This is getting to be a habit for the Bees. Thumping London rivals from the top six in the division, that is.
For the second consecutive weekend, highflyers were despatched comprehensively as Thomas Frank’s first-team pool of players snaffled three points to distance themselves further from the relegation zone lurking down below. Oh joy – no wonder the jubilant crowd at the Community Stadium on Saturday seemed so reluctant to go home.
West Ham, the team I supported in my youth, has thrived under the managership of David Moyes, even if the glory days of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst are long gone. Today the Hammers are in sixth place in the Premier League and competing in Europe, with dreams of a Champions League place yet to fade and die.
But it’s a fickle old game, football, with many a hiccup on the way to success and equally so on the road to failure.
Witness from the kick-off on Saturday, when the mischievous Brentford faithful gave visiting centre-back Kurt Zouma a torrid time whenever he touched the ball. Zouma, you may recall, had made the national news bulletins when appearing to confuse a pet cat with a training football. What a catastrophe, one that Brentford’s wittier patrons were anxious to ensure was not forgotten.
When injury determined that after 29 minutes he had to be withdrawn from the fray to be replaced by Issa Diop, he might well have felt some relief to escape the taunts as well as frustration at possibly missing his club’s vital Europa League quarter-final clash with Lyon this week.
The Bees had the visitors on their collective back foot from the start. Brian Mbeumo unleashed a fizzer of a shot that was turned away by Lucasz Fabianski at full stretch – one of Bryan’s several might-have-been moments in the first half – and Christian Eriksen’s artful free kick lacked the venom to trouble the keeper.
At the other end, David Raya was rarely exerted by a visiting attack in which hotshot Michail Antonio seemed out of sorts. But with Brentford’s chances lacking execution, the reward of League points remained no more than a promise
That changed just three minutes after the interval, when the Old Firm of Mbeumo and Ivan Toney produced the goods that have been characteristic of their partnership in this first Premier season after years of trying. A throw-in that found Toney saw him provide a cultured flick for Mbeumo to run on to and rifle a low drive past Fabianski.
Missing from the scoresheet for far too long, the Frenchman celebrated with a mixture of elation and relief. Much back-slapping from other team members was accompanied by Eriksen’s supportive demonstration of delight.
After 63 minutes the Old Firm proved it really was back in business when Rico Henry’s long, high cross was volleyed back into the goalmouth by Mbeumo and there was Toney to head powerfully home.
West Ham, with the volume of ‘Forever Blowing Bubbles’ increased encouragingly by their supporters, pulled up their socks and set out to rectify the situation. Said Benrahma, fondly remembered from his time at Brentford, was substituted for Manuel Lanzini to weave his magic (‘Said wants to come home’ sang the Bees’ crowd), but it wasn’t enough.
Eriksen’s dominance of the Brentford midfield, Kristoffer Ajer’s immaculate performance and stand-in skipper Christian Nørgaard’s authority throughout, plus a defence that grows in stature with every game – unwell captain Pontus Jansson’s absence was barely noticed by Frank’s revised jigsaw of a back four – stood out in a team oozing confidence as it saw off the Hammers for the second time in the season.
Next up, Watford away from home, whose automatic promotion from the Championship has disappeared from sight, to be replaced by a real and present danger of relegation for the Hornets.
Unlike many of Chelsea’s snooty supporters the previous week, most West Ham fans stayed loyally until the bitter end of the match. Good for them, although their choral contribution of ‘Blowing Bubbles’ had achieved little.
‘The bubbles burst,’ said my mate Charlie.
Brentford: Raya; Ajer (substitute Roerslev 83), Zanka, Pinnock, Henry (sub Roerslev 83); Janelt, (sub Jensen 69), Ericksen, Nørgaard; Mbeumo (sub Canós 78); Toney, Wissa.
West Ham: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Zouma (sub Diop 29), Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Luzini (sub Benrahma 57), Formals’; Antonio (sub Viasic 66).
This report appeared first on the Chiswick Calendar website.
The dust is still settling over Stamford Bridge and a memorable Brentford victory that began for us in Andalucía just before four o’clock local time, when we discovered a television service that would bring the West London Premier League match to our front door. Well, into our holiday sitting room actually, a facility unavailable to loyal Bees fans in the UK with no match tickets and more blind faith than belief that anything could be gained from the season’s third meeting with the champions of Europe.
With the sun in southern Spain shining as brightly, but more warmly, than in West London, we were pleased to see Brentford begin in spirited fashion. Chelsea would soon shift up a gear or two, we reasoned, but in the meantime, it was good to see Ivan Toney coming close with two chances of scoring.
David Raya, fresh from his international debut performances with Spain, saved with finger-tip precision a goal-bound effort, but that was the best of it where Chelsea were concerned. And slowly it dawned on us armchair spectators that the home side was becoming unsettled by Brentford’s fluidity in general and, in particular, the commanding presence of Christian Eriksen.
