Tag Archives: stadium

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

Palace and Arsenal write a chapter for our next season as Bees beat QPR. Again.

11 Apr

With Brentford safe in the Championship for another season and the playoffs a leap too far, thoughts turn to who we’ll be facing in 2017/18. Last night’s Crystal Palace – Arsenal game has given more than a few clues as to how that’s going to pan out. Elsewhere, there was sad news for QPR who have had to make a somewhat embarrassing retraction (stop sniggering) whilst local news site Get West London appear to have finally jumped the shark.

First up Crystal Palace. For a time it looked as they were being slowly sucked towards the Premier League relegation battle. A 0-4 thumping by Sunderland, swiftly followed by a reverse at the hands of Stoke City, had eyes lighting up in West London as the Eagles slid down, down (deeper and down). Could we have another local fixture, with the Bees going to the Palace next season? Would there be a kit obsessive programme feature including that most iconic of shirts, the red and blue sash sported by Brentford legend Neil Smillie?

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Then Big Sam and his troops got their act together, won four in a row and despite hitting a bump at Southampton, had the pleasure of playing Arsenal last night. And what a pleasure it was for the neutral. A 3-0 win for Palace makes their own safety a lot more likely and, with it, a straight shoot out between Hull City and Swansea City for the privilege of joining all but mathematically doomed Middlesbrough and Sunderland at Griffin Park next season.

It’s a shame from one respect. I was quite looking forward to the prospect of a hop across London to Selhurst Park next season. It would have been a new ground to see Brentford play at but instead we can do nothing but offer Palace congratulations on a job well done in recent weeks.

The other factor is the listening to those self-entitled numpties at Arsenal TV and Piers Morgan, somehow thinking that because they had that run back in 2003/04 when they were dubbed the undateables or whatever it was, they are entitled to be any good over a decade later. Yawn. Seriously yawn.

Anyone thinking Brentford fans moan or give our managers stick needs to look to North London. There, they take expectation to a new level with ‘Wenger’ receiving 128K worth of tweets on the UK trend list as at the time of writing (6.30am).

The biggest irony being the silence in the Emirates when they are playing. If they made half as much noise mid-game as they do once the team has lost then perhaps Arsenal might be an intimidating place to come rather than the glorified library it is so derided as being.  For the neutral, it remains wonderful, if slightly nauseous, unintentional comedy. No supporters in the land are as full of their club’s own self-importance relative to its actual ability (I know , I know – they won the FA Cup). Long may it continue.

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Twitter: Come for Monkman; stay for Wenger

On the subject of unintentional comedy, we only need to look a few miles up the road to West London rivals QPR. Already 6 points behind the Bees in the League table, now they’ve lost out to us in the player of the year awards stakes.

Whilst Brentford’s own event all but sold out within days, the not so super hoops have been forced into an awkward climbdown within a week of tickets being made available for their £119 a head do. In a brief article on the clubwebsite entitled ‘POTY EVENT CANCELLED the club has been forced to admit that, “a lack of sales has resulted in the event being cancelled”.

Here’s to Saturday week when we can really hope to compound a miserable season for our near neighbours. Fifty years on; never forget.

And finally, Get West London. Whilst it would often be easier just to follow the player feed on Twitter than read their stories, yesterday saw things reach a new low. The aforementioned journalistic jumping of the shark, if you will.

Brentford fan wears Bees shirt with BREXIT 16 on the back .

Thus proclaimed the headline on one of yesterday’s post Cardiff pieces. It went on to add – The shirt about the decision to leave the European Union sparked debate on social networking site Twitter.

Sorry, this is news how? This is a story because? Stop the press  – Football fan has political opinion. This is Donald Trump levels of news. Or lack of.  It was something that ‘sparked debate’, apparently. Or, in actual fact, led to a few references to it on Twitter.

What next. Man wears jaunty Castle Badge jumper to winter game? Transfer exclusive: Jugde to sign for Brentford?

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Coming next, on Get West London

Now I’m the first to admit writing drivel from time to time. Then again, I’m neither a journalist nor paid for the privilege. Just a self-confessed numpty on the terrace with an occasional blog column.

