Tag Archives: stickers

Get set for more penalties, more pressure, more shocks and more swaps…..

2 Jul

Another day, another two teams reached the World Cup quarter-finals. Sunday’s action saw Russia and Croatia get through on penalties at the expense of Spain and Denmark respectively. With it, the end of the Griffin Park World Cup dream as Henrik Dalsgaard of  Brentford ™ was left to taste that cruelest of footballing pain. And we have a winner in the Last Word shirt competition.

What can you say about the action yesterday? Well, perhaps action would be a tad generous for two games that finished 1-1 and didn’t have anywhere near the excitement of the previous day’s clashes. Then again, the absolute pivotal criteria is to secure qualification and I can’t imagine anyone in the Russia or Croatia camps losing any sleep over their team’s performance.

Who cares if they went to penalties? For the neutral, perhaps one of the most exciting ways to see a game decided. The ultimate battle of nerves and ability over pressure. Yet it would be fair to say that in both games the result could have been decided by a spot kick late into extra time.

The Russia – Spain encounter saw Sergio Ramos felled in the box late on. Without wanting to sound all Arsene Wenger, “I didn’t see the incident”. This for no more reason than I was jacked up to the eyeballs on Panini stickers. A hedonistic stash that was something akin to the Last Days of Pompeii – Ned Flanders style – was making its way around The Griffin in a coming together of about 8 separate sticker books.

Panini stickers The Griffin

In the end it all got too much. The stickers rather than the football. I couldn’t focus on the ‘needs’ list . Sorry, I mean Harry’s ‘needs’ list. A sea of numbers and garish kits flashing before my eyes. It was all a blur with mountains of Panini everywhere (the stickers rather than the toasted sandwiches – Gerhard isn’t diversifying that much) .

Imagine that scene at the end of Scarface – except with the drugs replaced by a stash of Lucas Biglia, Danny Wellbeck, Lasse Schöne et al. The plus point of all this is that we’re down to our last 27 ‘needs’. If anybody can help then here’s the list.

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27 to go. Can anyone help? 577 since acquired

But we digress. A lot. Having missed the Ramos incident it was time to steel myself for penalties. And what a set of spot kicks. How the Russians held their nerve. How Spain lost theirs. Big time. I’d not seen that much stuttering on the run ups since Norman Collier picked up a microphone. Yet with the Spanish doing their best to hit them straight down the corridor of saveability, the host nation triumphed. And boy, how they celebrated.

Probably not as much as the VAR team whose relatives were subsequently released from whichever holding cell that Mr. Putin had them in. Cancel the trip to the salt mine. Hey, as noted I didn’t even see it live but having caught up since, I’m not upset anyway. If Vladimir is reading (let’s not even go there) yours truly has backed the hosts at 40/1 to win the thing. Purely for research purposes and a wager that can happily slide down the pan if it ultimately means an England triumph.

With Russia through it was the turn of Denmark and Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford ™ . They couldn’t have got off to a better start, scoring with less than a minute on the clock. They couldn’t have had a worse reaction – conceding just three minutes later. Yet that’s how things stayed. Pushing on through to full time and then beyond, another penalty shoot-out was as much a certainty as Brentford losing a play-off final. But then drama. With just three minutes left, Luka Modric was given the chance – quite rightly in this instance – to score from the penalty spot. Instead, Kasper Schmeichel dived to his left and smothered the ball, leaving the match alive and another shoot out beckoning.

It really was a wonderful moment in an otherwise dungheap of a game. Football as cagey as you could ever expect to see between two evenly matched  teams that nullified each other in the attempt to haul themselves over the line. Yet with the prize on offer, who could blame them for playing to go through?

This time it was Danijel Subasic, the Croatian goalkeeper, who was the hero. Schmeichel may have saved a further two penalties in the shootout but his counterpart stopped three to leave his team mates celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup. Somebody really should use that one.

All over TW8 there were tears for Henrik Dalsgaard. He played the full game, again, and can leave the tournament with his head held high. Both he and Brentford have only come out of this with our respective stocks rising further. Whatever else happens in Russia, Henrik can be sure of a hero’s welcome when he comes back to Griffin Park.  I can already hear Peter Gilham loosening his vocal cords.

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For now Henrik, the World Cup is over. Roll on Qatar…

As for today, Brazil – Mexico promises to be an absolute cracker, followed by Belgium – Japan. Whilst the bookies would have you believe that these are foregone conclusions for the ‘B’ teams, I wouldn’t bet on it. Get set for more penalties. Get set for more pressure. Get set for more shocks…..

And finally, congratulations to SteveFoxBee (aka @TheDoomBoy) on Twitter who won our Last Word e-book lucky shirt draw. You can see the moment further below.

For now though, the books both remain on line for download with any funds raised continuing to go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust:

Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself how it all began…

Thank you.

