Tag Archives: Sky

Busting every sinew to make the abnormal seem normal

27 Jun

No pressure Fulham and Leeds United. Brilliant Brentford battered Bilic’s Baggies – (c) The Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s aliteration – at a packed (sounding) Griffin Park last night to move within five points of table topping West Bromwich Albion. With the second and fourth placed teams due to play this lunchtime, something has to give in our way as the Bees continue this dogged pursuit of promotion. At a time that others are starting to fall apart around us, Thomas Frank saw his team make it three wins on the spin, unbeaten since March and 8 goals for whilst none conceded over that period. Ethan Pinnock was a colossus at the back. Ollie Watkins proving he still has the golden touch up front. Peter Gilham giving it his all on the tannoy – his dulcet tones reverberating all around TW8. Screams of Brreeennttfffoooorrdddddd drifting over the neighbourhood. His one man mission to make Griffin Park sound as loud as ever leaving our man-with-the-mic hoarse at full-time.

If it wasn’t the same match day experience for those of us mere mortals usually allowed inside the stadium, the club did the very best to make it feel as normal as possible in the circumstances. The compact nature of our home allowing us to fill the ground with supporter banners and flags to quite wonderful effect. A sea of faces filling the paddock as the 3D effect of the banners gave the look of a large crowd to those of us watching on TV i.e. everybody except those few whose names had appeared on a guest list of journalistic credentials that was nigh on impossible to gain access to. And I did try. Ian Moose would have had more luck walking in to a McDonalds to buy a Big Mac at the moment than Joe Public did of busting in to Griffin Park.   

But with Sky getting better and better at the ‘fake crowd’ noise, to the point of club specific chants, appropriate cheers and the usual boos for Keith Stroud  ( perhaps I made that last one up  – our man in the middle once again belying his reputation) it wasn’t as odd watching it on TV as it should have been. Moreso when we were lucky enough to spend the evening camped out with friends in their back garden that nestles in the shadow of the ‘away end’. Whilst the West Brom supporters may have been so loud they sounded like Aldershot, PG more than made up for it on the home side.

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You’re so loud you sound like Aldershot…

If anything, his bellowing was even more ferocious than usual. There was no breaking his stride. No deviation from the norm. He gave it everything with all the regular stylings. The prematch music remained the same. Likewise at full time with another three points in the bag, thanks to our 1-0 win. Even down to his “Have a safe journey home tonight”. There’s no one there and he don’t care. He could have been the last man on earth and I get the feeling he’d have carried on as though there was nothing untoward.

Honestly, it was life affirming. If ever you wanted to describe to somebody what it feels like to support Brentford. To show them true passion and utter devotion to a team.  If ever there was a living embodiment of a club, our club, then it is Peter. And last night it was demonstrated more than ever. 

As it happens, H and I popped out for some fresh air some time after the game had finished. Who should we bump in to but PG himself. From a safe distance, of course. My word the grin and the croakiness said it all. The enjoyment in what had played out before clear. We’d heard every scream from the garden – including the goal announcement 30 seconds before seeing Ollie guide the winner home on TV with little more than a quarter hour gone. We’d felt every moment. Now we had the quite perfect denouement to a quite wonderful evening. 

Honestly, being trapped outside a locked stadium is not the way to watch a game. We were lucky enough to be sitting within a few yards of the goal. Just the slight problem of a twenty foot fence separating us from seeing the action. The TV coverage is definitely improving and, all being well, it won’t be long until we are allowed back in to the ground. The players are, I am sure, as keen as the fans to have full houses. The full time celebrations showed what it meant to them. Imagine doing that with our usual sell out crowd roaring them on? 

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Close but no cigar. Never has a few yards felt more like a few miles

For now, it remains a case of locked doors. Of wall to wall TV coverage. Of having crept to within touching distance of Leeds Untied and West Brom.

Dare I say it, but could a win for Fulham be the best outcome today? Or a draw? Leeds are five points ahead. We’d need two wins to overtake them, obv. Should the gap become six then it would still be the same, given the huge goal difference in our favour over everybody else in the division. Perhaps it is best just to focus on ourselves. We can’t influence that game and have our own trip to mid-table Reading on Tuesday night. With the games coming thick and fast, perhaps we’ll see a few changes coming on that front. Could Bryan Mbeumo start? His own recovery from the positive Corona virus test confirmed by his place on the bench last night.

Still, all that’s to come. We were immense last night. It was weird to watch but magnificent at the same time. Our club is incredible. Busting every sinew to make the abnormal seem normal. We’re beating our rivals on the pitch. Looks like we’re doing the same off it. Just 7(seven) games to go. Can we close the gap? Roll on Tuesday when we find out ….

And if Leeds could fall apart, again, that would also be appreciated.

Nick Bruzon

TV review. Football : 3 out of 5. Can Brentford do better?

18 Jun

Well that was quite the surreal experience. It looked like football. Kind of sounded like football. But without the fans it certainly wasn’t football. Mrs. Bruzon summed it up nicely during the Manchester City v Arsenal game with the succinct observation that, “My God, this is shit”. On the plus side, we had the tragedy of David Luiz to enjoy – one that always brings a smile to the face of us Brentford Fans and an elbow to the face of Jake Reeves. Prior to that was the ‘return of football’ with Aston Villa v Sheffield United. A game which saw Hawkeye ball tracking fail to return from furlough and Dean Smith, not unusually, believing his team deserved that (because they’ve previously been on the receiving end). But with the trip to Fulham coming ever closer, what did we learn last night ?

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Nobody has forgotten…

Well the first thing being that the game at the Cottage has come into question from some fans, with the announcement from Brentford that, “We have had a positive test from the latest round of Covid-19 testing. The individual concerned is now self-isolating in accordance with the EFL guidelines”. There’s nothing further added. No word on how the individual is faring or who it is although the priority here being we all wish them well for a quick recovery. There has been no suggestion of any postponement either – from either the club or the EFL  – so it’s pretty safe to assume that we will be going ahead as (new) normal come Saturday lunchtime. The short hop to Fulham set for a televised 12.30pm kick off.