Come on Get West London, you can do better than this. Supporters deserve better than this. With five games and two local derbies to come, things aren’t at Arsenal levels of quiet. Just yet.

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We’ve got all this to come still

Nick Bruzon

Can Lasse grab another pizza the action at Cardiff ? Brighton do Bees a favour.

8 Apr

Brentford travel to Cardiff City today. Brighton retook the lead in the Championship from Newcastle after despatching the Loftus Road mob last night (and do us a potential favour at the same time). And FourFourTwo magazine have published their list of the match day experiences at all 92 league grounds, ranked in order from worst to best . Coventry City, look away now.

First up Brentford. And we’ll keep this brief – I’ve got a train to catch. The trip to Cardiff represents an excellent chance to continue our rise up the table following three straight victories. The latest, our 2-0 win over Leeds United on Tuesday night, being one of the most complete Brentford performances seen in recent times. It really was that good. Romaine Sawyers, Harlee Dean, Sergi Canos and Lasse were amongst those taking the headlines but, in truth, we were wonderful to a man.

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Jota watches the action unfold against Leeds on Tuesday

The flip side to all of this was injuries to Nico and Ryan, which makes both of them unlikely to start today. Alan McCormack and KK being the obvious replacements and, if supplemented by Jota along with the aforementioned Sergi and Romaine that will still make a formidable five.

Expect an unchanged defence from Tuesday (Clarke, Barbet, Dean and Rico) with Dan Bentley between the sticks and Lasse leading the line. That is, on the assumption he hasn’t got his fingers burned in a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock. I think it fair to say he’s more than earned that midweek pizza.

With Brighton condemning QPR to another notch in the ‘L’ column last night, Brentford remain 6 points above our West London rivals with today’s game to come. Victory could see us rise as high as ninth although, of course, it won’t be easy.

Dean Smith’s press conference on Thursday included the very telling observation that, “ “Neil Warnock teams are very difficult to beat. He has them well organised and they will be up for every game.”

There’s no doubting Mrs Doubtfire has the Bluebirds flying once more since their early season flirtation with the lower end of the table. It won’t be easy but the chance to draw further ahead of QPR and close in on both Fulham and last season’s 9th place finish is a huge lure. Can we do it? See you at the Cardiff City stadium this afternoon when we find out.

And for those of you travelling, it you’d like some reading material for the journey (no, not the book i although if you would like to read more about the last three seasons…….)   then could I suggest the online version of FourFourTwo magazine. Specifically, the aforementioned stadium guide they published this week.

Whilst, admittedly, being somewhat out of date it does hit the mark in most places. Certainly, I’d baulk at our performance relative to some of the soulless enormobowls we’ve had the pleasure of visiting this last few seasons. After all, this is a survey of match day experience rather than stadium quality.

Then again, if ever the Lionel Road team need some inspiration then here is a chance to see what the magazine deem the best and worst in English football.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Cliff crowns a great day which even ‘that trumpet’ can’t ruin.

25 Mar

With Friday’s column bemoaning the lack of Brentford related activity over the International break, it was another case of exquisite timing as the club confirmed later in the day that work has now begun at the Brentford Community Stadium site on Lionel Road South. Over in Dublin, John Egan was in the squad for the Republic of Ireland against Wales last night although a rogue musical instrument threatened to outdo even the much maligned (and rightly so) alleged band of the England supporters.

But first, Lionel Road. There’s not too much to add in regards to the Stadium announcement beyond a huge sigh of relief and gratitude at this latest news. It seems almost an eternity away since the club’s plans were approved by Hounslow council back in December 2013. The Bees were then in League One and Uwe Rosler was (technically) still our manager although his move to Wigan Athletic was coming somewhat quicker than ours to a new home. Indeed, looking back on the BBC report from the time it notes that, “The Bees hope to move to the 7.6 acre site on Lionel Road from Griffin Park for the 2016-17 season.

Of course, we have had further referrals and the CPO to go through since that point which have delayed proceeding somewhat. And whilst , at times, I can’t help but think of Lionel Road without the words “Monorail, monorail” going through the head, finally things are under way. There was another ebullient statement from Cliff Crown whilst, along with the article on Brentford official, a new website launched at brentfordcommunitystadium.com in which supporters will be kept abreast of developments.

