Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Shadowlands

The case is closed, the police no longer have the area cordoned off, and thankfully there was no need for the magistrate's court. Any rumour of large sums of money resting in Burridge player's offshore accounts after Saturday's painful defeat were soon quashed. Although if anyone out there's offering I'm all ears. After a difficult week for all involved it is now safe for Burridge players to leave the house without fear of recriminations from Joe Public, accusing players of having no bottle. This is mainly due to the fact that apart from Paul Dyke, who is a bonafide celebrity after appearing on not only South Today, but also the Beeb’s Newsnight after the much publicised Ginger-gate fiasco, none of the Burridge players are famous. Let's be grateful for that, pushing our trolleys down the aisles of Asda (other supermarkets available), that we don't come face to face with disgruntled supporters keen to vent their spleen. That's because our supporters are mainly girls, who don't pretend to know everything about football and thank God for that too.

How Burridge let a two-goal lead slip in the final ten minutes last Saturday afternoon is immaterial. It’s all in the past, much like a holiday abroad with the lads. And to think it was ten years ago I jetted off to Magaluf, almost na├»ve enough to believe I might get some of the action everyone who’d been there before said I would. Closest I ever got was while standing in a darkened corridor outside the toilet of some ropy bar, waving my fist at a condom machine. The blighter was more than happy to swallow my pesetas, but not so forthcoming in coughing up any merchandise. Burridge skipper Kristian Hewitt always says something along the lines of a pack of three being as much use to me as another bucket of Tequila Sunrise to (Burridge expat) Scott Burnet after dark on any given day of that fortnight. Won’t be long now before Scott is married. We can at least look forward to the Stag-do, and more importantly Saturday’s game, which is a chance to bounce straight back to winning ways.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Burridge AFC 2-3 M&T Reserves

Saturday 23rd February

Yes, they're footprints on the roof of my car. Size nine baseball boots if I'm not mistaken, and that's not all. The perpetrator - no doubt using their index finger - had wiped away the grime from the roof of my Peugeot 405 and emblazoned in bold capitals the word, 'COCK.' No matter. Yes, great plumes of smoke are emitted from the exhaust every time I turn the ignition, the door locks have a mind of their own and now it's being used as a public right of way, but it gets me from A to B and when all's said and done that's all that matters.

Burridge understand that principle all too well. They had all the components at their disposal to see off M&T and get the three points they needed to get some kind of stranglehold on second place. M&T were held prisoners in their own half during the first forty-five minutes, Jamie Hewitt made it one-nil and mid way through the second half younger brother Sam made it two. There was not a shred of evidence from the game that the final ten minutes would become so painfully inexplicable for Burridge.

The box seat was Burridge's, they were in control, they could put daylight between themselves and Netley in third place. Nothing to worry about. But, many a battle has been lost in the head. Were these dizzy heights affecting Burridge? Maybe their collective unconsciousness could not accept this new position of control, and with that absence of worry began rooting through their minds looking for it as if maybe it was hidden under the sofa or behind the curtains. This process in itself can only whip up the biggest monster of them all - self doubt.

This game was best represented by the United States of America in 1961. Honest tax paying citizens, eating TV dinners from trays on their laps, obediently watching game shows from the television sets of the lounge of their houses that occupy the hundreds of tree lined streets of America. Things are going so well. It's two nil to Burridge. The U.S are conquering space. There's so much cause for optimism. Promotion here we come. They'll be man on the moon.

It's all too much for John F Kennedy, it's all too much for Burridge. Giving Marilyn Monroe one over his presidential desk in the White House, off his tits on prescribed barbiturates, only a reach away from the big red button, from a nuclear war, and he knows he shouldn't, but by God he wants to press it, but no, he mustn't. M&T score. Where did that come from? JFK has his brains blown out in Dallas and now a penalty kick for handball, but from whom? The fist of a defender from the grassy six yard box, that's who.
What now? Time running out, panic setting in, that lovely red button looking so appealing and whoosh, it's pressed. The wheels are in motion. Two missiles, one for Cuba and one for those commie swine in Moscow's Red Square. Here they come. Foul play by Kristian Hewitt (pictured above) - red card. Sam Hewitt tells the referee in no uncertain terms what he thinks of the decision and bang, he's off. The red card fills the grey skies of which it is held upon like some mushroom cloud. We have lost men. We have conceded a free kick. It is sent to the back post and even before a head meets it, its destination is clear. The net bulges. It is 3-2. It is a war in Vietnam that cannot be won. Hope and optimism have been replaced by sorrow and misery untold. Burridge will have to start again. Everything will have to start again.

