Turf Wars: A History of London Football – 6/9/16

Pretty much every major football club boasts a book or two recording its history from formation until the present day. Given the growing number of statisticians and frustrated writers out there for whom this is a real labour of love, many of them are of a truly exceptional standard and boast a combination of deep and painstaking research, well chosen words that paint striking verbal pictures and startling photographs which bring so many previously half forgotten episodes back to life.

Given the size and stature of our club we Brentford fans have certainly been well served in this area and I doubt if there are many serious fans of the club who do not possess a copy of the unparalleled and inimitable 100 Years of Brentford, a true treasure and cornucopia of riches from start to finish.

The 125th Anniversary book was also a massively impressive work of art incorporating as it did so many wonderfully evocative press clippings from days of yore.

The 70s, 80s and 90s have all been celebrated recently with their own comprehensive Big Brentford Book and there is also a serviceable Who’s Who edition.

I am really not sure if there are many gaps remaining to be filled for Bees fans who have already been so well catered for.

I hope and expect that work has already started on an oral history celebrating Griffin Park our home for 112 years now and one that will be sorely missed when the long awaited and much anticipated Lionel Road stadium finally comes to fruition.

There has also been thought given to a Harry Curtis Years book commemorating the club’s glory days when the legendary Secretary/Manager took them from the depths of the Third Division to near the top of the First.

This would be my personal favourite and I am aware that Dave Lane, author of the two excellent Cult Bees and Legends interview books has been researching Harry Curtis and so far without success attempting to locate some of his descendants.

Hopefully this book will become a reality rather than a pipe dream as I never tire of being reminded of the times when the mighty Bees were a team to be feared and Arsenal in particular fell foul of us on many occasions in the few years leading up to the Second World War.

Maybe Mark Croxford will also be tempted to publish an updated Who’s Who book given his painstaking levels of research and knowledge and perhaps one day we will finally be treated to the long awaited and anticipated anthology of the writings of the much admired Middlesex Chronicle journalist George Sands who watched the Bees play over one thousand times without missing a match.

I make a point of seeking out other historical books that I feel have special merit and my efforts were certainly rewarded very recently.

Many years ago as a young child I read and relished David Prole’s Football in London and I have been waiting in vain ever since for it to be updated or replaced. It provided an indepth analysis and history of the main protagonists in the London football scene up until the mid 60s.

My eternal gratitude now goes to Steve Tongue who has used his experience and knowledge of the London football scene gained over many years as a leading football journalist to provide a well organised, fascinating and comprehensive history of all the London football clubs, amateur and professional alike.

I have long enjoyed and admired his erudite and pithy match reports in a variety of publications and if I recall correctly I was once a teammate of his on a dank and gloomy Sunday morning at Wormwood Scrubs many, many years ago when we both played for Brian Glanville’s Chelsea Casuals team.

Tongue has sensibly and cleverly divided the book into eras and writes about each club forensically and with humour and knowledge with a keen eye for spotting patterns and trends and, most impressively not for one moment does he let slip any evidence of personal bias or self interest. A casual reader of this book would have no idea about his long and deeply held passion for Leyton Orient.

The book is short in pages but long in information and has been beautifully produced with loving care by the admirable Pitch Publishing who have been responsible for so many exceptional sports books recently.

It is a real gem and sensibly priced at a mere £9.99. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to all students of London football and as far as I am concerned, it was well worth the wait.

Turf Wars: A History of London Football by Steve Tongue. Pitch Publishing. £9.99.

How Good Are We? – 1/9/16

There have been a lot of questions raised over the last few weeks about the relative strength of the Brentford squad and how well we are equipped to face the challenges that doubtless lie ahead in what is likely to be the strongest Championship in living memory given the quite ridiculous sums of money sloshing around and the size of the fees already invested in players by the likes of Newcastle, Aston VIlla, Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday.

How on earth can a Brentford team hamstrung by the fact that the club has almost the smallest attendances and lowest revenue in the division compete on a level playing field with its richer brethren?

