ALBERT WAS AT A BEES  SEMI NEARLY 80 YEARS AGO

ALBERT WAS AT A BEES SEMI NEARLY 80 YEARS AGO

He was at Wembley in 1942 when Brentford won the London War Cup in front of 70,000 fans, he was in the record crowd of 38,678 at Griffin Park for the FA cup 6th round tie v Leicester City in 1949, on the special train to Blackburn in 1989 when 3,000 travelled north for a 5th round FA Cup game, at  the promotion clinchers at Peterborough in 1992 and Cambridge in 1999,  and at Griffin Park against Preston when we won promotion to the Championship in 2014.  Albert French is truly living Brentford history.

And perhaps what’s most relevant at the moment is that he watched a Cup semi–final which Brentford not only played in but won. The Carabao Cup semi-final next month will be our first ever ‘major’ semi  because nobody is claiming that the 1942 semi in the London War Cup was ‘major’ but it was the best available in wartime. Brentford met Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and there was a goalless draw.The replay was at White Hart Lane and Albert was there to see the Bees win 2-1. He remembers that it was a crowd of about 40,000, unsegregated and no need for social distancing then. Albert recalls that the game was very exciting with a great atmosphere, the view from
behind one of the goals was rather poor but he saw the Arsenal great Cliff Bastin playing.

Albert was  97 this December and we think that makes him the oldest season-ticket holder and BU member, just a little older than Ron Fishlock who we reported on last season. If you know of anybody who’s older do let us know. Albert was ten when he went to his first game at Griffin Park. It was Saturday March 17th 1934 and the Bees won one-nil against Blackpool. Harry Curtis was the manager, Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister of the UK and the next day Mussolini announced Italy’s ‘primacy’ across the world. Brentford’s own plan for world domination would also hit a snag later when the Bees lost a crucial game and ended up one point off promotion to the First Division. The next season they made it, maybe a precedent for this season?

Albert says ““The first games of mine were a real treat, great gems”, there were crowds of up to 30,000 and boys like him “were passed above people’s heads from the back to the front of the stands”. He lived in Hanwell and can remember when “all conversations over the garden fence were dominated by talk about Brentford”. These were the days when hunger marchers came down to London and “there wasn’t much money about”. He also remembers the open top trams which ran across West London and on match-days “it was absolutely pandemonium”.There would be many more match-days for Albert over the next nine decades. Perhaps the most extraordinary was the 1941-2 season at the height of the Second World War. “I was only about 16, but I travelled around everywhere, every match, home and away, north and south. I went to Wembley for the London War Cup Final, that was another great day. I can picture it as if it was yesterday. Leslie Smith was absolutely brilliant, Joe James held the cup and he nearly dropped it on the floor”.

Over the years there were many other great days like the cup victory at Blackburn that took the Bees to the sixth round of the FA Cup against Liverpool in 1989 and those promotion games at Cambridge and Peterborough. Albert’s son David went with him on many of these trips.  And there were the not so good days. Disappointments include numerous relegations, countless play-off failures, Freight Rover and LDV final defeats and Mr Raymond Biggar’s 9 minutes of added time against Notts County in 1993 that ultimately led to our relegation.

Albert and David French’s programme from the infamous 1993 match against Notts County.

 David says; “One of the worst moments was at Gillingham in the FA Cup. We were 3-1 up with 11 minutes left and somehow lost 5-3. We drove all the way back home without saying a word to each other”.  And the Doncaster Rovers disaster of course, best summed up by a comment from an older supporter who told them as they left the ground “if you’ve been supporting Brentford for as long as I have, THAT’S what it’s all about!”

Peter Gilham welcomes Albert French on a 94th birthday treat with Albert’s son David.

There are also weather memories on and off the pitch. Albert says; “Before the Clean Air Act there were matches in thick fog and on Boxing Day 1948 we were playing Plymouth and in the Royal Oak stand there were supporters with about 3 inches of snow on their heads”.  Also David remembers; ”we got soaked queueing in a long snake for tickets for the Liverpool cup game, we went to dry out in the Royal Oak where we met Gary Blissett and Andy Feeley having a leisurely post-match beer in the warm”.  A very early start ensured Albert survived another ticketing disaster in 2005 and with David he was at the “very entertaining Martin Allen inspired 2-2 draw at Southampton in the FA Cup 5th Round”.

