Tag Archives: West Ham

Is this the Chelsea starting XI? Time for more football romance and stupid dreams.

16 Oct

Silly o’clock. Been awake since 3.37am and there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, going on at this ungodly hour. Mrs B and little H are both fast asleep. Even Bentley the cat is yet to howl the house down at the first tread on a creaky floorboard. The internet has been surfed and vinyl I can’t afford bought. Hey, those Bluetones records missing from the collection aren’t going to buy themselves. Brentford shirts are yet to be acquired but the usual sites have a dearth of anything even vaguely interesting. We’ve got Chelsea this evening and I’d love to say the early start is due to excitement at the prospect of their visit but it isn’t. Nothing more than a warped body clock combined with good old fashioned insomnia. Hurrah! 

On the plus side, it IS the weekend. We’re back in action and at the time of writing, social media is already a litany of anticipation. Trips to Lionel Road already underway (Paul Ridley via Barcelona, we’re looking at you in particular) but there is also trepidation about referee Anthony Taylor building. Primarily from the Chelsea fans, it seems. Is there some beef there? 

Goes to Internet. Checks. Ah, yes. It would appear to be the case. The Daily Mail – with apologies for adding to their ‘hits’  – describes Mr Taylor as the club’s ‘nemesis’. Blues fans apparently ‘dreading’ the return of a man they launched a petition against after sending off Reece James for hand ball in the season opener with Liverpool. 

Been there. Done that. Had Keith Stroud on numerous occasions. Pain shared. Albeit attempting the route of petition is a step not even Brentford fans have undertaken. A gesture as futile as having a studio audience for a live recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Any ‘laughs’, surely, coming from the canned track.   

Blue isn’t the colour

Of more importance is who Chelsea run out with today. Good luck getting that right. The usual barometer of starting XI selection, Fantasy Football scout, is predicting several absences (Ampadu, Batshuayi, Thiago Silva, Emerson, Pulisic and Rüdiger aswell as several doubts). You can read their full fat appraisal here. However, even accounting for missing faces it is a line up that still looks immense. What hope do Brentford have in stoping this? In winning the West London derby and stopping our visitors from setting a record of 7(seven) wins on the bounce again teams in the capital. Aside from Anthony Taylor?

Predicted line up from FF scout

Well the great news is that Kris Ajer and Vitaly Janelt are both fit again after missing out at West Ham. Oh, those salty tears from the home fans are still as sweet as they were two weeks ago. Wissa you bloody genius. Shandon Baptiste misses out – a dislocated shoulder will do that to you – but otherwise we’re all good. A central three of Vitaly, Frank the Tank and Christian Norgaard is about as obvious as it comes. Rico and Sergi as wing backs with Ivan and Bryan up top. I can’t imagine any surprises from Thomas with a line up that should have the right balance of silk and steel to upset the bookies (still 26/5), the record books and the opposition.

Hey, one can dream. You have to though. The whole Premier league experience has been so utterly ridiculous thus far that why not keep on riding the crazy train? Wishful thinking and blind optimism have long overtaken common sense and logic. Results coming the way of a team and fanbase who are having nothing but fun. An experienced squad, bolstered by shrewd aquisitions, playing out of their skins in a consequence free environment. Nobody expects us to win. Nobody gives us a hope. Yet, somehow, the points keep on coming. Somehow we keep on defying the odds.

It still feels like relatively early days but after today we’ll be over a fifth of the season done. Brentford go into the game four points behind league leaders Chelsea. European Champions Chelsea. My word, if ever there was incentive to go for the win then here it is. Not that we ever play for anything except a win (the end of Brighton aside). 

The return of Buzz ended up being the highlight of the Brighton game

It was said pre-season that the only club we genuinely thought would outplay us were Manchester City. So far, there’s been nothing to alter that perception albeit we’ve had to be at the absolute top of our game. The way Chelsea have started, and played, only a fool would fail to lump them into that bracket of likely Champions and top ranked teams. More than a few FIFA setting above the Bees when you look at this with a factual perspective. But, as has been noted, we don’t do that.

Sure, they’d beat us 9 times out of 10 if you run the numbers. Perhaps even 10 out of 10. But football doesn’t work like that. Lionel Road is no ordinary place. Brentford a quite unique team. A bus stop club stepping out against a fleet of limousines. A fan base who raise the roof like no other. Give me our football romance and stupid dreams over squads worth hundreds of millions any day of the week. It keeps the blood pumping. The anticipation of a win rather than the expectation gives added edge so sadly lacking for those clubs for whom three points and silverware are the de rigueur lifestyle choice.

I go into this one with utter respect for what they have achieved. For where they sit. No question. And the same feelings are extended to Chelsea. Our boys have had a magnificent opening few months. Can it continue tonight? Roll on kick off. See you there.

West Ham away – last time out was wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

Nick Bruzon

A Twitter spat, illustrious opponents and swaps. Just another day in the top flight.

15 Oct

Magnificent. We’ve woken up to another ‘Teams like Brentford’ meltdown and the somewhat unusual phrase of Brentford 4th trending on Twitter. The reason being that, apparently, that’s where a supercomputer has predicted we’ll finish the season. Saturday’s opponents Chelsea are, apparently, going to be champions with Liverpool and Manchester City joining us at Europe’s top table next campaign. What quite makes a computer ‘super’ over a regular one I have no idea but its all good fun. Primarily the reactions from supporters of other clubs. 

Cripes, I’m as confident as the next fan but even I’ve only settled for the Europa League next season. Whatever the ZX Spectrum (or whatever machine was used for this in no way clickbait calculation) has come up with, this sort of story is ten a penny every year. In every division. They’re never right but they get us talking. So why not? Anything that winds up Leeds United supporters is all the better in my book. Moreso, given it has them way down in 16th. Hey. Perhaps there is something in it.

