Tag Archives: UEFA

We’re talking about the master. Not some untried apprentice.

11 Oct

The combination of minimal domestic football due to international break and the partially closed transfer window are a potent brew for those in need of internet hits. Nowhere is this seen more than in the Benrahma from Brentford to West Ham stories doing the rounds. We should be talking about Gibraltar and their cracking win in Liechtenstein (a 100% record in UEFA Nations League group D2 so far). Instead, we’re feeling dirty for nibbling at the clickbait of another non-story. Sky sports Lyall, we’re looking at you. There’s nothing new been added to the ongoing rumours. No fact. Just another line as part of a generic summary about things that may / could / might happen.

Benrahma is still a Bee

Said Benrahma will, of course, leave Brentford at some point. That’s how football works. With The Bees, especially so. It may even be in the next week. But as has been made apparent time and again we have no need or particular desire to sell. Unless, of course, the right offer is made. The club have proven our players can do it at the very highest level (Ollie Watkins at Aston Villa the obvious latest example) and we’re just not going to give away our crown jewels any more. West Ham are going to need a much bigger cheque if they’re even vaguely serious about this one.

Which, traditionally, they’re not. At least in offering the asking price. Long is the history of them being talked up about serious offers for players that never materialise. They are the club linked to more rumours than Donald Trump. More fake news than err, well you get the gist.  How much they generate to keep their fans quiet under the belief that things are ‘happening’ (oh, what a shame it didn’t work out but we tried) and how much is purely down to ‘journalists’ selecting them as ‘transfer rumour club of choice’ I have no idea. But it’s all nonsense. Always is. Better source needed. Like selecting ketchup over HP, it’s just wrong.

My own source suggests there’s no hope of us giving in to a cut price deal. At face value, our finances look healthy. We’ve seen that incredible take up of fans in letting the club roll their season tickets over to next season. Over 90% opting to freeze their season tickets rather than take any form of interim / full-time refund. That’s one outpouring of cash we don’t need to worry about for now whilst Ollie’s £33m is more than helping balance the books. Thanks very much, Dean .

If Benrahma is to go to the Olympic stadium it’s going to need a bid that, at the least, matches the money needed to release Ollie to Aston Villa. Cut the crap and cut to the chase if you are even half-way serious. Good luck with that everyone. Frankly, he’s more chance of turning out in their claret and blue than that of the Hammers based on the current situation. 

It may change, of course. Sometimes these things can happen. Perhaps the offer will have an extra ten million added to it. But I’m not holding my breath. Not overly worried, either way. If he goes then he goes. It all only be on terms that makes us very happy and very well off. If Said stays then he’s another part of a squad that has already seen David Raya and England U-21 goal-scorer Josh Dasilva extend contracts in the last week or so.

If that seems a bit blasé then it goes without saying that my preference would be for Said to continue his journey with Brentford. I’m not a complete idiot. We all know what he can do on his day. We know there are few, if any, with the ability to control a ball or pul of tricks the way he can do. To beat his man with one foot tied behind his back (metaphorically speaking) and pull of goals of the highest quality. Make no mistake, Benrahma is a rare talent. Any squad is stronger with him in it and I’d love that to be ours.

But whenever he eventually leaves we’ll be quids in and with the confidence that our directors of football seem to know what they are doing . Are two steps ahead of the rest and have got ‘the model’ working just right now. Those early days of Marinus and Proschwitz nothing more than a blip.

Very much the magician

Right, Gibraltar.  The boys from the Victoria Stadium proved they can do also it on the road. They travelled to Liechtenstein last night and made it two wins out of two in their Nation’s League qualifying group, topping the table at the half way point. Tjay De Barr the man to make his mark in the record books, ten minutes in to a game which featured a masterclass in ‘rock’ solid defence towards the end. Hats off, Kyle Goldwin. Amongst others.

The game was as notable for another win as it was the latest appearance for the new Gibraltar kit. Gone is the traditional ‘coat of arms’ badge and, instead, the new crest and stylised stripes to represent ‘The Rock’ (consistent across home, away and ‘third’ kit) were all present.

Whilst the red/white home shirt does have feel of the GFA being sponsored by Citroen, the change variants are beautiful. Forget the marketing buzzwords (oh please, can we forget marketing buzzwords) and uplifting music that accompany launch videos. Instead, let’s just marvel in this and the black / gold third choice worn recently against Malta – itself my favourite of the three. Is it too soon to start a Christmas list?

Third choice is best

And talking of kit, there’s something very special up on eBay at present for Brentford fans. The famous non-branded Hummel shirt worn in the interim period between the Danish giants parting ways and Core taking over in the mid 90s. I understand that monies raised are all going to support a local football club and, whilst looking like it is out of yours truly’s price bracket (oh, that Griffin Park auction is still hurting), these things don’t come around too often.

Yet we can only end where we started, with Said Benrahma. For what it’s worth, I think we’ll absolutely cash in at some point. I just can’t see it being on the cheap to West Ham this week. We’re talking about the master, not the apprentice. Karren Brady and the board are really going to have to spend big if this is one investment they want to make.

There’ll need to be some big talking in the boardroom

Nick Bruzon

Here’s hoping a change in garb sees a change in form.

