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.