Tag Archives: Swansea City

Natalie Sawyer: From Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates

6 Jun

Brentford FC. The club where anything can happen.. and usually does. We are now just over a week into our Premier League status and, being honest, I’m still finding it somewhat hard to believe. Not because of our bus stop in Hounslow status or the sneering from outside TW8 but as much because of everything that has gone before. But it’s true. It’s happening. Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United et al will be amongst the visitors next season. Get used to it.

Part of the reason I love this club so much is the lack of any pretension, anywhere. Hearing Marcus Gayle talk about our spirit and our approach during ‘The Warm Up’ on Friday night was spot on. If you, somehow, haven’t seen it as yet then it is well, well worth a watch. If for no other reason than it is yet another chance to relive that incredible afternoon at Wembley moments.

For me, Brentford is a place where the great and the good can rub shoulders. Complete neutral ground. The close quarters of Griffin Park meant one was as likely to see Sergi Canos in the street as Jumper man. There’s Jack Whitehall in the pub sharing a drink with our chairman. Delia Smith walking down Braemar Road. Err, is that Peter Andre sitting in New Road? Apparently it was. Where if you see the owner, and ask a question, you get as honest an answer as you can. Thank for the kit reveal, Mr B (we’re going back a few season now but…). Where everybody knows everybody’s name and is happy to get involved.

Nowhere more is this seen than with Natalie Sawyer. To those outside of TW8, one of the most recognisable faces on our TV screens during her time at Sky and now holding court on talkSPORT Radio Breakfast. To those at Brentford, she is just another fan. Albeit about as passionate as they come. Likewise, one of Mark Burridge’s longstanding and regular guests during his i-follow commentary alongside Marcus and Mick. Ah, who could forget Sheffield United away? You know, ‘that’ game. Keith Stroud….

Natalie is the face of talkSPORT weekend breakfast

The reason for this long winded intro is that, unlike Cameron Diaz, Natalie is as regular and knowledgable a Brentford fan as any of us. So when she has something to share it is well, well worth a read. And, my word, today we are in for a treat. 

Hot off the heels of Kitman Bob’s exclusive look behind the Brentford curtain, Natalie has very kindly taken the time to share her thoughts. What we had initially hoped may be a few words has, instead, turned into something that is as much ‘cathartic’ as anything else. Not just about the week leading up to Wembley and the game itself, but everything that has gone before.

HUGE thanks to Natalie for taking the time to share just what this means to her..…  

From Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates

It’s the week after the week of all weeks for Brentford fans but it still doesn’t feel real. “Little ol Brentford” are heading to the Premier League for the very first time. So, in the next year we will face the champions Manchester City, Champions League winners Chelsea and FA Cup holders Leicester to name just 3 sides. I haven’t even computed the historical giants of Liverpool and Manchester United as well! How is this happening??? Do other side’s fans go through this same doubt???

Let’s rewind…I was there for Crewe, I was there for Stoke and also for Yeovil. So, I’ve suffered like many Bees fans. I’ve headed to those finals full of optimism, only for it to be extinguished. I’d like to think ordinarily I am a positive person, most of the time. I try to live the glass half full life but when it comes to Brentford, and the playoffs, I’ve simply learnt to be pessimistic and then hopefully be pleasantly surprised. (I just didn’t think it would take this long!!) 

After every playoff defeat, us fans have all rallied to believe it will happen for us one day, that the next time the footballing gods would be on our side. But, truthfully having been scarred 9 times, as we have, I had partly resigned myself to never winning the playoffs. So this surreal feeling I am having about us being in the Premier League after that Wembley final, I think is pretty fair.  

It’s funny to think the season didn’t start off the best way. 1 win in our first 4 league games had a few fans twitching I’m sure. But not long after we went on that incredible 21 game unbeaten run in the Championship, one time taking us to the top of the league. We were living the dream (little did I know more was to come!). The fun bus didn’t look like it was going to an end, such was the high that we were on. But, in typical Brentford-style we were brought back down to earth with those 3 straight losses, frustratingly with one of those at the hands of QPR (who I’d forgotten were in the league, such was their lowly position! ☺) We dusted ourselves off and went again and although our hopes of automatic promotion fell away, our end to the season was strong and convincing, But, that didn’t mean I didn’t have my fears and nerves and I had that little negative devil sat on my shoulder saying “its Brentford innit” as I feared the approaching playoffs. 

We all know what happened in the first leg against Bournemouth, so I’ll cut to the second. My family were lucky to have got tickets and a few days before the game, I was having sleepless nights. Waking at silly o’clock and having those whirling thoughts of losing. I knew I’d be devastated to lose to Bournemouth in that semi-final as felt we were simply the better team, for all their Premier League experience. But there it was gnawing away at me, our playoff curse and it played on my mind constantly. 

I had to be up early the Saturday morning, so I could be at talkSPORT for 5am. My alarm as usual was set for 330am, but as normal I rarely am woken by it as I always have that fear of sleeping in. This time it wasn’t sleeping in that woke me, constantly, but the impending game with Bournemouth and knowing we were already a goal down in the tie! 

I know I’m very lucky to combine my passion for sport with my job but sometimes it can be wretched. More about that later. After my shift I raced back home as fast as I could and joined my family to make our way to the stadium. It was simply amazing to be among so many fans and feel that excitement in the ground that had been missing for so long. Seeing the players and Thomas do their lap of honour before the game got me ready to be the 12th man as instructed by the team. With Hey Jude being belted out around the ground prior to kick off, it certainly warmed me up for it but the anxiety of a must-win game played on my mind. 

Pre match from Thomas.

There are certain moments in the match, I will confess I didn’t see in real time. Arnaut Danjuma’s goal I didn’t see as I looked away as he broke, and even Ivan Toney’s penalty I missed as I can’t watch any penalty being taken. That doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate like mad once it’s been scored. But my nerves cannot take it, cannot watch it. And just before the ball is struck and you can hear a pin drop, I often squeeze my eyes shut and even have my fingers in my ears, such is the fear that goes through me.

Being sat in the stands with my family, I kept my mask on and it’s the first time ever I felt I could scream and shout at a game whilst feeling anonymous. I’m not normally one to do that at a game, other than every now and then when a chant chorus’ round the ground. But this day felt like no other. I’d been told to make it hostile and I was going to do my bit. 

And so did every other fan in the stadium. The atmosphere was incredible from the 4000 or so fans that were there. And it certainly whetted the appetite for when we can all be back together in what we know now will be a sold-out Community stadium every match day.  

So much of that second leg is a blur now but it was a performance worthy of the win. Agent Mepham did his bit, followed by Janelt’s thunderous shot and Forss’ quick thinking for the third, but of course what does stand out is the ridiculous antics of Asmir Begovic. I’ll never understand how an experienced, seasoned pro could have resorted to such bizarreness. We can laugh at it now because we won but it’s still a head scratching 90 minutes that I wont forget whenever I see or hear his name! 

Begovic – the nicest picture of his antics

When the referee Jarred Gillett blew the whistle, it was some feeling to know we were back at Wembley for a second successive season, hoping to right the wrongs, but guess who was back?? – that devil!!!! Thankfully, I was able to put that pest to one side for the night as we enjoyed a few drinks at One over the Ait, with a number of the commercial department from Brentford, who happened to be there as well. The feeling was one of excitement as attention turned to the following weekends’ final. If I could just tame that devil so I could enjoy the build-up. 