The only slight downside about his news being the lack of obligatory photograph featuring Cliff, Mark Devlin et al leaning on shovels and wearing hard hats. But, given this current stage of the project involves clearing the site in preparation for the main build, perhaps this construction related favourite is still to come.

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It really IS happening.

The other Bees related topic from yesterday was, of course, John Egan’s selection for the Republic of Ireland. Whilst he had to be content with a place on the bench, this remains a huge honour and it can’t be long, surely, until he wins his first cap. With another home game scheduled for Tuesday, a friendly with the darlings of Euro 2016 Iceland, he may not have long to wait. Here’s hoping that fully deserved honour comes John’s way imminently.

One thing that armchair viewers won’t be hoping for is a return of ‘that trumpet’. Far be it from me to criticise another nation’s culture and perhaps this is well received part of their International game. Personally, my own belief is that, much like goal music, spectator performed musical instruments should not be allowed anywhere near a football stadium. Whatever the form.

The list of offendors is a well travelled one. Who could forget the sound of the Vuvuzelas from World Cup 2010? About the only positive to be gleaned from England’s ineptitude in that one being that an early exit spared domestic supporters being obliged to put up the droning cacophony.

Then there’s John Westwood. The self proclaimed Mr. Portsmouth. Him in the stove pipe hat, wooden teeth and dreadlocked fright wig whom the cameras seem contractually obliged to make a beeline for whenever Pompey are on TV. He looks like he needs a good wash down with some bleach and a wire wool brush (think  – Russell Brand and his spray on perm-wear leather effect trousers)  whilst the noise, with that incessant ringing of a hand bell or use of a trumpet, must mean that season tickets in the near vicinity come with a health and safety warning.

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Can’t give Westwood the full oxygen of publicity. Bell. End of.

But, of course, the prime offenders are the alleged England supporters alleged band. Regular readers know the drill at this point. If you want the usual rant about the stale, off key parping and flat renditions of jingoistic greatest hits from Bernie Clifton and his uninvited cuckoos in the nest then you’ll find it here (along with a lot more nonsense).

They’ve always been the low point. Until now. And the lone trumpet at Ireland’s Aviva stadium. Who was it? Why was it? How can a solitary instrument cut so clearly through what was, by all accounts, a fervent and vocal crowd.You’d have heard this thing above a jumbo jet taking off. It was so shrill that, by all scientific fact, only dogs should have been able to hear the bloody thing.

Yet here it was. Clear as day. As annoying as Westwood guesting in the England ensemble with a vuvuzela. If there’s one thing that’s good for unifying football fans it’s hatred. Not of each other but of wind instruments.

And this was the consummate in unwelcome hot air. Not even the sound of Jota’s refrain could lift this into the realms of acceptability.

Matthew Benham has already made it quite clear that goal music will never, ever happen in his time. Let’s hope the ban extends to trumpets when Lionel Road is complete.

Nick Bruzon

Dean gets his wish as Bees prepare for a first trip to Burton.

18 Mar

There’s just 9 games to go for Brentford before a third season in the Championship comes to an end and we’ve something new to look forward to today –  a first ever trip to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. With it, a chance to look for another league double with the Bees, of course, having beaten the Brewers 2-1 earlier in the season at Griffin Park.That was a game marked by a wonderful performance from Romaine Sawyers and a brace from the now Aston Villa based Scott Hogan where Brentford probably should have won by more, but were ultimately grateful to end up wth three points in the back pocket and 11 players on the pitch.

Referee David Coote, a man Brentford fans may recall from last season when he incorrectly ruled out Jota’s winning goal at Fulham (for apparent offside) was at it again – this time Hogan the man being denied a third as the man in the middle ruled in favour of a tumbling John Mousinho. Apparently ‘fouled’ as the pair raced clear toward the Burton goal.

Coote gave a display that showed all the authority and decision making ability of White Star Line when they declared the Titanic seaworthy. Even Brentford ‘official’ adopting a rare tone of cynicism, noting in their match report that his “Decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion”.