Well the truth of course is that the playing field is far from level or even and the Bees quite simply have to do everything different, better and smarter if they are not to be left trailing in the wake of their opponents.

Their strategy is clear and uncompromising – buy cheap and sell dear and concentrate almost exclusively on signing talented young players from both home and abroad with development potential and when the time is right, sell them at the top of the market and start the entire process again.

So far this policy has worked like a dream and will continue to do so as long as we continue to recruit well and persuade players and their agents that Brentford is a perfect steppingstone club which will put young players in the spotlight and provide them with the framework in which to improve and shine before eventually moving on.

Given the vast sums being spent on transfers in the Championship and the undisputed fact that many clubs are recruiting better and smarter, it has become harder and harder for Brentford to maintain their competitive advantage and stay ahead. Barnsley in particular are using analytics very cleverly and signing some interesting players from all levels of the game.

Whenever asked I stated quite firmly that no judgements on this season’s activity and strength of squad should be made until 1st September once the Transfer Window had closed until next January.

So here we are in September and how well do I think we have done?

Pretty damn well is my verdict, particularly given the problems we faced, but I suspect it was a close run thing as matters went pretty much to the wire and could quite easily have gone differently, in which case we’d have had quite a different tale to tell today.

From the squad that finished last season we have lost all three loanees in Djuricin, Swift and Canos, Button and Bidwell made it clear that they would not extend their contracts and therefore needed to be sold and O’Connell departed for Shffield United.

Judge too remains on the long term injured list and it is doubtful if he will be seen much before Christmas and a difficult decision will need to be made about him in January given that his contract ends next Summer.

Have we adequately replaced the players we have lost and perhaps even strengthened?

Button was a marvellously consistent goalkeeper but on early evidence Bentley is sublime and is surely earmarked for greater things. Hopefully we can get the tribunal with Southend sorted as soon as possible as I suspect that he will be in great demand perhaps as soon as January.

Bidwell was a mainstay of the team – Mr Reliable – but signing Rico Henry is a massive coup.

Injured he may be now but in Bentley and Henry we now possess two potential full international footballers, and I am not exaggerating when I say that. The fee for Henry is substantial and could reach eye watering proportions but we are likely to benefit greatly from his services before he leaves us at some point for a huge profit.

Our policy of protecting the future also paid dividends with Alfie Mawson whose move to Swansea for a fee of around £5 million, a sum that highlights the madhouse that football has become, has led to us benefiting from a sell-on clause reputed to be around 40%.

If that figure is accurate then Mawson, a youngster who never played a league game for us, has paid for Rico Henry. Good business indeed!

Kaikai finally arrived yesterday not without some mishaps and he has the potential to replace Canos whose pace, cutting edge and enthusiasm have been sorely missed.

Since last season ended the Bees have signed four top quality players from the Third Division in Bentley, Egan, Sawyers and Henry, indeed with the exception of Gillingham’s Bradley Dack, probably the best players in that division.

Two talented Premier League quality  loanees in Elder and Kaikai complete our recruitment which has been totally exceptional and well in line with the club’s ethos.

Analyst Ted Knutson recently highlighted Henry as the top prospect in the lower leagues and also mentioned Colin and Barbet as likely Premier League players in the making and the Bees now have a whole raft of promising young players whose value can only appreciate as they continue to improve.

Therevis also much talent bubbling under in the newly formed B team who can fill in if necessary.

The other exceptional news was that of Ryan Woods extending his contract for four more years  and that means that the majority of their best players are now on long contracts and the club’s position is therefore protected for the midterm.

Of course we could have hoped for more, another striker or winger, or that long awaited tough tackling defensive midfielder but the club has to work within its limitations and I believe that we are now well equipped to face the challenge of the Championship with equanimity and we should be one of the division’s better teams.

 I expect further tweeking to the squad in January by which time we should know far more about whether Josh McEachran can establish himself, if KK’s excellent late season form was a flash in the pan and if Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann can provide Hogan with the support he needs.

Kaikai will score goals but Sawyers and Macleod will also need to step up to the plate and score regularly.

