Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Overdoing it

Half man half biscuit

I left my desk at 5pm sharp today along with any shred of common sense. Dressed appropriately in short trousers I set off to run the 4 and a half miles home, joined only by my back pack, that up until now had enjoyed a friendly relationship with my back, but the two quickly fell out once a walk turned into a run. The tightly fastened straps couldn't prevent the pack from gently bouncing up and down on my shoulders with the consistent rhythmic motion of a couple enjoying a quickie.

After 20 minutes, gallons of hot sweat had breached the nylon fabric of my back pack. Its heavy contents, that included a laptop, a change of clothes, and 2 hardback reference books, were the main reason I was blowing out of my hole. That and a succession of steep hills. And while there are very few things that offer distraction from eyeing up the large number of young sorts passing through the leafy streets of Southampton University's campus, the inability to breathe is one of them.

To the sun kissed innocent bystander, of which there were many, an older man was on all fours, dripping sweat onto the pavement, and summoning all his dwindling resources to suck oxygen into his lungs. Take my advice and next time you go out for a run leave your belongings behind.

High time to click here for a bit of Half Man Half Biscuit with "All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit."


Sunday, 14 June 2009


Is it because I'm ginger?

Paul Dyke's ginger hair got Burridge on national TV in 2007. He wrote 933 cross words in a letter to the Southern Daily Echo, asking what right referee, Mark Rayment, had in using his hair colour as means to verbally abuse him. Rayment had answered Dyke's latest offside appeal by saying, “oi ginger, shut up,” during the second half of Burridge's bad tempered 4-2 defeat at Bishopstoke on 23rd December 2006. Dyke thought he was being discriminated against because of his hair colour. He believed he had an argument. His team mates agreed. Unfortunately for Dyke they agreed with the referee.

Referees have come to expect an earful of abuse during a game. Sometimes worse. 4 years earlier Burridge locked a referee in the changing room. It was for his own safety and once he came round from the right hook thrown by one of the four Orca Marine players he'd already sent off during the first half of an abandoned cup tie, he was smuggled safely outside to his car. Burridge never saw that referee again, while whoever walloped him got two months inside. Incidents like this weren't isolated and the Football Association were forced to react. They put their weight behind a campaign called respect the ref, but Dyke thought that respect was a two way street and that punishment should be dished out to Rayment for what he'd said.

When the Echo ran the story about Dyke's hair on January 6th 2007 the Burridge dressing room was unanimous. Punishment should be swift and severe. And if there was any justice in the world Dyke would never be allowed within 500 yards of a typewriter ever again. The following Monday BBC South Today interviewed Dyke at his flat in Sholing about ginger discrimination, and later that evening BBC's current affairs programme, Newsnight, asked pro ginger lobbyists, Red and Proud, if ginger haired people were discriminated against, before interviewing Paul Dyke while the television pictures showed coverage of him kicking a ball around on his tarmac drive way.

When they cut back to the studio, presenter Gavin Esler's facial expression was that of a man questioning if such items would be broadcast if regular anchor Jeremy Paxman was presenting the show. That or he was appalled at Dyke's attempts to control a football. When the Daily Echo's news desk asked to send a photographer down to Burridge's next game to get pictures of Burridge players wearing ginger wigs there was one player opposed to the idea. “If I had turned up and there had been a photographer there, I would have walked away,” said Dyke. “And then there is no real story.”

Neither Burridge nor Dyke investigated whether or not Rayment was punished by the Hampshire Football Association. Not unless they'd planned for him to choke to death on his tongue. He was playing football for Southampton referees when his head accidentally collided with one of the opposition's shoulders. Down he went, out cold. Had Andy Dine, another referee, not stuck his hand down Rayment's throat and pulled his tongue free, Rayment would have died on the astro-turf at Wide Lane.

2 years have passed since Gingergate. Paul Dyke is still an accountant, but he no longer plays for Burridge, while Mark Rayment hasn't refereed a Burridge game since.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Here we go

Screaming lungs

All that remains of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital is the tall red bricked tower of the chapel that looks out across Southampton's waters to Fawley power station. High running costs caused the hospital to close down 5 years before a fire seriously damaged it in 1963. 3 years later all 138 wards were torn down.