19 Oct

Phew. We’re back. International break has been and gone in a cloud of mixed results (England going down to Czech Republic and Gibraltar almost pulling off the mother of all come backs against Georgia) aswell as those awful ‘off-field’ scenes in Bulgaria. Domestically, Brentford have officially launched the special shirt that will be worn today at home to Millwall whilst Leeds United have followed suit with their centenary effort for the visit of Birmingham City. Something that is as stylish as it is impressive – mainly because it sees them kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon rather than at a time dictated by their Sky Sports overlords.

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Today is the day

First up, Griffin Park. Obviously. It seems an eternity since the 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest. Thank goodness. Primarily because it was about as turgid a performance as it is possible to see. From both sides. The teams were set up to cancel each other out and boy did they do that. A defensive glitch seeing the hosts take their chance when it came in an encounter that really put the stale into stalemate. 

The only lasting memory to take from that one being the long-term knee injury suffered by Sergi Canos. Boooo. That’ll happen though when the man-in-the-middle offers no protection to anybody and leaves his cards back in the Forest changing room. Urghh. Referees. Still, at least with Stuart Attwell at the helm today, we can be sure of quality decision making and consistency from the man in black. 

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Man in black, assuming he runs out in the traditional grab of course. Who could forget that it is Brentford rather than Millwall who are the ones who will be in blue today? The reason for that being to mark our first-ever victory at Griffin Park, back in October 1904. The 2-0 win agasit Millwall Athletic being the first time the Bees had genuinely deserved to win a home game and the shirt being worn today is designed to pay homage to that occassion. Let’s hope its not the last time we win a home game prior to leaving for Lionel Road at the end of the season.

Whatever your thoughts on this one (and I DO love it), it seems to have made rapid progress off the shelves. The limited edition boxes that came with the initial orders have already cleared out as fans pick up this uber-smart, and sponsor free, variant on our home colours.

For those baulking at the price (£60 for an adult shirt) look positive – at least it isn’t the £149 that Leeds United have charged supporters for their own centenary effort to be worn in today’s game against Birmingham City. My word, it IS lovely but that’s a sum of money even yours truly would have had to say no to. HOW can they justify it? How can fans afford it? I couldn’t. You could buy three or four away tickets at Elland Road for that price. Yet, the limited run of 1919 sold out in minutes and is now retailing on eBay for anything between £400-£2000. Not that they have any bids but at some point somebody will crack. Possibly.  

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Good luck with that…

Still, we digress. Back in West London, we’ll be facing a Millwall side who no longer have Neil Harris in charge following the manager’s shock resignation at the beginning of the month. He is a man as linked with the Lions as Harchester United and that toe-curling ‘run out’ song / goal music about jellied eels i.e. intrinsically. 

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Harchester United – did ‘The Den’ proud.

As such, his departure was news that caught everybody cold. The club moved quickly to put Adam Barrett, who had initially joined as a first team development coach, into the caretaker’s hot seat.

True to form in such situations, he immediately recorded a win – against Leeds United of all teams. Yet with the ‘caretaker first game victory’ out of the way (a result as predictable as Brentford in the play-offs or the curse of  ‘manager-of-the-month) , does this now open things up for us?

Whilst we are missing our talismanic Spaniard, the Lions have their own headaches. The first of which being the absence of goalkeeper Frank Fielding, injured in the aforementioned game with Leeds. As a Bees fan, I’m shedding no tears here – he’s quality. Except, perhaps, in that it means we’ve one less chance to pull the Big Book of Middlesex Chronicle 80’s alliteration from the shelf. Fielding foiling us from a free kick being one  line that can’t be used today.

The big question being who is going to be pulling the trigger today? If not from dead balls then certainly open play? 7(seven) goal Ollie Watkins, pressed into a role as emergency front man but filling his boots in the Championship goal scorer charts? Or more traditional striker Nikos Karelis? Nick the Greek yet to start a game since joining the Bees but now starting to put in the appearances from the bench as he picks up fitness. 

We love Ollie in our house. Almost as much as Sergi and Pontus. Personally speaking, I’m well happy if he continues in this position and I fully expect he will. However, it is genuinely intriguing to see what Nikos might do when given a bit more than a fifteen minute cameo to chase a game. Is he the next Neal Maupay? Might he be another Nick Proschwitz ? (yes, that DID happen). Or is he just emergency cover until Halil Dervisoglu rocks up in January? Whichever way he goes, there’s only one way to find out and that’s not by getting splinters in your arse. Roll on that moment of returning to full fitness so he can have a decent stab at seeing which way this one will transpire.

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Here’s to a few more of these later today

Elsewhere, the time away from these pages has seen Euro 2020 qualifiers dominate the headlines. England went down in the Czech Republic but put matters right against Bulgaria a few days later, coming one short of administering the brackets that go with a 7(seven) goal scoreline. As we are all well aware however, the result is the last thing anybody will remember from this game. The stomach turning sight and sounds of fascism and racism from the home support being images that are indelibly engrained on the memory.