We will have bad days too but in essence we have put together a decent squad that should ensure that we are defensively sound, competitive, attractive and good to watch.

Continue reading

Tippy-tappy Frustration! 20/8/16

I have been thinking about picking and choosing my away games this season given my other commitments and a determination to have a bit of a life outside Brentford.

Unfortunately I allowed myself to be enticed by the allure of six points and two decent performances at home in the last week and took myself off to Rotherham.

Having watched the Bees play and manage to lose in all sorts of idiotic manners over the years, defeats on their own do not necessarily upset me as I am totally inured to them.

What matters to me so much more is the way we play and whether or not we deserve to get something out of a game.

My verdict on today’s 1-0 defeat at Rotherham is short and not very sweet.

We lost to probably the worst team in the Championship, assuming of course that our last two decent performances were not a mere flash in the pan.

Rotherham were limited, lacked flair or much ability on the ball but played within their limitations, got the ball forward as quickly as they could and tackled and pressed like demons. They were happy to let us play unhindered in our own half but formed two solid banks of four that we struggled to penetrate.

Most of their chances came from our giving the ball away or over elaborating, most noticeably when Vibe dithered just outside our box, gave the ball away to Brown and was only rescued by a stupendous save by Bentley. The goal came when a simple through ball caught us square and appealing in vain for offside as Ward ran through to score easily. Close but it appeared just onside to me. There looked as if there had been a foul on Hogan as the move developed but nothing was given.

They always tried to get the ball into the area quickly, something we could learn from.

Brentford started poorly and got worse and took nearly twenty minutes to put together a move of any note but one that should have counted when Colin was put away and his low centre was stabbed inches wide by Vibe who missed a gilt edged chance. From time to time we clicked and moved the ball with menace and Sawyers almost set up Hogan but the ball slipped away from his feet directly in front of goal.

We played the ball carefully and slowly across the back four going forwards and then back with monotonous regularity with Hogan making a series of runs that were ignored and the ball would eventually be given away.

Macleod and Sawyers ran into blind alleys and Wood and Yennaris, industrious as they were, showed little incision.

In short we got nowhere very, very slowly.

Egan did have two headers from corners, one easily saved and he then didn’t get enough on the ball from a great position in front of goal.

The second half meandered on just like the first. Rotherham were happy to sit back content with their lead and confident that we would not hurt them. We totally dominated possession as the stats will show but rarely broke them down.

Hogan’s snap shot hit the keeper and he arched backwards to head inches wide. Late substitute Ledesma was more competent than most and had a last minute shot pushed wide by the seriously underworked Lee Camp.

Bentley too had nothing to do after the break except start us up on yet another attack doomed to go nowhere.

Possession for possession’s sake is no use to anyone and we lacked directness, pace and it has to be said, the bravery to try something different.

I can barely remember any Brentford player trying to beat a man and we always tried to play one pass too many on the edge of the box. Our crossing was execrable, too often hitting the first man.

You have to beat the likes of Rotherham if you are to achieve anything in this league and we can’t even suggest that, as has been the case in previous matches, that they tried to kick us off the pitch because they didn’t.

They were certainly more incisive and determined in the challenge but that was fair enough.

We were simply competent, average and ineffectual and everyone was waiting for someone else to take responsibility and make something happen.

We failed to impose ourselves and we have thrown away three points that were there for the taking.

Talk of challenging for the top six is a mere chimera. Expectations need to be managed and not unrealistically raised. On today’s form we will do well to avoid the bottom half.

Defensively we were OK but wasteful in possession when challenged. Colin was particularly guilty and gave the ball away carelessly and we missed Barbet’s peerless ability to change the direction of the play with a forty yard pass. Elder too needed to get forward more as he offered little threat.

The midfield were all much of a muchness. Competent but uninspired and Sawyers soon drifted out of the game. Macleod too did little to stand out and Vibe frustrated on the right wing, constantly checking back and losing possession. Woods too for all his effort and energy never hurt the opposition neither did Saunders nor McEachran when they came on.

