Tag Archives: The Bees

Live action, team news and transfer talk. Phil and Trevor’s Saturday afternoon takeaway had it all.

5 Apr

Saturday, 3pm. The most action packed afternoon in Brentford since we put five goals past Sheffield Wednesday. That, the last time there was any meaningful football related action in the vicinity of Griffin Park before the full Coronavirus lockdown began cranking up to the point we are now in. Sitting at home (or taking allowed exercise a safe distance from each other) and dreaming of the day that the beautiful game may return. Wondering how many we’d have won by at Fulham had that game not been called off hours before kick-off. Hoping we get a chance to play out the remainder of a campaign that has been one of the most thrilling on record. From Leeds United starting like a train, falling apart (again) before re-establishing themselves through to our own philosophy of goals, goals, goals that had taken us to the very fringe of the ‘automatic’ places. Then everything just stopped.

My word. Hasn’t life changed? Days merging into days. Social isolation very much the way of modern existence. Not even living, in the traditional sense, but more existing from one day to the next. That’s how it feels at times and is a small price to pay for not dying, I suppose. Let’s never forget those key workers battling on the metaphorical frontline or keeping those services we so often take for granted up and running. It’s not so much the staying indoors as the not knowing when it will all end. When life will return to normal. If, indeed, it ever can to the same extent as what we’ve enjoyed prior to all of this. 

That’s the gloom out of the way. Yesterday was fun. Yesterday had football. Yesterday had Brentford doing what we do best – interacting with supporters on a face-to-face basis. Rather than kicking off against Wigan (“I think we’d have won that, Dad” – HB’s considered verdict), 3pm saw the live webcast with Director of football Phil Giles facing off to 200+ Bees fans aswell as a couple of what we’ll politely call ‘randoms’ – think a humour level that would make Mrs. Brown’s Boys seem like Morecambe and Wise.

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Phil faces off to fans

 Hats off to Trevor Inns and the GPG for setting this up. Nobody seemed quite sure how it would work but after the opening few minutes had seen interlopers, barking dogs and racists ejected we were all well into the flow. Phil taking questions on anything and everything Brentford related from a video wall resembling a giant version of the Celebrity Squares game board. No limits being placed on what could be asked and no punches pulled in the answers being given.

There was talk of the relationship between Pontus and Rasmus that had seen the players make the decision to defer wages after our Captain had heard about what was happening at Leeds United. Likewise, how his move from Elland Road had been the easiest bit of transfer business we’d ever completed.

Phil telling us that his preference would unquestionably for the season to be played out, whenever that may be. Even though contract situations may then cause complications with, legally, any club surely having their hands tied in retaining players.

That the continuation of the season would ideally not be behind closed doors – the difference between playing that way and in front of supporters described in unequivocal detail. 

Phil explained how the players were staying fit and engaged. How Thomas was in constant contact with them. How some of the B team – youngsters away from their families – had returned home.

He talked about  his own role, about Matthew Benham, about finances and about the new stadium. There was hope for those wanting to see a return to Griffin Park as it was discussed how we were obliged , by league rules, to finish the campaign in the same stadium as we had started it. Albeit noting that Tottenham seem to have circumnavigated that regulation.

There was even team news with the confirmation that Pontus was definitely fit for Fulham, Phil understanding that he would have started that one.  

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what was discussed. A close to two hour chat seeing everybody being give the chance to ask what they wanted. A session that as supporter Paul Reddick noted on Twitter afterwards, meant :  “I actually forgot about COVID-19 for a couple of hours so well done for that”.  Hear! Hear!

For me there was the additional aspect of a peek behind the curtains. A look into the front rooms (and back gardens) of those who switched on their webcams. Who was that making Malteser cakes? Dave Lane enjoying a quite delicious looking beer. It was all happening in Greville Waterman’s kitchen at one point whilst others just kicked back with a cup of tea waiting their chance to ask a question or simply take in all the information. And was Adam Hobbs really in the pub or was it a case of digital trickery as he phased in and out of existence in the foreground?

In all seriousness, it was just so nice to see those familiar faces once more. Many of whom we knew. Others, recognisable by sight from a Saturday afternoon. For this reason alone, it felt even more engaging. 

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If you are going to take part, why not make the most of it?

All being well the technology exists to play this back out. Certainly, there was a ‘recording’ light in the top corner. Otherwise, Billy Reeves kept his journalistic skills well honed, transcribing the chat to Twitter. You can pick up his thread here. Being honest, and I apologise now if I have misquoted Phil from memory, it’ll be more accurate than these fuzzy recollections.

It simply remains to say huge thanks to Phil, the club, Trevor and his team in bringing this to the fans. To making a Saturday afternoon feel as ‘normal’ as it possibly could in the circumstances. Of giving us all a chance to do what we do so well as a club – talking to fans. Of allowing the supporters an opportunity to come together.

Here’s to the next one where I understand a certain Mad Dog will be in attendance……..  

Nick Bruzon

A morning with Matt, afternoon with Phil and evening with wine. Plus ‘teaching’ on the fly.

4 Apr

It’s been a bit of an up and down week this time around. And we’re the lucky ones – I’m well, well aware of that. We’ve a park across the road from the house and I’ve been able to get out to both do running solo and exercise (football) with Harry. He’s now decided that he’s David Raya whilst I’m anything but Sam Saunders. “Sam Stupid more like, dad”, as another precision free kick is expertly stopped by the young Spanish wannabe or, more usually, sliced dangerously close to those invisible two metre exclusion zones orbiting others who are out and about. We should be preparing for Brentford v Wigan. Instead, we’re reduced to channeling our inner heroes as the floodlights loom over us from  the other side of St. Paul’s Park. Offering up a teasing reminder that football is so close yet so far. The nearest I got to that was doubling up with Nottingham Forest fan Matt Dyson on Absolute Radio this week, for the best possible reasons…

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‘Raya’ models his 2021/22 shirt during designated ‘exercise’ time as ‘Stupid’ spoons one wide.

Things could be a lot, lot worse. Reading stories in the press about people trapped in cramped hostel accommodation or even just looking out of the front room window to the tower blocks on the horizon, one can’t even begin to imagine how tough it is out there. Likewise, abroad where conditions everywhere from Italy to India make our situation seem like a stroll in the park. No pun intended.

Instead, my challenge is that of trying to combine being a teacher, good husband, quiz master, motivator (H is taking all of this really hard – especially the not being able to mix with other kids part ) with that of working ten hour days online and trying to maintain some form of normality. Whether that be in terms of routine or cooking. The later something I normally love and now has an added element of ‘challenge’ given the supply situation and no longer being able to “Just nip down to the shops” for those essential items that we’re always short of. Cripes, let’s add menu planning and preparation to the list of first world problems.

Then again, necessity is the mother of invention. The bread machine that has sat on the side for the last few years has suddenly sprung back in to life. Thanks only to an ongoing commitment, and failure, to use the thing so we’ve had a permanent supply of flour and yeast in the house which has gone untouched. All of a sudden it’s worth it’s weight in unintentional gold.  Sadly, those supplies seem very finite with no chance of being replaced although at least we have some form of toast and sandwiches. Of all the luxuries I’d miss it is alcohol, peanut butter and fresh bread which are very much at the top of the list.