3-5-2: Jones, M.Sanderson, K.Hewitt(c), Kelly, S.Schwodler (L.Sanderson), Newman (Dyke), Reeves, Baker, J.Hewitt, B.Schwodler, S.Hewitt















Thursday, 21 February 2008

Nameless

Michelmersh and Timsbury drive south down the M27 to face Burridge this Saturday afternoon. No doubt dressed in their familiar gold and black halved jerseys, that conjure up images – in my mind at least – of that bygone era of Royal Engineers and Old Etonians. M&T are no mugs though. Yes, they may be struggling a bit, but they don’t get trounced. Freemantle did them four-zip back in October, but that, as many of us can testify to is no disgrace. It was one each last time on a heavy pitch. It'll be heavy again on Saturday, last week's game with Freemantle saw to that. Not that you'd tell from the picture above, no it's not centre court it's Burridge. Our very own private pitch and oddly no name for it.



I mean think about it, I know alot of players moan about the state of it come November time, some even leave to be substitutes at rival clubs, but it's our very own private pitch and nothing. Have another look at the picture and think back to all those memories. Kristian Hewitt shuffling past four Netley defenders on his way to a Weah-esque goal, brown envelopes found in Dave Hopkins' locker after throwing in his net in the ninetieth against Malvern, or Justin Newman blowing out his backside on any given Saturday. This vast kaleidoscope of memories and no name for the place where so many of them happen. I've finished my cheese sandwich, still can't think of one, any ideas?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

In The Cold Light of Day

The month of June was only four days away but the curtains were drawn to shut out the thunderstorm outside. I didn’t care. As long as I could watch the European Cup Final, I was happy. I watched Barca beat Sampdoria in last season’s final in my bedroom, but had decided that this season’s big game deserved a showing in the lounge. Marseille were still a goal up after eighty minutes, but I knew Milan would score. It was going to happen any minute, I was certain of it. Jean Pierre-Papin would arrive at the back post and AC Milan would be level, but they never did. So it was Marseille who won the 1993 European Cup Final, which just so happened to be twenty-eight year old Marco Van Basten’s last ever game, showing not only that playing careers can be very short, but even the best teams can lose in the biggest games.

Now the dust has settled on Burridge’s three-zip defeat to Freemantle, we can look to the future. Burridge have to play AFC Hop, Durley and Michelmarsh at home , as well as going to Comrades and Bishopstoke, and it's only really they who can offer a genuine threat, with former Tranmere goal bodger Stuart Barlow up front. With the kind of centre-halfs turning out in this league, I'll give him five years before he's been hacked to death and living on yesterday's reputation. Nothing wrong with that though, many an England player over the years has made a decent career out of that.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Burridge AFC 0-3 Freemantle

In Fight Club Ed Norton is a pen pusher. He’s obviously got a good job though because his flat’s dead nice with all high spec stuff. If resident Burridge carpenter Jay Schwodler went round to inspect the skirting board, he’d no doubt notice that all the doors had been hung spot on and all the kitchen units were really high quality stuff, but we know that because Ed Norton’s character’s got a good job as a pen pusher.

Does Norton just carry on with his piece of piss job, so he can buy loads of decent stuff he can boast to girls about, who’ll come back and have sex with him, like most of the Burridge lads would do? No, because that would be a rubbish film and it would be called the Greg Baker story. Where a little podger loses weight, then shags girls and learns to header on the way. Rather than realising that men who work in offices have it easy, starring at girls all day and looking at the internet, Norton longs for man’s return to a role as a hunter gatherer. He meets Brad Pitt on a plane and starts a club that you’re not allowed to talk about, but the jist is they beat the crap out of each other to get their frustration out in post apocalyptic vision of the future.

