Tag Archives: yellow

Newcastle United share a pain that Brentford know so well as Keith does his thing once more.

6 Apr

Keith Stroud. A name to strike fear into football fans up and down the land has done it again. Of course, at Brentford we are well aware of the card happy man in black’s past form. Now Championship table toppers Newcastle United are the latest club to fall foul of his obsession with random decision making in last night’s game with Burton Albion.

Who could forget the infamous battle of Bramall Lane? Rather than a League One promotion shootout between the Bees and Sheffield United, it was another game that turned into the Stroud show. “The maddest game of football that ever existed” said Mark Burridge after that one as it finished with three red cards shown, four penalties awarded and 12 players booked (8 alone in the first half). That the Bees came out of it with a point,despite playing most of the second half with 9 men, was more down to our own character than any protection from the referee.

It was a game which, to the casual observer, would suggest one akin to the titular battle. In reality it was nowhere close to that, with the hardest fought contest being that between Stroud’s ego and the frustration of both sets of supporters.

Whilst he’s never topped that moment in Sheffield, his name is one that still brings an almost audible wince of negativity (should such a thing be possible) whenever he is announced as a referee for a forthcoming game. His card ratio alone is, season on season, higher than just about any other official to take charge at Griffin Park . The current campaign has seen him show an incredible 171 yellows and sent off 12 players during his 39 games officiated. Only Uber have more bookings than Stroud, it seems.

Then, last night happened. With Newcastle United hosting Burton Albion in a league fixture (a phrase in itself which bears more than a moment’s consideration) they were awarded a penalty. With Matt Ritchie subsequently finding the back of the net for 1-0, Stroud struck. Social media went into meltdown as , for reasons unknown, rather than declaring the goal he chalked it off and gave a free kick to Burton.

This was later revealed to be for what Mr Stroud considered encroachment into the box by Dwight Gayle. Whilst the rules of the game dictate that the spot kick should be retaken in such a circumstance, Keith’s head and the rules of the game are not things that always see eye to eye,

Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake,” said a referee’s spokesman afterwards. Hmmm. Sorry about that folks. Imagine the furore had things then turned out differently to the eventual 1-0 home win for Newcastle?

I do feel sorry for Keith in many ways. To give credit, his recent performances officiating for Brentford have, by and large, been relatively restrained with no real controversy. He even changed his mind in our favour upon the advice of an assistant during the recent reverse at home to Wolves.  So we know he can do it. Unfortunately, there are so many games that see the other side of Keith.

The flamboyant flourish of a red card. The turning his back on a player he has just admonished. The random bookings and decisions offered out at a level not seen since Uriah Rennie. Yet he has been allowed to continue unchecked. Nobody has had a word and, instead, he has become almost a cult character. But for the wrong reasons.

People now expect bookings and oddity when Keith is in charge. People go into the game on edge. When he has a good one there’s a sense of relief more than a sense of pride. Season on season his statistics speak for themselves but no real action is taken to reign him in. Football isn’t that consistently dirty a game, except in Keith’s head.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

Equally though, last night bears additional scrutiny. This was no heat of the moment decision. This wasn’t a foul that needed to be replayed in the head. It was a basic rule of football that he got backwards in the most glaring of styles. But what about his assistants? Was no support given ? No advice offered? Or was this a case where Keith’s rule was law?

Let’s be clear, I’d hate to be a referee. Balls of steel and skin as thick as rhino’s are the pre-requisites. With players, journalists and fans all thinking they know better the ref is only ever on a hiding to nothing. He clearly loves what he does although, whilst I’d hate to see any serious sanction as a result, that’s no justification for allowing anyone to run around unchecked.

Will Keith ever change? Unlikely. Will the FA do anything? Expect a week’s demotion to the lower leagues and then business as usual.

Yet, out of all this, Keith may wake up this morning and look himself in the mirror. You never know. Perhaps this will be the catalyst that triggers some self-reflection and a reigning in of Keith the card.

We know he can do it. We’ve all seen him have good games. Why not just go back to being the anonymous man in the middle rather than the reputational nightmare he has allowed himself to become.

Can a leopard change his spots? You never know.

 

Nick Bruzon

Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

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View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

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Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

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Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Marcello Trotta returns, refs get tough, Bees buzzing and a new lucky omen? The week in social media.

31 Oct

Brentford recorded that marvellous 2-0 win at Loftus Road knowing that three points against Fulham on Friday night will move us into the play-off places. That said, one can’t fail to have noticed long time pacesetters Huddersfield go down 5-0 at the Cottage on Saturday – could things be tougher for the Bees this time around? That result was one mirrored at Brighton where Norwich City were obliterated whilst Newcastle stay top after easing past Preston by the odd goal in three. At the bottom (copy/paste) it is still Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham who make up the final three although a late winner for The Latics has also dragged Cardiff City towards the relegation places.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media. That said, there’s only one place to start – the last fall out from the victory at QPR. It was a victory that their fans haven’t taken too well  – these just two of the many.