Nick Bruzon

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Will Brentford keep going? Can Aston Villa do us a favour? Saturday is HUGE!

27 Apr

Two games to go and this is still wide open. With the fixtures falling as kindly as one could have hoped for, Brentford travel to relegation threatened Barnsley on Saturday knowing that with two games to go we are three points off Derby County in sixth place. The same Derby County who head up to an Aston Villa side still looking at a slim chance of ‘automatic’ promotion to the Premier league. It is a chance that, much like our own play-off dream, will require three points on Saturday to keep it alive. Cardiff City may have dealt a blow to our own promotion ambitions on Tuesday night as they went down 3-1 to the Rams yet, at the same time, have given us a back door bonus by really handing Villa that incentive to try and catch them.

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I’ve always loved Aston Villa (eh, Simon ?)

Elsewhere, fifth placed Middlesbrough (four points ahead of Brentford) take on 7th placed Millwall (one ahead). That’s an evening game and by the time it comes around, our own game will of course have played out. Will it prove of supreme relevance or be a statistical anomaly by that juncture?

Realistically, three points for Brentford up at Oakwell are an absolute must. Any other result will leave us relying on a combination of mathematics and good fortune even more convoluted than the table already looks.  Barnsley have to go for it, too. Any permutation beyond home win will leave them all but down and needing both Bolton and Birmingham City to self-destruct. In itself, not an improbable combination based on the season’s results to date.

As ever, though, outside distractions really are that. Distractions. By virtue of the teams playing each other, something will go our way at some point. The worst combination of results being victories for Millwall and Derby. The best, home wins for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. Both, more than feasible. Then again, I fancied Cardiff City to do it on Tuesday. One up at half time and in control, you have to tip your hat to a Derby County team that, aided by some suicidal defending, produced a devastating second half performance to break their three game losing streak.

Trying to call anything this weekend is a fool’s errand. As much as anything else, pressure and necessity will cause some teams to collapse like a house of cards. Others will rise to the occasion. The prospect of glory an adrenaline boost to the arm that sees them (and all being well us) surge towards those all critical three points.

Brentford were magnificent against Fulham. To the very end of the game where Neal Maupay produced one of THE moments. Likewise, for huge patches of the game against QPR where, but for Mr. Madley, the victory would have been a much more comfortable one. Then again, perhaps he has also done us an unintentional favour. What a way for a team to have to test themselves in the toughest of circumstances. 11 v 14 is never easy. Moreso, when the 14 were flying in with horror challenges, studs up, yet facing no real danger of card based justice.  

We know we have the ability to win this one. To beat anybody on our day. Only 3pm on Saturday will dictate how well we can meet that challenge. How much resistance Barnsley can provide or whether they are dead men walking. Either way,  I can’t wait for this one !!

Elsewhere, did you read Mark Devlin’s programme column in the QPR edition of BEES? Talk about putting his views on the line in a wonderful article about Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and, more importantly, her decision in regards to the Safe Standing application made by West Bromwich Albion.

With ‘Safe Standing’ a clearly stated and supported desire of The Bees, he was pulling no punches with comments that included:  “I fear that politicians will once more put their prejudice and fears ahead of what is needed and wanted by the football community” and “I was even more shocked that she appeared to claim there was insufficient demand or interest from clubs, fans and leagues”  

Well said Mark. How refreshing to see any Chief Executive standing up to be counted in such clear and uncertain terms. That’s Brentford, though. Trailblazers again.

The good news being that a public petition has now topped the 100,000 votes required for parliament to consider it for debate. Albeit, this still remains open and there is time to add your voice to the list on a matter that will potentially have a direct impact on Brentford, given the current construction of Lionel Road. The link to that one is here. Thirty seconds that could impact your club if you can make the time to sign.

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Lionel Road . I’ve not seen a hole this big since the Birmingham City defence turned up

Next up, football stickers. I’ve banged on a bit in the last few weeks about the World Cup 2018 album. Primarily, my son Harry’s rapidly developing interest in this most traditional of football related activities. For reasons unnkown the mere mention of the name’ Lucas Biglia’ (Argentina) has him in stitches whilst Spain and Iceland are his favourites. Not because of the countries but the kits – no idea where he gets that from.

So imagine my surprise just coming in from work on Wednesday to hear he had been presented with what Mrs Bruzon described as ‘a two inch wad of swaps’ (although, personally, I’d say it looked more like seven) by a mystery benefactor from the Bramear Road stand. 

I say ‘mystery’. I wasn’t with them at the time and so all we know is that she sits near us at Griffin Park and the one-sided exchange took place by St. Paul’s Park. If this was you – THANK YOU. I have a suspicion who it may be and will be donning the Columbo mac at the Hull City game.