It gets quite complicated and you could spend many hours discussing the various sub plots and performances of the actors, but in a nutshell you could review Fight Club in one line by saying: office worker gets hump with job and starts fighting men for pleasure. Burridge played table toppers Freemantle this Saturday and you could be drawn into a long winded debate about missing players, indifferent refereeing and a terrible cut up playing surface. Or you could just say Burridge got the right run-around on a muddy pitch by Freemantle. It was simple as that. When Freemantle attacked they did so with a purpose from back to front, with players who could dribble, take on their man, and play quick passes.

For Burridge it was a case of all hands on deck, as they tried to stem wave after wave of attack. It was only one-nil at half time when Freemantle scored after another quick counter attack, but Burridge had been made to work hard to keep it at that and Freemantle showed no signs of letting up in the second half. They wanted to kill this game off and kill it off they did. Firstly with another breakaway, the ball had struck the underside of Ryan Jones’ crossbar, but a Freemantle attacker followed in, the third coming from a header at a set piece. The game was up. Burridge can still claim second place, but by goodness there’s some work to be done with some tough games still to come.

3-5-2: Jones, Kelly, K.Hewitt(c), M.Sanderson, B.Schwodler, Newman, Reeves, Baker, J.Hewitt, Hutton (S.Schwodler), S.Hewitt

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Freemantle Preview

About this time every year winter gives way to spring and it starts getting lighter, and every year I'm always surprised by this, as though it's a new and exciting phenomena I've completely forgotten about. Which it is. A bit like Lee Fielder playing ninety minutes. There are other things that are much harder to forget though, like shipping seven goals at home to Locksley back in 2003, or going in at half-time five down to Northend at Botley Rec, not to mention remembering that you said, "I don't think we played that bad," in the pub after a seven-one tonking from AFC Bassett at Cutbush Lane. The kind of results that happen before Christmas, putting paid to any realistic chances of Burridge getting promotion.

So here we are in mid February with Southampton Senior Division leaders Freemantle due to visitor Burridge this Saturday afternoon, and guess what? The season hasn't petered out
to a nice relaxing mid-table finish. No. Instead the hosts find themselves in the box seat for second place. What happened? Well, they stopped getting whooped for one. Their heaviest defeat being 4-2 at home to Comrades. They will be missing three members of their back line though. Keeper Ben Stanfield is in Florida, left-back Luke Sanderson is working, while right back Jay Schwodler is out for the season after breaking his arm last Saturday.

With any luck Freemantle will have the cigars out, as they are country miles ahead of the pack. I doubt it though. The Freemantle pub's not the worst boozer around, but nearby Shirley high-street's got a few dodgy ones, and sides from that neck of the woods have always got a few midfielders who can mix it. So have Burridge. Mark Reeves and Justin Newman have seen it all before a hundred times, so that won't be a factor. There's no previous, the two teams have never met, so all there's left to do is look forward to what should be an eventful game.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Send it Long

Matt Birks is a mechanic. Last season I broke his ribs at football training. It was an accident. We were having our customary three-touch game on the astro-crumb pitch at Wildern School. I attacked a right wing corner at the near post making a solid connection with my knee right into Birksy’s ribs. I remember the sound of him gasping for breath as he lay on the ground. Other players surrounded him in a pitch-side vigil, some turning a glance to me with cold empty eyes, as if there was intent on my part.

I don’t know how long he was off work. He didn’t reply to my texts. Must’ve changed his number. I know, I should’ve phoned, but how was the conversation going to go?

"Alright Birksy, how are you?

"Not bad."

"How’s work? Changed any sprockets of late? "

"No. I’m signed off at the moment, what with the broken ribs."

I see.

