Why I’d Rather Watch Markus Rosenberg Than England

On Wednesday 25th September 2013 I was sat in the East Stand at The Hawthorns watching West Brom take on a youthful Arsenal team in the League Cup. Albion had played quite well, but Arsenal were holding up, and after 90 minutes the result was 1-1. Extra time awaited, with the possibility of penalties. Steve Clarke decides to bring on some fresh legs and takes off Shane long for Markus Rosenberg.

For those of you that don’t know of Markus Rosenberg, let me introduce him. Rosenberg is a Swedish International striker (33 caps, 6 goals), who has played across Europe, in the top leagues in Sweden, Spain, Holland and Germany. As well as playing in those leagues for teams such as Ajax and Werder Bremen, Rosenberg has also played and scored in competitions like the Champions League.

Before joining the Albion, Rosenberg had scored a total of 112 goals in 338 games. On average a goal every three games. Not a terrible record. But, this is Albion.

Rosenberg’s Albion record is 33 games, 0 goals. On average no goals, ever. But, despite this, and despite all my better instinct, I continue to believe that at any point that goal will come. I hold on to that hope, and will hold on to that hope until the day he leaves. So when he came on against Arsenal, I heard people around me sighing and moaning. I was thinking a bit different.

“Come on Rosie, this is your time…you can do this.”

The match restarts, extra time kicks off, and the game continues in very much the same vein it left off. And then, Rosenberg was clear. Somehow the ball had fallen to him, just out of the six yard box, and the goalkeeper was nowhere. Surely…SURELY…this was it. We were going to see a Rosenberg goal…he was going to win it.

Well, he didn’t, and we didn’t see a goal. The game went to penalties, and, although Rosenberg put his away quite nicely, the Albion lost.

My reason for bringing up such a frustrating story and character as Markus Rosenberg is that, actually, I care more about him and how he plays and his struggle for goals than I do about the England national team. That moment, when the ball fell to Rosenberg in the area against Arsenal, in a League Cup match, had me feeling more excited than any England game has for years.

In no way am I trying to say I wouldn’t celebrate if, by some miracle, England won the World Cup next year. I dare say that if England got to the final (or anywhere near, for that matter), I might feel some excitement. But there is no way that I would feel the same excitement or passion that I feel at the Albion. And that is why I’d much rather sit at The Hawthorns to see the Albion than visit Wembley to see our national team.

Give me Darren Moore and Bob Taylor scoring against Crystal Palace to secure promotion to the Premier League. Give me Igor Balis scoring a last minute penalty to win the game at Bradford. Give me a Paul Robinson equaliser at Villa Park. Give me a Geoff Horsfield and Keiran Richardson goal to pull of the ‘Great Escape’. Give me a Peter Odemwingie hat-trick at the Molineux, as we beat Wolves 5-1 at their own place.

Don’t give me Wayne Rooney getting frustrated at others around him. Don’t give me James Milner…at all.

These are players I struggle to care about. It sums it up when the most excited I can get about England is not the prospect of Jack Wilshere or Andros Townsend or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but actually the prospect that Albion’s Ben Foster could get a call up. I am excited by the goalkeeper.

Desperate times.

For years, media have sparked the argument of club vs country with regards to players, but how about the fans? I can’t be alone. I can’t criticise the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for playing better for their own clubs than they do country when, actually, I can’t even get motivated to watch them.

Pointless friendlies, endless substitutions, players gaining international caps because they show a glimmer of talent. I just don’t get it anymore. I used to care. I used to be all England when Albion weren’t playing…now, I’m Albion, with England a side thought, regardless of whether it’s international break or not.

Last night England played Germany at Wembley. It’s a match that is classed as one of the “big ones”…but I was at a pub quiz. I’d practically forgotten the match was on. In fact, it wasn’t until I got home and popped on Twitter that I suddenly thought, “Oh yeah, England were playing tonight.”

I still hope that Roy Hodgson will make me feel for England like I did when Gazza scored against Scotland in Euro 96. Quite what will have to happen for that to happen, though; I don’t know. But I keep faith.

And, until then, I’ll always have Markus Rosenberg and the Albion to keep me going.

Adam

Kurt Cobain’s Masterpiece

Twenty years ago, Nirvana released their third, and final, studio album. Much harder and more difficult than Nevermind, In Utero is, in my opinion, the album that stands the test of time and the album that Nirvana should be remembered for.

In Utero was released when I was only 7 years old. I doubt very much that at that point of my life I was interested in Kurt Cobain or indeed rock music at all. I’m very certain that had someone sat me down and forced me to listen to In Utero I would have probably have been disgusted. A man shouting “Rape me!” down a microphone during a song? Just turning 7, I doubt I’d even know what rape is.

As I grew and my music tastes developed, and I got in to rock music, I became a massive Nirvana ‘fanboy’. I have hours upon hours upon hours of Nirvana material (some widely known, some not so widely known), and I remember pre-ordering the “With The Lights Out” boxset, with it’s funky heat sensitive artwork, spending pretty much all the money I’d save up from a Saturday job I’d been doing.

I was in love with Nirvana. Kurt Cobain had become my hero. I was in so deep I was even trying to wear clothes that I thought Kurt would have worn, and considered letting my hair grow so I could style my look on him. I could, and still can, play about 2 hours worth of Nirvana material on guitar. I was obsessed.

What got me in to Nirvana, weirdly, wasn’t an album. Wasn’t Teen Spirit (I actually heard Lithium before that). Wasn’t the Unplugged show. It was Nirvana on MTV’s Live And Loud show.

It was night time, everyone in my house had gone to bed, but I had stayed up and was watching MTV2, and they were replaying this show from several years ago. I was taken aback by the energy in Kurt’s performance, I loved the artwork on the stage (statues of the pregnant angel from the In Utero album sleeve)…and when Kurt screamed his way in to the final verse of Drain You, I was hooked.

