Tag Archives: Tales from the football village

Sparkly boots, club records and poison chalices – a brief history of (recent) time

21 Oct

Brentford take on Wolves at Molineux tonight. That’s the simple fact but to supporters there’s so much more to it. Over the last few seasons, games against Wolves have been at the forefront of those that Brentford fans have been looking forward to as the stand outs on the fixture list.

Wolves, of course, are a club with a huge fanbase, a cracking stadium and a great reputation. It is the sort of set up most teams could only aspire to yet, if we are being honest, they haven’t always lived up to that reputation on the pitch. No moreso than back in 2013/14 when they found themselves alongside Brentford in League One.

That, of course, the season that we finally escaped the lower tiers with a club record 94 points and went on that humungous unbeaten midseason run. One which was, of all teams, ended by Wolves at Griffin Park as they made no mistake when it counted – running out 3-0 victors in February’s top of the table clash. Whilst our two teams stayed neck and neck for most of the campaign, their class eventually showed and they deservedly scooped the title with a staggering 104 points.

Even then, they still played key role in our promotion. A 6-4 victory (only one short of doing it with brackets- I’d have probably self-combusted at 7(seven)) over Rotherham meaning that Steve Evans team would be unable to catch us in third place. At the same time, ensuring that the post Preston pitch invasion hadn’t been a somewhat premature and embarrassing one.

Confirmation of Wolves beating Rotherham saw us officially promoted after our own win over Preston

Confirmation of Wolves beating Rotherham saw us officially promoted from League One

That said, prior to and even during the early part of that season, there were a lot of sneering and arrogant comments from a small part of the opposition support. That’s football but the simple fact was that whatever their past and size, Wolves were playing the likes of Brentford for a good reason – they hadn’t been good enough so had suffered successive relegation.

If we are being equally honest, a massive respect seemed to grow between our two clubs. Nobody was stupid enough to pretend that, historically, Wolves aren’t one of English football’s bigger teams. Indeed, their most recent stint in the top flight had only ended in 2011/12 after three seasons. Yet on the pitch we were going neck and neck.

Then, last season, it all went bonkers. After a slow start to Championship life, Mark Warburton’s Bees hit overdrive and a 4-0 thumping of Wolves at Griffin Park was enough to take us up to third place aswell as securing him the poison chalice of ‘Manager of the Month’ . It was a game played in a stunning atmosphere – before, during and after – and one which more than lived up to the hype that surrounded Bakary Sako’s crystal encrusted golden boots.

Bakary Sako's boots failed to sparkle

Bakary Sako’s boots failed to sparkle

Former Bees boss Leroy Rosenior nailed things on the BBC Football League Show later that evening when discussing the game with Manish. He mentioned that a supporter had approached him the previous weekend saying, “Leroy, who would have thought we’d be beating Fulham at home, be challenging for a place in the Premier League, have a new stadium around the corner after you managed us.”

As Manish commented, “The only way was up from there”.

Whilst the reverse encounter saw Wolves run out 2-1 winners the following month, both sides kept their form despite tough fixtures and (for us) the frustration of Village-gate. Indeed, that crazy final day of the season that saw Derby and Ipswich self-destruct, allowed Brentford into the play-offs whilst, at one point in the afternoon, the results were also going Wolves’ way. In the end, they finished 7th(seventh), missing out on goal difference. However, for both our teams it had been one of the most exciting seasons on record, given the chance to test ourselves at a higher level.

Coming bang up to date, Brentford haven’t had the brightest of starts for reasons that have been well documented on these pages already. That said, victory on Saturday at home to Rotherham United sees us only four points behind a Wolves team who currently occupy 12th place. And with our own trip to hapless Charlton on Saturday, victory tonight would be a priceless one in reigniting our own campaign.

Can we do it? Despite all the good form over our recent campaigns, the Bees have only picked up one point and one goal from Molineux whilst we’ve been trading blows. Those two seasons may have had more incidents than some club’s entire histories but we have found the away trip a tough one

Then again, will the pressure of expectation show on a home side who got humped 4-2 at the weekend and have lost over a third of their league games already? Being honest, I’d take the draw. Being realistic, I haven’t got a clue which way this one is going to go.

At 7.45pm, we find out.

Alan Judge got both goals on Saturday. Can he keep up that strike rate?

Alan Judge got both goals on Saturday. Can he keep up that strike rate?

Nick Bruzon

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Is there anybody left to pick for the Preston game?

19 Sep

Brentford entertain Preston North End today, looking to get back to winning ways after the draw at Leeds United and midweek defeat away to Middlesbrough. But, it seems, our well-documented injury list has got even worse with Maxime Colin the latest to be added, if reports are to be believed.