Yet this is mentioned as much to say, yet again, how truly wonderful the Brentford FC family are. For a fellow fan to go out of their way to do this for a young supporter they’ve never spoken to before really made me feel proud. Thank you. Again.   

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The amazing pile of swaps

Finally, congratulations to my good friends (No, I’m not going all Ian Moose) at Beesotted. Their Pride of West London podcast has now made the final shortlist for the Football Blogging Awards. What an honour it would be for them to win this.

As noted before, we all know what a great job they do and just how entertaining Billy (Grant) and the team are. Likewise, how many painful train journies have been made ten times better by listening to them opine on all things Brentford. And beyond.

Please. Help give them the recognition they deserve in the Best Football Podcast category and vote Beesotted at the FBAS

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Nick Bruzon

Another answer to Matthew’s zombie question as FA enforce puzzling fine

24 Mar

Coffers running low at FA HQ? Are funds needed for the end of season shindig? How else do you explain their decision to fine Brentford and QPR £10,000 and £7,500 respectively for failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion.This, after what was described in a less than extensive report as  “an incident in the 48th minute of their game on 12 March 2016.

If Brentford were going to be fined, it should surely have been for failing to ensure their team had a chance of being competitive after Dean Smith opted for his unusual 4-5-1-0 (I’ll also accept 4-6-0) formation. To have a starting XI bereft of a striker in any game, let alone one of this magnitude, should have been deemed a sanctionable offence. Whilst we’ve done that one to death now, the FA have stirred up all those emotions once more with this puzzling fine and low key statement.

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Questionable decision making by the FA

I read the story on the official Brentford website first of all and my initial reaction was one of a cover up, so limited was it in detail. But no, we don’t have a streak of paranoia running through the club as a subsequent review of the initial announcement on the FA ’site revealed a similar dearth of information.

Indeed, it was only West London’s Premier Journalist Tom Moore who was able to shed light on the incident. His GWL story  reminding us that the trigger was the ‘mass confrontation… following Karl Henry’s heavy tackle on Ryan Woods’.

Wow. Seriously? I’m all for protecting the referee but was this really worth official sanction and a fine of this nature? It wasn’t even ‘handbags at twenty paces’  compared to some of the ungainly scenes we are witness to week in, week out on the televised games.

If so, then surely the FA coffers would be swollen to bursting if a £17.5k sanction was imposed every time players reacted to a challenge of that severity in this style. Moreso, given the lack of protection previously afforded to the players in this instance by referee Fred Graham. Brentford are hardly a team to trouble the authorities on any form of regular basis and, whilst that shouldn’t make you immune for any punishment genuinely due, the incident certainly seems one to have been treated as somewhat of an over reaction.

I can understand the club doing nothing but sticking to the official line on this one. Like arguing with a traffic warden, any resistance would be futile and likely just lead to further punitive measures or unwanted contact.

Instead, one we’ll have to take on the chin and put behind us.

Zombies. I blame Matthew Benham. But in a good way.  His recent interview with Beesotted included the line, “No matter how many times we tell people that we also scout players traditionally, that we spend a lot of time watching players, it will come back that we just use maths. It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?””

It was a question we’d pondered on these pages previously but how about picking a team of them? And please, no smart alecs saying we’d already done that in the Blackburn game.

One of my favourite Twitter sites,@OldschoolPanini, last night shared the work of French artist Schizoïd Brain who has recreated the French World Cup ’86 team in zombie based form. You can find them alongside their Panini equivalents at the ‘Old School’ website but, until then, here’s a brief…taster.

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France ’86. Now in ‘Walking Dead’ form

Finally, many thanks all for the reaction to yesterday’s article on ‘cyber tw@ttery’ and keyboard warriors / bullies (delete as applicable). I wasn’t going to comment further on our unknown assailant whom, for want of anything better to call him, we’ll simply refer to ongoing as Trevor the troll. Purely for alliterative purposes. I’m not going to credit him any further with his own ‘hilarious’ nom de plume although if there are any non-trolling Trevors reading, apologies !.

It was interesting to see the amount of direct contact in response to this, from all manner of unlikely sources amongst our great Brentford family. Likewise, reading the latest column of fellow blogger Greville Waterman last night.

It seems he has also had a few visitors and has reacted in a similar fashion to myself.

I have to agree with his sentiments. It’s a really sad state of affairs that alleged supporters can treat fellow fans like this. Well done Greville for fighting back.

Fingers crossed we can all put this nonsense behind us, draw a line under it and get back to focussing on a third successive season in the Championship.

Nottingham Forest (a) can’t come soon enough.

Nick Bruzon  

As summer looms there is a plan B…and a plan C

6 Jun

Things are tough being a Brentford fan at this time of the year. With the League campaign not due to kick off until the weekend of 8/9 August, the next two months loom ahead as a long and painful wait. What has already seemed an interminable amount of time since Bournemouth were crowned champions and Norwich City beat Middlesbrough in the play offs promises to be all the worse as summer drags.