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From the Brentford perspective, fans, players and club staff were in high spirits going in to the weekend. With even ‘official’ now joining in the with their own social media round up (welcome to the party) , you may have seen some of these already. But, as is noted, some things can be viewed again and again…..

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One final thought from the QPR game. Good omens. Regular readers to these pages may be familiar with comments about a lucky shirt (black, third, 2015/16, this year) or magic pants (spiderman) but it seems there is something that transcends all of these. Or, should I say, someone…

The legend that is Marcus Gayle. Specifically, when he is sitting alongside Mark Burridge in the Beesplayer commentary box.

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That’s some record. Having been present for Ipswich, Forest,  Preston and QPR our commentator par-excellence has shared the great news that Marcus is back on Friday night. Brentford have already made it 10 points from a possible 12 against Fulham in the last two seasons. Could his presence be the final inspiration for 13 from 15?

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Four wins but on the other hand, I’m sure it’s bigger than that

One final piece of Brentford feed refers back to the scandal revealed earlier in the week – namely that of Barnsley claiming victory in the half-time mascot race between Toby Tyke, Buzz and Buzzette. Whilst ‘official’ are yet to make any statement on the club site, as ever Twitter is the place to be where a voice from the club marketing team has made itself heard…..

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Ok. Marcello Trotta. We know what happened. Everybody has seen ‘that penalty’ Haven’t we? Oddly, most YouTube footage seems to have removed the ‘tussle’ between him and King Kev that preceded the eventual outcome although this fan shot efforts still captures it in part.

It still doesn’t get any easier viewing

So guess what happened when his Crotone side came up against Chievo in Italy’s Serie A at the weekend. Yes, another penalty and another…well, you see what happened.

That said, despite the painful reminder an afternoon we’ll never forget he did manage to put this one away.

Elsewhere in football……

Let’s hope armchair viewers have a thing for Leeds united in the coming weeks:

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Much to the disgust of his fellow supporters, man brings ‘cat’ to a football match….

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Referee, Mike Dean, has a very unusual pre-match habit….

Whilst another sounds off a warning to any young players who may want to mess around on pitch…

And it seems this is a global crackdown. As if showboating was bad enough, don’t think ’twerking’ is exempt either. I’ll leave you with this attempt from former Norwich City player Kei Kamara to channel his inner Miley….

Nick Bruzon

Wolves sting Bees as Reading wait outside the delivery room

25 Sep

Boom. Stopped dead in our tracks. Brentford were overtaken in the fledgling Championship table by a Wolves team whose 3-1 victory sees them climb to eighth, one place above the Bees. This following a fine mini-spell that had seen the Bees unbeaten over a four game period in which we’d picked up 8 points from a possible 12.

Ten games in and the table will, officially or otherwise, be deemed to have taken shape. It was the mellifluous wordsmith BBC Billy Reeves who previously described it as being in nascent form prior to this point.

Yet if round nine of the current campaign saw the table breaking her waters, Dean Smith and his team can be more than happy as to where they sit going into Tuesday night’s home encounter with Reading. Griffin Park being the metaphorical labour ward with that final birth squeeze taking place at around 10pm. Only then will we be given our first look at a fully formed table.

Congratulations, Mr. Smith. It’s a ……?

But to get to that point, first we need to look back on the action from Wolves in game 9. What can you say? Well, anything would be a help because I wasn’t there for this one. The trade off of away ‘green cards’ with domestic bliss being a particularly fine line to walk. Who needs a trip to Wolverhampton when a ride on the Piccadilly line and a walk around the Science Museum are on offer? Don’t answer that please. Me and HB had fun looking at the moon rocket.

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View from the opposition – players walk out with Bees on the far side

As ever, match reports are provided by the likes of Beesotted, the BBC and ‘official’ ( you can take your pick at News Now) but, equally, the world of social media helps. A lot.

Likewise, as ever Sky have the highlights on their website and, certainly, these will do until we get the full fat Burridge infused version at mid-day. Let’s just all look away for the second Wolves goal. Regardless of the refereeing decision that allowed the free kick to be given in the first place, could anybody have got something in the way? Should Dan Bentley have been beaten from there?

Oranges are not the only fruit

So what did we learn. Well, as Brentford supporters once sang. “Two Scott Fitzgeralds. There’s only two Scott Fitzgeralds.” And, it would seem, that has now become a refrain which can be shared about João Teixeira.  Double goalscorer João Teixeira not to be confused with João Carlos Teixeira who featured twice for the Bees in a somewhat bizarre loan spell from Liverpool back in 2013.

Whilst Wolves may have picked up the points (goals, not ‘deserving’, being the things that win games) the one thing just about everybody agreed on being the quality, or lack of, from the referee. Andy Davies being the maligned man in the middle this time around.

Phil Parry, partner in BBC crime of our own Billy, taking to Twitter to share his own take on things:

Talking after the game to my own Molineux insider, long term Last Word correspondent Rusty Mini, his take on things was that , “Brentford really were not that bad in the first half except in the last 10 minutes when all the shape and discipline seemed to disappear. They looked pretty good for about 5 minutes either side of their goal. I’m not one to moan much about refs but this one didn’t have his best day. Or at least let down badly by his linesmen.

