Tag Archives: West Bromwich Albion

Set your alarms for 5.30pm. And also the future.

1 Oct

Well this got interesting. With Newcastle United ghosting past Newport County last night (needing an 87th minute equaliser and penalties), Brentford go into tonight’s league cup tie with Fulham knowing that victory could make us the only club outside of the top flight in the quarter finals. Or are we still calling it the round of eight? Hopefully not. Let’s file that atrocity with Mrs. Browns boys, eXpresso (sic) and the England ‘Supporters’ ‘band’. Only Stoke City, travelling to Aston Villa, remain as EFL representatives.

Seriously……

Forget Fulham. Please. Leave them to their clackers and gin. This is all about Brentford tonight.  This is all about the first phase in what has been a frenetic opening to the League Cup drawing to a close.

The fifth round doesn’t take place until just prior to Christmas. The relentless cycle of mid-week games that has seen us go full tilt towards the final eight clubs now paying for breath. Win or lose, we’ll all be able to concentrate on the league. For a while at least.

With that in mind, how hard does Thomas Frank go? We’ve never reached the quarter-finals before and so this really does represent an excellent chance to achieve that aim. As our head coach noted in Wednesday’s press conference, “Everyone who is involved in this beautiful sport would like to change history and be a part of history. We would like to achieve the first bit of that by qualifying for the Quarter-Final. That is why it is a big game for us.

Thomas also confirmed that Said Benrahma would be part of the squad whilst Saman Ghoddos now has international clearance so is also available. I’d expect the former to start. Presumably a substitute’s role for our latest acquisition.

Rico Henry has a low grade hamstring injury but the medical opinion is that niggle will have cleared up by the weekend. We all know the rest of those faces likely to be fighting it out for a start. I can only imagine Thomas will keep similar faith with the bulk of the team that knocked out Southampton and West Bromwich Albion in the previous two rounds. The bench could be very tasty, too….

As if anybody needed reminding, this one has been changed for TV. The game is live on Sky with a 5.30pm kick off. It’s amazing the amount of people caught out by changes in kick-off times before (something as frustrating as getting to the gates, only to release you’ve left your season tickets behind). I include myself in at least one of those categories.

So, if any prompt is needed, it’s a 5.30pm kick off with coverage beginning half-an hour earlier. Set your alarms.

Don’t forget…

The obvious elephant in the room is the W place. Not so much what happened a few months back but more the fact we can only see that point being bludgeoned to death. One can only hope the commentary team and pundits will avoid the obvious low-hanging front but its just too predictable and easy a target not to take aim at. Which is a shame because this should be all about reaching that stadium again. About two teams who have responded to the start of THIS season in very different styles. About what is to come. 

Stop. Stop. It’s already dead..

As Thomas also said in his conference when faced with the obvious question, “For me that is the past, it is history. What we can affect, and do something about, is the game tomorrow which is a huge opportunity for the team and the Club to write history.”

Well done. I don’t care about ‘revenge’ or any such pay back. For me, if there is any consideration given to the opposition this evening, it is merely to show, once more, what an irrelevance the Michael Jackson fanclub are. This is all about us. About taking another step towards our future and unchartered ground. Another step towards the quarter-finals. Another step towards silverware.

And with all the subtly of a wrecking ball, if ever life for Brentford was all about the future then nowhere was it more apparent than at Griffin Park yesterday. We’ve already had the farewell tours and that absolutely bonkers auction (cripes, I’m still paying for that…) but now the builders really are moving in.

I know a lot of fans find this distressing and, to be fair, it’s not something I’m going out of my way to hunt down. However, with the twice daily school run talking us past the old ground, anything new happening is sure to attract attention. Sure enough, yesterday afternoon’s trip really does seem to indicate that the end is nigh……

The builders are moving in

Still, as is very much the theme of today’s thoughts, the past belongs there. It really is all about the future. That continues this evening at Lionel Road. See you on the couch at five-thirty.

Enjoy.

Nick Bruzon   

A good news/bad news kind of start to the day.

23 Sep

Another win for Brentford. Another game unbeaten. Through to the fourth round of the league cup at the expense of a West Bromwich Albion side who may have seen this one as a chance to restore some morale. Instead, the game ended two apiece – three of the goals coming from spot kicks and Marcondes with a sublime overhead kick – before we went through 5-4 in the penalty shootout. The reward for this being a visit from either Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday in next week’s fourth round. That, and the knowledge we’ve already defeated more Premier League sides than all three of those that made the jump up from the Championship last season. Leeds United the only one of those to taste any success (and that in the game of haemorrhaging defences against the hapless Cottagers). What a shame there was nobody allowed in to see it.

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

The expected changes to both teams were made. For Brentford it saw a return to goal of David Raya and a start for Marcus Forss, amongst others. Rico Henry, Emiliano and the sublime Sergi Canos also getting another runout from the off (let’s hope they can manage to avoid over exertion) after doing the business against Huddersfield on Saturday. With a strong bench that was well utilised the Bees were as strong as one could have expected. Certainly given the constant procession of midweek games clubs have had no choice but to play given the way the previous campaign was extended. It still makes no sense to even be playing the competition this year but, hey-ho, player burnout is a secondary consideration I suppose.

And if we are playing it, how nice to see Brentford doing so to the best of their available ability. West Brom barely got a look in during the opening half. Canos flashing one just wide and Emiliano hitting the post from distance. Fosu impressing throughout. The hosts with the one moment of danger just before half-time with a free kick awarded on the periphery of Saunders territory. It came to nothing.

