Tag Archives: Southend United

What is our current hot ticket? Who will win the big one?

13 Apr

Exciting times lie ahead for Brentford. The Easter weekend double header against Derby County and Barnsley is almost upon us. The second fixture having a potential extra layer of spice, should the club decide to accept the gauntlet laid down by Toby Tyke after Buzz Bee was robbed of mascot race victory back in October’s reverse fixture at Griffin Park. Then there’s the small matter of West London derbies at home to QPR and across at Fulham. Those games always have an additional feel of frisson outside of the regular league table although the aim of finishing as West London’s top Championship side for the third successive season is an even bigger incentive for Brentford to pull out all the stops.

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He celebrates too soon? Did Toby really win last time?

Things come to a conclusion when we host Blackburn Rovers in early May. Following that game is, of course, the Player Of the Year Awards. Unlike at Loftus Road, where QPR have had to cancel their own event within a week of it being announced due to a lack of interest (no,please, stop. I’m still cringing) Bees fans have had no problem in snapping up the tickets for ours.

Highlight of that event is, as ever, the vote for Player of the year. Currently held by Alan Judge, his season long absence through injury means a new incumbent awaits. Have the likes of returning demi-gods Jota and Sergi Canos done enough to steal the vote at the eleventh hour? Will it be an unsung hero such as Ryan Woods ? International debutant John Egan? Or a.n.other?

Well, for me (Clive) if we are looking for season long consistency it comes down to a bunfight between Harlee Dean and Daniel Bentley. The former, our captain, has been a colossus at the back whilst adding an exciting attacking element to his game these days. Certainly one of the first names on the team sheet, its hard to remember he’s only 25 – so long has he been with us, so commanding has he appeared this season . Gone are the mistakes of old (who doesn’t make them as they learn how to ply their trade?).  Replacing them are supreme confidence and an equal level of ability.

As for Daniel Bentley, FourFourTwo magazine named him as Brentford’s outstanding performer in their run down of the 50 top football league players published in the current edition. The magazine even going so far as to note that England manager Gareth Southgate is keeping an eye on him. He has made the leap from League One new boys to a top half of the Championship side look effortless. Indeed, it was his own performances which saved us numerous points in the early part of the season as he took to the Griffin Park gives like the proverbial duck to water. No surprise that QPR made three bids for him following Southend United’s play off victory in 2015; no surprise their chairman turned them down.

Good luck picking a winner out of those. Good luck to your host for the evening, Natalie Sawyer, in measuring up to Buzzette in the style stakes.

Buzzette makes her entrance to the 2016 POTY awards

But if you can’t be there for that one then how about an alternative? Sunday 30th April sees Billy Grant and the Beesotted team hosting the final of this year’s ’socials’. Taking place at the Drayton Court hotel in Ealing from 6pm until 2am (I feel exhausted just thinking about staying out that late) guests of honour will be Brentford legends Francis Joseph, Gary Roberts, Billy Manuel & Graham Benstead.

There’s a dozen other ex-bees in the house along with a comedian, DJ and magician helping provide the entertainment along with the players doing their ‘in conversation’ segment . Add to that a hot buffet, a level of  complimentary beer and your fellow Bees’ fans then it is sure to be a cracking night out.

Full details of the event, including tickets, are available on the Beesotted website.

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And talking of tickets (waiter, I’ll have the industrial crowbar please) don’t forget there’s only 11 and a bit days left until the ‘seat hold’ deadline expires for those wanting to retain their current place at Griffin Park. With dispensation given to retain the terraces for another season, there’s room for everybody to stay where they were should you wish to purchase a club season ticket. In addition, earlybird prices staying on hold until 31 May means you can get a season’s worth of Championship football for was little as £369. As for the kids. £90, including a home shirt, represents even better value.

Full details are on official, where there is also a link direct to the season ticket page.