Of course I’ll be watching on Saturday. The chance to tear Fulham a new one never one to be missed. The opportunity to close in on ‘automatic’ as appealing . For those needing a reminder, victory would take us within a point of our third placed neighbours whilst table topping Leeds United are 11 points clear at the top of the pile. And I did have to check, it’s been that long. It’s been missed a lot. Even Harry said to me last night, “Daddy, I really miss my seat at Griffin Park. I wish I could be back there”. Don’t we all. Instead, TV coverage is the next best thing and we had our first taste of it last night.

There was the option of genuine coverage – the one where you could hear every pin drop, exhortion from the coaches and clanger from David Luiz – or the version with fake crowd sound piped over the top. We settled on the later. It made a very odd experience, where supporters had been replaced with giant flags, slightly less surreal. But not much. It was weird. It wasn’t football as we know it but at least it was here. Arsenal showing their customary irrelevance. Their pretentions of success nothing more than a rapidly fading memory. Manchester City imperious and sweeping all before them.

Curse Liverpool and their enormous lead at the business end of the Premier League. The only consolation being that the inevitable triumph will be greeted with, “Well, you won it. But….”. That said, I’m sure their fans will be gracious when the moment finally comes and it won’t be mentioned much.

Yet even with fake sound I found it tough going. Fans are such a vital part to every game and never more has it been seen. Or not. There was no humour. No terrace wags. No natural reaction to events unfolding but more a background hum much akin to motorway traffic heard from a distance. Personally, I don’t know what it’s gong to be like watching a game at Griffin Park without Angry Dad giving his advice to the touchline officials and the referee. 

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The referee and his assistants can now ignore all reminders of the rules

One New Road observer has been in touch to share his thoughts about the prospect of watching Brentford in such circumstance, and they are, as ever, infinitely more eloquent than anything yours truly can put together….. 

“As someone who regularly attends football, what makes the atmosphere at football special and genuine isn’t that sanitised “this is what football sounds like” image. It’s the spontaneity, the characters unique to your section of the crowd, the extra edge a midweek match has as people arrive having had quite enough of work. It’s the chatter and buzz of the crowd before kick off, it’s the lone joker that pipes up with a slice of dark humour at the sight of yet another turgid midfield display, it’s the vociferous rebuke of a player at an FA Cup tie that has the TV producer scrambling for the mixing desk (although let’s keep it inclusive at all times), it’s one away player being singled out as that afternoon’s pantomime villain, it’s the crowd shouting “handball” with every pass to mock the opposition’s failed claim for a penalty. That’s the romance of football. That’s atmosphere. 

You can’t replace that with carefully vetted recordings of Barcelona fans performing their manufactured anthem or, heaven forbid, a crowd using cardboard clappers instead of making noise with their hands and mouths. Genuine atmosphere isn’t someone in the booth pressing a button to play GenericCrowdGoesOohClip3 as another wayward shot sails over the bar. If you want that, you can get plenty of it in FIFA Soccer. I’m not interested in hearing what Sky Sports wants us to think football sounds like. 

One Bundesliga referee recently reported feeling like the job is easier and his heart rate is lower without a baying crowd on his back. Playing recordings of the home crowd jeering a decision won’t have any significant effect on that. The referee and players know it’s fake. Pressuring a referee is part of our job as fans and something that can’t be replicated.

Will anyone dare play a clip of their crowd booing the team off at half time as they’re 3-0 down? But it would be a very brave club that piped in a recording of their entire home end letting Lee Tomlin know he’s a wanker. For example.” *

All this aside, I still can’t wait to see Brentford in action on Saturday. The involvement so desperately lacking by watching two teams I’m not overly bothered by will definitely be present. And then some. We’ll be shouting from our couches and social bubbles. Beer in hand and shirts worn with pride. The fake sound will be turned off. I want to hear Pontus screaming. I want to hear Fulham silent. Albeit, it does seem they have plans to pipe in their own noise. Groan. 

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Moments, and sounds, like this will be denied

Manchester City – Arsenal definitely whetted the appetite but it wasn’t really more than a distraction. Something to finally give me back remote, control after close to 100 days of outback murder, property shows and Gogglebox. Oh, Mancunian dog owner. You may be funny but please get those boots away from the cakes. Please.

To repeat an oft used analogy on these pages, it was like a Timothy Dalton ‘Bond film’. The rest of the crew and supporting cast may be the same, the action and the sound are similar and he even wears the same clothes. Yet ultimately, without the one-liners and raised eyebrow of Roger Moore, or the cameos from Victor Tourjansky, it all seems to be missing critical element. Atmosphere. Passion. Emotional Investment.

Here’s hoping that when it is our turn, things feel better. I’m sure they will. I’d say “See you there” but we all know that’s not possible. Pretty sure social media might be busy though…

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Any excuse for the Victor montage

Nick Bruzon

* Please note, the views shared by one New Road observer about Lee Tomlin are personal but also shared by this page.

99 problems but a pitch ain’t one.

9 Jun

The tumbleweed is starting to clear. The absence of Brentford from our lives will soon be coming to an end as the trip to Fulham next Saturday lunchtime (June 20th) sees Championship action recommence. Following this is a rapid fire conclusion to the campaign as our 9 remaining games take place in little over a month, culminating in the ‘last ever’ game at Griffin Park against Barnsley on Wednesday July 22nd. With all games available to season ticket holders on I-follow and TV coverage being given a huge boost, its a case of move over Sky Sports Leeds United. Whilst you won’t be able to be there in person, there’s every opportunity available to see the on-pitch action pan out with our next game  (West Brom at home) also selected for main channel coverage.

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On pitch action will return

The good news is that season will at least come to an end on pitch, however artificial that may feel. Others haven’t been afforded that opportunity. With Leagues across Europe and at home already calling full time early, even League One clubs seem set to bring 2019-20 to a close today with the morning news reporting that they are going to vote to curtail the season and leave the final table based on a points-per-game ratio. Missing out on seeing Brentford in the flesh will be painful but at least we’ll be able to see the Bees in action.