Maxime Colin - may be back in the stands for the Preston game

Maxime Colin – may be back in the stands for the Preston game

I like Thursdays. That’s ‘media day’ at Brentford and so it means the local press get to quiz players and management about the forthcoming games. The follow-up articles generally contain a lot of decent material, with genuine quotes rather than the rumours of ‘double transfer swoops’ that occupy so much more of the rest of their space during the week.

So fairplay to West London’s premier journalist Tom Moore who, ahead of the Preston game, has put together his own list of the latest injury news after quizzing Marinus. In an article that I am sure most Brentford fans have already seen, our head coach admits he’s struggling with the bench whilst the aforementioned Colin suffered a blow in training.

The update from Marinus being that, “He just blocked a ball with his knee. It’s possible he could play but it’ll depend how he wakes up”.

Meanwhile, Jota will be out for another three – four weeks minimum, Sam Saunders isn’t even training with the squad (for fitness reasons, nothing personal) whilst James Tarkowski has a calf problem although is hoped to be back next week.

Jota won't be rushing into action any time soon

Jota won’t be rushing into action any time soon

On the plus side, reports around Josh McEachran and Lewis Macleod both sound a lot more positive whilst Nico Yennaris is fit. Repeat. Nico IS fit.

This news was slightly tempered by Marinus not being drawn on whether the player would be in the squad, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

Brentford fan and author Luis Adriano (whose football based psychological thriller ‘Penalties’ is currently available) gets the award for ‘tweet of the week’. Whilst Tom Moore’s article provides a great overview of the current scenario, Luis nails it in less than the obligatory 140 characters allowed by twitter, with this observation:

Top tweeting from Luis Adriano

Top tweeting from Luis Adriano

I can’t help but admire the brave face being put on things by Marinus, given he is having every plan ruined by factors well outside of his control. By all accounts the first XI gave an admirable showing against Middlesbrough but the squad is getting thinner and thinner. Any coach can legislate for a few absences, but to have a dozen key players missing for an assortment of injury related reasons would spanner anybody.

Equally, one does have to wonder how much of this is bad luck and whether any is of our own making? Whilst one would sincerely hope the former, it is somewhat frustrating that Macleod, McEachran, and Colin have all been taken out against our own players (or twigs, in the case of the former). And that’s just who we know about for sure.

On Tuesday night at Middlesbrough we could only name six substitutes instead of the permitted 7(seven). And that included two goalkeepers. Now Maxime may be out, too. It’s getting to the point we may just have to stick our players in the deep freeze for a week and then begin the defrosting process on a Friday night. How else could we keep them from further harm before the next big game?

Of course, this will never happen. Cryogenic technology has not yet advanced sufficiently to allow the reanimation process to have even been successfully tested on lab rats. Indeed, it is not thought that scientists will be ready to attempt such a procedure until 2045.

Hopefully even Lewis Macleod will be fit by then.

Nick Bruzon

Bees have nothing to lose and everything to gain at Middlesbrough

15 Sep

Brentford complete their mini-break away from West London, with the game against Middlesbrough following hot on the heels of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leeds United. But will it be a case of ‘Grim Up North’ or coming back home with some more positive news after last season’s footballing lesson at the hands of the Smoggies?

Brentford, of course, surprised most observers in reaching the Play-Offs last season. Those of us present saw a team punching well above their weight as household names and, so called, ‘big clubs’ were dispatched with all the ease of a supporter polishing off a balti pie i.e. easily. The Bees trounced the likes of Wolves, Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United as we came dangerously close to emulating Bournemouth and reaching the Premiership.

But Middlesbrough were a different kettle of fish. Over four games, including the two-legged Play-Off semi, Brentford ended up on the wrong end of a 10-1 aggregate scoreline. Middlesbrough won all four games, including a 4-0 league victory at the Riverside that Mark Warburton would later say “wasn’t acceptable, especially after the break when we weren’t good enough”.

View from the terrace - Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last time out

View from the terrace – Middlesbrough proved tough opponents last time out

For all that Warbs was a hero to many and did some wonderful things with his team, when it came to Middlesbrough we were most definitely second place. But can Marinus do any better?

Well, that was then and this is now. Whilst it is nice to recognise previous results when they go your way, they are nothing more than a statistical nicety used purely (and there’s nothing wrong with that) to remind the opposition of previous dominance.

But when it comes down to it, current form is the only thing of particular relevance. Whatever happened last season is done. Middlesbrough and Brentford find themselves both locked in the Championship hoping for another crack at promotion.