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History lessons

But we digress. Food and booze. It’s where my mind is at the moment. I have both at the moment. I have exercise. I have a family around me . Albeit one who are finding this tough. Harry is carrying the monkey he’s had since birth around with him all the time, even to class. We’re really winging it as teachers. Some of which is fun and some of which is hard work. History lessons very much becoming case of fact mixed with fiction. Of being told that my original iPod “looks so old fashioned dad” . Art lessons are loaded on to YouTube by my brother. Inspiration for creative writing coming from author Lisa Thompson every Monday morning at 9.30am on Instagram live. 

People keep banging on about Joe Wicks. It’s good to see him branching out since that stint on TV’s Eastenders but not for me. Or Harry – and he has tried but told me that he got tired after a minute. Hmm. This is the same Harry who complains when the hour in the park is over or who is launching himself into Mrs. Bruzon’s DIY bootcamp sessions in the back yard? But stick Lisa in front of him and he’s engaged. Asking questions online and writing stories all week. You can find her page, here.

So we’re winging it. We’re lucky, all things considered. But this is still nowhere near ‘normal’ life. When home doubles up as both the office and the classroom it’s hard to separate the day as the various aspects of modern life all bleed in to each other. When do work or education end and fun begin? How on earth do you play or socialise when trapped between four walls? Especially trapped with me  – I do feel for Mrs B at times. 

Well, like most of life these days a lot of it is happening online. Zoom and house party video conferencing is very much the way forward. Harry is on with various groups of friends every afternoon – mixed results there. Sometimes you can’t shut them up. At others, it’s like watching a bunch of Star Trek fans trying to make small talk with the opposite sex. Although at least they have the social distancing part bang on. 

For the grown ups, there’s wine (presumably, we’re all drinking more at the moment and it’s not just us?) and chat in the evenings. Something which is nowhere near as cringe as I first thought it would be. Quite the opposite. There’s only so much we can talk about at home given the lack of external stimulus and so still being able to catch up with friends and family is really helping to keep us sane.

This afternoon, Saturday, we’ve got the big Brentford Zoom chat. The GPG have arranged the online session with Phil Giles. We should be playing Wigan. Instead, we at least have the opportunity to quiz our director of football on all things Griffin Park. This, something we’ve always done well and is probably even more crucial now. At least, in keeping fans informed and morale up. All the details on this one are below.

Then there was the letter from Jon Varney, Cliff Crown and the board yesterday. And the posts on Twitter. With the EFL declaring that the season has been suspended indefinitely, it really was informative and open stuff from the club. I’m presuming we’ve all read it but if not, the link is here. Please do take the time out to read it. Great work all round. I’d give anything for life to be back to normal and us all meeting up at Griffin Park once more. Until that can happen, I take huge consolation from what we are doing.

The weekend is here and, on a personal note, it feels like any other morning. At present. An early start with coffee. Sat in front of a keyboard but at least no school or work to prepare for. The radio is on, as ever, and with a bit of focus, it can feel like a ‘regular’ day at this time. Top tunes are playing, I’m sat here in pants/dressing gown combo and there’s the chance to throw some nonsense out on to the internet. It’s just like any other 6am. 

On that subject, I’d love to offer huge thanks to Absolute Radio for allowing yours truly onto Dave Berry’s breakfast show on Tuesday. We said at the top end of the article about it being an up and down week. This bit was very much in the ‘up’ part. Doubling up with Nottingham Forest fan Matt Dyson to try and win five grand. In theory for me but money that would have gone elsewhere. Our quite wonderful NHS who, and I apologise if anybody heard it, I think I may have gone in to one about. In a positive sense. It’s here, otherwise, and is worth it alone for Elton John doing Only Fools and Horses.

What the station does is just magnificent at the best of times, let alone now. Mental health has been a topic high on their agenda over the last year and is something they continue to promote. To remind people that we will get through this and it is ok to be anxious about everything that is unfolding around us. I’m not too proud to admit that radio is really helping to keep me going at present. Even moreso than ever. With DJs all broadcasting from home, the technology to keep the service and quality is quite incredible.

Whomever you listen to, keep it on. Keep that external input into your lives going and don’t underestimate how valuable a service is being provided at present. I do miss working next to people but one ‘positive’ is that at least I can do my job alongside that voice at the other end of the wireless and anybody from The Bluetones to Ash ; The Charlatans to Supergrass. But definitely no Mick Hucknall. Under any circumstances.

And it is another voice at the end of said medium that I need to offer up huge thanks to this Saturday morning. Not Absolute but the BBC and, of course, the quite wonderful Billy Reeves.

Aside from afternoon chat with Phil, the other Zoom activity in our house is an online quiz being hosted this evening. And, as ever, things have been left ‘last minute’. A tweet out to our man asking for a question has been met with not just one brainteaser but an entire section – the mother of all fiendish music rounds. With other Brentford fans also picking in off the back of this with questions, Cinderella will goto the virtual ball. Or, at least, the spangly jacket can come out of the wardrobe later.

But enough  about the chat with Phil.

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BBC Billy doing his thing in happier times

Stay safe everybody. I hope you are all bearing up. DMs are open if anybody wants to chat about anything. Football related or otherwise. Not that I’m really much good at this – I’m just a Brentford fan with limited knowledge about life who uses Twitter far too much –  but, as Bob Hoskins used to say. “It’s good to talk”.

Whatever gets you through this. Now go turn on the radio. Oh, and please send a quiz question via Twitter if you are bored: @NickBruzon.  Hey, I might even host one next week if anybody wants to play?

Just a thought….

Nick Bruzon

Keep smiling. These pictures might help. My favourite images of 2019/20.

29 Mar

God I miss football at the moment. Given just what on earth is going on in the wider world then one needs to have some perspective yet, at the same time, it shouldn’t be a crime to yearn for that which does so much to unite us. Plays such a huge part in our lives. I want to be celebrating another win for Brentford. Seeing if we could do the double over Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Keep on avenging the jinx of Middlesbrough. Moaning about our desperate performances on the road – oh, what I’d give for another trip to Luton Town right now (words I never thought would be uttered again after this season’s debacle in the sleet). I’d love to be laughing about Leeds United falling apart. Again. Sadly, something that stopped just as the Coronavirus curse began to take a stronger grip across the globe. Whilst it was always meant in good humour (my cousin’s husband is as staunch a fan as they come), this was just one of the many aspects that make the Championship what it is. Or, for now, was.   

Being able to see Griffin Park from our house makes things even harder. So close yet so far. The gates are locked for good reason but that doesn’t make it any easier. What I would also say is that community morale seems quite wonderful. People still looking out for one another whilst Social Media continues to deliver a lot more positivity these days.

One such tweet yesterday sent me down the internet wormhole of football imagery. Namely, the words:

If you are a football person please join the challenge of posting a football photo. Just one picture, no description. Please copy the text in your status, post a picture and look at some great memories/pictures. 

