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As the pre-season comes to a successful close for Brentford and we look forward to the first game of the season, Gary Scammell looks back fondly on what looks to become a regular fixture in Brentford’s pre-season calendar – the German pre-season tour.

For the 2nd year running, Uwe Rosler took his Brentford troops on a pre-season training and motivational camp in Germany. Once again the team was based at the magnificent training facility in Bad Blankenburg – 100 miles from Leipzig

This year, the management decided to concentrate on fitness and conditioning – with the focus of the trip being one match played on the final day of the tour. One can only guess that, with the German season finishing later than ours this pre-season tour fell too early for any German Bundersleague 2 sides such as St Pauli and Köln to participate (which would both be marvellous) with the club deciding pitching Brentford against stronger opposition like Millwall, Cardiff and Celtic would put us in better stead than playing an extra couple of lower league German sides.

All that being said Brentford fans, who really embraced last season’s tour with open arms, were a lot less reticent to travel this year. A combination of cost, difficulty in getting there and there being only one game resulted in many fans deciding to put their pre-season shekels into the season ticket pot instead with less than half the supporters making the trip this year.

By all accounts, they still had a great time and our man on the ground Gary was one of the fans who decided to take the Ryan Air flight to Germany. He reflects on yet another very enjoyable trip to Thurengen and explains why he feels it is important Brentford do this every year.

After an overnighter in Berlin to see the sights was followed by a 2 hour train journey to Leipzig. We were excited at the prospect of meeting our friends from last year’s trip and watching the game against a 3rd tier German outfit.

The locals were friendly and seemed to be knowledgable about the English game and in particular Uwe Rosler. They seemed to be aware of his achievements last season and mentioned he was the sort of manager to leave no stone unturned.

Due to the difficulty in getting to the venue we decided to hire a driver and a minibus for our party visiting the Buckenwald concentration camp in Weimar en route as it was just a short drive from the picturesque town of Erfurt.

Following the tour of the historic camp we looked forward to brightening the mood by watching the Bees and all our new signings take on Rott Weiss Erfurt. The game took place in Weißensee, a small town approx 20km north of Sommerda and 300km south west of Berlin. This was Brentford’s first “proper” friendly of the 2013-14 pre season campaign.

It was an especially hot day, similar to last year’s visit. In stark contrast to last season, this was no ‘proper stadium’ like Reichenbach and olde skool Lokomotiv Leipzig. We were at Erfurt’s training ground and on our approach, we were led down a local dirt track entering the ground via the clubhouse for 5 euros. The local Theatre of Dreams resembled a pitch on Gunnersbury Park.

That didn’t kill the vibe as most importantly for the 60 -70 or so Bees fans in attendance, there was a beer tent and bratwursts on offer that went down a treat in the afternoon heat. It was great to talk with other Bees fans about our prospects for the new season and all the new signings. The general consensus was to eradicate the memory of last season and go one step further by clinching promotion to the promised land this season. Everyone I spoke to seemed optimistic and certainly chatting to a couple of players, they also believed this is our year.

There atmosphere was carnivalesque around the ground with Peter Gilham taking prime position on the half way line with his laptop. Unfortunately being 10m or so back from the touchline, he would eventually have his view blocked by the fans congregated in front of him much to his displeasure.

The Bees had endured a tough week at the training camp going through all sorts of Iron Man antics. The word in the beer tent pre-match was stories of players swimming in lakes, walking through fire and beach volleyball. That certainly put the players through the mill to help them build up their fitness before the big kick off in early August.

The visitors fielded a strong team with new signing Grigg partnering Donaldson and McCormack, goalkeeper Bonham, Bidwell and trialist Martin Fillo all appearing in the first half starting XI.

Brentford started brightly with Grigg beating the defence before putting his first chance just wide of the left had post. Fillo looked lively and did really well to survive a number of Martin Grainger-esque challenges with the local referee giving him little protection. A baptism of fire for him as I’m sure life was very different for him when playing in the champions league at grounds like the Camp Nou.

Donaldson also experienced a heavy challenge but the referee somehow deemed it to be a foul against him which highlighted the Erfurt game plan. In the 20th minute Brentford took the lead following a free kick for a foul on Donaldson. The free kick was floated to the back post but was only half cleared and and Harlee Dean rose highest to head home from 6 yards.

The hosts threatened and could have been on level terms but No9 Tunjic fired over when he really should have done better.

On 38 min the game was levelled up as Rott Weiss Erfurt equalised from a right sided corner giving keeper Bonhnam no chance.

Half time Rott Weiss Efurt 1 Brentford 1

The Bees made ten substitutions at half time leaving Fillo on the pitch which looked a good plan to help him settle into the Brentford formation. The heavy tackling continued into the second half coupled with some unnecessary fouls which resulted in two yellow cards being shown for the No 9 Tunjic for putting his face into Tony Craig and also for a nasty challenge towards the end of the game – Erfurt ending the game with ten men.

The Bees didn’t make any chances of note in the second half and were grateful to the trialist Bayern Munich goalkeepee Müller for his tremendous save in the final minutes after scrambling back and saving an O’Connor header on his own line. Great agility.

Final score: Ross Weiss Erfurt 1 Brentford 1

After the game we left the players to get ready for their bus to the airport. I was already relishing the season to come having seen with my own eyes that this group of players seemed more determined than ever.

There is no doubt that Uwe has a really good thing going on with these trips generating fantastic team spirit between the players and a village-style friendliness between the management, players and fans. As the club strives for bigger and better things, this one week in Germany succeeds in keeping everyone’s feet on the ground. To do this trip every year surely is a must.

At the end of match Uwe called for a photoshoot with all the fans who had travelled and the players. This one moment summed up the mood in the camp of a togetherness and a belief and left me feeling that this could well be the start of a wonderful season.

Gary Scammell
@garybee99

First half line-up: Bonham; Oyeleke, Dean, Pierre, Bidwell; Fillo, Reeves, MCormack, Forshaw; Grigg, Donaldson.

Second half line-up: Muller; Dallas, O’Connor, Craig, Logan; Fillo (sub 67 minutes Adams); Diagouraga, Saville, Saunders; Hayes, El Alagui.

Attendance: 682 (around 70 Brentford fans)

My summary of the new players and triallists;

Grigg- Worked the channels well and seemed to link up well with Donaldson. No real chances but hoping he will be a good foil for Donaldson.

Bonham- No chance with the goal and cleared well when under pressure.

McCormack – Very much a player in the Jonathan Douglas mould. I liked his presence on the field and he didn’t shirk a challenge even for a friendly. I hope he will continue in this vein. If so he will be a very good addition to the squad.

Fillo- Hefty challenges in the early exchanges didn’t put him off his stride and he showed good awareness. He hugged the touchline and played in a similar manner to Harry Forrester. He didn’t show lightning pace but was neat in possession.

Muller – Massive goalkeeper who certainly has a presence about him. I can see why it would be in the best interests of the club to keep tabs on him.

Saville – Very Impressive. Lovely manner about him and if he can stay fit I can see him as influential as Steve Sidwell. Lovely balance and first touch, changes the play very quickly and neatly and can certainly pick a pass.

Oyeleke – Very impressed with him. He played right back and supported Fillo well and had good delivery into the channels for the forwards. Defended well and gave the impression of having bags of time on the ball even when under pressure. He has a good future.

Pierre – Good old fashioned centre half very much in the mould of Leon Legge. Won every header against a tall forward and could hear him talking and organizing the back four well.

Dallas – Played only the second half at right full back. He linked well with Fillo. It was very interesting how he overlapped Fillo at every opportunity.