Tag Archives: Stuart Atwell

Hail Ants. Who will be the last starter in this toughest of challenges?

25 Sep

The day has come. The one we’ve had marked on the calendar is now upon us. Brentford face a visit from, quite possibly, the most fearsome of all Premier League opponents. Being realistic we haven’t a hope but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be dreaming of the impossible come 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon. My word. Forget playing the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea. This is next level. This is the moment. Our Super Bees are going up against none other than… Stuart Atwell. Groan. I’m sure Liverpool fans feel the same about today’s ref. We’ve all been there. We’ve all suffered. As if it wasn’t going to be hard enough when Jurgen Klopp and his galaxy of stars descend upon us, we’ve this rogue element chucked in to the mix. Hail ants.

Hail ants, indeed.

At best, its the same for both of us. We can’t change anything so let’s go into this one fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Focus on Liverpool and beating them rather than getting overly het up about arbitrary elements. At least, until they happen. If they happen. Hey, you never know. Even Keith Stroud mellowed with experience. A bit. Instead, the question is more one of who Thomas is going to start with? 

Surely more of the same after the defeat of Wolves last weekend? Thomas Frank used his press conference to declare, “There will be 10 of the same starters and then I need to find the last one.” . Yet with, apparently, no injury concerns is this nothing more than gamesmanship? The Bees boss indulging in faux guessing games when the answer is already staring us in the face on the back of last weekend’s matchday programme? 

If my maths are correct, Shandon Baptiste served his red card suspension against Oldham Athletic in the midweek bracketing so could feature. Will his place be taken by Frank the Tank? Is Saman, impressive in the league cup, due another start? Might player 11 be Rico or Pontus? Answers on a postcard please. And remember, no entries can be returned. I’ve no clue but if everybody is available (barring the long term injuries) then surely the same XI has to be the way to go. Play your best team and let the opposition adjust their game to suit. 

Not that Mr. Klopp should have any major concerns about his own selections. Such is the wealth of talent available he could chuck the squad car keys into a bowl, pull out any 11 and aside from a somewhat unsavoury image for a family friendly publication, still come up with a team to beat just about anybody in this division.  Liverpool are currently on a 15 game unbeaten run and have only conceded one Premier League goal this season. That coming in their season opener against Chelsea. The Blues, of course, our next opponents and the only team higher than the Anfield outfit, courtesy of no slimmer margin than alphabetical order. In a statistical anomaly, their records are otherwise identical. 

As it stands…..

Let’s not forget Brentford though. We’re ninth in the table and well aware of our own record and form. Last weekend at Molineux was out best performance of the season by a country mile. Dominant. Dangerous. Cagey when we needed to be. Even a streak of shithousery added to our game. Yet for me, Clive, it was the way we played when down to ten men that was the most impressive element. Of course, Ivan grabbed the headlines but the defence  – especially Kris Ajer and his wonderful tackle – kept us in it. Moreso, given both Pontus and Rico were subbed out in the final quarter hour. It was undoubtedly tense to watch and you could see where the six minutes of additional time came from (hey, those gloves weren’t going to change themselves). 

This had the Wolves fans up in arms. Hey, gloves get holes in them.

I’m not stupid. I’m aware we are being served up as plucky underdogs. The team that many admire but just about everyone expects to go down to a something nil defeat. That Mo Salah will try and use the occasion to progress to that magical numerical mark. Not a 7(seven) goal bracketing (although I wouldn’t put it past him) but more reaching 100 Premier League goals. With the race for the golden boot already looking like it will be a four way fight between him, Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Ivan Toney you can bet he’ll fancy his changes to both step up form his current 99 and move ahead in that particular race.

Salah – has scored a few and will be looking to add to that haul

The bookies don’t fancy us, that’s for sure. We’ve come in slightly but are still at a general 6-1 this morning. For the home team in a two horse race, that tells you all you need to know about how we are perceived and how tough the opposition is. Liverpool rather than Atwell. Although also Atwell. Then again, we were similar longshots  in the season opener against Arsenal and look what happened there! Yours truly ended up laughing all the way to the bank that day with 888 having to cough up for a very tasty pint of Guinness at full time. Ker-ching !! 

