Tag Archives: Sweden

How do you break a five year old’s heart? And how does he react ?

12 Jul

5.30am Oh, football. We should be joyous, sporting and full of pride at a team that nobody really fancied prior to the tournament making it all the way to the semi-finals of the World Cup. And I am. All of that. But let’s not pretend that after watching England go down 2-1 to Croatia (aet) it doesn’t also feel like the most numbing punch to the gut. Moreso given the one-way traffic of a first half where Kieran Trippier’s early free-kick from the heart of Saunders territory gave supporters an early lead that suggested that the final was in sight. Worse, I’ve got to break a little boy’s heart shortly. HB, normally accustomed to watching Brentford, has invested all his emotional eggs in this England team basket. As a special treat on a school night he was allowed out to watch the first half. He went to bed with the score 1-0 and the game heading in only one direction.

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Watching the replay of THAT free kick. Yessssss

 Let’s not also pretend that the better team didn’t win. Croatia deserved it last night. They accelerated their game in the second half after surviving a pummelling that by all medical logic should have seen them dead on their feet. Attack after attack being broken up by cynical challenge after cynical challenge. Only the referee’s leniency / incompetence keeping them with the regulation 11 players when the teams went in for their half time cuppa. Only a combination of great defending, poor finishing and the linesman’s flag keeping the score at 1-0 to England. Kieran Trippier’s quite delightful free-kick to the top right corner after just five minutes being the difference between the two teams. At least on paper.

HB went back home to bed. “Daddy. Wake me up when you get in and tell me the score” he exhorted. Optimism coursing through his veins and, to be fair, one could understand why. If England had looked in cruise control against Sweden at the weekend after going one up, this seemed to have them in turbo mode. He had already shown me the space on the World Cup wall chart alongside France where he’d be adding England’s name after the game. And then Croatia accelerated. Harry’s sleep remained unbroken. I couldn’t do it to him.

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There’s a big job to do later today. Be strong.

Oh, football. We should be proud. We are. Yet having got so close one can’t deny the genuine disappointment. Can’t deny what a quite wonderful opportunity it was. What an exhilarating moment was unfolding before us. A packed pub, sitting in the shadow of Brentford football club, all pulling together and slowly having their collective hearts broken.

My own take on it at half time was that “This is quite magnificent. But it is also like watching International Brentford.” Chance after chance. Domination on a global scale. A one goal lead but that awful, awful feeling in the darkest recesses of the mind. The feeling that it only takes a second to score a goal and then things would be level on paper. That ultimately, despite all the possession a team may have, balls in the back of the net are the only stat which counts.

Then the second half happened. Then extra time happened. It wasn’t collapse. Far from it. Just an almost inevitable turning of the screw as pressure slowly built and Croatia started to play. If you want the proper facts then the BBC is your place. Go to a reputable website.

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There aren’t many better locations to watch a game of football

For me (Clive) I know what I saw and it’ll stay there forever. A different feeling to Italia ’90 where the ruthless German machine were only ever expected to steamroller Bobby Robson’s boys. Instead, there was genuine belief this time around after Gareth Southgate had inspired a nation to believe.

And ultimately, I guess that’s what we need to take away from this. Winning would have been incredible. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet at the same time, this collective feeling of wellbeing, of optimism, of hope and of positivity inspired by one man in a waistcoat has been a quite magnificent thing to experience. And for being part of that I can only be truly grateful.

These last few weeks have been incredible. Heading into a tournament where many supporters were, understandably, not even willing to travel. Where the media had painted such a picture of impending horror – and that was just off the pitch. Where nobody gave England a hope on it. Instead, we have had the polar opposite. A team that people can take pride in. A team that have inspired us all.  A tournament that has only captivated from the off.      

So that’s my abiding memory. People united. Communities coming together. Strangers talking to each other. A nation taking pride once more after two years of bitter feuding and self-serving politicians have done their level best to tear us apart. England may have lost but there’s no doom or gloom. Just immense pride.

6.40am Gulp. This is it. HB is calling me. “Daddy. Can I get up? Did England win?“. I sit next to him and break the bad news that, unfortunately, they won’t be in the final. That Croatia played better and won, 2-1.

So we won’t be in the final, then?” he asks me, before adding “but does this mean we still get to see them on Saturday? And if we win that, THEN will we be in the final?

I have no answers here. There’s a deafening silence as he looks up, expectantly. Those big, brown eyes staring up at me and waiting to be told that England will still win the World Cup. The silence suddenly broken by Mrs. Bruzon’s alarm clock going off from the next door room.

“Daddy,” he says. “Mummy’s alarm is going off” and then bursts out laughing.

6.45am All I can hear from his room is “Come on, England. Come on, England”.

Nice one, Gareth!! 

Nick Bruzon

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The Griffin.This community vibe is just one of the things I’ll remember from the 2018 World Cup.

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This was something special…

8 Jul

What a day. What an afternoon. What a party long into the evening (for those of us who didn’t nod off briefly during extra time of the Russia game – move along, nothing to see here). Who’d have thought it? Did it really happen? Yes it bloody well did!! Liverpool hit brackets in a 7(seven) – 0 pre-season friendly. Oh, and England reached the semi-final of the World Cup. Elsewhere, hats off to the Brentford LGBT Bees who missed the game (at least on TV) to attend the Pride parade in London. Huge kudos there and great to see a special guest from Griffin Park.