Brentford head coach Dean Smith was a lot more direct in his own post match comments on the officials. Whilst still taking time to note the performance of our opponents, the standout point from his interview hinging on an observation that their second goal should have been our free-kick anyway.

He told ‘official’ that, “Their second goal should have been our free-kick anyway, it certainly wasn’t a free-kick to them, and they score from that. Games change on decisions and that was a poor decision from the official. Then at 2-1 we have a chance from John Egan with a header, we have a chance with Lasse Vibe and then we should have had a penalty for handball and we didn’t get it.

Ah,  that handball. Well, I’ll leave it to Twitter to once more give the opinion, and pictures, on that one.

As for the players and their take on things…..

Well, you know what happens on those instances that we lose. Yes, it’s time “to go again”. And we had a couple of interesting takes on this one last night.

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A disappointing loss but fair play to Walter Zenga and his pack of Wolves. With the referee impacting both teams, they may have had the run of the decisions but, equally, they’ve taken their chances.

And that, folks, is what wins games.

Next up, Reading on Tuesday followed by Wigan Athletic at the weekend. A double run of home games that sees Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran both awaiting the resits of injury assessments. Likewise, with Ryan Woods one yellow card away from a suspension (according to the FA website but on five from just about every other source), could it be a very different Brentford midfield that we see for the next couple of matches?

Time to get Konstantin Kerschbaumer out of cold storage? Alan Mac to add his own brand of midfield bite?

See you on Tuesday when we find out.

Nick Bruzon

Book ’em, Danno. Not today. But if anybody knows where we can get a pizza…?

18 Sep

Well wasn’t that the game that had it all? A 5-0 win for Brentford. Visitors Preston ending the game with just 10 men on the pitch yet, for once, this wasn’t the fault of referee Keith Stroud. A hat-trick for Scott Hogan, taking him to 13 goals in 12 Championship games. Another clean sheet and the Bees into the play off zone. A current goal difference of +8 now only bettered by Newcastle United of all our league rivals.

Yet the final score of 5-0 wasn’t as apparent as it might have seemed at one point. Preston more than matched Brentford team who were, perhaps, suffering some tired legs following Wednesday night’s exertions at Aston Villa. Likewise, I’d imagine the first team didn’t get back to Griffin Park until Thursday – whether due to an overnight stay or simply the horrendous gridlock caused by the M6 closure that blighted just about every road user.

Yet, as seems to be the theme these days, it was Scott Hogan who gave us the lead and Dan Bentley who was on hand to keep the visitors at bay. Hogan’s first goal, seeing the striker run onto a wonderful ball from Romaine Sawyers (having his best game in a Brentford shirt) that split the Preston defence and left him clear to cut in from the left and slide it under the advancing ‘keeper.

1-0 at half time and Brentford just about deserving of a lead. Yet after a somewhat staid start to the second half (in which Bentley was the busier ‘keeper and made one absolute stunning save – check that beauty out on the highlights reel) things suddenly accelerated.

Scott and Dan grab the headlines but Romaine and Harlee also shone

Harlee Dean made it 2-0, drilling home from a long corner with, perhaps, the help of a slight deflection. It was a goal that prompted exuberant celebrations and no more so than from ‘man with the mic’ Peter Gilham. His announcement for goal sponsors Siracusa stopping just short of reading out the Italian restaurant on Brentford Lock’s phone number.

And then it all went bonkers. With Preston having made all their substitutions, injury to Marnick Vermijl meant it was 10 against 11 or, in real terms, boys against men .

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View of the terrace. The pressure builds in front of a packed home end

It’s often said that it is harder to play agasint 10 men than 11. A cliche trotted out when a red card is administered and the impacted team have to try and contain the opposition. I’ve never understood why having a man advantage isn’t seen as more of an, erm, advantage. Well this time it was.

Three goals followed in a three minute spell. Hogan running on to a suicidal back header to make it 3-0 on 84 minutes before substitute Josh Clarke did all but get the fourth on 85. His cross into the box turned in by Chris Humphrey although, at least, Peter Gilham gave the youngster credit as “The last Brentford player to touch the ball”.

But it was the fifth, just moments later, that earned the match ball for Hogan and the biggest cheer form the Griffin Park crowd. Again, it was Sayers involved. The midfielder delivering a beautiful through ball that, along with a neat touch from Josh McEachran, sliced open the Preston defence as easily as a diner cutting through a freshly prepared pizza, served direct from a wood fire oven.

The crowd went crazy. Peter Gilham went that close to reading out the dessert choices. The whiff of brackets was in the air.

Whilst 7(seven) would, perhaps, have been pushing the boundaries of expectation, who wasn’t ecstatic with a 5-0 humping? Chairman Cliff Crown was in buoyant form at full time, talking to all and sundry outside The Griffin for a good hour at least.