Hogan ran into too many blind alleys and as usual lacked support but was our only real goal threat.

Hofmann was left off the bench today hopefully a hint that will be taken by him and his agent.

At least the powers that be can be under no illusions regarding what we are lacking. Pace, incision and something a little bit out of the ordinary.

We are far too predictable and are solid, well organised, technically competent but are entirely lacking in imagination, originality, pace and directness. A few more bodies in the area would also be very welcome.

You have to make something happen to succeed and today we were far too passive, blunt and uninspired.

Creativity costs money and I think that we are going to have to pull a few rabbits out of the hat before the end of the Transfer Window if this is not to be a long and frustrating first half of the season but are we able to spend money, or indeed should we given our finances? That is a conundrum for the owner.

Despite the negative tenet of my comments a fit Alan Judge or Sergi Canos would go a long way towards making us a decent team. I suspect though that we will have to hope in vain and make do for the most part with what we have.

So today provided more questions than answers but nothing that wasn’t entirely clear before we travelled.

We are a decent, honest and respectable Championship team and for this I rejoice. Are we able, capable or willing to take that next step to improve the squad, address our weaknesses and move into the next level?

Watch this space.

Book Signing – 13/08/16

Just to give you all some advance warning that I expect there to be a book signing in the BFC Superstore before the Sheffield Wednesday game in a fortnight’s time on 27th August.

I have spoken to Peter Gilham and he’s doing his best to get me a squad player uninvolved in that game to come and sign copies of Growing Pains with me.

I will post more details as and when I have them.

The book is selling well and is available on Amazon as well as in the Superstore. Thanks to everyone who has purchased it and I hope that more of you will check it out.

As for my next project, I have met Bob Booker several times now and have just finished the first chapter of his forthcoming biography which should be out this time next year.

He is a lovely guy and he has regaled me with so many stories that hopefully will find their way into the book.

So far I’ve interviewed Tommy Baldwin, Pat Kruse and Paul Brooker about him with lots more former players to come.

This explains why my blog has dried up. Firstly I’m spending a lot of time researching and writing the Bob Booker book and also I really don’t want to bore you all by simply repeating myself.

We all know and appreciate the difficult situation we face to compete on an equal footing in the Championship given our size and lack of financial resources and also rejoice in simply being in a league I never really expected us to reach.

I don’t see the point in reiterating this message week after week but will try and write the odd article if people want and if time permits.

Thank you.

 

 

Tony Craig – An Appreciation – 30/7/16

Here is an article I wrote this time last year when our former hero Tony Craig left us to return to his first love, Millwall.

Give that the Bees travel to the New Den today to pay homage to TC and play against The Lions in his testimonial match I hope nobody minds my putting this blog up again as nothing has really changed in the year since I wrote it and we still feel exactly the same about Tony Craig. He gave us everything and we are totally indebted to him for what he did for us.

There was a universal reaction amongst all Brentford supporters to the news that broke yesterday that captain and inspiration Tony Craig had left the club and returned for yet another spell – his fourth including an earlier loan, to Millwall where he will become team captain. It was simply one of thanks and gratitude to TC for the three years of exceptional service he gave us, as well as pleasure and delight that he will now be given the opportunity to play every week, a privilege that would surely have been denied him if he had remained at Griffin Park.

Tony made his reputation at Millwall as a tough and committed central defender or left back and he led his team to promotion to the Championship. His arrival at Griffin Park in the summer of 2012 for a fee reputed to be around one hundred and fifty thousand pounds was seen as a real coup for the club and Uwe Rösler soon recognised his leadership ability and named him as captain. Tony played a prominent part in our success over the past three years. He was a real and visible presence on the field – you knew that he was in charge and he set a wonderful example as he never knew when he was beaten.

I will always remember him in the prematch huddle, with jaw set, eyes blazing and with his head bobbing up and down like a metronome as he exhorted his team mates to greater efforts and forcefully reminded them of their personal responsibilities. He made it perfectly clear who was in charge on the pitch and what winning the match meant to the club. Woe betide anyone caught shirking or falling short in his task.

