Golden Brown

The Stranglers’ lead singer Hugh Cornwell is a regular sight in and around the Bath and Bristol area. Given that ‘Golden Brown’, their highest chart hit in 1982 was about heroin, it’s not totally surprising that its most frequently misheard lyric could maybe be explained by a subliminal expectation that the opening line “Golden Brown texture like sun, Lays me down with my mind she runs” would be more fitting if it really did end ‘with my mancheera’, evoking some unsalubrious slang for a dodgy dalliance down the back alleys of Easton.

If Mr. Cornwell, a not very ‘punk’ alumnus of Bristol University, had periods of debauchery, incarceration and excess in his early life (his autobiography isn‘t entitled ‘A Multitude of Sins‘ for nothing), the same cannot be said of our own Golden Brown, left back Lee Brown.

Mr. Brown seems to be an increasingly rare example of a young, modern day footballer who shuns the limelight and silly haircuts and just gets on with the job. No whinging, no bad discipline or silly fouls (only 14 yellow cards for Rovers and never a red), and no executive box urinations or salacious rumours about his personal life. Fit, healthy, never injured, properly left footed, honest, and loyal; what more can a supporter want?

Lee also has an eye for the onion bag (18 gas goals so far), can execute excellent free kicks and corners, and can even take penalties, admittedly with varying success on that front. Given that he had missed his two previous pens, stepping up to be one of the first five takers at Wembley just about summed up the man’s rock-solid character.

Lee has played a part in 226 games out of a maximum possible of 247 since being brought to us in June 2011 by the much maligned Paul Buckle, and apart from ‘only’ coming on as a sub for the F.A. Cup 3rd Round game against Aston Villa in January 2012 has played every minute of all 23 Cup games we’ve faced in our last five seasons. I hope he could reach 500 appearances for us. In fact him and Tom Lockyer (over 135 appearances at the age of 21) could be the only players for a very long time who may have even the merest sliver of a chance to better Stuart Taylor’s all-time appearance record of 546 League games.

He’s our only certified ever present of the season so far (i.e. started all League matches), one of a select band of only 15 players in League Two with the same record. He also possesses a statistic less easily recognised, namely being on the pitch for every minute of all those games. Only six others still cling to that extra accolade in League Two, and two of those are goalkeepers.

His squad leading nine assists for the 2013/14 season were the highest in the squad, far more than Michael Smith’s trio from the other side, just like his nine more in non-league outshone Tom Lockyer and Daniel Leadbitter combined on the right hand flank, with only a brace between them. This season he’s currently on five, with only Chris Lines ahead of him, on seven.

Limitations? Some Pirates still don’t seem to rate him which I find quite bizarre. Maybe it’s a Gashead trait to expect perfection from our current League Two players, yet fail to complain properly during the years we were full to bursting point with over-paid wasters on the books, or more likely, in the treatment room. If Browner was told to report to the physio, he’d probably innocently reply, ‘who?’.

Every year internet forums ask questions like ‘where do we need to strengthen?’ and several replies will ask for a left back to provide cover or competition for Browner. In a perfect world I could just about understand it, especially the competition angle, but surely when faced with limited budgets and spaces for players (EVERY player takes up valuable resources at a football club) people like Lee Brown are a godsend, as they really only require a youngster like Danny Greenslade who could cover for a few games if necessary. In fact having a senior player to cover for him would be like having an expensive second string centre-back behind Paolo Maldini; it almost guarantees that a squad member will be underplayed and under happy.

I can relate much more to a couple of minor weaknesses, namely that Lee is a little one-paced, not blessed with a real top speed, and whilst his lack of yellow cards is admirable, the sceptic would suggest it’s because he’s not a tough tackler, does not easily commit himself, and plays on his feet, rather than his bum. Whilst the latter is generally a positive trait, it could be regarded as a bit limp wristed and some fans question his defensive capabilities.

I will certainly acknowledge some minor chinks in his armour, but would suggest that his defensive performance will often depend on the formation, the role he is asked to play and who is playing in front of him, and he’d still always be one of the first names on my team sheet.

There is never a frown with Golden Brown.

Martin Bull became a Gashead in 1989 and immediately fell in love with Twerton Park, standing near G pillar. Three of his seven books have been about Bristol Rovers. ‘Away The Gas’ is packed full of over 50 years of ‘I was there’ away game moments, all written by fans, ‘Print That Season! – One man’s weekly meanderings throughout Bristol Rovers’ promotion campaign of 2014-15’ is the antidote to obedient season reviews, with none of the hindsight that most writers rely on, and ‘Double Darrell’ is similar, but chronicles the 2015-16 promotion, and is even better.

Full details of all are available at www.awaythegas.org.uk

2 Responses to “Golden Brown

  • Richard Mower
    2 years ago

    Suggested edit: Former Stranglers lead singer Hugh Cornwell (as he left the band in 1990)

  • martin bull
    2 years ago

    Note sure I need to get into that ‘debate’ about Hugh and the Stranglers.

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