Yet if the first half had seen everything but a goal, it all changed after the tea. The hosts took the lead form the spot. Dominic Thompson adjudged to have fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. The Baggies man picking himself up to give his side the lead. It was a lead that lasted less than two minutes and one which was cancelled out in fine style. Apparently.

We say ‘apparently’. Yours truly missed out after “Doing a JJ”. The net rippling off the back of Marcondes’ quite wonderful bicycle kick as this numpty had gone for a ‘splash and dash’ . Regular readers may be aware how back in the days we were allowed into grounds, it was a feat that the Giant Scot with the Pea sized bladder used to pull off with abandon from the Ealing Road terrace (missing goals by having to go for a wee, rather than bicycle kicks). Yet after suffering the same fate for our second on Saturday , has the baton been passed? Cripes. I hope not. 

If for no other reason that having fallen behind again to another Robson-Kanu spot-kick (not seen a worse ‘pen’ decision since Pontus elected for his infamous biro) we were then given our own chance to level things up.

‘That’ BIC

Daddy”, said H (I would imagine, if his teacher is reading) “wee. Go again”. One had to be impressed by the wordplay, if not the ignominy of being banished to the bathroom. I guess if you have to go, you have to go. Sure enough, it worked. Nothing to do with Marcus Forss at all. Like the lucky shirt, magic pants and not shaving, is this a new ‘omen’ to top the lot? Urghh.

Anyway, 2-2 it stayed. David Raya pulling off a flying save relatively late on to preserve the scoreline and justify his place back in the team after injury. The Twitter hate mob seemed out for our captain for the night. Makes a change from the quite bizarre Ivan/Sergi angst being seen in certain social-media quarters. Go figure. Nothing like getting on the team’s back based on nothing more than unfounded rumour. Anyway, if you’re one of those me banging on won’t change it. And if you aren’t, then presumably its nothing more than weird. Cripes. Considering some of the dross we’ve had over the years, the current squad is light years ahead.

Something proven from the full time penalties. Goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney getting things off to a fine start for a Brentford team kicking second. The pressure of following the lead always adding an extra layer of pressure but, If it was there, it didn’t show. Josh Dasilva made it 2-2 with his own ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ style run up. Fosu and Forss were there for three and four. Then, David Raya did his thing. Diangana denied and the stage set. Up stepped Christian Nørgaard and there was no mistake made. West Bromwich Albion denied. The Bees through. A visit from another of last season’s Championship rivals next on the agenda.

We find out tonight whether that will be Fulham or The Owls. Brentford looking forward rather than over their shoulders at what might have been. At what happened last campaign. When pushed on whether this win was seen as revenge, Thomas Frank noted : “That’s the past, this is the future”.

With it, comes a chance to set our own personal best in this tournament. We’ve never reached the fifth round before. That game at Birmingham City being as close as it has got in recent years. Now, we’re all set for another crack.

Before that though, there’s a chance to rest tired limbs over the next few days. Saturday sees the trip across London to face Millwall. I’d love to be going – as much for the pre-match pub crawl as the actual game. Again, an action now denied and one with no end in sight. The latest announcements from the government curtailing any experiments with letting spectators back and meaning it looks like March, at the earliest, before we can even consider attending a game. ‘For the greater good’ and all that but let’s not pretend this isn’t soul destroying. That this isn’t devastating for so many, if not all, clubs on the financial front. That football without fans present and watching on I-follow is an ersatz replacement for the real thing.

I don’t really want to end on a downer. The prospect of Preston had been dangled like a carrot. That’s now been snatched away and for the foreseeable too. Waking up and listening to the radio this morning makes for hard news. We want in. We want normal. We just want to go and watch a game of football.  We aren’t allowed. For crying out loud, wash your hands and wear a mask. Like it or not. Believe it or not. Let’s all just do this . Please. I want to watch football. Not listen to Boris giving the impression of a man making it up as he goes along.

The latest rules invoking a virus busting cut-off at 10pm mean anyone wanting to watch the Arsenal – Liverpool game down the pub on Monday night will be kicked out with the game approaching 85 minutes gone. Small consolation, I suppose. And nothing Arsenal won’t have experienced before with fans streaming out early.

Before 22.00, everything is just fine. Be warned, horror awaits straight after.

Instead, let’s end with the thought of another fine performance. Of our MOTM Marcus Forss scoring. Again. With thoughts of Brentford continuing our winning form. Of taking consolation that, had we gone up last season, we’d have missed out on being physically present for that. 

Here’s to Millwall on Saturday. See you on I-follow.

Nick Bruzon 

The wait is over…

22 Sep

And with that, Saman Ghoddos finally became a Brentford player after the 27 year old attacker signed on a year’s loan from Amiens SC, with the option for a further two year permanent deal. The player put pen to paper and, with it, provided much relief. Not so much because it saw a 16 month pursuit come to an end but more because it meant we could finally retire those ‘Waiting For Ghoddos’ quips made by just about the entire internet in the build up to this one. I say quips. The line had been used so often it had become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. He’s gone straight in to training although one would suspect tonight’s trip to West Bromwich Albion in the third round of the league cup might be a leap too far.

The wait is over (sorry, sorry, sorry)

Speaking to ‘official’, Thomas Frank waxed lyrical about Ghoddos. So did Rasmus. Our head coach noting that along with his off the ball play, “He will bring good attacking qualities in the final third. He is good in one-on-one situations, is a good crosser of the ball, and makes very intelligent passes….He also has a personality and style of play that will work well with the group.You can read that piece, along with the thoughts of our top-knotted Co-Director of Football, here.

