Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Saturday 27th October

Pete Lyons took a couple of hearty gulps from his pint of Guinness, looked out the window into the distance and told his wife that he was too pissed off to go out tonight. That seemed okay with her, she didn’t really want to go out anyway. Not tonight. Most people in the pub were watching the final scores come through on the vidi-printer from the forty-two inch plasma screen. Manchester City had just got clobbered by Chelsea at the Bridge. “Professional footballers should never get done like that,” piped up somebody at the bar. “Not by six goals.”

That might be the case, but they did. Nobody’s infallible. People make mistakes and didn’t Pete know it. He’d been Burridge gaffer for about eighteen months now and when things were good they were great. Like when they creamed Hedge-End’s young bucks four-zip almost a year ago, but when they were bad they were downright rotten and this defeat stunk to high heaven. Blowing a two goal lead didn’t sit easy with anyone and no amount of booze could cloud that. Not in the couple of hours they were drinking for, anyhow.

Sam Schwodler gave Burridge the lead and Kristian Hewitt made it two with something from the very top drawer. Dribbling past player after player ‘til there was nothing left but goalkeeper. You’d never guess to look at him - quietly amusing himself at the fruit machines. Slightly overweight and with a dodgy back but there was still gold in those boots of his. He was one of the last. A footballer not an athlete. Pete drained the last of his pint. “See you later, lads,” he said. “I’m going home to watch the Saints match.” For a man who needed some cheering up this seemed the worst idea possible.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


Saturday 20th October

Jamie Hewitt’s goal was all that separated Burridge from Sporting Wessex. Before kick-off the referee checked the state of each player’s studs. Wary that his twenty-five quid costs could be rendered worthless under the weight of any libel from a reckless tackle. The kind that could cut to the bone even without assistance from the serrated edge of a football boot stud. But he need not have worried. Heavy rain has yet to turn recreation grounds across the south into quagmires. Players for the best part still hold faith with rubber studs. They’ll be no amputees this afternoon. Not from poorly kept footwear, anyway.

So he breathed life into the silver receptacle he shall communicate through now. It replaces his tongue during an afternoon where he no longer has a name. At best he’ll be referred to as “ref.” Through cupped hands and ever hoarser throats. But mostly he’ll be cursed by the coarsest of Anglo-Saxon from every corner of the field, by twenty-two men who sometimes even allow their hatred towards each other to dissipate momentarily in their consensus that this nameless man has not the slightest clue what he’s doing. And all for twenty-five pounds. What price sanity?

So for backing the referee turns instead to his linesman. There is nothing. Not here in the grass roots of the game, where substitutes are not only deemed surplus to requirements, but asked to run the line. Instead they drown in apathy, with only a fluorescent flag for company. Their bad decisions aren’t an effort to change the outcome of the game. They’re just too busy gawping at the snug fit of denim sat around the arses of opposing player’s girlfriends to notice that chances are squandered by a player in an off side position. By ten yards or so.

Monday, 15 October 2007


Saturday 13th October

Overcast skies cooked up a muggy afternoon at Burridge. Aztecs were quickly one ahead and before long they got another. Unfortunately for them it was at the wrong end. Scoring an own goal is rather like getting caught short in public. It’s a messy affair assumed by all others to be an accident and tried at all costs to be forgotten about. Not this one. Luke Sanderson’s left wing cross was met by a Hythe defender’s pristine volley, that was hit so sweetly it was in back of the net before the keeper could blink. In terms of getting short in public it was like evacuating your bowels in the font of a well attended family christening.

Jerseys of synthetic polyester hung damply from player’s chests into the second half. No more so than Greg Baker who placed the ball on the penalty spot once more. He’d made it two-one earlier from twelve yards. Stood with hands on hips at six foot-three, jet black hair sodden from running up and down that right flank, as the previous night’s alcohol intake ran so readily from his pores. With him and him only responsibility lied to seal victory.

Players took positions outside the penalty area as they must. Statements of encouragement echoed for both parties. They are merely protocol. For this moment Baker’s mind is free of clutter. No longer occupied by morbid thoughts of mortgage payments, over draught fees and hired purchases of two seat sports cars. There’s only two things now - doubt and belief. The two diametrically opposed emotions wrestle for supremacy in his mind’s eye, interrupted only by the referee’s whistle. Baker’s signal to begin his run up and strike cleanly to make it three one to Burridge.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


The petrol gage light never did come on. That's what Justin Newman said and he should know because he was driving the damn thing. Many wondered how that knackered old club mini-bus ever got a M.O.T this side of the millennium, let alone ferry the first eleven to their fixture with East Lodge in Portsmouth. Didn't matter of course. It came spluttering to a halt in a lay by. They'd just exited the M27 as well as the Hampshire Cup. Burridge gaffer Pete Lyons had to leave his Guinness to stand longer than he would have liked, as he made the mile or so journey to the empty vehicle.

Players stood scattered outside on the pavements as that old engine guzzled back a jerry can of diesel like some poor old nag fit for one place - the knacker's yard. Burridge weren't out of the woods yet. Newman had to negotiate a steep camber that required him to give the gas plenty of welly, which he did. So back to the boozer and back to the drawing board as Burridge came unstuck once more.

The pitch itself was rather like that old bore who picks the England side. It was dry, lifeless and a little too long. I'm not talking about his post match interview of course, which demonstrate the charisma of a down at heels sales rep, who's seen one service station too many. No, but his hair. This was quite probably due to the field's close proximity to the mighty Solent sea, whose viscously corrosive salt air may have rendered the pitch this way. So Steve McClaren's hair still remains a mystery and so do Burridge. Who are these men that sometimes suggest sometime they might just do something other than a Ben Hutton consolation goal.

B.Stanfield, R.Kelly, P.Dyke, M.Sanderson, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (S.Froud), S.Schwodler (J.Schwodler), J.Newman, G.Baker, B.Rowe, B.Hutton (S.Hewitt)

Looking back (bringing back the blog)

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 f...