However, and with the greatest respect to Liverpool, Chester and Brentford, there’s only one place to start. Unless you are a fan of Peter Gilham’s ever wonderful tour diary – day 1 is now up. Of course its England. It’s the World Cup. It’s a semi-final against Croatia. This, after Sweden were despatched in a style far more comfortable than anybody had a right to expect

We watched it in The Griffin. HB’s first proper World Cup match in that communal atmosphere. Wow. He’s hooked. “Daddy, daddy. That’s Young. He’s going to take the corner and we might get a goal.”  Sure enough, it happened. Harry Maguire powered home Ashley Young’s corner. With it, the pressure of a cagey first twenty minutes fell away and another example of why you should never take them short had been administered.

The game opened up. Another pint enjoyed. Chances came. England pushed. 1 up at half time. The semi-final in sight. Jordan Pickford performing heroics to keep England alive as Sweden looked for the equaliser. Then Dele Ali did his thing. Another header. 2-0. Half an hour to go. The finish line in sight? Surely this was in the bag? Landlord, a beer. I need something to calm the nerves.

Never in doubt. The moment of triumph was one met with another gigantic roar that echoed around Brook Road, Braemar Road and probably beyond Griffin Park. Only a third ever World Cup semi final for England in the entire history of football. For many young fans, their first ever. History unfolding before them. For others, the flashbacks to Italia 90 still seem as though they were just five minutes ago.

Fairplay to Sweden but this was something special. A wonderful moment to experience on both a footballing and a personal note. A son who has just turned five and taking all this in his stride. Totally absorbed by the football and telling me the players. Describing the match action. Shrieking with excitement at the prospect of England now being in the last four. Talking to people he’s never met before about a World Cup run that has captivated the nation.

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The Griffin. The moment…

Appreciate this is all a bit nonsensical today. I’m all over the place. And that was as much due to staying on to see who will play England in that semi. Croatia being the answer, after another penalty shoot out win. So I’m just going to stop short now.

Albeit wishing the aforementioned kudos and big love to our LGBT Bees. And Buzz Bee. This tweet, of all I saw yesterday, made me smile the most. Except, perhaps, the Belgians celebrating their victory over Brazil…..

Nick Bruzon

Brentford experience a touch of the Arsenal with new shirt. And Saïd joins. Nice.

7 Jul

Well that was unexpected. What a warm up to the biggest England game in I don’t know how long. Uruguay out! Brazil out! The new Brentford home shirt – out! And there’s a new signing to boot, with attacker Mohamed Saïd Benrahma joining from OGC Nice. All of which were brought to us in quite unique social media styles – a fan announcing the kit and Saïd (as he is apparently better known) announcing himself to a fan.

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#WelcomeSaïd (sorry – we don’t do that anymore. Thankfully)

First up, Brentford. The new shirt. No sooner had I got home from picking up mine and HB’s away shirts from the club shop than the phone went off. And again. And again. Something was clearly afoot.

Whilst we’d been given the home shirt teaser photo in the morning, with a promise of the big reveal on Monday, the club had gone early. Or, rather, supporter Lucy Draper had after dropping this tweet mid-afternoon……

Wow. As a means of doing this it was a great idea. Out of nowhere and via a fan rather than a week of snippets and moody looking shadow drenched pictures that no amount of fiddling with photoshop can enhance to reveal more clues. Been there, done that and it’s a lot of time that can never be got back. I have to be honest that, much like novelty hashtags, the tease routine is starting to feel as though it has had it’s day. Just rip it off and show us your kits, Brentford.    

Well, the club would seem to be heading in that direction and we now know what we’ll look like in 2018/19. If it was love at first sight for the beautiful brown and orange, I’m more cautiously reserved when it comes to the home variant. The gut reaction for me was one of personal anti-climax. White sleeves and not enough black trim. Barely any (and that’s assuming the Draper family weren’t all wearing low cut black vests). All this before we’d even seen the red back.

Yet, seeing it as the match action photos from our game at Boreham Wood began to come in later that evening I have to say it started to grow on me. The all white sleeves looking better and the black shorts helping break it up more.

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Much better in full frontal

The problem being, of course, that full kit w@nkers aside, no supporter goes out on match day wearing much more than replica shirt and jeans. Perhaps it’ll be a case of breaking out the black wranglers rather than the blue next season.

For me (Clive) there’s just a touch too much of 1970s Arsenal about it. The red back, the white sleeves, the red trim. With a striped back this could have been superb. Instead, with the all red derriere (thanks, Adidas) it looks almost like two different kits mangled together. Something that became more apparent as we saw those ‘side on’ / reverse shots. ‘A cut and shut’ as one New Road observer would later opine.

That said, supporter opinion on social media seemed to be generally in favour and it’s impossible to please everybody. Likewise, in this era of clubs changing shirts every campaign there’s only so much you can do to update red and white stripes. Only so much you can do for the likes of Brentford, Sheffield United and Sunderland to not look as though they are wearing some variant of each other’s back catalogue – even if the Arsenal look was one that Adidas have dropped on us.