Not. A. Chance. That devil is annoying. I could go hours without thinking about the final, only for, out of nowhere, that nervous feeling you get in your gut would emerge and I would have severe pangs of fear. I didn’t want to comprehend a 10th playoff loss but that’s more often what I thought than thinking we’d win. Scarred, you see. 

Most of my family were pretty calm about it all, the other half (Captain fantastic, Mr D) kept telling me it was in the bag but I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to jinx the game. On paper I thought we were better than Swansea, on paper we deserved to win, not just for the last 8 months but also for our missed opportunity last season. But no game is ever won on paper, nor because you deserve it. And also those footballing gods just didn’t like to answer our prayers. So, I had the fear. A constant fear. 

Remember I said my job is great as it combines my passion but that it can be wretched too. Well, here’s why? When you’re constantly asked to talk about the biggest game in football, the richest game in football, the playoff curse, the what happens to the squad if you don’t go up, you are just constantly on edge. Talking about it positively could jinx us, talking about it negatively could jinx us. I felt like I couldn’t win! But I also couldn’t not talk about it as it was part of my job so the only way I could handle it was to try and be measured for fear I would be the reason for the curse continuing. 

I even feared requesting the Sunday off work because I’d be the jinx, but I justified it by saying I was doing that to cover all eventualities. There was no way I would want to work if we lost knowing we’d be dissecting where it all went wrong, whilst also hearing the celebrations of Swansea and yet if we’d won, I knew I needed to party!!

So, waking up as I did on that Saturday morning, I went to work as normal but I’m not entirely sure I remember what we talked about, so much was my mind on Wembley. But I got through the three hours chatting about some final in Porto whilst also occasionally having to talk about the Championship final. Former Swansea midfielder Leon Britton joined us at one point and he was confident his side could win the game. Believe me that is something I didn’t need to hear. That didn’t help the tension. 

Thankfully at 9am, we were done and there was little time for pleasantries with my colleagues at the end of the show, as once again I had to rush home to get ready for the biggest game in our history in which a select few of us could play our part, under the arch. I remember arriving at Waterloo station and as I was going up on the escalator, I spotted something on one of the steps. A sticker. A Brentford sticker. I took it to be a sign. I’m on the up escalator, the Bees are going up? I was hesitant to post it but decided to share the positivity on Facebook, thinking it might give more and more of us a nice little omen of confidence. I didn’t share the news that on the train back I spotted one magpie!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Going to the game with my dad and my brother, we had to get to the ground early as I was asked to appear on talkSPORT again in their live show from Box Park. En route to it we bumped into a few of my former colleagues from Sky Sports, all who believed it was our year. They clearly had not been given the script. No jinxing please!! Once at Box park, it was amazing to see so many Bees fans already inside, sampling the local beverages and soaking up the atmosphere. There was such a positive vibe that it did momentarily ease my fears. The few drinks that followed afterwards also helped! But, it’s amazing how quickly that can change when the nerves kick in!!! And that’s exactly what happened at kick off. 

Once again, the Brentford fans were brilliant. It felt electric in the stadium as our east stand did what we could to roar the team on. I wasn’t sure I could take 90 minutes with my emotions all over the place but as we know it didn’t take long for us to be jumping up from our seats as Bryan Mbeumo was brought down by Freddie Woodman for a penalty, and Ivan gave us the early lead. Obviously, I didn’t see the penalty, but I roared all the same with everyone else when the ball clearly had gone into the net. Ten minutes later, it all felt like a dream as it was 2-nil. Bryan instrumental in our break as Swansea tried to level, Mads Roerslev making an incredible run to get himself into the mix and Emi Marcondes with the finish that got us all thinking could this be our year? The momentum was very much with us and not long after Ivan’s volley could have sealed it. If only it had gone in. How did it not? It’s those gods again!!! 

It did all feel comfortable it has to be said. But, they always say a 2-0 lead is never safe and knowing we had another half to come, my nerves were still all over the place. I kept jostling my feet, my knees kept shaking and even with Swansea’s Jay Fulton sent off just after the hour mark, I still didn’t feel job done. Because, well, you know why; That devil was there on my shoulder again saying “it’s Brentford innit”. 

Swansea didn’t have a single shot on target in the game, but I wasn’t thinking that whilst it was going on. I was thinking, even in added on time, this is agony. So, when the whistle went, I sprang out of my seat, jumped around in ecstasy. Had we really just won? Had we really just won a playoff? Are we really in the Premier League? That moment of being in Wembley still feels unreal. Turning to my 82-year-old dad, his eyes were wet and red. He is an emotional person any way, but he’s never cried at football. Never. But here he was with his emotions for all to see and the best thing I could do was pull him in for a hug. He couldn’t believe what he’d seen, and he couldn’t believe our club were going to be one of the top 20 teams in England. Not just that but our global reach had just grown epic proportions. Next to join in our huddle was my brother and I am forever grateful that that whole moment was captured on video so that we can relive it over and over again as it’s the most special footballing moment for us. 

I was lucky after the game to be invited to the Brentford celebrations at the stadium. It was wonderful to experience, to see the joy on everyone knowing they had just achieved what for so long felt impossible. A little over 10 years ago Brentford were in League Two facing Barnet, Macclesfield, Aldershot, Notts County, Chester, Darlington, Dagenham & Redbridge – not one of them are in the Football League anymore. 

That could have been us had it not been for Bees United and Matthew Benham. There will never be enough words to say a big thanks to those important game changers for the club. But, going from those days at Moss Rose and Meadow Lane to Anfield and the Emirates is still incomprehensible. We’ve lived in a bubble of hope for so long and although we will fondly refer to us as “a bus stop in Hounslow” and there will be some that think it’s wrong a club like ours should be in the Premier League (Really Terry Christian?!), we are going to have to get used to it as we can no longer say “it’s Brentford innit”, instead it’s “we are Premier League, say we are Premier League.” 

Relive it all once more, in style.

5 Jun

What more can you say? Well let’s start by saying that Brentford are Premier League. And yes, it HAS been said many, many times over the last few days but it just fits so well. Sounds so sweet. Finally, finally finally this stage of our journey is over. Finally we’ve got a notch in the ‘W’ column for a game at Wembley. It’ll be Chelsea rather than Craven Cottage for the West London derby. Brighton rather than Blackpool for our trip to the seaside. Manchester City and Aston Villa as the teams to discuss with two of my closest non-Bees supporting friends. There is nothing but excitement ahead and, as much as anything else, perhaps a summer now able to be spent enjoying the Euros rather than vast tracts of the squad being snapped up by top flight clubs. If you support Brentford, life is good. 

This time last week, the anticipation was building. As was an element of angst. On paper, we all knew that Brentford were the better team than Swansea City. Yet in our hearts, we all knew this was a one-off game at what for us had been the most jinx-laden of venues. Anything could happen in 90 minutes. In a one-off game of football. 

Thankfully, as revealed in Kitman Bob’s exclusive insight to the build up this week, those were not feelings shared by the squad. The togetherness and spirit we had seen all season combining once more to get us over the line during the week and on the day itself. You can read Bob’s diary here and, even if you have already, do it again. Just because these moments deserve to be relived.

Yet if Bob has done his thing, last night was the turn of Stu Wakeford, Marcus Gayle and Karleigh Osborne. The Warm Up was back on our screens for another look at the game, the beautiful, beautiful afters aswell as, of course, their thoughts and hopes for the coming Premier League season. 