My word, it hass felt like an eternity. With nothing but constant bad news for the last few months, football has probably been low down on most people’s agenda. That’s not to say it hasn’t been missed. The amazing feeling of coming together denied us by an invisible killer. That communal gathering and Saturday afternoon ritual, of which 90 minutes’s action is so often the meat in a social sandwich of pre and post match meet up, something we’ve not been able to enjoy for endless week after week.

Jonathan Burchill cut to the chase on Twitter yesterday, posting a picture of his Fulham ticket and  noting that when he bought it, could never have guessed this match would be postponed for 99 days. Now it is almost here. Brentford travelling just down the road to pick up where we left off. Injuries hopefully healed and the team chomping at the bit. We’ve already played at Griffin Park – judging by the social media video clips posted – as part of the road to recovery but now we get the chance to do it for real.

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Whatever ‘real’ means these days. No fans and no atmosphere is gong to make for a very strange experience. Fulham aside. For the players and the supporters. Fulham aside. Probably the only people to come out if it as winners will be the officials, especially at Griffin Park where the touchline reminders of the rules so often delivered to the linos will be sadly missing. Who will rise to the occasion? Who will struggle, rattling around an empty stadium? Will the fans be given any chance to get back in and, if so, how many will that be or when could it even take place?

I guess the one thing we can be fairly certain of is that the 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday way back on 7th (seventh) March will be the last time we have the pleasure of attending a game at Griffin Park in person. The ‘last game’ will be one played out in front of nothing more than handful of press and officials. Barring a miracle, that ship has surely sailed. It’s a topic we’ve done to death already – both on social media and these pages. Banging on about it now, at a time when we actually have something to look forward too, won’t change that fact. Even if we will of course pick up on it once more as we head towards the visit of Barnsley 

For now, we’ve got action incoming. And that’s a real boost, even if it is going to be very odd. There’ll be surreal TV coverage whilst the club have announced that match day programmes will be produced. Each of the final five programmes will also include a limited-edition postcard, whilst that Barnsley game will see a 134-page, A4 printed programme to say Farewell Griffin Park. You can read about that in full here.

More to come over the coming days, no doubt, but until then we’ve got a trip to Fulham to prepare for. Even if us mere mortals aren’t allowed to travel.

The only other news of note, for these pages, was the conclusion of the ‘Griffin Park Favourites’ charity auction Top Trumps pack last week. I’m amazed to say that these went for a staggering £155, with funds already received and paid on to the Community Sports Trust.

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Whilst keeping the names of the bidders secret, it would seem as though there was a furious bidding war between three figures who appeared in the pack. In the end , though, I haven’t a clue who it is that won them. Certainly not a name I recognise. Brentford fan or Top Trumps collector? Who knows. Either way, I can’t thank our supporters enough for taking part.

And if anybody wants to go again, then please do shout. The pack has already been redesigned for a more personal ‘friends and family’ version. If nothing else, to celebrate both the Fulham programme prank and some really crowbarred punning.

What’s to say further tweaks couldn’t be made and another order placed for anybody who may want in….

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Wife of Brian – even Mrs. B liked that one 

Nick Bruzon    

There may be no football – but there IS still hope. Come on Sky…

15 Mar

We wrote yesterday about the suspension of football. About the horror of replacing Match of the Day with a repeat (natch) of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. About the potential permutations to deciding League placings after Fulham v Brentford became the first high profile casualty of football being suspended for three weeks. At the very least. Will Liverpool end their long wait for a Premier league title? Might Leeds United finally fall over the line and into the top flight? Could the BBC come to their senses in regards to scheduling?

All that (and more) is here. Do take a look. We’ll absolutely be trying to keep it light on these pages to try and find a way through the gloom. To keep things ticking over until some form of normality may return, whenever that may.

Ordinarily a period of self-isolation would be the perfect time to gorge on football. On cricket, rugby and any other form of live sporting entertainment. Yet the football family is suffering as much as anybody else with all activity on hold and, in all likelihood, going to conclude with somebody feeling dissatisfied. Instead of wall to wall live action to while away the time, the sofa is now being shared with the family. With Kirsty and Phil. Fiona Bruce and her antique chest. With Tom & Jerry, Smurfs and the Great Pottery Throw Down. Urghh (smurfs ; not the family).

Match of the Day and live coverage won’t be on again for a long time. Sky and BT have great gaps in their scheduling to fill and, presumably, the classic match packages and ‘story of the season’ will be on repeat. No bad thing but there is another way. There is a chance to bring back a Phoenix from the Flames (and yes, why not that, too).

Out of adversity comes opportunity. Not my words, but those of Benjamin Franklin. He had a point. Use the time to bring back Dream Team. Please.

It must still exist in a dusty vault. It has no doubt aged terribly but surely that would just add to the charm. We’ve spoken about this many times before and will no doubt do so many times again. Why wouldn’t we? It was magnificent. For all the wrong reasons.

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Dream Team – Fletch is much missed

Running for ten series, the show was centred around the ongoing and progressively more outlandish events at fictional football club, Harchester United. Combining real life stadia  – Millwall’s ‘New’ Den played host to the exterior shots in later series – and action (often Leicester City, Chelsea or Everton but with the contrast turned up to make their blue shirts look like Harchester’s purple) the show was as loved for its crazy plots as the frequent use of celebrity cameos. From Ron Atkinson to John Barnes, even one time Brentford boss Steve Coppell had a go at channeling his inner Marlon Brando. It wasn’t good.

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Ansah

Yet perhaps the most famous of these actors was another former Bee, Andy Ansah. Forget his later work on ‘Street Striker’ or numerous films and adverts though. For me his crowning glory was six series reciting variants of: ‘Get warmed up lads’ and ‘Alright, Gaffer?’ whilst playing himself, as the club’s first team coach.

The plots were riddled with more holes than our defence. Murder at the FA Cup final. The plane crash. The coach crash. The coach explosion at the Millennium Stadium. Goalkeeper Jamie Parker holding his team mates at gun point in the changing room. Liverpool (the real Liverpool) being linked in the papers with a £3.5 million swoop for Didier Baptiste back in 1999. Cue much egg on face when it transpired they weren’t actually bidding for a Monaco player but actually looking at a character from a TV show.