Imagine, somehow, the deal to take Said Benrahama from Lionel Road fails to transpire. My word, we’d be overflowing with attacking riches. I still can’t see that happening. Stadiums need to be paid for, books balanced and we’ve made no secret of the fact we expect him to leave. Yet, if things did play out differently…..

Like Pontus and Andreas (err), Saman had his moment in the World Cup 2018 sticker book

Still, we’ve not even seen our new man in action yet. The expectation from some fans no doubt huge. Players can take time to adjust. Others hit the ground running. For now, I’m glad we’ve got Bryan and Sergi tearing it up on the drive forward. That Josh Dasilva has picked up where he left off in the middle of the park. Canos in particular looks like he is planning for fun. Freedom of movement and confidence exuding from every pore. Long may that continue.

Whether tonight sees him get another run out or rested will be revealed when the team to play West Bromwich Albion is announced at 6pm. Don’t forget the early kick off if you are looking to follow this one on the ‘player’ option. £10 passes are available via the cup sponsor’s website and can be bought here

A trip to the Hawthorns feels very much like a case of déjà vu. They were one of the many teams we beat in the post Lockdown ‘run-in’ last season as Brentford came oh so close to making that step up. In the end, it was the Baggies that made it. Deservedly so. They got over the line in the final game and rightfully claimed their reward. 

Last time out against West Brom

That said, it has shown how hard the step up is. From going toe to toe with the Bees and Leeds United, they’ve now been on the wrong end of eight goals conceded and nil points as Everton and Leicester City have both feasted at the Slavan Bilić all you can score buffet.

Still, there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded, err, Throstle and they’ll no doubt be looking to reset the form this evening. A home tie against a lower division ‘team like’… sure to have their eyes wide open and the players waking up this morning dreaming of the fourth round. The publicity seeking nature of the cup sponsor means we already know the reward for victory – a home tie with Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday. Their current ‘thing’ of doing the next round draw before the current one has even begun something designed as much with the intent of generating publicity, outtrage, knee jerk reaction and social media comment aka free advertising. So I won’t. You know their name. 

That’s their choice. We’ve ben treated to all manner of bizarre draws in the past. It’s their hilarious gimic  – something that has become about as amusing (and tedious) as an episode of Mrs. Brow…..

Instead, focus should be on going through. On getting the win. Rather than be distracted by the prospect of a local derby or the chance of a rematch with the final team to face Brentford in front of a Griffin Park full house.

The thought of playing the Cottagers something that will only see all the references to last season and the denouement of ‘that’ run in dragged up again. Oh. Joy. It’ll be like Doncaster Rovers all over. Something. Something. Something. Penalty.

Oh well. As Matthew Benham once said, “It’s become like a zombie that we can’t kill. But what can you do, eh?”. That, in regards tour transfer model but it feels much the same. We bounced back from that in style. I’m fully expecting the same thing to happen this time around. Needless to say, we’ll have the last laugh.

That’s for the future. For now, there’s another game. Could David Raya return? Will any of the new boys feature. Might Marcus Forss start? Could Ivan Toney get the goal he was so close to on Saturday afternoon. Roll on kick off. See you there – in spirit.

Let’s hope tonight is less tedious than…

Nick Bruzon 

A fine win. For Brentford.

17 Sep

Get in! We’re through to the next round of the league cup. Brentford warmed up for Saturday’s game at home to Huddersfield Town with a 2-0 win at Southampton. A much changed Bees lines up, which could only name five substitutes due a positive Corona Virus test in the B-team, ran out against a virtual full strength Saints outfit and will now travel to West Bromwich Albion for round three. That, a game where victory will see us equal our furthest run in this competition. Elsewhere, Bees United were getting excited about Midgetland’s performance in the Champions League. Priorities and all that.

What are the main talking points from this one ? Well, given the lack of TV coverage or attendance (thanks a bunch, Corona) watching the game was a no-no. Instead, we had our friends at radio and the brief smattering of YouTube highlights (which are now online) to keep us entertained. That, and Sky Sports news on mute. Besides, we don’t really do full-fat match reports on these pages ( a mantra as well worn as “and if you’d like to read more”, which you can do here, with all money received from the season review e-book going to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust).

The first, a powerful header from Christian Norgaard, late on in the first half. The Danish midfielder left unattended by the Southampton defence and ghosting in to make the perfect connection. The ball, cushioned by that luxuriant bouff, pinging off his head with the sweetest of contacts as home ‘keeper Alex McCarthy stayed rooted to his line. A delightful finish and one which saw the newly capped international on the Brentford scoresheet for the first time in his career.

Minutes later, it was 2-0. Josh Dasilva with a trademark goal from distance. His shot from the edge of the box was low and hard, finding the back of the net from just inside the left post. It was a fitting end to what sounded an action packed first half. Certainly one backed up by that meagre video selection which offered up nothing more than a Luke Daniels save in the second period.