It was a game that concluded with a bizarre moment of handbags as it reached the denouement. Referee Coote  again proving almost incidental to the action as he allowed the incident to escalate to a situation where any of several players, from either side, could have seen ‘red’ . Bees captain Harlee Dean stepping up to a situation where he was eventually surrounded by several irate Albion players whilst their goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin went at Romaine Sawyers like a drunken Morris dancer.

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View from the Braemar – it was full blooded last time out

The good news for Brentford fans being that Coote is nowhere near the Pirelli stadium. He did his thing last night at Bristol City as the home team humped Huddersfield Town, our own conquerors last Saturday, by an incredible 4-0 scoreline. That in itself, a result that sees City rise above Albion in the relegation scrap.

The potential bad news being that Mr Madley is the man in the middle. Although calm down, it’s Andy not Robert (of the infamous performance as Brentford celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient. And if you’d like to read more on that…..) who will be officiating today.

And relax.

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On the pitch, Dean Smith has his wish. The no-show against Wolves (let’s just park that one now) saw him saying afterwards that, “After tonight I need a game as soon as possible because I need to put that game to bed. The players are the same: they need the game. They are better that that and they need to go and show that.”

Well Dean, you have your chance. I’ve every confidence he and the team will put things right and return to winning ways. Club sponsor’s 888sport have us at 5/3 to win this match. Whilst, of course, I’m not a betting man even I might be tempted at this price, purely for research purposes.

Can Brentford do it? Will Burton make it three on the spin for the Bees? Defeats, that is. Whether you are following on twitter, Beesplayer or at the game itself, at 3pm we find out.

Enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

With Derby next up, what can we learn from the Newcastle juggernaut?

16 Oct

Brentford travelled en-masse to Newcastle United full of expectation. We left on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat. It is a  scoreline that doesn’t even come close to showing the gap between our two sides. I’ve no problem with being well beaten but let’s not pretend that, on this occasion, we weren’t anything but second best to deserved winners. Dean Smith’s post match assertion that “We competed well enough”  something which, I’m sorry to say, I disagree with. With the next game, at Derby County, only on Tuesday let’s hope he reviews this one carefully.

Hey, I love our Bees. I love going away and this was a corker of a trip.  Close to 3,000 visiting fans helping to make it the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of since 1946. And there, perhaps, was part of the issue. Whilst Newcastle are used to this on a weekly basis, we aren’t.

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A huge crowd to watch the Bees and Magpies

I’ll big us up when we do well or ‘fess up when we get away with proverbial murder, but I won’t stick my head in the sand. It was like watching 11 rabbits caught in the headlights of on onrushing Geordie juggernaut for the first twenty minutes . And it rolled straight over us.

How much room for the first goal as Jonjo Shelvey directed it on to the head of an unpressured Ciaran Clarke just 11 minutes in ? Dwight Gayle was given all the space he needed for the second (16) as Shelvey’s long ball over top set up the striker for the first of his pair.

Two down and rocking on the backfoot,  Newcastle really should have administered a knockout blow on 20 minutes. Had Ayoze Perez opted for head rather than hand his goal would have stood and, surely, opened the floodgates for a potential 7(seven) goal bracketing.

Instead, despite Brentford having been carved open time and again like a prize turkey with little resistance offered in return, the Bees hung on to a 2-0 half time deficit. Yet with the gap manageable and the potential there to, erm, go again in the second period we crumbled just four minutes into the half. Gayle grabbing his second of the afternoon as Shelvey turned provider once more.

To their credit, Brentford weren’t overwhelmed and even had the last word….“. Those aren’t my words but those of Channel 5 commentator Nick Halling to describe the moment Scott Hogan swopped in to give us hope. The already vocal Bees erupted further; passion flared in the stands. With most of us cheering on our our boys (although a few choosing a somewhat insalubrious selection of exhortations and admonishments) a brief period of hope turned to a case of ‘if only’.

Had we got that goal at 2 down rather than just a few moments after falling 3 behind then things might have been different. 2-1 and 40 minutes to play make it anybody’s game. But, instead, it proved to be little more than consolation.

Mark Burridge talks through the action, as ever, c/o Brentford official

Newcastle United were worthy winners. Absolutely. You can only beat who you are up against and they did that. Yet, being equally honest, were they that good? At least, yesterday.