Once the whistle went he was a human dynamo and set a massive personal example. He never gave up and that long left leg would sneak out to save the day when all otherwise looked lost. Not the tallest of defenders, he timed his leaps well and won more than his fair share of aerial challenges. Most importantly, he read the game brilliantly and could anticipate potential danger and snuff it out before any serious damage occurred. He was indestructible and was rarely injured and shrugged off fearsome assaults that left him covered in blood or cinder rash and would have resulted in lesser men leaving the field. He was our bionic man and a total inspiration.

No wonder that his three seasons saw the club rise to almost unprecedented heights of achievement with a promotion and two appearances in the playoffs to add to his already impressive CV. This was no accident and TC played a massive part in ensuring our promotion to the Championship and his central defensive partnership with either Harlee Dean and James Tarkowski was mean and effective.

Tony had played previously in the Championship with Millwall and initially he made a seamless transition to the higher level. He also embraced the club’s new found patient and short passing approach to the game and demonstrated calmness and a previously unsuspected and unseen skill on the ball. His left-footedness provided a much needed balance to the back four and he changed the direction of our attack by pinging any number of accurate long range passes to an appreciative and generally unmarked Jota or Odubajo on the right wing.

Tony started last season well and was consistent and competent and fully earned his contract extension. He made an inspirational return to his old stamping ground where he received a rapturous welcome from the otherwise subdued Millwall fans and he stood up bravely and brilliantly to Millwall’s aerial bombardment and helped steady the ship and cement our victory after we had conceded two quick goals.

However as the season progressed a few chinks began to appear in Tony’s armour as he came up against a seemingly never-ending series of canny, strong and experienced strikers. He struggled and came out second best in his personal battles against exceptionally talented players like Danny Graham, Grant Holt, Rudy Gestede and Daryl Murphy, looked vulnerable to balls played over the top which forced him to turn and Mark Warburton began to rotate his three central defenders as he sought to establish his best pairing. Tony finally lost his place and fittingly made his last appearance for the club in a thrilling victory over eventual Champions, AFC Bournemouth before being forced to settle for a cheerleader’s role on the bench.

This was no place for such a legend and with two new central defenders already having arrived at the club in the last couple of weeks, it was obviously best for all concerned that he was allowed to move on and it remains to be seen whether similar experienced players like Alan McCormack, Sam Saunders and Jonathan Douglas, like Craig, mainstays of the promotion team, decide to remain at the club and fight for the opportunity to play against increasingly strong competition, or also recognise that their time has time and that our levels of success and progress have overtaken them.

Tony’s disciplinary record was also good although he saw red three times during his spell at the club. An assistant referee bizarrely concluded that he had struck Dave Kitson at a crucial stage in that momentous match at Sheffield United, a decision endorsed by our old friend Keith Stroud. Despite video evidence that seemed to exonerate him, Craig received a devastating three match ban and missed the last two league matches as well as the first playoff game against Swindon. Had he been on the pitch I wonder whether we might have got over the line without recourse to the dreaded playoffs and I am certain that he would have had something to say about Marcello Trotta’s fateful decision to take that penalty kick against Doncaster Rovers!

He took one for the team with a last man red card card against Carlisle and then fell foul of Mad Madley when he got on the wrong side of Clayton Donaldson and compounded his error by clutching at his former colleague, conceding a penalty kick and earning an early bath.

The most amazing statistic about Tony is that he never scored – and barely looked like doing so in his three seasons at the club. He came the closest when his memorable rasping long-range effort was brilliantly saved by the Peterborough keeper and his header from a corner against Leyton Orient was blocked on the line. He was also clumsily pulled down by Adam Barrett, earning us a spot kick against Gillingham, otherwise his efforts were invariably high, wide and not very handsome.