Actually, let me quantify that opening line slightly. This isn’t a scenario totally unique to Brentford. We weren’t alone in coming ‘so close’ and there are as many other teams who must be chomping at the bit to get started once more (Middlesbrough, I’m sure, having a point to prove) .

Likewise, for those who did make it. Without a doubt there will be more than one Bournemouth fan with their eyes on the local newsagent for when those first packets of Panini stickers are released.

The possibility of seeing the Sam Saunders tan immortalised in sticker form for all time is just too great an opportunity missed and so I’m desperate for us to restart and, all being well, go one(or two) better.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

 

 

Can anybody swap me a Will Grigg ?

24 Oct

In all the excitement of Brentford’s 125th anniversary this week, a story has completely passed me by as it seems we are not alone in celebrating our formation. Whereas we chose to mark the occasion by honouring it with, amongst other things, the game against Sheffield Wednesday, League One MK Dons have adopted a different approach to note their proud ten years of existence.

The League One team’s website reports that they have launched their own ‘sticker album’ as a means of celebrating a decade since their inception. Produced by Esportada (certainly don’t sound like a Panini), fans can collect 120 stickers that include the current squad, ‘action’ shots from classic matches and some club ‘record’ holders.

There’s more excitement, though. The first five people to complete their sticker book receive a free subscription to MK Dons player.

This is all true. Should you wish, then you can see the full story here. Personally, as a grown man had I elected to switch allegiances to this recently manufactured team, I can’t for one second believe I’d be participating in this primary school ritual.

Still, if it works for them then all I can do is raise a celebratory glass to Karl Robinson and his team.

Now, can anybody swap a Will Grigg?

Artists impression of the Will Grigg sticker - only on loan; not swapped

Artists impression of the Will Grigg sticker – only on loan; not swapped

Swapping the mic for the bike. To Ajax via Leyton Orient.

29 May

Beesplayer commentator Mark Burridge has a huge challenge coming up next weekend – he’s off to Leyton Orient. That’s not a shock piece of commentating transfer news but merely that the Matchroom Stadium is the starting point for the charity cycle ride from London to Amsterdam in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, in which he and Karen Manders will be representing Brentford FC.

The 200km event, culminating at the Amsterdam Arena (the home of Ajax FC), takes place 5/6 June and you may recall it was one that Mark took part in last year. Aswell as being for a vitally important cause, the Brentford FC cycle team were the leading fundraisers – something they’d love to get as close to as possible again.

As it stands, they are heading for the top ten, having already raised over £3k of their £4k target. Just to put that into context, and fairplay to them, Stevenage are currently in second place with a staggering £8k.

Can Brentford match this? Well, every penny counts and, regardless of where we finish in the pecking order, it is the end cause which is the most important thing.

Speaking to Mark yesterday, he told me : “Karen & I would like to thank all Bees fans for their generosity, considering we just have the 2 of us in the team. The fundraising has been amazing and we know there are promises of more to come. You’ve all done BFC and the Prostate Cancer UK Charity proud – we hope to do the same next weekend“.

Mark – you are a better man than me, that’s for sure. These days, I struggle to cycle to the newsagents for that next pack of Panini World Cup stickers.  I can’t imagine how hard this will be but I wish you all the very best.

So think of Mark next weekend when you are stocking your fridge for the World Cup, hanging that Wallchart or breaking the news to the ‘other half’ that you’ll be hogging the TV remote from June 12th.

More importantly, if you’d like to read more about his efforts or donate, then you can do so here.

GREAT work and the very best of luck to both Mark and Karen.

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He’s done it before, but can he do it again? Of course he can!

Farewell Farid. Hello Alan. Plus something very special from the sticker book.

9 Jan

vincent jim marcel countI wrote yesterday about the brief moment I thought Brentford had signed X-factor judge Louis Walsh. Of course, we hadn’t, but just hours later we then went and secured a real ‘Judge’  – midfielder Alan – on loan from Blackburn Rovers.

Nominated as the 2012/13 League One player of the season, his record speaks for itself and is anything but criminal. That said, given yesterday’s similar story about Sam Saunders being put forward for December’s monthly award (and rightly so), I imagine that at first the Blackburn man will have to be content on the bench.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

England fans; poles apart. Rod Hull 1 Bernie Clifton 0

15 Oct

England, oh England. I’d like nothing more than for the national side to qualify for World Cup 2014 tonight. As a Brentford fan it’s my only chance (for now, I’ll discount Gibraltar’s chances of being able to qualify for anything) of being able to support a team in competition outside the domestic campaign.  But watching England comes with a hefty price tag.  For every giddy high of a Wembley win, comes the sickening low of the troublesome trombones and flat trumpets that make up the, so called,  ‘supporter’s band’.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.