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)