He will best be remembered for his heroic defending against Oldham Athletic in Mark Warburton’s first match as manager when a swift breakaway left him alone facing five opponents as they bore down on the home goal, but Tony was calmness personified and saved the day against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Then there was his wide-eyed celebration in front of a jubilant Ealing Road terrace after scoring a perfectly taken and utterly crucial penalty kick thrashed high into the roof of the net in the Swindon playoff second leg shootout, a feat he repeated in a less frenetic atmosphere last season at Dagenham & Redbridge!

We forgave him for his lack of prowess and threat in front of the opposition goal, we even overlooked the three own goals he scored in his first season at the club, one of them a perfectly placed unstoppable header from a corner which arched beyond the reach of the helpless Simon Moore and gifted Hartlepool an unlikely last minute equaliser at Griffin Park.

Tony Craig epitomises all that is good about professional football. He gave us everything throughout his three years at the club and inspired his team mates to greater heights of achievement. He has returned to his first love and I suspect that he will lead Millwall to promotion – and I will celebrate and raise a glass to him if he does so.

Tony Craig will live long in our memory and I thank him and wish him nothing but joy and success in the future.

 

Thanks Tim! – 26/7/16

Thanks to Tim Street for this more than generous article and review of my new book, Growing Pains which he published on Get West London yesterday.

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/sport/football/brentford-2015-16-new-book-11658681

I am glad that he enjoyed it and hope that you all will too and the book can be found in the BFC Superstore as well as on Amazon at

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Pains-Brentford-2015-Season/dp/1910515159/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468052450&sr=8-1&keywords=greville+waterman

I had the pleasure of meeting Rebel Bee on Saturday before the Kaiserslautern match and a jolly fine and interesting chap he turned out to be too. We had a good chat about all things Brentford and it was great, finally, to be able to put a face to a name – or even a pen name in his case! Hopefully I can get together with lots of other readers of this blog at some point during what is certain to be an exciting, if stressful season.

I say stressful as I still find it hard to accept or even believe that the Little Old Brentford that we all knew so well over so many years has transformed itself into a well-run, groundbreaking and innovative club that has set the standard and benchmark for others to follow and is more than holding its own in the Championship, one of the toughest leagues in Europe.

Tonight is simply one more step on the journey as we prepare ourselves to meet the challenge of Huddersfield on Saturday week and I will be interested to see how we shape up against a good footballing team in Peterborough.

On the face of it not the most attractive or enticing of opponents and I suspect that proposed matches against more vaunted and higher ranked opposition fell through at the last minute. So the Posh it is and anyway, preseason friendlies are all about ourselves rather than the opposition and I am really looking forward to tonight’s action.

Oh, in case anyone asks – yes, I do like the new shirts – very nostalgic and once they do something about the illegible numbers I will be more than happy.

See you there!

Hot Stuff At Griffin Park – 24/7/16

The new season is now only two weeks away and it was clear from yesterday’s friendly against tough and skilful foreign opposition in Kaiserslautern that the squad is progressing in terms of fitness, structure and organisation although there is still much work to be done.

The heat was on in more ways than one, given the scorching weather conditions which necessitated regular water breaks and perhaps explained why the Bees abandoned their normal pressing game and funnelled back rather than challenging the opposition deep in their own half.

The match was apparently arranged a part of the Philipp Hofmann transfer deal a year ago and you would have hoped that the German fans held fond memories of their former hero, but such was not the case if the opinions of the Kaiserslautern supporters who I canvassed on my way into the stadium are to be trusted.

Paraphrasing their comments in order to protect the guilty, it would be fair to say that he is not missed by them in the least and we were roundly thanked for taking him off their hands. The Hoff certainly looks the part this season in terms of his overall fitness and we can only hope that he does finally show us what he is capable of!

I really see little point in providing a long and detailed match report but, in brief, the first half was evenly matched but cautious as both teams felt each other out. The Bees went ahead with a comic cuts headed own goal from a Macleod corner but were soon pegged back when we were caught square at the back and short of numbers. Lasse Vibe and Ryan Woods came close late on but a draw was the fairest result.

What is more important is how we performed and there was much to be pleased about as well as a few warning bells jangling in the background.