The plus point to all this was that it brought some quite incredible pictures to the fore. Without using a traditional hashtag it really was a quite random collection of images. And also a lot of American ‘football’ (catch ball rather than soccer). Oh well, you can’t have everything and it certainly helped while away the first Saturday of lockdown. No bad thing either as, at least, there’s been the distraction of work and my half-arsed attempts at being a teacher to eat up Monday-Fridays. Those guys deserve a medal, that’s for sure 🙂

Now it was a full 48 hours in each other’s company and only a short exercise break / trip to the shops for essential supplies permitted. To be fair, H and Mrs. B were both in great form considering all that was going on. Yours truly shared a previously untold story from the personal vaults regarding the Bees, Stoke City and our ill-fated journey back from the 2002 play-off final. It’s here if you would like to read it and, if nothing else, may help pass few minutes whilst also explaining why some of you may have had a somewhat elongated journey home that night.

But that aforementioned tweet inspired me to have a look back through my own photo gallery. Specifically for this season although given what we’ve got ahead of us, expect a broader retrospective in the coming days. I thought it might be nice to share my favourite images of the campaign so far. Some of which regular readers may have seen before ; others which are new. This is not for any egotistical reasons – they aren’t great pictures, taken mainly on a mobile phone or small digital camera. Mark Fuller, I ain’t.

No, it’s more to remember the good times. To see the smiles of the Brentford family and even our visitors at times – Stuart Dallas, still got it. To know that we will have all of this again. Hopefully even at Griffin Park.

Enjoy….. 

The first two are why we are all currently sitting at home. Like the rest of the UK, Griffin Park is on lockdown. Here’s the New Road and then the Ealing Road view. 

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New Road – the gates are firmly closed

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Our iconic floodlights – currently behind closed doors

And with the serious stuff out of the way, let’s look back at what’s gone before. In no particular order  – perhaps with the exception of the last few.

I’ll apologise in advance for having a few of HB in there. It it’s any consolation, he’s probably missing football more than me. The last few seasons have really seen it click and he just loves everything Brentford. Especially Sam Saunders. Many are the mid-game chats we have about free kicks and dead balls, despite the main man no longer being on the playing staff. Such is his reputation, SS7 still features prominently in our match day routine. 

Daddy? Is THIS Saunders territory?” asks HB just about every game. Nice work, Sam.

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Did we all get the memo about hands on hips?

Next up, Bryan Mbeumo. What a signing. What a demonstration, as if further were needed, of the Brentford recruitment model.

Another high class vehicle to roll off the Griffin Park production line. Almost some sort of BMW, if you will. This was an early season demonstration of his potential when Hull City were the visitors for a 1-1 draw.

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This Mbeumo chap looks like he might have a turn of pace to him

Ah, Stuart Dallas. He can do no wrong in my book. ‘That’ goal against Fulham has earned him a place in Griffin Park folklore.  As was proven when Leeds united were the visitors for our attempt to overtake them and hit the top two on February 11th (how far away does that seem now?).

During one injury break, Stuart not only stopped for a chat but even posed for a photo. Can’t imagine the same scenario playing our with Martin Rowlands. The close proximity of the stands to the pitch allowing for this moment. 

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Work that smile, Stuart

It’s not all sunshine. Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County came to Griffin Park at the end of August for our first home win of the campaign. A 3-1 win in torrential conditions saw the early season dissenters silenced.

To think there were people calling for Thomas Frank’s head prior to this…!!!

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Raining goals at Griffin Park

Ahh, Thomas Frank. If ever a manager epitomised the family bond that we have at Brentford it is Thomas. Passionate, friendly, embracing and always willing to talk to supporters he suns up just what we are about as a club more than anyone I’ve seen before.

The post match laps of appreciation are punctuated by selfies and smiles. Thomas pulling his trademark ‘Fonzie’, usually accompanied by that broad grin of his. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

There are quite a few in here of Saïd. I don’t know if it’s in the sub-conscious or just something that sums up his approach to football. Like Thomas, he can’t do enough to endear himself to the fans – on and off pitch.

This one was against Millwall. That incredible turnaround from 0-2 down on 84 minutes  to ending the game as 3-2 winners. again, the proximity of our seats t the touchline helping capture the moment that third goal went in. I think it was the third, anyway… 

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YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

This next one was very early in the season. I forget who but when Harry asked Saïd for a selfie, our man went one better.

Goose bumps right now just looking at the one and thinking about how amazing he was with HB. Thank you, Saïd.

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Said – ever popular with the fans

Yet if one player was Harry’s hero then it can only be Sergi. Shirts have Canos 7 on the back and even though injured, HB is still all ‘Sergi this. Sergi that‘.

So imagine when even though injured, he still took a half-stroll around the Braemar Road forecourt. What a man. 

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This following comes from the last time we were all together at Griffin Park. The 5-0 trashing of Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month. The man in charge was our one time nemesis, Keith Stroud. 

Whilst we’ve certainly had our moments, it would be fear to say that he has always taken it on the chin and more than ‘plays along’ – at least, before kick off. This one was taken from his pre-match ‘Mr.Motivator’ style warm up routine (thankfully, without the lycra) where Keith did Dallas i.e. posed for a picture.

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nothing says mascots like Buzz and Buzzette. Nothing says Christmas like Buzz and Buzzette in their Santa hats.

No other words needed.

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Another entry form the big book of Benrahama. QPR away.

The penalty kick awarded just after our hosts had levelled things up saw big balls of steel from the Algerian goal machine. It was about as precision a kick as one could have hoped for. What a finish. What a celebration .

This is the view from the away stand upper. Limbs (whenever they are) followed immediately after.

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Back of the net…!!!

Saïd again. Sorry. Middlesbrough (home) in February. Another 3-2 win for The Bees. Another opportunity to share that unique bond between fans and players in the post match celebrations.

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Only at Griffin Park…. Thank you Said x

David Raya has been one of the stars of the season. Brentford laying any goalkeeping wobbles to rest as we have gone on to become the tightest defence in the division.

This one was taken during the good part of the visit to Luton Town. The part before kick-off.

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David Raya – almost grabbed the equaliser (not a typo).

FA Cup action. Leicester City were the visitors and the winners. But we gave it our very best. Here, Brentford attack once more in an action packed second half. The New Road terrace packed. 

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At least we can concentrate on the league

Birmingham City away. A game played out in horrific conditions but one where we were all there. Including one of Brentford’s most recognisable supporters – by sound as much as sight – Simon ‘Harry Potter’ Hoyle.

Like Jumper Man, Push up Brentford Man, The Phantom trumper of Ealing Road et al, Simon is iconic. 

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Another one from the Millwall game. Got to love that Bryan celebration. Got to love that team spirit.

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Happier times

Bus stop in Hounslow. We’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.

Like pub team, tinpot, little old Brentford etc etc, this mantra has quickly been turned from jeer into catchphrase. And we love it .

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Just a bus stop in Hounslow…..

When words collide. This one a look of mutual respect and confusion, taken from the Kurupt FM takeover of Griffin Park back in October.

Whilst the game was against Bristol City, all the talk was about our very special guests.

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Add your own punchline

This season was always going to be different when we signed Pontus Jansson from Leeds United over the summer. It was a transfer that was completely against our model. For one thing, we’d actually heard of him!

What a player. What an inspiration. What passion and confidence. What a way to bind the defence and drive the Bees forward. The difference between a team with Pontus and without him, clear for all to see.

Here’s hoping he gets the chance to finish the promotion dream with Brentford.

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

And if you needed to see what it means to him then here’s one of my very favourites. Oh, that bond between the players. That ecstasy from the supporters. That mutual celebration of, another, goal. Pontus busting every sinew in celebration.