Then again, this is how we love it. Under the radar. Tinpot. Unfancied. Nothing more than a bus stop. It’s going to be as raucous as they come. The supporters up for it and set to welcome rival fans who actually know a thing or two about making some noise of their own. Cripes, Arsenal may aswell have brought their library with them, such was the lack of atmosphere being generated from that far corner. Oldham were ten times louder and they had a third of the numbers present. This will be different though. Hey Jude v You’ll Never Walk Alone. 

It’s going to be immense. And that’s just before the game kicks off. Bring. It. On…. And see you there.

More of this would be wonderful

Nick Bruzon

Don’t shoot the messenger. Cup and league beckon in a huge week.

21 Sep

Do you know the way to Oldham? One in each hand. With recent seasons seeing our paths head in very much different directions, its been a while since we’ve been able to crack this one out. Needs must, though, despite the fact that Tuesday night’s league cup third round tie takes place in Brentford. With the Bees in fine form following Saturday’s 2-0 win at Wolves, it’s fair to say positivity is up. Even Thomas Frank’s most fierce detractors from last season are now lavishing social media praise on our head coach. Hmmm. And with Liverpool next up in the Premier League, the referee for that one has now been named. Be afraid. Be very afraid….

First up, the cup. Last season’s epic run to the semis was all the more frustrating in the fact that it was played out behind closed doors. Thanks a bunch, Covid. With Premier League clubs being knocked out left right and centre, all we could do was follow the action on our computer screens. Ivan Toney’s heroics and tussle with VAR at Spurs nothing more than the stuff of internet streaming. The only consolation being that at least some of us eventually got to see Brentford at Wembley where ‘the curse’ was finally broken in some style. A play-off campaign that ended in a positive manner (not a typo) and celebrations the likes of which we’d not seen in a long, long time. Kew Bridge on fire longer than even Will Grigg (Now at Rotherham United, if you were wondering). 

An epic cup run played out in empty stadia

Given how we missed out on seeing it all unfold last time out, for that reason alone I’m hopeful for big things once more. The much maligned league cup, a tournament of B-teams and squad rotation, has a new lease of life as supporters up and down the land are relishing the opportunity to watch football once more. Any excuse. The game with Forest Green Rovers saw a much larger crowd than normal and we can expect more tonight. If any additional lure were needed, there’s cheap pre-match beer and food for early entrants to the stadium. Free chili in The Hive may be a gone from Griffin Park, but the Lionel Road replacement isn’t bad.  

As for the actual game, well on paper it looks about as lopsided as they come. Oldham Athletic rock bottom of League Two, with 6 defeats and 4 points from their opening 8 fixtures. Supporters are protesting against current owners, the Lemsagam family, in a bid to oust the Moroccans whose tenure has seen relegation, the threat of administration and nine managers since 2018. Cripes, not even Nottingham Forest get through them that fast.

Sad times at Ice Station Zebra. Supporters protest.

The Bees, on the other hand, have picked up in the Premier League where we left off in the Championship. Wolves, the latest side to surrender all three points as Brentford beat the clock and our opponents. An edge of game management deployed against us in such brutal fashion by Brighton the week before, had the home fans up in arms and still raging 48 hours later. If this is how they react to David Raya changing his gloves, they’re going to go into meltdown against Brighton (who can also add falling down like the mutant offspring of Michael Douglas and Justin Fletcher to their catalogue of fan enraging tactics).

For me (Clive), and its easy to say this when we finally played a game to within an inch of the rules, it was a necessary way to close it out with just ten men on the pitch. Shandon Baptiste’s second yellow card also meaning he’ll miss out night, which is a real shame, albeit he’ll be back for Liverpool if my calculations are correct. After the Brighton game it was noted on these pages that, “Perhaps we need to be more cynical. More shrewd. Play to the letter of the rules rather than the spirit of the game. Collapse like a felled domino to slow down the clock and disrupt the flow”.

Of course, Thomas doesn’t read this or take tactical advice from the internet. If he did he’d have been ‘out’ last season, but it was pleasing to see us adapt to circumstance after getting off to that flying start. Only Stuart Atwell on VAR keeping the scoreline vaguely respectful for a home team who,  despite all their frustration, managed the princely total of ‘0’ shots on target. 