Leeds defend another attack

It’s all a nice distraction ahead of tomorrow’s big game. We spoke a bit about the West London derby yesterday. Brentford host Chelsea in a 5.30pm kick off which is sure to be blighted by travel chaos. South West rail is out of action with no trains stopping at Brentford, Kew Bridge or Chiswick. Likewise, Gunnnesbury tube will be out of action before and after kick off.

Instead, those three awful words (not : Mrs Browns Boys) have surfaced: Rail Replacement Bus. May whichever deity you believe in have mercy on your mortal souls.

With Corona Virus checks now in place after the soft launch for the Liverpool game, never has it been more widely advised to aim for an early arrival at Lionel Road. On the plus side, there’ll be cheap beer and food, the dulcet tones of Stu Soccer AM doing his thing with Peter Gilham whilst for anyone collecting Adrenalyn XL (the Panini cards rather than an energy drink), our Harry has a huge favour to ask. 

Has anyone in the North Stand anyone got any swaps? Assuming we can access it, he’ll be there by the Junior Bees bit at around 4.45 prior to kick off and then out the back of the vomitaries at half-time. Will tweet a location. For reasons unknown, although perhaps the £1 a packet cost has something to do with it, these aren’t hugely popular at his school. And whilst we have a surfeit of Bryan, amongst others, Sergi and Ivan are currently missing. Collecting has reached the stage where new packets are littered with more doubles than the darts and so if anyone can help then it would be hugely appreciated. 

Some of the many, many swaps that have caused the hole in my overdraft facility

As for the game, well its live on Sky for anyone that can’t make it. Lionel Road is again sold out with another racous atmosphere expected. It was tasty as when Liverpool came to town. Of course inside the stadium where we had the loudest away fans outside of Oldham in the cup but also outside. Prior to kick off Kew and Brentford were buzzing. There were even not one, not two but at least four half-and-half scarf sellers for us all to ignore. Truly, those fetid rags are the last refuge of the footballing damned. The crass hipsterfication of our beautiful game showing a real ugly side. If you really want a souvenir, buy a shirt or a programme. Then go get a beer with the change. 

Why? And don’t look at the socks

And talking of shirts, the alleged Jamie Bates matchworn has resurfaced on ebay. Good luck anybody bidding on that. The last month has already seen this one sold more times than Steve Claridge. Much as yours truly is always on the look out for anything old (and if anyone does have any they’d like to sell then I’ll always pay a very fair price) getting involved in this is a step too far.  

Somebody may want it..

Finally, just a HUGE thank you. For those slightly more regular visitors to these pages, the summer months had their usual flood of season review e-book activity. The story of our reaching the Premier League (primarily a load of these aswell as all the content produced for the programme) has been bundled up for Kindle / other and available for download. All money received from Amazon is then being donated to Rob Rowan’s CRY fund. Well, it has finally started trickling in (after Jeff has taken his cut) and is now being passed on each month. So a massive thank you for anyone who has downloaded. If you still wanted to then the link is here. Spoiler alert: for once, this one has a happy Wembley ending. Alternatively, anybody wanting to go direct to Rob’s page, you can find that one here.

Ok. That’s us done for today. Check out the BBC, Twitter, Beesotted and all the other usual sources for the actual quality content. For me, its all about family time and football this weekend. I can’t wait. Bring it on and see you there. Ideally, with cards…..

Could this be the shock of the weekend? Or is it now expected?

14 Oct

We’re back. Brentford host league leaders Chelsea this weekend with another international break done and the chance to see if we can build on the quite wonderful performances at home to Liverpool and then, last time out, away at West Ham. Final thoughts on those are in the forthcoming edition of the matchday programme (along with other nonsense, subject to editorial discretion, including one covid related tale of woe). Alternatively, the previous columns from these pages are here (Liverpool) or here (West Ham) for those wanting one more look back at what happened as the games unfolded and the aftermath was very much enjoyed. It all seems a lifetime ago already. There’s been a trip to Gibraltar for the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in between and now, of course, we have the prospect of a visit from the European Champions.

West Ham away – wonderful. Especially the 94th minute

“We’re coming for you. We’re coming for you. Champions of Europe. We’re coming for you.” Thus went ‘that’ song. Ad-nauseam it felt at the time, as the Bees prepared for a 2013 FA Cup tie against the Stamford Bridge outfit. A strong opposition were held 2-2 at Griffin Park, with a late equaliser from Fernando Torres sparing Chelsea from copious amounts of egg on face.

For me, Clive, of course it was an exciting build but oh that song went on. And on. Much like Oldham’s. Focus on f’ing promotion rather than singing to opposition that weren’t even there, listening or gave a monkey about what was happening in League One.

Chelsea were almost given the elbow at Griffin Park in 2013

That was then. This is now. Better form in the FA cup, several seasons in the Championship and our own reaching the Premier League mean that as it stands games like this are the norm rather than ad-hoc flashes in the pan demanding their own song. A blistering start to top flight life means we’re currently sitting 7th (seventh) in the table. A win would put Brentford just one point behind the leaders and whilst, in theory, that sounds about as far fetched an aspiration as they come, the season has already been packed with more drama and wonderful performances than an episode of Dream Team. Get warmed up, lads.

Much missed. Especially former Bee Andy Ansah

Arsenal. Beaten. Liverpool. Held in that epic 3-3. West Ham. Crying. Wolves. Humped. Raya. Gloves needed changing. Only one defeat and that in the final minute of Brighton’s gamesmanship masterclass. The new signings bedding straight in, Kris Ajer especially, whilst Yoanne Wissa is already well en-route to becoming a cult hero. Come for the late goals. Stay for the celebration.