I’ve seen some talk saying that the seat hold deadline still feels too soon, given the season is still running. Perhaps. But it’s a tricky line to walk given that the campaign will be over just two weeks after that. I can see the position out marketing team are in. Revenue is what helps keep us afloat, let’s not pretend otherwise, and this way looks to maximise take up whilst football remains fresh in everybody’s mind.

Besides, if you need a yardstick then look at Fulham. No, please. Their seat hold deadline has already expired, two weeks ahead of ours. As have their ‘early bird’ prices. Both of those slipping away on 10th April. I sympathise from one respect. It’ll be a tough job filling that neutral stand.

In my eyes, I think we’ve got the balance right. You won’t please everybody but, at the same time, barring disasters we’ll all be coming back again next season. One way or another.

Come for the football; stay for the social. Griffin Park is a way of life. It is as much about seeing your friends and familiar faces as it is in cheering on the lads. If this is our final season with the ground in the current form (would we get a fifth season of terrace? Will Lionel Road be ready this quickly?) , then I’ve certainly got every intention of being there.

Even if it isn’t, I’ll be back. There’s been too much blood, sweat and tears (mainly tears) invested into this club since 1979 to walk away from our firmest ever footing and most exciting time in most supporters’ living memory.

Win or lose. It is a part of us. I love it. We love it. Bring on 2017/18. Although, first, there’s the small matter of Derby, Fulham, QPR and possibly Toby to get past. Roll on Friday.

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Well said

Nick Bruzon

Better than Chesney? Has Arsenal wunderkind finally been surpassed?

20 Sep

Brentford 5. Newcastle United, Birmingham, Huddersfield 6. QPR 14. Rotherham 20. Not the odds on winning September’s manager of the month award but, infact, the total goals conceded by the respective teams after 8 Championship games. And in the case of the Bees, one man has a huge part to play in that stat – goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

 Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST. 

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Bentley – a model professional

 

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Bill makes an early call. And he’s not alone

 

Milton Keynes Dons v Brentford

Chesney – the legend

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Nick Bruzon

A tale of three Pauls and one Psycho. The Last Word on….

16 Aug

Brentford host Nottingham Forest tonight. With round 3 of Championship action  upon us, all being well we can divert ourselves from gantry based chat long enough to look at tonight’s opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and tonight Forest are in the hot seat. Featuring a series of regular questions/ categories about the visitors , the results are picked using no more scientific criteria than personal taste. With apologies for any glaring omissions, here we go (again).

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Brentford take on Nottingham Forest at Griffin Park tonight

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Very much a tale of three Pauls, here . Our first being the goalkeeping legend that is Paul Smith. One of the finest players between the sticks in modern times, he turned out over 100 times for the Bees after signing from Carshalton back in 2000. A move to Southampton to help the club out of a financial hole would eventually follow in 2004 before he found himself at the City Ground.   Last seen at Griffin Park back in January 2013 where his single handed heroics almost stopped the Bees progressing past Southend United and an FA Cup fourth round tie with Chelsea

Next up, Paul Evans. Much like last week’s pick, Jay Tabb, part of my all time Brentford XI based on those I’ve seen play on a regular basis (Szczesny, O’Connor, Evans,  Hreidarsson, Grainger, Paul Evans, Forshaw, Sinton, Tabb, Holdsworth, Blissett) .

What can you say beyond “Evans. From the half way line.” Not once but twice. In successive games . What a pair of net busters and what a player. 34 goals from midfield in 157 games, along with a cap for Wales , tells its own story of a wonderful career at Griffin Park.

Like so many, his time came to an end after ‘that’ play off final against Stoke City. Move along please, nothing to talk about there.

The picture quality is awful; the technique wonderful

However, our winner is not so much a player as a caretaker manager, in Paul Williams. The one time Brentford logistics manager taking up the role of assistant to head coach Lee Carsley back in October of last year.  Paul was famously honoured by Lee when the winners of October’s manager of the month aware were announced, with Carsley saying “Every decision I have taken in the past month has been made between myself and my assistant Paul Williams.If I could cut the award in half, he would get the other half. I see this as a reward for a great team effort over the month

December saw a parting of the ways, however, with Paul taking the opportunity to become first team coach at Nottingham Forest and even caretaker manager for the last couple of months of the season. That was long enough to keep them up although, in a result that left Paul “really disappointed” his knowledge of the Bees was insufficient to stop us recording a 3-0 away win.