I’d agree with Dean that we gave them a helping hand and that defensively we’re normally very good. Equally though, we offered little and had we challenged more then who knows what we’d have got out of this one?

Instead our selected team were stretched in midfield and couldn’t get the ball forward. Substitutions, made once we were 3-1 down, seemed more around containing the damage than offering any hope of pulling something unlikely out of the bag. Surely that should have been more the team he started with than reverted to?

Newcastle United played us. We played them, the history, the reputation, the atmosphere, the stadium, the occasion and ourselves.

Genuinely, I think things would have been a lot closer had the game been at Griffin Park. But then that’s home advantage and boy did they make it count. Let’s not take anything away from Newcastle after a game they could have won by more.

Look. This shouldn’t be taken as doom and gloom. Let’s not forget we were up against a team who had recently won 6-0 at  QPR and put 4 past current leaders Norwich City.

This is all part of a learning experience for a team that is still developing. It’s just, perhaps, disappointing given how competitive we can be at times and how far we have already come. The more we play in venues such as this the more we’ll learn how to handle the pressure. The more we’ll learn to take the game to our opponents or, at the least, shut them down.

And if nothing else, we can leave with our heads held high. Given our own history with sh*t hashtags, (see, amongst others: #trophyfriends, #bignewambitions, #novemberkings ) it was nice to see one that was possibly even worse than all of these put together.

Newcastle United inviting their fans  to #JoinTheRafalution.

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Brentford have a chance to get straight back into action on Tuesday night at Derby County. Interestingly, Steve McClaren got off to a strong start as his Rams beat Leeds United 1-0. With his team climbing to within five points of our own 8th placed Bees, don’t expect this one to be any easier.

For either side.

Nick Bruzon

Call off the annihilation. Aston Villa to pack it in and fold after failing to beat pub team

15 Sep

Well that’s not a bad few days work. Brentford pulled it back to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa in a game which, arguably, the Bees can end up feeling disappointed not to have won. Certainly, based on a final ten minutes of frenetic pressure that built to a dazzling crescendo and almost an additional two points. Coming hot on the heels of Saturday’s win at Brighton, Dean Smith can probably allow himself an extra portion of coco pops this morning as reward for a job well done.

It was a point which was all the sweeter for having run the gauntlet of pre (and post) match abuse from a section of Villa home fans on social media. Da kidz giving it large from the safety of their keyboards is not uncommon these days but how delicious when it blows back at them.

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In truth, it wasn’t a classic in terms of end to end action.

Wonderful though the atmosphere and surroundings were (nobody could deny how impressive a stadium Villa Park is with the TV doing her scant justice), on the field of play we had two teams who cancelled each other out as chances were, what we will politely call, limited .

The flip side to this being that the annihilation predicted yesterday by the Birmingham Mail failed to materialise.

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Villa Park – prior to kick off. Annihilation imminent. Possibly

Villa played a largely turgid brand of football, especially in the second half, that Brentford weren’t quite able to rise above. In midfield Nico seemed a touch quieter than normal, Romaine Sawyers would perhaps benefit from a break on Saturday whilst I was surprised to see the positive Josh Clarke replaced. The supply to Scott Hogan was limited yet we were never outclassed in a game that, for the neutrals (should there have been any), struggled to really get going.

Alternatively you could argue that Villa, as the home side and hot favourites, were unable to break down the Bees. That they were locked out. Yet those are the standards we now set ourselves and the point that expectation levels have risen to as we start a third season in the Championship. Other teams underestimate Brentford at their peril whereas we know the peaks we can reach.

That’s not to say Brentford didn’t compete. Far from it. We bossed the game for large periods but having fallen behind to a rare moment of genius from the home side it looked as thought things would stay 1-0. Jonathan Kodjia’s exquisitely struck shot after 20 minutes, curling into the far corner through a crowded box, would have beaten just about any goalkeeper on the planet and was a rare moment of quality in a stop-start first half.

Yet despite chances remaining few and far between the Bees kept going and, as the visiting support began to crank up the noise (a lengthy rendition of Oldham’s song standing out in particular), you got the feeling that all was not lost. Sure enough, in that wonderful period known as Jota time, John Egan was able to drive the ball over the line following great work in the build up from Sullay Kaikai.