When he came back to train a few months later I made sure I kept my distance. He’s flying to Australia to in a few weeks, to live. I’ve changed now. No bookings, no petulance, no whining at referees. There’s defending to be done. Which is still a much-misunderstood part of the game. If you travel around the council pitches of Hampshire to watch a match, it shouldn’t be too long before you see a defender whacking a ball skywards, its exact destination unknown other than very far away and with any luck a neighbouring garden.

Such action has been greeted recently with cries of, "HOOF," from some of the opposition. You know, the kind who wear their socks up over their knees and wouldn’t track back even on the promise of a free back, sack and crack and half an hour under the sun bed at the local tanning solarium. As though clearing one’s lines is some kind of degrading proletarian wage slave labour act that Karl Marx never got round to fully explaining in Das Kapital. All quite beyond the opposing bourgeois midfield, who would’ve no doubt pulled the ball out of the air with their brand new kangaroo skin cleats, before lolipopping their way to the opposing goal, if could they be arsed.

This has brought about a new breed of defender who thinks he’s a bit tasty, and able to send sixty-yard balls on the crowned head of a fifty pence piece. This isn’t just silly, it’s dangerous. Defenders - know your limits! There’s nothing quite as beautiful as giving it the big heave-ho into a nearby garden. Thinking of knocking one back to your ‘keeper? Think again. He’s only going to slice it out for a throw in, which may as well be a corner when the full-back with the long ‘un takes aim. Take enjoyment in what you do best and follow the Franny Benali code:

Send it HIGH, Send it LONG, Send it NOW.

And remember defenders, there’re always new forwards to rile and new challenges to meet. What’s that? An oncoming centre forward’s looking to receive his one-two on the volley? Not on my watch, soldier – HOOF! I’ve landed in a garden. HOOF! I’ve sent it into a nearby stream. HOOF! You beauty, it’s smashed into the windscreen of an Audi TT.

I remember my favourite hoofings, Tim Flowers with the ball in his hands and the Milton Road end of the Dell at his back. Bouncing that glistening Mitre Delta once, twice, three times, then a look to the right and a look to the left, followed by a further three bounces and HOOF! Should that ball have cleared the Archers Road end I wouldn’t have grumbled, not with Kerry Dixon and David Speedie up front.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Hythe Aztecs 0-2 Burridge AFC

Saturday 9th February
Claypits Lane, Hythe

How times change, and how they continue to change.

I spent Sunday afternoon at a friend's house.

From his lounge I looked out the window over the Itchen River to reflect on Burridge's two-nil win away to Hythe Aztecs, their third win on the bounce. It was at this moment my friend bought me a cup of tea - white with none - and with it what I momentarily mistook for a biscuit tin, that on closer inspection was in fact a shoe box. Size eleven Adidas.

When I took off its lid to examine its contents I found something better than any Jammy Dodgers. Better than chocolate Hob Knobs. Better even than Tunnock's Teacakes, those beauties that come dressed in the red and silver foil wrapping. The shoe box was filled with paper cuttings from the Southampton Sports Echo spanning some two decades. I picked up a copy of a Sports Echo that grabbed my attention. It was from April 2003. Saints had beaten Watford at Villa Park in the FA Cup Semi Finals. Burridge on the other hand laid second to bottom in Senior Divison Two.

I took another look out the window, this time beyond the banks of the Itchen, to St Marys, that modern stadium we thought would take us to new and exciting places. Not Scunthorpe away in the Championship. How times have changed.

Burridge now sit in second place in the Southampton Senior League. In years to come, maybe Burridge players will look back to this particular time, when training sessions were well attended, more games won than lost and a genuine chance of promotion lay within their grasp. Welcome to the good old days! That is unless your name is Jay Schwodler. The Burridge right-back may have reason to call the Guinness Book of Records after being substituted with barely a minute of play on the clock. If there's been an earlier substititon I've forgotten it. A bone in his arm is broken and he'll need an operation to pin it. We wish him well.

