Tag Archives: Stan Bowles

With Brentford in a Field of Dreams (sorry) here’s one turkey from Christmas past before Cardiff on Boxing Day.

24 Dec

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all that. Brentford are preparing to host Cardiff City (for whom Sol Bamba – a terrace songsmith’s dream if there was one – will be missing) whilst Rangers fans will be crying into their sprouts at the prospect of no Jota under the tree. As for Matthew Benham, will he be the beneficiary of a £15million gift from West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa or even Reading in the New Year sales? This, of course, being the current suggested rate for a Scott Hogan.

Reading have probably got more chance of picking up Hulk Hogan than Scott. Why would he need to even consider going there? Besides, with the Royals already baulking at the prospect of having to pay £9million (as has been reported in the Birmingham Mail), adding another 6 to that is going to be well beyond their particular ball park.

reading-hogan

There’s more chance of Hulk than Scott

That is if we even sell in the forthcoming window. Eventually, of course, it will happen. Nobody is that naive whilst the simple mathematics of ‘one club players’ so rarely being a thing these days make it inevitable at some point. Yet in the short term, the tantalising prospect of seeing him and a returning Jota on the same pitch is one I’m still holding out hope for in the second half of this season.

Still, all that is to come. We have the festive games against Cardiff and Norwich City to before that. Scott will surely be the first name on the team sheet (unless he has a sick relative), closely followed by Tom Field. The left back “delighted” at having just signed a contract extension that will see him at Griffin Park until 2020.

For all that Scott is doing it at one end, few could deny the wonderful start that Tom has had to his own Brentford career. From a home debut agasint Fulham where his call up was so unexpected that even supporters were asking ‘Who?‘ when they saw his name on the team sheet, to a recent run in the side as Dean has switched to a three centre back system supported by Tom and Maxime Colin. It is no coincidence that we are yet to concede a goal in the League whilst Tom has been on the pitch.

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Tom in a field of dreams. A pun so bad we made it twice

Prior to all of that we have Christmas day ahead of us. Preparations here are remarkably under control with all shopping done (for once). Already I’m dreading that Columbo moment around 3pm when Mrs Bruzon asks for “ Just one more thing…..” from a by then heaving, and empty shelved, supermarket. So until that happens, here’s one we’ve run before but probably deserves another airing.

It is a story that, if being honest, I had completely forgotten about until an article in The Times a few years ago from none other than Mark Clemmit.

Mark, of course, is better known as Clem, the ever popular roving reporter for BT Sport and formerly of the BBC Football League Show. There, his own performance was the subject of a season long analysis in 2014/15 as to whether there is any support for many supporters’ long held belief that he ‘jinxes’ whichever team he follows. Specifically, that the team covered by the man with the mic that week would, at best, pick up a point. Indeed, by season end Clem teams had only tasted victory 7(seven) times out of 30

But we digress. The jinx factor aside, it is fair to say that Clem remains an endearing and well-respected pundit. Aswell as his TV work he has also been a prolific writer over the years and it was for the aforementioned paper that he chose to talk about Brentford a few years back. Or, specifically, what we tried at Christmas 1983

To me, 1983 doesn’t seem that long ago. Knight Rider, Blackadder and the A-Team graced our TV screens whilst big hits at the cinema included Return of the Jedi and Octopussy. On the football pitch, Stan Bowles was strutting his stuff for The Bees whilst Bob Booker was halfway through his first spell at Griffin Park.

That said, given as Bob made his final appearance for us in 1993 that doesn’t really narrow it down, such was the three-decade spanning length of his Brentford career. Even Roger Moore only lasted as Bond for 12 years although for all that I love his time in the role, even I have to step back in slight disbelief at the image, from the official movie poster, of 007 casually standing on the tail of a speeding aeroplane as he tosses a bad guy to his doom.

Octopussy

Roger’s wing walking (top left) a highlight of 1983

But the point being that, to me at least, 1983 still seems very vivid in the mind’s eye. As such, I was intrigued by the gem that Clem had unearthed, pertaining to Brentford’s Christmas fixture list. The ever-progressive club had, at one point, looked to revive an old festive tradition and arrange our game with Wimbledon for 11am on December 25th.