The Bees fans erupted. The Villa faithful fled. Melting away like ice in the sun as the proverbial fire drill took hold. But wait; there’s more. Almost. Oh, had it come ten minutes earlier. With Villa reeling, the Bees pressed desperately for a knock out blow.

It would have been a thrilling denouement but, alas, wasn’t to be. The game finished one apiece but Brentford can be proud to have come away from such illustrious surroundings with at least a point.

Even the pre and post match diversions around Birmingham couldn’t dampen spirits. The high of managing to swerve the M6 gridlock on the way in was somewhat tempered by the coach driver’s realisation (as we almost ran aground on a countryside canal bridge) that ‘his boss’ had programmed the post code for the Aston Villa training ground rather than Villa Park into the sat nav. I’m genuinely not sure if his subsequent question of, “Does anybody actually know where we are going?” was meant tongue-in-cheek or seriously.

What else can you say? It wasn’t a classic but Brentford more than held their own. Who amongst us, being honest, wouldn’t have taken four points form a possible six prior to away games with Brighton and Aston Villa?

Not bad for a shower of sh*t pub side.

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Bees fans celebrate the equaliser in palatial surroundings

Nick Bruzon

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

10 Sep

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

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Today’s the day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jon Toral v Brighton

Brentford make their third Championship visit to the Amex

Nick Bruzon

Climbing to new heights. Newcastle tickets on sale as Gibraltar start World Cup life

7 Sep

Championship football is getting closer once more. Brentford fans can take solace in the fact that Newcastle United tickets go on sale today (Wednesday) whereas this time next week we’ll have played in Brighton and be about to set off for Aston Villa. And in the World Cup qualifiers, to run off yesterday’s piece, we have the info from the Gibraltar – Greece tie. And it wasn’t what you might have expected.

We’ll keep it brief today, though. Newcastle tickets go on sale at 10. Brentford ‘official’ have full details although the pertinent points seem to be that we have plenty. An initial allocation of 2,330 with the option on a further block of 870 to push us over the 3,000 mark. If needed. Season Ticket holders seem to be amply catered and so, all  being well, that dance train ticket purchase  / gamble wit the TV schedules will reap its reward.

The other point of note being that tickets are in Level 7 (seven). For once, the clarifying brackets needed. Rather than pitch side, level 1, we’re up high. Very high. Anybody who has been to St. James Park before will know to bring oxygen and crampons given the height of The Leazes stand in which we will be housed.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Breathing gear. Check. Ropes. Check

At least we are behind the goal rather than in the top corner and will be no further from the action than at the back of London’s Olympic stadium. Interestingly, and you may not realise, that a ground which West Ham United moved to over the summer. If only somebody had mentioned it. A poor job from the media in failing to keep us properly informed .

Anyway, the club site has all the info and you can read it here. Phone lines and ticket booking open at 10am but there really do seem to be plenty to go around.

As for Gibraltar, it was a good game. Sure, Greece may have ended up as 1-4 winners but it was only a mini collapse before half time, which resulted in a three goal gap, that was the difference between the two sides.

In terms of performance, the boys from the Rock had definitely upped their game and gave as good as the got. This was by no means the one sided walkover most observers would have expected whilst Liam Walker’s equaliser was a fine effort.

But, as ever, goals not guts win games. I can’t wait for Gibraltar to continue taking these progressive steps and secure a first point. Or better. Rather than seeing themselves plucky losers for whom national pride is the thing, why not see themselves for what they are – a tight knit bunch of great players with the ability to cause an upset or two along the way. And then beyond.

The mini meltdown that saw the score go from 1-1 on 44 minutes to 1-4 at half time was inexplicable. Prior to then, things had been level. Even after that, the team still had their chances to reduce the deficit.

Instead, it is another ‘nil points‘ although, hopefully, a bit of a warning shot across the bows of their rivals. Gibraltar won’t just roll over and die. 45th minute aside.

As a final thought, stadium requirements dictate that home games need to be played in Portugal. Simple logistics mean this is often in front of a sparse crowd. Whilst, geographically speaking, Spain is next door for obvious reasons that can’t be used.

