Southall, an untraditional one.

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And there was a Christmas blast from the past.

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Although, ultimately, you could sum up the period (and 2016 as a whole) in one tweet.

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Finally, as ever, we close with Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

Given it is a period that included December 25 I was half expecting to see him pose with Jesus. However, having checked the little book of footballing birthdays Manchester City’s Navas was born on November 21st.

Instead, this week his ‘good friend’ is none other than former Bee Chris Kamara .

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Nick Bruzon 

Christmas present from Crystal Palace helps Brentford draw with 12 man Cardiff.

27 Dec

A fair point, lucky to get away with it or robbed? Brentford and Cardiff City shared the spoils in 2-2 Boxing Day draw that sprang to life late in the second half but, prior to that, had been a game which felt as stodgy and bloated as a third helping of sprouts and Christmas pudding. Only the presence of Crystal Palace loanee Sullay Kaikai managing to save the day.

And talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

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Harlee tells the ref what we all think and saw – c/o Beesplayer highlights (below)

It was as shocking a display of refereeing as one could hope to see. Consistently poor decision making as appeals for three nailed on spotkicks were waved away by the man in the middle. But it wasn’t just him.

The assistant on the Braemar Road side  proving absolutely no use in telling him what we could all see. Their existence on the pitch proving pointless which, ironically, was how Brentford were almost left after Cardiff had retaken the lead with minutes on the clock.

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Pointless officials almost left the Bees , erm, empty handed

One point for the visitors would have been harsh, let alone all three. They’d taken the lead in the first half with the one penalty that Mr Hooper saw fit to award, for the most innocuous of innocuous ‘challenges’ (please note: yours, and everybody else’s definition of the word ‘challenge may vary).

Yet if the Bees had been robbed we were hardly making a fight of hauling ourselves back into it. Turgid, apathetic, lazy. Every manner of ’too much Christmas dinner’ related cliche. Any of these would have been an apt description of a team that not so much failed to get going as failed to make it out onto the pitch.

With Cardiff opting to go for muscle , brawn and height there is enough talent in this team to have kept it on the deck and run rings around them. Instead, it was tedium in football form. Bounced off the challenge and as many sideways and backwards passes as attempts to take it forward dominated our play. The first half was, frankly, as entertaining as a Christmas cracker joke.

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Answers on a postcard…

An hour in, substitutions . And good ones. McEachran for Sawyers and Sullay Kaikai for Lasse Vibe. Neither had played well whilst, for whatever reasons, the form of our great Dane seems to have long gone off the boil. How he is still justifying a starting berth is confusing to many but, with the new look team in place, things did step up.

With an added positive substitution of Philipp Hofmann coming on for Bjelland, the Bees began to push. And push. The penalty appeals aside, it was surely going to be matter of time.

And then it happened. Visiting ‘keeper Brian Murphy could no longer hold off the red hoardes as, despite a number of fine saves, he finally saw his net bulge courtesy of a quite magnificent effort from Sullay Kaikai. That’s one to hit rewind for again and again once the official highlights come out (until then, we have the Sky variant available).

Mark Burridge now on hand for ‘official’ comms

But with the Bees pressing for a late winner, we were caught short. Kenneth Zohore beating the last man when played on side and, with a generous shove chucked into the mix, was able to fire the Bluebirds into an 89th minute 2-1 lead.

With fans trooping out early for the pub, and City gloating, it was dead in the water, wasn’t it? Those who stayed were rewarded for their faith. That man Kaikai popping up again to head home John Egan’s cross and salvage a point for the Bees.

We should have won this. We could have lost it. Don’t let the anti-performance of the referee or our late surge disguise the fact that we were so desperately poor for huge swathes of this game. But for the Crystal Palace man we’d have had few complaints, barring the referee, at coming away empty handed.

A team just can’t rely on arbitrary decision making from the man in the middle to determine their fate. Cardiff offered nothing beyond grunt yet even that was too sophisticated for the Bees in the opening hour.

The record books will show a point earned and, in the longer term, we’ll have few complaints. Yet I do wonder why Dean’s teams are so inconsistent and such late starters?  Why can’t we play for 90 minutes? See also : Birmingham City . Why do we just fail to turn up at times? See also: Barnsley, Norwich City and Fulham.

I’ve no issue losing but the consistency, or lack off, is perplexing. We just don’t know which Brentford we’re going to get. Here’s hoping that when we play Norwich City on New Year’s Eve it’ll be the one that humped Reading 4-1 or Preston 5-0 way back in September.

Not the Brentford who got turned over 5-0 at Carrow Road earlier this month.