History may well show the opportune signing of a player whose cardiac arrest when playing for Denmark last June saw him collapse and to all intents and purposes die on the pitch – only temporarily, thank heavens – was the key that unlocked Brentford’s fortunes like no other.
It certainly looked that way to the handful of ex-pat devotees more than a thousand miles away witnessing a remarkable dismantling of a star-studded Chelsea side, even if the real drama of the afternoon did not begin until just a few minutes into the second half.
That was when centre-back Antonio Rüdiger seized upon the ball some thirty yards from the Brentford goal and thundered a shot that caught Raya inches short with his despairing dive and cannoned from an upright into the goal. Chelsea’s relief was palpable, but also as short as the blinking of an eye.
Within ninety seconds, give or take a few, Bryan Mbeumo set up Vitaly Janelt to burst clear and beat goalkeeper Edouard Mendy handsomely. And a bemused Chelsea were still scratching their heads four minutes later when Mbeumo and Eriksen broke at pace from their own half for Bryan to cross into the Dane’s path, enabling the team’s new goal-machine – three goals in as many games, two of them internationals – to deliver a fine chip and put the Bees ahead.
This was not a script with which Brentford fans were over-familiar. Nor the home faithful, whose relative silence further emphasised the visitors’ mounting vocal contribution in determination to remove from memory the two defeats by Chelsea already this term. This time the provider was Toney, whose pass six minutes later enabled Janelt once again to place the ball beyond Mendy’s reach.
Three goals in ten minutes! And still Brentford were not finished delivering abject frustration to their hosts, with substitute Yoane Wissa making space following a goalmouth scramble to fire a low shot into the far corner of Mendy’s net – his first touch of the game.
At the final whistle the visiting fans erupted as if the World Cup was suddenly theirs. That’s the Brentford way.
In Estepona, two similarly jubilant supporters danced a jig in the sitting room and agreed that the home game against West Ham next weekend could not come soon enough for we returning wanderers.
My mate Charlie, sadly not with us but following the action on Bees Player audio back in Chiswick, had to make do with messages expressing our admiration of the entire team that had written their names into the club’s list of legends.
‘Vamos! Si se pueden las Bees,’ tweeted Charlie.
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Rüdiger, Alonso (substitute James 55); Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Kanté (sub Lakuku 65); Ziyech, Havertz, Werner (sub Kovačić 64).
Brentford: Raya; Roerslev, Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry (sub Canós 88); Eriksen, Nørgaard, Janelt, (sub Jensen 82); Mbeumo (sub Wissa 85), Toney.
This report appeared first on the Chiswick Calendar website.
The Christian Eriksen saga continues. The Dane who has revolutionised Brentford’s midfield worked the magic he’s produced in every game since arriving in February amid a flurry of national publicity, this time to torpedo the ambitions of the team for which he memorably played so effectively during his previous professional engagement in England.
Spurs remember him well. So do the north London fans who welcomed him to the Community Stadium like a long-lost brother. As for his teammates and the Bees’ supporters, they are aware that without Eriksen’s massive contribution to the side, it is unlikely they would be sitting snugly in eleventh place in the Premier League as the season draws to a close.
Will he stay? Will a major club snaffle his talent once the season’s contract expires? That’s a conundrum to be addressed at a later date. In the meantime, let’s appreciate his skills – often accompanied by sharp intakes of our own breath – while we can.
Spurs arrived from Tottenham in search of three more points towards a total that would guarantee them Champions League football next season. Brentford set out to be as competitive as a makeshift side would allow.
No Nørgaard. No Pinnock, No Ajer? Injuries to key members of defence and midfield plus the similarly afflicted all-rounder Canós, left so many holes in the team-sheet that it was likely to resemble a colander when called into action.
But no, Brentford went off like a collective rocket. Bryan Mbeumo skewed a shot wide within minutes of the start and an Ivan Toney header rebounded from a post to the scrambling consternation of keeper Hugo Lloris. A resolute Tottenham defence and equally so Lloris dealt with further Bees’ chances, but the traffic was mostly one-way, with Toney roaming in the constant company of a centre-back.
At the other end, David Raya was largely untroubled, a situation that persisted throughout despite the visiting strike pairing of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min being a lethal combination when it’s their day. But this wasn’t that day and the foraging of Toney and Mbeumo produced enough penetration to suggest they are the Bees’ knees in this department.
Having had the best of the first half, Brentford emerged after the interval to discover a reinvigorated opposition. What sage advice was delivered by coach Antonio Conte to supplement the slices of lemon we’ll never know, but it seemed to do the trick. Their passing was crisper and play overall more creative, although the front three – Dejan Kulusevski completed the trio, but was just as ineffective – still struggled to strike with anything more than the potency of a dead match.
