Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Children Are Beside Themselves With Excitement

Trohyman Cup
Saturday 20th December 2008
Nursling 7-1 Burridge AFC

The children in Burridge are beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of Christmas. Those little scamps have been busy with their crayons, scribbling letters to Santa Claus. Take poor little orphan boy Jonny Simpkins. He wrote to Santa asking for the United Nations to bring an end to the suffering in Zimbabwe, by administering intravenous rehydration to those with cholera, whilst simultaneously implementing new sanitation practises to prevent any further outbreaks. Although when pressed further, Jonny confessed that above all else he would like a decent Burridge performance, that and maybe a set of foster parents.

Carers at the orphanage say they play an important role in managing the children’s expectations, no matter how unrealistic they are. Jonny loves being told bedtime stories, his favourite’s the one about the energetic Burridge side who play as a cohesive unit and sometimes even win football matches. It doesn’t matter if the stories are far fetched, like the one where Burridge, equipped only with a new brand of total football, go and help rebuild the tattered infrastructure in Sudanese capital of Darfur; to the preposterous, where Burridge work effectively for ninety minutes and keep a clean sheet. Such is the imagination of a four and a half year old the stories become real.

He always makes me do the voices of the various characters, particularly Sam Schwodler. Now apart from asking what bastard means, all Jonny can think about is Christmas. Perhaps he oughtn’t worry about the plight of the Zimbabwean people, as President Mugabe, who’s a grown-up, says the cholera situation has now been arrested. Elsewhere some Burridge players brushed aside their 7-1 defeat away to Nursling, denying that it reflected on their current league position three points off the relegation zone.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Players Begin Questioning Just How Empty and Meaningless Their Lives Really Are

Having had their Trophyman cup fixture with Premier Division Nursling postponed because of a waterlogged pitch, Burridge may not play again in 2008. Having only completed a meagre three games since the 25th of October, the squad have been left with much time on their hands, leading some players to come to terms with just how empty and meaningless their lives really are.

One such player, who wished to remain anonymous, said of his Saturdays without football, “I try drumming up some enthusiasm to do something, maybe sort out the bed linen in the airing cupboard, or take the rubbish out, but I just feel numb.” Before going onto say that, ”it’s just so difficult to see a future that doesn’t involve lying on the couch eating non perishable snacks, and watching Gillette Soccer Saturday in its entirety.”

Experts say that the numbing sensation many players are experiencing is the result of a sudden realisation that their lives haven't really ammounted to anything. Blame mainly apportioned to the lack of career progression at the work place and a loss of understanding in relationships. Some sad gits aren't even in a relationship. Many players confessed to feeling completely lost without football, saying that it was only when carelessly giving away possession on the halfway line that they felt truly alive. The overwhelming consensus being that the sooner players get back to forcibly disagreeing with linesmen’s decisions the better.

With only the slightest drop of rain likely to lead to further postponements it‘s difficult to imagine Burridge kicking a ball in anger before the New Year. “It’s the not knowing when the next needless spat with an opposing full-back is coming that really gets you down,” continued anonymous. Support centres have been set up across the country in pubs to help men adjust to life not playing football. There they can watch games on large projector screens. Some cases have been reported to be so lost that they’d even sit through Championship matches, an untenable idea to anyone who isn’t very ill.

“Once I’ve had five or six pints the world seems like such a better place,” said another who wished to remain anonymous, “The world is full of possibilities. Indian, Chinese, maybe even Thai take away if I really feel like pushing the boat out.” And while there seems to be no short term solution to the problem, one can take example from one man who has found life after football. After being forced to retire from the game due to increased demands on maintaining his Facebook page, Lee Fielder now spends his Saturdays with whichever girl he’s currently telling he loves. Proof that twenty-nine year old men who still live with their mums don’t have to resign themselves to a life of playing World of Warcraft.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Okay Guys, You Can Stop With The Act Now

Saturday 6th December 2008
Hythe Aztecs 3-2 Burridge AFC

Nobody’s got their head around what Burridge are up to right now. Hythe Aztecs certainly didn’t. The look on their faces after Burridge’s first half performance said it all. They couldn’t believe how little they’d had to do to go three-nil up against the very team the Southampton Sport’s Echo had tipped for a second place finish in the Senior Division of the Drew Smith Group Southampton League. Never for one minute had they reason to suspect that Burridge had meant for this to happen. We can all sit back consolidating on years of playing experience, by going on a long unbeaten run that culminates in an inevitable promotion, but that’s been done to death by so many other teams in recent years it’s become totally passé. People are tired of that old shtick, they want to see something new and that’s just what Burridge are doing.

Their league position three points off the relegation zone is thanks to an unswerving commitment in maintaining the discipline to perform well below an acceptable standard, and not, as many might have you believe, because they can’t hack it at this level. Apart from a slight hiccup at Michelmersh, where they accidentally banged in six, Burridge have stuck to their guns with dogged determination. It’s not easy to look as though you can’t string three consecutive passes together. Not just for one game either, but for a period of weeks. Can you imagine how the Redbridge’s and Comrades of this world will feel when Burridge decide the time’s right to turn on the style and take this league by storm? That’s right, pretty duped. You can’t accuse Burridge of lacking a sense of humour. Although if you’d played them over the last few months you may do just that, what with the incessant on field bitching. What I’d say to that is, wake up people, it only adds to the realism and the excitement when Burridge start mounting their promotion bid, just like they’re supposed to.

1-3 Marc Judd
2-3 Kristian Hewitt(p)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

How To Beat The Recession

By Club Chairman, Barrie Becheley....

Make no mistake, we really have fallen on hard times. When a staple high street retailer like Woolworths goes under it’s time to take a good hard look at our attitudes toward money. Football clubs certainly aren’t exempt from this and as club chairmen we must cut our cloth accordingly to the times we live in. Perhaps also taking a moment to step back and appreciate the things in life we may’ve taken for granted. Things like our health, a family that loves us, not to mention a small amateur football club operated as a business venture which as the sole beneficiary I can draw unlimited funds from.

It’s tough out there right now. One minute you’re a little behind on the mortgage payments, then before you know it those pesky loan sharks start telling you that they know where the grand-kids go to school. Knowing there’s a buffer to ease those money problems makes all the difference, giving you the piece of mind you need. Not to mention the collateral necessary to make a down payment on a two bed villa on the Costa Brava. It won’t be easy to beat this recession, but all year sunshine and ice cold pina coladas are a good a starting place as any.

As a chairman of a football club you stand alone to be shot at. There’s always going to someone accusing you of downright penny pinching, asking what he and his fellow players are getting for their financial contributions. I know what you’re thinking, you’d like to take that dissenter to task, perhaps follow him home from work and make a thinly concealed threat about how easily brake cables can be cut. Well, don’t - my advise is to tread carefully and keep your cool.

If in doubt throw him some line about costs or better still player registration and insurance. Although I’d steer clear of the subject of pitch maintenance, seeing as ours hasn’t been fit for hosting a fixture since November 1st. Maybe not all the playing staff at Burridge know it, but I value each and everyone of them. Not just in gross financial terms either. I wouldn’t want anyone of them to come to any harm, especially not on the field of play. The ramifications of an insurance pay out don’t bare thinking about, not in times like these.

Monday, 17 November 2008

What's A Man Gotta Do To Get A Game In Midfield Around Here?

Rich Allan (pictured above), he needs help.

Life’s not all for laughs you know. Sooner or later there’s tough decisions to be made. Which credit card will provide me with the lowest annual percentage rate for the longest period of time? Will blanching or steaming be better suited to cooking my trimmed asparagus? And last, but not least, what’s the most effective way to convince a good friend’s fiancée that he really ought to be sectioned under the mental health act of 2007?

I’ve got his best interests at heart, but any thirty-one year old man who handles and discusses plastic figurines that serve as miniature representations of characters from the Star Wars films with the wide eyed enthusiasm of a child clearly has problems in my book. Ones that need addressing. The only answer of course is the psychiatric ward. When and only when he‘s secured in a maximum security hospital can he be treated for these delusions and then maybe, just maybe, providing me with an opportunity to take his place in the Burridge midfield.

As you can imagine, his wife to be was a little taken aback when I approached her on the subject. She didn’t consider his hobby a particular threat to their relationship until I mentioned his secret plans for their wedding. The problem with the truth is that people don’t want to hear it. You have to break it to them gently. That, or fabricate a story that helps you achieve your goal of returning to your rightful place in the Burridge midfield. One minute he’s rooting through the car boot sales looking for bargains from a galaxy far away , the next he’s secretly arranging a Star Wars themed wedding that requires guests to dress appropriately.

I made the investigations as any good friend would. It appears the National Health Service don’t consider a Star Wars obsession as reason enough to detain anyone. They soon changed their tune when I mentioned the domestic violence. I can’t reiterate that the difference between an adequate and an excellent telephone impersonation of your close friend’s fiancée often rests on having the ability to break into tears.

Which let me tell you is pretty straightforward in comparison to returning to your rightful place anchoring the Burridge midfield. Life is as complicated as we want to make it. When our friends are in danger from themselves it’s too easy to turn a blind eye and not exercise loyalty, kindness and fraud. If you don’t act quickly your friend’s terrible illness may never be given the treatment it deserves, namely in a maximum security mental facility where another course of electroconvulsive therapy is only another hour away. If you didn’t act upon the situation could you call yourself a true friend? Could you look yourself in the mirror at night? Could you ever realistically be asked to operate in a 4-4-2 formation in the middle of the park away to Hythe & Dibden reserves? I rest my case.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Jay Schwodler Continues To Stare Deep Into The Abyss

(Pictured above:) Jay Schwodler cowering in fear once more as he prepares to face his demons.