On Dec 31st, we find out. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Judge and Djuri’ send QPR down as Bees pass trial by TV

31 Oct

Can Brentford take bragging rights, and 3 points, from QPR? That was the question posed in Friday morning’s column and the answer was very much a resounding, ‘YES’!!!

A 1-0 win, via the boot of Marco Djuricin, sent the Bees fans home ecstatic and the Rangers’ support skulking back to Loftus Road with their tails between their legs – all the pre-match bluster very much coming to nothing.

In front of a full house and the Sky TV cameras, Brentford were magnificent. As a game, it hadn’t promised to be much of a spectacle (we had only scored three goals and earned two points from our previous six league encounters) but when it really counted, in a Championship encounter, QPR just couldn’t match the Bees. And didn’t it feel great?

Sky TV capture the score and the moment for posterity

Sky TV capture the score and the moment for posterity

Lee Carsley’s fourth win in a row (for a man who doesn’t want a long term managerial role, he’s doing a very good job of putting himself in an untenable position) propelled Brentford up to 10th in the table, overtaking both QPR and Fulham. The days of Marinus seem a long way away already and our interim head coach could even be talking himself into a position for the manager of the month ‘poison chalice’.

With our games completed for October, the Bees remain the form side with 12 points and four wins from the month. Only Brighton, Hull and Derby come close to catching that although, of course, the rest of the Championship have a game in hand. In terms of emulating what happened when Warbs took over from Uwe, he’s not doing too bad a job. Oh for a repeat of that (although preferably without any mention of football being a village).

Still, all of this is a long way off. Back to the game which, being honest, produced a somewhat staid first half. Very much a cautious affair, it was waiting to explode into life but didn’t quite fire. Massimo Luongo (an alleged one time target for the Bees – back in those pre-season days of Bees bosses being poised to make double swoops, so beloved of our local journalists) hit the stanchion and the inside of the post late on in the opening 45 for the visitors. That was about as worried as we got all game.

Frankly, Rangers were a shadow of their reputation and past Premier League status. They offered little and this was a game waiting for them to be opened up. Like breaking into a can of corned beef, a tricky task but the reward was one so worth the effort.

Once we'd opened up QPR, the reward was all the sweeter

QPR – it was worth perservering

But if the first period had been quiet, the second was anything but. Clearly Lee could smell blood in the water because the Bees came out at 100 miles an hour. Marco Djuricin produced a great stop from one time England goalkeeper Rob Green before John Swift fired the resulting clearance just over. Alan Judge, set free by Toumani (GPG man of the match by a country mile), went down in the box when, perhaps, better opportunity awaited had he been able to stay on his feet. Referee Simon Hooper called “no foul” but it hardly mattered.

Seconds later came the moment. That man Judge, yet again, was the provider. Cutting down the left flank he played a fast, low cross into the box that Djuricin did wonderfully to fire past the helpless Green. It really was a goal about technique and positioning as the Austrian got himself in front of the defender to meet the perfect delivery. And didn’t Bees fans go crazy?!

Only Toumani getting on the end of it could have made the moment any sweeter. Even now, having slept on it, I’ve still got a goofy smile on my face at the thought of that hitting the back of the net. The noise, the excitement, the goal. Hey, even the flare (kids, don’t do them) added a certain ambience on this occasion.

It doesn’t get much better than this. If last season saw us become the much lambasted #Novemberkings, could we see a new hashtag appearing on Saturday? Not even I’d be so churlish as to deny us that – even just for one day.

The only down side was Alan Judge heading straight down the tunnel after being substituted. Hopefully this was nothing more than a precaution for a player fast becoming one of the Championship’s hottest properties.

Whilst it was great to be part of the action at Griffin Park, it did mean we were unable to follow ‘our friends at radio’. I have no doubt the Beesplayer team have produced another ‘Burridgegasm’ for Marco’s goal. Roll on the video highlights.

Likewise, we were denied a chance to hear Billy Reeves. The sometime Beesplayer host was doing his thing on BBC Radio London where I do wonder if his oft quoted ‘meridian line’ put in a real life appearance. Judging by the two-minute gap between the scoreboards at each end of Griffin Park, we were clearly playing in opposing time zones.

Still, this is all minutiae. 1-0 to the Bees is the only thing that counts this morning. We’re up to tenth in the table and, as it stands, just four points away from the promotion spots. That challenge is all to come though. For now, it’s just about enjoying the moment and the fact that we are the best team in this corner of West London.

Get in !!!

As it stands.....

As it stands…..

Nick Bruzon