2-0. Game over. West Bromwich Albion and a reunion with Romaine Sawyers await. The chance for another Premier League scalp. Brentford still the David team rather than divisional stablemates. I forget exactly what happened there. Oh well. We’ll make it this time, I’m sure. Just look at he reaction to the season of Doncaster and ‘that’ penalty (and if you’d like to read more… )

Josh shared this one at full-time. The joy apparent

The other huge take away from this one was the Southampton kit. My word, that’s gorgeous. I hate to go all shirt nerd (again) but the deep red with white sash combo was a thing of beauty. Proof that stepping away from your traditional stripes to pay homage to history can work. If Kitman Bob has plans for a ‘third’ shirt this season then we could do well worse than go down this route.

Sartorial and footballing magnificence

On Twitter, we had a reminder of Matthew Benham’s ‘other’ team over in Denmark. Bees United posting news of their European triumph. The obvious question being why? Who cares? I mean, good luck to them and all that but I have no more allegiance to them than I do to West Ham. For example. Imagine supporting Brentford and them?

I’m glad our owner’s Danish side aren’t in any apparent trouble but that’s about as far as it goes. We don’t support two teams. We don’t wear half and half scarves. There are more important things to focus attention on. When it comes to FCM I take a leaf from the book of Simpsons bartender Moe Syzlak, “I’m a well wisher, in that I don’t wish you any specific harm”.

Syzlak – well-wisher. Of sorts.

That said, if the long awaited ‘Benham derby’ was to ever take place then you could be sure Lionel Road will be full for that one. If only to prove a point.

Assuming fans are ever allowed in. Thanks bunch, Corona.

For now, though, it’s a case of job done. Very well. Brentford are into the third round of the League Cup. Why the tournament is even taking place in what is already an over-crowded fixture list thanks to the extension of last season is another question. Personally, I’d have canned it. The easy way to put a dead duck of a tournament out of it’s misery. A footballing ‘last of the summer wine’ – hanging around for years and years with the big players rapidly losing interest. But, it IS still here and any win is a win. Any chance to progress towards the W place one which we’ll be looking to grasp.

Hopefully the B team will be out of isolation shortly and able to help us in that cause. Take care. Be safe. And bring on Huddersfield Town.

Nick Bruzon

The morning after the night before.

23 Jul

Where to even start? What a soul destroying end to an incredible season. A punch to the stomach that even after sleeping on it, feels awfully numb. For sure it’s hurting now, Brentford fans, but we are still in this. We’ve now got a two-legged play-off semi-final with Swansea to look forward to. The dream of Premier League football is still on. We’ll just have to take the long way around. This, after our 91st minute defeat by Barnsley consigned the Bees to third place in the table. That’s still an amazing achievement but with West Bromwich Albion drawing at home to QPR, destiny would have been in our hands.

Alas, not. The chance was unable to be taken on an evening spent sitting in our friends’ back garden on Brook Road South, watching on TV but all ears on Griffin Park. Hoping against hope to hear the cheer from Peter Gilham that would have signified a goal before the tv footage caught up. It is a cheer that only came once – and we were so busy running around the garden in excitement, singing at the top of our voices, that I’ve still not seen Josh Da Silva’s 73rd minute equaliser. It is one that will now need to be repeated on Wednesday when Swansea visit for the second leg.

I’m already past caring about the facts of our 2-1 defeat. We don’t really do match reports at the best of times and it won’t change anything raking through the bones of this one. I’m sure the players are hurting as much as the fans. For a beautiful moment in the first half we were there. For a more incredible period we had the last quarter hour to get the one goal which would have seen us reach the top flight, assuming things stayed the same at The Hawthorns. QPR somehow levelling things up at 2-2 in their game with West Brom. 

Pressure built. Excitement mounted. The clock moved on way, way too fast. And then, on 91, the most almighty cheer from Griffin Park. Yesssss. What a time to get it. We’d done it. Odd that Peter hadn’t announced the scorer but perhaps he’d been overcome with the emotion of the moment. This one we weren’t going to miss and we ran back indoors, just in time to see Barnsley players celebrating their late, late winner. Oh. Ahh. Move along, nothing to see here. It was a winner which, combined with other results, means their Championship survival is assured. 

Heartbreaking. A son in tears the likes of which I’ve never seen before. A season and a week that promised so much, over. For now. But to remain upset (an understandable emotion) won’t help Thomas Frank and his team. It overlooks the fact of our highest league finish since the 1930s. It ignores the simple truth that we are still alive. We are still in this one. We’ve still got our second bite at the cherry. We’re still in the play-offs. 

That’s where we face Swansea, who hit the top six late into the evening. Their 4-1 win at Reading, combined with Nottingham Forest going down by the same scoreline at home to Stoke City, means it is the Swans who make it by virtue of a quite remarkable goal difference swing. One has to feel for the fans at The City Ground. If we’re feeling it today just imagine what they must be going through. 

It was news that put a smile back on HB’s face this morning. He’d been truly worried about the prospect of facing them. As much for footballing reasons as the fact that they broke Sergi earlier in the season.

It’s brief today. No need to pad it out with all that good stuff about picking ourself up and getting back out there. West Bromwich Albion have gone up so congratulations to them. Our turn is next. We know how good this team are. How stunning they have been this campaign. Now it’s down to Thomas Frank to recharge his players and remind them what they are good at – winning football matches.

See you on Sunday when it all starts again.

Nick Bruzon  

What will happen on Wednesday?

