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.