It has been quite the incredible start to a season that has seen this little bus stop in Hounslow punching above the weight and expectation levels of just about everybody outside TW8. Those inside the circle knowing what we can do and what to expect, even if at times it does seem against the realms of probability. That Liverpool game being the quintessential example of our never say die attitude and desire to attack until the death. The one time we’ve played super cagey, the last quarter of Brighton’s visit, our undoing had an almost Bees like inevitability about it. It’s Brentford, innit.

Wiiissssaaaaaaa. As calm as Peter Gilham isn’t

That’s not to say we’ll turn up and beat Chelsea. Cripes, if the fixtures so far have been tough then this is next level. A quick check on my Fantasy Football squad this morning is a bleak reminder of the strength they have in depth, let alone the starting XI. Whichever one they opt to go with.

For Brentford, subject to injury –  Shandon Baptiste’s shoulder being the primary concern – its a safe bet who will start this one. As ever. Thomas Frank has enjoyed the luxury of his preferred starting XI playing to such a level that the only real selection decision has been who to bring on and when. Thomas Tuchel could probably chuck the car keys in a bowl and still come up with a team that the bookies would fancy to romp home. 

Indeed, the Bees are this morning priced at 26/5 to take all three points. As ever, nobody gives us a real chance. No surprise. Our opponents are as strong as they come. Their record and consistency over the last twenty years speaks for itself. If we’ve hit the ground running then they’re next level. Romelu Lukaku looks like he’s never been away whilst only Manchester City have taken a win off them. So far. 

Which is what makes football just the exciting thing it is. Nobody gave us a hope against Liverpool. There was similar from the other 6 games. We know what we’ve done and what we can achieve when all guns are firing. The funnest season ever is now cranking up even more, reaching previously unimaginable levels. That final moment at West Ham was about as good as things got. Now to see if we can pick up where we left off.

Of course it’s going to be tough. Some might say nigh on impossible. But if that’s the approach then why bother turning up? Genuinely, I’m convinced we will do this. As we’ve been saying all season, forget the calibre and reputation of the opposition. Play the moment. Play the game. Play as we’ve played so far. Of course we HAVE to be aware of who we are up against but there’s a distinct difference between being respectful and being in awe. 

I can’t wait for this one. Quelle surprise. Even that game at the Victoria Stadium to see Gibraltar go down 3-0 to Montenegro now feels second fiddle. Fun though it was. The home side weren’t given a prayer in that one, either, but I’ve got a rock solid belief we’re going to pull a few more pants down on Saturday evening.

If nothing else, this is a West London derby. THE West London derby. Move over Fulham. See you later Loftus Road. Brentford and Chelsea are currently the two best placed clubs, not only in this quarter but the entire capital. Bring it on and see you there.

International football provided relief in the absence of Premier League action

Nick Bruzon

West Ham undone by El Scorcho from Wissa.

4 Oct

Just magnificent. An epic finish of biblical proportions. Brentford head into international break with another win under the belt. Just when you thought it wasn’t possible to even come close to Liverpool last week, we went and did this. The latest moment of joy, a 2-1 defeat of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium that was as deserved as it was late. Surviving wave after wave of second half pressure, it was that man Wissa who popped up to fire home the winner in front of the Bees faithful with virtually the last kick of the game. The visiting fans went absolutely nuts. The home support in meltdown. Oh for a Rio Ferdninad or John Colby to have got in the way for them. Instead it was another three points earned, up to 7th (seventh) and now two weeks before we welcome Chelsea to Lionel Road.

Yesssss. Wiiiiissssaaaaaaaa!!!!

What a win. What a start. With Ajer missing and Janelt replaced during the warm up, Thomas Frank saw his plans further hampered by a shoulder injury to Shandon Baptiste. Yet this season is as much about strength in depth and the Bees played like a side posessed. Solid at the back but starting on the front front. Mbeumo hitting the top of the bar with minutes before scoring not long after. A fine break from Canos saw his shot only parried and there was Bryan to steer it over the line. ‘Keeper Fabianski shovelling it clear but the goal had already been chalked up, with VAR going through a momentary act of agreement.  

Twenty minutes gone and a goal up. An effort that was reflective of our dominance. A game that was threatening to be much akin to our solitary defeat, that by Brighton, where we had all pressure and no end product. This was different. Roared on by a packed and passionate away contingent, the Bees had gone for it from the off. Pushing men forward and breaking with pace. Rock solid at the back. It might have been double. The home side might have had some cheer but a header from Zouma was about as good as it got. 1-0 Brentford at half time and, despite the enforced substitutions, looking great value for the lead.

VAR confirms what the ref had already seen

And then the second half started. David Moyes can only have delivered the mother of all rollickings whilst the orange segments were being served up because his team re-emerged with with purpose by the bucketload. The manager losing his shit on the touchlines (more than once – here’s the ball…) and his team actually breaking with intent. Yet, somehow, the Bees held firm. Blocks, deflecting, fine saves. It was heart in mouth time as West Ham pushed and probed. 100 yards from the action the supporters giving it their all. Willing the Bees on to hold firm and we almost did. Almost. The clock running down with snail paced movement until, with 80 minutes gone, there was Bowen to fire home the equaliser through a crowd of defenders and inside the near post. It looked side netting from where we stood, binoculars primed by those in the upper tier, but alas it was in. Urghh. Look at what we could have won.