21 Jul

Tomorrow it all happens. Brentford face Barnsley. Mark Warburton takes his team to West Bromwich Albion. We all know the maths. We all know what almost happened, but didn’t quite, at Stoke City. That’s football. Our fans seem to have fallen in to two camps since then – the vast majority who appreciate what might have been, how far we have come, how incredibly well we have performed this season and who are gutted beyond belief that we were unable to make it 9 wins in a row at Stoke. Then there are the self-indulgent few. Still bleating about how they are justified in preaching negativity at, and about, their heroes. No doubt the same faces who were calling for Thomas Frank’s head earlier in the season. The same ‘fans’ who will be first in line to say how amazing it all is when we go up. Whether that be Wednesday night or a few weeks later at an empty Wembley.

Ah, you know what? I’m done with it. It’s a simple equation. We were all hurt to miss out on the all important win, but that’s different to bitching. If you felt that strongly then, let alone now,  say it to an individual’s face. And if you still feel that way then just leave the rest of us to support the team and you go wallow in a bottle of Strongbow Dark Fruits. There are more important things to focus on. For clarity, the game with Barnsley rather than a re-run of the infamous mascot race that saw Buzz robbed by Toby Tyke back in 2016. Sadly, Covid-19 means our furry friends are nothing but a beautiful memory for the moment.

mascot-race

But what happened next….?

Of course, the only matter of consequence at Griffin Park will be the three points (technically one) needed to for a final tilt at second place. Albeit acknowledging the ‘deal with the devil’ which that would involve – namely, wishing well on the team from Shepherds Bush. Aside for the small matter of our own beating Barnsley, the Loftus Road outfit avoiding defeat is key to us securing automatic on Wednesday night. 

For what it’s worth, my personal take is that we’ll complete our own side. With Barnsley still hanging in there, any chance they have of Championship survival is dependent on their also winning the game. On scoring at least one goal. Which means we’ll likely be afforded more freedom to attack as they drive forward themselves, looking for the the back of the Brentford net and, as a consequence, leaving gaps. It’s the sort of thing this team exploit for fun.

The visitors won’t make it easy, though. Their game with Nottingham Forest on Sunday saw the Tykes dominant, peppering the visitor’s goal before finally taking the lead late in to Jota time. They’ve done it once and will no doubt be full of belief that they can do it again.

Yet on the assumption we can do our job, what next? What happens at the Hawthorns? Ahh, it doesn’t bear thinking about. It can’t be fathomed or quantified. I’ve a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach – not so much at them stitching us up but more the fact that this is totally out of our hands. Just as it was on Friday night when the Baggies went to Huddersfield Town. 

One has to adopt the approach of trying to ignore it (purely on health grounds) and looking just at our own result which, of course, will be nigh on impossible. Any change in score will be brought to us immediately – Sky do love a final day in-flight ‘As it stands’ table. And with Griffin Park off limits it means that the TV, I-Follow or local radio will be the only way for all barring the directors to follow this one.

Should West Brom slip up then we’ll be waiting to pounce. Pressure does strange things and a game their fans are likely considering a foregone conclusion against mid-table opposition could still have a twist in the tail. Slaven Bilic is a huge character and he’ll no doubt have his players set for this one – dreaming of the top flight , just as we are. Crucially aware of how close they’ve already come to relinquishing control. Something they’ll obviously want to avoid as we enter the final round of games in the regular Championship campaign. Will all of this start affecting the psyche and the approach? Causing a few jitters and a lot of mind games. Or is this just what it appears to be on paper  – a home banker ?

The QPR factor will be just awful. What will Warbs do? Will he even give us a moment’s thought? Will he have a point to prove? Is it one of those where he tries out a few of the kids for next season?

Don’t go checking the bookmakers’ websites if you are looking for any comfort. Only one team is coming out of that smiling. And they don’t go shopping at Westfield. Then again, even Stoke City were 5-1 to win on Saturday and look how that ended. Strange things can happen. 

We’ve been incredible this season. Magnificent. A style of attacking football and rock solid defence that has thrilled us all. A team that have had the fortitude and determination to reel in all those above us after a shaky start to the season. A 0-1 home defeat despite battering one shot Birmingham City in the season opener now the stuff of distant memory.

It took us a while to find our feet but once we did , wow ! Guts. Courage. Never say die – oh, that Millwall game. Goals. The brackets earned in the 7(seven) – 0 destruction of Luton Town. Humping Sheffield Wednesday in our last game at Griffin Park (in front of fans). That relentless never-say-die run of 8 games in a row as we have come within sniffing distance of ‘automatic’.

This team can do it. Whether it takes one game or four we WILL be in the Premier League next season. 

DSC06540

What a finish to the game with Millwall

Nick Bruzon

Don’t @ me. This isn’t even close to 94-95.

19 Jul

Where do you even start? It could have been dreamland for Brentford but instead we have to fight on. The dream of promotion from the Championship still well alive but one which is now reliant on either West Bromwich Albion dropping more points on Wednesday or us going through the play-offs. In a high pressure game at Stoke City the combination of brutal opposition, terrible refereeing from Geoff Eltringham and hosts set up so intent on smothering us that penetration was nigh on impossible all saw us slip to 1-0 defeat. The usual attacking flair booted out of us by a team boasting more kickers than a French exchange student. If Friday’s win for Huddersfield Town had felt like some cathartic relief from the 25 year pain that has gnawed away since the 94-94 play-off semi-final ( a moment for me which was way worse than ‘that’ penalty) yesterday brought the heartache of the 2002 play-off in Cardiff flooding back.

kickers-boots-kick-hi-i-core-red-p69103-128016_image

You see, they’re also a brand of footwear popular with…

We’ve all seen it. There’s no point in going through even the briefest summary of the highlights beyond saying that our hosts had clearly done their homework. Brentford tried but had no way past. Eltringham and his team missing two blatant penalties (the second especially). Ethan Pinnock coming oh-so close at the death.