With the club’s current deal with our kit partner due to expire at the end of this season, and assuming a new contract hasn’t been signed already, perhaps a clause insisting on a striped back might be the way forward with whomever our next supplier is. Adidas or other.

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One shirt – two teams?

Ultimately, it’s a shirt. An absolutely key part of the club and our heritage but at the same time, there could be a lot worse things to happen.  I’ve loved many before. I’ve hated others on sight. This one falls somewhere in the middle. Having told people to reserve full judgement on the away until they see it, now is the time to take that advice myself.

Perhaps this one will prove to be a grower in our house. One really does hope so as with the away shirt proving a classic (and HB wanting to wear his to bed last night – that wasn’t happening), how nice to have a pair of iconic kits to celebrate our journey to the Premier League.

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The away shirt is a ratings winner in TW8

If choosing a fan to reveal our shirt was a novel touch, there was more to come. With speculation about the signing of Saïd Benrahma rife on social media this week, the player himself revealed his arrival – direct to supporter Ryan Gaffney after he’d questioned whether a signing really was imminent. Albeit with the full story coming shortly after on official (and you can read that one here).

This sort of thing is great. Like sending away shirts and jaffa cakes in the post to those whose first reaction wasn’t favourable, the club are really driving fan interaction to a new level. Gone are those awful hashtags – farewell #trophfyriends and #Novemberkings – and instead we have fans right at the heart of the action. No staid press release but instead a devastatingly refreshing break from the norm.

Traditionalists may not agree. Personally I’m loving what we are doing here although don’t deny it is a tricky line to stay the right side of. As noted by one observer (below). But if you can get it right, what a great tool. Social media is well and truly here to stay – let’s embrace it.

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Next up. The World Cup. The trophy IS coming home. Or, at least for now, to Europe. Brazil and Uruguay both crashed out last night (I would also accept: ‘limped’) to Belgium and France respectively. Now’s the chance for England to go again.

It promises to be shirt launch levels of excitement. Pubs full, barbecues sizzling and supermarket beer shelves cleared. That’s just Gareth Southgate’s big match build up routine.

In all seriousness though, I can’t wait. The World Cup is always huge and with England one of just six teams left alive, the excitement sweeping the nation is palbable. Everybody knows what is at stake and with football already having been formally declared to be packing her cases for the flight back to England, it would be fair to say that optimism levels are through the roof.

There’s not much else to say on that really. It’s all about the anticipation for now.

Wherever you watch it, enjoy. No doubt he game will provide a story and some sort of discussion point come 6pm.

This is England, it always does.

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Scenes we’ll be hoping to avoid later today

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us with sledgehammer like unsubtlety to the Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

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

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

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

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

The morning after the night before. Eric Dier and Andy Bush save the day.

5 Jul

Well, yesterday was all a bit bonkers. From start to finish. But then again an England World Cup win will do that. A World Cup win on penalties no less (not a typo). It was just fantastic in and around Brentford but likewise, central London too. You know something amazing must have happened when random commuters start talking to each other on public transport. Yet it was that sort of moment. The spirit of the night before having carried on through. It wasn’t a dream. That really DID happen. People still buzzing about the moment Eric Dier hit the winning spot kick and a nation exploded in joy.

 The. Moment. What a celebration.

I have to be honest here, the prospect of the journey into work was not an appealing one. This was not so much the thought of reaching the office where I was actually looking forward to discussing the game. With my team but more specifically a very good friend of mine (sorry, sorry – I’m not doing an Ian Moose) who is engaged to be married to a quite wonderful girl from Colombia next month. There was genuine curiosity as to the vibe in their house. Something which eventually transpired to be extremely diplomatic and sporting, even if the same couldn’t be said for their neighbours when Yerry Mina scored that heartbreaking 94thminute equaliser.

The reticence was more about travelling in to Waterloo on a packed train in the heat after waking up in what could politely be described as a tired, emotional and fragile state. No amount of air-con was going to save this journey if I had to stand up for a half hour with an exasperated estate agent from Putney shoving his armpit in my face. That, assuming the exasperated screech of “Can you pleeeeeasssse. Move. DOWN”, into an already jammed carriage, had actually worked this time. Urghh. Armpits.

DhPZEXaXkAE7tGKAnd so I’m not too proud to admit this. I took the ‘break glass in case of emergency option’. I’ve had it in the backpocket for a couple of months c/o Absolute Radio DJ Andy Bush but never quite had the guts to use it. Until now. But people seemed chatty. People seemed friendly. People seemed in a genuinely good humour. What was there to lose?

So I used it. Not once. But twice. On the overland and then the tube. Even better, it worked. Twice. A five commuter Mexican stand-off around the one available seat on the Jubilee line being won by my pointing to the badge and saying “Look, does anybody mind if I take that?”.