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Ok – into the top five. They probably sum up the Brentford experience for me this season. Forgive the personal nature. Forgive the self-indulgence given the family connection. But, then again, we are a family, and nowhere moreso than in this first one.

It’s not a well taken picture in terms of framing or capturing H. But this is him and Alex Austin celebrating against Middlesbrough. The look says it all.

We love Alex and his family. The advice offered to the officials makes the game even more fun than it already is. The bond that has grown up across the gangway that divides our seats part of what makes Griffin Park so special to us. All that will change at Lionel Road but I’m desperate for us to all to be given the chance for one last game (at the very least) to celebrate this current chapter coming to a close.

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Number 4. HB enjoying football. At this moment all I can see is tremendous joy and its making me very sad. Purely because of everything that is happening outside the front door. It’s also making me feel amazingly proud and even happier to see a look on his face that he’s not had for a few weeks now.

Brentford did this. THANK YOU.

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At number three, another goal celebration. Another from Middlesbrough and one that is a bit blurry.

But it’s the expression from Ollie to the crowd as the players all pile on. The fans reaching back to him. The mutual adoration. A moment that nothing could get in the way of. One of my personal favourite Griffin Park moments this season.

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Number two, Mr. Brentford. Peter Gilham. If ever you could hear a photo, then here it is.

Brrrrreenttttt-forrrddddddddddddd.

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We talked about Thomas earlier. About his approach to the game and to supporters.

THIS is why we love him. Listening to Harry giving him advice. Talking back to him as though there it was the most important thing in his world right then. Delaying his own return to the dressing rooms to celebrate with the players – supporters come first.

It’s just how we do things in Brentford.

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Thomas is great at sharing wise words

Nick Bruzon

Never order a kit-kat on a train. What really happened at the play-off final.

28 Mar

There’s no football on. I’m bored. Very bored. So who wants to hear a story? A story about what really happened after the 2002 play-off final. That was the one Brentford lost. 2-0 to Stoke City in Cardiff, if it helps narrow things down a little bit. Although at least this time we had the consolation of not losing in the semi-finals or at Wembley. A story about how your journey home from that one may have been impacted, indirectly, by yours truly. The wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time and for which I can only apologise. Even if not my fault.

It was the game I attended with my brother Mark, my Stoke supporting flat mate Paul and HB’s now godfather, Carl (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) . A game where a Mr. Jack Segal (his hasn’t) of First Great Western trains tried to make an already awful day even worse on the way home.

The day, like all of them that had gone before and would come since, started with such great promise. The sight of Carl, sitting on a bench outside Twickenham station, holding a bottle of Baileys at 6am was one to put an early smile on the face abut the day ahead.

Surely, THIS time, Brentford would lay the play-off jinx to bed. There was no way we could cock up another one. For starters, it wasn’t taking place at the W place in North London. That hovel where footballing dreams go to die. At least, if you support the Bees. On what was shaping up to be a beautiful day, we had even been blessed with the ‘lucky’ dressing room. There was just no way we’d mess this one up. Championship, here we come.

Oh dear. There’s a reason I don’t bet on football. 12 hours later, our footballing dreams had died. Again. Different city. Same outcome. Brentford 0 Stoke City 2 the final score. The Bees putting in a no-show of a performance on an afternoon that the wheels came off our quite wonderful team. Steve Coppell’s squad falling apart on the pitch and then splintered into a million pieces almost immediately afterwards.

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Different city. Same outcome

Yet the pain of defeat was nothing compared to what came next. Tired, emotional and drained – the stuffing knocked out of us – it was time for the journey back to Paddington. The train arrived. Seats were taken. It left on time. Wow! At least the day would have a decent ending. Homeward bound, what could possibly go wrong from here? Well, quite a lot as it happens.

Whilst the early morning Baileys was a giddy high that, just for the record, had not been replicated over the course of the day let’s not pretend either that drinks had not been consumed. And whilst I am assuming that we were all fit to drive cars, say the alphabet backwards and pass breathalyser tests, discretion was deemed the better part of valour at this juncture. As such, a trip to the buffet carriage was undertaken with the sole intention of being to acquire four coffees and four kit-kats.

For reasons unknown, the kit-kats have always seemed an integral part to proceedings and what came next. There’s no specific reason but on the odd occasion that events have been re-told in private, that detail has remained constant. Close to twenty years on, other facts may have been lost to time, faded or even just been altered to suit the telling. Not deliberately, but as my good friend Bucko used to say “Never ruin a good story with the facts.” I’m not saying this is necessarily one which fits into that category, or that there has been any conscious manipulation of events, but the multi-fingered chocolate-covered wafers have always been a favourite so need to stay in.

Through the coaches we swayed. Purely due to the rocking motion of the train. The buffet car ahead of us. The sound of singing supporters coming through into the preceding carriage. Brentford and Stoke fans, mixed together and sounding in genuinely good spirits. Nothing moronic. Nothing stupid. Just good humour as supporters drank and partied together. Something more incredible given the defeat we had recently endured. Perhaps that side of things was more symptomatic with an ongoing acceptance that this is what probably would always have happened regardless of omens and good feeling.  After all, we’d just been in a play-off match and, to coin a phrase, it’s Brentford. Innit?  

In we went. Paul and I, that is. Carl and my brother had remained behind in the carriage. The bonhomie we’d presumed to be in place was indeed confirmed. Fans of both clubs intermingled and very much enjoying all that the First Great Western bar had to offer. It was a heartwarming sight and moreso given the reputation of travelling football fans.

The buffet car itself may have been a relic from the 70s but the attitude of the supporters was anything but. As we sped through the Welsh countryside at plenty over 100mph it should have been a picture postcard advert for travelling to and from a game by train. Were it not for the simple fact that the door was hanging wide open. Wide. Open.  Nothing but a distance of about two feet separating us from the high speed blur of trees and bridges on the other side of the open gap. The wind blowing in and everybody either oblivious or simply choosing to ignore it – the taste of High Speed Fosters too delicious to surrender for something as trivial as certain death should anyone have lost their footing and lurched towards the exposed doorframe.

By all rights we should have turned tail and fled back through the vestibule. Perhaps pulling the emergency cord as we went. But nobody else had and I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to rain on this parade. The person deemed responsible for turning the party atmosphere into one of angst. 

Instead, we stepped forward towards the  safety of the narrow passageway alongside the serving hatch, bypassing the deathtrap to our right. Those kit-kats weren’t going to buy themselves and, besides, we could always ask the chap dispensing the coffees if he’d happened to notice that his carriage was now exposed to the elements? And then, worlds collided.

Four coffees and four kit-kats, please”. As that phrase was uttered, enter stage left the guard. Jack Segal. He had a name badge announcing the fact. He may aswell have announced himself with the line, “‘Ello ‘ello ‘ello. What’s going on ‘ere then?” And as it slowly dawned on him, the man presumably responsible for the health and safety of all on the train, that neither could be assured he barked, “Buffet’s closed”. Then reached for the emergency alarm.

The caterer didn’t know what to do. With the train slowing to a halt, we asked if service was possible? Granted, in retrospect it was unlikely to be a well received request but, you know, just because the train had decelerated didn’t mean that serving a hot drink was impossible. Alas, it was. 

