Even with Villa inactive over the weekend Gabriel Agbonlahor has been making headlines. Dave Woodhall ponders the connection between boy bands, the classics and Brummie footballers.
No Villa again over the weekend but it was still a good weekend for Gabby Agbonlahor. First of all, not being in the England squad couldn’t have caused him any great hardship as they earned a routine 4-0 win over Moldova. If Rickie Lambert is the striker upon which Roy Hodgson is pinning his World Cup hopes, Gabby might be better out of it.
Then came the Last Night of the Proms. No, Gabby’s not become a musician, but his name went around the world after it was emblazoned on the back of Nigel Kennedy’s Villa shirt as he performed at the Royal Albert Hall. There probably won’t ever be another football shirt on stage during the Last Night, because there isn’t another musician in the world like Nigel. He’s been on top of his game for a quarter of a century yet he still behaves like a big kid, as though everything he does is a big game and he’s still excited by it all. If he was a rock musician he’d be someone like Bruce Springsteen – for decades the biggest name in his field. The difference is that every album Nigel brings out is a contrast to the previous one and pushes back the boundaries of his chosen field even further. He’s a genius and he’s ours.
Of course, Nigel isn’t to everyone’s taste. Dudley MP Ian Austin called him a ‘phony’ on Twitter. Mr Austin is also a Villa supporter, apparently. Unlike Nigel I’ve never seen Mr Austin standing on the old away end at Chelsea, sitting with supporters at matches on the continent with all that entails in terms of abuse from the home fans and police, giving away spare tickets and buying drinks for all the Villa supporters when he walked into a pub. I’ve also never seen him praised the world over for his genius at anything, let alone his chosen field.
Then on Sunday came the Stiliyan Petrov match at Parkhead. 60,000 inside the ground, millions watching on TV and Gabby injures One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson. It wasn’t a foul, it wasn’t even a particularly hard challenge, but it was enough to see the boy band boy limp off and later throw up on the touchline. That’s the difference between a professional sportsman and the rest of us; in his time on the pitch Tomlinson showed that he could play football at a decent level. One tackle from a full-time player and he was not only injured, he was badly shaken up. That apart, well done to everyone who took part and helped raise a decent amount for Stan’s charity foundation, as well as cause the name of Gabriel Agbonlahor to be cursed throughout the world of teenage girls.
Villa finally get the chance to play another Premier League game on Saturday, and it could prove one of the most significant of the season. From what we’ve already seen our first three opponents will be some of the most difficult we’ll have to play and anything we could have got from them would have been a bonus. Newcastle at home, though, is another matter. They‘re mid-table at best and perennially on the verge of the sort of crisis that seems to most often beset either us or them. If we’re going to continue the progress made since the bad days of last winter this is the sort of opposition we should be beating easily.
Finally, congratulations to Meole Brace of the Mercian Regional Football League division one, who celebrated Non-League Day on Saturday by beating Wrockwardine Wood Juniors 5-3 to record their first win of the season after four straight defeats. That might not sound too bad but in those first games they conceded a total of 38 goals, including two 12-0 losses. The Mercian league is obviously the place for goals; bottom of division two Denso lost 18-0 on Saturday to take their goals conceded in six games to 54. If either team want to boost their defence Alan Hutton’s still available.