Saturday 1st November
Burridge AFC 0-1 Hythe Aztecs

It lies somewhere in the hearts of all men. For some it might be failure, for others - commitment and with David Beckham it’s birds. But all men fear something. What that may be is irrelevant. What is more pertinent is how you face up to it, if you face up to it at all. Many men spend their entire lives running away from their fears. Not so Burridge right-back, Jay Schwodler.

He has had a deep seated fear for as long as he can remember. One that even now at the age of thirty-one he finds truly terrifying. Does he run away? No, he does not. He faces it head on, the same way he’s been doing so bravely every Saturday afternoon since he can remember.

Come rain or shine, he packs his kit bag and drives to the game, knowing, just knowing, that at some point he will be forced to come face to face with the very monster he fears in this life most. Because for Jay Schwodler, fear comes in the size of thirty-two panel spherical polyhedrons. Or put simply to me and you - size five leather footballs.

Like many fears, Schwodler’s is completely irrational, but this does make it any less of a problem. Many of his team-mates are quite happy to receive the ball at their feet with little fuss. Jay Schwodler on the other hand can get into such a state when faced with the football, he has on occasions been possessed by evil spirits. They take control of his body, often speaking in tongues, cursing wildly when in contact with the ball. These episodes are ended when Schwodler loses possession of the ball, so thusly they’re remarkably short in duration.

Although blessed with a bravery that is unquestionable, many of Jay Schwodler’s colleagues find it just too painful to watch his struggle with the football week in, week out. They’ve begged him to call it a day and hang up his boots, putting an end to his suffering. Still he chooses to ignore their advise, leaving many to worry just how much longer Schwodler can keep facing up to footballs.

Read more about Burridge by visiting the Times Online, by clicking on their logo to the top right of this post.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Burridge Recovering From Shoeing

Saturday 25th October 2008
Burridge AFC 1-4 Comrades Reserves

Pictured above: Sam Schwodler, shoes not pictured.

Burridge’s 4-1 home defeat to Comrades reserves was completely overshadowed by the terrible news that Sam Schwodler’s trainer had been snatched away. It was taken from his left foot whilst watching the pop group Oasis perform at the Bournemouth International Centre on Tuesday evening.

Burridge players have closed ranks, refusing to add comment on the missing size ten Nike trainer, not as some have wrongly interpreted as a complete lack of interest in a trivial matter that has no bearing on their lives whatsoever, but in an act of solidarity towards their colleague.

For they know, but for the grace of God that it could just have easily been their trainer snatched from their left or right foot, had they decided to get as drunk as possible and surge towards the front of a packed crowd who were in a similar state.

Schwodler’s strength of character was evident by not only playing on Saturday afternoon, but scoring. Earlier refusing the offer of holding a minute’s silence before kick off to mark the disappearance of the trainer, saying that this would send out the wrong message to not just the perpetrators, but indeed the world.

As each day passes a reunion between Schwodler and his trainer become less & less likely. Whilst trying to remain upbeat it is known that a single trainer can find it extremely difficult to find a place in society on their own.

It’s unclear how long a trainer could survive in these circumstances. If indeed ever worn without a matching pair, the trainer is likely to be ostracised by a society who are still intolerant towards unmatched pairs of trainers.

A visibly upset Schwodler hadn’t registered that his trainer had been snatched until he was ejected from the premises of the Bournemouth International Centre on sometime around 10:30pm on Tuesday evening by security.

The trainer is white in appearance with a distinctive red tick adorning outside of the white leather. Anyone with information to the whereabouts of the size ten Nike trainer is urged to come forward and contact 077807 07406, identifying themselves by the password Noono-Boono.

Scorer - Sam Schwodler

Booked: Luke Sanderson, Rich Allan

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Day We Got Spanked....

First they (The Sports Echo) tip us to come second, then they take our photo before getting done five - zip at Redbridge.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Warning: The 1979 Bryn Schwodler Liability Series Still Vulnerable To Alcohol Malfunction

Saturday 18th October 2008
BTC, Stoneham Lane
Comrades 3-2 Burridge AFC

Out the cup, again!

Pictured above: The 1979 Bryn Schwodler liability series, after yet another malfunction.

He couldn’t really remember Saturday night. There was some red wine drunk at home on top of a few bottles of lager before arriving at the Wine Bar in Southampton, but after that things pretty much faded out to black. This alcohol malfunction has been all too regularly reported over the last fifteen years when the 1979 Bryn Schwodler liability series drinks alcohol.

Burridge AFC captain Kristian Hewitt is one of the world’s leading experts on the behavioural patterns of the 1979 Bryn Schwodler liability series. He was adamant that the only way to stop the affectionate grabbing of male colleague’s genitals, in-between staggering blindly into strangers, was to stop him drinking jagerbombs at 9pm.

This was of course before even reaching Southampton’s premier night spot - Oceania. Memories of which that have been totally lost by the alcohol malfunction, that some believed to have been corrected since the appointment of Helen Oldham as the 1979 Bryn Schwodler liability series’ girlfriend. She was behind the blueprint of the 2007 design for the 1979 Bryn Schwodler liability series, that focussed on both a refined and polished sense of behaviour that shunned excess, combined with a more contemporary appearance.

Lobbyists are demanding tighter legislation be put in place to stop repeat incidents of Saturday night, where two-hundred and thirty seven people were inflicted by a clumsiness previously unbeknown to mankind. They argue that the malfunction can be triggered by as little as five units of alcohol and despite Oldham’s best efforts the 1979 Bryn Schwodler liability series is totally irreparable and no amount of autumn range Gap clothing is ever going to mask that. Not even a leather jacket offset with black baseball boots and dark blue boot-cut jeans.

Controlled tests had suggested that the 1979 series should be able to maintain the dignity expected of a twenty-nine year old father of one whilst out for a Saturday night drink. The ejection from the premises from Oceania, just after midnight, have all but ruined the validity of those tests, resulting in a minimum period of six months quarantine from night life, whilst his behaviour is further re-examined. A re-release into night life is not anticipated until late 2009.

Stanfield, J.Schwodler, M.Sanderson, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt, Newman (Reeves) (Baker), Allan, Judd (S.Hewitt) , B.Schwodler, S.Schwodler, Fielder

Unused sub: Hutton.

H/T: 0-2

Scorers: B.Schwodler 1-2
S.Schwodler 2-3

Booked: B.Schwodler, S.Schwodler, L.Sanderson - foul play.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Mark Reeves' Reputation As a Goal Scoring Threat Freed From Captivity

Saturday 11th October 2008
Michelmarsh & Timsbury 1-6 Burridge AFC

On Saturday 29th October 2005 Mark Reeves came off the bench to make his Burridge debut. He joined the club along with Steve Froud as a midfielder, in a desperate bid to boost the team’s depleted squad. His workmanlike ethic in the centre of midfield wasn‘t doubted, but his abilities in the attacking third of the field were quickly held into question. Burridge held on in the drizzle to record a 2-1 win against Capital that afternoon, but during all the excitement nobody noticed that Mark Reeves’ reputation as a goal scoring threat had disappeared.

It was later confirmed that the then twenty-nine year old Mark Reeves’ perceived goal scoring threat had been kidnapped by popular opinion. This strong group was made up of Burridge players, management, supporters, as well as opposition goalkeepers, who all refused to change their fundamental belief that Mark Reeves posed no threat to the opponent‘s goal. Reeves’ reputation as a goal scoring threat remained in captivity for 1060 days, all the while largely ignored, until the emotional release on Saturday 11th October 2008 at Michelmarsh, near Romsey.

The conditions that Mark Reeves’ goal scoring reputation were subjected to during captivity were grim, often held in solitary confinement within a tight pigeon hole, with barley enough room for a solid tackle within thirty yards of goal. There were times during those three years that Reeves was left on the substitutes bench, knowing that if he was unable to break into the starting eleven, release from the popular opinion that he couldn’t score a goal would remain almost impossible. At times, Reeves’ reputation as a goal scoring threat was faced with humiliation. Team mates would snigger when he stepped up to shoot, once more endangering car windscreens, neighbouring gardens and corner flags.

Public opinion very nearly agreed to release Reeves’ reputation as a goal scoring threat earlier this year. Firstly at Green Park, Millbrook, versus Inmar on January 26th; then two weeks later against Hythe Aztecs at Claypits Lane, but each time the escape was blocked at the last minute by the goal frame. By the time pre-season arrived, Burridge’s squad had swelled to nineteen players and Reeves was left to come to terms with the fact that his reputation as a goal scoring threat would see out their days in a tight pigeon hole, with nothing for company but a fifty-fifty tackle - forever held hostage by the ever growing public opinion that he posed no threat to the opponents goal, whatsoever.

Reeves looked surprisingly calm when receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area from Burridge envoy Rich Allan during the second half. No doubt believing that this latest chance to gain his reputation as a goal scoring threat was nothing more than a mirage. Even Reeves' most ardent supporters were never sure they'd live to see the day when he scored a goal, so when the ball hit the back of the net the sidelines screamed out in delight. It had been a long wait to see this. Reeves looked mostly relieved at the sight of putting the ball in the opposition's net, saying he’d never fully given up hope of walking back to halfway line after seeing one of his shots actually crossing the goal line.

Stanfield, L.Sanderson, Willsher, J.Schwodler, K.Hewitt (c ) (M.Sanderson), Reeves, Newman, Judd (Hutton), S.Schwodler, B.Schwodler, Allan (S.Hewitt)
Unused subs: Baker, Fielder

H/T: 2-1

Scorers: K.Hewitt, R.Allan, M.Reeves, M.Judd, M.Sanderson, S.Schwodler

Booked: R.Allan, B.Schwodler

Monday, 6 October 2008

It's No Good Lads, You're Going To Have Play In Your Pants & Vest......