They have the goals. The celebrations. Fan footage. The additional key moments of which, for me Clive, ‘that’ Ivan Toney blockbuster gets nearer and nearer to making it 3-0 every time I watch it. Obviously the result is the important thing, and we got it, but just imagine the noise had that dropped a few inches kinder to clear the line. What an absolutely stunning goal that would have been. One to rival Dallas at Fulham. 

There’s even the revelation that Karleigh ‘did a JJ’ (and if you know, you know). Quite possibly the real reason we won the game. There’s a lot of love for Thomas and our own, grounded approach to football. Marcus, in particular, absolutely nailing what it means to be a Brentford fan and what your club is all about. I’ve watched it once. I’ll do it again. Being quite honest, I can’t get enough of last weekend. It has been SUCH a long time coming. Even last night, with Gibraltar 4-0 down at half time in Slovenia (thankful there would be no brackets involved at the end of the game) , we flicked off the red button and there were the highlights on Sky again. Don’t mind if I do. Perhaps this time, the crossbar will give Ivan a slightly kinder bounce .

The Warm Up is on now. You can catch it below. Find out who wants Chelsea next season. Who is getting excited about Old Trafford. What Pep might say when Manchester City come to visit. Most of all, just enjoy the sheer, unadulterated happiness of what we have achieved.

Nick Bruzon

Kitman Bob, he writes what he wants. A week before destiny.

3 Jun

Brentford are in the Premier League. Repeat. Brentford ARE in the Premier League. If the Bournemouth play-off semi-final was immense, Saturday at Wembley against Swansea was next level. I’m still smiling now. Then, when it couldn’t get any better, it did. The chance to share the build up from inside the Bees camp arrived, courtesy of none other than the legend that is Big Bob Oteng. 

Our club Kitman and all-round Bees’ hero has collected his thoughts from the end of that epic encounter with The Cherries right through the build-up to Swansea and the final whistle at Wembley. A sneak-peak behind the curtain of just what went on and just why we won. But written in his own quite wonderful words.

Over to you Bob. A week before destiny. In his words…. and pictures.

Saturday.

It’s 4:55 PM and we’ve just won 3-1 in a game that had everything a football fan could wish for. As long as you’re on the winning side that is!!

The players have done the usual applauding of the fans in every section of the ground and I follow behind after making sure the old footballs were present and correct in certain sections. I’m greeted with the obligatory ‘Big Bob’ song !

As I enter the dressing room there seems to be different vibe and I mean a totally different vibe to a dressing room that has just won a football match. Brian Mbeumo give us a little speech prompted by Thomas who then brings the room to a silence, says one more and then retreats to his office. As I head back to the kitroom it’s the first time in these play offs I allow myself to start thinking of lions on the new shirt !!!

Monday

I arrive at the training ground early Monday morning, 6.40am. Thomas is already there which in itself isn’t unusual but there are a number of other coaches also present. Something big must be happening !! 

During the weekend Wembley emailed requesting how I would like the dressing room to look. I put in my request and they reply “is that all” as I can see  we are in the East as we were last season. Also during the weekend I’ve had countless DM messages from fans requesting to know what colour keep we will be playing in. This continued throughout the week until the reveal on Friday. As the team finishing the season in the highest position, we get choice of kit colours.

What I had done previously on the Saturday evening was to ask all the Brentford players what they wanted to play in. Each one of them just said RED & WHITE. David wanted his favourite amarilla.  It was such an air of confidence when they all said it.  I more than anyone knew about that red/white supposed curse on teams at Wembley. Last season I pushed for blue, now I just felt it could be time for the curse to be  broken and banished to history by the BEES.

Tuesday

Thomas had already told the players that he wants to build up to Saturday to be like an ordinary week. For the last two days nobody had really discussed what happened on Saturday because we were all there, we all witnessed it and there was a quiet air of confidence at Jersey Road.  

On a Tuesday before a Saturday game is when I start to prep the match kit for the weekend but this was no ordinary game. I had to apply NHS badges to each playing shirt,  to show gratitude for such a wonderful service that has served us all through such difficult times and not just during the last 18 months. Also new sleeve patches showing PLAY-OFFS.

As I prepped all the outfield players kits I started asking myself which one will get us to the promised land? Even a last-minute David Raya header would be welcome. They all will, as that’s what good teams do. The nerves are now building !!!

Wednesday

WELL EARNED DAY OFF FOR THE  PLAYERS !! However, I had to be in as new tracksuits and polo shirts are being delivered for the big day,  ( no white suits )…

Thursday

Today was quite relaxed for me. I’d prepped all the kit Tuesday / Wednesday and now I was waiting for the final squad to be confirmed or any additions from Saturday. 

I walked over to pitch 2 with a hint of curiosity and I have to say the boys looked absolutely on fire. Not sure whoever we are facing are going to be able to contain them for 90min.  Bernardo was walking the boys through some new set pieces For me Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.

Brian Riemer confirmed the squad was as per Saturday. As we chatted in his office, he asked me what I think will happen, (déjà vu took me back to the same question last August. I said then we will win, but when I say it now I truly believed it. All based on the previous Saturday).  I did my final checks and left Jersey Road with such a nervous feeling inside of me. Two more sleeps !!

Friday

Friday was a late report. 2pm for 3pm start.  Thomas had gone round to every member of Jersey Road staff requesting that they be on the training pitch for 3:45pm precisely. At 3:40 all the staff slowly ambled from the pavilion across to  pitch 2. Training was still going on ( patterns of play) – looked very nice these patterns !! 

Training over ran. Brian, Thomas and Kev drilling down certain instructions to the squad.  Once it finished, Thomas called over all the staff to join him with the players. We all formed a massive circle – it was actually the circumference of the centre circle. Thomas stood in between Pontus and Christian and delivered a speech that would have got me ready to play tomorrow. Two VIP coaches arrive at 4pm, we have a light snack and everything is loaded and we depart for the Hotel (dinner 7pm).

I keep my routine the same. Ring home and speak to the family. My little man is excited,  he actually predicts that Vitaly would score, (his favourite player). Myself Manu and Bernardo have usual Friday away night Spanish ritual (sobre la mesa). To discuss the next day and life over the table. We started it Friday night before Preston away.

SATURDAY THE DAY !!

Especially on away games I like to get up by 7am and go for a walk before breakfast. On my walk I passed a bar called The Hive. I also have lots of thoughts  about my friend Rob Rowan, I’m not really one for superstition but 95% of me thinks today is going to be our day !! 

The usual bus ride to the stadium is replaced by myself Peter G, Sladey, Joe N, Lorna walking the 500 yards to the entrance to the stadium. We pass the Hive then, as if my magic, we are met by big Shaun. Big Shaun is the main security tunnel steward at Lionel road, now I’m convinced todays the day.

We arrive at the stadium 10:45am We walk round which seems to be underground beneath 90,000 seats. So many people in suits all directing us in the right direction. If it’s your first time at Wembley you can be in awe. There were so many white sky OB trucks, it looked like a flock of flamingos at a watering hole.

The dressing room looks magnificent. It feels different to the last year. I set the players up in a totally different formation. Pontus likes to sit in the corner of any dressing room but this is going to be hard to achieve as it’s shaped like a horseshoe. 

There are two dressing rooms with a smaller one for the staff. I take 10 minutes to have a look around and have a look outside. I begin my favourite part of my working day (apart from a win at the end) ! By 12:30pm I’m happy and everything is done. 12:45 Mike the Swansea kit man pops in to have a catch up. We both have a laugh about not going to each other’s respective stadiums next season.