West Ham fans exploding with delight. Bubble machines making a half-arsed attempt to parp out their wares in cringe inducing celebration. Who needs gimics? Whatever. 1-1 and the Hammers continuing to push. Brentford, somehow, hanging in there. Three minutes of time added on and then, deep into this additional period a free kick awarded. Into the box we went. All of us barring goalkeeper Raya. Pontus with the sweetest of connections but once again Fabianski was there to get it clear. Not clear enough. It fell to the edge of the box where the unmarked Wissa kept his cool and despite a man bearing down on him, slammed a scorcher straight back from where it came with interest. Boom. Fabianksi no chance. The net billowing. Limbs. Scenes. Celebrations. Call it what you want, the first team piling on to each other. Even Raya running up to join in. The supporters united in ecstasy. Not knowing whether to celebrate with the team or the home fans stood just to our left who had been giving it large all game. Pantomime villains for 90 minutes and resorting the the role of petulant schoolboys.

Oh football. This is why we love it so much. There was barely time for the restart before the ref called it game over. An incredible ending to a wonderful game. Wissa immense. The balls on that man to connect so well but really it was more than him. It was all round effort. Another top, top team performance. If Liverpool had been amazing, this was up there for different reasons. There’s nothing finer than a last gasp winner and it was one that came in what was an archetypal game of two halves. It’s West Ham, innit? You almost had to feel for the home support. Almost.    

Brentford now three points off second placed Liverpool and a further off the top of the table. Our opening salvo of 12 from 7(seven) games perhaps beyond even the wildest dreams. Nobody gave us a prayer yet here we are again. West Ham the latest to be hit by the runaway bus. A huge arena silenced. The list of achievements that bedecked the middle tier to our left – 1964 FA Cup Winners… 1965 European Cup Winner’s Cup… 1966 World Cup winners – nothing but a reel of the past. A team with an impressive list of former glories but unable to match the moment when it came. Wissa rounding off an afternoon that will live long in the memory.   

West Ham. Winners ( in one respect)

Now , time to catch the breath. A few weeks off. Hopefully the injuries won’t be a severe as first feared although Baptiste’s shoulder, since confirmed as dislocated, isn’t the sort of thing you can just run off in five minutes. One can only imagine it’s going to be a prolonged period of time spent with our old friend, the anti-gravity treadmill.

Until then, time to reflect on about as exciting start to Premier League life as it is possible to have hoped for. It’s been nothing but fun and yesterday, following on from Liverpool the game before, had it all. Top flight football. Opponents steeped in history. Rival fans giving it their all. The bus stop in Hounslow doing it for fun. West Ham pointless. Brentford leapfrogging them in the table and another win under the belt.

Fair to say that top flight life is good. Long may it continue like this. Brentford proving that reputations count for nothing. Ours included. We ARE tinpot. We ARE a bus stop. We ARE put together through shrewd acquisition and team spirit rather than big money buys. And? We know it. We don’t, actually, care. The sooner other teams get used to it and play the 11 in front of them rather than the preconception then the easier they may find it. Until then, keep writing us off all day long.

That was a lot of fun. A lot..

Nick Bruzon

We’re going to need a Biggar boat.

1 Oct

Next stop on the Premier League express, the Olympic Stadium. Brentford travel to West Ham United this Sunday afternoon for a 2pm kick off against a team we’ve not played competitively since 1993. Compared to some of those we’ve already taken points from this season (Arsenal and Liverpool, where league fixtures were nothing more than a relic of the 1940s, we’re looking at you) that’s fairly recent. Relatively speaking. Back then in our solitary second tier season under Phil Holder, 0-0 at Griffin Park was followed up a 4-0 drubbing / kicking in East London that saw the slide back to (now) League One continue its inexorable momentum. Mind you, the game before and Ray Biggar doing his thing in the 1-1 draw with Notts County – a ball breaking amount of mystery time ‘added on’ until the Magpies levelled it up on about +8 that anyone there will never, ever forget – was enough to destroy whatever fragile confidence we had left. 

Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground. Whatever. It all ended the same way

That was then. This is now. Just as we have VAR to help the ref and time boards raised by the fourth official in order to let us know exactly how long there is to squirm through, we’ve also got a squad that’s ten times better than any we’ve had before. And that includes teams that have been in play offs. Brentford are on fire and playing for fun. The only points dropped being the 90th minute smash and grab at home to Brighton. Unbeaten on the road and still smiling off the back of our most recent performance, the 3-3 with Liverpool last Saturday evening. A game of gargantuan proportions that saw the mother of all footballing battles. Ivan Toney denied an 87th minute winner by the Lino’s flag which, whilst the correct decision, for a moment sent Bees’ fans into even greater states of delirium than those giddy highs already reached.

It was about as far away a moment as just about anything we’ve ever experienced. Playing a Premier League game against a full strength Liverpool side. The league leaders going behind c/o Ethan Pinnock and then twice being pulled back when it looked like they should accelerate out of sight. Brentford brilliant. Everyone playing at 110%. No let up. And that was just the crowd. The atmosphere immense with on pitch commitment to match. The Anfield outfit coming out the other side knowing we aren’t just going to make up the numbers and any walkover they may have expected was as far from the truth as the popularity of Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

What pressure? Calm as you like against Liverpool

Of course, we can’t live completely in the past. Beating Arsenal. Blitzing Wolves at Molineux. Holding Liverpool. All well and good. All brilliant. All amazing. I wouldn’t trade any of it but now it is done. The stuff of memory. Use it to inspire us and learn from but don’t just think that because we’ve done the business so far, everyone else is going to roll over. That we’ll turn up and win. Very much a case of dragging out the cliches and taking each game as it comes. Which takes us full circle to the first line – our trip to West Ham United. The BIAS supporter’s boat is about to set sail once more. This time, for a rematch with Said Benrahma. A game against a team very much doing the business at present. Penalty based substitutions aside. Seriously? That was never going to work.       

