Monday, 31 March 2008

Burridge AFC 4-1 Durley Reserves

Saturday 29th March
Titchfield Rec (because Burridge was waterlogged)

You’re right royally pissed and there’s a girl standing next to you at the bar. She’s waiting patiently to be served. It’s a virtue that’s going to be tested, since you decided to tell her about the time you met Bill Murray at Gatwick airport. He was sat sipping a bottle of Corona when you told him you really liked Ghostbusters and he nodded, like people do when they’re trying to humour simpletons. The girl you’re telling is nodding too because she already knows this story, and it has not become funnier in the twenty minutes since you last told it to her. You wake up in bed the next morning with only a headache. The two twenty pound notes that lined your wallet last night have been reduced to a meaningless handful of two, five and ten pence pieces, that escaped your trouser during the struggle of getting to bed. They litter the sheets like dog shit at Green Park.

Money pissed up a wall, as easy as that.

So when Burridge goalkeeper Ben Stanfield was propositioned, you couldn’t blame him. Wessex leaguers Romsey Town had telephoned him, with the lure of floodlights, spectators and more importantly - a brown envelope full of readies. In his absence Burridge players sat in the home changing rooms of Titchfield Rec, a space unlike the many cramped changing rooms across the city, actually big enough to sit the entire squad. Pete Lyons told them what they already knew, that they would need somebody to go in goal. Volunteers weren’t forthcoming. Most players fixed their eyes on the floor, carefully rolling royal blue socks over their shin pads, wrapping white electrical tape around their ringed fingers, anything than face up to the possibility of ninety minutes trapped mostly within their own penalty area. A position where on some days, the main source of activity comes from retrieving the ball from a thicket of bramble bushes, just to take a goal kick.

Eventually, a voice broke the silence. It belonged to Paul Andrews. Two years ago, when Burridge at times struggled to put out eleven men, he scored nine times. Nobody scored more. If Paul has scored since giving Burridge the lead against AFC Target at the Veracity Ground during the first half of the first game of last season, I can’t remember it. Come to think of it, I do; but pre-season friendlies against Hamble Vets do not count. The goals didn’t dry up for Paul because of form, it was more because of a problematic back. Now here he was, desperate to be involving, throwing his hat in the ring to do his bit for Burridge, just this time in goal.

Out on the field, his six foot four frame looked even larger against a goal frame that the opposition hadn’t seemed to have noticed was a good five inches lower than the set of posts at the other end. Stood inspecting the goalmouth in size twelve Addidas World Cup’s, whose three white stripes had been camouflaged with a thick layer of boot polish. Seldom have I met a man of such height who eats so little; more than happy to see out an afternoon on the couch in front of Octopussy, an episode of Columbo, or whatever it is that ITV see fit to broadcast on a rainy Saturday, with several rounds of Marmite toast, which is often enough to satisfy his hunger ’til Morning.

Andrews’ chance came from a penalty. The referee, (who had earlier booked Justin Newman, for a tackle that Durley spectators had labelled disgusting ) thought Paul Dyke had impeded his marker. Andrews’ stood tall, his shirt sleeves just ever so slightly pulled up his arms, leaving enough space to reveal a wristwatch, that he wasn’t wearing, as it is illegal to do so. I remember pointing this fact out to my P.E teacher Mr Richardson some seventeen years ago. It was during a non Fifa sanctioned game of Five a side in the gym. Now Craig Macfarlane may well have been loathe to remove his calculator watch during that game, but when he caught me with a stray arm in the eye, it proved to me at least, that the rules are there for a reason.

Anyway, back to the penalty. It sort of squirmed under Paul’s grasp. Didn’t matter. Burridge were already two up with goals from Sam Schwodler and Justin Newman. Schwodler had already been booked for saying fuck quite loud when he got his second goal, which he greeted by shouting out more of the swears, as he does. With the referee bringing out his notebook, many including Schwodler, thought he was about to be sent off. The ref said he was just marking the score. What is that? Eleven goals and five bookings for Schwodler, an busy season. Luke Sanderson got a fourth with a long range shot, but many were suggesting it had taken a deflection, because full backs are supposed to celebrate goals rather than saunter back to the half way line, but that’s football, and is that the time. I ought to be going to bed.