The players arrive at 1:15pm.  I sit in the corner of the staff dressing room playing word search on my phone,  Reidy wants a change of socks, then it back to word search. I’ve done 5 levels on my word search game and then it’s time for the warm up. The dressing room looks the same as it does on every away game. Sliders everywhere. Emiliano’s sliders always in the centre of the room. I’m sure it’s a thing with him. 

The nerves are kicking in now and I try and find work to kill the time. The boys come in, do their rituals pads on shirts on then it’s huddle time.  Christian delivers an emotional speech and again I wish I was going out to play.

The first 45 minutes for me are the best in 25 years. I can remember it all which is very rare for me. At half time the boys are really calm. Thomas is calm. All the messages are delivered in a calm way and I know that today is our day. I’m so confident I didn’t emerge for the second half until the 92nd or 93rd minute. Those last two minutes went really quickly but at the final whistle I went over to Mike and wished him commiserations. I run onto the pitch to join the huddle and just started jumping around. I don’t remember much after, hence I’ve watched the game back in full twice and the celebrations countless at times on social media. Also all the pictures will be sent at some point.

This day and this season I will never forget both personally and professionally. It has sunk in for me because I always knew the at one point during my time with  Brentford we  would reach the promised land, and I am so grateful and privileged that I was a small cog in the wheel of this wonderful bus stop in Hounslow about to join the premier league express !!

Bob Oteng

Forget Christian preachers. Harry and Woody tell it like it is.

1 Jun

There was a lot of gumph spouted on Twitter yesterday about Brentford. Primarily from Manchester United supporting Terry Christian. We won’t give that any further credence (beyond the fact that the entire TW8 family have no doubt copy/pasted his comments for future use). If ever you wanted to know why Brentford beating Swansea City to reach the Premier League is an amazing thing for both us and football, then I’m hopeful today’s piece may help. Or should I say, pieces? First up, our Harry with his own match report – including some home truths that, perhaps, I’m not sure we should be sharing – and then the real jewel in the Wembley crown, an account of Woody’s day. 

Fur Coat by Harry Bruzon (aged 7 (seven) )

This is about “Bentley” my cat (definitely not the goalie) having “Brentford promoted to PREMIER LEAGUE THROUGH PLAY-OFFS” on his coat…

One dark, gloomy night inside the head of Harry I dreamt it was raining. Bentley the cat was walking to a barbers and got Brentford promoted to PREMIER LEAGUE THROUGH PLAY-OFFS 2021 cut into his fur coat.  Then, he left the shop and padded down to the Griffin Pub. He had a play there with the 2 pub cats, then he tried to order a beer (weird). He ran back home. A split second before Harry woke up, Bentley was in the house.

I was awake, got up and went downstairs. Daddy was writing a blog upstairs so I got him down and fed Bentley (our real cat). We excitedly got ready for the day ahead and set off for Wembley via the Griffin Pub! After a few pre match morning pints – including my lemonade – we got our cab ordered and off we went.

It felt like a greenhouse in the cab, the driver took us a very weird route and it felt like forever. When we got out, I felt sick (but I was fine) I literally couldn’t wait !!  We met at our friend’s flat for drinks and snacks ; then set off for Wembley Stadium for my first ever visit)!!!!!!!!

Walking to Wembley, I felt so excited; the streets were packed.  I really wanted to get there. We turned a corner and WOW, Wembley Way, jam packed and brilliant. The noise was ear piercing and buzzing, just like us Bees.

My Dad took us up the stairs, but there was no need – our entrance was underneath the stairs.  Before the game, my Mum said she needed some exercise; well she got her wish as we had to do a full lap of the stadium trying to find our entrance.  She has a bad sense of direction…..

Finally, we made it to our seats, 5 minutes before kick off.  Then it started. For the first 5 minutes it was a bit cagey with the players getting used to the flow of the game.  Then on 9 minutes Sergi played a perfectly weighted ball, it looked like it was for Toney, but Ivan stopped in his run and Mbeumo ran across.

Freddie Woodman (the Swansea goalkeeper) ran out to collect the ball, but because it was so perfectly set for Mbeumo instead Woodman collected Mbeumo’s ankles rather than the ball.  Bryan won Brentford a PENALTY KICK!! Yesssss! The ref pointed to the spot. 

10 minutes on the clock…. I was actually pretty nervous because my dad had been saying all season that eventually he has to miss one. I was hoping it wasn’t the most important one of the season even though I thought he would score.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait – TONEY scores!!!!!  1-0 to BRENTFORD. The Brentford half of the stadium exploded; I was leaping around and cheering my heart out.  Brentford had scored first in their first play off final I had ever seen.  This was looking good.  The Swanseas fans did not look impressed.

14 minutes on the clock……… Naughton, Swansea player, forgets about the ball and rugby tackles Sergi Canos, it looks like Sergi does a cartwheel. Must have been fun (not) riding around on the floor. Free kick given to Brentford but it wasn’t used very well.

20 minutes on the clock….

Swansea City have a corner, Ayew heads the ball to the ground, he dives for good measure, no penalty given for Swansea – but a nice try Ayew.

Mbeumo came sprinting up field as Swansea are caught out on a 2 v 2 attack by Brentford.  Another Swansea player arrives but that does not matter, Roerslev comes up the outside of Mbeumo, who passes to him……

Wait, wait, wait. Emiliano comes running into the box from the other end of the pitch. Roerslev plays it perfectly into his path and Emiliano only goes and blasts it into the back of the Swansea goal… 2-0 to Brentford. Again the stadium exploded in the Brentford half!!

I couldn’t believe it. I was beginning to think my Dad saying Brentford always lost playoff finals was a bit of a joke.

This was so amazing as Brentford were totally dominating the half. When the half time whistle blew I couldn’t sit in my seat.  It was probably the best half time ever for me (plus I needed a wee). Time to check out Wembley’s facilities (not quite as nice as our Lionel Road)

Second half. (Reminder its 2-0 to Brentford). It felt like Swansea had 90% compared to our 10% in the first 20 minutes of the second half and it actually got a bit pressured at times. Is this what my dad calls “Squeaky bum time”? When Swansea got a corner, Brentford tried to clear it and Swansea player Jay Fulton went for a two feet forward tackle from behind Jenson with the clear intention to wipe him out – DIRTY !!!!! The ref was all over it though and hahahaha, the red card came out.  Fulton was off . The crowd exploded again.

At the full time whistle, the Brentford crowd waited about 3 seconds before exploding louder than any point during the match. Nobody could believe we had actually done it.

BRENTFORD HAD WON THE PLAYOFF FINAL

BRENTFORD WERE THROUGH TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE!!!

That thing about my Dad, always saying that Brentford never win at the play off finals was rubbish. I watched them play for the first time and they won. Not sure what he was on about…..

When I got home we gave Bentley a big cuddle and asked if he wanted to go to the barbers tomorrow.

HARRY BRUZON

And now we hand the baton to Natalie, Woody’s mum…..

Oorullie – that is Wembley to the rest of us

W like Woody it starts with a W….. With not much warning we had a ticket, another blessing, this mysterious place oorullie with a wuh was on Woodys mind from wake til sleep.  

The journey was interesting… we made some new friends wishing us well, many people in Waterloo found out Woody’s name as I desperately tried to navigate my way weighed down with ‘stuff’ I was worried would be snatched from me at the entrance.  My least favourite moment was Woody not getting on the escalator, in my mum wisdom I thought being in front of him was wise in case he fell. 