Nobody needs a lecture from me on this – and you aren’t going to get one. We ALL know how vile this is whilst the way English conducted themselves does need to be applauded. Next stop, UEFA. And FIFA. Will the authorities have the balls to actually do something credible for once? Or will it be yet another pointless slap on the wrist? I pray for the former and fear the latter. Let’s see what happens…

On a more positive finish, Gibraltar lost in their qualifying group. Again. However, much as in the narrow 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland, it was a game that saw them playing out of their skin to come ‘oh so close’ against higher ranked opponents. This time, the visitors were Georgia who despite racing in to a 2-0 first half lead, saw parity restored before snatching a late, late winner at the Runway end of the Victoria Stadium. 

Yet rather than heartbreak for the boys for The Rock, it was a performance that should be viewed with immense positivity. Primarily because it was one of the most attacking displays I’ve seen them put in . Rather than ten men behind the ball and a series of stat building sideways/backwards passes, they pushed forward. With intent. The second period in particular seeing them put in a shift that caused even Mrs. Bruzon to note ‘They’re faster than Brentford’. I’m taking that as a compliment . Even at 3-2 down, they kept going and almost rescued a Euro 2020 Group D qualifying point.

It wasn’t to be, this time. It’s coming though. From small acorns…..

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Two Chipolinas. There’s only two Chipolinas. (and two Casciaros, two Hernandez’…)

Nick Bruzon

The top 12 ‘search terms’ lead to an awkward repeat of past form.

27 Aug

The calm between the storms. Brentford have been and done with the game at Charlton Athletic. The visit of Derby County awaits. I’m not going to deny that Sunday saw somewhat of a cop out in regards to the blog – albeit I stand by what I did. Sometimes, less is more and one can only hope that is the approach taken this coming weekend. Having all the possession and chances counts for nothing if we can’t quite do the business in the final section of the pitch. Something that I am sure will be put right when we receive our latest visit from Frank Lampa….. sorry, old habits die hard.

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Being John Frankovich  – no longer a thing 

But with a lazy approach to the weekend review and nothing really happening on bank holiday Monday (from a footballing perspective), that Derby game seems a long way off. On the plus side, it has allowed a chance to play around with the backend static data on these pages. This is territory we visited back in the very early days of this site. So early that  Uwe Rosler was still in charge at the time. 

Screenshot 2019-08-26 at 21.30.58It was a chance to look at the search terms used by the Internet ( I can take no credit for that side of things) to drive people to one of these articles.

Phrases that, when typed into AOL (Ah, Connie – whatever happened to you and your interactive dress?), Google or Ask Jeeves would then suggest that there may be a relevant article on these pages. Or an interesting one. Your definition of both may, of course, vary.

Yet whilst proving a great source of data, these ‘search terms’ also reveal that there are some people out there with a very niche set of preferences. And that the combination of seemingly innocent key words used in the context of a football blog may be less than innocent when typed in by the (probably) sticky fingers of cyber nerds.

People have ventured here whilst looking for everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some of them Brentford related. Some of them not. Amongst other things, these include:

sex pies

Frank Mcparland milk

Sam Warburton naked

Sam Saunders rubber glove

Dickie Davies Asahi beer

Helen Chamberlain leather

Barry Hearn Chuckle brothers

How much is Matthew Benham worth

Harlee Dean fishslapping

Buzzette snapchat

Feet pictures

And my particular favourite : Nick Prochwitz tattoo. 

The mind boggles as to whether that was somebody looking to get one or simply checking out the player’s own bodywork . Either way, not good. 

Sam and Dickie. Both have been pictured over the years

Yet whilst looking through these search terms, one in particular caught my eye. Super Victor. In an instant I was taken back three and a bit years to a piece written at the start of the Euro 2016 football tournament and UEFA’s chosen mascot. He of the aforementioned name. Something particularly pertinent given the recent piece about the 2020 equivalent, and it still hurts to say this….…. ‘Skillzy’. Urghh. Feel so dirty.

If the top knotted friend of the children is bad, and he/she/it IS, then it’s nothing compared to the accident that was Super Victor. In more ways than one. You’d think UEFA would learn and hark back to the simpler days of Sweden 1992’s ‘Rabbit’.

Ironically, one so popular he was ported over directly from the previous tournament in 1988 – the only time a mascot has appeared twice. But no, instead of a reproducing rabbit they went for Super Victor. And by the time he had been plastered all over the 2016 tournament, it was too late.

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(l-r) Rabbit 1988/92 ; Super Victor 2016 ; ‘Skillzy’ 2020

Only then was it discovered that he shared his name with what was tactfully described as a 5.5kg, 10 inch long ‘industrial sized’ marital aid. People checking out the story at the time were advised not to look up ‘Super Victor Toy’ or visit online adult ‘shopping sites’. Please don’t do it now. I did, for research purposes, and have had to delete my history.

Connie and Jeeves would likely have gone into meltdown whilst nobody wanted any embarrassing incidents in the name of research. The Guardian were amongst those who lead the story back then. They also quoted a source from UEFA who advised, “All we can say is that they [the sex aids] are not produced by Uefa.

