Sunday, 15 April 2007


Wednesday 4th April
Fryern Rec

Thirty-five old year Justin Newman put Burridge ahead striking crisply from outside the area. Capital levelled before seventeen year old Sam Hewitt - who four days earlier - put Burridge in front from close range. In the evening sun many of Hewitt's age bracket occupied the basketball court that lay adjacent, congregating rather than playing an American sport for giants. The metal caged perimeters holding them captive in the limbo of post World-Cup single tournaments. Of which I remember playing with my friends into one goal as if life depended on it, each under a moniker like Cameroon's Cyrille Makanaky or Enzo Francescoli of Uruguay, poaching for goal and passage to the next round. Buying time to sit behind the goal, poking fun at less fortunate competitors like Barry Smith, rushing home in a flood of thinly concealed tears, under no illusion that being knocked out of the first round of a twenty man tournament marked the end of his life until that particular balmy Tuesday evening became Wednesday.

Such vivid memory bought back why the council construct these courts, when in 1986 Dad, desperate to see England in less than half an hour cheated out of a World Cup semi final with Belgium by the hand of Maradona in the Azteca Stadium of Mexico, still have the patience to untwine the clunky metal chains of the swings to their normal position for me to sit and face a concrete wall covered with Anglo-Saxon tirade and graphic phallic scrawling like some modern fertility hieroglyphic. Basketball may be a foreign sport, its playing environment of caged fence and hooped net leaving little to excite the hearts of saboteurs. But sometimes in unseemly circumstances the unlikely prevails - Burridge succumbed to two late goals.

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