Burridge had taken to the field dressed in their all red away kit and started this game slowly. (Why does that happen?) Once the seasoned veteran midfield pairing of Mark Reeves and Justin Newman got going there was no stopping them snarling away in the middle, while Bryn Schwodler and Jamie Hewitt found time and space on the flanks, giving Burridge a solid foundation on which to build on. Jamie Hewitt is the eldest of the three playing Hewitt brothers, and can often be seen shrugging moodily during play like some French pantomine villain, until he receives the ball, when he has the ability to sidestep challenges with minimal effort, and it was from the right flank that Burridge gained the lead.

It was Ben Hutton who provided the impetus, driving down the right flank and crossing low for Sam Hewitt, who met the centre on the volley in a manner that Mark Hughes would have been proud, sending the ball low past the keeper's right. 1-0.

Burridge continued to toil during the second half. Hythe too. The second goal came late, killing the game dead. Mark Reeves struck low and hard from out the box, his shot hit the base of the post. His second woodwork hitting in three games leads me to ask what the boy's putting on his Cornflakes these days. Sam Schwodler was first in the queue to side foot in the rebound. 2-0. Leaders Freemantle are up next for Burridge.

4-4-2: Stanfield, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt, M.Sanderson, J.Schwodler (Kelly), J.Hewitt, Newman, Reeves, B.Schwodler (Baker), S.Hewitt, Hutton (S.Schwodler)

Thursday, 7 February 2008

All Over the Pitch

I was in the kitchen when the telephone rang.

It was Wildern Leisure Centre.

Burridge's Wednesday night training session was off.

"Why," I asked.

"Shit all over the pitch."

All over the pitch? I beg your pardon? Yes, I know Burridge let a two goal lead slip against Netley back in October, but these things happen. I mean, look at Paolo Maldini. He may well have stacked up Scudetto after Scudetto, not to mention five European Cup winner's medals with AC Milan, but even he must wake up in the wee small hours of the night, knowing that he captained an AC Milan eleven that surrendered a three-nil lead in the European Cup Final, against a side that included Djimi Traore.

To the tune of Blame it on the Boogie:

Don't blame it on the Hamman,
Don't blame it on the Finnan,
Don't blame it on the Biscan.
Blame it on Traore

The days of Burridge turning up to games half-arsed, putting in tackles weaker than a can of Tesco tin lager have long gone. Their last thrashing was by seven goals at the hands of Team Solent, fit young men from Solent University who would undoubtedly go onto bigger and better things than the Southampton Senior League. At least that's what Burridge hoped. Had they been walloped by park football journey men, then their performance could well be described as shit all over the pitch.

They did in fact turn in such a performance a week or so earlier against the similarly named AFC Solent. Going down six goals to two at the Lion's den that is Millbrook's Green Park, against men who'll no doubt go onto the same thing, against the same players, in the same league, forever. By now I seemed to have lost the young lady on the other end of the line. She explained that the site engineer had been called out to look at the pitch. Turns out there was a burst sewer pipe.

A misunderstanding. What I thought was an accusation was in fact a courtesy call. It's just when she said, 'Shit all over the pitch,' well - it hit a nerve, maybe because there were home truths buried in there. I mean we've got a lad playing centre of the park, he does his best, but if he was a horse he'd have been glue years ago. I'm not going to name names, but I'm not talking about Jamie Hewitt.

Burridge have become a tougher nut to crack these days though. Why that is, I really don't know. Let's hope they carry whatever it is into Saturday's game at Hythe Aztecs.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Hythe & Dibden Reserves 0-1 Burridge AFC

Saturday 2nd February

Three large men sat in the Bugle watching England play Wales in the opening game of the Six Nations. Burridge forward Sam Hewitt saw to it that they watched England's collapse elsewhere, after demanding that the juke-box he'd already chosen songs from was turned on. Oasis played loudly over the BBC's commentary. The largest of the three men's complaint was ignored, so they left, as Noel Gallagher sung about being tired and sick, and having a habit he couldn't kick.

Lyrics not to be lost on Sam Schwodler.

Try as he might, Schwodler couldn't ignore the sound of pound coins being spat out of the fruit machine behind him. The mystery punter took a sip of his pint and pocketed his winnings, saying, "Not bad for a quid," which caused the Burridge lads sat at the bar to fall about laughing, seeing as they'd all seen Sam put about forty quid down it five minutes earlier.