The Brentford encounter ( noteworthy game with the Bees). We’re going back almost 35 years but have picked our 1982 League cup fourth round tie. Incredibly, the furthest we’ve reached in the competition (and last week’s result at Exeter City isn’t helping that record any) it saw the Bees facing a game against Brian Clough’s best team in Europe.

Brentford were expected to be on the end of a good hiding and, whilst we eventually succumbed 2-0, Paddy Roche  made sure it was a lot closer than the pre-match predictions would have had you believe. Talking to the Bees goalkeeper about this game a few years ago, he noted the expectation levels that had been present in the home side and the reason these weren’t met “They were a top side then and we gave them a good run. That is one of the best memories of my career, probably. Gary Birtles was playing at Forest for the match that night and I’d been with him at Manchester United. He came in and told me after the game that Brian Clough had said to the Forest players “The reason you didn’t win six or seven nothing was because you played against the best ‘keeper you been up against all season”.

Favourite son  (their most famous former player). This is where it gets interesting. Million pound man Trevor Francis? That colossus of a centre back Des Walker, whose Nottingham Forest career encompassed 20 years and two spell from 1984 to 2004? What about pineapple coiffeured Jason Lee or the man whose goal sealed the 1980 European cup final, John Robertson?

However, for most neutrals there is one name synonymous with Nottingham Forest on the playing front and that, of course, is Stuart Pearce. A three time player of the year, this tough tackling full back was dubbed ’Psycho’ for good reason with a reputation, and an ability, that preceded him.

A first choice on any team sheet (club or country), how the national team must wish they had his like available for selection once more. With over 500 appearances for Forest under his belt, he was the epitome of the man who gave his all when on the pitch.

Stuart Pearce of England celebrates after scoring his penalty

Stuart Pearce – an iconic image

Famous fan. Nottingham Forest are very well served in this category. Those with a musical yearning can look to James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers or Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice. Then there are the likes of Stuart Broad or golfer Lee Westwood from the world of sport.

And of course, those with an ear to the radio will know that Absolute Radio breakfast show news reader Matt Dyson is an ardent Forest fan.

But the pairing I’d love to see in the director’s box are better known from our screens. Jason Statham is to acting what Stuart Pearce was to tackling. Just don’t mess, walk away, nothing to see here. I love his films. There’s no subtly and that’s just fine. Sit back, switch off and enjoy.

Then, you have the anti-Stath. Su Pollard. Best known, of course, for playing over-enthusiastic chalet maid Peggy on Hi-De-Hi (kids, ask your parents) if ever you had the polar opposite to the man who played Chev Chelios (Crank) and Frank Martin(The Transporter), amongst others, then here you go.

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Peggy. The anti-Stath

 

Best Ever League Performance. Not so much a game as a streak. Forget Arsenal and their so called invincibles (please, just forget Arsenal) on 26 November 1977 the club embarked on 42 match unbeaten run with a 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion . It was a run that lasted over an entire year before eventually coming to an end in December 1978. This, not before their final result in the streak, a 1-0 win over Bolton, set a record that would last for over two decades .

Moment of ignominy (what it says – opposite to above) Relegation from the Premier League in 1993. I take no pleasure form those words, either. Brian Clough subsequently retired and a team who, as somebody growing up watching football had been one of THE names to both respect and fear, had seen a golden era finally one to an end.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Can most neutrals even name another Nottingham Forest manager? It can only be Brian Clough.

You could write book on the man who managed Nottingham Forest from 1975-1993. And many have tried. So how do you pay justice to one of the most charismatic managers in football history in one paragraph?  The simple answer being that you can’t.

With the charisma also came success. He took an unfancied team all the way to the league title, numerous trophies and back to back European cup wins. Always seen as very much anti-establishment but the suits at the FA, what would have happened had he been given a chance to run the national team?

