Tag Archives: Stuart Attwell

What does Brentford ban tell us about FA? And ourselves?

22 Oct

Brentford v Barnsley. It should be a huge game for so many reasons. It will be a huge game for so many reasons. Yet, at the same time, one can’t help but feel it has been somewhat overshadowed by Friday’s news about Alan McCormack. Specifically, for anybody who has been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, that the midfielder has been awarded a five match ban (amongst other punishments) after being found guilty of using abusive language towards an official against Cardiff City back in April.

In typical vague fashion, the FA Statement simply says that he, “Used abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official in the 52nd minute of the game against Cardiff City on 19 April 2016, contrary to FA Rule E3(1). ”That it was what they deem , “An “aggravated breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2), as it included a reference to gender.

The response from Brentford was an equally factual one, acknowledging the punishment whilst adding, “We are awaiting the written reasons for the verdict and neither the player nor the Club will make any further comment on this matter until they have been received.

What he has been found guilty of saying remains, officially, a secret. There are enough theories out there in cyberspace without wishing to warrant further conjecture on that subject.

All we know for sure, is that the ban takes immediate effect, starting with today’s game against Barnsley and including the local derbies against Fulham and QPR amongst those in the period.

So…. OTT? Fair? Is Alan a foulmouthed pig or was it something said off the cuff under the pressures of a live game environment and totally out of character?

The answers to the first two remain a matter of individual opinion whilst only the player himself could answer that last one. Everybody who watches him knows how much Alan wears his heart on his sleeve when playing for the Bees. How badly he wants to win. How much the opposition must fear him. How much he is a firm fan favourite.

Regardless of whether it is out of character, and it’s easy for me to say this from my safe position as numpty on the terrace rather than somebody in a live game environment, you can’t get away with abuse these days. And rightly so, quite frankly.

This isn’t the ‘70s when homophobia and racism were deemed acceptable. When the idea of a woman playing football was seen as something laughable. That she was somebody who belonged in the kitchen and ’the other room’ (although the President of Nigeria begged to differ last Friday).

Like it or not. Out of character or not. The FA are doing their level best to engender an attitude of respect amongst players and supporters. They have been for some time. Fans know this. Managers know this. Players know this. Attitudes have changed for the better amongst so many although, sadly,  others are still dragging their knuckles through the ground.

Has Alan been made an example of? How has this suddenly come to light in October, from a game that took place in April of last season? When the player wasn’t even booked at the time. Surely one of the officials would have reported this to referee Stuart Attwell? How have the FA now heard about this and from whom?  Yet, at the same time, if it did happen then they have no choice in having to take follow up actions.

This is a huge ban and if nothing else Alan would seem to be patient zero when the FA have decided to clamp down hard. Yet, also, they’ve now drawn a line in the sand which I’ll be very keen to see how strongly they enforce ongoing.

At the same time, if this is a path they are going down then further clarity on what happened and how would probably be no bad thing from the FA. Just so that there is no doubt as to where that line is – for players and fans.

The reaction of supporters seems to be, largely, that the player has done the wrong thing. That the ban is a heavy one and that we’ll all miss him on the pitch. Massively. Yet also there are still a few who seem to think that this sort of behaviour, whatever the catalyst, is acceptable.

That, for me, is the saddest thing about all of this. They’ve had the benefit of time to think.

Quotes I’ve seen from supporters on social media include:

Bullsh*t. It’s a man’s game . She needs to grow a set, or officiate womens’ games.

The punishment is totally disproportionate and smacks of political correctness

All the whiter than white males condoning @almc16 ?? Get a life? Something said in heat of moment in a game of football – support our player.

It’s an attitude we still see in patches in the stands. Only last weekend at Newcastle one of my friends, as a reaction to politely asking the group behind him to stop using homophobic language was told, amongst others things: “F@ck off, you que*r c@nt” and  ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s football’ 

It’s football?! It’s. Football.

Wow. As though that’s any justification for hurling abuse that won’t even be heard by the players and officials it was directed at. That doesn’t even have the ‘excuse’ of being uttered by somebody on the pitch who would have been in the heart of any incident.

We all shout at the ref, at players and even at each other sometimes.The clear difference being we don’t all shout sexist, homophobic or insulting abuse.

Thankfully, this attitude is something very much in the minority at Brentford. At least, that’s the way it seems to me. Only on Thursday, the club joined the EFL in their campaign to stamp out anti-social behaviour in the stands.