The other shock of the day was Keith Stroud. I can only imagine what the odds on more goals than bookings would have ben before kick off? Yet the notorious man in the middle was in as good form before kick off as our chairman had been at full time, stopping to talk to supporters after performing a somewhat elaborate warm up routine that was part Jane Fonda, part line dance.

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Keith leads the line. Dance

And the game itself saw just two yellows shown. His lowest total all season. That said, the second was delivered with his customary ‘flourish and turn’ delivery. Infuriating to receive; wonderful when given to the opposition. As one Braemar Road resident noted, “He’s like a footballing equivalent of cricket’s Steve Bucknor” – the arm is raised in one, fluid movement and no amount of imploring will change the decision.

Actually, fair play to Keith. He had a very good game. The only people left disappointed were those who had taken part in Kitman Bob’s pre-match game. “Stop letting the game flow” noted one observer. Part tongue in cheek, part hoping for a chance to win that Emmanuel Ledesma shirt.

The only real down side was our own Big Bee Radio not being nimble fingered enough to play the theme tune to Hawaii-5-0 on the way out. Instead,

For once, this kit nerd would have been happy if Keith had taken note.

On a day that saw Beeplayers co-commentator Marcus Gayle make it three wins from three  when sitting along side Mark Burridge (who one can only presume now has the big man handcuffed to a radiator – metaphorically speaking), these weren’t the only omens falling into place. Last season’s black ‘third’ top is the current ‘lucky shirt’  whilst my own son is still to see us lose. In three seasons.

Testament to his own talismanic quality or simply a sign of how hard a place Griffin Park is to visit for our Championship rivals ? As we saw on Wednesday at Aston Villa, the old girl is definitely at the other end of the palatial spectrum yet it is something which very much plays to our advantage.

Next up at home are Reading, next Tuesday. Until then its a trip to Wolves on Saturday. No doubt buoyed by their own win at Newcastle United yesterday, it promises to be a corker.

I can’t wait.

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How many goals did we score?

Nick Bruzon

 

Can a leopard change his spots as Preston visit?

17 Sep

Saturday morning, TW8. The torrential downpour of Friday is but a fleeting memory as Brentford await the visit of Preston North End. Instead it is the memory of Wednesday night at Aston Villa and a wonderfully hard fought point in a game that we can count ourselves hugely unlucky not to have won by the end, which is just one of many motivating factors today.

Villa Park was wonderful. An incredible stadium and a great experience although at the end of the day (Clive) it has been and gone. The tickets are now residing in the stub collection (should anybody own such a thing) ; the half and half scarves at the back of the wardrobe. Or, preferably, a bonfire. Whilst we may get another chance to play them next season for now it is all about Preston.

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Bees fans celebrate the equaliser at Villa Park

The stadium holds it’s collective breath. The penalty taker has been chosen and the ball placed on the spot. With the scores locked at 0-0, Brentford supporters know that if this spot kick goes in, promotion to the Championship is as good as ours. Teeth are gritted, fingers crossed and buttocks clenched. One terrace wag turns around and looks at the faces of the fans behind him, such is the tension and, more importantly, his own penalty based idiosyncrasy (that’s not me, btw) .

Boooomm. Noooo!!! He’s hit the crossbar and they’ve now gone down the other end to steal the title .

Sorry. Wrong season. I mean, Yessss!!! He’s done it. On loan (as he was then) Alan Judge buried his first half effort from 12 yards to give the Bees a 1-0 lead in a game against Preston the following campaign that, thanks to other results, saw us go up to the Championship behind Wolves.

Such was the difference in climax compared to what had happened less than 12 months earlier against Doncaster that the only real breatholding was when the realisation dawned that our post match pitch invasion had been somewhat premature. Rotherham were doing their level best to haul themselves back into a seemingly lost cause at Molineux but, in the end, it was too late. We’d done it.

We all know what happened. Alan even missed a second penalty that day as the Preston support, fully spruced up for their annual ‘gentry day’ helped us celebrate long into the night.

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Some people are on the pitch – what a denouement to that Preston game

Yet, like the Aston Villa game, that is now another memory and marvellous though it is to wallow in it once more, focus on the task at hand is very much the order of the day.

Having lost their opening three games on the spin, Preston have now started to find their feet. Whilst beating QPR is no big thing these days (just ask Newcastle) their most recent outing saw another win with a stonking 3-0 defeat of Cardiff City.  Even the previous game,  defeat at Barnsley, saw manager Simon Grayson enthusing about the positives in his team’s performance.

The point being, underestimate Preston and their 19th place at your peril. If nothing else, the table is still three games away from officially ’taking shape’ . 10 games being the place when that benchmark of form is reached and, of course, we are now 7(seven) games into the campaign.

The next point of focus is the man in the middle. Few names inspire fear like Keith Stroud. The booking happy official really set himself apart in the game at Sheffield United back in April 2013 and has been flourishing the cards ever since.