It had been used to treat soldiers who'd been fighting in campaigns like the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, the Tirah campaign in north western India, as well as on the front line during World War I. In 1944 the hospital was under control of the United States Military and over 60,000 American troops who suffered injuries from D-Day and prisoner of war camps were taken there.

Below: Michael Caine - zulus sir, thousands of 'em.

By around 8pm on Wednesday 8th July Burridge would've completed their first pre-season training session at the former hospital grounds in Netley. The bodies of 20 men will be bent double gasping for air, wishing that the hospital still stood in order to give them the urgent medical treatment that they will doubtless require for exhaustion. Manager Pete Lyons sent out a text at noon on Saturday confirming the pre season start date, requesting that players bring their stamina. A St John Ambulance and some sturdy breathing apparatus wouldn't go amiss either.

The Burridge squad 09/10 to begin training at 6:30pm at Royal Netley Victoria Country Park on Wednesday 8th July are:

1.Rich 'Chinese-Monkey' Allan age 32
2.Paul Andrews age 30
3.Greg Baker (pictured left) age 30
4.Lee Fielder age 29
5.Kristian Hewitt age 29
6.Sam Hewitt age 19
7.Ben Hutton age 25
8.Ryan Jones age 19
9.Marc Judd age 28 or 29 who knows?
10.Me ageless
11.Justin Newman age 36
12.Mark Reeves age 31 or is it 32?
13.Mike Reid 18 or 19?
14.Ben Rowe 26
15.Luke Sanderson 27
16.Bryn Schwodler 30
17.Jay Schwodler 32
18.Sam Schwodler 26 or 27?
19.Kev Willsher 30

Deserters will made to perform an as yet unannounced forfeit without a valid excuse for not making an appearance at Netley.

All we need now is a goalkeeper. Anybody remember that young lad , Ross - who played a few games for us last season?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Message in a bottle

Burridge are still looking for a goalkeeper, but back in 2005 they were looking for anybody who didn't mind spending 90 minutes of their Saturday afternoon running around a field. I decided to step in and taped and stapled a blue A4 advert all over Southampton requesting players to apply to my email. I took refuge in the bunker waiting for what surely was going to be a very high number of responses, but nobody ever did reply. Not one single person. So I resorted to desperate measures and put the ad out onto the Internet.

Finally, Burridge got a reply.....

...."Greetings to you, Emerson. I am also commending you for a job well done. My name is Taiwo-Ogunleye, I am a young healthy young man of 16yrs old who hails from Nigeria. My purpose of sending this mail is to inform you that I have viewed your profile via the Internet and I am interested in joining your youth team.

I played for a local but unregistered club here in Nigeria. However the unavailability of my club to register has really dashed my chances of proving myself as a good player.

SIR, my family are aware of this proposal and they have given me a go-ahead, and infact they are ready to bear all the responsibility toward my progress in the football industries since thay have known me to have an ambition to be a good footballer. I will be very greatful if my proposal to help me join your youth team is favourable considered....."

I await a favourable reply from you sooner.

Thank you
yours faithfully

This was quickly followed by this......

Dear Emerson

..."I went through the website and I am impressed at what I saw which i see as a great and a club for the future, so i will like to send three of my players to your club for a trial and maybe then we can settle other terms. And their age categorically 16/17 year old male from Nigeria, in which they have played in several amateur league competition. So therefore i will be extremely grateful if my offer is being granted favourable consideration...."

your faithful
club secretary

.....3 players! I thought it was only right I replied...

Hello Bolaji,

Lovely to hear from you. Burridge is only a local amateur team in Southampton, we are not professional, we are not even semi professional. In fact I'm not even sure if we're semi semi, if you see what I mean. Anyway, We play in an organised league, but just for fun, although that comes into question at times.

I'm not sure if Easyjet do a last minute flight from Lagos to Southampton, but if you do have to blow all your money on airfare you can always save on accommodation by staying at my place. It's not the Ritz, but I like to call it home.

Send word,

Emerson Marks.

....I never did hear back from Bolaji, and sometimes, maybe when I'm having a nice sit down and a cup of tea, I wonder what he's up to. Wonder if he regrets not getting on that plane. After all, we could have done with those lads that season.

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...