Last night’s defeat of Rapid Vienna continuing fine form that domestically sees the Hammers as one of only eight teams better placed than Brentford in the football pyramid. Michail Antonio is grabbing the goals and the headlines. Declan Rice busting guts to do his thing. The team flying. The talismanic Algerian Benrahma finding a regular place, form that we are so familiar with from his time at Brentford and the goals starting to come too. West Ham will be as tough as anyone we’ve played so far. The atmosphere as intense. The teething troubles from the early days in their new home, seemingly consigned to the past. Supporters about as passionate as they come and even a few who have donned that most odious of items, the half and half scarf. Metaphorically and for real. Well, now’s the time to drop (or grow) your balls and pin those colours to the mast.   

Said (in pre-lockdown mode). As popular now as he was then for us

October 2021. Brentford on a Premier League roll. Its a long, long way from the lower leagues. From Leroy Rosenior, Terry Butcher et al. From fans raising funds to keep us afloat. From finally escaping the third tier and celebrating the achievement by replacing our leading scorer with, err, Murray Jones. From Ray Biggar helping send us back from where we had come. After years of hard work, shrewd investment, even shrewder strategy and a lot of patience we are now at the place we’ve aspired to be for so, so long. Inside the tent pissing out rather than the other way round. There’s no way anyone is going to willingly give any of this up. It’s just been too much fun so far. 

Sunday is going to be hard as, no question, but its another step in an incredible journey and I can’t wait. However you travel – tube, train or boat be safe. Certainly avoid the road. Fuel wankers aside, the London marathon means there are closures just about all over town.

See you there.

Biggar – perhaps the programme editor’s typo upset him

Nick Bruzon 

Time to put it behind us and push on.

13 Sep

On we go. The latest round of Premier League fixtures is almost at an end. Brentford start the prep for Wolves sitting in tenth after the weekend’s last gasp defeat. Thomas Frank safe in the knowledge that our position can’t be changed by whatever the score is when Everton host Burnley this evening and take us all to Played 4. Yesterday’s 3-0 win for Liverpool at Leeds United seeing the hosts not so much fall apart as not even show up. A game marred by a horrific sounding injury to Harvey Elliott (yours truly was looking away at the time and Sky, tactfully, opted not to repeat it) ended with everybody sending good wishes to the player and the Anfield side going joint top. Manchester United and Chelsea ahead by virtue of goals scored. All three sides locked on ten points and GD of +8.

Last gasp defeat had heads down. For a while

For Brentford, the morning after the night before seemed to have fans in a much much more philosophical frame of mind. The frustration of Saturday evening washed away in the knowledge that on another day we could, probably should, have taken all three points off of Brighton. The awareness that chances have to be taken when they present themselves even more acute than ever whilst, of course, we’re not going to get anything from any referee. The random nature of the Championship officials something that still seems able to repeat itself at this level. Instead, it’s back to the training ground for a week to try and figure out how we might win at Wolves and then achieve what, on paper, nobody outside of TW8 will give us even the slimmest of chances of achieving. Namely, taking all three points from Liverpool on September 25th.

First up Wolves. The ultimate danger is in complacency. In looking to the obvious lure on the horizon when we’ve got one of the toughest trips in the calendar to come first. Something I’ve been guilty of with plenty of Liverpool supporting friends, including Cousin Charles. Time for him to finally pin his colours to the mast after years and years being our personal ‘lucky omen’ at Griffin Park. No pressure. Yet prior to that is the trip to Molineux to face a personal favourite of all opponents. A team we’ve gone toe to toe with over the years. From League One, through the Championship and now, finally, in the top flight. Much like Leeds United, although with some dignity. Whilst Wolves escaped the Championship a few season prior, there’s been a lot of fun along the way. Most famously that epic campaign where we ended up celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Leyton Orient coming undone in such memorable style.

Who did what like we’d won the what now?

Brentford have got off to what is, by our standards, a flier. Primarily in not losing our opening fixture. The 90th minute on Saturday our first real bump in the road and one which we will, undoubtedly, learn from. To be fair, it can happen at any level of the game and never feels good. Albeit get a result in the next game and nobody will remember. Put it behind us and push on.

Now we have Wolves. A team whose own opening of LLL hardly one to get the pulse racing for he season ahead. Then again, they had Manchester United, Spurs and Leicester City. How many points might we have picked up from that initial salvo? Obviously we’ll never know. The race is underway and psychological advantage, as much as anything else, is starting to kick in as positive results are ticked off and the table slows starts to gestate. 

Then, on Saturday, it all changed. A trip to Watford and with it a 2-0 win. Wolves finding the back of the net for the first time in the league after opening the season taking an incredible 69 shots without scoring. That sort of attacking intent in itself something we need to be wary of. A win and some points finally earned. Hosting Brentford next with tails up and the knowledge that a win will see them leapfrog us.  

For Thomas, a lot to take away and chew on after Brighton. As we noted yesterday, Shandon Baptiste looked quite wonderful until his battery began to run out of juice. I also thought Rico had a cracking game down the left whilst the work rate and build up play from Ivan Toney cannot be praised highly enough. He got off the mark against Villa and there are many, many more to come from him. Of that I have no doubt. Kudos, too, for Kris Ajer. Getting in to Dalsgaardesque positions as he pushed up time and again. Much as I love Sergi, and we do, oh to have the experienced Dane with us for one more campaign.

