Tag Archives: survey

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

Goals to Newcastle?

24 Aug

Tuesday saw rumours hitting overdrive after stories began to emerge suggesting that Newcastle United were looking to make a bid for Brentford supporters’ and players’ player of the year, Alan Judge. If the timing is a surprise, the player only having the screws removed from his leg (following that horrendous break inflicted by Luke Hyam of Ipswich Town in April) little over a week ago, the story was an inevitable one.

I was amazed he didn’t leave Brentford at Christmas and, but for that injury, would surely have departed in the current window following Euro 2016. He still might if this Newcastle story rings true.

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View from the Braemar – how would the Bees go without Alan Judge?

At the time of his injury, Alan was the leading goal scorer for Brentford (14) and had provided the highest number of assists for any Championship club with 11.  Indeed, he was joint 7th overall goal scorer in the league at that juncture whilst finishing joint top, with Lasse Vibe, for the Bees as the season reached it’s denouement.

This would represent a major gamble for Newcastle United if they were to move now. There’s no way Judge can even be close to be being match ready, beyond a quick game of FIFA 16. And then, just which player will emerge from the other side of that injury? A shadow of his former self, the same man we knew before or one with even more determination to play at the highest levels and make up for the opportunity which was stolen from him over the summer?

The parachute payments will help any investment decision but it still would represent a significant outlay at this time. I have no doubt Alan will go – only the most naive can’t realise that until we have our new home, the current club ‘model’ will be one based around selling on and selling high. Even then, who knows what other expenses will need to be covered off down the line?

Alan has already been with us for three seasons during which time he has racked up 24 goals from 102 games (technically four seasons if you count 2016/17). He scored the penalty that took us up to the Championship in that famous game against Preston North End and has earned international recognition whilst on the books at Griffin Park.

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Scenes as Alan’s penalty helped confirm three points and promotion

For me, it isn’t a question of if he goes but when. That’s not that I want to see Alan leave but I’m not a (complete) idiot. We’ve had fantastic service from him whilst, given the club’s FFP related sales and desire to avoid players leaving on a free, this one seems inevitable.

Quality players attract money and whilst Newcastle may not be the force they once were (this, their second Championship campaign in recent times following previous relegation in 2008/09), you’d be a fool not to recognise their history or their spending potential.

Personally, I’d be amazed if anything happened in August. Surely it will be a case of nursing the player back to health and fitness, letting him get some games under his belt and then going from there. Come January, we could well be saying farewell.

Unless, of course, Newcastle are prepared to take the risk to secure a potential target before their promotion rivals. Ultimately, I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody ‘in the know’ but it will be very interesting to see how the Judge saga plays out.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be the Last Word without recognising yesterday’s terrible news away from the world of the football. At a time when the unspeakable ways people have come up with to inflict pain on each other continue to shock, Tuesday saw a new low point being reached. Mrs. Brown’s Boys has been voted the best sitcom of the 21st Century by Radio Times readers.

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Mrs Brown – not the first time s(he) has produced a shock result

This is terrible, terrible news. Do ‘Radio Times’ employ any form of screening or was it just open to simpletons? She’s a man. A. Man.

Granted, a man wearing  a frock and a wig. But still a man. That seems to be the joke. Which I wouldn’t mind (the man dressing as a woman being a staple of British comedy over the years) were it not for the lack of any other comedy in an alleged sitcom.

I can’t even begin to start on why this is so awful. If nothing else, how its perceived popularity is sure to see Brendan O’Carroll’s show commissioned for further series and Christmas specials. The latter, in particular, so often used to shunt the football highlights further into a graveyard slot over the years.

“There is an audience out there that comedy forgot – that Are You Being Served? audience has been left behind” said O’Carroll afterwards.

Different class, O’Carroll. Different class. How he can compare the sharp wit of Grace Brothers and Mrs. Slocombe’s Pussy to a man in a wig is like saying Alan Judge and Nick Proschwitz are both footballers.

All of a sudden, the possible sale of a footballer doesn’t seem quite so bad.

Alan Judge celebrates

Alan Judge could soon deliver a blow to Brentford fans

Nick Bruzon

From Manchester City fan to Brentford legend

3 Mar

Money can’t necessarily buy you success. Of course, at Brentford having the sort of finances available to the likes of the teams at the top end of the Premier League is just a pipe dream. Yet it made last night’s results all the more interesting as this most captivating of top flight seasons continued. Despite their mega-millions, Manchester City (at mid-table Liverpool) and Arsenal (hosting relegation candidates Swansea) both lost against opposition they’d have been expected, on paper, to breeze past.

The flip side to this is that when you are operating on a reduced budget, unearthing that game changing player is a truly joyful experience. And this is where Brentford come into the equation. The previous column looked at, amongst other things, the FourFourTwo magazine survey on your club’s ‘cult hero’ over the top four divisions.