Don’t shoot me. The stats don’t lie, as Shakira almost once sang. They DID deserve more but you could argue so did we. So does Dean Smith every week. Even Bryan rattling the woodwork late on could have put things further out of sight. Instead, the lesson about balls in the back of then rather than possession being what wins games was once again in evidence. Thankfully, Brentford were the ones delivering it rather than being on the receiving end.

So with the Bees in their groove and the cup providing all it does, I’m expecting a big crowd and a good result. It won’t be easy. Never is. Under estimating any opponent or ‘teams like..’ The cardinal error to make. If anyone knows that over the last few years it’s us. With Oldham perhaps looking for some welcome distraction, they aren’t going to surrender this when the opportunity for morale boosting win and money spinning fourth round tie is at their mercy. It’s going to be fun, that’s for sure. It’s going to be tasty. And that’s just the pies.

Elsewhere, the referee and assistants for the Liverpool game on Saturday have been named. The great news being that Sian Massey-Ellis is part of the team. Her positive reputation more than precedes her as one of English football’s most on the ball officials. The not so good news being that she’s on VAR assistant duties. And for the man in the middle, we’ve been treated to….. Stuart Atwell. Stuart. Atwell. Say no more. His reputation precedes him as one of English football’s most off the boil officials.

Don’t shoot the messenger….

Still, as Rob The BEEE put it: Worst ref in the Prem by a distance…then again, in a game we should lose anyway, rolling the dice on a dodgy decision might not be a bad thing!

Perhaps he’s on to something. Come on Stuart, proves us wrong….

Nick Bruzon

From ‘the village’ to The Valley. Does paradise await?

23 Oct

Brentford travel to The Valley on Saturday to take on a Charlton Athletic team currently stuck in the bottom three and with a record that anybody worried about the Bees recent form should take a long, hard look at.

The Addicks have picked up just one point out of the last six league games. Indeed, they’ve only managed two shots on target in 180 minutes of football (the first in the 1-0 loss at Reading and the other last time out, when they went down 3-0 at home to Preston). Brentford, meanwhile, followed last weekend’s home win against Rotherham with the midweek triumph at Molineux as Wolves were dispatched 2-0.

That’s the positive (for the Bees – sorry Charlton fans). Before we get too carried away, just think back to last season in what was, and moreso given our league position at the time, a calamitous performance.

Last time, out. Terrible manners but what a critic

Last time, out. Terrible manners but what a critic

Then again, it was at the height of ‘Village-gate’. We were stuck in the no-man’s land between ‘that statement’ being issued on the Tuesday, followed by a week of tumbleweed drifting through the Griffin Park media centre.

As a rule, I don’t particularly want to draw too many parallels to that period. It has been and gone. Like it or not, Warbs is at Rangers and the Bees have a new management team and a new approach. Even better, we’ve started winning again. Yet the Charlton game, of all, illustrated how important team spirit is. And when it is missing, the consequences can be catastrophic.

Even now, looking back, I’ve had to remind myself just how shambolic we were that day. With apologies to any terrace wags / observers who may be reading, the post mortem of this ‘performance’ (and that’s almost a breach of ‘trade descriptions’) from the Last Word review of season 2014/15 still seems generous:

How about Harlee’s non header for the opening goal? Look at Jonathan Douglas, whose meandering and sorties up the pitch then left a midfield hole big enough to park an oil tanker in. This was a game crying out for his experienced head to get a grip in the middle rather than go fannying around like Matt Le Tissier looking for a packet of fags.

The normally brilliant Alex Pritchard decided to show all the delivery skills of a drunken postman whilst Andre Gray just looked plain knackered. But then, with only the ineffectual Nick Proschwitz or the inexperienced Chris Long as alternatives, it’s no surprise. Moses seemed lethargic whilst Jota barely got a look in.

I could go on but what’s the point? A 3-0 defeat was the least we deserved. Only David Button came out of it with any kudos.