Much like the Doncaster game, going through the carcass of this one won’t change a thing. Pawing over the dead duck that was Crewe or Yeovil at Wembley doesn’t help. Nor does whining about the players, the team or their apparent ‘bottling’ it on social media. 

Sure, we’re all hurting. I am, and as much because I’ve followed this team through devastation and lowpoints since the back end of the 70s. My son, too. He only knows  Brentford set to ‘amazing’ mode and was in tears as this one reached a heart breaking conclusion.

Heart breaking as much because of the most incredible way this team have come together over the last few months. The team spirit and desire shown as they’ve caught up with our rivals through nothing more than guts, determination and win after win after win. Eight in a row, to be precise. The excitement and happiness they’ve engendered in a fanbase doing their best, and usually struggling, to get through the awfulness of lockdown. They’ve kept many of us going in a way more incredible than they  probably realise.

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For half an hour, the dream was on…

There’s been some nonsense spouted on social media about their apparent bottling it yesterday. Justified in the guise of: Oh, I’m hurting – I can say what I want. Now shut up and f*ck off.

Yes. We’re ALL hurting. Aghast to have missed out. It was the most amazing opportunity and, you know what, this time it wasn’t able to be taken. Couldn’t be taken. But to even get into that position is an incredible achievement.

To still be well alive with two more bites at the cherry is not to be sneered at or overlooked. 

Of course people are gutted. They have every right to be – it’s the natural emotion at a time like this. Our entire fanbase should be. I am. Beyond belief. But as much because I know how close we’ve come and how hard we’ve worked to even get into that position.

It was always going to be fragile opportunity, given how far off the pack we’d been when this amazing run started. Moreso, when in a game of few chances and bus parking opposition, we needed the help and protection of the officials. Not their failing an eyetest. Now, destiny is out of our hands as quickly as it had got there.

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You can’t blame Stoke for setting up as they needed to

This one feels different though. The season is still alive. We’ve not been relegated or lost a final. We’re still in with a huge chance to get promoted.

If not directly (and I’d hate to picture the scene in the Gilham household this morning, knowing that we are in the hands of West Bromwich Albion not winning when the Loftus Road mob visit on Wednesday) then via the play-offs. In all likelihood, needing to get past Cardiff City or Fulham in the final. Football. A cruel mistress.

For me, there has been no lower point than standing in the paddock, watching the celebrations amongst the Huddersfield Town players and staff back in ’95. I remember it still. Numb. Devastated. Shell-shocked. A glazed feeling washing over me. Not able to move but just stare out across Griffin Park and into space. Something made even worse by our actually coming second that season and the reason, in part, of my loathing Birmingham City so much.

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94-95. The all time kick in the nuts

Yesterday wasn’t that. It wasn’t even ‘that penalty’ levels of awfulness. It was brutal. Devastating. But it’s not the time to be slagging off the players and the team for not winning a game. If that’s your thing and way of coping then fair enough – I can’t argue with that mindset but would also ask this…..

Would you have the balls to say it to their face? To tell Thomas Frank or any of the players that you thought they bottled it. Bottled it. Were a team of bottlers. To actually say those words ? In person?  Hmm. It’s not so easy being a keyboard warrior for real.

That’s me done. @ me all you want. I don’t really care. From this point on I’m only focussing on the game with Barnsley. The thought that, as it stands, we are a possible 90 minutes away from the Premier League. I just wish I could be there on Wednesday night to join in.

As the returning Sergi Canos ( itself, a cause for celebration) noted last night: “Disappointing result but there’s no time to think about it. We are an amazing club as a whole on and off the pitch and we are going to keep fighting until the end. 

THIS IS NOT OVER YET.

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Sergi and his fighting spirit are back

Nick Bruzon

  

Thank you Huddersfield. What happens now after a fantastic Friday?

18 Jul

Oh my word. Feeling ok this morning Brentford fans? Did you sleep? How are the heads? Today could be immense. The door IS now open. The game at Stoke City no longer one about keeping pace with West Bromwich Albion but, all of a sudden, we’ve been handed the chance to overtake them. Their defeat at Huddersfield Town last night offering up the chance for us to join Leeds United in the Premier league. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe the post match celebrations last night. Caution and potential the feeling this morning.

Huddersfield Town were immense. Their 2-1 victory earned in the most high pressure of situations. An early lead only adding to the pressure being felt in TW8 as it looked like 86 minutes of backs to the wall defence would follow. The stress levels already through the roof bwhen the Baggies equalised just before half time. Their goal looked a mile offside but all protests were in vain. The dream of an unlikely loss nice whilst it had lasted but surely there was only one winner from here? The Teriers hung on. Half time came and went. The second period being chipped away in five minute increments. The drive from West Brom relentless. It was only a matter of time before they broke through the last line of defence. 

I’ve never enjoyed a game less. At least, with Brentford, you know the players. You know who is who and what could come from a situation. Relief can be taken from confidence in whomever is on the ball. Watching a team of what, to us, were relative strangers there was no idea whether it had just been passed to a Bryan Mbeumo or a Nick Proschwitz. Was that the Huddersfield Town equivalent of Ollie Watkins looking for the ball or Murray Jones ? It was horrible. Angst unlike any I’ve ever known. The clock moving slower than Neil Shipperly. The goal for the visitors only a matter of time.