“Buffet’s. Closed” repeated Segal. Each word screeched with the sort of protracted delivery reserved for naught schoolboys from a particularly apoplectic headmaster determined to make a point amidst the mayhem unfurling around him.

He shouted again. Face growing an ever darker shade of Fergie red as everyone ignored him and continued the protracted negotiations for caffeine and chocolate.

Buffet’s. Closed” he screamed once more. The man behind the counter this time pulling the shutters down. It was a less a slam and more a meandering slide but with our hands on the counter top, it was a game of Russian roulette – albeit one utilising fingers and an industrial grill rather than a high velocity bullet and a brain. Yet, with the fear of an irate Segal now firmly instilled, there was no stopping this manoeuvre from playing out to a bone crunching conclusion. Not that we really though this would happen until experiencing the taste of metal on knuckle.

Oww. That really hurt. What did you did that for ?” or words to that effect were directed towards the train staff, although primarily Segal. There was no apology. Anything but. Instead, with our fellow fans having deserted the scene and the train now stopped, the fickle finger of Jack pointed from the door to us and then back again. He put two and two together, came up with five and made it quite clear that this near death experience was nothing to do with a faulty train but down to us. And that trouble was waiting.

Back we went to our seats. No coffee. No kit-kats. The door had been closed and the train limped towards Newport where everybody was kicked off to await a replacement service. Except for Paul and I. We were told to await the Transport Police where we could… help them with their enquiries. A phrase delivered with all the menace of a camp pantomime villain sporting a cape and waxed moustache . Only a Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaa! required at the end for a full house.

Which is what then happened. The police rather than the theatrical laugh. We were met by Her Majesty’s finest who, despite protesting our innocence, were given a very simple choice. Either disembark, come to the stationmaster’s office to give some more formal ‘assistance’. Or be arrested. Either way, we were going with them.

Put like that, it was an easy enough decision. As our fellow passengers waited on the platform for a rail replacement to be dragged out of God knows where, we began undergoing the process of interrogation into our involvement in the alleged train door opening which, it transpired, is what Segal had formally accused us of.

What? This was madness. Again and again we went over our version of events. Nothing changed. The questions kept coming. By all rights we probably should have had some sort of legal representation there but it didn’t even dawn on us to ask. Besides, we’d done nothing wrong.

That didn’t seem to matter. Segal’s accusation keeping us trapped in Newport as the man himself had since boarded the replacement service that was heading towards London with the rest of our fellow fans. 

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Trapped in Newport?

Well boys. That’s the last train to London tonight gone” said one of the officers. He didn’t go so far as to add “so now your fu*%ed” although I’m fairly certain he thought it. I did, that’s for sure. Locked in a stalemate this was going nowhere fast. The police continued, “You know how much this is going to cost? The entire network has been knocked out. We’ve had to pull a spare train out of mothballs and delay just about every other service going through here. A f*%king fortune is how much”. This time he did swear . Quite profusely.

Then, and I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred any earlier, somebody had the bright idea to call up Segal on the replacement train. We were oblivious to this part of proceedings until one of the station staff came forward to where we were still assisting and uttered those sweet, sweet words: “Stoke City have been eliminated for fielding an illegible player. You’ve been promoted.

Well, not quite but the joy was much the same. “We’ve spoken to him now. He’s admitted he didn’t, actually, see it happen and can’t say that it was these two.

Thanks a bunch, Jack. Mainly because it wasn’t us two. That was a rant for another day though. He continued, “Really sorry lads. We all know him here. He’s a right ‘toys out the pram’ type. So you’ve got two choices – we’ll put you up in hotel and get you home tomorrow or we’ll just pay for a taxi down to your final destination now”.     

If ever you needed the quintessential no brainer then here it was. A late night in a Newport Travel Lodge and a Sunday chugger / replacement bus home or back to our beds within a couple of hours. Hmmm. Let me think about that for about no seconds.

A taxi was duly summoned and took us all the way back through the dead of night to Twickenham. The meter reading £159 as we pulled up outside the station although, for reasons of almost Segal-esque anal behaviour, the driver wouldn’t take us the extra 500 yards to our flat above the snooker hall. Seriously? After driving for three hours, you couldn’t manage two more minutes? Still, it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

And then I remembered Carl, my brother and the rest of the Brentford faithful. Shit, they’d probably be worried. No worries. Out came the Nokia 3310 and a call was placed. I’d probably wake him up but, you know, he’d want to know we were safe rather than facing a prison sentence.

You’d think. But no. Anything but. He was not pleased to hear from me and not because he’d been roused from his slumbers….

You’re home? Already? Bastards. We’re stuck in Reading! I’ve had Carl sucking up to the guard all the way back and now we’ve missed the last connection back because the train was so delayed.”

I made my excuses and left. All of a sudden, losing a play-off final didn’t seem so bad.

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Happier times with Carl and Paul

Nick Bruzon  

Enjoy the unexpected silence in your favourite shirt. Or watch Roger.

27 Mar

Hurrah. Life is back to normal. In the loosest sense.  Brentford, West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United et al are still waiting to resume battle at the top end of the Championship. Liverpool have had their seemingly unstoppable charge to the Premier League title put firmly on hold. Football fans are having to get their hit from watching the Leyton Orient promoted 128 team knock out tournament on FIFA 20, UltimateQuaranTeam Cup. Yet this weekend is going to be as close to the regular season as we are going to get in quite a while. It’s International break. We wouldn’t have been playing anyway. Instead, tonight we get the chance to not watch England v Italy ; tomorrow it would have been Gibraltar v Norway (at U-21 level).

England and Gibraltar jobs

There’s none of this tonight and tomorrow

I have to be honest, I’m finding this tough from a sporting perspective. The build up to the weekend always reached a crescendo on a Friday, with anticipation of what was to come reaching peak excitement. Now there is nothing although, as noted, I can take small consolation in the fact that it wouldn’t have happened tomorrow anyway. Instead, we’d be cursing about the horror of the alleged England supporters band. 

We’ve said it before. We’ve tried to tone it down in recent seasons. But, I’m sorry, its time to unload. If anything , this CoronaVirus curse is making us realise just how much we take for granted in life. How much there is to enjoy. When this is all over, and it will be, I want to enjoy every minute of life. To embrace International friendlies as the gift that they are rather than the faux-substitute for ‘real football that they have so often been.

We’ve used this analogy before but they’ve always felt very much like a Timothy Dalton ‘Bond film’. They’re great fun but they’re just no Roger Moore effort and always seem to lack a certain bite. The rest of the crew and supporting cast may be the same, the action and the sound are identical but, ultimately, without the one-liners and raised eyebrow of Roger it all seems to be missing an indefinable something. Rather than the effortless cool of quaffing a Martini in a safari suit they are more a case of Bond nervously sipping a de-caf latte whilst waiting for his contact to arrive. And you can forget any cameo role from Victor Tourjansky  – the best we’ll get is a brief run out from the likes of Joey Barton, Michael Ball or Steven Caulker.

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There’s always an excuse for the Tourjansky montage

Ahh, Victor. We digrees. And, again, somebody who has been mentioned many times but is always worth a doff of the hat. Or, should that be , a raise of the glass? Very much an unsung hero of mine, he appeared alongside Roger three times pulling off his signature move: specifically,  that of looking bewilderedly at his drink as though inebriation could be the only explanation for the amazing feat he had just seen 007 pull off. 