An absolute legend and one who is very sadly missed.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). For a club to win one European Cup is an incredible achievement. Moreso one who had, seemingly, come from nowhere in just a few short seasons as Nottingham Forest did when they triumphed over Malmo. Yet to repeat that feat just 12 months later, this time Hamburger SV being the victims, is simply stunning.

Interestingly, despite the huge standout of that silverware and the titles, Brian Clough is noted as seeing that unbeaten 42 streak as his greatest achievement. And who am I to argue?

Nick Bruzon

Ricky Shakes Bees as Jack joins Blades

9 Jul

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

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

Jack O'Connell signs

Jack has swapped Bees for Blades

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s hoping the right decision is taken.

Nick Bruzon 

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

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

 

What’s not happening at Liverpool is the real story

8 Jul

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

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

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

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Sergi – oh, to see more of the same

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

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

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

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

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

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Are we now in ‘The coming days’ ?

Nick Bruzon

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

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

Sawyers, Egan, Bentley all IN. And a return for Andy Scout

2 Jul

Well that was some day in TW8. Brentford boss Dean Smith embarked on a triple transfer swoop that has sent the fans into overdrive whilst, no doubt, earning further friends at Walsall. Romaine Sawyers IN. Daniel Bentley IN. John Egan IN. Oh, and then there was the small matter of captain Jake Bidwell joining QPR. There’ll be a separate piece on that one but, for now, we’ll simply say “good luck” and politely leave it there.

We’d all heard the rumours. We’d all scoured the local press looking for some crumb of Brentford related news in the lean summer months since the season ended. These names have been doing the rounds for some time but, being honest, did we expect to get them all? On day 1?

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Official twitter has a triple transfer montage

More to the point, how did the local press get it so right this time? And for so long? I’ve long been scornful of a rumour mill that seems as much miss as it is hit. Throw enough mud and some will stick. However, on this on you have to say ‘hats off’ for calling them all, including the news about Jake, spot on.

This is nothing but stunning. Sawyers and Egan were both in the League 1 team of the year last season, an honour Bentley had the season previous as Southend got promoted via the play off final. That, a game Sam Saunders will remember (although perhaps for the wrong reasons) after injury forced him to leave the pitch quicker than you could say “And this is Saunders territory”, just seconds after kick off.

What does this all mean for the rest of the squad? Egan is a centre back and with Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell, Andreas Bjelland and Yoann Barbet could somebody else be moving on? Might Dean be moving to a formation with three central defenders? Or is it a case of him having to try and keep a lot of players very happy with a place on the bench? Either way, this level of competition can only be a good thing.

As for Daniel Bentley, he comes very highly rated and there is a genuine sense of excitement at his joining. The obvious question is if he will be in line to support or replace David Button. In my eyes, he ran Alan Judge oh so close for player of the season last time out and helped keep the good ship Brentford afloat when things were, shall we politely say, going through a bit of a rough patch on field.

Reading the press release, Phil Giles has noted that, “As it stands all three goalkeepers, including Jack Bonham, will be competing to be first choice goalkeeper against Huddersfield on the opening day of the season.” Whilst I have no doubt that is true, as it stands, I can’t believe having al three on our books will be a long term option. Will David sign the new contract he has been offered? Will Daniel have to be content as an understudy at first? Or will it be a case of Bentley & Bonham being our goalkeeping 1-2 as we head into 2016/17?

Then there’s Romaine Sawyers. He earned plaudits all last season and no more so than as Walsall dumped Brentford out of the FA Cup in the game we don’t talk about. They deserved it that day and he was wonderful. With John Swift back at Chelsea, Sergi Canos back at Liverpool and Jota still on his ‘loan’ in Spain there’s certainly room for an attacking midfielder.

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Romaine sports the signing scarf

Yesterday was nothing but brilliant.