There wasn't much, beyond this, to smile about last season

There wasn’t much, beyond this, to smile about last season

Boro’ are in third place already, behind runaway leaders Brighton and Cardiff City (Hmmm. That’ll last). They’ve picked up 11 points from 6 games, including 3 wins. Interestingly, their solitary defeat was at home to Bristol City. That’ll be the same team Brentford recorded their first win of the season against, with the 4-1 hammering at Ashton Gate. Mind you, that was also our only win of the season as the other four games have seen two draws and two losses.

Nobody gives us a chance. Certainly, outside of TW8. But then that’s the way I like it. Even my online bookmaker (who I use purely for reference purposes), has the Bees as 9/2 to pick up all three points. It wasn’t going to be easy, let alone midweek when there’ll be only a handful of the super loyal present (at one point, it was touch and go as to whether a coach would even be running).

Full marks to them for making this most torturous of trips. Especially off the back of the weekend when we’d have been denied the luxury of being able to stay in the region. It’s been a while since the odds and situation have been so heavily stacked against us, yet the optimistic part of me thinks this could be the night. And simply because nobody gives us a prayer.

There’s nothing like home support, expecting a massacre, to get frustrated when it fails to materialise. And as we know, that can transmit to the players. I expect Marinus to have the defensive handbrake on full lock today and then look to catch Middlesbrough on the break.

Then again, that’s what most people expect. Could he shock us all and go for all out attack? Looking to create chances at Leeds United on Saturday certainly worked, even if we weren’t quite able to finish them all off.

Ultimately, I haven’t a clue. I’m just the numpty on the terrace but you can be sure I’ll be glued to Beesplayer this evening to follow all the action. It might not be pretty. It certainly won’t be easy. But after last season’s 4 defeats, could it be different?

At 7.45, we find out…..

Nick Bruzon

Great work, all round, from the Brentford FC family

27 Jul

Fresh from the win over Stoke City on Saturday, the excitement levels amongst Brentford fans have cranked up another level with the arrival of season tickets and membership packs. And it has to be said they are nothing but impressive with congratulations due to all concerned! This really is an effort of Premier League levels!

We’ll get on to all of that along with a few other mentions in a moment but, first, the other stuff from the Stoke City game.

Stuart Dallas and his wonder strike for the second goal. Watching it again on the YouTube highlights I couldn’t help but have my eye drawn to something in the crowd. Had somebody lost a bet? Are things that bad up the road that they are fleeing the sinking ship like rats? Or was it simply a sartorial ‘faux pas’ that was realised only once en-route to Griffin Park?

Answers on a postcard

Answers on a postcard

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

Blue Monday – are we looking a bit Chelsea (away from home)?

29 Jun

So after all the anticipation, the full design spec of the Brentford away shirt (expected to be revealed on Monday) remains a mystery. Of sorts.

Instead of the full kit, we were treated to a teaser picture along with the description on the club site of “bold blue away shirts”. As fans awaited the long hoped for unveiling, at 3.45pm ‘official’ Twitter could only confirm : We are still waiting to get confirmation regarding the home and away kits.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

The away kit 'teaser'

The away kit ‘teaser’

We've worn various blues 'away' from home before

We’ve worn various blues ‘away’ from home before

 

Transfer leak confirmed by video clue – Konstantin Kerschbaumer to join Bees

27 Jun

The rumour mill was in full effect at Griffin Park on Friday as it seemed Brentford have signed another midfielder. This, after a picture appeared on Twitter via Sam Boyd (@Boydy1994) showing a mystery man holding ‘the signing scarf’ aloft, pitch side, with Chris Wickham in attendance.

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

 

Who is the scarf waving enigma? And where did this picture come from?

Who is the scarf waving enigma? And where did this picture come from?

 

An awkward situation is avoided. For now…

11 Jun

Wednesday saw a potentially awkward situation for Brentford fans avoided (one hopes) after former boss Mark Warburton, the odds on favourite to be next manager at Rangers, distanced himself from reports suggesting he was in line to replace Kit Symons at Fulham. Clearly his stock is in demand, having spent the latter part of last season being linked with all manner of positions – even doomed QPR were on the agenda – and nothing has changed since.

My own hopes are that Warbs does end up at Rangers. It would be a fantastic challenge, an incredible long-term opportunity and one which a man of his ability would relish. Additionally, if Mark does find his way to Ibrox it he means he is no longer managing in the Championship.

Frankly, I don’t want him doing his best to scupper our own promotion prospects.