Trying long distance pot shots was also unsuccessful, with several speculative attempts flying high, wide and far-from-handsomely into touch as intermittent sunshine painted the proceedings prettily.
Eriksen was still the best player on the park and unleashed an on-the-run shot that Lloris tipped away for a corner. And slowly Brentford, aided by the substitution of Yoane Wissa and Josh Dasilva for the wearying legs of Saman Ghoddos and Mathias Jensen, re-established their grip on the game.
Kane almost pulled the points out of the fire for the visitors with a spectacular overhead scissors-kick that Raya anxiously watched flash across the face of his goal, but the closest last-gasp match-clincher was left to Toney, who connected with another Eriksen gem of a flighted ball only to see his header bounce clear from an upright.
Thomas Frank’s obvious delight at the final whistle was understandable – in the circumstances, forcing a draw with the fifth team in the League table ranks up there with the recent dismissal of Chelsea and a definitive victory over West Ham.
Some game, some performance from all concerned, but a shame about the two points that went astray, I said to my mate Charlie.
‘Ah, but who gets all the glory?’ crowed a gleeful Charlie.
Brentford: Raya; Ghoddos (substitute Wissa 78), Roerslev , Jansson, Bech Sørensen, Henry; Jensen (sub Dasilva 78), Janelt, Ericksen; Mbeumo ; Toney.
Tottenham: Lloris; Romero, Dier, Davies; Emerson Royal (sub Lucas Moura 86), Bentancur, Højbjerg, R Sessegnon (sub D Sánchez 74); Kulusevski; Son Heung-Min, Kane.
Pictures courtesy of Mike Sullivan
To try to identify as many people as we could amidst partners and children we turned to Paul Stedman who was the co-ordinator of the BIAS Stadium Action Group from 2001 -2003, the leader of the ABeeC Party in 2002 and the Chairman of BIAS from 2002-3. Here’s his guide:
‘First on the left = Caleb Johnstone-Cowan (he never had a formal role, but he was an early “evangelist” about this triangle of land being suitable for a stadium and would bang on a lot about on messageboards etc);
2nd left = Paul Brownscombe (ABeeC candidate – Cranford);
4th left (at the front) = Sacha Syed (ABeeC – Heston Central)
6th left = Steve Cowan (ABeeC party agent)
7th left = Joanne Swell (ABeeC – Heston West)
9th left = Dave Minckley (at the back with blue BFC tracksuit top) (BIAS secretary)
11th left = Dave Bond (with baseball cap) – ex Mayor of Ealing
15th left = John McGlashan ( first chair of BU and a bit of legend in my book)
16th left = yours truly
19th left = Jon Bishop (ABeeC – Hounslow South)
20th left = Phil Marchant (ABeeC – Hounslow West)’
Greetings to all fellow Bees from Norway!
What a time to be a Bee! Going into the season with the ambition of having fun while it lasts (and a slight hope of staying up of course) I think it’s now safe to say that this season has been massively successful. Despite injury issues to key players (such as David Raya and Kristoffer Ajer) in a relatively small squad, we have achieved some fantastic results and collected an impressive amount of wins in our first Premier League season. This team, this group of players have shown great courage and togetherness throughout the season, and despite a period of poor form (pointwise) they never gave up but kept going and believed in themselves. Heads, motivation and belief can easily drop when you seem to be out of luck for several games running, letting in sloppy goals and lacking the decisive final touch yourself, but that never happened to us. This is due to both the players, and to Thomas Frank and the coaching staff of course. It has been a pleasure to watch Thomas Frank’s pre- and post-match comments. Always opmitistic, always protective of the players, always respectful of the opponents and always with one eye on the next game. Being a Bees fan since mid 90’s I still cannot believe that we are in the Premier League! It’s not that long ago since we had Terry Butcher in the dugout..
As an overseas fan I have taken great pleasure in watching all our matches on Norwegian telly this season. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to travel since pre-pandemic and have yet to see the new stadium. I know I speak for all Norwegian Bees when I say we can’t wait to visit in May for the final match of the season!
For those of you that do not know, our Norwegian branch was founded in 2002 and we have arranged trips to Brentford for our members every year since 2003 (with 2020 and 2021 as the only exceptions). On these trips we have been fortunate to be granted access to the training ground to meet up with the players and staff, and present our Player of the season award as well. We cross our fingers and hope to carry on with this tradition for years to come.
We are currently about 100 paying members of the Norwegian supporter club and 15 of us will attend the Leeds match thanks to the club and Bees United helping us with match tickets. A 15 % turnout isn’t bad! We look forward to finally visiting again, both to see our beloved Bees play in the fantastic new stadium (even though we miss Griffin Park enormously..) and not at least to team up with you fellow Bees fans! So if you see us (most likely in a pub) I hope you will stop by for a chat and a laugh.