Saturday 4th October 2008
Cup - Burridge AFC 1-3 Mottisfont

Greg Baker usually slept in late on Saturday mornings, but today was different. He pulled the duvet aside, left the warmth of his bed, stood on the beige nylon carpet that lay in his bedroom and looked out the window to face a grey morning. His generation are faced with many pressing issues. If it’s not adapting to greener living by saving energy and raw materials in order to preserve our planet, it’s trying to make sense of the consequences of our war against terrorism. And how do we withstand the pressure to conform to having every single room in our homes fitted out with laminate flooring?

These concepts have been too much for some to bear, but not Baker. For he always had strong feelings about nylon fibre carpet. He believed they offered both tremendous value and performance, as well as allowing an ease of maintenance almost unsurpassed when it comes to hiding residual soil and traffic. He thought of nothing but laying its intricate synthetic weave met square against the skirting board. Or at least he did.

Burridge’s training sessions used to be on the indoor carpet at Fleming Park Leisure Centre. The surface was nothing more than functional. The threadbare green stitching provided by a limited government grant was unattractive and as such Baker paid it little attention. Then Burridge began training at Wildern school on the multi-use games area, commonly known as Muga. Baker was instantly captivated with its beauty. He could walk all over that polyurethane for an hour every week.

After returning from these weekly sessions he was unaware of the many hundreds of black rubber polymers that collected in his shoes and socks. When he removed them in his flat he’d leave large deposits of the inconspicuous rubber all over his beige carpet. Baker sat quietly in the home dressing room along with his team-mates, facing the prospect of playing county league outfit Mottisfont in their pants and vest because Mark Sanderson was running late with the Burridge kit. He knew that the only way to remain true to himself would be to stop seeing his carpet immediately and move in the artificial turf.

3-4-3: Stanfield, L.Sanderson, Willsher, J.Schwodler, B.Schwodler, Reeves (Newman), Allan, K.Hewitt (Baker), Judd (Andrews), Rowe, S.Schwodler

Unused sub: M.Sanderson

H/T: 0-1

Scorer: Marc Judd - far post header that put Burridge right back in it.

Quote of the day: "Why can't we put our chances away," Bryn Schwodler in the Bugle Inn, after earlier missing what is called in the trade as an open goal.

booked: Ben Rowe - foul play

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Well I Never........

Mark Sanderson Offers Further Insight Into Why His Performance against Redbridge (according to Justin Newman), Was So Below Par........

After yet another tough week at the sale's desk the last thing I needed was a five-nil whooping at Green Park. I mean, have you any idea of the state of the building market right now? And how's a man supposed to make a living if he's actually got to apply himself anyway? I'll level with you - I wasn't too pleased with my performance on Saturday. Most of efforts were spent chasing the referee, when I thought he’d made a mistake. Which turned out was quite often. Still, not the kind of behaviour a team expects from their captain. There’s no way you’d catch Kristian Hewitt carrying on like that.

I seem to really fly off the handle of late. Take yesterday, some clown had parked their Renault Clio in my designated parking space. I wanted to confront whoever was responsible with a sharp implement and get to work on introducing them to their internal organs. Somehow I managed to keep my cool and leave it at kicking in the Clio's passenger door.

Justin Newman seems to think that my aggression may stem from not having a woman in my life. For a moment I didn't have the foggiest idea what he was driving at. I thought long and hard about women for a moment, seeming to remember some such craze involving their kind way back in say – 1997? Or perhaps 1998? Can’t really remember. I'd assumed the whole women craze had suffered similar fates to hacky-sack and fondue, and that men just weren’t doing that kind of thing anymore. Least I wasn’t.

Turns out that people are still very much into women. After further research I discovered that the whole rumpus wasn’t just a fad at all, and has actually been going on since the dawn of time. Well, it came as quite a surprise I can tell you. I'd just not noticed. These relationships formed by members of the opposing sexes aren't exclusive to the human race either. They're enjoyed by every single living organism.

I suppose I must have been living under a rock all this time for just not realising that every single living creature in the universe is conducting themselves in such a manner. And there I was thinking those pictures of women in those books you get at the petrol station remained there only out of prosperity to a bygone era. No sir, you heard it here first - men and women, despite my previous misinformed opinion, are still having sexual intercourse. Frankly, I can't wait to get in on the action.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Let Me Tell You A Thing Or Two About Refereeing...

Saturday 27th September 2008
Green Park, Millbrook
Redbridge 5-0 Burridge AFC

Last Saturday's match official chats openly to young hopefuls about his methods......

Refereeing a football match is non-stop decision making for ninety whole minutes. Sometimes even longer if I remember to add on time for stoppages. If anything less than every ounce of your concentration is given, then yes, you'll still be making decisions, but chances are they'll be the wrong ones.

Let me give you an imaginary scenario: the away side are screaming for a free kick, something about the home team’s right back leaving his studs in the left wingers shins - so what do you do? I know what you're thinking - as a referee I must uphold the laws of the game. That tackle was both late and cynical, I shall recognise this by blowing my whistle and awarding a free kick, right? Wrong.

I don't know what they taught you at referee school, but out here in the real world things are a little different. I didn't get to officiate games at the recreation fields of Green Park in Millbrook between Redbridge and Burridge AFC in the Southampton Senior League by simply adhering to the rules of the game, you know. Things at this level are far more complex than that.
There's so much more to be considered.

I mean it’s all well and good following the rules, but what’s the likelihood of the player who committed the foul deciding to threaten me with violence if I award it? Don’t beat yourself up, the Football Referee’s Association seldom cover that in Module Two - Application of the Laws. It goes without saying, if there’s even the slightest chance whatsoever of any confrontation I’ll do what’s required, by waving play on. That you can count on.

This kind of intense decision making can be pretty exhausting. The mind can wander off course. One minute the balls rolling out of play, the next a horde of angry players have surrounded you demanding you award them a corner kick. Which reminds me, have you ever been to Aspen during ski season? Oh, you must - the crepes at the St Regis are an absolute delight.

What’s that? Should you send that player off for aiming a head butt? Have you not listened to a word I’ve said? Here‘s a question for you, take a good look at my face. Does this nose look like it’s been broken? That’s right, it doesn’t and do you know why? Because getting my nose broken isn’t my business that’s why. Maybe you ought to make that your business too.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Burridge AFC 2008/2009

Burridge AFC, sponsored by the Bugle Inn, Botley.

Pictured left to right - back row: Paul Andrews, Greg Baker, Kev Willsher, Sam Hewitt, Ben Stanfield, Sam Schwodler, Luke Sanderson, Ben Rowe, Mark Reeves, Petes Lyons (Gaffer). Front row: Rich Allan, Justin Newman, Mark Sanderson, Bryn Schwodler, Kristian Hewitt, Marc Judd, Ryan Jones, Jay Schwodler, Lee Fielder.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Burridge Eagerly Await The Nobel Peace Prize Candidate Shortlist

(Pictured above: Lee Fielder's self portrait - "Sure, Greg Baker is vain, but he's got nothing on me." Picture courtesy of Facebook)

Saturday 20th September 2008
Burridge AFC 3-0 AFC Hop

Lee Fielder left colleagues stunned by completing ninety minutes of football for the first time since Saturday 21st October 2006. During this period Fielder decided to abandon employment as we know it to follow his dream. In the twenty-three months henceforth, that perfect Facebook profile picture remains elusive.This has left Fielder frustrated and deeply under whelmed by Photoshop, planet Earth’s market leader for image manipulation. With his ambitions in ruins, Fielder has vowed to return and complete what he set out to conquer almost two years ago once software packages have caught up with his vision.

During this hiatus from not just the game of football, but also work and effectively life as sentient human beings know it in the twenty-first century, team mate Bryn Schwodler has embarked in a relationship with a woman with whom he’s travelled three continents alongside, settling back in England to allow her to give birth to his child. The fact that Schwodler remains with his spouse detracts nothing from the sheer mind boggling amount of time Fielder has dedicated in pursuing his goal.

It wasn’t until half time in his return to the Burridge team on Saturday afternoon that his team-mates fully appreciated just how long Fielder had been out of the game, giving him a quickrefresher of the rules, reminding him that although outfield player’s hands were not permitted to touch the ball, a handball appeal was both inappropriate and futile when the opposition were taking a throw in.

Only a month ago Fielder, 29 years of age from Whitebeam Road in Hedge-End, would have thought nothing of putting himself through gruelling eighteen hour Facebook sessions. Equipped with only a digital camera, a pair of aviator shades and minimal foundation, he chased the seemingly impossible, the greatest aesthetic of our times - the perfect Facebook profile picture.

Not at any time during the creative process becoming distracted by comparisons with himself and Pop Art movement painters such as Roy Lichenstein or Andy Warhol. Clearly something he has no time for, as essentially it is for others to make and not the artist himself. Although if a twenty inch painting of a can of soup can make such an impact on the public’s collective consciousness it’s evident that the comparison is invalid and that perhaps Fielder's offering to the art world's oeuvre is beyond the medium itself, and in fact a bold statement of peace to all of mankind. His first half strike broke the deadlock against a plucky AFC Hop side, marking a remarkable return to normal life.

3-4-3: Stanfield, M.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (c) (Baker), J.Schwodler, Judd (L.Sanderson), Allan, Newman, Jones, B.Schwodler, Rowe (S.Hewitt), Fielder

Unused subs: S.Schwodler, Reeves, Andrews, Willsher

H/T: 2-0

Lee Fielder - little man robbing giant keeper.
Own goal - what a header!Bryn Schwodler - whizz bang.

Booked: M. Sanderson - foul play.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

I Don't Know What You Think Passes For Journalism These Days.....

Saturday 13th September 2008
Burridge 3-1 Wellow

Burridge’s opening day win at home to Wellow has been overshadowed by Rod Sutherland’s comments in the press……..

Now listen here, Sutherland - I don’t know what you think passes for journalism these days, but what in blazes were you thinking when you handed in your copy for Saturday the sixth of September’s edition of the Southampton Sports Echo? When I sat down to read your annual Drew Smith Group Southampton Football League predictions on page twenty-six I was truly beside myself.