And nothing has changed since. In the 10 games he has officiated this season, 48 yellows and 4 reds have already been produced from Mr Stroud’s pocket.

One can only hope that, in a season which has already seen referees taking a much harder line on could and a much dimmer view on petulance, pulling and diving, our boys can keep their focus. My online bookmaker isn’t even offering odds on a red card today. This, when I checked for research purposes.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

And then, of course, is the question of who Dean Smith picks to start this one. With the players having had one day’s less prep time than normal (it still feels so odd playing on a Wednesday) and the midfield looking a touch jaded at times agasint Villa, could changes be imminent? Or have Dean’s favoured XI recharged their batteries for another chance to reward his faith in them ?

Will Lasse Vibe start? What about Sullay Kaikai? The persistence and continued application of the Bees by the end of the Aston Villa game was clear for all to see.

Have these two subs done sufficiently to help tip the balance and, perhaps, give what must be some very tired legs a bit of a break? Likewise, could Dean make more changes to his midfield or is it just a game away from fully ‘clicking’? Decision, decisions.

The flip side to all of this is that I understand Marcus Gayle, will be in the Beesplayer commentary box this afternoon. Or, should I say, on the recently enlarged gantry where Mark Burridge and team will be based from today.

What’s so important about Marcus’s commentating skills, you may ask? Well, aside from being an absolute legend in his own lunchbox, sorry lunchtime, his form alongside Mark mirrors his success on the pitch bad. Two co-commentaries and two victories is as good a record as you could hope for.

Should we make it three in row today, I can only imagine Beesplayer listeners will be calling for Marcus to be made a regular fixture.

Marcus v Keith. Dean v Simon. Brentford v Preston. Who will come out on top? There’s only one place to find out. 3pm, Griffin Park.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? The big game awaits.

10 Sep

Saturday football is back. With most sports pages devoted to the incessant wittering on about if Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will have a glass of wine together (although whether this is before, during or after the Manchester United – Manchester City game remains unclear) you’d be forgiven for thinking nobody else was in action today. But, of course, the really big one is down on the South Coast where Brentford head to Brighton hoping to pick up where we left off against Sheffield Wednesday. Albeit without the injury time equaliser or open goal chances being served up on a plate.

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Today’s the day

Indeed, the ever erudite Billy Reeves has noted in his BBC preview that, “Dan Bentley has made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the Championship this season, which either suggests he was a smart purchase for Bees or their defence is a bit leaky.” This, an observation which he’s not alone in picking up on i.e. that whilst Dan is clearly a force to be reckoned with and a player wth the potential to go all the way, has nobody twigged that there has to be a cause to his being pressed into action so frequently?

Personally, I’m not too phased. We’re just five games into a new season with 7(seven) points on the board already.  Likewise, we have the likes of Andreas Bjelland, Yoann Barbet and, of course, Rico Henry to find their way into this defence. Indeed, if anything it is probably a holding midfielder role that is as key a position as the four men sitting in front of Dan Bentley.

Give it five more matches and we’ll be much better placed to make a call as to whether this team is a footballing colander or has found it’s feet following the summer reshuffle.  Ten games in is always the watermark for the table being deemed to have ‘taken shape’ and sides knowing whether, in the majority of cases, they’ll be an all conquering Manchester City or a hapless Manchester United (certainly, based on recent seasons).

Along with today’s trip to Brighton, those next four see us visiting Aston Villa and Wolves along with home games against both Preston and Reading. Certainly, a cross section of famous names and tough opponents. On paper.

Reading leapfrogged both us and Brighton last night following their last gasp win over Ipswich Town. The three points that came with Danny Williams’ 95th minute penalty propelling the Royals from behind the Bees up to third place in the embryonic league table. I’d love to be higher up than lower down but things are just too tight to get overly excited about at the moment. The most important thing being to pick up the wins and let the others worry about themselves for now.

And our attempt to do so will, surely, see a start for Crystal Palace winger Sullay Kaikai. Whilst too early to determine if he will be officially be deemed ’starlet’ ( a term so beloved of our local press for young loanees who are any good – see also : Spanish starlet Sergi Canos) he comes to Griffin Park with a great reputation from the Palace faithful and bags of potential.

Lasse Vibe is, of course, unavailable following his red card against Sheffield Wednesday and so common sense dictates that surely a straight swap is the inevitable next step? Or could Dean Smith have a card up his sleeve and be looking at a bit of a wider reaching reshuffle? Certainly, with two weeks to work on it then perhaps some of his bench players may feature. The likes of Sam Saunders and, especially, Konstantin Kerschbaumer (given how he ended last season) must be chomping at the bit for a start.

If nothing else, it’s playing havoc with the BBGiveaway. Kitman Bob went early, putting up the ever popular competition last night. Sam Saunders or Sullay Kaikai on 7(seven) minutes? Decisions, decisions. Who’d be a manager? It’s tough enough being a supporter.