Ironic? Coincidence? Pre-emptive? Whatever the timing, as somebody who brings a three year old to home games at Griffin Park it is something that can only be endorsed.

Equally though, it’s something that by and large I think we already do really well on.

We’ve got a great family at Brentford. I’m proud to be part of a club where supporters do get along and, whilst getting caught up in the heat of the moment, don’t normally cross the line.

Whatever the ins and outs of this case, and I doubt we’ll ever know the full facts, it seems clear we’ve moved into a new phase of football. Abuse officials – pay the punishment.

Will the FA have the guts to see this through?

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The club and EFL have joined forces

Nick Bruzon

Is Kettle plugged in? Championship refs have a makeover for 2016/17

4 Jun

With Brentford now knowing who they’ll face in the Championship next season, we’re also aware of who will be in charge of those games. With visits from former Premier League outfits Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the calendar along with the all important West London derbies against Fulham and the Loftus Road mob, the man in the middle is sure to be more important than ever before. Season 2016/17 brings changes to that role.

Today’s Last Word is brought to you by none other than regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush. Sharing the apprehension felt by many when we get to see who is going to be wielding the cards and whistle, he gives us a rundown on just what we can expect. There’s good news. And bad.

Not surprisingly, the words Kettle and Stroud appear.

Bernard Quackenbush writes…

Bernard Quack“Next season, there will be two big changes which will effect all Championship teams. The most significant of which will be that emergency loans will be no more. So once Jim White, football’s answer to Brian Blessed, shouts that the transfer window is shutting, there can be no more trading until January!

The other, lesser change, is the one that interests me more, and I have been asked by Nick to talk about today.

For some time now there has been an elite list of referees who have officiated in the Premier League, known as the SG list. Last season it was announced that there would be a new SG2 list of referees who would ‘predominantly’ ref Championship matches only. The big difference is that these referees will become professional and enjoy the same privileges and access to facilities similar to their Premier counterparts. This has been needed for some time and really became very obvious last season. Numerous iffy and inconsistent displays by referees and an injury list of officials similar to our own, made any kind of planning in the referee ranks, virtually impossible.

So that’s the background. So why am I so fascinated by this area of football? Ever since I was a child I understood that these villains in black were just as important as the players. Some were bad, and some were awful, occasionally one may be OK! So I wanted to know more about them. They came from the oddest places too, usually Cotswolds hamlets or Yorkshire mining villages or places with seemingly ridiculous names like Great Bookham. For example, in my mind Lester Shapter never came from Devon, he was from Torquay! Sadly, a policy change meant that these villains in black (after all that is the colour villains always wore), meant that the hamlets and villages were no longer listed and instead the County FA’s where they are registered were listed instead. Yet in this day of the interweb, a bit of digging and a basic grasp of cyber stalking skills, one can still find out that Charles Breakspear comes from Walton-on-Thames (although I imagine someone will now tell me he is from Virginia Water or similar).

So what of this SG2 list. Who made it, who did not? In all there were 31 applicants to the list, with only 18(eighteen) spaces available. There would also have been some strong candidates who decided not to apply because they did not want to give up the day job of being a traffic warden, or similarly heinous job. (Apologies to any traffic wardens’ but I work in Childrens Social Care, so I can trump everyone in most despised occupations!).

The bad news first….Keith Stroud.

Quite possibly the most consistently awful and incompetent card happy referee that has taken charge of a Bees match, is on the list. I was hoping that he would get promoted with Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney to the Premier League, but he is stuck with us. I may be over wishful and optimistic in my thinking that I can imagine him being considered a senior member of the group along with the usually competent Simon Hooper, and may end up taking charge of more than his fair share of Newcastle United and  Aston Villa games rather than the likes of us Huddersfield or Bristol City.

keith-stroud-referee-blackburn-v-burnley-24th-october-2015

Keith Stroud (on Sky)- your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

There are a number of positives to the list with a number of names not appearing on it. NO Keith Hill. NO Trevor Kettle. NO Gavin Ward and also no sign of messrs Webb, Malone, Boyeson, Brown, Collins, Handley or Williamson. Also no sign of the much maligned ‘Deadly’ Darren Deadman, who showed one of the most human and commendable acts by a referee, when not booking Billy Sharp for revealing a message on his vest under his shirt after the tragic death of his baby. Additionally, no sign of Nigel Miller, an old skool police officer type ref who always seemed to show common sense.

