I haven't posted here since 2012 – that’s five years of not blogging. The blog is/was about Burridge AFC, the football team I played for between 1997 and 2012. When I started it in 2005 I told friends it was like an online notice board, somewhere for players to check our upcoming fixtures, but really I wanted to use the blog to write. And that's what I did. I enjoyed it, too. Then the Burridge team I played for disbanded in 2012. We'd reached a bit of a crossroads. A growing number of players were no longer able to play for various reasons - work, bad knees, needy girlfriends, indifference. Spending Saturday afternoon playing for Burridge didn't seem to be a big enough priority to the number of people required to keep a local football team going.
|Burridge circa 2006|
With interest dwindling, results suffered. There was also this underlying feeling that a contingent of our players were eyeing up a move to Hedge-End Rangers. Unlike Burridge, who played in the Southampton League, Hedge-End played county football in the Hampshire League. They had won it the season before. They also had better tracksuits. They had a perimeter fence around their home pitch, too. These perks and features help create the illusion of a better standard of football – something all local players aspire too and ultimately, the level of football Hedge-End’s first team was of a higher level than Burridge.
Burridge manager Paul Dyke wanted to make a go of the 2012/13 season with the players we had left. I seem to remember him trying to press-gang me into this over the telephone. Dykey is a difficult man to say no to - persistent and seemingly unwilling to read between the lines, I had a job saying no to him; mainly because I can be quite weak in these situations. But I felt what was left of Burridge was a lost cause I wasn’t prepared to fight for anymore. For all intents and purpose Burridge had largely been a team of friends. The idea of being the whipping boys in a team of strangers didn’t cut it with me. On reflection, my ego was dented because I hadn’t been on the field as much as I would have liked. One incident sticks out: getting subbed off away to Netley for someone called Rob who I didn't think could kick a football properly.
But Dykey had reason to chop and change me. At Netley I was blowing out of my arse in the second half and already on a yellow card for a late tackle. In a nutshell, a liability, forcing his hand in taking me off. Nor was I as fit as I could or needed to be in 2012. Yes, I was 33, but that wasn’t an excuse that stood up to any real scrutiny. If challenged on my level of fitness at the time I would probably have said I didn’t have time to go out running – I was working in Salisbury at the time, making regular trips to the Midlands. Getting in late more often than not I didn’t fancy going out running. What this translated to was I didn’t deem it a big enough priority to get fit.
Frankly, if we did have the fresh blood we needed at this time it would have probably reduced my role to bit part player. Our last game - away to Comrades reserves. They were the sort of committed, but limited side we would have wiped the floor with a season earlier. We lost 3-2. I think I got 10 minutes. No one said that this was our last game, but they didn’t have too – you could feel it. Piss taking or moaning about the game – two staples of the previous 15 years – was distinctly lacking.