The game was so bad, some fans just caught up on their i-player viewing

The game was so bad, some fans just caught up on their i-player viewing

I take no particular pleasure in dragging this up again. Instead, it is done more to say that, if there is one game where I’d love to see the players prove a point, it is Saturday’s. Charlton cruised to the win that ended a 13 game winless streak and, to coin that most famous of phrases, we were lucky to get nil.

Interestingly, of those players named and shamed, only Harlee remains. With him and Tarks looking rock solid at the back, and Lee Carsley getting excited about the reinvigorated spirit in the camp, are we already in a better place than last time out?

Hopefully Harlee will crack out the Coldplay once more and, with it, another winning performance. There is as much about personal pride as anything else riding on this one.

And with Stuart Atwell as the man in the middle, we’d better make sure that volume is set to 11…..

Still, if Chris Martin isn’t enough to inspire us again, perhaps this is.

Football is sometimes called a village, and in any village, gossip and rumours can spread like wildfire, whether or not such rumours are true.

We’ve got a lot to put right on Saturday. I can’t wait to see us try.

Could it be paradise for Bees fans this time ?

Could it be paradise for Bees fans this time ?

Nick Bruzon

4 goals, 42 shots, 74% possession. That’s some mathematical model.

25 Feb

Brentford blew aside Blackpool like a crisp packet caught on the breeze as they recorded a second win in as many games. The 4-0 scoreline does little to reflect the one sided nature of a game in which we registered 42 shots to the visitors 2 and had 74% possession. Blackpool, who spent much of the game with ten men following a red card for Charles Dunne, offered nothing and, being honest, could have made the long journey home on the wrong end of a bracketing had we been that bit more clinical.

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.

The BBC stats show just how one sided it was

The BBC stats show just how one sided it was

View from the terrace - Jon Toral and team celebrate his third goal

View from the terrace – Jon Toral, team and fans celebrate his third goal

However, I have a picture that suggests that there is an alternative which could keep both parties happy. If Matthew wants a mathematical model then our artist’s impression of how this could be accommodated would, I am sure, be a popular one.

Is this what Matthew means by a mathematical model?

Is this what Matthew means by a mathematical model?

Will it be three more points as Blackpool go West?

24 Feb

Brentford welcome Blackpool to Griffin Park on Tuesday night in what, on paper, seems an excellent chance to continue on our winning way after Saturday’s splendid 3-1 victory over Bournemouth. With the Tangerines already 12 points adrift of Championship safety and manager Lee Clark telling the BBC that he “may struggle to fill the substitutes’ bench” surely this has three points written all over 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.

Football League Show provides another season highlight

23 Nov

With Brentford having a Championship day off on Saturday after demolishing Fulham on Friday night, our supporters were left to see if anyone would overtake the newly fourth placed Bees. Wolves, next up at Griffin Park, were the feature team on the BBC Football League show whilst Warbs, with time on his hands, was Manish’s studio guest. And as for Clemwatch, it gave us a chance to resume our scientific study as Charlton Athletic hosted the albatross of the roving reporting world.

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.

Even the London flood barrier fails to hold back Clem's deluge of poor results

Even the London flood barrier fails to hold back Clem’s deluge of poor results

Brentford 2 Fulham 1. Can it get any better?

22 Nov

Hugh Grant. Daniel Radcliffe. Keith Allen. Possibly Lily Allen. Are you listening? Our Brentford gave your Fulham one hell of a beating.

Like celebrity Cottager Richard Osman, Brentford left Fulham ‘Pointless’ on Friday night as the Bees stormed to fourth place in the Championship, one point off the top of the table, after an incredible stoppage time win.

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.

What are the odds on THAT? The big game is finally here

22 Feb

Anyone taking advice from me ahead of today’s Brentford  – Wolves game needs his or her head tested. The self confessed ‘numpty on the terrace’, my football radar is so far off that when I heard yesterday about Wayne Rooney’s extension at Manchester United, my genuine reaction was ‘hairline’ rather than ‘contract’.  That said, in staying at Old Trafford it’s actually a rare case of a rat jumping back on to a sinking ship (proverbially, of course). Whilst I am enjoying their fall from grace, I think the odds of United and Brentford both gracing the Championship next year are thinner than the aforementioned ‘weave’.

But today’s action is all about League One and it really doesn’t get any bigger than this.

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.