You wrote, and I quote: “Burridge AFC have often finished on the fringe, narrowly missing out and it could be their year.” You then go to predict Burridge AFC to finish in second place behind Redbridge in the senior division. Well excuse me, this is the sort of lazy journalism I’ve come to expect from the likes of the Meon Valley News and the Mid Hampshire Observer, who I’m sure had good reason for discontinuing my weekly three-hundred word sports report, but not from you. Where else can I read England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad member Terry Paine’s thoughts on contemporary football issues in a weekly column? Exact-i-mondo. Leading furniture outlet HSL may well see it fit to use a half page of your newspaper to advertise their latest range of Glenmore recliners, but not if you continue peddling this lame tripe.

Even a half wit has to sense to realise that Burridge won’t finish in second place. Oh sure, they might be second place at some stage during the season, but by the new year the weight of expectation will become so unbearable they’ll take it upon themselves to capitulate two goals leads. I handed over my fifty pence at the counter of Co-op in good faith. Burridge may have turned over Wellow by three goals to one in their first league game last Saturday, but by thunder it was a struggle. I eagerly await a re-write of your prediction, a quiet fifth place finish is more likely. Or is it?

4-4-2: Stanfield, J.Schwodler, K.Hewitt (Jones), M.Sanderson, Judd, Baker, B.Schwodler, Allan, Newman (Reeves), Rowe (S.Schwodler), S.Hewitt
Unused sub: Fielder

H/T: 1-1

Ben Rowe 1-0
Rich Allan 2-1
Greg Baker 3-1

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

I'm So Disappointed With My Five Yellow Cards

Last Season's Top Scorer Sam Schwodler Comes Clean On What He Wants this season....

Wednesday 3rd September 2008
Aerostructures Reserves 5-2 Burridge AFC
Venue: Aerostructures
Kick off: 7pm

Last season was my first ever as an outfield player, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse. Sam Schwodler doesn’t believe in second best. When he sets the bar, he sets it high. Lesser men may look back on a season that produced five yellow cards and a week’s suspension and think to themselves - that’s enough. Not me. When I reflect on last season I can see only one thing and that’s failure. Things are going to be different this year, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. As long as there’s breath in my lungs I’ll strive for more.

I know that if I work really hard I can reach my full potential and that’s just what I’ve been doing. The doubters only had to witness our 5-2 pre-season defeat to Aerostructures Reserves to see that I mean business. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still room for improvement. After all the work I’ve put in I was bitterly disappointed with the yellow card I received. With the kind of obscene language I screamed at the referee I really thought I deserved a red.

You might think letting fly with a four letter tirade would be enough. Hindsight is as they say twenty- twenty and although nobody could doubt my intent, my delivery was probably lacking a little in volume. I console myself in the knowledge that if I keep pushing myself the rewards will follow. I’ve got a lot to thank the gaffer for, he’s been working us pretty hard in training. I mean take last year, I could chase a referee twenty yards over a disagreement over a linesman’s flag, but any further and I’d be out of puff.

What with the cardio work I’ve got under my belt now I’ve still got plenty in the tank to give them Hell after putting in thirty-five, even forty yard runs. It’s all well and good giving a referee what for from thirty yards, but it’s a speculative effort at best. It doesn’t matter what obscenity you direct toward him because a lot of other players, not to mention substitutes, managers, spectators, children, passing members of the clergy, they‘re all trying to steal your thunder. If you want results there’s only one place to be and that’s in his face. Not in a minute. Not when the ball’s out of play, but now. Right now.

When people say I’m arrogant it really hurts my feelings. When I say I think I deserved more bookings, it’s not some front I’m displaying to hide my insecurities, it’s my genuine belief. Just ask the other fellas and they’ll agree that my performances deserved and warranted more yellow cards. Maybe even red cards. Last season wasn’t all disappointment though, there were some proud moments too. I’ll never forget racking up my fifth yellow of last campaign for petty squabbling in a game that was already won. Memories like that keep me going.

1-1 - Ben Rowe
2-5 - Sam Hewitt

Monday, 1 September 2008

Three Cheat Death At Stag Party

Venue: Carling Academy Islington
Date: Friday 29th August, 11pm onwards....

Members of Scott Burnet’s stag party narrowly avoided death during the early hours of Saturday morning, reports an unnamed source. After spending a thoroughly enjoyable evening losing money at Wimbledon Dog Track, they made their way to the Carling Academy in Islington. Anticipation had been building slowly during the three hour tube journey and once they arrived they used their pre-booked tickets to jump to the front of the queue. It was at this point they realised that they’d been duped.

The Carling Academy was not in fact a nightclub at all, but a closet masquerading as a nightclub. Once trapped inside the temperatures began soaring high above acceptable nightclub temperatures. Many of the party, now fully aware that their last hours would be spent in a confined space in extreme temperatures exposed to Bluetones songs that weren’t even on the first LP, took steps to make their end more bearable. Using all their might to get to the bar they were faced with bar staff who were too weak to perform their duties, only able to supply cans of Carling.

Kristian Hewitt was the first to escape. His polo shirt had been reduced to a wet rag soaked in his own stale sweat. Others soon followed, completely overwhelmed and in a state of shock. Lee Fielder, Kevin Willsher and Luke Sanderson remained inside. The escapees agreed that it was far to dangerous to form a search party for them and after a few minutes of painful deliberation they owned up to the awful truth. That they had perished, not being able to survive anymore exposure to the Shine Volume One compilation album that the DJ was playing.

Results from the opening weekend of Southampton League fixtures:

Hythe Aztecs 8-0 Wellow
AFC Redbridge 1-2 Mich & Tims
Immar 2-3 Durley
Hop 4-0 Netley

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

What Happened To The Football Scratch Card?

Saturday 23rd August 2008
Pre-Season: Bishopstoke 2-4 Burridge AFC
Venue: Eastleigh Rugby Club

Now hold on just a minute there, buster. If I'm not mistaken that's a brand new pair of Stan Smiths you’re wearing. If you've got fifty sheets to blow on new pumps, you can damn well afford to cough up a few quid on the football scratch card, can’t you? Come on, you tight wad - it's only fifty pence a go and if the team you pick matches what’s under the silver foil then you’ve just won yourself ten whole pounds.

No I'm sorry Queen Park Rangers are already taken, what about Queen of the South? Look, there are still twenty teams left to choose from, so just pick one will you. So what if all the proceeds end up going to the club, it's not like we couldn't use the extra cash. Do you think the Laundromat just waive their fee for putting our stinking kit through the wash? Get with the now, man - there's a recession going on. For the record it costs fifteen big ones to get our gear washed. With at least twenty fixtures scheduled this season I’ll leave you do to the math.

How about you, Jay Schwodler? I imagine you’re still pretty sore after having two sets of football studs impaled into your chest and groin. Don't take this the wrong way, but I don’t think anyone was that surprised when you lost control of the ball on the halfway line, but what followed was pretty brutal. I thought we were going to have to lash you back together with gaffer tape. I suppose you’re right, it was a bit like that scene in The Empire Strikes Back: when Chewbacca collects the various pieces of C-3P0 off the floor, after he’s been blown to bits by an imperial storm trooper in the Ugnaught recycling facility on Bespin Cloud City. But like the referee said, Jay - just an accident, right.

Wait a minute, guys - don’t go. I’m sorry for raising my voice, it’s just that the football scratch card was one of the few times we’d get to sit down together as a team. There I was thinking that a Saturday afternoon here at the Bugle after a 4-2 pre-season win against Premier Division Bishopstoke would be the ideal time to rekindle the spark for that once special weekly routine. I guess I was wrong. Too many of you seemed to have had your head turned by the slot machines. Now that really is throwing your money away, but if it’s paying out maybe you’d like a go on the football scratch card. Northampton, Bristol City, Rangers and Sunderland – they’re all still left and only fifty pence a go.

4-4-2: A.Rookie, B.Schwodler, M.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (c) (Willsher), Baker, Fielder, Newman, Allan, J.Schwodler, S.Hewitt, P.Andrews (S.Schwodler)

H/T: 1-1

1-0 Own goal - 'Ave it!
2-2 Sam Hewitt - Lineker!
3-2 Greg Baker - Penalty.
4-2 Kristian Hewitt - free kick from the by-line

Bad Boys - Bryn Schwodler - 2 points.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Paul Andrews Meets His Match

Thursday 21st August 2008
Aerostructures Veterans 1-4 Burridge AFC
Venue: Hamble

I can’t tell you how great it was to see Paul Andrews back in a Burridge shirt. Okay, so it was in goal - but when a man’s life has been turned upside down by addiction you take one step at a time. And I think you’ll agree that keeping goal in a 4-1 victory away to an Aerostructures veteran eleven is a pretty giant step by anybody’s standards. Not so long ago Paul Andrews was a free scoring centre forward. Teams from either side of the Itchen were powerless to stop him climbing to the top of the scoring charts in the 2005/2006 season. Ever since banging in a hat-trick against nine man Cadnam on March 18th 2006, first team appearances have been limited by a persistent back injury that came to cut him down in his prime.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that unforgettable day. You could say a lot of boiling water, because even then everybody knew Paul was a heavy drinker. Without football in his life he became a slave to his vices. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for him to get through as many as six cups of tea before the start of Football Focus. Often unable to summon the energy to drive the three miles to Burridge to watch his colleagues play, Andrews spent his afternoons sat in the lounge of his two bed terrace so strung out on tea he was able to Soccer Saturday in its entirety.

It wasn’t just the weekends either. Paul, like a lot of us out there, would start his day with a cup of tea - white with none. Then he’d be off to work, fixing leaking radiator valves or whatever he had in his plumbing schedule that day. Just that one cup was never enough. Not for Paul Andrews. Unfortunately for him he just so happens to work as a plumber, an industry riddled with similar addiction. He was hitting it hard, but nobody questioned it. That was the way Paul Andrews led his life. But he was drinking an excessive amount of tea. Even by a plumber’s standards.