Albert reckons he’s seen 49 of the 59 people in Brentford’s Hall of Fame. A small selection of his favourite players through the decades starts with what he thinks was Brentford’s greatest ever team in the 1930’s.  An early idol was Dai Hopkins, a Welsh international winger and lynchpin of that team.  Albert remembers being transfixed by seeing his skills in the flesh from close quarters in the New Road stand.  In 1942 Albert was called up and served in the RAF in North Africa and Italy before being de-mobbed in 1947, so there were a few missed years of watching the Bees.  Bill  Gorman (‘Baldy’), Billy Dare, and our half-back line of Ron Greenwood, Tony Harper, and Jimmy Hill (‘Chinny) sticks firmly in his mind from the late Forties and early Fifties.  The terrible twins Jim Towers and George Francis loomed large in the late Fifties and early Sixties.  Moving on – and with David now attending – John O’Mara & co. lit up the 1971/72 campaign followed a few years later by another great strike partnership of Andy McCulloch and Steve Phillips.  Chris Kamara, Terry Hurlock and Stan Bowles was another great and very characterful midfield in the 1980’s along with strikers Francis Joseph, Dean Holdsworth, Garry Blissett, Marcus Gayle, the ‘FT index’ Nicky Foster and Robert Taylor and Lloyd Owusu. He’s forgotten some of the details of DJ Campbell’s cup exploits against Sunderland in 2006 (he obviously got too excited) but he does remember Billy Grant playing several ‘Brentford themed’ numbers on an out of tune piano in a rocking Lord Nelson afterwards. The experience proved so overwhelming for a glory-hunter friend that he brought season tickets for his entire family for the following season.  Sadly he wasn’t seen much thereafter!”

Albert has seen Brentford teams under the stewardship of over 40 managers, starting with the legendary Harry Curtis during the 1930’s through to the manager of our greatest team in the modern era, Thomas Frank.  Apart from Harry Curtis, Albert’s favourites include Jackie Gibbons, Steve Perryman, ‘Mad Dog’ Martin Allen and Uwe Rosler.  Mark Warburton, Dean Smith and Thomas Frank are all recent favourites and he met Dean and Thomas as part of a 94th birthday treat organised by his late daughter Rosemary. 

Albert thinks that Brentford teams since we’ve been back in the Championship are playing the best football he has ever seen, in fact so good it is largely unrecognisable from the offerings of the previous eighty years.  He loves watching all the current players and the pandemic has been a unexpected boon for him in that via iFollow he is watching more live Brentford action than ever before.  He has become a re-born Bees fanatic. 

Albert,Stephen and David French -three generations of Bees fans. If you add in Albert’s late father Wiiliam, its a four generation Bees family.

In more recent times David French was at the Bees United meeting in 2009 when members voted in favour of the deal with Matthew Benham which became a turning point in the club’s history. David and his Dad are both season-ticket holders in the new stadium but only David has been able to go so far, being one of the 2,000 who attended the game against Blackburn. Albert’s heart condition makes getting to the games problematic. ”It’s difficult to explain my position, one minute I’m at death’s door, the next I’m not. It’s quite amazing what has been done medically. You name it, I’ve had it done. I always ask ‘is it worth it? Every time the doctors say ‘of course, of course’.

Albert is scheduled for an anti-COVID vaccine in the second week of January so here’s to the day when the virus has receded enough and Albert is well enough to go to the stadium. Perhaps it will be in time for the 90th anniversary of his first trip to Griffin Park. Certainly Bees United will do what it can to help make that happen. For Albert it will be another memory, he has been around so long that he says “‘I’ve seen stands go up and I’ve seen them go down”.