WRONG, I ended up sprinting the wrong way up the escalator as he stood at the stop staring at me.  Anyway, after a Macdonalds and more engaging with strangers we arrive at the magical Wembley.  Woody stole two bread rolls from a bakery and chatted to a man preaching in the street but after spending a lot of money on red items from the stall we were on our way.   

As we walked towards the arch, (not the golden ones), the sensory onslaught began, the wall of noise was like coming home to Woody.  It was another new place but seeing the ‘Bees’ around him was a magical reunion.  Those that recognised him chanting his name as we climbed the steps was nothing short of therapy and he definitely grew at least a centimetre.  

I am pretty sure Woody was holding his breath like the rest of us after the second goal just waiting for the whistle.  The importance of the game was not lost on him and in between stuffing his hula hoops his version of ‘ you’re shit aaah’ was definitely showing improvement.  What was definitely missing was Dennis, who always sat behind us at Griffin Park and had more impact on Woody’s development than any speech and language therapist.  Despite the huge space around us the excitement was touchable and he started his stealth like movements to the front as the minutes ticked by.

After the final whistle it all a got a little out of hand …..  Like the other lucky Bees the emotion was running high and it was expressed in many different beautiful ways.  Woody doesn’t really do things by halves so when we were asked to leave by one of the stewards things didn’t go well…. 

Imagine a Millwall fan on a really bad day….  I was floundering under pressure, I was the only person in the stadium that was not on the pay roll with a small very very angry person demanding to see TOM in a very loud voice.  

As Mum I knew exactly what he wanted but the lovely lovely staff of Wembley were completely perplexed by the frankly (excuse the pun) monstrous behavior.  In a nutshell he wanted to talk to Thomas Frank and in Woody’s world he could not understand why this was unreasonable.  Wearing Charlie Goodes medal and holding the cup handed by Emi were simply not enough he still wanted TOOOOOOOOOM.  

I was all out of ideas and beginning to think we were going to be banned for life from Wembley when someone in a suit arrived and told Woody if you join the press queue you can talk to Thomas, thank god. After always being the last person to leave Griffin Park even on the coldest darkest days, sitting in Wembley for a good 90 minutes after final whistle in the sunshine was an absolute privilege.  

If you don’t know what kindness looks like see the picture attached.  Woody can’t talk but Thomas didn’t care, he asked the right questions and Woody nodded.  Thomas gave him the greatest gift you can give anyone, his time, a few precious minutes in a day where everyone wanted this mans time.  

Holding his hand and looking him in the eye while the UK press waited for him.  I don’t know about football, I am just a mum, but I know about love, passion and kindness.  Thank you for letting us be part of this amazing family, we cannot wait for next season but honestly if we were playing Accrington Stanley it would be just as magical for us.  

Natalie – Woody’s mum

The time is now. One More Game….

29 May

Here…. We…. Go….. Saturday morning. The day has come. Brentford face Swansea City in the play-off final at Wembley. The prize, indescribable. The anticipation, immense. Gone are the nerves that have so preceded our previous nine bites at this particular promotion cherry. Now, there is only optimism. Now, there is only the knowledge that if our team do what we all know they are capable of then the top flight awaits. Turn up. Win game. Get promoted. Oh, it sounds so simple. In theory.

Can Ivan fire us to glory? 31 goals in the regular season is immense

Let’s start with the elephant in the room, our record. We all know Brentford have been in the play-offs nine times before, as recently as last season’s Championship final. We all know that Brentford have lost in the play-offs nine times before. Only Preston North End match that and even they won at the tenth attempt.

And?  For me, Clive, it is an utter irrelevance. History counts for naff all. It is a run that stretches back to 1990/91 and Tranmere Rovers. That’s over thirty years. A huge swathe of our fans wouldn’t even have been alive as Kevin Godfrey squared things up in the first leg before the Bees set off on that epic run of statistical anti-form. It happened and it has happened since. Thing is, we were a different club then. An outfit that needed to sell to survive. Had no budget. No genuine hope of going up, despite the best endeavours of everyone on the pitch and in the stands. Every few years the balance of playing staff would fit and we’d make a decent run at the top six or beyond. Then, we’d inevitably be forced into selling our one star player and the rebuilding process for another stab a few years later would begin again. 

Chuck in a few cruel hands from fate – finishing second yet still being forced into this mini lottery against Huddersfield in 94/95, where the penalties still haunt as though it were yesterday – and you could forgive supporters for being wary.

That was then. This is now. Where once we had Gus Hurdle, now we have Henrik Dalsgaard.  Instead of seeing goal machine Nicky Forster being sold, we now have Ivan Toney banging them in for fun. It could be anyone  – like for like the current team would undoubtedly beat any of those that have gone before were it somehow possible to throw them together. Gus and Nicky only mentioned as much because they were two of my favourites from an era that ended with the complete no-show against Crewe Alexandra. Watch the highlights again should you possess the masochistic vibe of wanting to see just how awful we were that day.

So yes, looking back at what ultimately boils down to intermittent games in a three decade stretch, one can imagine Roy Castle and Norris lining up to explain to an excited studio audience of boy scouts and school kids what has happened previously. How bad it may look on paper. Thing is, records are there to be broken. Good or bad. The performances of David McGhee and Robert Taylor 25 years ago will have no bearing on what Vitaly Janelt and Sergi Canos do today. The fans may remember and rightly so. If anything, it will only make any triumph even sweeter. 

Sergi has been immense this season

Watching the ITV News last night one of the Brentford segments included a piece with Thomas Frank. The question regarding an apparent ‘curse’ of red and white striped team’s losing in the final was put to him. His answer was that, less than 24 hours before the final, he didn’t even know what colour we were playing in. Oh, and that he had no thoughts to any omens.

Good man. True or not, the attention should not be on the colour of our shirts but purely on getting over the line. His attitude and focus were spot on last weekend against Bournemouth. More of the same this afternoon would do very nicely, thank you.

For the record, we will be in red and white this afternoon. Excellent news. Just like the curse of the Millennium Stadium South dressing room, broken in the 2002 final by Stoke City against, err…, all this stuff counts for nothing in the grand scheme (manager of the month curse aside, which I will defend to the grave).

Past record, past colours, past players. Use them for motivation but nothing else. There is no other parallel between the past and what will happen today. That will boil down to nothing more than Brentford v Swansea City. Who wins a one off game off football. Whose fans can do the most to help lift their team. Who holds their nerve and stays strong over the entire 90 minutes.

Kit colour has been confirmed

Look at last Saturday. It was a masterclass in discipline, in courage and in playing football. Playing the occasion. Despite going two goals down on aggregate within five minutes of kick off, Brentford were immense. Our fans were incredible. Bournemouth falling apart like Leeds United on a promotion push. Yet even the Elland Raod outfit got it right in the end and if we play anywhere near the levels last weekend, we’ll do the same.

Billy Reeves was in ebullient form on social media yesterday. Along with the GPG, sharing a photo of what has since been confirmed legitimate and titled “AFCB Frustration Hole”.  Asmir Begović lashing out after full time to vent his fury. If ever a sign was needed that Brentford had done a job when it counted then here it was. More of the same today would be very nice, thank you.

