Hopefully we’re looking at the storm after the calm … Billy theBee Grant catches up with Peter Bell (@PeterBell19) from Bournemouth blog  Cherry Chimes to chat Demarari Gray, champions elect Derby? and the Tinpot army.

Bournemouth have had a great season season. Did you expect to do so well?

I predicted a finish of 11th, which I am pleased to say is somewhat off the pace of what seems possible now. Eddie Howe was very confident in pre-season of doing well, but I just wondered about second season syndrome and the fact that we had sold Lewis Grabban to Norwich City in the summer. The start was a bit slow but we picked up points quite quickly and the players seem very attuned to the Championship now.

AFCB had good draw up at Norwich City and scored what was a remarkably goal at Carrow Road – some 31 passes – before Callum Wilson finished off the move, but it was the Capital One Cup away 1-3 win at Cardiff City that kick started the season for the Cherries and gave the squad impetus. It made the first team know that they had many players snapping at their heels for a starting place.

Since then, AFCB have been amazing away from home and of course the two games that stand out are the 8-0 beating of Birmingham City and the 6-1 win over Blackpool. In some games though we have not done as well as last season as we lost to Leeds Utd and Nottingham Forest at home this season – games the fans really like to win above most others I believe.

Lots of people thought you might blow out. You haven’t. Why is that?

I believe the mentality of the players is very strong. They all know each others game so well and they want to get in the Premier League. The team has already played most of the sides in the Championship last season and there was nothing to be scared of. As long as they did the right things consistently they were going to get some good results this season. Callum Wilson has added more cutting-edge and both wingers (Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh) have been adding goals this season on a regular basis.

Injuries have not come at bad times either as there is quiet a bit of cover for positions. The current time though is probably as bad as it has been regarding injuries. Elliot Ward is now fit, but we have Baily Cargill, Eunan O’Kane, Dan Gosling and Tokelo Rantie all struggling for fitness.

One of your key strengths is you are lethal up front – having scored 65 goals so far this season.

Callum Wilson is strong and extremely quick. He makes good runs to the wings and stretches defences and given a one-on-one he usually scores. Yann Kermorgant is a different kind of player. He is good in the air but his touch and flicks often send Callum on his way to goal and Yann is more known for doing the unexpected or spectacular finish.

We’ll be missing the suspended Harry Arter for this game which will reduce our scoring power a bit, but every player in the team has scored. AFCB get the ball wide and keep the ball in the opponents box well and our defenders are all capable of chipping in with the odd goal.

Who else should we be looking out for???

Simon Francis has been Mr Consistent all season. He is one of the best right backs in the league and will open up teams with his bursts of speed. He has a good shot on him as well but usually plays a killer cross to our forwards.

Eddie Howe comes across as a well mannered, thoughtful, educated manager. Not too unlike our Mark Warburton. How much has he changed your club around?

Eddie Howe is articulate and always has very considered views on all manor of topics relating to football. He has been a surprise success coming from the back room staff and taking on management at an early age. Jimmy Quinn gave him his first coaching chance at the club and Howe took over in December 2008. While he saved the club from a -17pt deficit at the start of that season to keep us in League Two, he went on to get the team promoted to League One in 2009-10 and since his return he has got the club promoted again to the Championship in 2012-13. I think only Rotherham have been as successful as AFCB in the last few seasons. Now he is looking to win his first title and it is that drive he has that has been transmitted to the players and the fans. It’s the coaching and hard work though that has taken the players to another level – that is what Eddie Howe demands of himself and his players – lots of hard work.

I’d also say that it has also not been a solo effort. Jason Tindall has been at Eddie’s side all the way through. We have had a past chairmen with a vision in Eddie Mitchell and a current chairman in Jeff Mostyn who has brought England U20s and Women internationals to the Goldsands. Our owner Maxim Demin has also brought the finances to develop the infrastructure of the club and to buy some great players.

You put in 5 or 6 bids for Birmingham City midfielder Demarari Gray – the last one being £5m. You were turned down every time. That’s a lot of money. Howe must really see something in him

The move that never happened.The figure of £5m for Demarai Gray was staggering and would have totally smashed our transfer record, but then the club has been totally transformed from what it was only two years ago.

Well, you can’t get every player you like and while it was a knock back in AFCB’s plans, who knows we might be back in for him in the summer. The thinking behind the signing has never really been made clear to the fans, after all he is another club’s player. We do have great wingers already at the club and at the time there was speculation about Matt Ritchie being a target for clubs but he signed a new contract in January.