I got every album, I downloaded really shitty quality recordings of live performances, b-sides, rare recordings and covers, but I loved it. I was discovering that I was a fan of raw, edgy sounds. And for that reason alone, Nevermind and all it’s quality ran dry with me. All ‘Top 100 album’ shows will mention Nevermind, but it’s probably the nirvana record I listen to least. In Utero is my choice.

In Utero is, and was, such a departure from the radio friendly elements of Nevermind. It sounded edgy, it sounded dirty, it sounded like a massive cry of frustration and anger. Opening with the lyric, “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old”, was the perfect way to go about things. In Utero felt more personal than any other Nirvana album, it felt like this was Kurt Cobain’s album. This was the one he wanted people to hear. This was the one he had worked up to.

For a mainstream rock band to focus on the themes that In Utero does is such a brave move. It’s make or break territory in some respects. Posthumously, it is entirely possible to listen to the lyrics on the album and ask yourself, “was he telling us all then?” In Utero mentions death and suicide several times, it’s not the album to listen to for a laugh, but, for any real Nirvana fan, it is the essential album.

Twenty years on, the influence In Utero has had on the modern rock scene is huge. Simon Neil, from Biffy Clyro, has the angel from the album sleeve tattooed on his arm. I would argue that the heavy, mainstream rock we occasionally hear on Radio One nowadays, with harsh screaming vocals, wouldn’t be deemed as accessible to the mainstream had Nirvana not released songs such as Milk It or Tourette’s.

In Utero has a lot to answer for, and so much to be thanked for. This was Kurt’s work of art. It is the soundtrack for my late teenage years.

And if you haven’t listened to it before, then please, I urge you, go out and buy the CD.

Missing The Point

Every so often a song comes along with a video that sparks so much controversy you often forget to think about whether the said song is actually any good. Lily Allen has released her new song “Hard Out Here”, in an attempt to ‘have a go’ at the sexism in modern pop music today, be it from Miley Cyrus or Robin Thicke. The end result, though, is a bit baffling.

I’ll start with the song. Because, I’m sure, Lily Allen would tell us it’s “all about the music” and the message of the song is actually, surprisingly, in the song. That message is supposed to be a strong statement about the way women are treated everyday, a statement against sexism, and a statement that I wish she could do better. Telling men to “forget your balls and grow a pair of tits” doesn’t really help voice the fact that there still aren’t enough women in power, and “it’s hard out here when you’re a bitch” doesn’t give much either. If you’re a bitch, then that’s probably why it’s hard. Surely women don’t like being known as “bitches”?

When I first heard the song, I had a vision of a French and Saunders sketch parodying someone like Kate Nash. I imagined Sophie Ellis Bextor deciding to release a song with swear words; to be edgy. When I heard the auto-tune in the chorus I wanted to cry.

I like Lily Allen. ‘Smile’ is a good song, ‘The Fear’ is a brilliant song…this? It’s turgid. It’s a poor pop song, but there’ll be a lot of people that will be ‘in to it’ because it’s controversial. People do love a good controversy.

On to the video, and this is where I really think it misses the point completely. It’s supposed to be a satirical video, mocking modern pop stars, such as Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, who essentially use women as props in their videos or whore themselves out. But, unless I’m mistaken, satire isn’t imitation, and this video, to those who haven’t ‘got the message’ is just that…imitation.

In trying to show how wrong it is that women are used as sexualised props in music videos, Lily Allen has, perhaps inadvertently, created a music video that uses women as just that. The ethnicity of the women used (and, again, I hate to use the word used but they are) is also a source for argument. Allen has defended this in a tweet, and I don’t for one second believe any racist view was intended, but the defending of a video shows something…people don’t get it. I’m one of them!

I showed the video to my fiancée, and she looked appalled when ‘Lily Allen Has A Baggy Pussy’ popped up on the video. The message of the song got completely lost. As far as she was concerned this was just a bog standard video that started well (because it does…the hospital scene is the one and only part of the video where you see the message), but lost it’s way.

Raving about a ‘Baggy Pussy’, I’d imagine, is not what feminists have in mind when they are trying to get their valid points of views across about the way women are discriminated against even today.

The song ends with the couplet “Inequality promises that it’s here to stay, Always trust the injustice ‘cuz it’s not going away.” 

Lily may have a point. More video’s like this and “the injustice” may just stay.

Adam

(If I am wide of the mark, please do comment – it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve missed the obvious)

An Introduction

I always tend to struggle with first posts on a new blog. Trying to decide whether to just jump straight in with a piece about sport or music or a days event, or writing a piece where you simply say, “Hi.”

As it is, that’s pretty much what I’m going to do. A brief introduction about me, and then it will be up to you, whoever you are, as to whether or not you come back for more in the future.

I’m Adam, an avid supporter of West Bromwich Albion (for my sins), a lover of music, ranging from Morrissey to Biffy Clyro to Chvrches to Kanye West to Strapping Young Lad to Sigur Ros to Daft Punk. I work in retail, but I promise to never blog about that, because, simply, work blogs are boring.

I enjoy writing about football and music. I enjoy writing about my thoughts and emotions. You might get to know this if you stick around in the future.

This isn’t the only blog I’ve done; and if you want a taste of what I have written in the past, you can see some of it here: http://adamtownsend.tumblr.com/ (I’m sure if any of you have used Tumblr you will understand my reasons for not using it too much…more than anything, it’s just become a centre for soft porn .gifs and self harm pictures; not quite my thing.) If you’re feeling even more interested, you’ll find a few pieces on the superb http://www.sabotagetimes.com

But that’s it, for now.

“Hi.”

Adam