A perk of the new list is that it contains a number of the better younger refs who are finding it impossible to break into the Premier League, because of their seemingly ‘jobs for life no matter how useless they are’ policy. Refs like Coote, Harrington, Kavanagh, Simpson and the excellent James Adcock from Nottingham for example. Madley is on the list too, thankfully its Andy and not Bobby. Oli Langford from Wednesbury is a vastly underrated ref who I would be happy to see at GP. Yet Tim Robinson from Bognor is one who lowers my expectations before a match has even started. A similar feeling I began to get last season every time I saw Andy Davies’ name in the match programme. The list is completed by Mr Bankes, Duncan, Eltringham, Bond, Linington, Martin and Andy Woolmer.

Additionally, ‘assistants’ are getting an overhaul too, with 36 successful applicants making it to the list, although there are 3 or 4 being demoted from the Premier League. Unlike the referees, not all assistants will become professional assistants, which makes them sound like football’s equivalent to the lovely Debbie McGee. Unfortunately, keeping tabs on our linesmen is not easy, as clearly there is 2 of them and I never know which is which.

There are exceptions to this, where one is clearly of a different ethnicity, or have some form of disability (and I don’t mean poor eyesight), or Mike Newell’s particular favourite, officials who need their own separate changing room. But one noticeable admission from the list is Mathew Buonassisi, a linesman who always seemed to forget where he was and constantly confused his referee as to what the bejeezus he was doing. Mathew has decided to call it a day and has accepted the long standing offer from Hollywood to be Danny DeVito’s body double.”

Bernard Quackenbush

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The lovely Debbie McGee

Bernard – many thanks indeed.

And if you’d like to read more from Bernard then aside from the comments on many of the regular comments to these pages, you can follow him on Twitter via @BernardQuack.

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of that Stroud induced pain then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Can Dean match the heights of some illustrious company?

19 Apr

Brentford host Cardiff City this evening with head coach Dean Smith aiming to continue April’s unbeaten run after seeing the Bees pick up three wins and a draw since March came to an end. It is an identical record to Chris Hughton’s Brighton whilst only Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough have better form after winning all five of their games this month. With the Bees now aiming to finish as high as possible, what’s left for us ?

Dean has made no secret of his desire to finish in the top ten. There’s currently a 4 point gap to Preston in 10th and 5 to Birmingham in ninth. With a game in hand it’s more than possible, statistically speaking, although translating that into actual points will be a big ask.

Cliff and Russell_face2

Russell Slade – has gone down in Brentford legend

And its not going to be easy tonight. For Cardiff City, a win is an absolute must. Five points outside the play-off places , anything but an away win will surely see our teams tied together for another season. Of course, Russell Slade will be celebrating like he’s won the FA Cup if he can secure the points and make some ground on Sheffield Wednesday.

The irony of his doing that two years and a day after those incredible scenes as the Bees went up would be lost on nobody.Despite his team going on a recent mini slump that has seen two draws and a loss,  you can bet he’ll have the Bluebirds fired up.

Then again, so will Dean. Since the injuries that have robbed his midfield of John Swift and Josh McEachran, the team have looked a different prospect. Whilst no side could say they were the same without the quality of Alan Judge, even Saturday against Bristol City saw us go so close to making it four in a row as the Bees continued with their attacking intent.

For all Dean talks about 10th, closer to home another win could make the battle for April’s ‘Manager of the month’ an interesting one. Of course, Aitor Karanka remains a shoe in for that as it stands with those 15 points out of 15. Yet with his Middlesbrough outfit facing fellow title chasers Burnley tonight (that’ll be some game) should Andre Gray and co do the business then it opens that one right up.

For me, the target still remains the Bees ending up as the top side in West London. We’re 6 clear of Fulham and only 3 behind the Loftus Road mob (with a game in hand).

Whilst Dean scooping an award in April will be a sign that we’re on track for that one, its a short term aspiration. If the Bees can finish top of this mini-pile after 46 games then I think that after all the ups and downs, the season will have been considered to have  ended on a high.

That’s a big ‘IF’ and, as I say, it won’t be easy tonight. Should anybody be in any doubt I’ll just put two words out there…

Stuart. Attwell.

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8 people liked the official announcement. Wow !

And finally, an apology. Yesterday’s column looked, in part, at the tour-de-force that was Sean Ridley hosting Terrace Talk. As part of this, it was noted that he ended his feature chasing after a duck.

I realise, now, this was wrong. In fact I am reliably informed it was an Egyptian Goose. So caught up was I in the excitement of his quite wonderful performance (and if you haven’t seen it yet, please do) that I’ve made a basic ornithological mix up.