Drinks break was reached. The score still level. The inhaler clasped close to my chest. It was awful. Awful. And probably more because we could see Huddersfield getting closer to earning us the unlikely draw that would finally offer Brentford the opportunity to overtake West Bromwich Albion. Football can be cruel at times. Teasing us like this before the inevitable goal that broke our hearts. Then it came. Nature called.

I had to go. 86 minutes gone and the push from the bladder could be contained no longer. The relative safety of my lucky seat had to be abandoned before it became a commode. And on return, the most impossible thing had happened. Huddersfield Town were ahead. Oh. My. Word? How? Who got it? Frankly, who cares? The only thing that mattered was the ball in the back of the net. Amazing.

Six minutes of time added on dragged even slower than the previous 90 but the Terriers held firm. They got the points that have ensured survival and offered Brentford a most incredible lifeline. For that, we can only say a huge THANK YOU. Now it is West Brom who have matters outside their control. Destiny is in our hands. Put simply, four points from the next two games will see Brentford in the Premier League.

That’s the exciting part.The theoretical part. The incredible opportunity that we have absolutely earned following win after win after win. The moment one which was very much enjoyed last night. Putting ourselves in the box seat is the first part. Now, there’s the small matter of doing it all again. Of looking to make this 9 wins in a row. And Stoke City aren’t going to make this any easier than Town did last night. We have the chance to turn the screw but can we do it?

Right. Cards on the table time. Unquestionably yes, we can and I truly believe we will. The Bees have been relentless in recent weeks and I expect this to continue. The experience of Pontus will, of course, be invaluable. His will to win evident. His desire infectious. But around him are young charges who are chock full of confidence. Of talent. We win from the front. We come from behind. Without being arrogant, we know how good we can be when we put our minds to it. Recent results have shown that. This is a cup final but, fortunately, one not being played out at Wembley. that said, don’t even begin to imagine the stress levels on Wednesday if Stoke do end the game with something…

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

We won’t win just by turning up. We won’t get anything by assuming we’ve a divine right to the points. This is about as high pressure a situation as they come. Yet, at the same time, the most incredible chance has been afforded us. West Bromwich Albion have been in the top two since October. The second the game kicks off today, Brentford will overtake them in the ‘As it stands’ table by virtue of a goal difference that is 12 better than the Baggies. Whether we are still there 90 minutes later is the big ask.

It won’t be easy. It probably won’t be fun. But if anyone can motivate his team to do it then Thomas Frank is that man. Roll on 12.30pm. I can’t wait for this.

 Of course, before we conclude it is only right and proper to offer congratulations to Leeds and their quite wonderful fanbase after attaining promotion to the Premier League. The top flight will be all the better for having a club of their stature back amongst the elite of British football. They’ve had a bit of a wobble but, for once, there was no falling apart. Again. Now, they are free from playing tinpot pub teams and will line up against the best in the land. Visiting the likes of Old Trafford rather than Bus Stops in London.

Before all that starts they’ve got two games left to put their feet up, give the kids a run out and even let Bielsa take a turn between the sticks. With only one other team, Brentford, able to stop them lifting the title there’s no way that six point gap can be reeled in. Is there? 

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Looking at the BBC table this morning….

Nick Bruzon

Paging Agent Devlin……

17 Jul

Well this is about as big as a ‘neutral’ game gets. With Brentford not playing Stoke City until Saturday lunchtime, Huddersfield Town have the opportunity to do both us and themselves a huge favour when West Bromwich Albion visit tonight. The maths are simple. The Baggies are one point ahead of third placed Bees with two games to go. Town are three points above the relegation zone. Anything but an ‘away’ win puts destiny in our hands after reeling in those above us over that hot streak of eight successive wins. It will also see Leeds United promoted after their own defeat of Barnsley last night. There’s only one team I’ll be cheering for this evening. And with all due respect to Romaine Sawyers…. 

Tuesday night was undeniably horrible. Had Fulham won at the Hawthorns, Brentford would have finally grasped the control we’ve fought so hard to snatch away from a team who have been in the top two pretty much all season. Whilst there was no specific support or cheering of The Cottagers, it was more a case of desperately hoping for home defeat. Preferably via an o.g. Instead, a 0-0 was the next best thing and means West Bromwich Albion have no margin for error this evening.

What a night it promises to be. Leeds United fans will, I am sure, for once be in agreement with us. If not in regards to the merits of Said Benrahma’s foul avoidance technique or their crying to the EFL about Thomas and his whiteboard, then certainly about intended results this evening. For 90 minutes we will be supporting the same team. Possibly.

And what a night it promises to be. Huddersfield Town. A team I’ve only ever loved. A club with a rich history and one we’ll be desperate to see stay up. Sir Patrick Stewart. Jodie Whittaker. Cricketer Ryan Sidebottom. Our Graham. Or is it Marco? Former Maxïmo Park keyboard player Lukas Wooller. They’ll no doubt all be cheering on their team in front of the TV.

How often can it be said we’ve shared a metaphorical couch with Doctor Who and Captain Picard? Fingers crossed that Town can ‘make it so’ tonight. Sorry. Sorry.

 

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Maxïmo Park – quite magnificent live. And great taste in football from the keyboard section.

But wait, there’s more….

Reece Dinsdale. Harold Wilson. Our own much loved former chief executive Mark Devlin, now performing the role at the John Smith’s Stadium. Let’s hope he and his crack team have a special hashtag ready for full time.