"Don't give a fuck," said Schwodler. "Don't bother me," but his protests were made through gritted teeth. It was a costly lesson. Bad enough Schwodler's loot being down the swanny, but finding its way into another man's pocket a few minutes later from a speculative quid was hard to swallow. It's difficult to imagine how his elder brother Jay would have coped with that kind of loss after demanding that their other brother Bryn stay for another drink after Jay'd shelled out eleven pounds forty-seven on the previous round.

That same fruit machine reminded me very much of today's game. During the first half Burridge cut Hythe to pieces, but time after time they shot wide or over the crossbar. They went in at half-time only a Bryn Schwodler goal up having to shoot up the slope in the second half. A slope thats gradient seemed to increase with the passing of time.


The defining moment of the game came when Hythe's captain danced into the penalty area and struck low to Burridge sticksman Stanfield's right, who showed all a good firm wrist. Or what's known in the game as a chocolate wrist, by tipping the ball onto the post. The velocity of the strike demanded the very strongest of chocolate wrists.



Chocolate wrist verdict? King size Christmas Toblerone that's not been out the fridge for two days. A C.W.R that I think you'll all agree is unsurpassble in the current climate of confectionery.


Burridge go one point behind second place Netley with a game in hand. The question on everyone's lips is - can Burridge avoid the chokes?

The Burridge Line-up:

4-5-1: Stanfield, L.Sanderson, K.Hewitt(c), M.Sanderson, J.Schwodler, Jones, Newman (Reeves), J.Hewitt, B.Schwodler, S.Schwodler (Baker), Hutton (S.Hewitt)























Friday, 1 February 2008

UNDER THE LIGHTS


Burridge face Hythe & Dibden Reserves in the Southampton Senior League tomorrow afternoon.

There I was thinking, "Two-thirty kick off over in Hythe? Are they mad? It'll be dark," but no, they've got floodlights! Many of the Burridge lads are in their golden years now, or how good old windmill swinging Saints legend Mick Channon would describe as, "Climbing up the glass mountain."

Chelsea's Ruud Gullit (Pictured above) in tangerine and graphite, circa 1995. It looked good with jeans apparently.

Other than the fact that it bored the arse out of me, the main reason for paying no attention during either physics or chemistry lessons at the age of thirteen, was due to the firm belief that their principals would be unnecessary to my footballing career. Back then I thought I'd have earned a move to the continent by now, to maybe Bari - like David Platt, or Marseille - like Chris Waddle. Not sat with a tie round my neck making sales calls in the world of recruitment.

Steve Bull did it. Jamie Redknapp did it too, but when I turned twenty-two I was unsure of being named in Peter Taylor's England Under twenty-one squad. That despite bagging four first half goals in a twenty-one nil win over Marchwood reserves in the Hampshire Cup on an autumn Sunday morning. Yes, alright - they only had nine men, and it appeared their goalkeeper hadn't been told he could use his hands, but four goals is four goals.

I think Lee Bowyer got the benefit of Peter Taylor's doubt alongside Frank Lampard.

Nevermind, the world of recruitment's not so bad. As I write, my work colleagues are talking Championship football, someone's declaring Nathan Ellington as the best player in the division bar none. When the Palace fan to my right states that this is bollocks, he's asked, as is par the course, what he's basing that on and, "You don't know, you haven't played the game."

"How about three years training with Perry Suckling at Palace."

"I don't count that as high level." and then, "I was with St Albans Rangers."

Being a Saints fan I haven't a leg to stand on. The only excitement of late has been the announcement that our kit is going to be made by Umbro, whose diamond logo's not just synonymous with the Man Utd kit with draw strings around the collar, but also classics like Chelsea's tangerine and graphite third shirt, worn by the likes of Jon Spencer and Ruud Gullit, reminded me of more innocent times, when free transfers to Bari didn't seem an impossibility. How Burridge need three points tomorrow.

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...