Then one day I came to understand how an addiction can take over a man’s life. It was at a party. One I had thrown. Paul had eight bottles of lager that needed to go in the fridge. No sooner had I pointed him in the direction of the kitchen I realised what I‘d done. I’d thrown the man into the lion’s den. My kitchen was nothing but a monument to every facet of his addiction. From the fridge in which stood a one litre carton of semi-skimmed milk, to the box of one hundred and eighty teabags on the work top, right to the very devise that boils the water - the kettle.

It may not have been a brushed stainless steel Magimix 11566, but those things retail at £69.95 and despite the viscous rumours I do not embezzle the club funds on my own person. If I did, I wouldn’t fritter them away on such material objects, you can be sure of that. No matter. Kettle aesthetics are of little concern to the addict The sight of my 1.7 litre Breville JK46 was enough to send Paul Andrews over the edge. I’ll give the man his dues, he went a good two hours before succumbing to the demons. By 10pm his goose was well and truly cooked. There he was stirring his teabag counter-clockwise about his mug, insisting that he’d been fine once he’d sat down and had a nice cup of tea.

Earlier this month Andrews fled the country in a desperate bid to free himself of the monkey on his back by taking a week’s leave in the 18-30 district of Magaluf. There in a three star self catering hotel he began to sweat out a week of abstinence from the very thing threatening to take over his life. Within days he was rumoured to have been talking of nothing but tea, blind to the sight of semi naked drunken women that surrounded him. Andrews has since said that his week in Magaluf was not only far from enjoyable, but really an experience he would have benefited from much earlier in life. We’re just glad to have him back taking one day as it comes.

4-4-2: Andrews, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (c), M.Sanderson, J.Schwodler, Fielder, Newman, Allan, B.Schwodler, S.Hewitt, S,Schwodler (Rowe)

H/T: 0-2


Sam Schwodler - lob
Sam Hewitt - in off cross-bar beauty
Ben Rowe - Lineker!
Bryn Schwodler - that's two for Lineker!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Burridge Still Waiting On Sandwiches

Saturday 15th August 2008
Pre-Season Friendly
Colden Common 2-1 Burridge AFC

Burridge were left shell shocked after their 2-1 pre-season defeat at the hands of Colden Common when they were not offered sandwiches in the Black Horse - the public house over the road from the Main Road Recreation Ground that Colden Common frequent after games. Burridge captain Kristian Hewitt’s thorough search of the public bar didn’t find so much as an empty packet of pork scratchings let alone a tray of sandwiches cut into triangles. Reaction was divided in the Burridge camp to the absence of any sandwiches. Some players held a bar side vigil for them, whilst others chose to leave the Black Horse for team sponsor - the Bugle Inn in Botley, believing that even if the sandwiches existed they’d be congealed by the time of discovery and not fit for consumption.

Burridge had been dealt an even larger blow when being left with the refereeing bill. Although no strangers to financing large sums of money to the Southampton refereeing Association, Burridge felt it the home side’s duty to cover refereeing costs as is practise in the Southampton Senior League. Colden Common pointed to the mowed playing surface and the one gallon Tupperware pitcher of refreshment complete with a set of matching plastic tumblers they’d supplied as hosts. It remains unclear if that liquid was supermarket’s own orange squash or a known brand of isotonic fluid because Justin Newman poured the whole lot down his throat without paying any attention to flavour or his team mates.

The refreshments were appreciated but Burridge didn’t think that they justified a refereeing bill that came to a staggering twenty-eight pounds. A full three pounds over the highest payment they’d ever made to a referee. Although unable to deduce exactly what this 12% increase covered, they were pretty sure it wasn’t football boots. Not judging by the referee’s choice of Patrick, which despite being well maintained with dubbin were part of a range that stopped being produced at the turn of the century.

Burridge Manager Pete Lyons had the capital available in his trouser pocket and paid the referee in full. The club’s finances have been under scrutiny of late after auditors found suspension monies that remain outstanding to club chairman Barrie Becheley. An unnamed source pointed the blame in the direction of Sam Schwodler, whose one hundred and twenty-day repayment terms have been breached. Chief executive of British American Tobacco - Paul Adams, was quick to leap to Schwodler’s defence, allegedly commenting that such claims were totally spurious and that Schwodler remains one of the industry’s leading creditors of the last ten years.

Burridge have two pre-season games left before the big kick off.

4-3-3: R.Rookie, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (c ), M.Sanderson, Baker, Judd, Jones, Newman, Fielder (S.Schwodler), S.Hewitt, B.Schwodler

H/T: 1-2

Scorer: Lee Fielder - Direct from a right wing cross.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Bad Boys Versus The Credit Crunch

Times are a little hard these days. There's not a whole of money going around. So let's stop lining referee's pockets with our hard earned wedge.

Last season we racked up 23 yellows and 2 red cards. All in all getting stung with a £225 bill in suspension fees. The vast majority of which we haven't stumped up.

This season 90 Minutes will be keeping regular tabs on the Bad Boy League, with points being awarded for anyone giving the men in black jip.

2 points for a yellow card.
4 points for a red.
Plus a bonus point for accruing five yellows.

Here's the Bad Boy table for 2007/2008

  1. Sam Schwodler 5 yellows - 13 points (£58)
  2. Kristian Hewitt 3 yellows & a red - 10 points (£47)
  3. Sam Hewitt 3 yellows & a red - 10 points (£24 - red card never reported)
  4. Paul Dyke 4 yellows - 8 points (£32)
  5. Greg Baker 3 yellows- 6 points (£24)
  6. Justin Newman 2 yellows - 4 points (£16)
  7. Ben Stanfield 1 yellow - 2 points (£8)
  8. Jaimie Hewitt 1 yellow - 2 points (£8)
  9. Ben Hutton 1 yellow - 2 points (£8)

Those who fall foul of referee's may do well to hold their tongue this season, as the winner of this infamous league will be awarded a special prize. Perhaps performing a back, sack and crack wax on yours truly, I don't know. Your suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Of Course I Don't Mind Sharing My Birthday With Your Wedding

The clock is ticking, not long 'til the big day now, and what's more - Scott Burnet's getting married.

It takes a big man to know that his wedding day is always going to play second fiddle to somebody else's birthday celebrations. So when I found out my buddy and former Burridge skipper Scott Burnet was getting hitched to Kaiyee Tang, in Nottingham in September, I knew what he was driving at. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a popular guy. People tend to like what I’m all about. If all the people we share as friends had to choose whether they were going to Scott’s wedding or getting messy with me on the brewskis, I’ve got a pretty good idea where most people would end up.

Let's face it, driving the 168 miles up the M1 to Nottingham for a Monday morning was always going to be a tough sell. So once people got wind that the wedding thing coincided with my thirtieth birthday it was a case of what are we waiting for? Let's get the Hell up to Nottingham while gas is still whatever it is a litre and get wasted. Hey, while we're there why not check out Scott's wedding. Why not indeed, you’d be crazy not to. Once that's done there’s always the mini bar in my hotel room. Then when we're through we can throw that twelve inch Panasonic TV out the window, get the party started by getting rock 'n' roll on Travelodge's ass.

I’m pretty close to the Burnet family. Scott’s dad - Stu, well he’s like an uncle to me. I’ve shot the breeze over a Heineken on his beautifully maintained lawn on at least two occasions in the last five years. He might tell me how his day working down the docks has been and I know it’s his way of saying as much as he loves his first born son, he would totally prefer to the sink some jager-bombs with your’s truly than go all the way up to Nottingham and see Scott get married. So well done, Scott. It was good thinking having this double whammy.

I even heard you're getting a cake. Guys, you shouldn't have - what's that? It's your wedding cake? Oh, I get it, it's a surprise. You've even disguised the fact that it’s my birthday cake by putting a miniature bride and groom on the top layer. The groom’s even got ginger hair, just like Scott! I don’t know? All that trouble just so I didn’t think that it's really my birthday cake. That's sweet, it really is - but I guess it is my thirtieth.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

If It's All The Same To You I'll Gloss Over The Second Half

Saturday 9th August at Burridge
Burridge AFC 2-7 VT FC Reserves

Now is not the time to try and work out how we conceded six second half goals against a team who’ve been training with the army since June 1st. I’ve been playing this great game of ours for quite a few years and during that time there've been some set backs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s in life’s difficult moments that we discover who we really are. When faced with these sobering realities there’s only one thing to do, and that’s bottle it all up deep inside.

So what if Dawkins has vetoed your promotion to corporate strategy for the third consecutive quarter, we can’t have the new hottie from accounts see you like this - spending your lunch hour slouched over the steering wheel, sobbing into your crab paste sandwiches. It’s not the way men are supposed to behave. Not in public. We must bury our disappointments, until such time as we get onto the football field. Then and only then can we behave like the delicate flowers we really are.

Take for instance the time I finally plucked up the courage to reveal my true feelings to the barmaid at my local. Up until that moment I was just that guy she’d see from time to time pushing his trolley ten feet behind her at the supermarket. Or from the bedroom window of her third floor flat, up a ladder leant against a telegraph pole with a pair of binoculars around my neck. Once she had blew me out I did not for a moment feel it necessary to acknowledge the bitter sting of rejection that festered in my gut by rolling my socks down past my ankles and sinking to my knees where I stood, staring wistfully into the distance. Just so maybe one of her co-workers who had seen what had happened would playfully ruffle my hair as some way of consolation.

That’s pretty much how Burridge skipper Kristian Hewitt reacted when VT’s fifth goal hit the back of our net. I couldn’t blame him, we were taking a good licking and although this is probably not the way he chooses to behave when the electricity bill hits the doormat, such feelings have to seep out somewhere.