Off the field, it was also confirmed that Andy Scott is now back at Brentford in an official capacity, as Chief Scout. Whilst Matthew Benham had previously alluded to his work for us, Andy is now fully on board with Phil Giles noting “I have been working with Andy over the last year or more, and he has been invaluable in identifying players and providing detailed scouting reports on all of our targets.

Andy, if you are reading then congratulations. It’s great to have you back. I’l never forget those goals or that night against Everton. Now, if you could hot foot it up to Liverpool and start compiling a dossier, there’s a chap called Sergi I think you might like to take a look at……

Nick Bruzon

And finally…. :  Andy, Daniel, Romaine or John, If you are reading ( you aren’t)  The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. For all the info, the highs, the lows, more highs about the club you are joining then  you can do so now.

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

Is the transfer klaxon about to go off? Which way?

1 Jul

Is Jake Bidwell leaving Brentford for QPR? Another two days of rumours going into overdrive suggest July 1st could see a move go through. Is there any substance to them? Who knows? For me, its all about the door swinging the other way and the latest issue of ‘The Buzz’ newsletter. Specifically, the feature on Josh McEachran where the fact his picture was one sporting a Chelsea shirt wasn’t the main talking point from the article.

Perhaps they got confused with our away kit” noted one New Road observer in an attempt to explain why Josh wasn’t photographed in red and white stripes. Whatever the reason, ‘The Buzz’  continues to excite when it hits the inbox. And no more so this time around from the throwaway line at the end of the article…..

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Does this mean we can expect transfer news today? Will it be one of the hotly tipped trio of John Egan (Gillingham), Daniel Bentley (Southend United) or Romaine Sawyers (Walsall) ? Could we even be living in dreamland and harbouring secret hopes of a return from Liverpool for Sergi Canos?

With the fee for Canos being reported as £2.5m, surely that has to be way beyond our wildest dreams. It would need more than selling Jake Bidwell to cover that one. Chuck in Alan Judge, David Button and Harlee Dean before the numbers even started to crunch.

Then again, all I can do is speculate. The closest I get to being a source ‘close to the club’ is walking my son to nursery past Griffin Park each morning. However, probability suggests that any available expenditure will be spread out over a number of players rather than most of the eggs being chucked in one basket.

If there is to be disappointment about Jake to QPR, or anywhere else, hopefully the blow will be softened by this implication of inward news. Interestingly, Wikipedia had Romaine down as a Brentford player on Thursday evening although, equally, we all know that is hardly a reliable means of confirming anything ahead of the facts. Had somebody been a bit premature on the updates or is it simply a terrace wag indulging in a spot of high jinks?

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Last season saw a lot of people upset about the huge turnover to a squad which almost reached the Premier League. Understandably so – football is an emotive game and these players had got us to where we finished on merit. Moreso when the new recruits took their time to bed in (much like that pitch). Again, understandably so, although it would be fair to say that some of them are now absolutely nailed on starters. Likewise, don’t forget the FFP related reasons that necessitated those sales.

Besides, nobody could deny we finished in some style. Ninth place, and clear of both QPR and Fulham, was a stunning denouement to the campaign. Moreso with that wonderful return from injury for Scott Hogan. Has that late run masked early / mid season ‘challenges’ or will we pick up where we left off? Either way, expect a further changed squad with that restructure seemingly set to start.

Is Jake Bidwell going? Is Romaine Sawyers coming ? Or, after May’s somewhat random suggestion about Josh going back to Chelsea (which Dean Smith dismissed saying “I have heard nothing at all about this. Is that to help him with his treatment?“) could the biggest transfer clue be right under our noses…..

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IS Josh going back to Chelsea? No.

Nick Bruzon

Sheer Bliss for Brentford on Boxing Day

27 Dec

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to trot out some Chronicle style 80’s alliteration but the occasion of yesterday’s visit of Brighton was one that also saw Bees legend Gary Blissett, finally, inducted into the Brentford hall of fame. We’ll get to Bliss shortly but can only begin with a draw 0-0 between the Bees and the Seagulls that we can, perhaps, count ourselves unlucky not to have won.