It was truly awful yet compellingly addictive. Sadly, the show was axed in 2007 yet many loyal fans still campaign for a return. In the short term, the Coronavirus induced suspension of football may be the perfect opportunity to remind us all how magnificent this was as we look to the future….

One this all settles down, with Griffin Park around the corner from Sky HQ and the new stadium at Lionel Road, then what better time to bring this back with a progressive club filling the role of the new Harchester? They’ve used Watford. They’ve used Millwall. They’ve even used Brentford (albeit as part of the May 2007 Open Day when a Harchester United team played the Community Sports Trust at Griffin Park.

How about Brentford doing it again – for real ? If any show deserves a reboot, then Dream Team must be top of the list. If it worked for Doctor Who and Dallas (kind of) then imagine what could be done now. Come on Sky, the world of football demands it.

The other subject we touched on yesterday was Pele and Escape To Victory. Any excuse to see this one is always gratefully accepted. Now could be the time to go again. And beyond – there are plenty more football films out there.

If nothing else, like Dream Team, the 2018 film ‘Final Score’ shows the appetite for terrible football drama combined with ‘real life’ remains alive and kicking.  If you haven’t seen it as yet then please do. The Independent described it as “The most preposterous film of the year”. Things are bad when a movie doesn’t even go ‘straight to video’ but instead, ‘straight to sky movies’. Albeit, with a supposedly simultaneous big-screen release.

For those who may not be aware, season 2015/16 saw West Ham leave The Boleyn Ground (as the media insisted on calling a stadium they had only ever previously referred to as Upton Park) in a departure that was very much ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. I think it got the odd mention on Sky Sports over the campaign but don’t quote me on that. The denouement of their protracted exit saw supporters thinking demolition work had started early as a series of explosions ripped through the old ground back in June 2016. Infact, this turned out to be the filming of something I had promptly forgotten about until the aforementioned tweet crossed my social media stream.

Oh, my. Preposterous doesn’t even begin to touch the sides on this one. When it was released, Mrs. Bruzon and myself took the first opportunity to watch this shocker about a terrorist hostage-taking at The Boleyn Ground. A name they must have mentioned about a dozen times in the first half hour, in case anybody was in any doubt. All this happens in secret (don’t ask) and whilst West Ham are taking part in a European Cup semi-final against Russian outfit Dynamo FC. Count the number of things wrong in that last sentence alone. All the while, the hostage takers are searching out Pierce Brosnan, whose East European accent was even dodgier than his beard, whilst Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy attempts to save both the day and the annoying daughter of a former army comrade whose death he feels responsible for.

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Final Score – if Dream Team ever reached the big screen

Yet for every Escape to Victory and, to a lesser extent, The Damned United, Fever Pitch, Mike Bassett: England Manager, 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 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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Still, it doesn’t touch the sides of ‘Hot Shot’ .  Pele, again. But this is no Escape To Victory. It’s one I’d never, ever heard of yet now seen, am giving serious consideration to tracking down if the trailer is anything to go by. The 94 second trailer features, amongst other things: temporarily washed up Pay-lay (that’s Pele to you and I), an up and coming hot head,  an 80’s synth pop soundtrack and a training montage.

A training montage ! A. Training. Montage. In a trailer ! How good must this film be that they can afford to offer up this most iconic of sequences in the teaser sequence?

Oh… My… word..

With a script that seems hammier than Joey Barton’s acting, the producers may aswell have just lifted it straight from the bucket marked , “One was a cop who played it straight. The other wasn’t afraid to bend the rules to get results. Yet, somehow, this unlikely pairing could just be the ones to crack the case and save the day ”

So times may be getting tough. We may all end up stuck indoors with nothing but each other for company. Yet some clever scheduling or use of the internet may still provide that much needed hit of sport relief.

Starting with Series One of Dream Team….

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Nick Bruzon

 

Can our own Winston Churchill inspire further success ?

22 Feb

It seems an age since Brentford picked up a point at Birmingham City last weekend. Since then we’ve all had a chance to wonder just what happened to the guy in the green jacket. We’ve beaten Albion Rovers in the World Cup of programme covers final after an epic semi-final replay defeat of Blyth Spartans. We’ve learned that Bryan Mbeumo has recovered and will be starting today. Likewise that Sergi Canos is fit, although that’s a different set of pictures. Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have held Fulham in game that, arguably, they could have won last night –  a result that would have been the perfect tonic ahead of today’s visit from Blackburn Rovers. Yet as one New Road observer opined last night : ‘Result! More dropped points’. And he’s right. It is a result that means a win for Brentford this lunchtime is guaranteed to take us third, just one point behind Leeds United ahead of their own home banker against Reading. But , as ever, things are never as easy as they may seem on paper. Blackburn sit just outside the play-offs, very much sneaking up the blind side to a position where their own three points in front of the Sky cameras will see them edge into sixth. 

This is very much a day with everything to play for. Very much a day for Brentford to make a name for themselves and for Blackburn Rovers to try and ruin our moment with their own promotion seeking agenda. I’m just glad this one is a lunchtime kick off. There’s less time to wait until things get going albeit it’s somewhat of a drag for those living away from TW8. Welcome to what may await should we be successful in our aim of starting life at Lionel Road in the Premier League. 

That in itself being a phrase (or variant of) I have to pinch myself each time it is written. Not because we don’t deserve to be where we are. We do. The table doesn’t lie and this team is one of THE best we’ve ever had the good fortune to see. More because we all know how grim things were for so long. How desperately we all fought just to keep the club alive. It is a point we do return to on these pages as much to remind ourselves how incredible it will be should the dream play out.

Standing in our way today are Blackburn Rovers. We’ve a lot to thank them for. Mainly David Raya who has been one of the major contenders for player of the season. No goalkeeper in the Championship has conceded less than his 27 in 33 games. With the BMW firing at the other end, just think how significant this may prove to be when the final seasonings play out.