4-4-2: Andrews, L.Sanderson, Dyke, K.Hewitt(c), Jones, M.Sanderson (Baker), Newman, J.Hewitt, B.Schwodler, S.Schwodler, S.Hewitt (Kelly)

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Burridge AFC 3-1 AFC Hop

Saturday 22nd March
Meadowside, Whiteley

After signing for Burridge last season Sam Hewitt would have been forgiven for wondering what the Hell he’d gotten himself involved in. His debut was against AFC Solent on Titchfield Rec’s sloped pitch, and after twenty or so minutes things turned ugly. There in the midfield Justin Newman was involved in an innocuous tangle of legs, drawing most of the twenty-two men on the field of play running into a space no bigger than a telephone booth. There they pushed, shoved and threatened each other, while Justin Newman was still pinned to the ground by his opposing number under a sea of knees on the sparsely sprouting grass. Every angry word spat from each twisted face rose high into the atmosphere, as potent as the carbon monoxide spewed from the exhausts of the steady flow of traffic of the A27, that runs parallel to the pitch. But that was a year ago.

There’ve been a few spats since, of course. The day Sam got sent off against Michelmarsh was one. Telling the referee exactly where to get off for sending off his brother Kristian, only seconds earlier. Out it came, that red card, held high once then twice in quick succession. Standing bold against a grey sky like two crimson bullets into the heart of Burridge’s hopes of promotion to the Southampton Premier League. Things don’t always go how you want them to, but they did today.

With Pete Lyons in France, Jay Schwodler - still sidelined with a broken wrist - stood in as caretaker manager. When AFC Hop took a quick lead in the hail and wind of Whiteley, Sam Hewitt wouldn’t have been surprised. It’s been a year. He knows now what he let himself in for. In the penalty area he ran, refusing to be knocked off balance by tetchy defenders, hitting the ball low. Low and fast. The sweet ping of leather hitting steel could be heard as the ball ricocheted in the back of the net.

Then another. The wind and the hail and the narrow pitch weren’t making things easy, but Burridge kept trying to play football. A defensive lapse and Hewitt was clean through, defenders chasing at his ankles made no difference as he side footed in number two. Sam Schwodler made it three late in the second half, before Sam Hewitt was rewarded for his two goals by being pulled off by Jay Schwodler with fifteen minutes to go. This is, if nothing else, proof that Schwodler’s wrist truly is on the mend.

4-4-2: Stanfield, Jones, Dyke, K.Hewitt(c), M.Sanderson, B.Schwodler, J.Hewitt, J.Newman (L.Sanderson), G.Baker, S.Schwodler, S.Hewitt (Kelly)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Freemantle 3-0 Burridge AFC

Saturday 15th March
Green Park, Millbrook

Kristian Hewitt remained on his knees on the edge of the penalty area, beating a clenched fist once, twice, three times into the sodden ground beneath him as he watched a quartet of Freemantle attackers return to their own half for the restart. Burridge had gone a goal behind and Hewitt’s disappointment at this was as visible as the thick streaks of mud clinging to his red stockings. Minutes earlier they were pulled up and folded over just below the knee to reveal three white stripes, each one making the circumference around Hewitt’s calf, but no longer. His attempted sabotage of Freemantle’s scoring attack came from a sliding tackle, leaving his plastic boned shin-guards exposed as if they were Hewitt’s very own musculature.

Burridge went into this fixture with runaway leaders Freemantle hoping to fair better than the three- nil home defeat earlier in the season. The car park at Green Park swelled under the burden of cars that spilled onto the Millbrook streets. The combination of paint stricken steel frames of the nearby swings and the gaping holes in the wire mesh fencing of the recreation ground’s perimeter were sight enough for even an estate agent to call it a day.