  

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WHY BRENTFORD IS BETTER PLACED THAN LAST SEASON

WHY BRENTFORD IS BETTER PLACED THAN LAST SEASON

This is certainly a wonderful time to be writing a summary of Brentford’s progress during the first half of this unique and relentless football season. As they went into the home match against Bournemouth after 21 league games the Bees found themselves:

  • Unbeaten in the last 15 games, a run stretching back over two months despite facing the handicap of playing ten Championship matches plus a Carabao Cup game in an exhausting marathon dance-like 35-day period and not having had a free midweek to prepare, lick wounds and recuperate since mid-October
  • Fourth in the Championship table, a mere point behind second place Swansea and with a superior goal difference to them, and just five points behind the leaders, Norwich City.
  • Only Bournemouth and Blackburn Rovers had scored more than Brentford’s 35 goals and six teams have conceded less than the 20 goals scored against us.
  • In Ivan Toney, the Bees boast the Championship’s current top goal scorer with 16, one ahead of Blackburn’s voracious Adam Armstrong
  • With 38 points after 21 matches the Bees were five points and three league places ahead of where they were after the same number of games last season. In both seasons the 21st match, ironically enough was against Cardiff City – and both times we won
  • At this time last season Brentford had already lost eight times – six by the dreaded 0-1 score line. The Bees have lost only three matches so far this season. An opening day reverse at Birmingham where the 0-1 result was almost as much an aberration as the identical result the previous season, a 4-2 disaster at home to Preston where the loss through injury of one of the team’s leaders and inspirations, defensive shield Christian Norgaard saw a suddenly rudderless and disorganised team fall apart and leak four unanswered second half goals after leading 2-0 at the break and a 2-3 horror show at Stoke City where a drastically re-organised and weakened team, reverting to a 3-4-3 system never really woke up or competed until the match was long gone.
  • The Bees have now won six of their first eleven away games, one more than at the same stage last season
  • Despite the fillip of that 7-0 win over hapless Luton Town, at this point last season Brentford had scored two less goals than we have done to date this season and we have earned 8 clean sheets already this season – one more than at the same time last season, even though we are three goals worse off in terms of goals conceded
  • Top scorer Ollie Watkins had scored 13 goals after 21 games last season – three less than the prolific Ivan Toney
  • Oh – I almost forgot to mention that Brentford have also found the time and energy to set a club record in reaching the semi-final of a major cup competition for the first time in their history as they have already beaten four Premier League teams, Southampton, West Bromwich Albion, near neighbours Fulham and Newcastle United on their triumphant march to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup where they will play Tottenham Hotspur for the right to a place in the Wembley Final on 25th April 2021.
  • In passing, five EPL teams had won less than the four games that the Bees have already won this season against top level opposition.

The 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, while Swansea could only draw at home to Reading, made things even brighter with the Bees moving into second place in  the Championship.

It is crucial in my opinion to outline in some detail just how well the Bees have done so far this season and how their achievements compare so positively to those of last season as there still does seem to be a view – totally erroneous in my opinion – amongst some Brentford supporters that the team is somewhat underperforming this season. In my opinion the team is simply performing differently and more efficiently than last season and certainly not worse.

It is easy to understand why, given the massive disappointment and hangover we are all suffering from after narrowly missing out on promotion to the promised land of the Premier League, having failed so cruelly to get over the line at the end of last season. Very often the losing team in the Play-off final suffers a reaction the following season as was the case for the Bees in both 1997/98 and 2002/03, but I am very much of the opinion that this time we might well repeat the example of 2013/14 when we triumphantly won promotion a year after the horrors of the Trotta penalty miss against Doncaster and the capitulation to Yeovil at Wembley.

Given the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic Brentford did not finish playing last season until 4th August, a fortnight after the rest of the league, having completed a physically and mentally exhausting schedule and their close season break, such as it was, was seriously curtailed with the opening pre-season friendly against Derby County kicking off a mere 22 days later. It is fair to say that the players and management team probably returned to action feeling rather tired and jaded given their disappointment at missing out on promotion and the lack of anywhere near sufficient physical and mental relaxation and respite and they went straight into this season’s programme which is even more strenuous than last.