Given Braemar Road JJ had broken the whole ‘Skillzy’ story, I felt duty bound to return the favour last night and introduce him to Super Victor. NOT like that. Get your minds out of the gutter. His own take was as special as last time: 

 That mascot really is taking a shocker but, mate- if there’s anything even more wrong than a mashup between Corey out of Slipknot and something from Japanese Kabuki theatre, it’s a six year old with a serious coke habit…

And, as ever, I can’t top that. JJ – here are the keys to the Last Word site. Over to you sir…

Nick Bruzon

Team 54 becomes team 65 as Bees welcome new boss and Gibraltar go again.

17 Oct

Well that’s been all go yesterday. With Dean Smith having joined Aston Villa last week, Brentford announced the news that everybody associated with TW8 was expecting – namely, the appointment of Thomas Frank as the new head coach. With Leeds United fans still, seemingly, upset about the performance of ref Jeremy Simpson during our recent draw at Elland Road, their goalscorer Pontus Jansson is facing an FA charge for his own post-match comments. Over in Europe the UEFA Nations league has dominated international break with the headlines being made not by the new-fangled theme tune but by Gibraltar, who have broken their international duck in some style.

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Thomas opted for ‘signing shirt’ rather than ‘scarf aloft’ or ‘fake contract’

First up though, Thomas Frank has now been named as the new Brentford head coach. It is news which has surprised nobody, despite the best efforts of the bookmakers to talk up anyone from Roberto di Matteo to Marinus Dijkhuizen (pity anybody who ‘invested’ there at the terrifying odds of just 33-1). With Thomas being an integral part of the Griffin Park back room staff since December 2016, and his clearly visible role on match days, there was really only ever one name in the frame. Continuity being the absolute name of the game here.

Chief executive Mark Devlin used Twitter to reflect that : Thomas has been an integral part of our development over the past two years and deserves this opportunity.

Co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen followed up his own words at last week’s fan forum by noting how: “Thomas knows the Club’s strategy inside out and he is both respected and supported by players and staff at the Training Ground. He has played a major role in the development of our style of play over the past couple of years and we believe he is ready for the job as Head Coach.”

You can read that article in full on ‘official’. Albeit, I can’t imagine there are many who haven’t been there yet.

Yet the most intriguing tweet comes from Jonathan Burchill, whose statistical nuances are very much in the line of a Luis Melville when it comes to niche. And then some. He notes how : In last 40 years Brentford have had 4 promotions. 3 of the successful managers were internal club appointments: Warbs (13-14), Andy Scott (08-09) & Phil Holder (91-92).  The 4th being the promotion season of 98-99 where Noades appointed himself.

It’s an obvious appointment. It’s a sound appointment. The players know and respect Thomas. The fans are familiar. There’ll be no tip-toeing around getting to know each other. As pertinent, and as Jonathan noted, we’ve considerable success at Griffin Park doing things this way. Whilst I’m just the numpty on the terrace, this one seems a complete no-brainer even to me.

The only two questions I have at present are, firstly, whether Thomas will continue with rotating the captaincy? One would assume so, given the talk about this at the fan forum. Equally though, as an idea that Phil Giles confirmed was originally put forward by Dean Smith is it one Thomas will take forward? I hope so. If only to see Neal Maupay given the role at St. Andrews or for the return Leeds United match.

Secondly, and perhaps the most important of all. What will his match day attire consist of? Tracksuit manager, sports-casual or smart suit. Whilst current indications suggest the former, who knows what difference the new role might make to his own sartorial stylings. Roll on 3pm Saturday when we find out.

As for Leeds United, we’ve skipped over the post-match nonsense and barracking of Jeremy Simpson on these pages since that game. Largely because its all a bit pointless.

Shocking news –  supporters feel hard done by and blame referee for both their own inability to win a game and recent blip in form after a storming start to the season. Who’d have thought it?  Seemingly, one (correct) penalty decision given to tinpot/little etc etc Brentford is the reason for their own slip from the automatic positons into the play-off zone. Something that, for the record, I am sure will only be a temporary one.  

Pontus Jansson, their goalscorer that day, has now been charged by the FA (as have the club for fans throwing objects at Neal Maupay) after accusing the referee of ‘robbery’ and saying on live TV that the result felt a bit ‘shit’.  There’s talk of conspiracy, too. Seriously? Get a grip. They’ll no doubt get over it. Jansson will no doubt be found guilty of charges he has until 5pm today (Wednesday) to respond to. Leeds will no doubt be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. They’re too strong. They’ve too much backing and Sky Sports love them (another game moved now, along with our own Monday night trip to West Brom. Joy). What conspiracy?

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Neal’s penalty was well received by players and fans alike

I could rant. They can rant. They can nibble at the obvious fishing-rod emoji. It’ll change nothing. Let’s focus on ourselves. Let’s be gutted by not taking three points in a game that was there for the taking. Let’s see how Thomas rallies the troops to go one better at home to Bristol City on Saturday.

Next up, Gibraltar. Wow. After 22 consecutive losses in competitive football since they became the 54thmember of UEFA back in May 2013, the tiny nation (think an international Brentford if you want some comparison of general commentating cliché and relative size) has finally won a first game. And then another. Much like our own 65 bus, you wait ages and then two come along at once.