Then again, the Blackburn defence is pretty miserly. They’ve barely troubled the ‘A’ column this year and their last two games have seen back to back clean sheets as they picked up wins over Charlton and Hull City. It is a string of results that has marked a positive start to 2020 and now the play-off zone is beckoning. But what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Think Batman v The Joker or KITT v KARR in Knightrider. Who comes off unscathed? Who can pick a less relevant cultural reference ?

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KITT v KARR. The BMW v Blackburn

The heart, of course, says Brentford come out on top. The head says this is football. This is never easy. Nothing is guaranteed . It’s why this year has already seen Leeds United come unstuck against Wigan. Against QPR. Against Sheffield Wednesday. Held by many others. Why Charlton won at Nottingham Forest the Tuesday before last. Editor – bring forth the clichés. Every game absolutely needs to be taken as it comes. Past form counts for nothing when the referee blows his whistle – opponents expected to roll over and die rarely do. Something which would be very much appreciated if Reading could also adhere to.

Pressure can do strange things to top sides but confidence can also inspire them. If we carry on doing what we’ve been doing, and the crowd keep it loud, today has the possibility to be an auspicious one. Our fans are nothing but magnificent, as we saw again at Birmingham City on Saturday. Harry Potter in evidence, as ever. Loud and proud.  Our own man in the green jacket very much helping play a part in out-smarting theirs. More of the same very much the order of the day.

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Elsewhere, it would be remiss of us to not to round up recent coverage of the World Cup of Programme Covers event that has played out on Twitter. We’ve not graced these pages over the last few days – mainly due to half-term based exhaustion. Self-inflicted as a social life has, oddly, reared it’s head once more. Ahh – alcohol and live music – I welcome you both back into my life, old friends. Guinness, The Strokes and Bluetone Mark Morris amongst others to get in the way of writing this nonsense.

As such, we’d left things in the build up to the semi-final with Blyth Spartans. An incredible victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat as a last second vote in Brentford’s favour took the tie with Roger Mellie to a dead heat. You couldn’t make it up. Scenes. Limbs (whatever they are) and all other manner of cyber celebration greeted the result. A bitter gut punch to the stomach of the Viz inspired red-hot favourite. The replay seeing Bees cruise into a final shoot out with Albion Rovers.

We looked dead. Buried. The people’s favourite from North-of-the-border storming into a 72% lead until…. the votes began to swing. Was it the ‘RT’ from official that did it? Or just good taste coming to the fore? Either way, the Daliesque stylings of Albion’s wing wizard were pushed in to second place. The victory ours. The tournament complete. A plucky runner up denied the prize of victory which many, myself included, could have had no complaints with had they won.

And finally…. Editor – bring forth the crowbar. Whilst normally I don’t bang on about the match day programme, today is different.

The team have produced an issue based on the classic design from season 1991. A time when the Bees finally achieved promotion from what is now League One and those of us a bit longer in the tooth were wondering whether this really was the last we’d seen of Kinightrider.  Aswell as interviews with David Raya and Lee Towersey – the man behind the controls of R2D2 in Star Wars (apparently), Greville Waterman’s look back at the aforementioned promotion and my own personal favourite page Triple B, (Big) Ben Burgess – The Last Word (if nothing else, it’s a great title) I would crave your indulgence for my own column. If for no other reason then the hope that before the end of the season we may be able to bring back an old friend. Or two……

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Nick Bruzon

Brentford ruthless. QPR hopeless. Pressure building on top two.

12 Jan

That was just about the perfect day of football. Brentford obliterated QPR with a pedal to the metal first half performance that saw our visitors blown away and leaving Griffin Park for the last time on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. PaddyHoops. John Storm. Mike O’Callaghan. Pete Doherty – your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was quite wonderful. Moreso with Leeds United falling apart (again) and West Bromwich Albion being held at Charlton Athletic. With the pressure on the top two building further, The Bees have halved that previous 12 point gap to a mere 6.

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Players and fans celebrate – Pontus loving it

But before table talk and our rivals, let’s cut to the chase of the game at Griffin Park. Brentford were simply magnificent. The first half especially where the much talked about BMW of Benrahma, Mbeumo and Watkins all scored over the course of a blistering 15 minute spell in that opening period. QPR weren’t even close to coming second, such was the one way traffic and relentlessness of our approach. With fans knowing what this one meant, and Peter Gilham in fine voice, the goals started to flow.

First up, B. Saïd sweeping home a Jensen free kick to make it 1-0. The ball was played low into the box, Benrahma lost his man and hit it first time from just in front of the penalty spot to the bottom corner. The crowd exploded as one. Broad smiles across the faces of the players. Pontus fist pumping and screaming for all his worth. What a moment. Whatever pressure might have been on us was released in an instant.

Next, M. A woeful clearance from the QPR keeper found man of the match Christian Nørgaard. He hoisted it up to Mbeumo whose reading of the high ball into the box as he ran was exquisite, watching it from before reaching a telescopic leg around the chasing defender and making the perfect connection. 2-0 and the ground went bonkers. Peter set to blow, which he did just a few minutes later.

With the Bees continuing to push it was the turn of W, Ollie Watkins. His header coming off the end of another free kick move as Ethan Pinnock guided the ball across the face of goal. “That’s the B…M…W…” exhorted Peter over the p.a. system. Ollie making it quite clear the goal, his 18th of the season, was being given to him ! It sees him top of the Championship charts, level with Aleksandar Mitrovic who was stretched off yesterday.

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The BMW…

This was the stuff of dreams. And it could have been more. Watkins denied a stonewall penalty early doors as he was bundled over when clear through. Immediate talk in the stands and on social media was that this seemed an outrageous decision. It was something borne out by the Sky cameras and the crowd were quick to let the Braemar Road linesman know. “You should check your VCR” suggested one. Alex to our right was much more vocal. His observation thatYou know they’re slagging you off all over Sky  drawing huge laughs of appreciation. 

It was just about as exhilarating a half as one could have hoped for. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin sitting up in the director’s box, watching his team torn apart. They came back into it, slightly, in the second half with Nakhi Wells pulling one back but it was nothing more than a consolation. The visitor’s industrial approach endangering our players and angering the fans although not sufficiently to dampen the mood. The cheers at full time worthy of the occasion. The celebrations from the players matching those in the stands.