The reasons how we collapsed during the second half to a team who were playing in their seventh pre-season fixture remain elusive for now. Maybe we’ll never fully comprehend how a younger side who began training in a military stockade some seventy days previous to this game; fed only on a diet of raw meat, during which time they didn’t so much as set eyes on a single woman, came to rip us apart so emphatically. Oh well, It doesn’t really matter how. If we do come up against such opposition again we’ll be ready. With our hands on heads, looking up to the heavens and screaming, "Dear God, no."

4-4-2: Rookie, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (c), M.Sanderson, J.Schwodler (Jones), Baker (S.Schwodler), Newman, Allan, Judd (S.Hewitt), Andrews (Fielder), B.Schwodler

H/T: 1-1

Scorers: 1-1 B.Schwodler - on my head son.
2-7 S.Hewitt - pick that out!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

I'm Not One To Honk My Own Horn, But Yes - I Take A Mean Throw In

I don't care what other people say, I think we've got a fine bunch of players at Burridge. Take Bryn Schwodler for example. With the kind of balance and athleticism available at his disposal on the left wing, he doesn't need me to tell him that he could have played at a far higher level of football. Then you've got Kristian Hewitt. Great poise and a shot with the strength of ten tigers. That’s without even mentioning Kev Willsher, Justin Newman and Jay Schwodler. All exceptional players and all on the Burridge rostrum. So yes, I know what you're thinking - how does a regular bloke like me get a place in the starting eleven? Well, it's simple - I take one mean thrown-in.

Throwing in may only take a moment to perform, but it takes a lifetime’s dedication to master. A good throw in taker is the master of disguise. He may use wild gesticulation as the necessary diversion to steal fifteen yards up field before releasing the ball. Or perhaps puff out his cheeks like a bullfrog as if to throw the ball long only to go short in the opposite direction. Yes, the master of the throw in is a wily creature, but he must continue to dominate his environment or his environment will dominate him.

Be warned though. There are people out there who’ll have you believe that the throw in is nothing more than the method of reintroducing the ball to the field of play. It’s just a throw in, they scoff. Once I hear my art marginalised as something trivial my hands begin trembling. Instead of concerning themselves with what grip to use on a soaking wet Mitre Pro-Max, never for a second failing to consider the ball’s maxloc3 air retention system, they turn their attention to violence.

Thankfully that hasn’t yet been necessary to resolve such disagreements. I just stare straight back with a pair of cold blue eyes and let my throwing in to do the talking. When all’s said and done I don’t take myself that seriously. Not with the sort of clowns who are going to bad mouth the throw in. I imagine they’re the kind of yahoos who thought that Miles Davis was just making a racket when he released Kind of Blue. Or that The Great Gatsby’s just a book.

I’m certainly not going to compare the powerful first person narrative deployed by F. Scott Fitzgerald through the character of Nick Carraway, in arguably one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century with my throwing in, no matter how sublime it is. It’s not my place. My place is on the touchline. Standing with the ball held behind my head. About to partake in the motion that is the very bedrock to either diffusing a tricky defensive situation or the catalyst to begin another attack. I’m talking of course about the throw in.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

An Open Letter To Departed Goalkeeper Ben Stanfield

Where does the time go, Ben? I can’t believe it’s almost two years since you made your debut in-between the sticks for Burridge in the Southampton League. Everybody knows that goalkeeping is no easy ride. One mistake and that ball is in the back of your net. When that happens you can always rely on your team mates to let you know exactly where you went wrong. If the game we love no longer allows an outfield player to go ape at his goalkeeper with a burst of colourful language from a stationary position fifty yards away from goal, then maybe it’s time to call it a day.

We all felt safe in your hands though, Ben. Apart from that one time at Bishopstoke when my booted clearance rebounded off Mark Reeves’ buttocks and sailed over your head. I cut you a pretty mean glance that day. Nothing personal, just thought you could have done better that‘s all. That’s what makes our relationship special, Ben. We can just go ahead and say it how it is. Least that’s what I thought, until I heard you’d left to join Romsey Town.

Why spend your Saturday afternoon's watching your team mates continually fail to find feet with simple ten yard passes if you’re not enjoying it anymore? Life is too short. I’m sure you have your reasons for leaving. Reasons you obviously don’t want to share with me via text. It’s okay, I understand. Romsey Town play in the Wessex League, they’ve got a proper ground with floodlights and I bet they don’t charge you a fiver a game in subs. I’m not taking the fact that you’ve left the club personally. Yes, we’re friends. Of course we are, but first and foremost our relationship is a professional one. You are a competent six foot plus goalkeeper and I am not.

Just one thing before you go. Look me in the eye and tell me we didn’t have some good times together at Burridge. Take the away fixture with Hythe and Dibden reserves as just one example. You might’ve thought that coming off junction 3 of the M27 and cruising down the A326 was going to be as good as it got that day. Well, you were wrong. Hythe didn‘t just play at the local park. They had their own ground. They had floodlights too. You couldn’t miss them. Halogen lamps mounted on what must’ve been fifty foot high girders. They weren’t turned on, I’ll grant you that, but it was a February afternoon. What would you have me do, Ben? Arrange a solar eclipse? Some things are beyond even my control.

Like getting you to answer my Facebook messages, clearly outlining the pre-season itinerary. We can’t play games without a goalkeeper, it’s something other teams tend to notice. Perhaps you think goalkeepers grow on trees, Ben. Is that it? Well, I don't think you would have become team leader of a reputable IT recruitment consultancy if you thought that was the case. We’ve lost players before, we’ll bounce back again. If you can't enjoy a season that comes grinding to a halt by Christmas anymore then fine. I guess Burridge isn’t the place for you anymore.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Dear Facebook, There Appears to be a Problem.....

Dear Facebook,

There appears to be a crucial flaw with your otherwise excellent networking website. Despite numerous friend requests over the last three months and watching over the mini feed display on my profile like a hawk, I’m still yet to receive confirmation that I am friends with xxx (name removed for legal reasons).

Not that I need a computer screen to verify my friendship with xxx. That would be ridiculous, because technically we’re not friends. Our bond runs much deeper than that. I think you’ll find that the three and a half minute conversation we shared in the queue at the taxi rank will testify clearly to that.

Having not seen each other since that unforgettable April night, the opportunity to act upon our animal desires for each other has been most cruelly delayed. It is only a matter of time, but your sloth like approach to what I imagine would be a basic computer generated administrative task wears my patience thin.

Would you deprive me access to xxx’s photographs, which serve as hundreds of visual clues to xxx’s address. Well, it appears that you would. And what sort of backward draconian world do we live in if a man cannot salivate at xxx in a bikini during her all inclusive fortnight in Cancun?

Well, it might be the world you choose to inhabit, Facebook, but let me tell you, it isn’t mine. And thank goodness, otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered, through much diligent covert research that xxx works for a firm of solicitors in Basingstoke. And although xxx has yet to return the five messages I've left on her voicemail since last Tuesday, I know it's only a matter of time. Afterall, the world of solicitors is a very busy world. Something that perhaps you should take note of, Facebook.

I'll remind you that it is you that needs me, not vice versa. I would prefer to see xxx's photographs via the conventional way, but when I'm forced to break into her house to firstly find those pictures and then parade around her lounge in her best lingerie, I will be placing the blame firmly at your door.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

People Have No Idea Of The Dedication Required To Warm The Bench.......

If you‘re team's got more than eleven players then somebody's just going to have to be substitute. Now a lot of people will try and tell you that if you’re stuck on the bench then you’re wasting your time. Well, I’m here to tell you that's all a load of old rot. Now take it from me, you won’t get the full benefits of being a substitute if you’re just some Johnny-come-lately, sitting on the bench once or twice a month. You have to be dedicated. Then slowly, game after game, month after month you can learn some valuable lessons. And I should know, because when I was fourteen I was a substitute, for an entire season.

I remember that cold January wind like it was yesterday. And why wouldn't I? It was a memorable day. The gaffer took me to one side in the changing rooms, asking if I'd brought my football boots. I was glad that not having played for the last eight straight games hadn't destroyed the motor neurones required to put the only piece of equipment required to play football in my kit bag. Had I got my boots? Do bears shit it in the woods?

The gaffer told me to give them to Michael Edwards. The little scamp had only gone and forgotten to bring his. No sooner had those words left his lips my heart sank and for a terrible moment my confidence was crushed. Embarrassment and shame engulfed my very being. I can’t convey how delighted I was when I realised that yes, I’d given my size six Pumas a damn good polishing during the week. I couldn’t imagine how humiliating it would be to hand over my filthy boots to a fellow player. Michael Edwards had forgotten his boots and as far as I was concerned he didn’t deserve to wear them, not if they were muddy.

I may not have played that day, but nobody could deny that I’d made a valuable contribution. And it wasn’t as if I never featured in games. I remember badgering my parents to come and watch. My persistence culminated in them witnessing a cameo appearance away to Stubbington. Our seven goal lead may have led many to conclude that the game as a contest was over by the time I was introduced to the field of play, but I still like to think that I contributed to the victory. More than that, I was just glad I didn’t let my parents down in the three seconds I played that day.

I mean, anyone can become a first team regular, expressing themselves in a game that allows the individual to totally forget the inhibitions that haunt their everyday life, but being substitute, week after week, game after game, offers so much more. What with your self esteem being shattered, you barely notice the assistant manager stamping all over your brand new Adidas torsions. But he doesn't do it because he hates you. Hell, no. It's just that he's a hopeless alcoholic who loathes not only himself but also his very own miserable life, held together by an endless stream of desperately poor decisions that he’ll no doubt continue to make until his dying day.