The main difference between this season and last, aside from having supporters present, would seem to be the relentless pace of the games at this level. Aside from pernickety refereeing, there’s not much stopping the flow of the game. No room to hide and no time to breath. Not even VAR has overly intruded. So far. It makes for quite wonderful stuff but means there’s even less margin for error than ever. Any dip in focus sure to be punished.

I’ve loved it all so far. The atmospheres have been immense and we’ve finally achieved the dream of not only reaching the Premier League but holding our own. Wolves, Liverpool and West Ham are next up. About as famous and illustrious names as they come. As intriguing as any sequence of games. Long term divisional rivals, the team that invented football and then the 1966 World Cup winners. Something something something Trevor Brooking header.

It is the Wolves game that, from a footballing perspective, I’m looking forward to as much as any. Primarily to see how far Brentford really have come given that shared history over the last ten years. Has their stint in the Premier League given them an unstoppable advantage? Or can the Bees maintain out unbeaten away record?  On Saturday, we find out…..

Who will win in the battle of Wolves v Bees ?

Nick Bruzon

Still under the radar ? Time for a last first.

19 Aug

Almost a week later, there aren’t enough words to describe just how incredible that first week of Premier League football felt. Brentford magnificent. Arsenal awful. Manchester United party poopers. Crystal Palace, like Leeds, ceremonial lambs to the slaughter lining up away to genuine title contenders. Then again, such is the vibe at Lionel Road you could say the same about Arsenal. Nobody has a positive word to say about a performance that saw them out played, out thought and out muscled by Thomas Frank’s rampant swarm of Bees. Their supporters taking the library on the road as the vociferous home crowd ripped the roof off the Brentford Community Stadium and took us, however, briefly, to the top of the table.

Ok, so Manchester United destroyed that dream in little over 12 hours but what a feeling to wake up to on Saturday morning. There we were as headline makers in all the papers. Brentford at the top of the table with as many pictures of Woody as there were of goal scorers Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard. It was quite the surreal way to end the most spine-tingling day and night. For once, this bus stop in Hounslow the very epicentre of the global football world. And then Leeds United forgot to pack their defence. Or, rather, the Red Devils went on the sort of hot streak that does beg the question about what could happen to us at some point this season. You can’t win them all, that’s for sure.

Headlines and heroes on Saturday morning

You can be damn sure we’ll be giving it out best at the weekend though. Brentford’s second top flight fixture sees the short trip to South East London. Crystal Palace licking their wounds after being mauled by Chelsea. New boss Patrick Viera mad keen to start his first home game with a win. The Bees faithful just wishing kick off was right now, such is the good feeling around TW8. Such is the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding just about anything to do with the club. How Thomas Frank gets the balance between over confidence, getting carried away and just playing our free flowing football will be one of the key tactical cards to be played. Sergi and Bryan were rampant on Friday. Ivan everywhere. See also: Vitaly. Ethan Pinnock a rock at the back when called upon. Even David Raya had his wits about him despite Arsenal being so second best that he had nothing much to do for the opening 85 minutes. Had he failed to pull of that save it would have been itchy bum time for sure. But he did, quite wonderfully, and it wasn’t. Instead, tears of joy and a well, well deserved win.

Now, though, time to move on. Crystal Palace await and tickets are in hand. Mostly. Errr… The away stand is sold out and it promises to be as raucous as Friday night. If not moreso given the opposition are sure to make some noise too. Their ground as compact as Griffin Park once was. We had a pub in every corner. The Eagles have a supermarket at one end. All four stands bang on top of the pitch, unlike the behemoth running tracks and wide perimeters found at so many newer stadia. Albeit, the Selhurst Park capacity is double that of our former home. Its going to be tasty, that’s for sure.

most tickets have been posted out

The ‘my work’ derby, a reference so niche only about three people will get it (one of whom is me) is almost upon us. For the rest of us, its quite simply Brentford’s first ever away game in the Premier League.

Granted, these ‘first ever’ references will need to stop soon or we’ll be entering West Ham territory. The 1966 World Cup winners saw just about anything to do with their being gifted the Olympic Stadium deemed: first ever insert missing words  at their new home: game lost. half and half scarf worn. Season ticket holder arriving to find their seat didn’t exist.

See also: last ever  insert missing words at the Boleyn Ground as the media love in with Upton Park reached as sickening an over saturation point as repeats of Mrs. Brown’s Boys: away coach attacked. Bubble blown.  So bad its amazing film made  (being Final Score, of course).

Instead, let’s just focus on the game in hand. We’ve done the first / new thing. Now its time to keep on doing our well worn ‘under the radar’ act. Certainly, neither Arsenal or the pundits knew quite what to expect. Here’s hoping the same applies at Crystal Palace on Saturday. 

I can’t wait for this one. See you there. 

Have the Bees finally emerged from under the radar?

Nick Bruzon

Now that, Alanis, is ironic.

9 Aug

A strange, strange feeling. Football began at the weekend yet there was no involvement for Brentford. At least, officially. Whilst Fulham and QPR both earned 1-1 draws in the Championship, the Bees were missing. That’s because we’re in the Premier League this season. I’m not sure if it has been mentioned yet but, quite frankly, it cannot be repeated enough. At least in our house. We don’t start competitive action until Friday evening when Arsenal visit Lionel Road. (Home games with Brighton, Liverpool and Chelsea follow). Finally, the dream has come true. We’re there. The top flight. The West London derby one which will take place against the Champions of Europe, Chelsea, rather than at the other end of the 237 bus route. The whole thing is nuts and I can’t wait.