It is genuinely a fascinating read (my own contribution aside) with the results, being published on-line now showing clubs A-M. Starting with Accrington Stanley, it has so far gone through Brentford, along with the aforementioned Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City to the point they had, at the time of writing, got as far as Morecambe.

So few of these players are the big money signings making the headlines today but each have their special place amongst the fans. And the reason for mentioing this again was, specifically, the chance to talk a bit more about Brentford. Or, rather, our own nominee – Gary Blissett.

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All time cult hero, Gary Blissett

Given the constraints of the Four FourTwo site, somebody like Bliss (not to mention those who ran him close when the question was put out there on Facebook last month) deserved more than the 100-150 words available. So here is the full, unexpurgated version.

Gary Blissett – cult hero

Where do you start when looking for a cult hero? For a team like Brentford, where the trophy cabinet is more an aspiration than anything else, most people outside of TW8 probably know us for the sort of thing that would make TV’s “What happened Next…?” rather than the record books.

Goalkeeper Chic Brodie having his career ended by a runaway dog. Millwall fans throwing a hand grenade onto the pitch (November 1965, for the record). The failed takeover bid by QPR that would have seen Brentford cease to exist and our bitterest rivals move into Griffin Park. Eight play-off defeats out of eight (the least successful of all English teams when reaching football’s ‘final four’).

Then, of course, there was ‘that penalty’ in the final minute of the final game of 2012/13. A winner takes all encounter with promotion rivals Doncaster Rovers.

Only one team could make it to the Championship and, with the scores locked at 0-0, the Bees were awarded a 90th minute spot kick. The subsequent tussle for the ball involving club captain Kevin O’Connor (approaching his 500th game), and Marcello Trotta (on loan from Fulham, of all places) is one as familiar as the Italian’s subsequent effort thudding off the crossbar and, with Bees players prostrate on the ground in despair, our opponents going down the other end where they scored to secure promotion and the title.

That’s how we do things at Griffin Park. Glorious failure being as familiar a taste as the pre-match hot dog. Yet when we do win things, it makes them all the sweeter. Every now and again it happens. And even when we don’t, we still have a lot of fun along the way. Thanks, largely, to those figures you’d label as Cult Heroes.

Big John O’Mara who, in his first season, scored 25 goals in 40 games. Centre back Peter Gelson, who made 471 appearances in a Griffin Park career that stretched from 1960 to 1975. The legendary Jim Towers and George Francis aka The Terrible Twins. Playing together for most of the 1950s, they still remain (respectively) the club’s first and second highest all time goal scorers.

Hard as nails players such as Terry Hurlock, Terry Evans and Martin Grainger.

Long serving players Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

The skilful wing wizards like Andy Sinton and Neil Smillie.

Those who just seemed to exude personality and had the crowd eating out of their hand – Allan Cockram, Lloyd Owusu and Marcus Gayle (just don’t sing that song near your granny).

Modern day heroes including Jota – the last minute goal being his own personal calling card. Toumani Diagouraga – “Toumani scores, we’re on the pitch” went the Ealing Road. He’d last done it in March 2013 and we had to sit through another 111 games without him troubling the scorers before he was sold to Leeds at the end of January. Less than 40 minutes into his full debut….

Or how about Sam Saunders? The perma-tanned wing wizard (and former tube worker) so beloved of fans that most would allow him to ‘have relations’ with their wives, if the terrace chant is to be believed.

But when it comes down to it, there can be only one winner. The moustachioed legend that is Gary Blissett. aka ‘Bliss’.

79 goals from 223 league appearances (105 from 291 total) in a 6 year career from 1987-1993 don’t even tell half the story. His brace against boyhood heroes Manchester City in the 1988-89 FA Cup fourth round sent Griffin Park into meltdown as the Bees earned a 3-1 passage into the fifth round. There, Bliss repeated the feat as his late pair at Blackburn Rovers helped Brentford to a deserved 2-0 win. Sadly it wasn’t to be in an Anfield quarter final as the Bees bowed out despite giving all-conquering Liverpool (kids, ask your dads) an almighty scare.

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Bliss does the business against his beloved Manchester City

His defining goal was probably the final game of the 91/92 season. With the Bees having won the previous five on the spin, including a 4-0 demolition of Fulham, we travelled to Peterborough knowing a win and some good fortune could make the impossible, possible.

Bliss was the man who popped up with a first half header as we then sat through an awful lot of ‘squeaky bum time’ for a famous 1-0 win. With other results going our way, including a shock defeat for a Birmingham City side that Saint & Greavsie had earlier congratulated on TV for winning the League, we snuck up the blind side and became Champions. Sometimes, it happens.

Gary was an ever present the following season as, despite the sale of strike partner Dean Holdsworth, his goals almost kept us in English football’s second tier.