This was the first sight for most of us of Daniel Bentley and he looked calm and confident in everything he did in terms of shot stopping and defensive organisation. He looked slightly lost and bemused, though, at the way we expect our keeper to distribute the ball – quickly and accurately and to throw the ball short at every opportunity and frankly, he struggled to do so. He sold Barbet horribly short early on with a kicked clearance and we were fortunate to survive the defensive mess that followed. I have no qualms about him though and he will prove to be an excellent successor to the departed Button.

Colin was his normal bubbly and effusive self, calm in defence and rampaging forward at every opportunity. He cost us serious money (for us at least) but at some point we will sell him for a massive fee. Dean and Egan were solid and unspectacular but looked worried when clever opponents ran at them. Tom Field was given a much-needed rest and Barbet filled in adequately at left back but did enough to convince us that this is not his preferred or best position. Chris Mepham came on towards the end and is clearly going to be a future first teamer, as will Tom Field.

Alan McCormack and Josh McEachran played in the holding role and left me totally unconvinced. Macca ratted around, left his mark, both physical and verbal on the opposition and made one brilliantly forceful forward run that ended with him shooting at the keeper when he should have scored but we desperately need better. Josh looked confident on the ball and pinged his passes sharply and with accuracy but he reacts rather than initiates, was far too easily knocked off the ball and lacked the strength to win it back.

Ryan Woods showed us how it should be done when he came on in the second half. Demanding the ball at every opportunity and driving us forward by sheer force of character as well as ability. He hammered a long-ranger inches over and his passing was crisp and accurate and always positive. Nico Yennaris is nursing a knock and at present I see him and Woods starting and I fear for Josh as he has not shown the leadership we require. I might be judging him harshly given his two serious injuries but we need to see far more from him. Unless we bring in a Kevin McDonald type of player we run the risk of being overrun from time to time. He will prove to be a decent signing for Fulham and again clearly demonstrates how we are outgunned financially as I am quite certain that we also expressed an interest in him.

There was much to admire in midfield where both Lewis Macleod and Romaine Sawyers drifted in and out of the game but from time to time clearly demonstrated their massive ability both on the ball and in dribbling past opponents. Macleod might well thrive in a more central role but he is a pure match winner and a certain starter. Sam Saunders did what Sam does, show calmness and quality on the ball but interestingly enough, gave up his set-piece duties to Macleod and Sawyers.

Scott Hogan has been nursing an ankle injury and played 45 minutes. he got into good positions and always found space in and around the box. If he gets the correct service he will score goals, it is as simple as that. Lasse Vibe is fit, sharp and raring to go and it is a real shame that we will lose him for the duration of the Olympics.

Hofmann came on against his old team mates and ambled around in the sunshine like a geriatric out for a brief stroll and did nothing to convince us of his potential worth to us.

We fielded a trialist in Manny Ledesma, an experienced Argentine winger with Championship experience at Middlesbrough and Rotherham. He has also played under Dean Smith at Walsall. It is unfair to judge someone on so brief an acquaintance and he showed some clever touches but I would hope that we are not in the market for a 28 year old journeyman.

A decent workout then which clearly showed that we have a more than decent young squad that still has gaps to fill at left back, defensive midfield, on the wing and up front. I am sure that there will be reinforcements coming in shortly and hopefully of the requisite standard and fitting the Brentford trademark in terms of being young, talented and with the potential to improve.

As always the first visit to Griffin Park for the new season was one to savour and the new season will, I am quite sure, also be one to relish.

Growing Pains – a four hundred page monster that covers all of the events both on and off the field from last season in my words and also those of the likes of Matthew Benham, Cliff Crown, Phil Giles, Billy Reeves and Phil Parry is now available in the BFC Superstore and via Amazon at

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Growing-Pains-Brentford-2015-Season/dp/1910515159/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468052450&sr=8-1&keywords=greville+waterman

Please ignore what it says on Amazon – the book is available and in stock!

There is also an ebook version available for download to Kindle.