Oh, Asmir…

Obviously I’m going to call a Brentford win. I’m genuinely confident although not arrogantly so. As we’ve been saying all week, Swansea City aren’t going to hand it to us and will be as determined as we are. This will be hard fought and we’ll need to be at our best. Thing is, if we are then the memories of Crewe, Huddersfield, Stoke, Tranmere, Yeovil and all the others could be laid to rest. Finally. What Thomas says and does will be key. Obviously.

Sitting here with a very early breakfast, I just want to get going. Glory awaits. Can Brentford take it?  Roll on 3pm when we find out. The team have been incredible this season.  Imagine that moment on 90 minutes if the result has gone our way…. Think back to Saturday and recall how sweet that was. How absolutely ecstatic the moment felt. An orgasmic denouement that wouldn’t even have been bettered had Mrs Browns Boys and The England supporters band been exiled to the Falkland Islands. Then take it ten times better.

That’s what we’re playing for. That’s what awaits.  ENJOY. See you there.

ONE. MORE. GAME.

Nick Bruzon

Friends reunited. The big one has arrived.

28 May

The much anticipated Friends reunion show has just taken place on TV. Apparently.  Moving swiftly on. There is, thankfully, something even more hotly anticipated (sadly not the Mrs Browns Boys dissolution show). It is now Friday and we are only one ‘wake up’ from the play-off final. Brentford v Swansea City at Wembley. A game which, after our own ‘friends reunion’ last week against Bournemouth, sees us once again given the chance to attend a match together.

Following our own prolonged absence from live football  – we were on a break?  (note to self, insert tumbleweed emoji before publishing) all of a sudden we are being spoiled to ambassadorial levels. Two games in 7(seven) days. An unexpected sale of player shirts and other amazing items at the Brentford superstore last night and, as expected, the additional 1000 tickets made available through the NHS experiment have flown off the shelves.

Friends reunited on Saturday

We’ve done the Bournemouth game at some length but for me, Clive, it was as much being handed the opportunity to catch up with those faces we’ve not seen for over a year which was as amazing as our performance on the pitch. Brentford has always felt like family and no moreso was this proven than at the weekend. We know how painful the enforced absence has been but meeting up again felt as comfortable as putting on an old shirt. Hobot Funky Bee? Don’t mind if I do. Seeing long missed faces and all the pain of being forced to play in empty stadia melted away in a heartbeat. 

Of course, a reduced crowd is never the same although you wouldn’t have guessed had you been standing outside. If anything, the noise generated was unlike anything I’ve heard in a long while at a Brentford game. Perhaps it was the occasion, the acoustics in the new ground, the fact that we all missed it so much or just Thomas Frank and his bonkers pre-match lap of enthusiasm that fired us up to insane levels. Whatever the catalyst, the response was immense. Oh to bottle that for Saturday against Swansea.

The great news being that we’ll have even more supporters present. 5,000 Bees screaming the place down. And we’ll need to. The stadium is cavernous whilst the reaction from the players to having fans present was clear. Henrik Dalsgaard showing that with his reaction to our third goal. Bournemouth crumbling from the off as the supporters gave it their all. There are no tickets left though. This is it. The ‘sold out’ signs went up last night on ‘official’ as the final TAPS threshold was met by the lucky few.

Henrik celebrates with the fans

Now, there is only one focus. Swansea City. No more ticket talk. No more Bournemouth. It is all about Saturday. All about who Thomas Frank starts. Who he has available. How Brentford deal with the pressure and enormity of the situation. The Swans likewise. At least we have last season to relate to, no matter the crappy outcome which eventually transpired (and there are no words to truly describe how horrific it felt).  At least we have fans present this time around.

Genuinely, I’m buzzing. I CANNOT wait for this one. Sleep has been a commodity as limited as belly laughs in a studio recording of Mrs Browns Boys this week. Only what feels like intravenous espresso and adrenaline are keeping me alive at this stage. Yet the excitement is palpable. Its a play-off, I shouldn’t be feeling like this. We all know our record. WE all know the stats.

Fine. Take them and stick them where the sun don’t shine. Cliche alert but… you’re only as good as your last result. What a result that was. In Thomas Frank we have a head coach who lives and breathes every moment as much as the fans. A team who, on their day are unstoppable. It doesn’t feel right to be this positive but there is no apprehension about our own ability. 

Equally, one has to recognise that Steve Cooper will have his own team fired up. The prize for Swansea as big as for us. The desire and expectation as huge. They aren’t just going to roll over except, perhaps, when tackled so let’s hope referee Mr Kavanagh has his eyes wide open). They aren’t going to hand it over on a plate. This will need to be earned. This will be hard fought. This will be about as big as they come. And it can’t come soon enough. It needs to be 3pm on Saturday right now.

Recent games against Swansea have seen a fair amount of theatrical ‘rolling over’ and flapping around

All the anticipation in the world won’t bring it any closer. Enjoy the build up. Enjoy the moment. Most importantly, enjoy Saturday. Swansea will be out to ruin the party. Let’s make sure this is one Wembley visit with a happy ending. One play-off campaign that has that sweetest of finishes.

We’ve been here before. This time, let’s make it happen. Everyone from David Raya in nets through to Ivan Toney, the Championship’s leading goalscorer, has the ability to play at the highest level. Sergi Canos and Bryan Mbeumo tearing it up down the flanks. Mads Roerlsev showing maturity beyond his years. Dalsgaard busting every sinew. Pontus with all his experience to draw on. Ethan Pinnock, a colossus alongside him. Emiliano on fire, Matthias Jensen finding his groove at the perfect time and Vitaly Janelt yet another one to roll off the conveyor belt of talent that our DOFS continue to astound with. My word, that goal last week still has me grinning like a split watermelon.

There’s not much else to say. We could big it up for pages and pages but this all comes down to 11 v 11 on the pitch and 5,000 v 5,000 off it. Now let’s do this !!!!

We’ve been here before. This time it feels different…

Frank. This, err, stuff just got real.

27 May

“Frank. This sh*t just got real…..” Not my words Carol, the words of Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) in cinema’s Hot Fuzz. Way back. Yet never more appropriate than this morning. Thursday. Little over 48 hours to go until Brentford and Swansea City slug it out for the right to play in next season’s Premier League. The quite wonderful news from yesterday being that each side will now have an additional 1000 supporters present at Wembley on Saturday. Whilst the game has still not been deemed a ‘test event’ in line with the FA Cup final, instead we are now human guinea pigs (metaphorically speaking) , assisting the NHS in what has been described as “a status service trial relating to the free NHS App.” Pass the placebo and sign me up. This is fantastic news and means Brentford, like Swansea, will now have 5,000 fans present. 5,000 loud, roaring , vocal fans. And is there an omen from last night’s Europa League final between Manchester United and eventual winners Villareal? 

Frank, this shit just got real.

Yet we can only start with tickets. Whilst there will still be those who miss out  – you could have made this one a full house in a heartbeat – the joy from those now able to attend thanks to the combination of helping the health service and meeting the new TAPS threshold (including our Harry) has been unconfined. The full story is on Brentford official with the additional ray of hope for those currently unable to attend that, ”If we still have any tickets remaining at the end of Thursday, we will broaden the TAPs group further, but from 5pm tomorrow (now today NB) availability will not be guaranteed, with tickets sold on a first come, first served basis.

It is still an awful situation that so many supporters of both team will miss out. There are so many sad tales out there and it almost feels gloating to even talk of being able to attend. As the club have also noted,” We share your anger and frustration and will do everything we can to ensure as many Bees fans as possible get to Wembley on Saturday to support the team.”  