It’s normally at this point in the season that Brentford have lost that opening game of the campaign – strong starts were never our speciality. We’d be getting ready to berate Gary Lineker on the forthcoming Saturday night when he tells Match Of The Day viewers that “Football is back.” No Gary, it was back last weekend when the EFL kicked off. Now, we’re the ones who are going to be on the BBC’s flagship football programme. For the first time since, well ever. A few fleeting FA Cup performances aside. All being well, shown at the business end of the schedule rather than slipping down the pecking order to the final few games. Hey, I’m a lightweight and have usually fallen fast asleep on the couch by the time Arsenal and the other clubs outside the top six are being shown.

The Bees on Match of the Day in 1989 – ‘That’ FA Cup quarter final at Liverpool

Instead, we’re waiting to kick off the campaign and already having games moved with abandon. Aswell as Arsenal (h), Wolves (a) and Liverpool (h) those with Leicester City (h) and West Ham (a) both being put back a day as a result of our opponents’ European adventures. Traversing the length of the Jubilee line on a Sunday to watch football from 100 yards behind the goal. Sounds fun.

Likewise, the home game with Chelsea due on October 16th remains a Saturday but now has a 5.30pm kick off to accommodate TV coverage. Saturday 3pm very much becoming an aspiration rather than a lifestyle choice. Something we always expected but what an intense way for it to kick in. 

Hey, at least the trips to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa kick off when we’d expect. Assuming we are able to buy tickets. Come on already. The game at Selhurst Park is on Saturday week and no sighting (as it stands). Not that I particularly want to have to use the overdraft facility but if it needs to be further decimated then what finer way than a trip to South East London?

Safe to say we’re excited. The game against Valencia saw our family able to sit together for the first time since Brentford were playing at Griffin Park. Sheffield Wednesday, in March 2020. It’s now August 2021. Cripes, that’s been tough. For all of us and for so many reasons. Each different. Each as hard as the other. Harry loved it. Even Mrs. B was impressed with our new seats. That’s no reflection on her or Lionel Road but, more, the relief. Yours Truly having been assigned the role of donning the virtual reality headseat back in January 2020 to choose seats on behalf of our group.

The fate of 7(seven) supporters resting in the hands of my dodgy eyesight and the reliability of the Brentford FC super computer. Thankfully, both worked to perfection. It’s been a long wait for that seal of approval to be delivered. If for no other reason knowing who will be sitting along side us. Knowing who will be replacing Alex, Courier Man and Missa Partridge in our immediate vicinity. So far, so good on that front. Hello Mary, John et al.

Computer simulation v actual reality

Talking of Alex (Austin), regular readers to this column will be well familiar with the enjoyment that came from his dishing out advice to the referee and his assistants. Those timely reminders of the actual rules of football. Those helpful explanations as to how a flag should be raised. Advice which, whilst hilarious to those of us sitting in the proximity of the touchline, was probably the last thing they wanted to hear. The sigh of relief from FA headquarters almost tangible as finally the move to Lionel Road and everybody being assigned new seats meant that gauntlet was one that no longer needed to be run.

The referee and his assistant often chose to ignore all reminders of the rules

Except…. Post of the week came up on Facebook during the Valencia game. Alex and his family are still on the touchline. Yet, if anything, in an even better position to dish out the helpful advice. Not only to the lino but, now, the fourth official. In his own words, “Referee review screen. I guess they asked for this to be in-front of me given my years of helpful advice to the linesman on the Braemar Road.” 

Sure enough, the accompanying picture is one that already tells its own story. Now that, Alanis, is ironic.

I do wonder if this showed up on the magic helmet or whether the footballing gods have simply delivered the most unexpected of helping hands? Either way, a year and a half on lockdown means we all need to sharpen our skills if the VAR performance on Saturday was anything to go by. No pressure, Alex. Keep it loud against Arsenal.

View from the seat…

Nick Bruzon

People. Don’t do nothing today.

7 Aug

Matchday. Brentford v Valencia. 9.15 am and the weather is still tipping it down in TW8. Who cares? We’ve got another chance to go to our new home. The formal opening with all sorts of pre-match stuff promised. Another chance to test the pies, have a pint and, of course, see some football. I still haven’t got over the corona enforced absence. I’ll never take for granted again the simple pleasure of being able to watch a game. Even though we’re only 6 days away from the big kick off against Arsenal, life currently feels like something in which any, and every, opportunity must be grabbed. So we’ll be there. The usual prematch drinks followed by a stroll up to Lionel Road. Our new home still within spitting distance of Griffin Park. Indeed, the reverse of the journey we used to take when  – and if Gerhard is reading, please look away now –  on occasion, we fancied mixing it up and taking pre-match at The Express Tavern. Those salt-beef laden burgers weren’t going to eat themselves. Now, that’s nothing but a distant memory with customers piled floor to ceiling in the closest watering hole to our new ground and The Griffin very much the destination of choice on matchday. 

About as short as journey as we could have hoped for from old to new

What else to expect today? Aside from channelling our inner Steve McClaren if the deluge continues? One, final clue as to who Thomas will be starting with against Arsenal on Friday? Three centre backs? Rico Henry tearing it up down the flanks once more? Baptiste and (all being well) Onyeka pulling the midfield strings? Perhaps we’ll get a look at Kris Ajer?

Prior to all of that, we’ve all manner of pre-match stuff in the hour leading up to kickoff with the formal opening of Lionel Road due to take place at 4.30pm. All being well there’ll be the sight of Cliff Crown brandishing a pair of ceremonial scissors (not a phrase that can have been used often) or, better still, Buzz and Buzzette performing the honours. At the very least, lurking in the periphery. 