Clearly, Mark still has a soft spot for the Bees – that can be the only reason he was back as recently as January for our own hammering of the Loftus Road outfit.

The list of recognisable supporters is a long one. Even Bobby Madley was reported to be a fan of The Terriers. Apparently he also supports Huddersfield Town. Sorry. Sorry.

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Griffin Park, January 2020. And the goals flew in…

This is that all important crunch point. Where the only thing that matters is the result. West Brom won’t care if it’s a turgid 0-1. We’ll be cock-a-hoop for any combination of draw or home win. Entertainment is secondary. Stress levels will be through the roof.

Sitting through our own game with Preston on Wednesday was all kinds of angst – the final quarter hour especially. But at least we were the ones controlling maters. Now, our fate is in the hands of somebody else. This is THE game to sit through if for no other reason than surely we aren’t going to be getting any favours midweek when the Loftus Road mob travel to the Midlands.

The realist in me can’t see West Brom missing out on any more points. Sure they’ve dropped four more in the last two games alone but now they know what they have to do.

Sure, Leeds United are as good as up, meaning that all of a sudden there’s only one ‘automatic’ spot available but that won’t play on their minds. That won’t build the pressure.

Sure, with Wigan Athletic scoring goals for fun and having already surged 12 points clear of the bottom three (the amount of points they’ll be deducted on Wednesday night), their likely safety makes the Terriers even more reliant on getting something out of this one…

This is no way as cut and dried as the table suggests. Who could forget that final round of games in the 2014-15 season? Derby County somehow choking an unchokeable position, missing out on certain play-offs after hitting self-destruct at home to Reading. Likewise Ipswich Town at Blackburn as Brentford reclaimed our own top six spot at full time. Sometimes, the results do go our way. West Bromwich Albion have it all to do against a team fighting for their lives.

Mark Devlin, if you are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) then here’s hoping Cliff has slipped you a half and half scarf. Certainly, I’ll be supporting two teams this evening with Brentford the ones who could really benefit from the right result. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing ‘neutral’ about any of this….

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Here’s hoping the pressure isn’t too much

 

Nick Bruzon

Top, top football. Just two more to go….

16 Jul

And relax. For now. Brentford have done it again. This time with a hard fought 1-0 at home to Preston North End. That’s eight wins in a row and the gap to second placed West Bromwich Albion cut to a single point with two games to go. Ollie Watkins got the goal early doors, setting the scene for a stressful but solid performance to keep the visitors at bay. With us and the Baggies both facing trips to relegation threatened teams this weekend (West Brom at Huddersfield Town on Friday evening and then our own game with Stoke City the following lunchtime) there’s everything to play for heading in to the last few games.

My word that was tough. For the fans. The players looked comfortable and in control all the way through but a goal can be conceded in a moment. In a freak of nature. At the death and then all the hard work is undone. We’ve all been there too many times over the years. Thankfully, this team haven’t.

Ollie had found the back of the net with less than five minutes on the clock.  A thunderbolt of a shot on the half volley, latching on to a quite delightful ball through from Emiliano Marcondes. The Championship top scorer almost taking goalkeeper Declan Rudd’s head off as he unleashed a howitzer from just outside the corner of the six yard box with a defender bearing down.

Truly, it was class finish although as much praise is due to the build up play that saw Emiliano set a high water mark for Championship assists since the return from lockdown. Yet instead of opening the floodgates as so often happens, Preston stood firm. If anything, they came back in to the game and could probably consider themselves unlucky not to go in level. David Raya was on fine form between the sticks for his sixteenth clean sheet of the season – more than any other goalkeeper in the division. That’s when the Lilywhites got through – Christian Norgaard was as much a rock in front of the back four as Pontus Jansson was at the heart of it.

Watching on TV, you could see him bellowing, directing, guiding and shaping his team. The club captain filling the role in style. What a man to have around you in a pressure situation. How important could his experience prove over the next couple of days?

It was a stonking win, with absolute credit due to Preston. The longer the game went on the less likely it felt – to those of us watching back at home on TV – that a second goal would come. Instead, it was a case of gritted teeth and waiting for the clock to slowly wind down. Limping towards full time at almost snail like pace before a torturous five additional minutes were added on. Like being strapped to a chair and force fed Mrs. Brown’s Boys, there was palpable relief when it was all over. At least, from the fans watching at home. I’m sure the players will tell us they had no worries and it was all under control.

But for all the discomfort of watching the game from a distance, it played out wonderfully. The final score at full time shows it ended 1-0 to Brentford and the record books won’t give a damn that Preston did everything possible to keep there own play-off dream alive. The table doesn’t lie and we’re that single point behind West Bromwich Albion.

Having reached a place where we are now breathing down the neck of a team who were ten points ahead of us before the season took that mid-season hiatus, can we go that bit further? To come out of a game like that with the win is a sign of our top, top football. Our spirit. Our never say die approach.

To an extent, control is still out of our hands. Favours are still required. Even assuming we fulfil our part of the bargain, we are still beholden on assistance from Huddersfield Town or the Loftus Road mob. Could it really be a tale of two Marks to help get the Bees over the line? Chief executive Devlin or manager Mark respectively. 

That’s to come though. And all out of our hands. Even Thomas Frank admitted he’d be watching the game on Friday – but only because he’d have nothing else to do on the coach to Stoke.

We’ll be with you Thomas . In mind if not body.

Nick Bruzon