A brief moment on screen and then he’d be gone until the next film. Victor performed this routine in the trio of movies  that ran from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ through ‘Moonraker’ and then culminating in  ‘For Your Eyes Only’.

Whilst the man himself was missing for Octopussy, his ‘joke’ had been retained although ‘Palace guard’ doesn’t perform the legendary double take with anywhere near the same panache or style. If anything, an International friendly of a performance within the meat of big match Roger.

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Palace Guard – the Dalton to Victor’s Roger

Yet even though International friendlies will be greeted with infinitely more enthusiasm in future, there’ll still be no excuse for THAT. BAND. It’s great we’ll be spared them tonight and one can only hope this is something the continues – although not for any public health reasons. 

Honestly, who needs their moribund parping and jingoistic greatest hits? Who actually enjoys their flaccid and off-key nasal drone? Show me any supporter who, honestly, thinks a game is enhanced by their unwanted presence? Who truly believes that any England match is helped by hearing the theme tunes from ‘The Great Escape’ or ‘The Italian Job’ repeated ad-nauseam,  but not quite as you remember them?

What we need right now is a flat version of the National anthem or 7 nation army”. Said nobody ever.

When the Mexican Wave or Robbie Williams singing ‘Let me Entertain You’ (which you can find on: Now that’s what I call Stadium music, also featuring: ‘We Are The Champions’) have the moral high ground in the low brow sporting tedium stakes then there’s something seriously wrong.  

Band banned

That. Band. Banned

Given the choice of being gaffer-taped to a chair and subjected to them or Mrs. Brown’s Boys, I honestly think I’d have to side with Brendan O’Carroll performing his toe-curlingly unfunny Irish mammy/man in a cardigan routine. But enough about my private life.

When this is all done. Let’s really enjoy every minute of every football match. Even the cruddy friendlies. Let’s never hear, or speak of, that band again. Until then, why not stick on some 007 this weekend? Who doesn’t need a bit of Roger right now?

In the mean time, today is Friday. I’m going to make it Footballshirt Friday and use the whole ‘Work From Home’ thing to wear my favourite kit to work. It’ll probably just be me but why not join in? Why not post a picture? Why not get behind your team online and just use it as an excuse to talk football.?

Just because there wouldn’t have been any league action today, let’s not stop that for celebrating our teams. Let’s do it… #FootballshirtFriday

Now I’ve just got to choose one. 

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Which Brentford shirt to go for today?

Nick Bruzon

Won’t anybody think about Gary?

14 Mar

And so we have now had to bow to the inevitable. It was announced yesterday that all games in the EFL, the Premier League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship along with those in Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland, have been postponed in response to the Coronvirus. As expected, Friday evening’s much anticipated game between Fulham and Brentford was the first major casualty of this new directive, albeit Brighton v Arsenal had already gone to P-P as a result of Mikel Arteta’s positive test for the virus.  In theory, the Championship and other league fixtures will resume on April 3rd with the Premier league following the day after. Good luck with that. Good luck deciding if Liverpool will be crowned champions or Leeds United will finally join them with the top flight place they so desperately aspire to.

The BBC have responded to any football related delay as they always do – by replacing Match of the Day with a repeat of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.  Stop and take that in. Keep stopping. Keep thinking. Mrs.. Browns.. Boys..

Whilst ordinarily the preference would be to avoid the use of choice language, I think I speak for all of us when I ask them to f**k the f**k off with Mrs. F**king Brown. Then f**k off some more. To coin a phrase.

MRS BROWN'S BOYS

Despair was the feeling

Haven’t we already suffered enough? Won’t anybody think of Gary Lineker? My word, just why do they do this? Society is on the verge of breakdown. There are riots in the toilet paper aisle and Match of the Day has now been canned. The last thing we need now is more of this tedious claptrap. From all the depths of their historic sporting resources, was there not a classic match or some sort of compilation the BBC could have put together instead of subjecting us to everyone’s favourite Irish ‘mammy’. Stereotype and cliche going neck and neck in the desperate search for laughs.

Look at cricket. There’s a sport that has always been subject to sudden and unexpected cancellation. Broadcasters left with hours of airtime to fill at a moment’s notice. What they don’t do is hit the panic button. Instead we have the highlights. The classic game from days gone by The in-studio panel discussions. Some semblance of attempted normality relative to what we should have been shown.  Not Mrs. Brown.  It’s not hard. It’s not tricky. Sort it out, please. For all our sanity.

I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again. What dirt does Brendan O’Carroll have on the Beeb? Why is his cackling creation deemed the ‘go to’ in any scheduling crisis? For crying out loud, if we HAVE to have comedy instead of sport there are thousands of other choices out there. Anything from Blackadder to Absolutely Fabulous (which wasn’t, although still infinitely preferable to Agnes and her cardigan). Cripes, if we’re going for out-dated comedy I’d even take Terry and June over Mrs. Brown.

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Even this would be better

The other obvious casualty of football being cancelled is Talk Sport narcissist, Ian Moose. A broadcaster whose modus-operandi consists of insisting he’d have done better than the on-pitch professionals, taking subsequent selfies with them and gorging on the pre/post match catering is now in serious danger. As much of starving as anything else, given that no football means no half-time buffets laid out for journalists. Think of all those pies that will never be eaten. At least we’ve still got the internet so wishing his good friend happy birthday  – a routine as nauseating as being part of the audience for Mrs Brown’s Boys –  is still possible. For now.

So what happens next? I honestly can’t see any way that games will recommence in three weeks time. We haven’t even got to the official cancelling of mass gatherings that is expected to be announced next week. Italy, who are streets ahead of us at present, aren’t even close to recommencing any form of action. In my opinion, for what its worth, this is the first stage of a broader cancellation. Euro 2020 will inevitably be put back a year. Whether this then leaves capacity to finish domestic campaigns remains to be seem. That’s assuming, of course, that the health situation starts to rectify itself. Boris’s approach of ‘let it all blow over, we’re British’ hardly a reassuring one. 

But I’ll leave that side of things to somebody else. We’re  primarily here to look at the Brentford angle on these pages. If there can be any positives for us I suppose that at least it is the chance for Mathias Jensen, Sergi Canos, Pontus Jansson et al to get back to full fitness. For tired legs in a thin squad to recharge.

Although what that they will be getting back to is THE question. Leagues suspended? Cancelled? Played out in empty stadia? Champions,  promotion and relegation decided by current placing (surely not – that would be the worst of any sporting decision made).  Imagine the uproar if Liverpool were denied their inevitable title? Or if they were handed the crown despite not, technically, having crossed the line.

Think of the irony if Leeds United,  who so often miss out on a place in the top flight by their own falling apart, were actually handed a position on account of the nation collectively choking on their behalf. If nothing else, a lesson learned for Alanis Morissette and her ‘Isn’t it unlucky’, song.  

However this all goes remains to be seen. For now, stay healthy. Take care and look after each other. We’ll keep sticking this nonsense up here as much as possible. It may help kill thirty seconds of tedium as we all move towards virtual house-arrest next week. Possibly.  