I don’t envy the staff in the ticket office. Supplying insatiable demand is tough enough at the best of times. Let alone in circumstances such as this one. The ultimate game. An anything but infinite supply to somehow distribute. The responsibility on those able to go to really raise the roof and sing their hearts out like never before, even bigger than ever. Those watching back home and in the pubs screaming at the TV. A chance to celebrate like we’d won the FA Cup at Leyont Orient. A chance to relive England’s World Cup penalty shoot out triumph. Fair to say that the atmosphere in The Griffin was somewhat excited that night. You just KNOW this one is going to go to the wire.  

Cripes, sitting through the penalties last night was tense enough and I don’t even support Manchester United. A midweek affiliation with them aside, after living in the city for 18 months (any game is a game if you can go and the Bees aren’t playing), it was as neutral an affair as they come. Yet still. Watching twenty mostly perfect spot kicks was about as excruciating as it got. Five out of five at the start and then five initial rounds of buttock clenching ‘sudden death.’ The nerve shown by player after player incredible. The shootout score locked at 10 -10. Brackets? You’d probably need an entire paragraph.

And then it got to the end of the line. There was nobody left to have a go. Almost nobody. Oh, David de Gea. The heart went out to him as things reached the point where everybody barring the goalkeepers had scored. Up stepped Geronimo Rulli for the Spaniards. Boom. 21 out of 21. Sadly, his opposite number wasn’t able to emulate him. Heartbreak. Tears. Ecstasy. The obvious extreme of emotions depending on which colour gloves you were wearing . 

Yet all I could think of was us in this situation, ”And up steps David Raya….” If ever there was an additional motivation required to do it in normal time then here it was. Genuinely, I don’t think my heart could take sudden death. The pressure on Saturday will be big enough without going through this additional level of torture to try and claim this most sought after of prizes.

Things are now feeling very real. The first batch of tickets have arrived. Across Europe, silverware is being lifted. Some fans still have that additional chance, no matter how slim, of being able to get in to the game. Just keep your eyes on the website. Keep crossing your fingers. Keep on believing.

One more game…..

Nick Bruzon

Ticket and travel update ahead of Saturday.

26 May

Wednesday. The midweek eye of the storm in the build up to Brentford – Swansea City on Saturday. The euphoria of the weekend and the stunning obliteration of Bournemouth now replaced with the knowledge that we are 90 minutes from the Premier League. That said, for those of us needing that additional fix of emotion ‘official’ were doing everything possible to help us OD with an alternate take of the 3-1 drubbing now being shared. For others, there was the question of whether ballot tickets would be awarded to their children or if any of us would even be able to go following the latest Corona confusion impacting the London Borough of Hounslow.

The good news is that despite the scare felt by many, clarification has finally been given with govt advice now being updated to say that there are no local lockdowns and no travel restrictions in place. Leader of Hounslow council and Bees fan Steve Curran no doubt happy to see this threat binned, making a statement to highlight the futility of such a proposal aswell as lambasting what he sees as a, frankly, shambolic response. “For one of London’s most connected boroughs – with Heathrow on its doorstep, the M4 and A4 running through it, the Piccadilly Line, the main line from Waterloo, plus the North Circular via Kew Bridge – to try and limit travel within its borders is not only impossible, it’s a ridiculous idea.

Anyway, it means we can all go to the game on Saturday. Those of us with tickets, that is. What it means for the longer term BIAS petition to increase capacity remains to be seen. Despite the signatories blitzing this one, the inclusion of Hounslow on a list of 8 local ‘hotpsots’ suggests that, through no fault of theirs or the football community, any significant stepping up of supporter numbers would now seem unlikely. Coincidence? Convenience? Or a right and proper outcome following the latest news? 

It doesn’t really matter what we think. I can’t see it happening now. Sadly. Despite over 10,000 names added in little over two days,I can’t imagine any politician will want the broader outcry that will inevitably come with being seen to proactively empower an additional 5000 to travel from Brentford, given its location in the vast borough of Hounslow. Look positive and be grateful for what you have, no doubt, being their expectation of us.

In a way, to even have 4000 present will be a boost compared to last year. Rattling around an empty Wembley about as soul destroying as it gets. What should have been the ultimate experience for the players reduced to an echoy nothingness. Instead, this time around they will have the memory of our previous play-off campaign to draw on aswell as some actual noise from the Brentford faithful. 

My word, if it was loud on Saturday, then it will need to be double that this time around. Watching the highlights, the whole game replay, the aforementioned video and any other excuse to reinject the atmosphere directly into my veins  (metaphorically speaking) what continues to blow me away is just how noisy this was. Wow. Just wow !!!  And that was with Lionel Road less than a quarter full. What a lift it must have been. We’re going to have to be double, triple that on Saturday. Bottle the memory and bring it with you along with the extra strong mints and strepsils. Thomas, pack your runners and do another pre kick-off lap (or 200 metres, perhaps). That, alone, responsible for giving us an even bigger lift at the crucial time. And, like magic pants, lucky shorts or not shaving, a potential pre-match ritual that may now have to be set in stone.

Pack those runners for Wembley, Thomas.

On a personal note, and thank you so much to everybody asking, our Harry won’t be going whilst I don’t know whether Woody was successful. Brentford official have confirmed on the website that  the 50 pairs of tickets for junior supporters have now been allocated and all winners contacted. Congratulations. Genuinely. I’m not a fool and, like anybody, would love the opportunity for my family to be there. Equally, there are so many of us missing out in equally unfair circumstances that are the fault nobody connected to the club. Likewise, I am sure, on the Swansea City side. That’s the harsh reality of life at the moment.

I just wish there was a Plan B to let some extra supporters in but, barring a petition based miracle, it looks like this is it. Sadly, not even doing Plan A better would seem to be an option available to us this time around. Then again, look what happened when we tried that before. Unless somebody is able to use Mark Warburton’s abacus for dishing out the tickets then this is it.  Instead, it is now on all of us fortunate enough to be present to make our voices heard for one more game. To give the team support like never before but as much, to help win it for those watching back home, in the pubs and wherever they can find screen.

One more game. It sounds so simple on paper. 

One more game…..

Nick Bruzon

A good news, bad news sort of day. Thieves, tickets and a lot of love.

25 May

So here we are. The build up to Saturday’s play off final between Brentford and Swansea City has well and truly begun. Our paltry ticket allocation (the same for both clubs) is now flying off the shelves to those fans with sufficient TAPS. The petition started by BIAS to have the attendance increased to 20,000 is gathering momentum (with Gemma Teale getting it as far as the BBC last night). As of this morning, the count was approaching 9000 signatures and there is still time to get this signed. Will publish a further link at the bottom. Closer to home, my faith in the goodwill of people has gone through both the roof and the floor. The love coming in for Woody and his family, following the words penned by his mum on Sunday morning, has seen emotions all over the place. On the flip side, thieves have targeted the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street at the weekend using the distraction of the post Bournemouth spirit to steal a squad signed  Bees shirt being raffled to raise money for a Hounslow food bank.

First up, tickets. We all know the scoop by now. Both Brentford and Swansea City will have less fans in on Saturday than they did for their respective semi finals. A stadium three or four times the size holding a fraction of supporters, despite the fact everybody was quite happy to double the capacity at the drop of a hat when there was the lure of a Champions League final at the same stadium on the same day dangled under the nose.Hmmm. 