It seems madness now but not as crazy as the reasoning, given out by the Press Officer at the time. It was an attempt to get back to, and I quote, “The old idea of men going to football whilst ladies stayed at home to cook the turkey”.

Seriously? Was this just Clem having a joke at the expense of Brentford fans? Seemingly not. A quick trawl of the interweb reveals this gem elsewhere whilst, more importantly, it is directly referenced in the excellent “100 years of Brentford” book.

After protests from both sets of fans the game was rearranged for Christmas Eve and we promptly lost 3-4 in front of 6,689 fans.

Their numbers, presumably, bolstered by women who had been unchained from their cookers.

Here’s hoping for a better result on Monday against Cardiff City. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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When push comes to shove – The Last Word on….

26 Aug

Brentford host Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and so, as part of the big match build up, we’ll move on from talk of Alan Judge to Newcastle United and look at our next opponents. It’s time for our new regular feature, The Last Word on…and today Wednesday 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).

The Brentford connection (he’s played for both). Without the benefit of any super computer, I’m having to rely on my somewhat scattergun knowledge for this category. That, certainly, something which accounts for Stan Bowles missing out last time in the Nottingham Forest article. Sorry, Stan. And whilst I’m sure that similar gaps will appear this time around, a few names do spring immediately to mind.

There’s Deon Burton, whose time at the Bees included that epic season under Martin Allen in 2004/05 where his goals in a 2-1 win and 3-3 draw with Wednesday helped us towards an eventual play-off semi final place…..

How about his teammate Michael Turner? One of the classiest centre backs to ever grace Griffin Park and somebody who was last seen at the Owls during the previous campaign whilst on loan from Norwich City.

But the choice of standout name boils down to one of two Andys. Sinton was THE man at Griffin Park back in the late 80s. Back to back supporters player of the year in 86/87 and 87/88 he was an almost constant feature in his three seasons. Attacking play and goals were the order of the day as his form played a key role in our epic 88/89 FA Cup run the that would eventually end at Liverpool in the quarter finals. A transfer to QPR would follow where international recognition (12 England caps) and his move to Sheffield Wednesday came next. One of the all time Brentford legends.

But, for me, when you mention Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday there is one name that always strings to mind  – Andy McCulloch. 48 goals in 127 league games for the Bees from 76- 79 were match by an almost identical record at Hillsborough where he notched 44 in 125 following his transfer.

And it is that transfer which, in Andy’s own words, is one of the more unusual in the annals of football history footballing

It was a classic. I scored a header at Griffin Park and had my nose broken. I was on a stretcher, going into the dressing room and Ian St. John, who was at Sheffield Wednesday, pointed to me as I’m going in the door and said , “would you fancy coming to Sheffield Wednesday?” At Brentford –after I had just scored a goal. He tapped me up!

The deal was completed on the camera gantry  at Wembley stadium with their manager Jack Charlton. Andy explaining , “It was before a Scotland-England game, I think . I’d gone up there just to meet Jackie. It was the only way of meeting him in London.”

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

The Brentford encounter (noteworthy game with the Bees). Our return to the Championship hasn’t seen great results. Last season, in particular, seeing us lucky to escape from Hillsborough having only gone down 4-0 after Yoann Barbet was shown the red card just five minutes into the game.

Instead, we’ll look at the aforementioned 2005/05campaign under Martin Allen. Again, the result was an equally painful one but, for a time, the prospect of playing Wednesday was nothing but the ultimate in excitement.

Having already seen a wonderful FA Cup campaign that finally saw us go out in a fifth round replay to Premier League Southampton, knockout football held no worries. And so we approached our play-off semi final with Wednesday in high spirits. A 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough soon took the wind out of those sails with the home team taking the lead on 12 minutes and never giving us a look in.

The return match at Griffin Park saw the Bees go down 2-1. Even then, Andy Frampton’s goal was nothing more than a very late consolation. Hardly a highlight in our history but one noted to remind us of the pain suffered in this end of season lottery. Moreso, given the hope that one day we will get it right. One day….