Saturday’s 1-0 win in Armenia was followed up by last night’s 2-1 win at home to Liechtenstein. A first ‘official’ win on home soil (friendlies not counting) and the first time they have scored more than two goals in a game. It was wonderful stuff to watch and about as tense as it comes with an additional 6 minutes of stoppage time added at the end.

Sky sports may wind us up with their Leeds United obsession or fixture shenanigans but the ‘blue button’ option was a life saver last night. Fuzzy feed from Gibraltar being beamed directly into sub-channel six and an opportunity to watch history being made. Sensational stuff.

Sensational, that is, until the ref blew for full time. Within about ten seconds the post match euphoria had been killed. Instead of players celebrating or excited interviews, the live stream was replaced by the footballing equivalent of the test card.

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Talk about a post-match passion killer

What can you do?  With Armenia beating group leaders Macedonia, this one is suddenly wide open. Miracles can happen. Gibraltar are now vying for top slot in group D4 and promotion to Group C where they may then be afforded the chance to play some of the bigger teams in Europe. Or Scotland.

All that’s a long way off. For now, it’s all about enjoying the moment. And what a moment it was.

Getting back to all things Brentford, the eagle eyed amongst you may have seen further progress at Lionel Road. With the South stand dominating the horizon, work on the East stand is now clearly visible. Whilst the groundwork has been underway for months, anybody approaching the site can now see clear evidence of one ‘end’.  

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The second stand appears

These are exciting times. I’ve no desire to wish my life away but, by the same virtue, things at Griffin Park at Lionel Road and on The Rock are all on the up. I can’t wait for more.

See you Saturday. Bring on Bristol City…..

Nick Bruzon

Get the goal, slow it down and secure the win. Easy !! And a possible ‘best ever’ shirt.

26 Mar

Well that was some weekend. Despite Brentford not being in action due to International weekend, the cause of our lay off has not been without it’s talking points. Alan Judge completed an emotional return to the Republic of Ireland team despite his side going down in Turkey. England fans completed an embarrassing return to Amsterdam despite the team going on to register a win. Over in Gibraltar, Liam Walker of Notts County scored the only goal of the game as the boys from the Rock beat Latvia 1-0, despite never having previously registered a win as a full member of FIFA. Get in you beauties! And could Andreas Bjelland be turning out in the mother of all shirts for Denmark tomorrow night?

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What a win for Gibraltar

We can only start with Gibraltar. Despite being 16/1 to beat a Latvia team who sit 75 places above them in the FIFA rankings, a return to the Victoria Stadium across the road from the airport after a two year soujourn in Portgual came with the most wonderful of results.

You can’t ask for anything more than a clean sheet, a goal and a win on your return home. And that’s what we got. Liam Walker stepping up after a tense game to hit the most delicious of dead ball winners, Sam Saunders style, with the clock almost at it’s denouement.

What a moment.  A first victory on home soil. A first victory as a FIFA member. A first clean sheet in, erm, some years. Regular readers to these pages will know of Gibraltar’s goals ‘against’ being the international equivalent of Birmingham City or Leeds United. Fishing the ball out of the net has been a lot easier then putting it in there. A statement that is made with absolutely zero offence intended. A statement made by somebody who has played (badly) at the same stadium that Walker made his mark and who was there as Belgium went beyond brackets late last summer.

The strides that Gibraltar have made on the international stage since becoming members of UEFA in 2013, for a nation of their size, have been vastly impressive. Both at international and also club level where Celtic were, of course, beaten by Lincoln red Imps in a 2016 Champions League Qualifier

And now we have a win. This is a moment of huge significance and how appropriate that it is Liam Walker who should get the goal. The record cap holder and, with this strike, heading to the top of the scoring charts. Whilst the Chipolinas and Casciaros of this world are, perhaps, the household names it is Walker who is currently ploughing a lone furrow as Gibraltar’s ‘export’ to the English football league.

Plying his trade for a Notts County team very much at the business end of the League Two table. A Notts County team that knocked Brentford out of the FA Cup in the third round and for whom Walker came on to the Griffin Park pitch to shore things up late on when the teams met back in January. We noted then his prowess and now it has been demonstrated in the most visible and global of styles.

Get the goal, slow it down and secure the win. Next stop, the Nations League in the autumn. Easy. In theory. I can’t wait.

The. Moment. Danny Higginbotham, eat your heart out

Before that is the World Cup. Whilst Ireland didn’t make it this time, we can’t let the moment of Alan Judge’s return to international football pass without mention. If Gibraltar’s win was of huge national significance, Alan’s own appearance was equally significant – purely for personal reasons.

We all know how he was set for Euro 2016 until that horrific assault at Portman Road left him with a double leg break that has taken the best part of two years to recover from. It is a journey that we have all taken alongside him in spirit although one cannot begin to envisage the tremendous psychological and mental fortitude that has been required to get him through what must have been some dark hours. Let alone the physical recovery.

Alan’s tweet – simple but beautiful

To see Alan put on a Brentford shirt once more has been a thing of beauty for Bees fans. Yet to see him in his national shirt really was the icing on the cake. Congratulations, Alan. What an honour and what a moment. Here’s to the next set of qualifiers…

The current round of friendlies concludes this Tuesday with Andreas Bjelland, Henrik Dalsgaard and their Denmark team entertaining Chile. Ordinarily, I’d call this as April fool but we’re a few days early. However, it would seem that when they  run out against Alexis Sanchez and co, the Danes will be wearing a quite unique shirt. One that celebrates their heritage and has been, apparently, put together by the fans based on classics over the years.