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Plenty to mull over at 3-0 down

Brentford were ruthless. QPR hopeless. It could, probably should, have been more. As one Braemar Road observer noted, “Imagine Peter if he had to announce Dasilva BMW”. Instead, we took our foot off the gas and coasted over the line. That said, the single most importune thing was getting the win. There’s not a single person amongst us who wouldn’t have taken three points and a 3-1 if offered up front. Winning the last ever West London derby at Griffin Park was an absolute must – and the boys more than met the challenge.

I’d imagine this will get a few plays…

Then, when the afternoon couldn’t get any better, it did. And how! Charlton managing not one but two equalisers as West Bromwich Albion were held at The Valley. Then Leeds United did what only Leeds United can. They fell apart. This time, Sheffield Wednesday their conquerors with two very late goals at Elland Road – their only two shots all game  – to leave the home side pointless. The gap to the top two continuing to shrink as the current form over the last 7(seven) league games  reads – West Brom : 1  Leeds United : 2   Brentford : 5.

That’s the exciting part. It all counts for nothing on the ‘automatic’ front should Leeds and West Brom both start winning again. That said, we’re now five points clear of seventh place ourself. There was a time not so long ago that just three points separated close to a dozen teams in and around that play-off zone. Now we’re starting to see some clear air. Now is the time to really push on.

The euphoria of beating our neighbours was about as exciting as it gets. Even official got in on the act with just about the best tweet they’ve ever shared…

On a personal note, H was the mascot and had a cracking afternoon. The club, as ever, pulling out all the stops for our young fans. It was just about the cherry on the cake of a wonderful day in and around Griffin Park.

There aren’t many of these to go – let’s make them all count.

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London Pride

Nick Bruzon

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

11 Jan

Saturday morning. Brentford are set to host QPR in a few hours time. The chance to inflict one more Griffin Park defeat on our near neighbours too delicious an opportunity to ignore. The potential of closing the gap between Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and ourselves to a mere six points an even bigger incentive. Whilst both of those have eminently winnable games later today, keeping the heat on two teams who have only picked up a single win apiece out of their last five and six Championship games respectively is no bad thing in the psychological stakes.  Assuming, of course, we do our thing !

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Another of these would be lovely

My word, this is what football is all about. The QPR fans can pretend it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen plenty of talk from their supporters making out that this is no derby, that there is nothing between our respective sides and that any talk of rivalry with Brentford is something purely played out in our heads.

Really? It didn’t feel that way when we were trashing the pants off them (again) at Loftus Road earlier in the season – you can stop crying now. When they tried to put us out of existence and move in back in 1967. When Martin Rowlands was kissing the badge – hopefully a doctor has now helped clear up the infection. When they were deriding us for our bus stop status. When there is a mere 5.2 miles (aka a short hop on the 237) separating our two grounds. Make that 4.2 miles next season when we move in to Lionel Road.

Try telling me it doesn’t matter

With Brentford flying high and achieving success within our means rather than incurring the huge fines that come with overspending it smacks of jealousy. With the Bees all set to move into a state of the art stadium whilst our neighbours languish in their matchbox it stinks of bitterness. With The Bees having a visionary owner rather than being a club going through the motions and struggling for a Plan B it reeks of huge inferiority complex. 

Yes, I’ll absolutely acknowledge they’ve been in the top flight more often than us and have been picked up the odd piece of silverware. Well done. Congratulations. That was then. This is now. Live on former glories at your peril. We’ve bided our time, caught them with their pants down and are now the biggest and best Championship club in West London. That’s beyond doubt – if for no other reason, the table doesn’t lie. Their supporters can pretend it doesn’t matter or doesn’t hurt all they want. I’m not having a bar of it. To borrow a line from Hamlet (Shakespeare. rather than the cigars), “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

As such, I’ll take particular pleasure in really raising the roof at Griffin Park today. Of knowing how important this game is. Of relishing how extra special it feels every time we beat the lices of QPR or Fulham. How extra sweet those points taste in games of this nature every time we add another three to our total. I’m not alone, either. Griffin Park is sure to be a cauldron of noise. If the QPR fans want to kid themselves it doesn’t matter and prefer to take their own game of Loftus Road library simulator on the road then all the better.

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It’s all gone quiet over there – again.

Ok – I’m not a complete idiot and fully appreciate that going gung-ho comes with it’s own risks. Yet this is how I feel about this one. To be honest, this is how genuinely confident I am every time The Bees run out to play at present. Regardless of opposition. Matthew Benham and his team have transformed this club. Every time we think we’ve seen a ‘best ever’ Brentford, they just go and reinvent the model (no pun intended). The football being played is like nothing we’ve ever seen. Goals flying in and the meanest defence in the division. Scintillating attack combined with a back line that oozes confidence. That’s not arrogance but a simple fact borne out by the statistics at the top of the table. That early season wobble as we found our feet nothing more than a hazy memory. For crying out loud, back then we even lost to Birmingham City….

So yes, these comments obviously come with a fair amount of home bias. With lashings of self-belief in what we do. Of course they will – it’s a Brentford blog page and we’re playing some quite incredible football at present. If that upsets anybody well tough. Get over it.  Everything we have done so far has been on absolute merit. That’s not to say the job is done. Anything but. Pride comes before a fall and if we even take our foot off the gas slightly or think a game is won before it kicks off then that’s a recipe for disaster. Thomas Frank will remind the players of that. For the supporters, our job – no, our privilege – is the chance to keep it loud and enjoy this moment. Every week sees our time at Fortress Griffin Park grow ever shorter. Let’s make sure we go out on a high.

My word. Hurry up 12.30pm. I can’t wait. Genuinely can’t wait. There’ll be Kevin Keegan levels of loving it if we do what I know we can. Bring it on and see you there.

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I’d love it etc etc etc

Nick Bruzon

Let’s do this. Come on…..!!!