And then it got awkward. Getting up at my destination, a pregnant lady simultaneously stood up. She had her own, infinitley more legitimate, ‘baby on board’ badge. I didn’t know where to look as she clocked mine and said “Oh…

Cripes. The ground could have swallowed up. Her in genuine need (albeit having been given a seat) and me, a commuting charlatan. She continued, “I LOVE your badge. And I do miss it!”  Get in. Eric Dier, you beauty. You did this. I’m a Brentford fan but big up to the Spurs player and the whole team for achieving this level of bonhomie across the country.

Likewise, big thanks to Bush (below) and my fellow commuters for allowing me to reach the office fully refreshed. And you can follow him on Twitter, at @bushontheradio which I’d thoroughly recommend if you like football. Or radio.

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Everton fan Andy Bush is more than just a DJ

Anyway. Work was fine. Clients were chatty. The mood was great. The journey home a simple one. Indeed, the only sour note was stopping outside The Griffin on the way home to chew over the fat of the night before with landlord Gerhard. He seemed somewhat distracted, and understandably so.

A TV crew were filming on Brook Road south when this chap just pulled up in his van outside the access road, jumped out and left it there. Something that, I gather, also stopped Brentford fan engagement manager Ryan Murrant from being able to later perform a ‘U-turn’. How inconsiderate!

He (the van driver) seemed involved in some sort of fracas with the film crew because he kept going off to his vehicle before running back to them once more. Go figure??

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The film crew interrupted as people watching do nothing to help

The only other highlight of the evening was a now familiar face to the nation, Brentford fan Billy Grant of Beesotted, doing his TV thing once more. Live on BBC News 24 from what seemed like a Victorian parlour in the heart of Moscow. The amount of black and white framed pictures on the walls were as distracting as the random strangers that kept walking through the back of his shot. A Rucksack here; a backwards baseball cap there. Terrible manners. But ever the pro, Billy did his thing and regaled us with his own tales of ‘carnage’ and hugging strangers.

Great work, as ever, from Billy. Here’s to seeing what he has to say in the build-up to the Sweden game.

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Billy on the BBC jumbotron

 

Nick Bruzon

All of which brings us to the usual post article, P.S. The Last Word season /five-season reviews which remain available for download. ALL proceeds received are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust so why not help out this wonderful part of our club whilst providing yourself with some relief for the commute, the bathroom or just whilst relaxing on holiday.

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

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

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

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

Germans, Fawlty. Flaccid Mannschaft fail to make a semi for first time in 12 years.

28 Jun

Don’t mention the, the, the….VAR. (© the entire internet and newspaper industry). Curses. I feel dirty. Tried to resist it but the opportunity was so blatant and the open goal so gaping it would have been a crime not to jump on the ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina’ bandwagon of obvious post-defeat puns. But these are strange times. Wednesday’s action saw Germany finish bottom of their World Cup group after going down to South Korea, Brazil ease through the gears and England preparing for a Group G shoot out with Belgium. And, as ever, there’s a Brentford angle. Of sorts.

Just when you thought the World Cup couldn’t get any more exciting, it did. And how! We’ve already seen the likes of Argentina, Portugal and Spain make much harder work of qualifying than they would have been expected to after some quite scintillating group action. Seeded Poland are already out and yesterday afternoon in the biggest of all the shocks, not just for this tournament but in years, Germany were sent home after succumbing 2-0 to South Korea.

Talk about a (Joachim) Low point. The defeat saw them finish rock bottom of the qualifying group as, going for broke after Sweden cruised into an unassailable lead against Mexico, it became a case of win or bust. Two late goals – one reinstated thanks to use of VAR and the other with German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer caught upfield – meant this one was left firmly in the bust camp. That totally unusual, and in no way pleasurable, sight of their fans crying in the stands filling our screens.

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Stop. Sniggering. Please.

It was just bizarre. Yet at the same time, brilliant. How often have they swept all before them? The ruthless footballing machine that has claimed trophy after trophy. Despatched those crucial penalties with clinical ease? Invincible. Untouchable. All conquering. Until now. These demi-Gods of the global game, brought to their knees.

It is the first time in 12 years Germany have failed to reach the semi-final of a major tournament. As many twitter wags have already pointed out, who will now beat England on penalties? More importantly, it has thrown the tournament wide open whilst adding even more intrigue to tonight’s game with Belgium.

Specifically, the talk of finishing second being a seemingly more advantageous position to be in. The group winners go into the side of the draw that contains Brazil, Mexico, France, Argentina and Portugal in the knock out stages. The reward for second place is a knockout stage that currently features Spain, Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. With both sides on level points, goals scored and goal difference, should either fail to win then it will come down to who has the most bookings. At present, a draw will see England will top the pile based on their 2 yellow cards compared to Belgium’s 3.

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The BBC show how tight the group is.

Watching last night’s Brazil game on ITV, the subsequent panel discussion was all around this very point. Gary Neville and Ian Wright both stressing the benefits of the so called easier route (whilst failing to note that it also includes Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford and his Denmark team. I DID say it was an angle, of sorts). Let the big boys knock each other out.  

It is an option seemingly favoured by Belgian coach Roberto Martinez. His own interview suggested wholesale changes were in the offing and players protected. Unless my ears were deceiving me, I could have sworn his interview on ITV included references to it being what he deemed “A celebration game” where “the priority is not to win”.