I hope this is true. It’s so bad it’s brilliant. Very much the Nicolas Cage of football shirts.

I’d love one.  

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Is this for real ? Wow !!

Nick Bruzon

Time for an annihilation? It’s already happened. Twice. Newcastle set the standard ahead of our Villa Park trip

14 Sep

Brentford travel to Aston Villa tonight knowing victory will take the Bees into the top six following last night’s opening games in the current round of Championship fixtures. Newcastle United hammered hapless QPR 6-0 at Loftus Road to retain second place whilst, over in the Champions League, Barcelona went one better and attained those legendary brackets as Celtic came home on the wrong end of a 7(seven) – 0 humping.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

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

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 2016 to May 2017 along with a smattering of new material, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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How’s that going?

 

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Ian Holloway – lining up against…?

 

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Dave Gorman

The test of a real football fan (or just a kit nerd)

Nick Bruzon

Super Lincoln go ballistic, Celtic were atrocious

12 Jul

It’s been done before. I don’t care! Brentford fans, you get your ‘Last Word’ fix tomorrow.Right now, let’s just cut to the chase and reflect on the enormity of Lincoln Red Imps (champions of Gibraltar) beating Celtic (one time European cup winners) 1-0 in the Champion’s League .

Long have these pages celebrated those fleeting moments of triumph from this most fledgling of footballing nations. Long have we absorbed the mocking of Spanish (and other) supporters.

Yet, yet, yet…. write off anybody at your peril when it comes to football. Forget the statistics. Forget the futsal. Forget the tippy-tappy. When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing that counts – the result after 90 minutes.

“A result which ranks as the most embarrassing in Celtic’s history.” Not my words but those of journalism’s, The Independent.

“The Shock of Gibraltar: Celtic beaten by minnows in Brendan Rodgers’ first match.” Not my words but those of The Mail.

Brendan Rodgers’ first game as Celtic boss ended in humiliation as his Hoops side were humbled 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in in the first leg of their second Champions League qualifier at the Victoria stadium.” Not my words etc.etc…. The Telegraph.

“Celtic suffered arguably the worst defeat in their history when they were humbled by Gibraltarian part-timers Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League second qualifying round.” This time from the BBC.

“We wanted an easier job after the first leg, and this makes it a bit more complicated, but we will be fine for the second game.” Most definitely not my words but those of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

Brendan, I wouldn’t be so sure.

It was a scoreline you can only dream of.Let’s not forget that Gibraltar (pop 30,000ish) have only been UEFA members since 2013.  If Iceland beating England in the Euros may have been deemed an upset, this one comes in at an 11 on the Richter scale of shocks.

Forget sleeping giants. This was a sleeping policeman. MOD police office Lee Casciaro giving Rodgers a (cardiac) arrest in his first competitive game at the helm of Celtic.

No, being the clear answer

What more can you say? Celtic are still giving it large, despite having lost. On reputation and history then surely they will sweep the boys from Gibraltar to one side in the second leg next week.

The again, on reputation and history they should have done that on Tuesday night.

What a result. Congratulations to Lincoln Red Imps in producing a shock on the Rock. Here’s to the second leg…..

Nick Bruzon

 

As the EURO winners show, what would be our Phoenix From The Flames ?

18 Jun

With EURO2016 now fully underway, Friday’s games saw Spain crank things up a notch and Croatia lose it – on and off the pitch. With much of what involves the England fans dividing opinion and generating some very contrasting views from those ‘on the ground’, there was no doubting what we saw on our TV screens yesterday. Plus, in an effort to blow away the current glut of Griffin Park tumbleweed, we have Brentford thoughts, updates and pictures.

First up, Croatia. 2-0 up and cruising against the Czech Republic, not only did they throw it away to be held 2-2 but their ‘fans’ have, surely, lined them up as the next nation to be given a suspended disqualification alongside Russia. This, after a shower of flares and firecrackers descended onto the pitch from the Croatian end as the game reached it’s denouement.

Combined with fighting amongst their own fans, they were ugly scenes that also saw one steward lucky to escape injury as a device went off in his face. Slaven Bilic, talking as part of the ITV panel for the Spain game, attempted to quantify it with the observation that “There are many fans who are against the FA”. That these are protests against a perceived Zagreb bias in Croatian football.

I can’t comment either way on that. My knowledge of the wider problems in European football extends about as far as when Gibraltar’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Belgium is going to take place. But what I can say is that, like the flare launched at England fans during the Russia game, one can only wonder again how security – with France on its highest state of alert – is working? Moreso, just what can UEFA do, if anything, to stop what should have been a wonderful tournament (and still can be) turning into one which will as much be remembered for all the wrong reasons?

As for Spain, a second clean sheet and three goals against Turkey saw them step up an ominous gear. Wth many people’s favourites France leaving it late to record their second victory, the Spaniards by contrast made their six points look simple. After 61% possession, 707 passes and 18 shots (although with goals to match those stats)  they’re already in to 10/3. Forget patriotism – grab that price whilst you can.