And what better way to help him cope with the realisation that he will see out the Autumn of his days accompanied only by acute liver disease, than letting him intentionally tread mud into the finely threaded white canvass of your trainers. Once the season drew to a close we had our annual end of season do. And I'll tell you for nothing that nobody else walked away with a five inch plastic footballer stood on a wooden plinth. No they didn’t. Don’t tell me being a substitute is a waste of time. Hello, managers player of the year anyone? Yeah, of course you’re always going to get the cynics. People saying that the manager felt guilty about leaving me to rot on the sideline for an entire season, even though many of the games where won by half time. Well, whenever I’m faced with these slurs, I only have to gaze into the empty stare of the plastic statue still stood on that wooden plinth. I rest my case.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The rumours are true....

Well, just got back from Burridge's first pre-season get together and I just have to say how great it was to see the guys again. None more so than Lee Fielder. Back in the late nineties before he broke his leg, Lee was a regular little goal machine in the Southampton League. And by jolly, he was so fast. Let me tell you there was more to his game than just out pacing the last defender and scoring goal after goal. He'd work his socks off too for the team too.

Take it from me, you really wouldn't want to be a full-back when Lee Fielder's on the opposition. God help you if you're dithering in possession of the ball because he'll hunt you down like a dog with his selfless running. Burridge gaffer Pete Lyons put us through our paces as the rain fell down in icy sheets. It kind of reminded me of some of the desperately inadequate showering facilities us park level players are faced with.

You know how it is, you've put in a hell of a shift in at centre back, which incidentally, isn't your favourite position. Not that you're going to complain. Truth be told, you couldn’t if you wanted to, what with lungs feeling like they’re on fire. So you clean yourself up. Off to a six foot square shower room shared by anything up to six teams, who've been sliding around on pitches littered with dog shit. Don't tell me that football's glamorous.

Now I know I should have been paying better attention to Rich Allan who I was supposed to be marking, but what with the heavy showers and the presence of Lee Fielder I got sidetracked. Now listen up, because what I’m about to say to you comes from a 100% card carrying heterosexual. I know I may have got a few of you asking questions during my crimpled maroon flare days, but if you think Fielder's got it going on in the game, you should check him out in the changing rooms. I mean sheesh, is Fielder seriously hung or what. Damn, I’ve seen smaller dangs at the Grand National. That’s right girls, in those shorts lurks a monster.

Sure, Lee’s had a few conquests over the years, and frankly my mind boggles at those poor girls who probably had no idea what they were in for. What with him being only five six and having pretty small hands, there’s really very little evidence to suggest what’s hidden in those pants of his. So girls, if you’re reading this, yes - the rumours are true. Take it from me, if it’s that big while flaccid after being suffocated to death in cycling shorts over ninety minutes, God knows what size it’s going to get to when he's running the full gun through you.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

I'm not being funny, but....

Not long now before the start of another new football season. You’re burning your fingers on the very fag end of youth and by the time that first game kicks off you’ll be looking back over your shoulder at the period of life known as your twenties. When you hit the big three-zero, getting pissed out of your mind on a school night ceases to be the actions of a young man living life in the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and instead becomes the lonely descent into alcoholism by a sad bastard. Or so you’ve been told, but does that bother you? No it does not.

Everything in life has turned out just fine. Had you been asked five years ago where you’d wanted to be in the summer of 2008, it’s fair to say that you may not have said working in the high flying world of specialist recruitment. Where people who don’t meet their targets are shuffled out the door to rot, but that’s life - always full of surprises. Okay, it’s the kind of profession that a few years ago you would have said was reserved for only the most depraved scum sucking capitalist whores. But hey ho. Morals and ideals aren’t going to pay the rent are they, Mother Teresa?

Of course you still have your friends, although you haven‘t seen much of them lately. What you have to realise is that they have their own lives. Their garden fences aren’t going to creosote themselves. You could tell for yourself that they've done a fine job on the garden, when you peered over the brick wall through the trellis panels, seeing them laughing and joking with tall drinks in their hands. Without you. I'm sure they'll call you soon. Of course you’re too polite to flag this up, you’ve matured, (you have grey hair). You’ve moved on financially as well, (instead of the one crippling credit card debt, now there’s three). Not to mention you’re free and single, (lost and alone in a pit of self loathing, hoping a painless death will save you from old age spent eating a diet of cut price baked beans in a badly heated bed-sit).

Not that you've been short of things to do during the close season. Thank goodness for the television. There was enough excitement in Turkey’s Euro 2008 games alone to at least delay the desperate feeling that eats away at you. Telling you that your entire life hasn't amounted to anything. Yep, you really can’t wait for the coming football season, because the number of seasons you have left are getting fewer in number, which can't be said of the amount of tears you cry into your pillow during those long nights.

Sunday, 29 June 2008


On the morning preceding the Euro 2008 final between Germany & Spain, ITV commentary duo Clive Tyldesley and Jim Beglin discuss Mark Sanderson’s performance during Hillyfields’ 10’o’clock training session.

CT: His performance has been a bit flat, hasn’t it Jim.
JB: As a pancake.
CT: Do you think it’s got anything to do with those milk cocktails he put away last night?
JB: That or the eight pints beforehand.
CT: Sanderson’s usually so good with milk. He’s had it on his cereal for as long as I can remember and I don’t think he’s ever puked afterwards. Not once.
JB: Yeah, it’s a great record to be fair, Clive. His record with Cornflakes, Weetabix, even Ricicles has been second to none, but vodka at two-thirty is always a very unforgiving opponent.
CT: Ricicles?
JB: They’re exactly the same as Rice Krispies, Clive - just with a frosted sugar coating.
CT: Really?
JB: Yeah, they never really captured the public‘s imagination.
CT: Sanderson’s preparation hasn’t been ideal.
JB: No, you’re always going to struggle on three hours sleep.
CT: In hindsight do you think running to the Sports Centre was a good idea?
JB: No, It’s bad enough when you’re knocking on for thirty and you’re still going to the same old bars, when you wake up to retch down the toilet it’s a whole new low.
CT: He really is his own worst enemy some times.
JB: Yeah, but to be fair a shag was on.
CT: The chance was certainly there Jim, wasn’t it? He just didn’t seem to have belief to convert the chance.
JB: It was stonewall, Clive. He’s very good at giving it the big one, but when it comes to getting them home and getting them naked he’s not quite there.
CT: Overall impressions, Jim?
JB: Great promise, Clive. Just always fails to deliver in the big games.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Running - the jury's out.....

Hi guys, you are still my guys aren't you? Great! Just finished trying this new thing. It's called running. Wait a minute, how rude of me, I expect most of you haven't got the foggiest idea of what I'm talking about, have you Jay? Running is this thing like walking, just faster. Least it's supposed to be. I haven't really worked it out yet.

Now I just want to warn you, because you'll get alot of people, people like Scott Burnet - you know, science types with clip boards and a head full of crazy ideas. They'll try and tell you that 'running' is good for you. Now I'm all for puking, especially on Saturday & Sunday mornings. I've been doing it for years & years. Spending all my hard earned money on more & more booze I can scarcely afford let alone handle, then waking up and feeling like total shit.

That's the way I like to puke, alone and hunched down over the toilet bowl with nothing on but a cold sweat. I don't want to be doing it with shorts and trainers on, leaning over the metal railings of the kiddie's park, puking my ring up on the tarmac in front of young mothers, shielding the eyes of their innocent young from a scumbag. No, I've got myself a nice little miserable rut that I've worked bloody hard to nail down over the years.

So go ahead and knock yourself out, try running if you like. When you've finished, you'll feel like you've been on a big night out, just without the fun of the night before.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Don't try this at home

Daredevil Lee Fielder amazed colleagues with a narrow escape from a serious injury at Burridge’s first pre-season training session last night. In front of the rest of the squad, long term injury absentee Fielder, performed a stunt that had some Burridge players looking on in a state of total disbelief. With utter disregard for his safety, Fielder actually kicked a man-size leather football and somehow managed to walk away from the incident unscathed.

How Fielder has been able to live to tell this tale is a mystery. He’s tried such elaborate stunts before and they’ve ended badly. Doctors have diagnosed the problem, giving Lee a series of exercises that take all of five minutes per day to complete. But what with Lee’s busy schedule he’s been unable to get round to doing these.

Blessed with the taunt physique of a shop floor mannequin, but the knees and ankles of an arthritic donkey, Lee has not played many more games than David Busst over the last couple of years. When you consider that Buust packed playing in after snapping in two while playing for Coventry over ten years ago, you suddenly get the picture.

What with these things usually coming in threes, Burridge are now wondering if Greg Baker can go more than two minutes without telling anyone with a vagina that he's done a lot, and I mean a lot, of charity work with children, really sick ones who will almost certainly die. Or that Mark Sanderson may actually have sex. Although it's reported that Burridge are too preoccupied with this miracle at the moment. An unnamed source said, "It was amazing." Before continuing, "I’ve never seen anything as exciting as seeing a twenty-eight year old man kick a football without dying."

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Let's get Physical....

Pre-season training starts on Tuesday 29th July. Last year Burridge trained down at Osbourne Road in Warsash, near to Burridge manager Pete Lyons' house. He's since moved to Hamble and the new training location's yet to be disclosed, although it's been reported that Pete has a reasonably sized garden for a five a side, after the squad have gone through their paces going up and down his stairs.

In the meantime, sometime Burridge right-back Jay Schwodler arranged for a gentle kick about at Burridge, kicking off at 7pm tomorrow night. Big Manchester United fan Jay said ,"It'd be good to have a kick about before the serious business begins."

This coincides with the Euro 2008 semi final, where Turkey take on Germany, but many Burridge players have already claimed not to be interested in the tournament. Afterall it's only a once in every four years tournament when the cream of Europe play for the pride of their country in shirts without sponsors, but people are busy, doing.....stuff.