Also in the geometric hell and magic eye puzzle that is the ITV studio, Slavan Bilic was ploughing a lone furrow. Go for broke. Keep the momentum. Win at all costs. Don’t disrupt the routine. Thing started to get a little bit Daily Mail at this point. Belgium will play the second string. It’s not English to do anything but go for it. The team will play to win. Gareth won’t rotate his squad etc etc

All I’ll say on the subject is that at 8/5 this morning, a price checked with my online bookmaker purely for research purposes, England would seem to be  very generous price. Then again, could it all be the ultimate in double bluffs from Martinez? Or is the safe and easy route against supposedly easier opposition, one they favoured in their own warm up games for the tournament, something that Belgium will look to try and follow once more.

Whilst one can’t imagine they’ll go out of their way to lose / throw the game, perhaps a cagey bore draw is all we have to look forward to. And if this is how things are looking as we head into the final fifteen, could there be a flourish of yellow cards? A bit of back chat here. A ball thrown away there. Just enough to ensure one team tip themselves into second place whilst remaining undefeated.

Then again, and has been said many times, yours truly is just the numpty on the terrace. Plenty of questions and no actual answers. Yet.

I can’t wait until 7(seven) pm when we find out what they are.

Nick Bruzon

PS Just a reminder that The Last Word season Reviews are now available for download. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute, by the pool on holiday or just in the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

Plus, pick one up before the end of June and go into the draw to win an exclusive Brentford shirt. PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your download confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

The Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races. As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

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

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

 

Brilliant Brentford surprise the fans, Germany do what Germany do and a selection headache for England.

24 Jun

I’m spent. The World Cup. That was the game that had it all. Most importantly, for Germany. A last, last gasp winner from Toni Kroos has resuscitated a qualification campaign which was on the verge of a fatal collapse. England get their chance today whilst back in West London, Brentford official have been doing their bit for the fans in quite wonderful style as the away shirt momentum builds.

First up, the World Cup. England play this lunchtime with supporters hopeful for another three points. A win will guarantee qualification for the knockout stages before playing Belgium. That’s no bad thing given the stake that was thrust into the ground yesterday. A 5-2 demolition of Tunisia, something that was at complete odds with the cagey second half between England and the North Africans.

The main talking point for this one has to be Gareth Southgate’s selection problem. What does he start with? Not so much the talk of leaked team sheets and his starting XI but more on the fashion front. Given his dislocated shoulder, can a waistcoat and a sling work?

Embed from Getty Images

 

What are the alternatives though? Might he go for the t-shirt favoured by Joachim Löw (although preferably without the lucky ‘scratch and sniff’ – all being well England won’t need a goal that badly). Perhaps a tracksuit top. With the heat reckoned to be up in the 30s this lunchtime (that’s over 90, in proper temperature) you can be sure he won’t be in a jacket.

As one radio observer has noted, whilst no doubt a smart image Gareth’s waistcoat look always puts one in mind of a guest at the latter stages of a wedding reception. I couldn’t agree more.  The jacket, slung on the back of a chair as Come On, Eileen entices people to the disco floor. And for clarity, that’s the chart-topper from Dexy’s Midnight Runners rather than a call for help from Glen Hoddle’s much maligned ‘psychic’, Drewery.

Yet however he looks, one thing is for sure.  I can’t look beyond England to win this one. It then boils down to who can hold their nerve in the game against Belgium. All that’s to come though. Yesterday saw the World Cup at both its finest and most heart-breaking. Poor Sweden. Relentless Germany. With five minutes of additional time signalled you just knew what would happen. Wave after wave of pressure had been resisted. Germany held on despite going down to ten men. Sweden were denied a seemingly blatant penalty. They even took the lead in the first half. And then they were torpedoed by a Kroos missile with what was just about the last kick of the game.

It was a game which had us all gripped. Even yours truly had hauled himself out of the arse groove in the sofa and forward to the edge of the seat. Could Sweden hang on? Would the German be going home early? Tabloid journos were already penning their headlines – ‘Don’t cry for me, Augenthaler’ from one Twitter wag being a favourite of mine.

The answer was a resounding NO. As emphatic a punch to the gut as these Teutonic Titans of World Football rose to the occasion once more. Reel out every cliché about Germany that you want. They’re all true. Viz comic had it spot on with a tweet they put up later that night.

Germany are still by no means through but they’ve kept themselves alive in as dramatic a style as could be imagined. One also needs to pay credit to the ITV commentary team (not a typo). Their second half reference of  ‘and for those of you just coming in from a day out....’ was a neat weekend spin on that classic World cup staple – “and for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…”. I still can’t forgive them for Glenn Hoddle but credit where it is due.

Ok – Brentford. The away shirt. I promised the other day that was me done on it and, in terms of trying to convince you of how magnificent it is, even I can accept that the haters are going to hate it. No amount of words will change that. Hopefully seeing it in the flesh will show how good it is.

Well, the club have responded to some of the feedback in quite magnificent style. Aswell as rewarding several of our younger and most loyal supporters with a surprise delivery, some of those who had been the most scathing have also received a present of a ‘hot off the production line’ new away kit in the post. Along with some Jaffa cakes. Amongst other things.