The vultures were also hovering overhead and the marvellous BMW strike partnership which contributed a massive and seemingly irreplaceable 59 goals last season was also broken up with Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma deservedly receiving their opportunity to play at the top level. This left a huge and possibly insurmountable gap to fill with lower division goal machine Ivan Toney, Iranian international Saman Ghoddos and Northampton central defender Charlie Goode the only new arrivals and the final two have yet to make a regular impact. It is hardly surprising that the Bees did not get off to the best of starts with only one victory in the first four Championship matches. The team looked slightly out of sorts and definitely needed time to gel. 

Toney was initially profligate in front of goal before finally getting off the mark with a coolly taken penalty against Millwall since when he was simply gone from strength to strength and is now the most dangerous and coveted striker in the Championship. Neither Brian Mbeumo, plainly missing his B & W bookends as well as perhaps his fellow French speakers Benrahma and Julian Jeanvier, nor Sergi Canos returning from his serious knee injury were initially firing on anything like all cylinders. The loss of Norgaard, who missed almost three months of packed action after his unfortunate injury against Preston also seemed a mortal blow but the incredible Directors of Football, Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen came up smelling of roses yet again when they conjured up yet another future star in the totally unknown German defensive midfielder Vitaly Janelt who signed from obscurity at Bochum and ensured that the inspirational Norgaard was barely missed – another example of Brentford’s innate ability to find players seemingly from nowhere. 

The Bees were also getting used to and settling down in their incredible well-appointed new stadium at Lionel Road which was certainly not Griffin Park in any way, shape or form. This has proved to be a double-edged sword as opponents certainly feared coming to play the Bees at their rickety, dilapidated, creaky old stadium where the players had to change in shifts and the crowd bayed at them from seemingly a hand’s width away from the touchline. The Community Stadium at Lionel Road is a palace in comparison but some of the home advantage seems to have been lost, particularly given the current lack of home supporters, and it has yet to become the fortress we all hope and expect it to be.

Last season the Bees either blew teams away or lost frustratingly. There seemed to be no middle ground. They only drew nine times and lost 13 games, nine by a 0-1 score line. Brentford found it hard and often impossible to beat teams that came to break up play, niggle and frustrate and failed to score a single goal in six games against Huddersfield, Nottingham Forest and Stoke – prime examples of this genre of play.

This season you can see that a great deal of thought and planning has gone into the team’s playing style and approach. No longer are we the suave, debonair, high tempo, cavalier attacking team so beloved by all fans of lovely attacking football. We have quite simply transformed ourselves into a far more efficient killing machine that does not press so high and so relentlessly and sits back, absorbs the pressure and then strikes with speed and deadly precision and catches the opposition out on the break. It might not be as smooth or as easy on the eye as last season, although we have scored some beautifully worked goals, but we are certainly conserving energy for the long and arduous schedule ahead and are no longer a soft touch or flat track bullies either, but a team that is now quite capable of eking out a 1-0 win in tight away games. In fact, it is fair to say that we are perhaps better suited to playing away from home where the opposition generally come out to play and leaves gaps for us to exploit, instead of at home where most teams just sit back and invite us to break them down. We have become more efficient, tougher, less naïve and more professional, even employing the percentage tactic of utilising Mads Bech Sorensen’s long throw, something that would rarely happen in previous seasons.

The figures show that we are perhaps not creating as many chances as in the halcyon days of the BMW partnership and we miss the sheer genius of Benrahma, but Ivan Toney does not require many opportunities to score and we are also not allowing the opposition many chances either. Football in the time of COVID can be a strange and difficult watch given the lack of fans and atmosphere and some of the games have not been the most scintillating – something that can rarely have been said about Brentford in the last few years, but we are becoming relentless – a well organised and tough team boasting an exceptional defence that never seems to know when it is beaten. Thomas Frank also deserves massive praise for his coaching and man management skills and running a plainly happy camp and for eking out his resources as well as he possibly can. He has rotated his squad brilliantly with the likes of Tariqe Fosu (the new Josh Clarke), Sorensen, Dominic Thompson, Luke Daniels, Charlie Goode, the predatory Marcus Forss and Janelt all more than proving their worth when the regulars need a rest.

I am writing these words the day after Sergi Canos demonstrated his return to full form and confidence after scoring a superb match winning hat trick against Cardiff City and in his exuberant post match interview he made a telling comment which in my opinion sums up perfectly the reason for our success so far this season when he said: “We fight and then we play.” Simple, straightforward and totally to the point. A little bit like the team this season. 