10 Jan

It’s all about lunchtime TV at Griffin Park. The Brentford – Leicester City FA Cup tie has been picked for live coverage with the BBC deciding that this is the game for their  Saturday 12.45pm slot. Of more critical importance, we’ve got QPR coming down tomorrow for another. This one kicks off live on Sky at 12.30pm. But, frankly, watching it from the comfort of the sofa is the last place I’d choose to be. There’s nothing like a West London derby and this is, in theory, our last one at home before we move to Lionel Road. In theory, he says. The Bees and Fulham are both sitting in the play-off spots at present……..

Let’s get back to more immediate matters though. QPR and then Leicester City. 

First up, the visit of the not so super hoops. Anybody present for our 3-1 win at Loftus Road would know how incredible an atmosphere the Brentford fans generated. How exhilarating our performance. How easily we opened up our hosts, time and again. The BMW’s motor purring. Benrahma’s penalty and celebration entering the pantheon of club folklore as they ran to celebrate on the touchline with Peter Gilham.

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Back of the net…!!!

We know what this game means to Peter. You can bet tomorrow he’ll be referring to them as ‘our visitors’. Their name the most blasphemous of phrases following the well documented events of 1967. He’s not alone in having that added desire to win this fixture. We’ve a fine recent record against neighbours separated only by a distance of just over five miles and a short hop on the 237 from Westfield to a bus stop in Hounslow. It is one we will be absolutely pumped to continue on Saturday. Play-offs and promotion are, perhaps, equaled by local bragging rights as a motivation factor. Albeit, we’ll very much be playing the game and the team in front of us rather than the occasion.

Whilst Brentford are flying, QPR have been very much on a bumpy track recently. Although two wins in a row (wow!!) in January may suggest a positive start to 2020, prior to that they had a dreadful December – picking up just one one point from the last four games  – and a winless November. All being well,  vague form – back to back wins against bang average teams – will be arrested as easily as it has raised it’s head. Especially if we can get that early goal.

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Results at home to QPR have been wonderful in recent seasons

And if we don’t, patience will be the order of the day. The bench is starting to look stronger whilst the team just keep on going for the full 90 minutes. Me banging on won’t change this. You know it and I know it. Thomas Frank and his team are flying. We’ve all seen what Brentford can do. I just can’t wait for the opportunity to try and close the gap on the top two. With our game taking place at lunchtime, victory would take us to within 6 points of Leeds United and West Brom. How nice to do that at the expense of Rangers.

As for Leicester City and the FA Cup, TV was always an option and given their fixture list the Saturday lunchtime seemed likely. Now it has been confirmed that the BBC have selected us. As such, kick off is now 12.45 on Saturday 25th with tickets going on sale Friday afternoon to existing season ticket holders. Full details are on the official website.

There’s not too much else to say at this juncture. If for no other reason, the (subsequently corrected) error in yesterday’s piece that forgot about us playing Nottingham Forest the Tuesday after Leicester. Oops.  Besides, I think we’ve done this one to death now.

Very much time to concentrate on the league. And it’s not often you can say that when you are still in the cup. Bring it on tomorrow. Get on the bus. Get off in Hounslow. See you there….

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

Nick Bruzon

It’s………….Wayne Rooney’s Account

3 Jan

Brentford host Stoke City in the FA Cup tomorrow. Liverpool moved 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League, having gone unbeaten in a year after yesterday’s 20 win over Sheffield United. However, none of that matters compared to the 2-1 victory for Wayne Rooney’s Derby County over Barnsley, played out live on Sky Sports last night to the entire planet. A dominant Wayne Rooney destroyed the Tykes, as the newly appointed Wayne Rooney’s Derby County captain provided both assists and scored a brace on his long awaited debut.

You’ll forgive me for feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the Derby County love in that took place on Thursday evening. Or, specifically, that surrounding the all time England goal scoring record holder. I hadn’t realised. If only somebody had said. About a dozen times. Every touch from the stocky looking midfielder was greeted as though it had been played by Pele. Every pass seemingly as sublime as a Cristiano Ronaldo through ball. 

Only an idiot would fail to realise that Wayne’s arrival was going to attract attention. That was guaranteed from the announcement of his signing, the gifting of his traditional ’32’ shirt and the protected lead up to this one. By the time the 34 year old finally made his debut it was beyond all previously seen hype levels. The records set by Frank Lampard’s Derby County being obliterated within moments of coverage starting. You’d be forgiven for thinking the family Rooney had somehow hacked Sky’s account to influence the coverage, such was the fascination. Except, of course, that sort of stuff could never happen. Carry on like this and they’re going to shit themselves next Saturday when the cameras are back at Griffin Park for Brentford – QPR.

Except, of course, they won’t. We aren’t global. We don’t have his former glories. His baggage. His wife, who was there looking on from the stands and even got her own graphic. His wage bill.

Good luck to Derby County. Limping past rapidly improving Barnsley, to stay in 17th place in the Championship, is only the first step in what will need to become a very much long term project. Who knows? Wayne could be the man to inspire them. Filling the Championship void left by the departure of Aston Villa’s John Terry.  Inspiring his younger team mates to retain their former glories. It’s going to be a lot easier – for them and for us – without the eyes of the world watching.

Two tweets summed it up for me last night. This is what it felt like for anyone outside the Pride Park love in.

There we go. The high bar has been set. No doubt the media will now be tripping over themselves to shoot him down the second anything, no matter how small, fails to go to plan. Derby and Bet 32 have take an a massive gamble. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Getting back to TW8, Brentford and Stoke meet in the FA Cup third round on Saturday. With promotion to the Premier League very much a genuine aspiration at present, what would you do if you were Thomas Frank? Give the B team and substitutes a run out or stick with the team that has done so well over these last few months?

For me, Clive, it’s an odd one. I absolutely love the FA Cup and have advocated full strength for year after year,. The chance to progress in this famous old competition too big an opportunity to cast aside with abandon. The potential of entertaining a Liverpool or Manchester City a delicious incentive for reaching the fourth round. Moreso in what is our final season in Griffin Park.

Yet, yet, yet….. Bloody hell. We’re third in the Championship. The gap to seventh place is starting to grow. The two teams above us – Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, whilst still well, well clear are both starting to wobble. Relatively. Each team having a current league record of only one win in five. If ever there was a time to give the first team a chance to catch their breath then now is the moment that Thomas Frank could be forgiven. For letting the broader squad stay match fit.

