About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

PNE's future's bright Phil Brown's orange

Phil Brown is one of those marmite personalities so prevalent in football. Equal parts admirable for what he achieved with Hull and derisible for his attention grabbing antics. Thus I had mixed feelings when he was given the job at Preston, a club I will always have a lot of time for. Relegation last season was inevitable prior to his arrival at Deepdale and I was surprised to see PNE highly tipped to bounce back with promotion at the first attempt but this early season optimism has been justified with a fine run of wins.
I last saw a Brown team play when Hull travelled to Arsenal for an FA Cup Quarter Final tie in North London. Hull were first out of the blocks and took a deserved lead but with the Gunners there for the taking Brown ordered the Tigers to sit back and kill time. Inevitably this came back to haunt them as Arsenal won the game with two late but the match hit the headlines for the wrong reasons when Brown and his assistant Brian Horton got involved in a post match incident with non playing captain Cesc Fabregas. So Brown's fate was sealed in my eyes as a chancer looking for publicity to mask his shortcomings.
Horton was equally damned by association but his role in yesterday's match at that West London football theme park in Brentford was cast in a positive light many years ago as it was whilst he was manager of Manchester City that he signed current Bees manager Uwe Rosler. With Brentford also showing early season promise the afternoon offered the opportunity for an exciting Football League encounter. So when invited to join old friends at the game I needed little encouragement to pick this fixture over a schlep down Welling High Road to Maidenhead's game against the Wings.
It was many years since I had visited Griffin Park and I had forgotten what a good, if a little expensive, day out at the match it presents. The word of the day was convenience. I was able to jump on a bus at the end of my road for a short trip down the A4 where I would find a welcoming pub to get something to eat, down a few beers and take in the early TV game. The three pints of Fullers Red Fox went down a treat with the unsubtly branded Victory burger in the Lord Nelson, but I was left with my head in my hands at the abject display by the Gunners at Blackburn. The pub filled up nicely with home fans, all proudly wearing red and white striped shirts of various vintages, and so we moved onto the main event at Griffin Park.
A short walk to the ground felt like entering a time machine as the best aspects of pre Sky football were on display. There were emptying pubs on every corner of the ground as fans of both teams wandered up to the turnstiles, offered up the requisite in admission in cash then proceeded unmolested by stewards to take their seat or place on the terrace as they wished. Football as it was, football as it should be.
I lost the vote in our gang of three so we headed for the covered home end which felt comfortably full. The best aspect of Griffin Park is the way all four sides of the ground sit tightly next to the pitch so a crowd of just over six thousand produced a good atmosphere for a suitably competitive game.
The scoreline of 3-1 slightly flattered Preston but they were worthy of three points with Brown winning the tactical battle over Rosler in a performance which saw the Lillywhites attack quickly and ruthlessly. Throughout the game they were always a shade better than the Bees who nevertheless worked hard to stay in the game until the third North End goal effectively sealed the result with seventeen minutes left.
Preston's superiority hinged on a midfield diamond which saw Graham Alexander screening the defence to allow Iain Hume a free role behind the front two. In contrast Brentford's more rigid structure saw them gain ground steadily without the snap of Preston's fast counter attacking to create chances. One of the first of these moves saw Mellor cut in from the left to shrug off a defender and score with a fine finish. Brentford soon responded when my ex student Marcus Bean played in Myles Weston on the right wing whose run and cross gave Nial McGinn the opportunity to equalise. 
Preston regained the lead just after the half hour mark when the Brentford defence gave Hume the time and space to score with a terrific shot from outside the penalty area. The second half saw Brentford push hard to get back on level terms but it was Preston who scored final goal of the game when a well worked free kick routine saw my wife's ex student Clarke Carlisle at the far post head the ball back across the face of the goal where Mellor was waiting to lash the ball home. Three points and a sixth consecutive win for Preston who on this evidence will mount a strong promotion challenge worthy of a team containing the likes of Carlisle, Alexander, Mellor and Hume. Brentford may well stay around the upper reaches of mid table but will always present a great opportunity to show anyone under the age of twenty what an afternoon watching professional football should entail, finished off of course by a return to the pub to chew over the day's action.

1 comment:

Lenny Baryea said...

Went to Brentford v Bristol Rovers last season with the wife. Loved Griffin Park and the whole match-day experience (train to/walk to ground from Ealing Broadway etc)

Agree with you about Phil Brown, and for the same reason(s).