But there was more to Gary than short shorts, a luxuriant ‘tache and goals, goals, goals.

A wannabe goalkeeper, he was the man who donned the gloves during a Championship game with Southend United after injury, and no spare on the bench, meant we got to enjoy that wonderful moment where an outfield player goes between the posts. Bliss promptly ignored every piece of advice being shouted to him by youth ‘keeper Ashley Bayes and kept a clean sheet.

But it was his red card at Craven Cottage after what we will politely call a ‘coming together’ with Fulham ‘keeper Jim Stannard that is a moment as popular with Bees’ fans as that goal at Peterborough. Bliss left the field to a standing ovation in a game that showed us the West London derby meant as much to the players as the supporters.

All the money in the bank can’t buy a player like Bliss. The £60,000 we paid Crewe back in 1987, even now, still seems like the bargain of the century.

Like Marcus Gayle and Allan Cockram, Bliss still visits Griffin Park. Catching up with him briefly in the week, he told me, “ I follow every game and after my beloved City Brentford are of course the team I want to see succeed more than any other team or club in the world.

I am sure MB will have Plan B, C, D and more and will one day be playing at The Ethiad IN THE LEAGUE

For those amongst us feeling slightly down about things on the pitch this year, these are surely words to put your trust in. If a demi-God such as Bliss believes, then that’s all the inspiration we need .

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Gary still features in the Junior Bees Top Trumps (style game)

Nick Bruzon

Sheer Bliss for Scott

1 Mar

It’s all about the teams south of the river today. With Brentford due to host Charlton Athletic on Saturday, Peter Gilham has been in touch with several supporter groups in regards to a special tribute in that game. Yesterday, meanwhile, Crystal Palace were the visitors for a development squad game that was noteworthy for the long awaited return of striker Scott Hogan. And we have news of a Brentford legend….

But we can only start with Scott Hogan. Nobody needs any reminding of the 18 months he has had on the sidelines, following the horrendous injury (and subsequent recurrence) suffered against Rotherham United early last season. Yet, finally, after what must have seen an interminable wait for the player, he was back in competitive action as Crystal Palace came to town.

And in a script writer’s dream, it took just 7(seven) minutes for Scott to show the Griffin Park faithful what they’ve been missing out on with the striker putting away the opening goal in a game that would eventually finish 2-2. Lasting an hour, Scott has been full of praise for the club’s medical staff and spoke, at length, on the clubsite afterwards.

Scott Hogan

Scott was clearly chuffed, publishing this picture afterwards

Fans were, rightly , ecstatic. Primarily it was just a general outpouring of good will and good vibes all over social media. Nobody wants to see any player go through what Scott has done and so to see him come out the other side of this in such a positive frame of mind has been truly inspiring.

It’s like a new signing” one New Road observer would later note whilst I saw a comment on facebook to say that the first team would be the ideal place to recover his fitness, adding “He can’t do any worse than the three incumbents currently vying for the position of lowest scoring striker in a season”.

A harsh observation or a fair one? Regardless, let’s not pin all our hopes on one man’s shoulders. The enthusiasm is clearly there but full match fitness will likely take a bit longer to come back. That said, just seeing Scott on the bench is sure to be a huge psychological boost for everbody.

The moment arrives

As for the Charlton game, you may have read about the untimely passing of supporter Dean Langford, who was tragically killed in a road accident last week . Peter Gilham has been in touch with Dean’s father and it has been suggested that maybe a minute’s applause in the 24th minute on Saturday, would be the ideal way to pay our respects to one of our own, no longer with us.

Social Media has been awash with tributes to Dean this week. What better way for supporters to show their own respects than joining in on Saturday.

Finally, Cult heroes. It has long been the topic for debate as to who scoops the ultimate crown. When the BBC ran the survey several years ago, Terry Evans came out on top. Would the winner be any different today?

Well, FourFourTwo magazine have undertaken a club by club poll in their online edition and the results are now in. You can find them here . As for the Bees, those visitors to the Facebook ‘Brentford FC loyal’ page have had an inadvertent hand in helping pick our winner, Gary Blissett.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to represent the club in this one and, whilst my decision would have been Bliss, it was nice to see so many other people with a similar viewpoint when the seemingly innocent question was put out there last month.

Congratulations, Bliss. Scott Hogan couldn’t have a better player to aspire to.

Bliss - with Mat Davis

Bliss – a hero to many. Then and now

Nick Bruzon

After the storm, some reflection

22 Mar

Talking in the pub last night and looking around cyberspace this morning it would be fair to say I wasn’t alone in ‘The Last Word’ assessment of Brentford, following the 2-2 draw with Millwall. Equally, having shot from the hip and now having had the benefit of sleeping on it, can we take any positives or even just reassess a column written in the heat of the moment?