Favourite son  (their most famous former player ). The 80s and early 90s were, in particular, a time where the name Sheffield Wednesday evoked nothing but the best imagery. Mr Tom was on their shirt whilst the likes of Lee Chapman and the free scoring David Hirst were on the pitch. To that mix you can add Des Walker (who, of course, featured in this category last time out for Nottingham Forest and Chris Waddle although the latter was sadly bereft of ‘that’ mullet by this point.

From the more recent era, two names spring to mind for the neutral.  Benito Carbone channeled the spirit of Chris Waddle with exciting play, long, long hair and even his iconic ‘Alice band’. Yet it was another Italian who scoops the honours this time around.  Paolo Di Canio.

The club’s top scorer in 1997-98 and a firm fan favourite (apologies for the sub-Chronicle alliteration) he won their player of the year award that season. However, it was the following campaign that secured his cult status when he received an 11 match ban for pushing referee Paul Alcock over during a match against Arsenal.

Nobody could deny it was a flash of unjustifiable temper from the temperamental genius. Yet, at the same time, Alcock’s comedy pratfall certainly added to the seriousness with which the incident would be viewed

And the oscar for best fallover following a shove goes to…

Famous fan. Fast becoming a personal favourite category in this feature, Sheffield Wednesday don’t let us down when it comes to their celebrity supporters.

The biggest names here would seem to be the Arctic Monkeys – all of them, apparently. A fact further emphasised by the fact you normally see them described as ‘Sheffield band….’

Cricket’s Michael Vaughan and former England captain is also an Owl as is, of  all people, singer Jermaine Jackson. The one time Jackson 5 star supposedly began following the club in the late 80s and even wrote a song for last campaign’s play-off defeat to Hull City AFC.

Yet it wouldn’t be The Last Word without mentioning ‘That band’ . If not celebrities, they are certainly recognised faces.

Their moribund parping and off-key trumpeting, so long the bane of England international fixtures, also features at Hillsborough. Flaccid renditions of ’Love will tear us apart’ or their jingoistic movie medley “The Great Escape/Italian job’ being the last thing anybody outside of this self-appointed ‘supporters band’ wants to hear.

Sheffield wednesday band with trevor francis

That band. With Trevor Francis (inset)

Best Ever League Performance. In terms of pure scoreline, a simple one this week. Any excuse to crank out the brackets and a 9-1 victory over Birmingham City at Hillsborough back in December 1930 saw the Owls easily cruise past the 7(seven) goal mark

Moment of ignominy – ( what it says – opposite to above). I could pick ‘that band’ but we’re bigger than that.

Likewise, in terms of pure results then going back over a century to October 1912 saw Wednesday go down 10-1 at Aston Villa. In recent years, Villa have struggled to score 10 goals in an entire season let alone in one game

But the turn of this century saw them go on an eight game First Division (second tier) losing streak that lasted over a month: 9 September until 17 October saw their form guide read: LLLLLLLL. Beginning with a 0-5 home humping at the hands of Wimbledon, a Steve Harkness goal finally brought this dismal run to an end with a 1-0 win over Birmingham. Incredibly, they stayed up.

Manager of the century ( most famous /popular manager). Howard Wilkinson ? Big Ron? Erm. Move along, nothing to see here. Whilst the purist will likely go for Wilkinson, for me  you can’t knock the achievements of Trevor Francis.

Taking over as player-manager with the team back in the top flight, he lead them to third place in the league in 1992 and, with it, a hard-earned UEFA cup place. There was no entry to the league of fake Champions for coming third or fourth then.

His Wednesday team then took part in the first ever Premier League where they came 7th (seventh). However, the season was as notable for a double Wembley appearance where they reached the finals of bot the League and FA cup.

All time high ( the club’s defining achievement). First division champions in the ‘20s. The wonder years under Francis. Wednesday even won the League cup through the wisdom and guidance of Big Ron. Yet, for me all this pails into insignificance compared to the greatest thing not to come out of Sheffield.

That band doesn’t travel.

Nick Bruzon

A surprise source unearths a real Christmas turkey

30 Dec

As Brentford spent Christmas going down to both Ipswich Town and Wolves, it seems that away from the field various sources were busy either writing about, or preparing articles on, the club’s home fixture from the 1983 festive period.

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 along.

Roger's wing walking is in the top left corner

Roger’s wing walking is in the top left corner