Still, if that’s all we’ve got to worry about it promises to be a great day. You can keep your Manchester derby on TV. There’s no finer way to spend a Saturday than following the Bees on the road when time, and green cards, permit (please note: I wear the trousers in my house and, obviously, could go to every away game. If I chose to. Honestly). Having missed out on Huddersfield and Rotherham this will be a first chance for many of us, myself included, to see how we travel this season.

And I can’t wait. See you at the Amex.

Jon Toral v Brighton

Brentford make their third Championship visit to the Amex

Nick Bruzon

Bees snatch draw from the jaws of unlikely victory

28 Aug

That’s five games against Sheffield Wednesday since Brentford ascended to the Championship and still the Bees are to record anything more than a draw against the Owls. Yet we’ll never have a better chance than yesterday after entering injury time 1-0 up despite having spent huge swathes of the game under the cosh, survived wave after wave of pressure and seen some glaring misses.

With Wednesday fans already calling the police to report the proverbial robbery, Sam Hutchinson stole in to grab a late, late headed equaliser from an injury time free kick. On chances created by the visitors it was probably a deserved result but chances count for jack if you don’t put them away. Instead, it was Brentford who ended the game feeling bitter disappointment after coming so close to making it three wins from three games at Griffin Park with no goals conceded.

The first half was woeful from the Bees. No question. Even Dean Smith was honest enough in his post match assessment to admit, “We were very, very poor…. If somebody had offered me a point at half-time I would have ripped their hands off, but we are disappointed to concede so late in the game.

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View from the New Road – the memo about managerial uniform had been received

Highlight of the first half was the incredible miss by Lucas João. Just yards out and unmarked in front of the goal, the back of the net was at his mercy as a Fernando Foristieri pass found its way past Brentford goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. If ever you needed the dictionary definition of open goal then this was it. Yet, somehow, after making a couple of stabs at the ball the Wednesday striker somehow managed to hoof it clear of the bar.

One Ealing Road observer, standing directly behind the goal, would later remark that he was going back to Church because the Virgin birth was more believable than that miss. It was THAT bad.

If the Wednesday fans would end the game feeling as though they were being robbed, this was a case of Brentford very much getting away with murder. Defensively speaking. Strigiformicide?

Yet the Bees had to thank Bentley as much as João for keeping us in the game. A series of fine saves, including one stunner from a Nico Yennaris header, ensured we ended the first half level. And from there, things changed.

Lasse Vibe showed just how important it is to follow up on a backpass. Wednesday ‘keeper Kieren Westwood had been put under unnecessary pressure by his own defence fannying around in the sunshine instead of clearing it forward. The subsequent hurried clearance he was forced to make was charged down by the great Dane and bounced straight back into the net to give the Bees the lead.

It was a goal neither knew too much about but, at the same time, a reward for putting in that run at the ‘keeper. So often a futile move yet one which can pay off every now and again. Likewise, it heralded a return of everybody’s favourite chant.  “It’s all your fault, It’s aaallll yourrr fault” ringing around the home end.

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The second half saw us outmuscle our opponents more

With the game adopting a more even feel, and Wednesday then reduced to ten men following a second yellow card to David Jones (for dissent), surely there would be only one winner? Surely….

But no. Brentford seemed content to keep their somewhat unwieldy shape and rather than press for the winner, sit on the lead. This is never a great strategy, moreso with the Bees also down to ten men late on. Lasse Vibe being the recipient of refereeing justice after a somewhat innocuous coming together with Foristieri saw the Brentford man receive his second yellow with just minutes left on the clock.

With Wednesday having nothing to lose they went for it. And this time Hutchinson’s header, and a point, was their reward as the game ended 1-1.

Ryan Woods and Dan Bentley again provided the highlights for Brentford. The former was everywhere whilst our new goalkeeper has, once more, shown just why so many teams were after him in the summer. His performance was one that Sky Sports would describe as “A succession of breathtaking saves.” The highlights package shows just how well he did. Along with that miss.

Mark Burridge works more magic on the mic

Dean Smith appears to have have adopted a total reverse of substitution philosophy compared to previous seasons. In days gone by, three changes made in the 60 -70 minute ‘zone’ were a footballing routine as predictable as Arsene Wenger subsequently claiming to have missed a penalty incident or West Ham’s new stadium being mentioned. This, no matter how good or bad we’d been up until that point.

Now, he seems intent on running his players into the ground. I’m sure he’d argue that is part of building a solid, settled team and whilst I can respect that, why persist so long when by his own admission we’d been very, very poor?  Konstantin Kerschbaumer in particular, who had such a fine end to last campaign, must be desperate to get out there.

Outside of the game itself, plus points from the afternoon also included the new look gantry. Whilst we’ve all had our two-penneth worth on the way the upgraded structure was (or wasn’t) announced to the world, it’s welcome to see just how quickly the club have since reacted. Fair play to them and the team at BIAS (who I understand have been involved in discussion) for making what changes we could in such a short space of time.