Why not take the team on the road? London is just a short flight away and the amount of ex-pats  / keen observers in England alone would be sure to stick a few more on the gate. International football at Brentford? Whether Griffin Park or Lionel Road?

I’ve heard crazier ideas…

Nick Bruzon

After Sunday roast, time for kebabs. Just no umbrellas

4 Sep

The middle Sunday of international weekend. There’s no Brentford result to digest (it’s another 6 days until the trip to Brighton and a week since Sheffield Wednesday salvaged an injury time draw in a game they could have actually won much earlier) whilst the national team are yet to kick things off in anger. Yes, ‘Big’ Sam Allardyce begins his tenure as England manger tonight with the trip to Slovakia after leaving Sunderland in the summer to replace Roy Hodgson.

Big Sam

Can Sam bring a smile to England supporters?

Cue hand wringing about EURO 2016. Talk of a new era. Questions over Joe Hart or the selection of Wayne Rooney as captain. Sly digs about this ’rough diamond’ being a different choice to the normal selections from those suits at FA HQ. And, of course, being forced to listen to ‘that band’.

There’s bound to be mention of Sam’s win ratio at supposedly less illustrious teams  (37.57% West Ham and 29.03 at Sunderland). Although what that proves, I have no idea. Even Roy Hodgson managed 41.94% at Liverpool, for what its worth. And, of course, with that West Ham link there’s bound to be some crowbarred reference to some sort of new stadium. It wouldn’t be a televised football game in 2016/17 without one.

Yes, my ITV cliche bingo card is fully charged and ready to begin crossing off those squares although, being honest, I’m not fully engaged at the moment. The Euros were painful. Dreadfully so. It is still far too recent a bad memory.

To see England earnestly attempt to go again feels like being faced with a groaning table of all-you-can-eat kebabs having just consumed an oversized Sunday Roast. Whilst normally this would be a delicious prospect, given what came before I’m not going to enjoy it. That said, what harm would it do to take a tentative nibble and see what develops from there?

Besides, regardless of who is at the helm, a 6 team qualifying group containing the likes of Lithuania , Scotland and Malta should be about as tough a nut to crack as using a sledgehammer on some stale dry roasted. Forget Big Sam. Big Ron from Eastenders or Big Daddy could get them through the group. And they are both sadly departed.

Big Daddy

Even Big Daddy could get England through this group

For me, the genuine excitement is over in Group H where Gibraltar have Cyprus and Estonia amongst their opponents. Whilst, of course, you’d expect Belgium to run away with that one, could the boys from the Rock make a few waves? As ever, the bookmakers don’t think so and have them at anything from 2,000-1 to 5,000-1 to win the group.

But, whatever happens, surely this is still a more rewarding prospect than watching England cruise through the qualifiers to an inevitable first place. Just remember though, 10 wins out of 10 en-route to Euro 2016 didn’t prove a particularly auspicious omen as to long term tournament success.

I hope England do well. I hope Gibraltar can upset Greece on Tuesday night.I hope we don’t get overly carried away, however the qualifying groups turn out. As has been proven again, success at a tournament proving somewhat more difficult a prospect than getting there.

Indeed, aside from Euro 96 or West Ham’s triumph in the the 1966 World Up (both home tournaments) it is only really the wonderful efforts of Bobby Robson’s team back in 1990 where England have come even vaguely close to getting their hands on foreign soil. The Premier league may be ‘the best league in world football’ (is that line still being trotted out?) and have the most over inflated transfer market, but when it comes to keeping pace with International rivals then there is still a huge gap.

All the money and all the expectation in the world are no substitute for simply being ‘any good’ or knowing how to play as a team. Just look at what Wales achieved over the summer.

After the summer, the thought of winning a World Cup feels a million miles away. The prospect of investing the emotions in a qualifying campaign that has stopped the fledgling Championship season dead in its tracks so soon and so awkwardly is a tough one. And, being blunt, a frustrating one. Just as Brentford have got going and assembled our post-transfer window squad, the shutters have come down.

Yet come 5pm I have no doubt whatsoever the TV will be tuned to ITV to see just what life under Big Sam will look like. Say what you want about him, and many have, but I can guarantee you that if it’s raining there’ll be no umbrellas in sight.

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Whatever happens, it can’t get this bad

Nick Bruzon