Just one other observation on the Spain game, which comes courtesy of Jamie Lovell (@jtlovell1979 ) on Twitter. I can’t take the credit for this but he put into words, wonderfully, the exasperation many of us were suffering from at the hands (or voice) of co-commentator Tony Pulis.

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For me, Clive

Look positive Jamie, at least it wasn’t Glenn Hoddle

Ok, back home and Brentford. I took a stroll past Griffin Park yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to stick my head over the wall. I have to say the pitch is looking wonderful already.

Granted, the club took the steps to dig it up as soon as we’d played our last ‘home’ game ( if I recall, some sort of thrashing administered to Fulham, wasn’t it?). That, following the pitch-gate shocker at the start of the season.

But, you have to say, credit for what seems to be a job well done already. Here’s to seeing how the Bees perform on it when Championship action recommences in August.

Griffin PArk June 2016

The pitch is looking luxuriant

And when it does, Brentford will find themselves joint 7th (seventh) favourites for the title. Checking my online bookmaker for research purposes this morning, this odds are now up and we’re priced 20/1.

Somewhat stingy for a team who, by our own head coach’s admission, were in a relegation scrap as recently as March? Or easy money for a team who have rediscovered the way to goal via Scott Hogan and those signings who have now ‘bedded in’ to the side? Either way, this is how the bookies see the Championship at present.

And finally, Euro ’96. Kind of. With the football in everybody’s faces at the moment, even the radio is getting in on the act. You can’t move on Absolute Radio at present for World in Motion or Three Lions. Which is no bad thing.

The latter, especially, bringing back all sorts of memories. And not just about how terrifyingly bad David Baddiel was at singing. Seriously, that was the best take?

But talk on the subject amongst some of my Brentford supporting friends led from there to the TV show from which it sprang, Fantasy Football League (of course, co-hosted by Frank Skinner). In particular, the ‘Phoenix From The Flames’ segment in which a famous moment from footballing days gone by would be recreated on a council pitch, featuring the original protagonists.

Specifically, conversation got onto the topic of which Brentford moment would we recreate? Perhaps with the wonderful Sean Ridley and Jo Tilley in the Baddiel and Skinner roles ?

That penalty’ is perhaps too obvious Besides, having not really been discussed in the media after the event, people might not remember. Other topics for consideration included:

Mike Grella destroying Bournemouth; Jota v Fulham; Paul Hayes and Will Grigg being less than on fire when taking home debut penalties; promotion v Preston; Gary Blissett knocking Manchester City out of the FA cup and inciting a banana wielding pitch invader; DJ Campbell giving Gary Breen nightmares.

In the end, though, we settled on cup action. Against Everton. Richard Lee’s penalty saves were the highlight for many but, equally, the pre-game footage of the respective club mascots still gets a watch every now and then.

Whilst the respective kids must be close to teenagers now, that would almost add to the recreation. That said, I’m not sure if we could afford Leighton Baines’ appearance fee.

Could this be recreated, Phoenix style?

Until then, here’s to a weekend of six games and, hopefully, some more magical moments.

Nick Bruzon

The game is here and England WILL win. Fighting talk?

16 Jun

Finally. The match that has been a stand out on the domestic fixture list for the last 7(seven) months is here. England take on Wales today. But will there even be a game?

Of course there will although the morning after the night before, with 36 more arrests after further trouble and tear gas, could UEFA come anywhere close to their threat of sending Russia and / or England home?

Russia going down to Slovakia yesterday has aided their chance of a natural return home but, surely, England will have too much in the tank for the Welsh? Qualification for the second round a certainty. I don’t predict much but I’m predicting this. 2-1 to England.

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Matt Dyson – guru

A small number of supporters seem hell bent on getting Roy Hodgson’s team thrown out of EURO 2016.” Not my words but those of news guru Matt Dyson on this morning’s Absolute Radio Christian O’Connell breakfast show. An over reaction or genuine fear?

Fear not helped by Wales manager Chris Coleman predicting the game to be “an old fashioned dust up”. Probably not the best choice of phrase amidst all the fighting talk in the build up to the clash. Again, probably not the best choice of phrase etc etc etc …….

Whatever the cause and whoever is to blame, the scenes we’ve been shown back home are pretty horrific. Billy Grant and Stan Collymore (a pairing I never thought I’d put in the same journalistic related sentence) have been doing their thing over the last few days. Brentford supporters’ Dave and Billy’s Beesotted page continues to pump out the blogs (with their YouTube footage going viral) whilst Stan has been running the gauntlet of ‘supporters’ and accusations of being a ‘snitch’ as his video links on Twitter are starting to take on a life of their own.

There’s not too much else to say today. I have genuine excitement about the game but, at the same time, it is tinged with an uneasy feeling of awkwardness.

Not about Wales winning – although if the reaction is anything like Gareth Bale’s pre-match mind games that will be horrific. Max Boyce and Manic Street Preachers all over the radio; Welsh footballing icons such as Vinnie Jones and Robbie Savage giving it large. Possibly.