David Stockdale in the Brighton goal pulled off a number of second half saves to kept the scores level as the game opened up a bit. The Brentford midfield looked a tad flatter than normal as clean sheets and snuffing out the opposition seemed the first order of the day. That said, Alan Judge was once more the standout man from that area when the Bees did take the game forward, as a series of second half chances were carved out only for Stockdale to keep Brighton in it.

The first from Judge saw the Irishman (surely a ‘shoe-in’ for Euro 2016 on this form) cut in from the wing and unleash a ferocious drive which the ‘keeper was able to parry over. Next up, the would be poacher turned would be provider, setting up Tarkowski for a header and certain goal. Again, the athletic Stockdale had to be at his best diving full stretch to guide it around the post with a stunning save.

Indeed, Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box would go one better and describe it as “Phenomenal“. Certainly, subsequent review of the  highlights pay testament to the true quality of the save. Finally it was Judge once more, from distance, forcing the Brighton shot stopper to dive to his left and tip away for another Bees corner.

Three great stops that, perhaps, denied three points for Brentford. However, we were ultimately the architects of our own result. Philipp Hofmann had the best chance of all, earning space in the box to get himself on the end of a Tarkowski cross with the goal begging and just Stockdale to beat. From six yards out.

This time, sadly, the save was anything but world class and that’s no disrespect to Brighton. With the whole of the target to aim at , the big German guided his header straight down Stockdale’s throat for a comfortable catch. And with that, scores remained at 0-0.

“He could have been the hero”. Not my words but those of Mark Burridge.

Full credit to Brighton. They closed us out and made chances few and far between. Likewise, a point against the long term league leaders is no bad thing whatsoever when, but for a bit more luck in front of goal (or a different ‘keeper), we may well have taken the win.

But there you go. Such are the margins in football and, perhaps, somewhat telling that this was the day we welcomed Gary Blissett into the Brentford ‘hall of fame’ at half time. His absence from this institution has been somewhat of an enigma but great to see if finally remedied.

Gary’s record speaks for itself and he remains a hero to Brentford fans of a certain age. Over six years from 1987 to 1993 he terrorised defences across the old third, and for one brief season, first divisions (what we know today as the Championship) . Notching 105 goals in 291 games (a strike rate of better than 1 in 3) alongside a variety of partners – most notably Richard Cadette and Dean Holdsworth – his FA Cup goals against Manchester City and Blackburn are the stuff of legend whilst the promotion clincher in the 1-0 victory at Peterborough has earned him a place in Brentford folklore.

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Bliss makes it 3-1 in the FA Cup v his beloved Manchester City

His performance in ’92-’93, where as an ever present his goals almost kept us in the old first division, demands equal recognition. If for no other reason than he’d seen Dean Holdsworth replaced with Murray Jones (think of a twentieth century Nick Proschwitz – nobody could fault the effort but, sadly the end product was somewhat lacking).

It wasn’t just as a goalscorer that Bliss made his name. He was also emergency goalkeeper – making his debut half way through a Championship game at home to Southend United in 1992 whilst Ashley Bayes shouted directions from behind the goal. Direction that Bliss ignored in a game that saw our first league win of that campaign.

His sale in 1993 , with relegation back to the third tier of English football confirmed, was an inevitable one but his reputation at Griffin Park has never diminished. Even close to a quarter-century later,  he remains as much a hero to supporters – this one specifically – as he did in his playing days.

Congratulations, Gary. Thoroughly well deserved.

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

As a final thought, here’s a statistical question. When was the last time we played successive games against teams in day-glo yellow? Following the previous game at home to Huddersfield Town, Brighton turned out in an equally lurid yellow design that was easier to see than the stewards.

Despite what looked like a sell out away crowd, I counted less than three dozen on display amongst supporters – and they were easy to spot from 100 yards away.

I have no idea what Mark Devlin and kitman Bob have lined up for next season, if they even know as yet, but from this kit obsessive here’s a suggestion – perhaps neon isn’t the best look !