Down came the rain in a fine drizzle. In went another Freemantle goal, this time a header at the far post from a free kick from the left. Freemantle went in at half time two goals up, their hands on the title. Burridge put in a lot more heart during the second half, but their efforts did not bring a goal. Freemantle extended their lead to three to nil, their title is won. Second place for Burridge is looking more unlikely by the week. Miserable weather brought additional following normally reserved for pre-season optimism, thank-you to former captain and Hedge-End exile Rich Allan, Kev Willsher, Dave & Chris Hopkins for their support.

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

Unused subs: J.Newman, G.Baker

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Bishopstoke 1-1 Burridge AFC

Saturday 1st March
Eastleigh Rugby Club

The look on Mark Reeves's face said it all. His pursed lips smiled thinly, but his cold blue eyes told another story. He looked up to the clouds, that were too few in number to spoil a cobalt blue sky. It's been, what? Three years now since he first pulled on a Burridge jersey, and in all that time not a single goal to his name. Not until today, at Bishopstoke Rec in the wind, and how it blew. Thing is Reevesy's no goal bodger, he's just been busy doing other stuff, the ugly stuff.

Wearing his fair hair closely cropped and always putting in a solid shift in the Burridge midfield, Reeves scrambles around the field of play, going balls deep into tackle after tackle in size eight Adidas World Cup football boots, and since battling his way back into a starting position after Christmas he's gone damn close to breaking his duck. Firstly, volleying against the crossbar against Inmar, then striking the base of the post from the edge of the penalty area against Hythe Aztecs. So you could say Mark Reeves was due a goal. Just not like this.

As an unwilling accomplice I feel partly responsible. Bishopstoke are younger and faster and they were counter attacking and I was playing at centre half. What with the wind blowing a gale, I'd decided in the warm up to stick to the safety routine I alluded to in an earlier post, by sending it long and sending it high at every opportunity. The ball that is. Although looking back on that previous sentence, I needn't have pointed out the wind, it would've made no difference to my routine. Defenders are there first and foremost to destroy, and that is what I was trying to do.

The questionable weight of - what I hazard a guess at being - a well worn Mitre Delta was played forward into our penalty area. With alarm bells ringing about my ears I strode forward, hoofing the ball with the laced instep of my right foot with all the power I could muster, hoping to find distance and reach safety. On re-entering orbit, I wanted my clearance to land on a railway track or into a field of disagreeable cows. Hell, I wanted it to land on the moon. I did neither. Instead, I drove it into Mark Reeves' taunt buttocks. The left cheek if I'm not mistaken.

With its new wind assisted trajectory in place, the ball sailed high backwards toward goal, and over the head of 'keeper Ben Stanfield into the net. 1-0. I've seen it all now, what were the chances of that? Thank-you, goodnight, why do I waste my time playing this stupid bloody game and is it going to be one of those days. Thankfully not. The second half highlights were mainly giving the referee a verbal what for. Burridge skipper Kristian Hewitt, as is customary these days, got a booking for his troubles, after a bit of afters, that frankly has been rumbling on from the last two games with 'Stoke.

It was left for Sam Hewitt to make amends for last week's early bath. From inside the penalty area he dropped the shoulder, gave a shimmy, and with space he'd bought struck low under the keeper's right hand. The rot has stopped, but Reevesy will want to put this one behind him.

4-4-2: Stanfield, L.Sanderson, M.Sanderson, K.Hewitt (C), Jones, Baker, Reeves, Dyke, S.Schwodler, B.Schwodler, S.Hewitt (Hutton)

Unused subs: J.Hewitt, Andrews.

Scorer: S.Hewitt

Booked K.Hewitt

Looking back (bringing back the blog)

I haven't posted here since 2012 – that’s five years of not blogging. The blog is/was about Burridge AFC, the football team I played f...