Take care, stay safe, see you all in May and COYBs!
founder and leader of Brentford FC Supporters Club of Norway
There has been a lot of rumbling and moaning during the season from Brentford fans about referees and how in their opinion the Bees more often than not seem to be on the wrong side of refereeing decisions which invariably seem to favour the so-called “big clubs.”
After all, the arguments go, what else can we expect as Premier League new boys? Referees always seem to favour the big boys and can often be seen, figuratively at least, arm in arm with big name stars, exchanging smiles and pleasantries and calling them by their first name. It’s a cosy old boys club and unless we survive for a few seasons we cannot expect anything different – and given that we seem to be getting the short straw more often than not, how can we be expected to survive with one hand seemingly tied behind our back?
As for VAR, nobody really seems to understand exactly how it works and when it should be brought into play and even when it is used some of the actual decisions seem to beggar belief demonstrating a total lack of consistency in how similar incidents are judged.
There have been many controversial incidents so far this season involving the Bees ranging from the VAR non-intervention when Toney appeared to be brought down in the penalty area against Chelsea, the overturned Wolves red card, the blatant penalty for handball against Crystal Palace not being awarded and Josh Dasilva’s red card against Newcastle, awarded by VAR after the referee initially gave us the free kick, to name but a few.
The Leicester game brought yet another example when our bête noire, James Maddison, so reviled over the years by Brentford fans, was apparently up to his old tricks yet again, contriving to earn a free kick in a dangerous position and then, to add insult to injury, bending the ball unstoppably over the non-jumping Brentford wall from where it nestled in the roof of the net.
A glorious and well-worked goal from a Leicester point of view with Maddison putting his body between the vainly pursuing Mathias Jensen and the ball, slowing his run to initiate contact from the hapless Brentford midfielder and then falling to the ground like a pricked balloon in order to draw the foul.
Brentford fans were nowhere near as generous in their verdict and the incident has been dissected forensically on social media and in chat rooms with the overwhelming majority of them accusing Maddison of cheating and diving, in fact of being guilty of the foul himself by jumping into Jensen and therefore conning the referee, who was only too happy to collude with him.
Of course, there is an element of sour grapes given the involvement of Maddison who has a lot of previous with us and invariably and infuriatingly seems to come out on top against Brentford, and is quick to remind us of the fact, plus of course the fact that his actions led directly to a goal.
So where does the truth lie? Do the fans of every other club feel exactly the same as us?
Of course they do. Newcastle in particular seemed extremely harshly dealt with in their narrow defeat at Chelsea resulting in one of their disgruntled players, Isaac Hayden, being up before the beaks after tweeting “some performance from the boys against 12 men.” Perhaps he should have amended that to 13 as the VAR official was equally unhelpful.
I thought I would speak to a friend of mine, Anthony Biddulph, who is not only a fervent Brentford fan but also a referee who has officiated at Premier League Reserve and National Conference level. Surely I could expect an objective view from someone with his background, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Another side of the coin is the appalling and totally unacceptable abuse to which officials are subjected and a quick trawl of Google found references to Biddulph described as a “complete joke” by one frustrated manager!
Anthony was totally clear-cut in his opinion of the controversial incident at Leicester as a definite foul and “I would’ve given a free kick every day of the week for that.”
As far as the big teams being favoured over others he feels that “there certainly is unconscious bias there. It is fairly well proven by behavioural scientists that crowds affect referees and that they tend to favour the home side and the more vociferous the crowd, the more likely it is that the referee will be influenced, if only marginally, as was the case in the Bournemouth Playoff where I honestly think that the player and crowd reaction got us the penalty.”
A recent report published in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise journal interestingly highlighted that home team advantage throughout the Covid pandemic when matches were played behind closed doors was almost halved, thus highlighting how influential is the presence of supporters in terms of influencing refereeing decisions.
Biddulph also believes that most referees “are narcissistic in their behaviour and if they feel like they know players because they have refereed them many times before and enjoyed good banter with them they are more likely to be kindly disposed towards them than to an unknown quantity.”
In that regard former Brentford player and Brighton Assistant manager, Bob Booker once told me that he had a deliberate policy of finding out the referee’s first name and welcoming him by name and exchanging a few pleasant words before every game and that he felt it saved him from a lot of bookings and also gained his team a few decisions too!
There is much paranoia on social media, much of it fuelled by bile or perhaps excess consumption of alcohol or other substances and many accusations of bias against top referees which can be discounted but it is also obvious that referees are only human and make both honest mistakes and human errors, and are, if only subconsciously, influenced by external factors.
As Stuart James wrote recently in The Athletic: “But trying to put that, or any of these decisions, down to biased refereeing… the only people who are biased in all of this are people like you and me — the supporters.”