 

To read the rest of this article, season 2015/16 is now available to download onto Kindle (and other electronic reading device) in full, as :   Ready. Steady. Go Again. : Brentford FC season review 2015 – 2016

Thanks for reading and all your comments over the course of the season. For now, it’s the annual clean up to make more space on the site for the inevitable follow up. However, ‘close season’ will continue in full, further along.

But wait, like all the best infomercials, there’s more. The last three seasons of the Last Word : Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup; Tales from the football village and Ready. Steady. Go Again are also available in one combined volume as: 

Brentford Football Club – The Bees are going up. Season reviews: 2013/14, 2014/15 & 2015/16 

We did. And we still are ! 

Farewell to the king as season wraps up

26 May

What a Bank Holiday Monday. Mr Brentford, Kevin O’Connor, has officially ‘hung up his boots’ whilst over at Wembley, Norwich City made an immediate return to the Premiership after ousting Middlesbrough 2-0. And then there was more managerial intrigue at Griffin Park where the name of Marinus Dijkhuizen was the one on everybody’s lips after Jurgen Klopp’s admission he could order a beer in Spanish seemed to rule him out.

Jurgen Klopp. Sorry, but before we get any further that does just bear repeating. Even to be mentioned in the same breath is utterly bonkers yet, at the same time, symptomatic of how fast Brentford are accelerating. Talking to a source close to the club this morning, there is no official news out there yet although a tongue in cheek thought that, now Carlo Ancelotti has been sacked by Real Madrid, could his sudden availability cause any shortlist to be redrawn?

Middlesbrough. Whatever you feel about the way they kicked us off the park and ran down the clock, I do need to spare a thought for their fans after yesterday’s Championship play off final. Nobody wants to go through that and, perhaps, Brentford most of all can share that pain after eight unsuccessful attempts to get promoted in this fashion.

Warbs was on the Sky Sports pundits panel (as Harry's knee seems to have recovered)

Warbs was on the Sky Sports pundits panel (as Harry’s knee seems to have recovered)

Worse, it means a return to arms for ‘that drum’ next season. I’ve long been an advocate of the thought that musical instruments should not be allowed within 100 yards of a football stadium (see also: Yeovil, Portsmouth – bell, Bernie Clifton’s alleged England supporters alleged band). The supporter equivalent of ‘goal music’, any team needing these to kickstart the atmosphere need to take a look at themselves.

On the plus side, it gives us a chance to test ourselves against a team who, being fair, probably gave us the hardest time of any other opponents all season. 4-0 and 1-0 defeats in the league were followed by 2-1 and 3-0 reverses in the play off semis. Just as I enjoyed showing Wolves how far we’d come since last season (the 4-0 home win being the last thing they probably expected) I’m already keen to see how we fare against Boro’ next time around. Whoever out of Klopp, Dijkhuizen, Ancelotti, Warburton (you never know), Redknapp (leftfield, but…) this is one encounter that is going to be key to our season 2015/16.

But one person who won’t be playing any part, on pitch, is club captain Kevin O’Connor. Social media was awash with tributes after the club finally got a hashtag spot on and made the following announcement :

no comment needed

no comment needed

What can you say? If ever there was somebody that typified a team, that had been through the lows and the highs, that wore his heart on his sleeve but always played the game in the fairest possible style – it’s King Kev. So few players see out their career at one club but Kevin, in his 501 games, has joined that elite group.

Even during the hullabaloo of, and subsequent fallout from, ‘that penalty’ he did nothing but carry himself with the utmost of dignity. Yet how sweet was it to see him nail that last minute spot kick in the play off semi final at Swindon in the very next game?

Over his 501 games, Kevin has played in just about every position for Brentford. Except goal. But even that almost happened – certainly if you were to believe Hayes & Yeading from a few years ago.

Could King Kev have ended up playing in goal?

Could King Kev have ended up playing in goal?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Kevin will know what an absolute gentleman he is. Whether lining up with the fans to try and buy a beer (that didn’t happen) at the impromptu street part following promotion against Preston, just stopping for a chat in Braemar Road after a game or at the pre-season fans’ days. Whatever the occasion he has always taken the time to welcome the supporters.

Kevin – you’ll be missed on pitch but, at the least, your legacy continues in the new role at Griffin Park. Thanks for all the good times.

And finally, if anybody is looking for some holiday reading or just wants to reflect on what has been, frankly, an incredible season then the 2014/15 review is now available for download. Featuring the least bad bits of the Last word, some poor editing and even a bit of new material you can get it here for less than the price of a Griffin Park Balti pie or matchday programme.

Thanks for reading – here’s to pre season.

Available - now. If you fancy the season in one , pocket size, place

Available – now. If you fancy the season in one , pocket size, place