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.

Buzette - now head and shoulders above Buzz

Buzette – now head and (almost) shoulders above Buzz

Clem - another game, another draw

Clem – another game, another draw

With these midfielders you are really spoiling us

21 Mar

Saturday really does have the feel of a pivotal point in the Championship campaign. With only eight games to go, six of the top nine face each other whilst Brentford have a home fixture against relegation bound Millwall. The likes of Bournemouth v Middlesbrough or Watford v Ipswich Town are sure to have Manish & co purring tonight but, for me, it is all about what happens at Griffin Park.

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.

Dougie  - recently signed his contract extension

Dougie – recently signed his contract extension

Slade in Flame as Bees burnt (and a shock at Bournemouth)

15 Mar

Well that was all a bit ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’. With Ipswich Town going down 4-1 in the lunchtime game at Middlesbrough, Cardiff City were all that stood between Brentford and a four point gap from the pack chasing the play off spots. But rather than take advantage of the opportunity, the Bees put in a sub par performance against a workmanlike opposition that we gifted two woeful goals.

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 long arm of) Clem's law is broken - a rare win for the BBC man

(the long arm of) Clem’s law is broken – a rare win for the BBC man

And Murphy must score…. 66 is the magic number

8 Mar

Just when the Championship couldn’t get any tighter, it does. As Brentford and Ipswich Town shared a point in their 1-1 draw to consolidate 6th and 7th (seventh) places respectively, defeat for Middlesbrough and draws for Watford and Derby (thanks to Clayton Donaldson’s late equaliser) mean that the top four teams in the table all have 66 points.

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.

Woofy McWoofington shows his true colours once more

Woofy McWoofington shows his true colours once more

BBC FLS viewers see Murphy set to pounce

BBC FLS viewers see Murphy set to pounce

Clem can't make it 7 (seven) wins yet

Clem can’t make it 7 (seven) wins yet

Huge opportunity in promotion six pointer at Ipswich Town

7 Mar

Brentford travel to Ipswich Town today knowing that a victory will take us four points clear in the promotion places. And whilst there were to be no repeats of the week’s earlier favours from Leeds United when Bournemouth visited Fulham on Friday night, the opportunity for The Bees remains a stunning one to behold. We’ll get to the distasteful dilemma from Craven Cottage in a moment but can only begin at Portman Road.

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.

Sooty didn’t wait around to celebrate Jon Toral’s third against Blackpool.

Sooty didn’t wait around to celebrate Jon Toral’s third against Blackpool.

Emerging from the prematch huddle on Boxing Day. Still 0-0 (for 19 more seconds)

Emerging from the prematch huddle on Boxing Day. Still 0-0 (for 19 more seconds)

Lots of goals. Lots of points. Lots of tickets.

4 Mar

What a Wednesday! Brentford fans were able to take stock of a stunning 4-1 victory over Huddersfield Town last night before then receiving great news from Fulham with the announcement of ticket allocation for next month’s derby game. We’ll get to Craven Cottage shortly but for those still in need of a recap from last night, Huddersfield were the latest to try their luck at Griffin Park against the free scoring Bees.

7 (seven) in the previous 2 home games (3-1 v Bournemouth and then 4-0 v Blackpool) have now become 11 in 3. A 4-1 victory was the least we deserved as Chris Long took just four minutes to get off the mark on his full Brentford debut.

His second, following fine work from Jota (how often has that phrase been used this season?) restored Brentford’s lead after Harry Bunn had given the Terriers brief hope. But if that goal reinstated Brentford’s supremacy in terms of goals, what was more amazing was how things remained level in terms of players.

Bunn and James Vaughan were both incredibly fortunate to avoid bookings after preening in front of the home supporters like a pair of coked up peacocks. The reaction from the Ealing Road was hardly surprising but justice was soon delivered.

Alex Pritchard made it three before midfield man of the moment, Jon Toral, followed up his hat trick from a week before with a smart strike from distance. Bunn, meanwhile, eventually found his way into the notebook although referee Kavanagh must have been suffering xanthophobia when it came to Vaughan. A number of cynical challenges were shown nothing more than an inconsequential talking to for the Town number 9.

The video highlights are now on YouTube

 

But a victory of magnitude does, in the cold light of day, make such anomalies almost an irrelevance. The key points to remember are another +3 in the GD column, a refreshing alternative up front and, most importantly, three more points as Brentford hit the play off spots once again.

And then the ticket news from Fulham was announced. An initial allocation of 4000 (with the option for a further thousand) means we’ll take up a fifth of the ground for the Bank Holiday game on April 3rd. As ever, full information is available on the club website and you can read that here.

As we saw last season at Leyton Orient, huge travelling support to a local derby can make a monumental difference.

Here’s hoping for a very Good Friday.