Supporter Adam Checkley had been one of those to vent his frustration when the shirts were revealed, claiming: that kit is awful! Looks like a Sainsbury’s uniform in 1980’s….keepers kit is great though. Brentford Bob had likened it to a pair of 70s underpants (amongst other, less repeatable, commentary on the subject). As for Sarah, (@BeesBabe195), only that morning she’d still been up in arms, saying: Trust me, I won’t be changing my mind about anything brown & orange. She even added, I don’t need to wait to see it. I know what I like, colour wise & it ain’t a combo of brown and orange.

Then the post man came knocking.

Fair play to Sarah, summing it all up in one tweet: A HUGE thank you to all @BrentfordFC for my fab surprise package! This is one of the very reasons I bloody love the club so much! I shall wear my shirt with pride & who knows, I may even dye my hair green!! I love you guys! 😁😍 You really have cheered me up today 🐝

And her sartorial verdict: Seen it & wearing it!!! 😉 It’s still not my favourite, but……… it’s growing!

She wasn’t alone. Upon receipt of his surprise package, Adam took to Twitter where he declared: blown away with the package this morning…our club is in very safe hands ! 👏🐝 It’s growing on me defo and a definite cult classic bees shirt. Later adding that: Will be up there with the Chad kit and yellow / Black kit as ones we’ll be talking about in 20 years

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Even Bob seemed to take his delivery in good humour, although there was was some (understandable) concern on the pants front:

Well, someone at @BrentfordFC does at least have a sense of humour.  Slightly concerning that they knew my pant size, and they’re in Fulham colours obvs.  I can confirm that the shirt looks even worse in the flesh and particularly bad on a fat man in his late forties. 🙂

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A new shirt and three pairs of pants

I love this. It’s brilliant. We all know the shirt has divided fans but what a way to respond. What a way to show your sense of humour. What a way to try and persuade people that it’s a lot nicer than they may have first thought. What a way to engage with supporters.

And on a completely unrelated note, may I be the first to say how much I loathe the new home shirt that we haven’t seen yet. I can only presume it looks like something that Bully might have worn on Bullseye. What a disgrace.

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Finally, please don’t forget that I’d like to give one supporter an ultra-rare 2017/18 ‘third shirt’ with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in EFL font. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop. Indeed, this has been given to me by a source close to the club.   

All you need to do is download one of the Last Word season reviews. This isn’t a get rich slow scheme for yours truly. All proceeds from any sales will go to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

To be in with a chance of owning this shirt, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 – details below – and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just PLEASE DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before an independent adjudicator will select a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

The Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races. As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

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

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. 

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THANK YOU

Nick Bruzon

Bees got that vibe as that man beats Robins.

2 Apr

Another Saturday, another win. Brentford eased past a hapless Bristol City side 2-0 as though they weren’t even there. And in truth, for most of their first half showing, they weren’t. It was another game where we were left waiting for the consummate 90 minute performance. That’s no criticism. Perhaps with the game well safe and Tuesday night’s visit from Leeds United in mind, one can understand us slipping back down into cruise control. At the end of the day, Clive, Dean Smith will rightly point to a clean sheet, a dominant (if somewhat restrained) display, two goals and a clean sheet. And I defy any fan to tell me they wouldn’t have taken that if offered before kick off?

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View from the Braemar – Romaine Sawyers got stuck in to City (c/o Tim Griffiths, thanks!)

As ever, get your full fat match reports on the BBC, Brentford official, Beesotted etc. Those of us that were there would have seen a game that was never in doubt from the off and was all but wrapped when Lasse Vibe doubled the scoreline on 26 minutes. This, after Sergi picked up where he’d left off at Burton Albion.

The spaniard’s opener one that Brentford fans were relieved to see in more ways than one after Joe Bryan had scythed through the wing wizard leaving him prostrate in agony. For a while it looked like our man of the moment was in all sorts of trouble. “I heard that one from up here”, one observer at the back of the Braemar Road would later note. For those of us on the touchline, right in front of where the incident occurred, there were most definitely hearts in mouths

You’re Donald Trump, you are”, shouted one young fan at referee Simon Hooper. The yellow card waved at the Bristol City man engendering the wrath of supporters who had been closer to the assault than the man in the middle. Thankfully, the enthusiastic young Bee (Sergi, rather than our own political commentator) was soon back on his feet to administer the perfect payback – an opening goal as he fired home from a parried free kick on 18 minutes.

Lasse Vibe soon made it two, heading home from a ball that was fired forward into the box, flicked up as it continued it’s journey to the back of the bet and finally steered home by the Great Dane. It was due reward not only for the Brentford faithful as for two IFK Göteborg fans who had come across to see their former favourite in action.

Interestingly, Lasse’s own own strike rate in Brentford colours of 0.367 (25 goals in 68) is now just behind that of Andre Gray on 0.38 (18 in 47). However, to see just how prolific he has been (Will Grigg supporters, please take note of this true definition of ‘on fire‘) , Brentford official nailed things wonderfully.