BIAS have done sterling work in galvanising supporters with both Brentford and Swansea official also making their opinions very publicly known. We ALL want this to be the occasion it most definitely could and whilst the 8000 official fans (I’m not counting superfluous corporates etc) will do a wondrous job in building the atmosphere, imagine it with double that? There IS still hope. 

Today will be crucial to keep the momentum going. If you haven’t signed it as yet then please do. Please pass it on toy our football loving friends. Your families. Anybody you think would want this to happen / who has access to the internet. The link is at the bottom of this column.

On a personal note it was a real good news, bad news sort of Monday. As much through having been coming to Griffin Park (now LR) since 1979, I’m over the TAP threshold so got my ticket. I will be at Wembley with my friends but I won’t be with there with my family. Our Harry, who lives and breathes the club, misses out. Mrs B will be left behind, too. 

There are thousands of us in the same boat. Thousands of deserving fans with Season Tickets who, ordinarily, would be guaranteed a ticket to the game. Instead, we’ve all been torn apart. I haven’t missed a match with H in I don’t know how long. He’s gutted. I’m gutted. We’re gutted. He loves the club (especially Sergi) and his life revolves around it. From reading the teams pre kick off to being a mascot. From having the players in our house at Halloween to modelling the kit for the launch photos. Something which, even as recently as this weekend, I was given a wonderful reminder of when bumping into a fellow ‘model’ outside The Griff who also shared this photo. Thank you.

He’s still only 7(seven) yet thinks that’s ‘just’ how football works. That Brentford make this sort of stuff happen all the time if supporters want to get involved. The possibility of not going to a game when others can is one that hadn’t even crossed the mind. Until now.

The old ‘eagle distraction trick’ a tool up the sleeve of every decent photographer

Again, we all know this isn’t the club’s fault. We’ve been served up a dog’s dinner of a deal. We have SO MANY deserving fans who, like Harry, will miss out. I’m not after special treatment but simply giving my version of a personal story that I know is impacting so many of us. There will be many, many more similar. Many, many more who should be there and can’t . Who will be devastated about missing this. Who will be crammed in to pubs or front rooms trying to make the best of the situation. Many, many who like us will be sitting anxiously by the phone today. Please, get signing. Get your voice heard.

Look at Woody. The  positive reaction and love coming back on social media as a reply to the piece about him was nothing short of life affirming. Thank you. He won’t be there as it stands but If anybody needs to be it is him. If anybody gets the chance to lead out the team (should Corona somehow allow it) it is him. Here’s hoping he gets the first of the phone calls saying a ballot place has been awarded. Pretty sure everybody has read this one but, if not, then you can find that here…. Please do enjoy.

Harry – no eagle needed these days – and Woody at the weekend.

On the downside, local pub The Magpie and Crown have seen their own charity efforts hit by thieves late on Saturday night. A signed shirt being raffled to raise money for a Hounslow food bank was stolen. With everyone understandably distracted by the emotion of what had gone before, an opportunist(s) have pinched this off the wall behind the bar and it has gone walkies.

To date, the item has not been returned but if anyone has any information as to where it is, please get in touch with Scott Illman at the Magpie on the High Street. If you have it and have woken up with drunken regret, just pop it back through the letterbox or post it back – no questions asked. Hundreds of tickets had been sold to raise money for a cause that shouldn’t even require funds raised. Perhaps whomever took it was drunk and didn’t realise what it was for (he says being optimistic) but there can be no doubt now. Keep your eyes open on the auction sites, too. To date, this hasn’t been spotted online.

Finally, we have a referee for Saturday. Premier League Chris Kavanagh has been parachuted in to take charge of the final Championship game of the season. His record this season suggests yellow cards could be in the offing. Has a tense affair just go tenser? Roll on Saturday when we can find out. All being well, with 20,000 fans there.

That petiton link is HERE HERE HERE. Please sign it.

One more game…..

Nick Bruzon

Ticket details announced. #farce. But there IS another way you might get in….

24 May

Monday morning and still grinning like a lunatic. Voice still sounding like the squeaky teenager from The Simpsons. Brentford having delivered the ultimate high in turning a round a two goal deficit against Bournemouth to reach this Saturday’s play off final at Wembley. A day where what happened pre kick-off, post game and off-field was as incredible as what happened on the pitch. You can read about it here if you want. Likewise, huge thanks for all the kind comments. Especially regarding the second column about Woody making his way back to a game. Yet special though it all was, and it was amazing, it has been and gone. Now, Swansea City await in North London.

The Monday after the weekend before

Like us, the Swans are one win away from the Premier League. For Steve Cooper, this most coveted of prizes. Amongst other things, a chance to avenge last season’s semi-final defeat to the Bees. For us….. well, we all know the scoop. We all know the history. We all know what happened last time out in the final. Not to mention the eight attempts prior to that one. Tickets go on sale this lunchtime and if the enormity of the task at hand is now the immediate focus, the fact that we will have less than 4,000 supporters present in a 90,000 stadium has, understandably, got everyone’s back up. Also, I have no doubt, for Swansea who will also be operating under the same, crazed restrictions.

That this game, and the other divisional finals, will be played out in front of just 10,000 seems utter madness. The FA Cup final had 20,000 last week. Likewise, with the authorities prepared to sell us up the river and shift the final elsewhere at the 11th hour to accommodate a relocated  Champions’ League final with a similar sized crowd part of the deal. So don’t give us this “It’ not a test event” gumph. Then we’ve got the Euro’s next month where larger crowds will be in attendance. There is no logical reason to have a crowd reduction this coming weekend. No practical reason why extra supporters can’t be allowed in. Nobody is naive enough to think that a full house is anywhere near feasible given what’s going on at present but, equally, a paltry 10,000 makes no sense in the broader landscape. 

We all know the arguments. We all know the situation. We all know that the bun fight for entry will see thousands of regular season ticket holders disappointed. At any other time, they’d be guaranteed entry. Not now. Not even close to a chance. The club have taken the least bad option available to them an, in line with the Customer Charter, gone for a TAP based threshold once more. Its all they could do. The full details are on the website, along with a hard hitting statement lambasting the situation:

We at the Club feel it is unjust that only one week ago, more than 20,000 fans were admitted to The FA Cup Final and advanced discussions were taking place for Wembley to host the Champions League final with a similar number of fans attending. We find it incredulous and unjustifiable just two weeks later, the Championship Play-Off Final will be restricted to just half of that number.

We’re fighting for an extra 750 but, if you want to go, there MAY be another way. BIAS have leapt into action and set up an online change.org petition to have capacity increased. You can see that and sign it here. Supporters DO have a voice. Whether it will be listened to at such short notice is another question but if you don’t ask you don’t get. At the very least, it will help further highlight this ludicrous situation and the contempt football fans are, once again, being held in. Besides, with Boris prepared to jump on to any bandwagon to potentially enhance his image amidst the debacle of the covid crisis, perhaps its not a as futile a gesture as the cynical may suspect. So sign it. Please. HERE. Share it. Pass it to your mates. Send it to other fans. Should any Swansea supporters be reading, this impacts you as much as us.

Saturday will be incredible. Wembley will be rocking. 4,000 supporters took the roof off Lionel Road. Double that, with fans from both clubs, will be next level. But imagine with double even that? There’s no reason not to. One of football’s greatest, most anticipated, weekends deserves as many supporters there as possible. There’s NO genuine reason why this can’t be possible.

See you there. I hope…

Nick Bruzon