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View from the Braemar – the upgraded gantry now visible

On personal note, I’d also like to offer huge THANKS to all those involved at Brentford for their help in making sure my son had such a wonderful afternoon as team mascot. He was made nothing but welcome by everybody involved  – from Malcolm in the match-day team all the way through to Dean Smith, the players and even Wednesday mascot Lucy. It really was a wonderful treat and the attention of everybody showed yet again, as if any reminder were required, what a wonderful family club we have.

Sam Saunders has, I’m afraid to say, now been pushed into second place as his favourite player. It was 90 minutes of “Where’s Harlee?” and “Come on Harlee!” as our captain has now become his new number one.

Harlee – if you are reading (who knows?) then an extra big thanks from Harry and dad.

HB Harlee and Dan

The new defensive line up still needs work

Nick Bruzon

The season begins with travel and transfer chaos. And a badge update

5 Aug

We’re all systems go. As Brentford prepare to start our own Championship campaign at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, proceedings begin in anger this evening as Newcastle United have the somewhat dubious honour of travelling to Fulham for Sky’s opening televised game. We’ve the fallout from yesterday’s opinion piece on the club badge and an interesting update concerning former Bee Alex Pritchard and his move from Tottenham to Norwich via another fans forum – this time Brighton’s.

First up, the response to yesterday’s piece on the Brentford badge. Well, judging by the reaction from various social media sources it seems there is a lot of love for the current version over our previous incarnation. For every comment such as the Castle “is a design classic. Like the Porsche 911 or Ray Bans Aviators” or the present one looking “like it’s been made using Microsoft Clip art” there was an awful lot of admiration for Andrew Henning’s modern day effort. I can’t deny it’s popularity amongst large numbers of our support.

Of equal interest were several calls for a redesign or even just a fan vote on which way to go. How about a new crest altogether? Especially with a 130th anniversary coming up in 2019. There’s plenty of opinion out there in yesterday’s comment’s page or on twitter.

Whichever you prefer  – and whilst I am #teamcastle it is clear we have many fans of the modern version – Joe Fenton (@Jaf1991) nailed it with the observation that , “I think we can all just be thankful we haven’t reverted back to the horror of 1989..”

Bees 89 cenenary badge

Next up Fulham v Newcastle United. The first game of the Championship and already we see the headaches that will face supporters with a Friday night trip from the North East to West London. It is a game where the visitors – those who aren’t making a weekend of it, of course –  will then rely on both TFL (good luck) and a sprint across town for the last train home. One that arrives just shy of 3am.

I’ve no doubt Newcastle will travel ‘en-masse’ for this one, such is the reputation of their fanbase . Many of whom may even be wearing shirts. But it does concern me that given the obvious  attraction of Sky to feature the former Premier League outfit (see also : Aston Villa) Saturday games are going to be the thin end of the wedge. And that’s an obvious impact for us. Indeed, our trip to Villa Park has already been put back a day to accommodate that weekend’s TV.

With the Bees travelling to Newcastle on October 15th, you’ve got to think that isn’t one that is going to be deemed TV-worthy.   But should Dean Smith and his team hit the ground running then who knows what subsequent changes to the schedule may soon be made? As it stands, Sky’s ‘live’ calendar only runs as far as September 26th and from a Championship perspective, the game two days earlier between Aston Villa and, erm, Newcastle United.

Could the Bees feature in that next batch? Will Newcastle become this years Leeds United  – at least in terms of TV exposure?  Here’s hoping some consideration is given to travelling supporters – but I doubt it .

Next up. Alex Pritchard. “We want you to stay” sang Bees supporters as he certainly made an impression whilst on loan from Spurs during our first season back in the Championship.A long sleeved yellow away shirt (not even Sam Saunders was afforded that luxury), fleet of foot and a fair few goals , he was missed by many last season.

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What a shirt….

Whilst there had been hope that we might strike a deal with Spurs to bring him back, that was merely a pipe dream with Rasmus Ankersen confirming at our recent fan forum that he would just cost too much.

But with a transfer inevitable, it looked like Brighton were his next destination . Until Norwich City, already featuring another former Bee in the legend that is Sergi Canos, jumped in. Aside from making me think that Newcastle might not have things all their own way this season (the Magpies being every pundit, even Ian Holloway’s, favourite for the title) the move did spark an interesting update from Brighton’s own forum last night.

Nobody can deny Brighton’s honesty. And diplomacy, despite some clear frustration . Why blame an agent or another club when you can blame the traffic?

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not my words etc

Nick Bruzon

Is Kettle plugged in? Championship refs have a makeover for 2016/17

4 Jun

With Brentford now knowing who they’ll face in the Championship next season, we’re also aware of who will be in charge of those games. With visits from former Premier League outfits Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the calendar along with the all important West London derbies against Fulham and the Loftus Road mob, the man in the middle is sure to be more important than ever before. Season 2016/17 brings changes to that role.

Today’s Last Word is brought to you by none other than regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush. Sharing the apprehension felt by many when we get to see who is going to be wielding the cards and whistle, he gives us a rundown on just what we can expect. There’s good news. And bad.