And anyway, England aren't involved. Which is true, it is a semi-final. England haven't been involved in one of those for twelve years. Burridge will welcome back Lee Fielder, who's had a busy summer rearranging his Facebook page. Lee's been working hard taking photographs of himself, striving for moody poses that best make him look like a homosexual. The results have been good. He's hoping to double his appearances of the last couple of seasons and maybe play three games in 2008/2009. Also coming back to Burridge are Rich Allan and maybe even Kev Wiltshire, or if we're really lucky Kev Willsher. Shit, let's push the boat out, has anyone got Dave Gurd's number?

Sunday, 15 June 2008


It appears to be your round, but look, you've lagged behind. Yapping away, forgetting to tip that lager down you neck. They're laughing, laughing at you. You'll show them. Open that gullet and down the hatch. The whole bloody lot. Drown out the dark days of Michelmarsh, two-nil up, when second place was in the palm of your hand. Later, you'll sit watching the Czechs collapse against Turkey on television, knowing all too well the contours of Peter Cech's tears. But now you're not really sure whether there was a change of venue. A change of drinks too. Perhaps an altercation with a kebab, then the cold soft pillows of concrete. But that's all later.

Right now it’s just gone nine at the Bugle Inn in Botley, Hampshire. The Fosters pump’s taking a right hammering as Burridge fill the restaurant side of the bar for their annual awards ceremony. Team gaffer Pete Lyons is stood in the conservatory with the mic in his hand, about to name the player’s player of the year. Looking down his glasses into a crumpled page of scribbled notes, saying it’d been a really tight ballot this year and that he’d had to get in touch with Birksy, who’s gone out to start a new life in Australia, for the deciding vote.

“He scored what turned out to be the goal of the season down at Netley,” said Pete about the winner. “Even the ref commented on what a fine goal it was.”

This made it crystal clear to a well oiled crowd that Kristian Hewitt had won. Up he stepped. His thick set hugged by a blue polo shirt, unbuttoned to reveal a clutch of chest rug. After shaking Pete’s hand firmly, he lifted a wooden shield, far too big for any reasonable mantle piece to cope with, high above his head with both hands. Later on by the jukebox, he asked if I’d voted for him, as the newly added silver emblem that carried his name shined brightly off the lights. I lied, telling him I had, when I’d actually voted for Justin Newman, who won the manager’s player of the year. Ryan Jones got the clubman award.

Other than Sam Schwodler, who was busy doing his one man propaganda act, telling anyone with ears that he was top goalscorer as any man who's been down the pub all afternoon tends to do, the night was strangely absent of any wild claims of title challenges or cup runs. Burridge will face newly promoted Redbridge in the coming season. So it'll be another visit to Green Park in what promises on your Mother's life to be a full on game of fuck you, shouted out in big bold capital letters from the rooftops of Redbridge Towers. We also welcome back the derby with Burridge Sports, which is always a spicy little number. Referees usually get themselves down WH Smiths prior to game because they tend to get through alot of pencils. Sports did us twice with ease back in the 2005/06 campaign, so we owe them one.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Look at his face.....

A bird of prey soars high in the open blue heavens. Its telescopic vision pinpoints a disturbance in the scrubland over a hundred feet below. In no time at all it swoops downwards, snatching a rodent away in its sharp yellow talons. A devastating attack performed with clinical speed. Not on reflection how you’d describe Burridge skipper Kristian Hewitt. Not on appearance anyway.

At 28, Hewitt is a thick set man with a barrel chest, who deprives the world of a head full of curls with a monthly appointment at the hairdressers. Their clippers shorn his scalp, leaving a length of hair closely rivalled by the growth of his beard, that sprouts thickest in the moustache.

A non practising goalkeeper, who you might see putting another fifty pence piece into the slot of the quiz machine at the Bugle. Wiping the bristles above his lip with the back of his hand, that have become wet after the first sip of another pint of Fosters. They, along with his arms are tanned from ten years cutting the greens at East Horton Golf Club. All the time wondering what the capital of Nicaragua is.

Come match day the elastic waste band of Burridge’s shorts are spared the weight of his paunch, that’s held in by a black back brace, tied around his waste with velcro. Hidden within this posture lies the destructive power of ten tigers. His eyes are on goal within forty yards. The studs of his standing foot planted firmly in the turf, the other cutting through the air like a switchblade, meeting the ball with the cross hatched laces of a black leather size eight Nike.

To get an idea of what it’s like to see Hewitt in action, you’d do worse than looking at one of my favourite pieces of archive footage from the seventies. Franny Lee is back at Maine road with Derby County, wriggling along a brown grey surface in a shirt from the shelves of Oxfam, shooting at goal. Off he runs. Both hands in the air like he’s found Jesus, not the top corner of the net. “Look at his face,“ says commentator Barry Davies. “Just look at his face.“ It’s just how Kristian Hewitt celebrates a goal. Now, about to embark on his eleventh season for Burridge, many look forward to the next time he’s in range to strike.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Quids in

I’ve been playing football for bloody ages. Twenty years actually. And one thing I know is that ten is no age for a goalkeeper. Back then the poor sods wore those crappy little gloves with the rubber grips sewn on. Despite the fact that most of them stood at four feet and dressed in outfits better suited to tending azaleas, they still got ideas way above their station.

I remember one pissing around in the mud at Weston Lane. Once he started pushing the ball along with his palms I knew I was quids in. After picking his pocket and dribbling as far as the goal line I realised that an open goal wasn’t enough. Not for me. So I stopped, got on my hands and knees and nodded it in. Some of my team mate’s Dads said my behaviour was unprofessional. I assumed by that they meant I’d scored the greatest goal of all time and accepted their congratulations.

But in twenty years playing football I haven’t won anything, not a sausage. Unless you count a subsidiary cup six-a-side winner’s medal for Botley at Crestwood school in, oh, 1992. When some wise sage saw fit to pencil my name down for the fifth spot kick in the penalty shoot-out, that thank fuck I never had to take on account of the opposition, who just so happened to be Mansell, being about as effective from the spot as Kerry Katona in giving anyone a stirring in the trouser. No, at Burridge it’s always been more about lifting pints than cups.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Soccer Skills with Jay Schwodler

On Saturday 7th June, joint hosts Switzerland play the Czech Republic at St Jakob Park in Basel, in the opening game of the 2008 European Championships. England will not play in this tournament. They did not qualify. Many of the so called experts say that English players just don't have the technique to play at the highest level. Well, take a look at this footage of Burridge right-back Jay Schwodler during reconnaissance in France, and you'll see quite clearly that they're absolutely right.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Last Night

Mark Reeves stands at about 5’10” with closely cropped fair hair and something in latin tattooed in blue ink on his left fore arm. If you ask him nicely he might tell you what it means. He might not. Business is good for Reeves these days, but he earns his money. Sixteen others from Burridge sat down with him to eat at La Cantina on Friday night. Most of them slugging house red out of little glass buckets in-between downing San Miguel, poured into pint glasses from litre bottles. All chattering about the season just gone, about finishing in fourth place, about Kristian Hewitt’s goal against Netley on a warm August evening, about the barmaid at the Bugle who pulled their pints come quarter to five on a Saturday afternoon after a game, about her cleavage. But mostly they were drinking. Drinking to get drunk. Not Reeves. He had work tomorrow. He always worked Saturdays, so he took it easy with a Coruna while he waited for his Fajitas to be bought out by the waitress, who looked just like Pocahuntas. If you go down to Margherita’s on Town Quay you’ll see his work. That’s where we all went later.

Reeves exchanged a nod with the doorman, walked through the French windows at Margherita’s, turned to me and said with a shrug, “They still haven’t paid me.” People smoked cigarettes outside on the waterfront under an enormous marquee roof that covered a long rectangular plinth of decking. Its perimeter partitioned by glass panels, held up by vertical stainless steel frames screwed into the wooden floor at eight foot intervals, with a hollow steel rail as shiny as marble sitting neatly welded on top. A two man job that Reeves had done. The seven grand invoice still awaiting payment. I was sipping a Margarita out of a champagne coupe that Sam Schwodler had given to me. “Nah, you ’ave it,” he said shaking his head. “It’s fucking ’orrible, mate.” His brother Bryn hadn’t arrived yet. He’d spent most of the meal smiling through gritted teeth as Sam kept trying to fill his glass with wine. He couldn’t drink, not tonight. His girlfriend was due to give birth any day now. He couldn’t risk it. She’d kill him.

Justin Newman had organised the whole thing. Dressed in a light pink angora sweater, he stood talking to one of the doorman. He didn’t know where Bryn was either. They’d been delayed. Burridge manager Pete Lyons had taken the front passenger seat of Bryn’s Mazda six estate. His elder brother Jay, Burridge captain Kristian Hewitt and Lee Fielder sat in the back. Sixteen year old Rob Kelly joined the golf clubs, a jerry can and a pair of Nike Football boots, earth still clinging to the rubber studs, in the trunk. Bryn pulled out the of multi-story knowing that Margheritas’ was only a mile away. A long way with a car load of drunks. Waterloo road is a short one way street that leads to the multi-story car park that Bryn drove up the wrong way and attracting blue lights of a near by police car.

As Bryn pulled over and wound down his window, while Fielder and Hewitt banged their fists on the back seat, telling Rob to shut the fuck up. The policeman leant in the vehicle asking Bryn if he knew he was going the wrong way up a one way street and had he been drinking and making him to take a breathalyser test. Questions to which he answered calmly, all the time hoping to God they didn’t decide to open the boot of the car. Pete Lyons, 52, married to Bryn’s mum, got out the car, trying to explain that Bryn hadn’t been drinking, but his best intentions were lost in translation and blurred by drink. Within another ten minutes they’d joined the rest of us in Margherita’s, which doesn’t close ‘til three in the morning, but with reserves flagging and the hour past midnight many of the squad began to disappear to kebab houses and taxi ranks.

Thanks to Justin Newman. Not just for wearing a pink sweater, but for organising a night out which not only managed to keep all seventeen people together in two venues, but one that everyone seemed to enjoy.

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...