That does not leave any position for Demarai Gray to have slipped into really and I think Eddie sees him as a player who might have shared the work load during the run in. His age is also good at just being 18 and Howe seems to be on the look out for young talent, as it might be the only away AFCB can really progress. The youth teams have been doing well and Eddie Howe is first and foremost a great coach and if he can grasp some young talent and improve them, he’ll prefer to lift the club in that way rather than buying the finished article, which costs even more of course.

But you never tried to sign anyone else once that deal was dead in the water.

The squad is not the biggest in the Championship, but there is cover in every position. When you can leave out players from the starting 11 like Dan Gosling, Junior Stanislas and Elliott Ward you have not got a bad squad.

The main worry about not signing anyone, apart from Artur Boruc in goal on an extended loan from Southampton, was what happens if Callum Wilson has an injury? Tokelo Rantie has not played much this season and it is possible that AFCB will consider a loan striker if Brett Pitman and Yann Kermorgant are not enough strike power.

Glenn Murray has been mentioned and while I could see him playing a part I don’t think AFCB will bring anyone in at this stage unless there is an injury to a forward player or if the form start to drop through the floor – heaven forbid!

Saying that there seems to be talk of Chelsea signing Callum Taylor in the summer for £15m.

I wonder if you should ask Middlesbrough’s manager, Mr Aitor Karanka about that? I think he might have had a word with Mr Mourinho about that over dinner perhaps asking if Jose could perhaps try and unsettle the Cherries who are giving a hard fought race with Boro in the Championship race.

Seriously though, if Chelsea really wanted Callum Wilson for that amount of money I don’t think any Championship side would say no. I kind of think their radar though is a bit wider than that and that they might just set their heights a little higher. Give it a couple of years though and who knows how good Callum Wilson will be?

Brentford and Muff are continually accused of being of being tinpot. Does that make you chuckle?

I don’t really see any team as tinpot or muff – we’re all underdogs these days. We have a running banter with Swindon Town about being tinpot, but I just find it the need to have a bit of rivalry and one-upmanship on another team that you’re not particularly fond of or have some history with. What we all forget is that you need rivals and a bit of fun is okay as long as it doesn’t go too far. Don’t get me talking about the Saints!

It’s really tight up the top. Which teams worry you the most – threatening your top 2 spot?

DERBY, DERBY, DERBY – they are by far the best team that I have seen this season and I’ll be shocked if they don’t get one of the top two places. We know that teams will come with a late run, but I don’t see the top eight changing that much. Watford will challenge us I think. I don’t think Boro have the goal power to sustain their run and they are currently top! It’s just a gut feeling – sorry Boro fans. I think Ipswich will fade as well, but who knows in this league? A dark horse to get in the play-offs though I would say might be Blackburn Rovers.

Who is the worst team you have seen play Muff so far this season?

The table suggests Blackpool but I did not go to the away match and we are yet to play them at home. On what I have seen I would have to say Millwall as they looked beaten as soon as they came on the pitch. I think they have show a bit more fight of late but Ollie has a big task to keep them up this time.

Just as a side issue, Brentford fans of a certain age will always mention the incredible Freight Rover Southern Semi-Final at Bournemouth in 1985 (just one leg in those days) in which the Bees wen two goals up, Bournemouth came back to 2-2 .. then Robbie Cooke scored the winner and Brentford held on for dear life for what seemed to be 4 weeks to book their first ever Wembley final. Do you remember this game at all?

It’s not one that I recall although I am sure there are thousands of AFCB fans who will. Fresher in the memory is the thumping you gave an Eddie Howe team at Griffin Park in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – 6-0! I think it was 2011. We were absolutely battered that day. Some of the players from that day are still in our team – Steve Cook, Marc Pugh and Harry Arter. Not a day I want to think about too much LoL.

Head to head, Bournemouth are just shading it winning 39 games to the Bees’ 38 with 32 games drawn.

Do you think you can widen the gap???

It is going to be a great atmosphere and an amazing game I reckon. neither side keeps that many clean sheets and both have a habit of scoring. I just think there will be one goal between the teams and I’m going for a 2-3 away win, or rather that is what I hope for. Both teams to score for sure.

I won’t hold a grudge though if it is 3-2 to Brentford or 3-3, because your players will have to earn that.

Thanks for inviting me on Beesotted

And thanks to Pete for giving us the full lowdown on Bournemouth. You can catch his blog Cherry Chimes right here. 


Pubs in Brentford

For Bournemouth fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming – something that we found most disappointing about our trip to Bournemouth.

As is etched in common folklore , there are four pubs around the ground. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and The Royal Oak (sometimes home fans only. The only pub with bouncers on the door in Brentford) are the other two options.

Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) include … The Globe (Windmill Rd) &The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-frienly pubs .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).

There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station. I guess many Muff fans will use that.

For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.

Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Rd or Windmill Rd.