Vinne Jones Wales

Vinnie Jones – Welsh

Should they win then it will, no doubt, be deserved. Likewise, congratulations offered. But they won’t win.

The awkwardness isn’t even the underlying worry that, with French Police ready to wield the tear gas and Ingerland supporters displaying their penchant for bawling out God Save The Queen in Town Squares, something is going to give. And then UEFA are gong have to make an unpopular decision one way or the other.

No. It’s something worse than that. With an England game just hours away, the ‘alleged’ supporters band will be tuning up and polishing their French horns.

Nobody wants anymore violence, that’s for sure. But if I hear ‘that band’ doing their thing then I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

Nick Bruzon

As one door closes, another opens

14 May

Friday was a day of both sadness and celebration. On the down side, shocked fans and families were coming to terms with the announcement about the Brentford Academy ‘restructure’ .The positive of the day, certainly on a personal note, was the admission of Gibraltar (along with Kosovo) into FIFA. On pitch, Sergi Canos could make a shock Liverpool debut whilst it is advantage Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship play-off with Brighton.

First up, the Academy. Today’s column is not to criticise the club for this decision. Putting aside the huge emotional aspect for the individuals involved, one can only assume this isn’t one that they have taken lightly. Or at least, I hope not.

The Academy was much heralded as part of our future model upon opening. It was a set up that, rightly, all at Brentford FC  seemed proud of. The supporters and community, likewise.

And now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, it is all over.

Having read and re-read the somewhat wooly ‘official statement’ I’m still not 100% clear as to the full reasoning or, certainly, why it was made so quickly. Likewise, how the alternative will work in terms of finding players?

Cost, lack of end product, viability, competition and a belief that alternate methods will work better all seem to be contributory with the financials being the primary driver on that first part. Certainly if you are to read lines such as :

We cannot outspend the vast majority of our competitors

and

Moreover, the development of young players must make sense from a business perspective. The review has highlighted that, in a football environment where the biggest Premier League clubs seek to sign the best young players before they can graduate through an Academy system, the challenge of developing value through that system is extremely difficult.”

So what has suddenly changed?

There wasn’t a hint of a mention when Rasmus gave his ‘state of the nation’ video address prior to the Huddersfield Town game. Likewise, as has been well identified on social media, the club even paraded some ‘future Bees’ on the pitch at half time in the 3-0 win over Fulham. That was just two weeks ago.

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing

I cannot for one second believe we would be so heartless as to do that to our youth. Whilst the parade of the Under 8-s has an unfortunate reminder of Marinus being put in front of the fans where we were told everything was going well, before being sacked just days later, this leak (along with the subsequent statement) has more than a whiff of Village-gate.

Equally, how do the press get hold of these internal stories? Why are our ‘official statements’ so poorly written? Is somebody purposely leaking this information to do our dirty work for us and, almost, prepare fans for the worst ?

Like it or not, this is a decision the club have made. I’m just desperately hoping that we have some form of follow up to further clarify matters. The press love a ‘bad news’ story whilst supporters are upset. As Bob Hoskins so famously said, “It’s good to talk“.

OK – Gibraltar. Exciting news !! UEFA’s Team 54 are now Team 211 in FIFA after football’s world governing body last night accepted their application to join by an overwhelming majority. Members at the annual congress in Mexico City (it’s never Blackpool or Grimsby) voted 172 – 12 to allow them in. Presumably 11 others going (again) with Spain in voting ‘against’.

Understandably , if not quite “dancing on the streets of Raith” , social media was awash with excitement, celebration and congratulations for FIFA’s newest member. Whilst there is now hope that Gibraltar can be parachuted into one of the World Cup qualifying groups for Russia 2018 before that kicks off, I’m just pleased to have a ‘feel good’ story coming out of FIFA.

Congratulations Gibraltar. Here’s to that first qualifying point. See you in ……?

Gibraltar bots and bag

Gibraltar have packed their boots to start life as FIFA team 211.

And on the subject of ‘feel good’, could Sergi Canos make his Anfied debut on Sunday as the Premier League season comes to an end? With Liverpool taking part in the Europa League final against Sevilla on Wednesday evening, I’d imagine that Jürgen Klopp may make ‘a couple’ of changes for the weekend’s game with West Brom.

I’m still desperately hoping that Sergi comes back to Griffin Park next season (one can only live in hope) but I’d love to see how he goes in the top flight. It was a privilege to watch Sergi’s career blossom at Griffin Park and he certainly ended the season on fire. The Premier League title and relegation have been decided but there may still be more intrigue to come.

Next up, Sheffield Wednesday. They lead Brighton 2-0 after the first leg of their play-off semi final. I only know that from reading the Internet. Having  turned on to watch after Coronation Street had finished (don’t ask) I turned promptly off.

Being greeted by ‘That band’ massacring ‘Oldham’s song’ will do that to you.

This summer’s  EURO 2016 finals could make painful viewing.

And finally, a HUGE thanks to all those who have so far downloaded both the Last Word ‘season review’ (Ready. Steady. Go Again) aswell as the three year anthology (The Bees are going up). These are both available now.

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Goal of the season winner Sergi (and Gibraltar) both feature

Nick Bruzon