We are on the verge of great things and it is a wonderful time to be a Brentford supporter. The club embodies everything that is good in life with its values, ambition and ethos. I am proud to be a fan of a club that promises to achieve so much in the year ahead. 

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BEST OF THE BEES IN YOUR EARS

BEST OF THE BEES IN YOUR EARS

A series of interviews with players from the Liverpool Academy of 2013-2014 may sound an unlikely place for great content about Brentford until you remember that Sergi Canos was there then.’Football Journeys, The Untold Stories’ Episode 8 is an hour well spent, full of everything you hoped Sergi was like and will now know he is.

The Pride of West London’s Beesotted is the grandfather and godfather of all Brentford podcasts.The twice-weekly thoughts of Billy Grant, Dave Lane and their ‘posse’ are just part of a multi-media ‘Brentford fans network’ which goes back to a printed fanzine about 30 years ago. They’ve got so used to not winning the awards they’ve been nominated for that they forgot to listen in recently to discover they’d won silver in the best podcast category of the Football League World awards. Enjoy the insights of Matt Allard and the historic stats of Jonathan Burchill and be forewarned about the barely tolerated views of ‘Liberal Nick’ Carthew.

Bees Bulletin calls itself ‘The latest Brentford FC news first and fast by journalist and Bees fan Stuart Hughes’. It is best known for match reports which feature the best audio from the ifollow commentary and the interviews with players and coaches by the club’s media team. But it also provides quick quotes from Thomas Frank’s media briefings. The fascinating story behind the podcast was told in a previous BU newsletter article about Stuart.

 

The new kid on the block is Bees Tactical which calls itself ‘A Brentford FC Podcast covering all things Tactical, Data and Youth Bees’. A spin-off from a twitter feed @beestactical this is for the Bees fan who doesn’t turn off at the mention of the initials xG or at the discovery that one host, Jon Mackenzie, is a Leeds fan (but Bees friendly). Listen out for the tactical knowledge of co-host and full blooded Bees fan David Anderson (Declaration of interest; David is a BU Board member). There are monthly reviews of Brentford’s performances and bonus analysis episodes linking up with other club podcasts.

Not to be confused with Bees Tactical is Bees Analytica. Another spin-off from digital media the pod version casts itself more widely than the tweets and calls itself ‘Analysis and Stats of all things happening in the EFL and beyond’. The host is strangely anonymous, possibly because he is ‘currently interning for a few EFL clubs at the moment in their data departments’.. Episode 6 was a good one-hour interview with ex-Bee Charlie MacDonald who at the age of 39 is still playing semi-pro while working full time as a coach. 

Broadening now to other Championship-minded pods, the Second Tier Podcast  is where Ryan ‘Championship superfan’ Dilks and Justin ‘Derby County fan’ Peach talk to each other about each week’s games but also have guests, and when it was allowed, visit grounds. They came to Griffin Park back in February  and posted on 27/2/20.Very Bee friendly, they also recently appeared on Beesotted.

For a 72  EFL club wide podcast try Not The Top 20 which is ‘about the Football League from George and Ali, two keen observers’. So keen are George Elek and Ali Maxwell that you are bound to have seen them on TV at some point talking in detail about the clubs none of the usual pundits know anything about. They are among the experts who assume, indeed hope, that Brentford will promoted to the Premier League one day, for them it is matter of when not if. Avoid their ‘Betting Shows’ unless you are hard core.

George and Ali also pop up occasionally on The Totally Football League Show. Born of the breakaway from the Guardian Football podcast that gave birth to the Totally Football Show (hear the nice things this show said about the Bees on Dec 21st at 58 minutes in), the EFL version is now another part of The Athletic, the online subscription service. Like all of the above podcasts this is free but there are lots of plugs for The Athletic. For a taster try a pod they did about Ivan Toney back in October.

The Sky Sports podcast about the EFL boasts ‘the thoughts of Sky Sports’ best Football League analysts and some of the biggest names in the EFL’. Which is another way of saying the blokes who sit in the gantries do the TV commentaries then come down into the warm and talk for another hour. Not a bad way to do a podcast.