After that, we were all expecting it to be a question of how many Brentford chose to inflict upon the visitors. Instead, as the one-sided first half came to an end,  we sat back and waited for Leeds United. Sure, City hit the bar and the post in some rare sorties but, in truth, they could still be playing now and one can only imagine they’d have struggled to hit a barn door with a proverbial banjo. They really were that far out of their depth.

As ever, Sky TV have the video highlights up already. Alternatively, the official highlights are longer, have the commentary from none other than our own Mark Burridge and, more importantly, are now available to all.

We’ve got that Vibe. And that Canos. And Mark Burridge

Outside the ground, there was a stranger than usual vibe. Choruses of  “No surrender, No surrender to the IRA” ringing around the beer garden of The Griffin in a somewhat unusual choice of prematch song from Robin’s supporters. Seriously? In 2017 this one seemed about thirty years past its sell by date. Likewise, whilst perhaps more understandable, there seemed to be a lot of agitation towards Bristol Rovers. This is Brentford. Who? Cares?

As the aforementioned Braemar Road observer would also note – “How bad do things have to be that you hate, actually HATE, Bristol Rovers?” . A team about as inoffensive to most as pink unicorns or the Care Bears.  Despite the divisional gap (for now) it did seem as though they had somewhat of a huge inferiority complex. Yeah, we get it. You hate Bristol Rovers. Yawn.  Then again, geography counts for a lot. An awful lot. Perhaps Rovers being to City as Mrs Brown and her boys or the Loftus Road mob are to yours truly.

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City supporters in happier mood at full time, despite sliding down (the table)

Oh well, perhaps they can sort it out amongst themselves in League One next season. That’s assuming City aren’t overtaken, of course. With Rovers just two wins away from the League One play offs, there’s only one point separating fourth bottom City from the relegation places in the Championship. As for Brentford, we’re up to twelfth and the knowledge that a win over Leeds United on Tuesday night could see us back in the top ten.

Beating Leeds United will be a huge ask, of course. But their own defeat to play-off rivals Reading yesterday shows it is possible, despite the goal scoring prowess of Chris Wood. With a place in the play offs all but assured, can we use this one to continue our own upward trajectory? The Bees are three points clear of QPR and Fulham have to be next in the sights. With games against both still to come, the crown of Championship kings of West London (one worn by the Bees last season) is still, mathematically, up for grabs.

If anybody was in any doubt as to what we still have to play for, Beesplayer commentator par excellence Mark Burridge summed things up perfectly once the dust had settled . “Still lots to play for, another top 10 finish & win the derby games – so much to look forward to for Brentford FC fans next season too” he opined on social media.

Well said, Mark. With just 7(seven) games to go, the season still has plenty to offer. On Tuesday night at Griffin Park we find out how much.

Nick Bruzon 

As Ipswich visit Brentford, Charlton go mad and Solo goes home.

13 Aug

Finally. Match day at Griffin Park. Brentford entertain Ipswich Town with the smart money wondering just which of our players they’ll attempt to break this time around (hey, we may aswell get it out early). Charlton Athletic, already as popular as a Mexican at Donald Trump rally, have ‘gone again’ whilst, with Lasse Vibe continuing his quest for Olympic gold, USA goalkeeper Hope Solo has done her very best to make events at the Valley seem (relatively) sane.

First up though, we can only start with the Bees where Ipswich Town are the first visitors to Griffin Park in 2016/17. It would be fair to say that Brentford very much ended with the advantage over Ipswich last time around.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)
 
Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

Bru Ipswich Brentford

Bru celebrated (too soon) as Ipswich opened the scoring last season

 

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other pubs are available too

 

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Nick Bruzon

Who has the best kit at EURO 2016 as Jonathan Pearce misses an open goal.

14 Jun

With the memory of the England – Russia game and all those appalling scenes that went with it moving further away from us, last night it was the turn of Belgium and Italy to do (footballing) battle. There was a glorious opportunity for Jonathan Pearce in the earlier game featuring Ireland and Sweden whilst Brentford devotees Dave Lane and Billy Grant (of course, the boys from Beesotted) have continued spreading the word about events in Marseille.

First up though, Jonathan Pearce who was at the helm when Ireland kicked off their campaign. I had special interest in this game, and moreso because I was going to be on a commuter train rather than sat in front of the TV. This would be the first chance for use of that commentating staple from tournaments, “And for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…”

You never hear this line at any other time except during a World Cup or European Championships. Despite it being clear for all to see in the top left corner, expect it to come out somewhere between 6.10pm and 6.20pm.

Except no. Not Jonathan. Maybe it was a reaction to being saddled with Mark Lawrenson. Perhaps he was distracted by what sounds like an incredible anecdote about a mirror. Talking about the World Cup in 1994, my sources tell that he explained to viewers how,  “I was speaking to someone and I went back a year later to the same place and realised it was a mirror.”

Seriously? Anyone? The only thing more bizarre being the reaction of Lawro who, rather than pick up the commentator on the lunacy of what he had just said, dead panned back “Was it a big mirror?

To be fair, judging by his normal look, you can understand the co-commentator being unfamiliar with the purpose of a mirror. Either way, an open goal, missed. ITV have the baton now. Austria – Hungary is the game at 5pm.