I’m sorry.

That said, Sean has left a tough act to follow. No pressure, Jo 🙂

Nick Bruzon

Matthew Benham (and Luis) make a great weekend even better

9 Feb

It would be fair to say that yesterday’s article attracted a mixed bag of comment from the Leeds United fans after their side had gone down 1-0 to fourth placed Brentford. Some of it fair and sporting; other parts evoking the spirit of John from Wolves (a frequent visitor to these pages last campaign).

That’s football – we all have an opinion and the multitude of options available in cyberspace make it all the easier for us to express it.

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.

A fair point. But twitter would get even better

A fair point. But twitter would get even better

Fat fingered spelling aside, this sounds great

Fat fingered spelling aside, this sounds great (and seems popular)

Can Brentford beat Fulham and go second in the table?

21 Nov

Finally. It’s Brentford – Fulham. It’s tonight, I’m buzzing and I cannot wait to resume League action with our neighbours. I think it’s going to be a tense and tough game but I also know we have the players who, if they do what they have been doing in recent weeks, have all the ability to pick up the three points that will take us into joint second in the Championship table.

And, at the same time, give us that sweetest of things – local pride and gloating rights.

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.

New Brentford ‘keeper sees red as Tuesday just got better

25 Aug

No sooner have Birmingham City left Griffin Park than Brentford are preparing for the next home game – a Capital One Cup tie with Felix ‘nil points’ Magath’s Fulham team on Tuesday. Whilst, no doubt, there’ll be further build up to the Fulham game in the next column, for now here’s a chance to catch up on those other things that there simply wasn’t enough space to write about following the draw with Birmingham (along with an 11th hour bonus).

My feelings on referee Robert Madley have been well documented in the past and, disappointingly, these were proven to be spot on as this fusion of Stroud, Biggar and Attwell once again showed all the decision-making ability of a tombola.

View from the terrace - David tells Madley to button  it, as Tony troops off

View from the terrace – David tells Madley to button it, as Tony troops off

The one positive for me is that at least I wasn’t alone in this opinion. Any thoughts of “Could it have just been me?” were dispelled with a read of Greville Waterman’s BFCtalk column on the subject. A very therapeutic piece for those of you seeing red about the card happy man in black.

Still, at least Robert wasn’t alone in having a stinker on Saturday. The BBC didn’t even have the excuse of having had to make a snap decision. I’m not sure which match their correspondent was watching but on returning home I read their website with amusement. Specifically the part of the match report that described how goalkeeper Tony Craig had been sent off – although at least substitute ‘keeper David Button had made some smart saves.

Not even West London's leading journo picked up on this one (although the BBC have, since, corrected)

Not even West London’s leading journo called this transfer swoop (the BBC have, since, corrected)

I wrote on Saturday about Natalie Sawyer and Hayley McQueen’s ALS ice bucket challenge. Later that day footage emerged of Matthew Benham completing his own, following a nomination from the Slough Town bound Alan Judge.

 

I’ve also had to rise to the challenge, following nomination from Luis Adriano. You can catch the wobbly action, some of the worst shorts Brentford have ever worn and the next set of nominees (and do feel free to encourage them along) here. Warning:it does involve some slipped pecs and paunch.

Sunday afternoon saw a thumping 4-0 win for Tottenham against the Loftus Road mob. A four goal defeat mirrors that suffered by Fulham the day before and gives a wonderful sense of symmetery to the bottom of the Premiership and Championship tables.

The BBC have, at least, got the tables right. Enjoy

The BBC have, at least, got the tables right. Enjoy

Interestingly, Monday morning sees the Daily Telegraph reporting that Fulham boss Magath only has one game left in which to hang on to his job. You can read their story, here and then think on about the significance of what that next game is….

As one correspondent put it, “Tuesday just gets better“.

Can The Bees make it (lager) top against MK Dons?

29 Dec

Brentford had a brief taste on Boxing Day but with Wolves hosting Leyton Orient at Molineux today, something has to give at the top of League One.

Until Wolves wrapped it up in the 90th minute against bottom side Crewe and Late-on Orient also won at the death, Brentford had led the table for the first time this season. This is some progress from the twelve-point gap of a few weeks ago and, should the Bees win at home today, at the very least we will end the year in second place.

MK Dons are no mugs, of course. Their mid-table position disguises the fact that they have taken the full nine points on offer from the last three games. This also included doing us the favour of winning 2-0 at Wolves. Chuck into the mix the return of Karl Robinson, after last year’s bizarre incident

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.