Not surprisingly, the words Kettle and Stroud appear.

Bernard Quackenbush writes…

Bernard Quack“Next season, there will be two big changes which will effect all Championship teams. The most significant of which will be that emergency loans will be no more. So once Jim White, football’s answer to Brian Blessed, shouts that the transfer window is shutting, there can be no more trading until January!

The other, lesser change, is the one that interests me more, and I have been asked by Nick to talk about today.

For some time now there has been an elite list of referees who have officiated in the Premier League, known as the SG list. Last season it was announced that there would be a new SG2 list of referees who would ‘predominantly’ ref Championship matches only. The big difference is that these referees will become professional and enjoy the same privileges and access to facilities similar to their Premier counterparts. This has been needed for some time and really became very obvious last season. Numerous iffy and inconsistent displays by referees and an injury list of officials similar to our own, made any kind of planning in the referee ranks, virtually impossible.

So that’s the background. So why am I so fascinated by this area of football? Ever since I was a child I understood that these villains in black were just as important as the players. Some were bad, and some were awful, occasionally one may be OK! So I wanted to know more about them. They came from the oddest places too, usually Cotswolds hamlets or Yorkshire mining villages or places with seemingly ridiculous names like Great Bookham. For example, in my mind Lester Shapter never came from Devon, he was from Torquay! Sadly, a policy change meant that these villains in black (after all that is the colour villains always wore), meant that the hamlets and villages were no longer listed and instead the County FA’s where they are registered were listed instead. Yet in this day of the interweb, a bit of digging and a basic grasp of cyber stalking skills, one can still find out that Charles Breakspear comes from Walton-on-Thames (although I imagine someone will now tell me he is from Virginia Water or similar).

So what of this SG2 list. Who made it, who did not? In all there were 31 applicants to the list, with only 18(eighteen) spaces available. There would also have been some strong candidates who decided not to apply because they did not want to give up the day job of being a traffic warden, or similarly heinous job. (Apologies to any traffic wardens’ but I work in Childrens Social Care, so I can trump everyone in most despised occupations!).

The bad news first….Keith Stroud.

Quite possibly the most consistently awful and incompetent card happy referee that has taken charge of a Bees match, is on the list. I was hoping that he would get promoted with Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney to the Premier League, but he is stuck with us. I may be over wishful and optimistic in my thinking that I can imagine him being considered a senior member of the group along with the usually competent Simon Hooper, and may end up taking charge of more than his fair share of Newcastle United and  Aston Villa games rather than the likes of us Huddersfield or Bristol City.

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Keith Stroud (on Sky)- your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

There are a number of positives to the list with a number of names not appearing on it. NO Keith Hill. NO Trevor Kettle. NO Gavin Ward and also no sign of messrs Webb, Malone, Boyeson, Brown, Collins, Handley or Williamson. Also no sign of the much maligned ‘Deadly’ Darren Deadman, who showed one of the most human and commendable acts by a referee, when not booking Billy Sharp for revealing a message on his vest under his shirt after the tragic death of his baby. Additionally, no sign of Nigel Miller, an old skool police officer type ref who always seemed to show common sense.

A perk of the new list is that it contains a number of the better younger refs who are finding it impossible to break into the Premier League, because of their seemingly ‘jobs for life no matter how useless they are’ policy. Refs like Coote, Harrington, Kavanagh, Simpson and the excellent James Adcock from Nottingham for example. Madley is on the list too, thankfully its Andy and not Bobby. Oli Langford from Wednesbury is a vastly underrated ref who I would be happy to see at GP. Yet Tim Robinson from Bognor is one who lowers my expectations before a match has even started. A similar feeling I began to get last season every time I saw Andy Davies’ name in the match programme. The list is completed by Mr Bankes, Duncan, Eltringham, Bond, Linington, Martin and Andy Woolmer.

Additionally, ‘assistants’ are getting an overhaul too, with 36 successful applicants making it to the list, although there are 3 or 4 being demoted from the Premier League. Unlike the referees, not all assistants will become professional assistants, which makes them sound like football’s equivalent to the lovely Debbie McGee. Unfortunately, keeping tabs on our linesmen is not easy, as clearly there is 2 of them and I never know which is which.

There are exceptions to this, where one is clearly of a different ethnicity, or have some form of disability (and I don’t mean poor eyesight), or Mike Newell’s particular favourite, officials who need their own separate changing room. But one noticeable admission from the list is Mathew Buonassisi, a linesman who always seemed to forget where he was and constantly confused his referee as to what the bejeezus he was doing. Mathew has decided to call it a day and has accepted the long standing offer from Hollywood to be Danny DeVito’s body double.”

Bernard Quackenbush

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The lovely Debbie McGee

Bernard – many thanks indeed.

And if you’d like to read more from Bernard then aside from the comments on many of the regular comments to these pages, you can follow him on Twitter via @BernardQuack.

Nick Bruzon

Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of that Stroud induced pain then you can do so now.

It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.

Thanks for reading.