There is also a great series about Brentford’s history.

As part of his day-job as an oral historian Beesotted crew member Sav Kyriacou has put together a series of podcasts based on the video interviews which volunteers did for the Push Up Brentford! history project. We recommend Part Four- Ballots and Buckets (which is where we got the idea for the BU book title ‘Bees,Battles,Buckets and Ballot Buckets’) and Part Six, a wonderful interview with former Bees manager Martin Allen.

If you know of any other podcasts that Bees fans might like please email us at admin@beesunited.org.uk

 

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WHAT BREXIT MAY MEAN FOR BRENTFORD’S RECRUITMENT POLICY

WHAT BREXIT MAY MEAN FOR BRENTFORD’S RECRUITMENT POLICY

When the UK’s transition out of the European Union ended at 11pm on Thursday 31st December the freedom of movement of people between the UK and the EU ended too and a new ‘points-based’ immigration system is coming into effect. The Government have worked with the football authorities on a new system for deciding which players from outside the UK can work here and which can’t. So what’s the effect on Brentford?

Nity Raj answers questions about Brexit on a YouTube video

Brentford Director and lawyer Nity Raj was asked in a club interview on youtube  (at 4.43 in) ‘How much impact will leaving the EU have on our dealings in the transfer market?’. He explained that previously players who were EU citizens were able to work freely in the UK without any kind of work permits. But now players who are EU citizens will be subject to the same rules as ones from outside the EU. “It is absolutely going to affect us because it won’t be as easy as it used to be to recruit EU players”. But it would be difficult to work out how much impact there would be and it might take two or three windows to find out. There were other factors such as COVID and possible salary caps which might also have an effect on the transfer market. Nity’s bottom line was that “right now we have a relatively settled squad so I’m not sure it is going to make a massive difference to the team at the moment”. EU players already in the UK are allowed to stay and within 12 months can apply for naturalisation as UK citizens.

The rules for the new immigration system are complicated, but here are some examples of how players from outside the UK -whether EU or not- can earn ‘points’ to allow them to play here:

  • How many national team appearances did you make in the last 24 months?
  • How many domestic league minutes did you play in the last 12 months?
  • What was the final league position of your current club?
  • What league do they play in?
  • How many minutes did you play in the last 12 months in ‘continental’ matches e.g. UEFA Champions League and Europa League or South American equivalents.

There are similar but separate rules for players under 21 which take into account appearances for national teams in the Under 17,19 and 20 World Cups and Euros.

To try to work through an example of an over 21 player, we looked at Vitaly Janelt who Brentford signed from the German second division team Bochum earlier this year. Under the rules at the time he came to England under freedom of movement as an EU citizen and can stay. But if we had been thinking of signing him next season he would have to score enough points to qualify for entry. He’s never played in his national team (his caps for Germany’s Under 21s don’t count for over 21 players), his club was in Band 2 of 6 European leagues, he’d made 24 appearances for them, they hadn’t played in a UEFA competition, and their final league position was 8th out of 18. BU doesn’t have precise enough data e.g how many minutes he played for Bochum in the last 12 months, to make a precise calculation. But our hunch is that this kind of player, over 21 but still young, from a second tier club, not capped at a full international level and with no experience in a UEFA competition, is on the border line of having enough points to play in the UK. It is worth remembering that Neal Maupay came from a similar background, a French second division club with no international caps, as did Said Benrahma who’d been loaned to French Ligue 2 clubs and had no caps for Algeria in the previous 24 months.

Nity Raj pointed out that there is already a premium on the price of home-grown players and thats’s going to continue. There is also another -half glass full -way at looking at the changes; all non-UK nationals, whether from inside or outside the EU, will have to satisfy the same points system.Nity Raj believes; “It could be that there is potential to pick up players from outside the EU, there could be ‘goldmines of talent’ there and thus a greater talent pool”. The real question was whether Brentford could make more use of the new rules than our competitors. “Brentford has been better in adapting to change than other teams, hopefully the same will apply to Brexit as well”.