I’m absolutely with him on this one. I’m fully expecting the BMW to stay in the garage. For Luke Daniels to be named captain. For Julian Jeanvier to start this one after Ethan Pinnock as come in and performed heroics alongside Pontus. For the long awaited debut of Halil Dervisoglu – should clearance come through 🙂 .

And, it would seem, I’m not alone. As ever, the medium of Twitter summarising in one comment more than all this gubbins could ever do….

Whomever Thomas picks, it’s still a special occasion. Still a game we’ll be going out 100% to win. Whilst I’m absolutely with Luis on the team selection strategy, it doesn’t mean the occasion will be enjoyed any less. The desperation to win as enormous as ever. Peter Gilham busting a gut to big up the crowd. Tin foil trophies being hoisted high in the sky. The lure of Wembley still as strong as ever.

I can’t wait for this one. Bring it on!! Whatever the team.

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Nothing says FA Cup tradition like a home made trophy

Nick Bruzon

Frank is sense. Christmas gifts see Bees go third.

27 Dec

What an afternoon. Brentford ended the day sitting third in the Championship after Swansea City were the latest to be on the receiving end of a Griffin Park trouncing. A brace from Ollie Watkins and another goal for Bryan Mbeumo putting this one out of sight, despite a tired second half flurry from the visitors. With Leeds United falling apart (again), the gap to ‘automatic’ is now down to single figures – 8 points being the difference. Even then, they needed an 89th minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to rescue a point at home to Preston. With West Bromwich Albion (Barnsley) and Fulham (Luton) both drawing against the divisional whipping boys and Sheffield Wednesday going down to Stoke City, our rivals for the top spots formed an orderly queue to take their turn of delivering The Bees a Christmas gift. Specifically that of doing us a favour. The thought of our trip to Millwall on Sunday has suddenly become very appealing (not a typo).

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Thomas enjoys the moment at Full Time

You’ve all seen the action, presumably. Either as part of a packed Griffin Park or c/o the Sky coverage that meant our game went out live to the nation yesterday. At least, the part that doesn’t want their live action left in a recycling box or sitting on the doorstep. Otherwise, the official highlights are further below. Mbeumo opened proceedings early on. Guiding home a corner that had been headed back across the face of goal by an unmarked Ethan Pinnock. The big man, who had retained his place alongside the returning Pontus Jansson, doing magnificently to make the room and plop it straight on to Bryan’s head.

Twenty minutes gone and 1-0 up. There was barely time for anybody taking a toilet break to get back to their seats before the lead was double. None other than Ollie Watkins. The striker, and that’s what he is, grabbing a true poacher’s goal as he stuck out a leg to steer a Rico Henry cross past the despairing Freddy Woodman in the away goal. 2-0 and, surely, that was it?

Well, yes. Although being Brentford we had a little moment just after the hour when David Raya was unable to smother a shot from Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew was closest to the loose ball. Urghh. With that, the Swans got their tails up. But rather than breaking Brentford’s arm with their wing men, it was the Bees who broke their spirits. The pressure was, as ever, contained and Ollie Watkins wrapped things up. Sprinting clear, he charged down on the goal to make things safe as we headed towards injury time. There was to be no sweating on the result. No clenched buttocks. No last minute stress. The final whistle a perfunctory noise greeted with ecstasy rather than relief. And that was before we checked ‘other results’.

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The Bees were dominant

Honestly, one can’t even begin to describe the mood around the place at present. EVERYBODY has faith. Has confidence. The players are calm under pressure and exhilarating on the ball. The fans lapping it up. Peter Gilham losing his shit on the public address system. Each announcement becoming more and more enthused.

The piece about him in The Guardian yesterday described how he was offered a script but refused it. Thank goodness. We all know how incredible he is but to hear his joy transmit to the fans and the players is all a part of what is helping make our success. Even at half time, he stood there with mic in hand, not even lifting it to his lips until he had clapped everybody off and into the changing room. You may not have noticed this in the rush for the beer queue and the ablutions block but I stood and watched. What a man. The beating heart of our club.

But then, what a team. Matthew Benham’s genius and Thomas Frank’s approach have delivered up a squad that is the envy of all. A team built on a metaphorical shoe string (relatively), with a makeshift centre forward, that continue to defy expectation. At least, of those looking in. We’ve seen this coming for years. The diamonds unearthed and sold on. Their replacements being even better than before. The momentum building. The confidence high. 

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Safe to say that this performance was well received

Yet this feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. Even under the continuing highs that we’ve been served up over the last ten seasons. Now, I expect to win every game. That’s not arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s a reflection in the ability that this team has. The perfect blend of youth and experience. Unfettered skill allowed to run riot. Wise heads at the back to give guiding advice. Pontus is our big name at the back but don’t overlook Henrik Dalsgaard either. His lungs must be be gargantuan.

Next up Millwall (away) on Sunday. What an opportunity awaits if we can carry on doing what we’ve done so far. Then it’s Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Whilst one doesn’t like to look too far ahead, that game is mentioned more as an incentive (should any, somehow, be needed) for that trip to the New Den. After we run out at Ashton Gate,  West Bromwich Albion host Leeds United. Either way, something has to give.

For now, though, it’s a period of reflection. Of enjoying what was a quite incredible end to 2019 at Griffin Park. There’s the short hop to South-East London on Sunday and with it, the opportunity to carry on this enjoying this fantastic period. I’m sorry, the words are kind of failing me this morning. I’m sitting here with a huge grin on the face at this obscene hour of the day. I’m about to head back to work but the thought of commuting is, for once, not the usual harbinger of doom and gloom that comes with rising at this time of the day. Instead, there’s a big smile and a genuine feeling of well being. That’s down to Peter. To Thomas. To Matthew. To Bryan. To Ollie. To Henrik, Pontus, Josh, Ethan and the rest of the team. 

That’s down to everyone. THANK YOU. See you on Sunday… Until then, here’s the action once more

 

Nick Bruzon