Next up, Beesotted. We mentioned them in yesterday’s article but their great work continues. Us Brentford supporters know what they can do but their influence has now spread wider. Billy Grant appeared on BBC Radio 5 live last night to talk about what he had seen in Marseille whilst Dave has produced their latest blog.

Whilst these pages are, largely, nonsense and fun, based out amongst the footballing action in France Beesotted are cutting straight to the heart of the matter. PLEASE do take a look at what they have to say for a much more balanced view on events than some of the media would have you believe. That blog, including links to the podcast, went up yesterday.

OK, kit. Last night’s Belgium game drew as many gasps of admiration for the Belgium shirt as it did for the two Italian goals. (I’m still in shock by the quality of the pass and subsequent control for their opener. Oh, wow).

But it got me thinking, what are the best kits EURO 2016 has to offer? So here, in no more scientific order than personal preference, are my top eight. And the worst.

8: Ukraine home. Almost tartan yellow. They’d argue it is plaid. Either way an understated niceness.

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7(seven): Iceland away. Not just the style but anything that looks like the kit worn in ‘Escape to victory’ can only be a good thing.

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6: Wales home. A classical elegance, as one Ealing Road wag noted last night.

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5: Germany home. A very 70’s look for the current World Champions

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4: Spain away. So bonkers it’s brilliant.

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3: Switzerland away. It’s all a bit France ’84

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2: Belgium home. Would have been number one but the yellow is just a touch too neon. Still a thing of beauty though

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1: Belgium away. Is that Eddie Merckx? Kitman Bob, are you reading (it is made by adidas)? This is just sumptuous.

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And the worst….

Russia away. Looking like somebody has taken a giant sneeze on it when viewed from a distance of more than five yards away, I can’t help but feel they are massively overcompensating for something with that oversized national emblem printed into the design.

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Nick Bruzon

Plug time :  As for Brentford news, well the tumbleweed continues. The most I can do is guide you towards eBay where there are a number of unusual Bees shirts on sale at the moment (and none of which this kit nerd will be bidding for – season tickets don’t pay for themselves).

Alternatively,The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.

 

A real Löw point for EURO2016. But we have some inside men

13 Jun

We don’t do the serious stuff on these pages. It’s normally just a bit of nonsense about Brentford, perhaps with a bit of the national team thrown in. With Euro 2016 alive and kicking (quite literally) I couldn’t bring myself to do it yesterday. The scenes from the Russia fans and the attacks on England supporters, with the obvious and somewhat familiar retaliation, have left a rather sick feeling in the stomach.

More to the point, I’m not there. Who to believe? What to believe? A vile English minority or self-defence?

The media have been quick to jump on the England hooligans  ‘shaming a nation’ bandwagon. Perhaps true, to an extent, but the more you read the more it sounds a bit different this time.

Gangs of French ultras roaming the streets starting unprovoked attacks on those English fans they’ve targeted. Russian thuggery. A flare gun fired at England supporters during the 1-1 draw on Saturday night (there was a game, by the way). A flare gun? Amid all the terror alerts and security. After all the violence. How on earth do you get a gun of any description into a stadium?

Talk of reactive French police. Police who had taken no advice beforehand and then waded in indiscriminantly afterwards.And come 2018 we’ve got a World Cup in Russia

All in all , whoever you believe to be at fault, some pretty depressing scenes and thought provoking stuff.

Thankfully, for us Brentford fans we have our two ‘inside men’ on the scene. Billy Grant and Dave Lane from Beesotted are out in France, trying to enjoy the football but also doing their domestic thing, continental style.

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Have selfie stick, will travel

Armed with nothing more than a selfie stick, a camera and a laptop they are keeping the website running and bringing us regular reports on what is really going on. And there are some pretty shocking scenes.

Great work , chaps. Please keep it up. Here’s hoping you’ve got a happier story to report soon. And in the meantime, for those who haven’t seen it their update on the trouble in Marseille is here. The video is close to a million hits already. Understandably so.

So what else have we learned so far? Never shake hands with Joachim Low. He was caught doing the old ‘scratch and sniff’ during last night’s Germany v Ukraine. A game the Germans took 2-0, for the record.

Did the Ukraine manager shake hands at full time?

Will Grigg isn’t on fire. Despite being one of several ex-Bees involved in the Poland – Northern Ireland squads, the Poles ran out 1-0 winners. And it seems that Stuart Dallas hasn’t got the memo about #Beardclub having been disbanded. He’s looking less hipster and more Rasputin these days.

Tonight sees the first chance of that classic tournament line, “And for those of you just coming in from work, the score is…” being trotted out. The game : Republic of Ireland v Sweden. the place: BBC1. Expect that to be used at about 6.15pm tonight . Despite the score being clearly available in the top left hand corner of the screen .

As for Brentford news, well the tumbleweed continues. The most I can do is guide you towards eBay where there are a number of unusual Bees shirts on sale at the moment (and none of which this kit nerd will be bidding for on pain of death – not literally, but season tickets don’t pay for themselves).

Alternatively,The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of the pain induced by Stroud and the fallout from that penalty’ you can do so now.

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

Thanks for reading.

Nick Bruzon