And the BBC, if you are reading, if there really are no other sporting highlights then rather than Mrs. Brown how about just sticking on Escape To Victory…

Pele-Escape-to-Victory

Pele scores as the Allies escape to victory.

Nick Bruzon

Could it be a case of advantage Fulham?

12 Mar

This all looks pretty fatal on the football front. Are Brentford and the rest about to be dealt a hammer blow? The confirmed positive test for Coronavirus of Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis had already thrown the Championship, and beyond, into doubt. Whilst large crowds were still able to see Liverpool and Spurs exit the Champions League this week, last night’s  game between Manchester City and Arsenal (who were recently beaten by The Greeks in the Europa league) had already been postponed and the number of games being played behind closed doors is accelerating across Europe. Whilst there is no word as yet given our huge game at Fulham tomorrow (not to mention the visit of West Brom to Griffin Park on Tuesday) could a tipping point be imminent ?

The Nottingham Forest players and staff have all been tested with results coming back negative. Even allowing for that good news, things suddenly feel very close to home. With public gatherings such as St. Patrick’s Day parades and schools being cancelled globally, surely it can only be a matter of time before we follow our friends in Europe and the shutters start to come down? What could that mean for Brentford? 

Forest getting the ‘all clear’ at least means that for now everybody is operating on a ‘level’ playing field. Will it be BAU and a full house for Brentford at Craven Cottage (the three sides of it that are open) on Friday? Will games start to go ahead to the sound of piped crowd noise and empty seats? This, something we witnessed on Tuesday in the Champion’s league game between Valencia and Atalanta. It was a surreal experience although still infinitely better than watching Tottenham capitulate. Not that having that famous Anfield ‘12th man’ helped Liverpool, either.  

The ‘closed doors’ option is not a route that I hope we are forced down. If for no other reason it will give Fulham a huge advantage  – playing in empty stadiums devoid of atmosphere something they are used to week in, week out.

Jota onside v Fulham

Could Brentford be faced with similar on Friday? (The 2-2 from a few seasons back)

At worst, players will start to be taken ill at some point and then we have that most terrifying of situations – the EFL forced to make a decision. That, something they struggle with at the best of times, let alone when the situation warrants serious action. Are games forfeited? Put on hold? The season potentially wiped or stopped dead in it’s tracks? Sides forced to put out a starting XI of healthy players, regardless as to whether they come from the heart of the first team squad or the depths of the reserves. These, all options I’ve heard touted and just any one of a number of options that may or may not come in to play at some point.

There are no answers here. Mainly because nobody knows what will happen. Martin Hardy in The Times reports this morning that actions to force all football matches in England to be played behind closed doors could be triggered as early as today. They suggest that there will be additional measures put in place to allow fans to still watch as much as possible over the internet and TV but clearly this will be an ersatz, if necessary, experience. You can read that piece, here.

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That headline from The Times…

I submitted my programme article for Tuesday’s game between The Bees and West Brom earlier. I don’t know if that will even be published or read. I hope it is and not for any egotistical reasons – it’s the usual nonsense with obligatory reference to the godawful Mrs. Browns Boys – but more because it means we are still in a BAU scenario. This may all start to settle soon, now that people are washing their hands (seriously, they weren’t before?) and have ample supplies of both dried pasta and toilet roll. Or things may get messier for the foreseeable (the U.S. now imposing a European travel ban for 30 days). Whatever happens, at best I suspect we’ll see the season run well beyond it’s scheduled finish in an attempt to wrap things up as smoothly as possible.

That’s the sporting side. Underpinning all of this is a very real human cost. People are being taken ill. Nobody wants that, to see cases accelerated or the situation worsening any more. Let’s not forget about those who are dying in all of this. Sport will always very much play second fiddle to a genuine medical crisis. When we hit that point, if not already, remains to be seen. From a sporting perspective, the next few days could very much impact how the rest of our season is going to play out.   

Until then, it’s Fulham on Friday. Our paltry allocation of 1700 fans sure to make themselves heard above the coughing and clappers. Here’s hoping we are still able to go ahead as normal.

Whatever normal is these days.

Fulham flare

Will our fans be allowed in?

Nick Bruzon

Owls become pussycats as Bees run riot.

8 Mar

Now that’s how to return to winning ways. Brentford trashed Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 in a game that was every bit as one sided as the scoreline suggests. The Bees climb to fourth, tucked in behind a Fulham side who of course we visit on Friday evening. We’re now five points clear of seventh (effectively six given the quite incredible goal difference of +31) and ten off second placed West Bromwich Albion. With The Baggies next up at Griffin Park and nine games to go, destiny remains very much in our hands.

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Brentford attacked from the off

What an afternoon. It was one of those where another bracketing looked on the cards and could easily have played out. Brentford came out of the traps flying and peppered the Wednesday goal, including one effort from Watkins that flew off the crossbar. Josh Dasilva opened the scoring when a shot was only parried. It fell kindly to him tin the box and there was no mistake with his left foot. Emiliano Marcondes doubled things soon after with an absolute beauty from what must have been a good twenty-five yards. It was a thing of beauty and worth the admission price alone as it flew through the air and into the far corner of the net. Less than twenty minutes gone and two up.

Brentford continued to press and Bryan Mbeumo made it three. He worked an opening and hit a low shot through the box that curled off the base of the post. The Bees in total control. Sheffield so far off the pace that forget about Wednesday, they were still on Monday. It was domination that continued in the second period although the goals took a back seat until late strikes form DaSilva and Fosu gave the scoreline the margin our performance warranted. The Bees had been rampant. The Owls outclassed and outplayed. Wednesday boss Garry Monk would use phrases such as ‘inexcusable’, ‘embarrassed‘ and ‘lost for words’. Thomas Frank would call us ‘scarily good’.

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages. Never have done. If you want detail then official or the BBC are you best places. Or the highlights are below.

Goals, goals, goals….

Suffice to say though that this was about as completes a performance as they come. Thomas Frank would talk afterwards about our desire to defend. We were rock solid at the back despite the ongoing absence of Pontus Jansson. Anything that was hit on target, comfortably saved by David Raya.

Marcondes and Dasilva will get the goalscoring headlines but don’t rule out their overall contributions either. Emiliano was named man of the match whilst Josh had one of those games where the ball seemed tied to his foot with a piece of string. Said Benrahma did everything but score but must, instead, be content with a clutch of assists. 

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Taking deserved applause at full time

Next up is the televised game at Fulham on Friday night. With The Cottagers needing a late equaliser at Bristol City, the chance is there to really stick a late season mark on our rivals. Victory in Hammersmith would take us to within a point of third place. The satisfaction of doing them infinitely more preferable though. It won’t be easy. It never is. But it will be fun and I can’t wait. With another midweek break there’s more chance to recharge legs and do the same as we did yesterday.

There’s not much else to say, really.  Referee Keith Stroud had a great game, letting the football flow and keeping himself out of the limelight. It felt comfortable all afternoon and, honestly, never in doubt from the moment the game began.There will no doubt be tougher tests ahead but you can only play who you are up against. Beyond that, simply a case of keeping heads down until Friday night and then we see what happens down the road.

I can’t wait….

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Mr. Stroud was in good form – even giving a wave

Nick Bruzon   

Will it be Wednesday on Wednesday? What about Pontus on Saturday?