Our anthropomorphic furry friends were still absent for the West Ham game and concerns for their safety are now becoming very real. Quite frankly, if it gets to next week and we’re deprived the sight of Arsenal running out alongside Buzzette pulling her much lauded funky-dance moves I’ll be ripping up my season ticket in disgust. I mean, assuming it has been delivered. The latest comms from ‘official’ suggesting these should start to land on our doormats in the next day or so. *

Elsewhere, we’ve also got both the on pitch return of the Kurupt FM crew (somebody, please make sure the chief exec’s office remains locked.) aswell as Martin Allen. There’s also the chance to pick up the new look matchday programme. Print deadlines feel a lot more forgiving than over lockdown, which is great news, as is more cover art from Dave Flanagan. Insert swoon emoji. Plus we’ve got Greville Waterman talking about Jota and another piece from my favourite of all contributors, Big Ben Burgess.

Come for the cover. Stay for Jota and BBB

For now, nothing to do except kick back for a few hours. A lazy pub lunch and a stroll up to Lionel Road. Football has been absent from our lives for far too long and I’m not going to let a bit of water get in the way. Tickets remain available this morning should you want to join us. 

Bring it on and see you there. Until then, here’s hoping Jon Varney is polishing up his script…

*Please note: I reserve the right not to rip up my season ticket

Nick Bruzon 

Time for more football acting? One can only hope.

5 Aug

I’ve got to be honest, this column hasn’t gone in the intended direction. Thursday morning, 6.30am and that first line has just been written last. We were going to focus on last night’s TV coverage but then I caught up with ‘official’ and the news that we are gong to be welcoming back some old friends. Oh well, here goes.. Should we be excited or worried? Brentford host Valencia on Saturday evening, our final warm up game before Arsenal visit next Friday in the Premier League, and it seems we will have special guests present. Not just the living legend that is Martin Allen but People Just Do Nothing stars Kurupt FM who will be performing live before the game. Elsewhere, did you catch the feature on the Bees last night? Both BT Sport and Sky Sports running a half-hour documentary on Brentford, our history and how we reached the top flight. Club historian Rob Jex leading the charge in a fascinating look at the club that will, hopefully, be repeated as often as Yours Truly’s ill-fated appearance on Bargain Hunt. Albeit for totally different reasons. One was absolute quality. The other was Mrs Bruzon and myself arguing over antiques.

An hour long show distilled into five seconds

First up, Valencia. The programme article(s) have been written and the tickets gone on sale. We’ve little over 48 hours until kick off and I can’t wait. A chance to see Brentford in action once more and the possibility we may even get a look at Kris Ajer. All being well Thomas Onyeka is healthy following the injury he appeared to suffer in the game with West Ham last Saturday but the rest is up to Thomas. We’ve seen plenty in action so far, with Shandon Baptiste amongst those to really stake a claim for a starting berth against Arsenal following his performances up at Old Trafford and then last weekend. 

To be fair, you could say the same about pretty much the entire squad. We’ve looked solid and, whilst friendlies should always be taken with a huge pinch of salt, it’s surely better to be playing well than badly. Besides, confidence should be sky high. We‘ve won the play-offs and achieved a life’s dream – reaching the top flight. We’ve bought a few players (with word on the street suggesting two more are incoming) whilst, incredibly, there’s nobody really being linked with the out door. Rico Henry returned in style and, as it stands, supporters are still allowed to attend games with corona virus restrictions a thing of the past. Just a sexy third kit and healthy fitness report about Josh Dasilva needed for a full house.

Optimism is understandably high. It was coursing through the veins when the aforementioned documentary was filmed last month and nothing has changed since to change that view. Instead, we’re just 8 days away from hosting Arsenal in a league fixture. This, followed by home games against Brighton, Liverpool and then European Champions Chelsea. It’s nuts. There’s just nothing to be down about. Only excitement and anticipation ahead. The stresses of last season from certain quarters nothing but a distant memory. The abiding image that of Peter Gilham raising the play-off trophy above his head in the Wembley sunshine. With the added bonus being he even stayed on his feet. 

I’ve missed football dreadfully. Watching on TV just isn’t the same. Moreso when we were rattling around an empty stadium. Now, that’s done. We’re back. We’re  allowed in. We can even get a pie and a pint at the game. Valencia presents another excuse, as if one were needed, to get back inside Lionel Road and see the team in action. See old friends and familiar faces. Of getting a first look at jumper man (who will, presumably, be sporting summer fatigues).  

There’s also the visit of Kurupt FM. On the one hand, promoting their new film ‘Big in Japan’. On the other, seeing if they can engage in another masterclass with our chief exec. Inside the actors studio, it wasn’t. “The Varney/Kurupt FM cringe off” , as one North stand observer described it at the time.

It was one of those ‘so bad it’s amazing moments’ . So toe curling you needed a pair of Genie’s slippers yet, at the same time it was utterly, utterly compelling. Jon Varney playing along in a moment akin to those times a ‘real’ footballer, manager or commentator would put in a cameo on Dream Team. For the record, former Bee Andy Ansah uttering his stock line of “Get warmed up” doesn’t count. We’re thinking more Steve Coppell or Richard Keys attempting to blend in seamlessly and, ordinarily, failing.

What came next was, well…..

In the previous column we spoke about those quite wonderful moments when non-footballers do football type things. For example, and I’m just going off the top of my head, stadium announcers filming goal celebration videos. To that list you can also add Jon Varney doing his Kurupt FM thing. Here’s to round two on Saturday afternoon. You can read about it all on ‘official‘ .

Although, in retrospect, perhaps the Dream Team moment surpasses even that. And not in a good way.

Nick Bruzon