Black might be good (hint, hint).

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Neon yellow – not a great look

Nick Bruzon

A tale of two Sams as next season takes shape

24 May

Brentford find out over the next few days who out of Newcastle United and Hull City; Swindon Town and Preston North End; Middlesbrough and Norwich City will be joining us in the Championship. But before we even get on to those there can only be one place to start – Wycombe Wanderers, at Wembley, in the League 2 play off final.

Specifically the two Sams – Wood and Saunders. We all know about the huge contingent of former and current bees at Wycombe but these two, along with Marcus Bean, have been heroes to many of us in recent seasons. So to see Sam Saunders forced to leave the pitch after the game began, quicker than you could say “And this is Saunders territory” was heart breaking stuff.

He has been my favourite Bees’ player for years and I was gutted to see him go out on loan earlier this year. Moreso, because it was a time when the team might really have benefitted from the option of somebody with enthusiasm, impetus and ability.

However, with hopes of Toumani style resurgence, there was also the thought that a good run with Wycombe would see him back at Griffin Park bigger and better than ever before. Instead, his play off final lasted what was initially declared as under a minute and then down graded from 6 to 2 seconds after Will Atkinson inflicted a calf injury on our man immediately after kick off.

A day that had started so brightly for Sam Saunders ended in heartache

Sam’s twitter feed shows a day that  had started so brightly ended in heartache

Never have I seen such an outpouring of sympathy on social media for one player – and as much from Brentford fans and top brass. Sam’s likeability has been proven, yet again, and who knows if this could be the catalyst that sees him break back into our own setup next season. Here’s hoping.

As for Sam Wood, he has the mantle of seeing his decisive spot kick saved in the shootout by Southend ‘keeper Daniel Bentley. Like Sam Saunders, I was gutted to see him leave Brentford back in 2012 after four seasons but, to be fair, he has continued his great form. One of the nicest guys in football, he came back (with Marcus) for last season’s ‘legends’ game and proved to be as popular as ever.

Sam Wood, Marcus Bean and Glenn Poole at the previous 'Legends' game

Sam Wood, Marcus Bean and Glenn Poole at the previous ‘Legends’ game

So heart was in mouth as he stepped up with the scores locked at 7-6 and, despite hitting a powerful shot, saw Bentley dive to his left to keep it out. Given the Brentford contingent amongst the Wycombe set up, it was inevitable there would be some form of Bees connection in the headlines but who could have predicted these two events?

Chin up, lads. It’s been a stunning effort to get that far. Hope to see you both at Griffin Park again soon.

As for today’s action, the League One play off final sees Preston (a team who, incredibly, have a worse play off record than us) and Swindon Town do battle for the final place in the Championship. I’ve got a soft spot for Preston, given their own place in our history – being the team we beat last season to secure our own promotion. That aside, I’m just hoping for a good game of football with no specific preference as to who joins us.

And I say ‘final place’ because the play off takes place at the ungodly hour of 17.30, after the Premiership has played out. By then we’ll know if it is Hull City or Newcastle United who will be coming to Griffin Park next season. And whilst probability suggests it will be the latter, the way Newcastle have ‘hit the skids’ in recent months, rule out nothing.

One thing’s for sure, if this season was exciting then next year is already shaping up to be even better.

Sam Saunders with numpty - on the day we sealed promotion against Preston

Sam Saunders with numpty – on the day we sealed promotion against Preston

Sexy football awaits as Warbs mystery deepens

14 Feb

It’s a real shame that the build up for today’s game at Charlton Athletic continues to be overshadowed by uncertainty around the managerial situation at Brentford. So anticipated was a statement from the club yesterday that Sky News sent a TV crew to Griffin Park but, alas, nothing was forthcoming for their report. Not even a WKD fuelled bunch of teenagers.

To read the rest of this article, season 2014/15 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full. Containing additional material and even some (poor) editing, you can get it here for less than the cost of a Griffin Park matchday programme or Balti Pie.

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, I need to make more space on the site for any follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further on.