4 Mar

Could Pontus Jansson be back in Brentford colours for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday? That was the question on everybody’s lips last night following an instagram post from the player which suggested a return was imminent. So much for that nonsense you may have read on more ‘loyal’ sites. With the Owls in FA Cup action at home to Manchester City this evening, the result there could have as much bearing on our promotion push as any return of our talismanic captain.

So, Pontus. The desperation to play was clear to all in a post which read : “It has been the absolute worst months for long time to not be able to be out on the pitch and play games. I am soon there where I want to be and I promise that I have given and will give everything to be back as soon as possible” . This, followed by a string of emojis and tagging in the club.

 

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A personal message and a string of emojis

What a boost. How timely. Could he feature against Sheffield Wednesday? Just knowing a return is close will be huge for the player, the squad and the fans. His experience has been sorely missed as games we may have won previously have ‘only’ seen us pick up a point. 

use the word ‘only’ in the loosest sense. Let’s not forget that Brentford are fifth in the Championship with only ten games to go. We’ve amazing goal difference and are still banging them in for fun (we’ll pretend Luton Town never happened). No team at this, or even higher, level could honestly say they were stronger with Pontus missing from the team. Strong? Yes. But stronger….. ? Hmm. His wealth of experience and fighting spirit are worth their metaphorical weight in gold. His influence on the pitch and inspiration off it clear for all to see.

Not just in the centre back position, I hasten to add, where the replacements have still performed admirably as the Bees have stayed in contention. It is more in that ‘money can’t buy’ yet presence and charisma that only a Captain can bring. He is a true leader and the sooner we have him back the better the entire team will be. Whilst perhaps Saturday may be optimistic, it does seem the end is in sight. Here’s hoping it comes soon.

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Could Pontus be back soon?

Who we line up against remains to be seen, of course. There’s a huge FA Cup match this evening between Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City. The cup fan want a win for the Owls – who doesn’t love an upset – even if it does mean further exposure for ‘that band’ . The Brentford fan in me wants a win for the Owls, but one which goes to energy sapping extra time, possibly penalties and perhaps even a contagious red card or two. Anything that can feasibly make the trip to Griffin Park that little bit more of an exertion.

With Wednesday eight points off the play-off zone, perhaps a win tonight may also focus their attention in the direction of Wembley rather than promotion. Any questionable decision to rest injury risks / tired legs made that little bit easier. Hey, I’m allowed to be optimistic.

In all seriousness, I’d absolutely love the Owls to stuff City tonight. There’s no finer sight than a giant being slayed. My love for the FA Cup has been well documented and here’s hoping another chapter in this love story can be written on Wednesday, by Wednesday. Anything else is a bonus.

Bliss Manchester City

Can the Owls emulate the Bees ?

Nick Bruzon   

No jacket required. Although three points would have been nice.

1 Mar

Another point on the board. A 2-2 draw for Brentford at Cardiff City in a game we may well have won after racing into an early lead courtesy of Luka Racic and Bryan Mbeumo. Instead, things ended level on a day that saw both Leeds United and Fulham recording victories which, realistically, mean hopes of automatic are diminishing quicker than the laughter at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. No matter, with only ten games to go we remain fifth. The Bees firmly in play-off contention and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. There is no additional expectation now as top six remains the target. Anything else is a bonus outside of our control.

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Benrahma takes the game to Cardiff

What can you say? Positives included the return of Christian Norgaard after going off at Luton. A confident performance from Luka Racic at centre back which included a goal after just five minutes. A corner broke and he fired it straight back past Cardiff ‘keeper Alex Smithies. Said Benrhama was passing through the eye of a needle whilst Brentford kept going for the win all game long. Bryan Mbeumo scored an exquisite free kick to double the lead as he fired one over the wall and in with little more than twenty minutes on the clock.

With the fire drill sounding, this one was done and dusted. Wasn’t it? Alas not. Junior Hoilett grabbing the first with his head, following a long throw, where he looked suspiciously offside. At least to those of us behind the goal. Then bang on half time it was the turn of Joe Ralls with an almost carbon copy finish. Urghhh. Frustration rather than anger was the order of the day. The Bees had been playing well with Said Benrahma forcing a fine save from Smithies in between. 

Meanwhile, Will Vaulks had drawn the wrath of the normally mild-mannered Thomas Frank following one obscene challenge on Norgaard. Referee Simon Hooper and his assistants failing to produce the red card required in such a situation. But this summed up Hooper – for both sides. He had an absolute stinker from start to finish. That’s not meant as bitterness – he was as poor towards the home side as he was the visitors. Both sets of supporters ending the day feeling hard done by and, being honest, Cardiff City probably more as they cranked up the pressure in the second period.

Yet we had our own moments too and certainly Brentford never gave up. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he fired one wide with his right foot when space had opened up. Either side could have taken it. Brentford probably should after that early brace. But football is a 90 minute game as we know and so we have to be content with a point. We have to be content with remaining firmly in play-off contention and passing a back-handed compliment to Fulham, whose own victory over Preston meant we weren’t overtaken. Bristol City sit three points off us in seventh although superior goal difference means that is effectively four. 

All being well the enigma that is the Pontus Jansson injury will be resolved by the time Sheffield Wednesday visit Griffin Park on Saturday. Bright this Racic and Jeanvier have been, it is no coincidence that our recent run has coincided with his absence . The calming influence, experience and confidence of our inspirational captain something that would seem to be missing at present. This is the moment our young, young team would really benefit from the presence of this (relatively) elder statesman. Here’s hoping his return is imminent.

The other big question of the day came buried away in the Cardiff match day programme. Specifically the ‘Famous Fans’ segment. Natalie Sawyer is a given as is Richard Archer from Hard-Fi / newly formed pop combo ‘Offworld’ (do check them on Spotify et al). Yet there was no Rhino from the Quo. The Bluetones’ Adam Devlin was conspicuous by his absence. Likewise comedian Nathan Caton, Cameron Diaz, Rick Wakeman or Dean Gaffney (Wellard from Eastenders). I’d even have accepted Bradley Walsh. But no. Instead we got Phil Collins. Phil. Collins.

How? Why? I know he grew up locally but seriously, has anyone ever seen hm at Griffin Park? Go figure.

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Never seen him at Griffin Park

There’s not much else to say at the moment. Anticipated travel chaos failed to materialise on the way up. The return journey one hit by train delays but even that allowed the bonus of an extended post match discussion in the pub prior to departure.  Such are the things that make up an away day. You never know what will happen on or off the pitch. The random nature of such trips one where the 90 minutes in the middle are so often the thing that gets in the way. The eye of the storm in a chance to catch up with different friends in a different city. The journey up one full of anticipation and expectation. The potential to eat and drink somewhere different always welcome. The one day in the week when health related good intentions can quite legitimately be thrown out of the window and the already meagre cash reserves are drained with abandon. The notes in the wallet taking on the nature of Monopoly money. 

And now it’s heads down for a week. The bank card buried deep in the back of the sock draw in a half-arsed attempt to avoid temptation. A week in the office (urghh) the only thing standing in the way of Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday when it all starts again. All being well, Thomas may tell us more about the injury situation during the week. Some positive news on that front will be very well received.

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Emiliano and Said were unable to fashion a winning goal

Nick Bruzon