Lee Dykes

In a separate development it has been announced that Brentford’s Director of Recruitment, Lee Dykes, will also oversee recruitment for Matthew Benham’s other club FC Midtjylland of Denmark.(FCM). In his first full interview since joining Brentford a year and a half ago Dykes emphasised the new extra responsibility he had been given. He said that off the back of ‘obviously a successful period’ it had been decided to amalgamate the recruitment for Brentford and FCM. “It is my job to direct that for both clubs. For every player we look at there are two avenues for them; into Denmark where FCM played Champions League football recently or into England and hopefully Premier League in the future. It gives us a good angle talking to representatives of players”.

Although Dykes did not specifically mention the new immigration system the fact is that because FCM have been in the Champions League this season – they held Liverpool to a draw and almost beat them- their players now have points which will make it easier for them to move to the UK. That advantage will continue as long as FCM qualify for UEFA competitions. Looking further ahead FCM have opened a free school in Denmark called ‘Goldmine’ with pupils aged 5-12 to try “to develop the best football player in the world”. The school is located on the same grounds where FCM train.

Rasmus Ankersen

The inspiration came from FCM Chairman Rasmus Ankersen who is also Co-Director of Football at Brentford. He published a book in 2012 called ‘The Gold Mine Effect’ about achieving high performance.  Dykes reports to Rasmus Ankersen as do FCM’s local scouts. Two of Rasmus’s colleagues on the Brentford Board, Cliff Crown and Nity Raj, are also on the board of FCM.

When Bees United tweets about FCM some Bees fans message back ‘what’s it got to do with us?’ In this post-Brexit world it might be time to keep an eye on what’s happening at Midtjylland, even if we still have trouble spelling it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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A TROUBLE-SHOOTER’S GUIDE TO IFOLLOW

A TROUBLE-SHOOTER’S GUIDE TO IFOLLOW

As part of your season ticket package you should have access to all home games and midweek away fixtures. You will have to pay for away fixtures that occur at the weekends. No, me neither.

The tedious process of signing up for a game with a club-issued code has been streamlined and you now need to do nothing to get access to games that you are entitled to as part of the ST package. You should find that if you go to your iFollow account that the next few fixtures will be marked as “already available” to you. If this is not the case, then please contact the club and they should sort this out for you.

There have been many fans reporting difficulty in accessing the match on the day itself. Here’s some handy tips to get up and running:

  • If you are using a computer to watch then use a wired connection rather than Wi-Fi if possible.
  • Make sure that you have a decent, fast internet connection. Go to fast.com and check you have sufficient bandwidth. Ideally this should be above 5Mbps, but anything over 1Mbps should suffice. If the bandwidth ends in “Gbps” then it must be over 800 and, even then, you are unlikely to have the best experience.
  • To improve your bandwidth, do the following:
  1. If possible, use a wired connection rather than Wi-Fi
  2. If using Wi-Fi, then ensure you find the best place to watch. Using fast.com above try moving to another location in the house and see if this improves the bandwidth. Normally this will be next to the router that the Wi-Fi connects to. Walls will impact the bandwidth from your Wi-Fi
  3. Make sure that your bandwidth isn’t being consumed by other people in the household. Kids playing on the Xbox etc. Kick them off!
  4. Restarting the router by powering it off for 10 seconds and then powering back on again.
  • If you are using a device such as an iPhone, iPad or android device then use the app rather than a browser. These are proven to work better.
  • Log-in early to the match. The stream starts about 30-40 minutes before the match. Get the stream running nice and early so there’s time to sort out any problems well ahead of kick-off
  • If you get the “spinning wheel of death” then first reload the page (normally by pressing f5). If this fails to work then try a different browser; try clearing your cookies; try restarting the device you are watching on. Unfortunately, we do get reports of iFollow failing for a match without warning only to find that patience and continual attempts to connect do work in the end.

There is an FSA survey running on iFollow, please ensure that you give your feedback as they are challenging the EFL to provide an improved product. The survey is here

Finally, the Griffin Park Grapevine at https://griffinpark.org has been successfully helping fans on matchdays with their iFollow issues. Make sure you share your problems there for help from fellow fans to get you up and running.

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